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Recap / Star Trek: Voyager S6E12 "Blink of an Eye"

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What a funny looking planet.
The crew comes in contact with a planet rotating 58 times a minute, and where time flows correspondingly faster. The spaceship, in orbit, acts as a third pole and any attempt to leave causes massive quakes below, so the inhabitants think they are a deity causing it.

As time goes on, the civilization that develops on the planet is greatly influenced by the presence of the "Sky Ship". The inhabitants advance to the point they can travel at sublight speed to the Voyager, where the two astronauts — Gotana-Retz and Terrina — both try to adjust to the new time frame, but only the former survives. He finds out that time moves much more slowly on the ship, and when the ship comes under attack by the suddenly-more-advanced civilization, he acts as an ambassador until he is returned to the planet, where 50 or more of his years have passed.

This episode provides examples of

  • Agent Scully: Played with, with two scientists trying to discover if there's anyone on board Voyager, which has been in their sky for their civilisation's entire history due to Year Inside, Hour Outside. The Scully doubts there's anyone on board, but when the Mulder asks why he's on the mission in the first place, he adds that he doubts everything - including his own doubts.
  • Aliens Speaking English: A variation. When Kelemane dictates the letter to the Cleric, he writes it in English. Usually in Star Trek, alien cultures are shown to have their own written languages even when their speech is translated.
    • Lampshaded later, after the aliens invent radio. When a scientist (half-jokingly) suggest sending a voice greeting to the Ship in the Sky, another objects that they don't even know if they speak the same language, but goes along with it anyway. As we see when the Voyager receives it, the massage is in fact in perfect English.
  • Artistic License – Physics: For the Weird Planet to be getting enough light and heat to have M-class conditions, it would have to be extremely close to an extremely hot star and/or have very high levels of greenhouse gas in its atmosphere. It would also be very hot for anyone outside the time dilation, since heat radiation would be happening thousands of times faster. None of this is ever portrayed or mentioned. And let's not even get into the fact that the speed of a planet's rotation has nothing to do with the flow of objective time.
  • Book Ends: In The Teaser, a tribesman sees Voyager's arrival while preparing an offering on a hilltop. In the final scene, the elderly Gotana-Retz watches the ship leaving orbit from the same spot.
  • Call-Back: In "Message in a Bottle", the Doctor brags to the new EMH that he added an additional subroutine to his program, allowing him to have sex. It seemingly wasn't a brag at all given this episode's events.
  • The Constant: The same hilltop with a distinctively shaped rock is seen in four different time periods and is used to indicate the passage of time on the planet:
    • When Voyager arrives, the aliens have a primitive tribal culture and live in small wooden huts around the hill.
    • Centuries later, relatively speaking, it is their equivalent of the Renaissance. A castle stands on the hill, looking out over a village with thatched houses and a fort in the valley.
    • By the time that they have reached a 20th Century level, the village has turned into a city with electricity and internal combustion engines. An observatory, from which a radio message is sent to Voyager, has been built on top of the old castle.
    • In the final era shown, the aliens have surpassed Voyager's level of technology. The city has grown into an extremely advanced metropolis and the observatory has been replaced with a futuristic looking structure.
  • Cross-Referenced Titles: "Blink of an Eye" was originally titled "Wink of an Eye", until someone realized there'd been an unrelated (but not dissimilar) TOS episode with that title.
  • Distant Finale: The last scene is an elderly Gotana-Retz sitting on a hilltop, gazing at a night sky without Voyager in it... but it is only distant from his perspective.
  • Fictional Sport: We never find out exactly what kind, but during his three years on the planet, the Doctor became quite a fan of his adopted hometown's team, and engages in a little friendly ribbing with Gotana-Retz by asking if he is a fan of their rival team. When Gotana-Retz tells him the current squad, led by the grandson of the man who was the star player during the Doctor's stay, is off to a 5-12 start, the Doctor begins ranting that the grandfather would have voluntarily sent himself into exile if he'd allowed such poor playing.
  • First-Contact Math: The astronomer and his assistant send a list of prime numbers and mathematical constants to Voyager in a radio transmission as well as a voice recording. Voyager doesn't respond as, aside from the astronomer being long dead by the time that they receive it, the planet was still at a pre-warp stage of development.
  • Foreshadowing: During a staff meeting, Janeway and the Doctor talk about how shifting from one time rate to another could prove fatal. The alien astronauts learn that the hard way. They also discuss the prospect of being attacked once the planet advances sufficiently, which is eventually what happens.
  • God Is Displeased: After Voyager first arrived, the then primitive aliens believed that it was a powerful god who was punishing them for worshiping Tahal by making the ground shake.
  • Going Native: The Doctor is sent on the planet for a reconnaissance mission supposed to last three seconds, but a malfunction leaves him stranded for hours (i.e. several planet years). When he comes back, he expresses patriotic outrage that a neighbouring state attacked his own, the Central Protectorate. He later reveals he has a son down on the planet and talks sports with Gotana-Retz.
  • Humanity Is Advanced: At first...
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Though a tongue-in-cheek one. When they realize they'll get to watch the complete history of civilizations, B'Elanna quips that they'll watch them come up with new ways to bash each other over the head. Chakotay says that she shouldn't expect them to conduct their affairs like Klingons, and gets the response "as opposed to the human model?"
  • I Am X, Son of Y: In a letter written to the "Ground Shaker":
    "I, Kelemane, son of Kelemane..."
  • Idiot Ball: The foreign astronauts aren't taking videos, they aren't transmitting back to a 3rd person in their ship.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: In this episode, the Voyager crew played this role to a species living on a planet with a Year Inside, Hour Outside effect. From their point of view, Voyager had been in their sky for centuries, and was a complete mystery to them.
  • Kill the God: After centuries of quakes and their explorers disappearing without explanation, the natives concluded the Sky Ship was hostile and made a serious attempt to shoot it down. It's only Gotana-Retz' return that stops them.
  • Move in the Frozen Time: After Orbital 1 docks with Voyager, Gotana-Retz and Terrina are initially still in the planet's time frame. From their perspective, the crew seem to be frozen in time. After exploring the ship for a while, the two astronauts become part of Voyager's time frame and are visible to the crew, having seemingly appeared from nowhere.
  • Noodle Incident: The Doctor had a son named Jason Tabreez down on the planet, but we're not told how this came about.
    • A spin-off short story establishes that Jason was essentially the Doctor's adopted son; he helped deliver the baby and acted as father for the boy.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Played straight where Voyager is trapped in orbit over a planet where time moves rapidly, becoming worshiped as a deity by the inhabitants called "the Ground Shaker" as their continued presence causes violent earthquakes. As we see time on the planet progress, the people invent telescopes and come to dub Voyager as "The Sky Ship", which by the time they've entered the Space Age, is no longer believed to be the home of their Gods, but merely an advanced spacecraft that houses alien beings.
  • Save Your Deity: Eventually the inhabitants use their technology (now more advanced than Voyager's) to help them escape being trapped in orbit.
  • The Short War: While the Doctor was on the planet, the Central Protectorate was attacked by a neighboring state and responded in kind. The war only lasted a few weeks before a new treaty was signed.
  • Shout-Out: This episode shares a basic premise with the TOS episode "Wink of an Eye".
  • Temporal Sickness: Moving from one time frame to the other causes severe physiological stress. The Doctor is sent on an away mission to the planet surface as the transition would likely be fatal for anyone else. Later, when the Orbital 1 astronauts board Voyager, Terrina dies from the effects of the transition. Gotana-Retz survives, thanks in part to the Doctor's extensive knowledge of his people's physiology from his time on the planet.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: When he was a child, the astronomer's grandfather told him that the Sky Ship was a palace where an evil protector lived and bad children were sent there as punishment.
  • Time Stands Still: Because of the time differential between Voyager and the planet's residents, the two astronauts who visit the ship, Gotana-Retz and Terrina, see everyone on Voyager moving so slowly that they are virtually standing still. That is, until the astronauts suddenly find themselves moving at the same rate as the ship.
  • Title Drop: By Janeway:
    "Unless we want to live our lives in the blink of an eye, I suggest we find a way out of here."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The race from this episode is never mentioned again, even though you'd expect them to be a Higher-Tech Species within a day given their situation. Given the tendency of beings in Star Trek to evolve into energy beings, this might have happened within the week, explaining why they're never seen again... they went to a higher plane of existence.
    • Another possibility is that nothing special happened: once a civilization is capable of interstellar colonization and diplomacy, they spread their R&D efforts across thousands of populated planets. Competing against such civilizations, like the Federation, a single planet's R&D accelerated by a factor of thousands might progress at a similar or even inferior rate (especially since the exponential growth of interstellar colonization would happen off the Weird Planet and hence at normal speed, and there would (uniquely for them) be no economic reason to fund such colonization because any ROI would take thousands of year-equivalents to happen - which is also why large populations and R&D efforts supported by extraplanetary resource extraction isn't feasible).
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: The planet they are orbiting follows at an approximate rate of a day inside to a second outside.