Thursday, December 24, 2015

Star Trek Voyager (Season 7b)

Season 7a—best of list

Voyager has a couple strongish episodes at the end of its run, but it largely goes out with a whimper.

Episode 14: “Prophecy” 

This is the strongest episode of the season for me. It tackles an interesting question: prophecy, but typical of Trek post-Roddenberry, it doesn’t just dismiss it or explain it away. It presents a well-done, nuanced understanding of religion and faith. Religion as more of a political, cultural institution and faith as a matter of trust. In the end, the “fulfillment” can still be disputed, but it is valid for those who want to see it. But, the complaint would be that it is such a small scale fulfillment, why even have the prophecy?

Episode 15: “The Void” 

At this point in Trek and especially Voyager, we all know where this episode is going from the moment we see the week’s quandary. Trapped in a cage with other groups all seeking to take advantage of each other for survival? Time to learn about cooperation. This is a well done, entertaining episode, but it is basically Sesame Street.

Episodes 16,17: “Workforce” 

On the one hand, this is a unique story for Trek, but it feels so out of place I can’t decide if I like it or not. It certainly didn’t feel like it needed to be a two-parter.

Episode 18: “Human Error” 

I am always uncomfortable when Trek focuses on what people are doing in their private time on the holodeck, especially when they are doing things that they shouldn’t be doing. In an effort to make Seven even more human, they just succeeded in making her more creepy.

Episode 19: “Q2” 

I have an oversized book that purported to collect all of the telescripts for all Q episodes of Trek ever. It must have been published before this episode was created, because this is the only on missing. Not a big loss, but this isn’t a terrible story. It doesn’t really feel very Q-esque, but the lesson presented and learned is pretty solid.

Episode 20: “Author, Author” 

Towards the end, Voyager really became more and more fascinated with its “rights for A.I.” issue. It really only serves to expose the weaknesses of the concept as presented on the show. The Doctor is an unconvincing A.I. He does more than he should be capable of, which is what makes him so fun to watch. The interesting issue here is not so much the “rights” issue that was done better in “Measure of a Man” but rather the way people feel being used as source material in the Doctor’s story.

Episode 21: “Friendship One”

When this episode started I thought there was going to be a huge continuity problem with the first Trek film, but then they clarify that the probe was not that other, real Voyager from the 70s. Still, it was clearly meant to be something similar, and I can’t believe they didn’t reference that probe nor the events of the motion picture. Ultimately the interesting aspect of this story is the misguided, bitter leader. He is a comic-book level character where depth is concerned, but it is still fulfilling to see him overthrown.

Episode 22: “Natural Law” 

Right at the end we get another “Chakotay gets to play anthropologist” storyline.

Episode 23: “Homestead” 

I always wondered what they would do with Neelix as the series neared its end. Coincidentally, they return him to his people. Trek always strains disbelief with how chocked full of life space is, to think that a colony of Neelix’s people would just happen to be this far away from his home planet and right along their path is laughable.

Episode 24: “Renaissance Man” 

I was confused by this story, what was the point? Was the Doctor outwitting these aliens (who I have always liked when they have shown up) or showing incredibly bad judgment? Why throw this one in at the end? Were they running out of ideas and just phoning in the last few episodes?

Episodes 25, 26: “Endgame” 

Voyager suffered from an overabundance of pointless time-travel stories, and they go out with a doozy. Seems they made it home and we didn’t get to see THAT story, but Janeway thinks she could have done better so she spends ten years finding a way to get a do-over. It works, which means that she now never went back. So did the do-over ever really happen. And, this has got to be the most abrupt ending to a series ever.

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