Season Four, Episode 4
Written by Kenneth Biller
Directed by Alexander Singer
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 Mahonen as Brone
Nathan Anderson as Namon
Meghan Murphy as Karya
Matt E Levin as Rafin
Terrence Evans as Treen
Booth Colman as Penno 


Chakotay finds himself stranded on a planet where there's a savage war being waged between two sides, the Vori and the Kraydin. He is found by the Vori who appear to be the good guys in the struggle but all he is interesting in is trying to get back to Voyager. But following a number of vicious attacks by the evil "Nemesis", Chakotay finds himself drawn into the harsh realities of war. Meanwhile, the Voyager crew are being aided by the Krayden to find Chakotay. Tuvok eventually manages to rescue him and Chakotay learns that he was actually part of a simulation designed to get people to sympathise with the Vori to aid them in their fight against the Krayden. None of what Chakotay experienced was real. It was, as the Doctor puts it, a form of highly-sophisticated propaganda.


What starts off as a cliche-ridden war story aiming for a Vietnam edge is turned around by an ingenius twist ending which gives the story a whole different meaning. It's a clever, intelligent look at propaganda and how easily it is to manipulate someone's perception to your own end. The only thing that stops Nemesis achieving "classic" status is its rather pedestrian execution.

Robert Beltran gives an exceptionally strong performance as the man who unintentinally stumbles upon a war and finds himself eventually drawn into it, adopting one faction's inate hatred of their enemy. What he doesn't realise is that he's being conditioned to adopt this mentality in order to join the ranks as a Vori "defender". Kenneth Biller carefully constructs a Vori dialect that is quite distinct from our language. It was an unsual touch, for Trek rarely bothers giving aliens any language or speech patterns other than English. It gives the episode a slightly theatrical undertone which if anything clashes with it's desire to be a gritty war movie. But it also serves as a measure to see how Chakotay gradually embraces the Vori's struggle as his own and this is nowhere more evident than when he starts spouting Vori dialect himself. It's clever and well-crafted, if slightly odd.

Aside from that the actual execution of this civil war was a little lacking. The first half is comprised of all the usual war film cliches such as the young boy eager to prove himself as a man and the tales of enemy brutality. The guest stars were alright but could have been better. The main disappointment is Alexander Singer's clumsy, lacklustre directing. His pacing is slow, his handling of the fight scenes was very poor. The scenes involving the Krayden attack on the Vori village could have been hauntingly powerful, but Singer simply doesn't have the deft touch of say, Mike Vejar. This isn't the first time I've been underwhelmed by Singer's directing, either. I don't mean to get at the guy, but I don't think a director should be invited back unless they are the best of the best. In the hands of a stronger director, I've no doubt Nemesis would have been a good deal more effective.

What keeps Nemesis afloat is the way it keeps taking twists and turns. First of all, I was surprised when all the Vori defenders were "nullified" so early in the episode. I was astounded when it turned out Voyager was working with the Krayten to help find Chakotay. And the final revealation, that the whole scenario was a training simulation was very confusing at first but made for the clever, insightful twist that "made" the episode, giving it purpose and meaning.

I particularly liked the characterisation of Chakotay. At first I found his "where I come from we try to find peaceful solutions" a bit odd given that he was in the Maquis, no less! But his gradual sympathising with the Vori was right-on and his hatred of the Krayden made perfect sense given his experiences in the village. This is carried right through to the conclusion where, despite having learned the truth of what he'd experienced, he finds it hard to stop hating the Krayden after what he'd experienced which is understandable. Again, Beltran was superb in his understated, poignant portrayal.

Nemesis is definitely a strong episode of Voyager. It deals with some interesting themes in an intelligent way and I don't think we've ever had a better episode for Chakotay. But what prevents this episode from acheiving true excellence is the patchy execution. The directing could have been far better, I wasn't in love with the guest actors and the plot was occassionally convoluted and confusing. Aside from that, definitely a good 'un.

Rating: 8

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