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Extreme Risk (episode)

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(written from a Production point of view)
"Extreme Risk"
VOY, Episode 5x03
Production number: 197
First aired: 28 October 1998
96th of 168 produced in VOY
96th of 168 released in VOY
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 168 released in VOY Remastered  
534th of 728 released in all
Chakotay argues with BElanna
Written By
Kenneth Biller

Directed By
Cliff Bole
Unknown (2375)
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The crew races to build a new shuttle designed by Tom Paris, in order to retrieve a multispatial probe trapped inside a gas giant. Meanwhile, B'Elanna Torres' attitude worries the crew.

Summary

Teaser

On board an orbital shuttle, B'Elanna Torres is preparing for orbital skydiving in the holodeck, when she tells the pilot to increase altitude, something which he objects to since they are already at 200,000 meters and any higher would risk thermolyzing. Torres overrides his objections, and then disengages the safety protocols, in spite of the computer's warning that such an action poses an "extreme risk". Shortly after jumping out of the shuttle, Commander Chakotay calls her and orders her to report to main engineering.

While heading to engineering, Torres meets Seven of Nine, who informs her that the probe is ready to launch, but that there is a problem with the telemetry link. Torres surprises Seven by asking her to take over with the launch, offhandedly remarking that she is not feeling well, but refusing Seven's offer to call The Doctor.

Act One

In space, one of USS Voyager's probes is caught by a Malon tractor beam. Since Voyager is two hours away at maximum warp, the probe is left to its own devices, under Harry Kim's direction from the bridge. Tuvok suggests that the probe emit a polaron burst to disrupt the tractor beam and escape. Although this works, Tom Paris notes that the probe will never be able to outrun the Malon export vessel, eleventh gradient. Captain Janeway, however, remembers that the probe passed a class 6 gas giant that morning, and suggests that the probe could hide there. The atmospheric pressure would be dangerous, but the probe's Borg shielding is believed to able to withstand the atmosphere, although the Malon's hull would not. The probe successfully enters the gas giant, and, in spite of warnings from Voyager, the Malon freighter follows it in and is destroyed.

Later, in the briefing room, the senior staff discusses the probe's situation. Although it is caught 10,000 kilometers beneath the surface in a layer of liquid hydrogen and methane, the probe appears to be intact. Torres arrives, late, and when asked if transporter range could be increased to reach the probe, she replies with a stern "no". Troubled by her brief response Chakotay probes further, but she assures him that the transporter could not be boosted through such atmospheric conditions. Paris then suggests that the only course of action is to go down to retrieve the probe directly, to which Tuvok responds by asking if Paris had noticed the Malon export vessel's implosion. Paris replies that they can use their new shuttle, and unveils his plans for the Delta Flyer. The staff begins to respond enthusiastically to the design offering technical suggestions, and Janeway approves the plan, hoping to have it constructed within a week. Torres, however, seems unenthusiastic, and makes no comment, even when prompted by Paris.

In the holodeck, Tuvok and Paris are working on the hull design and begin to argue about the merits of dynametric tailfins. Tuvok ultimately removes the feature, justifying the action with the statement that the shuttle is not a "hot rod". Paris protests, but Seven turns the conversation to structural integrity, noting that Torres' plan to use titanium was flawed, and that a tetraburnium alloy would better withstand the atmospheric pressures. To everyone's surprise, Torres doesn't protest, but quietly agrees, and leaves to go work on the thruster specs.

Torres later delivers the said specs to Paris in his quarters, and makes ready to leave when Paris suggests that she stop and have dinner with him. She declines, claiming to be tired, but Paris confronts her about her reclusive attitude. She defends herself by claiming that she is still on schedule with her work, but he presses the point, saying he is concerned as her friend, not as her superior.

Torres leaves, but on the way to her quarter passes by the holodeck and hesitates. She decides to run program Torres 216, again deactivating the safeties in spite of the computer's warning. The program turns out to be a cave, in which she is attacked by a number of Cardassians in hand-to-hand combat.

Act Two

Voyager enters a high orbit around the gas giant, in an effort to recover the probe. A Malon freighter hails the ship and demands they leave. They blame Voyager for the loss of the first ship and its crew. The Malon captain insists that they will take the probe as evidence. Janeway tells the captain that in the future, his species should stay away from vessels with Starfleet markings, ending the transmission. Chakotay suggests that the reason they are after the probe is due to its multispatial technology, supposing that perhaps the Malons think it will help them find new places to dispose of their garbage.

In the mess hall, Torres surprises Neelix, who says he has not seen many people due to the work on the new shuttle. Torres states that she is there to catch up with him. She states that she would like him to make banana pancakes, like her grandmother used to make, as they always put a smile on her face. Neelix does so, and is befuddled when she doesn't eat them. Encouraging her to take a bite, she halfheartedly tells him that they are delicious and that she must get back to work.

Meanwhile on the bridge, Janeway tries to decide what to do with the Malon crew still in orbit. Seven contacts the captain that she has information concerning the Malon vessel. Once arriving in the astrometrics lab, Seven informs her that the Malon crew is creating a similar shuttle to Paris', and that they will finish before the Delta Flyer is ready. Janeway states that it looks like it is time for a race.

Act Three

"Captain's log, supplemental. We've stepped up the pace of construction in order to finish our shuttle before the Malon finish theirs. According to Seven's most recent intelligence, we've gained some ground over the last twenty-four hours, putting us in a virtual dead heat with our competitors."

During construction of the Delta Flyer, Torres snaps at Vorik for making too much noise while other members of the crew each have personal opinions regarding the vessel. Tuvok and Paris disagree over when to launch the Delta Flyer. Torres goes to the holodeck to run a simulation of the Delta Flyer entering atmosphere and disengages safety protocols in the holodeck for the third time. She discovers the locations of microfractures on the Flyer but is injured and passes out.

Vrelk threatens Voyager by releasing a small amount of anti-matter waste and suggest that Voyager's shields will not be capable of handling larger amounts of anti-matter. The Malon and Voyager have both been spying on each other and it seems the Malon shuttle will be finished in two days, before the Delta Flyer will be ready.

Janeway suggests that construction be sped up and Chakotay goes to find Torres in the holodeck just before a hull breach. In sickbay, The Doctor revives her. He informs her she has been there, unconscious, for almost twelve hours. Torres gets up to go back to work. However Janeway says The Doctor has found internal injuries, some months old, life-threatening and badly treated. Janeway is worried about Torres and places her under The Doctor's supervision and off the shuttle project until Torres becomes more forthcoming.

Act Four

Paris tells Janeway that engines are operating at almost 90% efficiency. Janeway mentions Torres and Paris indicates they have not been talking. Chakotay agrees to dig through Torres' personal holodeck programs to find the reason behind her self-inflicted injuries.

Chakotay visits Torres, who reveals that The Doctor thinks she has clinical depression. Chakotay takes Torres to the holodeck and activates program Torres Zeta-1: a program in which Torres' and Chakotay's Maquis comrades are being slaughtered. Torres only ran the program for 47 seconds before using other holodeck programs without the safety on. Chakotay locks Torres in the holodeck and interrogates her. Torres explains that she is trying to feel she is still alive. She states that she has no feelings about her dead friends, Paris, Chakotay or her job. Chakotay suggests that Torres can not shut off her emotions and that she has to grieve.

Torres believes she has lost all the family she ever had after Chakotay informed her of the Maquis massacre. Chakotay replies that Voyager is her new family and she is not going to lose them. Chakotay tells Torres she needs to figure out another way to deal with this and Torres says she does not know how.

Act Five

The Malon attack Voyager to distract them from their shuttle launch. Torres begs Chakotay to go on the Delta Flyer and says she is the best engineer for the jobs and that she needs to do this.

Inside the Delta Flyer, Harry Kim spots the Malon ship, which proceeds to launch spatial charges. Seven of Nine loads photonic missiles and the Malon ship takes three direct hits. However, the Delta Flyer starts to lose structural integrity. The probe is retrieved, but secondary systems are still down. Seven and Torres seal a panel and Torres, using a phaser and an EPS conduit, erects a force field just before the panel has a breach. The Malon ship is having trouble leaving the atmosphere and Janeway orders "Get us out of here".

Torres thanks Chakotay for what he did with the holodeck but says if he ever does anything like it again she will break his neck. She smiles as she digs into a plate of banana pancakes.

Memorable Quotes

"Look, we could spend weeks trying to solve this, but we've got a ticking clock. Engines are working; weapons systems are online. I say we launch now and hope for the best."
"Mr. Paris, that is perhaps the most illogical statement you have ever made."

- Paris and Tuvok


"We are not designing a 'hot rod,' lieutenant."

- Tuvok, after having the computer remove the dynametric tail fins from the model of the Delta Flyer


"Vorik, turn that damn thing off!"

- B'Elanna, to Vorik, who is using a noisy tool


"My security training is going really well. Tuvok told me the other day that I'm "not completely inept.""

- Neelix, to B'Elanna in the mess hall after hours.

Background Information

Story Development

  • Torres actress Roxann Dawson was influential in devising this episode's plot. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, pp. 29 & 36; Voyager Time Capsule: B'Elanna Torres, VOY Season 5 DVD special features) The idea for the episode came from a conversation she had with Executive Producer Brannon Braga and Supervising Producer Kenneth Biller, while all three were having dinner together. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 36) Ken Biller explained, "[Roxann Dawson] was interested in this notion of self-harm, the phenomenon that exists, if you look at the psychiatric journals, mostly among women." Biller also noted that the condition in general may be an unsafe method, as it is in this episode, of temporarily alleviating emotional numbness. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29) During their discussion, Dawson not only talked about the phenomenon of self-harm but also spoke about her own character of B'Elanna Torres. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 36; Voyager Time Capsule: B'Elanna Torres, VOY Season 5 DVD special features) The actress recalled, "We were talking about the nature of depression. I had some ideas for B'Elanna about exploring that side of her. I started to elaborate on some of my ideas." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 36) Dawson further explained, "I thought that she had a part of her that was very dark, that maybe we hadn't touched on yet and a part of her that, if left unattended to, would become very self-destructive. And I thought it would be interesting to explore that side of her." (Voyager Time Capsule: B'Elanna Torres, VOY Season 5 DVD special features) Calling to mind the writers' reactions to her ideas, Dawson stated, "They were really interested. They said, 'We'll do something with that,' but I didn't expect to hear anything. Then all of a sudden this episode was handed to me." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 36)
  • According to Ken Biller, the requirement of involving science fiction in this Star Trek story inspired B'Elanna's use of the holodeck to cause the aforementioned self-harm. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29)
  • The concept of orbital skydiving was reused in this episode, having been featured – with James T. Kirk performing the skydiving – in a scene deleted from Star Trek Generations. Just as the orbital skydiving is in the teaser of this episode, the deleted scene would have been at the start of Generations.
  • According to Paris actor Robert Duncan McNeill, there was a slim chance that B'Elanna's confidante in this episode would be his character, rather than Chakotay. "I think there was a little bit of fear of getting melodramatic," McNeill reflected, "so rather than let Paris be the one to help B'Elanna deal with these issues, they let Chakotay." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 53)

Cast and Characters

  • Shortly after Roxann Dawson received the script for this episode, she described the teleplay as "a very nice script for me, with a lot of character development." Moments later, she commented, "It really addresses a lot of B'Elanna's inner demons. It was nice to get back to doing that again, and it should be a good episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 44, p. 35) At about the end of the fifth season, Dawson remarked, "It was really great to see some of my ideas about B'Elanna's darker side explored by these writers. I was pleased with the writing. It's always hard to explore a subject like that [....] I think for the most part it really did accurately explore a very difficult quality to put on film, without being trite and without being predictable. I think that they explored this self-destructive nature of hers in a really original way, and I appreciated that. It's also an area that Star Trek doesn't deal with very much. I appreciated their risk, to quote the title, of going there, spending time in a show exploring just one aspect of an emotional nature that had nothing to do with science fiction." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 36) In a retrospective interview, Dawson cited the installment as "one of my favorite episodes" and went on to say that this was because she herself had been instrumental in its development. The actress also enthused, "I think they came up with a great episode. And I love the title, 'Extreme Risk', because – with B'Elanna's character being as bold as she was – people wouldn't question her wanting to take risks. It would only be B'Elanna that would know that she's taking these risks to the point of possibly injuring herself and that injuring herself comes from a self-loathing, a self-hatred that she would need to explore. So it became a wonderful physical drama, but also a psychological one, and I think that they explored it very well." (Voyager Time Capsule: B'Elanna Torres, VOY Season 5 DVD special features)
  • Ken Biller was delighted with Roxann Dawson's acting here. "I loved Roxann's performance," Biller stated. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29)
  • Robert Duncan McNeill was regretful that, instead of Tom Paris helping B'Elanna with her issues in this outing, he concentrates on building the Delta Flyer. The actor admitted, "I wish they had used Paris more in that [....] I thought that would have been a really nice opportunity to let Paris, as her significant other, be really concerned and pro-active there." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 53)
  • On the other hand, Roxann Dawson valued how the episode does depict relations between Paris and Torres, liking how B'Elanna pushes Tom away during her struggle with her emotions. "That was very true to nature," said Dawson, "because often when we dissolve into those parts of ourselves, the ones that are closest are the ones that have the hardest time. They are the first people that you cut off. It seemed very right, his struggle to try and get through to me, and his inability to do so. I felt that it showed the relationship in a very real way, instead of an ideal way. What she was going through put tension into the relationship and caused an inability for them to communicate, and that was realistic." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 36)
  • Roxann Dawson also appreciated the scenes in which Chakotay forces B'Elanna to discuss her own behavior. "Those scenes were well-written. I felt that it also shed an interesting light on their relationship, which had not been addressed in a long time. It was nice to just touch on that again, get back to that, what brought them together [....] For them to be able to explore that again was great." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 36)

Wardrobe

  • The skydiving costume that B'Elanna Torres wears here was originally designed for Star Trek Generations. (Delta Quadrant, p. 257) Although it was worn by William Shatner (as Kirk) in the deleted skydiving scene from that film, the unauthorized reference book Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 321) speculates that the suit probably required at least some modification between the film and its appearance here.

Visual Effects

  • The actual figure of B'Elanna Torres skydiving from orbit was created via CGI. (Delta Quadrant, p. 257) The same digital model was used in the shot where Torres – ending the holographic skydiving program – freezes in midair then moves to stand upright, landing on the holodeck floor. Visual effects supervisor Mitch Suskin explained, "That shot was created completely synthetically by [CGI animator John] Teska. We gave him a still photograph of the Holodeck that became the background, but we didn't shoot anything for that. We shot a bunch of stills of Torres in her suit. He built the CG stand-in and animated it. He did it as a test. The editor and director were concerned about it, and they go, 'It's perfect. That's it.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 49)
  • Although the Delta Flyer's exterior was almost entirely visualized with CGI created by Foundation Imaging, one shot of the craft under construction in Voyager's shuttlebay proved to be an exception. Mitch Suskin recalled, "[Matte artist] Eric Chauvin got the model data from Foundation. He built the docking bay set in a 3-D matte painting." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 50)

Continuity and Trivia

  • This is the first episode to feature the Delta Flyer.
  • This episode features Torres coming to terms with the death of the remaining Maquis in the Alpha Quadrant, which she learns of in the season four episode "Hunters". B'Elanna's depression over the annihilation of the Maquis is not touched upon between these two episodes, however. As to this issue, Ken Biller offered, "Why don't we know anything about it before? Brannon [Braga] felt pretty confident that since we don't see B'Elanna every week, we have no idea what's going on with her." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29)

Reception

  • Ken Biller ultimately had mixed feelings about this episode. He observed, "It may have felt a little forced [....] I liked the scene a lot between Chakotay and B'Elanna where the truth comes out. What I didn't like is that it relied on a previous episode." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double

References

antimatter waste; Astrometrics; attitude control; banana pancakes; burgundy; "Captain Proton" scenario; Cardassian; cell block; class 2 shuttle; class 6 gas giant; clinical depression; coherent neutrino beam; Controller; contusion; cranial trauma; Delta Flyer; Delta Quadrant; dynametric tailfins; engineer; EPS relay; exosphere; force field; high orbit; holodeck; holodeck safety protocol; hot rod; hull breach; hydrogen; immersive shielding; immersion shielding; injury report; internal bleeding; ionosphere; isomagnetic EPS conduit; kellinite; kilometer; logic; Malon; Malon export vessel, eleventh gradient; Malon shuttlecraft; Maquis; methane; microfracture; multispatial probe; multispatial technology; neutrino beam; nurse; orbital skydiving; parametallic hull plating; Paris 1-1A; phaser; plasma manifold; polaron burst; polythermal image; photonic missile; plasma manifold; polaron; salvage operation; ship's counselor; shuttlecraft design simulation; space race; spatial charge; structural integrity; structural integrity field; suicide; tetraburnium; thermalize; theta radiation; thruster; titanium; Torres, John; Torres 216; Torres Zeta-1; toxic waste disposal; tractor beam; unimatrix shield; vertebra

External link


Previous episode:
"Drone"
Star Trek: Voyager
Season 5
Next episode:
"In the Flesh"

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