Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 3, 2004)
Hurray! We’re now in the home stretch for Star Trek: Voyager. We’re now up to Season Six, with only one more year left after it. It’ll be here soon, so I don’t want to waste any time. I’ll cover Season Six’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.
Equinox, Part 2: “Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) must find a way to stop a rogue captain and save Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan).”
Although the first part of “Equinox” worked well, the second segment is less successful. On the positive side, it’s interesting to see Janeway turn into almost an Ahab-style character as she pursues the other starship. However, the show undercuts the psychological dimensions with a simplistic ending. Still, it has more action than usual and mostly seems entertaining.
Survival Instinct: “Seven of Nine discovers that she was previously freed from the collective along with a few others, and that she was responsible for their re-assimilation. They now wish to be restored to their individuality, but it may cost them their lives, as well as Seven's.”
“Instinct” loses points simply because it’s annoying. The three ex-Borgs are bland characters, and we don’t really care about their journey. It’s slightly interesting to see Seven back in her Borg days, but I don’t like the episode much otherwise.
Barge Of The Dead: “During a near-death experience, B'Elanna (Roxann Biggs-Dawson) finds herself aboard the Klingon Death Barge, a spectral vessel which transports dishonored souls to Grethnor. After seeing her mother there, B'Elanna risks her life to go back and save her mother's soul from this fate, even at the cost of her own.”
Voyager developed Torres as almost the opposite of Next Generation’s Worf. He wanted badly to be an ultra-Klingon and negate his human upbrining, whereas she wants to ignore and expel all parts of her Klingon heritage. I tired of shows related to Klingon beliefs and customs a long time ago, and this show doesn’t change my mind. It’s slow and tedious.
Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy: “The Doctor programs himself with the ability to daydream. When an alien spy gains access to the Doctor's visions he mistakes them for reality.”
Though this episode’s concept seems extremely cutesy, the reality is that it offers an excellent program. It helps that I like the Doctor, and the show makes terrific use of him. It’s clever, funny and exciting, and I consider it to be one of the best Voyager episodes ever.
Alice: “Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) persuades Chakotay (Robert Beltran) to allow him to buy a shuttle from a junkyard. While repairing it, the shuttle, named 'Alice', begins to gain control over Tom's mind.”
Don’t expect any surprises from “Alice”, a tediously predictable episode. It tips its hand way too early and fails to take us down any unanticipated paths. It’s a dull show.
Riddles: “Tuvok (Tim Russ) is attacked by an energy source, which leaves him exposed and vulnerable. He soon starts experiencing emotions he never had before.”
As I’ve noted in other reviews, Trek loves to put its participants in situations that require them to behave uncharacteristically. Few roles are riper for that treatment the ever-logical Tuvok, so here we see him act like a little kid. The story doesn’t go much of anywhere, and it loses points since Neelix becomes Tuvok’s best pal; any show that presents the series’ most annoying character in a prominent part starts out with a few strikes against it. Russ makes the most of his emotional time, though, and not in a ridiculously showy manner. The program lacks much oomph, but it has its moments.
Dragon's Teeth: “The ship is placed in danger when it comes under attack from a territorial race of aliens known as the Turei. While sheltering on a planet, Captain Janeway tries to make an alliance with its inhabitants, the Vaadwaur. However, she soon begins to think that the Vaadwaur may pose a bigger threat than the enemy above.”
As with “Alice”, “Teeth” suffers from a story that lets us on to its secrets too early. However, it compensates with some good action, a commodity often in short supply on Voyager. I’d prefer to see Janeway come up with more intellectual solutions to problems; one of the pleasures of the Original Series revolved around the clever ways Kirk would outsmart the aliens, but Janeway rarely seems to enjoy those kinds of twists. Still, the show is mostly entertaining and enjoyable.
One Small Step: “Voyager searches for a long-lost Mars spacecraft.”
That short synopsis simplifies matters a bit too much, but it covers the heart of things. One problem with the show is that it seems to use the wrong character as the one obsessed with the old spacecraft. Chakotay is fascinated by it, whereas it seems more sensible to put Paris in that role; Chakotay just doesn’t feel like the right person for that kind of interest. Perhaps the series’ producers just decided to branch out the character and logic be damned. The experiment doesn’t work.
The Voyager Conspiracy: “A data-overloaded Seven of Nine starts spreading rumors of a mutiny and insurrection when the ship encounters an alien race who have technology that can catapult the ship light-years closer to home and cut years off their journey.”
Here we find Seven in full Jim Garrison mode. This creates a moderately intriguing story as she pursues her various theories. Of course, we know how it’ll end, but it’s fun along the way.
Pathfinder: “An obsessed Barclay (Dwight Schultz) tries to find a way to communicate with the starship Voyager with the use of an artificially generated micro-wormhole. He becomes so involved that he needs the help of Counselor Troi (Mirina Sirtis) to keep his grip on reality.”
On one hand, I like being able to see some Starfleet attempts to contact Voyager. 99 percent of the series comes from the Voyager crew’s point of view, so it’s cool to check out what’s happening back home. On the other hand, this story focuses on the ever-annoying Barclay, and that robs it of much power. What could have been a useful examination of a different element just becomes irksome.
Fair Haven: “As the crew enjoys time off in a holo-program created by Tom Paris, and set in an Irish village named 'Fair Haven,' Captain Janeway falls for a handsome holo-character specifically designed for her. A deadly neutrino wave approaching Voyager shortly bring the festivities to a halt as this wave may prove to be more dangerous than they first imagined.”
I got tired of holodeck episodes years ago, and this one feels like it exists for no reason other than to give Janeway a love interest. It doesn’t work, and the show plods along with little point to it. I don’t like this program.
Blink Of An Eye: “Voyager becomes the target of a society it inadvertently helped to create within a short period of time.”
Season Six rebounds with this cool episode. It features a very clever concept and manages to avoid a number of pitfalls. Okay, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I think it’s fun anyway.
Virtuoso: “When the Doctor's (Robert Picardo) singing talents are discovered by a technologically superior race, his new found popularity makes him consider resigning his commission to stay on the alien world with his millions of adoring fans.”
Just as Data helped explore the meaning of humanity on Next Generation, the Doctor serves the same purpose here. He just does it with more humor. Not that the character doesn’t get his moments of depth, and those pop up here in a surprisingly moving episode.
Memorial: “The crew of Voyager experience vivid memories and dreams of a battle they don't remember having, with an enemy they have never encountered.”
This episode presents a mystery, but an only moderately intriguing one. I was curious to see where the journey would end - I just didn’t much enjoy the path it took to get there. The conclusion wasn’t worth the wait in this mediocre show.
Tsunkatse: “Seven of Nine is forced into a competition for her life known as 'Tsunkatse' when she and Tuvok are abducted from the Delta Flyer. If she refuses to fight, Tuvok will be refused the medical aid he needs to keep him from dying from the injuries he sustained from the crash.”
Didn’t we already see this story back on the Original Series? Of course, that episode didn’t include a cameo from the Rock. That’s not progress. The show doesn’t reveal anything especially new or creative and feels more like an excuse for some wrestling-related promotion.
Collective: “Borg children who were rejected by the Borg as unworthy drones abduct Chakotay, Harry Kim (Garrett Wang), Neelix (Ethan Phillips) and Paris.”
This show comes across as Borg of the Flies. It manages an inventive storyline, though, and takes the crew into some unanticipated tangents.
Spirit Folk: “The inhabitants of the holo-city of Fair Haven suspect the Voyager crew of having mystical powers when they witness the use of their futuristic technology.”
The quaint Irish village of Fair Haven got old back in its eponymous episode, so I can’t say that I cared much for more adventures there. The show did take an interesting twist in that the holo-characters become aware of the oddness of the Voyager crewmembers in their midst. That turn couldn’t overcome the show’s generally annoying quality, though.
Ashes To Ashes: “Ensign Lindsay Ballard returns to Voyager after being killed during a previous away mission. An alien race known as the Kobali, whose only method of reproduction is 'resurrection' of the dead through genetic engineering had revived her and taken her as a new member of their race. When the full extent of her new Kobali genes becomes activated, they reach a point where she must choose between her old home on the ship, or her new home with her adoptive Kobali family.”
Shows usually go downhill when they introduce children into the action. Voyager already had the Naomi character to bounce off of Seven, and now it gives her four more wards. This isn’t a good thing. Add to that an episode that focuses on the lovesick mewling of Harry and “Ashes” isn’t a positive episode.
Child's Play: “Seven of Nine defends a child Borg drone whose parents come to reclaim him. The boy's parents plan on using him as a secret weapon as revenge on the Borg, even if it results in his death.”
More of Mama Seven pops up here, and the concept doesn’t become any more endearing. At least the program veers into an interesting concept via the method of battling the Borg. This allows the show to end in a strong way, but the preceding parts aren’t terribly interesting.
Good Shepherd: “Captain Janeway takes three crewmen with poor performance records on an away mission in the Delta Flyer in an attempt to bring them to Starfleet standards. However, an unexpected collision with a Dark Matter comet leaves the crew in a perilous situation.”
Another show with an intriguing premise, “Shepherd” manages to explore its subject fairly well. Usually it seems that everyone in Starfleet is the best of the best, so it’s interesting to see some misfits. Too bad the program follows the predictable path in regard to their redemption.
Live Fast And Prosper: “A group of con artists impersonate Captain Janeway and the crew of Voyager. The crew must find the imposters soon, or they, themselves will be punished for the con artists' crimes.”
While many prior episodes presented promising premises but failed in their execution, “Prosper” manages to succeed in both ways. The concept of the fake crew is amusing, and I like the program’s quirky moments, such as the way the phony Tuvok buys into his role. It’s an inventive and enjoyable piece.
Muse: “An alien poet discovers an unconscious B'Elanna Torres after her crash landing in the Delta Flyer. However, this poet intends on using her in a play based on her life on Voyager to win favor with his Warlord.”
Due to its emphasis on the usually-annoying Torres, “Muse” doesn’t become a great episode. However, it overcomes a slow start to turn into something surprisingly enjoyable. It presents enough good twists to succeed.
Fury: “Kes (Jennifer Lien) returns to Voyager in a state of rage, blaming Captain Janeway for her past. Using her expanded Ocampan powers in a fit of revenge, she travels through time to deliver the crew to the Vidiians.”
When last we saw Kes, she left the ship due to her dangerously escalating mental powers. It’s interesting to see her return, especially in her pissed-off mode. The program follows a number of contortions to become an interesting show.
Life Line: “News reaches Voyager through the up-and-running Pathfinder project that the Doctor's creator, Lewis Zimmerman, is critically ill. In an attempt to save his life, the Doctor's program is transmitted to the Alpha Quadrant, but once there, he finds Zimmerman does not want to be examined by an 'obsolete' EMH program.”
Any chance that DVD Six would offer four good programs evaporated as soon as I saw Barclay on-screen at the start of this show. He doesn’t play a huge role in the show, but just a glimpse of him dooms the proceedings to a degree. At least the interplay between the Doctor and his creator provides some sparks, but they’re not enough to overcome the show’s iffier moments.
The Haunting Of Deck Twelve: “When Voyager encounters some engineering problems, Neelix keeps the Borg children entertained by telling the story of an adventure that the crew experienced several months ago, with the ghost that lives on deck twelve.”
This might have turned into a decent little ghost story, were it not for the prominent presence of the ever-irritating Neelix. His prominent role undercuts any effective moments that might occur. This renders the story tedious and without much excitement.
Unimatrix Zero, Part 1: “Seven of Nine is led to a place known as Unimatrix Zero where, unknown by the Borg Queen (Susanna Thompson), Borg Drones are individuals for a short period of time during their regeneration. However, once their regeneration is complete, all recollection of the event is erased. Captain Janeway uses this to form a plan of attack that would create a mutiny from within the collective.”
For the final Voyager cliffhanger, we return to the reliable Borg well. It definitely takes an intriguing path. The bits with Seven in the Unimatrix tend toward a little too much soap opera, but the show pursues a strong course and ends in such a way to make me eager to see its conclusion.
I thought Seasons Three and Four of Voyager marked real progress after the series got off to a slow start. Season Five demonstrated regression, as it failed to move things along successfully. Season Six bettered the prior year but it didn’t match up with the series’ best sets. It included enough strong shows to maintain my interest, though, and I look forward to the series’ conclusion in Season Seven.