Star Trek: Voyager

"Learning Curve"

2.5 stars

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

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous episode: Jetrel
Next episode: The 37's

◄ Season Index

90 comments on this review

Rob in Michigan
Sun, Sep 21, 2008, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
Alas, despite my liking of the series and its characters, it has some truly reprehensible flaws: no regularly recurring tertiary characters (despite the limited number of crewman on board), the destroyed shuttle count (frustrating and just plain lazily stupid) and the lack of real consequences of being short on supplies that cannot be replicated/replenished easily... especially as Voyager becomes more and more damaged... again, lazily stupid.
Remco
Sun, Nov 30, 2008, 9:29pm (UTC -6)
I don't really care about the cheese of the cheese. I like the fact that Voyager is essentially biologically alive. It can get sick. It makes sense to use biological neural parts in a ship, since it is very efficient. It's really hard to make traditional hardware that is as powerful. But I guess they need high-tech facilities to replenish those gel packs. Voyager was definitely not meant for lifetime trips.

But apart from this, the episode is an underwhelming season finale. There is no sense of development beyond the ship, whereas DS9 seems to be slipping into inter-stellar war at the same time.
Will
Mon, Nov 9, 2009, 2:01pm (UTC -6)
Don't get me wrong, I like Voyager an awful lot, in fact, I love it. It has some of the most entertaining stories and premises in all of Trek. But I do have problems with it and one of those problems is no fault of the series, but merely of Brannon Braga.

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

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

Braga never wrote for DS9. He obviously didn't have the creative talent or writing skills required. Either that or he just plain hated the show becaue it wasn't on a space station, or his delusions that Voyager was better written got in the way. That's what annoys me about him and Voyager.
Eduardo
Tue, Jan 5, 2010, 4:39pm (UTC -6)
Will,

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

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

Since then, Braga has delivered some solid work on 24, this past season. Season 8 also looks promising.
Nic
Thu, Mar 4, 2010, 11:42am (UTC -6)
Interesting comments, though in the end does it really matter whose "fault" it is that any given episode (or series) didn't work? It's all a matter of taste in the first place, and I am convinced that every Star Trek writer (including Braga) has tried to make the best show they possibly could. Some were better than others at it, yes. But what really should matter to viewers is the end product.

That being said, my one defense for this episode was that it was NOT supposed to be the season finale. It was supposed to be episode 16 of a 20-episode season and was written and produced as such. Add "Projections", "Elogium", "Twisted" and "The 37s" to the season (in that order) and you get a much better big picture (in my opinion) with a theme string running through the whole season, and a final resolution made by the crew to perservere in their journey for as long as it takes. As Jammer said, the Delta Quadrant hadn't got much development yet at this point (just as the Gamma Quadrant hadn't got much development on DS9 at the end of its first season), but all in all I sincerely believe that Voyager had the best FIRST season of all the Trek series.
Rob in Michigan
Fri, Mar 5, 2010, 1:50am (UTC -6)
I would absolutely agree with "but all in all I sincerely believe that Voyager had the best FIRST season of all the Trek series".
Ken
Wed, Feb 2, 2011, 9:49pm (UTC -6)
I think the season overall was "okay", but the overall season was aimless.

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

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

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

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

I thought it was a fun episode and fun way to end the season.
Carbetarian
Sat, Apr 9, 2011, 9:43pm (UTC -6)
@Will I cosign everything you wrote! That is exactly how I feel about Braga myself. I don't think he is everything that's wrong with Star Trek, or that he has never written good material. I just think he's arrogant, smug and totally out of touch with the show's audience. Just browsing through some of the background information on Voyager's first season on Memory Alpha is enough to make me completely agree with you.

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

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

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

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

Still, this episode was generally pretty fun. I'd say this was a two or two and half star outing for me too.
Dan
Mon, May 23, 2011, 12:18pm (UTC -6)
I actually thought that this episode was very related to the Delta Quadrant premise of the show. It explores the idea of cabin fever among Maquis and Federation working together. They are forced into this relationship because they are stuck all the way out here in the Delta. Chakotay is used well in this respect and I especially enjoyed watching him whip the insubordinates into line. I do agree that they could have done a better job with Tuvok's role. His 'punishments' were overkill after Chakotay's intervention, and a missed opportunity for some interesting morality dilemmas: What to do with an insubordinate crew when you cannot simply throw them in the brig and still, they won't cooperate?
Laroquod
Sun, Jun 10, 2012, 2:15pm (UTC -6)
"It just feels too much like the writers sat down one day and said "TNG had poker, DS9 has darts... Let's do pool!". In fact, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what happened."

You've got that partially backwards. This episode wasn't the first appearance on VOY of the pool table and DS9 didn't do darts until season 3 -- so actually the pool-playing appeared on VOY before they ever played darts on DS9. In fact I read a production note at Memory Alpha for the first dart episode that said they purposely avoided pool because it had already been done on Voyager, so for better or worse the thought process you ascribe to the Voyager pool thing is actually a better description of the thought process that led to the DS9 dart thing.
Arachnea
Mon, Dec 17, 2012, 8:09pm (UTC -6)
There's good and bad in this episode.
Most of the good is the acknowledgement that:
1. Voyager is partially run by new bio-tech;
2. Any non-Starfleet people (wether they're Maquis or not)would have a hard time adapting to heavy protocols on a starfleet ship.

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

What came right was the simulation and the pool discussion.

What I mean is that those two points should have been more developped, but not in one episode only. It's a shame because the bits of character developpement we had so far were pretty good.
Ken DFW
Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 2:19pm (UTC -6)
I absolutely despise this episode. I've worked for someone who acted Tuvok in this episode, and it wasn't very long before I quit and went to work somewhere else where I would be treated with more respect.

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

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

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

So while I disagree with Jammer's take on Tuvok, I agree this was a lost opportunity. However, I do not consider it to be the "real" season finale as the production company intended 4 more episodes to follow for Season One. Somewhere the "Powers That Be" decided otherwise. For a late-season, low budget bottle-show, it was OK.
T'Paul
Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 8:48am (UTC -6)
Agree that this was a fairly solid first season in comparison with some of the other series.

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

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

But I strongly believe that the first season had none too wrong with it.
T'Paul
Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 8:56am (UTC -6)
I must add that this episode as far as Tuvok and the malcontents was entirely necessary and well thought-out as far as Maquis integration and Tuvok character development goes... it tells us that we're still in the first season and still integrating two groups together.

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

Doc and Kes and even Chakotay even grow a bit more in this one
Caine
Sun, Oct 13, 2013, 10:42am (UTC -6)
There's no season 1 recap, so I guess this is the best place to post my thoughts on the first season as a whole:

THE GOOD:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Even though, the decision to leave this episode as the last was really poor.
stallion
Wed, Apr 9, 2014, 11:09am (UTC -6)
While rewatching season one I skipped Time and Again, Ex Post Facto, Emantions, Cathexis, Jetrel, and Heores and Demons. I didn't skip those episodes because they were awful( I actually enjoyed a few of them) I just skipped them because it's disappointing to see Voyager have adventures that could had easily be done on TNG. If you skip those episodes Season one was pretty good.

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

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

I like the main cast for the show. They were the reason I was able to stick with Voyager. Tom and Torres are two of my favorite characters.
Robert
Wed, Apr 9, 2014, 2:53pm (UTC -6)
Actually, I'd argue that several of the episodes you skipped couldn't have been successful on TNG.

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

Sure they chuck THAT premise later, but this is good bit of "only doable on Voyager" that actually doesn't suffer from TNG squared (like later seasons do). Sure the episode is only a mediocre bit of writing, but Picardo sells the wonder of a "holograms first away mission" hard enough that I buy it.
HolographicAndrew
Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 2:53am (UTC -6)
I despise this episode a lot. "I guess if you can learn break the rules, we can learn to follow them." What is this, Leave it to Beaver?

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

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

As far as season one goes, this has to be at the very bottom of my list.
Vylora
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 3:57pm (UTC -6)
I like some of the concepts put forth here. The further insights into integration of the Maquis. Tuvok being placed in charge of them. The issues with the bio-neural gel packs. Unfortunately the execution of it all ranged from partially entertaining at its best to mostly banal at its worst. The dialogue in spots was cringeworthy which didn't help matters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stallion
Thu, Mar 26, 2015, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
My top Ten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Despite knowing that some of them will go on to be undeveloped I have to say the main cast came off well.
Yanks
Wed, Aug 5, 2015, 5:05pm (UTC -6)
But Jammer, it's "Alien" cheese :-)

A thought on that... I don't think Voyager, or any 24th century star ship for that matter, employed a kitchen :-) I'm sure those jel-pak engineers didn't foresee Neelix creating his concoctions with vegetation from alien worlds. :-)

So while on the surface it sounds pretty silly, I can see where this infection might be plausible under the current unforeseen circumstances.

A normal season ender? Hell no, but that shouldn't detract from this episode. The writers never intended this to be a season closer/cliff-hanger obviously. Be mad at the front office, not this episode.

Reading these comments, it seems not many understand why the military's have boot camp. It isn't for the fun of making folks do stuff. It's the art of breaking one down so you can build them back up and more readily conform to the rules and regulations and conduct appropriately as expected and needed to be part of a unit and complete the mission. We hear "star fleet protocols" thrown around allot in Voyager; those rules are needed, not just drummed up. Tuvok wasn't being a jerk or nasty, he was doing his job. My only issue was that he was an instructor at Star Fleet Academy... I don't think joe-blow enlisted go to the academy. (not really sure about this one). So the academic side of what he's used to might have to be tailored.

Janeway had some folks that weren't adjusting and she did the right thing. She's right, she can't just throw them in the brig or put them to bed early without chocolate milk. She has to find ways to integrate them so they are useful and not a burden to the crew or the mission. I have no problem with this solution.

As to letting them take someone's shuttle and leave... we'll see later when this option is presented that they all want to stay. I would say that might be, at least in part, a result of her decision here. As to letting them be a civilian? I don't see that as an option because they will either get tired of doing nothing, or everyone else will get tired of them freeloading. They all need to be a part of the crew. This isn't a Galaxy Class star ship.

An enjoyable episode. Always fun to rewatch. We learn that Tuvok isn't that "nasty" guy and truly cares for his students to the point of sacrificing his life to save one. I get a kick out of the blue guy every time.

I'll go 3 stars here... nothing revolutionary, but a good episode nonetheless. It's nice to know that Voyager does have something inboard that isn't replaceable.
Yanks
Thu, Aug 6, 2015, 9:29am (UTC -6)
Since there is no "Season One Recap", I'll summarize here.

Here are my ratings for season one from best to worst:

Eye of the Needle, 4.00
State of Flux, 4.00
Phage, 3.50
Prime Factors, 3.50
Faces, 3.50
Caretaker, 3.00
The Cloud, 3.00
Emanations, 3.00
Heroes and Demons, 3.00
Jetrel, 3.00
Learning Curve, 3.00
Parallax, 2.50
Ex Post Facto, 2.50
Cathexis, 2.50
Time and Again, 2.00

Total: 46 for a 3.06 average.

This is not really surprising to me as I've always thought that Voyager seasons 1 & 2 are much higher quality than DS9 or TNG.

When I rated DS9, the average was 2.08 for the first season. (I haven't done TNG yet)

Things I love about this show? I love how Kate plays Janeway, I love how she relates to her crew, I love the Janeway/Tuvok relationship, Tim Russ as Tuvok, I love the EMH and the Kes/EMH interactions, way above par acting across the board for a trek series, Tom/Harry friendship, the humor, the emotional tug this series gives me right out of the gate.

Things I don't love so much? How they portrayed Janeway's decision to blow up the array, how fast Chakotay and Torres got their positions - especially Chakotay, Janeways holonovel, Neelix-Kes "love" thing, Neelix's jealous tirades, little mention of rationing things, when they do mention rationing - the holodecks can run all the time?, Voyager's nacelles, Jennifer's acting at times.

All in all a very enjoyable opening season.

Looking forward to chatting about season 2.
FromHolland
Tue, Aug 11, 2015, 8:00am (UTC -6)
Watching the Voyager series all over again and here are my ratings, using the same system as Jammer does (1 to 4), for the first season:


Caretaker: 3
Parallax: 3
Time and Again: 2
Phage: 2
The Cloud: 2
Eye of the Needle: 3.5
Ex Post Facto: 3.5
Emanations: 2
Prime Factors: 2
State of Flux: 2.5
Heroes and Demons: 3
Cathexis: 2.5
Faces: 2.5
Jetrel: 3
Learning Curve: 2
JD
Fri, Sep 25, 2015, 3:50pm (UTC -6)
I just have to ask, are ALL Bolians such whiny little bitches? It seems like every trek has at LEAST one episode with a Bolian in it whining because he's uncomfortable or tired or scared or doesn't trust someone or something. How did all these blue man group rejects make it through Starfleet Academy? I'll give Chel a pass on that but why did Chakotay put up with such a sniveling sap?
Diamond Dave
Tue, Dec 15, 2015, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
Even accepting that this wasn't intended to be the final episode of Season 1, it seems a bit of a shame to go out on this note. A curious mix of ideas - again, just what the hell is Janeway's holodeck novel all about - that doesn't really hang together.

Tuvok runs boot camp is just such a well-trodden path that even a welcome exploration of Maquis integration into the crew comes over trite - the final moral growth is as cheesy as it gets. Just as well this episode also features a cheese then - "Take this cheese to sickbay" enters the pantheon of immortal Trek phrases. 2 stars.

===================

Overall I scored this series at an average of 2.5, which puts it above the first two TNG series but a hair behind DS9 series 1. Up until the mid-point it looked like scoring more than that with a remarkable run of consistent high-scoring episodes - one might expect that at this point in the Trek line the writers and show runners know how to get a show off the ground.

But the disappointing tail off towards the end of the series showed that some problems clearly remain. Voyager at this point seemed at its best when doing something uniquely Voyager. As a low rent 'spacial anomaly of the week' we might just as well be watching TNG. I think also we have the least interesting set of characters of any of the three new series at this point - really only the Doctor stands out, and while the others all have moments in the sun all need further development. But a good start.
MartinB
Sat, Dec 19, 2015, 1:51pm (UTC -6)
Yet another reason why Neelix should have been put out an airlock as soon as he betrayed the Voyager crew in "Caretaker"... He nearly destroyed the ship with cheese!

Shame we never saw how the recruits got on after this episode. Only Chell is ever mentioned and briefly reappears later. Another missed opportunity.

I like the exercise uniforms they wear here, although I wonder why they need to have their division colours on them, given that they wouldn't be on duty while working out...
JC
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 8:00am (UTC -6)
This really should have been like the 2nd or 3rd episode of the season.

I'm a little surprised that Starfleet makes Bajorans take off their earrings. Voyager is the only series I've seen actually enforce this policy.

Somebody needs to inform DS9 that a punch in the face and a romp through some Jefferies tubes is all it takes to turn the Maquis into proper Starfleet crew.

I think we can make a drinking game out of tight shots of people giving concerned stares with the sound of a closing door in the background.

I had to laugh a little at Neelix's food making the ship itself sick (and "get the cheese to sickbay" isn't a line I ever expected to hear on a trek episode). He's definitely not getting an "A" from the health department.

Still, it was a slight stretch for me to accept that Starfleet doesn't have the tech to filter even the most "pernicious" bacteria and tiniest viruses through the ventilation system. I am also constantly baffled by Federation technology design in terms of robustness; you'd think they'd have learned something by now from all the instances of failed "manual" door overrides and inability to shut things off in a crunch (how many times in all the Treks have we seen something out of control that can't be turned off).

I enjoyed this episode more than I thought I would (even with Tuvok and company trapped in a trapped-in-a-room-together cliche together, although the corniness increased exponentially after that), I just don't think it was appropriate as a season ender.

Also it was kind of cheesy ha ha ha.
K
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 11:33pm (UTC -6)
I loved the fact that cheese was the culprit, but maybe that's because I'm lactose intolerant.
Nathan W.
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 6:23pm (UTC -6)
Yet another terrible review from Jammer. You really need to quit reviewing shows that you do not like to begin with. Go watch and review something else. Thanks
Grumpy
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 8:10pm (UTC -6)
Heh.

Yeah, Jammer! Go back in time 21 years and spare your younger self some misery.
Jammer
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 8:34pm (UTC -6)
@Grumpy: LOL. Exactly.
Starik
Mon, May 2, 2016, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
That little boy in the cold open could act!
Luka
Wed, May 11, 2016, 4:22pm (UTC -6)
"If you can learn to bend the rules, we can learn to follow them."

Skywalker
Fri, May 27, 2016, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
A Vulcan teaching at the Academy with a Kobayashi Maru situation? Reminds me a lot of ST2009!

I like the contrast of the Maquis not wanting to retreat versus normal Starfleet tactics, but now that I think about it, that doesn't make a lot of sense. As a force with inferior firepower and defenses, the Maquis must have made combat careers out of retreat! Just like any other guerilla fighters.

Regarding Janeway's holonovel, Jammer said, "It has no relevance to anything on the show." Is it really that hard to make the connexion? Janeway is playing the character of a governess, needing to become a mother suddenly to children who weren't expecting her. It's a metaphor for Voyager! Janeway as a character so far has excellently been portrayed by Mulgrew and the writers as a very intelligent, strong, decisive, modern woman, but still a *woman*, now forced into fulfilling the role of surrogate mother to all the people on the ship. Her warm empathy for the suffering of her crew is distinctly motherly and almost tender.

Speaking of which, in case anyone was wondering what the little boy said in Latin in the holonovel, he said, "in ullam rem ne properemus," which sounds like the bastardized schoolboy Latin of Englishmen of the 19th century. Literally the intended translation seems to be, "Let's not rush into anything," as a response to Janeway hoping she would become the children's friend. Pretty funny! Unfortunately Latin wouldn't phrase it that way (simply "ne properemus" would have been fine).
mephyve
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
if you need some background noise, play this episode. Voyager boot camp
Tidesfromnebula
Wed, Oct 26, 2016, 4:29pm (UTC -6)
I can't believe that hardly anyone has picked up on the worst offense of this episode...

WE NEVER SEE THESE CHARACTERS AGAIN!

Except maybe Chell, who was utilised really well in the computer game Elite Force.

It reminds me of the TNG episode 'Lower Decks' where practically the same thing happened!

Voyager suffered from not establishing a fantastic cast of 'supporting' characters, DS9 did this far better and came before Voyager so its a bit annoying!

BSG gets it right BIGTIME - I always get feeling Voyager would have been better without Braga/Berman and lead by Moore/Behr.

What a treat we'd have witnessed!
Robert
Wed, Oct 26, 2016, 8:30pm (UTC -6)
@Tides - We never see the Lower Decks characters again because the series ended 10 episodes later. The fact that Voyager couldn't run a few recurring characters over 7 years was terrible.
William B
Wed, Oct 26, 2016, 9:31pm (UTC -6)
I dunno. I do think Voyager could have benefitted from a more robust supporting cast. But there is a long tradition of episodic television, and in general of short-form narratives generally. I don't think this episode is great or anything, but it still seems to some extent like the story that they were telling for Chell or whoever was concluded. The story is also mostly about Tuvok, who *is* a regular and who returns. Yes, it would be neat to follow Tuvok's relationships with the recruits to whip into shape here, and the episode's drama is a little blunted because it's hard to believe he could make such progress in such a limited amount of time and then that the Maquis recruits are all good now that he's left them. But I think even a very small rewrite of the episode could still be done to smooth over these problems which are internal to the story, and the episode could more clearly be about Tuvok having a certain task to help some people become better officers, before going back to his regularly scheduled duties, where Tuvok learns something and we learn something about Tuvok along the way.

And with "Lower Decks," it is certainly true that the series was about to end. But I don't think that's the most important reason why the characters (save Ogawa) didn't return. They didn't return because the whole episode is specifically about the experiences of all crew members on the ship who are not seen every week. The episode suggests that there are all kinds of stories that are littering the halls of the ship -- and in fact, far too many for us to be able to keep track of even if the show did expand its cast out further. The drama of the episode also focuses on the escalation from what we would normally not care about at all -- junior officer promotions to off-screen ops? -- and eventually revealing that one of the characters we got to know over the hour died taking part in an anonymous mission, where, presumably, her death stands in for *many other deaths* which are heroic but due to the circumstances are not widely known in universe, or without. That we had seen Sito before (in "The First Duty") is a nice touch, but the episode would not have the same power or meaning if Sito were replaced with someone we actually knew quite well, because then her anonymity would only be to other characters in the show and not to the audience.
Peter G.
Thu, Oct 27, 2016, 1:06am (UTC -6)
@ William,

Those are plausible reasons why those *particular* characters shouldn't have become recurring, but it doesn't quite answer Robert's reasonable complaint that the series simply showed no interest in developing any kind of supporting cast. By the later seasons it somewhat remedied this by introducing (SPOILERS) the Borg children and Naomi Wildman, and even on rare occasion Vorik. But even so none of those characters could carry an episode like Dukat, Weyoun, Martok, or Garak could. There is no disputing that the loss of them from DS9 would be catastrophic. They helped turn what would otherwise have been a solid character-driven show (including material like Crossfire and Duet) into an almost legendary myth-like setting. Just by way of analogy, DS9 ended up in Lord of the Rings territory in terms of creating characters that the audience would never forget, that colored the world of the main characters and gave their everyday troubles a heightened context.

This is a high bar to set, but why sabotage even the chance of the audience being brought into the Delta Quadrant world like this by not even trying? Heck, they even came up with occasional possibilities like the crew in "Good Shepherd" and decided not to re-use them. At that point it seems almost deliberate. Considering how much the show spent on production you'd think they could shell out for some guest actors.
William B
Thu, Oct 27, 2016, 2:19pm (UTC -6)
@Peter (& Robert)

Well, I was mostly responding to Tidesfromnebula's point, and Robert's implicit agreement by saying that these characters appeared more than ten episodes from the end of the series, unlike the "Lower Decks" characters. And even then, unlike with "Lower Decks" where I genuinely do think that having those characters remain backgrounded (or absent entirely) is part of what makes the episode work, I'm not saying it's necessarily better that Tuvok's charges in this episode don't return, just that I don't think it's any real mark against the episode (which, again, I don't really think is great or anything -- I haven't seen it in around two decades though, so...).

And...I mean, yes. While (spoiler) Naomi Wildman, Icheb by the time we got to the last season, and a few others were good additions to the Voyager recurring cast, none of them added as much to the show as Garak, Dukat, Martok, Weyoun, Nog, Rom when the show wasn't specifically doing the bad Ferengi stuff, Damar eventually, etc. did to DS9. It is even possible to have a vibrant supporting/recurring cast without long-term storytelling, and I think that Q, Guinan and Ro added a lot more to TNG than Voyager's supporting players...and then when Barclay eventually became a recurring who could carry an episode on Voyager, well, even that was basically just porting over a character that was established as being able to do the same on TNG! Voyager didn't end up working that much for me as a series and having a larger set of supporting players would probably have helped a lot, and even if it did not work it would have demonstrated a kind of effort and commitment that the show maybe needed.

So I don't think they should have closed up the possibilities offered by a large supporting cast by not particularly trying for a long time. I don't entirely know why they didn't. It is possible that their early attempts, with someone like Seska, didn't quite work out for them. But still, TOS was a very, very good show which worked in an anthology-esque format, with minimal connecting tissue between episodes. That serialization became more popular, and that its advantages became clearer, does not necessarily mean that every show has to be so serialized in order to be good. As it happens, I don't think that Voyager really succeeded at what the artists behind it were apparently trying to do (a kind of TOS/TNG-ish combination of main cast character pieces with sci-fi anthology stories), though I'm mostly operating off memory from a long time ago.
Robert
Thu, Oct 27, 2016, 5:47pm (UTC -6)
@William - FWIW I also don't see it as a knock against the episode. I just think that in cases like this (and Good Shepard) the show runners had a great opportunity to see which characters connected with viewers and offer them recurring roles. I'm not sure why they never built a cast of side characters and shows like this were just good opportunities to pick from.

And when they did have them they often squandered them as you said. I also don't think a show needs to be serialized to be good, but this one did. You had 100 crew and no star bases. We needed more life here.
William B
Thu, Oct 27, 2016, 7:47pm (UTC -6)
@Robert -- fair enough! I just wanted to defend the right of shows to introduce one-episode characters without exploring them, and I think "Lower Decks" is a particularly good example of why it can be good to do so.

It's a very good point that Voyager really does seem to need serialization. I think part of the frustration is not just that it's in the Delta Quadrant and isolated, but the way the show really sets it up that they are On the Edge and also against their will. By contrast, in TOS there were very rarely starbases or other ships, because the Enterprise was very much meant to be on the frontier, often far from other humans (not counting the dozens of Alternate Earths they landed on) and sometimes far from Federation. And this wasn't a problem, first because it's a 60's show, but also because it made sense for the crew to be very outward-facing because that's what they signed up for.

I should also add -- though you didn't point this out -- that I was sort of conflating "serialization" with "robust supporting cast," and those are two slightly different things, though they are related.
Robert
Fri, Oct 28, 2016, 8:39am (UTC -6)
Agreed! The show needed serialization in relationships, character growth and a supporting cast that makes the crew feel more "lived in".

As far as long story arcs... I think they could have benefited from short story arcs. Like... we could have used MORE Kazon/Vidiaans in S1 and then left them behind entirely.

The show would have benefited from having each season by a unique region of space with it's own aliens and it's own feel. Something like...

S1 - Kazon/Vidiaan Space
S2 - ????
S3 - Nekrit Expanse
S4 - The Outskirts Of Borg Space (after Kes' jump)
S5 - The Year Of Hell/Krenim Space
S6 - Hirogen Space
S7 - ????

Plenty of room for non-serialization, I don't mean to say that the Kazon should have an "arc" either. Just that those are the things we should a lot of that year.
J.B. Nicholson
Thu, Jan 5, 2017, 6:11pm (UTC -6)
In "Parallax" Torres got her superior's job (Chief Engineer) by breaking Lt. Carey's nose in 3 places and dealing him a blow to the face so hard Chakotay said if she had hit Carey a little harder she could have put bone matter into his cerebellum (almost a quote of Chakotay's dialogue). In this episode one of the former Maquis crew says he and the others will do their jobs, but do them in the "Maquis way" and Chakotay responds by punching him in the face, causing the crewman to fall off his chair and then tell the Maquis in the mess hall "That's the Maquis way too, isn't it? And if you want to keep doing it the Maquis way that's fine with me. We can do that tomorrow, the next day, every day until you report to Lieutenant Tuvok.". Then makes the crewman he just punched get up and respond to him in the way "a Starfleet crewman answer[s] a question" while also giving the crewman a light slap on the face. The difference between the "Maquis way" and the "Starfleet way" is apparently fairly thin as both apparently have fisticuffs at the center.

Lt. Carey inexplicably accepted his demotion in episode 2, he said so under duress in front of the top 3 highest-ranking crew in Janeway's ready room midway into "State of Flux" (which we're supposed to take at face value, apparently). The same inexplicable happiness infects the end of "Learning Curve" too: there's no further discussion of how things got to be the way they are, nobody complaining to Janeway about violence taking a starring role in how things get done aboard ship. I understand that at the end of "Learning Curve" the Maquis trainees just got through a life-or-death situation but that doesn't erase the very recent past, either in this episode or with Torres' rather new position.

Viewed from within the story: The Captain takes responsibility for everything that happens aboard ship, certainly when it comes to her project of bringing the Maquis into the Starfleet fold via "field training". What I described above strongly undercuts Janeway as a respectable leader. She's apparently fine with violence as a means of enforcing her will, be it promoting someone who admits she's lacking the knowledge she needs to do the job (see my feedback on episode 2 on this site for details) into a senior officer position (Chief Engineer) over someone (Carey) who was apparently doing that job without complaint and had just received a beating from the person who would be given his job, to letting Tuvok use boot camp techniques on crew Janeway admits aren't new to running a ship but are merely ignorant of Starfleet protocols, or letting her first officer (Chakotay) ignore the Maquis trainees complaints and beat and threaten the trainees with more violence until training conditions are met. These things happened in front of plenty of other crew and thus many crewmembers have firsthand knowledge of how discipline is handled in the "Starfleet way". I can only imagine the rest of the crew comes away thinking that they'd better do their job or they too will get a beating from someone. I'd think this runs right along what any Maquis would expect of Starfleet given that the Federation forcibly and in short order made them ex-citizens (the formation of the Maquis began with a treaty which instantly made some Federation citizens go from living on a Federation planet to living inside Cardassian space). Force, not negotiation based on understanding, is the way of things even in the microcosm of Janeway's ship. To me this suggests that Janeway might know she either has no legitimate authority or she's got no clear idea of how to do better.

Viewed from a production standpoint: the writing is simply horrible because the characters are punished for no reason, violence is quickly becoming the means by which some important decisions are made amongst the crew, and the characters behave in entirely unrealistic ways that make them highly unidentifiable. The identity politics-driven agenda is so clear: By this time the major point of the series is to show how a woman captain would run things given free reign (no real Federation or Starfleet oversight, her writ runs no matter how inconsistent with her stated principles it is). But this season shows the major failure of identity politics; you can't make a feminist point by validating violence as a means of rising up through the ranks or enforcing compliance. This runs right along with women being raped as a part of institutional operation (some women are offered a job if they'll have sex with their superiors in an organization and this happens in the military too, or men and women are threatened unless they comply with their unethical superiors by going along with the unethical behavior or keeping quiet about the unethical behavior). A feminist standpoint would be to challenge violence as a means of getting work done and putting people through public trials as a way of showing everyone on the ship that the "Starfleet way" is better. But the writers never write Janeway to follow through with normal Starfleet protocol; instead ship's higher-ups quickly dismiss protocol as being unrealistic. ST:VOY is vastly overrated in terms of its ability to show how evolved Federation life is or what this Starfleet captain has to offer above other empire-building Star Trek societies. DS9 was considerably more honest in this regard by creating Section 31 and the Federation's attempt to commit genocide against the Changelings. "When the dirty work needs to get done..." (my recollection of Odo's line to Sisko explaining how Section 31's choices reflect on the Federation's self-appraised superiority in ethically running a society).
JohnC
Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 3:38pm (UTC -6)
Tuvok is an inflexible boor as an instructor and, recalling what an unproductive rebel I was at an earlier age, I probably would have been right there with the Maquis in walking out on him. That said, I found it immensely satisfying when Chakotay showed up and socked that smug instigator in the face.
Ildaf
Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 12:01am (UTC -6)
Hmm.. Tuvok not very logical here eh..
Why there's only 2 option of : Intergrate to Starfleet or Throw to the brig?. Aren't that mean forcing someone against their will.
They're not voluntarily joining Starfleet didn't they, and as Dalby eloquently put :
"We didn't ask to come aboard this ship. But we understand the situation we in, and we've done the best job we can, and now you're telling us that's not good enough!". Dalby is correct 100% here.

How about relieve them from duty, give them status as guest. They have guest in Voyager. Kes and Neelix are guest, and Starfleet vessel having guest or family member on ship is common. They don't want to follow rule and protocol as crewmember, then it's very simple :
Invoke their status as crewmember, limit their access, authorization, privilege and assign them as guest.
Funny how they help alien and provide guest quarter every now and then for them, but unwilling to do that for their own species, rather : brig-way, or my-way?. It's not like they're running vital job on Voyager, and I'm sure losing 4 crewmember is something they can afford.
You sure being logical here Tuvok?

If later they missed or loss by the reduced privilege and feel up to take the job or more responsibilities, then that's the time to re-integrate and re-trained if needed.

Fine... So they are forced to do it, even Chakotay give medicine of 'Maquis-way' to make sure of that eh. But why the hell take route of 'Drilling Sergeant' and treat them as 'Teenage Cadet'. Effectively humiliating them in front of everyone by running through all the ship? SMH
Maquis as a rebels and underdog never consider retreat as an option? SMH
If I recall, Chakotay run away and retreat from Cardassian into the Badlands.

I was dreading this gonna be boring and predictable as it gets, and hoping I was wrong. Alas, not.. It's as boring as it can get (excessive and long drill training), as predictable as we can expect (encounter problem and both has to adjust), and with classic cliche to wrapped it up (live saving situation lead to understanding of both side).

I swear I saw that coming miles away, that somehow five of them will be in jeopardy situation, have to work as team to save their ass, and Tuvok save them or try sacrifice himself to save the day and come to earn their respect. Of course the sacrifice part would have to be spoilt or we lose a main cast.
I predict a transport to the sickbay by the crew and while Tuvok recuperating, 'The Beaver Family' have their moment there. Well, they made a bit variations of that by making the Maquis saved him back, but not totally surprising.

The only thing I enjoy from this scene is Neelix actually helpful and not be annoyance for once. I appreciate the effort to address the issue of Starfleet-Maquis integration, but if it's done as badly as this one, I think I rather have a holodeck theme or alien-of-the-week.

My favourite line :
"Get the cheese to sick bay"
It's as if they acknowledge the whole episodes is as cheesy as it can get!

Hardly enjoyable.
1.5 star for the effort of stick to the Voyager main premise, and not totally brain-dead
Tara
Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 2:44pm (UTC -6)
@lldaf:

Heartily agree! Do you think the "cheese" reference was a wink from the writers: "we are cheesy and we embrace it" ?? That would be fun!

I would score it a little higher but that's just because I have a weak spot for Rocky and "Officer and a Gentleman".

On a non trek topic: your English is terrific, idioms and all, and just imperfect enough to be charming. May I ask: what's your first language?
Ildaf
Tue, Feb 14, 2017, 6:39pm (UTC -6)
@Tara

I think they are. I noticed the writer made several time this kind of self-satire, very likely it's intentional. Maybe to nudge the higher up? Braga? Who knows what really behind the screen.

In 'Worst Case Scenario' :
"Who says deus ex Machina is an outdated literaly device?" -- Janeway
The very next episodes Janeway got her wishes with Seven join the crew.
Literally a walking Deus Ex Machina ;)

In 'Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy' :
"Warp core breach a lot sooner than you're think" -- Computer
We know the Voyager habbit cliche of saving in the nick of second

In 'Muse' they're actually made self-parody of Voyager, and it's quite fun but also serious.

===

Yeah, I understand.
I have a weak spot for something historical related. I love 'Distant Origin' for that reason, and really angry with '37' because they ruined and wasted what is a great premise and potential to be classic episode.

===

Thank you. I'm Indonesian :)
Picard
Fri, Feb 24, 2017, 10:21am (UTC -6)
I don't have a problem much with this episode, the cheese and gel pack is funny yet not too insensible.

Remember a lot of the Maquis were former Starfleet so would probably have reintegrated easier than expected.

For people that wanted seven seasons of tensions and mutinies that wasn't what the show was going to be about at the end of Caretaker Janeway lays out the show's main premise, and major plots-exploring, seeking shortcuts and one ship one crew.
Dathon
Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 11:39am (UTC -6)
Worst episode ever in any Star Trek series, existing or not. This shameful load of crap is a spit in the face of ST philosophy. And the fact that it was conceived so "en passant"... Don't believe it? I just copy-paste my opinion about it, posted elsewhere...
----
"Learning Curve" is the worst crap ever seen in ST universe, the lowest point ever touched, and in a single episode. Congrats! A single episode that I had to erease from my mind to avoid the destruction of the Federation. It is my "Omega Directive", and even Doc's lullaby to bioneural gel can't save it. Do you remember the development of dramatic episodes in TNG/DS9? Or the TNG "He-she is behaving abnormally, it's Nebula 4747's dust!" episodes? Forget it! What we have here? Captain's intent completely misunderstood... A bit of (childish) HAZING with a taste of "hyper-wesleyzed" Harry Kim (look how am so perfect!), and the ascertainment that B'elanna is not half-Kingon, but a bi-polar dumb. Tuvok's ability to understand of Captain's orders and (maternal?) hopes to integrate the crews, mean a cosplay of "Gunnery Sgt. Hartman" (that includes a Bolian "Private Pyle"). And the final shooting scene was (unfortunately) avoided by the wisdom (yes!) of Neelix (!!!). And Chakotay... OMG Chakotay! The proud Native Am, partisan for his planet, rebel Maquis captain for so noble reasons, the Delta Quadrant's Harlock... is now, to be gentle, a sort of "Alberto Sordi's Kansas City Cop" (search "An American in Rome" on Google). Or, to be honest, a redneck bully good for a bar fight outside an Interstate Hwy. And condemned, from that episode, to be the boring "teacher's pet" ("you've got dust on your suit"... seriously?). We have a PTSD drama episode, including RAPE and MASS MURDER backstories, developed with a "LOL, WHO CARES"... and NOTHING more. Very very educational and trekkie! I dunno if Livingston was under "krokodil" developing a "gold mine episode" as this (does sb remember "Duet", DS9 season 1?), and transforming it into a load of crap, but, this absolute lack of respect to basic Trek philosphy is disarmingly. I don't care if TOS' Klingons had no ridges, if first Borgs wore leggins. Low budget but good ideas is a Trek teaching, and our own imagination compensating lacks in anoter Trek teaching. I don't care if in the "episode 74x47" Geordi had reversed pins; and I really don't wish to bother Stewart with 1,000 trekkies questions, cuz he has a real life too. But I can't see the basis of Trek philosophy chewed and smashed in only 42 mins. It's a shame for their creators, because ST, more than a sci-fi product, is a hope, an "agit-prop for empathy". And, mainly in hopeless periods as this one (does WW3 started?), you can understand what I mean. If i wanna see "Full Metal Jacket" (a film that I know scene-by-scene), I see FMJ. Yes, this episode depicts 20th century's RL but... aehm... that's 23rd! And, as Lily Sloan said, "WHERE WAS YOUR "EVOLVED SENSIBILITY" THEN?!?!"...

I hope that people who conceived this episode can read this post and can feel shame, and all my blame for what they've done. Feq'lhr and the Gre'thor are waitin' for you.
-----
Just a test:
Take a person knowing nothing about ST universe, possibly a person with a bit of that "evolved sensibility" (Picard). Talk to her/him about ST, introduce her/him to trek universe, to what it represents, the intelligent sci-fi, the hope, the evolved humanity, the utopia (but not a "Mary Sue Utopia")... After this, show her/him, as first trekker approach, "Learning Curve". Your "test subject" will face: hazing, sort of high school bullying, a Hartmanized pointy-ears alien bothering his own, and blue skinned, Private Pyle, PTSD themes treated as "nobody cares", war murders and war rapes treated as "i give a fuck", bar brawls, captain's LOGIC suggestions to his high ranked officers completely misunderstood (or betrayed?) for their own sadistic (and ILLOGICAL, or simply idiotic, even for the 20th century) purposes. And, fortunately for you, they know nothing about the (very) former Space Rebel Superhero Chakotay, future "teacher's pet" and boring Mary Sue. I think you'll now his answer to you at the end of the episode.

PS: if you don't care, or consider this pile of poop a great episode... You can think to be ready to join Tal Shiar or the Obsidian Order... The truth is that you chose the wrong tv series. And so, please avoid to break my balls, i give a fuck of your "serial killer mood" opinions. Find a therapist!

Think to this episode as a Starfleet "test". Are you able to recognize poop, or you are so blind to blindly accept everything? What did Picard say about the "blind obedience"... The excuse of any criminal in almost all the worst tragedies of the human history?
RandomThoughts
Sat, Jun 3, 2017, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!

I've thought this episode over in my head a few times, and now it comes to this: I must make a comment! :)

If Voyager had caught Chakotay's ship in the Alpha quadrant, the members of the crew would be put in a penal colony (maybe New Zealand). Some of them are former Starfleet. Would they be considered traitors, since they had at one time given an oath to Starfleet to uphold its ideals? Or would the fact they resigned before joining make a difference? I'm not going on what happened later, just what has happened up to this point in the various series.

It seems the Maquis were given a free pass because, hey, they needed bodies on the ship to hopefully take the place of those that have been killed. That's fine. But were they given a choice on whether they wanted to be in Starfleet or were they drafted? I don't know that they really told us. I'd have liked a scene, somewhere, showing them being given a choice. If they chose to join the crew as Starfleet members, they would have an orientation, so they would know how to act and what to do in their respective fields, with perhaps some extra classes on the holodeck with a fake instructor (that seems very do-able), to hone their skills. There could even have been mention in episodes about how the training was going, or that someone was just cleared by Tuvok (who would run it) to be at the helm.

If they chose to not join as a regular part of the crew, they'd have the option to have a civilian job, perhaps in the galley or hydroponics, but something to help the crew as they tried to get home that wasn't a part of anything involving a security clearance. This could also have been shown in parts of various episodes, especially if one grabbed a phaser if/when they were boarded, or something as mundane as helping Neelix with a new hybrid food source.

If they completely hated Starfleet so much they didn't want to to have anything to do with them (and I'd figure there would be at least one), then they'd have limited access to the ship, limited rations for the replicator, no holodeck privileges, etcetera. These could also have been mentioned in B or C stories, trying to convince them to do something that might help get them home.

But instead, it seems that Chakotay spoke for his entire crew (and now a Commander, nice), and since he joined up, so did they. Yesterday, you were on a Maquis ship, manning weapons. Now you are given a Starfleet uniform and will be... cleaning some injectors, or something that isn't as important (unless you are Chakotay or Torres). What if you were good at weapons on their ship, but were a farmer before? No true clue about regulations and protocol? Well, here is your uniform. Now, you'd best fit in and do it the Starfleet way (which you may have no clue about), or you'll get a punch in the nose if you refuse. Or have to run laps with Tuvok. No orientation was even implied. And that would have been, quite simply, stupid.

I believe they had Years of stories that could have been C's, or B's, maybe even an A when they needed some filler. But nope. You've been drafted. You're in the Starfleet now.

It seems that part of the outline for episode one was: Maquis and Voyager are fighting. They get pulled into the Delta quadrant together. Maquis members are integrated into the Voyager crew after the crisis is over. Bliss results (because, you know, Starfleet). And we might do a couple of episodes about how some are not acclimating... later...

I once worked for a store owner who, upon finding out that a business opportunity had been missed, would take a long drag on his Barclay, then tell someone "You missed the boat" while slowly shaking his head as he exhaled. I believe the Voyager writers "Missed the boat" on the opportunities they had here, by having everyone (and I mean Everyone) get on board with wearing the uniform right from the get-go.

As with anything, your mileage may vary... RT

P.S.: Yes, this was mostly about the general state of Voyager, and not this particular episode, but I think it is relevant under the circumstances. I cannot put it under episode one, as it'd have spoilers. :)

P.P.S: It was never mentioned, but why were the former Maquis members given a different badge to show their past allegiance to the Maquis? If they were integrated, then they should have been Fully integrated with pips. But here is a constant reminder they were not a part of the original crew... (perhaps to show, if one was acting up, well, it's the Maquis?). A part of the crew is a part of the crew. To make them "different" was a disservice, in my humble opinion...
Ridgemont
Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 5:50pm (UTC -6)
I completely missed that this was a series finale as I am box setting them, and had to double take when I realised I'd crossed over into S2. This isn't a finale episode tho I get that the 37 episode was originally intended to be so but fell foul of scheduling constraints.

In summary this episode is filler material but unfortunately is emblematic of the season as a whole. It really did do a terrible job of opening up the amazing vistas of the Delta quadrant. It might have been justified if it really poked at the maquis v fleet vibe but it skipped that bar this somewhat painful officer and a gentleman episode (plus Be'lanna beating up a rival earlier in the series). Way too much derivative TNG nonsense about anomalies and such. 2 stars at a push. Thankfully the series raised its game.
Startrekwatcher
Fri, Jul 21, 2017, 6:56pm (UTC -6)
2 stars

A plot about cheese?!?!? Ugh no thanks and the other plot centering on Tuvok and Chskotay being a-holes to the Maquis trio. I much prefer Picard's style--remember he let Ro wear her earring and headband.
William B
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 9:52am (UTC -6)
Skipping Jetrel for now because the subject matter is so weighty.

I won't hold that the episode is sort of insufficient as a season finale against it; episodes were held back to season two, etc. The "get the cheese to sickbay" is silly and all, but not that much of a disqualification for me, and I don't really find the general "the bio-neural gel packs are failing" plot to be any worse (nor any better) than most of the tech plots this season -- disposable filler. If we actually saw some tangible benefit to the gel packs it would be a bit more worthwhile, I think, to show the drawbacks, but as is it plays as a bit of a question mark -- why would you *want* your computer to be able to fall prey to cheese-based bacteria? I guess the point is that the gel packs are good, and if we don't see it, it's because there isn't really any way to particularly show the audience the difference from one ship's computer to the next. The other problem with the cheese plot is that rather obviously there are no clues or way for us to be able to figure out the problem (or solution), but whatever, again this makes it on par with most of the tech plots this season (not, admittedly, a compliment).

Anyway the main draw and drawback here is the Tuvok/Maquis plot. It's a good idea to show further problems with the Maquis interacting, and I don't *exactly* mind that these crew members aren't shown again, though it would certainly have strengthened the series if we did. Most of the four Maquis remain un-individuated, besides Darby and to some extent Chell; the woman in particular ends the episode a total blank. But still, I generally like the handling of Darby. The "Maquis way" moment with Chakotay is pretty effective in a weird way; it's kind of hard to believe the Maquis could really function with a punching-based discipline system, but it's still a moment where we get a sense of how a generally cool and collected Chakotay could command a group of anarchistic rebels. The war games scene was entertaining and amusing (particularly when "random events" ended up being 2/3 Romulan warbirds decloaking), even if as was pointed out above it's hard to understand how the Maquis could have survived without retreating. I guess the common element is that it's as if the writers forgot they were writing the Maquis and were instead writing refugees from a Klingon ship.

The real problem is Tuvok. Why *is* he so inflexible? It's not that Tuvok's actions are *that bad* -- he's tough but not abusive, and I can see why this type of thing would work with Starfleet cadets. I don't understand why he believed he could port over his training directly from enthusiastic, willing recruits to a bunch of angry rebels, let alone ones on the other side of the galaxy from their homes and very aware that they have no other options, to say nothing of the (unstated) reality that Tuvok also personally betrayed the Maquis crew by acting as a spy. There are elements of The Galileo Seven here, but I found that episode much more effective because it was clear that Spock really had no interest in command as such and was relatively inexperienced; while it makes sense for Tuvok not to know exactly how to deal with this new situation, for him to need to have Neelix to tell him why changing nothing about his usual instruction methods makes him look like an idiot and doesn't strike me as in character. The story still has some good moments, especially after Tuvok tries to modify his behaviour (i.e. by trying to befriend Dalby), and I think the idea that Tuvok is a little inflexible is a good flaw for him to have, as both a Vulcan and as the oldest member of the crew, who does not have emotional difficulties or even Spock's self-hatred about his imperfect emotional control. It's just overplayed. And unfortunately, cheese turns out to be the enemy once again in that last scene where Dalby says "if you can learn to bend the rules, we can learn to follow them"; the idea that Tuvok rescuing a crew member is so totally illogical strikes me as hard to believe in the first place, and it's a pretty pat resolution. I guess the best we could say is that maybe Tuvok was smart enough to deploy the logical situation of a strong security officer accustomed (as a Vulcan) to extreme heat risking himself to save a crew member from a fire as some sort of rule-breaking to get the troops in line.

I'll say 2 stars.
Skango
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 7:33am (UTC -6)
A few things that bothered me a bit.

Starfleet says you can't wear a headband? I can think of 4 off the top of my head that did. Troi and Ro in TNG and Valeris in ST VI and Nog from DS9 (if you want to count his headress thingy as a headband, that is). I'm sure there were probably more. Same goes for jewelry. Uhura from TOS and the new movies wears earrings. Ro wore hers in TNG. Again, I'm sure there are more, but I never really payed much attention to jewelry.

Cheese infects the ship? I don't mind that it's cheese, just that you would think they would have some sort of protocols involved for bringing alien plants and bacteria etc. onto the ship. Apparently not. They just let Neelix bring on whatever he wants.

Janeway's holodeck program. Just awful and pointless. Again.

Chakotay, the first officer, punches someone to get them to follow orders? wtf? Imagine if Riker started beating up people on the Enterprise. He'd be relieved of command in about 2 seconds.

And the way they 'cure' the ship. The Doc, a supposed medical expert, says that a fever kills viruses. That's nonsense. Antibodies and T cells kill viruses. A fever may help them along a little, but a fever won't do it by itself. They should have just said they discovered that the virus was sensitive to heat if that's what they wanted to do. Not say they are going to give the gel packs a fever. Not a big deal, but it annoyed me anyway. :P

1 1/2 stars from me.

Skango
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 7:45am (UTC -6)
Not that anyone cares, but here are my ratings for the first season. Listed from highest to lowest rating.

3.0 Caretaker
2.5 Eye of the Needle
2.5 Prime Factors
2.5 State of Flux
2.0 Phage
2.0 The Cloud
1.5 Parallax
1.5 Faces
1.5 Learning Curve
1.0 Emanations
1.0 Heroes and Demons
1.0 Jetrel
0.5 Time and Again
0.5 Ex Post Facto
0.0 Cathexis

My average rating: 1.53 stars for the season.

The first episode was good, then the show was pretty average, with a few semi high points in the middle of the season, with the end of the season being quite bad I thought.
William B
Mon, Sep 18, 2017, 4:48pm (UTC -6)
Season 1 ratings (in parentheses, difference with Jammer's rating):

Caretaker: 2 (-1)
Parallax: 2.5 (=)
Time and Again: 1.5 (-.5)
Phage: 3 (=)
The Cloud: 2 (-1)
Eye of the Needle: 3.5 (+.5)
Ex Post Facto: 1.5 (-.5)
Emanations: 3 (+1)
Prime Factors: 3.5 (=)
State of Flux: 3.5 (=) -- I said 3, but I'm willing to take it as a standout overall, and clearly the highlight of the Seska arc
Heroes and Demonds: 2 (-1)
Cathexis: 1 (-.5)
Faces: 2.5 (-1)
Jetrel: 3 (=)
Learning Curve: 2 (-.5)

The season's overall average is 2.375 (counting Caretaker as 2 eps). This is lowish compared to what TOS/TNG/DS9 average out to for me, but not particularly low for a Trek first season, which, TOS excepted, tend not to be the best. Of course TNG's first season is notably terrible, but I also think that DS9's first season was rough in several ways. If anything I'd say that Voyager produces a more *consistent* package than DS9 does, and I don't think that Eye of the Needle, Prime Factors and State of Flux are anything to be ashamed of as season highlights. There is no Duet in quality (Jetrel is the Duet-in-theme attempt, which is moderately successful for me), and that gives DS9 the edge; the other thing that gives DS9 an edge is that season 2 really did build on what season 1 was (mostly) setting up, whereas a lot of what this season seems to be trying to do gets lost in the series pretty quickly. That said, it's really not a year to be ashamed of at all. There are only three episodes I'd classify as bad, and of those only Cathexis is *really* bad, and even that has some zip and energy to it.
William B
Mon, Sep 18, 2017, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
What I do notice is how quickly the show abandons the Maquis element, really, as being a central pillar of the show. It doesn't get completely lost, of course, but there's something sort of perfunctory about episodes like Learning Curve. State of Flux is a very good show and I like it, but it is frustrating because of the fact that it immediately ejects the most interesting potential source of conflict, because for the crew to have to actually deal with Seska would pay off the implicit promise of the pilot much better. In some ways it seems as if the Maquis angle, which was given so much set-up over two other series, maybe should have been dropped anyway, and maybe having the crew be generally Starfleet, maybe with alternate backstories for why Chakotay/Torres were on the ship to allow for their (Torres' especially) unique character traits would have avoided the constant missed-opportunity attacks. Oh well. Generally the show seems to narrow its focus too much on the main characters given Voyager's situation, and even the main cast seems pretty unmoved by the realities of their plight. However, while these become bigger problems later, in season one there is still a sense in eps like Prime Factors/State of Flux that the difficulties Voyager faces will be dealt with with varying perspectives in an interesting way. It occurs to me that if Voyager had a really great second season, season one's problems would probably be looked at a little more kindly as a show finding its legs, producing some very good shows and some disposable ones.
Dave
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:15pm (UTC -6)
I never really understood why the Maquis, who basically just opposed a Cardassian treaty, adopted a Klingon-ish "Maquis way" lifestyle. The cell Mayqueez led in TNG's "Preemptive Strike" didn't seem to behave the "Maquis way".
Dave
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:21pm (UTC -6)
Tuvok said he "cleared Deck 13" for the 10k run, and later we learn than he increased the gravity on the deck. But...it didn't seem entirely cleared, we saw them passed a few crew members in the corridor as they ran. Also, presumably some people live on Deck 13 and were in their quarters, enduring extra gravity.
Brian
Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 3:09am (UTC -6)
Get the cheese to sick bay!
Ruth
Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 4:21am (UTC -6)
What these lot do isn’t the maquis way at all. I thought that was clear. Chakotay sacrificed his ship, but only because he knew a bigger friendly ship was right there. He was on a dangerous and impressive retreat into the badlands at the start of the episode. He was a starfleet instructor. He knows how to command a starship. The man here didn’t. He was going off what he’d seen and what he felt with little understanding.

It was also a metaphor for how they felt. They’d rather be aggressive to the end with Tuvok. I had missed that this was also reflected in Janeway’s holonovel as someone pointed out here (it’s a shame they gave up on it when it started getting interesting)

Tuvok failed horribly here because he kept missing his chances. When they complained they were shit after the simulation, why not give tips, get them to try again, tell them to pause and ask him for advice. These aren’t nearly captain ready people proving their ability, they are unskilled and needed training not just testing.

I can understand Tuvok sticking to his old ways and being so rigid he literally can’t understand that Neelix is saying he’s too rigid and not the maquis but I can’t understand that he’s an awful instructor. He doesn’t once instruct! And making Chell clean by hand, that’s just mean and a waste of the crew who are a limited resource.

It’s a shame they messed around the schedule. I did like this episode overall but it doesn’t work as the end. And The 37s doesn’t work as a beginning, so it’s pointless.
Rahul
Thu, Jan 18, 2018, 11:35pm (UTC -6)
Slightly better than mediocre episode which has a good premise for the A-plot but the B-plot of cheese infecting bio-neural gel packs is a silly way to generate a crisis on the ship. Is it supposed to imply that crises can happen from the most unlikely sources? And what of the solution -- heat to kill bacteria/viruses that isn't high enough to harm the human body? Bit of a stretch for me.

The idea of Tuvok training Maquis crew is a good one and I think it's good that VOY spend an episode focusing on the crew issues. They all know they won't see their families (probably ever again) and there are some very different philosophies among the crew (Star Fleet vs. Maquis) so there should be more examination of how that impacts their performance.

Tuvok is too accustomed to training cadets at the academy who want to be Star Fleet officers. Here he's dealing with people who don't want to be Star Fleet but who are forced to. Not hard to see that he should adopt a different approach and certainly not belittle them. Tuvok basically invites Dalby's hostility. Chakotay should have played more of a role in the training beyond slugging Dalby. (What species is the fat blue-skinned dude?)

Of course it wraps up in a nice way with the A&B plots meeting together to create a situation that brings Tuvok and the Maquis trainees closer together. I liked how everybody was sweating like pigs yet Doc, as a hologram, looked normal.

Barely 2.5 stars for this light-hearted outing. I guess Tuvok learns he needs to bend the rules from time to time -- if that's the major lesson from this episode. And perhaps the Maquis trainees gain some respect for the Vulcan.
Elliot Wilson
Tue, Jun 19, 2018, 6:04pm (UTC -6)
Really upset that the writers had them comment that the inertial dampeners were going offline, and then nothing happens. Yet another way that DS9 was superior to Voyager even in the small details, because when the Dominion ship crashed from inertial dampener failure, the genetically enhanced Jem'Hadar soldiers, bred as tools of war, physically superior to frail human beings and even the Klingons, were killed on impact, yet the Voyager crew is just standing around leisurely as if they're going for afternoon tea. Bleh.
Sean Hagins
Wed, Aug 8, 2018, 6:02pm (UTC -6)
I really liked this episode. The only thing I would say is that it should have been earlier in the series with the Marquis balking at Starfleet rules.

It seems realistic to me that alien foods would have bacteria (or whatever) that may have unexpected side effects. The foods are probably checked thoroughly for harmful effects on the crew, but the biosystems being affected seems totally plausible
Elliott
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 3:22pm (UTC -6)
Teaser : *.5, 5%

We're back in Ancient England (c.f. “Cathexis”). Sigh...Janeway is trying to get into the spirit of things with her role as governess here. She is introduced to the holo-kids, who score about 3.5 metric Season 1 Bashirs on the type-cast arrogant limey posh scale. Yeah. Well, thankfully this crap is cut off sooner than last time. There are some odd power fluctuations which disrupt the holograms.

Tuvok investigates the issue, discovering an open work panel and Crewman Doughy performing unauthorised repairs. Doughy is friendly with Tuvok, letting him know that he saw one of those gooey gelpacks malfunctioning and decided to replace it. Tuvok chides him over ignoring protocol and causing distractions. Look...I am not a fan of Maquis as a concept—and we'll get to all that. But this story is really stacking the deck already. Tuvok says that his unauthorised actions disrupted a number of ship's systems. Uh-huh, and what was the example we were shown? Oh yeah, it was Janeway in her stupid holonovel. Like in “Phage” with Janeway's private dining room, this framing makes the captain look really elitist. Like, how dare this peon disrupt her private holodeck with his essential repairs? The AUDACITY. Well, Doughy over-reacts (and over-acts) to Tuvok, screaming for the Vulcan to LEAVE HIM ALONE, and storms off. Eh...

Act 1 : *.5, 17%

Janeway's log comments on the unfortunate loss of the gelpack. Apparently, the tech—despite being brand new—has a very reliable track record and it's malfunction is a major surprise. Tuvok informs her and Chakotay that they only have 47 [duh] remaining replacements and, like those torpedoes, they don't have a way to replace them. Mhm. Tuvok also brings up the discipline issue. Tuvok notes that this is not the first time he has mis-behaved in this way, committing several minor infractions that remind me a lot of the mushroom soup debacle in “State of Flux.” I wonder if Doughy was one of the conspirators. Speaking of mushroom soup, Chakotay thinks he's just frustrated and sarcastically chides Tuvok for suggesting that a standard issue discipline hearing will solve the problem. Tuvok's obtuseness is bothersome for a few reasons, 1. Tuvok actually taught at the academy, so surely he understands that this training might be a prerequisite for proper Starfleet behaviour, 2. Tuvok convinced the entirety of the Maquis on the Voyager that he was one of them whilst spying for Janeway. How can he be so ignorant of the way they operate?

All of this, however, pales next to the glaring issue I have with this premise: what makes a Maquis? A hatred of Cardassians? A hatred for Starfleet? As has been discussed over the several episodes where they come up in the various series, the Maquis' motivation is ludicrous, but their strawman reasoning makes even less sense in the DQ. So the writers, in an attempt to make something of this alleged premise, have the Maquis characterised as shifty hotheads who are just too cool for your system, man, as though the Maquis are a different species of human from the Starfleet people. Come on! These are (almost) all people who have grown up in the Federation. If we accept the goofy premise of defending the DMZ agains the Cardassians, there is still no reason for the clichéd way in which these people are characterised. It made sense for Seska, the Cardassian, to provoke these people into resenting each other for her own ends, but she's gone now. It's time for this nonsense to end. Janeway determines to have these problem crewmen undergo some field training, conscripting Tuvok to bring these “raw cadets” up to snuff. She recognises that she and Tuvok are going to have to earn the respect of these people if this is going to work, and so he consents.

The next morning, three..erm four former Maquis meet Tuvok in the cargo bay for their training. Tuvok, ever obtuse, seems to have taken Janeway's “raw cadet” remark *literally* as he speaks to these people like they're fucking teenagers—assigning them laps when they talk back, correcting their appearance, etc. The scene does have its moments:

DALBY: The problem we're having, Lieutenant, is that this whole thing is insulting. We didn't ask to come aboard this ship but we understand the situation we're in and we've done the best job we can, and now you're telling us that's not good enough.
TUVOK: That is correct.

A little Vulcan snark goes a long way. Well, deservedly, Doughy has the quartet walk out of their little training session. Later in the mess hall, they discuss their actions, reflecting that it may not have been so smart to be so openly hostile to the second officer. But, remembering that both Torres and Tuvok were spared punishment for blatantly violating the PD under Janeway's nose in “Prime Factors,” they assume they don't really have anything to worry about.

Chakotay enters and confronts the group. Doughy says they're just going to do things “the Maquis way,” whatever the fuck that means. Well, apparently “the Maquis way” is actually “the Sisko way,” as Chakotay just decks him right out of his chair, warning him that further insubordination like this will just incur further punches. Beltran gives a good performance here, but I have to say, I fucking hate this. First of all, what if it was Henley (the girl with the headband) who had given his little Braveheart speech? Would Chakotay have punched her in the face? Or the Bajoran kid? This isn't the 60s. Kirk is dead—let's just let the machismo die already, unless the Maquis have decided to abandon sexual equality along with common sense. Heh. Tell that to B'Ellana.

Act 2 : *.5, 17%

Okay, Round 2. Tuvok assigns the quartet studying material and has them all remove their non-issue adornments. Now, you know I have little love for the Bajoran nonsense religion, but making the kid remove his earring is a bridge too far, Tuvok. This goes all the way back to “Ensign Ro” and Riker's odd singling out of her appearance there. But, it was determined that Bajorans would be allowed to wear their stupid earrings, AND Ro got to wear a headband! So what's it take? Do they all have to sleep with the XO first? He tells them to meet him on a lower deck that evening and dismisses them for the day.

In Engineering, Doughy and Torres discuss this field training. She rightly gives him shit for being such a whiny little bitch, only to be interrupted by another gelpack failure. Looking for options, Torres takes one of the malfunctioning packs to sickbay to have the EMH examine the biological components. The doctor steals the scene as usual with this bit:

EMH: The patient is sick.
TORRES: Can you be more specific?
EMH: To discuss the patient's condition in front of the patient would be a serious breach of professional etiquette. It's been suggested that I cultivate a greater sensitivity to my patient's needs. Don't worry, my little friend...

Hysterical. Anyway, the gelpack has caught an infection of some sort, explaining its malfunction.

In our Starfleet Police Academy plot, Tuvok has the quartet climb through the bowls of the ship all the way up to deck 2 and down to deck 13 where they will do 10K run. This sequence is tediously played out complete with insipid musical accompaniment and flopped jokes. While I credit Tuvok performing the entire routine with them—demonstrating that this kind of physical activity is something any Starfleet officer or crewman should be able to perform (I'd like to see the aforementioned Riker pull this off), this isn't exactly fair since he's a VULCAN. At the end of the run, Tuvok informs them that the gravity was increased, explaining that this jackassery was done in order to teach them a lesson that they never know what they may encounter in space or whatever. Yeah, um *that* much was, I think, already familiar to the Maquis. What exactly is this nonsense, not to mention the promise or repeating it all TOMORROW, supposed to accomplish?

Act 3 : **, 17%

The Bolian, Chell has been assigned to de-gauze the transporter pad by hand. Uh-huh. Jesus Tuvok. This plays in the background to Kim and Torres trying to track down the source of the infection. Torres speculates that some odd food stores they recently acquired for Neelix' kitchen might have something to do with it, but Kim says everything checked out.

Later, Tuvok expands his training to a holodeck war-simulation, as Jammer noted, à la Wrath of Kahn. For the first time, he actually seems to be thinking through his training, as a good place to start with these people might actually be to take something they're familiar with, like fighting Cardassians, and adapting this to Starfleet protocols. Yeah, maybe before the laps next time. They attempt to do the Starfleet thing by responding to a Ferengi distress call and are ambushed by not one but two Romulan Warbirds. Hopelessly outmatched, Doughy leads them into a scenario where they all die. Neat. The lesson they were supposed to learn in this simulation was to retreat, a reasonable tactic. But I fail to see how this has anything to do with Tuvok's stated goal of trying to get these people to work together and participate as a team. Again, we are dealing with this bizarre notion that the Maquis are all just violent lunatics who will commit suicide for no reason, and Tuvok is trying to get them to understand that survival is more important. I'm pretty sure the Maquis have retreated once or twice during their skirmishes. Doughy one ups Tuvok on missing the point in petulantly telling him “I guess we just aren't Starfleet material.”

Finally, Tuvok himself retreats to the mess hall to contemplate his options and Neelix confronts him to offer some unsolicited advice. Neelix' behaviour has mellowed some in the wake of “Jetrel,” and so the interplay with Tuvok is actually balanced in this scene. He recognises Tuvok's sullen mood even through those Vulcan filters and Tuvok admits he's having troubles. Because he's being written like an obtuse moron this episode, he can't seem to figure out why his time-honoured methods aren't working, failing to note that his “cadets” are adults who never wanted to join Starfleet, two factors he's never had to deal with. Neelix has a convenient metaphor on his countertop to make the obvious point: Tuvok needs to be more flexible with these people than he would be with a class of Wesleys and Nogs. It's also revealed that Neelix has made some cheese with that alien milk they brought aboard. Tuvok surmises that the bacteria in the cheese is responsible for their gelpack issues.

Act 4 : .5 stars, 17%

As they investigate the cheese—Jesus—the lights start flickering again, indicating more tech failures. Ah, but that doesn't stop Tuvok from running Chez Sandrine's in the holodeck for a game of pool with Crewman Doughy. Doughy is hostile and stupid in the face of Tuvok's clumsy attempts at diplomacy. Doughy's response to Tuvok's question about his life story...

DALBY: We lived on the Bajoran frontier. It was a hard life. I coped by getting into a lot of trouble. I was angry at everybody and everything, till a woman came along and taught me about love. For a while, I wasn't angry any more. Three Cardassians raped her and smashed her skull. I joined the Maquis and tried to slaughter as many of them as I could find.

This backstory couldn't be more hackneyed and cliché-ridden if it were in a telanovela. This is further hindered by Armand Schultz' horrendous performance. This plot cheese (in contrast to the literal plot cheese) continues until Doughy storms out with the petulant “and I don't want to be your friend!” Ugh.

Anyway the other plot cheese is under examination by the EMH in sickbay, whose one-liners are mildly amusing. Kes hits on the idea that the bacteria are actually hosting a viral infection, which explains how they escaped detection, but little else in this silly plot is. Well, the ship's failing systems are getting out of hand now, as Tuvok and his cadets end up stuck in the cargo bay, the engines, life support, the transporters, etc. all go off line. In the cargo bay, the manual override to the door is “offline.” Um...what?

Act 5 : .5 stars 17%

Sigh...the doctor tells Janeway that she needs to give the ship a fever to fight off the infection. You've got to be kidding me. Unless the gelpacks have their own immune system and white blood cells, this is totally pointless. Well, that seems to be our theme this week, so tally ho. Oh and, I guess communications are only out to Tuvok's group, so Janeway has Torres turn the warp engines on to superheat the ship, leading to panic in the cargo bay. Side effects from the fever are fucking shit up, eventually leading to some sort of plasma explosion. The Bajoran kid ends up injured and unconscious as the bay fills up with toxic gas. Tuvok forces the remaining trio out through the jeffries tube but stays behind to rescue the kid. Before he can complete his rescue, he's overwhelmed by the plasma gas and passes out. But the trio pry the door open from outside and rescue them, which I guess is supposed to be dramatic, and we get another couplet of cliché:

TUVOK: I recently realised that there are times when it is desirable to bend the rules.
DALBY: Lieutenant, if you can learn to bend the rules, I guess we can learn to follow them.

[BANGS HEAD ON TABLE]

Episode as Functionary : *, 10%

I have to agree with some above that, while the cheese-danger plot is perfunctory and dumb, it's less a problem than the A-plot. As I have said many times, the Maquis' existence is a totally contrivance that was never sufficiently-justified in-Universe. As such, the writers have to fall back on the most tired of clichés for the characterisation of these Maquis crewmen, they're rowdy and antagonistic just because. I can understand them not holding much water for Starfleet procedures—even Janeway herself has shown since the pilot that she isn't exactly a letter-of-the-law kind of officer—but they needed to show some sort of tangible consequence to going off book besides Janeway having her holodeck time interrupted. This is compounded by the guest actors being really, really awful, except for Derek McGrath's Bolian.

Tuvok's characterisation is horrendous in most of this story, coming across as obtuse bordering on idiotic, which is especially egregious for a Vulcan. How can the master of logic be so ignorant of basic ideas, especially that adult people might respond better to respectful dialogue than army field sergeant bombast? I don't even accept the idea that this kind of hyper-masculine military-style training goes on at the Academy. I don't picture Wesley or Troi or Bashir putting up with it, but at least they would have *asked* for the training. The only thing which rescues him is Russ' pitch-perfect Vulcan delivery and the scene with Neelix, which isn't so bad.

As far as the danger plot, it's like someone saw the dialogue and said, “Cheese? Why yes! Cheese!” The action ending is so tired and tedious and stupid that it's a chore to sit through. All of this leads to a conclusion that doesn't really resolve the conflict—how does Tuvok risking his life, violating protocol demonstrate to the Maquis that sometimes protocols should be adhered to? As I've said, I'm not treating this like the season finale because it was never designed or filmed to be, but in 1995, this must have been a huge let-down for this promising new series.

Final Score : *
Luke
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
@Elliott

"...but in 1995, this must have been a huge let-down for this promising new series."

I actually remember watching this back in 1995 when it first premiered and I can assure it was indeed that.... a huge letdown. For all the flack VOY gets (some richly deserved, in my opinion) VOY Season One is actually really enjoyable on the whole. I've always thought the show had the strongest opening season of them all (I'm not counting "Discovery" - I haven't seen a single episode and have no desire to). If I ever get around to continuing my reviews I'd be interested to see how the first season actually does stack up against the others.

I am confused about one thing you wrote, however....

"Chakotay enters and confronts the group. Doughy says they're just going to do things “the Maquis way,” whatever the fuck that means. Well, apparently “the Maquis way” is actually “the Sisko way,” as Chakotay just decks him right out of his chair, warning him that further insubordination like this will just incur further punches. Beltran gives a good performance here, but I have to say, I fucking hate this. First of all, what if it was Henley (the girl with the headband) who had given his little Braveheart speech? Would Chakotay have punched her in the face? Or the Bajoran kid? This isn't the 60s. Kirk is dead—let's just let the machismo die already, unless the Maquis have decided to abandon sexual equality along with common sense. Heh. Tell that to B'Ellana."

Are you saying that obviously he shouldn't punch Henley? Because if you want sexual equality, then yes, he should be willing to punch her just as readily as he punches Dalby. Or are you saying that nobody should be punching anybody (FYI, I agree completely, if that is what you're saying)?

What bothers me most about this episode is the discrepancy between how the Maquis are treated and how Neelix is treated. Dalby messes with a gel-pack in order to fix it and inadvertently interferes with a couple of minor ship's systems (most notably being Janeway's holonovel). What's the punishment for this? He and three other Maquis, who weren't even involved in the gel-pack disruptions, are put through a grueling training program in other to "whip them into shape". Neelix, on the other hand, through sheer fucking incompetence, not only damages ALL the gel-packs but in so doing threatens the entire ship. What is his punishment? Oh, that's right, he's not punished at all! He's not forced to endure 10K runs with the gravity increased or made to clean the entire transporter room with a futuristic toothbrush. He sure isn't forced to adhere to every single minute detail of Starfleet uniform standards. All we basically get is.... "Oh, that's just our Neelix. Isn't he such a character? Hyuck hyuck!"

Gee, I wonder why the Maquis are having trouble adapting to life on this ship. One of them commits a small breach of protocol and four of them are singled out for rigorous "reeducation". And when they, quite rightly, point out the ludicrous nature of the punishment, they're physically assaulted by their own captain. Neelix, however, can jeopardize the lives of everyone onboard and not even get a slap on the wrist because, apparently, he has some kind of special, protected status.
Elliott
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 9:03pm (UTC -6)
Hi Luke

I have no great love for Neelix, but I do think there’s a difference between causing disaster by accident and deliberately disrupting ship’s systems. I also don’t think the training was meant to be a punishment, and if Tuvok hadn’t been written so stupidly, the training would have worked out a little better. You do raise an interesting point that it’s odd that everybody except for Kes and Neelix were conscripted into Starfleet. We see that Neelix has certain authority over the food stores and what not, too. I think that’s the more egregious oversight.

As to your first point, I definitely think that the punch just shouldn’t have happened, but I would have been slightly less miffed if they had had the balls to have Chakotay punch Henley, but there is no way the producers were going to let that happen.
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
This is borderline off-topic, but:

"This isn't the 60s. Kirk is dead—let's just let the machismo die already, unless the Maquis have decided to abandon sexual equality along with common sense."

For the record, as much as they did include fight scenes regularly to appease the network, Kirk in general is remarkably unwilling to use violence if he can avoid it. As quick as he can be to throw a punch, it's always in a scenario where he has calculated that it's his only move. I don't think I can recall an instance of Kirk resorting to any kind of machismo, and actually I tend to think of him as a cold tactician who allows himself to be seen as other things for the sake of public charisma. Sisko, for instance, is way more pugilistic by nature than Kirk. Kirk uses violence as a tool, but not to show off or anything. /rant
William B
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 11:01am (UTC -6)
@Elliott,

You are correct that, absent a clear guiding mission for the Maquis, the writers resort to...they're disorganized and unruly??? They make all their decisions by punching???

Anyway as we've discussed, it does seem like a weird decision to make the Maquis be this major figure in the show when their main areas of disagreement with the Federation are (apparently) specific to the DMZ. Even if we accept (as you certainly don't, and I don't think I do) that their position is valid within the DMZ, it is no longer relevant in the DQ. However, Peter has pointed out that there are inklings here and there of what might motivate the Maquis to different philosophical positions, and I think it maybe suggests a direction the show *could* have explored.

Peter occasionally has mentioned that on DS9 they occasionally play with the "they love the land" tropes with the Maquis, Eddington talks about growing his own vegetables and is sentimental enough about local concerns to have a Canadian loonie (symbol of an old nation state of mine -- we know from Lower Decks at least that Canada is still a distinct region, and also it links national identity and economy to a part of nature). But even without further embellishment in details, the basic Maquis plight can be boiled down to: they liked their homes. So they didn't want to leave them. They didn't want to leave *those* planets. They wanted to settle, and then, when asked to resettle, they said no because they liked the places they were staying, and didn't beleive they should be forced off.

Putting aside moral judgments, this maybe comes down to that the Maquis are colonists, settlers, pioneers NOT explorers. Which means that their perspective on "home" is going to be different from a Starfleet crew, where, recall, every person on that crew wanted to be in Starfleet, with the possible exception of Paris (who took it as a less-bad option) and the EMH (whose wants weren't really considered to exist). So maybe this should have been the fault line: explorers versus nesters. The Maquis crew could have been torn between their desire to settle on nearby land and their desire to get back to their own planet, but they should have, on average, had less interest in exploration than the Starfleet crew.

Except that of course, the main Maquis we see are ex- Starfleet, either washed out or left on purpose, and Seska was a Cardassian spy. So, there's that.

Anyway I guess the conflict between the explorer spirit and the homesteader could have been a way to integrate the Maquis concept into the show's situation. But even there, it's not clear how it would have gone -- I mean, the Maquis would be less interested in exploring random anomalies, I guess, but at the same time, both Starfleet and Maquis want to get back to the AQ, and whether they want to get back to see their families between exploration missions or to grow their own corn or whatever wouldn't really be a big source of drama. The only real difference would be if they had different takes on what to do about opportunities to colonize, or if the Maquis crew were "fighting for their homes" specifically because they hated the thought of being cooped up on a ship for a long time, and saw their Maquis raiding as a necessary evil to regain their vast open expanses. It might not have worked dramatically but I was just thinking about it.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 11:53am (UTC -6)
@ William B,

"So maybe this should have been the fault line: explorers versus nesters."

I think you could even broaden this and liken it to "lprogressive versus conservative." I don't mean in terms of any American political connotations, but just that some people prefer to keep and honor what came before, and some prefer to adventure off and change things. A Federation ethos certainly has room for both, since Federation principles are generally held us as unassailable - something akin to a conservative principle, while on the other hand we certainly see a tendency to hail new accomplishments, colonies, and cultural understandings as being a good thing (a progressive delight). I see the Maquis as being the conservative side, cautious about losing important things in the name of progress, whereas the 'Starfleet side' (if it's fair to call it that) would seem to be about exploring strange new worlds, which in terms of culture means changing yourselves regularly.

This could also be compared to the Jean-Luc and Robert Picard dispute, which I think is dealt with excellently in Family in the aftermath of BoBW. The same issue is *apparently* in play with Maquis vs Federation/Starfleet, and that would have been enough to justify a philosophical difference. For instance, the Maquis might have been resistant to 'tech' solutions to things that could be solved through, let's say, plain hard work. Or maybe there could have been a conflict between the prime directive versus empathy in the Maquis wanting to interfere and help people.
Elliott
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 2:53pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

I actually brought this up in my review of "The Maquis I," and I quote (myself):

"In the Federation, farming is a vocation. Robert Picard's family will not starve if he stops making wine because he doesn't need to sell the wine. He does it because it's fulfilling work to him."

Right now, thanks to the internet, I can learn how to code a website, or work clay into pottery, or make cheese. I'm not saying there isn't a value in people practising anachronistic traditions for their own sake, but the idea that progress and history are opposing forces is, I think, a fallacy. A big part of exploration, after all, is anthropology.

Anyway, it would have been enough for Voyager just to have people on board serving in the uniform who didn't have the training or discipline. Beyond that, I don't see the point beyond contriving unnecessary conflict.
Elliott
Mon, Oct 29, 2018, 11:40am (UTC -6)
Jammer doesn't have a Season 1 write-up for Voyager, so I'm going to put this here.

No. Title (x/10) [Jammer +/-]

***.5 Excellent (truly enjoyable)
1. Projections (9) [-.5]
2. Eye of the Needle (9) [+.5]
3. Faces (8.5) [=]

*** Good (solid instalment)
4. Prime Factors (8) [-.5]
5. Jetrel (8) [=]
6. Phage (7) [=]
7. State of Flux (7) [-.5]
8. Emanations (7) [+1]

**.5 Okay (problems, worthwhile)
9. Caretaker (6.5) [-.5]
10. Parallax (6) [=]

** Watchable (not good, not awful)
11. Ex Post Facto (5.5) [=]
12. The 37s (5) [-.5]
13. Heroes and Demons (5) [-1]
14. The Cloud (5) [-1]

* Terrible (do not watch)
15. Learning Curve (3) [-1.5]
16. Time and Again (3) [-1]
17. Elogium (3) [-.5]

.5 stars, Horrendous (watch ironically)
19.(tie) Cathexis (2) [-1]
19.(tie) Twisted (2) [-.5]

Average : 2.3136 stars (6/10) [-7.5]

Authors across all series and films thus far reviewed (# of stores), Average out of 10

Fields (7) 8.5
Coyle (2) 8
Echevarria (2.5) 7
Moore (5.5) 7
Wolfe (8) 6
Trombetta (5) 6
Bader (3.5) 6
J. Taylor (1.5) 6
Braga (5.5) 5.5
Biller (3.5) 5.5
Somers (2) 5
Shankar (1) 5
Gendel (2) 5
Crocker (2.5) 5
Behr (8.5) 5
Piller (6.5) 5
Menosky (2.5) 4

Season Shape (10pt scale):

1 ******.5
2 ******
3 ***
4 *******.5
5 *****
6 *********
7 *****.5
8 *******
9 ********
10 *******
11 *****
12 **
13 ********.5
14 ********
15 ***
16 *********
17 ***
18 **
19 *****

Interestingly, Voyager's first season has a similar problem to DS9's concurrent 3rd; 5 out of 19 episodes are awful, compared to DS9's 6 out of 26. What buoys things up is the relative lack of mediocre episodes. Voyager has 6 out of 19, while DS9 had 12 out of 26 (almost half!). Most of the credit for the unusually strong first season belongs to the handling of the characters. Even in lame episodes like “The Cloud,” the character work and—I can't stress this enough—the acting from the principle cast is usually excellent. While nothing so far has reached the heights of DS9's four-star outings (“Duet,” “Necessary Evil” and “Improbable Cause”), Voyager seems much more confident in its storytelling than DS9 or TNG did during their freshman seasons. What ultimately ends up weighing things down is an almost total lack of effort into the sci-fi plots. “Heroes and Demons,” “The 37s” and “Parallax” could have been great if not for the brain-dead technobabble which undergirded the character stories. We also endured two episodes that challenge “Move Along Home” and “Fascination” for worst garbage yet reviewed. So far, no season of DS9 has produced more than one episode below one star.

Trends :

--One of the problems with all of the mindless sci-fi plots, especially in those episodes which focus heavily upon them (technobabble), is that the roles of the crew are often sort of taken for granted. Paris especially just seems to excel at at his job. Now, that's fine, but wouldn't any of the other Starfleet or Maquis officers resent having a fucking criminal promoted to chief pilot? They took a little time for Torres (“Parallax”), Janeway (“The Cloud”), the EMH (“Projections”), and Chakotay (“State of Flux”), but there is too much we are just supposed to assume about the way this crew learns to operate in this new circumstance.

--Generally speaking, the show has a good handle on the Trek ethos. The PD was the only aspect of “Time and Again” which worked alright, and I think the juxtaposition of Chakotay's beliefs (despite some problems in construction regarding the First Nations people from which they are borrowed) and the excellent deconstruction of the afterlife in “Emanations” shows that the writers actually understand what religion is in this series, which is refreshing. Probably the best example of Trek is in “Prime Factors,” where the Sikarians are set up to be an alt-Federation, but ultimately without deeply-held values or inviolate principles. That episode also highlights the fact that Janeway has not yet found a way to unite the crew around these values, focusing instead upon the scientific dilemma of the week. Janeway needs to be more than a competent scientist and forceful personality; she needs to be a community-leader, as was discussed in “Elogium.” We haven't seen much evidence that she has accomplished this goal (“State of Flux”), making the conclusion in “The 37s” feel very shallow.

--The problems with the Maquis' backstory loom large over the season, leading to some odd choices. In lieu of a clear motivation or rationale, the Maquis conflict which was “supposed” to drive the series is replaced by characterising these people as thuggish, violent anachronisms (“Parallax,” “Learning Curve”). Honestly, I think we could have put the Maquis issues to bed after “State of Flux.” Seska stoked conflict between the former Maquis and Starfleet for her own purposes. With her gone, I think things should settle down. And the conclusion of “Learning Curve” was cartoonishly silly.

Characters (in order from best to worst):

Janeway

In Kate Mulgrew's capable hands, Janeway is quite impressive this season. Unlike Sisko, her flaws as a leader don't lead to maddening characterisation. Rather, whenever Janeway is confronted by a difficult choice (“Caretaker,” “Phage,” “Prime Factors,” “The 37s”), she takes the time to be introspective about her decisions, expressing doubt and regret. This makes a world of difference. We also see the seeds of Janeway making her command decisions overly personal. The real tension aboard this ship isn't about Maquis v. Starfleet, it's about whether the Voyager is a Starfleet vessel or a Federation community. My major criticism would be that her holonovel hobby adds nothing to the character (and is a chore to sit through).

EMH

Every single scene with Robert Picardo (well, maybe except a couple in “Twisted”) is worth the price of admission. The Doctor's position within the cast allows him to be reliable comic relief while developing character, most of the time. I LOVE the idea of introducing him to human mythology and art in “Heroes and Demons.” They played with this idea with Data, but usually that was about Data figuring out emotions (“Birthright” being a notable exception). For the Doctor, who already has emotions, it's about creating a psyche. Indeed, the Doctor demonstrates that he has created a psychology in the season's best outing, “Projections.”

Torres

When she isn't sidelined with spouting the technobabble à la Geordi, Torres proves to be very effective. Her emotional problems have a depth that at least line up with the bizarre Maquis characterisation, leading to a satisfying arc between “Parallax” and “Prime Factors.” Of course, the standout Torres episode is “Faces,” which introduces the theme of self-hatred very early in the series, and Dawson's impressive skills are on full display.

Tuvok

Tuvok is best when he's interacting with Janeway, their often-alluded-to history working about as well as the Dax-Sisko relationship in the early days, but with the interesting twist that Tuvok actually *is* the emotionally aloof character the writers were pretending Dax would be. This is put to especially good use in “Ex Post Facto” (far less so in “Learning Curve” where's he's portrayed like an obtuse idiot). “Prime Factors” and “Elogium” offer an excellent peak at the character, revealing the deep affection he has buried beneath that Vulcan exterior.

Chakotay

The animal spirit guide stuff, as I explained in “Caretaker,” is bunk. It isn't a major focus this season, but it does seem like the writers might fall back on Chakotay's heritage instead of characterising him as a person. I am one who did not care for that punch in “Learning Curve” at all. I do like that Chakotay is the only character to show open contempt for Neelix throughout the season, proving Beltran has a lot of range to work with.

Seska

Although she appeared in several episodes, only “Prime Factors” and “State of Flux” developed this interesting character, providing a pretty promising antagonist for Season 2. Her ability to manipulate people, by adopting the superficial values of those around her, figuratively AND literally, make her a good foil for Janeway and Chakotay, who are trying to reconcile their values and provide leadership to the crew.

Paris

Paris got a lot of development early on. The whole bad boy with a heart of gold thing is pretty hackneyed, but Robby MacNeil manages to keep the character feeling human. His friendship with Harry is pretty endearing, but the one-liners from the helm tend to be hit or miss. The ladies' man thing isn't a problem per sae, but it does highlight how sexless the rest of the cast seems to be. They tried correcting that in “Elogium” which....yeah.

Kes

Kes is suffering a bit from the same problems as Jadzia. The writers are more interested in her budding mental powers (“Time and Again,” “Cathexis”) than in who she is. She does have some nice scenes with the EMH, but these are mostly to his benefit, not hers. There is a lot of potential with the character. Her weird relationship with Neelix coupled with her insatiable curiosity (“Caretaker,” “The Cloud,” “Eye of the Needle”) establish her as someone whose intelligence and ability end up masked by her self-perception as an “innocent.” It's an interesting counterpoint to Janeway that Kes seems to remain in the shadow of her male counterparts (Neelix, the EMH). The one exception to this was in “Jetrel,” where a vulnerable and complex Neelix allowed Kes to be afforded some much-needed agency. Of course, this was ignored in “Twisted,” which did nobody any favours. I hope that the writers will follow through with her and allow her to “see the sunlight.”

Kim

“Emanations” was a good episode, and made use of Harry's position as the green Starfleet officer, but we haven't seen any growth from him, whatever Janeway tacked on in “Twisted.” His presence is not unwelcome (“Prime Factors”), but he feels a bit more like a piece of furniture than a character.

Neelix

“Jetrel” was very good. Nearly everything else this season involving Neelix was not. The subplot about his growing jealousy towards Tom, coupled with the super creepy relationship he has with Kes is particularly egregious. Focusing on Neelix' dark side seems to be the best way to get at the heart of the character, and allows Ethan Phillips to do quite well. When he's the bumbling ship's clown, these antics need to be kept to a minimum. Please.
Iceman
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 8:17am (UTC -6)
@Elliott-Have you given an episode a perfect 10? Is there a Trek episode that you think is perfect from start-to-finish?
Elliott
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 10:03am (UTC -6)
@Iceman:

Not yet! I've only done 3 seasons of DS9 and one of Voyager, though. The highest-scoring episode so far is Duet with a 9.575. There are a small handful of episodes I'm expecting to give 10s to, but probably not in the upcoming seasons.
Iceman
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 3:47pm (UTC -6)
I was quite surprised that "Duet", "Necessary Evil", and "Improbable Cause" didn't get perfect 10s, I have to admit. "Duet", for its ending; the other two I can't really nitpick anything. There's not really a single scene wasted in any of them (imo).

As to upcoming seasons...yeah. Voyager Seasons 2 and 3 are awful. DS9 Seasons 4 are the most consistently good seasons of DS9, but maybe don't contain the very best of the series or Trek. I fully expect 10s for "Far Beyond the Stars" and "Tacking Into the Wind" though! ;)
Elliott
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 4:41pm (UTC -6)
@Iceman

Looking back at my review for “Duet,” there were two flaws: Sisko allowing Kira to investigate Marritza, despite her clear lack of objectivity, and Quark making a joke about the survivors of a death camp. So that most the episode roughly a fifth of a star. I know it’s nit picky, but that’s how I’m treating these. I feel like 10/10 episodes have to meet extremely high bars. I’ll say that “Far Beyond the Stars” is one of my favourite episodes of any television series ever made.
Iceman
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 6:37pm (UTC -6)
I also strongly disliked the Quark gambling line. It was very distasteful and out of place, especially considering the real world parallels. I didn't have a problem with the latter though-I felt like Sisko knew it wasn't a smart decision and he just did it as a personal favor to her. But neither of these things impacted it that much-you still heaped praise on it, so I don't disagree strongly.

" I’ll say that “Far Beyond the Stars” is one of my favourite episodes of any television series ever made. "

I concur. I watched it fairly recently, and it's hard to explain what makes it so great-but it is unquestionably (well, looking at the comment section for Jammer's review, maybe not, but still) great.

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