In the fourth episode of the seventh season of Voyager, this was so good! And then it wasn’t. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For consent, non-consensual medical procedures.
Oh, I really did enjoy this a lot right up to the point where thew writers of this episode did… what? Disappear? Go off to do something else? I am utterly perplexed by the final five minutes of “Repression” because it doesn’t really tell us anything we need to know. Which sucks because it’s so much fun otherwise! I don’t know if this episode shares directors with some of the past Voyager episodes that borrowed from the horror genre, but there’s clearly someone on this crew who appreciates that style of cinema.
It’s combined with an alluring set-up: someone is sending members of the Voyager crew into comas that last just 29 hours. All those crew members also happen to be members of the Maquis, and the perpetrator is somehow unable to be picked up on the sensors. It’s a classic mystery that would fit really well on The X-Files or in a slasher film, and the show exploits those sort of references to give us a thrilling and creepy nightmare.
Seriously, there are a number of moments here that feature some of techniques that I adore. I almost always love it when the “monster” or villain just appears in a frame when they weren’t there before. Those camera angles that mimic the POV of the creature attacking people? Executed brilliantly here. That scene where one of the victims is pursued and that line shines bright into the camera? All wonderful, all used perfectly, all contributing to the unnerving atmosphere that this script creates. It’s a brilliant combination of factors…
…which is precisely why it’s so upsetting that this falls apart so spectacularly in the end. It’s hard to talk about this journey because the context we’re given in the end doesn’t really explain anything, at least not in a way that left me feeling satisfied. Teero, played with max creepiness by Keith Szarabajka, is an interesting character in theory because he’s a Maquis member who was ostracized for his radical mind-control techniques. He kidnapped Tuvok long ago and hid a trigger within him, which he activates through a letter from Tuvok’s son that was sent via the Pathfinder project. God, ISN’T THAT A GREAT PREMISE. Even better: this episode’s script deliberately hides the reason why Teero wants to “re-activate” Tuvok until the very end. Even when we discover that Tuvok was using his mind-meld ability to RECRUIT OTHER MAQUIS THROUGH MIND CONTROL, I was on board. What was the big mystery? Why had Teero done this? What was his endgame?
Unfortunately, it’s like the writers couldn’t figure out an answer to that, so they wrote that very realization into the script itself. There’s a moment where Janeway is begging Tuvok to listen to her because Teero’s plan makes no fucking sense at all, and that’s the answer. THAT IS ALL THEY GIVE US. Teero wanted the Maquis to take over the ship – despite that the rebellion ended three years ago and nearly all the Maquis is dead – just because. There is literally no motivation given to us either!
And given how dramatic and shocking Tuvok’s transformation was into this violent sleeper agent, it was extra confusing that his transformation back to himself happened in the span of a single sentence and without any other indication that it had occurred. The show barely tells us anything other than that Tuvok listened to Janeway and just… broke the programming? I think? Did he have to mind-meld everyone in order to break their programming, too? I don’t know, y’all. This episode just ends.
Bah, it had so much promise! I hate being disappointed.
The video for “Repression” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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