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Star trek: Voyager 6.03a - Alice

Stardate around 53200
Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Episode propaganda

During a stopover at a space junkyard, Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) convinces Chakotay (Robert Beltran) to purchase a sporty space shuttle which Paris then constantly labours over to repair its extensive technology - but he's oblivious that the craft has assumed a sexy female persona (Claire Rankin) that influences his mind to suit her own dangerous agenda.

Paris becomes addicted to Alice, the loving name he bestows on the sleek shuttle that comes complete with an invasive personality capable of convincing him to cannibalise vital parts from the Voyager's systems to retrofit her own. In need of a pliant pilot to get to her destination, Alice tricks Paris into blasting off in the mini-ship while evading Janeway's (Kate Mulgrew) desperate attempts to chase them.

Persons of interest

  • Kate Mulgrew .... Captain Kathryn Janeway
  • Robert Beltran .... Commander Chakotay
  • Roxann Dawson .... Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
  • Robert Duncan McNeill .... Lieutenant Tom Paris
  • Robert Picardo .... the Emergency Medical Hologram
  • Ethan Phillips .... Neelix
  • Tim Russ .... Lieutenant Tuvok
  • Jeri Ryan .... Seven of nine, tertiary adjunct to Unimatrix 01
  • Garrett Wang .... Ensign Harry Kim
  • Majel Barrett .... USS Voyager computer voice
  • Claire Rankin .... Alice
  • John Fleck .... Abaddon
  • Juliann Delayne .... Storywriter
  • Bryan Fuller .... Screenwriter
  • Michael Taylor .... Screenwriter
  • David Livingston .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Intelligence report

Vis à vis.

In that episode Paris gets obsessed with working on an alien spaceship and its owner steals his body to further their own end. In this episode, Paris gets obsessed with working on an alien spaceship and it steals his mind to further its own end. The bad part about this is that they're already recycling their own stories. It's ok to steal plots from the other series (like Voyager's False profits stealing from The next generation's The price, but not from themselves. That's just being silly. The good part is that someone over at Voyager Inc finally noticed that little Tommy has been getting all obsessed with things other than the hottest Klingon mongrel in the Delta Quadrant (although the residents of Deck 9, Section 12 aren't complaining) and have begun to address that problem. It's great to see characters picking up on the same things that nitpicking Trekkies do and then doing something about it.

Robert Duncan MaNeill gets a whole heap of screen time in Alice, for once doing more than steer the ship. Remember that every actor has a guarantee in their contract that they will rise above the ensemble and star in one episode: this is Robert's turn and he rises with ease.

The character of Paris, Thomas Eugene has always relied upon his strength of personality to get him through his problems. He can be witty, charming or forceful as the situation demands but Alice gets the better of him in a place where he can't use his boyish good looks and twinkling blue eyes to advantage. Alice controls his mind, attacking him where he's most vulnerable. That's a good ploy on the part of the writers because it makes Tom face up to that weakness, he has to deal with the problem head on and that means a character driven episode and a sharp growth curve for that character. Cool.

Where there is a lack in Alice is when it comes to the passage of time; there are few clues to the fact that it's happening over a period of weeks rather than 44 minutes. Tom grows some stubble (Robert gets a fake beard glued to his face although it is really well done) but other than that the episode might have all occurred on the first day at Abaddon's Repository of Lost Treasures. This is a serious flaw because you don't get to experience the slowly and slyly mounting pressure from Alice in the same way that Tom does; the ability to relate to the protagonist and what they experience is crucial to understanding and accepting what is going on. Finding a clearer way to show time passing would measurably improve the episode.

Now, for the hard-core Trekkies there are some interesting things going down. First up, Chakotay is really busy being the First Officer: he's organising trade negotiations, checking up on crew activities and schmoozing with the Captain (what exactly were they doing in the Captain's office at the start of the episode, anyway?). Likewise, Neelix is serving a major role on the ship, trading with Abaddon, cooking and assisting with crew morale. Who would've thought way back in Caretaker that the obnoxious little runt would be a useful addition to the crew?

Meanwhile, Harry Kim, everyone's favourite Ensign, is putting his foot down, telling people where to get off. He's no longer Mr Congeniality: he's a grown man. Well, almost. And while I am on the subject of Ensign Kim, there's a damned good reason why he hasn't been promoted to Lieutenant, Junior Grade: he doesn't deserve it. Sure, he's put in the time. Sure, he knows his job. But up until his Insubordinate relationship with Tal, he had never shown the strength of character to command a starship. He'd gone straight from the Academy to USS Voyager while still a momma's boy and had to be rescued from Quark (of all the people to need to be rescued from) and for the most part has done nothing but his job. He has no experience in life. He has made no mistakes so can have learned nothing form them. He might not have even killed a sentient being. Promotions must be earned by going beyond the requirements of duty. I remember the first time Kim stood up to Tuvok in a briefing, Janeway's eyes sparkled at finally seeing the man inside the child. Woo hoo!

Meanwhile, you've just spent 3 hours reading a review of a 44 minute episode, so I will leave off with a few titbits:

  • This episode first aired in the USA during Halloween, hence the creepiness of it all and the big time Christine reference. While everyone has heard of Halloween, it's weird to see a show like Star trek having anything to do with it. It's not like they do an Easter episode or a Passover special or anything like that. Maybe they just wanna have fun. cf. Catspaw.
  • Abaddon is a name from the Christian Bible's Old Testament meaning "to lead astray" so it's ironic to see that the being who leads Tom astray is named thus.

Security censorship classification

PG (Low level violence, adult themes)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental and retail: 6 April 2000

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