Friday, September 7, 2012


**** (4 stars out of 5)
15 years ago, in 2356, the Haakonians conquered the Talaxians. This defeat was marked by the death of 300,000 Talaxians on the moon Rinax, including Neelix's family. His mother, his father, and his little brothers.

Rinax went from a balmy world to a frozen wasteland overnight thanks to an appallingly destructive and scientifically fascinating Metrion Cascade designed by Haakonian scientist Ma'bor Jetrel. "Jetrel's Cascade" may sound like something you'd put in your dishwasher, but I cannot in good conscience recommend it.

Cross Dr. Emmett Brown with Sam The American Eagle and you get Jetrel. Dr. Jetrel flags down Voyager to screen Neelix for the disorder metremia, which has caused soldiers and civilians alike to perish ever since. The "lucky" ones died in the blast, and the unlucky charred and mangled survivors suffered much longer. Weeks, for one little girl named Palaxia. Bad enough to be born Palaxia from Talaxia without ending your tiny span of days as a bacon bit.

Jetrel's wife left him years ago for exactly the reasons you'd imagine, and he's dying of metremia. Neelix was drafted back then, but he'd gone AWOL out of cowardice and/or conscientious objection- depending on how you look at it. In his times of self-loathing, he's not too sure himself.

With a modification of the miraculous transporters of Voyager, Jetrel desperately hopes to reintegrate the disintegrated victims of Rinax with DNA records and wide-beam targeting scanners. His government refused funding to this mad plan from a 'Talaxian sympathizer'.  Will Janeway let him try? Can Neelix make peace with his past?

"Jetrel" is another wrenching Trek performance from James Sloyan. They knew they could go to that well for brilliant and tormented characters. For your history lecture today (I know, I KNOW enough with the history, you only watch Star Trek for the boobies.) About 246,000 humans died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6-9 1945. Not as many people as on Rinax, surely, but infinitely more horrible because they were REAL PEOPLE. Although it might be poetic if the guys who came up with the hydrogen bomb died of cancer, as Robert Oppenheimer did, it was throat cancer. Because smoking kills. And real life is rarely poetic.

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