“I May Destroy You” (2020) created by/starring Michaela Coel

The question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation. -Tagline for the HBO TV series

[1] Sexual assault story has never been told this way before. Groundbreaking stuff. A must see.

[2] It’s not meant to be Girlfriends or SATC and it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s not a sitcom or light comedy, it’s devastating at times, yet humorous.

[3] …this show is honest, heart-breaking, uplifting, funny and sad all at once.

[4] It’s definitely a hard show to watch but worth every moment. Love seeing a largely Black cast in a big network series too.

[5] To me, what it strikes similarity with is the Black Mirror. Almost each episode opens a certain problematic topic of the modern western world.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

There is much to discover in this HBO show (consisting of 12 eps, 30 mins. long). It’s dark (perhaps too much for sensitive viewers), multi-layered, and has some of the most unique characters you’ll see on modern TV. I esp. liked the scenes w/ the literary crowd, some of whom are quite problematic. Michaela Coel (now 32 y.o.) was sexually assaulted when she was making the second season of her comedy series Chewing Gum (2015) which provided the inspiration for this show. She turned down a $1M deal w/ Netflix for the series, as she would’ve lost ownership of the rights. Coel (named Michaela Boakye-Collinson) was born to Ghanaian parents and raised in Tower Hamlets by a single mother, a cleaner who became a NHS nurse. She attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (where she was awarded a scholarship named for Olivier). In 2013, Coel made her stage debut in Chewing Gum Dreams; in 2015, her sitcom Chewing Gum began on Channel 4 TV in the UK.

Arabella (Coel) is a 20ish writer in London working on her second book; her first book (comprised of her popular tweets re: millennial life) was published online. There are several fans who approach her on the streets, asking for a selfie and/or giving out praise. She lives in a humble flat w/ her friend, Ben (Stephen Wight), a quiet/white man who enjoys gardening. Arabella’s best friends are an aspiring actress, Terry (Weruche Opia), and an aerobics instructor, Kwame (Paapa Essiedu- the lead in Hamlet at RSC in 2016). These three pals (all of Ghanian heritage) have known each other for many years and talk about (almost) everything together a la SATC. Another old friend, Simon (Alm Ameen), works at a bank and lives in a fancy apt. w/ his gf of 8 yrs. Simon has a wild side; he plans a three-some and carries drugs (coke). Arabella is known for her partying ways, incl. sometimes using drugs. Some viewers were suspicious of Simon, guessing that he wasn’t going to be a good friend.

One night, Arabella takes a break from her novel to go out w/ Simon and a few others (on his b-day). It turns out that someone spiked her drink and assaulted her that night! The details are few and hazy; at first, she doesn’t want to admit something so terrible happened. Though disoriented, injured (w/ a forehead gash), and lacking sleep, Arabella goes to a meeting w/ her two literary agents. They’re worried re: her falling behind on providing chapters; they’re portrayed as typical white yuppie/liberals. Later, she goes to the local police station to report the crime; we see a few scenes not unlike those in Law & Order: SVU. The two cops on her case are considerate and professional women; they don’t act judgmental of Arabella.

The locations, sets, clothes, and accessories seemed true to life. Many critics and viewers commented that the city scenes looked like “the real London.” The scenes in Ostia, Italy were esp. shot well; Arabella is drawn to her on/off bf Biagio (Marouane Zotti). Though Biagio sells drugs, he seems to be supportive of Arabella (at first). (Coel said she took a vacation to Firenze after her assault and fell in love w/ the place and people.) Arabella wears a pink wig in the first few eps; this was purposefully chosen and dyed not suit Coel’s face/skin color. As the series progresses, the wig frays (symbolizing Arabella’s mental state). Casting directors question Terry about her hair (a wig) in a rather blunt manner; you can tell she is uncomfortable. Almost all of the characters are constantly on their smartphones. Later in the show, Arabella becomes huge on social media; her therapist asks if she really needs it. Kwame may or may not be addicted to a popular gay dating app (Grindr). One of his old friends (who is questioning his own sexual identity) worries about Kwame’s behavior. Kwame nonchalantly says that this isn’t Ghana, so he won’t be thrown off a building. This show is laced w/ dark humor (another element which sets it apart from US shows).

There are some flashback scenes where we see Arabella and Terry as H.S. kids (age 14); the casting of the kids was done very well. They support a male friend after he is (falsely) accused of attacking a white girl, Theo. In the present time, Theo is the head of survivors’ support group; though Arabella wants to know her better, Terry is still suspicious. Terry isn’t a “perfect” friend either, as we eventually discover. No one is totally a good or bad guy in this show! Kwame faces a difficult situation in the middle of the series; he’s not sure if this qualifies as sexual assault (so he Googles it). At first, he consented to hookup w/ a man, but then was forced into something else (w/o his consent). Arabella (thanks to a podcast) learns that her writing partner Zain (Hardip Gill) was “stealthing” when they slept together. She also didn’t give her consent; in fact, she hadn’t experienced this before. What did you think about Terry’s “wild” night w/ the two Italians- could that also be considered non-consensual? There isn’t always an easy answer!

“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 4)

Introduction

What is this show all about? Honestly, it’s tough to say (even after binge-watching for over a month of quarantine)! The series changed direction and purpose somewhere during S2; S3 and S4 have proven often is that Voyager is a series that wanders. With its technical resources (budgets are obviously higher in S4) and mostly strong cast, I think it’s capable of being better. The status quo must occasionally be shattered. We have to feel like we’re going somewhere. We need more characters to be developed, as we’ve seen w/ Capt. Janeway, Seven of Nine, and The Doctor. I want to see this crew taking actions and living w/ the consequences. Characters need to evolve and learn from their pasts. With the end of S4 also came the end of Jeri Taylor’s executive producer duties. Brannon Braga took over the creative processes (becoming showrunner).

Paris and Torres relationship is getting more serious, but it comes across as under-developed; the actors are doing their best. Harry and Neelix have continued to be all over the place; they have their (few) moments, but then return to being annoying (b/c of how they are written). Tuvok needs more time onscreen and better dialogue; we know he can do a lot w/ little (though that’s not fair to the actor). Chakotay didn’t get much to do in S4; he mainly gives moral support to Janeway; the actor wasn’t happy w/ the quality of scripts. Ever since he and Janeway reached that agreement in Scorpion, Part II, Chakotay hasn’t given his opinion or insight, or shown much personality. I’d like to know what he’s really thinking, even if disagreeing w/ Janeway.

Also, the aliens need to be more interesting! The Delta Quadrant races exist solely for the sake conflict. The Hirogen were in 6 eps; they were the primary aliens of this season. Since the Hirogen were pack hunters, their purpose most of the time was to seek out and destroy the starship Voyager, which isn’t a fresh approach to alien encounters. Why can’t we see alien cultures who are peaceful and tell us a little something about humanity? Why are so many aliens stock villain types?

Season 4: Selected Episodes

Episode 1: Scorpion, Part II 

[suffering from neural damage, Janeway puts Chakotay in charge of the ship and the mission]

Janeway: [lying on what could be her deathbed] They’ll push you, they’ll threaten you, but they need you. They need this alliance. You have to make this work. I want you… to make this work. Get this crew… home.

To facilitate the Voyager/Borg alliance, the Borg assign Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) to communicate w/ Capt. Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and Lt. Tuvok (Tim Russ) while developing a weapon against Species 8472. Meanwhile, as the Doctor’s modified Borg nanoprobes successfully attack Ensign Kim’s (Garrett Wang) alien infection, Kes (Jennifer Lien) continues to experience a psychic link w/ Species 8472 (which gets strong and scary). Through Kes, Species 8472 learns the purpose of the alliance and attacks!

Chakotay: Seven of Nine said that we lacked the cohesion of a collective mind, that one day it would divide us and destroy us – and here we are, proving her point.

Janeway: I’ll tell you when we lost control of this situation, when we made our mistake. It was the moment we turned away from each other. We don’t have to stop being individuals to get through this; we just have to stop fighting each other.

The title refers to the Aesop fable re: the scorpion and the fox (or frog) which we learn in the S3 finale. The music here is intense and gives a sense of foreboding. Mulgrew is great (as always); her decision to ally w/ the Borg was just whoa! Her convo w/ Chakotay (Robert Beltran) in sickbay and then w/ Seven in the Ready Room are standout scenes. Chakotay thinks the Captain is mistaken; this is consistent w/ his Maquis roots.

Episode 2: The Gift

Janeway: [summarizing Tuvok’s report] I’ve got an Ocampan who wants to be something more and a Borg who’s afraid of becoming something less. Here’s to Vulcan stability.

Seven of Nine resists as her natural human physiology begins to regenerate. It’s up to Janeway to convince her to embrace her humanity and join the Voyager crew. Kes’ telekinetic powers grow to such a point that she can no longer control them; she decides she must leave the ship. 

[Janeway shows Seven of Nine the picture of a little girl]

Janeway: Do you remember her? Her name was Annika Hansen. She was born on Stardate 25479, at the Tendara Colony. There’s still a lot we don’t know about her. Did she have any siblings? Who were her friends? Where did she go to school? What was her favorite color?

Seven of Nine: Irrelevant! Take me back to the Borg!

Jennifer Lien leaving the series officially came about when the staff felt that Kes character arc had been taken as far as it would go; the actress was released from her contract. The entire cast was upset by this decision; they took Lien out to dinner and Mulgrew even drove her home. Garrett Wang stated that he was originally the one at risk of being fired, as he and (writer-producer) Rick Berman didn’t get along. Then, Wang was featured in People‘s 50 Most Beautiful People edition, so the producers decided to keep him and write Lien out instead. Ethan Phillips stated that another goodbye scene between Neelix and Kes was taped, but didn’t make it into this ep. This gift refers to Kes throwing Voyager closer toward Earth (9,500 light years or 10 yrs at maximum warp).

Episode 4: Nemesis

Cmdr. Chakotay’s shuttle is hit by enemy cross-fire and crashes on a planet in the midst of a war. One side (the Vori) befriends him and attempts to help him locate his shuttle. He finds himself quickly taking sides; when captured by the other side (the Kradin), he is reminded that every army has its own story. The teleplay for this ep was written by Kenneth Biller; I’ve liked most of his work so far.

This is a “bottle episode” where we follow Chakotay and a group of young Vori soldiers; one is a newbie hesitant about facing the enemy. While the Vori look like humans, the Kradin have a vicious/unpleasant look (despite their good intentions, as we eventually learn). The makeup of the Kradin resembles that of the Nausicaans from TNG: Tapestry, Fek’lhr from TNG: Devil’s Due, as well as the title character from Predator. The Kradin uniforms were reuses of the Mokra uniforms from the S1 ep Resistance.

[last lines]

Chakotay: I wish it were as easy to stop hating as it was to start.

I think this episode is really cool and brings up issues like propaganda, perspective, and brainwashing in times of war. I actually like the different speech. It is part of being able to hear how Chakotay is brought into this different world. The more he uses the language the more is on the side of the Vori. In the Trek universe this could be explained as maybe the universal translators don’t always get it 100% how the Federation would speak.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 6: The Raven

Amid Janeway’s negotiations w/ a xenophobic race of aliens (the Bomar) for passage through their region of space, talks are disrupted when Seven of Nine (believing herself summoned by the Borg) leaves Voyager to rejoin the Collective, heading into the aliens’ territory. The teleplay for this ep was co-written by Bryan Fuller (a huge fan of the ST universe); it was directed by LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge on TNG).

The Doctor: [to Seven] You could be experiencing some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Janeway: Makes sense. You were assimilated by the Borg. You’ve gone through an intense, prolonged trauma.

Seven of Nine: I was not traumatized, I was raised by the Borg. I don’t see them as threatening. Why would I experience fear?

Seven of Nine’s silver bodysuit was replaced by a more understated/less restrictive brown one; it also had a higher neckline. This story resembles TNG: Brothers, where Cmdr. Data, as the result of being summoned by his creator (Dr. Noonian Soong) takes over the Enterprise. We see Seven experience PTSD, we learn more re: her parents- the Hansons- who researched the Borg for several years.

There are times when Voyager feels like a cheap imitation of the TNG, and there are times when Voyager is good, fun and unique. This is one of the latter. This episode explores the re-adaptation of Seven of Nine’s humanity.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

…Neelix introduces her to the concept of eating food, which is milked for some engaging, low-key humor. (How do you teach someone how to chew and swallow? I’m not sure, but Neelix seems like an appropriate instructor.) Jeri Ryan is a joy to watch here.

These are the types of things that we need to see. Being (A) the new character on the series, and (B) the Voyager take on the humanity commentary and identity seeker—a character vital on any Trek series—are two things that make Seven a fountain of storytelling potential.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episodes 8 & 9: Year of Hell, Parts I & II

Part I: Voyager enters the “Year of Hell” that Kes reported in S3 E21 (Before and After). A Krenim timeship, lead by Capt. Annorax (Kurtwood Smith), aims to rewrite regional history by selectively wiping out entire species of warp-capable humanoids from ever existing. Though many light years away, Voyager, in protecting itself w/ temporal shielding from a foe, becomes a fly in the ointment of Annorax’ plan for 100% restoration of the Krenim Imperium.

Part II: A year into the battle with the Krenim, a stripped down and barely functioning Voyager w/ a skeleton crew is leading an armada of various species’ ships against the timeship before more damage is done. Meanwhile, as “guests” of Annorax, Chakotay and Paris individually pursue solutions to the crisis from the other end.

[Janeway declines a watch Chakotay has given her as a birthday present]

Janeway: That watch represents a meal, a hypospray, or a pair of boots. It could mean the difference between life and death one day.

Whoa- can you believe how cool and gritty this show could be!? The teleplay was written by Brannon Braga (also co-EP) and his frequent collaborator, Joe Menosky. This was originally supposed to be the S3 finale; there were some minor rewrites, w/ many of Kes’s lines given to Seven of Nine. Braga ideally would’ve had this arc be one season long (UPN said no way); when he wanted to have it as 4 eps (Berman said no- he wanted to keep things episodic). This show’s writers didn’t have the freedom which DS9 had, unfortunately!

The intro narration by Janeway states: “Space, the great unknown. Only now we’re going to know it a little better.” This is a reference to the narration by Capt. Kirk during the intro of each episode of TOS. Seven of Nine tells Kim and Torres that the Borg were present when Zefram Cochrane launched his first warp-driven starship. She claims it is “complicated”- an acknowledgment of the events of Star Trek: First Contact, in which the Borg travel through time to assimilate humans. This is the first (continued) appearance of Janeway’s short hairstyle. Neelix (Ethan Phillips) wears the gold Starfleet uniform, having been commissioned as a security officer. Smith also played the Efrosian Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and DS9: Things Past. His right-hand man is Obrist, played by John Loprieno (One Life to Live).

Tuvok: …I have never understood the Human compulsion to emotionally bond with inanimate objects. This vessel has done nothing. It is an assemblage of bulkheads, conduits, tritanium. Nothing more.

Janeway: Oh, you’re wrong. It’s much more than that. This ship has been our home. It’s kept us together. It’s been part of our family. As illogical as this might sound, I feel as close to Voyager as I do to any other member of my crew. It’s carried us, Tuvok – even nurtured us. And right now, it needs one of us.

This is listed as one of the “Ten Essential Episodes” of Voyager in the 2008 reference book Star Trek 101 by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann. This story was inspired greatly by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The name “Annorax” was derived from the main character Pierre Aronnax; Paris compares Annorax to Captain Nemo (the antagonist of Verne’s story). This ep was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series. Ron Moore (a former writing partner of Braga) used this script as an example of how the series should’ve proceeded all along.

This is the only time we see Janeway relieved of command (momentarily) by The Doctor, on the grounds that she is suffering from Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Voyager is shown as being very damaged; acrylic sheets (similar to those used when the sets are in storage) was draped over most of the “clean” bulkheads, and then sprayed w/ charcoal dust to simulate the effects of many explosions. This resulted in many surfaces having a “wrinkled” look (which I noticed on my second viewing).

[1] It showed a nasty, dark side to Star Trek that had rarely been seen before, and was beautifully acted by nearly everyone. …the way this episode is shot, the sense of fear and terror that runs through it is magnificent and not something you would expect from Star Trek.

[2] This was another exciting episode where the crew actually get hurt, including the captain who is badly scarred in a fire. It was just a shame the story couldn’t have been stretched a bit longer as it was good to see the usually pristine Voyager battle-scarred.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 14: Message in a Bottle

Seven of Nine’s discovery of a tenuous link to the Federation excites Janeway. When the normal method for sending messages proves inadequate, sending the Doctor (a hologram) might work. The Doctor beams over to the Prometheus (at the far edge of the Alpha Quadrant), a prototype starship captured by Romulans. The Doctor finds an ally in EMH-2, a new/untested prototype, played by Andy Dick (NewsRadio). EMH-2’s line “I’m a doctor, not a commando!” is a running gag which all doctors in various ST series have said. This ep introduces the Hirogen, a new alien race/adversary to Voyager crew.

Judson Scott (Romulan Commander Rekar) also played baddie roles in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and TNG: Symbiosis. Although the Dominion is referenced in several ST shows, this is the only reference the Dominion War outside of DS9 and Star Trek: Insurrection. This makes sense, since Voyager was stuck in the Delta Quadrant for the entire Dominion War. We see the (new/DS9-style) uniform that’s worn by Alpha Quadrant Starfleet personnel from now on. The crew of Voyager never wears the updated uniforms; this would’ve probably exhausted their limited replicator rations. The show runners probably wanted to keep the older (color on top) uniforms to differentiate from the cast of DS9.

[1] There is a lot of humor in this, but the serious nature of it involves a possible connection to Earth and home. There is some really fun byplay between the two holographic personages and this highlights this episode.

[2] This comedy ends in a success once the doctor returns to Voyager and tells Janeway that he contacted Starfleet in a short scene that’s extremely warm and touching.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 15: Hunters

Through the vast Hirogen communications net (which we learned of in E14), Voyager crewmen receive unexpected letters from home. As many fans have noted, even on the late ’90s, computer networks were well-established. The mail wouldn’t need to be put on a stack of PADDS, but could’ve been distributed via something like an email server. Later, Tuvok and Seven get captured by the tall/intimidating aliens- the Hirogen- who live to hunt and collect trophies of their defeated prey. Tiny Ron (Alpha Hirogen) had a recurring DS9 role as Maihar’du, Grand Nagus Zek’s protective/silent servant. Since this teleplay was written by Jeri Taylor, we get an interesting story (w/ great Janeway/Chakotay scenes) .

[Janeway has learned that her fiancé has married somebody else]

Janeway: I guess I didn’t really expect him to wait for me, considering the circumstances, but it made me realize that I was using him as a safety net, you know, as a way to avoid becoming involved with someone else.

Chakotay: You don’t have that safety net anymore.

Janeway: That’s right. Then again, my life is far from uneventful here in the Delta Quadrant. It’s not like I would’ve had a chance to pursue a relationship, even if I HAD realized I was alone.

Chakotay: You’re hardly alone – and to my way of thinking, there’s still plenty of time.

Janeway: Plenty of time.

Chakotay learns that the Maquis have been decimated by the Cardassian/Dominion alliance. This is good stuff. The fact that all the Maquis back in the Alpha Quadrant are gone now undoubtedly hits the Maquis population on Voyager pretty hard. Chakotay’s reaction to this devastating news is an especially poignant moment.

The letter she receives is from her (former) fiance Mark… It’s not something that Janeway finds particularly surprising; it’s just that the fact it wasn’t surprising doesn’t make accepting the inevitable any easier. Her mention to Chakotay that the letter had such a “finality” was well said—perfectly said, in fact.

-Excerpts from Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 16: Prey

Chakotay: [of the Hirogen] From what I found in their database, diplomacy isn’t a part of their lifestyle. They don’t see us as equals. To them, we’re simply game.

Janeway: It’s time we convinced them otherwise, or like any cornered animal, we’ll show our teeth.

A Hirogen ship meets up with Voyager, but doesn’t attack; there is one severely injured survivor inside. In taking him aboard for treatment, the ship also acquires the successful attacker- a member of Species 8472 (yikes)! There is a look at Species 8472 walking along the ship’s hull; this is a rare shot for a ST show. The crew team up with the Alpha Hirogen (Tony Todd) to hunt it down, but circumstances bring out Janeway’s desire to apply compassion, which puts her in opposition w/ the Hirogen and also Seven of Nine. Todd played Worf’s brother Kurn (TNG and DS9); he also played the future Jake Sisko in DS9: The Visitor. The EV suits are the same ones seen in Star Trek: First Contact.

Although Janeway lectures Seven by saying “it is wrong to sacrifice another being to save our own lives,” that is what she did in Tuvix, where she forced him to sacrifice his life to restore Tuvok and Neelix. She defended that choice by stating that Tuvix was created as the result of a transporter accident and, therefore, less entitled to exist. This ep lets Ryan spread her wings; of course, Seven is freaked out by Species 8472, but she still has the guts to tell her real feelings to Janeway.

[Janeway has asked Seven of Nine to create a singularity, which Seven refuses]

Seven of Nine: I have agreed to remain on Voyager; I have agreed to function as a member of your crew. But I will not be a willing participant in my own destruction or the destruction of this ship.

Janeway: Objection noted. We’ll do this without you.

Seven of Nine: You will fail.

Janeway: And you have just crossed the line!

***

Chakotay: Is your body armor designed to handle rapid pressure fluctuations?

Alpha Hirogen: It can defeat most hostile environments. I once tracked a silicon-based life-form through the neutronium mantle of a collapsed star.

Tom Paris: I once tracked a mouse through Jefferies tube 32.

***

[last lines]

Seven of Nine: It is puzzling.

Janeway: What’s that?

Seven of Nine: You made me into an individual. You encouraged me to stop thinking like a member of the Collective, to cultivate my independence and my humanity. But when I try to assert that independence, I am punished.

Janeway: Individuality has its limits – especially on a starship where there’s a command structure.

Seven of Nine: I believe that you are punishing me because I do not think the way that you do. Because I am not becoming more like you. You claim to respect my individuality. But in fact, you are frightened by it.

Janeway: As you were.

***

The Hirogen here aren’t played anywhere near as over the top as the two Hirogen in “Hunters.” From the moment “Prey” begins, there’s almost a sense that the writers or director or somebody made a conscious effort to tone down the Hirogen to something that’s …well, watchable.

This is a solidly constructed, very focused story that transcends the lightweight nature typical of season four by addressing a moral issue and framing it in the context of a punchy action/adventure premise.

-Excerpts from Jammer’s Reviews

Episodes 18 & 19: The Killing Game, Parts I & II

Part I: The Hirogen capture Voyager, turning it into one big holodeck, and setting up several scenarios using the crew members as prey. The memories of the crew are suppressed by use of implants and they are given new identities consistent w/ the scenario. Only The Doctor is free to save Voyager

Part II: As Janeway, Seven, Kim and The Doctor struggle to free the minds of their shipmates, dissension looms between the Alpha Hirogen and his subordinates, particularly w/ Turanj. Janeway’s negotiation for a ceasefire w/ the visionary Alpha Hirogen becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back. As Turanj selects Janeway as his personal prey, the rest of the crew vie against Nazi forces in the ship-wide WWII holodeck simulation. 

Looks like Nazis aren’t played out (old news) in this show! The Hirogen have taken over Voyager and made it into an expansive Holodeck, spreading emitters over many decks. They’ve forced Ensign Kim to maintain this for them, but the emitters suck too much power from the ship’s main systems. The Hirogen shoot, stab, and shunt the crew to Sickbay; the Doctor has an assembly-line to patch them up. Some long-time fans consider this a fun story; others think it lacks subtlety.

The ensemble cast get to wear different hairstyles, period costumes, and (generally) look like they’re having a ball. Janeway is seen as a Klingon in the opening; later, Neelix gathers Klingons to fight the Nazis (which is glorious and hilarious)! Ryan displays her singing talents; she sings “That Old Black Magic” (published in 1942), as well as “It Can’t Be Wrong” (1943), an adaptation of “Charlotte’s Theme” from the soundtrack of Now, Voyager. Seven’s French name is “Mademoiselle de Neuf” (“Miss of Nine”). Dawson was in the final stages of pregnancy in S4, so her pregnancy could be used effectively here, w/o the necessity to film her from the chest up.

This was a good episode even if the WWII setting was a little cliché… at least the problems weren’t due to the holodeck safeties malfunctioning yet again. It also showed some nice character development in the Hirogens when their leader explains how he wanted to use such technology so they wouldn’t spend their lives scattered across the galaxy finding new prey to hunt.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

I would like to agree with those who see the episode as fun. I also think it’s very Trekkian, with its portrayal of the good guys as cleverly subversive, always the rebels. Americans have always pictured themselves as underdogs, fighting for freedom.

This is about as meta as its possible to get – the resistance on the ship mirrored with the resistance on the holodeck, Janeway and Seven’s conflict being played out, B’Elanna and Tom having a relationship – and actually there is some satisfaction in the different layers. Harry may have found his strongest role yet. And the whole thing looks gorgeous.

-Comment from Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 21: The Omega Directive

[Janeway is briefing her senior officers about the Omega molecule, its nature and its dangers]

Janeway: Omega destroys subspace. A chain reaction involving a handful of molecules could devastate subspace throughout an entire quadrant. If that were to happen, warp travel would become impossible. Space-faring civilization as we know it would cease to exist.

[…]

I don’t have to tell you what’s at stake. If a large-scale Omega explosion occurs, we will lose the ability to go to warp forever. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

Voyager’s sensors detect a rare particle capable of damaging subspace and nullifying warp travel. Under a classified directive known only to Starfleet captains and a few others, Janeway leads the ship on a mission to destroy all traces of that particle. Seven of Nine hesitates to destroy it, sharing the Borg reverence of it as the embodiment of perfection.

Janeway’s log entries are encrypted throughout this episode; she mentions Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan‘s Dr. Carol Marcus and the Genesis Device. This is the only time that any captain officially rescinds the Prime Directive! Seven tells Janeway that the Omega Particle means “perfection” to the Borg. Dawson went into labor during the production of this ep; we see Torres in Engineering towards the start, but she’s absent when Janeway briefs the senior officers during the special meeting about Omega.

[last lines]

Seven of Nine: For 3.2 seconds, I saw perfection. When Omega stabilized, I felt a curious sensation. As I was watching it, it seemed to be watching me. The Borg have assimilated many species, with mythologies to explain such moments of clarity. I’ve always dismissed them as trivial. Perhaps I was wrong.

Janeway: If I didn’t know you better… I’d say you just had your first spiritual experience.

…it’s just a solid stand-alone science fiction story that is sensibly written and sensibly executed. It’s entertaining and reasonably thoughtful, particularly with some of the characterizations that arise late in the story. As an episode of Voyager, it’s pretty original; watching the episode, I got the feeling that I hadn’t seen this story before.

I was thoroughly impressed and even moved by the effectiveness of Jeri Ryan’s performance and the writers’ ability to give her such good material. The way Ryan delivers these lines is poignant, showing Seven vulnerable, troubled, and emotional…

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 23: Living Witness

[first lines]

Janeway: [in the historical simulation] When diplomacy fails, there’s only one alternative: violence. Force must be applied without apology. It’s the Starfleet way.

When The Doctor’s back-up module is found, his program is brought on-line for the first time in 700 years. In the future, the Kyrian Museum of Heritage teaches a history that writes Voyager as playing a detrimental role in beginning their Great War w/ the Vaskans. The Doctor is the only living witness and sets the record straight, but the new “facts” give way to old tensions from the formerly warring races. The museum curator and The Doctor find themselves amidst violence and destruction! This ep was directed by Tim Russ; it’s very highly-rated and popular w/ fans.

[in the historical simulation]

Janeway: [on the brawl between her senior officers] Save it for the holodeck. We’ve got a war to fight.

Some sets here were also used in Star Trek: Insurrection (then in production), w/ the museum doubling as a Son’a ship. This is the only ep that establishes The Doctor as having a backup. The “inaccurate depiction” of The Doctor is similar to the android Data from TNG. The holographic warship has a Kazon ensign. None of the crew of the warship wear rank insignia on their collars or the combadges on their left breast. The normal gray undershirt worn beneath the Starfleet jumpsuit uniform has been changed to black, and many crew members wear black gloves. Some other differences include different hair (Janeway’s) and a tattoo in the style of the Maori on Chakotay. This ep will (no doubt) remind many of the mirror universe of TOS (Mirror, Mirror), TNG: Yesterday’s Enterprise, and/or several DS9 stories.

Quarren: You’re trying to protect yourself.

The Doctor: And so are you – from the truth! Isn’t it a coincidence that the Kyrians are being portrayed in the best possible light? Martyrs, heroes, saviors… Obviously, events have been reinterpreted to make your people feel better about themselves. Revisionist history – it’s such a comfort.

[1] This episode is about how cultures can come or fail to come to grips with the reality of their past. And how those misconceptions and lies can have a lasting crippling effect on the societies. It also demonstrates how difficult it can be to present the truth when you are addressing people who are investing in a more convenient narrative for their own peace of mind, regarding of the evidence.

It’s a great story topic for science fiction which isn’t very often told in an interesting way like the way we see it in this episode. This episode manages to be one of the more insightful and funny episodes of the series.

[2] Bold, edgy, creative and thankfully not so nice and touchy-feely like too many of the show’s other episodes.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 25: One

Seven of Nine: Holodecks are a pointless endeavor, fulfilling some human need to fantasize. I have no such need.

The Doctor: What you need is some editorial skill in your self-expression. Between impulse and action, there is a realm of good taste begging for your acquaintance.

Yikes, this ep is going to come across as too real (nowadays in quarantine life)! An unavoidable poisonous nebula forces the entire crew into stasis chambers, except for The Doctor and Seven of Nine. She must fight her “collective” mentality to handle being alone for over a month, while combating ship-wide failures, an intruder, and her own fears of individuality and loneliness. The teleplay was written by series co-creator Jeri Taylor and directed by Biller (who was mainly a writer). This plot is similar to Persistence of Vision and Bliss, where The Doctor works closely w/ another crew member (Kes; Seven) while most of the crew is incapacitated.

[The Doctor and Seven are crawling through the Jeffries tubes, which are narrow.]

The Doctor: I’ll complain if I want to. It’s comforting.

We learn that Voyager has traveled 15,000 light years toward home (Earth). The stasis room was a redress of the cargo bay set; stasis units also appeared in Resolutions and The Thaw. The Doctor says: “If you had even the slightest sense of humor, you’d realize I was making a small joke;” Seven replies: “Very small.” This is reminiscent of a scene between Chekov and Spock in TOS: The Trouble with Tribbles. A holographic version of Torres says she joined the Maquis after Chakotay saved her life; this was established in Taylor’s novel Pathways.

[1] This was a good episode which gave Jeri Ryan to show a greater acting range as Seven starts to be effected by the solitude.

[2] Despite being almost a one-woman show, this is a pretty good episode. I particularly liked the conversations between her and the crew during the worst of the hallucinations- they were darkly funny. Worth seeing and unique. And, I appreciate the character development in Seven.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Humans are social creatures- and so, it would seem, are Borg (in a twisted manner of speaking). The transition from being part of the Borg collective to being an individual was difficult enough for Seven; now she’s faced with the prospect of being the lone individual in a high-pressure situation. It is more difficult than she could’ve imagined.

…I’ve found Seven of Nine to be the most believably and interestingly written character on the ensemble. Why is it the writers can’t do these stories for anyone else? Maybe it’s simply that Seven’s quest for individuality and humanity is an inherently interesting topic, and the writers can come up with good material for such a topic relatively easily. In that sense, then, Seven is an asset. They’ve been telling a story about her, which has evolved and taken slow, believable turns. It’s what is known as an “arc.” We need more arcs.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 26: Hope and Fear

Janeway hasn’t managed to decrypt the message from Starfleet (earlier in the season). When the crew meet a friendly/intelligent alien, Arturis (Ray Wise), w/ a talent for languages/patterns, she invites him to take a look at the code. He quickly decodes part of the code, which includes a message about a new Starfleet ship that uses slipstream technology (which could get them home in mos)! It has been dispatched on auto-pilot and is waiting nearby; the U.S.S. Dauntless is fully operational and the crew goes about familiarizing themselves w/ it. Torres and her Engineering team make a replica of the slipstream drive for Voyager, so they can bring it along. Kim eventually discovers a strange piece of alien technology inside Dauntless; this isn’t a Federation ship. It turns out that Arturis wants revenge on Voyager for helping the Borg defeat Species 8472; his race was assimilated by the Borg. He kidnaps Janeway and Seven, then enters the slipstream, traveling toward Borg space! Chakotay and crew follows in Voyager, but they may not be able to go too far.

[1] She [Janeway] and Seven have a heated argument about Seven’s remaining in the Delta Quadrant. This is the one that really feels like a mother arguing with her teenage daughter. The daughter (Seven) wants her independence, or so she thinks, saying she has outgrown humanity, but Janeway knows that, realistically, she couldn’t care for herself out there, and besides, this is really about her fear of not being accepted on Earth.

[2] For me, this episode epitomized what Voyager could have been. What made DS9, or even TNG in a limited way, intriguing was how what they did was permanent: they weren’t warping off at the end of the day, leaving whatever problem behind. Voyager was king of this. Arturis is a tragic character, and there could have been some excellent episodes built off the premise of people trying to exact revenge on Voyager because of their actions, or even helping Voyager.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Basically, what we have here is a plot with pieces that are cobbled together out of unlikely coincidences and prior story events that have been twisted to fit the end result. And the reason for this end result to me seems motivated more by an obligatory need for the creators to revisit the “let’s get home” theme rather than to tell a real story.

…working in “Hope and Fear’s” favor is a great deal of stellar character work and some surprisingly effective closure. I liked, for instance, a lot of the motivation behind Arturis’ need for revenge (even if the methods of his revenge are extremely unlikely). The fact that Janeway’s negotiation with the Borg in “Scorpion” had negative consequences on other Delta Quadrant peoples is an interesting idea, and Arturis’ pointed accusation that Janeway can’t see beyond her own crew’s interests brings forth some valid observations. The use of the Borg collective as a dramatic device to bookend the season also works rather well.

Characteristically, this episode continues to capitalize on the growth of Seven as an individual. Seven fearing the prospect of living in a human society is both relevant and interesting. True, the repeated use of Seven continues to demonstrate how little the creative staff seems to care about the other characters, but it’s still great stuff in a vacuum.

-Jammer’s Reviews

“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 3)

Introduction

This is considered (by long-time) fans as a transitional season. It’s not as directionless (or muddled) like much of S1 and S2. There is (some) continuity and more character development, though I wanted to see a lot more of Chakotay (Robert Beltran) and also some more of Tuvok (Tim Russ). Kes (though Jennifer Lien had talent) is on her way out; she doesn’t get much to do in S3. Jeri Ryan was brought on in S4 as a regular cast member. The writers/producers didn’t know what to do w/ Kes; they gave her some cool powers, then they didn’t follow-up. Capt. Janeway, (Kate Mulgrew), The Doctor (Robert Picardo), Torres (Roxann Dawson) and Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil) have been developed well (so far). S3 has more of the action/adventure element, which the producers envisioned in the start.

Season 3: Selected Episodes

Episode 1: Basics: Part II

With the Kazon-Nistrim in control of Voyager and nearly the entire crew marooned on a desert planet (w/ primitive humans, a huge serpent and a volcano), only Lt. Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil), Crewman Lon Suder (Brad Dourif) and The Doctor (Robert Picardo) remain at-large to retake the ship. The Hanonian land eel (this didn’t age well- LOL) was the first alien creature on VOY created through CGI.

Suder: I’m gonna have to kill some of them.

The Doctor: It is possible. Violence might be required to retake the ship.

Suder: I’ve worked so… so hard over the last few months, to control the violent feelings. I’m almost at peace with myself. I mean, I see the day coming when I could be.

The Doctor: Mr. Suder, if Lieutenant Tuvok were here, I know he would tell you there are times when violence is required, to defend yourself, to defend your ship… to defend your crew.

Suder: Yes, there is a logical use for violence – for everyone else. For me, once it begins…

There is action, danger, and things get wrapped up (perhaps too neatly). As you’d expect, there are things that don’t make sense. This ep features the deaths of Seska (Martha Hackett would later return in other contexts), Suder (yup, I got a BIT emotional) and Hogan (Simon Billig). It was also the final time that the Kazon (AKA “discount Klingons”) appear, aside from flashbacks.

[Suder has been killed when sabotaging the ship’s phasers]

Tuvok: I offer you a Vulcan prayer, Mr. Suder. May your death bring you the peace you never found in life.

Episode 2: Flashback

Traveling close to a Class-17 nebula triggers a repressed memory in Tuvok, which can be a life-threatening condition to Vulcans. Janeway, as the closest thing to a trusted family member, agrees to mind-meld w/ Tuvok. Together they travel to when a 29 y.o. Ensign Tuvok served under Capt. Sulu aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior 80 yrs ago.

[Tuvok protests against Sulu’s decision to rescue his comrades]

Sulu: Ensign, you’re absolutely right, but you’re also absolutely wrong. You’ll find that more happens on the bridge of a starship than just carrying out orders and observing regulations. There’s a sense of loyalty to the men and women you serve with, a sense of family. Those two men on trial, I served with them for a long time. I owe them my life a dozen times over, and right now they’re in trouble and I’m gonna help them. Let the regulations be damned.

Tuvok: Sir, that is a most illogical line of reasoning.

Sulu: You better believe it.

We see TOS cast members George Takei and Grace Lee Whitney, this ep was considered for use as a pilot for a series involving the adventures of Sulu and Rand aboard the U.S.S. Excelsior. However, Paramount decided to produce Star Trek: Enterprise instead. This ep and DS9 (Trials and Tribble-ations) were produced as part of a 30th-anniversary celebration of Star Trek. Both stories involve a character who is old enough to remember the days of TOS (Dax and Tuvok). We also see Kang (Michael Ansara); he appeared also on TOS and DS9).

Episode 6: Remember

As Voyager transports friendly/telepathic aliens (Enarans) to their home world, Torres experiences passionate dreams w/ details like that of a holonovel. These are actually shared memories from one of the Enarans onboard, but who and why? The Doctor can block them, but Torres feels compelled to see them through. This was a recycled TNG script; it was originally meant as a Troi story. It’s a commentary on genocide (i.e. the Holocaust). Some viewers noted that it’s similar to the TNG ep Violations. The acting is done well (esp. by Dawson); we see veteran actor Bruce Davison and young Charles Esten (The Drew Carey Show, Whose Line is it Anyway? and Nashville).

Torres: I know that it’s easier for you to believe that I’m crazy or hallucinating, but this woman shared her life, her whole identity with me. I was with her every step of the way as she convinced herself that what she did – betraying the man she loved, playing her part in a massacre – that it was all somehow for the good of Enaran society. She showed me everything, no apologies, no request for forgiveness – just the truth.

Episodes 8 & 9: Future’s End, Parts I &II

Part I: An artificial temporal rift opens in front of Voyager. A Federation vessel (from the 29th century) emerges; Capt. Braxton says that Voyager somehow is responsible for a temporal disruption in his time that destroys Earth’s solar system. He begins to attack, hoping to change the future; Voyager disables Braxton’s time ship, and both ships are pulled back into the time rift! Braxton’s vessel is flung back to 1967 and Voyager travels to 1996. Voyager detects a warp signature in LA, so Janeway, Chakotay (w/ new hairdo), Paris, and Tuvok (in eclectic clothes) go to investigate. A SETI scientist, Rain Robinson (a young Sarah Silverman), who has been scanning for a particular radiation signature finds it emanating from the ship.

Part II: As the Voyager crew pit their 24th century tech against Starling’s stolen 29th century tech, Chakotay and Torres fall into the hands of paranoid white supremacists.

This is the first mention of a future Starfleet that monitors and repairs the timeline. Silverman (cute, quirky, and funny) was considered to join the regular cast for S4, after EP Brannon Braga enjoyed her work in these eps (which he co-wrote w/ Joe Menosky); eventually, he chose Jeri Ryan. The hippie-turned-baddie tech genius, Henry Starling, is played by Ed Begley, Jr. Janeway compares late ’90’s computers to “stone knives and bearskins” (calling back to what Spock said in TOS: The City on the Edge of Forever). Janeway and Chakotay showed had some nice camaraderie; Tuvok and Paris brought the humor; Kim and Torres back on the ship worked well.

Episode 11: The Q and the Grey

Chakotay [upon learning that Q wants to mate w/ Capt. Janeway]: I know I don’t have any right to feel this way, but this bothers the hell out of me.

Q returns to Voyager, saying that he wants to have a baby w/ Janeway- LOL! Janeway (of course) doesn’t buy it; the real issue that the death of Quinn has thrown the Q Continuum off-balance. Civil war has broken out, w/ the struggle adversely affecting the galaxy. Then there’s the other woman- Q’s former mate (Suzie Plakson)- to consider.

Q: [referring to Chakotay] I was wondering, Kathy, what could anyone possibly see in this big oaf anyway? Is it the tattoo? Because MINE’S BIGGER!

Janeway: Not big enough.

Yup, we find a d*ck joke on a Star Trek show- who would’ve thought!? The title uses the Civil War theme and plays upon the color of the North and South’s uniforms (blue and grey). It’s also a reference to the Civil War poem “The Blue and the Gray” by Francis Miles Finch. The Southern plantation drawing room is a redress of Janeway’s Jane Eyre-inspired holonovel. The Female Q’s comment re: admiring Klingon females is an in-joke; Plakson (a statuesque 6’2″) previously portrayed K’Ehleyr (Worf’s Klingon/Human ex on TNG).

Episode 12: Macrocosm

When Janeway and Neelix return to Voyager (after a first contact mission w/ the Tak Tak), they find the crew barely alive after being invaded by a microscopic life form which is growing to macroscopic proportions. This is the ep for all you action movie fans, or those who want a bit more action in ST universe. It’s unique and fun; we get to see a different (more tougher) side of Janeway.

Just a good, old-fashioned action-centric story, not so involved in techno-babble or completely overwhelmed in heady science (not that this bothers me, but sometimes less is more).

I love the way the commonplace sight of the ship can suddenly become such an creepy place when devoid of crew and with a mysterious sinister element lurking about unseen.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 15: Coda

Capt. Janeway finds herself living through several untimely death scenarios (w/ Chakotay) in a kind of time loop. Eventually, winding up aboard Voyager (in spirit form), her late father appears, ready to guide her into the afterlife. Is Janeway really dead or being deceived by an alien entity? 

Adm. Janeway: I’m trying to spare you unnecessary pain.

Capt. Janeway: My father would never act like this. He always believed I had to learn my own lessons, make my own mistakes. He never tried to shield me from life. Why would he try to shield me from death? You’re not my father.

This was made 3 yrs after the movie Groundhog Day set the standard for repeat-the-day-until-you-get-it-right time loop narratives. It had done it previously in TNG (Cause and Effect). There is some fine acting from Mulgrew and Beltran; the heavy emotion (from him) was never over-the-top.

Roxann Dawson’s speech during the wake and Robert Beltran’s scene when Janeway dies in his arms are notable standouts. Also, some of the chemistry between Janeway and Chakotay in the opening and closing are among the show’s best scenes…

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 16: Blood Fever

Tuvok: There is nothing logical about the pon farr. It is a time when instinct and emotion dominate over reason. It cannot be analyzed by the rational mind nor cured by conventional medicine. Anyone who has experienced it understands that it must simply be followed to its natural resolution.

Ensign Vorik (Alexander Enberg- son of writer/producer Jeri Taylor) undergoes the Vulcan mating drive (pon farr); the strong chemical imbalance affects Lt. Torres (who is human/Klingon) also, leading her to act irrationally. Trapped in a cave, Lt. Paris must try to reason w/ her (while respecting her and denying her advances).

Torres: See, I’ve picked up your scent, Tom. I’ve tasted your blood.

Paris: No. No. I’m your friend, and I have to watch out for you when your judgment’s been impaired. If you let these instincts take over now, you’ll hate yourself and me too for taking advantage of you. I won’t do that.

This ep was directed by Andrew Robinson (Garak- the “plain, simple tailor” on DS9). The issue of consent is handled quite well, considering the time period. There is some chemistry between McNeil and Dawson; obviously, producers want them as a romantic pair. At the end, Chakotay shows Janeway the remains of a dead Borg drone. This is the first appearance of any Borg since Star Trek: First Contact and the first appearance of the Borg in this series. Yikes, Voyager is nearing Borg space!

Episode 17: Unity

Still traveling through the Nekrit Expanse, Chakotay and Ensign Kaplan, answer a distress call from a colony (that incl. humans) on an alien planet. Caught between warring factions, Kaplan is killed and Chakotay gets seriously injured. Some colonists (former members of the Borg) can save Chakotay’s life, but he must join for a time w/ their “cooperative.” Voyager discovers a Borg cube dead in space!

The Cooperative: Open your mind to our thoughts and concentrate on getting well. Hear our voices. Open your mind to our thoughts. Our collective strength can heal you. You’re safe with us. Feel the connection. We’re with you. See who we are. Know us. You’re not alone. Our strength is your strength. We can overcome your pain. We welcome you into our thoughts. There’s nothing to fear. We won’t let you die. We’re all one circle, no beginning, no end.

Dr. Riley Frazier (Lori Hallier) says she was assimilated at Wolf 359 (see TNG: The Best of Both Worlds: Part II); this is also where Jennifer (Cmdr. Sisko’s wife) was killed in the DS9 series pilot. A Borg mechanical arm was one of the costume pieces previously been used in Star Trek: First Contact. The colony was mostly a redressed set; we saw it as the detention facility in The Chute and space station in Fair Trade. We get a new perspective on the Borg- they’re independent, not mindless automatons!

I’ve always liked the Borg… They’re the most interesting and fearsome villains that Star Trek has ever come up with—not just because they’re powerful and relentless, but because they’re determined to force you to join them, quashing your free will and independent thought.

At what cost is unity a positive option? Chakotay experiences first-hand the sorts of advantages and pleasures being connected with other minds can bring: tenfolds of knowledge, efficient communication of ideas, not to mention a closeness to those in the link that far exceeds what one could ever find outside the Collective.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 23: Distant Origin

Gegen: [examining a human skull] Did your eyes see the planet of our origin, the true home of our race? Was it… beautiful? Was it covered by oceans, by sand? Were there nine moons above your head? Were there none?

Two Voth paleontologists find the remains of a Voyager crewman (possible Hogan, who died on the planet where the crew was exiled by the Kazon-Nistrim). DNA analysis of the remains shows links to their own DNA. While tracking and studying the Voyager crew, the scientists are discovered. They conclude that they’re an evolved species of dinosaur that left Earth more than 65M yrs ago! The lead scientist, Gegen (Henry Woronicz), is thrilled to be able to prove his “Distant Origin Theory.” The rulers of his society put Gegen on trial for heresy against the “doctrine” (that they originated here in the Delta Quadrant). The outcome of that trial threatens the Voyager crew also.

Minister Odala: We are not immigrants! I will not deny twenty million years of history and doctrine just because one insignificant saurian has a theory!

This ep is unusual, as it’s told partly from POV of a guest character, rather than one of the Voyager crew (who don’t appear until the second act). Several viewers noted that the Voth faces looked cool, but they’re hands could’ve been a lot better. Minister Odala (Concetta Tomei- a veteran of theater/TV) does a good job as the tough government official. Chakotay gets some nice scenes (thank goodness); he was under-used this season.

Gegen: [examining an Earth globe Chakotay has given him] Someday, every Voth will see this as home.

Chakotay: Someday. Eyes open.

Gegen: Eyes open.

Episode 25: Worst Case Scenario

Janeway: [on Tuvok’s refusal to continue his unfinished holo-novel] I’m more than just a captain. I’m the leader of a community, and communities need entertainment, culture, creative outlets. Since we’re not exactly privy to every new piece of music or holonovel that’s written back home, I think it’s only natural that we should start creating our own.

Many members of the Voyager crew participate in an engaging holo-program (uncovered by Torres) where Chakotay leads a mutiny. News gets to the captain; she is rather amused and wonders who could be the writer. Tuvok admits that it was his program- a training program for junior security officers. However, when Tuvok saw Starfleet and Maquis working well together, he decided not to complete it. When they open up the program to finish the story, Tuvok and Paris get trapped inside!

Paris: [on Seska] You should never have crossed her, Tuvok.

Tuvok: *She* has been dead for over a year now. There would have been no way to predict this turn of events.

Paris: I guess we should’ve known Seska wouldn’t let a little thing like death stop her from getting even.

This is a clever/fun ep (written by Kenneth Biller) where Seska- badder than ever- is back! She’s in her Bajoran form, but her hair is darker and styled partly up (common to Cardassians). Beltran and Hackett have fun being villains, but they still stay believable. Torres and Paris play the game differently, given their personalities, but both have a great time. There are meta moments and in-jokes (which those who are writers will esp. enjoy).

[1] What was interesting prior to the “stakes” is that there were no stakes in this episode. Just fictional characters in a fictional setting having very real conversations about temptation, ship gossip, creative approaches and what equates to cabin fever.

We’ve seen this story literally hundreds of times on various Star Trek series, but so rarely have we seen our characters just being people for a whole episode.

[2] The only tragic thing of this episode is that we get a glimpse of how exciting Voyager could have been as a show. I remember when the show was launched, the producers spoke of how it would be a show where “not everyone got along” because it would be a crew of both Maquis and Starfleet personnel. This notion quickly vanished in Season One and the Voyager crew became a “family” just like all the other Star Trek crew. “Worst Case Scenario” reveals another path which the show could have taken which certainly would have made it unique. A multi-episode story arc about a true hostile takeover might have made for a very interesting season indeed.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 26: Scorpion

Voyager’s third season comes to an end on a very good note… It’s about time.

…a very large, ambitious spectacle of an episode, and one could argue that this show happened because it had to happen—because the Delta Quadrant has remained so nondescript for so long now.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Voyager enters Borg space to find the Borg Collective on the losing end of war against a (new) alien race- Species 8472. While investigating a defeated Borg armada, Harry becomes infected. Janeway devises a risky plan to book safe passage through Borg space by working together w/ the Borg!

Janeway: This day was inevitable. We all knew it, and we’ve all tried to prepare ourselves for the challenge ahead, but at what point is the risk too great? At what point do we come about and retreat to friendly territory? Could the crew accept living out the rest of their lives in the Delta Quadrant? I keep looking to all these captains, my comrades in arms, but the truth is… I’m alone.

Chakotay: If that moment comes, we’ll face it together, and we’ll make the right decision. You’re not alone, Kathryn.

Janeway: [smiles] Three years ago I didn’t even know your name. Today I can’t imagine a day without you.

Whoa- this looks like a new show (which was done intentionally)! There is different lighting, new camera angles, new dramatic/tense music, and internal conflict between Janeway and Chakotay. A moment that works well is the discussion between Janeway and Chakotay concerning how Voyager is supposed to survive the Borg on its own. Voyager is alone; there is no Starfleet presence in the Delta Quadrant to back it up. How can one ship survive!?

This ep is the first time more than one Borg Cube is onscreen. The (creepy) pile of dismembered Borg on the disabled cube was a pile of Playmates Toys action figures. The Borg costumes, makeup appliances and set pieces were reused from Star Trek: First Contact; here the Borg look better (detailed) than on TNG. The CGI for this ep took 6 weeks; I thought it looked good (aside from Species 8472). By the end of the first act, the crew gets a glimpse of the Borg, as 15 cubes come from behind Voyager and pass it by—too fast to threaten the crew w/ assimilation. The sight is scary; Chakotay quietly murmuring “My God” sets the tone. What were the Borg running from? Later, passing through Borg wreckage, they realize those cubes have been destroyed!

[Chakotay has reservations about Janeway’s plan]

Janeway: Do you trust me, Chakotay?

Chakotay: That isn’t the issue.

Janeway: Oh, but it is. Only yesterday you were saying that we’d face this together, that you’d be at my side.

Chakotay: I still have to tell you what I believe. I’m no good to you if I don’t do that.

Janeway: I appreciate your insights, but the time for debate is over. I’ve made my decision. Now… do I have your support?

Chakotay: You’re the Captain; I’m the First Officer. I’ll follow your orders, but that doesn’t change my belief that we’re making a fatal mistake.

Janeway: [dejected] Then I guess I am alone after all. Dismissed.

“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 2)

Introduction

I recently learned that VOY is the fave of all the ST series of Georgia politician Stacey Abrams! Her older sis (who had her own room/TV) got her into TNG starting from its first ep (1987); all the sibs eventually got into the show. In OCT (over quarantine), Abrams was on a panel of ST actors (incl. Kate Mulgrew) and politicians during a fundraising event for Biden. Andrew Yang and Julian Castro (who both ran for prez) are also Trekkies. Abrams said that she greatly admired Capt. Janeway; also VOY brought new viewers in (who weren’t familiar w/ ST universe).

Now, S1 is really nothing to brag about; you need patience when starting this show. The characters are not yet fleshed out; each ep has them behaving somewhat differently. Janeway (Mulgrew- already a veteran of TV/theater), the Doctor (Robert Picardo- a former Emmy nominee), and Tuvok (Tim Russ) seem to be most comfortable w/ their roles. Kes (Jennifer Lien) seems to be a natural, too. Some fans didn’t like how quickly Janeway and Chakotay became friends; they wanted to see more of her friendship w/ Tuvok (who worked w/ her for 7 yrs). It’s obvious that Neelix (Ethan Phillips) and- to a lesser extent- Kim (Garrett Wang)- are the comic relief. The writer-producers (Berman, Piller, Taylor) leave the door open for romance between Janeway/Paris, Janeway/Chakotay, Paris/Kes, and The Doctor/Kes. E15 (Learning Curve) wasn’t meant to be the S1 finale! Tuvok sees that the Maquis aren’t fully integrated into the crew; Janeway’s solution is to have him train some Maquis (selected by Chakotay) in the ways of Star Fleet. Those selected are pissed off about this and refuse to participate, but then Chakotay punches Ensign Dalby in the cafeteria “the Maquis way” (LOL)!

Season 2: Selected Episodes

Episode 2: Initiations

Chakotay goes off in a shuttle to honor his dead father; he is attacked for being in Kazon-Ogla space by a teenaged Kazon wanting to earn his warrior name. Chakotay defeats the Kazon vessel and saves the boy, Kar (Aron Eisenberg- Nog on DS9), by transporting him aboard the shuttlecraft. When Chakotay tries to return his prisoner to another Kazon vessel, Kar begs to be killed before they’re captured. After Kar reveals that he will now never earn his name, Chakotay escapes from the Kazon vessel, and Kar goes w/ him. Chakotay’s shuttle crashes on a moon (the same location- Vasquez Rocks- used in the TOS ep Arena where Capt. Kirk battled the Gorn) full of booby traps; it’s used as a training base for young Kazons.

Chakotay: It may mean something to you to die a violent death, but I’d like to get out of this without killing or being killed.

Kar: You’d rather die in your sleep, a wrinkled old man?

Chakotay: Sounds about right.

This ep is where we (finally) learn more re: the Kazon; we see the (fatherly) side of Chakotay (which I liked). Detractors online refer to these aliens (who don’t come off very interesting) as “discount Klingons”- LOL! Jeri Taylor explained that the Kazon were modeled after LA street gangs; there are several factions who compete for power. Some fans have also noted that the Kazon were like nomads (I think that’s more re: their clothing). I used to work w/ teens (tutoring and subbing) so it took me back to that time; they can be annoying, but are also in need of guidance. Kar found out a (clever) way to get his name w/o killing. In the final scene, Chakotay is saying a prayer- he includes Kar in it (which I thought was touching).

Episode 3: Projections

…delivers a mysterious sequence of illusions with a genuine sense of style and captivation. Finally, Brannon Braga has written a story that gives him a chance to do high-concept—his storytelling specialty—while shining with terrific character moments and witty twists and turns.

Picardo and Schultz both turn in exceptional performances and make a remarkable comedy duo. Their screen chemistry is one of the episode’s many strengths

-Jammer’s Reviews

The EMH is activated due to what the computer describes as a ship-wide emergency. When the Doctor asks the computer to scan for the crew, he learns that they were forced to abandon ship. Later, he meets Torres, who says that she and Capt. Janeway stayed behind to stop a warp core breach caused by a Kazon attack. The Doctor is sent to the Bridge, courtesy of new holo-emitters installed throughout the ship. After reviving Janeway, the Doctor is called to the mess hall to assist Neelix, who is fighting off a Kazon soldier. After the scuffle, the holographic doctor is astonished to learn that he himself is bleeding! When asked, the computer insists that the Doctor is actually Dr. Lewis Zimmerman (the human engineer who created the EMH program).

Lt. Barclay: Lewis, how would you rather think of yourself? As a real person, with a real life, with a family that loves you? Or as some… hologram, that exists in a sickbay, on a starship, lost in deep space?

TNG fans (well, maybe some) will be happy to see Lt. Barclay (Dwight Schultz) guest star in this ep, which was directed by Jonathan Frakes. This was the ep that Frakes submitted to get the Star Trek: First Contact directing job. Barclay was one of the few characters who struggled (not unlike real people) on TNG; he was socially awkward and relied too much on his holodeck programs. This is very well-done (as many viewers have noted); it shows us that the series has potential!

Episode 4: Elogium

Voyager encounters new life forms that have an unusual attraction to the ship; helm controls and shields are disabled. The crew try to escape w/o harming the swarm, but when the creatures begin attaching themselves to the hull, they cause more issues to the ship’s systems. Kes’s reproductive cycle (“the elogium”) is triggered; if she wants to have a child, it must be now. Throughout the ep, concerns arise over fraternization among the crew; Janeway and Chakotay discuss whether the ship is a good place to raise children. Ensign Samantha Wildman (Nancy Hower) reveals to Janeway that she’s pregnant by her husband (back on DS9).

Kes: [on becoming a parent] I’m not sure I’m finished growing; how could I help a child grow?

Neelix: [the prospect of fatherhood] It’s just all happening so fast. I don’t know what to think.

Wildman was named after a real little girl who died in an accident; her organs were transplanted into the wife of Voyager writer Jimmy Diggs. A young guest writer (Kenneth Biller) brought in an original script; the producers were impressed and he joined the show as executive story editor. The cold open has an (unusual for ST) scene- the turbolift opens and two of the crew are kissing; this surprises and concerns Chakotay. He goes to the captain to discuss the matter (which is a very interesting topic, as many viewers commented). The ship (w/ a crew of about 150) was only supposed to be away 3 weeks.

Janeway: We’re a long way from home. Everyone is lonely, and… all we have is each other. I think, eventually people will begin to pair off.

Chakotay: Including you?

Janeway: As Captain, that’s a luxury I don’t have.

It looks like fans are divided on this ep; some thought it was enjoyable, others thought it was cliched. For those who are “shippers” of Janeway and Chakotay, there are a few fun moments. (FYI: A shipper is person who discusses, writes about, or hopes for a romantic relationship between fictional characters or between famous people). I find the relationship (they are dating, but don’t share quarters) between Neelix and Kes to be weird! Also, Neelix has a jealous side- thinking that Paris is interested in Kes. I liked the scene in the mess hall where Neelix (nervous re: being a father) asks Tuvok re: children and family life. I read that this story was meant to draw comparison to teen pregnancy.

Episode 8: Persistance of Vision

The Doctor: I’ve checked Starfleet regulations. The chief medical officer outranks the captain in health matters. Now, I realize this may be the first time a hologram has given an order to a captain, but… I’m ordering you to report to the holodeck – now!

Janeway: Aye, sir.

As Voyager readies for a (potentially dangerous) encounter w/ a new alien race (the Bothan), the Doctor orders an exhausted Janeway to relax in the holodeck. Before long, she is called back to the Bridge; the Bothan representative sets up a rendezvous to determine whether or not they’ll allow Voyager to pass through their space. Janeway starts seeing characters and objects from her holonovel; she goes to sick-bay, but The Doctor cannot find anything wrong w/ her brain. She goes to rest in her quarters, but soon is attacked by a character (holding a knife)! It turns out that Kes also sees what the captain sees; she’s not losing her mind. Janeway puts Chakotay in charge, while the Doctor runs more tests.

In an attempt to take over Voyager, an alien presence is manipulating the thoughts of the crew by distracting them w/ elements of their own sub-consious. Janeway sees her fiance Mark; Tuvok talks to his wife; Paris being called a loser by his father; and Torres allowing herself a passionate affair w/ her version of Chakotay (umm, that was unexpected). Before long, the entire ship falls under the spell, except for Kes and the Doctor. Three ships come out of nowhere and surround them.

I don’t mind this holo-novel nearly as much as others seem to… Janeway isn’t a secret masochist who enjoys being the victim of Victorian misogyny, she’s interested in the quieter drama of household life- something denied her in “real” life.

Janeway’s holonovel is a poorly disguised allusion to Jane Eyre… a strong female character in a time when females had no rights. The novel appeals to women because there is mystery, romance, fancy dresses, and British accents. Not the same type of fantasy men seek, but educated women love it. It fits Janeway’s character.

-Excerpts from commenters (Jammer’s Reviews)

This ep was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series. It aired the day before Halloween; the two kids and housekeeper- Mrs. Templeton (Carolyn Seymour)- are quite creepy. This provided some TNG- era weirdness, but I wish it had been more focused on Janeway. She seems to feel a bit guilty about kissing Lord Burley (Michael Cumptsy), even though he’s not a real man.

Episode 9: Tattoo

While on an away mission, Chakotay finds symbols and structures similar to ones he saw when he was 15 y.o. on a trip through the Amazon w/ his father. When the weather, plants, and animals of the planet seem to be opposed to the presence of Voyager and its crew, Chakotay seeks a way to gain the trust of the inhabitants. Meanwhile, the Doctor programs himself with flu symptoms in order to empathize with his patients.

Kolopak: From the day you came out of your mother – upside down – I knew the Spirits have chosen you to be a contrary.

Young Chakotay: No one chooses for me. I choose my own way. And if that makes me a contrary, I’ll have to live with it.

Kolopak: If you have no spirits to guide you, I fear you will lose your way.

…his pseudo-American Indian talk of spirit guides and the like sounded to me more like some white person’s idea of what a native sounded like than anything else.

-Excerpt from a comment on IMDB

This is a character piece (written by Michael Piller) for Chakotay which would’ve fit better in S1; it has several flashbacks. Young Chakotay (Douglas Spain) is sullen and doesn’t care re: spirituality; his father, Kolopak (Henry Darrow), wants him to be connected w/ his ancestors. Eventually, Young Chakotay reveals that he was sponsored by a Capt. Sulu to attend Starfleet Academy (a reference to TOS). It turned out that the Native American consultant who was hired to provide input on the show was a fraud; he’d changed his name and was of Armenian heritage! This con man had also tricked foundations into giving him thousands of dollars in grants (bringing to mind Rachel Dolezal and Jessica Krug).

Episode 10: Cold Fire

Tuvok: If you are to succeed in honing your telepathic abilities, you must learn to control these emotional outbursts.

Kes: Outburst? It was a giggle!

Kes and the Doctor notice a change in the remains of the Caretaker (10 mos. after being trapped in Delta Quadrant); they seem to be resonating in response to some energy source. Remembering that the Caretaker mentioned a female of his kind, Janeway wonders if she may be nearby; a meeting w/ her could be their ticket home. Tuvok develops a toxin that could debilitate this lifeform (if she poses a threat). Following the energy trail, the crew comes upon another array (also inhabited by Ocampa); they fire on the ship. Kes acts as the crew’s liaison to the Ocampa; their leader, Tanis (Gary Graham), comes on board and she assures him that they come in peace.

Tanis: Captain, are you aware of how your ship is regarded, that when Voyager appears, people fear destruction?

Ocampa Man: Your ship is known as a ship of death.

I saw this ep… and realized that (wow), this series has the potential to be good! Graham (who does a fine job here) was one of the actors considered for Janeway (back when UPN wasn’t sure if they’d have a female captain). Tanis’ Ocampa seem to be more confident, live much longer than Kes’ group, and have stronger telekinetic powers. Also, when you learn that their Caretaker is named “Suspiria,” you know it’s not going to be positive- LOL! We see the dark side of Kes- that was unexpected; it’s unlike what we’ve come across in TOS and TNG.

The scenes where Kes uses her new skills on Tuvok and later on Tanis are much darker than one usually sees in Star Trek…

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Kes’ powers disappear as soon as Tanis leaves, illustrating another example of Reset Button Plotting – how to change characters just so they can change back 30 minutes later.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 11: Manuevers

After Voyager detects a Federation probe, the bridge-crew wonder if Starfleet has been looking for them. After setting a course for the beacon, they find it in an ion cloud and grow suspicious. The Kazon-Nistrim attack, matching their beams w/ the shield-harmonics of Voyager. The Kazon ram and puncture the hull of Voyager w/ a small craft, enabling them to steal one of the transporter modules. This event causes a destabilized warp-field; to prevent the Kazon from escaping, a tractor-beam locks on, and Maj Culluh (Anthony De Longis) hails them. Seska (Marth Hackett), now reverting back to her true (Cardassian) form, has allied w/ Culluh. She calls Chakotay predictable and causes a feedback-loop which breaks the tractor-beam entirely. Voyager, unable to sustain a stable warp-field, can’t pursue. Janeway explains the ramifications of allowing Federation tech to be in the hands of the Kazon.

Torres: [referring to Seska manipulating the Voyager crew] You’re taking this all very personally, aren’t you?

Chakotay: Why shouldn’t I?

Torres: You are not responsible for what happened.

Chakotay: Oh, no? I let her join the Maquis. I took her into my confidence. I even got… intimately involved with her.

Torres: So you have lousy taste in women.

Chakotay (reverting to his lone wolf/Maquis roots) goes after the Kazon-Nistrim ship to retrieve or destroy the tech; he gets captured! He’s taunted by Seska, then tortured for info on Voyager, but he doesn’t give up anything. By the time Voyager turns up to rescue him, the Nistrim ship has been joined by other Kazon sects (who Seska brought together). I thought this was a good ep w/ some well-done action. Seska makes a decent villain; she may betray Cullah (who is under-developed), as Chakotay points out. Her final message to Chakotay showed how bad she can be; it will remind you of a soap opera plot! Hackett was pregnant (in real life) when she shot that scene.

Episode 14: Alliances

[Hogan has suggested that Voyager give the Kazon some of their technology to resolve the conflict w/ them]

Janeway: I appreciate your concerns, Crewman. But let me make it absolutely clear: I’ll destroy this ship before I turn any part of it over to the Kazon!

A Kazon attack results in the death of a well-liked Voyager crewman, ex-Maquis Kurt Bendera. Stakes are high now; there have been several (heavy) attacks in recent weeks from the Kazon. Chakotay, a good friend of Bendera, delivers the eulogy. After the funeral, Jonas (Raphael Sbrage) and Hogan (Simon Billig) approach Janeway and suggest that Voyager share their tech w/ the Kazon. Of course, Janeway is not having it! Chakotay voices the proposal of forming an alliance w/ one or two Kazon factions. Janeway goes to have a talk w/ Tuvok; he talks re: peace formed by the alliance between the Federation and Klingons. Should Voyager (alone- far from Starfleet) compromise its regulations in order to survive?

Janeway: [to Tuvok re: banding together with the Kazon] How can I consider it? I can’t just walk away from the precepts Starfleet has laid out for us. You don’t deal with outlaws. You don’t involve yourself in the political machinations of other cultures. It goes against everything I believe, everything I’ve trained for, everything experience has taught me.

Janeway decides to meet w/ Seska and Maje Cullah (who is a total mysogonist jerk); when Cullah asks for an exchange of crew, she rejects it. Meanwhile, Neelix decides to use some of his contacts to propose an alliance w/ a different tribe (Kazon-Pommar). Eventually, Janeway decides to ally w/ the Trabe (former enslavers of the Kazon); they created the ships and tech that were stolen by the Kazon. The Trabe insist they only want to find a new home world and leave their past behind. Their leader, Mabus (Charles Lucia), urges Janeway to gather the heads of the Kazon sects for a peace conference. Well, how can Janeway resist this (as a by-the-the book captain)!? Neelix tips her off that there might be danger during these talks, but Janeway decides to proceed (in the hopes of bringing stability to the region).

Janeway: I hope there’s a lesson for all of us in this. Although some of the species we’ve encountered here have been peaceful, others seem governed only by their own self-interests. This appears to be a region of space that doesn’t have many rules. But I believe we can learn something from the events that have unfolded. In a part of space where there are few rules, it’s more important than ever that we hold fast to our own. In a region where shifting allegiances are commonplace, we have to have something stable to rely on; and we do: the principles and ideals of the Federation. As far as I’m concerned, those are the best allies we could have.

Captain Janeway’s resolve to strictly adhere to the prime direction is strengthened in this episode after being tested by Chakotay and Tuvok’s well intentioned counsel.

To Chakotay’s credit his idea of a mutual protection pact makes sense and, as a first officer, his duty is to provide the captain with options and recommendations.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 16: Meld

Tuvok investigates the murder of a Voyager engineer. Former Maquis and Betazoid, Lon Suder (Brad Dourif- best known as Grima on LOTR), quickly confesses to the murder w/ no explanation or remorse. Tuvok, curious to find a reason for Suder’s behavior, performs a mind-meld (to find himself losing his usual Vulcan control and descending into violence). Tom is disrespectful to Chakotay, beginning an important subplot of S2.

This is the first ST ep whose development involved Michael Sussman, a writing intern at the time who later wrote/ co-wrote 10 subsequent eps of the series. We also see the brig on Voyager for the first time; there is no death penalty (according to the rules of the Federation). Russ does a fine job, as does Dourif, making this one of the must-see eps of the season.

Star Trek is generally at it’s best when it tells a personal story. The heart in battle with itself is a term I hear thrown about quite a bit and that fits in this particular case. The performance of Suder was fascinating. The way he is written is excellent… he is ultimately just a naturally violent man who harbors no hatred for his victim; he just enjoys releasing his rage. …Suder is sympathetic in his own way, as he caringly tries to talk sense into Tuvok when he enters the brig with the intention of murdering him.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 18: Death Wish

Q learns that Voyager is lost in the Delta Quadrant.

Q: Well, I guess that’s what we get for having a woman in the captain’s seat.

[Janeway suggests a hearing]

Q: A hearing? You would have me put his future into your delicate little hands? Oh!… so touchably soft. What is your secret, dear?

I think I’m one of many who like Q (John de Lancie); this is his first appearance on this series. Yes, it deals w/ a serious issue (another Q’s right to die), but there is also humor. We get a guest appearance by Frakes; Janeway is excited to meet him. Mulgrew and de Lancie were friends (in real life); they have good chemistry. Looking back now, there are a few problematic lines/moments (such as when Q pops into Janeway’s bed). Of course, she is not having it!

Episode 19: Lifesigns

To help save the life of a Vidiian scientist, Dr. Denara Pel (Susan Diol- who I know from One Life to Live), who’s dying from the Phage, the Doctor creates a holographic body to preserve her mind. It’s the first time she is experiencing life (w/o the disease) in years; the adaptive programming opens up the Doctor to romance. Meanwhile, Tom’s growing insubordination lands him in the brig, and Jonas balks at an order from the Kazon-Nistrim to sabotage the ship.

This is the ep where the Doctor falls in love- which is surprising, yet a happy, incident. Tom gives him advice re: planning a romantic date. We see how a healthy Vidian would look (for the first time). Dinara’s final decision is opposite to the one chosen in The Cage by Vina in TOS, who chose to continue living her illusion of beauty rather than return to her people in her disfigured state.

Episode 20: Investigations

Looking for some serious news for his “A Briefing with Neelix” ship-wide broadcasts, Neelix learns of Paris’ immanent departure from Voyager. Shortly after Paris disembarks for a Talaxian convoy, problems develop with the ship’s warp engines. Word of his abduction by the Kazon-Nistrim arrives; the swiftness of Paris’ capture leads Neelix to suspect a traitor aboard. Journalistic interest leads him to press on and, w/ Lt. Hogan’s help, brings to light a suspect- Paris.

Earlier in the season, some viewers wondered whether Hogan or Jonas was going to be the traitor; we’ve known for several eps that it was Jonas. He’d been asking to speak w/ Seska, but had to deal w/ a Kazon-Nistrim who was her assistant. I was a bit surprised that Janeway and Tuvok kept that plan re: Paris leaving from Chakotay. Paris acting like an immature jerk for several eps had a purpose after all.

…this show isn’t much about logic as it is about overblown spectacle. From Paris’ escape of the Kazon ship to Neelix’s big fight with Jonas once he’s found out, “Investigations” puts action ahead of storyline more times than not—unfortunately, with limited success.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 21: Deadlock

A “spatial scission” causes Voyager to be duplicated; one of the ships is under heavy attack from the Vidiians while the other remains impervious. Both Janeways work together and (eventually) one decides to sacrifice her ship to save the other. Before the auto-destruct happens, the doomed Voyager sends its Ensign Kim and baby girl (born to Ensign Wildman) to the other ship, thus to replacing the Kim that was killed and the baby who dead from complications.

Two Janeways are better than one- esp. when they get to be badass! This was one of my fave eps so far in the series; it’s fun, fast-paced, w/ good action scenes. Yes, it’s written by Braga, but it’s one of the good ones! The directing is well done; they used one of the TNG veterans (David Livingston).

The raw energy of this episode makes it a winner, and, by the end of the show, everything feels like it more or less adds up in its own bizarre way, even if my brain doesn’t want to buy it. Braga shows the talent, I guess, for making things clear and confusing at the same time. Livingston shows the talent for turning it all into a gripping hour of science fiction.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 25: Resolutions

An incurable viral infection forces Janeway and Chakotay to part from Voyager and take residence on a planet (which they name “New Earth”) that negates their symptoms. Their departure weighs heavily on the crew, almost to the point of insurrection against now Capt. Tuvok, who won’t consider contacting the (organ-harvesting) Vidiians for help. While Tuvok deals w/ the crew, a plasma storm threatens Janeway’s research to find a cure.

Fans are mixed on this ep (which could be relatable in quarantine life); shippers of Janeway and Chakotay love it, others aren’t as excited about it. Jeri Taylor (writer-producer) wrote this ep, talking inspo from (no doubt) romance novels. The characterization of Chakotay as a homemaker was way ahead of its time, as the (male) hosts of The People vs. Star Trek Voyager podcast commented. I loved the chemistry between Mulgrew and Beltran in all their scenes. I’m not sure why the needed to have the spider monkey; it turns out Rick Berman found this animal to be amusing- LOL!

Chakotay’s philosophy seems much more rational given the circumstances. He wants to build a home—accept that the disease is not curable and move on. And that’s the one interesting question “Resolutions” brings up—the subject of moving on, and the nature of the relationship which will form between Janeway and Chakotay in their isolated society of two. After weeks of denial, Janeway realizes that they have to discuss the personal effects of their situation, and where the future will take them. Janeway’s line, “I think we need to define some parameters about us,” was one of the episode’s few genuinely interesting moments, and Chakotay’s response, “I’m not sure if I can define parameters, but I can tell you an ancient story,” rang very true.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 26: Basics: Part I

Janeway: [the problem with Seska allying with the Kason] She knows you, Chakotay. She knew how you’d react when you saw your son in danger.

Chakotay: I have a duty to this crew. I can’t just leave and go looking for the child.

Janeway: And I’d never consider letting you go into a Kazon-Nistrim stronghold by yourself. If we do this, we do it together. That’s something else Seska would know, too.

Seska’s distress call announcing the birth of Chakotay’s son puts the Voyager crew in a bind. We know that Seska and her Kazon-Nistrim allies are violent and untrustworthy. Chakotay must decide whether or not to accept the baby, as DNA for the conception was taken against his will (Manuevers). As Voyager gears up for confrontation w/ the Kazon, Suder (confined to quarters; undergoing therapy w/ Tuvok) begs Janeway to allow him to contribute (bio-engineer vegetables to increase food supply).

Cullah: [to Federation crewmen about Seska] What is it about the women from your quadrant? You know, she contradicts me in front of the senior askara? My own woman, disputing her Maje in front of others. This is your fault. You’ve let your women get out of control.

Piller wrote this ep (the finale of S2), which is a cliffhanger. I expected more, though I thought the pacing and direction were good. I liked the scene in Chakotay’s dream w/ his father; the actors had good chemistry. I liked all the stuff w/ Suder and Tuvok; we’re living not unlike Suder in quarantine- LOL! In my opinion, the most shocking moment was Culluh slapping Janeway on her own bridge- oh hell no!!! I wished that Seska had killed that guy already.

Here are some issues which critics/viewers bought up. Why is Voyager still near Kazon space (after mos. of travel)? Why aren’t the Kazon written as more interesting villains? After the crew finds the wounded Kazon, Tierna (John Gegunhuber), on his damaged shuttle floating in space, why do they trust him? He should’ve been watched 24/7, so he couldn’t do the suicide bombing. Though the special effects are OK (I’m on my first watch), why aren’t they close to being on par w/ DS9 (which I’ve been re-watching recently)?

It’s shocking to see Voyager commandeered by the Kazon and the crew forced off their ship. I could see the writers had no idea how to resolve this, but I could also see they left their options open with Tom, the Doctor, AND Suder all being wildcards.

The episode provided a gripping conclusion to the second series; with the crew stranded on a prehistoric planet and the Kazon in control of the ship it will be interesting to see how they can retake it.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 1)

Introduction

The best thing was simply the privilege and the challenge of being able to take a shot at the first female captain, transcending stereotypes that I was very familiar with. I was able to do that in front of millions of viewers. That was a remarkable experience—and it continues to resonate.

-Kate Mulgrew

Star Trek: Voyager (VOY) is a sci-fi TV series created by Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Taylor (who all worked on TNG). It originally aired from JAN 1995 to MAY 2001 on the newly est. United Paramount Network (UPN), lasting for 172 episodes over 7 seasons. Paramount Pictures commissioned the series following the end of TNG to accompany the ongoing DS9. Berman served as head executive producer (EP) in charge of the overall production, assisted by a series of EPs: Piller, Taylor, Brannon Braga (who started as an intern on TNG), and Kenneth Biller. Some of Braga’s teleplays, as well as his decisions as showrunner (in this series), were considered controversial. More on that later (if I continue to review the show)…

VOY is set in the 24th century, and follows the adventures of the USS Voyager (an Intrepid class starship) as it tries to return home (Earth) after being stranded in the Delta Quadrant (the other side of the galaxy). It was the first of the franchise w/ a female captain as lead character, Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). Racial diversity was built-in from the start, as the studio wanted; the ensemble cast was made-up of Latinos (Robert Beltran; Roxann Dawson), a Black actor as a Vulcan (Tim Russ- the runner-up for LaForge on TNG), and a Chinese-American newcomer to acting (Garrett Wang). I learned that Dawson grew up w/ Shatner’s daughters; she was formerly married to actor Casey Biggs (best known as Damar on DS9). The conflicted relationship between Starfleet and former Federation colonists living along the Demilitarized Zone (the Maquis) is explored. Viewers see new alien species as recurring characters, but some familiar adversaries also show up. Being so far from the Federation (75 yrs), Voyager is truly going where no one has gone before!

I will take full responsibility for any flawed or downright bad storytelling or creative decisions that hurt the franchise.Brannon Braga (2010)

The show was shot on the stages TNG had used. Costume designer Robert Blackman decided that the uniforms of crew would be the same as those on DS9. Jerry Goldsmith composed and conducted a new main theme (which is OK, but not as cool as the one for DS9). This was the first ST series to use CGI, rather than models, for exterior space shots.

Series Premiere (Caretaker, Parts I & II)

In the pilot ep, USS Voyager departs the DS9 space station on a mission into the Badlands. They’re searching for a missing ship piloted by a team of Maquis; Voyager‘s security officer, Lt. Tuvok (Russ), is on board gathering intelligence. While in the Badlands, Voyager is enveloped by a powerful energy wave that kills several crew members, damages the ship, and strands it in the Delta Quadrant. The wave was not a natural phenomenon; it was used by an alien entity (the Caretaker). This entity is responsible for the continued care of the Ocampa (a race of aliens native to the Delta Quadrant) and has been abducting other species from in an effort to find a successor.

The Maquis ship was also pulled into the Delta Quadrant; eventually, the two crews join forces after the Caretaker’s space array is destroyed in a battle w/ a local alien species (the Kazon). Chakotay (Beltran), the leader of this Maquis group who left Starfeet to protect his home colony, becomes first officer. B’Elanna Torres (Biggs-Dawson), a half-human/half-Klingon who dropped out of Starfleet Academy, is assigned engineering. Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil), a pilot released from a Federation prison, is the helm officer. Harry Kim (Wang) is the young ensign on his first mission. The Doctor (Robert Picardo), an emergency medical hologram (EMH) meant for short-term use, is employed as the ship’s F/T chief medical officer. Also, two Delta Quadrant aliens are on board- Neelix (Ethan Phillips), a Talaxian scavenger- and Kes (Jennifer Lien), a young Ocampa.

Capt. Janeway: We’re alone – in an uncharted part of the galaxy. We’ve already made some friends here… and some enemies. We have no idea of the dangers we’re going to face. But one thing is clear: both crews are going to have to work together if we’re to survive. That’s why Commander Chakotay and I have agreed that this should be one crew – a Starfleet crew. And as the only Starfleet vessel assigned to the Delta Quadrant, we’ll continue to follow our directive: to seek out new worlds and explore space. But our primary goal is clear. Even at maximum speeds, it would take 75 years to reach the Federation. But I’m not willing to settle for that. There’s another entity like the Caretaker out there somewhere who has the ability to get us there a lot faster. We’ll be looking for her. And we’ll be looking for wormholes, spatial rifts, or new technologies to help us. Somewhere, along this journey, we’ll find a way back.

Season 1: Selected Episodes

Episode 2: Parallax

Repairs are underway and it’s time to pick personnel for senior crew positions. Tensions are high as the (disciplined) Starfleet crew absorbs the (go your own way) Maquis members. Neelix finds his place as chef and Kes builds the airponics bay. Paris is the Conn Officer and also trains as a field medic w/ the EMH. Chakotay recommends Torres for Chief Engineer, but Janeway isn’t convinced (b/c of the woman’s hot temper). All must put opinions aside when they mount a rescue of a ship caught in a quantum singularity, only to find the ship in distress is Voyager itself.

Cmdr. Chakotay: You’re right, Captain, I do consider these my people, because nobody else on this ship will look out for them like I will. And I’m telling you: you’re gonna have to give them more authority if you want their loyalty.

Capt. Janeway: Theirs? Or yours, Commander?

The ep starts (cold open) w/ a man in the yellow Starfleet uniform exclaiming in Sick Bay that “she broke my nose!” No, it’s not the captain, it’s Torres- she has a hard time controlling her temper. It turns out that she’s a gifted engineer also; in one meeting scene, Torres and Janeway get very excited re: science. Now, this isn’t the kind of scene you see everyday on TV! Later on, Janeway and Torres go out on a shuttlecraft to gather more info; we learn that some of the teachers at the Academy saw potential in Torres (though she didn’t realize it).

Episode 5: Phage

With dilithium reserves running low, Janeway follows Neelix’s advice and proceeds to the nearest supply. When they arrive in orbit, scans reveal a massive supply. When the away team transports down to the planet, there is none there. Cmdr. Chakotay orders the away team back to Voyager but before they return, Neelix is attacked by an alien (Vidiian) who removes his lungs! The Vidiians are potentially quite scary villains w/ advanced tech. The EMH then comes up with a solution – holographic lungs, but this means that Neelix has to stay in a restraint. Capt. Janeway along with Cmdr. Tuvok and a security attachment return to the planet to find the alien. They make a gruesome discovery- a lab full of alien organs!

Capt. Janeway: Take a message to your people: if I ever encounter your kind again, I will do whatever is necessary to protect my people from this… harvesting of yours. Any aggressive actions against this ship or its crew will be met by the deadliest force. Is that clear?

Episode 6: Eye of the Needle

[Telek R’Mor has admitted to not having seen his family for over a year]

Capt. Janeway: You must miss your family very much.

Telek R’Mor: I knew, when I accepted this assignment, that there would be a price to pay. Perhaps I didn’t realize how high that price would be.

The crew detects a wormhole and immediately changes course w/ hopes it will provide a faster passage home. Upon reaching the opening, the find it to be too small for the ship, but large enough to establish contact w/ a ship in the Alpha Quadrant. This is the first appearance of veteran ST guest actor Vaughn Armstrong in this series. He is playing the Romulan captain/scientist; he played Klingons and Cardassians in TNG and DS9.

This is the best ep of the (lackluster) S1 of the series. Like most new shows, the first few eps are a bit unclear, w/ characters still coming into their own and the writing lacking depth. Some critics/fans commented that these problems are esp. true of genre shows; the first seasons of TNG and DS9 weren’t impressive. Janeway’s talk at night (in a pink nightgown) w/ the Romulan is esp. well done; she gets the chance to talk to a peer and has some hope for the future.

The captain of the Romulan science vessel is named Telek (played by Vaughn Armstrong) in one of the most sympathetic portrayals of a Romulan in recent memory. Telek isn’t your typical villain personality, he’s a real person. Initially, he’s not forthcoming with assistance. He’s suspicious, and severely doubts Janeway’s claims that Voyager is transmitting from the Delta Quadrant. He wonders what a Federation ship could possibly gain from pretending to be in the Delta Quadrant.

-Excerpt from Jammer’s Reviews

Janeway is the most sympathetic and sincere captain that we have been presented with throughout all the series, and I feel that in her talk to the Romulan about the crew wanting to make contact with their families.

The best Star Trek makes you feel some emotion and this one succeeds in that regard.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 10: Prime Factors

Voyager makes friends with the Sikarians, a hospitable/pleasure-seeking alien race who value stories. When Janeway realizes they have the ability to “fold” space (instantly transporting people 40,000 light years), she is desperate for the technology. The Sikarians’ leaders, Gath, explains that their law forbids sharing their tech. Several Maquis refuse to give up on this chance to get over halfway home and try to make a trade. There are a few scenes where Gath (who comes off as too forward and a a bit creepy) is trying to get close to Janeway; some fans commented that the casting was off.

Capt. Janeway: It’s the first time we’ve been on the other side of the fence.

Lt. Tom Paris: What fence?

Capt. Janeway: The one that’s made of binding principles. We have our own set of rules, which includes the Prime Directive. How many times have we been in the position of refusing to interfere when some kind of disaster threatened an alien culture? It’s all very well to say we do it on the basis of an enlightened principle. But how does that feel to the aliens? I’m sure many of them think the Prime Directive is a lousy idea.

This ep’s writing was nominated for a Sci-Fi Universe Award. David R. George III and Eric A. Stillwell (freelancers) wrote an original story where the crew encountered the race that had dispatched Gary Seven in TOS: Assignment: Earth; they’d boasted transporter technology that could transport people over thousands of light-years. The events of this ep represent the second time (besides the premiere) that Voyager’s crew encounters the possibility of returning home.

[1] A very philosophical episode and one wonders if the Captain would still have been disappointed if the device had worked. But then when do the ends justify the means? Tough call.

[2] The crew really becomes human for this episode, almost sacrificing their personal bill of rights.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 11: State of Flux

Voyager answers a distress call from a Kazon-Nistrim ship, finding all but one of the crew dead in an explosion. Investigation reveals that the Kazon were experimenting w/ Federation tech (perhaps acquired from a traitor on the ship)! While discussing if Seska could be a Cardassian agent, Tuvok mentions that Starfleet has documented several cases of Cardassians using cosmetic alterations for the purposes of infiltrating an enemy (shown repeatedly in DS9). In this ep, we learn that Seska (Martha Hackett) and Chakotay are former lovers; she wishes to rekindle the romance (but he doesn’t).

Cmdr. Chakotay: The one thing I still can’t understand is… why?

Seska: I did it for you. I did it for this crew. We are alone here, at the mercy of any number of hostile aliens, because of the incomprehensible decision of a Federation captain – a Federation captain who destroyed our only chance to get home. Federation rules. Federation nobility. Federation compassion? Do you understand, if this had been a Cardassian ship, we would be home now! We must begin to forge alliances. To survive, we must have powerful friends. The Kazon-Nistrim were willing to be our protectors, in return for some minor technology.

It’s very unusual to see a villain in a Starfleet uniform, but this is a new world! Torres also feels betrayed by Seska- they were friends. Some viewers commented that (in a way) Seska could be right; Federation ways may not work in this area. Why wasn’t she put in the brig after they learned the truth? She just beamed out of sick bay so easily!

The exterior scenes of the cold open were filmed at Bronson Caves in Bronson Canyon. The leola root that was collected on the planet was made from a painted ginger root (as I assumed) w/ some additions to make it look more alien. The headdress that First Maje Cullah (Anthony De Longis) wore was mostly made out of sponges and dog chew toys- LOL! Torres’ line re: not exaggerating is a call-back to Scotty’s habit of exaggeration (which led to his becoming known as a miracle worker on TOS).

Beyond the Seska reveal we do get some good character development scenes. An early scene with Chakotay being a stickler about honesty in regards to the theft of the mushroom soup. Captain Janeway being a bad ass with the following quote directed at the Kazon, “I don’t like bullies, I don’t like threats and I don’t like you…” We get more Tuvok development as a dogged investigator who plans out a clever trap with the help of Chakotay.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 13: Faces

Lts. Paris, Torres, and Durst are imprisoned by the Vidiians. In an attempt to develop a cure for the phage, a Vidiian doctor splits Torres into two people (one Klingon and one Human) b/c he believes Klingons are immune to the Phage. The two escape the prison, but the Klingon Torres is fatally injured protecting the Human while she cracks the computer to escape. Before her death, the Klingon Torres tells her Human half that showing courage makes her death honorable. The Doctor tells the Human Torres that she will not survive unless he re-integrates her Klingon DNA.

Cmdr. Chakotay: I’d have to say that you two made quite a team down there.

Human B’Elanna Torres: I know. I came to admire a lot of things about her. Her strength – her bravery… I guess, I just have to accept the fact that I’ll spend the rest of my life fighting with her.

Tackling the ep was one of the first duties assigned to Kenneth Biller after he joined the writing staff. This ep was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series. Dawson dealt with the separation of her character’s personality, not only in her own mind, but also with copies of the episode’s script. She said, “I had two scripts, one labeled ‘The Klingon’ and the other labeled ‘The Human’. I went through each script, treated both as two totally separate people.”