There’s an extra in an early scene here, talking to Harry Kim, who was the time a Prince of Jordan. Today, he’s the king. He apparently was a big Voyager fan.
It’s good to be the king.
I was chatting with a friend recently, a Trek fan who can be called upon to wax poetic on almost any incarnation of the franchise save the more recent ones. He’s probably the first person I ever met who was part of that Voyager rehabilitation, the folks who were there to say the show wasn’t bad or anything, and to be clear, I don’t think I ever outright hated Voyager or anything. I just felt when the show was new that it couldn’t hold my interest the way TNG did for seven seasons.
Anyway, I was updating him on my progress here, and he started to say how the show changes over time, including a note that Neelix gets less annoying. I mean, I suppose he’d almost have to. But this episode here has a strong Neelix function as he starts a news show for the crew, something meant to mostly tell “good news” type of stories to boost morale, and that lasts all of ten minutes of screentime before Harry points out that Neelix has the potential to tell some really hard-hitting news stories. Before you know it, Neelix is looking into two ongoing plots from the past few episodes: the spy on the ship telling the Kazon stuff and Tom Paris’s recent bad attitude.
Yeah, Neelix solves two plots. Let’s set aside that Neelix has for the most part been portrayed as an annoying comic relief character, but the thing here is Neelix wasn’t really involved in either of those plotlines, and he wasn’t really a character in any sort of position to get involved, and he ends up dealing with both.
Making him a journalist does make some sense, and it’s not like Neelix doesn’t have the sorts of skills that could loan themselves to such a career path, Neelix, like most Talaxians apparently, is something of a scavenger. He is the sort of person who would know how to find useful treasure just about everywhere. He’s a negotiator, someone who can get what he needs in a wide variety of ways. His obnoxiousness is arguably more to make sure he’s still useful on the ship, something that would make him indispensable to Janeway so he can continue to stay on the ship.
Suffice to say, Neelix inadvertently cracks the spy case and the Paris case, but not before giving Paris a heartfelt farewell and relating a story that suggests Paris might be the Kazon spy. Tom’s not, of course. He’s the bait to catch the real spy. It just so happens Neelix fell for it, but then his insistence on asking questions to understand more of what’s going on likewise leads to Tom’s exoneration.
Yeah, the “Paris is suddenly a problem” thing was a trap set by Janeway and Tuvok to flush out the real spy. Paris’s departure on a Talaxian ship is intercepted by Seska and the Kazon because the spy told them all about it, and said spy then helps set the ship up for a Kazon ambush. Only Neelix’s general obnoxiousness and need to stay in everyone’s good graces (while simultaneously often doing the opposite) keeps him on the real guy’s trail to the point where Janeway and Tuvok let Neelix (and Chakotay, kept in the dark so as not to alert the probably disgruntled Maquis) know what was happening and ask him to, essentially, keep doing what he was doing.
Meanwhile, Paris rather easily escapes Seska and the Kazon in part because they locked him in a room with a communications relay. Um, why?
I guess the Kazon are just stupid.
So, is this the point where Neelix starts to become tolerable? I don’t know. But I think I might prefer a Neelix who doesn’t feel the need to be everybody’s buddy all the time.