15 examples of why Voyager was worth watching

“Is Captain Janeway gonna have to choke a bitch?”

I know I’m probably going to get made fun of, but I don’t care. I liked Star Trek: Voyager completely sans irony. It’s nowhere near my favorite of all the Star Treks — that honour is reserved for TNG — and had its faults, but Voyager definitely also had some shining moments.

I know you’ve never seen this on the net before, it’s totally an original idea that I came up with a few years ago after one particularly creative day of doing nothing interesting: I present my top 15 Voyager episodes. [A Top 15 list?! That’s 5 more than 10! I’ve changed the face of the internet!]

15. Meld
Season 2
Original airdate: 05/02/1996
Stardate: Unknown

This episode marks the major introduction of the unprecedented badass character Ensign Suder.

This character is a psychopath who killed a fellow crew member because “I didn’t like the way he looked at me” and killed me at the end of Myst 3 when I was trying out alternate endings. Awesome. Suder later becomes important in the episode Basics, Part 2 (Season 3) and his soul inhabits a doll named Chucky. On a completely unrelated note, Imdb has interesting facts. [shifty eyes]

Tuvok, the Vulcan security officer, tries to rehabilitate him with the only solution to any problem that Tuvok ever comes up with: a mind meld. After the meld, Suder gains some control over his psychotic tendencies and Tuvok goes batshit and strangles a certain annoying character in one of the most gratifying scenes in Voyager history. Props to them for taking this on.

14. Tuvix
Season: 2
Original airdate: 06/05/1996
Stardate: 49655.2

This episode is on the list because it deals with the rights of an individual who was accidentally made out of two other individuals and, um, a plant. After getting to know this Tuvix guy, a combination of Neelix and Tuvok (of course, because picking the two characters that hate each other the mostest to unify into one being is considered brilliant irony in the Star Trek universe), the crew finds a way to separate him into his constituent crew members thus hitting the reset button so we can all move on.

The reason why I think this is worth of attention is that this guy is a conscious, living, breathing, articulate, sentient individual. He’s a new unique life form that doesn’t want to die and Captain Janeway is pretty much like “Nah, I liked the other two guys better so sucks to be you, buddy.” And she’s probably right. Two individuals would have to “die” for him to live. Not that I was really expecting them to leave two characters that way for the remainder of the show, but usually Starfleet wusses out on things like this and might have argued to let him live because of his “rights” as an individual, despite obvious caveats. The scene where they change him back is cold and unsympathetic and great.

13. Hunters
Season: 4
Original airdate: 11/02/1998
Stardate: 51501.4

This episode marks the first major introduction of one of the (initially) coolest species on Star Trek: the Hirogen. They were badass and huge before they mysteriously shrunk a few episodes later. This is what they first looked like:

Even Tuvok is shitting his little Vulcan underpants next to this guy.

The Hirogen were 8-foot tall, um, hunters — much like like the alien from the movie Predator. They kept trophies from their kills on their hull and wore those nifty metal outfits. One might wonder why Tuvok and Seven were conveniently spared a brutal slaying, but one might also forget about their special powers. Though the writers certainly could have taken the darkness of this species further, I’m glad they were introduced.

12. Scientific Method
Season: 4
Original airdate: 29/10/1997
Stardate: 51244.3

This episode represents pretty much what everyone thinks I did all day at the lab to the poor, innocent rats. It was very amusing to see an episode where the crew was being experimented on without their knowledge if only for the scene where Tom and B’Elanna can’t contain themselves and get it on in a Jeffries tube. Seeing Captain Janeway even bitchier than usual had the added hilarity of this scene:

Worst. Headache. Ever.

11. The Voyager Conspiracy
Season: 6
Original airdate: 24/11/1999
Stardate: Unknown

Some guy shows up with a catapult dealie and Seven starts, coincidentally, downloading the ships logs etc into herself while regenerating. The scene I remember most is when Seven starts bitch-screaming out little adorable Naomi Wildman (because Naomi Wildman never just Naomi on this show, she’s Naomi frakking Wildman) and Naomi Wildman is understandably weirded out.

Quite frankly, an episode without Seven of Nine flipping out is like an episode without Tuvok being condescending or Neelix annoying someone, but this is a special kind of flipping out. It’s thoughtful and elaborate flipping out and illustrates nicely how common facts, without substance or appropriate context, can become manipulated and twisted to suit conspiratory thinking and can quickly get out-of-hand.

10. Dreadnought
Season: 2
Original airdate: 12/02/1996
Stardate: 49447

Something someone did in the past comes back to really bite them in the ass. This had never been done on Star Trek before! …haha, right.

It seems the Caretaker wasn’t all that discriminatory about what he was transporting to the Delta Quadrant and brought over a Cardassian super-weapon that by an amazing coincidence was reprogrammed by B’Elanna who also amazingly happened to be taken to the Delta Quadrant and who amazingly ended up on a ship that amazingly ran into this weapon thing on their way home. Isn’t that amazing? What a small galaxy.

There’s a cool scene where she’s on the ship/weapon thing trying to reprogram it again before it destroys some planet and the original programming and her programming are both speaking at the same time, each fighting to overpower the other. It’s all very “Stop, Dave, I’m afraid”, but still original and a nice reminder that part of the Voyager crew used to be frakking terrorists.

9. Year of Hell, parts 1 & 2
Season: 4
Original airdate: 05/11/1997 and 12/11/1997 respectively
Stardate: 51268.4 and 51425.4 respectively
Invented word: temporal shielding

Is it cheating to have a two-parter on here? Well, I don’t care. This was one of the best plots in all of Star Trek. The gist is that a Krenim named Annorax is captain of a ship that can change the timeline of the universe (without being affected itself) by erasing entire species, planets, or other celestial bodies from existence. They messed something up way back when and have been trying for hundreds of years to restore everything. Unfortunately, Voyager shows up with fancy temporal shielding to defend themselves from the Krenim’s temporal weapons and completely ruins Annorax’s latest calculations that would have fixed almost everything.

The best moments in this episode involve this:

Beating the holy hell of of Voyager.

Even though you know that everything is going to back to normal at the end somehow, it’s just nice to see them face some real adversity for a change — and for a whole year. The Borg can’t even seem to aim a phaser at them, so this was refreshing.

PS…I’m sure Tom said at some point during this episode “Friendly folk, aren’t they?” after a talk with an alien species on the viewscreen who were not in fact very friendly.

8. Bliss
Season: 5
Original airdate: 10/02/1999
Stardate: 52542.3

Voyager explores it’s darkly comedic side as the crew turns from eerily cheerful goody-goodies to eerily cheerful psychopaths. A space-faring life form lures in it’s prey by making them see what they most want to see. So in this case, it makes its big fat mouth look like a wormhole to the Alpha Quadrant and everyone on the ship who really wants to be back on Earth falls for it. Except for the Doctor, Seven, and Naomi………Wildman. Dammit. It’s like I’ve been brainwashed.

I love the scene where Chakotay is trying to convince Seven that the Doctor thinks she should “go to sleep” while they pass through the non-existent wormholes (convenient that this should become an issue just as she begins asking too many questions). He physically takes her by the arm to insist with this sinister-looking cheery smile that she should comply. He even ‘jokingly’ says “resistance is futile”. Priceless.

7. Day of Honor
Season: 4
Original airdate: 17/09/1997
Stardate: Unknown

B’Elanna has a pretty shitty day which happens to coincide with the Klingon day of honor (honour, for us Canuks). It all culminates with her and Tom stuck in space and about to die (sure) so she finally fesses up that she loves him. I’d like to note that even though they think they are about to die, he replies with “you picked a good time to tell me” rather than saying it back. Classic Tom. Anyway, my favorite part of this episode was this scene:

Just the two of them floating in a black expanse of nothingness (and tiny white lights from Canadian Tire) in an embrace. A beautiful iconic image that, when over-thought, somewhat literally represents the theme of the show that the crew are alone and only have each other.

6. Body and Soul
Season: 7
Original airdate: 15/11/2000
Stardate: 54238.3

Voyager once again visits its lighter side by providing the actors with something moderately challenging to do. The Doctor, Harry Kim, and Seven are ‘captured’ by aliens who just so happen to hate holograms. So the Doctor hides in Seven. Jeri Ryan finally has a chance to act — well act as anything other than “uppity frigid know-it-all”.

She looks here like she’s about to peel her face off to reveal that she’s really Tom Cruise on an impossible mission of some kind, but that is actually the Doctor inside her getting her to literally let her hair down. He’s got a body and he’s going to have some family-rated fun with it.

The Doctor forms a relationship of sorts with one of the captors who, it turns out, has a crush on Seven. To butter him up, they spend the entire time drinking champagne and eating cheesecake and other goodies (the Doctor never having tasted any of these before, providing him with a completely justifiable second motive to participate in an awkward date with an alien abductor). When Seven/Doctor gets back to their cell, Harry removes the doctor and Seven’s all drunk and bloated from pigging the frig right out. Confused and pissed she says to the doctor “you have violated my body” and the Doctor gives a “well, I’m a cute little hologram, my bad” look.

5. Blink of an Eye
Season: 6
Original airdate: 19/01/2000
Stardate: Unknown

Voyager is just cruising along minding it’s own business (what am I saying? they never mind their own business) when they come across this weeeeeeird looking planet. When they try to enter orbit, they get trapped thus totally altering the evolution of all life on the planet. Time moves much faster on the planet so in a matter of several hours, an entire civilization develops who discover space travel due to the inspiration caused by the curiosity over Voyager’s presence.

Talk about frakking up the Prime Directive (by accident). I guess when they frak something up (by accident) they like to go whole hog. Except what’s great is they have a huge conversation about communicating with them and Tuvok votes no because that would be violating the Prime Directive. Rather than someone pointing out that the ship has pretty much sailed there, Tom just goes “to hell with the Prime Directive!”. Debating: Yer doin’ it wrong.

4. Counterpoint
Season: 5
Original airdate: 16/12/1998
Stardate: Unknown
Invented word: interspatial flecture

Voyager enters an area of space where telepaths are illegal and imprisoned or killed. So they hide a bunch of immigrant breeders telepaths on the ship (as well as Tuvok and Vorik) because all ships moving through that area of space are routinely and thoroughly inspected. Kashyk, the captain of a ship that often inspects Voyager, defects from his people and joins Voyager in looking for a ‘interspatial flecture’ that is a shortcut away from the crazy anti-telepath people.

Ok now here’s where it gets interesting. Janeway is horny. So she falls for this tall, dark, mysterious Kashyk guy and really wants to believe that he’s sincere. The best part is when we all know what’s coming finally happens (or he was going to die all heroically — reset button) and we find out that Janeway never really did buy his story. To add insult to injury, she completely humiliates him and messes up his whole plan.

3. Blood Fever
Season: 3
Original airdate: 02/05/1997
Stardate: 50537.2

Poor, poor Vorik. It’s Pon’far. He needs a mate. For some reason he thinks it’s “logical” to approach B’Elanna. Never mind the fact that he’s a Vulcan and she’s a half-Klingon/half-Human hybrid (that kid’s not going to know what the hell to do with itself), but what in flying frak did he expect to come out of asking the moodiest, most violent chick on the ship who, by the way, happens to be not so much fond of Vulcans?

The funny comes when B’Elanna (who seriously needs a shower) enters Pon’far due to Vorik’s mating attempt and is so horny that Tom has to have sex with her right now omg or she’ll die. That is a kind of horny known but once in a lifetime. Tom has some justified reservations about “taking advantage of her”, but who wouldn’t want to nail a chick covered in blood with dead leaves and debris in her hair? Eventually, Tom and B’Elanna classily head out into the woods to do it, but Tom is a Klingon-virgin and doesn’t know what to do.

B’Elanna proceeds to toss him on the ground Klingon-style, gets frustrated with his lack of enthusiasm, and asks “Well, what are you doing?” to which Tom gives the most hilarious reply ever: “Enjoying myself?” with this face:

2. Prototype
Season: 2
Original airdate: 15/01/1996
Stardate: Unknown
Invented word: chromodynamic discharge

Another B’Elanna episode, I know. She finds this robot floating in space, beams it aboard Voyager, and activates it. Never mind the danger of doing this in the first place (hey look some random thing, let’s beam it aboard!! ok!), because that turns out fine…at first. The robot informs them that there are others like him but they’re dying because their energy sources are degrading and their creators (who know how to fix them) all died in a war.

B’Elanna would like to fix them but Janeway is all “no, dude, they’re robots”, but the robots abduct B’Elanna and force her to help anyway. Eventually she finds out the real reason for the robots not being able to repair themselves — and I won’t ruin that for you if you haven’t seen it. Suffice it to say it’s a twist that I didn’t manage to see coming at the time and it has more emotional resonance than I can usually credit to a typical Voyager episode.

1. Course: Oblivion
Season: 5
Original airdate: 03/03/1999
Stardate: 52586.3

This is by far the best episode of Voyager. It was handled so well that I really have to give a shout-out to the writers for this one – Bryan Fuller and Nick Sagan. They go through the whole episode normally, with the crew going about their daily lives, such as a wedding between Tom and B’Elanna and a reception/ceremony where even Seven participates. Suddenly a weird disease starts affecting the crew. They trace back the infection to the class-Y “demon” planet they visited a year before (Demon, Season 4) where Tom and Harry encountered an amorphous, metallic sentient life form.

The resolution to this plot is so profoundly tragic that it transcends anything Voyager had taken on before or since. Themes that are explored include the nature of existence, the concept of individuality, sentience, the desire to be remembered and have accomplishments acknowledged, and the tragedy of pointlessness. What’s also interesting is that it opens questions about what has and has not been “real” on the show.

So that’s it. That’s my top 15 of Voyager. If any readers liked (or disliked) the show, sound off in the comments and share the episodes that you particularly liked (or disliked).

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11 responses to “15 examples of why Voyager was worth watching

  1. I sorts “skimmed” this as I didn’t want to take away too many spoilers. But as I go through the next 6 seasons of VOY, I look forward to talking to you about them. Like you however, I’m sure I’ll never let anything dissuade me from my pure devotion to TNG. :)

    • Kimbo Jones

      If you haven’t already checked it out, you might like Wil Wheaton’s “Memories of the Future”. It’s a book he wrote about his days working on TNG, starting with each episode of the first season. He released excerpts in podcast form (Memories of the Futurecast).

  2. Vince Montgomery

    Yes I liked Voyager, and all the other Treks. A fine article, well done.

  3. EnlightningLinZ

    Yay! Voyager is my favourite Star Trek series, I like your picks and I’m so glad you included Blink of an Eye, that’s my favourite episode of the series. Year of Hell and Prototype were great ones too. I’m glad you went with 15 because 10’s just not enough Voyager.

  4. Never did care for Voyager. It always seemed to me that on the rare occasion that they didn’t rip off an idea handled better in one of the previous Treks, they’d use a resent button, the absolutely worst plot device imaginable and one that seems to show contempt for the audience. And to have a 2-part episode that takes place over the course of a year only to reset the whole thing–that’s crossing the line. Plus it seems like half their reset buttons involved main characters dying in very unceremonious ways, thus informing the audience in advance, this will all have never happened by episode’s end. It seems to me that if a tree falls in the wood and then reality is reset so that it never falls and no one remembers it falling, it sort of defeats the purpose of even having a tree fall to begin with. And it certainly perverts the very idea of the narrative journey, where characters are expected to actually learn something.

    But the one episode I do remember liking involved Torres dying of some disease that could only be cured by a Cardassian war criminal’s holographic simulation, whose medical knowledge was obtained through unethical research. That was at least about something with actual interesting ethical questions.

    • Kimbo Jones

      Indeed. There were also far too many “let’s self-destruct the ship” lest the completely insignificant Kazan get hold of the technology and “change the balance of power” in the Borg-filled Delta Quadrant. ??? And apparently they found a few photon torpedoes along the way because they became far less stingy with them as the years went by.

      I agree, Voyager certainly had its faults and it was limited by Star Trek’s (at the time) episodic style (whereas now it’s much more fashionable for sci-fi to have grand season-long arcs). But it had its moments – such as that episode that you brought up, which would be on the list had I thought of it. :)

  5. Love the recap of Voyager, granted I also didn’t read all the reviews cuz I’m going episode by episode through S3 right now. But favorite has to be “Prototype” or “Threshold” so far… apparently we will all turn into giant mud skippers some day.

  6. Great list of favorite ST:Voy and almost all are on my list too. I’m just so glad Voyager didn’t have any of those absolutely horrible mirror universe episodes!
    Some ideas for episodes may have been borrowed from earlier series but the same is true of TNG and DS9 and I’d argue that they have been done with more panache on Voyager.
    Added to your list would be S1E4 “Phage” which introduces us to the vile Vidians. The best moment is Janeways speech in the transporter room to the captured Vidians. She was so disgusted her voice was almost choking up!
    In Counterpoint I loved the Alien scientist with the great balloon nose piece – my partner completely cracked up!

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