The gang — most of it, anyway — is back on Earth, 26 years since we last saw them. Janeway (unbelievably) is an admiral, Kim (inexplicably) is a captain, the Doctor (finally) has a name, Torres (curiously) is a liaison to the Klingon Empire and Paris (believably) writes holonovels. But Chakotay and Seven — who end up (surprisingly) married — are dead and Tuvok (sadly) has lost his marbles, but could have been cured if he hadn’t been away from the Alpha Quadrant for so long. So, Janeway steals some Klingon and Federation technology and goes back to present-day (2377) Voyager to try to get the ship home faster and maybe save everybody (cough, Chakotay, Seven and Tuvok, cough) who died after year seven of Voyager’s journey. Present Janeway is skeptical, but caves when Future Janeway tells her about Chakotay, Seven and Tuvok (with a passing reference to other crew members who would die). Unfortunately, Future Janeway’s plan involves using a Borg transwarp hub to get the crew home, and Present Janeway decides that destroying the hub — and possibly saving billions of lives — is more important. But, of course, the two Janeways put their heads together and (sigh) find a way to “have (their) cake and eat it, too” — by having Future Janeway sacrifice herself and get assimilated while carrying a pathogen to the Borg — enabling Voyager to get home while also destroying the hub. End series.
Why it’s important
Well, this episode wraps seven years of frustrating telev — I mean, seven years of Voyager’s trip in the Delta Quadrant. It also does some major, major damage to the Borg. So, what we see has some galaxy-shaking consequences. Or, rather, it likely will.
What doesn’t hold up
A friend of mine asked me what I planned to write for “Endgame”. He joked that he still has no idea how Voyager pulled off destroying the hub WHILE ALSO using it to escape. I’m not sure I get it, either — even if I put aside the fact that Future Janeway shouldn’t have existed if Voyager got home when it did in this episode. What concerns me more is how EXACTLY Future Janeway decides to play god in this episode. Let’s review:
As the episode begins, Voyager’s been back on Earth for 10 years after an additional 16 years in the Delta Quadrant (how the ship cut 14 years off the journey isn’t explained). The Federation is apparently in good shape and most of the crew seems fine (as noted above). There were some other unnamed casualties before Voyager got back, but Janeway’s biggest reasons for getting Voyager home sooner seem to be that Tuvok (her oldest friend), Chakotay (her first officer) and Seven (her de facto daughter) would be much better served by her actions here (or, at least, Janeway assumes they would be, which is a stretch). This, my friends, is really terrible and shows just how reckless and selfish Janeway became as the series dragged on. You could argue that this episode is similar to “Timeless”, in which Chakotay and Kim do something very similar. But in that episode, all of Voyager’s crew except Chakotay and Kim died 15 years earlier — meaning things were about as bad as they could get. Janeway’s actions here are a lot harder to swallow because they’re mostly about saving her besties (and also because she’s the alleged hero of the show). It’s disquieting that we don’t see the futures of the other 100-plus Voyager crew members who apparently made it back to Earth — but a strange focus on the main cast (despite Voyager’s small crew and inability to rotate in new redshirts) was always an oddity of this series.
Beyond that, it’s sad that the series ends without answering any questions about what will actually happen to the crew after their return, as the future we DO see is wiped away. How will the former Maquis fare? What about Seven? Will the Voyager crew have more adventures together, or will the crew break up? What about the forgotten Equinox crew members? And most importantly, what about all the questionable decisions Janeway has made over the years?
We know that Janeway is (pfft) promoted to admiral by the time “Star Trek: Nemesis” rolls around, so I guess Starfleet shrugged all of her questionable behavior. Overall, not getting more is really disappointing, as a strong finale — hell, a 5-minute montage showing where each of the main characters really end up — would have done wonders for this series. The only character who got a decent sendoff was Neelix, who ends up on a Talaxian colony in the Delta Quadrant a couple episodes before “Endgame”. Amazingly, one of Voyager’s most-lampooned characters gets the best exit.
Let’s also talk about the Chakotay/Seven pairing. Was it rushed? Well, yes. Was it completely unbearable? I don’t think so. I would have preferred that it happened a few episodes earlier, considering the weight it apparently would go on to have, but I didn’t hate inserting it here — even though it appears it mostly happened because Robert Beltran essentially dared Brannon Braga to do it.
Oh, and one more thing actually. I’m sure it will surprise no one that the “Borg resistance” from “Unimatrix Zero” led to absolutely nothing. Because Voyager.
Last, last thing: Did Admiral Janeway give the Borg information about technology that would provide them with an advantage in the future? She equips Voyager with new shielding and weapons — and the Borg are (of course) well known for their ability to adapt. Voyager (and DS9) played pretty fast and loose with the logic of time travel, but if Voyager made it back using the advanced technology, doesn’t that mean that the Borg would have retained knowledge of it? Even if that’s not the case, Admiral Janeway’s actions are reckless, as her plan could have easily failed and the Borg would have learned and possibly assimilated those transphasic torpedoes and the weird armor. Because it’s always good to hand advanced technology to a foe intent on assimilating the galaxy.
Again, the creators made Janeway far too reckless and selfish here.
On a positive note, the episode does appropriately show the birth of Torres and Paris’ child. Quietly, their relationship was a strength of the series, so at least it was wrapped up effectively. It’s too bad, though, that Admiral Paris didn’t really acknowledge Tom on the viewscreen after Voyager returns home.
There’s also the matter of Voyager’s finale being an awful lot like TNG’s — an alternate future, a main character becoming a writer, a key character dying and another with mental issues, fighting with the Klingons and a rescue by a Starfleet ship by a sympathetic yet skeptical commander, etc. This is a criticism often thrown at “Endgame”, and there’s validity to it. But I think that’s about the least of this episode’s failings.
We’ll get into a larger assessment of Voyager in our next review. The 10-second version is that it was a show with a good cast and some great moments that ultimately ignored its premise and ventured into comic-book territory late in its run. Even Enterprise — which had many failings — was a better show, in the eyes of this reviewer.
Coming next week …
Our last look at Voyager.