72 – Nemesis

Grade: B-

Nemesis (1997) on IMDb


Commander Chakotay is on a jungle planet, being pursued by a race of hostile aliens, called the Nemesis.


This could have been worse, despite its predictability. It’s a thoughtful episode. The twists have been done before in other episodes, but this was obviously one that they thought a lot about. I prefer stories like this over useless “alien of the week” garbage. This was probably supposed to air before Kes had been traded for Seven.

When Star Trek works well, it’s because it gives us something to think about. This episode certainly does that. What it demonstrates is how easily people side with those who are similar to themselves. The “good” aliens look just like humans – and this in itself should be a clue that what we’re seeing here isn’t real. It’s all part of a simulation to brainwash Chakotay into hating their enemy. Speaking of the Nemesis, they look like Nausicaans, so we immediately think of them as evil and violent.

I like the point of this episode – that we can’t judge people based on what they look like on the outside. But I wish the point could have been made more subtly – I really don’t like being manipulated when I watch Star Trek. Maybe if all the aliens looked exactly alike and the only difference was that the Nemesis had a slightly different color of uniform – maybe then I would have liked it more.

What really elevates this episode is at the end – how Chakotay reacts to the aliens who saved him from this simulation. He wishes it was as easy to stop hating someone as it was to start hating them. It’s good work from Beltran, and it’s also a good character-defining moment for someone who has often been neglected in this series.

One other thing bothered me about this episode, though. The language that these aliens speak is really awkward. For example, instead of “dead”, they say “nullified.” They also say “the soon after” instead of “later”. I don’t understand why Kenneth Biller thought this awkward speaking style was important or what he wanted to accomplish with it. I suppose it gives us the hint that Chakotay’s experience on the planet is not real or something. Who knows. All I know is that I immediately wondered if the universal translator was malfunctioning since it translated the aliens’ dialogue into something so strange. After a while, it became annoying and tiresome.

In general, however, this was a pretty decent episode. It isn’t one that I would rush out to watch again, but it still gives you something to think about.

Of Note

The Nemesis in this episode looks like the Nausicaans from TNG. I’m glad that it didn’t end up that these actually were Nausicaans, because that would have really weakened the story. It would make the entire galaxy seem very small.

Neelix seems to know about these aliens, even though this episode takes place well beyond the Nechrid expanse. During that episode, he was concerned that he didn’t know anything about the Delta Quadrant beyond that point.