Frontier Voyager

Our Journey Through Star Trek: Voyager

Stargazer and LCARS say: Watch It, Begrudgingly 2/5 Janeways.

In which the titular starship gets tossed 70,000 light-years away from home. Hilarity ensues.

Reasons to Watch It's the first episode, introducing a lot of great characters. Establishes early conflicts, such as the Kazon and tensions with the Maquis (which won't last long, so enjoy it while you can). Fun DS9 cameos.

Reasons to Skip It's a two parter, and Star Trek rarely does a good job with multi part episodes. Tom Paris' casual sexual harassment and light racism. More introductions are made later in the show. The amount of screen time given to Tom Paris is truly embarrassing. If you know the basic premise of the show or are familiar with the characters, skip this one with a clear conscience.

What We Remember That it's really bad.

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Things have been pretty quiet here at the New York City spacedock. Like many people, Stargazer and I have been mostly confined to quarters, with only the occasional away mission to the grocery store. While it might seem like the opportune time to double down on a personal project like this one, we're opting to move slowly and be generous to ourselves. Escapism is important, but in the face of enormous tragedy even escapism takes work.

In happier news, we've made a small update to the legendary skip-it watch-it list. It now includes s2e6 Twisted, which we've ruled as a skip. It's not bad, but it is dull and somehow misses every opportunity to have interesting character moments.

Also, we'll soon have some competition in our rewatch of Voyager because Garrett Wang (Ensign Kim) and Robbie McNeill (Tom Paris) are launching a podcast. It's called Delta Flyers, and will debut in early May. The plan seems to be for the two of them to watch the show, and podcast their experiences.

We're certainly excited. Especially for when they get to the episode where Kim is the fake chosen one on a planet of women who suck the lifeforce out of men, or the episode where Paris becomes a salamander. So much to look forward to!

You can also back their Patreon.

We hope you stay well, and stay with us as we continue our trek.

LCARS here. We took a week off from our normal viewing, but before doing so we watched s2e3 Projections. After it ended, we both independently decided that it deserved a perfect score—the first we've given!

This episode is very much in the “nothing is what it seems” or “everything is wrong” vein that crops up several times in Star Trek, and that's always compelling. It's also an episode focused on the Doctor, and that almost never disappoints. These two facets colliding together is what makes the episode so good. As a computer-created hologram, the Doctor should perceive the world exactly as it is. When his perceptions are challenged it's even stranger and more intense than when a flesh-and-blood member of the crew is unsure what's real and what's not.

The one shortfall of Projections is that it doesn't really work in a vacuum. If this was the only episode of Voyager you ever so, it probably wouldn't land as hard. Some of the legendary TOS and TNG episodes like Darmok, Inner Light, and Balance of Terror require very little context beyond what it's in the episode. Projections requires a basic knowledge of the show and its characters to work.

It's not required that great episodes also live in bottles, but it certainly doesn't hurt. I love Deep Space Nine, but I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite episode since that series isn't so much about episodes as it is arcs and characters. Voyager is definitely easy mode compared to the massive storytelling of DS9, but it's enough to make jumping in cold difficult.


One programming note: Comicbook.com reports that a Voyager documentary is in the works! From the post:

The film is the next project for 455 Films, the studio behind Star Trek documentaries The Captains, Chaos on the Bridge, and For the Love of Spock. The studio's president, David Zappone, was also an executive producer and co-director on last year's What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Zappone hinted plans for the film on social media.

“Okay. Who likes Star Trek Voyager, and thinks it deserves to have a documentary to commemorate its 25th anniversary?” he tweeted. He then confirmed the project is in the works and the filming will commence during next week's Star Trek: The Cruise IV. The film's crew will be on the ship during its week-long voyage to film testimonials from Star Trek: Voyager fans.

Of the documentaries cited in the article, I've only seen Chaos on the Bridge and What We Left Behind. The former was interesting for me as someone who doesn't have any behind-the-scenes knowledge, and the latter a love letter that was a truly satisfying watch. That's to say, I'm optimistic!

LCARS here with a small update. We've added our judgement for Episode 14: Jetrel to the guide. This is the penultimate episode of the first season, and it's a heavy one. This was one we hadn't remembered seeing before, and were surprised to see Neelix carrying such a heavy episode so early in the show's run. While it takes many seasons for Neelix to shed his worst characteristics, this is a strong early showing. We did some live-tooting, too.

Speaking of toots, I recently read through the unpublished 1995 Star Trek Voyager “Technical Manual.” I say this in quotes, since this document was never completed and released in the same way as the TNG manual. In fact, the Voyager manual appears to have been written entirely before production, and doesn't seem to have been updated. It's a shame, since Voyager does introduce so many new species, places, and technologies. I posted a few thoughts/goofs regarding it on our Mastodon.

It's a short read, and definitely interesting (if repetitive) for those interested in the earliest ideas for the series. The text is full of references to ideas that are never used, like Voyager's AeroWing shuttle, or dimming the lights on the ship to conserve power. It also says repeatedly that Warp 10 is impossible to achieve, and should be avoided. The logic was that any craft traveling at Warp 10 would simultaneously occupy every point in the universe. We'll be sure to let the newts know when we get there.

This blog/site runs off of Write.freely (hosted very kindly by the mysterious cabal behind qua.name). It's an ultralight publishing platform that federates with other services through the ActivityPub protocol. The upshot is that you can follow this blog on Mastodon, or similar service. You can find us by searching our account: @frontier-voyager@qua.name

Obviously, we love federating (this is a pun). But it's a little hard to interact with people, so we've also launched a full-blown Frontier Voyager Mastodon account. Stop by and give us a Vulcan hello.

LCARS here. We've made some changes to the illustrious Star Trek: Voyager Skip-It, Watch-It Guide! We've added our judgements for episodes 11-13, as well as scores, and a brief synopsis to each episode on the list. More bang for your buck! Er, well, your click.

Episode 11: Heroes and Demons was the stand-out of this batch. I don't remember a lot of the episodes I saw when the show was in its first run, but I do remember this one. It's silly, to be sure, but earnest in that wonderfully Star Trek way. It's also an early look at the Doctor, and is the first (of many) havok-on-the-holodeck episodes. Definitely take a look at this one.

We know you have your choice in Star Treks...

Star Trek: Voyager is a very easy show to overlook, sandwiched as it is between the moody and artsy misfit Deep Space Nine and the problem-child Enterprise. It seems like it doesn't get the attention of its siblings, and certainly not the near-mythic praise heaped upon TOS and The Next Generation.

There's fair criticism to be made of Voyager. It doesn't have all the memorable characters or the legendary episodes. In some ways, Voyager was a retreat from DS9's lengthy storytelling to something a bit simpler and episodic. It also retreated from the bigger fictional universe, isolating the ship and crew 75 years from the action in Alpha quadrant.

While all Star Trek series struggle to figure themselves out (the first seasons of TNG and DS9 are unwatchable), Voyager never settled into a groove. It was constantly reinventing itself. Key concepts from early on, like the tension between a Maquis and Starfleet crew are quickly abandoned. Some characters stagnate and never seem to grow, others flourish; some are sidelined and some don't appear until more than halfway through the show's run.

Voyager also doesn't have a “vibe,” like the other shows. TOS is an unpretentious swashbuckling adventure. TNG is full of noble pursuits, and has a real grandiosity to it. DS9 is darker, and more daring narratively. Even Enterprise (which we do not discuss in this house), simply by being such a blacksheep is easily described. Voyager is a bit more stayed and steady. It has lower highs and higher lows than the other shows, which is as much a success as it is a failing.

Stargazer and I didn't start out as Voyager evangelists. I watched the show during its original run, and in hindsight I probably enjoyed it more than I could admit at the time, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I would never have sought it out if I hadn't come home to find her watching it one evening. She'd never seen it, or any Star Trek series, but within two years we'd worked our way through all the movies and nearly all of the TV shows. We loved it all, but Voyager remained very much remained our show.

2020 is the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager, although you wouldn't know it. The buzz right now is about the (excellent) Star Trek: Picard, and it's hard not to feel like Voyager is once again being ignored. And that's too bad. Especially since Jeri Ryan is set to reprise the role of Seven of Nine, a stand-out star of the series.

So, we propose a solution: writing a comprehensive guide to the entire series. We'll assemble a complete list of the episodes you can skip and which you must see. We'll help you through the best (and the worst) of Voyager, and go in-depth on the stuff that makes us really love this crew. Join us as we re-voyage Voyager and give this very worthy show its due.

“Set a course for home.”