In the twelfth episode of the sixth season of Voyager, keep Voyager weird. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Seriously, I’m a broken record, but I can’t get over how ambitious this show can be at times, and I mean that in the best way possible. Yet again, “Blink of an Eye” sounds so ridiculous once you strip it of context, but it works. IT WORKS SO WELL.
Initially, though, I didn’t really buy this episode, especially once it was revealed that one second on Voyager meant that nearly a day passed on the unnamed planet. That decision seemed to strip the scenes off Voyager of any meaning or weight. How could I develop any attachment to these people or their culture if they literally didn’t exist five minutes later? If anything, it was merely fascinating to watch the culture develop from the earliest moments – complete with those terrible, terrible costumes in the first planet scene – to their rejection of religious superstition. I realize now that the two initial scenes on the planet were remarkably necessary, even if they felt clumsy at times. The show had to establish the changing cultural norms, from reverence and fear to an active interest in what the Sky Ship was.
Of course, there was a huge dilemma written into the core of this conflict: Voyager couldn’t leave without causing more seismic activity, and yet their continued presence was getting them closer and closer to violating the Prime Directive. Hell, I understand why Tom argued that the Prime Directive had already been violated at this point. It certainly seemed like it had! Yet Voyager technically hadn’t made first contact throughout this. They just existed in the sky, a sparkle of light that seemingly caused random earthquakes. As Janeway put it, they’d simply folded themselves into the general mythos of the planet. But how could they leave without initiating contact of some sort? How could anyone visit the planet to solicit help in understanding the tachyon field that surrounded this world without aging years in the process?
The writers’ decision to send the Doctor down to the planet to gain knowledge was the moment that “Blink of an Eye” truly grabbed me. At first, it seemed strange that the show wouldn’t show us a single second of the Doctor’s time on the planet, which amounted to THREE GODDAMN YEARS, but as he shared his experience with B’Elanna and Janeway upon being rescued, I saw the appeal in keeping this story focused more on Voyager than the other characters. Given that time passes so quickly on that world, we never could spend any significant amount of time there. It wouldn’t have made sense, especially since with an hour of Voyager’s time, that entire generation would have died off.
Instead, the show cherry picks generations to give us, and those glimpses give this story an immense meaning. As the superstitions die away and a genuine curiosity for space travel is fostered, we see parallels to our own development as humans. That scene where Gotana-Retz and Tureena travel to Voyager has visual cues to remind the audience of our own collective memory of space flight. It was a brilliant choice, made even better because of what comes of it. I LOVED THE TRANSITION FROM ONE TIME PERIOD TO ANOTHER. I loved that the show highlighted what a huge moment this was for Gotana-Retz, whose entire childhood was based on the existence of the Sky Ship. He met the people responsible for the entire mythology of his world! That’s so meaningful, you know?
Even though we didn’t get much time on the planet itself, the writers found a way to make this an emotionally heavy episode. That’s talent, y’all. The fact that the final image – of an elderly Gotana-Retz watching the Sky Ship leave his people’s planet – could be so powerful speaks to how well-crafted the episode was. ALSO: THE DOCTOR HAD A SON IN THE THREE YEARS HE WAS ON THE PLANET. WHAT THE FUCK.
The video for “Blink of an Eye” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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