In the twelfth episode of the second season of Voyager, I WASN’T READY FOR HOW SAD THIS WAS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For talk of torture, mental illness, grief.
There are a lot of powerful elements to the script for “Resistance,” and I am definitely going to spend time praising Joel Grey’s and Kate Mulgrew’s performances in this episode. Without certain writing choices, I don’t think that this would have been nearly the same memorable episode. Indeed, this is not even close to the first time that a Starfleet crew has had to deal with the difficulty of getting embroiled in another culture’s political problems. It’s a common motif across all four shows, and I get why that’s the case. It’s inevitable; you can’t travel the galaxy without getting entangled.
Yet “Resistance” hits a lot harder than most of these episodes. The main conflict here is deceptively simple: the ship needs a specific chemical for the warp drives, so Neelix helps three other members of the crew go in disguise down to an unnamed planet to obtain it. They succeed at this mission and the warp drives are repaired by the fifteen-minute mark of the episode. It’s in the personal nature of the escape that “Resistance” becomes something else, and by gods, I WAS NOT READY FOR IT.
It would be foolish not to address how Joel Grey’s performance, alongside Kate Mulgrew, carries this entire episode. These two portray characters dealing with desperation, but both approach this idea so differently. Janeway is desperate to find Tuvok and B’Elanna and return back to Voyager. Caylem is desperate to find his wife, who was locked up in a Mokra prison long ago. Even worse, the despair and grief have affected him so strongly that his sense of reality has started to slip.
He believes that Janeway is his daughter.
From the first scene we get of Caylem, it was clear that his character was designed to break our hearts. You can’t ignore it. He caresses Janeway’s face with love in his hands, a frantic gesture that demonstrates his joy that his missing daughter has come back. The audience and Janeway know this is an impossibility, yet Janeway does her best to keep cruelty out of her actions. She recognizes instantly that Caylem’s daughter has probably been gone a long time and that this man means well. At the same time, his presence seems to constantly pose a threat. She can’t control him, she can’t escape him, and she can’t give him what he really wants or needs.
And yet, a beautiful companionship grows between them. Caylem saves Janeway’s life, as well as the the life of Darod, the resistance member that Neelix was in contact with. He does so by playing up the perception others have of him, and YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT BROKE MY HEART EVEN MORE. I’ll touch on that more at the end, but Caylem proves to Janeway that he has a value to her. She comes to respect the painful journey he’s been on and how guilt consumed his life, so much so that he is delusional about who Janeway is.
It’s the ending of their time together that messes me up the most. It would have been easy for this show to treat Caylem a lot more callously. But after Caylem sacrifices himself to take out Augris, Janeway gives Caylem what he’s always wanted. The supreme tragedy here is that Caylem’s daughter and wife died years before and he couldn’t accept it. SO HE KEPT TRYING TO BREAK INTO PRISON TO FREE THEM EVEN THOUGH THEY WEREN’T THERE AND MY HEART CANNOT HANDLE THIS. I adore so much that Janeway allows Caylem to have peace before he dies. Caylem gets closure, but the show also demonstrates how empathetic and thoughtful Janeway is as a character. She could have just left. She could have let Caylem die alone, but she choose the opposite.
Now, that story alone would have been enough to satisfy me, but WE MUST TALK ABOUT TUVOK AND B’ELANNA. If Caylem is unaware of truth about what the Mokra have done to him, then Tuvok is the opposite. B’Elanna listens in horror as Tuvok is tortured by the paranoid members of the Mokra, the occupying force on this planet, and the moment confuses her. How can Vulcans experience pain of that magnitude? It is through this that the script brings up the idea of resistance. Tuvok states that his refusal to give Augris what he wants was the highest act of resistance, and that got me thinking about Caylem. Wasn’t his refusal to leave the Mokra alone a form of resistance? Isn’t every thorn in the side of repressive institutions a small act of resistance anyway?
Aside from this, though, the scene establishes an amazing rapport between B’Elanna and Tuvok. She comes to understand him better, even if it is through heartbreak that this happens. And as much as it’s possible, Tuvok is vulnerable here, certainly more so than I think we’ve seen him before. We don’t even need to know what it is the Mokra did to him; it’s bad enough that he screamed repeatedly.
The worldbuilding for this resistance force is never detailed, but in the end, it didn’t actually bother me. It’s just the framework for Voyager to explore other issues, and it’s a damn fine episode because of that.
The video for “Resistance” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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