Second Union

Second Union


“Pepperoni! God, I’d love a pepperoni pizza with Kavarian olives right now. I’m starving!”

“Threshold” represents Voyager’s first attempt to travel at insane speeds that would, in theory, get the crew back to the Alpha Quadrant in a relatively shorter time period than originally forecast. Tom Paris is working on simulations that will take a shuttlecraft past warp 9.9, the infamous threshold between normal warp speed (whatever normal means) and, what I can only assume is the “ludicrous” speed of Spaceballs. Paris keeps running into a problem of stress on the nacelles. They keep getting fractures and flying apart in the simulations.

After an initially unwanted consult from Neelix, he thinks he has the solution so he rigs up another simulation, this time proving successful. He convinces Janeway to go ahead with an actual flight test. I feel like Tommy wants his name written across the stars—right up there with the Wright brothers, Neil Armstrong, Zefram Cochrane—more than he wants to find a quicker way home for Voyager. The test is a rip-roaring success. Paris breaks the threshold and even makes it back in one piece … sort of.

In the sickbay, he tells Janeway he, in essence, became a part-time star-child. He felt a connection between himself and all living things. He touched creation or something like that. He was everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. I wonder if he saw Wesley Crusher’s creepy Traveler friend. This is when he goes all funny. He collapses in the galley and is taken to sickbay where The Doctor determines he’s suffering horrible allergies that make water and air unpalatable.

Pieces of his body, including his tongue, start to fall off. His skin develops lesions that resemble radiation poisoning and then he eventually grows green lizard-like scales on his body. He’s becoming Paris-Fly! This is obviously a low-rent retread of the Cronenberg movie, but rather than create a sympathetic transformation of a character, we have to deal with Thomas Eugene Paris and his insufferable humor as he almost laughs at his outcast state. He makes like the Fly and abducts Janeway (why her and not Kes, I wonder) to take her to a planet where he … I can’t really do the story justice by explaining it.

“Threshold” is considered the worst episode of Star Trek: Voyager mainly for the far-out concept in the story, but I think there’s more to it than that. This episode boldly goes where few Star Trek shows have gone before: the land of unforgivable camp and theatrics. “Spock’s Brain” and “Sub Rosa,” of course, spring to mind where we have established characters suddenly revealing never-before heights of melodrama and over-the-top insanity all within the pretext of taking the material seriously. It was the wrong approach for this episode.

The idea of breaking the warp barrier is a good starting point, but Paris’ transformation is so silly (evidently the writers thought we would buy anything at that point), it destroys any credibility that starting point tried to achieve. I have to hand it to Robert Picardo and Jennifer Lien for not absolutely cracking up at Paris’ tongue-less ranting and moaning (particularly as he yells, “Please!”), or perhaps they did. Outtakes of this episode would be in high demand. The events of this episode are never referenced … AGAIN.

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!

Related Articles