“State of Flux”

"Aim for their hair, you can't miss!"
“Aim for their hair, you can’t miss!”

Voyager, on a mission to a random planet for food supplies, runs into the Kazon Nistrim, a rival sect to the bad guys from “Caretaker”. After leaving the planet, Voyager finds a crippled Kazon ship with a mostly dead crew — the result of an accident after trying to install a replicator from Voyager. Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok eventually figure out that Ensign Seska (Martha Hackett) a former Maquis crew member and Bajoran who had a thing with Chakotay back in the day has been working with the Kazon. Turns out Seska’s really a Cardassian agent who was on Chakotay’s ship as a spy and objects to Janeway’s initial decision to strand the ship. After she’s discovered, Seska beams to a Kazon vessel led by Maje Cullah (Anthony De Longis) and escapes.

Why it’s important

This episode, even more so than the pilot, sets up the Kazon to be Voyager’s main bad guys for season two, which we’ll discuss in later reviews. Seska’s defection and assistance to the Kazon Nistrim is a huge domino. We also learn just how nasty the Kazon can be, especially when Culluh has the sole survivor from the crippled ship killed so he can’t provide any information to Janeway. And it shows the Kazon’s near obsession with stealing Voyager’s advanced technology, another major theme in the coming season.

Finally, while it’s not the first episode to explore this angle, “State of Flux” shows how Voyager’s mission is so very different than what we’ve seen before on Star Trek. That a starship crew would beam to a planet and pick berries (among other things) is at least a nod toward the show’s unique premise.

I could really go for some yamok... I mean hasperat, totes hasperat.
“I could really go for some yamok… I mean hasperat, totes hasperat.”

What doesn’t hold up

I really like this episode, so I won’t trash it’s somewhat sketchy premise too much, but Seska’s ability to get around Voyager’s security systems, steal a replicator, etc., is pretty amazing. It either means Tuvok’s not very good at his job or that Seska’s a freaking genius. Keep in mind that Seska 1) was able to contact the Nistrim without anyone noticing 2) got a replicator to them  without anyone noticing and 3) had an emergency beam-out program that knows to send her to the exact coordinates of Cullah’s ship. The first two points would be extremely difficult and the third would be all but impossible.

"An old Earth expression may be in order Commander. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice..."
“An old Earth expression may be in order, Commander. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice…”

Final thoughts

After a lot of episodes in season one that could have just as easily been done on TNG, “State of Flux” does a nice job utilizing Voyager’s premise. Even if Seska’s abilities and methods are unbelievable, it’s totally believable that a member of the Maquis crew — especially, a Cardassian operative within it — would object to Janeway’s initial decision to maroon Voyager and take action against her. And while Seska wouldn’t be considered among Trek’s top villains, Martha Hackett does a nice job playing the role and is effective when her true identity is discovered.

This is also a nice episode for Robert Beltran and the Chakotay character, who would go on to become the most neglected character in the cast in Voyager’s later years. The Chakotay/Tuvok relationship was always one of the show’s most interesting, and seeing the two of them work together to find out who was in contact with the Kazon was great. Chakotay asking Tuvok if he was easy to fool was a nice moment to end this episode.

Coming later this week …

More fun with the Kazon, and a guest appearance by a DS9 regular.

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