Star Trek: Voyager, Season 6. We’re almost at the end of our voyage home. Still waiting for the whales to show up.
Episode 121: Equinox, Part II
The crew of the USS Equinox attempt to elude the USS Voyager in order to exploit the nucleogenic lifeforms in a bid to return home.
Janeway goes Captain Ahab (or Picard in First Contact) on Captain Rudy Ransom’s ass. A little more crazypants than usual. A generally okay episode, but nothing more.
I liked the part where Chakotay prevents Janeway from water-boarding a crew member of the Equinox . You’d assume this would create some tension between them in the future. You assume that, but you’d be wrong. Or maybe Chakotay’s just used to her nonsense by now.
Episode 122: Survival Instinct
Three Borg from Seven’s past appear, and ask to be completely separated from the Collective.
In some sort of bizarre breach of protocol, Voyager throws an open house. And hey! Three more ex-Borg!
But these ones don’t have to wear skin-tight Lycra cat suits. Apparently the Doctor just likes to dress Seven this way. Or Janeway does, depending on what kind of slash you’re shipping.
Anyway, mostly what I took away from this episode is: Why does Seven wear the cat suits?
Episode 123: Barge of the Dead
B’Elanna’s shuttle is hit by an ion storm and she awakens to find herself among Klingons in the Barge of the Dead, on the way to Klingon Hell.
One of those weird Trek episodes where religious beliefs turn out to be literal. Apparently the weirdo Viking afterlife of the Klingons is real and B’Elanna goes there to teach her a lesson about being bitchy. That’s fine. Until the next time there’s an episode where they claim religion is a thing of the past by the 24th century.
And why is B’Elanna’s afterlife real when Neelix’s isn’t? That doesn’t seem fair.
Episode 124: Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy
The Doctor adds daydreaming to his program, imagining himself as the Emergency Command Hologram (ECH) aboard Voyager; but aliens, tapping into his perceptions to observe the crew, prepare an attack when they believe that what they are seeing in the daydreams is real.
This was fun times. The weirdo aliens were amusing. The Doctor’s creepy fantasies were amusing. The “photonic cannon” was amusing as was the way his command pips would appear. A nice amusing episode.
Episode 125: Alice
Tom Paris becomes obsessed with a salvaged alien shuttlecraft which appears to have a mind of its own.
This is basically Stephen King’s Christine in space. There’s even a nice Misery reference later on to drive that home if you weren’t picking up on it.
One thing I noticed is Robert Duncan McNeill has grown into his Tom Paris character enough that he can carry an episode like this. Tom is still a douche, but he’s a well-portrayed douche now.
Episode 126: Riddles
Returning from a diplomatic mission Tuvok is attacked by a cloaked intruder and suffers neurological damage.
Tim Russ, on the other hand, is one hell of a shitty actor. His brain-damaged man-child Tuvok is absolutely painful to watch.
This episode is also basically just “Tuvix” all over again, especially the ending. Only without the ethical dilemma. And the guy who played Tuvix could actually carry an episode.
Episode 127: Dragon’s Teeth
Voyager discovers a network of subspace passageways, but is forced to land on a planet after being attacked.
So far this is one of my favourite episodes of the season. The plot, as far as the alien commanders go, is basically just “Equinox, Part II” done better. And it’s the old these aliens aren’t what they seem trope.
Well, that’s fine. I don’t have a problem with these do-overs when they do it well. Unlike “Riddles”.
Episode 128: One Small Step
Voyager is nearly hit by a mysterious subspace mass and the crew theorize that the debris of an ancient Earth–Mars ship is inside.
They make some predictions here that are a bit amusing now. Such as the Mars mission of 2032. Well, there’s still 20 years to make that happen, I guess (Edit: I wrote this review before Curiosity landed. Maybe it’s not so far off).
Anyway, Janeway’s crazypants must have ended up in Chakotay’s laundry because he suddenly get’s a case of the Captain Ahab’s and acts completely out-of-character. To the writers’ credit, they do insert a line or two of dialogue between Chakotay and Seven to manufacture this previously non-existent anthropological obsession of his. They don’t usually bother.
Anyway, the Lieutenant John Kelly character was well played by Phil Morris. Too bad he didn’t play the brain-damaged man-child Tuvok.
Episode 129: The Voyager Conspiracy
After assimilating Voyager’s data for the past six years, through an enhancement to her Borg implants, Seven of Nine suspects the ship did not arrive in the Delta Quadrant by accident.
A nice little exploration of that baffling form of mental illness that results in compounding conspiracy theories. Jeri Ryan does some nice body acting as she goes progressively deeper down the rabbit hole. There’s another one of those fanfic-inspiring tender moments with Janeway at the end. All that was missing was the line “You had me at hello.”
Anyway, good episode though it’s another instance of throwing the baby out with the bathwater at the end—Seven being a super-computer seems like it would be a good idea and they just needed to work the kinks out. But then I guess she’d just be Data.
Episode 130: Pathfinder
Barclay gets over-involved with holographic recreations of the Voyager crew in his attempts to contact them. This episode also features Deanna Troi.
Random Reg Barclay episode in which he serves Deanna a bowl of cat food and tells her it’s ice cream. I guess this is meant to illustrate how he’s had a nervous breakdown due to his latest bout with holo-addition.
Anyway, the crux of the episode is he’s figured out a way for Starfleet in the Alpha Quadrant to communicate with Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. The direct result is the end of Tom Paris’ daddy issues as plot-driving device when his daddy tells him he misses and is proud of Tommy boy.
Thank Q, the Prophets and those Norse gods the Klingons seem to like.
Episode131: Fair Haven
The crew enjoy a respite inside a holodeck creation designed by Tom Paris, while Voyager faces the threat of an oncoming storm in space.
The second holo-addition episode in a row. Why do they do that?
Anyway, though the pitfalls of holodeck boning has been done to death in various Treks, in typical Voyager fashion this is one of the better explorations of the trope. After Minuet, Leah Brahms and Barclay’s obsession with Troi, they finally get to the real issues inherent to having relationships with holodeck characters—the ability to edit them and considering the questions of do they even “exist” and if they don’t is it too weird? If they do is it even weirder and unfair to them?
Anyway, I have to say Tom Paris’ holodeck programs are kind of bullshit. Fair Haven? More like Square Haven.
Episode 132: Blink of an Eye
Voyager is trapped in orbit about a planet with a space-time differential such that, while its inhabitants live through years, Voyager experiences mere minutes.
This could be one of the best pure sci-fi episodes even broadcast on TV.
There. I said it.
If I had to show one episode of Star Trek to someone who’s somehow never seen any Star Trek, this might be it. If they don’t like classic sci-fi concepts and plot devices, they’d probably leave hating Star Trek and, well, I say fuck ’em. This was awesome.
Anyway, it’s a little absurd Daniel Dae Kim’s time-displaced character doesn’t stay on Voyager at the end. But he had to leave. He really made Harry Kim look like (more of) a complete tosser.
Episode 133: Vitruoso
Visiting aliens who have never before encountered music become fascinated with the Doctor’s Opera singing, and ask him to leave Voyager and join their society.
During “Blink of an Eye” (episode 135) Mandi said, “I’m ready for another Doctor episode.”
I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Well, they can, but this is still the episode they’ll get.
There’s a long tradition of cock-punching episodes on Star Trek and this one of the cock-punchiest. Not only does Doc get tossed aside by the requisite fickle female, her whole planet follow’s suit. Ka-pow!
Chakotay, Tom Paris, Harry Kim, and Neelix begin to experience horrific flashbacks after an away mission.
There’s been some heavy-handed allegories on Voyager but I’m not sure this can even be classified as allegory. This episode is just straight-up about Vietnam. Far and away some of the worst writing and acting of the series so far. Abysmal.
Episode 135: Tsunkatse
Seven of Nine and Tuvok are kidnapped while on shore leave, and Seven is forced to fight in a gladiatorial contest to the death.
Every once and while Trek throws in a gladiator episode. This one’s as good or better than any of the others. I feel like the plot was cribbed wholesale from something else I’d seen or read, but that’s okay.
A few small qualms:
- Not enough Dwayne Johnson;
- When did the Hirogen get so small? Or was this one supposed to be a midget Hirogen?; and
- At the end of the episode Voyager takes off apparently leaving the rest of the kidnapped gladiators to fend for themselves. Kind of a douche move, that.
Chakotay, Kim, Paris, and Neelix are taken hostage when the Delta Flyer is captured by Borg children in a derelict Cube.
Two words: Borg Baby.
Two more words: Nightmare fodder.
Anyway, despite how the episode should have been called “Borg of the Flies” it was good. As Borg/Seven episodes usually are.
Plus, Borg Baby.
Episode137: Spirit Folk
Problems arise from running the holographic Irish village of Fair Haven non-stop, when a malfunction leads the holographic characters to become self-aware.
Problems arise on the holodeck? Say it ain’t so.
The problem I had with this episode is I feel like the holodeck would operate like a video game. When there’s no Player Characters (Voyager crew members) in the scene the Non-Player Characters (holograms) and scenery would cease to exist. They’d only pop back into existence once, say, Janeway steps back into the pub.
It seems like an absurd amount of energy would have to be wasted to have fully rendered characters visiting each other in the next damn town with no crew members around to see it.
There’s no way a holodeck would be set up to work like that. They have enough problems keeping The Doctor running 24/7. A whole town would stop Voyager dead in the water.
So you simply wouldn’t have the half the town getting drunk in the pub and working themselves up into a superstitious frenzy over Tommy Boy and Katie McQueerpants’ strange friends. Of course, Tom since wrote the program so I guess any absurdity is possible.
Anyway, hilarity ensues.
Episode138: Ashes to Ashes
A deceased crew member resurfaces, claiming to have been resurrected by an alien race who have since adopted her.
I spent the whole episode assuming I’d just forgotten the first Ensign Lindsay Ballard episode. I really liked the idea of bringing back a redshirt. I couldn’t remember her at all but I thought maybe she was that random, previously unseen crew member that Janeway tried to purge from The Doctor’s memory.
Apparently Harry Kim is in such need of constant cock-punching the writers created an ex-crush of his completely out of thin air just to taunt him.
Anyway, it’s a good episode even if it would have been better with an actual resurrected redshirt. Maybe Ensign Wildman. No, wait, she’s supposedly still alive (even if no one’s seen her in months).
Episode139: Child’s Play
The family of Icheb, one of the Borg children, is found, but he is reluctant to rejoin them. Seven, too, is reluctant for him to leave the ship; and his parents are concealing the real reason for desiring his return.
Seven had mommy and daddy issues. Badger and a woman who got murdered on X-Files aren’t what they seem. Borg kids are creepy and annoying. Next.
Episode140: The Good Shepherd
Three crew members who are under-performing are taken on an away mission by Janeway.
According to Mandi this is textbook good leadership and anyone in a managerial position should be forced to watch it. I can’t really argue.
And it’s a good argument for Janeway being the best of the Captains. Crazypants moments aside, she’s the only captain who actually had to shape, lead and inspire her crew.
As is mentioned in this episode, normally under-performing crew members are rotated out. Kirk would have taken these three on an away mission too, but as red-shirted cannon fodder. Picard would have continued to ignore them completely or, maybe, tell Deanna to “take care of it” when she hounded him about how they needed some moral support. Sisko would just yell at them until they resigned. Archer would have… well, I don’t know, pet his dog.
Janeway, reaches out, inspires and wins their loyalty. Leadership.
Anyway, this episode is a fantastic introduction to three intriguing characters I bet we’ll never see again.
Episode141: Live Fast and Prosper
Con artists impersonate Janeway and Tuvok.
Hilarity ensues. LeVar Burton directs a good little episode. And as a bonus, doesn’t appear in it.
You’d think this kind of criminal shenanigans would happen more often, not just in the Delta Quadrant, but in Star Trek in general. I feel like even in Federation territory, space would just be cluttered with con artists and highwaymen. Apparently only the Ferengi are like that.
Maybe I’m unfairly applying my dim views of human nature on all alien races, but I can’t halp feeling interstellar travel would lead to anarchy on a galactic scale.
Bottom line: fun episode.
Torres is stranded on a bronze-age planet after a crash in the Delta Flyer, where she helps a playwright adapt the story of Voyager to the stage. Also, Kim is missing in an escape pod.
I guess B’Elanna decided becoming the central figure in a civilization’s new mythology already violated the Prime Directive so she might as well give them a gratuitous display of the transporter.
And this is supposed to be the “great ending” to the play they were looking for. Even though it’s a kind of random and terrible end to the play.
Also, apparently ancient Greek theatre is a constant across the galaxy.
The whole episode took on a really weird meta aspect where its thesis seemed to be that shows like Star Trek are valuable because they have the power to engender social change. This is told in an episode about characters performing a play populated with characters based on Star Trek characters.
An ambitious concept that pretty much works up until the stupid ending.
A much older and more powerful Kes returns to Voyager, and attempts to travel back in time to change her history.
By far the worst episode of Voyager I’ve seen.
It’s also possibly the worst cameo by a past character in any Star Trek series ever.
First off, Jennifer Lien had aged so much in the few years since she left the show, her “young Kes” was no longer young. If they needed to do something with a re-corporealized Kes (why wasn’t she made of light anymore?) they should have left her in the old lady make-up.
She was more interesting in that form anyway.
And maybe the plot would have been less silly. At least they could have done without unexplained (or not very well explained) things like Tuvok’s temporal hallucinations and why Kes couldn’t achieve her goals as an omnipotent being and instead had to resort to her convoluted DC super-villain plan.
At least their was a big pay off at the end when you find out why she was mad and it took Janeway more than one sentence to convince her not to destroy the ship. I mean, that would be the worst possible ending to an already bad episode, right? Oh, wait…
I feel terrible for everyone involved with this one.
Episode 144: Life Line
The Doctor’s creator, Lewis Zimmerman, is dying in the Alpha Quadrant from a disease similar to the Vidiian phage. The Doctor’s matrix is transferred to Zimmerman’s lab on the Jupiter station, to assist Mr. Barclay and Counsellor Troi in attempting to treat the illness.
True to form, they bounce back with one of the best episodes of any Trek series ever.
Sure, there’s echoes of that episode where Data and Lore hang out with Dr. Soong, but Robert Picardo so blows Brent Spiner’s performance out of the water, you scarcely notice. He does such a good job creating a unique personality for Dr. Zimmerman, it’s almost like watching two different performers.
You almost don’t notice (or mind) Deanna shows up to eat ice cream.
Sadly, a quick perusal of the Internet tells me there’s no follow-up episode where Haley (Zimmerman’s holographic assistant) and Barclay get together. There doesn’t even seem to be a fanfic about it.
WTF? C’mon nerds! Get on the ball!
Episode 145: The Haunting of Deck Twelve
As Voyager travels through a nebula all ship’s power is turned off, giving Neelix an opportunity to tell the Borg children a ghost story.
One of those story told through the eyes of an unreliable narrator episodes that’s a bit of a trope in Star Trek.
This one feels a bit like a missed opportunity not having Neelix’s impressions of the crew be more exaggerated. But then, keeping in mind how poorly it was done in the Season 4 episode “Living Witness” this might be a good thing.
All-in-all, a nice variation on the tired Trek trope Invisible Adversary takes over the ship.
Episode 146 / Season 7, Episode 147: Unimatrix Zero (Parts 1 & 2)
Seven discoveres a virtual reality environment where Borg drones are trying to develop individuality. Janeway, B’Elanna and Tuvok are assimilated by the Borg while attempting to save the group of drones who have developed individuality.
A bit of a disappointment.
As fantastic as she was in “Dark Frontier”, Susanna Thompson puts in a laughable performance as the Borg Queen in this two-parter.
Not her fault though. She’s given nothing to work with. All she does is shake her fist at the viewscreen and exclaim, “Janeway!” like a Saturday morning cartoon villain. That’s not even hyperbole, that’s actually what happens. The character is basically reduced to Queen Arachnia from Tom Paris’ Captain Proton holodeck program.
There’s a few other questions that arise.
- How did this elaborate virtual reality construct, the titular Unimatrix Zero, just happen? So there was a glitch or a mutation and POP! an entire virtual planet is born instantly? More, and better, explanation is needed to maintain my suspension of WTF.
- Then when Janeway, Tuvok and B’Ellana get assimilated, why don’t the Borg realise instantly they’re not connected to the collective? Surely when assimilating beings, that’s one of the main things they monitor most closely.
- And finally, how does knocking the virtual version of the bad Borg drones on the head, send them out of Unimatrix Zero. That kind of makes no sense. They should be entirely impervious to all attacks since non of their nodes are actually being damaged.
Generally, these two-parters are the worst episodes of Voyager. The ideas are too ambitious and there’s simply too much involvement by Berman and Braga who can’t write a reasonable explanation of how a character gets out of a paper bag.
Of course, there are some great Seven moments inside and outside of Unimatrix Zero. Also an amazing scene with The Doctor suppressing his jealousy when he finds out she has an old lover inside the construct. Sorry writers and producers, Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo get full credit for these highlights.
Bottom line: In general, the episode’s concept is interesting and it deserved a better execution that it was given.