Star Trek Voyager Season 7
Nightingale(Star Trek - Voyager episode production code 256)
story by Robert Lederman & Dave Long
teleplay by Andre Bormanis
This entire story is so frustratingly bland, thanks to the major muddle that our characters' motivations sit in. At its core, two incompatible ideas are struggling to fit together, and never really mesh.
The story's chief purpose in its "A"-plot seems to be Voyager's umpteenth attempt to develop Harry Kim beyond the lowly ensign that he is. One scene commemorating all the good work he's put in so far culminating in a promotion to lieutenant would do the trick. An episode where he takes command of a dangerous mission is a bit of overkill, but isn't a bad idea if the mission works.
Trouble is, Harry's mission is a bloody great Prime Directive violation. It's not even one that we can say is just and righteous. We can tell from the outset that we don't have all the information we need to make a judgment call on this situation, which is great if the story wants to set up a mystery for Harry to solve. Trouble is, it doesn't work as set-up for a "Harry's command of excellence" plot. As an audience, we're too unsure of whether or not we WANT this mission to succeed. With this set-up, in order to stay on board with audience emotional investment, Harry needs to be the lead investigator of the tale, not the patsy chump taking the blame in a war that isn't his.
In the end, the reveal of the mystery still doesn't give us enough information to make any valid judgment as to which side in this conflict is in the right, if either side really is better than the other. The Prime Directive should rule in this case. The fact that Harry blunders his way past all chance of adhering to the directive or keeping his head about him makes me think that this story simply proves that he is NOT ready for promotion. It's a violation of the directive pure and simple. There's no way Starfleet is going to look on this escapade as a reason to promote Harry, even if the decision is solely at Janeway's discretion. Harry really did unnecessarily put his entire ship in an awkward diplomatic position, where Janeway otherwise had the situation looking positive and friendly.
And what is with all the excuses that the writers keep throwing at us, through Janeway and Harry's dialogue, about why he can't have a promotion? Do they realize it makes no sense whatsoever? Compare for a moment with the crew of Enterprise D & E. Do they really need 3 officers at a rank of full commander? Hell no! One would suffice. Do they have three? Sure do! Riker, Dr. Crusher, and Troi. They all outrank Ltn. Commander Data who is supposedly the third in line to command the ship. Troi was just showing off her three pips on Voyager a few episodes ago. If she can be a third commander on a ship that only has use for one, Harry can surely rise to a lieutenant on a ship that regularly puts him in command of other officers, lower-deck minions, and extras. And geez, give him an episode that proves that point. This one works way too hard just to wind up proving the opposite. A great embarrassment for the writing staff.
I think the B-plot with Icheb on B'Elanna's engineering crew turned out to be the more successful and entertaining part of this story, even if it still isn't the greatest move ever. But I think it paid off to separate Icheb from his backup singers earlier this season, as he can now branch out into more adult plotlines.
Flesh and Blood(Star Trek - Voyager episode production codes 253 & 254)
part 1 story by Raf Green & Bryan Fuller & Jack Monaco
part 2 story by Raf Green & Bryan Fuller
part 1 teleplay by Bryan Fuller
part 2 teleplay by Raf Green & Kenneth Biller
This is quite a successful story, and just the kind of story we should be having this far into Voyager's run on television. We are exploring interesting concepts, looking at a type of lifeform that hasn't been examined quite this way before, and revisiting characters, species, and developments that Voyager participated in earlier. All excellent.
The one big red flag raised here is whether or not any of this could plausibly be here at Voyager's present position on its journey home through the galaxy. We'd have to get creative about... let's say, perhaps the Hirogen repairing the communications array that they lay claim to back in Voyager's season four area of space, and transmitting holographic know-how over to some brethren in these parts, or something. But it's chiefly because stories like this one are what you WANT to do and should do in a series' seventh year why I thought Voyager should end its initial run-home arc after a few years and launch into a return mission to places they've been before. This is an adventure begging to be slotted into the return mission phase. That phase allows your on-going story to develop and grow larger than one ship. It allows you to revisit consequences. If any of that grates against the run-home arc, sacrifice the run-home arc. I hope I've made the point of my preference clear.
And this story has so many intriguing points to make. Janeway may have avoided a Prime Directive violation by refusing to share technology with the Kazon, but it appears that she did commit that same Prime Directive violation with the Hirogen at the tacked-on end of "The Killing Game". In many ways, her decisions are confounded here by once again making a deal with the Hirogen, and then realizing later that she is probably on the wrong side, as happened before in "Prey" and "Scorpion". If anything, I think "Flesh and Blood" is to be commended for also allowing Janeway, and each critical member of the adventure (The Doctor and Torres), to sort through all the issues and bring them to a decent resolution. Very nice.
Let's also take a moment to note how much better Janeway's interaction with the Doctor is in their final scene together here than Janeway and Seven's interaction over the events of "Prey". With the Doctor, both of them admit their errors and discuss the issues in civilized fashion, largely staying on the point. With Seven in "Prey", the interaction was childish and strayed way off onto completely different issues of lesser interest. Though there is still room for improvement in articulating certain points here, there is still a lot of stuff being implied rather than said, and the subtlety is much more adult, realistic, and pleasant to watch. Good one.
One obvious area of improvement might have been to develop stronger links between this story and "Body and Soul". As the crew wonder why "photonics" are so feared in "Body and Soul", let that question come up again in this story, where today's adversaries prove themselves to be the answer to that question. It wouldn't take much tweaking to dialogue, as things are almost slotting together as is, but they seem to be slotting together by accident the way things are. A minor quibble at best.
This is definitely one of the better stories in Voyager's seventh season so far. Good marks!
The one small smidgin of worthiness comes from a scene of B'Elanna and some Maquis in the brig, at a time we must assume falls between "Caretaker" and "Parallax", just after they'd been captured, but before they'd learned that the two crews were about to join into one. She sees Chakotay and Janeway walking in together, and gets suspicious about what they may have cooked up together. Some fans cried foul when we didn't get to see this conflict in season one, feeling that the series flipped past it too soon. This could have been a stronger centerpiece to an interesting story, but it won't happen here today. "Shattered" flips past it all too quickly as well, and buries its narrative in more mundane fare.
In the end, this story is just here to fill a slot in the production schedule, using only the standing sets of the ship, and to make sure Sussman and company get their paycheque this week. Hey, "it's sort of a clip show without doing a clip show!" Sussman is proud to point this out in his interview. Yes, I'm sure we're all thrilled it's got so much in common with TNG's "Shades of Grey". That was not a compliment.
Repentance(Star Trek - Voyager episode production code 259)
story by Mike Sussman & Robert Doherty
teleplay by Robert Doherty
This is a decent episode that handles its subject matter well, without that subject matter being of any particular interest to me personally. The treatment of criminals, transportation of prisoners, and the excuses for brutality on both sides are all a bit of tired fare on television I think, perhaps even more so now than when this first aired. And the actor playing the lead guard / ship warden seems to have had this type of role in many different shows.
I would just want to mention that I think the episode showcases how all of Starfleet's laws including the Prime Directive can work well at helping a crew to navigate through an otherwise complex situation. They get involved through their desire to assist people in need, and then set up a climate in which they respect the other culture and its laws while insisting that their own laws and rights are equally upheld. Questions of further intervention focus on the idea of offering asylum to specific individuals, as such questions should. And the story winds up being quite balanced in its portrayals of the nuances of characters, and triggers many worthy ideas about how things might be resolved in addition to the resolution that the story actually follows through on. Rarely do Starfleet's laws all work together so well and so strongly without seeming in need of an improvement.
Though this story isn't one of my favourites (it's just not my cup of tea), I must acknowledge that it was quite well put together. All the characters feel true to themselves, and the plot proceeds organically out of their issues and desires and needs. Perhaps I'm just a bit bored with Seven's issue here, as we've seen so many variations on it since she joined the crew, it feels a bit tired by now.
Prophecy(Star Trek - Voyager episode production code 260)
story by Larry Nemecek & J. Kelley Burke & Raf Green & Kenneth Biller
teleplay by Mike Sussman & Phyllis Strong
I'm sure Janeway and company would have loved to apply all necessary Prime Directive concerns during this show and avoid the whole situation, but circumstances are contrived (albeit organically) to make sure the crew gets involved with no way to turn back, first through self-preservation, then through simple, helpful goodwill. I loved seeing that old Klingon D7 cruiser! It was such a sad shame that it blew up so early in the episode, but it's hard to see how this story could have moved forward otherwise.
The actual religious debates are not the most interesting things ever on this show. In many ways, this reminds me a lot of TNG's "Rightful Heir" (from season six), except that this one is a little more reasonable in using a splinter Klingon faction rather than the entire Empire. Nonetheless, it's a good story for Torres, and also for Paris in how he embraces her heritage with her.
The story flows reasonably well and ends satisfactorily, but will only rake in an average rating I think.
The Void(Star Trek - Voyager episode production code 261)
story by Raf Green & Kenneth Biller
teleplay by Raf Green & James Kahn
In terms of action and plot, this episode may not stand out much with its space anomaly of the week and umpteen space battles and exploding consoles. In fact, the basic premise seems to be an exact repeat of the animated episode "The Time Trap", right down to the accelerated drain on everyone's warp core. Check that out for a version with Klingons, Orions, Gorn, pig-faced aliens from "Journey To Babel", and some plant creatures that had appeared in a previous animated episode.
But "The Void" works quite a bit better, in large part because of what the writers DO with the premise. Inside this anomaly, scarcity mentality has ruled its occupants for quite some time, resulting in a tense and hellish life for all occupants. And it's a very understandable and organic response for any creature.
Janeway takes a very brave stance to live by her principles even in this situation, even braver considering she has to lead a very naturally skeptical crew by this decision. What she primarily showcases is the Fourth Density principle of an abundance mentality. If Star Trek writers everywhere could truly wrap their heads around Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future, this would be one of the cornerstones.
A lot of the nuances of abundance mentality are explored and showcased in this episode, which helps to make it such a joy. It's more than just sharing and working in groups; it's more than just fair trade. It extends to promoting generosity and removing motivation for acts of theft and aggression. In this episode, abundance mentality is shown to provide exceptional payoff. In real life, the rewards of such a posture may not always look as dramatic, particularly if "abundance mentality" is only applied sporadically. The effect usually tends to require time to compound itself up to this level.
There are quite a few nice touches in this episode, including the potato aliens from "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy", plus the Vardwaur from "Dragon's Teeth", and some brand new aliens hiding in the shadows with a cool method of communication. It's a wonder Star Trek went on for so long without any other species being shown to communicate this way.
Though I'm sure this will appear to be only an average episode to many viewers, I'll probably rank it a bit higher due to the worthy thematic material that I can spot lying under its surface.
Q2(Star Trek - Voyager episode production code 265)
story by Kenneth Biller
teleplay by Robert Doherty
Apart from the TNG episodes "Tapestry" and "All Good Things", all Q stories seem to have their "off colour" moments, with acting that goes for the outrageous but doesn't quite seem to be pulled off with charisma or charm. But usually, there's enough good stuff in John de Lancie's performance as well, plus enough strong thematic material to explore, that Q stories overcome their shortcomings. Today's "Q2" has the usual shortcomings, and even a bit of charm, yet doesn't seem to be able to rise to any truly impressive material. Here, the barest basics of parenting are covered... and while this may be a revelation for Q, it's hardly Earth-shattering for the audience. This one tried to depend on charm and humour too much, and got let down.
"Help me, Aunt Kathy. You're my only hope."
We did get fair and interesting use of Icheb's character in this one, where he can be a bit of a straight man and role model for the young Q. Interestingly, his opening dissertation of history suggests that, according to his source material, breaking the prime directive actually is a good thing if it will save a civilization or three. It's hard to believe though that this would be found in a Starfleet text given to hopeful cadets. Perhaps it's from a popular independent history.
Friendship One(Star Trek - Voyager episode production code 267)
written by Michael Taylor & Bryan Fuller
Uggh, what an insipid mess! There seems to be an unquestioned, subliminal alliance here between the Prime Directive, which (had it been devised at the time) would have prevented this Earth probe from making contact with a backward society, and that society's subsequent dementia in thinking that all of their troubles should be blamed on Earth people that they've never met. It's bizarre how much the episode can talk about how Earth people are responsible, and never really talk about the aliens' self-responsibility for creating what they did to their own world. This lack of insight in the various debates really drags the episode down.
But the writers commit an even more unforgivable sin here. They go to all the trouble to finally show that Josh Clark's character of Ltn. Joe Carey did indeed survive past the first season.... only to treat him as the "red shirt" of this week's away mission and kill him off. (Of course, red shirts now wear yellow since TNG started, but the job description's still the same.) Can this show not keep any minor characters alive from beginning to end? And what is Janeway's final speech in Carey's quarters really trying to say? The sentiment seems to be the exact opposite of last year's tour-de-force for exploration "One Small Step". Should we really do a 180 to believe that we should fear possible far-future repercussions of our involvement so much that we refuse to get involved at all? That's taking far too much of the other society's responsibility away from them, and being ridiculous. And really, none of that is what killed Carey. Carey was killed by two writers, making me not all that keen to buy into their moral message.
Now there is a fair list of good points for this show as well. Visually and narratively, this is an interesting world to explore. The concept of slowly offering goodwill and assistance, resisting violence at every turn, is an excellent and noble one. It can be said that Voyager is already involved, working to clean up a previously established mess as was the case in so many late second season episodes of TOS, but at least even when in a position to clear out, they jump into involvement and clean up the planet's atmosphere at great risk to themselves. And it is sweet to see that the hard-headed alien of the week rapidly has his local support melt away in the face of Voyager's increasing list of good deeds. All these reasons, as they showed up individually, made me really want to like the episode.
But none of this required the idiotic loss of Carey, and the Prime Directive sentiment was misguided, leaving too big a blind spot in the debates. Though the hostage situation thankfully didn't last the entire episode, it was still a very poor way of generating drama in the first place. Many scenes in this story simply dragged. In the end, I think I have to rank this one in the lower echelons. It was just not half as well thought out as it should have been, and does not satisfy very well emotionally.
Natural Law(Star Trek - Voyager episode production code 268)
story by James Kahn & Kenneth Biller
teleplay by James Kahn
Not since the animated episode "BEM" have we had so many players involved in such a complicated Prime Directive tangle.
Of course, if Starfleet really wants to maintain a respectful distance from involvement, and they come upon an advanced civilization inviting them to scientific conferences and other shore leave activities, maybe they really should stick to their flight plan and not wander over restricted airspace, no matter how beautiful the view. Ltn. Paris has a wonderfully humorous B-plot here for a more minor infraction, yet the real culprits are Chakotay and Seven.
Perhaps one of the things that drags this episode down is the early misdirection that it will go down an oft traveled route in television, stranding these two somewhere together for the entire hour so that their romantic interest in each other can be kindled enough to break through the surface. Sorry, this isn't that story. It's good that they make it back to civilization half-way through. It's not so good that they bothered to go through the stranded dynamic at all, and still without any of the character development that the earlier episode "Human Error" hinted at.
We end up with a pile of stilted clichés like the overused shuttle crash, the wounded regular, etc., all to trigger deeper involvement with one of this planet's sensitive spots. It's all too accidental for me, making Voyager's crew seem like brainless victims. I'd prefer if it was their pro-activity that got them involved in an adventure, particularly when the adventure is going to have strong philosophical debates. Voyager's true proper Prime Directive stance got unbelievably messed up from the start with these tired old contrivances.
But that just doesn't come across as very enlightened this time. It's clearly against the wishes of the technological side of this society, and Janeway is trashing all hopes of remaining on good diplomatic terms with these people, substituting war. That's definitely the opposite of what good Prime Directive policy was intended to create. The technological people are depicted one-dimensionally here, as though the only outcome would be exploitation of the Vintu and the resources of their land. In a real situation, I don't think it could possibly be so clear cut.
The primitive Vintu people don't really get a say in this matter, as they are not consulted. Really, living inside a bubble is not a healthy path of growth for these people. They should be allowed to develop abilities and policies for interacting with outside cultures - a natural part of their own growth.
This brings into question the wisdom of separating them from the rest of the planet with a force-field in the first place. Voyager suspects this was done by Species 312, which is never proven in the episode. Regardless of who did it, they sure aren't anywhere around to be consulted on whether or not the barrier should continue. Perhaps they no longer care. Voyager may think they're doing them a good favour, but it's not something they asked for.
Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin for this episode is simply the fact that Voyager doesn't work to find a diplomatic solution to settle the differences between all four parties. They tick off the technological people, and come to no understanding with the Vintu or Species 312. Voyager's efforts in this episode simply make a diplomatic mess, possibly stagnating the natural growth of both the Vintu and Species 312 in the process. Not impressive.
At least there's some entertainment value in the Adventures of Captain Tom Proton Paris in his Delta Flyer, and in part through this angle, the technological aliens are shown to be more capable of reason and diplomacy than many other hard-headed species that Voyager encounters. The episode is not a total loss, but the wasted potential here for so many other angles is quite puzzling.
Homestead(Star Trek - Voyager episode production code 269)
written by Raf Green
In many ways it seems a shame that Neelix didn't get to go to Earth with the rest of his Voyager family. Then again, he does find something else here that has its own worth.
A cloud of melancholy seems to be passing over these last few Voyager episodes. But along with the sadness of saying goodbye to Neelix, this story has a heart-warming core that shines through. I'm left with very mixed emotions after this one.
I think it benefitted the story to have just a single writer on this story, which is rare for Voyager episodes at this stage and a first for writer Raf Green. The plot flows very organically out of the characters' motivations, and I especially like the honesty at work in ALL of the relationships we see today. It really helped this story rise high in my rankings and keep the philosophical discussions pithy and pertinent, which I appreciated. In fact, this is very reminiscent of what I wanted to see back in season three's "Fair Trade", where Neelix can confide in Janeway and crew, and seek their support.
Of course, there's a point where Neelix has to go it alone, as the Prime Directive would naturally hold the others back. This is handled quite fairly. And then there's a point where the others sweep in to give Neelix some extra unexpected help. We'd have to really split a few hairs with regard to who did what in the action to find out if our Starfleet characters committed any violations. It seems all they really did was destroy a missile to protect Neelix's ship. Chances are, they're in the clear.
But really, the story is so heart-warming by the time we get to this point, I can only believe that the crew is doing the right thing in this instance. Prime Directive be damned, if necessary.
We should note that the concern in this story is slightly less than all out deadly war. It IS a territorial dispute, and the Tallaxian leader played by Rob LaBelle simply needs to learn to claim his space. One small step in the right direction, with a bit of technology that is quite basic to most spacefaring species, is enough to get the adversaries to lay off. And Voyager did lay some great groundwork diplomatically before any Prime Directive concerns came up.
The visuals are quite good here as well. Many nice opticals of the asteroids are achieved, and Neelix's ship sees the best action it has ever had on the show. Great stuff. It might have been nicer knowing that Neelix was actually on a scenic planet, instead of being stuck in a rock (i.e. perpetual cave set) for the rest of his foreseeable future, which is in large part where the downside of my mixed emotion comes from. But on the other hand, his new relationship seems to make so much more sense than he and Kes ever did... in fact this is likely the best relationship he's ever had on the show.
All in all, I think this story is a good one. I shall have to salute Neelix's choices, as they turned out to be better under close examination than I had remembered them.
Endgame(Star Trek - Voyager episode production codes 271 & 272)
story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Kenneth Biller
teleplay by Kenneth Biller & Robert Doherty
There's a successful mix of sadness, excitement, and triumph here in Voyager's final story, allowing this somewhat hit-and-miss series to bow out on a satisfying high.
Even though it's not quite their best story ever, or even the best of the seventh season, I am prepared to cite "Endgame" as the best final episode of any Star Trek incarnation. It's going to pull ahead of Deep Space Nine's finale by keeping a stronger, more engaging focus on its nine regular characters, while the few minor recurring characters appearing today maintain a minor presence. And it pulls ahead of The Next Generation's finale by making much better sense with its temporal mechanics, delivering a solidly plotted real adventure full of events that are important to the characters, all while incorporating the same gimmick of showing where many of these characters could end up 26 years from now.
Although the Borg have an important role to play in this one, and the story is included on the special Borg DVD box set, they really don't have all that much screen time. The focus stays nicely on the series' central characters.
Alpha Integration Structure
Does that concept translate well to a double-length finale? Should the return home be the initial catalyst, allowing the rest of this finale to unfold? This brings up the dilemma of what other important event to use as the exciting final moment of the story. Over a full season of the show, something big enough might be developed. In one double-length adventure following what Voyager has built-up so far, it's virtually impossible to get that grand scale from anything else.
In many ways, time travel is used in this story in a way that seems to solve this problem really nicely - this story has its cake and eats it too. We dabble through the life integration events early on in the story, while saving the big moment of a fresh, newly-improved return-home event for the story's dramatic climax. This time around, the structure is quite successful.
These future segments make sense all on their own and form a self-contained part of the plot, featuring only in the first episode. Though intercut with segments of "our" present-day Voyager crew in episode one, episode two becomes totally and solidly anchored in that present-day situation, where our emotional investment in the crew and their predicament lies.... the very smart move that The Next Generation's finale failed to realize.
Actual time travel is limited to one simple move of Admiral Janeway from the future segments back to this present, and philosophically speaking, this is for a reason that I'm okay with. Many New Agers believe in future selves sending information and advice to past selves to "help them along" and encourage them, through meditation or channeling or prayer, or what have you. Here we get a version of that made a bit more solid and physical through time travel. Admiral Janeway isn't however, trying to use her own path as an example of what TO DO. She arrives with many regrets, and instead uses her own path as a warning of what DOESN'T turn out as ideally as one could hope for. Perhaps then, she isn't the most ideal source of future information and encouragement, but of course there is more drama and probably better drama by keeping the actual resolution something new and fresh that all characters will have to discover anew. Nicely, Admiral Janeway also arrives with resources and a plan for re-making a key decision differently.
We could examine why she chose to come back to this specific time and place. If her goal is to ensure the survival of a greater number of her crew, why not go back a few more episodes and save Ltn. Carey? The short answer is that Voyager has only now arrived at the Borg trans-warp hub needed to make this new plan work. However, perhaps it is a bit of a hole that Admiral Janeway doesn't go back to, say, their encounter with the Barzan Wormhole in season three's "False Profits", as any number of slight variations of events could have seen them get home along with or instead of the two troublesome Ferengi. But of course, then they wouldn't have met Seven, and Admiral Janeway kind of does want her and Chakotay to live happily ever after together.
Of course, we are here following our habit of enjoying the events that unfold on the screen without buying into all the details of how the characters explain the temporal phenomenon. There are two clearly different co-existing histories on screen today. Admiral Janeway jumps from having experienced one to helping out in the other. Neither history changes, or is ever in danger of being changed or winking out of existence, despite the odd mention of such in the dialogue, and thankfully, such dialogue never really becomes all that important to any of the characters' motivations or actions - everything still works beautifully without it.
The character who gets temporal theory most wrong is the Borg Queen. Through some miscalculation, she thinks that destroying the present Voyager very late in the show will mean that the older Janeway won't exist to come back and do such damage to the Borg Collective. But that present Voyager is no longer following the line of history that brought the older Janeway back, so.... whether you subscribe to the multiverse of co-existing timelines, or the single-line rewrite theory, neither one supports the Queen's assumption here. But it still works in terms of watching a character cling to a last, illogical vestige of hope.
The Two Faces of Janeway
"Scorpion" perhaps dramatized her decision-making process the best, by giving us so many good riveting debates between her and Chakotay, which resolved themselves so beautifully. Now "Endgame" attempts to do a bit of the same by allowing Janeway to debate the major decision of the finale with herself. Visually and conceptually this is a bit of a treat, and Janeway and her older double are knitted together in composite shots in very seamless and compelling ways. The decision itself is most akin to the one from the pilot story "Caretaker": whether to use a large, advanced piece of technology to get home, or destroy it for the "greater good". This decision gets the proper time to be examined here, which didn't happen in "Caretaker".
Unfortunately, the debates never truly gel or become all that riveting. Firstly, present-day Janeway's sudden proposal to destroy the hub seems to come out of nowhere and with questionably violent intent. It somehow seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to being told what to do by her older-self on a minimum of information. Later on, as younger-Janeway explains herself, we can see her point, IF we concede that Federation-Borg differences are indeed irreconcilable. Yes, it may indeed save the lives of future Borg victims, but it also means taking many Borg lives. Whether this indeed is the "greater good" is not all that clear-cut.
But the real problem is that nothing is really offered to help us see why they have to choose one or the other of these two actions, particularly on repeat viewing. If the writers really wanted the audience to pick a side or become invested in one argument or the other, we really need to believe in whatever obstacle is preventing them from doing both actions one after the other. With that obstacle left as vague as it is here, the debates just can't sustain as much of our interest as we believe they were meant to.
That said, the emotional content of most of the scenes remains enjoyable. Janeway plays nicely opposite herself, coming to a reasonable and believable understanding, and most of the various scenes she has with the rest of the crew are satisfyingly realistic. This is the kind of dynamic we should have got back in "Fury", and the kind that I felt was sorely missing from the end of "Prey". Nice to see it's finally arrived.
One of the best moments is actually Harry's toast "to the journey". The sentiment engendered by this speech so nicely defined Voyager as a series that the Canadian Space Channel actually began each episode in syndication with a brief, edited-down version of this, over a visual montage of defining moments for each crewmember. That of course has only added to my enjoyment of the full-length version of the toast here.
Of no small significance is the fact that Tom and B'Elanna's daughter is born in this episode, in addition to making an appearance in the future as an adult. In a sense, the birth is almost too big an event to be crammed into the finale with everything else (particularly in timing it simultaneously with the action climax of the show), and might have ideally happened in an earlier episode as a B-plot. Actress Roxann Dawson had a very dramatic scene in the previous episode suggesting that she was not actually still pregnant anymore, although special effects had risen to levels that could easily provide all kinds of fixes after the fact. But it's still another nicely important "event" to add to the tapestry here, and I admit that Tom and B'Elanna's story together is one of the elements of Voyager's later seasons that I find most compelling. That relationship and chemistry receives its due in this story, and primarily in the "present-day" time frame where I'd most want it.
Chakotay and Seven also get a lot of character-developing scenes together, which is nice, and takes them both to a new place worthy of exploration. The thing that really sticks out about this is that it seems to want to continue from a previously established beginning, with today being the "third date". Trouble is, the two most obvious previous episodes that could have begun this arc weren't serious enough about being real. "Human Error" hid on the holodeck and pushed a reset-button that looked like it was going to squash all further exploration of this angle. "Natural Law" had an opportunity to develop these two, but ignored all possibilities. "Endgame" doesn't really seem to properly acknowledge that it needs to re-trigger a "first date". Only after the "third date" does Seven conspire with the Doctor to remove the previous episode's reset-button, making one feel that the scenes aren't being presented in a logical sequence. For my money, I think the series would have developed more satisfyingly if Seven could have removed her last implants in "Human Error", had a new look for the show's last handful of episodes, and given herself and Chakotay more of a running arc for the development of their relationship. But of course, Voyager as a show has always had inexplicable trouble embracing and plotting character development arcs. At any rate, I'd place the blame and the fixes for this aspect in previous episodes, without changing "Endgame" all that much.
We should note that "Endgame" also features one of only two appearances of Voyager's journey on a map of the galaxy... the other being in the introduction of the astrometrics lab in "Year of Hell". This is most welcome, as would have been many more of these. Voyager is now right close to galactic center, near the border between the Delta Quadrant and I assume the Beta Quadrant. We know from the previous plotting of this journey that Alpha and Delta are in opposite corners of this map, and if it were the Gamma Quadrant we were close to, the far end of Deep Space Nine's wormhole probably would have become more preferable to aim for. Besides, a recent episode did have an alien society mentioning the border to the Beta Quadrant.
I do like the concluding action sequences for this story. There has been a lot of space action on Voyager over the years, but few sequences have had me on the edge of my seat, eager to see and enjoy the outcome, as the conclusion of this story. Perhaps they could have left out the scenes on the bridge when trying to fool the audience as to where the ship is, as this bit was merely confusing, but it's a minor quibble that vanishes when explanation arrives visually a few seconds later. As final-fixes go across the final adventures of each Star Trek series, Voyager has the best action moment to go out on, beating Sisko's confusing quasi-religious stunt and Picard's suicidal non-adventure by light-years. Way to go, Voyager! Way to go!
It is a strange side-note to this plot that it is the older Admiral Janeway who really gets to move around to all the different locations and time periods and interact with nearly all of the other characters. While I'm more inclined to be emotionally invested in the younger present-day Janeway and her crew who I've been following all along, none of them really leave the ship at any point during this big block-buster finale, which is a bit strange. No away missions. Hmmm. Still, in this regard, they still manage to fare much better than The Next Generation crew did in their finale. Perhaps we just should have squeezed in one more scene of the bridge crew setting foot in the same room with Barclay and Admiral Dad Paris. The final shot of Voyager approaching Earth in good company of other Federation ships is a beautiful cap-off to this adventure, but it felt like we needed just a little something more to properly say goodbye to this cast of characters.
I admit that, now that I've watched the entire run of Voyager in sequence for the first time for writing these reviews, I am going to miss these characters and this show quite a bit as I move on. Meanwhile, despite its imperfections, "Endgame" is a big winner, which I shall continue to enjoy and celebrate. Cheers!
Voyager Season Seven Rankings:
These Star Trek Voyager Season Seven stories are available on DVD.*
*Only part 2 of "Unimatrix Zero" is included in the season 7 set.
...Part 1 can be found in the season 6 set.
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Borg story rankings:
Article written by Martin Izsak. Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page: