WARNING: Resolved not to see spoilers for VOY's "Resolutions"? Well, resolutions can be broken ... so if you decide to, they're below.
In brief: Good performance by Robert Beltran, but not enough to save a fundamentally dull story.
Written by: Jeri Taylor Directed by: Alexander Singer Brief summary: Janeway and Chakotay, both suffering from a debilitating disease, are left behind to spend their days on a planet which can protect them. Meanwhile, the crew is left to try contacting the Vidiians to find a cure.
I should start, I suppose, by saying that I've got two major gut reactions to any show like this, both pulling me in opposite directions. The first is that I'm partial to shows which shove two people together in an environment totally foreign to that which we totally see -- it can make for good drama, and it tends to have a certain theatrical feel to it which I'm just biased towards. On the other hand, I tend to have a bias against shows which are of the "smoldering hidden passion" variety. Perhaps it's just unromantic of me, but I see no reason why every single workplace has to have people eventually throw themselves at each other. (Mine don't -- maybe it's just me. :-) ) Given that combination, I came in towards "Resolutions" pretty much on the neutral side.
Unfortunately, there were so many implausible or downright silly things that I very rarely managed to get past them to the emotional cores of the two stories: Chakotay's and Janeway's experiences together, and the crew's attempt to persuade Tuvok to contact the Vidiians. I got close on occasion -- but every time I started getting into things, something happened to trigger my "oh, come on" reaction and snap me back out. That's a bad sign -- both because the story problems were numerous enough to trigger that and because the cores of the story weren't strong enough to make me want to get back to them.
Let's start with a few basic problems with the whole premise. Chakotay and Janeway were bitten by an insect that carries a virus, and are thus doomed to be on Planet Health for all eternity. Okay. Fine. Might I ask exactly what circumstance it was that led both the captain and the first officer (and presumably only them) to be on the same away team? We've had rare occasions where both are down on the same planet, but that's usually when one is on a mission to find/rescue the other -- this didn't seem that way. One person being bitten at random I can understand, but the top two on the ship at the same time is just a little too convenient.
Leaving aside for a moment some other issues (like the fact that Janeway being a "scientist" apparently means that she is an expert in *every single discipline* -- a tremendously goofy idea -- and the incoherence of "we can't take you off the planet because you'll die" being a justification for not *putting them back in stasis*, which was still an option), the rest of the setup seemed at least somewhat reasonable. I found it odd that after seventeen days (or more, since that's the time the pair spent in stasis), no one had found a single specimen of the insect, despite the fact that you'd think that would be the doctor's first requirement ... but hey, that's life. (Of course, we're later told that it was a burrowing insect, which makes Janeway's attempts to set up traps in the *air* even stranger, unless we're meant to believe they're so clueless about the insect that they have no idea where even to start looking.) I wasn't particularly drawn in by the "hey, what color do we make the shelter" and the "gee, call me Kathryn" exchanges, but neither was I turned off by them.
I was, however, turned off by most of the Tuvok plot. The words "Galileo Seven" kept echoing in my head over and over, and "Resolutions" wasn't coming off well in the comparison. In the TOS episode, for those not familiar with it, Spock has his first command experience, where he comes off as an unfeeling jerk, and other people have to point out to him that the emotional well-being of those under his command is important. Then, at the last, he makes a desperate ploy that's viewed by some as an emotional reaction.
Sound familiar? Tuvok's move may not have been desperation on his part, but it was a response to the desperation of the crew. Frankly, these characters just aren't compelling enough to devote half a show to "Tuvok's being a Vulcan and everyone else hates it" -- and regrettably, that's really all I got out of that half of the story. Kim getting more and more upset and having two major confrontations with Tuvok was fine so far as it went (and Kim, being such a young officer, was a fine choice of person to react that way), but in the end it all came out to "and we convinced him, and everything's fine". Anyone surprised by this, raise your hand. (I did appreciate some of the justifications Kim used to contact the Vidiians, though; it's nice to see that *someone* on this ship has a memory.)
The battle with the Vidiians was ... okay. I appreciated the fact that Tuvok was expecting a trap, and the fact that he actually got one -- having an unwitting Dinara Pel serve as bait was, if not earth- shatteringly clever, at least pretty canny. However, while Tuvok's eventual strategy to get the cure and get away was successful, I had two problems with it. From a strategic point of view, it struck me as silly: it's a whole lot easier to have Dinara beam the cure to a random point in space away from the battle, then go pick it up after you've disabled the ships. (No need to lower shields that way -- and boy, it was convenient that the Vidiians' constant firing stopped right then.) From a storytelling point of view, it was an absolutely classic case of telling instead of showing; you do not, not, NOT make a battle exciting by telling the viewer in advance every move you're going to make. Think of the rescue of Picard/Locutus in "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" -- if you'd known everything that was going to happen, would the rescue have been as intriguing to watch? Would the ending of "The Defector" have been as strong if you knew in advance that Klingon ships were along for the ride? I think the answer is a strong "no" in both cases -- and I wish similar logic had been used here. It still made for vaguely interesting watching just to see the mechanics of it worked out -- but "vaguely interesting" tends to be more than vaguely inadequate.
That leaves Janeway and Chakotay trapped planetside. Despite my bias against "hidden romance" stories, I have to say that I wasn't really turned off by this one very much. I felt several times that the story was moving along at a glacially slow pace, but I didn't much mind the actual revelation itself. Most of the credit for that, I think, has to go to Robert Beltran. Kate Mulgrew was quite reasonable as Janeway, but Beltran struck me as just astonishingly good. His "ancient legend", while obvious, was one of the few moments in the show that really felt tender to me -- and his "no [it's not really a legend], but that made it easier to say" rang very true. Chakotay felt woefully underappreciated early in the show (especially in Janeway's farewell, when there was barely a mention that he was even *there*, let alone letting him say anything), and has been woefully underutilized as a character in two years -- and this side of him, at least, worked. Both Jeri Taylor and Robert Beltran deserve an appreciative note for that.
That said, however, I can't say the story itself drew me in on many occasions at all. The bathtub fixation early on in the show struck me as nothing more than an excuse to get Chakotay and Janeway in an awkward position -- and the whole business with the monkey just left me befuddled as to the point. The "plasma storm", while useful as Janeway's "one way of letting go", was otherwise an extraordinarily goofy idea -- geez, call it a thunderstorm and be *done* with it. The only scenes that tended to work were after the storm, from Chakotay's musings on the rest of his life being "a long time ... at least, I hope so" to the "big conversation" between the two of them. Other scenes had fleeting moments that worked, such as Chakotay's sardonic reaction to Janeway saying she would be "roughing it" -- but on the whole, I just wasn't left with a sense of belonging to the show. Simply put, I didn't feel for the characters deeply enough to really want to hang on their every nuance, and as a result was left cold.
That leaves the ending -- oy. While Janeway gardening had a certain appeal to it in spots, the abrupt abandonment of the planet was annoying in the extreme -- not so much for the two of them, but the fact that they left everything itself, including *alien plant-life growing wild*, in an active environment. The word "contamination" comes to mind, as well as "foolishness". On the plus side, however, the final scene aboard Voyager got across the "it never happened" concept without having either one of them actually say, a la Tasha Yar, "it never happened" -- which was appreciated.
On the whole, then, "Resolutions" mostly left me with a feeling of having spent an hour ... not doing very much. That's a pity.
Some short takes:
-- It rankled a whole lot more than a bit that there were no repercussions of "Tuvix" here. You'd think that *someone* might have made a reference to thinking Janeway was getting a just desserts in this -- maybe not on the senior staff, but some random ensign or someone. (Plus, it's not like Tuvok or Neelix were different in any way whatsoever than they'd been prior to "Tuvix". Joy.)
-- Janeway: "You've been spending an awful lot of time in those woods for the past two days." Us, as Chakotay: "Well, see, there's this dryad..."
-- Might I ask why the shelter has *translucent* doors to its bedrooms?
That's about it. "Resolutions" wasn't terrible, and it certainly had just enough emotional strength in spots to prop it up -- but I didn't come out of it feeling like it was an hour well spent, either. C'est la vie.
So, wrapping up:
Writing: Silliness galore in terms of the situation, and a dull "Galileo Seven" rehash in the Tuvok plot. Some reasonable character moments for Janeway/Chakotay, though. Directing: Lots of running through woods doesn't do it for me. Some of the close-ups during Tuvok/Kim and Janeway/Chakotay were good, though. Acting: Excellent from Beltran, decent from everyone else. OVERALL: A 4.5, mostly for solid acting and a few moments of genuine tenderness.
NEXT WEEK: The season finale. The Kazon Kome Kalling -- and this time, Apollo AND Starbuck are left trapped on the planet.
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.) firstname.lastname@example.org <*> "What I'll remember most is the fun." "Like what? Getting turned into a mud-puppy?" -- Janeway and us Copyright 1996, 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.