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Star Trek Voyager (VOY) Season 3 Guest Reviews

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

 

Basics, Part II

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Actually missed the second part but I'll review it from memory.

It didn't do the first part justice I thought. All that happens on the planet is Janeway ordering the crew to eat grubs, Hogan getting eaten by a monster, and Chakotay saving one of the natives from a volcano spill allowing the two peoples separated by millennia of development to make nice. What goes on on Voyager was much more entertaining though I thought, with Suder going totally bad-ass on the Kazon crew, having to allow his killer instincts to resurface in an effort to help retake the ship, which sadly costs him his life :-(

There's the not so surprising revelation that Tom wasn't killed while leaving the ship in the first part as he arrives back to help save the day with Talaxian reinforcements. But aside from returning the crew to Voyager, this episode pretty much puts to bed the long running Seska arc with her death, and the ships encounters with the Kazon, with Maje Culluh's final appearance.

Annotations

Rating: 7 (Cameron)

 

Flashback

Synopsis

Stardate 50126.4/2293: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Whilst the most enjoyment derived from this episode is indeed from the 'flashback' moments themselves. The premise getting to that point is thin.

Tuvok is getting the space crazies and turns out it's a repressed memory, he needs Janeway's help to guide him in reliving the memory to purge it from his unconscious and prevent it from doing serious harm to his brain. Upon entering a mind-meld in an effort to relive the memory, the pair find themselves on the bridge of the Excelsior during the events of "The Undiscovered County", from which Tuvok was an ensign on the ship under the command of Sulu.

After replaying the memory over it becomes clear to Tuvok and Janeway what was pretty apparent when we first entered the memory to see Tuvok experience the memory of the falling girl when tending to a dying Valtane (who was seen quite alive at the end of "The Undiscovered Country").

The Doc, who's monitoring the meld in Sickbay, uses something, something, radiation to kill the memory, masquerading as a virus, which had been passed from host to host over centuries, possibly millennia (given we see the earliest host of the virus as a Neanderthal (?) youth).

It's a pretty flimsy premise and had the flashback not been set on the Excelsior with a man of George Takei's calibre providing such a wonderful cameo, this episode would've fallen well down the rankings. But purely on things like Sulu's appearance, seeing the Excelsior, and the references to Star Trek VI, this episode gets a 6.

Annotations

Rating: 6 (Cameron)

 

The Chute

Synopsis

Stardate 50156.2: Harry and Tom find themselves in an Akritirian prison, surrounded by prisoners. They have been implanted with 'The Clamp'. This device stimulates their violent tendencies. When Harry gives in to the device, Tom saves him and when Tom gives in, Harry saves him. While the Akritirian government is stubborn, Janeway mounts a rescue operation which involves using Neelix' ship and some deception.

Commentary

Contrary to Bernd's review of this episode, I did not find this a episode worth a rating of 1. I thought it was quite exciting to watch, keeping the viewer on their toes. Harry and Tom's situation looked very desperate and the 'oh no' feeling was quite prominent throughout.

The manifesto of the one person being able to survive in the prison for six years (imagine counting 2191 or 2192 days) was forced onto Harry although he did not take much interest in it. The fact that the species which was introduced as violent at first could produce an individual capable of controlling the clamp is remarkable. This means that, however violent, at least this individual had far more willpower than Starfleet-trained humans (Tom and Harry).

I liked this episode because it gave me the same feeling as TNG: "The Game" and it kept me thinking about the situation. I thought it was quite a unique episode. Clearly, I've seen better episodes though and the four missing points are for the lack of Star Trek technology, the stupidly stubborn Akritirian government, the lengthy prison scenes and the easy way out at the end.

Rating: 5 (Tijmen de Haan)

 

The Chute

Synopsis

Stardate 50156.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

I also don't think this episode is as bad as a 1/10 rating, and I suppose it's also one that was long overdue. In the pilot we were introduced to the pairing up of Paris and Tom and how they could see eye to eye and be friends despite being at the opposite ends of the... disciplinary spectrum I guess, Tom being the outcast and Kim the boy-scout. It was only a matter of time before the two got an episode around them and their relationship, and this one goes to pretty extreme lengths to test that, with the pair nearly killing each other thanks to the 'clamps'.

Having said all that it's still not as good as I thought it could've been. Maybe if the episode surrounded on their breaking out and their journey to escape being hampered by the effects of going mad, it would've been a bit more interesting, instead of just being inside the prison with Harry going nuts and Tom nearly dying, just a thought. Pretty good cinematography, the atmosphere pretty dank and dark, the decaying sanity of the two Starfleet officers contrasting with the cliched resident Zen-Master Zio, who I thought had quite clearly lost his marbles despite his beliefs to the contrary.

The B-plot isn't very exciting, I thought it was unnecessary to introduce another compound of lithium. If the Akritirians had access to paralithium which is convertible into trilithium, why the hell bother playing around with the future's version of the periodic table in introducing a new compound for no reason where you can just settle on a well known alternative? I did like how they FINALLY remembered they have Neelix's ship and find a use for it too.

Anyway, in the end, this was the episode that had to be made, I don't think many future Harry/Tom episodes would've worked had they not gone through the trouble to solidify their friendship in the most testing way.

Annotations

Rating: 4 (Cameron)

 

The Swarm

Synopsis

Stardate 50252.3: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Janeway deserved to be locked up, even against the advise of her tactical officer and the resident expert in the Delta Quadrant, she ignored the perilous situation at hand and decided to place the crew in lethal jeopardy for the sake of a shortcut. This is entirely hypocritical of her. She stood by Starfleet laws to deny the Kazon technology to even ensure them water and clothes, she stood by her morals to strand her crew in the Delta Quadrant, and here she concocts some crazy scheme to make herself look like a fool, by saying that Federation laws should be damned cause she doesn't want the crew to spend an extra year out of a potential 70 making sure they don't come under attack from a potent force who only looked to attack those who crossed into their territory. For shame.

This episode is only good due to the B-story (or was it the A story? Both seemed to have roughly equal screen time...) about the Doctor's program degrading. It's kinda sad to see him so incompetent, and you do give his character alot of sympathy for that. And the final moment of the episode I thought was too ambiguous, reading Memory Alpha's synopsis, it say's that the Doctor had lost his memory regarding his relationships with the crew, but still remembers his opera. Will we even discern a difference in the next episode however?

The amount of technobabble hinders this episode along with Captain Hypocrisy's plan to nearly kill her crew. Whether it's saving the Docs program, trying to find a way through the Swarm's tachyon net, their shield sapping technology or whatever, the episodes littered with utter garbage talk followed by the handy '...that should be enough to.....' line to make it clear to us idiots what all that nonsense was meant to do.

Oh, and speaking of idiocy, how about the solution to the Swarm clamping onto the ship? They hesitated firing a photon torpedo into the Swarm from thousands of kilometers away due to the lack of shields, but there's no such problem in using the phasers and the resulting feedback pulse to blow up dozens of Swarm ships that were ATTACHED TO THE HULL at that point in time.

What nonsense, 3/10. I was going to give it 5, but I'm afraid the strength of the Doctor's plight wasn't strong enough to lift the rating higher, and we'll only see more examples of hypocrisy from Janeway in the future. Not too mention the entire lack of follow on this episode will no doubt have, the Swarm failed their first attempt to take on Voyager and just gave up even though Voyager was said to have not even been a 1/3rd the way through their territory where the episode ends? The Swarm's only group which when seen latching onto Voyager looks rather small as well, is that all they have to cover all their space? If so the entire region of space MUST have been smaller than suggested, otherwise, that would have meant only the one 'Swarm' was out there protecting this vast area yet still managing to guard it with the fiercest more bulletproof intent. Unlikely.

Rating: 3 (Cameron)

 

False Profits

Synopsis

Stardate 50074.3: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

This episode is goofy to the max but what can you expect when you have an episode surrounding grovelling Ferengi. But I think it's got intelligent scripting in parts, they do well to reference the events of TNG episode "The Price" which I suppose necessitated an episode like this happen on Voyager at some stage. I also like Janeway's cunning in rationalising Starfleet's duty to the people of the planet in question in stopping the interference the Ferengi have caused, due to their being there thanks to a Federation research project gone awry.

Then it gets totally fruity with Neelix masquerading as the Grand Proxy in an attempt to convince Arridor and Kol to return to Ferenginar. The major failing in these scenes though is how quickly violence is resorted to. Arridor suggests killing 'The Grand Proxy' when they realise their scheme is foiled, the mob of natives go so far as to grab torches and try to immolate the three 'Sages', is their something in the water in this planet?

Nothing too fantastic about this episode, it's funny and clever in parts in the way the crew use the song of the sage to extract the pair of Ferengi, a nice conclusion to 'The Price', but nothing special. Oh, and I just browsed over Bernd's review and agree on the appalling handling of the Ferengi escaping Voyager, overpowering trained Starfleet Security with their fists, making their way from Deck 2 to the shuttlebay without a whisper and blasting out! Makes the escape from the Death Star look like a picnic!

Annotations

Rating: 4 (Cameron)

 

Remember

Synopsis

Stardate 50203.1 : Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Another telepathic race with something to hide. Another Starfleet crew member at the mercy of having their thoughts violated. Another unspeakable crime exposed. Taking notes during this episode I couldn't help but feel of this as a TNG plot and amazingly enough that was the case. memoryalpha.org stating under this episode's page that this episode originated as a TNG episode with Troi meant to be the principlal character. Whilst not a great deal would have changed I wonder how the scene in which B'Elanna let's fly at the Enarans about the 'genocide' they suppressed would've been handled had it been the usually reserved Troi in the part. But anyway.

Voyager picks up some aliens on the week on their way to Earth (and like many of the recent aliens of the week, they happen to have this strange mesh surrounding their hairlines). This race is telepathic and it becomes evident these powers are being used on B'Elanna who experiences vivid dreams more akin to memories about a young woman in love with a member of a group of Enarans who have rejected all but the most rudimentary technology. This young woman's father is a military big cheese responsible for the resettlement of the 'Regressives'. Rumours are abound that this resettlement program is a genocide in disguised and the transporter used to relocate these people is in fact a vaporiser of sorts.

B'Elanna investigates further to discover an elderly Enaran on board is sending her these memories hoping Torres will reveal the truth to the next generation of Enarans. Which Torres obviously does. The elder Enaran's deny the statement, whilst another young Enaran accepts B'Elanna's offer of reliving the memories for herself.

I don't know about there being TOO great a historical allegory here just because genocide is supposedly being committed. Hell, I'm not even convinced that the genocide WAS committed! We are given no reason to believe EITHER party but their word on what is really happening and both stories seem equally plausible. We didn't get a chance to see the transporter device that the young man believes is a tool of execution, though memoryalpha.org states that the devices on which the young man was executed on WAS the device used to maintain the illusion of transportation, perhaps said victims were simply vaporised to molecules on a higher setting, point is, we didn't see the other Regressives being 'resettled' so can't say anything for sure! I suppose were to believe that the woman whose memories B'Elanna experienced later discovered the definitive truth for herself, but for the audience NOT to be made privy for that it's hard to take anyone's side. At least that's how I see it but anyway.

Roxann Dawson and Bruce Davison are quite excellent in this episode and, once again it's those driving performances which make the episode. There is a scene worth watching where Davison's character (the Enaran in the dream's father) speaks of how the Regressives spread lies and the young man featured in the dream is doting on others is wonderful, whilst Dawson's wordless reactions convey so much more.

And as an aside I will express the irony I felt in watching an episode about the development of a guest character played out by a regular character who, herself, will remain largely unaffected by these events and undergoes only as much development in the remaining 4 and a half seasons of Voyager.

So it's not too bad an episode, the performances of the actors I noted are really worth viewing and the writing was pretty good. I'm glad that the story delved well into the Enaran society and was more than a shallow glimpse. I think I'll give it 5.

Rating: 5 (Cameron)

 

Sacred Ground

Synopsis

Stardate 50063.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

More mystical mumbo-jumbo takes the spotlight in what's certainly the worst episode of the series so far, Kes is struck down by some energy field, and Janeway goes through grueling albeit pointless tasks in an effort to save her, going through a crisis of faith which I really couldn't care a great deal about in the process. She goes the entire episode trying to find a scientific explanation for Kes' condition to get a treatment, it boils down to her having to walk Kes through the field again, which is successful due to a number of amazing coincidences about Janeway's metabolism, the initial failed treatment of Kes, and the 'will of the spirits'. Janeway finds the rather rational explanation at the end disappointing by the looks of it, well boo-hoo. She had been wanting a concrete solution to the problem and got it only after taking a desperate leap of faith, why so upset?

I just found it garbage really, a dull, boring episode where there's zero tension cause Kes isn't exactly a character people could've found themselves caring about much considering the lack of exposition she's received thus far, and even then, she's had much better episodes devoted to her where she at least got the chance to ACT a bit in them.

The incredibly generous 1 point awarded is ONLY for seeing Janeway semi-semi-naked, that was hot.

Annotations

Rating: 1 (Cameron)

 

Future's End

Synopsis

Stardate 50312.5: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

"Future's End" is a great story that never left me bored. I have to admit that I was skeptical about this episode before actually watching it. The synopsis made it sound ridiculous like so many Voyager episodes. "Future's End" was a pleasant surprise as it did not reveal too much 29th century technology to the viewer and risk becoming too ridiculous. The episode reminds me a lot of TNG: "Time's Arrow" and seems just as good, especially considering the time loop issue is similar.

I know the idea of the Doctor's mobile emitter was a controversial one. Too many times in Voyager the writers seem to go a little too far with the science fiction they come up with. One would think that the Federation would be radically different after Voyager comes home at the end of the series, but nothing seems much different about it in ST:N.

I appreciate how the side jokes in the episode were treated as well. They never got too out of hand like so many other Voyager episodes, and the writers had a lot of opportunities to make a lot of tiresome jokes considering the 20th century setting.

Annotations

Rating: 8 (Chris)

 

Future's End, Part I

Synopsis

Stardate 50132.5/1996: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

I was always a bit sceptical about the premise of this episode, it always seemed to me that time travel adventures involving Earth were a bit of a desperate grab for ratings, kind of like "Time's Arrow". But this actually handles the issue in a smarter manner which doesn't try to go out of its way too much to place the story on the setting. Of course, there's no way around that with the constant social commentary running about the fashion of the time, identical ring tones for mobile phones, SETI, Soap Operas, the Computer revolution of the time and so on.

Having said that, it still translates into a great first part-er, Ed Begly Jr. and Sara Silverman weren't the most conventional choices for a guest spot on Star Trek, but they played their roles really well (Can you imagine Sarah Silverman in THIS day and age acting so pleasant, saying this in 2008 it's almost like watching two different people haha).

And the scenes on Earth were well done, it's not often Trek ventures outside for location shooting beyond the famous mountain ranges often used (the name of which escapes me), so it was smart to fully utilise the locations of Los Angeles. There's some good action scenes and I particularly liked the banter between Tuvok and Paris. Braxton was stereotypically insane and I didn't like that. The scene where Kes and Neelix are watching the soap opera is a screamer, and it's funny watching Janeway hesitantly operate a late 20th century computer, and Chakotay remarking on its interface. So in the end, it's really fun but doesn't let the viewer get bogged down in the weight of the situation (OMG Voyager's back home, yay?), because the crew know they can't get too worked up, and the ramifications of failing are too severe, and the villain in Starling is one they will have to do well to match considering the advanced technology at his disposal.

There's little point commenting on the plotholes and paradoxes regarding the Eugenics War and the Computer revolution only coming about thanks to 29th century involvement. The Eugenics War would've eventually been retconned to a later date as Earth would find itself in a more devastating war only decades later in WW3. And the computer revolution paradox? I have no answer really. And it's bound to leave others with the same headache Janeway said such paradoxes gave her.

Annotations

Rating: 8 (Cameron)

 

Future's End, Part II

Synopsis

Stardate 50312.5/1996: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Unlike many 2-parters I actually think this one is right on par with the opening act of the first part. A lot more tension oriented with Starling's impending launch, is it on or off? He's on the surface, taunting Janeway from his office one moment then he back on Voyager, then somehow he's beamed back to Earth. So without worrying about things like Soap Operas and fashion, the episode just takes aim at stopping Starling.

I didn't like the paranoid rednecks, I think it's pretty obvious the entire sequence is nothing but filler, and the antagonists in the situation were so horribly stereotypical, at least Chakotay was pretty sincere talking about his past life as a freedom fighter didn't lead to anything satisfying in a futile attempt to endear himself to his captors. Of course, there's also the issue of the Doc's mobile emitter. The way he's boasting about it and strongly articulating to the camera about it nearly screamed 'Jump the Shark' to me, but that's certainly NOT the most important thing to have happened in this episode. And it actually does make sense that such a piece of technology would eventually have been developed, so while it did seem so convenient his receiving the emitter during the story, it's actually pretty plausible.

Starling's torture of the Doctor trying to get Janeway's 'psyche' profile was quite disappointing as well, as Bernd says in his review, it looked like they couldn't quite find the balance they wanted with his character, and the Doctor's hypothesis of Starling being bi-polar seems to only have been made mention of to try and justify his sudden ruthlessness in an effort to gain something possibly insignificant at the time. He had all this future technology at his disposal, he had a forcefield surrounding the Aeon which couldn't be penetrated, while I understand the need to understand your enemy, I thought it was just not needed. His plan to to go lol, Back to the Future, actually seemed somewhat credible to me. He after all only had one small Federation ship to him, perhaps a successful trip to the 2800's could've yielded a bigger bounty as he has a plethora of alternative sources of technology to choose from. Useful Medical equipment, replicators, alien technology. He's quite alot like Berlinghoff Rasmussen now that I bring that up, and his actions are equally selfish despite his rhetoric.

Despite all that, there's still moments I liked, the talk between B'Elanna and Chakotay seemed justified, had they gotten stuck what would they have done? The fact that they both think staying on Earth is the solution was a bit short-sighted IMO. Why not travel to Vulcan and tell people who might have actually accepted their situation? There's the contamination issue true, but I'd imagine Vulcans being smart enough NOT to openly risk contaminating the timeline by letting Voyager roam around the Alpha Quadrant sticking its nose where it wouldn't belong. That's totally my opinion though and I could understand why people would find fault with that option.

And Rain and Paris, it was actually pretty sad to have had to see the two become split up, one reminisces that Kes would leave the series not long after, it's a shame they couldn't just beam up Rain like was done in The Voyage Home with Gillian and have Rain join. Hell, there wasn't a lot to keep her on Earth and I suppose having her boss killed and Voyager leave wouldn't have been too good for her career. Maybe I'm sentimental cause I thought Silverman was hot and her and McNeill had great chemistry, oh well. And I guess we see why Janeway loathes the Temporal Prime Directive as evidenced in "Relativity" and "Endgame", as here due to said Directive her crew isn't allowed to be returned to Earth in it's own time period by Braxton. I get that she should've used the slingshot effect, but considering the damage inflicted by Braxton in part 1, were they willing to try and defy what he himself would've prevented when asked?

In spite of its few flaws it does get just the 1 point taken off bringing it to a 7, but that still doesn't matter, this is a great couple of episodes not just of Voyager, but of Star Trek as a whole.

Annotations

Rating: 7 (Cameron)

 

Warlord

Synopsis

Stardate 50348.1-50361.7 : Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

This is a pretty dull episode which serves to give Jennifer Lien SOMETHING to do beyond play nurse and get the space crazies from her mental abilities. Voyager picks up three survivors from a wrecked ship before it explodes. One of them however transmits the consciousness of a brutal dictator 200 years old into Kes before he dies, Kes then proceeds to take power on a planet whilst under Tieran's mental power. Some people get shot, but the situations pretty easily resolved. Cue credits.

And that's really it, it's so non-eventful and so boring that ONLY Lien's acting here is a saving grace. Here she toes the line between the personality of this aggressive warlord having to fight off Kes, and in a few short scenes she is herself again, but the majority of the performance is done under this alien influence. And there's not much else to say besides that, it's the typical 'Starfleet crew member taken hostage' plot with a twist, but despite the twist the happenings on! Voyager are the same. The resident alien of the week having to deal with the crisis wants the troublemaker dead, putting the hostage at risk, the Captain again would never resort to that. There's one attempt to resolve the situation which fails then another unlikely breach of the compound where Kes is rescued and Tieran's mind is expelled. Other things are touched on like the history of Tieran's rule and we see his inner circle, but I can't say I was too intrigued and wanted it all to just come to an end.

There are however a couple of other things worth merit. The scene between Kes/Tieran and the captured Tuvok where the latter interrogates the former and insinuates Tuvok has some lusting for Kes. And also a confrontation between Kes and Tieran inside Kes' mind, so a couple of points there and for Lien's performance. But the remainder of the episode is pretty forgettable.

Annotations

Rating: 2 (Cameron)

 

Warlord

Synopsis

Stardate 50348.1: Synopsis in main Voyager listing.

Commentary

It probably should come as no surprise that this turned out to be a silly episode. The concept --- that tiny, sweet, passive Kes --- is possessed by the neural pattern of a vicious alien warlord (named Tieran) pretty much assured that the end result would be farcical.

The capacity of alien beings (usually villainous ones) to take possession of humanoid bodies is very well established in the Star Trek universe. We have seen Redjac’s possession of Hengist (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold"), the Companion’s possession of Nancy Hedford (TOS: "Metamorphosis"), Sargon’s possession of James Kirk (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow"), the Beta Renner life-form’s possession of Jean-Luc Picard (TNG: "Lonely Among Us"), the Ux-Mal prisoners’ possession of Deanna Troi (TNG: "Power Play"), Vantika’s possession of Julian Bashir (DS9: "The Passenger"), not to mention Pah-wraiths who take possession of Keiko O’Brien (DS9: "The Assignment"), Jake Sisko (DS9: "The Reckoning"), and Gul Dukat (DS9: "What You Leave Behind").

Given that this apparently happens at least once or twice to every starship that leaves spacedock, one would hope that this would eventually be the kind of thing Starfleet doctors routinely scan for. Mercifully, this time out no one is particularly surprised that an alien has taken possession of Kes. Indeed, the doctor is able to determine how it happened and devise a cure quite easily. In previous possession episodes, the possessor often trips up because they stay in the same body long enough to be figured out. In this case, Tieran’s doctor advises that he abandon Kes’s body and seek a new host and Tieran only stays in order to retain Kes’s telepathic abilities.

One of the oddest twists of this episode involves the gender swap. Tieran is a male transported into Kes’s female body --- a gender change that has clearly upset his/her wife Nori. By contrast, Tieran immediately adopts his/her new gender and uses Kes’s feminine wiles to try to seduce Ameron --- son of the Ilarian Autarch,! whom he/she has just killed. He/she later tries to seduce Tuvok! Ultimately, he/she decides to marry Ameron and implies strongly to Nori that the three of them will have some kind of three-way relationship.

In the end, the fact that Kes actually fights off Tieran’s possession is a welcome change from previous possession episodes. Normally we just have the victim saying something at the end like "it was like I was just a passenger; I could see what was happening but I couldn’t do anything." This ending leaves Kes significantly more empowered than Troi, for example, had been at the conclusion of TNG "Power Play."

At the end of the day, we can say that Jennifer Lien (Kes/Tieran) did a much better job playing a tough villain than Alexander Siddig (Bashir/Vantika) did in DS9: "The Passenger." Unfortunately, that’s not saying much. In other words, this was a silly episode, but at least it wasn’t horrible.

Annotations

Rating: 3 (John Hamer)

 

The Q and the Grey

Synopsis

Stardate 50384.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

For all the silliness that always seemed to accompany Q for at least half of his episodes this one does well to balance the comedy and the bigger picture. The Continuum falling into civil war though? Even though our current society still has trouble accepting the right for one to end their own life, factions haven't emerged and those in favour and against haven't come to violent blows as a result, I guess that's just to show for all the power the Q possess, they are extremely arrogant. In retrospect, I think Q's antics on the Enterprise may have had a greater message about individuality and anti-authority, albeit at the cost of inconvenience and irritation of Picard. But in taking up Quinn's role as martyr, Q 'grows up' in a sense. I guess you could have already said that in "Death Wish" where he was on the opposing side and pointing out the ramifications of allowing one Q to commit suicide, which is surprisingly dark for an episode featuring a more mature Q, but here he's got a greater purpose than just representing the establishment. And when we see the Q in favour of crushing 'our' Q's freedom movement, it's pretty clear why he would have switched sides. It does make me wonder why he was so adamant to keep things the way they were in "Death Wish" though if he was always such a rebel. Maybe his threats to destroy humanity in "All Good Things" weren't his alone and he may have served the Continuum in some capacity those times.

Anyway, enough hypothesising, back to the episode. It's also in this we see a little bit more depth to Janeway. By this stage I think people may have forgotten she had a life and a husband back on Earth, so this is honoured by Q pointing out that the chance for children with Mark may have slipped away and she admits the prospect is one she's open to (Of course, not to Q though ;D). However she clearly brushes aside her personal desires and the chance for cosmic adventures as mother of Q Jr. to continue her responsibilities to her ship. Her saying her crew wasn't after a 'quick fix' was quite premature though, had she said all this in front of the crew in denying the chance to get them home it may not have gone down so well I thought...But anyway, she had her responsibilities and teaches Q the value of them as well if he has any hope of becoming a father. And this I'm guessing is probably the theme of the whole affair.

Suzie Plakson is great in her supporting role as the female Q. And it's funny how her lamentations over Vulcans and Klingons reference her brief roles as the Vulcan Dr. Selar and Worf's Klingon mate K'Ehleyr, both from The Next Generation.

Annotations

Rating: 7 (Cameron)

 

Macrocosm

Synopsis

Stardate 50425.1: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

It's many episodes rolled into one. The "lone crewmember takes on an external threat whilst the remainder of the crew are incapacitated in one way or another" script. Watching this you'd recall episodes like "Wink of an Eye", "Starship Mine", "Genesis", and episodes to follow like "One", "Extinction" and "Doctor's Orders", the episode even feels like "Aliens" with the obvious parallel of the infection of crewmembers leading to the births of new creatures from the hosts, and "Terminator 2", with Janeway looking similar to Sarah Connor as she battles her way through the ship.

Despite that though it's still a somewhat fun though shallow episode. It's well paced and felt longer than the standard 45 minute episode.

After completing talks with an alien race, Janeway and Neelix return to Voyager to find it adrift. Venturing on board the pair find the corridors deserted and main power failing with an ominous threat of an alien lifeform on board. Neelix is attacked by one and taken, leaving Janeway to fend for herself. She's bitten by a small insect and makes her way to sickbay after transmitting a distress call.

The Doctor relays to her the story of how Voyager responded to the hails of an alien mining colony infected with a virus. After beaming back from investigating, the Doctor realises the virus is now on the ship and it spreads till the crew is incapacitated.

The Doc though has developed a cure but the ship is attacked by the same race at the start of the episode who claim to have "purified" the mining colony and are now set to do it again to Voyager. Janeway pleads with them to give her a chance as a cure has been developed she is willing to share. She then lures the creatures into the holodeck, and throws in an "antigen bomb", boom, aliens killed, and a happy ending is had by all. Except for the miners who were brutally exterminated by the Tak Tak, but not mention is made of this heinous action, poor bastards. The attack by the Tak Tak (say that 10 times fast) wasn't really needed though and seemed thrown in just to pad the episode out by an extra minute and attempt to add yet more tension into an already desperate situation.

It's an exciting episode but no more, nothing deep or profound, an excercise in appealing to the baser instincts of the viewer whilst throwing the sci-fi crowd a bone in the "macrovirus" being based in the realms of science fiction (we'd hope). The cinematography is good with the darkened and empty corridors of Voyager being foreboding and all, Mulgrew looks to have had fun. An ok episode, but nothing more.

Annotations

Rating: 4 (Cameron)

 

Macrocosm

Synopsis

Stardate 50425.1: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

An unusual performance from Kate Mulgrew - she turns into a mix of Rambo, John McClane and Ripley - the analogies of the story (a heavy armed Janeway crawling through the ship hunting an alien species) to the famous movie series are obvious. We have seen very different kinds of alien takeovers before, this belongs to the more interesting ones. Some of the scientific background of the macrovirus is vague and there are some mistakes considering the abilities of the life-forms. But I applaud the writers for creating a much different organism (and antagonist) than we are used to see on Star Trek. The tentacle-swinging, slime-squirting, stinging biests are vicious, angst-inducing and a sickening sight. The audience has to wait a while until finally being able to see them, until then you can only hear their buzzing - quite unsettling. The excellent cinematography and a good score complete a dark and sinister atmosphere, which gives constant thrills, especially during the first twenty minutes. I also liked the Doctor's retrospective report about how the virus got on board, while he is performing surgery on the captain. A rather funny element was Janeway's plan to distract the large macroviruses by using the holodeck. A swarm of macroviruses descending on the holographic occupants of a beach resort was very amusing. The intervention of the Tak Tak at the end was completely unnecessary.

Annotations

Rating: 8 (Apex)

 

Fair Trade

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Neelix lets his paranoid delusions force him into criminal undertakings in an effort to save himself from a perceived 'plank walk' if they find out his knowledge of the Delta Quadrant ended at the Nekrit Expanse. What was he expecting though, really? Did he seriously consider that Janeway would've told him to jump ship? He had made a life for himself on the ship, his being 'guide' was hardly that deciding a factor in keeping him on ship, from what we saw there was the odd episode where he pointed out a brief summation of a system or a peoples who Voyager would encounter, ok, that was helpful at times. But in all honesty there was no way Neelix's ideas of being kicked off ship were justified. But we see him with all endeavour try to pick up more tasks to do in an effort to apply himself in other ways to the ship. Seeing Neelix was introduced as some kind of 'jack of all trades', it's surprising his roles hadn't ventured outside of cooking and being a pain. This guy was a scavenger treading a fine line of survival through the 'perilous' Delta Quadrant for a long time before Voyager turned up, Voyager may have been a powerful ship, but I thought some of his tricks for survival may have come into play at some stage before now.

But that aside it's not a terrible episode, it's just not that darned special either. I liked the station, it had that cross-cultural alien feel about it (Bahrat's office at least, the remainder of the station just looked like a minor redress of the prison station from 'The Chute') with all its alien occupants. The visual impact of the Nekrit expanse is impressive too, surely a precedent for the Delphic Expanse later seen in Season 3 of Enterprise. Neelix is also surprisingly "bad-ass" when taunting Tosin to fire with the leaking plasma container in his hand, and Janeway is equally impressive when dressing Neelix down in the final scene. The story is semi-plausible and at least the element of drug-trafficking is brought in with real-world comparisons.

And why Kes wasn't in this one Bernd asks? Well by this stage the pair had broken up. His relationship with Wix was developed long before he met her, and it was a story more about his fears, and his insecurities which he clearly had no interest in discussing with anyone else. I bet Kes would've blabbed to the Captain anyway...

Rating: 4 (Cameron)

 

Fair Trade

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main Voyager listing.

Commentary

It makes sense that we would eventually get to the extreme edge of "known space" from the Talaxian perspective. And so it also makes sense the Neelix would eventually be faced with a choice. Aside from Kes, everyone else on Voyager is on a journey home. Neelix, by contrast, is traveling in the opposite direction. Now that Voyager is leaving Neelix’s home space forever, he ought to be deciding whether he really wants to leave everything behind forever or whether he should get back in his little ship and go his own separate way.

Neelix’s apparent recent break-up with Kes (VOY: "Warlord") muddy his motives for staying with Voyager. Sure, he’s made a lot of friends, but how close are any of these relationships? Who is Neelix staying on the ship to be with? Tuvok? Is he really prepared to go the rest of his life without ever seeing another female Talaxian?

We might expect that Neelix’s reunion with Wixiban ("Wix"), an old friend and fellow Talaxian, would spark this very question. Instead, Wix serves as a mirror for what Neelix may once have been. Wix is a scavenger and an opportunist who is willing to smuggle drugs and to steal in order to get by. Worse, he’s not a successful scavenger --- his shuttle has been impounded for non-payment of debt.

Viewing Wix’s life seems to make Neelix absolutely desperate. The question he ponders not whether he’s willing to abandon his home space. Instead he asks himself if he has any value to the Voyager crew at all (now that he is no longer of any use as a guide), and, if not, how he could possibly live without his chef job, his plush quarters, and his holodeck rations.

After Neelix follows Wix’s lead and gets caught in the middle of some foolish and illegal schemes, we almost have to agree with his insecure self-assessment. Why is Captain Janeway letting this guy stay on the ship? Within the first few days of getting stuck in the Delta Quadrant, she chose to integrate a couple of aliens permanently into her crew. In doing so, she surely broke Starfleet regulations due to the extenuating circumstances of being so far from home. But if it was a good idea, why hasn’t she occasionally picked up additional aliens along the way? It might not have hurt to add a handful of additional skilled crewmembers from friendly species, especially where skill sets are in short supply (e.g., the medical department).

There may be a host of other valuable crewmembers available in the Delta Quadrant, but the one we have is Neelix. And it looks like we’re stuck with him.

Annotations

Deleted scene: When Kes broke up with Neelix a few episodes previously (VOY: "Warlord"), she was actually under the possession of the alien entity Tieran. It was therefore not clear if she had really broken up with him or her words were Tieran's. However, if it was Tieran, he words rang remarkably true as something Kes might have said; it's hard to believe he had such quick mastery of her memories and how to use them to fool and manipulate Neelix. In order to provide closure, an additional scene between the two was filmed as part of "Fair Trade," but was cut for time.

Rating: 3 (John Hamer)

 

Fair Trade

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

And it went so well! Neelix did his cooking, his morning show and morale officer stuff, Janeway told him only one episode earlier that she might promote him to ambassador because of his diplomatic talents. And now he is insecure because Voyager has reached the boundaries of the space he is familiar with. His position as a guide has not been very important anyway, often he could only provide hearsay or rumors and sometimes he did not have any clue at all. So now he tries desperately to find a new position on the ship. The fact that Tuvok, Torres and Janeway ultimately reject his requests is still odd. Evidently Voyager has no need for additional security officers or engineers or pilots or anything else for that matter. Neelix seems to be almost dispensable on Voyager, the ship and the series - the writers neglected to make him more usable in the first place and missed the countless opportunities to evolve his character and abilities as they successfully did with the Doctor.

In this episode Neelix not only prooves his lacking self-confidence but also poor judgement. He could have known better what his old friend Wixiban was up to, Wix' threat of telling the Voyager crew about Neelix' past is an empty one - as if they would not have come to the conclusion anyway when meeting him for the first time, after all he was a scavenger! I agree with Bernd's positive opinion about Wixiban. Fortunately he was not the clichéd, bitter, former jail inmate, who only seeks revenge. The rest of this episode is unremarkable. We see some maleficent aliens and another dark and dirty space station.

Rating: 3 (Apex)

 

Alter Ego

Synopsis

Stardate 50460.3: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Another dullish and uninteresting episode saved by Tim Russ' great acting. Alter Ego talks about the loneliness of people, the loneliest of Kim, of Tuvok and Marayna. Kim's situation, I actually don't find it that implausible. What we knew of him so far was he was a bookish sort of nerd who certainly had more trouble fitting in than the jovial Tom Paris, without his girlfriend back in San Francisco to keep him company, I could foresee him garnering that sort of affection for a holo-character. 70 years from home, maybe none of the woman on board are interested or single or whatever, what choice does one have? Deny what little opportunity there is for SOME kind of companionship only the holodeck offered? It's a real world parallel to the way people take solace in computer games and 'online persona's' in an effort to escape their real world situations which they aren't particularly fond of. And I also understand Kim's frustration, finding myself in somewhat of a similar position lately, I wouldn't be too happy if the lady of my interest would without warning started hanging around another guy. Jealousy is a powerful emotion, and while Kim may not have been right to have spoken to Tuvok the way he did, it was certainly the most human thing to have done, if not the most mature thing.

Tim Russ, yep, solid performance like always, can't say much more than that. It's not an episode that asked alot of him like in 'Meld', but the subtlety in which he plays this part, making the character seem so, well, I hesitate to say 'human', but giving his character more depth than any other clichéd Vulcan seen since Spock.

What I may have liked though, have Marayna the last of her people or something, the fact that she had the opportunity to return to her society kind of robbed that sort of tragedy about her situation akin to that of exiled and eternally lonely Zarabeth in "All Our Yesterdays" to which this episode is compared. And I think we could've done without the usual threats to destroy the ship and kill the crew, it's a bit sad they couldn't find a way around that somehow to make it so predictable.

Rating: 5 (Cameron)

 

Alter Ego

Synopsis

Stardate 50460.3: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

This episode combined elements from TNG's "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Future Imperfect". A holodeck character, that takes over the ship and a very lonely alien with sophisticated technology at it's disposal. The central theme is loneliness, at first we have Harry Kim who falls in love with Marayna, a holodeck character from the resort program, secondly there is Tuvok, who enjoys doing things alone and suppresses any desire to spend time with other crew members and thirdly Marayna, an alien, who works on a small ship maintaining a nebula (imagine the job description!) and likes to peep through other ship's computers.

It is not clear why Harry is becoming so distracted. Surely a simple love at first sight can not be the reason for him having the attention span of a goldfish at the beginning of the episode. Harry The Resident Teenager Kim - it makes him look unprofessional and immature, much more than his later outburst, when he catches Tuvok and Marayna together. Of course there is the possibility, that Marayna's purposive seduction clouded his mind, although I tend to the former. Tuvok is unusually cooperative, when asked to teach Vulcan techniques to control emotions. However, when he sees Marayna playing kal-toh he becomes interested in her himself. I liked Marayna's analysis of Tuvok's loneliness and his ways of protecting it. His solitude-by-choice is further illustrated by the difference to the other Vulcan, Ensign Vorik, who has no problem wearing a hawaiian shirt. The moment you realize that Marayna is preventing Voyager from leaving and threatens to distroy it, the episode plunges down. Only Tim Russ' acting saves it by the bell.

Annotations

Rating: 3 (Apex)

 

Coda

Synopsis

Stardate 50518.6: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Janeway dies a couple of times, has to fend off an evil alien posing as her dead-ghost father intent on bringing her into his 'Matrix', who she fends off successfully.

That's it. It's got some good acting and some interesting scenes though, like the multiple 'deaths' of Chakotay and Janeway in the shuttle or at the hands of Vidiians or otherwise. Kes' powers come into play in an effort to find the Captain, Tuvok notes that Janeway must be dead after Kes fails and that he has lost a dear friend, and B'Elanna gives a nice speech at her 'funeral' in the mess hall.

But it's all reset, they could've followed through with it all! It would've at least validated alot of the words spoken of her by the crew about what she meant to them, but instead it's all taken back. No harm would've come from allowing the episode to proceed in 'real time' circumstances. So it's an alright episode acting wise, and we get some background into Janeway's family, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Annotations

Rating: 6 (Cameron)

 

Coda

Synopsis

Stardate 50518.6: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

A shuttlecraft crashes. Again. Sometimes I wonder if the writers come up with ideas by pulling colored balls out of a sack or something, one of the balls must be labeled "Shuttlecraft crash". Although it looks to be bad at the beginning, the episode recovers from this recycled plot element very quickly. For a time it seems Janeway and Chakotay are stuck in a time loop. After successfully avoiding any more looping Janeway contracts the Vidiian phage, the Doctor poisons her with nerve gas and she finds herself back on the shuttle. Eventually she sees Chakotay desperately trying to revive her unresponsive body. The episode now gears down to a slower pace when Janeway observes the crew's futile attempts to revive her body and to make contact with her spirit, which was briefly noticed by Kes. Janeway's father appears and tells her that she is dead. He says that she has to accept her death and tries to convince her to let go, which Janeway refuses. When the crew holds a memorial service everybody is overwhelmed with sadness and tears are running down their faces. A remarkable scene. Janeway's constant refusal to leave is finally having an effect, when she realizes, that her father is the projection of an alien, who tries to collect her soul for nourishment and she is able to brake the alien's grip to her mind and awakes, surrounded by her rescue party.

Attentive TNG fans probably spotted the similarities with "Cause and Effect", "The Next Phase" and "Time's Arrow".

The fact that almost all of the things we have seen in this episode happen in Janeway's imagination gives a very interesting psychological insight. We learn how she (rightfully) believes how much the crew cares for her, how much they consider her a trusted friend and how desperate everyone would be after her death.

Annotations

Rating: 6 (Apex)

 

Blood Fever

Synopsis

Stardate 50537.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Blood Fever: It's all about sex, people! Yay, for once this issue which was normally brushed over in the much more conservative series TOS and TNG makes a rare reappearance and in good fashion. While we may not have that much interest in Vorik considering how new of a character he is (only being introduced in recent episodes), we still got the feeling something was going on between Tom and B'Elanna. This episode is the catalyst for their relationship, and wow do the actors make it convincing. Meanwhile Vorik is offered up a holographic Vulcan babe as an alternative to satisfy his urges, and at the same time the Doctor provides good yet bordering on creepy comic relief as he relishes the chance to study the mating habits of other cultures. The C-plot regarding the natives isn't too much of a burden, and it's nice for once the hostage taking aliens are actually co-operative and hear out Chakotay's plan.

I'm not too sure what the deal is with 'transferring' of Pon Farr, it seems something unnecessary in Vulcan culture. Saavik didn't need it to mate with a young Spock in "The Search for Spock", and I don't think I'd need much convincing to mate with some hot alien chick and wouldn't need some extra 'zing' to get the job done. But anyway, it was necessary to the plot and isn't so problematic it isn't worth dwelling upon too much.

So actually, a surprisingly entertaining episode.

Annotations

Rating: 7 (Cameron)

 

Blood Fever

Synopsis

Stardate 50537.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

There are a number of Star Trek episodes which make sidenotes to sex. This one is completely dedicated to it. It provides insights into the mysterious Vulcan pon farr ritual. We also see familiar Klingon mating practices like biting and sniffing at wrists.

I like the extensive use of a recurring character, Vorik, who is played well by Alexander Enberg. There are nice continuities as well. The relationship between B'Elanna and Tom moves a step forward - firstly they almost have sex and secondly because of Tom's adamant defense of B'Elanna's dignity, although he had the hardest time of his life doing that. They will eventually marry in a later season. The romantic interest of Vorik towards B'Elanna had already been established in the episode "Alter Ego".

It is not easy to believe how a Vulcan could possibly induce a pon farr in a non-Vulcan female, who then exhibits the Klingon mating practices, but retains the Vulcan chemical imbalance, which again would be severe enough to kill her.

It seems unrealistic how B'Elanna and Neelix could endure falling down the cave shaft without sustaining serious injuries, the latter only having a broken leg.

The question why the Borg did not salvage the body of the dead drone stays unanswered.

Annotations

Rating: 5 (Apex)

 

Unity

Synopsis

Stardate 50614.2 : Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Shuttle Crasher Chuckles is on another away mission surveying the Nekrit Expanse when a distress call brings him and disposable Voyager crewmember #334 to a planet. They are attacked and said Ensign is killed. Chakotay is nursed back to health by a human, but discovers that she, along with the other inhabitants, are former Borg drones. The drones beamed to the surface when their cube was crippled in space, at first their individuality was liberating but old prejudices between races started to resurface, and efforts are made to re-establish the link between the former drones. Janeway doesn't like the idea and doesn't give it the go-ahead, but under influence from the 'Cooperative', Chakotay hijacks a shuttle, makes his way to the damaged cube and reactivates the doo-wacky necessary to make the connection work again.

There's of course a big question mark over that final issue and thankfully the episode doesn't sugar coat that. The 'Cooperative' only seem to number in the single figures if what we saw of them was to be believed, yet they, as Chakotay muses at the end, wanted to use the re-established link to assert their ideals over a colony of thousands. Does that make them any better than the Borg despite their good intentions? I'm not sure. They may have just been a small group of people who wanted control over a violent population and would do anything to attain that ideal, and one wonders how the remaining inhabitants who didn't want this link will cope now that it has been enforced.

There's both a few pros but also a couple of nitpicks here, the idea behind something like the 'Cooperative' was nice and when we have a human like Frazier and the Romulan Orum working together it's good. I also liked the scene where Chakotay is linked to the Cooperative mind to have his injuries healed, we pass from one member to another and each person's voice joins in a chorus of the familiar Borg Collective voice we've heard before. There's also a fair chunk of dialogue in the first act hinting at the truth behind the means by which these people got to the planet (Frazier talking of many Alpha Quadrant species being forcibly relocated to the Delta Quadrant by an alien race circa Wolf 359). But bringing in Wolf 359 is a problem and one that these writers of Borg-centric episodes can't seem to get over. It was already established in "The Best of Both Worlds" that following the massacre at Wolf 359, the Borg cube went directly to Earth and was subsequently destroyed. "First Contact" already tried to establish the Borg Queen was present on that cube and tried to brush away its destruction by giving her the convoluted line of humans 'thinking in small 3-dimensional terms', inferring some sort of time-travel or interdimensional travel was used to explain her escape. Now again, and following on in the episode "Infinite Regress", we have a Starfleet officer who claimed to have been assimilated at Wolf 359. So how did THEY get back to the Delta Quadrant? It's not going to keep me awake at night wondering, and it's certainly not the biggest inconsistency in Star Trek, but it's still an annoyance when this battle is referenced and used to explain the appearance of human and other Alpha Quadrant species as Borg in the Delta Quadrant as if there were no other means of explanation, but anyway!

It probably would have been a better episode had the motivations of the Cooperative been slightly more noble, and more was at stake than their own small groups safety, I'm not heartless to their plight, but as I said, we only saw a VERY small group in this collective and no more, who were they to determine the societal structure in a colony of thousands? Maybe though that's the biggest twist of all, that they truly were not so noble, and just wanted to exercise their dominance over the rest of the colony. So ambiguous I'll probably give it a 6.

Annotations

Rating: 6 (Cameron)

 

Unity

Synopsis

Stardate 50614.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

The first thing we see about the Borg on Voyager! Well, kind of... Overall I have the feeling that this episode is misplaced and could have worked better in a later season. Besides the appearance of benevolent ex-Borg in a Voyager episode only a short time after First Contact's release is supposably bad. Janeway only mentioned it casually that she would not want to help imposing a collective back on the other freed Borg. Wouldn't the Prime Directive apply here as well? Besides we do not know for sure that all the other former Borg on the planet are violent raiders. There could be other cooperatives with people, who live peacefully with their neighbors and who thoroughly enjoy their regained individuality. I also would have liked for the discussion about helping the Borg cooperative to take more screen time and to include the senior staff.

What happened to Janeway's idea of scouring the Borg cube for useful information and technolgy? Since at least a couple of days pass between its discovery (a thrilling scene, that makes full use of an awesome piece of music from First Contact) and its destruction; they could have dismantled half the cube by that time!

I am worried about the continuing deaths of Voyager crew members. Shouldn't the writers be more considerate about constantly killing off people from a ship that is supposed to stay fully operational for several more seasons? However I am also annoyed by the disposable condition of so many crew members - most of them only appear on screen for a few seconds to show that all their years of Starfleet training were a complete failure and that they can not even perform the simplest tasks, like navigating a shuttle.

Annotations

Rating: 5 (Apex)

 

Darkling

Synopsis

Stardate 50693.2 : Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

From the clutches of the obsessive and over-protective Neelix, to the clutches of the obsessive alter-ego of the Doctor. Darkling is a typical Jekyll and Hyde story with nothing more to offer, and what it offers is poor and disappointing.

The Doctor is experimenting in improving his program and downloads aspects from various scholars, philosophers and scientists into his program, unwittingly unleashing an alter ego of all the darker traits of those people. Voyager meanwhile is orbiting a planet inhabited by nomads willing to offer directions and the chance to mine some precious mineral I'm sure will be quickly forgotten once the ship leaves orbit. Kes has quickly become infatuated with a local and considers leaving in light of her short life spent on Voyager and the path before her becoming unclear due to her increasing mental abilities.

The Doc becomes jealous and it doesn't take rocket scientist to work out he attacks the object of Kes' desires. Due to the program destabilising as it has no room for two personalities, he considers torturing Torres who can't help, and irrationally does the same to the characters from his holoprogram. How they were meant to give him the answers he was seeking is beyond me. Kes shows up and he kidnaps her to the planet. However in an attempt to escape the pair are beamed back to Voyager and the alter-ego miraculously vanishes and all traces are deleted.

I'd say normally an episode like this would be saved by an individual performance, but Robert Picardo acts like an amalgamation of every Snidley Whiplash villain and evil-doer in existence. Explaining away this turn in personalities was due to the suppressed rage inside so many historical figures didn't make much sense either. The whole thing was just a showcase for the Doctor to run around and sneer, yell and wave a phaser around at everyone.

And it's hardly a mystery at all, if there was a chance at redeeming this episode it could have been done by not making it so blatantly obvious what was happening so early on to try and draw SOME suspense from the episode, leaving the revelation to the last act.

Annotations

Rating: 1 (Cameron)

 

Darkling

Synopsis

Stardate not given: The Doctor wishes to improve his personality with elements of different great historical figures, resulting in the dark characteristics of all of them creating a new evil consciousness for the Doctor. Meanwhile, Kes becomes attracted to an alien adventurer, who is attacked by the evil Doctor.

Commentary

Star Trek meets Star Wars! Episode Voyager: The rise, fall, and redemption of Darth Doctor. While the premise might seem absurd on the surface, the Doctor experimenting with adding personality to his program, the parallels to Star Wars could not be more obvious: The Doctor's experimentation is essentially his quest for greater ability and power, and the unforeseen personality emerging from the chaos is the Doctor's fall to the Dark Side. Not to mention the dark brown/black robes the evil personality is wearing, identical to those of a Dark Jedi. All that was missing was a red lightsaber on his belt. As Darth Doctor, he attacks Zahiir because he is jealous of Kes's attraction to him (therein lies one remarkable error of this episode which I will return to later), coerces the cantina owner to arrange passage for him offworld, tries to excise the "weak" Doctor's program from the matrix, and finally takes Kes with him as his "apprentice". Clearly he hopes to "turn" her as well, and seduce her to his point of view, exactly what emperor Palpatine did to Anakin Skywalker in Episode 3. In this case, however, the gambit fails, and, cornered on the edge of the abyss, and with his control over the holomatrix deteriorating, he does what all villains do rather than face defeat: tries to commit suicide, taking his "apprentice" with him. However, unsurprisingly, Voyager crew beams him and Kes back in the nick of time, and by the time they rematerialize on the transporter stage, the dark hold over him is gone, and his redemption is complete. Robert Picardo's performance as Darth Doctor is the highlight of this episode, he clearly had a lot of fun playing the evil villain. The ending, however, left me quite disappointed, since it would have been far more interesting if Doctor and Kes actually made it offworld, and played a game of cat and mouse with Voyager as Darth Doctor begins his quest for power, and even manages to partially "turn" Kes, before they are both redeemed in the final climactic struggle... Naturally, that plot would have required a two-parter episode, which would have been ideal, and of course, it would give Jennifer Lien a chance to play a character which would have been somewhat similar to the one in "Warlord" episode, where she really shined as the evil dictator!

And so, my final resume is this: the premise of the episode and its Star Wars innuendos: 10. The VERY unsatisfactory ending: -3. The Remarkable Error: -2. The Doctor's robes: +1 Final tally: 6/10.

Annotations

Rating: 6 (Darko)

 

Darkling

Synopsis

Stardate 50693.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

"Darkling" does not make a lasting impression, mainly because of the 'Jekyll and Hyde' story being an exhausted plot, not on Star Trek, but in general. As it has been suggested in other reviews, I point out the possible advantages of revealing the evil doctor at a later stage of the episode.

I also think that an episode which centers the breakup of Neelix' and Kes' relationship could have been beneficial, particularly because this episode only mentions it casually. We have to keep in mind that their relationship had been a mainstay of the first seasons and had more than one episode dedicated to it. Kes' affection for some lofty traveler is a bit of a yawn. In our time he would probably have his own ambitious rock band and ride a motorcycle...

I liked the small but noticeable optical changes between the Doctor and his evil counterpart. Robert Picardo did a great job with his portrayal of a psychopath, though it was not enough to rescue this weakling of an episode.

Annotations

Rating: 2 (Apex)

 

Rise

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

This is actually my favorite of the Neelix/Tuvok episodes ("Tuvix" doesn't quite count in my opinion), it's got mystery, action, a race against time, a couple of good laughs and more character development for the pair in question.

This time though, Neelix holds the cards and uses it to his advantage, to get the point across he's sick of Tuvok's attitude and demands respect for him, while still being humble about his admiration for the Vulcan. In turn, Tuvok risks his life to act on Neelix's 'hunch' and in turn, his life is saved by the Talaxian. And so they become a little chummier in the end, though Tuvok still not yielding to Neelix in the final scene in the mess hall. To support this story, a planet is being bombarded by asteroids, Tuvok, Neelix and a native scientist are sent down to help retrieve another scientist. It's all the usual twists and turns you can expect, and Voyager once more saves the day, through their miraculous gaining of a hostile force's tactical information.

But that's all background noise, and Tim Russ and Ethan Phillips are really good once more. Phillips normally plays Neelix as a buffoon, but here we see he has something to prove and doesn't turn into a clown in doing so, and his efforts are rewarded with Tuvok's praise.

I understand it's not a highly regarded episode nor do I think it's something so incredible and up there with the best of Trek, but I do find it a better than average offering, at least better than the 6/10 rating I've given it would indicate.

Annotations

Rating: 6 (Cameron)

 

Rise

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Not before Neelix admitted that he only build models of mag-lev carriages I realized (with a smile) that I watched 'The Flight of the Phoenix', or in this case 'The Rise of Alixia'. This episode combines a couple of interesting ideas to solid entertainment. At first we see Voyager shooting down asteroids, which are in fact guided missiles sent by the Etanians in order to chase off the Nezu from their planet - an intriguing strategy. Then there is the 'Phoenix' situation, a number of different people stranded and their only hope is an old vessel in need of repair and the promises of an eccentric to make it move again. I would have been nice if the episode made them all work together as the movie did. And lastly there is the intense conflict between Neelix and Tuvok. I must say they kind of switched roles here. Neelix was the actual hero who not only had the superior knowledge - considering he only build models his handling of the carriage was almost flawless - but also prevailed morally over Tuvok. The latter however conducts himself badly here. He gives Neelix a dressing-down for trying to boost morale instead of only doing repairs and he dismisses Neelix and the other Nezu at more than one occasion. It is good to see Neelix finally holding his ground against the unusually smug Vulcan.

I discount one point for another shuttle crash.

Annotations

Rating: 6 (Apex)

 

Favorite Son

Synopsis

Stardate 50732.4: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

I suppose they needed to give Kim something, ANYTHING (!) to do by this point in time. It's such a bore though, the entire ploy by the Taresians is absolute nonsense in the way they need to propagate their species by 'infecting' males from OTHER species, changing their genetic structure to make them Taresian. It's just stupid, if they've been able to master genetic reconstruction to such a stage, surely it mustn't be too hard for them to just add a Y chromosome to a developing cell/fetus/whatever at a rate that would sustain their population, rather than leave it to chance the way they do.

But it's also painfully non-interesting, sure it's appealing with all the eye candy on show, but it's really predictable and the conflict with the other species is nothing out of the ordinary. Bad, predictable episode.

And consider my 3 rating generous!

Rating: 3 (Cameron)

 

Favorite Son

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Wondered when they would do a spin on the Sirens story from the Iliad.

Basically Kim feels drawn to a system, fires on an alien ship, and then discovers he maybe a long lost native of that system - and guess what? It's populated by GIRLS! Not alien girls, GIRLS - with odd but sexy markings in sexy clothes.

As expected, the girls have no men, and surprise, surprise that has led to a breeding problem where men are "imported" for their needs. However in the tradition of Siren stories, they are discovered to be dangerous and kill the men they woo. Kim figures out this way earlier with his "dedication to the crew" statement and their reluctance to let him go, and makes a break - and just when it seems he is in dire straits - Voyager rescues him, and that's it. Although the way Kim changes was explained it did not help a lame story come to pass.

It's a yawn, and like with so many Voyager stories of that time, it came, it did its pointless job and went. Would have been nice if the girls had really pissed off some alien with their scheme and they came for a 'quiet word', but nothing that bold or interesting happens. It's hostile alien this, hostile world that, and hero on the verge of being beaten whisked away at the last moment.

It's also rather sad that these actors have to put up with rubbish like this - Garrett Wang wanted to do more yet TPTB cannot get over the hurdle to do humans with flaws or traits. It's a disgrace.

3/10 Not brilliant, not bad, but not worth watching again.

Annotations

Rating: 3 (Chris S)

 

Favorite Son

Synopsis

Stardate 50732.4: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

The most interesting part of this episode are the first 15 minutes. Harry Kim uses an unexplained hunch to save Voyager from an alien attack, he shows symptoms of a strange disease and nobody knows what is going on. Finally Harry finds himself in an intergalactic alien sperm bank, populated by life-sucking women. Of course it doesn't look like that at first, on the contrary. It is a paradise with lots of beautiful women schmoozing our young friend - and Tom Paris becomes the green-eyed monster! It turns out the Taresians want to keep Harry on their planet and to mate with him, his death would be the result. But Harry can make his escape, partly because the wardrobe of Taresian women provides enough material to tie them up. "Fortunate Son" scrapes past total silliness.

The elaborate story about Harry being conceived on Taresia and then brought to Earth is not scrutinized by the crew of Voyager, except the Doctor's genenic test. I would have expected Janeway to harshly criticize the Taresians for not only implanting their DNA into other unsuspecting humanoids, but also for stealing external DNA and using them for their own procreation, without knowledge or consent. I remind you how much of an issue these things were in TNG's "Up The Long Ladder".

If the Voyager crew believed the Taresians' story about Harry's ancestry and that his fetus had been brought to Earth, why didn't somebody bother to ask the Taresians about their way of interstellar travel.

Rating: 2 (Apex)

 

Before and After

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

This episode once more proves that time travel and alternate realities normally yield great episodes when used as subject matter, and the unlikely protagonist is Kes, as she travels from lifetime to lifetime trying to find the answers. It's fun and it takes the time to show a plausible alternate reality to the one that will follow, where Chakotay is Captain, Tuvok is Commander, the Doctor has hair (!). The usual technobabble is employed to explain away the phenomena, but keeps well with potential story lines like the first appearance of the Krenim and their usage of temporal weaponry. And the consistency with the Doctor's ego is quite funny as I believe 3 times he refers to the bio-temporal chamber treatment as either 'brilliant' or 'ingenious'.

I guess this cold I'm suffering from is taking its toll cause I really seem to elaborate more, look, it's a simple episode, it's got a nice performance from Jennifer Lien in the main role, and I think it succeeds well, even from a story point of view, with successful character observations of the people surrounding Kes, from the Doctor to her 'husband' (Tom) to her daughter.

Annotations

Rating: 7 (Cameron)

 

Before and After

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

This episode is skillfully constructed and I am intrigued by the idea of traveling back through a time that is still several years into the future. The inclusion of Kes is a little bit random though, the episode could have centered on any of the main characters as well. The Ocampans short lifespan is certainly a way to ease the shooting because the Voyager crew wouldn't be much older when Kes reaches the end of her life.

There are resemblances to the excellent TNG episode "Paralells", most notably the random and seemingly inexplicable shifting through realities (although in "Paralells" there was an explanation - it would have been nice to have one here as well) and the confusion upon arriving plus the repetitive explanation attempts. Almost unparalelled is the broad use of a still unknown story - the 'Year of Hell'. I can't recall an occasion - ouside DS9 - where an event from the future is shown or spoken of that will actually occur exactly the same way at a later time.

Jennifer Lien did well on this episode, but I would have wished for her not to appear so lethargic considering the circumstances.

One more thing about the Ocampa. Here it becomes evident how confusing their short lifespan can be to the audience. During her birthday party Kes is an old woman with an age of 9, while the rest of the crew still look the same. Her daughter is not older then 4 and her grandson only a couple of months old!

Annotations

Rating: 8 (Apex)

 

Real Life

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

I was going to condemn this episode, but an ‘argument’ with a friend put a thought in my mind that made me look at this in a different - and better light. A light I think many should take a look at.

In a nutshell, as part of his "awareness to becoming human (sound familiar?)" the Doctor creates a family - to understand what family life is like, as well as impress all that he has one. Alas they come across as the Partridge family, or the Brady bunch, or dare I say it - the Waltons - the perfect wife and 2.4 kids. B'Elanna is the most critical of this and points out the flaws of their overt perfections, to an amazed Doctor who cannot see the problem.

So to make it more 'real', B'Elanna is allowed to tweak them with random flaws - and the net result is a nightmare for the Doctor - gone is the perfect family and in its place is a dysfunctional one; the son associates with Klingon kids who attack strangers for ritualism, and listen to heavy rock type music - think white kid with black gangster into lewd hip hop and about guns and 'homies' and you get the idea. The wife is consistently pointing out his failings, and his daughter is upset because he does not take her seriously.

Then it all takes a turn for the worse when the daughter is injured in an accident and to his horror she is going to die - and there is nothing that can be done.

What I did not like about the episode so much was that this was nothing more than a 'play' - these people unlike in real life, can be cured, altered, remoulded, shaped and so forth with no ill effect, and the fact that they never ever appear again emphasise the fact. The loss of the daughter had little impact on me because she is a computer program - this may sound harsh, but be honest, we never ever see this family again. We never see the Doctor pick up from this, see his son mature or arrested, or his wife standing by or leaving. It's *emotional scene* and 'call it a wrap' - a case of "we needed a tear jerker, now its done - okay, let's concentrate on the next installment". Nor the tweaking by B'Elanna; just because she had a crap family life, does not mean she should inflict her drama on the Doctor's fantasy. It felt like she was being vindictive, even spiteful, and I have never liked her, and this just accelerated the process. Having said that he did ask for it...

Also the crap B plot about the hurricane in space - and Janeway's attitude to the destruction of the space station and planned hunting down of the attackers in question to the blatant glory hunting of this new phenomenon by literally risking all in a bid of some personal success. Hence the loss of points.

However, my friend then pointed out a thing about this episode - that made me see this differently. A very valid metaphor on families.

People who want kids and family envision that if one follows the books, heed the advice, and so on, they can get the perfect life with the ideal partner, and wonderful children - kids doing well, partner successful, one is the winner, and content in the world. Just like the Doctor thought here.

In truth, families can fail - kids can die, disappoint, even inflict death. Partners can fall out of love, have affairs, leave, even betray. It happens. Robert Picardo's acting (which is on top form) as the Doctor struggling with the family perfect becoming anything but and realising what a task it is - I did sympathise and wanted to throttle his son and kill his Klingon friends.

Tom's speech at the end sums it up well, and it's a lesson I think those who are planning to have a family should heed: be prepared for the worse as well as the best, and if you are not in for the long haul, the disappointments and failures, don't have a family.

As the saying goes - "you can pick your friends, but not your family".

5/10 - half good weighted out by half bad.

Annotations

Rating: 5 (Chris S)

 

Real Life

Synopsis

Stardate 50836.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

The touching A-story really drives this episode despite the flaws that it has. The Doctor creates a holographic family for himself to experience what it is like to have such a thing. Only problem is he's created the perfect Stepford family, mindless beings worshipping the father figure like something out of a bad 50's sitcom. B'Elanna alters the program to create this family from hell to give the Doc a better idea of what it is like to have a REAL experience of family, with the over-worked wife not being able to have dinner on the table, the rebellious son and pre-teen daughter with a shriek so high pitched it would shatter transparent aluminium. Problem is, neither scenario is plausible, a balance could have been achieved, but Torres clearly didn't think the Doctor was experiencing so severe a taste of reality, she created a bunch of 'lollipops' of her own.

Despite that, the A-story is still good, Picardo does a very good job here as opposed to the recently reviewed "Darkling", as he deals with the pressure of trying to maintain control over this situation, and having to face the 'death' of his holographic daughter. So well done to him.

The B-plot is wholly disposable on the other hand and another example of Janeway's recklessness that it is HER the Doc should've chided as opposed to Paris who sets off in a shuttlecraft to try and harvest technobabble from a space anomaly which destroyed a space station and damaged Voyager. Despite the VERY obvious risks, Janeway decides to pursue investigating the anomaly, and very nearly loses her Conn officer as he's transported to a place between real and sub-space. And for what?

But anyway, that's not the important thing here, the Doc's story is and it was good, he wasn't overly smug as he was at the start of the episode and it was a good learning process for him, even if the scenario was a ridiculous exaggeration.

Annotations

Rating: 6 (Cameron)

 

Real Life

Synopsis

Stardate 50836.2: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

When the Doctor explains his little family project to B'Elanna and Kes they are positively surprised and look forward to meeting them - they have no idea. The Doctor created a holographic family dripping with perfection like ice cream on a summer's day. B'Elanna does a little rewriting of the program and the Doctor finds himself in a nightmare. I am inclined to think that although B'Elanna had had a difficult youth it wasn't really her intention to turn the Doctor's family upside down. Everything that happened afterwards was almost unbearable for the Doctor to handle at the same time. In any case it would have been nice to see B'Elanna taking part in the whole plot with the Doctor until the end. Tom's conversation with the Doctor is nicely done. He is unusually un-boyish in this episode, including his flirting with B'Elanna. I must say that the episode gains in quality with every minute. With its lachrymose finale ends a compressed lesson about the development of American TV series between the 60's and the 90's and a cold water therapy about the realities of having a family. I do not really care about the B-plot and chose to ignore it almost completely in my rating. The space tornadoes have good CG effects, but I fail to see how collecting plasma could possibly augment the ship's supply of replicator rations.

I would like to point out the fact that both Data and the Doctor created a familiy or at least a familiy member in order to become more human and that in the course of the respective episode their daughters died.

One last thing about Parrises squares: Although we have never seen a real game on screen, almost all occasions where the game is mentioned it is with an annotation about its dangers and the involved violence. Broken bones, cuts, even a broken neck are not uncommon. Here the Doctor's daughter dies as a result of a severe brain trauma which can not be cured by 24th century medicine. I grant that there are many sports activities nowadays that are considered dangerous and accidents, even fatal ones, do occur. But the dangers of Parrises squares seem to dwarf them. Therefore I must express severe criticism to the reckless parents of the 24th century who allow there children to play it.

Rating: 7 (Apex)

 

Distant Origin

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

I think Bernd's summed this one up well enough in his review, a fantastic episode in which almost the guest starts seem to out act the main cast! Not that the main cast is given much to do as the story is centered around Gegen and his fight against the establishment.

Not much more I could add, yes it's particularly bleak, but it ends on a great note, wonderful score, impressive FX, and once again the message of acceptance and tolerance is played out again despite it being played to an amazingly advanced civilisation, however one that like many others in Trek, are incredibly belligerent in spite of all their accomplishments.

Robert Beltran is particularly good here with the lines he has about change and so forth.

Annotations

Rating: 10 (Cameron)

 

Distant Origin

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

I was really stunned by this episode - especially the subject matter in this show. The idea of another race evolving and even leaving Earth (heavy hints at Atlantis in the script) is good work. The best is the superiority of the Voth over the Voyager crew, and that all concerned act correct and proper for once. Janeway tried to show defiance to her captors but shown how hopeless she is.

There is compassion, and tolerance from the Voth explorers and the crew, I mean I am pleased thay Jinny tried to talk to Veer, and that chuckles did not try and kick in Gegen.

There are no attempts at being smugly clever, the acting is played right, especially the scenes of discovery in the holodeck, and the courtroom with Chakotay, Gegen, and the Magistrate, and the discussion on theory - as Bernd pointed out = "Galileo's daring yet unsuccessful struggle for his theory in particular and for the freedom of science in general", well played out here.

This is science fiction at its best.

The only glitch in this is what Bernd said about the Voth, that "they should not come back as enemies" or maybe left in peace, but a series like Trek could never discard such a race and its significance. The fact that they never ever touched on them again maybe the latter or future stories around them deemed unworkable, one can only speculate.

Having said that considering the fact that Star Trek 09 has come to pass, I think this is the last we will ever hear of the idea.

Annotations

Rating: 9 (Chris S)

 

Distant Origin

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Watching this episode will leave you with a satisfied sigh. First of all "Distant Origin" has a most unusual story structure. The first twenty minutes are shown from the perspective of the Voth scientist Prof. Gegen and his field expedition to search for evidence of a revolutionary scientific theory. He believes that his species initially developed on a distant planet and that related mammalian creatures are traveling through nearby space - Voyager and its crew! His theories turn out to be right, both proven by himself and the Voyager crew independently. But he is eventually forced to withdrew his theory and concedes defeat to save the Voyager crew from imprisonment.

I enjoy that the producers took the time to develop a distinct background and a culture for the Voth, something that we rarely see with an alien-of-the-week (not to mention their massive, awesome looking ships). The Voth have significant scientific and technological advantages and are able to simply switch off Voyager. This is a welcome relief from the annoying fact that almost all the spacefaring races in the galaxy are on par with the Federation. It could have been interesting to show the Voth again, but considering their hostility and their far superior technology any future confrontation would have been difficult to pull off. Although the make-up department did a fine job with the Voth's design and their appearance seems realistic, the episode could have benefited from a more humanoid design with less prosthetics. I think we can't see very much of the fine acting done by the Voth performers who carry the whole episode. You could also see clearly that for some of them the Saurian gloves were to big . The cinematography is done very well, I especially liked the trial scene and the angles in which the Voth minister was shot. It is hard to find something not to like. The irony of a dinosaur excavating human bones, the humorous scientific observations made by Gegen and his colleague about mating practices (Tom's and B'Elannas verbal sparring) and a matriarchal structure (Janeway commanding), the practical use of the holodeck for something else than a luau, the Voyager security who for once can apprehend an intruder quickly and Janeway being bad ass in the face of death... everything is cleverly interwoven with a great Star Trek story.

This incredible episode shows a futile struggle against the establishment, against a scientificly based creationism, against fundamentalist bureaucrats defending their big chairs, against the inerrability of the Dogma and all of it mirrored by the defiant but short and eventually futile struggle of Voyager against its much more powerful adversary. This is a didactic play about morale, tolerance and progress and proves how similar the ruling powers sometimes handle new ideas, if they represent a danger to established believes, religious, scientific, or others.

This episode has the potential to be one of the great classical Star Trek shows, this is a jewel of televised science fiction and the overall best episode of Star Trek: Voyager so far.

Eyes open!

Annotations

Rating: 10 (Apex)

 

Displaced

Synopsis

Stardate 50912.4 : Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

The Smurfs take over Voyager! I haven't held this episode in high regards but watching it again it's actually pretty fun. I HATE the Nyrians though and wish Janeway locked them all up to die but anyway.

An alien transports on Voyager in place of Kes, this continues quickly till the crew are outnumbered, Chuckles looks to sabotage the ship and get the Doc in his mobile emitter and is transported out also. The crew find themselves trapped on a ship filled with thousands of other prisoners abducted by the same means, and they improvise a fightback as only humans could cause every other alien species has either been too incompetent or complacent to try and escape.

I think it's good when episodes like this occur and the crew are taken out of their comfort zone, and literally as well, instead of relying on the cushy facilities of Voyager to glide through any problem. They all have to think on their feet to escape with Tuvok fashioning some makeshift weapons an! d Janeway discovering how to use the transporter and negotiate the release of her crew and all others from the prison ship.

There's the further recurrence of Tom and B'Elanna's growing relationship and we see pretty much all other chief characters play a role of some sort except for Harry.

Good fun for all pretty much, I didn't see too many failings behind the episode, though I never liked the Nyrians.

Annotations

Rating: 5 (Cameron)

 

Displaced

Synopsis

Stardate 50912.4: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Regarding antagonists, I dislike the schoolyard bully type the most. They usually possess a single ability which makes them superior, but they lack any other qualities that could make them worthwhile adversaries. The Nyrians belong to this category, in fact Voyager seems to run into such bullies exceptionally often. Janeway has a good instinct when she is suspecting the Nyrians to be responsible for the displacement in the first place, although a spatial phenomenon could have been responsible as well. Other reviews complained about the fact that many other species were held prisoner by the Nyrians and never escaped. Yet they didn't have the Doctor. Stripped of their other equipment the Voyager crew's only chance was to convert the Doctor into a tricorder and then scan for a means of escape. Without this advantage they would most likely still be sitting in that habitat. Unfortunately the Nyrians have a very low tolerance for cold environments, I would have liked to see Janeway putting all of them in the glacier habitat for a while, but they wouldn't have lasted more than a few minutes!

Why didn't Tom and B'Elanna take the weapons of the fallen Nyrians? Although eventually unnecessary it would have been tactically wise.

Annotations

Rating: 4 (Apex)

 

Worst Case Scenario

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Another fun 'trapped in the holodeck' episode here, the opening 20 minutes taking place almost entirely inside the Maquis mutiny program, giving us the opportunity to see what some might argue: 'should have been'.

The idea of a Maquis uprising being realistic to Tuvok was also a good chance to take this show in a plausible direction. A greenhorn Federation crew being placed together with belligerent terrorists (by Starfleet standards), who were only there thanks to the actions of Janeway... matter of fact, holo-Chakotay's entire speech in the cargo bay was something one would've expected to have heard if they decided to play out this scenario for real early in the season. However the idea was dismissed with the Maquis themselves receiving very little exposure in the show, and I'm guessing this episode was made solely to appease those who would've liked to have written or seen such a scenario take place.

But enough ranting, it's a great episode, the opening is cunningly realistic however if you have a keen eye and good memory you'll notice that not is all as it seems early on, of course B'Elanna's wearing a Starfleet Ensign's pip and doesn't work at her normal station, Janeway's hair is from the earlier seasons, and we can here Chakotay hail Jonas who was killed in the previous seasons episode "Investigations". And of course it takes the usual turn with Tuvok and Paris trapped, thanks to tampering by Seska who threatens to kill them, but the day's saved thanks to some narrative changes by Janeway.

Wonderfully fun episode.

Annotations

Rating: 8 (Cameron)

 

Worst Case Scenario

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Not a bad episode, simple, not flash, or OTT with some silly anomaly or time travel spiel.

It's an idea that would be engineered with good reason, and Tuvok's apprehension is well noted.

It works for me especially where it goes wrong. I agree with Bernd that rebels in the Star Fleet/Marquis ranks have nothing better to do than sabotage computer programs, but here it helps a simple story.

It's one of a handful of Voyager episodes I would make time for.

Annotations

Rating: 9 (Chris S)

 

Worst Case Scenario

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Not even death can stop Seska from haunting Voyager! If you are watching this episode for the first time it will probably go like this: "Chakotay wants to start a mutiny? I always suspected he wasn't sincere! ... Wait, why is he addressing B'Elanna as Ensign? ... Chakotay in command for the first time? Nonsense! ... Seska?! Looking Bajoran?! What is going on here???" - one aspect of Star Trek series is creating suspense by showing inexplicable phenomena or something like that, this episode does the same but very differently by using small inconsistencies regarding the main characters. You could think you are watching an episode from Season 1 you missed the last time! What follows is a second, much funnier part where it is revealed that all we have been seeing so far is a holonovel, one with an ever growing number of followers. Tuvok comes out of the closet on him being the author. His immensely popular holonovel actually intended as a training exercise is hilariously ironic. There are a couple of pretty funny scenes centering on Tuvok's and Tom's discussion how to bring the holonovel to an end (with other crew members vividly making their own suggestions), but eventually the two of them walk right into a trap when entering the holodeck. The fast pace and the action from the first minutes take over again and they must fight for their lives. Since Seska had been tampering with the program, this is a very realistic version of the recurring 'Trapped-in-the-holodeck-with-safety-protocols-offline' -plot.

There are resemblances to the DS9 episode "Civil Defense", where an old computer programm is triggered which is adaptive and can't be shut down.

Annotations

Rating: 8 (Apex)

 

Scorpion I

Synopsis

Stardate 50984.3: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Wow, almost movie worthy! The full fledged return of the dreaded Borg, amazing special effects considering the budget, a brand new lethal foe for our intrepid crew (pun intended) to deal with, character conflict, the list goes on.

A great way to end the season with a bang introduces the new threat, Species 8472, who are, unfortunately amazingly bland in their limited depiction, cold, ruthless, spouting 'the weak will perish'? Understandably they needed a destructive force capable of inflicting damage to the Collective, but being just another alien of the week with very little way for them to convey a sense of reason to their actions was a mistake. This WILL be rectified in part II however, but not enough. Maybe a humanoid race from another realm taking on the Borg would've been more satisfying, but then again, their alien appearance only adds to their menace and shrouds their intentions in a way that couldn't be achieved with another humanoid race.

And finally some legit conflict with Chakotay and Janeway, and both have very real points to make regarding their plans, however Janeway in her optimism was taking the advice of Leo da Vinci to heart greatly in taking such a leap of faith to expect the Borg to co-operate, but she had the contingency of deleting the Doc's program (and once again displaying her death wish as this would only make her crew and ship the target of assimilation only to bolster the numbers and abilities of an ailing Collective, way to go Janeway.)

But it's Chakotay making the most amounts of hits with his argument that her decision was one of pure faith with little to no evidence that it would work. She quoted Picard earlier as saying how without mercy the Borg are, and are unwilling to compromise, now as they're being beaten she expects them to change tune. Along with putting her crew in jeopardy again for the sake of this proposed short cut, Chakotay also points out the very real fact of her giving aide to the Borg who had already destroyed countless civilisations while 8472's potential addition to the list is greeted with mirth by Janeway who doesn't even have the full facts on how this conflict occur ed and why.

And there's the irrelevant threat to Kim's life, as credible as it looks there's still little tension behind his fate as it was probably known that it would be Jennifer Lien who would leave the series, instead of Garret Wang.

Good set up for the second part, the premier of Season 4, Scorpion Part II, however I'll be unable to review it.

Rating: 8 (Cameron)

 

Scorpion I/II

Synopsis

Stardate 50984.3-51003.7: Synopsis in main VOY listing

Commentary

Scorpion. The title not only relates to the parable Chakotay tells about the trustworthiness of the Borg, it also describes the episode's nature by comparing it with the arachnid: fast, aggressive and with a (usually) dark appearance. The teaser shows this already - you hear the familiar Borg conquering phrase while two powerful Borg cubes are closing in, only to be ripped apart my an unknown energy weapon.

Voyager tries to find its way through Borg space and is caught in the crossfire of a war of the titans. They make a pact with the devil. In the end Janeway and her crew prevail. Although I already watched this episode a couple of times, it was this time, while preparing this review that I noticed the similarities between "Scorpion" and "Best of both Worlds". They both cover the end of Season 3 and the beginning of Season 4 of their respectives series, they both feature a spooky graveyard scene with destroyed vessels, their second parts end with the successful severance of a Borg from the collective and they predominantly show a deep character conflict centered on the captain and the first officer. "Scorpion" is flooding our TV sets with action and astounding CGI effects. The space scenes from Part I belong to the most memorable sequences in the history of Star Trek. The scenes including Species 8472 are very nice too. Although their appearance in this two-parter is limited and their very menacing nature leaves not much room for character depth, I consider Species 8472 among the most unique races ever featured on Star Trek. I have always been a critic of Star Trek's humanized alien creations. I always wished for a much bigger diversity in appearance, abilities, technology. They are what I had always hoped for, the apex of biological evolution, so powerful that they wipe their bottoms with Borg drones. The inclusion of the Leonardo program is very unusual, Janeway's conversation with the Renaissance genius gives necessary breathing time, in Janeway's own words "...away from bio-implants and fluidic space". And there is of course the introduction of Seven of Nine.

An essential part of the plot is the conflict between Janeway and Chakotay about the best course of action. It provides some great dialogs and even disunites them for a time. But personally I am a little bit disappointed with the way it is being portrayed. Janeway's plan to cooperate with the Borg is not only very dangerous but doesn't take into consideration the Prime Directive or the repercussions of a Borg collective being able to defeat or even assimilate the fluidic aliens. The fact that she evidently failed in her evaluation of the Borg doesn't play any part in the end. Janeway seems reckless. Chakotay was right not to trust the Borg, but his unwillingness to deal with the already weakened Borg in Voyager's cargo bay gives the impression that he just wants to abscond. Chakotay seems gutless.

I would rate Part I with 9 points and Part II with 7, so I will settle for 8 points in total.

Annotations

Rating: 8 (Apex)

 


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