Equinox - Parts One and Two
edited: Sunday, May 13, 2001
By Rose G rose.moss@LineOne.net
Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2001
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When Voyager discovers another Federation ship, they learn it harbors a dark secret which stretches Captain Janeway to the limits
Equinox Part One
· Episode 120, Production 920
· First Air Date: Wednesday, May 26, 1999
· Stardate: Unknown
· Guest Cast: Titus Welliver as Burke, Olivia Birkelund as Gilmore, Rick Worthy as Lessing, Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman, Steve Dennis as crew member
· Special Guest Star: John Savage as Captain Ransom
· Teleplay By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
· Story By: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
· Directed By: David Livingston
The copyright to Voyager and its characters belongs to Paramount. The following represents a purely personal viewpoint.
The episode opens on an unfamiliar Federation starship .A battle is raging and the crew is having little success against some sort of energy beings, which keep breeching the hull.
On Voyager, Janeway, Chakotay and Seven are analysing a distress call they’ve received from a Federation vessel called Equinox. Janeway says she recognises it as a scientific research vessel commanded by Captain Ransom, a noted scientist, whom she always wanted to meet. Even Seven is intrigued at the prospect of meeting other people and improving her knowledge of humanity.
Voyager encounters the Equinox a few hours later. It is still under attack and badly damaged. Captain Ransom asks Janeway to extend Voyager’s shields round his ship.
The crew hear a strange high-pitched noise and fissures appear in the hull, but the shields hold.
Rescue teams from Voyager board the Equinox. Tom finds the desiccated body of a crewman, while B’Elanna notes the Warp Drive has been modified. Chakotay finds a woman (Marla Gilmore) in the debris and helps her to her feet
Harry and Seven find a badly injured crewman trapped under the rubble. Seven talks to him, while Harry clears the debris. They learn his name is Noah Lessing. He is taken with Seven and calls her “My angel of mercy”
Neelix and an unnamed Voyager crewman find another survivor, who has gone mad and attacks them. They are forced to stun him before transporting him to sickbay.
Janeway and Tuvok reach the Bridge and find Ransom and his First Officer, Burke. Janeway comforts the injured Ransom, who tells them he doesn’t know who attacked them or why. He tells her that they too were brought to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker. He is loath to abandon his Bridge but Janeway manages to persuade him to leave.
Later, with his surviving crew restored to health. Ransom holds a memorial service for them in Voyager’s Mess Hall. Afterwards Janeway welcomes the survivors and briskly organises repair work. Burke greets B’Elanna, who turns out to have been his girlfriend, ten years ago at Starfleet Academy. He embraces her, while a jealous, Tom watches, much to Harry’s amusement.
Gilmore is suffering from stress and claustrophobia and tells Chakotay she wishes she could stay on Voyager. In the turbo lift, she suffers a panic attack.
Seven reports that the shields are being weakened by the alien attacks. She suggests that as the creatures can only survive a few seconds in normal space, maybe being able to capture them would act as a deterrent. Ransom and Burke look at each other guiltily and Burke explains they were working on a device to trap the beings. However, it is in the Equinox research Lab, which is still flooded with poisonous radiation.
On Board The Equinox, Janeway remarks that Ransom seems very relaxed about Protocol by allowing his crew to use his first name. Ransom says they’re a long way from home and Starfleet Protocols. He tells her of the hardships they’ve endured, and how they’ve had to struggle to survive. Janeway is puzzled how they’ve managed to travel so far in a small ship under constant attack, Ransom replies by asking Janeway if she’s ever broken the Prime Directive. She says she’s bent it but never broken it. The Equinox dedication plaque is lying on the floor; Janeway and Ransom pick it up.
In Voyager’s Mess Hall Ransom warns Burke to be careful that Voyager’s crew don’t discover anything about what is in the Research Lab or how the Warp Core has been modified. . He is concerned about his crew getting too comfortable on board Voyager.
Lessing thanks Seven for rescuing him. The alien attacks have intensified, fissures start opening as the aliens change tactics. Seven designs a defence grid to ward off the attacks. Janeway suggests moving everyone to Voyager would be wise. Ransom is reluctant, but Janeway insists, quoting a Starfleet Regulation that the Captain of a vessel with tactical superiority has command in a combat situation. Ransom reluctantly agrees but asks to return to his ship to collect a few personal mementos
B’Elanna discovers Burke accessing classified information about the Defence Grid in Engineering. He flirts with her to distract her attention, while he transmits the data to the Equinox.
Marla Gilmore tells Harry and Chakotay about what could be salvaged from The Equinox; She mentions a synaptic stimulator that enables the wearer to experience a restful environment, similar to a Holodeck. . When Chakotay and Harry ask her about the modifications to the Equinox’s Warp Drive she uneasily changes the subject.
Naomi Wildman appears and welcomes Gilmore to Voyager.
The Equinox crew hold a meeting. Gilmore is concerned about what will happen to Voyager if they steal the defence grid. Burke suggests they abandon the Equinox, but Ransom tells them they must stick together.
Seven and Tuvok realise that the Equinox’s Research Lab has been contaminated with radiation on purpose. They immediately report their findings to Janeway. She is reluctant to accuse Ransom without proof and sends the Doctor to investigate, as he is immune to radiation poisoning.
In the Research Lab, the Doctor discovers a multiphasic chamber and some dead aliens, which are being converted for use as fuel. Horrified, he reports his discoveries to Seven and Tuvok.
Ransom and Burke discuss what they should do, but Tuvok interrupts their conversation to arrest them.
An angry Janeway confronts Ransom about killing the Aliens for fuel. He claims to feel guilty, but she is unconvinced of his contrition as he committed mass murder. He tells her how they met The Ankari, whom we see in flashback, These friendly aliens welcomed the Equinox crew and summoned their Spirits of Good Fortune from another dimension to bless their journey. The crew realised the “spirits” were a potential energy source and trapped one to examine it. Out of it’s own space it quickly died, but the crew discovered the bodies could be used as fuel. They then continued to trap the beings, which kept attacking them in retaliation.
Janeway is outraged but Ransom says they were only trying to survive and asks her not to be too harsh with his crew who were only following orders.
“Their mistake.” Janeway replies coldly. She confines Ransom and his crew to their quarters, before contacting the Doctor to ask him to learn all he can about the aliens in order to find a way to communicate with them.
Chakotay and Seven persuade a reluctant Gilmore to reveal the Equinox Encryption codes.
The Doctor is having problems understanding the technology in the Equinox research lab and activates his counterpart. The Equinox Doctor is unconcerned about the mass slaughter, as his ethical subroutines have been deleted. He deactivates Voyager’s Doctor and takes his portable holo emitter.
Janeway sends Seven to the Equinox to assist the Doctor.
The Equinox Doctor, posing as Voyager’s tells security that the Equinox crew have contracted a virus and releases them by smuggling phasers to them in his medical case.
The Equinox Crew escapes and steals the defence grid. Gilmore discovers Seven and knocks her out.
Janeway orders Ransom to surrender, threatening to fire if he refuses, but when Tuvok targets the ship, he finds the shields have gone.
The aliens attack the now defenceless Voyager and one swoops towards Janeway. The credits roll.
This was a fast moving episode full of issues to ponder, as well as lighter moments such as Tom’s jealousy of Burke. It makes for rather uncomfortable viewing, as the viewers are forced to ask themselves would they be able to stick to their principals if severely tested. It’s very easy when sitting in a comfortable home, with plenty to eat and drink, to condemn people we read about in the papers, for their actions.
For example, a few years ago, a pilot who survived a plane crash in the wilderness was widely criticised for eating his dead companion to survive. But would we have acted any differently in the same situation? The questions can be too frightening to contemplate.
There was a famous sociology experiment, in which a group of students believed they were torturing people as a punishment for making mistakes. When they protested, they were told stopping would ruin the experiment, so they carried on ignoring their victims pleading. The students were unaware it was an elaborate pretext. The result was alarming as the students were “ordinary” people much like us.
Usually in a dire situation, only the fitness and most ruthless survive, which I believe happened in the horrors of prison camps. Nevertheless, there were many examples of selfless heroism in the worse of situations such as the Nazi concentration camps.
But while we might have some sympathy for Ransom in his desperation, the scale of the killing makes it obvious, that the first killing of an alien marked a descent down a slippery slope of continued killing, even when the need wasn’t so disparate.
For me, though, Ransom and his crew’s most unforgivable act in the episode is their betrayal of the Voyager crew, who showed them nothing but kindness and hospitality. Janeway risks her ship and her life to help Ransom and is the first to reach him on his bridge and offer comfort. He repays her by betraying her trust and leaving Voyager as helpless as the Equinox had been.
One can understand that a good person could commit an evil act if their life was at risk, but the worse that Ransom risked from Janeway was being confined to the Brig or quarters, well fed and protected. Telling Janeway that his crew “was only following orders” is a familiar plea by criminals, most noticeably during the Nuremberg Trials
I felt this story portrayed Janeway as being far more of a stickler for the rule book, than she usually is, to the extent of appearing rather priggish, no doubt to contrast her with Ransom, though it doesn’t take a Starfleet rule book to point out that mass murder of sentient aliens is wrong. Ransom has violated his oaths as a Starfleet officer, which horrifies Janeway, who cares about who she is, however far away from Starfleet Headquarters. It was rather strange that Ransom and his crew still wore the Starfleet uniforms as they’d abandoned Federation ideals.
I thought the Voyager crew appeared rather gullible, no doubt because of their joy at coming across fellow human beings so far from home. Janeway was obviously overjoyed at the prospect of a fellow captain, who happened to be a scientist she admired, to talk to and ease her loneliness. Yet, I was puzzled why Janeway wasn’t suspicious at Ransom’s questions over if she’s adhered to the Prime Directive or the motive of the alien attacks. It was also unlike B’Elanna to so easily succumb to Burke’s flirting, as she’s usually too sensible to be so gullible.
It needed Tuvok and Seven with their logic unclouded by emotion to discover the truth.
We saw a softer side of Seven in her interest to learn more of humanity and her compassion for the injured Lessing.
Of the Equinox crew, Marla Gilmore appeared the most sympathetic and remorseful. However, after expressing regret to Seven at the new examples of humanity she’d encountered, she had no hesitation at rendering her unconscious shortly afterwards. Yet, the various phobias she was suffering from, showed her to be suffering from a deep psychological trauma.
All the acting in this episode was good with superlative performances from Kate Mulgrew and guest star John Savage.
Equinox, Part II
· Episode 121, Production 921
· First Air Date: Wednesday, September 22, 1999
· Guest Cast: Titus Welliver as Burke, Olivia Birkelund as Gilmore, Rick Worthy as Lessing
· Special Guest Star: John Savage as Captain Ransom
· Teleplay By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
· Story By: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
· Directed by: David Livingston
The copyright to Voyager and its character’s belongs to Paramount. The following is a purely personal opinion.
After a brief resume of events in part one, the story continues, Janeway has survived the alien attack with minor facial injuries, but Chakotay has been badly injured and many of Voyager’s crew are injured with several fatalities.
Ransom, ignoring Voyager’s plight, maintains his course.
Janeway and a heavily armed security team patrol the corridors and find a dead alien, while Neelix discovers the Doctor’s portable emitter, which they take to sickbay, which is full of casualties, The Doctor (actually the Equinox’s EMH) pretends he was taken hostage. Chakotay, struggles to sit up as he advises Janeway to find a means to communicate with the aliens. She however is more concerned with finding Ransom, as he is their enemy rather than the aliens.
On the Equinox, Ransom is relaxing using a synaptic stimulator, which shows a coastal scene with lapping waves. Seven is brought to him and he tells her she can choose either to cooperate or spend her time in the Brig She tells him she prefers the Brig. Ransom tells her that not only Captain Janeway can teach her about humanity.
“ You would be an inferior role model.” she replies coldly. Ransom tells her that Janeway has made the mistake of putting her morals before the welfare of her crew.
“ Her only mistake was trusting you.” is Seven’s reply.
Ransom orders Burke to treat Seven’s injuries. The Voyager EMH is discovered. Ransom discovers that Seven has encoded his enhanced warp drive, rendering it unusable without the access codes. The Doctor foolishly boasts about Seven’s Borg enhanced brain and the difficulties of making her reveal information. Ransom deletes the Doctor’s ethical programme and he undergoes an immediate change of personality. He willingly leads off Seven to dissect her brain to obtain the codes.
On Voyager, Janeway and Chakotay are trying to contact the aliens. The appear, and one is almost nose-to-nose with Harry. The attempt at communication fails and the aliens resume their attack. . Janeway is more determined than ever to find the Equinox, while Chakotay wants to make a further attempt at communication.
In her Ready Room, Chakotay confronts Janeway, who won’t look him in the eye. He accuses her of pursuing a personal vendetta. Stony faced, she admits her fury against Ransom, a man, who has betrayed everything that Starfleet stands for. She vows to find him “Whatever the cost.
The Equinox is hiding in a planet’s atmosphere, while an away team forage for supplies led by Lessing.
The Doctor has started dissecting Seven’s brain through her ocular implants. He sings cheerfully as he works. Ransom enters and begs Seven to cooperate before she suffers brain damage. He says he has no choice bur to act as he does. Seven is unimpressed.
A very cold and formal Chakotay suggests finding the Ankari, as the aliens are their “Spirits of Good Fortune” Janeway is still adamant about finding Ransom. She has studied his service record and learned he always hides in trouble, citing incidents with Klingons and Romulans in the past.
Ransom tries to relax with the synaptic stimulator, but sees Seven on the beach. Gilmore assures him, the programme is of a purely scenic nature without people.
On the planet below, Lessing and a crewmate search for supplies, chatting about earth as they do so. They are ambushed by Chakotay and Tom who knock them out.
The Equinox Doctor warns Ransom that Voyager has caught up with them.
Janeway fires on the Equinox, which returns fire. B’Elanna pleads with Burke to stop what they’re doing, but he replies flippantly and ends the transmission. Tuvok looks alarmed at Janeway’s intensity during the battle. She appears almost in a trance as Ransom enters the planet’s atmosphere. Chakotay’s shouts bring her back to her senses. She is furious that Ransom escaped.
Lessing is shackled to a chair in the cargo bay. There is no sign of his companion. In an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, Janeway demands to know the tactical status of the Equinox. His manner is insolent as he refuses to tell her. Janeway says if he doesn’t cooperate, she’ll lower the shields and leave him to the mercy of the aliens. She leaves the room with Chakotay and they argue outside.
Chakotay says, “Lessing is a loyal officer who won’t betray his captain. Janeway is sure he’ll break when the aliens appear. She orders Tuvok to lower the shields, leaving Lessing with an open Comm. link. As the aliens appear, Chakotay rushes into the Cargo bay to rescue Lessing. Janeway looks furious. Chakotay slams Lessing against the wall and orders him to talk about the Ankari
In the conference room, Janeway looks grim, as Chakotay outlines a plan to contact the Ankari and ask for their help.
The senior officers disperse, leaving Janeway and Chakotay alone. They argue and he says he won’t let her cross the line again. She replies, “Then you give me no choice but to relieve you of duty, “Chakotay asks Janeway what’s happened to her. She replies with the same question.
Voyager encounters an Ankari ship, which refuses to respond to their hails. Janeway orders a tractor beam to capture the vessel. Tuvok protests, but carries out her orders, while Harry looks on uneasily.
The Ankari reluctantly summon their spirits of good fortune, who screech angrily. The Ankari captain translates that they want the humans to die. Janeway promises to give them the Equinox. When Tuvok objects, she threatens to confine him to his quarters like Chakotay.
Ransom visits sickbay and finds the Doctor singing “My Darling Clementine” in a macabre duet with Seven. The Equinox captain is troubled by torturing Seven. The Doctor tells him that he’s no choice.
Ransom seeks comfort in his synaptic stimulator, but finds himself confronted by a totally human version of Seven, clad in a pink dress, who looks at him reproachfully, telling him to find another way. The vision is replaced by one of the aliens screeching for vengeance.
Burke announces that Janeway has caught up with them, and Ransom decides to surrender. When Burke protests, Ransom relieves him of duty. Burke mutinies and orders Ransom to be taken to the Brig. Burke orders the Equinox Doctor to transmit Voyager’s shield frequencies.
Gilmore says she remains loyal to Ransom and he hails Voyager to surrender, Janeway accepts, telling a sceptical Harry “He’s still a Starfleet Captain I believe him”.
Ransom orders Gilmore to beam herself to Voyager along with his surviving crew. The aliens attack those that remain and kill Burke.
Janeway begs Ransom to beam to the safety pf Voyager. He refuses, as the ship is about to explode and he wants to put a safe distance between the two vessels. He puts on the synaptic stimulator and is last seen looking peacefully our to sea, dressed in civilian clothes.
Harry looks distressed as the Equinox explodes, while B’Elanna looks sympathetically towards Janeway who appears devastated.
Later, Janeway records in her log that Chakotay has been reinstated. The Doctor apologises to Seven and expresses concern about how easily his programme can be tampered with. Seven promises to help him find a way to secure his ethical subroutines in future. She tells him he was off key in “My Darling Clementine” they arrange to practise singing on the Holodeck.
Janeway inspects the remaining Equinox crew and tells them they’re all demoted and will have to earn trust in future. She lingers slightly longer by Lessing.
On the Bridge, Janeway and Chakotay uneasily survey the damage. She tells him he would have had good reason to stage a mutiny. . He replies it would have been crossing the line. They discover the Voyager dedication plaque has fallen from the wall for the first time. Chakotay puts it back in its place. Janeway looks deeply troubled as the credits roll.
“Do not put us to the test,
But deliver us from evil.”
“ Think not lightly of evil, saying, "It will not come to me."
Drop by drop is the water pot filled.
Likewise, the fool, gathering it little by little,
fills himself with evil. “
Although this episode was a good, I found myself feeling slightly disappointed, as I’d read Diane Carey’s novelisation first, and I felt more emphasis should have been placed on character development, and the ethical implications of the character’s actions, which was often sacrificed in favour of yet another action sequence.
As the Equinox is the time of year when the darkness and light is equally balanced, the story drew parallels between light and dark, good and evil. Reference was also made on several occasion s to crossing lines. Ransom begins the story as evil on the side of darkness, but by the end has redeemed himself. Likewise, Janeway starts holding the moral high ground, but her obsession drives her increasingly towards the dark side. Harmony is restored by her willingness to save Ransom at the end.
Seven's and Lessing's experiences also mirror each other’s, as both are tortured for refusing to betray their captains, while both Captains face the threat of mutiny.
Janeway is by far the most interesting character in the episode, which could serve as a graphic illustration for the saying “There but for the Grace of God, go I” We’ve seen on many occasions, how fiercely protective she is towards her ship and her crew, so when Ransom betrays them, her fury knows no bounds.. History and myth are full of such examples as Draphudi, determined to wash her hair in her enemy’s blood, the betrayed Medea killing her children or Boudicea slaughtering Roman garrisons during her revolt, right up to Margaret Thatcher’s determination during the Falklands war. It’s hard to know, though, whether furious women are more dangerous than men, or whether the stories mainly reflect male fears. In Greek myth, the Furies are female.
Janeway is hardly the only Starfleet captain to have embarked on an obsessive quest for vengeance, Kirk did so in “Obsession”, Picard in “First Contact “ And Sisko, in the worse example, threatened to use to biological weapons to destroy a planet in “For the Uniform”. Janeway’s behaviour towards Lessing was unforgivable, while at the same time being entirely understandable. It’s said we could all commit murder if we were driven to the edge Also feeling totally sure that one is right ,can also be highly dangerous as history shows. Chakotay’s intervention saved Janeway as much as Lessing, as I doubt she would have been able to live with herself had she killed him.
It has to be noted that Janeway promised the angry aliens they could have “The Equinox”, without mentioning whether that included the crew.
I feel the story would have worked better had the aliens appeared more humanoid, rather than like giant fish, though it also has to be remembered that Starfleet resects all sentient life. In episodes such as “Devil in The Dark “and” Home Soil”, the aliens were immediately protected as soon as their sentience became known to a Starfleet captain.
I was troubled at how easily the issues between the Doctor and Seven were resolved. In real life, it would surely have taken a long time to rebuild their friendship.
Chakotay, while having right on his side, unfortunately came across as more petulant than outraged. One would also have expected him to support, the need to find, Ransom, while disagreeing with Janeway’s methods, as Voyager was in danger until Ransom’s killing spree was halted.
Although Harry had little to do in this episode, I loved the way Garrett Wang showed his unease at his Captain’s actions by his facial expressions .The “model” Starfleet officer, he is horrified, when Janeway captures the Ankari ship.
B’Elanna had little to do either, but I loved the look she shot Janeway as the Equinox was destroyed, a mixture of compassion, understanding and relief eloquently conveyed in a fleeting glance.
John Savage as Ransom was excellent as he showed Ransom, as tormented man, gradually regaining his conscience and humanity under Seven’s influence. Seven, of course, regained her humanity under Janeway’s tuition.
Kate Mulgrew was superb as Janeway, vividly depicting a good woman’s descent in obsessional near madness, maybe as a result of the depression and guilt that have gnawed at her increasingly over the years.
I was puzzled why Ransom should have once needed to hide from the Klingons, as The Federation was at peace with them, at the time The Caretaker abducted the ship
This was an interesting and disturbing episode, but I’d recommend anyone who wants to examine the issues more fully, to read the novelisation..