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'Next Gen' Favorites Troi and Barclay Return for a Third Time in "Inside Man"

Posted: 07:08:07 on November 09 2000
By: Steve Krutzler
Dept: Reviews - Voyager

Reviews Ex Deus
"Inside Man"

Written for TrekWeb.COM by 'O. Deus'

Summary: An Evil Barclay hologram stalks Seven of Nine, Good Barclay Human stalks Troi. Continuity stalks Voyager. Barclay is still oppressed by the man.

Ever since Reginald Barclay came to identify with Voyager's isolation and loneliness in Pathfinder, he's been obsessed with Voyager and with ending Voyager's isolation as a way of ending his own by proxy. Of course, Reg having a little trouble interacting with people, even Voyager crew people, he created a holodeck version of Voyager in which he's suave, sophisticated and worshipped by all. In Inside Man he turns the tables by sending an enhanced holographic version of himself to the real Voyager. Where before Barclay was content to create holographic worlds for himself where he was all powerful, he has since come to realize that these worlds are actually fake. So of course now he's turned to creating superior holographic versions of himself to interact with the real world.

The EHB (Enhanced or Evil Holographic Barclay) is everything that Barclay isn't, or that Barclay thinks he isn't and would like to be. Charming, a natural leader and the life of the party is what Barclay seems to have been aiming for, but when crossed with a Ferengi amoral con artist reprogramming job, what comes out the other end looks like a psychopath running for political office. The EHB sports a fixed demented grin and spews out ridiculous platitudes to the crew. He calls Voyager a "Miracle ship" and tells Neelix he has the most important job of them all and in a not so subtle in-joke tells Seven of Nine that she's actually the most popular crew member of them all.

Properly directed and balanced with the scenes from the real Barclay's life this might actually have been pretty funny and dark stuff as Mike Vejar managed to make it in the original Pathfinder. Unfortunately the direction is too aimless in the first half and by the time the strong Barclay storyline begins, the EHB's storyline has almost ended. And the EHB scenes aren't so much funny as confusing. Considering that the EHB does everything but hum melodies while sharpening a butcher knife, it's hard to understand how the Voyager crew is stupid enough to fall for everything he says. As Tom Paris points out in a nice touch of continuity early on, Voyager's attempts to get home have ended in disaster and the EHB's routine is about as sophisticated as Quark's.

Inside Man only becomes interesting when it snaps back to Barclay's life, which ironically enough despite its supposed boredom is a lot more interesting and textured than the "Voyager gets screwed once again but saved in time by a technogizmo factor." Barclay's plot isn't that much more original than Voyager's, but he is so screwed up, off balance and lost in a giant universe that it actually seems plausible that his story might not have a happy ending. And for all of Voyager's travels, Barclay's move from Starfleet to the beach and back seems to have more scale and scope than anything Voyager has done this season.

Maybe it's the moody lighting, but even Barclay trying to do comedy is a whole lot darker than Imperfection or Unimatrix Zero. After all, Barclay doesn't have to draw on Post-Borg angst or Half-Klingon angst or I'm-the-Commander-and-I-have-to-get-my-crew home-angst. He's just the only imperfect, neurotic person in all of Starfleet and it and the few sets of the research labs and the beach are just so much more watchable than more filler from the Delta Quadrant follies. This is bad news for Voyager's lackluster final season, but good news for any potential Starfleet HQ show or any version of Series V that will include more characters like Barclay and less characters like Janeway or 7 of 9.

One of the advantages of the Barclay side of the story is also the fact that Barclay is dealing with a conspiracy that might have plausibly gone unnoticed. The method of Barclay's exploitation and how clueless he was about it is very plausible and ties in perfectly with Barclay's backstory and character, while the method of the Voyager side of the conspiracy wouldn't have fooled a child. Basically on the word of a hologram who's really charming, Janeway nearly kills her entire crew without actually verifying the information with Starfleet itself. Janeway, who is usually paranoid and sensing conspiracies where there are none, is never remotely suspicious of the EHB until the EMH's pettiness (in a plot point recycled so often it's practically turned to mulch) raises her suspicisions. Barclay is supposed to be gullible and easily taken advantage of, Janeway isn't.

Still unlike the two previous Barclay episodes, Inside Man actually provides something useful for Troi to do. Where in Pathfinder she was just someone for Barclay to talk to, here she actually takes a leading role in some of the events. The interrogation scenes are priceless with every single actor from Admiral Paris down shining in however much screentime they get. This is the only time IM succesfully combines the dark and light touches that made Pahtfinder so succesful and it alone is worth the price of admission. As in Tinker Tailor, the humor works because it's grounded in reality and in genuine human pain, while on the Voyager side the funniest bit is just the sight gag involving the Doctor's golfing costume.

Of course the producers use Troi's scenes to inject as many references to absent TNG crewmembers as possible. Troi vacations with Will on the beach but he isn't due to arrive yet (possible reference to the TNG pilot), Barclay sings a duet with Data and discusses his holographic matrix with Geordi. These references fall somewhere between cute and grating. Considering Voyager's current lackluster state, the reminders of a better show now deceased end up generating more nostalgia than annoyance at the painfully obvious tactics for trying to cash in on TNG's popularity.

The final ending of the show is buried in technobabble but since it occupies little enough time and there's not much suspense left by this point, it's less of an issue than it might normally be. Best of all, by the end of the episode Voyager's crew have not been clued in to all the events and are just as ignorant, meanwhile Barclay has produced an updated EHB that's practically designed to terrify the Voyager crew as soon as it arrives. So despite a weak beginning and a not-really-there Voyager story, Inside Man has enough good moments, good humor and Barclay to make it pleasant and offbeat viewing.

TREKWEB TALKBACK

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Everyone is far too generous in their comments
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 04:15:35 on November 12
URL: http:// | User Info
1. This episode had one of the worst, if not the worst, endings ever, topping even the ending of Repression. Seven & the hologram (along with the holoemitter) are on the escape pod, Voyager can't tractor it or beam them out, escape pod crashes into Ferengi ship (wouldn't that cause some damage?), but POOF! somehow, someway, no one's aboard! We're never given an explanation. Seven & the holoemitter, back aboard Voyager, as if nothing has happened. The whole thing was incredibly stupid.

2. I understand that Marina Sirtis's career is completely dead, and that these Voyager cameos are about all she has going for her, but how much more of her are we going to be subjected to? She's a COUNSELOR for god's sake, not a command officer! What is she doing approaching an Admiral, apparently without consulting anyone like, oh, say.....her commanding officer, Picard?

3. The writers manage to get in a brief mention of all the TNG characters, except Picard, surprisingly enough. But we get references to Data, Geordi, Riker. Oh, well I guess there was no mention of Worf, but he doesn't really count as TNG these days anyway. It simply points out how desperate Voyager is to do anything to pull in the viewership that Trek has lost over the years. Let's see....what Alpha quad stuff was mentioned in this episode - we had Dabo girls, Ferengi, a rare appearance of a Ferengi D'Kora-class Marauder!!!! (we haven't seen those since the early TNG days, when the Ferengi were portrayed as more of a militaristic race than the goofy comic relief race they evolved into), Romulans!!!! (oh, how I wish they'd do something intelligent & interesting with the Romulans, who were practically ignored during the DS9 Dominion War), Bajoran Vedek, and I assume Troi was on a beach of Risa. It all goes to show the truth of Ron Moore's arguments, that Voyager really wants to be TNG, but since they're just a pathetic imitation, they have to resort to trying to resurrect the real TNG.

4. How is it that the Ferengi, who were sophisticated enough to open up the space portal, were clueless that the transmission from the real Barclay at the end was coming from the Alpha quad, instead of the portal?

5. And whatever happened to the Carolina, that was supposedly just about to apprehend the Ferengi ship? POOF!! just like the escape pod!

6. Why is everyone on Voyager so fascinated with a hologram that can mimick the voices and mannerisms of other people? HELLO!! it's a computer program - it can do these kinds of things.

In the end, it's simply difficult to put into words just how stupid these Voyager episodes are. What's shocking to me is the news that the major networks want to fight over who gets the Series V. With Berman & Braga in charge, it's 100% guaranteed to suck major ass. Why would a network want to roll the dice on a Trek series helmed by two men universally hated by Trek fandom for running the franchise into the ground, and whose previous effort (Voyager) has been abandoned by all but the most die-hard, fanatical Trek zombies? Real networks like NBC CANCEL shows that pull the kind of ratings that Voyager pulls. There's no way Voyager would have gotten 7 years on NBC. New shows are routinely axed after only two or three airings if they don't get ratings. Voyager is lucky to have been on UPN.

And of course, now we get news that the next movie will suck major ass because it's going to have humor like Insurrection, be "light-hearted" like Insurrection (more zit & boob jokes), and we co-written by Spiner, who looks down his nose at Trek and will kill off Data, a colossally STUPID idea. If Spiner doesn't want to do any more Trek movies, fine - have a happy life. But that's not a reason to kill off the character. There's no reason for Data to die, just like there was no reason for Kirk to die. Just like there really won't be any good reason for Janeway to die later this season. It's the final and truest sign of creative bankruptcy when writers have to resort to killing off the characters to produce drama.

Radioactive Garbage Scow

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More Continuity
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 21:20:06 on November 09
URL: http:// | User Info
The one thing I never understood was, in Pathfinder, Barclay was mentioned, and the Doctor or nobody else knew who he was. However, in an episode early on in the series, the Doctor encountered a version of Barclay on the holodeck when it was malfunctioning, who tried convincing the Doctor to blow the ship up. When the Doctor was saved from the holodeck, he asked who this "Barclay" was, and everybody was jumping in to tell him that he helped Doctor Zimmerman create his program. Oh, well, who cares?

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Gimme some help here
By Jean-Luc (cooljeanluc@startrekmail.com) at 15:46:05 on November 09
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My memory may be mixed up, but at the end the Barclay hologram beamed himself and Seven into an escape pod. Tuvok couldn't get a tractor beam to work due to the interference and I THOUGHT Harry couldn't beam them out (but he must have). The pod made it to the Ferengi ship empty, but I just don't recall Harry saying he beamed them off the pod! Was it my head cold, or was the beam-out confirmation missing?

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Starfleet Gulags?
By Beefies () at 12:01:29 on November 09
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I know we're supposed to think the scene in which Troi is interrogating the Dabo girl is cute and everything, since it's our good friend and hero Deanna doing the questioning, but I found it chilling.

A Starfleet officer threatening a criminal suspect with psychiatric commitment? "You'd better start incriminating yourself right now or I'll lock you up indefinitely, and don't bother lying because I'm a telepath"? Holy crap! Shouldn't the Dabo girl have the right to remain silent and to representation by an attorney? These guys make Stalin's Soviet Union or Orwell's "1984" look like a democratic paradise.

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Much ado about Troi?
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 11:36:03 on November 09
URL: http:// | User Info
As much as I really enjoy Dwight Shultz and Marina Sirtis, this episode was pretty dull with predictable results...

To give it anything "wonderful" would be a disservice to all Trek fans...

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Was anyone else offended at the "oomox" comment?
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 10:15:46 on November 09
URL: http:// | User Info
Ferengi upon seeing Seven's hands: "Ooh, I bet she gives great oo-mox!"

Oo-mox is a supposed to be a highly erotic activity. Why is it that the writers can get away with saying "oo-mox"? Isn't this akin to saying "I bet Seven gives great sex" (or things even more tasteless that I shall decline to name). There's *much* more intimated than just saying she's a good kisser.

Thoughts?

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Help!!!
By Anonymous Coward (anon@ym.ous) at 09:53:05 on November 09
URL: http:// | User Info
My damn cable went out and I missed the final 5 minutes of the show. I saw right up to when Kim is taking a bite of Neelix's pie. Can anyone help me and tell me what happened.

Thanks in advance,
JAMES

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

Speaking of continuity ...
By Paulo () at 09:33:29 on November 09
URL: | User Info
Did anyone else notice Barclay's throw-away comment that the ROMULANS have been interested in Voyager for YEARS?? Hmmmmm ... I wonder if that Romulan from the past that was beamed onto Voyager through a wormhole during Season 1 will be showing up again this season? Maybe he didn't really die, as Tuvok determined using Starfleet data banks. Or maybe the Romulans of the past sent a ship to intercept Voyager?? I don't know why they would, but maybe ... It *would* give them an opportunity to acquire Starfleet technology without entering Federation space ...

[ Reply to This | Parent Comment ]

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