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Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 3 E 22 "Distant Origin"

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Chakotay comes across an alien race called the Voth that presumably evolved from dinosaurs, with a scientist who is trying to discover his race's true origin.


This episode provides examples of

  • Age of Reptiles: The Voth evolved from dinosaurs during that era.
  • Air Vent Escape: Tom ducks into a Jeffries tube, though Tuvok is stunned before he can follow.
  • Alas, Poor Yorick: Gegen picks up Hogan's skull and starts waxing lyrical.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Gegen only recants when Minister Odala threatens to destroy Voyager and send its crew to the detention camp with him.
  • Answer Cut: Janeway wonders why they haven't seen the computer's extrapolation of an evolved humanoid reptilian in a museum of natural history on Earth. Cut to Chakotay and Gegen discussing that very issue and coming up with possible reasons.
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  • Arc Number: Humans and Voth share 47 genetic markers, leading to the conclusion that they're from the same planet.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology:
    • The computer refers to Parasaurolophus as "Genus: Hadrosaur". Parasaurolophus may have been part of the family Hadrosauridae, but it's a different genus from Hadrosaurus.
    • Eryops, the last common ancestor of cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals on Earth, is stated by the Doctor to have lived about 400 million years ago, during the Devonian period, when in fact it lived more than 100 million years later, during the Permian period. In addition, the Eryops shown in the episode more closely resembles the Gorgonops, a type of synapsid, which were the ancestors of mammals, not dinosaurs.
    • The notion that the Voth evolved on an "eighth continent". There actually was a significant span of time starting in the Late Cretaceous Period where Earth had eight continents, but that last one is India, which broke away from the southern supercontinent Gondwana approximately 100 million years ago and collided with south-central Asia sometime between 55 and 35 MYA.
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  • Badass Armfold: When Tom thinks he's regained control of Voyager's weapons, Captain Janeway orders him to fire and advises her captor to hold onto something. The Voth defiantly does this trope instead. His confidence is justified when Tom's attack is a No-Sell.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Lampshaded in this episode, in which two aliens observe Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres talking.
    Gegen: Note how the female through the feigned antagonism encourages the male in his attempt to mate.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Gegen's name comes from the German word for "against". Doubles as a Meaningful Name.
  • Call-Back: To "Basics" where the reptilian scientist discovers the bones of a Voyager crew member who perished on the planet they were stranded on. When tracing Voyager's journey, they stop at the space station from "Fair Trade". They're also seen inspecting a canister of warp plasma given to them by a Tak Tak, showing some trade with Voyager did occur despite Janeway's Accidental Unfortunate Gesture in "Macrocosm".
  • Cassandra Truth: Gegen's daughter tries to warn him that his line of research is politically dangerous, but he doesn't listen, believing that the facts will speak for themselves.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Invisibility Cloak that Tom and Tuvok experiment with allows Tom to evade discovery.
    • After losing their Side Bet, B'Elanna has to take part in Tom's Klingon martial arts program. This is shown in the next episode.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Implied with the "surgical interrogator" who is nearly called in to deal with Janeway. Veer, meanwhile, looks like he suffered this off-screen when he's called to testify against Gegen.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Hogan's skull has claw marks on it, from when he was killed by the cave lizard.
    • Chakotay says that Voth doctrine originally predicted terrible disaster if transwarp were attempted. Perhaps the Voth actually evolved into lizards when they crossed the Warp Ten barrier?
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The whole "distant origin" debate is similar to the creationism vs. evolution debate in regard to humans, with "Doctrine" a stand-in for Young Earth Creationism.
  • Downer Ending: Gegen is forced to recant his "distant origin" belief to save Voyager and is also assigned a new area of study that he is clearly unsuited for.
  • Dutch Angle
  • Earth That Was: The Voth ancestors fled Earth to escape extinction.
  • Everyone Can See It: Even alien scientists who's never encountered humans can see B'Elanna and Tom want to do the nasty.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Minister Odala during Gegen's trial.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Voth for all mammalian species. Gegen admits that the humans on Voyager are the first he's ever talked face-to-face with.
  • From a Certain Point of View: To the Voth, the distant origin theory means they are mere refugees with no right to the region of space they control or a legacy that would keep them united. Chakotay urges Minister Odala to consider that their ancestors grew up on Earth surrounded on all sides by deadly predators, but still managed to develop their own culture, develop technology, and when their world was threated by calamity: boldly traveled into space, created their own Warp Technology and traversed the length of their Galaxy entire millions of years before Humanity would evolve; and that these ancient Voth had remained united in purpose to go across the vast distances of space instead of backing down from a challenge and turning back, and who would go on to establish another homeworld deep within the Delta Quadrant against all odds. Chakotay views the Distant Origin Theory as a sign of the Voths' overwhelming spirit and resolve. But Odala rejects this argument.
  • Fun with Acronyms: BYOB (Bring Your Own Bat'leth).
  • Growling Gut: The Vulcan version of this is addressed by Tom Paris when he says, "Tuvok, I hope that's your stomach," at the same time that he hears the clicking sounds of the Voth while Voyager was being boarded.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Made by Gegen to save the crew of Voyager, when he agrees to recant his theories publicly in exchange for Voyager being allowed to leave their region of space.
  • Higher-Tech Species: The Voth have technology far enough above Voyager that the ship and security teams are utterly helpless, can travel at a speeds comparable to Borg Transwarp or Quantum Slipstream, but are still nothing remotely as advanced as you'd expect from a people who had been space-faring for tens of millions of years. Although this is partially explained by their fanatic devotion to 'doctrine' which seems to stagnate their technological advancement rates.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: Minister Odala tells Gegen that his true scales  are showing.
  • Hope Spot: Tom Paris regains control over Voyager's weapons, only for them to be shut down again. It looks like Chakotay's Kirk Summation will sway the Minister, but she rejects it.
  • Humans Are Morons: The smaller cranium of the humans is noted.
  • Humans Are Smelly: To the Voth, who have a highly-developed sense of smell.
  • Implied Death Threat: After agreeing to let Voyager go, the Minister makes it clear she never wants to see them again.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Gegen and Veer are able to walk around on Voyager thanks to a device that puts them out of phase. However Kim is able to detect it when they move to the Bridge.
  • Kirk Summation: Chakotay delivers an impassioned speech to the Voth encouraging them to see past their dogma. Unfortunately, it's followed by a Shut Up, Kirk! response.
    Chakotay: I've had the opportunity the last few days to learn something about your culture, your great accomplishments. Consider your breakthrough into Transwarp — an incredible achievement. And yet, your ancient doctrine predicted terrible disasters if it were even attempted. That held your race back for millennia, until someone took a chance and challenged that prediction. They succeeded, and your society entered a new chapter of exploration, and your doctrine was changed accordingly. I know from the history of my own planet that change is difficult. New ideas are often greeted with skepticism, even fear. But sometimes those ideas are accepted, and when they are progress is made. Eyes are opened.
    Odala: When I open my eyes to this theory, what I see appalls me. I see my race fleeing your wretched planet, a group of pathetic refugees crawling and scratching their way across the galaxy, stumbling into this domain. I see a race with no birthright, no legacy. That is unacceptable.
    Chakotay: I see something very different, Minister. An ancient race of Saurians, probably the first intelligent life on Earth — surrounded by some of the most terrifying creatures that ever lived. And yet they thrived. Developed language and culture and technology. And when the planet was threatened with disaster, they boldly launched themselves into space, crossed what must have seemed like unimaginable distances, facing the unknown every day, but somehow...they stayed together. Kept going, with the same courage that had served them before, until they reached this quadrant, where they laid the foundation of what was to become the great Voth culture. Deny that past...and you deny the struggle and achievements of your ancestors. Deny your origins on Earth...and you deny your true heritage.
    (Beat)
    Odala: (to Gegen) Do you retract your claims?
  • Meaningful Echo: "Eyes open."
  • Mile-Long Ship: The Voth City Ship is nearly 10 kilometers long (just over six miles) — big enough to hold Voyager in its interior chamber, looking like a tiny fish in a very big tank.
  • No-Sell: The Voth pretty much deliver a conga line of these to the Voyager crew.
    • Their city ship simply beams the entire damn ship inside their own without even being bothered by its shields. Then with a combination of power dampening fields and computer hacking, they shut the ship down, disable all hand phasers and finally override Toms attempt to get the torpedo launchers online without even being phased by his threats to use them.
    • Also arguably counts for the Chakotey's heartfelt attempt to Kirk Summation his way out of their situation which simply bounces right off the Minister's dogmatic xenophobic hide. And when Janeway, with all the anger and threatening posturing she can muster demands that her ship be released, the Voth questioning her all but rolls his eyes and simply calls for a "surgical interrogator" to get the answers the hard way instead.
  • Overly-Long Tongue: Gegen shoots out a tongue and scoops up an insect.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: Nope, they built spacecraft and left the planet.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Averted; Chakotay and Gegen postulate that all traces of an advanced saurian civilization were destroyed over the millennia. This seems to be based on the Silurian hypothesis, though there should be indirect signs such as evidence of sudden temperature change or traces of artificial substances left in sediment.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: After the trial, Gegen is reassigned to metallurgical research. He tells Chakotay that he's never been good at chemistry and thus is likely to have an unremarkable career from this point on.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The entire episode is a retelling of Galileo's difficulties with the Pope regarding Heliocentrism—only with dinosaurs.
  • Science-Fiction Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Another connection with Earth for fans to gripe about. However this trip took so long the ancestors of the Voth apparently forgot their origins in the mists of history. They've also discovered transwarp since then, explaining how they can cover a distance Voyager spent a year crossing. Ironically, recent analysis show the 65 million years ago the Earth was on the opposite side of the galaxy due to the Sun's orbit around the center actually lends some credence to this as well. Had they traveled in the opposite direction that orbit they would have ended up in their current location much quicker.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Gegen and Veer get caught in one on The Bridge that keeps them from returning to their ship. They barely make it to the mess hall.
  • Starship Luxurious: The Voth city ship is so large it beams Voyager inside it with plenty of room to spare.
  • Stealth in Space: Gegen engages "spatial displacement" to hide from Voyager.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: Averted; Chakotay wakes up on an examination table, but we then see he's not restrained, though there is a forcefield around him.
  • Surprise Witness: Gegen is shocked when his own protege Veer is somehow coerced into testifying against him.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: Averted when Kim detects the Invisibility Cloak of the intruders. Tuvok's security team quickly hunts them down.
  • That's an Order!: Tuvok when Tom refuses to leave him behind.
  • Tranquillizer Dart:
    • Veer hits Chakotay with one.
    • Tuvok catches one mid-sentence later on.
      "There appears to be a dampening fie—"
  • Twerp Sweating: Gegen does this to troll Veer, but then reveals that he approves of his interest in his daughter. This makes Veer's subsequent forced betrayal more heart-wrenching.
  • Undying Loyalty: Veer will follow Gegen anywhere—until the Voth authorities get their hands on him.
  • Ultraterrestrials: The Voth, who left Earth millions of years ago.
  • Voodoo Shark: The explanation given as to why no evidence of Voth was found on Earth, is that they all evolved on a separate continent that was somehow destroyed after they left. This means they somehow built functioning spaceships before boats.
  • Worldbuilding: Even though the Voth were only meant to appear in one episode, there's an effort to portray their culture in various minor ways.
 
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"What I See..."

Chakotay encounters The Voth, an alien species that is distantly-related to dinosaurs that had fled from Earth millions of years ago and created an empire within the Delta Quadrant. Many Voth are raised by Doctrine saying that they were natives of the Delta Quadrant and have a prestigious legacy and birthright, and that The Distant Origin Theory would destroy that. Chakotay says otherwise in that their ancestors having overcome numerous struggles on Earth and developing spaceflight technology to escape their homeworld and press onwards while staying together shows their peoples undying resolve and how empowering it is.

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