(written from a Production point of view)
|VOY, Episode 3x13|
Production number: 156
First aired: 8 January 1997
|←||55th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||54th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||447th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
Ronald Wilkerson & Jean Louise Matthias
Jesús Salvador Treviño
For some time, Neelix has been trying to expand his usefulness; he has been considering roles as an engineer, or a security officer, or some other more official job. As the crew of the USS Voyager arrive at a dense, menacing cloud barrier, the Nekrit Expanse, they stop at a space station administered by Bahrat to take on supplies. Neelix advises caution.
During the away mission to the station, Neelix meets up with an old friend, Wixiban ("Wix"), who was in a smuggling operation with him a long time ago, which ended in a run-in with the Ubeans and landed Wix in prison. After the jovial reunion, Wix and Neelix get to talking. While Neelix impresses his old friend with the tales of Voyager, he finally admits that he thinks he may not be needed anymore. His knowledge of space goes only as far as the Nekrit Expanse and he is no longer useful as a guide. As a result, he has been trying to acquire a map of the area on this station.
On board Voyager, Wix visits Neelix while Neelix was working in his kitchen. Wix was able to help Voyager to get some magnetic spindle bearings. In private, Wix tells Neelix that he knows where to get pergium (a rare commodity that Voyager needs) and a map. He also tells a different story, one of great difficulty and burdensome debts. He is unable to leave the station because his shuttle is being impounded by the station master. Playing upon Neelix's sympathies for him, he asks for a favor: he wants Neelix to get a Voyager shuttlecraft which he and Wix will use to complete a secret transaction in exchange for the pergium and the map. He explains that he is selling medical supplies to get back his shuttle and wants to do it in secret to avoid the station master's twenty percent cut of the profits. All Neelix has to do is hide this information from the crew. Neelix agrees.
Unfortunately, the true nature of the transaction becomes apparent when Wix and Neelix meet the potentional buyer. He is Sutok, the same man who tried to sell drugs to Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant jg Tom Paris when Voyager first docked with the station. From Wix and the Sutok's interaction, Neelix deduces that the medical supplies can actually be used as a narcotic, making this trip not only highly dangerous but highly illegal. Sutok attempts to get the drugs for nothing by trying to kill both Talaxians. This results in a firefight and Wix kills Sutok in self-defense with a phaser he took from the shuttle. In panic, the two of them beam out and fly the shuttle back to Voyager – leaving the dead body to be found by Bahrat's men. Neelix is furious at being betrayed but Wix soothes him with more emotional manipulation and convinces him to cover it up and not tell anyone on the ship.
Bahrat informs Captain Kathryn Janeway that a murder has occurred on the station, and a Federation phaser's energy signature was detected at the scene. Janeway promises that Voyager will give full co-operation during the investigation. Neelix, who is present at the briefing, feels uneasy.
As part of the investigation, Neelix accompanies Lieutenant Tuvok to the station to interview Wix. Wix gives a cover story of him being asleep at the time of the shootings. After Tuvok has left, Wix tells Neelix that he was acting as an agent for some Kolaati suppliers in the drug trade. The suppliers, not at all happy with the loss of their drugs, agrees to let them live if Wix can get some warp plasma from Voyager. Wix persuades Neelix to help him once again but when Neelix tries to steal it, he can't bring himself to do it.
When Neelix and Wix meet at the station at the arranged time, Neelix tells Wix that he couldn't steal from his friends. They are interrupted by Bahrat arresting Chakotay and Paris, who are nearby, charging them with murder and dealing illegal drugs, because they were seen talking with Sutok hours before he was killed. Janeway is furious that Chakotay and Paris were arrested based on circumstantial evidence that does not prove any connection to the crime, but Bahrat is adamant that someone be punished for the crimes by 50 years of cryostatic suspension.
However, to save Chakotay and Paris, Neelix devises a plan, which Wix reluctantly agrees to. He and Wix tell the truth about the incident to Bahrat, who is furious. They are then able to talk their way out of being put into cryostasis by explaining that these smugglers are defeating internal security and that they will help Bahrat and his men catch the criminals when they return for the plasma. Expecting their attempt to be futile, the station master agrees.
Neelix gets a canister from Bahrat with tainted warp plasma and deactivates the safeties. The suppliers, led by Tosin, arrive to meet with Neelix and Wix. When Tosin accepts the canister he realizes that it is worthless but Neelix quickly tells him the canister has been leaking plasma into the room and any energy discharge from his weapon will ignite the entire section. Bahrat arrives and attempts to arrest them but one of the suppliers fires anyways and the ensuing plasma fire knocks Neelix unconscious.
When he reawakens in sickbay, he is told by Tuvok that one of the criminals has been killed and the rest have been taken in to custody by Bahrat, and Wix has gotten his shuttle back and has gone on his way. Janeway arrives and after dismissing the others, demands an explanation from Neelix. Only then does Neelix come clean to the captain as to how the situation arose: he wanted a map and got caught in a cover-up. After a stern lecture, Neelix is prepared to leave the ship but is barely able to contain his excitement when the captain explains to him that the crew is a family, he cannot simply walk away from his responsibilities. He is unaffected when she sentences him to two weeks of cleaning out the ship's exhaust manifolds.
- Please obey copyright policy; do not copy material from other sources without permission.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. I have called a meeting of the senior staff to inform them of some very disturbing news I have just received."
Story and Script
- This episode had the working title "Old Scores". 
- The story for this episode, conceived by freelance writing partners Ron Wilkerson and Jean Louise Matthias, began development in Star Trek: Voyager's first season and was originally intended to be included in that season but was kept back so that the episode "Jetrel" could be produced instead. Commenting on the idea at a point prior to its development into this episode, Ron Wilkerson said, "[It] would have established Neelix as a much more substantial character. The story was essentially like Carlito's Way in the sense that this guy comes on the ship and Neelix pretends he doesn't know him, but in fact they were in jail together and he helped Neelix escape and they split up afterward, and now he's looking to get Neelix to do something for him or he'll reveal his past to everyone." Wilkerson was particularly fond of the concept, describing it as "a nice episode" and expressing much disappointment that it had not been made. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Executive producer Jeri Taylor later said of this episode, "It's actually a story that we had lying around since the very first season. We thought that it had a kernel of something in it for Neelix, but we had never been able to develop it to our satisfaction." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7)
- The key, according to Jeri Taylor, was the concept of Neelix becoming less familiar with the space surrounding the starship Voyager. Speaking at the end of the series' third season, Taylor explained, "This last season, I started thinking that if we are going at high warp speed toward home, we would be covering a great deal of distance. That would mean that at some point we would probably run out of the space that Neelix understands. I thought, here is exactly the take for that story we've been trying to do." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7) Indeed, Jeri Taylor was highly pleased that the plot concept from the first season could be revived, as the writing staff of Star Trek: Voyager had unsuccessfully tried to come up with a workable Neelix story for the third season of the series. "We hadn't found a good story for Neelix yet this season," Taylor said at the time, "so I was really delighted to do this one." (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15)
- The writer of the episode's teleplay was long-time Star Trek science consultant André Bormanis; this installment was his first writing contribution to the series. He had previously pitched some Star Trek story ideas that had not been entirely successful. "I sold two to ST:VOY last year, and we didn't go to teleplay on either of those," he revealed, during Voyager's third season. (Star Trek Monthly issue 25, p. 39) He later noted, "I sold a couple of stories to Voyager and then had the opportunity to write a teleplay."  Additionally, Bormanis recalled, "They asked me if I was interested in writing a script for season three of Voyager, and of course I said, 'Yes.'" Bormanis found that making the transition between serving as science consultant on Star Trek and contributing as a writer was "very natural", having read "every draft of every script for TNG, DS9 and Voyager" in his capacity as science consultant.  He also enjoyed writing and imagining ideas himself. (Star Trek Monthly issue 25, p. 39)
- André Bormanis introduced the Nekrit Expanse during the script-writing process. He explained, "The Nekrit Expanse is something that I came up with, for my first script for Voyager. We wanted to suggest a region of space that was rather dangerous, that was difficult to navigate. It was too big to go around, we had to figure out a way to go through it. And the Expanse itself, I kind of modeled after some of the regions that we've identified, in telescopes, in our galaxy that you probably wouldn't want to send a space probe into, at least not very far [....] So that was the basic idea. You know, sort of a dark and spooky place that would be very difficult to navigate, very dangerous, and we have no idea what's on the other side because it's sufficiently opaque that our sensors can't penetrate very far into it." (Real Science With Andre Bormanis, VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- The episode's final script draft was submitted on 7 October 1996. 
- Ultimately, the producers were extremely pleased with André Bormanis' work on this episode's script. He later recollected, "They thought I did a good job with it, and had me do a few more."  In fact, this was the first of seven Star Trek: Voyager episodes that Bormanis was involved in writing. He was later granted a place on the writing staff of Star Trek: Enterprise.
- Although a long-running romantic relationship between Kes and Neelix apparently ends in the earlier third season episode "Warlord", their break-up was never shown, so a scene was written for this episode to give the relationship some closure. The character moment, set in Voyager's science lab, was scripted as scene 48 and starts with a scene description that – referring to Kes and Neelix – includes the significant sentence, "She has no way of knowing that he believes this is the last time he will ever see her." (Star Trek: Voyager Companion) The scene was subsequently filmed. (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 60) Neelix actor Ethan Phillips said of the scene, "I go into the science lab and I see Kes, and I haven't talked to Kes since 'Warlord,' which was several episodes back. And I talk to her and I say, 'You know, I know we've drifted apart, and I know that we're no longer a pair, but I want you to know that I still love you and that you'll always be my best friend.' And she receives that information, she hears it and tells me back the same thing, basically. And we have a kind of a closure, and it was a lovely little scene." (Voyager Time Capsule: Kes, VOY Season 3 DVD special features) Phillips also remembered of the scene, "I go to visit her and it's right before I'm about to go on this trip where I might get killed, where I present the leaking plasma canister to the crazy alien. I wanted her to know that I relished what we had and that I still loved her as a friend." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #14, pp. 43-44)
- The scene was deleted from the episode due to time constraints. (Star Trek: Voyager Companion) Ethan Phillips noted, "That scene, which would have given us some closure, was cut, dropped for air time." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #14, p. 44) Phillips also stated, "It was cut, it was not included in the final show, because they had to trim." (Voyager Time Capsule: Kes, VOY Season 3 DVD special features) He regretted that the scene was edited out of this installment. Shortly after completing work on the episode, the actor remarked, "It really was a key scene. I felt we needed an on-camera moment to recognize the fact that this three-year relationship had ended. We certainly didn't get to see them break up on screen in a satisfying way, and we also didn't see them at least have some sort of conversation about what occurred. As it was, there was no real resolution, and I don't think the fans like not having some sense of closure. The producers know my feelings about this and they must have their reasons for doing it the way they did." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, pp. 60 & 62) The scripted version of the scene can be found, in its entirety, in the Star Trek: Voyager Companion.
Cast and Characters
- Jeri Taylor was very pleased with Ethan Phillips' performance as Neelix in this episode. "Ethan Phillips was wonderful," she enthused. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7)
- Ethan Phillips himself thoroughly enjoyed this episode, aside from his disappointment at the scene deletion. He remarked, "Overall, I thought it was a very good show for me." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, pp. 60 & 62) In fact, Phillips cited this episode (in common with "Rise") as a Neelix-related highlight of the third season, remembering, "I was very happy with 'Fair Trade'." (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 38) He also noted, "I liked 'Fair Trade' a lot." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7)
- In particular, Ethan Phillips liked how this episode portrays his character of Neelix; the actor cited the installment, for example, as one of several episodes whose scripts excited him, upon first reading them and discovering that they revealed facets of his character that he hadn't known about before. Phillips explained, "There was an awful lot we learned about Neelix. I learned that he did have a shady past; that he was willing to sacrifice his life for the USS Voyager crew; and, in the middle of the show, we also saw that he was willing to jeopardize his position on the ship for the sake of what he felt he owed his friend. We saw that Neelix could be loyal and brave and have a lot of integrity, which are all very important qualities [....] I also thought they set the stage for some interesting stuff with Neelix – the ship is now out of his range of knowledge of space, he's as lost as everybody else and he can't serve Janeway as guide any more. At the end of the episode, Captain Janeway tells Neelix that he is a vital member of the crew. I think he needed to hear that, because he needs to feel wanted. That's a big part of who he is." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, pp. 60 & 62) Further considering the episode's conclusion, Phillips elaborated, "When the captain said, 'You're a member of the crew and you're not leaving,' it was a really good thing for him to hear. He needed to hear it. He really had nowhere to go but back to his old life. For him to have his value to the ship and to Janeway reiterated to him was wonderful." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #14, p. 43)
- Ethan Phillips was proud of his own acting herein. "I'm my own hardest critic," he declared, "and I'm pleased with my performance. I liked about 50 percent of it." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 62)
- Ethan Phillips was also thrilled by the performance that Wixiban actor James Nardini delivered for this installment. Phillips noted, "I thought James gave a very good performance as Wixiban." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 62)
- Director Jesús Salvador Treviño enjoyed working with both Ethan Phillips and James Nardini, despite the experience being somewhat surreal for Treviño. The director enthused, "Ethan Phillips was great to work with. We were fortunate because he and James Nardini had a great chemistry. It was quite exciting to see them work together because James immediately understood the whole Talaxian thing. I actually forgot I was dealing with actors, because I met James only at the audition before he came onto the set in makeup. I had only met Ethan once as well and then he was on the set as Mr. Talaxian. I was giving direction to two Talaxians." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
- Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) does not appear in this episode, being one of only two occasions when Wang does not appear, the other being the later third season episode "Blood Fever".
- Prior to portraying Tosin in this installment, actor James Horan appeared as Jo'Bril and Lieutenant Barnaby in TNG: "Suspicions" and "Descent, Part II" respectively. He would go on to play First Ikat'ika in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes "In Purgatory's Shadow" and "By Inferno's Light", as well as the recurring character of the Humanoid Figure during the first two seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise. This is his only appearance in Star Trek: Voyager.
- This is the only appearance of Carlos Carrasco (Bahrat) in Star Trek: Voyager. He previously played D'Ghor in DS9: "The House of Quark" and a mirror universe Klingon in DS9: "Shattered Mirror". His next and last Star Trek role was as Krole in DS9: "Honor Among Thieves".
- Ultimately, Jesús Treviño was generally pleased with all the acting in this episode. He noted, "The performances came out so nicely." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
- This was the first Star Trek episode ever directed by Jesús Treviño. Having previously directed episodes of other television series, a meeting with Jeri Taylor had subsequently led Treviño to helm this episode, prior to being invited to direct both other episodes of Voyager as well as episodes of DS9. One preparation method that Treviño utilized was watching many previous Voyager episodes. He recalled, "Before I did my first episode of Voyager, I had spent several weeks viewing almost every episode that they had done. So when I did 'Fair Trade,' I was pretty clear on the back stories of a lot of the people." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, pages 65 & 69)
- James Horan was unprepared for the experience of wearing the makeup created for Tosin. "The Kolaati was interesting," Horan recalled, "because, as they're putting it on me, they go, 'You don't have a problem not breathing through your nose, do you?'" After laughing, Horan continued by recounting, "'No, I guess not.' But fourteen hours later, of course, I'm going [in an extremely nasally voice], 'I've a problem in this.'"  Horan also cited his role in this episode as the worst make-up he ever had to wear for Star Trek, commenting, "In an almost all of them I've had a nosehole, but in this one, because of the way the nose was shaped, as they're putting it on they're saying, 'You don't have a problem not breathing through your nose, do you?' And I'm saying, 'Errr ... well, I guess not!' And then 14 hours later I'm gasping." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 10, p. 45)
- According to James Horan, the scenes of this installment that involve his character of Tosin constituted "a couple of days' work." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 10, p. 45)
- The weapon that Tosin levels at Neelix during the warp plasma undercover bust resembles the Varon-T disruptor prop from TNG: "The Most Toys". According to the unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 160), all of the Kolaati weapons were stock weapon props from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Also according to the book Delta Quadrant (p. 160), the space station set in this episode was a redress of the Akritirian maximum security detention facility from the earlier third season installment "The Chute".
- The station set was artificially extended via blue screen. Jesús Treviño remembered, "Voyager was to visit a space station out in a different sector of space, and we wanted it to look like a place that would house a lot of different aliens. Of course, we had a limited set. Richard James, the production designer, had built this set and working with him we devised a way in which I could shoot the same set using blue screen, ... giving our story a much grander looking production scale. What I wound up doing was I shot a plate looking back in the other direction, and then I put that plate of the same environment with different people and I popped it into the blue screen, so in effect it doubled the distance of the set. And I did that three times." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, p. 66) Treviño also noted, at one point, that this episode included a good example of him working "with the art director to make it seem as if a set is far larger than it is." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
- Ethan Phillips liked working with Jesús Treviño on this installment. Phillips recalled, "I was especially fond of the director, Jesús Treviño. It was the first time we'd worked with him, and he was very inventive and very easy and fun to work with. I think he did a terrific job." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7) Phillips also commented, "Jesus Trevino did a nice job of directing the show – I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of him." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 62)
- In summation of this episode, Jesús Treviño remarked, "I had a great deal of fun doing it." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, p. 65)
- In airing order, this episode marks the debut of the recurring character of Ensign Vorik (although he also appears in "Alter Ego", which was produced first). This male Vulcan character was introduced prior to his central role in "Blood Fever" so that audiences would be familiar with him by then. Vorik subsequently reappears at least once a season, right up until the end of the series run. The character was played by Alexander Enberg, the son of Jeri Taylor. On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Enberg once played a character similar to Vorik, appearing as a Vulcan engineer named Taurik in the episode "Lower Decks". Jeri Taylor once suggested that Taurik and Vorik were twin brothers.
- In the later third season episode "Distant Origin", a group of Voth scientists visit the Nekrit Expanse station while tracking down Voyager. A canister of warp plasma they acquire at the space station is an acknowledgment of the events of "Fair Trade", providing good continuity links between the episodes. However, the writers apparently forgot that Neelix destroyed it in this episode and that the warp plasma was a lower grade substitute.
- At the end of this episode, Janeway tells Neelix, "The first duty of every Starfleet officer is the truth." This is what Captain Picard tells Wesley Crusher in TNG: "The First Duty".
- This was the first Star Trek: Voyager episode whose original airing followed the first broadcast of DS9: "Rapture", in which the DS9 crew switch to a uniform style that audiences had already seen in Star Trek: First Contact. Thus, this episode is at the point in Star Trek: Voyager's run when the uniforms worn by the Voyager crew become outdated.
Reception and Aftermath
- Both Jeri Taylor and Jesús Salvador Treviño found this episode to be intriguing. "The story was pretty interesting," Treviño noted. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15) Jeri Taylor remarked, "This was a very questionable show." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7)
- Both Jesús Treviño and Jeri Taylor were also highly satisfied with this episode in general. Taylor once described this installment as "a very strong Neelix story." (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15) Similarly, Treviño referred to the installment as "an excellent show." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 119, p. 65) He also noted, "I was very pleased with the episode [...] and we were able to attain [a] sense of wonder." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #15)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.2 million homes, and a 7% share. 
- Ethan Phillips believed that this episode's revelations about Neelix were not only news to him but also, possibly, to Star Trek fandom. Regarding the qualities that this episode shows Neelix to have – including loyalty and bravery – Phillips stated, "I don't know that the fans had seen much of those things in him before or perceived him that way until they got to see 'Fair Trade'." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 60) The actor also said that the episode "allowed Neelix to share some of his past with his audience". (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 38)
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 100)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars, defined as "Warp Speed". (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 57)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 161) gives this installment a rating of 2 out of 10.
- This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series. It beat out DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations", which was nominated in the same category.
- This episode was also nominated by the Art Designer's Society as one of their five finalists in the category of television.
- Following his work on this episode, Ethan Phillips held onto hope that the dissolution of Neelix's relationship with Kes would be addressed elsewhere in the future, in lieu of this episode's scene deletion. Phillips noted, "I'm still hopeful that we'll address it somehow in a future episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 62) He would later express satisfaction with Kes and Neelix's final scene together, in "The Gift". (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 39)
- At the start of Star Trek: Voyager's fourth season, Ethan Phillips related that the suggestions, in this episode, of Neelix acting as Ambassador for the starship Voyager "I believe is something they're going to explore in this season." (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 38)
- When Ethan Phillips watched this episode years after its production, he found that he was very proud of the episode. On 25 November, 2003, Phillips remarked, "About six months ago, this guy asked me to speak at a college about the business of acting. They showed a bunch of stuff I had done. One thing they showed was an episode of Star Trek – 'Fair Trade,' where Neelix deals with these intergalactic drug dealers. I hadn't seen the show. I don't think I ever saw it. And we all sat down and watched it, and I was just blown away. It was such a good show. The acting, the lighting, the music; the whole production. It was great television, and I was really proud of it." (Voyager Time Capsule: Neelix, VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- This episode influenced Jeri Taylor to include the character of Wixiban into her novel Pathways, as part of Neelix's backstory. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 6, p. 92)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.7, 2 June 1997
- As part of the VOY Season 3 DVD collection
Links and references
- James Nardini as Wixiban
- Carlos Carrasco as Bahrat
- Alexander Enberg as Vorik
- Steve Kehela as Sutok
- James Horan as Tosin
- Eric Sharp as the map dealer
47; bio-mimetic gel; cryostatic suspension; Delta Quadrant; deuterium maintenance; dilithium matrix; duotronic probe; environmental control; exhaust manifold; Federation; fire snake; gagh; gravitic caliper; impulse response filter; isonucleic residue; Jefferies tube; Kes; Klingon; Kolaati; magnetic spindle bearing; Nekrit Expanse; Orillian lung maggot; pergium; type 2 phaser; phase lock; plasma burn; plasma canister; plasma injector; plasma storm; reaction control assembly; replicator; rhuludian crystal; spectral analysis; Talaxian; toffa ale; Ubean; Vulcans; warp plasma; warp plasma particle
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