Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Learning Curve"


Air date: 5/22/1995
Written by Ronald Wilkerson and Jean Louise Matthias
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I cannot imagine that there are visible emanations which allow you to interpret my mood." — Tuvok to Neelix

I'm beginning to think the Delta Quadrant is the character on Voyager that most urgently needs development. One thing that is beginning to frustrate me about the series is how little the USS Voyager is finding in the vast unknowns of this new territory. Don't get me wrong. The series is doing a fine job of developing its personality and cast. But one thing it hasn't done that it should've by now is take advantage of the fact it has alienated the TNG/DS9 lore in favor of lore of its own.

Instead of a story that in some way develops the Delta Quadrant, we get "Learning Curve"—a basically lightweight Trek outing with a decent A-story and a fairly flat B-story jeopardy premise. Tuvok is placed in charge of putting four insubordinate former-Maquis officers through a basic Starfleet attitude training. Meanwhile, the ship's bio-neural circuitry begins malfunctioning when it literally catches a virus.

It's another nice vehicle to see Tuvok in action, though his character doesn't benefit much in terms of meaty development. His trainees prove willfully stubborn. They didn't ask to be integrated into a Starfleet crew, and they feel justified in continuing to do things the "Maquis way." Starfleet/Maquis conflict is a relevant issue that hasn't been looked at since "Parallax" and it's nice to see that not everybody has fully accepted the situation.

Included in the "Maquis way" is an unwritten rule that removes retreat as an option in battle situations—a definite rule that Tuvok has to remove from their thinking patterns. When he tests them in a holodeck Kobayashi Maru type simulation, they go up against insurmountable odds and die. "At least we went out with our phasers firing," comments Henley (Catherine MacNeal).

However, I question Tuvok's initial methods for breaking in these trainees. He treats them like teenage cadets at the academy. He makes Chell (Derek McGrath) run laps around the cargo bay and degauss the transporter room by means of the slowest method available. It seems like pointless punishment used for comedy rather than a realistic procedure in light of the extreme situations facing the Voyager.

On the other hand, I see no reason why these Maquis officers are so adamant to make the worst out of a bad situation.

It is reassuring to see Tuvok question his own methods. Neelix helps Tuvok realize that his inflexibility, in addition to the Maquis', doesn't make the situation better. This leads Tuvok to attempt to get to know Dalby (Armand Schultz) by playing the pool holodeck program—a scene that ends with realistic results.

This story works fine despite its lightweight nature. Unfortunately, there's also a fairly laughable jeopardy premise in which the ship's bio-neural gel packs begin malfunctioning. The only storytelling point in this plot is the further conveyance that being far from home will continue to have a serious impact on the ship and crew. When these gel packs are damaged, they cannot be repaired. They must be replaced, and there is a limited backup supply of only 47 of them.

The Doctor discovers that the gel packs have a bacterial infection that is destroying them. As it spreads through the ship, systems begin failing like crazy. Tuvok discovers that some cheese Neelix has sitting out in his galley possibly contains the bacteria growth.

Excuse me? A plot in which cheese is the culprit? They're saying that if cheese is left out on the Voyager, the ship's gel packs will come down with a disease? This plot revelation belongs up there with Tuvok's dog/witness in "Ex Post Facto."

And with all the system failures the malfunctions cause, is it too much to ask why the Doctor wasn't affected by them? Maybe that would prove a little too inconvenient for the lazy plot, but it is a valid point to address. No power, no Doctor.

As for character development, Janeway's holodeck novel is not doing the job. It has no relevance to anything on the show. I need to see Janeway interacting with her crew on a personal or social level. She said herself in "Caretaker" that she needs to take time to get to know the crew better. The writers need to find something to do with Janeway apart from commanding the ship, and the holodeck is not the answer.

All in all, "Learning Curve" is an entertaining but underwhelming show. Time to move on.

Previous episode: Jetrel
Next episode: The 37's

Season Index

32 comments on this review

Rob in Michigan - Sun, Sep 21, 2008 - 5:15pm (USA Central)
Alas, despite my liking of the series and its characters, it has some truly reprehensible flaws: no regularly recurring tertiary characters (despite the limited number of crewman on board), the destroyed shuttle count (frustrating and just plain lazily stupid) and the lack of real consequences of being short on supplies that cannot be replicated/replenished easily... especially as Voyager becomes more and more damaged... again, lazily stupid.
Remco - Sun, Nov 30, 2008 - 9:29pm (USA Central)
I don't really care about the cheese of the cheese. I like the fact that Voyager is essentially biologically alive. It can get sick. It makes sense to use biological neural parts in a ship, since it is very efficient. It's really hard to make traditional hardware that is as powerful. But I guess they need high-tech facilities to replenish those gel packs. Voyager was definitely not meant for lifetime trips.

But apart from this, the episode is an underwhelming season finale. There is no sense of development beyond the ship, whereas DS9 seems to be slipping into inter-stellar war at the same time.
Will - Mon, Nov 9, 2009 - 2:01pm (USA Central)
Don't get me wrong, I like Voyager an awful lot, in fact, I love it. It has some of the most entertaining stories and premises in all of Trek. But I do have problems with it and one of those problems is no fault of the series, but merely of Brannon Braga.

Now I don't subsrcibe to the Star Trek nerd's theory that Braga is everything that's wrong with Trek as I believe he's part of what made TNG and Voyager great, but his underlying arrogance really pisses me off. Whenever he's interviewed for Voyager he has a silent, subliminal smug superiority, even when talking about crap or mediocre episodes of Voyager he possesses a certain misguided assurance that Voyager is the best Trek out there.

Now I've already said I love Voyager, but it would be foolish and going against the truth if I said it was more well written that Deep Space Nine. It isn't, and episodes like these when there is inconsistent character development and the bloody reset button just confirm that theory, as well as the underwhelming series finale theme which would later return with 'These are the voyages'.

Braga never wrote for DS9. He obviously didn't have the creative talent or writing skills required. Either that or he just plain hated the show becaue it wasn't on a space station, or his delusions that Voyager was better written got in the way. That's what annoys me about him and Voyager.
Eduardo - Tue, Jan 5, 2010 - 4:39pm (USA Central)

You should listen to the DVD commentary for Star Trek Generations. Braga is surprisingly honest and candid about what's worked and what hasn't worked in Trek scripts over the years.

Along with Ron Moore, both point out many of the flaws in that film, while also pointing out the good parts. Braga is surprisingly critical of the Nexus storyline.

Since then, Braga has delivered some solid work on 24, this past season. Season 8 also looks promising.
Nic - Thu, Mar 4, 2010 - 11:42am (USA Central)
Interesting comments, though in the end does it really matter whose "fault" it is that any given episode (or series) didn't work? It's all a matter of taste in the first place, and I am convinced that every Star Trek writer (including Braga) has tried to make the best show they possibly could. Some were better than others at it, yes. But what really should matter to viewers is the end product.

That being said, my one defense for this episode was that it was NOT supposed to be the season finale. It was supposed to be episode 16 of a 20-episode season and was written and produced as such. Add "Projections", "Elogium", "Twisted" and "The 37s" to the season (in that order) and you get a much better big picture (in my opinion) with a theme string running through the whole season, and a final resolution made by the crew to perservere in their journey for as long as it takes. As Jammer said, the Delta Quadrant hadn't got much development yet at this point (just as the Gamma Quadrant hadn't got much development on DS9 at the end of its first season), but all in all I sincerely believe that Voyager had the best FIRST season of all the Trek series.
Rob in Michigan - Fri, Mar 5, 2010 - 1:50am (USA Central)
I would absolutely agree with "but all in all I sincerely believe that Voyager had the best FIRST season of all the Trek series".
Ken - Wed, Feb 2, 2011 - 9:49pm (USA Central)
I think the season overall was "okay", but the overall season was aimless.

There were even 2 times out of 16 episodes where the crew mistakenly does something wrong to an innocent life form.

The show didn't have much character. Only a few times where the maquis vs. starfleet conflict ever brought up. None of this was really explored like it could/should have been. It would have been nice to see conflicts and integration taking place over 16 or 20 episodes at least.

And I think Battlestar Galactica did the "stranded in space" and "trying to find home" bits a lot better. There was a lot of cohesion to BSG - none on this show.

The episodic format worked on TNG, because everything was fresh. A lot of the stuff on this season seems forced and a little hokey.
Byron Whaler - Wed, Feb 9, 2011 - 4:51am (USA Central)
i have to be reading these comments wrong you are saying that season one of voyager compares to and is better season one of TOS you are a out of your mind. maybe you actually need to watch season one of TOS it is far better in every way.
Nic - Fri, Feb 25, 2011 - 12:45pm (USA Central)
No, you didn't read wrong. I have watched every episode of TOS's first season and don't think it was as good as Voyager's. Of course, I can only make that judgement based on the entertainment I get out of it today in 2009. Star Trek TOS was without a ground-breaking series for its time, and there were a lot of episoeds I enjoyed. But the pacing was waaay too slow for my taste, and I was bothered by the bareley-hidden sexism.
Destructor - Sun, Mar 6, 2011 - 11:10pm (USA Central)
I just watched this last night and CALM DOWN, everyone. It's a comedy episode, and on that level, it works. I like it when there's not some grand trumped up threat, just some cheese (c'mon, who can't laugh at "Get this cheese to sickbay."?)

I thought it was a fun episode and fun way to end the season.
Carbetarian - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 9:43pm (USA Central)
@Will I cosign everything you wrote! That is exactly how I feel about Braga myself. I don't think he is everything that's wrong with Star Trek, or that he has never written good material. I just think he's arrogant, smug and totally out of touch with the show's audience. Just browsing through some of the background information on Voyager's first season on Memory Alpha is enough to make me completely agree with you.

@Nic I tend to agree with you about the sexism on TOS. I do generally enjoy the show, and I love the original crew. But, as a woman, sometimes those old episodes are a little hard for me to watch. The TOS movies were much better about treating women like equals.

I don't know about this episode. I kind of liked it. I laughed several times. BUT, I am really hating all these holodeck programs.

WTF is with Janeway's British nanny holonovel? Who wants to spend their spare time watching two Victorian brats? I mean, Janeway searched her brain for the activity she would most like to do in her downtime and came up with having her Latin skills insulted by a 9 year old? I question that.

Tom Paris's bar is less offensive to me. But, I don't particularly like that program either. I find myself hating it less as it shows up more often. But, something about it still feels totally cheesy and forced to me. It just feels too much like the writers sat down one day and said "TNG had poker, DS9 has darts... Let's do pool!". In fact, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what happened.

Still, this episode was generally pretty fun. I'd say this was a two or two and half star outing for me too.
Dan - Mon, May 23, 2011 - 12:18pm (USA Central)
I actually thought that this episode was very related to the Delta Quadrant premise of the show. It explores the idea of cabin fever among Maquis and Federation working together. They are forced into this relationship because they are stuck all the way out here in the Delta. Chakotay is used well in this respect and I especially enjoyed watching him whip the insubordinates into line. I do agree that they could have done a better job with Tuvok's role. His 'punishments' were overkill after Chakotay's intervention, and a missed opportunity for some interesting morality dilemmas: What to do with an insubordinate crew when you cannot simply throw them in the brig and still, they won't cooperate?
Laroquod - Sun, Jun 10, 2012 - 2:15pm (USA Central)
"It just feels too much like the writers sat down one day and said "TNG had poker, DS9 has darts... Let's do pool!". In fact, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what happened."

You've got that partially backwards. This episode wasn't the first appearance on VOY of the pool table and DS9 didn't do darts until season 3 -- so actually the pool-playing appeared on VOY before they ever played darts on DS9. In fact I read a production note at Memory Alpha for the first dart episode that said they purposely avoided pool because it had already been done on Voyager, so for better or worse the thought process you ascribe to the Voyager pool thing is actually a better description of the thought process that led to the DS9 dart thing.
Arachnea - Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - 8:09pm (USA Central)
There's good and bad in this episode.
Most of the good is the acknowledgement that:
1. Voyager is partially run by new bio-tech;
2. Any non-Starfleet people (wether they're Maquis or not)would have a hard time adapting to heavy protocols on a starfleet ship.

The comic factors - the doc practising his bedside manners on the biogel packs or the cheese - didn't bother me. What felt totally wrong was the captain assigning a Vulcan for a task best suited for a counsellor. The military boot-camp was so so wrong... If you seek respect, you don't make the rebels do what Tuvok made them do (I would have mutinied against Tuvok too !)

What came right was the simulation and the pool discussion.

What I mean is that those two points should have been more developped, but not in one episode only. It's a shame because the bits of character developpement we had so far were pretty good.
Ken DFW - Fri, Apr 5, 2013 - 2:19pm (USA Central)
I absolutely despise this episode. I've worked for someone who acted Tuvok in this episode, and it wasn't very long before I quit and went to work somewhere else where I would be treated with more respect.

This episode is an excellent example of what's wrong with this series. It's supposed to be different than all the others, and yet here we are, witnessing Tuvok's efforts in forcing everyone to follow the same Starfleet rules that they have. The only two options seem to be 1) join Starfleet or 2) go to the brig.

Let's assume the brig just isn't big enough. Well, why isn't it? Wasn't Voyager's original mission to track down the Maquis and apprehend them? Shouldn't the ship have a brig large enough for all those Maquis? If that's not the reason why you can't just throw everyone in the brig, then why not? The way Tuvok was treating the Maquis reminded me of the argonizer in the Mirror universe. Maybe if they had one of those, they wouldn't need a brig at all.

But back to the point. Why are these their only two options? Why not allow the Maquis to stay on board as civilians? Aren't there things that need to be done on the ship that can be handled by civilians? Or here's an idea - why not allow them to colonize an M-class planet that they find along the way? They could have stayed on that planet that had the 40,000 LY transporter. Or maybe Janeway could have allowed them to take Dr. Jetrel's ship that was left in the shuttle bay after the previous episode. Then they could go off on their own and have their own adventures. If this series is really supposed to be different, why not take some risks?
inline79 - Wed, Aug 14, 2013 - 6:37pm (USA Central)
This episode was an opportunity to show us how 24th Century Starfleet humans react when forced to deal with other humans who, basically, have bad, non-UFP attitudes. There's no need to criticise Tuvok's "Full Metal Jacket" style approach to the problem - it is a method that, from my own military experience, works. But it's the 24th Century... there must have been another alternative that could have been offered to these people like:
A. go through quasi-Academy training and get to wear the uniform.
B. skip the training, wear the Wesley Crusher boyscout jumpsuit, and go watch the plants grow in the hydroponic farm, etc.

So while I disagree with Jammer's take on Tuvok, I agree this was a lost opportunity. However, I do not consider it to be the "real" season finale as the production company intended 4 more episodes to follow for Season One. Somewhere the "Powers That Be" decided otherwise. For a late-season, low budget bottle-show, it was OK.
T'Paul - Wed, Sep 4, 2013 - 8:48am (USA Central)
Agree that this was a fairly solid first season in comparison with some of the other series.

I insist that there was more continuity than is commonly held.

I also add myself the "what the hell was that!" group of Janeway and her holonovel... obviously an idea that was abandoned halfway through.

But I strongly believe that the first season had none too wrong with it.
T'Paul - Wed, Sep 4, 2013 - 8:56am (USA Central)
I must add that this episode as far as Tuvok and the malcontents was entirely necessary and well thought-out as far as Maquis integration and Tuvok character development goes... it tells us that we're still in the first season and still integrating two groups together.

And as far as Tuvok's perhaps too harsh attitude, actually the episode does show us how he comes around a bit in the end, but I agree that he does have to be a bit of a hard-arse given the circumstances.

Doc and Kes and even Chakotay even grow a bit more in this one
Caine - Sun, Oct 13, 2013 - 10:42am (USA Central)
There's no season 1 recap, so I guess this is the best place to post my thoughts on the first season as a whole:


"Lost in space", 70-75 years from home, desperately trying to make their way back. Now THAT'S a real trek through the stars! None of that "to boldly go where no man has gone before - back and forth between already discovered planets" crap we see in TNG - here we have completely unchartered territory and an opportunity to really come up with some stuff that's completely different from what we've seen before! The fact that the crew is made up of two adversarial parties promises great dramatic conflict - excellent!

Best intro of all the trek series! Gorgeous visuals of Voayger cruisng through nebulas adn what have we, and a superb musical score! Really sets the mood leading into each episode!

Hands down the best character of the show! Making him a hologram was a great idea, and the writers pretty much use that idea to the fullest og it's potential. Robert Picardo is magnificent in that role! To me, The Doctor often saves an entire episode just by showing up in a few scenes.

THE BAD (I'll keep it to a minimum):

Um ... yeah. New and exciting stuff that we've never seen before? Guess again: recycling of a bunch of trek plots we've seen many times before .. sometimes to the point that they seem like remakes of TOS or TNG episodes. Drama and conflict between Maquis and Federation cre wmembers? No, not at all. The two crews are instantly integrated, Maquis even wearing Starfleet uniforms. The conflict is rarely touched upon in the story. But at least we get to know the characters, right? Well, sort of ... along the way. Every single character is introduced very haphazardly and then not really revisited during the first handfull of episodes. Sloppy characterization at best!

.. that you could drive a truck through. Sure, Star Trek shows have always had story elements that didn't really make sense - for example: why is every Federation officer who's NOT a main character on a show mute, incompetent and/or without any kind of initiative? But on Voyager, enormous, glaring plot holes that make no kind of sense are abundant beyond comprehension.

Many of the episodes have great potential, but never become truly exciting, thrilling or funny. We see lots of bad dialogue, slow or badly timed pacing, plot points explained in throw-away lines instead of shown ("I made Chakotay my first officer" Um ... okay, good to know), inexplicable decisions made by commanding officers ("Let's put the whole ship at risk for barely any reason at all, we haven't done that in two whole weeks!") ... and the list goes on, also including plot holes (see above). How could a show made by so many people have so many obvious flaws without anyone going "Hey, wait a second ..."?

Overall I find the show quite entertaining, but that's in spite of all it's huge flaws. To me, the premise (although very underutilized) and some of the characters/actors carry the show. The most deciding factor that makes me (usually) pretty much enjoy the show is that it's Star Trek - I'm such a big fan of TNG and DS9 that Voyager gets by in my book by having that Trekkian look and feel to it, that I know and lve from those shows.

I'm really hoping the writing on Voyager picks up in season 2 and forward!
inline79 - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 1:31am (USA Central)
Go Mr. Caine! You pretty much nailed it. Thanks ks!
This is our last taste of the 24th Century on TV so I'm also sucking it up (for better or worse) like you, albeit not at a season a week!
Travis - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 6:54pm (USA Central)
This was a great premise for an episode. In fact, the first couple seasons should have been full of stories like these. It pissed me off that the premise of the series was the combined crew striving to get home, but everyone was in uniform by the end of the first episode. Not all Maquis were Starfleet trained and no way would they all want to be back in uniform within a couple days of being in the Delta Quadrant. There should have been constant conflict amongst the crews and this episode should have been the 3rd or 4th, not at the end of the season.
Susan - Sun, Nov 10, 2013 - 9:33am (USA Central)
I just started watching Voyager and I definitely agree with some of your points, especially about not developing it's own lore. I think what they're doing with the holodeck is trying to copy Picard and Data in their outings of Picards crime novels and Datas Sherlock Holmes, but it's not working. As for the cheese infecting the ship, I think it was just that particular type of cheese he made, not all cheese, lol. Also wouldn't medical be the most protected area of the ship and the last, besides life support, to be affected? You could say no power no doctor, but also no power no life support. All in all though I'm really enjoying Voyager, much more than DS9 which I finally gave up on.
Ric - Fri, Mar 7, 2014 - 4:41am (USA Central)
My comment in the last episode's review was fairly in favor of season 1. And I repeat it: this was a very satisfactory first season, certainly the most consistente of all Trek's first season. And probably the second best season 1, just after TOS for me. Good premise and, actually, much more character development than any other season 1 in Trek shos, with the exception of DS9 of course, where the whole point was to have continuity throughout the show.

That said, I was chocked how weakly and poorly they ended this first season. This episode is really bad. Actually it is even childish: cheese? Really? And what about that small bag of neuro-technobabble gel? For god sake, hehehe... I don't think the idea was to make it a comic episode. There is not a comic tone whatsoever. I really think it was serious. And paradoxically, that is what made ​​the episode laughable.

But worse: training troops in a week? Soling everything is a snap, magically like in a sopa opera, just because Tuvok risked his life to save one of Maquis? Don't get me wrong, of course it should earn more respect from the Maquis people, but magically convince them that now they are going to follow rules? This was cartoonish.

Oh yes and what about this: one of the selected trainees was chosen because he is young and could have a good motivation if challenged. The other (the blue fellow) is so ridiculously dumb, so Já Jar Binks, a real comic relief, that it makes me think that if all the other possible choices were worse... well, then the Maquis were mere jokes. There is, however, more bad stuff: as Jammer has pointed out, a hologram that Works without energy or when all system fail can really be possible in this Voyager where holodecks Works with "a diferente energy". So stupid that is enfuriating to see any holo-scene on this show. These very pontless ones with the captain.... pff, just even worse.

Not to mention: what is the relevant stuff here for a season finale? Really nothing. Did writers run out of ideas? Gesus, this was really weak in comparison to the rest of this very good season. More: if this is the most consistente and one of the best season 1 I've seen in Trek, this episode is probably the worst season finale with exception of DS9's last episode of season 6 (which is better executed, but is atrocious to Star Trek as franchise).
Jammer - Fri, Mar 7, 2014 - 12:33pm (USA Central)
Worth noting: The first four episodes of season 2 were actually supposed to be the last four episodes of season 1, with "The 37s" being the season finale. For some production or scheduling reason, the eps, which were already produced, were held until the following fall for airing.
Ric - Fri, Mar 7, 2014 - 1:36pm (USA Central)
Jammer, thanks for the clarification. I have read something like that elsewhere, but in fact not mentioning it does not do justice to the show.

Even though, the decision to leave this episode as the last was really poor.
stallion - Wed, Apr 9, 2014 - 11:09am (USA Central)
While rewatching season one I skipped Time and Again, Ex Post Facto, Emantions, Cathexis, Jetrel, and Heores and Demons. I didn't skip those episodes because they were awful( I actually enjoyed a few of them) I just skipped them because it's disappointing to see Voyager have adventures that could had easily be done on TNG. If you skip those episodes Season one was pretty good.

The Recurring - Seska, Carey, and Durst made great recurring characters for season one. The Kazons and the Vidiians made great villians for the season. When it comes to scare factor I place the vidiians second with the borg being first.

If TNG had a rule that each episode must have a sci fi angle than Voyager obviously had a rule that each voyager episode must have an action adventure angle. At the time Voyager was airing UPN was advertising it network as an action adventure network with shows like Hercules, Seven Days, Xena, The Sentinel and so on. Voyager was probably presurre to go in that direction.

I like the main cast for the show. They were the reason I was able to stick with Voyager. Tom and Torres are two of my favorite characters.
Robert - Wed, Apr 9, 2014 - 2:53pm (USA Central)
Actually, I'd argue that several of the episodes you skipped couldn't have been successful on TNG.

I'm often quick to bash Voyager not staying true to it's premise... but Jetrel and Heroes and Demons actually do flesh out the premise pretty nicely. Jetrel gives nice back story to aliens that we met in the Delta Quadrant (so it's good for a bit of world/character building, especially in relation to one of our main characters) and Heroes and Demons especially keeps true to the premise of a character that can't leave an area with holoemitters going on his first away mission.

Sure they chuck THAT premise later, but this is good bit of "only doable on Voyager" that actually doesn't suffer from TNG squared (like later seasons do). Sure the episode is only a mediocre bit of writing, but Picardo sells the wonder of a "holograms first away mission" hard enough that I buy it.
HolographicAndrew - Fri, Jul 18, 2014 - 2:53am (USA Central)
I despise this episode a lot. "I guess if you can learn break the rules, we can learn to follow them." What is this, Leave it to Beaver?

Then you have this really odd shift in tone from a ridiculously silly episode to that one guy talking about how his lover got brutally murdered.

Maybe Trek can handle that dark subject matter, like it did with Neelix's planet, but definitely not in a corny episode like this. You don't put a line like "raped and murdered by Cardassians" in the same episode as "the ship is crippled by a block of cheese."

As far as season one goes, this has to be at the very bottom of my list.
Vylora - Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - 3:57pm (USA Central)
I like some of the concepts put forth here. The further insights into integration of the Maquis. Tuvok being placed in charge of them. The issues with the bio-neural gel packs. Unfortunately the execution of it all ranged from partially entertaining at its best to mostly banal at its worst. The dialogue in spots was cringeworthy which didn't help matters.

I realize this wasn't supposed to be the actual season finale, but that's what it ultimately became. Thus ends a very mixed first season on a slightly entertaining, yet disappointing, low note.

2 stars.
Skeptical - Thu, Nov 6, 2014 - 8:10pm (USA Central)
Here's what I don't get. Janeway decided to set up this school to help integrate the Maquis, to help them understand the reasons why Starfleet does things the way they do. Therefore, Tuvok decides to play the role of the nasty drill sergeant. Can anyone explain the logic behind this?

I'm not trying to tear down the idea of a nasty military drilling. It has its time and place. But I just don't see it here. After all, these are already reasonably well trained soldiers. They aren't newbies. They've already built up a comradery among themselves. And they didn't volunteer for this. I'm pretty sure making them run a marathon and clean the transporter room with a toothbrush isn't going to help anything.

Surely that isn't going to cause bonding and understanding of the Starfleet way!

I don't mind the idea of the episode, but I do complain about the execution. I like the idea that these Maquis weren't even being rebels or anything; they just didn't care to follow all of Starfleet's rules. Even the token antagonist was just trying to help by fixing the bag of goo or whatever. Perhaps they should have explored that more. Perhaps they should have had a show examining whether or not the stuffy rules (like uniform regulations) are important when 1/4 of the crew are essentially draftees. That would have been far more interesting than a show about the nasty drill sergeant and the hackneyed ending.

The more I watch Voyager, the more I wonder if the writers ever watched MASH. The premise is similar: a bunch of people stuck in a faraway land, alone and without the luxuries they are used to, forced to live together, and even a little bit of conflict between the draftees and the volunteers. Obviously there are differences too, but I think this show would have benefited by following the MASH model a bit. See, I'm probably the only person that doesn't mind that the Maquis tension thing got dropped relatively quickly; people are remarkably adaptable. But plots like this, that the Maquis can get along with Starfleet but still aren't completely Starfleet, should have continued. Seeing the same 140 people every day should have made the whole ship more relaxed, not still rigid and formal. Perhaps not as relaxed as the 4077, but there should have gradually been more comradery than was actually present.

Anyway, as for the season itself... I like Caine's summation (and I agree; this is probably the best opening sequence). However, I disagree that the premise was abandoned in the first season. Perhaps I'm alone in this, but I thought they handled the premise reasonably well. Other than Janeway's curiosity about spatial anomalies and the like, they did the lost in space theme and the Maquis theme throughout the season. This is a good example of it; showing the Maquis crew adapting reasonably well (no mutinies or resentments) but still not wanting to be 100% Starfleet. We also have Chakotay's struggles with how to look out for "his" crew as well as the overall crew. We had a few good scavenger episodes. We had an overarching theme to the season as well: Janeway's willingness to compromise. Should she bend the rules a bit in order to help them survive? We saw it in Caretaker, Prime Factors, and State of Flux. We also saw her wondering about how to act when unable to just throw troublemakers in the brig. She gave practically the same speech in Parallax and Phage, and the hardheaded ensign in this episode tried to use this to his advantage. So really, the show felt ok so far.

But I agree, storytelling problems are the biggest concern. Ever hear of Fridge Logic? It's when a show or movie or whatever seems to be logically consistent when you watch it, but afterwards (perhaps while thinking about it while rummaging through your fridge), you realize that stuff didn't really make sense. Well, Voyager skips the "afterwards" part; it's painfully obvious that the plot and characters don't make sense while the episode is ongoing. That Tuvok should not have started as a drill sergeant is obvious; and yet that is what he does. The Chakotay ghost should have tried to communicate in Cathexis. The magic mirror asteroid in Phage was just there to pad the episode.

And, of course, the science is a joke. They would have better luck just streaming random words together. I don't expect too much out of Trek, but these are laughably bad. Yes, TNG had episodes like Rascals and Genesis, but those were the exceptions, not the rules.

The other major problem with Voyager is Neelix. I didn't remember any strong feelings towards him when I watched the show 20 years ago, but I can see why people hate him now. Every scene he is in since Caretaker just oozes hatred. He is incredibly brash and uncouth towards everyone else. He has random temper tantrums and mood swings. His "relationship" feels more stalkerish than true love, as he is condescending towards Kes and absurdly protective of her. He butts in where he doesn't belong. In short, he really, really needs to be toned down.

So a rocky start, but honestly a pretty decent one. I found 6 of the 15 episodes to be at least pretty good. That's a better percentage than TNG's first season at least. At least we had State of Flux, which is by far the most entertaining episode so far.
Amanda - Mon, Dec 22, 2014 - 12:35am (USA Central)
I tried to like this. I tried to sympathize but gah, I didn't t like them!

stallion - Thu, Mar 26, 2015 - 2:25pm (USA Central)
My top Ten

The Caretaker - I understand that people have a problem with Janeway decision at the end which is understandable, but this episode was a great introduction. Voyager probably had the best pilot out of all of Trek.

Parallax - The character drama is good in this episode. It probably would had been better if they replaced the special analomy (excuse spelling) with something more fitting to it's premise like being attacked by space Pirate or something like that or they debate how much resources they can afford to share. Only the second episode in and the cast comes off likeable.

The Phage - A great introduction to a new bad guy. I personally place the vidiian under the Borg as the most terrifying villians into the franchise.

The Cloud - Go drama that goes into the premise. The Cloud being actually being a life form is to TNG for my taste, but it's work.

Eye Of the Needle.
Prime Factors
State of Flux.
Horoes and Demon - A nice stand alone character episode.
Learning Curves - It's not on the same level of Lower Deck and Good Sheppard, but still an effective episode.
Honorable mention goes to Emantion.

Seska, Durst and Carey made great recurring characters for season one.

Janeway - I like this version of Janeway better instead of the Mel Gibson type they will make her later on.
Chakotay - A nice mix of Riker and Kira.
Tuvok - Effective Character. I like his friendship with Janeway.
Tom Paris - One of my favorite character who they don't do much with in season one. I like his friendship with Harry.
Neelix - A like the idea of having a guide, but some of the comedic element is force.
Kes - Made a great nurse.
The Doctor - Break out star.
Torres - Another break out star.

Despite knowing that some of them will go on to be undeveloped I have to say the main cast came off well.

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