Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S01E07 – Eye of the Needle

In the seventh episode of the first season of Voyager, WHAT A MASTERPIECE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

I’m still in awe. This is some quality storytelling, and I’m so impressed with the ferocity and emotive power of this episode. It’s a good sign for Voyager. If the writers can give this show a story this spot-on and strong within the first season, then I feel good about what’s going to come after.

If I had been able to watch this when the show first aired, I don’t know that I’d feel any different it. I kept thinking about how there were more than six seasons worth of episodes to go, meaning that there was no way they’d make it out of the Delta Quadrant in the seventh episode of the first season. Did that diminish the experience? No, I don’t think so. If I had experienced this as it aired, I would have known that there were still more episodes left in season one. The point being that I never expected this episode to resolve the major conflict facing the Voyager crew. I think that’s a pretty sensible expectation for the show, even at the time it originally aired!

And yet, I couldn’t help feeling hope. I really couldn’t. It’s a testament to how much I was able to immerse myself in the story. Initially, all I thought would happen was the transmission of messages through the wormhole. It’s not the greatest development of all time, but at the very least, the idea that the crew could somehow send brief messages home was comforting. Granted, Voyager had not been lost for a very long time, and I imagine that many friends and family members of the crew didn’t even know their loved ones were missing. Still, being able to inform them of what happened was a big deal.

The cycle begins here, and the script for “Eye of the Needle” brilliant escalates each new development. First, Harry Kim discovers a wormhole, only to be disappointed by the size and age of it. When they launch a microprobe in order to determine what’s on the other end of the wormhole, it becomes lodged in a gravitational eddy. Hope destroyed. And that’s the pattern! I recognize that this script does this over and over again, ramping up the odds and building the tension, and I don’t care. It works so well for me because it allows the writers to give the cast a chance to display a type of emotion their characters have kept pent up this whole time. They haven’t had a chance to seriously think about the odds of getting home until an opportunity presents itself.

I think Harry Kim personifies that reaction best out of the bunch, though Janeway is a close second in this regard. Gods, he is SO EXCITED about the possibility of reaching someone in the Alpha Quadrant, and it’s so sad to watch his dreams get crushed. The writers are smart to have him talk about how he never really was out of contact with his parents for more than a week at a time because that helps me to understand what kind of person he is. He loves his family, and the very idea of not talking to them for seventy years is a nightmare for someone like him. So he projects as much hope as possible on to each iteration of communication that he and B’Elanna come up with because… well, he doesn’t have much else, does he?

Other thank Harry, Janeway is the only other character who expresses a touching desperation to get home. (Which is not to suggest that others don’t want to get home, but matters are complicated for Tuvok, B’Elanna, Tom, and Chokatay. It’s not quite the same.) Watching her excitement is just as gut-wrenching as seeing it in Harry. She is so animated here, much like she was in “Parallax.” It’s more intense, of course, and I will forever be thankful for all the incredible scenes she has with Telek. They’re written with style and power, and both Mulgrew and Vaughn Armstrong give memorable performances as two people who must cope with the loneliness of space travel.

I made this point in the video, but I also realized what a huge development the team made in this episode, regardless of their success in returning home. They were able to transport matter THROUGH A WORMHOLE. Oh my god, DO YOU REALIZE WHAT A HUGE DEAL THIS IS? Of course, that’s part of the tragedy. They can’t even notify Starfleet of what they’ve done. It made me realize that the Voyager crew is going to have a lot to tell Starfleet whenever they do get home. How much new intelligence will they have? How many new species will they meet along the way? What new technology will they possess???

Jesus, see, I’m already doing it again, and I can’t help it. The events of this episode made me think of the future, and I got lost in the promise. The worst part is that I imagined that promise. As soon as the Voyager team successfully transported a test cyllinder and then Telek himself, I began to adjust my expectations. This wasn’t a distant idea. It was possible. It was completely possible. The entire crew could beam through the wormhole and make it back to the Alpha Quadrant. Perhaps they’d still have years left on their journey, but it wouldn’t be seventy years.

It’s at this point that the show reminded me that not everyone could make it home. I recognize that the Doctor holds a space within the show that’s quite similar to Data, but it’s only a surface level similarity. This episode does wonders to develop him as a character all on his own, and Kes is definitely a part of that. She’s the first crew member to treat the Doctor with respect and kindness, and she helps him to understand that he deserves that treatment. AND YET, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN ABANDONED IN THE DELTA QUADRANT HAD EVERYTHING WORKED OUT. So, while it’s sad that they didn’t leave, I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with that kind of abandonment. Plus, I also enjoyed the scene where Janeway was challenged by Kes, only to later take her advice and consult the Doctor on what he needed.

But let’s talk about this ending, y’all. It’s painful to watch because the crew’s hope of getting home is crushed, and then, the hope of them getting messages sent home is also crushed, and it’s just… it is a lot to deal with, y’all. But once again, Janeway and the others stick to their ethical obligations. They can’t pollute the timeline by going home twenty years into the past, nor can they allow Telek to warn Starfleet about the mission. They just have to hope that Telek is able to broadcast their messages once he makes it to the “present” time.


Thus, the crew has to move on, both literally and figuratively. It’s painful, but it has to happen. They can’t allow themselves to hope for anything to come through; they just have to continue the long, slow journey home. And maybe Telek did manage to find a way to get the messages sent before he died, but again, they can’t expect it. In that sense, “Eye of the Needle” is a harsh reminder of just how hard this journey is going to be.

The video for “Eye of the Needle” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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