[VOY] Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Ex Post Facto"

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Timothy W. Lynch

Mar 5, 1995, 12:49:27 PM3/5/95
WARNING: Spoilers for VOY's "Ex Post Facto" lurk within this
article. Anyone not wishing to relive those spoilers again and again
had best turn away now.

In brief: "Voyager"'s first episode to fall pretty firmly flat.

Brief summary: While the Voyager crew works to clear the name of
Tom Paris, Paris himself is forced to relive the murder he's accused of
committing -- from his victim's point of view.

This makes the fourth time, by my reckoning, that Trek has tried to do
a detective story in the past decade or so: DS9 had "Necessary Evil",
which was tremendous, and TNG had "Suspicions" and "A Matter of
Perspective", which weren't. Unfortunately, "Ex Post Facto" has a
lot more in common with the latter two, "A Matter of Perspective" in
particular, and the show as a whole didn't come off particularly well.

One of the parallels between the two is that Paris, like Riker, stood
accused not only of murder, but of murder due to lust for the victim's
wife. While this is a tried and true literary technique, when done
poorly it ends up as nothing more than really soppy melodrama.
"Twin Peaks" had probably the *most* dreadful example I've seen of
this a few years ago with its "James-and-the-blonde" subplot -- and
unfortunately, the vast majority of the dialogue during the various
flashbacks in "Ex Post Facto" reminded me of that plot, in spades.
Phrases like "Don't ... don't get involved" and "Good can get very ...
[breath] ... very ... [breath] ... boring" are so overboard as to be
almost cartoon-like, I think; and any sense of credibility the episode
had was lost when it appeared that all the flashbacks were taken
directly from old daytime soap footage. No, thank you.

Scripting aside, the story had at least one saving grace: the mystery
was not a simple case of "wife kills husband and frames another for
it", as I'd feared as of about a quarter of the way in (right after Kim's
flashback). While I'm not sure I buy into the idea that this elaborate
frame was the only real way to get Tolin's information off the planet
to the Numiri, I can buy it just enough to make the conclusion
somewhat convincing. Tuvok's detective work was fairly methodical
and workable, if not always particularly interesting to watch
(particularly his interview with Lidell; the "sultry goddess" role was
so overwritten that all her poses were rather embarrassingly forced
and blatant), and the somewhat-hyped use of the mind meld also
worked, if somewhat less ritualistic in its beginnings than I'd have

Good use was made of some of the regulars, as well. While Paris
was trapped in a godawful script, Neelix got to actually be useful to
the crew -- his advice and observations were, for once, fairly on-target
and effective in getting *us* to wonder what was going on
[particularly his "In Numiri terms, that greeting was downright
_friendly_" line, I think].
As for Chakotay, his exchanges with Janeway during the first Numiri
attack made for one of the few really entertaining moments of the
show -- while I'd still prefer to see the tension that must exist between
the two crews dealt with from time to time, at least we had an
acknowledgment of different styles here -- and jokingly or not, we
also saw some evidence that all may not be well if the crew ever
*does* get home. [I particularly liked the exchange right after their
feint works: "That's one trick you won't be able to use when we get
back." "I have more." Grin.]

Once Tuvok had figured out what was going on, the double resolution
was a half-and-half affair. The trap to lure in the Numiri was well
done (except for the one intense close-up on Janeway, which I found
very off-putting and forced), with some apt dialogue. The "get all the
suspects in one room and reveal everything" scene on the planet,
however, didn't work at all -- particularly the surprise [?] use of the
dog as witness. This makes twice we've seen dogs as central to Trek
mysteries; the other was "Aquiel", which combined with this suggests
that they're viciously bad luck.

All in all, then, while the story of "Ex Post Facto" was a bit on the
cliched side, it would have been okay if not for the Execution From
Hell [tm]. The awful dialogue given to Paris and Lidell throughout
the show, combined with directing far weaker than what LeVar
Burton's done in the past ["Second Chances" and "The Pegasus" were
both well done], undercuts almost any strength the show had, to the
point that one really just wanted to get it over with.

Given that, I've really not much else to say about the show. So, a
few short takes:

-- Starting the show in the middle of things was a good idea, but I
almost wonder if it wouldn't have been even stronger to have us see
Harry's return *before* we know anything about Paris. There might
have been a real sense of "whoa, what the heck's going on?" about it.

-- The "find a name" scene for the doctor was cute so far as it went,
but I hope it doesn't last more than about another episode. Let's get it
done. ["Doctor ... Spock", however, was priceless.]

-- The show was written (primarily, anyway) by Evan Carlos Somers,
who was also responsible for DS9's "Melora". This does not seem a
promising track record, alas. (Then again, Peter Allan Fields's first
Trek work was "Cost of Living", and *he* certainly improved quite a

-- Tolin was a somewhat stereotypical scientist, but I've been around
enough of them that are like him that I'm prepared to call him semi-
realistic. :-) [For those wondering where they've seen the actor
before, by the way, Ray Reinhardt appeared ages ago as Admiral
Aaron back in TNG's "Conspiracy".]

-- I have a somewhat hard time believing that Tuvok's been married
67 years. That would make him 74 (assuming he means since the
betrothal) -- and even though Vulcans are long-lived, Tuvok looks too
young to be *that* old.

-- The effects during the initial Numiri attack are quite good,
particularly their "regenerative shields". Nicely done.

-- The final scene between Paris and Tuvok seemed good. While
Paris's dialogue was nothing to speak of, Tim Russ definitely has
Vulcan mannerisms down; the last shot of him sitting and reading
struck me as one of the few true notes the show struck.

That about covers it; this was really VOY's first full-fledged flop
(how's THAT for alliteration? :-) ), and it's a shame it's the last one
before a rerun break. Ah, well.

So, wrapping up:

Writing: A reasonable plot, but wrapped up in a wretched script. Too
Directing: Paris's visions were reasonable, as was most of the ship-
based stuff, but the planet-bound stuff played like bad film
Acting: Tim Russ managed to rise above the material, and Beltran
lucked out by not being trapped in the script. Other than that,
nothing to speak of.

OVERALL: Call it a 3.5. Not a total bomb, but not a pleasant
prospect either.

NEXT WEEK: A rerun of "Time and Again". [Gee, from one T&A
show to another ... so to speak. :-) ]

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"Not to belittle Maquis tactics, Commander, but this is a very old
"It worked against those Starfleet runabouts."
"You're lucky I wasn't commanding one of them."
-- Janeway and Chakotay
Copyright 1995, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...
This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net
compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the
author*. Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.

Christopher Bradford Stone

Mar 6, 1995, 10:16:10 AM3/6/95
In article <3jctj7$k...@gap.cco.caltech.edu>,

>This makes the fourth time, by my reckoning, that Trek has tried to do
>a detective story in the past decade or so: DS9 had "Necessary Evil",
>which was tremendous, and TNG had "Suspicions" and "A Matter of
>Perspective", which weren't.

Don't forget _Star Trek VI_, which I think was also billed as a murder
////// // // ////// // ////// Christopher B. Stone
// ////// ///// // ///
// // // // // // /// "Consensus is the negation
////// // // // // // ////// of leadership." -Margaret Thatcher

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