Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 21, 2004)
With this package, Star Trek: Voyager starts to enter its home stretch. It includes all of the series’ fourth season, which puts it over the hump on the way through its seven years. This set includes Season Four’s 26 programs. These shows will be discussed in the order broadcast, which is also the way in which they appear on the DVDs. The plot synopses come from http://www.tvtome.com – thanks to them for their good work.
Scorpion Part 2: “The crew of Voyager come up with a solution to the Borg's problem, and are willing to share it with them if they grant safe passage to the ship and its crew. In order to help with the negotiations, the Borg send over a drone designated Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) as a representative of the collective.”
Although I never watched Voyager prior to the existence of the DVDs, I was always aware of the babealicious Seven of Nine, and this episode proves interesting since it introduces her to the series and explains how she ends up on the ship. It also presents some pretty solid action and intrigue, as the Borg/Voyager alliance offers nice fodder for a good story. “Scorpion” finishes a tale started in Season Three and launches Season Four on a high note.
The Gift: “Kes' (Jennifer Lien) telekinetic powers grow to such a point where she can no longer control them. In order to prevent Voyager from being destroyed, she must leave the ship.”
One babe comes, one babe goes. Actually, Seven doesn’t become a 10 until the program’s end, as this show depicts her change from full-on Borg to more human - and sexy - form. It aptly disposes of Kes, which comes as something of a change. Kes was one of the few characters who really grew through the series’ first few years; at first she was little more than a touchy-feely annoyance, but she became more fully-formed eventually. Anyway, “Gift” inevitably lacks the visceral impact of “Scorpion” but it provides some necessary exposition in a decent manner.
Day of Honor: “When B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Biggs-Dawson) faces the Klingon Day of Honor, she must retrieve the warp core with Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill), which Voyager had ejected. When the shuttle is attacked, B'Elanna and Tom are left floating adrift in space in environmental suits. Believing they are about to die, B'Elanna does the only honorable thing she can do, and reveals her true feelings towards Tom.”
Frankly, I had pretty much enough of Klingon ceremonies via our time with Worf on Next Generation and DS9, so I feared “Honor” would dote too much on those issues. It doesn’t, but it also fails to become anything more than generic soap opera as B’Elanna and Tom bond. Seven grows a bit here in the subplot, but this remains a mediocre episode.
Nemesis: “Chakotay (Robert Beltran) is stranded on a planet where two races are trying to wipe each other out in a massive, planet-wide war.”
We’ve seen this sort of episode in which a Starfleet member gets stuck between two warring factions. At first, “Nemesis” looks like it’ll take the usual, predictable path. However, it tosses in some serious curveballs that make it surprisingly interesting.
Revulsion: “When Seven of Nine and Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) work together in the new Astrometrics Lab, Seven interprets Kim's attitude towards her as a romantic invitation, and Seven is keen to explore her new feelings.”
More proof that Harry is the biggest drip in the galaxy: he displays a crush on Seven and gets the chance to hop into her bodysuit - and passes! What a loser. The main plot follows the Doctor’s interactions with another hologram (Leland Orser), one who goes bonkers. Orser plays twitchy and edgy better than anyone, and that story presents a predictable but generally stimulating tale.
The Raven: “When Seven of Nine believes that she is being contacted by the Borg, she leaves Voyager only to discover the remains of a cube that she believes was the vessel on which she was first assimilated as a little girl.”
Ever since Seven joined the crew, the series’ writers have been like kids with a sexy new toy. She’s featured very prominently in almost every show this year, and it’s starting to get old. It’s interesting to learn a little more about her past, but c’mon already - there are plenty of other characters to explore on the ship as well.
Scientific Method: “When the crew begins suffering from stranger illnesses with each passing hour, Seven of Nine is the only one who is able to expose the threat to the crew.”
Another day, another show in which Seven plays a prominent role. At least she’s not really this one’s focal point, and after a slow start, “Method” becomes rather intriguing. It also gives the Janeway character an excuse to act in unusual ways, some of which hearken back to Captain Kirk, the wildest of all the Starfleet leaders.
Year of Hell Part 1: ”Voyager comes under attack from a Krenim Temporal Ship that alters the course of evolution by wiping out entire species from the timeline.”
What’d I think of this episode? Check back in a couple of paragraphs when I look at Part 2.
Year of Hell Part 2: “With most of the crew having abandoned Voyager and only a skeleton crew remaining, the crew realize that to stop the Krenim ship from altering history any further, they need allies. They soon realize that the price of history is higher than any of them could have possibly imagined.”
”Hell” offers a darker and nastier experience than usually seen on Voyager, and that alone makes it worth a look. So far Season Four’s depicted a meaner Janeway than previously seen, and she definitely shows her edge here. However, the program suffers from events that take the ship and crew to a point of no return, which undermines the episode. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but from very early on, it becomes inevitable that this will be a “magic bullet” piece, one in which something will eventually occur to eradicate all of the change observed. It remains interesting but loses points due to the fact it “doesn’t count”.
Random Thoughts: “The crew takes shore leave on a planet inhabited by a telepathic species that have forbidden all violent thoughts and actions. B'Elanna is arrested when she thinks of retaliation to an incident, but a surprising discovery is made when Tuvok (Tim Russ) starts investigating.”
Trek sure does love to knock “perfect” societies down a peg, and “Random” does so once more. It uses some interesting concepts, as the idea of a group that outlaws violent thoughts is intriguing, especially since this turns such notions into a form of pornography. Nonetheless, the show becomes predictable, given the way Trek always treats arrogant, narrow-minded societies such as these.
Concerning Flight: “When pirates steal some of Voyager's technology, Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and Tuvok search their home world and discover her holographic Leonardo Da Vinci (John Rhys-Davies) who helps them in their search.”
After a series of darker shows, Voyager engages in lighter fare here, but not with very good results. All the Trek series usually came across as cutesy when they attempted whimsy, and “Flight” doesn’t improve upon that model. It’s a tedious episode that doesn’t go much of anywhere.
Mortal Coil: “Neelix (Ethan Phillips) is killed during an away mission, but is revived when Seven of Nine modifies Borg technology to revive him. Soon, he begins to question all that he has been taught about the afterlife.”
“Coil” starts with a beautiful sight: the demise of the consistently annoying Neelix. Too bad he comes back so quickly. The show attempts to explore some serious questions, but since it does so through the series’ most obnoxious character, it lacks heft. We’re too eager to see Neelix die to care about his philosophical insights.
Waking Moments: “The crew is 'attacked' by a species of alien that lives in the human dream state. It is up to Chakotay, with extensive knowledge about the dream state, to save the ship and its crew.”
For Trek, the theme of the fairly omnipotent alien who messes with the crew goes way back to the earliest episodes of the Original Series. “Moments” doesn’t go too far beyond the basic concept, but it offers a clever twist on the idea. It becomes pretty convoluted after a while but keeps us involved.
Message in a Bottle: “The crew discover an ancient communications relay that extents to the Alpha Quadrant. They are able to send the Doctor (Robert Picardo) through to a Federation ship at the other end, the experimental U.S.S. Prometheus, only to discover that it has been taken over by Romulans.”
The Doctor long ago established himself as the series’ most interesting character, and here we get two EMHs with the addition of a prototype on the Prometheus (Andy Dick). Picardo and Dick play their fussy characters to perfection and add a lot of effective humor to this amusing and clever episode. I hope the Dick doctor returns later.
Hunters: “Voyager starts receiving messages from Starfleet through the communications network, now that they know that the crew is alive in the Delta Quadrant. Some bad news is received by some of the crew, particularly Captain Janeway among others. After a short while, the messages become lodged in one of the modules, and the crew must retrieve them. Shortly, they are crudely introduced to a new enemy, the Hirogen, who seek nothing more than to kill victims for the thrill of the hunt, and Voyager is their next target.”
After such a long period of detachment from the rest of their familiar universe, “Hunters” gives us a look at the crew’s reactions to renewed contact. It also adds some decent action with the formal introduction of the Hirogen, a species that owe a debt to the Predators. It’s essentially an expository show but it does its job.
Prey: “When Voyager encounters a disabled Hirogen ship with a wounded Hirogen aboard, Captain Janeway beams him aboard. Soon, the prey being hunted by this particular Hirogen, a member of Species 8472, boards the ship. The only immediate solution is to let the Hirogen loose on the ship to attack it prey.”
While “Prey” includes some good action, it also delves into some intriguing philosophical points. When Seven acts on her own judgment and goes against Janeway’s wishes, she gets chastised, which brings out issues that prompt thought. It’s a solid episode.
Retrospect: “While re-fitting Voyager's systems with newly traded weapons, Seven of Nine claims to have been assaulted by Kovin, the weapons dealer. The Doctor soon makes a surprising discovery about the situation.”
Voyager degenerates into the realm of psychobabble with this fairly tedious episode. It sets off down some unusual paths but offers a generally lackluster tale.
The Killing Game Part 1: “When the Hirogen capture and board Voyager they discover that the holodeck can be used to improve the hunt by putting the prey through different situations and locations. In one situation, Captain Janeway, Torres, Tuvok and Seven of Nine are members of the French resistance in occupied France with the Hirogen in roles as Nazi SS Officers. Since the crew was implanted with subdermal transmitters, they have no idea that this is on the holodeck, and they think it's real. It is up to the Doctor in sickbay who is forced to heal the injured to disable the devices and help the crew escape.”
If you think I’m going to discuss “Game” before it reaches its conclusion, you’re wrong. Move ahead slightly to read my thoughts about it.
The Killing Game Part 2: “The crew must find a way to defeat the Hirogen and reclaim Voyager.”
After tons of holodeck episodes, it’s become tough to find creative angles, but “Game” does so fairly well. However, it suffers from the same problem as almost all holodeck shows, a feeling that it exists mainly to let the actors expand their range. It does toss out clever twists, though, and it also serves to broaden our contact with the Hirogen, which makes it more integral to the series’ subtext than usual
Vis a Vis: “An alien test pilot who has the capability of switching bodies manages to take Tom's place aboard Voyager in order to escape the law.”
Many of this sort of episode feels like little more than an excuse to let the actors stretch and play different personalities. Some of that affects “Vis” but it works anyway. The plot’s convoluted but entertaining, and it manages to become a pretty good program.
The Omega Directive: “Voyager is forced out of warp by the detection of a dangerous and powerful particle called 'Omega' which only Janeway and Seven of Nine know about on board the ship. Due to the nature of the particle, only Starfleet Captains are informed and are ordered to destroy it at all costs, as it has the power to destroy subspace. Janeway must enlist the help of the senior crew on a need-to-know basis in order to destroy it safely.”
”Omega” takes a more abstract approach to a subject than usual. It starts with a tense tale of a mystery substance and almost turns into a discussion of the search for God. Not all of it succeeds, but it manages to become something interesting.
Unforgettable: “An alien woman who requests asylum on board Voyager claims that she was onboard the ship a month ago, and she fell in love with Chakotay.”
In this episode, we meet the most unusual alien species in quite some time… and see the results turn into little more than a maudlin romance. The show almost totally wastes its potential. It fails to explore its concepts and falls flat.
Living Witness: “700 years into the future the Doctor must defend the crew of Voyager and set history straight when an alien race claims that the Warship Voyager was responsible for war crimes committed against their race.”
“Witness” presents a clever exploration of the elasticity nature of history. It looks at how easily cultures can get facts wrong and how such errors can influence future events. It’s an intriguing show, even though it seems to predetermine the Doctor’s path.
Demon: “In search of the vital chemical deuterium essential to Voyager's energy supplies, they discover a 'Demon' planet with reserves large enough to replenish the ship. Ensign Kim and Tom Paris take a shuttlecraft down to the planet's surface in environmental suits. Soon they are found on the planet with no suits, and the ship's atmosphere becomes poisonous to them.”
I’ll say one thing for “Demon”: it concludes in an unusual way. It goes off onto some unexpected tangents, most of which make it a good show. It features too much Harry for my liking, but it nonetheless succeeds as a fairly strong episode.
One: “When Voyager encounters a deadly radioactive nebula, Captain Janeway decides to save time by going through it and placing the crew in protective stasis with only Seven of Nine and the Doctor left to protect the ship. Seven soon starts experiencing hallucinations when an alien wants to trade vital supplies.”
“One” works as something of a star turn, for it lets Ryan expand her parameters as Seven. Since I always like to see her expand the parameters of her outfit, I won’t complain. Otherwise, the episode offers some intriguing moments as it explores Seven’s psyche but doesn’t come across as a great show.
Hope and Fear: “An alien translator by the name of Arturis (shadhsakjda) is able to finally decode the Starfleet message received by Voyager five months ago. It tells them to go to a new type of ship waiting for them with an engine system faster than warp drive, which is capable of bringing them home within three months.”
One drawback that comes from watching TV shows after their end? You know when matters will wrap up - and when they won’t. That means that we go into “Hope” with no hope that it’ll send the crew back to Earth anytime soon, not with three more seasons left. Despite that issue, this is a very good program. It offers a three-dimensional villain and neat twists.
I know that Voyager has more than a few detractors, and after the first couple of seasons, I thought I’d join them. Season One had potential but was too spotty to exploit it sufficiently, and Season Two fell into a series of ordinary, indistinct shows without personality. Voyager began to come into its own with Season Three, and Season Four continued that evolution.
Some of the credit has to go to the show’s new character, Seven of Nine. The writers featured her too prominently in Season Four, as they occasionally forgot that she wasn’t the only member of the crew. Nonetheless, her presence improved the dynamic and gave the show more spark.
Overall, I really enjoyed Season Four of Voyager. The series slowly developed its own identity, and this year demonstrated that well. For the first couple of years, I was relieved to finish off the shows, but for Season Four, I felt a bit disappointed as I wanted to watch more.