Sunday, October 12, 2014

Character Insight No. 116: Michael Jonas

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.


Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we profile Michael Jonas, a recurring character on Voyager who plays a key role in the first long storyline of Voyager, the Seska storyline.
 Michael jonas.jpg
("Put on your constipated serious face...good, good") 

Jonas was one of the Maquis fighters who served aboard the Val Jean under Chakotay's command until their crew became stranded with Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. He, like B'Elanna Torres, serves as an engineer after joining the ship. He turns out to be one of the harder crew members to bring over to the Starfleet side, and his desire to look out for himself almost ends up in disastrous consequences for the entire Voyager crew.

Jonas was close friends with another former Maquis Kurt Bendera, who died at the hands of the Kazon. Bendera's death was the straw that broke the camel's back in the attempt to get Jonas to fully integrate into Starfleet. Jonas blames Captain Janeway's policies for Kurt's death, which leads him to secretly open communications with Seska to negotiate takeover of the Voyager by the Kazon.

Jonas transmits details of Voyager's new transwarp technology after Tom Paris breaks the Warp 10 barrier. Tuvok detects these transmissions, which were ingeniously sent in the waste energy emitted from the propulsion systems and the power grid. But that doesn't fool him, so he and Tom Paris set forth on a secret agent plan to flush out the traitor and figure out who has turned against the Voyager. 

Quote: (from Investigations)

When Jonas sabotages the magnetic constrictors of the USS Technobabble for Seska, Paris and Tuvok put a plan in place to make it seem like Paris is also defecting from the crew. Seska takes the bait, pulling in Paris, who then turns on her and the Kazon to determine that Jonas is the traitor. Meanwhile, Neelix also comes to the same conclusion in his own investigations aboard Voyager and he ends up trapped in a struggle with Jonas in main engineering. Neelix wins the day though, as Jonas ends up falling into a plasma fire near the warp core, a fitting way for a traitor to go out.

Jonas is a necessary evil character to fill a gap early in the show, although it is a bit lazy to have Tuvok always be ready to foil the rogue Maquis plans. Seska and the Kazon are the first great villains in the Delta Quadrant, and Jonas holds a special memorable role in this storyline, even as a small bit character. That's more than can be said for many recurring characters. 

Raphael Sbarge played Jonas, and his acting career began as a little kid on Sesame Street when that show was brand new. He has also played in various movies like Independence Day and Pearl Harbor, and more recently in TV series like Once Upon A Time. He's also a prolific video game voice actor, appearing in Mass Effect and Everquest, among others.

Until next time, live long and prosper...

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