Now that Netflix has all of Trek I’m happily (re)introducing Mrs Llama to the wonders of TOS. But that means I need something to watch on my own, when I’m working in the kitchen. Aha, Star Trek Voyager, the series I love to hate and the only Trek series I’ve never seen all of. Yes, I’ve even watched all of Enterprise (I liked S3-4). So here goes an irregular series as I watch through all 7 seasons.
God help me, even Threshold, Tattoo and Fair Haven.
This starts well, and then they leave DS9. Oh the painful dialogue – especially that between Tom Paris and the Betazoid officer on the shuttle over. Good to see Janeway’s hair have a ‘coolant leak’ from the get go, and go everywhere…as it does for the next 7 seasons. I’d forgotten about the folksie people on the Caretaker’s array, reminiscent of the awful Space Oirish in TNG’s Up the Long Ladder, but thankfully they shuffle off screen quickly. As terrible as I remembered it? A bit, although I confess at this point (given how mind numbing AWFUL Encounter at Farpoint* is) I was willing at the time to give the show some slack. In retrospect, there’s a lot that’s going to be wrong with the whole series in a microcosm here. For example there so much clunky or downright cheesy beyond belief dialogue and the pacing is all over the shop. After part one licks along at a fine action pace, introducing characters and their quirks, suddenly the last half an hour of part two seems to be a sprint to set up the show’s status quo. Marqui as crew? Check! Mr Neelix and Kes on for the ride? Check? Janeway as the mother of a family of misfits? Check!
Particle beam of the week: Coherent Tetryon.
2nd episodes of post-TNG shows tend to be weak, and this one is no different. Essentially the Voyager spends the episode looking in a mirror. Before using the charged particle beam of the week to escape (Dekyon). Forgettable.
Time and Again
A spot of post/pre-apocalyptic timeline accidental manipulation (or is it one of those darned predestination paradox loops, I hate those!) with the Voyager coming across a planet wiped out by a ‘in no way nuclear energy but yeah there’s the parallels’ incident. Before we know it later-day lizard-baby power couple Tom and Kathy fall back a whole DAY in time and essentially find out it’s all their fault. Cause before effect. Against the odds, I quite enjoyed this one despite the first appearance of that Voyager trope ‘the end of episode reset button’. First mention of the Delaney sisters. Also first hint of Kes’ spooky Oompa Loompa psi-powers.
Particle beam of the week: Polaric.
Or as they should have called it They Stole Neelix’s Lungs! Despite introducing the curious virus-ridden, organ harvesting, latex jigsaw-mask wearing Vidiians, this episode is a glacial paced, weakly dialogued, Neelix/Kes centric snore fest. The only redeeming feature is that Bob Piccardo (Doctor) gets more screen time. Given I can’t stand Neelix, I was shouting “Turn off life support, he’ll thank you for it!” within 10 minutes of the episode starting. My the end of the episode, I was begging my nurse to do the same for me. Fun fact: Oompa Loompas only live 9 years. Despite his transplant from Krs, Mr Neelix is going to need some new lungs in less than a decade then, cos I don’t think the aging of those organs is going to slow down!
Particle beam of the weak (sic): Super weedy phaser beam.
Ah, the first episode I’ve never seen before (tells you how fast I dropped this show originally). As days stretch to weeks, shipboard morale starts to drop and the captain frets about what to do. Hence, it’s unsurprising Janeway’s coffee addiction rears its ugly head for the first time in the pre-credits sequence. Honestly, I thought she was about to murder Neelix when there wasn’t any available (sigh). However, Neelix slightly redeems himself by critiquing Janeway (and the crew’s) determination to investigate every potentially destructive anomaly along the way, in a scene that presents Kes and himself as Voyager’s peanut gallery. Not sure this idea lasts though, although his role as self-appointed Morale Officer does (sigh*2). While Janeway worries about power drains, meanwhile taking a note from the Will Riker playbook Tom Paris sets up an (energy leaching) PG French brothel. Tacotray also shares with the Captain his (miraculously unlost during Caretaker) bundle of junk, as the ship manages to almost kill a giant space monster. An orb experience it is not.
Particle beam of the week: Sleezium poolcueium. Oh okay, it’s nucleonic.
Eye of the Needle
Coincidentally, this was the very first Voyager episode I ever saw (followed by The 37s). Verteron radiation leads the Voyager to a wormhole too small even for Harry Kim’s ego to slip through. But just maybe they can send a call to help. Overall it’s not a bad story idea, but the episode pacing once again is glacial. Also Tuvok’s role all episode is simply to be the bearer of bad news in the transporter room ‘Sorry guys, he’s from the past’ followed later by ‘Oh like wow dudes, he died years before he could send our email’. Shame he didn’t mention that earlier so they could set up a back up to send the messages anyway. Finally, the Doctor’s B story culminates with him asking for a name…something that never pays off! Sheesh.
Particle beam of the week: Transporter matter stream (disappointingly).
Ex Post Facto
Hello Dr Apgar and the Kregier Waves. Oh sorry, this isn’t the rather fine TNG episode A Matter of Perspective, but a Voyager episode, so no chance of Riker punching anyone stylishly then. Like that story, most of this is told from a post-hoc recounting. Tom Paris is also at this point still being written like Riker Jnr, making me think this script is a TNG reject rejigged (the sleazy film-noir dialogue from Paris is especially Riker). Anyway, the feathered aliens’ risibly hilarious head-gear aside, my favourite moment of the episode is when Not-Dr-Apgar introduces Tom and Harry to his much younger Not-Mrs Apgar with ‘They come from the other side of the galaxy’ to which she responds with a dispassionate ‘Hello’. Followed by serving them all leftovers, the frosty mare, because that’s how we great impossible adventurers from beyond the stars. Leftovers. Honestly, you can just feel the (lack of) drama oozing from every pore of this one. Oh wait, this is an Inspector Tuvok episode…I do hope there aren’t too many more of these!
Particle beam of the week: None! (I feel bereft!).
There’s nothing like hosting an episode in your first season that deals with the cheerful subject of death, the afterlife and the rotting of corpses into a new super element. More importantly, this episode marks the first (but not the last) time Harry Kim dies. The somewhat odd alien culture and the death rituals are interesting (although how did they historically dealt with death before they could pop bodies through subspace vacuoles, is not explored), although they come across as slightly mad bastards “My Family all voted that I should die, as it would be more convenient for them” explains wobble-fore-headed character of the week to Harry as he wraps himself in what appears to be a kitchen roll funeral shroud. Stay classy Vhnori! Meanwhile the Voyager does precisely NOTHING to get Harry back, other than hang around long enough for his corpsicle to plop back onto Deck 9. Oh sure there’s some hand-waving around the Torres stopping the Warp Core from going all explodey, but that doesn’t bring Harry back. Still, we should be grateful we were saved Neelix’s views on the afterlife (spoiler alert: there’s a later episode all about this) and Mr Tacotray’s medicine bundle and spirit animal doesn’t get a look it. And then with a hearty slap on the back from Janeway, Harry heads off to look for his next death!
Particle beam of the week: There wasn’t one again. *sob*
Aka that one where they could have gotten home, but turns out the prime directive’s a bitch in reverse. Janeway gets a scarf, Harry goes on a space date (and doesn’t die) and Seska gets a bit rules-breaky (hint hint for next week). Not a bad story, but the episodic nature of Voyager plays against it here. Let’s have one go to use the amazing tech to get home…fails and then let us never speak of it again. In a half decent series Torres would be sweating over the Trajector tech for the next two years in an effort to overcome the problem. But nope, no work, give up – that’s the Starfleet way!
Particle beam of the week: Neutrino envelope.
State of Flux
Watching this and knowing about the Seska revelation in advance, I couldn’t help thinking this would have made a great S1 finalé, much better than the soft touch Learning Curve that’s for sure. Build Seska up all season as a great secondary character and then BOOM she’s been a Spoon-head all along! Or failing that, given she’s the second of Tacotray’s crew who was a government agent, I’d have had one of the Marqui revealed as working for another Alpha Quadrant power each week. Keep it up until you realise only Old Tattoo himself was the only legit Marqui on the ship after all. Play it for laughs, because honestly this show needs to laughs. After all, it’s been weeks since anyone harvested any of Neelix’s extraneous body parts! Oh wait, the fact that a side effect of a badly adjusted food-replicator is that it’ll merge your body with the nearest wall gave me a chuckle. Perhaps replicators should all come with a big sign <CAUTION: Ordering Earl Grey Hot MAAAAY Melt Your Body Into the Wall> The Kazon are in this again, and once again come off like a Klingon tribute act on a bad hair day.
Particle beam of the week: Nucleonic radiation.
Heroes and Demons
Oh lord, I remember this one – more LARP event than Shakespeare in the Park. I remember this one being shite, despite the Doctor playing such a prominent part. A bit of a curate’s egg too as it introduces the holonovel, which sure gives us all those fabulous Captain Proton episodes. But also gives us Concerning Flight and Fair Haven. Sweet maker, am I really going to have to watch those Sub Rosesque episodes again? The opening five minutes couldn’t have been a more bare bones introduction to the threat of the week: “Let’s beam aboard some space energy“, “Harry Kim’s gone missing”, and “Damn you space energy and holodecks – you’re even more dangerous than food-replicators. Probably“. Additionally, I know the hologrid runs on some kind of odd energy feed independant to the rest of the ship (raising questions as to how did the space energy get into an isolated system anyway) but surely with 147 people using it day and night for recreation that’s got to have some kind of drain on the (severely depleted) main power systems? Or is it just running on a set of super-big AA batteries…which once they’re gone…they’re gone. No one tell the Doctor, the med-bay imagers might be running on the same system! In the end thought, this episode with its cod-thespian acting was as terrible as I remembered it. Took me three sittings to get all the way through!
Particle beam of the week: Photonic (so…a light beam?)
Oh gawd, another holonovel opening. This does not bode well…until Cmdr Tacotray turns up totally brain dead. Huzzah! Now I’d have argued he’s been that way since The Caretaker, but everyone on the Voyager crew seems to get a bit upset. Cue an episode with such ‘highlights’ as an Native American prayer wheel (with magnetic stones), possessions left, right and centre and Harry Kim stroking off in a meeting because the episode’s boring the hell out of him too. The acting’s better than Heroes and Demons, but the plot isn’t. Another one to grit my teeth and endure. Are we at Year of Hell (pt1) yet? What is noticeable is that a secondary crewman (other than Torres’ sparing partner in engineering) is introduced alongside the main cast. Yes I suspect Lt Durst will have a long and happy supporting role in this series…or die a quick and crunchy death just to prove we ‘do’ still kill ‘redshirts’ (aka goldshirts now). Sadly Cmdr Ghost saves the day from a possessed Tuvok, and is then the sodding medicine wheel helps Voyager safely escape the eeeeevil nebula. Blurgh.
Particle beam of the week: Magneton burst.
Paris, Torres and good old Lt Durst are off on a mission, when Torres gets split into klingon and human halves. No, not with a chainsaw, but by some kind of funky Vidiian technology. You know, like Capt Kirk got split up by a transporter in The Enemy Within. And yes, just like that both halves need each other to survive. Actually, hats off to Roxann Dawson who makes an excellent fist of playing the two halves of her personality – especially the klingon version. It’s just a shame after (spoiler) the klingon half is killed, the Doctor quickly patches her up and restores her hybrid status quicker than you can say “Reset switch”. Oh and hats off also for lt Durst who (spoiler) gets his face ripped off so doesn’t need to wear them any more. Seeing his cheerful mug added to a Vidiian is a far creepier body-horror event than old Neelix’s lungs. He also wins the first ‘Delta Quadrant Horrific Death’ award! Well done. Damn though, I guess after Seska and Durst, we better introduce some more secondary crew we can kill off now to make the cast seem vulnerable. Well aside from Harry Kim who must be due to die again soon. Paging Ens Wildeman in the meantime…
Particle beam of the week: Er…nothing, other than those freaky Vidiian scalpel guns.
Oh goodie, a Neelix centric episode. Only way the premise for this one could annoy me more, would be if it involved Neelix and Tacotray trapped in a turbo lift for the whole episode, talking about their feelings. Anyway the plot, a space Nazi (who in-no-way is representative of the US dropping the atomic bomb on the Talaxians…I mean Japanese) called Jetrel comes along and tries to undo all that explodey evil. “I’m a scientist!”, Oppenheimer…sorry, Jetrel wails, “I never thought anyone would drop the bomb…metreon cascade!”. Nah, no allegories here, just straight up Haakonian on Talaxian recriminations. And then, despite all my skepticism and downright loathing on Neelix, Ethan Phillips delivers a performance so dripping in authenticity and pathos that I felt my eyes growing moist (honestly, that speech to Jetrel about the aftermath – just woah!). Wow, did not expect that from a Voyager episode. Even more so, they side-stepped the happy ending – everyone vapourised on Rinax by the cascade stays vapourised, including Neelix’s family. I guess that means after this wonderful burst of character growth that next episode Mr Neelix is going to be a changed Talaxian, and changed for the better too.
Particle beam of the week: Metreonic radiation.
Goddammit it Voyager, Neelix is back to his ol’ chipper self from many a merry “Top of the morning to you Mr Vulcan” again, pissing away all the good feelings I’d developed for him and the show in a matter of seconds. Actually this isn’t a bad episode, as a load of Marqui (doubtless soon to be horribly killed or never seen again) extras learn the joy of cooperation from Tuvok. Who also learns a lesson from his students too. Blurgh, pass the sick bucket matron, this one’s way to saccharine for me. Okay, I’ll accept the line about “Take this cheese to sickbay” does save it from being total drek. Just. Oddly this is the S1 finalé. Was Voyager cut short by a writers strike or did they just run out of coffee? Either way it’s an oddly inconsequential note to bow out on, hardly sets the pulse racing for more action in S2.
Particle beam of the week: High-energy plasma (bit dull!)
That’s season one done with, and what did I learn? Well, I learned that Mr Neelix can in the write writer’s hands be a great character, and given his actor that shouldn’t be a shock. Sadly, I fear there’s more of the hateful perky-morale officer twonk Neelix ahead than there is deeply troubled and rather interesting conscientious objector Neelix to come. And I’ve not even gotten to Tattoo yet (yes, sorry Learning Curve fans, I think Tattoo is the episode I’m looking forward to the least!)
*”Farpoint station, even the name sounds mysterious.” Troi. No. No it bloody doesn’t.