"Concerning Flight"

Season Four, Episode 11
Teleplay by Joe Menosky
Story by Jimmy Diggs and Joe Menosky
Directed by Jesus Salvador Trevino
Main Cast:
Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway
Robert Beltran as Chakotay
Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
Ethan Phillips as Neelix
Robert Picardo as The Doctor
Tim Russ as Tuvok
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
Garrett Wang as Harry Kim

Guest Cast:
John Rhys-Davies as Leonardo da Vinci  


Voyager is attacked by aliens who use a transporter scan to steal various objects of technological value, including the main computer processor and the Doctor's mobile holographic emitter. The crew trace the pirates to a nearby class M world. Janeway and Tuvok beam down to look for the stolen equipment and are surprised to be greeted by Janeway's holographic version of Leonardo da Vinci! His program was still active in the computer core when it was stolen and transferred to the Doctor's mobile emitter. Janeway joins forces with Leonardo to track down the computer core, managing to outwit the scavenging aliens, rescued in the nick of time by Voyager, now complete with its computer. 

I decided to watch this one a couple of times before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, as it were).  I thought that perhaps I wasn't getting into the "spirit" of it, but now I realise why; because there is no spirit to it. It may lay claim to being a clever, sophisticated story with lots of depth to the relationship between Janeway but it's actually a first class fraud. In actual fact it's a self-satisfied, irrelevent time-waster that's executed with very little in the way of finesse.

I took it as a bad omen when I heard that is was originally called "Da Vinci's Day Out". Hokey just isn't the word for this, but hokiness in itself is not a cardinal sin. Is the premise any sillier than a runabout crew being shrunk to the size of a comm badge? Nope, but where this episode falters is its approach. The aforementioned DS9 episode, One Little Ship had exactly the right approach; it didn't take itself too seriously and it had fun! Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the po-faced Concerning Flight not only treats its silly premise with the utmost seriousness but...it's just no fun. And fun was precisely what the episode needed to rise above its daft plot and lacklustre execution.

First of all, I have to say I definitely liked John Rhys-Davies' performance. He could be Leonardo da Vinci. But there's one pretty major problem as far as the character is concerned, and it's one I touched upon in my review of Scorpion, Part One. He's TOO real. Everyone accepts him as if he were da Vinci, which leads to some questions involving how real a holodeck creation can be. I don't believe for a second, that even if the computer were programmed with all the available information of da Vinci in the world that he would be as life-like a representation. How can a computer duplicate the spark of life that was a person based soley upon data input? I don't buy it.

I also found it very odd that he was accepted into the alien community so casually and what a conicidence that he should just happen to bump into Janeway and Tuvok, huh? Must be a pretty small planet! :-) And why did Janeway continue to humour him? Why didn't she just deactivate the mobile emitter, thus shutting down the program? When Tuvok asks the very same question, Janeway's arguement is that he is one of the world's greatest minds and that "we have an opportunity here". An opportunity for what, exactly? This was allegedly a very important, dangerous mission and Janeway wasted so much of her time arguing with a hologram! And, for the last time he is NOT Leonardo da Vinci!! Having her treat him as if he were only serves to make her look rather silly.

I'm afraid that the whole Master/apprentice aspect of Janeway and da Vinci's relationship was more than a little lacking. It felt too contrived and manipulated to be all that effective and it seemed to try to suggest depth where...well, where there wasn't any. The performances of both Rhys-Davies and Kate Mulgrew were fine, but I didn't buy into the relationship, although there were one or two nice moments.

As for the actual plot itself, well, perhaps the less said the better. The idea of a race of aliens which steals technology from others to sell as merchandise is a decent notion, although it's been used before (remember the Packleds in TNG's Samaritan Snare). The problem with the aliens themselves is that they are just so utterly boring, no different to Voyager's average personality-devoid aliens-of-the-week. At least, I suppose, the make-up people bothered to try and make them look like aliens this time -- I assume they were on strike or something during the making of last week's Random Thoughts.

I also have a problem with the whole business with the ship's computer...being stolen! It's been said before on Trek (in fact, I think it was even on Voyager) that the computer is integrated with the ship and cannot be removed. And yet these pirates manage to remove it with one sweep of a transpoter beam?! Another thing:  I had assumed that the computer was vital to ship's operations, yet there was no indication that the crew were having the slightest problem without it?

The plot is not only riddled with implausibilities and questionable logic, it's also executed very routinely in as dull, boring and by-the-numbers a way as is possible. There's our weekly quotient of technobabble plus the obligatory "action finale" which, as usual, features the ship being attacked by enemy ships, dimmed lights, exploding consoles and lots of suspenseful music as we wonder whether our heroes will be rescued in time. Frankly I'm just sick of these dreadfully forced and utterly ineffective conclusions, so I can't say I was impressed. The actual search for the computer processor was unengaging and frequently boring, featuring some very improbable decision-making and some severe lapses of logic. Dull, dull, dull.

I've already pointed out the stupidity of Janeway taking da Vinci along for the ride as, for the most part, he was more of a hindrance than help. Lest we not forget the means by which they escape their pursuers -- why, they fly off in one of da Vinci's flying machines! Stupid is as stupid does, people. Even if you can suspend your disbelief that the contraption just so conveniently happened to be in the right place and the right time, the reaction of the bad guys is just too much to swallow. They just stand their gawking. If they really wanted to stop them, um, why didn't they shoot? Duh, whoops!

There were some moments I did enjoy. The holodeck scenes that opened and capped the episode were quite enjoyable and I did love John Rhys-Davies. But I was less than enamoured with the dull, stupid plot which was about as engaging and exciting as watching paint dry with enough plot holes to pilot a starship through. There were one or two nice snippets of dialogue, but on the whole, this is a time-wasting piece of fluff, as self-righteous as it is dull and irrelevent. 



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