“Flashback” (Star Trek: Voyager)

“Flashback” was Voyager‘s tribute episode for Star Trek‘s 30th anniversary. Janeway and Tuvok engage a mind meld and relive the events of Star Trek VI through the eyes of Tuvok, who was a junior science office on the Excelsior. This episode is not the best, but it was not nearly as bad as I remembered it being. It aired about the same time as the much-superior Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”—where the DS9 crew travel back in time to the original Star trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles—and I think the Voyager episode paled in comparison.

My recollection of this episode, which I hadn’t seen in over ten years, had been that it did a poor job of honoring the original series. I remember Janeway telling Tuvok he was right to object to Sulu’s command to rescue Kirk and McCoy, and then her speech:

It was a very different time, Mr. Kim. Captain Sulu, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy. They all belonged to a different breed of Starfleet officer. Imagine the era they lived in….
It’s not surprising they had to bend the rules a little. They were a little slower to invoke the Prime Directive, and a little quicker to pull their phasers. Of course, the whole bunch of them would be booted out of Starfleet today.

On re-watching, the episode is a little more nostalgic. Janeway finishes with “But I have to admit, I would have loved to ride shotgun at least once with a group of officers like that,” and later expresses satisfaction with Tuvok’s memory and his nostalgia. It’s still not the adoring romp through the past that was “Trials and Tribble-ations,” but perhaps it will do.

The other thing I remember, though, which still holds up ten years later, is that George Takei’s acting seemed off. Sulu seemed very over the top, and while he was always exuberant, this episode seems more like Takei impersonating Sulu rather than playing him. Perhaps it’s just that he’s reproducing scenes from Star Trek VI, the direction is different, and they don’t match up in my head, but it was as jarring to watch this time as it was the first.

Most telling, though, may be that as I was watching “Flashback”, I noticed each time they re-used an effects shot from Star Trek VI, or re-shot a scene with different words, or cut between new and old footage. On the other hand, when I watched “Trials and Tribble-ations,” even though the episode was one giant visual effects trick, I forgot to notice. The story was compelling and natural enough that I actually forgot that they had inserted the DS9 characters into scenes shot thirty years earlier. It wasn’t until I watched the “Making of” special on the bonus disk that I realized I had forgotten they didn’t just go back in time to 1968 to film new scenes with Shatner, Nimoy and the rest. It was that good. The Voyager episode was not up to par, although passable as a standalone piece. I give it a B-.