Star Trek Voyager (VOY) Season 1
Stardate 48315.6: The Starfleet ship USS Voyager under the command of Captain Kathryn Janeway sets out to search for a Maquis ship missing in the Badlands. She enlists the help of Tom Paris, a former Starfleet officer who was expelled for causing an accident and who was briefly a member of the Maquis. The Maquis ship, commanded by another former Starfleet officer named Chakotay, was infiltrated by Tuvok, Voyager's tactical officer. However, inside the Badlands Voyager encounters a displacement wave and is dragged into the Delta Quadrant, just as previously the Maquis ship. Janeway's first officer, the helm officer, the chief medical officer, the nurse and the chief engineer are killed in the process. The surviving crew are held prisoners aboard a huge space station. After their release Ensign Harry Kim is still missing, as is B'Elanna Torres from the Maquis ship. They find themselves in the underground city of the Ocampa, suffering from a disease for which the Ocampa have no cure. Following the energy pulses that the station, called the Caretaker's Array, is sending out out, Janeway sets a course for the Ocampa planet. Voyager picks up a man named Neelix, who agrees to help the crew get back their missing people. But as an away team beams to the barren surface with water for the Kazon-Ogla living there, Neelix only cares to get Kes released, an Ocampa who has found her way to the surface and who he has fallen in love with. Kes persuades Neelix to further support the Starfleet crew. They find breaches in the security barrier that protects the Ocampa city from the outside world and beam down. The Caretaker, however, stops supplying the Ocampa and begins to seal the access to the city. The only way back to the surface for the away team, together with Kim and Torres, is through the ancient tunnels. Back at the Caretaker Array, Tuvok and Janeway find out that the Caretaker is dying. His race of extragalactic explorers once caused an ecological disaster on the Ocampa homeworld, and two of them have stayed behind, supplying the Ocampa with energy. The other Caretaker has abandoned her duty. Now that the remaining Caretaker is dying, his only worry is that the Kazon might take control of the Array and its technology, and overwhelm the Ocampa. This is why he activates the Array's self-destruct. Outside the Array a battle with the Kazon ensues, and Chakotay has to sacrifice his ship to disable a huge Kazon vessel. The Kazon vessel collides with the Array, disabling its self-destruct system. Janeway decides against a quick return and destroys the Array. The crews of the Federation ship and the destroyed Maquis ship join in their endeavor to find a way home, which would take 75 years at maximum warp. Neelix and Kes too join the crew of Voyager.
Voyager's "Caretaker" is comparable to DS9's pilot episode "Emissary" in many ways. Both pilot episodes tell big stories on a familiar backdrop from the respective preceding series (the Borg and the Cardassian conflict were established in TNG, the Maquis was first shown in DS9). Both stories deal with superior non-corporeal entities that tend to a "primitive" civilization but don't really understand what their fosterlings need. Both episodes put Starfleet crews in an unusual situation that will become a permanent setting of the show.
What I like better about "Caretaker" is that it tells an exciting and well-rounded story, unlike the undecided plot development in "Emissary". On the other hand, "Caretaker" seems to take still a bit more pleasure in exposition. The plethora of facts and factoids about the ship and crew are sometimes more and sometimes less casually embedded in the story. Some of it is rather inefficient in hindsight, considering that a couple of people that were introduced would die a few minutes later. While Stadi may still count as some sort of a red herring because she looks like she could become Deanna II and Tom's love interest [insert joke about Betazoid helmswomen here], the two people with the most contempt for Tom Paris, namely Cavit and the nameless doctor, would die just as well. And just like already in "Emissary", some of the character relationships worked out in the pilot either don't work, or they would play no role in the following. In particular, I don't like the interaction between Tom and Chakotay. Tom only tells Janeway something like "He is such a mean man, he never gave me a chance". And just as to prove Tom right, Chakotay, who has learned only a second ago that Tuvok betrayed him, doesn't know anything better to do than spout insults at Tom, who was not involved with Tuvok's undercover mission at all. We never really learn why the two don't like one another, and since the writers don't manage to make sense of it either, they will forget about the animosity quickly.
On the other hand, "Caretaker" establishes many individual characteristics and interesting relationships that will persist, such as notably Janeway-Paris, Paris-Kim or Tuvok-Neelix, unlike it was the case in TNG and even DS9. The EMH, to name one more example, is simply deactivated by Janeway when he complains about the "conference" taking place in his sickbay. It is very satisfactory to see how his struggle for acceptance will continue throughout the following seasons, with growing success.
Since this pilot episode and especially its final minutes are rather action-heavy, the debate about how to proceed with the Caretaker Array gets a raw deal. Does it violate the Prime Directive to help the Ocampa? Or is it Janeway's duty to help them because, as she says herself, Voyager is already involved in the conflict? Is Janeway so anxious to do the right thing and not to appear as self-serving that she neglects the goal to return to the Alpha Quadrant? Whether or not it was the right decision to fulfill the Caretaker's last will and destroy the array, Janeway simply doesn't have the time to really consider the options. The Caretaker obviously underestimated the capabilities of the Ocampa. Perhaps they wouldn't be helpless after all? Perhaps the Kazon wouldn't even find out how to use the Array against the Ocampa? On the other hand, the Kazon reinforcements are already on the way.
- I don't understand why Janeway invites the reluctant Maquis that accompanies Chakotay to the away team and even gives him a compression rifle. Relations are anything but good at this time.
- There is one thing that is still bugging me most: While it is already problematic that the outside world knows anything about the Ocampa, who escape and are usually captured by the Kazon-Ogla, how could Neelix ever fall in love with Kes? At most he could have briefly seen her in the Kazon-Ogla camp while doing business there, but that wouldn't be a mutual thing and wouldn't create the familiarity that is obviously between the two.
- Water is a valuable commodity in this part of the Delta Quadrant. This may be plausible if the Kazon-Ogla were bound to the barren Ocampa planet and if they had primitive technology only. But they possess warp-capable starships, and at least one of them dwarfs Voyager. No one can tell me they wouldn't find a better planet to settle on, or at least other supplies of water, or ways to synthesize it from hydrogen and oxygen.
- When Janeway gives Tom a field commission, she reinstates him as a Starfleet officer, although he was discharged, joined the Maquis, was captured and sentenced to prison. She also gives him a promotion to full lieutenant. On the other hand, the Maquis, including Chakotay, are only granted provisional ranks. This isn't consequential.
- Remarkable dialogue: "Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation starship Voyager." - "A very impressive title. I have no idea what it means, but it sounds very impressive." (Janeway and Neelix)
- Remarkable speech: "We're alone in an uncharted part of the galaxy. We have already made some friends here, and some enemies. We have no idea of the dangers we're going to face, but one thing is clear. Both crews are going to have to work together if we're to survive. That's why Commander Chakotay and I have agreed that this should be one crew. A Starfleet crew. And as the only Starfleet vessel assigned to the Delta Quadrant, we'll continue to follow our directive to seek out new worlds and explore space. But our primary goal is clear. Even at maximum speeds, it would take 75 years to reach the Federation, but I'm not willing to settle for that. There's another entity like the Caretaker out there somewhere who has the ability to get us there a lot faster. We'll be looking for her, and we'll be looking for wormholes, spatial rifts, or new technologies to help us. Somewhere along this journey, we'll find a way back. Mister Paris, set a course for home." (Janeway)
- Remarkable sets:
- Remarkable prop: the compression rifles with the fork-like muzzles
- Remarkable facts:
- Remarkable main title: I just love the Voyager title theme, and the spectacular imagery of the opening credits.
- Remarkable opening sequence: The opener with the scrolling letters and the small Maquis fighter chased by the big Cardassian ship is a bit like the beginning of "Star Wars, Episode IV". The full text: "Unhappy with a new treaty, Federation Colonists along the Cardassian border have banded together. Calling themselves 'The Maquis', they continue to fight the Cardassians. Some consider them heroes, but to the governments of the Federation and Cardassia, they are outlaws."
- Remarkable appearances:
- Jeff McCarthy, who plays the nameless chief medical officer, previously portrayed Roga Danar in "The Hunted".
- Robert Duncan McNeill previously played Cadet Nick Locarno in TNG: "The First Duty". Considering that Paris and Locarno look identical and have virtually the same history, I wonder why they still had to be different individuals.
- Remarkable background fact: Geneviève Bujold was cast to play Captain Nicole Janeway, but she quit after one and a half days of filming.
- Photon torpedoes used: 2, with tricobalt warheads
- Crew losses: unspecified, at least 5
- Current crew count: 141
- Missed opportunity to get home: #1, and Janeway wouldn't even have violated the Prime Directive
Stardate 48439.7: In engineering, B'Elanna Torres gets into an argument with Lieutenant Caery and breaks his nose. Still, Chakotay expects Janeway to consider Torres for the position of the ship's chief engineer. Voyager encounters a quantum singularity and picks up a message from another vessel that is apparently stuck within the event horizon of the anomaly. It is noticed too late that the call actually originates from Voyager itself at a time when the ship is already trapped in the singularity. B'Elanna turns out very helpful in finding a way out. In spite of her unrestrained manners she is promoted to chief engineer ahead of Carey.
Rather than DS9, Star Trek Voyager carries on with TNG's tradition of showing the weird effects of spatial phenomena. The mere idea that Voyager could encounter a reflection of itself makes this story somewhat entertaining, although nearly all of the depicted effects allegedly associated with a quantum singularity are scientific nonsense. A real quantum singularity or black hole would never behave like in this episode. The event horizon is defined as the radius of a black hole inside which any energy or mass is inevitably trapped, but essentially only the word and not the concept is used in this episode. The real effect of a black hole would be that for an external observer time stands still on a starship near the event horizon, while it becomes invisible as soon as it is inside. There would be nothing like a "temporal reflection". Besides, it is highly questionable that the SIF could balance out the extreme gravity or spatial distortion near the event horizon, not to mention inside. The hallucination effect that the ship seems to leave the event horizon although it is still inside is just too odd and does not warrant further consideration. At least it is acceptable that Voyager can escape from the anomaly by means of Treknology (dekyon particles in this case). Overall, I would have expected a bit more plausibility in both the story and the science.
The other big topic of the episode and the perhaps more interesting one is the ongoing struggle between the former Maquis and the established Starfleet crew, which consists in more than just occasional disagreements at this time of the series. The competition between Carey and B'Elanna is just the tip of the iceberg. Several of the Maquis want more than just acceptance. Seska and another Maquis go as far as proposing to Chakotay to take over the ship. This creates a dilemma for Chakotay, whose self-imposed mission is to speak in favor of his people while remaining loyal to Captain Janeway. We can notice several times in this episode that the two not only respect but also like one another.
Still, Chakotay overstresses the emerging friendship when he asks B'Elanna what she can do to help the other ship in the anomaly and orders her to carry on, effectively passing over not only Carey but also Janeway. Janeway responds by calling the higher-ranking Carey and putting him in charge of the mission, although B'Elanna came up with the idea and would be more qualified. This disagreement entails a powerful scene in which Janeway and Chakotay discuss the situation of B'Elanna in particular and of the Maquis crew members in general. The two virtually cover the whole range of problems on the ship and with each other with the fewest possible words. They don't come to a definite solution. However, in case Janeway thought she could decide at will or strictly complying with Starfleet protocols, she now has to deal with diverging interests. Chakotay, on the other hand, has already learned his lesson at this point and is not susceptible to the Maquis plots against the captain any longer.
With the exception of this one scene (that is even a bit anticlimactic in hindsight), I have to say that the episode is devoid of real highlights. My impression is that problem with the anomnaly as well as the one with B'Elanna are solved a bit too quickly and too easily.
The "Incredibly Shrinking Doctor" (as a side effect of the anomaly) is only a side note in this episode, but I like how the embarrassment about the situation adds to the Doctor's personality.
- I wonder why it is deemed useful to drain energy from the holodecks. There is no reason why they should have an independent power source and, moreover, an incompatible one.
- "Warp particles" are mentioned for the first and last time, a particularly bad example of gratuitous technobabble. Well, the name could make sense in that it could be the particles equivalent to the warp field energy, they only should have been mentioned on other occasions for the sake of consistency. And it is just too implausible how the deflector can be modified to handle them in a matter of seconds.
- The other ship inside the anomaly is in visual range, close enough for Janeway to ask Neelix whether he recognizes the configuration. Why isn't it possible to zoom in a bit further or to get any other further readings? The crew was so close to finding out that the other ship was Voyager itself!
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Regarding sickbay, we still need a chief medical officer." - "What about that electronic man down in sickbay?" - "It is an emergency medical hologram and its abilities are limited. It can only operate within the confines of sickbay." - "Not to mention its lousy bedside manner." (Janeway, Neelix, Tuvok, Paris)
- "You're right, Captain. I do consider these my people because nobody else on this ship will look out for them like I will. And I'm telling you, you're going to have to give them more authority if you want their loyalty." - "Theirs or yours, Commander?" (Chakotay and Janeway)
- Remarkable quote: "So it begins. The trivia of medicine is my domain now. Every runny nose, stubbed toe, pimple on a cheek becomes my responsibility." (the Doctor)
- Remarkable facts:
- The Doctor is programmed with 2000 references and the profiles of 47 medical officers.
- Apparently the transporter chief was killed too, raising the death toll to at least 6.
Stardate not given: Voyager arrives at a planet on which a massive polaric explosion has recently devastated the surface and extinguished all life. While examining the phenomenon, Janeway and Paris step into a subspace rift and find themselves at a time when the planet is still intact and Voyager is still far away. They suspect that sabotage on a polaric power plant by oppenents of this technology was the cause of the global disaster, but Janeway orders Paris not to interfere because of the Prime Directive. Janeway, however, changes her strategy when she becomes aware that they have already interfered; their presence made the protesters change their plans. She now tries to prevent the sabotage. When she witnesses how a subspace rift opens, created by the Voyager crew in the future in an attempt to rescue her, she recognizes that this is the true cause of the disaster. Janeway uses her phaser to seal the rift, upon which the timeline is reset. The cycle is broken, the catastrophe never happened, and no one has any memory of it - except for Kes who is relieved when Voyager passes by the now inconspicuous planet.
Perhaps it was not a good timing to come up with another time travel story governed by predestination just after "Parallax". Anyway, the writer did a better job with "Time and Again" and didn't just grab a few phenomena from a physics book and put them together to a plot. "Time and Again" comes with an intense and intelligent story, one that requires and deserves thinking while viewing it. It is a story in which Janeway and Paris are alone with the Prime Directive, with temporal paradoxes and with their own intuition and improvisation. I like how they put up with their new situation and try to come up with more or less plausible explanations regarding their look and their lack of knowledge about the civilization.
One point of criticism is that the unnamed civilization is just too human. Iit is quite a coincidence that the people on the planet conveniently look like humans, so Janeway and Paris don't strike anyone as aliens. Moreover, the clocks on the planet display Arabic numerals, which is a unique oddity in Star Trek so far. Well, in a way the fact that the civilization is very human has a symbolic meaning too, because it helps emphasize the parallel of polaric power and nuclear power. The leader of the protesters even mentions that they have found more support since the accident at Markov, which was the analogy to Chernobyl at the time the episode was made.
So the script combines the commentary on a real-world issue with an exciting science fiction story. It also nicely contrasts Paris and Janeway's investigation of the disaster with the "simultaneous" efforts of the Voyager crew to rescue the two missing officers, with the ironical outcome that the latter caused the first.
Well, I know there are many fans who hate stories with a built-in reset button, but I think "Time and Again" is among the better instances where this narrative technique is used. Perhaps not as extraordinary as TNG: "Cause and Effect" but commendable nonetheless. There are inevitable logical problems though. The predestination paradox that Voyager is responsible for an explosion that has already taken place when the ship arrives is already tough enough. It is even harder to explain, however, why this time loop is eventually interrupted when Janeway prevents the explosion.
I am glad that no B-plot is incorporated into the story because it would only have distracted. However, I don't really like the kind of Kes' involvement in this episode, as it reminds me a lot of Deanna's little helpful comments in the first two seasons of TNG. Kes has supernatural powers that not only include telepathy but also the power to experience the future and alternate timelines. But these powers play only a minor role in the story. Essentially it boils down to Kes being the only one who has any memory of the disaster that could have occurred on the planet, perhaps in an attempt to ease the effect of a total reset and the negative reactions of some viewers.
- Remarkable quote: "Under normal circumstances I'd say we should come back tomorrow." (Paris at the demonstration, knowing that there will be no tomorrow on the planet)
- Remarkable styling: All people on the planet are wearing clothes in the following colors: mustard, orange, lime, olive, bordeaux. The emblem that can be seen in various places consists of similar colors.
- Remarkable facts:
- Tom Paris mentions the Delaney sisters for the first time; they work in stellar cartography.
- In 2268, an experiment with polaric energy almost devastated the Romulan colony Chaltok IV, and the technology was outlawed.
Stardate 48532.4: An away team beams down to a planetoid where Neelix expects to find rich dilithium deposits. But he runs into an alien, who uses an advanced medical instrument to remove his lung. The Doctor can only keep him alive by replicating a pair of holographic lungs. Voyager follows the ion trail of the alien ship into an asteroid. Inside the asteroid there is a "hall of mirrors" that doesn't allow to scan for the alien ship. On Chakotay's suggestion Tuvok sweeps the interior with a low-intensity phaser beam, which eventually hits the alien ship, thereby revealing its true location. Janeway has the two crew members beamed aboard. They are members of the Vidiians, a race that suffers from the "phage", a terrible decay of their organisms that forces them to steal alien organs for their survival. As Neelix' lungs have already been altered for one of the Vidiians named Motura and Janeway is opposed to killing him, she is willing to let them go. Motura, however, agrees to help Neelix before he leaves. He modifies one of Kes' lungs for a transplantation into Neelix' body.
Doing an episode like "Phage" so early in the series was a daring move. The idea of some aliens stealing a crew member's lungs would have had all the potential for a silly episode along the lines of "Spock's Brain". Moreover, such a story requires an emotional impact that is not easy to accomplish with characters that we are not yet familiar with. The episode overcomes these obstacles with surprising ease. The character relationships are worked out well. There are a number of really great dialogues. And although he has been aboard for just a few weeks, it is nice to see how everyone puts his or her special expertise to use to help Neelix. Only Neelix' jealousy about Kes and Tom is over the top, even though later episodes will prove him right. The Doctor's insufferable demonstrative depreciation of Tom Paris is another lowlight of the episode. It is the pinnacle of a theme that will continue through all seven seasons.
I can imagine that one reason to do this episode with the Vidiians was that the producers were anxious to introduce a new recurring enemy soon enough, after their experiences with the rather bland first seasons of TNG and DS9. "Phage" is convincing in this regard too. I like the credible depiction of the Vidiians, who turn out to be victims of their ghastly disease, rather than ruthless organ thieves. Still, they are extremely dangerous and don't hesitate to kill for their survival, perhaps out of an instinct. If they can't get what they need from the dead, they take it from the living. We can only only wonder what human beings would do in their place.
One might think think that it is too soon for a revelation that the Vidiians are victims just as well and for a more or less peaceful agreement with them, considering that the Vidiians will appear as villains in several more episodes. On the other hand, this gives Janeway a chance to demonstrate her diplomatic skills while leaving no doubt that she will use deadly force in the next encounter with the Vidiians. The solution that the not-so-bad villains are not punished and help their victims in return is very Trek-like. My regards to Captain Janeway, who lives up to the ideals of Kirk and Picard despite the bad circumstances.
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Don't worry, I'm not going to kiss you, I'm only adjusting the restraint." - "I'll try to contain my disappointment." (The Doctor and Neelix)
- "First they tell me there's no doctor, so I have to be on call 24 hours a day. And then they tell me there are no nurses so I have no one to assist me." - "I thought Tom Paris was assigned to you." - "Like I said, no one to assist me." (The Doctor and Kes)
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Well, if I'm going to be in here a while, now's as good a time as any to tell you. Your ceiling is hideous." (Neelix)
- "And some music would be nice. Or better yet, are you programmed to sing?" (a prophetic Neelix)
- Remarkable scenes:
- Janeway finds Neelix's kitchen with ancient looking pans and pots in her private dining room. In my impression she is annoyed for the most part, but also a bit amused.
- Tom objects to holographic lungs, saying that a hologram is just a projection of light, whereupon the Doctor slaps him.
- Remarkable maneuvers:
- The last time someone ordered a Federation starship into an asteroid (TNG: "The Pegasus") it almost ended in a disaster. Janeway succeeds more by luck than judgment.
- Inside the asteroid, Chakotay saves the day when he suggests to fire a weak phaser beam that is reflected from the walls until it hits and thereby reveals the real Vidiian ship.
Stardate 48546.2: Voyager is running out of energy, and Janeway decides to take the ship into a nebula to harvest omicron particles. After breaking through an energy barrier the ship comes under attack by an unknown substance. Janeway orders to steer the ship clear. The substance, however, turns out to be organic and is part of a nucleogenic lifeform that was hurt when the ship penetrated its shell. Janeway decides to enter the nebula again to heal the "wound", using a nucleogenic beam. When the beam turns out insufficient, the Doctor suggests to suture the rupture, using the ship as a conduit for the nucleogenic energy. The surgical procedure succeeds. However, instead of replenishing the energy reserves Voyager ends up with 20% less energy.
This episode is like the epitome of the first two seasons of the series, in which it seems that every initially promising discovery or alien encounter is to Voyager's disadvantage in the end. Here the ship starts off with scarce energy resources and ends up with still 20% less. But as Neelix correctly remarks, just as much as the search for energy it is Starfleet's curiosity that gets the ship into trouble, a theme that we are familiar with from previous Star Trek series. Overall, the A-plot doesn't show us anything really new, for we have already seen various mysterious nebulae, spaceborne creatures and similar phenomena in Star Trek. It is nice to see that the story is much like the antithesis to TOS: "The Immunity Sysndrome" and this time the Starfleet crew helps a space creature instead of killing it. On the other hand, we've had stories along the same lines already on Star Trek: The Next Generation, such as in "Galaxy's Child".
It is easy to notice that the A-plot of "The Cloud" is not sufficient to fill 45 minutes, and so Michael Piller incorporated a number of B-plots with a common "family" theme. The latter make up more than half of the episode's time (at least that is my impression). The various B-plots are a mixed bag. Some of them work nicely, some are just lame filler scenes, and overall they take away the suspense that has been built up, especially after Voyager leaves the nebula for the first time. The thing that bugs me most about the whole episode is the anticlimactic scene in which Tom wakes up Harry as if it was some kind of emergency. But he actually just wants the fellow junior officer to join him on the holodeck to see Tom's newest creation, the Chez Sandrine.
I don't like Tom's program anyway. The characters, namely Sandrine, Ricky, the pool player and the gigolo are so blatantly stereotypical, so cheap; I wonder in how far they reflect Tom's thoughts and ideas, which would be really poor. It is no surprise the figures in the Sandrine's will gradually disappear from the bar in the subsequent episodes, and make way for the real crew. On a positive note, Harry and Tom strengthen their friendship in the time they spend on the holodeck, a friendship that will persist and play a role in many future episodes.
In further efforts to establish a sense of family we can see Janeway take a walk through the ship while speaking her log entry. I rather like the way she cares for her crew, especially since in the end Harry (who initially hesitated to ask her to join him and Tom for breakfast) will return the favor and invite her to the holodeck. Chakotay and Janeway too strengthen their friendship when he shows her how to practice the old Indian meditation with the animal guide. Janeway's guide is a salamander, but she must not tell anyone. B'Elanna, on the other hand, wanted to kill her animal guide. The Doctor's craving for acknowledgement continues. Janeway simply mutes him and the EMH tries hard to catch the attention of the bridge crew. On another occasion he complains that no one cares to switch him off after he has done his job. Harry gets admonished by Tuvok not to say "I've never seen anything like it." again. Only a few minutes later, Tuvok himself makes a similar statement, and Harry takes the opportunity to remind Tuvok of what he said. All this is set up very nicely but overall it is just too much coziness at the expense of suspense.
Neelix, as already mentioned, is upset about the irrational explorer mentality of Starfleet that poses a danger to the ship and crew. He is certainly correct to some degree. However, this only shows that he is not yet a full member of the family. And his defiant attitude gets embarrassing when he complains about it in Janeway's office in a time of stress and when he appears on the bridge in another critical situation, calling himself the new "morale officer" and serving some cookies (well, I would appreciate the latter service). Fortunately the impression of Neelix as the ship's clown will be corrected in some of the later installments in which his character is more deeply explored.
- Inconsistency: Why is it that plenty of energy may be consumed on the holodeck, whereas replicating a simple coffee is already regarded as a waste of energy? It seems the writers, like already in "Parallax", are very fond of the idea of an independent power source of the holodeck, although this would make no sense.
- Remarkable error: "Chez Sandrine à Marseilles" is an awkward mix-up of English and French. It should be "Marseille".
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "These people are natural born explorers, Neelix." - "These people are natural born idiots, if you ask me. They don't appreciate what they have here. This ship is the match of any vessel within a hundred light years, and what do they do with it? Well, let's see if we can't find some space anomaly today that might rip it apart!" (Kes and Neelix)
- "I need to know if we did serious harm to this lifeform." - "Let's see. You ran your ship through it, fired phasers at it and blew a hole in it with a photon torpedo. I'd say it's a pretty good chance that you did some fairly significant..." (Janeway and the Doctor)
- Remarkable quotes:
- "There's coffee in that nebula." (Janeway)
- "Dismissed. That's a Starfleet expression for 'get out.'" (Janeway, to Neelix)
- Remarkable log entry: "Personal log, Stardate 48546.2. Our journey home is several weeks old now, and I have begun to notice in my crew and in myself, a subtle change as the reality of our situation settles in. Here in the Delta Quadrant, we are virtually the entire family of man. We are more than a crew and I must find a way to be more than a captain to these people, but it's not clear to me exactly how to begin." (Janeway)
- Remarkable scene: After the Doctor has been switched to mute, he tries to get the attention of the bridge crew by waving from the main viewscreen in the background.
- Remarkable fact: The EMH was programmed at Jupiter Station by a man named Zimmerman (who looks a lot like the EMH).
- Photon torpedoes used: 1 out of 38 at this time
Stardate 48579.4: The crew is excited about the discovery of a wormhole leading to the Alpha Quadrant. Although it turns out too narrow for the ship to pass through, a communication with a Romulan ship on the other side can be established, and a beam-over is accomplished. The wormhole, however, leads back to the past and Janeway decides not to make use of it. And it is uncertain whether the Romulan commander would be able to report about the whereabouts of Voyager, since he would die prior to the ship's departure.
Maybe it was not wise to come up with such a tempting opportunity to get home and an Alpha Quadrant story so early in the first season. Anyway, it was a fine story, unlike other wormhole and anomaly plots still to come. I especially liked the Romulan commander, who was both suspicious and compassionate, the latter quite unlike most other representatives of his species. It is good to still see the excitement (not only Harry's) about getting home or at least contacting the families as opposed to the "anomaly/drive-of-the-week" routine in later seasons. I also appreciated the secondary plot dealing with the Doctor's problems of being accepted - and choosing a name. It is obvious that he is about to become a valuable member of the crew, if only the crew recognizes him as such. Kes is the only one who has a good sense for his potential at first.
The only thing I disliked was the fixation on the Alpha Quadrant that will continue throughout the whole series. The Alpha Quadrant is very large and anything but a precise spatial coordinate, what if the signal had come from its far end, almost equally far away from the Federation as Voyager's current position? The Beta Quadrant would have been as good a place to go to. I also wondered why the Romulan explicitly but unnecessarily stated his position was in the Alpha Quadrant in the first place, even before Janeway said she was in the Delta Quadrant.
- Missed opportunity to get home: #2, since the past is as good as the present, and time travels are not that difficult
Stardate not given: On the planet Banea, Tom Paris is found guilty of murdering a resident scientist. He is sentenced to see the crime with the eyes of his alleged victim every 14 hours. When Janeway and Tuvok engage in further investigations, they find out that the Numiri, enemies of the Baneans, have faked the memories to be implanted into Paris's brain, along with strategic information to be smuggled out.
Although such things as starship maneuvers, memory engrams and mind-melds play a certain role, the story itself has not much to do with science fiction. It was a bit like "Murder, She Wrote", maybe a bit too much. I usually like episodes with a conclusion in which previously different problems (here the frequent Numiri attacks and Paris's alleged crime) turn out to have a common cause. Yet, it was too crazy to kill the professor, convict Paris of the crime, program the plans into his mind, get him released and hope that it might be possible to abduct him again. There are just too many variables to make this a viable plan. Just like in most murder mysteries. If it is possible to exchange messages between Banea and the Numiri, why can't they find a simpler way to smuggle the plans? Weird plots can only be uncovered by equally weird detectives. Thus, Tuvok behaves much like a 20th century TV detective. Fortunately, he gives a very logical performance nonetheless.
I also didn't like Paris and Lidell, whose vehement flirting was just not credible. Especially since femme fatale Lidell was deceiving him the whole time, he must have been a very easy prey.
- Remarkable maneuver: the "playing dead" trick of the Maquis, letting the enemy ships come close and then firing on them
Stardate 48623.5: When an away team is beamed back from an asteroid that also serves as a kind of cemetery, an alien body has taken Harry's place, while Harry finds himself on the planet of its origin. The residents, the Vhnori, firmly believe they will transcend to the "next emanation", when they allow themselves to be killed and transferred to the asteroid. Harry takes the place of a skeptic who wants to live on, and can be revived back on Voyager.
I don't know if it is better to leave out religion as it has mostly been done throughout ten years of TOS and TNG, or to scientifically get at the bottom of every supernatural phenomenon and thereby debunk the faith. We know this problem from the contradictory concepts of "wormhole entities" vs. "Prophets" in DS9. The profane explanation in the case of the Vhnori, however, is incomplete, so it may still leave the basic principles of the Vhnori intact. On the other hand, lack of technobabble does not render the many scientific oddities of this story more believable. The new chemical element, an asteroid with Class-M atmosphere and pleasant temperature, a subspace channel to the Vhnori planet, "neural energy" dispersed in space, all these things sum up to a quite unlikely scenario. It should have been attempted to explain at least a few of them, or link them in a way to have a common cause.
Apart from this, I just didn't like the Vhnori. They are a somewhat enlightened civilization, but their attitude towards death and afterlife seems rather primitive. The thing that irritated me most is that the crew tried to send the Vhnori woman, Ptera, back without much deliberation, which eventually killed her. Even if this was her wish, it would have required much more carefulness. And it came out a bit like in the hypocritical episode TNG: "Homeward", where one of the primitive villagers escaped from the holodeck and just had to die for his own welfare after his view of the world had been shattered.
The only thing I really liked was Garrett Wang's performance as Harry. He is confused at first which is understandable considering that he suddenly wakes up in a coffin on an alien planet, but gradually manages to regain control.
Stardate 48642.5: The Sikarians are not only known for their hospitality, they also possess an advanced transporter to send Voyager at least 40,000 light-years closer to Earth. On the other hand, their version of the Prime Directive prohibits any kind of technology transfer. Some of the Voyager crew nevertheless purchase the technology in exchange for a cultural database from Voyager. But the attempt to activate the system fails, and it has to be destroyed before it can do more damage.
Sikaris is a paradise. Beautiful people doing beautiful things in a beautiful environment. And they just beam 40,000ly away if this indulgence should ever get boring. It is just too good to be true, especially since Star Trek has frequently shown worlds that wound up as false paradises such as the one in TNG: "Justice", where Wesley was facing death penalty for stepping into a flower-bed. Fortunately there is nothing really wrong with Sikaris, but the people are only protecting their technology, which Janeway, being in charge of preserving the Prime Directive, understands and respects very well. Her subordinates, on the other hand, feel that no one would be hurt if they could exchange stories for transporter technology. On the contrary, both sides could profit from this trade. It is satisfactory to see that the technology would have been incompatible with the ship's systems anyway, so the dwindling of morale is not as severe as if it would have been if the Sikarian transporter had almost worked. On the other hand, the complications with the planet's laws and Janeway's principles would have been even more definite if there had been a confirmed prospect that they could get home.
The episode should leave a rift through Voyager's crew, one which is not necessarily running between the Starfleet and the Maquis, but between Janeway's "respect local laws" and the "getting-home" faction. It is a pity that the main characters will find a common understanding as soon as in the next episode, and the only conflicts will be between the fundamentally virtuous crew and the traitors like Seska and Jonas. A word about Janeway: She should stop taking the crew's faults personally. If she is disappointed about their actions now, the next time she may be disappointed about them doing nothing.
- Remarkable quote: "My logic was not in error, but I was." (Tuvok)
- Missed opportunity to get home: #3, which might have been possible with a bit more patience and diplomacy
Stardate not given: A Voyager away team is attacked by the Kazons. Some time later Voyager comes across a Kazon ship, on which an attempt to install Federation technology has caused a fatal accident. There must be someone on Voyager who gave the technology to the Kazon, and it is found out that the traitor is Seska, who is not even a Bajoran, but a surgically altered Cardassian spy. She eventually deserts to the Kazon.
I liked the episode mainly because it presented a credible spy story. Two suspects, Carey and Seska, and not enough evidence. The situation is even more convoluted because Chakotay and Seska have been a couple for some time. The story skillfully delays the conclusion. With regard to the storyline, the Kazons are well-suited opponents. They are not just interested in blowing the ship to dust, which they could easily do, at least with combined forces. They want the technology at all cost and they need the ship intact. It is obvious that this strategy will be continued in further episodes.
The only thing that disturbed me was that Seska being a Cardassian is made such a big deal, as if this makes her a natural traitor in this case too. Or, vice versa, she is not only a traitor, but also a Cardassian. Shame on her. It is a general problem that Cardassians are consistently portrayed as being cruel, sinister and untrustworthy, as opposed to other alien races whose representatives are both usually more likable and much more diversified. It is interesting to see that Seska behaves much according to the standard Cardassian role pattern once her identity is revealed. Yet, I have that problem with Cardassians being used as universal villains. BTW, why wasn't it noticed earlier that she is Cardassian? Transporter logs, for instance, should have easily uncovered her disguise.
Stardate 48693.2: When Voyager beams a sample of photonic energy aboard, Harry, Chakotay and Tuvok vanish in Harry's holodeck program, the medieval tale of Beowulf. They were apparently "swallowed" by the holographic monster Grendel. The Doctor, being the only one immune to the phenomenon, seeks for the lost crew members in the still running holonovel where he plays the warrior (Dr.) Schweitzer. He becomes romantically involved with Freya, one of the holographic characters, but Freya is killed by one of the other "warriors". The Doctor finally hands the photonic sample to Grendel, actually the manifestation of photonic lifeforms, and the three officers are released.
I loved to see that the Doctor got something more to do than waste his many talents for medical routine tasks and complain about not being switched off after use. If the Doctor evolved from a simple computer program to a real personality, then it was in this episode. Notwithstanding the good impression of the Doctor and his emotional involvement, I didn't like that the plot was so undemanding and predictable. As for the holodeck failure and the energy entity plots, we have seen much more original and plausible episodes along the same lines on TNG.
- Remarkable facts:
- The Doctor chooses to abandon his new name "Schweitzer" because it would sadly remind him of Freya's death.
- Photonic beings will return in "Bride of Chaotica!", again on the holodeck. I wonder how mere light can be a lifeform.
Stardate 48734.2: When Chakotay is brain-dead after an attack, an alien consciousness repeatedly takes over the crew's minds to make the ship enter a dark matter nebula. Another conscience, namely Chakotay's, strives to prevent the ship from doing exactly that. Inside the nebula, the alien conscience can be expelled, and the Doctor succeeds in reintegrating Chakotay's mind.
The teaser shows Janeway in exactly the role I would have given her in a Victorian holonovel - as a governess. I don't know what this isolated sub-plot was deemed useful for, except for prolonging the meager episode to 45 minutes. It was pointless. Regarding the main plot, I must admit I didn't bother keeping track of which consciousness was occupying which crew member at what time and what was the ship's current course. The frequent changes exasperated me at some point. To see Chakotay's or an alien soul hover through the ship gets boring likewise. The revelation that aliens have been trying to take to lure the ship into the nebula is just too predictable and it is also clear that a way would be found to restore Chakotay. This is why the Doctor has to perform the first successful soul transplantation in history. A medical miracle that doesn't get more credible just because of the pleasant absence of technobabble ("It would take over ten hours just to explain it all").
- Remarkable error: Tuvok's rank switches between lieutenant commander and lieutenant a couple of times during this episode. This would normally be rated as a simple instance of missing rank pips, but after this episode Tuvok consistently appears as a lieutenant.
Stardate 48784.2: The Vidiians take a Voyager away team prisoners. A scientist breaks up B'Elanna into one entirely human and one entirely Klingon person, since he thinks the Klingon DNA might help to find a cure for the phage. The two versions of B'Elanna have to work together in order to escape. The Klingon B'Elanna is killed by the Vidiians, and the human person needs Klingon DNA to survive, so B'Elanna will be restored as she was.
The story is not entirely credible, but it is definitely the most intensive character study of the whole first season. B'Elanna gets split into two people by a Vidiian Frankenstein. Actually, neither her Klingon nor her human incarnation, but Frankenstein himself is the monster here. It is not only his horrible Vidiian appearance, but also his attempts to develop feelings and prove them which he has in common with the monster, the culmination being the use of the ill-fated Durst's face to "please" B'Elanna.
Actually, it is disturbing to see that in his eyes only the Klingon B'Elanna is valuable, while the human version is regarded as trash. Besides her usefulness for the experiments the Klingon woman has all the strength and the courage the human woman is lacking. I felt like hugging and comforting the latter B'Elanna, while I would prefer a more self-confident person like the Klingon version. In other words, only both of them combined yield the complete person, the best B'Elanna. It is the same problem as with the "bad" and "good" Kirk in TOS: "The Enemy Within", maybe a bit more plausible in the Voyager episode, since it is attributed to different DNA sequences this time. Anyway, there is no reason to assume that one version is better than the other, there is nothing like judging the value of a person at all, and this is impressively demonstrated when the two B'Elannas discuss how to escape from their prison and how to deal with each other. It is a excellent episode for B'Elanna.
On a side note, besides the Vidiian method to extract organs without surgery, the genatron, which is supposed to convert matter to energy, is another hint that they should have transporter technology just as well.
- Crew losses: 1
Stardate 48840.5: Jetrel is a Haakonian scientist, who was responsible for the development of a holocaustic weapon that once dissolved 300,000 Talaxians on a moon called Rinax, including Neelix's family. He claims that Neelix is suffering from a deadly disease, metremia, brought about by the weapon. Actually, while Jetrel is suffering from metremia himself, this is just a pretext to utilize Voyager's transporter technology in his effort to restore the dead in order to redeem himself. The attempt fails because the pattern decay is too strong.
This episode is hard to classify and therefore hard to judge. To be honest, I just didn't like it very much despite its strong emotional impact. There are some points to back my opinion. I think that the character study "victim faces culprit" alone is not enough to make a good story. Neelix' preoccupation is easy to understand, and so is Jetrel's repentance. They could find sort of a common understanding (as it would be generally desirable and is rather likely in a Star Trek episode) or they could fail to do so. Not much of a story in either case. The author might have had the same thoughts, and might have decided to somehow beef it up. The result is the inept attempt to make a sci-fi story of it, by technobabbling it down to a question of transporter technology.
Another problem I have is that intentions unnecessarily turn out different than they appeared to be. Jetrel pretends that Neelix is suffering from metremia only to get access to Voyager and try his well-meant reviving of the dead. Why doesn't he tell the truth at the very beginning? The Starfleet crew would have gladly supported him, and he wouldn't have bothered and scared Neelix. Anyway, his intentions were clearly noble. The suspected villain, namely Jetrel, is not that evil; the hero, namely Neelix, has not always been that heroic, for he didn't report to the Talaxian Defense Force for personal reasons, or cowardice. While I basically like this tendency of Star Trek that not everything is plain black or white, it would not have been necessary to degrade Neelix. Finally, there is my general complaint that scientists tend to play too great a role in political or military decisions in TV and cinema - where they are usually depicted as either reckless, naive or mad - or everything at once. Fortunately there is some kind of discussion of Jetrel's real responsibility and motivation in the episode, that he wasn't actually the bad guy who pushed the red button. One extra point goes to Neelix for playing more than the ship's clown for the first time.
Stardate 48846.5: Tuvok is in charge of teaching Starfleet protocols to four reluctant Maquis - in the form of tough drills. In the meantime Neelix' cheese is causing an infection of the bioneural circuits, which leads to multiple system failures. Tuvok and three of the Maquis manage to escape from a cargo bay filling with deadly gas. Tuvok earns the respect of the Maquis when he goes back and rescues a crewmate who was left behind.
I didn't like the story. It is just too simple an idea to confront the obstinate Maquis members with drill instructor Tuvok. The way the conflict unfolds is too obvious, its further development is too predictable. Furthermore, I disapprove of the typically American attitude that a boot camp where you are yelled at all the time and have to obey absolutely pointless orders (like scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush) is the right method to make someone a "valuable" person. It is easy to pretend that it is a good concept, just because humbled and exhausted recruits don't contradict easily, and broken personalities don't have the power to commit crimes any longer. Supporting such an ideology, Tuvok behaves anything but logically. Fortunately, they eventually find a mutual understanding instead of Tuvok just pounding Starfleet protocols into their heads. However, it requires a dangerous situation and the rather bizarre "cheesy" sub-plot with the gel pack infection to get them to work together and recognize that they have common goals. In spite of the bad taste that it leaves (and I'm not talking of the cheese) the episode has its hilarious moments, which account for two of the three points.
Remarkable quote: "If you can learn to bend the rules, we can learn to follow them." (a Maquis)