In the Summer of 1998, writer/producer Brannon Braga voiced the writing staff’s intention to “push the envelope” of alien encounters in S5. Braga was also exerting more control over the show, but Rick Berman (who didn’t start as a writer- his background was as a studio exec) held more power. Berman would be pulling the reins back (as many long-time ST fans noted) when stories didn’t gel w/ his vision. Braga and (frequent writing partner) Joe Menosky were trying to take risks; they’re good at character development (but maybe not big on continuity). Menosky wrote the teleplays for 7 eps of TNG: The Chase, Darmok, Time’s Arrow (Pts. I & II), The Nth Degree, First Contact, and Clues. There are unique eps in this season, incl. E12: Bride of Chaotica! (shot in B&W), which is part of Lt. Tom Paris’ Captain Proton holodeck program. Later in the season, there is E23: 11:59 (a twist on a holiday story) set in 2000. I think S5 is worth seeing.
Season 5: Selected Episodes
Episode 1: Night
There are no stars, no planets, no light- just the ship out alone for 2 mos. w/ no expectations for encountering another star system for another 2 yrs. “Every sailor’s worst nightmare,” Chakotay (Robert Beltran) comments ominously. Monotony hits the crew hard until a an alien race (that lives in darkness) attacks, mistaking Voyager as an ally of a poisonous garbage freighter run by another race (the Malon). The teleplay was written by Braga and Menosky. The director was David Livingston; he uses some (new to the series) shots, which made the show seem fresh.
The psychological aspects of the ep are quite interesting. An early shot of the ship is eerie, w/ no stars visible anywhere, and the only light coming from Voyager itself. Chakotay’s on the bridge, but we don’t see Capt. Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). The staff meeting is also run by Chakotay (not Janeway). When senior officers ask about her, Chakotay responds: “The captain sends her regards.” The captain is holed up in her quarters, racked w/ guilt. Chakotay says: “You’ve picked a bad time to isolate yourself from the crew.” Janeway has always been one who maintains confidence in the decisions she makes. Some fans/critics thought that shutting herself away was implausible (and out of character).
This is a good ensemble ep, as all of the main cast get something to do. Lt. Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil) and Lt. B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) fight over the smallest matters. Neelix (Ethan Phillips) gets severe panic attacks. Tuvok (Tim Russ) goes to meditate in Astrometrics, which surprised Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). He even makes a pun (haha), saying “the view from my window has been less than stellar lately.” Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) composes a morose song on his clarinet- Echoes of the Void. Chakotay is holding things together, but even he looks tense and worried.
…there’s also the new “Captain Proton” holonovel- Paris’ fantasy program that pays homage to those cheap 1940s sci-fi serials. It’s a scream. (Besides, how can you not like a holodeck program that’s offered in black-and-white?)
…manages both to entertain and to frustrate. The teaser and first act are wonderfully engaging, but then the show slowly descends into reasonable action and ultimately resigns itself to shallow solutions, which is a shame. Within this episode I see elements that could turn out to be the beginnings of some very good trends, but I also see some of the same old pratfalls and the series’ general refusal to tell a story requiring any length of an attention span.
-Excerpt from Jammer’s Reviews
Episode 2: Drone
[Torres is concerned with the drone’s development]
Neelix: It will become what we help it to become.
B’Elanna: [mocking] Mm! How Starfleet of you!
Voyager investigates the birth of a nebula. Unfortunately, its intense blast wave catches an away mission shuttle, causing emergency beam-out transporter signals to fuse The Doctor’s mobile emitter w/ Seven’s nanoprobes. The mobile emitter later starts assimilating a science lab and extracts DNA from Ensign Mulcahy to create a new Borg drone built upon the emitter’s 29th c. technology! This teleplay was written by Bryan Fuller (who became a writer so he could work on a ST show), Braga, and Menosky. This ep will remind you of TNG: S5, E23 (I Borg), which was written by Rene Echevarria. As young writers, Braga, Echevarria, Ron Moore, and Naren Shankar (Moore’s college pal) worked on TNG.
One: Seven of Nine. Do you wish to rejoin the Collective?
Seven: Voyager is my Collective.
J. Paul Boehmer, who plays the Borg drone One, was the SS officer in The Killing Game, Parts I & II. One’s body armor has an unusual-looking composition, as well as tubing at the ribs, legs and shoulders that glows blue. Seven shows more of her humanity (feelings) as she cares for One (like a mother). The ending where One realizes his continued existence presents a danger to Voyager was very touching (get ready to cry). There is some fine acting and nice character moments here. Even Neelix (used in earlier seasons for comedy) has serious scenes where he makes One feel “at home.”
“Drone” opens with Seven looking into a mirror, practicing her smile. This is a wonderful scene. It works on the “cute” level, but there’s a lot going on under the surface. It’s quite clear that her smile is completely superficial. Seven doesn’t feel like smiling, and she can’t “feel” the smile when she makes it. It’s just there. And knowing that frustrates her. In 20 seconds, without a single line of dialog, “Drone” has already managed to say something interesting about Seven: She’s trying, but she’s just not there yet—and it may be quite some time before she is.
Episode 4: In the Flesh
Janeway: Directive 010: “Before engaging alien species in battle, any and all attempts to make first contact and achieve non-military resolution must be made.” In this case, we made first contact over a year ago and we barely got out of it alive. It seems to me a battle is inevitable, maybe even war. So why can’t I get that directive out of my mind?
The crew of Voyager discover a simulation of Starfleet Headquarters being run by Species 8472 (whoa)! With the aid of regular doses of drugs, Species 8472 are able to shape-shift into human form. It is up to Janeway to try to convince the aliens that Starfleet is not a threat to them. We see Boothby (Ray Walston- who appeared on TNG), Cmdr. Valerie Archer (Kate Vernon- later part of ensemble on Battlestar Galactica), and Adm. Bullock (Tucker Smallwood).
[Chakotay prepares to reenter the alien recreation of Starfleet Headquarters]
Tom: Do you always arm yourself before a first date?
Harry: You’ve never had a date with Species 8472.
Tom: Personally, I don’t go out with girls from other galaxies.
Harry: You’re a true explorer, Chakotay.
Tom: Is she cute?
Chakotay: In her human form, anyway.
Harry: I’ve always wondered what it would be like to date an alien.
Chakotay: I’ll take notes.
The teleplay was written by Nick Sagan, son of astronomer/author/educator Carl Sagan. The original script was based around the idea of Species 8472 visiting ancient Earth and inspiring legends of demons and devils. One scene would have been Janeway’s nightmare that Species 8472 are destroying Bloomington, IN (her hometown). Those ideas were rejected to cut the cost of visual effects, so Sagan came up with a Cold War parable, using past writings of his father as inspiration.
Though the long-time fans are divided on this, it’s a fun ep w/ the idealism we saw in TOS. It’s refreshing to see Earth (even if it’s not the real version). Some viewers were disappointed that Species 8472 turned out to be not as scary as expected. This is one of Beltran’s fave eps; he gets to go undercover and have a bit of romance.
Episode 6: Timeless
[Chakotay has second thoughts about using the new slipstream drive]
Janeway: I know it’s a risk. Probably our biggest one yet. But I’m willing to take it. Are you with me?
15 yrs. in the future, Harry Kim and Chakotay break Starfleet laws to change the past and prevent a catastrophe that grounds Voyager and kills the rest of her crew, all b/c Harry thought he figured out how to work slipstream drive. Starfleet authorities soon come breathing down their necks; Harry races to send a message back through time to stop himself. This is one of the most highly-rated , by both fans and critics. It was directed by LeVar Burton; he also has a brief cameo.
Seven of Nine: [staring at her hand] My visual processors and motor cortex – they’re malfunctioning.
The Doctor: Sounds like a problem with your cortical implant. We’d better have a look. [He tries to scan Seven with a tricorder, but she drifts off] Hold still.
Seven: I cannot comply.
The Doctor: You’re intoxicated!
The Doctor: Your blood synthehol level is .05 percent. How many glasses of champagne did you consume?
The Doctor: Obviously, the Borg can’t hold their liquor.
The (present) opening party scene in Engineering was to inaugurate the slipstream drive and to celebrate the series’ 100th ep. Some viewers were surprised that (future) Chakotay joined Harry in his plan; he seems like a man who’d have gone on w/ his life. The presence of his lover Tessa (Christine Harnos) on this illegal mission seemed odd to also go some viewers; she has no agenda beyond following Chakotay’s lead and listening to his concerns. Chakotay has doubts about what he is about to do, but I don’t think those doubts are developed enough.
“Timeless” is a confidently told tale of guilt. As we learn in the “present,” the crew’s attempt to get home with this experimental quantum slipstream drive is something that has been months in the making. […] Harry believes he has devised a solution—he says he can compensate for the flaw from the Delta Flyer, essentially leading the way for the Voyager crew—but this carries with it a substantial risk.
Garrett Wang, in one of his best performances to date, paints future Harry as guilt-ridden to the point of obsession. This is a changed man, both in ideology and attitude. Gone is the pleasant, youthful Ensign, and in his place is a weathered, sullen, impatient man who will do whatever it takes to give himself a second chance in the past. He has resigned from Starfleet and come up with a very illegal plan.
Episode 7: Infinite Regress
Seven of Nine begins to exhibit multiple personalities from a wide range of disparate species. The culprit? An ailing Borg “Vinculum” broadcasting a neural interlink frequency from the center of a debris field from an exploded Borg cube. As the crew try to dismantle it, Seven’s neutral pattern dissipates, allowing other personalities to take over. Tuvok steps in, just as an unfamiliar alien culture challenges Voyager for the Vinculum.
[Seven hands over star charts and sociological data for Naomi Wildman to study]
Seven: As Bridge Assistant, you will find this information relevant.
Naomi: Consider it assimilated.
This is an episode that could’ve come off as pedestrian, but thanks to the skilled David Livingston (one of my favorite Trek directors) it ends up being intriguing and at times fairly intense and haunting.
What’s causing Seven to experience “Borg multiple personality disorder,” you ask? The crew’s investigation leads it to the debris of a destroyed Borg vessel, where they find the Borg ship’s “vinculum” is still functioning. The vinculum suppresses individuality in Borg drones, regulating and organizing their thought patterns for maximum efficiency in the hive mind. …this vinculum is transmitting a signal that is causing Seven’s brain implants to malfunction and bring forward the repressed personalities of other individuals the Borg had assimilated. The crew must now shut down the vinculum in order to solve Seven’s problem.
This was a lighthearted ep (written by Jimmy Diggs) where Ryan gets to show a wider range of acting skills. While Seven plays a game with Naomi (and her personality is that of a little girl) we see the reflection of this little girl in the Kadis-kot game board. Among Seven’s personalities is a Krenim scientist, w/ whom Janeway has been debating “the finer points of temporal physics” (a callback to S4, E8-9: Year of Hell, Pts. I & II). When Seven emulates the son of K’Vok, she says to B’Elanna “You are a desirable woman” (in Klingon); this matches her body language and initiating a mating ritual.
[Torres reacts warily when seeing Seven in Engineering]
Seven: Don’t worry, Lieutenant; the son of K’Vok will not be joining us.
B’Elanna: Glad to hear it. Does this qualify as our second date?
The Doctor: Just think of me as your chaperone.
Episode 8: Nothing Human
Ensign Tabor: Crell Moset killed thousands of people in his hospitals. As long as we’re willing to benefit from his research, we’re no better than he is.
An injured cytoplasmic alien attaches itself to Lt. B’Lanna Torres, using her body to assist it’s injured body. The Doctor calls up a holographic recreation of a Cardassian exobiologist, Dr. Crell Moset (David Clennon), to consult. B’Elanna refuses treatment when it’s discovered that the real Moset was guilty of war crimes for tortuous experiments resulting in thousands of Bajoran deaths. This is the final series ep written by co-creator Jeri Taylor.
Dr. Crell Moset: How do you suppose your own database was developed? Hm? My God, half the medical knowledge acquired on Earth came through experiments on lower animals.
The Doctor: But not people!
Dr. Crell Moset: It’s convenient to draw a line between higher and lower species, isn’t it?
Outside of DS9, the only eps in which events surrounding the Bajoran Occupation played a major role were TNG: Ensign Ro and this one. Picardo loved dhe opportunity to work w/ Clennon (his good friend). Moset is based on Josef Mengele, the Nazi scientist who performed brutal medical experiments on human “guinea pigs” deemed “inferior” and not worthy of life (according to Nazi creed).
The real issue here is whether or not medical knowledge obtained through inhumane methods is morally right to use to benefit another. On more than one occasion, “Nothing Human” does a reasonably good job at tackling this question. There are several interesting arguments between Doc and Krell about ethics (leading to Krell’s most intriguingly troubling line, “Ethics are arbitrary”). But the problem is, by putting so much ambiguity in the nature of Krell, the story often doesn’t seem to know whether the other characters object to the idea of using his knowledge, or if they simply object to the idea of Krell himself.
What if Krell’s medical database had been downloaded into a hologram of a Starfleet doctor? The answer: No one would have given it a second thought.
Episode 10: Counterpoint
Kashyk: Captain, do you trust me?
Janeway: Not for a second.
Kashyk: Exactly! And why should you? Trust has to be earned. It’s gradual, and yet it’s the foundation of every relationship, professional and personal. It’s also a concept alien to the telepathic races. Why take someone at their word when you can simply read their mind?
Voyager is traveling through a vast sector of space controlled by a powerful alien race (the Devore) which is deeply suspicious of telepathic lifeforms. The presence of Tuvok, Ensign Vorik, and a dozen telepathic refugees (the Brenari) force the crew to conceal them in order to pass through safely. The group is held in suspension inside the transporter, so that they disappear during inspections! After the third inspection, Voyager is approached by a scout ship carrying only the chief Devore inspector, Kashyk (Mark Harelik). He knows that Janeway has telepaths on board and how she is hiding them. But now, Kashyk isn’t trying to catch them, as he wants to defect! The teleplay was written by Michael Taylor; he wrote 13 eps of the show. Taylor’s episode (The Visitor) on DS9 ranks as one of the most popular of that series. He started out as a freelancer, then went on to work on some high quality shows, incl. Battlestar Galactica, TURN: Washington Spies, and Into the Badlands.
Janeway: You’ll have your own quarters but limited access to Voyager’s systems, and your whereabouts will be monitored at all times.
Kashyk: I’m used to being surrounded by armed guards. Makes me feel secure.
Janeway: Only this time, they answer to me. Consider them a reminder that Voyager is my ship.
Kashyk: I don’t think anyone could doubt that.
Mulgrew objected (early on in the show) to romance w/ any of the men on the Voyager crew (incl. Paris and Chakotay); the producers were trying to push that for Janeway. Fans (no doubt) also noticed the chemistry between Mulgrew and Beltran (esp. in the first two seasons). We learned in Hunters (S4 , E5) that Janeway’s former fiance, Mark, moved on w/ his life and got married to his co-worker. A good time has passed, so Mulgrew suggested a romance, even recommending Harelik (primarily a theater actor) as the love interest.
The relationship here reminded me somewhat of the one between the female Romulan commander and Spock in The Enterprise Incident (TOS: S3, E2). Spock deceived the Romulan commander to get the cloaking device (as that was his job as First Officer), but they shared mutual admiration, respect, and attraction. Spock admits to her finally: “Military secrets are the most fleeting of all. I hope that you and I… exchanged something more permanent.”
[Janeway has been deceived earlier by Inspector Kashyk]
Kashyk: You created false readings.
Janeway: That is the theme for this evening, isn’t it?
Deceit is the name of the game. The game is the whole point… …it works because it ultimately makes for an enjoyable Janeway feature. It deftly reveals her human weaknesses and emotional vulnerabilities while at the same time showing her ability to remain a focused, resourceful, sensible, and intelligent captain.
An early scene starts off with Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, a digression from the usual background music of Trek… We hear an example of “counterpoint”: counter-melodies playing against one another.
…Captain Janeway and Inspector Kashyk are counterpoints themselves, two leaders who play against each other – not through phasers but through wits. Their tension occurs on multiple levels: sexuality, trust, and power. In the end, Kashyk is revealed to be untrustworthy after all, so they are destined to remain rival counterpoints.
– Excerpt from IMDB review
Episode 11: Latent Image
The Doctor uncovers evidence his memory was erased 18 mos. ago. Nearly all traces of a crewman and an away mission were erased by Janeway! Confronted by The Doctor’s need for answers and Seven of Nine’s perspective on the rights of a hologram, Janeway restores the fatal truth about Ensign Jetal, The Doctor’s choice that led to her death, and his resulting breakdown.
Seven: When you separated me from the Collective, I was an unknown risk to your crew. Yet you kept me on board. You allowed me to evolve into an individual.
Janeway: You’re a human being. He’s a hologram.
Seven: And you allowed that hologram to evolve as well, to exceed his original programming. And yet, now you choose to abandon him.
Janeway: Objection noted. Good night.
Seven: It is unsettling. You say that I am a human being, and yet I am also Borg – part of me not unlike your replicator. Not unlike the Doctor. Will you one day choose to abandon me as well? I have always looked to you as my example, my guide to humanity. Perhaps I’ve been mistaken.
Robert Picardo gets an opportunity to show off a greater acting range as the Doctor starts to get understandably paranoid and break down. It also gave Kate Mulgrew an opportunity to portray her character in a slightly less favorable light than usual. …Scarlett Pomers was delightful as Naomi Wildman; the most realistic child in any Star Trek series.
-Excerpt from IMDB review
Episodes 15 & 16: Dark Frontier
In the 1st hour of this telefilm (which originally aired during FEB “Sweeps Week”), members of the Voyager crew train on the holodeck for a raid on a Borg ship to steal the trans-warp coil (in hopes of integrating the ship). The Borg seem to be one step ahead when the Borg Queen (Susanna Thompson) communicates w/ Seven. In flashbacks, the USS Raven is carrying a crew w/ only Magnus Hansen (Kirk Baily), his wife Erin (Laura Interval), and their very young daughter, Annika (Katelin Petersen).
In the 2nd hour, Janeway is won’t give up on her crewmate/friend 2 yrs. after being liberated from the Collective, Seven rejoins the Borg, seemingly of her own will. When Janeway finds a history of transmissions from the Borg to Seven, she is convinced that Seven was lured back against her wishes. Aboard the Borg sphere, the Borg Queen attempts to seduce Seven into helping her assimilate Earth.
The Doctor: [on the Borg research of Seven’s parents] This is an important stage of your social development, Seven. Try not to think of it as simply a research project but as an exploration of how you were raised.
Seven of Nine: My parents underestimated the Collective. They were destroyed. Because of their arrogance, I was raised by Borg.
Janeway [to a worried Naomi after Seven leaves Voyager]: 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.
Seven (at Janeway’s request) reads her parents’ data logs; she’d been avoiding bad memories (from her life before being assimilated). Braga and Menosky (who wrote the teleplay) invent a backstory where the Hansens are rogue scientists on a mission to find the mysterious Borg. They became obsessed w/ this idea, disregarded orders and warnings from colleagues, and traveled alone (eventually to the Delta Quadrant)! They even boarded the cube and kidnapped sleeping drones from their regeneration alcoves to study them (whoa)! I wondered WTF kind of irresponsible parents are these!? After 3 yrs, they get too cocky, run out of luck, and are assimilated. There is a fine scene where Seven asks Janeway to allow her to stay on the mission, even though she has been distracted lately by her emotions. Seven knows something; she is ready to sacrifice herself for the crew.
If “Dark Frontier” was trying to get my attention with pure cinematic audacity, it worked. The episode wastes no time in coming out big and bold, showing off production values in an entertainingly effective way. …David Bell’s score comes out stronger than music is normally ever permitted to be on Trek episodes…
…I’d like to comment on a character whose actions have long been controversial and inconsistently written. I find myself reminded of second season’s “Alliances.” At the end of that episode, the writers alleged that, in light of being stuck in the chaotic Delta Quadrant surrounded by brutal opportunistic enemies, Janeway’s course of adjustment would simply be to maintain Federation morals… I found that attitude to be shallow, naive, and dramatically limiting.
Over the years of Voyager’s uneasy run, that attitude has been changed. Now we have a Janeway that, while still maintaining diplomacy and a sense of morality, will go further to protect her crew and get them home more quickly.
Episode 18: Course: Oblivion
[Seven catches the wedding bouquet]
The Doctor: Congratulations.
Seven: For what?
Tuvok: You may not want to know.
Paris and Torres get married, the enhanced warp drive is up and running, Voyager could travel home in about 2 yrs (wow)! The honeymoon is put on hold when the molecular cohesion of the ship and its crew starts breaking down. When Torres suddenly dies, Tuvok and Chakotay realize that they aren’t the original crew; they’re the silver-blood copies left behind on the “Demon Class” planet 10 mos. ago (S4, E24: Demon)! As others die, Chakotay tries to convince Janeway to return to that planet, reminding her that Earth isn’t their home.
Janeway: The way I choose to look at it is this: if everything about us was duplicated, that includes our memory engrams, the emotional centers of our brain. So if you feel something, remember something, believe something – I’m not about to tell you it’s not real.
The first clue that this in fact isn’t the real Voyager and crew is that Tom holds the rank of Lt. Jr. Grade (w/ one light pip and one dark on his collar); he was demoted to Ensign in S5 E9: Thirty Days (w/ only one light pip). Another clue is that the copies of Tuvok and Chakotay mention encounters w/ the Kmada and the N’Kree (aliens which Voyager never met). Some long-time fans pointed out that Janeway and Chakotay are more friendly (touchy-feely) in the copied ship; I noticed this on my 2nd watch. Somehow the copies were able to adapt to a different atmosphere than the one found on their Class Y planet; in Demon they suffocated in a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere. (Get ready to cry, like you did for Drone)!
 There’s a lot of tension in this episode, both from the fact that anyone can die (including series regulars) and the conflict between the crew. This was still the era when they were having fun exploring the Chakotay/ Janeway relationship and there’s some real pathos after their divide becomes irrevocable.
 What is important is that you see good people, who try so hard, make some right decisions and some wrong decisions, and fail. This crew trades for a better warp engine that puts them far ahead of the real ship. This Tom Paris has the guts to marry B’Ellana Torres. Janeway is a starship captain, whether mimetic or made of flesh and blood, and her mission is to go back to Earth.
 It’s interesting that the writers would give their audience, so used to tidy, happy endings, such a bleak one this time. We saw an entire race wiped out of existence in this episode, with absolutely nothing of themselves and their accomplishments left behind. Janeway was right when she told her crew that they deserved to be remembered, even if they were copies. This episode wants us to be uncomfortable with the ending.
-Excerpts from IMDB reviews
Episode 22: Someone to Watch Over Me
The Doctor: [Another of the Doctor’s dating lessons, said to a preoccupied Seven] The key to finding a compatible partner is learning how to share your interests and goals. We’ll start with hobbies.
[speaking as if a potential suitor] What do you do with your spare time?
The Doctor: Uh-huh. Tell me about you tastes, your likes and dislikes.
Seven: I dislike irrelevant conversations.
The Doctor: Okaaay, which brings us to “goals.” What do you want out of life?
Taking Janeway’s advice to try dating, Seven undergoes lessons from The Doctor. The story is a twist on a My Fair Lady set in space. Tom Paris places a wager on Seven’s performance at an upcoming reception. The Doctor finds himself falling for his student. Also, Neelix shows a visiting ambassador, Tomin (Scott Thompson- a comedian), around the ship. This is both a funny, clever, and touching ep written by Michael Taylor; it was directed by McNeil.
Steven Price (a hologram in Sandrine’s Bar): Curious jewelry.
Seven: It’s a Borg implant. I was a drone.
Steven Price: Oh, so then it’s a family heirloom.
Seven of Nine: Borg do not have families. They have unimatrices.
Picardo and Ryan did some of their own singing, incl. the duet “You Are My Sunshine.” The dances were choreographed by Laura Behr, wife of DS9 writer/showrunner Ira Steven Behr. I was a bit surprised that Seven (boldly) asked out Lt. Chapman (Brian McNamara), who is nervous around women (according to Tom). During their date, Seven refuses champagne (since synthehol affects her cortical functions); we learned this in Timeless. They order lobster- quite rare for a first date nowadays (LOL)!
In the B-plot, Neelix plays host to Tomin, who comes from a very conservative planet. Meanwhile, his leader and Janeway go down to their planet. On the ship, Tomin wants to cut loose: eating spicy food, drinking at Sandrine’s, and meeting alien women. He gets drunk and hits on Seven (who is not amused)!
As odd as it may seem, this episode in some ways epitomizes what Star Trek is all about. Not the vast philosophical concerns or mysteries of time and space, but the interaction between and among those holding unique perspectives of the universe.
So, how does this episode come to epitomize Star Trek? For its utter compassion, empathy and …well… sweetness. There is a tenderness to it that exists very much at the core of the “mission”. Understanding. Compassion. Peaceful co-existence. And, more than anything, Mutual Respect.
-Excerpt from IMDB review
Episode 24: Relativity
Seven: [describing a causality loop] The Borg once traveled back in time to stop Zephram Cochrane from breaking the warp barrier. They succeeded, but that in turn led the Enterprise to intervene. They assisted Cochrane with the flight the Borg were trying to prevent. Causal loop complete.
Lt. Ducane: So, in a way, the Federation owes its existence to the Borg.
Seven: You’re welcome.
When Voyager is destroyed, Capt. Braxton of the 29th c. time-ship Relativity contacts Seven to travel back in time and discover who planted the temporal disrupter, which she must do w/o being discovered by the past Janeway. The events of Star Trek: First Contact are used as an example for the causality loop (AKA the “Pogo Paradox”). The two incidents Janeway will cause are call-backs to previous eps: Braxton being trapped on 20th c. Earth for 20 yrs. (Future’s End, Pts. I & II) and the Temporal Inversion in the Takara Sector (Timeless). The teleplay was written by Bryan Fuller, Nick Sagan, and Michael Taylor. This is listed as one of the “Ten Essential Episodes” of the show in Star Trek 101 by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.
Capt. Braxton: We have a saying in our line of work: There’s no time like the past.
The Pogo Paradox is named for a comic strip syndicated to US newspapers (1948-1975). Pogo was created, written/drawn by Walt Kelly, who coined the phrase “We have met the enemy and he is us” in a 1970 strip. This is the first and only ep to feature the actual Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards. Bruce McGill (who plays Capt. Braxton) was the mischievous BFF (Jack Dalton) on MacGyver. The bridge of the Relativity was a redress of the USS Enterprise-E bridge (seen in First Contact). We (finally) see Seven wearing a Starfleet uniform! Lt. Joe Carey (Josh Clark) appears for the first time since S1; he was replaced as Chief Engineer when B’Elanna was promoted.
 This was a good episode and while it isn’t too easy to explain the multi-time line plot, it makes sense when one watches it. It was nice to see Seven in a standard Star Fleet uniform when she goes time travelling…
 The show is good but it’s made a bit better because it has a nice sense of humor and never takes itself very seriously.
 Relativity is a fast-paced, mind-bending, roller-coaster ride time travel story and stands out as one of the most intriguing, fun episodes.
 One of my favorite scenes is near the end of the episode and is extremely subtle, as the present-time Janeway is hiding from past-self Janeway, the camera shows a close up of her face, where she shakes her head in confusion at the paradox. If you blink you would miss it. I do not know if this was scripted or was an ad lib by Kate Mulgrew; either way it made me smile.
-Excerpts from IMDB reviews
Episode 26: Equinox, Part I
Chakotay: [finding one of the Equinox’s crew huddling under debris] I’m Commander Chakotay, USS Voyager.
Ensign Marla Gilmore: But we’re the only humans in the Delta Quadrant.
Chakotay: That’s what we used to think.
[Seven calms a crewman while Harry cuts away heavy debris covering his legs]
Seven of Nine: Do not be frightened.
Crewman Noah Lessing: Too late for that.
The premise resembles S1 (when survival in the Delta Quadrant was a serious question). Voyager encounters Equinox, which is another Federation starship trapped in the Delta Quadrant (wow)! Equinox is heavily damaged and running w/ “skeleton” crew. Happy to have found each other, Voyager assists Equinox w/ repairs and the crews get to know each other. Equinox has been stranded in the Delta Quadrant for about 4-5 yrs. after having been (like Voyager) flung across the galaxy by the Caretaker. Equinox wasn’t designed for “long-range tactical missions” (it’s a small science vessel). Capt. Rudy Ransom (John Savage) says that there were many casualties their 1st week in the Delta Quadrant; he lost half of his crew.
Janeway: I couldn’t help but notice, your crew calls you by your first name.
Ransom: When you’ve been in the trenches as long as we have, rank and protocol are luxuries. Besides, we’re a long way from Starfleet Command.
Janeway: I know the feeling.
Ransom: You seem to run a pretty tight ship.
Janeway: We’ve been known to let our hair down from time to time, but I find that maintaining protocol reminds us of where we came from, and hopefully where we’re going.
Equinox has been fighting off a (non-humanoid) alien race from another realm which has been periodically attacking. Voyager is now about 35,000 light years away from the Alpha Quadrant. Unlike most eps, there are 4 new guest actors w/ speaking parts. Lt. Cmdr. Maxwell Burke (a young-ish Titus Welliver- a prolific character actor), is the ex-bf of B’Elanna from their Academy days. Ensign Marla Gilmore (Olivia Birkelund) opens up to Chakotay; she suffers from claustrophobia and PTSD. Crewman Noah Lessing (Rick Worthy- who has appeared on the show previously) is grateful to Seven; he helps her sort through some data.
Ransom: What is the protocol in this situation? We have two captains and two ships. Who gets the last word?
Janeway: “Starfleet Regulation 191, Article 14: In a combat situation involving more than one ship, command falls to the vessel with tactical superiority.” I looked it up this morning.
Ransom: Good thinking.
A “field generator” is developed which would secure both ships if/when the aliens attack, but it’d be more efficient to take a stand on Voyager (as Chakotay suggests). Tension grows between the captains, as it becomes clear Ransom doesn’t intend to abandon his vessel. The main bridge of the Equinox was a re-use of the USS Prometheus, as were corridors, crew quarters and science lab; sets were slightly altered to simulate the effect of damage. In the mess hall, when Harry and Chakotay ask for specifics re: what they were working on in the science lab, Gilmore is (obviously) discomforted and quickly insists some experiments didn’t work. As the Voyager crew prepare a salvage operation, the Equinox bridge crew return to their ship (to gather personal items).
Burke: Once we take their field generator, we’ll part company.
Gilmore: What happens to Voyager?
Burke: They have weapons, shields, a full crew. They’ll survive.
Seven discovers that the Equinox research lab has “high levels of thermionic radiation;” Tuvok says should’ve dissipated already. They go to Janeway and explain that the radiation was there intentionally; Tuvok theorizes that Ransom doesn’t want the Voyager crew to enter that lab. Janeway send in The Doctor (who’ll be immune to the gases as a hologram); she doesn’t reveal this plan to Ransom. The Doctor beams to the lab, finds a dead creature inside a chamber, then scans some logs. He thinks the biomatter was converted to a source of power.
Ransom: Starfleet Regulation 3, paragraph 12: “In the event of imminent destruction, a captain is authorized to preserve the lives of his crew by any justifiable means.”
Janeway: I doubt that protocol covers mass murder.
Ransom: In my judgement, it did.
While Ransom and Burke are discussing their next plan, security officers approach and take the captain to meet w/ Janeway. She now knows that Ransom and crew used members of the attacking alien race to enhance their warp drive. Ransom reveals the truth of the dire situation they were under (running out of power, starving) when they found an M-Class planet; they met the Ankari and got some food and supplies. In a religious ritual, the Ankari summoned their “Spirits of Good Fortune” (the aliens) who were actually “nucleogenic life forms… emitting high levels of antimatter.” Equinox crew traded some of their tech for a “summoning device” and captured an alien which died (before Ransom could set it free).
Ransom: It’s easy to cling to principles when you’re standing on a vessel with its bulkheads intact, manned by a crew that’s not starving.
Janeway: It’s never easy, but if we turn our backs on our principles, we stop being human.
The Doctor calls up the the Equinox EMH, but that was a bad idea, as that doctor had his “ethical subroutines” deleted. The evil EMH steals The Doctor’s mobile emitter and poses as him on Voyager, even helping Ransom’s crew breakout! Janeway had imprisoned them in their room w/ only 2 security personnel outside. The cliffhanger leaves Equinox in retreat w/ The Doctor and Seven held hostage. Voyager shields have failed and it’s under attack by the aliens; it seems like Janeway was directly hit (in the final scene)!
…brings back a number of familiar themes previously explored exclusively on Voyager… Themes that remind us we’re in the Delta Quadrant, removed from Starfleet and its safe haven… and possibly removed from its rules given certain circumstances.
I liked the character moments in this ep; that is considered one of the strong suits of Braga’s co-writer (Menosky). Savage (a veteran of TV/theater) inhabits the role of a world-weary captain who’s seen too much and suffered tragedies. Welliver usually plays shady characters (as several viewers noted); he is charming in the scenes w/ B’Elanna, yet also hiding secrets. One long-time fan of the ST universe commented that Ransom was put into this show, but he’d fit better on DS9. After the conference room where the two captains face-off, I was reminded of this speech by Sisko from S2, E21 of DS9 (The Maquis, Pt. II).
Sisko: …It’s easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the demilitarized zone all the problems haven’t been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints, just people-angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not.
2 thoughts on ““Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 5)”
I have seen and enjoyed most of these episodes — to me the show got much more interesting in season 4 and this is definitely a buildup.
I wonder a lot now, though, about Janeway’s dogged insistence that Seven remain a human. It reads really differently to me now than it might have back then.
Stacey Abrams mentions her love of the show in this clip from LSSC:
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