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Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 1 E 9 "Prime Factors"

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The second big Hope Spot for the USS Voyager. Of course, this is still Season One.
Voyager's crew face a moral dilemma when an extremely hospitable species possess a technology which could help the crew get more than halfway home in seconds.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Janeway and Harry Kim enjoy the local attractions, despite having love interests back in the Alpha Quadrant.
  • A House Divided: With the prospect of getting home in one fell swoop, not only ex-Maquis rebels B'Elanna and Seska but even Starfleet officers Carey and Tuvok end up covertly opposing their captain.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Stories are of great value in Sikarian society, so Janeway offers to trade Voyager's entire library in exchange for some help getting home. When the respective leaders' negotiations break down, their underlings do it behind their backs anyway.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Prime Directive is discussed and is indeed a source of conflict, together with the Sikarians' own version of the law.
  • Alien Sky: Harry realises he's been transported to another star system when he sees the Binary Suns.
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  • All for Nothing: Sikaris technology was never compatible with the Federation's.
  • Almost Kiss: It's not enough that Harry turns down his chance for some alien nookie, he interrupts Janeway and Gath as well!
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Averted. B'Elanna and her engineers are confident that they can make alien technology from the far side of the galaxy compatible with Voyager. Yeah, not happening. Turns out that there are some miracles that even the best Starfleet engineers can't pull off.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Tuvok has caught the conspirators red-handed as they're about to beam down to the planet with Voyager's library. Then Tuvok states he will make the exchange himself.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The episode begins with Janeway voicing her concern about whether the Starfleet and Maquis crews will be able to get along and fully integrate. The group of officers who collude to steal the Sikarians technology in defiance of Janeway's orders? Are an exact 50/50 split of Starfleet and Maquis.
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  • Beneath the Mask: Janeway's voice cracks when giving Tuvok her What the Hell, Hero? speech.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Gath is The Hedonist, always ready to move on to the next source of pleasure. He simply can't comprehend Janeway's desire for something more permanent, or the crew's overall desire to return to the Alpha Quadrant.
  • Call-Back: Harry entertains Eudana with the events of "Caretaker".
  • The Chains of Commanding: Should Janeway bribe a local official to get around the Prime Directive? Is getting her crew home more important than the principles she's sworn to uphold?
  • Chick Magnet: Harry Kim! One of the Delaney sisters allegedly knocked him off a holodeck gondula into the water while trying to make out with him, and he quickly attracts the attention of Eudana.
  • Continuity Nod: Chakotay points out there have been past occasions when Starfleet personnel have chosen to ignore the Prime Directive on strong ethical grounds.
  • Disappointed in You: Janeway to B'Elanna and Tuvok.
  • Downer Ending: Voyager fails to use the trajectory to make any progress, and Janeway is badly shaken by the disobedience of her officers.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Janeway putting up with Gath's overtly physical attentions, given her later Celibate Hero status.
  • Easily Forgiven: Though it helped that Tuvok and B'Elanna come forward about their involvement. Also Janeway can't afford to demote her Chief of Security or a senior Maquis officer at this stage, with Starfleet/Maquis relations still a delicate issue.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Seska busts B'Elanna checking out Ensign Murphy.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Come on, it wouldn't be Voyager if things were this easy for them!
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Jaret Otel has Eudana bring Harry to him for their secret meeting, as it doesn't look strange that she would take him off somewhere private.
  • False Reassurance: When Janeway calls out Gath on lying about wanting to help, he protests it's not true. After all, he's done everything to convince them to stay on his planet.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The Sikaris teleporter works by folding space. Harry theorizes that it could be jury rigged into a Jump Drive.
  • Food as Bribe: Janeway softens up Gath with pecan pie before pitching the idea of a trade for their technology. Perhaps she got the idea from the ancient logs of a Starfleet engineer called 'Trip' Tucker?
  • Foreshadowing: Seska's manipulative nature, her central role in the conspiracy, and her shock that B'Elanna has abandoned her Maquis values for Starfleet ones, all take on a new context in "State of Flux" when we discover she's a Cardassian Deep Cover Agent, involved in an ends-justify-the-means plot with an alien race to get back to the Alpha Quadrant.
  • Funny Background Event: During the Cold Open, a female member of the crew in a blue shirt can be seen behind Harry, clearly having a laugh at the story of his and Tom's exploits with the Delaney sisters.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Tuvok is an excellent officer, virtuous man, and Janeway's friend — but he's not above going behind the extremely gracious Sikarian Magistrate's back to get their technology which he's forbidden them to have.
  • Gossipy Hens: The episode opens with B'Elanna and Seska discussing who's dating who.
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: Jaret is open about how the trade he is offering is unsanctioned and to his own advantage but makes good points about why it should be accepted and seems somewhat sympathetic to their goals, while only asking for books from another planet.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Harry turns down a make-out session with a beautiful babe on a planet where the dawn wind has aphrodisiac effects, because he prefers to interrogate Eudana on the Sikarian teleporter technology. Harry is punished for his dedication with seven years' bad luck as a Fatal Attractor.
    • Jaret Otel offers to secretly trade the technology for Voyager's library of stories, which will bring him great prestige. As this would be a Loophole Abuse of the Prime Directive, Janeway refuses to play along.
    • Seska wants to blame the malfunction on the warp core breach, but B'Elanna insists on coming clean to Captain Janeway, accepting responsibility on behalf of all the conspirators.
  • Hope Spot: The Space Folding Matrix seems like it'll work, but the presence of anti-neutrinos means that it never could be compatible with Federation systems. B'Elanna was forced to destroy it when it couldn't be removed from its interface.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Tuvok tries to use this justification for attempting to get Voyager home by using alien technology behind Janeway's back.
  • La Résistance: The first episode since "Parallax" which deals with the Maquis element on the Voyager crew.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Janeway lets some strands drop out of her Bun of Steel during a late night with Gath.
  • Loophole Abuse
    • As Jaret Otel is a Sikari, accepting his offer would not be a violation of the Prime Directive.
    • Janeway bans B'Elanna from snooping, but this doesn't stop B'Elanna, Seska and Carey from discussing 'in theory' how the Sikarian technology might work.
  • Lovable Rogue: Jaret is more polite, restrained and well-dressed than the average roguish character but doesn't make any secret about how he'll be profiting from the arrangement (albiet relatively modestly), while expressing distaste for his governments Rules Lawyer methods obstructing the Voyager's trip home.
  • Microts: Averted; when Harry wants to know how far they've been teleported, Eudana says it's two and a half billion times the distance between Sikaris and its sun, and Harry works out the distance in light years from that.
  • Mistaken for Exhibit: Harry sees Eudana playing what he assumes is a Harp of Femininity. It's actually an atmospheric sensor that works via sound. That doesn't bother Harry much as he immediately deduces how it works and they start bonding over that instead.
  • Morality Chain: Janeway says to Tuvok, "You are my counsel, the one I turn to when I need my moral compass checked."
  • Mundane Utility: Eudana uses the spatial projector to hop halfway across the galaxy for a Make-Out Point.
  • Nice Girl: Eudana, who responds nicely to Kim's flirting and introduces him to Jaret to buy the space folding matrix when her government won't give it to the Federation.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Gath repeatedly touches up Janeway, who isn't entirely adverse to this.
  • Not So Dire: Voyager answers a Distress Call from the Sikarians, only there's no emergency. They actually want to help Voyager, having heard they're lost in the Delta Quadrant and need cheering up!
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Gath is eventually revealed to be one, doing nothing to appeal for the Federation to use the technology and preferring for them to be there and under his influence.
  • Planet of Hats: The Sikarians are extremely polite and known for their hospitality, and use ridiculously advanced transporters as a matter of course. The downside is that they get bored with things and people after the novelty wears off and are always looking for something new.
  • Pleasure Planet: A more realistic version.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology: At first literally played straight — the Sikarian device plugs into a console in Engineering despite being acquired only moments before, so the crew wouldn't have had time to construct an interface. However the trope is ultimately averted.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Janeway lamenting The Chains of Commanding to Tuvok in the privacy of her Ready Room. One can't help wondering if the Vulcan is Not So Stoic, given his subsequent actions.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Gath shows Janeway some exotic silk and offers to make her a dress, even an entire wardrobe! Janeway compromises on a scarf instead.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Janeway to Gath on the shallow values of the Sikarians, who responds by throwing them off the planet as they're not fun anymore.
  • Rest-and-Resupply Stop: Unfortunately their rest is cut short, not by an external enemy but by their own actions.
  • Rules Lawyer: Gath refuses to hand over their transportation technology because of their laws, even when the virtuous Voyager crew just wants to get home. Janeway suggests a compromise in which they transport Voyager as far as possible without handing over the technology. Gath makes encouraging sounds, but Janeway eventually realises he has no intention of helping them.
  • Saved From Their Own Honor: What Tuvok tries to do for Janeway's sake. Ultimately he determines it was logical, but an immoral breach of trust, to act behind his captain's back.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right! / Shoot the Dog: Tuvok conspires to get the Space Folding Matrix illicitly, because Janeway's moral code prohibits her from taking action when the Sikarian Magistrate has prohibited use of their technology.
    • Also Eudana introducing Kim to someone who can sell him the necessary technology.
  • Serious Business
    • On a planet which is a paradise, populated by a species with technology far in advance of the Federation, stories are the only thing Voyager has of value.
    • From the Sikarian point-of-view, the Voyager crew's desire to get home. Why would they want to do that when there's a paradise they can settle down on right here?
  • Shout-Out:
  • Straw Vulcan
    Janeway: You can use logic to justify anything. That's its flaw.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The Sikaris spatial projector, which Voyager hopes to use for a Lightspeed Leapfrog.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Averted; realising what the conspirators are up to, Tuvok locks down Voyager's transporter, programming it to alert him if anyone tries to use it.
  • Tempting Fate
    Seska: This is going to work! (Red Alert signals a warp core breach)
    • Janeway is pleased that the Maquis and Starfleet crews appear to be getting along. Then they cooperate to disobey her orders behind her back.
  • This Cannot Be!: Janeway is utterly shattered at Tuvok's betrayal; it's not clear from this how their friendship will be affected.
  • Two Roads Before You: See The Chains of Commanding.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: The conspirators realise the alien technology only works near Sikaris, so have to use it right away before Janeway goes to warp. Unusually for this trope, it goes horribly wrong and nearly destroys Voyager.
  • Walk-In Chime-In: Carey revealing that he wants in on the conspiracy.
    Seska: Look at that neutrino dispersion pattern. Could that be a result of space folding?
    Torres: Maybe. If the device creates a neutrino bubble around whatever's being trajectored.
    Carey: [offscreen] If that's the case, we'd need a bubble big enough for the ship. (Oh, Crap! Reaction Shot from Seska and Torres) Don't worry Lieutenant. I'm with you on this one. After all, it doesn't hurt to theorise.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Eudana disappears after introducing Kim to Jaret.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: All over the place in this episode. A devastating one is given at the very end by Janeway to Tuvok.