July 21, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Nemesis”

Chakotay is stuck between two sides during a war.

Well, for all my talk of this series becoming “The Seven of Nine Show,” I don’t think she even appears in this episode.

It’s just as well.  I was spending the episode trying to figure out the plot twist because the episode was clearly set up with one.  And while I did guess part of it, the final denouncement was not exactly what I figured, and I will say, this episode did find a different way to present an alien species.  The Vori look completely human, but they also have this rather unique way of speaking, an overly formal or poetic style of talk that is both different but not impossible to figure out.  They call their enemies the Kradin “nemesis,” they refer to dying as “nullfiying,” they call trees “trunks,” and they don’t seem to have a word for family such that they always reference all of their relative types when they say things about brothers, father, mothers, etc.  There’s more to it, and I was actually somewhat impressed by the vocabulary used and how to make it look like an alien culture when the rest of the time, they were just guys in fatigues with what looks like gunpowder-based weapons.

There’s a part of me that thought it looked like a low budget Vietnam War movie.

So, here’s the deal:  Chakotay is found on an alien jungle planet by the Vori, and while he is tied up, their commander easily points out he is not a Kradin and lets him go.  Chakotay says he was flying a shuttle recon mission when he was shot down, and he would just like to return to his ship.  He’s told he shouldn’t, and over time, he bonds with the Vori, finds himself in a harmless village, and before too long, he is entirely sympathetic to the Vori and their cause.

Yeah, that Vietnam War movie thing had me wondering if the Vori were stand-ins for the Vietnamese and the Kradin, who seem to have better tech, might be the Americans, but that’s not what’s going on.

In fact, as soon as it became clear that the Vori rookies had never seen a Kradin, I knew that, because this was Star Trek, that some sort of twist was coming.  So, what was it?  My first thought was the Kradin didn’t exist, or in some sort of classic Trek move, would turn out to be basically the same as the Vori and not the monstrous beings the Vori commander described.  I likewise thought the Kradin might turn out to be female Vori, that it was a battle of the sexes sort of scenario, and that was why the Vori troops only referred to fathers and brothers, but then the Kradin appeared on-screen, and they were obviously not Vori of any kind and very real.

If anything, they looked like cheaper versions of the Predator.  It’s not bad make-up for 90s Star Trek by any means, but it isn’t anywhere near as good as a big budget Hollywood movie, and the Kradin look like they’re probably inspired by a certain alien hunter.

So, the Kradin are real.  What else could the twist be?  Maybe they’re the good guys here.  You know, the “ugly” aliens are in fact benevolent and the human-looking ones are not.  That’s not quite right.  While Chakotay and the Vori find evidence that the Kradin are committing war crimes such as desecration of graves (the Vori actually believe the dead should be buried face down in an interesting detail) and there’s talk of, let’s say, camps, that could just be the Vori demonizing their opponents, a tactic Chakotay says is common in war at one point, but that may or may not be actually happening.  More on that in a bit.

Now, back on Voyager, Janeway is trying to find Chakotay and has made contact with a local ambassador for help.  Said ambassador isn’t shown right away, and even though he talks like a Vori, he must be a Kradin right?  That actually turns out to be the part I guessed correctly as Tuvok suggested a single crewman–himself–working with a squad of commandos from the ambassador’s people could Chakotay easily enough.  Tom Paris in this episode really wants to go for some reason, but that’s never really elaborated on.  All I know is Paris really wants to be the guy to go, and I didn’t know Paris even liked Chakotay that much.  Regardless, I was not surprised to see Kradin step off the transporter pad.

But the Kradin Chakotay saw were committing all the war crimes the Vori claimed they would.  What was the deal here in then end?  There had to be a twist, and it came up when a Kradin stepped forward to a battle-crazy Chakotay and claimed to be Tuvok.

Yes, it seems everything that happened to Chakotay was a half-explained simulation the Vori use to recruit and train new soldiers.  By the end, Chakotay really hated the Kradin, even after he’d been cured of the brainwashing because it is no easy thing to turn off hate.  But aside from guessing Janeway got help from the Kradin, all of my other predictions proved false.  According to Janeway, the Kradin really were committing the war crimes, but so were the Vori.  It was an ugly war, but the Kradin were real and really fighting back.  There’s no resolution for the war as this is beyond the Voyager crew’s capacity to resolve.  The twist was there, but not what I was expecting, so I can count that as a clever solution to the problem at hand.

I just wish I wasn’t so on-alert for a twist at all.