Star Trek: Voyager (Season Four)

Much has happened since my last Voyager post, some of it terribly sad (RIP, Trey Sterling) and some of it even worse (RIP, Trey Sterling.) I'd like to dedicate this post to the memory of my departed friend, and if his spirit is reading these words: sorry it's not, like a statue, or the Delta Quadrant Tropic Dancers, or something way cooler than some dumbass rankings of Voyager. But I imagine when you make your way through all the Daredevils in Lucien's Library, you'll need something to fill the gap between that and your next project. Hope it gives you a chuckle or two.

The world - and all the quadrants around it - lost a damn good one. Although we only knew each other a handful of years and all of it through the internet, I really loved hearing from him and bs-ing back and forth. He will be missed. By many. 

So say we all.

There really is no kind of segue from that into the below - is there ever? - and perhaps it's the wrong place to append such sentiments in the first place. It makes sense and feels okay to me, though.

"Life is not a support system for art. It's the other way around." 
- Stephen King


Voyager comes to a standstill when the computer detects extremely powerful Omega radiation in the vicinity, triggering a super-secret Starfleet protocol that Janeway takes mega-seriously.

I never quite understood what the hell Omega was all about. That could be my problem, but I'm not sure it ever made any sense. More importantly, though: (a) they say it a few thousand times too many, (b) "The Omega 13!" and (c) None of this ever really feels like VOY to me. I don't think they successfully integrated it with the show's strengths.

More nitpicking: the thing that Seven does (giving everyone in her work crew designations) is dumb. And Harry never seems like Harry. 

Season 4 is pretty strong, and even this episode isn't terrible. And while there's more likelihood of finding Seven's childhood ship than finding Dreadnaught or Amelia Earhart, it still felt like a bridge too far. 


On a planet of telepaths, Lieutenant Torres is arrested when a violent thought from her mind causes another man to commit a crime. Investigating the seemingly open and shut case, Tuvok soon finds himself embroiled in a black market of thoughtcrime.

"Wolf in the Fold," anyone? How could I blame anyone in the writer's room for having the same TOS and TNG hang-ups I myself have? Nevertheless, I'll take "Wolf in the Fold". 

Not the greatest performance from Tuvok's ladyfriend. Interesting to watch this in 2018, though, when you actually hear arguments like the one she's making re: hate speech/ thoughtcrime/ exposure to ideas being violence itself. By professors, pundits, politicians, and punters. Not good.

It feels like they were really going for great and never quite gets there. Here's a thought: the episode rests on thoughts vs. impulses and repression/ control, etc. Why not have had Tuvok and Nimira attracted to one another and not acting on it? I like Tuvok's faithfulness to his wife (it's only logical after all) and am glad they never "went there." But for the drama, some unacted upon attraction would have helped, no? There's a subtle undercurrent of it here, but if they'd played it up more, it'd have reflected the murder story more and maybe raised the overall quality some. 


Chakotay is shot down on a planet in the midst of a bloody civil war. Taken in by friendly humanoids, he comes to share their hatred of their beastly-looking enemies. Meanwhile, it is those enemies with whom Voyager makes contact, learning that Chakotay's experiences are not what they appear to be.

For the love of Pete! Stop giving this man a shuttlecraft.
Poor Chakotay; like Kirk, he never met a "LEAVE HER ALONE!" knockout fist he didn't charge into.

Not a huge fan of the visual design for either alien species. Or the particular "speak" they use. But so be it. The twist(s) rehab considerably an otherwise doesn't-quite-gel episode, but something still feels off to me. (I think it's the actors who play the aliens who brainwash Chakotay; they feel like they're Gob's acting-troupe friends, whom he employs to teach a lesson to George Michael and who later join Tobias in his anti-crime street gang.)


An alien translator decodes the message from Starfleet Janeway received from the Hirogen relay and leads the crew to an experimental ship which Starfleet has provided for their journey home.

"I've learned to walk the line between hope and caution," Janeway says at one point. That's close enough to the episode title where I wondered if it was intentional. If so... I'm not sure it's so effective. The line would suggest we're going to see some kind of contrast between Janeway's remark and the episode title, as embodied or triggered by Arturus. Does it though? Only vaguely. 

Still, not a bad episode. Good guest performance (Ray Wise delivers no other kind), nice sets on the Daedelus

good dramatic conflict, though a bit tell-don't-show-y at the end. Much of the emotional conflict with Seven was dealt with much better in "One," the episode that aired the week before this (the season finale.)


Janeway and Tuvok work aboard a Borg cube with a Borg spokesperson, Seven of Nine, but the ship is attacked and sacrifices itself to save Voyager to combat Species 8472. Seven is severed from the collective and takes the ship into fluidic space to attack Species 8472.

Another parallel with "Best of Both Worlds" with the Captain out/ First Officer briefly in charge. Upon her return, though, all the drama between Chakotay and Janeway is just silly. It makes no sense at all; it's like they beamed in all this and the human/Borg stuff from a different script.   

A word on Species 8472: there's an attempt to make them into some kind of "ultimate evil" with all the stuff Kes suggests. This doesn't last too long in the show, if memory serves, but I can't recall just how many episodes that actually appear in. I'll be keeping my eye on them. I do remember a friend of mine calling them "Evil Jar-Jars" and that still makes me chuckle, years later.

Poor Harry.

5 days at maximum warp to cover 40 light years? I realize it's not consistent from show to show in the franchise, but is that internally consistent within VOY? It may be for all I know. I hope so - if the show's main conceit is covering an actual distance to get back home, it'd be kind of lame if not.


An alien takes over Tom Paris' body and acts boorishly. When the crew gets suspicious, he takes over Janeway's body instead.

What this one really reminds me of is that Angel episode where Angel and that one guy switch places. Except that one is a lot more fun. This one isn't terrible or anything, just undeveloped. Probably an underrated performance from Dan Butler, as was also the case with Sandra Smith in the more famous Trek-body-swap episode "Turnabout Intruder." (Sadly, Robert Duncan McNeill is no Bill Shatner. But who among us is?)

I love the Doctor's ego. In the best Trek sense, I think it says something ultimately positive about our species that this holographic program thinks so highly of himself.


Chakotay meets a woman who claims that they fell in love weeks before, but he has no memories of the event. Her race, the Ramura, have a technology which wipes the memory of all who encounter them. He falls in love with her anew, while Janeway wrestles with whether or not to grant her request for asylum.

Chakotay and Space Virginia Madsen - hey, good on ya, Chakotay. Later in our countdown we'll run into Tony Todd. The VOY/Candyman crossover no one knew they needed comes one step closer to fruition. (Sadly, this one season of Voyager seems to be the only steps in such a direction.) 

There's a bit of a The Notebook quality here, with the twist the story takes. Chakotay must commit their relationship to pen and paper, which are impervious to the Ramura's memory wipe.
I was touched by this moment at the end between the performers.

The whole thing is rather poetic/ meta for Trek Romance. I liked it. Didn't love it, but I liked it.


The crew have nightmares about the same alien presence. Chakotay must use the spiritual techniques of his people to combat them.

Couple things with this one:

(1) I'm fine with Chakotay having Spock-like visionquest powers, and I'm fine with plots exploiting that. This is a story set in the 24th century, for one, and people have inexplicable visions in dreams across the spectrum of humanity and cultures for two. I thought of Joseph Campbell more than a few times during this episode. The story is there for all of us to hear, even in the Delta Quadrant. Thank Kahliss for Chakotay's "spiritual techniques," as they're called in that Trekcore plot summary up there.

(2) This is another one where I couldn't help projecting other things on it. Particularly A Nightmare on Elm Street - why oh why was this episode not named "Dream Warriors?" You bastard maniacs! - but also TNG's "Schisms" ("Computer, increase ridgeline," etc.), TOS's "Spectre of the Gun," Salem's Lot, and even Cell:

Not the only time I got a strong King vibe in Season 4. More on that in a bit.

As per usual I don't bring this up to suggest the episode is derivative of these things, only that it enhanced my enjoyment to project them upon it. May you find your own way as pleasant.


Seven begins to hallucinate a large bird following her and is driven to steal a shuttle to follow a homing beacon which is activating her Borg implants. Tuvok pursues her, and the two find the Raven, the ship in which Seven's parents traveled to the Delta Quadrant before she was assimilated.

Janeway's Da Vinci thing is cool. Interesting, too, that as she talks of all art can do ("Imagination, creativity, fantasy aren't necessary, Seven. But they're an important part of one's life, because imagination frees the mind. It inspires ideas and solutions, and it can provide a great deal of pleasure. Human progress, the human mind itself, couldn't exist without them.") that Seven experiences another aspect of it: trauma trigger - and breakthrough.

"It's like I'm being driven somehow."

I like Neelix's reaction learning Talaxians were absorbed. (As well as Seven's, i.e. the Borg never bothered assimilating any more. Somewhere in the Collective, there are the Talaxian drones, and they all act like Neelix, but everyone else acts like the Borg. If there's ever a Trek Variety Show - and by Kahliss there should be - this would be a great sketch.)

Is it a stretch finding the vessel whence Seven was procured? I suppose yes and no. I'm going to be honest - as honest as one can be making such a ridiculous statement - it seems like not a stretch by 24th century standards.


After a terrible day working with Seven of Nine, fighting with Chakotay, dealing with an duplicitous aliens who steal Voyager's warp core, and trying to reconcile with her Klingon half on the Klingon holiday via a holodeck program, Torres finds herself stranded in space with Tom Paris, running out of oxygen.

I wish they'd given Neelix a different visual. Ethan Phillips deserves to be celebrated, and I have to say the way Neelix fits into things is handled well more often than it's not. I'll have more to say on Neelix a little later.

Why does B'Elanna say "I'm leaving" and attempt to walk by instead of "Computer, end program"? I suppose (as Paris alludes to later) it's to indicate her disturbed state of mind. But come on - conserve energy, jerk. We're only stranded in the Delta Quadrant. 

Some of the suit-shared stuff metaphor gets a little cutesy. Even if this is the breakthrough-ep for Tom and B'Elanna's relationship and even if I enjoy their chemistry onscreen, some of this stuff is just overdone.

Faux-Vorick seems better adjusted in this episode. I guess everyone has moved on from "Blood Fever." Again, this seems to me a valid enough circumstance for the 24th century, but I sense that somewhere, brows in our own furrow in fear and loathing.


The Hirogen take over Voyager and force the crew to enact violent scenarios on the holodecks in order to study both the behavior and the technology; crewmembers lose their memories and re-enact scenes from Klingon history and World War II. While Janeway and Seven break out of the World War II scenario and try to stop the Hirogen, Chakotay and Paris lead the Allied forces against the Nazis.

1 part "meh," 1 part "hey okay fine, get it out of your system," and 1 part "whatever else you say, they did a decent job fleshing out the concept, and it's undeniably fun to see the performers in their different roles."

I sometimes wonder about how so many shows that find ways to get the cast in or against Nazi uniforms. It's its own weird little genre. 

I think either the Enterprise one or "The Killing Game" feels the most contrived for the Trekverse.
"Patterns of Force," though equally contrived, fits the TOS template much more than either the VOY or ENT one.
The X-Files one is insane.
Probably the best of them all.

It's a shame this trope doesn't extend to shows like Modern Family or Law and Order: SVU. I mean, why not? Anyway, like all of these entries, "The Killing Game" has its moments. It capitalizes poorly on the Hirogen set-up in "Hunters" and "Prey," but they had more pressing (Nazi) concerns. I'm unsure if they ever revisit the newly-armed-with-holodeck-technology Hirogen. (Had to google it - they do indeed. Looking forward to it.)


The crew receives messages from home via the Hirogen relay system. When the Hirogen stop the download before it can finish, Seven and Tuvok investigate and are captured.

Thoughts on the Hirogen? Better than the Kazon, for sure, but a lot of these warrior/hunter races in Berman-era Trek blend together both visually and conceptually for me. It seems the obvious inspiration for the Hirogen is The Predator, but could just as easily be an unused variant of the Jem'Hadar or a number of other Trek-species. As for this episode/ stretch of episodes, I can kinda see their POV on Voyager's unauthorized use of their relay network.

I enjoyed the crew's various reactions to their first word from home. Some nice emotions playing out over the performers' faces, particularly Harry ("It's from my folks" - aww), Tuvok, and Janeway.


As Seven of Nine becomes increasingly human after the Doctor removes most of her Borg implants, she becomes a danger to herself and others, and the Captain must throw her into the brig. Meanwhile, Kes begins her evolution into her next state of being; there is no brig big enough to hold her.

See you in Season 6, Kes.

Not a bad exit episode of Jennier Lien. Sort of a benevolent Gary Mitchell sort of deal.
That's the extent of my notes for this one, believe it or not. Really like I mentioned in the first one of these VOY rankings, the rankings themselves are the story - this isn't so much a collection of reviews as it is a collection of rankings with some notes and asides. Conversation starters/ jumping-off-points. (If you want real reviews, read the comments. And add your own! On this topic, I am a captive audience.)


Seven of Nine recalls repressed memories of having been assaulted by a member of a race of aliens with whom Voyager has been trading. With a man's life at stake, Tuvok soon realizes that all may not be as it first appeared.

I give this episode something like a solid B. It could have been better, could have been worse, but everyone showed up, and the idea was fleshed out well. What makes it stand out is how controversial it all seems due to the particular socio-political climate of 2018. What would be the reaction be to Tuvok's suggesting, for example, in the face of Seven's #MeToo testimony, "historically, recovered memories have often proven unreliable?"

"Even being accused of violating them is a serious matter. Once they're made, the damage is done."

Or how about the Doctor at the end ("I became a self-righteous advocate. I didn't stop to think for one second that I might be wrong") or the general "wrongly-accused man dies in shoot-out with the police, ironically there to exonerate him" plotline? Would it be seen as continuing a Trek tradition of standing on the side against mob action, or as horribly offensive / reactionary mansplaining? 

I don't know the answer, but it could be that as a result of this - feeling that in 2018 I must choose sides (with the implied threat of and you'd better choose correctly) rather than ponder the episode as the Trek metaphor it was obviously intended to be - I'm esteeming "Retrospect" higher than I would have when it originally aired.


The Hirogen pursue a member of Species 8472 onto Voyager, where Janeway must decide whether to turn the deadly alien over to their mutual enemy or sacrifice it to save her crew.

Tony Todd is quite good in this ep. And as with the Voyager's use of the Hirogen array, I kinda see their POV over Starfleet's, here. But hey. Anyway, of all the Hirogen we see or will see, TT's is the best of them. I was less impressed with Species 8472. No sign of that Michael-Myers-must-kill-life-itself side that Kes described back at the beginning of the season. 

A different more TOS-y Pop Arts-y title might have served this episode better ("If It Bleeds... We Can Kill It!" Or perhaps "If It Leaks A Quantum Signature, We Can Irregulate Its Isonarrative Subroutine!")


Voyager is contacted by an alien hologram, the sole survivor of his ship's complement. When Torres and the Doctor investigate, they realize that the alien matrix isn't quite stable. Not only is it inconsistent, but the hologram is psychotic, a would-be murderer of all organic lifeforms.

Interesting set-up. At heart, here, is the traditional sci-fi exploration (droids, isomorphs, Cylons, Exocomps, water-carrying broomsticks, golems, etc.) of humans creating things to do things for them, and the inevitable insurrection. Here, though, our holographic antagonist is less Spartacus and more Norman Bates. Which lends an interesting dimension to the sci-fi trope just described: Dejaran (the isomporh) is not just rebelling against his creators; he's undergoing the type of school-shooter-meltdown that is the inevitable end of toxic narcissism. (And why should toxic narcissism be reserved for organics?)

From the descriptive text in the transcript: "Torres crawls backwards and activates the isomimetic conduit lying on the floor. She jabs it into Dejaran and it stays there until he finishes decompiling."

Dejaran gets the best lines of the episode: "I exist as pure energy, but you depend on food and water to survive. Frankly, I find it disgusting. Look at you (...) Grinding up bits of plants and animals with your teeth. Secreting saliva to force it down your esophagus into a pit of digestive acids. You can't even stand to think about it yourself. What a repulsive creature you are! Constantly shedding your skin and hair, leaving your oily sweat on everything you touch."

"I spent my entire existence cleaning up after them. When they were busy sleeping or reading, or engaging in their slovenly carnal pleasures."


A species of superior aliens conduct grisly experiments on the crew, making them behave erratically and suffer health problems, and only Seven of Nine has the ability to perceive them.

My notes (as I wrote them): "The They Live episode." "Shaky bridge-cam galore!" and "Close-up on Roxana D: Just a feeling." I'm sure I meant something by each of them, and while I can kinda suss out what that might have been, I wish I'd been a little clearer.

I love angry, sleep-deprived Janeway. (I can relate)

The Krenim Imperium, a race with the ability to alter timelines, makes abrupt changes to their slice of the Delta Quadrant that devastate Voyager and push Captain Janeway pushed to the breaking point.
While Chakotay and Paris work on the Krenim ship to stop any further temporal incursions, Janeway seeks allies to help rescue her crew and restore the timeline.

The whole calendar-countdown structure of this one is perhaps more fun than the actual plot, which regrettably never quite achieves sensibility. The story has momentum enough to carry the viewer over this lack of sense, but more on that in a second. My favorite moments from "Year of Hell" are the little plot-accoutrements, like what do you do/ how do you react when Sick Bay's gone and the computer's offline, etc. Non-essential but well-chosen.

"This is one year I'd like to forget."

So yeah, this temporal" weapon. I mean, does this make any sense at all? The script both dances around it and examines it in some detail. Or pretends to - I had a million other questions that no one onscreen asked, but okay, let's say they asked and answered them offscreen. Problem is, some of their answers open up questions I didn't even know until they evaded answering them, like why build a weapon to erase an enemy from history when you could just kill them? Annorax and his crew name some of those reasons, but are they convincing? Don't they kind of just say "Nah, not enough, we've got to get this Year of Hell going." But the problems that the "solution" creates are just opportunity cost. Could a society capable of building this thing truly fail to understand this? Of course, its ineffectiveness is the whole point; Annorax must come to see the wisdom of not using the temporal weapon in the first place. Somewhat contrived, though.

Nevertheless, solid performance from Clarence Boddicker either way. (Still... does he get off rather easy, considering the body count?)

But I got kind of stuck on the wtf-ness of the whole scenario. It's a bit like the "Conundrum" problem, which I've mentioned elsewhere in these VOY countdowns. "Conundrum" is a TNG ep I love, so I can, in theory, overlook this stuff. And considering where it lands in my countdown, I'm more than happy to do so here, as well. Sorry for the feint. Really, though, temporal weapon aside, it's a story from the "Let's blow up the ship!" side of the writer's room, dressed up in some different threads.

"The Borg were present at these events," says Seven re: Zefram Cochrane's first warp flight. Good callback to another wonky-time-travel plot. I wish Seven had provided more ironic commentary on Annorax's plan.
"Time's... up!" Nice.


In a desperate search for deuterium, Voyager sends Tom and Harry down to a deadly Demon class planet, where they disappear and then returns... or do they?

A man vs. elements story almost always lands with me. Throw in some intriguing twists and great visuals (which this episode has more than a few of in both categories) and I'm in. Very enjoyable watching, this one. Sentient gasoline, really, is what we're looking at here - and such an intriguing solution (which leads the way to one of the best Trek episodes of all time, as we'll see in Season 5.

Chakotay: You want me to take a shuttle and look for them? 
Janeway: ...
Tom's jokes are mega-lame. It's almost like he's some kind of "banter-bot" Buzz Killington.

Neelix dies in a shuttle accident but is revived by Seven of Nine, who uses her nanoprobes to restore his vital signs. But he finds his faith in the afterlife shaken by the experience, and becomes despondent.

Ok, let's get to that problem with Neelix I mentioned before. Beyond the visual, he's just too MUCH of everything. He knows warp (both theory and engineering), the Delta Quadrant, chef, morale officer, emcee, wise man, godfather, supercutesy positivity machine, etc. I don't suggest there aren't people who have all these traits, but they are the sort of exceptional people who are difficult to place in the background of anything. They should've done what they did for everyone in the ensemble and focused on 1 or 2 of those things and let Ethan Philips play within tighter boundaries. 

Having said that and having sidelined Neelix intentionally for the past few seasons, I announce: no longer. Ethan Phillips does great work here. I definitely felt compassion for Neelix and wanted to see his character arc come to a positive end. Haven't we all had these 3 am nights of the soul? Is there ever a 100% assuring conclusion? A thoughtful meditation on perhaps the only real question there is.

And I like the symbolism of the end with Naomi. We don't know, but an inspiring dream is a comfort. To be able to give that dream is a great gift. As is doubt, too. All play across Neelix's face in some scenes. Well done, sir.

I like the general idea here: what if instead of a bright light/ family waiting, there was nothing? No variation of you/ your people's beliefs, just oblivion. And what if you returned, disconnected somehow, from the experience? Sort of a Neelix-Pet-Semetary thing, minus murderous Gage Creed. (I'm sure the Mirror Universe version of this episode has Naomi Wildman playing that part.) More King-Voyager, too, which I am in no way looking for but keeps popping out.


A Hirogen relay station allows Voyager to send the Doctor to the Alpha Quadrant, where he finds himself on an experimental shuttle that has been overtaken by Romulans. Working with that ship's EMH, he tries to defeat the enemy and get a message to Starfleet.

I'm always surprised that I can enjoy an Andy Dick performance given how uniquely awful and obnoxious the man is off-screen. I enjoy him here, though; he and the Doctor play off each other surprisingly well.

If you never saw, heard of, or read about the actor prior to watching him here, you'd never know he had this whole other career as a jackass.

Quite a great episode. I like the subtle introduction of the Hirogen over several episodes, I like the use of the Romulans, and the plot was clever. Fun stuff with the holograms on the bridge, fun twists all around.  Heroic moments from the Doctor here.

Why name it "Message in a Bottle," though? It's kinda/sorta a good fit for the story, but not the best IMO. Mainly - and perhaps this is just me, on account of loving the TNG episode so much - it's too close to "Ship in a Bottle." Which only came out 5 years prior to this episode airing. I guess in retrospect they're two excellent episodes of their respective Trek wheelhouse, so who cares, but it irked me a little. Perhaps not reasonably. 

Folks, reasonable people don't do things like write 100+ blogs of Star Trek. To paraphrase-rather-than-look-up King's On Writing once more, if you take up the task, your days in reasonable society are pretty much over.


Hundreds of years in the future on a planet in the Delta Quadrant, the Doctor's backup module is recovered by a race which believes he can shed light on Voyager's devastating intervention with their planet's history.

It's tempting to project things on this episode. And very fair to do so. I suggest it's a reasonably neutral and very thoughtful exploration of that 3rd-most human (after love and oblivion) of mysteries: the past. It's not for nothing that that Orwell guy had "He who controls the past controls the future" as a key organizing principle of ruling Oceania in 1984.

What we see here, though, is less 1984 and more 2018, though I want to emphasize this was (obviously) not written as any kind of response to the particular madness of our times. That it comments on them is a testament to the idea's durability in different environments.

I was impressed. Chapeau, Voyager (and to Tim Russ, who directed it. And there is one almost-odd low-angle close-up of Tuvok, where he smirks a little, that made me wonder if the actor had been arguing for this shot for years. Alas, no screencap. Here's the Doctor, though, imprinting himself upon another DQ civilization - good on ya, Schmullus.)

"He had a longing for home."


When aliens steal technology from Voyager, Janeway works with a holographic Leonardo Da Vinci - who has also been stolen, by way of Doc's portable emitter - to find and salvage the computer processor.

Another great one. Love the Da Vinci stuff in general, and what a treat to see John Rhys-Davies with so much to sink his teeth into here in VOY. Excellent use of a presence like him. And great chemistry with Janeway, not just the performers but between the characters.

"Earthquakes... and idiots. Florence be damned."

"James T. Kirk claimed to have met him, though the evidence is inconclusive."

Thanks a lot, Spock. ("Requiem for Methuselah")

I mentioned "Ship in a Bottle" up there. Daniel Davis is still alive, as is John Rhys-Davies. Not too late for a Da Vinci/ Doctor/ Captain Proton/ Moriarty-gets-a-mobile-emitter VOY/TNG big-screen (or even small-screen) crossover adventure, Paramount.

Or Mask Unleashed: The Revenge of Rocky Dennis

A quick question on the whole idea of Holodeck University: if the holodeck can so successfully recreate geniuses of the past, right down to their imperfections to allow for improvisation, does Starfleet have a program constantly running where Mozart, Archimedes, whomever-you-like are just given all the time and resources they need just to see what they come up with? What a fascinating idea. 

Classy episode. And finally:


In order to pass through a dangerous nebula, the entire crew is put into stasis, leaving only Seven of Nine - who is immune to the deleterious effects - to fly the ship.

Here's the episode that got me into Voyager. I think. I know the first episode of the show I ever saw (besides the pilot and maybe half of one or between 1995 and 1999) was "Equinox, pt. 1." (May 26, 1999 - not that the date is burned into my memory, just it was the night it aired, so had to be.) I remember thinking I'd tune in that fall for the conclusion/ s6 premiere, but I didn't. (And I couldn't tell you what I was doing the night it aired.) But "One" is the one that I saw in 2008-ish that made me start getting the discs from Netflix. And that led, eventually, to now.

Cool storie(s are irrelevant) bro.

Undoubtedly the pivotal episode of s4 for Jeri Ryan. If she blew it here, her character might not have had the development she got in s5 - s7. (Alternatively, this might be her high point, although I don't personally think that to be the case.) Could she carry the episode by herself? Could a Seven-centric show carry the rest of the cast or teach us something about them, as well? Could we be moved by or find common cause with a Borg's struggle to be alone? The answer, happily for us, is yes on all counts.

Hard not to project some of that on-set drama on Seven's paranoia, here, particularly the almost-painful bridge scene at the end. Which I took ridiculously personally - I hadn't realized the extent to which I was sympathizing with Seven's struggle with loneliness and friendship until that scene. Her nightmare felt so real to me.

"Now it's just the two of us." Ahh, the irony, from a hologram.

And the understated, haunted last last line - which could be read as her simply making conversation (which began the episode) with Paris, speaking of his claustrophobia - "Perhaps you dislike being alone." We-the-Viewer, who have been on the journey with her in "One", understand the iceberg of emotion almost rising through the surface with that line. Delivered perfectly, directed perfectly. 

A real grand slam, this episode, and great writing all around. Two last things:

- Did Joss Whedon see this and come up with "Out of Gas" for Firefly? Lots of parallels. ("Out of Gas" might be the better of the two, but that's no knock on "One.")

- A bit of a The Shining vibe to some of this episode. A bit more than a bit. (Again - Naomi Wildman should be happy she wasn't "nominated" to be part of the cast.) But along the lines of the above, were the VOY writers inspired by the Overlook Hotel, I wonder?

Until next time, friends.


  1. Poor ol' Trey, man. Rough stuff. I knew him (as McMolo knows -- I say this for the benefit of any onlookers) since 2003 or so, and I'm not sure I've fully processed the fact that he's no longer here. Every now and then I get that split-second urge to call him or text or whatever, and then I remember that's not a thing anymore and get kind of irate about it.

    Case in point.

    Trey was a fan of the show "The Expanse" (and even more so of the novels it is based on), and the third season recently wrapped up. I'd been putting off watching the final two episodes (both of which aired the Wednesday between the Fridays that marked Trey's passing and his funeral) because I just kind of didn't want to deal with them. But finally I did and they were great and I immediately was seized by the urge to call Trey and talk to him about them and do that thing where I halfheartedly tried to guess where the story was going from there but with strict instructions to him that he was to answer none of my questions. He never got to see any of this third season, and I'll never get to talk to him about a bit of it, and goddamn if both of those things aren't a rotten shame. The former more so than the latter, of course, but still.

    Since a large portion of my friendship with him was based on ephemera like that -- books, movies, tv shows, etc. -- there are likely to be a lot of moments like that in the years to come. And if Trey can't be here to be a part of it, then by golly, I'd hope it'll continue to sting me. That's as it should be.

  2. I only sorta skimmed my way through this post, but I'll have plenty to say on it all over the coming weeks as I rewatch my way through it all. Just gotta get unmired from season three! (Which is not to hint that I'm not enjoying the third season; I'm enjoying it fine, there just hasn't been a lot of teevee watchin' getting done around here lately.)

    1. Looking forward to it as always!

      It's kind of a delayed-reaction co-blogging-up the VOY thing we're doing, split between comments and in-the-posts.

      Had we done the Springsteen blogs this way, those (excellent!) posts would all have 50+ comments apiece. As it should be! (Someone's reading them, per the page counts, but not a whole lot in the way of sign-the-guestbooks.)

    2. My only theory is that the people reading those Springsteen posts are so impressed by the sheer extent to which we got it right that they feel like they can add nothing.

      It's the only explanation!

  3. 1. As it turns out, there have been several other “last bows” made in the public sphere. One is by comic book legend/Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko:


    And the other (perhaps fittingly for a Trek-related blog entry) the passing of Sci Fi’s last angry man:


    I think it was the combined sign-offs that sort of lit a bit of realization in my head. I believe, BrynM, that you mentioned part of the stuff you liked to do was notice cultural patterns in a structural or structuralist form of some sort. I don’t know if the insight I had was anywhere on the level. All I know is that what occurred to me is that a whole generation is starting to pass, making room for whatever comes next.

    I guess it’s interesting when you realize you catch yourself making mental preparations for such events, i.e. how to handle yourself, how to handle the event itself, what you say to friends and family members, especially those awkward gaps where you realize you never bothered to keep in touch, and whether or not that makes you just short-sighted, or else some kind of subconscious callous jack-@$$.

    I don’t know, maybe it’s different for other people. The best I can say is that a lot of it all depends on whatever the truth of such situations are, as opposed to how all those involved perceive it to be, or else what they believe it should be like.

    I don’t know if any of that makes a lick of sense. It’s just those strange middle-ground unknown territories you reach when trying to take stock of the whole picture, I guess.

    One thing I am sure of, however, in cases of people like Ellison and Ditko, it really is going to be up to the next generation to try a memorize all this stuff. “Those who fail to learn from the past etc. etc.” It’s a bit of an oldy, but still an ineradicable goody. At least I think it holds with great works of past art.

    To be continued.


    1. Continued from above.
      2. When it comes to “Random Thoughts”, it’s really “Minority Report”, and just how far VOY might have borrowed from PKD years before Spielberg. At the same time, you raise some good points about the current moment. In terms of real life, what I think it really comes down to is a question of mental breaking points. At what point does a sociopathy go from passive to irrevocably active, with all its attendant threats.

      I think these sorts of things can be prevented, however, if someone stops a sociopath before he can commit his crimes, eventually, I can still see how a mental breakdown of some sort would occur. The reason for this would have to be that the socio has no outlet for his problems, and hence confinement means his symptoms have to turn inward. It’s both fascinating, infuriating, and freakish, when you think of it.

      3. I like “Hope and Fear” well enough. There is always an irony for me in the interactions with Seven and Janeway. On the one hand, I always think she’s over-black and whiting the situation more than it needs to be with Seven sometimes. For instance, what f Seven made a compromise offer. Give her a shuttle of her own, or else build one, complete with regeneration station, and she will still follow Voyager for most of the way. When and if they reach a point where they are close to home, then simply allow Seven to decide whether she wants to follow, or else go her own way.

      I don’t think even Spock would raise any real objections or find much in the way of logical flaws. However, well, there’s always the Janeway Factor. I suppose you could raise fears that Janeway is being made into a Mary Sue in these moments (a charge wich might carry even more weight in terms of the backlash to certain other franchises, *cough, Star Wars, hack*). Then again, there’s the irony of knowing episodes like “Imperfection” and a hundred other countless examples are in the pipeline. The final irony comes when you just turn to look out the window and realize whole conversations like this make little sense from a reality-based point of view. No solutions offered here, just observation.

      4. “Evil Jar-Jars”, I like that. To honest I never got much of a fear factor from the “B.E.Ms” as I like to think of them. They’re just another threat of the week for me.

      To be continued.


    2. 5. The opening dialogue with Seven and Janeway in “The Raven” is yet another of those moments where you wonder how it would all go is someone just pointed out the facts of life.

      Instead of saying "Imagination, creativity, fantasy aren't necessary, Seven,” say that others have thought the same way, only to find themselves faced with a problem that might not be a problem, but it’s certainly ineradicable. Namely, imagination isn’t necessarily something we choose, it’s a collective piece of the human mind, and no one seems able to shake or get rid of it.

      More to the point, the irony is that sometimes imagination is the way some people re able to plug-in to real life, if that even makes any sense. My point is it would be interesting if Janeway had supplied a little psychological logic at this point, particularly is she had said that if some people don’t exercise their imaginations, they could, potentially go insane. It’s just one of those what if paths that you wish the writer’s had explored.

      To be continued.


    3. End of an era for sure with Ellison and Ditko both. I agree: it drives home how we're only ever temporary holders of history/ culture/ appreciation. It's like with each old-timer that kicks off, you inherit the responsibility a little, of honoring their memory. Ditto with friends, too, of course, but with added weight and sadness.

      RIP to them all.

    4. 6. If I’m being honest, “Day of Honor” is one of those episodes that’s kind of thin on the ground. The episode is focused more on character rather than an action based plot.

      In some ways, however, I can’t help but wonder if things would have been better off in a more action-oriented direction, where Seven, Belana, and Paris all find themselves in a shuttle or something, and they have to all get back to the ship in time, or some such.

      For instance, taking this a bit further, they could ratchet up the tension to the point where it seems like Belana and Seven are going to be at each other’s throats. Then actually have Torres try and attack Seven, only to learn that her cybernetic enhancements make her more physically powerful, effectively ending any possibility of challenge.

      This could lead to a scenario where Torres goes full mid-life crisis and can’t even see what worth or value she is if she can’t be either a good Starfleet officer or a Klingon.

      Here is where Paris could step in and lift her out of the doldrums, with Seven observing and learning from the whole experience. For whatever reason, the story group seemed to be running low on ideas for this one.

      7. For me, “The Killing Game” stacks up just as well with both the TOS version, though maybe the “X Files” beats out both of them in terms of sheer enjoyment factor.

      I would even argue that the main idea, exemplified by the convo between the two Hunters about “species that don’t change die” is a lot more relevant to the current situation now, in all honesty.

      8. The same can indeed be said for “Retrospect”. The real danger here is that the more people get accused, the more a just cause gets hurt by society at large being unable to tell which is a real case that needs redressing, and which is either false memory, or the like.

      I do worry that sooner or later it could all get dismissed as a “cry wolf” type of deal, and so everything goes back to being ignored. I can even how this might be the sort of outcome the perpetrators of such crimes might wish to happen.

      Who says satire is dead?

      To be concluded


    5. Re: "The final irony comes when you just turn to look out the window and realize whole conversations like this make little sense from a reality-based point of view. No solutions offered here, just observation. " That's very true. I find myself having those look-out-the-window moments a lot with these VOY posts actually.

      A real life holosuite-situation would be art-imitating-life-imitating-art-poking-holes-in-easy-ideas-of-reality.

    6. Re: "the irony is that sometimes imagination is the way some people re able to plug-in to real life, if that even makes any sense."

      It does! And it's very true. I like your point on imagination as well, and that would have been an improved response for Janeway to make for sure.

    7. 9. Interesting thing about “Revulsion”. It was written by a woman. I can’t say that this episode was written with concerns such as those raised in “Retrospect” in mind, however it is just food for thought.

      If that is the point of the episode, then I don’t wonder if the subplots featuring Harry and Seven aren’t meant as a juxtaposition of at least some form of positive sexuality/relations as a contrast to Norman Bytes.

      10. “Scientific Method” I find interesting for just one thing. Classic “Crazy Janey” Time!

      Seriously, one of the reasons Janeway has such a following is how just off-the-wall she can be. Again, though, I wished they’d try going further with it.

      11. I guess every viewer has their own favorite episode. All things considered, apparently “One” is the best candidate I can come up with. I’m glad you pointed out certain SK “Shining” vibes, as that was pretty much the same conclusion I reached. I’m pretty sure there’s an essay about the incorporation of horror into VOY, the problem is I’m not sure what shape it’s supposed to take.

      12. When it comes to “The Gift”, it’s really just a question of what one thinks about Seven as a character in general. I certainly can’t say I ever really minded her (of course, what else am I going to say?).

      The irony is that it’s one of the few Executive level mandated changes (and I’m assuming that’s where the wardrobe choices for the character came from in the first place) that surprisingly didn’t blow up in everyone’s face.

      I suppose you could argue such a portrayal sets a bad example, and I’m sure the character wouldn’t happen in the current climate. Still, I have to admit, of all the characters in the show, she consistently comes off as the most well written, and hence the one with the most creative potential.

      For instance, I can imagine a Trek series based around just her alone. I’ve never thought the same could be done with any of the others, except maybe for Shatner’s Kirk, and, if you wanted, you could throw the Doctor in there as Seven’s constant companion or something like that. For the rest, not really.

      The trouble with such characters is that they tend to upset too many carts. Trek is always designed to be an ensemble show, yet characters like Seven almost demand a can of stand-alone story. At least that’s how I always viewed the basic conflict such ideas bring to the show. Still, I can say that, on the whole, she was a surprisingly good idea.


    8. I decided to just reply all at once to these excellent remarks of yours, Chris.

      (1) I like your idea of this "Day of Honor" reshuffling/reboot. That would have worked well with Torres, for sure.

      (2) I worry about the same thing with all the Fake News-ing/ Media-Guilty-Trumping(ahem)-Courtroom-Guilty. It's lower on my list of worries than media-academe indoctrination to cultural collapse, but it's certainly true and always worth keeping squarely in one's sights: if the goal is truth and justice, then keep those goals and give up those paths that do not lead to them or exist to subvert them, and you'll be okay. It requires almost daily counter-narrative from the media-academe these days, which is awful. In fact, I'd even say we've actually reached that point where crimes are ignored/ framed-endlessly-erroneously by the media/academe, and a class on whom any democracy relies to speak truth to power (journalism) is instead actively colluding to bury truth and advertise narrative. But hey! Who the frak knows.

      (3) I had not considered that re: "Revulsion!" I'll look for it, tho, on my next re-watch.

      (4) Also hadn't considered "The irony is that it’s one of the few Executive level mandated changes (and I’m assuming that’s where the wardrobe choices for the character came from in the first place) that surprisingly didn’t blow up in everyone’s face." You're totally right, there. Was it the last of them, even? It seems everything since Seven of Nine that originated at the executive-level has been a disaster. Financially lucrative, perhaps, but disastrous in others.

      (5) Glad to hear that re: "One." I've always been a big proponent of the Star Trek: Worf idea for a show, although it'd make a better animation series now, but they totally should've done this concurrent with ENTERPRISE. Or maybe even after. Or just a movie. Anyway! I think a Seven show might've flown; there's a lot of interesting things they explored with her character.

  4. "Scorpion, Part II" --

    (1) I think this one works pretty well as a follow-up. I don't entirely disagree with you about the Janeway/Chakotay disagreement. It really is pretty clear that the only reason the script has Janeway get knocked out of commission is so Chakotay will have to assume command. Pure plot contrivance. That said, it does follow up on their argument from Part I, and it also arguably follows up on the inherent tension between their Starfleet/Maquis command styles. So it's not a highlight of the episode for me (although the acting is good on both sides), but it doesn't hurt it much either.

    (2) The series enters a new era with Seven Of Nine making her debut. Everything about her works immediately, as far as I'm concerned. Jeri Ryan is great playing the threatening, fully Borg version of the character; she has some great one-eyed acting moments, where she's basically just glaring at Janeway or Chakotay with that one remaining human eye of hers. Pretty great; they cast that role quite well. (Leaving aside the S&M-esque va-va-voom factor, which I'll have many, many, many more opportunities to discuss at length. I doubt I'll take many of them -- Kes is more my style, personally -- but she was a true model of statuesque proportions, no doubt about it.

    Thing is, I think that's just window-dressing, at least as regards this episode. I think the concept itself works, and would have worked equally well if it were a strong male actor in the role. I'm looking forward to revisiting the ways in which the concept develops going forward -- my memory is, it develops quite well.

    (3) It makes perfect sense to me that the war with Species 8472 came about because the Borg discovered their fluidic space and attempted to assimilate them. I mean, ain't that some Borg-ass shit? What a bunch of a-holes. Not too difficult to understand why Species 8472 -- the evil Jar-Jars, indeed! -- would then turn around and say, "Well, fuuuuuuuuck ALL of y'all in that weird non-fluidic space. Toast, every last one of you!"

    All of that makes sense. But somehow, it's also maybe a wee bit disappointing. Or anticlimactic. I can't fault it, it's just...I dunno, it doesn't quite gel.

    BUT, since it was primarily a plot device to give us Seven Of Nine, which ends up being a resounding success, I think I can and will let them off the hook.

    1. (1) I suppose you're right in that it's a continuation of their argument from the 1st part, but I guess I didn't really think too much of that argument to begin with. I thought the show/ characters had moved beyond some of these arguments, but perhaps the misperception is my own. It seems like whenever they need to punch up the drama of any scene they go into stand-by characterization, but that stuff's always kind of uninteresting to me.

      (2) No doubt about it: Jeri Ryan was a statuesque beauty (probably still is/ always will be) and Seven was a compelling and cool character. I've always felt that those portions of the audience that over-emphasize either of those aspects - i.e those feel the need to qualify any "she's hot" comment with "BUT SHE WAS SUCH A GOOD CHARACTER SO SHUT UP!" or any "she was a good character" with "THAT ASS, THO!" remarks - is probably just uncomfortable with women. I'm going to cut right to the chase on that one and write them both off/ alienate everyone. Of course, I exaggerate re: all-caps/ exclamation points but I've been observing people's discomfort on this topic for many a moon.

      Welcome to Season 4! I almost chided you for skipping "Concerning Flight" from Season 3 in my response to your comment on the first part of "Scorpion" and then realized oh wait, that's Season 4. I'm a few episodes from the end of s5, so I'm all kinds of time-displaced.

    2. A time-displaced journey through "Voyager" seems apt.

      Man, you're really burning through those, eh? Don't exceed warp 10 -- I have it on good authority you will turn into a salamander if you do.

  5. "The Gift" --

    (1) Something annoyed me about both this episode and the second half of "Scorpion": the way Jennifer Lien was credited. She got booted from the opening credit sequence, replaced by Jeri Ryan. She instead received an "Also Starring" credit after the episode title appeared.

    Now, I know stuff like that is based on SAG contracts and whatnot, so there was probably no way around it, but doesn't that seem like a bit of a shame? Why not have both her AND Ryan in the opening credits for a couple of weeks? Or keep Lien in there, with Ryan receiving "Also Starring" status until episode three?

    No big deal, just a mild false note for me; and a technicality-based one, at that.

    (2) Some great stuff here from all concerned, acting-wise. Lien gets some good notes to go out on as Kes. Her goodbye scene with Janeway is especially great, and Mulgrew really kills it right along with her. But Picardo, Russ, and Phillips kill it in their scenes, too; something tells me that all of them were dismayed by Lien's departure, and it bled over into their performances.

    (3) But just as Lien makes a great impression on her way out the door, Jeri Ryan makes maybe an even greater one in her first episode as what we might think of as the "real" Seven. She's dynamite, and she, too, brings out great notes in Mulgrew. (Not that Mulgrew is typically at a lack for those; she's not, to say the least.)

    (4) There's a great little moment when Seven is doing some crap in a communications panel and Harry is there to assist her. He asks her what "Species 282" (or whatever they were called) were like, just as chit-chat. She just shoots him a withering one-eyed sideways glance. It's in no way played as a Harry-hitting-on-Seven scene, and yet it somehow plays EXACTLY like that.

    (5) The lighting is fantastic in the opening scene, when Janeway is confronting Seven in her Borg cubicle thingy. There's a bright, flashing light that is accentuating Seven's face off and on, and on a few occasions it hits hard when she's really pissed off and is barking demands at Janeway. Excellent screencap material in that scene; I have not been pulling screencaps from these episodes as I've been watching them, but I got one good one from that scene, and sense that I could likely have gotten half a dozen more easy.

    1. (1) That's a fair and welcome point on the credits. They could have done that differently. I don't understand such decisions or the rationale given; how hard would it have been to do?

      (5) I haven't mentioned the lighting much, but I've noticed it on more than a few occasions. While we're here, the first time that I can ever remember noticing the theatrical quality/ lighting-work in a film was in Star Trek III when it goes from day to night on the Genesis planet. (Which doesn't really make sense, does it? The protomatter in the genesis matrix is making the planet do funky things, but is it spinning so fast that the days/ nights would go like that? I don't know. Then again, the sun seems to set and rise super-fast near the equator, right? Who knows, maybe an optical illusion. Whatever - the lighting is good and made a young me go "Ohhhhh you can do stuff like THAT In drama.")

  6. "Day of Honor" --

    (1) I'm a sap for a love story, and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy the B'Elanna and Tom one. His line upon being told she loves him -- "You picked a fine time to tell me!" -- is no all-time Han Solo style classic, but it's pretty good. And anyways, just like Han did, Tom knew.

    (2) Love that shot of the Voyager reflected in B'Elanna's helmet face as it arrives. That's a proper use of visual effects!

    (3) "Again, this seems to me a valid enough circumstance for the 24th century, but I sense that somewhere, brows in our own furrow in fear and loathing." -- Heh. Yeah, kind of. But B'Elanna seems kind of snappish toward him, so maybe all is not quite forgiven on her end. I like this Vulcan guy alright, but he's kind of irrelevant to the episode. It's almost like whoever wrote the episode did it just to give that guy a job.

    (4) On a completely unrelated note, this episode was written by Jeri Taylor, whose son is named Alexander Enberg. Hmm. Where HAVE I heard that name before...?

    (5) I agree with you about Ethan Phillips. And about Neelix's design. I've decided that I think part of the deal with Neelix is that he really IS intentionally annoying, and that it's as much as anything a gambit to show how accepting and chill Starfleet types are. I mean, shit, they are okay with letting this rainbow-trout-lookin' hairty-faced thing on board; this is a ship of saints. But in a way, that really IS kind of a touching sentiment. So they just roll with it, and so does the whole series, until eventually he just kind of wears everyone down and we all go, "Ah, bring it in here, ya big lug!" and give him a hug. Hand to God, I think that was the actual aim with this guy; and by golly, I think it worked!

    (6) That said, I had a thought during his (outstanding) scene with B'Elanna during this episode that I can't quite shake. Now, let me be clear: I think Ethan Phillips is great in the role, and I would never want to replace him. BUT ... imagine how good Robin Williams would have been in that role. (Not that he was ever mentioned in association with it; I'm just saying this is a thing my brain came up with.) He could have been even more annoying, and probably even funnier. AND, can you *imagine* how great he would have been in those scenes like the one he gets in this episode, where he's tasked with putting on his big kind eyes and saying incredibly sweet things that are totally untainted by cynicism? Good lord, he'd have been a titan in this role.

    (7) Another great Seven episode, too. She gives B'Elanna a great eat-shit look at one point. But really, she is excellent in every scene she has in this one. As is everyone, really; I like this episode a lot.

    (8) You make a good point about B'Elanna not turning off the holodeck. It stills makes no sense to me that they can even use the damn thing, to be honest. Not that I mind; like you, I think they do excellent things with that idea on this series. As for this particular scene, I think a part of her knows that if she just turns it all the way off, she's truly running away from it; by leaving it running, she could theoretically go back to it and finish the ritual. She clearly has no plans to do so; but I can imagine that she is telling herself she will, once she is good and ready.

  7. (4) Oh! Nice. Yeah I had no idea. I looked at his wiki too but must've spaced. Not for the last time, I imagine. That explains a lot.

    (5) You raise a good point about Neelix's mere presence saying a lot about the generosity of spirit of humanity/ the Federation in the 24th century. They should bring him to the bridge and let other aliens see him always - "gaze upon the space detritus we take unto our cosmic hearth! Does he not look ridiculous? Neelix, say something." (Neelix talks.) "And golly-gee-shucks demeanor to match!" Also, nice chuckle on rainbow-trout hairy-faced dude. With a mohawk, for some reason. but yeah mainly it's the goddamn rainbow outfit. Sort of - put him in a traditional Starfleet uniform and it'd be the face and hair. Poor Neelix.

    (6) I can see that. It's weird they never could figure out how to get Robin Williams involved with Trek. Someone somewhere has probably written a Neelix Finds Mork in the Delta Quadrant fan-fic. (Or perhaps Tuvok finds Mork.)

    1. (6) There were apparently efforts to get him to guest-star in an episode -- I'm too lazy to research it at the moment, but I think he had sort of been earmarked for the time-travel episode that Matt Frewer ended up in.

      Tuvok and Mork fanfic. Holy moly. You're probably right, it likely exists somewhere.

  8. "Nemesis" --

    (1) Do we know how many shuttles it actually is that Chakotay has lost by this point? Six? Seven? You're talking probably hundreds of trillions of dollars of losses; I hope he's at least getting a corrective action write-up every time.

    (2) I don't particularly like this episode, but I'm not sure I have any great reasons for that. The story works, more or less; the acting is iffy in places (love that Arrested Development clip -- what a show!), but strong in others; the fake lingo is kind of lame, but even that reinforces the theme of being brainwashed. So I don't care for the episode much, but it's kind of against my better judgment. Weird!

    (3) This is by far the best Star Trek to be titled "Nemesis."

    (4) I mean, those aliens are just Predators, right? This made me want to cast a remake of "Predator" starring Star Trek characters, so I did:

    Arnold Schwarzenegger = Worf (of course)
    Carl Weathers = Riker
    Bill Duke = Shmullus
    Jesse Ventura = McCoy
    Sonny Landham = Chakotay (too easy)
    Shane Black = Bashir
    Kevin Peter Hall (the Predator) = Saru (from Discovery!)

    Yep, I'd watch that.

    1. (1) I wonder myself! It gets a little insane.

      (2) Dawn and I watched the first 3 seasons of "Arrested Development" in-between other things somewhat recently. We still have yet to see s4 and s5. But it and The Office, since we're familiar with them, we can sometimes put on amidst the kids-craziness just for background and take a little break from the otherwise constant kids-programming. Agreed: pound for pound, it's definitely one of the funniest American comedies every produced.

      (3) Agreed.

      (4) Hell yeah I'd watch that! Excellent casting.

  9. "Revulsion" --

    (1) Good call on the Norman Bates aspects of this one. The scene where he brings food to B'Elanna may as well be straight out of "Psycho." I swear I think some of the dialogue gets pretty close to the scene in which Norman feeds Marion. It's a little weird for Trek to go this referential, but I guess they got away with it.

    (2) Leland Orser is good as the crazed isomorph or whatever. That dude is creepy.

    (3) I actually liked all of the stuff with Seven and Harry more than the main plot. I mean, *of course* Harry would develop a crush on her. And of course she would have a different perspective on it than most humans. Pretty amusing stuff, especially when Chakotay is obviously getting such a kick out of it.

    (4) You know, you read the various stories about how Roddenberry always wanted to sex Trek up and have there be a character who learned about people by boning them or whatever, and it sounds kind of sad and offputting. But I think there really is quite a bit of room for Trek to tackle some of those subjects. I'm not sure I really want to see that happen -- the fail potential is super high -- but there's material there, no doubt about it.

    1. (4) Agreed. While Roddenberry had some sex issues / preoccupations that maybe were coming from a non-Trek/ non-sci-fi-exploration place, he had plenty that dovetailed well with just the inherent potential of the genre itself. And some quite interesting ones. I agree that Trek leaves a lot of room to explore these topics, and this is if not a failure of the Berman era, an undeveloped aspect. A show with a crew of Deltans would be interesting for just this reason - or even Betazoids - if they could find a writing staff who could pull it off. (Hell, pair us with some seasoned TV writer to get us rolling, and WE could pull it off.)

    2. (4). I find it interesting that sex relations seems to be the one topic that Trek never quite went into as much as others. You might see stand-alone episodes try to make a go of the subject, but they always seem more isolated from the topics most fans remember.

      Another reason might stem from an ironic catch-22 in terms of dramatic presentation. It could be that the more mature they try to be in terms of the depiction of sex, the less people will be able to take it seriously.

      I suppose it could be that treating the subject too seriously, you risk taking it to the point where the audience finds your handling of the subject just a bit ridiculous.

      The main reason for that could be that in real life most people are able to keep the subject in a healthy perspective (this despite the current zeitgeist showing an almost zealous determination to sex act in the most indefensible light possible).

      Looked at from this perspective, perhaps what makes a character like Seven work is that she is able to personify an ideal about sex, on some level, without degenerating into either parody or prurience.

      In terms of taking the subject of sex to the next level, it's too bad Ted Sturgeon isn't around anymore. He seem to have a knack for this kind of subject matter in a way that made it intelligent and thought provoking.


  10. Ted Sturgeon sometimes went a little goofy on the topic, too. I'm thinking only of his Dangerous Visions story, which, to me, was absurdity itself. But that's only one story, and the guy wrote hundreds. I agree he was both a visionary and (usually) someone who pushed an envelope to great purpose. But I always have to mention the DV story as it's such an astounding example of a bold idea developed astonishingly poorly.

    They can't all be 'Killdozer,' of course. (Which I would describe as a bold idea developed quite enjoyably, and with the best name ever.)

    Re: sex and Trek, I agree with what you say both about Seven and about treating a subject so seriously as to become silly. Not just sex - so many shows/movies are dragged into the muck of overdone-ness by taking too solemn approach. As Vonnegut said re: other circumstances but it applies here: the risk (as a storyteller) of throwing your windows open and making love to the world is you can get (and give) the clap. Don't overdo it.

    1. I think the reason Trek has never gone full-speed at the sex-in-the-future issue is that it would likely be a different thing then than it is now. Not literally, of course. But presumably, the hangups that modern societies have about it would be a thing of the past; contraception would likely be almost totally effective, and any risk of disease would be virtually eliminated. Plus, sex ed would likely be taught from an early age.

      Add all that up, and what have you got? You've got people getting up to every type of shenanigan imaginable, on a daily basis, AND presumably without and real complexes about it.

      From a storytelling standpoint, I'm not sure how easy it would be to really deal with that without having everyone onboard whatever ship the show in question was about seem like complete deviants; to the point of making it incredibly unpalatable for a large portion of the audience.

      Plus, you just know the writers' rooms for that show would be an HR nightmare.

      But without question, I think the topic *could* be explored in a meaningful manner. Probably not in this century, though; we're still an awfully backward people in many ways.

    2. "I am attempting to teach a sex ed class using stone knives and bear skins."

  11. "The Raven" --

    (1) Hmm. I think I'm kind of not a fan of this one. It's well-made and has a lot of good acting and whatnot, but I simply can't make sense of their finding a Federation vessel this far into the Delta quadrant. I mean, okay, they got there, fine; but shouldn't that have been a big aspect of the show? Also, if this is where their ship was assimilated, and that's Bomar space, then ... shouldn't that no longer be Bomar space? Are you telling me the Bomar fought off the Borg? I just don't know that any of that makes a lick of sense.

    (2) This was the first episode written by Bryan Fuller, who would go on years later to create (and then get fired from) "Star Trek: Discovery." That show doesn't make a lick of sense either, so Fuller Trek career began and ended with nonsense. (I'll take any and every excuse I can get to slam "Discovery," it seems.)

    (3) That idea about there being Borgified Talaxians who do the drone work they get assigned to do, but wear bright clothing and natter on about triviliaties while the rest of the drones roll their eyes and pretend they are regenerating is pretty great. And yes, Phillips is great in that scene. That bit where he's teaching Seven how to eat is great, both on his end and on Jeri Ryan's. She plays the scene like the food is the worst thing anyone has ever tasted, but since she doesn't even understand the concept of "worst" she doesn't know how to process what she is feeling. Comedic gold.

    (4) I felt bad for Kate Mulgrew during this episode. She's good, but the episode is basically about Janeway seems to be -- during this hour of television, at least -- basically only there so as to provide a champion for Seven. Janeway herself is kind of an afterthought. I can't blame Mulgrew for reading screenplays like that and despairing a bit, and then taking it out on poor Jeri Ryan. Well, I guess I can blame her for that last part; but even that is understandable.

    1. (1) and (2) You're right, here. Like I said up there I don't think it's THAT much of a stretch to find the ship - any more than "Dreadnought" or any of the other little things. But, it's not a great idea.

      (3) Glad you enjoy picturing that, as I crack up thinking about it.

      (4) True. Uncomfortable!

    2. (1)+(2): This was a detail I don't remember being bothered about one way or the other. In terms of how the ship got there, I think we're suppose to assume the Borg were just passing through, or something like that.

      (3) I can imagine that idea turning into its own horror scenario. The irony is it would end up with you feeling sympathy as a Borg Drone cowers in fear at what is, in essence, one of those annoying neighbor types who can't shut up about his favorite hobby, inane family troubles, and/or boring trivia about the family vacation.

      ...I'll bet David Lynch could do something with that idea.

      (4) Again, it's a question of what happens when a character becomes to popular for the ensemble as a whole.

      The same thing happened, in fact, with TOS. When Nimoy and Kelly's characters started to become fan favorites, Takei and Nichols really had difficulty time with the resentment fallout.


    3. (1)+(2) My big issue is how this Federation ship got that deep into the Delta quadrant in the first place. That doesn't make any sense; the Voyager is so far away it's going to take the better part of a lifetime to get home. But the Raven got there? I'm not saying it's inexplicable; you can explain it any number of ways, but in my opinion you kind of HAVE to explain it.


      (4) True, but in the case of Seven, they brought her in specifically to shift the show's focus. Pretty offensive, if you look at it that way.

  12. "Scientific Method" --

    (1) I love this one. It made me think a little bit of some TNG episode that I think may have a similar(ish) plot, but I'll be doggone if I can think which one I'm not-quite-thinking of. Anyways, doesn't matter; this is plenty good in its own right, and puts the cast to good use almost top to bottom.

    (2) Boy, Mulgrew is just fantastic in this one. She's completely ragged and on the edge, but she's also still very much playing Janeway. Actors on tv shows must be thrilled when they get tossed an assignment like this.

    (3) All the stuff with B'Elanna and Tom is just adorable. I like that they get to the end of the episode and are all like, "Hey, does mean what we've got going on is fake?" and then just kinda do a sexy shrug at it and get on with getting it on. Why do people dislike this show, again...? I don't get it.

    (4) The scene where Old Man Chakotay and Even Smellier Than Usual Neelix compare their new maladies is pretty great. They both miserable, but they're determined to be MORE miserable than the next guy.

    (5) Those aliens are pretty creepy. Really well cast, too.

    1. My review of this one is even breezier than usual, but where it ranked should indicate my feelings on the job they did. I'm glad you named all these specifics, though! It's a good episode - you might be thinking of "Schisms?" There's an even "Schisms"-ier one coming up, too.

    2. I believe it was indeed "Schisms" my mind was trying to access. Good call!

    3. (2) Part of the reason Janeway has such a following is because she always seems to be at her best when she's gone full tilt! It seems a general rule with her is, the crazier things can get, the better. Though I almost wanna say that's true of art in general.

      (5) This is one episode of VOY that seems to borrow a lot from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", although in this case "Body Hackers" might be a better term. It's interesting to just note how the plot points from IFTBS translate well into the Trek-verse.

      "Scientific Method" isn't alone in drawing on Jack Finney. There is one more, though I think I'll wait for that one to come up in a future post. That is, if it ever does, at least.


    4. (2) That's kind of a quality of the latter-era Treks of the Berman years, isn't it? Sisko has some of that same quality, and so does Archer; they, like Janeway, are just basically under siege nonstop for stretches of their shows. But of the three, I'll take Janeway every time; and that's despite loving Sisko and Archer, as well. I swear I think it may be just because I loved "Remo Williams" so much as a kid.

      (5) Interesting point. It's probably because Finney -- I'm assuming (I've read none of his work) -- wrote parable-style sci-fi. That approach obviously fits into the Trek wheelhouse pretty well. I ought to give his stuff a look one of these days.

  13. "Year of Hell" --

    (1) I've only watched part one, so I'm sure I'll have more to say about the questionable nature of the time-incursion stuff once I've seen part two. Reading your review, I'm all like, "Yeah! Shit! You know, this stuff really DOESN'T make any sense!" Watching it, though, I mostly take that stuff as MacGuffin material. Which is lazy of both me and the writers/producers, but is also kind of inevitable with sci-fi tv of this era.

    (2) The bottom line for me on this first episode, at least, is that it's just fun. It's obviously a "Yesterday's Enterprise" / mirror universe kind of thing designed to allow the actors to play some different sorts of scenes than usual, and give us a different perspective on their characters. I'm almost always down for that; and though it often requires a healthy infusion of bullshittium to get there, I think it's okay because really, Trek is as much metaphor as anything else. The layer of bullshit is often just part of the enabling of the metaphor. As long as it doesn't contradict other bullshit TOO much, I'm usually happy to go along with it.

    You know, I thought point #2 was going to be sufficiently distinct from point #1, and I'm not sure that's actually the case. Comment fail! Pressing on.

    (3) Am I tedious on the subject of how great Kate Mulgrew is? Sometimes I feel like it. But by golly, I just can't help it. And she is fan-friggin'-tastic in part one; I kind of remember that being the case in part two as well.

    (4) The set design is excellent in this one, too. That ship -- and I'm referring to the interior, but the exterior as well -- really looks as if it has been beaten to hell and back. that must have been a huge amount of fun for the design crew. Probably for the actors as well.

  14. "Year of Hell, Part II" --

    (1) I didn't ask this the first episode because I thought the second episode might clarify it. It did not (no surprise, since it's probably my faulty memory at work anyways). What I mean is this: do these episodes work in the context of "Before and After" from season three? Is Kes's absence here compared to there explicable? I'm tempted to watch that episode again as a follow-up to this one, and may end up doing that very thing; it's a fine episode, so that'd be no burden.

    (2) I forgot to mention THIS last time, but Mulgrew's new hairstyle is fantastic. It gets all messed up and dramatic in this second episode; she's never been hotter. Running around all badass and scarred up and defiant; I love every bit of it. Also, love that screencap at the top of this post.

    (3) You're right; the bad guy in this does get off kind of easy. What this (especially when added to Chakotay's relative acceptance of the dude) means, I think, is that the episode is on the side of feeling that he's really not so bad, after all; he's just trying to fix a mistake. I don't know how I feel about that. I guess it's okay in the end, since Janeway's awesome kamikaze dive eliminates everything bad the guy ever did using a temporal weapon. Still, that whole he's-not-so-bad thing leaves a mildly sour taste in my mouth.

    (4) Would the timeship's destruction and erasure from ever having existed had any impact on Kes, and therefore any sort of impact on Voyager itself? This makes my brain hurt.

    (5) The timeship sure does look a lot like Babylon 5. I attach no significance to that; it's just a little odd.

    (6) That scene between Janeway and the Doctor is an A+.

    (7) This would have made a hell of a movie (no pun intended). Too bad they never tried a movie with any of the post-TNG series.

    1. Working backwards:

      (7) Totally. (And they can have my Doctor/ Da Vinci/ Moriarty idea for free - just go make it!)

      (6) Agreed.

      (5) I can see that! An homage, I wonder? Rip-off? Or coincidence?

      (4) (3) and (1) This 2-parter is a lot of fun. But the effort they put in to making this appear to make sense vs. actually making sense is wild. I'll never understand scripts like this; they just work overtime trying to pave over what is a fundamental error. (i.e. the timeline-weapon makes no sense.) They make a big show of "working out the variables" and that scene with Chakotay where they talk about a virus - dude, they would have to multiply this scenario by a googolplex every fraction of a second, endlessly, to achieve anything even remotely like what they propose. I know we can say "hey, metaphor" or "the computer works it out" and sure, that's fine, and it's enough to hang the fun of the 2-parter on. (And from where it falls in the countdown, obviously I enjoy it just fine). But it's that they make such attempts to rationalize it/ explain it that annoy me: just keep it "magic" then, don't act like this makes sense/ is worked out. It's ridiculous.

      (2) "Time's.... UP!!"

    2. (1) Alright, so, I watched "Before and After" again. Great episode, but I'm at a loss to understand why some of the events of "Year of Hell" happened the way they did. Kes has warned them all of the danger the Krenim pose; initially, I thought maybe her journey backward through time had taken her out of the timeline in which she warns Janeway about the Krenim, but no, after she's restored to the proper timeline, they mention the fact that it might be nice to know more about these aliens.

      So that being the case, why, at the beginning of "Year of Hell," do they not beat a very hasty retreat when the squirrely guy in the ship says they are entering Krenim space?

      There's only one answer to this that I can figure: it fell through the plot hole. Because really, that's the only answer.

      But TRYING to be more of a game-day player than that, I'll speculate that at some point between "Before and After" and "Year of Hell" the Krenim timeship made some sort of change to the timeline that essentially erased that version of events (the one in which Kes was present during the year of hell) from existence. Whatever it was, the change was not otherwise significant upon Voyager.

      But then, at the climax of "Year of Hell, Part II," when the timeship is destroyed and all of its effects are reversed, that by definition also erases all the events of "Before and After," right?

      So what does THAT mean in the big picture of all of this?

      This shit will make your brain hurt.

      My tentative assessment is that none of this makes a lick of sense. I don't mind all that much, because it produced three really, really entertaining episodes of television. but I wonder; if "Discovery" had a plot hole that massive -- I mean, unless I'm missing something, this plot hole is about three AU in diameter -- would I forgive it? I suspect not, and I think that might make me a hypocrite.

      But them's the breaks: I'll make allowances and exceptions for shows I love, and will not for those I don't. Guilty as charged.

    3. "I'll make allowances and exceptions for shows I love, and will not for those I don't. Guilty as charged. "

      Yep! Me too. 99/9% of humanity, on all topics, I imagine.

      The entire idea of their being "one" timeline that the 29th century Starfleet polices - and that the Krenim can alter at will, in some localized section of the Delta Quadrant - is just absurd. I put up with it the way I put up with the replicators or insert-technobabble here, but FFS: that one (the timeline thing) kind of irks me when they get too literal with it.

      Then again, "Year of Hell" and "Future's End" are entertaining, but yeah, not for their scientific/ plot-continuity aspects.

      Nice work! You're absolutely correct here.

  15. "Random Thoughts" --

    (1) I thought Alien Police Lady was okay. She's played by Gwynyth Walsh, who also played B'Etor (the less ugly of the two Duras sisters) on TNG. She's not as good here as she is there, but I didn't mind her.

    (2) I love your idea about having Tuvok and her be hella attracted to each other, but not actually interested in doing anything about it. You write Vulcans better than most of Trek's actual writers ever bothered to do! Which is not to suggest that Tuvok is bad here; he's not -- he's just fine, as always. I dig the guy.

    (3) I wasn't 100% sold on the coda scene in which Seven chastises Janeway for letting exploration sidetrack the mission to get home. It's a great little scene on its own, but does it feel shoehorned in here? Probably to just give Janeway and Seven something to do? It did to me, so I both like and dislike the scene.

    (4) I actually find myself thinking about 2018's Thought Police during this episode. No surprise there; it's hard not to think about these days. And that's ME talking! For you, it must be doubly -- triply? -- so. When and if I ever get busted, I hope there will be a Janeway and a Tuvok to get me out of it. Something tells me there won't be.

    (5) Anyways, not a favorite episode, but not bad. If this is one of the worst episodes of the season, then that's a solid season!

    1. (1) You'll be happy to hear I'm making a greater effort in my S5 write-ups to note the resumes of guest stars.

      (2) Thank you! God I'd love to write a Vulcan Science Academy series.

      (3) Shoehorned it felt to me as well.

      (4) Yeah it's really gotten bad. Very worrisome.

      (5) Agreed!

    2. I forgot to mention something from this episode that didn't sit well with me. We hear Neelix talking about having a sort of date lined up on the planet's surface, and then when we see him talking to the woman in question, she's a fruit vendor being played by an actress whose ... how can I put this? ... whose melons are exceptional and are very prominently displayed. Neelix says something about this being some of the best fruit he's ever seen, or whatever.

      Later, he's kind of in discussions with the woman to spend some time together later, when he's told he's going to have to go back to the Voyager. He says something about not being done inspecting the produce.

      Now, here's the thing. I love a handsome bosom as much as the next person who loves handsome bosoms, so I don't mind "Voyager" putting one on display every so often. But the way it's played in this episode, it feels leering and gross. Part of that is because I really just don't want to think of smelly old Neelix in flagrante with a lovely woman; who does? But more than that, it just feels like whoever wrote the episode thought it'd be funny to make a tits-as-fruit joke or two. And frankly, Star Trek is better than that. Or at least, it ought to be.

      A very minor matter, but it chafed me a bit.

    3. It also speaks to the relative impossibility of the scenario, especially if the world is open to off-worlders. Like, uhm, wouldn't this constantly happen, not just to this bosomy woman, but anyone on the world, constantly?

    4. I *think* the idea is supposed to be that it happens only because B'Elanna, what with the Klingon-ness and all, simply has more violent thoughts than anyone else. So it's like other people are methodone whereas she is heroin. I don't think that comes across particularly well in the episode, though.

    5. To be clear, when I say "more violent thoughts" I mean that her violent thoughts are more intense, and therefore more difficult to shake. Not "greater number of." Damned lack of clarity!

    6. That all makes sense. I agree: the episode itself could've gone into a bit better terrain with it all. An exasperated B'Elanna explaining how Klingons are TNT/dy-no-mite to any who'd listen, then bodyslamming Neelix to make her point, etc. I'd dig it!

  16. "Concerning Flight" --

    (1) God, what a weird episode. It's terrific, of course; but so, so weird. I like your idea about Starfleet running perpetual holo-versions of the great minds just to see what dickens they'll get up to. Fuck a duck, man, THERE'S the Star Trek series we all deserve!

    And of course, at the heart of the matter, all of these sims are really just externalizations of the clearly super-advanced A.I. that are Starfleet computers.

    (2) It is gross and unfair that the Moriarty story was never followed up on except that once. But hey, who knows? We've got an Old Man Picard series on the way; there's still time!

    (3) This episode is a good example of the sort of thing "Doctor Who" has long been able to do in a more pure fashion: simply toss the Doctor and his companion(s) into an adventure with some delightful historical figure, and see what the hell happens. It really is a tremendously appealing concept, and some of the conceits of it carry over to this episode, such as Janeway's seeming unwillingness to just tell ol' Leonardo the truth about who and what he really is. Why keep it from him? Is the prime directive -- maybe even the temporal prime directive? -- just so deeply ingrained in her that she can't bring herself to tell even a sim version of Da Vinci about such things? It kind of doesn't make sense on a story level. Emotionally, though, that's EXACTLY what you want to see: Janeway treating this delightful fellow as if he really IS Da Vinci, all so they can run around having fun together.

    (4) Hard to say enough about how great John Rhys Davies is in this episode. He's got a few moments that are just exquisite. (Nothing here, however, touches his finest ever moment on film, from a scene in the extended version of "The Fellowship of the Ring." He, playing Gimli, is asked what gift he has asked of Galadriel. "I asked for one hair from her golden head," he says. "She gave me three." It's about as perfect a line reading as I've heard, from anybody in anything. And it didn't even make the theatrical cut of the movie! Alas! Anyways, he's not THAT great here, but he's pretty damn great.)

    (5) So is Mulgrew, obviously. I think you're right about how great she and Davies are together, too; it just crackles. You get the sense that Janeway, at heart, is someone who simply wants to learn everything she can possibly learn; any time a situation like this comes up, she is so gung ho for it that you practically see her brain's neurons firing like crazy. You wonder if maybe she didn't opt not to use the Caretaker to get them all back less as an act of altruism than as a secret act of giving herself an opportunity no Starfleet captain had ever had before or would be likely to ever have again.

    And watching her, you think, well, why not?

    Also, Kate Mulgrew -- who I find to be beautiful in general -- is just stunning in this episode. Something about that purple outfit she's running around in, having all the fun in the world despite how serious the situation is. She's something else.

    (6) I also like the scene where the Doctor is clearly going crazy after only being without his mobile emitter for a few days. He's turned into a neurotic gossip junkie, which is just funny. More human than human, that one.

    1. I really love this episode. It's not talked about much in VOY circles. (Full disclosure - I'm not sure I've ever really mapped any "VOY circles" so maybe it is.)

      Agreed on all your points - glad you enjoyed! I always feel slightly pathetic doubling back for jokes, (like "won't someone notice my funny? Please? Huh?!") but I'm disappointed you didn't like the Mask 2: Revenge of Rocky Dennis joke.

    2. I did like it! I didn't get it for a second, because I've never -- believe it or not -- seen "Mask." But the name "Rocky Dennis" seemed familiar, so I thought about it and was on the verge of Googling it when it came to me. And man, it's totally true, those aliens do look like the Mask planet. Cher would be very disappointed in how they've turned out.

      Do VOY circles actually exist? They must. I sure hope so, at least. It feels like this show is underappreciated, but surely it's got a contingent of major fans out there.

      And if so, I can't imagine this episode isn't pretty popular among them. If it isn't, they need to get their shit together; this episode is terrific.

    3. "Incoming urgent from Starfleet - Admiral Cher is very displeased with the Rocky Dennis Planet."
      (Janeway eyeroll)

      Man, I used to watch MASK all the time. Not sure why exactly - circa 8th grade or so, though, for some reason, I watched it like 15 times.

      I should have written "proverbial VOY circles" since, as you say, I can't really find any, either. It's too bad. It should definitely have a cult following.

  17. "Mortal Coil" --

    (1) This one is terrific, and quite moving in a way relatively few episodes of Star Trek ever aim for. That said, I do agree with you that Neelix is just a bit much in the multifaceted sense of things. A tighter focus really would have been preferable; as is, he's kind of a Gumby that the series shapes into whatever it needs him to be in any given week.

    (2) Hard to fault Ethan Phillips, though. That dude gave it his all every time he was up to bat on this show (at least through the ones I've seen on this rewatch). And this time, he finally put one right over the wall; oh, and with the bases loaded, too. He's dynamite here.

    (3) Robert Beltran is, too, actually. This is a surprisingly good Chakotay episode.

    (4) I'm not complaining (much), but is the magic-Borg-medicine cure for death a little suspect? I have a hard time believing in that as an actual thing. Or if I do believe in it, it's a little bit like Khan's magic blood in "Into Darkness" in that it really needs to be a primary plot device going forward. Or, alternatively, NEVER EVER EVER be spoken of again once this episode/movie is done. Let's go with that one.

    (5) The idea of Neelix as a sort of Talaxian Timmy Baterman cracks me up. I'm gonna need to remember that for my King/Trek crossover fanfiction epic, which is nowhere near "Pet Sematary" and may never get there.

    (6) The King connections actually ARE real in this episode, though: it was written by Bryan Fuller, who would, a few years later, write the NBC remake of "Carrie."

    And now, I will fan-cast the "Voyager" stars in King movies.

    Kate Mulgrew -- Bobbie Anderson in "The Tommyknockers"
    Robert Beltran -- Wireman in "Duma Key"
    Tim Russ -- Killian in a more novel-faithful "The Running Man"
    Robert Duncan McNeill -- Ben Mears in "Salem's Lot"
    Roxann Dawson -- Susannah Dean in a novel-unfaithful version of "The Dark Tower"
    Garrett Wang -- Norris Ridgewick in "Needful Things"
    Robert Picardo -- Sunlight Gardener in "The Talisman"
    Ethan Phillips -- Gasher in "The Waste Lands"
    Jennifer Lien -- Fran in "The Stand"
    Jeri Ryan -- Sadie in "11/22/63" -- or (ooh!) the pregnant woman in "The Breathing Method"

    1. (1) Glad you liked this one! I was really moved by it.

      (4) Oh no, it's bad. A previous episode (the Harry Kim / alien-mummies one) had a non-Borg equivalent of this, and I can appreciate that Starfleet medicine can bring people back to life within a certain window. But yeah: inconsistency is the culprit, here.

      (6) Nice casting! Beltran as Wireman threw me, but then I pictured what he looks like now and was like hey now! That works quite well.

      Poor Jenn Lien would've made a fabulous Fran back in the day. And Jeri Ryan would've made a great Sadie as well. All good choices, here.

    2. (4) I guess it's relatively easy to rationalize it away by saying that between episodes, they figured out that the Borg microprobes or whatever were too unstable or that it was ethically dubious or something. Not much of an explanation, but it *kinda* works. I guess. Ish.

      (6) I'm not sure why Wireman came to mind first, except for the ethnicity. In thinking who VOY-era Beltran would have been good for, the first one that comes to mind is Dawes from "Roadwork."

  18. "Waking Moments" --

    I don't love this one, but it's not bad.

    I think you are right on the money with the comparisons you made above. What I'll add to that is that this feels to me a lot like what TNG was at the same point in its life: a failed episode in some ways, but one that is made enjoyable if only by virtue of how well the characters and the actors playing them work. Even a "bad" episode of TNG during seasons, oh, 3-7 was often a thoroughly enjoyable hour of television. (The occasional "Sub Rosa" notwithstanding.)

    That's what I would say about this one: it's arguably a "bad" episode, and yet, still pretty dang good. Pretty sure I said that about some other one above, and if so, I probably also said that it's continued evidence that is really a very strong series in many ways.

    I had a little trouble staying awake through this one, by the way -- up a little too late after getting too little sleep the night before. But I powered through it, and it kind of added an extra layer of oomph to the proceedings. Weird thing is, I keep seeing the moon in my kitchen...

    1. Hey, I love "Sub Rosa!"

      I'm the only one, I know. LIGHT THE CANDLE, BEVERLY!!!

    2. The idea that in the future, somebody made Scottish Theme Park: The Planet is pretty charming, I cannot deny it.

  19. "Message in a Bottle" --

    (1) "Folks, reasonable people don't do things like write 100+ blogs of Star Trek. To paraphrase-rather-than-look-up King's On Writing once more, if you take up the task, your days in reasonable society are pretty much over." -- I'm not up to a hundred yet, but I, too, have switched off the reasonable-person track on this subject. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

    (2) I agree that I wish this had a different title than "Message in a Bottle," and for precisely the reason you list. I suggest "Long Distance Operator" as a replacement. No? How about "EMH-Squared" (but with the two above the H)? Also no good? How about ... uh ... I got nothing.

    (3) I call bullshit on the whole sending-the-doctor-across-the-universe thing. I call such bullshit on it that I am tempted to, Michael Scott style, stick my head out my front door and holler "I ... CALL ... BULLSHIT ...!" at the top of my lungs. But it's five in the morning, and even at five in the afternoon that seems ill-advised. So just know that I am tempted.

    (4) That said, I don't really care all that much. If an episode is going to be this much fun, then I'll give it some bullshit room. And this one is a blast from beginning to end.

    (5) I forgot to mention this in the last episode, but boy was Roxann Dawson pregnant as fuck. And in this episode, they really aren't hiding it very well. She's wearing the biggest smock you've ever seen, and I think they've stuck some engineering gizmos in a shirt pocket so that the audience won't question why she suddenly wearing a different uniform. Or if they do question it, they'll come up with the answer, "Oh, that's her work smock. Cool." And it's not cool. It looks like shit. But hey, I like B'Elanna, so whatever; if that's what it took to keep a pregnant Roxann Dawson on the show, I'll roll with that.

    (6) You're right: this is a cool way to introduce the Hirogen.

    (7) The Prometheus is cool as hell.

    (8) Ugh, the Dominion War. Maybe it'll play differently for me on this rewatch of DS9 -- I'm in season two right now -- but that whole thing just bored me. Star Trek ain't about wars, you pack of hyenas.

    (9) That bit where the Doctor is trying to sound like a Romulan is perfect. And you're right, he and Andy Dick do work well together. That said, I can imagine somebody who was a Voyager novice watching this episode and kind of trying to sneak out of the room about halfway through while you weren't seeing them go. But that ain't me; I love this one.

    (10) Oh, and hey, guest-star alert: the Romulan captain is played by Khan's second in command from "Star Trek II."

    1. (3) Yeah it's definitely from the Worf's-replicated-spine part of the writer's room. There really should be a guy on staff who JUST edits all subsequent stories for anything that goes too far, i.e. "Well, they could just send the Doctor across the universe again" or "well, they could just bring Neelix/ Tom back from death again," etc. Instead, you constantly run into the crew trying to figure their way out of something that simply applying something they learned from a different episode would save them. Ah well. Like you say, no big whup so long as it's good - that kind of thing is basically unavoidable, so you jsut have to deliver the goods, story/fun-wise.

      (8) Me too. Plus these wars just make no sense. Like ship to ship combat they seem to proceed like 20th century conflicts. It's just bad decisionmaking and I remember even tho I liked parts of it just thinking well this would be dumb, if they just made Trek into another war-in-space thing.

    2. (3) Worf's spine. Dios mio!

      (8) Some great episodes come out of it, for sure -- but still, the way it all plays in my mind is as Star Trek made by people who no longer have any interest in making STAR TREK, and kind of don't care who knows about it.

  20. "Hunters" --

    (1) I agree: The crew reactions to the letters is where it's at with this episode. So much so that the other stuff feels like a real distraction. I'm reminded of "Data's Day," where all the stuff with Data going about his daily routine is so wonderful, but then they append a lame Romulan-intrigue subplot to play to the LCD audience members. Most of whom seem unlikely to have been watching anyways. Just be about what you're about, show! I think a much better version of the VOY episode could have just focused on the letters; there's plenty of drama there. Have the Hirogen show up right at the end, set up a cliffhanger for the next episode, boom, you've accomplished everything you needed to.

    (2) All that said, the stuff with the letters is SO good that even the distraction from the Hirogen subplot doesn't faze me much. If only for Mulgrew in the scene when Janeway reads her letter from Mark, this episode is worthy -- and that's an all-time classic among Janeway scenes. But then you also get Neelix reading a resigned Tuvok his letter from Vulcan, and the scene where Chakotay tells B'Elanna the Maquis have been wiped out, and the scene where Tom clearly doesn't want to hear from his dad. Plus poor Harry, in a very reliable kicked-puppy-dog mode here. All great.

    (3) At least it wasn't Chakotay who lost a shuttle this time.

    (4) The Hirogen ARE better than the Kazon, but that's low praise. I like how huge they are; visually, that's effective. They're alright, I guess. I like the idea of that relay network built on the backs of tiny black holes, though; THAT'S cool.

    (5) And yeah, I agree: I'm sort of Team Hirogen in this argument over Voyager using that network without permission. Look how that shit turned out!

    1. Hear hear on all these points, for sure.

      Looking forward to your thoughts on "Prey."

  21. "Prey" --

    (1) " "If It Leaks A Quantum Signature, We Can Irregulate Its Isonarrative Subroutine!" " -- Wonderful!

    (2) I'd forgotten Tony Todd was in this one. You're right, he's great. But he's always great! I'm not sure I understand how he managed NOT to become one of the world's biggest stars.

    (3) Boy, it looks like Mulgrew just wants to chop poor old Jeri Ryan's head off here, doesn't it? Ryan never backs down from it, though.

    (4) There's a lot of great classic Trekian themes in this one. Going right back to the freaking "Corbomite Maneuver" with the whole "Let's stop to save this wounded alien that could kill us all in ten seconds flat" thing. I kind of DO see the Hirogen point of view in this, and I kind of DO see Seven's point of view; but at the same time, I give pretty much everything Janeway says and does a thumbs up. She lives what she preaches, man. Can't accuse her otherwise.

    (5) It's a great episode, but I question why anyone would send Tom Paris on an away mission onto a freaking Hirogen ship. That dude's gonna end up fermenting in a vat.

    (6) Regarding this member of Species 8472: well, first of all, I kind of wish they'd given him a name, like when Picard named that one Borg guy. I have no suggestions for a name. It would have been funny for the Doctor to be super indignant over how it's been years and HE doesn't have a goddamn name, but this alien asshole gets one in five minutes!

    (7) Secondly, I kind of like that all the poor gangly bastard wants is to get back home.

    (8) Thirdly ... why is this one 8472 dude in this part of the galaxy? Didn't Kes throw Voyager something like the equivalent of a ten-years-long journey away from the sector where the Borg and Species 8472 had been in combat? Not sure it makes any actual sense for there to be a surviving member of that species this far out. But hey, so be it.

    1. (1) That could be the best thing I ever wrote. I told myself, tho, that if you/ no one mentioned it, I wasn't going to bring it up in the comments. So, I'm glad you did!

      (4) Janeway is fantastic. I knew there was a reason why I always said she was my 3rd favorite of the Captains. And really she might even be tied with Picard for me.

      (8) That is a good point. I hadn't considered that. Let's assume the Hirogen sent a hunting party into fluidic space or something, or have been tracking that one for many many light years.

    2. (1) Insert thumbs-up image here.

      (2) Blasphemy! Sacrilege! But ... I am close to being with you. In fact, I'm leaning right now toward thinking that I actually kind of like Voyager more than I like The Next Generation. Which is a shocking thing for me to say, and which shocks me to be thinking it. But, pending revisiting the rest of the series, I think it may actually be true. This series is grossly underrated.

      (8) Works for me.

    3. (3) I have to agree. Both actresses were in fine form for this one.

      (4) For me, this is one of those moments where I can't decide if this is a Crazy-Janie episode or not. I understand it more from a Writer's Room perspective. On the one hand, it's clear to me that they were asking themselves "What would Gene do", versus a what would everyone else in the same situation...

      ...And I'm kind of left stumped there. I know that a lack of resolution might have been what they were going for, and yet, somehow I think a fuller conclusion would have been more satisfactory. Also, while I can give Janeway points for living by her idea, I always get sort of ruffled by the way they handle her at the end of the episode. It just always makes me want to side with Seven. If ambiguity was what they were going for, then maybe they shouldn't have written in such a way that it came off as a Crazy-Janie moment. However, that's just me.

      (6) That's an idea that never really occurred to me until just now. Trouble is I can't think of a single name. If I think of the character at all, it's usually just in terms as "The Creature".

      (2) I'm willing to give VOY a higher rating than most as well. No harm done, unlike...well, a lot of current franchise incarnations right now.


    4. (6) They could have named him Schmullus, Jr.

    5. (6) Schmullito!

      (4) I can see what you mean, Chris. I think Janeway is on the verge of seeing Seven as an enemy again, and in dealing with enemies, Janeway is pretty damned uncompromising. Perhaps overly so at times, such as this one. The scene is played so as to be from Seven's perspective, and no doubt about it, Janeway is the antagonist -- and a scary one. Great stuff.

  22. "Retrospect" --

    I think you're probably looking at this one with fair eyes. I don't think it's much better than a B -- but it IS that, at least in my opinion, and that's certainly not bad.

    The fresh relevance of the episode certainly makes it interesting. But I think it was always kind of on the daring side to tell this story in this way. Does it risk making Seven seem untrustworthy and unsympathetic? Does it have the same effect on the Doctor? Janeway?

    I don't have great answers for those questions. And maybe that's okay; I don't get the feeling that the episode wants me to feel anything other than conflicted.

    It's probably telling that the only character who is significantly involved in this episode and emerges from it smelling like a rose is Tuvok. I don't always find that the Vulcan approach is the best; but when it is, it REALLY is, and here is an excellent example.

    So in the end, I don't think this is a great episode, per se; but it's got that moral/ethical complexity that is a hallmark of the best Star Trek, and that goes a long way in my book.

    1. I don't think it made Seven unsympathetic in the least, really. If anything, it made her more sympathetic. If there's any complaint to be made, it would have to be that there's something about this episode, something that's missing, like maybe they should have gone farther in certain areas, or some damn thing.

      Another possibility that makes this episode kinda iffy isn't the subject matter so much as the fact that it comes straight on the heels of "Prey" an episode that (maybe) decides to go dark with Janeway. The result being that having the show appear to be trashing Seven, when perhaps either a more delicate, or else a more "go-to-the-wall" approach that would still see her character with a more satisfying vindication.

      Finally, there is the big elephant in the room that the episode is addressing what is now called "The Culture of Rape". Lately I've seen signs of this sub-culture (for lack of a better word) trying to normalize itself in society at large. The best word I can describe for it is pathological. It is literal sociopaths at the mercy of their own deviant compulsions, to the point where they are willing to suggest the world at large should just give up on anything like healthy physical relationships. The problem is the ultimate goal of such behavior seems to be to cancel itself out. In which case, what they could be accused of asking for is a death wish under guise of unhealthy...what I'm thinking of doesn't deserve the word sex.

      In any case, my point is this seems like the writers had a whole bunch of opportunities that they somehow never quite got hold of.

      Is it possible to write a Trek episode dealing with this subject matter? Yes, I think it can. Can a character like Seven be used in such a story? Again yes. I'm even willing to go further and repeat something I've said before. I think you could address these issues in such a way that Seven is able to be a positive and example of a healthy form of sexuality. Did we get this in "Retrospect"? I think it's made sincere effort, though perhaps more could have been done.


    2. Some very interesting remarks and thoughts. I definitely think they wanted to make you feel conflicted and not tie anything up. It might have been enough to bring up these things.

    3. oops, somehow the last part of my sentence didn't publish. Anyway: it's a tricky topic. I commend the episode for existing and I think they did well enough with me. But like I say, it's more the media-academe environment of 2018 that makes me esteem it more highly. We live increasingly in an era where "rape culture" is weaponized. Look at the recent Catholic Church scandal - I should say the MOST recent Catholic Church scandal: same scandal, every 10 years - the NYT felt compelled to write about it as if it was just right-wing paranoia. They were called out for it, but the people who read the NYT don't care about that kind of stuff: they WANT the NYT to weaponize rape and race and whatever else, because they are focused on different goals than anti-rape/ anti-racism. It's crazy to me that in the name of partisan bias, they're willing to strain the papers rep even further by dismissing what any reasonable person can clearly see is a culture of rape, active conspiracy to evade the law/ statute of limitations, and cover-up, and even weirder that they're doing it for the Catholic Church - historically a men-centric organization - but there it is.

      This is the climate in which I watch and ponder "Retrospect." It's tough to get into a 23rd century mindset when the above is happening.

    4. The 23rd century does indeed seem farther away with every passing day. Ah, well; I was never gonna get there anyways. It'd be nice to think others will, though.

  23. "The Killing Game" --

    (1) I'm more like two parts "meh" on this one, personally. I'm not that big a fan of the Hirogen to begin with, so if you're going to introduce a sort of pussified strain of them, that's a tough sell for me. Maybe I'm looking at it wrong; maybe these ones here are d-listers among the species, and if Tony Todd's character had somehow stumbled upon this scene, he'd have just eaten all their brains straight out of their skulls. Hey, THAT I'd be down for.

    (2) I find some of the familiar-actors-in-unfamiliar-roles stuff to be fun. For example, Jeri Ryan wearing berets and dresses and whatnot -- fine by me, y'all. Kate Mulgrew in a white tux? I only wish Roger Moore had showed up in some capacity. Robert Beltran in an army uniform is fun, too; and I guess seeing Janeway and Neelix as Klingons has its charms. Most of the rest, I could live without it.

    (3) I'm going to call bullshit on the notion that Janeway would be willing to hand over Federation technology to the Hirogen. Wouldn't that be a titanic Prime Directive violation?

    (4) How could the ship possibly have enough power to run what essentially becomes an alternate universe? The holodeck is already a big ask in suspension of disbelief; this, I think, pushes it a few notches too far for my tastes.

    (5) I second your call for an alternate-history Nazi episode of "Modern Family."

    (6) I believe the makers of "The Man in the High Castle" should be obliged to do an alternate-history episode where everyone is living in a history where Genghis Khan persevered or something. Something uber-weird like that.

    1. I have to agree with you on (3) and (4). These are major faux pas. I kind of just look at this episode as a big indulgence/ roll-eyes-sigh, oh okay just go and have fun and I'll see you when you get back sort of deal, but those two things very much undermine the whole VOY ethos. We'll just pretend they didn't happen and move on.

      5) Amen!

      6) I still haven't seen that one - any good? Alternate timelines are always so tough. My big example is always the "Confederacy won" ones; these have slavery continuing on and through the 20th century. It's such a stunning failure of imagination to me or of fleshing out the concept. Like, if you wanted to convey Abe Lincoln or Robert E Lee as children, you wouldn't have them wearing their familiar clothes from later in life; that would be ridiculous. (i.e. a beard and top hat on 6-year-old Abe and a Confederate general's coat on 6-year-old-Lee). I have the same reaction to a lot of alternate-timeline stuff; you have to do a lot of extra work plotting out how the world might look/ have proceeded from the divergent point you've now created. Instead, writers take the lazy route. Meh. It's the sort of thing, too, where if you're NOT interested in taking the lazy route, the work involved becomes so intense and tedious the initial "what if..." gets bogged down in details. I'm not saying it's not worth exploring or can't be done right - it is, and it can - but sometimes, like the Krenim weapon from "Year of Hell," it just seems like too unwieldy a concept to be hammered into shape, especially a one-hour-episode shape.

      In this and in many other ways, TOS was fortunate to have come out in the era it did. Trailblazers never have to worry about setting up all the trail markers; they just have to make it through the one time.

    2. (3-4) Yeah, I think you're right: this was some sort of indulgence-fulfillment thing. I wish I knew who was being indulged. An actor, a writer, a studio executive, an agent; the usual suspects.

      Wouldn't surprise me if it was Brannon Braga or Joe Menosky, the co-writers. Braga seems to have been determined to stretch the holodeck concept as far as he could in as many different directions, so this may be his doing. And if so, well, I don't think it worked; but I also don't mind him having gone too far and failed.

      I have to shamefully admit to some hypocrisy, though. If I disliked "Voyager" (which I certainly don't, I love it), these episodes would make me nuts. I'd be pointing at them and screaming while hoisting a pitchfork. I mean, you LET "Discovery" do some bullshit like this and see how I react...! With a series I love, though, I mostly just shrug it off and say, eh, it'll be better next week.

      (6) I'd give it a B+ through the first two seasons. Not sure I'm going to watch the third; I might just out of habit, but I might not as a time-saving measure.

      I have zero interest in Confederacy-won stories. Maybe even less than that.

    3. (6) Interesting! Myself, I've been working on a Civil War what-if story for years as part of a whole Crisis of Infinite Timelines thing. If I ever get it done, maybe you'll change your mind. I don't think there's anything wrong with the what-if history concept / alternate timeline exploration in general, just so long as it's done right. I say this as a fan of TOS "Mirror, Mirror" but again, the advantage of being a trailblazer: you don't get dinged as much for breaking every rule of logic and sense n your smash-and-grab blitzkrieg through an hour of 60s TV: you just kick ass and get the hell out of there and icon achieved.

      This speaks to your (5) point, too, about how we rationalize in things we like BS we'd never put up with in things we don't.

      I want to see "High Castle" - I trust PKD to pull stuff off correctly/ not cheat. One of these days!

    4. I don't have much familiarity with ascendant-Confederacy what-ifs, to be fair. As with most things, a good story and the right way into it all would likely turn me around.

      As for "The Man in the High Castle," I am under the impression that the PKD content of the series is negligible. But I've never read it, despite having had a copy for twenty-plus years. I can see it on a shelf right now, glaring at me. Sorry, book! Nothing personal.

    5. I should clarify that it's not the Confederacy-specific aspect of alternate timeline stories I mean, just the idea in general. As a history buff, I greatly enjoy what-if-ing divergent threads. (What if Napoleon had done this instead of that, what if the British had allied with the Confederacy in exchange for ending slavery, what if the Norman colony on the Black Sea had become its own nation, what if Japan/Bose had been successful in their invasion of India, etc. So many others.)

      That said, I generally can't read any book-length single-concept alternate timeline stuff. No real interest. But, I like to play around with them in my head.

    6. Makes sense to me. I used to want to write a sci-fi series in which mankind got to the moon and discovered a bunch of abandoned alien technology and a sort of shadow space program got started as a result. So like Star Trek, but with people in the sixties and with most of Earth unaware such a thing was happening.

      I lack the commitment to actually do such a thing, though, so it exclusively lived in my brain, in extremely out of focus manner.

    7. You know, I thought did just occur to me. How can you travel for such a long stretch of distance if you're just in a hologram simulation?

      I always assumed holodecks were just little electronic rooms set apart for recreation, and that was all there was to it, really. I understand the Hirogen have expanded the reach of the hologram tech on the ship to several decks. It still raises a few interesting questions, though.

      For instance, we see Neelix ride a bike through a simulated french street. Now, presumably, he is riding through a corridor of the ship, and the street layout merely serves to mark out where the ship's walls are, with doorways leading into other rooms and corridors.

      I'm still left wondering just how big the ship is, or how many straight lines there are in such an artificial environment.

      Also, a hole is blown in the tech, and it shows from as far up as a two story building. What room is that in, anyway?

      There aren't deal breakers for me, really. I still come away liking this episode. It's just one of those icebox logic moments that occur now and then.


    8. Mine is the replicator. That one breaks my brain if I think about it too long.

      I'll never understand that aspect of the holodeck, either, except I think they used magical sub-space to describe some of its functions. Must be 24th century tech we simply don't understand! :-)

    9. In my head, the way the holodeck works is via shifting perspectives and orientations, so that what one perceives as straight-line movement may actually be a sort of complicated walking-in-a-circle action. Given a room of a sufficient size, that would probably be possible. The holodecks tend not to look that big in the episodes, but I take that as a budgetary restriction and assume the actual room is supposed to be a good deal larger.

  24. "Vis a Vis" --

    I spent most of this episode fighting off micronaps, not with a huge amount of success. And I don't feel like I missed a whole heck of a lot, but I did have one question at the end of it: why, exactly, did Voyager not go meet up with the aliens who have the coaxial drive or whatever it's called? Seems like that'd be a useful thing in trying to get back home, so I don't know that I get why Janeway would be sort of ho-hum about it. Did I sleep through something?

    Alas, that's about all I have to say about this episode, which is not among my favorites, or even among those I find more than tolerable.

    1. I don't even remember, myself. I'll have to look it up. (Minutes later: didn't find the answer. I'll have to watch it again sooner or later.)

  25. "The Omega Directive" --

    (1) This is a silly episode, but for whatever reason I bought into it early and stayed onboard. Subgenre: "We are all going to put on very serious faces and walk very briskly while talking about things in voices not much raised above whispers, and not one lick of it is going to make sense, but everyone will know how incredibly for real we are about it." And you know, as far as that sort of thing goes, pretty solid.

    (2) I agree that they probably didn't fully sell the core concept of Omega itself. I like the buildup more than the payoff in that regard. That said, I do like the buildup quite a bit: a super-secret thing only captains, commodores, and admirals know about, which is so serious that they're all given the ability to SUSPEND THE FUCKING PRIME DIRECTIVE in the event of running across it. Does that idea fit with the rest of Trek? Eh ... let's call it a maybe. I mean, visiting Talos IV apparently carries a death penalty, so ... sure.

    (3) You know, I mentioned not liking the payoff, but I'm not sure that's true. I actually do like the fact that Janeway -- despite one degree or another of pushback from Chakotay, Tuvok, and Seven -- never goes back on her mandate to blow this shit to kingdom come. Janeway is a complete badass in this episode. But then, the episode also does a good job of allowing Seven to maintain her own wants and beliefs in the face of Janeway's refusal to bow to them. A lesser episode would have required one or the other of these characters to subordinate herself to the other, and that never happens here; I think that's a point in its favor.

    (4) I kind of liked the "Harry Kim, your new designation is Two Of Ten" thing. I found myself thinking throughout the episode that while Seven is making an honest go of humanizing herself, left to her own devices she would probably re-Borg-ify herself in a heartbeat. So when she's put in charge of something and told, "Do it however you see fit, just get it done," I totally buy that some weird behavior would come out. I also take this whole subplot as a sort of referendum on the fact that Harry kiiiiiiiinda sucks...? A little bit? Which actually makes him a more interesting character to me.

    (5) I enjoyed the fact that Neelix was left out of all the top-secret mission briefings, presumably because Janeway knows he can NOT be trusted to keep his fool mouth shut.

    (6) Nice shoutout to Carol Marcus and the Genesis Device. And yet, still ZERO mentions of George and Gracie since 1986. Shameful.

    1. 1. So far, I guess it is an open question of how well anyone can discuss philosophy in the form of a narrative meant for entertainment.

      I suppose it takes a certain kind of story to make such an approach work. Rod Serling for instance scored a lot more hits, than misses, in my book with the "Zone".

      Also the premise an execution of Patrick McGoohan's "The Prisoner" was just surreal enough to make a discussion of existentialism seem natural.

      The trouble is no one seems to have really tried such an approach to Trek yet. It's kind of a shame when you think about it , really. It could be the shot in the arm the franchise needs. Oh well.

      2. For the concept of Omega, see point 1 above. I will say that I'm not sure a more surreal, existential approach to Trek would garner many fans, even if the writing was top quality. Still, even such a show tanked, the cast and crew would at least have something they could be proud of.

      3. The payoff is also something I kinda struggle with. Again, I think what was needed was a more out there approach to the material. Like maybe Janeway makes the elimination attempt early, only it backfires and Janey and Seven themselves actually in Omega, and it's all trippy and big ideas, and whatnot. However, who knows.

      4. I think Seven has reached a point by this episode where she already can't go back, and yet doesn't really have much in the way of a direction forward. If she were left to her own devices (i.e. just a ship and her lonesome) then I imagine she would mostly keep to herself, only making contact when it came to fuel and food.

      At the same time, it would also make sense that she can't be a wallflower all the time. It would make dramatic sense if she were to run into situations where she either has to think outside the Cube, or else be eliminated. It would also help if the writer's had considered giving her interactions with other characters who were smart enough to understand her level of thinking and subtly turn it upside down on her.

      Like I know Kirk was out of the question by this point. However, that didn't mean you couldn't alien character who are just as smart as Kirk at putting the mind-freak on people just as well as computers. If you'd given Seven's character those kinds of situations, you might have had at least the opportunity for first class sc-fi.


  26. (5) You know it's true.

    (6) That is a good point! Everyone kinda doesn't mention the whole whales thing ever again. That's ridiculous.

    Not quite as ridiculous as everything in this episode, but ridiculous enough! To each their own, though, any enjoyment from Trek is enjoyment I don't judge harshly.

  27. "Unforgettable" --

    This one is a swing and a miss for me, and I think most of that is down to the complete lack of chemistry between Robert Beltran and Virginia Madsen. But I don't wholly blame them; the direction is flat, too, and the screenplay a little on the unenthusiastic side. What one wants from an episode like this is to be emotionally engaged by it, and -- except for that above-average moment as Madsen is beaming off the ship -- I was never engaged by this episode in that way. Well, actually, there is one other scene: the one in which Neelix gives Chakotay a bit of a consolation talk right at the very end.

    Otherwise, though, this episode is kind of content to be the bland, tidily unemotional sort of thing that many of the Berman era's critics accuse these shows of being. Not bad, but not the classic it had the potential to be.

    1. Probably very fair. I should have mentioned I have kind of a thing for Virginia Madsen - full disclosure! It doesn't take much for me. Either way I think your remarks are accurate.

    2. Who WOULDN'T have a thing for Virginia Madsen? She's something else.

      I don't know that this episode takes proper advantage of that, though. Maybe it's just that Chakotay's standoffishness makes things wonky.

    3. Is it possible that what we have here is a good idea squandered? Here's a better question, what if tying this particular idea to Voyager is what hurts it?

      I can't help thinking that making it a part of Voyager, if not of Trek in general, is what bogs "Unforgettable" down. I almost think it would have been better to keep the premise, along with certain lines of dialogue, and yet shift things around so that it is it's own stand-alone thing. Just a neat little unrequited love story.

      There's one way of going at it at least.


  28. "Living Witness" --

    (1) Great episode, and one which makes excellent use of what the Doctor brings to the table as a character that is different than any other Trek character. Well, I suppose one could have theoretically done with with an android which had Data's memories, or something like that. Generally, though, this is a Doctor-specific story, and it benefits from that greatly.

    (2) I don't think you're wrong to project some of 2018's concerns on the episode. There are plenty of great Trek episodes that possess a longevity that is both inspirational and sad. I think this one can be placed very comfortably on that list.

    (3) The evil-Voyager recreations are more or less a Mirror Universe type of thing, aren't they? This story was a clever way of allowing the actors to do that sort of thing without (mercifully) having to do an actual Mirror Universe episode.

    (4) That shot of Tuvok smirking is indeed great. I forgot to notice who directed the episode, so I'm pleased you mention it having been Tin Russ. He did quite nicely.

    (5) The set of the museum -- correct if I'm wrong, but wasn't this a leftover Son'a set from "Insurrection"?

    (6) I don't know for sure, but I believe this episode must have been filmed while Roxann Dawson was on maternity leave. She wasn't in "Unforgettable," either, now that I think about it. It was a nice touch for the Doctor to still mention her here; a nice way for B'Elanna to still be involved.

    (7) Man, I really want somebody to write a novel about the backup Doctor making his way back to Earth. What would he do when he got there? I believe he and some of the other immortal Trek characters -- Data (fuck a damn B4), Schmullus 1.0, the Andy Dick EMH, and Moriarty -- would form a private detective agency, or something stupid like that.

    Okay, well, maybe somebody other than me oughta write that one.

    1. (3) I agree.

      (5) Is it? I didn't recognize it, but I think you are right. Good eye!

      (7) I'd read it! I think it's a great idea for a Trek story.

  29. "Demon" --

    (1) This is a marvelous episode, one that puts me in mind of the first season's penchant for villain-free episodes that focused on wackadoo concepts and mostly worked like a charm. That sort of stuff is some of my very favorite Star Trek, and I think this episode fits right in.

    (2) I can imagine this being a fantastic TOS episode, too. (Or a fantastic TNG, or Enterprise, for that matter.) Substitute Sulu and Chekov for Tom and Harry, and bam, you've got gold. Although it'd be Kirk and Spock, not Sulu and Chekov, because that's how TOS worked. And while I'd love to somehow see that, this also seems like an episode that takes true advantage of the "Voyager" concept, making it a better fit for this series than any of the others.

    I peeked at Wikipedia to remind myself of the sequel episode -- and this "Voyager"-specific quality I mention is definitely present in that one, if I'm remembering it correctly.

    (3) I like the banter between Tom and Harry in this one. There's a great little moment when Harry volunteers Tom to accompany him down to the planet, and gives him a comradely smack in the chest. Tom's mouth literally hangs open in surprise; he's been one-upped in spectacular fashion, and knows it.

    (4) The Neelix-annoying-Shmullus subplot is a little tedious, but it's got that lovely conclusion in which Neelix thanks the Doctor for his hospitality and tells him if he ever needs a place to stay he's got it. That's a top-flight Neelix moment, right there.

    (5) I'm always thrilled when an episode of Trek investigates a weird or unusual type of planet. For years, I've always wanted to see a series about a crew that investigates not Class M planets, but other types. I'd watch that show very intently.

    1. (3) That moment is indeed fun. I see that as more of a cool-Harry moment than Tom. Tom's lines really annoy me in this one. Sometimes he should just shut the hell up, or someone on screen should tell him so. Damn the polite future!

      (5) That's a great idea! God I wish they made sensible goddamn Trek.

      Oh and (4) totally agreed.

    2. (3) He is indeed like a charming hemorrhoid in this one.

  30. "One" --

    (1) Yep, that's a hell of an episode. And it's another one which could really only have worked on "Voyager." AND it's one which really only works as a Seven episode. You couldn't do this with any of the other crewmembers, perhaps on any of the shows. (Although there's probably a pretty good -- but very different -- version in which Data plays the role of David in "Prometheus," walking around being weird while everyone else is in cryo.)

    (2) Jeri Ryan is terrific here, and I'd say about 75% of it is accomplished purely via her eyes. She maintains her composure, for the most part; she more or less retains that icy exterior throughout. But I swear, you can practically see the ice melting in her eyes.

    (3) Also, it must be said: seeing a full-body shot of her striding purposefully down a corridor is really quite a sight to behold. I feel almost guilty mentioning that. Too many complaints about that aspect of the series -- and probably too many plaudits, too, from guys like me -- have been made for me to feel good about it. Still, it's extra true in this episode, and it has zero negative impact on the terrific character work Ryan (and the writer and director) is doing. THAT'S the part that really matters.

    (4) It'd be very difficult to say enough good things about the scenes that bookend the episode. Seven's final line is indeed haunting.

    (5) Not only is the Overlook connection apropos, I'd swear if I didn't know better than this was a Bryan Fuller episode. Fuller put at least one major "Shining" shoutout in an early episode of "Hannibal," and is a King-head in general. But no, this was written by Jeri Taylor. Marvelously.

    1. (5) I was really surprised by how many times I thought of both "Out of Gas" and The Overlook here. Probably just a similarity of concept thing, but (with "Out of Gas") right down to the visiting, ominous tradesman appearing.

      (3) It's difficult not to notice. And what the hell, she looks great. She's a great character, and Jeri Ryan does a great job with her. She's also hot as hell. I don't fret about it.

      (1) Good points!

      I've been keeping track of your progress through s4 and have been trying to prep s5 for you so you won't have too much of a gap. So far so good, I got most of it written and screencapped a month or so ago, now just the organizing/ formatting.

    2. (5) It's been a while -- far too long, actually -- since I watched Firefly for "One" to summon "Out of Gas" much for me. But thinking about it, yeah, for sure. Boy, that's a great episode. Great series! Firefly, I mean. Well, Voyager, too; but HELLA Firefly.

      (3) I mostly don't notice how hot she is. I mean, it's impossible not to, but I find that the episodes rarely do all that much to cause me to focus on it (which I say as a compliment to the series). Every now and then, though; and there's a shot of her in a corridor walking intently that made me say to myself, "Holy smokes, that's like watching a Greek statue in motion!" Alls I can do is bow down. AND then the character work is just as impressive?!? It's almost unfair to other shows.

      I'm almost at the end of season four, and I think I'm going to pause between four and five to tackle "The Trip." That post made me itch to see that show.

    3. (1) Is it wrong to admit you actually don't mind "Prometheus"? I'll definitely take it over the lackluster sequel. While it's a storyline that never really went anywhere, it's obvious Scot was trying to do something different in a fairly intelligent way. Trouble seems to be that the kind of filmmaking on display was out of fashion as far back as 1985. So a film like that, hell, even a film like "Dark City" is pretty much a guaranteed niche fave.

      (3) I don't mind admitting to having plenty of opportunity to notice how hot Jeri Ryan is during this episode, as well as others. In terms of such "noticing", I think something needs to be done to make clear that not all "looking" is meant is by definition sociopathic.

      Just as the fact that women like Ryan publicly embrace a sensual way of living doesn't make them less than human. While it's not secret Ryan is self-aware that she's a looker, and that she really enjoys being sexual, it's also apparent that she had/has a very mature understanding of the difference between a healthy enjoyment of sexuality, and psychological prurience. Ms. Ryan always managed to embody (literally) the former, while always avoiding the latter.

      In addition, it is possible for some forms of prurience to be a manifestation of self-loathing, or lack of self-respect. It's obvious enough that Jeri had no problems in that regard. Perhaps why even now there's no regret or shame attached to the role for her.

      (3)(5) I think Jeri Taylor shows a remarkable understanding of how the horror genre works in many ways. While Ryan's acting is fine, I think it's more the effort Taylor put into her script for this outing that put's it over the top for me. In addition to "The Shining", I also wonder if maybe a few stylistic, if not thematic, influences come from the movie "Repulsion", at least in as much as the idea of a woman being driven to madness by isolation, anyway.


    4. (1) "Prometheus" has problems, but a lot of it is great. Way too good a movie to be written off the way it often is. And better than "Alien: Covenant" in almost literally every way.

    5. I've come to accept that my confusion about PROMETHEUS is basically due to falling asleep during it. When I woke up - unaware of what I missed - I was baffled. I need to see it again. I haven't seen ALIEN COVENANT.

      I had to look back up there to answer my question "how did we end up talking about PROMETHEUS?" and saw the Data/ David comment. No word of a lie - in the late 90s I pitched (to my then-girlfriend, who was really into Trek, like a Trek Magazine subscriber and everything) an idea for a Last Data Story. (This was pre-Nemesis, obviously.) Anyway, the idea was that since Data was more or less immortal or at worst extremely long-lived, he volunteered for a Deep Quadrant project, to be the caretaker of a multi-generational voyage. (I think in my mind it had something to do with the Kelvins. Who, again, should have been Species 8342.) But, something goes awry along the way. Does he go crazy? Does the ship go crazy? Does space go crazy? Tune in to find out! Or, it could be like Starfleet, after setting up the above scenario, begins to receive Col-Kurtz-like transmissions from Data from deep space and then they send Space Martin Sheen / United Spacecraft Discovery One to figure out what the heck happened.

      Anyway - I agree: it's a natural use of the character/ concept for a whatever-happened-to-scenario.

      Instead, we got B4.

    6. I think you'll enjoy THE TRIP. It's a really great series(es).

    7. p.s. I may have brought up that Last Data Story a few times elsewhere. It's ringing my Deja Vu bell. Apologies if I'm repeating myself (more than usual).

    8. I've heard it before. Partially in my own head! I think I pitched a similar idea to you at one point about Data captaining a crew of androids on an expedition to the Andromeda galaxy to see what that's like. That doesn't take the galactic barrier into account, of course, but I figure Data can get around it somehow.

      B4 does not exist in this dojo.

    9. By the way, in case that wasn't clear enough (and it wasn't), any version of a Last Data Story like this is something I'm okay with hearing on a regular basis. So keep repeating it -- s'fine by me!

  31. "Hope and Fear" --

    I like this episode, but it feels undercooked to me, almost as if it ought to have been a two-parter (stretching into the next season) but wasn't. Maybe that's just the expectation of a season-ending cliffhanger talking, though. I actually like it when Trek doesn't feel the need to go out on a cliffhanger at the end of a season.

    Still, this feels like a bigger idea than what actually ended up on screen. I really like the core concept: Janeway's completely understandable actions against Species 8472 resulted in horror beyond belief for some other culture, and now they want payback. What's left of them, at least. The words "Prime Directive" are never mentioned in the episode (unless I misremember), but that concept is all over this episode.

    Totally agreed that "One" is by far the better Seven episode. Weird decision to air those in successive weeks. That notwithstanding, this is a pretty fine Seven episode, too. A bit of a retread, but hey, I'll take it.

    And, obviously, it's a great Janeway episode. Mulgrew is great throughout, but she's especially great in the scene where she discovers that Ray Wise really has been lying to her. She's disappointed to not be disappointed in her instincts, which is probably not the easiest thing in the world to convey to an audience. Mulgrew gets it done like a boss.

    1. I never felt that it needed to be more than what we got, however I have to admit the idea of it being a two-parter sounds intriguing, at least. Trouble is I'm not sure I see where or how an expansion could work in this case.

      I have found a review of this episode that does bring up some rejected ideas, one of which features a game of "intergalactic chicken". It also brings some interesting comparisons with the franchise defining "Best of Both Worlds".


      I think it's a mistake to compare the two. Even if other series were doing their damnedest to recapture lightning in a bottle...well, that's sort of the point. You can't catch lightning in a bottle. At best, all you can do, I think, is be thankful you had the chance at all.

      With that said, I'd call this one a solid enough entry. "One" still is the better episode, though.


    2. I'm glad it wasn't a two-parter.

    3. I think I am too. But it feels like maybe it was headed in that direction at some point and they pulled back before committing to it.