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[VOY] Jammer's Review: "Shattered"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 23, 2001
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      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
      picture."
      -- 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
      future.

      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
      particular time.

      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
      mind.

      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
      Quadrant.

      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
      Chaotica!"

      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
      continuity worthwhile.)

      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
      again.

      --
      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@...
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