When Voyager comes across a damaged Malon freighter that is about to explode and flood the sector with deadly theta radiation, they must work together with the two surviving Malon crewmembers to prevent the disaster. B’Elanna is selected to lend her engineering expertise to the mission, but her volatile temperament threatens to aggravate an already tense situation.
I think I actually quite liked Juggernaut when I first watched it, even though in retrospect I neither thought much of it or was particularly looking forward to seeing it again. There are two plot elements we really need to examine here, and both of them turn out to be a bit disappointing.
First, let’s talk about B’Elanna. Many of B’Elanna’s storylines revolve around her anger management issues. And I understand a lot of where this is coming from. I too am mixed race, and whenever I would get angry as a child, it would be blamed on my ‘hot Arab temper’, just as B’Elanna’s issues are blamed on her ‘Klingon temper’. Of course, both of these things are pretty racist and don’t deal with any of the underlying issues. Just like B’Elanna, I came to dislike my ‘alien’ heritage, and feel like I was fundamentally a bad person. Unlike her, though, I turned my anger inwards rather than outwards.
Anyway, there’s clearly a rich character seam to be mined here – about someone who grew up mired in self-hatred, who was angry at everything, and who learns over Voyager’s journey to value herself and gain confidence. Except it doesn’t really work that way. Every so often, B’Elanna gets an episode where her temper gets her in trouble, and she’s back to square one. In between those times, the issue is barely touched upon. There’s no discernible character arc – as late as season seven, she still hates her Klingon enough to want to genetically modify her unborn child to be 100% human. Her relationship with Tom Paris is fractious and always on the verge of falling apart, and neither character ever seems to learn or grow from it. Hell, even having them break up and move on with their lives would be development of a sort.
And then there’s the Malon. I like that this episode fleshes them out a bit – they aren’t all they immoral spreaders of pollution that we were first introduced to in Night. In fact, it seems as if many of them have other jobs, and only haul dangerous radiation through space because it pays a living wage. And yet, how can I take their suffering seriously when Voyager has the means to change their entire society? Just because the first Malon they met were uninterested in Voyager’s clean fuel technology, it seems as if they’ve just stopped trying to offer it to them. Not that I’m sure where the Prime Directive stands here – often it seems okay to help a society if it means saving them or improving their immediate quality of life, although of course even that isn’t a hard and fast rule.
- Given that Voyager has taken a couple of shortcuts since first meeting the Malon, either their space is extremely extensive, or they have access to multiple subspace vortices throughout the Delta Quadrant.
- B’Elanna is said to have received a fatal dose of radiation poisoning, even though this is clearly not the case.
- The Malon have thick, sturdy radiation suits, and all the Voyager crew get are some magical injections. I think I’d rather have both, just to be on the safe side.
Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 15
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 9
Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 3
Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 4
Summary – Juggernaut: In which B’Elanna has anger management issues – again.