The Great Star Trek Voyager: Random Thoughts

Whilst conducting trades with the telepathic Mari, B’Elanna accidentally has an aggressive thought when someone bumps into her. Unfortunately, on the Mari homeworld, such thoughts are illegal, and when B’Elanna’s thought triggers some of the Mari to acts of violence, she is arrested. Can Tuvok prove B’Elanna’s innocence before the Mari start erasing parts of her mind?

This episode takes the ‘thought police’ to a literal extreme, by introducing us to a world of telepaths when even the thought of violence is illicit. It’s one of those things that both sounds a bit silly and was bound to come up in a Star Trek episode some day. As such, it’s a reasonable episode, but by no means outstanding.

On the plus side, Tuvok gets plenty of development and screen time here. We see his respect and affinity for Chief Examiner Nimira; his determination as an investigator, and even a glimpse at the depth of dark emotion the average Vulcan must learn to master. It’s nice to have such a rounded portrayal of Tuvok that doesn’t rely on stripping away his Vulcan control.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t entirely redeem the story. There’s still a bit too much “magical Vulcan telepathic power” involved in resolving the plot – as always, the limits of Vulcan abilities are dictated solely by the needs of the plot.

What did you think?

Could a society – even a telepathic one – really police and enforce a law that forbids all violent thoughts? Obviously the black market for dark thoughts meant that it wasn’t quite working, but let’s drill down a bit into the details, and the plot holes.

  • First off, the fact that there’s a market for collected thoughts suggests that the Mari either completely lack imagination or have been so indoctrinated by three generations of thinking happy thoughts that they cannot even imagine violence. Another possibility is that they simply get off on experiencing the violent thoughts of others – just as a human is perfectly capable of fantasising about sex, but may still enjoy the arousing effects of watching porn.
  • Logistically, is it fine to have a violent thought if there’s no one else around to sense it? If you live out in the countryside with few neighbours, who’s going to know anyway?
  • It also seems pretty unhealthy to just suppress these kinds of thoughts entirely. Sometimes it’s worth playing something out in the solitude of your own psyche, as opposed to forcing it all down into the subconscious and making yourself crazy. Of course, it’s not clear just how much of their own psyche each Mari has to themselves – if they can all sense each other’s thoughts all of the time, then that too feels like a recipe for disaster.

Other points

  • Tugging a Talaxian’s whiskers is something of an erotic act.
  • Neelix says he’s not a fan of telepaths, despite dating Kes – who was actively trying to hone her telepathic powers – for over two years.
  • When describing the function of the brig, Tuvok fails to note the numerous rehabilitation facilities and efforts that exist in the Federation.
  • Even though Janeway is rightly worried about the Mari tampering with B’Elanna’s memories, the Federation aren’t always so concerned about the dangers of memory erasure. Just remember what Pulaski did to Sarjenka in Pen Pals.
  • Tuvok’s violent thoughts include shots from Star Trek First Contact, Star Trek Generations and Even Horizon- even though Tuvok wasn’t present for the events of the first two films, and the third doesn’t even take place in the Star Trek universe.

Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 11

Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 7

Number of times the entire crew gets kicked off the ship: 2

Number of times Voyager gets destroyed: 2

Summary – Random Thoughts: Think happy thoughts, everyone.

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