Kathryn Janeway -
Tom Paris -
Robert Duncan McNiell
B'Elanna Torres -
Roxann Biggs Dawson
Harry Kim -
The Doctor -
OTHER STAR TREK SHOWS
The Next Generation
Deep Space Nine
OTHER TREKS THROUGH SPACE
The new Battlestar Galactica
Caretaker - Parts 1 & 2
The USS Voyager is given the task of bringing in Maquis freedom fighter ships from the area of spatial storms known as the Badlands. Chasing one particular ship, they find themselves transported across countless reaches of space into the Delta Quadrant. The being who brought them to this place is known as the Caretaker and it has been taking ships from all over the galaxy looking for a replacement for himself in the machine that protects one race of beings from another, far more powerful and warlike one. Janeway must make decisions that will help the ship survive and set it on a voyage that will return it to the Alpha Quadrant and Earth, but not for years.
A new ship, a new captain,a new crew and a contrived story that is cobbled together for the sole purpose of gathering together the new crew and stranding them a long way from home. This is a way of bringing conflict into the story with Federation crewmen having to coexist with undisciplined freedom fighters and all of them having to face danger in a place where they can't just nip to the nearest starbase to stock up on photon torpedoes.
Your reaction to the show will depend upon your reaction to the crew (as ever) and things aren't initially promising. Kate Mulgrew makes for a different captain, strong enough when she has to be, but with a softer edge as a woman. Her tattooed first officer Chakotay is played by the reliable Robert Beltran, but isn't that much of a strong character. There's a vulcan in the shape of Tuvok, basically Spock and nothing more, a half-klingon engineer with a temper, a rogue pilot who has to be sourced out of a prison, a raw recruit, a strange but friendly alien and his cute protege-cum-girlfriend (that relationship's a bit iffy) and a pompous holographic doctor. Not the most promising bunch, but it's early days yet and they may yet grow on us.
They will have to come up with better plots, however, if they are to continue to go boldly for very long. This one is long (it's a two parter shown as a feature pilot here), drawn out and really rather dull. Things need to pick up if we're going to be willing to voyage with VOYAGER for long.Top
The Voyager encounters a type 4 singularity (a star that has collapsed to a tiny point) which has a ship trapped beyond its event horizon (the point beyond which nothing can escape its grip). Voyager's crew make several attempts to rescue the ship until they determine that the ship is, in fact, Voyager and that it is actually they themselves that have passed beyond the event horizon. How much scientific gobbledygook can you fit into one sci-fi script? This certainly tries to find out. At one point it even resorts to having annoying alien Neelix explain some of it to Kes in case the audience are having problems following it.
The human thrust of the story is the continuing integration of the two crews. Half-klingon B'Elanna Torres is being considered for the vacant post of Chief Engineer. She is the better engineer, but has all the self restraint of a snapped elastic band. This problem allows her the chance to prove her worth. It also gives Janeway and Chakotay a couple of scenes of disagreement to play with. Sadly, none of this is really convincing and there is no real sense of threat or tension.
This kind of story was done to death in the next generation and Voyager is going to have to come up with something more if it is to measure up to the rest of the Star Trek canon.Top
Time And Again
Episode 3 and already Captain Janeway is playing fast and loose with the Prime Directive. Investigating a powerful shockwave, the Voyager discovers a dead planet. The force of the blast has opened rips in time through which Paris and Janeway fall. They find themselves on the planet just one day before it is due to go bang. They must find a way back, but can they sit back and allow the annihilation of a whole planet? More disturbingly, could they have been responsible for causing it.
Voyager's first time travel tale and one that can't get around its paradox problems and so does the obvious thing and ignores them. Paris and Janeway caused the explosion that eventually sends them back to stop it, but by stopping it they never go back in time to cause it in the first place.
We are starting to get to know the characters, but few of them are standing out like those in the previous Star Trek shows. They are going to have to work hard to overcome that. In the next generation, this would have been a minor episode. The weaker characters need stronger plots, but then the early seasons of TNG and Deep Space Nine suffered similar issues.Top
Whilst looking for dilithium deposits inside a remote asteroid, Neelix is attacked and his lungs removed. Stabilised in Sickbay, he faces a life confined to a bed unable to move any limb unless Janeway and the crew can locate the beings that stole his lungs and get them back. The first proves to be a lot easier than the second.
Organ theft provides a meaty (pun intended) subject for this episode. When the reason for the theft is revealed, Janeway is faced with the option of killing an alien or letting her own crewman die. This is the kind of subject that science fiction can tackle so well and makes for a strong episode, even if there are a lot of standard problems to be overcome by technology first and a resolution that is pretty weak, not least because surely the Doctor could have done the same himself.
Janeway's first moral dilemma and it's a good one. The problem is that she is so sympathetic a character that you are never in any doubt as to what the outcome of her deliberations are going to be. This episode shows promise, at last.Top
A nebula proves to have an abundance of omicron particles that could end the ship's power shortage. A barrier stands in the Voyager's way, but it easily breaks through. Breaking back out, however, proves to be a harder proposition and they come under attack from all sides. Once escape has been effected, it becomes clear that the barrier was the edge of a lifeform, a lifeform that they have injured by their actions.
Oh dear. One episode after promising to get better, we're back to square one again. The characters continue to develop nicely, but everything else is straight out of the modern STAR TREK mould. The story is hackneyed and anybody who doesn't get that the cloud is a lifeform at least half an hour before the crew manages to work it out can hand in their sci-fi fan credentials at the door.Top
Eye of the Needle
Harry Kim discovers a wormhole back to the Alpha Quadrant, but one that is too small for the Voyager to fit through and which is shrinking all the time. It is, however, small enough to get a message through in the hope that someone will pick it up. They do, but the recipient turns out to be a Romulan on a secret espionage mission and in their past. Then, they find a way to get a transporter beam through.
A whole episode based on the need to communicate and trust one another. Since the death of Gene Roddenberry the peace agenda of STAR TREK has been less prevalent, but I am sure that he would have appreciated this one. Sadly, though, it doesn't make for the most riveting television and the most dramatic thing that happens is two ship captains talking to each other.Top
Ex Post Facto
Tom Paris gets himself into trouble on an alien planet and ends up convicted of murder. The penalty on this planet is to relive the last minutes of the victim's memories over and over again. The technology that does this is not completely compatible with human physiology and is slowly destroying his brain. Can Tuvok uncover what really happened and prove his innocence before he is irretrievably brain damaged?
Tom Paris was supposed to be the bad boy of the crew (he was found in the stockade after all), but has appeared to be a model officer so far. This is the first sign of any flaw. He is attracted to the wife of their host and there is every chance that he acted on it, but murder? This story shows VOYAGER's lack of originality as events are similar to those that befell the NEX GENERATION'd Will Riker, but without the brain implants. Apart from that, it is a less than riveting whodunnit story that we could quite frankly have done without.Top
Whilst investigating an asteroid, the away team discover what appears to be an alien burial ground. A subspace bubble suddenly starts forming and they transport back, but Harry Kim's place has been taken by a dead alien. Revived, she explains that she has come to the afterlife and is not overly impressed to find that it is the asteroid. In another dimension, Harry realises that the only way to get back to Voyager is to die and pass through the warp bubble again and hope that he can be revived by the Doctor.
Musings on death and what lies beyond. An ambitious agenda that provides food for thought, but not a lot of scope for rip-roaring excitement.Top
When an alien race offers hospitality and shore leave for the crew, Janeway readily accepts. What they don't offer, however, is their exceptional technology for folding space, a system that could take Voyager home in short order. The race, however, have a prime directive of their own that forbids them to give their technology to others. B'Elanna Torres and others find some amongst the aliens who are willing to sneak out the technology, but the captain refuses on moral grounds. They go ahead anyway with surprising help from Tuvok. The technology, however, is not compatible with Federation equipment.
It is a fun turnaround to see a starship captain on the receiving end of a prime directive not their own. So many times, ship captains have followed blindly or ignored completely the prime directive as they see fit. It was about time that they found out what if felt like to have it used against them.Top
State of Flux
An explosion on a Kazon ship brings the Voyager to the rescue. They discover that the blast was caused by Federation technology which raises the question of how it got there and the even more unpalatable answer that someone in the crew gave it to them. As the Kazon were just about the first enemies that the Voyager made in the Quadrant, that is pretty much treason and the race is on to find the traitor in the ranks.
This is an interesting episode, upsetting as it does once again the image of a happy Federation crew. There is more tension in the Voyager crew than any of the others and a traitor in the ranks is an interesting concept. The plot itself plays out in fairly straightforward fashion, but it has more life and animation than some of the other episodes so far.Top
Heroes and Demons
Photonic energy is detected in a protostar and samples are beamed onboard for study. This takes a secondary role when the holodeck malfunctions and Harry Kim disappears inside it. Chakotay and Tuvok discover that he was running a program based on the Beowulf story before they too disappear. The only crewmember who can get the readings required to find out what is going on is the Doctor, much to his dismay.
The Emergency Medical Hologram, or Doctor, is one of the most entertaining characters on board the ship and certainly far more fun that the supposed comic relief of Neelix. This is his first major mission and it makes for the most fun episode yet. His encounters with the holographic warrior Freya (looking not at all like a convincing valkyrie, I have to say) are quite delightful and raise the episode above the level of the rest of the series. Maybe he should be given a show all of his own.Top
Strange encounters leave Chakotay braindead and the rest of the crew acting strangely out of character. It soon becomes clear that the answers lie inside a dark nebula and the ship sets off, but the senior officers start sabotaging the mission with no memory of it. An alien capable of jumping from one crewman to the next makes it hard to trust and even harder to complete the mission.
'Fear is the mind-killer' a famous sci-fi writer once scribbled. Paranoia is the trust killer and this episode has all the crew on edge with each other, not knowing who to trust or, for quite a long time, exactly what is going on. It all gets resolved in pretty standard fashion, but there is an edginess to the situation that makes it pleasingly different.Top
The Vidiians, the aliens suffering from the Phage virus, believe that B’Elanna Torres' klingon physiology might be resistant to the disease and so take her, Paris and another officer prisoner. Whilst Paris labours in the mines, the Vidiian head scientist carries out an experiment that splits Torres into two people, one completely human and one completely klingon. He then infects the klingon with the Phage.
Splitting people into conflicting sides of their personalities is hardly a new one in screen science fiction, but at least there is a reasoning here to be followed. Instead of the usual 'good' and 'evil' sides in conflict this is a slightly more subtle battle of racial heritages. Only slightly more subtle, however, this being VOYAGER.
It is nice to see Roxann Biggs-Dawson without her klingon ridges, but that doesn't improve her performance to any great degree and when the reset button is pressed at the end it doesn't come as any great surprise.Top
A shuttlecraft approaches Voyager with a request to speak privately with Neelix. When it is revealed that the occupant is one Dr Jetrel, Neelix declares him to be a war criminal and mass-murderer of not just his race, but his family. Jetrel, though, appears to have found a way to reverse the effects of the weapon that he invented and only needs the help of Voyager's transporters to make it work.
If Oppenheimer could have foreseen the desolation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the lasting legacy of those, the only nuclear bombs used in anger, would he have continued to develop them? Could he have stopped it? This is a not very subtle allegory of the arguments for and against the use of the bombs that ended the war with Japan.
By its very nature, such a discussion carries some dramatic weight, but the annoying nature of Neelix's character and his insistence of making points by telling stories that have been clearly manufactured to serve the main plot detract from this. The addition of the fact that he hid from war service and believes himself to be a coward allows for some character development, but also overeggs the pudding somewhat.Top
Some of the Maquis survivors are having problems integrating into the Starfleet way of doing things on the stranded Voyager. Tuvok is given the job of training them in the protocols of a starship, but his methods of teaching seem to be uniformly unsuccessful. Only when the class is trapped in a cargo bay about to be filled with deadly plasma gas does he find a way to break through.
This is a reminder that the premise of the show included the added friction of having previous enemy (at best rival) crews sharing the same living and working space. There have been times when this has faded into the background, making the show just like the usual 'new planet, new race, new problem' of STAR TREK or THE NEXT GENERATION.
Unfortunately, it confronts the differences between the crews in such a hackneyed and dull way and with such an obvious resolution that the audience can't help but be thankful that the first season is now out of the way and perhaps the time before any further adventures of the starship Voyager can be used to find more interesting stories to tell and new ways be found to make the characters more interesting.
There is potential here, but the show has to decide whether it wants to go for the DEEP SPACE NINE edginess or for the more conventional stuff because right now it's falling between the two and satisfying nobody.Top
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