Roundtable Voyager: S01E11 – State of Flux

Roundtable Voyager: S01E11 – State of Flux

Seth – In terms of the overall plot, I thought the revelation that the stolen technology was a replicator was an interesting wrinkle.

Ryan – How so? It seemed like they might have tried to twist it into the explanation for Seska’s betrayal… compassion for the enemy, so to speak. But once they revealed it was one of the food replicators I didn’t see the value they got out of having it be replicator technology as opposed to something else.

Seth – For one, it underscores the vast difference in technological development between the Delta and Alpha quadrants. Practically every major space-faring species in the Alpha quadrant uses replicators. For another  (and they don’t elaborate in the episode, but if you think about it…) a food replicator makes a huge difference in logistics. Imagine how much space/mass their starships have to waste carrying food and water supplies for an extended space voyage.

Ryan – Janeway hints at that when she notes how it could completely tip the balance of power in the system. I guess I’m missing why replicators specifically out of any other Star Fleet technology was picked, but your points are making sense.

Seth – It’s also a canny choice in how it’s capable of tipping the balance of power, but it’s unlikely to have a big impact on their ability to threaten Voyager in particular.

Ryan – Sort of like sending 3D printing back into the 40s.

Seth – Exactly, and probably easier to make and sneak off on the sly than something more conventionally dangerous like weapons or shield technology.

Ryan – Replicators have definitely been one of the more focused on technologies this season as well, driving Janeway to hunt for coffee and Paris to lament his tomato soup options, among other instances.

Seth – It’s a contrast, because by the time you’ve watched a bunch of TNG, replicators seem utterly commonplace, so it’s interesting that they chose to highlight them so much.

Tim – Yeah, I don’t think I ever considered how important replicators are to, well, everything until watching Voyager. And correct me if I’m wrong here, but was that sort of technology usually stored on a Bridge?

Seth – Not usually; they’re usually seen in people’s quarters or in dining areas. There’s one in Ops in DS9. That’s significant because it creates an automated phaser turret when they accidentally trip an old Cardassian security program.

Tim – Ohhhhh Cardassian security programs. No, I was just asking because I found myself wondering if the Kazon knew what they had.

Seth – Probably? But if they only had the one they might have wanted to stick it in a central location. It’s also possible that space is at a premium on Kazon ships, and so they didn’t have a better place to put it.

Tim – That’s also entirely possible (and makes sense, if they’re used to storing food and water and the like). And I suppose, as I’m remembering slowly, that the Kazon knew about replicators from their first meeting on Ocampa. What I was considering at the time was that the Kazon may have not realized what tech they had and misused it (or, rather, didn’t expect the whole shielding issue), setting off their demise. Now, in my mind- with my whole “Let’s try to make the Prime Directive as negative a thing as possible”- I felt like it could be read as one more reason why the Federation can validate not sharing such technology with “lesser” races (not their words, I realize)…but then, I’m just itching for any excuse to push against the Prime Directive, so I realize that I have to jump through a bit more logical hoops to make my idea work.

Seth – I’m glad you brought up the Prime Directive, because I feel like Seska’s little realpolitik spiel at the end of the episode puts our discussions of the Prime Directive in a new context

Tim – Oh yeah, definitely.

Seth – I mean, for all its faults, the Prime Directive has kept the Voyager from screwing with things too badly, whereas any other major Alpha Quadrant civilization would probably have set about setting up a puppet empire through one means or another

Tim – Very true. Although, by the same token (and she may have just been angry here)- she also points out that if not for the Prime Directive they might have been home by then.

Seth – True

Tim – What with both the major teleportation technologies they had access to in just the previous two episodes, which they had to walk away from- partially from the fact that one Federation Vessel probably can’t take on an entire civilization, but also partially due to an adherence to Federation principles.

Seth – In hindsight, it certainly adds extra context to why Seska was so insistent that they get back quickly; she knew her cover wouldn’t last forever.

Join us next week for another installment of Roundtable Voyager! We’ll be discussing Star Trek: Voyager s01e12 “Heroes and Demons.” If you would like, watch the episode ahead of time and contribute your own thoughts in the comments of this post! We’d love to have you help shape our discussion! Or, if you’re more interested in “State of Flux”, was there anything you feel we missed, or theories about the episode that you would like to share? Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section below! 

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