Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “Eye of the Needle”

“You don’t have the luxury of thinking of yourself as an Emergency Medical Program anymore. You’ve become a full-fledged member of the crew.”

This is too good to be true. It usually is too good to be true on the good ship Voyager, but with every day there’s fresh hope. Harry finds evidence of a nearby wormhole because of some “subspace emissions” (I get lost easily in the techno-babble aspect of the franchise.) and Paris dubs it, “The Harry Kim Wormhole,” which doesn’t bode well. When they reach the wormhole, they find that it is way too small to stuff a ship through, but they reason they can send probes and try to communicate with anything that might be on the other side. A probe gets “stuck” in the wormhole and it starts relaying signals from a ship at the opposite end.

Chakotay takes Tom’s lunch order.

In the episode’s B and C-plots, Kes wants to study advanced medicine, and Kes notices that the crew is extremely rude to the Doctor. I remember an episode where Kes thought the Doctor was being extremely rude to the crew. Make up your mind, Kes! Back at the wormhole, Harry thinks they could at least get messages through to the Alpha Quadrant to let the crew’s loved ones know they’re alive and well in the Delta Quadrant. Janeway sends a basic hail to the ship on the other side of the wormhole, and after some delicate fine-tuning, they hear a voice. Janeway tries to convince the captain of that ship that they are in the Delta Quadrant, but he doesn’t believe her and cuts off communication. Based on the location of the transmission, Tuvok reasons it must be a Romulan ship.

Because of Voyager’s location in the Delta Quadrant, we don’t see much of the Romulans on this spin-off, but when we do, they make a hell of an entrance. A few hours later, the Romulan captain hails Voyager. Janeway makes a special plea to him to relay messages from the crew. The Romulan captain wants to know a little more about them before agreeing to her wish. He wants to attempt visual communications and then, thanks to B’Elanna, transport to the ship with a signal booster through the wormhole. The Romulan captain is played by the great Vaughn Armstrong. As versatile an actor as Jeffrey Combs, Armstrong started his lengthy relationship with Star Trek in the first season Next Generation episode, “Heart of Glory.” He would later play Admiral Forrest on Enterprise.

Vaughn Armstrong

Considering everything we knew about Voyager: the production, the behind-the-scenes turmoil, and all the publicity that preceded the premiere of the pilot, an episode like “Eye of the Needle” comes too early in the show’s run for it to be believable. The show continues for seven years, so we know they’re not going to get home. They have several “near misses” through the years, some are more encouraging than others, but even in the darkest times, the crew still has hope even if the tank is running low.

I find it interesting that Janeway would choose to relate to the Doctor (after Kes has alerted her to his treatment by the crew) on a personal level when he is merely, by his own admission, a collection of “photons and forcefields.” Kes humanizes him in a way. The Doctor does not want his program shut down willy-nilly. The Doctor wants a name. This becomes a running gag on the show for the entire run. With Tuvok’s revelations about the Romulan captain, depressing as they may be, and Janeway’s steadfast devotion to the rulebook, the ship continues its very long journey home.

Twice a week, Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

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