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Star Trek: Voyager

Season 2 Episode 15


Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Jan 29, 1996 on UPN
out of 10
User Rating
217 votes

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Episode Summary


Stardate: 49373.4
Tom Paris begins evolving into a higher organism after achieving warp 10 in an experimental shuttle.

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  • An embarassment

    In the 1990s, Michael De Luca was a pop culture visionary. Be it, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, or Austin Powers, De Luca, as president of production at New Line Cinema, was the guy behind the scenes who made them happen and the guy who turned TV stars Jim Carrey and Mike Myers into box office commodities. New Line producer Mark Ordesky once told me, "At New Line, we couldn't make traditional star-driven films. We were not a company that was going to get access to Tom Cruise. The star-driven vehicles were going to go to Paramount, or Warner or one of the more traditional studios before us. So Mike De Luca, who was president of production during the time of nearly all the hits you're describing, realized that what you needed to do if you didn't have giant movie stars to create opening weekends was to be right on the leading edge of pop culture. You needed to know what motivated audiences apart from just the traditional elements. He used to say, 'We can't afford stars. We need to create stars'. And the way you did that was you take a new or distinctive idea and give it to talented people so that it becomes greater than the sum of its parts"

    Yet alongside all his homeruns, De Luca also had his share of strikeouts. In 2001 he was fired from New Line for flushing away millions on projects that never bore fruit.

    Stepping back a few years, in 1995 De Luca contributed to Star Trek with disastrous results. It's not all his fault. The VOY writing staff added some poorly thought out additions of their own. Basically, "Threshold" is a jumble of ideas tossed into one pot. There's Star Trek's version of the breaking of the sound barrier, the plot of "The Fly", and bits from TOS's "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and TNG's "Identity Crisis" all thrown together. The end result makes "Spock's Brain" look like intelligent science fiction.

    It's a Tom Paris episode, and teleplay writer Braga tries to develop it around the notion of Paris searching for redemption, though the point is largely lost in the shuffle (or mess). The real thrust of the plot is an effort to illustrate the idea that evolution isn't really about the development of more intelligent or socially savvy species but is instead about survival of the fittest (with the fittest being those who are able to have the most offspring live to reproduce). Unfortunately, as Star Trek is prone to do, the episode attempts to distill the idea down to an individual, taking all the sense out of it. Some other episodes (like TNG's "Genesis") get away with it because they use the junk science as a conceit to tell an interesting story; but here, it is the story, and thus results in some very confusing explanations and an ending that's too implausible for even science fiction.

    Ironically, "Threshold" won an Emmy for make-up (beating out DS9's "The Visitor") and was even commemorated by Playmates Toys with a mutant Tom Paris action figure. As an episode, however, it's probably the worst of the series... and arguably the franchise.

  • SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF TO MAXIMUM, CAPTAIN ! Forget everything you know about Star Trek, science, and common sense, and this might not be so bad.

    "I'm sorry". - Brannon Braga

    It's ok, Mr. Braga, we forgive you.

    This episode wasn't even that bad as I watched it (until the very end, anyway...). It wasn't until a few minutes later I realized that this episodes violated the continuity of most of the rest of Star Trek in general. I mean, the warp 10 thing makes no sense at all - what makes warp 10 so different from warp 9 or 11 ? It's 1X the speed of light that's the big deal. Plus, don't the Borg go faster than Warp 10 all the time ? Is that why they're all so ugly ? Didn't the Enterprise do it a bunch of times, including in ST4, 'The Voyage Home' ? And aren't we talking about occupying space, not time ? What's with the whole mega-evolution thing ? Are we all destined to become really gross looking and eventually turn into lizards (What the hell, Braga?) ? That really doesn't seem like the final rung on the evolutionary ladder. And then the solution, oh lord, the solution. "The DNA will just rewrite... itself". Even Picardo had trouble making that one sound believable. Ok, that's enough, I'm getting mad again.moreless
  • Threshold

    Threshold was a fair episode of Star Trek: Voyager and I enjoyed watching this episode because there was a lot of intriguing science and the story was pretty good. Tom Paris succeeded in breaking the Transwarp Threshold though it had consequences for him. The concept was amazing as going Warp 10 or beyond is basically like being God because you are at infinite velocity and you are everywhere all at the same time in the entire Time SpaceContinuum and beyond. It was cool that Paris was able to earn honor for his name. I look forward to watching the next episode of Star Trek: Voyager!!!!!moreless
  • Spock's Brain in the Delta Quadrant...

    I have been a fan on all the "Trek" series, In the past couple of months, I have been buying Voyager, I already have all DS9 seasons. In my opinion, each and every Star Trek series has it's own version of "Spocks Brain" Which is considered to be about the worst episode of any Star Trek ever.

    However, consider how hard it must be to put out a even just a good episode week in and week out. Not to put to fine of a point on it, however, this episode is the Spocks Brain of Voyager.

    All that aside, I since I have been watching more Voyager in the past few weeks, I have a new affection for the series and the crew that I did not have even during it run from 1995-2001. So besides, this one example of shoddy writing...VOYAGER ROCKS !!!!!!!moreless
  • Paris and the engineering team are conducting holodeck simulations to study the theory on passing Warp 10. Paris will be using a modified shuttlecraft with a transwarp drive. It takes two attempts and then Paris is successful.moreless

    Paris and the engineering team are conducting holodeck simulations to study the theory on passing Warp 10. Paris will be using a modified shuttlecraft with a transwarp drive. It takes two attempts and then Paris is successful. Now for the real test, Paris will use the Shuttlecraft Cochrane to break Warp 10. The test commences. The “Voyager” is not able to keep up with Paris. Paris does break Warp 10 threshold , but disappears. Now where is he? He reappears minutes later. For the record Tom Eugene Paris is the first person ever to break the warp threshold.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Nitpick: The Doctor describes Paris' mutations as being the product of normal human evolution, simply speeded up. However, evolution is the adaptation of the species to one's environment- why would an oxygen breathing species shift to one that breathes nitrogen as part of the evolutionary process when doing so endangers his life within his current habitat on Voyager?

    • Nitpick: Despite being dead, Paris can be seen gently breathing after The Doctor removes the cortical stimulator from his forehead.

    • Nitpick: In the final scene in sickbay, Paris says that he and Janeway had "alien offspring". However, they were supposed to have evolved, not changed species. They were always as much Earthly as Chakotay or Kim, just more (d)evolved.

    • Nitpick: When Tom begins exhibiting the effects of his mutation, a medical team is called for. Throughout the rest of the series, no such medical team appears to exist, to the extent that Tom himself has to pull shifts in sickbay after Kes leaves.

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Paris: For a moment, I was everywhere. I mean, everywhere, Captain. With the Kazon, back home with the Klingons, other galaxies, it was all there!

    • Paris: Maybe we've been looking in the wrong place. What if the nacelles aren't being torn from the ship; what if the ship is being torn from the nacelles?
      Kim: The hull of the shuttle is made of tritanium alloy. At the speeds we're talking about, that alloy could depolarize...
      Paris: And create a velocity differential! The fuselage would be traveling at a faster rate of speed than the nacelles!
      Kim: That means we just have to set up a depolarization matrix around the fuselage!
      Paris: That's it! Neelix, you're a genius!
      Neelix: I have no idea what they just said.

    • Kim: In principle, if you were ever to reach warp 10, you'd be traveling at infinite velocity.
      Neelix: Infinite velocity, got it. So, that means very fast.

    • The Doctor: From what I can tell, he's just asleep.
      Janeway: Can you wake him?
      The Doctor: I don't see why not. WAKE UP, LIEUTENANT!

    • Kim: We've hit a wall.
      Neelix: Well, maybe I can help.
      Paris: Great. You know anything about quantum warp theory or multispectral subspace engine design?
      Neelix: No, but I'm a quick study.

    • Paris: Here lies Thomas Eugene Paris. Beloved mutant.
      The Doctor: A fitting epitaph, but I don't intend on letting you use it just yet.
      Kes: Radiometric emitters are charged and ready.
      The Doctor: Begin with 45 rads per second.
      Paris: Great... now it'll read 'radioactive mutant.'

    • Paris: You're losing me, aren't you? I'm going to die.
      The Doctor: You're too stubborn to die, Mr. Paris.

    • The Doctor: It looks like he's having an allergic reaction. What did he ingest?
      B'Elanna: Just some of Neelix's coffee.
      The Doctor: It's a miracle he's still alive.

    • The Doctor: You're not going anywhere. At least not for a few hours. I have some tests I'd like to run on Your Majesty before I release you back into the realm of ordinary humans.
      Paris: You may proceed.

    • Paris: I lost my virginity in that room. 17, parents were away for the weekend...
      The Doctor: Uh... I'll note that in your medical file.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Brannon Braga cites this episode as the worst Star Trek episode he ever wrote. Kate Mulgrew also said that "Threshold" was the episode of Star Trek: Voyager she was most uncomfortable with, noting that she didn't like the thought of mating with Paris as a lizard.

    • In 1996, the episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Makeup for a Series. It beat out the DS9 episode "The Visitor", which was nominated in the same category.


    • The changes that Janeway and Paris go through harken back to the Next Generation "Identity Crisis", during which the physiology of Geordi LaForge and a former colleague is altered during an away mission.