Voyager discovers a set of stasis pods – the last remnants of a civilisation wiped out by a natural disaster some twenty years previously. But something is amiss – the planet’s biosphere has long since recovered, but the denizens of the pods remain suspended in a dream instead of waking up as planned. And when Harry and B’Elanna hook themselves up to the artificial dream to find out what’s going on, they discover that the sleepers are being held hostage by the incarnation of their own fears.
I don’t like clowns, I don’t like TV’s limited budget attempts to create hedonistic pleasure environments, and I’m wary of storylines about getting trapped in dream worlds. All that being said, I actually really like The Thaw – for the simple fact that it does all of these things well. The dream world ruled by Fear is just the right level of crazy and creepy, the Voyager crew work well together under pressure, and Captain Janeway’s final triumph is great to watch. You really get a feel for her tenacity and smarts in this episode – she’s going to protect her crew no matter what it takes, and at her best there are few that can outmatch her.
Points of Note
- Fear seems quite taken with the fact that Harry has technical skills, even though B’Elanna is also highly skilled in that regard. Maybe it’s the fact that Harry is younger and easier to needle, or that Harry’s more of a programmer and software engineer, whereas B’Elanna is an outright hardware person. As an artificial intelligence, Fear would surely be more interested in Harry’s software skills.
- Is Janeway committing murder by switching off Fear? Arguably he is a sentient existence with as much of a right to live as the likes of Data and the Doctor, and yet Janeway ends his existence.
Digression: The Universal Translator
Nothing to do with this episode in particular, but something arising from the season in general. Firstly, if the universal translator is tied into comm badges and the ship’s computer, then why are there are cases when crewmembers lose their comm badges on away missions and are still able to understand the indigenous aliens?
Secondly, how does the universal translator know when not to translate particular terms – such as katra or Sto-vo-kor? Is it because they have no exact translation, or have they become loan words into English somehow?
Lost shuttlecraft running total: 4
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 3
Number of times Voyager gets destroyed: 1
Summary – The Thaw: In which Janeway kills an evil clown.