Star Trek Voyager Torture: Prototype (Season 2 Episode 29)

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Voyager Torture features Vincent reviewing an episode of Star Trek Voyager that he’s seen for the first time and Chris Piers drawing an image based on that episode that he’s never seen.

It’s time for another episode of Star Trek: Voyager and therefore time to be tortured. What’s fun about this whole thing is I never know how badly this will turn out when I first hit play. Will it be abysmal or simplely ludicrous? Or dare I hope that this will be one of the very few 0 out of 5 Neelix episodes?! Prototype started out somewhat promising with a directed by credit by Jonathan Frakes and an interesting intro… but then starting going downhill. But more on that in a minute!

StarTrek-Voyager_torres tuvok and janeway look into the camera

This does not look at all silly.

The episode opens up with a POV from some sort of robot being beamed aboard the Voyager. All we see is from it’s point of view as the characters cram their heads into a 4:3 TV aspect ratio to look at this thing and it looks silly. At first I thought maybe it might be something cool like a Borg that they beamed aboard… but that was not the case. By the time you see the robot you realize that this show simply gave up.

The robot looks like a mix between the robot from Metropolis and something a little kid would make for Halloween. It’s the worst costume design I’ve seen since Star Trek the original series. It beats any of the terrible costumes seen in the first season of Next Generation. It’s worse than an enemy you’d see on the original black and white episodes of Doctor Who.

Decades of increasing TV budgets and technical know how were basically thrown in the garbage to make this shitty robot. What’s even more fun is My girlfriend is a costume designer and she pointed out that the robot is only wearing “clothes” in order to cheat, so they didn’t have to bother making robot hands or legs. This robot costume is a fucking joke.

Torres tries to fix the robot on Star Trek Voyager

Not Pictured: A Constant Stream of Techno Babble.

Torres wants to fix the robot and spends a good amount of time agonizing over it. There’s a ton of techno-babble this episode. It goes from “oh hey, they’re doing the techno-babble thing” to “holy shit, they won’t shut up spouting nonsense”. Torres can’t figure it out, drinks a bunch of coffee, has short (thankfully) scene with Neelix who gives her advice, and then talks to the Doctor. While she’s talking to the Doctor she figures out that that she has to do some gobbly guk to the ble blarb and it just might work!

And after some struggles she does get it to work. By the way, during the robot repair scene Janeway is helping out. Jeebus cripes talk about a micro manager. A Captain’s job is to delegate, not help fix a dumb space junk robot. Anyway, the robot wakes up and explains he is basically a servant to a race of people that are no extinct.

Janeway micromanages Torres

Again, I’d rather watch the episode that Chris Piers draws.

At one point he asks Torres if she can make new power units. He explains that his people can’t make new ones and therefore they can’t make new robots. Torres goes to Janeway to tell her about this.

As Torre is talking to Janeway about the robots and their need for power modules, I had a sinking feeling that it would be a prime directive episode. I loathe prime directive episodes, because it’s a bullshit, arbitrary rule. When Torres is done talking Janeway then says, “Helping them reproduce is a clear violation of the prime directive.”

ARGHHHH NOOOO! Fuck this!

The Prime Directive is total elitist bullshit in the first place. I’m not going to go at length about it here, but it’s so selective that the whole thing is garbage. We’ve often seen Starfleet saving entire civilizations from an asteroid hitting their planet, or helping them life saving medicine, but then in other cases they say they can’t do anything because extinction is a part of evolution. Despite the fact that they’re willing to help out warp capable societies. Like that one technological feat makes you worthy of life.

Now here’s where things get interesting. Basically the rest of the plot is written to justify Janeway’s stance. After Torres tells her robot buddy that it sucks to be them, but they can’t help, the robot kidnaps her. And if that’s not bad enough, when the Voyager fires on the robot ship to try and rescue her, they get their ass handed to them, because the robot ship is far superior to the Voyager.

Torres is kidnapped by a robot shooting electrical beams

Good thing she gave it a new battery.

Now if Torres doesn’t try to help show them how to build new power units, the robots tell her that they’ll kill her and everyone on Voyager. Oh and if she fails they’ll kill them too. Nothing like working under some pressure.

Torres figures out that the robot’s can’t replicate their own power units to make new robots because the power units have a unique identifier that only works for that particular robot. After lots of hard work, Torres and her robot pal make a prototype robot that works.

Crappy robot from Star Trek Voyager episode Prototype

Just look at this shit.

It’s during this time the robot that kidnapped Torres asks her if they have robots. She says yes, but only one has sentience, so he’s treated like a living creature and has all the same rights as they do. They actually mention him by name (Data for those who don’t know anything about Star Trek), which brought me joy. Even mentioning the name of a character on a better show is like a warm ray of sunshine.

This brings up something I thought about during the show. It’s an interesting idea to have a society of robots to get another view to what a society of Datas might be. I read that they had considered making the robots on this episode a reoccurring villain, because Voyager had shit for villains. But then they decided against it, spent no money on the design of these robots, and never revisit them again. Because why would Voyager ever want anything interesting?

Meanwhile Janeway and team are trying to come up with a way to rescue Torres. They could use a distraction and one appears… another ship full of robots attacking the first robot ship.

Robot ships shooting at each other

Robot space battle!

It turns out that both robots were built by opposing species that are extinct. Even worse, it’s revealed that the reason that the robots are still fighting the war is because their builders never turned them off. And even worse yet is that when their original builders wanted to end the war the robots killed the builders, because they didn’t want to be terminated. The robots that kidnapped Torres want to create more robots in order to replenish their ranks to defeat the other robots. Now you can see the plot has been contrived to prove Janeway’s original point of not helping them, but just as easily the robots could have been peaceful explorers. Perhaps before saying no and citing some rule that is arbitrarily followed, they could investigate the culture they’re saying no to and perhaps find out these kinds of things ahead of time. It would be a little bit more work, but the alternative is letting people die based on a principle.

Anyway, Torres is pretty pissed at this so she decides to kill the prototype and stabs it in it’s power cell using a space screwdriver and destroys it. Like they couldn’t somehow replicate it using her plans, her solution that she shared with them, and what they observed during her constructing it, but whatever, it’s Voyager logic doesn’t apply.

Janeway and Torres drink coffee

“Maybe next time you’ll follow my orders without question, Torres.”

Torres is beamed off the ship and they make their escape. In the end, we’re left with Janeway and Torres discussing what happened with Torres being all sad that she had to kill her creation. And I’m left feeling angry and bitter for having to had gone through it all.

Most Torturous Moment:

Janeway acting morally superior by bringing the Prime Directive into things.

Least Annoying Characters:

Torres, The Doctor, Tom Paris

Chris Art Accuracy: Chris is pretty close on the face of the robot, except the one in the episode was far cheaper than he could have imagined. Oh and it had normal, gloved human hands because even claw hands would have been too much for the shitty budget on this episode. Yes, robot hands on a robot would have been asking too much of Voyager.

Torture Score: 3 out of 5 Neelixes

3 of 5 Neelix

  • Big Jim

    Something you don’t see everyday – a robot wearing a turtleneck

    Well, not since the ’70s anyway

  • Wow, great observation. I wish I had made it.

  • Big Jim

    You kind of did. Just like with the rest of the clothes, the turtleneck lets the actor turn his head without having to design a decent, and fully articulated, costume.

    Makes me wonder if at any time Christian Bale asked “wait, why can’t Batman wear a dickey?”

  • Dee Kay

    I’m so glad you are posting again!

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