(written from a Production point of view)
Over time and generations, a world tries to uncover the mystery of a strange object in the sky.
The USS Voyager approaches a planet rotating 58 times per minute and, while investigating, the ship enters a gravimetric gradient pulling it into a geosynchronous orbit in which the crew becomes trapped. On the planet, a native is then seen preparing an altar. Just then, an earthquake occurs, and the native sees a new star in the sky, which is Voyager.
The civilization, who had been worshiping a deity called Tahal, is confused at the situation. Another of the natives comes to interpret that there is a new deity wishing to be worshiped, orders a new altar to be made for it, and promises allegiance to the new one, calling it Ground Shaker.
The tachyon core of the planet has created a differential in space-time, meaning that time passes much more quickly on the planet than in the rest of space. Within "moments" of Voyager's arrival and entrapment many years have passed on the surface. The initial entry into orbit coincides with an earthquake interpreted by the inhabitants as an act of a new deity, the Voyager ship appearing as a new bright star in the sky. Chakotay asks B'Elanna Torres to reconfigure a class 5 probe to take pictures every ten milliseconds, and to take surveys of the planet to help try to get Voyager out of orbit. Chakotay goes on to say that this could be the best anthropological find ever; it is one thing to dig and find the history, but to watch the civilization develop before your eyes is another thing entirely. After Torres tells Chakotay that it could take a few hours to reconfigure the probe, he says that they might miss the rise and fall of a civilization. Torres reassures him that they'll just have to watch the next one.
As time passes, the planet's inhabitants quickly change to a pre-medieval level of technology. An old teacher climbs a hill to one of his former students who is now a protector. He believes the star is from another civilization like theirs, and the Ground Shaker their protector, like himself. He intends to send a letter via hot air balloon, and has the teacher write a note for him, asking him to stop shaking the ground.
Torres and Chakotay are fascinated as they observe scans from the probe indicating that the civilization has entered an industrial age, creating roads and more fortified buildings than normal for a civilization in that stage. Furthermore, they can tell the frequency of the earthquakes. The probe, however, soon decays and disintegrates in the atmosphere, as it's operating in the space-time of the planet, equivalent to over 200 years. Chakotay surmises that the civilization is advanced enough that it should be observing Voyager.
On the planet, an astronomical observatory exists. A scientist there is able to observe Voyager through its telescope and is trying to contact it through radio transmissions, however, it is not responding, to both him and his tired assistant's dismay. They are trying one last time before calling it a day when the assistant suggests a personal message in addition to mathematical sequences and constants.
In astrometrics, Seven of Nine detects the transmission and Chakotay recognizes they need to slow down the frequency to interpret it. In the message, the astronomer explains the culture and mythology of the planet's people. In a senior staff briefing, the crew listens to the message. For centuries the society lives with the constant ground-shaking effect brought about by Voyager and its effects on the natural poles and rotation of the planet. Cautious about first contact with a pre-warp society and aware of the accelerated aging causing by the time differential, Captain Janeway employs The Doctor to beam to the planet on an undercover mission to gather data in an effort to find a way for Voyager to escape orbit. As Janeway and Torres prepare to beam him back, the signal is lost.
By the time The Doctor is successfully located and beamed back on board, three years have passed on the planet. Overjoyed to see them, he explains that Voyager has been a catalyst for invention and that a space race is in progress to make contact. Voyager is also used as a catalyst for religion, music, art, and even children's toys. He tells the captain that his roommate, with whom he shared an apartment, even composed an aria about Voyager. He said the apartment was destroyed by a rival state's cannon shells when they started a war with the one he was in. The Doctor goes on to explain that the war was finished in "a matter of weeks" when a new treaty was signed.
He also informs Janeway that he has committed to memory the last three hundred years of meteorological records and some seismic analysis from the planet. Using The Doctor's data, the crew attempts an escape, but after only fifty meters of ascent, seismic activity increases and the exercise is aborted. In the meantime, a space capsule from the planet's surface reaches Voyager and its two-person crew find the crew in what appears to be some form of stasis; the time differential causes them to observe only microseconds passing on board the ship while they experience several minutes. When they reach the bridge, they witness Neelix in the middle of pouring Janeway some coffee and realize it is not stasis they are witnessing, but a time differential. Right after, they enter Voyager's time-frame and collapse, to the surprise of the bridge crew. Janeway immediately calls for medical emergency.
In sickbay, The Doctor was able to save the pilot, Gotana-Retz, while the commander, Terrina, does not survive the transition. The Doctor notes that, given his extensive knowledge of local physiology, he is as good as Retz' family doctor. Retz is revived in sickbay in the company of Janeway and The Doctor. After hearing the news of his fallen comrade, he informs Janeway that he is beginning to understand the time differential between his world and Voyager. Janeway explains the difference in time to Retz in greater detail, to which he asks, "So you really haven't been watching us for centuries?" Captain Janeway replies "Actually, we just got here. And we're hoping you can help us find a way to leave."
Later, Gotana-Retz meets with Janeway in her ready room. Retz realizes that everyone he knew when he left his planet is long dead. He tells the Captain that although he is an accomplished pilot, he lacks the courage of his associates and they made a mistake choosing him. Janeway disagrees, telling Retz that for someone whose life has been turned upside down, he is handling it well. Retz reminisces and tells Janeway that when he was a child lying in his crib, his first memory was not of his mother's face, but of the sky ship toy hanging above, and now he is the only one of his kind to know its true name: Voyager. It is obvious that he, much like the rest of his species, has always fantasized about what the sky ship is really like. Retz then wonders if Voyager will be the last thing he will ever see. The captain informs him that she has no intention of keeping him aboard against his will, but warns that the longer he stays, the harder it could become for him to return home.
Retz takes a moment to think about this and begins to sing in nostalgic reflection, "Star of the night, star of the day, come to take my tears away. Make my life always bright." As he trails off, he tells Janeway that it's a child's prayer to Voyager. The captain hopes that Retz is not too disappointed in discovering that Voyager is merely a starship. Retz replies, "How often does your very first dream come true?" And although every minute spent aboard means that months and even years pass on the surface, he agrees to help the crew interpret The Doctor's data and find a way to break orbit.
The weapons are soon causing major damage to Voyager's shields, so Janeway convinces Retz to go back to the planet to convince his people the ship is not a threat. He agrees, and returns to his planet with Voyager's specifications, with Janeway hoping he can convince his planet's rulers to stop the attacks and help them leave orbit. Before the pilot leaves, The Doctor tells him that, when he was living on the planet, he had a son who was probably long dead by this point. He asks the pilot to contact the members of his son's family to tell them about him. The pilot asks how The Doctor could have a son, as he is a hologram, The Doctor just answers "it's a long story."
After more attacks and a planet's year since the pilot returned, two ships appear next to Voyager and deploy a tractor beam to pull it clear. Using a temporal compensator invented on his planet, Gotana-Retz returns one last time to say goodbye before the sky ship leaves forever.
Finally, Gotana-Retz, now an old man, sits on a hillside and gazes wistfully into the sky as the star that is Voyager winks out and vanishes. The hillside now overlooks a vast technological metropolis.
"How does this sound? 'The Weird Planet Where Time Moved Very Fast and So Did the People Who Lived There,' by Naomi Wildman…"
"Your title is verbose. I suggest you try to condense it."
"The Weird Planet"
"Better, but it lacks precision. 'The Weird Planet Displaced in Time'"
- - Naomi Wildman and Seven of Nine, discussing the title of Naomi's astronomy essay
"That's one planet that never showed up on the multiple choice exam."
- - Tom Paris
"If there's an intelligent species down there, we'll be able to track their development, not just for days or weeks, but for centuries."
- - Chakotay
"We might miss the rise and fall of a civilization."
"So, we'll watch the next one."
- - Chakotay and B'Elanna Torres
"What should I say?"
"Oh…glad to meet you. Where are you from? Please stop shaking our planet."
- - Astronomer and Technician
"What if they're big purple blobs of protoplasm?"
"Then you'll be the best-looking blob on the planet."
- - The Doctor and Janeway
"Captain, isn't it time we returned fire?"
"We've done enough damage to these people over the last thousand years."
- - Tom Paris and Chakotay
"You're the best pilot we have, that's why you're on this mission. This is no different than flying your favorite…"
"Oh, it's different!"
"I can't argue with that."
- - Terrina and Gotana-Retz
"Jason? An unusual name."
"Yes. He was my… son."
"But you're a hologram."
"lt's a long story."
- - Gotana-Retz and The Doctor
"If you've ever wanted to report more than the weather, now is your chance. Tell them to clear Central Lake of all traffic: Orbital 1 is coming in for a landing."
- - Gotana-Retz, to the weather coordinator for Station 004
- Obi Ndefo previously played Drex, Martok's son, in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season four premiere "The Way of the Warrior".
- In the observatory on Kelemane's planet, the hole in which the large telescope is encased in is a reuse of the framework of the Cardassian circular airlock hatch from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. One of the hatches later reappears in VOY: "Tsunkatse", on Penk's starship, and later in the seventh season episode "Friendship One", in the Otrin's species cave settlement.
- The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode as one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Voyager.
- This episode is notably similar to the novel Dragon's Egg, by Robert L. Forward. The novel also involves a Human space ship observing the extremely rapid evolution of a society on a star about which the ship orbits.
- This is the last episode of Star Trek directed by Gabrielle Beaumont.
Continuity and trivia
- One day on the planet is slightly more than one second long (1.03 seconds) in normal time, so three years on the planet would only be 18.9 minutes in normal time. This would mean that a hundred years on the planet would pass every 10.45 hours. Since Voyager seems to have been in orbit for centuries of planetary time it is likely that the episode takes place over a few days of time for the crew.
- This episode contains a scene in which a member of an alien species writes in English using a pen and ink. This is unusual considering most alien writing depicted in Star Trek is made up of alien-looking characters.
- Although Tuvok describes the planet as having a high rate of rotation "like a quasar", this property more accurately describes a pulsar.
- Star Trek: The Original Series had an episode entitled "Wink of an Eye" where Scalosians, moving too fast to be seen or heard (other than a faint buzzing sound), board the USS Enterprise and abduct Captain James T. Kirk.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 6.6, 14 August 2000
- As part of the VOY Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Ensign Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Obi Ndefo as Protector
- Daniel Zacapa as an Astronomer
- Olaf Pooley as a Cleric
- Jon Cellini as a Technician
- Kat Sawyer-Young as Astronaut
- Melik Malkasian as a Shaman
- Walter Hamilton McCready as a Tribal Alien
- Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman
- David Keith Anderson as Ashmore
- Michael Bailous as operations officer
- Richard Bishop as operations officer
- Christine Delgado as Susan Nicoletti
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Tina Kotrich as operations officer
- Noriko Suzuki as operations officer
- Unknown actors as
acceleration; almanac; altar; ammonium; amplitude modulation; anthropology; antimatter torpedo; aria; astronomy; Astronomer's grandfather; athlete; Belief system; cannon; carbon monoxide; carrier wave; Central Lake; Central Protectorate; class V planetary probe; coastline; concert hall; confinement beam; crib; Darek; decayed orbit; disorientation; docking port; doppler component; display buffer; dwarf star; elemental constant; epidermal; exile; family doctor; fire-fruit; frequency; god; Gotana-Retz' mother; gravimetric gradient; "Ground Shaker"; hemisphere; high orbit; holomatrix; hot air balloon; internal combustion; iron; Jefferies tube; Kelemane's planet; Kelemane's planet sport; Kelemane's species; Kelemane; kilometer; Klingon; lake; Lakeside; Launch Control/Tactical Command Center; logic; low orbit; lyric; Mareeza; mathematical constant; medical journal; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; Mountain; multiple-choice exam; mythology; numerical sequence; observatory; opera house; orbit; Orbital 1; palace; pat on the back; pre-warp society; Prime Directive; prime number; Protector; protoplasm; purple; quasar; radio transmission; Red River; religion; roommate; shooting star; "Sky Ship"; Sky Ship Friends; state; Station 004; surface; synchronous orbit; Tabreez, Jason; tachyon; Tactical Air Command; Tahal; technology; telescope; temporal compensator; temporal field; time frame; Torelius; tricobalt device; ultra-high frequency; warp-capable civilization; weather; weather coordinator; Weird Planet Displaced in Time, The
- "Blink of an Eye" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Blink of an Eye" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Blink of an Eye" at Wikipedia
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