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