Star Trek: Voyager

"Future's End, Part I"

3.5 stars

Air date: 11/6/1996
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I won't sacrifice this ship and crew based on a ten-second conversation. I need proof!" — Janeway, displaying prudence

Nutshell: A refreshing, entertaining hour. Rather effectively plotted and paced. In short, a good setup.

I'll admit that, months ago, when I first heard about the premise for "Future's End" I wasn't exactly enthused about it. It sounded like a desperate stab by the Voyager writers—a rehash of the Star Trek IV concept of putting Trekkian characters in a contemporary time period and milking it for all the ideals contrasting it's worth.

Fortunately, I got something I wasn't expecting—a solidly written, fast-paced, plot-driven episode characterized by some memorable sequences.

All that plus a refreshing, interesting array of time travel machinations.

Let me also admit this: I'm a sucker for time travel plots when they dare to get as crazy as "Future's End" does. On my list of favorite movies is the gleefully entertaining Back to the Future Part II. That film was a lot of fun because the characters were constantly zipping in and out of different time periods, creating and resolving problems based on the reliable sci-fi idea of the time paradox. "Future's End," similarly, also piles paradoxes onto the plot with little regard for linear logic or, for that matter, even common sense. I think that's the point, and the reason why time travel stories are effective—they're based on a reality that can't possibly be understood because, as Captain Braxton (Allan G. Royal) of the 29th century notes, "A is to B is to C is to A." (Quick aside: Between this two-parter, DS9's "Trials and Tribble-ations," and the rapidly approaching First Contact, it would seem that if there's one thing there's plenty of, it's time travel.)

As the show begins, Voyager is in its usual routine, traveling through the Delta Quadrant. Suddenly a rift opens and a Federation ship emerges. The ship isn't just a ship, but a time ship from the 29th century. The captain is a sort of temporal police officer. He has traveled from the future to destroy Voyager. You see, Voyager is somehow responsible for a temporal explosion that destroys Earth's solar system in the 29th century, killing billions of people. Braxton frantically explains why he has arrived and why he must destroy Voyager. When Janeway demands further explanation and proof, Braxton simply responds, "No time!" and promptly opens fire. Amusingly ironic.

Voyager resists Braxton's weapons with some clever technobabble that inhibits his weapons, and the result is an accident that sends Braxton and the Voyager back to 20th century Earth. Under plot details that I refuse to go into here, the Voyager crew tracks Braxton to Los Angeles (the year, naturally, is 1996). After disguising their ship in orbit and briefly studying the contemporary culture, Janeway and the crew beam down in contemporary clothes to find Braxton.

They find him, but he has aged. As it happens the accident caused him to arrive nearly thirty years earlier, when he crash-landed his time ship somewhere in the High Sierras. He beamed out just before the crash, but before he could retrieve his time ship someone else did: a 20th century man (and now a computer company CEO) named Henry Starling (Ed Begley, Jr.). It's about here where we get the explanation of how A causes B causes C causes A. The story wisely acknowledges the paradox and then doesn't give it a second thought, which is a prudent move under the circumstances. As Braxton lays the plot down for Janeway and for us, we see what this aged character out of place has become: a crazed, raving old lunatic whose single, energetic scene proves very entertaining.

The rest of the episode follows the characters around as they try to track down Henry Starling in L.A. Further plot twists bring a young woman named Raine Robinson (Sarah Silverman) into the picture, whose connections with Starling put her life in jeopardy and could supply Tuvok and Paris with answers. Meanwhile Janeway and Chakotay break into Starling's office and find the stolen time ship, but are captured by Starling and his array of 29th century technology before they can do anything.

One amusing notion here is that the 20th century "computer revolution" shouldn't have happened at all—or maybe it should've always happened. I sure don't know; it's yet another paradox stacked into the deck. Apparently Starling has been responsible for "inventing" all new computer technology for the past several decades, but his technology is all based on stolen information from the future. But how can that future exist without the past having created it? As Janeway puts it, "It all gives me a headache." Paradoxes are fun. Implausible but fun.

In fact, the key to this entire episode is fun. It has a better sense of fun than any Voyager episode I can recall since "Projections." (What else can you say about an episode that ends with the Voyager, zipping across the sky, caught on home video?) The material is not very deep, but I really don't care. It's very well crafted, with plot manipulations that actually make sense. That's important, because this show rides completely on its plot. Plot-driven shows can become tedious or plagued with holes if not deftly written. But the biggest thing "Future's End, Part I" has going for it is its tight, taut, precise plotting. The events follow plausibly from A to B to C, and all the parts fit neatly into place; the story constantly demonstrates that it knows not only what is happening but why events follow from other events.

Pacing is also a strength here. The show does not waste time on events that don't progress the narrative—and every scene here zips along and proves entertaining on a story level. Case in point: Janeway and the crew are beamed down to L.A. by the end of the first act; the story knows where it wants to go and goes there, without wasting time on meaningless dialog or action.

The characterizations aren't nearly as urgent as the plot workings here, but they're relevant, and I'll quickly mention a few of them:

  • Ed Begley, Jr. makes an effective villain—a conniving creep with a look on his face like he's better than everyone else. Plus he's smarter than he initially appears (always a good quality for a bad guy), as shown by his ability to use Braxton's 29th century technology against the Voyager.
  • Sarah Silverman as Raine Robinson did not impress me. Sure, she's cute and all, but her unconvincing line delivery in scenes with Tuvok and Paris became very annoying very fast.
  • The teaming of the various Voyager characters worked quite well. Janeway and Chakotay showed very promising signs of camaraderie (did I even hear him call her "Kathryn"?). Tuvok and Paris worked well together, as did Kim and Torres back on board the Voyager. Nice work.

This show is merely setup, but it's good setup. It swiftly and effectively establishes and fleshes out all the important characters and presents the problems with calm precision. Hopefully the second half can just as skillfully resolve the problems that this half has presented.

Previous episode: Sacred Ground
Next episode: Future's End, Part II

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83 comments on this post

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AJ Koravkrian
Sat, Nov 10, 2007, 11:31pm (UTC -5)
"You stay where you are....quasi Cardassian totalitarian!!" -Braxton to a 20th century policeman.
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Jay
Sat, Aug 1, 2009, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
What stood out in this episode is the concept that, in the 29th century, we are to trust these humans with being the caretakers of the timeline, and they actually sent someone back to destroy an entire vessel and its crew, but then to discover...oops, we were wrong, it isn't Voyager's fault.

Color me less than confident in the caretakers of the future.
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navamske
Wed, Aug 12, 2009, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
Great dialogue:

"I've got a starship in orbit that could destroy this building."
(Chortling) "And you with it!"
"If necessary."
"Captain -- you've got some cojones."
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AJ Krovarkrian
Sat, Sep 12, 2009, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
My favorite dialog-

Janeway: "She could be my great-great-great-great great grandmother".
Chakotay: "She does have your legs."

um, sure. that's not inappropriate, just the usual way they talk.
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Derek
Mon, Sep 14, 2009, 8:04am (UTC -5)
Just watched this for the first time, not sure how I missed it way back when. I've only ever known as "the one I haven't seen where they go to the 90s and Doc gets his mobile emitter." Pretty fun episode, but it's even more annoying than usual hearing the "sonic wallpaper" music in 20th century scenes like the teaser. Duuuuuum, duuuuuum, duuuuum "Far out!"

Also, I laughed out loud watching Starling on his computer near the end; he was just mashing asdf;lkajsdf;lkajsd;fklj then hitting enter. His 29th century technology is so advanced it only needs the home row!
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Nic
Thu, Feb 4, 2010, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
I can't resist adding more dialogue:

RAIN: What the hell did you do to my computer? It is screwed up! The hard drive is wiped!
PARIS: I don't have time to explain.
RAIN: Who are you people and [points to Tuvok] what is that thing in your pants?
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Firestone
Tue, Jun 1, 2010, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
While we're at it:

Paris to Rain: Your curves don't look so right.


These writers must have been in a particularly sexual mood...
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Matthias
Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 4:32am (UTC -5)
Gangsta ass Tuvok, illest emcee in two quadrants.
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Jay
Sat, Sep 3, 2011, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
@ all the people quoting stuff...it must be the trip to contemporary Earth that does i t. In STIV, the characters said stuff (like "double dumbass on you" for example) that they'd never otherwise say...
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Shane
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 5:56am (UTC -5)
I enjoyed this episode immensely when it first aired. Time travel was always fun (even though now I tend dislike it because of the massive flaws in logic often brought about). I've also been to the Santa Monica pier and it's fun seeing the sites on the show. There's plenty of fun stuff. Plenty of flaws. At the very least it's one of Voyager's more memorable two-parters.
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T'Paul
Mon, Sep 9, 2013, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Before commenting on the ep., I'd like to point out the number of 3.5s Jammer gives Voyager... seems a wee bit unfair to hold off just half a point for otherwise excellent episodes... especially when in his reviews for these 3.5 episodes Jammer is usually fairly generous in his praise.
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Jay
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 9:32am (UTC -5)
I thought it was rather absurd (and frankly, insulting to the audience) that we needed the explicit screenshot of Starling's tattoo to be "informed" that this was the same guy that said "Far Out" in the teaser.
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Caine
Mon, Oct 21, 2013, 4:18pm (UTC -5)
I ... HATE ... time travel episodes ...

Time paradoxes never end up making any sense at all, slapping you in the face with glaring holes in the logic.

That said, I was entertained by this pretty charming, somewhat well paced episode.

The two best things about these two episodes, to me, were:

1) The dialogue - lots of fun one-liners!

2) Sarah Silverman as Rain Robinson. Her charisma and attitude really lit up the screen! Her on-screen chemistry with Paris worked realy well, as far as I'm concerned.
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Jons
Tue, Nov 26, 2013, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
Like Caine, I hate time travel episodes and storylines, which indeed never make any sense and always end up being illogical.

However I never saw this when it aired, on account of my having been just 7 at the sime, so I found it rather hilarious. I felt almost closer to Janeway and the rest of the crew, watching the 1990's and their understanding of technology. And I don't mean (just) the characters in the episode - I mean the people who wrote it in the first place. The concept that downloading something (here called mistakenly "upload" because you know... the ship is up!!) causes it to flash on screen is really funny. As is the suggestion that anyone like Sterling could somehow override security codes etc. of a ship 4 centuries older than he is is also hilarious. Can you imagine Henry the VIII suddenly hacking into an ipad? That makes absolutely no sense.

But it was (is) a very entertaining episode.
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Vylora
Sun, Aug 24, 2014, 8:25pm (UTC -5)
The beginning of the episode is pure horseshit. Apparently going back in time to destroy a spaceship lost in the Delta Quadrant is the way the writers would have the 29th century Federation handle things. Forget any other options. Plus isn't 1996 around when the Eugenics Wars was supposed to be taking place? I hardly doubt that life during something that major would be business as usual. Maybe it would be in some places, but there's not even a mention of it.

Despite those major blunders, this is, admittedly, quite an enjoyable episode that shows more of Voyager's adventurous comedic side that it does just as well as in the other series. The characterizations are spot-on and the dialogue filled with great quips and one-liners. The final scenes with Voyager in the night sky were gorgeous and a fantastic setup ending. An excellent guest cast drives it all home.

Could've been great if the setup wasn't dismal and insulting. However, it also shows what can go right when given a little bit of thought. A bit on the fence with this one, but, I will give it the benefit of the doubt based on what Voyager as a series has taught me to expect from it.

3 stars.
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Jack
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 10:18am (UTC -5)
The *how can the future computer technology exist without the past having created it* "paradox" can be dismissed if you consider that the 24th century computer technology was largely the doing of a Federation race other than humans. If, say, it's the Vulcans that were at the forefront of such technology (remember that fancy Kir'Shara in Season4 ENT that would date back to Earth's 4th century), then 20th century Earth needn't have much to do with it.
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bhbor
Mon, Apr 20, 2015, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
I couldn't help but think how Paris and Tuvok came off like a gay couple when Tom laid into Sarah Silverman about obscure B-Movies and promptly shot her down. That and the shirt he was wearing.
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Eli
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 1:53am (UTC -5)
So much fun!
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SlackerInc
Sat, Jul 11, 2015, 12:55am (UTC -5)
"Sarah Silverman as Rain Robinson. Her charisma and attitude really lit up the screen! Her on-screen chemistry with Paris worked realy well, as far as I'm concerned."

I totally agree with Caine (and disagree with Jammer). She was great, and learning from Wikipedia that she impressed Braga so much he almost made her part of the crew, I was retroactively disappointed he decided against it.

"Plus isn't 1996 around when the Eugenics Wars was supposed to be taking place? I hardly doubt that life during something that major would be business as usual. Maybe it would be in some places, but there's not even a mention of it."

Vylora, are you joking with this? Surely you're not expecting them to hold to the same timeline of events from the TOS when the actual time period arrives with no Eugenics Wars.
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Yanks
Wed, Aug 12, 2015, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Get's on soap box.

Why doesn't Braxton just go back, say a year ago, and take Yoyager back to the Alpha Quadrant?

Steps down.

That said, you could say the same for any number of time travel episodes in all sci-fi, not trek.

Aside from that, this is a great episode. Enter Voyager's great 2 part episodes.

I benefited from Braxtons explanation :-)

I liked Sarah (midriff) Silverman here, too bad she turned into such a bitch.

Classic lines all throughout.

Great pace.

3.5 stars from me.
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Robert
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 7:47am (UTC -5)
"Why doesn't Braxton just go back, say a year ago, and take Yoyager back to the Alpha Quadrant?"

Wouldn't he wreck the Delta Quadrant's history that way?
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Yanks
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 9:34am (UTC -5)
He's already ready to kill everyone onboard to save billions of lives and a solar system, is going back and just removing them worse?
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Robert
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 9:39am (UTC -5)
As much as I hate to defend the logical integrity of a Voyager episode....

He's not altering the past because he doesn't like the future. That would be (as far as I can tell) a violation of the temporal prime directive.

"Your vessel is responsible for a disaster in my century. A temporal explosion that will destroy all Earth's solar system. I've come back in time to prevent that occurrence. My mission is your destruction. You must not resist."

He's going back in time to take out Voyager because they messed with the timeline somehow (from his perspective). I imagine going back to last week and preventing whatever they did last week and how it affected the Delta Quadrant is ALSO a violation of the temporal prime directive.
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Yanks
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 11:22am (UTC -5)
"I imagine going back to last week and preventing whatever they did last week and how it affected the Delta Quadrant is ALSO a violation of the temporal prime directive."

"Also" being the point.

Buy hey, we can nit-pick time travel episodes/paradox's to no end :-)
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Anna
Thu, Nov 19, 2015, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
OMG... Rain? Really? ANd they had to get someone who talks like a highschool girl. RUINED both episodes. Unwatchable. Can't stand that woman.
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petulant
Fri, Dec 18, 2015, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Where was Khan?
Where was the Eugenics war?
wasn't that supposed to be happening in 1996?
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Robert
Fri, Dec 18, 2015, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
@petulant - They should have just owned the weird error and had ST not take place in our timeline.
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MartinB
Thu, Dec 24, 2015, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Loved this episode. But the thing I liked most, a silly thing really, was Starling's company name. "Chronowerx" = "Time Works" and the logo is the 29th century commbadge. Both an admission of where his company originated from. It was called out, which was nice, it was just there to be noticed.

On the Eugenics Wars; I think given that Khan was not American and he described himself as a "prince", the Eugenics Wars were mostly likely happening around the Middle East and probably wouldn't have affected day-to-day life in the west so much if indeed they were happening at this time. If it wasn't for the desktop model of Botany Bay in Rain's office (although it could be a prototype for the DY-100 not specifically Khan's ship), I'd rather date the Eugenics Wars as mid to late 21st century, possibly even coinciding, or even being the cause of, World War III. Some mention of it though, either being on going or what afffect it'd have on California when it does happen, would have been a nice tie in to TOS.

And seen as we're on with time travel, forget the 29th century people returning Voyager home, why can't they just slingshot around the sun as Kirk did several times while they're at Earth?
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Diamond Dave
Wed, Jan 27, 2016, 6:30am (UTC -5)
The Voyage Home without the laughs? Nah, that's probably a bit harsh. On the positive side we have a fast pace, some snappy dialogue, some good crew interactions and a strong guest cast. On the downside, the normal time travel plotholes and Starling hacking the Voyager better than Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day.

Crazy Braxton is a bit of a classic character though. 3 stars.
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Aussie2
Fri, Apr 22, 2016, 5:50pm (UTC -5)
OMG, was that Janice from Friends :-)
Another one that I didn't get to see first time around. (Watched only part 1 so far) Always fun to see how the future crew reacts to (what was then) our current time.
But, haven't we seen all this before in the Star Trek movie when Kirk et al goes back in time to rescue the whales? Right down to the wacky local gal who gets swept up in events, loudly protesting along the way?
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aussie2
Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:48am (UTC -5)
Just came back to correct an error: it wasn't Maggie Wheeler (Janice from Friends) who was in this episode of Voyager but comedian Sarah Silverman. Ooops!
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Shannon
Thu, Jun 30, 2016, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
I can't believe everyone brings up all the time time travel episodes and comparisons and completely forgets the best time travel episode of all "City on the Edge of Forever". I remember watching that on TV as a kid and thinking it was the coolest episode ever. Still one of my top ten out of them all.
Kirk explains Spocks as obviously Chinese and his pointed ears the result of getting his head caught in a automatic rice picker when he was a child. :)
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mephyve
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 7:55pm (UTC -5)
Cool stuff, but Braxton caused the problem he came to solve
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George Monet
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 1:18am (UTC -5)
While I do love Star Trek when it goes back to our present day Earth, the setup for this episode was stupid beyond belief.

Braxton had records of Starfleet's history which would have proven that Voyager could not be involved and would have immediately told him that it was his own meddling which caused the problem. Instantly destroying the ship and crew also made no sense. He had all of time to work with in order to find a solution, he could have gone back 3 months and waited for Voyager, but no, he had to just blowup Voyager here and now. This was such a huge false dichotomy as he had way more options than blowup Voyager this very instant if he truly believed that Voyager was responsible despite the information in the logs he had access to in his computer which he never bothered accessing.

Maybe warning Voyager about not blowing up future Earth would have done the trick. Maybe bringing Voyager back to Earth would have saved Earth. Or forcing Voyager to land and settle on a planet. There was no reason why he had to blowup the ship at that moment and couldn't take time to think of other options.

We also have the problem that even with time travel, there has to be a first pass without interference from the future because the future has not happened yet. You can only have interference from the future after the first pass, which is after the moment has already occurred and is now the actual future. You can't go back to tomorrow until you first reach tomorrow because tomorrow doesn't exist yet.

This paradox in particular is impossible there is no way it ever could have started. Braxton only goes back because he went back, and he only went back because he went back. But what made him go back to that particular time during the first pass? Nothing, therefore he never went back. So Braxton never went back in time because he had no reason to go back in time so he never made the mistake that blewup Earth.

A time paradox is a result of creating a loop in time, where you go back to make a change in time, which prevents you from making a change, which creates the scenario that caused you to go back in the first place to make a change, resulting in you going back to make a change, which prevents you from going back to make a change, at infinitum.

But Braxton doesn't go back to a make a change, he goes back because of a change. That's why the setup doesn't work. Changes cannot happen by themselves, they must be imposed, but Braxton had no reason to go back and make a change. The thing that made Braxton go back only happened because Braxton went back. That is completely backwards.
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George Monet
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 1:30am (UTC -5)
"On the Eugenics Wars; I think given that Khan was not American and he described himself as a "prince", the Eugenics Wars were mostly likely happening around the Middle East and probably wouldn't have affected day-to-day life in the west so much if indeed they were happening at this time. "

You need to read about the experiences of people who lived through World War 2. Even those who weren't on the front, the civilians, had their lives drastically altered both in Europe and in America in order to ensure that there was sufficient food and arms. The Eugenics Wars were supposed to be a world wide war, so there is no way that life would be business as usual.

There is actually an excellent series on Youtube showing how life in England was disrupted by World War 2, called War Time Farm. Indeed England would spend the next 20-30 years slowly dismantling the country wide command economy that resulted by necessity of addressing the shortages and need for greater military production caused by a world wide war. While life in the US was less disrupted, there was still rationing in some areas, women were being recruited to work in factories, there was a great deal of wartime propaganda, large disruptions to the economy from the large amount of soldiers removed from the economy and the conversion of many factories to produce weapons for war.
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George Monet
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 1:37am (UTC -5)
Finally, I'm glad that Starfleet of the 29th century is just as lax about its security protocols as the Starfleet of the 25th century.

A timeship is going to blow itself up if it is forced to go back in time and becomes inoperable specifically to avoid making changes to the timeline. The ship would also have a lock that would prevent someone from opening the ship and gaining access to it in order to prevent unauthorized access to avoid changes to the timeline.

But this timeship has absolutely no security in place to prevent changes to the timeline. That is actually in character for the inept Voyager Starfleet where everyone and their mother can easily bypass Voyager's nonexistent security.
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George Monet
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 2:01am (UTC -5)
Final thought.

Why does no one from the 29th century come back to the 20th century to stop Sterling from gaining access to the timeship and altering time? Isn't preventing changes to the timeline the whole point of the 29th century Starfleet? Yet not one single person comes back in time to the 29th century where the changes are actually going to occur when Sterling studies the 29th century timeship which he shouldn't be able to access because Braxton should have put the ship on self destruct and the ship should have had locks on its doors and the computer should have required one of those unbreakable passwords they used in Star Trek First Contact.

So Braxton comes to the 24th century, where no changes to the timeline are occurring, to blowup Voyager because he believes that Voyager changed the timeline of the 29th century, but no one in the 29th century comes to the 20th century where an actual change to the timeline was occurring?

Wouldn't the Earth blowing up just be part of Earth's history and be perfectly normal to Braxton? If that is how history is supposed to play out, then Braxton is bound as a member of Starfleet to let history play out the way it is supposed to play out, so he was duty bound to not go back in time.

This entire episode could have been fixed if Braxton's ship had broken in the 29th century, throwing him into the 24th century. Believing that he fixed his ship enough to return home, he attempts to return to 29th century Earth but in fact he didn't fix the problem and he pulls himself and Voyager back to 20th century Earth. Nothing else would have to be changed.
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George Monet
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 2:12am (UTC -5)
Sorry!

But one last bit, really, the last.

If Braxton comes back because he found Voyager's hull in the debris, and it was his traveling back that caused the explosion in the 29th century resulting in the destruction of Voyager and his shuttle and our solar system, then there is no way that Janeway saved the day. The only way this all works is if events play out the way they are supposed to, with Voyager blowing up. So the only way we can believe this time travel episode is if Voyager blows up. The entire timeline is Braxton trying to blowup Voyager, Voyager damaging his ship causing both Braxton and Voyager to go hurtling back in time. Janeway tries to stop Starling from heading to the 29th century which causes Braxton's time travel to fail and leads to both ships blowing up. These are events which have to happen. Everything we see is part of the timeline that Braxton was trying to prevent. But he couldn't, that's why the paradox happened, because events are inevitable. So there is no way that Janeway saves the day because we know that she fails which is why Braxton finds a piece of Voyager's hull.
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Mikey
Sat, Oct 29, 2016, 8:27am (UTC -5)
@George Monet: great explanation of paradox theory.

I thought it was a stretch that Tom Paris could drive that truck, but a stick shift Vw, I don't think so. Don't care what kind of pilot you are, I would call it a physical impossibility to jump in a motor vehicle and drive it without mishap. I suppose he knows the road rules too...
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Mikey
Thu, Nov 3, 2016, 6:00am (UTC -5)
On further reflection, he could have learned in the holodeck...
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Paul Allen
Tue, Dec 13, 2016, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
"I thought it was rather absurd (and frankly, insulting to the audience) that we needed the explicit screenshot of Starling's tattoo to be "informed" that this was the same guy that said "Far Out" in the teaser."


I totally missed that.....
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Josh
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 12:23am (UTC -5)
One nit--I believe it was this episode (not Part II) where Neelix and Kes are watching American TV and Harry Kim says something about not understanding the appeal of non-interactive stories (and his comment goes unchallenged, implying it is a rather conventional point of view). This is at odds with the franchise's depiction of future earth society as highly cultured. Humans of the 23rd and 24th century enjoy Shakespeare and Dickens. There is also appreciation for genre works like Sherlock Holmes, and 1930s detective stories (although not science fiction). Yes, people enjoy interactive storytelling though the holodeck, but it seems grounded in cultural knowledge, and a couple of TNG episodes have exposed the crew to the dangers of excessive use of interactive entertainment.
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Strejda
Sat, Feb 25, 2017, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
I was surprised at how well-paced this one is. Fun from start to finish.

I gotta question the time police dude's plan tho. He thinks them just happening to be present means they are responsible, no further investigation needed? Also, "no time"? Dude, nothing was stopping you from just appearing earlier. Did you really think you could just tell them to suck it up and they would let you kill them?
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Roger W Norris
Wed, Jun 14, 2017, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
Got a possible solution to history problems. Capt. Braxton isn't crazy. He has continuity fever!
He's monitoring the late 20th century. But the Eugenics Wars never happened.The computer revolution did. He tracks things down, and find it's all Voyager's fault! He rechecks the timeline, and also finds the solar system destruction. So he has to go back and destroy Voyager! Not only can't he do that, he's sent back 30 years too early. Being a time agent, he can't fix things, nor can he tell anybody. The strain of all this causes him to go insane!
He should have been able to say that Voyager changed history, as well as causing the explosion. That would have explained why the Eugenics Wars weren't mentioned. But it still makes more sense than the current Kelvin story line in the new movies in which Chekov is older than Kirk, and Spock had a romance. Probably why we need fan fiction.
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Frank
Fri, Jun 16, 2017, 12:00am (UTC -5)
Why wouldn't have the time temporal people detected and corrected the current timeline the new Star Trek movies are based on?
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RandomThoughts
Fri, Jun 16, 2017, 10:39pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@Frank

Great question! And considering how big that ship was, we could've had a whole FLEET of timeships trying to stuff that thing back down the rabbit hole... (so to speak).

Regards... RT
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Markus
Wed, Jul 12, 2017, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
Finally! Now this is the kind of space adventure I signed up for when I started watching Voyager. A welcome adventure with a fun, tight script is a nice diversion from the mostly plodding and unfocused first two seasons of this show. 3.5 stars.
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Mertov
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 3:06am (UTC -5)
Great review Jammer..

Best quote (that nobody has mentioned yet): Tuvok looking at the hip crowd and concluding they should have kept their Starfleet uniforms on and "no one would have noticed." Hahaha..

Voyager was still in commission in the 29th century? 500 years later? Absurd.. Otherwise an almost-4-star episode.
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Peter Swinkels
Sun, Aug 27, 2017, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
One of my favorite episodes. Nitpick: wouldn't vaporizing an entire truck produce a lot of heat and leave some sort of mark?
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Peter Swinkels
Sun, Aug 27, 2017, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
Also, since when does merely downloading files cause them to disappear from the system they were on?
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William B
Wed, Sep 27, 2017, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
This episode seems pretty inspired by Back to the Future II, where Biff Tannen was given some future information and used it to increase his own wealth. The scene where Braxton writes out the A-B-C paradox seems lifted directly from Doc Brown's blackboard explanation. But Henry Starling is *not* Biff Tannen, and that's part of why this episode feels so fresh. A Federation ship from the distant future crashlands on Earth in the late 60's -- by coincidence, when, in our world, Star Trek premiered. A vagrant with a tattoo who says "Far out" (read: hippie) finds this relic from some better future, and over the next few decades plunders it for technological advancement, while still attempting to maintain his laid-back, counterculture cred. Starling (STAR-ling) funds SETI searches, seems to produce hip new products (I suspect his marketing would be like Apple), and has a pinball machine in his office. And we gradually learn that he's willing to sacrifice the future for present-day profits. Starling is actually a pretty great creation, and part of why this episode works. In mythic terms, in the 60's in the US there was a period of idealism which entered the mainstream, and Roddenberry was partly inspired by that in his picture of a better future among the stars. And then somehow, that energy was dissipated and made corporate. Even Star Trek becomes a (sometimes cynical) money-making enterprise, stealing from (the idea of) a better future for short-term gains. Rain Robinson is the contrast -- goofy and a little weird (Sarah Silverman plays her somewhere between playing her straight and going into her burgeoning comic persona) -- a genuine oddball who also still maintains a kind of hope that there is something Out There that can make things better here. The episode is mostly set-up and there are some questionable choices, leaving Kim in charge being probably foremost among them, and so I don't think I'll go higher than 3 stars, particularly since I know where Part 2 is going, but it seems to me this episode actually does present us with some interesting ideas wrapped up in a slam-bang entertainment package.
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Skingy
Thu, Oct 26, 2017, 11:43am (UTC -5)
I never really liked any Star Trek where they went back to our present day.

So with access to 29th century technology, all Starling can come up with is WIN95? Yet he can block Voyager's transporters and create a downlink to Voyager and completely disable it and steal a bunch of their files, including the Doc all in about 10 seconds.

Everyone just taps randomly on keyboards to do everything. Who even uses a keyboard to control their computer anyway?

It's all just too ridiculous for me.

2 stars.
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Intergalactic Hegemon
Wed, Apr 4, 2018, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
There are no better moments than when we get to see Tuvok in a setting where he is completely out of place--which is essentially anywhere that isnt on Voyager itself. This episode was special--keeping it Vulcan while wearing a do-rag. I giggled my ass off the whole episode.
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Rahul
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
Really great concept here on time travel with plenty of exciting action, a great plot, and good pacing. Even if it borrows a lot from Star Trek IV, it's enjoyable to see with the VOY crew in 1996 LA (parts were filmed in Santa Monica not far from where I used to live).

Braxton as a homeless man putting up "Future's End" signs was the typical cliche -- I have my questions as to why he should be in the hopeless situation he's in, but I liked that he gave the A to B to C explanation laying out the basic plot. It's an interesting idea and twist on the usual time-travel theme to factor in the distant future coming back to the 24th century and then the 20th century is good.

The Raine young chick character was annoying and was overly cliche, driving around in her 60s VW van. Of course she falls for Paris, ridicules Tuvok, and keeps asking questions. Too predictable. She'd probably want to go to the future with Paris like in Star Trek IV with whale expert Gillian and Kirk.

Starling was an effective villain although the paradox about importing future technology and creating the computer revolution etc. is a hole in this episode. But it's one that can be overlooked -- as something always has to be swept under the rug in time-travel episodes. His right hand man was also effective in his menace. The idea using future tech to advance himself -- obviously morally wrong -- but makes for a worthy motive for a villain.

I liked the pairs of Janeway/Chakotay and Tuvok/Paris dividing and conquering (again very much Star Trek IV-like). And Harry Kim steps up when put in charge of the ship -- had to make a tough decision but decides to get in close so he can transport Janeway/Chakotay. And we get the pretty cool scene on the nightly news with Voyager zipping along the LA evening sky caught on home video.

3.5 stars for "Future's End, Part I" -- really felt like a VOY motion picture with a lot of money thrown at the episode. I'm not a huge fan of time-travel episodes, but this twist on it was good. Voyager having to deal with a villain using 29th century technology is an intriguing premise. Can't avoid some cliches, but they're more than forgiveable here.
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Springy
Thu, Aug 30, 2018, 7:47am (UTC -5)
Four stars!

So fun, well plotted, well cast, great dialogue, well acted by all . . . a winner.

Sarah was great. She is fun anytime, anywhere, and very talented. Ed B - perfect. Much quotable dialogue. Lots of low key sexual stuff . . . legs, pants, curves . . . something's up, there (double entendre not intended), but have not analyzed that.

On the tattoo, not only did I not even think about the fact that Starling must be the far-out guy, I didn't think about it even after I saw the tattoo. Just never thought of Mr Far Out again, and didn't even notice his tattoo. So some of the audience (at least one audience member, me) was indeed too dense to realize, not that it's that important.

Loved Paris's screwy attempts to fit in. Very good pairings and just fun.
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Sean Hagins
Sun, Sep 23, 2018, 2:03am (UTC -5)
@Mertov,

No offence, but you totally missed the point! Voyager (a 500 year old ship by the 29th century) was NOT still in commission! That is how the villain realised that Voyager was not as advanced as he thought *(giving him the home field advantage as he said)

When this came out, my friends thought the villain was a wink and nudge at Bill Gates (saying that he was a stoned out hippie in his basement until future tech fell in his lap)

I did notice the tattoo, but honestly, as much as it may seem an "insult to your intelligence", people actually do need that cue to see that the hippie is indeed the villain 30 years later!

I agree about the BTTF2 reference, especially since Braxton seems like an even more out there Doc Brown!

I loved this episode in 1996 and still do. The only flaw I saw was that if Tuvok can download (and disrupt) Rain's computer just using his tricorder, Janeway should have been able to do the same thing to the villain (instead of having to sit down and type on it awhile). Or they could have said that he hyped up his security with future stuff they have to hack into. There was no mention of this

I don't know if this is the reasoning behind it, but when Dr Who enterred it's 1970 season, the decision to have the doctor marooned on contemporary Earth was to save money. I wonder if this came into play for this two-parter? Or maybe the cast just wanted to get outside and out of the soundstage?
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Chrome
Sun, Sep 23, 2018, 11:27am (UTC -5)
@Sean Haggins

Are you saying that Bill Gates was a stoned out hippie? You might want to fact check that.
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Sean Hagins
Tue, Sep 25, 2018, 2:51am (UTC -5)
@Chrome

No, I'm not saying that. I was saying the producers were jokingly saying this of Mr Gates
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Chrome
Tue, Sep 25, 2018, 10:30am (UTC -5)
@Sean Hagins

It’s true Bill Gates is a famous tech genius, but I’m wagering it’s a parody of Steve Jobs. Jobs was famous for starting Apple out of his parents’ garage and then there’s other things like the “Think Different” counterculture ad campaigns Apple ran in the 80s and 90s. Bill Gates and Microsoft were more the mainstream straight-arrow players in the tech industry.
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Sean Hagins
Thu, Sep 27, 2018, 12:45am (UTC -5)
@Chrome

You may very well be right. Back in the '90s, I never even heard of Steve Jobs, so Bill Gates was the only "tech-person" my friends and I thought of. (I am not really a tech person. Besides my Commodore 64 in the early '80s, my first computer was purchased in 2003. I am a photographer and that was when digital was replacing film, so I needed a computer. I explain all of this to explain why I never heard of Steve Jobs until he died (or maybe just before) and why even Bill Gates wasn't someone I really knew of in the '90s)
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SJU
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 9:18am (UTC -5)
Love a good time travel episode.
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Luke
Sun, Jun 2, 2019, 9:11am (UTC -5)
I liked the character stuff in this episode, but the entire Plot is too contrived for me. And again we have another episode where Voyager is useless, only this time, it's to computers who were outclassed by 1999.

That scene REALLY chuffed me, I must admit. Was that the only way they could think to make drama? To jmake Voyager the "underdog". It couldn't be cleverness on the part of the villain or underlying moral principles that cause a problem, no, it's cause everything is broken and because somehow his repurposed tech that looks completely in place in 1996 actually happens to also have all the future technology capabilities, he just doesn't release that.
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Smith
Tue, Apr 14, 2020, 8:11am (UTC -5)
This felt a little cliche to me...way too similar to "A Voyage Home". Going back to California...needing to work with a suspicious female, and constantly trying to avoid being detected. The only difference here was that Voyager had a villain.

What annoyed me a bit was easily Braxton overpowered Voyager...that happened too fast and easily. Then he seemed to interface with Voyager's data using that archaic computer? Is this the first time a Federation starship has been "hacked" where data was downloaded and deleted remotely...I'm not sure we have seen that before.

Also the EMH bugged me a bit. Why is it he can be transferred but not copied? If he's just 1's and 0's...and can be moved...then he can be copied. There is NO point to "moving" him from the emitter to sick bay and back again. They can simply clone him and have two (or even more doctors).
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pfk505
Tue, Apr 14, 2020, 8:51am (UTC -5)
First, I won't dispute that this episode was fun and, unlike a lot of early Voyager episodes, held my attention throughout.

But one thing has been really irritating me since I watched it and it can't be just dismissed as "they just didn't know any better in 1996" : apparently 20% of voyager's computer can be not only stored in but ACCESSED BY a PC from that year. This strains credulity in an extreme way even for Star Trek. Even if we hand-wave away the fact that Ed Begley Jr. somehow taught himself to access 29th century tech and maybe harness the timeship's storage device, he's still using the equivalent of a pentium 90 or whatever to hack voyager's transporter buffer and access their main computer (which of course has no security whatsoever).
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Elliott
Tue, May 19, 2020, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : ***.5, 5%

Earth, High Sierra, 1967. An acid-tripping Fox News strawman of a hippie is banging out a groovy tune on his empty cans of whale meat when the radio signal he's accessing is disrupted by something in the atmosphere. It's a close encounter, we soon see, as the hippie approaches the crash site of a glowing alien spacecraft and utters that seminal phrase “far out.” It's certainly an improvement over “Herbert.”

Once again, Voyager shows a talent for snappy and appetising teasers. I just wish the score weren't so generic.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

So, in the wake of her religious experience, Captain Janeway is serving up tennis balls in her readyroom. I don't know what it is about Joe Menosky and tennis balls. Tuvok pops in for a little light-hearted logic banter.

JANEWAY: You...play tennis.
TUVOK: Simple physics, Captain.

This effectively sets the themes and the tone for the ensuing action, which is about to have a great deal of fun at the expense of “simple physics.”

Chakotay sounds the red alert and calls the pair to the bridge. Harry gives an explanation that is no explanation for one of those ubiquitous holes in space that Trek loves appearing at their doorstep. Not sure why that warranted a red alert but okay. A small craft emerges from the hole. The Voyager's sensors determine that the sole occupant is a human and that the ship itself, though quite alien in design, has a Federation signature. So we're past the point where the Voyager stumbles across debris and errant capitalists from the Alpha Quadrant, now space itself is folding to deposit items in her flightpath. The vessel ignores Janeway's hails and instead starts firing some sort of omega mega cannon which immediately erases the shields and starts tearing the ship apart. Okay, now I can see the wisdom a red alert. Chakotay pulls a technobabble solution out of is ass and the deflector—which can do anything—is able to repel the weapon.

Now, the human occupant is willing to chat, identifying himself as Captain Braxton of the Federation Timeship Æon. At the time this originally aired, I remember distinctly being confused as to how one can captain a vessel with zero other occupants, but eventually “Relativity” will sort this out...somewhat. He indicates that he's from the future and here to destroy the Voyager to “prevent a disaster” in his time, the 29th century. He politely asks Janeway to shut off her deflector, but apparently doesn't have enough time to answer any of her questions, for example, “how is the presence of the Voyager's secondary hull in the 'temporal explosion's' debris a positive indication that she is 'responsible' for this disaster?” and redoubles his firepower.

There are a number of complaints floating around the internet around this part, but I think the episode provides all the evidence we need to make sense of this insanity. He says it's “his mission” to prevent a 29th century disaster that will destroy the Sol System. So, Starfleet sent a single man in a tiny ship to perform this critical task? And this man is so unhinged that he “doesn't have time” to explain himself when he's just travelled half a millennium into the past? It seems really obvious to me that whatever Braxton is doing here, it's a rogue operation and he's lost his mind.

More to the point, I obviously get bent out of shape all the time over Star Trek stuff—that's why we're all here right? I'm a little exasperated at some of the comments flinging back and forth over on the “Parallax” review, for example, but I get why the argument is happening. The discussion is about a very important human issue and Trek's take(s) on the matter. It's bound to get heated. But I admit I do not understand the sincere complaints about temporal paradoxes and continuity glitches in this episode and others. Yeah, it can be amusing to poke fun or even cobble together non-canon explanations for these things (I believe Enterprise inspired an entire industry around fudging continuity gaffs between itself and TOS in the novels), but to actually decry a story because certain events that don't matter at all don't perfectly line up just rubs me the wrong way. If you don't like or agree with what the episode is saying about a human topic, about science or religion or politics, then that's something to talk about. If you think the characters aren't being served by the story, thus pulling you away from the human drama, that's worthy of criticism. If the production doesn't hold up for you, I understand the ill feelings. The rest? I just don't get it.

Anyway, Janeway has more technobabble up her sleeve and manages to shut off the beam, but there's a side effect which pulls both vessels into the space hole. We get a repeat of the imagery from “Caretaker,” which is a nice touch, of the screen flooding to white as the alarms go off on the bridge. It seems this trip was a lot less lethal though, as the crew arise relatively unscathed. Paris activates the viewscreen and we see that the Voyager has been dumped directly into Earth's orbit. They've made it home at last. Ah, but instead of Starfleet signals, all Tuvok is able to pick up from the atmosphere are a series of radio transmissions (we'll be generous and assume they're all in English because Tuvok was trying to hail San Francisco) that very bluntly date this particular Earth as roughly concurrent with the production date of the episode. Amazing, that.

A lot of place-setting happens very quickly as the crew piece together the precise date from astrometric readings, and the anomaly of subspace technology emanating from Los Angeles, CA, the likely location of Braxton and the timeship. Janeway's FIRST thought is that they had better beam down and find their new friend, which is just cheeky enough to be highly amusing. I mean, we've travelled back in time, OF COURSE we have to go native. And by “we,” I mean most of the main cast, naturally. This is no different from similar conceits in “Time's Arrow,” but Harry gets to be left in command, which is nice.

JANEWAY: As I recall, Tom, you're something of an aficionado on twentieth century America.
PARIS: That's right.
JANEWAY: What will we need to pass as locals in this era?
PARIS: Simple. Nice clothes, fast car and lots of money.

The next thing we see is Janeway, Paris, Chakotay and Tuvok in native garb observing a very 1996 Santa Monica day on the beach. And here in 2020 all I can think is, “YOU'RE NOT SOCIAL DISTANCING! PUT YOUR MASKS ON, YOU FOOLS.”

Act 2 : ***, 17%

The quartet splits up, and we get this line:

CHAKOTAY: Well, Kathryn, you got us home...She does have your legs.

This is the first time we've seen Janeway and Chakotay alone since “Resolutions,” and here we see that, absent the pretences of the command hierarchy, their intimacy picks up where it left off. Great stuff. We also learn that L.A. sank beneath the waves of a tsunami about 25 years from now, which, as a resident of San Francisco and New York City, is welcome news. Fuck L.A. Eventually, the pair track the subspace readings to a hobo mulling about the beach.

Meanwhile, we get introduced to a new character played by Sarah Silverman. As a politico, I give Silverman about a B+, as an actor, a B-, and as a comedian, about a B. So it's appropriate that her workspace at a the Griffith Observatory is decorated with nostalgic B-movie memorabilia. The character is called Rain, and her instruments pinpoint the orbital signature of the Voyager, which is quite the revelation. We get another seminal line from this news, “No way...way!” Again, at least it's not "Herbert."

At that moment, we cut to one Henry Starling, who is chewing out a contracted associate over some defective computer chip. He gets a call from Rain, where we learn that her SETI lab research is funded by Starling's company, and that a particular signal she was told to keep watch for has appeared over L.A., piquing his interest. She wants to send a message to what she assumes/hopes is an alien visitor, but Starling prescribes caution for the moment. A hold on Starling's tattoo lets us know that he is in fact the hippie from the teaser, but Rain decides to go rogue herself and set the SETI standard greeting. This is important because it ties Rain into the franchise. Her insatiable curiosity about space and the possibility of alien life is stronger than prudence or orders from her boss. That's the kind of human spirit we hope catalyses the Roddenberrian future and it's an important Edith Keeler-esque moment for any good Trek time-travel plot.

On the bridge, Torres reports to Kim that the trip through the hole is still wreaking havoc with their systems (including long-range transporters) when Rain's transmission pops up on the viewscreen. Yikes.

So Janeway and Chakotay keep after the subspace hobo while Tuvok and Paris make for the SETI lab via “conventional means.” The hobo winds his way through the streets of L.A. with his conspicuous tail while Jay Chattaway bores the hell out of us with his dissonant meandering score. Finally, the pair confront the hobo in an alleyway. He starts ranting at them at first, but then recognises Janeway. It turns out that this is actually Braxton.

Act 3 : ***, 17%

Braxton and his ship crash-landed in the teaser, we piece together. In the ensuing 30 years, the timeship captain has continued to deteriorate. His protestations about the future's end have fallen on deaf ears and, in a truly depressing indictment of contemporary American socioeconomics, he has found himself living out of a shopping cart. The disparity between his and the Voyager's arrivals in the past is the result of damage to his navigation systems. After a couple of false starts (and a memorable performance by Allan Royal), we get the “Time's Arrow” explanation of the temporal paradox that has led to this adventure (A leads to B to C to A). It is the timeship itself which will cause the disaster in the 29th century. And who's got the timeship?

BRAXTON: Starling. Henry Starling, CEO Chronowerx Industries. Philanthropist, entrepreneur, outstanding citizen. Pa! Before I crashed in 1967 I made an emergency beam out, but he found my ship before I did in some remote mountain range. I've been following this corrupt little man ever since, tracking his movements. He's become too powerful. I can't get close to him. Of course, you can't accomplish anything in this wretched century. Nobody here listens. Do you know that once they put me in a mental institution and filled me with primitive pharmaceuticals?

Again, quite the indictment. This is something which I don't see mentioned much in reviews of this episode; much like “The Voyage Home” which clearly serves as inspiration here, the substance which gives lighthearted adventure some weight is a *systemic* critique of our contemporary society. I think sometimes those of us who consume so much Trek brush this stuff off as ubiquitous, but it remains a wonderfully subversive element of the pre-Abrams franchise. Even the most acclaimed dramas of the last decades like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones,” and others fall short of really digging into the systemic critiques. “Breaking Bad,” for example, did address the horrific realities of the American healthcare system, but this largely fell away as the central thesis was about the flaws of human beings within our systems. “Mad Men” eventually frames the soul-sucking recuperative industry of advertising as potentially redeemable in the person of Peggy, whose success is celebrated for subverting gender inequalities. Criticisms of the socioeconomics which give rise to such a toxic industry are pretty much forgotten about. “Game of Thrones” ends up advocating for aristocratic oligarchy as the preferred political system because, you know, stories. And so on. I miss Star Trek.

Anyway, Braxton doesn't want Janeway to try and stop Braxton because as far as he knows, the loop is complete. The disaster has happened and it will happen. A cop shows up and interrupts their conversation, so Janeway and Chakotay are forced to abandon poor Braxton for now.

Starling is in his office (Chronowerx' logo, we see, is actually Braxton's 29th century insignia, a clue to what we're dealing with in more ways than one). It turns out that Rain has been spreading the good news of her discovery. Realising that she's become a security risk to his operation, he sends a thug to the observatory to kill her and destroy her evidence. This is highly unrealistic. The real Bill Gates would just have her vaccinated.

But Tuvok and Paris have arrived at the lab first. The pair stole a pickup truck over Tuvok's objections and, thanks to years of grease-monkeying in the holodeck, Paris is able to drive the thing. Inside, Paris is charmed by Rain's nostalgic junk as he rustles about her desk looking for her data.

TUVOK: Lieutenant, you are being careless.
PARIS: Tuvok!
TUVOK: I will not lighten up on the matter. Thus far I have tolerated your impulsive methods. At times they have worked to our advantage. But discretion is also a virtue. We must leave things exactly as they were.

It would have been an obvious choice to pair up Paris and Kim for a little romantic sidetrip, or perhaps Tuvok with Neelix (we did see him in fresh prosthetics not two episodes ago) as the resident odd couple, or even Tuvok with Chakotay, revisiting the dynamic from “Twisted” and “Basics,” but this particular pairing was a wise one. Paris is a bit impulsive and certainly emotional, but without being a Neelix-level dumpster fire. It's enough to annoy Tuvok without justify another strangling. The pair discern that Rain is somehow able to track the Voyager's warp signal, which obviously shouldn't be possible. She returns to her desk, pizza in hand, and tries to kick them out, but Tom is able to distract her with his nerd charm long enough for Tuvok to erase her hard drive with his tricorder. She chases after them, full of bile and double entendres. Before they can get into it, Starling's lackey shows up and vaporises their stolen truck, because drama. The lackey has a very powerful 29th century phaser, but Tuvok knows what the fuck he is doing, which is unexpectedly fun to witness. In the bustle, Rain catches sight of his Vulcan ears. The trio make a getaway in her Mystery Machine that must be older than Starling's tattoo.

Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

We check in with Harry back on the ship, who gives a log on their status. He's asked Kes and Neelix to monitor media broadcasts.

NEELIX: We have come across some very intriguing televised broadcasts. Take a look at this. It's a form of entertainment called a “soap opera.”

Yeah, it's called Deep Space Nine. Anyway, under cover of nightfall, Janeway and Chakotay break into Starling's office where we learn that our entrepreneurial ex-hippie has built up quite the corporate empire on Braxton's back. Amazing what a system that rewards avarice will get you. A little tricorder magic reveals that Starling has a massive database stored here, as well as access to 29th century technology (explaining the lackey's super duper phaser).

The Mystery Machine, meanwhile, finds itself at the mercy of an increasingly irate Sarah Silverman. Tuvok's and Paris' communicators were damaged by said super phaser because plot and Tom's story about being a secret agent isn't carrying water.

RAIN: The UFO, what is it?
PARIS: It's a Soviet spy satellite. Part of a massive KGB operation. We're trying to stop it.
RAIN: Soviet? The USSR broke up five years ago. The KGB doesn't even exist anymore.

That's right. Who needs spy satellites and torture gulags when you've got memes of Bernie Sanders riding a surf board and Tom Podesta molesting a pizza? I realise that these “wacky” bits hinge a lot on Silverman's performance, and she's kind of a divisive figure. As I said, I think she's slightly better at being funny than acting generally, so the bits where she and Tom banter work okay for me.

Janeway, meanwhile, makes a startling discovery.

JANEWAY: Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Chakotay?
CHAKOTAY: I wish I weren't.
JANEWAY: The computer age of the late twentieth century
CHAKOTAY: Shouldn't have happened.
JANEWAY: But it did, and it's part a of our history. All because of that timeship.

A leads to B leads to C leads to A.

JANEWAY: Time travel. Ever since my first day in the job as a Starfleet Captain I swore I'm never let myself get caught in one of these godforsaken paradoxes. The future is the past, the past is the future. It all gives me a headache.

Yeah. Good thing Captain Janeway has never been involved in a time travel plot, nor will she ever be again. They also realise that Starling is already making plans to launch the timeship, directly from a room behind his office no less. But just then, Starling and his...only...lackey surprise them, welcoming Janeway to the 20th century at the barrel of a phaser.

Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

Janeway spills everything to Starling about the big 'splosion and he repays this honesty by leveraging her life against stopping the data upload Harry had set up to Starling's computer. Harry decides to risk exposing the Voyager to the natives and Exxon Valdez-ing the timeline by flying the ship below the clouds to rescue the command couple. And good thing, too, because the badass banter between Starling and Janeway was getting to the eye-roll-inducing point of causing a damned seizure. From their low orbit, the Voyager manages to disable Starling's forcefield and begin transporting the timeship to the cargo bay. BUT, Starling is an evil genius with the latest software update from Microsoft Office 95, so he's able to reverse engineer the transporter beam on the fly and start stealing the Voyager's own computer files instead. Janeway assumes this is because he's “using 29th century technology” against them, which, sure, but I refuse to believe a Dell computer can do anything properly without crashing. By the time Torres shuts off the downlink, Starling has stolen 20% of their main computer files and stored them on the world's largest thumb drive. He taps into the comm and gloats a bit, having learnt that his technology is half a millennium more advanced than Janeway's.

The major concern, however, is the Doctor, who finds himself “gone” from the sickbay and standing in Starling's office. I guess Blond Elon Musk here has beaten B'Elanna to the punch on installing remote holo-projectors. Meanwhile, Neelix reports that his assignment of watching telenovelas has yielding even more concerning news, specifically the evening news, which is playing amateur footage of the Voyager flying above the Hollywood Hills.

Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

The final image of the Voyage flying over California is probably my earliest remaining memory of Voyager when it was on the air. And that is probably this episode's greatest strength; it is extremely memorable. The breezy plot is punctuated by shot after shot of memorable imagery, from Rain's B-movie posters, to Starling's office, to Santa Monica beach, to this final shot of the ship in the sky. As a kid, this episode made me giddy. I fell out of love with it in my 20s, as I lacked any sort of nostalgia for childhood in those days. But now, in the cruel joke that is one's 30s, I find myself with a soft spot for this story. Besides the imagery and the silly, but overall amusing plot, what really works here are the character dynamics planetside. It's nothing groundbreaking, but the Tuvok/Paris pairing pays a clever homage to Kirk and Spock bumbling around San Francisco 10 years prior, and seeing Janeway and Chakotay together, alone with their hair down reminds us that “Resolutions” happened and had an effect on their relationship.

One subtle element I like is the juxtaposition of Starling and Braxton. Starling started off as a social outcast of sorts in the 1960s. Braxton started out as a would-be saviour of the solar system in the 29th century. After the accidental incident with the Voyager, Braxton's greed and opportunism have made him a powerful, wealthy, and respected man, while Braxton's altruism has been rewarded by making him a social outcast in 1996. Both men are motivated human beings with real but conflicting value sets. What metes out their respective fates are the *social systems* in which they happen to find themselves. Starling's greed would be punished in Braxton's time, and that is the result of human social evolution.

On the other hand, you've got Tom and Rain who relate to each other across the centuries because their personal value sets map onto the evolutionary chain. They have a reverence for the past, the often goofy but sincere attempts of science fiction to peer into the future (hello TOS!), and they yearn to explore the frontier, Tom at the helm and Rain at her telescope. Rain is socioeconomically constrained in 1996 (hence the microbus), whereas Tom had better living conditions when he was in prison. These kinds of gentle character juxtapositions remind me a great deal of “First Contact” (the episode) and “Time's Arrow.”

In fact, this whole episode feels very much like a solid instalment from TNG's middle period. It's this more than anything else that makes this an important episode in the series. While Voyager's characters are mostly working, the attempt to do the Maquis v. Starfleet thing has failed (for good reasons), the Kazon arc has failed—Voyager has resigned itself to being what it should perhaps have always been, a Star Trek series that confronts the universe from a more isolated position in the Delta Quadrant. Could it have been nuBSG before nuBSG? With braver producers and fewer real-world burdens to overcome, sure. But—and I say this as someone who loves that series—I think that the gritty pessimism such a version of Voyager would demand would have soured the franchise prematurely. And while I can't speak to their commercial success, the reboot films, Discovery and now Picard have all proven to be pretty massive disappointments for failing to sincerely embrace what Star Trek is about. As William B noted, “Even Star Trek becomes a (sometimes cynical) money-making enterprise, stealing from (the idea of) a better future for short-term gains.”

Even DS9 was *aware* of Trek's ethos. It was interested in deconstructing that ethos, and I have my criticisms, but it didn't ever lose sight of it. Voyager is leaning into the elements of the franchise that make it what was it is, and that's definitely the safer move. Is safe as exciting as risky? Not likely. Does that make it worse? We shall see. Speaking of DS9, while TVH may be the obvious precursor to this story, the comparison I most want to make is with “Past Tense,” which was also a 2-parter time travel plot set in its series' 3rd season. I'll save that as well as the Starling = Kurtzman issue for part II.

As for this part, it's a pretty good mix of fun, mostly-convincing story pieces, and light character work with an upped effects budget and an underwhelming musical score. Pretty good.

Final Score : ***
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William B
Wed, May 20, 2020, 9:44am (UTC -5)
"Again, quite the indictment. This is something which I don't see mentioned much in reviews of this episode; much like “The Voyage Home” which clearly serves as inspiration here, the substance which gives lighthearted adventure some weight is a *systemic* critique of our contemporary society. I think sometimes those of us who consume so much Trek brush this stuff off as ubiquitous, but it remains a wonderfully subversive element of the pre-Abrams franchise. Even the most acclaimed dramas of the last decades like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “The Sopranos,” “Game of Thrones,” and others fall short of really digging into the systemic critiques. “Breaking Bad,” for example, did address the horrific realities of the American healthcare system, but this largely fell away as the central thesis was about the flaws of human beings within our systems. “Mad Men” eventually frames the soul-sucking recuperative industry of advertising as potentially redeemable in the person of Peggy, whose success is celebrated for subverting gender inequalities. Criticisms of the socioeconomics which give rise to such a toxic industry are pretty much forgotten about. “Game of Thrones” ends up advocating for aristocratic oligarchy as the preferred political system because, you know, stories. And so on. I miss Star Trek."

I agree to a point, but want to demur a bit. Mad Men (SPOILERS) certainly does use Peggy's success to say something positive about the potential of the industry, and I think the show's often searing indictment of the Left (for instance, via Midge and her boho buds, or Peggy's boyfriend Abe, or Megan's French-Canadian socialist professor father; Peggy's lesbian friend Joyce comes out very well) shows a resistance to too sustained an anti-capitalist critique (or, at least, critique from the perspective of anyone from the 60's)...and yet I still think Peggy is showing that good things can and did happen in the US in the 1960's and early 70's, just that it's necessarily constrained within the boxes that are available. Specifically, it's that Don can do good things, by encouraging Peggy, which is his main (moral) success over the course of the series. Peggy's success stands in contrast to Sal's permanent ejection and the way the ladder Joan claws her way up is immediately taken away by McCann-Erickson, though she can maybe reinvent herself as a manager. The central figure is still Don who, as an analogue for America itself, deals with the traumas of the Depression and WW2 and has to fabricate a slick but spiritually empty identity and lives with constant guilt, paranoia and self-destruction in order to be able to maintain the facade. The best we can apparently hope for is that he can move upwards from cigarettes to Coca-Cola, and that any personal growth he experiences will be commodified and repackaged, and *at best* it may be that something resembling art or social progress might sneak into that repackaging.

I also partly agree about Breaking Bad, but it's also complicated. It's a mythic crime Western. Socioeconomic factors play a big role. It's made clear very early on that Walt's financial problems are not the *precise* root of his actions, when he refuses Gretchen and Elliot's largesse. Because even that is still about financial issues (of what it means to "earn" money, preferring to build a drug empire over receiving possibly-deserved dividends of previously bought-out stock in a big moneymaker, etc.) it's not like it's unrelated. Walt's attitude toward what it means to earn a living is near the core of his character study, and that is necessarily tied to the society he lives in. But it's still operating on the character level -- the character's reaction to the system, and the ways the system influences him.

Game of Thrones "stories" LOL.
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Booming
Wed, May 20, 2020, 11:29am (UTC -5)
And even though all these shows are depressingly nihilistic, they still had some glimmers of hope, like Peggy, and levity every now and then. He just had a foot in the door.

Todays shows are all such nightmares. Not only NuStar Trek but most of the stuff. NuTrek is the worst offender because it brings all the bad together in a hopeless avalanche of nothingness but look at Westworld, Mr. Robot, Fargo, Game of Thrones, The Americans, BoJack Horseman and so many more. When I watch these I just want to kill myself. People slowly tumbling towards their downfall. No hope, no meaning. It's like the USA has depression.

The only shows that I really enjoyed were the good place (kind of like Star Trek used to be) and fleabag, maybe the marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Everything else makes me reach for the rum bottle.
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Elliott
Wed, May 20, 2020, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
@William B

Yeah, I should have been clear that I wasn't suggesting these shows be different than they were (well, maybe GoT), just that what Star Trek offers its audience is (or rather, was) something specific that even acclaimed dramas do not. Elliot and Gretchen, for example, are poked at slightly in the final episode of BB, but they aren't taken to task for the inevitable social evils the creation of their giant stock portfolio required, not in the way people like Gus or Lydia were.

@Booming

I hear you, but I do get some hope out of many of the shows you list. "Bojack Horseman" is one of my favourites of the last 5 years. Yes it's bleak, but things get better. To your point, my critique of nuTrek, on a philosophical level, is similar to my critique of DS9. It's okay to deconstruct the mythos, but there has to be a consistent logic to it. Ripping apart the established universe to create clumsy straw-man allegories and then calling it Star Trek...well, that IS depressing.
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Booming
Thu, May 21, 2020, 2:08am (UTC -5)
@Elliot
I really liked DS9, it had some of the worst episodes, especially the "Let's gas the planet" thing, but I liked it that they tried something new. They stretched it to the limit but it was mostly still in the realm of Star Trek. But I get your critique, the war arc and the pah wraith stories were too dark and simplistic especially towards the end. NuTrek on the other hand kind of destroys Star Trek, STP more than Discovery. Discovery existed in the realm of Star Trek, shallow and stupid for the most part yes but they had a few trekish characters like Saru or Pike and if you can ignore the federation trying to blow up Kronos then you can say:" Ok, it is a part of Trek that we can ignore." STP is worse in every way. Picard is Jesus, the rest are mass murderers, psychos and drunkards. Plus it tells us how the story continues. The Federation after DS9 became xenophobic and generally more like an shitty hypocritical empire that could exist today. So it is not about a few characters being nonTrek but all of it. These self hating cynics have stabbed Star Trek in the chest.

About Bojack. I never saw the appeal. I watched it for quite a while but when Bojacks co star died (season 2 or 3, I think) it was enough for me. There is only so much sympathy I have and I will certainly not waste it on rich people suffering from a lack of meaning in life. That is maybe the most self inflicted problem there is.
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Mike
Thu, May 21, 2020, 3:27am (UTC -5)
@Booming
"I will certainly not waste it on rich people suffering from a lack of meaning in life."

I think this was the reason I gave up watching TV. At least movies only waste 2 or so hours if they happen to suck, and film grants etc mean they aren't entirely the domain of the rich and privileged.

Someone recommended me Bojack Horseman, and along with Rick & Morty I could not believe how anyone could watch and enjoy such loud, hyperactive and vapid entertainment. Though it does explain something about modern day attention spans.
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Booming
Thu, May 21, 2020, 4:10am (UTC -5)
I don't think that Rick and Morty, which I find ok, or BoJoack are the way they are because of attention span. I think they are about navel gazing and despair which is rampant in the USA right now. The US Empire is falling apart and nobody knows how to stop that. The answer is the same for every empire since Sumeria and none of them had the guts to choose the obvious solution and escape their downfall. The Chinese do this downfall - new imperial phase circle for more than 2000 years now. I'm not sure if the US has enough internal cohesion to go full circle, though aka fall apart and reunite. BUT I digress, you should try the good place. It is about bettering yourself and the discussion of philosophy. It is kind of incredible that this show exists. I really liked fleabag (season 1 is very good, season 2 is perfect) but it is probably not for you.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 21, 2020, 9:13am (UTC -5)
@Booming
"Plus it tells us how the story continues. The Federation after DS9 became xenophobic and generally more like an shitty hypocritical empire that could exist today."

I would have actually been perfectly fine with that, if:
(1) It was written well and respected the source material.
(2) The bad situation was connected to the Dominion War.
(3) The point of the new series was to shows us how the Federation finds its moral compass again. With or without Picard leading the process.

It's amazing how much of the general premise of STP could have worked (and worked wonderfully) if the writers cared about writing actual Star Trek.

"These self hating cynics have stabbed Star Trek in the chest."

Indeed they did.

But why "self hating"? These guys seem to hate everybody *except* themselves. Sheer f***-ing hubris!
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William B
Thu, May 21, 2020, 9:16am (UTC -5)
@Elliott, Yeah, I mean, I didn't think you were criticizing the shows per se. I think Mad Men especially is still a systemic critique in its whole structure, through Don's life story. With Breaking Bad, I like what you say about Gretchen and Elliot. Overall, though, it does seem to mostly about *specifically criminal* forms of capitalism rather than a deep-dive critique of the system as is. Walt wants an empire in part because he feels he could have had one at Grey Matter, and so he will settle for a meth empire; but that the Grey Matter empire would have been a problem too (though, one presumes, less directly murder-based) is not so significant. One of the early episodes I really enjoyed was the one in which Jesse deals with the meth-addicted household (ending in mariticide) while Walt has lunch with Gretchen ending in him saying "fuck you"; the social stratification in which Walt's ability to tell Gretchen off being *dependent on* the social decay that the meth sales create/perpetuate/rely on was pretty searing.

Re: the thread, I like BoJack Horseman too, with maybe some caveats. I think it improves, not just in becoming more hopeful, but also in becoming a more observant and confident show. I was not very sold on its first season. I really like The Good Place. I haven't watched Rick and Morty or Fleabag, both of which I've heard good things about.
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Booming
Thu, May 21, 2020, 9:46am (UTC -5)
@ Omicron
The writers obviously have a very low opinion of humanity, they are part of humanity. From that I would assume that they sit in their huge mansions, drink expensive something and sulk about how shitty humanity is. To quote Flanders parents:"We have tried nothing and we are all out of ideas." rich leftists, that's like fascist humanitarians.

@William
Do you know what I hate most about American shows? That they have to go on forever. If a show is good then you know that it will run until even the last fan hates it. Fleabag is a British show. Two seasons and they were done. I felt so fulfilled at the end knowing that this nice experience would stay wonderful and not be tainted by slowly and later rapidly dipping quality. The good place was lucky enough to be so unusual that not enough people wanted to see it (and the third season was all over the place). I was really relieved when I heard that they would only get a last, fourth season.

Rick and Morty is the bloodless version of Community which is a brilliant show. Far to sophisticated for most people. The first two seasons are almost perfect, the third is shaky (sometimes good, sometimes terrible), the fourth was done by different people and shall not be spoken of, five shaky (under Harmon) and the sixth is pretty good.
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Elliott
Thu, May 21, 2020, 10:08am (UTC -5)
@Booming

Of all the characterisations written of "Rick and Morty," you've got to be the first to call it "bloodless."

@William B

Agree on all points. If memory serves, the choice to bring Elliot and Gretchen back for the finale was inspired by a fan of the series who was himself dying from cancer (and ended up passing away before the show wrapped). He told the writers he was very interested in how the backstory with Grey Matter played into Walt's development. I haven't seen any of the BB spinoffs yet, but personally, I'd really enjoy a deeper delve into that story.
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Booming
Thu, May 21, 2020, 10:09am (UTC -5)
compared to Community (another Dan Harmon show)
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William B
Thu, May 21, 2020, 10:22am (UTC -5)
@Booming, I enjoyed Community s1-3. I might check out s5-6 at some point; I had heard about s4 and didn't bother with it.

@Elliott, I have watched Better Call Saul (except the most recent season), and IMO the weakest parts of the show are the attempts to tie-in with Breaking Bad. The arcs of the original characters are interesting, including (in many respects) the show's version of Saul himself, who is pretty distinct from Breaking Bad's version (even if we know who he'll eventually become). El Camino was okay but felt redundant. Unless there's something in the most recent season of BCS I don't think any touched on Grey Matter. I doubt it, because I don't think the timeline fits.
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Nick
Fri, Aug 14, 2020, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Good, entertaining episode. First re-watch since the original broadcast, and I was struck how incredibly dated 1996 LA appears from a contemporary perspective. Great turn from Sarah Silverman though.
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Kirby
Sat, Oct 17, 2020, 7:57pm (UTC -5)
The really cool thing about the computer stuff is that the stuff they mention actually happened earlier in real life. For example, they say the integrated circuit was invented in 1969, but in real life, it was more like 1959. I know it’s a throw away line but it would be the beginning of an explanation for why we got cell phones way earlier in real life than on Star Trek.

By the way, loved Sarah Silverman’s little TOS tribute with her gold shirt. Lol
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Cas
Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
In this episode, Janeway says she hates time travel stories. Probably explains why she acted completely miserable in Time And Again, that season 1 episode about the Polaric accident. The way she acted throughout that entire episode, it was like someone was holding her at gunpoint and telling her to deliver those lines!
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BRiAN
Tue, Oct 27, 2020, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
Sarah Silverman really helps make this two parter work. She adds a lot of life to this Voyager crew of wet blankets, and plays off of Tom Paris well. Rumors are she almost became a regular. Would have made the show a lot better IMO, and the show would have been better for it if it took more risks like that.
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JLR
Tue, Jan 26, 2021, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
I loved this episode, and I don't really care for the time-travel ones.

I don't think anyone has commented on the subtle homage paid to The City on the Edge of Forever in this episode:

Chakotay: I see you never learned to type.
Janeway: Turn-of-the-millennium technology wasn't a required course at the Academy. This is like stone knives and bearskins.

I thought it was a nice touch.
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Sigh2000
Tue, Jul 20, 2021, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
@Cas "In this episode, Janeway says she hates time travel stories."

That she does, and I'm with Janeway on this one. Please no, not another 'time travel paradox' yarn, and so I cry in vain....who mourns for Adonais?

It's just that I've been worn down by the whole ruddy paradox thing. In fact, while the events of Future's End combine to form a kind of paradox, i.e., a situation that is absurd yet possibly true, I'm not sure that I care, since none of it needed to happen in the first place.

It was unfair to paradoxes everywhere to admit this one to the club, and it did nothing to advance time travel conceptualization either.

A new word is needed to describe the true character of the episode, and I offer 'contrivadox' as a possible one. It is defined as something so un-moored from plausibility that it can't ever be true. Here's the suggested usage: "Future's End is an entertaining 'time travel contrivadox". It is not, however, a very believable approximation, even a remote one, of time travel, and therefore we need to keep the word paradox unfettered for future use, just in case someone able to write a decent time travel story is ever born. They might need to use it.

Things I liked in the episode: 1. Santa Monica's Looff Hippodrome, 2. small model of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, 3.Kes and Neelix mesmerized by soap operas and 4. Sarah Silverman's navel, when it appeared.

Dislikes: Tom Paris in a sleeveless shirt....a terrible look for him.
2 Stars.

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