Sacred Ground (*½)
For an episode about learning to let go of science, there sure was a lot of technobabble going on here.
I am a skeptical atheist and I don't see any reason to believe in supernatural entities, but I'm not too bothered if a work of fiction goes beyond the realm of scientific understanding if it does so in an interesting way. I don't need a scientific explanation for most things in Star Trek, especially not when the scientific explanation is just a bunch of futuristic sounding words stuck together in a sentence which makes no sense.
The whole episode beats you over the head with the idea that science can't explain everything and that sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith, and I'm okay with that, it is something which I have felt for some time now. So my big problem with this episode is that Shmullus gives a scientific explanation at the end which apparently makes perfect sense. Why? That is like spending a day training a dog not to jump up on the furniture, and once he finally learned his lesson you pat your hand on the couch and tell him to jump up. It is a cop-out of an ending which suggests to me that the writer of the episode feared they couldn't pull off what the whole episode had been about.
My other big problem is that Janeway didn't come to her conclusion on her own, she needed it spelled out to her by Statler and Waldorf and Kia Winn's sister. For this story to work she needed to come to the conclusion on her own, having it explained to her damages the episode.
This also feels very much like a TNG episode, and even though it focuses on Janeway I don't think it explored her personality enough that this episode couldn't have been about Picard on the Enterprise. It is a tough call to make, it is right on the borderline, but I eventually decided to dock it half a star.
Note about the situation with Shmullus: I said after The Swarm
that I would be docking marks if future episodes did not explain what happened to him. I have not taken away any marks for that yet because Some of you said that there would be a reference to that in Future's End
, so I am waiting to see what happens in those episodes. If I don't find the follow-up to be satisfactory then I will dock half a star from Future's End