Friday, February 20, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Cathexis

About a year ago, knowing I was about to begin work on a new novel that involved a lot of mystery novel themes and tropes, I got a huge stack of them and started cracking spines. I'd re-read all of Sherkock Holmes in 2013 but went ahead and re-read Hound. Then I read about ten Agatha Christies and then some Raymond Chandler and I watched a bunch of mysterious TV shows and BBC costume drama mysteries. At some point, I realized I loved mysteries. I loved reading them. I loved writing them. I loved watching them. Honestly, it shouldn't have been a surprise--I've been in love with Sherlock Holmes since 8th grade and Clue was my favorite board game. Anyway, I guess that's why I find Cathexis so surprisingly satisfying.

Set Up:
Chakotay and Tuvok return from an away mission all messed up and they're sent directly to sickbay where it turns out they've both been whacked in the head by some kind of space mess. Chakotay's in a coma as a result of the blow but Tuvok is pretty ok. No one knows what to do about their first officer but they decide to go about their business when all kinds of strangeness ensues. Foul play is suspected.

-Tom Paris looks guilty as hell--which pretty much means he's not to blame.
-Kes gets all psychic and feels a presence in her quarters and is subsequently attacked.
-The warp core shuts down with B'Elanna at the console but she doesn't remember anything.

They pretty quickly get that something's not right--that someone or something is controlling crew members at will. But how? The finger gets pointed all over the place and smokescreens are dragged out to great effect until the real guilty party is revealed and dealt with.

What's really in the little brown envelope?
Tuvok, in the Shuttle, with a Hostile Alien Entity
I knew it! 
This one doesn't have a ton of action. It doesn't have any extra cast or sets or crazy props (outside of Chakotay's medicine wheel). It's essentially a bottle episode. And it's well done. It's eerie. It's quiet. It's a lot like an old novel of espionage onboard a Cold War submarine--only in space. It could be anyone--literally, because in the end, it's not really anyone. And that's what's so lovely about this kind of SciFi. Regular mysteries become extraordinary when mixed with the endless possibilities of space and flexible futures. This is an episode I tend to forget about when listing my favorites but I really shouldn't. It's a legitimately good episode and a fun watch.

Bonus Points:
-Seriously, did you think I wouldn't talk about Janeway's holo-novel cold open? The woman is wearing a tartan dress and inhabiting a creepy ass house on the moors (another genre I love) when she's so rudely interrupted by Harry Kim (of course) with news of the away team. It really feels like this cold open is setting up some kind of big arc for later but I honestly cannot remember whether or not it ends up paying off. I guess I'll see.
-I love that The Doctor knows all about Chakotay's medicine wheel and it totally makes sense--he's the only doctor in Starfleet who even could hold and accurately remember all that medical information since he's basically a walking database.


  1. Reading mysteries and playing Clue? As if I didn't already think we were kindred spirits, now I'm certain.

    First, I have to say that I'm going to have to slow down. I've been watching at the 2013 pace, and I realize now that it's way too fast! I'm already finishing season 3, and I don't want to be that far ahead. I'm going to have to find a fill-in series to watch, and pick up Voyager again when you're at that point.

    Before I do that, though- I'm going to go back and rewatch Cathexis. I saw this one in the middle of the night a while back, and I'm thinking maybe I didn't give it the attention it deserved. I remember liking it as a solid episode, but I really don't recall anything special about it. After reading this post, I think I missed a bunch. I'm getting it cued up for tonight...

  2. I enjoyed a particular scene between the Doctor and Neelix enough to create my own little Instagram clip of this episode. (of the Doctor saying "I'm just pointing out that you're acting a little paranoid; in fact... one might say you're acting a little TOO paranoid.") Early signs of the Doctor's sardonic wit I enjoy so much. : )

    1. Yes! I love it when these little things begin to come through. Especially when you know the characters it's great to see them slowly come to life.

  3. I tried to comment on this post the other day, but it never showed up. Perhaps I did something wrong! Let’s see if I can remember what I wanted to say…

    First, if I wasn’t convinced that we’re kindred spirits before, I’m certain now- reading mysteries and playing Clue solidified that for me :).

    Next, I realize I’m watching too quickly this time around. I’ve been watching at the old 2013 pace, and I'm almost done with season 3. I don’t want to be that far ahead of your schedule. I think I need to find a filler series to watch for a little while until we're synched up again. (Any Netflix suggestions for me??)

    I think I need to go back and re-watch Cathexis. I remember watching this in the middle of the night several weeks back. I may have even fallen asleep. I remember thinking it was a solid episode, but I don’t remember anything special about it. After reading this post, I think I’ll revisit it!

    1. Hey KJ! I don't know what happened either because I was sure I clicked "publish" on your comment the other day but it never showed up and then both were in my Comments Queue this morning. Anyway... Firstly, hooray for kindred spirits!
      Yeah, I'm going slower than I should be, actually. I need to get caught up but my schedule is so hectic lately that taking the time out to watch AND write about each episode hasn't been as easy as I'd hoped to fit in. Still, I'm (slowly) chugging along.
      Yes! Go back and watch this one. I always took this one for granted, never thought it was bad, just never really remembered it as a great one. I have a new appreciation of it now!
      Netflix Suggestions! I'm not sure what you're into but here are some of my favorites:
      Mystery (since we were talking about it): Sherlock, Poirot, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Death Comes to Pemberley
      Fantasy-ish: Merlin, Buffy (Does Buffy go here?)
      Sci Fi: Fringe, X-Files, Doctor Who (kind of also Fantasy-ish) Torchwood
      Other Stuff: Call The Midwife, Bob's Burgers, Adventure Time, Agents of Shield
      Let me know if you need more. Haha!


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