Time and Again
Overall Ep :
First Aired :
30 Jan 1995
Season Ep :
In this episode Kes and Neelix talk about strange Ocampan mental abilities and how nobody believes in them. Well, Kes talked telepathically to an Ocampan in "Caretaker", and made it seem like it was something they did all the time. How can people refuse to believe that a telepath has mental powers?
Body Count :
The whole planet's population is killed, but we don't see it and it is reversed in the end.
Voyager encounters a planet which has been utterly devastated by a disaster. Beaming down, they find that a civilisation there had been using polaric power systems - a type of power which the Federation had discovered but dismissed as being inherently unsafe. The system had malfunctioned, causing a series of catastrophic explosions across the planet and destroying all life. Whilst investigating Paris experiences a sudden flash of life on the planet; at first they think he is imagining things, but when Paris and Janeway both vanish, they theorise that the accident has "shattered" subspace, causing invisible chunks of spacetime to float around like icebergs.
Janeway and Paris find themselves a day or so in the planet's past, before the accident happened. A local child sees them arrive and accuses them of being demons, but he is not taken seriously by the local constabulary.
Back in the future, Voyager's crew work on a device to open a portal into the past so they can reach their stranded shipmates. Meanwhile, Janeway and Paris proceed to the nearest polaric power generator station, trying to investigate the cause of the accident in hopes of finding a way home. They become caught up in a violent protest against the station, along with the boy who followed them there. The protesters capture the three and interrogate Janeway and Paris, suspecting them of being government agents spying on the protests. Janeway, fearing interference with the culture, steadfastly refuses to reveal anything. The protesters have a plan to sabotage the station and take Janeway and Paris along, hoping they can talk them past the guards. Instead Janeway openly confesses what is going on to the guards, and a firefight begins. The protesters shoot their way in and reach the polaric power system; at that moment the portal begins to open as Voyager's crew attempt their rescue. Janeway realises that the portal is going to hit a polaric conduit - the very act of rescuing her from before the disaster will be the event which triggers the disaster itself. She uses a phaser to shut the conduit down, breaking the cycle and...
Hit the reset button. Voyager encounters the planet again, but this time it's a thriving civilisation and nobody on board remembers otherwise. Except for Kes, who has a dream about some other chain of events.
A fairly reasonable episode, all in all. It was an odd choice to launch into Voyager by having two time twisting episodes in a row; time travel has never been all that popular with the fans, with one or two notable exceptions. To do two in a row was pushing it, and most especially as the first one was loaded chock full of super-stupid "I can't believe it's not science" technobabble.
This one does it somewhat better. Polaric power isn't anything real, so the idea that it can shatter space and time like that is... well perhaps "believable" is the wrong word, but it's at least no worse than many of the other things Trek asks us to believe.
I like Janeway and Paris in the past. Paris is all for alerting the locals to the potential danger they are in, but Janeway walks the Starfleet line. It's one of those times when she actually comes across as authoritative; she's calm but utterly determined, and when she's put in the position of 'go along or be shot'... she can only think that both of them will be murdered right then and there, yet she simply walks up to the station guards and blankly tells them that she's a prisoner under coercion, then lets the cards fall as they may. She gets away with it... but she had no reason to think she would, and she did it anyway. Gutsy, gutsy move.
Okay, so the ending. I thought it was kind of neat, having the rescue attempt be the very thing that causes the disaster in the first place. Though as is usually the case with such paradoxes, you have to wonder at the logic. Namely, the disaster caused the investigation, which led to them being trapped, which led to the rescue, which led to the disaster... a nice little loop. Only what caused the disaster when the loop STARTED? The rescue attempt was still in the future... like all time travel stories you just have to not try and think about it too much.
So nothing overly special, but an okay episode.