Tuesday, November 6, 2012

An Interesting Solution To A Compelling Problem Is All That Holds Together “Counterpoint.”

The Good: Interesting concept, Decent characters
The Bad: Poor continuity, Stretched idea.
The Basics: When Voyager encounters a race hostile to telepaths, the viewer gets a “Counterpoint.”

To be fair to Star Trek: Voyager, the writers had a tough task made more difficult by the executive producers’ refusal to present the show as a heavily serialized show. This forced the writers to either write shows dealing with spatial anomalies (because they had no idea whose space the ship would be in when the episode they wrote aired) or write episodes that focused on an Alien Of The Week. By season five of the show, the writers were stretching for compelling ideas for those Alien Of The Week ideas.

“Counterpoint” is one of the more virtuous concepts, but it is such a simple idea that it is hard for the writers to stretch it out into a full-length episode that is at all compelling. Ironically, “Counterpoint” would later be rewritten on Star Trek: Voyager where telepaths were swapped with holograms!

Voyager is passing through Devore space, a race that is exceptionally paranoid about telepaths. Unfortunately for the ship, the frequent inspections by Inspector Kashyk and his team, put Voyager in danger. Voyager’s plight is made worse by the fact that right before entering Devore space, they took on a dozen telepathic refugees. The telepaths left aboard Voyager – and the refugees – are put into the transporter buffers during the inspections. After their latest inspection, the Doctor reveals that Tuvok and two of the refugees are suffering from cellular degradation and cannot continue to be put into stasis in that form.

The situation is complicated when Inspector Kashyk defects. Janeway allows him aboard because he knows about Tuvok and the refugees. Concerned that Kashyk is using her and her crew to find the wormhole that is allowing telepathic refugees to escape, Janeway is guarded and deeply suspicious of the former inspector.

I like the concept of “Counterpoint,” but the explanations and excuses given to prolong the episode make little sense. The inspection teams are treated as a massive threat, but why is not made clear. After all, Kir notes that they cannot read the mind of Kashyk because the Inspectors are specially trained to avoid telepathic scans. If that is the case, the Devore seem to have nothing to fear from telepaths. And if they are not as competent as they claim to be, there seems to be no logical reason why the telepaths could not stand right in front of the inspection teams and telepathically project the appearance of a wall so they go unseen!

Ironically, “Counterpoint” forgets a telepath when the Devore list the telepaths who were supposed to be on Voyager. While they recall the Betazed psychopath killed by the Kazon, they neglect Stadi, the Betazoid helm officer who was killed in the very first episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

To stretch “Counterpoint” to a full-length episode, Janeway and Kashyk enter a pseudo-relationship and it is never quite convincing enough to sell the viewer on even being plausible. Janeway and Kashyk, Kate Mulgrew and guest star Mark Harelik, have less than no chemistry and that sinks the latter half of the episode. Sure, Janeway is sensibly guarded when with Kashyk (save having Tuvok in plain sight in their first meeting after the Devore Inspector defects), but more than the character aspect, it seems an actor issue that these two have no real connection and that makes the relationship aspect not work well.

That said, “Counterpoint” is a decent idea, even if it is executed in a tiresome way seemed designed to prolong the tension that is not genuine.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Fifth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the season here!

For other works with J. Patrick McCormack, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Charlie Wilson’s War
Star Trek: Nemesis
“In The Beginning” - Babylon 5
“Dr. Bashir, I Presume” - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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  1. Hi !

    I just loved this episode. It is to me, one of the highlights of the excellent and best season of Voyager : Season 5 of course.

    You're right when you say that we don't feel any real romantic connexion between Janeway and Kashyk : I saw that too, who couldn't. But I loved the interactions between the two characters nethertheless and the story was decent.

    But really, congratulations about noticing that Lieutenant Stadi wasn't mentionned as a part of their crew : waouh she was on episode one and you remembered her ! Incredible.

    I know most of Voyager's episodes by heart now because I must be at my 6 or 7th viewing of the show maybe because it's my favorite Star Trek show ever and I love it but that goof didn't even crossed my mind ! Kudos for that !

    1. Thank you for the high praise! I admire works where the writers and producers are attentive to such things and it always disappoints me when the "Star Trek" franchise does not hire an actual fan to fact-check their own internal stuff. I recall having a little argument with a renowned "Star Trek expert" who argued with me about what was on one of the trading cards - it was a blurry motion card from "Timescape" of the moment the runabout enters the energy stream and explodes. He vehemently asserted that it was a shuttlecraft, not a runabout . . . because the script he read for the episode had said "shuttlecraft." Well, clearly between the script he read and committed to memory and the actual production of the episode, it had been changed because the footage in the episode is clearly a Runabout! But, my point here is that the "Star Trek experts" that Paramount sends around to represent them aren't even watching the show! As a result, things like this happen and those of us who do watch the show tend to catch them!

      As for Janeway and Kashyk, it's unfortunate there is no on-screen chemistry between the pair; the episode lacks a convincing quality for me because it always seems like they are just playing one another.

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!