In the eleventh episode of the first season of Voyager, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Seriously, GIVE ME A BREAK, VOYAGER. I am but one man, and I cannot handle yet another emotional gut punch. This episode… jesus, y’all. What a journey. I’m thinking about where this episode started, and it’s unreal to me how much the focus and point of it changed over the course of forty-five minutes. I remarked on video after the cold open that I thought it was neat that the crew was shown foraging for more supplies, and that’s where my brain was at the start. I was thinking about worldbuilding and how it would be necessary for Voyager to make pit stops in order to survive. I expect that we’ll see more of them. I even wondered if Chakotay being shot would be the focus of “State of Flux”! What if that weapon had some mysterious side affect?
Then there was the mushroom soup scene, which didn’t establish a conflict, but was vital in showing how the Maquis crew was dealing with being on a Federation ship. There was a bit of that in “Prime Factors,” too, some of it revolving around Seska and B’Elanna. Yet here, Seska is revealed to be a much more significant character in Chakotay’s life, even if their romantic relationship (!!!!!) had already ended. More so than any ex-Maquis crewmember, Seska was resistant to the kind of leadership within a Starfleet organization. Like I said, we saw that in the last episode! In hindsight, I can barely believe it took me so long to suspect her. She was hostile towards Janeway’s decision in the last episode and certainly goaded B’Elenna into defying orders. Why was I surprised that she’d go a step further than that?
Honestly, I didn’t expect it. I didn’t! I was so focused on other details that Seska’s true secret never even crossed my mind. Why would it? That’s the point. Her integration into the Maquis team was so complete and so believable that no one – not even Tuvok, WHO WAS A SPY HIMSELF – ever thought to question her loyalties.
So why risk this? Why give the Kazons the means to build a replicator? How is that possibly a good idea? In this, Voyager addresses something that really feels inevitable: someone in the crew feeling like Janeway is not doing what she should be doing. Initially, I wondered if Neelix had something to do with this, only because he was placed so prominently on the bridge to claim that the Kazon were probably setting a trap. Of course, I discarded that garbage theory because Neelix had absolutely no motivation to steal Federation technology. But what Seska’s betrayal reveals is a distaste for Janeway’s ethical system. Seska is just as far from home as everyone else, but we’ve seen overwhelming evidence that she’s desperate to get back as soon as possible. While the rest of the crew might be settling in and adapting to the situation, she has no interest in that.
It explains her behavior so well, doesn’t it? She’s sloppy and risky throughout this episode, telling lies that are easily uncovered and boldly trying to do what she thinks is best. It’s interesting to me that she hates what Janeway has done because she doesn’t even realize how hypocritical she’s being. She despises the way Janeway has adapted to this journey, despite that she is trying to adapt, too. Her decision to try to ally with the Kazon people isn’t the worst thing in the world; it’s just done so carelessly. She didn’t even help them install the replicator properly, and look how many Kazon died! She didn’t think about how it might shift the balance of power in the quadrant in a way that wouldn’t actually work in her favor. Instead, she takes a risk and then tries to hide evidence that she ever did it. What would she have done if she hadn’t been suspected? Would she have continued supplying the Kazon with supplies or technology?
She even invokes her being Cardassian (JESUS CHRIST, THAT TWIST CAME OUT OF NOWHERE) as reason for betraying the crew. Because apparently, a Cardassian would have already gotten home??? Okay, most of the Cardassians I’ve met are far more calculating than Seska is here, so WHATEVER. YOU MESSED UP AND GOT CAUGHT. It’s not Janeway’s fault!
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that Seska was an inevitability. Someone onboard Voyager would have split off from the crew at some point. The temptation of a short cut home is too great, and given how horrifying long the projected time is, it truly was only a matter of time. Of course, this is a lot more complicated than that. Seska being Cardassian is just… goddamn, that hurts. How many other lies did she tell to B’Elenna and Chakotay??? How much of her life is entirely fake? There are some really disturbing implications to this that are left entirely unsaid, but damn. I feel so bad for her former friends because… ugh, I just feel gross thinking about it! She lied to get close to them. And for what? Her own self-interest, in the end.
The video for “State of Flux” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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