“I realize you made a sacrifice for me, but it’s not one I would have allowed you to make. You can use logic to justify almost anything. That’s its power, and its flaw. From now on, bring your logic to me.”
Is this a case of “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?” Two things happen in this episode that rarely happens in Star Trek: Voyager. The first thing is that the ship receives a hail from friendly people. The second is that those same friendly people refuse to share their advanced technology with Voyager. I’m jumping the gun a little. We start in the galley with Seska (I have a bad feeling about her) and B’Elanna dishing about boys over coffee. When Janeway sees Paris and Kim get in on the action, she speculates that the crew is finally getting along. Uh, not quite, but she is cute.
The friendly people planet is called Sikaris, and their leader, a smudge of a weasel-like man named Gathorel Labin offers Janeway’s crew hospitality and relaxation. I suppose that’s a good thing, but Labin adds extra layers of sleaze to his offer. He behaves very much like a drug dealer offering that first shot of heroin. He flirts incessantly with Kathryn, but she’s always a step ahead of him. The planet resembles an indoor/outdoor shopping mall or a new-age commune with an Orange Julius on every level.
Harry is swept away with a pretty girl to a location he can’t identify. She informs him it’s a planet called Alastria, which is 40,000 light-years away from Sikaris. Harry reasons this is a highly advanced form of space-folding transport. His tail starts wagging as he believes he might have some good news to share with Janeway. Labin calls it a “spatial trajector.” Janeway asks him if he might share their technology. He turns her down for fear the technology could be used as a weapon. He has a fair point, and for once, we’re on “the other side of the fence,” to quote Janeway.
Frustrated, the senior officers come up with ways to try to barter for the technology. Harry notes that the Sikarians love stories. Maybe they could sell their extensive catalog of literature to the Sikarians in exchange for the spatial trajector? Couldn’t hurt to ask. Janeway invites Labin up to the ship for a slice of pecan pie and a hot cup of talk. Janeway makes the offer, which does make his whiskers twitch. He promises he’ll talk it over with the other leaders. Meanwhile, news of the technology is spreading throughout the ship.
Seska desperately wants to get home to celebrate her brother’s birthday (yeah right). Though expressly forbidden from researching the technology, B’Elanna, Seska, and Lieutenant Carey think about the problem of folding space. If only they had some mushrooms. Harry meets with a Sikarian on the inside who tells him he’ll make the trade for the literature, and that Labin will not agree to the exchange. Seska doesn’t think it’ll work out. She wants to defy Janeway’s order and steal the technology. This is no good. Meanwhile, Janeway ponders compromising her principles to get the crew more than halfway home.
It is here that we see her friendship with Tuvok as he counsels her. It’s not quite the Kirk and Spock dynamic. If anything, it’s more reminiscent of Kirk and McCoy. Carey, B’Elanna, and Seska have to act quickly to make the trade, but Tuvok catches on. He intends to make the trade himself to spare Janeway having to make the difficult choice to leave. When the interface malfunctions and nearly destroys the ship, Tuvok accepts the responsibility. Janeway is deeply disappointed in him (and everyone involved), to say the least, and the ship continues its very long journey home.
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