“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 6)

Introduction

Long-time fans consider S6 to be one of the strongest of the series, along w/ S5. We get to see TNG characters- Barclay and Troi. I didn’t think the Borg children (aside from Echeb) were developed well; I wasn’t impressed w/ any the eps focused of these kids. It seems like the producers/writers just didn’t know what to do w/ them. As I’ve noted before, Trek doesn’t usually do very well w/ romance or children (aside from a few exceptions). The season finale is lackluster (if I’m being nice). As we’ve seen before, new aliens are introduced who could’ve been interesting villains (but then are never seen again). I liked the eps where the show makes fun of itself; VOY should’ve leaned on comedy more (as Robert Duncan McNeill commented on The Delta Flyers podcast). Oh and who could forget the famous fight (re: creative vision) between Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore!?

Season 6: Selected Episodes

Episode 1: Equinox, Part II

Cmdr. Chakotay: I don’t blame you for being angry, but you can’t compromise the safety of this ship to satisfy some personal vendetta.

Capt. Janeway: I appreciate your candor. Now let me be just as blunt: you’re right, I am angry. I’m damned angry. He’s a Starfleet captain, and he’s decided to abandon everything this uniform stands for. He’s out there right now, torturing and murdering innocent life forms just to get home a little quicker. I’m not gonna stand for it. I’m going to hunt him down, no matter how long it takes, no matter what the cost. If you wanna call that a vendetta, go right ahead.

Temporarily shielded from alien attack, Capt. Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) orders that their first priority is to find the Equinox, arrest Capt. Rudy Ransom (John Savage) and recover Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). Cmdr. Chakotay (Robert Beltran) disagrees, but goes along w/ her plan. Janeway’s obsession to stop Ransom has been compared by long-time fans and critics to Capt. Picard’s obsession to stop the Borg in the TNG movie- First Contact. Janeway’s arguments w/ Chakotay really made me take notice; it’s been a while since a memorable interaction between them (as captain and first officer facing a problem).

The action and directing (by David Livingston) keeps things at a good pace. As many viewers thought, it’s a bit troubling to see Federation starships firing at each other. After the Voyager crew captures two of Ransom’s away team on a planet, Janeway brings Crewman Noah Lessing (Rick Worthy) into a cargo bay for questioning. She wants to know Ransom’s tactical status; he refuses to talk. Janeway threatens to lower the shields and turn the aliens loose on Lessing. Chakotay stands by for a while, thinking that she’s bluffing. Nope- she has become scary (no joke)!

“What’s happened to you, Kathryn?” Chakotay asks at one point. I wanted to ask the same question. I haven’t seen this Janeway before. She doesn’t answer to anyone. With no Starfleet watching over her shoulder, how could she be stopped if she continued down such a dangerous path?

…although Janeway pushes the envelope of her authority oh-so-far (as do the writers, really), there’s an awareness buried somewhere beneath Janeway’s madness- she simply wants what’s just. Unfortunately, the price is too high and she almost completely loses Chakotay’s confidence in the process.

-Jammer’s Reviews

The Equinox EMH (posing as The Doctor) keeps in contact w/ Ransom. The Doctor (Robert Picardo), on-board the Equinox w/ his ethical subroutines disabled, begins surgery on Seven to will extract info (which will destroy her brain). Ransom doesn’t want to do it, but says he has “no choice.” He already devalued the lives of aliens, but can he let a fellow human die?

Janeway finds the Ankari (the alien race that can summon their “Spirits of Good Fortune”), makes contact w/ the spirit-aliens, and agrees to turn over Equinox in exchange for her ship’s safety. (Sadly, the CGI used on these creatures has not aged well.) Tuvok objects, saying it will mean certain death for the Equinox crew. Janeway coldly replies: “I’ve already confined my first officer to quarters. Would you like to join him?” Wow, I was not expecting that!

Ransom decides to surrender to Janeway, but Lt. Maxwell Burke (Titus Welliver) stages a mutiny. In Part I, Burke had some interesting scenes with Lt. B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) which made him seem like a 3-dimensional character. Here, he just serves the plot and comes off as a sociopath. Burke and a few others are killed by aliens while trying to reach the shuttle bay. Ransom is killed when ship (heavily damaged by spirit-aliens) explodes. Five of his crew are brought aboard Voyager (incl. Lessing and Ensign Marla Gilmore- she helped Ransom after the mutiny). They’re stripped of rank and will get limited privileges, until they can prove themselves to their new captain/crew.

This was the first ep on which writer Ronald D. Moore worked, having transferred to the writers’ room after the end of DS9. He’d later rework this concept into Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus. While working on this ep, Moore had asked: “Is Janeway going to be captain forever, like a dictator? They should’ve put Janeway on trial.” The producers, incl. his friend/showrunner Brannon Braga, didn’t want to explore this issue. That’s why we get the reset button, not character continuity (as Moore wanted). The final scene on the bridge shows us that Janeway regrets how far she crossed the line. She admits quietly to Chakotay that he might’ve had good reason for his own mutiny. There is some nice symbolism of the fallen plaque; Janeway almost “fell down” herself in this story.

[1] In a way, “Equinox” is a comment on the entire series of Voyager itself. UPN and Paramount chose NOT to have Voyager become this “Lord of the Flies” in space. They chose NOT to make Voyager believe their own premise. Equinox is kind of like the Voyager that could have been…

[2] …if you remove the Doctor’s “ethical sub routines” surely he still retains friendships, loyalties and so on. Look at Equinox’s Doctor he stays loyal to his crew to the end. All too simple.

[3] I caught Janeway and Chakotay’s bust-up in the briefing room… It’s a great scene, and yet it signifies everything that was wrong with Voyager.[…] At the end of the episode, it’s all forgotten. Janeway offers no apology, and Chakotay doesn’t show even a small amount of resentment. Something that could have divided them for a few episodes, maybe even the entire season, was quickly glossed over.

-Comments posted on Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 2: Survival Instinct

Janeway: [reading the morning’s Security report] Hmm, some of these incidents ARE a little more serious, but on balance, I still think we did the right thing.

Tuvok: There is a third page.

Chakotay: Come on, Tuvok. After all the xenophobic races we’ve run into, don’t you find it just a little refreshing to meet some people who value openness and freedom?

Voyager docks at a space outpost with a variety of Delta Quadrant species. Eager for cultural exchange and friendly interactions, Janeway grants leave to the crew and the rolls out the welcome mat for visitors. Despite a few minor incidents, all seems to go well, until an alien approaches Seven holding Borg synaptic relays from her original unimatrix. Seeing them overwhelms Seven w/ images and memories of when she was last in contact with these items. This is the first of two eps written by TNG/DS9 writer by Moore.

Marika: I can’t wait to use my real name again.

Seven: There is nothing preventing you from doing so.

Lansor: Except that most of the time, I don’t know whether my name is Marika, P’Chan or Lansor. The names, the memories…

P’Chan: …the memories, even the thoughts flow from one to the other.

Marika: I can’t love or hate, or laugh…

MarikaLansor: …or cry without sharing it with them.

This ep is like a breath of fresh air- we see dozens of new aliens/costumes, three guest stars, and learn how assimilation (a traumatic violation) has affected them as individuals. The alien who brings the suitcase of Borg attachments is one of the MVPs of Trek- Vaughn Armstrong. The Bajoran woman, Marika Willkarah (Bertila Damas), served on the USS Excalibur– the ship was commanded by Riker in TNG: Redemption II (written by Moore). The youngest of this group, P’Chan (Tim Kelleher), is soft-spoken man who used to be caregiver for parents. In flashback scenes, we see Seven and these three Borg when they were separated (temporarily) from the Collective. While these Borg reflected on their previous lives, Seven got scared and told them to stop, as they were all Borg now. These three aliens (unlike Seven) were assimilated as adults.

Episode 4: Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy

[The Doctor has filed a formal grievance, along w/ a request to be made captain in the event of a catastrophic emergency]

Janeway: I don’t want anybody to be uncomfortable on this ship. I guess we should all try to be a little more considerate of his feelings.

Tom: Captain, he does it to himself. He’s Chief Medical Officer. Is it our fault that’s not enough for him?

The Doctor’s experiment with daydreaming gets out of control when an alien race compromises his program. The aliens consult their command (The Hierarchy) before attacking any passing ships. One of the aliens, mistaking the daydreams for reality, gets permission to attack. Upon realizing his mistake, he offers to help Voyager, but only if The Doctor is in command. 

The Doctor [in one of his daydreams]: Thank you for this opportunity, Captain. All I’ve ever wanted was to live up to my full potential, to hone all my skills, expand my abilities, to help the people I love.

This is just a funny/highly-rated ep w/ a core of seriousness (The Doctor, who is a hologram, wants more responsibility on the ship). Picardo gets to wear the command uniform (red color) and gets four pips on his collar. The Doctor can wow the crew w/ his singing and also save a life. All the women in the main cast are interested in him- LOL! We see a homage to a scene in Titanic (the hit movie that came out a year before) where The Doctor is painting Seven. This ep was written by Trek veteran Joe Menosky.

Episode 7: Dragon’s Teeth

Chakotay: [on seeing the hundreds of stasis pods of the Vaadwaur] Dragon’s teeth.

Janeway: “Dragon’s teeth?”

Chakotay: An old Greek myth. After a dragon was killed in a war, its teeth were spread out over the battlefield. They took root, and warriors sprung from the ground to continue the fighting.

Voyager is pushed into a sub-space corridor by the Turei (a xenophobic alien race), who claim ownership of this part of space. After refusing to allow the wiping of data re: the corridors, the ship lands on a nearby planet. Here (almost 900 yrs ago) the Vaadwaur (another alien race) sought shelter from a nuclear war by going into stasis pods, intent on waking up 5 yrs later. This ep may remind viewers of the premise of TOS: Space Seed; it was written by Michael Taylor.

Gedrin: I’m curious. Have you heard of us, the Vaadwaur?

Neelix: Um, I’m afraid there aren’t many records from that period, but “vaadwaur” is a word in the Old Tongue; it means, uh… “foolish.”

I thought the Vaadwaur makeup was unique/intricate; the costumes looked futuristic (but not in a hokey way). Seven wakes Gedrin (Jeff Allin), but his wife (sadly) lies dead in her pod. Gedrin seems like a good guy (but we can’t be sure); he says that his people traded and traveled great distances. Soon, more of the Vaadwaur wake up, incl. a warrior named Gaul (Robert Knepper); he was seen in TNG: Haven as the doctor who almost had an arranged marriage w/ Troi. The Vaadwaur claim they are the true owners of the corridors which they used for trade; the Turei attacked them so they could gain control.

Gedrin: You are not at all like the Borg I knew.

Seven: As a drone, I helped assimilate many civilizations. Now I have the opportunity to help reconstruct one. I find the experience… gratifying.

Neelix (in an useful role) remembers that the Vaadwaur were mentioned in ancient Talaxian legends; he does some computer searching and discovers that they were a race to be feared. These legends also match information Seven finds in the Borg database. Janeway has to decide which of the two aliens represent the greater threat, if the crew are to get off the planet. The Prime Directive is ignored and not even mentioned at any point. Some noted that the action scenes don’t make sense (but I’m not an expert in that area of Trek).

Episode 8: One Small Step

Janeway: As a Borg, you didn’t study the past- you ingested it. You’ve never really developed an appreciation for humanity’s history. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to do some exploring of your own.

Seven of Nine: Are you ordering me to join this mission?

Janeway: Let’s just say, I’m encouraging you to volunteer.

Voyager encounters a graviton ellipse, a phenomenon that emerges from subspace on rare occasions. The anomaly engulfed a vessel during a Mars mission in 2032; Chakotay is determined to retrieve the debris. Chakotay, Paris, and Seven take the Delta Flyer in, but when an asteroid strikes, Chakotay (obsessed with retrieving the module) disobeys Janeway’s order to leave. The Flyer is flightless as the ellipse prepares to return to subspace. This ep was written by four different people, incl. Bryan Fuller and Michael Taylor.

The Doctor reminisces about Arrakis Prime; Arrakis is the spice planet from Frank Herbert’s Dune novels. Buck Bokai, mentioned in one of the baseball discussions, is the fictitious baseball player best known in DS9. Guest star Phil Morris (who plays astronaut John Kelly) has literally grown up with Star Trek, and has played several supporting roles throughout his life, including one of the children in TOS: Miri, a Starfleet cadet in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, a Klingon bodyguard in DS9: Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places, and a Jem’Hadar soldier in  Rocks and Shoals. Beltran stated in an interview (on his website) that he was looking forward to filming this ep, as it provided a rare development of Chakotay’s character. His excitement turned frustration when the majority of the ep was given over to Seven’s character development.

Janeway: Space. Literally it means ‘nothing’ – a vacuum between stars and planets. But by the same token, it means everything. It’s what connects all our worlds – Vulcan, Qo’noS, Talax, Earth. Centuries ago, mankind sent its first wave of explorers into that void – astronauts like Mr. Kelly. They paved the way for the first colonies, the first starships, for those of us who’ve made space our home. We commend the spirit and the bravery of Lt. John Mark Kelly, as we commit his body… to space. He will not be forgotten.

As Seven listens to Lt. Kelly’s tapes we see her gradually change her attitude. …Seven begins to understand the concept of what it meant to be a true explorer and hero. She comes to appreciate sacrifice and selfless dedication exhibited by Kelley, as he states his mission isn’t a failure and continues to explore, with the clear realization the fruits of his labor would never be seen… She comes to realize that Kelley was an individual that chose to take this risk for the betterment of humanity.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 10: Pathfinder

Barclay: Ever since I… I left the Enterprise, things haven’t… haven’t been the same. It’s as if… I lost my family.

Lt. Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz) has found a new obsession- returning Voyager and her crew. When Enterprise visits Earth, Barclay reunites with his counselor/friend, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), recalling the events leading up to his dismissal and ban from the research (The Pathfinder Project). This ep was written by David Zabel (a veteran of TV) and Ken Biller (writer/producer). This is the first of several eps featuring Barclay and Troi; many viewers commented that they had better story arcs in this series than on TNG!

Barclay: You know what I am always saying: If you can’t stand the heat…
Kim (hologram): Get out of the warp core!

Although Starfleet has adopted their new-style uniform for 3 yrs during the time, people can be seen outside Starfleet HQ wearing the older uniforms; it’s a recycled shot from DS9: Homefront. Richard Herd (who passed away in 2020) has played the recurring role of Adm. Owen Paris; he also played the Klingon L’Kor in TNG: Birthright. A shot of McNeill as Nicholas Locarno from TNG: The First Duty was used as the photo of Paris on Adm. Paris’ desk. Barclay’s holographic imagination of the main characters is based on how they looked before leaving the Alpha Quadrant. Janeway has her original (“bun of steel”) hairstyle, Chakotay and B’Elanna Torres are wearing Maquis leathers (not Starfleet uniforms). Neelix and Seven, who were added to the crew in the Delta Quadrant, do not appear (though Barclay’s cat is named Neelix).

Adm. Paris: Why the long face, Mr. Barclay?
Barclay: Because… because, it’s over, sir.
Adm. Paris: No, lieutenant. I’d say that Project Voyager is just beginning. Thanks to you.

This is a fun ep where we get to see Barclay as a hero- who would’ve imagined!? It’s important to the series (as a whole) b/c Voyager finally gets to talk to Starfleet- YAY! I like the relationship between Barclay and Troi; they are friends, but she also serves as a counselor to him (as on TNG). I liked the design of Barclay’s apt. in San Fran; he just needed to spend some time on decor. Troi still loves chocolate (Barclay offers her ice cream).

It is Broccoli’s multiplex infirmities that brought TNG to level human ground, in that he was probably the most realistic human character of that whole show- and his insecurities mix with his imagination to reveal a complex person. And in true Broccoli style, Schulz slams a home run in this Voyager episode. But there can be no Barclay episode without Counselor Troi, and her ability to set Barclay back on his feet.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

It was surreal, really weird. I didn’t get to work with any of the Voyager cast because all my scenes were on Earth with Dwight [….] The [production] crew was virtually the same as we had for two or three seasons, so I knew everybody and everybody knew me. And with Dwight, I was working with someone from The Next Generation, so it was almost as though I’d gone back in time. It was so strange, but so much fun. Of course, I got all depressed when it was over and I had to leave! [….] The crew on Voyager […] said to me, ‘We really miss you guys.-Marina Sirtis

Episode 12: Blink of an Eye

Chakotay: If there’s an intelligent species down there, we’ll be able to track their development, not just for days or weeks, but for centuries.

B’Elanna: Watch them discover new and better ways of beating each other over the head.

Chakotay: They won’t necessarily follow the Klingon model.

B’Elanna: As opposed to the human model?

Voyager is trapped in orbit above a strange planet where time passes thousands of times faster than in the surrounding galaxy. As the population of the planet evolves, Voyager becomes an integral part of their culture. Eventually, they develop technology that allows them to send someone to the “Sky Ship.” This ep was written by Joe Menosky from a story by Michael Taylor. TOS had an ep entitled Wink of an Eye where Scalosians, moving too fast to be seen or heard (other than a faint buzzing sound), board Enterprise and abduct Capt. Kirk.

Gotana-Retz: [singing a childhood prayer-song] Star of the night / Star of the day / Come to take my tears away / Make my life always bright.

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. The storyline is largely the same as the plot of the 1980 novel Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward, with some minor variations (EX: the lifeforms were on a pulsar, not a rapidly spinning planet, and the time differential was much greater). Obi Ndefo (Kelemane- the protector) previously played Drex, son of the Klingon warrior Martok, in DS9: The Way of the Warrior. The tall/handsome Korean-American actor, Daniel Dae Kim (DDK), plays astronaut Gotana-Retz; he’d later play the recurring role of Corporal Chang in Enterprise.

Gotana-Retz: Without the Sky Ship up above them, my people might lose interest in progress. There wouldn’t be anything left to reach for.

Seven of Nine: Perhaps they’ll miss Voyager so much, they’ll do everything they can to follow us.

I loved this ep- it was interesting, intelligent, and touching! I liked the varied settings, costumes, and set design (as the planet progressed). DDK gave a fine/memorable performance; some of you may know from Lost or the rom com 2019 Almost Be My Maybe (starring Allie Wong and Randall Park). I esp. liked DDK’s scene w/ Mulgrew in her ready room; they had some good chemistry. This was the only ep directed by Gabrielle Beaumont; she went on to do 7 eps of DS9.

[1] ..this was my favorite Voyager episode ever made. The story was perfect for an episode of Star Trek and the only thing disappointing about it was that it should’ve been a two-part episode giving more time to focus on the inhabitants of the world as they worship the “Skyship.” At times I even think this could’ve passed as a Star Trek Movie plot. […] This episode also should be noted for it’s greatness because although there was a small bit of conflict at the end, this episode focused more on problem solving rather than space battles. Also it didn’t rely on the return of old favorites (Borg, Q, etc.) to make it good.

[2] Fans of The Doctor will get an especially good kick out of this episode as he achieves some sort of humanity. It’ll give you a warm smile, much in the way Data’s quest for humanity did for many TNG fans.

For me, the ending is the best part of the episode. It’ll make you feel warm, happy and sad. An extremely great story that manages to put itself among the best of the Star Trek episodes.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 20: Good Shepherd

Chakotay: There are always a few who don’t make it past their first year on a starship. Normally they’re reassigned, but in our case, maybe we should relieve them of duty and let them pursue their own interests. It certainly wouldn’t hurt general efficiency.

Janeway: They aren’t drones, Chakotay. We can’t just deactivate them.

In Seven’s report on ship-wide efficiency, she brings to the captain’s attention 3 “black sheep” crewmen who’ve slipped through the cracks. Mortimer Harren (former child actor Jay Underwood) is an overqualified/unenthused engineer, Tal Celes is the Bajoran w/ no confidence in herself, and her pal William Telfer is a hypochondriac. Seeking to guide her strays back to the flock, Janeway orders them to join her on an away mission to a Class T nebula in the Delta Flyer. Anxiety strikes when the know-it-all Harren gets sensor data wrong, Tal is plagued w/ worry, and an intrusive alien gives Telfer a real medical emergency.

Janeway: That’s the nature of space exploration. It’s unpredictable.

Mortimer Harren: Which is why I don’t like space exploration. Stumbling from star to star like a… a drunken insect careening toward a light source is not my idea of a dignified existence.

Some viewers compared this ep to Lower Decks on TNG (one of the few TNG eps I haven’t seen yet). While the Enterprise D ((TNG) was filled w/ the best and the brightest, not all the crew on Voyager come from the top of Starfleet Academy. Don’t’ forget that about 1/3 of them are former Maquis, too. Several viewers found Harren unlikeable, esp, b/c he acts disrespectful to Janeway; the actor did a fine job.

Episode 21: Live Fast and Prosper

Tom: Why didn’t we see this coming?

Neelix: Orphans! It’s the oldest gambit in the book!

Tom: I-I mean, if it’d been Harry, I could understand it, he trusts everybody; but you and me?

The Voyager crew is the victim of identity theft. A clever trio of con artists (claiming to be Janeway, Chakotay, and Tuvok) are making trades all over the quadrant and giving Voyager a bad name. When they skip out on the bill, the collectors demand payment from the real Voyager. Once Janeway has her doppelganger in custody, Neelix “accidently” lets her escape, allowing the real captain to run her own double-cross. 

Dala: The great Captain Janeway. Somehow I expected you to be… taller. I make a better you than you.

This is one of the few LOL eps of the series! The con woman, Dala (Kaitlin Hopkins), does a great impression of Janeway. I learned that Hopkins is the daughter of veteran actress Shirley Knight (wow)! Mulgrew and Hopkins have great chemistry in their scenes. This ep is directed by LeVar Burton- another reason to check it out.

Episode 22: Muse

Crash-landed on an alien planet while scouting for dilithium, B’Elanna finds herself held captive by Kelis (Joseph Will), a poet who believes her an “Eternal” sent from Heaven to be his muse. As she lay unconscious for days from injuries, he took her logs and wrote a (Greek-style) play- “The Away Mission of B’Elanna Torres,” which his starving acting troupe performed before a patron who wants more (in a week). B’Elanna strikes a deal: if he will retrieve some “winter’s tears” (dilithium), she will tell him more stories about “Shining Voyager, Far From Home.”

Kelis: [about the types of artifice in theater] Mistaken identity – a character who is someone else. Discovery – the moment when that identity is revealed. Reversal- a situation that turns from good to bad in a blink of an eye.

Chorus #1: [entering] Find the truth of your story, and you won’t need all those tricks. [to Torres] I don’t know how things are done across the Eastern Sea, but here, poets have become lazy. They rely on manipulation to move their audience. It wasn’t always that way.

This was one of my fave eps of the season; I’m surprised that many don’t like it! The teleplay was written by Menosky; I usually enjoy his work on Trek. Kelis’ theatre is based on a 5th c. BC Athenian theatre. The masks the actors use are really made to look like their characters. Veteran actors Tony Amendola and John Schuck (who appeared in TOS movies, DS9, and Enterprise) are part of the chorus seen mainly in the background. I’m sure they were quite impressed w/ this script (to take such small roles). Here is my fave scene below!

Kelis: Today, audiences want excitement… passion! Let me show you what I’ve done with Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay. [to his troupe] Let’s make a good impression on our visitor. [Tanis and Jero run through a scene]

Tanis: [as Janeway] Chakotay, why must I be denied what every other female officer on this ship can have?

Jero : [as Chakotay] Captain?

Tanis: The privilege of your touch. [they kiss; B’Elanna, aghast, doesn’t know what to say]

Episode 24: Life Line

Seven: [looking at Dr. Zimmerman’s profile] You bear a striking resemblance.

The Doctor: He used his own physical parameters as a model for my matrix. Can’t say I blame him. A doctor needs to inspire confidence in his patients. Compassionate eyes and a strong chin can go a long way.

The Pathfinder Project makes use of a pulsar and the MIDAS Array, allowing a data stream to reach Voyager (and Voyager to reply) every 32 days. Lt. Barclay sends a letter to The Doctor asking for a second opinion on Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, the eccentric genius who created the template for The Doctor’s program and is terminally ill (w/ no known cure in the Alpha Quadrant). After reviewing the medical record, The Doctor believes he can cure Zimmerman and convinces Janeway to risk sending him through the data stream. However, The Doctor finds his maker to be his most difficult patient, insisting The Doctor’s program is obsolete. Barclay recruits Troi to counsel them before Zimmerman’s time runs out.

Zimmerman: Reginald was right about you. You HAVE exceeded the sum of your programing. You’ve accomplished far more than I would have ever predicted but, let’s face facts, you never overcame the inherent flaws in your personality subroutines. You’re arrogant, irritable – a “jerk,” as Counselor Troi would say.

The Doctor: I believe she was describing YOU as well.

Zimmerman: Don’t change the subject.

This is another ep w/ Zimmerman, Barclay, and Troi (always like seeing her). Many viewers found it both humorous and touching, as we see Picardo does well in dual roles and we face w/ a serious issue (death). The almost father-son dynamic between Zimmerman and The Doctor comes off as natural (not annoying).

Episode 26: Unimatrix Zero, Part I

Simultaneously, as Voyager nears an alien outpost decimated by the Borg, Seven begins to dream vividly of an idyllic sanctuary where a few Borg can gather subconsciously- Unimatrix Zero.

[Janeway plans to save the drones in Unimatrix Zero]

Janeway: Chakotay… we’ve had our disagreements – and there have been times when I’ve chosen to proceed without your support – but this can’t be one of those times. I won’t do this without my First Officer.

Chakotay: The way I see it, risking the safety of Voyager is a small price to pay. We help these people, this could be the turning point in our battle against the Borg.

Janeway: I’m glad we agree, because I almost talked myself out of it.

Chakotay: Somehow I don’t think you were ever in danger of doing that.

Um, yeah, this IS the season finale! When I first saw it, I was disappointed (and a bit bored); on rewatch, it didn’t come off any better. The love interest for Seven, Axum (Mark Deakins), was so bland and boring! There is zero chemistry between Axum and Seven (who has thus far avoided romance). Several viewers joked that they’d seen more realistic/scarier Klingons doing cosplay than Gen. Korok (Jerome Butler). This is one of the cases where you have to wonder: “Do these actors you have a back-up job?” Also, how does Gen. Korok have a weapon (bat’leth) in this dream world? It doesn’t make sense; there are other goofs in this ep (which you can see for yourself).

Socially Conscious Noir: “Crossfire” (1947) starring Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, & Robert Ryan

Homicide Capt. Finlay (Robert Young) finds evidence that one or more of a group of soldiers is involved in the death of a middle-aged/kindly Jewish man, Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene). In flashbacks, we see the night’s events from different viewpoints, as Army Sgt. Keeley (a youngish Robert Mitchum) investigates on his own, trying to clear the sensitive/young Mitchell, to whom circumstantial evidence points. Then the real (and ugly) motive for the killing begins to dawn on both Finlay and Keeley. This was the breakout role for Robert Ryan, who played Montgomery, one of the experienced/jaded soldiers. Ryan didn’t like the negative aspects of his character- that resulted in him being typecast in villain roles. In real life, Ryan was a liberal progressive actively involved in the Civil Rights movement. A very young Gloria Grahame (who was loaned from MGM) plays a dancehall girl who meets Mitchell.

Finlay: Hating is always the same, always senseless. One day it kills Irish Catholics, the next day Jews, the next day Protestants, the next day Quakers. It’s hard to stop. It can end up killing men who wear striped neckties. Or people from Tennessee.

The film is based on Richard Brooks’ first novel, The Brick Foxhole (1945), written while he was a sergeant in the Marine Corps. One of the subplots dealt w/ homophobia, but that was changed to anti-Semitism. The decision was made by producer Adrian Scott (who purchased the rights) knowing that any depiction of homosexuality would not pass the Hayes Code. Brooks would write the screenplays for other notable noirs, incl. The Killers (1946) (uncredited), Brute Force (1947), Key Largo (1948), and Mystery Street (1950). Due to of the film’s tight (24 day) shooting schedule, it was able to beat the similarly-themed Gentleman’s Agreement to theaters by 3-1/2 months and stole some of its thunder. However, Oscar acclaim went to Gentleman’s Agreement, which won 3 out of its 8 noms, incl. Best Picture. Crossfire was overlooked; it had 5 noms. It has been suggested that one reason it didn’t win any Oscars was director Edward Dmytryk and Scott’s testimony before HUAC in late 1947. They refused to state whether they were, or had been, Communists and were subsequently blacklisted.

[1] Ryan, creates a fully shaded and frighteningly convincing portrait of an ignorant, unstable bigot; we see his phony geniality, his bullying, his resentment of anyone with advantages, his “Am I right or am I right?” smugness; how easily he slaps labels on people and what satisfaction he gets from despising them.

CROSSFIRE’s message seems cautious and dated now, though not nearly so much as GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT. […] The script seems afraid to mention any real contemporary problems. […] Still, it did take some guts to depict, immediately after World War II, an American who might have been happier in the Nazi army, and the movie’s basic premise is still valid.

[2] Crossfire is a “message” movie but it is also a cracking good drama, and that’s what I enjoyed about it. Plus the cast is dynamite – Roberts Preston, Mitchum and Ryan, and the beautiful Gloria Grahame. Mitchum doesn’t have a big a role as you might expect (the movie was released the same year as Out Of The Past in which he gives a much more substantial performance), but he’s always great to watch, and Robert Ryan steals the movie as a very nasty piece of work.

[3] As late as 1947, it was a big deal for a movie to announce that anti-Semitism existed, and that it was bad. (It was unthinkable, of course, for Hollywood to address the real subject of the book on which the movie was based- its victim was a homosexual.) Nevertheless, thanks to good writing and excellent acting, CROSSFIRE remains a persuasive examination of what we would now call a hate crime.

-Excerpts from IMBD reviews

Suburban Life Can Be Murder: “Crime of Passion” (1956) starring Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, & Raymond Burr

A successful advice columnist at The San Francisco Post, Kathy Ferguson (Barbara Stanwyck- 50 and looking fab), is an independent woman w/ no intention of ever getting married. She meets LAPD detective, Lt. Bill Doyle (Sterling Hayden- age 40), during the investigation of a prominent case (which is resolved w/ her help). Sparks fly, they fall in love, and decide to get married (too fast). Kathy quits her job and moves to LA to be a housewife.

Bill is close to his colleagues and their wives; they have regular dinner parties at his home. The banal conversations of these women are almost unbearable for Kathy, who has worked mainly around men and (perhaps) prefers their company. The cops’ wives seem frivolous; she’d feel more comfortable playing cards w/ the men rather than trading recipes with the women. The lack of ambition on Bill’s part push Kathy to a scheme to improve his prospects in the police dept. Kathy “accidentally” has a fender bender on the street where Inspector Anthony Pope (Raymond Burr- also 40 and slimmed down) and his wife Alice (Fay Wray of King Kong fame) live. Social climbing, scheming, and more ensue!

Some women should just not get married; nowadays, there are other routes to follow. This unique movie combines elements of film noir and domestic melodrama. Some viewers have called it “proto-feminist” and “ahead of its time.” I thought that writing was intelligent and also witty at times; the screenplay was by a woman- Jo Eisinger. This is the last film noir for both Stanwyck and Burr; they’d transition to working primarily in TV and appearing only occasionally in movies. Burr moved from the “heavy” (shady/villainous) types he played in films to heroic defense attorney in Perry Mason.

[1] …turns out to be a fairly interesting, sexually frank, compact little noir, featuring a once-in-a-lifetime cast. Stanwyck… is as intense as ever (she always gave her all in every picture); Hayden is his typically macho, upright self; Raymond Burr, playing Hayden’s boss, is a tad less sleazy than usual but still not to be trusted…

[2] Sharper socially than even Fritz Lang’s late noirs, “Crime of Passion” reminds us of the “nostalgia” for the “happy family values” of the 1950’s for the wishful (?) thinking that it is. Stanwyck’s slow descent into middle-class torpor and madness (she’s a sharp, witty, intelligent woman who saddles herself with a maddeningly boring and conventional cop husband, played nicely against type by Sterling Hayden) lays bare the social nightmare presented to women desiring anything but the conventional patriarchal lifestyle…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: TNG” (Season 1) – Top 5 Episodes

Introduction

S1 of the American sci-fi TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) started airing in broadcast syndication in the US on September 28, 1987, and concluded on May 16, 1988 (after 26 episodes were broadcast). Set in the 24th c. the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Starfleet starship Enterprise-D. It was the first live-action TV series in the franchise to be broadcast since Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) was cancelled in 1969; it was also the first to feature all new characters. Paramount Television eventually sought the advice of the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, who set about creating the new show w/ mostly former TOS staff members. An entirely new cast were sought, which concerned some members of TOS crew, as Roddenberry did not want to re-tread the same steps as he had in the first series. Aliens such as Vulcans, Klingons and Romulans were banned at first.

The characters in the series gradually changed during preproduction, with adjustments made to the names, genders and ethnicity. When the cast was announced at first, LeVar Burton was the main actor highlighted because of his work on the Roots miniseries; his character, Geordi La Forge was named for a disabled fan. Although the casting was managed by producers Rick Berman and Robert H. Justman, Roddenberry intervened to switch the characters assigned to Marina Sirtis and Denise Crosby. Sirtis took over Crosby’s role as Deanna Troi, and Crosby became Tasha Yar (previously named Macha Hernandez). Michael Dorn (who came from a musical theater background) played Lt. Cmdr. Worf- the first Klingon in Starfleet. Worf would go on to be developed more in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as would transporter chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney).

Behind the scenes, the writing team became chaotic; Roddenberry’s insistence on re-writing scripts and other behavior alienated some staff. Longtime contributor D.C. Fontana quit, filing a claim with the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) as she had been acting as story editor (but was unpaid in the role). The series had a problem recruiting potential writers; by the end of S2, all the writing staff recruited during S1 (except for Rick Berman) had quit. While highly anticipated, initial reviews other than for “Encounter at Farpoint” were poor. The second episode, “The Naked Now” had fans and critics concerned that TNG would re-hash plots of The Original Series; “Code of Honor” was seen as racist.

Episode 1: Encounter at Farpoint

They bloody hated us. -Marina Sirtis recalled (in 2002, while doing publicity for Star Trek: Nemesis) re: critical reception to TNG debut

Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) assumes command of the Federation’s flagship (the U.S.S. Enterprise), and its new crew w/ both humans and non-humans races. On the way to Farpoint space station on the Bandi planet, they come under the control of Q (John de Lancie), an alien from a superior civilization. Q calls humanity backward savages and puts the crew to a test. The Bandi leader, Zorn, offers use of the facilities, but no answers to how the station was built and what are the troubling feelings Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) is picking up.

I think the Q thing did come out of a time requirement, but there isn’t any question in my mind that the best thing in the show is that Q story. If it had been only that other story, it would have been a disappointment. The other thing that comes out of ‘Farpoint’ is a vision of Roddenberry’s where we have Picard arguing for the future of mankind, representing the advocate of humanity to this Q who puts humanity on trial. That’s an extraordinary, philosophically ambitious idea, and it really helps to define why Star Trek is what it is. Without that, it would have been spaceships and monsters and special effects. -Michael Piller

Jonathan Frakes wasn’t the first choice for Riker; Rodenberry preferred Billy Campbell (see S2, E4: The Outrageous Okana). The producers liked Frakes better; Christopher MacDonald (see S3 E15: Yesterday’s Enterprise) and Jeffrey Combs (who became a frequent ST character actor) also auditioned for Riker. The intro scene of Riker and Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis), as well as subsequent follow-up dialogue, was almost identical to that of Decker and Ilia in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In the second half of this ep, after Riker thanks a female ensign for helping him locate Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner) and walks away from the computer panel, she does a (very obvious) downward glance at his butt (checking him out).

DeForest Kelley’s cameo (the actor’s final role) as Admiral McCoy was a late addition to the script devised by Roddenberry. Producer Robert Justman (who also worked on TOS) noted that Kelley was honored and refused more than SAG scale salary. This ep is the first mention of the “Ferengi Alliance” who are hinted at being an enemy of the Federation; they were intended to be the new villains (b/c peace had been made w/ Klingons). This idea was eventually abandoned after the Ferengi made their appearance and weren’t taken seriously (by actors and writers). This marks the first time that a saucer separation is seen onscreen; the reason why it was so rare to see the Enterprise-D separate is b/c writers found out it slowed the story down. At one point, Picard gives an order for Worf to raises shields. A “shield raising” sound effect is heard for the only time in the series. Also, Picard orders “print outs,” which are never seen onscreen or mentioned again.

The teleplay was written by Fontana and Rodenberry (“he added all the Q stuff,” Fontana explained). Fontana’s first story “Meeting at Farpoint” had several different storylines and names. The Enterprise-D had just completed a successful mission. The captain was named Julien Picard, the first officer was Kyle Summers, and security chief was Macha Hernandez. Summers was promoted to captain and was up to take command of the science vessel (Starseeker) at Farpoint Station. While in orbit of the station, crew transfers included Lt. Cmdr. William Riker, Lt. Cmdr. Data, Dr. Beverly Crusher and her 15 y.o. old daughter Leslie. Riker and Data share a deep friendship. An alien vessel appeared and sent a message that all personnel had to beam to the planet or die. The captain of the Starseeker fires photon torpedoes at the vessel resulting in the destruction of his ship. At Picard’s orders, the crew of the Enterprise-D beamed to the surface and made contact to their enemy, the Annoi, an ape-like species w/ superior technology. The Annoi made the crew and the inhabitants of Farpoint their slaves to mine a mineral- Balmin. An away team incl. Data, Riker, Troi and Hernandez get aboard the Annoi ship w/ the help of Leslie Crusher’s knowledge about the ship’s layout. Troi then learned that there is no engineering room aboard, as the ship is a lifeform. This lifeform was enslaved by the Annoi and needs Balmin to survive.

Episode 5: Where No One Has Gone Before

Lt. Commander Data: Captain, we’re here. Why not avail ourselves of this opportunity for study? There is a giant protostar here in the process of forming. No other vessel has been out this far.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Spoken like a true Starfleet graduate.

Riker considers Federation scientist Kosinski’s (Stanley Kamel) project to boost the ship’s propulsion absurd, Picard obeys the Admiralty’s orders. Kosinski never wears a communicator, even though he is in a Starfleet uniform. This is unusual, but many details indicate that Kosinski is a civilian (the insignia, being called an “expert” or “Mr.” Fascinated by this process, Wesley sits w/ his alien assistant (Eric Menyuk) and they become friendly. The results jump the ship into a galaxy millions of light year away! Deciding against immediate study, Picard orders Kosinski to get them back. Only Wesley notices that his assistant, who “fades” supernaturally, is the real key. The next jump brings them to a place everyone’s hopes or fears come to reality. The alien assistant grows weak and and reveals his “Traveler” identity. Wesley is rewarded w/ the role of acting ensign; he can come on the bridge and will study for the Starfleet Academy entrance exam. This ep is considered by many to be the original premise behind the series Star Trek: Voyager.

Riker: Then why, in all of our history, is there no record of you or someone like you ever having visited us?

The Traveler: What wonderful arrogance! There is no record because we have not visited you before.

Riker: Why not?

The Traveler: Well, because, up until now – if-if you’ll forgive this – you’ve been… uninteresting.

Justman said that hiring 27-year-old Rob Bowman to direct was one of his proudest achievements on the show. Bowman went on to direct 12 more eps of the series. Bowman remembers: “It was a very enlightening script, the likes of which you don’t very often see on television. I felt very fortunate that it was such a great script, but, personally, I was terrified because it was my first episode and I wanted to make a good impression. I worked on that show every day I had the script, which, including the shooting, was like 20 days for me.”

While shooting the scene in this episode where Riker tells Picard “It wasn’t him, it never was. It was his assistant”, Frakes had some difficulty saying the line and eventually could not say it w/o breaking into a laugh. According to Stewart, the event soon spread “like a bushfire” on the set; even the sound mixer (Alan Bernard) had to wheel his sound cart off the set as he also couldn’t stop laughing.

This is a personal highlight from a season with little to have a song and dance about. […] It’s a superb episode which shows the strength of the main cast as well as displaying some great guest performances…

This episode marks the first glimmer of what this series would become and why I love it: a great mix of fantastic storytelling, science fiction and philosophy.

-Excerpts from IMBD reviews

Episode 12: Datalore

Picard: You’ll feel uncomfortable about aspects of your duplicate, Data. We feel uncomfortable too, and for no logical reason. If it feels awkward to be reminded that Data is a machine, just remember that *we* are merely a different variety of machine – in our case, electrochemical in nature.

The Enterprise visits Data’s planet (Omicron Theta) to learn more about his somewhat mysterious beginnings. The small population of the planet died of unknown reasons 20+ yrs back; Data was found around that time. The away team find an underground complex and a disassembled version of Data! They rebuild and activate him; this is Lore, a supposedly earlier/ superior version of Data. Lore is a word which means “The body of knowledge”. He claims he was disassembled b/c he was so human-like that he frightened the local population. Lore even has the ability to call upon a crystalline entity w/ great destructive power (which destroyed the planet and killed its inhabitants).

Lore: Dr. Soong made me perfect in his first attempt. But he made me so completely human, the colonists became envious of me.

Data: You lived with the colonists?

Lore: [nods] Until they petitioned Soong to make a more comfortable, less perfect android. In other words, you, Brother.

This was the final ep written by Roddenberry before his death on October 24, 1991. Spiner suggested that Lore be made Data’s “Evil Twin.” Initially, Lore was to be neither evil nor a lookalike of Data; Lore was first created as a female and a potential love interest for Data. Bowman credited Spiner for making the ep work, giving one example, “He did the one scene in his own office with Brent sitting down and Lore discussing what it’s like to be human. He did one side, we shot through a double, then turned around, read it the other way and shot the other half of it. Those two characters in those scenes are different people… he really painted those characters differently.” The line “Shut up Wesley!” spoken by both Dr. Crusher and Picard has become a popular catchphrase for fans to express frustration w/ Wesley (LOL).

Episode 25: Conspiracy

Picard: [after meeting with Keel about a possible Starfleet conspiracy] Friends, close friends, few and far between. Two of the oldest and closest were Jack Crusher, may he rest in peace and Walker Keel. Before various missions split us up we were virtually inseparable. I trust Keel completely. If he felt it necessary to violate regulations he must have had a very good reason.

Troi: But you’re putting your career at risk for him.

Picard: Friendship must dare to risk, Counsellor. Or it’s not friendship.

Capt. Walker Keel, an old friend of Picard’s, uses a top-secret frequency, to summon him to a top-secret meeting w/ two other captains. There is vague innuendo about a plot to take over the Federation by replacing Starfleet officers; this doesn’t impress Picard, but he reconsiders after Keel and his crew die in an explosion. Picard decides to visit Starfleet HQ w/ where he’ll be dine w/ some admirals. Riker will keep an eye on Admiral Aaron (who insists on visiting the ship) and is carrying an alien brain-parasite in a briefcase!

Roddenberry originated the idea for the ep in a single-sentence proposal entitled “The Assassins”. Robert Sabaroff expanded this idea to 30 pages, but his version was seen as too expensive. Tracy Tormé was then given the job of rewriting it, but some producers thought the new version was too dark (until Roddenberry read and endorsed it). Wired magazine has suggested that the premise was based on the Iran–Contra affair. In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter listed this ep among the 25 best eps of TNG. In 2020, GameSpot noted this episode as one of the most bizarre moments of series, the startlingly graphic explosion and melting of a parasitic alien and host.

Episode 26: The Neutral Zone

Data: They are the most unusual humans I have ever encountered.

Riker: Well, from what I’ve seen of our guests, there’s not much to redeem them. Makes one wonder how our species survived the 21st century.

While Picard is away at an emergency Federation conference, the crew discovers an ancient space capsule from Earth. Inside they find three humans in cryogenic chambers. Data asks to move the chambers to the Enterprise and Riker agrees. Picard returns and orders the ship to the Neutral Zone, as several Federation outposts near the edges of the zone have not responded to communications. He explains that the conference was about the potential threat of the Romulans, who haven’t been seen for decades. As Data and Dr. Crusher work to thaw the cryonically preserved humans, Picard admonishes Data for bringing them aboard during a crucial time. Picard and puts Riker in charge of looking after them.

Data: [on the Human female] Her name is Clare Raymond. Age: 35. Occupation: homemaker. Must be some kind of construction work.

The survivors—Claire Raymond (Gracie Harrison), a housewife; Ralph Offenhouse (Peter Mark Richman), a financier; and L. Q. “Sonny” Clemmons (Leon Rippy), a musician—are from the late 20th c. They all died of incurable illnesses and were placed in cryonic suspension after their deaths in the hope that cures might be found in the future. Dr. Crusher easily cures them of their illnesses. They have to cope w/ the culture shock of awakening in a distant future with the realization that everything they knew and had are now gone. Clemmons seems to fare the best and befriends Data. Claire is distraught at the thought of losing her children, so Troi suggests searching for her descendants. Offenhouse is irritated by the lack of access to news or other information; he uses the comm unit to disturb Picard on the bridge. Picard assures everyone that all questions will be answered, but that the ship’s mission requires his full attention.

Picard: This is the 24th century. Material needs no longer exist.

Ralph Offenhouse: Then what’s the challenge?

Picard: The challenge, Mr. Offenhouse, is to improve yourself. To enrich yourself. Enjoy it.

The Enterprise reaches the Neutral Zone and confirms that the outposts have been destroyed. They are soon met by a Romulan Warbird; Cmdr. Tebok (Marc Alaimo) questions why the Enterprise has approached the zone. As Picard tries to explain his actions, Offenhouse arrives on the bridge and threatens to disrupt the tense situation, though he correctly guesses that the Romulans are also seeking answers. Picard and the Romulans agree to pool their resources to discover the culprit. Picard later comments that while the encounter went favorably, the Romulans may be a significant threat in future engagements. Picard arranges to transport the 20th-century humans to Earth.

Commander Tebok: Your presence is not wanted. Do you understand my meaning, Captain? We… are back!

[The Warbird departs]

Picard: I think our lives just became a lot more complicated.

This ep introduced the redesigned Romulans, w/ prosthetic forehead pieces (designed by makeup supervisor Michael Westmore). This also the the first appearance of the Romulan Warbird (created by designer Andrew Probert). Due to the impending WGA strike, writer/co-EP Maurice Hurley developed the teleplay in a day and a half from fan fiction by Deborah McIntyre and Mona Clee. Due to the WGA strike, certain story ideas were removed from the plot incl. the first appearance of the Borg, which was delayed until the S2 ep “Q Who.” “The Neutral Zone” was originally intended to be the first of a 2-part episode, but due to the strike there wasn’t enough time to write the second part and so the story was shortened.

In the writers and directors’ guide for the series, written by Roddenberry prior to the first season, Romulans were covered by one of the main writing rules: “No stories about warfare with Klingons and Romulans and no stories with Vulcans. We are determined not to copy ourselves and believe there must be other interesting aliens in a galaxy filled with billions of stars and planets.” Following the failure of the Ferengi as the main villains of TNG by the producers, the Romulans became the main villains during the early years of the series (besides the Borg).

“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 5)

Introduction

In the Summer of 1998, writer/producer Brannon Braga voiced the writing staff’s intention to “push the envelope” of alien encounters in S5. Braga was also exerting more control over the show, but Rick Berman (who didn’t start as a writer- his background was as a studio exec) held more power. Berman would be pulling the reins back (as many long-time ST fans noted) when stories didn’t gel w/ his vision. Braga and (frequent writing partner) Joe Menosky were trying to take risks; they’re good at character development (but maybe not big on continuity). Menosky wrote the teleplays for 7 eps of TNG: The Chase, Darmok, Time’s Arrow (Pts. I & II), The Nth Degree, First Contact, and Clues. There are unique eps in this season, incl. E12: Bride of Chaotica! (shot in B&W), which is part of Lt. Tom Paris’ Captain Proton holodeck program. Later in the season, there is E23: 11:59 (a twist on a holiday story) set in 2000. I think S5 is worth seeing.

Season 5: Selected Episodes

Episode 1: Night

There are no stars, no planets, no light- just the ship out alone for 2 mos. w/ no expectations for encountering another star system for another 2 yrs. “Every sailor’s worst nightmare,” Chakotay (Robert Beltran) comments ominously. Monotony hits the crew hard until a an alien race (that lives in darkness) attacks, mistaking Voyager as an ally of a poisonous garbage freighter run by another race (the Malon). The teleplay was written by Braga and Menosky. The director was David Livingston; he uses some (new to the series) shots, which made the show seem fresh.

The psychological aspects of the ep are quite interesting. An early shot of the ship is eerie, w/ no stars visible anywhere, and the only light coming from Voyager itself. Chakotay’s on the bridge, but we don’t see Capt. Janeway (Kate Mulgrew). The staff meeting is also run by Chakotay (not Janeway). When senior officers ask about her, Chakotay responds: “The captain sends her regards.” The captain is holed up in her quarters, racked w/ guilt. Chakotay says: “You’ve picked a bad time to isolate yourself from the crew.” Janeway has always been one who maintains confidence in the decisions she makes. Some fans/critics thought that shutting herself away was implausible (and out of character).

This is a good ensemble ep, as all of the main cast get something to do. Lt. Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil) and Lt. B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) fight over the smallest matters. Neelix (Ethan Phillips) gets severe panic attacks. Tuvok (Tim Russ) goes to meditate in Astrometrics, which surprised Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). He even makes a pun (haha), saying “the view from my window has been less than stellar lately.” Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) composes a morose song on his clarinet- Echoes of the Void. Chakotay is holding things together, but even he looks tense and worried.

…there’s also the new “Captain Proton” holonovel- Paris’ fantasy program that pays homage to those cheap 1940s sci-fi serials. It’s a scream. (Besides, how can you not like a holodeck program that’s offered in black-and-white?)

…manages both to entertain and to frustrate. The teaser and first act are wonderfully engaging, but then the show slowly descends into reasonable action and ultimately resigns itself to shallow solutions, which is a shame. Within this episode I see elements that could turn out to be the beginnings of some very good trends, but I also see some of the same old pratfalls and the series’ general refusal to tell a story requiring any length of an attention span.

-Excerpt from Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 2: Drone

[Torres is concerned with the drone’s development]

Neelix: It will become what we help it to become.

B’Elanna: [mocking] Mm! How Starfleet of you!

Voyager investigates the birth of a nebula. Unfortunately, its intense blast wave catches an away mission shuttle, causing emergency beam-out transporter signals to fuse The Doctor’s mobile emitter w/ Seven’s nanoprobes. The mobile emitter later starts assimilating a science lab and extracts DNA from Ensign Mulcahy to create a new Borg drone built upon the emitter’s 29th c. technology! This teleplay was written by Bryan Fuller (who became a writer so he could work on a ST show), Braga, and Menosky. This ep will remind you of TNG: S5, E23 (I Borg), which was written by Rene Echevarria. As young writers, Braga, Echevarria, Ron Moore, and Naren Shankar (Moore’s college pal) worked on TNG.

One: Seven of Nine. Do you wish to rejoin the Collective?

Seven: Voyager is my Collective.

J. Paul Boehmer, who plays the Borg drone One, was the SS officer in The Killing Game, Parts I & II. One’s body armor has an unusual-looking composition, as well as tubing at the ribs, legs and shoulders that glows blue. Seven shows more of her humanity (feelings) as she cares for One (like a mother). The ending where One realizes his continued existence presents a danger to Voyager was very touching (get ready to cry). There is some fine acting and nice character moments here. Even Neelix (used in earlier seasons for comedy) has serious scenes where he makes One feel “at home.”

“Drone” opens with Seven looking into a mirror, practicing her smile. This is a wonderful scene. It works on the “cute” level, but there’s a lot going on under the surface. It’s quite clear that her smile is completely superficial. Seven doesn’t feel like smiling, and she can’t “feel” the smile when she makes it. It’s just there. And knowing that frustrates her. In 20 seconds, without a single line of dialog, “Drone” has already managed to say something interesting about Seven: She’s trying, but she’s just not there yet—and it may be quite some time before she is.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 4: In the Flesh

Janeway: Directive 010: “Before engaging alien species in battle, any and all attempts to make first contact and achieve non-military resolution must be made.” In this case, we made first contact over a year ago and we barely got out of it alive. It seems to me a battle is inevitable, maybe even war. So why can’t I get that directive out of my mind?

The crew of Voyager discover a simulation of Starfleet Headquarters being run by Species 8472 (whoa)! With the aid of regular doses of drugs, Species 8472 are able to shape-shift into human form. It is up to Janeway to try to convince the aliens that Starfleet is not a threat to them. We see Boothby (Ray Walston- who appeared on TNG), Cmdr. Valerie Archer (Kate Vernon- later part of ensemble on Battlestar Galactica), and Adm. Bullock (Tucker Smallwood).

[Chakotay prepares to reenter the alien recreation of Starfleet Headquarters]

Tom: Do you always arm yourself before a first date?

Harry: You’ve never had a date with Species 8472.

Tom: Personally, I don’t go out with girls from other galaxies.

Harry: You’re a true explorer, Chakotay.

Tom: Is she cute?

Chakotay: In her human form, anyway.

Harry: I’ve always wondered what it would be like to date an alien.

Chakotay: I’ll take notes.

The teleplay was written by Nick Sagan, son of astronomer/author/educator Carl Sagan. The original script was based around the idea of Species 8472 visiting ancient Earth and inspiring legends of demons and devils. One scene would have been Janeway’s nightmare that Species 8472 are destroying Bloomington, IN (her hometown). Those ideas were rejected to cut the cost of visual effects, so Sagan came up with a Cold War parable, using past writings of his father as inspiration.

Though the long-time fans are divided on this, it’s a fun ep w/ the idealism we saw in TOS. It’s refreshing to see Earth (even if it’s not the real version). Some viewers were disappointed that Species 8472 turned out to be not as scary as expected. This is one of Beltran’s fave eps; he gets to go undercover and have a bit of romance.

Episode 6: Timeless

[Chakotay has second thoughts about using the new slipstream drive]

Janeway: I know it’s a risk. Probably our biggest one yet. But I’m willing to take it. Are you with me?

Chakotay: Always.

15 yrs. in the future, Harry Kim and Chakotay break Starfleet laws to change the past and prevent a catastrophe that grounds Voyager and kills the rest of her crew, all b/c Harry thought he figured out how to work slipstream drive. Starfleet authorities soon come breathing down their necks; Harry races to send a message back through time to stop himself. This is one of the most highly-rated , by both fans and critics. It was directed by LeVar Burton; he also has a brief cameo.

Seven of Nine: [staring at her hand] My visual processors and motor cortex – they’re malfunctioning.

The Doctor: Sounds like a problem with your cortical implant. We’d better have a look. [He tries to scan Seven with a tricorder, but she drifts off] Hold still.

Seven: I cannot comply.

The Doctor: You’re intoxicated!

Seven: Impossible.

The Doctor: Your blood synthehol level is .05 percent. How many glasses of champagne did you consume?

Seven: One.

The Doctor: Obviously, the Borg can’t hold their liquor.

The (present) opening party scene in Engineering was to inaugurate the slipstream drive and to celebrate the series’ 100th ep. Some viewers were surprised that (future) Chakotay joined Harry in his plan; he seems like a man who’d have gone on w/ his life. The presence of his lover Tessa (Christine Harnos) on this illegal mission seemed odd to also go some viewers; she has no agenda beyond following Chakotay’s lead and listening to his concerns. Chakotay has doubts about what he is about to do, but I don’t think those doubts are developed enough.

“Timeless” is a confidently told tale of guilt. As we learn in the “present,” the crew’s attempt to get home with this experimental quantum slipstream drive is something that has been months in the making. […] Harry believes he has devised a solution—he says he can compensate for the flaw from the Delta Flyer, essentially leading the way for the Voyager crew—but this carries with it a substantial risk.

Garrett Wang, in one of his best performances to date, paints future Harry as guilt-ridden to the point of obsession. This is a changed man, both in ideology and attitude. Gone is the pleasant, youthful Ensign, and in his place is a weathered, sullen, impatient man who will do whatever it takes to give himself a second chance in the past. He has resigned from Starfleet and come up with a very illegal plan.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 7: Infinite Regress

Seven of Nine begins to exhibit multiple personalities from a wide range of disparate species. The culprit? An ailing Borg “Vinculum” broadcasting a neural interlink frequency from the center of a debris field from an exploded Borg cube. As the crew try to dismantle it, Seven’s neutral pattern dissipates, allowing other personalities to take over. Tuvok steps in, just as an unfamiliar alien culture challenges Voyager for the Vinculum. 

[Seven hands over star charts and sociological data for Naomi Wildman to study]

Seven: As Bridge Assistant, you will find this information relevant.

Naomi: Consider it assimilated.

This is an episode that could’ve come off as pedestrian, but thanks to the skilled David Livingston (one of my favorite Trek directors) it ends up being intriguing and at times fairly intense and haunting.

What’s causing Seven to experience “Borg multiple personality disorder,” you ask? The crew’s investigation leads it to the debris of a destroyed Borg vessel, where they find the Borg ship’s “vinculum” is still functioning. The vinculum suppresses individuality in Borg drones, regulating and organizing their thought patterns for maximum efficiency in the hive mind. this vinculum is transmitting a signal that is causing Seven’s brain implants to malfunction and bring forward the repressed personalities of other individuals the Borg had assimilated. The crew must now shut down the vinculum in order to solve Seven’s problem.

-Jammer’s Reviews

This was a lighthearted ep (written by Jimmy Diggs) where Ryan gets to show a wider range of acting skills. While Seven plays a game with Naomi (and her personality is that of a little girl) we see the reflection of this little girl in the Kadis-kot game board. Among Seven’s personalities is a Krenim scientist, w/ whom Janeway has been debating “the finer points of temporal physics” (a callback to S4, E8-9: Year of Hell, Pts. I & II). When Seven emulates the son of K’Vok, she says to B’Elanna “You are a desirable woman” (in Klingon); this matches her body language and initiating a mating ritual.

[Torres reacts warily when seeing Seven in Engineering]

Seven: Don’t worry, Lieutenant; the son of K’Vok will not be joining us.

B’Elanna: Glad to hear it. Does this qualify as our second date?

The Doctor: Just think of me as your chaperone.

Episode 8: Nothing Human

Ensign Tabor: Crell Moset killed thousands of people in his hospitals. As long as we’re willing to benefit from his research, we’re no better than he is.

An injured cytoplasmic alien attaches itself to Lt. B’Lanna Torres, using her body to assist it’s injured body. The Doctor calls up a holographic recreation of a Cardassian exobiologist, Dr. Crell Moset (David Clennon), to consult. B’Elanna refuses treatment when it’s discovered that the real Moset was guilty of war crimes for tortuous experiments resulting in thousands of Bajoran deaths. This is the final series ep written by co-creator Jeri Taylor.

Dr. Crell Moset: How do you suppose your own database was developed? Hm? My God, half the medical knowledge acquired on Earth came through experiments on lower animals.

The Doctor: But not people!

Dr. Crell Moset: It’s convenient to draw a line between higher and lower species, isn’t it?

Outside of DS9, the only eps in which events surrounding the Bajoran Occupation played a major role were TNG: Ensign Ro and this one. Picardo loved dhe opportunity to work w/ Clennon (his good friend). Moset is based on Josef Mengele, the Nazi scientist who performed brutal medical experiments on human “guinea pigs” deemed “inferior” and not worthy of life (according to Nazi creed).

The real issue here is whether or not medical knowledge obtained through inhumane methods is morally right to use to benefit another. On more than one occasion, “Nothing Human” does a reasonably good job at tackling this question. There are several interesting arguments between Doc and Krell about ethics (leading to Krell’s most intriguingly troubling line, “Ethics are arbitrary”). But the problem is, by putting so much ambiguity in the nature of Krell, the story often doesn’t seem to know whether the other characters object to the idea of using his knowledge, or if they simply object to the idea of Krell himself.

What if Krell’s medical database had been downloaded into a hologram of a Starfleet doctor? The answer: No one would have given it a second thought.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 10: Counterpoint

Kashyk: Captain, do you trust me?

Janeway: Not for a second.

Kashyk: Exactly! And why should you? Trust has to be earned. It’s gradual, and yet it’s the foundation of every relationship, professional and personal. It’s also a concept alien to the telepathic races. Why take someone at their word when you can simply read their mind?

Voyager is traveling through a vast sector of space controlled by a powerful alien race (the Devore) which is deeply suspicious of telepathic lifeforms. The presence of Tuvok, Ensign Vorik, and a dozen telepathic refugees (the Brenari) force the crew to conceal them in order to pass through safely. The group is held in suspension inside the transporter, so that they disappear during inspections! After the third inspection, Voyager is approached by a scout ship carrying only the chief Devore inspector, Kashyk (Mark Harelik). He knows that Janeway has telepaths on board and how she is hiding them. But now, Kashyk isn’t trying to catch them, as he wants to defect! The teleplay was written by Michael Taylor; he wrote 13 eps of the show. Taylor’s episode (The Visitor) on DS9 ranks as one of the most popular of that series. He started out as a freelancer, then went on to work on some high quality shows, incl. Battlestar Galactica, TURN: Washington Spies, and Into the Badlands.

Janeway: You’ll have your own quarters but limited access to Voyager’s systems, and your whereabouts will be monitored at all times.

Kashyk: I’m used to being surrounded by armed guards. Makes me feel secure.

Janeway: Only this time, they answer to me. Consider them a reminder that Voyager is my ship.

Kashyk: I don’t think anyone could doubt that.

Mulgrew objected (early on in the show) to romance w/ any of the men on the Voyager crew (incl. Paris and Chakotay); the producers were trying to push that for Janeway. Fans (no doubt) also noticed the chemistry between Mulgrew and Beltran (esp. in the first two seasons). We learned in Hunters (S4 , E5) that Janeway’s former fiance, Mark, moved on w/ his life and got married to his co-worker. A good time has passed, so Mulgrew suggested a romance, even recommending Harelik (primarily a theater actor) as the love interest.

The relationship here reminded me somewhat of the one between the female Romulan commander and Spock in The Enterprise Incident (TOS: S3, E2). Spock deceived the Romulan commander to get the cloaking device (as that was his job as First Officer), but they shared mutual admiration, respect, and attraction. Spock admits to her finally: “Military secrets are the most fleeting of all. I hope that you and I… exchanged something more permanent.”

[Janeway has been deceived earlier by Inspector Kashyk]

Kashyk: You created false readings.

Janeway: That is the theme for this evening, isn’t it?

Deceit is the name of the game. The game is the whole point… …it works because it ultimately makes for an enjoyable Janeway feature. It deftly reveals her human weaknesses and emotional vulnerabilities while at the same time showing her ability to remain a focused, resourceful, sensible, and intelligent captain.

-Jammer’s Reviews

An early scene starts off with Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, a digression from the usual background music of Trek… We hear an example of “counterpoint”: counter-melodies playing against one another.

…Captain Janeway and Inspector Kashyk are counterpoints themselves, two leaders who play against each other – not through phasers but through wits. Their tension occurs on multiple levels: sexuality, trust, and power. In the end, Kashyk is revealed to be untrustworthy after all, so they are destined to remain rival counterpoints.

– Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 11: Latent Image

The Doctor uncovers evidence his memory was erased 18 mos. ago. Nearly all traces of a crewman and an away mission were erased by Janeway! Confronted by The Doctor’s need for answers and Seven of Nine’s perspective on the rights of a hologram, Janeway restores the fatal truth about Ensign Jetal, The Doctor’s choice that led to her death, and his resulting breakdown.

Seven: When you separated me from the Collective, I was an unknown risk to your crew. Yet you kept me on board. You allowed me to evolve into an individual.

Janeway: You’re a human being. He’s a hologram.

Seven: And you allowed that hologram to evolve as well, to exceed his original programming. And yet, now you choose to abandon him.

Janeway: Objection noted. Good night.

Seven: It is unsettling. You say that I am a human being, and yet I am also Borg – part of me not unlike your replicator. Not unlike the Doctor. Will you one day choose to abandon me as well? I have always looked to you as my example, my guide to humanity. Perhaps I’ve been mistaken.

Robert Picardo gets an opportunity to show off a greater acting range as the Doctor starts to get understandably paranoid and break down. It also gave Kate Mulgrew an opportunity to portray her character in a slightly less favorable light than usual. …Scarlett Pomers was delightful as Naomi Wildman; the most realistic child in any Star Trek series.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episodes 15 & 16: Dark Frontier

In the 1st hour of this telefilm (which originally aired during FEB “Sweeps Week”), members of the Voyager crew train on the holodeck for a raid on a Borg ship to steal the trans-warp coil (in hopes of integrating the ship). The Borg seem to be one step ahead when the Borg Queen (Susanna Thompson) communicates w/ Seven. In flashbacks, the USS Raven is carrying a crew w/ only Magnus Hansen (Kirk Baily), his wife Erin (Laura Interval), and their very young daughter, Annika (Katelin Petersen).

In the 2nd hour, Janeway is won’t give up on her crewmate/friend 2 yrs. after being liberated from the Collective, Seven rejoins the Borg, seemingly of her own will. When Janeway finds a history of transmissions from the Borg to Seven, she is convinced that Seven was lured back against her wishes. Aboard the Borg sphere, the Borg Queen attempts to seduce Seven into helping her assimilate Earth.

The Doctor: [on the Borg research of Seven’s parents] This is an important stage of your social development, Seven. Try not to think of it as simply a research project but as an exploration of how you were raised.

Seven of Nine: My parents underestimated the Collective. They were destroyed. Because of their arrogance, I was raised by Borg.

***

Janeway [to a worried Naomi after Seven leaves Voyager]: There are three things to remember about being a starship captain: keep your shirt tucked in, go down with the ship… and never abandon a member of your crew.

Seven (at Janeway’s request) reads her parents’ data logs; she’d been avoiding bad memories (from her life before being assimilated). Braga and Menosky (who wrote the teleplay) invent a backstory where the Hansens are rogue scientists on a mission to find the mysterious Borg. They became obsessed w/ this idea, disregarded orders and warnings from colleagues, and traveled alone (eventually to the Delta Quadrant)! They even boarded the cube and kidnapped sleeping drones from their regeneration alcoves to study them (whoa)! I wondered WTF kind of irresponsible parents are these!? After 3 yrs, they get too cocky, run out of luck, and are assimilated. There is a fine scene where Seven asks Janeway to allow her to stay on the mission, even though she has been distracted lately by her emotions. Seven knows something; she is ready to sacrifice herself for the crew.

If “Dark Frontier” was trying to get my attention with pure cinematic audacity, it worked. The episode wastes no time in coming out big and bold, showing off production values in an entertainingly effective way. David Bell’s score comes out stronger than music is normally ever permitted to be on Trek episodes…

…I’d like to comment on a character whose actions have long been controversial and inconsistently written. I find myself reminded of second season’s “Alliances.” At the end of that episode, the writers alleged that, in light of being stuck in the chaotic Delta Quadrant surrounded by brutal opportunistic enemies, Janeway’s course of adjustment would simply be to maintain Federation morals… I found that attitude to be shallow, naive, and dramatically limiting.

Over the years of Voyager’s uneasy run, that attitude has been changed. Now we have a Janeway that, while still maintaining diplomacy and a sense of morality, will go further to protect her crew and get them home more quickly.

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 18: Course: Oblivion

[Seven catches the wedding bouquet]

The Doctor: Congratulations.

Seven: For what?

Tuvok: You may not want to know.

Paris and Torres get married, the enhanced warp drive is up and running, Voyager could travel home in about 2 yrs (wow)! The honeymoon is put on hold when the molecular cohesion of the ship and its crew starts breaking down. When Torres suddenly dies, Tuvok and Chakotay realize that they aren’t the original crew; they’re the silver-blood copies left behind on the “Demon Class” planet 10 mos. ago (S4, E24: Demon)! As others die, Chakotay tries to convince Janeway to return to that planet, reminding her that Earth isn’t their home.

Janeway: The way I choose to look at it is this: if everything about us was duplicated, that includes our memory engrams, the emotional centers of our brain. So if you feel something, remember something, believe something – I’m not about to tell you it’s not real.

The first clue that this in fact isn’t the real Voyager and crew is that Tom holds the rank of Lt. Jr. Grade (w/ one light pip and one dark on his collar); he was demoted to Ensign in S5 E9: Thirty Days (w/ only one light pip). Another clue is that the copies of Tuvok and Chakotay mention encounters w/ the Kmada and the N’Kree (aliens which Voyager never met). Some long-time fans pointed out that Janeway and Chakotay are more friendly (touchy-feely) in the copied ship; I noticed this on my 2nd watch. Somehow the copies were able to adapt to a different atmosphere than the one found on their Class Y planet; in Demon they suffocated in a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere. (Get ready to cry, like you did for Drone)!

[1] There’s a lot of tension in this episode, both from the fact that anyone can die (including series regulars) and the conflict between the crew. This was still the era when they were having fun exploring the Chakotay/ Janeway relationship and there’s some real pathos after their divide becomes irrevocable.

[2] What is important is that you see good people, who try so hard, make some right decisions and some wrong decisions, and fail. This crew trades for a better warp engine that puts them far ahead of the real ship. This Tom Paris has the guts to marry B’Ellana Torres. Janeway is a starship captain, whether mimetic or made of flesh and blood, and her mission is to go back to Earth.

[3] It’s interesting that the writers would give their audience, so used to tidy, happy endings, such a bleak one this time. We saw an entire race wiped out of existence in this episode, with absolutely nothing of themselves and their accomplishments left behind. Janeway was right when she told her crew that they deserved to be remembered, even if they were copies. This episode wants us to be uncomfortable with the ending.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 22: Someone to Watch Over Me

The Doctor: [Another of the Doctor’s dating lessons, said to a preoccupied Seven] The key to finding a compatible partner is learning how to share your interests and goals. We’ll start with hobbies.

[speaking as if a potential suitor] What do you do with your spare time?

Seven: Regenerate.

The Doctor: Uh-huh. Tell me about you tastes, your likes and dislikes.

Seven: I dislike irrelevant conversations.

The Doctor: Okaaay, which brings us to “goals.” What do you want out of life?

Seven: Perfection.

Taking Janeway’s advice to try dating, Seven undergoes lessons from The Doctor. The story is a twist on a My Fair Lady set in space. Tom Paris places a wager on Seven’s performance at an upcoming reception. The Doctor finds himself falling for his student. Also, Neelix shows a visiting ambassador, Tomin (Scott Thompson- a comedian), around the ship. This is both a funny, clever, and touching ep written by Michael Taylor; it was directed by McNeil.

Steven Price (a hologram in Sandrine’s Bar): Curious jewelry.

Seven: It’s a Borg implant. I was a drone.

Steven Price: Oh, so then it’s a family heirloom.

Seven of Nine: Borg do not have families. They have unimatrices.

Picardo and Ryan did some of their own singing, incl. the duet “You Are My Sunshine.” The dances were choreographed by Laura Behr, wife of DS9 writer/showrunner Ira Steven Behr. I was a bit surprised that Seven (boldly) asked out Lt. Chapman (Brian McNamara), who is nervous around women (according to Tom). During their date, Seven refuses champagne (since synthehol affects her cortical functions); we learned this in Timeless. They order lobster- quite rare for a first date nowadays (LOL)!

In the B-plot, Neelix plays host to Tomin, who comes from a very conservative planet. Meanwhile, his leader and Janeway go down to their planet. On the ship, Tomin wants to cut loose: eating spicy food, drinking at Sandrine’s, and meeting alien women. He gets drunk and hits on Seven (who is not amused)!

As odd as it may seem, this episode in some ways epitomizes what Star Trek is all about. Not the vast philosophical concerns or mysteries of time and space, but the interaction between and among those holding unique perspectives of the universe.

So, how does this episode come to epitomize Star Trek? For its utter compassion, empathy and …well… sweetness. There is a tenderness to it that exists very much at the core of the “mission”. Understanding. Compassion. Peaceful co-existence. And, more than anything, Mutual Respect.

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 24: Relativity

Seven: [describing a causality loop] The Borg once traveled back in time to stop Zephram Cochrane from breaking the warp barrier. They succeeded, but that in turn led the Enterprise to intervene. They assisted Cochrane with the flight the Borg were trying to prevent. Causal loop complete.

Lt. Ducane: So, in a way, the Federation owes its existence to the Borg.

Seven: You’re welcome.

When Voyager is destroyed, Capt. Braxton of the 29th c. time-ship Relativity contacts Seven to travel back in time and discover who planted the temporal disrupter, which she must do w/o being discovered by the past Janeway. The events of Star Trek: First Contact are used as an example for the causality loop (AKA the “Pogo Paradox”). The two incidents Janeway will cause are call-backs to previous eps: Braxton being trapped on 20th c. Earth for 20 yrs. (Future’s End, Pts. I & II) and the Temporal Inversion in the Takara Sector (Timeless). The teleplay was written by Bryan Fuller, Nick Sagan, and Michael Taylor. This is listed as one of the “Ten Essential Episodes” of the show in Star Trek 101 by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.

Capt. Braxton: We have a saying in our line of work: There’s no time like the past.

The Pogo Paradox is named for a comic strip syndicated to US newspapers (1948-1975). Pogo was created, written/drawn by Walt Kelly, who coined the phrase “We have met the enemy and he is us” in a 1970 strip. This is the first and only ep to feature the actual Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards. Bruce McGill (who plays Capt. Braxton) was the mischievous BFF (Jack Dalton) on MacGyver. The bridge of the Relativity was a redress of the USS Enterprise-E bridge (seen in First Contact). We (finally) see Seven wearing a Starfleet uniform! Lt. Joe Carey (Josh Clark) appears for the first time since S1; he was replaced as Chief Engineer when B’Elanna was promoted.

[1] This was a good episode and while it isn’t too easy to explain the multi-time line plot, it makes sense when one watches it. It was nice to see Seven in a standard Star Fleet uniform when she goes time travelling…

[2] The show is good but it’s made a bit better because it has a nice sense of humor and never takes itself very seriously.

[3] Relativity is a fast-paced, mind-bending, roller-coaster ride time travel story and stands out as one of the most intriguing, fun episodes.

[4] One of my favorite scenes is near the end of the episode and is extremely subtle, as the present-time Janeway is hiding from past-self Janeway, the camera shows a close up of her face, where she shakes her head in confusion at the paradox. If you blink you would miss it. I do not know if this was scripted or was an ad lib by Kate Mulgrew; either way it made me smile.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 26: Equinox, Part I

Chakotay: [finding one of the Equinox’s crew huddling under debris] I’m Commander Chakotay, USS Voyager.

Ensign Marla Gilmore: But we’re the only humans in the Delta Quadrant.

Chakotay: That’s what we used to think.

***

[Seven calms a crewman while Harry cuts away heavy debris covering his legs]

Seven of Nine: Do not be frightened.

Crewman Noah Lessing: Too late for that.

The premise resembles S1 (when survival in the Delta Quadrant was a serious question). Voyager encounters Equinox, which is another Federation starship trapped in the Delta Quadrant (wow)! Equinox is heavily damaged and running w/ “skeleton” crew. Happy to have found each other, Voyager assists Equinox w/ repairs and the crews get to know each other. Equinox has been stranded in the Delta Quadrant for about 4-5 yrs. after having been (like Voyager) flung across the galaxy by the Caretaker. Equinox wasn’t designed for “long-range tactical missions” (it’s a small science vessel). Capt. Rudy Ransom (John Savage) says that there were many casualties their 1st week in the Delta Quadrant; he lost half of his crew.

Janeway: I couldn’t help but notice, your crew calls you by your first name.

Ransom: When you’ve been in the trenches as long as we have, rank and protocol are luxuries. Besides, we’re a long way from Starfleet Command.

Janeway: I know the feeling.

Ransom: You seem to run a pretty tight ship.

Janeway: We’ve been known to let our hair down from time to time, but I find that maintaining protocol reminds us of where we came from, and hopefully where we’re going.

Equinox has been fighting off a (non-humanoid) alien race from another realm which has been periodically attacking. Voyager is now about 35,000 light years away from the Alpha Quadrant. Unlike most eps, there are 4 new guest actors w/ speaking parts. Lt. Cmdr. Maxwell Burke (a young-ish Titus Welliver- a prolific character actor), is the ex-bf of B’Elanna from their Academy days. Ensign Marla Gilmore (Olivia Birkelund) opens up to Chakotay; she suffers from claustrophobia and PTSD. Crewman Noah Lessing (Rick Worthy- who has appeared on the show previously) is grateful to Seven; he helps her sort through some data.

Ransom: What is the protocol in this situation? We have two captains and two ships. Who gets the last word?

Janeway: “Starfleet Regulation 191, Article 14: In a combat situation involving more than one ship, command falls to the vessel with tactical superiority.” I looked it up this morning.

Ransom: Good thinking.

A “field generator” is developed which would secure both ships if/when the aliens attack, but it’d be more efficient to take a stand on Voyager (as Chakotay suggests). Tension grows between the captains, as it becomes clear Ransom doesn’t intend to abandon his vessel. The main bridge of the Equinox was a re-use of the USS Prometheus, as were corridors, crew quarters and science lab; sets were slightly altered to simulate the effect of damage. In the mess hall, when Harry and Chakotay ask for specifics re: what they were working on in the science lab, Gilmore is (obviously) discomforted and quickly insists some experiments didn’t work. As the Voyager crew prepare a salvage operation, the Equinox bridge crew return to their ship (to gather personal items).

Burke: Once we take their field generator, we’ll part company.

Gilmore: What happens to Voyager?

Burke: They have weapons, shields, a full crew. They’ll survive.

Seven discovers that the Equinox research lab has “high levels of thermionic radiation;” Tuvok says should’ve dissipated already. They go to Janeway and explain that the radiation was there intentionally; Tuvok theorizes that Ransom doesn’t want the Voyager crew to enter that lab. Janeway send in The Doctor (who’ll be immune to the gases as a hologram); she doesn’t reveal this plan to Ransom. The Doctor beams to the lab, finds a dead creature inside a chamber, then scans some logs. He thinks the biomatter was converted to a source of power.

Ransom: Starfleet Regulation 3, paragraph 12: “In the event of imminent destruction, a captain is authorized to preserve the lives of his crew by any justifiable means.”

Janeway: I doubt that protocol covers mass murder.

Ransom: In my judgement, it did.

Janeway: Unacceptable.

While Ransom and Burke are discussing their next plan, security officers approach and take the captain to meet w/ Janeway. She now knows that Ransom and crew used members of the attacking alien race to enhance their warp drive. Ransom reveals the truth of the dire situation they were under (running out of power, starving) when they found an M-Class planet; they met the Ankari and got some food and supplies. In a religious ritual, the Ankari summoned their “Spirits of Good Fortune” (the aliens) who were actually “nucleogenic life forms… emitting high levels of antimatter.” Equinox crew traded some of their tech for a “summoning device” and captured an alien which died (before Ransom could set it free).

Ransom: It’s easy to cling to principles when you’re standing on a vessel with its bulkheads intact, manned by a crew that’s not starving.

Janeway: It’s never easy, but if we turn our backs on our principles, we stop being human.

The Doctor calls up the the Equinox EMH, but that was a bad idea, as that doctor had his “ethical subroutines” deleted. The evil EMH steals The Doctor’s mobile emitter and poses as him on Voyager, even helping Ransom’s crew breakout! Janeway had imprisoned them in their room w/ only 2 security personnel outside. The cliffhanger leaves Equinox in retreat w/ The Doctor and Seven held hostage. Voyager shields have failed and it’s under attack by the aliens; it seems like Janeway was directly hit (in the final scene)!

…brings back a number of familiar themes previously explored exclusively on Voyager… Themes that remind us we’re in the Delta Quadrant, removed from Starfleet and its safe haven… and possibly removed from its rules given certain circumstances.

-Jammer’s Reviews

I liked the character moments in this ep; that is considered one of the strong suits of Braga’s co-writer (Menosky). Savage (a veteran of TV/theater) inhabits the role of a world-weary captain who’s seen too much and suffered tragedies. Welliver usually plays shady characters (as several viewers noted); he is charming in the scenes w/ B’Elanna, yet also hiding secrets. One long-time fan of the ST universe commented that Ransom was put into this show, but he’d fit better on DS9. After the conference room where the two captains face-off, I was reminded of this speech by Sisko from S2, E21 of DS9 (The Maquis, Pt. II).

Sisko: …It’s easy to be a saint in paradise, but the Maquis do not live in paradise. Out there in the demilitarized zone all the problems haven’t been solved yet. Out there, there are no saints, just people-angry, scared, determined people who are going to do whatever it takes to survive, whether it meets with Federation approval or not.