Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mortal Coil

***** (5 stars out of 5)
In which Neelix dies and is revived by Seven of Nine's Do-Anything Mystical Magical One-Size-Fits-All Nanoprobes. However, the story and the acting is so good I would forgive it this. I would forgive it nearly anything.

Struck down on a shuttle mission during the Talaxian holiday season of Prixin, Neelix gets high on life and sings Wookie Life Day carols with Carrie Fisher, who also gets high. Sorry, I'm thinking of something unrelated.

After a record-breaking period of death, (18 hours) Neelix is resurrected with a bloodstream full of Borg. (Would now be a good time to regrow his other lung? Just asking.) In fact, this is my favorite use of Seven of Nine so far: as the well-intentioned genie who brings you back to life whether you'd rather or not. Florence Nightenborg also mentions that the mighty Kazon were 'unworthy' of assimilation. Apparently Locutus' assertion that the Borg "wish to raise the quality of life for all species" only applies to species that don't suck.

There's a two year old blonde in Neelix's life again, and THIS time he's not dating her. Ensign Wildman's daughter Naomi trusts our hero to drive the monsters away and tell her a bedtime story. He relates the tale of the Great Forest; a beautiful glade at the heart of the Talaxian afterlife, where all your loved ones wait for you.

Until today, this idea gave Voyager's Chef/Ambassador enormous comfort. But after 18 hours, he didn't see any of his moonful of dead kin anywhere. In fact, it's not looking promising for the afterlife at all. In another of my favourite moments for Chakotay, the first officer guides Neelix on a vision quest. But although his dead sister speaks to him: it's only a hollow mockery from a crumbling skeleton.

And it's going to take more than visions for Chakotay to talk Neelix down when he wavers on whether his renewed life is worth living at all. It's going to take a story that needs telling and a child that needs tucking in.

"Mortal Coil" was a profound emotional experience. Astonishing stuff from Ethan Phillips and Bryan Fuller. Thanks, Space Hedgehog! Thanks, Pushing Daisies Guy!

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