Star Trek: Voyager

Season 1 Episode 15


Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM May 15, 1995 on UPN
out of 10
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Episode Summary


Stardate: 48832.1
The man who designed the weapon that destroyed all life on the moon of Neelix's homeworld, including that of his family, diagnoses Neelix with a fatal illness.

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  • Neelix gets serious

    VOY presents a Hiroshima-like fallout story with Neelix having to confront a scientist whose weapon did his people great harm. It's a stroke of science fiction brilliance, which takes the abstract idea some of our great physicists have had to cope with and turns it into a personal story by forcing the WMD creator and one suffering the consequences to meet each other and come to terms with each other as people. It's the sort of thing Reader's Digest would cover if it happened in real life.

    Truth be told, while the weapon is obviously a stand in for the atomic bomb, the title character, Jetril is quite different than J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who led the Manhattan Project. Oppenheimer, was never broadly criticized for his research and had no regrets about the . using his bomb on Hiroshima, though he thought the attack on Nagasaki was unnecessary. (It's Truman who has taken the brunt of the criticism for those decisions, with a good argument to be made that he didn't try hard enough to resolve the World War II diplomatically during the summer of 1945. It's possible Japan would have conditionally surrendered before the bombs were dropped had the nation been given the same assurances about the treatment of their Emperor that the . gave in to later on. Then again, most people recognize that Japan's fascist government was more concerned about its selfish agenda than its people and understand that it shares much of the blame for what happened as a result).

    Jetril, on the other hand, really owes much to Von Braun, the German scientist whose early rockets Hitler used to destroy much of England and whose later rockets the Americans used to win the Space Race. Von Braun used to say "I aim for the stars". Others would add, "Sometimes I hit

    Needing a mixture of guilt and pride for the part, VOY gives the role to James Sloyan. Having already proved he could handle such emotions as the titular character in TNG's "Defector" and the scientist who discovered Odo in DS9, he's the obvious choice. (You can argue that Star Trek is going to the well once too often and playing it too safe by casting the him once again, but why risk someone else striking out when you know Sloyan's going to hit a homerun?)

    The real star of the episode, however, is Ethan Phillips. With several long speeches intended to pull the heartstrings, the script asks a lot from him, and he delivers. VOY often uses Neelix for comedy more than drama, and it's easy to stereotype the character as Star Trek's version of Jar Jar Binks; but Phillips is capable of much more, and it's exciting to see what he does here with some serious material. Helping enhance Phillips's talents, Dennis McCarthy provides a more sensitive (and memorable) score than VOY is usually known for.

    Unfortunately, an episode that stands out as one of the finest of the series proved to be a ratings dud, garnering the worst numbers of the first season.

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction

    I wish actors had the power to spice up their roles, infused them with more idiosyncrasies. Here Dr. Jetrel is texbook as a Scientist who is guild ridden and thus seeking redemption after his invention makes it possible for weapons of mass destruction destroy the home of Neelix. His character is dull and predictable to someone like me who has devoured the entire Star Trek library, but the episode is redeemed new dimensions given to Neelixs' character and the revelations of his past.

    Still not an episode I'd care to watch again.moreless
  • Jetrel

    Jetrel was a great episode of Star Trek Voyager and I really enjoyed watching this episode because it had a lot of character development for Neelix. When an enemy from the past contacts Voyager Neelix is forced to confront past demons and face the person he believed responsible for the deaths of many of his people including his family. It was nice to get more background on Neelix. The story line was a bit predictable but entertaining never the less. I look forward to watching the next episode of Star Trek Voyager!!!!!moreless
  • Finally in episode 15 the Voyager is allowed to get a bit more serious, and we see some deeper character development as Neelix's back story is revealed.

    Ma'bor Jetrel, the man Neelix holds most directly responsible for destroying all life on his home moon Rinax, comes to Voyager with the news that Neelix might be terminally ill.

    Even though I dislike the actor James Sloyan in his re-occurring visits to Star Trek shows (you might remember him as Dr. Mora in DS9), I tried to let that not irritate me too much in this episode. Here in the role of Jetrel, that seems to be set on finding a cure for a disease that has plagued some of the rescue workers that came to Rinax, James manages to keep us on the toes. Should we trust him or not?

    We are taken through a roller coster ride as Neelix confronts his own demons, and Jetrel gets closer and closer to do what he actually intents.

    This episode takes on an old question; can we blame scientists for inventing horrible tools (Atom bomb for example), for the killing done by those tools. The best achievement for any such show as Star Trek is when it leaves us thinking about the message. Can scientists truly hide behind the fact that they were just following their nature, the holy grail of scientific discoveries, when their invention can be used to kill?

    The break down in this episode is the Captain! Kathryn is still not a strong enough character as it is written in the script. I feel the actress Kate Mulgrew is actually doing amazingly well, but she is made to switch between this all knowing captain to almost a simpleton! In this episode she is totally oblivious to what is going on and just follows her heart rather than her head. I like her better when she is in charge of a situation, and the storyline is not made so thin that the she has to be made a fool of.

    Neelix's troubles are also a bit jumbled up. He has a secret in his life, and ...[spoiler] if I am right, there is a contingency error. When Kes finds out about the horror of his home planet she asks him why he never told her, but when he changes his story later, he apologizes for lying to her for years? But well done episode, and I'm looking forward to checking out the season finale.moreless
  • An inventor of the WMD who killed Neelix family comes onboard.

    A great edpsode, with great acting. Nice to see Neelix in a more serious role for a change, and not as a comical figure. Also, the subject of this episode, the use of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) are an really current topic. more so today than when this episode aired the first time. As a scholar in political science and peace and conflict studies i found it really intesting, and urge everyone to take in the pro and cons mentioned in the episode. We could easilly draw parallels between Jetrel and Albert Einstein who first maked the breakthrue with nucular research. Too bad the ending was quite bad. First, the mention about putting all the dead people back together (rediculus!) and the sudden finish.moreless
James Sloyan

James Sloyan

Dr. Ma'bor Jetrel

Guest Star

Larry Hankin

Larry Hankin

Gaunt Gary

Guest Star

Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett

Computer Voice

Recurring Role

Tarik Ergin

Tarik Ergin

Lt. Ayala

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • This episode features the first time that The Doctor can be seen using the ability to deactivate his own program. The command for doing this is, "Computer, override command 1-EMH-Alpha and end program," but it changes throughout the seven-year run into the shorter "Computer, deactivate EMH program" or "Computer, deactivate EMH."

    • Nitpick: When Neelix and Kes are discussing the Ocampan life span, they say that Ocampas live eight or nine years. However, in previous episodes it is said to be a specific span of nine years.

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Neelix: Hard to believe that on clear nights you could look up from Talax and see the shimmering lights of the colony. The night of the cascade a bright flash cut across the sky. It was so blinding that people threw themselves to the ground. Then everything stopped... like a moment out of time. Then we all looked up to see where the flash had come from, but the sky seemed oddly empty. Took most of us a few seconds to realise, it was because Rinax was... gone.

    • Neelix: That's a sad story, Jetrel. But let me tell you another one. A man goes back to Rinax after the cascade. Back to what had been his home to look for survivors. But the impact of the blast has set off hundreds of fires, and there's nothing there. Just smouldering ruins. The stench of seared flesh. But in the distance, in the middle of all that emptiness, from out of this huge cloud of billowing dust he can see bodies moving. Whimpering. Coming toward him. They're monsters, their flesh horribly charred. The color of shale. One of them comes toward him, mangled arms outstretched and he can't help it, he turns away frightened. But then the thing speaks and he knows by the sound of her voice that she's not a monster at all but a child. A little girl.
      Jetrel: Mister Neelix, I...
      Neelix: Her name was Palaxia. We brought her back to Talax with the other survivors. Over the next few weeks I stayed at her bedside and watched her wither away. Those are consequences, Doctor Jetrel.
      Jetrel: There is no way I can ever apologise to you, Mister Neelix. That's why I have not tried.

    • Neelix: ...because Doctor Jetrel will have to find himself another laboratory rodent to help his experiments. Because I would rather die than help you ease your conscience.
      Jetrel: I do not expect you to like me, Mister Neelix, nor do I hope to allay your obvious pain with moral arguments. But I do believe I can help you. If not you, then others of your race. Isn't that more important than punishing me?

    • Jetrel: I'm simply a scientist. Yes, I developed a weapon. But it was the government and the military leaders who decided to use it, not I.
      Neelix: That must be a very convenient distinction for you. Does it help you sleep at night?
      Jetrel: I slept no worse last night than I have any other night for the past fifteen years.

    • Jetrel: I did what had to be done.
      Neelix: Really? It was necessary to vaporize more than a quarter of a million people and to leave thousands of others to be eaten away by metreon poisoning?
      Jetrel: Would it make any difference if I told you we never thought there would be any radiation poisoning. That anyone close enough to be exposed would be killed by the initial blast. It was unfortunate we were wrong.
      Neelix: Unfortunate?! Did you hear that, Captain? It was 'unfortunate'.

    • (talking about metremia)
      Neelix: If the disease is fatal, what's the point of knowing whether I have it or not?
      Kes: Our doctor is the most skilled physician either of us has ever met. If you have this disease he won't stop until he's found some way to treat it.
      Janeway: And if Jetrel discovers you don't have the disease at least you'll have peace of mind.
      Neelix: Peace of mind is a relative thing, Captain.

    • Neelix: Doctor Jetrel was the scientist who conceived the Metreon Cascade, then he led the team of scientists who built it.
      Janeway: I see.
      Neelix: In the blink of an eye Rinax was enveloped by a deadly cloud and those lovely days were turned into one endless, frigid night. More than three hundred thousand were killed.
      Janeway: But you survived.
      Neelix: I had the good fortune to be on Talax at the time with our defence forces, preparing for an invasion that never came. It wasn't necessary. The day after the cascade was deployed Talax surrendered unconditionally to the Haakonian Order.
      Janeway: And your family? (Neelix shakes his head, eyes filled with tears) I am so sorry.

    • (after Neelix plays a safety with pool)
      Tuvok: Logic would dictate that if I strike the cue ball properly, it will deflect first off the rear bumper, then the side, striking the eleven ball and causing it to roll directly into the corner pocket.
      Paris: This I have to see.
      (Tuvok hits the cue ball, which rolls into a corner pocket)
      Tuvok: Perhaps the ship's stabilizers are not operating at peak efficiency.

    • Jetrel: Something so enormous as science will not stop for something as small as man.

    • Jetrel: It's good to know how the world works. It is not possible to be a scientist unless you believe that all the knowledge of the universe and all the power it bestows is of intrinsic value to everyone. And one must share that knowledge and allow it to be applied, and then be willing to live with the consequences.

    • Neelix: Did you ever think that maybe your wife was right, that you had become a monster?
      Jetrel: The day we tested the Cascade, when I saw that blinding light, brighter than a thousand suns, I knew at that moment exactly what I had become.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Several of Jetrel's lines were based on real life quotes by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the inventors of the atomic bombs used on Japan in WWII.