(written from a Production point of view)
Voyager smuggles telepathic refugees through Devore space.
Voyager is passing through Devore space, where telepathy is illegal and telepaths are sent to relocation centers. Devore warships are far larger and more powerful than Voyager, so the ship is subject to frequent and random inspections to check for telepaths, complete with rough treatment of the crew and their equipment. Knowing the drill, Voyager and its crew are once again standing by to be boarded by Devore inspection teams and Captain Kathryn Janeway asks everyone to give them their full cooperation.
The lead Devore inspector Kashyk takes up residence in Captain Janeway's ready room and calls her in. He plays the second movement of Mahler's First Symphony throughout the ship to "relax" the crew and replicates Janeway some coffee. His assistant, Prax, leaves to conduct the inspection and Kashyk asks her to make herself "at home".
Throughout the ship, the crew has to endure humiliation at the hands of the Devore inspectors who are more than disrespectful. They drop one of The Doctor's cell cultures and probe every part of the ship. In engineering, Prax notices extra power in the transporter systems, but B'Elanna Torres explains it's part of a diagnostic. In the cargo bay, Prax also sees that there is contaminated antimatter which would interfere with their scanning, but takes no action, instead, probing Seven of Nine about her implants, convincing himself she is not telepathic.
In Janeway's ready room, Kashyk engages in small talk, expressing an interest in Human culture. He remarks on the contradictions he sees, such as violence and beauty or science and faith. He identifies with a soldier instead of artists. He turns to a gap in the crew manifest, namely, Tuvok, Jurot, Lon Suder and Vorik. Janeway responds they were all killed, which Kashyk finds convenient, but doesn't press the issue, preferring instead to present his argument that telepaths are dangerous and can't be trusted. Their conversation is interrupted by Prax, who reports no telepaths found, but he did find two course deviations that would normally result in the ship being impounded, and their crews detained and relocated. Kashyk forgives it, taking Janeway's word that they were simply avoiding ion storms. He says to the Captain that he is a reasonable man and, given their long journey home, she certainly could use a friend like him.
The Devore ships then leave Voyager, after which Captain Janeway orders that twelve Brenari refugees, along with Tuvok, Jurot and Vorik, all of whom are telepathic, be brought out of transporter suspension in cargo bay one, nearby the contaminated antimatter.
Janeway informs the passengers that the transport ship to pick them up is near, but the rendezvous coordinates have changed. The Doctor and Tuvok also inform her of a bigger problem: due to being placed in transporter suspension so frequently, some have shown evidence of cell degradation. The Doctor says that, if the transporter suspension continues to be used, more serious health problems could develop. Janeway turns to the new coordinates for the rendezvous, which, unfortunately, is a nebula another two days away. They'll have to find the best route they can.
The Captain enters the mess hall to get an update from Neelix regarding the status of the refugee children he has been helping care for. Neelix is telling the children story when Janeway enters. Neelix dismisses the children so he and Janeway can talk in private. Neelix reassures the captain that she did the right thing by saving the refugees, but expresses mild concern at the stressful situation the children are dealing with. Janeway then asks if the kitchen is still open as she as is hungry and Neelix tells her, with affection, that the kitchen is "always open" to her. As the Captain and Neelix share a meal together, Voyager suddenly detects a Devore vessel. Believing that yet another inspection is in order, Janeway orders all telepaths to go into transporter suspension again. However, it turns out that this ship is piloted by one man alone: Kashyk.
Kashyk is out of uniform and tells Janeway that he knows all about the telepathic refugees, the transporter suspension, the nebula rendezvous, and the wormhole that she plans to transport them to for their escape. Kashyk informs them the nebula is a Devore trap, and that they will eventually find the wormhole. He says that he is defecting and requests asylum on the ship in return for his assistance in avoiding Devore ships. He assures her that he is her only way out of Devore space as only he knows about the ambush.
She agrees to grant Kashyk safe passage out of Devore space if the Brenari are amenable. The Brenari leader, Kir, agrees to cooperate. Kir points Janeway to a scientist, Torat, who can help them predict the next appearance of the wormhole. At this point, Janeway begins to cooperate with Kashyk. Torat is reluctant to even talk to Voyager; Janeway has him beamed aboard so she can persuade him face to face. She introduces Kashyk as a fellow professor who doubts Torat's work. To prove himself, and in exchange for mercurium isochromate, Torat provides the two with some data on the wormhole.
Later, Janeway and Kashyk work to pinpoint the next appearance of the wormhole. They simply do not seem to be able to predict a random occurrence. After standard algorithms fail, Janeway, considering the music that is playing in the background, the second movement of Tchaikovsky's Symphony Number Four, suggests that the pattern may be found in a subspace counterpoint: if they could run an algorithm based on subspace harmonics, they could reveal the pattern. Following this approach, the computer analysis finally works, allowing the next occurrence of the wormhole to be predicted in the Tehara system.
Kashyk and Janeway also get into a discussion about their homeworlds and principles and guiding philosophies when Janeway notes that Kashyk is taking considerable risk defecting from his own people and assisting these telepaths. She asks him why and Kashyk explains that three months ago when his team was inspecting a plasma refining vessel, they found a family of telepaths hiding in one of the extraction tanks. There was a child – very young – who had been inside it for days, barely able to breathe. When he lifted her out of the tank and sat her on the deck, she thanked him. He then sent her to the relocation center with the others knowing full well what would happen to her. After that, he could think of nothing else. And when he couldn't stand it any longer, he decided to leave. He tells Janeway that she is his deliverance. While finishing telling his story, they are interrupted by the computer voice that informs them that the analysis is complete.
Janeway accompanies Kashyk back to his quarters who asks her to join him especially because he has been looking forward to trying their replicator. But Janeway tells him that this won't be possible as she had the replicator taken offline in case he decided to replicate a weapon. She wishes him a good night and leaves.
Unfortunately, though they are careful to keep their power output low to avoid detection, Voyager is soon detected by a Devore scanning array again. They warp away to the system, and, fortunately, Seven was able to more accurately locate the wormhole's location. Janeway plans to fight the ships with the new information about them she has obtained from Kashyk. Unfortunately, the ships will intercept them just as they arrive near the wormhole.
On the way to engineering, Janeway puts together a plan to fight, but Kashyk tells her she will never survive against two Devore ships and offers to take command of the impending inspection to ensure the refugees remain undetected. She is reluctant, as he could be detected himself, but still agrees. Kashyk promises to make the inspection very short, and Janeway promises to wait for him as long as she can by the wormhole. Right before his departure, they kiss passionately in the shuttle bay and she watches him leave.
The Devore inspectors soon board the ship. Janeway meets Kashyk in her ready room, who plays the second movement of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony and demands that she cease altering her course and leave Devore space. After sending Prax away, he asks about the wormhole. She tells him it is 20,000 kilometers off the port bow and that a photon torpedo properly calibrated will force open the threshold long enough for Voyager to get through. Kashyk congratulates her, ordering Prax to Cargo Bay One to capture the refugees and ordering two photon torpedoes to be fired to destroy the wormhole. Janeway, who finally recognizes the deception, tells him that he has given a masterful performance. Kashyk says that on the contrary, he is impressed with her selflessness and Humanity that made all this so much easier. She asks him whether his touching story about the little girl was a fabrication as well. He tells her that the story was real but what he didn't tell her was that after wrestling with his ethics he realized that he had done the right thing in order to protect his people from a very real threat. With armed guards he escorts her to the bridge and fires the torpedoes onto the wormhole to destroy it.
However, he soon realizes that it is he who has been double crossed: the neutrino emissions indicating a wormhole off the port bow are actually antimatter residue signatures, and it is not refugees, but cargo containers filled with vegetables that are suspended in the transporters in cargo bay one. Janeway changes the music to the second movement of Mahler's first symphony, while the refugees escape through the wormhole via shuttlecraft. Prax suggests that Voyager be impounded and the crew sent to detention centers, but Kashyk angrily notes that neither of them can benefit from having this failure on their records.
When they are alone on the bridge, Kashyk congratulates Janeway for having played this so well. She tells him that she had to take some precautions but that she never lied to him because her offer to take him with them was genuine, and it would still stand if he had kept his part of the bargain. Kashyk merely smiles at her and before leaving tells her that for what it was worth, she made a tempting offer.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. After weeks of playing hide and seek with the Devore inspectors, our goal is near: a transport vessel that will take our passengers to a wormhole leading out of hostile territory."
- "Captain's log, supplemental. It's taken us nearly two days but we've managed to locate Torat, the man who's supposedly an expert on wormholes. Unfortunately, he seems reluctant to share his expertise."
"You created false readings!"
"That is the theme for this evening, isn't it?"
- - Kashyk and Captain Janeway
"Prax, do you have the telepaths?"
"I have cargo containers...filled with vegetables!"
- - Kashyk and Prax
"Federations, Imperiums. Why do you people feel such a need to align yourselves with monolithic organizations?"
- - Torat
- The original pitch for this episode – written by Gregory L. Norris and Laura Van Vleet, based on a screenplay of Van Vleet's, and entitled "The Hiding" – was focused on Seven of Nine. The refugees were hiding in Voyager's landing struts and, when Voyager was forced to land, Seven risked her life to take the refugees into neutral space in a shuttlecraft, against Janeway's orders. The two pitchers were delighted with the changes made to their pitch by Michael Taylor, in particular the focus on a love story for Janeway. (Star Trek Monthly issue 80) Janeway's romantic stirrings, however, were originally to have been with someone quite different from Kashyk. "The original 'love interest' was one of the people who were being victimized," offered Joe Menosky. "We just turned it on its head." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 41)
- Story editor Nick Sagan was involved in the pitching of the original plot concept, which he referred to as "one of the pitches I took for Voyager." He went on to say, "The writers pitched it to me as this story about aliens hiding on Voyager. The big part I think [was] trying to find the hook of it, so I pitched it to [executive producer] Brannon [Braga] as 'The Diary of Anne Frank on Voyager'. I could see at least six different ways of that playing out, and I think creating those tantalizing possibilities is a huge part of pitching for Star Trek." 
- This episode had the working title "Refugee". (Delta Quadrant, p. 276) ;
- According to the unofficial reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 277), this installment – although containing only supplemental log entries – originally included a main entry that was ultimately cut for time.
- Mark Harelik was cast at the recommendation of Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew. (citation needed • edit)
- Both Kate Mulgrew and Michael Taylor were of the opinion that this point in the series seemed a fitting time for Janeway to have a romantic liaison. Taylor offered, "It's about time Janeway had a romance, and a romantic partner worthy of her [....] [Kate Mulgrew] had been asking for some sort of romance, and when it came along, she saw that it was right for her character." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 38) Mulgrew herself commented of the episode, "This was, at long last, a story about the woman under the scientist." (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log)
- Kate Mulgrew thoroughly enjoyed this installment. She emotively described the outing as "a terrific episode" and said about the uncertainty of the motivations driving Janeway and Kashyk, "That was wonderful." The actress also enthused, "All of those layers, and all of those nuances and subtleties were terrific to play." (VOY Season 5 DVD easter egg) Additionally, Mulgrew remarked, "Well, I loved 'Counterpoint' [...] because I was so gratified, creatively [....] This was espionage at its best [....] It was a symphony, every scene with Mark Harelik [....] The whole marriage [between the writing, the characters and the actors] was almost perfect. I ran to work, every morning. So sorry when it ended. Every part was wonderful. Deeply satisfying work and that, you know, is everything." (Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log) In an interview shortly after filming, Mulgrew called this her "favorite episode to date." (citation needed • edit) In another, she claimed to have kissed the script when she first read it. (citation needed • edit) Subsequently, she chose it as her favorite episode, and it was included as such in Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log.
- Michael Taylor was impressed by Kate Mulgrew's acting in this installment. Taylor commented, "I think it was a great chance for Kate to show what she can do [....] She played the role to the hilt." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 38)
- According to the book Delta Quadrant (p. 276), the Devore firearms were reused rifles from the fourth season installment "Waking Moments".
- When Janeway and Kashyk are in the mess hall, Tchaikovsky's Symphony Number Four, 2nd movement is playing in the background.
- This episode includes two past DS9 performers; J. Patrick McCormack previously played Admiral Bennet in "Doctor Bashir, I Presume", while Randy Oglesby had appeared as Ah-Kel and Ro-Kel in "Vortex" and as Silaran Prin in "The Darkness and the Light".
- Janeway's list of telepaths on Voyager includes only Tuvok, Vorik, Jurot, and Lon Suder. This confirms that Tuvok and Vorik are the only Vulcans aboard, although Janeway does mention that there are Vulcans (plural) other than Tuvok aboard in VOY: "Endgame" which appears to be a continuity error on that episode's part. Lt. Stadi, the Betazoid helmsman who is killed in Voyager's pilot episode, "Caretaker", and Kes, who was a crewmember until "The Gift", are also not listed here, nor is the (presumably) Vulcan nurse who also died in "Caretaker".
- The whereabouts of the three telepathic crew members (Tuvok included) are not discussed at the end of the episode, although Tuvok is at his station on the Bridge when the inspection teams arrive.
- Though Kashyk says he has given up the title of inspector, Janeway nonetheless continues to address him as that -- a subtle sign that she never completely trusts him.
- Kashyk lists four telepathic crew members; Tuvok, Vorik, Jurot, and Suder. Janeway lies that Tuvok, Vorik, and Jurot died in a shuttle crash. She is however honest in saying Suder died in an incident with the Kazon. (VOY: "Basics, Part II")
- Jurot is neither seen or mentioned after this episode. In VOY: "Dragon's Teeth", Janeway states she wishes she had a Betazoid on board, a possible indication that Jurot has been killed in the time between these two episodes.
- This episode was selected by public vote in the UK as the best of the "Captain's Picks" (episodes selected by the four series' leads as their favorites) during the BBC's Star Trek Night on 16 September 2001.
- Joe Menosky was delighted with the writing of this episode and the change of Janeway's romantic interest to Kashyk. "How much interesting, if the 'romantic sparks' are between two enemies," Menosky commented. "It was one of those shows where you finish with the break and you just think, this is going to be great. This is where we found out what a good writer [Michael] Taylor is." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 41)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 5.5, 7 June 1999
- As part of the VOY Season 5 DVD collection
- As Kate Mulgrew's episode choice in the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log 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
- Patrick Barnitt as a Brenari
- Richard Bishop as an operations division officer
- Christine Delgado as Susan Nicoletti
- Sylvester Foster as Timothy Lang
- Tom Gianelli as operations division ensign
- Mark Rogerson as a Devore soldier
- Unknown actors as:
adversary; algorithm; alloy; Alpha Quadrant; angstrom; antimatter; antimatter residue; aurora borealis; black; boarding party; board of inquiry; Borg drone; Brenari; Brenari freighter/Brenari vessel; brig; cargo container; cellular degradation; centiliter; Class 2 shuttle; coffee; confinement beam; culture; dark matter inversion; Devore; Devore Imperium; Devore sensor array; Devore shuttlecraft; Devore warship; Earth; ethics; fractal coefficient; gaharey; government; gray mode; heart; hide and seek; imaging scanner; imperative; impulse signature; interlink node; intermittent cyclical vortex; interspatial flexure; ion storm; Janeway's grandfather; Jurot; Kazon; kilometer; kolyan kolyar; layman; Mahler; mercurium isochromate; microscope; musical database; Mutara class; neutrino; Ogre of Fire; Ogre of Fire's castle; overkill; pattern cohesion; pattern enhancer; persecution; photon torpedo; plasma injector; plasma refining vessel; primary energizing coil; Prime Directive; ranking officer; red alert; refractive shield; refugee; relocation center; rematerialization sequence; routine diagnostic; safety precaution; scanning equipment; scanning pulse; shield modulation; sidearm; subspace harmonics; subspace matrix; subspatial transkinetic analysis; Suder, Lon; supernova; sympathizer; Symphony Number Four; Tchaikovsky; Tehara system; telepathy; toast; tourist; tourist attraction; transporter; transporter room; transporter suspension; transporter system; trespassing; tricorder; vegetable; Vulcans; warp field; wormhole
- "Counterpoint" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Counterpoint" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Counterpoint" at Wikipedia
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