Nathan Edward Williams

This was my first full-fledged review. I submitted it to The Agony Booth, but they freaking hated it. I admit this was perhaps not the best episode to pick to rip apart, but it was the first one from Voyager that I absolutely hated. I realize that it isn't meant to be Shakespeare, and apparently there are far worse episodes from later seasons, long after I gave up on the show. Originally I was just going to delete it from my website and forget about it, but I still think there's a fair amount of humor to be found here, so I've corrected the errors I made in the draft I sent to them, and I hope you like it. If not, well, I'll try to be funnier next time! (I think that might be Bob Saget's motto)

Star Trek: Voyager
Future's End, Part I
Original Airdate: 1996-11-06

Oh, my freaking gods, I had no idea how hard it was to do these! It helps to be reviewing something truly awful, and gods know I hated this episode. It makes it all worthwhile, though, when I think of the smiling children who now get to read this review and know how much the producer needed to be shot for greenlighting this steaming pile.

In any case, while Future's End might not be as bad as And the Children Shall Lead, it's pretty bad. I find it ironic that these episodes took place during Voyager's third season, since so many bad episodes from the original Star Trek's "Turd" season. Voyager's third season certainly didn't get off to a good start, but I really liked some of the later episodes.

The episode isn't entirely crap, though, and if nothing else, seeing Tuvok (Tim Russ) in a do-rag is almost enough to redeem the whole thing. It reminds me of a time when I saw Tim Russ at StarFest a few years back (yes, I'm THAT kind of geek). He said that while he has done a lot of work on a lot of different films, TV shows, and even stage productions, the role he is most remembered for is from Spaceballs. You might not remember him off the top of your head, but I'll give you a hint: he only says four words. Yes, he was the black "ball" that said the immortal words "We ain't found shit!"

So, on to the review!

As the original series was wont to do, since they had a exceedingly small budget, this episode has Voyager traveling back through time to the twentieth century. And, just like Kirk was likely to find himself in the 1960s (and later, the 80s), Voyager just happens to travel back to 1996, and not just anywhere on earth, but Los Angeles. I mean, what are the chances?! This way, they only have to build a few small sets, and the rest can be shot on location.

Purdy, ain't it?

"Every rose has it's thorn..."

We open with a lovely shot of the sky in the mountains just after sundown. The caption tells us "Earth, High Sierras, 1967." A man with a rose tattoo on his left forearm is sitting by a campfire, and turns on his radio. He then starts tapping on his pots along with the music. At first I would have sworn he was René Auberjonois (who played Odo on Deep Space Nine) in a cameo role, but this is actually the villain of this two-part episode. His name is Henry Starling, played rather stiffly by Ed Begley Jr. We'll learn later on that this villain has the "Informed Attribute" of being a genius, even though he doesn't really show it, especially not in this scene. And while his best work was probably with Christopher Guest, here he seems mainly to be trying to squeeze in as much goofy mugging as humanly possible.

Here, tell me I'm wrong:

The main thing to notice is that while thirty years pass between this scene and when we next see him, he looks exactly the same (except, of course, for the haircut). Couldn't they have at least tried to make him look younger? Or hired a younger look-alike? Was the budget that freaking low for this episode? I guess at the very least I should be happy the episode doesn't involve aliens 70,000 light years from Earth that look exactly like humans.

Anyhoo, *steps off soapbox for now*, back to the train wreck. Henry’s radio gets staticy, and lo and behold, a UFO zooms by overhead. Of course, we don't actually get to see this. We just get to see a strobe light move by off-screen. In a true Ed Wood moment, the light bulb actually dips into frame as it goes by. His response to this amazing strobe light is "Far out!" Yup, we must be in the sixties!

Go toward the light!

After the opening credits, we are back in the 24th century, and Captain Janeway is practicing her tennis serve. Tuvok comes in to give her the results of his monthly security evaluation, but no time for that now, we've gone to red alert, and Janeway is called to the bridge!

A "Spatial Rift" has opened right in front of Voyager. It's a "Distortion in the Space-Time continuum" with a "Graviton Matrix." In other words, they've encountered a smurf that smurfs smurfy smurfs. It's amazing how many of these plot devices, I mean time portals/rifts/distortions they manage to encounter on this show.

The plot device is preventing their sensors from seeing inside, but Harry still says it's being artificially generated. How in the hell could he know that? I have no idea.

Uh, sir, we appear to already be circling the drain.

A small Federation ship, with a lone human piloting it, comes through and starts wailing on them with a "Subatomic Disruptor" that knocks out their shields and helm control within two seconds. They return fire, but phasers have no effect, and "Voyager's molecular structure is coming apart!" You know, for most people, when their molecular structure starts to come apart, they feel pain, or maybe get distorted, or something, but no one on the ship, and not even the ship itself gives any indication this is happening.

Fear not, though, Chakotay thinks quickly and realizes that an unknown weapon from five hundred years in the future could probably be cancelled out by a "High-Energy Poloron pulse" from the Main Deflector Dish. This turns out to be effective enough to not only stop Voyager's molecular structure from coming apart, but also neutralizes the enemy's weapon (and ultimately disables his ship!). Wow, I wish I could pull miracles like that from my ass! I mean, since the ship is five hundred years more advanced than Voyager, it seems to be like someone in an F-14 being attacked by Voyager, and the F-14 pilot saying, "You know, an inverse Tachyon pulse emitted from my port engine, and calibrated to Voyager's dilithium harmonics might just neutralize their photon torpedoes! (Yeah, I thought it was bullshit, too)

You see, lighting him from below makes him seem scarier.

The enemy ships hails them, and we learn it's Captain Braxton in the "Federation Timeship Æon." He's come from "29th century Earth, five hundred years in [Voyager's] future." Well, thank you Captain Obvious! You mean to say that the 29th century is five centuries in the future for the 24th century? And that your "Timeship" is a ship that travels through time?

He then tells them that Voyager is somehow responsible for a "Temporal Explosion" in the future that destroys Earth's entire solar system. His solution was to come back to the 24th century to destroy Voyager, and says, "You must not resist!" Now, leaving aside all the paradox questions I'm sure we'll be raising before all this is over, why the hell would Braxton expect Voyager to just roll over and die? I don't know about you, but if someone is trying to kill me, even if they tell me it's the only way to save the solar system, I'd try to kill them right back! When the chips are down, resistance might be futile, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to resist. I sincerely wish this was the last we'd see of stupidity in this episode, but alas...

Janeway says she needs more information, but Braxton says there's "No time!"


Now, stay with me on this one: he's in a Time Machine from five hundred years in the future. I'd say he's got plenty of time!

Into the fire she swallowed their hate.

He starts pounding on them with his Whatever Ray, remodulating the thingamabobs to counteract their whatsit. They respond by turning on their Miracle Enhancer™ and manage to not only knock out his Whatever Ray, but disable his ship! Braxton gets pulled back into the Temporal Distortion, and Voyager is drawn in as well.

They wake up orbiting Earth. Kim says that astrometric readings put the year as 1996. Chakotay puts on the Captain Obvious hat, and says "the late twentieth century!"

Holy shit, Captain, we're home!

They find a sub-space signature on the planet's surface that could be the "Timeship." Janeway decides to pull a Captain Kirk and take the entire bridge crew as the away team. No, I'm not kidding. She takes Chakotay, Paris, and Tuvok. This leaves Ensign Kim in charge. Yes, I agree that the best thing to do to keep your ship safe four hundred years in the past is leave it in the hands the lowest-ranking officer on the ship! Couldn't she at least have asked B’Elanna to come up and baby-sit? I mean, B’Elanna comes up to the bridge to help him anyway (after all, he's the only one left!), so why should she have to take orders from him?

Since Paris is a fan of the twentieth century, and therefore the closest thing they have to an expert, Janeway asks him what they need to blend in. He replies, "Nice clothes, a fast car, and lots of money!" I only point this out because later on it becomes obvious that they didn't replicate any money.

We cut to Los Angeles, circa 1996. We have a rollerblader, check. A guy in bleached cutoff jeans sporting a Mohawk, check. Chick sitting Indian-style playing a guitar, check. Guy in baggy jeans and a wife-beater, Check. Aaaannnd Hip-hop music in the background, check. Boy, that takes me back.

There's also one guy that looks so completely stupid (which, from what I remember of 1996, might actually be the most authentic), I just have to point him out. He's our rollerblader. He's not only carrying a boom box looped around his neck on a rainbow-colored strap, he also has (I shit you not) a pair of computer speakers strapped to either side of his head! I guess when you can't find a large enough pair of headphones, you try to outdo the kid at the beginning of The Towering Inferno (1974).

¿Quien Es Mas Macho?
¿Señor Lamas?

¿O Señor Montalbán?

Wait, wait, we might have a winner! At the end of the crane shot, we have a guy on stilts, wearing flag-themed pants and a top hat, displaying a sign for "Uncle Sam's Psychic Readings." Weren't the 90s nutty?

Four score and seven terrible episodes ago...

Tuvok is looking for the best candidate in which to bust a cap.

The away team decides to split up. Chakotay and Janeway go in one direction, while Tuvok and Paris go the other. Janeway tells us that after an Earthquake in 2047, California falls into the sea and becomes a giant coral reef, home to "thousands of different marine species." A couple walks past sporting tattoos (the male is our Mohawk from before), and Chakotay comments that there are "some...interesting species in this century." It strikes me as a rather odd comment coming from a man sporting a facial tattoo, especially considering all the freakish aliens they encounter on a daily basis, but whatever.

I know there's a better script in here somewhere!

Janeway and Chakotay find that the subspace readings are coming from an old bum (bum, bum, buummmm! - sorry, wrong show). We'll later learn that this is Captain Braxton, whose been living here since his ship crashed in the 60s (remember our prelude?). I find it interesting that a human being would still exhibit a "subspace signature" after 30 years of being separated from his ship. Does this mean that Chakotay and Janeway are also giving off a "subspace signature?" You'd think that would make them sterile, but as we already know, not even mutating into a giant salamander can render Janeway barren.

Dude, where's my bra?

We cut to the Griffith Observatory, where we encounter Rain Robinson (played by Sarah Silverman), who is monitoring a computer that's part of SETI, I think. Her computer starts beeping when it picks up Voyager, and she's like, "No way." After her computer shows her a graphic of the signal's source orbiting the Earth, she's totally like, "Way." (when I first wrote this review, I pointed out how she was using a "Crapintosh" since everyone on TV and in movies uses Macs, even though pretty much everyone else in the world uses PCs. I've since gained a respect and love for the Mac OS, even if it did kinda suck before OS X. Granted, so have most versions of Windows. Maybe every OS really does suck.)

We now return to our "Villain," Henry. Henry is telling a vendor that the chip they've designed is crap: "the component density is too low, the voltage variance is out of spec, and I don't even like the color." (it's a black chip, by the way, that looks more like an 8086 than a Pentium) He wonders how they can hope to ship the new "Hyper-Pro PC" in less than six months with such a crappy chip.

I get the feeling there's something important about that map.

At the end of the meeting, Henry gets a call from Rain telling him she's found Voyager in orbit. She's anxious to tell NASA and the press and such, but our Eeeevil vilain is worried that the future has finally caught up with him. See, at the end of this exchange we see that he has the same tattoo as the hippie in the prologue. And like your average hippie, when a ship from 900 years in the future crashed next to his campsite, he did what any one of us would have done and reverse engineered all the technology from the damaged vessel to pioneer the computer revolution. I know he's supposed to be a genius and all (even if we don't really see any evidence of his superior intellect onscreen), but I imagine even Einstein or Tesla would barely be able to make heads or tails of such a find.

Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song...

Just for comparison, imagine if you showed someone in 1910 a computer from 1980. Such a machine is pretty low-tech by today's standards, but in 1910 they didn't have TVs, transistors, or any of the computer components we take for granted. They would have absolutely no way of manufacturing even a primitive computer using technology available to them, even assuming they could divine anything from examining its parts. That's only a gap of 70 years. This episode wants us to believe that 900 years of technological advancement would be no problem to decipher!

Dude, I can so run this ship.

Back to our story, Rain decides to send the Standard SETI Greeting to Voyager anyway. On Voyager, we learn that weapons and main transporter systems are offline, but short-range transporters will work up to 10km. It seems that by short-range, they mean the Shuttle transporters, but I'm pretty sure those have a longer range than that. Kim is concerned that moving that close to the surface will cause them to be seen, but realizes that they've already been seen when he receives Rain's message.

Not soon enough, my friend, not soon enough.

Back on the planet, we see that Braxton is not only a bum, but likes to put up signs warning of the end of the world, even though the "end" he's warning about won't happen for 900 years, and there's nothing anyone can do about it anyway. I mean, come on, if an impromptu jaunt from the 29th century to the 24th century to destroy Voyager with a small one-man craft isn't enough to change our fate, than I guess it's just not in the cards...

Kim contacts Janeway and lets her know their cover is blown, and (lucky them!) the observatory that's seen Voyager is only 20km away. Since long-range transporters are offline, Tom and Tuvok head off to find "some wheels" and see how much the observatory knows.

Chakotay and Janeway follow Braxton, and learn that he's been on Earth for the past 30 years. He's also gone completely bat-shit loonball on us. I gotta give the actor credit, he's able to realistically portray a man whose cheese has done slid off his cracker without going over the top. No, wait, that's not right. I mean that he pulls a William Shatner and starts rambling on like he's on a strict diet of cocaine, methamphetamines, and Mountain Dew. His rant starts out like this:

"No, noNOno, No more questions, no, NO MORE SURVEYS, damn social workers, COMIN' AROUND ALL THE TIME, No, I don't need your advice, I don't need your..."

You get the idea. So they all exchange names and numbers, blah, blah, blah. After a whole bunch of rambling, unbelievably overacted exchanges, we learn that Braxton witnessed a "Temporal Explosion" (and really, what explosion isn't "temporal?") in the 29th century which he thought was caused by Voyager, he went back to the 24th century to destroy Voyager, they threw some rocks at him and broke his ship, he got pulled to the 20th century, his timeship was stolen by Henry Starling, and Henry took the ship to the 29th century, which causes the explosion in the first place. So all along it was Braxton's fault, and now they need to get the ship from Henry to stop him from ending the world in the Future. Yeehah!

The cops interrupt their, uh, discussion, and want to talk to Braxton about the signs he's been putting up. Apparently people have been complaining about it, which is damned impressive to me. I don't know about LA, but here in Denver we couldn't give a shit if one of our crazy bums is putting up cardboard signs warning of the end of the world. We're generally happy if they just leave us the hell alone.

Yeah, yeah, we'll kill them all in a minute. I'm about to break a million!

Back in Henry's office, Henry's learned that Rain leaked the info on Voyager, and sends his thug, Dunbar, to "get rid of her." He tells him that he may need to use The Weapon™. I think they were going for an image of how cruel and ruthless he is, but since he's playing a pinball machine in the middle of his office, he comes across about as scary as Jon Voight in a shower curtain. It's interesting to note that Dunbar doesn't have very many lines. He's just there to look intimidating and add some action to the episode, but he fails on both counts.

Small penis?

Okay, so now Tuvok and Paris pull up to Rain's office in a stolen truck, because they forgot to replicate any money. Tom decides that since "No one is around," parking right in front of the building in a fire lane is best. Inside, they find that Rain has been tracking Voyager's Warp Emissions, something no one from the 20th century should know how to do. (Remember that for later, kids)

Paris is so smooth, he's got a beard on his hands.

When Rain finds them in her office, Paris tries to break the ice by telling her how "groovy" her office is. Because, you know, it's funny. He continues to distract her while Tuvok scans her computer. He notices her posters on the wall from various horror B-movies. One of which is "Orgy of the Walking Dead," which, I have to admit, isn't a bad title for a horror B-movie.

As they leave, she finds that Tuvok also scrambled her computer, causing it to pop up with a "Fatal System Error," complete with a full-screen skull and crossbones! Maybe I should have looked into a Crapintosh back in '96. That's much cooler that the Blue Screen of Death!

Arrr, matey, yer hard drive be screwed!

She runs after Tuvok and Paris to yell at them about wiping her hard drive, and ask about that "thing in [Tuvok's] pants." Don't worry, she's talking about his tricorder, although I think it would have been great if he'd said excuse me while I whip this out.

Dunbar shows up to kill them, and fires The Weapon™ at their truck, vaporizing it. Rain and Paris high-tail it to her VW Bus (naturally), while Tuvok shoots The Weapon™ out of Dunbar's hands after doing one of those Captain Kirk defensive somersaults, losing his dew rag. He promptly puts it back on, since it looks dope, yo.

Wow, when you really look at it, I rather be watching almost anything else that's on.

Back on Voyager, we have Kes and Neelix watching TV to keep an eye out for any further indication that anyone else has detected Voyager. Neelix is, of course, fascinated by a soap opera, wondering if "Blaine's twin brother is the father of Jessica's baby." Groan.

Meanwhile, Chakotay and Janeway break into Henry's office, and I finally notice that Henry's company is called "Chronowerx." See, "Chrono" is a prefix that means "time," and "werx" is a crazy way of spelling "works." So his company, using technology he stole from a time-traveler, is called "time works." Brilliant!

Chakotay makes his move!

So, they hack into his computer with their tricorder, and Chakotay realizes that the frosted glass Map o' The World window at the back of the office is really a force-field. I wonder, what he could be hiding back there?

Wow, this one actually looks almost real.

They figure out that Henry's been reverse engineering computer technology from the timeship, and that he's been solely responsible for the "computer age" of the late 20th century. I know I talked about it before, but this is just asinine. Can you imagine the dipshit hippie from the prelude of this episode figuring out how to hot-wire a car, much less divine how broken technology from the 29th century works?

So Janeway types randomly for a while, and manages to figure out that he's repaired the timeship, and intends to fly to the future, which is what causes the explosion that started this whole mess. The circle is now complete. They also cause the frosted glass Map o' The World window to turn transparent, and see the timeship launch bay just on the other side!

Henry comes in and tells them he's been expecting them. He knew one day those damn meddling kids from the future would come back to get his timeship! Janeway tries to tell him that he's gonna blow up the future, but he does not care.

Harry calls her and starts to upload Henry's database, but Henry threatens her life, so they stop. B’Elanna then decides that they should try to beam them out, but long-range transporters are still offline. They will have to get closer to succeed. You know, I don't remember the shuttle's transporters being this limited in the past. I'm pretty sure that they should still be able to beam them up from orbit, but I guess that wouldn't be dramatic enough.

So Harry moves the ship lower and beams them up, and Chakotay disables the force-field around the timeship. They try to beam it up, but Henry is too smart for them. He, get this, uses their transporter beam as a "downlink." He gleefully downloads (and deletes) 20% of their main computer! Doesn't Voyager have a firewall to prevent this sort of thing? Oh, that's right, he's a genius. One of the things he managed to download from Voyager's main computer: The Doctor.

Dude, I'm so l33t!

Neelix calls the bridge to let them know that Voyager was spotted, and is now being broadcast on the news. And we fade to "To Be Continued..."

Oh, please gods, no!

Continue to Part II