(written from a Production point of view)
|VOY, Episode 5x21|
Production number: 215
First aired: 26 April 1999
|←||113th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||113th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||567th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
Bryan Fuller & Nick Sagan and Kenneth Biller
Voyager finds a damaged Malon freighter which is about to explode and contaminate an entire sector with deadly radiation.
A large Malon export vessel streams through space, spewing waste as it goes. A Malon crewmember wanders the ship, playing with a toy, a small replica ship. He makes it crash into his commander, Fesek. It turns out that the toy is a gift for Fesek's children. All of a sudden, the ship jolts. The first crewmember, Pelk, reports that there is a fluctuation in tank four. Alarms sound throughout the ship. Emergency systems are off-line, and there is a full-scale rupture in tank four. Fesek orders the tank to be ejected. The ejection systems aren't responding, and tank six begins to rupture. Fesek orders a crewman to go into the core and seal the tanks manually.
Act One Edit
Aboard USS Voyager, Tuvok is patiently attempting to teach a skeptical B'Elanna Torres a meditation technique. Apparently, Torres lost her temper at The Doctor and destroyed his holo-camera. Torres is now undergoing Vulcan therapy to control her emotions, as per Commander Chakotay's orders. As Tuvok begins to bring Torres back to her childhood, she begins to laugh, explaining that she pictured the Vulcan as a child. Finally going along with it, Torres tells Tuvok of her earliest memory of anger. She talks about a boy she knew as a child, Daniel Byrd, who often tormented her about being half-Klingon by calling her "Ms. Turtlehead." On one occasion she attacked him while he was on the gyro-swing. She sabotaged the machine, and then yanked him from the contraption and beat his face in. Their teacher, Miss Malvin, separated them.
Tuvok analyzes Torres' anger, "Your anger was a source of strength, it protected you, gave you courage." He demonstrates how easily provoked Torres is by calling her the name that the boy called her. She gets up and says she has had enough for one day. On the bridge, her boyfriend Tom Paris asks Tuvok how the meditation went. Tuvok declines to give specifics because of confidentiality concerns, but when pressed finally admits "it will be a challenge for both of us."
Next, Voyager picks up an automated distress call. Captain Janeway orders a response and the ship moves to intercept. When the Voyager crew responds, they find 37 escape pods, all contaminated with theta radiation. Only two people are still alive. They are transported aboard and treated by The Doctor. Both are Malon, and one identifies himself as controller Fesek, the other as Pelk.
Fesek tells Captain Janeway that their vessel was damaged when cargo containers 4 and 6 ruptured. Every system failed aboard the ship. Sixty crewmen died in minutes. They aren't out of danger yet, however; there are are about four trillion isotons of antimatter waste on board, and if that waste ignites, everything within a three light year radius will be destroyed. Janeway orders Paris to back Voyager off five light years; however, Voyager can't generate a stable warp field because of the high concentration of theta radiation, so what had been only a Malon problem is now also a Voyager problem as well.
Act Two Edit
On the bridge, the crew and the Malon discuss their options. Fesek is in favor of hiding Voyager in a nebula where it will be safe. However, Janeway states that she will not abandon the other three ships in the sector to save herself. They decide that they must send an away team. The control room is contaminated, so they must enter the ship in an uncontaminated area and vent the radiation on the other decks.
Before they enact the plan, Pelk feels compelled to tell the captain about Vihaar. Fesek says it is only myth, but many Malon believe in the monster that lives in the theta storage tanks on Malon vessels. Pelk says that during the evacuation, crewmen saw unknown forms aboard the ship. Fesek counters this by saying that hallucinations are one of the first symptoms of theta radiation poisoning.
During the briefing in main engineering, Neelix demonstrates his knowledge of waste management, citing his experience with a Talaxian garbage scow. Torres continues to antagonize the Malon survivors; almost every comment of hers is directed against them and their race. Chakotay pulls her aside to talk about it, and orders her to keep her temper in check.
In the mess hall, Chakotay enters as Neelix gags on some sort of liquid. He says it is not strong enough. Chakotay assures him that the crew will be able to feed themselves, but Neelix insists that he has already prepared lunch, dinner, breakfast, and a midnight snack. He is currently working on a Talaxian theta radiation remedy, just in case The Doctor's inoculation fails. He also thanks Chakotay for selecting him for the important mission.
Chakotay, Torres, Neelix, and both Malon survivors beam aboard the Malon ship and attempt to decompress all decks and contain the explosion risk. The corridor that they enter is full of highly-charged metagenic particles; Torres predicts that there will be an electrostatic cascade. At the last minute, she realizes that the tricorders are causing the cascade. An electrical explosion floods the corridor while everyone takes cover. Afterward, the Malon discover that they must manually open the airlocks. Chakotay sends Fesek and Torres to the injector port, while Pelk stays with the away team.
Fesek and Torres activate the actuators, but the airlock mechanism is jammed. Pelk goes onto the contaminated deck to unlock a manual coupling. He instantly becomes aware of an alien presence aboard. A moment later Chakotay and Neelix hear screams and find Pelk with severe injuries. Pelk claims he saw the "creature" before he loses consciousness and dies. He is beamed to sickbay for an autopsy.
Act Three Edit
The away team has vented five out of fifteen decks, but at that rate, the ship will detonate before they can reach the control room. Janeway decides to put together a plan B orders Tuvok to calculate how to tractor the freighter into the path of a star of an O-type star. Torres then begins to show signs of radiation poisoning. Chakotay orders Fesek to take Torres to the Malon infirmary for treatment. They will rendezvous outside of the control room.
Once they arrive in the infirmary, they discover a body that was being treated for long-term exposure. Fesek informs her that he was a core laborer. This is an occupation with a high-pay (making more in a couple of months than most Malon do in a lifetime) but low survival rate, since they work in close proximity to the core.
Later, when the remaining four away team members attempt to decompress deck 3, their own deck is decompressed. They barely make it out, but Commander Chakotay is hit by debris and loses consciousness. He is transported to sickbay. As they argue over whose fault it was, a mysterious figure watches them from hiding without their knowledge.
Act Four Edit
Tuvok expresses his concern that Torres is now in command of the away team. He offers to beam over and take command himself. However the captain has confidence in Torres' ability, and leaves her in charge of the away team. Torres continues to prepare the tractor beam plan.
Neelix reports to Torres that they have a clear path to the control room, but she is meditating. Finally Torres, Neelix, and Fesek reach the control room. As they attempt to seal the ruptured tanks, power fails. In the meantime, The Doctor finds that Pelk was attacked by some lifeform that has grown resistant to theta radiation. He relays this to astrometrics, where Seven finds the creature closing in on Torres and Neelix' position. Voyager has no choice now but to alter the freighter's trajectory with the tractor beam. However, the away team cannot be beamed out through the dampening field.
The "creature" attacks Neelix, but there is too much gas to see the attacker. Suddenly, Neelix stumbles out of the mist with heavy radiation burns. As Fesek tries to pry the hatch open, the "creature" attacks him from behind. Torres grabs a metal pipe to attempt to defend him.
Act Five Edit
The "creature", known in Malon myth as a Vihaar, turns out to be a Malon core laborer named Dremk, who has set out to sabotage the ship in order to show to the Malon that this form of shipping of waste should be banned. Torres tries to reason with him while she wages an inner battle between her anger at the dangerous situation she's been placed in and her desire to do the right thing. She tells him she understands his anger and that she is on his side, but he will not give up his cause. Torres knocks him out using a piece of piping, reluctantly realizing that sometimes her Klingon aggressiveness is the only way out of a situation. She, Neelix, and Fesek flee the control room and are beamed out just before the freighter flies into the star and explodes.
Later on in sickbay, The Doctor has healed the away team as best he can. The captain has contacted a nearby Malon transport to take Fesek home. He wonders how he can explain the events to his superiors, and Torres suggests he tells the truth about the Vihaar. Then Torres is finally able to take her sonic shower.
Memorable quotes Edit
"Whatever you say, Miss Turtle Head."
- - Tuvok, to B'Elanna Torres
"Take it from me, getting B'Elanna to control her temper is like convincing a Ferengi to leave his estate to charity."
- - Tom Paris, to Tuvok
"Once you get past the, the choking reflex, it's really, it's really not so bad."
- - Neelix, about his radiation remedy
"With any luck, we won't be needing it."
"I didn't think Vulcans believed in luck."
"As a rule, we don't, but serving with Captain Janeway has taught me otherwise."
"She does tend to succeed more than random chance would allow. I'll factor it into my calculations."
- - Tuvok and Seven of Nine
"B'Elanna, I need your expertise on this mission, not your bad mood."
- - Chakotay
"Flame, like emotion is a primitive force. Left unchecked it's chaotic, destructive, but if controlled it can be a powerful tool. The lamp controls the flame as you must learn to control your emotions."
- - Tuvok, to Torres
"He said he was attacked."
"Ah yes, the Malon boogeyman."
- - Chakotay and The Doctor
Background information Edit
- The final draft of the script for this episode was submitted on 15 January 1999.
- Dremk's name is never mentioned on screen but is from this episode's script.
Cast and characters Edit
- Alexander Enberg (unnamed Malon engineer) is better known for his recurring role as the Vulcan Voyager crewman Ensign Vorik.
- B'Elanna Torres actress Roxann Dawson liked how the anger of her own role was personified in the character of Dremk. She commented, "What's wonderful, and I think Star Trek does very well, is when they take external plot devices that reflect internal struggles. This episode does that very well." Dawson was also happy with the final encounter between the two characters. "Their final confrontation is a real eye-opener," she said. "It's a really fascinating confrontation." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 36 & 37) The actress concluded, "I think that the episode was very well-written and a lot of fun to do." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 53)
- Similarly, Neelix actor Ethan Phillips had high expectations for this episode. "I think it is going to be a powerful episode," he predicted. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 53)
Production and post-production Edit
- According to the unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 305), the Malon freighter's interiors were redresses of sets previously used for the Borg interiors of the earlier fifth season episode "Dark Frontier" and the freighter's helm console was a revamp of the equivalent console from the USS Dauntless, featured in the Season 4 finale "Hope and Fear".
- Ethan Phillips found this episode's production to be extremely challenging. "That was a real arduous show to film," he admitted, "because it had a lot of smoke, and a lot of grime, and a lot of dark, steamy, filthy places to work." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 53)
- Roxann Dawson had to do much recording during post-production. She stated, "I spent four hours looping [...] because so much of it was done in a way where we couldn't keep the soundtrack." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 53)
- This episode marks the final appearance of the Malon, who previously appeared in the fifth season premiere "Night" as well as the subsequent episodes "Extreme Risk" and "Think Tank".
- This episode's conclusion offers a rare glimpse of the sonic shower in action.
- It is not explained how Voyager encountered the Malon, tens of thousands of light years, from where they were first encountered in "Night" and "Extreme risk". The previous encounters with the Malon were before Voyager used the slipstreem drive in "Timeless", and the transwarp coil in "Dark Frontier", to cover the distance that would have normally taken 25 years to cover at normal warp speeds. Either Malon ships are faster, which is unlikely considering their less advanced technology, or they have access to another subspace vortex, like the one seen in "Night".
Reception and aftermath Edit
- Teleplay co-writer Nick Sagan, who was story editor for Star Trek: Voyager's fifth season and was involved in the writing of five of the season's installments, felt that this was the only one of those five episodes that he was not happy with. He also stated, "There was a lot of people working together so I don't really feel any authorship." 
- This episode received the worst ratings during the course of the series upon its initial airing, having been moved from its usual weekly spot, gaining only a 1.7 Nielsen rating and a 2.5 million share. 
- An autographed script of this episode was auctioned off for US$1700 on the 1999 Galaxy Ball, which was held for the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles. Among the presenters of the auction were Kate Mulgrew, Robert Picardo, Robert Beltran, Ethan Phillips, and Robert Duncan McNeill.
Video and DVD releases Edit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 5.11, 18 October 1999
- As part of the VOY Season 5 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Ensign Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Guest stars Edit
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Christine Delgado as Susan Nicoletti
- Alexander Enberg as Malon #3
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Pablo Soriano as operations division crewman
2368; actuator; analeptic compound; anesthezine; antimatter waste; ascender; biohazard containment procedures; Bird, Daniel; cc; centrifugal governor; chemical burn; communications; core laborer; corona; cortical stimulator; cranial ridges; cubic meter; decontamination bay; Delta Quadrant; electrostatic cascade; emergency containment field; environmental system; EV; Ferengi; freighter blight; grammar school; gyro-swing; holo-camera; industrial waste; infirmary; inoculation; isoton; Katyllian clove; kilometer; lightheaded; logic; luck; lung; Malon; Malon escape pod; Malon export vessel; Malon Prime; Malon transport ship; Malon warp ship; Malvin; maneuvering thruster; meditation; methogenic particle; microcellular scan; Milky Way Galaxy; morgue; myth; navigation; nebula; O-type star; occupational hazard; oxide; paint; photo essay; pressurization system; propulsion; rama leaf; sculptor; shield modulation; short range scan; Sivad; sonic shower; subdermal injector; Talaxian; Talaxian garbage scow; theta dampening field; Theta Corps; theta radiation; theta storage tank; tractor pulse; tricorder; uncoupler; vihaar; Vulcans; Vulcan meditation lamp; warp core; warp field; warp manifold; waste controller; waste management
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