Star Trek Voyager (VOY) Season 2

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

The 37's - Initiations - Projections - Elogium - Non Sequitur - Twisted - Parturition
Persistence of Vision - Tattoo - Cold Fire - Maneuvers - Resistance - Prototyp
 Alliances - Threshold - Meld - Dreadnought - Death Wish - Lifesigns - Investigations
Deadlock - Innocence - The Thaw - Tuvix - Resolutions - Basics I/II

 

The 37's

Synopsis

Stardate 48975.1: Voyager discovers an ancient automobile from Earth adrift in space, and picks up an old SOS signal coming from a nearby planet. Janeway decides to land the ship, since it is not possible to beam down or use shuttles. Inside a cave, the crew finds several stasis chambers with humans and revives them. Among them is flight pioneer Amelia Earhart, who mysteriously vanished in 1937. Suddenly the away team is attacked. But the attackers turn out to be human settlers, who live on the planet. Their ancestors were abducted by the Briori centuries ago just like Earhart and the other "37's", but eventually expelled their captors in a rebellion. Janeway leaves it to the crew to join the human civilization on the planet or return to the ship. Eventually all crew members decide to continue the journey home.

Commentary

I have reservations against Star Trek stories that blend in urban myths or conspiracy theories. Fortunately, when I first watched this episode, I had not seen or read any spoilers, and so I could enjoy it unbiased. Because it is a great story, and Voyager's best one so far besides the pilot. In many ways the theme is reminiscent of TNG: "The Neutral Zone". But I don't mind the similarities, because "The 37's" corrects some grave mistakes of the TNG episode. Most importantly Voyager's crew treats the people from the 20th century with the respect they deserve, and not like the cavemen that Picard saw in them. We only have to wonder if the "37's" had received the same degree of attention if not Amelia Earhart had been among them. Well, and while the chemistry between Kate Mulgrew and guest star Sharon Lawrence as Amelia Earhart works very well and bears importance for the story, I think that the mutual admiration and pleasantries of the two women are a bit overdone.

Overall, this story plays very nice anyway. There are no conflicts with the sole exception of the initial confrontation with the human settlers that lasts only two or three minutes. I think that, as a two-part episode, "The 37's" would have been a perfect season 1 finale and season 2 premiere. I would have liked to see something of the human cities. I would have liked to see Janway in doubt about her mission to return to the Alpha Quadrant at any cost. I would have liked to see conflicts among the crew about whether to stay or to leave. I would have liked to see Amelia Earhart fly the ship. I would have liked to see some sort of love affair, maybe Paris falling in love with a resident beauty. And perhaps it should have been criticized at one point in the story that the humans were unnecessarily cruel when they expelled the Briori (which will become a topic in an otherwise similar story in ENT: "North Star"). There was so much potential for more. Anyway, the episode is only 45 minutes long, of which not a single moment is wasted.

Coming back to my general apprehension, in "The 37's" Star Trek deals with the otherwise popular "alien abduction" theme for the very first time, and I appreciate that it is not mystified like in other sci-fi and mystery series. There is a perfectly rational explanation for everything, although we are not shown any traces of the Briori.

The most important outcome of the episode in my view is that Voyager has become to a hospitable place since the ship first arrived in the Delta Quadrant. No one leaves the ship despite the prospect of a pleasant life on the Briori planet. The crew makes a conscious and unanimous decision to continue the journey, unlike the one that Janeway made for the whole crew in "Caretaker". This should boost morale for the rest of the journey, however long it takes.

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Initiations

Synopsis

Stardate 49005.3: Chakotay is alone on a shuttle when he is suddenly attacked by a small Kazon vessel. Chakotay manages to outmaneuver and destroy the attacking vessel and rescues its pilot, a teenage Kazon boy named Kar, who was attempting to earn his name in battle. The two are captured by the Kazon-Ogla, however. On the Kazon ship, First Maje Razik wants Chakotay to execute Kar for his failure. But Chakotay points the gun at Razik and escapes together with Kar. The two have to abandon the heavily damaged shuttle and beam themselves onto the surface of a moon that serves as a Kazon training ground. In the meantime Janeway has arrived with an away team, but Razik and his people lure them into a trap and find Chakotay and the boy first. Chakotay gives Kar the chance to earn Razik's respect by shooting at him in the front of Razik. Kar, however, chooses to kill Razik instead, thereby earning his Ogla name.

Commentary

"Iniiations" comes with a good deal of action, but I don't find this episode very compelling, although I can't tell exactly why. Maybe it's the repeated theme of Chakotay saving Kar's life and of the two running away. Maybe it's because Chakotay's composure and preachiness and Kar's sometimes overplayed defiance remain invariable throughout almost the complete episode and become bothersome after a while.

While I don't like Chakotay (in this episode) and Kar so much as single characters, their interaction works well though, just because Chakotay is so imperturbable that he finally manages to evoke some change in Kar. Chakotay probably isn't sure in the end whether he should rather congratulate Kar for having earned his name, or whether he should be sorry for an unnecessary death. For Chakotay the story has a satisfactory outcome because his efforts to save Kar and himself (in this order?) were successful, but it certainly isn't a peaceful one because Kar has made the first step to rise the ranks in the Ogla hierarchy, thanks to the Starfleet officer with an even clearer concept of friends and enemies than before. Chakotay would have preferred to convince the boy to leave the Kazon (a bit like Picard initially tried in TNG: "Suddenly Human"), but I think that goal was an unrealistic one in the first place.

Rather than the action, I like how the story provides insight into the Kazon culture. The people in charge of Voyager tried hard to establish differences between the Kazon and their much better known cousins from the Alpha Quadrant, the Klingons. I think they finally managed in this story to give them disctinctiveness. The Kazon don't have a tradition as a proud warrior race; they were slaves of the Trabe until 26 years ago and they must still try to find their way. The Kazon have not managed to build anything like an empire; they are composed of various sects that fight each other and whose territorial claims change every day. And perhaps most notably, the Kazon idea of "honor" is a rather crude one. Kar has to kill an enemy to earn his name. Bad enough, but the enemy may be even his own maje, or is it only the gratitude of the new maje why it is accepted in his case? Anyway, the Kazon leave anything but a distinguished impression, which ultimately sets them apart from the Klingons.

Annotations

Rating: 4

 

Projections

Synopsis

Stardate 48892.1: When the Doctor is activated during a Kazon attack, he discovers that he can bleed and experience pain, as if he were a real human being, whereas the other crew members seem to be projections. Lt. Barclay from the Jupiter Station tells the Doctor he is actually Lewis Zimmerman, a human trapped in his holodeck creation of a starship named Voyager. On the real starship Voyager, the crew succeed in retrieving the Doctor, who was trapped on the holodeck and suffering hallucinations after a computer malfunction.

Commentary

Unusual situations, sudden twists, unexpected revelations. That is what I always like to see and what this episode has plenty of. The ingenious story entirely focuses on the Doctor. Other crew members have only a few lines, if any. It is not a deficiency, though The beginning points to a rather conventional plot. There must have been a sort of attack, and the Doctor doesn't manage to contact the other crew members. Fortunately this is not the case, but it takes a while before this first turning point is reached. The first hint that something is not right comes when there is suddenly a projection system in other rooms besides sickbay. The second one is the Kazon who intruded the mess hall. How could he enter the ship, and if he managed to do so, why are there no other Kazons? The third hint is the most definite one: The Doctor starts bleeding and feeling pain, although it is not part of his program. Actually, the Doctor is supposed to be a real human, Lewis Zimmerman, and Lt. Barclay (Dwight Schultz) tries hard to convince him. It was worth while to get him for a guest appearance, and even a bit ironic, since Barclay was the one who had severe problems with illusion and reality in TNG: "Hollow Pursuits". I loved the flashback to "Caretaker" that was skillfully inserted into the episode, without requiring a time travel or another strange phenomenon. 

Another nice idea was to make Kes his wife, possibly reflecting the Doctor's wishes at that time. What if all the formerly real persons are actually holograms and vice versa? For some time, one could really believe that the whole Voyager story is only a holodeck program, similar as it would be done again in DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars". The episode also reminded me of Riker's weird experience in TNG: "Frame of Mind". In a manner of speaking, the resolution is similar, since the difference between the manipulation of a human mind and of a computer program is not that big. Chakotay's appearance marks the second turning point. Just when the Doctor is almost convinced that he is Lewis Zimmerman, he suddenly faces another, equally probable explanation.

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Elogium

Synopsis

Stardate 48921.3: The presence of space-dwelling life forms causes Kes to enter a premature elogium, the Ocampa maturation process. It is the only phase in her short lifespan to conceive a child, and Neelix is accordingly under pressure too. But her elogium turns out to be a false alarm. In the meantime, Voyager has to deal with the creatures that obviously mistake the ship for a mating partner, and the situation is resolved by mimicking a gesture of humility.

Commentary

I just don't like this episode, and it has been my least favorite for some time. Agreed, we learn a great deal about Kes and about the Ocampa life. Yet, at some point it's not interesting any more to see Kes' continuous suffering of stomach ache and various other side effects of her elogium. It is not credible anyway that such a hurry is necessary. I wonder how the Ocampa civilization can survive if their women live only 9 years, have only one phase of fertility and one pregnancy, if any. All Ocampa should be twins - at the very least. Considering that it would be more complicated in Kes' case anyway, since her mating partner would be a Talaxian, why doesn't the Doctor just combine their DNA in vitro? After all we're in the 24th century. Moreover, it is quite obvious that the act of begetting wouldn't have been pleasant, let alone romantic anyway. The only good point is that the general question of children on board is discussed, and - what a coincidence - at the end of the episode Ensign Wildman tells Janeway of her pregnancy. The secondary plot with the space whales - it reminded me too much of TNG: "Galaxy's Child" and there was nothing new about it.

Annotations

Rating: 1

 

Non Sequitur

Synopsis

Stardate 49011.0: After a shuttle accident Harry finds himself in San Francisco, in bed with his fiancée Libby. He is in a parallel reality where Voyager has disappeared without him, and he has developed a new type of runabout. Although his situation is rather pleasant, he decides to correct history. Harry finds support in an alien being responsible for the temporal accident and in Tom, who missed the ship in this reality. In their effort to revert history to the one that Kim remembers, they steal a runabout prototype and head for the anomaly that caused the timeline change. They succeed when Tom beams out Harry just as the runabout is breaking apart. Harry is in the Delta Quadrant again and rescued by Voyager. 

Commentary

What would you do if you suddenly got the life you have always dreamt of, but on the cost of other people's well-being? Harry is very concerned about it, and he doesn't choose the easy way to live on his new pleasant life. By the way, would it really have been that easy, taking into account that he has hardly an idea of what he's supposed to do in this reality, namely designing starship engines? Aside from these fascinating thoughts the episode is rather average, it seems to be written and directed with the idea in mind that Harry's odd situation alone should make a good plot. The alien disguised as coffee-house waiter Cosimo is a nice guy, however, is he necessary for the story? He doesn't really help Kim, nor could he have expected to be useful. The whole alien influence could have been easily left out.

There are also some logical deficiencies. First of all, how can Harry become a warp nacelle expert and earn the Cochrane Medal only eight months after leaving the Academy? Secondly, what is so exciting about the new runabout albeit being virtually identical to the Danube class? The dialogues state that it's much more than only the nacelles. Thirdly, how can there be already a prototype in such a short time and why didn't they just present the prototype itself to the admirals, rather than only blueprints? It wouldn't have mattered, the two could have taken any other shuttle, so why do they bother to steal the Yellowstone class? Still, seeing Harry with his girl-friend in San Francisco and getting some rare insight into the life in the Federation compensates a lot for the lack of plot quality.

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

Twisted

Synopsis

Stardate not given: The crew think they are getting mad when corridors on the ship disappear or change their direction, because an anomaly causes the ship to twist and bend. The distortion ring is getting closer and closer, until only the holodeck on deck 6 is unaffected. Having tried all conceivable counteractions, the only remaining possibility is to do nothing about it - the ship and crew remain unharmed by the anomaly that was caused by an unknown intelligent entity that attempted to scan the ship.

Commentary

I'm still undecided if this episode is mainly about the strange (and unexplained) effect that distorts the ship or about character development. Actually, the former plot is amusing for about 25 minutes, but after the first confusion there isn't much interesting about it left. This is why the rest of the episode seems to focus on character interaction. Virtually every crew member gets a few good scenes or lines, save Janeway who is knocked out by the strange (and unexplained) plasma wave. We never know who or what exactly caused the whole fuss. Maybe the crew would find out after analyzing the massive (and unexplained) computer upload. But irrespective of the way I look at it, this episode is well below average.

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

Parturition

Synopsis

Stardate not given: The two rivals Paris and Neelix, both in love with Kes, are stranded on a hostile planet after a shuttle crash. They seek shelter in a cave where they discover a nest of eggs. One of them breaks up apparently prematurely, revealing a reptohumanoid creature. Paris and Neelix learn to know each other better helping the newborn alien to survive until their mother arrives.

Commentary

The rivalry between Paris and Neelix is very childish, and I wonder how adult men can possibly behave like this. At some point I would have expected more of a plot than "Neelix's and Paris's pasta battle for Kes' love", but there is none. Both the shuttle crash and the new-born turtle serve the sole purpose of forcing the two opponents to work together and, more importantly, to engage in long and fatigue dialogues. Fortunately they are successful and a more serious discussion is enabled; they even build some kind of friendship. Actually, the only thing I liked about the episode is that it will have a lasting effect.

Annotations

Rating: 2

 

Persistence of Vision

Synopsis

Stardate not given: The whole crew except for the Doctor suffer from hallucinations induced by the Bothans in order to take over the ship. B'Elanna attempts to create a symmetric warp field to block out the psionic field that creates the illusions. Eventually Kes, who manages to defy the Bothan manipulation with her own mental powers, finishes the works and saves the ship, and the Bothans retreat.

Commentary

Hallucination is a recurring theme in Star Trek and it is mostly not very original, neither is the idea of an alien takeover. What remains interesting is some insight into the crew's fears and wishes. Janeway is chased by the characters from her Victorian holonovel - which I don't like at all - and meets boy-friend Mark. Paris sees his father, Kim his fiancée, Tuvok his wife. What I really like is that it is up to Kes to save the ship, with a little help from the Doctor. She has the potential to evolve from the little girl to a valuable crew member, and for once her superior abilities are to Voyager's advantage. Although it is obvious they wanted to take the ship, the Bothans remain somewhat mysterious. Maybe not a bad idea, since I'm tired of the type of villains whose motivation is either obvious or needs to be exhaustively explained by themselves.

Annotations

Rating: 4

 

Tattoo

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Investigating the occurrence of familiar symbols of American Indian origin on a planet in the Delta Quadrant, Chakotay is separated from the rest of the away team. Janeway takes the ship into the atmosphere to rescue Chakotay, but the ship gets caught in a storm. Chakotay encounters aliens, the "Sky Spirits" who once visited and taught his people, the "Rubber Tree People", but believed they had been extinguished by the white man by now. Chakotay tells them that Voyager means no harm to his culture, and the aliens release the ship.

Commentary

I like Indian culture in general and I'm also very glad every time I see a human crew member who is not of British or Irish origin. However, I have a couple of issues with the way Chakotay's cultural heritage is depicted. First of all, we have seen aliens preserve an Indian culture before in TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome". The revelation that still other aliens did care about Chakotay's people is neither original nor credible. Moreover, as the ancestors of present-day Indians started spreading throughout the American continent, they formed different tribes with considerably different cultures. How is it possible or how could the aliens expect that they would still form a monolithic culture after so many millennia, or that at least one among the thousands of tribes, namely the Rubber Tree People, would preserve exactly this culture? 

Yet, Chakotay obviously belongs to this "rightful tribe". I also wonder if Chakotay is supposed to belong to a real tribe at all. Star Trek has never tried to make up something in Earth's history or geography. Agreed, the Eugenic Wars didn't take place, but it is not like in other American TV series that frequently feature fake countries and peoples as playgrounds for their heroes. In some way, the definite alien influence and the indefinite cultural background make Chakotay an alien too. Finally, considering that Chakotay's Rubber Tree People must be insignificant among native American cultures, it is obvious that the alien heritage was virtually lost even before the white man destroyed the other Indian cultures. Therefore the accusation that "those who had no respect for life or land" are responsible is not really correct. Notwithstanding the above remarks it's a fine Chakotay episode, and it is revealing that he was not that fond of his culture at first, but tried to catch up with it as late as an adult.

Annotations

Rating: 4

 

Cold Fire

Synopsis

Stardate not given: When the remains of the Caretaker suddenly begin to resonate, the crew begins to search for what is apparently the other Caretaker. They find a smaller version of the Array populated by over 2000 Ocampa. When Suspiria, the other Caretaker, arrives, she blames the crew for killing her companion. Janeway can prevent her from destroying the ship, but there is obviously no chance to get home with Suspiria's help.

Commentary

First of all, I wonder why it was necessary to refer to the events in "Caretaker" in the teaser. There is no concept of isolated stories anyway, and some of the Seska/Kazon episodes would have rather required a special intro for less frequent viewers. Another issue is that Kes seems to have supernatural abilities only on certain selected occasions. Furthermore the question arises why she can feel the presence of the other Caretaker, but not of the Ocampa on the nearby space station.

Anyway, it is about time that Kes is given a really important role apart from saying something like "I sense fear/anger" like Deanna in the first seasons of TNG and the involvement in humorous B-plots. "Elogium" has been merely an interlude without consequences for the rest of the crew, so "Cold Fire" is her chance. Kes has to decide whether to follow Tuvok's or Tanis' way of using her newly discovered power, and this is not only a question of leaving the ship or not - which is already hard enough. Unfortunately, the decision is made for her when Tanis' and Suspiria's real intentions are revealed - they are hardly interested in Kes but mostly in the ship. Poor Kes, it will take even more time to become more than just the cute little girl.

Annotations

Rating: 5

 

Maneuvers 

Stardate: 49208.5: The Kazon-Nistrim launch an attack on Voyager and, breaking through the hull with an armored shuttle, they succeed in stealing a transporter module. Chakotay, who feels guilty about Seska's treason, attempts to retrieve the technology on his own, but is captured. When the Kazon attack again and it is not possible to beam Chakotay out, Janeway has the Kazon leaders beamed aboard and Chakotay and his shuttle are returned in exchange for their freedom. 

Commentary

As another thriller in the Kazon storyline, the episode features several unusual "Maneuvers" indeed. It is an excellent story of deception, betrayal and cunning. The episode focuses on Chakotay and Seska, who both prevail over their respective superiors. Nevertheless, while it is adequate that Culluh is determined but incompetent, I wouldn't expect the same of Janeway.

Anyway, unlike the former Maquis, the Starfleet crew leaves a rather bad impression. Why does no one suspect the defector Seska of sending the Federation signal and anticipate that it is almost certainly a trap? Why does Janeway order to return fire so late after Culluh's sneak attack? Why is security ordered to the hull breach as late as the Kazon have already boarded the ship? I also wonder why the Starfleet crew supposes the Nistrim have less than six ships. An inconsistency is that the Mostral Maje Jal Surat knows of the fate of the Relora maje and his adjutant, who had been beamed into space. How is this possible, since Voyager picked up the corpses just after it had happened and didn't broadcast it, of course? Well, maybe Culluh broadcast it to all Kazon factions as a warning?

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Resistance

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Attempting to purchase tellerium on a planet, Tuvok and Torres are captured by the oppressive Mokran police, while Janeway is rescued by an older man named Caylem of the resident resistance movement. Caylem insists on Janeway being his daughter, who has in fact been abducted by the police years ago. With the help of Caylem's resistance group, a Voyager away team manages to free the imprisoned officers. Caylem avenges his daughter by killing the Mokran officer Augris and dies when he jumps into the way of a phaser aimed at Janeway.

Commentary

"Resistance is futile". Sorry for this awkward pun, but it summarizes what I think about this uninspiring and predictable episode. After Janeway has been separated from the rest of the crew, it all boils down to her hanging around with Caylem as some kind of father figure. His character reminds me of Mullibok in the equally boring episode DS9: "Progress". The circumstances are different here and at least there is a reason for Janeway's prolonged stay on the planet, but just like Kira in the DS9 episode she develops an unlikely emotional attachment to the old man (of the kind that would never be written for a male main character). I also don't like the portrayal of Caylem's senility that can be regarded as an offense to older people. 

The rest of the story is just too simple to be interesting. The crew members are captured, and it is obvious they have to be freed again after 45 minutes. It is not the slightest surprise that Caylem gets the chance to exert revenge and dies at the end of the episode to find deliverance. The two points are only for a certain quality of writing and acting in the scenes of Janeway and Caylem, but this can't really compensate for the meager plot.

Rating: 2

 

Prototype

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Voyager picks up the damaged Pralor android 3947 that is afloat in space, and B'Elanna manages to repair its defunct power module. When Janeway refuses to provide more power modules for the other androids, 3947 kidnaps B'Elanna and forces her to build a prototype. While the android ship is being attacked by a similar vessel of the Cravic, another android civilization, B'Elanna can be rescued. It turns out that the Pralor and Cravic civilizations had built the androids to fight each other, but the androids wound up killing their creators and continued the war on their own.

Commentary

Already the teaser, showing the events from the perspective of 3947, is very promising, and the episode keeps this promise. There is not a single minute of boredom, not a single unnecessary filler scene. B'Elanna's dedication and excitement to get the robot 3947 running again is very personal, as is her disappointment about being deceived by him more than once. As the plot unfolds, the suspense rises gradually up to the culmination when it is revealed that the Pralor and Cravic robots actually killed their creators. One of the best scenes is B'Elanna's dispute with Janeway whether to provide the robots with new power modules or not. It is remarkable in that it's not just arguing about the Prime Directive, but touches very basic ethic problems. Are the robots actually lifeforms? If yes, do they have to be preserved from extinction, or is it right to deny them the requested reproduction? Would it be the same as helping a biological species that has become sterile, or is it that the robots are just not designed to reproduce?

At first, I didn't like the idea of having incompatible power modules which seems to be a recurring problem in Star Trek. Is there no equivalent of a simple transformer for generating a suited type of power? Anyway, this time the power modules are a kind of copyright protection which makes sense with respect to the dedicated warlike nature of the robots.

Annotations

Rating: 9

 

Alliances

Synopsis

Stardate 49337.4: Being under continuous attack from the Kazons, Janeway decides that it is time to seek an ally. Voyager encounters the Trabe, who once suppressed the Kazon, but were expelled from their planet in the course of the Kazon rebellion. Janeway arranges a peace conference on a planet, including all Kazon sects. However, a Trabe ship attacks the conference room. Disgusted about this cowardly and reckless behavior, Janeway ends the talks with the Trabe.

Commentary

It's an episode with many surprising turning points, and it's the episode where Janeway has a personal conflict with virtually everyone. Janeway vs. Hogan: When Hogan suggests that Voyager give away technology to the Kazon, this is actually the climax of the Federation-Maquis conflict. Unfortunately this storyline will not be continued and will end in "Basics". Hogan is only a small crewman and he is "only" a Maquis anyway, but she gets unusually upset about it, as if it were already a mutiny. I can understand her since her leadership was questioned in front of the whole crew and, even worse, on a memorial service for a crew member. Nevertheless, she could have responded to it in a rather calm and superior way. Janeway vs. Chakotay: He suggests to seek an ally, and Janeway is irritated about it, or doesn't she just want to admit that she would do the same in his position? Her arguing with the Prime Directive is a weak justification, since she has always found her own interpretation so far. Janeway vs. Tuvok: It's a nice idea to include the Spock reference (Khitomer Peace Treaty) and the hybrid of two species that is stronger than either of them alone. It's no surprise to see that rather Tuvok than Chakotay can convince her. Janeway vs. Culluh: No one would have expected an agreement. However, eventually it is Culluh's macho attitude of not wanting women to make decisions that makes her break off the negotiations. Not that I would approve of Culluh's opinion, but this is mainly a cultural clash, which she should have left aside for the time being. Otherwise no one in history could have ever found an ally. Janeway vs. Trabe leader Mabus: It is obvious that he has ruined every chance of an alliance with his cowardly plot to kill the Kazon majes. Here I agree with her.

What I liked most about the episode was the elucidation of Kazon history. It is only incredible that Neelix hasn't told Janeway about the Kazon-Trabe relations in time. The way the Trabe are portrayed is a bit insidious. They are expelled people and they look much like humans - at least much more than the Kazons. They even wear Bajoran-style earrings. Nevertheless those people turn out little likable. The question is if they are really that bad or if it's only their leader. Janeway should have given them another chance, but unfortunately they never showed up again.

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

Threshold

Synopsis

Stardate 49373.4: Tom pilots a new shuttle prototype and he is the first person ever to reach Warp 10 -- infinite speed! After his flight he undergoes a strange metamorphosis to a new, "more evolved" lifeform. Tom kidnaps Janeway, they go to Warp 10 again, after which they both evolve to amphibious creatures resembling newts and have children! They are found and identified by an away team, and the Doctor manages to restore their human nature, while their kids are left behind.

Commentary

This is "Spock's Brain, part II: Tom's Tongue". "Trashhold" (sorry, I couldn't resist) screws up the laws of science like no other episode of Star Trek. Considering the manifold violations of basic principles of Star Trek and of the real world the quality of the rest of the plot doesn't matter that much, but even this winds up as harebrained. Neelix is incredibly stupid for an experienced space traveler. The scene when Tom and Harry explain him Warp 10 is not only annoying because the "theoretical impossibility" is disproved in the following, but also because they explain it to Neelix in very simple words and he nevertheless doesn't get the idea. Tom has two good scenes when he urges Janeway to send him on the Warp 10 flight and when he tries to explain that he firmly believes he is evolving to something better. But once again what we are being told is not what we can see. And the very moment when he loses his tongue it become ludicrous. Ironically, the Kazon who is contacted by traitor Jonas is the most intelligent character in the episode: "Warp 10, that's impossible." Correct. So why didn't Braga simply stick to this fundamental law of Trek and real physics?

The only point is for the unintentional entertaining potential of the episode, of the kind that already "Spock's Brain" had.

Annotations

Rating: 1

 

Meld

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Crewman Darwin is found dead in engineering, and Tuvok concludes that he must have been murdered by Betazoid Ensign Suder who was there at the time. Tuvok mind-melds with Suder to understand why he killed the crewmate for no obvious reason. The procedure endangers Tuvok's mind, as he develops violent tendencies himself. When he is about to execute Suder, another mind-meld helps him to control his emotions again. Suder is locked up in secure quarters, where he will spend the rest of the journey.

Commentary

While the episode was absolutely convincing and somewhat thrilling, I missed the motion in it. Once there is a criminal case aboard the ship, but the murderer is found quickly and the only remaining problem is why this useless crime did happen. This becomes the general question where violence comes from. To explain this is futile, because violence is part of our nature and is more or less well suppressed. Tuvok only learns this through his own error, when takes a wrong turn and mind-melds with the criminal, thereby getting himself into great danger. Ye, he needs the whole episode to find out this simple truth. And after a while it gets boring for the viewer to see how little progress he makes. Personally, I was hoping for some kind of revelation about Suder's true motive, but there was none. While the whole plot was not really the thriller it could have been, I concede an extra point for Lon Suder (Brad Dourif) as a credible psychopath, one for Tim Russ giving a Tuvok as the "evil Vulcan" and one for the sinister atmosphere.

Annotations

Rating: 5

 

Dreadnought

Synopsis

Stardate 49447.8: Voyager encounters an autonomous weapon probe of Cardassian origin. Back in her Maquis days B'Elanna reprogrammed the weapon dubbed "Dreadnought" to attack a Cardassian fuel depot. Being pulled into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker, Dreadnought now believes the navigational data is a deception and heads for the densely populated planet Rakosa V. When all efforts to disable Dreadnought fail, Janeway decides to destroy it using Voyager's self-destruct. Virtually in the last moment B'Elanna manages to disable the probe from within.

Commentary

This is definitely one of the most exciting thrillers in Star Trek history, comparable in many ways to TOS: "The Doomsday Machine". The episode features another intense plot focused on B'Elanna after "Faces" and "Prototype". Agreed, the "stubborn computer/bomb" plot elements are borrowed from "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Dark Star" and TOS: "The Ultimate Computer". Anyway, the computer's behavior, unlike that of a hologram, is awfully logical and inflexible while it sometimes seems that Dreadnought desperately protects and justifies its mission much like a human being would do: "The probability of being in the Delta Quadrant, 70,000ly from the last confirmed position, is negligible." Dreadnought seems to make up its own interpretation of what is negligible, and this is most unsettling. Moreover, the computer is speaking with B'Elanna's voice so as to emphasize the odd situation. In some way she is threatened by herself. The dialogues between Dreadnought and B'Elanna are a clear homage to HAL-9000, most obviously the irrelevant phrases like "Did you sleep well last night." I don't think this is a deficiency, at least I enjoyed it very much. An absolute tidbit is the dispute between the Maquis program and the obsolete Cardassian file that try to eliminate each other. It reminded me a bit of the communication between Windows and a program by a hardware manufacturer, which both simultaneously demand to get their drivers installed, once new hardware is detected.

Annotations

Rating: 9

 

Death Wish

Synopsis

Stardate not given: The Voyager crew accidentally frees a dissenter of the Q Continuum who has been imprisoned for his desire to be mortal. When Q comes aboard, it is up to Janeway to decide whether the new Q is granted asylum, thereby destabilizing the Q Continuum, or if he is returned to the other Q. Despite Q's offer to take the ship home if she favors his demand, she lets the new Q, who calls himself Quinn, stay aboard as a human crew member. His death wish, however, is so strong that he commits suicide briefly later.

Commentary

It is amazing how the authors have managed to create funny Q stories without getting silly for TNG, and so is Q's first appearance on Voyager. One might criticize the idea of Voyager hanging on a Christmas tree or being attacked by protons, which is close to ludicrous indeed. Yet, this can be regarded as a part of a game to impress the allegedly primitive humanoids. It is interesting to notice that the two Q's will become more sensible once they see that Janeway and her crew are obviously taking it more seriously than they would like her to do. In spite of all the distracting fanciful ideas, the episode successfully gets to the bottom of the question if an individual may be allowed to commit suicide. Janeway decides in Quinn's favor, despite Q's promise not to lock up Quinn again and his offer to bring the ship home. It's strange to see that Janeway has a talent to waste preferably her best chances. Moreover, I have the impression that Q's macho attitude towards her did play a role in her decision process. Anyway, she has a good explanation for her judgment. Her attempt to convince Quinn that human life isn't that bad is very touching, on the other hand, no one can really expect Quinn to go on living as a mortal being, for every aspect of it can be supposed to be entirely included in his virtually eternal life as a Q. The only new experience would be death, and this is what he gets.

What I also liked about the episode is the many references and allusions that are consistent with previous events in Star Trek. It is stated that without Quinn there would be no Riker and the Federation would have been assimilated by the Borg. Q's punishment by the Continuum, as shown in TNG: "Déjà Q", is referred to. Janeway has a very good point about executions of Q Continuum members, as mentioned in TNG: " True Q". A Q episode is not a good time to care about physical oddities. I only wonder where and how the protons that attack the ship should occur without electrons. Maybe the ship got right into a beam weapon.

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

Lifesigns

Synopsis

Stardate not given: The Doctor saves the life of a Vidiian woman, Dr. Danara Pel, by creating a holographic reproduction of her intact body. The Doctor feels attracted to Danara and they spend a lot of time on the holodeck. Danara likes her new appearance and she even tries to kill her deformed real body, but the Doctor succeeds to convince her that it is necessary to resume her old body. Meanwhile on the bridge, the conflict of Chakotay and Paris escalates, and Paris ends up in the brig.

Commentary

It is a very touching episode about Doctor "Shmullus" and his emerging emotions. The episode also manages to show the whole impact of the Vidiian phage by concentrating on the personal tragedy of a single individual. It is explicitly shown what an attractive and charming person Danara would be without the terrible disease - and wants to be when she realizes it. Fortunately there is no simple statement like "real beauty is inside you" or "outer appearance doesn't matter". It does matter. Yet, one can overcome one's fear and doubts. At one point, it seems as if B'Elanna would deny Danara her help in the same way as Worf refused to donate blood for the injured Romulan in TNG: "The Enemy". Fortunately she can overcome her reservations. Tom's increasingly odd behavior is shown as a little sub-plot, however, with respect to the plan to uncover the traitor it is just too blatant. Wouldn't Jonas be rather alarmed than appeased if there is someone even more interested in leaving the ship?

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

Investigations

Synopsis

Stardate not given: As a consequence of his recent insubordination, Tom leaves Voyager and joins a Talaxian convoy, but he is abducted by the Kazon. Neelix investigates the case and he thinks that Tom might have had contact to the Kazons before. Janeway and Tuvok, however, tell him that Tom intentionally behaved like that to get the opportunity to unmask the real traitor. On the Kazon vessel, Tom finds out that it's Jonas, and he escapes with a shuttle. Jonas sabotages Voyager, but in a struggle with Neelix he plunges into a plasma stream and is killed.

Commentary

The episode is a spy story above average, but it reminds me a lot of TOS: "The Enterprise Incident" where the plan was equally stupid. Did Tom actually expect to be kidnapped by the Kazons? How could he be sure he would get an opportunity to find evidence about the traitor? If so, how could he hope he could ever escape? Nevertheless this wasn't Tom's episode, but Neelix's, and focusing on him would have been a good idea under different circumstances if the story had taken place completely on Voyager. We already knew it was Jonas, and it would have served the episode better if it had been a silent duel between him and Neelix, but the minor character obviously wasn't supposed to get more screen time. 

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Deadlock

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Subspace anomalies inside a nebula cause a quantum duplication of Voyager and crew. One version is heavily damaged, first by proton bursts and later by the Vidiians. Ensign Wildman loses her baby and Harry is blown off the ship through a hull breach. Yet, an undamaged version of Voyager occupies the same space at the same time. In order to save the intact ship, Capt. Janeway of the damaged ship decides to activate the self-destruct. However, as the Vidiians enter the undamaged Voyager, this ship has to be destroyed, after Kim and Naomi Wildman have been transferred to the other ship.

Commentary

Damage to the ship and losses of life have been the weekly business of Voyager, but it has never been that grave so far. It is obvious that the crew and the ship can't go through such a hard time and face such hard decisions every few episodes, because then the subject would be quickly exhausted, not to mention the trouble to explain how the crew recovers and how the ship can be repaired each time. Anyway, it was worth the trouble this time. The chance to bring Janeway and her crew into a truly desperate situation was not wasted, and their distress was even emphasized by showing a second, completely intact ship at the same time. Ironically, the proton bursts from one Voyager are actually the cause of the damages and of Harry's and Naomi's death on the other ship. It is equally ironic that it is eventually the previously undamaged ship that has to be sacrificed.

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

Innocence

Synopsis

Stardate not given: After a shuttle crash that kills the ensign who accompanies him, Tuvok encounters a group of three children. In the meantime, Voyager gets in touch with the purportedly xenophobic Drayans. On the planet, Tuvok tries to comfort the children, who fear a creature, Morrok, that is supposed to kill them. The children are actually members of the Drayan race and were transferred there to die. Drayans are subjected to a reversed aging process, being born as apparently old and wise people and dying as innocent children.

Commentary

The episode begins with a shuttle crash. There haven't been too many so far in the series. But I dislike it as an uninteresting standard procedure to get characters isolated. Moreover, another "unnecessary" ensign has to die. This one gets at least a touching death scene. Nevertheless, it is irresponsible to leave poor Tuvok alone with the three children. Fortunately, just when I was about to dub the episode "Tuvok's Kindergarten", the plot gained some profoundness. Tuvok, the most emotionally challenged of all Vulcans, gets a couple of very nice scenes. He shows a strong fondness for his little friends without losing his impeccable logic. Two points for him, one for the fact that these children are not as annoying as kids have been elsewhere in Star Trek. The rest of the episode is crap. As a matter of fact, the children are old people, while they behave much like real children. There is no way to explain this biological nonsense. All lifeforms on all other planets and even inanimate objects are looking old because they are old. There is no such thing as "reversed aging".

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

The Thaw

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Three individuals have survived a global disaster in cryogenic chambers, but they are firmly linked to a computer system. When Harry and B'Elanna enter the chambers to recover them, they find themselves trapped in a bizarre virtual reality ruled by a clown called "Fear". Fear holds all the five persons hostages, and he may kill anyone by disabling their body functions. Janeway sends the Doctor as a negotiator, and he can persuade Fear to take her instead of the other hostages, but it is a trick, since she is not really hooked up to the system.

Commentary

Why does Janeway beam up the chambers in the first place instead of letting them rest in peace, as it would certainly comply with the Prime Directive? Why does she put two of her officers into the chambers, not taking the risks into account? Only if we forgive her these mistakes we can enjoy the rest of the episode. It's no surprise that it's again the Doctor who saves the day. Immune to Fear's threats and not connected to his mind, the Doctor gives a superior performance. Janeway excels likewise, when she explains that fear/Fear will eventually vanish. Harry is the poor victim again, at least temporarily. It is important to notice that it's because of his thoughts that Fear gets the idea of taking only Janeway hostage instead of the four other people - because it would apparently be more attractive. Harry's idea of Janeway must have been very special. I wonder in how far fear is regarded a permanent state-of-mind in this episode and not only a temporary emotion, and in how far Fear is supposed to be a real character and not only a manifestation of people's emotions that would vanish with their fear. Note the difference between "fear" and "Fear".

It is obvious to compare this episode to other occasions where emotions were incarnated. In TOS: "Day of the Dove" there was an entity consuming hatred, but only in its explicitly shown form and not as a latent emotion. TNG: "Skin of Evil" featured a creature that was the incarnation of the bad emotions of a whole civilization and therefore accordingly evil, although not really credible. DS9: "The Storyteller" shows the Dal'Rok, which can be appeased if people stick together, very much like in "Day of the Dove". Generally speaking, the manifestation named Fear is more believable than the above entities, since emotions are always inherent to a specific being, and are not likely to have a separate, let alone corporeal existence. On the other hand, in this case Fear would have lost his personality when he agreed to accept Janeway as his only hostage. I would have liked to see Janeway's fears, though. ;-)

Rating: 4

 

Tuvix

Synopsis

Stardate 49655.2: Tuvok and Neelix merge to one person because of a transporter accident. This "Tuvix" is healthy and has the personalities, knowledge and abilities of both Neelix and Tuvok, and he fits perfectly into Voyager's crew. When a procedure is developed to split Tuvix again, he refuses and he claims that he is about to be murdered. Yet, Janeway rules the two former crew members have to be retrieved.

Commentary

Tuvok and Neelix merged to one person. It could have wound up as extremely silly, but it became an episode dealing with a profound ethic dilemma that is credibly presented. There is nothing funny at all, except for the beginning. Interestingly, it is not Tuvix' but mainly Kes' episode. She had many good scenes dealing with her attempts to cope with the situation. Both the embarrassment about the strange new crewmate Tuvix and the appreciation of his many abilities were absolutely convincing, and this can be said about the other crew members likewise.

Yet, there were several logical and biological oddities: The basic plot is a bit like "Faces", only with the reverse effect. I wonder why there was no reference to the events in the latter episode, and why it was not considered to apply Vidiian medical techniques to separate Tuvok and Neelix. The combination of the two individuals of different species is described as a Vulcan-Talaxian hybrid, yet, the transporter just assembles and disassembles physically and would not be capable of biological breeding, even with the help of a strange alien plant. It is interesting that even the clothes were merged, maybe the transporter actually entirely superimposed or mixed the two patterns in a creative fashion, but it is virtually impossible to create a viable lifeform this way. The thing that bothered me most is how Tuvok's and Neelix's consciousnesses could survive besides the new merged version in Tuvix' body. Even if this was possible, how could the Doctor and Janeway be sure that it was actually the case? There could have been two mindless persons after the separation. One way to investigate this possibility would have been using Tuvok' or Tuvix' or Kes' telepathic abilities, but this was not even considered an option. It should have revealed if there was something left of Tuvok and Neelix. The only scene I really disliked was Tuvix' shouting all over the bridge, when the decision was made to restore Tuvok and Neelix. Not that I would deny him to fight for what he thinks is his life, but he did it in a blatantly cowardly way so as to let Tuvok and Neelix appear as the better persons who would not have behaved this way. I would have preferred to see Tuvix reluctantly but silently face his death, this would have been much more touching.

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Resolutions

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Janeway and Chakotay suffer from an incurable virus disease, and only the atmosphere of the home planet of the virus can keep them alive. In the meantime Voyager, now under the command of Tuvok, has left the planet. Despite Janeway's order not to contact the Vidiians they take the risk and eventually obtain a cure from Danara Pel.

Commentary

The plot lives from opposite characters facing one another rather than the confrontation with viruses and Vidiians. There is Tuvok's sense of duty vs. Harry's enthusiasm. Why do I have the impression that Tuvok was waiting for such a clear sign of support all the time after the Vidiian convoy had been detected? Janeway's determination vs. Chakotay's fatalism. I wonder in how far Chakotay's letting go was influenced by his desire to stay with Janeway, he yielded so easily. He was the one who was rather pleased when he caressed Janeway, and her statement "We have to define parameters." should have been a clear sign she didn't want the same thing. Really? Only a few moments later they seemed to settle on an agreement, and this was apparently not about staying away from each other. I was a bit disappointed when the communicators beeped in virtually the next instant. Janeway and Chakotay, it remains an impossible combination because neither of them is giving up their position. Just see the end of the episode, it's business as usual ("Yes, Ma'am.") and not much is wrapped up.

Annotations

Rating: 4

 

Basics I/II

Synopsis

Stardate not given/50032.7: Seska transmits a message, begging Chakotay to rescue her and her child, his alleged son, from the Kazons. Janeway decides to assume that Seska and the child are in actual danger. Tierna, who has apparently fallen out of favor with Culluh, shows them a passage through Kazon territory, and the ship endures only half-hearted attacks. However, when Tierna disrupts the ship's power grid with a suicide bomb, even the self-destruct is disabled after the Kazon ships have permanently attacked the secondary command processor. Seska and Culluh take over the ship and drop the Starfleet crew on a savage planet. Only the Doctor and Ensign Suder stay on board. Paris escapes in a shuttle, while the rest of the crew strives to stay alive on the hostile planet without any technology. Paris acquires help from the Talaxians, while the Doctor and Suder sabotage the ship, so that it is disabled when attacked by Paris, and can be freed from the Kazons. Seska dies and Culluh, the actual father, takes her new-born child.

Commentary

A double feature of big changes and big emotions. Interestingly, to me "Basics" had less coherence than other two-parters. Many questions were already answered at the end of part I, and it was no doubt that the crew would somehow manage to survive on the savage planet and eventually retake the ship. Not that the second part would have been boring, it just told a different story. The perhaps most interesting observation in part I is that Janeway and Chakotay seem to have taken each other's roles. Janeway, the always skeptical leader, trusts Seska too much and makes the irrational decision to help her at all cost. Chakotay, on the other hand, is suspicious like never before. But he may simply put the welfare of the ship above his personal interests. 

Frankly, despite the many precautions, there isn't really a plan to free Seska. Why is Janeway so confident they can take on eight massive Kazon ships, each of them a hundred times as large as Voyager? In "Caretaker" they had lots of trouble with only one of them. Part II necessarily required the fall of the tyrant. It was a bit of a surprise to see that it wasn't Culluh but Seska who eventually died. She would have been more likely to accompany the series as the resident villain than the technologically and tactically challenged Kazons who actually make their last regular appearance in "Basics". It's a pity that the characters of Hogan and Lon Suder were abandoned likewise. Suder's character is fascinating, and it would have been worth at least another episode with a discussion whether he might be rehabilitated.

Annotations

Rating: 8

 


Proceed to VOY Season 3

TopShare
View as gallery