Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S04E16 – Prey

In the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of Voyager, I did not expect this to be so messed up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Well, this ended a whole lot grittier than I expected. LET’S DISCUSS.

The Hirogen

THEY ARE SO COOL AND SO SCARY AT THE SAME TIME. While this episode provides us a closer look at how their culture works, Voyager takes this all a step further. Is it moral to let them act out their culture if that behavior is in violation of Starfleet protocol? Where does the Prime Directive come into play?

The Hirogen are a hunter race; from our point of view, they seem excessively cruel and evil, but I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment of them. Their whole culture – their religion, their values, their weaponry, their vocabulary – centers around the thrill and honor of a hunt. At the same time, they’re supremacists; they believe that they are superior to all other species, which is why they clash so much with Janeway and the crew. Thus, I had to wonder what the unnamed Hirogen hunter in this episode thought of them after they healed him in ways he could not do himself. Did he consider them equals or superior in that sense? Was he flabbergasted by their display of compassion? Or did it ultimately mean nothing to him?

I’d probably guess the later, though that’s the sole problem with the script for “Prey.” It feels silly to cast the incredible Tony Todd on your show and then give them very little to work with. There is not much insight into this character given to us. We don’t even know that character’s name! Now, perhaps we’ll see them again if the Hirogens show up on the show, but I saw this as a bit of an oversight. What is this character’s motivation? Their reason for negotiating when the Hirogen race practically never negotiates? Is it just as simple as his desire for the prey?

Perhaps. I hope I learn more about them.

Species 8472

WHAT A GREAT WAY TO BRING THEM BACK, Y’ALL. Here, we get a tale of loneliness. Desperation. Revenge. And it’s so goddamn great when you contrast it with Seven of Nine’s story. She has an innate reason to feel prickly around Species 8472 after they killed so many Borg, but it’s an ironic feeling. How many other species feel as the Borg do towards Species 8472? HOW MANY???

It’s just one aspect of Seven of Nine that complicates this story. Now I understand why there was a scene featuring the Doctor trying to teach Seven how to improve her social skills. Seven has done a lot to try and assimilate into the culture onboard Voyager, but that doesn’t mean she’s succeeded. She still views things with her analytical Borg mind. In this specific case, she greatly disagreed with Janeway’s decision to beam aboard the Hirogen ship to learn more about the species and to bring the injured Hirogen onto Voyager to treat it. It made no sense to her; the Hirogens were a threat to the ship, so why not destroy them?

And initially, Seven saw the value in Janeway’s risky decision. But once the surviving creature that the Hirogens had pursued begins to track down its hunter on Voyager, Seven saw a simple solution: turn over Species 8472 in order to guarantee safe passage out of Hirogen space. (Well, at least temporarily, that is.) But how can Janeway hand over an injured creature that is just trying to get home? In that moment, I saw the tragic brilliance in what Brannon Braga had done: Janeway could relate to a creature desperately trying to get home. Seven of Nine could not. She viewed things purely through logic, and Janeway did not. That doesn’t necessarily make either of them wrong on the face of it; each of them had their own justifications for what they did.

So I saw this as a case to demonstrate how logic can be cruel. The idea that that creature got killed so that Voyager could escape felt so counter to everything Janeway stood for. It was horrifying, and it still disturbs me. Seven of Nine disobeyed an order – a huge one, at that – and now, the Hirogen are still out there. How is that going to work? Will the unnamed hunter sympathize with Voyager, or will they just send their companions after them at a later date? I don’t know the answer to those questions, y’all. I also don’t know what this means for Seven. How will this affect her presence on the ship, now that she’s restricted to her cargo bay?

THIS WAS SO MESSED UP.

The video for “Prey” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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