Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Distant Origin"


Air date: 4/30/1997
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I'll see you tonight. BYOB."
"Bring your own bat'leth."

— Tom and B'Elanna

Nutshell: Flawed and uneven, but reasonably decent. Good execution on the director's part, and an effective ending.

Based on yet another silly Voyager preview (boy am I sick of their bad, bad trailers) that not only advertised the episode as "special" (again), but also attempted to capitalize on the upcoming Jurassic Park sequel by using the title "LOST WORLD" in big block letters, I went into "Distant Origin" with some serious skepticism. Would this be an obligatory episode about "dinosaurs" just so it could capitalize on a hot marketing item? Fortunately, the answer is no; this episode managed to be pretty entertaining and dialog-oriented, and it was a pleasant surprise in many respects.

At the same time, I should also stress that "Distant Origin" was far from perfect, and had some notable flaws. For one, the basic premise is overblown to the point of near-absurdity. The episode also somewhat suffers from another problem: It doesn't seem completely certain what it wants to accomplish dramatically—at least not until near the end.

"Distant Origin" exemplifies the "uneven" outing—it ultimately tells a reasonable story, but it takes a while for it to get where it's going. By the time it reaches its destination, we realize that it's been a rough ride with drama all over the map—it feels cobbled together out of a bunch of different pieces.

Let's start with the somewhat overblown premise. This is yet another supposition by the Voyager writers that an "element of Earth" managed to make its way into the Delta Quadrant—and, further, that Voyager happens to encounter it. I'm willing to exercise "suspension of disbelief," but, come on—do the writers really need to be doing these "attention-grabbing surprise" stories so often? In "The 37's" we had kidnapped humans somehow brought to the Delta Quadrant by an evil race of aliens, and among these humans was Amelia Earhart, no less. In "Tattoo" we had a race of aliens that, by total coincidence, were the descendants of the ancestors of Chakotay's tribe. In "Unity" we had a colony of humans and other Alpha Quadrant races who used to be Borg but broke free of the collective and settled down in the Nechrid Expanse. Now we have "Distant Origin," an episode that tops all previous examples of the "element of Earth" with the idea that Earth's dinosaurs didn't go extinct—but that they evolved into sentient, intelligent beings who invented space travel and left the planet. Sound absurd? Excessive? What more could you expect from Braga and Menosky, the kings of high-concept weirdness?

Yet, in context, Braga and Menosky manage to make this surprisingly tolerable—and even engaging. When it comes down to the story they eventually tell, I still don't think they needed to reel us in with "Look! Dinosaurs!", but once the premise is laid out, it works surprisingly well, mostly because it chooses an effective character to follow.

That character is Gegen (Henry Woronicz), a scientist of the Voth people. Gegen's research of the "distant origin theory" suggests that the Voth migrated from a place elsewhere in the galaxy, and that their civilization was not founded on the world they now reside. (Naturally, Earth turns out to be this distant origin.) Gegen's discovers what may be corroborating evidence when he stumbles upon human skeletal remains and DNA from the planet where poor Ensign Hogan was eaten (see "Basics, Part II"). From here, Gegen, along with his assistant Veer (Christopher Liam Moore), embarks on the search for the rumored Starship Voyager, which may hold the answers to age-old questions. Interestingly, the first quarter or so of the episode takes place entirely from Gegen's point of view, which supplies the audience with a fresh perspective of the Voyager crew.

I liked the way the episode used past episodes as clues to aid in Gegen's research. The aforementioned acknowledgement to "Basics, Part II" worked pretty nicely, and the reference to "Fair Trade" was welcome, although I don't think it quite worked. (Unless I'm missing something, I don't recall Neelix giving anyone at that station warp plasma from the Voyager. He used some other plasma, all of which was expended in an explosion anyway.)

I also thought the way Gegen and Veer proceeded to investigate the starship Voyager once they had tracked it down was pretty cleverly executed. The phase-cloak technology seemed reasonable enough and consistent with Trekkian lore—some may remember that this technology was established as a Romulan experiment back in TNG's "The Next Phase."

The episode suddenly turns to action when the Voth officials decide they must "kidnap" the Voyager in order to hide what Gegen plans on revealing as the truth that supports his distant origin theory. There's a scene where the Voth capture the Voyager by beaming it inside their own city-ship. The episode then supplies an invasion sequence within the darkened interiors of Voyager. If there's one thing this sequence demonstrates, it's how the Voth's technology is far beyond anything the Voyager crew has encountered. (Although, I must admit that their "poison darts" are strangely primitive-seeming.)

The show's ending puts Gegen and his theories on trial; the Voth leader, Minister Odala (Concetta Tomei), charges him with heresy against "Doctrine," the Voth's fundamental dogma of values and beliefs. In a way, Gegen is in the same situation as was Galileo: His scientific truths are trapped by the boundaries of the contemporary ideology—an ideology firmly established, and interpreted by a current administrator unwilling to see change. Gegen's distant origin theory greatly bothers Minister Odala—she sees it as backward and wrong, and fears its implications on the Voth as a people. The message here (not so subtly conveyed, but conveyed well nonetheless) is the argument of progress versus tradition. As Chakotay explains in a Meaningful Speech Scene (but a nicely performed Meaningful Speech Scene), change is not easy, and it takes courage to be unconventional. Gegen is respectable because he seeks The Truth in his research. Minister Odala's way, on the other hand, of forcing Gegen into retracting his theory (threatening Gegen's freedom as well as the freedom of Voyager's crew) represents the fear of new ideas and the facet of society that maintains the status quo.

One troubling aspect of the episode is the question of how the Voth became the advanced civilization they have become, while relying on a dogma that embraces the status quo. I wouldn't call this a flaw in the story so much as an issue that raises some interesting questions.

I must also stress one thing that really helps the episode's cause: David Livingston's direction is absolutely first rate. At times, the atmosphere in "Distant Origin" is quite intense, using jarring close-ups, compelling low- and high-angle shots, dark lighting, and canted camera angles. The trial scene in particular is a technical standout of fresh photography, but pretty much the whole episode was shot effectively such that I took notice.

It's hard to believe that an episode that begins with a premise as weird as "The civilization that evolved from Earth's dinosaurs and traveled to the Delta Quadrant" can settle back into a respectable tale about the fear of progress and change—but this is exactly what "Distant Origin" does. The episode's story events ultimately do fit together in the long run, even if they don't work very well in the short run. And even though it doesn't do much to offer insight to any of the regular characters, the show does paint Gegen quite well. And even though the premise is outlandish, the final story being told is reasonable. Figuring Livingston's atmospheric direction into the equation, I'm going to give "Distant Origin" a slightly generous three stars. This episode is one of the best-produced so-so episodes that Voyager has yet come up with.

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Next episode: Displaced

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38 comments on this review

mlk - Mon, Dec 24, 2007 - 7:19pm (USA Central)
Shouldn't the Voy crew wonder why the 'aliens' look exactly like humans?
mlk - Mon, Dec 24, 2007 - 7:20pm (USA Central)
Darn nevermind that comment it was for another episode
Jayson - Fri, Jun 27, 2008 - 11:56pm (USA Central)
For me Voyager was either hit or miss, mostly miss but in this case it was a hit. I think the story was a good because it seems to be commenting on the debate between Intelligent Design and Evolution or any debate that involves faith vs reason & logic.

Too bad VOY couldn't pull more of these shows up with maybe the exception of 11:59.

EP - Sat, Feb 21, 2009 - 4:09am (USA Central)
Produced very competently, but the basic premise is lifted from TNG's "First Contact." Still, it deserves much praise for being better than some of the dreck that VOY manages to make.
Elias - Mon, Jun 15, 2009 - 11:19pm (USA Central)
I think what you're all missing are the following 2 points:

1. I think this may be a sci-fi homage of sorts to the legend of Atlantis. I forgot where but I've read other stories (all fiction) where such a proposal was put forth: that the Atlantians were so advanced, they were capable of space travel.

2. There have been suggestions at times that certain dinosaurs "could" have evolved into sentient and intelligent beings. Jurassic Park 3 even suggests something of that sort iirc in reference to the Velociraptor.

A bit absurd? Sure...but no more than warp drive or transporters or replicators. Or even time travel. Come on, it's a sci-fi show, dare to dream a little.
Kev - Thu, Sep 3, 2009 - 4:42pm (USA Central)
It seems to me that the whole idea of the Voth having evolved on earth and inventing space travel was nothing more then conjecture on Chakotay's part. It seems beyond ridiculous that no trace of this civilisation was ever found on earth, even if you accept the implausible explanation that the Voth confined themselves to a single region of the plant.

I would prefer to think that was just one of many possible theories, and something that just occured to Chakotay at the time as a quick solution to the question. It seems far more likely that the Voth were taken from Earth whilst they were still "dinosaurs" by some advanced race of the time, perhaps for display in some ancient alien zoo. Cliché? While I could do without another tale of aliens abducting earthlings, its far more likely than Chakotay's idea.
fortyseven - Thu, Nov 26, 2009 - 4:41am (USA Central)
What killed this episode for me was its ludicrous depiction of evolution. In fact they make the same elementary school mistake that we were already subjected to in TNG's The Chase.

On the holodeck they contended that one can extrapolate what evolution would do to an organism over a period of many millions of years. However, this is impossible as one cannot foresee what random mutations will occur in any given genotype over time. In addition, it is also impossible to foresee which given mutations will be ultimately selected for as this depends on entirely random events in the environment. This episode supports the common lay misconception that evolution aims for specific designs, like intelligence or upright posture. However, evolution is fundamentally aimless. Anyone with the most rudimentary grasp of biology knows this.

This begs the question how dumb is Joe Menosky, as he wrote both The Chase and Distant Origin? Did this guy ever go to school? It almost seems as if he is on an agenda to unify evolution with intelligent design or something crazy like that.
John Pate - Thu, Jan 7, 2010 - 3:40am (USA Central)
"fortyseven" needs to do some more reading - for instance, some of Wolfram's stuff on cellular automata, then reflect on the fact that Voyager's computer core runs faster-than-light in a warp bubble. (A process can be unpredictable and yet deterministic.) In this particular case, the computer also had the data taken from the Voth specimen they had - and who knows what else other extra. Note also that in the Trekverse, The Chase is canonical, therefore Voyager's computer is using that as the basis of its analysis. Amongst all the implausibilities and impossibilities of Trek Science, given they're actually being consistent in their logic here, IMNSVHO it is bizarre to suggest this is a plot hole.

I found the episode engaging. The Voth prosthetics were great and the actors did well with it. One of Trek's better efforts.

The major logic flaw in plot terms is that the Voth, it would seem, have tech far in advance of even the Borg (Voyager weaponry and Treknobabble was dispensed with as a trifle). And, specially given the improved performance of Transwarp tech and the friendly Voth scientist who hung around with them at the end, one might have expected Voyager to benefit a great deal more from the encounter than transpired in the story.
Elliott - Fri, Aug 27, 2010 - 8:27pm (USA Central)
1 comment : I think you glided over the main point of the episode; the change versus tradition is actually secondary. The Trekkian idea here is that what makes Voyager, the Federation and humanity advanced in the 23rd/24th centuries is its ideology, not its technology. As purported rather successfully in early TNG and almost mutilated in DS9, humanity's accomplishments are in its having overcome what most cynics would label as inherent and inescapable (negative) qualities of its own design. The whole point of the dinosaur/evolution theme is to demonstrate just what evolution really means. The Voth are millions of years farther into their sentience than humans, but never stepped out of their own Mediæval world-view (an analogy maybe, maybe??...heavy-handed sure, but that's sci-fi :)).
Nic - Wed, Dec 8, 2010 - 10:01am (USA Central)
[I apologize in advance for the length of my post.]

This is my SINGLE favourite episode of Voyager, and one of my favourite episodes of Star Trek ever produced (and I've heard that Michael Piller thought so too). Everything was absolutely stellar: script, acting, make-up, directing. For a species that appeared only once, a lot of thought went into the design of the Voth – the cool needles, the protective hibernation, the fly-eating, the sense of smell, etc. It makes them seem more real and, ironically, alien.

As you mentioned, starting the episode from Gegen’s perspective gave us a fresh change of pace, and for once used interesting continuity from previous episodes. I also thought the invasion scene was very nicely done. Here is a species that is definitely more technologically advanced then we have ever seen are truly unbeatable (unlike the Borg or the Dominion).

The final act is a tour-de-force of powerful dialogue and commentary on contemporary issues with perfect execution. In a way, this isn’t just about Galileo, but also Copernicus and Darwin and all the other scientists who faced adversity because their discoveries contradicted the beliefs of the time, a problem we still encounter today, unfortunately. Chakotay’s defence of the Voth’s plight is particularly poignant, seeing as he comes from a tribe that is very proud of their heritage. I have always found social commentary to be the most effective use of his character (following on “Unity” and continuing through “Scorpion”, “Nemesis” and others). And then comes the moment of true sacrifice where Gegen (who is essentially the protagonist of this story) is obviously willing to give up his own life for his beliefs, but realizes he cannot give up the lives of others. Truly tragic stuff.

The only other episode I can think of that deals with this issue is DS9's "In the Hands of the Prophets", but in that episode the issue was kind of secondary to the assassin-plot machinations. Here it takes the center stage, and so it should.
Destructor - Mon, Jun 20, 2011 - 12:31am (USA Central)
I can forgive the 'coincidence' of Voyager encountering the Saurians because it wasn't coincidence- the Saurians sought them out, over great distances. Being annoyed at that is like marveling at the coincidence of a google search bringing up the thing you were looking for.

Anyway, rad ep.
Steven - Sat, Jul 23, 2011 - 8:03pm (USA Central)
I loved the philosophy of this episode, but the science is inconsistent with the Trek Universe.

Some on this post have mentioned similarities between Distant Origin and TNG's The Chase. However, these two episodes are contradictory. The Chase introduced a Panspermia-style explanation for the fact that so many Milky Way intelligent races look humanoid. They were all "seeded" by the genome of an ancient parent race. This also explained their similar DNA, a necessary explanation for characters like B'Elanna Torres, a Klingon-Human hybrid.

Contradicting this, the saurians of Distant Origin find no common genetic markers between the humanoid races in the quadrant. Only with humans do they find a very distant evolutionary tie.

According to The Chase, all humanoids share a common genetic make-up - enough to intermarry in many cases. According to Distant Origin, most humanoids do not share common genetics - and those that do, necessarily evolve on the same planet.
Jay - Sat, Oct 15, 2011 - 10:01pm (USA Central)
The fail of the Panspermia notion presented in "The Chase" is that, if not for the Chicxulub impact, a humanoid race (presumably meaning mammalian) wouldn't be the preeminent species that developed on Earth. Unless we assume that the seeding was done after that impact, which would seem to run counter to what was being attempted by that ancient race.
Elliott - Mon, Oct 31, 2011 - 9:01pm (USA Central)
Oh, and by the way, "gegen" in German means "against." I doubt that's a coincidence.

Another example of the reviewer's misunderstanding of the meaning of the word "premise"--the evolution/dinosaur theme/idea is not the premise, it's the means by which the premise is proved. The premise is more or less what I stated in my previous post, that "evolved" has less to do with technology or abilities or grandeur and more to do with ideals and one's loyalty to them.

When the premise is engaging and strong (as it is here, otherwise the final act would have nothing to say), the means to that end are all but irrelevant. What the means happen to be in this episode 1) draw attention to the theme of evolution, naturally, and 2) give the executors of the script license to have some fun which we can all appreciate.

Where you saw "hey, look dinosaurs", I saw a scripting veneer which reflected the deeper themes of the episode.

I feel I must point out the arbitrary bias in the language of your Voyager reviews as well. You point out the "Meaningful Speech Scene" regarding Chakotay--why wasn't the same cynical label given to Eddington's speech in "For the Cause"? It's the same affect for the same purpose (dramatically speaking) and even comes at about the same point in the episode. Yet, there you treat it like a totally fresh and uncontrived device. This is unfair.

This is a 4-star episode which could reasonably be docked half a star for the capture-the-ship scene which totally loses momentum (albeit briefly).
Elliott - Mon, Oct 31, 2011 - 10:30pm (USA Central)
Last comment : The plasma canister came from negotiations with the Tic Tacs in "Macrocosm", not from "Fair Trade"--although, i'm reasonably certain that the latter episode's prop was a reüse.
Nathan - Wed, Nov 2, 2011 - 8:54pm (USA Central)
I remember seeing this when it first aired (as Jammer did) and the preview from the previous week was "hey look, dinosaurs". That made it rather hard to go into the episode expecting anything else.
Ken - Wed, Nov 9, 2011 - 4:56pm (USA Central)
This is a very good episode. Chakotey's speech at the end was both very well written, and well-acted. I wish he got more air-time like this throughout the series.

For once, it's nice to see an episode that doesn't start with absolutely indispensable crew members in shuttle crafts in dangerous parts of space while being out of Voyager's com-range.

Or it's nice that the episode didn't start by their scanners detecting some silly iron or other such non-important detail.

Or it's nice that the episode didn't start by the crew doing something that is obviously a waste of time.
Jay - Wed, Feb 1, 2012 - 1:42pm (USA Central)
If dinosaurs invented space travel, presumably there would be lots more interesting (and technological) stuff buried deep under the soil form that era than bones.
Justin - Tue, Apr 3, 2012 - 6:01pm (USA Central)
I agree with the review. It was superbly executed and mostly satisfying episode. The dialogue was excellent, Gegen was an extremely well conceived character, The City-Ship was literally awesome, and Chakotay's speech at the end was top notch. But why, oh why did the Voth have to be the progeny of dinosaurs who "left" Earth and yet left no traces of their sentient existence behind?

Seriously??? I swear Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky just aren't happy with a script until it strains credulity to its breaking point.

Couldn't they have just made the Voth's "distant origin" be simply somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant? Distant relatives of...I don't know, the Saurians who invented Saurian Brandy or something? Or the Gorn?

The truly important part of the story was that it was, more or less, an allegory of the Galileo trial, which was as worthy a Star Trek idea as they come. It would have worked no matter where the Voth's true "distant origin" actually was. But they just HAD to have dinos didn't they? This episode could have been a true classic if it weren't for that.

Braga is quoted as having said he thought the dinosaur angle was "a neat science fiction idea." Maybe so, but it wasn't a neat Star Trek idea.
Justin - Wed, Apr 4, 2012 - 2:47pm (USA Central)
You know what? I watched it again with my kids last night and I've changed my mind. It is a true classic. The story's so good that it manages to transcend the implausible (but just barely). And sometimes I need to remind myself that when a show like this manages to spark so much conversation and difference of opinion, it ultimately does what it sets out to do - it entertains. I had a similar change of heart after I watched the movie "Magnolia" for the second time.

And for what it's worth, my kids loooooved the dinos.
Chris - Sun, Oct 28, 2012 - 11:46pm (USA Central)
Expanding on what John Pate said...the Voth did indeed seem to have immense technology, and would seem a prime target for Borg assimilation, especially residing in the DQ. Perhaps the Voth are so powerful that resistance isn't futile.
Scifiaddict86 - Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - 12:39am (USA Central)
Its funny watching this how many levels the allegory works. Re-watching now Odala reminded me of ignorant white folks who claim to be "real americans" not like those illegals. Never mind that most americans are immigrants themselves. The way she says "refugee" like a dirty word reminds me of real world prejudices against those who move into a new area.
Galeus - Thu, Mar 14, 2013 - 1:18am (USA Central)
@Scifiaddict86 - Exactly my thoughts. Which also makes the fact that Chakotay is the one to speak at the hearing rather poignant when you think about it.
Jo Jo Meastro - Sun, Apr 7, 2013 - 12:01pm (USA Central)
This episode has elements which very much reminds me of the 1960s' Planet of the Apes with the themes of absolute doctrine versus challenging new ideas and how much process can be feared when we leave the comfort of ignorance.

Distant Origin was a call-back to classic science fiction and I loved it, skillfully done. 3.5/4
Chuck AzEee! - Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - 5:41pm (USA Central)
I am coming at this episode from a fresh perspective, as i have just viewed it for the very first time. This episode it nearing a "Four" star classic from me, but like one of the commenters mentioned, that the Voth have technology that not even the Borg possess, yet they do not seem like a hostile race of beings. Anyway, the story was extremely well written and perhaps one of the finer moments related to the Voyager series.
Lt. Yarko - Wed, Jun 19, 2013 - 5:13am (USA Central)
Definitely a great episode. I love that it starts with the alien perspective and doesn't get to Voyager until quite late in the show. Such a fresh take on Trek story telling.

And, the delivery of the message was top notch which far outweighed any problems I had with the execution and story logic.
Jos10 - Tue, Aug 20, 2013 - 6:13pm (USA Central)
I saw this first the first time. Loved the Voth perspective. One of the best Trek episodes I have seen. I can't really think of a weakness from a Sci-Fi or Trek perspective. It was superb. I think Jammer must have been influenced by the preview too much and how much he hated it. He came from a 'bad' place and it improved. I believe if he came from a 'neutral' place, it would be a 4 star episode.

The Voth seemed like the advanced culture that they were. Not deaths but detentions. The threats were based on 'losing' honors, position, or prestige.

4/4 stars for me. One of the most thoughtful and socio-philosophical episodes I've seen on Trek.
T'Paul - Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - 5:49pm (USA Central)
Totally, scifiaddict86 & Galeus...

A favorite of mine too.
Looper - Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - 2:36pm (USA Central)
Ironically, the only thing that really bothered me is not the sci-fi dinosaur stuff (which I enjoyed a lot), but the Minister's ultimate stubbornness. After Chakotay's speech, I was kind of relieved, I thought it would somehow open the Minister's mind to "reevaluate". But no. However, I do understand the point they were trying to make, that some indoctrinated people (in real life) will --willingly-- discard logical evidence and common sense that contradict their irrational beliefs even though you shove the proof right in their faces.
Josh - Sun, Oct 27, 2013 - 4:58pm (USA Central)
Really? I don't discount the persuasiveness of Chakotay's argument, but I think that it would have been much less convincing for the Minister to set aside for years of beliefs and "doctrine" after a 2-minute speech, however eloquently delivered.
Paul - Tue, Dec 3, 2013 - 8:36am (USA Central)
I always thought this episode was underrated in Voyager's run. It's something that really could have been straight out of TOS or TNG -- Kirk, Spock, Bones or Picard in Chakotay's role would have really been interesting -- and I generally liked the way different characters were utilized.

I'll grant Jammer's point that the "piece of Earth" thing was overdone in Voyager. But, then, it was overdone in just about every series, except maybe DS9. Granted, Voyager's farther from Earth than the other vessels, but I didn't find this episode crazier than Kirk finding "20th century Rome", or Picard finding a group of aliens going back in time to 19th-century Earth to suck the life energy out of humans.

If Voyager had been more like this episode, it would have been a much stronger series. This was generally engaging, and the aliens weren't just hard-headed guys who had slight makeup and fired on the ship.
Ric - Sat, Apr 12, 2014 - 9:15am (USA Central)
Jammer was quite accurate to point that Voyager has played this card of "an element of Earth in the Delta Quadrant" way too often. Not to mention that Trek in general has abused the idea of alien connections with past Earth. It is starting to get childish. Sure, in what regards execution this episode is one of the best approaches to that theme in the whole Trek. But still, it feels really repetitive.

Discounting that and the cartoonish idea of the aliens being evolved dinossaurs... well, the execution of the episode was excelente. Almost perfect, for my taste. The way the episode starts is quite amuzing and, actually, as soon as I saw the show keeping a while without even showing Voyager, I felt sort of a breath of fresh air.

The premise was very powerful as well. And talking about that, I certainly agree with Elliot that it was not about tradition versus change. Of course not, this was quite superficial. The subtle debate about what it really means to evolve as a civilization was way deeper.

Also, the way the episode ended was really really good. Reminded me of the best episodes of DS9, which I was missing.

In the end, if one discounts the major crucial problems of "element of Earth" and "dinossaurs", this one easily desserves at least a 9/10 score. Not discounting, it drops to at most 7/10.
kapages - Wed, Jun 18, 2014 - 3:31am (USA Central)
The review seems biased. The episode beats at least half of the 4 star episodes of DSP, and 80% of 4 stars from TNG reviews.
Anyway, although I like the jammer reviews for other St series, for voyager I visit this page to read the comments regarding the reviews, not the reviews themselves.
Robert - Wed, Jun 18, 2014 - 8:34am (USA Central)
@kapages - Your mileage may vary, but considering the POINT of VOY was to explore the OTHER parts of the galaxy people are justified in having VOY lose a half star anytime they encounter things we've seen in the alpha quadrant. And a whole star if it HAPPENS to be from Earth of all places.

Your mileage may vary, but I ding most episodes on those grounds.

Exceptions -
1) Eye of the Needle - This was interesting enough and the show hadn't retreaded the Gilligan's island theme bad enough yet to cost it.

2) False Profits - Considering TNG sent these guys to the Delta quadrant, I'll forgive VOY here. That doesn't make the episode good, but it doesn't get auto dinged.

3) Anything with the Borg, since they come from the Delta quadrant.

4) The Barclay episodes, because contacting the Alpha Quadrant is different than finding random things from it.

Although I actually think this episode is good enough to soften me a bit on the full star ding. I'll give it 3.5. It's gotta lose SOMETHING for encountering aliens that have visited Earth three times in 2 seasons (Tattoo, The 37's and Distant Origin). You can feel free to disagree, but absurdity loses points in my book.
Vylora - Tue, Aug 26, 2014 - 10:09pm (USA Central)
Absolutely incredible episode that mirrors the seemingly eternal struggle of holding illogically and stubbornly fast to tradition despite the reality of any given situation. Great direction and pacing with some of the best technical work on Voyager. Believable performances across the board by the guest cast and one of the best Chakotay scenes ever written.

The idea of Voyager running into yet another race or whatever from the Alpha Quadrant here is a complete non-issue. For one thing, Voth space is apparently vast. For another thing, Gegen and his assistant had been actively searching for Voyager at trans-warp speeds.

Also, the idea of the Voth evolving on our planet, developing space travel, and escaping before a cataclysmic event is a bit of a stretch, but not any more than anything else in sci-fi and Star Trek. I thought it to be quite a neat idea when it came down to it.

As it stands, I honestly believe this is hands down a classic.

4 stars.
Zaphod - Wed, Sep 3, 2014 - 7:25am (USA Central)
This episode is my favorite of Star Trek Voyager. I have watched it 3 times and it only gets better every time.
navamske - Wed, Oct 1, 2014 - 7:56pm (USA Central)
There might be an interesting parallel here, if one wants to see it, that would make Chakotay's role in the story particularly ironic. The Voths' "doctrine" says that their origins are in the Delta Quadrant, that they are not "immigrants," whereas the scientific data point to an origin in the Alpha Quadrant. The parallel is that according to some of their oral histories, some Native Americans have been living on the North American continent since their genesis; however, genetic and linguistic data connect the "native" people of North America with ancient northeast Asians who migrated across what is now the Bering Strait when Asia and what is now Alaska were connected by a land bridge.
Peremensoe - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 1:55pm (USA Central)
Don't many cultures have origin myths that claim that they have "always" been in such-and-such place?

In a sense, some of them at least are not wrong. The ancient ancestors of Native Americans were migrants from Asia, sure--and as for all humans, their still-more-ancient ancestors were Africans.

But specific Native American nations certainly are native to the Americas, in that the divergence that made them distinct happened well after the Bering crossing. No creator god put the Lakota on the North American plains, but the Lakota have never been anywhere else.

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