(written from a Production point of view)
With the Kazon-Nistrim in control of Voyager, the crew must return to basics in order to survive on a harsh world inhabited by alien natives and vicious predators. Meanwhile, Suder and The Doctor assist Paris's attempts to retake Voyager. (Season premiere)
- 1 Summary
- 2 Log entries
- 3 Memorable quotes
- 4 Background information
- 5 Links and references
Captain Kathryn Janeway and her crew are struggling to survive on the desolate planet on which the Kazon have abandoned them. It becomes immediately clear that their number one priority is to seek shelter from the elements. They move into one of the caves that appears to provide adequate protection given their circumstances. While Captain Janeway's team makes camp in that cave, one of the other teams, led by Neelix, is searching the surrounding area for food and supplies. Near the entrance of a cave, he and Hogan find humanoid bones. Neelix orders Hogan to gather the bones up so they can use them for tools and weapons. As Neelix goes to help another crewmember, Hogan gets attacked and dragged into the tunnel by an unknown predator. They rush to save him, but are too late and only find a few scraps of his uniform.
Back in the cave, Neelix is upset, blaming himself, thinking that if he hadn't ordered Hogan to collect those bones, he wouldn't be dead now. Janeway, who herself is deeply saddened by the news of Hogan's death, tells him that there is no time to worry about blame; Hogan was a fine officer, and she wants to make sure that his death was the last one for a long time. She orders her crew to be more careful and to hold on, as she will not allow them to be destroyed by this planet. She declares the tunnels off-limits and wants clear safety protocols established. Lieutenant Tuvok informs her that he has already begun to design some rudimentary weapons. Chakotay suggests that, as unpleasant as it sounds, he can use the remains of Hogan's uniform to make solar stills in order to produce water. When Neelix informs her that their search for food has come up with nothing, she tells the crew to start turning over rocks and eat insects if need be, and to make it clear to anyone who is disgusted as the prospect to consider themselves under captain's orders since they'll likely make the difference between life and death.
Back on the USS Voyager, Seska goes to sickbay to have The Doctor examine her child. She also informs him that the Kazon have taken over the ship and wonders if he has a problem with that change of command. The Doctor lies and tells her that he couldn't care less about who is running the ship for he is there to provide medical treatment to whoever needs it. He also tells her that lying and blunt deception are not part of his programming. After he finishes examining the baby he informs Seska that the DNA scan proves that her baby is not Commander Chakotay's son as she thought he was. Seska doesn't believe him at first given the child's appearance, but The Doctor explains that the baby is the first Cardassian-Kazon hybrid and therefore there is no reference in regards to his appearance but will likely develop more Kazon features as he grows. Visibly upset about the news The Doctor has given her, Seska rushes out of sickbay and deactivates the EMH. The Doctor, however, manages to reactivate himself again as Seska leaves and begins conducting some research of his own.
- "Medical log, stardate 50032.7. I have determined that Commander Chakotay is not the father of Seska's child. I only wish there was some way to inform him. What am I supposed to do? Lead a revolt with a gang from Sandrine's? Conjure up holograms of Nathan Hale and Che Guevara? I'm a doctor, not a counterinsurgent. Get hold of yourself. You're not just a hologram. You're a Starfleet hologram. Maybe... maybe I could access a tactical database, teach myself guerrilla warfare. But that would take time."
As he asks the computer for the crew complement, he finds out that in addition to the 89 Kazon, there is also one Betazoid, Lon Suder, on board. He contacts Suder and informs him about the situation. He tells him to make it to sickbay and asks the computer to delete the signature of Suder's combadge from the system to ensure he isn't counted among the crew complement and therefore be hidden from the Kazon.
Back on the planet, the crew is still struggling with meeting their basic needs. Night has fallen and temperatures have plummeted and they are forced to huddle together for warmth. Ensign Harry Kim and Lt. jg B'Elanna Torres return with eggs and some equivalent of cucumbers they found only two kilometers from where they found shelter, allow the crew to put off eating more insects for the time being. Ensign Wildman's baby, however, is starting to fall ill. Unfortunately, there's no way to diagnose what's wrong with her and she may simply be having difficulty coping with the planet's environment. Chakotay is upset at himself for not being able to start a fire, but recalling some survival advice taught by his father, later manages to do so when using Janeway's and other crew members' donated hair as kindling.
Later in the evening, while sitting around a fire to warm up, Neelix suggests putting some rocks around it to reflect the heat better. He sets off looking for more rocks, but disappears in the dark. When Kes follows him, she is captured by one of the natives.
Tom Paris contacts the Talaxians who inform him that Voyager has been taken over by the Kazon-Nistrim, who have been flooding every subspace frequency with the news. Despite initial misgivings and hesitation to help Paris and Voyager, Commander Paxim is persuaded to help Tom with his mission to make repairs to the shuttle-craft and rescue Voyager's crew.
Back on Voyager, The Doctor and Suder attempt to plan a way of retaking the ship – a plan which, much to the dismay of Suder, may involve the use of violence and even necessitate killing. Suder feels uneasy about such prospects, especially after he has worked so hard over the past few months to control his violent impulses. But The Doctor tells him that even Tuvok would agree that there are times where violence is required to defend one's ship and one's crew. He asks Suder to trust him and promises to help him in any way he can: one hologram and one sociopath may not be much of a match for the Kazon, says The Doctor, but it will have to do.
Down on the planet, Chakotay informs Janeway of signs of a struggle near the edge of the camp and of Neelix' and Kes' disappearance. Janeway decides that they cannot wait until the morning to look for them and sends out search parties right away. Chakotay's party finds them and he tries to communicate with the leader of the group. The elderly leader tries to appease Chakotay by letting him have Neelix but he and the group are reluctant to hand Kes back because they obviously think of her as a suitable and desirable mate, going so far as to fight over her amongst each other. Chakotay and Neelix refuse to leave without her and the leader offers one of the group's young females in exchange for Kes. Neelix is angered by the offer, but Chakotay tells him to stay calm. He tries to reason with the leader by telling him that the girl belongs with them and that Kes must go with him and Neelix. He tells Kes to calmly get up and walk away with him and Neelix. But this enrages the natives even more and they start to chase them. Even as Tuvok and others try to fight them, they are forced to enter one of the caves in the hopes that the natives know of the dangerous creatures inside them and will not follow them in.
Back on Voyager, Culluh's men have trouble completing repairs to the ship. Seska suspects sabotage and orders a ship-wide search for an intruder, including the use of Starfleet tricorders. The Doctor and Suder, in sickbay, are listening to Seska's orders on a monitor. Suder decides to use a thoron generator to mask his lifesigns from the tricorders as he proceeds back into hiding.
Meanwhile, the natives force Chakotay's team deeper into the cave where they are forced to struggle with one of the ferocious creatures and even lose one of their crew members to it. Outside, Janeway and her group attempt to distract the natives away from the tunnels so that Chakotay and his crew can come back out. Torres and two other crew members manage to distract the natives away from the cave entrance, while Janeway and the remainder of her team move near the cave entrance for a rescue attempt. She is able to reach Chakotay and his search party, who have barely escaped the creature within the cave. Chakotay, Tuvok and Kim are the last ones who manage to make it out of the cave just in time, but not before they collapse the tunnel entrance with falling rocks and debris to keep the creature away.
Back on Voyager, The Doctor receives a masked subspace message from Tom Paris, who informs him that he is bringing help but that he needs The Doctor to block the discharge from the back-up phaser power couplings when the attack begins, he needs those backups to overload when the Kazon switch to them. Just then, Suder returns with a dead Kazon, whom he was forced to kill before he could alert Seska to his location. After doing this, he returns to sickbay, visibly distraught over what he was forced to do. The Doctor tries to calm him down by telling him that he did what needed to be done and offers him drugs to calm him down, but Suder refuses wanting to do it on his own. Meanwhile, Culluh gets a fake message (courtesy of Tom Paris) claiming that the shuttle has been destroyed, but Seska reminds him that two crewmembers were unaccounted for when the ship was captured. Culluh tells her that the search for an intruder has been slowed by a thoron leak, which makes Seska certain there's an intruder as she remembers that the Maquis used thoron particles to fool tricorders.
Seska storms into sickbay, asking The Doctor about the thoron generator. He tells her that it was damaged on a recent away mission, but Seska doesn't believe him. She says she knows that a Maquis is involved in the sabotage, but The Doctor claims full responsibility for it all, stating that he has been the one sabotaging the ship all along, together with the computer, and that he in fact was forced to kill one of the Kazon who walked in on him and caught him in the act. Seska still doesn't believe him, no matter what he says. Angrily, she rushes out of sickbay, telling the computer not to accept any more voice commands by Starfleet personnel and then damages sickbay's holoemitters, thus taking The Doctor offline.
Successful at escaping both the savage natives and the creature in the cave, the senior officers begin debating as to whether they should prepare to engage the natives again. Tuvok believes that the crew should prepare to engage the natives, although Janeway and Chakotay would rather find a way to coexist peacefully with them. Tuvok warns ths may not be possible; although they understand the natives position, the natives clearly don't appreciate theirs. Meanwhile Wildman's baby is deteriorating and is now having trouble breathing. However, priorities shift quickly when seismic activity increases rapidly and a nearby volcano begins to erupt. Janeway orders an immediate evacuation of the camp.
Suder comes out of hiding and unsuccessfully tries to access the EMH. However, The Doctor, who has programmed a message to play for him in case he is disabled, tells Suder that the fate of Voyager solely depends on him. He tells him that he has full confidence in Suder's abilities and that he is fully confident that Suder will do the right thing.
On the bridge, the Kazon follow the attacking Talaxians into a nebula, in order to teach them a lesson. Commander Paxim informs Tom that the Kazon are following them as planned. As Voyager enters the nebula, Tom follows through with his plan of attacking the phaser power couplings.
Back on the planet, the crew flees in search of higher ground and encounter the group of natives once more. However, Chakotay manages to gain the group's trust by saving one of the young female natives from a lava stream. The leader of the natives leads the crew to safer ground.
In main engineering, Suder sets out to follow through with his plan, attacking and killing all the Kazon in engineering. Just as he finishes up to execute Paris' plan, he is fatally shot by one of the Kazon from behind. Slumping against the console and collapsing to the floor, Suder manages to execute the settings as he dies.
On the bridge, the Kazon identify their mystery attacker: the Federation shuttlecraft they thought they had destroyed. Culluh orders it destroyed with the ship's phasers but the attack has knocked the primary phaser power off-line. Seska barks an order to switch to backup systems, restoring power. Culluh opens fire, but, an alarm sounds on the bridge. Before the Kazon can react, the overloaded power couplings short out all the consoles on Voyager, disabling the Kazon crew.
Hearing her baby's cries from the ready room, Seska struggles to her feet to answer the child. As she enters the ready room, she barely has enough strength left to reach out to her baby before dying. Culluh, overcome with grief over the loss of Seska, takes the child in arm and orders the Nistrim to abandon Voyager upon hearing a report that they are being boarded by the Talaxians. Paris and the Talaxians beam into the bridge and set to work repairing the ship, allowing the Kazon to escape via the escape pods and their shuttles.
On the planet, the crew has finally made peace with the natives with one of them giving the baby a herb that helps her to breath better. Everyone's attention is suddenly drawn to the sky as Voyager arrives on the horizon, much to the surprise of Janeway and Chakotay. Assuming command once again, Paris welcomes the Captain back aboard, congratulating him on his successful retaking of Voyager. Paris remarks he had help from the Talaxians, The Doctor and Suder, informing Janeway that Suder's last act was to disable the phasers before he was killed by the Kazon. In sickbay, The Doctor also commends the actions of Suder to Tuvok, who offers a Vulcan prayer to the Betazoid in the hopes that he has finally managed to find the peace he so desired. On another biobed, Chakotay also bids farewell to Seska despite all the havoc she had wrought upon him and the Voyager crew.
With Voyager capable of sustained flight, Janeway orders Paris to take them away from their "new home" and to set a course for the old one. After two years of sustained hostilities, Voyager finally moves beyond Kazon space and deeper into the Delta Quadrant.
"Medical log, stardate 50032.7. I have determined that Commander Chakotay is not the father of Seska's child. I only wish there was some way to inform him. What am I supposed to do? Lead a revolt with a gang from Sandrine's? Conjure up holograms of Nathan Hale and Che Guevara? I'm a doctor, not a counterinsurgent. Get hold of yourself. You're not just a hologram. You're a Starfleet hologram. Maybe... maybe I could access a tactical database, teach myself guerrilla warfare. But that would take time."
"Don't push yourself. That goes for everyone. Perspiring wastes water."
- - Chakotay
"I don't have time for this!"
- - Tom Paris, as he is being attacked by a Kazon ship
"I told you I don't have time for this!"
- - Tom Paris, to the Kazon shuttle he destroyed with phasers
"It's my fault. If I hadn't told Hogan to pick up those bones."
"You shouldn't blame yourself."
"Stop it. There is no time to worry about blame. Hogan was a fine officer and a good man. And our job is to make sure that his death is the last one for a very long time. I will not let this planet destroy my crew."
- - Neelix, Kes and Janeway, after finding the remains of Hogan's uniform
"I'm a doctor, not a counter-insurgent. Get a hold of yourself. You're not just a hologram, you're a Starfleet hologram!"
- - The Doctor, to himself
"Huddle together in groups, that'll preserve body heat. This is no time to be shy."
- - Janeway, to her shivering crew
"Trapped on a barren planet, and you're stuck with the only Indian in the universe who can't start a fire by rubbing two sticks together."
- - Chakotay, to Janeway
"If you can help me with repairs, we can be on our way in a few hours."
"Lieutenant, our ships are no match for Voyager and your shuttlecraft can hardly–"
"Commander Paxim, my people are counting on you! Look, no one knows Voyager like I do. I know every vulnerability, every blind spot. Don't worry, I have a plan. "
(sigh) "Very well. We'll rendezvous in an hour. Paxim out."
(to himself) "One hour. I should be able to come up with some kind of plan in one hour."
- - Tom Paris asking for help from Talaxian Commander Paxim
"One hologram and one sociopath may not be much of a match for the Kazon, but... we'll have to do."
- - The Doctor to crewman Lon Suder
"You're more talented in the art of deception than you led me to believe."
"I was inspired by the presence of a master."
- - Seska and The Doctor
"I won't play these games with a trick of light."
"Sticks and stones won't break my bones, so you can imagine how I feel about being called names."
- - Seska and The Doctor
"The other two seem to be trying to figure out what to make of us... In a manner of speaking, not in a culinary sense, I hope."
- - Neelix
"Engineering to Maje Culluh! We're being boarded!"
- - Kazon soldier and Culluh
"You would have been proud of him, Mr. Tuvok."
"I offer you a Vulcan prayer, Mr. Suder. May your death bring you the peace you never found in life."
- - The Doctor and Tuvok
Story and script
- The writing staff of I AM ERROR was initially unsure of how it should resolve, in this episode, the problematic situation in which the Voyager crew finds itself, in the previous episode. Co-executive producer Jeri Taylor recalled, "Did we know, when we wrote the cliffhanger, how we were going to get them out of there? No. I think, by the end of the [second] season, the writing staff was so exhausted and just trying to make it to the end of the season. And you know you've got a great cliffhanger, and you're done, and you want to go off and just sort of sleep for six weeks. And then, you come back and you're faced with the problem of, 'What do we do?! How do we get them off of there?' And that's one of those corners you paint yourself into. So we had our work cut out for us, when we came back, and we got them off." (Braving the Unknown: Season Three, VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- This was co-executive producer Michael Piller's last Voyager script, though he remained a creative consultant on the show. Piller originally wanted Seska's baby to die. Shortly after writing the episode, he explained, "There was some concern about the violence in the second part, which we have toned down. This story had Seska experiencing the ultimate culmination of all her evil. I had the opinion that she needed to lose something very dear to her to pay for her crimes, so it was my opinion from the beginning that her loss should be what she loves most, her child." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Another factor that inspired Piller to come up with this notion was that it would serve as a mirror to a birth within the Voyager crew. Piller later recalled, "I wanted the child of Chakotay and Seska to die [...] as a counterpoint to the birth of Ensign [Wildman]'s baby on the planet." (AOL chat, 1997) This birth was evidently, at some point thereafter, moved to instead being a plot point of the second season installment "Deadlock". In accordance with Piller's wishes, the original draft of this episode's teleplay had Seska live and her baby die. 
- However, the idea of having the baby die was vetoed by Piller's fellow executive producers. "Rick and Jeri felt that it was in extremely bad taste and too violent," Piller remembered. "Although the studio liked the ending that I wrote, Rick and Jeri felt that they could not live with it, so we started exploring other endings. Those included having Seska grab the baby and having Culluh die, which was certainly doable – if you believed that Seska really loved Culluh and moaned about losing him, but I don't think anybody would buy that. I didn't think that was satisfying enough, that she didn't get her just reward. The next alternative was to kill Seska, which certainly would be a dramatic reward, but that left us with Chakotay's baby on the ship. Chakotay would not just let anybody take that baby off the ship. Jeri wanted no part of a baby being left on board, so she vetoed that one. Well, the only other solution I could think of, somewhat contrived, I will admit, is that it turns out it's not Chakotay's baby after all. She thinks it is, but it's not." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Piller later remarked, "[The original idea] was deemed to be thematically too violent and so the baby lived but turned out to be not Chakotay's after all, which undermined the effectiveness of the story I was trying to tell. I was a lame duck and leaving, so I couldn't fight very hard. That's the only thing I ever remember not getting that I wanted in my entire Star Trek career." (AOL chat, 1997) The decision to settle on the alternative of killing Seska (while also having Culluh remove the unwanted baby, his own son) was made only two or three days before the episode entered production. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 83; Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 38)
- Michael Piller wanted the character of Lon Suder – whom Piller had created, earlier in the second season – to survive the events of this episode, but Jeri Taylor was uninterested in further developing the character, who is consequently one of many who die in the episode's final moments. Piller commented, "It's a real wipeout. Jeri never cared for Suder and had no interest in developing him any further, so there was no point in keeping him alive. And a dramatic arc is fully realized by having his death occur at the end of part two. He heroically sacrifices himself for the ship." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) According to Jeri Taylor herself, the decision to have Suder killed was made because the writers couldn't see how he could really be redeemed and he was simply too difficult to integrate with the other characters believably and well. (Delta Quadrant, p. 129)
- The final draft of the episode's script was submitted on 2 April 1996. 
- Seska actress Martha Hackett became aware of the changes to this episode's conclusion, having seen that the original script draft had Seska live and her baby die. "I got the page changes, so I saw that two days later it had reversed," Hackett recalled.  She clarified, "In fact [in] pages I got three days before the shoot, I lived, and then 24 hours later I died." The actress added, "They were having a heated debate about it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 83) Martha Hackett also remembered, "I didn't know I was going to be killed off until three days before we started shooting the episode. They had different versions of the script, and I [originally] thought the baby was going to be killed and [the crew] were going to blast Seska off into space." The actress then noted that this conclusion would have made it possible for Seska to return at some undetermined point in the future. (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 38)
- Martha Hackett was disappointed by the episode's final version. She remarked, "They [were] retreating from the story lines. They just wanted to get out of there." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 83) Despite these frustrations, Hackett also thought "these are things that actors don't have any control over; these are all producer decisions." She added, "For someone like me who is a recurring character and not even a series regular, it's not something you argue about." 
- One particular plot point that Martha Hackett was unhappy about was her own character's death. "Even after they killed me I thought, 'Maybe tomorrow they'll change their minds,'" Hackett remembered. "I wished if they were going to do away with Seska, that they'd done it in a more pointed way. I thought a face-off was an opportunity that was missed." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, pp. 85 & 87) The actress elaborated, "I felt if Janeway or Chakotay had to kill her in self-defense, or to protect someone else, it would have had more impact. Here was this nemesis who was able to take over the ship, and then she just gets killed in an accident. It seemed like they deflated what they already built for me." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 83) In addition, Hackett commented, "I was always grouchy about the way they killed me off, because there should have been a showdown between Janeway and Seska. This whole thing with the ship getting bumped, and the baby survives but I don't? That's nutty! For Seska to die that way was like rolling over."  The actress also remarked, "I think it was a mistake to kill Seska. I just felt that if they were going to kill her off, they should have done it in a more fantastic way. It would have been interesting if it had been something that came down to being between Seska and Captain Janeway, or Seska and Chakotay. She was their nemesis, and for her to die in a ship blast seemed like an easy way out. There were other opportunities for a face-off where they couldn't help but kill her off. But that's just me talking. I suppose the writers felt like they were at the end of that storyline." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 38)
- Another facet of the story that irritated Martha Hackett was that the father of Seska's baby was changed from being Chakotay to Culluh. "I was disappointed that it wasn't Chakotay's child," Hackett related. "That was a plot point that came at the last minute too, and I just thought that took the wind out of the sails a little bit." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 83) Hackett also said, "To not make the child Chakotay's was a wimpy move. If the child is his, it provides a lot more complex stuff for him later on down the line. Like it or not, that is a more complicated experience, so they kind of took the wind out of their own sails." 
- Robert Picardo was very pleased by the inclusion of Brad Dourif and his character of Suder in this episode. Picardo enthused, "I liked that Suder proved himself to be a hero [....] I thought [Brad Dourif] was terrific in 'Basics, Part II'. I was very pleased to have a few scenes with him." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 10)
- Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew, who counted this episode as one of her eight favorite installments from Star Trek: Voyager's third season, also thought highly of Brad Dourif's performance here. "Wasn't Brad Dourif wonderful in that?" Mulgrew rhetorically asked. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 14, p. 32)
- Visual effects producer Dan Curry worked on designing the primitive weapons of the Hanonians in March 1996, creating at least three sheets of concept sketches (misspelling the word "primitive" each time, the groups of sketches were named "primative weapons," "more primative weapons," "even more primative weapons," and "still more primative weapons"). This design process was influenced by memories from his youth. "When I was a boy, my mother gave me a book on the history of weapons by Edwin Tunis," Curry recalled. "And I remembered all those drawings of the early cave weapons and stuff like that. So when this episode came along, it gave me the opportunity to kind of delve into those childhood memories and design some vicious but practical things that would be wielded by these primitive people. So, because [of] a childhood interest in, I guess, growing up watching adventure movies and a childhood interest in various weapons of different historical periods, it gave me the background [to] – from memory and using my own imagination – come up with weapons that seem appropriate for the level of technology of those people." (Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- This episode was not filmed back-to-back with the previous installment of the "Basics" two-parter. Remarking on this aspect, Jeri Taylor said, "It doesn't matter, because we have so much time in postproduction, we can film the [first four episodes of the next season] in any order we want." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Indeed, this episode was one of four that were filmed at the end of the second season yet intended for the third season, the others being "Sacred Ground", "False Profits" and "Flashback". (Star Trek: Voyager Companion) Evidenced by both this episode's production number as well as the books A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager and the Star Trek Encyclopedia, this episode was the last episode of the second season to be shot. Commenting on this episode, Jeri Taylor stated, "We waited because the second half of the cliff-hanger is a heavy location show and with daylight saving time and longer daylight hours, we simply got longer days in which to film outdoors." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- The extensive location filming took place in Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California, requiring the cast and visual effects team to spend a considerable duration away from the Paramount Pictures lot. The opportunity to go on location was enjoyed by cast and crew alike. Dan Curry remarked, "One of the fun things about [working on 'Basics'] was we shot on location in Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine, California. And Alabama Hills was the scene for such classics as Gunga Din [and] King of the Khyber Rifles. About half the Westerns ever made were out there. And so it was almost like going on to an archaeological expedition, because we found the footings for the elephant bridge from Gunga Din." Remembering how the visual effects team and director Winrich Kolbe scouted the area, Dan Curry stated, "We poked around and said, 'Okay, where's the lava going to be?' And we found a dry stream bed, so Rick Kolbe and I kind of climbed down and said, 'Okay, we're going to have Chakotay jump over here and we can have the stranded Neolithic woman surrounded by deadly lava on that rock.' And so it was kind of a little mental exercise, trying to figure out, 'What would we see if it were really there, but it's not really there now?'" (Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 3 DVD special features) Samantha Wildman actress Nancy Hower reflected, "We shot for a week in the desert in Lone Pine, Calif., and that was great fun – except for the fact that I was getting over pneumonia. Other than that I had a really good time." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 121, p. 64) Winrich Kolbe noted, "We had a wonderful time shooting it up in the hills north of LA." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 15)
- Scenes set on the surface of Hanon IV were not only filmed on location, however; a massive planet set on Paramount Stage 16, Paramount's largest soundstage, was built to additionally represent the planet surface, consuming more than half the soundstage (which simultaneously housed the Chez Sandríne set). The construction of the Hanon IV set involved tons of dirt to be hauled in and heaped up around rocks and cave walls, the stage's wooden floor to be built up in several areas and covered with more dirt, as well as a few shrubs and scraggly-looking plants to be added, providing touches of greenery in the otherwise predominantly earthy environment. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager)
- The last day of filming on this episode was Friday, 19 April 1996, which turned out to be a tiresome and long day for most of the individuals involved. The makeup call on that day was at 7:30 a.m. and, that evening, Rick Kolbe filmed a scene on the Hanon IV set at 10:30 p.m., while the stage contained many more extras and production crew members than was usual; the extras numbered about twenty, with most playing unnamed Hanonians but some wearing Starfleet uniforms. The scene that was being filmed was the one in which Chakotay lights a fire by causing friction with the use of primitive implements. Actor Robert Beltran had difficulty with starting the fire, despite the best efforts of the shooting crew to lend some support. After having shot multiple takes of Beltran struggling to spark the fire, Kolbe, at 11 p.m., surrendered to the inevitability of having to fake the scene, remarking, "We'll show him doing that business with the bow, then we'll cut to smiling happy faces as everybody reacts to Chakotay's success, then we'll cut to the fire." Relieved to be done with the scene, Beltran handed the "fire-starting tools" to property master Alan Sims and momentarily walked off the set. Meanwhile, the extras began to be released as they finished their scenes. Beltran and Tim Russ were not finished with working on the episode until 1:40 a.m. early the next morning, by which time all the extras had left. After Beltran and Russ completed their last scene, everyone else present gave them a big round of applause and there was a brief interval from shooting, in order to prepare for the next scene, the last to be shot. The only performers involved in the final scene were Kate Mulgrew, Roxann Dawson and Garrett Wang. Dawson tiredly began to get into position for rehearsing the scene, which was being filmed by 2:10 a.m. but also required numerous takes. Kolbe did not like the first take and sound mixer Alan Bernard had considerable trouble with the sound levels but everything worked perfectly on the fourth take, after which everyone left on stage applauded the actors before they all went home. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager)
- The Hanonian land eel of this episode was the first alien lifeform on Voyager to be generated entirely by CGI techniques. Voyager's visual effects team would experiment with CGI as a means of creating non-humanoid aliens again in "Macrocosm" before doing so to design the look of Species 8472 for the season finale, "Scorpion". Prior to generating the Hanonian land eel in CGI, however, Dan Curry drew conceptual art of the creature, one example of which is dated February 1996 and refers to the creature simply as "tunnel dweller." A maquette of the beast was also created. Regarding the process of designing the Hanonian land eel, Dan Curry remembered, "The script called for a creature that lived in the tunnels and was always hungry [....] Whenever I design creatures, I try to use [the] Darwinian approach where, 'What's its environment? What would it need, to exist in that environment?' So, since it was a cave-dweller, I thought it would be cool if it had certain eel-like properties – that was very voracious and had a big mouth – but gave it radically symmetrical appendages, like big claws, so it could kind of scramble up tubes. And like a puffer fish, that it would have air bladders, that it could squeeze itself into a tube and fill it, so it could kind of hang out there or contract itself, so it could go forward. And that's how we arrived at the creature that you saw in the show." (Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- The Hanonian land eel of this episode was Foundation Imaging's first association with Star Trek. CGI effects director Ron Thornton recalled, "'The guys from Star Trek approached us about doing a creature because they liked some of the work we had done on Babylon 5, so we were taken on just to do a handful of shots of this worm creature for the 'Basics' two-parter. We started on that creature just as we were finishing season three of Babylon 5, and one of our animators, John Teska [...] came up with some wonderful stuff. The producers were very pleased with it, but there was no indication that they wanted to use us for anything else. It was absolutely a one-off." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 16) However, John Teska's creation was such that Dan Curry became convinced that Foundation was up to the task of providing CGI for the series and, from VOY: "The Swarm" onward, Foundation became the regular CGI supplier for Star Trek: Voyager. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 6, page 46)
- Visual effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore cited this episode as one of many featuring a creature (in this case, the Hanonian land eel) whose design was unknown at the time of filming the live elements in the shots involving the creature: "It's a lot of times where, at that stage when we're shooting it, we don't know what it is. We don't know what it's going to look like, we're in the middle of design and stuff like that, which can make it very difficult. But I remember a lot of that happened with the snake. The hard part was it had to snatch somebody off and eat them. And it's like, 'Okay, ah... we don't know what it is, but we know it's gonna eat this guy.'" (Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- Filming the sequence in which an officer falls victim to the land eel's voracious appetite involved stunt coordinator Dennis Madalone playing the doomed officer as well as several visual effects that were later applied in post-production. Ronald B. Moore commented, "Dennis 'Danger', the stunt man, was very good... to simulate this, and we could pull him off the rocks. And then we have twofold, then; we have to remove whatever he needed to assist him, which would be cables or anything else, and then animate the creature to make it look like... he got pulled off. Setting that stuff up can be tricky, but fun." Jokingly, Moore added, "And we didn't really eat him!" (Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- The visual effects team had difficulty with the shots involving the lava. "The biggest challenge on 'Basics,'" Dan Curry recalled, "was the lava. So, we found some 16mm footage of real lava – taken from a lot of different angles in Hawaii – and steadied it and tweaked it and skewed it into the perspective that we wanted it, then added a lot of liquid nitrogen – smoke to make it look hot and steamy – and traced where it would be running in the dry stream beds. And it worked very well, because it was real lava, and therefore, it gave a greater sense of reality than a lot of the cinematic lava we've seen in the past." (Red Alert: Amazing Visual Effects, VOY Season 3 DVD special features) Curry also explained, "We created the lava streams by carefully cobbling together elements of real lava, and manipulating it into the perspectives that are appropriate, working with compositing editor Don Greenberg at Digital Magic. I electronically air-brushed very soft mattes so I could feather different pieces of lava together, hiding the seams with smoke, either CO2 or liquid nitrogen. I think that gives the lava sequences a reality that I don't think we could have obtained with the more traditional synthetic lava techniques. The volcanoes were matte paintings. Then we took pieces of lava that were shot at night in Hawaii. Because there is a great contrasting ratio between the black night and the bubbling lava, we were able to isolate the glowing lava, then key it into our volcanoes." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 112)
- One of the scenes for which the lava was required was the one in which Chakotay rescues a stranded, female Hanonian from the streaming lava. "There's one shot where we see our people running and lava trickling through the rocks," Dan Curry commented. "I traced where I wanted the lava to go and then we'd matte it into little windows, so it had the natural look of trickling around the rocks, with steam. Those were accomplished in a very 'painterly' way, working with [...] Don Greenberg." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 112)
- This episode marks the deaths of recurring characters Seska (Martha Hackett), Suder (Brad Dourif) and Hogan (Simon Billig).
- Although Culluh actor Anthony De Longis had hoped his character would – in this episode's conclusion – promise to return before leaving Voyager (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18), this episode marks Culluh's final appearance on Star Trek: Voyager. However, his picture is shown to Seven of Nine aboard the 29th century timeship USS Relativity in "Relativity", albeit as part of a data file depicting the Kazon in general.
- Voyager never encounters the Kazon again (although a temporal anomaly causes Engineering to regress to this period in time in "Shattered"). They are also briefly seen again in "Living Witness", in a deeply flawed recreation of Voyager in which a few Kazon are enslaved crew members on board Voyager, where they are used as members of the warship Voyager's fighting force. The decision that this episode would be the last substantial appearance of the Kazon was an intentional one. Jeri Taylor, who felt they were overused as villainous aliens, commented, "After the cliffhanger, which does involve the Kazon, it is my intention to leave them behind and to find new and I hope more interesting aliens." (Star Trek Monthly issue 18) Taylor later recalled, "I personally had long since tired of the Kazon, before that episode was ever produced or even conceived, and was glad to be able to say that's the last that we will see of the Kazon." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 83) The next major enemy race (the Borg) do not make their full appearance until the end of the third season.
- We learn in this episode that Tuvok taught Archery Science at the Vulcan Institute for Defensive Arts for several years.
- The remnants of Hogan's corpse are later excavated by the Voth, and help the alien species come in contact with USS Voyager in "Distant Origin".
- The Kazon crew wear the Starfleet combadges on the right side, instead of the familiar left.
- After retaking Voyager from the Kazon in this episode, Janeway orders Paris to "Take us away from our new home and set a course for the old one." In "Basics, Part I", Seska refers to Hanon IV as the "new home" of the joint Starfleet/Maquis crew.
Reception and aftermath
- Rumors that circulated prior to the airing of this episode, claiming that a regular character would be killed off during the course of the third season, were reported as perhaps having been influenced by the death of Hogan in this episode. (Star Trek Monthly issue 20)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 5.9 million homes, and a 9% share. Star Trek: Communicator issue 109, p. 14) Rick Berman was happy with the episode's viewing figures. During the third season, he commented, "We just got the ratings for Voyager's season premiere and they are marvelous. We came in first in about seven or eight cities and out of the six networks, we came in third. I'm very pleased that people watched the second part of the ['Basics'] cliffhanger." (
- An element of the viewer response to this episode, however, was the fact that most of the series' viewers were surprised and disappointed by Seska's sudden departure. (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 38)
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 85)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 3 out of 5 stars, defined as "Warp Speed". (Star Trek Monthly issue 23, p. 58)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 131) gives this installment a rating of 7 out of 10.
- After the episode's initial airing, Jeri Taylor commented, "'Basics, Part II' continued in that same rousing action-adventure mode [of 'Basics, Part I']." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 10) In addition, she enthused, "It had all the requisites of a season opener. It was big, it was epic, it was sweeping, there was lots of jeopardy. I think for what it needed to be, it did it very well." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 85)
- Also following this episode (which Robert Picardo noted involved "a very provocative situation because I ended up having to counsel Suder, which is not exactly what I've been programmed to do"), Robert Picardo suggested a storyline to the writers in which his own character of The Doctor would have counseled Paris about his relationship with his father. Picardo noted, "It would be an extension of what we saw in 'Basics, Part II,' I guess." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 10)
- Several costumes and props from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including the costume worn by Russ Fega (as Paxim). 
Video and DVD releases
- This volume sees a slight change in the sleeve design – the episode band is segmented, and the episode names are placed along the bottom of their segment.
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek - Greatest Battles: 16 November 1998.
- In feature-length form, as part of the UK VHS release Star Trek: Voyager - Movies: Volume 1 (with "Future's End"), 14 August 2000.
- As part of the VOY Season 3 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
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Special guest star
- Anthony De Longis as Culluh
- Martha Hackett as Seska
- Nancy Hower as Samantha Wildman
- Simon Billig as Hogan
- Scott Haven as a Kazon-Nistrim engineer
- David Cowgill as Hanonian #2
- Michael Bailey Smith as Hanonian #1
- John Kenton Shull as a Hanonian medicine man
- Brian Donofrio as science division officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Heather Ferguson as command division officer
- Sue Henley as Brooks
- Kerry Hoyt as Fitzpatrick
- Donald R. Jankiewicz as Hanonian
- Patrick Jankiewicz as Hanonian
- Susan Lewis as operations division officer
- Dennis Madalone as science division officer
- Linda Madalone as Hanonian
- Mark Major as Kazon-Nistrim
- Lorin McCraley as Hanonian
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Shepard Ross as Murphy
- Lydia Shiferaw as command division officer
- Jennifer Somers as science division officer
- Charles Spector as Talaxian officer 1
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
- Joan Valentine as operations division officer
- Unknown performers as
47 references; Alpha Quadrant; bedside manner; Betazoid; blind spot; bowels; cave; Che Guevara; Class 2 shuttle; combadge; decathlon; egg; Emergency medical holographic channel; escape pod; Federation; fever; piggyback; Hale, Nathan; Hanon IV; Hanonian; Hanonian land eel; "I'm a doctor, not a..."; improvoline; interspecific reproduction; Intrepid-class; Kazon; Kazon-Halik; Kazon-Nistrim; kilometer; kindling; Kolopak; lie; logic; Maquis; morgue; Native American; Prema II; runner; savage; sickbay; solar still; Starfleet Academy; Talaxian; Talaxian ship; thoron; thoron generator; thoron radiation; track and field; tricorder; visual playback log; volcano; Voyager, USS; Vulcan; Vulcan Institute for Defensive Arts; Vulcan prayer
"Basics, Part I"
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