The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Prototype

When Voyager finds a damaged robot floating in space, B’Elanna decides to dedicate herself to repairing it. With a bit of ingenuity, she is able to reactivate Automated Unit 3947, but when the robot learns of her engineering prowess, it has an additional request – that B’Elanna attempt to manufacture fresh power cells for his people, before they go extinct. Although B’Elanna is keen to attempt this project, Janeway is wary of the implications for the Prime Directive – and she may well have good reason to do so.

Maybe it’s just nostalgia speaking, but it feels like Voyager is really beginning to hit its stride now, with another worthy episode full of twists, turns, and the obligatory invocation of the Prime Directive. So far, B’Elanna’s primary defining characteristics have been her impulsiveness and hot temper, but now we get to properly see the side of her that loves solving engineering problems. With a clear goal in mind – saving a dying race – B’Elanna is keen to lend her skills to solving a fascinating problem, but as Janeway warns, the consequences may not be so clear cut. Indeed, the robots are at war with another faction just like them, a war so all-consuming that they even turned on their humanoid creators when a truce was declared. What suddenly seemed like the right thing to do now takes on a new horror, as B’Elanna realises that her actions in creating a prototype might well have doomed more lives than it saved. Fortunately, she is able to put things right in the last five minutes, but it’s still an action-packed ride.

Points of Note

  • When B’Elanna is building the prototype, the Pralor units force her to stay in a single room, with no apparent access to any kind of amenities – in fact, it seems unlikely that a robot ship would contain any food, sleeping areas, water or toilets. So what is B’Elanna doing for sustenance during this time? And is she just shitting in a corner somewhere? Perhaps there were some limited facilities for humanoids aboard the ship, in case a Builder wanted to accompany the robots – there may even be some ancient ration packs that B’Elanna could chow down on.
  • B’Elanna mentions the one sentient artificial life form in the Federation – namely TNG’s very own Lieutenant Commander Data. Of course, Voyager has its own sentient AI in the form of The Doctor, but he is a hologram rather than an android.
  • As is often the case with Star Trek, the technobabble is too nonsensical to even bother trying to make sense of it with reference to contemporary science.
  • This is one of the very few Star Trek episodes to depict the transporter sequence through the eyes of the entity being beamed up – the other being TNG’s Realm of Fear.

Lost shuttlecraft running total: 4

Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 3

Summary – Prototype: In which we have to hope that Torres sabotaged the prototype unit sufficiently well that the Pralor robots cannot duplicate it.

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