Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Alice”

“Alice”
Written by Juliann deLayne and Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor
Directed by David Livingston
Season 6, Episode 5
Production episode 226
Original air date: October 20, 1999
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. Kim and Paris trying and failing to guess Tuvok’s age is interrupted by sensors picking up a whole mess of ships. Tuvok goes to red alert, but as they approach they realize that it’s a junkyard. A gentleman named Abaddon has a whole bunch of stuff to sell.

Chakotay and Neelix greet Abaddon, who provides an inventory of his items for sale. Seven, Paris, and Kim are going over Abaddon’s list in astrometrics when a clapped-out old shuttle catches Paris’ pilot’s eye. Later, when Neelix, Paris, and Kim are providing Chakotay with a wish list, Neelix includes, at Paris’ urging, the shuttle, which has a neurogenic interface that allows the controls to react to the pilot’s thoughts. Chakotay is skeptical, but Paris promises to only work on restoring the ship in his off hours (with help from Kim, a caveat that surprises Kim), and besides, Abaddon is only asking for three used power cells and Paris’ jukebox. Chakotay agrees to let Paris have his new toy.

Abaddon agrees to the sale, which also includes some cultural artifacts, some power regulators, local star charts, and more. After telling Paris to be gentle with the ship (he has a certain affection for the vessel, describing it as like “the daughter I couldn’t marry off”), Abaddon reminds the crew that all sales are final before beaming back to his junkyard.

Paris and Kim have their work cut out for them: most of the power cells are burned out, and the ship is just generally a mess. Paris names it Alice, after a woman he pursued at the Academy. Later that night, Paris hears a female voice; thinking it to be Torres, it turns out to be the ship, speaking directly into Paris’ brain. Which isn’t creepy at all.

Days later, Kim finds Paris in engineering talking to a schematic of Alice, and now wearing a silver jumpsuit that he found the specs for in Alice’s database. Kim is in his Buster Kincaid costume, as he and Paris were supposed to do the next Captain Proton chapter, but Paris is completely focused on Alice.

Seven and Neelix discuss their haul from Abaddon, which is disappointing. The star charts are inaccurate, and the cultural artifacts are pretty much just junk. However, Seven recognizes one piece as containing a beryllium crystal, which is incredibly valuable. Neelix is surprised that so canny a trader as Abaddon would let such an item go so cheaply. He’s tempted to contact Abaddon to let him know and give it back to him, but Seven reminds Neelix that all sales are final.

Star Trek: Voyager "Alice"

Screenshot: CBS

Paris then asks Neelix for a bottle of champagne. He’s going to christen Alice, along with Torres. At first, they have a nice little ceremony in the ship, drinking the champagne and celebrating Paris’ restoration of the ship, but then he gets distracted by some adjustments that are needed to the environmental controls. Torres, nonplussed to see that Paris is now completely focused on Alice and nothing else, leaves the shuttlebay.

Paris—who is still wearing the silly silver jumpsuit and also hasn’t shaved in a couple of days—goes to Chakotay to requisition supplies for Alice. However, those are emergency supplies that Voyager needs in case of, y’know, an emergency. Chakotay also reminds Paris that he’s out of uniform and unshaven.

Returning to the shuttlebay, the voice in Paris’ head now has a body that only he can see, that of a human woman: this is Alice, and she urges Paris to finish the repairs so they can go away together. Paris can’t do that, as he can’t abandon his job, his friends, and especially Torres. He starts to take the jumpsuit off, but Alice stops him, and convinces him to relax on the ship and use the neurogenic interface.

At Alice’s urging, Paris steals the components Chakotay had refused to issue him, though Paris expresses verbal concern to Alice that he might be leaving Voyager in the lurch. Alice insists that Paris doesn’t belong on Voyager, he belongs with her, and she’ll give him that thrill he had when he first went flying.

Torres discovers that there are missing components, which she tracks to the shuttlebay. She enters Alice to access its database, and Alice then deactivates the environmental controls and seals the ship. Paris arrives before Torres suffocates and saves her, but Paris is also unhinged and furious. They have a huge fight, and Torres storms off. Alice stops Paris from going after her, but Paris is also pissed at Alice for trying to harm Torres. Alice then causes Paris extreme pain, keeping him from going to sickbay, instead forcing him back to Alice.

Torres reports Paris’ odd behavior to Janeway, including his never taking the jumpsuit off and his unshaven, manic state. Janeway is completely surprised by this, despite the fact that Paris’ duty station is directly in Janeway’s line of sight. Janeway points out that this isn’t the first time a side project has claimed Paris’ attention, but then the bridge reports an unauthorized launch.

Alice leaves the shuttlebay. Kim can’t get a transporter lock, and the neurogenic interface allows Paris to access all systems, including a pulse to disrupt Voyager’s tractor beam, not to mention weapons. At Alice’s urging, he fires on Voyager, then goes to warp. Voyager can’t track him.

Star Trek: Voyager "Alice"

Screenshot: CBS

They return to Abaddon’s junkyard. At first he pulls the “all sales are final” line, but Neelix shows him the beryllium crystal and expresses a willingness to let him have it back so he can sell it for its actual value in exchange for the truth about Alice. Abaddon bought the ship from someone who claimed it was haunted. Then Abaddon sees a woman of his own species, but with the same voice as Alice, telling him not to say anything. Alice gives Abaddon a cerebral hemorrhage, but the EMH is able to repair it. Alice tried to compel him to fix the ship and pilot it home, but Abaddon isn’t a pilot; so she forced him to find a pilot, and he gave her Paris. Abaddon apologizes for not being more forthright, but Alice forced him.

Seven is able to track Alice’s course, and it leads to a sector that is empty save for a particle fountain. Turns out that that is Alice’s home, and where she needs a pilot to take her. Voyager sets course, and confronts Alice. Unfortunately, the EMH tells Janeway that any weapons fire that Alice takes will also harm Paris, and they can’t beam him out while Alice’s shields are up.

So Janeway comes up with Plan B: insert a com signal into the neurogenic interface, which the EMH sets up and then plugs Torres into it. Now Paris has two women in his head vying for his attention. However, Torres is enough of a distraction to both Paris and Alice for Tuvok to hack into Alice’s computer and lower the shields, allowing Kim to beam Paris home.

Alice, now without a pilot, sails into the particle fountain and is destroyed. After being told by the EMH to get a few days of rest, Paris apologizes to Torres, promising no more affairs with ships, not even the Delta Flyer.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Alice has a neurogenic interface that allows the pilot to just think about what to do and the ship does it. It also allows the ship’s AI to control the pilot, which kinda sucks…

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway saves the day by coming up with the notion of putting a second voice in Paris’ head. This makes up for her totally not noticing that her alpha-shift conn officer—who, it must be reiterated, sits right in front of her for eight hours a day—is a bit of a mess.

Mr. Vulcan. While Tuvok is the watch officer, Kim and Paris spend considerable energy trying to figure out the Vulcan’s age. Tuvok himself is uninterested in aiding in this inquiry in any way.

Half and half. Torres is very supportive of Paris, even when he blows off their christening date to do more repairs, but she draws the line at his pet project trying to kill her.

Star Trek: Voyager "Alice"

Screenshot: CBS

Forever an ensign. Kim allows himself to be conscripted to help Paris get Alice into shape, but that doesn’t last, as Paris wants Alice (and Alice) all to himself. Kim suggests naming the ship the Lost Cause, but Paris chose the name “Alice” after a woman at the Academy named Alice Battisti; Paris’ pursuit of her was a lost cause. 

Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Abaddon recognizes Neelix as a fellow trader right away thanks to his cheerful demeanor and furtive eyes.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH is able to save Abaddon from the Alice-induced cerebral hemorrhage and beam Torres’ thoughts into Paris’s head. Because he’s just that awesome.

Resistance is futile. Seven finds Paris in astrometrics, and offers to help him with Alice, but he blows her off. However, he was using Seven’s lair to plot a course, which enables Seven to track Alice later.

What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. Apparently, Kim and Paris are up to Chapter 37 of Captain Proton.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Paris is almost able to break Alice’s hold on him when Alice tries to kill Torres, but Alice then doubles down on her control.

Do it.

“Don’t tell me Vulcans are embarrassed about their age.”

“On the contrary. We value the wisdom that comes with advancing years.”

“In that case, how wise are you?”

“Wise enough to end this inquiry.”

–Kim and Paris trying and failing to get Tuvok to say how old he is.

Star Trek: Voyager "Alice"

Screenshot: CBS

Welcome aboard. Trek veteran John Fleck plays Abaddon. This is his only appearance on Voyager, but he’s been on TNG (as a Romulan in “The Mind’s Eye”) and DS9 (as a Cardassian in “The Homecoming,” a Karemma in “The Search, Part I,” and as another Romulan in “Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges”), and will later have the recurring role of Silik on Enterprise.

And then we have our Robert Knepper moment, as I had no idea that Claire Rankin, who had the recurring role of Dr. Heightmeyer on Stargate Atlantis, played Alice!

Trivial matters: Paris was previously seen to be focused on a side project to the exclusion of all else (including his girlfriend) in “Vis à Vis.”

Tuvok’s age will be revealed in “Unimatrix Zero, Part II” at the top of the seventh season to be 113, so he’s 112 in this episode, which means that Paris and Kim’s guesses of 162 and 130 are both indeed very wrong, as Tuvok indicated. Just to confuse the issue further, Janeway will say in “Fury” that Tuvok is about to hit three digits, though both this episode (with Kim’s line about how they “know” that he was a hundred when he reenlisted in Starfleet) and the seventh-season one contradict Janeway’s statement.

We finally learn the name of Neelix’s ship (which hasn’t been seen since “The Chute“): the Baxial.

Kim mentions to Torres that the Ferengi have five stages of acquisition: infatuation, justification, appropriation, obsession, and resale. This is by way of reassuring her that Paris is eighty percent of the way there…

Star Trek: Voyager "Alice"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “From now on, I promise no affairs with strange ships.” There really isn’t a helluva lot to say about this episode. I mean, I can’t really point at anything and say, “Wow, this is horrible,” but I also can’t really point at anything and say, “Wow, this is great,” either. It’s a pretty straightforward sci-fi adventure that wouldn’t be out of place on any of the Trek shows. (Seriously, you could’ve done this same story with Sulu, La Forge, Dax, Mayweather, Detmer, Rios, or Boimler and not hardly changed a word.)

I do like the idea of Abaddon’s junkyard—and John Fleck is his usual excellent self—and this sort of horse trading should’ve gone on more often in the show, truly. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Abaddon had his very own Alice, which added an excellent extra layer of ooginess to the whole thing. The conversation at the top of the episode about Tuvok’s age is magnificent, a delightful triple act of Tim Russ doing his best fuck-you dry wit while Robert Duncan McNeill and Garrett Wang verbally buzz about his head like annoying flies. I love that Paris is almost able to break Alice’s hold on him when Torres’s life is put in danger.

But I really don’t get how Janeway can be so completely bumfuzzled by Torres’s report that Paris is being all weird. I could see it if it was someone Janeway doesn’t see every day, but Paris sits right in front of her, and he’s been unshaven and wearing a doofy silver jumpsuit for several days running now. How has she not noticed this? Paris is a demoted ensign who isn’t even a properly commissioned officer, so it’s not like he’s accrued leave or anything—and he specifically said he would be working on his off hours, which means he’s still taking his shifts on the bridge. (Chakotay does mention that he’s blown off some sickbay shifts, but that’s it.) Unless Janeway’s been pulling a “Night” and hiding in her quarters, it is impossible to credit that she hasn’t noticed.

Claire Rankin also disappoints, as Alice has no real bite to her. She has a blank affect that is an understandable acting choice in the abstract for an AI, but in reality it makes her a less-than-compelling antagonist.

All in all, a pretty average episode, thus making it easy to rate…

Warp factor rating: 5

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest book is All-the-Way House, which is part of the Systema Paradoxa series of novellas about cryptids. His tale, which spans three centuries, is about the origin of the legendary Jersey Devil, and is available to order.

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