"Parallax", while certainly not as exciting as "Caretaker", was a fairly well-written second episode for the series. Already, we're starting to see the dissonance between the Maquis and Starfleet crews. It was inevitable, and a little predictable, but at least the story makes sense so far.
My thoughts on...
Hurrah, we see the first episode that reminds me of a good ol' story straight out of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Now, granted, I dig the technobabble because I want to major in Physics in college, but this was great. I'm a black hole fangirl. The science, as usual, was a little out there, but hey, it's Star Trek.
Even moreso than the paradox of one Voyager being the reflection of the other -- but really the Voyager was the reflection -- this mission forced the crew to work together. Chakotay and Janeway made an effort to work together in the face of adversity, and even the hotheaded B'Elanna Torres proved her worth in working through what could have proved disastrous for the crew. We saw some good indications in this episode that the crew won't always get along (i.e. the two Maquis revealing to Chakotay their interest in taking over the ship, B'Elanna's struggle with Starfleet, the lack of trust between certain crewpeople) but also that they'll eventually pull through like all casts of Star Trek: As a family.
This was an excellent episode for some basic personality layout, a peek into the pasts of a couple major characters, and how they work with others -- or don't.
We start to see the value of Neelix and Kes early in the episode. Neelix stands in series, it seems, as an outsider not only with a Federation crew, but at the same time in the Delta Quadrant. This is true despite the fact that he is of the Delta. Nevertheless, he and Kes add a lighthearted feel to the show in the face of what is no doubt peril for the rest of the crew.
Also shown are newer sides of major characters. Chakotay is revealed to have, despite his loyalty to the Maquis, a newfound loyalty to Janeway. He respects her position, albeit sometimes reluctantly, it seems. Even Janeway herself seems to harbour a reluctance to fully trust the former Maquis, just as they cannot trust her Starfleet crew. These extra dimensions give me a little more hope for the series. Bad writing can be excused, but flat characters can't. So far, so good.
What I hope to see more of is the Doctor! He's so funny and Ethan Phillips is a great actor. The whole "shrinking down" effect of the quantum singularity added an interesting twist to the plot, but I felt it didn't do much for the story or the character. Hopefully we'll see the Doctor shine a little brighter in the future. I'm sure hoping so!
Like most of Star Trek, this was a ship-based episode... Well, ship-and-black-hole. It was needed for furthering character development, and that's good. Nonetheless, we got to see more of U.S.S. Voyager, including a better look at Sick Bay, quarters on board, and an engineering section that wasn't going up in smoke and flames.
The quantum singularity -- very cool. I wish I had this season on DVD so I could have seen it better, but 'Trek's been making cool space effects since TMP.
The only other visual that stuck out to me was the Type-8 shuttlecraft that made its first appearance. I actually like the design of the shuttle better than the Voyager herself, but I've always been partial to those cute little shuttles and runabouts. Looks pretty standard on the inside; maybe a little cramped. Hate to be stuck in there more than half an hour!
THE SHINING STARS
Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, and Ethan Phillips I really felt shone in this episode. They all performed admirably with their characters and added a depth to the great dialogue and writing of "Parallax". I can't wait to see more of the Doctor. He's brilliant, funny, and witty.
Honourable mention goes to Roxann Biggs-Dawson as B'Elanna Torres. She did a wonderful job in her scenes. I especially loved the interaction between Torres and Janeway.
This was a great second episode, and has kept me sufficiently hooked on Voyager. I'd like to see some more of the Delta Quadrant, so hopefully exploring "new life and new civilization" is in store for us. Here's setting a course for the third episode!
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