[VOY] Jammer's Review: "Shattered"
- Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for Voyager's
"Shattered." If you haven't seen the episode yet, beware.
In brief: One or two good ideas surrounded by plenty of messy and/or bad
ones. The Humpty Dumpty of time-travel shows.
Plot description: A spatial anomaly divides Voyager into various time
frames of the past and future, leaving Chakotay as the only person who
may be able to put the pieces back together.
Star Trek: Voyager -- "Shattered"
Airdate: 1/17/2001 (USA)
Teleplay by Michael Taylor
Story by Mike Sussman & Michael Taylor
Directed by Terry Windell
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Rating out of 4: **
"With all due respect, it's a little presumptuous to think you have the
right to change everyone's future."
"From what I've seen, they'll thank me!"
"All you've seen are bits and pieces. You're not getting the whole
-- Chakotay and Janeway
A lot of "Shattered" plays like a flashback clip show, except the clips
have been shot new instead of plundered from the film archive. We've got
characters from probably half a dozen timelines popping up, with
references to past shows thrown in for fun. It's like an assemblage of
random episodes. Unfortunately, it doesn't serve a story so much as it
serves a bland set of procedures.
It's like, hey, let's go through old scripts and throw ... *this* in.
What's that? Why, it's a macrovirus. Do you remember the macroviruses
from the episode "Macrocosm"? Unfortunately I do, but that's beside the
point. There's so little actual substance here that the story spends a
lot of its time borrowing material from other episodes. Meanwhile, we've
got all these characters introduced from other timelines, past and
future. This is bad for the forward flow of the story because every time
we encounter a new set of characters we have to wait while the characters
who already know what's going on stop and explain what's happening to
those who don't. It grows tedious.
What's happening here is yet another take on "shattered time," something
done plenty of times before in Trek, whether it was Voyager's
"Relativity" or TNG's "All Good Things..." or "Timescape."
Of course, the first thing you'd better know going in is that this isn't
science fiction, it's goofy science fantasy. The plot for "Shattered"
does more than strain credulity; to say it pushes the envelope of
believability -- even for a Trek time-manipulation premise -- is putting
it mildly. We have the starship Voyager, which comes in contact with This
Week's Random Spatial Anomaly, causing the ship to be divided into
segments, where each of these segments exists in a different time frame,
whether it's seven years ago, five years ago, today, or 17 years in the
The person at the mercy of this plot is Chakotay, who is the only crew
member unaffected by the time manipulation's effects because of a
"chronoton-infused serum" Doc concocted after Chakotay was zapped by the
anomaly. This serum allows him to pass from section to section of the
ship without his memory being affected; he simply passes through time to
interact with whatever is happening in that part of the ship at that
I for one would like to know how the story accounts for location: Some of
what happens takes place in the Alpha Quadrant, and the rest of it in
various places scattered through the Delta Quadrant, so when Chakotay
passes from one timeline to another, he also apparently moves tens of
thousands of light-years. Is there some constant in time stories like
this that ties location down to wherever the people involved need to be?
Is Voyager here a mini-lab of timelines that exists in some finite
location? I suppose the Timeline Gods have worked this all out, but never
This makes no sense. Sure, when it comes down to it, no time-travel story
makes any sense. This one just makes less sense than most. I'd also like
to know why people who don't move through the timelines disappear when
they cross from one area of the ship to another. If they're not moving
through time like Chakotay, then where are they going?
Hey, I'm not asking for rock-solid science or logic here; I'm just asking
that the story be entertaining. "Relativity" didn't make any sense
either, but at least it broke free and won us over with its carefree
lunacy. "Shattered," on the other hand, is a string of boring, only
vaguely related scenes that segue uneasily into and out of one another.
The plot is a flimsy excuse to move Chakotay in and out of timelines: He
must move through Voyager and inject the ship's bio-neural gel packs with
a dose of Doc's serum to bring the ship back to its normal temporal
alignment (or whatever).
The key idea here, once the plot is fully under way, is that Chakotay
recruits Janeway from the past -- from just before Voyager was pulled
into the Delta Quadrant -- to help him put the ship back together. This
means that past-Janeway will get a glimpse of bits and pieces of
Voyager's fate over the next six-plus years, revealing the changes the
Voyager crew has gone through since it was first pulled into the Delta
This isn't a bad idea at all, but it's not what the show is ultimately
about, which plays more like a string of set pieces constructed around a
convenient tech plot. There is, for example, an extended scene where
Chakotay and Janeway end up in the "Captain Proton" holodeck program and
the plot grinds to a halt. This scene isn't nearly as funny or useful as
it wants to be, and plays more like a gratuitous rehash of "Bride of
Other timeline events include: Seska's takeover of Voyager from "Basics,
Part II"; a timeline set 17 years in the future, where Naomi Wildman and
Icheb are grown adults; the present, where we witness the death of Tuvok;
a period during "Caretaker" where B'Elanna blames Janeway for stranding
them in the Delta Quadrant; and the time when Seven of Nine and the Borg
assimilated the Voyager cargo bay in "Scorpion, Part II."
Other snippets include the aforementioned macrovirus and also a timeline
where the crew is unconscious and dreaming, which Chakotay identifies as
either the plot of "Waking Moments" or "Bliss." Your mission, if I hadn't
already done it for you, was to identify the titles for these shows. (By
the way, my usual griping about continuity doesn't mean random events
thrown in to acknowledge that the writers did some homework are what make
The story becomes nearly as loony as "Relativity"; ultimately we have
Seska trying to hijack Chakotay's efforts to bring the ship back into
temporal alignment and then characters from half a dozen timelines
charging in to the rescue, including a Maquis B'Elanna and a Borgified
Seven of Nine.
The story makes much of the Temporal Prime Directive ("The less I know
about the future, the better," says Janeway, who later presses Chakotay
at every turn for more information about Voyager's fate), but it doesn't
seem to make up its mind whether any of it matters. Chakotay resists
telling Janeway anything about Voyager's future in the Delta Quadrant --
then moments later spills some beans, and then some more beans. But then
the whole plan is to avert the anomaly's effect on Voyager in the first
place, such that nobody's memory from any timeline will have been
affected, so I must ask what the point is actually supposed to be.
I will try to answer that question by saying that the show makes an
interesting point when Janeway witnesses Tuvok's death, prompting her
brief vocal determination to prevent Voyager from ever being stranded in
the Delta Quadrant. Chakotay talks her down from this with a reasonable
speech about not undoing what's been done; changing everyone's future
frankly isn't Janeway's job.
Then again, this is all to be moot anyway, since the timelines are to be
reset to normal. I suppose the scene where Chakotay convinces Janeway
there's more to Voyager's fate than the bad things she sees here exists
just for the sake of discussion, albeit a good one.
The initial plot goal for "Shattered" is to break Voyager up into a bunch
of disjointed parts. Of course, the script for "Shattered" is the very
same thing -- a bunch of parts, with a strand running through it (the
Janeway/Chakotay interaction) that can't break free of the illogical or
arbitrary nature of tech plotting to be entirely successful. All the
king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put this premise together
Next week: B'Elanna and Tom -- expecting a baby!
Copyright 2001 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...