Star Trek Voyager Voyages: Season 3

Season 3 of Star Trek: Voyager, begins by going back to the Basics

Episode 43: Basics, Part 2

The crew must learn to survive on the inhospitable planet as the Doctor, Crewman Suder and Paris attempt to regain control of the ship.

Let me rewrite the synopsis for this one: The crew encounters some really cheesy neanderthals in jumpsuits and a terribly rendered CGI space slug, ruining what could have been a really great Die Hard-esque episode with Suder crawling around in Jefferiess tubes to regain control of the ship. 

Suder gets killy in the Basics

Besides being a bit ridiculous and poorly written, the entire storyline on the planet is pointless since you flat-out know they’re going to be rescued. This is Star Trek: Voyager not Star Trek: 10,000 BC so obviously they’re getting back on the ship by the end.

You could make the same criticism of the Suder storyline except that seeing how he and the Doctor are going to recapture the ship is an inherently interesting plot device (another reason the story on the planet is pointless, their actions have nothing to do with getting the ship back).

Plus there’s a part of you that just wants to see Suder kill a mess of people, try not to enjoy doing it, but being efficient and merciless in a way few characters ever are on Trek. I feel Suder could have been one of the best Trek characters ever if they’d given him this episode. But then, how can you give the whole season opener to a sociopath who’s destined to die?

Anyway, not surprisingly, it’s not even Chakotay’s baby and even less surprisingly Seska dies. Loose ends all tied up. I also finally remembered who exactly it was that her whole character was cribbed from: Marlena from the classic TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror”.

Episode 44: Flashback

Tuvok experiences brain-damaging flashbacks to his service on the Excelsior. He and the captain attempt to find the reason for the flashbacks, believed to be a suppressed memory, through a joint mindmeld.

Kathryn  Janeway as a child

I think Tuvoc performs more mindmelds than any other Vulcan in history. And it never works out okay. There’s a nice WTF multicultural memory montage at the end. Not sure what to make of the Sulu cameo other than it was another opportunity for Janeway to take the high Starfleet horse and brag about how she’s a much more evolved sort of captain than Kirk, et al.

Even when she’s completely lost in the Delta Quadrant and should probably be a bit more of a cowboy and just get her people home.

Episode 45: The Chute

Tom Paris and Harry Kim are trapped in a prison. Tom gets stabbed trying to protect Kim leaving Kim trying to find an escape plan alone. Simultaneously Voyager is trying to find a way to prove their innocence.

This would be another one of those “hater tease” episodes where it looks like either Harry or Tom might be getting written out. Except that about halfway through you realize you’re actually enjoying both of them. Even aside from the prison-love fanfic writing itself big time, these are some engaging performances.

Admittedly Tom and Harry are more interesting due to the prisoners having aggression chips implanted in their brains. This becomes evident when they get back to the ship, the chips are removed and they instantly revert to being insufferable douches.

At the end you might wish one of them, perhaps Harry specifically, didn’t make it out of the prison.

Episode 46: The Swarm

Voyager encounters a swarm of ships while trying to take a shortcut through a space belonging to a hostile species, while the Doctor begins to experience memory loss.

Remember two episodes ago when Janeway was being all holier than thou about following Starfleet regulations even in the Delta Quadrant? Well, she’s completely willing to arbitrarily chuck all that aside today. Yee-haw! We’re going to cut (up to) 15 months off of this journey by invading another species sovereign space!

Wut? Rilly? With all the time they’ve devoted to Janeway being a by-the-book captain, they should have at least made the carrot a little more than a measly 15 months. Especially since they have no idea if they can make it home at all anyway.

I did enjoy them finally meeting a humanoid culture whose language the universal translator could not translate. About time. Though you’d expect Janeway, being em-effing diplomat extraordinaire Kate Janeway, would have found a way to communicate with them and be the first person in the sector come to an understanding with the insectoid marauders. After all, this is how Starfleet rolls.

Nope. Voyager just kills a shit ton of them and carries on. Yippie-ki-yay muthafuckahs!

Wut? Rilly?

Episode 47: False Profits

The crew encounter two Ferengi posing as gods.

Ferengi slaves Voyager False Profits

When I saw the title of this episode I thought, “I wonder what kind of Ferengi-like race they’re going to encounter here.” But no, it’s those two Ferengi who got sucked down a wormhole in TNG.

A far better TNG tie-in than shoe-horning Riker into that first Q episode. I wonder if they show up in DS9 after this. Anyway, an enjoyably light episode. Very TOS in many respects (and not just in the costumes of the slave girls).

Episode 48: Remember

B’Elanna experiences vivid dreams.

The crew clearly hadn’t seen the TNG episode “Violations” because it took them a while to figure out what was going on. Though the set up was lifted directly from that episode, the writers take it somewhere else—they marry Romeo and Julliet with the classic Trek trope of heavy-handed socio-political allegory.

In this case it’s an allegory about Holocaust deniers or perhaps deniers of more contemporary genocides in Serbia and Africa. The “We have to remember in order to make sure it never happens again” message is a little more poignant in that light. Regardless, it’s a solid episode.

My only real critique (other than a lighter hand could have been employed) would be “Remember” has to be the most cop-out of all ambiguous Star Trek cop-out titles ever.

Episode 49: Sacred Ground

Kes is left comatose after contacting an energy field around a rock.

This is a Captain Crazypants episode. There’s something incredibly enjoyable about watching Janeway go on a vision quest (in order to save Kes). This version of Janeway at any rate. The science-centric, closed-minded, cocky, arrogant Janeway.

For a woman who’s encountered the Q, she’s oddly unwilling to accept this culture’s “Holy Spirits” might be some kind of similar being and looks only for a scientific explanation to do with energy fields. Nevermind that in other episodes she’s completely open-minded about exploring all possible explanations to a problem. But it serves the plot she shuts down those possibilities and, frankly, she’s a more interesting character when she’s stubbornly scientific.

I wish I could say these various episodes paint a rich and multifaceted picture of her character, but they don’t. Unless that picture is bi-polar. Or sloppily written.

Captain Crazypants’ “crisis of faith” (in science) at the end of the episode would have carried more weight if it didn’t seem slightly out of character. Or more accurately it just resets her character back to what we understood of it from previous episodes.

Episode 50-51: Future’s End

A 29th century timeship causes a time paradox when it accidentally sends itself and Voyager to two different periods in 20th century Earth.

This two-parter is sort of a mash-up of Galactica 1980 and Star Trek IV with Tom, Tuvok and Janeway going back to 1996 Los Angeles. With the characters set on modern day Earth, I noticed how there’s something about the way these (and the few previous) episodes have been shot which is much more “cinematic” in their production values. Not ground-breaking cinema, but they look a bit more like a film than a TV show. Or they look more like how TV shows look now.

Anyway, that’s just an aside. Like Star Trek IV there’s a lot of fish-out-of-water humour inherent to the story which makes both these episodes enjoyable (or annoying).

Ed Begley Jr. is kind of a ridiculous guy to cast as your big bad. Sarah Silverman plays a California girl with an East coast accent? I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say they don’t get stuck in 1996 or that they aren’t sent back to the Delta Quadrant at the end of Part 2.

Tuvok Shakur

I’m a little disappointed Sarah Silverman never said “Tuvok Shakur” once.

Episode 52: Warlord

Kes is controlled by an alien warlord named Tieran.

Body swap episodes are always a good time. I wonder why that is? Probably mostly that you get to see an actor play a vastly different character than you’re used to seeing them play. The entire time I couldn’t decide if Jennifer Lien was doing an amazing job or was playing it beyond over the top.

I definitely liked her as Tieran better than Leigh McCloskey, who I couldn’t really tell apart from your run of the mill Kazon when he should have been more of a Khan.

Anyway, they shied away from a lesbian kiss so this episode is dead to me. I don’t know if it would have been the first prime-time lesbian kiss on American TV but remember when Star Trek used to push the boundaries regarding such things as first prime-time kisses?

Despite that, the episode is pretty great.

Episode 53: The Q and the Grey

Q visits Voyager with a proposal for Janeway as civil war breaks out in the Q Continuum.

Kathie Janeway and Q

One thing you can always count on with Q episode is it’s going to be a roller-coater ride. Suzie Plakson must be a giant. She towers over everyone on screen. Yep, according to the interwebs she’s 6′ 1½”. Her delivery is baffling in this episode. I appreciate Janeway’s film noir gun moll jive but it seems odd that a Q would have the same affectation.

Once again “Kathy” saves the Q and DOESN’T ASK TO BE RETURNED TO THE ALPHA QUADRANT. Some kind of blah blah about doing it on their own. Apparently even the Q can’t solve their problems on their own but the crew of Voyager is going to rely on their own ingenuity.

It’s time for Kim to stage another mutiny.

Episode 54: Macrocosm

Voyager answers help from a mining colony about a viral outbreak that manages to sneak onto Voyager through the transporter, leaving only Janeway and the doctor to stop it.

Janeway goes the full Ellen Ripley on some macro-virus giant insect things in a pretty creepy, tense episode. End of story.

Janeway goes the full Ellen Ripley

Episode 55: Fair Trade

Voyager approaches the edge of Neelix’s knowledge and a trading station.

Considering Janeway’s personal obsessions, I thought this episode would be all about coffee beans and her ethical quandary about how they were harvested.

Nope. It’s Neelix acting like a wiener. Which should have been more annoying than it was. I suppose the “noose tightening” intrigue plot was engaging enough to distract from the obvious questions about whether or not Neelix was acting completely out of character. And where the hell was Kes in all of this? She usually keeps him level headed but she’s inexplicably not around. I guess that drove the plot and Lien had the week off.

Anyways, at least Neelix seems to be aware it’s absurd he’s not only on board Voyager, but a seemingly senior member of the crew. Still don’t get that one. I guess that’s one of Captain Bi-Polar Pant’s quirks.

Episode 56: Alter Ego

The crew enjoys a luau on the holodeck and Tuvok discovers an unusual hologram.

Vulcan’s only exist in Star Trek so that now and then they can be confronted with how they emotionally isolate themselves. Tim Russ does as good a job here as any Vulcan since Leonard Nimoy but I couldn’t help feeling, yeah, we saw this with Spock already.

This is a problem that becomes more apparent on Enterprise with T’Pol. It’s never really done bad, but it’s really been done to death even by the time this episode comes along. An episode I rather enjoyed in spite of the rehashing of material.

Episode 57: Coda

Janeway appears to be trapped in a time-loop with different events, but all ending in her death.

This was a “hater tease” episode for the anti-Janeway contingency. It really feels like a bon voyage episode for a character, and actually a better one than those types of episodes normally are.

Anyway, Kate does not go towards the light, as we knew all along from next 4 seasons of DVDs sitting beside us. Still, for yet another time-loop episode, it keeps you guessing well enough.

I’m really not on board with the Janeway/Chakotay UST they’ve been trying to build lately. It’s like someone had an idea for character pairings when they first started the show and wouldn’t let go even when the actors proved they have no chemistry together. Such as the disastrous Kes/Neelix pairing.

I thought the B’Elanna/Chakotay and Janeway/Tuvok pairings had potential but the writers seem bent on hook-ups that don’t work at all, on any level. Even the Kes/Tom thing never really felt right.

Are nerds who’ve never had a single sexual relationship the only people writing this show?

Episode 58: Blood Fever

Vorik passes on the Pon farr to B’Elanna.

Vorik going Pon Farr

That weirdo Vulcan skulking in the background of the last few episodes, Vorik, gets an episode here. Oh yeah, the other thing Vulcans are on the show for is to haul out the Pon Farr whenever no one has a good idea for an episode.

To be fair, this was an okay twist on the usual Pon Farr nonsense, but we were let down the fight music from “Amok Time” wasn’t used in the inevitable fight scene. I was pretty sure Vorik was going to die in this episode, but he didn’t. Maybe he’ll be around to act like a weirdo in future episodes. Or more likely he’ll just inexplicably vanish. Douche.

Episode 59: Unity

Chakotay answers a call for help on a planet and finds himself in the middle of a shoot-out between two groups of people while the Voyager crew discover an abandoned Borg ship.

Emancipated Borg, a nice twist. Decent episode. Mind meld sex. I’ve got nothing.

Episode 60: Darkling

The Doctor tries to graft other personalities into his program, but the resulting ‘upgrade’ causes him to develop an evil alternate personality.

Dr. Doctor and Mr. Hyde. Oh, remember back when the warlord Tieran broke up with Neelix when he was possessing Kes’s body? They actually stayed broken up! WTF? What part of that wasn’t Kes speaking don’t they understand?

Anyway, I’m glad they did because the sooner that frickin’ gong show ended the better. But given the previous two years of character development, Neelix is taking it way too well. He should be suicidal or homicidal or spermicdal or something. A complete mess of emotions. They don’t even bother to make him a suspect in this episode when someone tries to kill Kes’s new boyfriend. Who’s (not) script editing these things?

Regardless this is a big Doctor/Kes UST episode so I’m happy as a clam on a hot tin roof.

Episode 61: Rise

Voyager helps a planet with asteroid problems. Tuvok and Neelix crash-land on the planet and attempt to fix a maglev space elevator.

Another Star Trek whodunit where, naturally, the guy who seems like the obvious who did, in fact, dunit. Tuvok’s sarcastic jokes are getting better. I hope they keep going with that.

Episode 62: Favorite Son

Harry Kim is contacted by a planet full of women.

Harry Kim annoyed by girls

Mantis Women From Outer Space! The reason Harry Kim is the focus of this episode is because Tom would have died the first night there. This felt a bit like someone found an unused plot synopsis from TOS.

Which is a good and a bad thing.

Episode 63: Before and After

Shortly before her death in the future, Kes begins to travel backwards in time, with a portion of events occurring in the Year of Hell.

Okay, ignoring for a moment that this episode was only written as AN EXCUSE TO GIVE KES A NEW HAIRSTYLE, it’s pretty good. Even if they really should have titled it “After and Before” instead. I hope some script editor got fired over that oversight.

Kes as an old woman Before and after

Jennifer Lien does some of the best “old person acting” I think I’ve ever seen on a TV show. She certainly blows Brent Spiner’s old Dr. Soong out of the water, proving once again she was one of the show’s strongest assets. Perhaps it’s because she always looks a little like she’s had a stroke. Too bad she decided to leave the show. Especially after they randomly gave her such a ridiculous amount of hair.

Speaking of which, for some reason The Doctor has Leland Palmer’s hair.

Worth noting: Probably the single ickiest thing to happen on this show, including Tom and Janeway doing the nasty as salamanders, is Harry Kim marrying the child of Tom and Kes. Gross. Fittingly, Kim’s son is played by one of the most annoying kids to come out of the annoying Star Trek child actor farms. Though bonus points for possibly being transgendered.

Episode 64: Real Life

The Doctor creates a family on the holodeck.

Hilarity ensues. And some brutal tragedy.

If I were a conspiratorially minded person, I suspect this episode was written by the anti-Kes/Doctor shippers on the writing staff as a way of taking The Doctor “off the market.” Of course, I doubt we’ll ever see this family again as this is clearly one of Doc’s character-building experiences which will have no bearing on the rest of his life. You know, as that’s how character-building experiences work.

Note: The annoying Star Trek child actor farm finally produced a kid who can kind of act. Glenn Walker Harris Jr. does a good job switching between annoying mouth-breathing nerd to annoying Klingon gangsta wannabe. What would you call a white kid who wants to be a Klingon? A Kligger? A Whingon?

Episode 65: Distant Origin

A reptilian scientist trying to prove his heretical theories kidnaps Chakotay and draws the entire crew in conflict between his race’s doctrine and the startling truth about its origin.

A heavy-handed episode about Darwinism vs. Creationism. But well-done in the classic Trek manner. I absolutely loved how the first half of the episode is told from the point of view of the Veer scientists. Such a nice break from the standard formula. You really get to explore the alien culture in a way you don’t in most episodes since they focus primarily on the Voyager (or Enterprise, or DS9) crew. I hope—but am not going to hold my breath—it’s an approach they visit again.

Episode 66: Displaced

Crew members are replaced one-by-one with aliens from an unknown race.

It was almost too distracting to have Kenneth Tigar and Nancy Youngblut in the same episode. Who? I had to IMDb them myself, actually. They’re not exactly household names  and it’s for precisely that reason they’re distracting. Both are actors you’ve seen guest on about a million and a half TV shows so you spend the whole time they’re on screen saying, “Who is that?”

Or maybe that was just me. Anyway, in some ways this is a quintessential Trek episode—devious aliens outwitted by an even more devious Starfleet captain.

In some ways it’s not quintessential Trek at all. There’s no grey area, there’s no balanced approach to understanding the aliens’ motivations which aren’t necessarily evil, just happen to be at odds with the crew’s objectives.

These aliens are simply dicks and get their ass handed to them. Sometimes that’s refreshing.

Episode 67: Worst Case Scenario

B’Elanna Torres discovers a holodeck program where Chakotay and the Maquis rebel against Janeway.

This is another holodeck villian takes over the ship episode. It’s also the return of Seska as a cartoonish hologram of her former self.

She was great as an agent provocateur before she “came out” as Cardassian and turned into a weird transporter accident mash-up of Snidely Whiplash and Lady Macbeth. Too silly and, frankly, boring. But, unable to recognize this, the writers seem married to the idea she was the best adversary ever.

And I guess her cartoonishness is fine in this instance since, technically, she’s merely Tuvok’s biased impression of Seska, a caricature, and not Seska herself. I do hope this is the last we see of her though.

Episode 68: Scorpion Part 1

Voyager must pass through Borg space, but the arrival of a new species causes problems. 

Species 8472

Season 3 cliffhanger and the return of slightly more cinematic production values. Part 1 is probably the most truly freaky Voyager episode since that Alien rip-off with the macro-viruses. Species 8472 is the inevitable one-upping of The Borg. Where The Borg go about their mission with dispassionate efficiency and ultimately see their mandate of assimilation as doing the assimilated species a favour, Species 8472 just have a mantra of “the weak will perish.”

That’s some pretty gripping, chilling stuff. Even if it makes no sense at all. Hell, sharks and wasps aren’t that needlessly kill-happy. This level of indiscriminate malevolence is just plain silly if you stop to think about it. There’s no way their culture could sustain itself. Luckily, the writers don’t give you time to think about it in the episode.

And really, since Species 8472 only exist as a device to force Voyager into an alliance with the devil The Borg, that’s okay. Bring on the magic that is Seven of Nine!

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