Will the final segment of Voyagers final season be as strong as the opening episodes? I’m actually quite hopeful, especially as I’ve calculated at best there’s only one Tacotray-centric episode left to sit through. Or at least, that’s my fondest hope! 
A band of non-orthodox Klingons (my god, remember them) who’ve been flying a classic D7 cruiser for four generations on a holy quest to find their messiah runs into the Voyager. After a brief exchange of fire, they discover the suddenly very pregnant Torres , who their commander decides is to be the mother of the aforementioned holy child. Not a virgin birth though, as Tom is quick to point out. So convinced is the Klingon Commander, that he blows his ship up and 200+ Klingons move aboard a suddenly very crowded Voyager. Cue an episode of two parts. One part hilarious culture clash between the Federation and Klingon crew – which culminates…and I can’t believe I’m saying this…in a hot sexual encounter between Neelix and one of the Klingon females. In Tuvok’s bed.
Gah. God. No. Need the brain bleach. It was bad enough thinking about him and Kes making the plasma-conduit with two outputs, without this mental image!
The other half of the story is Torres reconnecting with her long abandoned Klingon heritage (you know, aside from everything that happened in Barge of the Dead which she’s conveniently forgotten). However, the Klingon Commander explains early on, while he knows she’s (probably) not the de facto messiah, his crew need something to believe in again after over a century of fruitless searching. Hence, she’s mother of the messiah de jure, and that’s good enough for him. Not all the Klingons are convinced (I mean, Paris is a total wimp), so cue some hot bat’leth action, revealing all the Klingons have a funky space plague, which they’ve now generously given to Torres and child. As per usual, given this isn’t a Doctor episode, the EMH whips up a cure from the baby’s stem cells in next to no time. Then the Klingons bugger off to a new planet, deciding to forget all about this crazy space travel and holy quest thing.
For a Klingon spiritual episode, it’s not a pile of crap (shocker), and there’s some good performances, especially from the Klingons and Torres. I also couldn’t believe how glad I was to see the Klingons, after all the ‘forehead of the week’ Delta Quadrant aliens. But the whole Neelix subplot…lowers this one down to ‘worst of season so far’ status!
Most Typically Voyager Moment: The Tuvok and Neelix Odd Couple comedy subplot. Stop trying to make wacky things happen by pairing these two up, okay!?
Voyager gets sucked into a strange dark void, devoid (ho ho) of stars, planets or anything of much use. Here they must survive the predatory survivalistic instincts of all the other ships sucked in here, who prey upon one another to survive. A bit like DayZ, Ark, H1Z1, etc., then, although no one pointlessly tea-bags Harry Kim (for shame)! After a rough start (‘Hey dude, where’s my deuterium?!‘), Janeway applies Federation Philosophy 101 and builds her own little Federation of stranded ships, by employing the My Name is Earl methodology of ‘Do nice things, and nice things will happen to you‘. Through giving away little bits and pieces, and by ensuring member ships (did you see what I did there?) don’t violate the ‘Don’t be a dick to others‘ rule, the Voyager crew are able to cooperate their way the hell out of the void. This is a really, really nice little self-contained story, dealing with an unexpected space-hazard, the like of which I’d have loved to have seen more during the series. Additionally, given how this episode rather showcases the power of the Federation ethos, I think we can all agree, that this one is 100% authentically Star Trek!
There’s a subplot where the Doctor and 7 teach an alien to communicate through the power of music, which has the hilarious (I hope it’s intentional) homage to Close Encounters: as 7 plays her electric organ.
That last bit sounds a lot ruder than it is, okay.
Most Typically Voyager Moment: No tears are shed for all the ships left behind. Not even a warning buoy to say warn future ships they’ll be sucked into a living hell. Nice, Janeway, really classy move.
Workforce, Part I
Okay, let’s get the snark out of the way first. I’ve lived through the ‘Voyager’s been taken over and the crew are turfed out‘ trope more than once before (e.g. Basics), and also the ‘crew reprogrammed to live lives that aren’t their own‘ one too (e.g. The Killing Game). So, while we might not be on 100% original ground, Workforce Pt I actually represents rather an enjoyable tale. One which starts in media-res, as might be expected, with Janeway et al slaving away as workers on a not-too-terrible-but-slightly-authoritarian world of Quarra. Janeway’s not working so hard, thanks to being relieved of her officer duties, that she doesn’t have time to have a little romantic interlude with one of her non-Voyager co-workers. It’s a neat little storyline, which brings quite a freshness to her character this late in the game. Although, I spent most of the episode waiting for her paramour, Jaffen, to be revealed as a ‘bad guy’ (he’s not). Meanwhile, reprogrammed-Tom and reprogrammed-B’elanna seem destined to meet even when you wipe their minds and dump them separately on a planet.
Mid-way through the tale Harry Kim (and his funky intestinal parasites), along with Mr Neelix and Tacotray, return from yet another away mission in the Delta Flyer, to find a Voyager deserted. Deserted except for the triumphant return of the Emergency Command Hologram (huzzah!). The Doctor does look fab in a red uniform! All of this is a cue to finally start unpicking what happened, as we discover how the crew were captured thanks to a space-mine honey-trap. Hang on, why is it ALWAYS Harry Kim who’s Johnny on the Spot for the these takeovers? (cf. The Killing Game again)
Turns out there’s a sector-wide labour shortage, which is why the crew got press-ganged, into a workforce, albeit one which’s not exactly massively over exploited. Everyone appears to live in some quite nice apartments, and despite a nighttime curfew, are living pretty reasonable lives in return for their labour. Basically then, they’re slaves, but slaves with benefits. All of which means it’s time for some swift cosmetic surgery for Tacotray so he and Neelix can go undercover. Although as they do, Mr Tuvok starts rejecting his mental conditioning all on his own.
Naturally, the one question the episode fails to answer…what happened to Naomi Wildman? Is she enslaved in some juvenile capacity?
Most Typically Voyager Moment: Yet ANOTHER Delta Flyer away mission turns into a ‘save the ship’ agenda. I think this is the new regular ‘shuttle crash’ narrative trope.
Workforce, Part II
Thanks to the two-episode structure, Workforce has time to breath in terms of plot and characterisation. This means pretty much the entire central cast get some stuff to do, with the notable exception of Harry Kim, as always. Tacotray gets action hero stuff and Janeway romance, meanwhile it’s Tom and B’Elanna as the eternal lovers, with 7 and Tuvok heading up the resistance to mind-reprogramming storyline and freeing themselves/each other . Meanwhile, Neelix and the Doctor back aboard the Voyager get slightly less to do, but what they do get is enjoyable as they help to deprogramme a ‘rescued’ Torres . Although, the thought strikes me if, as the Doctor says, returning Torres’ memories is going to be traumatic: how will he cope with restoring the memories of the remaining 140 odd crew? Can he run in multiple versions of himself, perhaps? It’s never addressed, and annoyingly everyone else seems to get over being deprogrammed with a wave of the hand.
The heart of the story though, is somewhat surprisingly, Janeway’s romance with Jaffen, a chap who is pretty much on the level and genuinely cares for the crusty-ex-Starfleet officer. Given this is late season 7, and there’s not going to be any new crew members aboard though, you just know it’s going to end badly. For him, anyway. And it certainly does, as the captain recovers her memories she tells Jaffen there’s no place for him in Voyager’s crew. All this despite the glaring example of Mr Neelix for the past seven years, who’s aboard, not ‘in the ranks’ and a key team member. Janeway though, still visibly traumatised by Neelix’s sexual encounter with the Klingons, harshly dumps Jaffen, and with it pretty much her last chance for a relationship in this show.
Oh, there’s also a plot about a native Quarran doctor and others uncovering the mind wiping of all the workers (not just the Starfleet crew), but that’s easily the least interesting part of the story.
Most Typically Voyager Moment: There’s a labour shortage, but Voyager’s actions have removed all the thousands of mind-wiped labourers. Total societal collapse lies ahead I suspect for the Quarra, but hey, let’s just jump quickly to warp and to hell with the serious consequences, eh?
I thought the most nauseating thing I’d see this season was the post-coital Neelix. I was wrong. It was the moment 7 of 9 started sucking on Tacotray’s fingers. Don’t believe me, then feast your eyes!
I know, down the line, Voyager crams a 7/Tacotray romance down out throat, and this simulated romance is a way to hang a lampshade on what’s to come, but it doesn’t make the execution of it any the less nauseatingly fucking awful.
The main story is (yet another) one focusing on 7’s efforts to recover her humanity, and gain social graces. To this end, she’s running a holodeck programme and clearly hasn’t read up on what happened to Reg Barclay (TNG: Hollow Pursuits) when he was doing this sort of thing. Not like 7 to not do her homework, but then a lot of this episode takes everyone’s favourite ex-Borg crew member  through a lot of questionable character decisions. There’s some interesting moody pieces set to piano, as 7 explores her creative side, which televisually feel more akin to Battlestar Galactica than Voyager. Yet at the heart of 7’s adventures in advanced domesticity is the romance she explores with a holographic-Tacotray, which genuinely made my skin crawl to watch. Sub-zero chemistry would be a generous way to describe it.
I’m not even going to mention the sex-scene. I need to sleep tonight, okay.
The B-plot involves Voyager traversing a spatial test fire range, hampered somewhat by 7’s distractions on the holodeck, and the fact that the rest of the Starfleet crew are utterly clueless. Honestly, how DID they cope before Season 4? Kes was certainly no good at this sort of science thing! Do we find out who fired the subspace spatial torpedoes? Nope, which is a shame as it’d have been a better story than watching holo-Tacotray sleaze his way all over 7.
Most Typically Voyager Moment: After the explicit character growth, a literal reset switch is thrown at the end when 7 refuses to undergo surgery to remove a Borg implant responsible for suppressing her emotional development. Resolving to live as a humourless misery, she neatly avoids any character development which might affect later scripts.
Yay! Q’s back! And he’s brought his son, who’s in need of some lessons in humanity. A bit like his dad did way back in TNG:Deja Q. Essentially, Q’s brought his bratty teenage son to Auntie Kathy to learn some humility…or humanity…or Qosity (the tale varies in its aims) to avoid him being turfed out by the Continuum. Q…er, cue wacky hijinks leading to a genuine life altering realisation for Q-Jnr. That’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable episode (90% of Q episodes are), because it is, especially considering how Q-Jnr treats Neelix, 7 or Q-senior’s appearance in Janeway’s bath. However, it’s a lite, trite and frothy divergence on the way back home. Even if Q does shave a little off the distance as way of recompense to Janeway for her childminding activities.
Most Typically Voyager Moment: That grinding feeling we’ve seen all these Q hijinks before, and that the episode doesn’t really add anything to the cannon.
A story of two parts, as the Doctor’s brilliantly, terribly, gloriously self-referential holonovel ‘Photons be Free‘ turns out to be mainly a thinly veiled character assassination of the rest of Voyager’s crew. Unsurprisingly, after experiencing his ‘creative’ vision for themselves, the Starfleet crew take steps to demand he revises it, lest they all be tarred as being pretty awful human beings. Also Janeway’s hair reverts to a terrifying Season 1 inspired bun in the holonovel, and that alone’s reason enough to demand a change. But in the meanwhile, Reg and Starfleet have finally established a brief daily contact with the Voyager, which means the Doctor’s been talking to a publisher about his novel.
And it’s this communication link which brings us to the second part, wherein the Doctor’s unrevised novel’s been released. It’s been distributed by a publisher who’s realised that holograms have no rights of ownership (or anything else) so he can pretty much profit off the back of the Doctor’s unrecognised holo-labour. Man, for a moment this is close to my actual research interests! Thus once more we experience TNG: The Measure of a Man, as the Doctor makes a legal case for his rights to be recognised not only as an author and control his work, but also on behalf of all those EMH-Mk1s we heard are scrubbing plasma conduits (cf. Life Line). Despite Tuvok’s impeccable case, the Doctor doesn’t manage to have holograms declared sentient (despite fulfilling as much of the criteria as Data), but he does get recognised as an original artist. Which, is something, I guess,
Although, if that’s not enough, his original holonovel is soon being read by all those decommissioned EMH-Mk1s…and may yet ferment the beginning of a photonic revolution. Pity we won’t be around to see that, as that actually sounds like quite an interesting story, with many a publisher and lawyer no doubt shortly hanging from the (holo) lamp posts.
Most Typically Voyager Moment: Quite a funny one for once, as Harry Kim’s parents as him directly why he’s not been promoted yet. He (and the series) has no credible answers to this one still! #Lampshaded
Quality dips once more for the next episode, with a middle of the road story that could, probably, have been slotted in during any season. After getting back in touch, it doesn’t take Starfleet long to send Voyager off on a mission to find a missing old Earth Bracewell probe that’s probably near them. You know, space being so small, the chances of Voyager being on exactly the right course to collect it being…ooooh, around 1 in 2. And wouldn’t you know it, they are on the right course. Sadly, Friendship 1 has contaminated a planet’s culture in more ways than one: teaching them how to make antimatter weapons and then having their own little World War III into the bargain. Hence, the Starfleet crew have to ride to the rescue, by helping to alleviate all the poor mutants’ suffering and sorting out their ravaged environment. Not a terrible episode, not a great one, and I guess it makes sense that as Voyager nears home finding something sent out by the pre-warp civilization of Earth makes sense.
Most Typically Voyager Moment: Entire planetary nuclear winter cured with a few photo torpedos and 7’s omni-cure nanoprobes. There’s NOTHING nanoprobes can’t solve, meaning Voyager’s return to Earth will doubtless in short order cure all known diseases, world hunger and war.
Hear that sound? That’s a barrel being scraped to produce this utter shite-fest of an episode, which showcases (nearly) everything that’s awful about Voyager. Honestly, if you want to put anyone off watching ST:V, show them this and Once Upon A Time back to back. Hell, they’ll never watch any Trek again, it’s just such a singularity of pointlessness. This was an episode which I began to suspect was used so late in the show’s run because:
a) There’s a contractual obligation for us to suffer one more Tacotray centric script
b) Was unused in Season 1, and the showrunners were saving costs by using something from the ‘reject’ bin.
c) The showrunners wanted to build up and justify 7 & Tacotray’s ‘surprise romance’.
Whatever the reason, Voyager plot device 101 (shuttle crash on primitive world) sees 7 and Tacotray trapped on a mute-alien preserve. Meanwhile, Tom Paris has to undergo his driving test after being caught speeding. If this B story sounds instantly interesting, it is, and remains the sole redeeming feature of a fucking awful episode. Tacotray stories are generally crappy, but this is the worst we’ve endured since that boxing one way back when. Tediously paced, dreadfully acted (especially the aliens) and utterly skipable, this is one episode I will never, ever watch again.
Most Typically Voyager Moment: Janeway explains to the Ledosians the Federation’s policy on not supplying advanced tech, despite episodes earlier pointing out they’ve done it dozens of times in the Delta Quadrant.
Voyager’s travelled the sum total of 50,000ly from where she started thanks to a variety of methods: slingshots, Borg transwarp, benevolent space gods etc. Which means the planets of Ocampa and Talaxia are a long, long, long way behind. So, Neelix isn’t the only one to be gobsmacked to discover a colony of his people eeking out a life on the other side of the galaxy from where they started. It’s never really explained how they made it this far (and no one even questions if they’re, for example, Species 8472 in disguise). All that matters for the episode’s narrative is that they’re here, and in need of help from being oppressed by a local species. Naturally, Neelix falls into a leadership role with his kin, and saves the day. Along the way he meets a widow and her son, to whom he rapidly becomes a potential partner and father figure. and since Naomi ‘the Monster’ Wildman blately tells him she doesn’t need him anymore (cow), he takes his rejection hard and quits the Voyager crew to start a new life as a semi-official ‘Starfleet Ambassador to the Delta Quadrant’ .
Oh, I’ve just seen in the episode notes this is officially the last appearance of Naomi Wildman in the show. Thank fuck for that.
Most Typically Voyager Moment: No one bothers to explore how the photon the Talaxians got this far across space. They’re just there to give a narrative reason to dump the annoying gerbil man off the ship.
This is it – the last Voyager episode I’ve never seen before! I was surprised to discover, I’d seen far more of S5-7 than I originally thought. And it seems I’ve been saved a little cracker of a show, as the surprise Delta Flyer chums of Janeway and the Doctor’s mission goes a little wrong. She is captured, and the Doctor has to impersonate her, and then increasingly, other members of the Voyager crew in an ill-considered effort to rescue her. from some (slightly comedy) aliens. The problem being, the potato shaped aliens have tapped into his perceptual subroutines and can see everything he does, says or hears. This makes for a really quite fun show, and for a Doctor episode for once it’s more comedy-drama than pure comedy. It certainly gives Bob Picardo, and the rest of the impersonated cast, a bit more lighthearted material to deal with: non-more magical than the moment when ‘B’Elanna’ awkwardly kisses Tom Paris.
Just as well it wasn’t ‘Tacotray’ kissing 7 on a date.
Janeway too gets some neat little character moments, throughout on her own and with the Doctor. There’s a really good chemistry between the two actors, and find myself wishing we’d seen more of these two as a duo. All in all, this is a nice exploration of just how dangerous a foe the Doctor could be when he’s got all his marbles and is placed between a rock and a hard place: who would have known he knew parkour! The icing on the cake are his ‘death-bed’ confessions at the end, as thinking he’s about to decompile, he spills a lot of secrets. Some of which will haunt him more than others!
Most Typically Voyager Moment: The Doctor confesses he loves 7 of 9 and always has…and no one bothers mentioning it again.
26 years in the future, the crew of the late starship Voyager celebrate the 10th anniversary of their return from the Delta Quadrant. There’s a lot to love about this future: they’re home, the Doctor’s got a wife and a name, Harry’s a Captain and most importantly, Tacotray is dead. Unfortunately, the now Admiral Janeway’s not happy about all this and sets about breaking every rule in the book to go back in time to undo a choice she made that lengthened the voyage home to 23 long years. All of which means the two Janeways need to team up against the old foe…the Borg! Hence, we get double contrasting Janeway action, and more excitingly, the return of the real Borg Queen.
As a Trek time-travel, Borgarific tale, there’s a lot to love about Endgame. Sadly there’s a lot to despair of too, especially the recently lampshaded romance between 7 and Tacotray, which takes up far too much of the double-length episode’s run time. This is a romance which feels neither naturally developed, nor essential to the narrative. Okay, it turns out 7 dies on the way home, and that ‘poor old’ Tacotray just declined in her absence. This we’re told is the fire that drives tea-drinking older Janeway to consign three decades of history to the bin. Why oh why must everything be about 7 of 9 (or ‘Poochie’ as I’ve started to refer to her when discussing the show) all the time? Why can’t some of the original cast get this sort of love? I guess being married to the showrunner helps a lot.
But let’s focus on the good moments: Harry finally gets his moment in the sun and gives the episode’s heroic monologue, cranky old Janeway and younger Kathy’s interactions are a delight, and we even get to see B’Elanna and Tom’s child. Or rather we see their sprog in the future in Starfleet as an adult, and only ever hear her being born in the present. We also get one more cameo from Reg Barclay, surpassing his number of appearances in TNG, with his Voyager roles. Which is nice, as he’s a great character – kind of wish he’d been a series regular, in the way Miles moved to DS9 and really developed.
Does everyone get a character arc send off ala DS9:What You Leave Behind though? No, but then the Voyager Family (a phrase and concept rammed down our throats implicitly and explicitly throughout the show, and especially in these episodes) aren’t really about to all fly apart. They’re moving on, to parts unknown , probably keeping in close touch. Why even Neelix manages one last cameo over the space time visualiser in Astrometrics, but thankfully of Naomi Wildman, there’s no fucking sign. Maybe the Borg assimilated her for good measure?
Still, the voyage is done, the crew are home and the massive court martial of Janeway for her flagrant breaches of Starfleet protocol can begin. Doubtless though as the hero of the hour, they’ll quietly promote her upstairs to a desk job where the chances of her ever altering the time-line will be zero!
Most Typically Voyager Moment: The reason Admiral Janeway came back in time, was to save 7. It’s been the 7 of 9 show since S4 hasn’t it, sadly.
My stars. I made it. I never thought I would, and certainly in the middle season I lost serious interest in the show. Would I have forced my way past some of the dreadful clunkers it I was watching it at the time? Probably not, as I originally dropped the show early on. But then, I would have missed out on some solid and in some cases excellent Trek adventures. I’m glad I’ve watched them all (and by extension, all Trek to date ever), but there’s still a few things I want to get off my chest. Join me next time for my wrap review: The Voyager Experience.
 Okay, my fondest hope is actually Naomi Wildman falling into the warp core, but I suspect that’s not going to happen. Damn.
 She’s gone from ~2 months and not showing, to around 5 months and visibly pregnant in one episode. Wonder if that’s down to all that genetic resequencing…
 So…a bit like Night then, only with less freaky aliens
 Reg also had the good graces not to actually sleep with the holographic ‘Goddess of Empathy’
 I’m sorry for anyone who just vomited there.
 When the competition is Icheb of Crane, there’s no competition
 The jury’s out on TNG: Hide & Q and TNG: True Q.
 Star Trek’s in a post-scarcity, post-capitalist society where money doesn’t exist. How can a publisher exist and profit? This issue is not addressed in this episode!
 At least I assume they are – they mentioned they were 30kly away, and then Q helped them, so let’s assume ~25kly to go!
 Honestly, Enterprise Season 2 would have rejected this episode’s plot for being too shitty, and you know what an awful season that is!
 It’s a grand title, and Starfleet might not agree with it. Also, the Delta Quadrant’s huge, yet Neelix will be living on a tiny nowhere rock, doing not much. Great ambassadorial duties, eh!
 23 years as an Ensign, and then 10 years to Captain? That’s pretty impressive!
 Aside from Janeway, who turns up in ST:Nemesis one last time.