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Star Trek Voyager (VOY) Season 1 Guest Reviews

Season 1 - Season 2 - Season 3 - Season 4 - Season 5 - Season 6 - Season 7

 

Caretaker Stardate 48307.5-48315.6: Synopsis in main VOY listing

And it was all going so well. :( It had been a long time since I sat down and watched the pilot for the only Trek series I'd managed to see from pilot to finale when it started (TNG premiering the year I was born, and DS9 never got a lot of exposure on Australian TV).
So, "Caretaker", surprisingly a very solid pilot. The character development is already sorted with Paris' story about being kicked out of Starfleet due to deaths of cadets (à la McNeill's other character Nick Locarno from TNG episode "The First Duty"). Janeway's seen chatting with her husband Mark before embarking on the journey, and her scientific backgrounds briefly shown, indicating she's not a carbon copy of most other captains. Her friendship with Tuvok is also shown and Tuvok of course is revealed to have been a Starfleet spy serving aboard the Maquis ship commanded by Chakotay and Torres. There's also naive Kim, and the first appearance of the Doc, who's more than annoyed with the situation at hand with the medical crew killed and people not switching off his program. How he'd change. ;) And there's Neelix and Kes of course.
And the effects are quite good, the new ship's of course of Voyager, the Maquis raider, a brief appearance by a Cardassian warship, the Array, the Kazon ship. An impressive start showing how alien this series was going to be.
And despite how unique the story is, with the seemingly powerful and omnipotent deviating from the routine role of species like his, instead CARING for the Ocampa due to his people's turning their planet into a wasteland, I think it's where it goes down at the end. Given the choice between using the array to send Voyager home, or violate the Prime Directive by interfering in what would've transpired had Voyager never been there in the first place: The Kazon taking control of the Array. Janeway choosing the latter. Understandably, had she not, this series would've been over and done with in the space of 90 minutes, but I think it would've been a better option had the choice not been made so casually. The Kazon didn't seem to present much of a threat at that moment, Tuvok was nonchalant about the process to take them home taking a few hours when that should've been made more a deterrent as to why they couldn't hang around and wait for it to take them home.
And the crews joining so easily at the very end with no qualms wasn't so satisfactory, and it's not like it's much issue later on during the series with only a few instances of Maquis insurgence.
However, I'm still happy with this, it set up the premise well and developed the characters in a satisfactory way. The effects and set pieces were great and the performances were solid. Just a shame the decision to strand the crew was one made in haste, and in a way that went against Starfleet protocol. Call me heartless, but when given the choice between getting my crew home, or dooming them to a 70 year journey while violating the Prime Directive by interfering in the balance of power (as Tuvok duly informs Janeway), the decision would've been clear to me, and you can't help but wonder what other Captains would've done in her situation.
Nitpicking: Tri-cobalt devices. What are they? How did they differ from photon or quantum torpedoes? Why did the ship only have a rare few? Why did they even bother introducing some new flashy new weapon only to right them off almost immediately?
Remarkable set/station: The Ocampan underground city and the Caretaker's Array respectively
Remarkable fact: On its maiden voyage, Voyager lost its First Officer, CMO and Medical Staff, Chief Engineer and helm officer. - Due to the new sets, new ships, location shooting, special effects and so on, Caretaker alone cost as much to film as "The Wrath of Khan".
Rating: 7 (Cameron)

Caretaker Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

I may be a little biased, since Voyager is and most likely always will be my favorite series, but I'll try to be as objective as possible.
If Voyager isn't "Star Trek" than neither is The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine (Keeping Enterprise out of it, since it doesn't exist at the time the episode aired). Literally, Voyager is much closer to TOS in regards to the size of the ship. Along with the size of the Intrepid Class, Voyager also carries on the idea of being alone, on having to rely on your training and your principles to help you out (In TOS it was because a message would take way to long to reach Starfleet, in VOY the reason is the same). That aside, Voyager also proves it's Trek because of the apparent chemistry that the crew has with each other, even Neelix and Tuvok. Now, onto the actual review of the episode...
The plot is compelling, the logic sound. It is refreshing to have our heroes surrounded by people who haven't heard of the Federation, as I was getting tired of hearing the "The Mighty Federation will fall..." speech from the various Alpha Quadrant groups we've seen throughout the seasons. I really liked the strife between the Maquis and Starfleet, if only it would have been carried out throughout the series. The Kazon are worthy adversaries.
I am still blown away at the visual effects. I always thought the ships of the Next Generation seemed "stiff," that their movements were always very defined. Seeing as how Voyager launched the following season, the effects are most impressive.
Remarkable ship: USS Voyager. What a beauty! She'll always be my favorite.
More remarkable ships: Kazon Raiders and Cruisers. WOW! I'd love to see a Galaxy Class take a Cruiser on, that'd be a battle worth watching.
Remarkable friendships: Tuvok and Neelix (Nostalgically similar to McCoy and Spock), Tom Paris and Harry Kim (The Starfleet traitor and the Starfleet goodie-too shoes, very interesting)
Nitpicking: If the Maquis ship went missing "a few weeks ago" as Janeway states in the beginning dialogue with Paris, why is the Maquis crew beamed back at the same time as Voyager's crew? The Caretaker only needed 3 days with Voyager...
Remarkable speech: Janeway's speech at the end still gives me chills...ranked right up there along with Picard's final lines of the Next Generation. This type of writing is what makes Star Trek worth watching.
Rating: 8 (Nodar)

Caretaker Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Very impressive. The episode actually felt more like an actual motion picture than a simple TV episode (apparently, cost as much, too). The premise is what impressed me the most - a ship stuck in the far end of the galaxy and not being able to get back for 75 years? Very interesting. Since I'm watching this chronologically, I don't know anything about the series (I guess that makes me objective, then), so I'm really looking forward to the effect the change of place will have on the crew. Which is also interesting, since the Intrepid class is not designed for long trips, unlike the Galaxy class, so the ships are sort of switched in place here.
The whole story is believable and somewhat original, although leaves the mystery of what the Caretakers are. Where did they come from, what was their mission, what went wrong in their experiments? Hopefully this will get explored in the future. The action was good and justified, although the battle at the beginning is quite overdone at this point - the same happened in the DS9 pilot, the same happened in ST2009 movie... and it doesn't even give you anything, because when it's a pilot, the viewers don't care about who wins or loses, because they have no idea what either side represents. The scene where Paris saved Chakotay's life was also very predictable and unrealistic. But scenes such as when the Maquis ship drew fire from the opposing cruiser made up for those few shortcomings.
The interaction between species was also quite interesting. We have the Caretaker which is more advanced, we have Neelix whose species are less advanced and we have the Ocampa who are also a little less advanced, and the interaction is very natural and understandable. Water (which is free) for information is a bargain, too, and both sides are happy. Though the Kazon left me confused. In one scene they are shown as savages that don't even have the ability to locate water sources, and next time you know, they take an overpowering cruiser out of hammerspace and threaten the Voyager...
The music and visual effects are also top notch. Usually I don't notice the music, but here it was an outstanding part of the whole experience.
Janeway's decision to destroy the array is often discussed, but I believe that it was the right thing to do. Tuvok isn't right saying that destroying it would be a breach of the Prime Directive. Firstly, it doesn't apply if they are asked for help - and that is exactly what the Caretaker did. Secondly, destroying the array is strictly the Caretakers' matter, and they are an advanced, space-faring civilisation, so it doesn't apply to them to begin with. Destroying the array means the Kazon won't get it, but they are space-faring as well, so even here it doesn't apply; the effect this decision will have on the Ocampa is merely tertiary, and even *they* are nearly advanced enough to fly into space. So Janeway's decision is actually in full compliance with the Prime Directive - in fact, it's ignoring the Caretaker's plea is what could be considered to be against Federation's rules and standards.
Remarkable doctor: The Doctor - a hologram, thus essentially the computer itself. Finally, a fully automated diagnostic and treating array!
Rating: 9 (GreatEmerald)

Parallax Stardate 48439.7: Synopsis in main VOY listing

A decent follow up to Caretaker that does really well to address vital issues that are sadly shrugged off in following seasons. From the start there's already issues with ship-wide systems that are being repaired, and this sort of commitment to the most 'real' consequence to the situation Voyager is in is respectable.
Further, the character development continues with themes seen later on in the series. Kes and the Doctor meet for the first time in which she recognises his sensitivity as a 'person' of sorts, and we see their relationship continue to evolve later in the show. Chakotay has to fend off Tuvok AND Maquis crewmen suggestive of mutiny over B'Elanna's assault of Lieutenant Carey in Engineering. He also later justifies his and the Maquis' loyalty to Janeway, while not entirely betraying his independence, so good work by Robert Beltran. Again, Janeway has her scientific background touched upon as she and B'Elanna work together over how to escape the first of many 'anomalies of the week'. There's also a subtle nod to Paris' crush on Kes, as he offers her his seat in the Conference room (which Janeway makes the point that she and Neelix had no place being in, but this of course changes).
And it's a good episode, the only failings I found were the constant talk scenes, the action and flow was upset a bit by casual banter as the crew waste time going into the conference area to discuss B'Elanna's plan about 'wedging' open the anomaly. The B-Story isn't exactly enthralling, simply the Doctor's program is malfunctioning due to the effect of the anomaly, causing him (or IT as Tuvok refers) to shrink in appearance.
Remarkable quote: "You know, I like you better this way..." -Paris, delighting in conversing with a 2-foot tall Doctor.
Remarkable scene: Janeway and B'Elanna on the shuttle having to decide which of the two Voyagers they encounter is real, and which is a 'temporal reflection'.
Remarkable appearance: Seska, the recurring character of a Cardassian-spy disguised as a Bajoran to infiltrate the Maquis, appears for the first time, albeit in a blue-science division uniform. In subsequent appearances she dons the gold uniform.
Rating: 8 (Cameron)

Parallax Stardate 48439.7: Voyager receives a distress call from a ship obviously stuck within the event horizon of a black hole. It is noticed too late that the calls actually originate from Voyager itself at a time when the ship is already trapped in the singularity. B'Elanna proves very helpful in finding a way out and, in spite of her unrestrained manners she is promoted to chief engineer.

This episode is awesome, I think the scene in the briefing room between B'Elanna and the captain about the quantum singularity is classic Trek. The joke about the Doctor shrinking is almost as funny as the later episode when he daydreamed of Tuvok during Pon Farr. Right from the first scene where Carey's nose is broken I was blown away.
Remarkable quote: "She's not just out of control, she's out of her mind." (Lieutenant Carey)
Remarkable scene: When Janeway and Torres are in the shuttle returning to Voyager the real Voyager and a time delayed reflection are right in front of them.
Rating: 10 (Kyle)

Parallax Stardate 48439.7: Synopsis in main VOY listing

This is a great follow-up for "Caretaker". The ship is in actual danger, and it is due to some strange spatial anomaly (hopefully Star Trek XII will be similiar ;)). In any case, the relations between the Maquis and Starfleet officers are exactly what I would expect, and it is great the writers of VOY took this to its full potential, if only they carried the theme throughout the rest of the 1st or 2nd season. The explosive opening to the episode is particularly entertaining as well.
I'll keep the "trapped ship" plot out of my review, simply because I feel it was only used to show how the crews can work together, when the need arises. It doesn't make too much sense in my opinion that a state-of-the-art Federation ship, which was arguably designed for exploration, wouldn't detect the singularity until they were already passing through it. But besides this detail, the rest of the episode is a classic. I especially liked the Doctor in this episode. I felt he didn't get too much attention in Caretaker, which is unfortunate because he is the most unique character in the series at the moment. His babbling on to Kes served perfectly as him "bragging" and a character "origin story." It'll be nice once "The Voyager Conspiracy" rolls around that his speech about how advanced he is will be used once again.
Rating: 8 (Nodar)

Time and Again Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Like with the early episodes of TNG, they were boring, dull, and unimpressive - but the excuse was that Paramount and the people on Trek were experimenting, and trying to please the old guard whilst trying to tempt fresh blood into the fold. As a result The Next Generation suffered in its first years but in the end matured.
Years after TNG, you think the writers would have learned by now and even have been bold - however this effort and others in the first two series beggars belief.
In a nutshell, the ship is hit by some massive shockwave, the usual suspects investigate and discover a desolate world. On traipsing on said world, Janeway and Paris suddenly fall through a 'temporal fracture' to the day before the disaster. Meanwhile Chuckles and the rest try to find ways to rescue their friends.
Sounds familiar?
At the time it came out I said to myself "here we go again" and low and behold it did - another time travel silly plot, another disaster to avert, only Janeway and crew save the day and so on and so forth. I can see that the purpose was to flesh out the characters, especially Kes and her abilities, but it was delivered with such slow motion, dullness, uninventive writing, and dreadful dialogue. All did what their characters/rank/station deemed - Tuvok being the logic one, Chakotay being the second in command, B'Elanna being the boffin because she works in Engineering...you get the idea. There was no sudden difference, spontaneity, or boldness - it's basically the same stuff but with different people.
The only true boldness was when Janeway was being used as a hostage, and the firearms of the aliens.
Fleshing out characters is an essential in story telling but at the same time so is making a story that defines them - this did not - it was by the numbers and ended in the typical temporal reboot ending that is the signature piece of Star Trek. Looking at it again, it's even worse - more wooden than I remember, more inane that I thought, and utterly pointless in purpose.
The title summed it up so well. 3/10
Impressive prop: The aliens in this use pistols - no lasers or beam weapons. Point 1
Remarkable quote/scene: The scene outside the plant and Janeway's quote despite the risks "I am a hostage, these men are here to break into the plant." THAT'S BALLS!!! - 2 points.
Interesting fact : The aliens' race in this is never mentioned.
Rating: 3 (Chris S)

Time and Again Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Unfortunately, this episode is all kinds of pointless. Ostensibly, we have a prime directive ethics lesson wrapped up inside a time travel paradox. We start off at the extreme edge of prime directive morality --- a pre-warp civilization has apparently destroyed itself one day in the past. However, when Captain Janeway and Tom Paris are transported back in time a day prior to the accident, Janeway argues firmly that they must not interfere. Paris doesn’t know why that should be and Janeway doesn’t really make her case. Is she enforcing the prime directive because she understands the ethics or has the Federation’s philosophy become a religion? (Tom even describes the almost religious ritual his father used to perform annually in deference to the prime directive.) This is obviously an extreme prime directive scenario and the opportunity to discuss its ethical implications was essentially squandered.
In any event, the question of violating the prime directive was moot, because it eventually turns out that the planet’s destruction actually resulted from Voyager’s attempt to rescue Janeway and Paris. B’Elanna apparently caused the destruction by ripping open a hole in subspace within a "polaric energy" power plant. This is particularly foolish on her part because she actually is attempting to open the hole at the place and time she knows is ground zero for the accident. Even if she didn’t anticipate that her activity was potentially the cause (because the time paradox here is somewhat silly), she might at least have worried that the polaric explosion itself could make its way through the rift and disintegrate members of the rescue away team.
When Janeway corrects the error by using her phaser to seal B’Elanna’s rift, she and Tom are not trapped in the past. Instead, everything is returned as if the whole pointless episode never happened --- and, indeed, it essentially did not happen, except that Kes retains some sort of psychic memory of the event. But in what timeline did B’Elanna ever create a rift that Janeway failed to seal? The only reason B’Elanna plowed forward was because Kes had a psychic awareness that Janeway had died at the source of the accident. And, being at the accident, Janeway immediately saw that the problem was the subspace rift. How do we account for a scenario where the rift would appear when Janeway was not there to seal it? In other words, the accident whose results led Voyager to the planet could never have occurred and, indeed, never did occur.
Remarkable quote: "It seems I've found myself on a voyage of the damned." -The Doctor
Rating: 3 (John Hamer)

Time and Again Stardate not given: Janeway and Paris are trapped on a planet one day before its destruction they may, or may not, be the cause of.

Pretty heavy stuff from the point of view of just being the second episode of the series and already dealing heavily in predestination paradoxes and the annihilation of an entire civilisation. Predictably though, the latter isn't really focused upon too much and given what we see of the society in question, it's hard to REALLY root for anyone but Janeway and Paris to make it off the planet in one piece before it goes kaboom. Otherwise the only other central characters are a slightly annoying child who suspects Paris and Janeway of not being the travellers from another country they claim to be and a group of eco-terrorists/extremists/protesters out to do something with the power plant.
The plot involves the crew encountering a planet, the surface of which completely is destroyed by detonation of technobabble. Due to the nature of the explosion, subspace cracks open across the planet and Tom and Janeway fall through to find themselves trapped one day prior to the explosion. Seeking answers, they journey to the flashpoint of the explosion, where after a scuffle with security they are taken in by said terrorists/etc. and are accused of being government spies. The annoying child (who clearly has nothing better to do than follow around complete strangers) is captured also and the three are taken to the power station where the eco-group can carry out their plans. After Janeway revels their predicament to security Paris is shot trying to save the kid and Janeway goes into the station alone to confront the would-be saboteurs. Meanwhile the senior officers on Voyager are attempting to retrieve Janeway and Tom by means of a technobabble device, which they happened to have had lying around. Following B'Elanna's advice and the assistance of Kes, who is having telepathic images of the past, they also journey to the flashpoint in the present. After witnessing the subspace thing-a-mi-jig trying to retrieve her in the past in the power station, Janeway surmises that the retrieval effort is in fact the cause of the explosion. She fires her phaser into the subspace tear, sealing it and erasing all the events (Brannon Braga speak for 'hitting the reset button').
Essentially, a lot of the message about the dangers of power sources such as the polaric energy referenced here isn't dealt upon too much, of course it's as if the writers wanted to make an allegory towards the modern use of nuclear power, but considering it turns out the cause of the destruction isn't even the fault of these saboteurs, that message is pretty much irrelevant. Yes, nuclear power is fragile, and dangerous as we've seen in Chernobyl and this year (2011) in Japan, but considering the explosion is the fault of the away team and their device, the message about the dangers of such devices doesn't resonate. With the exception of the one accident referenced there wasn't too much of a problem with the technology being used and in all likelihood, there won't be again (it's not like many people were protesting its use now was there). Having the away team being the cause is also a slight annoyance given we never found out what the group who infiltrated the power station were trying to do in the first place. They clearly weren't in favour of it, but were they trying to shut down the plant? Destroy it? Sabotage it? I didn't expect to be privy to their plans, but I suppose the revelation of the away team being the cause of the incident suffices enough.
The paradox aspect is fascinating, and the ambiguous nature is also, as we watch the episode play out and the time count down till the final resolution made for exciting viewing.
As for the characters, like I said, it's hard to feel sorry for the people of the world when all we see of them are a group of saboteurs and a brat, though at least the latter's interaction with Tom is slightly humorous.
As for our main characters, Chuckles, Tuvok, Kim and Torres just go through the motions doing the routine rescue stuff we've seen a million times before and since, Kes' mental abilities are hinted at, and the exasperated Doctor has a couple of funny lines whilst analysing Kes' brain. Paris and Janeway's interactions on the planet are better, with Tom not happy about Janeway adhering to the Prime Directive initially in ordering him not to warn anyone of the catastrophe about to occur, and Janeway at least shows some good initiative and authority. And overall it's good to have these two interact, given Tom's rebellious history contrasting with Janeway's by the book principles.
So an overall decent episode. The stuff that happens on Voyager is paint by numbers stuff, but the plot on the planet was a bit more enjoyable, in spite of the spiritless and one dimensional characters.
Rating: 6 (Cameron)

Phage Stardate 48532.4: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Beware healthy folks, here come the Vidiians! Yes, the disease stricken folk and the second recurring villain race to appear in Voyager are introduced in this episode which is...ok. Just ok though. Granted, as with these early episodes it sets up a lot of recurring themes such as Neelix converting the Captains 'Private Dining Room' (were they planning on the Captain hosting the entire senior staff in such a LARGE "dining room" anyway?) into a galley, Kes donating her lung to Neelix and becoming the Doctor's assistant, and the Doctor, once more continuing to contemplate his existence and role on the ship. And yet again, Tom the 'walking hormone' is seen cracking onto Kes.
Plot: The crew are lured to what they believe to be a dilithium depository on a seemingly deserted planet, while on an away mission Neelix has his lungs removed, and the chase is on to find those that took them. Neelix of course struggles with being limited to a bio-bed in sick-bay with a pair of 'holo-lungs' breathing for him, until the Vidiians are caught, and through their miraculously superior knowledge they BOAST about, manage to transplant Kes' lungs into his and Voyager's off on their merry way...
But what about all that dilithium? What about B'Elanna's plans to build a makeshift refinery somewhere on ship? Not sure exactly if those 2 points are picked up in subsequent episodes, but it they were good ideas to bring up and it would be a shame if they were so quickly forsaken. And the Vidiians, of course Janeway muses over the morale of their plight but it's dealt with so quickly about 80% into the episode with hardly enough time to ponder about the ethics of their actions. Personally I question the Vidiians' existence entirely, it seems only through their technological "expertise" have these people managed to evade extinction, but at the cost of the lives of so many others, it's difficult to sympathise with them.
But the majority of the episode was spent dealing with Neelix, I wont take anything away cause Ethan Phillips put in a pretty good performance that was thankfully unlike his usual exuberance, but I think it would've been better had the Vidiian side of the story been expanded beyond the 2 scientists seen.
Remarkable foreshadowing: Complaining over the dullness of sickbay, Neelix asks the Doctor if he's programmed to sing, something he does far too often later in the series ;)
Remarkable quote: "If I ever encounter your kind again, I will do whatever is necessary to protect my people from this harvesting of yours. Any aggressive actions against this ship and its crew will be met by the deadliest force. Is that clear?" -Kathryn Janeway, telling Dereth and Motura to take a message to their people
Remarkable scene: The 'Hall of Mirrors' inside the asteroid, and usage of the Phasers to find the real Vidiian ship, an impressive sequence :D
Remarkable fact: The Phage had afflicted the Vidiian people for 2,000 years. It disrupts the genetic code of the host body, then proceeds to devour tissue and destroy cellular structures.
Rating: 5 (Cameron)

The Cloud Stardate 48546.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Yawn, it's a pleasant enough episode, and following the pilot and the action oriented episodes to have followed Caretaker ("Parallax", "Time and Again", "The Phage"), it's not much surprising that it was time for a breather. And the episode takes advantage of the slow pace, introducing Chakotay's 'animal guide' story, Tom Paris' oft-seen Chez Sandrine holodeck program, Janeway's unquenchable thirst for coffee, and Neelix taking on the role of 'Morale officer'.
Eh, I wouldn't begrudge the episode due to its unremarkableness, the plot's pretty Trek-like in story and spirit, what's thought to have been a nebula turns out to be a giant life form, and after punching a hole in it trying to recover omicron particles or something, the crew set out to kiss its boo-boo better. Awww, how sweet, no sarcasm there either, it's a good message the episode conveys, even as pointed out by Janeway in the end, the ship's dwindling power was further expended in the process.
A gripe would definitely be the technobabble, I forgot to mention in my review of the episode Parallax the 'dechyon beam' to help the ship escape from the anomaly, and again another miracle beam is used as the deus ex machina here as a nucleonic radiation beam to help stitch up the creature's wound. It was particularly annoying whenever this sort of technobabble was used in a crunch by La Forge in TNG, and my feelings hadn't changed. Fair enough, it's the future, it's an alien life form, there's advanced, alien-inspired technology being used, but for it to pop up like that, eh, I didn't like it.
Remarkable error: Not that it counts, but this is the first instance where Voyager fires off its first of supposedly 38 irreplaceable photon torpedoes. As illustrated in great detail on this very website, we discover that number was subject to nearly triple at series end ;)
Remarkable scene: On the bridge, while Janeway, Chakotay, Torres and Tuvok are at Tactical analysing some screens after muting the condescending Doctor, watch him in the background as he appears, frustrated at the ignorance on the main viewer.
Remarkable foreshadowing: The Doc is a double offender here, first theorising that he might program himself a family after B'Elanna suggests he could be capable of that and more. This happens in 'Real Life' in Season 3. Also, the first mention of Doctor Zimmerman is made, he's noted to be stationed on Jupiter Station and looks 'alot' like the Doctor. When a hologram and the real Zimmerman appear in later episodes, he is played by Robert Picardo.
Rating: 4 (Cameron)

Eye of the Needle Stardate 48579.4: Synopsis in main VOY listing

From the heights of euphoria to the depths of despair, this is quite possibly the first of many 'kick them when they're down' episodes which deals with the possibility of Voyager returning home yet brutally tearing away all possibilities by episodes end. Of course it wasn't going to happen this early in the series, but with some clever writing the episode wasn't completely predictable.
Voyager comes across a small wormhole, 30cm's across so too small to fly through. After technobabbling a probe through, contact is made with the captain on a science vessel in the Alpha Quadrant. A Romulan.
First off Vaughn Armstrong is quite excellent as Telek R'Mor. Again he shows that even with a small role a memorable character is created and his performance of the lonely captain who has left behind his family in favour of duty is sympathetic, and that is reflected in his sympathy towards the crew of Voyager. And it's another slight at the chief writing team on Voyager that a character who only made one appearance on this show for about half the episode's length put in a better performance than certain members of the principle cast. But that's irrelevant and certainly not applicable to Kate Mulgrew who also does a great job in this episode balancing between an authoritarian presence in trying to make every effort to help her crew, and sincerity in trying to convince R'Mor to help her despite his misgivings about Starfleet.
The crew ask of R'Mor to transmit personal letter to the Alpha Quadrant which he agrees to do so, however after experimenting on whether a person can be carried through the wormhole via a transporter beam, (see how easy I made that sound as opposed to the long winded explanation given in the episode?) we find that R'Mor is in fact from the year 2351. As the crew cannot return to the Alpha Quadrant through the transporter method (and the logistics of doing such would be enormous would they now, and would a Romulan ship even agree to such a proposal despite R'Mor's opinion on the situation? I doubt it!), again they ask R'Mor to relay personal messages to Starfleet.
And again the boot is laid in as Tuvok tells Janeway R'Mor dies in 2367, 4 years before Voyager was pulled into the Delta Quadrant.
The tragedy behind this episode is ok. I appreciate that the whole situation didn't turn out for the best and no easy way was taken out. Not even B'Elanna sounded convinced when offering up the explanation that R'Mor may have charged someone else with the duty of transmitting the messages in the event of his death. The technobabble again is an irritation, more simple terms could be used to explain what's going on, I did it just in my review now, but that's an infamous part of Trek we have to accept.
The B-Story is focused on the Doctor's development as a member of the crew, an arrogant redshirt complains of injuries brought on by exercise and only acknowledges Kes whilst the Doctor treats him in a rare showing of human discrimination in the Trek universe (A certain Dr McCoy's racist ramblings aside). Kes brings this up with Janeway who points out he's just a piece of machinery not worthy of acceptance by the crew of who he is (obviously she hasn't heard of Data), and who also reveals the consideration of reprogramming him to be more cooperative. Thankfully though Kes' remark of how just because he's a hologram means he's excused from even common consideration catches Janeway's tongue, and she offers the Doctor the opportunity to activate and deactivate himself and become a more autonomous member of the crew.
A very character driven episode let down a little by technobabble, but at least it wasn't afraid to take the soft road of resolution like so many other Voyager episodes would do later in the series (I'm thinking crap like "Pathfinder" or any other episode involving Barclay).
Rating: 8 (Cameron)

Ex Post Facto Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

It feels like déjà vu all over again... the premise is astoundingly similar to TNG's "A Matter of Perspective", the horny Starfleet rogue engages in an affair with the wife of an alien scientist whom the Federation crew is collaborating with on new technology, however, it ends in the murder of the scientist in question and the Starfleet officer is the prime suspect.
But where the holodeck was used in the aforementioned TNG episode to exonerate Riker, Tuvok steps in to perform one of many 'detective' roles which is what makes this episode enjoyable. His 'invitation' for all key players to rendezvous at the scene of the crime to explain Paris' innocence, which was part of a larger plot in the war between the Numiri and the Baneans (who convicted Paris), was very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. And it wasn't like any really hokey plot devices were used in the end to wrap up the story nicely, the clues were planted from the start of the episode, and what you'd think were pointless B-Stories (the Numiri), end up vital components of the crime.
The pacing made the episode seem to fly by and before I knew it, it was over, but I enjoyed it very much. And the final scene in which Paris thanks Tuvok and tells him he's made a friend was nice for what it was worth, though we don't see the pair interact that much over the course of the series.
Remarkable fact: This was the first episode of Voyager to be directed by LeVar Burton, aka Geordi La Forge. He would later direct Voyager episodes; "Dreadnought", "The Raven", "Timeless", "Live Fast and Prosper", "Nightingale", "Q2" and "Homestead".
Remarkable fact #2: Tuvok reveals he has been married for sixty-seven years, placing his wedding in 2304.
Rating: 7 (Cameron)

Emanations Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

It's another "let's kill Kim" episode that achieves nothing and goes nowhere. An alien culture utilises spatial wormholes to deposit their dead or dying or those who want to die inside asteroids surrounding a far away planet. The race however believes that the device allows their species to enter the next realm of consciousness, whilst on an away mission to investigate mineral deposits on an asteroid, Kim is taken to the alien world where he's greeted as a member of the afterlife realm. He in turn encounters a man who has been put in the position where his family made the decision to put him through this procedure (forced euthanisation?), and after telling Kim how he'd rather live out the rest of his life without being a burden to his family, Kim adopts his ceremonial death robes (sounds like a heavy metal band) and takes his place inside the pod which kills him and sends him to Voyager (where other bodies have been winding up, being attracted to the warp core, whatever) where he is revived.
Boring. I liked the alien guest stars of the week here, with the poor guy on the alien planet, Hatil, who was forced into this procedure as his family feel he is too great a burden due to a leg injury, much like a race horse being put down after breaking a leg it's not a good reflection on this culture and his wife's words of love don't ring true when we see her. I'm happy for him that he manages to escape the center in which he was staying in preparation for the procedure and live out the rest of his life in relative happiness. The other alien is worse off, a body beamed back from the initial away mission in which Harry was taken is that of an alien woman who is revived and horrified to discover the truth about what happens to her people after death. In the end, she too meets the same fate as a cobbled together plan is poorly executed to return her to her homeworld whilst trying to retrieve Kim. The planning of this looked bad and it seemed rushed and as such a failure even though I'm sure at that stage the crew knew how often the spatial wormholes were opening. There was ample time to plan it better than that, and Ptera (her name) is collateral damage.
Refreshingly the few other aliens we encounter aren't completely evil and belligerent in their beliefs, a scientists who studies death, Neria at first gave me the impression he was going to be completely inconsiderate of Kim's plight but he seemed more open to the possibilities of helping him, well, that's the impression I got anyway as opposed to the usual routine or 'capture and threaten' that we normally get from these sorts of characters.
Nothing special, what we're left with is just the usual ambiguity regarding death, Janeway theorises that radiant energy from the corpses of these aliens emanates around the planet the asteroids orbit which was SOME small consolation for the aliens on the planet, but this was pretty much forgettable, much like most Kim episodes are.
And speaking of Kim, I didn't mind Garrett Wang's performance in this episode, he took initiative as best as Kim could in this situation, but should have been more categorical about where the came from to dissuade these people that he was in fact from the afterlife. Common sense would have been to explain he was pulled from an asteroid to a planet, not through some dimensional shift or whatever.
Rating: 2 (Cameron)

Prime Factors Stardate 48642.5: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Wow, I was expecting a very dull and boring episode again featuring the run of the mill 'aliens with an agenda' plot but what I got was far greater and in fact one of the better episodes of the early stages of this series.
Essentially this plot deals with the Prime Directive from an opposing point of view. This doctrine has popped up for a long time now in TOS and TNG, and will again show up in Voyager many times and more often than not will highlight the hypocrisy of Janeway in how she deals with it in relation to her crew (and I'm sure I've covered this in my reviews for such episodes on this website). An alien culture greets Voyager and offers shore leave for the crew on their hospitable planet. A hot alien chick and Kim use a transportation device to travel 40,000 light years from their planet, presenting the crew with an opportunity to get home, however Sikarian law forbids the sharing of technology with alien species much like the Prime Directive does for the Federation and by de facto, Starfleet.
What follows is the dilemma presented to Janeway on how to next proceed and the plot also focuses on B'Elanna, both women determined to get their crew home and how to do as such. Janeway willing to negotiate with the Sikarian government whilst, through Kim's discovery of an insider willing to trade the technology for a collection of Federation literature, B'Elanna is torn between doing as such and obeying Janeway's orders not to interfere.
There is a great supporting role by Martha Hackett here as Seska who pushes B'Elanna to going through the plan under Janeway's nose, whilst Hogan is a welcome inclusion in the plan to illustrate that it wasn't just Maquis who wanted to get home so badly.
In the end the Sikarians never had any interest in helping the crew, and, in a very well thought out twist I believe, Tuvok decides to exchange the literature for the device, which ultimately fails.
As said I expected something worse and instead this was probably one of the best written and acted episodes of Season 1. The guest race of the week was, a little shallow, being a people only concerned with pleasure, but with different facets of their society represented it was a refreshing change from the usually one dimensional society we're presented with more often than not. Kate Mulgrew again is impressive, and the final scene in which she shakes down B'Elanna and Tuvok was brilliantly acted. The revelation that Tuvok was going to make the trade was quite surprising though, as he himself had said, was a logical choice. Clearly Janeway was not going to compromise her principles and in the end he decided that for the sake of the crew, he should be the one to attempt to bring them home. The needs of the many.
So quite surprising quality, I give it an 8.
Rating: 8 (Cameron)

State of Flux Stardate 48658.2 : Synopsis in main VOY listing

"State of Flux" begins the 9-episode long arc spanning the deception of Seska. Oh, spoiler alert (even though I totally gave that revelation away in an earlier episode, oh well), but the way the episode plays out the deception isn't ENTIRELY clear till the end where Seska monologues about the failings of Janeway's policies of non-involvement in the politics of the Delta Quadrant (and right on I might add, I've never had much objection to the idea of lending the Kazon some replicators, which could be easily modified to NOT produce weaponry, which was Janeway's chief fear. In any other one off episode where a particular race was suffering, I half thought Janeway would have flipped flopped as stumbling upon their situation meant they were 'already involved' (one of her key phrases for excusing her poor decisions).
But this episode is less about that and your standard mystery fair in trying to determine who the traitor amongst the crew is after it's discovered a piece of Federation technology exploded aboard a Kazon vessel, killing all but one crew member. Another Kazon ship approaches (marking recurring villain Maje Culluh's first appearance), and the surviving crewman is killed by the Kazon. With only two suspects though regarding the Federation technology, Carey (who I incorrectly referred to as Hogan in a previous review, oops), and Seska. And in the end there's little doubt who it was, there's a small scene in which Chakotay and Tuvok tell both suspects about a key piece of evidence to expose the traitor, and even though it was obvious, Seska is the traitor.
She monologues, as said, and beams aboard a Kazon vessel.
Well, I THINK it was ok, not exactly memorable. There's a revelation that Chakotay and Seska were once romantically linked, but with all things Voyager there was nothing to indicate that before (Martha Hackett even admitting that it was something thought up only for this episode) but at least in SOME way it will be referred to again in the 2nd Season episode "Maneuvers". Her being a Cardassian as well, well I have mixed feelings about that, dare I say it's even slightly racist. It doesn't serve much purpose than to make Chakotay look like an idiot who couldn't tell who was who in amongst his own crew. Her being a Bajoran and a traitor would have worked just as well and been just as, if not slightly more shocking to have turned her back on Voyager. It seems like the decision was made to make her Cardassian to really hammer home her being a villain, but it just wasn't completely necessary.
So to begin this long arc it wasn't too bad, just lacking in excitement and it took a while to get around to the obvious revelation at the end of the episode. Another great performance by Martha Hackett though.
Rating: 5 (Cameron)

Heroes and Demons Stardate 48693.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

The first of many silly holodeck/Doctor romps wasn't quite a bad one, I think it sort of dragged in the first half and only once the crew realised they were dealing with a sentient life form that they pissed off by 'kidnapping' members of their crew at the start of the episode, that any sort of focus is taken, instead of the ambiguity of the creature and the fate of the crew. The holodeck side of it is fun in places, it's a bit surreal seeing the out of place Doctor being cheered on as Schweitzer (the name of choice for the Doctor), enjoying a leg of deer while bragging about combating a virus, baffling the Viking characters. Not surprisingly the holodeck characters are one-dimensional, but I was happy with the Freya character, yes she was very easy on the eyes, but for what a small part she played, it was a little influential on the Doctor, with her dying for him, and the reaction from the Doctor was great, nearly killing Unferth in a pensive anger.
Can't say the plot aboard Voyager was too interesting, just a lot of technobabble and Starfleet incompetence (which I'll get to in a moment), missing Tuvok, Chakotay and Kim didn't help either I thought. A fun episode, but nothing remarkable.
Remarkable incompetence: B'Elanna and Tom set about to 'replicate' the same kind of creature in Engineering as the one terrorising the holodeck and they don't think to put a forcefield in place? I was almost hoping the creature upon escaping would damage some vital system just to show was a mistake it was not taking what one would think to have been a simple precaution.
Remarkable hairdo: This is also the first of many of Janeway's ever changing hairstyles, with Mulgrew sporting her natural hair in this episode, which was apparently difficult to maintain.
Remarkable dialogue: "I wont forget you." - "Then I die happy." -The Doctor to Freya, awwwww :(
Rating: 5 (Cameron)

Cathexis Stardate 48734.2 : Synopsis available in VOY episode listing page.

Well, well, well it's TNG: "Lonely Among Us" all over again, more non-corporeal life forms taking over crewmen for nefarious purposes. Well, not like we knew about till the last few minutes of this episode, in which the majority is spent by the senior crew acting paranoid and not helping the by speaking in low, dulcet tones reflecting the sinister atmosphere of the ship at the time. Yeah, not very exciting, we already had a plot about crewmen going MIA thanks to alien life in the previous episode "Heroes and Demons", so it's a bit of a shame they had to recycle the story again, injecting some action into it and just changing the motives of the alien life in question.
One thing about Janeway, I'm a bit disappointed in the first appearance of her favoured holoprogram as Ms. Davenport, basically a 19th century nanny to a widower entrusted with caring for his children, maybe I'm too much of a sensitive new age guy, but I wouldn't have expected the captain of a Starship, let alone the first woman captain so heavily featured, to have wanted to undertake such a sexist and somewhat demeaning role in her spare time, it just reflects poorly on her character. But that's only my opinion.
There's a surprising moment with the Doctor I liked, B'Elanna adorning the head of Chakotay's bio bed with a Native American medicine wheel and using it to 'guide' his spirit or something, it was funny to see the Doctor's scoffing and eye-rolling weren't that of a sceptic amused by primitive hocus pocus, but his knowledge of the wheel as a form of medicine was in fact superior to B'Elanna's.
Rating: 2 (Cameron)

Faces Stardate 48784.2 : Synopsis in main VOY listing

Well, perhaps another missed opportunity but at least if the episode played out the way that would have REALLY taken a chance then Roxann Dawson would've been exhausted come the end of the second season let alone the end of the series itself.
Evil mad scientist stereotype #488, this time in the form of a Vidiian surgeon named Sulan genetically alters B'Elanna which splits her into both a human and Klingon counterpart. The science is shaky like San Francisco at best and a catastrophe at worst, I wont even bother going into it. B'Elanna, Paris, and disposable Goldshirt Durst are on an away mission in some caves, suitably understaffed and (I would assume) totally unarmed with no way of escape (there's no mention of a shuttle being used to get them down there, they were beamed down and left ON THEIR OWN whilst Voyager was light years away, OOPS) are taken captive by Vidiians and, as said, Torres is worked on whilst Paris and Durst are forced to work in caves.
Sulan is convinced that Klingon DNA is strong enough to resist the Phage and it appears to be successful, however Klingon Torres clearly doesn't want to stay confined, she breaks free and rescues Human Torres.
A pretty stock standard Starfleet hostage plot, which we've seen alot. Roxann Dawson does a great job though in this episode portraying the (unfortunately clichéd) Klingon version of herself, and the more vulnerable human variant. Of course there's the other usual tropes like Chakotay disguising himself as a Vidiian, an improbable transport through a microfissure, it doesn't really make up for the only good aspect of this aspect which was Dawson's performance, and as I said at the start of the review, it would've been a big chance to take not to redo the surgery to piece both halves together, to try and allow these two new characters evolve, but thinking about it now, pretty much all the character development for both was present in this episode, human B'Elanna becomes more confident, and Klingon B'Elanna...well Klingon B'Elanna does was pretty much every other generic Klingon does, talk about honour, insult people and die an 'honourable death'. Guess no more could have REALLY been achieved by keeping them apart, but in true Voyager style this episode wont really have much of an effect on B'Elanna, and alot of her issues arising later in the series have little to do with THIS episode, and more to do with her father. But that's another episode. Gets what points it does for Roxann Dawson, otherwise a totally disposable episode.
Remarkable scene: Sulan confronting Klingon Torres with Durst's freshly grafted face on. Creepy.
Rating: 3 (Cameron)

Jetrel Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

I think this episode is probably one of the better ones of the first season. While the action level never reaches an all time high like Caretaker, the episode is the really the first major glimpse into Neelix's past. I also appreciated the indirect references to the dropping of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima in this episode (For those of you out there that aren't history buffs, when Neelix is describing what the explosion of the Metreon cascade looked like, that is almost a direct quote from a Hiroshima survivor!).
Remarkable fact: The punishment for not reporting to duty on Talax for military service is death.
Rating: 8 (Norm)

Jetrel Stardate 48832.1: Synopsis in main VOY listing

A very dark tale of redemption and forgiveness which shows a side of Neelix which wasn't seen often enough. Good performances from Ethan Phillips and James Sloyan in the titular role of Dr. Jetrel, Haakonian scientist whose biological weapon was used to kill 300, 000 Talaxians during the war between the two races, out to find a cure for persistent damage cause by Metreon Radiation exposure. Janeway is also refreshing in her position, not as one who would've been condescending towards Jetrel, she mediates well between he and Neelix, who himself is wrestling with his demons, as it's revealed he was no soldier during the war, but a coward in his own eyes. Thankfully the episode doesn't end on a dour note considering the subject matter, with Neelix forgiving Jetrel as he lay on his deathbed. A very good episode however.
Remarkable oversight: Voyager enters the Talax system and there's no more mention of it beyond Rinax and the small scene where Neelix reminisces about the moment it was bombarded with the metreon Cascade. Why not some elaboration? Talax may have remained under Haakonian control but wow, it certainly felt brushed over well enough.
Remarkable quote: "But let me tell you another story. A man goes back to Rinax after the cascade, back to what had been his home, to look for survivors... but the impact of the blast has set off hundreds of fires, and there’s nothing there -- just smoldering ruins and the stench of seared flesh. In the distance, in the middle of all that emptiness, from out of this huge cloud of billowing dust, he can see bodies moving, whimpering, coming toward him. They’re monsters -- their flesh horribly charred, the color of shale. One of them comes toward him, mangled arms outstretched, and he can’t help it -- he turns away, frightened. But then the thing speaks, and he knows by the sound of her voice that she’s not a monster at all, but a child, a little girl... Her name was Palaxia. We brought her back to Talax with the other survivors. Over the next few weeks, I stayed at her bedside, and watched her wither away." -Neelix
Rating: 8 (Cameron)

Learning Curve Stardate 48846.5: Synopsis in main VOY listing

And the recurring themes with TNG continue, only now Voyager takes on addressing the long overdue issue of the Maquis crew on board, and after a season of anomalies, random alien encounters, major character stories and holodeck related malfunctions, it did seem almost a non-issue come this episode, which shouldn't have been a good thing, and the ending is not satisfactory.
For the record, it felt like "Lower Decks" was the Next Generation episode in question being mirrored here, where we witness 3 low ranked crewmen reacting to the situation brought upon them by the senior officers, and their story is more prominent than what was happening on the bridge and throughout the ship. In this case, the bio-neural gel packs (which got a little explanation on how they worked but wasn't elaborated quite enough I thought) malfunctioning throughout the ship causing havoc, the cause basically turning out to be cheese in the Mess Hall which had infected the ship.
The Maquis story was interesting though and it had to have been addressed at some stage, even if the characters were somewhat cliché, the leader of the group, Dalby, of course has a sad story to tell involving evil Cardassians spurring him onto the patch of vengeance explaining why he joined the Maquis (I do wonder what a presumably Human was doing on the 'Bajoran Frontier' though). There's also the irritable Bolian, quiet, reserved young Bajoran, and another human. The latter three don't have much part to play though.
But after physical training and testing by Tuvok (involving tedious polishing of the transporter pads which would've taken a ridiculous amount of time better spent on more important activities) designed to shape the Maquis into model officers seemingly fails, the compromise is reached in the end, in which due to the failure of the gel-packs, the cargo bay in which the 5 characters are in floods with poison gas, Tuvok gambles in attempting to rescue the young Bajoran crewman, against protocol. He explains that his time spent with the Maquis had inspired him to 'bend' to the established rules (referencing a conversation with Neelix), and as a result, Dalby rationalises that if Tuvok can learn to bend the rules, he and his fellow Maquis can learn to follow them. Sorry, but that was just too cosy not too mention cheesy (no pun intended) a route to take in trying to dispose of what should've been a more ongoing problem on the ship, and I actually thought the B-story was a little better. And once again I was frustrated by another rolling credits appearing on screen with Voyager warping off into the distance, after the problems on the ship for the episode and the training, I was expecting at least ONE more scene to tie everything up a little neater.
Remarkable quote: "Get the cheese to sickbay!" -B'Elanna.
Rating: 4 (Cameron)

 


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