Star Trek: Voyager


2.5 stars.

Air date: 10/14/1998
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston

"Nihiliphobia—the fear of nothingness. Or in layman's terms, the fear of ... nothingness." — Doc

Review Text

Nutshell: A reasonable start to the season, but with a few too many drawbacks.

Voyager's season five premiere, "Night," is like a seesaw, where on one side we have elements of promise and originality, and on the other we have the familiar frustrations. Which side wins out? I'm not exactly sure. I'm inclined to call it a draw.

An episode like "Night" reveals a duality that exists within much of starship-based Trek. One half of this duality allows me to be interested in where these characters are going next, because sci-fi's possibilities are so broad. But with the other half, I realize that, in creative terms, they've probably already been where they're headed. It's a duality that makes me wonder how long a Trek series can last without striving to break the conventions of formula—which in turn makes me wonder how fatal a mistake it was for Voyager to ignore the more consequential implications of its setting way back when the long-lasting standards were being set.

What's funny is that DS9 seems strangely immune to this Trek duality because its format these days is so labyrinthine, unpredictable, and particularly mindful of its own history. I'm not trying to go out of way to say "DS9 good, Voyager bad"—what I'm saying is that Voyager continues to come off as a new breed of TOS, whereas DS9 comes off as a breed of its own. (Sometimes I wonder where we'd be if DS9 had turned to exploring the Gamma Quadrant in TNG style rather than exploring its political and metaphysical powers within a war setting.)

Anyway, back to the point here: For me, a lot of "Night" was an example of utilizing the standard Trek formula, but also an example of how to use Voyager's elements well. The original point of this series was that the ship and crew were alone. But the ship has never really been alone; they've always been in contact with some alien species, or as Janeway puts it, "constantly under attack."

In "Night," Voyager is travelling through a void where there's nothing—no stars, no civilizations, no light. Just the starship Voyager, out there alone for two months now, with no expectations for encountering another star system or alien ship for another two years. "Every sailor's worst nightmare," Chakotay says ominously.

The psychological aspects of the episode are its most compelling. An early shot of the ship is eerie, with no stars visible anywhere—the only light emanating from Voyager itself. It's quite a striking visual. Later, a panicking Neelix wakes up in the middle of the night, looks out his window, and sees … absolutely nothing. It's like looking into the depths of literal oblivion.

The effect this all has on the crew is believable and interesting. Everyone is a little on-edge. Neelix's panic attacks provide the most immediately effective example. And even Tuvok looks mysteriously at stars on the astrometrics lab viewscreen, almost as if for comfort, as he comments to Seven that the view from his window "has been less than stellar lately." (If that isn't the Vulcan pun to end all puns, then I don't know what is.)

The Tom/B'Elanna bickering, however, didn't do all that much for me. Is seemed pretty standard and tired, and Tom's jokes resided on the not-so-funny-but-just-plain-insulting side. (His mention of Klingon pain sticks seemed especially inappropriate. For one, B'Elanna has never "enjoyed" such activities; for another, the comment is, well, stereotypical.) Overall, though, the idea of Voyager in darkness is probably the highlight of the episode.

There are some other good ideas in "Night." Beyond the isolation setting, there's also the new "Captain Proton" holonovel—Paris' fantasy program that pays homage to those cheap 1940s sci-fi serials. It's a scream. (Besides, how can you not like a holodeck program that's offered in black-and-white?) We seem to go through approximately one holodeck theme per year, ranging from the French pool hall, Janeway's Victorian novel, Neelix's resort, to Leonardo da Vinci's workshop. "Captain Proton" easily has the potential of being the most fun if the writers can keep it interesting.

Meanwhile, through the early stages of the episode, I kept asking myself, "Where's the captain?" Chakotay's on the bridge; no Janeway. Staff meeting is run by Chakotay; no Janeway. The crew asks for the captain; Chakotay responds, "The captain sends her regards." Where is she and what's going on?

A good question, but the answer isn't quite what I had in mind. The biggest problem with "Night" is probably this aspect of the story—and unfortunately, it pretty much brings the emotional core of the episode tumbling down with it.

There's always been plenty of potential for Janeway to wrestle with controversial decisions she has made over the years, the most obvious one, as in this case, being her original decision to destroy the Caretaker's array and leave Voyager stranded in the Delta Quadrant. Fine and good, but I have some severe problems with the way Janeway goes about "dealing" with this guilt here.

In short, I find Janeway's actions a little inexplicable. As Chakotay rightly puts it, "You've picked a bad time to isolate yourself from the crew"—and I personally don't think this demonstrates Janeway being a good leader. Sure, I can understand her guilt catching up with her given the current predicament of being out in the middle of a dark, empty void. But for her to simply make herself unavailable, telling Chakotay to "send the crew her regards" is questionable behavior at best—and selfish and out of character at worst. Even when her flaws are at their most evident, Janeway has always been one who maintains confidence in the decisions she makes, and I find the notion of locking herself in a darkened room to be something of a plausibility stretch and a bit silly.

Objections to Janeway's course of action aside, I also feel the "guilt issue" falls severely short of what it could've been dramatically. Why not press it further? Chakotay's attempt, for example, to comfort the captain with, "We're alive, aren't we?" should've opened the door to an entire conversation, but didn't. Just once I'd like to see all those unnamed Voyager crew members who have died over the past four years receive some sort of acknowledgement. Even having Janeway counter with a well-played, "What about those who aren't with us anymore?" could've gone a long way. But such crew members simply vanish into the convenience of "red-shirt oblivion" (despite the fact that Janeway, unlike Captain Kirk, doesn't have the luxury of setting course for the nearest starbase to take on new crew members).

Fortunately, once the episode launches into action, Janeway resumes her rightful place on the bridge. And as far as New Alien Encounters go, this week was fairly fresh. Not groundbreaking, but effective.

Over the summer, Brannon Braga voiced the writing staff's intention to "push the envelope" of alien encounters this year. While this is an attitude that should've arisen the moment Voyager found itself in the Delta Quadrant when the series began, I'm all for the concept of "better late than never," and it's a completely prudent measure to take at this stage of the game, where it's obvious that the goal of the series is to be "TOS in the Delta Quadrant." So on this front, the idea of aliens who live out in the middle of "nowhere" and thrive on darkness is a perfectly workable idea.

That's not to say that the plot is particularly imaginative; it's essentially the TOS attitude with a '90s spin, the theme that seemed to be the goal of much of Voyager's fourth season. For the most part, it's fine here. We have the bizarre aliens who live in the dark and attack Voyager. And then, in perfect TOS fashion, we learn that peace and conflict come in unlikely packages (the reverse of what we initially assume); the dark-habitat aliens are actually the peaceful group (who made a mistake when attacking Voyager) at the mercy of the alien visitor who had earlier come to Voyager's rescue when it was under attack. The formula then follows that Janeway & Co. must get involved to do the right thing, which is made particularly easy when it turns out the visiting alien to this realm is literally dumping toxic waste, which is killing the peaceful aliens who live in the darkness.

This is classic Trekkian morality—not particularly challenging, but nice nonetheless. And conceptually, Michael Westmore's makeup design delivers on the "strange and unusual" level. Ultimately, Janeway's decision to open fire on the toxic waste dumper when he refuses to listen to reason displays a very Kirk-like attitude. Funny how the cycles repeat themselves.

Turning back to problems, however, is the silliest moment of the show—a crucial decision that is much too easily plotted around. I'm referring of course to Janeway's decision to make sure Voyager escapes through a spatial vortex that exits the void on the other side. Her decision requires that she stay behind and collapse the vortex after Voyager has passed through it. But her crew won't let her make this sacrifice. They refuse to follow the given order, and as a result Janeway essentially folds and says, "Fine, then—Plan B." Plan B requires that no one make any sacrifice; instead, the ship must be put in some sort of artificial technobabble jeopardy for 90 or so seconds (accompanied by a battle sequence and nifty special effects).

This is the flaw that keeps the episode from being worth a recommendation. I enjoyed this show okay as an action outing, but when the central character core becomes virtually a non-issue solved with a laughably thin plot device, it becomes hard to get much out of the show in terms of dramatic payoff. Besides, given how much danger the ship is put through week after week, I don't see why Plan B wasn't just Plan A in the first place.

As a season premiere, "Night" manages both to entertain and to frustrate. The teaser and first act are wonderfully engaging, but then the show slowly descends into reasonable action and ultimately resigns itself to shallow solutions, which is a shame. Within this episode I see elements that could turn out to be the beginnings of some very good trends, but I also see some of the same old pratfalls and the series' general refusal to tell a story requiring any length of an attention span.

Next week: Beware—baby Borg becomes big, bad burden.

Previous episode: Hope and Fear
Next episode: Drone

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Comment Section

111 comments on this post

    I would have preferred the episode staying in claustrophobic night mode and "nothingness" until the end (=no story involving aliens etc). This would have been a perfect scenario for more in-depth character development. Could have been a winner.
    The other thing that bothered me was Janeway acting out ouf character by isolating herself.

    Excellent episode that was unfortunately detracted by Janeway's silly attempt at self-sacrifice. It's a shame they didn't stretch Voyager's tour through the Void across several episodes.

    Agree with my two predecessors, but nevertheless: One of my favorite shows of the whole series. Considering what happened at the end of season 4 I found Janeway's conduct absolutly believable and well acted!

    They must have loved this empty region of space, because they found another one like it in Season 7.

    Alright. I like this episode because it has some variety, but I agree that the whole Janeway wanting to sacrifice herself was probably the silliest thing, and was done purely for emotional exploitation. I do like the role Chakotay plays though. And of course the magic deflector always comes to the rescue. It can do anything apparently.

    And I still have a problem with their destroying that vortex. Who gave them the right to do so ? It would have been much more interesting to see them make the first contact with the Melon homeworld, because frankly that judgement that Janeway made based solely on ONE corrupt Melon they had just met, was highly illogical to put it mildly. And I would really like to have seen a real big Delta quadrant civilization.

    I really liked this episode, but I couldn't help but wonder: How can the aliens possibly live this far away from any stars? Where do they get their energy?

    I'm also willing to overlook this episode's weak points, the worst one for me being that hopelessly obvious escape down the tube... er... vortex... and out of the void. The plot framework felt inventive enough, the eye candy was impressive, and the dialogue was sharp. The crew's unease set up some excellent moments (Tuvok and Chakotay, and Seven in the holodeck).

    As usual I think Jammer was right on the money with most of the analysis. But I didn't have much of a problem with Janeway's actions. She was never written to be quite as ruthless as her decisions suggest her to be, and by this point in the series it was past time for her to do some soul searching, even if it wasn't going to drastically alter the show on a larger scale. Even a half-hearted attempt to revive some of the issues raised in "Hope and Fear" was better than none at all.

    As for the amorphous crew, it's the writers' fault for never meaningfully including them, not Janeway's. If they'd ever given us something like "The Ship", or even just some "Ten Forward" style filler, I could see Voyager's losses having a real emotional impact. But Voyager's isolation would have made broaching that topic in a way that wasn't utterly deflating very tricky. It clearly wasn't something they wanted to deal with.

    I really like the first part, up until the malon show up. I especially like the way voyager's lights go off all over the ship slowly, even if it doesn't make a lot of sense. Hollywood physics. The one part that really annoys me for some reason is when tuvok and harry are discussing how they'll 'shed some light' on what's going on, or whatever, tuvok technobabbles and harry says "a warp flare". Why is it a warp flare? Why not just a flare? Sure it's a photon torpedo but just call it a bloody flare!

    I'm weird. But over time this has become one of my favorite and most re-watched episodes. I really think its Voyager's better stand alone episodes. And its nice to have a strange alien like the Void dwellers, black and slimy. Nice change of pace instead of your usual goofy looking forehead alien.

    It's no DS9, but after the mostly mind numbing Season 4 I found this episode quite enjoyable. It introduced a new idea for once instead of recycling and at least provided some variety in the Hard Headed Alien of the Week.

    However it's also an example of *why* it's no DS9. With such a compelling idea they could have made the void last 4-5 episodes and properly analysed the crew's despair and maybe even some character development (heh). No such luck though - it's the usual reset button at the end. What a waste.

    So er... why not give the dark guys the means to destroy the vortex? This isn't like "Caretaker" where the Ocampa are isolated underground; the people being protected are able to help.

    Regarding your complaint about the story's resolution : I repeat, this show is about characters; the A/B solutions (while a little pat) provided the character resolution in Janeway; the Family plot thread which grew significantly last season had a lot to do with Janeway's choices to corral the crew together as matriarch and leader; what she failed to realise is that she herself is a member of that family and bound to its duties and benefits as anyone else. I would have enjoyed seeing a story resolution which accomplished this AND seemed like a relavant plot thread, but that is the unending problem with this series; plot is sacrificed or canned for the sake of character.

    This is a 3 star episode. The beginning of one of Trek's best seasons.

    The point about the crew members who died is a great one. Voyager always suffered from what could be called "Late-season M*A*S*Hitis."

    When it first premiered, M*A*S*H didn't focus solely on the characters in the credits. Guest stars were the norm, and it was clear that the main characters frequently interacted with secondary characters at the 4077. This changed late in the series when the main cast seemed to only communicate with each other.

    This was largely true of TNG, too, but that made sense for a few reasons. The Enterprise had regular transfers, it had a MUCH larger crew than Voyager and the characters in the opening credits were actually all senior officers (except for Wesley).

    After Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok, Voyager's main cast includes two LT JGs (one of whom was demoted to ensign for a while), an ensign, and a non-commissioned Borg, a Talaxian, an Ocampa and a hologram. The fact that Paris, Torres, Kim, Seven, Neelix, Kes and the Doctor are essentially the senior staff makes no sense -- unless you figure everybody else on board is ranked no higher than a LT JG.

    This COULD have been something that was addressed early in the series, BTW. One line about how the crew is more reliant on junior officers and non-comms -- because of the deaths in 'Caretaker' -- would have covered it.

    Two examples from the series really jump out on this point: The fact that the main characters (sans Chakotay and Paris) are the only ones to stay on the ship in "Year of Hell," and this episode. And considering this episode wasn't undone by time mechanics, it's worse.

    When Janeway comes to the bridge to declare her intentions to stay behind, there are a couple extras manning bridge stations. But as Janeway is explaining her plan -- and as the main characters are essentially starting a mutiny -- the extras just turn around and appear not to notice! Do they not care about what's happening behind them?

    Enterprise actually got this point more right than Voyager, by having some recurring secondary characters and not having as many extras milling around apparently not paying attention at moments like these. It was always weird that the Enterprise's senior staff was made up of two ensigns, but could sort of be explained away by figuring Starfleet was still a newish organization.


    The rank of ensign does not preclude one from being a senior officer; Kim was one in the pilot. Torres and the Doc are the chief of staff for their respective departments, rank aside. Kes only came to meetings when it seemed she had something to contribute (eg Scorpion); Neelix is the ambassador (I grant this one's a bit flimsy) and 7 is a genius, besides being the chief AM officer.

    I noticed the issue with the extras as well, and shook my head--bad execution on Livingston's part.

    This is a 3-star episode, IMO. I didn't have a problem with Janeway's seemingly out of character depression or her drastic solution. Frankly it was refreshing and different to see a heroic captain in a moment of weakness and despair. I also liked that Chakotay knew her so well as to be able to predict what she was going to try and do.

    My main quibble with the episode had to do with the Void Aliens. They should have been designed to look similar to Earth's deep ocean-dwellers. Living in total darkness they could have evolved to the point where they would be bioluminescent with huge eyes. It would have been far more interesting than black and slimy.

    @Paul, since she's chief Engineer, I believe Torres is considered a full Lieutenant (but a brevet Lieutenant at that).

    Oops, I forgot about my other main quibble. I'm surprised no one else has mentioned this.

    When Seven discovers one of the Void Aliens on the holodeck, she conveniently commands the computer to "disengage safety protocols," and proceeds to shoot it with Captain Proton's "ray gun." First of all, Seven isn't an officer and shouldn't have that kind of authority. Second, even if she did have that kind of authority the command should not have been instantly obeyed by the computer without at least a warning. Third, it's a fictional weapon in a fictional setting - it should STILL be harmless. I get that it's a gag, but it's a very poorly thought out and utterly dumb one.

    Really love the scene where the lights go out. How cool was that? Didn't bother reading any other posts since I'm sure most of them are people who try to analyze and cry about petty stuff. Nerds.

    You can turn an enormous cargo bay int oa holodeck just by installing a few emitters?

    Aren't the emitters those huge X shaped panels?

    Agreed with AJ: just like that decided to destroy the vortex.

    Agreed with Eric: How are those aliens living there?

    I thoroughly enjoy reading these reviews, but they really are biased against this show. I'd rather it would be rated for what it is and not for not being DS9. Don't get me wrong, I respect your point of view and the time/thoughts you put in these reviews.

    Granted, it would have been great to have the crew remaining a bit more in the Void, there are many shuttle crashes, there are no long story-arcs, many plot-holes and easy ways out. However, there are often some nice subtle character developements that you don't talk about in favor of deploring plots and/or metaphors that are simply dismissed.

    In this episode, it's nice to see how the staff react in their own particular ways. Though Neelix isn't my favorite character (by far :p), his panic attacks were very much in character and I felt for him. About Janeway, I don't agree it's not like her: a depression may "fall on" everyone, wether the time is right or wrong (well... usually, there's never a right time). One of the symptoms of depressive episodes is isolation. I certainly would have liked it not being magically cured at the end of this episode, but it's very consistent for a person who's had heavy weight on her shoulders - totally alone - to get depressed.

    I know it's totally silly to write this comment years after you wrote your reviews, but as I'm overcoming my shyness to write in english, it felt good to type it ;-).

    This episode benefited from its slot as a season premiere. You could imagine that the ship spent most of the summer break in the dark void. That gimmick would not have been possible if Season 4 had ended with a cliffhanger.

    A nice start to season five. I loved the concept of the void and the effects it had on the crew. The void was almost like a physical manifestation of the emotional place the crew was at.

    I'm guessing it was Joe Manosky who contributed this approach to the story as its very consistent with this style. On top of that, I actually appreciated the aliens of the week and they bring much more than the usual action. They were right at home with the story instead of being a distraction.

    Janeway got the chance to confront the guilt she'd been harbouring for so long and the way this situation parallels the events of Care Taker let her find redemption and gives renewed hope. Tackling and escaping the void had emotional under currents I'd like to see resurface more often.

    The wonderful special effects, strong direction, intriguing change of pace, impressive story telling, great acting and characterisation all add up to a classic season opener in my eyes. 4/4

    First Emck isnt allowed to go further then the transporterpad next thing hes walking in engineering

    Seems unrealistic for Janeway to casually murder 100 or so people aboard the Freighter...

    I agree with everyone but what bothered me about Janeway's depression is that the Doctor wasn't consulted. There should have been a discussion btwn the Dr. & Chakotay where they acknowledge that the Captain is having a hard time of it and they may need to do something. Or perhaps Chakotay lying a bit to the Dr. the the Captain isn't all that bad. Having personally battled depression, you don't just throw it off that fast.

    I always have to laugh at the extras on the bridge. They never notice anything going on around them.

    It was weird when Janeway said "assemble the crew" and only the senior staff and a few busy extras were on the bridge to hear her plan.

    This is an example of the frustrating aspects of trek in general, especially Voyager.
    Take an episode that would work as an psychological adventure and make it another silly Bad Aliens (TM) of the week episode.
    Also the Politically Correct silliness.
    Toxic waste dumping in space?
    Oh Please...
    It is one thing to maybe do an episode based on a planet where environmental poisoning is being dramatized, but in space?
    Space is BIG, really big remember?
    Already full of stuff like Cosmic radiation, Gamma rays, X-rays, etc...
    If anything just dumping the waste near a star would do the trick to incinerate it.
    Also how do Aliens living in a void have spaceships?
    Finally, any business person worth a damn would love to get on the ground floor of a new and revolutionary discovery that is sure to be worth a fortune like the malon was offered.

    There were a lot of good parts but also a lot of bad parts in this episode. It could have been a great episode if it had been given the "page 1 rewrite" treatment.

    Some of the problems:
    - Janeway's sudden personality change was jarring and not convincing (I'm talking about the concept, not Mulgrew's acting, which actually seemed really good). It just seemed so sudden and to come out of nowhere. They could have foreshadowed it in the first couple of scenes instead of wasting time on Captain Protein.

    - The aliens live in a vast void thousands of light years across. Where did they come from? Where do they get sustenance? More importantly, they have ships! What do they use these ships for if they have nowhere to go?

    On the bright side, the black slimy aliens were really well-done, and I like the "greedy selfish garbage man" concept. Oh, the costuming and ship design for the garbage aliens was good too. I'll also note this is one of the few episodes where I thought Janeway's usually cheesy one-liner worked. Time to take out of the garbage.

    Oh yeah...

    I'll say again Robert Beltran's acting always looks especially terrible when he is in a scene with Mulgrew. And the line, "Chakotay, there's no one I trust more than you" was ridiculous. We all know Janeway trusts Tuvok the most, and that she only picked Chakotay to be F/O to help the Maquis feel at home.

    @Domi, I agree on much (including Beltran's acting), and I agree that she chose Chakotay as her XO to make the Maquis feel at home. Still, it's been four years since then, much of it spent basically alone with Chakotay ("Resolutions"); things have changed.

    I think that this rating is really unfair.

    Here you have a new concept, character moments, original aliens... and basically Voyager gets bashed for not being DS9.

    So Janeway hasn't been gnashing her teeth about her decision in front of us for the last few years- as she herself says, she's had other things to do, now she's in pure blackness.

    I wish that Voyager had been rated on its merits, not as a comparison with "the Sisko".

    Where did these indiginous aliens get the materials to build vessels out of?

    @T'Paul I agree with you.

    Yes, DS9 was awesome; I'm not going to disagree with anyone who says that. At the same time, however, Jammer's incessant bitching that Voyager sucks largely because it wasn't DS9, does grow tiresome.

    In terms of the characters, if nothing else, I've come to realise that Voyager is my favourite Trek series; and I've seen them all at this point, although I haven't spent as much time re-watching TOS.

    Granted, the writing a lot of the time was awful. I'm not going to deny that. But I also think that the Voyager crew had some of the most charismatic and likeable actors that I've ever seen on television; and that in addition to that, their characters were all the more interesting, because of the fact that they were flawed.

    I've also realised more recently, that it is actually Voyager's flaws that are a big part of what has made it so endearing to me, as well. I tend to be a strange person, in the sense that I usually find myself deriving value from things which most other people think are of terrible quality. Voyager is no exception. At the moment, I'm also currently in my second playthrough of the Voyager PC game, Elite Force, which I've always really enjoyed as well.

    In other words, although I like your reviews, please lighten up, Jammer. Yes, Voyager is genuine drek in places; but there are other places where it really isn't.

    One of the oddities about having comments on reviews I wrote 15 years ago is that it means I'm sometimes asked to adjust behavior (e.g., "lighten up") for a future that is more than a decade in the past.

    True. I realised that not long after I finished that post, and felt exceptionally stupid. My apologies.

    No need to apologize. It's just one of those weird and interesting things -- and it makes me feel old.

    I liked this episode, it had a bit of everything.

    However, Chakotay was especially annoying, especially his apparent readiness to mutiny (yet again) - but of course everything gets neatly tied up in the last five minutes.

    Voyager is constantly compared to TOS, which is fair. However, it just goes to show how strong the Kirk/Spock/McCoy relationship was that served to sustain the fabric of that show. Chakotay is the weakest link in voyager. They should have killed him off - then we'd have been left with Janeway, a promoted Tuvok, combined with Seven, and the Doctor - every other character would have remained cardboard cutouts and the show would have been perfectly fine and much stronger for it.

    Lastly, one key of TOS success is many of the best episodes were written by dyed in the wool sci-fi writers. Voyager clearly benefited from this tradition. Meanwhile, DS9 wasn't much more than a soap-opera (space-opera - with a high dose of melodrama)- not true science fiction.

    Ah, another new season ... and, sadly, another new mess.

    I'd really, really love to like Voyager as a series - but the writers just make it impossible for me. The amount of things that just make no sense, be it practical stuff or crew behaviour, piles up to a point where I just can't ignore it, try as I might. It's a shame, 'cause the show actually has a lot of good stuff tugged inbetween the total brainfarts.

    Oh, and:
    The power goes out all over Voýager. On the holodeck, Paris and Seven turn on a flashlight and we see that:
    1) Although there's apparantly no power on the holodeck (lights went out), Paris and Seven are still surrounded by the set from the Holonovel
    2) ... and everything is in black and white (or rather: grey).
    *tripple facepalm*

    @Jammer yes that's quite an amusing effect :)

    I've also been guilty countless times of sayings things like "I hope they improve the writing of soandso". In the back of my mind I know it already finished over a decade ago and the writers have long since packed up gone home and written other things. But sometimes you get so immersed in the show (especially if you do things like watching early Voyager and mid-late DS9 in parallel to match how they aired) that you kind of forget it was all done and dusted years ago. It's interesting :)

    Excellent episode. The alien plot was unnecessary, but still, the character moments were touching.

    I think this episode is the perfect example of what was wrong with Voyager. A crew alone thousands of light years from home, fighting for their lifes for 4 years, alone and tired and now they have to face the reality of a years long journey through nothingness! That could be a great psychological episode ( even a thriller) and a good chance for the writers to give us a closer look to the crew. But what they did instead? The alien of the week again and in the end a cheap trick to get them out of the difficult situation! The first 16 minutes were very good and Janeway rethinking her decisions was a nice moment but the writers didn't elaborate. A pitty.

    One thing I'll say about Brannon Braga he does a good job at writing stand alone episodes and big two parters. I love the episodes he wrote with Ronald Moore, Joe Menosky, and Rick Berman. With episodes like All Good Things, Year of Hell, Broken Bow, he could easily write a big epic stand alone Trek movie that would appeal to Trek fans and non Trek fans.

    Considering how hard it must had been to produce 24 episodes a season I'm surprised the creative staff didn't attempt to expand theme in this episode and other episodes such as Parallax, The Cloud, Basics, The Swarm, Year of Hell, The Void and etc into more than one episodes.

    Why didn't Voyager just wait for the Malon to go home since they knew where the vortex was. It's not like the Malon would have hung around for years guarding the vortex.. It can't take them that long to dump their waste and leave (and since they stranded the Malon on the other side their waste is still going to be dumped there, and more of the aliens are going to die as they battle it out).

    This is the issue I guess when the story needs for the crew to be unusually stupid (like why did they let Arturis hang out on the bridge of their new ship in Hope & Fear, where he could cause a problem.. and when they found out he had tampered with the message, why didn't they just beam him to the brig? Because the story would have ended, that's why...)

    I was fine with most of the episode. There's only one small thing I would've liked to see changed. I would have preferred the Malon ship to be incapacitated by Voyager (or those Void aliens) as Voyager uses the vortex to escape and permanently shuts the door behind them, thus leaving the Malon stranded in the void and at the mercy of all the victims they themselves created.

    It just would have made for a more poetic justice kind of ending, but it's not essential, I guess. I just like to see the bad guys get their comeuppance in ways that aren't just 'kill them somehow'.

    Malon captain - "You've scanned my vessel. You've seen my firepower. You wouldn't last ten seconds in a battle with me!"

    Begs the question: Why does a garbage truck have more firepower than Voyager? o.o

    It's nice for Janeway to finally express some serious guilt but too unbelievable for Tuvok to claim she felt it from the beginning and for no one else to question or disagree with her decisions (or to act as if the main cast are the only crew who matter).
    I don't usually mind un-subtle but the Malon were such black hat wearers the episode felt silly and uninteresting in its preaching.

    So once again, just like in Caretaker, Janeway violates the Prime Directive by closing the wormhole and stopping the aliens from dumping their toxic waste. Doesn't Starfleet have rules about not interfering in the internal affairs of a species which is at war with a different species?

    And I'm not even going to mention the stupidity of not knowing where to dump your toxic waste in space, except to say - throw it into the sun, dumbasses!

    Oh yeah, and plothole: Seven tells the computer to disengage holodeck safety protocols despite the fact that in TNG's Descent Part 1, Data says to Geordi that the computer requires two senior officer authorizations to disengage holodeck safeties.

    skadoo - Wed, Jul 10, 2013 - 11:32am (USA Central)

    "I agree with everyone but what bothered me about Janeway's depression is that the Doctor wasn't consulted. There should have been a discussion btwn the Dr. & Chakotay where they acknowledge that the Captain is having a hard time of it and they may need to do something. Or perhaps Chakotay lying a bit to the Dr. the the Captain isn't all that bad. Having personally battled depression, you don't just throw it off that fast."

    @Skadoo - Janeway's depression wasn't a clinical or medical matter. It was not some "chemical imbalance" or whatever horseshit psychiatry is peddling these days. It was her personality's natural reaction to her situation, combined with guilt for what she did in Caretaker. To try to take that away from her via "medication/poisoning," or trivialize it by saying it's a "chemical imbalance," thus implying that it isn't a normal part of her personality adjusting to her actions and her environment, is a grave and dehumanizing insult to her.

    The reason she was depressed is because she has a conscience and is a good person, not because of some medical nonsense! I'm sorry that you have been brainwashed by psychiatry's crap.

    P.S. No, I'm NOT a Scientologist (they're fraudulent too). I just have commonsense!

    I'd say this was an acceptable start to the season. It sounds like everyone already said most of the important stuff. Yes, the atmosphere was amazing. Yes, the design of the two aliens were cool. Yes, the final part of the story is pretty derivative. Such is life...

    The big question is Janeway's attitude during this episode. It's about time to have some introspection from her, and this giant cloud of whateverness was a perfect opportunity to examine it. I know people think of Janeway as psycho, or think that she's bipolar, or (perhaps most accurately) that the writers just wrote her however they wanted. But in reality, she had a character arc, even if it's not a positive uplifting one: she went from being a fine upstanding Federation officer to someone desperate to get home that she was willing to bend the rules. It's been brought up a bit before, albeit not directly. Now, she questions the decision to save the Ocampa rather than herself. And she questions whether to ignore the night-people here. Sure, she ends up helping them out anyway, but she's definitely far more uncertain these days. Hopefully it'll be consistent that she's more ruthless this season.

    That said, the complete isolation was a bit of overkill, especially its execution. Janeway was brooding in her quarters, well, ok. I can live with it. Chakotay being the public face of the captain worked pretty well, as was his private talk with Janeway. But then, the night people appeared, and she became all action-girl, running around. Then she went right back to being moody. It just seemed awkward and forced. I mean, I guess it makes sense that she would come out when her ship is threatened, but narrative-wise I didn't care for it.

    It was also a bit too happy of an ending, Janeway's all better? Doesn't need to say anything to the crew? No apologies, no awkwardness? Oh well, captain's prerogative, I guess.

    By the way, one other nice part of this episode was that all the regular characters worked well in their bit parts. Kim taking the night shift was long overdue, and perhaps is an outgrowth of Demon. Captain Proton is absolutely hilarious; I love it. Spot on parody of Ming the Merciless, too. As I said, Chakotay did well as the Mouth of the Captain. B'Elanna's outburst in the dining room was kinda dumb, I admit, but everyone else had a solid showing. This was especially true after the night people attacked and we ended up with a few minutes of Disaster-esque action. Given Voyager's penchant of late of focusing on Janeway/Seven/Doctor to the exclusion of everyone else, it was a pleasant site to see. Now that everyone's used to Seven being on the show, hopefully it can become a bit more balanced, character-wise.

    I guess 24th century technology hasn't invented remote detonators or even delay timers. Seriously, they couldn't just have set the torpedos to detonate 90 seconds after they left and were well clear? Whatever.

    Another missed opportunity. If they had any guts and inventiveness, this void could have been a two-parter or even more. The first 15 minutes of the episode are great. Then it's back to the alien of the week. Sigh.

    Agree with Tim. One if my fave EPS, I watch it again and again. Compelling as a "lost in space" metaphor... And Chakotay has depth for once, he's not just eye candy or Janeway's yes man. The visuals of Voyager's power systems shutting down are stunning, eerie atmosphere. The early staff meeting scene without Janeway has some brilliant dialogue. Humour me. All systems operating within normal parameters. Love it.

    I loved the part when in the holodeck program with Tom, facing the robot, said "I am Borg" and ripped out the circuitry of the robot. LOL

    Actually if safety protocols are deactivated weapons on the holodeck are lethal. The same thing happened on the TNG when protocols were deactivated and bullets were deadly probably because they become solid projectiles.

    A very odd feeling episode for a series opener, and a real mish-mash of ideas and moods. It almost - almost - works, but in the end fails because it doesn't really know what it wants to be.

    What works well is the feel - the imagery of the Void is different and interesting. The initial 'something in the dark' encounter with the aliens is great. The FX work is marvellous. Captain Proton looks fantastic even if it's, yes, another holodeck theme. And as noted above, when Seven flatly declares "I am Borg" before disabling the robot, its arms lengthening, head down death may be single funniest thing I have yet seen on any Trek.

    On the downside, Janeway definitely feels off character to me, the 'mutiny' doesn't really have any tension because it's all been revealed up front what is going to happen, and the heavy handed environmental message comes straight out of The Voyage Home style moralising. 2.5 stars overall.

    Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 7:56pm (UTC -5)

    I think that this rating is really unfair.

    Here you have a new concept, character moments, original aliens... and basically Voyager gets bashed for not being DS9.

    So Janeway hasn't been gnashing her teeth about her decision in front of us for the last few years- as she herself says, she's had other things to do, now she's in pure blackness.

    I wish that Voyager had been rated on its merits, not as a comparison with "the Sisko".
    ^^ So much this...

    This episode was wonderful.

    It isn't about the technobabble that plan "B" was it was the fact that Janeway was to the point of just sacrificing herself.

    This situation, nothing for months, was probably the toughest situation for our always on the hop doing things coffee slamming Captain. She actually had time to stop and reflect. then of course with that comes questioning ones self and decisions. Aside from the fact she is bored to tears, now blame creeps in because it was her choice that landed them here. At least the crew had their daily routine and each other to keep the mundane at arms length... Janeway just shut everything out. She really has no peer.

    I thought the dark aliens were just fantastic. Probably one of trek's finest. The Malon ship and Emck were cool as well.

    I just loved how the crew banded together and disobeyed their Captain.

    3.5 star episode for me. Very good season opener.

    Enjoyed this episode but would have liked more insight on these aliens. How did they happen to be in the void? Where is there home? They did say there are a million of them in the void.
    I've read all the reviews posted here but I am puzzled that no one spotted an out of sequence scene. I am referring to Chakotay and Tuvok in the briefing room. It happens just after the scene where we see Chakotay and Janeway in sickbay. I am positively sure that the Chakotay-Tuvok scene should have taken place earlier, rather than after the sickbay scene. Any thoughts?

    Yes Jammer, you did go out of your way to say that "Voyager is bad and DS9 is good". Everyone knows that you are a DS9 fanboi and that you really can not stand Voyager. Voyager was a better series. It did not take place on a space station and revolve around wormhole prophets.

    I'm enjoying these reviews while watching the show for the first time since it aired (I don't think I saw most of seasons 4-7 so I know they get home but don't remember how).

    I have lived with people suffering depression most of my life and I found Janeway's actions consistent with my experience. The point about depression is that people act atypically. The lack of ship's counselor has been a major plot hole that could have been used throughout the series. Most ships would have people who might be interested in the role and who could "go to school" in the holodeck to develop their skills.

    In fact, the whole ship's counselor ethos in TNG era shows always bothered me because it clearly showed the idea that they were still dividing health care into mind and body elements. The new fields of study like neuroscience and epigenetics are showing us that one cannot view human health as a set of silos.

    The doctor in ENT offers hints of the way medicine may be practiced in our future.

    At any rate, I found Janeway's depression consistent with the weaknesses she has displayed in the past. I thought the writers did a reset with Tuvoc and Chakoty's relationship. Now, as Jammer often points out, it will be interesting to see if that change persists. I do think that the "mutiny" may help the captain accept that she cannot redeem her past actions and that she is accepted--warts and all--by her crew--that she is "not alone" (as she commented in Scorpion).

    This is like a TOS episode in the Delta quadrant. The classic Trek morality is in play. There's "bad guys" versus "innocents." The worst you can say is that they had a chance to do something different and really didn't.

    "Time to take out the garbage!"

    LOL awesome, almost AHNULD-like.

    Just watched 5 episodes back to back at random that I never saw before (Scorpion 1 & 2, Living Witness, Hope & Fear, and this one) and I gotta say I may have wrongly pegged Voyager as being piss because I've really enjoyed all of them.

    The plot for this one reminded me a lot of a TNG episode for some reason, but hey that's not a bad thing.

    I think it's only an average episode, but ever since I first saw it, some of the imagery stayed with me. The thought of being on a deep space voyage, far from home in the endless void, losing power, even the lights on the ship go out, leaving total blackness... I think I've had some fascinating dreams over the years thanks to this episode.

    Pretty good episode but I didn't buy Janeways behaviour. I don't think what she was going through should be classified as depression, but more of a crisis of conscience. If that was the case then she was merely wallowing in self-pity, rather than suffering a depressive episode, which I think is very un-captain like. It would explain why she recovered so quickly. All she really needed was to be told that she had made the right decision, and that everyone still wanted her around.

    Hm... 15+ years later and we are still having childish debates about "MY Trek series is better than your Trek series.. nah nah nah". He wrote these reviews over 15 years ago, in the context of both shows happening at the same time. They were VERY different shows and it is natural for a person to favor one over the other. A DS9 fan would be driven nuts by all the continuity errors and short term thinking on Voyager after enjoying a series with multi year storylines and dozens of recurring characters.... I don't think that could have been avoided.

    This is a good episode, I enjoyed watching it again tonight.

    One thing that I thought about....... they get assaulted by diseases and aliens wanting to kill them on a weekly basis; so they get into a region of space where they can cruise for a few months with nobody bothering them and that leads them to essentially get depressed, panic, go mad, etc..... I guess they do need to be attacked on a regular basis or they get bored?

    Bored? Crew have nothing to do? Create a massive, multiplayer holodeck world and have the crew rotate in and out depending on their shifts. You can even create a couple of rich brats who need Janeway to play governess to.

    I really wish Star Trek and especially Voyager was at least trying to stick to a fictional world that makes sense.

    I mean the aliens are cool and all, but "they might be indigenous to the void"? Well, they have a very humanoid form, so obviously they evolved similar to apes on a "Class M" planet. Obviously they only came to the void after they already had a space faring civilization - there is nothing in the void to provide energy and nothing to build ships out of.

    Energy: It's been established at least twice in this episode - first they explicitly said they need to conserve energy, then at a random scene I think Harry says "not a single electron". Voyager should have been *extremely* interested in how the aliens get the energy to power their ships, since we have seen Voyager run out of energy just a couple of episodes ago in "Demon".

    Back to the aliens: They have "adapted" to the void and are very sensitive to light and everything. Why? Since they could have only come to the void after already having space ships, there is no reason they should have no light on their ships.

    Did I mention the aliens have space ships? Which they could use to simply fly away and leave the void? Sure, people might not want to leave their home, but come on, before every is going to die from theta radiation, you might want to consider it.

    Wait, what did the villain waste dumper say how many aliens there are? And ones who are technically advanced enough to disable Voyager? Why didn't they try to fight? There is only one ship, that inexplicably is much more powerful than Voyager, but am I to believe it is more powerful than all the alien forces combined?

    Why is the villain so hard headed anyway? He is concerned about being put out of business while being the guy who brings his people new technology and a solution to their problems? In any reasonable society he would be a hero and wouldn't have to worry about anything anymore at that point!

    Speaking of technology, why is Voyager just giving away their technology to random people they encounter? Remember the Kazon and the replicators? Are we not doing this Starfleet thing anymore? I mean I understand if they'd made a value judgement here, but it wasn't even mentioned at all...

    Janeway's attempt so sacrifice herself just boggles the mind. If you keep an eye out for it you notice soon how Star Trek always avoids looking at how the software and automation technology they have actually works. You could maybe try to argue that they consider this to be too complicated for their audience, but plots like this here shows that the writers just have no idea how stuff works. Occasionally the crew is even just plain voice commands to accomplish tasks of about this complexity: "Computer, hold this position and in fifteen minutes, shoot X photon torpedos at coordinates XYZ". If that's not good enough this should be most trivial to directly program. If that's not good enough, the entertainment system routinely creates fully fledged human like characters that are more than qualified to carry out this task. It's not just that you have to suspend your disbelief - I'm really trying to come up with an in-universe explanation why there should be any reason for anyone - especially the captain - to have to control a shuttle for this task manually, but I come up empty.

    I'm rambling and complaining a lot, but only because I'm so disappointed over the wasted potential. As others have said, the premise and beginning of the episode was great, they should have just continued what they started with. Instead they decided to shoehorn this weird stuff into it that just doesn't feel right. I mean come on. Dumping toxic waste where other people live and harming them is bad! Duh! I'm glad Star Trek told me this. It's not like we don't all know that we shouldn't dump toxic electronic waste into poor african etc. countries and leave it to the local poor population to risk their health to recycle whatever valuable materials may be left...

    It would've been interesting if they kept the Void setting going for a few episodes. They could have easily made up for it with the "skip-2 years" Void at the end of it as a satisfying reward. It would've allowed for an extended process by which they encountered the Voidians (or whatever), fought them off, communicated, learned of their plight, learned of the Melons, tried diplomacy, etc. Maybe even flesh out how they could've evolved/developed in total darkness! How about there was a Precursor species who did something to create the void and died out. And the Voidians were a primitive species who adapted to the darkness over time on one of the planets within, found the technology and adapted it to their own needs. What if it turns out there ARE stars and planets, etc. but the Void obscures it all (a kind of dark matter? and there's the answer to the energy problem) and God help you if you steer into one of them!)

    I agree with TMRN above regarding the Melon dumper. I understand they're trying to depict a good guy/bad guy duality, but c'mon! It's like the writers have no understanding or consistency of people who are motivated by profit. They offered him a means of addressing a species-wide environmental problem. And given that he literally had a monopoly on the Vortex, he would've had a monopoly on the technology. If he were that saavy, he would be able to see how much of a win this is for him as well as a benefit for his people, but NOOOOOOO! He has to be lazy too, otherwise we'll be giving his character more than one dimension and then how can we artificially depict our heroes as the righteous ones.

    So many chances of exploring issues in a deep and meaningful manner just cast aside for the ease of black and white preaching.

    Okay, Captain Proton is easily the best "holodeck reactional activity of the season" so far. I actually started watching few old serials to get what they are making fun of. Thanks Voyager.

    Anyway, I agree with others have said, the first half is great, once we get to the aesop plot with the aliens it's meh. The problem isn't really that the episode has the need to add it, that's a matter of personal preferences and I don't want to whine that they didn't do what I wanted. Problem is that as Tmrn explained above, it's not very good. I think the garbage men aliens are actually a pretty good idea-at very least, they are a bit more original than just another xenophobic power-but they are once again, written as boringly one-dimensionally evil. You couldn't have the leader guy at least be skeptical of the solution, instead of just being a greedy bastard?

    People who are saying that Jammer is being harder on Voyager because he just likes DS9 better, instead of judging Voyager episodes based on their own merits, here me out on this:

    I watched DS9 and Voyager side by side from ages 8 to 12. I LOVED Voyager, and I thought DS9 was ok.

    Now I'm 30 and watching them all, and I went in saying, "seriously, Voyager is the best series. I love how they get put through the ringer, and they meet all these new species, etc etc"

    But now I find, Voyager episodes almost always have the same problem: They usually start with a good idea, but then it's got too many flaws to take seriously, or they don't explore the good idea enough, or they skip over interesting possibilities, or the execution just makes no sense. The not making sense thing has been a big problem for me. I pause it several times an episode to say, "wait a minute, how did they accomplish x if they just said y like, last episode." or things like that.

    And I always want to get into it because I like the good idea it started with! But it rarely goes anywhere that I care about.

    With the exception of Seven of Nine and the Doctor (and Kes during her time on the show), Voyager hasn't really developed its characters and their backstories. This episode, I didn't mind it, but wow they only spent 2 minutes on Janeway's depression. The show is too scared to commit to anything.

    I was immediately caught off guard watching the second episode in the series, and noticing that no one seemed to consider it a big deal that they were 70 years from home. The second episode was about whether it would be a good idea to make B'Elanna the chief engineer or not. I actually really enjoyed this episode, funny enough. But again, the lack of impact that this event had on the crew, not only threw me off, but it set the tone for the entire series: Voyager would not be about feelings.

    And this is why I defend Jammer's continued comparisons to DS9 because while it is not perfect, DS9 gives generous amounts of time to developing its characters and their feelings. And as a person who went in thinking Voyager was great and DS9 was just ok, I can say it's not bias that makes me so disappointed in Voyager. It's the constant lack of character development, repercussions and normal cause & effect.

    I really want to see people's inner struggles. That's what I'm in it for most of the time when I watch a series. So DS9 wins.

    Interesting sidenote: While Jammer and I are of the same mind re: Voyager vs DS9, I don't agree with a lot of the points he talks about in his DS9 reviews. Haha!

    PS: Whenever ST does deal with personal repercussions, I call it a "crying in the mud" scene, because of the absolutely fantastic TNG episode "Family." All shows need to have episodes like this once in awhile, where a character has to take some reflective time to accept what has happened to them.

    This episode was a metaphor for the writing staff admitting they had run out of ideas and were bored.

    I thought Voyager's "Night" was original and contained a good message. The stand alone plot was resolved in a satisfactory way, while the writers also revisited and clarified past themes. The Voyager crew stood up for good ideals and helped those in need. There may have been some elements of that could have benefited from further development (how did the aliens who live in the dark evolve that way?), but it was a legitimately interesting and effective episode.

    I enjoyed it more than any other premiere save Scorpion II, at any rate. (I will maybe revisit Caretaker at some point to see if it works better for me in a different mood, since it's so important an ep.) The episode's first half (two-thirds?) is very good -- lots of character moments followed by a Disaster-style set of unusual character pairings, with great, moody visuals and a good score. And then, yeah, it becomes pretty rote for a while. What was interesting about the first half was seeing the crew interact with no threat except themselves and darkness; the initial threat was interesting because it still emanated from the void and manifested itself as a total power shutdown -- so a more extreme version of what had already been going on. The environmental stuff with the Malon and the Void Lifeforms wasn't *bad* exactly but jettisons much of what had been interesting. If I force it I can probably come up with some thematic link here -- the Malon are the villains of the episode because they produce a lot of garbage and try to dump it in the Void where no one can see, but in fact you have to deal with your garbage, and Janeway's attempt to dump *herself* in the Void, and thus also her guilt, is misguided, because it's better to actually deal with it. Or something. I'm not sure what to say about the life forms there though.

    As to the Malon characterization -- I agree that it seems that under most circumstances, Emck would prefer to have a ready-made working technology fall in his lap, since that surely would lead to greater profits. And it's especially true because it's not as if Emck seems to be the owner of the Malon garbage disposal technology, but the captain of a lowly freighter who happens to know a sweet shortcut, and so it seems obvious that he would be trading up within his society considerably. If they did want to go the "personal gains over society gains" route, though, they could have done so plausibly; Emck could have revealed, for instance, that his species does not have an intellectual property system, and only compensates people for services rendered (or something), and thus that any technology he brought to his people would lead to no personal gain for him and would also put him out of a job. Or, maybe another way is if either the government, or perhaps his corporation, owns the intellectual property of any discoveries he makes, so that he would basically end up with nothing as a result of it; the only reason he's able to do as well as he can right now is because no one else knows about the Void, but it'd be impossible to keep the *technology* secret, especially given the technical resources required to actually implement it. I think there are lots of ways in which the economic system could severely dis-incentivize progress plausibly, but it'd be nice to have at least another line of dialogue explaining why Emck wouldn't get the obvious potential financial benefit from the tech.

    Anyway I found Janeway isolating herself, as we do see, a little sudden and extreme, even with the multi-month in darkness backstory, but basically plausible. I think had the episode more explicitly tied this to the end of Hope and Fear -- reveal that after the initial feeling of optimism from Seven's lack of desire to return to the Collective, the grief over another missed opportunity home and the shame over Arturis' accusations and the reveal of his world destroyed by the Borg might well have started to crush her, and then lead her back to the initial decision (mistake?) that stranded them all, back from Day One, and which also led to her dubious decisions taken to try to get them home. And absolutely, Jammer is entirely correct that actually mentioning the number of dead crew members would have strengthened this episode considerably. (I'm reminded of the BSG scene SPOILER in Scar, where Starbuck starts going through the lost crew members, and imagining an equivalent here.) I think Jammer's statement in the review that this seems to make Janeway a bad captain is maybe broadly "true," but that's not really the point, is it? Over on DS9 (SPOILERS for those who haven't seen it), Sisko was at this very moment taking months off from his position at the most strategically important station in the cataclysmic, quadrant-threatening war effort, because he was broken by recent events. Janeway continuing to run herself but isolating herself when the ship is completely out of crisis mode seems to me to be an appropriate equivalent for a long chance to catch up with years' worth of unprocessed baggage, in comparison to the sudden shocks at the end of DS9 s6.

    Chakotay doesn't have that much good material these days, but I was impressed with most of his scenes this episode. The Tuvok scene I thought was strange -- are they really still at each others' throats? Really? -- but basically this episode does plausibly show a Chakotay who can handle command but also who does not want to go without Janeway, and recognizes his responsibility to help her. Most of the cast has some good scenes or moments -- for example, the Chaotica simulation was pretty funny, particularly Seven's neutralizing of the robot and Neelix' snapping at Tom and B'Elanna that they are SENIOR OFFICERS and need to behave like it was a great way to take him out of his usual benign persona in a character-specific way.

    But anyway! The ending: the Caretaker dilemma repeats itself and Janeway realizes she can't go through with stranding the ship again, so she comes up with a new plan. I know that (SPOILER) this eventually sort of ends with the have-a-cake-and-eat-it-too solution in Endgame. I guess I'll see how things go with that, but I find it unsatisfying in Endgame, as a series finale. As much as I think Caretaker botched the execution, I think the idea there was that there was no third option where Janeway got to both protect the Ocampa and save her crew, not that she simply wasn't trying hard enough. Here, I'm not so sure. I think Janeway has isolated herself enough and gotten herself into enough of a funk that it makes sense she'd fail to consider all the options, and pick a way that protected the crew at the expense of herself as a kind of punishment rather than see that in this *particular* case they did have a better option. The crew's "mutiny" is cute, and emphasizes the idea that they have moved into a sort of family unit where there are things greater than the chain of command -- namely, the captain's life, and her membership in the family.

    Of course this scene really strongly emphasizes how much the non-main cast do *not matter at all* anymore; the extras milling around on the bridge don't even pay attention, which is surely bad directing, but in general it basically remains that the entire crew is reduced to the main cast. I talked about this in the s4 recap post but I think what I'd add is that in season 1-2, it wasn't just that there were some recurring supporting players (Seska, Carey, Jonas, Hogan, Suder, Wildman, etc.), but that most of the time the ship just *felt* like there were other people on the ship besides the main cast who had opinions and thoughts and agendas, even if they didn't frequently come forward and sometimes those agendas were mishandled by the show. Maybe we didn't see them, but they were there. This is sort of similar to the Enterprise-D, where there were, yes, many recurring players, but in general the tone suggested a huge flagship with a lot going on at all times, of people transferring on and off the ship. Episodes like this one really emphasize the idea that the crew is a family, but ONLY a family of nine characters, and everyone else is basically irrelevant.

    Wow, the destruction of the Malon vessel with all hands seems a bit extreme, huh? And "time to take out the garbage"!!! Oh well. I guess it couldn't be helped, maybe?

    I guess I'll go with 2.5 stars too.

    Since I'm posting this years later, I'll be repeating some things other's said, but they bear repeating.

    The whole concept of this episode makes no sense on virtually every level.

    Why wouldn't they be able to see any stars? Because radiation is messing up their sensors, they say. But I guess it just blocks all em radiation from everything so no one can see anything with their naked eyes either. Yet they can use the sensors to tell how far they have to go to get out somehow?

    These void aliens couldn't live there, and certainly couldn't have evolved there. No energy at all. Why not leave the void? Why not destroy the Malon ship? Why not destroy the Vortex?

    Why is everyone all panicky and depressed and on edge? Because they can't see stars out of their window? Who cares? They are starfleet personnel who live on a starship in outer space. They can't handle it being dark outside for a couple months without going all bonkers? There is plenty to do on Voyager to keep everyone occupied and entertained for years, much less a couple months.

    Why did the holodeck have a blackout too? LOL.

    And the biggest plot-hole of all is, this area is a void because it's filled with theta radiation. That's why they can't see anything. At least that's what they say in the episode. Is it because that one dude is dumping antimatter there? And if the void was there already as implied by the fact that the void aliens lived in the void for millions of years, why was there a void in the first place without the radiation? Did this one ship dump enough antimatter into this area and completely fill up 2500 light years worth of space with radiation, and millions of years in the past? Or if it was filled with radiation already, the void aliens would all have been dead a long time ago. None of that makes any sense. There shouldn't be a void at all, or at least not because of theta radiation.

    And the ending. Oh boy.

    There are basically three choices of what to do presented in the episode. One is, keep going like they were, through the void, having made friends with the void aliens, and take two years to get through it. Reasonable choice. Or two, Janeway can basically kill herself to destroy the vortex and let everyone else go through and save two years. Completely stupid choice, buy hey, if she wants to kill herself, that's her business. And three, destroy the Malon ship, murdering the entire crew, and destroy the vortex, and everyone gets to save two years. An insane psychotic choice.

    And guess which one Janeway ends up choosing? Right! The insane psychotic choice, because Janeway is the worst captain in the history of starfleet.

    1 1/2 stars. Bad start for the season if you ask me.

    I just thought of something else. Janeway MURDERS the crew of that Malon ship, and they were the only ones who knew about the vortex, so why destroy it? No one else knew about it? Why not just fly through it once she had MURDERED them? No need to risk their lives after that.

    Harry Kim playing the clarinet for tuvok on the bridge has to be a lowpoint in his life.

    KB Murphy
    Mon, May 30, 2016, 3:27pm (UTC -5)

    "In fact, the whole ship's counselor ethos in TNG era shows always bothered me because it clearly showed the idea that they were still dividing health care into mind and body elements."

    @KB Murphy:

    Yes, that's called "human dignity." If you're going to reduce consciousness itself to nothing more than brain chemicals, then you are erasing the distinction between "living" and "non-living." Treating human beings like cars with not enough, or too much, oil trivializes the entire human experience, as well as the concept of life itself.

    I'm glad no one in the 24th century thinks like you.

    Death to psychiatry!

    Some good ideas here and some bad ones too -- probably makes this a fairly typical VOY episode. The opening felt original and more realistic in that the ship is going through a void, crew have too much time on their hands and are going stir crazy. This is what literally must happen for 90% of the time Voyager is stuck in the DQ (and almost as much for TOS, TNG as their Enterprises explore). So to acknowledge this aspect was good.

    But the huge issue I have here is Janeway -- what a character assassination "Night" is. All the guilt attacks her and she withdraws and stops caring about the crew. And then she wants to sacrifice herself when it's painfully obvious there's a viable plan where she doesn't have to.

    I liked the scene with Chakotay and Tuvok -- they know they're not exactly buddies but as it relates to Janeway, Chakotay needs to know what's up. VOY never played up Janeway's guilt enough for me -- I think there's a potential wellspring of material here. It pops up here but is used stupidly.

    The part about the 2 new alien species whose roles/intentions get reversed is decent. And Voyager takes the righteous Trek stance of helping the oppressed. Interesting that the environmental analogy is the profit-at-all-cost Malon dumping toxic waste and harming a more or less helpless species. And also the Malon is not willing to learn Voyager's technology for fear he might be out of his current job. Chakotay has a prescient point about him then being able to do better things when given Voyager's knowledge...but then we wouldn't have a spaceship battle scene to end the episode.

    2.5 stars for "Night" -- the episode felt different at the start, like something new was being explored (adapting to nothingness). The alien confrontation wasn't bad, but I was not a fan of how Janeway's character was written here -- at the start she was a just simply going to be a non-leader as the crew faced 2 years of nothingness. But then the episode goes down a more traditional route. So much more could be done with a haunting judgment error for the captain.

    I just re-watched this, and literally spit my drink out in the first minute. Chaotica brags to Harry that he is using their rocket to "lead my Space Force into battle!"

    For context, Trump recently blustered about wanting to create a "Space Force" to protect Earth from . . . alien invaders? I dunno. Something.

    I could not find the clip online, so I filmed it off my computer so I could share it with my friends on facebook. They are cracking up.

    The concept of that Void was great, with well done effects to give us that sense of the crew's loneliness and isolation.

    The ep explores how guilt and pain and inner conflicts can overwhelm us in the absence of distraction, how important it is be able to focus outward.

    Keeping oneself distracted, adapting as Seven says, is an individual obligation. It's no surprise that Janeway and Neelix, our two characters most burdened with guilt and pain, begin to succumb to the circumstances.

    The void aliens, with their strange dark appearance, were nicely done. The social message of the week was, well, classic Trek.

    The holodeck was fun, particularly Seven and Paris. Jeri Ryan is just a delight. The whole black and white motif, I think, was a deliberate reference to the general colorless world outside, and to how few things in life, how few of our choices, are truly black and white.

    Though the concept of the Void was fascinating, I was glad when the crew got out of that black, starless vacuum. I was beginning to get the creeps, myself.

    I really liked this episode, but then again, I actually like Voyager better than DS9.

    Jammer, you always talk about reset buttons, and this one actually didn't have it! At the end of the show the crew actually are 2 years closer to home!

    This episode reminds me of the 1970 Dr Who episode Doctor Who and the Silurians. The "ugly" aliens are actually not bad guys (*well, most of them) and the humans were bad in this one. The way this episode played out made sense to me-last episode an alien was yelling at Janeway for the genocide of his race! That definitely would affect anyone who wasn't a complete sociopaths (although they should have mentioned that as the cause for Janeway's depression too)

    I have no problem with Seven being able to disengage safety protocols-one would think the computer would be smart enough to just do it when a hostile was on the ship

    I also like how this episode has gotten away from Voyager being a Captain-Seven show-something I actually began to get bored with (probably because I actually never found Seven attractive), and I would think that the Captain would have put her in her place long ago! (For her attitude I mean)

    Star Trek was always an allegory-like the half black/white aliens. So, the toxic waste element was good-I don't care if it was in space or not (besides, we have no idea how the properties of the void work-it's not normal space.)

    Loved the moment in the opening Capt.Proton scene where the woman keeps screaming, and Harry quietly grimaces in the background! (and also the commenter above who called this "Captain Protein"; a new breakfast cereal perhaps?) :)

    Well the first 1/3 of this episode started out with promise. The idea of having Voyager go through complete dark with no stars for months was a good idea. Would have been a great opportunity to explore interpersonal relationships between the crew. Even the captain feeling guilty and depressed would have made sense because she would have been stuck alone with her feelings. Captain Proton was fun even though it only amounted to about three minutes screentime. But then the episode slid into alien of the week mode and that is where the episode fell apart and turned into something we have seen over and over and over. This episode has some moments at first but ultimately I’d have to give this one a pass it’s nothing special at all

    I enjoyed this quite a bit. But I knew someone was going to comment on this:

    “Why did the holodeck have a blackout too? LOL.”

    That’s definitely a bit silly, but I was willing to just go with it.

    I liked the episode. One of the more interesting aspects of this is another segment of DQ space that tends to keep inhabitants separated from each other.

    This dark void, the Nekrit Expanse and large portions of normal space controlled by xenophobic aliens help explain some things, such as the Kazon and species on the far edges of the galaxy not having the same level of technology, etc.

    I wish they had given us a little more lay of the land, as it were, of the DQ.

    This episode's worst aspect is that it had the writers commit themselves to an aspect of the show that was essentially a 5-year insult to our intelligence.

    I am referring to the matter of Harry Kim. Simply put, when something wasn't happening to show how "green" he was, he was shown to be unfailingly loyal, highly capable, and completely trustworthy. Given that even a mediocre officer typically makes lieutenant in three years, it is simply not plausible that an excellent one remain an ensign for seven.

    This episode held the perfect opportunity for the writers to quietly, painlessly sweep their mistake under the rug. Two months have passed. All they need to do is have Harry show up at the initial briefing with a black pip on his collar. No "Janeway sticks a pip on Harry's collar and everyone claps" ceremony required. No fanfare. It's just "Harry's a lieutenant now, we've all moved on."

    The writers chose not to do this. I can infer from this decision that they thought the viewers were too stupid to notice a glaring and completely unnecessary inconsistency. That is an insult.

    As a writer who has never profited from his craft (and likely never will), it offends me that professional writers could be so incompetent.

    The second the scene changed to the bridge and the camera started panning around, I immediately said to myself: This is Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock-On-Anything" Kim blowing some wood...

    ...den instrument" :D And sure enough, it bore out! LOL!

    The holodeck that retains the objects even though all energy is gone from the ship? The stupidest thing ever, surpassed only by the whole Bride of Bullshitica C-story.

    The preachy P.C. theme rubbed me all the wrong ways but okay, I could look past it. I also really appreciated the Tuvok-Chakotay angle. They had hardly any interaction over the four previous seasons and it was interesting to see that dynamic play out, even if only very briefly.

    At least a three-star-er.

    A group of people who have been in space for years have claustrophobia because they haven't seen stars for a few weeks. The have access to an almost endless supply of music, movies, and literature from god only knows how many planets, not to mention a freakin' holodeck and they are still stir crazy.

    Janeway, who never seems to have a second of self doubt, crumples into a ball and crawls into her quarters to hide for a couple of months. She finally pops out at the end with a brilliant commit suicide. See, it turns out there actually were other, obvious options in Caretaker and the entire series has been based on a screwup. Don't worry, fans - this introspective version of Janeway is here for one week only. We'll be back to the "my way or the highway" version we all know and love soon we promise.

    Tom and B'Ellanna are fighting. That's new.

    The EMH, a computer program, needs to practice his opera.

    Harry is busy dividing his time between playing second banana to Tom or and playing his clarinet.

    The holodeck loses lights, but still, somehow, works.

    The villain, who seems perfectly reasonable at first, turns on a dime to become another Voyager trademarked Hardheaded Alien of the Week.

    Voyager offers a business man technology that would make him the richest man on his planet, but he says "Heck no - this would ruin my career as garbage scow owner who is constantly bombarded by deadly and disfiguring radiation!"

    The ending:

    Janeway: "The only option is for me to make a suicide run!"

    Crew: " about we just fly by the bad guys really fast while shooting at them?"

    /Janeway steps off ledge

    /shit blows up

    /wrasslin' is up next on UPN

    The only good thing about this episode? Satan's Robot, of course. He should have replaced Harry on the bridge.

    If nothing else, this episode's approach to "trekking through the stars" was never done before this, and arguably could be done better, but it's frankly interesting. What if you find a pocket of space where there just plain ain't none?

    In a way, it almost seemed like a metaphor for writer's block, to me (being a writer). You just sort of wade through the nothingness and keep holding on, until you finally reach the other side of it.

    Like Jammer, most commenters agree that this episode's "Stuck in the Void" plot is excellent. There's something eerie and disturbing about a space devoid of stars. And the crew's discomfort in the face of this is both understandable and an interesting topic to explore.

    The lack of starlight also lends this episode a wonderfully lonely vibe. Scenes with Janeway bathed in shadow, or Kim playing his flute on an empty bridge, create a really affecting, sombre mood.

    All this good work is destroyed, however, by this episode's introduction of "pollution aliens". They're a hokey, cartoonish race, aesthetically at odds with the tone seen in the rest of the show.

    Thematically the aliens work wonderfully . They pollute a region of space which is "out of sight and so out of mind", dumping toxic waste on another race with impunity, in much the same way the poor and third world currently get garbage/pollutants dumped on them. In this regard, this episode's "night time" plot is intimately connected with its "pollution" plot; one is the obscene underside of the other, no light shone on whole cultures in order to perpetuate the dumping of waste.

    What's bad is the direction and the conceptual design work behind these "pollution aliens". They should be more mysterious. They should never speak English, never come aboard Voyager, and never be engaged with directly. Keep them at a distance. Maintain the elegant, more cerebral tone established by the "Stuck in the Void" half of the show.

    You can intellectually understand why this episode takes the approach it does - the "pollution aliens" are meant to be Ferrengi-styled caricatures of a certain social class - but such satire is hard to get right, and generally didn't work well in 90's Trek.

    That said, while this episode isn't a success, there's something admirable about it. It has a decent concept, it makes an effort to convey Trekkian/political themes, tries hard to be an action spectacle, and its Epic Janeway Sacrifice tries to say something about the character, and the show's central premise. It's an episode which you sense had quite a bit of thought put into it, and which is at least trying hard to be something special.

    Voyager's episode "Night" took on new relevance for me in the age of Covid and Ukraine. Its first chapter explores the mental effects on the crew of a seemingly endless journey through a starless, monotonous sector of space. Good scenes of Neelix losing stability, and of Janeway secluded and depressed. Beltran's performance in the confrontation with Mulgrew was really rather strong. I like those two together very much and with the rest of the cast, they sell the idea of how resilient people can become brittle and even a little weird when diversion is lacking. Tedium leads to angry, destructive behaviors. Shades of life in the pandemic.

    Its second chapter, derided by many as yet another formulaic alien argument sub-plot, actually mapped rather well to the conflict in Ukraine. One nation just crashes on in senselessly where it doesn't belong hoping to profit from the destruction of its neighbor. Janeway's famous line, "Time to take out the garbage" was clearly over-the-top, uttered as the heavily armed garbage scow was destroyed. I nevertheless thought the whole scene was eerily prophetic of the mussile cruiser Moskva's demise several days ago. The show held my interest. A definite 3.5 star episode for me.

    *missile* cruiser Moskva
    Laid down 1976 - sunk of Odessa April 14, 2022

    On my 3rd viewing of the series in 3 decades, I find Janeway a rather bad Captain. She should have felt depressed. Her blowing up the array was the worst choice. I find her choices often wrong. I was glad she was feeling bad. It was overdue.

    This was an awful episode for Janeway as a character. I suppose this is a key one where Mulgrew complained the character was written extremely inconsistently.

    Unless she's suffering from actual clinical depression, this is simply drastically out of character. Normal Janeway would have worked with Neelix to set up anything and everything to help the crew's moods.

    I'm not sure I really bought everyone getting so depressed just because there are no stars. Neelix, yes perhaps, and perhaps even more so Seven since she might well have the literal experience of living in the stars, since a Borg cube is part of the collective. (Hmm... a premise that I don't think was ever explored.)

    But it seems like there are few portals other than in crew quarters, but Shirley they could find some way to fake it?

    And I agree this one still had potential until the moment the clichéd Voyager Aliens of the Week showed up.

    Also, I'm hardly a feminist, but would they have written a male captain having a breakdown like this? (That wasn't caused by an alien force of some kind, or whatever.)

    Umm, yes. That's Archer's entire character arc across Season Three of ENT.

    "Umm, yes. That's Archer's entire character arc across Season Three of ENT."

    Yeah, but it was unintentional...

    There was a bizarre line near the end of this episode, after voyager leaves the spatial rift. Kim says "we're still 200000 km from the boundary", and we see a dispirited look from Janeway implying she doesn't want to do another stretch in the void. But.... that distance would take less than a second at warp 1.

    “I am Borg.” Seven of Nine deactivating the robot is the funniest scene out of the whole dang series. It’s the main reason I rewatch this ep.

    I enjoy the first part of this episode and the whole concept of being in “space” and nothing BUT space. When Chakotay wonders how they are going to survive 2 years in the void, it’s chilling. Would have been a better episode to focus on the psychological trauma of the crew surviving completely alone — that could’ve been powerful.

    That being said, some of the visuals of Voyager traveling through the starless expanse & the power blackout were eerie & superbly done.

    All in all, it's a fine episode that stands the passage of time. It's just that I can't get past an empty area of space. The light we see at night comes from billions, and trillions of miles away. We even get light from other galaxies. Just because there are no stars within that 'void" wouldn't stop the light from stars farther away from shining. Good sci-fi needs to be both good sci and good fi.

    As someone who majored in Psychology in College, they didn't seem to get the Nihlophobia thing right. A simple lack of seeing stars in the distance wouldn't by itself cause the crew to go insane. Everyone is already confined to the ship 24/7/365 and probably only the senior officers go on the away missions. So it's not like they really had it any different than normal, aside from their jobs being less stressful if anything. Not to mention the massive number of giant stars they show whipping by is unrealistic anyway, given that they only appear as tiny dots in the distance in Real life. Space does look mostly black, and the small difference being in the void shouldn't have caused anyone to lose their sanity. I could see being bored because of not having any planets to go visit and are just stuck at their stations..etc, but the whole thing with Waking up terrified in the middle of the night for no reason was ridiculous. I could also nit pick at the questionable physics of heavy radiation absorbing all the light or whatever, but who cares. I agree with whoever mentioned the "warp flare" comment by Kim, it's just a flare, torpedoes probably have nothing to do with warp drive.

    @ Michael Miller,

    "A simple lack of seeing stars in the distance wouldn't by itself cause the crew to go insane."

    I would think it would be unethical to conduct psych studies of people being thrown into distant spatial anomalies where they see no stars. I guess it's lucky you can outsource the quant studies to local alien races for low wages.

    And yes the other plot holes and flaws everyone else brought up are even more obvious. You need stars to have a habitable planet (that enterprise episode suggesting otherwise) was laughable. And there's no way radiation being dumped would fill up 2,500+ light years. Along with the idea of a garbage ship having more powerful weaponry than Voyager. The objects in the holodeck should have disappeared when the power went down. As well as the fact that if the radiation is what caused the void, and the aliens call it their home, how is the radiation harmful to them at the same time? Direct contradiction.

    @Peter G

    My point was that they acted like the sheer lack of stars was the cause of them going insane. The fact that you have to deliberately look out the window/airlock to notice the difference from any other normal day would imply Neelix wouldn't be waking up in a Panic in the middle of the night. They were almost equating it to sensory deprivation which was laughable. The ship is 99% their normal environment, and space is 90% dark (in real life) even with the stars, so the whole nothingness thing when the got 24th century tech right there at their disposal didn't make sense.

    I enjoyed this episode overall, very eerie feeling at the beginning and it’s good to see voyager dealing with the potential psychological effects of such a prolonged stay on one ship.

    I was thrown for a loop by janeway’s situation in this episode, she was acting so out of character I initially thought it was going to be one of those alien possession things. But rather it was some solid work to expand on what should be a very complicated character. I took her isolation to mean that she’s essentially an adrenaline junkie, and in the absence of an emergency she spirals. Obviously her guilt over some of her choices, particularly in light of Arturis calling her out in the last episode, is creating major introspection. But what’s surprising is that what she sees when she looks inward is apparently depressing her into a near catatonic state. Thus without the safe harbor of a crisis she’s adrift. Kind of a disturbing personality trait for a captain, but also some long overdue depth to her character.

    A few questions:
    -was this “void” a physical structure or was it just a sparse area of the galaxy? I got the impression that it was just a pocket of low star density, which means the view out of the windows shouldn’t have been pure darkness. You’d still be able to see stars. I understand that the pitch blackness was an important part of the mental stress component of the plot, and I’m willing to look the other way on this one, but it still bugged me a bit. Of course, if the void is an actual thing, obscuring starlight in every direction then it’d make sense I guess.

    -why are these space garbage men dumping their waste in open space? Wouldn’t shooting it into a star or a gas giant be better and presumably cheaper? Their whole economy seems weird. I suppose it’s possible they’re just idiots.

    I got the impression that the blackness was a combination of both the extra low star density, and all the radiation that the Malon were ejecting there. Tuvok said at one point that the reason they couldn't see any stars beyond it was an "unusually high amount" of theta radiation. Maybe that radiation was actually the build up of all the anti-matter waste they were dumping there for decades/centuries. But I doubt that would ever fill up 2000 cubic light years with it or whatever! Maybe the vortex also had something to do with it.

    I realize I'm responding to comments from 10 years ago, but I just wanted to say that I think it's unfair that people oversimplify Jammer's critique as "bitching that Voyager isn't DS9". That's not the point we (Voyager's detractors) are making, at all. The complaint is that Voyager doesn't show the same devotion to originality and lasting consequences that DS9 does, something that really would have aided *Voyager's own premise* of a lost starship exploring an unknown region. We don't want Voyager's *premise* to be altered to be more similar to DS9. We just lament/regret Voyager having squandered its premise so badly, especially when we know that better Trek writing was *possible* in the 90s, as exemplified by DS9. The comparison is mostly between the approaches, not the content. I thought that was obvious. Yes, in terms of story content, Jammer does point out that "starship exploration" Trek was starting to get old by then, but that was...true. It was a valid critique as well.

    My biggest hangup with this episode wasn't Janeway's depression, but rather just the Malon themselves, and the resolution to the central conflict in the plot. I'm actually all for an environmentalist message, but the need to dump toxic materials just wasn't justified in a plausible way. Literally every spacefaring society in Trek has warp drive that operates on the principle of matter-antimatter annihilation, which is clean (in real life its only byproducts are photons, and yes these are high energy, but you can just absorb them). Even dumb-dumbs like the Kazon have this tech. I'm supposed to believe that the Malon, who are somehow so advanced that their armaments surpass the Federation's, haven't figured out a way to make warp power non-toxic, when it seems like you'd have to try extra hard to make it toxic in the first place? Colour me unconvinced.

    The Void naturally lends itself to a multi-episode arc (much like Year of Hell) and I wish the writers had been brave enough to take that on. It would have allowed more time for a sensible resolution, including maybe actually having a conversation with the aliens about whether they actually *want* the vortex (their only connection to populated interstellar space) destroyed. The logic for doing so was flawed here. Emck made it clear that he was the only one on the outside who knew about the vortex. So Voyager inadvertently brought about a complete solution: destroying Emck's ship with the loss of all hands. After that they could have kept the vortex in place and used it to escape without risking the destruction of their ship. Is it *possible* that more Malon could happen across the vortex? Yeah, I guess. And Voyager wanted to eliminate that possibility. But if, instead of contacting the Malon and "blowing the whistle on Emck", they could just leave well enough alone, and that would go a long way towards protecting the Void aliens. That might be the more prudent step tactically as well. Janeway's plan, as stated in the episode, was to deliberately seek out more Malon and tell them "Oops we destroyed one of your freighters. Btw, here's some clean warp drive tech, feel free to use it." I understand the Federation desire to make Malon society non-polluting and hence protect the Quadrant, but this might be one of those instances where non-interference actually makes more sense.

    Ultimately the episode introduced new elements and new players (antagonists) only to employ the reset button and have their presence be largely removed. Sure, the Malon came back another couple of times, but not in a compelling way.

    "...but this might be one of those instances where non-interference actually makes more sense."

    As a quick follow up: the more I think about my own comment above, the more it makes sense. As an analogy, you don't see the Federation actively trying to upend Ferengi society and make its distribution of resources more egalitarian. That's despite the fact that a better economic system that doesn't exploit anyone is *demonstrably possible* (much like clean warp power). Sure, you could call out the Ferengi's system as a glaring plot hole in TNG/DS9 (just as the Malon's system of power seems like a glaring plot hole in Voyager): if technology enables the Federation to be post-scarcity, then why is the Ferengi Alliance *not?*. But if you just accept the conceit that the Ferengi are hyper-capitalist because they want to be, it's their religion (or whatever), then the Federation's established approach to that would be totally consistent with Janeway *not* sticking her nose into Malon affairs.

    >Literally every spacefaring society in Trek has warp drive that operates on the principle of matter-antimatter annihilation, which is clean...
    You must have skipped "Starship Mine".

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