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Star trek: Voyager 7.11b - Natural law

Stardate 54827.7
Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Episode propaganda

Chakotay (Robert Beltran) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) are stranded amongst a primitive people when their shuttle encounters an energy barrier that prevents Captain Janeway and the USS Voyager from locating them. The only solution they can attempt would violate the Prime Directive and pollute the native culture. Meanwhile, Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) takes a wrong turn that could cost him valuable time.

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
  • Paul Sandman .... the healer
  • Autumn Reeser .... the child
  • Robert Curtis Brown .... the Ambassador
  • Neil C Vipond .... Kleg
  • Ivar Brogger .... Barus
  • Matt McKenzie .... the port authority officer
  • Brooke Benko .... the Transporter Operator
  • Kenneth Biller .... Storywriter
  • James Kahn .... Storywriter, Screenwriter
  • Terry Windell .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Intelligence report

Natural law is a rehash of the standard "away team is trapped by an alien culture and the Prime Directive until rescued by the ship, having learned something from the experience and expanded their understanding of both themselves and the universe in which they live" story that goes all the way back to The original series. The twist this time is that there is a B-story in which Tom Paris is ordered back into pilot school because of his cowboy behaviour. You get a good look at his character and his personality as he's put up against someone who is not impressed by anything he does. Bureaucrats, you gotta love them.

(Well, you don't have to love them but you're not allowed to kill them. Look at what happened to Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma, USA.)

You can tell that people are tired of working on Voyager and tired of living in the 24th century (Or is it still the 23rd? Damned Stardates): the zing that filled the screen with tension and conflict in the first season has disappeared and "the lucky ship" is merely plodding along toward Earth. There are also flaws in the writing. Seven of Nine has heightened visual acuity even in low light conditions yet she still trips over a tree root in the forest. Contrast that with Survival instinct, in which Seven wanders about in a murky swamp with all her bulky Borg accessories and never has any problems. It's sloppy work created so that she can lose her tricorder for a few hours (ie a plot device) irrespective of how the character behaves in the show bible (an ongoing book that lets writers know the history of a character and what has happened to them since the show began... something like the Star trek canon concordance, but obviously not as accurate).

And I have a big nitpick: people in the stone age do not have the bodies of Hollywood actors. They do not have enlarged pectorals, lats or a six-pack. They have some flab around their middle if they're lucky (food was not as easy to find as it is in the 21st century) but are otherwise lean. There is some muscular development in the arms and shoulders because of all the spear throwing and carrying. Women are constantly pregnant between menarche and menopause. There should be babies everywhere, a few children, some young adults and the occasional old person. By old, I mean 25. The wise old person of the tribe might make it to 33.

Being in the stone age is not conducive to a long life: predators, little food (hunting and gathering only) and poor health are part of everyone's life. Like the Inuit of Canada, once your grandma loses her teeth it is time for her to take the long walk. Like women everywhere, even today, childbirth is as dangerous for the mother as it is for the child.

Oh, well, at least they had some cool tattoos.

Security censorship classification

PG (Low level violence)

Not for public release in Australia before date

VHS rental and retail: 8 February 2002

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