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Friendship One

By AntonyF
Posted at April 28, 2001 - 9:53 PM GMT

'Friendship One' - copyright Paramount Pictures Rating: 7/10
Episode: #267
Written By: Michael Taylor & Bryan Fuller
Directed By: Mike Vejar

Oh dear. Did anyone else think "red shirt" when they saw Carey? A character doesnít just reappear after six years (flashback episodes notwithstanding) just for the sake of it. My main reaction was "red shirt", that he was back just to be killed. But then I thought to myself that that would be stupid. The writers arenít so corny and incompetent to bring back a character six years later just to kill him, that would be too obvious. I decided that it was maybe more likely that heíd stay with the aliens or something; perhaps act as some sort of ambassador. Oh dear. How wrong could I be?

Starting at the beginning, it was once again a short and not too exciting teaser. With the teaser done with, the story started to unfold. We were treated to a scene between Janeway and an Admiral at Starfleet, where he sucked up to her big time! Sheís made more first contact than any captain since Kirk, according to him. Again with the namedropping. What Janeway doesnít explain is that first contact with her is often a phaser firefight, rather than a meaningful first contact between two species. The crew were then given their first official assignment by Starfleet Command, which is no doubt trying to find any way to delay the return of this troublesome ship.

The mission is of course to find out what happened to Friendship One. It was nice to see a story that dealt with the actions of Earthís early days, and not Starfleet-related matters. I always find Voyagerís quest for Earth rather false, because the ship contains many aliens. But this was one story that could justifiably be about Earth.

The message of this episode was of course about the Prime Directive, and how vital it is. We know this, but never before has it been so well illustrated. Interfering with other cultures has always been a taboo, because it would be bad. But this actually showed us those repercussions.

The away team is assembled, but not without a dose of Tom Paris arrogance. "Youíre gonna need your best pilot," he says with his usual modesty. It was good to see a more varied away team though, including Chakotay and Neelix. Itís good to see Chakotay get at least something to do, and for Neelix to be out and about again.

Down on the planet, the interactions between Paris, Neelix, Carey and the aliens are sometimes formulaic, but sometimes insightful. The attempts of the crew to get the aliens to trust them are pretty predictable. Heal the ill, speak to the children, give to the needy yada yada. And you can almost see little gauges over their heads on how pro-Voyager they are, so you can have those who trust the strangers as opposition to those who donít, i.e. the head madman himself.

It was thinking it would have been nice to have a bit more conflict between Neelix and the Federation crew. I know that he knows the Voyager crew are the good guys, but a bit of outsider perspective on the action of the Humans would have been good. Then we did actually get a bit of that outsider view, when Neelix spoke to the head madman. Iím not sure how much of what he said was true; heís never voiced opinions on Human arrogance before. I feel he may have been lying to get on the side of the madman, maybe he wasnít. It was good to hear of Neelixís history, and it tied in well as he was the one who could justifiably sympathize with these aliens.

On board the ship, Sevenís Nanoprobes are going to fix the alien. Nanoprobes. As I said in a previous review, itís always, always nanoprobes. Geeze. But not happy with Tomís arrogance earlier, Seven had to have a go now. Sheís the only one of her kind on board apparently, and ďunique.Ē Has Icheb left the ship, have I missed that?

Then came the Carey death, as mentioned above. When the head madman apologized to Carey, I feared for the worst and got it. What utter, utter crap to do this to him. If I were Josh Clark, Iíd feel insulted. I always liked Carey, what we saw of him. He was the sort of Chief OíBrien of the Voyager crew. No airs, a family man, and just an all round nice guy. He even had to mention his wife, to add some meaning to his existence before he perished, and to obviously to get us to care and add poignancy to his death. I cared, but many wouldnít, as heís been gone SIX years. His return was just so unbelievably contrived.

But at least the Doctor fought valiantly to save his life. "Heís dead Jim," sums it up. Where was the valiant attempt for his life, the resuscitation etc? The lack of any fight to save his life just made his death all the more meaningless. I even thought it was some trickÖ that the Doc saved him in scenes we didnít see, and they were keeping his recovery secret for some reason that would be revealed. But I was wrong on that too! But, I canít help but feel this death wasnít for himÖ.

This may have no basis of truth whatsoever, itís just conjecture. But I felt this death was meant for a main character, perhaps Harry Kim, and then perhaps vetoed. Itís near the end of the show; a tragic, senseless death would sadden the crew and the viewers. It would have added sadness due to them being closer to home, and would have made that decision all the tougher for Janeway. She didnít want to help them because the head madman killed a member of her crew. Not only has she never been overly bothered by the little people before, the fact we havenít seen Carey for six years also means it lacks any substance. But a main character, can you imagine the dilemma after one of her closest friends being killed? It would have given her the dilemma of a lifetime, but that wasnít to be. So if this wasnít originally meant for a main character, it should have been written as so. The show is ending; just kill off a main character I say! And that would not only have been a bold step, but would have made the episode so much better.

Moving towards the end of the episode, all is of course well for the inhabitants. And that was nice, seeing Voyager repair the damage caused by Humans many years ago. It was a nice ending, where the years of suffering couldnít be undone, but at least they could make amends. We had to end on one final contrived scene though. Many people probably donít care about Carey, and Janeway wallowing like heís some close friend was just stupid. I know every single crewmemberís death should affect her, but that just isnít the case, contrary to what weíre led to believe.

Overall, this was a nice episode. It was insightful, well written, and it not only showed us about a disastrous mistake by Earth, but also that mistake being rectified by a Starfleet shipÖ a ship that wouldnít have been created it Earth hadnít learned and progressed. But the Carey factor was just purely hideous, and sadly dragged down what could have been a better episode. It was yet another slap in the face for Voyager viewers, and insults our intelligence once again. I donít know about you, but Iím going to need surgery on my face after this show has ended. 7/10

Next week: Seven and Chuckles are stranded on a planet that will no doubt comprise of those same old jungle sets. Iíve read the script, and it ainít pretty.

This is the second in a series of special guest reviews AntonyF is writing of Voyager's 'Final Chapter'. Check back here soon for his review of 'Friendship One', the Voyager episode airing tonight.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

AntonyF is a freelance writer and interviewer, who will be known to some for running Star Trek Central until recently. He recently set up a new website, B5LR.com, dedicated to Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers.

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