Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Equinox, Part II"

***

Air date: 9/22/1999
Teleplay by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"He'll break." — Janeway, defending roundabout torture

Nutshell: A lot of good character work within a good action show, although there are enough questionable moments to hold it back.

If you're a fan of Janeway in badass mode, you will probably revel in "Equinox, Part II," an episode that shows Janeway's teeth at perhaps their most sharpened—a captain who on this day is not taking any prisoners, conveyed by a Kate Mulgrew performance whose take-charge-of-a-scene attitude is capable of sending chills.

On a story level, "Equinox, Part II" manages to work fairly well, too. Given the preset stipulations—i.e., it must be resolved in an hour, regular characters cannot be radically changed or killed, the Equinox must be destroyed, peace with the aliens must be attained, and Captain Ransom must die (I just can't picture an ending where the writers would've let him live)—"Equinox II" manages to get a good amount of mileage out of the story.

Whereas "Equinox, Part I" seemed more focused on showing us who these Equinox crew members were, what they were hiding and planning, and the hell they'd been through that made them less likely to listen to their consciences, "Equinox, Part II" is essentially finished with that stage of the story; the motives have been set in motion and the show launches into action mode. But is that all?

Well, thankfully, no, that's not all.

"Equinox II" is ready to launch into its new action-oriented direction, but it's also ready to think about how it's getting there. When we last left Janeway and her crew, Voyager was coming under attack by a swarm of aliens from another realm—aliens who were attacking in retaliation for being used as "fuel" for Ransom's jerry-rigged warp drive. (I'm not sure exactly what to call these nameless aliens other than the CGI aliens; the show never calls them anything except "the aliens" or "the lifeforms.") Ransom had escaped in the Equinox along with hostages Seven and Doc, while the Equinox's EMH, sans ethical subroutines, had smuggled himself aboard Voyager, where he began pretending to be the Voyager EMH.

Oh yes ... and of course, Janeway Was Going to Die—we love our pretentious cliffhangers.

So, anyway, "Equinox II" begins again. The Voyager crew has temporarily shielded itself from the aliens, while Ransom finds he can't use his modified engine device because Seven had locked out the stolen techno-ma-whozit device with security codes.

So the primary outline for "Equinox II": Ransom wants those codes, and Janeway wants Ransom.

There's something nice about the episode's underlying simplicity. The plot goals are clear, but how the episode gets where it's going is where things turn interesting—sometimes extremely interesting.

First, foremost, and most attention-grabbing is what effect Ransom's escape has on Captain Janeway. She launches into a single-minded obsession to stop Ransom at damn near any cost. This obsession is the Janeway equivalent of Picard's obsession to stop the Borg in First Contact or, more similar, Sisko's obsession to catch Eddington in "For the Uniform." Watching Janeway take this situation so personally works every bit as well and for many of the same reasons as when Sisko took Eddington's betrayal personally. Ransom has betrayed his uniform, and Janeway, being the only Starfleet captain within many thousands of light-years, is going to stop him.

What I found particularly compelling was the extent to which the writers took this idea. If there's one thing they didn't do, it was play it safe. Janeway, often a character whose decisions have come across as controversial and even reckless, goes probably farther here than ever before, telling her first officer in no uncertain terms that she's "damned angry," and that if he wants to consider her unwillingness to back down as motivated by a personal vendetta, then so be it.

The Janeway/Chakotay interaction here made me sit up and take notice. It's been some time since we've seen some really memorable interaction between the two of them, and in terms of seeing them strictly as the captain and first officer tackling a problem (complicated here by the fact they're in extreme disagreement) this is one of the strongest-played uses of Janeway/Chakotay in years.

Most of that can be attributed to the fact Janeway's actions venture dangerously near the realm of wrong-headed insanity. Janeway seems to be putting her vendetta first, and Voyager's safety and her own principles second. Although the show itself isn't so bold as to resort to such a comic-book statement, it's clear she WANTS RANSOM, in all capital letters.

All I can say is: Don't get on Janeway's bad side. At one point the crew cleverly captures two of Ransom's away team on the surface of a planet. Janeway brings one of them, Crewman Lessing, into the cargo bay for questioning. She wants Lessing to tell her about Ransom's tactical status. When he refuses to talk, she threatens to lower the shields in the room and turn the CGI aliens loose on him in order to speed the interrogation along.

Chakotay at first thinks this is a game of "good cop, bad cop," but Janeway isn't playing. Nor is she bluffing.

Quite simply, the sight of Janeway standing ice cold in her place—having locked Lessing alone in the cargo bay with some none-too-happy aliens, and now firmly reassuring Chakotay (none too sympathetically) that "he'll break"—is downright frightening. "What's happened to you, Kathryn?" Chakotay asks at one point. I wanted to ask the same question. I haven't seen this Janeway before. She doesn't answer to anyone. With no Starfleet watching over her shoulder, how could she be stopped if she continued down such a dangerous path?

Mulgrew is quite mesmerizing. While a dangerous, self-destructive Janeway like this might be lost upon the Voyager audience if used too often, in small doses it's compelling stuff. And although Janeway pushes the envelope of her authority oh-so-far (as do the writers, really), there's an awareness buried somewhere beneath Janeway's madness—she simply wants what's just. Unfortunately, the price is too high and she almost completely loses Chakotay's confidence in the process.

In another scene (which would've been more powerful if not for the hokey CGI aliens goofily swirling about and shrieking), she negotiates an arrangement with the aliens, promising to deliver the Equinox to them if they call off their attacks. When Tuvok objects, saying it will mean certain death for the Equinox crew, Janeway's answer is, "I've already confined my first officer to quarters. Would you like to join him?"

Ransom has his own problems, and they're mostly coming from within. You see, he's disabled Doc's ethical subroutines so he'll perform an operation on Seven that will forcibly extract the codes, which she is refusing to give. This will leave Seven with severe brain damage. Ransom doesn't want to do it, but he has "no choice," a term that he tends to overuse as rationalization, which Seven aptly points out. It gets Ransom to thinking, and eventually struggling. He has already devalued the lives of the CGI aliens. Can he bring himself to devalue the life of another human being? Although nicely documented, Ransom's role in this half of "Equinox" is less interesting than Janeway's, probably because it's more expected: He is a Starfleet captain after all, and his decision to ultimately do the Right Thing and surrender is an ending to his tale that I can barely envision playing out any other way.

In the meantime, the action elements are mostly well placed here. The FX are above average, and David Livingston keeps the story moving along at a nice pace. And there's always something unsettling about seeing two Federation starships firing on each other.

Of course, in the process of the plot we somehow also get our fill of the Ryan and Picardo Duet [TM]. I don't know why, but it's hard to view a Jeri Ryan Singing Scene objectively anymore. Yeah, she can sing, but in an episode like this it's hard for it to come across as non-gratuitous.

It's when we get into the final act that I have some bigger reservations about the plot. Ransom decides to surrender, which may be sudden backpedaling considering his previous actions, but still backpedaling that makes sense given how much we saw Ransom go through in the course of the hour. I thought his nagging visions of Seven speaking as his conscience in the scenery program came off as fairly appropriate given the circumstances.

On the other hand, one of the show's bigger failures is its superficial use of Max Burke. In part one, Max had some fairly intriguing scenes with B'Elanna that hinted that this guy was a potential three-dimensional character. But in this half, alas, the writers utilize Max as a Convenient Plot Pawn [TM]. Once Ransom has come to his realization and intends to surrender, Max pulls a phaser and becomes a non-surrendering mutiny, the avenue through which the story can still end with him, Ransom, and the Equinox being destroyed, thereby satisfying, we presume, the CGI aliens' blood lust. While other members of the Equinox crew are brought aboard Voyager (including Lessing and Gilmore, who had better become recurring characters after all this), this ending makes for a lot of convenient conditions that let both Ransom and Janeway off the hook for their actions. One wonders what the consequences might've been had things played out differently.

Also, there are some gaping plot holes that simply had me confused. For starters, how did Doc get from the Equinox computer system back aboard Voyager? And how did he get his ethical subroutines back? As far as I can tell, no explanation is supplied; it's almost as if a scene ended up on the cutting room floor. In one scene Doc's operating on Seven, then the plot develops away from him for about 10 minutes and the next thing we know he's suddenly back aboard Voyager confronting the "bad" EMH.

And about this confrontation—it sure ranks as a lame one: Doc walks in and says, "Computer, delete the Equinox EMH," and, sure enough, the Equinox EMH vanishes, game over. Talk about your convenient ways to off a bad guy. Come on, people.

Problems aside, "Equinox, Part II" is possibly Voyager's best season kickoff. While this half of "Equinox" doesn't begin to revisit many of the issues of Starfleet officers pushed to their limits in the Delta Quadrant (a la part one), overall, it's done better than the first part, and it finds an angle almost as interesting, showing the obsessions of Janeway's sense of moral righteousness—which nearly degenerates into an eye-for-an-eye mentality that she alone intends to see through. She ultimately doesn't have to, but seeing her intent is certainly worth the time.

The final scene on the Voyager bridge seems to indicate that Janeway realizes and regrets how far she crossed the line, and how she all but abandoned her first officer and crew. She admits quietly to Chakotay that he might've had good reason for his own mutiny. And I liked the symbolism of the fallen Voyager dedication plaque. "All these years, all these battles; this thing's never fallen down before," Janeway notes. The implications are interesting. As a unit of Starfleet ideals, Janeway's vendetta may have taken Voyager as far off course as it has been. And I particularly like the fact she realizes that.

Next week: The Borg Are Back [TM], and Seven May Return to the Collective [TM].

Jammer trailer commentary: I've seen some press information about this upcoming show, and from what I understand, there's much more to this episode than what the trailer would have us believe. Obviously, UPN marketing isn't trying to appeal to Voyager viewers, since any loyal Voyager viewer's reaction to this promo is likely to be, "What? Again?!" I guess, as always, they're trying to appeal to would-be Voyager converts who haven't seen the other Voyager Borg episodes. But, really, are the Borg still that marketable that a "Borg Are Back" preview is considered the most effective approach?

Previous episode: Equinox, Part I
Next episode: Survival Instinct

Season Index

70 comments on this review

David Forrest - Thu, Feb 7, 2008 - 2:47pm (USA Central)
I defintely think this episode deserves a 3.5 star rating. I think it truly was excellent and its one of my Voyager favorites. It really pushed the envelope and had many great dynamics. Granted, the Doc returning is a plot hole, but other than that it's a wonderful episode.
Paul - Wed, Mar 12, 2008 - 5:33am (USA Central)
I didn't like this one at all... I never thought that Janeway was going to die as the alien was barreling in towards her at the end of part 1, but for them to simply use a 2 second technobabble get-out-of-jail-"free" card was a slap in the face of the viewers.

I didn't like the Janeway badass scenes, they seemed far too forced and out of character. Whatever happened to "the safety of the crew is our priority" Janeway?

The aliens looked crap, there was no interest in Seven/Doc's equinox scenes, it was just all over very poorly written.

I liked the Janeway/Chakotay scenes, but that was about it. Lucky to get 2 stars in my book.
Stefan - Wed, Apr 9, 2008 - 5:57pm (USA Central)
Having seen this episode earlier this day, I saw that Captain Janeway had the Equinox survivors (except Captain Ransom who prevented his own transport) transported to Voyager. This would include the Voyager EMH. Taking him from the Equinox's very damaged main computer wouldn't have been a problem. It's also implicit that the Doctor's "ethical subroutines" would be added back to his program.

In general, this episode had no purely good guys or bad guys. The aliens were trying to kill both crews, but that was understandable since many of the aliens had been murdered by the Equinox crew. The Equinox crew was doing what it believed it had to do in order to survive, and their belief didn't come off as unreasonable. The Voyager crew believed that the Equinox crew was murdering innocent life forms so as to benefit themselves and their belief also seemed reasonable.

As for the Captains, Janeway came off as obsessed and unconcerned with the plight of the Equinox crew. I liked Ransom's comment about the ease of being morally pure when your on an undamaged ship. Ransom came off as willing to throw off any moral limits in order to get his crew home ON HIS SHIP. He could have transferred the crew to Voyager, but then that would left Janeway in charge of HIS crew and he couldn't have that.

In the end, this two-parter is about ego. The ego of both Captains, and the death and destruction caused by those egos.
Jason - Thu, Apr 10, 2008 - 10:30am (USA Central)
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I think I noticed a HUGE plot hole in this episode. Ransom said that after learning of the new power source and putting it to use, the Equinox was able to travel 10,000 light years.

However, Chakotay's written request to the captain asks for permission to go back to the people who gave the Equinox crew the means to capture these creatures in the first place. Janeway states they are 50 Light Years in the wrong direction. Should they not be significantly further away?? Either that, or the Equinox should have overshot Voyager by about 9550 light years.

My math is fuzzy, but it seems odd to me.
Aaron - Thu, Jul 31, 2008 - 2:27pm (USA Central)
I really love this two-parter. Again, it demonstrated how well the Voyager mini-movie concept worked. You could have never seen an episode before or since, and still enjoyed the plot and the action of this episode.

Mulgrew is quite good here, pushing Janeway right to the edge. And to see a battered and bruised and jaded Stsrfleet crew was...

...and here's where this episode becomes meta-brilliant. In a way, "Equinox" is a comment on the entire series of Voyager itself. UPN and Paramount chose NOT to have Voyager become this "Lord of the Flies" in space. They chose NOT to make Voyager believe their own premise. Equinox is kind of like the Voyager that could have been (as is, of course, Battlestar Galactica.)

What is even more astonishing is that I don't think TPTB realized this. It was just another Voyager bottle show to them.
Brian O'Connell - Thu, Oct 30, 2008 - 8:44pm (USA Central)
Honestly how anyone can actually enjoy Janeway's behaviour in this episode I will never understand. It is 10,000 light years away from the character we know and is simply ludicrous. The idea that getting her to be "bad ass" makes it cool and enjoyable is just taken too far here for me.

Also if you remove the Doctor's "ethical sub routines" surely he still retains friendships, loyalties and so on. Look at Equinox's Doctor he stays loyal to his crew to the end. All too simple.
Alexey Bogatiryov - Mon, Mar 2, 2009 - 1:10pm (USA Central)
If only there had been permanent consequences to this episode's events in the series - it would have deserved 3.5 stars but alas, there is no lasting destrust between Janeway and Chakotay and most of the Equinox crew incorporates into Voyager perfectly.
Chris - Sun, Aug 2, 2009 - 11:59am (USA Central)
I caught Janeway and Chakotay's bust-up in the briefing room on TV the other day. It's a great scene, and yet it signifies everything that was wrong with Voyager. The conversation is quickly cut off by Janeway's childish decision to throw Chakotay in the brig, when he had simply warned her about taking action against her behaviour rather than actually doing so. At the end of the episode, it's all forgotten. Janeway offers no apology, and Chakotay doesn't show even a small amount of resentment. Something that could have divided them for a few episodes, maybe even the entire season, was quickly glossed over.

It's interesting that either Berman or Braga once said that Voyager isn't "a relationship show". He was referring to Torress and Paris, but in fact he was bang on. The relationships between the characters were waifer-thin at times. The only people who actually progressed as characters were Torres, Paris and the Doctor. That's not to say that they evolved throughout the series - they simply changed after season 1 or 2 and stayed that way for the rest of the show. Seven never really progressed, other than offering the occasional smile. She seemed as clueless as ever about human behaviour, despite learning umpteen lessons each season.

I guess I have a real love-hate relationship with this show. It turned out some classic episodes and it has a likeable crew. But it could have been so much more, and some of the cliches like the shuttlecraft crash just became ridiculous by the end.
Daniel - Tue, Oct 27, 2009 - 12:44am (USA Central)
"Of course, in the process of the plot we somehow also get our fill of the Ryan and Picardo Duet [TM]. I don't know why, but it's hard to view a Jeri Ryan Singing Scene objectively anymore. Yeah, she can sing, but in an episode like this it's hard for it to come across as non-gratuitous." Why doesn't a Robert Picardo song come across as "non-gratuitous?" Is it because he has a better voice? Does his singing work better as a storytelling device? I can't really criticize this comment because I don't know what you mean by it...... What exactly is gratuitous? By the end of season 5, 7 hadn't exactly been signing up a storm, I don't think.

Also, the "Duet," "Oh My Darling Clementine," was not only very well-performed by Picardo and Ryan, it seemed to me to be the opposite of gratuitous in that, when I think about the scene (and I often do, a credit to the way the scene was acted, written and directed), I realize (what do I know - especially since the all-Voyager-bashing-all-the-time people seem to rule the roost here) that it served a plot purpose, a character purpose, and provided a poignant moment of pathos. The Doctor was essentially terrorizing her by forcing her under duress to perform an activity (one which she had performed in the past with him) she once associated with enthusiasm. The banality of the break-up of the scene into two (Ransom's coming in barking, "Have you gotten the codes yet?") allowed the viewer to reflect on this fact allowed the circumstance to linger in the mind a little longer as well, had he not interrupted them. I'll give this to Voyager in any event - "You Are My Sunshine," "Someone to Watch Over Me," and this song... The source material is chosen well (yes, I am uncool by saying this because these songs are corny. Guess what, though? They at least have the virtue of having lyrics that can be deciphered by the human ear). Whenever the Rick Berman-era Star Trek dared to let music complement the story instead of insisting that the story bury the music, it generally tended to be a good thing. (Thank God for composers Ron Jones, in this regard. Come on - you mean to tell me Q Who and both parts of "The Best of Both Worlds" would have been MORE exciting without the score he composed for them? How did this score ever get past Rick Berman's ears, by the way? Also, I know y'all hate the new Star Trek movie, but I haven't heard many complaints - I guess this is called setting oneself up for something - about the music - the liveliest score for a Star Trek movie since the James Horner days).
Ken Egervari - Sun, Dec 6, 2009 - 5:40pm (USA Central)
I can't say I particularly like this episode either, although I guess it's a tad better than the first part.

The one problem with this premise is that all the "villains" are no different than the fore-heads of the week, despite they are people who took oaths to defend the federation and what it stands for... and follow a lifetime of goals and principles of starfleet.

The sudden change of heart just doesn't make sense. You can't turn around this quickly. And it doesn't make sense that a crew of 36 (or however many people are still left aboard to equinox) are all morally compromised.

That is the real problem with Voyager - everything is so black and white... everything is a cardboard cutout.

Then in this episode, they have Janeway develop her own set of complications, even though she fully realizes just how far Randsom has fallen... she falls herself, in a different light. The problem with it is that Chakotay is entirely reasonable, and yet, Janeway has completely lost it. Ugh. Voyager is always about the extremes.

And of course, the last few minutes basically say, "Yep, it'll all be forgotten." We won't see the new crew members anymore. Janeway and Chakotoy will be best friends. Seven and the doctor will be "friends" again, and do things without Doc's emotional feelings for her (and yes, probably never acknowledge 'those' again either).

Wow... this was "so" awesome... everything is back to normal.

Ugh. What a fucking terrible show.
Ken Egervari - Sun, Dec 6, 2009 - 6:20pm (USA Central)
I also wanted to make a note... why is the borg designations for species out of order? It would make sense that since the Borg live in the delta quandrant, the species' numbers would be smaller if they originated in the delta quandrant than if they lived in other quandrants... no?

Yet... some alpha quandrant species have numbers like 364 while other species like the kazon have 4 digits.

Makes no sense, and this thought occurs to me every time they mention a borg designation. It's just happened so many times in the last 2 seasons.

I mean, there are designations past 8472... and aren't they one of the newer species? Kind of ridiculous, unless they use random number generator to come up with the numbers (unlikely).
Paul - Fri, Mar 26, 2010 - 11:36am (USA Central)
How does Seven get herself into that neck holodeck device to try to sway the Captain to change his mind?

Are the song choices in Voyager made because they are out of copyright?

Jeff - Fri, Apr 9, 2010 - 10:58am (USA Central)
I found it interesting how easily the Voyager EMH was able to delete the Equinox EMH. An EMH is obviously an important medical tool, especially on VOY where there are no other doctors on board. You would think there would be some kind of safeguard or authorization code necessary to delete an EMH program.

The scene was nicely played, but it got me thinking that B'Elanna, for example, in a bad mood could just say "Oh, delete the EMH!" without thinking and then that's it for any true and proper medical care on Voyager, unless you want to put your health in the hands of pilot Tom Paris. :)
Michael - Tue, Jul 6, 2010 - 9:43am (USA Central)
I liked this episode a lot and, despite some people's misgivings, Janeway's metamorphosis into a badass was the best part! She acted realistically and normally, like any human being in her position would, instead of the imperious sanctimonious busybody we usually get in her.

The resolution to the problem with Equinox and the aliens was cathartic and fair, and yet, it did not involve the customary corny, soppy and predictable deus-ex-machina-type of catalyst.

As for the few holes and lack of continuity... - well, it's what we've gotten used to by now so that's not even a criterion of quality anymore. It was an engaging and imaginative plot apposite to a sci-fi show: THAT's what counts.

3.5 stars.
sweezely - Wed, Jul 14, 2010 - 12:49am (USA Central)
There were a lot of things about the Equinox's story that didn't quite tie together. In part I Captain Ransom says they travelled 10,000 light-years in two weeks, yet in part II the aliens that showed them the, er, "magic fuel creatures" were only 50 light-years behind them (and with a ship only two light years away). So either Voyager missed an empire spanning 9998 light years or the writers forgot exactly how long they'd been doing it. Then there's the food thing. They'd been starving for weeks but they still had rations left to eat? It's a shame less time was spent on the story of the Equinox and more time on pointless action.

Captain Ransom had too easy a change of heart. He went from "I had no choice!" to "killing an uncertain number of these magic beings is probably wrong" in the space of one e-walk down an e-beach. In the first part he seemed like a steely-determined monster who felt nothing at murdering dozens, and the next part a man who couldn't bear to see another creature die. Again, the fact that it was never made clear just exactly how many had died made a discontinuity between the two halves. In part I it implies he's killed dozens and has little guilt. In part II it implies fewer murders (but the necessity of more to come) but a lot more guilt. I found the change jarring.

Then there's Janeway having a meltdown and going almost insane with vengeance. It seemed like a huge leap out of character, especially considering she was putting her crew in danger for what seemed to amount to a vague personal vendetta that had been brewing for all of five minutes. Perhaps it would have made sense more had it been leading to a continuing story arc, rather than a predictable one episode conclusion. And no one mentions it ever again. Maybe she should lay off the coffee for a while.

Oh, and the Doctor's magical reappearance with ethics reinstated. What was that all about?

A disappointing conclusion to a promising first part.
Cloudane - Tue, Jan 11, 2011 - 6:03pm (USA Central)
I liked the episode but not Janeway. (Rodenberry was probably spinning in his grave at some of this stuff - weren't humans supposed to be above savegery at this point? It certainly seems to prove Q right)

She can be entertaining in "good badass" mode but it just feels wrong when she goes into cold blooded mode. She's also a hypocrite, attempting murder on fellow Starfleet officers because of their morality problems; what about her own?!

Also isn't it possible for the first officer to relieve a captain of duty if her judgement is impaired (which it clearly was with her vendetta against Ransom), would've been a good idea of so.

Luckily for her it all worked out. I'm glad she acknowledged it at the end, at least, and the symbolism with the plaque was very well done.

Now somebody please grow Chakotay a pair, I believe he lost them around season 4.
Dan Smith - Sun, Oct 9, 2011 - 12:08pm (USA Central)
"Janeway's actions venture dangerously near the realm of wrong-headed insanity"

I'd say she went way past wrong-headed insanity. Problem is, it's completely arbitrary. Writers thought it would be ironic if she started rationalizing her morality in order to enforce it on someone else, so they flipped a switch. Later, when it's time for "resolution," they flip the switch again, and all is right again.

As an aside, note to Starfleet Security: given that knowledge of the shield frequency is enough to render shields COMPLETELY USELESS, it might be wise to limit access to that information. I'm not sure the ship's doctor needs to know about shield frequencies in order to do his job...
Cappo - Thu, Mar 8, 2012 - 5:08pm (USA Central)
I've been watching the show in order (or close to it, I skipped the Warp 10 episode) for the first time probably since it originally aired... I just finished this episode.

What I can't believe no one's mentioned in all this time is in that scene where she (temporarily) fires Chakotay she tells him "you leave me no choice."

I was already mentally saying to myself 'she's starting to act like Ransom' and then she utters his catch phrase! Knowing the writers on the show I wasn't sure if that was intentional at the time, at least until we see that the dedication plaque fell off the wall near the end.

In spite of her supposed intentions, she wasn't acting like a proper Starfleet officer herself, and at least this time the writers apparently intended that. (As opposed to other episodes where you have no idea if the writers noticed what they actually wrote.) I don't know what that says about the episode one way or the other but I thought it was noteworthy that Ransom-itis seemed to be contagious.

Also, I agree that the Doc just showing up like that did scream "cut scene(s)."
Rosario - Wed, Apr 4, 2012 - 12:53am (USA Central)
No one is pointing out that in the first part was see a bridge officer of the Equinox get mummified in seconds on contact with one of these "life forms!" And then in the opening scene we see Chakotay take a *direct hit* and within a commercial break he's up and arguing with the Captain. It wasn't just our intrepid main cast either, even the nameless crew-members of Voyager were highly resistant as the full sick bay could attest to (One casualty noted).
Oh and that at the very end when Max gets it they once again have instant mummification powers. That "little" inconsistency bothers the hell out of me.
Zero - Thu, Apr 5, 2012 - 11:15pm (USA Central)
I always believed that one of the reasons that Janeway went so crazily over the line to stop them was that it was clear that their ship would reach home first. I think she couldn't stomach that the morally degenerate would be home and Voyager would limp across the finish line 40 years later - graying and infirm but morally correct.
Jelendra - Tue, May 22, 2012 - 4:40am (USA Central)
This was one of my favorite two parters...There were some weird plot holes but overall great. Janeway losing it was a nice touch and I agreed with her choices..and I understood Chakotay's as well.

The scene with evil Doc singing with 7 ? I think it was inspired...It made Capt. Ransom realize just what he had become, made 7 look very vulnerable, and gave us an ugly view of what the Doc minus morality might look like...Well done. I have a feeling we wont be seeing any more of the Equinox crew in upcoming episodes, but they would make some interesting story material to be sure...
Curtis - Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - 5:49am (USA Central)
One scene I have never understood is that scene where Ransom's ship heads into the atmosphere of the planet and Voyager follows it too. Then, for some reason, Voyager can't sustain the atmosphere anymore and must ascend while the Equinox was fine. But Equinox was a smaller ship and had suffered more damage. Voyager is the one that loses warp drive after that while the Equinox warps away. Makes no sense.

The other thing that makes no sense in this scene is the whole scene itself. Why was the Equinox going into the atmosphere in the first place? And why would Voyager follow them down? Why wouldn't Voyager just stay above them in orbit where it's safe and wait for them to come back up? They would be able to see them the entire time! After like 14 years I still don't get it.
Thorin Hayward - Sat, Dec 8, 2012 - 5:00am (USA Central)
It's nice to have a symbolic scene with Janeway stating that the Voyager plaque never fell off the wall before, but how about some actual consequences and fallout for her high handed actions towards the people around her? Maybe even deign to apologise just once or in this case have Chakotay call her out for her treatment of him and show a little resentment, when all he did was try to stop her from killing someone for information. But of course this is Voyager and moral grandstanding trumps everything even hypocrisy, and the reset button is set to automatic.
Arachnea - Sun, Jan 20, 2013 - 10:55pm (USA Central)
Overall, I like these two-parters but did we really have to have Janeway becoming Sisko ?

Janeway has made bad decisions, has been wrong-headed and a little obsessive in the past. Sometimes, her behavior could be explained by the fact that she's all alone, no backup, to make tough and stressfull decisions.

But here, it doesn't make any sense. I'd have accepted some borderline obsession, but a cold-hearted murderer... and twice ! Once with the interrogation and then with the pact with the aliens. I also agree that Chakotay and Tuvok should have taken actions against their captain and I'd have liked to see more consequences.
Nic - Mon, Jun 10, 2013 - 12:46pm (USA Central)
"other members of the Equinox crew are brought aboard Voyager (including Lessing and Gilmore, who had better become recurring characters after all this)"

Hindsight really hurts this show more than the individual episodes do (well, most of them anyway). I like to assume they're the ones who are building shuttles round the clock for Chakotay to crash.
Paul - Mon, Jun 10, 2013 - 7:59pm (USA Central)
@Nic: Thing is, would it have really been that hard to just have one of the two actors show up for like one episode -- or not have them come over at all?

This is just a perfect example of why Voyager was SO frustrating.
Mahmoud - Fri, Jun 14, 2013 - 10:05pm (USA Central)
I disagree with some of the others, the scene with Jeri Ryan and Picardo singing was masterfully done. Just how incredibly rich and beautiful her voice is aside, it really hit home how bravely she was facing a fate worse than death, yet nevertheless was certainly still scared and vulnerable.

As much as Voyager benefited from the infusion of life and character with the presence of Ryan, I sometimes dream about an alternate universe where she performed minor miracles behind a microphone.
Leah - Sat, Jun 22, 2013 - 9:58pm (USA Central)
I'm watching this show all the way through for the first time now that it's on Netflix, and I have to say...I can see why so many people called it frustrating, derivative and weak. So much potential squandered. I lament when I think about what it could have been. This two-parter started off with promise but there was too much wrong with the second part for me to consider it successful.

We've spent how many years following the doctor's personal development and sentience? *poke poke* Ethical subroutines deleted...instant Dr. Evil. As someone else already stated, even the Equinox's EMH retained loyalty to his crew. This struck all sorts of sour chords with me. Character development? F**k that sh!t, this is Voyager, bitches, where characters always take a back seat to forced drama.

Speaking of which, I freaking hate hate hate hate HATED Janeway in this episode! I've never been a huge fan of her hypocritical, wishy-washy, inconsistent personality that changes to conveniently suit the plot, but this went way too far. This wasn't bad-ass, it was bat-shit crazy! She has the gall to moralize to Cpt. Ransom about losing his humanity and then follows down the exact same path, except for FAR shallower reasons. Janeway's morally questionable actions in the past have almost always been for the benefit of ship and crew, not that such a thing makes it justifiable but at least more easily empathized with. Here, she as much as says ship and crew be damned, I'ma get that sonofabitch! At least Ransom did what he did for his crew and was showing signs of remorse for everything he'd done, especially when he realized that his corruption was starting to extend to other human beings. And in the end, he died trying to right his wrongs. Janeway? A few throw-away lines at the very end of the episode that made everything all happy-happy-joy-joy better again. Yes, the episode acknowledged that Janeway was truly in the wrong (miraculously) with the symbolism of the fallen plaque, but this sentiment lacked the resonance that was needed, seeing as how there were NO consequences for any of the crap she pulled.

Before anyone thinks I'm biased, I couldn't stand it when Sisko did it either. Are humans capable of illogical actions due to high emotion? Of course! But these are Star Fleet command officers. They go through extensive training and psychological evaluation to make sure they're fit for the rigors of shouldering the burden of that kind of responsibility.

I'll climb down off my soapbox now. Ironically enough, I usually tend to give this show a large amount of lenience despite all of its inconsistencies and frustrations, and try to focus on the positive elements. This one just overwhelmed my typical good-natured generosity to the point that I had to vent my indignation over it.
Jo Jo Meastro - Wed, Jul 3, 2013 - 11:32am (USA Central)
When I noticed Bannon Braga and Joe Menosky together in the writing credits, I was quite pleased since these two seem to draw on each others' creative strengths (Year Of Hell is a nice example of this). Coupled by having the distinctive David Livingston helming the episode, it was all looking good. And it was good IMO.

Jammer put it best when he said the story does a good job despite the fact its' filled with foregone conclusions. There were numerous flaws and it certainly is not a contender for being classic, but its' a memorable engaging actioner with a welcome darker tone.

I hope at least Ensign Lessing shows up again. The potential drama of having a disgraced alienated Ensign working under a Captain who nearly let him die in a fit of rage sounds like a delicious under-dog tragic story! I doubt I'll see that, but no harm in dreaming!
skadoo - Thu, Jul 11, 2013 - 7:31pm (USA Central)
I liked this episode even thought it resembles swiss cheese with all of the plot holes and errors. Janeway going bat shit crazy was something I liked because of the "oh, no!" factor but it should have had a longer impact and like all of you I can lament what could have been with this show.
azcats - Fri, Aug 9, 2013 - 11:08am (USA Central)
Doc: Holodeck 2, tomorrow. just you me and a tuning fork.

lol

I dont think the singing was gratuitous. i think it added to Ransom's moral dilemna. The doctor was clearly taking joy in his disecting of a human being. the evilness of the doc only hastens Ransom's moral battle.

I liked that janeway went too far. not every captain on star trek can be perfect all the time. it gave her that "humanity" that others have shown. although, i think she should have given herself a reprimand. i bet harry kim thinks so.

i like that Ransom and Janeway were crossing paths in their morality.

@cappo.
good point about "no choice."

finally, did everyone enjoy that there was no neelix in the 2nd part? if he was, i sure dont remember him. lol

any episode that fully entertains me is at least 3 stars. i give this 3.5 stars. fully entertaining.
Tom - Tue, Sep 3, 2013 - 12:53am (USA Central)
This is BS. Both Tuvok and Chakotey should have relived her of duty.

So unrealistic.
Susan - Fri, Nov 22, 2013 - 7:51pm (USA Central)
So the doc from Equinox has his ethical subroutines deleted and he still cares about his ship and crew and stays loyal to the end, but the doc from Voyagers loses his ethical subroutine and turns into Holosatan? There was no real character growth, no real advancement in sentience, it was all just his ethical subroutines? I can't take him seriously now, the whole 'personal exploration' thing isn't real after all, if he can lose it with a push of a button and not just his ethics but anything and everything meaningful at all, then it's all just a program, he's not sentient at all. My favorite character really isn't a character. It's like finding out my favorite part of the whole show is the warp core. Wow.
Latex Zebra - Sun, Jan 5, 2014 - 5:12am (USA Central)
Awful, Janeway at her worst.

A shame as there is some stuff to enjoy in this episode but also a lot to dislike.
Can't be arsed to go into them all but both Tom and Susan (above) touched on things that sprung to mind when rewatching.
Chris P - Wed, Feb 5, 2014 - 2:33pm (USA Central)
Awful.

Everything that happens is pre-determined in an outline and then the writers just contrive a way to make them happen.

Equinox crew is locked up? We'll come up with some silly way of them escaping. Equinox crew is on Voyager? We'll make up some stuff about how they locked VOYAGER'S OWN BRIDGE OUT OF THEIR OWN SYSTEMS so they could escape.

Voyager is hot on Equinox's heels and about to take them out? Equinox dives into the atmosphere and, for reasons unknown, Janeway follows them in instead of pacing them from up in space where they could easily contain them.

I could do 100 more examples from this two parter but the bottom line is that this is not good television or storytelling in my opinion. Much of what happens does NOT happen organically: it is instead contrived to move the plot to the next set piece.

Awful.

1.5 stars. Interesting ideas and good effects were a plus, as was Janeway finally showing a less naive side.
Bill Galligan - Sun, Feb 16, 2014 - 9:33pm (USA Central)
Awful

Because Voyager sucks.
Amanda - Mon, Feb 17, 2014 - 12:32am (USA Central)
The extra crew had me thinking I would have liked seeing Ransom's crew on episode Good Shepard. :-)
GLJeremy - Tue, Feb 25, 2014 - 5:31pm (USA Central)
There is a lot to like in this episode but I think part 1 is superior, primarily because the character changes for Janeway in this episode don't feel right at all. When I first saw it, I was so assuming there was some other force acting on the ship (Like killing the first entity accidentally set off a sort of virus that eroded the human ethics) It would have explained Janeways change of character and why Ransom seemed to come out of a fugue when he was the primary instigator and Max seemed to get worse, and it would have explained the Equinox's descent into monstrous actions. It really seemed set up for this. They called the entities something like "Good fortune spirits" so I kept thinking they were going to reveal they potentially effected Humans oppositely. I was so surprised when it was just a strait forward "Janeway is out of character" moment. Especially when it was just the season finally before that the characterization was directly opposed to.
Paul - Wed, Jun 4, 2014 - 4:39pm (USA Central)
This was a good two-parter. But the fact that we never see the Equinox crew members who came to Voyager again was just ridiculous.

Spalding - Tue, Jul 1, 2014 - 5:24am (USA Central)
Stop complaining that JAneway acted like the villain. That's the point. She lost her way temporarily, and found it back. She, like the EQuinox captain, found herself in a messed up situation in which immorality seemed like the only course of action. Sisko regularly did this kind of stuff, and you guys love it. In Voyager, when this stuff is done, the series at least acknowleges that IT IS BAD.
Robert - Tue, Jul 1, 2014 - 8:13am (USA Central)
@Spalding - I was actually going to quote you dialogue about how utterly wrong you were (especially since you seem to imply DS9 does NOT acknowledge when things are bad... in Sisko's darkest hour he spends the whole hour convincing himself he can live with it).

But then I came across this.

JANEWAY: How's the crew?
CHAKOTAY: A lot of frayed nerves. Neelix is organizing a potluck to help boost morale.
JANEWAY: Will I see you there?
CHAKOTAY: I'm replicating the salad.
JANEWAY: I'll bring the croutons. Chakotay. You know, you may have had good reason to stage a little mutiny of your own.
CHAKOTAY: The thought had occurred to me, but that would have been crossing the line.
JANEWAY: Will you look at that. All these years, all these battles, this thing's never fallen down before.
CHAKOTAY: Let's put it back up where it belongs.

Is Janeway apologizing (by saying that she was so out of line that he had reason to mutiny) or just hoping they can work past their differences? I actually could read it either way and it puts a VERY different spin on an episode I've previously really hated if she actually thinks she was wrong.

I'd say it really depends on how it was acted. Anyone see this recently have an opinion?
Robert - Tue, Jul 1, 2014 - 8:25am (USA Central)
Don't get me wrong, I was pleased the episode acknowledged that Janeway was wrong, but if Janeway herself doesn't know that (and in my viewing I didn't feel that she was sorry) then they are still following a psychopath. And considering Janeway has a lot of questionable command decisions (more so than any other captain in my opinion) she needed to acknowledge she was wrong. But I haven't seen the episode in 10 years, so it's entirely possible that she acted it like that.
Elliott - Fri, Jul 4, 2014 - 6:50pm (USA Central)
A brief Sisko/Janeway questionable-decision arc comparison :

SISKO :

-His young family is suddenly broken by the loss of his wife. A seed of resentment is planted against Starfleet, personified by Picard.
-A few months later, Sisko plays apologist to the Bajorans for Federation idealism.
-Later, Sisko lies to Starfleet and obfuscates issues of betrayal, war-mongering, sedition and selfishness under the pretext of loyalty to his traitorous friend, Cal Hudson.
-A year later, Sisko finds himself in the MU, where he promptly drops all notions of moral Starfleet behaviour in confronting the alternate version of Jennifer.
-A year after that, Sisko uncovers a plot to militarise Starfleet and impose martial law on Earth.
-A few months after that, Sisko discovers Eddington to be a Maquis spy and finds himself personally betrayed by one of his officers. Obviously, Starfleet chooses to promote him to captain.
-Nearly a year later, "visions" from the WA convince Sisko to disobey his orders and undermine his primary mission by recommending Bajor abandon its newly-offered Federation membership.
-Inexplicably still in command of DS9, he ends up poisoning an entire planet in his quest to capture Eddington.
-For reasons left unexplained, Sisko (the liar, the obfuscator, religious icon, and cause of the Dominion War) is placed in command of a large fleet of ships about a year after he was promoted to captain. His military stroke of genius? Ask the prophets to delete the Domion fleet inside the wormhole.
-Later that year, Sisko learns that the subversion from "Homefront" has continued in that Red Squad has continued to perform rogue ops in the war, while Section 31 is revealed as the amoral strongarm of Starfleet. In the midst of this and a losing war effort, Sisko decides to enlist Garak to trick the Romulans into entering the fight, indirectly causing the death of two people.
-Sisko's best friend is killed and Sisko inexplicably blames himself not only for that but for the release of the Pagh Wraiths, so he runs home to Earth to play the piano.
-After three months of THAT, Starfleet decides to let Sisko resume being the commander of DS9 and an even larger fleet of ships since he opened the magic box.
-In the end, Sisko, who worked hard to explain the importance of learning and linear existence to the WA finds himself "resurrected" and a WA himself, totally unconcerned with those human ideals he so defended (not to mention the son he claimed to love).

JANEWAY :

-In order to protect a species she barely knows, she decides to destroy her and her crew's only immediate means of returning home to their lives.
-Broodings of rebellion aside, Janeway is adamant that Starfleet principals be upheld to the letter in their dealings in the DQ.
-This attitude results in an extended conflict with the Kazon, the betrayal of Seska and eventually almost finding her entire crew marooned on a primitive planet for the rest of their lives.
-After this point, Janeway's behaviour begins to change. In a like vein from her dealings with Tuvix, Janeway begins placing the priorities of her crew over her ideals and regulations--deciding to bypass sovereign borders and violate some local laws, the PD be damned.
-Eventually, she finds herself against a seemingly intractable problem, the Borg. By chance, she happens to find them in a state of relative weakness, which she decides to exploit (in a complete reversal of her attitude in "Caretaker") to provide for her crew.
-A few months later, this is reëchoed in her compromise with the Hirogen; her attitude from "State of Flux" is again reversed and she *gives away* Federation technology to save her crew.
-Months later, Janeway meets the first unintended victims of her alliance with the Borg in the person of Arturis. which leads her to distance herself from the crew and begin a process of self-torture.
-Over the next year, her decisions for getting her crew home become more and more desperate (Timeless, Counterpoint, Dark Frontier).
-Then she meets Ransom and the Equinox crew, and her slow descent into recklessness is uncomfortably shone back in her face. And it makes her angry enough to all but lose her humanity.
-Over the next year, Janeway recoils further into a relationship with a holographic man, but also makes the effort to bond with the more distant members of her crew (Good Shepherd)
-Finally, Janeway is confronted with the opportunity to repent for earlier crime with the Borg and incite a rebellion against them. Her desperation is extreme enough to warrant getting herself nearly assimilated in the process.
-Months later, she gets the chance to undo the damage from another one of her decisions and *stop* Iden's own rebellion against Organics.
-Eventually, Janeway finds herself unexpectedly freed from the crushing burdens of her difficult command and living a life of blissfully ignorant simplicity, only to have it violently ripped away from her.
-In "Endgame," it is revealed how this path eventually leads Janeway to become so utterly concerned with making up for her perceived mistakes to her crew, that she becomes totally blind to all the good that developed as a result of her leadership concurrently. It takes a trip through time and confronting her past to realise this.

Janeway, although never accountable to Starfleet, paid dearly over the course of her journey for her *necessary* descent into morally dubious if not outright "evil" behaviour, while Sisko was constantly rewarded by Starfleet, rewarded by the Prophets and eventually granted a Godhead for all of his questionable/evil decisions.
Niall - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 7:29am (USA Central)
Elliott, you've been banging a drum on here about DS9 vs Voyager for about as long as there have been comments on the site, there are diatribes of yours on this theme on what feels like every article. I love DS9 and I enjoyed Voyager - I'll defend Voyager and certainly enjoyed it more than a lot of fans - but your readings of the two shows are so selective, highly skewed and partisan as to come over as completely bizarre. Who are you trying to convince? This isn't the way to do it. I'm not opposed to people debating the relative merits of DS9 and Voyager at all, I welcome it - after all, both shows ran at the same time but are very different beasts. But you can never just comment on one of Jammer's articles in a normal, open, constructive way or with an interesting insight, opinion or critique, it always has to be this aggrandising shoebox-preaching trying to prove in every possible context (bearing in mind one can never prove a subjective opinion) how Voyager is superior to DS9 - paired with attacks on Jammer's "bias". Newsflash, his tastes and reviews are subjective. I wouldn't rate much of the final season of BSG as highly as Jammer did, for instance, but that's because he and I are different people and I'm hardly going to start attacking him for overrating or underrating shows just because his opinion is different to mine, like yourself and a fair few others here do. It comes over like a bizarre obsession. What is your point? Why are you so insistent on grinding this particular axe? I'm all for discussing DS9 and VOY's relative merits and drawbacks, but can you take off the blinkers and the bizarre slant you unfailingly to the table for one second?
Elliott - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 11:44am (USA Central)
@Niall :

I did not start this discussion : Spalding wrote --

"Stop complaining that JAneway acted like the villain. That's the point. She lost her way temporarily, and found it back. She, like the EQuinox captain, found herself in a messed up situation in which immorality seemed like the only course of action. Sisko regularly did this kind of stuff, and you guys love it. In Voyager, when this stuff is done, the series at least acknowleges that IT IS BAD."

and a thread ensued. I simply weighed in with my own contribution.

Too often, I'm confronted with comments on this site and in the reviews which are possessed of a nauseating double standard when it comes to these two shows. Only in the last year or so have I begun to witness (on this site anyway) a slow reversal in the DS9 love-fest. If a major portion of the reviews and comments on this site were not self-congratulatory masturbating on why VOY is "terrible" precisely because it wasn't DS9, I would probably never bring it up myself.


As I've said, I am (finally) not the only one doing this anymore. Look, if you'd like, at my comments over the site. They are not ALL about DS9/VOY and I almost always try to make a positive contribution to an ongoing discussion about whichever show/subject is being discussed.
Paul M. - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 12:40pm (USA Central)
It's not by accident that cop/doctor/legal procedurals are so often scoffed at, occasional good/great show aside. It's not that they are always bad--though many certainly are--it's the fact that they usually don't take creative chances and are treading narrative water (been there, done that) that annoys people who want something more from their TV series.

Shows that leave their mark for years to come are either those that break new ground and boldly change TV landscape--certain modern cable dramas are good examples--or those that bring new twists and innovative takes on well-established formats.

Deep Space Nine, whatever one may think of it, had the conviction and courage to truly shake up the status quo of Star Trek franchise. It pushed the envelope of what Star Trek can be pretty far, so far in fact that many Trekkies refuse to call it True Trek(TM). At the very least, it had vision. For good or ill, it tried to say something. Maybe you don't agree with the message, maybe you think it was badly delivered, but it was a show that was opinionated, irreverent of established rules (up to a certain point; DS9 wasn't *that* rebellious), and unafraid of taking creative risks. Sometimes it payed off, other times not so much. But for all its flaws, DS9 strived to be more than another repetition of an established formula. If nothing else, that's the legacy it leaves behind and that's why, after 15 years, it's alongside TNG and TOS the best regarded of Trek shows.

Voyager is slickly produced and often fun, I'll give you that. But really, what does it bring to the franchise? What new frontier does it explore that wasn't explored to death in previous shows? What does it *dare* to do? I think Bob Seger's "Beautiful Loser" perfectly conveys Voyager, the perpetual underachiever.

He wants to dream like a young man
With the wisdom of an old man.
He wants his home and security,
He wants to live like a sailor at sea.
Beautiful loser, where you gonna fall?
You realize you just can't have it all.
Elliott - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 1:21pm (USA Central)
What the hell did TNG dare to do? Cash in on the renewed financial success of the franchise while preaching Marxist philosophy? The fact that DS9 was the "upstart" Trek is not commendable. As I've said before, being Trek at all already meant occupying a rarified place on television. Morally and formally, Trek was a unique phenomenon and that specialness is hardly watered down by (at the time of VOY's close) 14 years of being on the air.

DS9's "new frontier" is a fallacy. DS9 retreaded the old frontier to make reversals (and apologies) for TOS and especially TNG. Formally, yes DS9 was novel and there is a lot to like about the show, but praising something for being "new" is just faddism. Voyager was a respectable reformulation of the Trek model that offered a few new insights, some memorable characters and a satisfying drama (in addition to the glitz and gloss).

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst, age vexes age,
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, and go bathe and admire myslef.

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied--I see, dance, laugh, sing.
Paul M. - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 1:45pm (USA Central)
In the late 80's, the sci-fi TV landscape was barely existing. It was a barren wasteland back then. TNG was indeed a breath of fresh air and something very unique at the time. That's not faddism, that's called being original. TNG and DS9, whatever you may think of them, were ORIGINAL! They tried new things and new directions, offered to the audiences something they couldn't get elsewhere. They were patently their own!

Voyager and Enterprise? Fun shows. I guess.
Elliott - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 2:16pm (USA Central)
So if a show like Dr Who were, instead of one continuous, decades-long programme, a series of five programmes airing one after the other, would every show except the first be "unoriginal" even if the episodic content were the same?

Star Trek is Star Trek, whether it's on the Enterprise or on the Voyager and even (though to a somewhat lesser degree) on Deep Space 9.
Paul M. - Sat, Jul 5, 2014 - 2:35pm (USA Central)
I haven't watched Dr Who, so I can't comment on that. However I'd hazard a guess that the fact that certain "generations" of that series were much better received than others had at least something to do with "tinkering" with the formula or reinventing the show or something. As I said, I'm not qualified to discuss this; maybe someone who is could chime in.

I don't know about you, but I want freshness and new ideas in all the TV series I watch. I have no patience with derivative stuff when there's so many great things to see on TV. Trek has produced over 700 episodes. I am really not in the mood to watch one unending soap opera that eternally recycles themes and adventures. I want new ideas and new formulas that still stay true to the general ethos of Star Trek.
Niall - Sun, Jul 6, 2014 - 9:59am (USA Central)
TNG "preaching Marxist philosophy"? Lol. That is such an American (a specific kind of American) thing to say.
Grumpy - Sun, Jul 6, 2014 - 12:38pm (USA Central)
Wine shirts = aristocracy, born to rule
Teal shirts = bourgeoisie, the capital-hoarding elite
Mustard shirts = proletariat, oppressed until the revolution comes

Indeed, the inversion of red/yellow between TOS and TNG could illustrate the results of revolution, when the exploited backbone of Starfleet -- the machinery operators and cannon fodder -- finally overturned the social order.
Elliott - Sun, Jul 6, 2014 - 3:49pm (USA Central)
I don't care to guess what "specific" breed of American you assume me to be, but I happen to applaud the TNG economic ethos myself. That does not dismiss the hypocrisy of a cash-cow franchise upholding a non-materialistic worldview.

When TOS was on the air, Trek was not a particularly profitable franchise, thus the ethos (combined with the racial and sexual equality to which it at least aspired) was quite unique in television. I grant that to TOS. But TNG? TNG just wanted to be good Trek with a new crew. What, generally (not specifically) did TNG add to the franchise? Cannot the same be said of VOY?
Paul M. - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 3:52am (USA Central)
TOS was nowhere near the morality of TNG, all the talk about Gene's "vision" notwithstanding. It was a western in spacw where the only truly moral and upstanding people were Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. These were their tales. Almost every other human and/or representative of Federation and Starfleet we met was an incompetent bureaucrat, crazy governor, mad scientist, space prostitute, or a weak-willed toady too easily tempted by promise of great power.

TNG was the first Trek series that really depicted the whole "paradise thing" Trek is now famous for. If TOS was the western frontier, TNG was paradise itself. I posit that the modern morality of Trek, its themes and ideals, as well as the look and feel of the franchise, all began in earnest with The Next Generation. It is *very* different from TOS in both tone and underlying assumptions.

TOS: Building the paradise
TNG: Living the paradise
DS9: Deconstructing the paradise
VOY: Fun show, ain't it?
Elliott - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 11:53am (USA Central)
@Paul :

That's bullshit and you know it.

When did Kirk's Enterprise do any "paradise building"?

Did not TNG deconstruct the concept as much as it "lived in" it?

Not to mention, the whole notion of the Federation (or Earth) being paradise only ever came up on DS9 because the writers were cynical, spiteful and arrogant.

However, using that problematic term,

ENT, terrible though most of it was, would be the "Building the Paradise" Trek.
TOS & VOY : Paradise on the frontier, a century of values apart.
TNG & DS9 : Paradise's Infrastructure - one generally pro, one con.
Paul M. - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 12:55pm (USA Central)
I didn't say that Kirk was the one building the paradise, just that TOS, like any Western, portrays a life on the frontier with protagonists trying to build a better future for themselves or their families. And since that future becomes "paradise" by the 24th century, it isn't inaccurate to say that TOS is set in an era that paradise is being born, piece by piece, brick by brick. TOS's morality play structure suits this format quite well as we see Kirk and his crew demonstrating the kind of behaviour and principles that will one day result in a better future of Picard's days.

I don't know why you're being so reductivist with my proposed "subtitles" for various Trek series. It's only natural that not every episode fits the theme nicely, but it isn't without merit.

As I said, TOS is, broadly speaking, about bringing civilisation to the frontier. TNG, first season aside, is mostly set within the "main body" of the Federation and is most firmly associated with Trek's utopian future. Sure, there are multiple episodes that show us the other side of the coin, but those were never the focus of the show. DS9, on the other hand, is once more set on the frontier, but weaves in the way "centre" reacts with said frontier. It "deconstructs" the paradise and tries to see what makes it tick and whether its values survive extreme pressures on multiple fronts.

For all my efforts, I can't quite see what Voyager contributes to the larger Trek universe. What points of view does it represent that haven't already been explored? Moving away from ethos, what plot elements does it introduce. explore, and move forward that make it a worthwhile addition to the franchise?

That's the root of the problem many have with Voyager. Say what you will about the first 3 Trek shows, at least they were trailblazers in a way, each revealing a new facet of the universe they inhabit. Or put it this way: look at the essential and the most thematic representatives of the first three shows and you'll see those episodes would never work in the other two. You can't pick a TOS episode and interchange it with a TNG one (well, you can, but then you get TNG Season 1). Likewise, DS9 is recognisably its own. Voyager? Take a random TNG episode, slap some new paint and voila, there's a Voyager episode. Exaggerating a bit, of course. There are some eps that really *are* Voyager (this very one, for example), but they are with barely any internal cohesion to the show's larger themes and without any connection with what came before or what comes after that I hesitate to call it "essential Voyager". The show is simply derivative, that's all.
Elliott - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 1:32pm (USA Central)
Reductivist? Forgive me, I don't mean to come across as pedantic here, but do you mean reductionist, or are you saying that Trek, as an artform, can be appraised in minimalist terms?

I'm going to assume you meant reductionist, in which case, your choice to subtitle the shows as you did is a sign of *your* reductionism, not mine. As I said, the whole concept of "paradise" was not brought up *except* on DS9. Looking back at all the other Trek series from that perspective, introduced on that one show, you have a point, but that's a very DS9-centric way of appraising the franchise's values.

Even in those terms, however, Voyager's contribution to the Universe is valid :

If TOS represents a 23rd-century evolved humanity, stretching out and civilising their immediate Universe,

and TNG represents the fallout from that civilising, a fully realised and integrated 24-century evolved humanity living within the boundaries of its expansion,

and DS9 represents the reactionary element of that civilisation, as well as the influence of external pressures on that evolved humanity,

then VOY represents the isolation of the evolved 24th-century humanity and its effects.

Regarding your "essential Trek" analysis, I think we all know there are multiple episodes of every series (TOS included) which could be easily transposed into one of the other incarnations. I'd go so far as to say that many of the episodes the Treks are versions of one another.

Examples :

TOS "Space Seed" ENT "Regeneration"--TOS does it better
DS9 "Accention" VOY "Mortal Coil"--VOY does it better
VOY "The Killing Game" DS9 "Far Beyond the Stars" -- DS9 does it better
TNG "Measure of a Man" DS9 "Dax"--TNG does it better
VOY "Prototype" ENT "Dear, Doctor"--ENT does it better

Is Voyager derivative of TOS? Yes, of course, as are ALL the incarnations of Trek in one way or another.
Latex Zebra - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 2:56pm (USA Central)
I know I like to dig at Voyager and am a big DS9 fan.

I was thinking about this the other day, as you do, that DS9 and Voyager have a lot more memorable episodes across 7 seasons than TNG. In my opinion of course.

TNG's just happen to be the best but they're fewer in my opinion.
I have every season of DS9, 5 seasons of Voyager and exactly zero TNG on DVD. I'm loathe to pay out for a boxset for 1 maybe 2 really stand out episodes whereas DS9 and Voyager (regardless of their flaws) have much more watchable decent episodes.

TNG is clearly the most Trekkian of them all. Voyager moralistly (is that a word) tries, sometimes suceeds and sometimes fails. DS9 treads that middle ground with complicated characters and decisions that made, on first airing, shocking viewing.

Anyway, I think the point I am trying to make is this discussion has gone on years and years. Voyager vs DS9 has outlasted Nintendo vs Sega and will probably outlive PlayStation vs XBox.
All have moments of greatness and even the biggest DS9/Voyager hater can't be impressed by the quality and entertainment of many of the stories that both series have provided.

Paul M. - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 4:01pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: "then VOY represents the isolation of the evolved 24th-century humanity and its effects."

Only it doesn't. Voyager pays lip service to the idea of being stranded far away from home, it pretends that the ship's situation has meaning and repercussions. But it doesn't. In what appreciable way does the crew (apart from Doc and Seven, and even they sporadically) evolve and/or change to showcase this? And please don't answer with an answer of your own: "And in what way does the crew of TNG change?" because, as you yourself said, "TNG represents the fallout from that civilising, a fully realised and integrated 24-century evolved humanity".

Again, put it this way. If we were to completely erase any of the first three Trek shows form our collective memories, Trek ethos as well as its general themes and ideas would be pretty different. Trek without TNG would in all probability drastically change all "second generation" Trek because it laid the foundation for all the series that came after in tone, spirit, worldbuilding, you name it. Trek without DS9? Well, you are the best evidence on this site as to the influence of the show. It undeniably impacted Trekkian values and its outlook on human nature, the role of institutions, etc. If we are to move away from discussing Trek values for a moment, DS9 was very distinct in its approach to serialisation, support cast, and plot arcs. If nothing else, it's hard to dispute that it was a departure in those terms at least. If we disregard Voyager? I honestly can't see the franchise being one iota different.
Niall - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 4:44pm (USA Central)
What Paul wrote isn't "bullshit", Elliott, it's a good concise summary. Moreover, it is also, of course, Paul's subjective opinion (which I happen to agree with), so your claim of it being "bullshit" cannot even apply as there is no objective truth here. I disagree with much of what you write, Elliott, but I'd never call it "bullshit" because I have a basic openness to other people's opinions and a respect and empathy for the other commenters - things you seem to lack, which is why I'm taking you on right now. When you make comments like that, you bring down the whole site and the whole level of discussion. Consider this scenario: someone comes to the site, maybe for the first time, with an interesting and thoughtful comment. You call it "bullshit", and then maybe they decide this site isn't worth commenting on due to the presence and people such as yourself, and they don't come back. So that's one fewer thoughtful commenter. A loss to the site and the community. That's what this is ultimately about. I also can't imagine calling the writers of even my least-liked books, films, TV shows etc "cynical, spiteful and arrogant", as you call the DS9 writers. When you're making personal comments like that about the personalities and values of people you don't know on the basis of their fiction-writing, we've left the world of rational debate and descended into a puerile, gutter-level slanging match.

Apropos all of this: it's really starting to feel like you're the biggest troll on this site. I'm sure I'm not the only person whose enjoyment of the comments here is increasingly attenuated by your rude and nasty comments such as the above and your fallacious closed arguments (closed in the sense that you are never open to other perspectives, and show no curiosity toward, consideration of, or even basic respect for other people's opinions, surely prerequisites for meaningful, inclusive and rigorous debate), very prolifically on so many of the comment threads here.

And I'm saying this as someone who likes Voyager. You are the show's worst advocate. You don't have remotely the empathy, open intellectual approach or narrative interpretation/drama analysis skills to make the show's case.
Josh - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 4:57pm (USA Central)
Re: Elliott:

"Not to mention, the whole notion of the Federation (or Earth) being paradise only ever came up on DS9 because the writers were cynical, spiteful and arrogant. "

Setting aside this hyperbolic attack on the DS9 writers (most of whom were also TNG writers), the notion of Federation paradise came up repeatedly on TNG from the first season onward. In "The Neutral Zone", Picard and the rest of the crew treat the 20th century humans like backward savages, disparaging concern with money or power, and commenting on their evolved sensibility and life with all material needs met. By the beginning of the sixth season, Troi feels comfortable in dismissing Samuel Clemens' cynicism, commenting that poverty was "eradicated" on Earth, along with "hopelessness", among other "bad things". She makes some pretty remarkable claims, even though in past episodes we've certainly seen *human* colonies and settlements that fall well short of such "paradise" (see Tasha's planet, the DMZ). Maybe the word "paradise" was never used on TNG, but it was most certainly implied, and I don't think Sisko's line from "The Maquis" was without prior TNG basis.

But what *did* Voyager really add? I currently have "Favourite Son" on in the background - an episode that exemplifies Voyager's character development failings. The show was premised on how a ship with a mixed crew of Starfleet and Maquis was to survive and get home from being marooned in the Delta Quadrant, where they'd have no access to Starfleet resources or allies. The character mix was meant to allow for conflict and different agendas, but this was lost after the first or second season. Early on we had Seska and Suder as interesting non-Starfleet perspectives, but the show got bogged down in familiar villain-of-the-season (or week) plotting, with the Kazon serving as by far the most uninteresting and one-dimensional antagonists yet. At least the early Ferengi were bizarre and weird-looking! What's interesting is that DS9's Maquis development never went anywhere on Voyager - you'd expect at least some of Voyager's Maquis shared Eddington's opinions, yet we see no evidence that they even exist after the first season apart from the main cast.

I think Voyager's major problem is that nothing ever had lasting consequences. That's not an opine for serialization, but it would be nice if there'd been an emphasis toward long-term plotting from the very beginning. Unfortunately, Voyager never managed to tell a long-term story from within the ship (except maybe the spy plot of Season two), because they never bothered to develop any significant recurring characters among the crew. Instead they focused on external threats - the Kazon, the Vidiians (probably the most memorable and interesting Voyager contribution), and then later on an overload of Borg.

Ron Moore was right - Voyager remained static and unchanged, with no real pressures or stresses to the crew - or to the Starfleet command structure - despite extreme isolation. Where did they get all those extra shuttles? How did they repair the ship after "The Killing Game"? How did they make repairs? Occasional references to "rations" don't cut it. Even if you accept Janeway's leadership, the fact that there was never even an attempted mutiny on the show is stunning. It's not even about plausibility - that kind of story line could be mined for interesting plots, and instead by season three we got "Rise", "Darkling", "Favourite Son", and other monotony.

In "Equinox" we got to see a Starfleet ship that under similar circumstances ended up going in a very different direction. I don't think the show was ever about picking a "moral" vs. "amoral" course, as this episode seems to require, but that there were story possibilities - one might say imperatives - that were never explored.

And I don't know why you'd compare "Measure of the Man" to "Dax". I'd think "A Matter of Perspective" might be a closer amalgam, though "Dax" regrettably lacks the great dialogue exemplified by "You're a dead man, Apgar! A dead man!"
Josh - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 5:02pm (USA Central)
In fairness, I will grant that said DS9 writers parodied Picard's lines from First Contact not once but twice:

1) Jake quotes Picard's description of Federation ideology ("We work to better ourselves and all humanity.") in "In the Cards", and admits it boils down to not using money.

2) Quark directly quotes Picard in "The Dogs of War", arguing that change in Ferengi society had gone too far: "The line must be drawn here; this far, no further!"
Elliott - Mon, Jul 7, 2014 - 6:40pm (USA Central)
Phew, a lot to answer for I see.

Let's begin.

@Paul M: "Only it doesn't. Voyager pays lip service to the idea of being stranded far away from home, it pretends that the ship's situation has meaning and repercussions. But it doesn't."

This is only true operating under the assumption that being isolated from the Federation would *undermine* Federation values. What's so affirming about the show is that this does NOT happen. They come close (in episodes such as this one), but always pull back from the brink. Admittedly, not all the characters developed sufficiently on the show (Harry, Chakotay, and Neelix to a degree), but the rest showed visible and continuous signs of growth and change *with respect* to their predicament. What VOY did not do is suggest (in most cases), that, like O'Brien in "Hard Time," when under duress, Federation values fall away like flimsy bits of a straw house.

In terms of the Universe dynamics, Voyager added 3 major and important contributions: development of the Borg, a corrective to franchise's misogyny, and a continuation of TNG's AI right's theme. There were also some minor additions to the mythology of Vulcans and Klingons.

I do grant DS9 its full dues in terms of format, continuity care, structure and especially the development of a 2nd-tier cast. If you observe my comments on this site, there is ample evidence of that.

@Niall : As I pointed out in my post following my contention of "bullshit," Paul M's claim that while the first 3 Treks had grandiose themes related to a philosophy of Paradise, while Voyager in its 7 seven seasons amounts to nothing more than "fun" to be an incredibly biased remark. It operates under the assumption that what DS9 attempted to do (philosophically) was good for the franchise, an assumption with no basis in fact.

On to your more expansive point--my willingness, if not eagerness, to discuss nearly every opinion (be it thought-out and cogent) is evidence of my "openness" to other opinions. My reaction to Paul M.'s post was warranted by the flippancy of his remark. He granted all but this show the benefit of an assumed philosophical agenda because of his own bias.

More to the point, you don't get to qualify my posts as "trolling" due to the presence of profanity. That's an elitist position which assumes timbre to equal substance.

Regarding my assessment of the DS9 authors : I make my claims based on the content of the writing, not an assumption of their character. It would take you little time searching through comments on this site for examples of casual dismissal of Voyager writers as "lazy," or "cowardly." Now, I am happy to observe the evidence for these claims, but I do not engage in the kind of hypocrisy you've demonstrated by claiming that such statements are "a puerile, gutter-level slanging match."

Your assessment of me as fallacious in my arguments and closed-minded in my engagement with the opinions of others is easily disproved. Look on the pages for "Hard Time, Far Beyond the Stars, Dear Doctor, Yesterday's Enterprise, or Mortal Coil" for relevant examples.

Finally, I don't need to "make the show's case," as you say. It has its own following and fanbase just like every other Trek. What I object to is the arrogant assumption that Voyager is intellectual stunted in comparison to its predecessors, because it chose to emulate rather than repudiate its progenitors.

@Josh : "Setting aside this hyperbolic attack on the DS9 writers (most of whom were also TNG writers), the notion of Federation paradise came up repeatedly on TNG from the first season onward. "

I don't think so. Yes, your examples and others show how humanity had evolved since the 1980s in your first example or the 1890s in your second. Sisko's line in the episode you mentioned makes the assumption as you. In DS9's case you are willing to forgive this notion because you (presumably) agree with the sentiment.

The Maquis (and we've debated about the validity of their claims) had a particular reason supposedly for abandoning the Federation, and that was over territory. That issue is completely moot in the DQ. One does not get to take a subset of humans with a very specific agenda, remove that agenda, then expect them to act as if they still did. Regarding the minor psychological effect their breaking away might cause, this is present in the show, inasmuch as we see former Maquis (Torres, Paris & Chakotay). VOY's take on what the Maquis would do on Voyager is MORE realistic than the assumed course the show would take of pointless bickering and anti-Starfleet smugness. More realistic if the claims of Picard and Troi in your examples are to be believed. DS9's case is only compelling if you hear those claims and say (if I dare to be profane again) "BULLSHIT!"

"I think Voyager's major problem is that nothing ever had lasting consequences. That's not an opine for serialization, but it would be nice if there'd been an emphasis toward long-term plotting from the very beginning. "

I completely agree. That was Voyager's major flaw, although I don't remember anyone lodging that DS9 had an "overload of Dominion."
Robert - Thu, Jul 10, 2014 - 9:18am (USA Central)
@Elliott - I will disagree (rather largely) with quite a bit of your assessment of Sisko's arc. Your view of Janeway however makes the first 6.75 seasons more interesting I think. I still can't forgive her for the finale and Friendship One.
Elliott - Thu, Jul 10, 2014 - 12:25pm (USA Central)
@Robert : glad I could help! For the record, I don't think we're supposed to forgive Janeway for her line in Friendship One (I assume that's what you're referring to). Rather, I see that as a signpost to the Janeway we see develop in Endgame.
Robert - Thu, Jul 10, 2014 - 12:56pm (USA Central)
Elliott... ok, so I totally get where you're going with this, and I agree it could give VOY a continuity and a serious 7 year Janeway arc that I hadn't really considered before. And the Janeway from Friendship One (yes, that's the line I'm referring too... the one that completely condemns Star Trek's premise of exploring new worlds) ends up being Admiral Janeway and that when they meet they can both have an awakening of sorts.

Your hypothesis that "In "Endgame," it is revealed how this path eventually leads Janeway to become so utterly concerned with making up for her perceived mistakes to her crew, that she becomes totally blind to all the good that developed as a result of her leadership concurrently. It takes a trip through time and confronting her past to realize this." seems to be holding pretty firm here.

"JANEWAY: Maybe we should go back to Sickbay.
ADMIRAL: Why, so you can have me sedated?
JANEWAY: So I can have the Doctor reconfirm your identity. I refuse to believe I'll ever become as cynical as you.
ADMIRAL: Am I the only one experiencing déjà vu here?
JANEWAY: What are you talking about?
ADMIRAL: Seven years ago you had the chance to use the Caretaker's array to get Voyager home. Instead you destroyed it.
JANEWAY: I did what I knew was right.
ADMIRAL: You chose to put the lives of strangers ahead of the lives of your crew. You can't make the same mistake again. "

And it's good stuff. Admiral Janeway is "all the way jaded" but Captain Janeway still has a shred of the old Janeway in there. Meeting herself makes her realize that she doesn't ever want to get that way.

"ADMIRAL: Coffee, black.
JANEWAY: I thought you gave it up.
ADMIRAL: I've decided to revive a few of my old habits.
JANEWAY: Oh? What else besides the coffee?
ADMIRAL: Oh well, I used to be much more idealistic. I took a lot of risks. I'd been so determined to get this crew home for so many years that I think I forgot how much they loved being together, and how loyal they were to you. It's taken me a few days to realise it."

By here your hypothesis takes full effect. Admiral Janeway finally finds redemption (in that she was wrong to become so jaded) and Captain Janeway has rediscovered who she should be. So what do they decided to do with their newfound knowledge? Change the past anyway.....

I mean... couldn't they have ended with the same choice as Caretaker, book ending the series with them still lost in the Delta Quadrant, but this time with the whole crew realizing that it's right? Turning down the shortcut home "for the journey"? I could even buy the ending from Friendship One being the catalyst that brings us to Admiral Janeway (and therefore necessary for her character arc) if she didn't end the series making the WRONG CHOICE!!

What's your thoughts on that?
Elliott - Thu, Jul 10, 2014 - 1:59pm (USA Central)
@Robert :

Your ending would indeed have been more dramatically honest, and I consider the choice the writers made at this point to be a bit of a cowardly move, BUT, the arc is not circumvented. In Caretaker, Janeway gambled the safety and potential happiness of her crew to make a moral choice. She lost, or so it seemed. There was no magic cure to get them home. And in Caretaker, no body was on Janeway's side (though they accepted her decision as captain). In Endgame, they ALL chose to make the same choice and gamble (but with the sense of family their journey had instilled). This time, their gamble paid off. But it paid off AFTER they had decided that it didn't really matter--they were going to do the right thing no matter what. So their success in finally getting home was a contrivance by the writers to give us a happy ending. In that way, it's no different from the BSG finale. After the dramatic arc was complete, then payoff becomes a fairytale. There are execution problems in Endgame, most notably the severely rushed ending (which BSG did properly).
Robert - Thu, Jul 10, 2014 - 2:22pm (USA Central)
Yes, from CAPTAIN Janeway's perspective she did the right thing (destroying the hub and getting her crew's home).

But from ADMIRAL Janeway's perspective it was still kind of disgusting. She erased 23 years of Voyager's history in the Delta Quadrant, presumably doing good, for 3 of our mains?

I suppose maybe after Friendship One they stopped exploring and bee-lined home, so there was nothing to erase that outweighed the destruction of the Borg hub.

Endgame was a hot mess of plot anyway since the Borg never use that hub to attack Earth....
William B - Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - 3:18pm (USA Central)
@Robert, Elliott

I haven't rewatched Voyager. I was not a fan of Endgame when it aired, and I largely agree with Robert's reasons. However, generously:

If we accept (and I do) that the primary aim of "Endgame" is to provide a proper mythological conclusion to the series, then Admiral Janeway is not really a character at all, nor does the future actually exist. Elliott's fascinating argument is that Admiral Janeway is an exaggeration of traits that we are seeing manifest in Captain Janeway, including the infamous "not worth one life" line at the end of "Friendship One." Admiral Janeway, the uber-pragmatist, who cares about her "family" over ethical/spiritual concerns, is a plot device and metaphorical representation of a certain side of Janeway. Plotwise, Admiral Janeway's presence fulfills some of the same role as Captain Janeway's pragmatic instinct and imagination, located *within* Captain Janeway, recognizing the possibility of going through Borg space in "Scorpion." That pragmatic instinct that Admiral Janeway represents is important, but it's not "really" a full person, and so (in this read) shouldn't be held to ethical standards at all. From Captain Janeway's, and the show's, perspective, the alternate future in "Endgame" doesn't even happen -- nothing is destroyed, because it's all imaginary to begin with.

In addition to the BSG finale (which admittedly, I *also* had big problems with and can't emotionally get behind, alas), there are two points of comparison that come to my mind right now: "All Good Things..." (obviously) and "Children of Time" (less obviously). In some senses, "Children of Time" inverts "Endgame"; it takes the "future" seriously, and the melding of Odo and Future Odo into one person literalizes the way Janeway incorporates her pragmatic, family-centric self without actually let her be defined by it. But Our Odo doesn't make any choice; Future Odo does. This is not, I think, a flaw in "Children of Time," because, for one thing, it's not the series finale, and Odo's scary attachment to Kira and amorality are going to be examined in the future.

"Endgame" more obviously borrows its structure from "All Good Things...," though. And in "AGT," the future is also a pragmatic place, and a smaller one. Unlike Voyager, there is no specific Caretaker-array-destruction event that represents the moral imperative. But the anti-time anomaly is still a metaphor -- for, I think, the importance of exploration, of spiritual matters, of Science-Fiction, of...I don't even know. Of what it is when they say "to boldly go...." It's obviously what Q means when he says that humans are going to go to the next level. What's great about this is that TNG, over the course of its history, became less and less about exploration and more and more about politics, as the galaxy seemed to get smaller and the importance of meeting various others' needs became greater. This is not a failure of the story, IMO, but a recognition that political concerns, managing how to live with one's neighbour, etc., really are important. There's less time for the pure, heady, Idea stuff. But that is something like what a lot of people go through in their lives -- starting with something "pure" (like being a philosophy major) and then eventually having to learn how to live with other people, make it through the day comfortably, etc. The past versions of the crew are wide-eyed with wonder and committed to exploration and the pure unknown; the future versions are set in their ways, either away from the frontier or primarily concerned with not upsetting the delicate political balance of power, and are afraid of change. They are a little like Admiral Janeway, in that sense, though "AGT" is less explicitly concerned with *ethics* so much as something like the realm of ideas versus the realm of reality. The anti-time anomaly is bigger in the past, because the importance placed on exploration is greater. In a similar way to Janeway, Picard is able to both use the pragmatism and reawaken the idealism in his future crew -- who represent one possible future for the cast.

In that sense, Elliott's claim that the dramatic ending is the Voyager crew going up against the Borg and the ending is properly a bonus maps very well onto the way the dramatic ending of "All Good Things..." (and, indeed, the television series) is the three crews sacrificing themselves to save humanity -- without having much besides Picard's word and the scientific method to go on. That they ultimately survive the sacrifice is immaterial, and Q even mocks Picard's "small-minded" concern for his crew -- "My ship! My crew! I supposed you're worried about your fish, too." But ultimately, of course, they do survive.

I think there is something dramatically meaningful in this, even if it's also a bit of a cheat. Heroes should be willing to die for something bigger than themselves -- but, you know, willingness to die for a cause, and actually dying, are not synonymous. Heroism is maybe the condition of being always ready to sacrifice all for a (genuinely good) cause, without losing one's joy of living in the process.
NCC-1701-Z - Sat, Jul 26, 2014 - 6:57pm (USA Central)
This is probably my favorite Voyager two-parter, even though it was ultimately reset by the next ep and we never saw the Equinox survivors again (too bad, I would have liked to see Marla Gilmore and/or Noah Lessing redeem herself a la TNG's "Lower Decks"). To me, what happened to the Equinox symbolizes what Voyager's first season could have been.

I loved watching Janeway become obsessed and watching conditions on Voyager gradually deteriorate to match those of the Equinox, kind of symbolizing Janeway's descent into darker territories.

The technobabble got too much for me after a while - I agree with Jammer, it could have been simplified immensely without affecting the plot.

Fun fact: Max Burke was played by Titus Welliver, who played the Man in Black on Lost. I knew he looked and sounded familiar but didn't realize why until I re-watched this episode and saw his name in the credits - he looked completely different without the beard. And Rick Worthy, of course, played the Cylon Simon on BSG.

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