(written from a Production point of view)
When Voyager seeks refuge from alien attackers on the surface of a devastated planet, they find a small group of people who have survived in suspended animation for almost nine hundred years.
Some time in the past, an enormous alien city is suddenly torn apart when torpedoes begin raining down on it, causing massive destruction everywhere. Below the chaos, a couple desperately tries to avoid falling debris and scramble into stasis pods. The woman wonders if they will dream while they are in stasis, which the man cannot provide an answer for. Their stasis pods are set for five years, hoping that by then, the war will have ended.
892 years later, the crew of the USS Voyager unexpectedly find themselves pulled into a subspace corridor full of asteroids, destroyed ships, and other debris. After five minutes they make contact with another vessel, belonging to the Turei. Captain Janeway states that they were pulled in by accident and are only looking for a way out. The Turei vessel assists Voyager by firing upon its shield generator which causes it to be thrown from the corridor. The Turei vessel also exits the corridor with Voyager. Ensign Tom Paris reports that they have traveled over two hundred light years since entering the corridor just five minutes earlier. Janeway immediately asks the Turei vessel if they could negotiate passage through the subspace corridor, hoping to reach the Alpha Quadrant. However, not only do the Turei deny the request, but they demand that Voyager lowers its shields and prepare to be boarded – the Turei want to erase the evidence of the underspace from Voyager's computer core. When Janeway refuses, the Turei open fire.
To escape the firing ships, Seven of Nine identifies a nearby uninhabited planet with an atmosphere full of radiogenic particles as an ideal hiding place, and Paris sets a course. Voyager enters the planet's atmosphere pursued by the attacking Turei ships, but as Voyager increases its descent vector the Turei retreat, unable to withstand the higher levels of radiation. When the viewscreen is activated the crew is surprised to see the remains of a metropolis situated on the surface – it then becomes apparent that the surface of the planet is suffering from a nuclear winter, which Ensign Harry Kim confirms has lasted almost nine hundred years based on radioactive decay. Voyager lands in the middle of the city, and Tuvok reports that the radiation in the atmosphere is temporarily blocking Voyager from the Turei's sensors but it will not be for long.
Voyager lands in the center of the city and the captain orders repairs begun. They then detect faint life signs underneath the city, and as they explore, they discover several stasis pods, some of which are still active. They beam down to an underground chamber that has been heavily reinforced with tritonium in order to make it last indefinitely. As Janeway and Tuvok search a different part of the chamber, Seven examines the pods. Ignoring Starfleet away team procedures, Seven of Nine activates one of the stasis pods and awakens a man. The man is startled to hear that he was in stasis for nine hundred years. He asks to see his wife, Jisa, but she did not survive the stasis.
The man awakes in Voyager's sickbay where he is scanned by The Doctor. He identifies himself as Vaadwaur, and recognizes Seven of Nine as Borg saying he's encountered them before. He indicates that the underspace corridors were previously held by the Vaadwaur, but it seems after centuries of inactivity they have been claimed by their rivals. There are thousands more stasis pods still active underground as well as preserved vehicles and fighters. In the mess hall, Gedrin expresses disappointment at his wife's lack of courage before entering stasis, the captain calls that "a bit heartless" but continues relations.
When Gedrin meets Neelix, he observes that he is Talax-ilzay. Neelix says that this was an ancient name of his people. He says that in his ancient tongue, the word vaadwaur means foolish. As Neelix attempts to apologize for this, a plasma charge hits the city and red alert is activated.
On the bridge, Chakotay reports to Janeway that the Turei have found them. They cannot get an exact fix, but they can fire in the general area. Gedrin has a plan for a way to accurately target the Turei. If Voyager can uplink with a Vaadwaur sentry satellite they will receive its sensor telemetry. Once they have access they return fire and disable the lead Turei ship. They cease their attack.
Voyager makes a deal with the Vaadwaur: the Vaadwaur get to escape and rebuild their civilization while Voyager can use the subspace corridors to get closer to Earth. Gedrin reveals a huge chamber filled with Vaadwaur fighters. Chakotay comments by saying "dragon's teeth." He says it is an ancient Greek myth: "After a dragon was killed in a war, its teeth were spread out across the battlefield. They took root and warriors sprung from the ground to continue the fighting."
In astrometrics, the crew discusses their options with the Vaadwaur. They have memorized the subspace corridor layout, so they can plot Voyager's course, however there are eleven Turei ships in orbit. Morin is put in charge of reanimating the other Vaadwaur.
In her quarters, Naomi Wildman sadly plays with a doll. Neelix enters to tuck her in. When he asks her about her experiences with the Vaadwaur children she says she doesn't like them. Apparently she witnessed them making fun of Neelix. He isn't very offended, as children can often be cruel, but he doesn't continue telling her to play with them.
Back in the underground chamber, chief engineer B'Elanna Torres is helping the Vaadwaur make repairs. Morin says a Klingon phrase to her. It seems that they identify with the Klingon views of battle and honorable death. "As children we are taught to fall asleep each night imagining a different way to die."
Back in the mess hall, Neelix reviews references to the word vaadwaur in Talaxian and other Delta Quadrant history. The earliest usages are in Eldaxon's Collected Folklore, Neelix begins to review the specifics. Meanwhile in astrometrics, Seven and one of the Vaadwaur review possible planets to relocate the Vaadwaur to. He tells Seven that the Borg only controlled a few systems nine hundred years ago.
In Voyager's briefing room, Tuvok reports a total of twenty-one Turei ships on sensors. Tuvok's battle plan is pretty standard: Voyager will make a straightforward attack, while the Vaadwaur fighters make a surprise attack. Gaul requests photon torpedoes for their fighters, but Janeway refuses because it goes against Starfleet protocols. Gaul is not used to having to depend on others with his life, but Janeway states that her decision is final.
Later in the Vaadwaur underground chamber, Gaul, Gedrin, and Morin are discussing their plans. Unsatisfied with Captain Janeway's decisions, they plan to capture Voyager and use the ship's technology to rebuild their civilization and fight off the Turei. They plan to use their fighters to attack Voyager instead of the Turei.
In astrometrics, Seven shows Gedrin a planet that may be suitable. Before they make their decision, however, Neelix summons Seven to Cargo Bay 2. When she arrives, Neelix explains what he found while researching historical records concerning the Vaadwaur. The records describe a race who appeared out of nowhere, destroyed everything in its path, and then vanished – which could be explained by the Vaadwaur subspace corridors. Neelix convinces Seven to do additional research, using her Borg knowledge.
Gedrin enters Captain Janeway's ready room, where she has called for him. She confronts Gedrin with the evidence uncovered by Neelix and Seven. "If I were to take you at your word, the ancient Talaxians might call me Vaadwaur, foolish." Gedrin admits that his species did use the corridors to gain territory, but they were not a purely aggressive race. Although Janeway will go forward with the plan, she will not be as trusting as before.
On the bridge, Janeway discusses the situation with Chakotay. They decide to alter the plan and she orders Ensign Kim to hail Gaul. She informs him that only ten of the Vaadwaur fighters will have their particle beams remain active. Only ten will attack, so this should not be a problem, she explains. Voyager is ready for the ascent sequence, but the ship jolts when massive energy readings begin to emanate from the chamber. The Vaadwaur are launching the first wave of fighters – seventeen ships. The ships, however, are on an attack vector for Voyager.
Voyager begins to ascend from the surface while firing a full spread of phasers at the incoming fighters. They won't be able to jump to warp and escape until they are 280 kilometers above the surface. Voyager continues to ascend and the crew disables a number of the fighters, but Voyager's thrusters and sensors sustain damage. Janeway orders Kim to contact the Turei in orbit. Since the Turei already detected the weapons fire, they believe Janeway when she informs them of the Vaadwaur's presence. Now the Vaadwaur have another enemy to deal with.
Just when the situation begins to look hopeless, Gedrin, realizing the error in the Vaadwaur's aggressive ways, offers to go to the surface and boost the signal to the satellite. Janeway allows him to leave, but sends Tuvok with him. The Vaadwaur inflict heavy damage on Voyager, while taking little in return. Janeway orders the crew to initiate emergency landing procedures.
Suddenly the tide turns, thanks to Gedrin's work on the uplink. Turei torpedoes pound the Vaadwaur. The uplink chamber with Gedrin and Tuvok inside, however, begins to collapse. Gedrin tells Tuvok to save himself, as he sacrifices his life to save Voyager.
Janeway comes up with a plan to take in particles from the radiogenic atmosphere in order to boost Voyager's dwindling power supply. Thanks to her quick thinking, impulse is restored to Voyager. After clearing the planet's thermosphere, the ship is able to go to warp and escape the conflict. While the Vaadwaur engage in a violent battle with the Turei, approximately fifty-three Vaadwaur fighters – according to Seven's astrometric readings – manage to escape into the subspace corridors. This leads the captain to surmise that Voyager and its crew will likely encounter these ancient aggressors again.
Seven expresses her guilt because she is essentially responsible for the Vaadwaur resurgence, but Janeway says she might have done the same thing.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We've revived nearly two hundred of the Vaadwaur and we're moving forward with our unexpected alliance."
- "Captain's log, stardate 53167.9. After two days, there's been no sign of the Vaadwaur or the Turei. However, Seven of Nine has made an unsettling discovery."
"Can you find a way out?"
"I don't know. There's hundreds of corridors. It's like a maze."
"Well, be a good rat and find us the cheese."
- - Captain Janeway and Tom Paris
"We don't know anything about this species – they could be hostile."
"Most humanoid cultures are."
- - Tuvok and Seven of Nine, after Seven revives Gedrin from stasis
"When it rains, do you run from doorway to doorway, trying to stay dry, getting wet all the while? Or do you just accept the fact that it's raining and walk with dignity?"
"Rain's one thing. Plasma bombs are something else."
"But the principle is the same."
"I'd bring an umbrella."
- - Gedrin and Captain Janeway
"Nine hundred years is a long time to hold a grudge."
- - Janeway
"I wanted to help revive a civilization, not start a war."
- - Seven of Nine, on the consequence of awakening the Vaadwaur
"I'm curious. Have you heard of us, the Vaadwaur?"
"Um, I'm afraid there aren't many records from that period. But 'vaadwaur' is a word in the Old Tongue; it means, er… 'foolish'."
- - Gedrin and Neelix
"If we're going to be fighting side by side, I have to trust you. I need to be certain you don't have any ulterior motives."
"Our only motive is survival."
"If I were to take you at your word, the ancient Talaxians might call me 'vaadwaur' – foolish. That's what they came to call anyone who allowed themselves to be deceived by an enemy."
- - Captain Janeway and Gedrin
"What's the first known usage?"
"First written example appears in Eldaxon's Collected Folklore, Second Edition. Year of publication, 5012, New Calendar."
"Computer, name the specific folktales that use the word 'Vaadwaur'."
"'The Demon with the Golden Voice', 'The Tale of the Deadly Stranger', 'The Tale of the Boy Who Lost His Head', 'The Tale of the Bloody Hand'."
"Not exactly Mother Goose."
- - Neelix and the computer
- This episode was initially planned as a two-hour telemovie, but Braga and Menosky decided while writing part one that it would work better as a single hour. By the time the compressed version of the script was finished, their opinions had turned around again – but it was too late to re-expand the story. (Interview with Brannon Braga, Star Trek Monthly issue 58)
- The final draft script for this episode was submitted on 21 July 1999.
- Janeway and Gedrin, while speaking in the ready room, are visually split by one of the rectangular lights, similar to the framing of a scene between Janeway and Tuvok in VOY: "Caretaker", also directed by Winrich Kolbe.
- Footage from this episode was later reused in the alternate opening credits sequence for Star Trek: Enterprise, used in the Season 4 episodes "In a Mirror, Darkly" and "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II". Specifically, the attack on the Vaadwaur city in the teaser is reframed as the ISS Enterprise firing on an alien world.
- Mitch Suskin considered this episode one of the biggest visual effects episodes of the season, including the interspace tunnels (which were a modified version of the quantum slipstream from "Timeless",) the Vaadwaur hangar (which combined CG elements with a Dan Curry matte painting,) and the CG Vaadwaur city – pre- and post-destruction. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 18, pp. 26-27)
- The Vaadwaur city began as concept art from Tim Earls, further imagined and modeled by Brandon MacDougall. The designers put a lot of effort into minor details to make the city look more realistic, from windows to smog. "The shot we really wanted to do was [Voyager] running down the street; you'd see windows popping out and all that stuff." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 18, pp. 26-27)
- The VFX team started by ensuring the shot of Voyager landed on the planet was to the correct scale. "In some of the shots we thought, 'Well, Voyager looks too big; the buildings look small.' But we realized, 'You know what? Voyager is a big ship.'... It's funny, the opposite of what we thought would happen; instead of Voyager looking tiny, Voyager looked big and the buildings looked small. It really gave us a sense of scale." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 18, p. 27)
Continuity & trivia
- While discussing possible places for relocation, Gedrin evokes a colony the Vaadwaur had near a twin star in Grid 315. Seven of Nine replies that it is now in the Devore Imperium. Voyager first encountered the Devore in "Counterpoint".
- After discovering the history of the Vaadwaur, Janeway tells Chakotay she wishes she had a Betazoid on board to know their true feelings. In VOY: "Counterpoint", Ensign Jurot, a Betazoid, was still on board, and had to be hidden from the Devore Imperium along with Tuvok, Vorik, and the Devore telepaths. This might be an indication that she has been killed in the meantime, possibly in "Equinox, Part II", as this is the only episode between "Counterpoint" and this one in which crew-members are known to have been killed, and the identities of two of the three killed are not known.
- Although the final scene heavily implies the Vaadwaur would become a recurring antagonist to the crew, they did not appear again after this episode, apart from a brief encounter with a Vaadwaur ship in "The Void".
- This is the fourth episode of Voyager to feature the series' title ship landing on the surface of a planet. Other occasions in which the starship Voyager can be seen landing on a planet include Season 2's premiere "The 37's" and finale "Basics, Part I", the Season 4 episode "Demon", and Season 7's "Nightingale".
- Gedrin uses a slightly rephrased quote concerning confronting rainstorms from "Hagakure", a manual concerning how to live as a Samurai lord, written in the early 18th century by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.
- Voyager fires at least one photon torpedo in this episode, seven having previously been used in "Equinox, Part II". This brings the total number of torpedoes confirmed to have been used by Voyager over the course of the series to 61, a total which exceeds the irreplaceable complement of 38 that had been established by Chakotay in the first-season episode "The Cloud".
- Voyager's accidental use of the subspace corridor moves them "two hundred light years in five minutes", equivalent to a speed of 3.9 trillion miles per second. This is approximately 1000 times faster than Voyager's Warp 9.9 speed of 4 billion miles per second as established by Paris in "The 37's".
- The subspace corridor network represents the thirteenth occasion besides the series premiere (after "Eye of the Needle", "Prime Factors", "The 37's", "Cold Fire", "Threshold", "Death Wish", "False Profits", "Future's End, Part II", "The Q and the Grey", "Timeless", "Dark Frontier", and "Equinox") that the Voyager crew is presented with the possibility of returning home much faster than by conventional warp travel, although Gedrin's offer to permit use of the network implies that they only extend far enough to cut 1000 light years from Voyager's journey. In this case, Voyager fails to make use of the network due to the alien conflict.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 6.4, 5 June 2000
- As part of the VOY Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Harry Kim
- Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman
- Ron Fassler as Morin
- Mimi Craven as Jisa
- Bob Stillman as Turei
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
1484; 1489; 5012; activation code; adjective; assimilation; astrometric database; attack; battalion; battle cry; Betazoid; bio-pod; body of water; Borg; Borg Collective; charged; cheese; conversion matrix; damage; damage repair team; Delta Quadrant; "Demon with the Golden Voice, The"; Devore; Devore Imperium; dialect; dozen; dragon; dragon's teeth; Earth; edition;Eldaxon's Collected Folklore; emergency power; evasive maneuvers; fable; Federation; G-type star; gamma radiation; garden; geothermal energy; Greek myth; Grid 315; Grid 1421; ground forces; here and now; isorem; Kahless; kilometer; Klingons; Klingonese; land vehicle; lead ship; linguistic files; M class; maze; merchant; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; Mother Goose; multifold; nebula; nuclear winter; Old Tongue; online; orbital bombardment; overkill; particle cannon; parts per million; plasma bomb; plasma charge; plasma manifold; power core; power coupling; power relay; radiogenic decay; radiogenic particle; rat; reactor; reanimation sequence; red alert; resonance pulse; satellite; scientist; sensor array; surveillance satellite (sentry satellite); shield harmonics; spatial intersect; stasis; stasis pod; street; stratosphere; subspace corridor; "take charge"; Talax-ilzay; Talaxia; Talaxian; Talaxian language; "Tale of the Bloody Hand, The"; "Tale of the Boy Who Lost His Head, The"; "Tale of the Deadly Stranger, The"; thermosphere; tritonium; trade route; Turei; Turei vessel; ultimatum; umbrella; underground water supply; underspace; Vaadwaur; Vaadwaur assault fighter; Vaadwaur city; Vaadwaur homeworld; Vaadwaur sentry satellite; vegetation; vulture; warp engine; windstorm
- "Dragon's Teeth" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Dragon's Teeth" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Dragon's Teeth" at Wikipedia
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"One Small Step"