Oh god, why? Let’s review Star Trek: Voyager’s Threshold; the 15th episode from season two, and one of the worst Trek episodes ever.
We open up with Tom Paris testing out his new trans-warp engine. Things aren’t going well as he explodes and dies. Thankfully it was only a simulation, being overseen by Henry Kim and B’elanna Torres. They all look disappointed, no way this ends badly.
Cut to the mess hall where Neelix, with the education of a freshmen auto tech student, is able to solve the greatest challenge facing the trio’s attempt to hit Warp 10. The gang takes the test results over to Captain Janeway and she’s beaming like a teacher on the last day of school. We get a Zephyrim Cochrann namedrop and a jab at Paris’s ego and the worst mistake in Voyager history is officially off and running.
Paris, in his finest Hugh Hefner robe, is told almost immediately after the good news that he’s off the flight due to an enzyme issue in his brain. Paris protests and Janeway relents. What a waste of five minutes. This never comes up again but does serve to show Paris’ commitment to doing stupid things.
Paris takes the shuttle out and hits Warp 10, but immediately disappears and Voyager loses contact. He could be anywhere in the universe or going through a tunnel. His return leads to the best moment in the show, where after being taken to sickbay because he’s unconscious, Janeway asks the Doctor if he can wake Paris. The Doctor doesn’t see why not, and leans in….and shouts “Wake up, Lieutenant!” God, I love the Doctor.
Eventually, Paris starts to transform and is rushed back to sickbay. The second best line of the episode comes at this point.
"Doctor: “What did he ingest?”B’elanna: “Just a cup of Neelix’s coffee.”Doctor: “It’s a miracle he’s still alive.”"
The Doctor is so damn sassy. He also reveals that Paris is mutating. Gee, thanks. After an attempt to save Paris’ life is unsuccessful, during which Paris reveals when he lost his virginity and wants his eulogy to be about how he became a radiated-mutant, he dies. Well, “dies”. It’s Star Trek after all. Only comic books do more fake-outs when it comes to death.
Paris somehow wakes up and then challenges the notion that his new transformation isn’t a good thing. Paris’ makeup design makes him look like Neelix if Neelix had a skin condition. Some new hair brain idea is brought on how to fix Paris, but at this point, he’s nearly full salamander and by George, he’s 32 kinds of ugly. Paris breaks out, kidnaps Janeway, and trans-warps away with her.
Three days later, they’re found on an uninhabited planet where they’re now salamanders or future-humans. One of the two is right but they’re both so very wrong. They’re found with three salamander babies and even Chakotay and Tuvok can’t believe what they’re seeing.
"Chakotay: I don’t know how I’m going to enter this into the log.Tuvok: I look forward to reading it."
So many sassy lines. Even the in-universe characters knew this was a stupid plot. Chakotay leaves the babies behind, while Paris and Janeway are reverted back to normal. There are some deep introspective thoughts from Paris about what truly makes someone special and has doubts about his trans-warp flight, which shows growth. Too bad it’s sandwiched in this proverbial hellscape.
Let’s go to the scores.
Acting: Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil) and B’leanna (Roxann Dawson) really do shine despite the content, and Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) is always at her best when she’s being magnanimous and understanding.
Writing: The main plot is trash, but there’s a lot of great self-doubt and anxiety portrayed by Paris that holds up, plus the blossoming romance between Paris and B’leanna is starting to take shape around this time, granted in worried looks but it’s there.
Design: Gross, ew, never again with Salamander Paris.
Special Effects: See Design. Granted, if they were going for a gross-out, they did their job.
Enjoyability: Hard pass.
Overall: 13/25 (52%)
There are some redeeming moments in this episode, like the stuff with Paris and B’leanna, Janeway trying to level with Paris’ anxiety and insecurities, Tuvok and the Doctor just being plain ol’ sassy but it’s not enough. This is truly the pits.
I can’t wait for the Delta Flyer’s podcast to cover this in two weeks.