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Season Summary of Voyager Season 1Edit

WARNING: The following article contains lengthy spoilers for the first season of "Star Trek: Voyager". Anyone wishing to stay clear of said spoilers had better leave now. As with my past season-end reviews, this will have episode-by- episode notes and then some more general discussion. (Of course, as with past season reviews, this one's also taken quite some time to get done; ah, well.) So, without further ado...


I Season 1, Episode by EpisodeEdit

"Caretaker"


Written by:  Rick Berman & Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor (story); Piller 
	& Taylor (teleplay)
Directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
Initial rating:  8
Quotables:   "Gul Evek must feel daring today."
"Mr. Kim:  at ease before you sprain something."
"Were you going to deliver us into their waiting hands, Vulcan?"
"A very impressive title.  I have no idea what it means, but it sounds 
	very impressive."
"A fool needs company."
"-- but on the other hand, if I save your butt, your life belongs to me."
and "Is the crew always this difficult?"  "I don't know, doc; it's my 
	first mission."

"Caretaker" managed to get the series off to a promising start. Sure, there were problems -- the standard "weirdness" scene on the farm seemed just a bit *too* off-kilter, the Kazon seemed ill-defined in practice (though intriguing in theory), some exposition, and the fact that Kes was a near-total cipher, for some. However, the basic idea of a ship thrown out completely on its own, with a crew that needed to work on becoming whole itself before progress could be made, is a good one, and some of the relationships introduced here worked out nicely for a long time to come, Janeway/Tuvok in particular. Standard first-episode problems notwithstanding, this one worked reasonably well to showcase what sort of things to expect from the series.

Final rating: 7.5




"Parallax"


Written by:  Jim Trombetta (story); Brannon Braga (teleplay)
Directed by:  Kim Friedman
Initial rating:  7
Quotables:   
"Ms. Torres is no longer a member of the Maquis -- and with all due 
	respect, Commander, neither are you."
"-- so on the one side I'm facing a Vulcan who wants to court-martial 
	you, and on the other I'm facing all the Maquis who are ready 
	to seize the ship over this.  You've turned this into one lousy 
	day for me, Torres!"
"So how long do I have to stay in here?"  "Rest of the trip -- 75 
	years."
"If we don't get more power to the warp drive, we're all gonna have 
	to get out and push."
"I have no intention of being your *token* Maquis officer."
"You should've broken more than his nose."
"Am I making any sense here?"  "No, but that's okay."  [I'm not 
	thrilled with the spirit behind this exchange, but the quote itself 
	is great.]
and the final lines of the episode:  "If things had happened differently, 
	and we were on the Maquis ship now instead of Voyager, 
	would you have served under me?"  "One of the nice things 
	about being captain is that you can keep some things to 
	yourself."

From a plot angle, "Parallax" exemplifies several of the things I don't like about "Voyager", a heavy reliance on technobabble and a horrendous misuse of already-known science being no small part of that. From a character angle, however, "Parallax" got it dead, dead right. We saw serious crew dilemmas unfold here, complete with some rather heated debates -- and all without anyone being "wrong". When you have people with such differing philosophies involved, you *will* have conflict, and the sort of thing we saw in "Parallax" is exactly the way I think "Voyager" should be presenting it on a character level. The plot goofiness hurt, absolutely; but if the series had managed to present this sort of character-pushing story on a regular basis, I'd be satisfied.

[Aside: it is here, however, that the pseudo-justification for using the holodeck even when power is low is given. I've never bought into it and don't intend to start now.]

Final rating: 7.5




"Time and Again"


Written by:  David Kemper (story); David Kemper and Michael Piller 
	(teleplay)
Directed by:  Les Landau
Initial rating:  6.5
Quotables:   "I never broke any record!"  "And who are they gonna 
	check it with?"
"You have a lovely brain; it will make a fine addition to our files."
"We ate him.  Because we *are* demons, and we *eat* children, and 
	I haven't had my supper yet!"
"Do you honestly expect us to believe all this?"
and the doctor's immortal, "Seems I've found myself on the voyage 
	of the damned."

"Time and Again", on the other hand, isn't wearing all that well with age. I like some of the temporal aspects of the story (even if a friend lamented about effect *always* preceding cause on this series :-) ), and Janeway's resolute attitude towards both the investigation and the eventual "rescue" of the planet serves her in good stead. However, the telepathic side of Kes's character really doesn't work all that well for me, the kid in this show had to be one of the dozen most annoying beings ever seen on Trek, and the "polaric energy" served as a far bigger source of both preachiness and technobabble than it did of energy.

[Aside: it is with Tuvok's unsolicited advice on the planet here that a different friend began calling him Lt. Who-Asked-You. Just a note for posterity.]

Final rating: 5.5




"Phage"


Written by:  Timothy DeHaas (story); Skye Dent and Brannon Braga 
	(teleplay)
Directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
Initial rating:  8
Quotables:   
"Sounds delicious, but I've already had my vacuum-packed oatmeal 
	this morning."
"The man drives a 700,000-ton starship, so somebody thinks he'd 
	make a good *medic*."
"But a hologram is just a projection of light held in a magnetic 
	containment field; there's no real matter involved."  
	<>
"I'm a doctor, Mr. Neelix, not a decorator."
"He's just one big hormone walking around the ship."
"Don't worry, I'm not going to kiss you; I'm just adjusting the 
	restraint."  "I'll try to contain my disappointment."
"According to my readings, you are not here."  "Believe me, I wish I 
	weren't."

If you've got to do a show with an inherently goofy concept, "Phage" still strikes me as an example of how to do it reasonably well. The trick here is that the episode was well _aware_ of its own goofiness and reveled in it to some extent, at least where the core plot was concerned. The Vidiians, at least here, seemed like an intriguing race to see more of, and the doctor's resorting to desperate measures to help Neelix was also sound. Some serious plot stupidities do bring the episode down somewhat substantially (Neelix's dumbness early on, Janeway's carelessness with the Vidiians, and Kes's volunteering a lung in particular), but I still didn't come away feeling that the show had wasted my time.

Final rating: 6.5




"The Cloud"


Written by:  Brannon Braga (story); Tom Szollosi and Michael Piller 
	(teleplay)
Directed by:  David Livingston
Initial rating:  7.5
Quotables:   "There's coffee in that nebula."
"I'm smart enough to go AROUND nebulas when I encounter them."
"These people are natural born *idiots* if you ask me."
"Well, uh, let's see if we can't find some space anomaly today that 
	might rip it apart!" [Neelix pretending to be Janeway]
"Now there's an interesting concept:  a hologram that programs itself.  
	What would I do with that ability?  Create a family, raise an 
	army..."
"Why pretend we're going home at all?  All we're going to do is 
	investigate every cubic millimeter of this quadrant."

The main plot was dumb, yes; really dumb. The animal-guide stuff with Janeway and Chakotay, however, was at least an interesting concept (despite some sledgehammer execution at times), particularly given Janeway's need for company; and there were a great many entertaining moments, particularly in the show's first half (The pool- hall holodeck program of Paris's however, is not one of them, and is something I hope not to see much of.) Fantastic? Certainly not -- but certainly tolerable in small doses.

Final rating: 6




"Eye of the Needle"


Written by:  Hilary J. Bader (story); Bill Dial and Jeri Taylor (teleplay)
Directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
Initial rating:  8
Quotables:   "Captain -- what year is it?"
"I think you'd be convinced that they're nothing more than the 
	heartfelt words of some ... very lonely people."

Now that's more like it. "Eye" was one of the standouts of the season. We saw some good exploration, crewmembers running a range of emotions from exhilaration to despair *with good motivations for those feelings*, and a story about the ship getting home that *didn't* resort to a silly reason why it wasn't feasible. There aren't many such reasons around that I can think of, which makes me fear that shows like this may be rare, but on the whole this one worked quite well. (One of the few things holding it back was the sudden forgetfulness that we had two crews to deal with, coming from two different places and two different states of mind. Apart from that ... golden.)

Final rating: 9




"Ex Post Facto"


Written by:  Evan Carlos Somers (story); Evan Carlos Somers and 
	Michael Piller (teleplay)
Directed by:  LeVar Burton
Initial rating:  3.5
Quotables:   "Dr. Galen, Dr. Salk, Dr. [...] Spock..." [the doctor 
	running through names]
"...this is a very old trick."  "It worked against those Starfleet 
	runabouts."  "You're lucky I wasn't commanding one of 
	them."
"That's one trick you won't be able to use again when we get back."  
	"I have more."

First, the good: Paris looks cute when he's disheveled, Chakotay got in a few good lines about the Maquis, and Mulgrew proved here that she'd gotten a lot better at having Janeway voice threats. That's about it. As for the bad ... well, we had a bad detective story with Lt. "Matvok" combined with horribly cliched soap-opera dialogue from the Failed Femme Fatale. All this plus a yapping dog, too. No, thanks.

Final rating: 3




"Emanations"


Written by:  Brannon Braga
Directed by:  David Livingston
Initial rating:  7.5
Quotables:   "No artifacts, no inscriptions -- just some naked dead 
people."
"In essence, Commander, you were strolling through dead bodies."
"Are you saying that when we die, we go to some asteroid and 
	_decompose_?"
"It's so easy to be jaded -- to treat the extraordinary like just another 
	day at the office."
"The bridge will still be there in two days."

This, like DS9's "Equilibrium" this season, seems to be in that category of shows I liked and few other people did. And while there were certainly some weak points in the story (the existence of asteroids in a ring system with *atmospheres*, for one, along with gobs and gobs of technobabble on both sides of the "subspace vacuole"), I thought the show took a different enough approach to the "crewmember treated as a god" idea to make for a very interesting story [although I could have done without the "neural energy" method of hedging one's bets]. Janeway's instructions to Kim at the end to mull over what he's been through were particularly appreciated, as that's something we almost never see someone take the time to do here.

Final rating: 7.5




"Prime Factors"


Written by:  David R. George III & Eric A. Stillwell (story); Michael 
	Perricone and Greg Elliot (teleplay)
Directed by:  Les Landau
Initial rating:  8
Quotables:   
"I think maybe Harry wasn't prepared for how _voracious_ Jenny 
	Delany can be."
"But you're sending out a distress call."  "Yes."  "Why?"  "Because 
	*you* are in distress."
"After all, it doesn't hurt to -- theorize."
"That's what it comes down to:  do I compromise my almighty 
	principles?"
"Right now, our people are fighting Cardassians, _dying_ for our 
	cause."  [not a superb line in itself, but intriguing in retrospect, 
	given that it's Seska who says it]
"Someone had to spare you the ethical dilemma.  I was the logical 
	choice -- and so I chose to act."
"You are my counsel -- the one I turn to when I need MY moral 
	compass checked!"
"My logic was not in error ... but I was."

This one was a big, big winner. Although the Janeway/Gath romance still seems forced and unnecessary, everything else shone. We had crew being faced with one of the most important temptations of their life -- and several of them giving *in* to that temptation; we had Janeway's own moral counsel breaking with Janeway's principles; we had conflict that didn't solely break down across Starfleet/Maquis lines; and we had characters being honest about their motivations and their concerns. "Voyager" could use a lot more stories on the level of "Prime Factors".

Final rating: 9.5




"State of Flux"


Written by:  Paul Robert Coyle (story); Chris Abbott (teleplay)
Directed by:  Robert Scheerer
Initial rating:  10
Quotables:   
"Stewed for a few hours in a light herbal broth, and you won't even 
	notice the mildew."
"I don't like number 3 at _all_, Tuvok."
"Seska's spent most of the last two years as an enemy of the 
	Federation."  "So have I."
"That is not acceptable."  "It will have to be."
"If you don't mind, I'd like to hear her explanation before we dismiss 
	it."
"You damned Vulcans and your defined parameters."
"Do not mistake composure for ease."
"You are a fool, Captain -- and you're a fool to follow her."
and Chakotay's lament to Tuvok, possibly the best line in the series so 
	far:  "You were working for her, Seska was working for them; 
	was anyone on board that ship working for me?"

This was another good one. Although Martha Hackett got a tad too strident towards the end in retrospect, and the Seska/Chakotay romance was implausible coming this out of the blue, the basic question of ferreting out a betrayer on board was a sound one executed well. Add the ambiguity of no one having a totally correct point of view, and the torture Chakotay put himself through as evidence kept piling up, and you have an extremely good episode. More like this and "Prime Factors" will go a very, very long way.

Final rating: 9.5




"Heroes and Demons"


Written by:  Naren Shankar
Directed by:  Les Landau
Initial rating:  5
Quotables:   
"I would point out, there are no demons in Vulcan literature."  "That 
	might account for its popularity."
"You are truly a man of many talents, Lord Schweitzer; your people 
	must value you greatly."  "You would think so."
"This is absurd."
"How do you survive?"  "I'm still learning how."
"Lord Schweitzer, you're standing on my beard."  [oh, wait, no, 
	*WE* said that :-) ]
"The only reason you won't die is that I've taken an oath -- to do no 
	harm."

The "holodeck-gone-wonky" story nugget from TNG rears its head on board Voyager, with sadly predictable results. The doctor had some good bits of characterization here and there, mostly in his very willingness to be involved in the rescue and in his attachment to the characters in the Beowulf fantasy. That character work and some good acting on the parts of Picardo and Marjorie Monaghan helped -- but not enough to save a story riddled with technobabble, energy beings galore, situations where Janeway is explaining an engineering glitch to her own engineer, and all in all a show that isn't aging well.

Final rating: 4




"Cathexis"


Written by:  Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky (story); Brannon Braga 
	(teleplay)
Directed by:  Kim Friedman
Initial rating:  3
Quotables:   "You might have *asked* before adorning my sickbay 
	with animal remains."
"-- other than his irritating lapses into nostalgia, I see nothing wrong 
	with him."
"I would consider writing a paper about it, if there were a convenient 
	forum in which to publish it."

When all of the decent lines I mention come from the doctor, you know you've got an episode that needs to make fun of itself. "Cathexis" was definitely one of them. The holonovel at the beginning showed promise, as it will be good to see Janeway in other venues, and the twist of having there be two "aliens" was nice. However, we had lots of Stupid Character Tricks (Janeway trusting Tuvok late in the game, Janeway all but fondling Chakotay as he comes out of the coma, Chakotay not having the sense to possess someone who can actually *pilot* the ship, etc.), and a few other implausibilities like Torres not having clearance to eject the warp core. This is one I've no real desire to see again, ever.

Final rating: 2.5




"Faces"


Written by:  Jonathan Glassner and Kenneth Biller (story); Kenneth 
	Biller (teleplay)
Directed by:  Winrich Kolbe
Initial rating:  5
Quotables:   "They're the ones with the guns, remember?"
"Next time I need a tailor, I'll know just where to look."  [Chakotay, 
	making do in Garak's absence]
"I'm sorry I can't replicate you a souffle', but you need nourishment."
"Can't you even admit that you won't be able to get out of here 
	without me?"  "I don't know that I can get out of here *with* 
	you."

"Faces" manages some nice moments of atmosphere here and there, the casual slaughter of Durst and use of his face by Sulan being high on the list. Some of B'Elanna's history as told to Paris was also decent, and Chakotay managed to strategize well once he was in the Vidiian prison. However, to get to those good points, one must make it through an episode that not only uses DNA as magic *again*, but also suggests that Janeway routinely leaves crewmembers behind with no way of monitoring them, that Chakotay is the ideal choice for a suicide mission, that splitting someone in two will automatically create absolutely different and stereotypical behaviors, and an episode that takes the fallen nobility of the Vidiians and turns them into much simpler slave drivers (except, perhaps, for Sulan). The more I think about this one, the less it works.

Final rating: 4




"Jetrel"


Written by:  James Thomton & Scott Nimerfro (story); Jack Klein & 
	Karen Klein and Kenneth Biller (teleplay)
Directed by:  Kim Friedman
Initial rating:  4.5
Quotables:   
"It is not possible to be a scientist unless you believe that all the 
	knowledge of the universe and all the power that it bestows is 
	of intrinsic value to everyone."  [Jetrel, buying into a patently 
	false assertion]
"-- what I call regenerative fusion."  "No, call it Herman; sounds 
	cuter."  [us, MSTing Jetrel]

The time is certainly right to examine the events of Hiroshima fifty years ago -- but this isn't the way to go about it. "Jetrel" is a show that rubbed me wrong from the beginning -- and watching it again only exacerbates the situation. Some of Neelix's worries and fears were genuine, and it's that in conjunction with good performances from Phillips and James Sloyan that save this show from being utterly awful. However, the show is the preachiest thing I've seen come out of Trek since Tasha Yar's public service announcement about drugs in TNG's first season, does a horrible job with it to boot (implying that the Hiroshima-like victims *could* be brought back if only the technobabble hadn't teched wrongly), has a scientist character who embodies every damned stupid stereotype about the profession that I know of aside from the pocket protector, and wraps it all up in tons of technobabble to cement the edges. The fact that my prediction was right about the rerun airing during the Hiroshima 50th anniversary gives me no pleasure here.

[Note: my notes include the words "whomp, whomp, whomp", indicating preachiness at work. Forty minutes into the episode, my head followed suit.]

Final rating: 3




"Learning Curve"


Written by:  Ronald Wilkerson & Jean Louise Matthias
Directed by:  David Livingston
Initial rating:  7.5
Quotables:   "Don't worry, Tuvok; I'll tell them to take it easy on 
	you."
"The problem we're having, Lieutenant, is that this whole thing is 
	_insulting_."
"To discuss the patient's condition in front of the patient would be a 
	serious breach of professional etiquette."  [the doctor, 
	choosing a lousy time to start being concerned]
"Maybe he'll slip and fall to his death."
"I feel that my services as morale officer are required."
"No, Mr. Vulcan -- I'm saying that YOU are rigid and inflexible."
"Are we testing my social skills?  Does Starfleet have rules about 
	them, too?"
and the soon to be notorious line, "Get the cheese to sickbay."

Whew. I'm glad the season ended on a better note here. Although the "main" plot, Voyager vs. Cheese, opened itself up to a host of scathing criticism when it first aired, it really wasn't all *that* bad given the way it was handled. (It would have been better had someone realized on screen how absurd it was; a simple "I can't believe I'm saying this" prior to ordering the cheese to sickbay would have worked wonders.) The Tuvok-as-teacher plot, however, was the emotional core of the show, and aside from a fairly disappointing ending it worked quite well. Tuvok had good ideas but no way to implement them, and was eventually made to realize his errors; as long as life isn't perfect from here on it, I'll be satisfied. I wish the Tuvok part of the show had been done more gradually, but what we saw worked on the whole.

Final rating: 7

That covers that. Numbers-wise, that works out to the upper 6's, with a gigantic scatter; the thing's almost a flat curve. "Voyager" fluctuated wildly its first season. So, on we go to...


II Voyager Season 1 -- General CommentaryEdit

To start with, I should note something that's been concerning me lately. An awful lot of people have been dismissing "Voyager" immediately as "unworthy", or some such phrase, and have written it off very, very quickly as having a horrible first season. I don't think that's justified. I think it's been easy to get that impression, as the last run of new shows ("Heroes and Demons" through to "Learning Curve") was on the whole fairly weak material -- but I don't think we should let that color our entire judgment. That said, onwards.

"Voyager" has probably the most goal-oriented premise of any Star Trek series to date. As Janeway made very clear at the end of "Caretaker", the ship's primary mission is to get home.

Given that very directed mission and premise, it's amazing how downright *aimless* the show has seemed for most of its first season. Many episodes have had very little to do with their situation (on any level), and others have been tied in only peripherally. "Voyager", is, on the whole, ignoring its own premise a great deal of the time, which I think is a contributing factor to the sort of start it's had.

I mean, think about it. If you look at, say, "Ex Post Facto", or "Heroes and Demons", or "Jetrel", is there really *any* evidence that they're in the Delta Quadrant, all alone, with two crews forced together by necessity? "Ex Post Facto", from what I recall, had one or two lines noting their need for supplies, but that's it; and I can't recall anything in the other two that comes up at all.

That makes for a very, very strong sense of "same old, same old" when it's used, and that quite frankly makes it easy for the show to feel stale, despite the fact that it's only 16 hours old in terms of material. There have certainly been some entertaining hours here and there in "Voyager" so far, with a few being quite good indeed -- but when the majority of stories feel warmed-over, there's not a lot of impetus to look for the next one. (There's also not a great deal of impetus to watch a show again in reruns, which may account for the rather startling drop I've seen the show have in reruns' ratings so far.)

What's needed, I think, is primarily a reemphasis of the show's situation and what can be done with it -- in other words, I think a little bit of thinking ahead is required. By this I do *not* mean an overarching storyline a la "Babylon 5" -- while I've enjoyed B5 immensely over its two years so far, one can have growth and change without committing to something that detailed and that worked-out in advance. What I mean is this:

When you have two crews trying to integrate as we've seen so far, there are going to be problems: ones that aren't going to just go away at the end of 45 minutes a la "Learning Curve" implied. There are strongly differing philosophies on board of How To Get Things Done, and that will come out in a whole host of ways that are *recurring*. These problems aren't going to work as single-episode stories: perhaps in one episode they'll have the spotlight, but problems don't just crop up out of nowhere and then go away equally fast. They will exist, and it should really be an ongoing struggle to deal with them.

  • That* is the sort of thing that can be done with the situation, regardless of the "getting home" part. (I wouldn't mind seeing some progress there either, but the two shows where such progress has been within reach and then removed, "Eye of the Needle" and "Prime Factors", have both worked so well that I trust everyone involved to keep the "home" stories up to a reasonable level of quality.) Right now, the show has a simple "tooling 'round the galaxy, hum-de-dum" feel to it -- and those have simply started to get very, very old. (Or, to paraphrase Janeway's own words in "Emanations", the extraordinary is coming off as feeling like just another day at the office. It shouldn't.)

One side effect, perhaps, of the humdrum way in which "Voyager" has proceeded along is an incredible over-reliance on, you guessed it, technobabble, to further the story along. It is absolutely not necessary and weakens the stories when overused, which is most of the time. If the plot requires reams and reams of made-up words to be convincing, then it's NOT convincing, regardless of how clever the made-up words are. I've ranted about technobabble enough in the past, though, so I'll leave it at that.

That said about the story as a whole, let's move on to the characters:

I've few complaints about Janeway. She does seem to be the right mixture of rigidity and compassion to work effectively as a starship captain, just as I said back in "Caretaker", and Kate Mulgrew has done an effective job so far. (Her biggest problem early on was the forced and stilted way in which she made threats against enemies, and that's improved quite a bit since the days of "Phage".) So, as the status quo has quo'd on, she's been fine, but she has some evolution ahead of her as a character. We've already seen her go back on a threat once, in "Faces", where her earlier threat against the Vidiians went totally by the board. That, combined with her choice to strand them in the Delta Quadrant in the first place, means that the rumblings of discontent typified by Seska should be on the rise. I don't know if we need to see an actual mutiny, but Janeway's not always going to be the most popular figure on the ship, and that's something we need to see.

Then, there's Chakotay. He's simultaneously the most intriguing character I've seen so far and the most frustrating one. Despite having left Starfleet for the Maquis, he is one of the most by-the-book, stand- up officers I can recall seeing, which suggests that he must have gotten to the Maquis via a far different route than, say, B'Elanna. If that's explored a bit, Chakotay could be an incredible character. At the moment, though, we've seen virtually nothing of him; aside from some disputes with Janeway in "Parallax" and "State of Flux", he's been a cipher. (There've also been the various Hollywood Tribe moments where his culture comes out, but those have left something to be desired.) Chakotay's in the running for "Most Wasted Character" on the series, and that would be a terrible shame.

On the other hand, I'm quite happy with Tuvok. Despite having a nice bond with Janeway that's been in evidence several times, he does have a great many flaws of his own that I've been quite pleased to see examined. Tuvok is probably the best delineated character so far, and I've been pretty satisfied with the directions I've seen him go in at present.

And, of course, we'll always have Paris. (ba-dum-bum) Paris is someone else who hasn't really done all that much so far. In "Caretaker", we saw someone with a great deal of trouble to overcome, and a nasty dark edge to him that would prove interesting to deal with. Since "Caretaker", though, we've had almost none of that aside from token references to him being in prison. Instead, we've had the Walking Hormone, as Neelix so eloquently put it, and none of the added depth going along with it. He and Chakotay are the only two people we know of who were in both Starfleet *and* the Maquis; there should be some interesting links there, both in similarities and differences, that could be explored. Paris is also under the command of someone who served with his famous father; there could be some intriguing angles there to look into, particularly if Paris feels that he's failed his family. But we really don't need anyone on board whose only function is as Token Stud.

Aside from "Faces", I think B'Elanna Torres is working out decently as well -- she's both tightly controlled and generally competent, which is a good combination. There have been a few moments that I thought didn't work, such as the case in "Heroes and Demons" where Janeway is helping explain things to her (then why is she chief engineer?); but on the whole, she's been both intelligent and interesting. Her eventual acceptance of Janeway as a role model ("Prime Factors", or at least that's one way to interpret it) has been quite interesting to see as well.

I almost forgot about Harry Kim -- which isn't entirely surprising, as it seems everyone else has. "Emanations" was a good start at showing how a very green ensign functions in a very difficult situation, and more approaches like that (particularly his "counseling" by Janeway at the show's end) could help a great deal. Aside from "Emanations", though, he's been deathly dull; absolutely _nothing_ is being done with this guy. That needs to change, soon.

Moving on to nonhumans, Neelix is the character I think I'm objecting to most at the moment. When he's actually used for information he can be a help, and on the rare occasions he's had something serious to work with ("Phage" and "Jetrel") he's been decent as well; on the whole, though, he has been a particularly annoying attempt at comic relief much of the time. [One exception to that has been "The Cloud", where his annoyance at what Janeway et al. were doing made a great deal of sense.] Something here needs to change a little bit; let's see more of the canniness he showed in "Caretaker", for heaven's sake, or see what happens when the Voyager moves out of regions he knows well.

Kes is still way too much of a cipher, but is improving. My main concern here is that she not be trapped into the role of Deanna Troi II -- given her telepathy, her counseling skills, and her attractiveness, that would be an easy trap to fall into. Her work with the doctor has been a strength on the whole; not the warmed-over "Measure of a Man" rehashes with her convincing the doctor that he's a person, too, but just the working relationship the two have established over time, coupled with Kes's own strong intellect. (In fact, all three major female characters on board have shown a good deal of intelligence, which I like seeing a *LOT*.) Kes is still adrift to too much of an extent, but we'll see.

And then, there's the doctor. I'm happy with him most of the time as well; he has a nice arrogance about him that sets him apart from most of the rest of the cast, and tends to get a lot of the best lines. (The fact that the best lines are often slams on the show and the crew is in itself a somewhat worrying note, but that's another issue.) I'm still hoping to see him put in different roles a bit (and not a la "Heroes and Demons"), but he seems to be okay.

I think I'm about done here. I don't think "Voyager" is the overwhelming failure I've seen all too much talk of on the net, but neither has it burst onto the scene and put everything else to shame. It has a lot of potential still -- not wasted, but not explored either. I'd like to see that change.

Or, to put it in slightly different terms: "Voyager" has done a magnificent job in its first season of treading water. The problem with treading water is that eventually you need to pick a destination and make progress ... or you drown.

See you in two weeks for the season premiere.


Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
tlynch@alumni.caltech.edu
"It's so easy to be jaded -- to treat the extraordinary like just
another day at the office."
			-- Janeway
Copyright 1995, Timothy W. Lynch.  All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...
This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net
compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the
author*.  Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.

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