In the fifteenth episode of the sixth season of Voyager, well, that was a weird one. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent.
A lot happened in this episode, but in the end, not much actually happened. The plot here felt very much like an Original Series episode, or perhaps something from season one of The Next Generation. It’s simplistic, even if the writers attempted to add some depth through the character of the unnamed Hirogen.(Why was his character unnamed? How did they ever announce him as a fighter?) I felt like the show had the chance to use The Rock, wrote a script around it, and then hoped we would find it compelling? Look, I find The Rock compelling all the time, so I’m not complaining about that. HE WAS SO GORGEOUS HERE. But what did this episode say about anything?
It’s hard to come off of the recent batch of emotionally heavy episodes to get this one, and I don’t want this to come off as a way of me saying that you can only write episodes with certain themes or tones. The problem I have is that “Tsunkatse” develops this really disturbing idea – that Penk has been kidnapping fighters to work in the Tsunkatse ring without pay or hope of freedom – and then abandons that premise like halfway through the story. Did no one ever try to fight of Penk or his guards? Did anyone try to escape? Did these fighters just accept their fate? Why did they all seem so willing to go along with the fight without any motivation given to them?
But it’s the ending that mystifies me the most. After learning that Seven and Tuvok were kidnapped, after watching Seven get her ass handed to her by the Champion, after learning of this whole wretched system to broadcast the fights in a way to keep the system free of scrutiny, Voyager rescues Seven and the Hirogen… and that’s it. There’s nothing else done. This episode tries so hard not to criticize any element of this industry that it ends up not saying a single thing. The closest it comes to perhaps being critical is when The Doctor vocalizes his feelings to Neelix. But even that moment is over seconds later, everyone enjoys the fight, and there’s not one bit of discussion on how this whole form of entertainment lacks any real consent.
It was cool seeing Seven learn how to fight, and I was thrilled that both J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Combs returned to Star Trek so soon after Deep Space Nine ended. I just don’t have much to say about this episode because it really didn’t say much to me.
The video for “Tsunkatse” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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