[VOY] Jetrel

VOY Season 1, Episode 15 (Netflix S1 E14): Jetrel

Rating: 1
This episode is a serious look at hatred, great loss, guilt, war, forgiveness, and redemption. What’s not to like? Well…I wasn’t too impressed with how these themes played out.
Read more at Memory Alpha
Perhaps similar to DS9’s episode “Duet

Voyager comes in contact with a Haakonian shuttle. They killed Neelix’s people! Meanwhile, Chakotay just realized he’s on TV

I hope you’re ready for a lot of Neelix

Here’s Jetrel, he developed a weapon that killed 300,000 Talaxians

File under: James Sloyan

One of the problems with this episode is that it demands we take Neelix seriously. That’s hard to do at this point. It’s not Ethan Phillips fault, he actually does a really good job. It’s just that up until this episode they’ve done everything they can to force us to not take him seriously. Why did they have to make him wear that hat, for example?

Jetrel says he doesn’t regret what he did and that he was just doing what had to be done? Alright. He then comes back at Neelix by asking how many people he killed during the war, and how he had to live with that.

Weird relationship

Jetrel says he developed the weapon for the sake of his planet but also for science, and that the development of science has value for everyone

When Neelix challenges Jetrel about living with consequences, Jetrel gives a story about how he lost his family…but not by anything “as clean-cut as death.” His wife just left him. Aww

After Neelix tells his much sadder story, Jetrel says there’s no way he could ever apologize for what he caused, and thats why he hasn’t tried. Yeah but Jetrel hasn’t merely “not tried apologizing,” he had seemed to be almost provoking Neelix.

Neelix reveals that he didn’t fight in the war because he was scared…

Kes asks if thats why he hates Jetrel so much. Neelix responds that he hates Jetrel because he killed all of Neelix’s family. Makes sense. Kes then asks if Jetrel was just a “convenient target” for hatred, and adds that Neelix is probably actually furious with himself for not fighting, and just letting it out on Jetrel. I’m gonna go with the first answer.

It turns out Jetrel has been trying for the last 15 years to find a way to bring back the dead. Neelix asks the obvious question: why didn’t he say this to begin with. His answer is that even Janeway, an accomplished scientist, doubts his theories. That doesn’t really answer the question, and it also doesn’t answer the question of why he was so cold to Neelix earlier in the episode.

On Jetrel’s death bed, Neelix forgives him. I hate stories about forgiveness! I want stories about revenge!

Further Analysis:

I don’t understand Jetrel. He said he didn’t regret what he did, and that it had to be done. He asks Neelix if he felt sorry for what he did during the war, like it would be comparable. He tells Neelix, who he knows has suffered immensely, that he too is suffering the consequences of the mass murder because his wife and three children left him. He says he could never apologize for all he did. Yeah alright, but why be so insensitive? By the end we find out he has dedicated 15 years to bringing the victims back to life, which I guess is supposed to reveal he really does have enormous guilt and is trying to make amends. But if that were true, why did he act like such a jerk the whole time?  I guess the revelation at the end doesn’t technically contradict what he said his motives were in the beginning but that would make it seem like his main motives are again for science, and perhaps his reputation, but not because of guilt, or because he thinks he did something wrong. This all has a much simpler answer: early in the episode, the audience was supposed to be unsure about Jetrel’s motives, so the writers made him a jerk.

I don’t understand Neelix. I’m mainly talking about what happens in the middle of the episode where he starts feeling guilty. I think this was a strange choice for the writers. I understand that when tragic things happen to ones family a person will often think about what he or she could have done to prevent it, and feel guilty about this. But thats not what happened with Neelix. He felt guilty for being a coward during war time, and deceiving people about it. Alright, thats fine, feel guilty about that, but we’re meant to believe this is the cause of Neelix being so angry at Jetrel? They seem unrelated. Jetrel causing the murder of Neelix’s family and hundreds of thousands of other Talaxians doesn’t seem like a situation that requires additional secret motives on the part of Neelix. This just made the situation between Neelix and Jetrel muddled.

Also, if this episode is supposed to be representing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the producers seem in conflict about this), then this business about Neelix’s guilt and projected hatred really muddles up that metaphor as well.

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  • Khevenhiler

    If you are feeling guilty because of something you did or – in Neelix’s case – didn’t do, than you are feeling that all the time. Stronger or in the background. You don’t live 15 years happily scavenging, then fighting Kazon to get some Ocampa ass, then cooking leola root, and the suddenly…
    But, maybe that’s Talaxian psychology. Oh, these Talaxians…