Star Trek: Voyager “The Fight” (part 3 of 5)
Cut to the bridge. Some amount of time has passed, and the crew has figured out how to re-configure the shields so that they work in chaotic space, or so they think. Now that they’re convinced they won’t run into anything, Janeway has Paris take the ship forward. By the way, how could they run into something else? What else could fit inside this tiny little shell with them? From the visuals a while ago, that would be like accidentally running into someone else while walking around in a phone booth.
Now that I think about it, the “two light years across” line was probably meant to indicate Voyager is trapped in a huge expanse, even though the special effects don’t give that impression at all. Nearest I can tell, “chaotic space” looks a lot like one of those Java applets on web pages where you can distort the faces of politicians.
Turns out they do encounter something, although they don’t actually run into it. “It” is the hulk of an alien ship, drifting dead in chaotic space. When they investigate, they find a distress call with the last words of the ship’s captain. It was all about how the stars were making “too much noise”, and so forth, so clearly he was coming unglued. They’re able to read the ship’s logs too, and it confirms the captain and engineer were experiencing hallucinations before they kacked.
The alien ship’s sensors were more advanced than Voyager’s, but the ship still got trapped in chaotic space. They lasted a year before they finally succumbed, but again, I’m guessing that Voyager will be in chaotic space for another 27 minutes or so.
Janeway orders Kim and Torres to use parts from the alien ship to enhance Voyager’s sensors, which never becomes important. Meanwhile, the Doctor plans on transporting the alien ship’s captain over to Voyager for an autopsy.
In what was surely a budget-conscious choice, we don’t get to see Kim and Torres working on the alien ship, nor do we even get to see the alien captain that the Doctor carves up. What the hell? The alien is dead, so it doesn’t even have to move, right? This would have been a perfect time to finally show an alien that doesn’t just look like a human actor with bumps on his or her head. Making an alien corpse couldn’t have cost that much, could it?
Apparently so, because the next thing we see is the Doctor briefing Janeway and Chakotay on the results of the autopsy. [Editor’s Note: Ultimately, the only remotely interesting thing about this alien ship is that the CG model was later reused on Enterprise, as an unmanned Romulan drone. —Albert]
The short version of the Doc’s report is that something stripped the protective protein cover from the alien’s optic and auditory neurons. The Doctor concludes that this caused the hallucinations, and the same thing is happening to Chakotay.
The Doctor speculates that something in chaotic space is messing with DNA, somehow specifically targeting Chakotay’s “crazy gene”, while leaving everyone else alone. The Doctor worries about finding a way to deactivate Chakotay’s crazy gene, which makes no sense. The doctors were able to do it once for him, when he was still in the womb, so why can’t the Doctor do it again?
Chakotay then proposes a way to deactivate his crazy gene. Any guesses? C’mon, you must have some idea. Especially if you’ve seen a lot of Chakotay-centric episodes of this series. Or if you’ve seen any Chakotay-centric episode of this series, actually.
That’s right! A vision quest! Ugh. So, I guess this means we’re going to have another hallucinatory episode within the (still ongoing) flashback.
The Doctor is worried that a vision quest could “agitate” Chakotay’s mind, but Janeway gives him the okay anyway. I understand that by this time in the series, Janeway had been on a vision quest of her own at the encouragement of Chakotay, so she must be certain that the way to deactivate crazy genes lies within an altered state of consciousness. The Doctor gives in, but he makes Chakotay wear a cortical monitor—another BLiFNAR medical device—so he can be monitored.
Chakotay returns to his quarters to begin his vision quest. Just in case we don’t “get” what he’s doing here, more “Native American” music plays as he begins the ceremony. He calls upon his spirit guide, who goes by (I think) “Akoochimoya”. Or it could be “Hoochiemomma” for all I know.
In the vision quest, everything’s blue and hazy as Chakotay immediately runs into his Grandfather somewhere in the jungle. You know, the crazy one. Is it just me, or does every Native American character in a movie and/or TV show have a Crazy Grandpa? And not only that, but a Crazy Grandpa with a strong resemblance to Will Sampson?
Chakotay seems to be back in his youth; he argues with Crazy Grandpa about him not taking medication that would make him not crazy anymore. Grandfather pretty much just says that he likes being crazy, and wanders off, saying he’s going to the place where his spirit lives.
Please, please, please don’t tell me that they think they’ve found heaven again.
Chakotay follows Crazy Grandpa, but instead of finding Saint Peter (or the approximate equivalent), he starts hearing the sounds of a boxing match again. This time, there’s also a roaring crowd included. Chakotay abruptly finds himself alone in an off-kilter boxing ring, still in his Starfleet uniform. This ring is actually more trapezoidal than square, and he looks around wildly, trying to figure out what’s going on.
Zap! End flashback! Chakotay wakes up in Sickbay, with the sudden revelation that aliens were there—in the vision quest hallucination within the flashback—watching him in the boxing ring. How the heck does he know that? Are we supposed to conclude that the crowd, heard but unseen, were these aliens? And how did he end up in Sickbay, when we clearly saw him beginning his vision quest in his quarters?
Chakotay further deduces that these aliens were trying to tell him something, but he doesn’t know what it was. Hmmm. “Don’t lead with your chin,” perhaps?
The Doctor asks if the aliens are still with him, and Chakotay confirms that they are. The Doctor wants him to let the aliens speak to him, but Chakotay refuses. He doesn’t want to go crazy like Crazy Grandpa, but given that all these hallucinations are already happening, I’d say that ship has sailed. And anyway, wasn’t this why he went on the vision quest in the first place? To find out the source of his crazy gene being switched on?
The Doctor dresses him down a bit, telling him that he must trust the aliens. He has to “open his mind, and let go.” Chakotay calms down a bit, and through him we hear some of what the aliens are saying. It turns out to be technobabble about the “18th dimensional variant”, “trimetric fractures”, and “rentrillic trajectories”.
Chakotay has thus provided us with the alien-to-technobabble translation; Allow me to provide the technobabble-to-English: “Voyager is doomed unless I, Chakotay, can rush to the bridge and push some buttons in the correct way right before the episode ends.”
Overwhelmed by all the technobabble, Chakotay stops listening to the aliens. He crumples, exhausted by the effort of saying things like “rentrillic trajectory” with a straight face.
After the commercials, Janeway is talking to the Doctor, while Chakotay appears to be zonked out on one of those wonderfully comfortable Sickbay beds. Janeway goes to Chakotay, asking him to talk to the aliens again, so they can explain the whole Rentrillic Whatever thing. Her pep talk is basically, “you might go crazy, but it’s better than being sane and dying in chaotic space”. This is a rather persuasive argument, so Chakotay agrees to try again. Exit Janeway.
Unfortunately, Chakotay can no longer hear the voices. The Doctor’s solution is to tell Chakotay to think back to a time when his mind was more receptive. Thankfully, there’s no flashback within the flashback here. Instead, it’s more of the vision quest within the flashback.
Chakotay is back in the trapezoidal boxing ring. There’s a large lamp swinging over his head, which “artfully” causes his face to switch back and forth between light and shadow. His opponent is there, and according to his robe, he’s “Kid Chaos”—like chaotic space, get it?
Kid Chaos has his back to us, and the hood of his silvery robe is up, so we can’t see what he looks like. Tuvok and a security team appear in the vision quest for some reason, and they all have phaser rifles. They take a bead on Chaos, and Chakotay orders them to set their phasers on “kill”. Huh. Kill a lot of people in your vision quests, Chakotay? For some reason, I always thought these things were supposed to be pretty peaceful. I guess you really don’t want to cross the spirit of Hoochiemomma.
Boothby shows up to chew Chakotay out for wanting to kill Kid Chaos. He says it “isn’t exactly the Marquess of Queensberry rules”. Hey, if the Marquess had had access to a phaser rifle, he probably would have used it.
Vision Quest Tuvok, speaking for all of us, says, “Tactical advice from an Academy groundskeeper?” Chakotay chooses to listen to Boothby, telling his security team to stand down.
Suddenly, Chakotay is out of his Starfleet uniform, and is now wearing a simply marvelous purple satin boxing robe. He has his gloves on and everything. Plus, the name “The Maquis Mauler” is emblazoned on the back of his robe (told you!). So, as it turns out, he has to fight Kid Chaos in the boxing ring in order to communicate with the aliens. Makes perfect sense, right?
Paris appears in the vision quest, holding what looks like a Kindle, and pokes his head into the ring. He tells Chakotay that the odds are against him in this fight. No kidding! Boothby taught him how to fight, after all.
Vision Quest Paris says that the bout is already being called the “Disaster in the Delta”, and there’s still time for Chakotay to chicken out. Boothby, ever eager to see Chakotay get his clock cleaned again, just goads Chakotay on. Paris, miffed, leaves. And I’ve got no idea what the point of having Tom Paris in this scene was. Much like the rest of the series, actually.
Chakotay does some shadow boxing to warm up, all the while checking out the back of Kid Chaos. Chaos, by the way, looks pretty imposing, especially compared to Chakotay.
Apropos of nothing (except the fact that this is a hallucination, so why not?), Neelix storms into the ring. He has a problem with the scheduling of the bout, saying that Chakotay hasn’t had time to train properly. Chakotay believes him, and says so to Boothby. Meanwhile, Ray Walston is wearing the exact same confused expression as I am as I watch this. Vision Quest Neelix rushes Chakotay out of the ring.
As I’m sure you know, in most sports-related movies, there’s the training montage. Where the underdog is shown working, working, working, harder, faster, gonna fly now, in order to get ready for the ultimate contest. That’s basically what we get here. But because this script was written by a crack baby, it’s actually one of the weirdest training montages ever.
First, Chakotay is wailing on a heavy bag, apparently hung from the ceiling of Voyager’s bridge [!]. How did they find a stud to put the eye hook in? Oh, right, hallucination.
As Chakotay slugs it out with the heavy bag, other crew members appear in the doorways of the briefing room, and Janeway’s ready room. For no particular reason, all of them try to talk Chakotay out of the fight. From the briefing room, Kim says he doesn’t want to lose his role model. Wait, Chakotay is Kim’s role model? No wonder he was an ensign for seven years.
Janeway magically teleports from the briefing room to her ready room, and says she doesn’t want to lose her second-in-command. Torres appears and calls him selfish. The Doctor even appears on the viewscreen, calling Chakotay punch-drunk. Chakotay blows them all off and continues to punch away, because even in his own vision quests, he’s kind of an uptight prick.