Thursday, January 24, 2013

It’s Not The Way Home, It’s An “Inside Man!”

The Good: Decent plot, Fine acting
The Bad: No real character development, Somewhat predictable plot progression, Feels unoriginal.
The Basics: Voyager downloads a hologram of Reginald Barclay who appears to have a way home for the crew!

As I complete watching Star Trek: Voyager on my own, my wife and I are finishing her first trip through Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. We have just gotten to the seventh season and the introduction of Ezri (a secret I managed to keep from her for the past four years, until Star Trek’s Facebook page spoiled it for me, thanks a lot!). I cannot think of a time in recent memory when she has reacted stronger to the show than when O’Brien, in “The Sound Of Her Voice” (reviewed here!) admits to not liking ship’s counselors. My wife sat up and said, “Exactly! They’re useless on this show!” Even as Ezri continues to grow on her, I realized that her antipathy toward Star Trek counselors comes largely from Marina Sirtis’s portrayal of Deanna Troi (my wife has said she loathes how erratic her empathic powers are, making her totally unreliable and thus useless). The more of Star Trek: Voyager I watch, the less I think of Troi as well.

I don’t blame Marina Sirtis; her performance of Troi is fine, especially on Star Trek: Voyager. But on Star Trek: Voyager, Deanna Troi seems less sensibly written, as if the writers and producers are desperately grasping for a reason to bring Sirtis and Troi back. Her final appearance in Star Trek: Voyager is “Inside Man,” yet another episode where she unrealistically goes out on a limb for Reginald Barclay, despite this time actually calling him out on how their interactions violate the traditional doctor/patient relationship.

Having missed the prior data stream from Earth, the crew of Voyager is excited to receive the next one, though it does not contain the usual messages from home. Instead, the datastream is occupied entirely by a holographic program, a hologram of Reginald Barclay. The holographic Barclay lets the crew know of a shortcut home via a red giant star near their current location. Despite the health risks, which the Doctor works to mitigate, Voyager prepares to head home via a dangerous passage.

But soon, it becomes clear that the holographic Barclay is not all it seems to be. He is greedy utilizing the Doctor’s mobile emitter and back on Earth, Reginald Barclay complains to his superior officer how the datastream and his holographic Barclay never made it to Voyager. Relieved of his duties on the Pathfinder Project, Barclay hunts down Deanna Troi, who helps him find Leosa, the woman who betrayed him to the Ferengi and hijacked the datastream. Leosa has sold information to a group of Ferengi, who want to recover Seven Of Nine’s Borg nanoprobes . . . from Voyager’s hulk after it comes out on the other side of the geodesic fold!

The first thing that actually stands out in “Inside Man” is how Admiral Paris is actually a smart guy. In his interrogation of Leosa, he reaches the correct conclusions without relying upon Deanna Troi or her abilities. As far as Sirtis goes, it is easy to see why she leapt at the opportunity to reprise her role as Troi one last time; Troi is utilized to get information from Leosa and becomes vital in saving Voyager.

Moreover, what occurred to me as being a potential flaw in “Inside Man” was not. I considered the idea that the vast file for the holographic Barclay was a ridiculous conceit; there already was a holographic Barclay on board Voyager. There was a holographic Barclay in “Projections” (reviewed here!), but that was not real, it was only within the Doctor’s mind, so the conceit in “Inside Man” actually holds.

But the villains in “Inside Man” are generic, nefarious Ferengi and it seems like “Inside Man” wastes a pretty terrific opportunity. After all, there was a trio of Ferengi who escaped the Delta Quadrant in “False Profits” (reviewed here!) and they would have a motivation to attack Voyager. Utilizing them might have been a more interesting twist.

The only real attempt at character development in “Inside Man” comes in the form of Harry Kim. Kim once again gets his hopes up about getting home and this time, he seems actually stupid for it. Paris and Torres seem especially cruel to the young officer at the episode’s climax, but the fact that Kim has never grown beyond a boyhood desire for the quick fix on getting home seems pathetic. Garrett Wang performs him well, but the character is pretty uninspired in this episode. Sadly, his is the dominant Voyager character to be focused upon.

The rest of the episode is a Barclay episode and in order to make it work, the character reverts yet again to a more nervous, somewhat ridiculous state. What is worse, in the scenes with Troi, the episode acknowledges as much. “Inside Man” is not terrible, but it feels predictable, obvious, and like filler for the season; as if the series is struggling not to get Voyager home before the series finale. This time, it feels stretched thin.

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


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

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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