B'Elanna finds herself mixed up with a community theater group, which allows Voyager to get a little meta.
B'Elanna Torres crashes the Delta Flyer
on a planet with a Bronze Age civilisation. She is discovered by Kelis, a playwright who mistakes her for a mythical being called an Eternal. Kelis starts writing a play based on her Captain's Log
, hoping to woo the proud ruler of his city-state away from war. The two form an awkward alliance, with B'Elanna trying to fix the Flyer
and Kelis struggling to write his play.
Not to be confused with the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Muse".
This episode has the following tropes:
- All Part of the Show: When B'Elanna herself steps onto the stage, Lanya denounces her to everyone as an Eternal. Some quick improv by Chorus Guy convinces the Autarch of this trope, and no-one dares contradict him.
- Ancient Astronauts: It's implied Eternals are spacefaring aliens who've visited the planet in the past. Kelis says they have "The power to make the ground open up and the sky to fall — all the strange events sung by the ancient poets." Certainly Voyager can make the ground open with a photon torpedo or phaser volley, and the sky fall by having a main character take out a shuttlecraft on a routine mission near a Conveniently Close Planet.
- An Aesop: Kelis knows what message he wants to send; the problem is how to put it in a form that will make his ruler take it to heart.
- And the Adventure Continues: At the end of the episode B'Elanna beams up to Voyager in front of the astonished audience, and Kelis gives the Final Speech of his play.
These stories will continue for as long as we have the breath to tell them, and as long as our patrons remain wise and compassionate. And Voyager
will continue on her journey to the gleaming cities of Earth
where peace reigns, and hatred has no home.
- Aside Comment: In the play Seven of Nine does this for The Reveal that she's actually the Queen of the Borg, plotting revenge against Captain Janeway. "Say nothing, or you too will be assimilated." Once she leaves the stage Captain Janeway does the same, telling the audience she knows Seven's true identity and is planning a Batman Gambit. "Say nothing, or I will lose my advantage
and my ship as well."
- Beneath the Mask: Captain Janeway looks distraught when it appears Harry Kim didn't survive.
- Big Damn Heroes: After hiking 200 kilometers across country, Harry turns up with the transmitter component B'Elanna needs to let Voyager know where they are.
B'Elanna: Harry Kim saves the day. Just the ending I was looking for.
- But Now I Must Go: In the final scene of his play, Kelis asks B'Elanna (the real one) to stay and continue to be his muse. B'Elanna replies that Voyager needs her, and he has all the inspiration he needs.
- Call-Back: To "Worst Case Scenario" with its arguments over the writing process and Leaning on the Fourth Wall humor.
- Cassandra Truth:
- Lanya denounces B'Elanna as an Eternal no-one believes her.
- According to Kelis' first play, Harry advised B'Elanna to turn back to Voyager on hitting the subspace eddies, but she pressed on regardless.
- Chief Engineer Crash: Headstrong B'Elanna Torres wrecks the Delta Flyer.
- Composite Character: In-Universe. The play depicts Seven as the Borg Queen.
- Conveniently Close Planet: Justified; B'Elanna and Harry were searching for dilithium, and there's a deposit on the world where she crashes.
- Cool Old Guy: The unnamed old guy who leads the Chorus; even a real Eternal ascending to the heavens in front of him doesn't throw off his ability to Improv!
- Denser and Wackier: The Voyager crew are mythologized as hammy, horny Greek gods!
- Deus ex Machina: B'Elanna Torres provides one for Kelis, who's short of a dramatic ending for his play.
- Stealth Pun: Kelis finds B'Elanna in the wreck of the Delta Flyer and believes her to be an Eternal, which, in effect, makes her a "god from the machine."
- Discussed Trope: In-Universe; Kelis gets into an argument with one of his older cast members, who doesn't like the 'tricks' playwrights use to move their audience as opposed to finding the truth of the story.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- Downer Ending: Again In-Universe
- Dramatic Necklace Removal: The Autarch casually plucks a jewel from his Hot Consort and tosses it to Kelis as a reward for his first play.
- Dramatic Thunder: B'Elanna wants Kelis to get dilithium from the Autarch's hunting grounds. As he'd be executed if found there, Kelis is understandably reluctant. At that moment a coincidental roll of thunder sounds. Kelis' eyes widen as he says, "Did you...?" B'Elanna plays it beautifully, leaning forward and saying with menace, "Don't get caught."
- Escape Pod: There's one on the Delta Flyer (as established two episodes before in "Good Shepherd"), but only with the resources to survive ten days — Janeway only discovers Harry had to eject ten days after this happened. We later find that Harry followed the Flyer's warp trail, rather than try to get back to Voyager.
- Faceless Goons: The Autarch has two helmeted bodyguards.
- Flanderization: The protagonists in Kelis' play are all defined by a single characteristic. Headstrong B'Elanna Torres, Young Harry Kim, Logical Tuvok, Captain Janeway versus Seven of Nine aka the Queen of the Borg. This fits with the classic Greek play vibe of the episode, e.g. "Wise Penelope" from The Odyssey.
- Foreshadowing: Kelis complains of the lack of drama in his play. "Where is the mistaken identity, the discovery, the sudden reversal? Mistaken identity — a character who is someone else. Discovery — the moment when that identity is revealed. Reversal — a situation that turns from good to bad in a blink of an eye." All of these events happen to Kelis and B'Elanna.
- Giant Wall of Watery Doom
Chorus: A wave as high as a mountain struck the Delta Flyer...
- God Guise: Downplayed in that the crew inspire a play as opposed to a religion. The locals view of Eternals is of powerful beings to be wary of, rather than gods to be worshipped. For instance Kelis warns B'Elanna that if the Autarch captures her, he will force her to fight his enemies.
- The Great Repair: B'Elanna can't fix the Delta Flyer, but she does succeed in making a transmitter.
- Greek Chorus: In their traditional role as The Narrator.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Lanya walks off in a huff when Kelis introduces B'Elanna as another poet. When she discovers the truth she's even more upset; how can she compete with an Eternal, who might well be the very B'Elanna Torres her lover is obsessed over? She begs B'Elanna to leave and threatens to expose her if she turns up at the performance.
- Ice Queen: Lanya has trouble enacting Seven's haughty demeanour.
Kelis: No, no, no, no!
Seven of Nine is a Borg
— the scourge of the Eternals. You're portraying her like a shy bride on her wedding night!
- Infinite Supplies: Averted; Delta Flyer crashes, but is presumably recovered as always. The mission itself was a search for dilithium.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The entire episode is this for Voyager's writers, perhaps even Star Trek writing as a whole.
- The Men First: In Kelis' first play Headstrong B'Elanna Torres orders Young Harry Kim to Abandon Ship while she pilots the Delta Flyer on the verge of a warp core breach. He refuses, saying "We die together." B'Elanna replies, "No-one is going to die — go!"
- Most Writers Are Writers
- Mr. Fixit: Lampshaded by B'Elanna. "I'm an engineer — I fix things." She finds herself unable to repair the Flyer however — the alloy component Kelis tries to have made using local craftsmen has too many impurities. Then Harry turns up with an emergency transmitter, enabling her to construct a rudimentary Subspace Ansible.
- The Muse: B'Elanna for Kelis.
- Muse Abuse: Seven of Nine (whom B'Elanna always finds annoying) is the villain of the play, seducing Tom Paris and plotting to destroy Captain Janeway. In fairness B'Elanna isn't taking the play very seriously and much of this is likely Kelis' idea for Rule of Drama.
- The Needless: After forgoing sleep to search for their missing crewman (he is, after all, Vulcan, and can go for weeks without sleep) Tuvok falls asleep on the bridge, snoring loudly.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Real Voyager as opposed to Fan Fic Voyager. Delightfully averted when Harry turns up, having been presumed death for most of the episode; B'Elanna gives him a big hug.
- Not So Above It All: B'Elanna gradually gets swept up in Kelis' enthusiasm, delaying her own rescue to provide him with the dramatic ending he wanted.
- Obscured Special Effects: When B'Elanna walks on stage and announces that she's going to ascend in a dazzling blaze of light, the elderly Chorus Guy quickly improvs the line "On a far-away snow-covered peak", no doubt with this trope in mind.
- Oh Crap, There Are Fanfics of Us!: Kelis' muse is not amused by the blatant Shipping he writes into the crew relationships.
- Overworked Sleep: Tuvok, you really should've had a nap or something. Then you wouldn't be falling asleep in front of the crew, in the captain's chair.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Kelis introduces B'Elanna as a poet from across the Eastern sea, even though she's got a different kind of forehead. Presumably his fellow performers just assume everyone from the mysterious East looks like that.
- The Power of Love: Kelis thinks that by filling the play with romance, his patron's heart will be filled with love instead of anger. B'Elanna points out that it's not that simple — from the Autarch's point-of-view he's surrounded by hostile enemies, so love is the last thing on his mind. Coming from one half of Voyager's Official Couple this might not be convincing to fans, but it does apply to Captain Janeway who deals with a life-threatening crisis every week.
- Prime Directive
B'Elanna: What exactly do you want to know?
B'Elanna: It's not possible. We Eternals have our rules. We can't just... give everything away.
- Reaction Shot: The expressions shown by the Autarch as he watches the play show it is making an impact, but as everyone knows a bad ending could still ruin everything.
- Reality Ensues: After asking Kelis for a piece of alloy to fix the Delta Flyer, B'Elanna is disappointed that the metal made with presumably primitive technology has too many impurities to be of any use.
- Self-Insert Fic: The Autarch assumes this is why Kelis had himself finding a dying B'Elanna after she crashed.
- Shipper On Stage: Kelis proudly shows off Voyager's first on-screen J/C Fan Fic.
Tanis-Janeway: The privilege of your touch.
- The Show Must Go Wrong: By performance time Kelis still hasn't thought up an ending to his play and his patron turns up in foul mood. When B'Elanna arrives to save the show, his jealous lover publicly denounces her to his patron.
- Space Is an Ocean: Literally as a poet who doesn't even know about Outer Space tries to put what he's heard into Layman's Terms his audience can understand. The Delta Flyer becomes a sailing vessel swamped by a huge wave. Voyager is a great ship searching for the beautiful island of Earth, after being blown off course by a storm.
- Spear Over Head: In the play's climax Captain Janeway refuses to kill the Queen of the Borg, throwing aside her spear for a Patrick Stewart Speech on the futility of their Cycle of Revenge.
- The Stoic: Kelis gets into an argument with Jero, who portrays Logical Tuvok shedding a tear over his absent friends.
Kelis: The land of Vulcan has no laughter, and it has no tears. It is a very quiet place. Calm, just like Tuvok.
Jero: I can't believe that.
Kelis: You don't have to, just don't cry.
Jero: The audience won't believe it either. They'll either think Tuvok is an unfeeling monster, or that I am a bad performer.
Kelis: They'll realise that beneath your unfeeling exterior is a heart that's breaking. Silently, and in more pain than any of us can possibly understand, because that's what it is to be Vulcan!
- Swiss Cheese Security: Kelis is able to play the Captain's Log. Admittedly the Flyer is smashed up, damaging who-knows-what security systems, and the log was probably running when the shuttle crashed.
- Take That, Audience!: Against Fan Fic with its constant Shipping. They're too busy for romance, OK? Just forget about that Generation Ship suggestion in Season Two.
- Tastes Like Friendship: B'Elanna's initial response to Kelis' desire for inspiration is to drive him away at phaser point. But knowing B'Elanna hasn't eaten for a while, he just returns the next day with some berries that break down her resistance.
Kelis: Tell me about Earth.
B'Elanna: I have to sing for my supper, huh?
Kelis: We all do, in one way or another.
- A Threesome Is Hot: But not hot enough; B'Elanna tells Kelis he'll have to do better than Harry kissing the Delaney sisters to win his patron over.
- The Unreveal: What effect did Kelis' play have on his society?
- The Woman Wearing The Captain's Mask: The performers playing Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay put aside their drama masks to kiss. Cut to Voyager where the real Janeway and Chakotay maintain their distance.
- Waking Non Sequitur:
Paris: (whispering to Tuvok, asleep in the captain's chair) Tuvok. Tuvok.
Tuvok: (startled awake) As you were!
- Worst Aid: Kelis cuts B'Elanna to release the heat of her fever. She insists he let her use a dermal regenerator instead.
- Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: In-Universe. Kelis has only one week to write and perform a play that will please his patron. By the time of performance he doesn't have an ending, and his actors point out that they won't have time to learn it anyway.