Star Trek Reviews

Return to season list

Star Trek Voy - Season 4 - Episode 13

Star Trek Voy - 4x13 - Waking Moments

Originally Aired: 1998-1-14

Synopsis:
The crew is attacked in their dreams. [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.75

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 18 0 4 3 10 9 9 17 8 5 2

Problems
None

Factoids
- This is the first episode to show Torres wearing an overcoat (which the actress called an "ugly smock") to hide her real life pregnancy.

Remarkable Scenes
- The opening scene of nightmares.
- Harry's reaction to Seven's request for assistance in the Jeffrey's tube when he woke up.
- Torres: "I wonder what a Vulcan nightmare would be like." Neelix: "Alone, exiled on a planet where the only form of communication is laughter."
- Seven of Nine's diversion.
- The doctor, regarding himself: "No rest for the never weary."
- Janeway: "Either I've become impervious to antimatter explosions, or we're still dreaming."
- Chakotay's solution.
- Chakotay, regarding everyone showing up the mess hall because they can't sleep: "Neelix, I think it's time for breakfast."

My Review
There are elements of TNG: Schisms (once again) in this episode with the crew all sharing similar bad dreams and attempting to mutually figure them out. This is an interesting twist to the "illusionary world" or "holodeck" plot, but it got rather annoying when everybody kept waking up, then realizing they were still dreaming, then waking up, and so on. I got tired of it at about the third time it happened. This trick is cheap in the first place and using it over and over again is a little insulting. I commented in DS9: Distance Voices about how much I hate "it was all a dream!" type plots, but this one is a bit less annoying. It isn't centered around one character, but the whole crew. And although the narrative misdirection gets annoying, the plot is overall effective. With a little tweaking the plot could have been worth a few more points.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Pete Miller on 2006-10-29 at 10:12pm:
    This episode is too much like that horrid TNG episode where Riker keeps on waking up only to find that he's still dreaming. Still, a decent episode.

    I think there's an unwritten rule in Star Trek that says that you have to fuck up the uniforms later on in the seasons somehow. TNG: Picard's god-awful coat and the extremely loose fitting uniforms. DS9: the even worse uniforms with the gray shoulders. VOY: Torres's overcoat/smock (why does she have little exacto-knife-like things in the pocket!?)
  • From David in California on 2007-11-02 at 2:08pm:
    I think this episode's plot was perfectly fine as it is, what makes it less-than-effective, IMO, is something I've noticed in the Star Trek franchise as a somewhat casual viewer of the show and not a really committed fan.

    I can't really speak about Enterprise as I've only seen a few, but with TNG, DS9 and Voyager there's this chronic undercutting of the well-written plots by an overall directorial/editing style that seems to not go along with what's been written.

    By that I mean the directing, editing, and even music just kind of chug along at more-or-less the same pacing and tone no matter if the scene is an added character moment, early setting up of the plot, a twist, a suspense element, some exposition, the climax/resolution, or the denouement. No matter what the scene's role in the overall story, it's all kind of on one "level" much of the time.

    On occasion, there are exceptions to the "sameness" I'm describing, of course. There will be a welcome directorial flourish, a small change in editing pace, or whatever. But these seem to be done at almost random points in the stories--whenever, I suppose, the director and others feel there's something happening that interests them in that moment. Or, to their credit in some cases, if there needs to be a kind of "dramatic reveal" affected.

    Otherwise, it comes off to me personally as if in particular the editing is done by a machine which doesn't have any human insight into the relative importance or feeling or suspense at different points in the narrative.

    Where this most hurts the stories, IMO, is when it comes to the climax/resolution, and this episode was another example that jumped out at me and made the otherwise perfectly fine climax seem unsatisfying and far less effective than it would have been.

    The climax/resolution as written, with Chakotay setting things up with the Doctor and then persuading the aliens that he will blow them (and himself) up if they don't withdraw, is perfectly sound, IMO. Problem is that because of what I described above, it almost rushes by the viewer at the same pace and intensity as any other moment in the story, and robs it of its impact significantly, and makes the climax come off as . . . well, anti-climactic when it really isn't as written.

    The viewer isn't made to feel byway of the directing, editing, and music that this is what the episode has been building up to, and that this is indeed the climax where the main plot thread is being resolved. The rushed nature of it means there isn't time allowed for the viewer while experiencing the climax to be held in suspense about the outcome, to feel the tension-and-release, or in extreme cases to even necessarily know that this is the climax *intellectually until it's over, nevermind the issue of feeling that it is viscerally.

    It's like when there's the sudden cut to the exterior of Voyager and the Doctor starts his log indicating he's woken up the crew, the viewer takes a few seconds at *that* point to say to himself: "Oh, so then the aliens must have backed down and allowed the crew to continue unharmed. Chakotay's gambit worked. Ok." No, that moment of realization that Chakotay's gambit worked should happen while you're watching that go on--not as an intellectual checkbox ticked in the mind after the scene is over, IMO. There should be a bit of tension built up while it's happening, the directing, editing, and even music should be upped in intensity from the rest of the story, and the viewer experiences both intellectually and viscerally the full *impact* of the crucial resolution of the plot's conflict while it's taking place.

    In this case, annoyingly, I thought to myself in generosity to the production team: "Ok, they've got limited time to tell their story and there's more to come now, so maybe the pacing of the climax had to be a bit rushed in this case to get in something important here at the end." But then all we got was a kind of fluffy scene at the end where we see some of the crew alive and well in the messhall having a laugh. Was that really needed? Wouldn't it have been better to stretch out the suspense of the climax just prior and spend less time on the denouement when it really didn't add anything substantive? Argh!

    Just to offer one more example of this that comes to mind, though I think it's a chronic problem with the show--"Dark Frontier" in Season Five. It's worse in that case 'cause you have a two-parter and then you get a rushed, anti-climactic climax to this otherwise "epic" story.

    Other genre shows made around the same time don't seem to suffer from this that I've ever noticed. Off the top of my head I can't remember having these pacing issues for X-Files, Buffy, and other shows in the '90s.

    Today, you have a show like the new Doctor Who, for example, where the opposite often takes place, which I think illustrates how important directing and editing the climax in an actually climactic manner is. In that show, often a very poorly written climax/resolution comes off much better while watching because the directing, editing, and music really come together to make it feel climactic. Now, that doesn't make up for a poorly written climax ultimately. You just have the opposite problem--while it's happening you think it's exciting and good and you "feel" it, but then when you think about it a few minutes later intellectually you realize it was lame.

    But my point is I see no reason not to always go for a climactically-directed climax. The best case if of course to write a good climax/resolution that works intellectually *and* have the directing, pacing and so on make you feel the suspense *and* be able to experience it and give it justice, so to speak.

    So for this episode and many, many others in the Star Trek franchise, I feel that when viewers respond with a "meh" to a well-written story and feel it could have been better, looking for how it could have been written differently misses the mark as far as what went wrong. The problem wasn't the writing, it was the realization of them, IMO.

    Please don't get me wrong, I'm not here trying to bash the show. Obviously I think much of the Star Trek offerings are fantastic, and as a general sci-fi fan how can I not love Star Trek? Just focusing on how some of it could have been done so much better, IMO.

    Ok, lengthy comments, so I hope that's ok. Probably I've said nothing new to actual Star Trek fans and some maybe feel the same, but I finally wanted to get this out on this site 'cause I'm enjoying having it as my sort of companion as I revisit Star Trek and this episode really suffered for it.
  • From thaibites on 2014-08-04 at 10:41pm:
    I thought this episode was pretty good, but they never explained WHY these aliens were doing this. They did address it when Chakotay first entered his lucid dream-state, BUT everything the alien said to him was a lie. Were they trying to take over Voyager? Were they just going to wait until all the crew member's bodies died and then all wake up and jump on board?
    ST is usually pretty good at explaining why things are happening, unlike X-files where NOTHING is ever explained. They wasted precious time on gay, little vignettes with crew interaction, and the episode suffered because of it.
    In answer to David in CA's lengthy comment, the ending was rushed. Why? Too much time spent on frivolous crew interaction. This is the biggest problem with Voyager. It's like they want to humanize the show way too much because they want sheeple to be able to relate to it, but all it does is alienate well-educated lovers of good sci-fi.
  • From Mike on 2017-07-28 at 7:33am:
    I agree with all of the comments and reviews. The "it's all a dream" thing got tiresome, and as David in California points out, the episode suffered horribly from the lack of a well-crafted climax. The moment between Chakotay saying that the aliens have two minutes to back down or be blown to kingdom come, and the Doctor pleasantly narrating the crew's return to normal life, is about as awkward as a transition as I've ever seen in Star Trek.

    During Chakotay's encounter with the alien in the mess hall, the alien's convenient exposition more or less spills the beans on their intentions. That's all we get as far as their motives or clues about why they are in this dream state. So, what began as an intriguing encounter turns out to be a dud.

Prove to me that you are a real person and not a spam robot by typing in the text of this image:

Return to season list