Star Trek Voyager (VOY) Season 4

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

The GiftDay of HonorNemesisRevulsionThe RavenScientific Method
Year of Hell I/II
Random Thoughts Concerning FlightMortal CoilWaking Moments
Message in a BottleHuntersPreyRetrospectThe Killing Game I/IIVis à Vis
The Omega DirectiveUnforgettableLiving WitnessDemonOneHope and Fear

 

Scorpion II

See VOY season 3

 

The Gift

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Janeway's crew works hard to get rid of the remaining Borg technology, which prevents the ship from going to warp. After Seven of Nine's link to the Borg Collective has been severed, her human immune system begins to fight her implants. Janeway decides to remove them, even as the drone vehemently protests. When she goes into a shock, Kes uses her greatly improved psychokinetic powers to detect and destroy the Borg implant in Seven of Nine's brain that is responsible for the condition. Seven of Nine agrees to help remove the Borg technology from Voyager, yet she tries to contact the Collective and can only be stopped with Kes's abilities. Tuvok tries to help Kes gain control of her new powers, but her transformation goes beyond his comprehension. Being in cellular flux and a danger for the ship, Kes leaves Voyager in a shuttle. Before she enters another realm of existence, she hurls the ship through the whole Borg territory, 9500 light years closer to the Alpha Quadrant. Meanwhile, Seven of Nine's Borg implants have been largely removed and her human appearance reestablished.

Commentary

This is an episode of transition. It consists of two story threads with opposite developments. Seven of Nine returns to her human nature, whereas Kes approaches a new plane of existence. Seven of Nine's condition stabilizes in the course of the episode, whereas Kes's gets more and more uncontrollable. Seven of Nine becomes a new crew member in the end, whereas Kes leaves the ship for good.

I used to be dissatisfied with how the two threads were packed into one episode. In my view, Kes's as well as Seven of Nine's transformation would each have warranted an episode of their own, or could have taken a longer time. It felt contrived how both takes place simultaneously. Notwithstanding the real-world reason that a fast way for Jennifer Lien to leave the show was needed, it may have been separated from the Seven of Nine story.

After watching "The Gift" again, for the first time in many years, I changed my opinion. Even though it still feels a bit rushed and a bit contrived, it is a good idea that Seven's arrival on the ship mirrors Kes's departure. Also, "The Gift" successfully preserves some of the tension from "Scorpion" and does not simply wrap up the events of the exciting two-part episode.

Unfortunately there is no real discussion of how to deal with Kes's transformation because time is pressing. Regarding Seven of Nine, on the other hand, Janeway has the choice and faces an ethical problem. Should she send her back to the Collective, which is the former drone's explicit demand? Or should she make the decision for her, considering that Seven's judgment is impaired? Janeway's dilemma is very similar to Picard's in "Suddenly Human". Yet, she solves it quite differently. She rules that it is in the best interest of Seven of Nine as well as of Voyager that she remains aboard. This may seem selfish and like an irresponsible scientific experiment, but there are good reasons for her decision. Dropping Seven off the ship, with a subspace emitter, would draw the Borg's attention to Voyager again. And although it is not mentioned in the episode, it is well possible that the Borg either abandon or eliminate a drone that was damaged as severely as Seven.

It is clear that Seven of Nine directly replaces Kes in her role as the "attractive female character". In retrospect, Seven's arrival might even have been "prepared" by changing Kes's appearance in the last few episodes of season 3 (long hair, tight suits).

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Day of Honor

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Tom persuades B'Elanna Torres to celebrate the Klingon Day of Honor, but she is reluctant to undergo the ritual. In fact, it turns out to be an awful day for her. First B'Elanna has a lot of work on her hands while two of her staff are sick. Then Chakotay shows up, telling her that Seven of Nine is going to work in engineering, giving rise to her animosities toward the former Borg drone. When an experiment to enter transwarp fails, B'Elanna has to drop the warp core. She and Paris take a shuttle to search for the core, but the Caatati were faster and claim their right of salvage. An imminent hull breach forces B'Elanna and Tom to leave the shuttle in spacesuits. In the meantime Voyager is surrounded by Caatati vessels. Most of the Caatati were assimilated by the Borg, and besides the warp core and all kinds of supplies they also demand the extradition of Seven of Nine. Seven, however, succeeds in finding a solution for the energy shortage of the Caatati, who agree to return the warp core. When their oxygen has dropped to a minimum level, B'Elanna admits that she loves Tom. The two are beamed aboard in the nick of time.

Commentary

This is the only episode of the season with special focus on B'Elanna, as Roxann Dawson was pregnant during the time. It's an intense story as already "Faces", "Prototype" and "Dreadnought". The special quality of "Day of Honor" is the underlying irony in the overall very serious story. It's like the catchphrase "Just when you thought it couldn't get worse" was extended to a whole story. I especially like how B'Elanna's problem mirrors the ship's crisis and vice versa. On other occasions in Voyager, characters often handle attacks and imminent warp core breaches with routine, while they despair of comparably insignificant personal problems in B-plots. "Day of Honor" skillfully combines both to one plot, to B'Elanna's "day of horror".

Although the solution that Seven helps the Caatati, who despise her, in "an unexpected act of kindness" is a bit simple, it demonstrates the spirit of Star Trek that also shines in Seven of Nine from now. Only the timing doesn't feel right. It may have been better for the series, had Seven shown this kindness at some later time. And speaking of bad timing, it is utterly unrealistic that the crew attempts to attain transwarp speed the very first day that Seven works with B'Elanna in engineering, while still a lot of repairs have to be done and two of the staff are sick! In light of this extreme hastiness and carelessness, the almost catastrophic failure of the "drive-of-the-week" experiment is well-deserved!

Rather than the failed transwarp experiment, the two long-term consequences of this episode are the "official" beginning of the relationship of B'Elanna and Tom, and the beginning of the animosities between B'Elanna and Seven. The latter seems like a good idea at this point of the series, considering that the Starfleet-Maquis conflict was buried (perhaps much too soon) in the first season. On the other hand, with Roxann Dawson taking a back seat because of her pregnancy, it was already foreseeable that the conflict would not be developed as consequentially as it may have been otherwise possible.

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

Nemesis

Synopsis

Stardate 51082.4: Chakotay's shuttle is shot down during a survey mission to an alien planet. He is rescued from the jungle by the Fourth Vori Defense Contingent led by a man named Brone. The Vori tell him that they are at war with a cruel enemy, the "Krady Beasts". When Chakotay and Namon, one of the Vori, try to find the shuttle, Namon is shot by a Kradin patrol. Chakotay trains the use of Vori weapons with Rafin, a soldier who used to be afraid of the war. Rafin gains more self-confidence. However, he is killed in a Kradin attack, and Chakotay barely escapes. He arrives at a village with Vori civilians. Here, Chakotay befriends a little girl named Karya. Karya asks him to take a message to her brother and Chakotay agrees, although he knows that her brother's whole unit was killed. The next day, the Kradin attack the village and intend to take the old and weak inhabitants to an extermination camp. The enraged Chakotay assaults the Kradin commandant. He finds himself with Brone in the war zone again and almost shoots a Kradin who identifies himself as Tuvok. In reality, Chakotay was manipulated by the Vori all the time, who created the whole scenario to train new soldiers to hate their enemy, the Kradins.

Commentary

I never liked this episode because for 40 minutes it is like Chakotay in a Vietnam War movie, or playing a first-person shooter. It is all very one-dimensional and doesn't feel at all like a Star Trek story. Although exactly this is probably the writer's intention, it fails to captivate me. Chakotay starts off as a Starfleet officer, who remains rational and keeps an open mind as we should expect from him: "You know, sometimes people say terrible things about their enemies to make them seem worse than they really are." It is shocking to see how he totally loses his reservations in the following and how the circumstances prove him right. He also begins to speak the slang of the Vori. But it becomes just too obvious that this all has to be some kind of deception, and it takes too long until everything is resolved.

Rather than the story on the whole, I like its details. The Vori language is very metaphoric, replacing English words with more "poetic" terms that have a similar meaning. In some cases it doesn't become clear what the Vori mean, which made some lines hard to understand for me when I first watched it. Anyway, although the choice of words is rather a stylistic device than a realistic depiction of an alien language, I like the way how the Vori distinguish themselves from other humanoid aliens.

The Vori in Chakotay's training scenario are enraged that the Kradins "upturn" dead Vori and prevent them from entering the "wayafter", which Chakotay doesn't understand at first. Then Chakotay sees an "upturned" Vori, who is tied to the ground with the face up, so he can't "glimpse" the soil where the afterlife according to the Vori belief takes place. Rafin's last wish after he has been shot is to be turned around, which Chakotay fulfills. In many cultures, the desecration of bodies is the biggest taboo an enemy can possibly break, and spreading rumors about it is the possibly fastest way to demonize the enemy. So the "upturning" is a very realistic aspect of the story.

The idea that the Vori manipulate the minds of their soldiers during the training, rather than "only" indoctrinating them, is interesting. Even though countless Star Trek episodes already featured deceptive scenarios created through mind control or on the holodeck, in most cases they did not have a lasting effect. It is remarkable that at the end of "Nemesis" Chakotay doesn't simply return to business as usual: "I wish it were as easy to stop hating as it was to start." In this regard, "Nemesis" is similarly realistic as TNG: "The Mind's Eye" or TNG: "Frame of Mind".

What I don't like is the cliché that the ugly and ferocious aliens, namely the Kradins (who look like the eponymous "Predator" in the Schwarzenegger movie), turn out to be the good guys, while the human-looking Vori are evil. Considering that we never see any real Vori speak for themselves, it remains doubtful anyway whether the Kradin version that the Vori are the actual villains is true, or whether the scenario created by the Vori bears some truth after all.

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

Revulsion

Synopsis

Stardate 51186.2: Voyager receives a distress call from a Serosian ship, whose only survivor is an isomorphic projection (a hologram) named Dejaren. B'Elanna and the Doctor take a shuttle to assist him. In the meantime on Voyager, Harry works with Seven on improvements for the astrometric sensors. After his initial skepticism, Harry begins to appreciate Seven's work and gets a crush on her. On the Serosian ship, the Doctor talks to the fellow hologram, who is apparently unable to cope with the situation of being all alone on the vessel, while B'Elanna is doing repairs. The Doctor notices that Dejaren suffers from some kind of disorder but underestimates the hologram's deep-seated hatred for organic lifeforms. When B'Elanna discovers the bodies of the crew members that Dejaren murdered, he attacks her. B'Elanna deactivates his systems, but he rematerializes once again and disables the Doctor's mobile emitter. B'Elanna eventually destroys the holographic matrix using a uninsulated power cable.

Commentary

The basic idea of "Revulsion" is not innovative at all and much like a new edition of the episode "Darkling" barely one year ago, when the Doctor temporarily mutated to an evil hologram. In consideration of this precedent, the Doctor of all people should have been wary of Dejaren's obvious disorder and his possible agenda. At latest when B'Elanna reports how much Dejaren despises organic beings, which is line with his own observations, he should have reacted and deactivated Dejaren. But he does the exact contrary and tries to find excuses for the fellow hologram's conduct and statements, rather than care for the welfare of the away team. By all means, this is an utter misconduct that borders on disloyalty! And it is not his only big mistake, considering how he neglects to protect his mobile emitter when Dejaren attacks him. We may argue that the Doctor still has to learn a lot about being on away missions, but he even fails in the very fundamental questions of a sound medical assessment and of appropriate self-protection. And regarding the fraternization with renegade holograms or disloyalty with his crew, it won't even be the last time. The Doctor will make essentially the same mistake once again in the double feature "Flesh and Blood" in the seventh season and, to lesser extent, in "Author, Author". So as much as I otherwise like the character, he appears in a bad light in "Revulsion".

Fortunately B'Elanna makes up for the Doctor's errors and thereby proves that biological lifeforms aren't all that inferior. But other than that, her role is rather unremarkable because she only does what we would expect from her, with a determination she has shown more impressively on previous occasions. For the story, it may have been somewhat more interesting, had there been more of a conflict between B'Elanna and the Doctor over Dejaren.

Overall, "Revulsion" remains rather uninteresting because the Doctor is so stupid and because B'Elanna's role is limited to the usual fight, as already mentioned. The probably biggest letdown, however, is the lack of emotional attachment to the alien hologram. He's a simple lunatic, whose intentions are clear from the very beginning and whose motivation doesn't really matter. We don't know why the Serosians construct a complex humanoid hologram with emotions(!?), only to clean the reactor. We don't know if this story is true at all, because it seems well possible that Dejaren was a full member of the crew and made up his alleged misery. He may be lying as well about the 59.2% of the ship's energy that allegedly goes into life support. He's a lunatic after all.

Despite all these deficiencies, "Revulsion" at least has a frightening atmosphere, unlike "Darkling".

The B-plot with Harry's and Seven's interaction is overall somewhat more interesting, although it is arguably too trivial to be in the focus. I only wish the would-be love story had continued through a few more episodes of the season.

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

The Raven

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Seven of Nine slowly gets accustomed to her new life, yet she is plagued by nightmares about the Borg and about a big black bird. Captain Janeway tries to find an arrangement with the B'omar to pass though their territory, but they would only allow it on an indirect and strictly monitored course. Suddenly Seven receives a Borg signal and her dormant nanoprobes are reactivated. She reestablishes her Borg shields, steals a shuttle and heads straight into the forbidden B'omar territory. Paris and Tuvok follow her with another shuttle. Tuvok manages to beam over but is incapacitated by Seven. When the two arrive at a moon, he can convince her to let him accompany her to the surface. The two find an abandoned and partially assimilated Federation ship, the Raven, once owned by Annika Hansen's parents before the whole family was assimilated. A small fleet of B'omar vessels too arrives and attacks the wreck, with reinforcements on the way. Janeway launches a rescue mission and fends off the B'omar, at the expense of losing a possible shortcut on the voyage to the Alpha Quadrant.

Commentary

Somehow we could expect that something like this story would happen during Seven of Nine's stay on Voyager, just like Data received his homing signal and escaped from the Enterprise in a similar fashion in TNG: "Brothers". It only happens very soon in Seven's case, and perhaps too soon to be a real surprise, seeing that so much Borg and so much imponderability is still left in her personality at this time.

It is an unlikely coincidence that Voyager's flight path is so close to the very ship where Seven was assimilated years ago. The story of "The Raven", on the other hand, wouldn't make much sense otherwise, because in the end it is all about Seven's past and not about Seven's possible wish to rejoin the Collective. The premium version of "Seven returns to the Collective" will be next season's "Dark Frontier" anyway. "The Raven" is entertaining but it doesn't get as exciting as it could. Janeway has quite a crisis on her hand with a former Borg drone out of control, in the territory of a xenophobic species, but she seems to resolve it with too much ease.

On the positive side, "The Raven" has several well played scenes with Seven and Tuvok. It becomes clear how Seven still trusts Tuvok in spite of everything, and how Tuvok's main goal is to help her, even though he doesn't have a good idea how to do that. Their common struggle to escape the B'omar attack leaves little time to elaborate on the resurfacing memories of her family and her assimilation. And it is a pity in hindsight that her past will never be of particular interest again until "Dark Frontier".

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Scientific Method

Synopsis

Stardate 51244.3: Voyager approaches a binary pulsar, and Janeway decides to study the stellar phenomenon from a safe distance. Tom and B'Elanna neglect their duties over their love affair, and a very annoyed Janeway upbraids them. Janeway is on edge anyway because she is plagued by headaches for quite a while. Then Chakotay is taken to sickbay with signs of rapid aging, while Neelix develops traits of a Mylean, the species of his great-grandfather. The Doctor and B'Elanna scan the patients' DNA, which exhibit artificially generated tags that also emit a weak signal. As the two try to expose the aliens that are responsible and that must be slightly out of phase, the Doctor's program is deleted from the mobile emitter and B'Elanna is knocked out. The Doctor contacts Seven of Nine through her audio implants and secretly meets with her on the holodeck that is free of alien activities. He modifies her ocular implants so she can see the intruders. They devise a plan to use the EPS relays to cause a neuroleptic shock in all crew members that would incapacitate the alien devices. But Seven doesn't manage to complete the work. When aliens show up in Tuvok's presence, she takes a phaser and exposes one of them. The alien woman is taken to the brig. She tells Janeway that they are just conducting scientific research for the benefit of their people, and that they could kill the crew in an instant if they were forced to. After the death of a crew member Janeway decides to act and steers the ship right into the range of the pulsars. The aliens try to escape, but one of their ships breaks apart. With the aliens gone, the mutations to the crew can be reverted. Tom and B'Elanna muse whether their love affair was just a result of the alien experiment.

Commentary

I have a soft spot for stories in which alien intruders don't use guns but rather more subtle means to gain control of the ship or the crew. And I think that the idea of someone performing cruel experiments in the name of science was not yet exhausted after 30 years of Star Trek. Although the plot is essentially recycled from TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease", "Schisms" and "Phantasms" (aliens performing experiments on the crew to satisfy their curiosity) as well as elements from VOY: "Distant Origin" (cloaked scientific investigation), "Scientific Method" is an exceptionally thrilling episode.

There were other invisible alien threats in Star Trek before. The fact that Seven has to act covertly likewise and pretend that she is not aware of the aliens, in order to save the ship, gives the old idea an intelligent new twist. Furthermore the atmosphere when Seven can suddenly see the aliens perform their experiments on the crew is very unsettling and creepy. I like the visualization that shows Seven's view of the aliens and of crew members with weird looking pieces of technology on their heads in a blurry greenish light. I also like how these shots are contrasted with the corresponding ones in which everything appears to be normal.

After she has been apprehended and put into the brig, the alien scientist does not put much effort in her defense. For her, it is a sufficient justification to gather useful data. The fate of her test subjects doesn't matter, or only in a statistical sense that few have to suffer for the benefit of millions. She would normally never speak with any of them anyway, so in terms of an argument she is probably unprepared and only relies on her better tactical position. Janeway, on the other hand, remains remarkably calm despite her increased dopamine levels, as the alien woman remarks. It is clear that Janeway must find a way to get rid of the aliens without risking the lives of many of her crew. It seems that Janeway still hopes to get some sort of an explanation or excuse. But she should know that nothing could excuse the experiments of SS physician Mengele, and the same applies to what these aliens are doing. Could it be an ironic twist that the names of the aliens and of their species remain unknown, in the same way that they don't care for their victims' names?

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Year of Hell I/II

Synopsis

Stardate 51268.4/51425.4: The Krenim scientist Annorax alters history by means of "temporal incursion". When Voyager first encounters a small Krenim patrol ship, their territory is small. But Annorax's eradication of the Zahl homeworld restores the vast Krenim Imperium, without anyone outside his temporal weapon ship noticing the change. Voyager is now attacked by a powerful Krenim warship using chroniton torpedoes to penetrate the shields. The Starfleet ship suffers extreme damage. Seven of Nine devises a temporal shielding based on Borg technology as a countermeasure. Now protected against the chroniton torpedoes but also against changes in the timeline, the crew becomes aware of Annorax's following attempt to eradicate the Garenor homeworld. Annorax notices that Voyager's temporal shielding has disturbed his incursion and he strives to eradicate the Federation ship using his temporal weapon. With Tom and Chakotay captured by Annorax and the ship being damaged beyond repair, only Janeway and a skeletal crew remain on board. In the meantime, Chakotay gains the trust of Annorax. He learns that Annorax strives to restore the lives of his family on the Kyana Prime colony, for whose extinction he is responsible himself. Tom, on the other hand, is outraged about Annorax, and he allies himself with Obrist, one of Annorax's man who is tired of his mission that has been going on for 200 years. When it becomes clear that Annorax is not going to stand down, Chakotay agrees to Tom's plan to transmit a message to Captain Janeway and convince Obrist to get ready to disable the temporal shielding of the weapon ship. Meanwhile Janeway has assembled a fleet of the Nihydron and the Mawasi that conducts an attack on Annorax's ship. Obrist takes down the shields, and Janeway conducts a suicide attack with the badly damaged Voyager. The weapon ship eradicates itself. Since it has never existed, everything is restored to its original state.

Commentary

Even after almost 20 years, "Year of Hell" still blows me away. It is among my absolute favorite episodes of all Star Trek. In any case it's one of the most intelligent and most sophisticated plots ever brought to the screen. I wonder if anyone is able to understand all the depicted or implied temporal changes after watching the episode just once. Actually, when "Year of Hell" was just released on VHS, I invited a couple of colleagues to watch it. So we spent one and a half hours to watch it, and a few more hours to discuss it. We were young and we still had the time.

In light of the complexity of the two-part episode, the good consistency of the time travel story is amazing. There are some small logical problems that were probably taken into account because they improve the flow of the story. For instance, the commander of the Krenim patrol vessel remains the same person, although his ship and the whole course of history have been radically altered in the meantime. I think this is rather easy to put up with, although it doesn't make much sense. Likewise, the inevitable paradox at the end of the episode when the weapon ship erases itself from time is something that is necessary to be able to tell the story. I know that many fans have a strong dislike for stories with built-in "reset buttons", but if one Voyager episode deserved to push its reset button, it is "Year of Hell".

I like the duality of events when Chakotay tries to understand Annorax's motivation, while Tom warms to Obrist who is tired of Annorax's ongoing obsession. The mission on the weapon ship lasts for 200 years, and it may be the first time that visitors are aboard, someone new to talk to. Well, the motive of a villain who is kind to the hero and lets him in on his plans in the moment of the triumph is taken from James Bond films, but it makes a lot of sense here. Annorax just needs someone who provides fresh input after 200 years of try-and-error, and for Obrist it is the only chance to find an ally to end the madness. The two Starfleet officers, on the other hand, were beamed aboard against their will and need to do something. And although it initially goes in opposite directions, both contribute what they are good at. Chakotay remains open-minded and sympathetic. He tries to convince Annorax to end the eradication of whole civilizations. Tom, in contrast, becomes rebellious. But that way he incites Obrist's spirit to resist Annorax. In the end, it seems that Tom's strategy was the better one, but it only worked with Chakotay's backing.

On Voyager, the condition of the ship and the morale of the crew deteriorate with every new defeat. It may have been good to incorporate a bit more of a struggle among the crew. The only remarkable scene in this regard is when the Doctor wants to relieve the reckless Captain Janeway of her duty, upon which she threatens to deactivate his program. While it would have been possible to show more conflicts or let principal characters die as it is almost customary in alternate reality episodes, I like how the story keeps up the possibility that there will be no reset button in the end, in a similar way as it was in "Deadlock" when the damaged ship and not the intact one was the one to survive against our expectations.

The final scene of "Year of Hell" is the arguably most ingenious ever seen in Star Trek. Not only does the scene show Annorax together with his beloved wife, whom he tried to get back for 200 years and, paradoxically, actually got back after his ultimate defeat. The scene also leaves multiple possibilities of interpretation what is actually happening. Annorax's talk with his wife could be a flashback of the time of his first calculations some 200 years ago, which could be a sign that he is about to build the incursion weapon and history will repeat. Or the fact that he drops the PADD with "a few more calculations" in order to care about his wife could be a sign that he is more sensible in the new timeline. Or the scene could take place in "our" present, i.e. at about the time when Voyager passes Krenim space. In this case it is obvious that history was altered and Annorax had a lucky life together with his family. Still, his PADD indicates that he might build his ship, fortunately too late to affect Voyager. In any case, I think this scene is immensely important for the episode.

Hardly any episode is so full of tidbits, as special effects, trivia and quotes are concerned. For quite some time after our already mentioned video showing, "a few more calculations" was a winged word in our university institute.

Annotations

Rating: 10

 

Random Thoughts

Synopsis

Stardate 51367.2: The Mari seem to be a pleasant and unusually peaceful telepathic species. When an inexplicable murder occurs during an away mission on their home planet, B'Elanna is arrested for infecting the actual murderer with violent thoughts which is punishable under Mari laws. Tuvok further investigates the case, and he finds out that there is a black market for aggressions on the planet, and B'Elanna has been intentionally misused to provide them.

Commentary

I think most episodes dealing with psychic diseases and extreme emotions are fair but not that exciting, and this one is no exception. The interesting aspect here is that telepaths are likely to develop a system to punish "thought crimes" in the same way as non-telepaths do it with violent language or actions. Knowing that violent -primitive- thoughts have been widely eliminated, the Mari take this as a sign of superiority and obviously look down on the Voyager crew except for Tuvok. They may be peaceful, but in some way they are racists. Maybe also because they don't (want to) have all that much contact with non-telepaths. Besides, I don't believe that it will be ever possible to eliminate violent thoughts, in no kind of society. The feelings may hide deep beneath the surface, but they will show up some day, like in the Vulcan Pon farr or in the Mari black market for violence. This is more likely a rule than an exception. I also think the Mari are not fair at all if their very specific laws apply to non-telepaths likewise. If they don't want violent thoughts they should ban all aliens or at least inform them about their law system. I just don't believe that Voyager was the first alien ship to visit the planet.

Annotations

Rating: 4

 

Concerning Flight

Synopsis

Stardate 51386.4: Valuable equipment, including the main computer core, is stolen during a seemingly harmless pirate attack. On the pirates' homeworld Janeway and Tuvok find the holographic Leonardo da Vinci who is wearing the mobile emitter and who has been abducted as well. He helps Janeway to retrieve the computer core and, using his flight machine, they can escape the pursuing pirates.

Commentary

I concede that the episode has certain entertaining merits. But it is too much built around the holographic Leonardo da Vinci, and unfortunately his dull personal problems in "America" seem to distract not only the viewer but also "Catarina" from the vital mission to retrieve the computer core. Frankly, she could never expect Leonardo's support to be very helpful, and in a real crisis she should have deactivated him immediately and beamed him up to get hold at least of the mobile emitter, which the Doctor needs a great deal more urgently. Tuvok is damn right when he advises Janeway not to rely on da Vinci: "Inadvisable. Charming as your childhood hero may be, the program was not designed for use outside the holodeck." and "The program reproduces the entire range of da Vinci's behavior - his genius and his notorious unreliability." He sums up the whole episode quite nicely! I pitied Tuvok when he had to leave the two alone, looking irritated, maybe even hurt. The climax of absurdity is reached when Janeway discusses the sense of his existence with Leonardo while they are being pursued by the pirates. Either plot, the computer theft and Leonardo's personality problems would have been much more believable had they been separated. Esatto!

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

Mortal Coil

Synopsis

Stardate 51449.2: Neelix is killed on a shuttle mission, but can be revived with the help of Borg technology. After the experience of being dead, which was nothing like he had always expected it, Neelix questions his belief in an afterlife and the purpose of his present life. When he is close to commit suicide, the crew's affirmations that he is needed on board can convince him not to proceed.

Commentary

As I didn't like Neelix too much I didn't care a lot about his character's fate in this episode at first. But upon watching it for a second time, I changed my mind about "Mortal Coil". When exactly is someone inevitably dead and what happens after death? What if someone is revived after near-death experiences? It is astonishing that this has not been sufficiently discussed in Star Trek before. Even Spock's tragic death at the end of "Star Trek II" did not really raise questions but was ultimately degraded to a source of trivia in "Star Trek V". Of all crew members so far the rather comical character Neelix experiences the dilemma that we might have expected to plague Spock. Moreover, "Mortal Coil" is a "family" episode full of interesting dialogues, every character has at least a few good lines.

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Waking Moments

Synopsis

Stardate 51471.3: Everyone of the Voyager crew falls asleep and experiences the same dream, unaware that it is a dream induced by an alien species to whom dreams are reality. Only Chakotay, with his native knowledge of waking dreams, manages to wake up and defeat the aliens.

Commentary

This is a welcome opportunity for Chakotay to redeem himself and to play an important part again after "Nemesis", the probably least significant episode of the season so far. Of course, the "alien takeover" plot has been re-issued over and over again, but "Waking Moments" comes up with an intriguing variant. It also shows that it doesn't necessarily have to be the usual holodeck failure that traps the crew in a virtual reality.

I even forgive the writers who once again to let Chakotay appear "super-human", just because he is a Native American. While this heritage was not considered to be more than an ironical side note in "Caretaker", it was subsequently extended to include various knowledge and abilities that human beings shouldn't have. That way he is effectively rather an alien than a human, story-wise.

Annotations

Rating: 5

 

Message in a Bottle

Synopsis

Stardate not given: A Starfleet ship, the USS Prometheus, is detected in the Alpha Quadrant through an abandoned alien communication network. When no comm link can be established, Seven succeeds in transferring the Doctor's program to the Prometheus. There he discovers that the crew has been killed and the ship captured by the Romulans. Together with his counterpart, the enhanced medical hologram EMH-2, the Doctor manages to regain control of the ship. Back in the Delta Quadrant a race called the Hirogen claims the network is theirs.

Commentary

This story is pure fun. Its predominant factors are the amazing USS Prometheus and the initially less amazing EMH-2. Of course, the whole episode must not be taken too seriously, but some nitpicking should be allowed. For instance, have the Voyager authors ever heard of the Beta Quadrant? If memory serves, this is the region that Voyager is supposed to cross before reaching the Alpha Quadrant and where the Romulan border and therefore the Prometheus is supposed to be. Another weak point of the story is the transfer of the Doctor. A very simple message didn't make its way, but the highly sophisticated EMH can be transferred without any loss. Frankly, regardless of the purportedly "strong" nature of the holographic data stream, this would be much like sending an e-mail of 1 gigabyte: futile.

Annotations

Rating: 9

 

Hunters

Synopsis

Stardate 51501.4: Voyager receives several messages from the Alpha Quadrant transmitted through the newly discovered alien relay system. Tuvok and Seven of Nine take a shuttle to retrieve the rest of the messages from one of the stations. However, they are captured, beamed aboard a vessel of the Hirogen, an alien race of ritual hunters to whom the two are nothing but a welcome prey. In the following battle, the artificial quantum singularity of the relay collapses and destroys the Hirogen ships just after Seven and Tuvok can be beamed out.

Commentary

Besides the Borg and Species 8472 the Hirogen are the third enemy that is frightening not only because of their capabilities but also because of their way of living. The Hirogen fill their role as truly alien villains, nothing more and nothing less, in this successful action adventure. Impressive: The over 2m tall humanoids make Seven and Tuvok look like dwarfs. One inconsistency: The writers are obviously too fond of having the crew discover something radically new in each episode, otherwise they would have noticed that Romulan ships are known to be powered by artificial quantum singularities since TNG: "Timescape", so it should not be something so amazing on the alien station.

Annotations

Rating: 8

 

Prey

Synopsis

Stardate 51652.3: A Hirogen ship is found adrift in space, with one dead and one critically wounded Hirogen hunter on board. The Hirogen were hunting the extremely dangerous Species 8472. The severely injured creature can be captured and Janeway wants to take it back to its realm. However, in the meantime Voyager is surrounded by vessels of the Hirogen who demand the extradition of their prey. Against Janeway's explicit orders, Seven beams the creature to the Hirogen, and Voyager is free.

Commentary

No one honestly pities Species 8472 for being chased by the Hirogen at first. The Hirogen may be cruel and frightening, but they have faces and we can talk to them, while Species 8472 is about as sympathetic as a giant insect, only on three legs. However, human sympathy with the suffering creature gradually grows even though it is butt-ugly and hostile, while the appreciation of the Hirogen's hunting tradition dwindles away. This is the dilemma Janeway is facing, and fortunately Seven is there to make the hard but inevitable decision for her. In other words, she acts as the scapegoat. The course of action is somewhat reminiscent of the blatantly hypocritical TNG episode "Silicon Avatar", the worst of all TNG in my view, where Dr. Marr kills the deadly crystalline entity and the Enterprise crew who would have rather sacrificed their lives to save the monster are not grateful but upset about it. Fortunately, this time not a mental illness but Seven's predominance of reason and lack of compassion serves as the explanation. I think that Tuvok and many other crew members would have acted like Seven too, unlike Janeway whose interpretation of ethical principles is frequently subject change anyway.

Annotations

Rating: 6

 

Retrospect

Synopsis

Stardate 51679.4: Janeway is about to purchase an impressive weapon from the arms dealer Kovin. Seven, however, has a very bad feeling about Kovin, and the Doctor finds the apparent cause: Kovin might have conducted experiments on Seven to extract Borg nanoprobes from her body. When this turns out a mistaken memory of her former life as a Borg, it is already too late to rehabilitate Kovin. The desperate weapons dealer dies in a suicide attack on Voyager.

Commentary

An episode with few distinguishing marks. Seven needs to redeem herself. Seven has an identity crisis and/or hallucinations - we are getting used to it. This is why the only valuable contribution of this episode is to the development of Seven's personality. It was a ethical or moral failure in last week's episode "Prey", something that didn't bother her too much, but in "Retrospect" it is her perception and judgment that turns out impaired. While this is bad enough for a normal human being, for Seven on her persisting "pursuit of perfection" this is a serious crisis, especially since she is more or less responsible for Kovin's death. However, as I said, there are so many Seven-centered episodes still to come, trying to break her aura or her reputation, and this one does not excel.

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

The Killing Game I/II

Synopsis

Stardate not given/51715.2: Hirogen hunters have boarded Voyager and are now running their deadly games on the holodecks. In one scenario the Hirogen impersonate SS officers who - with the security protocols turned off - are chasing members of the French Resistance in World War II. The latter are actually Voyager crew members, but because of subdermal transmitters they are not aware of the true whereabouts. The Doctor fortunately finds a way to disengage Janeway's and Seven's implants. By blowing up the sickbay, Janeway finally manages to disable all implants. Soon, the situation runs totally out of control of either side, and after many casualties and much of the ship destroyed, Janeway and the Hirogen leader agree on a cease-fire.

Commentary

The Hirogen - a species like no other. They don't kill for a concrete or abstract goal, but just for their pleasure. It is their way. It wouldn't be Star Trek if they were just depicted as intolerable criminals or even as inhuman beasts. In spite of this good tradition the Hirogen Commandant that attempts to build a better future for his people's culture plays only a minor part, and unlike other villains in Star Trek his motivation can't really justify what he is doing - at least not by any human standards.

Unfortunately the theme of the episode is much like "Nazis in Space, part II", 30 years after the abominable "Patterns of Force". Certainly the Hirogen's pleasure in playing Nazis is a broad hint, their uniforms are unmistakable like signs saying "Evil Guy". But actually the Nazis are shown as still worse than the Hirogen here, since it's a Holonazi telling the Hirogen to carry on fighting with a racist speech that is probably more sophisticated trash than everything even Hitler said. Agreed, it's only a hologram, but I wonder whether Starfleet may have developed such a distorted histrionic view of history, or if the Hirogen have modified the program accordingly. Just on a side note, the colors of some of the Nazi pennants are wrong too, as they have the swastika on red instead of white background.

Anyway, I wouldn't have expected such a cheap and simplified version of real history in Star Trek, something like that should be left to the accordingly narrow-minded TV programs. The words "Nazis" and "Germans" are still too often used synonymously in American TV, and the only two times that something German was ever featured beyond mere trivia in over 30 years of Star Trek it was the Nazis. It should be a matter of honesty to correct this image soon.

I also wonder why Voyager frequently has to go to extremes, only to hit the rest button in the end. It's just not credible that everything can be repaired like the destroyed sickbay and dead crewmembers are buried and forgotten until the next episode, and his time there should have been at least a dozen fatalities for all the cruelty we have seen.

Annotations

Rating: 4

 

Vis à Vis

Synopsis

Stardate 51762.4: Paris aids "Steth", the pilot of a coaxial warp drive test ship, in repairing the damaged engine. When "Steth" is about to leave, he switches bodies with Tom and returns to Voyager as "Tom". Meanwhile the real Tom finds help in a woman who turns out to be the real Steth. They manage to stop the body-switching alien who has assumed Janeway's shape in the meantime. The most recent transformations are reversed, while it still remains a problem to trace back the history of the alien and find the women whose body was stolen.

Commentary

The episode was not as suspenseful as it could have been because neither the criminal motivation of "Steth" nor the miracle of body-switching nor the impact of the coaxial warp drive played an important role. I have rarely seen such a waste of opportunities in an episode. Instead of that, Tom's personal problems were obviously intended to be the focus of attention, an attempt of belated character development that utterly failed because of the much more interesting sub-plots. Actually, B'Elanna, Seven or maybe Harry would have been more competent in general engineering problems, so it is too obvious the exotic coaxial warp drive was especially invented by the author to give Tom a chance to prove himself. Furthermore, it was completely unnecessary to show that a Voyager shuttle can be equipped with this drive likewise (although we didn't see if it worked) and never ever use or only mention it again. In this respect the authors have learned nothing since "Threshold". An interesting detail: For a brief time, Janeway must have been trapped in Tom's body, which is never commented on. Still another wasted chance, at least in the eyes of J/P fans ;-)

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

The Omega Directive

Synopsis

Stardate 51871.2: When the large Greek letter omega appears on Voyager's displays, Janeway commits herself to a strange and strictly secret procedure. The Omega Molecule, a very powerful but highly instable substance, has been detected by the ship's sensors, and it's Janeway's foremost duty to destroy it at all cost before it can disrupt subspace. The Omega Directive overrules the Prime Directive, and Janeway takes the molecules away from the aliens who created them. Harnessing the Omega Molecules being an old obsession of the Borg, Seven makes every effort to persuade the captain not to destroy them, but Janeway proceeds. Only seconds before all molecules are extinguished, they eventually stabilize, but it is already too late to preserve them.

Commentary

Well, this is obviously one of the most popular trivia sources among all Voyager episodes. The humor might be regarded as inappropriate, but I liked it. The serious part of the episode is essentially about a conflict between Seven and Janeway, which is somewhat less consequential than in previous episodes. Seven understands Janeway's responsibility to destroy Omega, and Janeway knows what Seven feels about it once she recognizes that Omega is some sort of religion to the Borg. Chakotay is the only character besides them who has a nice scene when he convinces Janeway to work together instead of letting her go on a potential suicide mission.

I have a problem with the Borg being more and more "humanized" in Star Trek. They started off so much different in TNG, but then they were given the Queen as a leader in "First Contact", they are suddenly willing to negotiate in "Scorpion", they even have something like fear, and now they disclose their "Holy Grail". It is also weird that a molecule is supposed to be the most powerful power source to exist. So far it was chemical reaction, nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, matter/antimatter reaction and (at least in the Star Trek Universe) zero point energy, in ascending order. The designation "molecule" implies that something like a chemical reaction is involved, but this is obviously not possible. Well, considering that there are other materials like dilithium or verterium cortenide with miraculous properties, this might apply to Omega likewise. The problem is where the energy supposed to be released comes from. If Omega is "synthesized" as mentioned, one would probably have to put the same amount of energy into the synthesis as can be obtained later. This can hardly be the solution of energy problems. As for Omega being the origin of the Big Bang, this makes a little bit of sense only in that the energy content is supposed to be higher than of any other form of matter.

Annotations

Rating: 7

 

Unforgettable

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Chakotay rescues a woman, Kellin, who claims that she has met him before. They fell in love with one another. Kellin belongs to a people who cannot be remembered by other species but for a few hours. Moreover, her home planet, Ramura, is a closed society that doesn't allow anyone to leave. Now Kellin has defected and is pursued by tracers. When a tracer manages to come aboard Voyager, he directs a weapon at Kellin that makes her forget everything about the outside world, including the relationship with Chakotay, and she prefers to return home.

Commentary

Actually, I largely couldn't remember the contents of "Unforgettable", not even enough to write down a basic synopsis. Hence, I had to watch the episode again. Was my memory erased by the Ramurans?

The whole point of the plot is that at first Chakotay cannot remember Kellin (sad for Kellin), whereas it is the other way round at the end (sad for Chakotay). Sounds like a good story, but to make these mechanisms plausible is the chief problem of the episode. Biological and computer memories are frequently wiped in Star Trek without even an attempt to elucidate why and how it is done (most memorably in TNG: "Clues"). We have to be content with the non-explanation that something is inherent to the people of Ramura that erases biological and technological memories alike and, in addition, creates plausible new content to replace it. Moreover, how can it be ensured that it works for all alien species and all kind of technology? In other words, it is impossible. On the other hand, it is more credible that the tracers have a device to erase the memories of their fellow citizens.

Anyway, while technology played a minor role as far as screen time is concerned, the impact on the plot logic was entirely underestimated in the screenplay. And logic aside, it isn't that exciting an episode either.

Rating: 3

 

Living Witness 

Synopsis

700 years in the future: A Kyrian museum shows how the "warship Voyager" and its reckless crew caused a disastrous war between the "good" Kyrians and the "evil" Vaskans 700 years ago. After centuries of this feigned and misinterpreted history a Kyrian historian named Quarren succeeds in activating a copy of Voyager's EMH. The Doctor tells him the truth about Voyager and sets off another revolution that eventually leads to a mutual understanding between Vaskans and Kyrians.

Commentary

The absurd caricatures of the crew and the ship the Kyrians have recreated are fortunately the only funny aspect in an overall very serious and unexpectedly credible plot. "Living Witness" treats the question "What is truth actually?" more comprehensively than "Remember" could do. It is impressively demonstrated how history is written by the (military or moral) victor and how ignorance and stubbornness can hold back the truth even without anyone consciously denying it. And that even in an open and democratic society the prevalent view of history may easily become the only truth. Especially the museum and the simulations the Kyrians as the alleged victims have created made me think. Not that similar institutions on Earth would likely provide an equally wrong view of history, but it becomes obvious that the selected and accordingly presented exhibits, be they relics or reconstructions, may easily be mistaken for or overestimated as proof of a certain version of history. People only believe what they see - or are inspired to see.

The episode is also unusual in that it has hardly anything to do with Voyager itself; it is an almost completely home-made alien thing. And not to its disadvantage. The end reveals that the whole story of Quarren and the Doctor has been presented as another simulation in the museum many years later - this time correctly reconstructed?

Annotations

Rating: 9

 

Demon

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Voyager runs out of deuterium, and the only chance of refueling the ship is on a nearby Class-Y or "Demon-class" planet with a very hostile environment. Harry and Kim go astray on their away mission, only to reappear some time later, now able to breathe the poisonous atmosphere. They have been "bioformed" by a conscious biomimetic fluid, "silver blood", which does not release the ship until the rest of the crew permits to be duplicated as well.

Commentary

First of all, how ludicrously short-sighted is it to let the ship run out of fuel in interstellar space and to begin to save energy as late as the warp drive is not available any more and the ship is lost in all likelihood? What did Janeway expect? To find a deuterium source by chance, with impulse drive only? This may be the stupidest thing that ever happened in Star Trek. It has to be ignored for the story to make any sense. It would have been so easy for the writers to come up with a good reason why the ship is suddenly without fuel, such as an alien attack, an accident or something else that may have caused a leak in the deuterium tank. A single line would have sufficed. I try to imagine that someone said it.

Continuing my nitpicking, it is also unsettling that suddenly conventional sensors, whose normal range is several light years, wouldn't have detected the deuterium on the Demon-class planet no more than 0.4 light years away (what a coincidence anyway), as Seven stated. Furthermore, how could the real Paris and Kim survive so long, although life support failure was said to mean almost sudden death in this environment? Finally, how could the *bio*mimetic fluid recreate also the non-organic uniforms and even communicators and, not yet visible here, even the ship (see the sequel "Course Oblivion")? 

The basic idea of trying to find fuel in a hostile environment that nobody would normally even come close to is fair. But there are just too many logical flaws in the plot e to achieve a better rating.

Annotations

Rating: 3

 

One

Synopsis

Stardate not given: Only Seven and the Doctor can survive the deadly radiation inside a Mutara-class nebula, while the rest of the crew has to spend the trip in stasis chambers. After a month, several ship systems, including the Doctor, begin to malfunction, and Seven hallucinates to be pursued by an alien intruder. Virtually in the last possible moment the ship escapes from the nebula, after Seven has disabled life support to maintain propulsion.

Commentary

Hallucination is one of the most frequently recurring themes in Star Trek and is too habitually used to create menacing images when showing the plain reality would appear too boring. Unfortunately the episode "One" doesn't have very much real substance besides Seven's hallucinations. Seven is chased by an unknown man, something that may be a primal fear of even the strongest woman, and she feels inferior after leaving the Borg Collective. Her nightmares are the result of a malfunction of her implants together with her fright of being alone. The latter explanation may have sufficed.

While Seven's experience and its resolution are half-way plausible, it all doesn't strike me as particularly interesting. The only noteworthy and persistent aspect is Seven's newly emerged desire to have company. On a more positive note, "One" successfully creates an eerie atmosphere that never gets banal or silly, which accounts for extra points.

There are at least two inconsistencies: Why can't the Doctor simply be beamed or transferred to sickbay when his mobile emitter begins to fail and his program is about to be lost? And why does life support failure show up so quickly that Seven gets unconscious so fast - as if the breathable air would have been actively sucked out?

Annotations

Rating: 4

 

Hope and Fear

Synopsis

Stardate not given: The alien linguist Arturis decodes the last transmission from Starfleet, which leads Voyager to an unmanned Starfleet vessel, the USS Dauntless NX-01A, equipped with quantum slipstream drive, that was sent for their rescue. The ship, however, is a counterfeit created by Arturis, who wants to take revenge after most of his civilization has fallen victim to the Borg. With Seven and Janeway as hostages the Dauntless heads for Borg space to be assimilated. Voyager, meanwhile also equipped with slipstream drive, is in pursuit, and Janeway and Seven can be rescued in the nick of time while Arturis is facing his assimilation.

Commentary

Wow indeed. "Hope and Fear" is a worthy season finale that keeps the promise of its title. This time it is not blatantly obvious that the crew is being fooled, although everything seems to be just too easy. The plot would have been productive enough to make a two-part episode of it. However, it became a solitary episode with an unusually fast pace, and packed with action. I enjoyed it a lot, and I am willing to overlook that the "Hope and Fear" goes over the top, with the incredible sophistication in Arturis's plan as well as with the dramatic ending.

Annotations

Rating: 8

 


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