In the fourteenth episode of the second season of Voyager, Janeway tries a new plan to guarantee the safety of the ship, but it doesn’t go well. AT ALL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For talk of sexual assault, oppression, slavery.
THIS WAS SO GOOD, OH MY GOD. Just in terms of how Voyager experimented with what stories it could tell, “Alliances” is a fine achievement, a chance for the writers to examine how Starfleet regulations might make little sense in the Delta Quadrant. Plus, the episode never hides from how deeply uncomfortable and tense this entire experience is. There are no easy answers, and one plot is left entirely unaddressed. EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING ALL OF THE TIME, AND I LOVE IT.
A Maquis Way of Thinking
It made total sense to me that Chakotay was the one to bring up the issue of flexibility to Janeway. If anyone had to try to survive in a hostile world while breaking the rules, the Maquis certainly understand that. At the same time, the show doesn’t back away from showing the visceral reaction that people like Janeway and Kim have. Both of these characters represent Starfleet’s finest, as well as people who are devoted to upholding the values and protocol of the organization. Therefore, the very idea of forming an alliance with a Kazon sect is pretty much heresy to them.
And yet, what are they supposed to do? The Kazon attack that opens this episode is BAD, y’all, and Voyager can’t sustain repeated attacks like it indefinitely. Thus, Chakotay’s idea isn’t the worst thing ever. It’s just uncomfortable.
Ideas and Execution
I wasn’t surprised that Kim objected to the plan. And I wasn’t surprised that Chakotay objected to contacting Seska, and let me just briefly talk about how fucked up it is that Janeway dismisses this so quickly. SHE STOLE HIS DNA. DOES NO ONE REMEMBER THIS??? Seska only announced it in front of everyone! And yet, the show completely ignores it, not just in that scene, but in the one where Seska tells Culluh she’s carrying his child. UM, SHE IS NOT. SHE DEFINITELY IS NOT. THAT IS WRONG. SHE ASSAULTED HIM. So it feels weird that Janeway talks about Chakotay getting his hands dirty when that’s not actually what’s happening here. I get that it’s smart that they reach out to Seska and Culluh, but the exchange could have been pulled off better.
Regardless, I think “Alliances” does the best job so far in showing us the different sects of the Kazon. The show just gradually moved in that direction, so we were always told about it. Here, though, the five sects seem drastically different from one another, and it helps to create an atmosphere of impossibility. Indeed, “Alliance” needed this to work! Janeway’s final monologue depended on it. After the first negotiations fell through, I figured that the show would have the Voyager ally with someone to make it through the rest of this season. That was the easiest solution, and I also assumed that it would be Culluh’s tribe.
Yet being allies is easier said than done, and this whole episode is one horrific example of why Janeway was right to assume that getting involved was a mistake. Culluh’s greed and misogyny distracts him, so much so that he pushes Janeway too far and the talks fall apart. Meanwhile, Neelix is kidnapped before he can even begin talking with the maje he sought out. The Kazon are fiercely competitive, quick to violence, and territorial. I’m not saying that this was a naïve attempt, and I admire that all of these people tried to broker peace.
However, let’s examine what happens with the Trabe. Here’s a group who largely appear willing to seek peace, and it’s in their best interest to. We learn that the Trabe brutally oppressed and enslaved the Kazon decades earlier, which is why the Kazon hate them so much. There’s a lot of willingness on the part of the Voyager crew to speak of forgiveness or to absolve the current Trabe people of responsibility, which felt SUPER weird. That’s not how this works??? The current Trabe society absolutely benefits from what the previous generation did. Regardless, I wondered if this could be a chance for a REAL peace accord. Part of me was eager to see it because I don’t really care for the Kazon. I don’t find them to be that compelling, and if this gave this plot closure? THEN YES. GO THROUGH WITH IT.
Even though they offered their good will and their good faith, the Voyager crew were STILL screwed in the end. I DID NOT SEE THAT DOUBLE CROSS COMING AT ALL. But Janeway’s point was made: getting involved in the affairs of these groups was a bad, bad idea. Thus, the end of this episode gives us no closure. The team are right back where they started at, and I imagine that the Kazon will be even more pissed at them. It’s going to be an endless cat-and-mouse game, isn’t it?
That’s a bold story choice, but I dig it. It’s satisfying, y’all. You know what else is? TUVOK GIVING JANEWAY ADVICE AND USING FLOWERS TO MAKE HIS POINT. This show needs a 200% increase in these scenes.
The video for “Alliances” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!