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Star Trek Voyager (VOY) Season 3

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

Flashback - The Chute - The Swarm - False Profits - Remember - Sacred Ground
Future's End I/II - Warlord - The Q and the Grey - Macrocosm - Fair Trade - Alter Ego
Coda - Blood Fever - Unity - Darkling - Rise - Favorite Son - Before and After
Real Life - Distant Origin - Displaced - Worst Case Scenario - Scorpion I/II

 

Basics II

See VOY season 2

 

Flashback

Synopsis

Stardate 50126.4: Tuvok experiences a flashback, however, it is not an actual experience from his past. In order to repair the obvious damage to his synaptic patterns, he asks Janeway to engage in a mind-meld with him. In Tuvok's mind they travel back to his time on the USS Excelsior during the Praxis crisis when his crewmate, Ensign Valtane, was killed in a battle with the Klingons on Stardate 9521, 80 years ago. It turns out that Tuvok's flashback has actually nothing to do with his past, but is a virus disguised as an unbearable memory that has to be suppressed.

Commentary

The appearance of Captain Sulu alone makes this episode worth viewing, and overall the story fits well into the historical events shown in "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country" - well, except that Valtane who dies in "Flashback" apparently has a twin brother who can be seen well and alive at the end of the movie. I have always wondered if Sulu might have tried to help his friends prior to the battle with Chang - he did. It is insightful to see that Tuvok has undergone a development and used to be even more inflexibly logical than he is nowadays - as far as this is possible at all. 

Alpha Quadrant stories have been and will continue to be a plausibility problem on Star Trek Voyager. Fortunately, this time it is accomplished to tell the story without the usual incredible surprise that characters or objects from the Alpha Quadrant are coincidentally encountered in the depths of the Delta Quadrant.

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

The Chute

Synopsis

Stardate 50156.2: Harry and Tom find themselves in an Akritirian prison, surrounded by relentless prisoners. Implants stimulate violence and lack of reason among them, and Tom and Harry are even on the verge of killing one another. The prison being a space station, there is no escape for them, but an away team uses Neelix shuttle to invade the station and manages to free them.

Commentary

Harry and Tom on Rura Penthe. "So we have two handsome young men that everyone likes and that are the best friends. What can we do with them?" - "Okay, we traumatize them beyond the limit, let them freak out and almost kill one another. But they have to be friends again in the end." This is probably how the idea of the episode came to life. Add dirt, hunger, desperation and dehumanized prison mates - but this is not the stuff that good Trek episodes are made of. It doesn't convince as a prison drama, and it is not even a character study of any kind. Since Harry and Tom are mind-controlled the whole time anyway, their mutual aggression remains meaningless. And it has to, because as usual this episode is not supposed to have any consequences. The only interesting facts are that the 47 is prominently featured once again as the number of people killed in the bombing and that the Delaney sisters are mentioned. The rest is 45 minutes of boredom in something like a buddy movie gone awry.

Annotations

Rating: 1

 

The Swarm

Synopsis

Stardate 50252.3: Taking a shortcut to the Alpha Quadrant Voyager runs into hostile aliens, the Swarm, who want to prevent the ship from entering their territory at all cost. In the meantime the Doctor suffers from memory loss due to the fact that he has been active much longer than originally programmed. It is decided to use his diagnosis system to extend his memory capacity. Voyager is attacked by thousands of tiny Swarm ships, but by creating a feedback loop in their communication system most of the hostile ships can be destroyed.

Commentary

This episode skillfully combines the Swarm story and the Doctor's problems as an almost equally important B-plot. The creepy Swarm is the first enemy in the Delta Quadrant that is technologically on par with the Federation ship and still unusually "alien" in their organization and tactics. I would have loved to see more of them.

Regarding the Doctor, the episode walks a thin line, but eventually manages to maintain the balance between tragical and comical aspects of his almost fatal program failure. Especially Kes has a couple of very good scenes when she intercedes for the salvage of the Doctor's personality, opposing a reboot of his program. The Lewis Zimmerman hologram makes clear that the Doctor has developed his own personality ever since he was first activated, after initially behaving much like Zimmerman. The Doctor has made another important step towards emancipation, and maybe this is even the key event that draws the line between a simple tool or software on one hand, and a sentient being on the other hand.

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

False Profits

Synopsis

Stardate 50074.3: Voyager discovers the instable exit of the Barzan wormhole and the two Ferengi who got stranded at this end of the galaxy after the wormhole had shifted. On an underdeveloped planet the Ferengi are now worshipped as the "Sages" and teach their wisdom, namely the Rules of Acquisition, for a price. An away team manages to get hold of the Ferengi - or rather save them because the planet's population strives to fulfill a prophecy by burning them. The Ferengi, however, escape through the wormhole that moves away before Voyager can follow them.

Commentary

A Ferengi episode always has the problem that it can turn out either funny or ludicrous. This one has both of it. I liked to see that a story from TNG was picked up ("The Price") and I enjoyed the basic plot of the Ferengi being the gods of a primitive civilization and all its consequences, including the nifty legend of the "Sages" and the "ear cult". However, the plot was ruined at the very moment when the two Ferengi persuaded Janeway to let them return to the planet. Everything could have been so easy, but she yielded to unconfirmed speculations about the people's welfare, against the spirit of the Prime Directive (because in any case it is further contamination) and against common sense. Bad enough. 

However, it all became ridiculous when Neelix appeared as the Grand Proxy (whoever this might be, he was never even mentioned in any of countless DS9 episodes). I know that disguise stories may be fun, but they have nothing to do with reality. Moreover, while the Ferengi are not exactly known as the most serious species and the Talaxians aren't either, this idea is even worse for the credibility of the maneuver. Not to mention that Neelix as someone from the Delta Quadrant is not likely to know anything about the Ferengi culture. It seems they just needed a job for the resident clown. The pinnacle of absurdity was reached when the two small guys succeeded in overwhelming two armed Starfleet guards, destroyed the shuttlebay door, destabilized the wormhole and, unlike Voyager, managed to escape to the Alpha Quadrant. Someone said *Ferengi* are dull?

Annotations

Rating: 5

 

Remember

Synopsis

Stardate 50203.1: While a number of telepathic Enarans are on Voyager as guests, B'Elanna continuously dreams of being an Enaran. Her dreams turn out to be the specific memories of a young woman who once witnessed a genocide on her planet, her love interest being among the assassinated. The woman now being old and about to die, she transferred her memories to B'Elanna because she felt B'Elanna would not hide the secret as the Enarans had done for many years.

Commentary

This is one of several Voyager episodes that present an encrypted yet profound treatise on human history and present. And human history has been full of massacres and racist injustice, some of which are not thoroughly documented or are even officially denied by certain governments. It is obvious yet ironical that Voyager continues the tradition of TNG of commenting on humanity in the guise of aliens, rather than DS9. 

"Remember", this is indeed the message of the episode in that another genocide might happen if no one talks about it. Denying the truth, even if it is for the good cause of maintaining peace for the time being, might be the first step in a wrong direction. 

But it's not quite that easy after all. B'Elanna's attempts to convince the Enarans of what she has learned falls on deaf ears. This is an obvious reaction, meaning that they either can't believe the hearsay, or they fear the truth. That's the dilemma. The Enarans have built up a better society in spite of and maybe partially even because of the wrongdoings in the past, and coming clean on them might lead them all the way back to those bad days. Who has the right to decide about such a development? Nevertheless, B'Elanna is pretty sure to do the right thing, and when the other Enarans wouldn't listen, she finds at least the young woman who promises to keep the memories. It is an open ending, but who could expect a satisfactory solution in 45 minutes or in a few days of story time? It is remarkable that Janeway largely tolerates the violation of the Prime Directive this time. It seems to be very much a matter of arbitrary personal conviction what she decides anyway, and this time she earns my respect for it.

Rating: 5

 

Sacred Ground

Synopsis

Stardate 50063.2: On a visit to a monastery on the Nechani homeworld Kes is rendered unconscious by a biogenic energy field surrounding a shrine. Janeway wants to save Kes, and in order to trespass the energy field and examine the phenomenon she undergoes strange rituals. As her research does not help at all, she acts against all reason. She takes Kes back to the shrine, exposing her to the field once again, and Kes unexpectedly recovers.

Commentary

In my view the episode is mostly composed of meaningless psychobabble and mystic trash when Janeway is going through her exams. While virtually nothing could have saved this all from pure boredom, because nothing of significance happens except in the first and the last few minutes, the attempts to give the story more profoundness fail as well. Agreed, the episode gives Kate Mulgrew the opportunity to act in a more classical sense, not so purposefully as a TV drama usually requires it. But scenes like the old people waiting for Godot, for the end of the world or whatsoever are frustrating because they lack any realism in favor of symbolism. They look like ripped off from an absurd stage play by Beckett or Ionesco, not like a part of a Trek episode. Does the monastery occasionally hire retired actors to utter a few incomprehensible phrases?

I also have a problem with the way that the concept of a religion is being presented here. Religion is about faith. You either have the faith or not. It is not possible to gain it in a crash course or by performing a couple of rituals. Much less would it be necessary or useful to *prove* to someone who does not yet believe that *faith* (as opposed to hollow rituals) is the key to a religion. That would be paradoxical, but exactly this seems to be the only goal of the whole mumbo-jumbo: it is designed to disprove itself. At least, it disproves itself in a religious sense. All in all this this a TV version of religion that has no analogy in reality. Real religions have simple recipes (also because they were made for simple people), they do not want to repel people by twisted theories and hidden messages.

It is interesting to note that this is one of the very rare occasions in Star Trek where faith seems to win over science. In my view, however, it rather ends in a tie. Firstly, Janeway lends credence to the old myth and agrees to the ritual in the first place, which she normally wouldn't do and which sort of eases her mission despite her impatience. Secondly, if she eventually trusts her guide this still doesn't mean that she adopts the alien faith. Thirdly, the attempts to solve the puzzle by means of science fail only narrowly, and mostly because there is not much time. Fourthly, there is indeed a scientific explanation by the Doctor for what exactly happened. The only remaining question is who could know in advance how exactly to save Kes and set up the according ritual for Janeway - a divine entity or rather the monks who perhaps customarily design such cruel games for their visitors? Anyway, Kes is neither saved by direct divine intervention nor because Janeway really learned something in the ritual, but because of - who knows? It is not that Janeway, the science woman, is really disproved although this impression is created in the end.

It is also irritating that Earth apparently has no religion but science in the 24th century, whereas alien beliefs are powerful and occasionally rule over any kind of technology. I don't speak in favor of any of them, but Star Trek as a program that is supposed to represent all humanity on one hand and is technically oriented on the other hand should try to establish a more balanced attitude. I'm not sure, should I give the boring episode a better rating just because it's so controversial after all? Or does the controversy just lie in the intrinsic contradiction?

Rating: 1

 

Future's End

Synopsis

Stardate 50312.5: Capt. Braxton of the Federation timeship Aeon is about to destroy Voyager because he makes the ship responsible for the destruction of the Sol system in the 29th century. The two ships, however, get caught in a temporal rift. The Aeon crashes on Earth in the 1960s and is found by Henry Starling. He scavenges its technology to start the microelectronic revolution and gain a fortune with his company Chronowerx. In the year 1996 the Voyager crew arrive on Earth too, and they have to prevent Starling from starting for a flight to the 29th century where he wants to acquire more new technology, which was or will be the actual reason for the disaster. Despite all warnings Starling lifts off, and there is no way but to destroy his ship. The old timeline is restored, but Voyager is transferred back to the Delta Quadrant by Braxton. The Doctor is now able to exist outside the sickbay thanks to his 29th century mobile emitter.

Commentary

Fun governs this episode, which features the Doctor on his first away mission, Tom applying his knowledge of 20th century Earth and Kes and Neelix being emotionally touched by a soap opera. One shouldn't ponder too much about the countless logical problems or even temporal paradoxes which, BTW, are further described here. Still, some comments should be allowed. Capt. Braxton would have deserved a more credible profile, the young one is just a stubborn bureaucrat, the old one is a moron. At least he has one good scene when he runs around, hectically explaining the temporal paradox. A clear homage to Doc Brown of "Back to the Future" fame, maybe already a bit too obvious, but I liked it.

It seems the authors couldn't decide whether to make Henry Starling a formidable capitalist villain or an awkward ex-hippie. Janeway thinks the latter, but she is obviously mistaken. Starling does know enough about the technology to pose a serious threat to Voyager. Another problem is that he could hardly have developed microelectronics on the basis of the hardware found in the timeship. There must have been detailed plans how to fabricate "ancient" microchips, rather than exotic 29th century hardware, for which neither the basic manufacturing processes nor the raw materials would be available in the 20th century. How could a hippie have built up a whole industry including all basic research from scratch? In this respect his plan to go to the 29th century to get more technology is idiotic, since there would be nothing to learn which could help him advance contemporary technology and earn more money with it. The right-wing extremists holding Chakotay and B'Elanna hostages were probably supposed to be a significant contribution to the plot, but they wind up as an unnecessary and distracting detail, only corroborating that people of the late 20th century are either freaky or criminal (or both).

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Warlord

Synopsis

Stardate 50348.1: The consciousness of Tieran, the former dictator of Ilari, takes over Kes's body. Kes/Tieran and his followers invade the capital of Ilari, kill the rightful ruler and try to persuade his weak younger son, Ameron, to back them. The older son, Demmas, has escaped and allies himself with Voyager. Janeway insists on saving Kes and sends Tuvok to try to bring Kes's consciousness back to the surface. When Demmas' troops occupy the palace, Tieran's consciousness has already been transferred to Ameron, and can be destroyed using a device developed by the Doctor.

Commentary

Kes as the cutest dictator ever. While this idea was obviously supposed to give Jennifer Lien the opportunity to play someone different than the ever kind and compassionate nurse, her performance largely fails to convince, as does the rest of the plot. The idea that crew members are possessed by criminal aliens is anything but new and has been done before most obviously in TNG: "Power Play" and DS9: "The Passenger". Although the contributions of the guest stars to the story are unusually important, they are too stereotypical to be credible, especially the contrasting brothers Demmas and Ameron. While it is a classical motive, it comes out as somewhat farcical in the context of a Star Trek episode.

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

The Q and the Grey

Synopsis

Stardate 50384.2: Q appears in Janeway's quarters and expects her to mate with him to rescue the Q Continuum. She naturally refuses. A female member of the Q Continuum claims she has been bonded to Q for billions of years. There is a riot in the Continuum, which is manifested in multiple supernovae endangering the ship. Q abducts Janeway to what looks like the American Civil War, while the female Q stays on board. Q and Janeway are captured by the Confederates, or the other Q faction. The female Q and the Voyager crew manage to enter the Continuum, and the conflict is resolved when Q and Q beget a child.

Commentary

I don't know if it's rather relieving or distressing to see that the other members of the Q Continuum are no more sensible than Q. Anyway, the sequel to "Death Wish" was fun, as have been all other Q episodes so far. Leaving aside Q's enormous powers, the most striking difference to humanoids seems to be that Q doesn't have any sense of decency, nothing can ever be too embarrassing, and this proves once again. I also liked the female Q with her refreshing impertinence.

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Macrocosm

Synopsis

Stardate 50425.1: When Janeway and Neelix return from a diplomatic mission, they find Voyager occupied by alien viruses and the crew unconscious. The virus grows to a macroscopic version after leaving its victim's body. Janeway is attacked by a virus and infected herself, but with the help of the Doctor she manages to destroy all viruses with an antigen bomb.

Commentary

Voyager goes "Terminator II", Janeway gets a phaser rifle, you get the idea. Somehow the episode of this fight against nasty viruses is like a crossover of TNG: "Starship Mine" (Picard's version of "Die Hard") and TNG: "Genesis" (the Barclay-to-spider de-evolution) to me. There is not much of a unique plot, it's mostly a fierce struggle, but at least it's thrilling, and the viruses succeed in being disgusting.

Annotations

Rating: 5

 

Fair Trade

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Voyager arrives at a space station at the edge of the vast and unexplored Nekrit Expanse. Here Neelix meets his old buddy Wixiban who aids the crew in acquiring supplies. Neelix fears he might be useless for Voyager in the future, since he never traveled beyond this point. Hoping to get hold of a star chart, he takes part in an illegal drug deal arranged by Wixiban, who shoots one of the drug dealers in self-defense with Neelix's Starfleet phaser. When Tom and Chakotay are arrested for the crime, Neelix can convince Wixiban to go to the station administrator and confess.

Commentary

I would have conceded Neelix more self-confidence than he shows here. Frankly, his cooking has become rather in demand than his abilities as a guide anyway. So why his sudden panic that he might not be useful any longer? Also, can't Janeway anticipate that he doesn't know what is inside and beyond the Nekrit Expanse? After he has become an appreciated member of the crew (and I really liked him in more recent episodes except perhaps "False Profits"), Neelix now gets annoying again. He bugs Tuvok, B'Elanna, Vorik and Paris with his wishes to perform more tasks. It could have been a more credible story if Neelix had developed a desire to return to the Talaxian homeworld, which would have seemed impossible once he had been beyond the Nekrit Expanse. Neelix's motivation to engage in the alleged medicine deal is a bit odd too. On one hand, Neelix owes Wixiban more that just a favor, since Wix was once arrested for him. On the other hand, even in this situation the map of the Nekrit Expanse to improve his situation is still his main concern. Some less selfishness would have suited Neelix better.

Wixiban almost appears like the better character. Although he was close to ruining his and Neelix's lives with the drug deal, he pays very much attention to Neelix's problems. Wix is definitely very glad so see his old pal Neelix again, although he had a lot of trouble because of him. When he persuades Neelix to participate in his business, he doesn't make it look like an opportunity for redemption, but rather like a deal among friends. He does everything to deliver the required supply and information, he even praises Neelix's talents in the presence of Chakotay. When Neelix finally decides to report to the station administrator, he has no objections. I think this time Janeway is correct to take the wrongdoings of a crew member personally, after all the cause is Neelix' personal problem which she should have been aware of.

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

Alter Ego

Synopsis

Stardate 50460.3: While Voyager is monitoring mysterious plasma explosions that seem to be constrained such that no chain reaction occurs, a new female holodeck character, Marayna, gains the attention of both Harry and Tuvok. To end their rivalry and the emotional confusion, Tuvok erases Marayna. Yet, she appears in his quarters briefly after and tells him she wants to stay with him. Marayna is actually a lonely woman in charge of controlling the plasma reactions. When she threatens Voyager to force Tuvok to stay with her, he can convince her that he would never be able to share her feelings and she releases him.

Commentary

What I liked most about the episode is that two plots are combined to one, and that two problems that are inexplicable as long as they remain separate suddenly become plausible. A very satisfactory episode for those who pay much attention to plot logic. I have a problem with Harry's behavior, rather than with Tuvok's. Agreed, Harry is quite young, but a Starfleet officer is just not supposed to behave like a teenager in love, foolish, inattentive, easily embarrassed and jealous. I think this is an unnecessary setback, and it is not exactly suited to expand the possibilities of Harry Kim as a character. Tuvok, on the other hand, is so eager to eliminate Harry's "bad" emotions that he seems to get emotional likewise. We know something like this from other Vulcans, and it is clear that our impression of the being emotional is wrong ;-). Anyway, he does fall for the "Minuet Effect". Minuet was the hologram in TNG: "11001001" where she was not just a software programmed to be interactive, but virtually read Riker's and Picard's minds, doing exactly what they expected. It's good to see that the nature of the holodeck phenomenon is different this time, and the "renegade hologram" twist is not used once again. Finally, there is sort of a parallel to TOS: "All Our Yesterdays" where the lonely woman was equally left behind by the Vulcan who wanted to rejoin his colleagues by all means. A detail I liked: Kim states that it would take a few weeks to run simulations and modify the deflector accordingly. Usually such things can be accomplished in a few minutes, according to technically challenged authors.

Annotations

Rating: 5

 

Coda

Synopsis

Stardate 50518.6: As Janeway and Chakotay are approaching a planet, their shuttle crashes and they are killed by the Vidiians. Suddenly they find themselves back in the shuttle on the way to the planet, and experience a kind of déjà vu. Several more apparent time loops occur, until Janeway remains dead as it seems. She can still perceive her environment, whereas the other people cannot see her. Janeway's long-deceased father appears and tries to convince her to leave her life behind. Her father is actually the manifestation of an alien being that has occupied her brain, while Janeway is still on the planet after the shuttle crash.

Commentary

A shuttle crash is probably the least promising thing to happen in a teaser, as it often foreshadows a rather boring "marooned" episode with dreary dialogues. However, the plot takes a quite different direction than expected. A time loop? This seems to be a reasonable explanation, and it is a nice homage to TNG: "Cause and Effect". There are first doubts when the continuity of the time loops is broken and everyone, including Chakotay, looks at Janeway like she's a lunatic. There is definitely something wrong when the Doctor sees euthanasia as the only solution of her alleged infection with the Vidiian phage. Agreed, the episode plays with unreal extreme situations, yet it largely succeeds in not getting silly. Another tip of the hat: B'Elanna mentions the possibility that Janeway might have undergone a phase shift (TNG: "The Next Phase"), this is exactly what I thought of as soon as she got invisible. A far less original idea, however, is the alien lifeform that behaves much like the virus in "Flashback".

When I first saw "Coda", I liked it because there were so many unexpected turning points and it was quite entertaining. The next time, I found it unintentionally ludicrous because nothing really made sense. The third time I enjoyed it again, since I watched it with the knowledge in mind that everything crazy that happens is actually Janeway's thoughts, wishes and reason, and also a manifestation of her struggle with the alien organism. Therefore it is quite revealing to see how Chakotay cares about her and cries when she is about to die, suggesting she is much more than the captain to him, and to hear what Tuvok has to say about her in her imagination. Finally, there is a definite parallel to "Resolutions". In both episodes Janeway is shown as a person who will never give up, even if the situation appears to be hopeless.

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Blood Fever

Synopsis

Stardate 50537.2: Ensign Vorik enters the state of pon farr and also infects B'Elanna through a telepathic link. While Tuvok strives to help Vorik on Voyager, B'Elanna gets out of control on an away mission on the devastated Sakari planet. She wants to mate with Tom, but he refuses her advances, knowing that she would not normally behave this way. When he finally agrees, Vorik appears and challenges him to perform the koon-ut-kal-if-fee. B'Elanna accepts the challenge herself and fights with Vorik, until both of them have overcome the pon farr. Remains of the aggressors are found on the Sakari planet: the Borg.

Commentary

Usually a story with crew members exhibiting erratic emotional unbalances is fair at most, but this one becomes special because of several small tidbits. Firstly, there is a good continuity to the events shown in TOS: "Amok Time", and it's surprising that it has taken 30 years before the topic is revisited. Secondly, it is a nice idea to give one of the minor recurring characters, namely Vorik, a considerable part in the story, after many of them had been killed off in "Basics", or were good enough to survive as long as to the next Vidiian or Kazon attack. Thirdly, the mini-cliffhanger with the dead Borg instead of the usual closing scene "Voyager warps into space" is a nice surprise. 

Some more things I noticed: It is interesting how freely sexuality is discussed in the episode; I missed the same open-mindedness on other occasions. B'Elanna remains remarkably calm and polite when Vorik asks her to mate with him. I would have expected her to break his nose upon his request. I also wonder why the climbing gear with the obviously unsecure mechanical anchors is rather primitive compared to the high-tech equipment used in TNG: "Chain of Command".

Annotations

Rating: 5

 

Unity

Synopsis

Stardate 50622.4: In response to a distress call Chakotay lands his shuttle on a planet where he is immediately attacked and his accompanying ensign killed. He is rescued by an obviously human woman. Meanwhile, Voyager discovers an abandoned Borg cube. The rivaling factions on the planet are actually all former Borg whose link to the Collective has been severed. A group among them, the Cooperative, strives to establish a neural link again to achieve peace. They use a connection to Chakotay's mind to direct him to the cube and reactivate the neuroelectric generator.

Commentary

The Borg are back - almost. It wouldn't have been a good idea to let Voyager run into an operational Borg vessel, so the abandoned cube was a good idea. The episode has nearly everything that a good story is made of, especially the frequent new revelations and turning points. Interestingly, Riley Frazier is much like a prototype of Seven of Nine, who will show up a couple of episodes later. Could it be the producers wanted to test if such a character would be accepted?

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Darkling

Synopsis

Stardate 50693.2: The Doctor attempts to improve his program by adding behavioral subroutines while Kes, after her break-up with Neelix, falls in love with Zahir, a Mikhal Traveler. The Doctor develops unexpected emotions, including jealousy, and he even attempts to kill Zahir. The evil Doctor suffers from a rapid decay of his program and he tortures B'Elanna to make her delete the original Doctor. When he does not succeed, he kidnaps Kes and threatens to kill her. Kes and the original Doctor can be saved in the very last moment.

Commentary

This is a bland routine episode with very few interesting aspects. It is rather annoying that once again a holoprogram, namely the Doctor, goes berserk, adding to the impression that the technology is extremely dangerous despite all its undeniable benefits.

Kes' departure at the end of the season is apparently being prepared here. She doesn't seem to have much business on the ship any longer, and the attractive alien traveler is as much a possible opportunity to leave as he is a love affair. It is a letdown that Kes' recent break-up with Neelix is only casually mentioned instead of elucidated, at least it could have been hinted at that it may have something to do with the events in "Warlord". The way the story is developed, she just falls in love with the next best alien she meets, and this again is nothing more than the basis for the "evil Doc" plot. I usually don't like if a story focuses on the crew's personal affairs while more serious problems are imminent. This time, however, I would have wished to see a Kes-Neelix story. It seems all relationships on Federation starships are ill-fated, they hardly play a role in the storyline and they break up silently.

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

Rise

Synopsis

Stardate not given: While Voyager's crew strives to help a planet of the Nezu that is permanently struck by asteroids, a shuttle with Neelix, Tuvok and the Nezu scientist Sklar crashes on the planet. Not being able to contact the ship, they repair an orbital tether to climb up to a point from where a communication link can be established. Janeway finds out that the asteroids are actually remote-controlled by the Etanian Order and Tuvok and Neelix succeeds in unmasking Sklar, who is a spy working for them.

Commentary

The essence of the plot didn't really touch me at first. Actually, I didn't like the episode at all when I first saw it, but subsequently I discovered the great moments of both Neelix and Tuvok. As a matter of fact, it's the first time that Neelix and Tuvok are confronted with one another in a non-humorous situation. After he had gone the wrong way in "Fair Trade", Neelix proves himself a valuable crew member in many respects. He is resourceful in doing repairs on the orbital lift (although I didn't like the technobabble about using Federation technology) and he is the one who feels that the dying doctor's remark that there is something on the roof (the plans of the Etanian ship) should be taken seriously. Moreover, his social skills turn out more appropriate than Tuvok's "I have the superior logic" attitude towards the other passengers. For once, Neelix feels like telling the Vulcan what he has always wanted to, that Tuvok is hiding behind his logic, relying only on his physical and mental strength and not caring about people's feelings. On the other hand, it wouldn't have been possible to regain control without Tuvok's Vulcan superiority. In some way, they complement each other much like Bones and Spock did. The closing scene in which they are teasing each other and each of them is trying to have the final say seems like a homage to the famous arguments in TOS.

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Favorite Son

Synopsis

Stardate 50732.4: Ensign Kim fires on a Nasari ship without authorization, and he seems to be familiar with the current region of space. Moreover, he is suffering from an inexplicable DNA mutation. Voyager is welcomed on the Taresian homeworld, a planet seemingly populated by no one but beautiful women, where Harry is surprised to learn he is actually a Taresian. Harry decides to stay at least for a while, and Voyager leaves to deal with the Nasari. The Nasari claim the Taresians are dangerous and warn Janeway that they would fire at any ship with one of them on board. On Taresia Harry learns the truth about their culture: Taresian women kill their mating partners by virtually "sucking off" their lives. Since Taresian males are rare, they infect alien males like Harry with their DNA and let them come to their homeworld to preserve their species.

Commentary

Harry in paradise! I would have understood if he had actually decided to stay on Taresia. Somehow I had wished that only this time everything was exactly as it appeared to be. However, it was easy to predict that this wouldn't be the case. The absurdity of the situation -beautiful women chasing Harry, eager to kill him- was interesting and was credibly presented.

Annotations

Rating: 4

 

Before and After

Synopsis

Stardate not given: A few years into the future Kes has reached the morilogium, the final phase of her natural lifespan of nine years. The Doctor attempts to prolong her life with a biotemporal chamber. A few moments later she finds herself at an earlier time of her life. She has a husband, Tom, a daughter, Linnis, a son-in-law, Harry, and a grandson, Andrew. Kes experiences several more temporal leaps, which take her further to the past each time. It is found out that the phenomenon is caused by residual chronitons in Kes' body after a Krenim attack in the so-called "Year of Hell", but each time a treatment is attempted another leap occurs. Kes even reaches a time prior to her conception, but eventually she can be stabilized in "the present".

Commentary

I liked the story very much, despite all the obvious oddities of the time travel, especially the fact that not Kes' body but only her consciousness is jumping. Few episodes have been equally dramatic, and this one is dramatic even in a literal sense, as it involves birth, life, marriage, children and death. Kes is growing very desperate as she experiences her life in reverse direction, especially since she has to tell the same story time and again, a bit like in TNG: "Cause and Effect" and TNG: "Parallels". Fortunately and surprisingly, there is enough time left in the episode to show emotions. It is a family story, comprising three generations. 

Parallel realities are always an opportunity to show crew members in unusual roles, and this episode brims over with such tidbits. We see Doctor "Van Gogh" with lots of new hair, Chakotay as the captain, Neelix as a security officer, Tom as Kes's husband, Harry as Tom's son-in-law, Kes' cute daughter Linnis and Kes' grandson Andrew, who has inherited a lot from his father, Harry. Not to forget the long-missing Carey, who is at least mentioned as being dead in this reality. Moreover, we get to see not only one Ocampa birth, but even two of them.

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Real Life

Synopsis

Stardate 50836.2: While the crew is investigating the destruction of a Vostigye space station, the Doctor has created a holographic family to improve his social skills. B'Elanna visits his family for dinner. She finds that they are ridiculously perfect and reprograms them to behave like real human beings. The result is that henceforth the Doctor's wife has a life of her own, his son is under the bad influence of Klingon friends, and his daughter suffers a fatal sports accident. Unable to cope with this situation the Doctor interrupts the program. In the meantime Tom is trapped somewhere between space and subspace with his shuttle, and the only chance to escape is to follow one of the vortices that already destroyed the space station. Back in the sickbay on Voyager, he can convince the Doctor to end his holodeck program and say farewell to his deadly injured daughter.

Commentary

I have rarely seen an installment with both so much fun and so much grief in it. Considering that the holodeck programs represent the ideas of their creators, the "ridiculously perfect" family is credible as the Doctor's vision, and so is the dysfunctional family that reflects B'Elanna's bad childhood experiences. On the other hand, while the Doctor's version is at least a nice place for recreation like a 24th century Disneyland, B'Elanna is not fair exaggerating the problems of a real family and burden too many problems at a time on the Doctor. I could have understood if the Doctor had ended the program when it seemed to become unbearable. Anyway, he is courageous enough to face the death of his daughter Belle, and Tom gets a nice scene when he convinces the Doctor to continue. It must be taken into account that, since the Doctor himself is a hologram too, Belle may be as real to him as an actual biological daughter. Her death scene makes it the most touching episode since TNG: "Inner Light" and DS9: "The Visitor". The opening credits should recommend to keep a box of Kleenex ready. 

The secondary plot of Tom flying into the subspace eddy was completely unnecessary and didn't contribute anything of interest. It only served to keep Tom away until the end when his character finds better use.

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Distant Origin

Synopsis

Stardate not given: The scientist Forra Gegen finds the remains of a human Voyager crewman with a genetic pattern related to his own race, the saurian-like Voth. He knows this is the keystone to his theory that the Voth actually evolved on a planet far away from the Delta Quadrant - on Earth. He heads for Voyager and abducts Chakotay, who understands Gegen's motivation and helps him prove his theory. However, the Voth government, due to their strict doctrine that they are the "First Race" and superior to warm-blooded animals like humans, prohibit any further research in this field. Gegen refuses, but when the court threatens to destroy Voyager he eventually complies and retracts his Distant Origin Theory.

Commentary

This is an outstanding story about Gegen/Galileo's daring yet unsuccessful struggle for his theory in particular and for the freedom of science in general. I can hardly remember an equally intellectual Star Trek episode. If there is still a proof necessary that the show has evolved beyond simple plots where the roles of good and evil are clear and the good always wins, I will most likely refer to "Distant Origin". Few other episodes are so full of vivid and pointed dialogues. This applies in particular to the dispute of the minister on one side and Chakotay and Gegen on the other side (I don't know if this was intentional, but "Gegen" is the German word for "against"). Gegen doesn't succeed, and to save Chakotay and Voyager he even has to completely retract his claims and give up his research. A change of mind for the records only. No, the truth doesn't prevail here, even though the minister neither manages to disprove Gegen nor seems to be very convinced herself of the doctrine she is lecturing. It is anything but a happy ending, still, there is hope that some day some Voth will insist on the truth again and will succeed.

There are several more things about the episode that I liked very much. Gegen's perspective remains predominant throughout the whole episode. It takes about 20 minutes until Voyager crew members play a role at all. It is obvious that such an "alien" kind of story wouldn't have been possible in the first season. To see a dinosaur excavate the bones of a human seems paradoxical, since we only know it the other way round; it was an ingenious idea. It is also funny to see how the saurians analyze the "mammalian mating ritual" of B'Elanna and Tom and that the first thing Gegen says to Chakotay is "Your instinct is to flee". I liked the continuity with the station at the Nekrit Expanse. It's a nice ironic detail that the Voth believe the green fake plasma is actually Voyager's warp plasma. The Voth are definitely the best aliens-of-the-week ever featured. I would love to see them again in some fashion, hopefully not as enemies of the Federation. Finally, I am somehow glad that Hogan's death on the savage planet in "Basics" was not entirely useless.

Annotations

Rating: 10

 

Displaced

Synopsis

Stardate 50912.4: Nyrians repeatedly appear on Voyager while rightful crew members disappear. Finally, the Nyrians have replaced the whole crew, who are now prisoners in an environment obviously especially created for their convenience on a huge ship with different habitats. The crew succeed in finding the control station, and they can transport the Nyrian leaders from Voyager to an arctic habitat, to force them to release all alien prisoners.

Commentary

Insidious: The Nyrians appear to be awkward and harmless, but they manage to capture the ship largely without violence. The first act of the play is a nice "alien takeover" variant, but the initial thrill dwindles in the following, because our crew regains the upper hand with too much routine and with predictable tricks like using the mobile emitter. Thousands of other aliens have spent many years in their prison, until the resourceful Voyager crew comes along and resolves the situation in only one day. It is a routine episode in every respect, and therefore rather below average. I somehow like the way the Nyrians are characterized, because they are not entirely convinced of and consequent in what they are doing, unlike typical TV villains who become frantic when they are being cornered and who prefer to go down with their ship. When Janeway overwhelms them, they seem helpless like kids who have just been arrested for shoplifting.

Rating: 4

 

Worst Case Scenario

Synopsis

Stardate 50953.4: A holonovel in which a Starfleet security officer has to decide whether to support a Maquis mutiny led by Chakotay and Seska or not has become popular among the crew. The program was created by Tuvok to train his crew for such a case, but later abandoned when Maquis and Starfleet were working well together. By popular demand, Tuvok and Tom start to write an ending for the program. Seska, however, detected the program prior to defecting to the Kazons and reprogrammed it in a way that the players would be killed. With Janeway's help from outside the holodeck and a number of quirks Tuvok and Tom can fool the holographic Seska and survive.

Commentary

Yeah right. Renegade Starfleet officers such as Eddington (see DS9: "For the Uniform") or Seska in this case have nothing better to do than tamper with computer programs, in the hopes that perhaps some day it might happen that there could be a chance they would possibly be able to take potential revenge. I also wonder if it is quite customary to create holograms of the crew on Voyager, whereas such a big deal was still made of Barclay's holographic replicas in TNG: "Hollow Pursuits". In spite of everything the story is enthralling, and it's also interesting in that it's not until 20 or more minutes into the episode that the real idea of the plot is revealed, which is most often the case in or directly after the teaser. This leaves fewer time than usual to solve the problem and gives the story a fast pace.

Rating: 7

 

Scorpion I/II

Synopsis

Stardate 50984.3: When Voyager approaches Borg territory, there is the option to turn around and stay in the Delta Quadrant or to use the so-called "Northwest Passage", which appears to be devoid of Borg activity. Actually this passage is occupied by a new, even more dangerous enemy known to the Borg as Species 8472. The Borg do not succeed in assimilating Species 8472, whose bioships destroy whole armadas of Borg cubes. Kim is infected with their cells and the Doctor attempts to save his life with the help of modified Borg nanoprobes. Janeway develops a daring plan: giving the Borg a means to defeat their enemy in exchange for a free passage through Borg territory. Despite Chakotay's vehement objections she negotiates with a representative of the Borg, Seven of Nine, a formerly human female. When the Borg cube is destroyed by Species 8472, the work is continued on Voyager, but with Janeway being severely hurt Chakotay terminates the cooperation he never wanted. When Species 8472 attacks Voyager, Janeway uses the weapon. It proves successful. Seven of Nine stays on board, and Janeway decides to sever her from the Collective.

Commentary

Not only because of the Borg this is an exciting two-part episode in the tradition of TNG: "Best of Both Worlds". When I first saw it I wondered if there was still any more suspense possible in the future. Frankly, my positive impression is mostly because of rather superficial "Wow!" effects such as "more Borg cubes than ever" or "someone more powerful than the Borg". Still, it does not go unnoticed that these elements are deliberately embedded in a story that otherwise focuses on the credibly presented Janeway-Chakotay controversies and gives new insight into the Borg civilization.

Annotations

Rating: 9

 


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