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Star Trek Voy - Season 4 - Episode 16

Star Trek Voy - 4x16 - Prey

Originally Aired: 1998-2-18

Synopsis:
Voyager is caught in the middle of a deadly game. [DVD]

My Rating - 6

Fan Rating Average - 5.77

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 9 4 2 22 2 2 8 13 19 13 10

Problems
None

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- The Hirogen hunting species 8472. Awesome.
- Seven of Nine's "social skills" exercise.
- Tom's "look's like somebody lost their helmet" scene.
- Species 8472 crawling around on Voyager's hull.
- Hirogen: "I once tracked a silicon based life form through the neutronium mantle of a collapsed star." Tuvok: "I once tracked a mouse through Jeffries tube 32."
- Seven of Nine firing at a floating PADD as a result of her anxiety. Tuvok's response: "You missed."
- Janeway's story about fighting in the Cardassian border conflict.
- Seven of Nine: "A lesson in compassion will do me little good if I am dead."
- Seven of Nine beaming the Hirogen and species 8472 to the enemy ships.

My Review
And here we have Voy: Message in a Bottle, Part III. Kind of. Actually, I'm rather fond of the episode's actual name Voy: Prey as a reference to the previous episode Voy: Hunters. Kind of like DS9: In Purgatory's Shadow and DS9: By Inferno's Light. It shows intelligent writing to name episodes in such a manner. Similarly, this arc writing that Voyager's been using is very effective. Each episode leading into the next, DS9 style. This episode addresses both Voyager's new enemy and old enemy at the same time, the Hirogen and species 8472. Janeway the pacifist to the extreme is unwilling to take sides in the conflict between species 8472 and the Hirogen. She thinks she can use the situation to resolve her differences with both at the same time, but she was mistaken. Fortunately, Seven of Nine wasn't so stupid and saved the lives of the crew. Overall, another nice episode.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Raza on 2008-03-13 at 5:34pm:
    I truly like this episode and enjoy reading your reviews. A point of clarification on this episode review. I just watched it and it was actually Paris who said the hilarious line about tracking a mouse and not Tuvok.
  • From thaibites on 2014-08-21 at 10:55pm:
    I liked this one, but I was hoping for something more dark and sinister. It turned into a morality play with Janeway giving a big speech about why people need to show compassion to hurt and vulnerable creatures even if they're your enemy. Thank goodness Seven wasn't buying any of it! Janeway's monolog reeks of hypocrisy. She talks about spending months trying to kill Cardassians years ago. Then, one day, they heard an injured one moaning, so they risked their lives to save him. What!?! That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! So, it's OK to kill them if they're healthy, but if they're injured you have to save them? Just ridiculous....
    The best part of this episode was Seven basically giving Janeway the finger. It was nice to see Voyager finally grow some testicles for once.
  • From pbench on 2015-09-09 at 1:04am:
    love the site and the format and the opportunity to bounce this stuff around. but i must say...

    i find it funny that people are so staunchly in support of seven's decision...oh well, i suppose this is typical of the gung-ho american attitude about war and violence, which reeks of ignorance of the actual complexities, suffering, and cruelty of war and treats everything like a videogame. while every viewer has a right to side with any character, i think the show actually deliberately left it far more open-ended than folks are seeming to indicate (that she actually saved the lives of the crew--many times they have wiggled their way out of similar situations, there's no telling what would have happened, esp. deus ex machina wise).

    anyway there are more than puerile moralistic reasons to have mercy on an "enemy", and if you can't understand them, i would fear to be around you in a moment of crisis indeed--mentalities such as these have led to some of the ugliest moments in human history. besides potentially serving to create a basis for future diplomacy, there are other reasons to be merciful to a combatant (as shown in the captain's decision to extract information from the hirogen they rescued in the first place).

    and then there's, you know, the actual worth of life in and of itself--we recoil in horror at the enemy character who is heedless of a protagonist's whole lifeworld, their family, their connection to their community, their right to LIVE above all else...and for an enemy character we just drop it? scifi fail. this is not an abstract idealism: it is actually the opposite. it is actually the "24"-style argument--the ticking-time bomb that justifies our torture of the terrorist--that is the outlier. THAT is the scenario that is trotted out time and again to justify not defensive, but actually OFFensive and proactively violent systems of control in the real world. THAT is the argument that only 1% of the time is every actually used in earnest, while the rest of the time it couches situations of domiantion, colonialism, and obliteration as acts of 'defense', cleverly framed with that word we all grew so fond of back in 2003..."pre-emptive". pretty soon you forget where the enemy came from and you also forget that you helped CREATE them based on your own seemingly "uncompromising" and "flawless" military logic. woops, just like the downfall of every empire the world has ever known...

    operating by a different logic is not naive, it is actually about survival: both in not making rash decisions as well as in not rotting out the core of our beings. if sci-fi is to mean anything it is to show us this, not to reinforce the jingoism that you can get anywhere else in any other media. when it does this it fails and we fail.

    similarly, the commentator who said that it "makes no sense" that a person would be treated differently on the battlefield vs. in a recovery or medical situation has apparently never heard of the hippocratic oath, something which voyager itself has covered w/ the doctor in past episodes. again, there are reasons above the purely abstract to believe in a universal right to treatment and care, precisely because differentiating between 'kinds' of patients is a losing project: just like trying to argue that only "certain" workers should have rights, or that "certain" races should (both things that have actually happened historically). always doomed to failure not only because they are narrow-minded, but because they inherently create a premise for a concept of private selection and determination of what in actual fact is and should be a public, and unconditional right. just the kind of situation that's ripe for being abused and taken advantage of! and as ever, that very 'right to discern' ends up leading to...you guessed it, atrocities. we then give credence to the idea that not that we'll learn our history lesson here either...

    it is this very dichotomy between the 'savage' enemy and the 'moral' protagonists that star trek, as a show, has almost always been about combating, even in its own, flawed way. i say flawed because it becomes clear over the series how much the federation and all of its flagship crews that we follow are much more the 'pseudo-benevolent empire' than actual protectors of the downtrodden: they frequently invoke the Prime Directive then "must" intervene, and ultimately are obsessed with their own higher morality as a species, something DS9 thankfully was an antidote to, showing that only Earth was a (fragile) paradise, while the rest of the galaxy remained cutthroat, even in Federation hands.

    Further, many, many episodes in TNG, DS9, and indeed this Voyager episode itself, crawl towards the very fascinating and necessary conversation around violence, rights, sentience, etc., but many times (and I wish I could go through all the examples here...a project some day perhaps) the script all but falls short, setting up captains like Picard, Sisko, and Janeway to inevitably adopt a kind of arbitrary purist position: "even though this is ineffective/short-sighted/tactically wrong, we must do this." It sets up viewers for this no-win situation in which it appears that plot-wise, the logical choice would have been the less forgiving one. And while occasionally that ambiguity is warranted, in situations like these it is, once again, more than an abstract moral position: the script could have shown the captain's wisdom, that one must not qualitatively mimic that which you seek to fight (this is not a paean about nonviolence, it is about things larger than that, even in situations of combat. think of moments of conflict in world history and tell me this isn't true).

    this way of thinking both internally transforms the way you conduct yourself as well as externally shapes your ultimate goals. for it is a continuum between Federation and Borg, Federation and Dominion, not parallel lines...and the slippery slope, as Star Trek and all good scifi is fond of reminding us, is steep indeed--all these communities came from somewhere and made their little compromises along the way that got them to that point.

    anyway, once again, still enjoying the series and love the site. thanks for the opportunity to share. peace.
  • From Mike on 2017-05-29 at 2:54pm:
    You raise some good points, pbench. And I don't necessarily share the views of the other reviewers that Janeway was naive or stupid here. She was dealing with this situation as a Starfleet officer. But that's the problem. I think Seven is obviously more suited to understand this situation than Janeway. The Borg and the Hirogen are very similar. They are amoral, caring only about assimilation for the former, finishing the hunt for the latter. Diplomacy, honor, the sanctity of life and respect for the rights of the enemy simply are not concepts that are part of their cultures. Seven understands that the Hirogen will not relent until they have what they want, and that's the only outcome they are prepared to accept.

    There's a flip side though. Janeway is correct in the sense that she has to preserve a command structure and can't simply allow Seven to do whatever the hell she wants when she wants, lock out the bridge's controls to boot. That is a threat to the ship, one that Janeway can't tolerate. And of course, Seven falls back on the tired old line that the crew is forcing her to compromise her individuality after encouraging her to be more human, when that's not what's going on at all. That's when I find the character most annoying.

    So while this was a thrilling episode overall, I'm not real happy about how things are left for either Janeway or Seven as characters.
  • From lumzi on 2017-07-08 at 1:47pm:
    Anyone getting shades of MK with these Hirogen guys ("flawless kill")? They even remind me of the MK Ninja's (Scorpion, Sub-Zero etc).

    For that matter that Chakotay episode, "Nemesis," features enemies that remind of the Predators (you know, like in that old Arnie movie and more recent games, movies etc).

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