i don't understand why sci-fi fans have a problem with technobabble. while much of it is BS, there is quite a lot of it that is grounded in sound physics theory. i love it that they try to give some explanation and not just say, "that thing is busted and i need something to fix it."
Okay, read this:
EMH: Ah yes, the mechanical man. Kes told me about it. Fascinating.
TORRES: He's about to die.
TORRES: Die, stop functioning, whatever, unless I can figure out a way to sustain his main energy source.
EMH: What kind of energy source are we talking about?
TORRES: It's some sort of chromo-dynamic module powered by a tri-polymer plasma, but the plasma is contaminated. It's decaying.
EMH: Hmm. Like diseased blood.
TORRES: Right. It can't retain enough energy to keep the module running.
EMH: Have you considered a transfusion?
TORRES: You mean replacing the plasma itself? Well that was one of my first ideas, but where do I get my hands on a polymer plasma composed of elements I didn't even know existed twenty four hours ago?
EMH: Aren't Voyager's engines powered by warp plasma?
TORRES: It's a very different substance. Too highly charged. It would burn out the robot's systems in seconds. It would be like trying to give a Bolian a blood transfusion from a Vulcan.
EMH: Which ordinarily would kill the unfortunate Bolian, but there have been instances when artificial blood was unavailable and existing blood cells were genetically altered for inter-species transfusions.
TORRES: It's a good idea, but warp plasma radiates at too high a frequency to alter electro-chemically. Unless.
EMH: Go on.
TORRES: I could modify a series of anodyne relays, attach them directly to the robots power module. They could act as a sort of regulator to make the warp plasma compatible with the robot's energy matrix!
EMH: That's exactly what I was going to suggest.
That took up two minutes on screen. It is nonsense for the most part, if I tried to follow these instructions I would not be able to build myself a robot. It has no dramatic purpose, it is there to fill time. The next scene:
TORRES: That's the last of the relays.
KIM: Plasma injector is sealed.
JANEWAY: This is your show, Lieutenant. Whenever you're ready.
TORRES: Activating the relays. All right Harry, start the infusion. Twenty percent nominal flow.
KIM: Initiating plasma flow.
TORRES: Energy levels are up fourteen percent.
JANEWAY: The relays are holding.
TORRES: Harry, give it a little more juice.
KIM: Got it. I'm taking it to thirty percent. Thirty-five percent.
TORRES: Wait, the energy levels are rising too fast. We're going to burn out it's systems.
KIM: But it needs more plasma.
JANEWAY: What about increasing the capacitance of the relays?
TORRES: Let's give it a try. It's stabilising. Hold the flow right there. Let's see what happens. The plasma is circulating. The programming centre is activated. I think we may have done it.
Why not just have B'Elanna perform the procedure and have it work? Why waste time telling me that energy levels are building up too quickly and they need to increase the capacitance? It was another minute and a half of wasted screen time which should have been used to do something more interesting about B'Elanna and why she feels the need to reactivate the robot. We could have had a nice scene where she realises that she feels a bit like a doctor and that she wants to help out an injured patient, instead we had time wasted on technobabble.
Technobabble is fine in small doses, excessive technobabble is toxic to my patience.
This episode suffers one major problem; it tried to do too much in just one episode. In one episode Voyager is beaten to hell by the Kazon, unrest amongst the crew grows, Janeway decides to make an alliance with the Kazon, they meet with Cullah to no avail, Neelix gets captured by the Kazon, he meets the Trabe, he escapes with the Trabe, we learn all about the Trabe, we learn all about the Kazon's past, Janeway decides to ally with the Trabe, the Trabe decide to hold a peace conference, Cullah decides to use the peace conference to somehow take control of all the Kazon, the Trabe attack the conference to kill the Kazon leadership, Voyager finds herself in a worse situation than at the beginning of the episode.
There is a lot of plot here and much of it is very important. This is the back-story to the Kazon which we have needed since the show began but the whole episode feels so rushed that we can't absorb it correctly. This really should have been spread out into a two part episode because the story is good enough to deserve more time. Things have to move very quickly by the end of the episode, and the speed at which Seska convinces Cullah to go to the conference makes Cullah look like a simple-minded fool.
What I like about this episode is that it finally starts to use the potential of this show's premise. Voyager is in real danger, the Maquis begin to dispute Janeway's decision making, Janeway has to start being less obtuse when it comes to the Prime Directive. This is all good stuff and it makes for a very good first act. I also like how they end the show with Voyager fleeing for their lives and how they are discussing how far they will be able to get without restocking on essential supplies. This is a very exciting ending that could only have been made better if it hadn't felt so rushed.
Then Janeway makes a speech. Oh boy.
Janeway got completely the wrong message from the events in this episode, at least in my opinion. She says that these events shows how they must stick to their principles at all costs, but the fact is that she didn't really abandon her principles at all and now the ship finds itself in greater danger. I'm not saying that she should have given a speech about how they are going to abandon their principles, I'm saying that there shouldn't have been a speech at all because the speech we got didn't seem to gel with what happened in this episode at all.
A good episode overall, I just wish it had taken more time and not tacked on that speech to the end.