Season Four, Episode 17
Teleplay by Bryan Fuller & Lisa Klink 
Story by Andrew Shepard Price & Mark Gaberman
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:
Michael Horton as Kovin
Adrian Sparks as Magistrate
Michelle Agnew as Scham Plot:

Prompted by Seven's unusual behaviour around Kovin, an alien arms dealer, the Doctor recovers what appears to be repressed memories in which Seven was assaulted and experimented upon by Kovin.


Okay, let's divide Retrospect into two; the premise and the execution. The premise: interesting, intelligent and thought-provoking with the potential to make a powerful, compelling and emotionally-charged drama. No problem in that respect. The execution, on the other hand: quite good until the last ten minutes when an abrupt twist all but tears apart whatever good work the episode had done in the first place. On the basis of the conclusion, it's clear that the writers simply didn't have a good enough handle on the themes they were dealing with and the message they were trying to convey. The result is therefore muddled; a reasonably enjoyable but flawed episode that -- with just a little more work -- could have been far stronger.

The Doctor, wishing to expand his horizons, assumes the role of psychiatrist and is determined to get to the root of Seven's strange behaviour. She is somehow threatened and intimidated by arms dealer Kovin, with whom Janeway is doing business and she is also irrationally scared by the Doctor's tricorder and biobed. It transpires that she has repressed memories of being abducted and assaulted by Kovin. From thereon, everyone rallies around Seven and it's simply a matter of proving Kovin's guilt.

The Doc jumps head-long into his role as psychologist-cum-investigator and the evidence starts to mount against Kovin, despite his continued protestations of innocence. And, sure enough, Kovin was such an arrogant, contemptible little git that we were all cheering on the Doc! Go, Doctor! Go, Doctor! This part of the episode was quite well built, remaining engaging and compelling whilst also allowing some superb character-building for both Seven and the Doctor. Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo were both excellent and ably supported by the other players, particularly Kate Mulgrew who was on fine form this week. Jesus Salvador Trevino's directing was generally solid, particularly his striking "flashback" sequences which were appropriately eerie and disturbing. So far, so good.

But things soon start to fall apart. It's revealed that, in one respect at least, Kovin's story did check up. The presence of the nanoprobes in his work-shop could indeed have been accountable to the alleged weapon overload. That's fine; I don't have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the gigantic 180 degree turn which occurs next. It would seem that, just because one aspect of his story held up, he was therefore completely innocent, case closed. HUH?! All of a sudden Seven's recovered memories are dismissed as mere delusions and are glibly glossed over. Janeway casually dimisses Seven's memories as being reflective of her experiences with the Borg, evidently forgetting that they were triggered by Kovin. If she was somehow experiencing trauma from past experiences, why were they triggered so recently and her memories so vivid? How come, all of a sudden, after pledging to support her, everyone turns against Seven, casually dismissing the traumatic experience she'd endured?

If we were meant to accept Janeway's assertation that Seven's memories were in fact false, we needed the evidence to support that. Sometimes memory recovery does prove inaccurate, but such cases tend to be the exception rather than the rule and more often than not occur due to some sort of suggestion on the part of the doctor. It was clear that there was no such manipulation on the Doctor's part and Seven's memories clearly came flooding out by themselves. Secondly, if we were meant to buy that perhaps they were merely reflective of Seven's experiences with the Borg, they should have been a lot more ambiguous to allow for different interpretation. We're also left with several questions which the episode fails to address, such as why Kovin figured in Seven's memories at all and how, all of a sudden, it was him that triggered them. The episode never really gave us a reason to question the accuracy of Seven's recovered memories, and as such the final twist seemed like a big, fat cheat. I don't like being cheated.

I just didn't believe that Kovin was innocent and the sudden switch from believing Seven story to believing Kovin's was horribly abrupt and unsatisfying. Kovin's extreme reaction to the accusation also stretched all boundaries of credibility. If he was innocent, why would he run off in a crazed frenzy, firing on Voyager and eventually destroying his own ship? Is that how an innocent man would act? Of course not. Everyone (including eventually Seven) came to the indisputable conclusion that Kovin was innocent, somehow forgetting that they didn't actually resolve his guilt or innocence. Worse yet, following his death, Seven is treated like she's the guilty party to the extent that she even begins to feel guilt over his death herself. Go figure. Everyone promptly forgets that Seven was the one who was victimised and no one says another word about her traumatic experience.

I appreciated what this episode was trying to do. It was trying to say that sometimes our preconceptions about a person can influence our judgement and objectivity. But thanks to that shoddy, half-baked conclusion, I simply found it impossible to buy into Kovin's alleged innocence. Too many unanswered questions. The sadness that everyone felt about his death was way overdone and particularly off-kilter given that no one actually liked him in the first place and the fact that they still didn't have any conclusive evidence that he was innocent. That Seven is apparently blamed for the whole incident is not only ridiculous but also offensive. 

Despite a pointed coda where Janeway teaches the Doctor that you have to learn by mistakes, the way the episode was resolved felt incredibly wrong to me. It was a woefully over-simplistic look at a complicated, emotive subject with a horribly abrupt twist that was simply impossible to believe. The more I think about Retrospect, the more frustrated I'm getting. This could have been one hell of a powerful episode, but instead it's just...muddled.

Rating: 6

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