Thursday, 16 February 2012

Voyager - Season One

Caretaker written by Jeri Taylor & Micheal Piller and directed by Winrich Kolbe

What’s it about: Catapulted halfway across the galaxy by an alien Caretaker looking for a compatible species to continue its work, the crew of the USS Voyager begin their journey home…

Hepburn-a-Like: Have you ever watched the scenes on the first season DVD that show Guiniveve Bujold playing Janeway? She is impossibly stiff in the role and whilst there is an element of authority in her portrayal there is none of the warmth and class that Kate Mulgrew imbued Janeway with in her best moments. I find Mulgrew (until Jeri Ryan joined in series four) one of the shows strongest assets (although around that time she will have been so inconsistently written a lot of my good grace will have worn away) and her wonderful, gravel voiced characterisation makes even the dullest episode worth tuning in for (just). The love me/love my dog conversation between Kathryn and Mark is very sweet and strengthens the feeling of loss when she is thrown across the galaxy. Janeway’s decision to destroy the array and prevent their escape back to the Alpha Quadrant is a tough one and we do see it weighing heavily on her shoulders in later episodes but it’s a shame that this life changing decision doesn’t cause a fractious relationship between her and her crew. How ironic for a character who spends seven years lecturing the Prime Directive to so blatantly disregard its rules, changing the balance of power in this entire Quadrant. Frankly the Ocampa are so deadly dull I would have left them to their fate.

Tattoo: One of the blandest characters in all of Trek, I cannot think of a single episode that centres on this character that I have enjoyed (and some of them – Unforgettable, The Fight – are truly dreadful). Chakotay crashing the Marquis ship into the Kazon ship is just about the most interesting thing has character ever does and that’s in this first episode.

EMH: The Doctor makes an instant impact and it would have been a crime to have had him replaced. Oddly it is a holographic character that enjoys the most development in Voyager and his journey (and Robert Picardo’s interpretation of it) is a joy to watch. Interesting that Janeway unthinkingly ends the EMH in front of a roomful of people. Nobody treats him as a person in his own right yet, he is just a tool.

Brilliant B’lanna: After Mulgrew Roxan Dawson is my favourite performer in this show and when she isn’t being overwritten as a moody Klingon you will see some terrific performances over the shows run. Her character trait, struggling to control her bestial nature, is a clever one that always allows us to sympathise with her. The first season saw that hand being overplayed slightly but come series two she is easily the most watchable character. It’s a shame that her dismissal of Starfleet is forgotten as soon as she is given a decent enough position (there are a few digs but nothing as consistently succinct as Quark or Garak in DS9) and that her role as a terrorist wasn’t brought up in some grittier stories. B’lanna only made it into the second year of the Academy so when (and if) they make it home her honorary title of Chief Engineer may be stripped from her (although that is a discussion for another episode…).

Parisian Rogue: Why oh why didn’t they simply call the character Nicholas Locarno since he is played by the same actor from TNG’s First Duty and is in exactly the same situation he would have been in. Legalities be damned! Perhaps Pairs and Locarno are estranged twins who both have a rebellious side! It would have been a lovely touch of continuity between the two shows. Still the idea of Janeway breaking someone out of prison to help them with their mission to capture terrorists has an edge to it that I appreciate. The trouble with this show is the characterisation of the regulars actually devolves over its seven years. Tom Paris starts out as a boyish rogue with a chip on his shoulder but it only takes a year or two before he is a neutered Starfleet good boy with virtually no edge to him. Paris doesn’t mind if a hot chick is a hologram, he’s just out for a good time. His saving of Chakotay is an interesting plot thread that isn’t really explored in any depth (beyond a bluff plotline in series two).

Mr Vulcan: Tuvok gets a great introduction as a Federation spy infiltrating the Marquis. His is another character that gets rather stuck in the mud over the years. Tuvok immediately shows his disdain for Neelix in a painfully unfunny scene involving a half eaten banquet and a bath. It’s a relationship that would plague the series until its conclusion (well the episode before its conclusion) and prove that you can’t just stick two polar opposites together and do it like Spock & McCoy and Odo & Quark.

Spotted Dick: Poor Ethan Philips. He was never world’s best actor but he deserved far more than being lumbered with a character as irritating and unloved as Neelix for seven years. To give Piller & Ryan their due they do make an attempt in Caretaker to make the character cheeky and a bit irreverent but as soon as he is accepted into the crew at the end of this episode that’s it. He becomes a Starfleet drone, his character is literally disembowelled, no edge at all just the Prime Directive in their place. Such a shame because if DS9 had proven anything, it was that there was outstanding comic potential in an alien character like Neelix. When we first meet him he is literally a scavenging rat, scampering around inside a wrecked spaceship. He seems to be assembled from all the most annoying parts of other Star Trek aliens, except the hair…that is in a style disaster league all of its own. He tricks Janeway into taking him to Kes and holds a gang of violent Kazon hostage. It would be rare for him to show such initiative in the future.

Elfin Chick: Beaten and scarred and Neelix’s girlfriend, how much suffering can one woman take?

Forever Ensign: Astonishing that in seven years Harry Kim goes nowhere. Its like the character is stuck in stasis, always an eager young nobody who wants to grow up and advance his career but never quite making it up the next step of the ladder. Paris is promoted and demoted, hooks up with B’lanna and has a kid in the time that Harry Kim gets no development whatsoever. Take his first scene and his last scene in this series and he is exactly the same person doing exactly the same things. The first scene is supposed to show Kim as an inexperienced ensign being fleeced by Quark but what I really wanted was for Kim to be left behind and for Quark to leap on board. He’s so much more fun. Is there anything more annoying than a young man desperately eager to please? A brotherly connection seems instant between Paris and Kim but (and I know I keep comparing but get used to it because there will be a lot of this!) DS9’s O’Brien and Bashir is a better written and developed friendship and is frankly a whole lot more watchable.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘Mr Kim, at ease before you strain something.’
‘It’s a fine crew and I’ve got to get them home.’

Dreadful Dialogue: ‘Do you always fly at women at warp speed, Mr Paris?’ ‘Only if they are in visual range.’ That is one bad chat up line.

The Good: A nice action packed opening but not a patch on the battle of Wolf 359 that opened DS9. Its great to see the Marquis storyline spilling out into three Star Trek shows, there is a definite feeling that they all exist within one universe each adding a little depth to the others. The station makes an appearance and the torch once again being passed between shows. Unfortunately 20 minutes into its pilot episode Voyager has its only notable development (aside from a crossover of female characters in season four) – the ship is kicked into another quadrant and the Doctor, First Officer and a random Betazoid (thank goodness, imagine if we had been stuck with another Troi?) are all murdered. So hurrah for Michael Piller for pushing the show into a gripping direction and playing about with our expectations in the pilot episode and boo hiss to Brannon Braga and Rick Berman for failing to progress the show beyond the second season. How satisfying to watch Harry Kim being skewered! I love all the tension on the bridge between Chakotay, Tuvok and Paris – this is the sort of thing DS9 thrives upon so why did Voyager fail to capitalise on it? The Ocampan underground city is impressively realised and like all Star trek premieres Voyager impresses with its sense of scale in its pilot.

The Bad: Unfortunately the first officer that Janeway already has looks like he has more balls in one episode than Chakotay managed to muster in seven years. A shame we had to do the switch. All three pilot episodes see the new crew having an encounter with a Godlike entity that changes their mission statement dramatically – whilst DS9 improved on the TNG attempt, VOY feels like it is taking a step backwards. I’m sure it has been said before but the design on Voyager looks uncannily like a toilet lid! Perhaps not the most dynamic of designs to kick start a new show with! The farmhouse sequences are certainly odd but I’m not convinced they are any more convincing than the courtroom scenes in Encounter at Farpoint. The Kazon’s look like cut price Klingons and whilst they are initially considered the new big bad of Star Trek they never really get out of their infancy (although their longing for Federation technology is a new angle worth exploring). The sequence on the staircase seems to go on forever and isn’t the most dynamic or visually appealing of set pieces.

Myth Building: The Caretakers are explorers from another galaxy and they had no idea that their technology would be so destructive to the Ocampan atmosphere. They could never repay the debt and so two of the Caretakers stayed behind to feed them energy and water. One of them is still out there somewhere…

Orchestra: I like the horror movie horns that kick in when the crew are surrounded by pitchfork wielding yokels. There’s an eerie whistling that plays over Harry and B’lanna waking up in the Ocampan laboratory.

Result: What strikes me immediately about Caretaker is the amount of promise it shows. You’ve got a strong female Captain, a crew consisting of terrorists, criminals, aliens and a holographic Doctor and the ship that is lost and alone in an unchartered area of space. Surely this is going to be the most gripping and fascinating Star Trek series yet? Caretaker boasts a huge scale and sets up its characters and the series ethos with some aplomb, only failing when it tries to tell a standard Star Trek plot of a benevolent Godlike entity dying. The first half is far more interesting than the second which peters off into some unengaging action and the introduction of a pretty disappointing new villainous species. However for its ambition and developments Voyager’s pilot should be commended and I only have one question after the creative and character building way the creators assemble this crew. What went wrong?: 8/10

Parallax written by Brannon Braga and directed by Kim Friedman

What’s it about: Our first temporal anomaly! And its written by Brannon Braga!

Hepburn-a-Like: I’m not sure if Janeway is a bit too officious to be likable as a representative for what Starfleet stands for at this point in the series. Whilst she makes some good points about the need for cohesion and loyalty on the ship she has hardly earned the right to expect it yet and without giving the Marquis members a chance to prove themselves it hardly seems fair to criticise them on past mistakes. Nice to see she got some balls (if you’ll pardon the phrase) and orders them to punch through the anomaly.

Tattoo: Chakotay chews out B’lanna for misbehaving and then informs her she will be Chief Engineer. As written this is a great scene but Robert Beltran doesn’t quite have the authority to pull it off convincingly.

Brilliant B’Elanna: I love Torres’ way of handling a difference of opinion – giving Carey a bloody nose! When she tells Janeway her problem at the Academy was a system that didn’t give her the chance to breathe I could have kissed her. Its great to see Janeway and Torres breaking ground and getting excited as they work through a mountain of technobabble together but surely there was a more exciting way to make this work than defeating an anomaly. It’s rather lovely to hear how many people supported Torres at the academy especially considering how much of a chip on her shoulder she has about it. B’Elanna is surprisingly magnanimous in her success at earning the Chief Engineer role, if it had been me who was spoken to so rudely by Carey I would have rubbed his nose in it.

EMH: He is made up of 200 memories and 47 individuals so if there’s anybody you want around in a medical crisis it’s the EMH. However his bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired. Crusher would bore you to death, Bashir will try and shag you and the EMH will insult you – great choice of Doctors! They never thought the Doctor would be around long enough to warrant a name and it takes him seven years to think of one.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘I’ll try not to break any of their noses.’

The Good: Tuvok mentions the Captain having the authority to put people on trial for misconduct which is an interesting angle to have to take when so far away from the nearest Federation court. Rumours of the Marquis being thrown in the brig and talk of mutiny…this is more like it! Talk of growing their own food and assigning crew members to certain jobs is very healthy, nice to see some thought going into their situation. There’s a fascinating conversation between Janeway and Chakotay about integrating the Marquis into the crew. The Marquis don’t have the training and haven’t earned the right to be in senior positions but they have the ability to get them out of tight spots whereas the Federation officers have worked their butts off to get where they are and might find it hard accepting orders from terrorists. Really interesting stuff and soon to be forgotten. Martha Hackett already stands out more than most of the crew as Seska. Torres tells Janeway that if she picks the wrong Voyager then they will have a long time to debate it. Imagine that? Just Janeway and Torres in a shuttlecraft exploring the Delta Quadrant! Jettisoning Chakotay, Neelix, Harry Kim and the flying toilet lid in one swoop! If only…

The Bad: Voyager doesn’t trust itself enough to give this episode over to the growing tension amongst the crew and so shoves in a technobabble strewn subplot that goes nowhere and chews up time that could be better spent exploring the characters some more. The Doctor turning into a dwarf and Harry Kim’s headaches are hardly the most gripping of side effects for the anomaly of the week. The singularity turns out to be a mirror through time – how dull. Our first encounter with another species after the pilot turns out to be…Voyager! In fact there are so many anomalies on this show I feel they should ranked so I give the mirror effect anomaly below average! B’lanna makes Chakotay’s name sound like a Chinese swear word (‘Chaakotai!’). What the hell is up with that horrible scene at the end with the midget Doctor standing on a chair? What was that all about anyway?

Result: Nice to see that the Marquis repatriation is given some consideration and it’s a relief that Parallax spends half of its running time focussing on Torres because the debut of the Voyager cliché, the temporal anomaly, is deathly dull. You’ve got a tale of two halves here that splits its time between character and technobabble with the former providing a great deal of interest (especially the Janeway/Chakotay scenes which were rarely better) and the latter nothing but painful scenes of nonsensical gobbledegook. Why Neelix and Kes make an appearance is unclear, its clearly a contractual necessity rather than a narrative one and exposes a flaw in Star trek that sees extraneous regular characters having to be shoehorned into episodes where they don’t belong. Parallax sees the show running on the spot storytelling wise but at least continues to explore its cast with some interest: 6/10

Time and Again written by David Kemper & Michael Piller and directed by Les Landau

What’s it about: Janeway and Paris travel back in time one day with the foreknowledge that a civilisation is about to fall…

Hepburn-a-Like: Janeway and Paris look like poster children for the GAP clothing store in their multi coloured clobber. Janeway gets smacked right in the face during the riot! Mulgrew tries so hard to give the material some gravity but the look and feel of the episode is working against her. When Janeway blabs out that she is a hostage potentially having the kid executed I was ready to leap in and kiss her!

Parisian Rogue: Time and Again exposes a problem with plot heavy Voyager episodes; they forget that the characters are supposed to have a personality. The most we discover about Paris in this episode is that he is trying to bed the Delaney sisters and that is in the teaser before the plot has begun. He takes a bullet for the kid which proves his character degeneration has already begun.

Forever Ensign: Would rather run a transdata diagnostic then help Paris chat up girls and doesn’t quite have the hang of exaggerating his prowess to wangle (geddit?) his way into their quarters! Its commendable that Kim is remaining faithful to his girlfriend but a little naïve that he thinks they will be getting home any time soon.

Elfin Chick: Kes suffers a terrifying telepathic vision of the planet burning. Jennifer Lien is quietly a very impressive performer and she often provides moments of striking emotion when we explore Kes’ Ocampan powers.

Dreadful Dialogue: ‘ Our own rescue attempt! That’s what sets it off!’ – not only does that episode take the most predictable path but it feels the need to explain it to us as well.

The Good: ‘So, we’re looking at the end of the war’ – that’s a much more visual description of the searing of the planet than Janeway’s technobabble.

The Bad: The first alien civilisation Voyager meets since the pilot and it’s a bunch of humans with the only concession being that on the other side of the galaxy being they all wear different coloured bright clothes! That goofy little blond kid is more annoying than Alexander, Wesley Crusher and Naomi Wildman put together. His entire purpose is to irritate and accuse Janeway. I have absolutely no idea what B’lanna is talking about in engineering when mounting a technobabble fuelled escape plan. A planets surface blasted to death by war with pockets of time that offers windows into the past when it was thriving and foreknowledge that it is about to be destroyed tomorrow. That’s a pretty strong premise for a story so why is the execution so bland? The community is completely unmemorable and no attempt is made to make us care about their fate (compare and contrast with DS9’s Children of Time which has a similar ticking clock to decide as colony’s fate). The conclusion is inevitable, of course the Voyager crew is ultimately responsible for the disaster that befalls the planet because that is exactly how these sorts of episodes resolve themselves. Janeway needs to read about some of the old TNG episodes to see how these things wind up. The end of the episode proves that the whole thing never happened as far as the crew is concerned. If only.

Orchestra: The musician wakes up as we head towards the climax with some exciting stuff as Janeway heads off to stop the terrorist attack.

Result: I can imagine a much stronger version of Time and Again that sees Janeway and Paris trapped on a war torn planet of fascists, trying desperately to avert a disaster and avoid being executed themselves. The version we get sees them dressing up in gay clothing, hiding from a scrotum-clenchingly irritating kid and chatting amiably with colourless officials. Given the premise of the show it is potentially the blandest execution imaginable. The most interesting thing on offer is Kes who displays unusual supernatural powers which give the episode at least a few moments of interest. When TNG was bad in its first season it was at least entertainingly camp and when DS9 dropped the ball it was propped up by subplots – Time and Again is the first bad episode of Voyager and it proves that at its worst this show is simply forgettable and for me that is the worst kind of bad. Time and Again flaunts a great idea but does absolutely nothing with it. Pretty much the story of this series: 2/10

Phage written by Brannon Braga, Timothy Dehaas & Skye Dent and directed by Winrich Kolbe

What’s it about: Neelix is relieved of his lungs by a disease stricken species…

Hepburn-a-Like: It seems very right for Janeway to give over her private dining room to the crew to socialise in and have their food cooked for them. Nice to see the Captain being reckless to help a member of her crew. Mulgrew aces the scene where she confronts the Vidiians, initially shocked and angry and slowly growing to understand their plight to the point of holding back tears before once again unleashing her anger. She cuts to each emotion with absolute conviction.

Spotted Dick: His speciality is making something out of nothing and our reaction mirrors Janeway’s that Neelix could think up something this innovative. Whilst he is clearly a pain in Janeway’s butt she is already showing signs of warming towards him but then I suppose that can’t be helped when he has had his lungs ripped out. For 20 minutes or so I actually found myself sympathising with Neelix for the impossible situation he has found himself in but then he starts displaying what would consume any likeability his character may have ever possessed – his jealousy of Paris and Kes. Its unusual that they chose Neelix for this episode (it was probably because they thought the audience would fall in love with him from the outset) and it won’t be the last time that he tries to commit suicide before the series is over and disappointingly fails. The sequence where he hyperventilates and suffers a claustrophobic attack is quite uncomfortable to watch because it would be easy to imagine how stifling that situation would be.

Elfin Chick: Again the best moments of character belong to Kes who forcefully steps in and demands an explanation before the Doctor performs experimental surgery on Neelix. It’s odd because I was never really convinced by Kes’ unwavering loyalty towards Neelix (even though Jennifer Lien has a damn good stab at it) and yet when she finally gets around to dumping him I didn’t like her character at all. Kes beautifully affirms the Doctor’s very first step towards independence, telling him he will have to learn like the rest of them. She bravely donates a lung for Neelix because she wants to do something for him for once. By sticking Kes and the Doctor together you have two of the strongest characters on this show working together, it’s a promising new direction for both characters.

EMH: The Doctor’s plan to create a pair of holographic lungs is pretty inspired and proves he is able to innovate as well as act as the ships medic. Neelix asks the Doctor if he is programmed to sing and he throws him a dirty look. Maybe he kept this in the back of his mind because this suggestion would lead to some of the series best (Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy) and worst (Virtuoso) moments. There is no Doctor, no nurse and no counsellor on board and the EMH is trying to cope with the job of all three. By the end of the episode you can see he is starting to assert himself and that he might have found a friend amongst the crew.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘He’s just one big hormone walking around the ship’ – whilst Neelix’s jealousy of Paris never really worked you can’t fault his summing up of his character!
‘So now I am left with the same choice you made. Whether to commit murder to save a life or to allow my own crewman to die while you breathe air through his lungs.’
‘Take a message to your people. If I ever encounter your kind again, I will do whatever is necessary to protect my people from this harvesting of yours. Any aggressive action against this ship or its crew will be met by the deadliest of force.’ – such was the intensity of Mulgrew’s performance I recoiled from the TV.

The Good: Winrich Kolbe is one of the most efficient Star Trek directors and with a scene as simple as Neelix exploring a darkened cavern he manages to provide more atmosphere and chills than anything we have seen from the series so far. Look at the sweeping camerawork as Neelix moves to Sickbay, this is the work of a gifted director. It was in this episode that I noticed what a visually appealing set Voyager’s sickbay is – it stands out because of the impressive lighting. Everything about heading into the crevice in the asteroid is a great idea from showing off Paris’ piloting expertise to the cute exchange between Janeway and Tuvok and visually it shows the series trying something a bit different. The chamber with the hundreds of Voyagers being reflected is far better than the similar scene in Parallax, looking for a needle in a haystack would be easier. The almost invisible use of Seska before she explodes into her own character arc is an astonishing amount of foresight for a series that never usually tries this sort of thing. There is a real Frankenstein’s monster feel to the Vidiian make up; their faces literally look like they have been patched together out different races.

Moment To Watch Out For: There is a startling visual when the phaser beam is reflected around the cavern.

Myth Building: A disease attacked the Vidiian over two millennia ago and has been consuming their bodies ever since. The disease adapts and resists all attempts to destroy it so these organ snatchers lure unsuspecting victims and strip them of their parts. It’s so remarkably grotesque I’m surprised a show like Voyager got away with it. Before the Phage consumed them the Vidiians were educators and explorers, a people whose greatest achievements were artistic.

Result: A huge round of applause to Voyager for creating so early in their run one of the most skin crawlingly nasty alien races any Trek show could boast. Everything about the Vidiians is well thought through from the chilling idea of them harvesting your organs to their macabre appearance (with an emphasis on cataracts, skin growths, tumours and greasy hair that is falling out – ugh!). They’re horrible and they would provide some of the best moments in the first two seasons. Phage is a very strong episode of Voyager that allows Kate Mulgrew to show us what she is made of as an actress and pleasingly gives some time over to the Doctor and Kes’ growing relationship. My one complaint would be that Neelix doesn’t make the most sympathetic of victims but there are more than enough compensations in the strong writing and atmospheric direction and even the odd special effect that left me nodding with assent. More like this please: 8/10

The Cloud written by Tom Szollosi & Michael Piller and directed by David Livingston

What’s it about: Voyager enters an anomaly. Copy and paste as many times as you like through the shows run…

Hepburn-a-Like: Janeway has always been comfortable with a distance between herself and a crew but trapped in the Delta Quadrant she is no longer allowed that luxury. Paris thinks that Captains don’t want to courtesy, they want respect. Janeway is clearly fishing for an invite to join them but rubbishy Starfleet protocol prevents either Kim or Paris from asking her. All she wants is a cup of coffee in the morning (something I can fully appreciate) and instead she gets a lecture from Neelix about setting an example to the crew and a cup of his unbelievably foul looking slop. Janeway’s flittery embarrassment at his compliments and sudden desperate leap out of the Mess Hall when she is presented with ‘better than coffee’ are two more priceless Kate Mulgrew moments. She’s really found her groove very quickly. Whilst I enjoy seeing the Captain and the First Officer discussing the well-being of the crew it’s odd that they should be whispering so publicly on the Bridge! Janeway rudely mutes the EMH on Bridge. Janeway knocks them out at the pool table in a nicely directed scene.

First Officer: Chakotay’s animal guide is a girl. His American Indian mythology has no place in Star Trek and fails to make his character any more interesting.

Spotted Dick: Neelix might not be the first person I would listen to when being hyper critical of Janeway’s decisions but his rant about her insane behaviour when faced with an anomaly does hold some weight. The first snog on the ship goes to Neelix and there is something very wrong with that! He appoints himself as morale officer aboard the ship which should be enough to convince half the crew to disembark at their next stop.

Forever Ensign: Only somebody as wet as Harry Kim could enjoy wearing an eye mask in bed because it reminds him of being inside his mothers womb! When asked if he wants a tipple at Sandrines Harry ‘the chump’ Kim asks for a cup of tea. Everything about this kid seems to be geared at reminding the audience that he is inexperienced and desperate to please. He always looks so pained every time somebody reprimands him – you want to tell him to grow a backbone, a pair of hairy ones and go and get laid.

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘There’s coffee in that nebula!’
‘Dismissed. That’s a Starfleet expression for get out.’

Dreadful Dialogue: ‘I’ve never kissed anybody inside a nebula before…’

The Good: Of all the various holosuite programmes of the year Sandrines was by far the most atmospheric and enjoyable (but then nothing could be much worse than the hideous Hawaiian one or worse…Fair Haven!). B’Elanna tried to murder her animal guide so I’m guessing she thought as much of this nonsense as I do.

The Bad: Kim and Tuvok gossiping across the Bridge probably looked like a good idea on paper but lacks humour in its realisation. The scenes of the crew trying to break through the Cloud aren’t about anything – it’s just line after line of technobabble without a single drop of charm. The scene where Tom wakes Harry up is filmed like a horror murder scene and I have no idea why. Why are they so resistant to head out on location on this show? Rather than film a short scene on a beach instead we get Janeway clearly superimposed over one.

Anomalies: Since we will be encountering so many of these beasties throughout Voyager’s run I thought it would be fun to give them their own little section in the reviews! We spent a whole episode going through an anomaly in Parallax and now we spend an entire episode trying to escape from one! Shouldn’t these babies make the crew have crazy hallucinations of something, anything to make the experience more palatable? This nebulae is a life form that they have injured in escaping and oddly it takes Neelix to question whether that it is actually a good idea to help!

Foreboding: The Doctor jokes to Torres that if he had the ability to programme himself he would raise a family. To prove that an idea is never wasted on this show (even one like ‘lets do a WWF style smack down in space!’) this was followed up in Real Life. B’lanna calls Paris a pig which is all the sign you need that these two would end up in bed together one day.

Result: As a good example of how disposable the main plot of The Cloud is I left to make a cup of tea during the climax as the ship was buffered by electricity and didn’t miss a thing. You might have the feeling of déjà vu throughout this episode because it is pretty much Parallax II – an anomaly threatens the ship as crew get to know each other a little better. Some the character work is serviceable (usually any scene featuring Janeway) but other moments see characters failing to make an impression (Harry Kim needs to die and Chakotay shouldn’t be too far behind). Overall this is about as vanilla as Star Trek comes but at least it ends on a pleasing sentiment: 5/10

Eye of the Needle written by Jeri Taylor & Bill Dial and directed by Winrich Kolbe

What’s it about: A wormhole offers hope that the crew could return home…

Hepburn-a-Like: Why is it when Janeway tries to comfort Harry Kim on the bridge it feels like a mother wiping dribble from her sons chin? It’s wonderful to see Janeway thinking outside of the box and offering the Doctor the same privileges as the rest of the crew. When she says the Doctor doesn’t have the luxury of thinking of himself as an EMH that sentiment extends to the rest of the crew. Odd to see the usually severe Janeway with flowing long hair and peach silky underwear! Watch as Mulgrew plays the scene in her quarters between Janeway and the Romulan so imploringly, its warmly played but with a touch of desperation. I have heard people dismiss Mulgrew’s performance in the past because she is a TV veteran and not a Shakespearean actor or from an impressive theatrical background but in all honesty she is one of the strongest actors in the Star Trek universe. I would happily squeeze Mulgrew into the arsenal of talent that fronts DS9 because she is far too good for a show like Voyager and I do feel they were lucky to have her. Nice to see that Mark and the dog haven’t been forgotten. Look at Janeway’s face when the Romulan is trying to transport through, its like she is willing him to materialise through a sheer strength of will.

EMH: Another step on the road to independence and with the very pleasing relationship between Kes and the Doctor growing ever more close. If I were the Doctor I would grab the nearest laser scalpel and accidentally take off one of the ears of the numbnuts who refuses to ask him a direct question. It is Kes’ firm insistence on treating the Doctor like an individual and not a hypospray that pushes him on the right path. Self aware, communicative and with the ability to learn, Kes makes some fascinating points to Janeway about the Doctor’s road to sentience. Picardo underplays the scene where Janeway offers the Doctor autonomous control of his activation and it is surprisingly touching – you can tell this is a man who has never been asked if there is anything that he wants and doesn’t quite no how to respond the offer.

Brilliant B’Elanna: She hasn’t seen her father since she was five and she thinks her mother is on the Klingon homeworld. Most of the B’Elanna’s family are the Marquis members on the ship so there is no one back in the Alpha Quadrant who is going to give a damn that she is alive.

Forever Ensign: Not content with sleeping with an eye mask because he likes to be reminded of being in his mothers womb we also learn that he also phoned home to his parents every week even when he was on training missions. I wonder what Freud would have to say about this incestuous longing from Harry? Plus it makes a lot of sense of his revelling in being the baby of the crew and molly coddled by Janeway. Harry looks like he has been punched in the gut when the possibility exists that the messages might not have made it to their families – the first moment I genuinely felt for him.

The Good: What’s this? Voyager making contact with the Alpha Quadrant so soon after they have found themselves adrift 70,000 light years away? I had forgotten that the creators had dealt with a near miss like this so early in the shows run and it is fascinating to see how the different members of the crew react to the idea of going home. Because there are a large amount of people who will be possibly imprisoned, made redundant or potentially dissected (B’lanna, Chakotay, Paris, the Doctor, Neelix), it serves to remind you of the promise this show had. Its nice to see them realising a fraction of it. The relationship between Janeway and the Romulan works because she can empathise with him – this wouldn’t have worked with Picard or Sisko. So many interesting questions are thrown in the air when the clever twist that the Romulan is from the past is revealed. Could they live out their lives for 20 years in the past before catching up with their lives? Would they be able to resist telling themselves of future events? Would the Romulans exploit this information about the future? What would happen to the Ocampans if the Federation is warned and Voyager was never thrown into the Delta Quadrant? Its not often a twist in this show would leave open so many fascinating possibilities. Despite the fact that the reset button is switched the show manages to advance by having the messages relayed to the crew’s families and a rare bond made between the Federation and the Romulans.

The Bad: Spinach juice with a touch of pear? Bleugh!

Moment To Watch Out For: The little kiss that Kes gives the Doctor when he tells her that he will be left behind when they transport to the Alpha Quadrant. A small but beautiful moment.

Anomaly of the Week: Apparently they are scanning constantly for anomalies to help them get home…but I think it’s just an excuse to plough the ship through them and see what chaos ensues. Paris suggests they officially name this anomaly the ‘Harry Kim Wormhole!’ to which our unlovable chump looks desperately proud.

Foreboding: I love the idea of an empty ship with only the Doctor left on board the ship and it would be actualised in the episodes One and Renaissance Man.

Result: It’s a good thing that the character work in this story is so strong because there is a mountain of technobabble to climb before you can reach the devastating conclusion. The fury of hope that is brewed with the possibility of returning home is extended to the viewer as is the sense of disappointment when the reality of the situation drives home. Its rare for Voyager to allow us this close to its regulars feelings and it is a potent and rare reminder of the extremes of their situation. The subplot of the Doctor’s growing independence continues to be the strongest running thread of the season and Robert Picardo has tapped into a rich seam of poignancy. Eye of the Needle is structured to offer the crew hope before delivering them a massive knife blow to the belly (and when they think that something good might have come from all this that is snatched away from them as well) and capture our sympathies and thanks to some strong writing and performances it works a treat. I was completely absorbed by this compelling drama and had it not been for the wealth of incomprehensible technobabble it may have scored full marks: 9/10

Ex Post Facto written by Evan Carlos Somers & Michael Piller and directed by Levar Burton

What’s it about: Paris is wrongfully accused of murder and forced to live out the crime from the point of view of the victim…

Parisian Rogue: Somehow this is an entire episode about Tom Paris where we don’t learn a single thing about his character except that he has an eye for the ladies which we discovered back in Caretaker. This episode also highlights that Robert Duncan McNeil isn’t an especially strong performer on the show. He cannot pull off sexy (its really cheesy) and he gurns ridiculously when trying to show he is in pain. Paris tells Tuvok that they are now friends but aside from one episode I don’t think they ever really talk again in seven seasons!

Forever Ensign: Naturally as soon as pretty lady is introduced Harry Kim doesn’t get a look in, he’s simply too dull for women to notice.

EMH: They really aren’t letting the audience forget about this thread running through the season and it is refreshing. The Doctor never even considered that he had a life let alone choose a name that would label him throughout it. He suggests it is impossible for a hologram to decide things autonomously of its programme.

Mr Vulcan: We learn that Tuvok is married and has been so for 67 years but he is so utterly dispassionate you never would have realised until he admitted it. I don’t know why mind melds are ever allowed to take place…they cause nothing but trouble! As he assembles all the suspects together we learn one thing about Tuvok – he’s no Hercule Poirot.

The Good: Ex Post Facto sports a fantastic premise at its heart, the idea that a punishment has been created wherein you will live out the crime you have committed through the victims eyes. If only the same amount of imagination could have been injected into the dialogue and plotting but the idea should still stand proud.

The Bad: So far we have met two humanoid races that exist on the other side of the galaxy – why is this show so unimaginative when it comes to exploring something a little more alien? Do we really need more humanoid species in Star Trek with desks and houses and dogs? Say what you will about Star Trek Enterprise (and I would happily say plenty that would rip it to shreds) at least they tried to explore some fresh new types of alien (especially in their strongest year - the Xindi season). What is up with that dog anyway…its like a hideous little rat! We find out ten minutes into the episode that ‘we are at war after all’ but there is absolutely no indication of that whatsoever in the atmosphere of this planet (even the matte painting, which looks oddly similar to Klystron from the last episode I watched – DS9’s Dax - shows a perfectly intact, pristine cityscape). The chemistry between the Ren and Nidell is non existent and makes for some awkward and unconvincing dinner scenes. Harry Kim was apparently interrogated for two days straight but there is no sign of a bruise or scars (compare to Kira’s interrogation in The Circle where we see her bloody and battered face). Ren makes for possibly the least effective femme fatale I have ever seen on television simply because she is trying far too hard to be a femme fatale! This sort of thing should just come naturally. I guess you could say because all the scenes featuring her are from recounts from Paris and Kim’s POV and that was how they imagined her to be…but that throws up an even bigger problem for this episode. With no attempts to differentiate between Paris and Kim’s versions of the story a huge opportunity is missed in the what could have been an intriguing use of the unreliable narrator. This is the second episode in a row where Chakotay contributes very little and turns up in a token scene. In sharp contrast with the powerful character twists that brought the episode Dax to a conclusion, Ex Post Facto ends with Tuvok pulling out the dullest plot mechanics possible (Paris is too short, the killer knew about Banean anatomy, secret data being passed to the enemy). I can’t believe they used the dog as a witness…

Teaser-tastic: A well directed but dreadfully performed teaser – take your pick which you would prefer. To see a director utilising atmospheric black and white photography is lovely and the POV shots make for a much more interesting angle than the usual point and shot execution of some Star Trek episodes. Unfortunately we see it three times throughout the episode which rather blunts its impact.

Result: With flashes of lightning, black and white photography, first person narration and a femme fatale, Ex Post Facto is trying desperately to revel in the genre of film noir. Unfortunately DS9’s Necessary Evil points and laughs at its attempts and masters the genre in a way that this episode merely flirts inadequately with it. Voyager splits its first season into episodes that deal with the ongoing story of the ships crew adapting to life in the Delta Quadrant and standard Star Trek plot devices and this is a particularly dreary example of the latter. Can you guess which of these formats will take centre stage as the series continues? Ex Post Facto is pleasantly directed by Levar Burton but he is merely dressing up an undemanding script and suggesting a level sophistication that simply isn’t present. Because there is a distinct lack of character development this is a plot heavy yawnathon that has very little fall back on when the plot fails to engage: 3/10

Emanations written by Brannon Braga and directed by David Livingston

What’s it about: Voyager encounters a race who believe they can force themselves into the afterlife…

Hepburn-a-Like: ‘Chakotay and Lieutenant Torres are aboard…but there’s no sign of Ensign Kim!’ informs Seska. Janeway goes down in my estimation when she has the perfect opportunity to say ‘quick lets get out of here before they bring him back!’ Red Dwarf style!

Forever Ensign: Kim is still wet behind the ears and thanks Chakotay for the opportunity to be able to speak his mind on the away mission. I really want to say something nice about this guy but he’s such a jobsworth he makes it difficult. Is it true (correct me if I’m wrong) that when considering a shake up in the series at the beginning of series four that both Kes and Kim were in the running for an axing but they kept Kim because he was in the top 50 of a ‘best looking guys on TV’ competition? Imagine a show fronted by four women as strong as Janeway, Kes, B’lanna and Seven? Imagine a show without Harry Kim? Makes you feel warm inside, doesn’t it? This episode deserves points for having the audacity and common sense to flirt with the idea of Kim’s death. It wont be the last time! You have to feel sorry for this species – Harry is their first glimpse into what lies beyond death. Personally I’d stop looking. He’s so frustrating a character – this was a great opportunity to get inside his head but if Emanations proves anything its that there is nothing there. When questioned he says it is not his place to judge and he has no opinion of what comes after this life – surely he cannot be as vacuous as he appears? The most we see of an opinion is his disrespectful criticisms for the guy who at least has the strength of his beliefs to see through his death. I have far more respect for that guy for his strength of will. Kim coming over claustrophobic in the coffin probably shouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is. The lad is ready to head back to the Bridge like a good puppy at the end of the episode and it takes Janeway to remind him that he has been dead and he might want to ponder on that for a day or two. What a chump.

The Good: Harry Kim knocking frantically from inside the coffin as they perform a funeral is one of the best scenes yet. Imagine waking up in the ‘afterlife’ to discover Janeway and the Doctor staring down at you like that – another quality moment. Destroying a whole faith and proving that the moment that you have geared your entire life towards is nothing but a lingering death decomposing on an asteroid – Voyager has rarely had a harder days work cut out for them. There’s a moment when one of the alien characters discusses with Harry that there are people who are depressed and unhappy who are eager to die and move onto the next life which really touched a nerve because I have met devoutly religious people who have said something as similarly terrifying as that. The creators really took their time with Seska and she turns up again here in a minor role to show her presence before later developments.

The Bad: Is it a bad sign that a show is this predictable? As soon as Chakotay asks Harry Kim to join them on the away mission you know the episode is going to be about him. Have they taken the rings of the moon directly from the title sequence? Can I take a moment to remind these people that they are trapped on the other side of the galaxy without friends or protection? They discover a new element emanating from the bodies of the dead and Chakotay wants to leave them in peace and Harry wants to take this opportunity for an anthropological study of an alien race – am I the only person who thinks they should still harvest the element from these corpses. Surely anything that would give them an advantage in the Delta Quadrant should be taken advantage of? Oh my gosh…am I Seska? Hang on…another humanoid species with a faith system similar to our own? Why not just call the Delta Quadrant the Alpha Quadrant and be done with it!

Moment To Watch Out For: Harry Kim looking thoughtful at the end of the episode, probably struggling to find a thought in that empty skull of his.

Teaser-tastic: Discovering a bunch of mummified corpses in a cave is well handled although the lingering reaction shots shot have been tighter close ups.

Result: With its discussions of faith and belief and scenes of bodies appearing decomposed on Voyager, Emanations is a more thoughtful than usual episode that marries intelligent discussion with some strong imagery. Unfortunately it is also an episode of missed opportunities since it fails to explore the beliefs of any of the crew (besides some duller than usual Chakotay respect for the dead) and focuses solely on the alien culture of the week. Its so frustrating that such a powerful subject matter kept at arms length from the regulars characters because I’m sure Janeway, B’lanna and even Neelix would have some interesting things to say on their religious beliefs. I do admire the writers for taking on such controversial subject matter but shake my head in despair that they aren’t willing to have the guts to explore its potential. Harry Kim almost gets left behind and almost dies – two reasons to get excited but ultimately disappointed. Oddly Voyager has no impact whatsoever on this civilisation and this civilisation has no impact on Voyager which kind of makes me wonder what the point of the episode was: 5/10

Prime Factors written by Michael Perricone & Greg Elliot and directed by Les Landau

What’s it about: Voyager is tempted to a planet that could half their journey home…

Hepburn-a-Like: Fantastic to see Janeway letting her hair down, getting into civvies and losing all track of time as she flirts outrageously with Labin. Its also nice to see Janeway on the other side of the argument when it comes to sharing technologies and for an episode to highlight the deficiencies in her decision to run the ship by Starfleet rules of conduct. When Seska suggests that Janeway’s obsession with the prime directive is hampering their chance to return home you cannot help but agree with her. When she agonises over whether her principles are enough to offer the crew to prove it was worth denying them access home I was thinking it didn’t make much of a difference the first time she was in this dilemma. The Captain’s restrained anger in the last scene is absolutely terrifying and she utters the words that are far more damaging than any insult – disappointment.

Forever Ensign: Harry Kim takes one of the Delaney sisters to Venice and falls into one of the canals. Not only a chump but also unfaithful to his girlfriend by acting like a twat. Nice. This series seems to forget its own character continuity on an episode by episode basis – wasn’t Kim just telling Paris a few episodes back that he was planning on staying faithful to his girlfriend? First chance he gets he heads off to another planet with a young Sakarian to a darkened forest to spend some time alone. Of all the characters they could have chosen to make a subversive deal with they choose Harry ‘I have a copy of the Prime Directive instead of a heart’ Kim.

Brilliant B’Elanna: Just two episodes back B’Elanna said that she had nothing to return to and that her family was the Marquis members on Voyager and now she is adamant that she wants to acquire this technology and make it back home. Do these writers confer at all? Its not surprising but it still feels very brave to have B’Elanna defy her orders so bold facedly in this episode and she clearly has a lot of explaining to do.

Mr Vulcan: When you think Tuvok has turned up to slap Seska’s wrist the episode fires its biggest surprise by revealing that he is the one to commit the covert exchange.

Sneaky Seska: More than just a random transporter operator now, Seska actively manipulates B’lanna into theorising on how the folding space technology works. There is every indication of her eventual defection in this episode where she openly talks about defying the ‘infatuated’ Janeway and taking the technology without permission. Seska might be morally bankrupt but she is far more attention-grabbing than rulebound dullards like Kim. As soon as they have gambled with the ship and almost destroy it Seska rather wonderfully tries to start covering up their involvement. She looks at Torres who will happily take the blame for what she has tried to do as though she is a stranger.

The Good: How lovely to meet a race who exist simply to be nice to people! The atmospheric sensor that sounds like a musical instrument should have been taken aboard Voyager – what a great invention! Folding space is an intriguing concept and offers hope once again to the crew of Voyager who could make it home with two hops across space. Given what comes later with Janeway refusing to share her technology with the residents of the Delta Quadrant because they might abuse it is fascinating to see her being told the same thing about a technology that could aid their journey home. The discussion of the prime directive and its limitations in the board room is vital – a sharing of strong opinions that really brings the show alive. Its all but forgotten from season three onwards. Chakotay mentions how many times the prime directive has been ignored in the past when people have felt strongly enough about it, Kim (naturally) thinks it’s a fabulous set of rules and Janeway ponders how cruel it is to be on the other side of the fence being refused because another culture has its own set of rules. A really interesting scene. I like all the grumblings below decks in Engineering where the Marquis and Federation officers can finally all agree on something – ignoring their orders and trying to figure out how to create the technology for themselves. The idea of the Voyager being the latest novelty for creating pleasure is another superb concept.

The Bad: Okay I will stop complaining about this soon but the Sikarians are not only humanoid but they are also human! The one feature to suggest that this is an alien race is some string in their hair. I was all ready to praise the director for the atmospheric windy forest glad sequence when I was struck with another terrible location backdrop with actors superimposed over it. The budget seriously wouldn’t have stretched to ten seconds of location footage? By offering the Sikarians stories for their technology, Janeway is still ignoring the Prime Directive and its rules of non interference. Stories are full of morals, ideas, concepts – by offering them a library of tales that range from subversive to suggestive you could alter their world considerably. Knowledge is the ultimate corrupter.

Moment to Watch Out For: How Tuvok’s insane decision is actually written in such a way that makes it understandable. ‘My logic was not in error but I was’ indeed.

Teaser-tastic: ‘We’re sending out a distress call’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because you are in distress!’ Not only unengaging but nonsensical!

Result: Its just shy of being the best written episode of the season but Prime Factors is by far the most interesting when it concerns the crews desire to return home. What starts off as bog standard shore leave soon becomes something much more involving – a moral dilemma for both Janeway and her crew that exposes just how engrossing these characters can be when denied something they want so badly. With real dissention in the ranks, strong opinions being fired publicly, the Seska subplot starting to emerge, a chance for Janeway to question herself and a stunning and surprising conclusion, I was very surprised at how much mileage this episode drove out of its relatively simple concept. They surely cannot have a carrot dangled in front of their faces every few episode otherwise Voyager will soon become extremely predictable but for the time being at least these gulps of hope that cause fractures in the crew are by far the most compelling episodes the show has to offer. Mulgrew is phenomenal in the last scene: 9/10

State of Flux written by Chris Abbott and directed by Robert Scheerer

What’s it about: Somebody has handed Federation technology to the Kazon and all fingers point to Seska…

Hepburn-a-Like: Janeway is deeply disturbed by the thought that somebody could have handed technology to the Kazon. Nice to see she is as strong as the rest of our flagship captains when it comes to intimidating the enemy. She doesn’t like threats, she doesn’t like bullies and she doesn’t like Cullah. And if he stands in her way she will respond with all the ‘unique technologies’ at her disposal. When Seska criticises Janeway’s techniques at the end I found myself nodding in agreement throughout the whole speech.

Tattoo: The first Chakotay episode and annoyingly its rather good but only because its nice to see he is every bit the gullible monkey I always thought him to be. Whilst it would go on to provide some good moments coming up it is pointless revealing that Seska and Chakotay have been lovers for some time where there has been no sign of that in the slightest. To drop that revelation into the episode where she betrays him means the twist really doesn’t have any impact. Only Chakotay could be so unbelievably dull to consider looting a few supplies to make mushroom soup a criminal conspiracy! How he ever made it as a Marquis terrorist is beyond me, he’s far too square to think outside the box. And when he has a hungry, horny Bajoran woman offering herself on a plate he is as stiff as a post (and not where it counts!). Chakotay’s refusal to believe that Seska had anything to do with this makes him look remarkably stupid. Even if it wasn’t glaringly obvious he should at least be suspicious of everybody and not just those he doesn’t have feelings for.

Slimy Seska: I love Seska. I think she should have deposed Janeway in a Marquis rebellion in series two and taken control of the ship. She would have thrown Neelix in the Brig and had him randomly tortured, put a collar on Chakotay and dragged him around the corridors like a dog and spent every episode insulting Harry Kim until he cried like a baby. Frankly whilst everybody else treats her like a criminal she is the only person on this godamn ship that seems real to me. For a start she has an opinion and she acts on it, she manipulates those around her into getting her own way and she happily slags off the ridiculously outdated (at least in the Delta Quadrant) values of the Federation. She’s basically the Quark of Voyager, not quite as amusing but just as insightful. And whereas the DS9 crew utilise and admire Quark (whilst insulting him of course) Seska is made to feel like an outsider because she has a mind of her own. The fact that she has hoodwinked Chakotay so completely and hidden her secret identity for so long makes me admire her even more! Like all good femme fatales she knows how to lay on the sympathy when suspicion is pointed at her and Martha Hackett really goes for it as Seska tells a story about a terrible disease and a compassionate Cardassian donor. Even when she is exposed Seska still manages to outsmart Chakotay and Tuvok by having an escape plan on standby. Seska shows up this bunch of monkeys for the chumps they are. She’ll be back and I can’t wait.

Spotted Dick: Rather wonderfully Neelix explains to Carey what would happen if he bit into the fruit found and oddly finishes his list of ailments by pointing at his penis! His comment that humans aren’t used to roughing it is valid and they better get used to it because its Leola root stew from now on! Bleaugh! Bloodworm tartare! Ugh!

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘You were working for her, Seska was working for them…was anyone on that ship working for me?’ – Chakotay realises that everybody has been treating him like a mug.
‘We are alone here at the mercy of any number of hostile aliens because of the incomprehensible decision of a Federation Captain. A Federation Captain who destroyed our only chance to get home. Federation rules, Federation nobility, Federation compassion! Do you understand if this had been a Cardassian ship we would be home now! We must begin to forge alliances, to survive we must have powerful friends! You’re a fool Captain. And you’re a fool to follow her’ – the best scene of the season.

The Good: I would much rather see a food fight between Seska and Neelix broken up by Tuvok and Kes than visit Chakotay in his quarters! What a macabre image the Kazon melted into the walls and floor are. Credit where it is due, the idea of a member of the crew working against their best interest and defying protocol is an extremely strong one that sees the writers thinking of ways to make the series more exciting. I love the paranoia that brews up on the ship surrounding who could be the traitor, rumours see everybody pointing the finger. When Carey is pulled in for questioning it starts to feel like something of a witch hunt and the very interesting questions arises that when a Federation and Marquis are both in line for the blame for the same crime who is the more obvious candidate? Great to see that something as mundane (at least to the Federation) as a food replicator causing such problems and wiping out an entire Kazon crew. Seska pointing the finger at herself to frame Carey is a moment of genius on her part.

The Bad: Unfortunately Seska is the obvious culprit given her behaviour in the last episode, her naked anti-Federation views plus the fact that she doesn’t get an onscreen credit in the titles proves she is expendable. Whilst I am pleased that she is to become such a fabulously insidious villainess in the next season imagine how much of a surprise it would have been had Carey been responsible? The design of the Kazon ships lacks menace – they look like cumbersome children’s toys and their make up is very similar to the Klingons with only added big eighties hair to make them standout! How bad is Tuvok at his job to allow Seska to meet with the Kazon, to beam over to the ship to destroy the console, to fake evidence and to get away at the end. At least he looks embarrassed by it at the end.

Moment to Watch For: Its great that this episode doesn’t rely on the reveal of Seska being a double agent (which is painfully obvious) and instead has a back up revelation that she is a Cardassian and was a spy infiltrating the Marquis which is far more interesting. And unexpected.

Teaser-tastic: Two things struck me straight away in the teaser. Firstly actual location work! No more of this superimposing people over fuzzy backdrops but a chance to get out in the fresh air and show some scale. Astonishing to think that we haven’t been outside since Time and Again. Secondly the Kazon make a welcome return if only to suggest that this series is going to have some kind of running continuity. They are still not the most thrilling of aliens but I appreciate the gesture.

Myth Building: The Kazon Nistrome sect is one of the most violent and deceptive.

Foreboding: You see I told you an idea never gets wasted on this show! Tuvok’s suggestion of another Starship winding up in the Delta Quadrant is picked up again at the end of season five when Voyager hooks up with the (frankly far more interesting) Equinox crew.

Result: I don’t want to beat around the bush but at this stage of the game in their individual runs Voyager has (by far) the most gripping running storyline. It wont even last to the end of the season when DS9 will pick its feet up and start sprinting ahead and never look back but it is worth mentioning because this show is often maligned (especially by me) but some of these early episodes really do exploit the drama of the idea at the heart of this series. With Prime Factors and State of Flux you have two back to back episodes that stir up the situation in the Delta Quadrant very nicely and expose that things aren’t quite as rosy below decks as Janeway would have us believe. The first half an hour throws all the accusations into the air before the brilliant last fifteen minutes sees Seska trying her damdest to prove that she is innocent. Chakotay might lose face (hardly a surprise) but Voyager gains a fantastic new villainess. Extremely well written: 9/10

Heroes and Demons written by Naren Shankar and directed by Les Landau

What’s it about: The Doctor has his first experience outside of sickbay…

Hepburn-a-Like: My respect for this woman is starting nosedive. When told that Harry Kim is not aboard the ship her first command should be to get as far away from where they are as possible not to start a ship wide search! Nice that Janeway tries to spin that this is the Doctor’s first away mission when she needs something from him (when a few episodes back she had to be convinced that he had any rights whatsoever). There’s something pretty hot about the way Janeway gets excited about technobabble, don’t you think?

EMH: The first time the Doctor is forced to do something that is unfamiliar to him and he is naturally quite anxious (which in itself is a fresh emotion). Robert Picardo underplays the moment when the Doctor first touches bark and smells fresh air and it is all the more stirring. The Doctor’s amazing stories of his prowess (basically some pretty dull medical successes) whilst waving around the largest leg of meat I have ever seen made me chortle quite a bit. Its lovely to see the Doctor out of sickbay and having some fun and the writers should have found a way for him to leave sickbay long before they did. Whilst Kes has always shown a daughterly affection for the Doctor this is the first time somebody has outright flirted with him – and one of his own kind too!

Forever Ensign: Beowulf? Really Harry? Bashir dreams up a programme of being a jet setting babe magnet but our Mr Kim is perfectly happy to play hero of the savages. Even Janeway looks let down by his lack of imagination when Chakotay informs her of his holoprogramme.

The Good: For the second time this year Voyager flirts with the appealing idea of Harry being dead (although by only flirting with it we are always ultimately frustrated). That is one of the best forests Star Trek has produced within a studio, it is atmospherically moonlit, has sheets of mist and feels as though it is crawling with insects. Marjorie Monahan gives a hearty performance as Freya who would fit in just fine with the kick ass women on Voyager!

The Bad: ‘I’m not willing to except that Harry and the others are dead!’ comes from the mouth of bad boy Tom Paris and it feels remarkably out of character. I thought Paris and Chakotay hated each other (well they did in the pilot but we haven’t seen one sign of it since) and you would think he would be happy to hear that he is gone! Unferth has absolutely no purpose but to stand in the Doctor’s way, he’s a mere plot function rather than a character.

Moment to Watch Out For: Robert Picardo’s very sweet performance when Freya dies.

Teaser-tastic: Harry Kim has gone missing – yay!

Anomaly of the Week: You see, no good ever comes of exploring, beaming or even approaching these anomalies! This week a handful of photonic matter is playing havoc with the holodecks!

Orchestra: There is a pleasingly rousing score when the peasants start egging the Doctor on and he basks in his popularity.

Result: Twelve episodes is all it took for Voyager to pull out the holodeck gone awry cliché. I don’t know what to make of this episode because there was nothing offensively bad about it but aside from a few moments of depth from Robert Picardo it is completely unmemorable. Maybe the success or failiure of the holodeck episodes is a matter of personal taste because I have no interest in the period or mythology of Beowulf (odd because I don’t care for James Bond either and Our Man Bashir rocks) and as such my interest was waning from the beginning. It doesn’t help that we see the same events told twice, there is a dull technobabble subplot and the episode resorts to lousy gimmicks such as the Doctor losing his arm. To its credit there are some lovely sets, the musical score is more apparent than usual and it is fun to see the Doctor out and about having fun but these are aesthetic touches to an episode that lacks any kind of interest at its heart: 5/10

Cathexis written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky and directed by Kim Friedman

What’s it about: Chakotay is pronounced brain dead…

Hepburn-a-Like: Clearly uptight Janeway likes a bit of mystery and romance in her life if her holodeck programme is anything to go by.

Tattoo: Interesting that an episode that puts Chakotay centre stage has more to say about his friends who care deeply about him, especially B’lanna who clearly paid more attention to his dull spiritual mumbo jumbo than he ever thought.

Elfin Alien: Kes’ telepathic sensations are getting stronger, she can sense Chakotay floating around the ship.

Dreadful Dialogue: ‘Captain its possible that something came back in the shuttlecraft with us’ – it took you twenty minutes of the episode to realise that?
‘Stun ‘er! She’s the alien!’ is a Tuvok line!
‘I don’t know…unless there are two aliens…’ – the intelligence of this crew is painful at times!
‘We’re hoping the Doctor will be able to successfully reintegrate Commander Chakotay’s consciousness…’ – if ever there was an argument against daft Star Trek endings that skip over logic and satisfaction simply to able to fly off to the next destination this would be a strong contender. Until Threshold comes along.

The Good: Carolyn Seymour is a fantastic actress and was worth a much stronger recurring role than a bit part holodeck character. One thing I did take from this episode was the inclusion of Durst who is going to have his face ripped off in the next piece – Star Trek has so many faceless character walking about it is easy to slip people in unnoticed before they become important (Seska is another good example, as is Neela from DS9’s Duet and In the Hands of the Prophets or Muniz in ‘Starship Down’ woo would go on to be killed in ‘The Ship’).

The Bad: Didn’t Voyager have its energy supplies depleted a few episodes back? Not only should they not be running the holodecks to conserve power but Janeway should lead by example by going without. The Ms Davenport in a spooky English mansion plot is (in my eyes) the third weakest of the series (I’m still dreading the day when I have to step into Fair Haven again! Begorah!) and it seems very wrong that they should spend such a large amount of money on the sets for these throwaway scenes when the alien cultures we have visited so far haven’t had half this attention lavished upon them. Seems like they have their priorities right somehow to focus all their energies on frivolities because that is all the show has to offer in later years. Oddly they start a narrative thread within the holodeck programme (‘Never go up to the fourth floor…’) which is never picked up again. I find it a little odd that Zimmerman programmed the Doctor with psycho-spiritual beliefs as an addition to all his strict medical facts. After both Tom Paris and B’lanna have been possessed to stop the ship from entering the nebula you might think that somebody would put two and two together and figure this is not a good idea. Cathexis tries to play out the Invasion of the Body Snatchers ‘who can we trust?’ atmosphere but its lost in an episode this forced (see DS9’s The Adversary for how this sort of thing should be done). What could have been a fun scene on the Bridge when the ‘alien’ pops from person to person to try and kill Tuvok is hampered by some stiff direction that lacks fluidity – it literally feels like lots of different scenes filmed and chopped together. Tuvok is such an unbelievably stiff character that when he is under the influence of an alien intelligence you cannot perceive any shift in Tim Russ’ performance whatsoever. Why is it when people are taken over by Chakotay that they suddenly have terribly robotic movements…unless this is a comment in his character? How on Earth does Chakotay think that by rearranging the stones on his medicine wheel that the crew would understand that that is a pointer to the cluster of stars they need to visit? Of course they do because this episode is so dreadfully strung together by unconvincing co-incidences.

Moment to Watch Out For: The very cool moment when Tuvok stuns everybody on the Bridge at once with his phaser!

Anomaly of the Week: They’re at it again! Tuvok and Chakotay discover a dark matter nebula but instead of going around the thing they start scanning away and all hell ensues!

Teaser-tastic: After Harry Kim’s near death last week and Chakotay brain-dead this week it’s a terrible tease to suggest we might be saying sayonara to Voyagers dullest characters only to pull back and have them okay again by the episodes conclusion.

Result: Technobabble City! Basically all of the characters spout scientific nonsense as though it is the most exquisite Shakespearean dialogue whilst a ghostly spectre floats around the ship. Worse Chakotay’s duller than a lecture on plumbing native American spiritual returns and bores me even more senseless. When the strongest moment in the entire episode comes from Neelix conspiratorially pointing the finger at every person who is acting even mildly out of character on the ship then you know you are in deep do-doos. Cathexis is powered by the most unconvincing of twists and incredible co-incidences which are only matched by the awesome stupidity of the crew who cannot figure out the simplest of plot markers! Chakotay makes a far more interesting mute disembodied spirit than a Starfleet Commander, maybe should have left him floating around the ship for the next seven seasons because I really don’t think we could tell the difference: 2/10

Faces written by Kenneth Biller and directed by Winrich Kolbe

What’s it about: The Vidiians capture B’lanna and split her into two people; half Klingon and half human…

Brilliant B’Elanna: Its only when you see B’Elanna in full Klingon make up that you realise just how feminine and pretty darn sexy she is normally. I can see what Roxan Dawson is trying to do with the Klingon character but the butch and monotonous way she spits out the dialogue lacks conviction at first…it takes a few scenes for her to settle down. Far more intriguing is to see the human half of B’Elanna and not only because we get to enjoy Dawson out of make up (she is gorgeous). As the human B’Elanna Dawson is meek and nervous and lacking in confidence and you see just how much punch she gives the character usually. To have an episode that really drives home the conflicting sides of Torres’ race was a fantastic idea because it was a character thread the writers could exploit many times (right up until Lineage which is by far one of the highlights of season seven) and to have a regular with real insecurities is a massive plus. You sympathise with her far more than you ever do with somebody like Kim or Chakotay. Even when Seven of Nine came along and stole the limelight Torres was by far my favourite character on Voyager. She is trapped between feeling pride at her Klingon heritage and considering it a mutilation. When she was a child she did everything she could to disguise her forehead because her mother and her where the only Klingons where she grew up. Nobody ever said anything but they were different and her father left when she was five years old. She cried herself to sleep every night for a month – she decided he left because she looked like a Klingon. Its fascinating that is both cases B’Elanna shows amazing strength of character – as a Klingon she has surprising restraint in trying to manipulate Sulan and as a human she reveals some incredible bravery despite her fear. The scene where the two B’Elanna’s come face to face gave me goosebumps, it is a very important scene for both of them to see how much they need the other to be B’lanna. To be able to shout at her Klingon side and say her temper has gotten her in trouble so many times is very good therapy. As a human she is more at peace with herself than she has ever been and it’s a good feeling but she feels incomplete without her Klingon rage coursing through her. She needs to accept that she will have to spend the rest of her life fighting with herself.

Spotted Dick: It is so sweet to think of Neelix having a blast learning to make the native dishes of the entire crew but deciding to pep it up a bit when they are too bland! Its a very funny scene because the humour derives naturally from the characters with Tuvok initially thankful but then hyper critical because a time honoured recipe has been changed and Neelix desperately wanting to give people a touch of home but cannot help but put his own stamp on things. It would be lovely if the Neelix/Tuvok relationship was always this well written.

The Good: By having Brian Markinson play both Sulan and Durst all you need to do is adjust his makeup slightly to switch from one character to the other. He gives a strong performance as both characters. The Vidiians are back and as memorably grotesque as ever and we get to see the extent of their surgical skill, splitting B’Elanna into two distinct individuals. Its lovely that this blistered and scarred race wasn’t just included because the writers wanted to bring them back, there is an actual reason for their appearance and why they have kidnapped B’Elanna (they believe Klingons might be immune to the phage). The thought of the Vidiians keeping their prisoners in pens until they can be experimented on in organ processing is spine tingling. How nice to see another Talaxian. Durst is such a wonderful Frankenstein-esque character who is fully aware of hoe hideous he is but has feelings all the same. Rather than dress him as some mad villain the episode takes the much more interesting path of allowing us to sympathise with him. Even in the horrific sequence when he reveals his human face you understand why he did even if at the same time it is disgusting – its nice to feel conflicted over a moment that is so powerful.

The Bad: How is it that Doctors in the future are able to radically change your appearance so you are a different species with a head twice the size? We’ll see Kira as a Cardassian, Dax as a Bajoran (actually that one isn’t much of a stretch), Sisko, O’Brien and Odo as Klingons…and here Chakotay is a Vidiian with a big gross bloated head! It seems such a stretch that you can effortlessly change somebody’s face to such a degree and than put you all back together again afterwards with no perceivable differences. This all becomes something of a moot point when Janeway and Paris become a pair of copulating lizards in a later episode and the Doctor simply manages to evolve them back into human beings again! Chakotay’s looks are the one amiable thing about him.

Moment to Watch Out For: You would think that by their very nature that the Vidiians couldn’t get any creepier but Sulan lusting after the Klingon B’Elanna is truly frightening and his attempts to impress her by ripping off Durst’s face and grafting it onto his own is one of the most effective shocks Star Trek has ever offered. Its skin crawlingly horrible and re-affirms this race as the one to watch in this show.

Orchestra: The score really stresses the horror of the moment when Durst’s face has been slapped on top of Sulan’s.

Foreboding: There is a very gentle moment between Torres and Paris that suggests that there might be potential in this pairing.

Result: Three things give this episode a bunk up straight away; it’s a B’Elanna episode and those are usually always fairly decent, the Vidiians are back and they are by far Voyagers most successful alien race and there isn’t an anomaly to be seen which is a minor miracle for this show. Its great to have the Vidiians back and that there is something this ghoulish in the Delta Quadrant that makes the crew run away terrified when they see them. It’s a refreshing sense of danger that has been lacking in the show. Faces is an awesomely designed and lit story that has more mood in some scenes than entire seasons later on, the director has really gone for the gothic horror in space feel at it so refreshing to watch an episode that has lashes of atmosphere. Roxan Dawson is such a noteworthy performer and she gives the two halves of her personality very distinct personalities which are both just a breath away from the B’Elanna we recognise. There are a few skips in logic that hold the episode back but overall this is a memorably scary and thoughtful character piece: 8/10

Jetrel written by Jack Klein, Karen Klein & Kenneth Biller and directed by Kim Friedman

What’s it about: Neelix comes face to face with his worst nightmare…

Hepburn-a-Like: Not only is Kate Mulgrew generous enough to step back completely and let Ethan Philips take the limelight but she shows some amazing emotional restraint during her scenes with him. As they discuss the death of his family, she listen to his tales on the Bridge of the day the cloud rose and they discuss the variables involved in what Jetrel is trying to do you can see Janeway is deeply affected by these moments. Almost on the edge of tears. If you thought that having a female captain would in some way weaken the role think again, she is a tough bitch who simply provides striking moments of empathy when the show needs it.

Spotted Dick: In one way this episode makes me happy and in another it is devastating – it is the first episode where you can genuinely see Neelix’s worth as a dramatic character on this show and Ethan Philips gives an outstanding and emotional performance. Unfortunately it is also the only episode where Neelix shows any real worth as a character and its all downhill from here on (he’s relegated to chat show host, dancing goon, babysitter, etc). Still lets not concern ourselves with the future and concentrate on what is easily the best episode you will find to focus on our Talaxian of all trades. Wowza you know its got to be something big if it is going to shut Neelix up and force him to storm off the Bridge. Neelix used to live in a colony in Rynax which had warm days and balmy nights into the metreon cascade, a weapon of mass destruction. Those lovely days were turned into one endless frigid night. 300,000 were killed and Neelix was on Talax with the defence forces. The moment almost breaks down when Janeway asks about his family is heartbreakingly played by Philips, made all the more effective for its subtlety. Neelix tries desperately hard to stay chipper but his voice breaks and his feelings take over. He would rather die than let Jetrel ease his conscience but is made to realise the research could help other Talaxians which is more important than punishing him. His penchant for storytelling is used to insult Jetrel as though he is stabbing him with a rusty knife. Neelix went back to Rynax to look for survivors, a raging atmosphere of corpses and seared flesh and sat with a little girl as she slowly died over a few weeks. We learn that Neelix was a conscientious objector to the war and he never reported for duty despite having regaled Kes with tales of his heroism. He thinks of himself as a coward but during wartime punishment for refusing to fight is death so to stand up for what he believed in was very brave – but he feels nothing but shame. Neelix has lost his mother, father and his little brothers.

Elfin Alien: Its one of the few times I can actually buy into the Neelix/Kes romance especially in the sequence where she goes to his quarters to try and comfort him and he starts telling stories to protect her from his pain. Neelix never considered that he would be the one to die first because Ocampans have such short lives.

Sparkling Dialogue:Those are consequences, Dr Jetrel.’
‘Did you ever think than maybe your wife was right and you had become a monster?’
‘It took us a few moments to realise that Rynax was…gone. Of course the moon was still there we just couldn’t see it because of that metreon cloud.’
‘Who are you going to bring back?’ ‘The victims of Rynax…’
‘I forgive you’ – Neelix’s best ever line.

The Good: I was always under the impression that the Neelix/Tuvok relationship was one of the least satisfying and most annoying in the Trek universe but this is the second episode in a row where they share a great scene together. Plus its wonderful to see Sandrines again, it really was Voyager’s best holodeck spot. James Sloyan is always a fantastic draw and he imbues Jetrel with all the hunched regret and weariness that the character demands. Oddly as a mass murdering scientist he is far more likable than Odo’s father! You would imagine that such an obvious Oppenheimer homage would sink like a lead balloon into unsubtlety (especially with Neelix involved) but there are many disquietingly beautiful moments throughout the drama that handle the subject matter very delicately. Neelix asks Jetrel if he regrets what he did but he offers no apologies for his work merely sympathy that his creation had a far more devastating effect than he anticipated. He makes a distinction between him developing the weapon and the government deciding to use it and Neelix asks quietly if that helps him to sleep at night. He did it to know that it could be done because it is good to know how the world works. Jetrel lost his wife and children because they thought he had become a monster. Even a sequence as mundane as drifting into orbit around a planet is given huge emotional weight after the horrors with have been told about Talax and Neelix’s pained remembrance of how beautiful the world used to be. The episode cleverly convinces you that Jetrel is a sympathetic character before stabbing you in the gut with the realisation that he is using this research for something even more ghastly and then twisting the knife again with the choking revelation that he is trying to bring the dead that he murdered back to life. Like Eye of the Needle these subversions are very skilfully written and executed to really wind the viewer. Jetrel wants to prove that his research can be used to heal as well as kill and when he tried to convince his people to give this a try they exiled him as a Talaxian sympathiser. Such is the way in war. Seeing the transporter experiment working through Neelix’s eyes will take your breath away – its astonishingly emotional.

The Bad: In the space of a season Neelix has had his lungs ripped out and is told that he has a life threatening illness. Are they going to have to threaten his life every time for us to feel any empathy for this man? Janeway orders a complete about turn back to the Talaxian system which is to practically delete all the time they have made up in getting home so far!

Moment to Watch For: There will be a lot of dream sequences/hallucinations in this show but none of them as effective as Neelix’s nightmare in Sandrines with Kes walking up to him with a scarred and burnt flesh.

Myth Building: The Hakonians conquered Talax fifteen years ago.

Result: Too many miracles for one episode that I can hardly contain myself; no anomalies, a riveting central role from Neelix, a fantastic guest star, thoughtful subject matter, no tacked on action sequence…and none of the dull regulars even register (Harry, Chakotay). Jetrel is a superb episode of Voyager and exactly the sort of show you should make people watch when they suggest that this series cannot deliver. It’s a clear Hiroshima parody but like some of the best Trek the powerful subject matter is transferred to the 24th Century and made to have just as much impact there is it does in its historical context. James Sloyan and Ethan Philips deserve plaudits for their scenes together, by far the most potent drama this series has yet produced. Its not quite as flawless as Duet (of which it shares similar ambitions) because it is clearly trying to push your buttons in places but it is very, very well done and by far the best episode of the season: 9.5/10

Learning Curve written by Ronald Wilkerson & Jean Louise Matthias and directed by David Livingston

What’s it about: Nazi Youth hits Voyager…

Hepburn-a-Like: For a split second I was cheering for Janeway when she suggested it wasn’t fair that they expect Starfleet behaviour from ex Marquis members who never went to the Academy…but then she suggests brainwashing them to the Starfleet way! Its no better than religious conversion! By gently tweaking a famous saying of Hitler’s we can see Janeway in a new dictatorial light: ‘My magnificent crew! Are there finer ones anywhere in the world? What material! With them I can make the Delta Quadrant conform to Starfleet rules of conduct!’ Seig Heil! Heil Janeway! Oddly for a season finale Janeway hardly makes an appearance.

Tattoo: Wey-hey! An honest to God great Chakotay moment when he punches Dalby in the face! Unfortunately he was using this as an example of how the Marquis way is not the way to go whereas I was thinking it would make a far more interesting show! Chakotay could deck Harry Kim every time he has an opinion! Look at me – I’m rooting for this show to be like the crew in Living Witness!

Mr Vulcan: Tuvok needs to chill out a bit, he chastises a Marquis crew member for noticing that something needs fixing and getting on with it rather than going through all the usual tedious channels. I’m not surprised there wasn’t a mutiny if people have their wrist slapped for such unimportant things (the only significant problem this caused was deleting the brats from hell Janeway was talking to). I cannot imagine somebody who would convince me less that goody goody Starfleet rules of conduct are the way to go than stiff, humourless Tuvok. I think his robotic personality would frighten me away from it – turn Starfleet and you can be like me! He talks to the ex Marquis members like they are little kids that need to be brought into line. Unlike Tuvok B’lanna understands that to get these people to work you need to make it a challenge and not an order. The one moment of sympathy I had for Tuvok in this episode was when he was trying to catch a quiet couple of minutes with his own thoughts and Neelix comes bumbling over because clearly his services as morale officer are required. Fuck off Neelix! Tuvok trying to get in touch with his recruits is painful to watch, there is no point in trying to get touchy feely when you are standing there like a robot and not making eye contact! At least Tuvok breaks his own rules by saving Gerron so as Garak might say ‘there’s hope for you yet.’

Sparkling Dialogue: ‘At least we went out with our phasers firing!’ says Henley of their failed Bridge simulation against the Romulans but of course that’s the wrong attitude.
‘No Mr Vulcan I’m saying that you are rigid and inflexible!’ – hahaha!
‘Get the cheese to sickbay!’

Dreadful Dialogue: ‘We must function as one perfectly tuned unit!’ Seig Heil Tuvok! He should have quoted Hitler again: ‘Then our people will bloom and flourish. Our people will be able to put their geniality, their ability, their diligence and steadfastness into the works of peace and human culture. This is our desire. We hope for it and we believe in it!’
‘This is one time where retreat is not an option!’
‘If you can learn to bend the rules…I guess we can learn to follow them’ – that cheese gets everywhere, doesn’t it?

The Good: Dalby deserves a little credit for tampering with ships systems to increase a friends replicator rations! I was cheering when the four rebels walked out on Tuvok’s patronising sermon – these guys are happy to do their work but they don’t want to be lectured which I think is fair enough. Only the Doctor is smart enough to take the piss out of this crazy situation by treating the gel pack like a sick patient.

The Bad: I didn’t think the creators of Voyager could ever create children characters even more annoying than that goofy grass in Time and Again but astonishingly the two arrogant little swots in Janeway’s holodeck fantasy are just horrible. ‘Is your Latin a little rusty?’ I’ve always thought the idea of hurting children repugnant but in this case and in purely fictional terms it would be a blessing. They made such a big woo about the ship having bio-neural circuitry in Caretaker but it really hasn’t been relevant in the slightest until in this episode where they find the dullest imaginable way of brining it up – poisoned by Neelix’s stinky old cheese! Irritatingly nobody in a senior position says that Janeway’s idea to brainwash the crew is a bad idea – they seriously need Quark on this show! How embarrassing to parade these misfits right through the Mess Hall. Tuvok suggests that retreat is often the best option and that going out guns blazing is not – what on Earth would Kirk have to say about this? Probably that the 24th Century is deathly dull. Even worse…then the Nazi food squad start taking apart Neelix’s kitchen for other foreign contaminants! Most importantly of all…what is the point of getting to know these four characters if we never hear from any of them again?

Moment to Watch Out For: The horrid jog through the corridors – its like a Rocky montage with its bollocks cut off.

Fashion Statements: ‘Crewman Henley, your head band is certainly festive’ notes Tuvok before reminding her it is against Starfleet uniform dress code and like the good little Nazi asks her to take it of. God forbid that anybody shows any individuality on this ship.

Myth Building: Torres was broken with a position of responsibility, Chakotay was broken when Janeway gave him the eye…now they are trying to assimilate any person on the ship who opposes the Starfleet way! Its like some crazy cult brainwashing!

Result: TNG ends its first season with the return of the Romulans, DS9 with a blistering religious assassination attempt and Voyager…well Voyager ends its first run with some mouldy old cheese sabotaging the ship. I kid you not. There is only one thing that is more irritating than Picard flying through the galaxy trying to humanise everybody and that is Janeway’s attempt to crack everybody into submitting to the Starfleet way of living. Here we see Tuvok torturing, insulting, lecturing and eventually breaking his Marquis victims in order to get them to come around. Are you kidding me? Its like they are trying to iron out any tension that might exist in this show by showing that religious (or in this respect Starfleet) brainwashing techniques. Hilariously much of the worst part of this is the training exercises which are shown via a 1980s training montage complete with jolly music. I don’t understand why they climaxed the (overall reasonably attention grabbing) first season on such a hideous note – if they knew they were keeping four episodes back I would have re-jiggled the episode run and ended with the massively superior Jetrel. Nice to know that Nazism will be spread through the Delta Quadrant: 3/10

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