Star Trek: Voyager


4 stars

Air date: 12/1/1999
Teleplay by David Zabel and Kenneth Biller
Story by David Zabel
Directed by Mike Vejar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Admiral, thank you for seeing me."
"You're scaring my secretary, Mr. Barclay. You have five minutes."

— Barclay and Admiral Paris

Nutshell: A terrific character study and a big moment for the Voyager crew. Very well executed, and well played for its emotional content.

It's nice to break format every once in a while. "Pathfinder" breaks the usual format, places much of the emphasis on guest characters, takes place almost entirely in a setting away from Voyager, features two guest stars from the TNG days ... and does it all without any of it seeming like a calculated ratings stunt. There's real substance here.

Sure, this story will probably resonate more with TNG fans (particularly fans of Lt. Reginald Barclay), but this is still a Voyager story, with a main character whose loneliness might symbolize the loneliness of the Voyager crew. (Or not, seeing as the Voyager crew has rarely been characterized as lonely but instead as a group with implausibly eternal optimism, but, hey, I won't be an ass about it.)

Barclay. I've always liked this guy. Okay, not always (the stories didn't always serve him well), but usually. There's a certain affection you can't help but have for a guy who struggles the way Barclay does. He's sort of a bumbling goof when it comes to talking to other people, kind of like Rom on DS9 ... except likable, believable, and with genuine depth. He's got that klutzy personality, and consistently falls apart when he's trying to explain what's going through his mind. His brain is always racing ahead; verbal conveyance just can't keep up, and his anxiety nearly brings everything else crashing down.

Barclay is the center of a remarkably fresh-feeling premise that's relatively rare for this series: a reversed perspective where the starship Voyager is the object rather than the subject. (A couple other episodes with this characteristic that come to mind are "Living Witness" and "Distant Origin.") Barclay is part of a project called "Pathfinder"—run by a Starfleet Headquarters-based science team devoted to researching methods and technologies that might permit communication with Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. But Barclay has found himself obsessing over the project, obsessing over Voyager itself. He has conjured holodeck re-creations of the crew, and interacts with them, ostensibly because he needs someone to "bounce ideas off of," but really because he has grown attached to these fictional representations of a stranded crew.

With the Enterprise in orbit around Earth, Barclay has contacted Counselor Troi, hoping maybe she can help him. He insists his problem isn't a relapse of his holo-addiction. On more than one occasion he assures other characters, "It's not what you think." Unfortunately, it probably is. It's not exactly a relapse, because the situation is different from the last time: In "Hollow Pursuits" it was about fantasy and escape. Here it's more about need.

On any given day at work, Barclay's inability to convey what he's thinking is a problem. He has devised a complicated procedure that might be able to allow two-way real-time communication with Voyager. It would require dedicated use of an elaborate Federation communications device known as MIDAS (the Mutara Interdimensional Deep Space Transponder Array; you can figure out how that becomes "MIDAS" on your own). The procedure involves long-winded technical explanations, but sometimes Barclay can barely get four words out before he trips over himself.

Barclay's boss, Commander Pete Harkins (Richard McGonagle) isn't hard-headed, but he has followed Barclay's over-exuberant suggestions in the past, ending up with results that were, well, a waste of time. Harkins is skeptical of Barclay's newest plan, which seems way too complicated to work. But Barclay is certain it will work and absolutely dead-set on trying, and he sends himself down a path that vaguely resembles the exhausting, bothersome determination of Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy.

"Pathfinders" is easily the best character study since B'Elanna's complex outing in "Barge of the Dead." Most of that can be credited to Dwight Schultz's exceptional performance. Barclay is full of quirks, nervous gestures, and a tendency to suddenly raise his voice when he feels he isn't being listened to. Schultz is able capture these nuances without them coming across as over-performed. The performance creates a sympathetic person when it could've come across merely as a quirky comedy routine.

I felt a great deal of sympathy for Barclay; we can see that deep down what this guy has to say makes sense, but at the same time we recognize every step along the way where he slips up and reveals his obsession and instability, which drags down his own cause. Sometimes it's downright painful to watch Barclay as he tries so hard and so unsuccessfully to express his thoughts, teetering on the edge of desperation. The scene where he first offers his idea to Admiral Owen Paris (Richard Herd) is a perfect example, as he stammers his way through a barely coherent argument, then forgets who he's talking to and presumes he's the only one thinking of the project in human terms. Admiral Paris is, of course, Tom Paris' father, and his interest in the Pathfinder project has a significant personal stake as well.

The only place Barclay feels comfortable is in the holodeck, interacting with the fake Voyager crew. Once inside, he's a truly different person: calm, composed, charismatic. The underlying message here is one of control: Don't we feel more comfortable in situations we can control versus those we can't? The holodeck crew, it would seem, are programmed to be Barclay's friends. He can anticipate the way they will respond to him. They tell him just what he needs to hear just when he needs to hear it. Unfortunately, that's not how the real world works, and it's hard to make any real progress in a fantasy realm.

Barclay doesn't want to admit this is a real problem. But his boss does, and we can understand when Harkins pulls him off the project and bars him from the lab and the holodeck until he seeks counseling. It's interesting to see how Barclay deludes himself into believing that his obsession is all just part of doing his job. Troi has to push him pretty hard before he admits to himself that it runs deeper than simply being overly committed to his work.

Barclay's problem ultimately boils down to the simple concept of loneliness. Leaving the Enterprise to live on Earth hasn't been easy. He hasn't been able to make new friends, because he isn't quite sure how. All he has is his work and that simulated Voyager crew. To him, Voyager is representative of his own emotional isolation. At home he lives with his cat. The cat's name is Neelix. My, what a lonely world. When Barclay finally breaks down and confesses this all to Troi, it's an affecting moment we can understand. The Enterprise served as Barclay's unified friends-and-family. And when you lose that, where do you turn? The world is there, but how do you make yourself fit into it? This is a human story that tackles a believable dilemma. No people mutating into salamanders, just honest emotions.

The plot, which serves the characters well and vice-versa, does a good job of moving along at a good pace without unnecessary distractions. And it's particularly nice that we have a stake in the plot as it unfolds on its own terms. We didn't have much stake in the actual plotting of episodes like "Alice," "Riddles," "Dragon's Teeth," or "Voyager Conspiracy" because they all played out in ways that were more or less inevitable, so the value to be found was strictly within the characters. But "Pathfinder" has a storyline that's about something important to the Voyager crew, so in addition to characters we have a plot that holds its own. I cared very much how this hour would play out.

For Barclay, obsessions do not simply go away. He needs to test his theory. He goes over his commander's head, straight to Admiral Paris, who isn't thrilled with Barclay's persistence but listens to him. When that doesn't result in immediate action, however, Barclay waits until the lab closes and breaks in to carry out the procedure on his own. Barclay ups the stakes and risks his career, but little of that matters to him; contacting Voyager is what matters. One of the most memorable details has to be when Barclay finally sends his message. The agonized expression on his face, a bizarre cross between sheer terror and relief, says it all: "Here I am at the moment I've been waiting for ... but what if it doesn't work?" He looks like he could burst from emotional overload at any moment.

The episode also has a clever "action" sequence when Harkins comes with two security officers to arrest Barclay for breaking into the lab. Barclay, who has obviously planned ahead, still needs to send a second message to Voyager, so he transfers the computer controls and makes a dash into the holodeck, where his resourcefulness and talent for holodeck games give him the advantage. But what I particularly liked was Harkin's approach to ending the game—rigging the simulated Voyager to self-destruct—and the idea of Barclay backing down and ending the program at the last moment rather than seeing the crew blown up. This is an interesting action scene because it also addresses the psychology of the characters.

Of course, since this is a feel-good episode of Trek, Barclay's theory is a remarkable success that reaches the Voyager crew, who are able to establish a live communication and talk back. This saves Barclay in his hour of peril, and supplies the Voyager crew with a moment they've long been waiting for. All of this is quite well-played for its awe factor.

What makes this such a good payoff isn't just the fact that Voyager finally has a live communication with home, but also the use of Paris as a brief but integral part of the equation. He finally gets to hear from his father, who has come to accept his son and put the uneasy past behind him. There's no actual dialog between them—the episode shows some remarkable restraint—but Tom's silent reaction is on the money and his toast later indicates some closure that rings all the way back to the series' beginning.

This ranks as one of the more comfortable feel-good episodes on Voyager's record, featuring a tidy, happy ending. I have nothing against feel-good shows, particularly when done this well. Everything works out for Barclay, who finally seems able to move on with his life. I only hesitate to think where he'd be had the communication effort failed. It's a good bet he'd have been crushed by such a failure, possibly beyond recovery, in addition to his career very likely being over. Things ultimately worked out fabulously, but Barclay's path to personal salvation isn't exactly one I'd recommend.

Some other thoughts:

  • Boy, they sure rebuilt San Francisco and Starfleet Headquarters awfully fast. As much as I liked seeing Earth, it might've been nice to have some indication, however slight, that Starfleet is recovering from the Dominion War. If and when Voyager does get home, I certainly hope we don't get a Federation that's completely healed, as if the final two years of DS9 didn't happen at all. (I know—this isn't relevant to "Pathfinder," but it was something that came to mind.)
  • This week also reminded me how I wouldn't mind seeing the Voyager crew switching to the current, better-looking Starfleet uniforms. Just a thought (albeit not a particularly relevant one).
  • I enjoyed the brief Seven/Neelix exchange about the singing lessons. What I particularly found amusing was Seven's way of insulting Neelix with a statement that would be sarcastic from anyone else (telling him he should perhaps restrict his singing attempts to the shower), except that Seven really means it and delivers it as a 100 percent neutral fact with no intended malice. Hee. (Last week Seven assimilated the Borg implant labeled "Richard Belzer." In addition to turning her into a conspiracy theorist, apparently it also helps her deadpan humor technique.)
  • I also was hoping there might be some mention of Doc's connection to Barclay as evidenced in second season's "Projections." According to that episode, Barclay was on a team that helped test the EMH's original program. That might've also been a nice touch to figure into his obsession. Ah, well. I suppose that might've been cluttering up the story a bit.
  • Of course, I must mention the story's one noticeable plot hole. In predicting Voyager's course, there's no way Starfleet can take into account the fact that since Doc's communication almost two years ago in "Message in a Bottle," Voyager has made several jumps amounting to anywhere from 25,000 to 30,000 light-years ("Night," "Timeless," "Dark Frontier," last week's "Voyager Conspiracy"). Based on Starfleet's prediction (and Barclay's own dialog about Voyager being 60,000 light-years away), the entire effort would be rendered ineffective, methinks. Just once I'd like to see the writers accurately represent the distance remaining in Voyager's journey, which I'm inclined to believe is less than 30,000 light-years at this point.
  • I liked the lighting techniques in Barclay's apartment—the way it went from bright afternoon to sunset to darkness in between the flashback scenes. Not a big surprise, since the director is Mike Vejar, who I'm inclined to call Trek's current best. (In DS9's "The Changing Face of Evil," also directed by Vejar, I was similarly struck by such a technique used to show the sun setting on Bajor in various scenes throughout the episode.)

I've droned on long enough. "Pathfinders" isn't perfect (that one plot hole regarding the distances is a bit of a nag), but it's an episode where I really cared, was really entertained, and really liked the characterization. That's what counts. This is a real keeper, easily among Voyager's best.

Next week: Rerun. "Does Jason Alexander want Seven of Nine for her mind or her body?" Direct quote, people. Further proof that no road is too low for UPN promos. But it made me laugh out loud, so I guess it's not all bad.

Have a safe and happy rest of the millennium. See you in 2000. (And if you say, "The new millennium isn't until 2001," I will vaporize you.)

Previous episode: The Voyager Conspiracy
Next episode: Fair Haven

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92 comments on this post

Tue, Jan 1, 2008, 9:32pm (UTC -6)
Just watched this episode again, and I am always impressed by Dwight S.'s portrayl of StarFleet's most flawed Genius, the "Brian Wilson of the Federation"
Jakob M. Mokoru
Fri, Feb 1, 2008, 1:17pm (UTC -6)
Really an fantastic episode! Mulgrew did a terrific job in showing her restraint emotions while having first contact with Starfleet command.
Joe M.
Wed, Jun 18, 2008, 9:53pm (UTC -6)
Great episode. Alone worth the price of the season six boxed set DVD's.
Wed, Aug 20, 2008, 1:17am (UTC -6)
Interestingly, I'd have rated the ep a bit lower. The premise is good, but I think the execution was lacking. What made Barclay work on TNG is the fact that, despite his neurotic quirks, he's still a brilliant and capable engineer. The writers managed to show that quality as well, even though the quirks were usually the focus of a Barclay story. It gave him depth.

Here I have a hard time thinking that he hasn't indeed relapsed into holoaddiction, and that's in no small part due to the simulations feeling... well, fake. Barclay says that he feels more comfortable with the holograms than his coworkers on the project, but that seems to be because the holocrew is programmed to think he's an indispensable genius. They spend more time complimenting him than they do actually helping him with his work and making his view seem more believable.

I dunno. I just don't think Barclay was handled as well as he should have been, and Troi wasn't really given much to do - it's nice to see Marina again, but she's not a huge component in the story. Some parts of it were way too predictable.
Fri, Jan 9, 2009, 7:21pm (UTC -6)
One of Voyager's best episodes ever and it has almost nothing to do with Voyager. No surprise there.

Actually I don't mind Voyager, it's had a lot of pretty good episodes, but nothing can top an all Barclay episode. They could have made this a two parter, or hell just make a whole series around him.
Latex Zebra
Mon, Apr 20, 2009, 6:55am (UTC -6)
Wonderful episode.
The thing that nagged me (the distance thing i could let go) was that all is forgotten about Barclay breaking into Starfleet and using their equipment unauthorised, just because he managed to make contact.
Breaking the rules is breaking the rules and it hardly sets good examples for officers if you can do all the above and get away with it. Just because of the end results.

Oh hang on, this is just a TV program isn't it. ;o)
Sun, Jun 21, 2009, 8:01pm (UTC -6)
this one is my favorite episode
Thu, Oct 1, 2009, 12:33pm (UTC -6)
I disagree. This episode COMPLETELY felt like a ratings ploy from beginning to end, and a rip-off of "Hollow Pusuits" with a Voyager twist. It barely had anything to do with our beloved characters at all. Though I will admit that the final act was very powerful and well-executed stuff. I just wish they could have done it with more focus on the main characters and less focus on the TNG guest-stars-of-the-week.
Tue, Feb 16, 2010, 1:01am (UTC -6)
I agree with Nic - we've seen all of this before. Nothing new here. I give this episode a D- - it's well-done, but it's just a character name substitution for the earlier holoaddiction stories.
Sun, Feb 21, 2010, 11:31am (UTC -6)
The story was good, but why Barkley? He lowers the episode at least a star and a hlaf, because I can't stands him. His shy timidity in the real world, here and in the past, has always been grating, but his snarky confident behavior with the holocrew of Voyager was utterly excruciating.
Thu, Jul 8, 2010, 4:56pm (UTC -6)
Four stars is really pushing it - 3 would be more appropriate - but it IS a good show. Not one for sentimentality, but my eyes swelled when Paris' dad said he missed him - that scene worked very well.

I could have done with much less philosophizing and counseling, and more of the technological facet of it all. This is again an episode that's too much about people (a person) and personalities at the expense of SCIENCE fiction.

Another concern is Commander Harkins. Is humanity going to progress so little in four centuries that we will STILL have pompous, closed-minded morons in high positions of authority?! I would've fired his ass at the end.

Good to see Deanna again. She's still a cutie :)
Sun, Feb 6, 2011, 12:17pm (UTC -6)
This episode would have been a good excuse for the Voyager crew to switch over to the new uniforms. Surely the replicator pattern could be sent in the data stream.
Fri, Mar 11, 2011, 6:34pm (UTC -6)
Ha, marvelous episode (haven't said that about Voyager for several seasons!)

Having Barclay as the one to finally establish 2-way communication with Voyager is absolutely inspired and it fits in perfectly that he would be the only one obsessed enough to go the extra mile.

I have to admit I also identify with Barclay quite a bit when it comes to having ideas (Not claiming to be a genius, I just mean in certain ways at work) and them being overlooked due to my own poor communication, or not being allowed to chase up something I believe I can achieve for the same kind of reason. You have no idea how frustrating it is and how obsessed you become with getting something done and proving yourself before it's taken away. This was very true to life and captured very well.

Anyway, Neelix the Cat - hahaha

Good to see it mostly play out from Starfleet's side


For the first time in a long long time (last time would be some point during DS9 maybe) Trek put a lump in my throat. I am of course referring to the moment between Paris and son. Very very moving. BTW, Isn't it time he earned Leiutenant rank back...

Just everything was beautifully executed and even the technobabble was at least acknowledged (Troi: "you've lost me...") :). I'm glad a big moment like this has had so much genuine thought, care and attention put into it. So the Voyager writers were capable of it after all. Bravo.
Mon, Apr 4, 2011, 4:17am (UTC -6)
I liked the episode, but was it me or was Admiral Paris just too cuddly? I just couldn't beleive this was the guy who had terrified Paris throughout his childhood.
Wed, Aug 24, 2011, 3:30am (UTC -6)
Very enjoyable ep - but not a four star effort, as it certainly doesn't sit alongside the best of the best in terms of Trekkian masterpieces. It is an engaging, fun and ultimately poignachainring and it's great to see Reg and Deanna again (although I couldn't get over the design of Reg's apartment - it didn't look particularly 24th century at all). The plot is pretty basic and wholly predictable but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the ep. The gold is in the characterisation and the details
Wed, Aug 24, 2011, 3:33am (UTC -6)
Oops that was meant to read "ultimately poignant change of pace" but got garbled somehow - gotta stop posting from mobile devices :-p
Sat, Sep 17, 2011, 10:15pm (UTC -6)
So Data's Spot and now Barclay's Neelix, doesn't anyone have a dog in the future?
Fri, Nov 4, 2011, 7:59am (UTC -6)
Matt don't forget Chester - the cat Miles got from Bilby.
Tue, Nov 15, 2011, 4:15pm (UTC -6)
The one thing that I never understood about the whole wormhole plot element is, what stops Starfleet from creating another wormhole? Even if the star used to create the micro-wormhole was somehow "used up", I doubt that the star is particularly unique (he didn't tell the computer to use a specific star, rather he just said "find a type-so and so star". If the star has a whole type dedicated to it, it's likely common), so what stops the Federation from moving the array to the next available star and opening another wormhole?
Wed, Apr 11, 2012, 2:24pm (UTC -6)
4-stars? Praise? This was wretched dog-drivel. Reg isn't an enduringly lovable secondary character. He's an annoying, glad-we-don't-see-him-often tertiary character. I could have sworn this guy was supposed to have developed some rudimentary social skills - I mean, I am watching every single star trek in a row, it's not like I last watching TNG 7 years ago, no, I watched it 7 weeks ago and 7 weeks ago, this guy showed SOME social prowess. But here, now, this guy's foot is always in his mouth. When he started sputtering to the Admiral I threw whatever the hell was in the my hand, that I was toying with to TRY and distract me from this mess and wondering why I was still watching it. And what in the name of science was with that accent he slapped on when he was getting "confident?" I turned off that worthless drivel with Quark cross-dressing after 4 minutes but for some reason I let THIS pile of pig vomit play for all 46 minutes. I give it .5 stars - the scene when they DO make contact is beautifully done. It's just such a shame that I have to go grubbing around in some dirty oyster's shell to find that one tiny pearl.
Wed, Apr 11, 2012, 4:59pm (UTC -6)
Wow. Ouch.
Wed, May 2, 2012, 12:17pm (UTC -6)
Good Episode, even if I can't stand Troi.
Would have liked more Baclay-Holo Voyager crew scenes

As it was it just had too much TNG involvement
3 stars.

As to the uniforms, How the hell can anyone like
the NEW uniforms. There's no real accent on crew
assignment status. All we get is an very ugly and cheap looking undershirt to indicate Command,Science,Support. and everybody's shoulder level color is POWDER BLUE.
This goes against tradition alllll they way back to TOS, and nobody cares?

Voyagers & Generations movie unis are pefect.
Not full body loud color as in Next Gen
Not Powder Blue, w/ meanigless wrist decoration.

The new uniforms were so GENERIC, they had to give
Picard a unique wardrobe to infiltrate the borgified Enterprise E. in First Contact.
Sun, Jun 3, 2012, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
Fun episode, but 3 questions:

Isn't a singularity supposed to be a black hole, not a wormhole?

Why did Admiral Paris have a picture of cadet Nicholas Locarno on his desk?

Why did The Doctor fail to mention "turned into a spider" as one of Barclay's "variety of maladies"?
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 1:56pm (UTC -6)
@ Justin...

indeed so, especially since that particular malady actually carries Barclay's name...
Fri, May 10, 2013, 8:06am (UTC -6)
Just watched this last night. I liked how Barclay had the Maquis in their old outfits. Nice touch. Just a guess he made.

In regards to the distance. Barclay mentioned at one point that the ship was 60,000 light years from Earth. At that point he would have no reason to think otherwise. He wouldn't have known about Dark Frontier and Timeless. Towards the end, he was in panic mode because the message wasn't answered where he thought it would be. He kept trying new coordinates and eventually he found them. I think it was more serendipity
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 2:03am (UTC -6)
This is the only episode in the entire series that caused a lump in my throat ( even shed a tear). That happened when Tom's Father said that he was proud of him. Nice conclusion to a mini story arc that started from the beginning of this show.

The distance thing really did piss me off though. It would have taken a hell of alot more "guesses" to find the correct sector of the Delta Quadrant Voyager would have been travelling through at that point in time.
Thu, Jul 11, 2013, 10:58pm (UTC -6)
@Matt - you forgot that Janeway has a pregnant dog in Caretaker.
I always hated the Barclay eps in TNG but he wasn't as annoying in this.
Also, the security for starfleet sucks, he removes a panel, diddles with it a few moments and poof he's in?
Jo Jo Meastro
Sun, Jul 28, 2013, 4:36pm (UTC -6)
If last episode was a good example of a routine yet fun story, then this is an example of an top-of-the-draw spectacular all-guns-blazing event.

All I can do is echo the high praise that's already been given and add me to the list of people who were touched emotionally by the final resolution to the wonderfully rich story. It had excitement, freshness, boldness, drama, scale, even a pinch of had everything basically, which is what I like.

The only thing left to mention is that I love Barclay as a character. I actually relate to him a lot with his anxiety and problems. I felt for him when he was on a low and I was cheering right alongside him when he came out on top. The praise definitely goes to Dwight Schultz, I love his work ever since seeing him in the A Team as a kid!

A Star Trek classic, beautifully done. I'm very very pleased with season 6 so far, as far as I can remember there hasn't been a single episode I've disliked!
Mon, Aug 12, 2013, 1:02am (UTC -6)
I was delighted to see Troi again, and appreciated Barclay as well. However, if Barclay grates on you, I can see why you wouldn't like this episode as he dominates it.

I agree that having the old outfits/hairdos was cool, but I did notice some of the plot holes others have pointed out, especially the ship location issue and the doctor not recognizing Barclay.

The whole thing was worth it for the communication scene, though. Very powerful. I just wish Paris had said something. Having Janeway say "He heard you" wasn't as powerful as him saying something as simple as "I miss you too, Dad."

Good episode overall with a killer final act, despite a few problems and slow parts before then.
Tue, Aug 13, 2013, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
Jammer! I am glad you commented on the scened with Neelix and Seven. It clearly had nothing to do with the episode, but that is what made it so much better. I love when they show daily banter that has nothing to do with the show. the whole scene made me laugh!

also, i was riveted. I couldnt wait to see how the final act unfolded. it had me caring about voyager and Barclay.

I think Barclay was the perfect person for this episode. 1. you can totally picture him getting obsessed. 2. you knew he worked in developing the DOC so it wasnt a long shot that he would be involved..

i loved the scene with Admiral Paris talking to Janeway.

but most of all, i love how they circled back around to Tom Paris inducting Barclay as an honorary member. that was a pretty cool idea by the writers.

easily a 4 STAR episode!
Lt. Yarko
Mon, Aug 26, 2013, 10:47am (UTC -6)
Eh. Not that great. I would think that Barclay should have made some progress by now. He is still a mess. Poor guy. Too bad his condition can't be cured by waving one of McCoy's thingies over his head. I mean people who have been turned into lizards can have their DNA resequenced to turn them back into exactly what they were before (hair style included), but Barclay can't have his brain sequenced to make him less of a basket case.

Oh, and talk about your hard-headed bad guys. The dude in charge of the project could have been a little less of an a-hole and given Barclay's plan at least a look-over. I mean, even Paris' dad was willing to check out his work. "Stun him if you have to!" Absurd. These are supposed to be evolved adults. And, that damned holodeck. You just can't get access to the power grid outside of the holodeck controls which can be encrypted to shut the damned things off.

And, yeah, nice security, starfleet.
Tue, Sep 3, 2013, 4:51am (UTC -6)
Man, these reviews are old. It's sometimes weird when he references the "coming" millennium. Jammer, are you still around?
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 4:33am (UTC -6)
The distance thing irritates me about this episode. They just jumped 5000 light years in the previous episode - how would Barclay know where to send the message? And Barclay is a terrible character. I can't believe they brought him back. Love the TNG crossover, but ANYONE would have been better than him!

I actually didn't mind the episode, and I liked that they made contact again - but jeez, Barclay's annoying.
Wed, May 14, 2014, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
Amazingly good episode. One very smart way to crossover, very innovative, and a really good character episode. Touching in the end, subtly funny at times, deep the whole time.

One of the few down-points for me was the bad casting and bad acting for Paris' father. He was so flat! Not powerful enough, didn't have the presence needed for such a character in such a situation, especially considering what he have been listening from Paris...

But that's certainly minor. What a very good way to introduce the very welcome first contact with Earth! How joyful.

One of the very best I've seen in a long while.
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 7:23am (UTC -6)
Easily one of the best episodes of Voyager. Makes me sad for what could have been had they tried harder.

@Latex Zebra

This is "Utopia" Earth you're talking about here. The most he would have gotten is 3-6 months in "rehabilitation." He probably wouldn't have even lost his rank.

Even the Maquis were forgiven.
John TY
Mon, Sep 1, 2014, 9:14am (UTC -6)
Definitely not 4 stars for me. I enjoyed certain aspects: The basic concept and the sentimental touches at the end made it significant. But there were some major flaws.

Firstly, we've seen the holo-addiction plot before. A loooong time before. Reg is a basically the pathetic Trek fan we've all been at some point, finding more comfort in its safe and familiar universe than in our own lives. Fair enough point, but no need to keep reminding us about it! Especially since he doesn't get any actual help for his problems. Troi just shames him, he then runs amok due to his inability to articulate his plans (and his bone-headed superior) and then there are no consequences just a 'Well done Reg, how's the new gal you're seeing'. I kept thinking: What an terrible councillor, Troi is. Same as old TNG times.

And the acting. And some of the inane banter between Red and Deanna. The Admiral was terrible and Troi was as painful to watch as ever. Reg was deliberately bad though handled well by Schultz. But I still had issue with the nature of his character; Shy introvert then feisty risk-taker.

All of it made me think the Voyager writers themselves were the ones pining for the glory days of the Enterprise, not Barclay.
Sun, Nov 30, 2014, 9:46am (UTC -6)
The way earth is generally portrayed in Trek, it's pretty hard to empathize with Voyager's crew being hell-bent on getting back there at all costs. It's a horrendously dull place full of dullards. Lifeless surroundings the colour of bland.
Mon, Jan 19, 2015, 4:13pm (UTC -6)
This is an excellent episode. Just like in 'Hollow Pursuits', I identify with Barclay every step of the way. The guy has serious difficulties with all social situations (except those involving his cat and holograms, which he can control and are therefore "safe") and he's not just going to get better and live happily ever after. There are peaks and valleys. The valley came when he left the Enterprise and had to start over in San Fran. By the end of the episode, he's starting to improve again.

The ending is great; all the technobabble pays off when Barclay succeeds in contacting Voyager, and Admiral Paris gets to say hi to his son. I didn't mind seeing Troi again either. This is an exciting change of pace for Voyager and I will definitely go back to it again.
Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 11:06pm (UTC -6)
This was no ratings ploy, as some here have suggested. Sure, every producer wants to put something really strong out there during ratings season, but I was impressed over how wonderfully restrained this episode was. It was a great character study on Barclay, and a fun story to watch unfold... The season was really humming along at this point, as this along with other episodes proved that when the stars align, great writing, acting, and directing all come together to put together an awesome story... Totally agree, 4 stars all the way!
Sat, Oct 3, 2015, 4:35pm (UTC -6)
Got trolled last time I commented here, but this episode is powerful and I want to share my positive perspectives and personal lessons. I'm on the 4-stars side for sure and probably my personal favourite VOY ep.

Sidebar: Yes, Mr. Wilhelm doesn't really work as Adm Paris. Maybe Mr. Pitt from Seinfeld.

So today, as an Engineering Manager, I can relate to Harkin in this episode. What do you do with someone who has loads of ideas and is always running off on a tangent to the team? Well, I certainly don't have my employees stunned with phasers, but I also don't send them home for speaking out. Ideas are what the future is built on. Good on Harkin to hire on Reg and take that risk. But I just don't think they are paying per kilowatt-hour for the holodeck, so I would have cultivated the ideas while helping Reg with his social skills much earlier on. Other Engineering Managers, like Harkin, don't always get the human side.

Intentional or not, I think Star Trek writers consistently tell us that our centuries old bureaucracies will still be around centuries from now. This is one of those commentaries. Fascinating.

But when I first saw Reg Barclay episodes decades ago, I identified with Reg's social awkwardness and technical obsessions. I learned to grow away from that but sadly, even today, trolls still find more comfort in this archaic holodeck we call "the internet" than in the real world.
Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 6:11pm (UTC -6)
this is the most godawful misguided attempt at an inspirational message I've ever seen Star Trek pulled. Granted, I enjoyed the episode, because I enjoy Barclay stories, but the ending left me in disbelief. Barclay was deep in obsessions, violated every protocol in the starfleet manual, and in the end, got a PROMOTION because his ideas just happened to work out?? And he's going to guide "project voyager", how can that possible succeed with an obsession-hungry person like him at the helm? It boggles the mind. Admiral Paris should have dragged Barclay's ass to the brig, not award him a medal. He's really dangerous, and I can't belief the whole of starfleet HQ (and Dianna Freaking Troi) applauded his destructive fixation.

Other than that though, very fun episode. Seeing the old TNG crew is always a good time. I really liked how Barclay identified with Voyager so well, because it makes sense he would be attracted to a lone vessel in space. Also, the old outfits were a nice touch.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Mar 11, 2016, 3:10pm (UTC -6)
I really enjoyed the fresh spin on the standard viewpoint here, and it proved a nice way to do a crossover episode. Lots of good moments, and the final scenes were extremely well handled.

But damn me if I didn't find Barclay insufferable here. Admittedly I was never a fan, but this goes above and beyond into whole new levels of irritating. Harkins comes over like something out of a 70s sitcom, and Adm Paris seems unlike anything we'd expect. I broadly concur with 'ratings grabber' over 'classic episode'. 2.5 stars.
Sun, Mar 27, 2016, 1:26am (UTC -6)
Yes, I do much prefer the feel-good episodes to the Secretly Evil Aliens of the Week ones.
Sun, May 8, 2016, 11:32am (UTC -6)
I thought FOR SURE that Troi was going to end up being a hologram...I'm surprised that nobody else apparently thought that. :)
Mon, Jun 13, 2016, 12:40pm (UTC -6)
What's not to like here?

Jammer said it all.

Easy 4 stars from me.
Thu, Aug 4, 2016, 3:26am (UTC -6)
Highlighting how comfortable Barclay feels with his holographic friends resonates with me and my past. It's similar to how I felt with my Internet-only friends as a teenager. I did feel more comfortable talking to people I've never met as opposed to real life friends. I remember feeling a little awkward watching this episode the first-time around, because that was around the time I was actually addicted to that virtual life, to the point that I couldn't function properly in the real world - much like Barclay.

Ofcourse, these days, with the social media generation, what was once considered a fairly 'rare' and abnormal condition has become commonplace.
I never have or never will use social media, so I guess that makes me an Internet grandpa now. From my view, there is nothing social about social media anyway.

Back then I was treated quite poorly because of my condition by friends, family and professionals. I think they just didn't understand how to deal with something that was relatively unknown to them. I kind of felt that with Barclay's co-workers too, which surprises me considering it's supposed to be the 24th century and all... Wouldn't Pete have been more prepared for this eventuality, given Barclays record?

I would hope that in 2016, we know better than to treat people suffering from these conditions poorly. I've long since grown up and moved on, but if I had received better treatment at that time, I might've dealt with it differently and lead a different life.
A big cow
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 5:50am (UTC -6)
Jeez, Doc. Just blurt out Barclay's medical history in front of everyone why not.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 3:35pm (UTC -6)
"Jeez, Doc. Just blurt out Barclay's medical history in front of everyone why not."

LOL I didn't even think about that. Doesn't he have a confidentiality protocol built in?
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 11:26pm (UTC -6)
I thought they did a great job with the holodeck versions of the Voyager crew. Notice how none of the characters actually contributed anything worthwhile, it was all just "wow Reg you're a genius!" I laughed a few times, especially with Janeway's "well, you've never given me reason not to trust you" moments before the warp core breach.
Thu, Sep 8, 2016, 7:08pm (UTC -6)
Marina Sirtis is beautiful. I've always loved seeing her. Unfortunately Deanna Troi was written as the worst shrink in history. Nice seeing you again Marina.
I feel for you Reg. Always misunderstood. So frustrating.
The writers found a great way to wake me out of Voyager slumber. They temporarily turned it into the superior STTNG (****)
Peter G.
Thu, Sep 8, 2016, 7:11pm (UTC -6)
You know something, mephyne, despite myself I find myself agreeing with a lot of your 'reviews.'
Tue, Nov 15, 2016, 6:51am (UTC -6)
Good to see Barclay again, not so much the hobbit (Troi).

What a dick his boss was. I know Barclay's a bit unstable but he's also a genius. It didn't sit well with me that his boss was writing off his work. Jammer mentioned that this may have been because some of his ideas didn't pan out in the past, but hey, if he's incompetent you sack him, if he's not, you listen to him. And surely any idea (even a far-fetched one) would be considered if it meant contact with voyager. Recovering voyager is not just a humitarian win for starfleet, but would provide them with invaluable data and new technology from the delta quadrant. No idea should be dismissed so summarily.

3 stars
Tue, Nov 15, 2016, 6:58am (UTC -6)
@Peter G & @Mephyve: I often find myself agreeing with Mephyve too (although he seems to have a rabid dislike for "hospital shows"). Earlier on he was accused of being a troll. Totally uncalled for.

I do however disagree with his opinion of Marina Sirtis but hey, each to their own.

Keep up the good work Mephyve...
dave johnson
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 4:16am (UTC -6)
just watched this for the first time in years

They really messed up with Reg's boss... what an asshole... This is 24th century Trek.. pretty much anything that is called "impossible" has had a solution created. With even the most crazy of ideas. So why would he dismiss him so badly like this and not even give it a chance. What the hell did he have to lose other than Reg doing stuff in his off hours. I really disliked that part of it. Reg is a Lt, he has been an engineer on the flagship of the fleet, has solved numerous problems and seems to be one of those guys that can engineer his way out of almost anything. I just don't fathom how any legitimate commander would treat him like a child and tell him to go to his room if he speaks.

I wish the drama around Reg just focussed on him growing in confidence and earning more respect, not being the guy who after a 20 year career is still being told to shut up and not have his ideas heard. How many times does he have to come up with brilliant ideas before someone says "Hm.. maybe we should listen to this guy more often"

just bush league writing.

other than that shit with his boss, loved the episide! It woud get 4 stars from me if they didn't have that crap in it.
dave johnson
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 4:18am (UTC -6)
Further to my last comment...

Even Rom got respect after a handful of engineering marvels. yes, he was dismissed at first, however, it didn't take too long for people to realize he was an engineering genius and listen to him. Not sure why they had to keep Barclay being treated like this after a 20 year career.
Tue, Jan 17, 2017, 12:54pm (UTC -6)
As much fun as I had seeing Troi and Barclay in a Voyager episode, did anyone else get the feeling that these guys are not the Barclay and Troi from the TNG show? They just don't sound the same to me for some reason. But, maybe that's just me.
Tue, Jan 17, 2017, 1:34pm (UTC -6)
Why does Admiral Paris have a photo of Nicolas Lacarno on his desk? I know I'm a TNG fan, but still it seems wierd that they would use a stock photo from The First Duty.
Fri, Feb 3, 2017, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
Some mention that The Name-dropping for this promotion episodes is over the top with :
"I've decided to ask Captain Picard for a temporary leave of absence.." CHANGED TO "I'm going to ask Captain Picard for help". :D

Well.. actually i found it an awesome episodes despite the shamefull name-drop

Dwight Schultz made an outstanding performance here.
Barclay is defenitely on his character to do something like this episodes, although it's a bit dissapointment seeing his character still having a problem with reallife social, the premise is well possible, and the reason gave is also reasonable (having a problem sticking to 'new life/work' after leaving Enterprise whom he consider his family).

Troi didn't affect anything major here, but she's helping with overall plot advancement and is used quite well i think.

Commander Harkin character is also potrayed reasonable. He knew Barclay has high technical expertise and hoping he can make good use of that, followed Barclay's suggestions in the past although it's not fruitfull, giving him a leeway on his job, help to move on life by introduce his sister in law.
Ordering Barclay to counsel before allowing back to work is also a reasonable after he found him taking 'holo' things a bit too far and worrying (not to mention overstepped him by taking matters directly to Admiral Paris).

The one thing I found a little odd is by the time Barclay hell-bent to prove he is correct, bypass security on office to use the array then found by Harkin.
The work is already in progress, pretty much nothing to lose for Harkin just to let Barclay do it for a few hours. If anything, this can make Barclay understand that he is in the wrong and doing Harkins a favor by proving it to Barclay and made his point to help him. But of course this is just an excuse for the writer to made the final act and dramatic scene of giving Barclay watch his 'Voyager' get destroyed by 'warp core breach' or he has to stop the program. At the end it leads to a very powerful scene and a real progress to the plot series overall, so I'm willing to overlook that.

There are few plothole as many already pointed. It's fairly a minor one, but still :
- Voyager will not be in projected course courtesy of several jumps after last contact in 'Hunter'
- Apparently all you need to restore deleted password and account is waving a 'toothbrush' in front of panel
- Doctor have to look out for Barclay records to know him? Hello, he is one of your creator along Dr. Zimmerman, Doc should have know Barclay right away on his file.
- Doctor mentioning Barclay medical condition in front Voyager crew? There is a thing called patient-doctor confidential, subroutine malfunctioning Doc?

This is some real progress to overall Voyager premise. I'm really happy with this episodes. I'm not ready to give 4 star on this one, but a 3 or 3.5 stars is a well deserved.

On side note :
Too bad they didn't utilize somekind of plot using Starfleet help to cooperate with Voyager, forcing them together find a way home early for the final episodes. Possibly by using species 8472 as a threat, utilising the freed-Borg from Unimatrix episodes, etc. I think this would make more interesting and reasonable end for the series.

Instead we got spectacular special effects, but a substandard and lame stories of senile admiral altering the timeline for Endgame....
Blatant disrespect of Temporal Prime Directive, risking live of entire quadrant species, changed the power balanced in the galaxy with unknown consequences, and altering the live of so many people (possibly made them die-erased from existance, ask Sabrina Wildman for example). Aaarrggh!!
Paul Allen
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 3:58pm (UTC -6)
A very satisfying ending. :)
Paul Allen
Fri, Apr 14, 2017, 4:07pm (UTC -6)

"And he's going to guide "project voyager", how can that possible succeed with an obsession-hungry person like him at the helm?"

How can it not??

Quote: "Obsession is a lazy word used to describe the dedicated"....
Fri, Jun 9, 2017, 7:25am (UTC -6)
Loved this episode, I can forgive the obvious plot hole (it being practically impossible to predict Voyager's current whereabouts) because the story was fun to watch and the emotional payoff in the end was great, had me in tears :')
Sat, Jul 8, 2017, 4:20pm (UTC -6)
Neelix: (happy and enthusiastic, as usual) I'm ready for my lesson!
Seven: (gorgeous and dismissive, as usual) I've concluded teaching you to sing is an inefficient use of my time.
Neelix: (deflated, rallies) But, uh, but I've been practicing.
Seven: (gorgeous and dismissive) In your case, practice is irrelevant. Your vocal chords are incapable of producing basic diatonic tones, not to mention your rhythmic shortcomings.
Neelix: (astonished, disappointed) I sound so good in the sonic shower.
Seven: (gorgeous and dismissive, now with a hint of empathy in her eye contact) Perhaps you should confine your efforts to that location.

Yep. 4+ stars for all that's been mentioned and a lot more.
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 4:30pm (UTC -6)
Marathoning all ST series and I have come to rely on your reviews. I usually read your review on the corresponding episode after I watch it, though sometimes if it feels like a drivel/filler episode, I read your review and skip it. I appreciate your site! Anyway this episode felt cheesy up until they made contact with Voyager. Then my emotions took over and I actually got misty-eyed. I don't enjoy Barclay very much, and I found him so frustrating- but the payoff was worth it.
Sat, Aug 26, 2017, 4:06am (UTC -6)
While you could dismiss the episode as a simple ratings gimmick, I think it actually has a very valid purpose. At this point, DS9 was cancelled and Voyager was going to be the only airing Trek show till the end of its run. And unlike DS9, Voyager is rather disconnected with the rest of the Trek universe, taking place far away with only Tuvok representing something familiar. This episode not only continues to give the show a sense of progression but it also helps to give it more of a place in the fictional world it is set in. i also think telling the story almost entirely from Barclay's perspective was a necessity, you really need to have it take place on Earth for it to work and to have the final act have all the more impact. The holo Voyager was a good enough compromise for me.

A bit derivative of Barclay's previous stories, but they are all basically variations of the same story-people have doubts about Barclay's abilities, Barclay turns out to be right. A good episode.
Wed, Oct 18, 2017, 6:19pm (UTC -6)
Terrific episode that really got exciting in the last 20 mins. or so. It's always nice when what seems like a highly improbable event comes true -- but of course it's Trek. Nevertheless, the episode sold the communication contact success well.

In a couple of TNG episodes, I haven't enjoyed watching the Barclay character. I didn't really enjoy "Hollow Pursuits" and even less "Realm of Fear". At the start of this episode, it just seemed like more heavy-handed portrayal of anxiety, stuttering but where Schultz really excelled came in a later scene with Troi when he shows his passion about the Voyager crew. So overall, the clumsy Barclay was well acted here although it is still a major stretch that the whole communication thing could work out (given that it should be nearly impossible to estimate Voyager's whereabouts after all it's been through and the simplistic avg. speed from last point of contact analysis).

The episode had some heavy technobabble but it didn't seem overly confusing or totally implausible. When an episode can get away with that (or maybe it didn't bother me because the story is a good one), it's great.

The holodeck chase scene is a good one and it's also fortunate that Barclay's boss actually appreciates him deep down inside but is trying to stick to the rules in suspending him. If he truly didn't like Barclay, this episode could have gotten rather unsavory. The episode winds up working because you feel for Barclay -- his character has its flaws but he's a good guy and you hope he's right (you know he will be, though).

3.5 stars for "Pathfinder" -- another terrific VOY episode where the cast is very much secondary (like "Living Witness" and "Timeless"). Nothing wrong with the cast but it's good for a change to see what StarFleet is trying to do about Voyager. You have to feel a sense of wonder when Janeway finally communicates with Barclay/Adm. Paris. And the feeling after Barclay is let off the hook and lauded by everyone is a true feel-good moment and that's fine.
Commander Jameson
Fri, Oct 27, 2017, 8:55am (UTC -6)
(As an aside - I never got to watch Voyager the first time around, as I was at university when it launched and didn't have a TV. I've just spent most of the past two months catching up on this with my partner, who DID see it the first time round, and we've got this far.)

Now, I was all set to hate this one when it started - I could never stand Deanna Troi or, I'm sorry to say, Marina Sirtis, and I've gone right off Dwight Schultz (despite having loved the character of Reg Barclay previously) despite his undoubted talent since I found out about his political leanings. However, what a builder - gradually, I was sucked in by the nature of the story, with a nice flashback framing device (yes, the lighting was very good here), an excellent central performance from Schultz and a real concern over how the story is going to turn out.

I think one of the reasons that the character of Reg Barclay is so compelling is that he's the absolute antithesis of what we normally expect Starfleet officers to be - not confident, relaxed and sure of himself but anxious, shy and with cripplingly low self-esteem despite his obvious brilliance. Perhaps, for these reasons, we identify with him more closely than we would with other cast members.

Actually making the connection with Voyager at the end was a masterstroke - and I'm not afraid to say I started welling up when Admiral Paris told Tom what he thought of him. All th at's been brewing for six series, now. Whoa.

And Neelix the cat is CUTE.
Mon, Nov 27, 2017, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
Everyone, from 4 stars to none, hits the same chord - the contact scene was flawless. If you’re at all invested in these characters, then one of your favorite moments of the series is having everyone realize what’s happening while Captain Janeway somehow maintains her command bearing and utters the biggest understatement of the series: “We’ve been waiting a long time for this moment.”

If I had one drawback, it wouldn’t involve the aim of the stream. It would be everyone, including 7, instantly trust the authenticity of the communication. How many times have they been trapped with honey? But 47 minutes is what it is and really, Voyager was the object and not the subject.
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 10:51pm (UTC -6)
3 stars

It’s decent enough

The first half felt like a retread of “Hollow Pursuits”. Things became more interesting once the flashbacks ended and Reg took action by breaking into the facility. The action was well done and the moment contact is made with Voyager was a stand up and cheer kind of moment. Plus this movement forward in terms of regular contact was welcomed and felt like set up for the ending of the series—too bad they mangled this plot thread as badly as most others they tackled

I also thought it was pretty neat idea of showing things from Earth in terms of the efforts underway to get the crew home. However, The script made areg’s boss too rigid. I could understand allocating resources in the 21st century but I don’t see how trying out his idea with the array couldn’t have least been tried. Worst thing would be it wouldn’t work. It didnt look like they had anything more important going on

I also enjoyed seeing Troi BUT if anything much like ENt— voyager wanted to be TNG and as popular but bringing in its aliens and it’s characters doesn’t make it do. It just reminds one of how much of an inferior product it is
Prince of Space
Thu, Jan 18, 2018, 2:39am (UTC -6)
“...since I found out about his political leanings.”


Even worse than his political leanings *GASP*, Commander Jameson... I hear he also likes.............. GLUTEN!!!

The horror! THE HORROR!!!
Gul Densho-Ar
Fri, Jan 26, 2018, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
Wow. I don't get it, I can't think of any other Trek character as annoying as Barclay, including Wesley, Nog, and Lwaxana. I find him exactly *not* likeable, believable or anything of the sort, and his overacted silly antics feel like something out of a children's cartoon.

I hated every unenjoyable minute of his screen time in TNG, and I hate it here too.

1 star.
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 10:36pm (UTC -6)
Great episode, the Reg character from TNG finally paying off for a quality episode, who would have guessed? This honestly makes some of those previous Reg episodes feel like they were building to something,. It's rewarding to know that TNG crew's efforts to get Reg back on track up paying off in the long run in helping to get the Voyager home. Felt good to bring the show back into the Universe and give some lost perspective as well, and as most people above are saying, the call between Admiral Paris and Janeway is one of the show's finest moments.
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 11:19pm (UTC -6)
Not a huge fan of Barclay. He is very annoying and can be very one-note. But this was fun.

I too, wondered, at first, if Troi was going to turn out to be a hologram as well, but as the ep progressed it became obvious he was really in his appt, etc.

Agree the Admiral was miscast. Needed somebody like that actor that played Riker's father.

Just a fun ep all around, with a great pay off.

The ep title gives away its central theme, about finding your way home, carving out your own path, whether that means traveling a zillion lightyears, or realizing you're not really cut out to be a singer outside the sonic shower, or figuring out how to live on planet Earth.
Thu, May 9, 2019, 9:28am (UTC -6)
This ep just slapped my face warped because Troi and Barclay? --there is no hope for either of them.

Barclay is worse than ever; but when he was on TNG I didn't hate him. Now I do. No military on earth would allow such a person with his warped mind to remain forever as an "anything". Troi? Yeah. they probably would keep her ...... because they think she's great.

See, on TNG he had the crew of the Enterprise as the school yard bullies to beat him up on his way to play on the holodeck.

Actuallllly, there is no way Barclay could ever clear his mind enough to figure out a way to give the Voyager crew a "shortcut" back to the Alpha Quadrant. It's sad that the writers were stupid enough to write him insane. That's no doubt what they all "did" in their writer's room, or rooms. Barclay just had to be carbon copies of themselves.

Seems someone or someones needed a paycheck that week.
Thu, Jul 11, 2019, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
Whether you admit it or not, most Star Trek fans are more "Reg Barclay" than "Jean-Luc Picard"

Depending on people's mindset, because of this fact, folks either love seeing this character or greatly resent him
Sun, Jul 14, 2019, 4:54pm (UTC -6)
The doctor gets the award for 'Breeching code of ethics'. He really outdoes himself; announcing Barclay's medical history to the entire crew, in a particularly smug manner also. Zimmerman must have been hungover when coding that particular 'sub-routine'.
Lew Stone
Mon, Sep 23, 2019, 2:46am (UTC -6)
No, not 4 stars. More like 2.5, 2.75 stars and I liked it okay.

I generally like Barclay episodes, "Hollow Pursuits" is great, but I thought it was lazy writing to still have him back at square 1 with his various personality issues. A more interesting plot is as follows . . .

At the beginning of the episode, and for the next 15 to 20 minutes, we see a different Barclay. He seems to have cured his holo-addiction and lack of confidence, he seems like a normal, confident member of Starfleet who is second in command of the Pathfinder project. This would be a great hook for the viewer many of whom would be expecting the Barclay of old. Troi can visit him at some point and he confidently introduces her to his friends and girlfriend. Troi is impressed. About 15/20 minutes in a new director of Pathfinder is appointed. It's an officer from Barclay's past who knows the old Reg and doesn't like him nor believes he's really changed for the better and tells him as much. Everyone else in Barclay's life is relatively new and doesn't know about the old Reg. This reminder of Barclay's old bad habits triggers said habits and Barclay starts screwing up a la old Reg. We see the confusion on the faces of the new people in his life. This is where Troi comes in to help. So this is the middle of the episode when Reg is returning to his old bad habits. However, he does hit on a possible way of communicating with Voyager which his boss dismisses. Much of the rest is the same. Get a different guy to play Admiral Paris, and at the end Barclay, with Troi's help in-session, chooses and forces himself to discard his older bad habits forever. Also, they should have created a holo-deck whose sole purpose is for running simulations for work. It could have had an observation deck outside the holo-deck, on the second floor, for other workers to look down on, and listen to what was happening. This is where the Admiral would have been, watching Barclay's sadistic new boss chewing him out for being in the holodeck for 24 hours straight, working on Pathfinder then . . . we hear Voyager come across the speaker. The Admiral fires the sadistic boss and puts Barclay in charge, with promotion, of the Pathfinder project. Leave in the final scene of Voyager communicating with Starfleet, except maybe have the Admiral and Tom speak to one another directly.

In this way the beginning is fresh, a Barclay we've never seen, not cocky or a quaking, stuttering mess. The viewer can feel like this man is making progress and we're happy for him. Then the step back with the new boss from Barclay's past. Then at the end, Barclay reclaiming his new good habits while showing off his genius in front of the Admiral. In this way the viewer can feel like Barclay is making huge progress and doing really well. In the actual episode they show Barclay at the end, seemingly doing better, and talking about his new girlfriend, but it's only like 2 minutes so it comes across as flat, convenient, and underwhelming. Generally, I couldn't stand Barclay's over-the-top stuttering in this episode, it's gotten old. It's almost like the writers/director whomever said "give me more, give me more!" It doesn't work because it's too grating. That's why my idea would have been better. Show Barclay in a way we've never seen, confident (not arrogant) around normal, non-holographic people. Oh well, missed opportunity.
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 12:11pm (UTC -6)
I very much enjoyed the episode, except for the throwaway line at the end to Troi “I couldn’t have done it without your help.” Ummmm... how did she help him? He never got his act together; he succeeded as a result of his continuing obsession.
Sleeper Agent
Sat, Nov 9, 2019, 1:32pm (UTC -6)
Even though I like Troi she didn't really had any purpose in the story, as for Barclay I liked him more in TNG, he just seemed a bit over the top in this one. The touch with Maquis uniforms and Barclays hero fantasy on board Voyager was indeed entertaining. And it felt like the ending managed to give a well needed boost to the over arching Voyager story.

There are many better episodes though.

2,5 Stars.
Wed, May 13, 2020, 9:08pm (UTC -6)
Fantastic stuff, one of the show's best. Always a pleasure to catch up with Barclay, especially in an episode featuring the biggest developments since... the pilot?
William B
Thu, May 28, 2020, 9:50am (UTC -6)
RIP Richard Herd. In addition to Admiral Paris, where he stepped into a character built up in the series' history with aplomb, I really enjoyed his performance as Wilhelm in Seinfeld.
Tue, Jul 28, 2020, 11:21pm (UTC -6)
This is great Voyager.

When they made contact, there was a wonderfully underplayed scene, when Admiral Paris was talking about Tom. They could have really gone cheesy here but they didn’t.

Voyager gets a lot of often deserved flack, but not here.

This was brilliant and believable.
Fri, Oct 9, 2020, 7:03pm (UTC -6)
Just finished watching this episode for the first time and was just about in tears at the end of it.

Always loved Barclay in TNG and there's something oddly poetic about Reg being the one to finally initiate contact in this manner. It makes you realize just how far the crew have come in their 5 years and they are slowly getting closer to home.

I know Voyager gets a lot of flack in reviews, but there's just something about it that the other series don't have.
Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 11:21pm (UTC -6)
I have mixed feelings about this one.

No matter which series, I find it stressful to watch the Barclay character, a caricature of mental illness in a universe that has supposedly solved problems from headaches to poverty, but not his tenuous connection to reality. I don't find his inner torment cute. I find it profoundly sad.

Nonetheless, I realize the reason it strikes me so deeply is because the character is both written and acted skillfully. Credit where credit is due!

I enjoy the happy ending. Very heart-warming.

But my suspension of disbelief is shattered by the fact that apparently Starfleet is apparently willing to let the ends justify the means. That part of the happy ending just doesn't make sense. In what universe would Barclay's career NOT be destroyed by this incident, just because his technique happened to work?

Or perhaps in the enlightened society that is the Federation, he would simply be committed to a treatment center.

For that matter, given his documented history of holoddiction, why would he have had access to unlimited, unsupervised holodeck time? How is that even a remotely a kindness to him, or a practical way of running a research project?
Bob ( a different one)
Mon, Mar 8, 2021, 2:45pm (UTC -6)
As others have pointed out, Troi should have turned out to be a hologram in the end. Much like the holographic Voyager crew Reg conjures up she contributes nothing towards his solving his problems; she, like they, only give him someone to talk to. She may be the most pointless character in tv history.

Jammer said: "At home he lives with his cat. The cat's name is Neelix. My, what a lonely world."

That's poetry, man.
Bob (a different one)
Tue, Mar 9, 2021, 10:28am (UTC -6)
Alternate ending:

COMPUTER: Warp core breach in ten seconds. Nine, eight
HARKINS: One way or another, this programme's going to end.
COMPUTER: Seven, six, five.
BARCLAY: Good-bye, Captain.
BARCLAY: Computer, disengage safety protocols.

Two more observations:

B'Elanna and Chakotay both look cooler in their Maquis duds. They should have kept them. I liked B'Elanna's hairstyle better, too.

Damn, Neelix was excited about his singing lesson. I like that little skip in his step when he first came through the door. Ethan Phillips is really underrated; he always makes the best of a bad part.
Sun, Aug 1, 2021, 10:57pm (UTC -6)
Reg said Voyager so much in this episode I realized the name of the ship is always referred to as simply, Voyager. As opposed to calling ships and adding, "the" beforehand like, The Enterprise, The Pegasus, The Bozeman, etc. I guess saying, The Voyager just doesn't sound right.
Tue, Sep 28, 2021, 6:24am (UTC -6)
Much like Rosario (Wednesday, April 11, 2012), I felt that the episode forced the viewer to "go grubbing around in some dirty oyster's shell to find that one tiny pearl."

Don't get me wrong, Barclay has had some good shows. "Hollow Pursuits" is a gem. I love the one where he merges with the Enterprise D computer system. But I tell you from the heart, this attempt at recreating those glories falls to the wooden plank floor with a thud....a lead ingot thud of no return.

If any one of us had an employee like 'Wonder Redj' we would have resigned years ago to put baskets of fries into deep fat all day without safety protection instead.

He is pathologically shy. Ok fine. Who isn't? Does he learn how to work with others constructively? Absolutely not. He promises to be good, then gets the uncontrollable urge to prove how much of a genius he is, but only when he knows that there is a sufficient number of people (including an admiral) around as his personal captive audience. Then, if anybody tries to nicely say that 'we can table that for later,' he persists....beyond social norms until all those who recognise such norms are driven insane.

This happens because Barclay is, when push comes to shove, a 'class A' narcissist.

I say to Barclay, I respect you, I feel your pain, I want to know your ideas....please put them in writing. Let the rest of us truly benefit from your wisdom.

Gotta go....customers just came in and the baskets of fries await.
Jason R.
Tue, Sep 28, 2021, 8:51am (UTC -6)
"He is pathologically shy. Ok fine. Who isn't? "

Umm most people.

"Does he learn how to work with others constructively? Absolutely not."

That would be the "pathological" part.

"beyond social norms until all those who recognise such norms are driven insane."

Pathological again.

"I say to Barclay, I respect you, I feel your pain,"

But you don't.

That is kind of the point and why Hollow Pursuits was such a nice quirky episode. Pathfinder too, although perhaps to a lesser degree.
Wed, Sep 29, 2021, 9:02pm (UTC -6)
Hollow Pursuits is indeed a nice quirky episode. One of my favorite TNG efforts.

Pathfinder doesn't hold a candle to it...

Barclay is indeed brilliant.

It is easy to respect that part of the character and accept that he has something important to contribute within the context of the episode.

Barclay is indeed in pain.

I empathize with the emotion conveyed by the actor. Many people, who are shy on some level, like nearly all of my trusted friends, feel perhaps what may be a similar pain when confronted by a society which is run to generate lots of extroversion and then reward it.

In my opinion, the episode has cheapened Barclay. He now triumphs over adversity through break-all-the-rules boldness. Pure extroversion. It is a far cry from the Barclay of Hollow Pursuits and making Barclay do all that 'loud stuff' hurts Pathfinder, which might have been much better. Wished that it had been.

The contact scene with Voyager is, in itself, beautiful. Loved that.
Mon, Jun 20, 2022, 11:05pm (UTC -6)
This has always been one of my favorites. I love the scene at the end, also I enjoy Barclay with this one. Recovery from addiction isn't a straight line, and Barclay has relapsed, but he gets perhaps his characters greatest moment of redemption at the end. I for one am glad they brought him back to give him this victory. As others have mentioned, Mulgrew deserves a ton of credit for the way she handled the contact scene. The way she plays the emotions makes the whole scene feel so real, it is one of the greatest moments in the entire series.
Sat, Jul 16, 2022, 2:39pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was a great episode, as Jammer and others have pointed out.

While watching it, though, I wondered if things would have played better with a more pessimistic ending. For most of its running time, this is a rather dark and disturbing descent into madness - made creepier by how goofy/cartoonish Barclay is - and if you end the episode with Barclay's project failing, you have an even more powerful episode about addiction, avoidance-personalities and escaping into fantasy and/or delusions.

I do like the route the episode took - the optimism works, and Barclay deserves his heroic ending - but one senses that there's an equally great downbeat story in here as well.
Fri, Dec 16, 2022, 9:59am (UTC -6)
I've just been re-watching this episode, and I really do like it. I like Barclay as a character, because in a way he's actually quite a real, human person. A thing which is a little odd, even problematic, about "Star Trek" - TNG particularly - is that everybody in it is basically awesome. They're all decent people who are superb at their jobs, with not much in the way of flaws. Barclay, in a way, is the answer to the question "What is it like to live in that society if you're the only person there who isn't awesome?" It's pretty rough.

There's a lot going on in this episode, and what I particularly like is that hardly anything is clear-cut.

Reg insists that he is not succumbing to holo-addiction again, and that the holographic Voyager helps him come up with solutions to work-related problems. It's clear that working on holo-Voyager actually *does* help him solve technical problems - but it's equally clear that he definitely is relapsing into holo-addiction, spending 20 or 30 hours a week in the company of imaginary people.

The scenes on holo-Voyager are, on one level, quite funny - Reg on Voyager is ridiculously capable and everyone adores him - but at the same time there is a real edge of tragedy underlying it: this is a man who is so bad at making friends that he ends up creating imaginary characters programmed to be friends with him.

Harkins is superficially the antagonist of the episode, but in no way is he a bad person. He is actually trying to befriend Reg - asking him round to dinner, setting him up on a date with his sister-in-law - and from his perspective everything he does makes perfect sense, and is actually in Reg's best interests too. He's also clever, and clearly good at his job.

Reg is not given a free ride either. His plan does, in fact, work; but his protestations that he can't make friends are not entirely correct - Harkins is doing his best to be a friend while Reg is pushing him away. And Admiral Paris, whom Reg perceives as completely dismissing his plan, actually does study it and decides to authorise it.

There are some very emotional moments in this episode, and they all feel earned. It's sweet that Deanna decides to take some shore leave to help Reg - it reminds us that helping people is a vocation for her, not merely a job, and that she is actually Reg's friend. And the moment where Tom finally hears his father's voice for the first time in years has real punch. (Recall that Tom was the only person who didn't get a letter through the Hirogen network, because it was corrupted).

All in all, while it certainly is a feel-good episode, it is also considerably more than that; and it remains one of my favourites of the whole series.

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