Star Trek: Voyager (1995): S01E16 – Learning Curve


Introduction

“Learning Curve” is the 16th episode of Star Trek: Voyager and final episode of the first season.

In this episode Tuvok forces some of the Maquis crew into a Starfleet training programme and systems malfunction throughout the ship as the bio-neural gel packs begin to fail.

It was seen by 8.3 million in the US at its debut in May 1995.

This episode has several guest stars including Derek McGrath as Chell, Kenny Morrison as Geron, and Catherine McNeal as Henley. Tuvok is part of the regular cast and is played by Tim Russ.

Outline

After Crewman Dalby is insubordinate towards security chief Tuvok, the Vulcan discusses the situation with Captain Janeway. Janeway understands Tuvok’s frustration but points out that the Maquis have never been trained in Starfleet procedures or philosophies. A class is organised to teach several Maquis crew members Starfleet protocol so that they can integrate more fully with the rest of the crew. Tuvok will teach the class, having been an academy instructor. At first, his efforts are unsuccessful; the trainees, with Dalby as ringleader, walk out of their first lesson despite Tuvok ordering them to stay. Later in the mess hall, Dalby makes it clear to Chakotay that he wants to do things the Maquis way. Chakotay punches Dalby, saying that if Dalby wants to do things the Maquis way then so will he, by using violence to enforce discipline. Before leaving, Chakotay reinforces Janeway’s orders. With his point made, the students return to Tuvok’s training sessions.

When Tuvok shares with Neelix that he is frustrated with the Maquis’s unwillingness to adapt to Starfleet protocol, Neelix indicates that perhaps it is Tuvok who is being inflexible in his strict adherence to procedure, and that perhaps if he were to “bend the rules” a little bit, the trainees would respect him more. Tuvok attempts to get to know Dalby socially, but makes little progress.

Meanwhile, it is discovered that the bioneural circuitry that runs many of the crucial systems on the ship has become infected with disease. Tuvok and the Doctor trace the infectious agent to a batch of homemade cheese that Neelix has prepared. The Doctor discovers that the only way to kill the microbe is to heat the bioneural gel packs, essentially giving them a “fever”. The crew runs the warp core at 80% without going to warp, which produces enough heat to kill the virus; however, it also initiates a pulse surge, causing many power conduits to be blown out.

At that moment, another class is in progress in a cargo bay when a power conduit blows and the room begins to fill with noxious gas. One of the trainees is unconscious but Tuvok orders the rest to leave him behind and save themselves, stating that this is the most tactically sound move. The trainees are angered at his apparent disregard for their friend’s life, and initially refuse, but Tuvok forces them out. He then contradicts his own order, going back into the poisonous gas to save the injured crewman, and in the process, succumbs to the gas and passes out. Dalby and the other trainees work together to rescue Tuvok and their friend. After the incident is over, Dalby indicates to Tuvok that if he is willing to bend Starfleet protocol to save one of them, perhaps they can bend to accept the Starfleet rules after all.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): David Livingston.
  • Writer(s): Ronald Wilkerson and Jean Louise Matthias.
  • Release Date: 22 May 1995.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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