STAR TREK REWIND: “Basics, Part I,” “Basics, Part II”

“A fitting end for a people who would not share their technology. Let’s see if you manage to survive…without it.”

The Kazon were never my idea of a “worthy” adversary for the crew of the U.S.S. Voyager, primarily because of their reputation for stealing technology (they’re almost a nomadic version of the Borg but strangely more hostile) as well as their sheer idiocy. Yet they always seem to get the upper hand on Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). She has two experts on Kazon behavior in Kes and Neelix, and one of her own defects to the Kazon side early in the show’s run.

Seska (Martha Hackett) manages to seduce the leader of the Kazon-Nistrim, Maje Culluh, as well as acquire Chakotay’s genetic material (it’s not as gross as you think) and impregnate herself. During this time, there was a four-or-five episode story arc starting with “Maneuvers” and ending with “Investigations” that had Tom Paris going undercover in an effort to find a traitor sympathetic to Seska’s cause on board the ship. Seska may have departed the ship, but she wasn’t forgotten.

“Basics, Part I” brings back Lon Suder (Brad Dourif), the Betazoid murderer from “Meld,” currently living in the brig. He wants to do something for the ship, to contribute in a positive way, or something. I don’t care how nice he is now, he’s still Brad-freaking-Dourif! After sufficiently creeping out Kate, we go back to business as usual, which, in this case, means a clandestine communication from Seska to Chakotay, warning him that her life is in danger because Maje Culluh figured out the baby is not his.

Chakotay (Robert Beltran), racked with guilt, conjures up a “vision quest” discussion with his father. He does not want to accept the child as his because he was conceived in rape-like fashion by a psychotic woman. He also tends to blame himself for Voyager’s woes where Seska is concerned. He might be right, but that doesn’t matter. Seska is a dangerous woman; an interesting villain in the first season, and confirmation of my theory that Voyager was a much more “feminized” series than other entries in the franchise, including later shows in which the feminism feels forced rather than organic.

There was a female captain in Janeway, and a female bad guy in Seska. Janeway decides to follow a lone warp trail which may be Seska’s ship. They come across a shuttle containing Seska’s aide, Teirna, who insists he escaped Culluh’s ship after Culluh killed Seska for her betrayal. Teirna turns out to be a Kazon bomb who takes out most of Voyager’s systems. Again, I don’t understand how Janeway could be this gullible. The Kazon, including Seska (who is very much alive), her baby (revealed to be Culluh’s and not Chakotay’s), and Culluh board the ship and take it over.

Seska lands the ship and dumps the crew (with the exception of Paris, who has taken a shuttle to contact Talaxians for help, and Suder) on a primitive class-M planet to fend for themselves. What they aren’t aware of is that Suder is hiding on the ship, John McClane style! Star Trek: Voyager is a show that courts disaster in every other episode. Everything can go wrong in a hurry. I often wondered about the sets, and if, during production, a switch could be flicked that would instantly turn the ship into a charnel house.

There are several “worst-case-scenarios” that happen in the seven years of the show’s run. In this scenario, lazy space pirates take the ship and leave the crew to die on an undeveloped planet. Not only that, but the crew is beset by primitives who have barely mastered the creation of fire, and a horrible Lovecraftian creature that resides in a pit inside caverns that provide the only means of protection from the elements. This is where we bid adieu to Hogan (Simon Billig), who is promptly swallowed whole by said creature.

Meanwhile, on Voyager, The Doctor (Robert Picardo) works with Suder to retake the ship and accumulate bodies and weapons. Suder makes peace with his violent nature, but he does feel bad about killing which, I suppose, is a good thing. Tom Paris connects with Talaxian forces who offer their ships in battle with the Kazon. Paris sends a message to The Doctor, asking him to block the phaser couplings when the Kazon try to attack the incoming Talaxian ships.

All of this happens under Seska’s nose, and I seriously can’t abide how somebody could be so brilliant and so stupid at the same time. If I have a complaint about this two-parter, it’s probably that trope. Suder sacrifices his life to block the phasers. Goodbye, Suder. Parting may be sweet sorrow, but you were played by Brad Dourif! When the Talaxian ships start their run, the Kazon fire phasers, but it results in a devastating feedback that kills a bunch of Kazon, Seska included.

Her baby survives, and Culluh spirits the child away, along with the surviving Kazon. Paris and the Talaxians (hey, that sounds like a band!) retake the ship and go back to the primitive planet where Janeway must work with the natives there to save each other during a volcanic outburst and rivers of hot, nasty lava! Chakotay mourns Seska as well as his last shot for a story-arc involving his character. But I kid!

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

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