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Star Trek Voy - Season 5 - Episode 18

Star Trek Voy - 5x18 - Course: Oblivion

Originally Aired: 1999-3-3

Crewmembers begin dying. [DVD]

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 5.24

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 31 11 8 11 4 19 10 11 19 20 24

- The premise. See comments.

- This episode is a candidate for my "Worst Episode of Voyager Award."

Remarkable Scenes

My Review
A sequel to Voy: Demon. The writers could have picked any number of wonderful episodes to write sequels to, but no, they had to pick one of the worst episodes they've ever done to write a sequel to. This episode inherits all of the problems both technical and logical of that episode and introduces a few more. It seems the "silver blood" was able to not just duplicate the crew, but the entire ship itself, which seems unlikely to me. Not only this, but the duplicated crew created an enhanced warp drive, which can take them to Earth in just two years! A completely unnecessary and absurd detail. That said, there are some nice details in this episode. For example, I liked the attention to detail with Tom as a Lieutenant, not an ensign, because this Tom never broke the rules in Voy: Thirty Days. But since the whole story takes place on an alternate Voyager and we only see the real heroes for a small time, this episode contributes almost nothing to the overall story and is hardly worth watching at all.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Sir Brando on 2006-05-10 at 12:59pm:
    The idea behind this episode may be flawed, but it is still very unique. It gives you a very creepy feeling. I like it.. it's not the best but I don't think it deserves a 0. just my opinion!
  • From Pete Miller on 2006-11-25 at 11:37pm:
    HAHAHAHA!!! I was watching this episode, and thinking that I was about to give it a zero because I didn't even consider it canon, and then I see you've already made the same conclusion. You wonder what the hell the writers were thinking. Or should I say what kind of alcoholic depression binge they were on. Besides the complete absurdity of the episode and the fact that it has absolutely no effect on anything, it also happens to be DEPRESSING as FUCK!!!! Wow. Thanks for tying up that loose end, writers. This episode really contributes a lot.

    Zero. Second episode of Voyager to get one.
  • From Tony on 2008-09-26 at 3:13pm:
    My opinion is slightly diferent; I think that the idea of bringing back the duplicated crew from "Demon" was a good one (despite the obvious flaw of the entire ship having been duplicated), but the writer(s) did not create a story that create a story that lived up to the potential of that idea, or even come close. All we get to see is the entire duplicated crew die with hardly a storyline at all. A better idea would have been to have Voyager and duplicated Voyager discover each other and try to find out why there are two of them, then have the duplicates begin to degrade, they discover that the real Voyager is causing duplicated Voyager to degrade and they also find out what duplicated Voyager is. Now that the degradation has been started, it cannot be stopped. As a side story, hostile aliens couls have attacked the real Voyager at the beginning, and were driven off. They attack again, but because the aliens are only aware of one Voyager, duplicated Voyager sacrifices themselves to make the aliens think Voyager is destroied and the rear Voyager can continue on it's way. But no, we have to watch a dumb story of people dieing that deserves a zero.
  • From Tallifer on 2011-04-25 at 7:12pm:

    This story is an extremely moving tragedy. Up until the end we are given some sliver of hope that something good can still happen for this doomed crew. We come to identify fully with the plight of these "people" who are fighting for their "humanity" and "Federation values."

    It is a fascinating coda to an equally interesting story. Star Trek was ever brilliant for this kind of story: a once-told short story. Episodic television can be terrific: forty minutes of speculation, drama and escape. Not everything needs to be a twenty-six part epic arc like the dreary Battlestar Galactica.
  • From spline on 2014-01-26 at 6:18am:
    "I think it's an episode people either love or hate," observed Nick Sagan. "The 'hate' category seems to say, 'Why do we follow a crew that isn't even our regular crew?' and they feel cheated. But it really is the story about the poignancy of Voyager's journey. There's something about trying really hard and not being quite able to achieve it, which is a reality to a lot of people [....] [The episode's] about a need to be remembered, a need to be recorded, and that's the special tragedy about making a log, a kind of capsule – we know that the 'Demon' crew dies. It's about loss and remembering, death and grief."

    I'm with Tallifer. I think those who give this silly ratings like 0 or 1 are being unjust and hypocritical. How many pointless episodes about Harry Kim's love life, alien of the week, shuttlecrash of the week, and reset buttons get a pass? Ninety percent of this series' episodes do not advance the overall plot *at all*. And criticizing it because it's not the "real" crew utterly misses the entire point of the story.

    This is a 9/10 episode easily, one of the best of the series.
  • From spline on 2014-01-26 at 6:50am:
    Also, one last thing to think about:

    The writers also wanted to leave certain issues unresolved. "We didn't want to answer a lot of questions," Ken Biller stated, "like, how long has that ship been out there? Some of the episodes that we saw earlier in the season, was it that crew? Or was it the real crew? It's kind of intriguing to think about."

    (quotes from Memory Alpha)
  • From janus on 2014-10-16 at 6:05am:
    An episode which tests issues of personal identity, loyalty and motivation to destruction (literally!)

    When Janeway says that she's determined to get them home, only to be reminded that *their* home is a demon-class planet in the Delta Quadrant, and when Harry Kim is told that, even if they did get "home" to Earth, his family would not want a duplicate of their real son, but only the original, we see a fundamental conflict which cannot be hand-waved away - and that is *true* drama.

    That it starts with Tom and B'Elanna's wedding, and ends with Voyager's destruction, makes clear that the writers meant to create a truly tragic episode. That the probe with the record of all of their mission-data is lost, and that the other Voyager encounters only their wreckage, adds to the tragedy, and maybe even makes us contemplate our own mortality.

    On a side-note, how is it "unlikely" that a fictional substance could perfectly replicate a human being (complete with past memories!) but couldn't replicate inanimate ship components, too? It seems no more unlikely than time travel, which violates our understanding of physics but happens in science fiction all the time.
    Also, it seems irrelevant to object that this isn't the real crew, since they have the same personalities and memories; what about the *backup* Doctor in Living Witness? He's also "just" a copy.

    Let's be honest: plot devices like these are a dramatic conceit. The real point is that, given the setup, the characters act in a consistent and believable way, so that we can relate to their feelings and choices, and be invested in the consequences.

    Of all the stories which show Voyager's crew trying to get home, this is the only one which explores what it would mean, to them and us, if they failed. (Voyager's destruction in Year of Hell was done knowing that it should restore the former timeline.)

    Just for that, this episode is exceptional.


    PS: This one reminds me a lot of DS9 "Whispers", which I also liked. Our reviewer gave that a low score too, so at least I'm (or we're) consistent. ;)
  • From thaibites on 2015-01-20 at 8:04pm:
    When the story opened with Paris and Ms. Miserable getting married, I thought "Oh no, not another stupid soap opera episode!" Luckily, I hung in there and found a quirky little episode that managed to take Voyager out of its predictable rut.

    1) Why is it so unbelievable that the ship was copied? If you think that the holodeck is believable, then you're just being a hypocrite. How many times have we seen the holodeck defy physics and make a room into a huge outdoor scene where people walk for miles. Now that's unbelievable!

    2) The copy crew needed to have an enhanced warp drive so they could be ahead of the real Voyager and almost meet them on the way back. (I wonder if this causes problems in the future for the real Voyager. Maybe they'll run into aliens that the copy crew had a problem with?)

    3) I liked the fact that the copy crew was allowed to die at the end. They violated the crew of Voyager and were an abomination in the eyes of the Lord! Star Trek endings are too nice and orderly, and it was nice to see something different for a change. With X-Files being so popular during this time period, you would think Berman et al would emulate them more often.

    It's obvious this is an episode that people either love or hate. The little gayrods that act like Comicbook Guy on the Simpsons hate it because it doesn't fit into their nice, orderly Start Trek canon world. These people obviously have never had sex with another human, and their real lives are more meaningless than the copy crew's. The people who love this episode are free-thinkers and lovers of science-fiction (NOT soap operas in space). These people long for Berman and friends to push the boundaries of ST in the great tradition of Gene Roddenberry. I think this episode does that quite nicely!
  • From Dstyle on 2015-07-08 at 11:06pm:
    Before watching the episode I came to this site to check it's rating and almost gave it a pass as a result, but I decided to watch it because the fan rating was just a little below average. Boy, I sure am glad I watched this one: one of my favorites of the season so far.

    I guess it definitely is a love it or hate it kind of episode, and I can respect the opinions of those who thought it was a weak episode. Personally, I enjoy science fiction that utilizes the possibilities of a technologically advanced future to explore abstract philosophical problems in a tangible way. Remember Tuvix, and that whole episode that used transporter technology to explore the nature of identity and individuality? To me this felt like an episode in the same vein. What if you discovered that you were not really you, and that the real "you" was out there in the world somewhere living a separate existence? Is your existence any less authentic? What would it take for you to accept that you are the copy and not the other way around? (In this case, it was extreme physical degradation: evidence that you are, in fact, a lesser copy.) Do your experiences and feelings still have value? Should you be afforded the same respect that the "real" you had earned? It was fascinating, and I found the end to be rather beautiful and poignant.

    I'm going to resist the urge to pick apart kethinov's review line by line, with the exception of the final line. Watch this episode. Yeah, you might hate it, but it's a "you love it or you hate it" kind of episode. Don't deny yourself the opportunity of finding out which you are.
  • From dominic on 2016-06-10 at 12:00am:
    It doesn't matter that they're not the "real" crew. They think they are, they react the same way the real crew would, and they are just as heartbroken when they realize they will never see Earth.
  • From tigertooth on 2017-06-20 at 12:06am:
    I was okay with the premise. Some of the flaws that have been mentioned hurt it a bit, but I could deal with it.

    To me, the main problem was that outside of the premise, the episode was just kinda boring. It's like 45 minutes of "we're melting" and then they die. There's no dramatic arc. From the moment they learn the truth until the end, nothing really happens except slow decay and death.

    I wonder if they should have held off the reveal that they were all duplicates for a while longer. Like they realize it's related to the Demon planet, then they start to think that they're being infected by their duplicates. They could even given a technobabble explanation of how a duplicate Voyager could have been created. They run into the other Voyager, thinking it's the duplicate. Then they come to realize they're the duplicates. Then you go to the valiant sacrifice idea somebody mentioned earlier. At least it would have given them something to do....
  • From QuasiGiani on 2017-08-25 at 4:49am:
    Excellent episode. It _is_ canon. Those that don't realize this don't understand the term (though they are so obviously just itchin' to use it; like a Vocabulary Of The Week word)... so object if you must but you really shouldn't must.

    Excellent episode. It is _also_ part of a (apparently preciousssss) story arc... so again, embrace this episode.

    Excellent episode. It is _also_ _also_ (as a few have pointed out) an episode that harkens-back to TOS as a sci-fi short-story format that needn't answer to every goddamed negative, niggling, nebbishmal, nay-saying, neurotican, nerdling, nabobbing natter... so, to those who enjoyed it: Nanu... Nanu!
  • From McCoy on 2017-09-22 at 11:19am:
    I don't understand all that low ratings. Looks like you people prefer utopian, happy space adventures. This was a great tragedy with good use of s-f elements. Certailny better than most high ranked action episodes (like i.e. Dark Frontier).
    I expected that they will somehow contact the original Voyager and send them a beacon. But the writers made bold choice and served us hard, depressing, moving end. Bravo! 9/10 from me.
  • From minnie on 2017-12-01 at 9:15am:
    I'm with Spline on this one. I found it haunting and it stayed with me afterwards. It's one of the most memorable episodes - many of them aren't. I don't think it matters whether the story arc is advanced. It is still about the crew, eg. Janeway sticking to the mission despite all evidence saying she should turn around and so forth. Very interesting, a proper sci fi story, and a sad one. A tragedy. So I gave it 9.
  • From jbense on 2018-03-04 at 3:12pm:
    Gotta say: I completely disagree with those who consider this a poor episode.

    To me, it is one of Voyager's best.

    User janus above pointed out similarites with DS9's "Whispers." It also brings to mind the DS9 episode "The Visitor," another tangential side-plot episode written in the poignant style of a classic sci-fi short story.

    I advise strongly against skipping this episode.
  • From notaduck on 2020-04-03 at 11:14am:
    I'm on the "love it" side of the fence! Watching the whole series for the first time. This one stuck with me for all the reasons I enjoy science fiction: spectacular possibilities (cloning), centered on real human emotions (loss, home, protection), not afraid to face hard philosophical questions (identity, being remembered, the meaning of principles), wrapped in a short story. There are some slow parts, but I feel like the uncertainty of their fate and the struggles of the duplicate captain more than made up for it.

    A point I think can be missed is the tragedy at the end isn't just about loss of life, but loss of accomplishments, recognition, and respect for these lives. Imagine if the real Voyager had picked up the secret of the advanced warp drive! Imagine Tom and Elana reading their twins' marriage vows! It's a thoughtful, subtle statement I think can be lost in the prosthetics.

    Man, I'm glad I made it through the early seasons to get treats like this...
  • From Ralph on 2021-10-25 at 1:26pm:
    I think this episode is the one where I am furthest away from Kethinov's opinion - with whom I'm generally quite in agreement with. I think this was a wonderful episode. A real tragedy that was well written. Up until the very end I had my hopes up for something to come out of the duplicate crew. Even at the very last scene after it was clear that the time capsule was lost, there was hope of the real Voyager finding a remnant of their counterparts.

    Star Trek almost never writes an episode like this. At least not this era of Star Trek. I find this easily one of the better Voyager episodes.

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