Star Trek: Voyager


3 stars.

Air date: 1/16/1995
Teleplay by Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor
Story by Rick Berman & Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

"Gentleman, welcome aboard Voyager. Mister Kim, at ease before you sprain something." — Janeway

Review Text

A commendable start for the cast and crew of Star Trek: Voyager gives the new series a chance to establish its identity. While the drama isn't quite as striking as "Emissary," the Deep Space Nine pilot of two years ago, "Caretaker" serves its primary purpose first and foremost—very successfully launching the new USS Voyager and its substantial cast of nine with an entertaining but not entirely spectacular story. The episode is solid, with first-rate production qualities and special effects.

"Caretaker" begins with a renegade Maquis ship being chased by Cardassians through the Badlands. After narrowly escaping them, the Maquis ship becomes caught in a mysterious energy pattern. Starfleet designates the ship as missing, and sends a ship to search for it. Not just any ship, but the USS Voyager—a sleek, fast and powerful new Intrepid class starship with some interesting features and improved computer technology. (For the record, this new vessel bears the registry NCC-74656.)

The Voyager is commanded by Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), who enters the episode on Earth where she recruits prison inmate Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) to help track down his Maquis former-allies. The Voyager begins its search of the Badlands after a quick stop at Deep Space Nine. On the station we meet fresh-out-of-the-academy Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang), an inexperienced but mature "kid" with a good head on his shoulders.

Paris has a bit of a tarnished past and bad reputation. In less-than-subtle ways, several senior staff members display their distaste of him by giving him the cold shoulder at every turn. Officially labeled an "observer" with no rank, Paris is faced with life aboard a ship that hates him. Kim, of open mind, gives Paris the benefit of the doubt and accepts him as a friend, opening the door for the first friendship aboard this series' Federation starship.

In the Badlands, the same energy pattern that grabbed the Maquis ship also takes the Voyager by surprise, causing some serious damage and heavy casualties. The first officer, doctor, and chief engineer are all killed by the impact. This leaves the emergency holographic doctor (Robert Picardo) in charge of all medical situations, for which there are plenty.

After stabilizing the situation and assessing damage as best possible, the crew discovers they have traveled over 70,000 light years to the Delta Quadrant—at maximum warp it would take them 75 years to reach Federation space. The Voyager finds the missing Maquis ship orbiting a mysterious array that kidnaps both ships' crews and performs experiments on them. Three days later, the two crews awake on their respective ships. One member from each crew is missing. Kim is missing from the Voyager, and Maquis engineer B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Biggs-Dawson) is missing from the Maquis vessel.

The two crews decide they must work together to find a way back to the Alpha Quadrant. Janeway leads an away team back onto the array along with Maquis leader Chakotay (Robert Beltran), a Native American who left Starfleet on principle, and Voyager security chief Tuvok (Tim Russ, supplying the first regular Vulcan role on Star Trek since the original Spock), who unbeknownst to Chakotay had infiltrated his Maquis group to arrest them.

On the array, the away team meets a mysterious lifeform known as the Caretaker, who tells them they were probed for medical information in his search for a compatible replacement. The Caretaker is dying, and he needs someone to take his place to oversee the welfare of the Ocampa, a race of humanoids who live on a nearby planet. Further, the away team learns that Kim and Torres were sent to this planet for further study as potential Caretaker replacements.

Janeway sets a course for the Ocampa's planet. On the way, the Voyager encounters a space-junkyard owner named Neelix (Ethan Phillips), from a race known as the Talaxians. In exchange for a supply of water (a very limited resource in this quadrant), he agrees to guide them to the Ocampa homeworld and help them deal with the Kazon, an unfriendly race who has claim in nearby areas of space. By the way, no one in this quadrant has transporter technology, which gives the Voyager an edge in several instances.

Meanwhile, Torres and Kim are analyzed by the Ocampa, who, based on their inferior medical knowledge, inform Torres and Kim that their chances for survival are slim. The only realistic goal is to get off the planet and seek treatment in the Voyager's sickbay.

Around this time, Janeway and her team beams down to the Ocampa planet's surface, but can't get into the Ocampa's underground cities, which are surrounded by force fields to prevent Kazon intruders from robbing the planet of its resources. Here, the away team is met by an aggressive Kazon force holding a young Ocampa woman hostage. Using water as a negotiation item, Neelix (who has obviously had dealings with these Kazon before) distracts the Kazon leader and then turns on them. He rescues the Ocampa woman, who is actually his intimate companion Kes (Jennifer Lien).

Kes knows of access tunnels which may allow Voyager to rescue Kim and Torres. At the same time, an Ocampa helps Kim and Torres to these same tunnels in their attempt to get to the surface. The rescue attempt is successful, complete with earthquakes and collapsing bridges, and a scene where Paris saves Chakotay from falling to his death in an attempt to show a good gesture for his earlier betrayal of the Maquis. This action scene is okay, but sabotaged by an all-too-quiet, unexciting score by Jay Chattaway.

As the crew beams back aboard the ship, they are confronted by Kazon warships which attack them. Janeway and Tuvok beam onto the array again to talk to the Caretaker, whose imminent death is marked by his last wish that Voyager destroy the array to prevent the Kazon from using it to conquer the Ocampa. Unfortunately this would mean no way for the Voyager to return to the Alpha Quadrant.

Meanwhile, Voyager and the Maquis ship battle the Kazon is some well-done pyrotechnic numbers. Best of all is the spectacular Kamikaze attack Chakotay runs with his Maquis ship toward the large Kazon ship, beaming out the moment before the collision which destroys both ships. This is a great, exciting effect.

Janeway returns to the Voyager and destroys the array, which makes instant enemies of the Kazon who attempted to claim it as theirs. They withdraw, however, leaving the fight for another day. With the array destroyed, the Voyager has no quick way back to the Alpha Quadrant. Their new mission becomes the voyage home, but not without exploring this vast, unknown region on the way.

"Caretaker" does what it's supposed to. This show does an excellent job of introducing its characters and giving them all something to do. It's remarkable how much we learn about everybody. The combining of the Starfleet and Maquis crews promises to show friction in future episodes. At the same time, the writers introduce some friendly aliens (the Ocampa), and some enemies (the Kazon) right off the bat. It's a very good way to jump-start the series, and there's the feeling that with these two short hours, the series has already done a great deal in establishing its tone.

However, there are some fundamental situations about the show that aren't set up nearly as well as they could've been. For example, the Ocampa's introduction is nice, but why is it Janeway sides with them so easily? It's really hard to feel sympathetic toward the Ocampa when we hardly know them, and the writers really give no reason to care, unless we automatically accept what the Caretaker says about the Ocampa and the Kazon. Making the Ocampa look like cute, innocent, elves alone is not enough. It would've been nice to know more about them.

For that matter, why does Janeway decide to destroy the array, sacrificing the only reasonable way home, based solely on the Caretaker's wishes? Tuvok is quick to point out that this is a Prime Directive issue. It's clear, he says, that it is not up to Voyager to see that the Ocampa are safeguarded from the Kazon. So why does Janeway decide to "interpret" the Prime Directive some other way? She says something like, "We didn't ask to be involved, but we are." This line is weak and vague. It really doesn't mean anything if you think about it. Yet Janeway destroys the array and makes enemies with the Kazon because the Ocampa need to be protected. This is very noble, but hard to understand based on everything Star Trek lore says about the Prime Directive. I would have no problem with it if the writers would have found a better way of explaining it. Instead it seems very much like an arbitrary decision.

Most troubling however is Janeway's selection of Chakotay as first officer. I don't disagree with her decision. I just don't understand why the writers don't explain why she decided to make him second in command. There is no real explanation; just a passing reference to it when she names Paris a Lieutenant. The scene where she gives Paris rank and duty is good, but it's bothersome that there isn't a similar scene for Chakotay. When we're going to live with this decision for the entire series, it would be nice to know where it comes from.

Aside from these quibbles, I liked "Caretaker." Voyager shows promise with its action, adventure, exploration, and characters. While this isn't the best Trek to hit the screen, it does the job quite nicely.

Next episode: Parallax

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Comment Section

115 comments on this post

    Every time I rewatch "Caretaker", it gets a little worse. I don't like the Kazon and it's a little silly that they have interstellar ships, but can't find any water. I also don't like Janeway's decision for stranding the crew. I don't have a problem with that as the outcome, but it could've been played out better.

    I really enjoyed this episode and found it to be the best of the Trek premiers. I love DS9 but I have seen "Emissary" several times and find it slightly boring, I just can't get into it. It is far, far better than the opening TNG episode which is -- let's face it -- an embarrassment. On the other hand "Caretaker" was an excellent start to Voyager, with a depth of characterisation that would not be followed up by subsequent episodes, particularly for Chakotay who is a proper badarse in this episode. I liked the slightly devastated feeling of being stranded so far from home with zero notice. Janeway's decision was flawed and there is no explanation as to why Voyager is carrying illegal weapons, or why they couldn't simply rig the station to explode after they used it to get home, but if you overlook these (admittedly very important) flaws, you get something special.

    I've never understood why Voyager has tri-cobalt warheads in caretaker, but never uses them again in ANY episode. I also find Janeway annoying in early episodes and somewhat like a cardboard cutout. I think as her hair goes down her characterization goes up, she becomes motherly and caring in later seasons and i think that does her good. The episode itself does have a good premise, but the whole Kazon Nistrom idea is dull, all the aliens introduced here are boring and I couldnt understand why they had such boring storylines..but im going off topic here.
    one place where voyager always failed was the US-only zone, no characters from any other countries were in it. even the aliens were american, the caretaker was american the kazon and ocampa are american...annoying :/

    After they filmed this episode they should had given the series and franchise over to Ronald D. Moore.

    I would give "Caretaker" 3.5 stars and "Emissary" 3 stars. While the opening scene of "Emissary" was emotionally poignant, and the episode did a good job of introducing the characters, nothing much of note happened and there were a lot of redundant scenes. "Caretaker", however, did the perfect job of introducing the characters AND telling a good story.
    I completely disagree with Ron D. Moore's statement that the Maquis should have refused to wear Starfleet uniforms. The Maquis have only been around for about six months at this point, and most of them are former Starfleet officers, so they're not stupid. They know that it would be ridiculous to let border conflicts from the other side of the galaxy hinder their survival in this uncharted part of space.
    Moore's other often-quoted idea was that the whole series should have been like "Year of Hell", and while that was a good episode, 170 more fo the same would have made for a very depressing show, one I would not have been interested in watching. I like Star Trek for its positive depiction of life in the future, not to see a galaxy populated with hostile aliens.

    I still crack up when I recall how Neelix was predicted to be this series 'breakout character'-and how the result was the same as that of his spiritual brother Jar Jar Binks

    "Moore's other often-quoted idea was that the whole series should have been like "Year of Hell", and while that was a good episode, 170 more fo the same would have made for a very depressing show, one I would not have been interested in watching. I like Star Trek for its positive depiction of life in the future, not to see a galaxy populated with hostile aliens."

    But that's exactly what Voyager gave us, isn't it? A whole quadrant full of hostile aliens. There are 170-some Voyager episodes and the majority of them (especially after season 3 or so) conclude with a ship-to-ship firefight. And the violence is pointless, generally. It's always because one side or the other has been hardheaded. It's always weightless, too, because no major characters are ever hurt for long, the ship is usually shiny by the beginning of the next episode, and we never, EVER see any real consequences to Voyager's actions. If that's what passes for an optimistic future - meaningless violence with little hope of resolution - count me out.

    Bad Horse, you are absoloutely correct. I didn't mean to say that Voyager couldn't have been better, of course it could have. Voyager's premise and characters had the potential to be vastly different from both Next Generation AND Deep Space Nine. It could have showed the crew face realistic long-term dilemmas of being trapped alone in the unknown, and still uphold their ideals and values. The episode I think came closest to this was "The Void" in season seven. Alas, it was not to be. But I still prefer the great episodes we did get to "Seven Years of Hell"!

    @Jake lol, I know right!

    This is a decent episode. It does a good job of establishing all the characters and is fairly interesting throughout. I thought the caretaker alien was pretty lame though. I mean, he scans a ship presumably full of people from different backgrounds and even different planets and decides that the most comfortable atmosphere he can put them in is a county fair in Kentucky? I question that.

    Anyway, all in all, I liked this epsiode. I think it's at least on par with Emissary and Broken Bow, and it's certainly much better than Encounter at Far Point.

    Here's what I've never understood about Caretaker ...

    How many Maquis crew members transferred to Voyager. There's a late-season episode that makes it appear like there were about 20-30, but Chakotay's ship in this episode is the same model we see for the smaller Maquis vessels in DS9 and TNG, which were little more than shuttles. The question is valid because it could have been used to explain a few things:

    Let's say it was fewer than 20 (I can think of about 10, without trying too hard). If it was 20 or less, then the whole crew-integration thing wouldn't have been that difficult and a Maquis mutiny wouldn't have been much of a threat (in other words, Starfleet had numbers). If that's the case, the fact that Chakotay, Torres, Seska, Jonas, to a lesser extent Hogan and the misfits from 'Learning Curve' are the only ones who caused conflict is less difficult to get your arms around, logically.

    But, then, why introduce the premise in the first place, as Jammer so often asked during the series run?

    If 30 or more Maquis had transferred over -- and you figure Voyager lost a lot of people in 'Caretaker' -- then maybe a mutiny could have actually happened.

    I guess what I'm saying is that the fairly easy crew integration could be explained by the (implicit) small number of Maquis who transferred over. The creators could have explained that -- and could have at least seemed logical in their crafting. Even if they missed a big opportunity for better TV.

    Oh, and the water thing is really dumb. In addition to the Kazon not being able to go to other planets with water, Neelix seems to cook with water throughout the series.

    I've often felt the powers at be made a mistake in having Janeway order the array destroyed and purposefully stranding her crew and the Maquis in the Delta Quadrant. I understand that they wanted her to come across as a leader willing to make a tough call, but I know I for one did not feel she was in the right. Yes, the Kazon would have ravaged the Ocampa otherwise, but you can very easily argue that it would happen without Voyager's presence. I think it would have been better if the writers had made the Kazon destroy the array to spite Voyager or simply have the array be so damaged in the firefight that it blows up before Voyager can use it. That way the premise stays the same (Federation starship stranded 70,000 light years from home) and Janeway doesn't get saddled with the blame for stranding them on purpose. It's a more tragic circumstance for trapping them in the Delta Quadrant. But obviously there's no way to change it.

    I thought that this was a pretty good opening/introduction to ST:Voyager but, frankly, I never really got into Voyager until the later seasons and even then remained only casually in the series compared to ST:TNG and ST:DS9. I liked the Voyager/DS9 crossover at the beginning with Quark trying to swindle Harry and Paris thwarting him. ;-) The rest of the episode kept my interest with Voyager being sent light-years away from home and losing some key crewmembers, which, of course necessitated the leading characters to assume their posts. The idea of a holographic doctor was interesting, as well as the merging of the Federation and Maquis crews for survival. My biggest complaint about the episode is the ending and Janeway's decision that stranded them in the DQ when there could have possibly been other solutions- such as sending over a timed explosive that could have gone off after Voyager was on it's way back to the DQ. Of course, had they had managed to successfully get back home, well, of course, there would obviously be no series. It would have been interesting- though not necessarily essential- for there to have been some acknowledgement back in the AQ about Voyager's disappearance- perhaps as a brief status report to SF by Sisko or another Federation official.

    I want all star trek fans to see this. As an avid star trek fan I almost cried with laughter after I saw it. It is a blog that shows photos Of people in northeast philadelphia that have the exact same haircut as Spock. check it out you wont be disappointed

    I recently finished my bi-yearly runthrough of DS9 and decided to start on Voyager since I can't stand TNG anymore.

    Anyway, it's been years since I've watched any Voyager, but man, after seeing a quality series like DS9 are VOY's warts more noticeable. The pacing in this episode is plodding and without direction. Maybe I'll just watch the Doc episodes, I remember those being the only good ones.

    I had forgotten about Neelix mentioning that water was hard to come by. That never gets mentioned again, not even in the rest of season 1.

    As long as we're dogpiling on this pilot episode nearly 18 years later I have a minor quibble that's always bugged me. The Caretaker is almost portrayed sympathetically and nobody seems to hold him accountable for the mass murders he commits in bringing ships to the DQ. Janeway is pretty hard nosed with him on their first encounter about how unacceptable his actions have been in bringing her ship there and abducting her crew. We couldn't at least get a line indicating that she's a just a little pissed that he caused the death of over a dozen of her crew?

    I agree with the general sentiment here that the show is a fairly solid pilot that shows quite a bit of promise that the show will largely not deliver in the ensuing seasons.

    When Stadi is bringing Paris to Voyager (docked at DS9) aboard a shuttlecraft, where were they supposed to have been coming from? Presumably they didn't launch a shuttle to fly from DS9 to a vessel docked at DS9.

    The Kazon never again showed any sign of having a ship as powerful as the one they have here, and it's even more peculiar that they had that kind of vessel, but no water.

    It's a good episode until the very end, where Janeway pretty much blows off the Prime Directive for basically no reason. I'll give the episode credit for having Tuvok point this out.

    That aside, it was a solid episode that shows off the cast and sets up the premise.

    Interesting that, in this earliest review, Jammer almost always used the definite article when referring to the ship -- "the Voyager" -- and only a few times used the Navy style, i.e. no definite article, preferred by this series. By the end of season 2, his "Basics" review was a 50/50 mix, and by "Scorpion" a year later, Jammer usrd the definite article for the ship only once or twice. By the 4th season, the non-article style had fully taken over.

    Okay, that's not really interesting at all.

    I enjoyed this episode but a few things bothered me.

    1. The Kazon live as a tribal culture on a planet with no water and as far as we can tell, few resources. The only group we see who live in a modern setting is the Ocampa, and even then, they were "blessed" with those comforts by the Caretaker. So, how is it that the Kazon are capable of building these large starships with weapons that seem to overpower the Voyager. When Janeway supplied them with water, they seemed to revere the Federation crew as 'gods,' but suddenly, they're capable of taking them on in battle. It just seemed a

    2. Have been forgotten that bombs exist? I mean, the Maquis were resistance fighters. They had to be familiar with concept of a device that exploded after a certain amount of time. Couldn't that set a bomb on the installation, and use the installation to go back home before it detonated? But I guess, we wouldn't have much of a series then...

    3. The way Tuvok and Janeway interacted with each other, I thought he would have been the first officer.

    Other than that, I enjoyed the episode. The premise sounds interesting. I can't wait to see how they handle it.

    I only watched this episode when it first came out so I thought I'd check it out again and try to look at it with fresh eyes that didn't know any of the crap that was to come later. It actually worked--there was so much from Caretaker that I didn't remember that it was like seeing a new episode.

    I agree with many others regarding Janeway destroying the array. It is SO easy to think of about 20 different ways they could have handled the situation that this first big action of Janeway simply makes her seem like an idiot. I liked her very much when I first saw this--but that was because I liked Mulgrew, not Captain.

    How hard would it have been to set up an alternate scenario to use the array to get home, but the Kazon swoop in and cause it to fail? Janeway could still have the guilt later (assuming that's why they made it play out this way) without seeming so stupid. She could have felt guilty because she forgot to order attack pattern delta or some such crap. The choice made by the writers seems lazy.

    What surprised me upon this viewing is that Neelix was okay--until he chose his clothes from the replicator. I had forgotten his outfit, so I was ready to laugh--then I saw it. Lame.

    And then he acted like an idiot after "he" rescued Kes. Neelix had moments throughout the series that were great--they just took some wrong steps and made him ridiculous and cloying most of the time. I actually loved his cooking.

    Others mentioned; I'll echo. Chakotay being first officer is a throwaway moment? I think that, more than any other bit of this pilot, presages the problem with Voyager--the writers just didn't understand what would have made it great. They focused on the Kazon and ignored great character moments.

    But the Doc was perfection from day one! Best character on the show.

    When I read where Jammer said: "The combining of the Starfleet and Maquis crews promises to show friction in future episodes," I spit my soda on my screen. lol. Another failing.

    Grumpy--I noticed that too. I prefer the article.

    Towards the end, when their escaping the complex, Janeway tells Neelix to "help her with Tuvok" (who seems more or less uninjured and has the stamina of a Vulcan), and then Neelix helps him along and Janeway just scurries behind them, supervising I guess. Meanwhile, Paris is left to carry the injured Chakotay all by himself.

    Why did Neelix change into one of Quark's outfits? Does the replicator have a clothing section for annoying people? I don't know why but he would have been a better character had he stayed in his fur pimp coat.

    @Jeff Bedard

    "I had forgotten about Neelix mentioning that water was hard to come by. That never gets mentioned again, not even in the rest of season 1."

    That's probably because Jammer is incorrect in saying that water is hard to come by "in this quadrant." It defies credulity that that would be the case throughout the vast Delta Quadrant; clearly it's just the local system that has a water shortage, which may explain why the Kazons' hair looks dirty. I believe Jammer is also incorrect in saying that "no one in this quadrant has transporter technology." C'mon, the *entire* quadrant? I don't think so, and I don't know on what basis Jammer says this.

    I also would rather have seen the array blown up in some manner other than having Janeway do it. Hell, the thing was on a countdown to self-destruct at one point and then there was that gigantic disabled ship rolling by. Either of those would have been a much more satisfying dilemma-creator.

    Good episode for a Trek opener, even though both Neelix and Kes were annoying characters from the start that never needed to join the journey as far as I was concerned.

    @Chris: I saw this episode again recently, but I first saw it long ago. On this recent viewing before that scene came up, I was recalling that something happened on the broken walkway between Chakotay and Paris, but I wasn't sure how it went down. As the scene neared, I saw that Paris wasn't even with the group with Chakotay and that he was already on the surface before the big scene. So, I was thinking, "How the heck do those two end up back underground in a goofy action piece together?" And, yeah, as I watched how it played out, I thought, "Well, that was awkward." All just to get Paris to save Chakotay in a rather forced character interaction.

    Always interesting to come back to a series' pilot to see what the potential of a show could've been.

    Unfortunately with Voyager I think this pilot shows a good deal of promise and also the unfortunate lack of thought on the part of the writers. I think the premise of Voyager is fantastic, it's just a shame they didn't have better writers. The show quickly settled into a safe and dull status quo.

    If I were to do a rewrite of "Caretaker" I'd have the crew place timed explosives on the array so that they could attempt a return to the Alpha Quadrant. They generate a displacement wave and get pushed away but unfortunately with the Caretaker entity dead the wave dissipates quickly and sends Voyager only a short distance away. The ship turns back to try and disable the explosives but is unable to do so in time. Voyager is still a good distance from the array as we see it on the view screen exploding. The spirits of the crew Starfleet and Maquis alike are crushed as the reality of their situation takes hold. 70 years from home.

    I've been following Jammer on and off(more off) for over a decade, but never felt the need to post until my new commitment to all of Voyager. A few years ago I rewatched all of TNG, but TNG is to me, like many others, sacred. It's the show that defined much of my morals and career choices in my youth. So I don't need to read or comment on reviews even as good as Jammer's are.

    Then came DS9 and, seemingly at the same time, Voyager. It was a bit too much Star Trek for me in 1995, and I was disappointed with DS9 and Voyager when I did watch it wback then. Now having just finished rewatching DS9, the characters became so real, so familiar, I was sad to see them go, and even felt a bit lost having just spent almost 7 years rewatching TNG and DS9.

    After some time, soul seeking, and discussion with friends, I decided I wanted to continue my 24th Century adventure and committed to actually watching Voyager. Which brings me to this comment - I guess I have high expectations after all of TNG and DS9, and I enjoy reading all the opinions on the new-to-me Voyager. Well enough Trek rant, what do I think of Caretaker and what Jammer says above?

    I actually think Caretaker is a great pilot. Clearly a lot of money and effort was spent to make it look spectacular, and the cast was done properly (even Neelix - just think of Benson when he talks). However, I agree with many that there are serious flaws that provoke the need to comment on a review website.

    First off, I don't buy the Kazon as bad guys. They are no Klingons, or even Cardies. I like my bad guys smart. These guys belong on Mad Max.

    Second, I really, really like the attempt to put the Captain in a serious, TNG-like, moral dilemma at the climax. Most unfortunately Janeway immediately proves herself to be a Bad Captain (you're going to see me use that phrase a lot). I don't think Kirk or Picard would have gotten their whole crew stranded like Janeway did. Bad Captain, or bad writer.. you decide.

    I have one counterpoint to Jammer, and that is I fully agree with Chakotay as 1st Officer. It is a hark back to Shakelton and his mutineer... keep your enemies close. Great stuff.

    Some superb performances too for first outings in their characters.. particularly Robert Beltran and Jennifer Lien. If this is how the rest of the series is going to go, I don't feel so bad for committing!

    One final point - the quality of the DVDs is excellent, unlike the TNG DVDs, or the early DS9 DVDs. Voyager looks great on HDTV!

    I'm going to comment on this just to also throw in my support for Chakotay as First Officer.
    Over the course of the series Chakotay became my favorite character overall.
    Just based on this episode though I see why Janeway would have chosen him over Tuvok as First Officer.

    Firstly, trying to combine 2 crews, who just a week ago would have been shooting at each other, is no mean feat. The smaller Maquis crew would feel like the underdogs on the Federation ship. It makes for bad integration.
    I think what Janeway did was smart. To gain the cooperation of the Maquis crew treat their leader with respect. It sets the tone that she's willing to give them a chance on her ship - their new home.

    Secondly, Chakotay is more of a people person than Tuvok. His logical approach makes him ideal as a security chief & tactical officer. While Chakotay's intuition makes him a good First Officer.

    Third, Janeway's decision to combine the 2 crews under the Starfleet banner meant that any former-Starfleet officers in the Maquis would assume their previous rank. Chakotay was a Commander so he would be next in rank after Janeway. He was a respected person among Starfleet personnel which would make it easy for the Voyager crew to accept him as their new First Officer too.

    As to why he agreed to be First Officer & didn't demand to be treated as her equal, I can only imagine that's because he could see the wisdom & practicality in trying to forge a cohesive crew rather than a pointless & energy-wasting power struggle.

    Anyway, I hope that makes sense :)

    Am I missing something here? Janeway decides to destroy the array, but then leaves the Ocampa high and dry with only 5 years worth of energy reserves. What are they going to do after 5 years? (I know some of them are starting to farm outside the city and take care of themselves, but they're a fringe element. It would be hard to adapt the entire society in 5 years). Also, how are they going to maintain their force fields to keep the Kaizon out? Seems like she didn't put much thought into her decision, and it definitely doesn't seem worth stranding her crew in the Delta Quadrant. I know the whole premise of the show is being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, but it could have been more well-done.

    Water being scarce does stretch credibility. If you can navigate around a solar system, you have access to all the water you could ever want. Just hack a piece from a comet and melt it, and you have water. It's only when you are trapped on a dry planet that water is a problem. The Ocampa might have a water shortage, but the Kazon would not. You could bombard the Ocampa's planet with comets to create lakes.

    The Ocampa have five years to learn to fend for themselves now that they aren't being given power by the Caretaker. Either they will build their own power source and survive, or they won't. Perhaps the Caretaker underestimated the Ocampa, he does call them "children". With such a short lifetime, the Ocampa could probably do things quickly, they don't have a lot of time to waste.

    They could have rigged the station to explode after it had sent Voyager home. I understand that if they had done that, the series would have been over, but it might have been more plausible if they had tried that and failed.

    Flawed but entertaining.
    Pretty much the perfect description you can give for Voyager as a whole.

    At least it started as it meant to go on.

    Watched this last night for the first time in years and whilst some bits had me wincing. Especially some of the conflict/drama that looked set to be introduced that was ignored soon after. It also held my interest very well.
    Voyager will always be the Wham Bam Thank You Maam of Star Trek but that's OK. We had TNG for the typically Trekian values, DS9 for the OMGWTF Dark Trek and Voyager for the quick relief.
    That I think is it for me. Many of TNG and DS9 episodes actually stay with me. Voyager I have to watch again to be reminded it is good fun but, par a couple of episodes, is soon forgotten.

    Ah, what a relief! Finally, Star Trek is back. I mean, I have just finished DS9 and I am starting Voyager today. Right, there are quite a few flaws in this episode. But what a relief to see the Federation and Starfleet once again portrayed as in common Star Trek. After their overall lenient and even genocide-friendly versions from the last three seasons of DS9, the very opening of this Voyager first episode was refreshing. Showing a quite civilized penal colony on Earth made me feel relieved as I was almost expecting that penal colonies from DS9’s Federation and Starfleet would be labor camp-like.

    More than that, the honorable and integer postures of officers are back. The scifi without magictechnobabble… I enjoyed quite a bit. Maybe I am biased by the atrocious end of DS9, but I really liked the first approach of Voyager. The idea of an holographic doctor was quite a smart move, considering that TOS had Spock, TNG had Data and DS9 had Odo as their characters that posited a bigger challenge and benchmark for our thinking about humanity. I can only hope it is explored later here as well. Talking about the crew, I was slightly disappointed by the lack of alien diversity. Basically, we have a Vulcan (a black Vulcan, interesting) and that’s pretty much it. Hmm…. meh.

    In any case, I will be really looking forward to seeing more Trek material flowing.

    @Ric: Unfortunately, you're about to watch about 160 disappointing episodes.

    I love DS9, but I do understand why some fans hate it. Sisko's actions to bring the Romulans into the war and the Federation's decision not to give the Founders the cure to the disease created by Section 31 were questionable writing choices.

    I'll agree that "Caretaker" was a strong episode, but the inconsistency of the series will be maddening. The interesting storyline of the Maquis integration is all but forgotten by season three. Season 2's serious attempt at a continuing storyline will be plagued by poor characterization and faulty logic. And when Voyager decided that it couldn't do continuity very well, it pretty much punted on that and all but discard the premise that resources should be scarce in the Delta Quadrant.

    Also, Captain Janeway's behavior will often fly in the face of the Starfleet way we saw in TOS and TNG.

    @Paul: Heh.

    To which I'd add: "...from the last three seasons of DS9, the very opening of this Voyager first episode was refreshing."

    You probably didn't mean to imply otherwise, Ric, but just to be clear: "Caretaker" premiered during DS9's 3rd season, so the tonal contrast was not as stark. Also, as Paul implies, Voyager eventually is complicit in some nasty business, too, made more frustrating by TNG Season 1-level self-righteousness.

    @Paul Thanks for your thoughts on the show. I appreciate that. In fact you have also summarized quite well what I disliked the most in the last three seasons of DS9: the lack of consequence for many Sisko's misconduct and the very different portrayal of the Federation/Starfleet. But I shoul just mention that I didn't hate DS9. In fact I really liked a lot most of the first seasons.

    About the Voyager, I have been reading many comments that go in the same direction as yours. If I end up thinking the same, I must say that it is a shame. Voyager has one of the best premises in all Trek. Hope I just don't get too mad with future offenses against the canonical Starfleet portrayal...

    @Grumpy Many thanks for bringing this up. In fact I know that DS9 and Voyager overlapped during 4 to 5 seasons of DS9. But my previous comment could leave some confusion behind, so your clarification is most welcome.

    Interesting premise. Decent execution. Despite a few rough spots the characterization shows promise. A few very "Star Trek" moments that were pleasant to see, mostly involving the Caretaker. Not in the least bit impressed with the cookie-cutter villains known as the Kazon, though, future episodes would attempt expanding upon them with limited success.

    The much-debated decision by Janeway to stay behind in order to help the Ocampa made sense on its terms albeit a bit vaguely. A bit more thought put into the whole situation by the writing staff would have definitely not hurt. Especially seeing as it's the crux of the reason for the entire series premise. But what's done here isn't horrible either.

    All in all, nothing groundbreaking here. But it is a good opener with a good idea with some good characters. I'd rate this third behind Emissary and Broken Bow as far as ST series premieres go.

    3 stars.

    I just watched Caretaker after not seeing it for many years. The writers' decision to have Janeway destroy the array is just plain stupid. Several comments here have come up with much better ways to strand Voyager without it being a really bad and badly thought out decision by the captain. The Kazon/water thing is only slightly less stupid.

    Not bad for a first episode. I remember being excited about it when it first appeared, being the first Trek show I saw from the beginning. I remember not being disappointed by it either. And while I currently have a bit of a jaundiced eye against this show for failing to live up to its promise, I thought it held up pretty well.

    Yes, the water scarcity among a warp capable species is absurd. But sci fi never really understood resources in space. And honestly, it isn't really that bad. Each Kazon sect traded with others; clearly the Ogla were a worthless sect that just happened to be stuck in this system mining the whatever mineral. And Neelix? Maybe his ship lost warp capability and he was stuck there. Of course, there's no reason the entire system was out of water, the Caretaker said they only screwed up the planet. So there might be comets and icy moons and stuff out there. But oh well.

    And then there's Janeway's controversial decision. There's no doubt it could have been better, but I appreciate what the episode was trying to do. Let's face it, Picard would have been willing to sacrifice the Enterprise to save another planet. The Enterprise C willingly went back into battle to try to save a Klingon outpost. So Janeway willing to strand her crew for the greater good is fine, and provides a bit more of a weighty reason for the series than the crew randomly being stuck over there for no reason (i.e., if the Caretaker just refused to let them go back). Yes, there are ways around it. Yes, a bomb may have worked. But then again, maybe the Kazon would have deactivated the bomb before it could go off. Or maybe they didn't have enough bombs to set it up. I don't know. So while they could have done a much better job of scripting Janeway's dilemma, I'm willing to let it go. Unfortunately, this poor scripting would show up all too often, but we wouldn't know that until later. I guess in retrospect, it was a warning. But like I said, for this episode I can deal with it.

    As for the rest of it? Some comments::

    - Who's bright idea was it to start the series with a scrolling text screen followed by a small rebel ship being attacked by the giant imperial starship? Star Wars, anyone?

    - The beginning of this episode really, really dragged. There was too much dumping of information, and too much establishing character moments (which I suppose is kinda necessary, but still annoying). I mean, did we need to have a chat about bioneural gelpacks or whatever? Did we need to have a chat about calling Janeway sir or ma'am or captain or whatever? Frankly, I was bored until Voyager actually gets to the Delta Quadrant.

    - Fortunately, at this point things start up again. Watching the crew react to the disaster was great fun, and we got plenty of real character defining moments. First of all, I imagine this is Janeway's first command, and she's not too far removed from a more hands on job. She is clearly more comfortable taking a hands on approach, skipping the idea of overseeing everything and heading straight to Engineering. This might not be the smartest thing to do (given how bad the disaster was, one would presume she should be on the bridge), but it is a very clear contrast to Picard. We also see the Doctor at his sarcastic, standoffish best, absolutely stealing his scene in sickbay. We see Kim being pretty much useless, but that's to be expected for a very young officer.

    - And we see Tom being highly competent at everything. I'm not sure if this was intended. But Paris immediately starts walking around and taking charge of everything. He's basically acting like a professional, trained member of Starfleet. He's easily Janeway's right hand man now. Not Kim, not any other random Lt still on the bridge, but a criminal who's just an observer. Was this intentional? Was it planned? Was it intended to show that this is Paris' true character, and what he would have been had he not had that little accident and freaked out? That his bad guy routine was really just him projecting, as he doesn't feel he deserves to be rehabilitated? Maybe. I thought the whole "loner" bit was played up at first, but I think this part of Paris is for the best. He gets a second chance, and without even realizing it makes the best of it. He's a natural leader, even if he doesn't know it himself.

    - Meanwhile, a bunch of the junk on the array with the Southern Fried Weirdness was pretty boring. Worst part was when they came back a second time, and we had the clichéd "cryptic" conversation when the Caretaker was giving random lines while not responding to Janeway. It was obvious what he was talking about, but Janeway and company seemed confused. And I guess the medical bay was creepy, but it didn't seem to move the plot along. Really, the best parts of the show was on board Voyager; anywhere else and the show drags.

    - I didn't get the impression that there was much sympathy for the Caretaker. Janeway couldn't be judgmental with him too much, because she was still trying to convince him to send her home. Rule 1 of trying to get a favor from someone: don't piss them off. But yes, I agree that he wasn't all that sympathetic of a guy.

    - Why on earth did Janeway trust Neelix again after what he did on the surface? Admittedly, Neelix was actually pretty interesting in this episode, but yeah, he should have been thrown off the ship.

    - And for that matter, Kes and Neelix's relationship seemed a wee bit askew. Namely, we never see much in the way of affection from Kes, and constantly see Neelix try to reinforce their relationship. Again, I'm not sure if this was intentional or not. But it does give an interesting twist that we shall see if it comes up again. After all, Kes is technically only 2 years old and lived a very sheltered life. So Neelix could be seen as being very predatory here.

    - Is it just me, or did moving straight to ramming speed for the battle with the Kazon seem a bit excessive? It seemed like it was just there because the writers didn't want the Maquis ship around. I guess, at that point, the Maquis still thought that Janeway was going to send them all home, so losing their ship wasn't that big of a loss. Still, it seemed quick to be done. It also seems like no one cared that Chakotay just killed thousands of aliens in one shot. That's one way to turn an angry skirmish into an all out war. And nobody complained?

    But like I said, overall this episode had a good pace and did a good job introducing the characters. It's a good start; let's see how it goes.

    Watched this last night for the first time in years. I don't understand all the comments suggesting Janeway plants a time bomb and activates the program to get back home. Tuvok said it would take hours to activate the program. So it's not as if the crew could be off in their quarters packing their bags while waiting for the array to boot up and send them home. They were under attack by several Kazon ships!

    I loved the tough decision made by Janeway to destroy the array and strand them in the Delta Quadrant. A poorly written script would've gone for a cop out like the array self destructing and making the crew victims of the plot.

    The episode did an OK job of introducing some of the characters (Janeway, Paris, Chakotay, Tuvok) but it didn't introduce Chakotay or Janeway well enough, especially in their decisions to join forces and her's to destroy the array, far too arbitrary and unjustified by what we had and how much we hadn't learned about her. Neelix and Kes joining the crew was completely unjustified.
    It's hard to not compare this to "Emissary" which managed to introduce the lead character, much of the rest of the cast, setting and alien species much better.

    I liked Caretaker it's just unfortunate all the stuff the writers talked about prior to the show was shot down in production by the network. They used to talk about the challenges the crew and ship would face in it's situation without industrial replicators or reinforcements instead they barely referenced these issues or they'd be there one week and gone the next.
    Sometimes it took the piss for example in multiple episodes they referred to hull breaches on decks, you'd think they'd have been visible later on but weren't. In The Killing Game the Hirogens holodeck abuse led to the destruction of sickbay and damage and 'heavy casualties' one Borg scan one season later says the crew somehow lost six personel from the last scan by the Voth.
    At the time it aired Voyager was a absolute dinosaur next to Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5 (the real anti Trek), Stargate, Farscape, The X Files and a ton of other shows surpassing it in every way. I recall all the fun online with people watching those shows all the discussions about where their story arcs and characters were going and then there was this ugly little TNG wannabee pissing about with predictable Trek nonsense. Nowadays it isn't too bad for one offs but still leaves a bad taste.

    I thought this was a pretty good opener. Not quite as good as Emissary, but better than Encounter at Farpoint.

    Full of "whys" and "what ifs".

    Voyager was under attack by the Kazon, why not just use one of those wham-o-dine tri-blah blah torpedoes and blow that ship up? Then use the array to go home. Leave the other one on a timedelay. The writers could have done this with the trip back home failing... then Janeway doesn't look like such an ameteur.

    Why does Janeway just accept Neelix? He just lied to her and placed her crew in danger to get Kes.

    I don't disagree with the Chakotay selection as the XO, but I'm not sure it needed to happen so fast and I'm also disappointed we didn't get to see the conversation.

    ...and for the record... the Maquis problem is with the Federation, not Star Fleet...they are not one and the same.

    I think the casting was all well done.

    The special effects hold up well, aside from the array explosion.

    Well paced, exciting opener. I just wish they would have thought it though a little better. Little less time on Ocampa and a little more time setting up being stranded.

    3 stars from me.

    After re-watching this original episode, I still enjoyed it thoroughly. The show offers an interesting, morally ambiguous conflict that provides the crew with good opportunities for personal growth and heroism.

    Re: criticisms

    I completely agree with Tim (Nov. 2014). It's not fair to suggest that Voyager leave a time delayed bomb. As he pointed out 1) The technology is complicated and time consuming to set up, and 2) they are under attack. I would add 3) Voyager is not familiar with the technology and 4) it would be extremely tricky and complicated to ensure the bombs and the space travel machine were perfectly in sync. After all, they would have to be careful to delay the detonation of the bombs very soon after they left, otherwise the Kazon could disable them.

    Also, Janeway's decision to destroy the array adds moral and intellectual complexity to the story. Take that decision away and the conflict is less interesting.

    I do think, however, that the reason for blowing up the array could have better explained. In my view the Voyager crew should blow up the array because otherwise the gangster Kazon (or another threatening group) would be in control of the most powerful technology in the galaxy and be a threat to everyone. Destroying the array is not simply a matter of saving the Ocampa; it is also necessary for the safety of the galaxy.

    Just saw this again for the first time since it was first run. Actually, it was pretty awesome! Man they had so many angles to work and just left the majority of them behind though. All the great Marquis / Starfleet friction could have been mined for more than half an episode IMO.

    One thing that bothered me though was when Janeway and the Kazon were on the planet in the middle of negotiations (that looked like they were going to be successful) and then out of nowhere Neelix jumps the head Kazon and holds a phaser on him for no reason. And then he destroys the 2 water tanks. I mean here you had a chance to make more allies and this new guy you just met totally blows it for you.

    When they got back to Voyager I was expecting Janeway to go of on Neelix for jeapordizing everything like that and THEY NEVER MENTIONED IT AGAIN. Not only that, later in the episode when the Kazon ship appears (and that same Kazon guy is commanding it, no less) and nobody mentions the double-cross?? Couldn't they have made a line or two like "Captain Janeway- You had your chance back on the surface, but destroyed our water.. and your chances of making out of here alive now!" OK, that was stupid too but you get the idea haha.

    So using the Voyager standard, This would easily be a 4 star episode for me. It's not as good as "The Emissary" was for an opener, but extremely strong with some, eh, stupid bits mixed in.

    Looking forward to starting this as I never watched Voyager much when it was on. I found this to be a solid rather than spectacular introduction to the series. The first third was top quality, followed by a rather flaccid and by the numbers middle section, with a strong conclusion. The characters introduced seem strong enough and there is already some nice interaction, and the premise itself is also a strong one. VFX are definitely up to the mark.

    Where it falls down is in some odd plotting choices. Janeway's decision to destroy the array seems, as many others have noted, to be somewhat off - and definitely a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. The Kazon (the Mad Max reference above is definitely valid!) seem to fight each other for water yet have ships and are apparently part of a bigger race.

    A strong entry overall but not perfect by any means. 3 stars.

    Voyager and DS9 are the two treks I never watched. Having just finished DS9 (thank god), I have to say, it feels good to be on a ship out in the universe again. DS9's relatively minimal exploration of the gamma quadrant was giving me some trek cabin fever. Its good to see another trek in the far reaches of the galaxy.

    One thing I really enjoyed about TNGs production is they did a good job making the enterprise feel large with a relatively small number of sets (DS9 did a good job here as well). They also did a good job of making the universe feel like more than just the crew (DS9 really struggled with this, especially as it progressed).

    I hope this series lives up to my expectations.

    (I enjoyed TOS's scale as well, for the time it was a respectable production.)

    I agree with Ronald D. Moore's sentiment that Voyager would have been better if it had been like "Year Of Hell," in that there would be consequences and conflicts. RDM later did exactly that with BSG, the antidote to everything wrong with Voyager.

    This time around, I have been watching all the episodes from TNG interlaced with DS9 as they were released in the '90s (thanks to the Star Trek Chronology project, q.v.), and what strikes me is how close VOY is on the heels of TNG! For me the past week, TNG just ended with "All Good Things...", DS9 introduced the Jem'Hadar, and then "Caretaker" launched VOY! Since I was late to see reruns of the two spin-off series and catch up later in the '90s, they had a more separated quality in my memory. But now I appreciate how cool the idea was to have these two shows grow immediately out of the end of TNG.

    Additionally, I like Kes's speech when they all first beam down into the subterranean city. At one time she both indicts the dependency created by a socialist nanny state, and also references Plato's allegory of the Cave — she literally has groped her way out of the cave and has seen the sunlight! "I cannot believe the Caretaker would forbid us to open our eyes and see the sky!" she says. Beautiful! It reminds me of Galileo or Bruno at the inquisition, insisting that God gave us reason with which to understand the mysteries of the universe — a very Trekkian theme, straight from the best of the Enlightenment.

    I also think it's just stupid that they gave Robert Duncan McNeill *the same* character he had in TNG's "First Duty" as Nicholas Locarno, without letting him be the same character. So I'm going to warp (forgive the pun) my mind into believing it *is* the same character; maybe he got his name changed into Locarno and then back to Paris, etc. Whatever. It's the same character. I prefer the continuity.

    I like the look of Voyager, as a ship, that the designers were trying to portray. The Enterprise D was the quintessential luxury car: big, ample, spacious, and it even had wooden details in the trim! Voyager has none of that and seems much more compact, even utilitarian while still being sleek and futuristic (as does the Defiant but there to an even greater extent). It reminds me of the difference between the Tesla Model S luxury sedan and the Model 3 smaller 4-door car, which has exactly those sorts of differences.

    Also, why did they have to kill the attractive Betazoid lieutenant?! She was great. Kes isn't bad though I suppose, and with such a pleasing voice! I was too young to appreciate those kinds of alluring elements to casting when I was first watching these, but they sure do matter. Humorously, Mulgrew's voice annoys me even more now than it did the first time I saw this series. And does she ever pose with hands on hips!

    Finally, I am rather okay with Janeway owning the guilt of Voyager being stranded in the DQ. Voyager versus TNG/TOS explore opposite ends of the foundation of Ancient Greek literature, being the Illiad and the Odyssey. The Illiad conveys a sense of adventure, of moving out into foreign territories, and then even of nostalgia for places journeyed to. This recalls TNG and TOS. (Another modern example is how Bilbo Baggins feels at the beginning of LOTR, wanting to go out and explore again — "I want to see mountains, Gandalf!") The literary opposite of nostalgia is nostos, the longing for home and the return journey, which is the essence of the Odyssey, and also of VOY. Many disliked VOY because it was a reverse of the Trek paradigm of outward optimism, and was inverted back to Earth. I get that, but as a literary structure VOY was on to something (perhaps by accident) through its invocation of the Odyssey.

    And the seminal decision in that story was Odysseus daring Poseidon to stop him from getting home to Ithaca. Well, good job, you self-righteous prick; you got nearly your whole crew killed! And Odysseus, along with Captain Janeway, explore that guilt throughout the stories. Had the stranding been out of Voyager's control, it would have changed the feeling of the whole series, and I don't think it would have been better. Janeway's adventuresome youth in the pilot is relentlessly battered and metamorphosed by trials into motherly hope and especially parental guilt; she caused this predicament, and is always chained to it. This makes VOY tragic in a very Greek way, and the theme of guilt is never dissipated.

    Battlestar Galactica has a similar isolation, and recalls another ancient piece of literature: the Hebrews wandering the desert looking for the Promised Land. BSG had its protagonists forced into exodus entirely because of the antagonists and the humans had no control over their initial fate (though the Cylons kept insisting their holocaust of humanity was the fault of mankind, false though that was); likewise the Hebrews are solely victims and the Egyptians unequivocally the bad guys. For all their highly watchable flaws, that makes the humans is BSG fundamentally right and the Cylons fundamentally wrong, which, in spite of all the mind-blowing things that happen in the series, never changes. Not so in VOY, or the Odyssey: Janeway and Odysseus own their awful nostos. VOY is criticised for not having a unified serial story and for being self-contradictory in terms of its undiminished supply of shuttlecraft, the ship always looking pristine at the start of a new episode, and for going right into barely related tangents in the first episodes and having a variety of disconnected misadventures. While I agree it would have been a better show if VOY had been a bit more grounded and unified like BSG, I'm sort of okay with it because VOY resembles the Odyssey, which has numerous random events that occur on the journey home. Appropriately, BSG like Exodus is a highly composed, carefully constructed story.

    In the Odyssey, Nestor and Diomedes have a relatively easy journey, sharply contrasted with that of Agammemnon; this reminds me directly of the later encounter in VOY with the Equinox and how lousy a time that crew had versus the pluckier, luckier crew of Voyager. In the end, I'll probably agree with every criticism lobbed at VOY, and Braga et al. deserve the scorn of us all for the rest of time; nevertheless, as an adult twenty years later I can appreciate that the writers simply wanted to get Starfleet heroes to the far side of the galaxy, experience 7 years of nostos, and have space adventures along the way, "[seeking] out new life and new civilizations," as Janeway says in the last scene — if only to keep up morale! Rather similar to Homer's second epic.

    The Ocampa only have a 9 year life span. OK, I can deal with that, so do plenty of animals.
    Are they born adults, to they grow from baby to adult in a day?

    Was this ever explained in any episodes?

    @Latex Zebra - Ocampa are born as babies, reach full growth at 1 year and sexual maturity at 4.

    @Latex Zebra & Robert

    Don't forget the inability to have more than one child. How this species is to have any life-span and avoid a self extiction I could not tell you.

    Really dark fan wank. The Caretaker destroyed the planet's atmosphere and water supply. The Eloygium used to be the START of their reproductive cycle and something in their water helped replenish their reproductive cycle, allowing them to reset and have multiple Eloygiums. In addition, twins and triplets were common.

    Post Caretaker the Ocampans have been slowly diminishing in numbers without the ability to have multiple Elogiums and are headed towards extinction.

    The first 2 episodes were rife with problems.

    The biggest problem was the setup for the plot of the two episodes. If the Caretaker wanted to take care of the Ocampa, why didn't he simply move them to a planet with more water? It makes absolutely no sense to keep the Ocampa stranded on a planet with no water. Or why not just fix the planet by bombarding it with comets?

    Is this really the best planet for the Kazon to setup a village on? With so many other possible planets in the area, why choose one with no water? Sure there is a mention of the planet having some random special mineral, but why can't they just robotically mine this mineral from asteroids or find a more hospitable planet? As everyone else has mentioned, there is no way they can have a space ship and have no access to water. Water is one of the most abundant molecules in space. The episode could be fixed by changing the planet and the motivations of the Kazon and the Caretaker. If the Caretaker had blasted the Ocampa with its special magic rays, instead of blowing all the water off the planet (how exactly can there be life on a planet but no water? If there is oxygen and hydrogen in the atmosphere, which there has to be if people are living on the planet without needing mechanical assistance to breath, then there would be water), the Careaker's magic beam should have altered the Ocampa's DNA which caused them to only live for 9 years. The Caretaker would have been pulling different species from all over the galaxy to try finding a species with DNA that could fix the Ocampans shortened lifespan problem. While species native to the galaxy would understand DNA, the Caretaker who had never encountered DNA before was still trying to research it. The Kazon would still be mining their special mineral, but now they would be using the Ocampans as slave labor which explains their continued presence on the planet. This fixes a large number of gaping plot holes.

    Even without that problem, the episode had already resolved itself before the writers mucked up the plot. The Caretaker was already going to blow up the array, letting the Caretaker's self destruct be the thing which blows up the array resolves the plot and causes Voyager to end the episode stranded in the Delta Quadrant without having to handwave away the completely asinine decision by Janeway to blowup the array instead of using it to go home. This was a problem where the writers expected you to care more about the Ocampans than the writers did. The Ocampans were never established as a species worthy of respect or care because the writers didn't care about them and so never gave the audience a reason to care about them either. Now we don't have to worry about the Ocampans greatest problem, surviving on a planet with no water while only having 5 years worth of energy and an enemy ready to pillage them the moment that they run out of energy in 5 years and are no longer able to keep the Kazon at the gates. And why would the Caretaker only give the Ocampans energy that is stored? We see later on that fusion generators can last for hundreds of years and are fairly unsophisticated. Why not just build some fusion generators for the Kazon that they can use to power their town for a couple of centuries?

    If we are talking about the Prime Directive, then the Prime Directive clearly demanded that Janeway ignore the plight of the Ocampa as the Ocampans struggle against their dead world and the Kazon requires making the type of judgement call that the Prime Directive was created to prevent. Chiefly, whether to support the Kazon or the Ocampa. And the great part is, had Janeway done nothing, the array still would have blown up. The only reason why the Caretaker failed to activate the self destruct is because Janeway interfered with the politics on the planet by deciding to help the Ocampa instead of the Kazon contrary to the Prime Directive's policy of noninterference. And even then, it still makes no sense as to why the ship hitting the array stopped the self destruct sequence and why the self destruct sequence took so long.

    However, this all shines light on the complete stupidity of the Prime Directive which requires non interference during times when providing aid and humane relief would harm no one and help many, and is completely mute during times when the writers want the characters to take part in a dogfight. The Prime Directive was a knee jerk reaction to one officer's mistake of providing weapons to one side of a civil being waged by a less advanced species in a part of the galaxy that no one really cared about. Rather than evaluating the results of the mistake and creating a system of greater oversight and accountability, Starfleet decided instead that it would never provide any kind of aid to less advanced species during times of crisis when those less advanced species really need the aid, but provide infinite aid to species with similar or greater levels of technology or species that Starfleet just happened to be allied with at the time the crisis arose. This is a ridiculously hypocritical doctrine, and is probably one of the most stupid things the writers ever created for Star Trek because when you really break it down and think about it, it makes no sense. Providing aid and humane relief during times of crisis to species of lesser capabilities is Starfleet's MO. Creating a doctrine that tells officers to refuse to provide aid to less well off species just because they are less well off when providing that aid would cost little in terms of resources and time and would harm no one of any consequence is slightly morally evil. It's one thing to create a doctrine that says don't get involved in domestic politics when you don't understand the sides, but creating that a doctrine that wouldn't even allow officers to setup camps for refugees or save an entire species from being wiped out by some planetary or solar phenomenon is an immoral doctrine which is wholely unrelated to the problem of telling officers not to get involved in domestic disputes. Especially when this doctrine allows officers to get involved with the domestic affairs of allies, with the domestic affairs of enemies, and with the domestic affairs of species which just happen to have similar technology to Starfleet.

    The writers knew that the Prime Directive was a terribly stupid doctrine to create and continue to call up whenever they want to create artificial drama in a straightforward plot where morality would require providing aid, and so they have Janeway just handwave away Tuvok's bringing up the Prime Directive because they know how stupid the Prime Directive is.

    My gosh this show is boring. Even worse is janeway's voice. It just grates on me.
    This reminded me of the first season of TNG and that is not a good thing

    mephyve, I completley disagree. However much 'Encounter at Farpoint' was a complete flop, we know that there was a Riker's Beard near the end :)

    Anyway, I had watched the Star Trek spinoffs in the wrong order without order. I thought it went, TNG, VOY, DS9, ENT. So, I was extremley confused. What are Maquis? Why are they enemies? I rewatched in the correct order, that took me about 2 years, watching episodes more than once. Now I realize how Voyager wasn't too bad. However, there are the downsides. Why didn't Janeway activate the device to get them home since the self-destruct was disabled! However, thinking about that, I realize that the story would be finished after 1 1/2 hours. That was kindof annoying but then again it was nessecary. The Prime Directive was totally impairing the show.


    If you think a few seasons ahead, to when Tuvok made that holodeck training program in which Chakotay lead a mutiny, he stated that he would do anything, including screwing the Prime Directive, to get them home. Janeway was stupid. They're 70K light years from home. Do what the Maquis would do!


    In the end, I'd give Caretaker a 3 out of 5. The special effects were great, there's a star, the acting, right on par, excluding Janeway's screaming, "Report!", "What the hell is going on!", "Report!", "DO IT!", etc. That's really minus one half for me, that was just unnecessary. I liked the story, but the Kazon Nistrim sex was a bad idea. Minus 0.5. Now we're at 4/5. The big minus one here is the tri cobalt devices and, to be honest, Neelix. I get it, he was a good addition, but it would add to the story if they were more alone. For the tri-cobalt devices, why didn't they use those again? The only thing is, I think in some episode, Basics, or something, they used a Standard Issue Photon Torpedo to disable a borg ship, but it destroyed them instead, and in another episode, the one with the Omega Directive, they used a high yield warhead to detonate Omega or something. But really, they could've used that way more often! Minus one.

    The End.

    I have a long relationship with Star Trek, with huge gaps in between. Like most kids of my generation, I watched TOS in re-runs after school. When we went outside to role-play after, we all argued over who got to be Kirk because he was a bad-ass and got all the girls, including the green alien chick.

    I looked forward with keen anticipation to the original movie and, honest to Kahless, fell asleep watching it in the theater. Khan, of course, set things right. And although I enjoyed III and IV, I somehow never found my way over to TNG, or DS9, or Voyager during their original runs. I did try to watch Enterprise for awhile but with the exception of Jolene Blalock and her catsuits I didn't really care for the characters. Trip was too folksy, Archer was too earnest... it just annoyed me all the way around. I found TNG on BBC a few years ago, and then on Netflix, and over the past 2 or 3 years i've made my way through TNG twice (which I love) , DS9 (which I loved at first, then disliked immensely as it wound down) ... and now I suppose I qualify as a bit of a Trek junkie. I'm not a fanatic, and I don't science, but I've been immersed into the Trek oeuvre now and I find myself craving a dose at regular intervals. So despite the lukewarm reviews i've read about the Voyager series, I embarked on my own rewatch last night.

    I was prepared to be disappointed - maybe my low expectations are part of the reason I was surprised to find Caretaker to be the most entertaining of the series' premieres. I like the cast, for the most part, especially the Doctor and Torres, although as someone noted earlier, Neelix is a bit to Jar Jar Binks-esque for my taste. But there have been other Trek characters I didn't "get" at first, like Quark, and now he's among my favorite DS9ers, so maybe Neelix will grow on me.

    If I'm watching mindless television, the most important criterion is: do I want to find out what happens next? And the answer here was an emphatic yes. I can't really say the same about "Emissary", which I had to struggle through. In fact, the only thing I really remember about Emissary (except for vague recollection about Sisko traipsing around a beach with his future wife) was that Sisko was irrationally rude to Picard in blaming him for his wife's death. That's the only part of the episode that got my attention - in contrast, Caretaker really kept me moving along with the plot. Even the slow interlude in the middle with the old Kentucky Home or whatever was bizarrely intriguing, because of the stilted weirdness of the setting...

    Regardless, I may yet regret deciding to start this, but for now I'm looking forward to more.

    Solid pilot episodes, but with outrageous ending as a downfall!

    Good Visual Effects, some insight to the characters trait. Decent setup plot, but it has it pitfall. There are some weird and stupid things as some of here already commented :

    * A race capable interstellar ship having trouble with water? Well, at least it's a good thing that they want the technology and not having dumb moment just settle with bundle of water.
    * Neelix practically trick and used Janeway-Voyager to get Kes. Janeway didn't bring this up, still accept and trust Neelix without questioning it? I expect her to confront him and put him under caution at the very least.
    * The caretaker just kidnapped Voyager-Maquis crew, and killing more than a dozens of them in the process. But not only Janeway didn't push and confront this issue to the caretaker, she decided to help the entity wishes to protect the array rather than help herself and the crew!
    * Janeway decision to destroy the Array. I believe this is a HUGE mistake by the writer. Stranded on Delta Quadrant with renegade crew is already challenging task, now they throw additional dilemma to Janeway but not willing to deal with the consequences (as we see at the end of episodes and throughout the series).
    I think it will be better approach to let Janeway left with nothing can be done to use the array, or try to use the array but then failed, this will be more reasonable approach.
    As Tuvok pointed, they don't have a clue how this will change the balance of power, they barely there and sure don't have the whole true perspective (for all we know, the caretaker could be the oppresant to another species and Kazon) and Janeway will be a complicit as a result helping caretaker if that is the case (As well as her first PRIME DIRECTIVE violations).

    The conclusion is a big let down for me. It just make little sense (particularly after the stupid decision to destroy the array). Now let's see, after they destroy the array and made enemy with Kazon we have :
    * Starfleet and Maquis forced to accept Janeway decision to destroy the array, only B'ellana questioning it, and she's quickly dismissed by Chakotay (who seems so quickly relinquish his influence/command and settled to play Janeway-sidekick). Let alone the Maquis, I find it's even hard to believe that none of the starfleet personel questioning the only mean they know to get home to be destroyed.
    * They just loss at least dozens or more of their crew, heavy damage to the ship, but it seems they have no problem by the end of episodes (SURPRISE!!!).
    * Dealing with the loss/dead crew, mourning and pay respect for them and repair the ship seems to me is the most prudent action to be done. The crew integration, reform chain of command surely can wait after the immediate problem is solved.
    But No......... that is thrown aside, none of that happen as far as the viewer concern. The ships is magically repaired, the maquis crew is happily accept their integration (as the starfleet crew). Like there's nothing big happen, no live changing event happened. It feels like 'just another day in the office'. The crew just encounter another anomaly, got some of the crew injured and having crew replacement after transit on starbase.

    That ship should be dealing with big repair problem and loss of the crew at the end of episodes. Not a happy bunch readily to work together like nothing big ever happened to them. It needs at least a whole episode (or better yet, several disjointed episodes) to deal with that!

    I will say this will be a close to perfect pilot episodes if only they provide a good/reasonable conclusion. But the way this episodes end is just beyond me and destroyed that. It even has a cheesy lousy speech at the end without a single thread indicate and acknowledgement that they just lost a big chunk of their crew and supposedly crippled ship? SMH...

    Side Note : Caretaker as an entity and species also interesting and provide huge potential for good stories as species that close to omnipotent being (at least to humanoid species). Yet, they only use it for 2 episodes and later choose to use (and destroy) Q character, rather than made good use their own creation and potential of entity/character.

    3 (***) stars agreed

    I wholeheartedly concur with an earlier poster who compared this to the Odyssey. It really is an apt comparison and I think Voyager's writers were at least trying to go for that to some extent.

    As for the intra-ship tension Janeway lays out the one ship one crew mantra as well as explore, find shortcuts and stick to principles-the show followed that to the end.

    A satisfying beginning pilot. 3.5 stars!

    Contrary to many opinions here, I'm actually ok with Janeway's decision to destroy the array.

    Tuvok states it would take "several hours" to activate the program to send Voyager home. Voyager would not have lasted that long against the Kazon, especially since Jabin stated he had more ships on the way. If any of those other ships were like the big one they took down, they'd be toast fairly quick. Even with a bunch of the smaller ships, the Kazon had the clear advantage.

    As soon as the Kazon showed up, Voyager's chances of using the array to get home were slim to none. So Janeway is left with two options: Retreat and let the Kazon have the array, essentially dooming the Ocampa, or destroy it and maintain the balance of power in that system.

    Granted, the episode could have been written differently with the same outcome of Voyager being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, but I don't think Janeway's decision was a poor setup to that, given what both we and the characters knew going in.

    You know I think Jammer was way too hard on Voyager and what do I think about that?

    Fuck him and every reviewer that didn't show Voyager the respect it deserved.

    It's been ages since I watched this episode, but I have paused it 5 seconds in to have my first moan about it. What on earth were the writers thinking using that corny Star-Wars lite opening as exposition? it comes across as utterly laughable hahaha.

    @DLPB: I agree. Granted they had to get the exposition out of the way quickly for newcomers, but it still seemed more of a ripoff than anything else.

    Myself, I'm not sure what I would have done in the writers' place. Maybe just cut it altogether and leave the rest of the ep alone?

    I watched it all - and it wasn't too bad. Not bad, but not good. I didn't like the whole "Caretaker" nonsense, or the ridiculous idea that this species it was protecting lives for so few years and can mature so rapidly. Not believable in the slightest on so many levels. Turn off your brain. Janeway's decision is absurd and against the first duty of any captain. As the first post notes, the writer forgot (on purpose, no doubt) that there is such a thing as timed detonations.

    Most of all, I was annoyed that this entity is given a free pass after violating the crew in one of the worst ways possible (they were experimented on - and it was very painful). You can see how brainless the writers are that they don't see a contradiction portraying this being as compassionate and caring at the same time as having it experiment on other living beings—and hoisting them light-years from their loved ones with no means of returning home.

    How ridiculous is that? Just think about it. Think about what a useless writer you have to be to create such a massive contradiction with personality .

    The other problem, of course, is that the Marquis become Starfleet as early as this very episode. I thought it happened later, but, already, it's obvious they rushed the story forward to create one crew. They never had ANY intention of making a believable and thought-out transition period - or a struggle between the two crews. It was laziness from the word go.

    As I've said a billion times... it's entertaining. But, ultimately, this is like a packet of crisps to a glass of red wine (in writing terms).

    Here's what should have happened:

    "Please. You can't let the Kazon take the array. They will annihilate the Ocampa"

    Janeway: "Listen. We have something called the prime directive that forbids us to interfere. But, more importantly, I couldn't give a fat pimple on my aging arse as to what you think. You brought us here against our will and experimented on my crew. What kind of "caretaker" does that? My crew is my first priority. Maybe you should have been smarter and prepared for this day - rather than sticking probes into innocent beings at the last minute? You know what you can do with yourself, don't you?"

    +DLPB And I would add:

    Caretaker: "Then you leave me no choice." His body starts to glow/shiver/shrink/whatever. Tuvok/Chakotay/Every goddamn Federation and Maquis in range detect an energy spike on their tricorders: the Caretaker is going into some kind of critical mass and will explode in just enough time to transport back onto the ship and back off. Kazon approach the array thinking they've fought off Voyager and are caught in the blast.

    There, now we have a badass AND reasonable Janeway. She shoves his hypocrisy in his face and the decision to destroy the array is taken out of her hands. Sure, people will still complain that she should've been more accomodating with him and negotiated to send them back first, but at least there's MUCH less stupid to pin on her.

    ....and let the integration of the crew happen over the next few episodes, of course.

    Can you imagine how tense that would've left the show, crew and audience? It wasn't their fault that they were dragged to the Delta Quadrant, but it WAS the Prime Directive that helped to keep them stuck there. That would be a strong complaint by the Maquis on the ship maybe even fomenting some unhappiness in the Federation crew. They could even debate the beliefs of the Federation and their situation (it would fall on the side of the Federation, since this is their show). The drama would practically write itself. Add to that the threat of a large number of Kazon (you would have to remove the Oompa Loompa and maybe enhance the menace of strength of numbers and being pissed off first, of coures) and you have a starship on the run with rebellion bubbling just below the surface. (Gosh! sounds like BSG.)

    Disclosure: big DS9 fan here, starting Voyager for the first time.

    There is no way Caretaker is better than Emissary but I do think it's just as good or bad as Encounter at Farpoint.

    I've heard Voyager sucks later on which is why I skipped it but have to say the first couple of hours has me smiling - it's a beautiful ship.

    "I've heard Voyager sucks later on"

    This is an overstatement. Every episode is about as good as the pilot. There are a few gems in the mix, but they are rare.

    "There is no way Caretaker is better than Emissary but I do think it's just as good or bad as Encounter at Farpoint."

    @Real Ric

    Emissary is way better I agree but Caretaker is 100x better than Encounter at Farpoint. Almost all of TNG S1 is abysmal. It's a miracle they didn't cancel it right away when you think about it.

    "Encounter at Farpoint" is pretty good for its time. A lot of the special effects were state of the art, and DeLancie's performance is great. The only thing I remember about "Caretaker" is that it started strong and ended with a really questionable decision which set the tone for the series. Can't say I'm a fan.

    IMO, Voyager does not really have a "jump the shark" moment. It was consistently inconsistent - fantastic one week, awful the next, and usually somewhere in between. If anything, I'd say it was a little better on average in the later seasons.

    Water being rare is silly, it should be easy enough to find somewhere on another planet, moon, comet, etc. The same should go for oxygen and hydrogen, especially the latter. Easily converted to water. Otherwise a decent episode.

    4 stars

    This has aged really well and I actually enjoy it even more than in 1995 which I couldn't think possible given how much I enjoyed it then

    The pilot did a great Job pulling together and setting in motion the pieces set up in TNG/DS9, introducing everything and setting up the show's premise all the while with an entertaining action adventure story at its core that you easily get swept up in

    The show did a great job making the audience feel the crew were far from home and in a completely foreign region. The unfolding of the Caretaker's motives and plan was involving. Meeting the Kazon was interesting as well as seeing them become Voyager's first adversaries. Coming across Neelix. The Ocampa were interesting with their limited lifespans and underground world

    Everybody got something to do. Kate Mulgrew was great and Janeway came out the gate strong and had lots of great moments--at ease Mr Kim before you sprain something, it's not crunch time yet Mr Kim I'll let you know when, her playful conversation with Mark, demonstrating her scientific accumen whether when informing Tom that had the Maquis raider been destroyed they'd have picked up magnetic resonance trace or sharing her analysis of the Ocampan home world with Tuvok, standing up for Paris after Chakotay attacks him as a coward, her conversation and friendship with Tuvok, her determination to locate Kim and Torres and getting home, her final scene with the Caretaker, her lengthy speech to the crew at the end was great stuff. The characters were good here and all had potential except Neelix. The pilot seemed to plan to carry on the TNG tradition of being a drama with a gravitas which was most certainly a good thing!!

    I probably should have known it'd be all but downhill since my personal experience has been my most favorite tv shows have always started out poorly before getting their footing and then becoming consistently good

    So, it begins. I'll *try* to keep comments on Voyager short, for my own sake, mostly. This will probably be an exception, ha. My wife (formerly girlfriend) and I just watched Caretaker tonight, and I think we'll probably continue.

    So overall, it was okay -- but I was left disappointed. Not terribly disappointed, because I didn't remember Caretaker being that strong. Still, I think the episode doesn't quite succeed in the goals it seems to set for itself.

    The biggest flaw, which many seem to agree on, is Janeway's decision to destroy the array at the episode's end. Unlike many, I don't really have a problem with Janeway making a call to strand her ship and crew for a higher moral imperative. I suppose I don't even necessarily have a problem with her violating the Prime Directive in doing so. I do have a problem with the way in which this central, series-defining decision played out. Now, Elliott has argued that Janeway's decision here recurs throughout the series, in large ways and small, and that it's by no means decided the moment that Janeway does it, and I will keep an eye out for that. There is indeed something interesting about that idea -- about resting a series on a momentary, almost instinctual decision by a main character, in which we in principle already have all the information at the time she makes it, but have a whole lots of hours left in which to consider its ramifications and so on. In this way of looking at it, it might not even matter much that Janeway didn't particularly explain herself, because there's a whole series to explore that. I like the idea, but I'm maybe skeptical about it in practice (or that this is what ST:V actually does). We'll see.

    Evaluating the episode by itself: I think the decision to have Janeway make a choice to strand the crews in the DQ is a great idea, overall, dramatically. The ships being brought to the DQ was basically an Act of God (or godlike being), over which the crews had no control, but having Janeway make the call to strand them there restores her character's agency and creates a baseline of responsibility that Janeway feels for the rest of the series for the plight of her crew. The problem is that despite the running time, Caretaker leaves out huge amounts of information we need to understand and make our own minds up about Janeway's decision, to say nothing of having her justify it beyond "we didn't want to be involved...but we are" sophistry.

    Let's, for a moment, leave out that she's stranding the ship by her decision, assume that Janeway's moral obligations to act (or not to act) go beyond her own crew's (and Chakotay's crew's) safety, which actually does work for me -- the Ocampa species hangs in the balance, possibly. Let's take it as a sort of star system of the week one of the Enterprises might have encountered. Why *is* this Banjo Man-Ocampa-Kazon situation different from any other Prime Directive situation? And if it's not, does this mean that Janeway rejects the PD? Does Janeway really have enough information to conclude that the Kazon shouldn't get access to the Caretaker's array? Does she actually believe the story she tells about the Ocampa being stronger than Banjo Man thinks they are, when, you know, Banjo Man *destroyed their planet* and their barely-livable surface is apparently ruled by a Kazon tribe? I feel like if this were a (good) TOS or TNG episode, there would be a long discussion between Kirk/Picard and the senior staff, where they weigh the pros and cons of interference, try to separate the letter and spirit of Federation law, and so on. There's a lot of fuzziness about how the PD applies to superior-powered beings, and many episodes, like A Private Little War or Redemption II, feature the Enterprise captain specifically running interference on an enemy species interfering in the internal affairs of another. So Janeway is maybe in a grey area, where Banjo Man has already "interfered" in the Ocampa system (first by destroying the Ocampa planet's surface, then by restructuring their society so that he can preserve them) and can act to stop him from further interfering with the Kazon. But she's also in a situation she knows nothing about, where all she has to go on is that the Ocampa look friendly and the Kazon look like jerks, and the presumably self-serving narrative peddled by the Caretaker who by his own admission kidnaps and fatally experiments on people from all around the galaxy in order to procreate (?). What if the Kazon were harmed by the Caretaker too? Maybe here we have to just accept the surface narrative, which later episodes will support, that the Kazon are dirty, grimy bastards and the Ocampa are smiling children who "need to grow up," but even the most generous reading I can supply still leads to the contradiction that it still seems like no matter what Janeway does, the Ocampa are becoming a slave race in five years when their supplies run out and they head to the surface where Kazon mining operations are still running. A little dialogue on why Janeway feels it's her responsibility to interfere this far but no further -- in fact, exactly enough to set up the show! -- would have been nice and would have helped the episode, to put it mildly.

    This probably bothers me because I also feel like Janeway and the others were largely left without many choices for the rest of the story; there were a few vague murmurs about investigating their situation, which mostly involved things like Paris and Kim looking around the barn where Banjo Man kept all his secrets. Really, the decision to destroy the array is not just the most important, but in some senses the first major decision Janeway makes in the episode after Voyager leaves DS9. We don't have enough sense of who she is to make total sense of it, despite Melgrew's always-great performance. And here I'll add that it's not as if there wasn't time in the episode to clarify this point. The entire sequence in the faux-folksy farm simulation could have easily been excised, the "crew teleported in, shots of crew being experimented on, crew teleported out" stuff could have been reduced to simply Kim and Torres being beamed away, there was lots of redundancy in the "Kim/Torres wait for their chance to escape" material, and so on. There are funny little details which seem like either half-finished set-pieces with no payoff or obvious padding, like that part in the tunnels when Kes informs the others that they have to not touch some energy barrier or their skin will come off. Knowing how the show will eventually be balanced, the disproportionate focus on Paris and his redemption story could easily have been toned down to make more room for establishing stronger, at least one-off-episode-strong pictures of the Ocampa and Kazon and a stronger sense of Janeway's values to get to that big moment.

    I think I do get, though, why some of the material I'd consider extraneous was included, though. For example, the "simulation of Earth" stuff with Banjo Man strikes me as hoary and unnecessary, but it at least is setting up the theme of nostalgia, and the question of whether a Caretaker (parent?) has a responsibility to create the illusion of home. It strengthens what might be parallels between Janeway and Banjo Man -- Janeway ends up quasi-parent to two crews, as Banjo Man is a caretaker for the Ocampa, which we already get a sense of in her maternal instincts regarding Harry (see "at ease before your break something," or that "his mom called me about a clarinet" story) and Tom (for whom she's already serving as a representative for his own father, whom he maybe can impress). There's a tension between Janeway's humanist (sentient-life-ist?) belief in self-determination, for example of the Ocampa, and her belief that she needs to act as a shield to protect them, e.g. from the Kazon getting the Caretaker's technology, which maybe sets up her arc as captain: how much is her role to allow her crew maximum freedom to be themselves, and how much of it is to guide them with absolute authority (and maybe a "benevolent" iron fist) to protect them, to create an illusion of home to sustain them? Given that the Caretaker is himself responsible for the Ocampa's plight, as Janeway bears responsibility for stranding her crew, the parallel does tend to pop. And like the Caretaker who sets himself as a type of God, Janeway, cut off from Starfleet Command and the rest of the Federation, immediately gets total authority, beyond any real checks and balances; the first major decision she does is to break the Prime Directive, and unlike those times Kirk or Picard did it, there's no one even in principle to reprimand her for 75 years.

    TORRES: What other way home is there? Who is she to be making these decisions for all of us?
    CHAKOTAY: She's the Captain.

    In principle, the rebellious anarchism of the Maquis and the humanistic, IDIC core of the Federation should run counter to Starfleet chain of command on a "mission" like Voyager's, in which people can't quit or put in for a transfer. The conflict between the IDIC/"we work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity" emphasis on personal growth and choice and the hierarchical nature of Starfleet isn't as big a deal on the Enterprise, where, yes, Kirk/Picard must be obeyed on any given mission but people can (and, in the case of e.g. Worf, do) get off any moment they like, even if there is a lot of sunk cost in career damage that might result. So it's with mixed feelings that I report that Janeway's iron fist is already on display, and Chakotay basically already surrendered any opposition before we even got to the ending where Janeway opens with talking about how the two crews will work together, then concludes with "It'll be a Starfleet crew." Is it lazy, five-seconds-from-the-end writing to establish the show's ground rules as fast as possible in a pilot already overstuffed, sometimes with stuffing that didn't seem terribly important? That was meant to be rhetorical, but, yeah, probably I'd say "yes": it seems bizarre to include all the set-up for the Maquis (over two other shows, no less) just to have Chakotay give up immediately, even if, let's face it, maybe this Starfleet/Maquis conflict concept for the show was doomed from the start. (The primary difference between the Maquis and other Federation citizens is their take on how best to deal with Cardassians in the de-militarized zone, which is precluded from ever coming up again, except through extreme contrivance; maybe the fault isn't with the later episodes of the show but with the whole idea that this astropolitical difference would matter enough half a galaxy away from the source of the conflict to build a show around.) But hey, maybe Chakotay falling in line behind Janeway in an episode whose story is about the Ocampa's unquestioning obedience to a flawed god isn't a complete coincidence. Will Janeway manage to preserve her crew, including the recently-added criminal anarchist wing, by giving them uniforms, a mission, and places on the chain of command? We'll see!

    I had forgotten how much the episode is already leaning on the Paris/Kim and Tuvok/Neelix pairings. Neelix, I'm sorry to say, is mostly annoying already, though the fact that he was playing Janeway et al. to rescue Kes gives a bit of hope that the original conception of the character was someone who deployed his annoying traits as a way to fool people into underestimating him; the way he's unequivocally *dangerous* while holding onto the bumbling exterior (see the way he grabs the Kazon knife, or shoots their water supply) is an element that I think largely dissipated, for a while anyway, and will probably be missed. My understanding is that Paris was supposed to be a sort of co-protagonist in the original conception of the show, and that really comes across here; as with the Maquis material, I think that his "redemption," including heroic rescues and an immediate commission, happens too quickly and ends up being dramatically pat. B'Elanna (which she pronounces "Bay-Lanna" in this episode) gets little material but has one "ah yes, that's my KLINGON HALF" exposition moment; Harry is Harry, which isn't a problem for the first episode but will, IIRC, become one when he's mostly the same a few years later. Kes is a total blank except for her moment of moral responsibility when she convinces Neelix to stay and help. Picardo is great, but I don't really think the Doctor's material in this ep was that funny. Russ is a wonder at making a great deal out of small amounts of material, and I'm really looking forward to watching him more closely this time through. Chakotay -- well, I dunno. I don't think he comes across that strongly in this episode.

    I've sort of talked myself into liking it more than I liked it while watching it, but I still think that the big things it needed to sell -- Janeway's decision to destroy the array, and then the combining of the Starfleet and Maquis crews -- were left pretty unsold, and in an episode that overall left me kind of cold, that's really damaging. I know that Parallax does more with the latter subject, though specifically with the Carey/Torres competition thing, so I'll see how that goes. For now, 2 stars.

    First, I would like to say (20+ years later, so I'm a little late) that people shouldn't really be discussing future episodes/events/spoilers of Voyager in case someone is coming here for a first run through of the series.

    Second, I'm starting my second viewing of the series, not having liked much of it the first time, but I'm keeping an open mind, and won't spoil anything myself :

    I think Caretaker is a decent episode. Especially for a premier. It did a pretty good job of setting up characters and situations etc.

    I do have some problems with it though. Most of which have been mentioned already.

    One is the hologram world they are brought to. Tuvok says that the Caretaker scanned their computers 'in order to select a comfortable holographic environment'. So that's small town southern U.S. in the 1930's? It's like scanning us now and then creating a 17th century village to make us feel comfortable. Maybe a 24th century San Francisco would have been better.

    Another is how they got stranded in the first place. I think the whole Caretaker thing was pretty lame. I think it would have been much better if it were just some random unknown event that flung them into the delta quadrant if you ask me. Some odd anomaly, or some strange being or something. Say Voyager had caught up with the Maquis ship to arrest them or get Tuvok back or whatever and all of a sudden, blammo! They are tossed off into oblivion. Much better than the 'sacrifice ourselves to save others' nonsense. Noone having a clue what happened would be sort of cool. Maybe discovering why later in the series or in the finale or something.

    And many people have been saying that Janeway broke the prime directive in this episode, but I don't think she did. It's invoked for non-interference with pre-warp cultures. Ones that don't know there is other intelligent life, pretty much. All of the aliens on the show are warp capable and know of other planets/species/cultures etc. I don't really see how the PD applies.

    anyway. a hesitant 3 stars from me.

    I've just finished DS9 and I'm beginning Voyager from the start.

    I've watched all the series about 15 years ago and couldn't remember much about this episode other than they get stuck in the delta quadrant.

    The episode did a good job of introducing the characters and setting the scene. I didn't like the holodeck style farm but other than that the premise was ok.

    As others have said, the biggest issue with the episode is Janeway's decision at the end. Since it's the decision that the entire premise of the show is based upon it's a pretty major flaw. Although Janeway didn't break the prime directive there were several options for telling the story in a much better way.

    Ultimately Janeway's decision to strand the crew makes no sense. Even with saving the Okampa, it was established that they would need to fend for themselves in 5 years when the caretaker's power runs out. She bought them 5 years. Was it worth stranding the crew for? Following Janeway's logic, Voyager should stick around continuing the caretaker's job.

    Even if we accept Janeway's decision to save the Okampa and start a war with the Kazon it feels like sloppy writing. My immediate thought was "Surely they have the technology to put a timer on a bomb!".

    A better solution would have been to leave Torres and Kim on the planet and having the caretaker dying. Janeway's choice then could have been rescue Torres and Kim or get everyone home before the caretaker dies and they can't get home. This would be a much more interesting moral choice, and one we could more easily side with Janeway on.

    A decent but not great premiere (DS9's "Emissary" was better). It is imaginative -- we've got 1 interesting character in Paris (so far), and a compelling premise for the series; however, there are a couple of head-scratchers (which will be a recurring issue in most VOY episodes, for me).

    The whole Caretaker thing is a bit hokey in how he presents himself to the Voyager crew as some old farmer dude. He reminded me of Kevin Uxbridge from TNG's "The Survivors". Not as powerful but certainly one of those vastly superior life forms with practically undefined powers, until he croaks.

    It's odd that the Voyager crew can speak directly with him yet the Ocampa have to guess at his wishes and just depend on him. He seems to have set up this elaborate scheme to protect them from the Kazon -- he owes the Ocampa a massive debt but I think he could be repaying it in a better way (1 of my head-scratchers). His protection of the Ocampa influences Janeway's thinking big-time and she doesn't question the Ocampa's motives or the Kazon's that much (which was another of my headscratchers). Why are the Kazon just automatically bad guys and what do they want with the Ocampa? Why do they want to prevent Janeway from seeing the Caretaker? I guess Janeway had to destroy the array so that the Kazon could not get it. Voyager had no way to fight off a fleet of Kazon.

    Also have to assume Doc was able to treat Kim/Torres efficiently after whatever sickness they got on the planet. I think that was just glossed over quite quickly. Why were those 2 randomly selected by the Caretaker? Just to build up their characters perhaps.

    I liked how Kim/Parris strike up a friendship -- this seemed realistic and natural. Janeway's motherly instincts are there right from the start (I don't agree with her taking on Kes/Neelix so summarily, however). Torres has firmly established herself as aggressive (or passionate might be more polite). Doc already has his personality.

    Definitely no expense spared here -- it is a big bombastic production with starship battle scenes, special FX and the standard escape scene with Paris saving Chakotay. As a premiere, it was more about sci-fi action and being pleasing to the eye, rather than being a cerebral character-type show.

    At the end of the episode, Janeway gives her speech that ties up most loose ends re. the crew -- not bad, but I'd expect some grumbling from the Maquis re. automatically becoming StarFleet again.

    A strong 2.5 stars for "Caretaker" -- covered a ton of ground and establishes this series as similar to TOS, TNG as a show about exploration of unknown space but with a nice twist in that they have no allies (other than the Ocampa) and are on a quest to reach home. Unusual and entertaining but not particularly deep.

    I just finished rewatching TNG and am now moving on to Voyager. DS9 may have made more sense to watch next, but I could never get into DS9 when it first aired. I watched a few eps, then quit. I remember disliking the idea of the stationary setting - they weren't traveling through space! - and not finding Cisko very interesting. I'll try when I finish this, though. Maybe my more mature self will like it better.

    This ep was a good start to Voyager. I remember almost nothing from the first time around, so it should be a fun rewatch.

    "3. The way Tuvok and Janeway interacted with each other, I thought he would have been the first officer."

    I doubt the guy that had been spying on the Maquis for months would have gone over well...

    Alrighty, time for a new series. DS9's uneven third season has just completed an ambitious but disappointing 2-parter. I have to imagine that most Trekkies had seen “Generations” by this point, too. Now, I am to understand that, at the time, Trekkies were riding high. “All Good Things” was a great success, launching the esteemed crew into films. DS9 was a “dark and gritty” alternative to the bright and optimistic future they were used to. The experiment to resurrect the TV franchise 7 years prior had proved a success. Now me, I don't quite see it that way. TNG had started to really suck before its admittedly stellar finale, and it's first film was a big miss. DS9, while telling a few good stories with some fresh takes and a definitely emphasis on series continuity, has tested my patience more than once with its unjustified cynicism and contempt for the Trek ethos. As far as I am concerned, the best elements of what make Star Trek itself cohered in TNG's third season when a distilled Trekkian vision found executors who could fashion engaging drama and a cast that could deliver.

    This new series, Voyager, was prepared for in the franchise continuity by three episodes. First, TNG's “Journey's End,” which I touched on in my review of the second set-up, DS9's “The Maquis,” and finally TNG's “Pre-emptive Strike.” I didn't discuss one of the other unpleasant elements of “Journey's End” because it didn't pertain to DS9, the Indians of the Space:

    “Journey's End” was peak 90s Dances-with-Wolves I-respect-your-culture-enough-to-exploit-it-commercially. Rather than simply owning up to the fact that the First Nations of America were systemically all-but erased from the planet through white colonialism, there was a massive Hollywood effort to turn Indians into Elves, with quasi-magical powers and a universal “love of the land.” In Trek, no effort was made to reconcile the reality of First Nation history with the lore of the franchise. While some (not all) tribes certainly did not believe in the ownership of property, for example, the Federation has certainly outdone them on that front, with the abolition of money altogether. Other Earth cultures, such as Picard's France and Keiko's Japan, had maintained certain cultural traditions for the sake of...tradition, but on the whole those cultures did not maintain aspects which conflicted with Federation morality. Robert Picard, throwback stick-in-the-mud that he may be, is not a Roman Catholic, because there is no church in the 24th century. But the Indians, they get to keep their (one) religion because it's not treated as a religion so much as a vague kind of tokenised spiritualism that we *so* respect, because we definitely aren't guilty white writers trying to make ourselves fell better, no sir. Sigh...for better or worse, “Journey's End” established that a group of Indians separated from the Federation when the new peace treaty with Cardassia was signed, setting the stage for “The Maquis.”

    What we need to remember from that episode is that a. the motivations for the Maquis make absolutely no god-damned sense, except for that vague spiritual “connection to the land” (which of course, they do not own), because the Indians are given religious exemption or whatever, and b. a few Starfleet officers, like Cal Hudson, have defected from Starfleet to aid the renegade Maquis in their effort to...shoot at Cardassians, I guess. We saw recently on “Defiant” that the Maquis still have not developed any coherent purpose beyond petty personal reasons.

    That leaves “Pre-emptive Strike.” The Ro stuff isn't super relevant, except that she exemplifies the type of Starfleet officer who ends up defecting to the Maquis, one easily-duped by the half-assed reasoning they employ to justify their actions. Like Thomas Riker, she has personal reasons for aligning herself with these people, and all the tactical training Starfleet has to offer can't paste together the flimsy reasoning that drives the story. Everything else is essentially a re-hash of “The Maquis.” I especially love the reasoning that the Cardassians are performing paramilitary attacks on the colonists in order to drive them off their land, without even bothering to guess at a reason why. So, with that less-than-promising backstory, let's delve into “Caretaker.”

    Teaser : ***, 5%

    We begin with a brief crawl, just like in “Emissary,” which again calls the Maquis Federation citizens—all of which living in the DMZ are *not*. We see a Maquis ship being pursued by a Cardassian vessel. On the bridge, we a quickly introduced to four characters in those signature Maquis earth-tones. The leader, an American Indian, a Klingon-human woman handling operations, a Vulcan handling tactical and another human who doesn't talk. Good ol' Gul Evek, onboard the Cardassian ship, hails and orders their surrender. The leader, just cuts off the transmission. The woman displays that typical Federation “creativity,” shunting all their power to engines—yeah, who'd think of that one? The ship is headed to the Badlands, where the Maquis are based. The large Cardassian ship is disabled by the plasma storms. The Vulcan, Tuvok, detects a gigantic special effect approaching them, and cut to credits. On action, this is very similar to “Emissary” in jettisoning us into the series. It doesn't have the character focus of the former's teaser on Sisko, but the performances of the actors are noticeably more believable, so it's a toss-up.

    Act 1 : ***, 10%

    After a truly beautiful credit-sequence, we find ourselves in New Zealand. Nic Locarno is toiling away at something or other—no wait, his name is Tom Paris, which we learn from a Starfleet captain, who introduces herself as Kathryn Janeway. Paris is a prisoner in this penal colony, we discern from the tracking collar around his ankle. She wants to offer Paris a job, and hopefully, this involves a great deal of quippy sarcasm, because Paris is brimming with it. Janeway served with his father (in the Clone Wars?) as a science officer. It turns out she's been assigned to search for that Maquis vessel that was lost in the teaser, and has a brand new starship that is up to the task. Paris was very briefly in the Maquis, and apparently knows the territory better than any other Maquis prisoners. We can assume that Paris was among the lower-deck Defiant crew who were traded back to the Federation in “Defiant.” Janeway's chief of security is a spy who had infiltrated the Maquis—like Ro Laren—and was lost along with the ship. We also learn that the Indian leader is *also* former Starfleet, named Chakotay, and that he and Paris have some history.

    PARIS: Chakotay will tell you he left Starfleet on principle, to defend his home colony from the Cardassians. I, on the other hand, was forced to resign. He considered me a mercenary, willing to fight for anyone who'd pay my bar bill. have no bar bills, Tommy. While he may have Locarno's face, Paris' personality reminds me a lot of Ro, most especially in her introductory episode. Since I haven't reviewed that one, allow me to inform you that I'm not a fan of hers, despite Michelle Forbes' excellent acting. I'll say this, though. Unlike the Picard-Sisko scenes in “Emissary,” this conversation feels like words being exchanged by two human beings instead of one actor trying to deliver his lines to a sock-puppet with firecrackers popping off inside. Paris agrees to help Janeway in her mission—he will observe, despite proclaiming himself to be an excellent pilot. In exchange, Janeway will help Paris at his next review, get him closer to freedom.

    We find ourselves on a shuttle approaching DS9. Paris, in a Starfleet uniform for god-knows what reason, is being flown there by Janeway's helmsman, a Betazoid named Starfire, or whatever. He takes the opportunity, having only recently been let out of jail, to hit her, complete with embarrassing 24th century techno-metaphors. Thankfully, they pass the titular starship, Voyager, and lays on the exposition, but quick. The ship has “biomemetic” circuitry, and is very fast, and it's so pretty!

    Armin Shimmerman gets to collect an extra paycheque, having been snubbed but for one brief scene in “Past Tense,” as Quark chats up a young Starfleet ensign at his bar.

    QUARK: I do carry a select line of unique artefacts and gem stones indigenous to this region. Why, quite recently, I acquired these Lobi crystals from a very strange creature called a Morn.

    Heh. The ensign fends off Quark's advances gracelessly giving the Ferengi the opportunity to raise a ruckus about Starfleet slurs against his people. Quark demands his name—it's Harry Kim. Before long, Kim is about to buy Quark's entire box of bullshit (with what money?), but Paris swoops in to rescue the young man by pointing out that the priceless artefacts are essentially costume jewels. And Harry is in love.

    On the Voyager, Kim and Paris report to the CMO, who *also* has some history with Paris. It's a small galaxy. He was at some colony where Paris was stationed before his brief rebellion with the Maquis, and well, Dr Jawline doesn't like him much. He advises both to report to the captain—Kim is the new Operations officer.

    Janeway is in her ready room, skyping with Mark, her fiancé. There talking about her dog. While the brief scene flirts with the kind of DBI that plagued early DS9, I have to say that Kate Mulgrew is absolutely wonderful in the role, with a down-to-earth humanity that we didn't see in TNG or DS9 for at least half a season. The lovebirds enter. Like Quark, Janeway sizes Kim up immediately:

    KIM: Thank you, sir.
    JANEWAY: Mister Kim, at ease before you sprain something. Ensign, despite Starfleet protocol, I don't like being addressed as sir.
    KIM: I'm'am?
    JANEWAY: “Ma'am” is acceptable in a crunch, but I prefer “Captain.”

    I can't begin to express my gratitude for this performance. Recalling Brooks' stilted “As a STAR-FLEET OF-FIC-ER” tedium, Mulgrew's casual, comfortable tone feels entirely natural and endearing. Oh, and she's funny, too. It also says something about her character that she doesn't get hung up on protocol.

    They move to the bridge, where the first officer, Caveat or whatever, greets Paris with hostility—small galaxy, and Kim is shown to his station. And just like that, they're off.

    Act 2 : **.5, 10%

    In the mess hall, Paris orders himself a soup, observing Harry getting the lowdown from the two angry white dudes, the doctor and XO, while they glare at Tom across the room. Paris joins his young paramour while the others leave and is resigned to the fact that they spilled the beans on his backstory. Turns out he made some unspecified piloting error, lied about it and then came clean. His error cost three people their lives. Thoroughly disenchanted, he joined the Maquis, cause why not? Again, while we all think Locarno, because it's Robby MacNeal, this backstory is very Ensign Ro, including the clichéd scornful crewmate dynamic.

    The Voyager enters the Badlands, on info from Evek. With Paris' help, they follow the likely trajectory of Chakotay's ship. One touch I like is how Janeway still behaves like a science officer. I'm reminded of Data's turn at command during “Redemption.” But, oh fuck, that same techno-special effect field is following them now. Alas, fast and gel-packed as she is, the Voyager isn't fast enough to outrun it.

    The ship is severley damaged, people are injured. The XO and Starfire are dead. Janeway, so collected in the earlier scenes, finds her voice breaking, almost panicked at the disaster which has befallen them so quickly into her first mission. Kim manages to get the sensors working and discovers a space station nearby. More pressingly, like in “Where No One Has Gone Before,” the ship is on the other side of the galaxy, 70K lightyears or so. Good thing the galaxy is so small.

    Act 3 : **, 10%

    The Maquis ship is also nearby, unoccupied. The spacestaion (which they call the “array”) is shooting bursts of energy towards some far-off planet. Turns out the chief engineer is *also* dead (I wonder if he hated Paris, too), so Janeway is going to help the team avoid a warp-core breach. Kim is sent to sickbay to assess the situation and Paris tags along. Before entering engineering, Janeway makes sure to do her hair up again, betraying her need to appear put-together for the crew. The warp core (which is also very beautiful—reminiscent of the core from TMP) is fractured, and Janeway orders technobabble stat to resolve this crisis.

    Sickbay is on fire, and the CMO and nurse are *also* dead. Yeesh. Kim activates “The Emergency Medical Holographic Programme,” and there materialises an holographic Robert Picardo. Amid the emotional frenzy, the doctor's calm, sardonic annoyance (“*medical* tricorder [asshole]”) is sort of interesting, but I have to say I don't like the conflicting tone here. The doc is funny, but the levity seriously undermines the alleged tension of this disaster.

    Meanwhile Janeway babbles some technos and saves the warp core, just in time for her and the entire crew to be beamed away, leaving the holographic doctor quite alone, and even *more* annoyed.

    The crew find themselves on a rural plantation, complete with a hostess—Paula Dean. They're onboard the station and quickly greeted by the extras from To Kill a Mockingbird, complete with banjo-man and rural slut. Well this is...weird.

    Act 4 : ***, 10%

    Now back to our hootenanny, already in progress. Janeway sends the crew around to search for a holographic generator while Paula Dean tries to keep the crew placated with corn and banjo (yeek). She implies that they're waiting for something, but won't disclose more. The lovebirds seem to find something “down by the ol' barn,” but rural-slut interrupts and puts the moves on Paris—who is all over that, apparently. Kim, the jilted lover, finds Sporocystian lifesigns up ahead. I had a sporocyst on my gums once. Not fun. Just like in a teen horror movie, rural-slut tries coyly to keep the pair out of the barn, but they go in anyway. Kim detects humanoid lifesigns as well—by their makeup, certainly the missing Maquis. Rural-slut sucker-punches Tom and sicks the dog after Harry before Paula Dean and the rest appear with pitchforks, because, um rural™. Janeway and the crew are led to an ominous chamber where they join the Maquis in being painfully probed. fucking horrifying, exemplified by Kim's blood-curdling scream.

    Next thing you know, the crew is waking up on the Voyager, having been on the array for several days. Apparently, the holographic doctor decided to repair the lights in sickback as it's looking much cleaner than before. Ah, but not everything is kosher, Harry is missing. Janeway hails Chakotay on his ship, referring to him by the Starfleet rank he held when he commanded Lt Ro. One his people are missing, too—B'Elana Torres. Some of the Maquis are beamed to the bridge, nameless man, Chakotay and the Tuvok, who it turns out is Janeway's spy. Chakotay gets hostile with Paris, per the theme of this episode.

    Tuvok, in a perfect Vulcan clip provided by Tim Russ, lays out his assessment. He believes there is a single lifeform on the array who performed a medical exam. Janeway decides they're going back, but in her insecurity, Janeway orders they arm themselves with the big phasers. Considering how easily the alien technology outstripped their own, I'm not sure what she hopes to accomplish with this move. Tom invites himself along, worried about his new boyfriend.

    On the array, the hoe-down has been reduced to a single, sad banjo-man. Janeway hostilely demands the return of their crewmen and their vessel to the AQ, but Chakotay takes a more civil tone. The Banjo-man admits that he is searching for something to help him honour a debt which he cannot hope to repay. Hmmm. Yeah, that Paula Dean bullshit is going to be hard to make up for, buddy. He refuses to expend the time (and energy) necessary to return the ships and beams them back to the Voyager with a Q-like flick of the wrist.

    Janeway observes the energy pulses being shot from the array and the sound accompanies the awakening of Harry in some sort of sterile laboratory, along with Torres. The two of them have developed some very gross tumours and lesions. Torres lashes out in anger before being sedated by the creepy personnel.

    Back in the ready room, Janeway's log informs us that they've tracked the energy pulses to a planet. The ship has been repaired and Tuvok enters, in a gold uniform. A couple of mysteries abound—the pulses are getting faster and the planet has been rendered unable to produce rain because of science. After the plot slog, we are treated to another marvellous Mulgrew scene where she confesses to Tuvok, whom she has known a long time, that she regrets not having gotten to know Harry and the rest of the crew better. This is consistent with the insecurities we have been observing in Janeway who seems to be breaking under the enormous task she faces.

    Act 5 : **.5, 10%

    On their way to the rainless planet, the Voyager and the Val-Jean (Chakotay's ship) encounter a small vessel. Janeway hails the messy little ship and are greeted by a furry alien called Neelix. He's very hostile at first, but softens when he realises Janeway isn't going to steal his crap. Neelix claims to be “famous” for knowing this region well. Yeah. Sure. Well, Neelix is able to provide some exposition. The Voyager is just the latest in a line of at least 50 ships brought here by the Banjo-man, who is called “Caretaker” by a race called the Ocampa, who live on the destination planet. The Ocampa are frequently tasked with looking after a couple members of these wayward vessels' crews. Neelix isn't willing to help unless Janeway offers him a trade. He wants water. I think we are meant to infer that whatever natural disaster robbed the Ocampa homeworld of its rain-producing properties has affected the entire region, because apparently, water is a valuable commodity. Seems dubious, but whatever, replicators aren't going to have any trouble compensating Mr Neelix for his, erm, talent. In addition to replicators, Neelix hasn't heard of transporter technology, so he's intrigued by the prospect of beaming aboard. Tuvok greets him in the transporter room—which for whatever reason, they're using now, even though the beamed the Maquis to the bridge without a problem before. Neelix makes a bumbling, Ferengi-like assessment of the transporter room, mistakes Tuvok's name for “Vulcan” and gives him a bear hug. Ugh.

    Torres awakens—now she and Kim are alone in the Ocampa lab. Torres is being very Kira-like in her uncontrolled hostility—although being kidnapped, experimented on, infected and imprisoned is more a justification for anger than not getting your way with the Bajoran government. Oh, and instead of just chalking up her issues to “have you ever met any Bajoran women, Commander?” patronising nonsense, Torres admits to her temper, claiming her Klingon half is difficult to control. Given how long it took Worf to stop crapping on the Enterprise's rug, I find this fair. An Ocampa man returns to release them to “the courtyard,” which looks a lot like an underground mall. The Ocampa moved below the surface, aided by the Caretaker when the planet stopped producing rain. The Caretaker, in fact, has assumed responsibility for all the Ocampa's needs—their home, their energy, their food. He has these giant screensavers for the community to watch and “interpret.” We quickly glean than this “society” has all but stopped under these conditions. The Ocampa live like pets and have essentially deified the Caretaker. Torres and Harry learn that the other aliens who were sent to the Ocampa have all died, and they can expect the same.

    Act 6 : **.5, 10%

    The Federation ships arrive at the Ocampa planet and Tuvok, poor man, is sent to retrieve Neelix from his quarters. Neelix...has taken the opportunity to bask in the delights of replicated excess, drowning himself in water, food and bubble bath. I think we're supposed to find this scene funny because, you know, Neelix is all gross and probably has a spotted furry penis and logical Tuvok has to deal with him. I find the whole #nohomo vibe really juvenile and stupid. Of course, Tuvok isn't going to be pleased to be dealing with this extrovert, but come on, don't be such a prude. Anyway, Neelix is all business quickly enough directing Tuvok towards an encampment on the surface. Are Kim and Torres there? Eh, probably not, but it's a start, I guess.

    On the surface, a desolate world, the away team, Janeway, Chakotay, Paris, Tuvok and Neelix, arrive. Neelix explains that the encampment, around a mine, is controlled by a group called the Kazon Ogla. Janeway gets a little panicky, as apparently, Neelix lied about the situation. On the fly, he explains that the Kazon are a splintered species who each control certain resources in the area, and barter with each other. The crew is roughed up, disarmed and forced to their knees, but the Kazon leader, Jaden Smith, emerges to Neelix' shouted greeting. What has these Kazon so pissed off is that Neelix had stolen (“borrowed”) water from them at some point, but now he has the Voyager here to replace the valuable resource. Janeway seizes the thrust of the conversation with Jaden Smith. When asked about the Ocampa, he points out a young woman, Ocampa, who looks to have been brutalised. Indeed, the Kazon enslaved her when she wandered to the surface, a difficult task considering the Caretaker has blocked off access to the subterranean shopping mall.

    Neelix is eager to trade the Voyager's water for the girl, presumably so she can help them find a way to the underground, but Jaden Smith is more interested in the replicator technology itself. Before Janeway can explain about the Prime Directive and all that, Neelix has pulled a phaser—from somewhere—and holds Jaden Smith hostage for a moment, shoots the tanks of water, causing it to spray all over the ground and distracting the Kazon long enough to rescue the girl. When they arrive on the transporter pad, Neelix calls her “dearest.” Uh-huh.

    Meanwhile, Torres and Kim are suffering their odd illness when an Ocampa woman offers some contraband moss supplement to ease their symptoms. The “elders” apparently forbid the growing of plants as it violates the doctrine they've concocted about the Caretaker's wishes. The woman repeats the information we already have about the escape tunnels and the increased energy supply for the pair's benefit and agrees to help them find a way to reach the surface, as the young Ocampa woman did.

    Tuvok berates Neelix for his lying to them all and nearly getting them killed while the EMH treats the girl's injuries. She starts and begs the crew not to hold Neelix accountable. Seems like they have a healthy relationship. The EMH objects to them having an argument in the ship's hospital, but Janeway just deactivates his programme mid-sentence. The girl, who is named Kes, blames herself for getting captured in the first place. “Too curious.” Oh yeah. Super healthy. Well at any rate, Kes insists on repaying Janeway for rescuing her, over Neelix' objections.

    The crew find a breach in the security shield and beam themselves into the underground. Kes was part of the splinter commune who grow vegetables and don't spend all day looking at screensavers. When confronted by one of the Elders, Kes takes the opportunity to lay on some quick and dirty backstory. The Ocampa have telepathic abilities which have languished, along with their sense of self-actualisation and free-will, under the Caretaker's stewardship. The reveals are interesting, but the writing is clunky. It's as if the story just stops for a moment so we can have exposition. This is partially made up for by Jennifer Lien's performance (“I saw the sunlight!”), which is strong. Drawing comparisons to the Bajorans—who have likewise languished, in my opinion, under stewardship of the Prophets—the Elder makes several statements to Kes which are reminiscent of those made by Opaka in “Emissary,” like “follow the path.” It is refreshing to have Kes reject this attitude outright. She is a skeptic in a culture of believers.

    Act 7 : *.5, 10%

    Kim and Torres are making their way up a staircase. Wait...staircase? I thought they had to dig through rocks to get to the surface. Did the Caretaker build these rickety stairs for his children when they emigrated here? Why? Anyway, the pair do a little bonding. Kim laments that his career is going to end on the same mission it began, with him dead on a lonely far-away planet. Torres does her best to cheer him up, having attended Starfleet Academy for a couple of years before dropping out, by poking fun at one of their old professors.

    In the Ocampa mall (seriously, Janeway and co. are seen riding up a god-damned escalator), the energy pulses speed way up and then terminate. The crew are going to have to follow Kim and Torres into the tunnels, so she sends Paris, Kes and Neelix to do so. Meanwhile, Tuvok formulates an hypothesis about the Caretaker:

    TUVOK: First, he increases the energy supply to provide the city with a surplus to last at least five years. Then he seals the conduits. The logical conclusion is that he does not intend to continue his role as Caretaker.
    CHAKOTAY: That doesn't necessarily mean he's dying. He could be leaving.
    TUVOK: Doubtful. Not after a millennium of providing for these people. I believe that the Caretaker owes something to the Ocampa. I believe the debt that can never repaid is very likely a debt to them. In addition, there were his frequent references to running out of time. I think he knew his death was imminent.
    JANEWAY: If he dies, how the hell are we supposed to get home?

    Anyway, in the most contrived bit of this story, the Caretaker's task of sealing off the energy conduits has created interference with the transporters, meaning now everybody will have to use the tunnels to escape. This creates “drama” with the collapsing stairs and the race to reach the surface, but none of it is necessary. Kim and Torres could have bonded in the mall, or with the vegetable commune, and been rescued, collectively by the away team. We could have spent that team fleshing the Ocampa culture out further instead of the tedious action bits which follow. As Jammer mentioned, the lacklustre score doesn't help. Eventually, Chakotay and Tuvok are injured, and Paris has the chance to make amends for his backstory. He rescues Chakotay while they verbally spar. This includes some really racist bits about Indian customs and whatnot. Not a fan.

    Act 8 : ***.5, 10%

    Well, it turns out the Kazon have space ships which have followed the Voyager and Val-Jean back to the array. Jaden Smith tells Janeway he “cannot permit” her to board the array, meaning there will be pyrotechnics. They begin a phaser fight with the Kazon and self-proclaimed ace-pilot Paris is assigned to the helm before Janeway and Tuvok beam to the array to look for a way home.

    Banjo-man is indeed on death's doorstep. He confesses to Janeway that he and his companion Sporocysts accidentally created the water-crisis in this system. Like so many Trek aliens before them, they were well-meaning explorers. He and his mate were chosen to stay behind and look after the Ocampa in recompense for this mistake. His mate decided to buzz off and left him with the kids (thank you, writers, for at least not falling back on the absent father trope). He's been abducting aliens in an attempt to create an offspring to take over for him. Janeway posits, having witnessed the growing movement to reject the Caretaker's dogma among the vegetable clan, that the Ocampa might actually flourish once they have to fend for themselves.

    Meanwhile, the Kazon have received back-up from an enormous tanker vessel. Maybe these assholes could have spent some time learning how to synthesise water instead of building gigantic warships. Chakotay sends his people over to the Voyager and decides to Kamikaze the Val-Jean, Jem-Hadar-style, into the tanker which collides with the array.

    The Caretaker has activated a self-destruct in order to keep his technology out of Kazon hands. At least he learned that much from his experience. The Banjo-man's true CGI form is revealed. With his dying breath he begs Janeway to destroy the array before disintegrating into rock candy.

    Alright, here we are the infamous decision. First, let's debunk some of the side theories and whittle down the issue. No, using a fuse is not an option. Tuvok clearly says that it will take hours to activate the programme to return them to the Alpha Quadrant. The Kazon have called for backup and the Voyager is out of ships to Kamikaze at them. The only choices are a. destroy the array, or b. allow the Kazon to gain control of it in the hopes of negotiating or forcing their way back at some point and using the tech to send them home. So, the nit-picky questions about leaving one person behind to blow it up or using the array's weapons, etc. are moot. What this is really about is a new captain trying to make an ethical decision. Remember that the array would have blown itself up if the Voyager hadn't gotten into a fight with the Kazon. Janeway's and Chakotay's choices have led them to become involved in the internal affairs of the Caretaker. In that scene in the ready room with Tuvok, Janeway laments the fact that she hasn't gotten close to the crew, and she vows to re-unite them with their families. And now she has the opportunity to make good on that promise. All she has to do is sacrifice the Ocampa. So does she make the right decision, here? From a Starfleet perspective, I think she does. While the letter of the Prime Directive, as Tuvok points out, would prohibit her from blowing up the array, its spirit demands that she rectify the consequences of her own involvement and replace her divot. From a character perspective, I like this, too. Janeway has been emotionally volatile ever since they were pulled to the DQ, mouthing off to the Caretaker, pulling guns, panicking on the planet, etc. When up against it, though, she resists the urge succumb to the emotions which are pulling her towards the decision that would most please her crew (vividly portrayed by Mulgrew). Instead, she womans up and makes an enlightened choice.

    But we soon see that this decision is not going to endear her to the crew, much less the Maquis who are stuck with her, or indeed the Kazon who, upon witnessing the destruction of the array, inform her that she has made an enemy.

    Epilogue : ***, 5%

    Janeway gives Paris and the Maquis field commissions, as well as informing him that XO Chakotay is going to honour that racist life-debt thing from before. Okay, then. Neelix and Kes decide they're going to stay onboard. From their perspective, this makes sense: Kes is obviously a natural explorer and the two of them don't exactly have somewhere else to go. Neelix promises to be an invaluable resource to Janeway, who seems to have forgotten that he fucking lied to her, but whatever, I guess they need a cook.

    Janeway gives the new crew, consisting of Maquis, Starfleet and the new DQ aliens, a speech outlining their mission. They're going to make their home, but along the way, she will see to it they behave in the best tradition of Starfleet; they will seek out new worlds and civilisations, not only to aid them in their journey, but also because that's just who they ought to be.

    Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

    The pilot takes a lot of structural cues from “Emissary,” but streamlines the ideas and executes at a much higher level. We have the incomprehensible alien with familiar surroundings (Prophets/Caretaker), the joining of disparate crews (Bajoran-Starfleet/Maquis-Starfleet), the alien non-humanoid grumpy observer character (Odo/EMH), the perfunctory conflict with aliens (Cardassians/Kazon), the connection to a remote part of the galaxy (GQ/DQ), the green but gifted newbie (Bashir/Kim), the untrustworthy outsider (Quark/Neelix), the angry dissident (Kira/Torres), etc. Other elements are reversed; instead of a crappy space station that occupies an suddenly-important outpost, we have a very sleek starship that is thrust to the backwoods of the galaxy; instead of a commander who abides the colours and decorum of Starfleet but turns his back on its principles, we have a captain who can't be bothered with protocol but feels obligated to those principles even if it means stranding her entire crew; instead of advanced aliens who unselfconsciously and carelessly promote religious dogmatism among those they claim to protect, we have an advanced alien who laments his inability to properly parent the species he has adopted.

    “Caretaker” doesn't have the same philosophical ambition as “Emissary” or “Encounter at Farpoint,” but chooses instead for a straightforward story that provides a canvas for the characters. And in this respect it succeeds magnificently. And while it lacks the ambition to get super deep into the meaning of existence—in the pilot—this also means, unlike “Emissary,” that it doesn't fall on its face in the attempt.

    The biggest missteps are DQ species, who barely receive any characterisation (DS9 definitely had an advantage with the Ferengi, Cardassians and Bajorans being previously established). Thus, there's a lot of rushed backstory for the Kazon, Kes and Neelix that feels more like reading the series bible than natural dialogue. I think cutting out that whole escape sequence from the Mall of America would have given the episode a little more breathing room as well as making the battle sequence at the end feel more special, being the only real action element outside the teaser.

    The themes are a bit shallow and rushed, the music pretty awful, and the action excessive. BUT, I am elated with the cast. The weakest player is probably Garret Wang, who isn't bad by any means, but stands out as the weakest simply because he isn't given anything particularly riveting to do. Everyone else gets at least one moment to shine, and the crew feels so much more alive than either TNG's or DS9's did for about a season apiece. We will get to the Maquis/Starfleet stuff eventually. Regardless of how you feel about it, that conflict had little bearing on this story other than providing the initial premise.

    Final Score : **.5


    "Remember that the array would have blown itself up if the Voyager hadn't gotten into a fight with the Kazon. Janeway's and Chakotay's choices have led them to become involved in the internal affairs of the Caretaker. "

    I had not remembered that, and this point is maybe the crux of what makes Janeway's decision make sense. I wonder whether it was my inattention as a viewer or a flaw in the episode itself that this isn't clear. When Janeway said "We already are involved," or similar, I reacted the way Jammer and many others seem to -- to not really understand in what way they are involved, and to assume that Janeway was referring to the fact that they had already been abducted. That Janeway's choices had already interfered in the outcome and that she was rectifying her own interference, rather than blithely interfering totally anew, changes how this plays out, and I am pretty tempted to conclude that the episode fails to show this aspect of things clearly enough for what is -- really -- a hugely important moment. However, I'm certainly willing to believe that it was myself being unable to meet the episode partway.

    I'm going to appreciate you going through Voyager. I guess I'll already say that I think that your ratings seem kinder than I would be on, e.g., things like the Rural scenes. I gather that your *** for Act 4 was because of the Tuvok and Janeway/Tuvok scenes you praised, but I'm a little surprised even still that the hootenany pointlessness didn't drag it down much further. And while I get your point that the Starfleet/Maquis conflict was not that big a deal for the series, I find the *** for the epilogue's brazenly setting up the "Maquis will be Starfleet" also a bit on the generous side, if only for how huge a buy it is that this group of people will apparently instantly fall in line, especially when your basic take is that the whole of the Maquis is wholly irrational. However in general I see where you are going with this ep and your final rating is not that far from what mine was when I rewatched it a little over a year ago.

    @William B

    "I had not remembered that, and this point is maybe the crux of what makes Janeway's decision make sense."

    Yeah--I don't get why this tends to happen. The battle very clearly shows the progression of events:

    1. The Caretaker tells Janeway the auto-destruct is online
    2. Chakotay kamikazes the tanker
    3. The tanker crashes into the Array (very much like the super star destroyer crashing into the Death Star in RoTJ)
    4. The Caretaker says the auto-destruct is offline, and asks for Janeway's help

    It's clearly their fault that the Caretaker's original plan doesn't work out, so it makes sense that Janeway would see it as her responsibility to fix it.

    As far as the ratings, the difference between the rural scenes here (yes, they are painful) and the orb scenes in "Emissary" are 1. the length. "Emissary"'s scenes seem interminable by comparison, and 2. the reaction of the characters. The Voyager crew responds with incredulity and minor irritation at the absurdity while Dax and Sisko tried and failed to convince us that the tedium we were watching was the most amazing thing one could imagine. If I were to break down Act 4, the inciting rural scene is probably 2 stars, the bridge scene is 2.5 stars, the 2nd array scene is 3 stars, and the ready room scene is 4 stars. So that averages out to about 3, maybe a low 3.

    It never occurred to me when I originally watched Voyager that the Maquis wouldn't be put in Starfleet uniforms. Like, what is the point of maintaining an allegiance to a cause that is totally irrelevant in their current circumstance? I expect there to be some personality issues down the line, but that's about it.

    Yeah, I don't know what else to add. I checked over the other commentors and my score is on the low side, as most give it 3 to 3.5. Then again, I gave "Emissary" 2 stars.

    Yeah, don't get me wrong, I am unusually hard on Caretaker, and the only way your *general* take differs from mine is the comparison with Emissary (which I give 2.5-3 to).

    "It never occurred to me when I originally watched Voyager that the Maquis wouldn't be put in Starfleet uniforms. Like, what is the point of maintaining an allegiance to a cause that is totally irrelevant in their current circumstance? I expect there to be some personality issues down the line, but that's about it."

    Sure, but they still didn't sign up to be on the ship. They are either criminals or foreign nationals or civilians, not Starfleet, and Chakotay blew up their ship to help Janeway's. It is a big decision whether to make them Starfleet or a sort of mixed Starfleet/civilian organization. The civilians/criminals basically get both drafted and pardoned in exchange for passage. Maybe it would be impossible pragmatically to run a starship a different way, but I don't think it's so obvious that there's nothing to talk about.

    Elliott said:

    "He takes the opportunity, having only recently been let out of jail, to hit her, complete with embarrassing 24th century techno-metaphors."

    Rarely has a dropped word had such a profound change in meaning...

    Here's astronaut and scientist Samantha Cristoforetti paying homage to Captain Janeway on board the International Space Station:

    I watched 20 or 30 episodes during its run, but am going through the whole series. I did not think it was too bad of an opening, off to a decent start, we shall see if the rest of the series is as bad as everyone is saying...

    I'd give star trek voyager a 4 star review; if it wasn't for the fact that every time I bring up the fact the Newton's "What goes up, must come down" Law of Nature was never a applicable law of physics, and ask some lefty, "Really MoFo', it was never a law; if so, when in the hell is the Voyager 1 probe going to fall back down?!" and they answer, "25 years at maximum warp." ....other than that, I give it full stars

    Ah, the last great Star Trek. Hopefully, though, Star Trek Picard is good enough to change that though.

    Voyager is actually better if you pretend it was made right now.

    I watched it first run, after watching TNG and DS9, and found it a cheap copy of TNG. Which it basically was.

    But rewatching it now with some distance from TNG, esp episodes like Future's End, it's really kind of cool.

    Still weak with way too much technobabble and many flaws, but it does have its charms if looked at as if it were made now.

    Going back over "Voyager" start to finish for the first time since the series aired.

    "Caretaker" was a good start, and the series had a good premise.

    "Voyager" was RIPE for seasonal arcs as it made its way back to the Federation, but I read that the behind the scenes people didn't want them to do that. It's too bad. It would have been perfect for that kind of storytelling.

    I think one of the biggest things hurting the show early on -- the Kazon. They're Klingon Lite. The Videeans, on the other hand, had a fascinating story and I think would have made great Season 1 villains. They should have utilized them more.

    But I think "Caretaker" stands up well decades later and was certainly a better pilot that "Farpoint" and even with "Emissary."

    Happy anniversary to Voyager, which started 25 years ago today on Monday, January 16, 1995.

    Just finished DS9 so I figured Id finnally give Voyager a try

    Wow this is all over the map! Kind of a mess. Really strong premise and ideas for a series though.

    Its crazy to me they basically slapped in a full TOS premise, along with introducing all of these characters, and raced over the Bajorian vs Cardasian plot to boot. They seemingly had no interest in winning over new viewers at the start...

    I kinda think this show would have benefited from some newer sets and uniforms too. Its frankly odd to see such a TNG styled show with a slightly more cinematic bend and more violent tendencies. DS9 had a really interesting, really new setting that really helped it stand out. I liked the Klingons 80s action girl dress, but sadly shes just in a poorly fitting uniform by the next episode.

    Characters seem to be... a little questionable tbh. Holographic doctor and Neelix are both fun and interesting immediately. Tuvac just seems exactly like Spock. Tom Paris is.... a questionable actor so far..... not buying this guy as a badass at all. Captain Janeway seems... fine. The Actress is solid and I buy her as a leader. But... really generic so far. The other actors seem similarly under par so far for a star trek show. DS9 had a really solid cast and TNG took a while to warm up, but the acting had a confidence that seems to be missing in this ep.

    I know this show takes a while to work out the kinks and frankly its still in the spirit of Trek overall so Ill most likely watch the whole dang thing.

    Also.. I mean Janeway seems fine so far. But Weve seen both Kirk and Picard in similar situations as the ship in this ep, and they always manage to get their crew home in one ep, not 7 seasons. I wish they had a simpler and more challanging setup for how Voyager ended up so far away. I just think it sets up the captain as kind of a failure right away. Which could be interesting though, if they run with that premise.

    Alright those are my Oh So Important thoughts about this 25 yr old show.

    In a lot of ways, Voyager had a lot of promise. After the relatively static setting of DS9 (give or take the fact that the bridge crew had a tendency to bounce around the quadrant), Voyager's setup had potential. Let's throw a technologically advanced ship into a brand new territory, where they can explore entirely new civilisations and species. Then, let's crew the ship with a mix of Star Fleet and Marquis terrorists, so there's plenty of potential for interpersonnal drama. And for an added bonus, let's throw in some new character types - a holographic doctor, a half-klingon and some brand-new species plucked straight from the Delta quadrant.

    Sadly, things didn't go quite as planned, and a lot of the seeds were set in this first episode. Where to begin?

    There's the overly cliched illusion thrown together by the Caretaker; the ambiguous mumbling he utters while playing his country-bumpkin role is just the icing on the cake.

    Did we reallly need an All American Gothic-twee setup in the very first episode? It's not exactly a new vista to explore!

    Then, there's the entire Caretaker concept. A non-carbon, multi-dimensional lifeform, with significantly advanced technology. Which oddly doesn't include any terraforming capabilities - despite having several thousand years in which to do things - nor the ability to maintain a communications link with his so-called partner, who's roaming around in relatively close proximity. But he can reel in random spaceships from over 75,000 light-years away, and is then more than happy to perform experiments on the many carbon-based lifeforms he finds, in the hope of somehow finding one that's compatible with his multi-dimensional biology.

    (Which was always improbable, given that he's meant to have come from another galaxy which presumably wasn't seeded by the Ancient Humanoids, so will have little or no genetic compatibility)

    There's also an odd contradiction in his morals; he's sworn to protect the Ocampa, but is more than willing to effectively torture to death all of the innocent beings he kidnaps, and is conspicuously hands-off when it comes to the nomadic aliens who are roaming around the solar system and doing their best to find and enslave the Ocampa. And he makes no effort to find an alternative solution for the Ocampa (e.g. moving them to another planet) despite knowing that his current solution is a short-term one at best.

    In short, his characterisation is a mess.

    And then there's the rest of our newfound aliens. Such as the nomadic aliens, also known as the Kazon. "No Frills" Klingons complete with tatty Mad Max rags and an equal obsession with primitive cultural ritual. A primitive, low-tech species that (mild spoiler) the Borg considered them to unworthy of assimilation.

    They're just dull. And yet, not only do they repeatedly reappear throughout the first few seasons, but they're somehow also able to go head-to-head in a battle with Voyager. It's like watching a street gang armed with zip guns trying to take on a tactical SWAT team armed with combat shotguns and assault rifles.

    Then there's the Ocampa, with their nine year lifespan, generic Californian ethos and hinted telepathic powers. They're just so... banal.

    And Neelix. Ah, Neelix. The "breakout" character dreamed up for Voyager, in much the same way as the Ferengi were meant to be a major new species for TNG. Sadly, the Ferengi were relegated to little more than a capitalist cliche in TNG and turned into a running joke within DS9.

    Sadly, there's a lot of parallels between Neelix and the Ferengi. They're physically small species who spend their time bartering and scavenging, and who show little in the way of physical or moral courage.

    In brief, they're not really suited for any primary role. Instead, they're little more than court jesters, who can do little other than to caper around for comic effect. And there's no way a character built on those principles could be a "breakout".

    But perhaps the worst point about this episode is that it marks a new low in Star Trek's script writing.

    Because we're meant to buy into the idea that water is a scarce resource across a significant chunk of the Delta quadrant.

    Water. Two parts Hydrogen, one part Oxygen.

    Hydrogen is literally the most common element in the universe. Oxygen is the third most common. And there's quite literally huge chunks of the stuff flying around interstellar space in the shape of comets - Halley's Comet weighs around a billion tonnes, of which around 70% is water!

    And those raggedy Kazon squabbling over the water dropped off by Voyager? They're part of a vast interstellar civilisation. One that's perfectly able to collect water from comets or similar.

    (In fact, why didn't the Caretaker do similar? He could have replaced all the lost water on the planet, seeded it with some suitable flora and fauna and then leave things to mature while bombarding the atmosphere with techno-babble particles and leaving the Ocampa sheltered in their underground city. It wouldn't take more than a millennia or two to get something approximating to a working bio-sphere back up and running...)

    It's junk-science, and the writer's willingness to sacrifice scientific plausibility became a running theme, alongside a constant reliance on technological failures (Harry's constant teleporter issues being a key example) and inconsistent rules - the Kazon are far from the only species who are technologically inferior to the Federation, but who are somehow able to fight against them on more than equal terms.

    It's a shame, as there was a decent amount of possibility in Voyager's setup. But much of this possibility never really came to fruition.

    Oh holy crap y'all--I just discovered that Garrett Wang and Robert Duncan McNeill are doing a podcast called "The Delta Flyers" --started in May--where they are going through each episode of Voyager. ACH! I'm dying!

    Here's the link. I hope they are enjoyable!

    I am halfway through the first episode and I am cracking up. They are funny and have great chemistry. And now I have to re-watch to see the fake sideburns, and look at Harry's feet--he inherited Brent Spiner's old shoes, lol

    But what is especially funny, or sad, is when Robbie (Robert Duncan McNeill ) comments that he had forgotten that Chakotay hated Tom in the first episode and he says, "There was a lot of tension between the Star Fleet and Maquis at the beginning--it's a shame they didn't develop that."

    We fans feel you, Robbie.

    I'm doing a rewatch because, even though I'm a fairly big Star Trek fan (and long-time reader of Jammer's site), there are large swathes of Voyager I still haven't seen. I only got access to UPN about halfway through its run (Seven of Nine was already on the show and pretty established) and for whatever reason going back and being a completionist about it was never a priority. I've got some Latter Days of COVID time now, and I'm finally getting around to it. So! Caretaker!

    This episode was really strong. I also didn't like it as much as I liked Emissary, but at this point Emissary is working off love for DS9 and those characters and that series that built up over time. On balance it's probably a B+/A- episode, and this is also in that range. We've come a long way from the dregs of stuff like "Encounter at Farpoint" from the TNG era as an introduction to the characters. This sets up the premise and a lot of the central players pretty darn well, though a few get short-changed in such a large cast. Including Chakotay, which seems like the worst lapse of the episode, since he was basically handed the post of first officer with only a cursory explanation of why his backstory justified it. That feels like a potentially really interesting character beat between him and Janeway that just wasn't played at all (though I also loved his kamikaze run of his ship at the end).

    I guess I was OK with Janeway's decision? The setup for Voyager being lost in the Delta Quadrant felt thin, like they were just connecting the dots to get the premise established instead of digging into a meaty dilemma, though some of that's the newness of the characters. Someone you just met 50 minutes ago isn't going to be able to exploit the same moral depth/investment in their compromises that Picard and Sisko did in the hearts of TNG and DS9. It worked OK for what they needed to do, and Kate Mulgrew is incredibly strong and engaging as a screen presence, so she sold what the writing didn't well enough.

    If I'd been watching week to week I'd have been eager to come back and get to know these characters and explore what feels like a fresh tapestry in the Star Trek setting. I know all that promise didn't pan out, but trying to come into this fresh, it was a solid start.

    Not a rewatch for me, but basically a first viewing, although I had seen one episode when it first ran. My attitude in '95 was that I would just have to miss it. Finally back to it and I must say that Caretaker was a pretty strong opener.

    Of course it was full of established Trek elements, which seemed cobbled together from TOS episodes like Spock's Brain, For the World is Hollow and I have Touched the Sky, and TNG's Justice, the one with the Edo who went around half naked, wanted to execute Wesley, and had that weird space station thing with the really deep voice, which thought of itself as a god.

    The Kazon are a real problem. They live at a primitive level with a water source consisting of maybe just a rusty canteen full of spit, but somehow they manage to appear with a vessel the size of a Romulan Warbird, to match a Starship toe-to-toe. Can't happen, not even in DS9's alternate universe.

    Nevertheless, I enjoyed the show, Janeway and Tuvok especially, and will boldly go where many have said not to go! 3 Stars considering that it's an opener.

    @Sarjenka's Brother

    They actually DID attempt season spanning arcs early on--- unfortunately about the Kazon who were the worst failed villains since the Ferengi in TNG. TNG fortunately realized very quickly that the Ferengi didn't work as Starfleet level villains.

    It took Voyager's production a couple seasons to figure out the obvious, that the Kazon were low rent Klingon knock offs that weren't a credible threat. Plus, they tried to build up one Kazon leader as a Gul Dukat level villain, and all this while the ship should have quickly left them in the dust.

    Unfortunately, once they jettisoned the Kazon, they mostly jettisoned long arcs as well. Unfortunately, considering there could easily have been ongoing stories of the crew. They only barely did this, with the only significant arcs for the Doctor, and a little bit for 7.

    Anyway, did you guys know why Chakotay was a weird cliche of Hollywood stereotypes? The "Cherokee" consultant named "Jamake Highwater" the production hired was a faaaaake.

    Janeway should have attempted to use the array to get home but due to some technobabble the co-ordinates were wrong and they got sent to another galaxy. She could have set a time bomb to destroy the array to prevent the Kazon getting it's technology.

    Does any body here have ideas for Trek set in a different galaxy?

    @EventualZen, there is at least one Trek set in a different galaxy - Galaxy M33,

    Since there were no Mirror Universe TNG episodes (let's assume Yesterday's Enterprise is not), I suppose we could have a Mirror Universe TNG show set in M33!

    OT: Many years ago I read a short story that depicted an alternate timeline in which the Voyager crew decided to (or was forced to by circumstances) stay in the Delta Quadrant, where they settled on an inhabited planet (possibly one we'd seen in the series) and integrated themselves into its society. It might have been the "Workforce" planet. The story might have been in one of those "Strange New Worlds" anthologies. I think Janeway and Chakotay started a relationship and Janeway might have been pregnant. Does anyone here know the name of this story and where it can be found? Thanks very much.

    Are the Kazon on the planet really the same as those in the ships?

    As a Trek pilot/first episode (not a true pilot because the first season was green lit from the get-go) it's not at all bad. It efficiently sets up the series and characters and the story works well enough.

    Kind of boring though. The country folk seeing the Caretaker created for the crew makes sense in story but is certainly not inspired. Janeway practically lampshades this when she immediately points out it's faaake.

    Seems like they overly watered down Tom Paris's character. With all the Starfleet officers giving him such a cold shoulder, you expect something really juicy.

    His own pilot error led to the death of three officers and he lied about it. He later, on his own volition, admitted this and was booted out. If he were booted because of his piloting error, that would be one thing, but it's pretty well stated that he was booted because of lying.

    That really doesn't make much sense. The purpose of the "no lying" rule is because Starfleet wants the truth, it's not meant as a technicality. Tom did tell the truth even if it took him a few weeks.

    Basically Starfleet is saying "if you ever lie, don't admit it."

    Anyway, he then joined the Maquis for three weeks before being busted. I just can't see the cartoonish reactions these officers have toward him.

    Additionally, as a rogue character, this is pretty weak stuff. They wanted a "redemption" arc, but he was pretty much already redeemed. It would have been better if he had not recanted and was discovered to have lied.

    That would have been Nick Locarno's character but they went against that. I don't see why. Having a character you can't fully trust would be a lot more compelling.

    It is comical they didn't spend any time at all moping about all the crew deaths. It's the ship's maiden voyage so it's not like they were all best buds, but it should have at least been mentioned in Janeway's closing speech.

    When I come back to this episode, I had to think about things all over again.

    The Prime Directive's objective is to leave species the way we found them, as if they never encountered us. In other words, non-interference. If Voyager hadn't arrived, the Caretaker would've died and self-destructed his array. However, because Voyager was there and started a conflict with the Kazon, the Kazon ship was damaged and collided with the array, damaging its self-destruct mechanism. Voyager is responsible for that. So that kind of makes Janeway responsible for Caretaker technology falling into Kazon hands if Voyager doesn't destroy the array. That said, this conflict took place between a bunch of sentient, warp-capable species. Even if Voyager played a role, that role was accidental, and therefore not exactly Starfleet's problem to clean it up.

    A middle ground solution would've been to seize the array, use its technology to take Voyager home, but plant some explosive devices (like tricobalt devices) before their departure to make sure the array is destroyed. Of course, they would've had to fight off the Kazon while they spent hours figuring out the array's technology, so it's hard to know if that would've been doable. Plus, we wouldn't have been gifted with the premise of the show! All I'm saying is that the reasoning could've been better written.

    A confusing part of the situation is that Tuvok offers to study the Caretaker's technology to send Voyager home, acting as if he's got it in the bag. But the Caretaker says twice that he no longer has the energy/resources to do so. So is the technology independent of the Caretaker entity, or not? It seems like it's not, since he has to self-destruct the array to avoid the Kazon seizing it. Yet, the Caretaker can't send Voyager home while he's alive because.....? The reasoning is contradictory. If it's the Caretaker himself who moves the ships, then the ability dies with him. If it's not, then the array is still useful after he dies, in which case what was his purpose?

    The Kazon as an enemy don't make sense. They are a warp level civilization that can go toe to toe with Voyager, but can't produce water. How difficult is it to merge hydrogen with oxygen to produce liquid water? We've been able to do this on Earth since the 1800s. Furthermore, it is explained that the Occampan homeworld has a settlement because of "cormaline deposits". Ok... but that still doesn't explain why the Kazon can't just warp travel to another planet that has water. If you have a warp core, you have enough energy to easily produce basic elements.

    Janeway doesn't grieve her lost crewmen whatsoever. Her first officer, in particular, would've been handpicked by her. Yet we don't hear another word about him after his death. Same with her helm officer, who was a lieutenant. Same with her chief medical officer. They are never mentioned again for the entire series.

    Why does Paris go from being an ex-con on special duty/dispensation to getting a promotion to full lieutenant for a "job well done"? Why not an ensign? Why ANY rank?

    Why are the Maquis automatically integrated, going from Maquis in one scene to wearing Starfleet uniforms the next? Why is there is not even one episode that introduces the transition? There was a lot of potential plot material to mine from that. Yet the transition was instantaneous, literally within less than 5 minutes of screen time. It would have been neat to see a whole episode of mixed uniforms and transitional problems. Maybe not all Maquis were on board with it, even if Chakotay was their leader.

    When Janeway orders the array destroyed, B'Elanna is the only one to openly object. She asks why Janeway should be allowed to make that decision for everyone -- a fair question. Chakotay responds, "Because she's the Captain." This seems awfully compliant for the leader of a renegade group.

    Overall I like "Caretaker" a lot. It introduces the series effectively. Unfortunately, it did not age well, and the reasoning for Voyager getting permanently stranded plus the unbelievably instantaneous crew integration makes the execution kind of milquetoast. I give it 2.5 / 4 stars.

    @ Robert,

    Regarding interfering, I'd say the Caretaker was the party responsible for any cultural interference going on. Voyager was a victim of that as much as anyone else. Bring a bunch of alien ships all together, and guess what, some of them will become hostile, toward you and toward each other. That's really on you. Now if Voyager was nonetheless going to practice non-interference I think they would have tried to just get home and that's it. Janeway's justification seems like less of a reasoning process and more of a simple plot write-off since everyone in the audience already knows they don't get home. The show was sort of marketed that way. She may as well have just said "who are we kidding this is Lost in Delta, we're not going home". And I would say the same writer's room thought process went into the manner in which they don't go home - screwing over the Kazon. The writers already knew the Kazon were going to be Bad Guys, and the good guys have to stick it to the bad guys. I think the real reason to destroy the array was simply because we are supposed to not like the Kazon. Well they achieved that goal, you can check that off your to-do list. As far as the illogical water scarcity (a plot hole so bad it makes it hard to watch the pilot again) maybe they were going for a sort of Mad Max scenario, tech but lacking the gasoline. Biker gangs. Except for one thing: the Kazon are just not cool. So the water issue really takes a back seat to the fact that we just want them to...go away.

    Peter, I'm just seeing your reply now. You make good points. The Caretaker is to blame for all of this, including bringing species together that are hostile to one another, as well as what happened to the atmosphere of the Occampan homeworld.

    The water scarcity problem... so dumb. We see in future episodes that the Kazon can keep up with Voyager even when it's at warp 9. The Kazon have the ability to find water on other planets, even if they don't have replicators. The hostilities in this episode are marketed as a localized problem (i.e. in that system alone) and all these Mad-Max type characters are living in a scarce ecosystem. Even Neelix is scrounging for supplies in a space junkyard type place. Yet we later learn that he has traveled very far, to the edge of known space and back. So why doesn't he have water either?

    It would've made much more sense if the Kazon and Neelix only had sub-warp ships, isolated to that region of space. However, then they'd be no match for Voyager and there'd be no plot setup to make the Kazon the season's enemy.

    The contradictory nature of this show's writing was glaring in episode 1 & 2 and continued to be a problem for the entire series. I agree with an earlier poster, they should've made Ronald Moore the lead writer and director. The show would've done much better. There were so many missed opportunities.

    One thing that the first episodes got correct was complexity of relationships between Voyager and other species. You have the Kazon as the antagonists, the Occampans as neutral except for Kes who challenges them, and Neelix who is friendly. You have the Caretaker who is superior yet ultimately a sympathetic character. It's too bad the show runners setup such a complex species environment in the very beginning only to basically abandon it later by making the majority of encountered species instantly hostile to Voyager -- or if not hostile, just very basic.

    I thought the whole thing would have made more sense if Janeway had been the first officer, promoted after the Captain is killed. I mean, if it just absolutely had to be "muh strong wamen" then have the captain thats killed be female and Janeway's friend as well, having served together for a number of years.

    The point being some of Janeway's missteps and warts could be attributed to her coming of age as a Captain. Missed opportunity if you ask me.

    I just rewatched this with my wife and daughter (the latter probably not having seen it, as I started the curated series rewatch with her older sister before she was old enough), and was surprised to find it was a lot better than I had remembered.

    So maximum warp is about a thousand times the speed of light. Seems slower than I would have expected.

    "The combining of the Starfleet and Maquis crews promises to show friction in future episodes."

    Narrator: It did not.

    I thought the Prime Directive only applied to dealings with pre-warp species? I assume the Kazon have warp capability, right?

    I agree that they should have spent more time on Chakotay being made first officer. But it's pretty clear to me what the reasoning was: (1) Her previous "number one" died, so the position was open. (2) It's questionable whether the Maquis crewmembers (including the very-much-needed chief engineer, filling another open position) would follow her if their erstwhile captain were not also a very high-ranking member of the leadership.

    I did clock that they had already interfered with the self-destruct mechanism, so "we're already involved" made perfect sense to me. Not trying to be insulting, but I'm puzzled by why so many people (including Jammer) missed this.

    Hi everyone, this is completely irrelevant, but if you freeze frame on the shuttle bringing Paris to Voyager around the 9 minute mark, you'll see it's labeled 1701-D. LOL! Gotta save that budget.

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