In the sixth episode of the seventh season of Voyager, the crew’s monthly datastream contains a surprise. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
I do like this episode, but this is one of those cases where a comment or idea got in my head the other day, and now I can’t un-think it. “Inside Man” splits its story between time on Earth and on Voyager, which isn’t a bad idea, especially as this show approaches its end. I look forward to seeing more of Earth and Starfleet! But as I read over comments for “Fury” the day it was posted, I couldn’t get a single idea out of my head: Barclay is better developed than Kes was in her return. That wouldn’t be something that affected my view of this story, except I realize that Barclay’s characterization – which is very well done! – comes as the expense of regular Voyager characters!
Let me explain. As you’ll see in the video for this episode, I went into “Inside Man” being incredibly cautious about my excitement. This show really wasn’t going to get Voyager back home at the end of the sixth episode, you know? So there had to be a catch, a trick, a trap. Something explained away the possibility that the ship would arrive on Earth prior to the series finale. Even so, I was impressed with Dwight Schultz, who managed to give us a different version of a character he’d played numerous times before. But early into “Inside Man,” the writers make the decision to have Tom be the voice of caution reason within the story itself. It’s a great idea, but the problem is that they never spend any significant time exploring that. Honestly, that is what I wanted to see more of. Barclay is interesting, and this story focuses mostly on the progress he made and how it was undone by Leosa. But… he’s not a main character?
Here’s the main issue I have. Harry’s gullible nature is a MILLION TIMES MORE INTERESTING TO ME. His excitement over his mother’s cooking? The anticipation as he gets closer to this dream being reality? Show me that! Or perhaps show Harry as finally discarded his misguided optimism instead of making it a constant joke on the show. Are you telling me that after six years, he’s still the same person, yet Barclay changes after three or four guest appearances on Voyager?
You have the same problem with Seven of Nine. In this episode, the Holo-Barclay reveals that Seven is famous on Earth. Now, there’s no way to know if this is true. Did the hologram invent this to placate Seven? To make Seven feel some sort of affinity for him so she didn’t suspect his ulterior motives? Who knows? Yet once the writers introduce this incredible idea, they drop it. No, go back! That’s so fascinating! How does Seven cope with this journey knowing that she probably won’t be ostracized On Earth? Does she worry about seeming like an experiment to them? Something exotic and strange? Does this affect her view of humanity? WHY WOULD YOU BRING THIS UP AND ABANDON IT???
Look, I am as happy as everyone that I get to see more of Deanna Troi. It’s splendid! But the writers have to figure out a better balance between existing characters and the Next Generation ones, especially if they’re going to abandon elements that are far more interesting in support of development that isn’t going to matter as much in the end. Mostly, I feel really bad for Harry, but I wish the show had made that the story instead.
The video for “Inside Man” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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