Star Trek Voyager (VOY) Season 5
The episode descriptions are given in normal text, my comments in small text. Rating: 0=worst, 10=best (rating system)
Night Stardate 52081.2: Voyager has to cross the
Void, a region 2500 light years across devoid of any star systems, when the
ship is suddenly caught in a war between two alien species. The
Malon are using the Void as a dumping ground for their
radioactive waste and are thereby killing an indigenous alien
species. When diplomacy fails, Janeway decides to support the
latter, and she destroys the spatial vortex into the Void.
The crew play space ecologists and help a suppressed people. Once again the Prime Directive is left aside, for a good cause, but not consistent with other occasions where Janeway was rather strict about it even if someone was in a need. The Malon and their ships look a bit too much like what they represent: the dirty and ugly. I found their society only interesting as the 24th-century equivalent of present-day lobbyism that puts short-term economic interests above the preservation of our planet. In particular, the Malon freighter captain, who refuses the offered refining technology because it would make his business dispensable, behaves much like present-day energy companies that don't want to promote photovoltaics. I wonder how the civilization could ever have come that far with such a stubbornness.
It is a rather entertaining episode, but it brims over with inconsistencies. Most importantly, the way the Void is depicted is absurd. Firstly, the ship should always be completely dark when in open space save its self-illumination. We could assume in favor of almost all other episodes that the self-lighting is quite bright, but then the lack of stars in the Void wouldn't make any difference. Secondly, the sky would be fairly empty, since most stars are in a range of a few hundred light years, but not completely, and not suddenly. The most ridiculous scene is when the ship arrives at the "boundary" of the Void and immediately all the stars reappear. Even if the Void has a somewhat sharp boundary, the transition should last several days even at high warp. Another problem occurs on the holodeck, which is still black & white after the complete power system failure. Furthermore, Seven is able to use a holographic ray gun to shoot at the alien. How is this possible without power?
Photon torpedoes used: 13 (at least!)
Distance bridged: 2500LY
Drone Stardate not given: After an emergency beam-out Borg nanoprobes from Seven's body assimilate the Doctor's
mobile emitter, and give birth to a new Borg drone. Seven helps
the Borg, whose designation is One, discover individuality and fit into
the crew, but inadvertently his subspace transmitter alarms a
Borg ship. Thanks to One's superior technology the Borg vessel is
destroyed, but One decides he has put the crew into danger and
This is a remarkable episode that contains both thrilling and touching moments. The parallels to Seven's own arrival on board one year ago and also to the development oft Hugh, the other "friendly Borg" in TNG: "I, Borg", are obvious and obviously intentional. "Drone" also reminds me of TNG: "The Offspring" and DS9: "The Begotten", where Data and Odo, respectively, raised someone of their own kind with a tragic outcome.
My only criticism is about some technical issues, but this time I don't think it impairs the story so much. Firstly, I wonder why One is so vastly advanced compared to the rest of the Borg. The species the Borg have encountered should have been separated by millions of years of development. What could be so special about a 29th century piece of Federation technology, since we can be sure that much more advanced knowledge has already been assimilated? Secondly, I wouldn't have expected that anything of the mobile emitter was left after One's death, and I wouldn't believe that B'Elanna was able to turn One's processor into a mobile emitter again, for she couldn't have understood how either of them worked. Thirdly, the Type-9 shuttle is suddenly called "Class 2" in the fifth season. While this lack of continuity is already bothersome, I doubt that anyone can remember this shuttle type from their Academy days. It seems to be a brand new type, maybe even custom-built for the equally new Intrepid class, as indicated by the similarity of several details of the big ship and the small shuttle. A carelessness that could have easily been avoided. Finally, there is one plot hole: Why don't they try to flee in time when the Borg vessel is approaching? Janeway orders to go to warp as late as the ship is already in weapons range.
Remarkable scene: One's death scene. It is especially moving because it is rather subtle and Seven is trying hard to suppress her emotions.
Remarkable quotes: "0600 hours. Early bird gets the gagh." (Doctor to B'Elanna), "Joke. A verbal comment or gesture, designed to provoke laughter." - "I see you've got your mother's sense of humor." (One and the Doctor)
Remarkable fact: One has assimilated 47 billion teraquads of information from Voyager's computer.
Extreme Risk Stardate not given: Being inattentive and
unenthusiastic in her duty, B'Elanna tries to compensate her
grief about the destruction of the Maquis with dangerous holodeck
programs. Meanwhile, a sensor probe goes missing in a gas giant, and
Voyager and a Malon freighter are both trying to salvage it. Tom
initiates the construction of a new shuttlecraft, the Delta
Flyer, which could sustain the enormous pressure. The operation
almost fails, but thanks to B'Elanna's newly emerged attention and
resourcefulness the Delta Flyer is saved.
I like the cool Delta Flyer, but the new supershuttle is only a superficial detail in an episode that largely fails to convince. Actually, upon watching for the second time, I didn't like "Extreme Risk" very much. Besides the countless technical flaws the story just doesn't make much sense on the whole. Especially the combination of B'Elanna's private problems with the salvage operation is awkward. It's a bit like in last season's "Vis-à-Vis", where the story was supposed to focus on Tom and didn't succeed for similar reasons. Ironically, this time it would have been wiser to involve Tom more as usual, rather than B'Elanna. After all the Delta Flyer is his brainchild and not B'Elanna's. It is not credible that her mourning and the way she gets along with it is discovered that late. At least Tom should have noticed a slight sign, but he doesn't even have an idea what she's doing in her spare time. I wouldn't call their relationship very close. They are probably facing the same fate as Troi and Riker or Kes and Neelix, whose feelings vanished gradually and silently.
Technical and logical problems: The question arises what could be so valuable about the probe that the crew of the first Malon freighter carelessly sacrifice their lives, and the Malon as well as the Starfleet crew nevertheless keep trying to get hold of it. The probe is called "multi-spatial", another piece of technobabble that was never mentioned before and will never play a role again, but is of paramount importance just this one time. The forcefield that B'Elanna creates to seal the hull breach is perfectly flat which is virtually impossible with a phaser beam. The "McGyver" method to take arbitrary components and build something new with them isn't very credible anyway. Moreover, such a quick solution is not what science and engineering is now or will ever be about. Finally, almost needless to notice that the construction of the Delta Flyer by a small starship crew with limited resources in a few days is almost as incredible as the Warp-10 shuttle in "Threshold". Moreover, if it were that easy, they would have had four years to build a larger shuttle.
Remarkable scene: Tom suggests to add "dynametric tail fins" to the Delta Flyer, but Tuvok is obviously not so fond of the idea of a "hot rod".
Remarkable costume: After Kirk's skydiving scene has been cut from "Star Trek: Generations", the skydiving suit is reused here.
Remarkable VFX scene: When B'Elanna stops the skydiving program, we see that the forcefields slowly move her in a vertical position, which looks very credible. However, I would have expected to see her drop to the floor, since the safety protocols were off. ;-)
In the Flesh Stardate 52136.4: Chakotay and Tuvok
investigate an alien space station with a perfect replica of
Starfleet Headquarters. It turns out to be Species 8472, who are
planning an invasion of the Federation and want to learn to know
their enemies by exactly living their lives, even assuming
humanoid shapes. Chakotay dates a member of Species 8472 in
the form of a human woman, but he is captured. Talking to the
leader of the space station who appears in the disguise of Academy groundkeeper Boothby,
Janeway can convince them of her peaceful intentions and avert an
armed conflict for now.
Honestly, while it is very original and also suits the spirit of Star Trek well, I found this episode rather implausible. On one hand, the plot of aliens disguising as humanoids and humanoids disguising as aliens disguising as humanoids is the stuff that good spy stories are made of, and this is definitely a good one. I only doubt that this is the way that Species 8472 would proceed. In "Scorpion" they have been introduced as lifeforms who have virtually nothing in common with humanoids, and this made them quite impressive. Not even a non-telepathic communication was possible. Their way of living and their technology was beyond understanding. Now they are pursuing their goals with methods that would rather suit the Soviets that were readily mentioned in the episode or the Romulans and are also reminiscent of the Founders (see DS9: "Homefront"). The space station looks rather conventional as well and not biological, it could be a Cardassian design. Of course, the considerable difference between 8472 and the Federation serves as their motivation to first investigate and then destroy the enemy, but wouldn't Species 8472 simply send a fleet of bioships and, if at all, rather do strategic simulations instead of irrelevant studies of humanoid behavior? In this respect they have previously been shown as even more ruthless than the Borg, who are at least interested in the "biological and technological distinctiveness" of a species. Summarizing, it is a pity that Species 8472 has to be entered into the list of "next-door races", as have been the Borg and maybe even Q before.
There is one aspect of the disguise that I like though: Species 8472 assumes humanoid shapes, and they begin to behave and think like humanoids. This is remarkable in that it disproves the theory that the soul rules over the mind that rules over the body and the soul/mind can be transferred into any body without consequences. It is an idea whose frequent use in sci-fi I don't appreciate. By the way, how can a biological synthesis be so perfect and the DNA be so entirely changed that it isn't noticed upon the transport of the alleged Starfleet ensign or the first examination by the Doctor that it is actually Species 8472?
Remarkable dialogue: "Sit down, Admiral." - "Sir?" - "I said sit down, or I'll knock you right on your human butt." ("Groundkeeper Boothby" issues orders to the "Admiral")
Once upon a Time Stardate not given: Tuvok, Tom Paris and Samantha
Wildman are missing on a mission with the Delta Flyer. Neelix
decides not to tell Naomi Wildman the truth about her mother's whereabouts but attempts to keep her
occupied, even if there is not much hope to find Ensign Wildman alive. Tuvok, Tom and Samantha are just about to suffocate in the
Delta Flyer that is buried under three kilometers of rocks on an
asteroid, however, they are salvaged virtually in the last
It is remarkable that the literally "minor" character Naomi gets a chance to play a major role in the story. We only need to forget about the silly shuttle crash and rescue-in-the-nick-of-time story, which is only the justification to focus on little Naomi. On the other hand, while the story largely makes sense this time, it doesn't really happen that much and everything that does happen is too predictable. One might think that the Flotter holoprogram, "Sesame Street in space", is no good idea in a sci-fi show, but it has to be considered that the crew and their children also have an every-day life. Star Trek even faces frequent reproaches of showing this too seldom. The Flotter program is actually one of the things I like about the episode.
I only wonder if the scary "Ogre of Fire" episode is suitable for children. It looks rather like it should have a PG-13 rating. Another thing that bugs me is that everyone seems to know holodecks from their childhood, while the technology was praised as brand new in TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint". Maybe it's just a continuous improvement of the technology, which has existed for a long time but didn't become a stunningly realistic simulation until the 2360's.
Remarkable quotes: "The Doctor talks too much." (Naomi), "No, thanks. I've had enough. One more cup and I'll jump to warp." (Janeway)
Remarkable dialogue: "Don't move, the Borg lady." - "She has a name, you know." - "Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One. Don't look! She'll assimilate you." - "Naomi, Seven is a nice person. And she's a valuable member of this crew." - "I don't want to be in her Collective." - "I don't think there's much danger of that." (Naomi and Neelix)
Timeless Stardate 52143.6: 15 years in the future: Harry Kim
and Chakotay strive to rectify an error in Harry's calculation of
the slipstream phase that once led to the destruction of Voyager,
the two being the only survivors. They salvage the Doctor and
Seven's cranial implant from the crash site and try to send the
corrected data back to the past. However, the attempt fails and,
moreover, the starship Challenger with Capt. Geordi La Forge is in
pursuit to stop them. Harry has no other choice but to prevent
the slipstream flight in the first place, so as to save at least the lives of the
Episode 100 is special in many respects such as the guest appearance of LeVar Burton as Geordi and the fantastic visual effects. Maybe the producers saved the interesting plot idea and an unusually high budget for this occasion. There are time travel paradoxes once again, which are described here, but they don't impair the nicely developed story very much. I think one particular quality of "Timeless" is the dramatic presentation and the way it is directed (BTW, by LeVar Burton). The beginning is already exciting, it is one of the few teasers of the show that really deserve this name. The flashback to the slipstream drive celebration is an interesting scene. Although everyone except for Tom is hilarious, a somber atmosphere is created through the camera pans and background music. I also like how the story switches from the events in the present (Delta Flyer being followed by Voyager) to those in the future (Delta Flyer suddenly pursued by Galaxy-class ship).
It is Harry's episode. Garrett Wang successfully personates Harry's transformation from the young and ever optimistic ensign to the bitter and cynical man that is obsessed with the idea of changing history and correct his error. The Doctor and Chakotay help him but actually don't have much to say or to do, which is a quite unusual setup in the series. I would have liked to see more of Chakotay's and Tessa's relationship though, since once history has been changed they wouldn't ever have met in the first place. This sacrifice ought to have played a greater role. Maybe it would have been a good 90-minutes episode, if the circumstances had been further elucidated, on the other hand, the fast pace as described above would have been lost. One question remains: Why do they try to land at all after the failed slipstream flight? If it is already hard to stabilize the damaged ship in space, how can they expect to survive the inevitable impact?
Remarkable VFX: the opening scene where the contours of Voyager buried under the ice could be seen, and the crash itself
Remarkable quote: "Mr. Neelix, you are an unending source of astonishment." (Tuvok's reaction to Neelix's furfly)
Remarkable dialogue: "Wait a second. If I sent a message from the future and changed the past, then that future would no longer exist, right? So, how could I have sent the message in the first place? Am I making any sense?" - "My advice in making sense of temporal paradoxes is simple: don't even try. To me all that matters is that somewhere, somehow, sometime, you come through for us." (Harry and Janeway)
Current crew complement: 150 who died in the crash, plus Kim and Chakotay
Distance bridged: the equivalent of 10 years
Missed opportunity to get home: #12, because with a bit more luck and shorter jumps it may just have worked
Regress Stardate not
given: Under the influence of a vinculum, a Borg computer core,
the consciousnesses of assimilated individuals begin to take hold of
Seven's mind. When the Voyager crew try to deactivate the
vinculum, they come under attack by Species 6339, who have infected the device on purpose to fight the Borg. Fortunately Seven's
link to the vinculum can be severed in time, and the vinculum is returned
to Species 6339.
There are times the writers don't have better ideas than have a character go schizo. It is just too alluring to let the person exhibit unusual and crazy characteristics and spice it up with some eerie dream or hallucination sequences. It is just so effortless, as there is no need to stay in context or in character. While plot largely lacks originality, it has some cute and funny moments that prevent the episode from being a complete waste. For instance, there is the unique opportunity to see Seven as a Ferengi or the emerging friendship of Seven and Naomi.
A striking absurdity, however, is that nearly all the assimilated individuals in Seven are from the Alpha Quadrant, although they should amount to only a few thousand among trillions. It is also odd that the Doctor suddenly disagrees with mind melds, while he had no objections in "Flashback".
Remarkable quotes: "Naomi Wildman, sub-unit of Ensign Samantha Wildman, state your intentions." (Seven), "Captain, you can't actually consider this Vulcan mumbo-jumbo." (Doctor's opinion on mind-melds)
Seven's personalities (shown or mentioned): human girl, Klingon, Vulcan, Ferengi, Bolian, Terellian, Tombaugh crew member, mother of a Melbourne crew member, Krenim
Seven's visions in sickbay (in order of appearance): human girl, unknown alien, red Starfleet man, Klingon, Bajoran, unknown alien, blue Starfleet woman, pig-like alien, another Bajoran, another Klingon, yellow Starfleet woman, "ribbed-face" alien (Yridian?), unknown alien, the first Bajoran again, "pimple-face" alien (Tosk?), Cardassian
Visions during mind meld: some of the aforementioned plus a Romulan and another Klingon
Nothing Human Stardate not given: An alien parasite
attaches itself to B'Elanna. The Doctor's knowledge about
exobiology being limited, he creates a consulting program in the
form of the Cardassian physician Crell Moset, but the man turns
out to be a war criminal. Janeway decides that, although Moset's
knowledge is from inhuman experiments on Bajoran prisoners, it should be applied to
save B'Elanna and the program be deleted thereafter.
I wonder whether the main reservation against using the medical database is that it was gained from inhuman experiments or merely that the appearance of the Cardassian war criminal Crell Moset serves as a representation. In any case the Moset hologram emphasizes the impression that the real Moset might be undeservedly honored by referring to his work in any fashion. I can understand this notion. Bu at times it seems the crew members dealing with him totally forget he is a hologram, and that he makes provocative statements just because he was programmed that way, be it authentic of the real Moset or not. He is not like the Doctor, he never had the time to develop a personality of his own.
It also plays too much of a role that Moset is Cardassian, as sad as this latent racism is among Starfleet personnel. B'Elanna and even Harry Kim are quite blunt when they refuse Moset, just saying that he is a Cardassian. Not only because of the many Maquis members who inherently despise them, but also since Cardassians are masters of disguise, the kind of car dealers who elaborate the benefits of a near-scrap car until the buyer really believes it. Fortunately, Janeway, with the support of Tom, makes the right decision, for it would not have helped anyone to deny Moset's work, least of all his victims.
An inconsistency: In "Message in a Bottle", Harry utterly failed in creating an interactive replacement for the Doctor, while the Moset program works perfectly after only a few minutes of programming. A rather annoying detail: Specific supporting characters seem to be created whenever needed, and suddenly there is another Bajoran on board who coincidentally and "conveniently" turns out a witness of Moset's crimes.
Remarkable quote: "Harry, you and I were lucky enough to enjoy the Doctor's scintillating exhibition for two full hours, would it really be fair to deny our friends the same unforgettable experience?" (Chakotay)
Remarkable dialogue: "What happened to going to yellow alert after half an hour?" - "Commander Chakotay appears to have disobeyed a direct order." - "Definitely grounds for court-martial." (B'Elanna, Tuvok and Janeway after their "unforgettable experience" of the Doctor's holographic slide show)
Thirty Days Stardate 52179.4: Lt. Paris is fascinated
by a planet entirely consisting of water. On an exploration
mission with the Delta Flyer it is discovered that the ocean is held together by gravity generators 600km beneath the surface,
but the inhabitants impair their function with their industrial
exploitation so that the planet is losing containment. Against
orders Paris takes the Delta Flyer to sabotage the industrial
facilities. Janeway stops him, and he is demoted to ensign and
sentenced to 30 days of confinement.
An underwater civilization is such a fascinating setting that it is astonishing it has never been featured in Star Trek before. The story of "Thirty Days" is a rather simple one, and a bit too obvious as it unfolds, not only because the teaser already anticipates much of what would happen. But the episode thrives on impressive special effects of the ocean planet. The most important aspect, however, is Tom's fascination for the sea - I only wonder why this was not hinted at earlier in the series. After the failure to tie Tom's private life into the main plot in last season's Vis-à-Vis, here is a story that involves him in a very plausible fashion.
As opposed to Tom, the rebel with a good cause, Janeway leaves a bad impression, because once again her actions are rigorous but very ,inconsequent. I wonder if Janeway has ever reflected on her own violations of the Prime Directive ("Night" anyone?) or B'Elanna's in "Remember", but this is the episode's outcome: In the absence of any admirals, Janeway is the boss of the Delta Quadrant, and she is the only one to break the rules or decide whether a rule has been broken.
Nitpicking: At the very beginning, Janeway says: "Lieutenant Thomas Eugene Paris, I hereby reduce you to the rank of ensign, and I sentence you to 30 days solitary confinement." When the same scene is repeated at the end, a dialogue before Janeway's statement is added, but this time the personal address is omitted: "At least this time I broke the rules for reason, for something I believed in." - "I admire your principles, Tom, but I can't ignore what you've done. I hereby reduce you..." Another error: The Delta Flyer crew is said to be "uploading" the database from the submarine structure, which should be "downloading".
Remarkable characters: The Delaney sisters show up eventually.
Photon torpedoes used: 1
Counterpoint Stardate not given: Voyager hides
telepathic refugees on their way through the Devore territory,
which is frequently monitored by rigorous inspections. One of the
inspectors, Kashyk, claims to defect and helps Janeway find a
wormhole leading out of Devore territory. It turns out that his
defection was only a deception, but Janeway has taken precautions
and has sent the refugees to the real wormhole.
"Counterpoint" is the art of combining different melodies or, in a figurative sense, of different opinions. This episode is remarkable because of its unusual, almost surrealistic atmosphere created by the classic music of Mahler and Tchaikovsky and the changing play of Janeway and Kashyk that the music corresponds with. At times Kashyk was triumphant, then again it was Janeway. Was there really an emotional attachment or even a romantic relationship emerging among the two or were both of them just pretending? Mutual mistrust may make a person appear very attractive. But neither of the two confessed their true feelings, not even in the end. And perhaps the question whether Janeway almost unwittingly surrendered to the Devore better remains unanswered.
What I disliked is that it was not even offhandedly elaborated why the Devore keep chasing telepaths. Kashyk makes a brief statement about how bad he feels in their presence, but other than that it plays no role in the episode. Possible inconsistency: I wonder why Lt. Stadi, the Betazoid woman at the helm, is not listed among the other deceased telepathic crew members. And what about Kes? Another one: What happened to the large shuttlebay where the Delta Flyer was built and is launched from? In this episode the shuttlebay is merely big enough to hold the small Devore shuttle, unless this is the infamous second shuttlebay.
Remarkable alien: Professor Torat with his pump-up nose, we kept cringing for a minute
Photon torpedoes used: 1
Shuttles lost: 2, given to the refugees
Latent Image Stardate not given: When taking photos
with his holocamera, the Doctor notices that he has performed a
surgery on Harry Kim he can't remember. Moreover, he discovers
that someone has been tampering with his memories. It turns out
that one and a half years ago he made a decision that entailed
the death of Ensign Jetal, his program got out of control and to
prevent him from self-destruction the connected events were
erased from his memory. This is about to happen again, but this
time Janeway decides to help him cope with it.
There is a lot of tough stuff in this episode. Who is to decide which patient is to be treated with priority? Who is to decide whether to intervene when a person, real or hzolographic, shows self-destructive tendencies? In some way, both problems are related to each other, however, the Doctor had to find a quick solution. There is no such thing as blaming him for doing something wrong. Janeway and her crew, on the other hand, would have had far more time to try out a cure for the Doctor in the first place, and it is not clear in how far it was simple convenience to erase everything bad inside him. Surprisingly, it is Seven, the crew member from who we can generally least expect compassion, who defends the personal rights of the Doctor. Maybe this is partially because she didn't witness his madness 18 months ago, but she definitely shows a Borg-unlike sense for individual rights.
I liked and disliked at the same time that the eventual treatment was much the same as that of a human patient in psychiatry. It shows that the Doctor has evolved beyond the state of being a technical device. On the other hand, there should still be considerable differences, and I wonder why sitting on a couch was supposed to help. I don't know anyway why the Americans are so fond of their psychiatrists, a profession that is fairly unknown in Europe.
The episode exhibits a clear parallel to TNG: "Clues", where it was also tried to hide all evidence from both the computer and the biological memories. I wonder if Data has any problems to keep his secret. At some point, even if we suppose that all computer data has been deleted, someone should have been careless and could have mentioned Ensign Ahni Jetal in the Doctor's presence. It's a pity that she is dead. I have been missing such a cute and charming female crew member, the ideal date for Harry. :-)
Remarkable quotes: "I am having trouble with the nature of individuality." (Seven to Janeway and Janeway to Seven), "In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appear the words, 'here begins a new life'." (Doctor, reading from La Vita Nuova)
Crew losses: 1 (18 months ago)
Bride of Chaotica! Stardate not given: While Tom's "Capt.
Proton" program is running, photonic beings from subspace
enter the holodeck, mistaking the simulation for the real world. The
crew have to convince the aliens of their peaceful nature and
support them in their struggle against the evil Dr. Chaotica, who
fights them with holoweapons, deadly to photonic beings. Janeway
aka Queen Arachnia and Tom aka Proton finally manage to defeat
Chaotica and save the aliens.
The parallel to "Heroes and Demons" is obvious. Still, I like this episode better, although it is just a remake in some fashion. This time the holonovel itself plays a greater role in the plot, and the photonic beings are conceded a greater role in the holodeck. The story is much more complex than the simple idea "Send the Holodoc to fix the holodeck". It may be unfair to prefer the re-issue over the original, but "Heroes and Demons" of the first season is rather an initial character-building episode for the Doctor, while "Bride of Chaotica!" makes much better use of the given 45 minutes, filling it with lots of character interaction, trivia, fun and unexpected twists. The only thing I really dislike is that there is not the slightest reference to the former episode, as if the whole situation and the existence of photonic beings were completely new. Once they maintain consistency, and they don't even proudly mention it!
"Bride of Chaotica!" is a fun episode in the first place, and in some way it is a parody of Star Trek itself. The scene when Proton's rocket ship crashes could take place on a "real" Federation ship as well, and when Tom is repairing the fictitious technology of Satan's Robot it seems to allude to Star Trek fans caring about Treknology.
Inconsistency: There is one fundamental logical problem with the photonic beings. They recognize the environment on the holodeck as a "planet". This would imply that they do know real planets as objects in our three-dimensional world. On the other hand, they must have noticed that "Planet X" is photonic and therefore not real, unless there exists something like planets in their photonic environment in subspace, which is highly unlikely.
Remarkable quotes: "All life is photonic." (the photonic being), "Intruders from the fifth dimension!" (Satan's Robot), "And, um, use grandiose language. He likes to be called 'Sire', and it helps to say things like 'The clever fiendishness of your evil plan is brilliant!'" (Tom to Janeway who is about to play Queen Arachnia)
Remarkable dialogues: "We didn't burst into flames in the last chapter! Why are these recaps always so inaccurate?" - "Well, they brought people back to the theaters." - "Cliffhangers." - "The lost art of hyperbole." (Harry and Tom, alluding to a common continuity problem), "Planet X looks kinda familiar. What was the last place we went to?" - "The Mines of Mercury." - "They're identical." - "Sets were expensive. At least there's no erupting volcano this time." (Harry and Tom and still another allusion to Star Trek)
Remarkable "technobabble": (Tom is repairing Satan's Robot) "Looks like he burnt out a resistor." - "A what?" - "That's a few centuries before duotronic circuitry." - "I see. How do you propose we repair him?" - "Ha, first of all, we got to move this damaged tube. No problems. Just a few crossed wires." - "Your knowledge of this technology is impressive." (Tom and Tuvok)
Remarkable scene: (topic: Queen Arachnia) Tom: "Somebody is going to have to take on her character." - Janeway: "Who'd you have in mind?" *looks away and then realizes that Tom is looking at her* "Oh, no!" - Paris: "It's the role of your lifetime!" - Tuvok: "Captain, need I remind you that we have exhausted all other possibilities of escaping this layer of subspace." - Chakotay: "'til we can eliminate those distortions, we're trapped." - Seven: "Think of it as Starfleet's first encounter with Planet X."
Remarkable mistake: Tom's hands are shown holding a telegraph print-out which is upside-up. However, since it is running through his hands from the left to the right, it would have to be upside-down.
Current crew complement: 150, as stated by Neelix
Gravity Stardate not given: A shuttle with Tuvok, Paris and
the Doctor gets sucked into a gravity well and crashes on a
desert planet. The alien woman Noss helps them find shelter.
During the following two months Noss falls in love with Tuvok. But the Vulcan is unable to return her feelings. Due to a temporal difference
only few hours elapse on Voyager, and they manage to save the
four people just before an alien starship closes the opening of
the gravity well forever.
Needless to say that I'm tired of shuttle crashes as plot devices. Once again some of our heroes are isolated in a hostile environment, besieged by equally hostile aliens, and a fast salvage is not possible. Fortunately the refreshing character of Noss saves the episode from complete boredom. It is quite obvious that Tuvok wouldn't feel the same. After all he is Vulcan and he is married, and maybe he didn't like her squeaking voice so much. ;-) At least I didn't. It is interesting to learn that once Tuvok was anything but a typical Vulcan. He only submitted to logic because his father wanted him to. Maybe this is why he is especially precautious. He once had unsuppressed emotions, and he might fear they could resurface again. I also like one scene with Tuvok and Tom, when Tom wants to convince Tuvok to yield to their present situation, just like Chakotay tried in "Resolutions". In only wonder if not rather Tom would be the one who would never give up, as illogical as it may seem.
Remarkable quotes: "If I were to deny feelings, why was I born with them? Where's the logic in that?" (young Tuvok), "I'm a doctor, not a battery." (Doctor), "Logic. I hate logic!" (Noss)
Remarkable dialogue: (Tuvok tells Noss that he is the chief of security) "What else?" - "Can you be more specific?" - "Your duties? Where do you sleep? What you eat? Music? Friends?" - "Why is any of that relevant?" - "Because it is you."
Remarkable 47's: Janeway states the time differential is 0.4744 seconds per minute. Tuvok calculates that the scheduled 30 minutes would last 2d 11h 47s. This is actually a mistake, unless he uses the length of a day on the planet with a precision of at least one second. Based on the Captain's figure he should have arrived at 2d 15h 14min 16s. The writer obviously tried to involve as many 47's as possible.
Remarkable facts: The planet is Class D. -- Young Tuvok fell in love with the daughter of either a Tarellian, Terellian or Tyrellian diplomat. Since it all sounds pretty much the same, I can't tell which race it is, but I assume it is the Tyrellians.
Current crew complement: 152, as mentioned by Tuvok
Shuttles lost: 1
Bliss Stardate 52542.3: The crew is excited about the
discovery of a wormhole directly leading to Earth. Only Seven is
suspicious, and she finds out that something makes everyone see
exactly what they want to see. Inside the alleged wormhole that is actually an enormous creature digesting ships, the crew except
for Seven, Naomi and the Doctor fall asleep. With the help of the
"monster hunter" Qatai they finally manage to escape.
We know the very basic story from TNG: "The Game". The whole crew is under alien influence, and only very few of them are not affected. Even the roles are somehow the same. Seven is "Wesley Crusher" and arranges forcefields and emergency beam-outs whenever necessary, Naomi is "Robin Lefler" and relies on Seven's skills, the Doctor is "Data" and is deactivated, since he could find out the truth. It is not necessarily a deficiency that the underlying plot idea is largely the same and its execution is similar, because it is just too good to be used only once. The one aspect that makes "Bliss" special is that it is not just a device that suppresses independent thinking like in "The Game", but that the innermost desires of the crew are being exploited by the "monster" and turned against them. So the crew apparently act on their own, driven only by the force of imagination. In this respect I remember DS9: "If Wishes Were Horses" where an alien lifeform made the crew's dreams, albeit rather the silly and superficial ones, come true likewise.
The only thing I really disliked about "Bliss" was to see yet another space-dwelling creature. Qatai as the "local monster expert" was credible, always somewhere between completely mad and completely sensible. I also liked the unsettling atmosphere that was successfully created for the dream sequences of the crew, although the dreams themselves were very pleasant - and very amusing for the viewer. Fortunately this time it was not only Harry who was overly enthusiastic.
Nitpicking: Voyager was only several million kilometers away, but suddenly their distance to Qatai's ship inside the anomaly/entity is 3.4ly.
Remarkable quotes: "Can we first contact with somebody or get a space battle?" (Naomi), "The odds of finding such an anomaly are infinitesimal." (Seven), "I'm a doctor, not a dragonslayer." (Doctor)
Remarkable dialogues: "My mom says two hands are better than one. Isn't that the Borg philosophy too?" - "Simplistic, but accurate." (Naomi and Seven), "Please state the nature of the medical emergency." - "Your ship is being devoured. I'd say that's an emergency." (the Doctor and Qatai)
Dark Frontier Stardate 52619.2: Despite her doubts about Seven's
feelings about the Borg, Janeway takes her on a daring away
mission to a damaged Borg vessel. They succeed is stealing a
transwarp coil, but Seven decides to stay with the Collective.
Back in the Unicomplex, the Borg Queen expects Seven to help her
assimilate mankind. The Delta Flyer being equipped with the
transwarp coil, Janeway, Tuvok, Paris and the Doctor head for the
Unicomplex and manage to free Seven. The pursuing Queen's ship is
destroyed when the transwarp channel collapses.
Unlike the conventional two-part episodes, "Dark Frontier" was aired as a 90-minutes TV movie. The format might be one reason why the basic plot is rather straightforward, and much of the time is dedicated to character development, trivia and special effects. What could I want more? The focus is on Seven and her three "moms": her real mother, the Borg Queen and Janeway. The first one doesn't play such a great role, but it would have been just too obvious to involve her more. The other two moms are not only struggling for Seven's loyalty, they really care about her well-being or at least pretend to, as far as the Borg Queen is concerned. We have seen a similar story when the Queen tried to bribe Data in "Star Trek: First Contact". Anyway, Seven as the missing link between the Borg and humanity appears to be even more valuable. Still, it doesn't become obvious why exactly her support is supposed to be so crucial and why the Borg don't just abduct any other human. On the other hand, I wouldn't have expected the Queen to tell her everything.
I wonder when exactly Seven decides to rejoin the Borg. They obviously sent her subconscious messages all the time, threatening to destroy or assimilate Voyager, however, there is a definite moment when she seems to be aware of her dilemma. When she talks about her parents ("Because of their arrogance I was raised by Borg.") and tumbles out of sickbay, this may be rather a sign that she doesn't want to doom her new family, rather than a post-traumatic effect of her own assimilation.
As for the Hansens, I think they were incredibly naive and incautious. It was remarkable that they studied the Borg like wild animals and that the Borg came out as much too weak and harmless at that time. It seems a fundamental rule anyway that exciting episodes always have a great deal of continuity and plausibility problems, and this is the case here too. There are some oddities about Seven's age, the stardates during the Raven mission and the fact that the Raven is suddenly a Starfleet ship. However, one thing that bothered me more is the usual "drive-of-the-week" inconsistency. It is a stretch that a small part from a Borg cube, namely a transwarp coil, could make the big ship much more powerful and much faster. Moreover, considering that warp coils are huge components inside the warp nacelles, I expect nothing less of a transwarp coil. I also wonder why the idea to get hold of such a coil comes so late. They would have had much better opportunities twice, in "Unity" and in "Scorpion". Also, at the end of "Dark Frontier", it may have been possible to salvage a few more warp coils from the debris of the Queen's ship. Giving them exactly one coil seems too much like a trick to get the ship closer but not too close to home.
Finally, my biggest concern is the fact that the Hansens knew about the Borg long before the Enterprise was introduced to them by Q in "Q Who?". The Hansens didn't even accidentally run into a cube, they went searching for them and they had informed the Federation Council. If the Borg were more than just legends from the past, namely from Lily ("Star Trek: First Contact") or the El-Aurians ("Star Trek: Generations"), why didn't Picard know anything? Another related inconsistency: How can there be already a Ktarian drone when the Hansens examine the Borg ship in the 2350's?
Remarkable quotes: "I don't know about you, but I feel lucky today." (Janeway gets cynical after the destruction of the Borg ship, part I), "Now this is how I prefer the Borg - in pieces." (part II), "Seven of Nine, be efficient." (Borg Queen), "There are three things to remember about being a starship captain: keep your shirt tucked in, go down with the ship...and never abandon a member of your crew." (Janeway to Naomi), "Don't listen to her, Seven. She's irrelevant." (Janeway about the Borg Queen)
Remarkable dialogues: "Don't touch it, Captain." - "What is it?" - "I don't know, but a few minutes ago it was crawling around the floor." (Harry and Janeway), "You see, if we change our long range sensors to Seven's cortical implant frequency, maybe we can find her." - "The Delta Quadrant is a very big place and Seven could be thousands of light years from here." - "What if we boosted our sensor range with power from the main deflector?" - "You've been spending too much time in engineering. I'm afraid it's not that simple." (Naomi and Janeway)
Remarkable understatement: "We'll be searching for one individual among thousands of drones." (Wasn't that supposed to be trillions?)
Remarkable scene: Seven witnessing the assimilation of Species 10026, one of the most dramatic and cruel scenes ever shown in Star Trek
Remarkable facts: A Borg cube has a volume of 28 cubic kilometers and 129,000 drones. -- The Borg Queen once belonged to species 125. -- The Unicomplex is populated by trillions of drones (could be a bit exaggerated, though). -- Species 10026 "welcomes" the Borg with 39 vessels, a familiar number.
Remarkable species: "Species 5618, human. Warp-capable, origin grid 325, physiology inefficient, below average cranium capacity, minimum redundant systems, limited regenerative abilities."
Remarkable ship: The Raven is shown as an intact ship, after it was already featured as a wreck in "The Raven". However, continuity is impaired, as the prefix is suddenly "USS" in the dialogues, Hansen's logs as well as on the MSD, although on the hull it is "SS Raven" and the dedication plaque simply reads "The Raven". A reasonable explanation is that the ship was quickly assigned a Starfleet prefix when the mission was officially approved of by the Federation Council.
Remarkable scenery: the Unicomplex, simply impressive to see the tiny cubes in between the huge structures
Distance bridged: 20,000ly, equaling 15 years
Current crew complement: 143, according to the Borg
Shuttles lost: 1
Torpedoes used: 7
The Disease Stardate not given: While Voyager supports a 400-year-old generational ship with repairs, Harry gets involved with the
resident alien woman Tal, against explicit orders. He is infected with
some kind of disease which could also be described as a
biochemical bond between Tal and him. Tal belongs to a group who
sabotage the generational ship to break apart in order to go
separate ways. Although there would be a cure, Harry decides to
live with his love-sickness.
"...and now a girl from a xenophobic species." Tom somehow takes pleasure in reminding Harry that he has had anything but luck with women during the past five years. It is no surprise that Harry gets into trouble once again. Fortunately it is not one of the usual plots where the alien femme fatale deceives the righteous Starfleet officer. Tal doesn't tell the whole truth, but their mutual feelings are real, and that is the most important thing. The secondary plot of the dissenter group trying to break the ship apart (at least this plot appears to be subordinate) neither improves nor ruins the love story, it is just unnecessary complexity.
It is remarkable that it has never been mentioned, let alone discussed in Star Trek before that sexual relationships with aliens have to be approved of in advance. Starfleet officers frequently get involved with alien species, but it seems that usually it doesn't go that far that a protocol or order would be violated. Have Kirk or Riker ever been sentenced for unauthorized relationships? It almost seems like the ban on sex with aliens was especially made up for the lowly ensign Harry Kim.
Anyway, Harry now has threefold problems due to the specific circumstances. Firstly, he should have let the Doctor check the "compatibility" in advance. Secondly, he disobeyed a direct order by Captain Janeway. Thirdly, he disrespected the wish of the aliens to get in contact with the Voyager crew as little as possible. Of all these problems, Harry's conflict with Janeway, his surrogate mother, seems to be the worst by far. Their dispute in Janeway's office is the most controversial we have seen on Voyager for a long time. It is interesting to see how Janeway nevertheless shows insight, even encourages Harry to further go his own way at the end of the episode. It is obvious that Harry and Tal would have to part, no matter if the generational ship separates or not. Still, why has the alternative of staying together on either of the ships never been discussed?
Overall, the well-written dialogues and the good acting of Mulgrew and Wang are the bright spots in this episode. Other than that, it only caters to the "unlucky Harry" cliché by getting him into trouble with the help of contrived twists, only in a more "adult" fashion as before.
Remarkable quotes: "Perhaps not everyone is content to be in your Collective." (Seven to the captain of the generational ship), "You're beautiful when you scan." (Harry to Tal)
Remarkable dialogue: "Maybe I'm not the perfect officer anymore." - "Maybe not. - But you're a better man." (Harry and Janeway)
Remarkable scene: the zoom-in from a total view of the impressive generational ship to Tal and Harry
Remarkable fact: The Borg have referenced something like love in 6000 assimilated species.
Course: Oblivion Stardate 52586.3: B'Elanna and Tom get married, and an "enhanced warp drive" has been installed on Voyager, capable
of taking the ship home in only two years. It soon becomes obvious that this
is not the real starship Voyager and crew though, but the bioformed "Silver Blood" duplicates from the Demon planet. However, the warp field begins to
damage the molecular structures of both the ship and the crew, and just
when the real Voyager picks up their distress call, the "Silver Blood" crew and their ship have
The sequel to "Demon" shows the fate of the bioformed duplicates and doesn't have anything to do with the real crew, except for the last few minutes. This is not necessarily a bad setting. Yet, it doesn't advance the storyline in any way. If at all, such a plot should only be allowed if it is very original. This might apply to "Course: Oblivion", however, I have problems with the episode's plausibility and credibility. I just can't believe that the *bio*mimetic gel can duplicate everything, including non-organic compounds like the ship, and even those materials which cannot be replicated, antimatter for instance. Even if we accept this, how could it remain unrecognized for more than nine months that the crew as well as the ship are not what they appear to be? Routine scans should have revealed that everyone and everything is composed of the "Silver Blood". The most important question, however, is why no one remembers their origin. The excuse that somehow they forgot it is very weak. Maybe this is what the episode title actually refers to ;-). Anyway, the primary meaning of the title, the fact that no one will ever take notice of the existence of the ship and crew copies is the most tragical one, even more than their destruction itself. The episode is definitely among the saddest. I have the impression that the crew duplicates are even more desperate than their originals would have been in this situation. This goes along with their physical decay, which is emphasized with an almost ridiculous yet convincing thick make-up. As opposed to other episodes where I hardly notice the background score (which is usually either of the "suspense" or of the "multi-purpose" type), this time it was very melancholic, suiting the overall depressive mood.
Remarkable dialogue: (Seven catches the bridal bouquet) Doctor: "Congratulations." - Seven: "What?" - Tuvok: "You may not want to know."
Remarkable facts: The Demon planet is in the Vaskan Sector. -- The navigational deflector fails (a very seldom failure). Technically correct, this causes interstellar dust to hit the ship. -- Paris is still a lieutenant, for we can assume he has been demoted only on the real ship (see "Thirty Days").
The Fight Stardate not given: Voyager gets stuck in
"chaotic space", a region where fundamental physical constants fluctuate. Resident aliens contact with Chakotay by
activating a genetic disorder, which causes him to hallucinate
that he is engaged in a boxing match. After a while he manages to
sort out his visions, and he finds a way out of chaotic space.
This is the recipe for a really bad episode: take a generic space anomaly, a few mysterious alien lifeforms and a crew member that suffers from hallucinations. Not only have we seen all these basic parts of the plot before, for instance in TNG: "Night Terrors". A more detailed view at "The Fight" doesn't show any interesting or new aspects either. There have been boring episodes before with at least good acting or a few pointed dialogues or trivia to remember, but here there are almost nothing of that. The hallucination sequences are out of place, pointless and just a pain to watch. Yes, I understand they are meant to represent Chakotay's confusion, and hence they do not need to make any sense. But it is simply too much, I expect a certain logic in a TV series that is missing here and not such a psycho trash. On the top of everything, the scene when Chakotay talks to the aliens, who appear as crew members, is an awkward imitation of Sisko's encounters with the Prophets in DS9.
The only remarkable thing is that a distress beacon is shown for the first time. Boothby has a guest appearance, on the other hand, he doesn't play much of a role. It is almost a total waste for him to appear in this episode. As if all of this were not bad enough, the teaser already anticipates virtually everything that would happen in the episode and is more of a spoiler. "The Fight" was definitely my least favorite of the whole series... until only four episodes later.
Remarkable fact: Chakotay says he initially fought against a Tarellian, Terellian or Tyrellian. It is the same problem with lazy alien T-name recycling as already in "Gravity". However, although they are homophones, it can only be a Tyrellian, since the Tarellians do look exactly like humans and are almost extinct and the Terellians have four arms. The latter would have been a harder opponent. ;-)
Think Tank Stardate not given: Voyager is surrounded by
apparently hostile Hazari mercenary ships, when Kurros appears. He is a member of a group of super-brains that Janeway dubs the "Think
Tank". Kurros offers their help to escape the Hazari trap,
but he demands that Seven of Nine would have to stay with his
group. Their whole present situation being a plot by the Think
Tank, Voyager finds allies in the Hazari who demand their
payment, and with combined forces they can turn the tables on the Think Tank and escape.
The situation is just too obvious: Voyager runs into a trap by the Hazari, who are notorious mercenaries, and accidentally somebody appears and offers their help. It does not come out as a big surprise that Kurros actually arranged the trap in the first place, only the reward he has in mind for his "kind help" is unusual. It is clear that Janeway would never agree to the deal "Seven for our safety", neither would she order Seven what to do. Nevertheless, I missed the old "Action Kate" spirit a bit, which was always strongest whenever a crew member was in danger. It is obvious that the prospect of staying with the brain-connected Think Tank "Collective" wouldn't be very tempting for Seven, who has just been freed from the Borg for the second time. Thus, unlike in "Scorpion", "Raven" or "Dark Frontier" there is not really a conflict in this episode, it is rather the consideration whether Seven served her crew better if she left or if she stayed.
The character development doesn't play a great role anyway. On the contrary, most of the time is dedicated to the solution of the "puzzle". I think the logical and systematic approach to a problem that depends on so many arbitrary, random or even unknown factors is vastly overestimated here. A tactical situation cannot be compared to a simple puzzle like the 24th century version of Rubik's Cube featured as a symbol for the greater dilemma. Yet, the plan to beat the arrogant Think Tank with their own weapons is a good idea. In this regard it is also a morally correct episode.
Observations: I wonder where the debris field comes from, just before Voyager abducts the two Hazari. Some of the parts actually look like pieces from Voyager's hull. -- Discipline seems to have reached an all-time low. Not only Janeway in her ready room, but even Harry on bridge duty are playing with "Rubik's Cube". -- Another odd observation is how easily Janeway is ready to give away secrets like Voyager's schematics or slipstream technology. Prime Directive anyone?
Remarkable quotes: "When we helped the citizens of Rivos V resist the Borg, all we asked for was the recipe for their famous zoth-nut soup." (Kurros), "Acquiring knowledge is a worthy objective. But its pursuit has obviously not elevated you." (Seven)
Remarkable dialogue: (Seven solves the puzzle - "Rubik's Cube") "Seven, how'd you do that?" - "I scanned the device. Its mechanism operates on a simple fractal regression." - "You scanned it? That's cheating!" - "Cheating is often more efficient." (Tom and Seven)
Remarkable facts: The Think Tank has found a cure for the Vidiian phage.
Remarkable species: Species 4228, Hazari
Photon torpedoes used: 4
Juggernaut Stardate not given: Voyager offers the Malon their
help in sealing a radiation leak in an abandoned freighter that
is about to poison a whole sector. The Malon, however, are
reluctant to return, partially because of a mythical monster
called "Vihaar" supposedly living in the radioactive
waste. On the freighter, the Vihaar actually appears in the form
of a poisoned subordinated core worker, and B'Elanna has to kill him in
It is hard to review and rate this episode, because there is not much special about it. What I really like was that we finally get some insight into the Malon culture. Thus far they were nothing but exasperating space-polluting aliens-of-a-few-weeks, but now their motivation and their hopes and fears are credibly presented for the first time. Unfortunately it will be the last time too, for we can't expect them to move even further beyond their borders. It is already hard to explain that the Malons are encountered thus far away from last time. Either their territory spans 15000 light years across, or they just used yet another wormhole. I have the impression the episode was originally scheduled for the early fifth season. This would also explain B'Elanna's violent behavior like in "Extreme Risk" that never showed up again in the meantime. I already had a problem with her behavior in the other episode, and I don't have a clue in "Juggernaut" either. Although this is a custom-tailored episode for B'Elanna, there is only a small amount of character development, as if a following episode, namely "Extreme Risk", were to further elucidate it.
Scientific nitpicking: How can cells be inoculated not to absorb radiation? Absorption is primarily a physical, not a biological process, the only thing that could have helped would have been a protective suit. Only the effects of radiation damage can be treated medically.
Remarkable quote: "It's an occupational hazard." (one of the Malons, seems to apply to anything they do)
Remarkable dialogue: "You as a child. Those pointy little ears, you must have been cute." - "Indeed." (B'Elanna and Tuvok)
Remarkable scenes: (*fanfare*) We may look inside a running sonic shower for the first time. Furthermore, we see an adult Malon play with a model ship. Not that I ever did the same childish thing with my ship models. ;-)
Remarkable slide show: The Doctor wanted to call it "A Day in the Life of a Warp Core", but B'Elanna broke his holocamera. Unfortunately. ;-)
Remarkable fact: The Malon garbage scow has 42 decks.
Someone To Watch Over Me
Stardate 52648: While an ambassador
fro the Kadi is visiting Voyager, the Doctor gives Seven lessons in
"romantic relationships", but the success is lacking,
until he takes on the role of her date himself. Against all
diplomatic protocols the ambassador strives to taste all the
enjoyments the Federation is able to offer. Drunk of
synthehol he turns the official reception into a disaster. In the
meantime, the Doctor has become aware that he himself feels attracted to
Seven, but he never tells her.
Well, the plot is one of the oldest to exist. Call it "Pygmalion", "My Fair Lady", or "Pretty Woman". Take a man with very distinguished manners and a girl who is lacking social skills, and you know what you'll get. Only the ending was different, and I felt a bit of pity that the Doctor wasn't successful. Apart from the more or less open ending, nothing really surprising happened. The Doctor and especially Seven behaved like they always do. Especially Seven's stereotypically sterile yet funny choice of words was rather used to cheer up the story than to show the character's emotions and attitudes. Nonetheless Picardo's and Ryan's performances were very good. They were up to impersonate two characters who are a little more than only working well together, and they worked out the necessary fine tones. The numerous quotes and tidbits like Seven and the Doctor singing together were fun, so the episode gets a much higher rating than it would deserve for the mere course of the story.
The secondary plot of the ambassador who behaves quite unlike his prude and restrictive culture was amusing, yet, also a bit distracting. It would have deserved either more or less screen time than it was conceded.
Remarkable song: "You are my sunshine", performed by Seven and the Doctor
Remarkable quotes: "Borg provokes Klingon. Klingon breaks Borg nose." (B'Elanna), "Gossip travels faster than warp speed." (Doctor), "Dating? You mean procreation." (Seven), "What did the counselor say to the hologram: 'You're projecting.'" (Tom), "Assimilate me! Please!" (the ambassador)
Remarkable scenery: "Chez Sandrine's" appears for the first time since season 2.
Remarkable facts: Voyager is a ship built for long-term exploration. -- Species 8472 is believed to have as many as five sexes. -- The Kadi can get drunk from synthehol, because they are lacking the necessary enzymes.
11:59 Stardate 31.12.2000: Kathryn Janeway explores the
history of one of her ancestors, Shannon O'Donnell, who comes to
a town in Indiana supposed to be demolished for a giant building,
the "Millennium Gate". Only book shop owner Henry
Janeway withstands the project until the last moment, but she can eventually convince him not to obstruct progress.
I felt like writing only a brief rant about this utterly pointless and boring episode. However, I will try to elaborate my criticism. The story has nothing to do with Voyager. Neither is it science fiction, nor does it further advance the storyline in any way. Moreover, if it had not been for Kathryn Janeway or Janeway's clone, her equally caffeine-addicted token Irish ancestor Shannon O'Donnell, or Kate Mulgrew, it wouldn't have been recognizable as a Voyager episode at all. Agreed, all this is no reason to dismiss the episode. Yet, I don't watch Star Trek to see a story set in present-day America with very loose ties to the actual series. Abandoning all the basic settings is only justified for a very good plot. The one of "11:59", however, is very bad.
It is easy to see that almost the same story of a courageous woman and stubborn man who doesn't want to make way for progress has already been told in DS9: "Progress". The latter is among my least favorite DS9 episodes, so it is obvious that I didn't like to see it again, only with different actors in present-day Indiana. This takes me to another similarity with a DS9 episode. "11:59" obviously tries hard to repeat the success of DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars", whose basis was equally weak as described above but which presented an interesting story, involved profound criticism of racism and eventually asked us the thought-provoking question "What if all this (namely DS9) existed only in the imagination of Ben Russell?". There is nothing like that in "11:59". So what is the point here? What impact can the story have on Voyager? The only outcome in essence is that Janeway's ancestor was not quite the woman Janeway had taken her for. She used to be quite a loser for some time in her life. She didn't build the Millennium Gate, she merely contributed a small piece of work. History is not always as we see it, but this has already been much more impressively demonstrated in "Living Witness". Once again, what is the outcome? What is memorable about this episode? I can't tell.
The connection between the events in the past and Janeway's interest in her ancestors is awkward. Moreover, it is silly that suddenly the complete senior staff seems to be enthralled by genealogy, culminating in the awful "family photo" at the "Ancestor's Day". The visualization of situations and feelings can be best described as kitsch, on 24th-century Voyager and in the past alike. There are a lot of calm moments with good acting, but this can't compensate for the frequent corny lines. In the 24th century it is nothing more than a hollow celebration of family history and pioneer spirit, in Janeway's family in particular and the USA in general: "The first in a long line of Janeway explorers" ...blah blah blah.
There is also a disputable moral in the story. The longer I watched, the more I became convinced that the Millennium Gate wouldn't ever be more than what Henry Janeway disdainfully nicknamed it, a huge shopping mall. Given the recent failure of the biosphere experiment, I doubt that a self-sustaining building would be possible as early as 2000. It's not as simple as attaching a few solar panels to the outer surface. Nevertheless, everyone in the story, eventually even Henry Janeway himself, seems to leave aside these second thoughts. It was disturbing to see how the non-argument prevails that smart people have conceived this building and that it represents progress, so it can't be wrong. And even if the Millennium Gate were something new and inevitable, would it justify the destruction of the old? The episode definitely says yes. I wonder most of all why they didn't simply build the Millennium Gate outside the town, buying all the required land from a single farmer and avoiding all the fuss with obstinate people like Henry Janeway. Realistically, there would have been hundreds, maybe thousands like him. I would have joined them too.
Just a side notice: It is annoying that Star Trek joined the "Millennium" hype, as if the new date would be equivalent to a new age. During late 1999 I was so tired of reading and hearing the word "Millennium" everywhere that I largely avoided newspapers and TV. You can imagine how much I enjoyed to learn about the "Millennium Gate" in my otherwise favorite TV series. At least the episode anticipated that there would be no Millennium Bug, which almost conciliated me again.
Remarkable quote: "But it's nothing but hype. It's actually a glorified shopping mall. They've talked all of my neighbors into selling their businesses. Only one thing stands in their way." (Henry Janeway) - "The Bolians express dismay at the low quality of human plumbing." (Janeway)
Relativity Stardate 52861.3: Seven of Nine is in charge of
preventing Voyager's destruction by traveling back in time and
finding its cause, a temporal device from the 29th century. Seven
arrests the saboteur. It is Captain Braxton, a future self of the
very man who hired her for the job! As Voyager has ruined his career by stranding him on 20th century Earth, he strives to erase the ship from the timeline. Upon
preventing the disaster with several paradoxes as side-effects,
the timeline is cleaned in a way that nothing harmful actually happened.
This must have been the most complicated time travel story ever. There were lots of paradoxes, but who cares if the story is that exciting? Read on here. "Relativity" is a fun episode that ironically comments on the many problems of time travel. There was literally not much time for big emotions, but Seven and Janeway acted exactly according to their established characters - at all times. It was good to see Capt. Braxton return, although I didn't recognize him at first, because of his now larger uniform size.
As for the 29th century, we only saw the Relativity and a few officers, and it was not a place I liked too much. It was like Starfleet style preserved for 500 years, only a tad too sterile. On the other hand, it must have been difficult to create a time that is as far in the future than Voyager is from now. I enjoyed the continuity to "Caretaker". It is not an error that Voyager is shown at Utopia Planitia, although the dedication plaque indicates it was launched from Earth Station McKinley. It is possible that the ship only received additional equipment at Utopia Planitia. This must have happened a brief time prior to the beginning of "Caretaker", since Janeway made the proposal to get Paris for the job.
Remarkable teaser: Janeway is just visiting the bridge of the newly commissioned ship when a blue-clad ensign is briefly seen in the foreground: Seven.
Remarkable dialogue #1: Janeway: "Starfleet's most up-to-date vessel and they still can't design a comfortable place to hold a meeting. What do you think, Ensign?" - Seven (disguised): "It is an...efficient design." - Janeway: "Well, there you have it, Admiral. It's efficient. I must be wrong."
Remarkable dialogue #2: Seven (just being trapped in a forcefield on Voyager): "I can't answer your questions." - Braxton (listens on the Relativity): "Good." - Janeway: "Why not?" - Seven: "It would be a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive." - Janeway: "You're from another time?" - Seven: "Yes." - Braxton: "No!"
Remarkable quotes: "Tempus fugit." (Braxton), "An injection a day keeps space sickness away." (Doctor), "I look forward to it. Or should I say 'backward'?" (Seven)
Remarkable scenes: Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards. Starship fans have been waiting to see this for years. -- The ping-pong ball being stuck in mid-air. A nice and unexpected effect.
Remarkable appearance: Lt. Carey is alive, but only in the past.
Remarkable ship: USS Relativity, however, as opposed to the interior which I found a bit boring, I think the outside looks too "alien".
Remarkable facts: Voyager has a mass of 700,000 metric tons.
Warhead Stardate not given: Harry and the Doctor salvage a
device with a built-in artificial intelligence from a planet's
surface. It turns out to be weapon of mass destruction that still
believes in the need to destroy the assigned target, although the
war is over by now. The Doctor can convince the weapon to abstain from the
attack, and in an act of self-sacrifice it destroys the other
weapons still approaching the former target.
Agreed, superficially this episode is much like "Dreadnought", and it also shows similarities to the classic sci-fi movie "Dark Star" (right, the one with the psychotic talking bomb). There is also a clear parallel to "Crimson Tide" where Gene Hackman wants to launch the nuclear missiles without final confirmation, and Denzel Washington tries to hinder him. But it becomes clear that the "bomb that insists on going off" plot is not yet exhausted. The variant in "Warhead" is interesting because it doesn't just show the bomb as a stubborn mechanism that only does what it is programmed to do. Actually, "Warhead" reminds me still more of TNG: "The Quality of Life", where Data managed to prove Exocomps were sentient beings that have developed beyond their initial programming. The same applies to Data himself and to the Doctor, respectively, who try to protect their distant relatives. The main difference is that this time the consciousness belongs to a weapon and not a useful tool. Mass destruction is a good purpose according to the bomb's programming and, moreover, it is the only reason for its existence. Therefore it is even more remarkable that the bomb can be eventually convinced not to proceed to its target. Ironically, while one Exocomp in the TNG episode sacrificed itself to protect the other two of its kind, here the bomb explodes to disable the other weapons which have not evolved that far.
I wonder if the story would have been equally good without the old "evil twin" trick. Maybe they should have just given the bomb a voice instead of letting it take over the Doctor's matrix. Finally, there is one more thing I really liked: For the first time a distress call is picked up at night, and it is up to Harry to follow it who, besides the Doctor, gets a lot to do in this episode.
Nitpicking: How can deck 5 (sickbay) be jettisoned in an emergency? The deck is in the very center of the ship.
Remarkable quote: "I am simply completing my mission. Only the target has changed." (the bomb before its detonation to destroy the other bombs)
Remarkable error: The Doctor says "interpretating" at one point. Maybe language will change a bit until the 24th century. ;-)
Equinox I/II Stardate not given: The Equinox, a second Federation
starship pulled into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker, is
under frequent attack by interspatial aliens that are able to penetrate
the ship's shields. Janeway assures Captain Rudy Ransom of the
Equinox of their full support. When the Doctor, however,
discovers that the Equinox crew was killing the aliens to use
antimatter emissions from the alien bodies to boost the performance of their warp
drive, Janeway puts them under arrest. The Equinox EMH, whose
ethical subroutines have been removed, frees his crew, while the
Doctor and Seven are trapped on the Equinox. Ransom removes the
Doctor's ethical subroutines too and lets him extract the code
for the improved drive's power relays from Seven's brain. Janeway
wants to stop Ransom at all cost, and she even relieves Chakotay
of his post when he opposes her actions. An agreement with the aliens is
found that the Equinox should be destroyed. In the following
battle, Ransom changes his mind, but his first officer Max Burke
takes command from him. Burke and the other mutineers are killed
by the aliens; Ransom dies when the Equinox explodes after he has
taken her to a safe distance; the four surviving Equinox crew
members are demoted to crewmen and stay on Voyager.
Ransom vs. nucleogenic aliens, Janeway vs. Ransom, Chakotay vs. Janeway, Burke vs. Ransom, evil Doctor vs. good Doctor, good Doctor vs. Seven. The story features multiple, maybe already too many conflicts. Anyway, this keeps the two parts of the episode thrilling for the complete 88 minutes. One of the key questions is what Janeway would have done in Ransom's place. If we don't count "Year of Hell" for obvious reasons, Voyager was never really as desperate as the Equinox has been for five years. Although there is definitely no excuse for Ransom's actions, could the judgment be more lenient upon further examination of the case? The flashback, when the first alien was inadvertently killed, had a close take of Ransom's face, and he looked really sorry. I took this as a first sign that he would finally change his mind. As for his crew, I don't understand why they always follow him blindly. I agree that their common destiny would likely lead to the tight combination of loyalty and familiarity shown among the Equinox crew, the crew calling their captain "Rudy" - I wonder when Tom will begin to call his captain "Kathy" ;-). Nevertheless, I would have expected Lessing (the black man in blue uniform) or Gilmore (the sympathetic blonde) who obviously had doubts to give up their loyalty rather sooner than later.
Interestingly, the main difference between Janeway and Ransom cannot be simply explained with Janeway being more of an explorer, for this would rather apply to the exobiologist Ransom. The real point is that Janeway always wants to do the right thing, complying with everyone's welfare, the Prime Directive (she sounded quite proud when she said she had never broken it, although we all know it must have been a lie) and, last but not least, the canon of her personal likes and dislikes. It is almost as if she bothers how she will be judged by history. Ransom, on the other hand, has very practical short-term goals, and his actions are accordingly short-sighted. Nevertheless, Janeway acts very emotionally and illogically too. The culmination point is definitely Janeway's interrogation of Lessing of the "enemy crew". What the hell is Janeway thinking when exposing the poor guy to the deadly aliens? Aside from breaking about every Starfleet regulation she is allegedly so proud of, is it moral to kill someone for whatever useful purpose? I'm quite sure that Lessing wouldn't have survived if Chakotay hadn't stopped her. This episode may have had the worst spirit of the whole series. I might give "Equinox" higher marks, but some of Star Trek's most valuable assets almost go down the drain.
Moreover, the scientific and technical plausibility of "Equinox" is awful. It is anything but credible that the alien bodies would be suited to increase the ship's power, let alone its speed. It is definitely the worst idea for a "drive-of-the-week". What is so special about the "nucleogenic" antimatter, making it more powerful than "normal" antimatter? If the aliens really emit antimatter, how can they exist in our matter universe at all? If the shown remains of one alien ("ten isograms") can enhance the Equinox's warp drive (maximum speed: Warp 8) by merely "0.03% for one month", how could they ever have traveled the mentioned 10,000ly distance which was obviously necessary to catch up with Voyager? Even if they had been using millions of aliens at a time to accomplish this, how could the power systems and nacelles of the Equinox have sustained the enormous power increase? Another question: What does the Ankari vessel do 10,000ly from their territory, but only 2ly from the Equinox? Wouldn't it have been worth a try to acquire their propulsion technology? I have also a problem with the fact that the Doctor behaves just like his "evil twin" after his ethical subroutines have been removed. If he is really that evolved, his loyalty, friendships and feelings should consist of much more than just a few certain lines in his original program that can be quickly deactivated. So many problems, so few reasonable answers.
Remarkable quote: "Seven's cranial infrastructure is highly complex. You'll need months just to figure out what she had for breakfast." (Doctor)
Remarkable dialogues: "You know, Janeway's not the only Captain who can help you explore your humanity." - "You would be an inferior role model." (Ransom and Seven), "Borg, Hirogen, Malon, we've run into our share of bad guys. Ransom's no different." - "Yes, he is. You said it yourself. He's human." (Janeway and Chakotay)
Remarkable nickname: "BLT" aka "Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato" aka B'Elanna L. Torres
Remarkable species: Species 6291, Iridians, a species that was thought to be extinct by both the Federation and the Borg until Ransom made first contact with them. Obviously, these can't be the familar Yridians.
Remarkable ship: The Equinox is a Nova-class vessel, built for short-term planetary research.
Crew losses: 3 (Voyager only)
Photon torpedoes used: 7 (at the very least)
Missed opportunity to get home: #13, although it would have been ethically incorrect