“The Last of the Mohicans” – Director’s Definitive Cut (1992) starring Daniel Day-Lewis

British Officer: You call yourself a patriot, and loyal subject to the Crown?

Hawkeye: I do not call myself subject to much at all.

In what is now upstate NY in 1757, the last members of a Native American tribe, the Mohicans- Uncas (Eric Schweig), his father Chingachgook (Russel Means- an activist in his first movie) and his adopted white brother Hawkeye AKA Nathaniel Poe (Daniel Day-Lewis)- live in peace alongside British colonists. They hunt a deer and bring it to the (log-cabin) home of their friends- the Cameron family. The two daughters of a British colonel named Munro (Maurice Roeves)- Cora (Madeleine Stowe) and Alice (Jodhi May- at just 16 y.o.)- travel from London to visit their father. In Boston, they’re met by their friend, Major Duncan Heyward (Steve Waddinton), who wants to marry Cora. They didn’t realize that it this was a dangerous time to come to this region, b/c their father’s letters were intercepted. When Cora and Alice are kidnapped by Col. Munro’s traitorous scout, Magua (Wes Studi- a scene-stealer), Hawkeye and Uncas go to rescue them in the crossfire of the French and Indian War.

Maj. Duncan Heyward: I thought all our colonial scouts were in the militia. The militia is fighting the French in the north.

Hawkeye: I ain’t your scout. And we sure ain’t no damn militia.

The screenplay was written by Michael Mann (who also directed) and Christopher Crowe; it was adapted in part from The Last of the Mohicans: A Narrative of 1757 (1826), a novel by James Fenimore Cooper, as well as the 1936 film adaptation The Last of the Mohicans. DDL (who is a Method actor) lived in the forests (North Carolina- where this film was shot) where his character might have lived, hunting and fishing for several months. The shoot employed more than 900 Native Americans from all over the US, mostly from the Cherokee tribes. Schweig (just 25 y.o.) is of Inuit and German heritage from Canada. Means (then age 55) was chosen my Mann for his role, though not a professional actor! He was of Ogala/Lakota Sioux heritage and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Duncan: You there, Scout! We must rest soon, the women are tired.

Magua: No, two leagues, better water. We stop there.

Duncan: No, we’ll stop in the glade just ahead. When the ladies are rested, we will proceed. Do you understand?

Magua: [speaking Huron] Magua understands that the white man is a dog to his women. When they are tired, he puts down his tomahawk to feed their laziness.

Duncan: Excuse me, what did you say?

Magua: Magua say… he understand the English very well.

Magua (who is a compelling villian w/ an interesting backstory) explains to Gen. Montcalm (Patrice Chéreau) that his village was burned and children killed by English soldiers. He was taken a slave by a Mohawk warrior who fought for Col. Munro (Grey Hair). Magua’s wife believed he was dead, so she became the the wife of another man. To gain his freedom, Magua became “blood brothers” w/ the Mohawk, though he “stayed Huron in his heart.” He believes his “heart will be whole again when the Grey Hair and his seed are dead.”

Cora: l don’t know what to say, Duncan. l truly wish they did, but my feelings don’t – don’t go beyond friendship. Don’t you see?

Duncan: Respect and friendship. lsn’t that a reasonable basis for a man and a woman to be married? And all else may grow in time?

Cora: Some say that’s the way of it.

On my recent re-watch (I hadn’t seen this since H.S. ELA class), I noticed the (quiet) feminism of Cora. She (gently) refuses to marry Duncan b/c she doesn’t love him; she is protective of the (more fragile) Alice (even talking a pistol from a dead soldier for protection); she helps in the infirmary at the fort; and stands up for Hawkeye (before he is imprisoned for “sedition”). Also, you have to admit that Stow and DDL look great together and have sizzling chemistry! One of the best things about this movie is its music, incl. the love theme (which was inspired by a then-modern Irish song that Mann’s wife liked).

Cora Munro: Why were those people living in this defenseless place?

Hawkeye: After seven years indentured service in Virginia, they headed out here ’cause the frontier’s the only land available to poor people. Out here, they’re beholden to none. Not living by another’s leave.

Though there is the romance between Cora and Hawkeye, this movie is also bring to mind the ideals of Romanticism, where man’s most spiritual attribute was his imagination, nature was imbued w/ the divine, and the best life was stepping to one’s personal drummer. While Duncan stands for British imperialism (the old world), Hawkeye represents American individualism (the new world). Cora admits to Hawkeye that this frontier is very “stirring” to her, perhaps revealing that she’s ready for something new in her life (love).

[1] The love story I liked better was the one played in the background, an story that is absent, yet strongly felt throughout the movie. I am referring to the love story between Eric Schweig’s character, Uncas and Alice Munro, played by Jodhi May. It is the subtleness and the overtone-nature of the love that builds in us a sense of involvement.

Wes Studi is probably the fiercest villain I have seen on screen. His mere presence builds an acute level of intimidation. The character portrayal is flawless, and the casting done is excellent.

[2] “The Last of the Mohicans” was one of the most popular and acclaimed films of 1992. Its vision of early America, as it was during the French and Indian War, is captured in its utter brutality and beauty, complete with the many driving ambitions and clashing cultures of everyone involved.

This movie has a bit of everything, including action, romance, war, and passionate drama.

[3] Yes, there are many battle scenes, great reenactment of the scenery of the novel, and villains in all camps that provide the stormy progress of the novel. But it is in the quiet moments where Chingachgook speaks about the Great Spirit, the sanctity of nature, and his waiting to join the Great Council in the sky as the last of the Mohicans that the film’s power is best communicated. The acting is very fine and the cinematography is splendid.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Movies Under the Sea: “The Hunt for Red October” (1990) & “Crimson Tide” (1995)

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

In November 1984, at the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union creates a new nuclear submarine that runs silent due to a revolutionary propulsion system. The Russian submarine Captain, Marko Ramius (Sir Sean Connery), defects. His goal is taking it to the U.S. to prevent the Russians from using it to start nuclear war against the U.S. -Summary

Listen, I’m a politician which means I’m a cheat and a liar, and when I’m not kissing babies I’m stealing their lollipops. But it also means I keep my options open. -Jeffrey Pelt

Filming started in 1989, w/ the Cold War still going on, but was released in 1990 when the Soviet government announced that the Communist Party was no longer in charge. Producers went on with the release, but using a disclaimer that the story takes place in 1984 (when Tom Clancy’s novel was published). This is the movie debut of Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst who uses his brains (he writes books re: miliary history/speaks Russian) more than his brawn (though he holds the rank of Lt. Cmdr. in the Navy/graduated as a Marine). He is no pushover; Ryan speaks up for himself when it’s needed and doesn’t let others intimidate him. Alec Baldwin accepted the role of Jack Ryan (recently played by John Krasinski in the Amazon Prime series) b/c Harrison Ford turned it down. Kevin Costner turned down the role of Jack Ryan in order to make Dances with Wolves (1990). Director John McTiernan previously worked on Die Hard (1988); the same oversized teddy bear is in this movie. This movie starts out in Russian, then switches to English, as the political officer reads a passage from a book.

I miss the peace of fishing like when I was a boy. Forty years I’ve been at sea. A war at sea. A war with no battles, no monuments… only casualties. I widowed her the day I married her. My wife died while I was at sea, you know. -Capt. Ramius

Before filming, Sir Sean Connery spent time underway aboard the U.S.S. Puffer preparing for his role (Capt. Marko Ramius). He was given Commander status, and allowed to give commands while underway (w/ the Captain beside him). During filming, several actors portraying U.S.S. Dallas crewmen took a cruise off the coast of San Diego on the U.S.S. Salt Lake City a Los Angeles-class submarine. Cmdr. Thomas Fargo ordered his crew to treat actor Scott Glenn (Cmdr. Bart Mancuso) as equal rank, first giving reports to him, then give the same report to Glenn. The actor said he based his performance on Fargo: “whatever good happened in the performance, basically I owe to now Admiral Fargo, thank you sir.” Connery was in the Royal Navy before becoming an actor; Glenn spent 3 yrs. in the Marines.

[to himself, just before being lowered off a helicopter] Next time, Jack, write a goddamn memo. -Jack Ryan

[To himself, imitating Ramius] “Ryan, some things in here don’t react well to bullets.” Yeah, like me. I don’t react well to bullets. -Jack Ryan

Star Trek: TNG fans will will notice that Ryan’s wife Cathy is played (in one scene only) by Gates McFadden (best known as Dr. Beverly Crusher). After she rejoined TNG, Anne Archer took over the role; Cathy lost the English accent (which McFadden had used). James Earl Jones (Adm. James Greer) was the only actor to reprise his role in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994) where Ford takes over as Ryan. Jones also served in the Army as a young man. Fred Thompson (Adm. Painter) and Courtney B. Vance (Seaman Jones- another brainy guy) would go on to be part of the Law & Order franchise. The international cast includes Aussie Sam Neill (Capt. Borodin), Brit Peter Firth (Cmdr. Putin), Brit Tim Curry (Dr. Petrov), and Swede Stellan Skarsgard (Capt. Tupolev).

[1] It took a concept that is inconceivable to most people (living in a boat underwater with people trying to blow you up) and brought it up close and personal. The resulting suspense and excitement for this type of film is always extremely entertaining and this film delivers nicely.

[2] High tension and realistic (emphasis on that last word) depictions of modern warfare make for an excellent story.

[3] Baldwin, in what is and will probably be his career best role ever, shines as the intelligent and patriotic Jack Ryan, a thinking man’s hero. Connery lends incredible presence, as usual, to his interpretation of Ramius.

[4] The movie’s chief strengths are its moody lighting, its unrelenting pace, and especially its deep bench of acting talent. Connery suggests a note of uncertainty to Ramius that keeps the audience on its toes. For the longest time, we don’t know what he’s up to. Baldwin plays Ryan in a very realistic way that establishes his basically gentle, bookish nature but underscores the depths of his heroism as he pursues an increasingly dangerous path no one else believes in. Scott Glenn is terrific as a crusty U.S. sub commander…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Crimson Tide (1995)

In the face of the ultimate nuclear showdown, one man has absolute power and one man will do anything to stop him.

-Tag line

When some Russian rebels take control of some ICBM’s, the Americans prep for battle. Among the vessels sent is the nuclear sub, USS Alabama. They have a new X.O. (second in command) in Cmdr. Hunter (Denzel Washington), who hasn’t seen much action. Capt. Ramsey (Gene Hackman) gives an order for a drill after a dangerous incident (fire in the galley) and Hunter disagrees w/ how Ramsey handled it. It’s obvious that Ramsey doesn’t think much of Hunter b/c Hunter is college-educated; Ramsey worked his way up. They’re given orders to attack, but when in the process of receiving another order, the ship’s communications are damaged (cutting off the full message). Ramsey decides to continue with their previous order, while Hunter wants to reestablish contact first. That’s when the two men’s philosophies of war collide… and the tension rises!

This is probably my fave action movie, though this isn’t a familiar genre for me. There is much to admire- the directing (by Tony Scott), acting, intensity, music, and a few moments of humor (provided by Quentin Tarantino- who punched up the script). Washington solidifies his star status by having equal billing w/ Hackman, as we see in the posters. Tension between them grows b/c of their differing ages, races, personalities and philosophies on war. The cast includes Viggo Mortensen (Weps- Hunter’s close pal), James Gandolfini (Dougherty), George Dzundza (Cob), Danny Nucci (Rivetti), Steve Zahn (Barnes), former child star Ricky Shroeder (Hellerman), and a very young Ryan Phillippe.

The early scenes do much to set up the main conflict of the film. For example when members of the crew discuss Carl Von Clausewitz, and his 1832 work Vom Kriege (“On War”), the intellectual showdown occurs between Ramsey and Hunter. This scene not only heightens the tension, but also reveals the different philosophies of these two men, what they believe in, why they are there. This short scene goes a long way to setting up why each of these characters are so unbending when the crisis presents itself.

Crimson Tide possesses one of the most intense moments in film: two great actors eye-to-eye, portraying characters absolutely certain of their actions, absolutely convinced that the other’s course will lead to disaster. Washington believes, with good reason, that Hackman is unfit to command because he is disregarding naval procedures. Hackman believes, with good reason, that Washington is disobeying an order and instigating a mutiny. A possible nuclear exchange and the deaths of billions hang in the balance.

The cast – all of them – are spectacular, and the directing is masterful. […] More than just a cautionary tale, this is a very human drama about who people become under extreme conditions, and how they work out problems to reach solutions, or fail to do so. If that final sentence sounds cryptic, then let it entice you to see the film so you can figure out what I mean for yourself.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 4)

Introduction

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

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

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

Season 4: Selected Episodes

Episode 1: Scorpion, Part II 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 2: The Gift

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 4: Nemesis

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

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

[last lines]

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

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

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 6: The Raven

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Excerpt from IMDB review

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

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

-Jammer’s Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 14: Message in a Bottle

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

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

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

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

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 15: Hunters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Janeway: Plenty of time.

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

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

-Excerpts from Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 16: Prey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven of Nine: You will fail.

Janeway: And you have just crossed the line!

***

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

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

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

***

[last lines]

Seven of Nine: It is puzzling.

Janeway: What’s that?

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

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

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

Janeway: As you were.

***

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

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

-Excerpts from Jammer’s Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

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

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

-Comment from Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 21: The Omega Directive

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

[last lines]

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

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

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

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

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 23: Living Witness

[first lines]

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

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

[in the historical simulation]

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

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

Quarren: You’re trying to protect yourself.

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

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

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

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

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 25: One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

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

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

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 26: Hope and Fear

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

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

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

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

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

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

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

-Jammer’s Reviews

“Star Trek: Voyager” (Season 3)

Introduction

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

Season 3: Selected Episodes

Episode 1: Basics: Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 2: Flashback

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

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

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

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

Sulu: You better believe it.

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

Episode 6: Remember

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

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 11: The Q and the Grey

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

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

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

Janeway: Not big enough.

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

Episode 12: Macrocosm

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

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

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

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Episode 15: Coda

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

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

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

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

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

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 16: Blood Fever

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

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

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

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

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

Episode 17: Unity

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

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

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

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

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

-Jammer’s Reviews

Episode 23: Distant Origin

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

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

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

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

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

Chakotay: Someday. Eyes open.

Gegen: Eyes open.

Episode 25: Worst Case Scenario

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Excerpt from IMDB review

Episode 26: Scorpion

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

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

-Jammer’s Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Chakotay has reservations about Janeway’s plan]

Janeway: Do you trust me, Chakotay?

Chakotay: That isn’t the issue.

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

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

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

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

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

“Star Trek: DS9” – Season 3 (Episodes 1 & 2: “The Search, Parts I & 11”)

Part I

Dax: …he could never see a set of admiral’s stars on your collar. He thought that just making the decisions would never satisfy you. You had to implement them, see the results, face the consequences. Curzon always thought you were the kind of man who had to be in the thick of things – not behind some desk at Headquarters.

Sisko: He was a smart old man, wasn’t he?

The crew of DS9 is preparing for an expected attack by the Jem’Hadar, but it’s not looking good. In every scenario they’ve run, w/in 2 hrs, the station will be taken over my these new baddies. Suddenly, a ship is detected very close to the station- yikes! But no worries- they’re being hailed by Sisko (Avery Brooks)- back after 2 mos. on Earth at Starfleet HQ. We see the Defiant (a prototype of a new class of starships originally designed to fight the Borg) that has a cloaking device (borrowed from the Romulans)! Starfleet and Sisko’s idea is not to wait for the Jem’Hadar to attack, but to go into Dominion’s territory in order to locate the Founders. The time for diplomacy is (probably) over, so the Federation needs to try new tactics.

[A male from a new alien race- the Karemma- comes on board the Defiant]

Ornithar: Our only contact with the Dominion has been through the Vorta. I have no idea who they report to; all I know is that the Vorta say to do something, and you do it.

Sisko: Why?

Ornithar: Because if you do not, they will send in the Jem’Hadar. And then you die.

This is the first time that we hear Sisko talk of his love for Bajor; he and Jake (Cirroc Lofton) now think of DS9 as home. It’s also the first appearance of the Wardroom- where the senior officers meet. Ron Moore (who joined the writing team in S3) explained that the character of Michael Eddington (Ken Marshall) was created to fill in when Colm Meaney was away doing a film. Over the course of S3, the writers decided to expand the character. The Romulans obviously consider the Dominion to be a greater threat than the Federation; on the later seasons of TNG, the Federation had improved relationships w/ their old enemies. T’Rul (Martha Hackett)- the no-nonsense Romulan female- was created to be a recurring character. Producers realized that the character wouldn’t offer enough story material to warrant keeping her around (after these 2 eps); Hackett went on to play a key role on Star Trek: Voyager.

Moore (he started on TNG) and Behr (co-executive producer) have more freedom to innovate (moving away from usual tropes of TOS and TNG). This ep was written by Moore; it was directed by Kim Friedman. Jonathan West came on as Director of Photography (DP); he also went on to direct some eps. The studio model of the Defiant was designed by James Martin and constructed by Tony Meininger, who thought the initial design was a bit too chunky; he took inspiration from Ferraris to streamline the model, giving it a sleeker look in later eps.

Part II

Quark: I have a dream – a dream that one day all people, Human, Jem’Hadar, Ferengi, Cardassians will stand together in peace… around my dabo tables!

Odo (Rene Auberjonois) has finally found his home- a planet in the Omarion nebula. A female shapeshifter (Salome Jens) explains that they were once a race of explorers and were rejected and hunted down by “solids” (humanoids). She encourages him to learn about their ways, so he’ll be ready for their way of bonding (the Great Link). Kira (Nana Visitor) tries to send a message to Sisko, but finds out all outgoing frequencies are blocked by a subterranean device. Of course, she (quietly) investigates further.

Forced to abandon the Defiant during the Jem’Hadar attack a few days ago, Sisko and Bashir (Alexander Siddig) are on a runabout when they’re rescued by Dax (Terry Farrell) and O’Brien (Colm Meaney). They appear to have made contact w/ the Founders and convinced them of their peaceful intentions. In no time, a peace conference is already scheduled and one of the Founders is on DS9. Did that make anyone suspicious (on first viewing)? Sisko starts having doubts when he finds out the Romulans (who we know are a highly advanced/powerful alien race) are excluded from negotiations. Also, Jem’Hadar are given leeway to do whatever they want on the station; they fight w/ Bashir and O’Brien in Quark’s bar.

Odo: Then teach me what I need to know.

Female Shapeshifter: I’ll do what I can. But in the end, this is another journey you’ll have to make on your own. And when it is over, you’ll be ready to take your place in the Great Link.

This ep was written by Behr (who went on to become showrunner) and directed by Jonathan Frakes (who I consider Number One in my heart from TNG). Natalija Nogulich plays Admiral Nechayev for the final time; she appeared on several eps of TNG. Molly Hagan (Eris) wasn’t available to reprise her role of Eris from the S2 finale, so the character of Borath was created. Originally, the Vorta were written to be the god-like Founders of the Dominion; this changed between the S2 finale and S3 (where we see that the Changelings are the Founders). This explains why Eris never acknowledged Odo as a Founder when she came to DS9.

A viewer wrote that the Dominion (which was fleshed out by Robert Hewitt Wolfe) was like a mirror (evil) version of the Federation; the Jem’Hadar are warriors like Klingons, the Vorta are diplomats like Vulcans, and Changelings stay a step ahead like Romulans. The sudden realization that the wormhole hasn’t been destroyed and that none of the events Sisko and the others experienced really happened is a deus ex machina ending. However, rather than a quick resolution, the writers claimed that the point was “it was all a dream” ending. The writers wished to show how powerful the Dominion was- so far advanced in tech that they could play w/ the Federation. Also, they showed that the real story was Odo’s personal journey.