I complained a lot about one thing in my Star Trek: Voyager reviews. No, I’m not talking about Kate Mulgrew’s acting. Nor am I talking about the fact that the Delta Quadrant is too similar to the Alpha Quadrant. I am referring to the terrible new Hawaiian holodeck program (see for instance what I wrote in my Macrocosm review).
This is just to say that I’ve been clear about this since the beginning. So what can I think of an episode, Alter Ego, which takes place almost entirely in that holographic program? And which, once again, uses some old ideas already developed in The Next Generation, openly citing the Enterprise D as a precedent in fact! There’s nothing particularly positive I can say, you understand. Surprisingly, given this premise, the episode is not even that terrible, even if it’s far from the best moments of the series!
The USS Voyager arrives in front of a phenomenon so far known almost only at a theoretical level and stops to study it for a while. By the way, what happened to the splendid and menacing Nekrit Expanse seen in the Fair Trade episode? Sorry, I’m digressing as my usual.
In short, the story begins with Harry Kim who asks Tuvok for help because he fell in love with a holographic girl from the Hawaiian program, Marayna (played by a typical American beauty of the 90s, Sandra Nelson). Not the best of premises. Ok, it also happened to the good Geordi LaForge in the third season of The Next Generation (Booby Trap) but that was something else! And has Harry already forgotten poor Libby seen in Non Sequitur?
In any case, and get ready for weird twists and turns, the idea is that instead of solving the problem, Tuvok makes it worse by semi-falling in love with the beautiful girl. Which then takes command of the ship as in Elementary, Dear Data (The Next Generation’s second season, so original!), something which in the meantime has become a case study at Starfleet Academy. Except that in reality this time the entity is not a simple hologram, but an alien who feels alone on a space station and who tries to convince Tuvok to stay with her. Attempt failed, the voyage continues, end of the episode.
No, this is not one of my favorites. I hope that at least it’s the end of the Hawaiian cycle because I find it unbearable! However, as mentioned, Alter Ego also offers some interesting ideas. For example, a space station with a single bored occupant who spends the time exploring nearby vessels is intriguing, and the writers’ desire to develop a relationship between Harry Kim and Tuvok is commendable. And the “competition” for Marayna is the occasion for some funny scenes. Finally, Tim Russ is confirmed as a splendid choice to play the Vulcan Tuvok, he’s up there with Leonard Nimoy’s Spock as far as I’m concerned! To conclude, Alter Ego is sometimes funny, but a little too derivative, and with far too much Hawaii in it for my taste. Ciao!
PS: the director of this episode is Robert Picardo, that is the EMH, who continues the Star Trek tradition of giving its actors the opportunity to develop a directing career!
PPS: The Delta Flyers podcast shout out: Garrett Wong and Robert Duncan McNeill laughed a lot at imagining themselves using typical Vulcan phrases from the episode in everyday situations. For example, if someone tries to make unwanted advances, you could reply with: “I’m sorry but any attempt of generating any intimacy between us will not be successful”.
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