April 24 2024


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Retro Review: Resistance

6 min read
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On a mission to find critical supplies, Janeway is protected by a man who mistakes her for his daughter.

Plot Summary: Janeway leads an away team so that Neelix can make an illicit purchase of the vital element tellerium, without which Voyager’s warp drive will cease to function. Before they can return to the ship, the team is attacked, and Janeway is shot while Torres and Tuvok are taken into custody. Once the tellerium is secured, Chakotay consults with Neelix about retrieving the others. Neelix warns that the Mokra who dominate the planet are paranoid and suspicious. The magistrate Augris is reluctant to assist Chakotay unless Voyager will provide the names of Alsaurian Resistance fighters who helped the crew obtain the tellerium, which the Mokra assume they want to use to make weapons. On the planet, Torres and Tuvok are tortured for information while Janeway wakes in the home of Caylem, an old man who calls her by his daughter’s name. Caylem believes that Ralkana has come home to help him rescue her mother, a onetime Resistance fighter taken prisoner by the Mokra. Realizing that she will never convince Caylem that she isn’t Ralkana, Janeway instead questions him about Mokra security measures and asks for help contacting the Resistance. They arrange a meeting with a sympathizer, but when he arrives wearing military boots, Janeway persuades Caylem to flee. In order to get inside the prison, Janeway pretends to be a prostitute, then attacks the guards with Caylem’s help and brings down the prison shields. Though Voyager is under fire, Chakotay beams down Paris to try to locate the missing away team. But Augris tracks down Janeway and Caylem first, telling Janeway that Caylem’s wife was killed years earlier and that Ralkana died trying to rescue the mother whom Caylem failed to save. Caylem dives at Augris, stabbing him just as Caylem is shot by a guard who in turn is shot by Tuvok. Janeway pretends to be Ralkana while Caylem dies in her arms, believing that he has rescued his family. Back safely on Voyager, where Kim has restored the engines, Janeway mourns Caylem’s sacrifice.

Analysis: “Resistance” is without a doubt one of the second season’s stronger offerings: it’s beautifully designed and directed, well-acted by the main cast and guest star Joel Grey, with a balanced script that gives nearly all the regulars something substantial to do. Yet because there are no consequences to the events of the story either in terms of the ship’s mission or in terms of the characters, it’s proven to be a forgettable episode, which is sad. This is a rare instance in which we see Janeway playing a role other than captain, and she’s far more enthralling to watch pretending to be Ralkana – a gritty freedom fighter and devoted daughter – than she’ll ever be playing nanny on the holodeck. We get to see her be resourceful and manipulative in ways she’d never allow herself as the captain. It’s clear that she doesn’t want to risk undue interference on the planet and she really doesn’t like lying to Caylem, though he deceives himself far more than she deceives him, and in the end she concludes that it’s a kindness to let him believe he’s triumphed over the tyranny of his world in the only way that matters to him. Although I’m never thrilled to see a female character reduced to using sex to get what she wants – are we expected to believe that that’s standard behavior on developed worlds all over the galaxy, professional men leaving their posts to play hide-the-twinkie while women take advantage of their stupidity? – I appreciate getting to see how Janeway plays the game, not coy or seductive but straightforward and willful. I’m inclined to think she wouldn’t choose that particular tactic around any junior crewmembers, perhaps not even with Tuvok or Chakotay as witnesses, since she’s so reluctant to show any hint of sexuality in front of her subordinates. So although I can’t help thinking that Picard would never have pretended to offer himself to someone whose position he found despicable, like a corrupt prison guard, it’s enjoyable to see the choices Janeway makes here.

But I have a lot of “buts” that I didn’t have the first time “Resistance” aired. Last week I was complaining about the extremes to which Janeway has taken the non-interference directive when it comes to the Kazon, refusing to trade with any sects for an alliance because she might disrupt the balance of power among them. Here we see a spacefaring society with a dominant culture, the Mokra, and a resistance group, the Alsaurians, so they’re similar on the surface to the Sikarians from “Prime Factors” – another situation in which Janeway refused to risk strengthening the faction that wanted to help Voyager’s crew because it might represent a threat to the dominant order. The crew appears to have hidden from the Mokra, initiated contact with the Alsaurians, entered into trade with people who are not only dissidents but criminals…and by the time Voyager has left, a magistrate has been assassinated and the prison is in chaos. Voyager’s visit may be the spark that sets off a revolution, and although it looks on the surface like that would be a good thing for this society, it’s a massive shift in what appears to be a thriving culture. We never hear one word about how Janeway has rationalized this apart from her ship’s urgent need for a working engine. Knowing what we now know about Janeway from the rest of the series and from Jeri Taylor’s unofficial yet largely canonical history in Mosaic, there are personal details that might explain her decisions – her close relationship with her father and the fact that she blames herself for his loss particularly may influence how she interacts with Caylem and why she doesn’t distance herself from him sooner. But we get no dialogue tying Janeway’s actions and feelings in “Resistance” to her background or her mission. She may be sad when she looks at Caylem’s wife’s necklace at the end of the episode, yet this isn’t like Picard’s Ressikan flute at the end of “The Inner Light” staying with her as a reminder; as far as we can tell, she puts this entire incident out of her mind.

The rest of the crew also has a fine outing that unfortunately appears to have little effect on their ongoing situation. For once Neelix is entirely correct in his assessment of an alien civilization, and he’s the one member of the away team who carries out his mission perfectly. With Torres and Tuvok both off the ship, it’s Kim rather than Carey or a Maquis tech to whom Chakotay turns for engineering and tactical advice, and Kim acquits himself extremely well, both fixing the engine and developing a strategy to break the away team out of prison. Tuvok has a rare moment of vulnerability after being tortured yet he behaves like the Academy instructor he used to be when questioned by Torres, continuing to suggest that she rely on logic and resist using violence that won’t help either of them. Though she smacks her hand into a wall and tries to bend metal bars with her bare hands, Torres seems seriously to be pondering the advantages of Tuvok’s approach over her own. Still, I’m glad she wants to fight when Chakotay seems so unwilling to do so even after the Mokra start shooting at Voyager. The sci-fi stereotype is that women want to negotiate while men prove their manhood by being warriors, so as sick as I am of Klingons being Klingons, it’s more interesting watching Torres struggle with questions about such behavior, not because she’s female but because she’s half-human and all-Starfleet now. I’m going to chalk up Chakotay’s seeming passivity to wanting to be sure he’s doing what Janeway would want him to do while in command after all his bad behavior with Seska and the Kazon. There’s one more element that could have been used to tie this episode into larger storylines. “Resistance” is a perfectly fine package on its own, and a pleasure to watch, with its humor and pathos, but it falls short of greatness simply because there’s no reason to keep thinking about it two minutes after it ends.

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3 thoughts on “Retro Review: Resistance

  1. I always found this one of the weaker episodes… I think partially as it was throwaway as you indicate and the other is I never liked like Joel Grey and his character that much. Liked him in other stuff, but in this the ‘innocent simpleton’ was just too obvious in the face of ‘evil military people’.

  2. I remember the first time I saw this episode even now. In spite of a cliched premise, The cast do a fine job in trying to bring little extra details to their performances – even Paris’s “You’ll have to teach me how to do that” re Tuvok’s use of the neck pinch, and Neelix’s harried concern that things have gone wrong, instead of making him an irritating immature clown. Joel Gray is wonderful as the tragic Caylem and gives a memorable solid performance alongside Kate Mulgrew. The scene where Calyem deliberately plays the fool to create a distraction is heartbreaking. nnIt reflects on how few stories with sharp writing and performances there are in this series, through no fault of the actors. Only Kirkwood Smith will give as memorable a solo performance as Joel Gray, full of pathos in season 4’s Year Of Hell as Annorex, followed by the sense of blame, pain and sorrow of the ex Borg trio seen in Season 6’s Survival Instinct. Actors Vaughan Armstrong, Bertila Damas and Tim Keheller are all brilliant at playing such different characters, who all react in different ways to their situation, yet work well as a team. Not that those episodes had any ongoing impact either, except in the minds of us in the audience.nnVoyager worked best when it focused on those character moments almost emulating DS9 to a diluted degree. There are far too few of them and it shows.nn Of course the tragic aspect is nothing from Resistance has any consequence In the long run. In between the boring Kazon episodes, we get these little reminders of what the show was capable of, had there been some solid, intelligent writing and narrative structure at work. Instead especially as of season 4, it went A B and C = 1) Anomaly of the week, 2) Borg overload and 3) Crazy Characterisation in equal unfortunate measure.

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