In the eighth episode of the seventh season of Voyager, Harry gets a promotion… sort of. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
I don’t know that I have any major complaints or gripes about “Nightingale.” It’s a competent episode of the show, and it addresses the fact that Harry has remained an Ensign for six years, despite that this would never happen if they hadn’t been stranded in the Delta Quadrant. However, it’s not that memorable to me, nor is it doing anything particularly new or unique. There are a bunch of things here that are grabbed piecemeal from other episodes or other Trek tropes, but few (if any) are subverted in any meaningful sense.
And in the end, do either of these stories matter?
Look, it is strange that the show seems content never promoting Harry, refusing to grow him beyond certain traits, because so much of what has made Voyager engaging is watching everyone change. Literally all the cast except maybe Tuvok has gone through significant character growth. Tuvok, as a Vulcan, has a canonical reason for him remaining stagnant, but the show still uses his Vulcan nature to do a lot of cool things. But why keep Harry the same? Why then acknowledge in canon itself that it is odd for Henry to have been an ensign for this long, but never rectify that?
Well, the show does temporarily within “Nightingale,” and there are elements of this episode that I appreciated. It would have been unbelievable if Harry had assumed the role of captain of the Nightingale and been perfect. Instead, the writers have him learn the difficulties of command by throwing him into a complicated experience. He’s pressured to become a part of the Kraylor/Annari conflict, only to realize that he’s been duped. It’s something we’ve seen Janeway and plenty of other Starfleet captains deal with. What happens when you get embroiled in a problem that’s not your own? That’s forbidden by Starfleet protocol?
These are all neat things for Harry to face, and he fails at some while excelling at others. There’s even a neat moment where Seven helps Harry realize why his role is important! It’s not about demonstrating proficiency or knowledge, something Seven is very familiar with. You have to build trust within that relationship with your crew, give them chances to grow and learn on their own, and that can’t happen if Harry is constantly doing the work of everyone else. It’s perhaps my favorite scene in the whole episode because it makes sense that Seven would be able to impart this message. She’s had the closest relationship with Janeway in the last few seasons, so she knows what she’s talking about.
If anything, “Nightingale” just feels safe. Harry is taken to a point where he understands the unique challenges of being a captain, but instead of leaving him with anything, the episode ends with him returning to exactly the same character as he was before. He doesn’t earn a promotion, he doesn’t request more responsibility… it’s just the same? Maybe this is glaring to me because I love Harry as a character and I’m biased towards noticing this… HOWEVER. The episode does the SAME THING to Icheb! He’s not the first character in Trek history to struggle with attraction and sex and having a crush, but I was at least pleased to see Voyager deal with Icheb yet again. He’s been a great addition to the cast, and his story here is both complicated and awkwardly humorous. UNTIL THE WRITERS ABANDON IT AS SOON AS WE GET TO THE REALLY CHALLENGING PART. I cannot believe that B’Elanna would let that huge social faux pas stand. I CAN’T. She can see this kid struggling, she is painfully aware that he has misinterpreted the situation, and she chooses to let him believe WRONG INFORMATION. He will never learn! He will always think he was right!!! What gives, y’all? Why did the show did this? UGH.
The video for “Nightingale” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– Please visit my new site for all announcements. If you’d rather not have to rely on checking a website regularly, sign up for my newsletter instead! This will cover all news for Mark Reads, Mark Watches, and my fiction releases.