Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chakotay Is Literally Used As A Tool In “The Fight.”

The Good: Interesting concept
The Bad: No superlative character or acting moments, Plot underwhelms
The Basics: In “The Fight,” Chakotay becomes mildly useful temporarily when Voyager gets stuck in chaotic space.

Believe it or not, I actually have no problem with well-established series’ or franchises trying something absurd or radically different from their norm . . . so long as they manage to pull off the change of style they attempt. Sometimes, that actually works – like the disturbing and heavily dramatic episode of M*A*S*H, “Dreams,” or the puppet episode, “Smile Time” of Angel - and sometimes, it is a complete flop, like “Take Me Out To The Holosuite” (reviewed here!), which interrupted the Dominion War arc on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for a ridiculous baseball game. “The Fight” on Star Trek: Voyager is an episode that combines spatial phenomenon and alien of the week stories in a way that does not entirely work.

To its credit, “The Fight” utilizes elements that feel like they could be fresh, but writers Joe Menosky and Michael Taylor simply do not land it. The concept seems to be remarkably similar to “Twisted” (reviewed here!) or “Shattered,” though this episode ambitiously blends the spatial phenomenon with an alien of the week. That blending is less successful than fans might hope.

Opening with Chakotay in Sickbay, begging the Doctor to help him get the voices to stop, it seems that Voyager has become lodged in “chaotic space,” an area where the normal laws of physics do not apply. Flashing back to Chakotay’s holodeck simulation of training for a boxing match as an Academy cadet, where Boothby coached him against an alien, the ship enters chaotic space, which disrupts the whole simulation.

Trapped in chaotic space, Chakotay begins to suffer visual and auditory hallucinations. Those hallucinations appear to be coming from aliens within chaotic space. As a result of a genetic flaw, Chakotay is able to communicate with the resident aliens and Janeway tries to use Chakotay to communicate with those aliens in order to navigate Voyager out of the spatial anomaly.

“The Fight” is rather ridiculous in the hierarchy on Voyager. Seven Of Nine summons Janeway to Astrometrics to provide the exposition on what chaotic space is and it completely nullifies Janeway’s authority (though it does reinforce the idea that Star Trek: Voyager has become “The Seven Of Nine Show.”). Gone are the days when Janeway even comments on the phenomenon or inappropriate tenor to Seven Of Nine’s requests and that makes “The Fight” feel frustratingly lopsided on the character front, in addition to the numerous other issues.

The latter half of the episode is filled with Chakotay experiencing visions of the fight he trained for, his great-grandfather, and Boothby. While I am all for episodes that effectively blend metaphor and literal data, “The Fight” is not successful in the blending. Instead, it’s a lot of Robert Beltran as Chakotay screaming technobabble and visual images that are not at all compelling or even interesting.

In the end, “The Fight” just seems like a cheap excuse to throw in some boxing imagery and have the performers act manic (Harry Kim claiming – in Chakotay’s vision – that Chakotay is his role model – is utterly ridiculous and has no basis in anything actually established by the characters) for Star Trek: Voyager. And it fails as a result.

[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 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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