Klingon Zealots

Story: Prophecy
Written By: Michael Sussman & Phyllis Strong
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2001

Voyager encounters an old Klingon Battle Cruiser filled with Religious nutjob Klingons whose ancestors started this long Trek four generations prior. They initially attack but stop once they learn of the Federation-Klingon Alliance (proof being in Torres)...unfortunately they quickly decide Tom and B’Elanna’s baby is their savior, and blow up their own ship to get onto Voyager and follow the baby. Freaky.
Soon Kohlar (the leader of this ship) reveals that he has no clue whether or not this baby is the savior...but it would be nice if Torres just plays along so his people don’t feel really shitty about their religion and feel like this trip was a waste. Harry, meanwhile, if being pursued by a Klingon lady, though Neelix eventually takes her off his hands. Not a lot of meat on that story, but it is there.

It was actually just nice to hang with the Klingons again. It is sort of refreshing to get an interesting group of aliens, instead of the lame generic races that constantly crop up on this particular series.

NEXT TIME: Another Void

Dead Men Walking

Story: Repentance
Written By: Robert Doherty
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2001

Not to subtle allegory on the death penalty. Voyager helps some ship carrying death row inmates, and Voyager’s crew begins to debate this alien’s legal system...from the death penalty to who is actually convicted with the death penalty (rich can pay off victim’s families).
It is pretty tedious. I’m all for allegories on social issues, I just don’t like them to be so obvious. Or maybe I just didn’t think the execution was entertaining or even thought provoking. If you have a thought on the death penalty (I think I have a hard time justifying it) this would not sway you in the slightest, or even get you thinking about the subject.

The aliens turn out to be forced into being violent to be punished or something. I don’t know, it wasn’t keeping my interest long enough to give a shit.

NEXT TIME: Savior

Inner Child

Story: Lineage
Written By: James Kahn
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2001

B’Elanna discovers she’s pregnant, and her and Tom begin to deal with their future parentage. Tom worries about becoming a father...and B’Elanna has to deal with who own childhood trauma issues. She had a rough time growing up part Klingon, and she doesn’t want her daughter to have to deal with that, so she considers removing strands of DNA to make her daughter not appear Klingon at all. Tom disagrees...and there is the drama of the episode.
I actually liked this, it dealt with a situation a lot of young married couples deal with when they are facing that first child. And B’Elanna deals with some of her major demons...the fact that she has held her self back more than her Klingon heritage actually did, although her dad was sort of a deadbeat too.

It is nice to see them not turn a nice simple drama into a big dumb action movie. So often they ruin a good story in favor of schlock. Well done.

NEXT TIME: Carrying Convicts

Temporal Distortions

Story: Shattered
Written By: Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Space anomaly, Chakotay jumps through time. Bored! Time jumps and space anomalies are just worn out. The only thing this episode does is shift through the different eras in Voyager’s history...and that just showcases how little characters have changed over the years.
This episode made me think how Janeway has just demoted and promoted Tom Paris on a whim, and promoted Tuvok without any kind of Starfleet approval...then why are Chakotay and Torres STILL wearing that “provisional” rank insignia? Why not just promote them with no authorization? Janeway’s a bitch.

At any rate, overused plot line and reliving Voyager’s past aren’t really my cup of tea.

NEXT TIME: Torres is Pregnant

The Hirogen Outpost

Story: Flesh and Blood
Written By: Bryan Fuller and Raf Green & Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Voyager answers a Hirogen distress call, and finds a Hirogen Base that is essentially one big holodeck, using the very tech Voyager gave the Hirogens at the end of “The Killing Game, Part II”....and the Hirogen are practically all dead. Voyager then tracks down a Hirogen ship overtaken by Holograms...they are able to beam over and treat some Hirogen...but the Doctor is kidnapped by the ship of holograms. Essentially the holograms want the Doctor’s help to fix their programs and find a new home away from the Hirogens.
I find it someone ridiculous that after all this time and all he has been able to prove and achieve...Janeway is still the biggest fucking racist in the world when it comes to the Docotr and holograms. He has proven to be a person, just as much a person as anyone else (and more interesting than anyone on that ship to boot)...and yet every time there is an issue of human rights for holograms, she is CONSTANTLY on the wrong side. Hell even when the Doctor arrives with the holograms and asks for peace...Janeway has this look of disappointment. Clearly for her, the only good hologram is a dead hologram. I really think she is the most unenlightened person in the 24th century.

Then you get someone like B’Elanna who joined the Maquis in a similar way that the Doctor joins these holograms...and she still refuses help? “That was different” Everyone on this show seems intent on NOT acknowledging the life form status of holograms even after years of living side by side with the Doctor (and hell if Data is a life form by Starfleet standards then holograms count too!) I just don’t get it, why would Voyager side with Hirogens over Holograms.

This is one of those odd feature length episodes of Voyager, one that is feature length for no real reason. I actually kind of liked this one, because its feature length and focuses on the Doctor. I don’t understand why Voyager had these mid season feature length episodes, but at least in the times they did them they focuses on Seven and then the Doctor (the two strongest characters/actors on the show).

I think it dealt with the allegory of minority rights quite well actually. The holograms want freedom and rights, they try to develop Religion (which is always scary to me, an atheist), and they struggle to find who they are, and even taking their fanaticism too far. I always find it surprising when this series shows signs of competence, even if it is unfortunate that the Holograms turn out to be bad guys (just like everyone else this ship meets).

NEXT TIME: Chakotay and the Time Shifts

The Command

Story: Nightingale
Written By: André Bormanis
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Voyager has stopped off on an uninhabited planet for repairs (acknowledgement that this ship has been in a fire fight every week for seven years? woah!) and while looking for Dilithium, Kim makes contact with a ship that was being attacked. He saves them, but not after their entire command crew has been killed. Voyager, on the other hand, has become buddy-buddy with the very race that was attacking. Even though both have indadvertedly involved themselves in a civil war, but I find it odd that Janeway scolds Kim a bit for doing so. Awful Captain.
Anyhow Kim takes this opportunity to have his first real command on this mission to help these folks deliver their medical supplies. He gets a little over-zealous in his command...and starts to wear thin on everyone. I guess they are trying to portray that he isn’t quite ready for command, but by this point that is just sad. Seven years as an Ensign he still can’t lead anyone? It just shows how stagnant this show and it’s characters are.

Then it turns out that it isn’t a medical transport, but a prototype for a cloaking ship. Of course...Voyager is constantly meeting liars and cheats and being fooled into their schemes. Gullible idiots. Also how sad is it that this show can’t have any nice aliens, they all turn out to be some kind of villain, or at the very least have some flaw that makes them seem less than the gallant Voyager crew. It is on the verge of xenophobic, which is the exact opposite of what Trek is about.

A subplot involving the Borg teenager Icheb developing a crush on Torres. Whatever.

NEXT TIME: Holographic Carnage

Doctor Connects to Seven

Story: Body and Soul
Written By: Eric Morris and Phyllis Strong & Mike Sussman
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

For some odd reason Ensign Kim, Seven of Nine, and The Doctor take the Delta Flyer out to study meteors ad comets. I’m sure they are vastly different in the Delta Quadrant and that this is a necessary mission for Voyager. Unfortunately they run into an area of space run by a race of aliens who have major issues with “photonics” i.e. The Doctor. So the Doctor hides inside Seven of Nine's Borg Implants. It is an okay episode, it isn’t going to blow anyone away, but watching Jeri Ryan’s Picardo impression was worth the price of admission.
On Voyager a really mini-subplot about Tuvok going through Pon Farr takes place. Luckily it doesn’t really try to be anything too big...which is good because we got Pon Farr in TOS, don’t need to see it again. It also makes sense that he’d have it, it has been 7 years since he could have theoretically had it last. This story crosses over into the A-story when Tuvok’s hologram of his wife is disrupted by the same Photonic-hating aliens.

I think at the very least it seemed as if both the Doctor and Seven got a little bit of growth in this episode, and things weren’t just reset back to normal with everyone returning to their standard position. I mean it isn’t some huge change, but it was nice to see them share a meal. I think it is a massive shame they didn’t explore a Doctor-Seven relationship beyond the platonic one, they are vastly more interesting than Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres.

Decent episode.

NEXT TIME: Kim Offered a Ship

Barclay Hologram

Story: Inside Man
Written By: Robert Doherty
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Yay! A Barclay episode! Guaranteed to be a little bit better than a standard Voyager episode. Starfleet sends a hologram based on Barclay to Voyager, in order to explain a plan to possibly bring Voyager home faster than expected. Schultz performance as “Reg” the hologram based on Barclay is fantastic, so wonderfully confident...the complete opposite of the real Barclay who is perpetually nervous (who even plays “What About Bob” to Troi who is on vacation).
Unfortunately some Ferengi have corrupted the “Reg” file and are using it to try and figure out a way to capture Seven for a profit. It is a silly plot point that only slightly hurts the story...but luckily you get Schultz, so it isn’t a total loss.

I find it almost odd that Troi comes off way more useful on Voyager (a show where most of the main cast don’t feel useful) then she usually was on TNG! But Barclay showcases exactly what a counselor in the 24th Century is useful for.

Anyhow it is a decent episode, not the best Voyager/Barclay episode, but having him is always a blast for this show.

NEXT TIME: Holo-Phobic

Gar

Story: Critical Care
Written By: James Kahn
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Some guy named Gar made a series of shady trades, and Voyager has been caught up in the mix, because they are constantly susceptible to con artists. In the process he kidnapped the Doctor and traded him to a ship where they treat patients in a sort of class system, treating them in order of importance in society instead of saving the most lives in the right way. The Doctor can’t live that way, and focuses on giving the proper treatment to all patients. Meanwhile Voyager tries to track down the Doctor and Gar.
It has Larry Drake as a guest star, which I find amusing because I enjoy Darkman. It has Picardo’s best efforts and a solid premise, but it feels a little tired. Voyager just feels like a very worn out TNG by this point...well by Season 5.

So average episode with a decent enough premise and a Doctor-focus...if you just enjoy focusing more on Picardo it is a winner, but don’t expect something really special.

NEXT TIME: Ferengis Want Some Seven

Assaulting Maquis

Story: Repression
Written By: Mark Haskell Smith
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Someone is attacking former Maquis members on Voyager and putting them in some kind of weird coma. This is actually an effective way to make a horror movie episode, certainly much better executed than that Neelix ghost story episode from the previous season. I mean I wasn’t worried for main cast, but the scenes of these crew members being attacked were pretty well shot.
I sort of guessed that Tuvok was the one doing before it was revealed, so the shock was’t there for me. He is being affected by someone else (some weird Bajoran guy) in order to exact revenge on members of the Maquis on Voyager. It is somewhat interesting...but a little late.

Then the Maquis have some mind control thing reacted so that they take over Voyager. Why some Bajoran guy would ever put in some mind control thing for this purpose I don’t know. It sort of ruined the whole episode for me.

The Maquis conflict should have happened at least 6 years prior...but here we are in season 7 and they finally remembered to do a story on the Maquis. I think it is a little late in the series history to try this story out.

NEXT TIME: The Doctor is Kidnapped

Race

Story: Drive
Written By: Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Somehow Voyager’s unlimited resources come in handy as Paris and Kim hae built a second Delta Flyer...and in testing it out, they meet a woman in a small ship...and race her. This meeting leads to Paris learning of a much bigger race...and he decides to enter the Delta Flyer II in it. Janeway approves this race...because like the writers she also saw Phantom Menace and wanted to make that kind of money. This race is actually like a boring version of the Pod Race.
Tom screwed up though, he entered this race and forgot all about his big romantic plans with B’Elanna. He kind of hurts her feelings...because he’s being a douche. She does join him in the race instead of Harry. But thats okay, he makes it up to her by marrying her in the end of the episode. Note to guys: you get your girls mad just put a ring on that finger and all is forgiven (perfect way to start a relationship!) So they are hitched now. Woo.

I didn’t enjoy the race sidetracked b-story of the girl sabotaging her own ship, but whatever, who cares anymore? I think this show has totally jaded me. It is not the worst thing I’ve seen, but I just don’t care about the characters or events on this show enough to really get into the episodes, even when they don’t suck hardcore.

NEXT TIME: Teero

Seven’s Life In Danger

Story: Imperfection
Written By: Carleton Eastlake and Robert Doherty
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Apparently...this episode was initially meant to take place a few slots later in the schedule, but for some odd reason it was moved up to second episode of the season. This is one of those weird decisions I really don’t get, for a couple of reasons. First...it caused continuity problems, like it features the Delta Flyer II and Tom Paris is wearing a wedding ring...but his marriage and the intro to that ship don’t happen until the next episode. Secondly, it is a Borg Malfunction episode (about Seven)...and it is now placed immediately after the big two-part Borg episode (which featured a plot of Borgs not functioning properly in the Collective). So it being moved up just seems really wrong to me. That really has no baring on the episode’s quality...just I find these odd decisions in production to be somewhat perplexing and interesting. How does that happen?
Anyhow Seven says goodbye to three of the four Borg children she has cared for, and begins to showcase some errors in her implants. She is pretty much dying. It is...again just dull. I really don;t want to be so bored by these episodes...but this cast and the editing on this show has lost all of it’s luster. It just feels sloppy.

You know Seven isn’t going to die, you know that Voyager will find the cure, you know the risks are all pretty much false. Then you have the slow pace in the editing, the cast not really giving their all, and music that tends to just make action scenes that could be entertaining slower and less interesting. Remember at the beginning of Voyager’s fourth season when the music was really good? What happened?

I think Voyager not only wore out the Borg, but they wore out the “our crew member is dying we have to save them!” storyline. They did okay with the “learning to face death” story, but it took way to long to get into that. Ugh...about 22 more episodes left.

NEXT TIME: Torres and Paris Get Married

Resistance is Happening

Story: Unimatrix Zero, Part II
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

When we last left off, Janeway, B’Elanna, and Tuvok were willingly assimilated (with this neural suppressant in their brains) by the Borg in order to inject a virus which will help several Borg Drones who live as individuals while regenerating live as individuals when not regenerating, and separate themselves from the Hive mind. We pick up where we left off, with the away team assimilated and working to inject the virus...but Tuvok’s neural suppressant loses it’s control, and he becomes a drone himself...giving the Queen access to all of Voyager’s security codes. Meanwhile Seven finds a bit of romance in Unimatrix Zero with her apparant old flame from her former days there.
The Queen...I hadn’t talked about Susanna Thompson in her previous two appearances. She lacks both the creepy and oddly sexy elements of Alice Krige’s performance in “first Contact”. Krige’s performance was so damn strange and sensual, that it was constantly interesting to watch. Thompson is just stiff and boring.

That goes for the episode as well. Much like the initial installment of “Unimatrix Zero,” this episode is just slow and boring, with sloppy action scenes that lack any kind of urgency or interest. As far as I’m concerned...this is the story where the Borg had finally worn out their welcome. There were some weak Borg episodes prior to this, but here they are just old hat, nothing new to offer, but nothing entertaining on even the most basic level anymore. The music sucks half the energy out of the room too.

In the end Voyager wins, Janeway, Tuvok, and B’Elanna return to normal, and the Borg are on the Drones of Unimatrix Zero are on their way to leaving the Collective indefinitely. Happy day.

NEXT TIME: Bad Implant

Star Trek: Voyager - Season 6 Recap

Season 6 is in many ways just a continuation of Season 5. The writing is average or bad...and the results are almost always boring. There are still plenty of stories with the potential for greatness...but all too often lazy writing, plot holes, weak acting, mediocre direction, and slow pacing bog down the episodes...and they end up losing what charm they may have had.

I like to think I’m being fair in my reviews of Voyager, I don’t discount every episode, because each season has a few standout episodes. This season’s standouts include “Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy” which was hilarious, “Pathfinder” which was well written and featured the fantastic Dwight Schultz reprising his role of Barclay from TNG (and got us out of Voyager for an episode), “Life Line” for more Picardo and Barclay, and bits of “Collective” and “Child’s Play.” But mostly this season continued the trend of Season 5, of mediocre and dull episodes.

This season was the first season of any Star Trek series to premiere on it’s own since TNG’s fifth season as DS9 finished it’s seven year run the previous year. I think DS9’s ten hour final arc makes this humdrum going through the motions season of Voyager seem even more mediocre in hindsight. You think of the incredible highs reached by DS9 as it came to an end and compare it with the ultimate average-ness of all things Voyager in it’s penultimate season...and you have to wonder where the disconnect was.

By this point in the series run it was clear the series wasn’t a happy place to work. Beltran is on record as saying this season was not a terribly fun experience, and early on long time Trek writer Ronald D. Moore didn’t last more than three episodes working on this particular series...and the Head Writer and Executive Producer of this show was his former writing partner! Clearly there were plenty of bad unhappy moods backstage, and it is a shame that people treated this like a bad job, and not like a labor of love the way DS9 clearly was treated. TNG had a happy set too, but DS9 was clearly like a pet project for many involved.

Then the season just ends with a big Borg cliffhanging episode that left me with the same underwhelmed feeling I felt throughout the bulk of the season. I find it increasingly odd that this show seems to have a fan-base as big as it seems to.

NEXT TIME: Assimilated

Borg Malfunction

Story: Unimatrix Zero
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Several Borg slip off to a sort of Fantasy World where they can live as individuals while regenerating. The Queen wants to put an end to this, but these Borg contact Seven of Nine, who once spent a lot of time in “Unimatrix Zero”, and she is able to take Janeway in (with Tuvok’s help) and convince her to lead Voyager on a mission to free these Borg from the Collective or something. Janeway, B’Elanna, and Tuvok infiltrate the Borg Cube for this mission in order to exploit this apparent weakness and inject the Borg with a virus, and all three are assimilated...and Voyager leaves them. Cliffhanger!
I actually don’t even care in the slightest. The pacing was all off in this one. I’ll admit to being able to go with most of the Borg episodes Voyager cooked up, even when they felt sort of overused and not nearly as strong as TNG had made the Borg out to be...I still was able to find something to enjoy in those episodes. But this one just left me cold. I was barley interested in what was going on...and everything from just your standard Borg-fight fare...from the Queen to the boring Voyager crew...I swear the Chakotay/Janeway relationship is the most depressing thing. They can disagree on things, but no matter what Chakotay just follows her blindly. It’s tiring!

Having Voyager crew members assimilated also felt a little tired...Trek's first great cliffhanger was just that...and it left such a mark on the franchise that no one forgot it. Only difference here was that it seemed like a plan to be assimilated, and that it was more than just one person being assimilated. And because they are main cast, we know they are coming back.

Personally I didn’t care for this, but I’m sure Voyager fans and Borg enthusiasts would disagree.

NEXT TIME: Voyager Season 6 Recap

Ghost Story

Story: The Haunting of Deck Twelve
Written By: Robert Doherty, Raf Green, and Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Neelix relates a sort of ghost story to the Borg kids as a long winded explanation as to why Voyager is shutting all of it’s main systems off before entering some Nebula. I think I just don’t care anymore. The story wasn’t terribly interesting, you have to listen to Neelix the whole episode, the kids are sort of goofy...and the story isn’t nearly as scary or thrilling as you’d like.
The kids can’t seriously be scared about anyone’s potential deaths in the story...because they know who is still alive on the ship...and the story isn’t scary to the audience, because they know that these writers take no risk in killing off anyone (and we saw them all prior to the story so we know they lived). It is just a lazy boring story that lacks any kind of depth or creep factor to make the story feel worthwhile. The writers don’t even try most of the time.

If the writers don’t care, why should I?

NEXT TIME: Exploiting a Threat to the Collective

The Doctor is Sent Home

Story: Life Line
Written By: Robert Doherty, Raf Green, and Brannon Braga
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Voyager gets a message from home, and the Doctor is informed that Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, his creator, is dying. The Doctor can see a way of treating his creator and asks Janeway to send his data-stream home in order to treat Zimmerman. So in this episode we get double the Picardo, Barclay, and Troi...and a lot less of the rest of the Voyager crew. Solid plan for success.
I like Picardo’s crusty old bastard version of Zimmerman. I also just enjoy seeing Barclay...and how bad is Voyager’s crew if Troi makes me feel nostalgic? You really get to see how far the Doctor has come since the beginning of Voyager, he has really expanded beyond his initial treat and deactivate programming.

I definitely enjoyed this one, and I think this is really what the show should just be. I know that makes little sense, but I just find these kind of stories to be far more effective than most other Voyager episodes.

NEXT TIME: Black Out

Kes Returns

Story: Fury
Written By: Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Kes returns to Voyager and immediately begins to attack the crew and make her way to the Warp Core, to suck up energy to travel back in time (?) to the first season. She apparently wants to stop herself from developing her powers and go back to her home world...only Tuvok seems to see something is amiss on the Season 1 Voyager.
It is a shame this is the return Kes gives to the show. It is a dull episode with a silly plot and makes Kes the main villain of the story. I’m still unhappy they dropped her from the cast in the first place, but to bring her back, as a villain for a made up reason and have her travel back in time in a made up way with a story that ends up not being real (alternate reality stories with no affect on the real timeline SUCK), it is just a shitty way to bring back Kes.

I wouldn’t have done it this way, I would’ve brought Kes back as this advanced higher being, much the way she had left. She’d be this advnced higher being, maybe manifesting herself as corporeal...and trying to reconnect with her people, but not finding the old connections there...and deciding that she really can’t be on the ship or something. I mean I never would’ve had her leave in the first place, I would have shit-canned Neelix...but whatever. Maybe she should’ve have, in her non-corporeal advanced being state...become a recurring character on Voyager...like Q was for TNG, and have her get more powerful each time, and keep helping the ship get closer to home...Kes could’ve been the deciding factor for the series finale! Nope...she comes back once as a sort of psuedo-villain.

I don’t know I just found this episode to be weak, especially since it jaded me even more on the way the writers/producers handled Kes in the end. They dropped her unceremoniously and then brought her back for a one last shitty episode.

NEXT TIME: Zimmerman Meets the Doctor

Kelis

Story: Muse
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

B’Elanna has crashed the Delta Flyer (oh yay another crashed shuttle story) on some pre-industrial civilization and has become the inspiration for a poet on this planet. He writes tales based on the logs on the Delta Flyer’s computer. Then when Torres awakes...she exchanges tales and info for his epic poems in exchange for any material he can muster that can help her fix the Flyer.
It is another boring episode. I have to give credit to Voyager, they went from inane ridiculous stories to just plain boring episodes. Hey they aren’t quite as stupid and irritating as they were, but the stories are generic and the execution is almost always weak...it just feels apparent that no one really cared about the series, and they were just going through the motions each week.

The season at times feels even more humdrum than Season 5 did.

NEXT TIME: The Revenge of Kes

Scam

Story: Live Fast and Prosper
Written By: Robin Burger
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Three con artists are posing as Janeway, Tuvok, and Chakotay are conning people into goods without payment. The same three people previously conned Voyager into taking some bum heating coils in exchange for goods to help their so called “orphans”. Neelix is partly to blame for Janeway and Voyager getting blamed for stealing stuff around the area, as he basically told the cons all about Janeway (although he skipped her homicidal tendencies).
The episode isn’t awful..it isn’t fun...it isn’t exciting...it isn’t anything...except easy to skip over. Voyager just feels tedious in how many dull and average episodes it can spew out in a season. So nothing too special here, this should have been a more fun and entertaining kind of episode, but it is just boring.

NEXT TIME: Torres Inspires Poetry

Janeway’s Special Attention

Story: Good Shepherd
Written By: Dianna Gitto & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Seven uncovers the fact that three crewman on the ship are pretty crappy. Which is weird when you consider this whole crew is pretty shitty...how bad are these THREE? Essentially they are lazy and slow and don’t really give a damn about their duties. And they aren’t Maquis either...they are pure Starfleet. This episode is sort of like Voyager’s version of “Lower Decks” only I don’t really give a shit about these three crewman. It also has similarities to that Voyager episode in which Tuvok tries to train some Maquis dopes. This one has Janeway trying to train some Starfleet dopes. And they are dopes.
I kind of liked the smug asshole though, because he doesn’t give a shit about Voyager or Janeway or any of the shit people on the show care about...much like me. His plans on Voyager were for a year, a requirement for the school he really wanted to get into...but Janeway had to fuck that up didn’t she? I didn’t really care about the other two, one is an over the top hypochondriac, who lacks the charm of Barclay. The girl is a Bajoran with low self esteem. The characters are just uninteresting.

The story is Janeway takes the three on an away mission to teach them how to be awesome...but it lacks any kind of depth or character to really make it entertaining. The three characters are average, even the smug guy isn’t terribly interesting...I just like it when people stick it to Janeway.

NEXT TIME: Trio of Con Artists

Icheb’s Home

Story: Child's Play
Written By: Raf Green
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

You get the sense sometimes that the writers of Voyager would come up with some storyline...like they’d plant the seed for an arc in some episode, and then instead of actually working on the arc...they just ditched it and said “fuck it skip to the end!” That is the case with this episode. A few episodes ago, Voyager picked up some Borg children, and they would serve as surrogate children for Seven. They had one B-story about Seven and the kids in the previous episode, now they are already doing an episode where she has to return one of them to his proper parents. We are supposed to feel for Seven and her feeling of losing this kid...and we are supposed to feel for the kid who doesn’t want to leave Voyager...but we haven’t gotten to know this kid or his relationship to Seven at all. They forgot to do any storylines about that before doing the end of the story. Typical lazy writers on this show...they get story ideas but forget to do the legwork in character and story development to make their payoff episode worthwhile at all.
I would have really dug a season arc about Seven and these kids and then have the inevitable end where she must take them home, and the awkward situation that presents. But they rushed it, got right to the end and I felt less for the characters as a result.

My gripes aside...I did like this episode. It was a solid enough story and Ryan does a good job with the material...it is just a shame that I really didn’t care if the kid went or stayed...I didn’t really know him, so who cares. I also feel lukewarm to the end in which Icheb is a weapon against the Borg. It makes sense, but I was sort of digging the idea that Seven’s issues with the parents were purely based on her own misgivings about losing Icheb, making her reservations to be proven true sort of discounted the story. They do that a lot though. And it wasn’t entirely unsuccessful. I dunno.

NEXT TIME: Inefficient Crewmembers

Jhet'leya

Story: Ashes to Ashes
Written By: Bryan Fuller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

An alien arrives at Voyager claiming to be a former (dead) crew member of the ship. She claims to have been resurrected and transformed into some alien being. Sure. Then we are stuck listening to her and Harry and other members of the crew reminisce about the good ol’ days that never happened. The problem with a story like this is that there was no character. We never saw her before, so having her return and having the characters act like they all liked her so much feels very false. This show never took risks, it rarely let you get to know recurring characters (few exceptions like Vorik), and the never killed off a main or recurring character, so having one return just means nothing. If this was like TNG and it was Yar that returned in some new form (oh wait...) then it might have some emotional resonance, here it is just really phony and hollow.
The much smaller B-story involving Seven and the Borg children and how she deals with them is interesting and kinda funny, but it really is sidelined for this completely un-emotional and completely fake A-plot.

NEXT TIME: Seven’s Maternal Instincts

Return to Fair Haven

Story: Spirit Folk
Written By: Bryan Fuller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

The characters in the Fair Haven holodeck program begin to suspect Tom Paris is a witch or something when he keeps fiddling around with things in that world in fornt of the people without ever turning them off. It is sort of like a witch hunt version of the much superior “Elementary, Dear Data.” You know the one where Moriarty starts to realize he is a hologram of Sherlock Holmes?
I just don’t find the Fair Haven program to be particularly fun or interesting. Why this would be the program of choice for the Voyager crew I have no idea. I totally saw the value in the programs on DS9. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with Vic Fontaine? But hanging out in an Irish Village filled with stereotypes and people who beg for money or fear God and witchcraft? I just don’t see the appeal. Then the hologram shoots the computer and the safety protocols go offline...HOW IS THAT AT ALL FUCKING POSSIBLE?

This brings me to another big Voyager gripe. The characters are able to do anything. Why is Tom Paris an expert on 20th Century History, and Mars history, and being a pilot, and Naval History/Procedures, and programming complex holodeck programs, as well as being a competent medic? He is an expert in anything he is does. And that is how all characters are in this series. Anything they do in any particular episode they are instantly an expert in. In TNG or DS9 characters were often good in a particular field, and would be assigned to jobs accordingly. Characters are assigned to whatever whenever in this show because the writers can’t keep track of who is good at what...or they are just writing meatier roles for the actors they happen to be friends with. I’d go with the latter really.

So yeah, it is a dull episode that is a little too goofy and pointless in the end.

NEXT TIME: Ballard

Children of the Borg

Story: Collective
Written By: Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Voyager encounters a Borg Cube that has been severed from the Collective and is run entirely by five child drones. The drones are able to take a few hostages from the Delta Flyer and attempt to negotiate an exchange: the prisoners for Voyager’s deflector array. The children are erratic and don’t function with the skill of the standard hive mind...so their negotiations don’t go very well.
Clearly being severed from the link has made them more individual then they’d like to admit, especially the leader of the small band of child Borgs. Seven clearly is able to establish a bond with the kids, and eventually helps foil the leaders plans and takes the other 4 back to Voyager (along with an infant Borg...though I wonder if they will ever mention that again, they seemed to have forgotten it’s fate by the end of the episode).

Seven now plays Foster mom to these kids I guess. It isn’t a bad development for her character or for the series really, although we’ll see how it goes. I think the episode was decent enough. As much as I feel the Borg are overused on Voyager...they really are one of the things this show manages to succeed at more often than not. I don’t think all the Borg episodes are good, but at least you have a memorable villain that doesn’t need to be reestablished in each episode...and if you turn your brain off they look cool!

So I give this episode a sort of half thumbs up. It wasn’t tremendous, but I know it could’ve been much worse.

NEXT TIME: Supernatural Holoprogram

Smackdown

Story: Tsunkatse
Written By: Robert J. Doherty
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

During a time of shore leave, Voyager decides to enjoy Pro-Wrestling. I can only imagine this premise came from UPN...deciding to make some stupid fucking crossover between Smackdown and Star Trek: Voyager...two of their more popular shows at the time. Having the Rock in the episode only validates this theory. The issue here is that the two shows couldn’t be more different...obviously. This is not a crossover that should have happened (granted in my opinion most crossovers shouldn’t happen). Essentially Tuvok and Seven are captured and thrown into the fighting ring. I feel like I’ve seen this story in fantasy shows too often.
The episode does feature guest stars in J.G. Hertzler, better known as Martok and Jeffrey Combs, better known as Weyoun/Brunt on DS9 (he later had a recurring role as Shran on Enterprise too). I like both of these actors (and their prior contributions to Trek), but I don’t think they could’ve saved this episode’s bad story and premise at all.

NEXT TIME: Icheb, Mezoti, Azan, and Rebi

Horrific Flashbacks

Story: Memorial
Written By: Robin Burger
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

The crew begins to have memories of atrocities they themselves once committed, but their memories seem unsupported by any physical evidence. At first only an away team have the memories...but then the whole crew begin to have the vivid dreams of the actions they may have once taken.
Once they get tot he planet, they discover that they took no part in the actions and atrocities they thought they had...they are being affected by a synaptic transmitter on a memorial that doesn’t just memorialize a tragic event...it makes people relive the event. It is actually a clever idea, and I’m glad they touched on the issues at hand and didn’t turn off the memorial in the end. Adding a warning buoy to let people understand what they are getting into was enough closure for me.

I had low expectations about this one and it’s premise, but I’ll admit to being pleasantly surprised with the end result.

NEXT TIME: The Rock

Aliens Without Music

Story: Virtuoso
Written By: Raf Green & Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

A race of aliens who believe themselves to be superior to Voyager and it’s crew in every way, are shocked when they hear the Doctor singing...as they’ve never heard music before. The Doctor becomes a sensation on the planet, a huge pop hit! So much so that he even decides to resign his commission and stay on the planet, until the very person who convinces him to stay creates a superior hologram who can hit more notes than the Doctor himself.
For a Doctor heavy episode, this one isn’t as strong as I would’ve liked or hoped. It is a little too much of a Voyager execution all around. I liked what little they actually did with the Doctor and Seven, but like I say...it is very little.

Decent if only because Picardo is always giving his all, but mostly it is just average.

NEXT TIME: Atrocities

The Weird Planet Displaced in Time

Story: Blink of an Eye
Written By: Scott Miller and Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

Voyager encounters a planet with an odd shape and moves through time much faster than usual. A second on Voyager is a whole day on the planet. You see the planet go from early savage beginning to a technologically advanced civilization throughout the course of the episode.
The whole episode has a decent premise and everything, but the execution is dull. I mean I want to like it, but the writers and actors don’t give me much to like. Why didn’t they just quit Voyager? Nobody was enjoying the damn show...not as many fans dug it, the writers room was so miserable that Moore couldn’t stay longer than three episodes, and actors Robert Beltran and Garrett Wang have made it clear that the atmosphere on set was far from pleasant and happy. They only kept this show going because it was Trek and they feared a letter writing campaign...sure it had steady ratings, but why didn’t Berman and Braga just pass the torch off to someone else, who can either make this show enjoyable or start their own spin-off.

None of that has much to do with the episode, I just find the show to be so tedious most of the time. Even when they have a cool premise like this...they make it less interesting somehow. I just chuck it up to the bulk of the production team not really caring. There is even an interesting story involving the Doctor on the planet for many year, but that is all just brushed over. They just did the show because it was a job.

NEXT TIME: The Doctor a Celebrity

Safe Harbor

Story: Fair Haven
Written By: Robin Burger
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 2000

What the hell? Tom makes some Irish village holoprogram for the crew to unwind, and within second of being on the holodeck...Janeway develops a thing for the local bartender. Gross. So this is not only a one-off love story, but also a creepy “trying to date a hologram” story. It might be one thing if a dating a hologram stroyline involved the Doctor, who knows full well he is a hologram and has grown well beyond his original programming...but just some hunky hologram...what is she paying for sex at Quarks? This is our valiant and brave Captain.
She even goes so far as to reprogram the character to make him much more interesting for her to bang and date. Creepy. I don’t know I found this whole premise weird and wrong. She eventually realizes making him the perfect man for her is wrong as hell and not real love at all.

This is all happening during a storyline about some neutrino storm that doesn’t really matter and causes a few issues to the ship but has little to do with the A-storyline, and is just there to pad things out. It isn’t as if the love story has Janeway so distracted she can’t deal with the storm, its just to add some kind of minor threat because the writers of Voyager think you can’t have a story without some sort of threat. They are wrong and lack the talent to tell those stories.

The only thing that the B-story does is fuck up the program so only 10% can be retrieved. Yeah sure. This gives Janeway the ability to be forced to not use the program instead of realizing how weird she is.

NEXT TIME: Wink

Barclay’s Obsession

Story: Pathfinder
Written By: David Zabel and Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

I love Barclay. I really do. He was such a great addition to TNG, a recurring character who didn’t always live up to the Utopian standards Roddenberry created. He brought levity to the Enterprise, and showed that despite all the progress man had made...they were still only human. His neurosis, phobias, and holo-addiction made him this flawed but endearing character that I hoped for, and when he came through for the Enterprise I cheered all the more. This episode brings back Reg with a vengeance, as he has left the Enterprise-E and settled on Earth, working on the “Pathfinder Project”, a endeavor to communicate with Voyager.
Barclay has become obsessed with the crew of Voyager, creating holo-recreations of them and making them like a surrogate family to fill the void the Enterprise crew once filled. He sees that lone crew out there as something as lonely as he is.

Dwight Schultz is a tremendous actor, and any appearance as Barclay is welcome, especially if he is going to take over an episode of Voyager and put the main cast into the background. He is such a good actor that I actually almost teared up a little when he showcased his loneliness...and surprisingly when he gave hope to the Voyager crew that they may have a better chance of reaching and communicating with home. I don’t even like most of the Voyager crew! That didn’t stop me from wanting to cheer Reg on for succeeding.

Great episode, especially for fans of TNG (and who would like Voyager and not TNG?) You not only get Barclay but Troi as well (Barclay even made her useful on TNG and here!)...and several references to other Enterprise crew members and past episodes of TNG. Great episode, I was definitely happy to get a big break from the Voyager crew and revisit an old friend.

Sidenote: Of the few scenes to take place on Voyager, we did get Seven taking a shit on Neelix about his singing. Good character berates bad character? This episode has got everything.

NEXT TIME: Janeway Falls for a Hologram

Purposely Sent to the Delta Quadrant

Story: The Voyager Conspiracy
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

I totally buy the idea of Voyager purposefully being sent to the Delta Quadrant. Early on, like 1st and 2nd season I had this feeling that this was such an awful crew with such a shitty Captain...that Starfleet and the Maquis actually held a meeting and said “look you gotta shitty crew, we gotta shitty crew...what if we ask this Caretaker to just TAKE CARE OF ‘EM!” For me, it isn’t hard to buy that others conspired against Voyager. They could smell a War with the Dominion on the horizon...lets get rid of these folks that might gum up the works...or lose the war for us.
Seven downloads some kind of weird learning program that makes her learn in her sleep...she begins to put things together, like bugs in their systems (literally bugs however thats possible) and complete conspiracies about how Voyager got into the Delta Quadrant in the first place. This is all going on as Voyager works with some alien guy about some kind of space catapult that will send him home, and possibly cut Voyager’s journey a little bit shorter. Seven’s little dream machine calculates that this guy’s catapult is actually the same thing that sent them into the Delta. Why this is a problem I don’t know...shouldn’t it be good that his stuff sent them TO the Delta Quadrant? Couldn’t it work the other way around? Whatever this crew is fucking stupid.

Seven’s thoughts of a conspiracy are all nutty and circumstantial in the end (ultimately proven false), because you are supposed to believe that there is no way Voyager could be sent there on purpose, I just feel like they totally would and should have been sent there on purpose. Also I have a hard time believing that Janeway would be involved in this conspiracy, I would think she’s the main reason for the conspiracy.

This one just took elements of a theory I already had and executed them all wrong, and I personally couldn’t really get behind the episode.

NEXT TIME: Pathfinder Project

Ares IV

Story: One Small Step
Written By: Mike Wollaeger & Jessica Scott and Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Voyager discovers an anomaly that once popped up near Mars and sucked up the command module of the Ares IV, from one of the first manned missions to Mars. Quite coincidentally, NASA is currently working on a Mars program called Ares (Mars is the Roman God of War, Ares is the Greek God of War). Anyhow Voyager decides to take a risky mission into the anomaly in order to try and retrieve the module. For history’s sake I understand their interest...but you gotta wonder where the hell they’d keep it...what will they lug it back to Earth in a tractor beam?
Chakotay then does his best Janeway impression by risking his crew’s life in the Delta Flyer for selfish stubborn reasons such as something like an artifact...HUMAN LIFE IS IRRELEVANT WHEN IT COMES TO OLD JUNK! Voyager has the worst people at the top of the hierarchy possible!

Anyhow after being trapped in the anomaly because Chakotay was being a dick, Seven ventures onto the Ares Command Module and plays some logs of the guy who was trapped inside it and we get a taste of a guy at the end of his life. Sadly he is a vastly better actor than half of the main cast! (barring Ryan and Picardo) I’m just glad he wasn’t like alive in the anomaly or something stupid like that.

It is a mixed episode, some of it is good, some of it is irritating...but I think it had enough of that exploration spirit Trek is meant to carry that I’ll give ti a bit of a pass, even if I didn’t particularly care for the episode on the whole.

NEXT TIME: No Accident

Suspended Animation

Story: Dragon's Teeth
Written By: Michael Taylor and Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Voyager finds a group of aliens in stasis and it is soon learned that they were once a strong race, but were decimated by war and now their numbers are small and the face the threat of annihilation if they aren’t relocated to a secret planet. Voyager decides to help them find a new planet to settle on, in exchange for information of several sub-space corridors that could cut their journey down by 10,000 light years.
But things aren’t what they seem, it seems that the aggressors of the wars of the past were in fact the very race of aliens that they are helping. Surprise! This plot is what we call “generic script fill-in.” This isn’t the worst example of what is essentially a standard Trek script at this point, but I know I personally would rather watch a version of this kind of story which featured a cast more like TNG.

Definitely not a terrible episode, not the most exciting in the world, but it could pass the time on a rainy day.

NEXT TIME: A Giant Leap

Tuvok Loses His Memory

Story: Riddles
Written By: Robert Doherty
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

I was not terribly thrilled with the bulk of Season 5, but I was rarely bored into a nap like this. Terribly slow with a dull badly paced story. An accident with some kind of shadow monster causes Tuvok to lose his memories, skills, and logic. Then Neelix helps him through this difficult time with boring scenes and boring dialogue and bored performances.
It is not a particularly interesting episode, and it really lacks anything of substance or character growth to make it worth your while. Just forget this one. I already have!

NEXT TIME: Turei

Abaddon's Repository of Lost Treasures

Story: Alice
Written By: Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

After coming across a big space dump, Voyager barters for some parts and supplies. TOm gets real excited and buys a shitty little busted up shuttle. He’s real psyched about it, probably because his last pet project (the Delta Flyer) has already worn out its welcome. So yet again he is working real hard on a new shuttle, repairing with supplies from God knows where, and making it his new baby. But the ship is more than just a ship, it is sentient and manipulates Tom into being a real bastard who neglects his friends, B’Elanna, his duties, and even his hygiene in order to give full attention to “Alice.”
The idea is too goofy for me to get behind. It’s like on TNG when that little girl’s imaginary friend came to life and started making the girl act really bad...I just don’t dig episodes like this. The acting from McNeill isn’t awful, but the person playing the human version of Alice is GODAWFUL. She doesn’t blink enough, and she is melodramatic.

Just a silly bad episode. It is Voyager alright.

NEXT TIME: The Secret is in the Frosting

Doctor’s Daydreams

Story: Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

This episode is actually a lot of fun. You know when I of all people say that it has to be really fun. It is standard practice on Voyager in even generally good episodes to have an element of awful about them...but the awful was pretty damned limited here. I’d go so far as to say this was in the Top 10 of the series, being one of the few Voyager episodes I might enjoy watching again.
The Doctor has installed a daydream algorithm in his program, the results are often dreams of him being some kind of hero. Meanwhile the ship is being spied on by a group of aliens who look like Sontarans and Vogons had a baby (at least they look different from standard Voyager aliens). The main alien spying on the ship uses the Doctor’s holographic matrix to learn about the ship, its crew compliment, and the ship’s safety protocols and weaknesses. But he isn’t actually watching the Doctor’s activities...he is watching the Doctor’s daydreams...and in doing so triggers a malfunction in the algorithm that makes the Doctor daydream constantly.

It is all very entertaining, from the odd little hierarchy on the alien ship, to the Doctor’s hilarious fantasies. Yet again this show is saved by the talented Picardo, who does a great job in all of his daydreams. Very entertaining, so good to escape how awful this season began.

NEXT TIME: Paris Manipulated

Klingon Afterlife

Story: Barge of the Dead
Written By: Bryan Fuller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

It is sort of fitting that the final episode ever worked on in Trek (oh maybe someday that could change...wouldn’t that be lovely) that Ronald D. Moore worked on is a Klingon mythology focused episode. B’Elanna returns from a shaky shuttle mission and begins experiencing some hallucinations. It is discovered there is a piece of Klingon metal trapped on her shuttle’s nacelle, and then she sees blood..and everyone goes Klingon crazy...before she is suddenly she is told she is dead, and taken onto the Barge of the Dead to take her to Klingon Hell. And then her mother arrives, just before she wakes up on Voyager. She can’t shake that feeling that it was all real, and wants to return to the Barge to save her mother before she is sent to that Klingon Hell.
It is actually a solid episode, thanks in no small part to the grand daddy of the Klingon culture Moore, and a teleplay by Bryan Fuller, who created and wrote for several series I really enjoy (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, and the first season of Dead Like Me). I think Dawson does a decent enough job to make this high concept Klingon after life episode work. It isn’t terribly exciting, but I think it gets the job done where Moore couldn’t fit it in to DS9.

NEXT TIME: Secret Life of the Doctor

Three Ex-Borg

Story: Survival Instinct
Written By: Ronald D. Moore
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Ronald D. Moore writes his first and only lone script for Voyager in this Borg-related script in which Seven is confronted by three ex-Borg who have left the Collective, but are still connected together as a trio. Several years prior the four had crashed on a planet while still full Borg, and felt their connection from the Hive mind slip, only Seven was reintegrated back into the Collective. She decides to help them separate from each other by using her memories in order to figure out how the link works and how it can be broken.
Despite Voyager having that air of suckiness about it, Moore knows how to write a script, and having bad-ass Borgy-flashbacks with a solid premise makes this a decent episode. Everything not about Seven is rather mundane or bad, but luckily the bulk of the episode revolves around the Borg storyline.

It is a shame Moore wasn’t able to work with Voyager better, but the Writing room (and the show in general) had a completely unhappy atmosphere, and Moore had just come of the incredible high of quality and happy atmosphere of the DS9 experience, so going over to the constant suckiness of quality and unhappy production team o f Voyager was seriously jarring...and then having his former writing partner and new boss undermine him and leave him out of meetings didn’t help matters. I don’t blame him for quitting, and he went onto create the remake of “Battlestar Galactica”...so leaving Trek worked out for the better for him. I do think Enterprise could’ve benefited greatly from having such a strong writer and TOS fan as Moore, but I’m glad he left and grew.

So this episode is solid, because of Moore and the acting strength of Ryan, but it isn’t lacking in some Voyager crud, but I won’t let that ruin it for me.

NEXT TIME: Moore’s Last Voyager Episode

Captain Ransom

Story: Equinox, Part II
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Janeway wants her revenge on Ransom, who stole a part, kidnapped Seven, and left her to the wolves that he provoked into attack in the first place. She doesn’t see what she is doing as revenge, even as she defines vendetta and then says “you wanna call that a vendetta? go ahead”. THATS THE VERY DEFINITION OF A VENDETTA. Meanwhile on the Equinox, Voyager’s Doctor has switched places with their own Doctor, and his ethical protocols are turned off and he begins to operate on Seven for codes to their stolen part.
It would be one thing if this bitchy revenge plot for Janeway was something new or different, but it is just the same ol’ character trait I have hated in her for so long. The writers constantly confuse “strong female” with “homicidal maniac.” They draw this parallel between her and Ransom, as if her pursuit of Ransom makes her into the same asshole he was, but fuck that...she acts this way and this stubborn all the fucking time. She is always, and I mean ALWAYS in the wrong, and these lazy fucking writers always let her be the winner cause she is the goddamned Captain. They chuck her awful lead of this ship to “the captain is always right.” Chakotay is always disagreeing with her, and he is usually right, yet she always wins, even when she goes with his plan she takes all the credit. I think she is the worst Captain in Starfleet in the history of the Federation. She is always a tyrant, and this episode was no new material, and thats what is irritating...that they try to write this as if she is acting “out of character.” She isn’t. This is too common a occurrence, because the writers are lazy as shit.

Anyhow, they try to paint Ransom as if he really is having a hard time with the decisions he has made, and as if his first officer is really the cold hearted one. But it is all rather inconsistent and uninteresting. I am just fed up with this show by this point. I wish Moore could’ve come in and really turned this staff around, but they were just as stubborn Janeway...and they weren’t going to work hard or make their show an enjoyable experience at any rate.

NEXT TIME: Moore’s First Voyager Episode

Star Trek: Voyager - Season 5 Recap

Star Trek: Voyager’s fifth season doesn’t have as many abysmal badly written episodes as the first three seasons, but it doesn’t really have any episodes as strongly written as some of the early episodes in Season 4. Mostly things are just run of the mill...average...humdrum...dull. I wasn’t blown away by practically any episode, but I admit I wasn’t as irritated with the shitty writing as I had been. I was mostly just bored. I think the blame rests at the hands of the new head writer for the season...Brannon Braga. The guy is one of the weakest writers in the history of Trek, his best installments to the franchise had a far better writer (Ronald D. Moore) helping, and I suspect doing the bulk of the realistic grounding of the scripts.

The season lacked any real cohesion or arc. The characters are all stagnant, nobody really grows. At least in spite of how much Season 4 fell apart for me, Seven had a clear arc from beginning to end. No one has that this time, and with the stories being just rewrites of TNG scripts (and sometimes just rewrites of Voyager scripts) its hard to recommend the season as a whole.

I think the episodes that stood out were probably “Bride of Chaotica!” for its fun factor, even if it took a little long to get going, “Someone to Watch Over Me” which actually managed to be a solid romance story headed by the cast’s two strongest characters/actors, and “Dark Frontier” which in spite of it’s obvious plot flaws turned out quite nicely as a feature length epic. Beyond that I can barely remember most of the other episodes in the season. They just ran together, both within the season and with what has come before.

It would be nice to think that Voyager would be given new life when TNG/DS9 writer Ronald D. Moore (one of my favorite Trek writers) joined the staff at the start of Season 6, but the writers room and the whole atmosphere of Voyager was so awful that he didn’t last more than 3 episodes. Voyager remains stagnant and poorly written until it’s end I fear.

Season 5 is just a season, but it wasn’t a particularly interesting one even by Voyager standards.

NEXT TIME: Ronald D. Moore Joins Voyager! ...Briefly

Another Federation Ship

Story: Equinox
Written By: Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Voyager discovers another Federation ship sent to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker...only they’ve had a much rougher trip home. Captain Ransom (who has a badass name and a sinister jaded heart) has lead his crew to do anything to get home, including breaking Starfleet rules and regulations and even murdering innocent beings (on the verge of genocide). At least he has no false sense of superiority like Janeway.
Voyager seems pleased at first, but learns all too quickly that something is amiss with the Equinox crew. It is a solid episode with a decent enough premise, but it has a premise that would be executed much, much better in Ronald D. Moore’s (who worked on the conclusion of this episode at the start of season 6) Battlestar Galactica.

The episode leaves us with a cliffhanger...with the Equinox crew escaping Voyager (with the help of their own evil EMH), stealing a vital part of Voyager’s systems, and leaving Voyager to fight off the aliens the Equinox crew started the fight with (unwarranted fight) in the first place.

Certainly not the best cliffhanger in Trek (Best of Both Worlds will probably never be topped), but it was a solid end to a mediocre humdrum run of the mill season.

NEXT TIME: Voyager Season 5 Recap

EMH WMD

Story: Warhead
Written By: Michael Taylor & Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Kim leads his first away mission with the Doctor at hand, and what the discover is not a person sending a distress call, but a piece of machinery. The Doctor is the only able to communicate with the machine, which soon turns out to be a WMD, and when they attempt to shut down the bomb and put the personality in a hologram...the bomb stops their efforts and takes over the Doctor’s matrix while holding the ship hostage by holding the only ability to set off his bomb.
Picardo is great, and he really holds the episode together. Wang actually puts forth a little more effort than usual. The episode certainly isn’t among the worst of the season, it is possibly among the best...I know that with this show and that season that doesn’t amount to much, but it is certainly a stronger episode.

NEXT TIME: The USS Equinox

29th Century Time Travelers

Story: Relativity
Written By: Bryan Fuller & Nick Sagan & Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Freaking time travel episodes. Look I love a good time travel story, my favorite movie series is Back to the Future, I really love “City on the Edge of Forever” and “The Voyage Home,” I’m a fan of “All Good Things...” and “First Contact”, but Voyager has overdone the time traveling stories...all of which tend to have a quick fix all ending. Berman and Braga would further irritate me in their time traveling ridiculous plots (and much like this episode featuring time travelers from the future...which is downright silly and wrong for Starfleet) in Enterprise with their so-called “Temporal Cold War”.
Seven is being recruited by Starfleet time travelers from the 28th century to fix some mistake in the timeline. This is a fucking stupid idea. Starfleet in the future plays Quantum Leap? It goes against what Starfleet stands for, not just in the sense that they have major issues with time travel and it effects, but also because Starfleet and the Federation are all about moving forward, not backward. So fuck this whole episode and it’s premise.

It’s execution despite its bad basic idea...is average at best. I didn’t really see the point of the episode, and I didn’t really find it all that interesting or exciting to see Voyager blow up or revisit the glory days of the first couple of seasons.

NEXT TIME: The Doctor is a Bomb

Shannon O’Donnell

Story: 11:59
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Essentially the story of Janeway’s ancestor and her involvement in a big thing called “Millennium Gate”. As it turns out, Janeway’s family history has been beefed up a bit...her ancestor wasn’t nearly as important as they made her out to be.
It is okay, which is odd for an episode that primarily focuses on Janway and Mulgrew, but it still doesn’t interest or captivate me too much. It is too mundane, I’d like to enjoy it, but I just don’t care enough about these characters.

Some may find it more captivating than I did.

NEXT TIME: More Time Travel

My Fair Borg

Story: Someone to Watch Over Me
Written By: Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Seven has been observing Torres and Paris in their courtship, and when that begins to irritate Torres, The Doctor begins to give Seven lessons in dating. Only to find he is developing feelings for the Borg himself. There is that sad element though...the Doctor's feelings aren't reciprocated.
Seven and the Doctor are clearly the strongest characters in the series, so having episodes focusing purely on them is going to yield better results than the standard Voyager fare. I think both actors give good performances, and the story is only helped by having no generic action plot for the third act, with genuine laughs and an element of heart (which this show so often neglects). I give the writer credit, the episode has a strong script...and with the actors help it turned out pretty well.

Neelix is essentially the focus of the B-story, which could be awful, but it is really about the guest on Voyager he is trying to show around, and the guest is played by Scott Thompson of Kids in the Hall...who is great in the part.

NEXT TIME: Janeway’s Ancestor

Exploding Malon Ship

Story: Juggernaut
Written By: Bryan Fuller & Nick Sagan and Kenneth Biller
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

I don’t find the Malon to be particularly interesting. Almost all of Voyager’s creations are dull and uninteresting and lack anything special...the make-up is usually average (what happened to Westmore? During TNG he made Cardassians, Ferengi, Bajorans, Trill...by this point he was clearly out of new ideas. Then the writers make it worse by not making you want to see any of these guys again. The Kazon were just Klingon ripoffs, and the Malon are just waste dumping garbage men. You wanted the Klingons to show up, you were excited when it was the Romulans, it was a joy to revisit Cardassians, and DS9 made the Ferengi hilarious. But the Voyager contributions to the alien canon? Lame
So here we have an issue with a Malon ship close to exploding, with only Voyager there to help. Torres isn’t making it easy though, because for some reason her bad attitude from Season 1 has resurfaced. Didn’t she get better? Didn’t her attitude once again resurface and retread after she dealt with her feelings towards the Maquis deaths? Why all of a sudden is she back to being an irritable jerk again? Lazy writing that’s why!

This show had the laziest sacks of shits on the writing staff. All the intelligent Trek writers went to DS9 before and after the end of TNG, and all the crappy Trek writers went over to Voyager in order work very little and collect a paycheck without challenging the audience or even themselves. DS9 tried not to get complacent, and it continued to challenge the audience, TNG got a little complacent...but it was still fairly well written, even if a little shaky near the end. Voyager is just weak, it needed quick fix endings and nothing to new or complex to play with the Trek format at all. What's most irksome is that the CG in Voyager is pretty goddamned great, yet the writing is never as strong as the visual effects.

This isn’t the most irritating episode, but its big plot inconsistencies and lame aliens make it hard to care about.

NEXT TIME: Seven and Romance

Kurros

Story: Think Tank
Written By: Michael Taylor
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

Voyager encounters Jason Alexander as a creepy trader who works in trading goods and other things for information from their Think Tank. It almost seems as if a deal can be reached, until Janeway sees one item on the list she can’t part with: Seven of Nine. She leaves the decision up to Seven, but when she decides not to leave Voyager, the Think Tank becomes a little irked, and decides to wait out Voyager’s destruction before taking Seven. But they don’t count on the Voyager crew discovering that both Voyager and the ship they are fighting with are both being manipulated by Kurros and the Think Tank.
It is another dull episode that doesn’t really thrill me. Jason Alexander is quite good as a character 180 degrees from his most famous role as George Costanza on “Seinfeld” (I know he is a big fan of Trek so I’m sure he was thrilled to be a part of it), but he can’t quite save this dull episode.

NEXT TIME: More Radiation from Malon

Chaotic Space

Story: The Fight
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

The writers really love Boothby. I don’t really get it. Trek has produced far better grumpy old men characters than him...who knows, maybe they all enjoyed being around Ray Walston. Anyhow he makes a weird appearance in Chakotay’s dreams as Voyager is forced to travel through “chaotic space” where laws of physics are in flux. Chakotay dreams he is reliving some boxing match thing (with Boothby just playing Mick from the “Rocky” movies). I practically forgot Chakotay was on this ship! He is rarely the focus of an episode anymore.
While Voyager struggles through this odd area of space, Chakotay battles some dream world in which he is sort of communicate with the aliens that live in this "Chaotic Space"...I dunno, sort of a humdrum run of the mill episode. I Probably didn’t try to hard to focus on it, as it didn’t really hold my interest, so I’m not gonna say the definitive word is that this is crap...but I certainly don’t think this is all that great either.

NEXT TIME: Hazari

False Crew

Story: Course: Oblivion
Written By: Bryan Fuller & Nick Sagan
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1999

The episode starts with a wedding between Paris and Torres. Then several other things happen that are completely irrelevant to the series as a whole. See the ship and the characters aren’t the ship and characters we usually watch...but in fact the duplicates created in "Demon". So when people die, make big life decisions, or do anything at all...it has little effect on our main characters.
This duplicate crew is only just now discovering who they are, as their ship is falling apart and crew-members are dying. I don’t even understand in the SLIGHTEST how they duplicated the ship. It makes no sense based on what these crappy writers created in “Demon”, which was a script that lacked focus and a coherent plot.

Duplicate Janeway is still a pretty homicidal nut, who even after discovering shes not the real Janeway continues to try and take the ship to Earth and not back to the Demon class planet where they have a shot or survival. Chakotay claims he doesn’t think she would risk her crew just ot get home. He doesn’t know Janeway, she will kill any and everyone on that ship as long as she and her ship get home.

This episode was at least more focused than “Demon” was, but it’s lack of any lasting effect on our characters just left me wondering what the whole point was. Why bring back these Duplicates just to kill them off? Just not my thing.

NEXT TIME: Physics in Flux