Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Future’s End, Part II”

“Future’s End, Part II”
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 3, Episode 9
Production episode 151
Original air date: November 13, 1996
Stardate: 50312.5

Captain’s log. After getting a summary of Part 1, we look in on Paris, Tuvok, and Rain Robinson. They can’t get through to Voyager, so Paris is cannibalizing Robinson’s VW microbus’ stereo system to try to boost the signal, to little effect. Robinson can tell that there’s more going on than they’re saying, and not just because they’re allegedly spies on a classified mission.

They head to Griffith Observatory in the hopes of using the equipment there to contact the ship. Robinson also tells Paris why she became an astronomer (from looking at Saturn’s rings through her brother’s telescope).

Torres gives Janeway a report on what Starling stole from Voyager’s computer: about 20% of their database, which he also removed from the ship. (Whether the data is missing because Starling is a dick and erased it or because the writers don’t understand how downloading works is left as an exercise for the viewer.) She’s able to reconstruct some of it, but not all of it. For one thing, he’s got the EMH. The regular transporter’s still down, and the emergency transporter requires going into the atmosphere again, which Neelix cautions against. While legitimate news isn’t taking the sighting of their last jaunt into the atmosphere seriously, the U.S. military is, and they’re better off staying in high orbit.

Tuvok manages to get through with help from Griffith’s satellite dish. They fill each other in on what they know, with Tuvok and Paris now being informed of Starling’s mendacity.

Starling queries the EMH about the Voyager crew. He’s convinced that Janeway wants to steal Aeon for herself because it’s more advanced than her own tech, and thinks the story that he’s going to destroy the solar system in the 29th century is nonsense. The EMH refuses to cooperate and diagnoses him with paranoia, but then Starling shows he can make the doctor feel pain.

Before the torture can continue, Robinson calls Starling, saying someone tried to kill her (professing ignorance that it was Starling), and asking for his help. He agrees to meet with her at a pizza place.

Torres modifies a shuttlecraft so it can remain undetected, and she and Chakotay head down. Starling arrives at the pizza place with the EMH, now equipped with a 29th-century mobile emitter.

Star Trek: Voyager

Screenshot: CBS

Starling offers to take Robinson back to his office, and threatens the EMH’s life if she doesn’t comply. She panics when she sees that his goon, Dunbar, is driving—he’s the one who tried to kill her. Tuvok gives Chakotay the coordinates of Starling’s car and he beams him up to the shuttle—however, Starling is carrying a doodad that interferes with the transport. Chakotay can’t rematerialize him, and the interference is messing with the shuttle’s systems. Kim manages to transfer Starling’s pattern to Voyager, but the damage has been done, and the shuttle crashes.

Meanwhile, the EMH being a hologram means Dunbar can’t knock him out—but he can knock Dunbar around pretty well. He and Robinson escape from Starling’s car. Robinson is completely freaking out over Starling’s disappearance and the EMH’s inability to be harmed.

Starling is unconscious in Voyager’s sickbay. Janeway contacts Tuvok and tell him that Chakotay and Torres have crashed in Arizona. Tuvok and the EMH head there, while Robinson takes Paris to Chronowerx to try to figure out how to retrieve Aeon.

Starling wakes up and is disappointed that his doodad didn’t work. Janeway said it does work, he just doesn’t know how to operate it. She asks him to lower the force field around Aeon, but he refuses, and says if they try to tamper with it, it’ll explode, destroying Los Angeles.

Chakotay and Torres regain consciousness to find themselves tied up in a shack. They’ve been captured by a couple of militia goons, who are confused by Torres’s cranial ridges, but do identify Chakotay as an Indian. They assume the shuttle is some kind of government stealth craft, and they babble about their moronic manifesto. Chakotay’s attempt to talk sense to them, including mentioning his past as a Maquis leader, falls on uninterested ears. Then “a black man and some bald guy!” show up and take care of the militia guys, and free Chakotay and Torres. Tuvok repairs the shuttle, and they head back to L.A.

Dunbar boards Aeon and beams Starling off Voyager by piggybacking the transporter off one of Chronowerx’s satellites. Robinson and Paris are sitting outside Chronowerx when a truck that is emitting a tachyon signature leaves Chronowerx’s garage. Paris and Robinson follow, assuming that they’re moving Aeon in the truck. The shuttle rendezvouses with them on a deserted desert road, but it quickly becomes apparent that it’s a ruse, as there’s nothing in the truck but a small device emitting the tachyon signature.

Back at Chronowerx, Starling launches Aeon and heads into orbit. Weapons systems are still down, so Janeway heads to engineering to manually launch a torpedo. The shuttle returns to Voyager and the EMH gets to be on the bridge for the first time in reality.

Janeway reconfigures the torpedo, Tuvok fires it, and Aeon is destroyed—as is the rift the ship opened. They seem to have saved the 29th century, since he didn’t go through. But then another rift opens, and it’s Braxton again, with no memory of anything that happened in the previous two episodes—he’s been sent to retrieve Voyager from 1996 because they’re not supposed to be there. Janeway agrees to be towed back to the Delta Quadrant—after requesting that they be brought back to 2373 but on Earth. Braxton says he can’t, as it would violate the Temporal Prime Directive.

Star Trek: Voyager

Screenshot: CBS

Once they’re back in the Delta Quadrant in the 24th century, Janeway gathers the senior staff for a toast in the mess hall, with the EMH nearly salivating over the possibilities of being mobile and Paris telling funny stories about Tuvok trying to talk a cop out of a parking ticket using logic.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, Voyager altered the timeline by destroying Aeon before it went through the rift. Since Braxton said he found a piece of Voyager’s hull in the explosion when he first arrived in Part 1, it’s likely that Chakotay’s backup plan of ramming Aeon is what happened, and it didn’t work. The 29th century timeline is reset, but Voyager’s isn’t—and the EMH somehow keeps the mobile emitter, too. SCIENCE!

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway modifies the torpedo to launch manually. Because she’s just that awesome.

Half and half. Torres and Chakotay discuss what options they have if they’re stuck in 1996. While Chakotay waxes rhapsodic about the possibilities of being an archeologist or lecturer, Torres reminds him that her Klingon heritage complicates things immensely in the 20th century.

Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok’s plan to get Starling to come to them didn’t take the possibility of him kidnapping Robinson into his car into account, which shows a spectacular lack of planning on the part of the security chief. Maybe his do-rag was too tight…

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. Starling gives the EMH a mobile emitter that allows him to function anywhere, so he’s now, as he himself puts it, footloose and fancy free.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Robinson and Paris flirt like whoa, not just bonding over B-movies, but also over their interest in space (though Paris’s is more just a natural interest as the pilot of a starship). Robinson asks him out on a date, and you can tell it seriously pains Paris to not only say no but not be able to tell her why.

Star Trek: Voyager

Screenshot: CBS

Do it.

“Doctor, how—?”

“It’s a long story, Commander. Suffice it to say, I’m making a house call.”

–Chakotay shocked at the EMH walking around on a planet, and the EMH putting off an answer until a more appropriate time.

Welcome aboard. Back from Part 1 are Ed Begley Jr. as Starling, Sarah Silverman as Robinson, Susan Patterson as Kaplan, and Allan G. Royal as Braxton. The character of Braxton will return in “Relativity,” played by Bruce McGill, while Kaplan will show up next in “Unity.”

In addition, Brent Hinkley and Clayton Murray play the militia morons.

Trivial matters: Braxton will also be seen again in the New Frontier comic book Double Time by Peter David & Mike Collins and in the Last Generation comic book miniseries by Andrew Steven Harris & Gordon Purcell.

The EMH references the fact that his memories of the past two-and-a-half years were wiped in “The Swarm,” and he hasn’t had all the memories restored. This is the first indication that his memories are being restored, so the tragedy of the end of that episode is now officially pointless.

The mobile emitter will remain for the rest of the series (and beyond in the tie-in fiction), officially freeing the EMH from being limited to sickbay and the holodeck (and the occasional simulation).

According to writers Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky, this was originally conceived as a four-parter, and then a three-parter, before finally reducing it to two parts. As a result, the militia bits were reduced to a vignette. In addition, they had wanted to have Robinson possibly come to the future with them, à la Gillian Taylor in The Voyage Home, but Rick Berman vetoed the notion because he’s a big stinky.

Robinson, the militia dudes, and Starling’s chief goon all appear in Book 2 of Greg Cox’s The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh.

The ponytail that Janeway wears in this two-parter to blend in with 1996 L.A. will become her new regular hairstyle this season, with the bun a thing of the past (er, so to speak).

Star Trek: Voyager

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “Tuvok, has anyone ever told you you’re a real freakasaurus?” The more ambitious three- or four-parter that Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky wanted to do is evident in this second installment, and it suffers from a lack of storytelling space. There’s a bit too much going on here, and not all of it is as compelling.

For starters, the entire militia subplot falls totally flat. Braga and Menosky should have cut it completely once they were limited to two parts, as it doesn’t get enough screen time to breathe, and just feels horribly tacked-on and lame. The two guys giving their manifesto in five seconds and Chakotay’s half-assed attempt to bond with them over his own experience as a Maquis is just awkward.

On top of that, Starling’s a completely nonsensical villain. Not enough that he sends someone to kill Robinson in Part 1, now he kidnaps Robinson and later flies the stolen timeship through a big window, all in public in broad daylight. Does he think no one will notice this? He’s supposedly doing it to get more tech to make money off of in the waning days of the 20th century, but he’s doing it in a way that will just draw the wrong kind of attention to himself. It also oversimplifies the story, making him so unredeemable that it makes it easy for our heroes to go after him. But what if he’d been a genuine philanthropist who really was in it to improve humanity’s lot in life with technology? That would’ve made for a much more interesting story.

The ending doesn’t even try to make sense—somehow Braxton’s timeline is changed, but nobody else’s is? Even though Chronowerx only happened because Braxton showed up in the Delta Quadrant in the first place? Has Chronowerx been eliminated from the timeline too? Why is the mobile emitter still there?

With all that, the episode is still fun, particularly the EMH’s dry wit both in his banter with Starling and while enjoying his newfound mobility (not to mention his invincibility to things like punches and bullets). Tuvok and Paris remain a fine double act, and Rain Robinson is the first female character on this show whose interactions with Paris don’t either piss me off or skeeve me out (or both). And even the one-dimensionality of Starling is leavened by Ed Begley Jr.’s charisma.

Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s next Star Trek project was announced last week: he’s one of the contributors to the Star Trek Adventures Klingon Empire Core Rulebook, now available for preorder (print) and download (PDF) from Modiphius. Keith has done a couple of group interviews about the new rulebook, including one as part of the “Day of Honor” event (alongside fellow scribes Derek Tyler Attico and Kelli Fitzpatrick, Jim Johnson, Chris Birch, Nathan Dowdell, and Sam Webb from Modiphius, and special guest, award-winning Trek illustrator Rick Sternbach), and another with Michael Dismuke on the “Continuing Mission” web series (alongside Attico, Fitzpatrick, Johnson, and Aaron Pollyea).

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