"Demon"

Season Four, Episode 24
Teleplay by Kenneth Biller
Story by Andre Bourmanis
Directed by Anson Williams
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
  Plot:

Just as Voyager is running out of fuel, the crew detect deuterium on a "Demon" class planet which is inhospitable to human life. Paris and Kim are sent down in a shuttle wearing protective suits to try and mine some of the deuterium.


Review: 

Oh dear. Just as the excellent Living Witness seemed to get the show back on track, along comes Demon, an exceptionally unpleasant excursion into to the murkiest depths of sucksville. We're not just talking about scraping the bottom of the barrell, we're scraping underneath it as well! Demon is as pointless as it is lame, boring and dumb, playing out like some sort of po-faced cheesy 50's B-movie. 
I honestly don't know where to begin.

How about by pulling apart what little there was in the way of "plot". Voyager's crew surely has to be the most inept bunch ever to set foot aboard a starship -- fact. They just happened to run out of fuel? I take it they don't have any fuel guages on Voyager? And given that they manage to find some duterium just as they're about to lose power completely, there surely can't be much shortage of it -- after all, they've gotten by for four years now with little problems. There's also lot of inconsistency with this here-called "Demon" planet. At first Chakotay claims that by even orbitting the planet they'd be signing their own death warrants. But no, they even land the ship, for Pete's sake, with no adverse effect whatsoever! Then there's the fact that the planet is evidently so hot that it would burn a human ro cinders. Yet the duplicates of Paris and Kim, and later the rest of the crew, seem absolutely fine without their radiation suits. I don't get it -- they are supposed to be exact genetic duplicates, so how come they're not affected by the conditions? Then there's the little incident with the radiation suits. The jovial voice of the computer informs Paris and Kim that their suits have been breached and they will loose oxygen within thirty seconds. And yet, hours later, they are found alive and well. Wildly inconsistent.

Mind you, plot-holes are not necessarily a cardinal sin in and of themselves -- what is a cardinal sin is the fact that, well, there practically is no plot. It's not until the last couple of minutes that we learn about that metallic goo gaining sentience by absorbing Kim and Paris. You know, that could have actually had some potential had it not been so badly handled. Aside from the fact that any story that relies exclusively upon exposition to explain the plot is shoddy storytelling, it's also horribly, horribly rushed. Most the episode is wasted with long, lingering shots of people walking through caves, exchanging cringe-worthy dialogue while the potentially interesting dilemma of this emergent species is relegated to a cursory, wholly unsatisfying wrap-up. As for Janeway's decision...I buried my head in my hands once again. Janey, Janey, Janey

By now I've come to accept the fact that Janeway simply isn't a very good Captain as, I'm sure you're aware, I have questioned her descions and command style numerous times in the past. But her readiness to allow the entire crew to be duplicated was....oh boy, I don't even want to go into it. Hey, I'm glad she had the decency to consult the crew about it, but it was evident that she'd pretty much made her decision and, as you all know, once Janeway's made a decision that's it. Perhaps the thing that angered me most about this episode was that it wasted so much time on pointless, inane claptrap like the Doc and Neelix as roomies while it shamelessly glossed over and ignored a very important plot factor. Even if Janeway made the right decision (and I'm not saying she didn't) we needed to see her give it a lot more consideration. What are the moral implications of letting her entire crew be cloned? Once Picard stated that, as individuals, we would rather die than be assimilated by the Borg. Janeway basically let her entire crew be assimilated. I felt sorely cheated that the writers didn't at least attempt to acknowledging the implications of this decision.

What Andre Bourmanis was attempting to come up with when he wrote this story I'll never know. I found it devoid of plot, meaning, rhyme or reason. In terms of plot structure and pacing -- don't make me laugh. Kenneth Biller is equally responsible, delivering an absolutely atrocious teleplay. Not only is he completely unable to instil any degree of intelligence or structure into the dismal story but his dialogue is quite awful and he sucessfully makes just about every character involved seem shallow, one-dimensional and very, very annoying. I suppose it's a little unfair to judge characters on the basis of one lousy episode, but it was watching this that I realised just HOW many of Voyager's chaarcters I find irritating. 

Lessee, first up there's Paris. I used to like Paris, mainly because I found Robert Duncan McNeill to be quite charismatic and amiable in the role. Unfortunately, between this and Vis a Vis, Paris is evidently a character best in small doses. His wise-cracks are EXTREMELY annoying and the "friendly banter" with Kim was cheesy, witless and downright risable. Their little "jokes" were not just bad, they were excruciatingly bad. And, on the subject of Kim, I can hardly say that I was particularly stunned by the horribly forced "Harry's got a new attitude". I mean, Lordy, who cares? Kim is still a shallow one-dimensional cipher in the mould of Wesley Crusher and if the writers want to instil some depth in the character they're going to have to try a LOT harder than that. Neelix was equally annoying and the sub-plot involving him sleeping in sick bay was stilted, completely out-of-place and again cheesy. Tuvok was mildly annoying as well and why taking Neelix's blanket and book off him would conserve energy I'll never know. Perhaps he should go around shoving teddy bears out the airlocks? Other annoying characters included Chakotay, who might as well have been a walking plank of wood this week and, of course, Janeway whose seriously questionable command decisions could give Starfleet officers everywhere nightmares.

Apart from some nice special effects and caves that were more convincing than usual, there's virtually nothing I can recommend here. In terms of science-fiction it fails, in terms of characterisation it fails (instead of making me sympathetic to the characters it actually had the opposite effect) and in terms of drama it fails miserably. Boring, very poorly executed, pointless and largely plotless as well. I actually got more enjoyment out of scribbling on my notepad than watching this dreck. Put it this way, if I had bought this one on video I'd be asking for a refund. Sorry to be so negative, but Demon really does deserve everything it gets. Better luck next week.

Rating: 1


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