Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 3 E 24 "Worst Case Scenario"

Go To
Remember how the Maquis/Starfleet conflict didn't really lead to much? Well, this episode's about that.
Under my command, we won't let almighty Federation principles get in the way of opportunities, the way Janeway did when she destroyed the array that could have gotten us home. And we won't be wasting precious time stopping to investigate every insignificant anomaly that we come across. What we will do is use any means necessary to acquire technology that can shorten our journey. To hell with Starfleet regulations.

B'Elanna Torres discovers a holodeck program on Voyager simulating a Maquis rebellion where Commander Chakotay calls for a mutiny after Janeway leaves the ship on an away mission. This program soon becomes popular as the crew try it out for themselves, either taking the side of the mutineers or Janeway loyalists trying to retake Voyager from the Maquis.

While Paris is trying the program, he discovers that the program is unfinished, leaving everyone wondering who created it in the first place. Tuvok admits to being the program's creator, having designed it as a training simulation in case the members of the Maquis actually attempted a mutiny, but not completing it when he saw how the members of Starfleet and the Maquis were getting along with each other.

Because the crew sees the program as harmless fun, Paris and Tuvok decide to expand its narrative. However, when they try to edit the program, they discover that the traitor Seska has modified the program into a deathtrap scenario for Tuvok should he try to continue his work. When the other members of Voyager realize that the program is now booby-trapped, they do their own tinkering with the program to help Tuvok and Paris escape.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Tuvok wrote the program under concerns of the Starfleet/Maquis crew conflict and in the case of a possible mutiny. Over time he found the blended crew working better than expected due to circumstance and shared experience and left the program unfinished. This carries an enormous amount of Reality Subtext, as the Voyager premise was designed to foster contention between the crew members, only for the network and upper management to shoot down story suggestions based on that... except this one.
  • All There in the Manual: A short story released in one of the compilations after the show had ended details both when Tuvok decided to stop writing the program Insurrection Alpha, why he did so, and that he had only completed what he estimated to be about 25% of it.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Tuvok admits he wrote the program as a tactical simulation, not a holo-novel. Seska's rewrite shifts the program into Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: Happens twice — first to Holo-Janeway, then Holo-Seska.
  • Badass Boast
    Holo-Janeway: You've just threatened the wrong woman, Chakotay.
  • Breather Episode: Although it becomes a Crisis of the Week plot in the second half, the Leaning on the Fourth Wall comedy does allow a lighter moment before "Scorpion".
  • Call-Back:
    • To Season One.
    • After helping to save the day, Janeway suggests doing a western as their next holo-program. Now there's an idea...
  • Canon Sue:
    • The program's version of Seska is an In-Universe example. The Maquis all obey her even though Chakotay is supposed to be their leader, Chakotay is madly in love with her, and her plans are so perfect that the heroes only manage to defeat her by hacking various Deus Ex Machinas into the program. Given that the real Seska was the one who rewrote the program and that, like most Cardassians, she has a very high opinion of herself, this was pretty much inevitable.
    • Neelix says the next holonovel should be about a daring trader who becomes a cook on a starship.
    • Virtually everyone tries to pressure Tuvok into turning their characters into this in the rewrite, leading to as much frustration as he's allowed by being a proper Vulcan.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • As benefits an episode about the writing process, it's a literal gun. Tuvok uses Seska's Backwards-Firing Gun trick to kill her.
    • The mutiny is launched while Holo-Janeway has left the ship to meet with an alien race called the Rukani. The real Janeway uses them to pull a Deus ex Machina.
  • The Chessmaster: Seska created the booby-trapped program a month before she left Voyager, and it's gone active over a year after she died.
  • Chick Flick: Tuvok doesn't like B'Elanna's suggestion they add a little 'passion' to the novel. Seska does the honors of chick-ifying the story a bit by having her holographic self and holo-Chakotay fall in love with each other in the rewrite.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Holo-Neelix quickly changes sides to the mutineers, a development the real Neelix takes offense to. In fairness to Tuvok, the program would have been written not long after "Caretaker", when Neelix abused their trust so he could rescue Kes.
  • Cliffhanger: Tuvok created an accidental one when he stopped writing the program.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Several clues cue hardcore fans that the teaser is taking place earlier in Voyager's continuity. Janeway's hairstyle is different, Jonas can be heard on the comm even though he was killed back in Season 2 (albeit clearly not being voiced by Raphael Sbarge), and B'Elanna is wearing a Starfleet ensign's pip. The wham moment is Seska's appearance after her death in "Basics, Part II".
    • Seska's motive for revenge on Tuvok is that he was a Federation undercover agent who betrayed them, which fits with the fact that she was still posing as a member of the Maquis at the time.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Not only did Seska's reprogramming seal the holodeck and disable the safety protocols, but it also deactivated the transporter rooms and comms. There are also boobytraps to destroy the power grid if the crew attempts to pull the plug and the reprogramming can adapt to whatever changes Janeway and Torres attempt to make.
  • Creative Differences: In-Universe between Tom and Tuvok.
  • Dead Fic: To everyone's frustration. Tuvok is ordered to finish it, despite Insurrection Alpha never having been a holonovel in the first place.
  • Deadly Doctor: Holo-EMH "treats" Tom's phaser burn by injecting him with nitric acid, No Sells his attempt to attack him when he's choking Tuvok and then tosses both of them out of the Sick Bay with one arm.
    "A little proverbial salt in the wound."
  • Death Is Cheap: Seska shows that a minor thing like death doesn't stop her from being the Villain of the Week. And Janeway dies again, this time as a holodeck character.
  • Depending on the Writer: The holoprogram has four different authors, each with a different purpose.
  • Designated Villain: Invoked in-universe. Chakotay jokingly observes that he was made the bad guy in the holo-novel and hopes the next one is different.
  • Deus ex Machina: Janeway rewrites the program to have an alien ship come to their aid, giving Tuvok time to snag a phaser rifle. At the end of the episode, the characters are sitting around, talking about the program and Tuvok compliments Janeway on this move. "Who says deus ex machina is an outdated literary device?" she responds.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Seska's program adapts to any ploy by those trapped inside it.
  • Digital Avatar: Seska, for her deceased actual self in her revised version of Tuvok's program. Tom Paris comments that Seska wouldn't let a little thing like death stop her from getting even with Tuvok.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Holo-Chakotay. Yes, he's the bad guy for committing mutiny, but he doesn't kill anyone unless it's necessary. He even tells Holo-Janeway and Holo-Paris that they can keep their shuttle and some extra provisions.
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: Seska is quite the sadist.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • In-universe, Janeway's insistence that the Holo-novel be completed over the wishes of the original author could be seen as a bit of this.
    • Another in-universe example occurs after Paris insists he'll work alone. Tuvok reminds him that only he has the authorization to make changes to the program.
  • Fake Action Prologue: Chakotay's mutiny, which Tom walks in on to set up the Proscenium Reveal.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The opening scenes are presented in such a way that makes it appear as if B'Elanna is trapped in an Alternate Universe or that there's some other sort of Mind Screw at work. Everything and everyone except for her is just off somehow and B'Elanna acts confused by her surroundings, and that's before Seska unexpectedly turns up seemingly alive and well. It's not until The Reveal when Tom breaks in (when he's supposed to be off the ship with Janeway) that the real plot is revealed, and that B'Elanna is just following along with the program.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Torres is complaining that the holonovel doesn't have any romance.
      Paris: I could add a steamy love scene between the Starfleet conn officer and the Maquis engineer.
      Torres: Oh, that's realistic!
    • Tom's interest in writing a holonovel eventually leads to the Show Within a Show The Adventures of Captain Proton, a program that emphasizes fun and action over characterization, as per his arguments with Tuvok.
    • There are a few hints about the episode opening with a Fake Action Prologue (e.g. Torres being referred to as an ensign and never by name, Jonas still being alive, Tuvok saying Chakotay is still new to being first officer), Janeway's hair in the power bun that preceded "Future's End", etc.
    • The first time Paris plays the holo-novel, he tries to thwart the mutiny and gets thrown in the brig. After the holographic Tuvok stresses the importance of biding their time and following proper procedure and states that it may take up to a week for a good opportunity to break out to present itself, a bored Paris asks who wrote this holo-novel.
  • Fake Defector: One of the options in the program, taken by Paris and Neelix. B'Elanna says it's more fun to join the rebellion.
  • Freudian Excuse: Torres (a former member of the Maquis) joins the mutiny immediately. Paris (a guy with a problematic history on both sides) initially tries to stop the mutiny the first time he plays and then switches sides when it's convenient for him.
  • Good Is Boring: B'Elanna advises Tom to go join the mutiny from the beginning, as it's more fun. Tom agrees when he finds Tuvok's plan for foiling the mutiny is to do nothing till next week's episode.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: A comical story turns dangerous due to Seska's tampering with the holo-novel. Also applies in-universe, as decisions of those playing the ensign in the game can vastly affect the course of the story.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: A scene where Tim Russ hams up being shot, and Robert Beltran flubs his line. Look for it on Youtube.
    Paris: It's Paris and Janeway.
    Holo-Chakotay: (long pause) How do you know? (general laughter)
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Justified by deliberate sabotage.
  • Hypocrite: Seska wants revenge on Tuvok for betraying the Maquis, when she herself is a Cardassian infiltrator.
  • Hypocritical Humor
    • After Paris tells Tuvok that he's going to have Janeway execute the mutineers, Tuvok complains that this is against Janeway's established personality and that characters should not deviate so tremendously. Neelix walks over and insists that he would never betray the captain like he did in the holonovel. Paris makes fun of Tuvok over this point.
    • And the Holo-EMH throttling Tuvok; "You're looking well."
  • Killer Game Master
  • Klingon Promotion: When holo-Chakotay argues against killing Tom and Tuvok (as Janeway reprograms him to), holo-Seska shoots him.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The program was set to become a Deadly Game the next time Tuvok logged in. He does so with Tom Paris, the other crewmember who betrayed the Maquis crew to the Federation.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Tuvoks reasons for abandoning the simulation boil down to "the show's writers dropped the Maquis plot without really doing anything with it".
  • Load-Bearing Boss: The program shuts down when Holo-Seska is killed.
  • Mexican Standoff: Several. One memorable shot is Paris doing this with his holographic counterpart and the program shutting down afterwards.
  • Mirror Match: Having taken the side of the mutineers, Tom is startled to be pointing a phaser at himself as a Janeway loyalist. Then the program shuts down.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: A lot of the dialogue resembles a writers' room argument over how to write a Star Trek: Voyager episode.
  • Muse Abuse: Averted as everyone finds Insurrection Alpha rather amusing, even Chakotay who's the villain of the program. Neelix is the only one who takes offense, and that doesn't stop him from playing it.
  • The Mutiny: Though played out as a training simulation.
  • Mutual Kill: Holo-Janeway and Holo-Chakotay stun each other.
  • Mythology Gag: Janeway thinks the next holonovel should be a Western. Janeway's preferred holonovel was originally going to involve herself as a Western pioneer, but was replaced with the Gothic romance novel.invoked
  • New Era Speech: Holo-Chakotay gives one after seizing Voyager.
    Chakotay: Take a good look around you. You're under armed guard. You may also notice that your senior officers aren't here. They're in the brig. They'll be put off the ship at the first habitable planet we come to. All except Janeway and Paris, who will arrive at their rendezvous coordinates to find that Voyager's not there. In short, I've taken control of the ship. I don't blame any of you for the mistakes of your leaders, so I'm giving you a choice. You can be put off the ship with your superiors or you can do what Neelix and some of your other crew members have already done and join me. If you do, you'll be part of a crew that's going to do whatever it takes to get us home as fast as possible. Under my command, we won't let almighty Federation principles get in the way of opportunities the way Janeway did when she destroyed the array that could have gotten us home. And we won't be wasting precious time stopping to investigate every insignificant anomaly that we come across. What we will do is use any means necessary to acquire technology that can shorten our journey. To hell with Starfleet regulations. You have fifteen minutes to make up your minds.
  • New Rules as the Plot Demands: The original holonovel was built as a functional training tool and wouldn't allow the player to cheat through modifying holodeck settings, but Seska writes a new scenario where it actively manipulates the rules to ensure their eventual death. Tom and Tuvok are stuck in a situation actively working against them, and their only hope is Janeway as a Deus ex Machina rewriting the program in real time to give them a fair shot.
  • No Ending: Or so Tuvok thought.
  • Not Bad: What Tom says after Tuvok uses Seska's backfiring gun trick against her.
  • Not Himself: The holodeck Chakotay is overly friendly yet stilted in interacting with the real characters, notably pausing to allow them to reply to his comments, an early sign that it's a holodeck program.
  • The Not Secret: Word quickly spreads of Insurrection Alpha despite (or because) of its subversive nature. Which makes it puzzling that no one knows who wrote it.
    Paris: Remember the good old days when it was impossible to keep a secret on a ship this small?
  • Off the Rails: The primary development in the second half of the episode, where any semblance of a story or training purposes are thrown out the window in an Everything Trying to Kill You mode.
  • Only the Author Can Save Them Now: Invoked in-universe by Janeway, who intends to "rewrite" Seska.
  • Other Stock Phrases: "You'll never get away with this." (Holo-Harry to the mutineers), "I've been waiting a long time for this." (Holo-Chakotay before he shoots Tom), and "If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself." (Holo-Seska before she tries to kill everyone)
  • Out of Character: First, Tuvok got Neelix's character completely wrong (something Neelix later objects to). Then Tom Paris wants to have Janeway execute all the mutineers. And when Seska got at the character profiles...
  • Platform Hell: What Seska's programming turns the holo-novel into. Everything is designed to torture whoever's trapped and actively be unfair.
  • Post-Mortem Comeback: A highly adaptive hologram of Seska enters the program and manipulates it to her own ends.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away
  • Railroading: Seska programmed the holodeck to do this when Tuvok and Paris were on the verge of getting the upper hand.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • When everyone thinks the program is a mere holo-novel, Janeway and Chakotay are good sports about it. They want to know who wrote it out of mere curiosity. Janeway also sees the value in the crew creating their own fiction as a stress reliever, especially since they're cut off from all the newest forms of media back in the Alpha Quadrant.
    • In the holo-novel, Chakotay is portrayed as fairly reasonable—giving junior officers the chance to join his team. At one point, he even offers holo-Janeway food and supplies rather than destroy her shuttle on sight.
  • The Reveal: Everyone assumes that Insurrection Alpha is an action-adventure holonovel with some Take That! jabs at Janeway's command decisions. It turns out to be a program created by Tuvok to train his security officers against a Maquis mutiny.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Once Seska gets a hold of the story.
  • Running Gag: Once Paris volunteers to complete the program, other crewmembers keep butting in with suggestions.
  • Save-Game Limits: In order for Paris to play from the start, Torres has to "reset" the Insurrection Alpha program. Apparently the holoprograms in the 24th century don't have a way for multiple players of scenario to save different statesnote .
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Invoked; when the Maquis and Starfleet crewmembers end up working well together, Tuvok realizes his program could itself create tensions between the two groups and deletes it. Or so he thinks. Tuvok's expectations are subverted when they find it and enjoy it.
  • Smooch of Victory: Holo-Seska and Holo-Chakotay snog after killing Holo-Janeway. No one is impressed.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Tom and Tuvok arguing over the changes to the holonovel.
  • Spread Shot:
    Seska: I wouldn't do that if I were you. This phaser's set on wide beam. I could take you all in one shot.
  • Superdickery: The Teaser with Chakotay asking B'Elanna to take part in The Mutiny.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Seska activates the Self-Destruct Mechanism, keyed only to her voice.
    Holo-Seska: If you don't hand over that phaser rifle, everyone on this ship is going to be dead in... (waits)
    Computer: Self-destruct in forty five seconds. (Seska grins)
  • Technician vs. Performer: Ultimately why Tuvok and Paris are urged to work on the program together. Tuvok's precision and faithfulness to accuracy has resulted in a realistic scenario without strawmen or melodramatic pomp... but it's also bogged down in strict adherence to reality and can't really deviate with surprise developments. This necessitates Tom creating a more entertainment-focused moderation, as there wasn't any option for a true Face–Heel Turn. (In theory, since we never get to see the outcome of their effort.)
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Complaining about the holo-novel not having an ending, Paris says it's sadistic. Later he's put through Seska's version of Hell.
    • B'Elanna rejects the idea that she might have a steamy romance with Tom as completely unrealistic.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Everyone offering writing tips to Paris and Tuvok. Paris also treats Tuvok's offer as this, until Tuvok reveals that only he can rewrite the program.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Tuvok and Tom.
  • Welcome to Corneria: The program always starts with Chakotay approaching the player character in a corridor on the way to the turbolift and starting the same conversation.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: Paris's comment the first time he runs the program when the holographic Tuvok in the brig suggests that they might need to spend as long as a week observing their captors for weaknesses. "A week?! Who wrote this stuff?" This is a clue that he's in a training scenario, not a holodeck adventure where Rule of Drama prevails.
  • Win to Exit: Once Holo-Seska gets herself killed courtesy of Tuvok's phaser sabotage, the program ends.
  • With All Due Respect: Janeway to Tuvok, telling him to "loosen up".
  • Worst Aid: Seska's version of the Doctor decides to treat Paris's phaser wound with 20cc's of nitric acid!
    Doctor: A little proverbial salt in the wound.
  • Write What You Know: In-universe with Tuvok, as this was a training simulation. At the end of the episode, he notes that any future holo-novels will not be so close to home.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: In-Universe—this is how Paris wants to finish the program, much to Tuvok's disapproval.