After the punishing brutality of last episode I had high hopes that the next episode would be at least somewhat tolerable. I was wrong.
“Threshold” opens up with Tom Paris testing out some sort of new warp drive on a shuttle that lets him get past warp 9. My powers of deductive reasoning led me to believe that this was one of those, “Will they get home episodes.” And my powers of deduction did not fail me, because I’m trapped once more with one of these episodes where the answer is obviously, “No”, “No, they will not get home.”
Things don’t go exactly well for Paris and he blows up. That was a trick though, he was in the holodeck. What a weird way to start the episode. You’d think they’d have kept that reveal for after credit sequence.
Cut to the Torres, Paris, and Kim sulking in the cafeteria. Neelix offers to help. Not only is he a cook and a scout, but he also worked as an engineer. How convenient. Just… anyway, the team explains to him that they’re trying to break “the warp barrier.” At warp 10 you can go super duper fast. You basically reach ludicrous speed and you’d be able to get home fast, but you can’t go to 10. Weird how this has never come up before on other Star Trek series before this point.
Anyway, they figure out some made up bullshit that will let them hit Warp 10. It works in the holodeck, so they go to Janeway. She gives her blessing to go ahead and do it for realsies. But there’s a catch. Janeway stops by Paris’s quarters and drops a bomb on him that they’ve discovered there’s a chance he can suffer some brain hemorrhaging if he’s the one to fly the shuttle at warp 10. Kim is going to be put on pilot duty. The real sweet detail here is that there’s a 2% chance of this happening. Yes, 2%. Pilots face much a much greater risk doing basically anything else. If you drive a car you probably face a greater risk getting into an accident on the highway than 2%. Just being on a starship in Star Trek probably ups the chances you’ll die a horrific death by 50%. Paris argues that it’s his mission, so Janeway agrees. Well, that was a nice waste of time.
Paris is off in his shuttle and he turns it up to 10. Everything is going fine until he hits the warp barrier and they lose contact with him. A few minutes later the shuttle comes out of warp and Tom is back, but asleep. They wake him up and he says when he entered warp he could see everything somehow… it’s kind of vague. Anyway, science mumbo jumbo later and they figure that they can pretty much go anywhere in the universe now. Yeah, I bet not. If that could happen the A.) The series would be over or at least they’d have to change their whole premise and they’ve spent way too much on Kazon wigs to do that. B.) The Star Trek universe would be completely changed with technology this advanced. If Voyager has proven anything to us, they’re lazy and they like sitting in their little rut. They’re not going to make any changes that would have any kind of impact on the cozy, warm blanket that Next Generation made for them. They’re going to keep all warm and snug until the show dies.
Our first hints that it’s not working is when Tom gets sick and brought to the Sick Bay. The Doctor finds out that Paris is now allergic to water and all his bio somethings are changing and mutating. Now, I have to admit, I kind of lost track of what was happening. I got depressed when I realized I’ve done 31 of these Voyager Tortures. That’s about 31 hours of my life spent watching this series and I’m only on season 2. I’ve got five more seasons left.
Anyway, The Doctor stabilizes Paris and medical drama. Paris dies. After some sadness, the Doctor finds Paris isn’t actually dead. He’s grown another heart. I have zero investment in any of this, because I know that by the end of the episode he’ll be totally fine as if nothing happened. In fact, he won’t carry any of the emotional scars that such a horrific experience would exact because this is Star Trek: Voyager.
While Paris is down with the sickness a traitor on the Voyager sends the data on the warp 10 breakthrough to the Kazon. What a jerk!
Back to Paris who is looking pretty gross at this point. I was really hoping he was going to turn into The Fly. He makes an aggressive move towards Janeway before hitting the force field keeping him separated from the rest of the sick bay. Oh, and then he starts gagging and he pulls off his tongue and then he smiles. This was awesome. Paris-Fly here we come!
The Doctor comes up with some sort of method of healing Paris that involves using the warp core that removes the mutated DNA and replaces it with his own. Sounds like a great way to cure cancer. Unfortunately, Paris escapes and the escape is off screen. Yep, they eliminated the action scene in this episode.
Mutant Paris steals Janeway and heads off in a shuttle. I was hoping Janeway would get the mutant treatment and pull out her tongue, but I figured this as an unlikely possibility.
While they’re gone, The Doctor explains that everything that was happening to Paris was represented in human evolution. He was sort of going through it a second time, evolving into our future. Hey, it beats de-evolving into a fish, I guess (this is a reference to one of the worst episodes of Star Trek: Next Generation).
And I wrote that last sentence before I finished the episode… because basically he does turn into a fish. You see, the crew finds where Paris took Janeway, an uninhabited planet. When they get to the surface they find that both Paris and Janeway have devolved (or evolved?) to fishy salamander creatures… and they had babies. Yes, they mated at some point and had babies.
You might be wondering why they turned into salamanders if they were “evolving”. Well, there was some thought about how instead of becoming a higher life form, maybe evolution would go in another direction. You know, because it makes sense that there would be some sort of genetic disposition to turn into a salamander despite inventing Starships that can cross the galaxy faster than light.
Later in the sickbay we find Paris and Janeway completely back to normal and they’re basically like, “Huh, well that was weird.” They even make a sex joke about how maybe Janeway initiated their mating. And that’s it. The most bizarre thing to happen to anyone in the universe (granted, weird stuff happens on Star Trek all the time, but personally weird for these characters) and they basically shrug it off like it aint no thing.
“Threshold” is regarded as the worst episode of Voyager, but as someone who has been tortured this long I honestly don’t share that opinion. I think the series has broken me down to the point where even something this bad isn’t enough for me to consider it the worst. I’ve had much worse experiences watching Star Trek: Voyager than this one. During “Threshold” I basically just felt numb as the series hit me with stupidity. Or maybe I’m not broken. Maybe I’ve prepared myself by retreating into myself as the series tries to break my brain further. Only time will tell.
Least Annoying Characters:
The Doctor, Tom Paris
Chris Art Accuracy:
Chris is pretty close to this one, though I think Chakotay was mentally vomiting. He’s a professional.
Torture Score: 4 out of 5 Neelixes