Voyager gets a rough time among fans… Admittedly, it was not as inspired as The original series or Next Gen, lacked the pathos of DS9, and never has approached the fan devotion that any of its sister series’ enjoyed. Sure, it may have been filled with stunt casting, cheese, and the occasional pandering to the baser urges of it’s base demographic (My wife delights in pointing out that there’s no logical reason 7 of 9′s outfit has to be that tight, or have heels) But Voyager does have its merits, and in many ways is my favorite show of the franchise. While I know that there are those around the Furious Fanboys water cooler that will vehemently disagree with anything I say here, I offer the following ten episodes as reasons that Voyager is worth another look… in no particular order (spoilers ahead):
The first episode of Voyager introduced us to a premise with a lot of promise. A crew far from home, forced to work with their former enemy to survive. It also introduced concepts such as variable pitch warp nacelles, holographic doctors, and bio-neural circuitry to the technobabble of the Star Trek universe. The episode is a great Star Trek story on it’s own, with a nearly omnipotent alien capturing alien crews for a mysterious purpose, and Janeway having to make the tough decision to sacrifice their only chance of getting home to save others.
Live fast and prosper
This inventive episode, when a pair of con men impersonate Janeway and Tuvok to scam others in the delta quadrant, typifies the great sense of humor that the show had about itself. You can’t help but smile at the fanboy reverence that the impostor has for the real Tuvok, or when the impostor Janeway tells the real thing “I thought you’d be taller”. The b-story about Paris and Neelix feeling like they’ve lost their Mojo brings a lot of laughs too.
Blink of an eye
In this one, Voyager comes across a planet whose relationship with space-time makes time on the surface pass faster than the rest of the universe. While days pass on voyager, centuries pass on the planet. Voyager becomes trapped in orbit, which causes geological problems on the surface. My favorite part of this episode is how the due to the constant presence of Voyager in the sky, it takes a place in the alien society similar to that of the moon in ours… inspiring operas and a space race as they become more advanced.
This episode starts with Chakotay and Harry Kim finding the frozen remains of Voyager and her crew on an ice planet ten years after their less than triumphant return to the alpha quadrant. This one is awesome because it forces such speculation from the viewer as to how the disaster occurred, and you just can’t beat a cameo by LeVar Burton as Captain Geordi LaForge of the Starship Challenger.
Hope and Fear
When Paris and Neelix return from an away mission with the mysterious Arturis, who helps them decipher a coded message from Starfleet that seemingly offers the crew a way home via an experimental ship called the Dauntless. It turns out to be a trap, as Arturis blames Jameway for not allowing species 8472 to stop the Borg before they could assimilate his world. It’s one of the few where Janeway is forced to confront that her actions can have a down side for those in the Delta quadrant, and one where Seven of Nine admits that she may not want to continue her quest for individuality. A lot of focus is placed on the Seven/Janeway relationship.
The Omega directive
When Voyager discovers traces of the mysterious Omega particle, which is so dangerous that starfleet captains are under general orders to destroy it at all costs, including disregarding the prime directive. The reason I like this episode so much is because it shows how much it sucks not to have starfleet backup when you really need it.
Message in a bottle
The Doctor’s program gets transmitted to a Starfleet vessel in the alpha quadrant via an ancient communications network, promising actual contact with Starfleet for the first time in years. The only problem is that the ship has been hijacked by Romulans, and the Doc’s only help is Andy Dick. (Yes, THAT Andy Dick… as the EMH mark II) A great episode because of the humor, and the fact that the Doctor must come to terms with the fact that he’s now considered obsolete.
Year of hell part 1&2
Voyager encounters a race with a weapon that allows them to erase anyone or anything from history, altering the timeline in their favor. Voyager promptly gets beat to hell by the alien race and over a year, Janeway builds alliances to stop them and restore the timeline to normal. A great episode for those that enjoy bits about how time travel and changing time lines work in the Star Trek universe.
Equinox part 1&2
Ever since Voyager Premiered, much of the Fanfic had revolved around the concept of Janeway encountering another Starfleet vessel in the Delta Quadrant. At the end of season five, fans got their wish when the Voyager received a hail from the Starship Equinox. The captain of the Equinox has made much darker decisions than Janeway had to to keep his crew alive, and is determined to get them back home at all costs. When Janeway discovers how far he’s strayed from federation ideals, she vows to bring him to justice.
I admit to having a weakness for Ferengi episodes. I’m one of those guys that even enjoyed the controversial Enterprise Ferengi episode. The reason for it is that they’re pure comedy gold. The episode actually draws it’s premise from a Next Gen episode where two Ferengi get stranded across the galaxy due to an unstable wormhole. By the time Voyager encounters them, they’ve used their ship’s replicator to take over an entire planet, and set themselves up as gods. Beyond the great comedy elements of this episode, (such as Neelix posing as the representative of the grand Nagus and making up rules of acquisition as he goes along), it also has the classic Voyager plot device of a promising way home that gets spoiled for the crew again.
One wonders if there’s an ensign somewhere in the bowels of Voyager named Gilligan.