After I watched the first season of Star Trek: Discovery (on DVD), I decided to kill the time before the release of season two by watching the other Star Trek spin-offs, starting with Enterprise (season four only). After that I moved on to The Next Generation and following that, Deep Space Nine. (It took me seven months to watch seven seasons of TNG, but an entire year to finish DS9.) Up now: Star Trek: Voyager. It took DS9 a while to grow on me (and, until this past year, I had seen the episodes only once each), but I thought Voyager picked up the baton from TNG and ran with it.

I watched all of seasons 1-4, and I was also a member of the Columbia House Voyager VHS club. (I never did cancel my membership; the tapes just stopped coming. It was a huge rip-off, anyway, in comparison to the DVD sets; my VHS tapes are now worthless (in terms of resale value). Unlike DS9 (of which I have only the initial episode for $4.95), I watched the Voyager ones, and am familiar with many of the episodes simply by the title. 

I stopped watching after season four because UPN got squirrelly about how they distributed the show. TNG and DS9 were first-run syndication, but Voyager launched what was intended to be a new network, the United Paramount Network. By the fifth season, though, a station couldn't buy just that show; they had to buy the entire slate of UPN programming. I lived in St. Louis at the time, and had access to six or seven channels: the three networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), the local PBS channel, two local stations, plus a local religious network. None of them wanted the whole package. St. Louis was the 45th largest television market in the country at that time, and we couldn't get Star Trek!

A letter-writing campaign was directed at Larry Rice, the owner of the evangelical station I mentioned earlier. Star Trek is not exactly the kind of programming his station carried, and I'm sure the desperate fans wouldn't have deigned to watch his channel under any other circumstances. A word here about Larry Rice: technically he was a "televangelist," I suppose, but he wasn't one of those millionaires in white suits and wearing gold rings. The office where I used to work in downtown St. Louis was right across the street from his facility, and when supply trucks came in, he was right there in his shirtsleeves helping to unload. Every Thanksgiving, the line was around the block to feed the homeless. But I digress.

I remember some of the local coverage when Voyager debuted. Tuvok was described as the first African-American Vulcan. "African?" "American?" "Vulcan?" Well, he was one of the three. Tim Russ may have been the first African American to play a Vulcan, but that's different. I also recall some controversy surrounding the casting of Robert Beltran as Chakotay. IIRC, Beltran is an Indian, but not of the same tribe as Chakotay. the woman originally cast as Captain quit early on, too. 

Because I have never seen seasons five through seven, I am really looking forward to this series. I have a friend who used to work on a newspaper, and he snagged a VHS of the final episode from the review table for me to watch. I did watch it, but I didn't allow myself to retain any of the the details, in anticipation of the day I would be able to watch the entire series. I don't know how much detail I will go into here, but I don't anticipate taking as long to get through this as I did DS9.

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THE KILLING GAME, Pts. 1 & 2: As the story opens, the Hirogen have already taken control of Voyager. Most of the crew have been locked up; the rest have been sent to the holodecks and fitted with neural implants which make them believe they are part of the scenarios. One simulation is a Klingon battle taken from the ship's database and there are possible a few others. The main one is a WWII story set in occupied France in 1944. the Hirogen are the Nazis and the bridge crew are the resistance. the safety protocols have been disabled, and when one of the crew is injured, he or she is sent to sick bay to be fixed up, then returned or sent to a different simulation.

The leader of the Hirogen has a progressive idea to use holodeck technology to train his race, rather than scatter them across the Delta Quadrant, but he needs the Voyager crew to maintain the equipment. The rest of the ship would eventually be used as holding cells for their "prey" of various alien races. Also, with the safety protocols removed, even holodeck simulcra are deadly. 

The Doctor is the only crew member not under control, until he is able to free Seven of Nine as well. Between the two of them, they manage to disable the neural implants. Janeway fights her way to a position of respect with the Hirogen commander so that he deals with her as an equal, not simply "prey." He is eventually assassinated and Janeway must deal with his second in command.

I had no memory of this episode whatsoever, but it represents a unique twist on the standard holodeck adventure story. 

B'Elanna was visibly pregnant in this episode, in her role as a resistance fighter. Once the crew is freed from the neural implant, someone says her large baby bump is just a holographic projection. B'Elanna shifted position in obvious discomfort and said "it doesn't feel like a projection."

In the next episode, she and Tom are having relationship problems and she is wearing her lab coat again. 

VIS A VIS: Voyager helps an alien test pilot with his experimental spacecraft, but he is actually a shape shifter who has stolen the ship. He swaps forms with Paris and takes his place, sending Tom, now in "his" form (which was also a stolen form) back to the race from whom the experimental craft was stolen. That might have been difficult to explain had Tom not been captured by the one whose form the alien had stolen, who is now in the form he stole before that. After bodies have been exchanged, the one alien takes the shapeshifter back to try to find the original owner of that form, and back and back and back as far as it goes. 

Oh my...

"In the next episode... she is wearing her lab coat again."

I don't know why they even bothered with the lab coat. Since she began to show, she's only been in shot from the shoulders up.

THE OMEGA DIRECTIVE: Voyager encounters a subspace disturbance which triggers a secret Starfleet directive for Captains' eyes only. the subspace anomaly is caused by a substance known as "Omega" which is capable of destroying space itself. Every starship captain is under orders to destroy Omega whenever it is encountered. Under nornal circumstances, Janeway would simply report it and a special team would be sent to deal with it but, stuck in the Delta Quadrant, she is forced to re-interpret her orders. She reluctantly lets certain crew members in on the mission on a "need to know" basis. Because of the Borgs' familiarity with Omega (due to races they have assimilated), Janeway recruits Seven as her second for this mission. But Seven wants to preserve Omega. 

UNFORGETTABLE: An alien woman seeks asylum on Voyager, asking for Chakotay by name. She belongs to a race whose members cannot be remembered by others after 24 hours or so of no contact. (Sounds more like a Doctor Who concept than Star Trek.) She asserts she spent several weeks aboard Voyager and that she and Chakotay fell in love. Her race is very insular and, although Chakotay has forgotten her, she has not forgotten him. But now she is a fugitive for seeking him out. She convinces Chakotay of her story, but then the authority pursuing her catches up and wipes her memory. Her last wish (before losing her memory) is for Chakotay to tell her of her lost memories as she did with him. He tries but is unsuccessful. The producers do make some effort to explain how someone could have been aboard the ship for weeks and leave no trace, but still to be taken with a grain of salt from Neelix's kitchen.

It was a dumb episode with blackhole plot holes and did nothing to advance any of the characters. It didn't help the crew or the voyage home in any way. I maintain my belief that there would have been official logs and personal entries of this woman. Seven may have know of her race and had Borg technology to retain her memories. An alien race would never have been able to create a computer virus invasive enough to wipe out knowledge of their existence without extensive understanding of the starship's systems. 

It didn't even make Chakotay a more likeable or relatable man. I still have the exact same opinion of him. 

LIVING WITNESS: This is a confounding episode in more ways than one. I have no memory of ever having seen it before. As it began, I thought it was a "Mirror Universe" story. The crew had different haircuts, their sweaters were black instead of gray and they all wore black leather gloves. Chakotay's tattoo covered the entire left side of his face, Seven of Nine was a full-on Borg, the the Doctor was an android rather than a hologram. Then the POV shifts. Everything we've seen so far is part of a museum holo-exhibit from 700 years in the future!

According to "history," Voyager allied itself with the Vaskans, a race invoved in a civil war with the Kryrians. The Kyrians are now the politically dominant race, the museum is run by the Kyrians, and history is written by the victors. According to their history, Voyager assisted the Vaskans in committing genocide against the Kyrians in exchange for information regarding a wormhole which would get them closer to the Alpha Quadrant. Quarren, the Kyrian curator, has recently uncovered a device which may shed light on the events of 700 years ago. He is determined to unearth the truth, regardless of whether it contradicts the approved history.

The Doctor emerges from the device and is appalled by the Kyrians version of events. He convinces the authorities to let him reprogram the holo-exibit to show what really happened. They agree and he does, but few of the Kyrians believe his version of events from so long ago. The immediate result of his testimony is that the Vaskans storm and ransack the museum. The doctor's medical tricorder contains data which would prove his story, but it is lost in the riot. As the Doctor and Quarren search for it, the POV shifts again, an unspecified amount of time in the future. The scene is the museum, and the two races now apparently live in harmony. Everything we have seen so far is itself part of a holo-exhibit. the Kyrians and the Vasjans now live in harmony. The curator explains that the doctor became a part of their society for years, then eventually took a shuttle and left for the Alpha quadrant.

That's the end of the episode. I have more to say about it, but I've got to take Tracy to work. 

I'll be back in about an hour.

Okay, I'm back. 

In light of last week's events, seeing one of these groups storm and ransack the museum really hit home. The intended message was one of optimism, I think, but it took more than 700 years to achieve. 

It's an engaging episode, but from a pure storytelling standpoint, somewhat flawed. If this were Doctor Who, I would say Voyager's involvement in this planet's politics (not to mention the Doctor's "trip to the future") is now a "fixed point in time." Going forward, if it is ignored (or not otherwise overturned), that weakens the story. Even if one were to say the incident didn't happen "now" in the show's timeline, then they've written themselves into a corner in which the Doctor must, at some point, leave the ship before it returns to the Alpha Quadrant. 

Wasn't it meant to be a back-up copy of the EMH?

It's been ages since I saw the episode, but I swear I remember an  out like that.

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