ReWatching Star Trek: Voyager, Season 1
Posted October 1, 2016on:
Every Star Trek fan worth their weight in Romulan Ale remembers Voyager. So many firsts in this show – first female captain, first ST adventures solidly outside the Federation, first crew that wasn’t solid star fleet (or even academy graduates!), and I’d tell you about some other firsts, but they are late season spoilers so I ain’t telling. After a wide ranging Star Trek chat with a friend recently, I decided to give the series another go.
Voyager originally aired from 1995 until 2001. I was in high school in 1995 which means I watched the first three seasons religiously, and then who knows after that, because college. I vaguely know what happens at the end of the series, or at least I think I do, but once I get to the last season I’ll be coming across episodes I’ve never seen before.
Like all Star Trek shows, Voyager has great episodes, good episodes, and downright boring episodes. I’m using the Watch/Skip guide over at Liz Tells Frank so I can skip the boring episodes. In her spoiler-free rundown of each season, Liz lets you know which episodes are must watch for the over arching story line, and which can be skipped. Netflix numbers the 2-part pilot as 1 full episode, and Liz numbers the pilot as 2 episodes, so the numbering is off if you watch on Netflix, but the episode titles are correct. Here are my thoughts on the Season 1 episodes I’ve watched so far.
Eps #1 and #2 – Caretaker – In which there is lots of Action! Do you remember how much the pilot episode of DS9 sucked? This pilot has a lot in common with that script, but works about 100 times better. Voyager finds and chases the separatist Maquis ship, and in the process both ships are affected by some technobabble anomaly thing and thrown into the Delta quadrant. This is an episode of everyone meeting each other, Janeway and crew running into new technologies and making educated guesses about what’s going on, meeting new races some of who are friendly and some who aren’t, and all that jazz. There is a ton of action and very little downtime, which makes it difficult to keep track of the characters, but really the only thing that’s important in this episode is getting the series started by dumping the characters in the delta quadrant, making it obvious we’re so not in Kansas anymore, and showing off some spiffy CGI. The episode does what it set out to do, and makes up for DS9’s nearly unwatchable 2-part pilot.
#3 Parallax – A good, but not great episode. The “stuff” happening in this episode – quantum singularity! subspace message from another Federation ship! cause and effect! – pales in comparison to the quieter moments. Janeway has just merged a bunch of separatists into her crew, she’s lost some Federation crewmates, and she’s got to figure out what to do. You want the best talent in your senior officer team, right? But what if your best talent is rough around the edges? Yep, I’m talking about B’Elanna Torres, the half human half Klingon genius engineer who will punch you in the face if she disagrees with you. Janeway insists on getting to know Torres, on giving her a change, on judging her on her merits rather than her grades at the Academy. This is a really good Janeway / Torres episode.
#7 Eye of the Needle – One of my all time favorite episodes! Ok, it’s another quantum singularity / wormhole episode, that that gets old fast, but this is episode is SO GOOD. Wormhole means we are going home, right? HAHAHAHA. Wrong! I really dig the tension and the twist at the end of this episode. I’m not going to spoil it for you. Just know that if you ever get into a Voyager conversation with me that I’ll invariably say “you remember that episode with the wormhole and the Romulan guy? oh, I love that episode!”
#11 State of Flux – Another awesome episode! This far into the season, Janeway has pissed off the Kazon, and these guys just seem to be everywhere. A piece of Federation technology shows up on a Kazon ship, and the big question suddenly is “who is the traitor?”. Janeway, Chakotay, and Tuvok all have their suspicions, they just need to draw the traitor out. Cat and Mouse games are fun!
Something that really sets Voyager apart from the other Star Trek shows is the relationships the Captain has with the Crew. Janeway seems to want to emotionally connect with her crew, and get a better understanding of what they are facing. Sure, Picard asked his friends how they were doing (remember all those French breakfasts with Beverly Crusher?), but Janeway goes out of her way to build a relationship even with the crewmates she’s not so sure about, people like B’Elanna and The Doctor. They ship is a mixed crew of Starfleet members and some separatists whose ship went down, and the only way for everyone to survive (and to give drama on the show) is to blend the crews. There’s also a few aliens who tag along, a digital holographic doctor, and later a Borg. Teamwork under Kirk and Picard was easy – it was literally written into Starfleet culture. Deep Space Nine changed things up a bit with a more diverse crew and side characters who played their cards close to their chest. But Janeway’s situation takes it even further. Her crew can’t be assigned to other ships or left at a starbase somewheres. Everyone on this ship has to get along or they are all going to die. And even if they don’t die, there is no guarantee they will ever get home. She’s got to be both captain and caring parent to her crew. Now that I’m watching this show at an older age, I’m really seeing how Janeway truly cares about her crew in ways other Star Fleet leaders didn’t need to. I’m probably giving this show more gravitas than it deserves, but it’s got a subtle dynamic I’m really digging.
Since I’ve turned into a huge couch potato this year, stay tuned for more Voyager chit-chat, and more Lost chit-chat.