The Good: Clever concept, Decent execution
The Bad: Low on character development, No astonishingly good performances
The Basics: When Star Trek: Voyager presents an intriguing spatial anomaly episode, the entire crew wrestles with how to break orbit without destroying a rapidly-aging planet.
Star Trek: Voyager is not known for its creativity. Sad to say, virtually everything about the show – from the character designs up through most of the basic plots, Star Trek: Voyager is a very derivative show. When it comes to spatial phenomenon episodes, Star Trek: Voyager had very few standout episodes that could tie the show to its predecessors. One of the most original episodes of Star Trek: Voyager on the Anomaly Of The Week front has to be “Blink Of An Eye.”
“Blink Of An Eye” has Voyager encountering a doughnut-shaped planet with a tachyeon core that rotates so fast that a second on Voyager is a full day on the planet. This creates a fast-evolving planet that gives Voyager an interesting dilemma and sets up an episode that could have been “The Inner Light” (reviewed here!) for the Emergency Medical Hologram. Unfortunately, while there is a momentary thread in the episode that could have allowed the episode to turn in that direction, “Blink Of An Eye” is nowhere near that character-focused.
Voyager is scanning an incredible and possibly unique planet when it is sucked into the gravitational field of a planet with a tachyeon core. Stuck so, Voyager becomes a third magnetic pole for the planet and as their probes study the planet, they witness the rapid evolution of the planet’s inhabitants. When Voyager tries to break orbit, it finds itself unable to leave the gravitational field and inadvertently destroys many of the buildings on the world. When they receive a transmission from the alien planet, Janeway agrees to send the Doctor down for three seconds (almost three days).
Unfortunately, the Doctor is temporarily lost on the planet and he ends up spending years on the fast-evolving planet. After being recovered, the Doctor has a load of information on how Voyager has influenced the people of the planet. Shortly thereafter, the major state on the planet builds weapons that can reach Voyager. After a manned mission arrives on Voyager, Voyager’s need to leave orbit becomes essential for both the planet and the Voyager crew.
Unfortunately, the amount of time the Doctor is lost on the planet is not significant enough to truly alter his character. Having lived among the people there for three years, the Doctor is not affected as much by his rescue as Captain Picard’s in “The Inner Light.” The Doctor could have been shaken to his core, but is only altered cosmetically for a short amount of time. He alludes to a significant change when interacting with Gotana-Retz (the astronaut from Orbital One), which is, alas, not referenced again. Personally, I think it is cool that the Doctor would develop a way to mate (sadly, it comes an episode too late to help Michael Sullivan and Janeway have a relationship she would consider viable), but that he seems curiously unattached to the offspring he created lessens the novelty of the idea.
“Blink Of An Eye” spends much more time focusing on the scientific problem and the rate of growth among the planet’s inhabitants than it does on Voyager and its crew. On the detail front, the manned mission to space does not simply follow Earth’s evolution (or else the astronauts would have known about the time differential before they reached “the skyship”) and that is a cool idea.
On the character front, “Blink Of An Eye” is almost entirely lacking, save with the Doctor (whose participation is more of a novelty and excuse to introduce elements to the character that are not referenced again) and Chakotay. Chakotay suddenly exhibited an interest in anthropology in “One Small Step” (reviewed here!) and “Blink Of An Eye” maintains that continuity. It is almost like the writers and producers of Star Trek: Voyager realized they had done almost nothing with Chakotay after five years and decided to give him a new trait in the sixth season and nail that character trait home. His interest in the mysterious planet allows him to build upon his sudden interest and continue to forge a relationship with Seven Of Nine that is almost too subtle before it becomes explicit in the series finale.
Guest star Daniel Dae Kim is good in “Blink Of An Eye,” but his first entry into the Star Trek universe is surprisingly minor supporting role. Gotana-Retz is a character who delivers a lot of exposition and information before leaving the ship to try to save Voyager. His character is more a conduit for information than an actual character, but he handles the jargon and the role well.
“Blink Of An Eye,” being so plot-focused, relies upon a plot trick to resolve the episode and it is a compelling (or at least well-executed) resolution. From start to finish, “Blink Of An Eye” is one of the most original episodes of Star Trek: Voyager even if it is so heavily focused on a very basic idea.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Sixth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the penultimate season here!
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© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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