After destroying the Doctor's camera in a fit of (undoubtedly justified) annoyance, B'Elanna is assigned to work on her emotional control with Tuvok. Her lessons are interrupted when she's called upon to help repair a Malon toxic-waste freighter that is in danger of exploding, destroying everything within three light years. But a hostile creature on the freighter is stalking the Away Team.
This episode has the following tropes:
- Abandon Ship: The Malon have done this by the time Voyager arrives. At one point, Chakotay reminds Fesek of this while pulling rank on him.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: The Vihaar has a resistance to theta radiation.
- A Day in the Limelight: A B'Elanna episode.
- All Myths Are True:Fesek: I don't know how I'm going to explain what happened.
Torres: Tell them the truth. Tell them the Vihaar is no myth.
- Almost Dead Guy: Pelk"I saw it...I saw it...the creature..."
- Anti-Radiation Drug: The Doctor provides a handy injection to avoid having the actors walk around in anti-radiation suits. The Malon wear their usual radiation suits, but without any helmets.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted; B'Elanna gets radiation welts on her face and very dirty.
- Berserk Button: Do not call B'Elanna "Miss Turtlehead" unless you want to go flying off the gyro-swing and get beaten to a pulp.
- Big Electric Switch: The 'manual actuators'.
- Big "NO!"B'Elanna: Get the hell away from [the console]!
Vihaar: NOOOOO! IT'S TOO LATE!
- Chekhov's Skill: While on the freighter, B'Elanna is shown trying to meditate as Tuvok taught her.
- Commonality Connection: B'Elanna tries to establish this with the insane crewman.B'Elanna: Listen, listen to me. I know. I know that you're so angry you want to destroy everything in sight, but there's another way to make them understand. I'm on your side.
- Continuity Nod: Tuvok instructs B'Elanna as he used to instruct Kes; he even uses the same Vulcan meditation lamp. It's also a call back to "Random Thoughts", where Tuvok offered to instruct B'Elanna in emotional control.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Vihaar is highly radioactive, making his touch lethal, but his mutation did not give him superpowers, he is still just a man and unarmed, meaning he relies on technical tricks, surprise and stealth against the away team. He doesn’t last long in a straight fight against a pissed off Klingon with a big metal pipe.
- Cuteness Proximity: B'Elanna can't help giggling at the thought of Tuvok as a child, with his little Pointy Ears.
- Deadly Euphemism: "Waste export mission" AKA toxic waste dumping.
- Dead Man Walking: The Vihaar, for all intents and purposes.B'Elanna: Don't make me kill you!
Vihaar: I'm already dead.
- Don't Make Me Destroy You: B'Elanna tries to reason with the Vihaar, but he's too far gone and she has to beat him to death with a pipe.
- Due to the Dead: Fesek touches Pelk's eyes, then his own after Pelk dies.
- Escape Pod: Voyager finds 37 of them floating in space, all contaminated by theta radiation. There are only two survivors.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Fesek is introduced showing off the model freighter he intends to give to his son.
- Explosive Decompression: The Vihaar sabotages an airlock door in an attempt to kill the Away Team.
- Explosive Instrumentation: Things aboard the Malon vessel are so volatile that even the EM emissions from the tricorders makes things explode.
- Face Death with Dignity: At the end of the episode the Doctor informs Fesek that he took a lethal dosage. He accepts it stoically, as it's an occupational hazard.
- Fanservice: B'Elanna bare-armed, sweaty and covered in grease.
- Flashback Cut: In the privacy of her quarters, B'Elanna has a flashback to killing the Vihaar.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Even as a child B'Elanna had the wherewithal to sabotage a gyro-swing.
- Getting Hot in Here: B'Elanna strips down to a sweaty tank top.
- Good Is Not Nice: Janeway gives Controller Fesek a choice between helping them, or being put back in his Escape Pod where he would either die of radiation poisoning or get obliterated in the explosion of his ship.
- Got Volunteered: Fesek sends one of his bridge crew to manually seal a radioactive area, even though he's not a core labourer.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: A character episode based on B'Elanna's temper.
- Heroic Sacrifice: What the Malon crew see their job as, so their homeworld will remain uncontaminated. Doubly so for the core workers, who face almost certain death to earn a huge paycheck for their families.
- He's Dead, Jim: Attempts to resuscitate Pelk consist of placing a cortical stimulator on his forehead.
- Hurl It into the Sun: Janeway's "Plan B" for the freighter is to nudge its flight path with the tractor beam so it'll fly into a nearby star.
- Impending Doom P.O.V.: The Vihaar stalking the Away Team. Also Impairment Shot, presumably because his mutations have affected his eyes.
- Improvised Weapon: Unable to use her phaser due to the risk of causing an explosion, B'Elanna uses a pipe to lethal effect.
- Incurable Cough of Death: B'Elanna starts coughing just before she's told she received a fatal dose of radiation.
- Invincible Heroine: Lampshaded when Seven of Nine and Tuvok are discussing Janeway's latest plan; Tuvok points out it isn't the first time the captain has beaten the odds. To which Seven replies "She does seem to succeed more than random chance would allow. I'll add that to my calculations."
- Landfill Beyond the Stars: This is the Malons' Hat. Dumping of theta radiation is regarded as Necessarily Evil to preserve the ecology of their own planet.
- Lethal Chef: Neelix prepares a Talaxian anti-radiation folk remedy that's so hideous even he can barely stand it.
- Meditation Powerup: Not a combat version, but hot-tempered B'Elanna is shown trying to meditate during a highly stressful mission.
- Monster of the Aesop: The Vihaar are described a lot like gremlins, ie, malicious spirits that inhabit engines. At least one of them is really a Malon who's been driven over the edge by having to work in their hellish waste industry.
- Mundanger: The Vihaar is actually a core worker Going Postal over what's happened to him.
- Nothing Is Scarier: There may be a creature, there may not be. Unfortunately, the away team can't even scan for it because it's too dangerous for the tricorder, and even the scanners on Voyager have trouble isolating anything organic.
- No OSHA Compliance: The Malon freighter is a Fire And Steam Factory IN SPACE!.
- Not What I Signed on For: The Malon Red Shirt from The Teaser gives this protest when he's ordered to the core, even though he's not a core worker. A more literal example than usual, since it's established that the high mortality rate of core work means it is something one is supposed to volunteer for.
- Odd Friendship: The bond between B'Elanna and Neelix is on display again in this episode when he catches her meditating. She snaps at him, but then she feels bad and confesses what she was doing. He promises to keep her secret.
- Planar Shockwave: When the freighter explodes.
- Plot-Driven Breakdown: The theta radiation prevents Voyager from forming a warp field to escape. Later they can't beam out the Away Team because of the heavy anti-radiation shielding surrounding the freighter's bridge.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tuvok and B'Elanna, as demonstrated by what color they're each wearing during the meditation exercise.
- Revenge Before Reason: The Vihaar is so consumed with rage he doesn't care that innocents who have nothing to do with his employers will die if the freighter explodes.
- Sensor Suspense: Seven in Astrometrics tracks the Vihaar approaching the bridge, where the Away Team is.
- Series Continuity Error: The script was originally intended to be produced near the start of the season, but was pushed back to avoid having too many Malon-focused episodes early in the season. Unfortunately, this ended up meaning that the episode aired after "Timeless" and "Dark Frontier", during which Voyager travelled 20,000 light years, leaving no explanation as to how they encountered the Malon so far out.
- Sonic Shower of Angst: After staring into the mirror, remembering how she beat the Vihaar to death after she wasn't able to talk him down, B'Elanna steps into the shower to become clean.
- Shout-Out: B'Elanna's grimy makeover causes her to bear quite a resemblance to Ellen Ripley. The climax then has Seven watching the intruder getting closer to the team on sensors, as per the motion trackers in Alien.
- Species of Hats: Played with. Every single Malon we've encountered has had the singular goal of dumping toxic waste in space. This episode establishes that obviously that's not true of their entire society, and these crews see themselves as doing the dirty work so that the rest of their species can live a normal life.
- Straw Vulcan: After Chakotay is beamed out, Tuvok suggests he take over the Away Team.Tuvok: B'Elanna is unpredictable, Captain. Under these circumstances, her volatile nature could compromise the mission.
Janeway: Your concerns are noted, but if I send you over there I'd be sending the wrong message. That I don't have faith in her. But I do.
Tuvok: Your faith is admirable, but logic suggests—
Janeway: This isn't about logic, it's about trust.
- Suddenly Shouting: "THEY POISONED ME!"
- Suicide Mission: Core labourers — only three out of ten survive a standard waste-dumping mission. For this reason they get paid ten times as much, with the money going to their families if they die.
- Sympathy for the Devil: We're shown a more nuanced side to the Malon, who previously were just Villain of the Week types.
- Tap on the Head: Chakotay takes a flying pipe to the head and has to be beamed out.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Malon and the Voyager crew really don't like working together. Especially B'Elanna.B'Elanna: Chakotay, these people are the scourge of the quadrant.
Chakotay: Agreed, but right now they're our only hope of repairing that freighter, so I suggest you make friends.
- That's an Order!:
- Fesek to the crewman he sends to the core.
- Chakotay ordering B'Elanna to restrain her hatred of the Malon, and later to let herself be treated for radiation poisoning.
- Time for Plan B: In case the Away Team can't repair the freighter, Janeway orders Plan B to be prepared, in which Voyager will push the freighter into a nearby sun. Seven of Nine prepares the necessary calculations, then provides a Plan C (shoring up the Deflector Shields) in case that doesn't work. Tuvok says it's unlikely given Janeway's past success record... then pointedly asks if there's a Plan D. There isn't.
- Toplessness from the Back: B'Elanna strips off for a long-desired sonic shower.
- Two-Faced: One half of the Vihaar's face looks like the standard Malon (greenish skin with lesions), but the rest of his skull is deformed from theta radiation exposure.
- Urban Legend: The Vihaar. Subverted when it turns out that the Vihaar is real. And pissed.Fesek: It's an old story shared among freighter crews. Some of them say they've seen creatures in the theta storage tanks.
Fesek: Created by radiogenic waste. According to the legend, they are poisonous monsters that wreak havoc aboard Malon ships. It's a common belief among our more superstitious recruits.
- Used Future: The Malon freighter.
- Was Once a Man: The Vihaar was a Malon crew member who worked near the storage tanks. Average life expectancy there is usually two months. He wasn't so lucky, and the theta mutated his very genetic makeup.