Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S03E25 – Worst Case Scenario

In the twenty-fifth and penultimate episode of the third season of Voyager, THIS EPISODE IS SO COOL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 


The Opening

I admire how outright confusing the opening scene is of this show, especially since the editing, costuming, and story cleverly disguises when this is taking place. An offhand comment from Tuvok, Kes’s hair, and the appearance of Seska – pre-reveal of who she really is) – all helped me to figure out when this might have occurred, but the how was still a mystery. A flashback? A dream? Something else?

The Newest Fad

NO, IT’S A MYSTERIOUS HOLONOVEL WRITTEN BY SOMEONE BACK WHEN VOYAGER LEFT THE ARRAY AND NO ONE KNEW IT WAS THERE. Y’all, this is absolutely one of the best ideas in any Star Trek episode, and you know what’s even better than that? The fact that it is executed so well. Let’s talk about how this trendy holonovel affects the crew because it’s so fascinating to me! Initially, B’Elanna accesses it and keeps it to herself because… well, it’s controversial, isn’t it? The whole idea behind the novel – that Chakotay led a Maquis uprising on Voyager – is so deliciously offensive that B’Elanna feels kinda wrong about it.

Yet it’s written in such a compelling light, one that proposes a possible set of realities from that premise. I gotta say that “Worst Case Scenario” gave me a real sense of why holonovels are so addictive to the crew, and I’m actually surprised we haven’t seen more of them. They’re a combination of LARPing and choose-your-own-adventure stories!!! AND YOU CAN START BACK AT THE BEGINNING EACH TIME, TOO! Which is what Tom does when he gives the story a chance, and despite that many elements of the story remained unchanged, it was still a treat to see it eventually morph into something new once Tom tried to defy Chakotay instead of joining him as B’Elanna had done.

On top of that, the popularity of the holonovel creates a new mystery: WHO THE HELL WROTE IT? My initial guesses were Chakotay and Janeway. Janeway was taking a risk in trusting Chakotay at the start of the series, so it made sense that she might prepare for the worst case scenario if Chakotay and the Maquis could not integrate into the crew. Then, I theorized that perhaps Chakotay authored this as a gesture to Janeway, to show her he was serious about becoming part of the crew. Thus, he provided her with a resource for a training exercise! Right? It makes sense!

But there was a clue the whole time, one I ignored because I didn’t see Tuvok as being capable of writing such intense emotions. Tom notices the rigidity of Tuvok’s clinging to logic and protocol within the holonovel, and that should have been the hint that Tuvok was the author, that this all was a training exercise he started in case things went badly.

Started. Did not finish, y’all.


Which means that “Worst Case Scenario” then turns into one of the funniest things Voyager has ever done: multiple characters arguing about the best type of fiction. Is it high drama? Suspense and tons of plot twists? Emotional drive? OH MY GOD, EVERYTHING THESE CHARACTERS SAY SOUNDS LIKE STAR TREK FANS ARGUING OVER THIS VERY SHOW. It’s beautiful. Hilarious. Tragically meta.

But you know why else I loved it? Yes, it’s a clever way for the show to talk about narratives, surprises, plot twists, and character motivation. Yet as each of these characters approached Tom and Tuvok to ask for what they wanted in the next installments in the novel, it became painfully obvious that these people craved entertainment. We take this for granted because we have so much of it available to us. However, the people aboard Voyager have a limited amount of programs and novels on the holodeck. Tuvok’s program is the first “new” thing they’ve gotten in YEARS. LITERAL YEARS.

Oh my god, I hope a huge holonovel community springs up after this. Can. you. fucking. imagine. It would be like AO3 but in the holodeck. THIS IS TOO GREAT, SOMEONE WRITE THIS FIC.


Admittedly, the final third of “Worst Case Scenario” is the weakest of the episode. Seska isn’t exactly the most intimidating antagonist, though I was amused by her being so petty that she hid this whole program within something else, just in the hope that one day, Tuvok would open it and she could get her revenge. Like… that is petty. I respect that!

But there’s just so much depth to the other parts of “Worst Case Scenario.” There’s the tension of the very existence of the holonovel, which almost feels like literary contraband. Then, there’s the beauty of watching the crew fight over how to end it. Yet the conclusion comes from a lot forced tension and a clever twist to take Seska out. It was cool seeing Janeway figure out that she could edit the story in real time to keep Tuvok and Tom alive! I enjoyed that. But the scenes that came before this one were the best parts for me.

Oh god, I have become these characters complaining about a holonovel, haven’t I? IT’S TOO META.

The video for “Worst Case Scenario” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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