June 12 2024


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Retro Review: The Killing Game, Part II

7 min read


While Janeway and Chakotay fight the Hirogen, Seven and the Doctor plot holographic insurgence against the Nazis.

Plot Summary: Janeway and Seven sneak into the astrometrics lab to figure out how many Hirogen control the ship. The alpha Hirogen refuses to kill the now-cognizant prey because they need help rebuilding the holodeck, though his underling disables the Doctor and orders other Hirogen to leave the prey dying where they fall. Meanwhile, in the Nazi simulation, Chakotay and Tuvok plot to bring down the German super-weapon and agree to follow Janeway-as-Katrine to disable the technology. Janeway sneaks herself and Chakotay into the Klingon holographic scenario and summons the Doctor, suggesting using holographic weapons to disable the neural implants in the real sickbay. Because the safeties have been disabled, the Hirogen can’t use holographic technology to protect his own people. Just as Janeway sets off the pulse that makes the crew remember their true identities, the Nazis take control of Katrine’s establishment, trapping Paris, Torres, Tuvok, and Seven inside. Although Janeway agrees to a truce with the Hirogen leader and promises to give him holographic technology to save his people, the Hirogen on the holodeck listen to the Nazi ideology of the Hauptsturmführer and refuses to lay down his weapons. He kills the alpha Hirogen and orders Janeway to start running like prey. Fortunately, the Doctor has enlisted Neelix to lead the holographic and crewmember Klingons into the fray, which slows the Hirogen. Though wounded, Janeway leads the Hirogen into an area where the holographic emitters are not functioning. When he refuses to stand down, she shoots him. While the Klingons hold off the Nazis, Harry overloads the holo-emitters, causing all the holographic Nazis to disappear. Now outnumbered, the Hirogen ultimately are forced to agree to a ceasefire. Janeway gives the new leader an optronic data core to create their own holographic prey or to keep as a trophy.

Analysis: “The Killing Game, Part II” is little more than a big action movie, but like the first part, it’s stylish and fast-paced, making it live up to its prequel in terms of the fun factor. Most of the cast get a chance to shine, too: Neelix gets to be a Klingon warrior, Kim for once gets to save the ship (a refreshing change from this season’s trend of always letting Seven save the ship). As much as I wish we’d gotten to see more of Katrine, I’m glad Janeway is herself both as a fighter and a negotiator, though I have some serious Prime Directive concerns about Janeway handing over holographic technology to a culture that lives to hunt and kill everyone else. Of course she thinks she’s doing the Delta Quadrant as well as the Hirogen a favor, giving them the capability to create artificial prey and stop losing their own members to dangerous hunts, and the idea initially came from a Hirogen leader, so it isn’t as if she’s forcing a change upon them. But just as Kirk discovered in “A Piece of the Action,” the Federation won’t always be around to control how this outside technology is used, so the Hirogen might well create not holographic prey but holographic lures and tricks for sentient prey. Given the new Hirogen commander’s skepticism about the value of the technology in the first place, I’m hoping the optronic data core Janeway turns over as a potential trophy is more a schematic than a working model, forcing the Hirogen to settle down a bit and develop their own science. There are probably Prime Directive issues even with that sort of interference, since it’s putting Federation values on a nomadic culture, but at least enough of them will survive to decide what sort of relations they want to have with other aliens in the region and the other aliens will have some time to protect themselves if necessary.

There’s one aspect of the scenario that really troubles me, and that’s Torres’s relationship with and pregnancy by a holographic Nazi. It’s never explained precisely how that works – does she have a holographic baby inside her, or is it all a trick of clothing and external holograms? Torres can feel it kicking even after her implant is turned off, which seems implausible – the Doctor had enough trouble giving Neelix holographic lungs within a very specific set of Sickbay parameters. Brigitte certainly believes that she is pregnant, she’s not pretending to be to manipulate the Hauptsturmführer – she tells Davis a.k.a. Paris as much – so are we to assume that Torres has implanted memories of sex with the baby’s father, which would constitute a sex crime even if she doesn’t remember it after the implant switches off? We know that she has no attachment either as Brigitte or as herself to the Hauptsturmführer, but Brigitte must have complicated emotions toward the child she’s carrying and we never learn how Torres feels about it beyond annoyance about the holographic weight gain. (Please tell me that someone has developed a program to allow men to experience holographic pregnancy by the 24th century.) I think it would be enormously traumatic to come out of mind control and find oneself pregnant, then to learn that an enemy is the purported father, even if the pregnancy is holographic and can be switched off with no physical suffering. If I were Torres, I would feel violated on an intimate level the same way Seven did when her Borg implants triggered memories of experiencing and witnessing abuses. Brigitte may have consented for the good of the Resistance, but no one ever asks her host Torres how she feels about any of it. The most we get is a throwaway moment in which Davis calls Brigitte’s holographic lover a pig, played for humor because all the way back in “The Cloud” when the characters visited Sandrine’s, Torres called one of Paris’ holograms a pig and added that Paris was one, too.

My other quarrel with the episode is also gender-related, when Captain Miller tells Katrine that the babes back home aren’t as gung-ho as she is. Five minutes of research about women on the home front before and during the second world war would have shown the writers how completely wrong they were about that – not just in fact but in public perception during the Depression and the lead-up to the war. I’ll put up with it, though, because it may just be Miller looking for a way to tell Katrine how hot he finds her. If it’s fun to see Paris and Torres flirt as ex-lovers who never quite got over each other, it’s even more fun to watch Chakotay developing a crush on Janeway even though he doesn’t know who she is, or who he is for that matter; he doesn’t appear to be at all interested in Seven even though she looks just as stunning in her black Resistance garb as she did in the slinky silver dress, and it’s understandable that Tuvok would think their Aryan poster girl might be a Nazi spy. Seven herself is entertaining when in trying to avoid having to sing for them, she warns the Hirogen that the Borg will eventually assimilate them. Meanwhile Chakotay and Paris have several nice moments together – the two of them should get more casual interaction when we’re not in an alternate reality, two humans familiar with Earth history sharing that common interest – and Paris manages to corner Kim while the former doesn’t remember who he really is but the latter does, using a 20th century movie trivia question to make sure Kim is genuinely sympathetic to the Americans, which we can believe Kim could actually pass because we saw Kim giving Torres a movie trivia quiz to keep her distracted from an injury in “The Year of Hell.” I also must admit that I really love watching Klingons beat up Nazis. For that scene alone, this action story would be a keeper.

This is going to be my last retro review, at least for a while. TrekToday is undergoing some changes and after more than a decade and a half of reviewing here, I’m not sure when I’ll be back. It’s been a lot of fun experiencing Voyager all over again; it’s never going to feel like those giddy first weeks two decades ago when I fell in love with the show, but with some distance, I can really appreciate elements I ignored or disliked on a first viewing, especially all that Jeri Ryan contributed – she never let up the level of intensity she brought to Seven of Nine. If you’re ever looking for me, I’m littlereview all over social media. Live long and prosper.

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