Persistence of Vision
edited: Friday, April 20, 2001
By Rose G rose.moss@LineOne.net
Posted: Friday, April 20, 2001
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A review of Persistence of vision from Star Trek Voyager. this episode hints at events to come in future seasons.
An increasingly irritable Captain Janeway is trying to be in several places at once, with everyone making demands on her time. Voyager is on the edge of potentially hostile alien territory ,inhabited by a species called the Botha.
Harry and B'Elanna are trying to work out a way to enable the Doctor to have access to certain key areas of the ship. However, when he materializes, he is only a few inches high. Nevertheless, despite his lack of height, he notices that Janeway is extremely stressed and orders her to take a break on the holodeck. Before leaving her quarters, she looks fondly at a photograph of her boyfriend Mark.
The holodeck program is a Jane Eyre type story, with Janeway playing the governess, who shares a passionate kiss with her employer, Lord Burleigh. She is then recalled to the bridge, where a shadowy representative of the Botha demand a meeting.
Neelix reminds Janeway she hasn't eaten and she goes with him to the Mess Hall, where she is disturbed to see elements of her holodeck program .On returning to her quarters ,she hears the accusing voice of Mark telling her she's being unfaithful and then sees a little girl from the holoprogram in the ship's corridors. After making sure that B'Elanna and Harry's experiments aren't responsible, Janeway goes to sickbay, where Kes also sees the little girl. Her delusions become worse and she decides to hand over command to Chakotay, but once the ship comes under attack, rushes back to the Bridge, where the Botha commander turns into Mark, Tom sees his father, Harry his girlfriend, and Tuvok believes himself back on Vulcan with his wife. B'Elanna believes she has found a way to stop the delusions, but before she can do anything, Chakotay suggests they flee together to find help. B'Elanna initially resists, but soon finds herself in bed with him. Everyone save Kes and the Doctor is in a catatonic state, oblivious of their surroundings.
The Doctor tells Kes she will have to execute B'Elanna's plan to use an energy burst to revive the crew, but she too starts having delusions, first an injured Tom begging for help, then Neelix begging her to escape while there's time and finally horrific burns to her hands and feet. Eventually spurred on by the Doctor, she wakes up the crew.
Janeway confronts the alien responsible who says he caused the delusions "Because I can" she angrily threatens to lock him up, but he vanishes together with the alien ships, which might also have been a delusion.
B'Elanna and the Captain discuss their experiences without going into detail and wonder if fantasies are better suppressed or brought out in the open. B'Elanna retires to bed and the two women wish each other "sweet dreams."
This is a creepy atmospheric episode, with some nice scenes for Janeway, expertly acted ,as ever by Kate Mulgrew, who vividly conveys a wide range of emotions. I think it a pity, though, that eventually, it's Kes rather than Janeway who saves the ship, as this story started off very much as a Janeway episode. Unusually, the Captain gets two passionate, albeit fantasy kisses, one with the holographic Lord Burleigh and the other with the hallucination of Mark.
This episode is interesting in that it foreshadows several others in the future, Janeway's increasing stress levels, and the heavy burden of command in isolation ,which cumulate in a near nervous breakdown "Night," the idea of romance with a hologram, which is brought to fruition in "Fair Haven" I believe Miss Mulgrew said in an interview that the Lord Burleigh story was dropped as the holographic romance idea was unhealthy. A great pity, the writers didn't retain that view.
We also see the Doctors quest for mobility which is finally achieved in "Future's End" and Kes's growing telepathic abilities, which eventually cause her to leave the ship. "The Gift". I wish we'd had more moments in later episodes, though, like Janeway and B'Elanna's final conversation, as the two characters work well together.
Tom's difficult relationship with his father is another ongoing plot thread explored in this episode.
The fantasy relationship between B'Elanna and Chakotay is a rather jarring factor, as unlike the other fantasies it seems based on a flimsy foundation. No wonder B'Elanna refuses to discuss it. It's interesting to notice how formal the crew are towards each other in these early episodes compared to later ones.
The scene with the tiny Doctor ordering the Captain to rest was amusing and cleverly done, the Doctor's self importance not affected in the slightest by his reduction in size. Janeway's hallucination of being attacked by Lord Burleigh's housekeeper,(played by the Trek veteran Caroline Seymour, who I believe was once considered for Janeway's part)was truly frightening.
This isn't an especially memorable story, but it's wonderfully surreal and eerie.