Captain Sulu

Story: Flashback
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Tuvok seems to be suffering from some kind of problem with his mind; an apparent repressed memory is resurfacing. In order to correct the problem and avoid brain damage he must meld with Captain Janeway. This as a plot device is somewhat confusing and hard to understand if I’m being honest, but we’ll disregard that for the moment. He means to take her back to the place where the memory takes place, on some Cliffside where he loses grip to some girl. He takes her to the wrong place in the meld.
It takes them to the bridge of the Excelsior, under the command of one Captain Sulu. Hey everybody welcome to Voyager’s 30th Anniversary Show! The 30th Anniversary had three main events, the original series was given a fantastic tribute in “Trials and Tribble-ations”, the TNG crew was hitting the big screen for the second time with “Star Trek: First Contact”, and here on Voyager the original cast films (which do deserve their own tribute as they are pivotal in bringing Trek back to TV) were given a tribute with Sulu (who also happens to be the only TOS cast member not featured in the DS9 episode).

As an episode on its own, it is okay. It has Sulu and Rand, which is fun. Sulu more so than Rand for sure. But it has Takai in all his campy over the top glory. Essentially all of the major action of the episode is giving the Excelsior’s point of view of the events of Star Trek VI. We get very little going on, as the purpose of the episode is to fix Tuvok’s head (which as it turns out has some kind of memory parasite or something half-explained). It was nice to get a bit of Kang again, even if his appearance is too short.

It also gives us tons of backstory on Tuvok. We learn of his initial displeasure with Starfleet, his resigning, how his family began, and why he returned to Starlfeet (a decision I assume he regrets now that he is trapped in the Delta Quadrant with the most illogical crew in the fleet). I like the backstory, but the episode itself is not too hot.

“Trials and Tribble-ations” not only had a pretty solid plot and lots of great humor, but it also was a TRIBUTE in every sense of the word. It has the characters literally in awe of where they are…and the production team went above and beyond to recreate that look and feel of the original show. Here we get Sulu sort of playing backseat to Tuvok, and while that’s not really a bad thing…it sort of cheapens going there in the first place. You just don’t get the sense that the production team worked as hard to make a loving tribute here.

The writing also has issues, as several continuity errors are easily spotted if you just watched “The Undiscovered Country”. Praxis explodes and in this episode its only 4 days later when Kirk and McCoy are on trial…okay most of Star Trek VI takes place TWO MONTHS after Praxis. This error wouldn’t have changed the action of the episode at all, just change some dialogue from “2 days later” to “2 months later”. They also kill off a character that was CLEARLY seen in the final scene of the movie. It is little things like that, people not paying attention to the details that make you think that they just didn’t care or put quite as much love into their special episode as the DS9 crew (where it is clear that they painstakingly went through "Trouble with Tribbles" to make their episode work continuity wise).

NEXT TIME: Kim and Paris Imprisoned

Stranded

Story: Basics, Part II
Written By: Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

“Basics, Part II” is only slightly better than the first installment. Instead of yelling at our dumb characters for blindly walking into a very obvious trap, this time most are forced to learn to survive on a planet with a primitive society, a man-eating cave eel-monster, and several volcanic eruptions. The story is dull; it barely shows anything of our characters except the “can they survive without their tech?” plot. They defeat the eel-monster by causing a cave-in and they are able to finally make peace with the primitive culture by saving one of their people from the flowing lava. It is tolerable, but forgettable for the most part.
The more interesting story is in the taking back of Voyager. It is up to the Doctor and Suder to take back the ship, which his not the ideal situation. The Doctor is unfortunately still confined only to sickbay. Suder is struggling with his new inner peace…and his unfortunate need to kill again (to take back the ship)…something he was hoping to never have to do again. He is torn between wanting to help save the ship and wanting to change his sociopath ways. It is a captivating storyline, especially considering how good his introduction in “Meld” was. But Suder and the Doctor manage to overcome the Kazon with the help of Paris and the Talaxians as an outside force.

The surviving Kazon are forced to abandon ship, including Culluh and Seska’s child…but Seska, many Kazon, and Suder are all killed in the battle for Voyager. Luckily, we are done with the whole Seska thing. As interesting an idea as I thought her character was, the execution was sub-par at best. From what I understand this is also the last real appearance the Kazon (I guess there are a few really minor appearances and references post-Basics but nothing of consequence). Almost everyone but Michael Piller admit were a failure…not to mention how long are they going to be in Kazon space?

NEXT TIME: Tuvok’s Memory

Star Trek: Voyager - Season 2 Recap

Season 2 is essentially very similar to Season 1. A lot of episodes early on in this season were actually meant to be apart of that first season, but were held off. I’d say that this season had some better episodes, including “Meld” and “The Thaw” two pretty good episodes of Trek.

But it also brought “Threshold”, the worst thing Trek has ever produced, and as far as I’m concerned doesn’t come close to being canon, so I think that counts for at least 2 bad episodes.

There are hits and misses, but I give the production team credit for at least attempting to build an arc in this season, even if it had mediocre results. The Seska thing could’ve worked better if she had not been involved with the Kazon, who are not only uninteresting makeshift Klingons, but they also have a terrible design. I liked the idea of one of the Maquis attempting to spy for Seska, but much like the bad behavior of Tom Paris scattered throughout several episodes…it always sort of felt tacked on and forced into every episode in which they appear.

So I’d say slightly better than the first season, but that unfortunately is not saying much.

NEXT TIME: No Technology

Trap

Story: Basics, Part I
Written By: Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Voyager intercepts a message from Seska, apparently she has given birth to Chakotay’s son, and Culluh is not happy to see it isn’t his. After careful deliberation, they decide to go after it; despite knowing it could be a trap. Well the Crew of Voyager once again prove what a group of idiots they are, because no matter how obvious all the clues that they are running right into the middle of a trap are…they press on.
First they find a wounded Kazon in a broken down ship. He gives them all the information they need to get to the trap…I mean where the baby is. Then they keep getting hit by Kazon ships that have no loyalties to any faction. But they all seem to hit them in the same spot. I wonder if this is leading somewhere bad. Then they finally run into some big ass Kazon ships, which kick Voyager’s ass. Somebody call Admiral Ackbar: It’s a TRAP!

So they get boarded by the Kazon and Seska (who is not nearly as dead as the wounded Kazon led us to believe…because it was a trap). It is Chakotay’s son, but Culluh plans to raise him as his own. Culluh says lots of sexist things, which lead me to believe Seska is going to do something in revenge next time, and then they strand the entire Voyager crew on a planet with some kind of big CG lizard and some primitive people.

The Doctor is of course still on the ship. Suder is as well (the murderer from “Meld” who makes a pretty good return in this episode). He was trapped in his quarters after the wounded Kazon blew himself up as part of the trap. So we got two people left on the ship and Paris possibly alive in a shuttle (he was going to try and get help from the Talaxians).

If only they could have seen this trap coming!

NEXT TIME: Voyager Season 2 Recap

Janeway and Chakotay

Story: Resolutions
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

This one is okay, but maybe everything just starts looking better after “Threshold”. A disease infects Janeway and Chakotay by a bug bite, if they leave the planet’s surface they will die. So Voyager is forced to abandon them after the Doctor has run out of all available options.
So while the Captain and her first officer set up house on the planet, the ship takes off for home. But it is uneasy on the ship. Most of the crew don’t like abandoning their leaders and want to break their orders and contact the good ol’ Phage monsters (vidiians or something…I can never remember how to spell it.) Tuvok resists for most of the episode then finally decides it is best to pursue it. That’s the problem with this story, for a good chunk of the episode it is just back and forth (we should/we shouldn’t). When they do contact them, they get attacked, until they come up with a cunning plan to get the cure and escape unscathed.

Meanwhile on the planet a far more interesting story is taking place. It is about two people who are stuck together on a planet. It isn’t the usual boring odd couple plotline, but just to people stuck together on a planet. I’d say the romantic tension that builds between the two officers is interesting and I’m glad it was left unexplored. Especially in the final scene back on the ship, when its back to business as usual. It is an interesting little story, but the execution on the passage of time could have been a LOT better. It is totally unclear how long this episode spans, but the writer seemed to indicate it was meant to be like a month or two or something. That would have been interesting had they made it clearer.

Mulgrew is still a pretty odd actress, I mean the way she holds her hand out to the monkey she sees…weird. I think she kind of wants to be eccentric, hoping to get some Shatner-love. I don’t think she pulls off his madness as well.

NEXT TIME: Chakotay’s Baby

Symbiogenesis

Story: Tuvix
Written By: Andrew Shepard Price, Mark Gaberman, and Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

This is an odd one. A transporter accident merges the bodies and minds of Tuvok and Neelix. The result is a new man who refers to himself as Tuvix. At first there is no medical way to fix him, so he decides to become a member of the crew and try and live his life. I have trouble buying that he is 50/50 of both. He may look like both physically, but saying illogical a couple of times doesn’t make him half Vulcan. He seems like a subdued and tolerable version of Neelix. I think I’d rather just have Tuvok.
A problem arises when the Doctor discovers a way to separate them, but Tuvix objects, calling it murder. You can see his point, he feels like a new person, and in the two weeks he has been aboard the ship he has made friends and proven to be both a good advisor to Janeway, a better cook than Neelix, and a good tactical officer. He has made friends with most of the crew and then Janeway ORDERS HIM TO DIE.

She just comes off like a cold blooded murderer, and the fact that he seems to have the best of both worlds…it seems totally odd and wrong to make her decision the way she does other than to get the regulars back. In that case why do the episode at all? Most fans seem to agree that Janeway is in the wrong.

Oh and if there was ever a need for the writers to just put a dunce hat on Harry Kim, it is when the Doctor asks him a question about separating two people in the transporter, and he remarks “Wait a minute, this is about Tuvix isn’t it?” DUH Harry! Who the hell else is going to be about? Jesus Christ how’d he pass Starfleet Academy?

Not a terrible episode, but not good.

NEXT TIME: Searching for a Cure

The Clown

Story: The Thaw
Written By: Richard Gadas & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Incredible episode. Voyager has episodes where I can see that they are good or decent, but this is the first one were I really have to admit it could be up there with other Trek classics (maybe only “Meld has come close to this point). Voyager comes to a planet that once had great commerce, but now is a barren wasteland. They discover that the population was destroyed by some kind of planetary catastrophe. They do find a few lifeforms in stasis, and beam them aboard. Two of the people are already dead, but the other three are still living with their brain functions being occupied by some kind of entertainment program.
Kim and Torres go into the pprogram and discover a program based on fear known as the Clown. The Clown apparently manifested itself from the fears of the occupants, they all had anxieties of death or not making it out…then he arrived and managed to scare to of the people to death. He demands to exist, and letting the people go would forego that existence. So he sends Torres out to warn the others not to try and save them, but he keeps Kim.

It has great visuals, some thought provoking stuff, and a solid ending. Even though it is a computer program you can really see how the anxiety can lift and frighten the people for real. Michael McKean, an actor I love anyways, is FANTASTIC in the role of the Clown. He does a hell of a job being kind of funny and frightening all at once. And his final moments of “I’m scared” are a wonderful end.

All in all, this one is a definite winner, makes you almost forget how bad some of this show has been previously. It was nice that the writers finally gave Kim something to do that wasn’t bitchwork or dying as well.

NEXT TIME: Tuvok and Neelix Get Merged

Disappearing Children

Story: Innocence
Written By: Anthony Williams & Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

This one isn’t that bad but just kind of boring through the majority of it. Basically Tuvok is trapped on a moon after his shuttle crashes and the red shirt with him dies. There he finds some children who claim some monster is eating them, it turns out that in fact they are all elderly people from their world with a reverse aging process.
The Tuvok storyline is not terribly bad, it has plenty of decent moments, and we learn a bit about Vulcan parenting. But the stuff with Janeway on the ship is just plan dullsville. So average episode with one halfway decent storyline and one really boring one.

NEXT TIME: Fear Based Computer Program

Two Voyagers

Story: Deadlock
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Neelix literally works a pregnant woman until she goes into labor in the opening scene. I honestly don’t understand why he hasn’t already been thrown out an airlock. Anyways she then gives birth, which gets complicated, but they manage to beam the baby out.
The ship takes a route through some kind of sci-fi cloud to avoid being caught by those Phage aliens, and suddenly gets hit by proton beams which nearly destroy the ship, kill Kim, see Kes disappear and cause the accidental death of the baby. But suddenly we find ourselves on an unaffected Voyager. It seems the cloud they entered caused two Voyagers to be created, slightly out of phase with each other. One sent out proton beams, they were hitting the other.

They are able to contact each other and communicate their issues. This causes more problems when the phage monsters show up. They only detect one Voyager, the one that WASN’T practically destroyed. They board the ship and outnumber the crew…they are going to win. So Janeway of the nicer ship decides to self-destruct, and send her Kim and that baby over to the ship that will survive. The explosion destroys Voyager and the phage monster ship, just after Kim makes it to Voyager with the baby.

It is actually not a bad episode, it has our crew go through some tough shit, and has the ship practically destroyed which looks cool. It has some neat moments, but the sort of reset button that puts everything back to normal at the end is sort of disappointing.

NEXT TIME: Tuvok on a Moon with Kids

A Briefing with Neelix

Story: Investigations
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Neelix gets a morning show on the ship, the results are as annoying and bubbly as you’d expect from this loser. But when Kim suggests that he have more hard-hitting news, it makes Neelix think. Especially when Tom Paris decides to leave the ship.
Essentially this episode brings together the two stories that were shoehorned into several episodes this season, that of Jonas (the former Maquis) spying for Seska and Paris acting like an asshole in several episodes. What we learn is that Tuvok and Janeway are already aware of the spy, and that Paris acting like an ass was a ruse (even to Chakotay) to make it seem plausible that he would want to leave. That way they could get him captured by Seska and the Kazons and attempt to find out whom the spy was.

It has its moments, and I like that the episodes not meant for season one actually attempted some kind of arc and continuity, but I just wish I didn’t have to follow Neelix to get a conclusion to all of this. I won’t say that he was at his worst, but I definitely have trouble buying him as a hero, because I rarely see evidence of intelligence from this guy.

NEXT TIME: Out of Phase

Denara

Story: Lifesigns
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Voyager finds another victim of the phage, and the Doctor creates a holographic body and stores her brainwaves there (I guess). He then attempts to save her life before the synaptic patterns degrade and she is dead forever. But he falls in love with her. I’m not a fan of instant love stories, but this one just passes muster because Picardo is such a great actor and a joy to watch in this role. So I pretty much gave it a grade of “at least it’s not Chakotay”.
Two smaller stories also take place in this episode, one is sort of picking up where the Paris story that disappeared part way through “Dreadnought” left off. He is showing up late and not taking his job seriously. He tells Chakotay that he doesn’t like him or how he does his job, and when he is replaced on the bridge for NOT DOING HIS JOB he shoves Chakotay to the ground. I’d like to feel for Paris, but the guy is literally doing exactly what would get you taken off your post. We’ll see where this one takes us in future episodes I suppose.

There is also yet another scene in which the former Maquis guy sends info to the Kazon by explaining the plot of the episode (in this case Paris vs. Chakotay) and is promptly asked to sabotage Voyager. He refuses until he finally can talk to Seska, and this time we get a second scene where she finally does reply to him. She tells him to sabotage the ship, because she wants to take Voyager from Janeway, and wants to get away from the Kazon with her baby. So at least this story is going somewhere finally.

NEXT TIME: Neelix Has a Morning News Show

A Suicidal Q

Story: Death Wish
Written By: Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Voyager finds an asteroid, and inside they beam aboard a being that refers to himself as Q. It isn’t the Q we all know and love. So this Q is awkward and accidentally makes all the men disappear, but this is changed when the original Q shows up and restores them. For like 5 seconds they have a battle of powers, and then the writers got bored. So did the audience, who are now just sticking around because they knew Riker was supposed to show up.
The new Q wants to die, and he asks for asylum. A deal is struck, and if Janeway doesn’t grant asylum he will be sent back into his asteroid prison, if he is granted asylum he will be given mortality and kill himself. Imprisonment or Death. Janeway is in a hard spot. She continues to give a look to the camera for the rest of the episode that reads, “This is tough for me, can you tell?”

I really hated Mulgrew’s acting in this one, forced throughout. Her rapport with John De Lancie also leaves something to be desired. The episode plays around with some old Q games that are supposed to be new and exciting because there is a different guy doing them, but it is tiresome.

The whole Riker thing makes no sense. Q Classic brings him in as one of three historical important figures affected by New Q. The first is Isaac Newton. Apparently this new Q dropped the apple on his head. Nonsense. That story is an acknowledged myth in real life AND BY DATA IN OTHER TREK. So this story is already completely idiotic to me. Another is some random hippie who apparently (and this is just too much) noticed that some extension cord was hooked up wrong, and WOODSTOCK NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED HAD HE NOT FOUND IT! Bullshit. One – I doubt the whole festival was hooked up with one extension cord, Two – I have trouble buying that had this guy not gotten a ride by New Q that no one else would have caught such a dumb mistake, Three – I have trouble understanding what the ramifications would have been had Woodstock not taken place…I doubt the Federation never would have happened if a music festival was delayed or fell through.

Then the third is Riker. While he never met this new Q because he was jailed in the asteroid, his existence is owed to him, since he allegedly saved his ancestor’s life once, as proven by a clearly photoshopped image. This leads me to only one conclusion: Frakes had nothing better to do, and the thought of having a cast member from a far more popular Trek series appealed to the producers.

In the end Janeway grants him asylum and tries to convince him not to kill himself. He joins the crew and calls himself Quinn for 15 seconds before giving up and killing himself.

This episode is bad, because it not only has some of the worst acting from Mulgrew to date, but also misuses De Lancie, who really got a strong out in “All Good Things…” and really didn’t need to return again. Q is a dried up well at this point, but the writers couldn’t let him go.

NEXT TIME: The Doctor Falls for a Phage Victim

Cardassian Missile

Story: Dreadnought
Written By: Gary Holland
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Voyager finds a Cardassian missile in the Delta Quadrant, and it is soon revealed that Torres (for the Maquis) to attack a Cardassian target reprogrammed it…but much like Voyager itself it ended up in the Delta Quadrant. The real problem is the missile has locked on target, even though that target is 75000 light-years away.
So it becomes a battle between a computer programmed to fight off all attempts to stops its mission and Torres trying desperately to save millions of innocent people on a planet that has accidentally been targeted.

It is alright, but there are lots of pacing issues (there are moments that just feel like nothing is going on at all) and structural issues. Why is Tom Paris acting strangely all of a sudden? That plotline is brought up near the beginning and then quickly lost in the shuffle. Also we get that former Maquis guy trying to call the Kazon again and just tell them about the plot of this week’s episode. Seriously where is this going?

Like I said, it has it’s moments, but it just suffers from the Voyager disease.

NEXT TIME: Quinn

Violent Tendencies

Story: Meld
Written By: Michael Sussman & Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

When someone in engineering is murdered, Tuvok gets on the case. An early suspect is a Betazed former Maquis named Suder. Suder is kind of creepy, and despite initially denying his involvement he eventually confesses in the light of condemning evidence. All facts make it clear that Suder is the culprit, but the lack of motive does not sit right with Tuvok. In order to understand this random act of violence, he attempts a mind meld.
When it first appeared in an early TOS episode, the meld was described as being dangerous…then melding just happened whenever. Here we see how dangerous it really could be. Tuvok’s meld has disastrous results when it brings out violent tendencies in hi in himself. It is a really good episode, and Russ gives a really good performance.

Thank god the episode following “Threshold” was able to undo some the damage to my brain. This show needed another good episode, especially after that nightmare.

NEXT TIME: Torres’ Maquis Weapon

Warp 10

Story: Threshold
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Just before the 20-minute mark, Star Trek: Voyager enters a realm of idiocy and fantasy that Trek previously had ever seen before. Tom Paris begins to turn into a salamander. That is a sentence no Trek fan should have to face, but Brannon Braga does not understand genetics, DNA, evolution, or biology…so there you go.
Basically this episode is about trying to break the Warp 10 barrier. It has never been done, but it is theorized that when you reach this velocity you would be at every point in the Universe. Whatever. So Paris, Torres, and Kim are running simulations to see if it could be done, after all it could be a potential avenue home. Once they finally have a successful simulation, they attempt the real deal. It is seemingly a success when Paris returns safely…but soon he has medical issues, and he even dies at one point…but he comes back to life and his body continues to change and he slowly turns into a salamander. Jesus Christ.

The Doctor has a plan to return him to original state, but Paris escapes while they attempt the plan…and he kidnaps Janeway, and makes another flight. When Voyager finally finds the shuttle and them, they are BOTH salamanders and have babies. They let the babies stay and take the two parents home to turn back into our regular characters. Holy fricken cow.

“Threshold” is without a doubt the worst thing to ever happen in Star Trek. You watch this episode, and Season 3 of TOS seems brilliant, Season 1 of TNG is like Shakespeare…this is complete and utter garbage.

Brannon Braga admits the episode didn’t work, and thinks that it is odd that out of all the 100 odd episodes of Trek he wrote this one always gets brought up. But here is the fact: this is the final straw of his terrible evolution stories. He tried bringing in evolution in episodes like “Identity Crisis” and “Genesis” to TNG…but it is startlingly clear that while the guy does seem interested in the subject of evolution, he insults us all with his complete lack of understanding. It really, really aggravates me that the guy never once even tried to look some of this shit up. I’ve read what he was thinking about evolution on this one, but it is gibberish. He never read up on the subject, he never learned one goddamned fact about evolution, where we come from or where we could theoretically go. He just got some myths and half-truths and just ran with it. With this he took it to a new level of stupidity, and I think that is really insulting to his audience. He is a fucking lazy writer. He may have written over a hundred episodes in the Star Trek franchise, but from what I’ve witnessed, most of them are mediocre to bad…his best work was with the great writer Ronald D. Moore (makes you wonder who was carrying most of the weight there…or more likely who was shooting down all the bullshit insane ideas). I’ve never felt the need to ridicule a writer before now, but Braga submitted enough bad episodes, and the single worse thing in the whole Trek Universe…I think that justifies the rant.

Oh and that former Maquis that was trying to contact Seska and co in the previous episode sends the Kazons some info on the Warp test made by Paris as well. Maybe we’ll see salamander Kazons later.

NEXT TIME: Suder

Cutting a Deal with the Kazon

Story: Alliances
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

After a particularly harsh attack from the Kazon and the death of a crewmember, some of the old tensions between the Federation and Maquis members of the crew return. While Janeway has tried to run the ship with completely Federation ways, some of the Maquis are beginning to think they just don’t work in this region of space. Some suggest just handing their tech to the Kazon in order to be let alone. Chakotay suggests that some compromises should be made. I feel that should have been happening since the beginning, they need to compromise not only in hiring a few token Maquis members for officer status, but some of their ways should have been adopted, so that both crews could struggle equally with the new ways, instead of Janeway forcing the Maquis to follow her way or the highway.
Anyhow, Chakotay suggests an alliance with the Kazon, and when Tuvok concurs, she decides to make a go of it. While she attempts to make an alliance with Seska and Culluh, while Neelix goes to meet some Kazon he knows who is in good standing with his leader. Neither plan goes well. Culluh just insults Janeway and ridicules her for being a woman and Neelix gets thrown in jail for no reason given other than the script said he had to meet a Trabe.

Neelix and the Trabe escape! Who knows where that came from but they do, and Neelix helps arrange a meeting with the Trabe and Janeway. They decide it would be really beneficial to make an alliance with each other and try to get all the factions of the Kazon for peace as well. Sounds like a good plan in theory…but the Trabe and Kazon are bitter old rivals, so the Kazon (who were once treated like animals by the Trabe) are immediately suspicious. Their suspicions turn out to be well founded when this Trabe leader has a Godfather Part III inspired raid on this meeting to wipe out all the faction leaders of the Kazon.

Turns out no one in this freaking Delta Quadrant are gonna be helpful to Voyager. They are on their own, and now they are even more vulnerable. Janeway gives a pretty cheesy preachy speech at the end that basically boils down to “I was right and you were wrong bitches!” It is a really pathetic display.

There was a minor unresolved storyline in which one of the former Maquis attempt to contact Seska, clearly a small mini-arc involving some descent begins here. We’ll see where it leads. Oh and another interesting note here, Seska says something to Culluh about her carrying his baby, so perhaps Chakotay is NOT the father. The plot thickens.

I thought it was good that the politics of the Delta Quadrant were finally laid out a bit. Compared to what was found in the Gamma Quadrant (politics that make sense in the Dominion, bad for the Federation as they may be at least it was clear writing) the Delta Quadrant seems like just a grab-bag of whatever will fit the plot this week. At least things look a little clearer in the picture now…dumb as they may be.

NEXT TIME: Evolution Does Not Work This Way

The War to End All Wars

Story: Prototype
Written By: Nicholas Corea
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

This is interesting because it features a very different kind of lifeform: Robots. I feel the episode is for the most part solidly written, well performed and directed. I give the credit to Michael Piller who apparently was the only producer fighting for the episode and I give credit to Jonathan Frakes for doing a good job directing.
The Robots are interesting, and I like their style. They look unique and cool. I think the writing works because little twists about the robots are slowly revealed as the episode goes on. It also gave Dawson some acting to do, and I’m glad she stepped up to the plate and managed to shell out a decent performance.

“Prototype” is a good episode. It’s nice to say good and not feel like I’m saying “good for Voyager’s standards”. It is actually good…not great, it still has some Voyager flaws, which I chuck up to the lousy production team, but I think Frakes and Piller were able to put in enough effort that this one actually turned out pretty good.

NEXT TIME: Compromises

Mokra

Story: Resistance
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

What a sloppily written mess. Apparently something broke on the ship. I say apparently because whatever it was doesn’t get much attention since it is just the lazy reason the characters are on this dangerous mission on some dangerous planet to retrieve some MacGuffin item to fix whatever is broken in the warpcore. The episode begins with them receiving the item and all hell breaking loose. Neelix escapes with the item and is able to get the ship fixed…but Tuvok and Torres are caught and jailed…and Janeway is knocked out and rescued by some lunatic who thinks she is his daughter.
From there it goes from boring scene to uninteresting scene before making to a dull scene. The episode moves at about 5 mph. It is slow and boring and about 50% of it actually makes any sense.

So yeah…skip this one at all costs.

NEXT TIME: Robots

Manipulations

Story: Maneuvers
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Voyager picks up a signal from a beacon that is seemingly Federation. They decide to investigate, only to be attacked by Kazons…who are being helped by Seska. They are able to beam aboard and steal some transporter technology, which is not good. Feeling Seska is a problem of his own, Chakotay decides to go after her, without Janeway or Tuvok finding out…he was able to override their security and steal a shuttle. Damn…Tuvok sucks at his job.
The fact is the Kazon suck as recurring villains. They look ridiculous (keep it simple, that hair with mushroom or whatever is NOT cutting it), they act like 3rd rate Klingons, and there is nothing particularly scary about that…and with DS9 having both the ever enduring Klingons and the fantastic threat in the Dominion…Voyager is just falling flat with these lame Kazon.

I like Seska as an adversary because she is sinister in her own way and is a bit of a thinker…as much as people are aloud to be thinkers in this series, but I feel she is misused here… no one can make the Kazon a decent villain. In her last scene on the viewscreen she does reveal a nice little secret, she has taken some of Chakotay’s DNA…and impregnated herself. Yikes.

In the end, Chakotay is threatened with being put on report by Janeway. 75 years til they could possible get home and she’s gonna put him on report with an organization they have no contact with and that he LEFT FOR THE MAQUIS. He claims it kinda sucks that he disappointed her, but I just think it was a failing of the producers to not allow the writer to actually have some kind of punishment. She claims she has to punish to maintain order on the ship, but this slap on the wrist sends the message of “be wreckless and I might stomp my feet”. Bad end.

NEXT TIME: Caylem

Suspiria

Story: Cold Fire
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

This one doesn’t have a terribly unbelievable plot, or really even a bad one…its just boring though. Its pacing is all wrong, everything…moves…so…slowly.
When the remains of the Caretaker start moving (apparently after he died in the pilot they shoved him in a jar in sickbay) they decide they are finally getting close to the mate he mentioned before he died. What they do find is a space station, filled with Ocampa…that is apparently shocking even to Kes. These Ocampa claim Voyager has a reputation of death and destruction. The main guy (who is played so stiff most of the time you’d think he was a Vulcan…and actually the actor would go on to play Soval in Enterprise) takes a liking to Kes and attempts to open her telepathic abilities…most of which deals with feeling life before destroying it with her mind fire.

It isn’t all bad, but its pace is so slow that you just get frustrated part way through and wish it would get on with it. I did like the caretaker’s mate, Suspiria, who was played chillingly well by a little girl when in human form, but the plot kind of haphazardly ends and Suspiria escapes…I guess so we can meet again someday and she can’t solve their problem now. I can all already see a plausible means of getting home NOT being used already!

NEXT TIME: Return of Seska

Symbols

Story: Tattoo
Written By: Larry Brody
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

I don’t like that Native American culture HAD to be from aliens…but despite this big gaping flaw in the episode, I have to admit that it is more watchable than the average Voyager episode.
It does give us some actual character development for Chakotay, and we get a bit of duel story in his current mission and a time from his youth when he struggled with the ways of his people while finding their ancestors. It is good to get some backstory even if it comes with a ridiculous aliens gave us our religion plot.

NEXT TIME: Ocampa Colony

Bad Hallucinations

Story: Persistence of Vision
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

This one is actually pretty good. Janeway is kind of stressed and overworked. The Doctor orders her to take a break, she takes the advice and goes to the holodeck…but then she starts seeing things from her holoprogram outside the holodeck, and it concerns her. When technical explanations escape her and everyone else, it seems she is hallucinating.
It is eventually discovered that the Botha, who don’t really want Voyager traveling through their space, bring on her hallucinations. They immobilize the whole crew, except Kes and the Doctor. Kes has some telepathic abilities making it easier for her to fight off the hallucinations.

There are some chilling moments and interesting character paths taken, and I think the episode is solid all around. If Voyager was like this on average I wouldn’t find it difficult to watch at all.

NEXT TIME: Chakotay’s Youth

Neelix vs. Paris

Story: Parturition
Written By: Tom Szollosi
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

I could care less about Neelix and Paris competing for Kes. It is ridiculous. She seems to prefer Neelix, but lord knows why. He is an asshole, he is jealous and acts like a fool ALL the time around her and everyone else and treats her like she is a slut 50% of the time for just being near Paris. The fact that she can’t see Tom likes her is retarded.
This whole competition leads to Neelix and Tom fighting physically, and wouldn’t you know it…its just before they are being called to Janeway’s office! Wacky since they are now covered in nasty Neelix food. She decides to send them on a mission together; she even guesses that they may be fighting…PERCEPTIVE. But now we get the wacky “stuck on a mission together” story. This episode is wacky.

But of course they can’t grow to like each other while actually working on a mission, it’s a now generic Trek plot of “odd couple crashes and have to lean on each other to survive”. You know TNG and DS9 were able to pull off these generic plot devices far better…maybe because they got a crack at them first…but really I think its because they had more interesting characters. On the planet they are meant to find food they only find itchy vapors in the air, and a baby dinosaur. What?

It’s a weird yet unique storyline. I’ll give them that, but it takes to long to get going. It takes forever to get to the weird baby dinosaur plot to be completely interesting.

NEXT TIME: Botha

Contorted

Story: Twisted
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

This episode is boring. Boring boring boring. The ship gets caught in an “inversion field” and as a result the comm. systems are down and everyone is wandering around lost. The ship is essentially changing shape and no one can find there way around anymore. So as a result it is one long wandering through the halls scene. There is tons of technobabble that makes little to no sense, some dialogue in which the characters state the obvious, and a lot of awkward character moments that are always really hard to buy.
I don’t care about the whole Neelix-Paris thing in competing for Kes. I don’t see what Kes, or anyone for that matter, sees in Neelix at all. I don’t see why all B’Elanna ever does, STILL, is complain about every decision her higher-ups make. I don’t understand why Janeway tells Kim that he has exceeded her expectations…because he hasn’t done anything in this series at all so far that is noteworthy or been told to the rest of the crew.

I don’t really get the character interactions in this show. In TNG, DS9, and even TOS…the characters all have basic character backgrounds, but then relationships that make sense as a result. Dax and Worf falling in love makes a lot of sense when you consider both characters backstories, especially considering that the backstories were developed before either was on the same show. Geordi was an engineer, Data an android…their good friendship comes from this sort of common ground…and grows as a result. But why does Kes love Neelix, or Tom likes Kes…beyond physical attraction for Tom I see no real reason behind the love angle. Kes loving Neelix makes even less sense. He is unattractive physically but does nothing but whine, complain, exaggerate his own abilities, and act overbearing and jealous towards every action Kes makes.

I could write a book called “Everything Wrong With Star Trek: Voyager”.

NEXT TIME: Planet Hell

It Does Not Follow

Story: Non Sequitur
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Harry Kim wakes up in a reality in which he is home on Earth, engaged to his beautiful girlfriend and has a far more successful career. He is dying to get back to the ship lost far from all of this and where he is the bottom of the totem pole.
It is a bad episode, boring in all the wrong episodes, annoying in others. The acting is terrible from all involved. Wang is not a strong enough actor to carry an episode by himself. McNeill is playing Paris like an asshole, I’m sure he had fun but I find it to be unbelievable and I’d rather not watch. Then there is Jennifer Gatti playing Kim’s girlfriend Libby. What a bad actress she is. She says every line as if she isn’t sure it is the correct one. Bad all around.

NEXT TIME: Inversion Field

Kes’s Biological Clock

Story: Elogium
Written By: Kenneth Biller & Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Kes’s biological clock is ticking. No really. If she doesn’t get knocked up by the end of the episode she never will! Her race is dumber and dumber the more we learn about them. She’s not even 2 years old yet. THAT MAKES NEELIX EXTRA CREEPY.
Speaking of Neelix, he continues to be annoying AND useless. Then we get these space creatures that are trying to bang the ship. They saw Voyager and were like “I wanna tap that!”

In all seriousness, dumb episode with several dumb premises.

NEXT TIME: Waking Up on Earth

Projected Delusions

Story: Projections
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

This episode focuses on the Doctor. Win. It barely features the rest of the crew. Win. Barclay sort of makes a guest appearance. Triple Win.
This is one of the best episodes this show produced up to this point. We get the Doctor dealing with his own esoteric and psychological battles, making him question whether he is actually a hologram or not. We get Barclay also appearing in a sort of pseudo guest spot. It isn’t really Barclay, but just having Schultz appear makes me like this episode just a little bit more…he should have been the Chief Engineer on Voyager…think of it, the leader with troubles leading? Oh…a guy can dream.

Anyhow my only gripe is the bit of fake out ending…it is sort of a cliché in mindbender and horror films to make you think it is all over…when oh wait it isn’t (!) …okay now it is. That was lame, but everything else was pretty good.

NEXT TIME: Sex and Babies

Rite of Passage

Story: Initiations
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

This one is alright by Voyager standards. It focuses on Chakatoy who, if you forgot, is some kind of American Indian descendant. He is doing some generic tradition in a shuttle when a young Kazon boy attacks him.
The episode then goes on to have this kid continue to try and “earn his name” after being saved in battle by Chakatoy. The episode goes around in circles but isn’t nearly as aggravating as “The 37s”. At least it has Aron Eisenberg from DS9.

The Kazon are an increasingly stupid creation though. They are just makeshift Klingons in the Delta Quadrant. Similar head ridges and a quest for glory in battle…just boring to see the writers give themselves all this leeway in terms of creating new races…and just create a Klingon replica race. Boring and lazy.

NEXT TIME: The Doctor – Man or Myth

Old Ford Truck in Space

Story: The 37's
Written By: Jeri Taylor & Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

What a crock. This is just a terrible episode, no doubt in my mind. I mean they find some old truck, everyone talks about how ancient it is and then they head down to the planet to find Amelia Earhart? Give me a break.
There are dumb situations like a guy pulling a gun on them and they immediately give up their phasers…STUN HIM ASSHOLES! Or beam out of there before he can even think of shooting. But they act helpless just so they can have a cliché hostage situation. Lame. Then you get little details like the navigator. Earhart is dressed up like iconic Earhart. Leather Flight Jacket, Plaid shirt…but then her navigator is wearing a ‘30s suit and tie. IF HE WAS IN A PLANE WHY ISN’T HE DRESSED FOR IT? Because the writing, the costumes, the story, the characters, and the productions team work poorly together. Nobody thinks too hard; just make an episode of Star Trek so I can take home my paycheck.

Then the ends, they find out this planet has a peaceful human civilization (who greet them by shooting at the Voyager crew…) and they invite anyone who wants to live on the planet with them. I don’t buy the end where absolutely no one decides to stay. Its supposed to be inspirational but it is just another lame contrivance that I can’t convince myself it is realistic.

Terrible idea to even bring a conclusion to Amelia Earhart, but beyond that it is still just a bad, bad episode. Terrible way to begin the new season.

NEXT TIME: Kar

Star Trek: Voyager - Season 1 Recap

So the first season of this spin-off is pretty much like all first seasons. It is a season that is somewhat rocky, shaky, and it has a feeling of trying to find its feet.

The problem really lies in the writing though. The cast finding its feet in the first season is completely understandable, but the writing is just old hat. The stories aren’t new; they are barely interesting most of the time. Most of these writers had been doing a show like Voyager for 7 years. The TNG writing staff sort of went two ways at the end, some joined up with the writing staff of DS9, some started up Voyager. The cats doing Voyager had no focus; it was as if no one was speaking to each other.

The stories don’t flow, the plots are weak, and the beginning of what would remain a problem throughout the series started right here: no progress. There are a few opportunities in this season to just slightly shorten the 75-year trip home, but none of the opportunities are taken, or they don’t work, or they are just forgotten. Why? Shaving a few weeks off of 75 years still gives this series enough time to continue the show for 7 years.

The reason is that the writers and producers had no interest in advancing the show forward. Just make it a week-to-week episodic show. The characters don’t need to grow and the crew doesn’t need to get closer to home. Then why even give the show a plot? Just to give us a reason to do new aliens instead of Klingons? Too bad we know that doesn’t even last, the Borg eventually take over the show.

The only character of real interest is the Doctor. He takes an idea from the second season of TNG, a growing thinking sentient hologram, and they run with it. Beyond that, very little original ideas for characters were used in this series.

The first season really isn’t THAT bad. I would say there are enough halfway decent episodes to make the show seem promising from the beginning. It is unfortunate that the series didn’t get too much better in the future.

NEXT TIME: Amelia Earhart

Training the Maquis

Story: Learning Curve
Written By: Ronald Wilkerson & Jean Louise Matthias
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Oh yeah we have both Maquis and Federation crews on this ship. I forgot. Because of the inconsistent writing. Well turns out despite the fact that sometimes they get along with no issues; people are still having trouble adjusting. So Tuvok is given the job of training the Maquis on how Starfleet works.
The episode is decent but rather predictable. You see what is coming a mile away. Ragtag Maquis crewmembers being trained start off rough, but then they get better, and eventually everything works out okay. Yay!

It is seriously predictable, but there are some okay moments that make it certainly watchable.

Oh and the B-Story is terrible…turns out that the ship is malfunctioning…because Neelix made cheese. FUCKING HELL.

NEXT TIME: Voyager Season 1 Recap

Cascade Bomb

Story: Jetrel
Written By: Jack Klein & Karen Klein and Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Neelix gets a bit of focus in this episode. That sucks. He is an aggravating character, an annoying figure that does nothing constructive on the ship. He is supposed to be a “guide” for the ship in the Delta Quadrant, but all I’ve seen him do is gripe, annoy, and cook terrible food.
Apparently he is meant to have a more dramatic role here. He was a survivor of a war, and a man he believes is responsible for many of his peoples’ deaths wants to examine Neelix to see if he has the disease that the doctor apparently caused, and to help him. But the war has plenty of harsh memories for Neelix.

It is meant to have some kind of Hiroshima reference, but even the writing staff seems torn on whether it actually is or not. So am I. The episode garners mixed results, it is not the strongest or weakest, but it definitely has a lot of problems.

NEXT TIME: End of the First Season

B'Elanna Gets Split In Half

Story: Faces
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Oh lord. What a goofy and silly idea. Torres gets split in half, one Klingon, one human. And guess who has done it? The same weirdoes that STOLE Neelix’s lungs earlier in the season.
Dawson gives a GODAWFUL performance in the fully Klingon make up…for some reason she thinks being totally Klingon means talking like a idiotic robot… "HOW…do you…KNOW…THAT.” She has the most aggravating pauses between every word. What the fuck is she doing?
The premise is stupid, the acting is terrible, and the whole episode just leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Side note: I’ve noticed characters in this series have a tendency to announce their plans to each other in front of the enemy…and they don’t whisper. It has happened several times throughout the series, but I thought I should mention it at least once.

NEXT TIME: Ma'Bor Jetrel

Dark Matter Nebula

Story: Cathexis
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Some possessing entity invades Voyager. Some entity that comes near some dark matter nebula attacks a shuttlecraft (that is out for no real reason that I can figure…why the hell is a shuttle going out when the ONLY GOAL is to get home? This show makes no sense sometimes.)
So anyhow, this thing attacks the shuttle, renders Chakotay brain dead, and invades the ship. So Janeway’s plan is to TAKE THEM BACK TO THE NEBULA. Or maybe she is invaded.

The whole episode is confusing and pointless and tries to be filled with paranoia like “The Thing” but it doesn’t come close to the quality of paranoia used in Deep Space Nine with the Founders. So yeah…it is a crappy episode.

NEXT TIME: Two Torreses

Protostar

Story: Heroes and Demons
Written By: Naren Shankar
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

When Janeway can’t find Kim to force him to do technobabbly bitchwork on his day off, she gets worried and looks on the holodeck. The holodeck has gone wrong. Do they go right?
So this time it’s all sort of Beowulf and seemingly transporting people to somewhere or something. The Doctor is forced to help in the mission to find and save the people lost. The episode sucked, but having the Doctor used heavily makes it not only watchable but actually kind of interesting, during his parts.

Oh and it turns out the something technobabbly made the holodeck go wrong. Go figure!

NEXT TIME: Brain Dead Chakotay

Seska

Story: State of Flux
Written By: Chris Abbott
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

I think I just noticed one of the fundamental flaws of this particular series. Technobabble. It is always noted as one of the issues with the later Treks, but this episode had a moment that really pointed it out to me. When on the Kazon ship, there is some piece of machinery that uses some kind of particle or something that means ONLY the Federation use it. That’s how they determine it must be Starfleet. That it uses some similar kind of particles (or something). So some confusing technobabble explains that this must be Starfleet, whereas no one in this completely different quadrant could have POSSIBLY come up with something similar. Ridiculous.
You know what would have worked better and been a more striking image? Show the goddamn machine on this Kazon ship with a fucking Starfleet emblem on it! That would have made a hell of a lot more sense than the technobabble.

Beyond that this episode is actually kinda good. It deals with a spy on Voyager, and it turns out that it is the Bajoran Maquis member, and former lover of Chakotay, Seska. Then comes the big bombshell for Chakotay and the rest of the Maquis members of Voyager: she isn’t Bajoran…she is Cardassian.

Seska is actually an interesting villain for Voyager. I don’t really have any idea how her storyline in the show plays out, and I’m going to avoid finding out before watching the episodes, but I’m sure it disappears in favor of the Borg storylines that start up later.

NEXT TIME: Holo-Beowulf

Folding Space

Story: Prime Factors
Written By: Michael Perricone & Greg Elliot
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Some weird creepy aliens invite the crew of Voyager for some creepy sexiness, shopping, and hanging out. But then Kim discovers that they have some advanced technology that could shave have the time off their 75-year voyage home.
But these aliens have their own version of the prime directive keeps them from helping Voyager. I like the idea of the Voyager folks being on the flip side of the Prime Directive, especially when Janeway seems to have NO CLUE how it actually works.

I didn’t like that the technology didn’t and never would have worked for Voyager, it is the beginning of a long line of no progress for this ship and this crew, the whole point of the show is getting home, but every opportunity to even shave a little off the trip ends up not working or doesn’t pan out or is forbidden by Janeway…so the show stays stagnant. Why not slowly get them closer instead of constantly keeping them in the same position?

This episode could have been a step forward for the show, but it ended poorly.

NEXT TIME: Kazon

Mummies

Story: Emanations
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

This is an interesting one. Deals with death and death rituals. I won’t go into all the details, but it has some interesting notions. As a result of an investigation on an asteroid for some new element (because WHY GET HOME?), Ensign Kim accidentally gets transported to some other dimension or something, where these people send their bodies to evolve when they die, but unfortunately the fact is that there is no afterlife and they end up rotting on an asteroid.
They think Kim is some kind of member of the afterlife…but even worse the person supposed to be sent to the asteroid (well to the afterlife) actually ends up on Voyager. So now all of her beliefs and thoughts are shattered, and Voyager has to figure out some kind of solution to her problem while trying to get Kim back.

It has some actually decent ideas, ideas that unfortunately disappear later in his work with both Voyager and Enterprise.

NEXT TIME: Sikaris

After the Fact

Story: Ex Post Facto
Written By: Evan Carlos Somers and Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

This episode takes us right back off course of the getting home story. After Deep Space Nine began to show that arcs could work in Star Trek, why not take it further with this show? But instead they go back to the episodic format, which already had 10 years of stories (in TOS and TNG combined).
Anyhow, this episode isn’t terrible. It has some interesting ideas, but the lack of decent characters in this series makes it harder to get into. Paris is accused of murder, and it is up to the crew of Voyager, namely Tuvok, to disprove the facts given from both the wife of the murdered man and the dying mans very own last visions.

It is a decent murder mystery with a nice twist.

NEXT TIME: New Element

A Wormhole to Home

Story: Eye of the Needle
Written By: Bill Dial and Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

This episode is actually rather decent. Voyager discovers a wormhole that leads to the Alpha Quadrant. This show should have stayed focus on the problem at hand, getting home.
The problem at first seems to be that the wormhole is just too small to fit Voyager through. But then they think maybe relaying a message could still fit through. They manage to connect to a Romulan ship. There is some technobabble that means they could maybe test transporting people to the Alpha Quadrant. Unfortunately they can’t, the wormhole also is a rift into the past.

For Voyager, it is a powerful episode. It hits the right notes this show should hit more often. Unfortunately it doesn’t go there too often.

NEXT TIME: Paris, a Murderer?

Coffee

Story: The Cloud
Written By: Tom Szollosi and Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

Janeway literally risks the safety of her ship for some fucking coffee in this episode. Then it turns out that she didn’t just risk her crew, she ripped through a life form, not a Nebula. The writing of this show is a mess.
This episode tries to give us lots of character moments but many fall flat or feel out of place. I just realized that a Vulcan security officer makes no sense. They are a peaceful race, but as a security officer Tuvok seems too violent, even in that position but especially for a Vulcan.

So this episode tries to get us better acquainted with all these characters but all it really does is showcase that nobody, barring the Doctor, is particularly likeable.

NEXT TIME: The Romulan Transmission

Neelix’s Lungs

Story: Phage
Written By: Skye Dent and Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

On some away mission Neelix shouldn’t have been on but so what Janeway is a bad captain…he gets his lungs STOLEN. What a dumb premise for an episode. So there’s bitter Neelix with holographic lungs pissed at Kes because of Paris, and then there is Janeway trying to find his lungs. That’s the episode.
How did this show last for 7 years?

On the upside, the performance from Picardo as the Doctor is fantastic, he definitely the strongest link in this chain of bad actors and characters.

NEXT TIME: Nebula

Possible Explosions

Story: Time and Again
Written By: David Kemper and Michael Piller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

What a crap episode. The prime directive has suddenly turned into this thing where even at the cost of the deaths of MILLIONS you just can’t interfere…even if your 75 years from even getting close to court martialed. Janeway and Paris end up in some weird time jump thing where they are like a day before some planet explodes. But they can’t help the people, they got to just leave.
All in all it just isn’t that interesting an idea, and the Prime Directive was done to DEATH in TNG anyways. Also Janeway is becoming aggravating as a Captain (or maybe its just Kate Mulgrew’s terrible Katherine Hepburn impression that she continues to speak with).

NEXT TIME: Lungs and Dilithium

Event Horizon

Story: Parallax
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

"Parallax" is okay. Its watchable Trek and addresses the issue of Maquis vs. Federation. The problem is with Technobabble. A good chunk of this episode is Janeway and Torres just spouting off battling technobabble at each other. You listen to them and then go “what the fuck are either of you to talking about?” Then you find out others have looked it up, or people that know what half the words they are saying mean, and strung together the way they’ve strung them together it is absolute gibberish.
So for the bit of character stuff we get, from Torres, Janeway, the Doctor, and Chakotay, I would say that this episode is all right. But the babble really brings it down, almost to unwatchable levels.

NEXT TIME: That Goddamned Prime Directive

The Delta Quadrant

Story: Caretaker
Written By: Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1995

The long and ardous task of reviewing Voyager is here. This is not my favorite show, but I’d like to watch it all and give my opinion of where it went wrong…Enterprise too (though I have actually already seen that one through). So here goes nothin’!
The Maquis were created in Deep Space 9. They were a reaction to the shaky treaty made between the Federation and the Cardassians to end war. Some planets in Federation space were given to Cardassians. Members of the Federation were either forced to vacate their homes or live under Cardassian rule. The Maquis were formed to fight the Cardassians. Fight for their homes and their freedom. Star Trek: Voyager began as a show about two crews, one Maquis and one Federation, trapped on the wrong side of the Galaxy, working and fighting together to get home.

So lets pretend I haven’t seen any Voyager after this pilot. Lets pretend this is all I know. How is Caretaker? It’s okay. It’s a decent pilot. Introduces us to the characters, the ship, the basic plot…it does its job. It isn’t the best episode in the world, but if I were judging on that scale then I’d have to disregard “Encounter at Farpoint” and “Emissary” Both were rather mundane or just okay episodes, but they set up their respective series (two series that I love). I’ll admit I that I think DS9’s opener actually gets better when you’ve seen the whole series…but I kind of doubt this one does, since its characterizations aren’t that exciting.

So “Caretaker” as a pilot is okay. Essentially the plot is about this being in the badlands that sends two ships into the Delta Quadrant. One Maquis, one Starfleet…the show continues with the crews investigating it, and eventually leading to the Maquis ship being destroyed and its crew rescued by Voyager, and Janeway letting this odd being known as the Caretaker die, their only way back home. It’s going to be a REALLY long trip (for the crew and the audience).

NEXT TIME: Technobabble

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Whole Series Recap

What a series. Deep Space Nine didn’t have the viewing figures that TNG had built up over its seven year run, and it didn’t have the stable time-slot that Voyager was given. It had to run congruent with another Trek series during its entire run. It was often neglected by the higher ups of Trekdom, but the writers were some of the best that TNG had brought to the forefront during its run.

I think when TNG was still running with this series, the writing was pretty good, but not great. When TNG ended, the writing staff split up, some went off in new directions, while those who stayed with Trek either went to DS9 or Voyager. DS9 got the people like Ronald D. Moore who are able to create great characterizations. Ira Steven Behr eventually took the mantle of the head writing duties and the show steered its way into fun, exciting and sometimes really dark territories.

I think syndication, while not terrific for the ratings, was great for DS9, because without a network they were able to take chances. Voyager strayed away from taking to many bold moves for fear of cancellation. But DS9 was riding off the successful 7-year run of TNG, and was able to get its own seven years to not only prove that it was one of the most well written shows in the Star Trek franchise, but that it also was able to have some of the most exciting and lovable characters Trek’s ever seen.

People like O’Brien, who were created as a minor character in TNG, went on to have one of the best friendships in the franchise (okay THE best friendship in the franchise) with Dr. Bashir. Worf had 7 years on TNG and got to have 4 successful years as a great character here on DS9. Dorn was given a chance to really make this character he had played for years grow, and I think it shows.

Deep Space Nine was a show I didn’t watch as a kid because I thought it was boring. When I was an adult and I was prodded into watching it because my brother was a fan, I discovered by the end that I had found love for this show beyond my love of TNG or TOS…which I admit is sometimes a nostalgic love…DS9 I grew to love almost every aspect. The stories were better, the long running arcs were better, the characters were well rounded, the jokes were funnier, and the drama was incredible. That’s not even mentioning how this show managed to reference TOS better than TNG had ever done.

Some argue that this series with its long unfolding war arc and characters and plots that break certain Trek rules as supposedly handed down from the mountain top by Roddenberry, and was straying to far from the Roddenberry’s vision. I actually disagree on that point. I think the show is, in some ways, about what happens when a really strong force threatens and pushes those Federation ideals to their limit. Basically it brought the Romulans, Klingons, and Federation closer together than possibly imagined previously. I mean who knew that the three could work together, and work well.

Even Sisko, who cheated and lied to get the Romulans in the war really just made it more possible than ever for the two opposing forces to reconcile their differences in the foreseeable future.

When you think about it, DS9 is a show about war in all its forms. The first scene is the Battle of Wolf 359 from the Borg. Then it begins after a long drawn out occupation and rebellion. Then it shows how a people rebuild their society after war…and immediately goes into the build up of a potential war, showing skirmishes with threats like the Klingons before leading right into the big blow out. So many episodes get on the more personal level, how a character like Kira grew up as a resistance fighter, Odo was sort of a collaborator, O’Brien was the enlisted soldier, we get Bashir as a wartime doctor, Jake and Nog as two sides of the young (the eager soldier and the civilian in a war zone). These elements and many good stories that put our characters through hell and back make DS9 a fantastic show about what it means to be in war and in battle, and it ain’t easy.

Star Trek: Deep Space nine is fantastic, from when Worf first joined and before. It earned its way into my heart and became my favorite of all the Trek series.

NEXT TIME: Lost in Space

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season 7 Recap

Season 7 is slightly weaker than preceding seasons. Luckily the final ten-episode arc is fantastic (barring “Extreme Measures”) and makes up for some of the rocky weaknesses earlier on in the season.

The problem early on of course is Ezri. It is the last season, it has a lot of plot to get through, to wrap up this long arc with the Dominion War…and we are dealing with trying to acquaint the audience to this new character. I like the idea of the Trill, and I think had they killed off Jadzia in an earlier season…like at the end of 5, and spent 6 trying to deal with this…maybe this whole idea of a new Dax could have really worked and been interesting. As it stands though it is rushed, it is weak, and the stories she is given are too often terrible. And it isn’t really what we want to focus on this season.

Having such an important character to most of our main cast die could have been a great thing for this season. Worf lost his wife, Sisko lost a mentor and longtime friend, Bashir/Kira/Quark lost a close friend…and imagine how powerful this season could have been with her empty chair…this real feeling of loss that real soldiers in war are often forced to feel. I think that could have been a good statement in this series, it could have been powerful. Unfortunately the Ezri plot sort of spoils that a bit.

Luckily there are a few winners before we even get to the “Final Chapter”…and that makes this season still seem pretty solid…but once the so-called “Final Chapter” begins, it rules, it wraps up every storyline as best they could…and in the end I feel it was a solid end to a fantastic series.

NEXT TIME: Whole Series Recap

All That You Take With You

Story: What You Leave Behind
Written By: Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Year: 1999

“What You Leave Behind” is the best finale of any Trek. I say this having seen them all but “Endgame”. I really doubt the writers of Voyager could have possibly topped this (and from what I do know they didn’t come close).
It’s almost time for the final battle of the Dominion War. Ezri and Julian have gone all the way. Kassidy is experiencing morning sickness. On Cardassia the civilian movement is beginning to take shape. It is clear from the beginning, that when this is all over, things are going to change. O’Brien has accepted a position at Starfleet Academy as a professor of Engineering, which he will assume as soon as the war is over.

There are plenty of exciting moments. When Civilians attack the Dominion, the Dominion retaliates by obliterating an entire city, killing over 2 million Cardassians. There plan is meant to scare the Cardassians into not fighting, but it really only changes their minds entirely on the Dominion itself.

The episode has one of the most impressive battle scenes ever. The battle has great CGI, and the moment when the Cardassians suddenly take fire on the Dominion and Breen is thrilling. Damar and Co. storm the gates and kill all the Jem’Hadar (most were sent out to kill all Cardassians by this point) in the headquarters, and Damar and others die on the way. Finally they kill the last Weyoun, and only the Female Changeling is left. She initially refuses to end the war, but Odo beams down and links with her, convincing her to end the war and stand trial for her actions. In return, Odo will cure the rest of the link, and return to his people. The ending of the war is exciting and thrilling in all aspects, but it is what happens after that always makes me great about this particular finale.

Odo leaving for the Great Link, Worf agrees to be the Federation Ambassador to Qo’Nos and continue to serve under General Martok, and the Chief is heading home to Earth with his family. There is a wonderful party at Vic’s. He sings “The Way You Look Tonight”, and it is a really heartwarming moment.

But the party couldn’t last forever, throughout this episode Dukat and Winn travel through the Fire Caves, and they unleash the Pah-Wraiths. Winn poisons and kills Dukat, since a sacrifice was needed, but the Pah-Wraiths bring him back to life, and return his Cardassian face. Sisko can feel it all, and now knows his task. He leaves the party and heads to Bajor for his final battle with DS9’s oldest villain. Winn is killed, and Sisko and Dukat fall into the pits of the fire cave…the Pah-Wraiths locked back up with the book (the key to their return) destroyed, Dukat is killed…and Sisko is sent to the Celestial Temple. His terrible sorrow that he must face is that he has to stay there, as a Prophet, and leave Kassidy, Jake, and his unborn child alone. But he will be back.

I’m not a big fan of montages, they often feel cheap when used for sentimental reasons…but for some reason with this show I loved it. We get O’Brien reflecting on his friendship with Julian, Worf reflecting on his time in the station and Ezri, Odo recalling his relationship with Kira…and then Jake remembering his father. It is really wonderful, and the music, a mix of “The Way You Look Tonight” and the DS9 theme, is really heart-wrenching.

My only complaint is one shared with the creators of the show. Initially there was to be a cameo from Terry Farrell, but the plans fell through and she could not make an appearance, this lead to a bit more of a breakdown, and no footage of her was aloud to be used in the final montage. It REALLY hurts that the Producers were forced to use footage of Worf thinking on Ezri, when really reflecting on the station should have easily had his moments with Jadzia. I understand it wasn’t really anyone’s fault, but it just kind of hurts that final montage, that such an important character for 6 years is totally skipped out on because of a minor dispute.

Some people complain that Sisko’s mission from the pilot is not touched on here, making sure that Bajor is ready for entry in the Federation. I don’t find fault in that. The mission in the show changed, and if you ask me, it goes with out saying that Bajor WAS ready to enter. It may have felt neglected, but I think it would have felt forced and shoved in had it been included.

The final shot, of Jake staring out the window of the station, seeing the wormhole open and longing for his dad is really emotional. Deep Space Nine ends with a long slow zoom out as Kira comforts Jake and we see the station one last time, as it slowly becomes to small to see again. It is a really glorious and emotional way to end this wonderful series.

I like that you can create different kinds of finales and make them strong. TNG ended with our characters realizing that their friendships are important, and ends with them staying together and sailing off into the sunset to further adventures. I like those endings…the story continues kind of thing. But I think this episode proves that the “this chapter is over, and many new ones are beginning” can be just as successful.

A wonderful feature length end.

NEXT TIME: DS9 Season 7 Recap

Cry Havoc

Story: The Dogs of War
Written By: Ronald D. Moore & René Echevarria
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Year: 1999

The penultimate episode serves as closure for the Ferengis. Quark receives a staticy message from the Nagus saying that he is coming to the station to name him Nagus. At first he is excited, but he learns of what his mother’s influence has done to the Ferengi Alliance. Taxes, social programs, and environmentalism...it is not a world he wants to rule, and he can’t make any changes because of the new congress. When the Nagus finally does arrive he does name his new successor, Rom. He didn’t even realize he was talking to Quark before. Quark declares his bar would be the last outpost for the old ways, but congratulates his brother, who he knows is the right choice. It is a nice conclusion to the story of these characters.
The Dominion lure Damar, Kira, and Garak to Cardassia, but they go into hiding when they discover it was a trap. They soon learn that the Dominion have taken out all of their bases, and claim to have killed Damar in the process. But word on the street is Damar is still alive, so they decide to use people’s faith, and unite the citizens of Cardassia to rebel against the Dominion.

The Dominion themselves plan on withdrawing their troops in order to build up their forces, hoping that the Federation Alliance will not pursue them immediately, but the Klingons, Federation, and Romulans agree to go forward and bring a major attack on the Dominion.

Julian and Ezri talk about pursuing their relationship, at first they decide not to…but that plan doesn’t last long. Then we learn Kassidy is pregnant.

The penultimate episode is great, it wraps up things for the Ferengi, it takes the Cardassian rebellion story in a new direction, and it gives us the basic battle plan for the next (and final) episode. It is a great episode.

NEXT TIME: And the War Ends

Night Tremors

Story: Extreme Measures
Written By: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Year: 1999

“Extreme Measures” is not only the weak link of this whole final arc, but it is also a terrible episode on its own. It doesn’t fit with the rest of the story in this arc. It is also the only episode that disrupts the rest of the story. Even the production team admits they faltered here.
Essentially they tried to accomplish two things, to bring Section 31 into the arc and bring some closure there, and to focus a story in this arc about the friendship of O’Brien and Bashir. They failed. The Section 31 thing worked on a level, getting a cure for the disease they put into Odo, but what they do is capture Sloan, and use Romulan mind probes to get the information, then it all ends up being a story about Bashir and O’Brien walking through Sloan’s memory to find a cure and talk about their relationship.

We don’t get much else in terms of the rest of the ongoing story, Dukat and Winn aren’t really featured, Kira and Odo have a moment but we lose sight of them quickly…it just stops the action and unfortunately it isn’t even that entertaining to watch…which is really rare in terms of O’Brien and Bashir. They do cure Odo though, so at least that’s done.

Shame, everything else in this arc worked, but I guess having so many writers trying to bring closure to so many things you can expect a little bit of faltering.

NEXT TIME: The Fate of the Ferengi Alliance