Star Trek: Voyager's "Ex Post Facto" gets an undeserved bad rep

One of Tom Paris' first focused adventure has a bad rep that needs to end.
2018 Star Trek Convention Las Vegas
2018 Star Trek Convention Las Vegas / Albert L. Ortega/GettyImages

Musicals; good, crime dramas bad? That's the sentiments some Star Trek fans have when it comes to Star Trek: Voyager's "Ex Post Facto". It's the seventh episode in Voyager's history, and it sees Tom Paris being accused of murder, after starting an affair with a married alien woman. It's not your typical Star Trek premise, but it's one episode that I thought came off well.

The man behind Tom Paris, Robert Duncan McNeill hated the episode. Series producer Jeri Taylor also hated it, as it felt too much like a crime-drama as opposed to a Star Trek series. Yet, then-showrunner Michael Piller seemed to love it, which is why it was shot in the first place.

I tend to agree with Piller, as it works for a variety of reasons. Firstly, we have the question of cruel and unusual punishment. Paris, as punishment for allegedly killing the husband of a woman he was having an affair with, is forced to live out the death of the man he killed once every 14 hours. Making a normal life all but impossible.

Secondly, we get the challenge of memories in crime cases. Ask anyone who's ever tried to solve a crime or act as a lawyer for or against a suspect; the least reliable evidence is eyewitness testimonies. Our memories are often wrong, as specific details are just not focused on. This causes recall issues. A great film that tackles this concept is My Cousin Vinny, go watch it. Throughout several key trial scenes, several witnesses were shown to have misremembered or forgotten key aspects of the crime in question.

Star Trek did the same thing, but with less comedy.

Third and finally, the episode tackles the growth of Paris as a man. Having been recruited from a penal colony at the start of the show, Paris has a reputation him that he's trying to shake. Thus, making the events of the episode far more believable, as Paris has a history to him that makes him unlikable and untrustworthy. It's an image he sheds throughout the show, but early on it was used expertly to set up the episode in question.

Give Voyager's "Ex Post Facto" a shot and see if you like it. Just keep an open mind.