On Star Trek Voyager
I liked Star Trek Voyager; it launched the fledgling UPN station and further established the franchise’s ability to rejuvenate its fan base, in the tradition of Star Trek – The Next Generation. Besides being popular, it had some of the best written episodes with thought-provoking subjects. Many of them were unusually perceptive on topics only briefly suggested by the other series.
In Faces (episode114), B’Elanna Torres is separated into two individuals, one Klingon, one Human, by a Vidiian Gen-a-tron; very well written, directed and acted, it dealt with a Star Trek theme common to all of the series: The struggle of the Half breed (half-this, half that) experience. In this episode, the inner battle is more fully explored externally as the Human B’Elanna faces her Klingon self and finally has the insight that she couldn’t be herself without the Klingon side. What if this had happened to Mr. Spock?
In another episode Tuvix (episode 140) also well conceived, two characters,Tuvok and Neelix, are merged into one person Tuvix by a transporter malfunction. Now imagine if this happened to Worf and LLwxana Troi (Deeana’s mother). Perhaps a worthy cover story for POPULAR MECHANICS?
Another theme explored is Spirituality. In Tatoo (episode 125), Chakotay finds the origin of his spiritual heritage, The Sky Spirits, in the Delta Quadrant, no less. In Sacred Ground (episode143), Janeway undergoes an introspective spiritual search to save a dying Kes and questions the basis of her scientific beliefs.
The most interesting episode was Distant Origin (episode 165), where the very nature of “Doctrine” and the basis of cultural and religious hierarchy is addressed using the Voth, a race of dinosaur’s originally from Earth who are in a state of denial about their own distant origin. The uniqueness of this episode is that it’s almost exclusively told from the Voth point of view, not Voyager’s.
Even the theme of Alienation, common to all the series, is personified by Voyager being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, away from Earth, Starfleet Command and the Prime Directive. No one deals well with alienation, yet Star Trek and Voyager used this theme in a multitude of ways. As in the other series, the best of Star Trek is always the characters and their struggle with personal demons, time travel and spacial anomalies.
The only problem I had was with the series writers. They never fully developed Kathryn Janeway as they did the other captains. It seemed like they didn’t quite know what to do with her. In the first season, her hair (that bun) was a constant reminder of how easily one could imagine the late Katherine Hepburn in a scene from The African Queen, now on the bridge of Voyager and in a Starfleet uniform, turning to her first in command and saying fiercely in her characteristically New England accent “Lets Engage them, dear, shall we?”
The writers failed to explore her romantic side enough and essentially turned her into the matronly mother figure that even Q so eloquently pointed out in two other sharply observant episodes, one on the nature of suicide by a Q in Death Wish (episode 130) and in The Q and the Grey (episode 153).
My favorite Line from Voyager is Klingon B’Elanna Torres to the Vidiian Scientist (Faces) “Did You know that Klingon females are renowned in the Alpha quadrant not only for their physical prowess,…. but for their…. voraciousssssss… sss-exxx-u-aal… appetitesss, as well.” This wasn’t just a great line, but also the way she said it that made it memorable.
Despite some problems, Star Trek Voyager was a successful move forward for the Star Trek legacy. Might I also point out I have gotten through all this without ever once mentioning Seven Of Nine, and her interestingly bodacious, incandescently grey, 100% “virgin” spandex, skin tight jumpsuit?