WARNING: Resist the temptation to read spoilers for VOY's "Resistance".
In brief: Good. Very, very good.
Written by: Michael Jan Friedman & Kevin Ryan (story); Lisa Klink (teleplay) Directed by: Winrich Kolbe Brief summary: When Tuvok and Torres are captured by an oppressive regime known as the Mokra, it falls to Janeway to attempt their rescue -- in the company of a man who mistakenly believes she is his daughter.
"Resistance" is a good example of what *can* be done with the "no significant changes" policy that has all but defined VOY as a series, especially lately. Despite the fact that this show had essentially nothing to do with Voyager's quest to get home, despite the fact that the characters came out essentially unchanged by their experiences here, and despite the fact that "Resistance" used an antagonist that we've never seen before and likely never will again, it came off extremely successfully.
From a writing standpoint, this was due to several reasons. One of those is that although Voyager's technical needs (a good use of the series premise in itself) figured strongly in the episode, they were *not* the primary point of the story, but rather a goad needed to get the players in the proper place. The initial problem faced by the ship *was* solved, and solved within the first ten minutes of the hour. Seeing the consequences of desperate actions is often a lot more interesting than the desperate actions themselves, I think, and we got to see them here. (It was also nice to see that the crew can concentrate on more than one thing at a time; Chakotay was still getting details from Neelix while letting those more expert handle the repairs.)
Another interesting touch to the show was the return of an issue that surfaced recently in "Cold Fire", namely that of Voyager's reputation in the Delta Quadrant. This is twice now in three weeks that we've heard about Voyager engendering a lot more hostility than friendship since its arrival, and given their actions I tend to think that's at least partly appropriate. (Given the fact that the ones able to tell tales are usually the ones on the receiving end of Voyager's "friendship" and thus able to write history to their own liking, however, I think the rep is entirely understandable.) I'm not sure if this is going to lead somewhere, or even if it should lead to any "event" -- but I rather like it as a backdrop, as it lends a slightly different flavor to the show. Not only is Voyager without their old allies, but they don't really have any new ones either.
Another good point to the writing was the set of situations the characters ended up in. Although there are likely to be no real character changes as a result of this episode, we saw a great many contrasts between characters and between different actions of the same character as the show went on. Janeway's turnaround from considering Caylem a nuisance to looking on him with genuine respect and affection is certainly the most obvious and important example of it, but the contrast between Tuvok's stoic acceptance of his pain and his quick action as soon as physical action *was* in a position to be effective was also striking (not to mention cheering, as the episode had set things up until we really wanted to see Tuvok drop *somebody*). Chakotay's slow move from a diplomatic approach to a more martial one was also noteworthy, though hardly unexpected. In any event, a great many characters got to show a range of emotions and reactions over the course of the episode, which is nearly always a good thing.
There was also some nice ambiguity here and there, though -- including, most interestingly, the loyalties of Darod, Neelix's resistance contact. Chakotay asked early on if Neelix's contact could have been a Mokra agent, and Neelix dismissed it as unlikely. However, I'm not entirely certain it's so unlikely; Darod seemed to be everywhere the Mokra were, often right before they were. One certainly *could* interpret the trap surrounding Janeway's attempt to gain weapons as a consequence of Darod being arrested -- but it's equally simple to speculate that Darod had the whole thing planned as a setup from the start. After all, his cry of "guards!" during the final confrontation in the prison was also ambiguous -- was it a warning to Janeway and company, or a summons? I don't think there's a clear- cut answer either way, and I like that a lot.
I think the absolute best feature of the episode, however, was some truly outstanding acting on the part of several people, both regulars and guests. On the side of the regular cast, I think Robert Beltran, Kate Mulgrew, and Tim Russ all deserve notes of praise. Mulgrew's the obvious one, as she had the most to do and pulled it all off quite well; but Beltran has rarely gotten to show Chakotay's command side, as Chakotay's rarely had command of the ship -- and Russ, of course, had to deal with his character being tortured. All came off very well. On the guest star side, Alan Scarfe did a good job with a somewhat one-note character (Augris, the Mokra representative). Even though all he really had to do was be a fairly nasty villain, he was an extremely good one -- far better, I think, than his earlier turns as Romulan admirals in TNG ("Data's Day" and "Birthright, Part II").
The absolute standout of the episode, however, was Joel Grey as Caylem. Grey had that slightly unfocused look of the disturbed about him the entire time, which did a marvelous job of putting the viewer slightly ill at ease even despite the pathos the character was usually supposed to provoke. (The alternately halting and rushed speech patterns helped as well.) By the time the episode was over, we'd seen Caylem put through the wringer, what with the accusations of cowardice and his "fool's dance" in the street, both of which one could surmise he'd been through countless times before. It takes some doing to put on something like Caylem's street act and evoke sympathy in the process -- but Grey managed it. His simple "it's all right ... they're gone now" actually came close to bringing a lump to my throat. Even through all that, however, one remembered the exchange between Caylem and Janeway, where his impassioned "I'm not afraid" was rebutted immediately with "-- and that could get both of us killed." Grey was simply magnificent -- I only wish he'd do guest work like this more often.
On the whole, then, "Resistance" was probably the best show VOY has done this season -- certainly the richest. I do have some objections, but they're mostly nitpicks, and both revolve around the same point. First, I liked the quick start to the episode, but I have problems with Janeway being down on a hostile planet at all. The presence of each of the others was justified: Tuvok was head of security, Torres knew the engineering needs, and Neelix had the contacts. But Janeway's only purpose seemed to be to rescue the others, and that smacks of being artificial. Similarly, I have to wonder why Paris was the leader (or, apparently only member) of the rescue party. I quickly thought "well, he *was* Maquis", but that quickly turned into "yeah, and a damned inept one, since he got captured his first time out." This felt like an excuse to give Paris a little more screen time.
That's really about it for any real negatives to the show, however, and that's pretty good indeed. Some other small points:
-- One wonders if Caylem's guilt over his wife's capture is what finally drove him over the edge into madness.
-- The "feelings" question from Torres to Tuvok was somewhat annoying to hear, since I thought that question had been long settled. However, the fact that Tuvok basically didn't answer it helps a lot.
-- Given that I've been basically underwhelmed by those novels of Michael Jan Friedman that I've read, I didn't expect to like this. It's nice to be surprised. (I haven't read any of Ryan's work, which is why I'm not commenting there.)
-- I very much liked the fact that what little we got on the ship concerning the rescue was (1) easy to do, and (2) ultimately fruitless. All they really managed to do was hold out long enough for Janeway and company to make their own luck. (Paris's manner was awfully non-urgent when he finally made it down to the planet, however; since the ship was getting pummeled up in orbit, you'd think he'd try to hurry them along.)
-- How'd Janeway get all the codes she was using in the prison? From Darod?
-- I like the general idea of the "hide in the fog" strategy that Chakotay and Kim had, but as stated it didn't seem to make sense; given that the sensor net is around the whole planet, there's no way to stay above one point on the planet and hide from *everything*.
-- I hope the implication that Paris beamed down and the rest beamed back up through Voyager's shields wasn't meant to be read that way. If so, it'll be the second week in a row that a basic staple of Trek technology has been totally goofed. (I don't consider those huge goofs, but it does grate.)
That really covers it. "Resistance" is only about the second show this season that I can really recommend wholeheartedly -- after "Projections", and this one was better. If these shows came along more often, I'd be a lot happier.
So, wrapping up:
Writing: One or two convenient plot devices to set things up, but on the whole the plotting was smart and the characterization solid. Directing: Tense and taut; works for me. Acting: No real weak links, and many strong ones. Grey was stellar. OVERALL: 9.5, I think; just enough little gripes to keep it from a 10. Marvelous work.
NEXT WEEK: A rerun of "The 37's". Earhart, anyone?
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.) email@example.com "Give me some good news, Mr. Kim." "There's a disruption in the shields around the prison." "That qualifies." -- Chakotay and Kim Copyright 1995, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask... This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the author*. Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.