Star Trek: Voyager



Air date: 10/14/1998
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Nihiliphobia—the fear of nothingness. Or in layman's terms, the fear of ... nothingness." — Doc

Nutshell: A reasonable start to the season, but with a few too many drawbacks.

Voyager's season five premiere, "Night," is like a seesaw, where on one side we have elements of promise and originality, and on the other we have the familiar frustrations. Which side wins out? I'm not exactly sure. I'm inclined to call it a draw.

An episode like "Night" reveals a duality that exists within much of starship-based Trek. One half of this duality allows me to be interested in where these characters are going next, because sci-fi's possibilities are so broad. But with the other half, I realize that, in creative terms, they've probably already been where they're headed. It's a duality that makes me wonder how long a Trek series can last without striving to break the conventions of formula—which in turn makes me wonder how fatal a mistake it was for Voyager to ignore the more consequential implications of its setting way back when the long-lasting standards were being set.

What's funny is that DS9 seems strangely immune to this Trek duality because its format these days is so labyrinthine, unpredictable, and particularly mindful of its own history. I'm not trying to go out of way to say "DS9 good, Voyager bad"—what I'm saying is that Voyager continues to come off as a new breed of TOS, whereas DS9 comes off as a breed of its own. (Sometimes I wonder where we'd be if DS9 had turned to exploring the Gamma Quadrant in TNG style rather than exploring its political and metaphysical powers within a war setting.)

Anyway, back to the point here: For me, a lot of "Night" was an example of utilizing the standard Trek formula, but also an example of how to use Voyager's elements well. The original point of this series was that the ship and crew were alone. But the ship has never really been alone; they've always been in contact with some alien species, or as Janeway puts it, "constantly under attack."

In "Night," Voyager is travelling through a void where there's nothing—no stars, no civilizations, no light. Just the starship Voyager, out there alone for two months now, with no expectations for encountering another star system or alien ship for another two years. "Every sailor's worst nightmare," Chakotay says ominously.

The psychological aspects of the episode are its most compelling. An early shot of the ship is eerie, with no stars visible anywhere—the only light emanating from Voyager itself. It's quite a striking visual. Later, a panicking Neelix wakes up in the middle of the night, looks out his window, and sees … absolutely nothing. It's like looking into the depths of literal oblivion.

The effect this all has on the crew is believable and interesting. Everyone is a little on-edge. Neelix's panic attacks provide the most immediately effective example. And even Tuvok looks mysteriously at stars on the astrometrics lab viewscreen, almost as if for comfort, as he comments to Seven that the view from his window "has been less than stellar lately." (If that isn't the Vulcan pun to end all puns, then I don't know what is.)

The Tom/B'Elanna bickering, however, didn't do all that much for me. Is seemed pretty standard and tired, and Tom's jokes resided on the not-so-funny-but-just-plain-insulting side. (His mention of Klingon pain sticks seemed especially inappropriate. For one, B'Elanna has never "enjoyed" such activities; for another, the comment is, well, stereotypical.) Overall, though, the idea of Voyager in darkness is probably the highlight of the episode.

There are some other good ideas in "Night." Beyond the isolation setting, there's also the new "Captain Proton" holonovel—Paris' fantasy program that pays homage to those cheap 1940s sci-fi serials. It's a scream. (Besides, how can you not like a holodeck program that's offered in black-and-white?) We seem to go through approximately one holodeck theme per year, ranging from the French pool hall, Janeway's Victorian novel, Neelix's resort, to Leonardo da Vinci's workshop. "Captain Proton" easily has the potential of being the most fun if the writers can keep it interesting.

Meanwhile, through the early stages of the episode, I kept asking myself, "Where's the captain?" Chakotay's on the bridge; no Janeway. Staff meeting is run by Chakotay; no Janeway. The crew asks for the captain; Chakotay responds, "The captain sends her regards." Where is she and what's going on?

A good question, but the answer isn't quite what I had in mind. The biggest problem with "Night" is probably this aspect of the story—and unfortunately, it pretty much brings the emotional core of the episode tumbling down with it.

There's always been plenty of potential for Janeway to wrestle with controversial decisions she has made over the years, the most obvious one, as in this case, being her original decision to destroy the Caretaker's array and leave Voyager stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Fine and good, but I have some severe problems with the way Janeway goes about "dealing" with this guilt here.

In short, I find Janeway's actions a little inexplicable. As Chakotay rightly puts it, "You've picked a bad time to isolate yourself from the crew"—and I personally don't think this demonstrates Janeway being a good leader. Sure, I can understand her guilt catching up with her given the current predicament of being out in the middle of a dark, empty void. But for her to simply make herself unavailable, telling Chakotay to "send the crew her regards" is questionable behavior at best—and selfish and out of character at worst. Even when her flaws are at their most evident, Janeway has always been one who maintains confidence in the decisions she makes, and I find the notion of locking herself in a darkened room to be something of a plausibility stretch and a bit silly.

Objections to Janeway's course of action aside, I also feel the "guilt issue" falls severely short of what it could've been dramatically. Why not press it further? Chakotay's attempt, for example, to comfort the captain with, "We're alive, aren't we?" should've opened the door to an entire conversation, but didn't. Just once I'd like to see all those unnamed Voyager crew members who have died over the past four years receive some sort of acknowledgement. Even having Janeway counter with a well-played, "What about those who aren't with us anymore?" could've gone a long way. But such crew members simply vanish into the convenience of "red-shirt oblivion" (despite the fact that Janeway, unlike Captain Kirk, doesn't have the luxury of setting course for the nearest starbase to take on new crew members).

Fortunately, once the episode launches into action, Janeway resumes her rightful place on the bridge. And as far as New Alien Encounters go, this week was fairly fresh. Not groundbreaking, but effective.

Over the summer, Brannon Braga voiced the writing staff's intention to "push the envelope" of alien encounters this year. While this is an attitude that should've arisen the moment Voyager found itself in the Delta Quadrant when the series began, I'm all for the concept of "better late than never," and it's a completely prudent measure to take at this stage of the game, where it's obvious that the goal of the series is to be "TOS in the Delta Quadrant." So on this front, the idea of aliens who live out in the middle of "nowhere" and thrive on darkness is a perfectly workable idea.

That's not to say that the plot is particularly imaginative; it's essentially the TOS attitude with a '90s spin, the theme that seemed to be the goal of much of Voyager's fourth season. For the most part, it's fine here. We have the bizarre aliens who live in the dark and attack Voyager. And then, in perfect TOS fashion, we learn that peace and conflict come in unlikely packages (the reverse of what we initially assume); the dark-habitat aliens are actually the peaceful group (who made a mistake when attacking Voyager) at the mercy of the alien visitor who had earlier come to Voyager's rescue when it was under attack. The formula then follows that Janeway & Co. must get involved to do the right thing, which is made particularly easy when it turns out the visiting alien to this realm is literally dumping toxic waste, which is killing the peaceful aliens who live in the darkness.

This is classic Trekkian morality—not particularly challenging, but nice nonetheless. And conceptually, Michael Westmore's makeup design delivers on the "strange and unusual" level. Ultimately, Janeway's decision to open fire on the toxic waste dumper when he refuses to listen to reason displays a very Kirk-like attitude. Funny how the cycles repeat themselves.

Turning back to problems, however, is the silliest moment of the show—a crucial decision that is much too easily plotted around. I'm referring of course to Janeway's decision to make sure Voyager escapes through a spatial vortex that exits the void on the other side. Her decision requires that she stay behind and collapse the vortex after Voyager has passed through it. But her crew won't let her make this sacrifice. They refuse to follow the given order, and as a result Janeway essentially folds and says, "Fine, then—Plan B." Plan B requires that no one make any sacrifice; instead, the ship must be put in some sort of artificial technobabble jeopardy for 90 or so seconds (accompanied by a battle sequence and nifty special effects).

This is the flaw that keeps the episode from being worth a recommendation. I enjoyed this show okay as an action outing, but when the central character core becomes virtually a non-issue solved with a laughably thin plot device, it becomes hard to get much out of the show in terms of dramatic payoff. Besides, given how much danger the ship is put through week after week, I don't see why Plan B wasn't just Plan A in the first place.

As a season premiere, "Night" manages both to entertain and to frustrate. The teaser and first act are wonderfully engaging, but then the show slowly descends into reasonable action and ultimately resigns itself to shallow solutions, which is a shame. Within this episode I see elements that could turn out to be the beginnings of some very good trends, but I also see some of the same old pratfalls and the series' general refusal to tell a story requiring any length of an attention span.

Next week: Beware—baby Borg becomes big, bad burden.

Previous episode: Hope and Fear
Next episode: Drone

◄ Season Index

67 comments on this review

Dirk Hartmann
Fri, May 9, 2008, 4:05am (UTC -5)
I would have preferred the episode staying in claustrophobic night mode and "nothingness" until the end (=no story involving aliens etc). This would have been a perfect scenario for more in-depth character development. Could have been a winner.
The other thing that bothered me was Janeway acting out ouf character by isolating herself.
Wed, May 6, 2009, 5:54am (UTC -5)
Excellent episode that was unfortunately detracted by Janeway's silly attempt at self-sacrifice. It's a shame they didn't stretch Voyager's tour through the Void across several episodes.
Sat, Jul 25, 2009, 5:10am (UTC -5)
Agree with my two predecessors, but nevertheless: One of my favorite shows of the whole series. Considering what happened at the end of season 4 I found Janeway's conduct absolutly believable and well acted!
Sat, Sep 5, 2009, 12:31am (UTC -5)
They must have loved this empty region of space, because they found another one like it in Season 7.
AJ Krovarkrian
Wed, Sep 23, 2009, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Alright. I like this episode because it has some variety, but I agree that the whole Janeway wanting to sacrifice herself was probably the silliest thing, and was done purely for emotional exploitation. I do like the role Chakotay plays though. And of course the magic deflector always comes to the rescue. It can do anything apparently.

And I still have a problem with their destroying that vortex. Who gave them the right to do so ? It would have been much more interesting to see them make the first contact with the Melon homeworld, because frankly that judgement that Janeway made based solely on ONE corrupt Melon they had just met, was highly illogical to put it mildly. And I would really like to have seen a real big Delta quadrant civilization.
Tue, Nov 10, 2009, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode, but I couldn't help but wonder: How can the aliens possibly live this far away from any stars? Where do they get their energy?
Oh! Dear God!
Fri, Nov 20, 2009, 7:20am (UTC -5)
The musical peice Harry was playing should have been called: "Echoes of an idiot"!
Sun, Jan 10, 2010, 3:11am (UTC -5)
I'm also willing to overlook this episode's weak points, the worst one for me being that hopelessly obvious escape down the tube... er... vortex... and out of the void. The plot framework felt inventive enough, the eye candy was impressive, and the dialogue was sharp. The crew's unease set up some excellent moments (Tuvok and Chakotay, and Seven in the holodeck).

As usual I think Jammer was right on the money with most of the analysis. But I didn't have much of a problem with Janeway's actions. She was never written to be quite as ruthless as her decisions suggest her to be, and by this point in the series it was past time for her to do some soul searching, even if it wasn't going to drastically alter the show on a larger scale. Even a half-hearted attempt to revive some of the issues raised in "Hope and Fear" was better than none at all.

As for the amorphous crew, it's the writers' fault for never meaningfully including them, not Janeway's. If they'd ever given us something like "The Ship", or even just some "Ten Forward" style filler, I could see Voyager's losses having a real emotional impact. But Voyager's isolation would have made broaching that topic in a way that wasn't utterly deflating very tricky. It clearly wasn't something they wanted to deal with.

Mon, May 17, 2010, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
I really like the first part, up until the malon show up. I especially like the way voyager's lights go off all over the ship slowly, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense. Hollywood physics. The one part that really annoys me for some reason is when tuvok and harry are discussing how they'll 'shed some light' on what's going on, or whatever, tuvok technobabbles and harry says "a warp flare". Why is it a warp flare? Why not just a flare? Sure it's a photon torpedo but just call it a bloody flare!
Fri, Jul 2, 2010, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
I'm weird. But over time this has become one of my favorite and most re-watched episodes. I really think its Voyager's better stand alone episodes. And its nice to have a strange alien like the Void dwellers, black and slimy. Nice change of pace instead of your usual goofy looking forehead alien.
Tue, Nov 23, 2010, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
It's no DS9, but after the mostly mind numbing Season 4 I found this episode quite enjoyable. It introduced a new idea for once instead of recycling and at least provided some variety in the Hard Headed Alien of the Week.

However it's also an example of *why* it's no DS9. With such a compelling idea they could have made the void last 4-5 episodes and properly analysed the crew's despair and maybe even some character development (heh). No such luck though - it's the usual reset button at the end. What a waste.
Mon, Nov 7, 2011, 12:17am (UTC -5)
So er... why not give the dark guys the means to destroy the vortex? This isn't like "Caretaker" where the Ocampa are isolated underground; the people being protected are able to help.
Mon, Nov 14, 2011, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Regarding your complaint about the story's resolution : I repeat, this show is about characters; the A/B solutions (while a little pat) provided the character resolution in Janeway; the Family plot thread which grew significantly last season had a lot to do with Janeway's choices to corral the crew together as matriarch and leader; what she failed to realise is that she herself is a member of that family and bound to its duties and benefits as anyone else. I would have enjoyed seeing a story resolution which accomplished this AND seemed like a relavant plot thread, but that is the unending problem with this series; plot is sacrificed or canned for the sake of character.

This is a 3 star episode. The beginning of one of Trek's best seasons.
Tue, Dec 6, 2011, 11:16am (UTC -5)
The point about the crew members who died is a great one. Voyager always suffered from what could be called "Late-season M*A*S*Hitis."

When it first premiered, M*A*S*H didn't focus solely on the characters in the credits. Guest stars were the norm, and it was clear that the main characters frequently interacted with secondary characters at the 4077. This changed late in the series when the main cast seemed to only communicate with each other.

This was largely true of TNG, too, but that made sense for a few reasons. The Enterprise had regular transfers, it had a MUCH larger crew than Voyager and the characters in the opening credits were actually all senior officers (except for Wesley).

After Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok, Voyager's main cast includes two LT JGs (one of whom was demoted to ensign for a while), an ensign, and a non-commissioned Borg, a Talaxian, an Ocampa and a hologram. The fact that Paris, Torres, Kim, Seven, Neelix, Kes and the Doctor are essentially the senior staff makes no sense -- unless you figure everybody else on board is ranked no higher than a LT JG.

This COULD have been something that was addressed early in the series, BTW. One line about how the crew is more reliant on junior officers and non-comms -- because of the deaths in 'Caretaker' -- would have covered it.

Two examples from the series really jump out on this point: The fact that the main characters (sans Chakotay and Paris) are the only ones to stay on the ship in "Year of Hell," and this episode. And considering this episode wasn't undone by time mechanics, it's worse.

When Janeway comes to the bridge to declare her intentions to stay behind, there are a couple extras manning bridge stations. But as Janeway is explaining her plan -- and as the main characters are essentially starting a mutiny -- the extras just turn around and appear not to notice! Do they not care about what's happening behind them?

Enterprise actually got this point more right than Voyager, by having some recurring secondary characters and not having as many extras milling around apparently not paying attention at moments like these. It was always weird that the Enterprise's senior staff was made up of two ensigns, but could sort of be explained away by figuring Starfleet was still a newish organization.
Tue, Dec 6, 2011, 11:38am (UTC -5)

The rank of ensign does not preclude one from being a senior officer; Kim was one in the pilot. Torres and the Doc are the chief of staff for their respective departments, rank aside. Kes only came to meetings when it seemed she had something to contribute (eg Scorpion); Neelix is the ambassador (I grant this one's a bit flimsy) and 7 is a genius, besides being the chief AM officer.

I noticed the issue with the extras as well, and shook my head--bad execution on Livingston's part.
Sun, Apr 29, 2012, 8:57am (UTC -5)
This is a 3-star episode, IMO. I didn't have a problem with Janeway's seemingly out of character depression or her drastic solution. Frankly it was refreshing and different to see a heroic captain in a moment of weakness and despair. I also liked that Chakotay knew her so well as to be able to predict what she was going to try and do.

My main quibble with the episode had to do with the Void Aliens. They should have been designed to look similar to Earth's deep ocean-dwellers. Living in total darkness they could have evolved to the point where they would be bioluminescent with huge eyes. It would have been far more interesting than black and slimy.

@Paul, since she's chief Engineer, I believe Torres is considered a full Lieutenant (but a brevet Lieutenant at that).
Sun, Apr 29, 2012, 9:29am (UTC -5)
Oops, I forgot about my other main quibble. I'm surprised no one else has mentioned this.

When Seven discovers one of the Void Aliens on the holodeck, she conveniently commands the computer to "disengage safety protocols," and proceeds to shoot it with Captain Proton's "ray gun." First of all, Seven isn't an officer and shouldn't have that kind of authority. Second, even if she did have that kind of authority the command should not have been instantly obeyed by the computer without at least a warning. Third, it's a fictional weapon in a fictional setting - it should STILL be harmless. I get that it's a gag, but it's a very poorly thought out and utterly dumb one.
Fri, Oct 5, 2012, 7:37am (UTC -5)
Really love the scene where the lights go out. How cool was that? Didn't bother reading any other posts since I'm sure most of them are people who try to analyze and cry about petty stuff. Nerds.
Tue, Oct 16, 2012, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
You can turn an enormous cargo bay int oa holodeck just by installing a few emitters?

Aren't the emitters those huge X shaped panels?
Mon, Nov 12, 2012, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
Agreed with AJ: just like that decided to destroy the vortex.

Agreed with Eric: How are those aliens living there?
Tue, Jan 15, 2013, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
I thoroughly enjoy reading these reviews, but they really are biased against this show. I'd rather it would be rated for what it is and not for not being DS9. Don't get me wrong, I respect your point of view and the time/thoughts you put in these reviews.

Granted, it would have been great to have the crew remaining a bit more in the Void, there are many shuttle crashes, there are no long story-arcs, many plot-holes and easy ways out. However, there are often some nice subtle character developements that you don't talk about in favor of deploring plots and/or metaphors that are simply dismissed.

In this episode, it's nice to see how the staff react in their own particular ways. Though Neelix isn't my favorite character (by far :p), his panic attacks were very much in character and I felt for him. About Janeway, I don't agree it's not like her: a depression may "fall on" everyone, wether the time is right or wrong (well... usually, there's never a right time). One of the symptoms of depressive episodes is isolation. I certainly would have liked it not being magically cured at the end of this episode, but it's very consistent for a person who's had heavy weight on her shoulders - totally alone - to get depressed.

I know it's totally silly to write this comment years after you wrote your reviews, but as I'm overcoming my shyness to write in english, it felt good to type it ;-).
Mon, Jan 21, 2013, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
This episode benefited from its slot as a season premiere. You could imagine that the ship spent most of the summer break in the dark void. That gimmick would not have been possible if Season 4 had ended with a cliffhanger.
Jo Jo Meastro
Thu, May 16, 2013, 8:34am (UTC -5)
A nice start to season five. I loved the concept of the void and the effects it had on the crew. The void was almost like a physical manifestation of the emotional place the crew was at.

I'm guessing it was Joe Manosky who contributed this approach to the story as its very consistent with this style. On top of that, I actually appreciated the aliens of the week and they bring much more than the usual action. They were right at home with the story instead of being a distraction.

Janeway got the chance to confront the guilt she'd been harbouring for so long and the way this situation parallels the events of Care Taker let her find redemption and gives renewed hope. Tackling and escaping the void had emotional under currents I'd like to see resurface more often.

The wonderful special effects, strong direction, intriguing change of pace, impressive story telling, great acting and characterisation all add up to a classic season opener in my eyes. 4/4
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 12:35am (UTC -5)
First Emck isnt allowed to go further then the transporterpad next thing hes walking in engineering
Sun, Jul 7, 2013, 12:19am (UTC -5)
Seems unrealistic for Janeway to casually murder 100 or so people aboard the Freighter...
Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 11:32am (UTC -5)
I agree with everyone but what bothered me about Janeway's depression is that the Doctor wasn't consulted. There should have been a discussion btwn the Dr. & Chakotay where they acknowledge that the Captain is having a hard time of it and they may need to do something. Or perhaps Chakotay lying a bit to the Dr. the the Captain isn't all that bad. Having personally battled depression, you don't just throw it off that fast.
Lt. Yarko
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
I always have to laugh at the extras on the bridge. They never notice anything going on around them.

It was weird when Janeway said "assemble the crew" and only the senior staff and a few busy extras were on the bridge to hear her plan.
Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 4:29am (UTC -5)
This is an example of the frustrating aspects of trek in general, especially Voyager.
Take an episode that would work as an psychological adventure and make it another silly Bad Aliens (TM) of the week episode.
Also the Politically Correct silliness.
Toxic waste dumping in space?
Oh Please...
It is one thing to maybe do an episode based on a planet where environmental poisoning is being dramatized, but in space?
Space is BIG, really big remember?
Already full of stuff like Cosmic radiation, Gamma rays, X-rays, etc...
If anything just dumping the waste near a star would do the trick to incinerate it.
Also how do Aliens living in a void have spaceships?
Finally, any business person worth a damn would love to get on the ground floor of a new and revolutionary discovery that is sure to be worth a fortune like the malon was offered.
Fri, Aug 9, 2013, 2:16am (UTC -5)
There were a lot of good parts but also a lot of bad parts in this episode. It could have been a great episode if it had been given the "page 1 rewrite" treatment.

Some of the problems:
- Janeway's sudden personality change was jarring and not convincing (I'm talking about the concept, not Mulgrew's acting, which actually seemed really good). It just seemed so sudden and to come out of nowhere. They could have foreshadowed it in the first couple of scenes instead of wasting time on Captain Protein.

- The aliens live in a vast void thousands of light years across. Where did they come from? Where do they get sustenance? More importantly, they have ships! What do they use these ships for if they have nowhere to go?

On the bright side, the black slimy aliens were really well-done, and I like the "greedy selfish garbage man" concept. Oh, the costuming and ship design for the garbage aliens was good too. I'll also note this is one of the few episodes where I thought Janeway's usually cheesy one-liner worked. Time to take out of the garbage.
Fri, Aug 9, 2013, 2:21am (UTC -5)
Oh yeah...

I'll say again Robert Beltran's acting always looks especially terrible when he is in a scene with Mulgrew. And the line, "Chakotay, there's no one I trust more than you" was ridiculous. We all know Janeway trusts Tuvok the most, and that she only picked Chakotay to be F/O to help the Maquis feel at home.
William B
Fri, Aug 9, 2013, 6:50am (UTC -5)
@Domi, I agree on much (including Beltran's acting), and I agree that she chose Chakotay as her XO to make the Maquis feel at home. Still, it's been four years since then, much of it spent basically alone with Chakotay ("Resolutions"); things have changed.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
I think that this rating is really unfair.

Here you have a new concept, character moments, original aliens... and basically Voyager gets bashed for not being DS9.

So Janeway hasn't been gnashing her teeth about her decision in front of us for the last few years- as she herself says, she's had other things to do, now she's in pure blackness.

I wish that Voyager had been rated on its merits, not as a comparison with "the Sisko".
Sun, Sep 22, 2013, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
Where did these indiginous aliens get the materials to build vessels out of?
Tue, Oct 8, 2013, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
@T'Paul I agree with you.

Yes, DS9 was awesome; I'm not going to disagree with anyone who says that. At the same time, however, Jammer's incessant bitching that Voyager sucks largely because it wasn't DS9, does grow tiresome.

In terms of the characters, if nothing else, I've come to realise that Voyager is my favourite Trek series; and I've seen them all at this point, although I haven't spent as much time re-watching TOS.

Granted, the writing a lot of the time was awful. I'm not going to deny that. But I also think that the Voyager crew had some of the most charismatic and likeable actors that I've ever seen on television; and that in addition to that, their characters were all the more interesting, because of the fact that they were flawed.

I've also realised more recently, that it is actually Voyager's flaws that are a big part of what has made it so endearing to me, as well. I tend to be a strange person, in the sense that I usually find myself deriving value from things which most other people think are of terrible quality. Voyager is no exception. At the moment, I'm also currently in my second playthrough of the Voyager PC game, Elite Force, which I've always really enjoyed as well.

In other words, although I like your reviews, please lighten up, Jammer. Yes, Voyager is genuine drek in places; but there are other places where it really isn't.
Tue, Oct 8, 2013, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
One of the oddities about having comments on reviews I wrote 15 years ago is that it means I'm sometimes asked to adjust behavior (e.g., "lighten up") for a future that is more than a decade in the past.
Thu, Oct 10, 2013, 4:50am (UTC -5)
True. I realised that not long after I finished that post, and felt exceptionally stupid. My apologies.
Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 3:37am (UTC -5)
No need to apologize. It's just one of those weird and interesting things -- and it makes me feel old.
Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 5:57am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode, it had a bit of everything.

However, Chakotay was especially annoying, especially his apparent readiness to mutiny (yet again) - but of course everything gets neatly tied up in the last five minutes.

Voyager is constantly compared to TOS, which is fair. However, it just goes to show how strong the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationship was that served to sustain the fabric of that show. Chakotay is the weakest link in voyager. They should have killed him off - then we'd have been left with Janeway, a promoted Tuvok, combined with Seven, and the Doctor - every other character would have remained cardboard cutouts and the show would have been perfectly fine and much stronger for it.

Lastly, one key of TOS success is many of the best episodes were written by dyed in the wool sci-fi writers. Voyager clearly benefited from this tradition. Meanwhile, DS9 wasn't much more than a soap-opera (space-opera - with a high dose of melodrama)- not true science fiction.
Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 9:33am (UTC -5)
Ah, another new season ... and, sadly, another new mess.

I'd really, really love to like Voyager as a series - but the writers just make it impossible for me. The amount of things that just make no sense, be it practical stuff or crew behaviour, piles up to a point where I just can't ignore it, try as I might. It's a shame, 'cause the show actually has a lot of good stuff tugged inbetween the total brainfarts.

Oh, and:
The power goes out all over Vo├Żager. On the holodeck, Paris and Seven turn on a flashlight and we see that:
1) Although there's apparantly no power on the holodeck (lights went out), Paris and Seven are still surrounded by the set from the Holonovel
2) ... and everything is in black and white (or rather: grey).
*tripple facepalm*
Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 9:02am (UTC -5)
@Jammer yes that's quite an amusing effect :)

I've also been guilty countless times of sayings things like "I hope they improve the writing of soandso". In the back of my mind I know it already finished over a decade ago and the writers have long since packed up gone home and written other things. But sometimes you get so immersed in the show (especially if you do things like watching early Voyager and mid-late DS9 in parallel to match how they aired) that you kind of forget it was all done and dusted years ago. It's interesting :)
Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
Excellent episode. The alien plot was unnecessary, but still, the character moments were touching.
Sun, Nov 9, 2014, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
I think this episode is the perfect example of what was wrong with Voyager. A crew alone thousands of light years from home, fighting for their lifes for 4 years, alone and tired and now they have to face the reality of a years long journey through nothingness! That could be a great psychological episode ( even a thriller) and a good chance for the writers to give us a closer look to the crew. But what they did instead? The alien of the week again and in the end a cheap trick to get them out of the difficult situation! The first 16 minutes were very good and Janeway rethinking her decisions was a nice moment but the writers didn't elaborate. A pitty.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
One thing I'll say about Brannon Braga he does a good job at writing stand alone episodes and big two parters. I love the episodes he wrote with Ronald Moore, Joe Menosky, and Rick Berman. With episodes like All Good Things, Year of Hell, Broken Bow, he could easily write a big epic stand alone Trek movie that would appeal to Trek fans and non Trek fans.

Considering how hard it must had been to produce 24 episodes a season I'm surprised the creative staff didn't attempt to expand theme in this episode and other episodes such as Parallax, The Cloud, Basics, The Swarm, Year of Hell, The Void and etc into more than one episodes.
Wed, Apr 22, 2015, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Why didn't Voyager just wait for the Malon to go home since they knew where the vortex was. It's not like the Malon would have hung around for years guarding the vortex.. It can't take them that long to dump their waste and leave (and since they stranded the Malon on the other side their waste is still going to be dumped there, and more of the aliens are going to die as they battle it out).

This is the issue I guess when the story needs for the crew to be unusually stupid (like why did they let Arturis hang out on the bridge of their new ship in Hope & Fear, where he could cause a problem.. and when they found out he had tampered with the message, why didn't they just beam him to the brig? Because the story would have ended, that's why...)

Wed, Apr 22, 2015, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
I was fine with most of the episode. There's only one small thing I would've liked to see changed. I would have preferred the Malon ship to be incapacitated by Voyager (or those Void aliens) as Voyager uses the vortex to escape and permanently shuts the door behind them, thus leaving the Malon stranded in the void and at the mercy of all the victims they themselves created.

It just would have made for a more poetic justice kind of ending, but it's not essential, I guess. I just like to see the bad guys get their comeuppance in ways that aren't just 'kill them somehow'.
Thu, Jul 9, 2015, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
Malon captain - "You've scanned my vessel. You've seen my firepower. You wouldn't last ten seconds in a battle with me!"

Begs the question: Why does a garbage truck have more firepower than Voyager? o.o
Sun, Aug 9, 2015, 9:08pm (UTC -5)
I lost interest the moment the aliens came into the episode
Wed, Nov 4, 2015, 11:03am (UTC -5)
It's nice for Janeway to finally express some serious guilt but too unbelievable for Tuvok to claim she felt it from the beginning and for no one else to question or disagree with her decisions (or to act as if the main cast are the only crew who matter).
I don't usually mind un-subtle but the Malon were such black hat wearers the episode felt silly and uninteresting in its preaching.
Mon, Dec 21, 2015, 2:20am (UTC -5)
So once again, just like in Caretaker, Janeway violates the Prime Directive by closing the wormhole and stopping the aliens from dumping their toxic waste. Doesn't Starfleet have rules about not interfering in the internal affairs of a species which is at war with a different species?

And I'm not even going to mention the stupidity of not knowing where to dump your toxic waste in space, except to say - throw it into the sun, dumbasses!

Oh yeah, and plothole: Seven tells the computer to disengage holodeck safety protocols despite the fact that in TNG's Descent Part 1, Data says to Geordi that the computer requires two senior officer authorizations to disengage holodeck safeties.
Mon, Dec 21, 2015, 2:32am (UTC -5)
skadoo - Wed, Jul 10, 2013 - 11:32am (USA Central)

"I agree with everyone but what bothered me about Janeway's depression is that the Doctor wasn't consulted. There should have been a discussion btwn the Dr. & Chakotay where they acknowledge that the Captain is having a hard time of it and they may need to do something. Or perhaps Chakotay lying a bit to the Dr. the the Captain isn't all that bad. Having personally battled depression, you don't just throw it off that fast."

@Skadoo - Janeway's depression wasn't a clinical or medical matter. It was not some "chemical imbalance" or whatever horseshit psychiatry is peddling these days. It was her personality's natural reaction to her situation, combined with guilt for what she did in Caretaker. To try to take that away from her via "medication/poisoning," or trivialize it by saying it's a "chemical imbalance," thus implying that it isn't a normal part of her personality adjusting to her actions and her environment, is a grave and dehumanizing insult to her.

The reason she was depressed is because she has a conscience and is a good person, not because of some medical nonsense! I'm sorry that you have been brainwashed by psychiatry's crap.

P.S. No, I'm NOT a Scientologist (they're fraudulent too). I just have commonsense!
Wed, Jan 13, 2016, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
I'd say this was an acceptable start to the season. It sounds like everyone already said most of the important stuff. Yes, the atmosphere was amazing. Yes, the design of the two aliens were cool. Yes, the final part of the story is pretty derivative. Such is life...

The big question is Janeway's attitude during this episode. It's about time to have some introspection from her, and this giant cloud of whateverness was a perfect opportunity to examine it. I know people think of Janeway as psycho, or think that she's bipolar, or (perhaps most accurately) that the writers just wrote her however they wanted. But in reality, she had a character arc, even if it's not a positive uplifting one: she went from being a fine upstanding Federation officer to someone desperate to get home that she was willing to bend the rules. It's been brought up a bit before, albeit not directly. Now, she questions the decision to save the Ocampa rather than herself. And she questions whether to ignore the night-people here. Sure, she ends up helping them out anyway, but she's definitely far more uncertain these days. Hopefully it'll be consistent that she's more ruthless this season.

That said, the complete isolation was a bit of overkill, especially its execution. Janeway was brooding in her quarters, well, ok. I can live with it. Chakotay being the public face of the captain worked pretty well, as was his private talk with Janeway. But then, the night people appeared, and she became all action-girl, running around. Then she went right back to being moody. It just seemed awkward and forced. I mean, I guess it makes sense that she would come out when her ship is threatened, but narrative-wise I didn't care for it.

It was also a bit too happy of an ending, Janeway's all better? Doesn't need to say anything to the crew? No apologies, no awkwardness? Oh well, captain's prerogative, I guess.

By the way, one other nice part of this episode was that all the regular characters worked well in their bit parts. Kim taking the night shift was long overdue, and perhaps is an outgrowth of Demon. Captain Proton is absolutely hilarious; I love it. Spot on parody of Ming the Merciless, too. As I said, Chakotay did well as the Mouth of the Captain. B'Elanna's outburst in the dining room was kinda dumb, I admit, but everyone else had a solid showing. This was especially true after the night people attacked and we ended up with a few minutes of Disaster-esque action. Given Voyager's penchant of late of focusing on Janeway/Seven/Doctor to the exclusion of everyone else, it was a pleasant site to see. Now that everyone's used to Seven being on the show, hopefully it can become a bit more balanced, character-wise.
Jason R.
Fri, Jan 22, 2016, 9:36am (UTC -5)
I guess 24th century technology hasn't invented remote detonators or even delay timers. Seriously, they couldn't just have set the torpedos to detonate 90 seconds after they left and were well clear? Whatever.

Another missed opportunity. If they had any guts and inventiveness, this void could have been a two-parter or even more. The first 15 minutes of the episode are great. Then it's back to the alien of the week. Sigh.
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 9:24am (UTC -5)
Agree with Tim. One if my fave EPS, I watch it again and again. Compelling as a "lost in space" metaphor... And Chakotay has depth for once, he's not just eye candy or Janeway's yes man. The visuals of Voyager's power systems shutting down are stunning, eerie atmosphere. The early staff meeting scene without Janeway has some brilliant dialogue. Humour me. All systems operating within normal parameters. Love it.
Mon, Feb 22, 2016, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
I loved the part when in the holodeck program with Tom, facing the robot, said "I am Borg" and ripped out the circuitry of the robot. LOL
The Man
Wed, Feb 24, 2016, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
Actually if safety protocols are deactivated weapons on the holodeck are lethal. The same thing happened on the TNG when protocols were deactivated and bullets were deadly probably because they become solid projectiles.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Feb 25, 2016, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
A very odd feeling episode for a series opener, and a real mish-mash of ideas and moods. It almost - almost - works, but in the end fails because it doesn't really know what it wants to be.

What works well is the feel - the imagery of the Void is different and interesting. The initial 'something in the dark' encounter with the aliens is great. The FX work is marvellous. Captain Proton looks fantastic even if it's, yes, another holodeck theme. And as noted above, when Seven flatly declares "I am Borg" before disabling the robot, its arms lengthening, head down death may be single funniest thing I have yet seen on any Trek.

On the downside, Janeway definitely feels off character to me, the 'mutiny' doesn't really have any tension because it's all been revealed up front what is going to happen, and the heavy handed environmental message comes straight out of The Voyage Home style moralising. 2.5 stars overall.

Mon, May 23, 2016, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 7:56pm (UTC -5)

I think that this rating is really unfair.

Here you have a new concept, character moments, original aliens... and basically Voyager gets bashed for not being DS9.

So Janeway hasn't been gnashing her teeth about her decision in front of us for the last few years- as she herself says, she's had other things to do, now she's in pure blackness.

I wish that Voyager had been rated on its merits, not as a comparison with "the Sisko".
^^ So much this...

This episode was wonderful.

It isn't about the technobabble that plan "B" was it was the fact that Janeway was to the point of just sacrificing herself.

This situation, nothing for months, was probably the toughest situation for our always on the hop doing things coffee slamming Captain. She actually had time to stop and reflect. then of course with that comes questioning ones self and decisions. Aside from the fact she is bored to tears, now blame creeps in because it was her choice that landed them here. At least the crew had their daily routine and each other to keep the mundane at arms length... Janeway just shut everything out. She really has no peer.

I thought the dark aliens were just fantastic. Probably one of trek's finest. The Malon ship and Emck were cool as well.

I just loved how the crew banded together and disobeyed their Captain.

3.5 star episode for me. Very good season opener.
Sat, May 28, 2016, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
Enjoyed this episode but would have liked more insight on these aliens. How did they happen to be in the void? Where is there home? They did say there are a million of them in the void.
I've read all the reviews posted here but I am puzzled that no one spotted an out of sequence scene. I am referring to Chakotay and Tuvok in the briefing room. It happens just after the scene where we see Chakotay and Janeway in sickbay. I am positively sure that the Chakotay-Tuvok scene should have taken place earlier, rather than after the sickbay scene. Any thoughts?
Sun, May 29, 2016, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
Yes Jammer, you did go out of your way to say that "Voyager is bad and DS9 is good". Everyone knows that you are a DS9 fanboi and that you really can not stand Voyager. Voyager was a better series. It did not take place on a space station and revolve around wormhole prophets.
KB Murphy
Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
I'm enjoying these reviews while watching the show for the first time since it aired (I don't think I saw most of seasons 4-7 so I know they get home but don't remember how).

I have lived with people suffering depression most of my life and I found Janeway's actions consistent with my experience. The point about depression is that people act atypically. The lack of ship's counselor has been a major plot hole that could have been used throughout the series. Most ships would have people who might be interested in the role and who could "go to school" in the holodeck to develop their skills.

In fact, the whole ship's counselor ethos in TNG era shows always bothered me because it clearly showed the idea that they were still dividing health care into mind and body elements. The new fields of study like neuroscience and epigenetics are showing us that one cannot view human health as a set of silos.

The doctor in ENT offers hints of the way medicine may be practiced in our future.

At any rate, I found Janeway's depression consistent with the weaknesses she has displayed in the past. I thought the writers did a reset with Tuvoc and Chakoty's relationship. Now, as Jammer often points out, it will be interesting to see if that change persists. I do think that the "mutiny" may help the captain accept that she cannot redeem her past actions and that she is accepted--warts and all--by her crew--that she is "not alone" (as she commented in Scorpion).
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 9:03pm (UTC -5)
This is like a TOS episode in the Delta quadrant. The classic Trek morality is in play. There's "bad guys" versus "innocents." The worst you can say is that they had a chance to do something different and really didn't.
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 10:02pm (UTC -5)
"Time to take out the garbage!"

LOL awesome, almost AHNULD-like.

Just watched 5 episodes back to back at random that I never saw before (Scorpion 1 & 2, Living Witness, Hope & Fear, and this one) and I gotta say I may have wrongly pegged Voyager as being piss because I've really enjoyed all of them.

The plot for this one reminded me a lot of a TNG episode for some reason, but hey that's not a bad thing.
Tue, Aug 30, 2016, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
hmmmummmm ... what happened? ...nvm
Joe R.
Sun, Oct 2, 2016, 12:47pm (UTC -5)

I think it's only an average episode, but ever since I first saw it, some of the imagery stayed with me. The thought of being on a deep space voyage, far from home in the endless void, losing power, even the lights on the ship go out, leaving total blackness... I think I've had some fascinating dreams over the years thanks to this episode.
Wed, Nov 9, 2016, 3:49am (UTC -5)
Pretty good episode but I didn't buy Janeways behaviour. I don't think what she was going through should be classified as depression, but more of a crisis of conscience. If that was the case then she was merely wallowing in self-pity, rather than suffering a depressive episode, which I think is very un-captain like. It would explain why she recovered so quickly. All she really needed was to be told that she had made the right decision, and that everyone still wanted her around.
dave johnson
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 12:41am (UTC -5)
Hm... 15+ years later and we are still having childish debates about "MY Trek series is better than your Trek series.. nah nah nah". He wrote these reviews over 15 years ago, in the context of both shows happening at the same time. They were VERY different shows and it is natural for a person to favor one over the other. A DS9 fan would be driven nuts by all the continuity errors and short term thinking on Voyager after enjoying a series with multi year storylines and dozens of recurring characters.... I don't think that could have been avoided.

This is a good episode, I enjoyed watching it again tonight.

One thing that I thought about....... they get assaulted by diseases and aliens wanting to kill them on a weekly basis; so they get into a region of space where they can cruise for a few months with nobody bothering them and that leads them to essentially get depressed, panic, go mad, etc..... I guess they do need to be attacked on a regular basis or they get bored?

Fri, Feb 17, 2017, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Bored? Crew have nothing to do? Create a massive, multiplayer holodeck world and have the crew rotate in and out depending on their shifts. You can even create a couple of rich brats who need Janeway to play governess to.

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