Well, that was a bit sooner than I had expected: Seska was a rogue Cardassian agent all along!
Wait, I knew that…
I do mostly remember this episode from when it first aired. I remembered Martha Hackett as Seska sitting in Sickbay with the blue blanket/robe thing wrapped around her, and how quickly she went from confused friend to sneering enemy. Heck, she does a good job switching it up like that, so good for her. But here I am, approaching this episode as a re-watch. There’s a lot of Voyager I have yet to get to, but I was faithfully watching it for the first couple seasons. Safe to say, I remembered the Seska stuff.
So, here’s how I look at it right now: how well was Seska set up as a turncoat member of the crew?
And I’m not sure how to answer that. Seska has appeared in a few episodes so far, but she doesn’t really do much in them. Her biggest role was as one of the conspirators in “Prime Factors,” but so was Lt. Carey, the fellow B’Elanna beat out for Chief Engineer, but he’s a pretty bland Starfleet guy, and here he’s the other top suspect who may have given what turned out to be replicator tech to the Kazon, those discount Klingons that are hanging around the Delta Quadrant.
Here, she’s given something of a spotlight, revealing her as having a failed romantic relationship with Chakotay before eventually revealing she was a Cardassian infiltrator that managed to get herself into the Maquis to spy on Chakotay and his crew, leading the generally stalwart first office to wonder, between Tuvok and Seska, if anyone on his ship was actually on his side.
You know, besides Torres.
But here’s Seska, bringing Chakotay some mushroom soup after he was injured in a brief firefight with the Kazon. She had to break the rules to get it, so Chakotay decides to deny her replicator privileges for two days along with all co-conspirators, including himself despite the fact he didn’t know about the rule breaks until after he’s tried the soup. It’s a moment that says a lot about Chakotay, namely that he holds everyone to a high standard, and he won’t cut himself a break when those standards are violated, even if he was unaware of such moments. Would Janeway have done the same? Hard to say at this point, but he would.
Regardless, Seska is the only member of the crew who doesn’t have a blood sample onboard, claiming a childhood illness made her blood corrupt. The Doctor eventually reveals that her story, of a friendly Cardassian woman’s giving young Seska a blood transfusion, is impossible, and between that and some other moments, Seska is unmasked and even while still wearing a Bajoran face, goes full Cardassian in claims of needing to build alliances with the strongest allies possible, and the Kazon sure do fit that description. That the Kazon are treacherous brutes seems immaterial, but I think it’s safe to say the Cardassians, as a people, are second to maybe the Romulans for all-around treachery themselves. That Seska gets away makes her a possible reoccurring threat. In fact, she will be back with a Cardassian face as I recall.
But the only other suspect is the aforementioned Lt. Carey, a guy who has been given even less character development than Seska while being a hell of lot blander. Seska does make for an interesting protagonist, someone who makes Chakotay doubt himself, has a personal connection to the former Maquis crewmembers at least, and had no problem framing Carey for her crimes. The series could use a good cackling villain at this point, and she does fit the bill well, giving the evil and the personal at the same time, something the Kazon as a people lack considering the Kazon were set up as the main series villains to start.
So, maybe telegraphing the tragedy over the previous 10 or so episodes didn’t work, but it does give the viewer a moment where Chakotay asks Tuvok if Chakotay is that foolish, only to learn Seska had fooled the Vulcan as well, and that Chakotay is no more or less naive than most. That’s the sort of thing that might make for more interesting Chakotay moments in the future.
You know, if the series opts to use ’em.