Stardate 0010.02: <I>Voyager</I> in Heat! - Mania.com



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Stardate 0010.02: Voyager in Heat!

Plus: Trek Spoilers, Trek Books

By Michelle Erica Green     October 02, 2000

For people lucky enough to receive UPN's regular broadcasts, Star Trek: Voyager returns for its seventh and final season on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The network has been airing a new preview for 'Unimatrix Zero, Part Two' showing a battle-scarred Voyager, which later teams with a Borg cube to fight another vessel commanded by the Queen.

In addition, the promo shows Janeway being further assimilated, with drones inserting an object into her head while the queen intones, 'You're part of us now.' Later, the Queen demands that the assimilated Tuvok, Torres and Janeway help assimilate Voyager. Still photos on startrek.com show the three characters making contact with one another, which would seem to suggest that they can think independently despite the assimilation process. We were led to believe that was Janeway's general idea for getting them assimilated in the first part of 'Unimatrix Zero.' Well, we'll know for sure in a couple of days!

We couldn't help noticing that Vaughn Armstrong--who has already played two Klingons, two Cardassians, a Romulan, a Borg and a Vidiian--will be appearing as a Hirogen in 'Flesh and Blood.' Dave Henderson of PsiPhi put together an additional list of Trek credits for several other actors in the upcoming two-parter, plus the episode 'Body and Soul.' Paul Eckstein played two Jem'Hadar, a Hirogen and one of the aliens from 'Gravity'; Megan Gallagher played a Trill and a 20th century human on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; Spencer Garrett played a Romulan descendant; and Cindy Katz played a Cardassian.

Marva Hicks, who also appears on Voyager this season, played Tuvok's Vulcan wife T'Pel in 'Persistence of Vision' and 'Bliss.' The fact that her name appears in current episode credits is most interesting, because of some recent rumors leaking out of Paramount...

Trek Spoilers: Hot, Sweaty Bonding Rituals

From TrekWeb, the news that we've all been waiting for: Tuvok is going to go through pon farr! DerekWW posted to the site that in the upcoming episode 'Body and Soul,' directed by Robert Duncan McNeill, Tuvok will finally experience the mating urge that strikes Vulcans every seven years. Though junior engineer Vorick went through pon farr (and tried to take B'Elanna Torres with him) several seasons ago, Tuvok has thus far been spared the irresistible desire to mate. According to TrekWeb, Tom Paris feels sorry for Tuvok and tries to assist him medically.

Vorick had considered assuaging his desires with meditation or holograms, but apparently it wasn't enough to satisfy him. Pon farr has been one of the most intriguing aspects of Vulcan culture since the Classic Trek episode 'Amok Time' pitted Kirk and Spock against one another in a battle to the death, so let's hope Paris offers Tuvok combat rather than some hokey holographic solution that would diminish the conceptual power of the mating drive. Of course, since the Vulcan alternative to sex is death, it's possible that Tuvok could be the character who doesn't survive the voyage home. But I'm betting that if a better solution isn't found in the tasteful mode Brannon Braga prefers, some nice crewmember will offer to 'save' him.

'Body and Soul'--whose main plot concerns the Doctor inhabiting the body of Seven of Nine to protect his program from termination--will apparently explore themes of togetherness on many fronts. DerekWW states that while the Doctor's away, Paris and Torres play doctor, supposedly after the much-ballyhooed wedding scene that is now rumored to take place in the mess hall. No gossip about any togetherness for Janeway and Chakotay, the most popular couple on Voyager never to have a romance, but interviews with Kate Mulgrew and Ken Biller this week offer some cause for hope.

The official site at startrek.com features a new article on Janeway with quotes by both the actress and executive producer about the captain's hopes and expectations over the course of next season. In the episode 'Shattered, an anomaly will time-shatter the ship, allowing a current Chakotay to meet Janeway from before the Caretaker stranded Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. This early Janeway will see her crew through Chakotay's eyes as he leads her around the vessel. 'She'll face key moments in her past, and a few points in the future that will take place if they can't escape the anomaly that time-shatters the ship,' explains Biller.

In some ways this sounds a bit like 'Afterlife,' a story outline written by former executive producer Jeri Taylor that eventually evolved into the third-season episode 'Coda.' Taylor has always been the Janeway/Chakotay champion: in addition to writing a love scene in the first draft of 'Resolutions,' she scripted a J/C kiss in 'Hunters' that Brannon Braga demanded be excised. According to a source working in the Hart Building, Taylor's original conception of 'Afterlife' was a sort of 'It's a Wonderful Life' story, in which Janeway witnessed major events of her past and future--including her marriage to Chakotay. I seriously doubt the current writing staff will pursue that same direction, considering that Taylor got nowhere with it despite her efforts, but boy, wouldn't Biller be popular with J/C fans if they did.

In the latter half of the season, Biller said Janeway would become very single-minded about getting home as her ship begins to deteriorate. She must face the possibility that it may no longer be capable of traveling to the Alpha Quadrant. 'She'll be forced to ask herself exactly how far she's willing to go to get home,' explains the exec. Don't we already know the sad answer to that question from 'Course: Oblivion'? Maybe we're in for a surprise. Mulgrew continues to insist that Janeway would and perhaps should go down with the ship, yet she adds, 'Even greater, however, is Janeway's commitment to her crew. Against her better judgment, she has fallen in love with all eight people dear to her.'

Hmm. Maybe she'll help Tuvok through pon farr. That would be an unexpected twist, and we've been promised the unexpected. In addition to Brannon Braga's monotonous interviews promising new and exciting but as-yet-unnamed Surprising Things for Voyager, Rick Berman is once again giving his usual guarantees, this time to Entertainment Weekly. 'The question will be: 'What is the fate of Voyager?' I'm not telling, but the season is going to end in an unexpected way,' he said. At this point, Janeway's death would hardly be unexpected. But it would be shocking if she lived happily ever after. I'm pulling for the latter.

Trek Books: Star Trek: Rihannsu: Swordhunt & Honor Blade

In 1984 and 1987, Pocket Books published two novels about the Romulans, or Rihannsu, as author Diane Duane named them within their own culture. My Enemy, My Ally and The Romulan Way were both extremely popular with fans, but the Vulcan and Romulan storylines on Star Trek: The Next Generation removed Duane's novels from Trek canon by taking Romulan culture in a different direction from the detailed backstory created by Duane and fellow writer Peter Morwood. For many years the Rihannsu novels went out of circulation.

That was a pity, not only because Duane created a complex, vibrant culture of Rihannsu, but also because she's one of the finest Classic Trek fiction writers. Her leading triumvirate have all the warmth and humor of the captain, first officer and doctor in original series episodes like 'A Piece of the Action' and 'Bread and Circuses.' Also, she produces a brilliant Uhura who doesn't just open hailing frequencies, but asks questions about the messages and offers suggestions. You can tell these books veer from current series continuity when ships start traveling at Warp Eleven, yet readers remain fascinated in the rich Vulcan-Romulan joint history and culture, including an alien form of haiku and a sword that sounds more like a contemporary Klingon relic than an ancient Vulcan one.

Now the Rihannsu are back in two sequel volumes (plus the original pair, re-released at the bargain price of $3.99 each). The first, Swordhunt, focuses on the return of Ael, who has stolen the ancient Vulcan weapon that formerly rested in the Senate chamber on ch'Rihan (the planet the Federation calls 'Romulus'). With insurrection brewing on their own planets, the Empire determines to find Ael and the sword at any cost--even if it triggers war with the Federation, the Klingons or both. Because of Kirk's special relationship with the exiled commander, Kirk is sent to keep an eye on Ael's ship, Bloodwing, but everyone fears his loyalties may be split if Starfleet decides to turn her over to her enemies...everyone including Kirk, who knows that Ael's safety and the Federation's safety may depend on one another.

Honor Blade, the fourth Rihannsu novel, focuses around Romulan Senator and secret Federation spy Arrhae i-Khellian, who helped save McCoy's life in The Romulan Way yet refused to leave the alien empire she had come to love. A surprise representative to the last-ditch negotiations to try to avert war between the Federation and the Romulans, Arrhae finds herself a go-between among different factions in the Empire, and comes into information that could shatter both cultures if the wrong people discover it in time. While Kirk tries to protect Ael, whose name has become a rallying cry for Romulan insurgents, Arrhae struggles to balance her loyalties in a society where alliances shift at warp speed.

Ael and Arrhae are two of the most interesting women ever to inhabit the Trek universe. Though the Romulan term for personal honor, mnhei'sahe, cannot be explained adequately in Federation standard, they epitomize it. Both understand when it is necessary to allow private grudges to pass unanswered, and when one must feign sleeping with the enemy to protect one's friends. Despite their dire circumstances, both women have terrific senses of humor and a taste for irony. Asked to pass on potentially deadly material to McCoy to mislead the Federation, sexy Arrhae makes an ostentatious showing of dropping her scarf so that a Romulan intelligence officer will see the exchange but never suspect that Arrhae has hidden a secret of her own in the material. Later, she buries a coded message in a bottle of illicit blue ale and has a would-be-paramour convey it to the Enterprise.

The history and culture of the Rihannsu weave seamlessly into the plots. In the 1980s books, Kirk tries to stop the Romulans from harvesting Vulcan mind-control techniques and creating deadly ion storms with the help of brilliant, honorable Ael. Ael, who bears marked similarities to the Romulan commander from The Enterprise Incident (and turns out to be her aunt), notes that Rihannsu place a high value on the precise meanings of words, such as the term for honor. She asks why 'brotherhood' doesn't include females. Kirk explains that it means kinship. Ael insists that a word's true meaning is implicit in its structure, and presses the matter. Kirk admits he feels differently for his 'brothers' than he ever could for a woman, and the two end up flirting about male-female relations. In the newer books, Starfleet admirals consequently believe the two have become intimate--a rumor that serves both of their political interests as the Federation tries to avoid becoming involved in a Romulan war.

Fans of space battles and sci-fi tech will be delighted, for Ael is a first-rate tactician during an endgame with cloaked ships and deadly technology that can rip apart stars. She also has an impressive understanding of engineering, more than Kirk ever exhibited around Scotty. In addition to many familiar Rihannsu, Duane has brought back her character K's't'lk, one of the spider-like physicists from the author's 1983 novel The Wounded Sky. Because Kirk encourages Ael to meet with his officers in order to develop her confidence and trust in the Federation, the two alien women have a chance to bond, discuss space-warping engine modifications and do some plotting behind the captain's back.

Other familiar faces appear--for instance Ambassador Fox, best known for getting the Enterprise crew caught in the war between Eminiar and Vendikar, but now a respected negotiator. The easy banter between Kirk, Spock and McCoy continues from the first two Rihannsu novels, with McCoy scoring more zingers than usual and analyzing people based on their chess games. In My Enemy, My Ally, 'Spock made the gentle you-must-be-joking expression that Jim knew so well' during a debate. In Honor Blade, 'Spock gave Jim one of those 'you know better than that' looks' when Kirk asked whether the odds of a certain event were absolutely zero. Slash fans will be delighted when Kirk says he's going to hold Spock's hand if Spock keeps acting like a mother hen, and McCoy warns that people start the damndest rumors about crew romances even without provocation like that.

Let me warn that Book Four ends with the three dreaded words 'To be continued...' And there's no date for when we can expect the next installment. Again, it's not quite as bad as the end of the universe at the end of Deep Space Nine: Millennium's second volume, but the galaxy is on the brink of war and all our heroes are on the line--it's a cruel trick to play on readers! Despite that minor annoyance, the Rihannsu books are thoroughly enjoyable, with tense action sequences and many beloved characters in the sort of classic situation that made the original Trek series so influential. This is a series worth reading more than once.

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