Star Trek Voy - Season 2 - Episode 01
- How could there still be gas in the engine and water in the radiator of a truck which was floating in space? How could the battery still be charged?
- This is the first episode to feature the landing of a starship, if we don't count the destruction of the Enterprise D.
- Current crew count is 152.
- Mars was colonized in 2103.
- A truck floating in space.
- Tuvok's reaction to Paris starting the truck.
- Voyager's landing.
- Janeway telling Earhart the history of Earth after she disappeared.
- Nobody deciding to stay behind on the planet.
A decent episode, but a little annoying. Besides the technical issues which largely don't matter anyway, the premise doesn't make much sense. Why would native Delta Quadrant aliens travel to the other side of the galaxy, retrieve a rather tiny amount of slaves from Earth and only Earth, then return to the Delta Quadrant? This just seems too unlikely. Bearing that in mind, this would have made a far better TNG episode than a Voyager episode, but it manages to pull its own weight fairly well. Janeway certainly identifies with Earhart better than Picard would have, and Tuvok's reaction to Paris starting the rusted old truck was something that only would have worked with a Vulcan. ;) A decent, though flawed episode.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From JRPoole on 2009-02-25 at 3:03pm:
Well, if you'd told me that this episode began with a 30s model truck floating in space and that Ameila Earhart was a character, I may have been tempted to skip it. It's always annoyed me that American history is scattered all across the galaxy in Star Trek. That said, this was about as good an episode as could be given the premise, and it actually ends up being decent.
My problem is with the Universal Translator. By now we've all just sort of accepted that the UT exists and explains how we can communicate with alien races. We've pretty much given up on trying to explain it or even worrying about it unless it's part of the plot (a la "Darmok" or DS9's "Sanctuary"). So why do they have to go and confuse the whole thing again. How is it possible that the Japanese character hears Japanese while the others hear English? And how does the UT know to broadcast in all those different languages? And finally, how does it work. It wasn't necessary to mention it hear, and mentioning it without explaining it just complicates things.
- From Jeff Browning on 2011-10-22 at 1:20pm:
I read with interest our webmaster's article on why he doesn't review Stargate (because there is no plausible reason why all alien life forms speak English). While I relate to this sentiment, and agree that it is a failing in the Stargate universe, the use of the UT in Star Trek is so lame and so contrived as to be tantamount to a simple admission that there is nothing behind it at all. For one thing: what is the UT? Is it a computer program as some episodes suggest ala DS9: Sancuary? Or is it a portable, mobile device, as would be obviously required when the Star Fleet folks are out of communicator range? Examples of this are so common as to be too numerous to count. Picard on the surface with the alien captain in TNG: Darmok. Jiordi trapped on the surface of a moon with a Romulan in TNG: First Contact. I could go on like this for a looooong time.
And how does the UT magically make everyone's mouth movements match up with what they hear? Holgrsphic projectors? A data feed directly into the brain?
In the end the problems of the UT are so huge that we must simply throw up our hands in despair and admit that it is the thinnest of threads, and ultimately it is all about budget. Given that creating a synthetic language is a rather expensive undertaking, compromises must be made. (Witness the amount of time and energy which went into creating the language of the Navi in the Sci Fi film Avatar.)
I am not sure that Star Trek is significantly superior to Stargate in this respect, to be honest.
- From Kethinov on 2011-10-22 at 2:10pm:
The difference between Stargate and virtually every other science fiction show is that Stargate doesn't even try to offer an explanation, and by doing so they make it nearly impossible for fans to rationalize it on their own.
In Star Trek, the universal translator is the canonical explanation and while episodes like this may complicate the process of explaining how it works, the UT is not beyond rationalization.
I've always assumed there are different kinds of UTs with different levels of sophistication that were employed at different time periods and that by Voyager's time period it was a piece of technology which had been miniaturized to the point of being embedded as a microchip in every Federation citizen. DS9: Little Green Men provides strong evidence of this.
For that to work, we have to assume that most non-Federation aliens also possess a similar technology and that vast advances in linguistics have occurred to create a sort of universal language pattern matcher, which would enable both the translation capability as well as a mechanism by which two alien UTs can communicate with one another.
The UT would thus then work on a principle of all languages (except oddball ones like the Darmok aliens) following predictable rules that advanced linguistics has cracked. And when two characters equipped with microchip UTs talk to each other, they merely speak in their own languages and the UT in their brains translates for them in real time.
Without a doubt this all implies an incredibly overwrought piece of technology that the show glosses over with far too much carelessness, but still not to the degree that Stargate does. Likewise Star Trek is no stranger to overwrought items of technology fraught with difficult to rationalize technical problems. Another big offender would be the transporter.
Nevertheless, despite these quirks, Star Trek manages to somehow stay largely consistent and plausible. As does Stargate for the matter, all except for Stargate's failure to even try to deal with the language problem.
- From TheAnt on 2013-10-09 at 2:36am:
Kethinov points out the first problems of this episode in the 'problems' paragraph.
Only adding that any remaining water in the cooling system - if any still left, would be frozen solid.
The SOS message is received on the AM radio in the pickup truck, which in turn is in a cargo hold of Voyager, and that outside the planetary system of origin. (Some light years at least.)
Kim states that 'we do not monitor this frequency since it only travel at the speed of light.
Any change of 'Frequency' will not make any radio signal go faster than light - which make this another technobabble blooper.
Even so this is for starters, the small landing pads of Voyager would not be able to keep the starship upright on the surface we see, not rock even less loose sand.
Ever seen construction workers raise a large crane? They use plates of steel under each supporting pad!
And then the radio of the aircraft sending AM radio to a large distance in space. AM radio were used since it bounced on the ionosphere, and so could be picked up even beyond the line of sight.
So most of such a signal will NOT penetrate to space, in short it would be weak indeed.
So in the very first minutes this episode fails on all counts on being consistent and plausible.
My vote? A one.
- From Shani on 2015-01-09 at 11:50pm:
I'm kind of annoyed the Janeway could tell the Japanese soldier was human just by looking at. There are so many species that look human even I'm the delta quadrant.