"Time and Again" Plot Summary:
Voyager picks up readings of a disaster from a nearby planet, as Kes wakes with a vision of horror about its inhabitants. When they arrive, they find the entire population dead - victims of their own polaric energy, a highly unstable source of power. Janeway and Paris fall into a subspace rift and disappear from sight of the rest of the away team; they find themselves hours in the past, before the disaster which will devastate all life on the planet.
While Chakotay has Kim and Torres set to work on finding a way to reach the captain and helsman, using Kes's telepathic abilities as a guide, Janeway and Paris disguise themselves and seek a means to access the polaric energy conduits which might provide a power source to get them back to their own time. Paris thinks they should warn the people about the impending disaster, but Janeway cites the Prime Directive and tells him that they can't interfere. The two are inadvertently involved in a skirmish between the authorities and demonstrators who oppose polaric energy, and end up being taken hostage by the resistance, whose leaders believe that they are spies from the government.
The demonstrators try to use Janeway as a hostage to break into a power plant, but she resists. Paris is shot protecting a child in the ensuing struggle, and Janeway enters the plant in pursuit of the demonstrators, whom she thinks are saboteurs and likely responsible for the disaster which she now feels responsible for, since they changed their plans after taking herself and Paris hostage. Once inside, she demands that they stop whatever they have planned, but an energy beam from Voyager which is trying to locate them interrupts her.
Janeway realizes that her own ship's rescue attempt will cause the disaster that destroys the planet, and uses her phaser to stop it. When she does, time resets as if the entire incident had never happened. Voyager passes by the planet, Kes comes onto the bridge and discovers that her nightmare was only a nightmare.
This episode felt very much like a TNG episode recycled for use as a Voyager episode; there was nothing terribly original about the plot, and Janeway reciting the letter of the Prime Directive sounded a lot like Picard giving the same speech. This episode also really doesn't count for anything, since none of the events which took place exist in the canonical timeline.
Still, there was some valuable character work. I enjoyed getting to see Chakotay in charge for awhile, and I particularly liked that he didn't dismiss Kes's intuition from the start as Picard probably would have done until he got some sort of proof that she really had extraordinary abilities. His command style reminds me of Picard's - sit back and listen to everyone's suggestions, then give approval when most of the crew comes to a consensus - and I'm glad the tension between him and Tuvok isn't going to be dropped right off. I liked listening to them disagree about Janeway and her logic, and I was pleased to see that Chakotay was right.
We don't learn much about Tom Paris here except that he gets along well with children - we already knew he didn't like his stodgy Starfleet father. But we do get to see some of Janeway's resourcefulness. I very much liked the ending, when she had to work alone to stop a disaster she believed her own crew was responsible for, very much like her decision to intervene in "Caretaker"; it's always illuminating to see what the captain is like when the crew isn't around. This one clearly isn't dependent on her underlings for support or advice, and is very comfortable giving orders even to strangers. It was also sort of nice to see her with her hair down - literally.
Nothing great, but not a bad episode for early in the show's run - better than a lot of first season DS9, at least, though I have to wonder whether Voyager is going to divert from a course home to investigate every disaster they come across. It could be a long trip.