Star Trek: Voyager

“Equinox, Part I”

3 stars.

Air date: 5/26/1999
Teleplay by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston

"BLT?" — Paris

Review Text

Nutshell: It's hard to say without knowing how the bigger issues will play out, but what we have shows some promise.

"Equinox" is a good example of Voyager using action and story themes that play best to its identity. Despite the positives in season five, this series still doesn't seem to fly on its own identity, and I'm doubting it ever will. It flies on isolated plots and often the skillful reapplication of ideas from other Trek series. Last week's "Warhead" was a perfect example. There's nothing really wrong with the reapplication of new material (if done with inspiration, which "Warhead" alas wasn't), but there's nothing fresh about it either.

Now we have "Equinox," which brings back a number of familiar themes previously explored exclusively on Voyager—themes that I personally wish were more prevalent on this series. Themes that remind us we're in the Delta Quadrant, removed from Starfleet and its safe haven (although considering the war in the Alpha Quadrant, "safe haven" probably isn't accurate these days)—and possibly removed from its rules given certain circumstances.

The show does something that hasn't been done on this series since the pilot: It gives us another Federation-based crew that could provide a challenge to Janeway and the Federation Moral Compass.

Unfortunately, it's hard to render much of a judgment upon the first part of "Equinox"; whether this story will work depends so much on how the second half plays out. Could this be the beginning of something larger and worthwhile, or are we just doing business as usual, where the themes are presented and neatly resolved in an hour to the status quo thanks to a pushing of the Reset Button™? We can guess (and the nature of that guess might depend upon your level of optimism), but we won't know until this fall.

For now, "Equinox" is a respectable hour with some reasonable meat on them bones. Conflict of the more interesting breed—namely, conflict between people based on ideas rather than shallow "good guys vs. bad guys" games—has been rare on Voyager of late. "Equinox" is like a recharge that in a way seems to turn back the clock and give the writers some second chances.

The premise resembles the material of season one, back when survival in the Delta Quadrant was a serious question rather than a given. The Voyager crew comes upon the distressed USS Equinox, a severely damaged Federation starship that, like Voyager, has been stranded in the Delta Quadrant for about (we presume) four or five years after having been, like Voyager, brought halfway across the galaxy by the Caretaker. (The chances of these two ships encountering each other should probably have been infinitesimal, but we of course will embrace suspension of disbelief.)

Unlike Voyager, the Equinox was not designed for long-term deep-space missions. It's a smaller ship with a smaller crew, and they suffered extreme casualties their first week in the Delta Quadrant and never recovered. It's been hell ever since.

The captain of the Equinox is one Rudy Ransom, played by John Savage with a voice that seems to say "untrustworthy" with every breath. He and Janeway have a captain-to-captain discussion about their respective Delta Quadrant adventures, at which point the issue of the Prime Directive inevitably surfaces. Just how has Ransom and his remaining crew survived under such extreme circumstances?

Well, the trouble is far from over. An alien presence is after the Equinox, and once the two ships are united, the Equinox's problem becomes Voyager's problem. The aliens exist in some weird-phased technobabble realm a la the 8472s in "Scorpion." They are wearing down the shields slowly but surely, and within a couple days, both the Equinox and Voyager will be vulnerable. Meanwhile, some captains' tensions begin to build, as it becomes increasingly clear Ransom doesn't intend to abandon his crippled vessel and join Janeway in the more-strategically-viable unified stand aboard Voyager. Ransom is hiding something, and Janeway wants to know what.

The answer to what Ransom is hiding brings forth the moral issues, although there are some qualms we must overlook in order to go along.

First of all, there's an annoying overuse of that evil storytelling standby known as Trekkian technobabble. I'd be confident in saying that, with some fine tuning, about half the jargon here could've been eliminated outright with no sacrifice to the storyline. At times here the dialog grows needlessly bloated—filled with the kind of meaningless techno-nerd stuff that parody authors love to jam their comedy skits full of in order to make fun of Trekkers.

It turns out that Ransom's crew, with the help of the Equinox's holographic doctor (sans his ethical subroutine), discovered that the aliens from the other realm could be converted into a power source that could enhance the warp engines and get them home much more quickly. The discovery was made by accident, but Ransom crossed the line by using a technical procedure to trap and kill more of them for their energy-supplying properties.

The moralizing is fairly straightforward, with Janeway condemning Ransom's immoral actions and confining the Equinox crew to quarters. However, I did find the underlying implications to be worthwhile: At what point would a crew facing immediate danger and endless desperation finally cross the line of morality and resort to murder to save themselves? This season, both Voyager and DS9 have shown some of their best material when dealing with moral questions. Granted, that's always been a key part of Trek's formula, but it's nice to see these moral issues put in more extreme circumstances, as they are here and with DS9's war setting.

The action takes a few twists, like an idea where the Voyager Doctor is swapped with the Equinox's Doctor, who helps Ransom and his crew escape confinement on Voyager. Meanwhile, we have Starfleet officers firing phasers on each other as the alien presence comes closer to breaking through Voyager's shields.

Aside from Ransom, "Equinox" features some other guest characters, and there's a sense that perhaps some of them are being set up for something more than an idle guest appearance. Ensign Marla Gilmore (Olivia Birkelund) has several character-establishing scenes that might bode well for the backdrop of a new recurring character. And first officer Max Burke (Titus Welliver), one of B'Elanna's old flings from the academy days, provides for an amusing scene where Paris learns that one of B'Elanna's nicknames was "BLT." Kudos for McNeill's 100 percent Tom-like delivery of "BLT?" in wondering how Max came up with this nickname, and if this guy is competition he should worry about. (Unfortunately, Ensign Harry "Chump" Kim had to turn around and call Tom "Turkey Platter," which was just bad, bad, bad. Somebody, please put this goof out of his misery.)

Which of these guest characters, if any, will come aboard Voyager and which of them will die is anyone's guess, but there's potential here for something new. (Personally, I'd lay odds on Gilmore coming aboard.)

Concerning the regular cast, one thing that had me somewhat confused was the smiling, cute version of B'Elanna Torres. B'Elanna's all-over-the-map characterization this season has been a bit annoying. Suddenly, after being a hard-ass the past few episodes, she seems like a B'Elanna Lite here. Even her hairdo has a softer attitude to it. Where's the consistency? I'm sure B'Elanna has many sides to her personality, but in recent months the contrast has given me whiplash.

As a season finale, "Equinox" isn't a nail-biter (I enjoyed the issues and dialog much more than the would-be suspense), but I did find it rather strange how many comparisons can be made with previous Voyager season finales. For example, the episode ends with Doc and Seven aboard the escaping Equinox, which reminds me of the "stowaway factor" in "Basics." The presence of another Federation starship and the theme of returning home is reminiscent of "Hope and Fear." And the central dilemma has several things similar to "Scorpion": the issue of starting a war with the aliens, a la 8472 (right down to these new aliens being from some other realm), and to a lesser degree the moral questions involving the deaths of these aliens. Take these comparisons for what you feel they're worth; I simply found them ... noteworthy.

As for the ending ... I didn't like the dumb final shot that sent us into cliffhanger mode—not one bit. Quite frankly, I just can't get excited by cliffhangers anymore, especially those with such obvious, supposed "shock value," which in reality are simply shock-free. Sending me out for the season with the hokey pretense of "Janeway's gonna die!" is not compelling, but instead just silly. (Although, if Janeway does spend part of "Equinox, Part II" in sickbay, you can add that to the tally of comparisons by drawing a parallel to "Scorpion, Part II." But I digress.)

Anyway. I overall enjoyed "Equinox." There are some promising issues presented here, but how it all plays out will be the true test of whether this is actually worth the revisit. After the Federation/Maquis and Delta Quadrant survival issues were squandered in season two, I'd hate to see history repeat itself in "Equinox, Part II." Until then, I like what I see, even if there are a few hang-ups.

Upcoming: Lots of reruns. I'll be writing the annual season recap to be posted sometime in the next few weeks. Until then, I'm outta here.

Previous episode: Warhead
Next episode: Equinox, Part II

End-of-season article: Fifth Season Recap

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Comment Section

65 comments on this post

    Equinox is one of my favorite Voyager episodes. Some good trek. It at least establishes how obsessed Janeway could become and that she can make wrong decisions.

    However, at one point, on the bridge of Equinox, Ransom asks Janeway if she has ever broken the prime directive..and Janeway says, "broken it? never, bent it a couple of times." Are you kidding me ? No other captain in the trek history (well Kirk doesn't really count..he was sort of before PD) has broken the prime directive so many times as Capt. Janeway.

    Agree with AJ, the first episode that actually dealt with the whole ethics vs survival premise of being stranded in the Delta Quadrant. I wish there had been some moral ambiguity though as I symphasized witht he Equinox crew.

    Too bad Voyager was never in a similar situation as the Equinox - would have added layers of depth to the series in my opinion.

    "Too bad Voyager was never in a similar situation as the Equinox - would have added layers of depth to the series in my opinion."

    Exactly right. I really liked this one at first - after I finished the series, I called it my favorite Voyager episode. But it sure loses a lot of luster when you consider how Janeway just keeps her distance and tut-tuts Ransom. A more interesting and daring show would have had her sympathetic to his actions, or even possibly becoming an accomplice. It would have added a nice bookend to the season after she expressed her regret in Night. But no - they just put Picard's words in Janeway's mouth. Weak.

    I don't think I'd give this episode quite 3 stars. More like 2.5.

    The real problem with an episode like this is that everyone on the equinox looks funny and seems untrustworthy from the start. Even from the outset, we know they are the morally corrupt ones... or "the bad guys".

    Why is it on Voyager... there is no room for shades of gray? While the premise is that the "good guys" have fallen out of necessity to survive... the direction, writing and acting makes them out to be cardboard, predictable villains. They don't have any sense of "humanity" left.

    Captain Randsom's actions don't make a lot of sense. If you just found a ship like Voyager, would you really say, "Fuck you" to them like this? Why not just stay aboard voyager and be part of the crew? Why not make the journey home together, even if it does take longer? He's god damn Starfleet captain. Is he really this one-sided?

    There was some hope with the new blond engineer... who perhaps feels a bit of remorse for what happened... but sure enough, after they get out of confinement... she's back to business as usual. I just don't understand how their ENTIRE crew is morally compromised.

    God, I hate how Voyager writes it's villains. I really, really do.

    Never mind about 2.5 stars. More like 1.5 or 2.

    Oh, I also want to remind the equinox crew that Voyager SAVED you. Seriously... your entire crew has to be seriously ethically compromised to not understand what this means. It's like they forgot all the principles of what it means to be human, to be in Starfleet... and to be in the Federation.

    My god... I just hate how the writers make their villains fall to the other end of the spectrum like this. It's bad enough that it's the fore-head of the week behaving like this... but humans as well?

    In TNG, when we say a corrupt captain - it was a big deal, and the motivations were often a bit dire (and dare we say, nobler). For example, one Starfleet captain wanted to risk war with the Cardassians again because he was convinced they were being out of integrity. That captain was just doing what HE thought was right, even though the politics made him he wrong. Even though Picard relieved him, he also understood the threat. Now that's so much better of a premise.

    Not these guys... it's just survival of the fittest. I know that's partially what the episode is ABOUT - leaving those alpha quandrant 'principles' behind... but this is way over the top.

    This is why Voyager is a bad series, and why DS9 is so much better.

    Voyager isn't a bad series. It's not fantastic, and DS9 is better in ways, but I think the fact that DS9 came first hurt Voyager. If Voyager came before DS9, it may have been held in the same regard as TNG. Of course ENT would still be the same. God, imagine if DS9 had been the last series to come out.

    I'm not so sure Voyager would have held up to TNG. TNG is a lot better, even on second or even third viewings. The writing is sharper. The characters ring truer. For a non-serialized series, it was quite good and is very watchable (most of the time... especially season 3 through 7 when the show finally started to click).

    I think we forget how good some of the TNG episodes really were, and how consistently good they were. Yes, Voyager has some fantastic episodes... but they are few and far between. TNG had consistently decent episodes to great ones and only a few duds. Season 4 through 7 really shine as fantastic seasons.

    TNG, while not my favourite series, even holds up to DS9 in some ways... because it offers different types of stories that DS9 can't tell, and vice versa. Voyager is just aimless and doesn't know what it's trying to do at all. Somehow, unlike Voyager, TNG managed to have a direction and a sense of purpose without actually having a serialized plotline.

    The thing that bugs me about this episode is that if the Caretaker took the Equinox then it must've happened before Voyager (when it died). Why hasn't anyone heard of their disappearance? This happened long before the Dominion War so it's not like many ships will have been going missing. You'd think when they contacted Starfleet that time, they would've said "hey, any sign of the Equinox out there?"

    It just seems a bit odd. Hopefully it's answered in part 2.

    Other than that, good solid entertainment with some thought put into it. Good stuff. Let's see if the second part flops like they usually do!

    Didn't Janeway kill aload of borg to get a transwarp coil in Dark Frontier???????? Hmmmmmmm

    Tagline I wish could have been transmitted back in time to the DS9 writers : "When abandon our principles we stop being human."

    Janeway's position may not allow her to be the moral compass that Picard was/is, but damned if she doesn't strike at the heart with lines like these.

    Not the most outstanding season finale Trek has ever delivered, but entertaining fare nonetheless.

    As others have noted, they really kind of blew the potential of the premise by the lack of subtlety. The questions the story raises are long overdue, having been ignored far too long by a series that's never been keen to explore the full implications of its premise. But what could have been a very relevant and probing exploration of upholding morals is spoiled by the fact that Ransom is so obviously bad - there are no shades of grey here, for his actions are clearly repellent and immoral. It's clear all along who the 'goodies' and 'baddies' are, and I for one would have preferred a more complex and subtle approach - one that makes you think and one that maybe even called Janeway's approach into question. But the writers never had the guts to question Janeway's actions and motives - she was always right, because she was the captain. That approach is a bit too cartoonish for my taste.

    BTW, Elliot, your continual anti-DS9 rants are getting pretty tedious. These are Voyager reviews. I imagine hardcore Voyager fans must be vexed by the fact DS9 had far greater critical acclaim, but some things you just have to let go of.


    If you'll notice, DS9 and even TNG reviews are littered with detritus being flung at VOY by comment-leavers and even Jammer himself, so don't single out my "rants" as something tedious just because they show up on VOY pages.

    My complaints about DS9 are rooted in the mythos of Star Trek, so it is necessary to use the other canon itself to lade my arguments.

    even without DS9, Voyager would be pretty mundane. Just look at how Enterpise was, it came after voyager, and it was hard to believe you could go any lower than voyager.

    for a brilliant exciting 2 hr premier with caretaker, the series strove to go down hill.

    so many interesting concepts that never were fully realized, how about having a universe where you have to continuously deal with the year of hell, equinox, species whatever... that would have been interesting. instead of the big reset.

    spilled milk

    While watching this, I'm going to pretend they weren't taken by the Caretaker but instead stranded in a different part of the Delta Quadrant by a wormhole or something else. Maybe the Prophets (for Elliott's sake). Because then I'll have much less implausibility to deal with.

    I liked this two-parter. However, there's one thing that just never made sense:

    Ransom and his crew have been on a battered vessel for months, maybe years. Whatever the aliens are, they don't seem to be confined to any area of space. In other words, there was no real escape from them. So what does Ransom do? He takes his battered vessel and skeleton crew and runs.

    He probably should have obeyed Janeway's wishes and integrated his remaining crew with Voyager's. Destroying the Equinox ("Oh, no! A warp-core breach!") would have covered his crimes, and the two crews could have found a way to defeat the aliens. Or, at least, that seems like it would have been a better play than running in a ship that was in tatters.

    Again, this is a different thing if Ransom thought that if he got X number of light years farther, he could escape the aliens. I know there's a line about how bad Ransom wants to get his crew home, but trying to escape in Equinox was a weird way to accomplish that. Now, if Ransom decided to run away from Voyager AFTER Equinox's actions were discovered, Ransom's decision might make sense. But that's not the way it happened.

    Last point: The evil EMH's actions don't make much sense either. Did he plan on just becoming Voyager's EMH going forward? He transferred himself to Voyager as Equinox was leaving, presumably for good.

    Janeway is a hypocrite in this case: the Voyager crew eats real (non-replicated) animals on a daily basis, from Neelix's kitchen, yet she argues that it is wrong to kill other sentient life forms. So how can she judge Ransom, who is doing no differently? The creatures he kills for fuel for his ship are no different than the bloodworms or other creatures Neelix collects on various planets for his pot. The Voyager crew compromised their Federation ethics some time ago when they stopped eating replicated meat.

    @Paul York. Uhh Paul? By what definition do you consider a hamburger sentient life? Last I checked, food animals didn't have human rights, and I doubt it would in the future either. Saying things like bloodworms have legal rights (cause all sentient life have that) is just the height of silly.

    @Paul and Edax :

    Yeah, I've noticed this misconception in many of your comments: you may want to look up the definition of "sentient," because animals eaten by people in the 24th and 21st centuries don't constitute sentient life. I am willing to extend the line to dolphins and some apes, but bloodworms don't fit the bill. This seems more like some vegan's typically aggravating indictment to guilting us mediæval omnivores.

    I've followed your comments throughout this site lately (prompted mainly by the new TNG reviews) and I really have only one thing to say to your praise of Voyager's captain's "principles":

    Janeway killed Tuvix!

    Hi Josh.

    It's kind of ambiguous that Tuvix was ever a person in his own right. I'm not saying he definitely wasn't, but in that episode,
    1) the question of whether he was a person is never fully answered, just explored in fascinating ways,
    2) Janeway's ultimate decision is extremely difficult for her, but it was never in response to a definitive moral argument.

    At any rate, that's kind of Janeway's character; she's the ultimate mother figure--she (feels she) has the right and duty to hold others to strict moral standards while bending them herself when she feels she must. Hers is the same model as Starfleet itself--every captain breaks the prime directive and they should, but the rule has to exist in principle none the less.

    Nice to have a fan/stalker

    This episode ruined the doctor. All the time the writers put into his sentience and humanity is made pointless when a single button press turns him into an evil villain.

    This was another of those "good, could have been MUCH better" episodes. Ransom and especially 'Max' had "villain" written on their foreheads from the start, and the crew seems pretty stupid in places. Why didn't Janeway think to send the Doctor to the lab when Ransom first mentioned the radiation?

    The BLT scene is a good example of Voyager's dumbed-down writing style. Here's how the scene should have been:
    Tom: BLT?
    Torres: It was a nickname.
    Tom: How romantic.
    Instead, they felt it was necessary to explain the play on words, like we couldn't figure it out. Nothing is left for the viewer to determine for himself, everything is spoon-fed. Cut this out, and most of the technobabble, and you have time to explain HOW the Equinox got stuck in the Delta Quadrant, and flesh out some of the characters a little more.

    I was quietly impressed with this big event of an episode, ending a strong season with a bang.

    The concept was very cool and I loved the way that even the villians got believable characterisations and giving the drama a grittier edgier tone, it's not so easy for our heroes when nothing is clear-cut. The tension and the darker approach ignited the power of the stark violent clashes. Star Trek: Equinox would have been an awesome show!

    My intrest was gripped firmly and I was invested all the way into the story, which irons over the few minor creases (the last minute twist was unnecessary or at least uneffective, could have added even more fire to some confrontations, some suspensions of disbelief is needed at times etc) and I'm very eager for part 2. A solid 3 stars which came close to earning another half star.

    Small obvservation; I reckon those little invading aliens might have been homaging the TOS episode 'Operation Annihilate!' a little if you ask me.

    janeway didnt send the doctor at first because it was going to take a few days for it to clear. upon further review, they noticed the radiation wasnt dissipating.

    I dont get all the voyager vs DS9 vs TNG bashing. DS9 was unique because of it is stationary location and the long story arcs. however, TNG and Voyager are both the same. most of their episodes are self contained. that is what makes TNG re-run episodes watchable.

    stop thinking voyager is supposed to be like DS9. the purpose of Voyager was not for the ARCS...but to force the writers to invent different aliens and situations. it gave the carte blanche to be more creative.

    i enjoyed this episode. It was refreshing to see another Starfleet ship. and it gave the audience, a "what if?" i am sad that we dindt get more stories from them on cool worlds or alien battles. and i do agree, that there is a bit of a lack of common sense now they are on a better starship.

    however, i watch movies and shows to be entertained. i was fully entertained, so i give this a 3.5 stars.

    Finally! A decent episode(s)! I was getting pretty bored of Voyager. These held my interest the whole way through. I remember seeing this one in the original run. I even remembered the basic premise. It's a good episode when I remember it for that long! :) I loved Mr. Savage. I have seen him in stuff before, but he really shined in this. So did his 2nd in command. Janeway seemed to go a bit overboard and that seemed out of character. But, it was nice to see her not being perfect for once.

    @Peter York
    You wrote the below in the "Nothing Human" comments

    " Rats and mice are also sentient and thus equally deserving of moral consideration"

    Then you posted this tidbit here:

    " Janeway is a hypocrite in this case: the Voyager crew eats real (non-replicated) animals on a daily basis, from Neelix's kitchen, yet she argues that it is wrong to kill other sentient life forms."

    As Elliott said in his reply to you, you certainly need to educate yourself on the meaning of "Sentience" and what crteria needs to be meant for a particular life form to be considered "sentient"

    So I am going to repost my reply to you from the "Nothing Human" comments, to double the chance you might see it, thus expanding your knowledge base. No thanks are necessary. I see it as a duty to help the misguided.

    While any living creature should be due certain moral considerations, your statement that rats and mice are sentient is an error that animal rights folks constantly make. Non human animals are obviously alive and conscious ie: they are aware of and react to their surroundings, but because they are still slaves to instinct, they are most definitely not sentient.

    Sentience by definition, requires several factors. A sentient being must be self aware, must be able to perceive their own mortality and must also possess a sense of altruism, or in other words, that there are things bigger or beyond themselves that are worth sacrificing for. And they definitely must have free will, and are not controlled by ingrained instincts. Despite popular belief, Humans don't even possess a true survival instinct, let alone any others. Our altruistic nature suppressed our survival instinct long ago. Involuntary nervous system functions, ie: breathing, heart beat etc are not instincts.

    As an example, the fact that any non human animal mother, in the face of starvation, would eat the last bit of food and let her offspring starve or even eat those offspring to stave off starvation, proves they are not sentient. A human mother would never conceive of such a thing, and that is because humans and humans alone on this planet are sentient. She would sacrifice herself for her children every time.

    Now there are a small number of non human animals on earth that can be considered semi-sentient. Dolphins, chimps and even some octopus have some level of self awareness, ie: some experiments have shown they can recognize themselves in a mirror. Dolphins also have demonstrated some level of altruistic behavior ie: recognizing drowning humans need help and keeping them afloat. But because these animals have not evolved to the point where the are totally free of the controlling effect of instincts on their behavior, they can still not be considered fully sentient.

    Good episode.

    One thing I thought was kind of careless was that the woman doesn't want to take the turbolift...yet she opts for the Jeffries tubes instead--somewhere with even less space to maneuver.

    Mike P is so arrogant, lol.

    This was one of the stronger episodes of Star Trek Voyager I've viewed so far. I've been slowly re-watching the entire series on Netflix, and have been comparing it to my perception of the series when it first aired.

    One of the biggest problems I had (and still do) with Voyager has been raised many times by Jammer, and also many commenters: the unwillingness of the writers to deeply explore the premise of the show.

    I agree with Jammer that the inherent tension of the Federation/Maquis crew in a stranded in a remote part of the galaxy was unfortunately squandered by the writers. Given how much serious dramatic tension *should* exist between the different crews, and the fact that Voyager has taken so much heavy damage (which always magically seems to disappear without a trace) -- the show has often seemed much less realistic than other sci-fi shows that were more willing to explore serious themes in long arcs (e.g. Battlestar Galactica, Space Above and Beyond, Stargate Universe, and DS9).

    So I was relieved that the Equinox two-parter is one of the few episodes that seems to take another stab at what it really means for a Federation starship to be well and truly lost in space, with no magic reset buttons.

    This episode reminded me also of Battlestar Galactica's similar encounter with the Battlestar Pegasus. Both ship's commanders had taken very different ethical paths in the name of survival, and one had crossed some rather serious ethical lines. In some ways, I feel that Janeway's character was very similar to Commander Adama's -- more high-minded, but sometimes hypocritical (as the Pegasus' Admiral Kaine would later point out).

    Janeway's harsh judgment of Ransom is even more ironic, because she more or less follows his example in Year of Hell. While I suppose that timeline never happened, we got to see how Capt. Janeway was willing to bend Starfleet rules to the breaking point and beyond, when her back was up against a wall. Granted, Ransom's actions were hard to justify, but could Janeway so easily say she wouldn't do the same if put in the same position?

    Still, I quite enjoyed this episode, and Part 2. I only wish ST Voyager followed this dramatic concept much, much earlier in its series run. And I have to agree with Jo Jo's comment above that a Star Trek: Equinox series would be rather interesting show to watch. While Voyager is a decent show (truthfully better than I remember it), ST: Equinox might be closer to the Voyager I wish we had seen.

    I'm not going to go into the absurdities of meeting another Federation ship 5 years later. Sometimes, you just gotta go with willing suspension of disbelief.

    What we have here is a great setup though. Once again (much like Year of Hell), we get a glimpse of what life would have been like if we got what so many people here would have wanted - a gritty, dark show with everything falling apart. And, while it's exciting to see in small doses like this, you can see why it would kill any joy in the show. These people are desperate, almost crazy. They are at their wits end on practically everything. They don't even have time to vacuum up the explodey panels that are standard issue on Federation starships. As much as Voyager's reset button was annoying, this would be just as bad.

    But it does give Janeway, and us, a retrospective on what it means to get home. Janeway's character arc throughout the series was to switch from being the high-minded Federation officer committed to her ideals to becoming obsessed with the idea of getting home. In Scorpion, she seems willing to aid the Borg just to get through their space. Not technically breaking any rules, but questionable nonetheless. In Hope and Fear, she saw the negative repercussion of that choice, leading to some severe retrospection in Night. Now, here, we see that it could be much, much worse. Just kill a few aliens and get home. Just a few, only 60. It's not the end of the world, right?

    Of course, Janeway rejects that option. But Ransom is supposed to be the dark mirror of Janeway. He's a great captain too. He had an awesome first contact when he was back in Federation space. And it wasn't like he went straight to pure evil. They didn't mean to kill that alien. They just wanted to contact it to see what it was like. See if they could help. And it died. Well, that was unfortunate. But with no communication, they might as well perform an autopsy. And it can help. They can get home! Is it worth it? Oh no, normally it might not. But they were starving. They were dying. Given that, maybe Captain Ransom would have a point.

    Oh, of course he doesn't have a point. But did Janeway have a point with Endgame?

    Fortunately, almost all of the dialogue and plot elements are focused into this idea, building up the mystery of what these aliens are and why they are attacking, as well as what Ransom's evil plan is. Oh, there are some plot inconsistencies here and there, and the first officer looked way too evil the entire time, but hey, it worked. Exciting episode, but that's pretty much all we want. Unfortunately, the payoff, with the Equinox practically going at war with Voyager, was a bit trite. It was clear they were aiming for a cliffhanger rather than anything overly substantial.

    A strong season closer, and another interesting examination of the 'what if?' concept. Given that Voyager has been built on Janeway's desire to uphold Starfleet principles and procedures, it's good to look at what might have happened if the crew had been trapped outgunned and alone, taken heavy casualties early on, and been trapped in a constant 'Year of Hell'. Again, I'm reminded of the crazed Riker in 'Parallels' - perhaps things wouldn't look so clear cut.

    It's obvious early on that the Equinox carries a dark secret, such are the conventions of these things, but the development of that point is well handled. Ransom is not a comic book villain - he knows he's in the wrong, but having stumbled inadvertently into a morally unjustifiable position he is rationalising to save his crew. At what point do you draw the line? For Ransom, not having any of the advantages of Voyager, that line is different to Janeway. It's good writing, cleverly handled.

    Evil Doctor is worth a smile or two as well. 3.5 stars.

    Shock horror. Excellent story, and decent cliffhanger. Have to watch the next one.

    Great episode but I do wonder how is what Ransom did any different than what Janeway did in "The Swarm"?

    In Janeways case she killed Thousands of Swarm aliens to shave 15 months of her Journey Ransom killed dozens of these extra dimensional lifeforms and harvested their bodies for fuel. To me both have done horrible things to try and get their crew home. The difference is that this is Janeway's show so she has to be right no matter what.

    Did I miss something while watching this episode, or did they fail to establish the sentience of these aliens? The aliens can apparently be summoned repeatedly, which suggests to me that they are falling for a simple "lure". I don't recall any effort to communicate, so how do we (and Voayger's crew) know that this isn't like eating meat?

    Maybe Trek morality frowns upon eating animals? But I am sure I've seen Klingons eating meat, and Sisko's father ran a restaurant that served non-replicated food (seafood, I think, but still animals).

    Why do the EQ crew come off as bad guys?

    .... um.... because they ARE bad guys? They all knew they were screwing up. Which seemed to be fine until Mom came home from work, noticed the cookie crumbs and started investigating.

    Outstanding episode here. I'm sure we will debate much while reviewing part 2. :-)

    Love the "evil doctor", but the BLT stuff was ... well blah. :-)

    I won't go 4 stars, but 3.5 here. Apt "cliff-hanger".

    nice, gripping, suspenseful, exciting. The doctor has verbal diarrhea (***)

    It's hard to believe that the old BLT we've spent five seasons hearing about would have dated this guy...

    After five years stranded, I'm a little surprised that Naomi is still "the only child" on Voyager.

    This was a pretty good episode. Not 4 stars, but better than 3. Main problem is that, as another pointed out, the new characters look shady right at the outset. Clearly, though, they'd have to pull some major sleight of hand to hide that from us, even with a major recast. In any case, it was a thoroughly engaging episode. The prospect of Federation vs Federation had more tension in it than fully 75% of Voyager episodes. Only the Borg provide such a credible threat. Don't remember if they were or not, but the Equinox crew should've been set up as a major reoccurring villain for season 6. Ideology vs survival instinct.

    I think some people are confusing "sentience" with "sapience." According to Wikipedia: Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (reason) from the ability to feel (sentience). ... In Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care.

    People tend to use these terms interchangeably, but they're not. I think all mammals have sentience, but only humans and likely a few other primates, theoretically some species of parrot, maybe elephants, and possibly some sea creatures, like dolphins (not sure about certain octopuses or squid), either possess or at least are suspected of having some degree of sapience.

    Can anyone imagine Captain Kirk agreeing to let Ms Janeway take over command 'cos of her better ship?

    He wouldn't have a choice. But that said, he wouldn't have got caught :-)

    The material focused on the Equinox crew isn't bad, generally; it's a little obvious at times, but generally the material for Ransom and Gilmore especially was pretty effective. It felt believable that these were people pushed to the limits of human endurance, and that Ransom decided to throw out his ethics in order to protect his crew at that point. What I think doesn't quite work in this episode is the Voyager side of things. It is *such* a big deal for Voyager to find another ship out there in the Delta Quadrant, and yet the episode plays the crews meeting each other in a mostly blase manner, and then the shock at the discovery of what the Equinox crew has done is also even a little understated, outside Janeway herself and to a much lesser extent Chakotay. It's an interesting idea for a show, but there is something workmanlike and disinterested in the execution. Even Janeway's horror at what Ransom has done doesn't quite get played properly; the episode seems to keep Janeway at a distance, and we even seem to see her reaction more from Ransom's POV than from Janeway's own. Had the episode gone full-tilt and just outright embraced the Equinox crew POV all the way, it might have improved things somewhat. The whole thing feels curiously thin. I think part 2 improves on many of these problems but also introduces some other ones; but I think I'd say that most of the drama (and what there is interesting to talk about) is in part 2, so I'll leave off here. 2.5 stars.

    RANSOM: How often have you broken the prime directive?
    JANEWAY: bent it though, you?
    RANSOM: Uhhhh, yeah... same.....

    If only they could just be honest with each other...

    This is as good a place as any to make this point: "Technobabble" is a *good* thing. Nothing is more distracting to me as a sci-fi viewer than for things to "magically" happen in a story with no attempt made to plausibly explain them within the context of the program's mythos. Maybe you don't want to know the "why" of an episode's events, but not all of us are so incurious, and Trek does us that courtesy. The more 'technobabble,' the better, I say.

    Now, on to my other point about "Equinox" itself. Janeway came across as insufferably self-righteous when she confronted Ransom about his crew's experimentation on the nucleogenic life forms. Also hypocritical; if anybody should be able to empathize with Ransom, it's Janeway. Sure, if you still want to write her as objecting to what the Equinox's crew did in order to maintain some level of moral conflict, fine, but the way she came down on Ransom was more belligerent than even her confrontations with the Borg Queen. The Equinox wasn't the black heart of pure evil; they were a path that Voyager had been spared (by Berman and Braga, but still....). Ransom had a point: If Janeway had been Equinox's captain, and her ship had been shattered, her crew starving and dying, what might she have been driven to do? We all know how obsessed she's always been with getting her crew home, after all. Maybe she would have followed Ransom's example, maybe she wouldn't, but she wouldn't even acknowledge the question; almost as if she didn't want to think about the possibility that Ransom was right. The survival of her crew versus high-falutin' Starfleet principles - it really is a pity the writers never forced that choice on her, as they did Ransom.

    Perhaps Janeway's vehemence was meant to be an implicit indication that yes, she would have done what Ransom had in his place, and that buried acknowledgement to herself so horrified her that she lashed out at its external symbol: the Equinox's C.O. But I would have preferred a more open admission of same, and perhaps, ironically, a more Roddenberryian solution where both crews tried to communicate with the extradimensional aliens and work with them to arrive at a mutually beneficial compromise. That would have been a better plot direction than having Voyager and Equinox wind up senselessly shooting at each other. Indeed, the idea of a two-ship fleet led by Commodore Janeway would have been a nice way to shake up the show, even for a season.

    I really liked the exchange between Ransom and Janeway when he explains what he's doing with the aliens and she lectures him on the prime directive, but I wish there was more yelling. It's a weird thing to say, but that scene is just dying to have some Picard yelling. (The line must be drawn here!)

    The big advantage of "Equinox" is having another Federation ship/crew and being able to deal with some moral issues that are more common to the other Treks since we're not dealing with the random alien villain of the week. So it is refreshing to see another Federation ship and the difficult decision they make for survival and how Ransom justifies it -- interesting the question Ransom asks Janeway about PD violations...

    Janeway gives her usual moralizing speech about if we turn our backs on our principles, we cease to be human. Wonder if she ever revisits her past decisions... But Ransom and his crew (especially 1st officer) realized what they were doing and had to try to get away with their secret -- otherwise they'd be confined to the Voyager brig for ever. Might as well get this out into the open when the two start whispering to each other in the cafeteria.

    I liked the different characters for the 4 Equinox crew members that we got to know -- the female engineer is obviously not comfortable with what's going on and the 1st officer comes across as a jerk. Ransom seems shady. The black guy just seems your typical loyal soldier type.

    There's the usual VOY technobabble regarding the aliens and propulsion and field generators...but I think the gist of it is pretty clear, although some of the moving parts were over my head. Interesting that the Equinox staff could just get rid of the holographic doctors ethics subroutines...that's a bit of a stretch. So we get an evil doctor as well.

    The ending did remind me of "Basics" and perhaps it's a bit cliche with Janeway attacked making us fear the worst. The action scenes weren't excessive and so they were tolerable.

    A strong 2.5 stars for "Equinox, Part I" -- some decent groundwork laid and I didn't get the impression that we're in for a big reset at the end of Part II like some other Voyager 2-parters. Decent guest actors/characters and a good story in the works with an obvious pursuit of the Equinox lined up for Part II. It's not like there's plenty of loose ends to tie up either.

    First part is nicely done. We never get a really good explanation for them being in the Delta quadrant (why didn't the Caretaker send them back?), but who cares. I can buy that they are stuck in the Delta Quadrant.

    Great concept, the killing of innocent, sentient beings to get home! I certainly didn't figure out their secret ahead of time.

    Liked the BLT stuff, and just the idea of the crew getting to interact with new people.

    After reading comments and review:

    --When it comes to breaking the Prime Directive, in Janeway's answer about how she's never actually broken it, we see how she lives with herself and her own questionable decisions: She does what most people do. She makes fudge with a cup of selective memory, two tablespoons of euphemisms, and sprinkling of denial.

    --We're again looking at moral relativism, and where the lines are between good and evil. Look at the name of the ship and the episode: Equinox. That time of the year when day and night are of equal length. A big clue to the main theme.

    --Voyager is a wonderful series.

    So each alien increases the Equinox's warp speed by 0.03% and Captain Ransom said they'll need 63 more aliens to get home. That's less than a 2% increase. How many aliens did they already sacrifice to make that work? Sounds like the math is pretty weak on this one.

    “When we abandon our principles we stop being human”

    What absolute nonsense.

    The only thing that makes me human is my genes, the fact that I am of the genus Homo and the species sapiens sapiens, morality has no bearing on humanity. I don’t think that having principles are wrong, but ultimately they are the opinions of men, preferences no different than preferring chicken to steak or red to blue, your moral preferences can be 100% right for you and wrong for someone else, they can also change with the hands on a clock, and while you can obviously prefer your own preferences over the preferences of someone else I don’t think that there is a basis for saying that your moral preferences are objectively superior to any others or that they should be an authority that others abide.

    The only way that the notion of “morally superior” is possible is if your moral’s are not the creation of men, but a pronouncement by an authority higher than man. However Starfleet isn’t claiming that the prime directive and their ethics are divinely inspired, they’re ideas that were created and chosen by men, they’re opinions and are no more right (or wrong) than any other opinion.

    What the crew of the Equinox did was completely right and moral under their system of morality, and that is all that matters.

    @ Marc

    I don't know how to address most of your rant. But let me just briefly mention that the value of one's morality is based upon consistency.

    That BLT nickname just tickles me to no end, and this two-parter is about as good as Voyager can get.

    Re: Harry Kim. "Somebody, please put this goof out of his misery." Couldn't agree more. This line made me cackle.

    I hate Janeway. Such a hypocrite with her “not breaking prime direct”. Also, she was willing to destroy and kill the EQ crew trying while trying pretend she was the epitome of a star fleet officer.

    One of the rare times we see Torres smile. Maybe cause an old flame arrived lol. Tom clearly isn’t doing his job

    I'm curious about what must have happened when the Equinox was dragged to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker. Did Ransom and his crew make no attempt to negotiate a return to the Alpha Quadrant with the Caretaker, as Janeway and Voyager did? Did something happen (e.g. a Kazon attack?) that prevented Ransom and the Equinox from trying to negotiate? Did the Equinox simply flee as far as it could as soon as it could?

    Recall that the main reason that Voyager wasn't returned to the Alpha Quadrant was that the Caretaker died and Janeway, in destroying the array, in her own words 'stranded them all in the Delta Quadrant'. It was possible for the Caretaker to return vessels; he simply claimed there wasn't time to do so in Voyager's case.

    I don't have a problem with the Equinox and Voyager bumping into each other as Ransom specifically states the Equinox encountered a wormhole, and presumably both ships were both taking the most efficient course back to the Alpha Quadrant when they intersected. If the Equinox did flee the array in panic or due to some event that Voyager did not experience, that would also explain how the Equinox took a different course than Voyager (encountering different space and different species, as Ransom recounts) up to encountering and passing through the wormhole, whereupon the Equinox's and Voyager's courses would once again converge.

    Casting John Savage as Captain Ransom with that voice was incredibly distracting. Nothing against the actor, but with his slightly severe appearance and particularly that voice, he was so obviously eeevil that they might as well have given him a mustache to twirl.

    When I first saw this, because of the character's demeanor, I assumed he was some sort of impostor or something. That made me expect a Happy Voyager Ending.

    didn’t like Janeway in this episode, she was so self-righteous…

    In exceptional circumstances, killing another to save oneself may be unpunishable under German law. In the case of the equinox crew, it is debatable whether the killings were really necessary to save oneself. After all, it was only a matter of getting home faster. Then again it could be argued that it was necessary to protect his crew. But protect from what? From coming home later?
    I think there should have been more discussions about this.

    But at least one can show empathy for their actions and understanding but least of all, allow for a debate. Janeway was acting horrible here.

    Anytime I run across this episode and happen to drop by a forum that's discussing it I'm surprised by how many people mistakenly believe these aliens were just animals. For example, this idiot:

    Nonsapient animals can't communicate as these creatures did. They can't execute the type of complex pursuit across that kind of distance and then switch targets to another of its species in an effort of blackmail them into giving up the original targets. They can't then make a ceasefire pact to work together to turn over the original targets.

    You've never seen this with pigs or any other animals that we eat. You've never seen this with any creature that wasn't at least suspected to have some level of sapience, not sentience, SAPIENCE. This aliens were people. I don't care if they didn't look like humans. I don't care if they could swim through space naked. Or needed an interpreter to communicate.

    They were essentially a hunter-gatherer species that was being murdered so a crew of aholes could get home in time for the Superbowl. The only way you can condone this type of slaughter is if you're okay with some first world nation finding out a hunter-gatherer tribe is sitting on a mineral deposit that turns out to be the catalyst for cold fusion reactions and they wipe them out for "the greater good." It's indefensible.

    My 2 complaints about this episode are:

    1. The video game like appearance of the aliens and the "fissures" like something out of Malcom Reeds holodeck security training program.

    2. The claim that a .03% or a 2% increase in warp speed would reduce the getting home time from decades to months. If that were the case then wouldn't just increasing Voyagers top speed from like 9.975 to 9.999 do the same thing? Of course the warp speeds are totally random and inconsistent across even episodes from the same series, so whatever.

    @Michael I believe the warp speed scale used in Voyager / TNG is exponential and not linear so the difference between say Warp 9.99 and Warp 9.9 or 9.7 is waaaaaay greater than the difference between say Warp 8 and Warp 9.

    My head canon on this is that the 70 year time estimate wasn't merely a calculation of top speed versus total light years, but also taking into account energy and the fact that a Starship can't just set a course at top speed and just gun it home with zero refuelling or maintenance.

    As usual
    "No Interference" Policy doesn't apply to Kathryn Janeway if she can embody police of the galaxy.
    She would even kill, for the good of Starfleet.

    The Equinox crew were clearly in the wrong. Their escape from Voyager having been detained should not have been able to happen.

    Good but not great episode. I agree with Jammer's three star rating.

    @Quincy: "I think some people are confusing 'sentience' with 'sapience.'"

    I was thinking the same. I would take issue with bloodworms being sentient, but not cows or mice. For me, it's all a continuum. Personally, I draw the line at pork, as I feel pigs are too high on the sapience scale; but I will eat organic, free range beef and chicken as well as wild-caught fish.

    @Stephen: "This episode reminded me also of Battlestar Galactica's similar encounter with the Battlestar Pegasus. Both ship's commanders had taken very different ethical paths in the name of survival, and one had crossed some rather serious ethical lines. In some ways, I feel that Janeway's character was very similar to Commander Adama's -- more high-minded, but sometimes hypocritical (as the Pegasus' Admiral Kaine would later point out)."

    100%. I'm really surprised that there was only one comment, posted more than a decade ago, noting this.

    @Skeptical: "Once again (much like Year of Hell), we get a glimpse of what life would have been like if we got what so many people here would have wanted - a gritty, dark show with everything falling apart. And, while it's exciting to see in small doses like this, you can see why it would kill any joy in the show. These people are desperate, almost crazy. They are at their wits end on practically everything. They don't even have time to vacuum up the explodey panels that are standard issue on Federation starships. As much as Voyager's reset button was annoying, this would be just as bad."

    Point taken. Even BSG couldn't stay in "33" mode indefinitely.

    @Jeffrey Jakucyk: "So each alien increases the Equinox's warp speed by 0.03% and Captain Ransom said they'll need 63 more aliens to get home. That's less than a 2% increase. How many aliens did they already sacrifice to make that work? Sounds like the math is pretty weak on this one."

    I was wondering about that too. I initially thought they were presenting it as such a miniscule improvement to be like "you sacrificed innocent lives for THAT?!?" But then it sounded like they were going to get home within their lifetimes because of this, so I don't get it.

    This was a good episode in that it lets the horror of what the Equinox crew is doing slowly reveal itself to the viewer. I may vaguely remember this episode, or perhaps I've seen enough sci-fi to make a guess, but I thought the Equinox crew was doing something to upset the aliens.

    It is a sad thing that these people gave up on morals to try to get home. It shows how desperate some people can get-I find that only having a real value system based on something higher than human thinking can we stay morally focused.

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