Star Trek: Voyager - Season 4 Recap

Season Four started off so strong that I really thought this might be THE season of the show. The first six episodes ranged from TNG average to downright good. I was feeling like I had to have been watching the wrong show, as this was uncharacteristic of the series on the whole. But then there is “Scientific Method” with a silly premise, then the “Year of Hell” two-parter which just left me cold with its clean slate ending, and then it just seemed Voyager was back to its old tricks. Mostly mediocre to bad episodes with an occasional gem thrown in.

I think that it is safe to say that early on I got my hopes up. Seven of Nine was introduced, and like many others I liked that character, and I thought maybe she was the shot in the arm this show needed. See I love DS9, and it was doing great right up to its fourth season, but they were forced to add Worf into the mix...and they took this potentially bad thing and turned it into something great. The writers used Worf as an excuse to shake things up, to not become complacent in their storytelling, and as a result Worf added this new Klingon element to DS9 that made the show and main storyline even bigger and better than it was initially planned.

On Voyager they added Seven, and for just a short time it was the shot in the arm the show really needed, but then the writers retreated back to the familiar territory they had already explored in the first three seasons. The episodes yet again became badly written, sloppy, lazy...only now Seven would be involved.

Judging by my rant on “The Gift”, it is clear that I disagreed with the decision to drop Kes from the cast. Hell I think I even disagree with their initial plan to drop Harry. Neelix is the first character to go in my book. I think a major problem with the writers on this show was that they weren’t willing to take a single chance. Everything has to have a happy ending. That goes for casting too. The writers were friends with Mulgrew, Picardo, Phillips, and now Ryan. But they didn’t hang out or talk to Lien, so she was easily expendable. Phillips is their buddy in real life so they wouldn’t drop him even if his character was worn out.

The season ended with a lame episode, in which our hero’s actions are called into question, and its hard to argue with that question, and she still gets to win and beat a guy who was right through in through. It left a bitter taste in my mouth. I saw no sign of regret in Janeway, no remorse at all for this guy. Sure she said “I’m sorry for what happened” but she says it in a way where you get the sense she is just saying it to make him feel better, maybe get him on her side. It left me disliking her character even more. She’s always right, even when she’s wrong. That was her arc for the season, and they explored it on several occasions. Well I’m not on board.

I suspect rough waters ahead with the Voyager crew.

NEXT TIME: Nowhere

Decoding the Message

Story: Hope and Fear
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

Voyager meets a man who seems to good to be true, as he soon helps Voyager decode the message they received from Starfleet they received a while back, and isn’t it just what they would’ve wanted? A ship fast enough to take them home. But it all seems so good to be true and Janeway suspects something may be a amiss. But she and the others start to get their hopes up just in time to discover that all of Janeway’s fears are true. The ship is a fake, the message manufactured, and the alien has not been entirely honest.
It turns out this guy’s entire home planet was assimilated by the Borg after their one last hope for deflecting the Borg, Species 8472, was defeated by the alliance of the Borg and Janeway. You gotta give the guy credit, he’s right. Janeway’s selfishness has caused more pain than her righteous attitude is ever willing to admit. Hell even in this episode she refuses Seven’s request NOT to return to the Alpha Quadrant. She is a selfish tyrant who lives by a her way or the highway lifestyle. Picard demanded his crew follow his orders, but he also listened to them and took alternatives when the time called for it. Janeway is the most stubborn character in Trek, and the annoying part is everyone acts like its her right to be stubborn and tell others how to live.

In the end Janeway tries to convince the alien to “See past his own revenge” which is ironic as her own inability to see past her own selfish need to get home is what killed this guys entire planet. Oh But Voyager saves the day and the alien ends up in Borg space alone to be assimilated. What a cruel fucking fate for this guy. I bet Braga and Menosky felt crossing Janeway was enough justification for this story development.

It is a standalone finale, which is rare, but I’m glad this story didn’t get dragged out into two episodes. I guess the closest it comes to closure for the season is that Seven clearly feels like Voyager is her home by the end of the episode. What a mediocre end to a season with such hope.

NEXT TIME: Voyager Season 4 Recap

Just Seven and the Doctor

Story: One
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

Most of the cast is out for this one, as they go into stasis chambers for the bulk of the episode, instead the episode focuses on only Seven and the Doctor. This is of course FANTASTIC news to anyone who gets tired of the rest of this mediocre cast. So the two strongest characters share the focus, and we see Seven struggling to deal with being mostly alone during the month it takes to travel through a nebula (that has radiation and will burn the crew alive, hence the stasis).
Jeri Ryan does a good job of dealing with Seven’s panic in the situation, and the story is interesting and has a wonderful bit of WTF moments as Seven hallucinates in her panic. She was once many, now she is one. It is even a concept I get. Sometimes they make up fears for an episode and you don’t really buy it, but this time the fear fits in perfectly with the character.

Good episode, after “Demon" I’m glad to have something good to watch.

NEXT TIME: Hope for the Federation

Out of Fuel

Story: Demon
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

I was all set to go with “Demon”. It’s initial premise sounded like fun to me, Voyager is running low on some sort of fuel source on its long journey home, and has to conserve energy unless it finds some. It makes sense to me, Voyager hasn’t had a proper Starfleet pit stop in 4 years! Then Seven finds a planet that has the very source they need, but its a Class Y planet, commonly called a “Demon Class” planet by the folks in Starfleet. But Harry has recently realized he isn’t the inexperienced Ensign he was when the journey began and has taken the initiative to volunteer to find this fuel source on this planet that is one of worst atmospheres possible for a humanoid.
I liked it, it seemed like an episode ripe for storytelling. But then Tom and Harry get down to the planet and before you can say commercial break they are running out of air. The plot has changed! No its about Voyager having to land on the planet’s surface. Then its about Tom and Harry being able to breath the planet’s atmosphere suddenly! Wait! Another Twist they are duplicate Tom and Harrys!

This is what I call the “Voyager ADD Script”. This is a common occurrence in this series, scripts that keep shifting their attention and focus onto other things like they are changing the channel. The writer comes up with good idea for an episode, but when he/she begins to actually write it, they get bored and move on. This is like what happened with the whole Maquis premise from the show itself! The problem with this script is that by the time you get to the Tom and Harry are duplicates plot, you’ve completely lost track of the actual legitimate plot of Voyager needing fuel. Whether the ship got enough fuel or not in the end isn’t even mentioned.

If I could’ve written this episode with more focus, the plot would have involved Harry realizing he isn’t inexperienced anymore and volunteering to take the risk on this difficult planet. The story would’ve been about a guy conquering the elements. Harry would’ve struggled on the planet, almost lost hope that he’d ever find the fuel or even make it back to Voyager, but he would be able to carry on and get it there. Tom could still be there to push Harry on or something. But this would be the A-story, two men on a quest and battling very harsh elements.

That’s another thing...they acted like the Demon class planet was such a rough atmosphere and horrible terrain, but it was just air they couldn’t breath. Big deal, lots of planets have air you can’t breath.

Anyhow my B-story would be on Voyager, showing the crew struggling and attempting to adapt to their lack of energy and the measures that have had to be taken in order to conserve energy. This would be an expanded version of the small B-plot that sort of ran through the actual episode.

I just get sick of this crap. Voyager is always filled with potential and yet its constantly squandering it. The writers feel like they’ve gotta have some twist or hook at every commercial break in order to keep the audience watching, but this is STAR TREK, it has a pretty loyal audience, and you do not need cheap tricks to keep them on board. This could have been a fun, interesting, and character building adventure...but instead it squandered all of its potential by constantly changing its mind as to what kind of story it wanted to be.

NEXT TIME: Radiation on the Ship

Voyager’s War Crimes

Story: Living Witness
Written By: Bryan Fuller and Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

700 years in the future, a museum is running simulations on what they call the Warship Voyager and its evil misdeeds upon their race. The simulations paint the Voyager crew like Mirror Universe counterparts. I have to admit that the only difference between simulated Janeway and real Janeway is that the real Janeway is a homicidal maniac with a smile. That’s my opinion anyway.
Anyhow one of the museum curators discovers a back-up version of the Doctor, who is shocked to see the revisionist history this race of people has created in the 700 years that have passed. At first the curator dismisses the Doctor outright, but he begins to think about it and has to fully investigate the Doctor’s point of view. But this leads to disputes from one side of the former conflict as to the validity of the Doctor’s word, while the other side wishes to hear him out. It leads to an out and out brawl between the two races with the Doctor caught in the middle.

It is interesting to note that while the regular cast does appear, no one is playing their actual part. The closest someone comes to actually playing their regular character is Picardo, but even he is a back-up of the Doctor found seven centuries in the future, not the real thing.

It is actually a decent episode, once again due to the rock that is Robert Picardo. The man really is the strongest aspect of the show, with Seven as a close second. The episode was also a welcome relief to the onslaught of mediocre to bad episodes that took over after such a strong start.

NEXT TIME: Demon Rock

Proximity

Story: Unforgettable
Written By: Greg Elliot and Michael Perricone
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

Voyager brings on a woman who claims to have been on board the ship before, and had a relationship with Chakotay, but her species has some sort of memory fade thing where you forget ever having met them when they leave. It is a far out concept, but the episode is interesting and nice enough. At the very least it didn’t end in a generic and boring action sequence.
The crew actually prove she isn’t lying for some other means, but someone comes to erase her memory and bring her home, because no one is aloud to leave their planet.. Which is fucked up, but whatever, I don’t live there.

Again, the episode is pretty average, but it could’ve been worse, they could’ve proven that she was lying all along for some evil reason and had some generic chase and phaser fight scene that resulted in either her death or her escape. Luckily it actually went with the more quiet and subtle approach. I’ll give them credit where I can.

NEXT TIME: 700 Years Later

Most Powerful Substance

Story: The Omega Directive
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

This episode is dumb. I have a hard time buying that Starfleet created some silly directive that in the case that any ship comes in contact with this certain “molecule” in space (or just near it in any way) that it would force the ship to an all-stop until it gets this molecule and destroys it. This is just goofy. It is even goofier to think that the plan is only to be known by the Captain. But Janeway breaks that protocol, tells the whole crew, and they help her. It seems unlikely she could have done any of it on her own, based on what was done by the crew.
Then you get Seven who sees the molecule known as Omega as a sort of God. You get a bit conflict that goes nowhere, yet another scene in which Seven gets annoyed with Janeway and Janeway gets annoyed with Seven over differences of position, and eventually Seven gives into Janeway because Janeway always gets to win because her name is first in the credits.

I just never bought the premise on any level.

NEXT TIME: Chakotay’s Forgotten Love

Perspectives

Story: Vis à Vis
Written By: Robert J. Dougherty
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

An alien comes on board Voyager and switches places with Tom Paris, who’s been acting rebellious for no reason lately. We eventually find out the alien that switched with Tom wasn’t even in his original body! Twist! It is your standard body swap episode, it manages to drag it out to 45 minutes but it doesn’t really do all that much new with the material.
Sadly I was hoping for a better season than I’ve gotten, everything started off so well, but I just had to give it time for the writers of this series to once again fall back on generic plot devices and lazy scripts.

NEXT TIME: The Omega Effect

Nazi Hirogen

Story: The Killing Game, Part II
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

No better or worse than the first half of this story, this episode sees a continuation of the crew of Voyager attempting to break control of the Hirogen’s game in the holodeck. It really doesn’t do much beyond that. If you liked the first part, you will probably be equally pleased with the second half.
I think they are well executed by Voyager standards, but I’m mostly neutral on them. I think the premise is too big and the damage done to Voyager is too big to ignore. Theres NO WAY they could fix up the ship without a Starbase, but the nearest starbase is 60 years away. Its so lazy of these writers (especially THESE TWO writers) to just ignore the biggest plot point of this whole series on a regular basis. Voyager is without contact with Starfleet, therefore it can’t get repairs, can’t get Earth food supply, and it can’t get new shuttles. But these simple rules implemented by very writers that constantly break them were just too hard to follow.

NEXT TIME: Face to Face

Holodeck Violence

Story: The Killing Game
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

The Hirogen have somehow taken control of Voyager and put its crew through many violent holographic games in which our crew is repeatedly hurt and maimed. Only a few crew members are outside the simulations, mostly Harry Kim and a few others being forced to give more power to the holodecks, and the Doctor being forced to mend his crew to be sent back to the line.
It is a strange concept, but it has enough going for it. I don’t really find the Hirogen all that interesting. They are just your standard one tracked mind villains: they hunt, I get it. Their games are interesting, but I really think this was just an excuse to put our characters in Nazi-occupied France. Hell at least its a better variation on the holodeck plotlines we usually get.

Eventually the Doctor and Harry help to jam the memory hiding device on Seven of Nine who is able to help jam the frequency changing Janeway’s memories, and the two begin to fight the fight against the Hirogen, and the Holoprogram begins to break out of the holodeck...next week.

NEXT TIME: Janeway Tries to Retake the Ship

Mnemonic

Story: Retrospect
Written By: Bryan Fuller & Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

Seven has an altercation with a Merchant, at first it seems she overreacted to his rather irritating nature, but when she undergoes a bit of therapy with the Doctor, he opens up repressed memories that implicate the merchant actually assaulted and violated Seven.  The Doctor is convinced she is telling the truth, and the Merchants reaction to the accusations, as well as his fleeing for safety lead many to believe Seven could be telling the truth....but the investigations soon prove Seven is mistaken and that the man may actually be innocent.
I think the episode was a decent enough mystery thriller episode, but it falls into a more average category. I doubt it would top anyone’s best of list, but I doubt it would ever really make a worst of list either. I’d say it has enough going for it that it may be considered average by TNG standards and not Voyager standards, which is about the best compliment I can give it.

NEXT TIME: Erasing Memories

Who’s Hunting the Hunters

Story: Prey
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

Yet another episode in Voyager’s growing Hirogen arc, this episode is a definite step up from the previous episode. It involves Voyager trying to help a wounded Hirogen, only to find it’s prey is actually Sepcies 8472. This puts two of Voyager’s biggest threats on board the ship with them. The real conflict though comes between Janeway and Seven, as Seven refuses to help Janeway or the crew in any attempts to help send the wounded Species 8472 back to where it came from.
It is a solid argument, Janeway wants to help anything sentient or wounded no matter the personal risk to herself or her crew, while Seven would rather just get rid of the cause of all their pain and save EVERYONE on board the ship. Janeway is always risking everyone for her own selfish reasons, it was nice to see someone not only stand up to her, but not back down or tell Janeway she was right all along in the end. Seven sticks to her guns, and brings up a valid point: Janeway has been encouraging Seven to be an individual, but now punishes her individual thinking after Seven sent the Hirogen and the 8472 onto a Hirogen ship.

I’m personally with Seven all the way here. Janeway comes off like a tyrant all too often. I think in their attempts to make Janeway appear to be a strong female lead, they went so far that she almost becomes a villain. She is too strong willed, too stubborn, too willing to risk hers and everyone around her’s life, and is proven to be so “perfect” in her decision making and getting results in that she becomes an irritating character. I like a character with some flaw, but her flaws are ignored and treated as good traits. Picard had flaws, but he was able to balance out his flaws with actual skills. His flaws were treated as such in the writing, but Janeway’s flaws seem to not be apparent to the writers. She is the Captain therefore she is always right. That line of thinking goes against everything Starfleet should believe in. If the Captain is almost always needing to be questioned in her decision making, then the Chief Medical Officer should promptly relieve him/her of command. That is how it works. Starfleet shouldn’t follow orders blindly, it should be much more advanced than that.

I liked this episode, but I still hate this ship’s Captain. My reasons are not because she is a woman, for I could care less about that. My reasons are purely because I think she is a homicidal maniac, who at times acts like Gollum (“we’s loves the crew, WE’S KILL THE CREW!”). That is really it, I just hate Janeway.

NEXT TIME: Seven vs. The Merchant

Communications

Story: Hunters
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

If this episode had been made on DS9, it would have been a simple character drama about our crew getting letters from home, and dealing with the emotion that goes with that. But this is Voyager, so it has to turn into an action story. The action was just unnecessary. It took the punch out of the drama and distracted from what should’ve been the focal point of the episode...the first contact with home in four years. That focus is lost in the halfway point as generic action plot starts up, in order to further introduce the Hirogen into the fold, which is silly, since they are going to appear in the very next episode...couldn’t action with them waited?
The good of this episode is all in the letters and the drama that comes with. Janeway learns her former fiancé eventually moved on and married someone else, Chakotay and B’Elanna learn about the Maquis meeting their end at the hands of the Cardassians’ alliance with the Dominion, Tuvok learns that he has become a grandfather, while Kim eagerly awaits any form of message and Tom hopes he hears nothing from his father. There was plenty of meat on that bone, and yet they minimized it for yet another action heavy third act.

I thought maybe this show was getting its act together at the beginning of this season, and while I never assumed it would last the whole series, I was really hopeful that it might make it to at least the end of the fourth season.

NEXT TIME: Hirogen

EMH Mark II

Story: Message in a Bottle
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

This is a really fun episode. Seven discovers a way to transmit a message to the Alpha Quadrant through an alien communication array. Their best hope of sending a message through becomes a holographic message, so the Doctor is asked to send himself. He is successfully transmitted, but the Federation prototype ship he makes it too has been stolen by the Romulans. So it becomes the job of our Doctor, and the new ship’s prototype EMH Mark II to take down the Romulans, save the ship, and contact Starfleet.
I really enjoyed the performance of Andy Dick, and the team up with Robert Picardo worked wonderfully. It was a lot of fun to watch. And it gives us the first glimpse of the Hirogen, an alien race we will see more of this season.

It is a fun episode with plenty of laughs and some decent action, as well as the first true ray of hope for Voyager’s trip home.

NEXT TIME: Letters from Home

Sleep of Reason

Story: Waking Moments
Written By: André Bormanis
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1998

Oh good Voyager is settling with doing new versions of old TNG stories. This time is a variation on “Night Terrors”, “Schisms”, and “Phantasms”. So yeah...the crew is experiencing nightmares, this time caused by an alien menace.
This time the menace is a group of aliens that are always sleeping and attack other beings through their dreams. I have to give the episode credit, it executes its idea rather well, which from its well-worn Trek premise I really didn’t expect. It has a few too many fake outs, but it mostly worked. It even had a nice characters scene at the very end, one I didn’t roll my eyes at.

I’d say give this one a shot, it is certainly better than its boring premise might suggest.

NEXT TIME: The Doctor gets sent to the Alpha Quadrant

Shuffled Off

Story: Mortal Coil
Written By: Bryan Fuller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

There is a lot I find wrong with just the premise of this episode. First, its a Neelix focused episode, so that is enough for me to hate it. Second, you can’t tease me with Neelix’s death and then bring him back, that is just cruel. Third, they use Borg technology in order to bring him back to life, which seems like a compromise no one would really make, especially considering how hard they’ve worked to un-Borg Seven. So I have issues with the very premise that gets this episode going.
So Neelix is brought back to life and he quickly feels empty, as his long held beliefs of the afterlife are tarnished when he is brought back from death after 18 hours and found nothing. So after deliberation and plenty of thought, Neelix makes plans to kill himself, as he can’t live with himself with this knowledge of his lie. Again it is cruel to tease us with such hope. Neelix is talked out of it and lives. Still.

I have to give Ethan Phillips credit, he does a good job with the material, despite the fact that I mostly despise his character and the idea that people really like him. But hey...at least theirs an atheist message to it!

NEXT TIME: Alien Nightmares

Peaceful Punishment

Story: Random Thoughts
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

Oh maybe I expected too much of Voyager too soon. Lucky even its average and tired stories like this feel more like when TNG would get average and retread to a well worn plot device. In previous seasons this episode would feel far more incompetent.
Essentially on a planet of peaceful telepaths, Torres is taken into custody for having violent thoughts when they accidentally cause a telepath to go rogue and attack someone. There is of course an investigation by Tuvok to see if she is truly to blame, which of course she isn’t (well not entirely), and there is a ticking clock element with Torres going to have her violent thoughts purged from her memory by some laser lobotomy (which is of course stopped in the nick of time).

The episode feels routine, there is nothing too special about it. I just feel like through both Voyager and TNG, we’ve just seen too many episodes like this before.

NEXT TIME: Mugged

Annorax

Story: Year of Hell, Part II
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

Much like the first installment, this episode is a decent action adventure, but all the events get the energy sucked out of them when you realize that none of it happened, has any effect on our characters, and all takes place in a sort of alternate reality. It has a big old fat reset button, which is anti-climactic when this is the end of a two-parter that was hinted at all the way back in “Before and After”.
I have an idea what could have fixed my issues with the Year of Hell though. Initially the plan was to make the first episode the finale to Season 3, thus beginning Season 4 with this episode. But that idea was quickly scrapped and replaced with Scorpion, which was a good move on all counts. Then the idea was to make this like a 4 episode arc in the middle of Season 4. That also might of worked, but I see a better plan. Once they changed plans for Scorpion and added Seven to the mix (and in my alternate reality you dropped Neelix and kept Kes) then after a full season of integrating Seven into Voyager’s crew....you make “Year of Hell” the finale. So Season 4 then ends with this big cliffhanger, and you bring Season 5 in with the “Year” already in progress. Make it last a few episodes, then wrap it up. Instead of just a big reset button that makes it all magically go away, you make like “Before and After” and you show the crew struggle to recover from the big bad year. From what I understand a theme of season 5 was Janeway struggling with her command decisions anyhow, so why not make that theme based not only on her dealings with the Caretaker or the Borg, but also with the effects of “the Year of Hell”?

Sometimes I just watch episodes and can see alternatives that make more sense to me. A lot of people seem to really like these episodes, and often cite them as reasons they love Voyager, for me the easy clean up ending was just a little too easy, and negated the worth of everything that happened in the episode since absolutely NO ONE had memories of it in the end.

NEXT TIME: B’Elanna Imprisoned for Violent Thoughts

Krenim Imperium

Story: Year of Hell
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

The first part of the long ago hinted at “Year of Hell” is okay, but I feel like it rushes through some of the events. From what I understand Brannon Braga initially wanted this story to last longer, like 4 episodes...but he was denied and given only two slots to tell his story. I can’t believe I’m saying this next sentence but: Braga was right. This is a big bold story to tell, and truncating it to two 45 minute episodes is the wrong call.
Basically we’ve got this group of aliens that once had power, but were eventually overthrown by a nice peaceful race. But the bad guys want their power back, so they change the timeline, eradicating the entire species that overthrew them from the timeline and restoring themselves to power. Voyager is caught in the crossfires and begins what becomes known as the Year of Hell, a time in which the crew of Voyager continuously gets their ass kicked: people get hurt, people die, the ship gets beat to all hell....but good ol’ Janeway is relentless in fighting this much superior race of people in order to get them home. Why wouldn’t they just try to find another way home? I really have no idea why they remain so relentless in trying to cut through this part of space instead of just finding another way around.

Because the writers probably know that none of this is going to last or matter or NOT get reversed...they can do what they want with the crew. They can kill people off, destroy the ship to all hell, blind Tuvok...and none of this is going to last past next week. Lame.

I did enjoy Kurtwood Smith as Annorax, but knowing that everything happening in this episode was bound to be cleaned up by the next episode left me with a cold feeling.

NEXT TIME: Never Happened

Tagged

Story: Scientific Method
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

This is more like Voyager. An episode where some aliens are experimenting on the crew like lab rats, changing their DNA or sticking needles in their heads, the crew discover whats going on after several medical emergencies and people turning old or changing species...and eventually Janeway risks everyones life to save their lives and free them from the alien scientist menace.
Voyager is back! It is a silly concept and ridiculous execution. HOw many times can Janeway risk the lives of this crew, like literally flying the ship in between to stars, and still maintain absolute loyalty from that very crew?

This was a weak episode, one that made me feel like I was actually watching this specific series and not some weird mutant GOOD version of it.

NEXT TIME: Screwing with Time

Resurrection

Story: The Raven
Written By: Bryan Fuller and Harry Doc Kloor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

At this point I am convinced that what the series truly needed was Seven of Nine. I mean all the Trek series had that breakout character that proved to be surprisingly popular with fans...Spock, Data, Quark...and now Seven. Now along with some of the series likable characters (The Doctor, Tuvok, and occasionally Tom and B’elanna), we get this very likable character thrown into the mix, who now creates new kinds of relationships with this crew.
Anyhow this episode features Seven hearing the Borg, and feeling that she is being called back to the Collective. She attacks some crew members, steals a shuttle and heads back to Borg space. She heads to Borg space through this area of space occupied by a group of aliens Voyager was attempting to negotiate with. Voyager wanted to cut through there space, they were making it more difficult. These aliens, by the way, are annoying and have idiotic costumes and are exactly what I expect from this series. But despite having annoying aliens that look dumb and a rather generic action plot...I still found myself able to enjoy this episode for the most part. We also get background on Seven as she discovers not the Borg but a crashed and partially assimilated Federation ship with a homing beacon going off...and its the very ship she was assimilated on.

Maybe I’ve been worn down by the series and anything seems tolerable, or maybe it finally and legitimately found its feet. I know that it doesn’t last to the bitter end of the series since I know how the show ends, but it is nice for the moment to be watching an enjoyable Trek series.

NEXT TIME: Experimenting on the Crew

Delirium

Story: Revulsion
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

I must be watching the wrong show. Yet ANOTHER solid episode for Season Four. If this keeps up its bound to be the best season of the series. I mean these episodes aren’t even just good by Voyager standards, they are genuinely enjoyable, well performed, and well written stories, that I could easily sit through like other Trek outings.
This one involves a hologram pleading for help. Naturally the Doctor’s interest is peaked. Unfortunately when they get there they soon find out that this hologram isn’t the only survivor of a ship due to illness...he is unstable, is repulsed by biological beings, and murdered the whole crew. The performance of the guest star is really great. The performance from Dawson is also pretty solid, and Picardo (as always) delivers yet another solid performance. Any Doctor focused episode is bound to be good.

The B-story involves Harry and Seven working on plans for a new astrometric lab, while Harry deals with his new crush on Seven. It isn’t all that interesting, but its screen time is limited and its execution is decent enough.

I’m really surprised by the consistent level of quality so far this season.

NEXT TIME: Seven Hears the Collective

The Recruit

Story: Nemesis
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

This episode feels more average. Unlike the previous episodes of this season it isn’t as strong in the story or character department, but unlike previous episodes in previous seasons it isn’t that unbearable either. It involves Chakotay on the surface of a planet (for no real reason I could fathom) getting roped into helping the underdog fighters and their viscous enemy that indiscriminately kills. He quickly begins to side with these people and slowly begins to want to help their cause.
Voyager is trying to find Chakotay while negotiating (no idea why they are having these negotiations...oh well) with some ambassadors in this war. But a twist comes when we discover that the underdog Voyager is communicating with is actually the viscous enemy from Chakotay’s perspective.

It is an okay episode that deals with the horrors of war and the tactics people will sink too. I think DS9 dealt with these issues much better and more often, and there are a lot of plot holes and issues that bothered me, but it wasn’t the worst of the Voyager canon. It also once again destroyed a shuttle. How many freaking shuttles could Voyager have? They got destroyed, terribly damaged or lost so often...yet they seem to have an endless supply (despite being lightyears from any Federation outpost or supplier).

Turn your brain off, this one is passable. But not nearly as strong as the last few episodes.

NEXT TIME: Isomorph

Torres’ Bad Day

Story: Day of Honor
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

What in the hell? Three well made and enjoyable to watch episodes of Voyager in a row? Hell if you go back to season 3’s finale this is the 4th good episode in a row. I may have had my issues with The Gift (mostly just the fact that a character I liked left and that it was shoved into a little B-story), but the Seven storyline really was enough to outweigh the bad. On this episode I could’ve sworn someone who never wrote for Voyager before wrote it. But its Jeri Taylor! She helped develop the whole show! So lets go, paragraph by paragraph, what they got right.
Number one, actual legitimate character growth. The first example is Paris and Torres longtime somewhat flirt hinting at something more relationship finally takes the bold step towards an actual relationship. It isn’t terribly hacky either, it feels like Torres bad day was enough to finally let her open up and not push Tom away. I bought it. And because I know that their relationship eventually does lead to something bigger I have to call it LEGITIMATE character growth. This wasn’t just for the episode and left to be forgotten later like much of Voyager’s so called character growth. Secondly we have Seven trying to find her place on Voyager and learning to cope a little better without the Hive mind of the Borg. It’s clearly the b-story, but it works and the character legitimately grows from her experience.

Number two, a well integrated A-story and B-story script. So often in Voyager the B-story is just some little fluff thrown in for filler that has little to nothing to do with the A-story. Or conversely, Voyager has been known to have an all too small yet interesting B-story that gets little screentime in favor of a less interesting generic and hacky A-story. This episode flowed well because the A and B stories connected and naturally flowed from one scene to the next. This is what DS9 or TNG often were able to pull off all the time, why had it been so elusive on Voyager?

Number three, it had an engaging story. The plot involving Torres having a bad day worked. As things continue to get worse for her it goes from being a sort of humorous bad day, to a seriously shitty day as she is stuck floating in space losing air with Tom. But its not just an episode where they kick her for no reason (as much as I love DS9 I can’t say I was ever truly behind the O’Brien Must Suffer episodes), no she has to have just the most unbelievably worst day possible in order to finally break down her walls and tell Tom she loves him. Out of a crappy day, she got something important: a relationship. I bought it: hook, line, and sinker.

Theres more to enjoy too, from realistic and relatable dialogue, to a little bit of exciting action as they are forced to evacuate Engineering and dump the core, to having a well rounded group of aliens looking for help and supplies becoming a sort of pathetic threat (pathetic in that they clearly are just at the end of their rope). The saddest part about this episode is that if Voyager had gotten its act together like this in the 3rd season, I wouldn’t need to explain all the little details they got right in this one.

Man...I couldn’t be happier watching Voyager with episodes like this. And man...I know this ain’t gonna last!

NEXT TIME: Genocidal War

Goodbye Kes

Story: The Gift
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

So near the end of Season 3, a decision was made to do a bit of cast changes. The idea of bringing in a new character, a Borg severed from the link, was definitely an interesting prospect, especially with the plan to have the ship enter Borg space in the Delta Quadrant. So in order to add a new regular cast member, someone had to be lost (they had to make room in the budget somewhere). So who is to go? Well lets start with who obviously wasn’t going to get the axe. Janeway is the lead, not a chance. Losing Chakotay as the first officer would put a big shakeup in the ranks so scratch that.
The Doctor, beyond being just my favorite character on the show, has several legitimate reasons to stay. He still seems to be (next to Kes) the only medical staff on board, hell judging by how frequently you see the blue uniform on this ship he is the whole SCIENCE DIVISION on the ship. Add onto that he JUST got the mobile emitter so the room for character growth (and the only legitimate way to lose him would be through program deletion) is too high to drop him suddenly now.

Tuvok, despite the fact that Vulcans had already been completely explored via Spock, has proven time and time again that he can carry an episode, many of the most captivating. So losing him seems like a mistake. In the same way that losing the Captain, first officer, or medical team…losing the chief engineer and pilot would also be a difficult shuffling of the main cast, so Torres and Paris are pretty safe.

That leaves three…now of the three left, two could believably leave the ship without death (Neelix and Kes, being from the Delta Quadrant), and two have long since outlived their usefulness and/or need to be in the show weekly (Neelix and Kim). So when one of these characters is ticking both boxes, who did the producers decide to can? HARRY KIM.

Wait, what!? Initially the plan was to drop Garrett Wang from the payroll, but when he ended up on the bottom of some random magazines sexy people list, the producers decided they better keep him. WAIT…WHAT!? This may be the weirdest casting decision I’ve ever heard. Who did they think the audience of Trek was? Did they think it possible that somebody might stick around for what little screen time Harry Kim has, when they could change over to the WB any night and see ACTUAL PRETTY PEOPLE? I mean this is STAR TREK! A series where people will put up with Worf’s looks.

So you decide to keep Kim on for his natural good looks, so the natural next choice is KES? Seriously? If looks are part of your criteria then why lose the quite attractive Jennifer Lien, especially when you just started using that smokin’ longer hairstyle. So now I can’t figure out why losing Neelix wasn’t considered. He should have left or died in “Fair Trade” but he didn’t. Now with a new character coming on who could EASILY fill the guide role that Neelix had left open, you wonder why his role wasn’t dropped entirely. If looks are a factor, wouldn’t dropping the stupid looking alien be the best choice, so you then have Wang, Lien, and Jeri Ryan IN A CATSUIT? Oh…I guess Neelix fills in the weird looking alien quotient. You know, the original series only had Spock, this show has Tuvok, Torres, and now the part-Borg Seven of Nine coming in: SCREW THE SILLY ALIEN GUY!

But for whatever reason, the producers picked Kes. She gets dropped and we lose a character that had certainly grown well, had interesting story lines, and integrated herself well into the Voyager crew, more so than Neelix ever did (he STILL seems to only IRRITATE PEOPLE…and me). Good decision morons.

So how is the actual episode? It’s pretty decent. It is really more about Seven of Nine being disconnected from the Collective while her human organs begin to regenerate and reject some of the Borg implants. Its a solid A-story, but sadly a story about a likable main character growing too powerful in her telekinetic powers that she can no longer safely stay aboard Voyager is pushed into a much, much smaller B-story. That stinks, because it could’ve been a good A-story, but its given little screen time, despite the major effect it has on not just a major character but the series itself. But I didn’t hate the episode, I just hated the production decision. And Kes sends Voyager 10 years closer to home and out of Borg space.

By the way this episode not only demonstrates the usefulness Kes could continue to have on the show but it also showcases to the audience what pointless characters Kim and Neelix are! Bad call Production Team.

NEXT TIME: Paris and Torres Near Death

Seven of Nine

Story: Scorpion, Part II
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

The second part of "Scorpion" is a decent conclusion to the Season 3 finale, and a solid start to the fourth season, even if it is slightly weaker than the initial installment. It introduces Seven of Nine, a character that goes on to be one of the more popular and important characters of this particular series.
The story shows the shaky alliance between Borg and Voyager, and the continuing disagreement of strategy between Janeway and Chakotay. I liked that once Janeway was out, Chakotay followed his gut and changed the plan, and didn’t blindly follow orders he clearly disagreed with (and really, who can blame him, the plan was dangerous). We also discover this whole war between Borg and 8472 was prompted by the Borg themselves, and that 8472 isn’t even from our galaxy...they were brought in by the Borg!

The episode is solid, it isn’t nearly as enjoyable and well written as the first part, but it gets the job done, which quite frankly tends to be an oddity with this series.

NEXT TIME: Integrating Seven

Star Trek: Voyager - Season 3 Recap

At least Season Two, which was still not a tremendous step up from the first season, attempted to have a running arc and focus its story towards moving Voyager along. Season Three has no real arc, no significant advances for characters (with the exception of the Doctor who continues his attempts to better himself as a more human physician). There is a small running plot of Torres and Paris slowly developing a relationship. But mostly it is just a mixed bag of average and terrible episodes, with just a few gems thrown in here and there.

I can’t believe this series was able to keep so many Trek fans watching throughout its run. Hell I’ve seen plenty of people online who seem to love it. With what I’ve seen so far, and of what I know of subsequent seasons, I can’t see why. What I loved about Trek, science-fiction wise, was that it was based on real science and real projected science, not just any fantasy to wander into a writers head. And throughout the original series, the films, TNG, and DS9 writers were able to adhere to this idea...slipping occasionally. But with Voyager it has just plain made up science and fantasy that makes little sense in the Trek universe. Science was thrown out for just silly nonsense.

I read that Season Three was the year Voyager came into its own. If this is true then it’s own is horrendous. The Borg element was introduced, and quite frankly that was the best part of this season.

So Season Three...yikes. I can’t say I liked it. I liked “Unity” and “Scorpion” a few other ones, but the characters have not grown and they are more grating than charming and each episode was a crapshoot in the quality department....and mostly it was gonna be crap.

NEXT TIME: A Shaky Alliance

Species 8472

Story: Scorpion
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

"Scorpion" is actually a pretty damn fine finale. I know I’m not a huge fan of this series, I’m watching it almost purely out of OCD...but I’m not so adamant that the show can’t occasionally have strengths. Hell if this whole season had scripts as tight as this one, I wouldn’t find it so difficult to sit through this show so often.
Voyager has finally reached Borg space, but getting there they soon find that their biggest threat isn’t even the Borg, but another race, designated Species 8472 by the Borg, that is destroying the Borg one by one. Everything is working in this episode...from the great special effects to the script, from the acting to the character struggles, and from the action down to even the music (music from TNG on tends to be bland, with few exceptions, but this episode happened to be one of those exceptions)...it’s a damn fine episode that proves that Voyager could be good when the effort was put forth (which makes the fact that the effort wasn’t put forth more often than not so infuriating).

I especially liked that while Janeway has yet another ridiculous and dangerous plan that could kill her whole crew based on the slim chance that it MIGHT guarantee a slightly faster route home, Chakotay calls her out on it. He points out that she often does this and this time he really can’t even back her up. It added believability to this often used premise. I hate that she is always risking everyones life for some little sliver of hope...but I hate even more that she is almost always right and her decisions are rarely questioned by the crew (barring a few “I dunno Cap’n” lines).

So the episode ends in cliffhanger with Janeway offering an alliance with the Borg...Voyager gives them a way to defeat Species 8472, Borg allow them to travel safely through Borg space...and before a decision is made 8472 show up to reek havoc on the Borg.

NEXT TIME: Voyager Season 3 Recap

Novelty

Story: Worst Case Scenario
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

This episode starts off with a decent premise, Torres discovers this holonovel in the ships computer, about a Maquis uprising on Voyager. The holonovel becomes a bit popular among some officers before Paris reaches the conclusion...and he discovers the novel is incomplete. It is soon discovered that the anonymous author was actually Tuvok, who made it not as a novel but as a training exercise for junior officers, and that he had decided not to pursue when the two crews began to work together. Paris then attempts to complete the novel since the crew needs some new forms of entertainment, which sort of irks Tuvok since his work is being finished by someone else. We even get a great conversation in which Paris plays the part of the Voyager writing staff and Tuvok plays us as they discuss what works in a story: Tuvok prefers logical stories, Paris prefers making it up as he goes along with pointless twists.
It was all working. The jokes came out and I was laughing WITH the crew for once and not AT their ineptitude and rolling my eyes at their poor attempts at actual humor. This could’ve been a great comedy episode in which we get everyone trying to input their thoughts on the outcome of the holonovel until Paris and Tuvok just decide to either finish it themselves or drop it completely....but NO! The writers prove again that they are Paris and just throw in a pointless plot twist in which the holonovel becomes a holodeck gone wrong episode. Safety off. Can’t escape. SEEN IT. Janeway figures out a way to help Tuvok and Paris escape...and she even throws out a line that was clearly the fucking writers putting their middle finger up to fans like me: “who says the deus ex machina is dead?” FUCK YOU.

This show can’t do a comedy episode, everything has to turn into some life or death action schlock. It’s a real shame...Deep Space 9 had TONS of action-oriented episodes. But it was rarely schlock, the episodes action always worked. But it wasn’t ALWAYS the same third act. Often that show could have slower dramatic episodes, or lightweight comedy episodes. That cast could do all of it well and believably, and the writers and directors helped make it always interesting to watch. Voyager is the laziest piece of shit possible.

Sure I’ll give them that their stupid twist at least brought Seska back (in holographic form) for a decent ghosts revenge kinda thing, but I’m just so tired of this series never straying to far from formula. I liked the first half or so of this episode a lot, and if the holoprogram gone wrong plot had been in any other episode I might’ve liked it...but it just ruined what was really working for me by taking one tone and then slapping on a lazy as hell different tone that replicates the third act of so many other episodes.

NEXT TIME: Entering Borg Space

Disappearing Crew

Story: Displaced
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

As Voyager episodes go, I’ve seen worse. Basically a race of aliens conquer other races by one by one switching places with members of ships and space stations. They find it more desirable than war. So this happens to Voyager, who also happens to be the first and only crew to successfully escape and defeat these aliens.
The episode isn’t as filled with flaws many of the other Voyager episodes, but it is still kind of average and forgettable in the end. So watch this rather mundane episode, your brain won’t hurt as much trying to figure out all the plot holes...but you probably won’t be thrilled with it either.

NEXT TIME: Rebellion Alpha

Dinosaurs in Space

Story: Distant Origin
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

I wish Brannon Braga was not so goddamned interested in evolution, especially since he knows absolutely NOTHING about the subject. Pick up a damn book Brannon! The plot of this episode involves Voyager finding a race of people who evolved from Earth’s dinosaurs (and evolved into a space faring race that left Earth long before humans evolved). GIVE ME A GODDAMN BREAK.
The whole concept is flawed, and the execution ain’t that much better. Also...if I had a dollar for every time I read that Braga was disappointed with the finished product of one of his scripts I’d be a rich man. Get a clue man...it is not the final product that was the problem, it was YOUR SHITTY SCRIPT! The episode tries to have a message about evolution vs. religion, but it is so ham-fisted and forced that it never really works.

So yeah, skip this garbage. Star Trek used to be based on real science, sadly Braga wants more ridiculous fantasies than that. I like fantasy too, but not in Trek.

NEXT TIME: Replaced by Aliens

The Doctor’s Family

Story: Real Life
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

This is a classic case of Voyager’s good news/bad news. The good news is that the A-story with the Doctor’s family is fairly interesting, but the bad news is that the B-story is a standard and forgettable story about some space anomaly that goes down uninteresting paths.
First the bad: The B-story is so boring, so filled with technobabble that it becomes incomprehensible at times, and so forgettable that you barely remember the previous scene by the time you return to the story. That is the big thing...it is completely jarring with the Doctor story. You got Janeway sending her crew on dangerous missions with space anomalies purely because she is curious. Worst Captain ever.

The Doctor’s family is actually a very interesting plot line, in which the hologram tries to better understand his patients through creating his own holographic family. When his creation is too perfect (makes the Cleavers seem like the Bundys), Torres decides to help him make a more realistic family by creating some random elements into the mix, which makes the Doctor have to truly deal with family and learn from the experience. It was a good idea, it could have benefited from the lack of the run of the mill b-story getting in the way and actually expanding the family more...but oh well...that’s Voyager for ya.

It’s sloppy writing, the way TNG was sloppy in it’s first couple of seasons, just slap to completely unrelated stories together.

NEXT TIME: Voth

Living Backwards

Story: Before and After
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

A nice concept and a focus on one of the better characters in this show make this confusing premise work, but there are still Voyager standard problem to deal with. There are some plot holes, though not as many as usual. There are unrealistic plot points, like Neelix not only becoming a security officer at all...but seemingly the CHIEF Security Officer on the ship...yeah...right...him. There are casting problems like the little kid playing Kes’s grandson, he is just plain awful. Mulgrew is barely in this episode ‘til the end yet she still tries to ham up every brief scene she is in with big deliveries and faces clearly mugging to the camera.
But there is enough to like about this one. It gives a glimpse of where Voyager could end up, it foreshadows “The Year of Hell” which becomes a two-part episode in the following season, and it gives Kes a new haircut which is a less frumpy and more kinda good lookin.

This episode isn’t perfect, but it is certainly better than some of previous Voyager outings.

NEXT TIME: Zimmers

Heritage

Story: Favorite Son
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

I’m no scientist, but this show can’t even fool me with its complete nonsensical genetic psuedo-science. Kim finds out he may be the part of some Delta Quadrant race, and the genetics implanted in his bizarre birth are beckoning him to his homeworld. That makes little to no sense, but everyone buys it...then its discovered that the race, being primarily female, just inject guys with this virus (mind control virus?) to extract genetic material from them and kill them. This plan is ludicrous, and the way it works along with the still completely silly and wrong science make this episode hard to stomach. Then all the solutions are just plain too easy for the crew to be reset to normal yet again. This show has no consequences ever, it makes it all feel so pointless.
Kim is useless, TNG era writers have no idea how to write and portray sex in this time period, and the science is bad and wrong and just upsets me, considering how strong the science and technology had been from TOS thru TNG (DS9 mostly focused on character stories and less on scientific ones). This series just annoys me with its laziness.

NEXT TIME: Kes Time Jumps

Asteroids

Story: Rise
Written By: Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

This episode is dull, silly, and stupid. The plot involves Voyager helping some race of people from Asteroids. Then when their help doesn’t do the trick, Tuvok and Neelix go on some away mission to find some doctor guy. From there it is a slow moving story with plot holes and an uninteresting story filled with plot conveniences and character studies that teach us very little about the characters.
It wasn’t a well made episode, its script lacks structure, and the performances from our regulars and the guests are all sub par. Nobody gave their all on this one...it is a total filler episode, with action that never quite fits and characters acting irrationally and being rewarded for it.

NEXT TIME: Harry’s Roots

Evil EMH

Story: Darkling
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

Essentially a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story about the Doctor. This episode is okay, but it isn’t as good as you’d expect from a Picardo focused episode...the script veers off into other directions too often like Kes and her love interest. Essentially in attempting to improve his bedside manner, The Doctor adds subroutines to his programming that integrates personalities of several historical figures...unfortunately many figures have a dark side, and it creates a second personality for the Doctor...and evil one.
The episode is sort of hit or miss, the Kes stuff being mostly a miss and the Doctor stuff fumbling between hit and miss. Picardo does give yet another great performance, but this time I don’t even think that truly saves the episode.

NEXT TIME: Nezu

Severed from the Link

Story: Unity
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

“Unity” is the first real Borg episode of Voyager, and the first Borg appearance since the film “Star Trek: First Contact” came out (TNG film reviews to follow Voyager reviews). I have to say that this episode totally continues the trend of nothing but good Borg episodes. It has fascinating ideas, raises some interesting questions (that unlike “Coda” I actually admired going unanswered), and has some decent characters and action.
Much like “I, Borg”, it is a smaller Borg episode, with little action and bringing up a lot of questions about what can happen when severed from the Borg for a long time. Essentially Chakotay is scouting this expanse for a faster route through, and answers a distress call. What he finds there are some former Borg who have been severed from the collective link, and as a result have gained back their independence.

I don’t need to go point by point and scene by scene, but the episode is pretty damn good, not just by Voyager standards but by the standards Trek had set during the peak of TNG. I appreciated the thought provoking questions, and liked the ambiguous nature of the former Borg…whether they truly were good or bad or if they could maintain being decent people with such powers…it was a lot of great things to think about.

The Borg have yet to disappoint, I wonder if Voyager’s reputation of overusing them could eventually truly be the undoing of such a great alien race.

NEXT TIME: The Doctor Alters his Personality

Vulcan Disease

Story: Blood Fever
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

So Ensign Vorik, a Vulcan in engineering, is experiencing Pon Farr, and he chooses B’Elanna as a mate. She refuses his offer and he gets a little freaked out. He has infected her with Pon Farr, a rather rare occurrence of the Vulcan blood burning. She begins to show the symptoms on an away mission and things get a little weird.
Mostly the episode is decent, especially considering it is covering territory TOS already covered in full. I think the performances are good, and it gives the first hints of a Paris-Torres relationship, one which will undoubtedly be explored judging by the ending of this episode (and by knowledge of things to come on my part).

The episode also has a nice little teaser of things to come at the tail end, when Chakotay shows Janeway the corpse of a Borg on the planet surface…clearly they are nearing Borg space. It was a decent little teaser, and it would leave you wondering for weeks if they didn’t encounter the Borg the very next week (which they do).

I liked this one, it could’ve been better, but knowing this shows track record it could’ve been a lot worse. I thought the performances of the whole cast were pretty solid. I swear if every episode had very few speaking lines from Janeway and just focused on everyone else we’d be golden.

NEXT TIME: An Abandoned Cube

Fractals

Story: Coda
Written By: Jeri Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

I could possibly rant for a long time about what I hated about just the near death experience Janeway has early in the episode. Their shuttle crash lands and it is total cliché-town as Chakatoy yells “Breathe dammit!” and “don’t you die on my now!” before she is miraculously revived and he says “you gave me quite a scare, don’t do that to me again!” It is such tripe. You wonder if people actually say this when giving CPR, if they would really yell at people instead of focusing on the task at hand. Not to mention the fact that when the writing is this lame and overused…the actor just phones it in. As a result I wasn’t once worried Janeway might die. She’s the lead! Not a chance. Add in that we are only 2 minutes into the program and I am already bored by the complete silliness of the whole proceedings.
Then we get all sorts of hallucinations and constant cheats and obviously false scenarios, Mulgrew overacts a couple death scenes, then overacts many other scenes, and then the episode ends with tons of questions lingering, plot holes galore, and an ending that feels forced and falls flat.

Typical Voyager garbage, though it annoyed me more seeing as this season had started to have decent episodes and almost seemed like it was consistently okay (maybe it was never great but it was definitely not as agonizing to watch as previous seasons had been). Big step back.

NEXT TIME: Vorik

Marayna

Story: Alter Ego
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

An interesting, if not mostly average, episode. Kim has fallen in love with a holodeck character, and he goes to Tuvok to purge his emotions. Tuvok tries to help but becomes interested in the character himself. I liked that this episode made an effort to make Tuvok more interested by the character of Marayna than actually in love.
It is eventually discovered to be some lonely alien controlling the character and the ship itself and endangering the crew purely for companionship, specifically with Tuvok. It has some decent ideas, some good Tuvok stuff, but it never becomes a classic or has anything new to offer.

It did have the completely inane line from Paris in which he states to Harry that everyone has fallen for a hologram….REALLY? EVERYONE? I find it completely sad, creepy, and ridiculous that in the 24th century plenty of folks just get enamored by holo-generated characters.

Watchable, passable, but ultimately unrewarding.

NEXT TIME: Janeway in the Afterlife

Old Scores

Story: Fair Trade
Written By: André Bormani
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

Warning…Neelix episode. Now I’m a guy who hates this character. I’ve found his reasoning for being on the ship silly, his physical attributes unappealing, his usefulness lacking, and his interactions with other characters irritating. It never seems as if most of the other characters like him being around either…
So with all that in mind I found this episode surprisingly decent. I still don’t like the character or care for Ethan Phillips’ portrayal, but the episode had some decent writing, plot points, and action. It focuses on Neelix’s usefulness on Voyager, which is coming to an end. Now I never thought he seemed terribly useful in the first place, considering a lot of his advice was overlooked, his guidance ignored, and his food detested. But with Voyager coming to a big expanse in space, it becomes the point when his services as a “guide” in the Delta quadrant become completely null, as he has never been in or past it.

Before entering the expanse, they stop at a trading station, in which Neelix meets up with a former friend and con man he once worked with, and apparently served some time for misdeeds conducted by both Neelix and himself. Neelix feels as though he owes a debt to this guy and gets embroiled in an increasingly uncomfortable scheme.

The episode is decent, but the ending left me cold. Neelix completely void and useless now, and having committed crimes and having completely lied to Janeway and the Voyager crew…he is prepared to leave the ship, but because he is in the main cast and under contract, Janeway gives him some silly punishment, and a speech about how he is part of a family and doesn’t get to go (by the way, since when does being a member of a family mean that you are not aloud free will if mom says so?), and he gets off mostly scott free. Seriously? What kind of Captain is she? He has to clean some things? ISN’T HE PRACTICALLY HER MAID ALREADY? I think this episode should have been pushed further to the end of the season, and Neelix should have been allowed to leave the ship. By his own will of course. His usefulness is up and he has been nothing but a nuisance in episodes since day one. Then they can get to the big Borg stuff and bring in Seven of Nine, who would sort of fulfill that Neelix role as they are forced to travel through Borg space. Wouldn’t have that made more sense than dropping Kes?

Who are these Neelix fans that the producers thought existed? I can’t see why anyone would like him, unless you like irritating, silly, goofball comic relief characters that just annoy characters and act like jealous pricks when it comes to their girlfriends. In my opinion keeping Neelix and eventually dropping Kes was a bad move all around, especially since Kes was one of the more interesting characters. And the producers only dropped her (someone had to get dropped for budgetary reasons to bring in Jeri Ryan as Seven), because their original plan of dropping Ensign Kim was dropped since some silly magazine popped him on the bottom of a sexiest people list. What a ridiculous reason to save a useless character and drop a decent one. (I’ll rant more about this when Kes actually leaves).

So Neelix stays since Janeway apparently likes having a crew filled with idiots. Otherwise…decent episode.

NEXT TIME: Kim and Tuvok’s Fatal Attraction

Tak Tak

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

It is crazy how good this show can be when it is so consistently inept most of the time. It didn’t start off great, we get Janeway and Neelix ending their visit with the Tak Tak, a really dumb alien race. I get annoyed that this show still tries to use the old TNG trick of having members of the crew on some nonsensical diplomatic mission. On TNG they were in the Alpha Quadrant, they were a major force, it kind of made sense. You want people to be away from the ship while something is happening on the ship, they went off to a conference or to some diplomatic event. On Voyager they do this but more often than not there is no explanation as to WHY they are talking to these aliens. Beyond that the Tak Tak have one of my least favorite Trek make-up…I really hate it when the noses cover up the mouth. This is something I really can’t see evolution allowing. Not to mention the Tak Tak talk with hard to watch ridiculous body movements.
Anyhow we get to Voyager and something is wrong. Its adrift, no one responds, and when they get aboard they can’t find anybody. Then they meet some weird space mosquitoes and they get rid of Neelix (who doesn’t appear for the rest of the episode which is great news, you actually consider he could be dead from that point, too bad following episodes will prove that theory wrong). So now we get some time of Janeway just making her way through the ship all Ripley like. No idiotic dialogue, just some bad assery and action. It actually highlighted how good the sets on Voyager are. It is a good looking ship. Tooo bad it is usually wasted on dumb episodes.

Finally Janeway finds the Doctor, who of course is still perfectly fine. He gives us the explanations, which lead to good scenes featuring my favorite character on this show (if it were me this show would be called “Star Trek: EMH”), and eventually reveal that the ship is under attack by a “macrovirus”. Something that infects people, and eventually the virus escapes the body and becomes like insects that grow large and continue to infect more.

Sure the episode isn’t terrific. It has many flaws, like the Tak Tak, the away mission at the beginning itself, having Neelix in the show at all, or showcasing once again what a moronic concept the biological technology within Voyager really is…and yeah maybe it kind of feels like Brannon Braga had just watched Alien or Aliens while he was down with the flu...but still it had enough good moments to kind of let you move on past its flaws and see more of the good…and that is so rare in this particular series I have to take it when I can.

NEXT TIME: Neelix’s old friend causes trouble

Q Continuum Civil War

Story: The Q and the Grey
Written By: Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

I must stress that “All Good Things…” really wrapped Q as best as you possibly could. All of his subsequent appearances are pretty unnecessary. It’s like reading a book in which the last chapter wraps up all the storylines and characters arcs perfectly…and then reading an epilogue that just says “and then they all died”. It is disappointing. So where should I start with this one? So many goddamned problems.
Q visiting Enterprise kind of made sense. After that first encounter they had a kind of history. When you get to “All Good Things…” it makes even more sense, as if Q was occasionally popping in to check on the progress of Picard, Enterprise, and humanity. Q being Q he would play games with them as well, but all the while he was really watching. Makes sense right? Even though I agree that his appearance on DS9 didn’t really gel with that shows atmosphere or characters, I think that Q stopping by made sense in context. It was part of that first season when the producers sort of thought DS9 could be an easy place for familiar faces to show up, since it was a station full of people coming and going. Luckily the writers and producers dropped that idea and started to carve out its own niche without just playing the “look which friend from TNG stopped by this week” game. I can even forgive Q’s arrival on Voyager in “Death Wish” which, while a terrible episode, worked to a degree with that episode’s premise. But now Q is just gonna drop by Voyager like he used to drop by Enterprise? Why?

Why the hell would he want to impregnate Janeway after having met her once? Really? What is the nature of their relationship at this point that he would think this would work? Their rapport is AWFUL. I don’t care how much fun Mulgrew and DeLancie had making it, it is HARD TO WATCH them together. The rapport between Q and Picard was what always made Q work, even in some of the bad Q episodes. Part of the reason Q on DS9 never really worked was because the rapport between Q and that crew just wasn’t as much fun as watching Q and Picard go at it. But at least DS9 TRIED something a little different. Janeway vs. Q is essentially the same as Picard vs. Q, only she isn’t as good an actor, and they shoehorn in a so-called “sexual tension” which never really works or makes sense. So why would Q want to impregnate Janeway? Because she is a girl captain, and the writers have no clue what to do with women.

The Q Continuum should never be visited. It was best left as a mystery. But because everything we needed to know about Q has already been done, the writers of Voyager felt it necessary to go there (twice now after “Death Wish”). Visiting there just makes it seem stupid and odd and pointless. Especially because the writers have no imagination on this show, and the decide that it will always just be what our “puny human minds” can fathom. Which is like a gas station or the American civil war. All the Q do in this episode go from very intelligent to moron in every other moment. The female Q is ridiculously annoying. I couldn’t stand a single line of hers, the delivery so irritatingly smug that I didn’t even want to continue watching her on screen. It seems as if she is only there for two solutions in the end: to get Voyager to the Continuum, and to mate with DeLancie’s Q for the final solution.

There is a line in this episode that irked me to no end. At one point Q offers Janeway the chance to send Voyager home if she mates with him. Now this is no way to get a lady in the mood, and I respect Janeway’s denial of said proposal. She rightly points out that he has dangled this carrot before….but then she says the dumbest thing said in Voyager to date: “we aren’t looking for quick fixes, we will get home, but with hard work”. WHAT!? It isn’t as if Starfleet blindfolded the crew, shot them off into the Delta Quadrant and said “now find your way home. Work hard. No cheating”. They were sent there by a highly powerful cosmic being, what is the difference if they are sent back by a different highly powerful cosmic being? Beyond that I can’t even buy the idea that the crew sat down and unanimously voted to only get home with hard work since they probably couldn’t unanimously vote on anything. On top of which it seems as if HALF OF WHAT THIS CREW DOES IS LOOK FOR QUICK FIXES HOME! We are only in the third season and we’ve already had half a dozen chances for quick fixes and ways to speed up their trip. Almost all have failed do to it; either by being a faulty plan from the get go, or that whatever alien culture they were bartering with for speedy technology had some minor difference with the constantly intolerant Voyager crew and Janeway put an end to negotiations due to her stubborn unwilling to compromise nature. So yeah…they look for quick fixes all the time.

The whole episode from beginning to end is just bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, and bad. Q should’ve been put to rest following the TNG finale, but the Voyager production team had now clue as how to do anything new. As a result “The Q and the Grey” has replaced “Qpid” as the worst Q episode ever. That is until I see “Q2” I’m sure.

NEXT TIME: Viruses Take on the Crew

The Art of War

Story: Warlord
Written By: Lisa Klink
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

Kes gets possessed by a former dictator who has discovered a way to body swap. While I think Lien gives a great performance as the possessed Kes, I can’t help but feel like Trek has already traveled this road too many times before. Why do I feel like every other episode of Voyager is just a rehash of another Trek storyline? Probably because the franchise had run its course in terms of standalone episodic form, and now just the same writers were rehashing the same few storylines over and over. At the same time that Voyager had already begun to repeat plots from other Treks (not to mention already repeating itself) Deep Space 9 had already started to reach out with all new plots and character storylines that would eventually reach beyond anything Trek had done previously.
I’m increasingly taken aback with the frequency in which mundane tasks are applauded when Harry Kim achieves them. Seriously, he will transport people off a ship and Janeway will say, “I’m impressed!” WHY? He did his job. Then there are things like Kes saying, near the end of the episode, how this experience “affected her clostest relationships”, then immediately decides to remind the audience just who they are (by the way it was Neelix, the Doctor, and Tuvok). It just shows how well we don’t know the characters well into our third season. By this point in TNG we had figured out what Picard was all about. He was an explorer who liked old books and Shakespeare, and archeology. I guess Janeway likes math and science…and she seems into like Jane Austen stuff…but they have kind of lost track of the Janeway/Pride & Prejudice thing. Who is Janeway? Who is Kes? Is Neelix JUST the comic relief? Then why isn’t he ever funny? I feel like we’ve gotten to know Tuvok and the Doctor. With just a little bit of Torres and Chakotay (although from what I understand Chakotay gets totally lost in the mix as the series progresses). The characters are so boring and useless. They could be replaced by anyone.

I could’ve easily seen this episode working with any other character thrown into Kes’ place…the only thing you would have lost is the “Neelix really loves Kes” plot point (but lets face it who doesn’t want to lose that in EVERY episode?)

Again Lien does a good job, but the episode is a lame duck for the most part, just the same ol’ same ol’ being explored YET again in a franchise that is meant to showcase where no man has gone before.

NEXT TIME: A Female Q

Chronowerx

Story: Future’s End, Part II
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1996

So it’s a battle of the witless between Starling and the Voyager crew. I really hate characters with inconsistent motives, and Starling has just that. His whole entire plan is to go to the future to get more technology for his company to release as his own (a plan that is so obvious it pains me how long it took Janeway to figure it out) yet when confronted with the possibility that his actions will kill millions INCLUDING HIMSELF. He claims he doesn’t care. YOUR DUMB PLAN IS BOTH TOO OVERUSED AND CONTIGENT ON YOUR SAFE RETURN. How could he NOT CARE if he lives to see his plan out? That defeats the point of the plan! This guy is an idiot!
I didn’t care for this two parter at all. It had too many rehashed plot devices, plot holes, and pointless plot padding scenes. For example, what the hell was up with the pointless anti-government redneck guys that were easily defeated? Or how about Captain Braxton suddenly showing up at the end to save the day? He doesn’t become the homeless guy now? Starling just dies? Voyager is forced to go RIGHT BACK TO WHERE THEY LEFT OFF? This show always manages to clean things up so they don’t have any lasting effects. Lame. The one positive is the lasting impact of Starling giving the Doctor his mobile emitter, which allows him to finally stretch beyond just the sickbay.

This episode was just as bad as the first if not worse.

NEXT TIME: Kes Possessed by a Rebel