Star Trek: Voyager (1996) – Threshold, and Meld

Captain’s log: stardate 49373.4

Brannon Braga pens the teleplay for this episode, which first aired on 29 January, 1996,  from a story by Micheal De Luca, and it marks the first real time that transwarp drives have been discussed, in any real way, since Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.

Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill), with Harry (Garrett Wang) and Torres (Roxann Dawson) helping him, is on the verge of breaking warp ten, the transwarp threshold. Their simulations constantly end up in blowing up, but with a little help from Neelix (Ethan Phillips) they get on track, and…

Paris breaks the transwarp barrier, which conceivably means that the Voyager can return home almost instantly.

Unfortunately, it has strange side effects on him, and begins to mutate his body and its cells, causing him to die, then regenerate, organs appear and disappear, and no matter the treatment, Paris doesn’t seem to want to take part in it.

He goes so far as to steal the transwarp shuttle, kidnapping Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and traveling through transwarp again (causing the captain to undergo the same process).

The Voyager eventually tracks them down three days later, and discover them in a de-evolved state, with some other things having occurred as well.

This one is a bit of a silly story, there’s probably something cool at the heart of it, but it just doesn’t work as well as it should. I love the idea that they investigate the transwarp option, but the mutation, the de-evolution, just ugh.

In the long run, this may in fact be the worst singular episode of Voyager, which is too bad, because the characters deserve better, and Brannon Braga the episode’s writer usually craft’s better as well.

voy-threshold3a

Captain’s log: stardate unknown

Happily, the show doesn’t let one horrible episode hold it back, and the very next episode proves it. With a teleplay by Micheal Piller, from a story by Micheal Sussman, Meld first aired on 5 February, 1996, and featured a fantastic performance by guest artist Brad Dourif.

Tuvok (Tim Russ) investigates the murder of an engineer, discovering it was committed by one of the former Maquis officers, a Betazoid named Lon Suder (Dourif). Suder has no remorse, or regret over his actions.

Tuvok is determined to find the cause of Suder’s actions, the Vulcan security officer performs a mind-meld on Suder. But the meld may have had an adverse effect on Tuvok, as he begins to lose his usual control, and even threatens to follow Suder down into madness.

Russ and Dourif are wonderfully paired together in this episode, and love the way the episode plays out. Tuvok has trouble understanding how random violence can occur, and he tries to come to logical conclusions, but is unable to. It’s a smart, and troubling episode that lets Trek tell a story that reflects events that occur in our current society.

Next week, the Human Adventure continues as I travel with Voyager and Deep Space Nine, as I work my way through The Complete Series for both shows, watching them on DVD sets now available from Paramount Pictures.

voy-meld13a

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