My Top Ten Favourite Episodes of STAR TREK: VOYAGER

It’s day four of Star Trek Week!  I see Graham and Ryan checking the clock and looking annoyed.  Don’t worry guys, it’s almost over!

Star Trek: Voyager (VOY) came around during a period of maximum Star Trek saturation.  Voyager premiered only a year after TNG ended and only two years after DS9 premiered.  This is most likely the point in which “Star Trek fatigue” took root, but more on that tomorrow.  Star Trek: Voyager debuted on January 16, 1995 with the episode “Caretaker” and, like its sister shows, would last seven seasons for a total of 172 episodes before closing with “Endgame” on May 23, 2001.

Hit the jump for my favourite episodes!

1. Eye of the Needle

“A micro-wormhole is discovered that leads to the Alpha Quadrant, and the crew make contact with a Romulan ship on the other side. “

The only flaw of this episode is that you that never really believe that the crew will be getting home, after all this was only the seventh episode of the first season.  However the explanation behind why and how they can’t get home is a unique one and helps to cement this episode as the best of Voyager’s first season.

Trek Trivia – Vaughn Armstrong, one of Star Treks most prolific guest stars, has his first of five Voyager appearances here.  He has played thirteen different characters spread across TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT.

2. Scorpion Part I & II

“Voyager must pass through Borg space, only to discover a new alien race that are even deadlier than the Borg.”

I’ve grouped the season three finale and season four premiere together because I think they work very well as a single episode.  These episodes features a beginning and an end for two main characters.  The character of Kes would cease to be a regular in season four.  She was a character whom I liked, but it was fairly obvious that they just didn’t know what to do with her and so she was written out.

In her place we got Seven of Nine, the “Borg babe”, who many accused of being added solely for sex appeal.  They were right of course but the character, thanks to Jeri Ryan, ended up being much more than that.  She became a more interesting character than Kes ever was and it wasn’t long before she earned her place amongst the cast and crew as a valued member.

Voyager was accused of overusing the Borg and I tend to agree.  The Borg were introduced as an unbeatable foe and throughout The Next Generation that’s what they were.  The Enterprise crew barely escaped by the skin of their teeth, yet here was this small ship marooned on the other side of the galaxy who managed to defeat and escape the Borg time and time again.  “Scorpion” was the first major Borg story that Voyager produced, so that “unbeatable Voyager” issue wouldn’t start to be a problem until later on.

Trek Trivia – In another cost cutting measure similar to “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Way of the Warrior”, this episode made use of Borg action figures to create the pile of dismembered Borg.  Many figures were cut up and then glued together to create the macabre display of body parts.

3. Year of Hell Part I & II

“Voyager creates a new Astrometrics Lab, which maps a new course that brings them into contact with a Krenim temporal ship that can erase things from history.”

Voyager did some great time travel episodes, even if they did hit the ol’ reset button a few times too often, and this two parter is one of them.  The character of Annorax (played by Kurtwood Smith) is a wonderful villain because his acts of genocide, while horrible, have a purpose.  He’s trying to reset time to right a wrong he made many years ago.  Wiping a species from time changes the flow of time and thus affects everything and everyone that species had contact with.  Annorax moves from place to place, making calculations to figure out which changes in the timeline will bring back his civilization and his wife.

It’s a shame this was only a two part episode, it really could have been transformed into a season long arc.  Seeing Voyager battered and broken as it limps across space and the crew struggling to stay alive would have made for a thrilling season.  One of the complaints I and many have about Voyager, is that they never made any effort to show the wear and tear that Voyager would have sustained being stranded so far from home.  Despite the numerous battles, the ship is always pristine and the crew never runs out of supplies (unless the plot dictates they should).  Episodes like this, in which we get to see Voyager slowly falling apart over the course of almost a year, give us a glimpse of what the show could have been like had it gone in this direction.

Trek Trivia – Voyager is depicted as being severely damaged in this episode. To achieve that effect without lasting damage to any of the permanent sets, acrylic sheets similar to those used when the sets are in storage were draped over most of the “clean” bulkheads, and were then sprayed with charcoal dust to simulate the effects of multiple explosions.

4. Message in a Bottle

“The Doctor’s program is sent to an advanced Starfleet vessel via a vast ancient communications network, but he soon discovers that only he and the ship’s own EMH remain to fight against Romulans who have taken over the ship and are attempting to return to Romulan space with it.”

Andy Dick guest stars in this episode, and that might be enough to make you run for the hills, but he’s actually quite good in this.  He and Robert Picardo have some nice verbal sparring throughout the episode which brings to mind the petty bickering that Dr. McCoy and Spock routinely engaged in throughout The Original Series.

This episode has one big fanboy moment that either has you groaning or cheering at the screen.  Remember how the Enterprise D could separate its saucer section?  Well this ship, the Prometheus, can split into THREE parts!  Aw yeah.  I have to admit, that was pretty cool.

Trek Trivia – The bridge of the Prometheus was a redress of the Enterprise-E bridge from The Next Generation films.

5. Living Witness

“A Kyrian museum curator 700 years in the future hopes a Voyager relic containing a copy of the Doctor can confirm their version of history.”

This episode is unique amongst Star Trek for two reasons, it takes place seven hundred years in Voyager’s future and none of the main characters appear as themselves.  The majority of the crew that do appear are simply holograms, and The Doctor appears only as a backup copy.  No matter which way you slice it…the crew you’ve watched for the past four seasons have long since died.  Their friends have died.  Their family have died.  Everyone is dead.  I like it.  Mwahaha

Trek Trivia – Several of the sets built for this episode, primarily the main museum set, were later modified and reused for Star Trek: Insurrection.

6. Hope and Fear

“Paris and Neelix return from a mission with a passenger named Arturis who knows more than 4,000 languages. He manages to decode a message from Starfleet that could lead to a way home.”

We get the awesome Ray Wise guest starring in this episode as Arturis, the alien who probably knows more than he’s letting on.

As with TNG, Voyager involved a ship constantly on the move; so the crews rarely had to face the consequences of their actions, be they good or bad.  Voyager had been meddling in alien affairs for the past four years in their quest to return home, and this episode brings up the realization that not all of those decisions were necessarily good ones when it came to other species.  In fact, they sometimes led to the complete and utter destruction of entire races.  If you remade this episode from the alien’s point of view, it would be fairly easy to paint the Voyager crew as the bad guys.

Trek Trivia – This episode required almost more than double the normal amount of visual effects shots for an episode.

7. Timeless

“Fifteen years in the future, Chakotay and Harry Kim attempt to prevent the Voyager from crash-landing on an ice planet.”

Another wonderful time travel episode, as well as another use of the reset button.  Star Trek episodes which peer into the future are always fun and this one is no exception.  Plus we get to see Geordi again!

Trek Trivia – In addition to his cameo appearance as Captain Geordi La Forge, LeVar Burton also directed this episode.

8. The Voyager Conspiracy

“After assimilating Voyager’s data for the past six years, through an enhancement to her Borg implants, Seven of Nine suspects the ship did not arrive in the Delta Quadrant by accident.”

Seven of Nine goes crazy and convinces both Janeway and Chakotay that the other had a hand in purposely stranding the ship in the Delta Quadrant.  Even though you soon discover that Seven is off her rocker, this episode does a fairly decent job of actually trying to convince you that there was indeed a conspiracy.  I almost wish that things were left unsolved, it might have introduced an interesting dynamic to future episodes.

Trek Trivia – This is the second instance in which a food that Neelix brought on board has caused a problem.  Get it together Neelix!

9. Blink of an Eye

“Voyager is trapped in orbit about a planet with a space-time differential such that, while its inhabitants live through years, Voyager experiences mere minutes.”

The idea of watching a civilization evolve and grow right before your very eyes is an intriguing one, and that’s exactly what happens in this episode.  In the several days Voyager is in orbit, they observe the planet’s populace evolve from cave dwelling primitives to a highly advanced civilization that actually saves Voyager’s ass by the end.  One standout sequence is when the aliens launch a spacecraft to investigate the “sky ship”,  and since they experience time at a much quicker pace than the rest of the galaxy, they find that the crew of Voyager appear to be frozen in time, motionless.

Trek Trivia – This episode originally had the title “Wink of an Eye” until they realized that a TOS episode had already used that title.  Both “Wink of an Eye” and “Blink of an Eye” feature aliens who exist at a much different rate of time than the crew.

10. Shattered

“Voyager is fractured into several time periods by an accident, and only Chakotay is able to move between them, in the process meeting old friends and old foes from the previous six seasons.”

Chakotay never really had a lot to do.  You get the feeling that the creators thought “you know what?  Lets add a Native American to the cast” and then didn’t really think any further than that.  He had vision quests, used a medicine wheel, said “A-koo-chee-moya” from time to time.  He was the stereotypical strong Native American character.  Not that a strong Native American character is a bad thing but…that’s all he was.  His character drifted through for seven seasons without changing.  The actor who portrayed Chakotay, Robert Beltran, was fairly outspoken against the series even calling it “punishment for everything in my life up till that point”.

I do like Chakotay, which is why his character arc, or lack thereof, was so frustrating.  That said, I enjoy this episode  because Chakotay actually has quite a lot to do this time around.  He’s the only person who can move between time periods and thus save the ship, plus by the end, he’s the only one who knows what actually went on.  But he’ll never tell, teehee!

Trek Trivia – This episode revisits time periods from six past episodes.

Well folks, you’ve seen my list so what are some of YOUR favourite episodes?  And make sure to join us tomorrow for Star Trek: Enterprise!