(written from a Production point of view)
|VOY, Episode 1x10|
Production number: 110
First aired: 20 March 1995
|←||9th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||9th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||356th of 728 released in all||→|
| Teleplay By|
Michael Perricone & Greg Elliot
David R. George III & Eric A. Stillwell
The crew of Voyager discover a planet that has the technology to send them more than halfway along their journey home. However, the planet's inhabitants are more than reluctant to share this technology with Voyager's crew, as doing so would violate one of the society's own prime directives.
After investigating a distress call, the USS Voyager encounters a man who introduces himself as Gathorel Labin of the planet Sikaris. He explains that he is not in distress at all, and that he had initiated the call because Voyager's crew was in distress.
After extending a welcome to the Sikarian sector, Gath comes aboard with samples of the local dishes and delicacies and explains that their people had heard of the plight of Voyager; he therefore invites the crew to shore leave on his planet. Neelix also proposes using this opportunity to gather seeds from the local flora to increase the selection of edible plants and vegetables growing on board. Captain Janeway graciously accepts the invitation and is excited about finally meeting a friendly species on their journey.
- "Captain's log, stardate 48642.5. The crew is enjoying an evening on Sikaris. They are discovering, to their delight, that reports of this species' hospitality have not been exaggerated."
At the evening's festivities, Harry Kim shares a romantic moment with a local named Eudana who is working a Sikarian atmospheric sensor. He begins telling her about how Voyager became stranded in the Delta Quadrant when Eudana suggests they go some place with more privacy. She pulls Kim onto a platform and transports to a place called Alastria. It is a warm and tropical place with gentle trade winds blowing during a red sunset. Kim is feeling a slight elation when he notices that Sikaris does not have two suns. Eudana explains that they are in fact no longer on Sikaris but that they have actually been transported to another planet 40,000 light years from Sikaris. Realizing that this might mean the crew could make it more than halfway home, Kim wants to go back immediately. He informs Captain Janeway of his instantaneous travel via a transporter that operates on the principle of folding space called a spatial trajector. Excited about real prospects of finally getting home, Janeway proposes to Gath that they allow them to modify the technology in order to transport Voyager closer to home. But Gath informs them that based on their Canon of Laws, sharing this technology would be out of the question as it may get out of control and fall into the wrong hands. Janeway points out that as Starfleet they have similar restrictions with regard to sharing technology. During the staff meeting later on, the crew discuss the possibilities that the trajector presents them, including the chance that it could be used more than once allowing them to make it all the way to the Alpha Quadrant. Tuvok points out that Gath has already said no with nothing to indicate that he could change his mind. Janeway remarks with irony that it is the first time they are on the other side of the Prime Directive which prevents them from interfering with alien cultures no matter what kind of a disaster they were facing.
Kim offers the insight of how the Sikarian culture values stories as a measuring device of character and moral value, and proposes the idea of offering the entire ship's library as a bartering token. Janeway approves the idea and plans to run the idea by Gath while she explicitly forbids any analysis of the spatial trajector while she is negotiating with the Sikarians.
Over a slice of pecan pie, Janeway moves to negotiating the acquisition of the trajector. At first she promises Gath that they promise to destroy the trajector after they have reached their destination. However, as expected, Gath turns down her offer. Janeway then proposes that the Sikarians use the device to send Voyager itself, without giving up the technology, in return for a full library of the Federation's finest literature. Gath is immediately enticed and promises to discuss it with the other magistrates within the area.
In the meantime, B'Elanna Torres, Seska, and Joseph Carey – anxious about having finally found a real possibility to go home – begin theorizing how such a technology would work, noting that such spatial folding would leave subspace residue. Detecting a particular neutrino dispersion pattern, the three theorize that if the spatial trajector uses a neutrino bubble to transport objects, the main deflector could be modified to emit phased neutrinos to create a bubble around Voyager.
On the surface, Eudana leads Kim to a secret meeting with Jaret Otel, Gath's aide, who offers to unofficially give them the technology in exchange for the ship's collection of literature. Jaret explains that his people believe rules should be flexible enough to meet the needs of the moment and reveals that he wants to be the provider of the stories to the public in order to gain prestige. Jaret also tells Kim that Gath has no intention of handing over the technology himself.
Ensign Kim returns to the ship and reports this immediately to Janeway, who can't help but feel that Jaret is correct when he says that Gath does not intend to help them. Discussing the situation with Tuvok, Janeway is stuck in position of either negotiating with a man who has his own agenda, or deal with a man who is willing to break the law. Tuvok points out that if they get the technology through Jaret, then its his laws that are being broken and not theirs but Janeway would rather not do that, reminding Tuvok that when they started the trip home she told the crew that they would follow Starfleet principles but at the same time, she doesn't know if she can tell the crew that her principles are more important than getting the crew home. With that, the two agree that Janeway should deal with Gath for now and explore the chance that he may be willing to help them.
In the mess hall, Seska and Torres briefly discuss stealing the technology. Torres asserts that being the higher ranking officer she has responsibilities, but Seska declares that if they were to gain access to the trajector matrix, the use of main engineering would be essential and that Torres had to be on their side.
On the planet, Janeway presses the issue once again, asking Gath about the decision of the magistrates. But after Gath's repeated evasion of the subject and ridiculing their desire to go home, Janeway soon realizes Gath's true intentions, which were only to provide the populace with a novelty and avenue of entertainment, without ever having had any real intention of helping them out. Gath then promptly orders Janeway and her crew to leave the planet, accusing them of threatening to infect the 'joyousness of our lives'. Disheartened and insulted, the captain returns to the ship.
Entering the bridge, Janeway tells Chakotay that shore leave is cancelled and to start beaming the crew back. She tells Tuvok that she knows that Gath never intended to help them, but is nonetheless unwilling to go against Sikaran law by getting the technology from Jaret Otel. Unfortunately, as the crew is scattered all over Sikaris, it's going to take some time to get everyone back onto the ship, so Janeway simply tells Chakotay to do it as quickly as possible before retiring to her Ready Room.
Back in the mess hall, Torres, Seska, and Carey discuss what's happened. Seska has downloaded the Federation Library ready to be handed over to Jaret and she and Carey end up getting a reluctant Torres onto their side by discussing their families and the Maquis plight.
In the transporter room, the three prepare to beam to the surface only to be frozen out by security protocols. Tuvok suddenly enters, explaining that he changed the subroutines when he attempted to download the library only to find it had already been accessed. The others are confused until Tuvok reveals that he plans to make the exchange with Jaret Otel himself and beams down telling the shocked officers to prepare the ship for the device.
Meanwhile, the final crew members are being beamed up. Janeway tells Torres to prepare the ship to leave within minutes.
Returning with the device, Tuvok hands it over in engineering and asks them not to use it until he has spoken to the captain. Seska begins tests immediately. While doing the tests, the three engineers suddenly discover that they would need an amplifier the size of a planet to make the system work. The Sikarians are able to use the technology because Sikaris itself has a crystalline mantle that focuses and amplifies the trajector field. But Voyager does not possess such an amplifier. Carey notes that if the planet is needed to use the trajector, once Voyager leaves orbit they will lose the ability to traject. They realize that they have to run the trajector right here and now, or else they will not be able to do so later. In order to distract everyone from their actions, Torres – keeping the thrusters offline – prevents the ship from leaving, citing a phase variance.
After they activate the matrix, a trajector field begins to form. Initiation of the process is successful, but the plasma manifold soon becomes unstable when a bombardment of antineutrinos (designed to act as a catalyst for the space-folding process) results in increasing plasma temperatures that threaten a warp core breach. Reluctant to abort the mission, Seska attempts to compensate for the antineutrinos but fails. Nothing can stop it so Torres is forced to destroy the trajector matrix. She realizes with a heavy heart that the use of antineutrinos in the space-folding process would have made any compatibility with Federation technology impossible and that this technology would ultimately never have worked for Voyager. Seska attempts to erase the sensor logs of their testing, but Torres steps in, rejecting a cover-up. She is ready to face the consequences and is actually glad that she has changed enough to want to be responsible. Standing before the captain, she tries to take the blame as the ranking officer, but Tuvok reveals that he was the one who made the exchange with Jaret.
After a serious dress-down, Janeway lets Torres go, warning her that any further transgression would lead to the discharge of her field commission. She is, however, shocked about Tuvok having had anything to do with this. He explains his actions by saying that he knew that the Captain found herself in a moral dilemma and thus couldn't allow herself to make such a decision. So, he made it for her; to lift the burden off her shoulders. Janeway is touched but firmly states that she would never have wanted him to make such a sacrifice for her and asks him to bring his logic to her the next time. With slightly tearful eyes, she reminds him of their long standing relationship and that – as her moral compass and most trusted officer and friend – she has to be able to count on him. Tuvok, realizing the error in the interpretation of his logic, assures Captain Janeway that she could count on him from now on more so than ever and assures her that he will never disappoint her in that regard.
"It's the first time we've been on the other side of the fence. How many times have we been in the position of refusing to interfere when some kind of disaster threatened an alien culture? It's all very well to say we do it on the basis of an enlightened principle. But how does that feel to the aliens?"
- - Captain Janeway
"I don't enjoy being judged like this. It's most unsettling, not at all pleasurable."
- - Gath to Captain
"I will make the exchange with Jaret Otel."
- - Tuvok deciding to ignore Janeway's orders on acquiring the spatial trajector
"I don't have the luxury of throwing you in the brig for the rest of this voyage. I need you. I need every person on this ship. But I want you to know how very deeply you have disappointed me. If there are any further transgressions, even a minor one...you will no longer be an officer on this crew."
- - Janeway to B'Elanna Torres
"My logic was not in error... but I was."
- - Tuvok to Captain Janeway
"I don't even know where to start. I want you to explain how you, of all people, could be involved in this."
"It's quite simple, captain. You have made it quite clear, on many occasions, that your highest goal is to get the crew home. But in this instance, your standards would not allow you to violate Sikarian law. Someone had to spare you the ethical dilemma. I was the logical choice. And so I chose to act.
- - Janeway and Tuvok
"You are one of my most valued officers. And you are my friend. It is vital that you understand me here. I need you. But I also need to know that I can count on you. You are my counsel. The one I turn to when I need my moral compass checked. We have forged this relationship for years and I depend on it'."
- - Janeway to Tuvok
"You can use logic to justify anything. That's its power and its flaw."
- - Janeway to Tuvok
Story and Script
- David R. George III and Eric A. Stillwell's original story involved the crew of Voyager encountering the race that had dispatched Gary Seven in the Original Series episode "Assignment: Earth". That race had boasted transporter technology that could transport individuals over thousands of light-years. According to Stillwell, "David and I speculated what might happen if the Voyager crew happened upon that civilization. What if they had the ability to transport our crew back to Earth, but because of some terrible failure caused by their intervention on another world in the past, they'd adopted their own kind of Prime Directive to avoid any such disasters in the future? This was the essence of our pitch." While Executive Producer Michael Piller was not fond of the TOS tie-in, he bought the pitch because he liked "the fool's gold nature of the story," which he compared to the film The Treasure of Sierre Madre. 
- The scripting of this episode was influenced by the fact that the Sikarians were originally intended to become one of three recurring, antagonistic alien races in Star Trek: Voyager's first season (the other two being the Kazons and Vidiians). (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 127)
- The second draft of this episode's script was submitted on 30 November 1994.
- The episode was still being written on 12 December 1994. ("A Day in the Life of Ethan Phillips", VOY Season 2 DVD special features)
- Michael Piller found that writing for the pleasure aliens was difficult. He stated, "I just felt nothing seemed to work with the aliens [....] What was tricky about it was to flesh out those pleasure seekers so that they were something other than people walking around always talking about pleasure. I don't think people act like that, so I looked for other things, including the idea that stories were very important to them." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142)
- While the episode was evolving, Star Trek: Voyager's writing staff found that Seska could serve as a valuably mutinous element. "We found her character to be very useful," Executive Producer Jeri Taylor commented, "because she could be the voice that wanted to take the technology and go home in 'Prime Factors.'" (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 143)
- In this episode's pre-production stage, Tuvok actor Tim Russ raised some reservations about his character's betrayal of Janeway in the episode, so the actor's input became influential to the script. He noted, "We changed about thirty percent of the script just from my input alone." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142) Russ commented further, "I did get a lot of things changed in that script. Janeway's whole speech at the end was much different. It was much more reprimanding and much harsher and, based on their relationship, that would have not been appropriate." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 48) Jeri Taylor concurred, "We made some minor modifications that made it possible for Tim to integrate that action into his conception of his character [i.e. Tuvok's betrayal of Janeway] and we shot the film." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142)
- The episode's final draft script was submitted on 13 January 1995. 
Cast and Characters
- Tim Russ regretted not having been able, due to time constraints, to clarify certain points in the episode. He noted, "I would have liked to have changed about another twenty-five percent [more than the thirty percent that was altered]." He also explained, "I think that the only thing we didn't have enough time for was to get more clarification on the reasons for his motivation. I think there was a basic difference between what I thought and the producers thought in terms of why he did what he did. We could have clarified those reasons more than we did, but there just wasn't enough time to go back and forth on it since we were shooting in a few days." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142) Russ also remarked, "There were some points missing that we should have clarified in that story. The problem is that you're trying to clarify them two days before you shoot them." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 48)
- According to Tim Russ, the main point that he wished to clarify was that, although the writers wanted Tuvok's motivation for betraying Janeway to be that it was the only logical thing left for him to do, logic – according to Russ' beliefs – is only a way to do things, not a reason for doing them. Instead, Russ wanted to make clear that the reason Tuvok chose to act against his captain (sacrificing his commission) was to essentially save her from a shipboard mutiny that seemed otherwise probable. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142; Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 48)
- According to comments from Jeri Taylor and Michael Piller, however, their opinions on this debate matched Russ' more than anyone apparently realized. Taylor recalled, "We saw [Tuvok's betrayal] as a noble, heroic act that he would do to spare his captain her personal ethical dilemma and that he would find the logical way to rationalize that." Michael Piller said, "Someone who thinks logic is the answer to all questions should think again. Logic can lead you the wrong way too." Furthermore, both Piller and Taylor were under the impression that Tim Russ was outrightly opposed to the idea that, as a Vulcan, Tuvok would ever betray his captain. According to Tim Russ' comments, however, he was either more (by a large extent) or only opposed to the details regarding the execution of this plot point, not its existence in the episode. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142)
- At one point during the making of this episode, Jeri Taylor tried to give Tim Russ some advice. "I told Tim that if he is never going to have flaws or make a mistake or take a step that's beyond the Vulcan limit," she said, "what are we going to do with him? It's a death signature to a character that he cannot push the envelope and that his reach does not exceed his grasp at some time." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142)
- Of Janeway's decision not to make the trade, Tim Russ observed, "I think that Janeway is walking a very fine line in making a decision based on her standards and principles [....] It was a very technical reason why she did not want to do it." Michael Piller thought Janeway's dilemma had extreme resonance. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142) For her part, Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew liked the mutinous elements of the episode's story. "I enjoyed that because it touched on so many levels," Mulgrew said. "Whenever you can reveal Janeway's humanity and the fact that she's a woman, that she's conflicted, that's an episode I enjoy." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, pp. 23 & 24)
- Michael Piller ultimately regretted the casting of Ronald Guttman as Gathorel Labin here. "It was a mistake casting a French actor as an alien villain," Piller complained. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 127) Guttman, however, is actually Belgian.
- Robert Picardo (The Doctor) does not appear in this episode.
Production and Effects
- While the episode was in production, the producers became slightly worried with the scenes set on Sikaris. Michael Piller recalled, "We got a little concerned with the dailies because the stuff that was happening on the planet, in spite of all our efforts, was tending to look a little too much like that hedonistic Roddenberry-esque society. I was worried that it was going to be sort of off-putting and that people would not get involved with what the real story was [....] But when it was done, I thought it was marvelously produced and that part of the story you kind of moved through really quickly." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142)
- The prop for the Sikarian spatial trajector appears to be the same prop used for a self-sealing stem bolt.
Reception and Aftermath
- The writers were highly satisfied with this episode's teleplay once it was completed. Jeri Taylor remembered, "'Prime Factors' was a show we were very proud of." (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, p. 215) Michael Piller recalled, "We felt really good about the script when it was done. I think it was one that everybody thought was working." Piller believed the best parts of the episode were the tense scenes set aboard Voyager. He stated, "The real story [...] had to do with our people and the moral dilemma that was happening around the ship [....] When you got onto the ship with the dilemmas and decisions, that's when the story grabbed hold." Despite the difficulties involved in the making of this episode, both Jeri Taylor and Michael Piller remained pleased with the installment. "To my mind," Taylor remarked, "it's one of the best that we did first season." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142) Likewise, Michael Piller casually admitted, "I liked the episode, by the way." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 9)
- Although Eric A. Stillwell and David R. George III were involved exclusively in devising the story of this episode and had no part in writing its script, Stillwell was nevertheless proud of the results. "I think the final version of the episode was true to our original vision," he observed. "And it was a defining moment in the relationship between Janeway and Tuvok in the early days of the series, so I was very pleased with it." 
- Despite liking the episode in general, Michael Piller ultimately thought it was unsuccessful at capturing the potential of the Sikarians. He explained, "I was very disappointed with how this alien race turned out [....] I think the idea of an alien race seeking new pleasures wherever they go, and they can be extraordinarily dangerous in the pursuit of that pleasure, is a great idea. I just don't think we realized our goals." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 127) Piller also commented, "The pleasure planet people, the Sikarians, could have been very interesting, but they somehow just didn't turn out that way [....] I didn't particularly care for how the aliens came out. The idea of a race and a species that's driven by pleasure as a motivating force is a fascinating thing to look at [though]." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 9)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 7.3 million homes, and an 11% share. 
- This was the first Voyager episode that was viewed by British author David A. McIntee (who would, years later, become an author of official Star Trek fiction). He saw the episode prior to Voyager's premiere in Britain. (Delta Quadrant, p. 34) In his unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 35), McIntee scores the episode 5 out of 10.
- Cinefantastique gave the episode 3 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 48)
- In their unofficial reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (p. 181), co-writer Mark A. Altman rates this episode 3 out of 4 stars (defined as "good") while fellow co-writer Edward Gross gives the outing 2 and a half out of 4 stars (defined as "average").
- In Star Trek Magazine's retrospective "Ultimate Guide", the magazine gave this episode 3 out of 5 Starfleet-style arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 30)
- The writing of this installment was nominated for a Sci-Fi Universe Award. 
- One aspect of viewer reaction to this episode that Tim Russ became aware of was the response to Tuvok's decision to betray Janeway. "People were very surprised that he made it," Russ stated. (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 28)
- Years after having worked as science consultant on Star Trek: Voyager, André Bormanis cited this episode as one of his favorites from the series, noting, "I thought 'Prime Factors' was a terrific story." 
- Due to their disappointment with the Sikarians, Voyager's team of writer-producers ultimately discarded their initial plans to make those aliens recurring antagonists. Regarding the concept of the pleasure-seekers, Michael Piller noted, "It didn't come off interesting enough to bring them back." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 9)
- Tim Russ cited the character of Valeris as an example of a Vulcan who, like Tuvok in this episode, makes a choice to betray orders. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 142) However, Russ also characterized the decision that Tuvok makes as "entirely un-Vulcan." (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 28)
- Tim Russ believed this episode was contradicted by two episodes that were produced later in Voyager's first season, "Learning Curve" and "Twisted" (the latter of which was held back for inclusion in the second season). Shortly after completing work on "Twisted", Russ explained, "Clearly, in 'Prime Factors' [Tuvok] directly violated protocols up and down the line. Then two episodes later [meaning in 'Learning Curve'] you have him talking about how stern he is about protocols? [....] There's [also] a line in an episode we just finished, 'I've always respected the Captain's decisions.' And that line was difficult to say when, in fact, we know he again violated protocols by taking matters into his own hands." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 61)
- Given that Tuvok's rank insignia changes from lieutenant commander to lieutenant after this episode, it is speculated that he was demoted for his actions here. However, it is likely that it was only a costuming mistake since he is referred to as simply "lieutenant" off and on during this and earlier episodes.
- The events of this episode represent the second time (aside from the series premiere) that Voyager's crew has a possibility of returning home.
- According to the stardates, the events of the 24th century portion of Star Trek Generations take place shortly before this episode and conclude just before the next one.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 1.5, catalog number VHR 4005, 11 September 1995.
- As part of the VOY Season 1 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Ronald Guttman as Gathorel Labin
- Yvonne Suhor as Eudana
- Andrew Hill Newman as Jaret Otel
- Martha Hackett as Seska
- Josh Clark as Joseph Carey
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Sue Henley as Brooks
- Kerry Hoyt as Fitzpatrick
- Jeff Jensen as a Sikarian male #2
- Julie Jiang as an operations division lieutenant j.g.
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Sye Pop as a Sikarian male #1
- Jerry Quinn as a command division officer
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
- Geoffrey Smart as a Sikarian male #2
- Simon Stotler as an operations division ensign
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
- Unknown performers as
Alastria; antineutrino; atmospheric sensor; brig; Canon of Laws; court martial; Dedestris; Delaney sisters; distress call; erosene winds; euphoria; Federation; holodeck; literature; logic; magistrate; mantle; Milky Way Galaxy; neutrino; Nivoch; non-linear resonance; phase variance; pecan pie; plasma conduit; plasma manifold; Prime Directive; quartz; shock attenuation cylinder; Sikaris; Sikarian; Sikarian vessel; spatial trajector; subroutine; subspace residue; trajector matrix; Venice; yellow alert
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