Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S05E23 – 11:59

In the twenty-third episode of the fifth season of Voyager, Janeway learns more about an inspirational relative. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Well, this was a charming episode, but as cool as it was to see Kate Mulgrew place a different character, the plot for “11:59” is stretched dangerously thin over forty-five minutes. It’s the sort of story that would do well to be contrasted with another major plot, like Star Trek episodes often do, but instead… well, it’s kind of a slow one.

There’s a lot of promise here, but most of the potential never comes to fruition. I’m intrigued by the idea that the history we learn of is often wrong, misinterpreted, or over exaggerated. Except… didn’t we already get an episode about this last season? “Living Witness” is still one of my favorites of the whole show, and it feels like a much more emotional version of what we see here. It’s a bolder concept than just a flashback, too, thus making it hard to compare the two.

Contrasting them, though, is a lot easier. Both episodes feature stubbornness in the form of someone who refuses to accept new information because it challenges their existing belief system. Henry Janeway’s stubbornness, however, is downright confusing at times. For an episode that devotes nearly all of its running time to this flashback, it is frustratingly short on details. Why exactly does Henry Janeway hate the Millennium Gate? We’re told in obvious terms that he’s a man of the past, that he loves his bookstore, that he worships the “classics,” and thus, he hates the Millennium Gate because… it’s new? That’s it? People are paid a hefty sum to move out of their homes and businesses, everyone’s pleased with it, and thus, Henry remains the last holdout. However, I never believed his opposition. At that point in history, technology was much, much more advanced than in our own world, so why cling so fiercely to a world without it?

Even worse, how the hell does Shannon O’Donnel fall in love with this man? If anything, the bulk of “11:59” left me feeling like any potential chemistry between Shannon and Henry was nullified by Henry’s irritating obstinance. Like, it wasn’t as if the company building the Millennium Gate was gonna bulldoze down Henry’s bookstore with him and his stuff in it. I understand the reluctance to move, and I even admire someone taking a stand for something they believe in. But my complaint is less about the politics of such an act and more about how the writers never truly sold this to me. I enjoyed Janeway learning to reclaim her past – even if lots of it was a myth – as her own because of how inspiring that mouth was. But Shannon O’Donnel didn’t feel like a separate character from Janeway, and Henry just frustrated me most of the time. His relationship with his son was so superficial!

Anyway, not a great episode, but at least the show tried to do something different. That’s worthy of praise!

The video for “11:59” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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