Category Archives: 1995


“Allegedly, I’m a tactical genius. And, now, I’m gonna be a working mom!”

The Kazon Nistrim lure Voyager into a trap and steal a transporter module. The Nistrim is aided by Seska (after joining forces with the sect in “State of Flux”) and Seska mocks Janeway and Chakotay before escaping. After making repairs, Voyager pursues the Nistrim ship and a humiliated Chakotay steals a shuttle, intent on recovering or destroying the transporter technology without endangering the rest of the crew. Chakotay eventually destroys the transporter but is captured in the process, while Seska and Nistrim Maje Cullah try to build a coalition of rival sects to capture Voyager when it comes for Chakotay. Seska’s plan doesn’t work and Chakotay and the shuttle are recovered. But Seska sends a message to Voyager as the episode ends, telling Chakotay she stole his DNA while he was captured … and that she is now pregnant with his child.

Why it’s important

While we learned a lot more about the Kazon in “Initiations”, this episode sets up the continuing storyline involving Seska/Cullah that we see throughout the rest of the season. The plot involving Seska carrying Chakotay’s child is probably the biggest domino in Voyager’s early years.

We also see the beginning of Seska’s plotting to build an alliance of the fractious Kazon sects to capture Voyager. That the series built on “State of Flux” from season one and continued a sort of arc is an indication that the creators were trying to do something with this series that most people don’t remember. It’s possible that the poor execution of the arc is why the creators went more episodic in later years …

“The worst ‘maneuver’ in this episode was your choice of that shirt, Chakotay.”

What doesn’t hold up

This is a really strange episode. There are some great parts and good acting. And some of the actions — Chakotay’s decision to go rogue, Torres defending him, Janeway to go with her gut to save him — are all believable moments that worked. But there are just so many other glaring oddities.

For one thing, the details around Chakotay stealing the shuttle are quite odd. Around that time, we see Voyager traveling at warp to catch up with Cullah’s ship. For some reason that’s not explained, the ship must have stopped — otherwise, Chakotay couldn’t have left with the shuttle. Beyond that, shortly after Chakotay takes off, Tuvok says he has a three-hour headstart. But … how? Why didn’t the ship immediately pursue Chakotay’s shuttle? Keep in mind that Voyager was warp capable right before Chakotay took off — and there’s no indication he disabled the ship.

Then, there’s the matter of the shuttle. Chakotay flies it toward the Kazon ship in a sort of stealth mode. When he’s eventually detected, he beams to the Kazon ship and destroys the transporter (though it’s not clear how he knew where to find the thing). Seska then gloats that she has the shuttle, but Chakotay says it’s worthless because he wiped the computer core before he beamed over. Seska seemingly agrees that this makes the shuttle worthless.

But, that doesn’t make any sense. Something on the shuttle would have been usable to the Kazon — shuttles have warp cores, don’t they? — even if they were only able to get the raw materials. And at the end of the episode, there’s dialogue that Voyager was able to recover the supposedly worthless shuttle. If it was worthless, why bother? Honestly, Chakotay should have just destroyed the shuttle as he beamed over.

The problem with an episode like this (other examples include DS9’s “Blaze of Glory“,  TNG’s “Bloodlines” and the upcoming “Investigations”) is that the intricate plots are just too intricate to work or are flawed when you look at the logic behind them. Or, maybe put another way, the writing isn’t strong enough to make the “maneuvers” believable.

Last thing. Voyager is traveling at impulse at the end of this episode. This is something that happens a lot — establishing shots of the ship traveling slowly or not at all — when the ship should almost constantly be at warp on the way back to the Alpha Quadrant. It’s really one of the strangest things about the series, and we’ll call it out again.

“Wait, Federation. You’re telling me the creators will forget about you as a character and the Kazon generally by this time next year?”

Final thoughts

While it’s not a logical gaffe, Seska impregnating herself is arguably the most cartoonish/soap opera move in the history of Trek villains. It’s a somewhat compelling moment and ups the stakes. But it makes Seska look less like the tactical genius from “State of Flux” and more of a spurned lover. Someone will argue that Seska’s move here was designed as a way to get leverage over Chakotay — leverage that is put to good use later in the season. But I don’t buy that. There are too many variables that could have had her plan — if it was a plan — blow up in her face. More on that in later reviews.

That said, this episode does have redeeming character moments and shows, again, that the creators really put a lot of thought into mapping out the Kazon as bad guys. The execution just isn’t there.

Coming later this week …

The Kazon, again. And one of the pivotal moments in Voyager’s history. Really.


Let me count our shuttles to calm my mind. 1, 2, 3... 15
Let me count our shuttles to calm my mind. 1, 2, 3… 15

Chakotay, in a shuttle in private meditation, is attacked by the Kazon Ogla (from back in “Caretaker”). The attacker is a Kazon boy named Kar (Aron Eisenberg, Nog from DS9) trying to earn his adult name by killing an enemy. After damaging Kar’s fighter, Chakotay rescues him, but Chakotay’s shuttle is quickly captured by a Kazon mothership. Kar begs Chakotay to kill him, as he believes he will suffer a worse fate back with his people. The two eventually escape and end up on a barren planet the Ogla use for training. Voyager comes to the rescue and the Ogla leadership closes in, as well. Chakotay offers to let Kar kill him — figuring Voyager can recover and save him quickly — but Kar instead kills the Ogla leader and is given his name by the second in command (who is elevated to the top spot by Kar’s actions). Voyager then goes about its merry way.

Why it’s important

This episode, in many ways, could fit into TOS or TNG (in fact, it’s similar to TNG’s “The Enemy” in many respects). It’s the classic story of two enemies having to work together and eventually coming to a better understanding.

But the episode is especially significant because it provides so much backstory for the Kazon — an indication that the creators really mapped them out as the bad guys for season two. In this episode, we learn more about the infighting among the Kazon sects, about their weird honor code and how their young men are indoctrinated into their ways and how they were once subjected by another race called the Trabe (who become big players in a key episode later this season).

Voyager is often criticized for being too episodic, but it’s clear that the creators tried something serial in season two — and really began it here. We’ll discuss how successful they were as the season progresses — hint, not all that much — but the effort was definitely there, based on the first items mentioned in “Initiations”.

Glad we could finally open that box we took at DS9 labelled "New phasers, do not open until 2372."
Glad we could finally open that box we took on at DS9 labelled “New phasers, do not open until 2372.”

What doesn’t hold up

This is the first episode we’ve reviewed that gets into Voyager’s seemingly endless supply of shuttles. For a ship with limited resources, the fact that shuttles were wrecked so often was one of Voyager’s most obnoxious cliches.

Also, it’s odd that the Kazon Ogla shows up here. Assuming Voyager is moving quickly toward the Alpha Quadrant, shouldn’t they at least be running into a different sect (an easy fix, by the way)? Put another way, if Ogla territory covers this much area, shouldn’t they have been able to find water and not been so stunned by it in “Caretaker”? I know, I know — I’ll get off the whole water thing from the pilot, eventually.

Last point, Voyager somehow got a new type of phaser (along with the rest of Starfleet) while in the Delta Quadrant. In season one, the Voyager crew used the flat-handled phasers we’d seen throughout TNG and in DS9. But, starting in this episode, we see the curved-handled phasers that also appear around the same time on DS9. Hmmmm.

I hope a get a cool name like Cog, or Bog, or Tog.
I hope a get a cool name like Cog, or Bog, or Tog.

Final thoughts

It is interesting that Chakotay (in dialog with Kar) would make such a big deal about how much the Starfleet uniform means to him when he, you know, was an enemy of the Federation who had sworn off the uniform less than a year earlier. This isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s too bad that he didn’t say something like, “I once forgot how much this uniform means to me … ” This is the kind of nod to continuity that Voyager almost always seemed unwilling to weave in — even when doing so would have been extremely easy. It’s not as if a line of dialog like that would have required more exposition.

That said, Chakotay’s dialog with Kar is pretty well done, if heavy-handed at points. Chakotay was probably the most empathetic character among the main Voyager crew (with the exception of Kes) and it’s believable that he would gain the trust of a young Kazon — or, at least, more believable than if another character had been in his place.

Coming next week …

More Kazon Kraziness.


“State of Flux”

"Aim for their hair, you can't miss!"
“Aim for their hair, you can’t miss!”

Voyager, on a mission to a random planet for food supplies, runs into the Kazon Nistrim, a rival sect to the bad guys from “Caretaker”. After leaving the planet, Voyager finds a crippled Kazon ship with a mostly dead crew — the result of an accident after trying to install a replicator from Voyager. Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok eventually figure out that Ensign Seska (Martha Hackett) a former Maquis crew member and Bajoran who had a thing with Chakotay back in the day has been working with the Kazon. Turns out Seska’s really a Cardassian agent who was on Chakotay’s ship as a spy and objects to Janeway’s initial decision to strand the ship. After she’s discovered, Seska beams to a Kazon vessel led by Maje Cullah (Anthony De Longis) and escapes.

Why it’s important

This episode, even more so than the pilot, sets up the Kazon to be Voyager’s main bad guys for season two, which we’ll discuss in later reviews. Seska’s defection and assistance to the Kazon Nistrim is a huge domino. We also learn just how nasty the Kazon can be, especially when Culluh has the sole survivor from the crippled ship killed so he can’t provide any information to Janeway. And it shows the Kazon’s near obsession with stealing Voyager’s advanced technology, another major theme in the coming season.

Finally, while it’s not the first episode to explore this angle, “State of Flux” shows how Voyager’s mission is so very different than what we’ve seen before on Star Trek. That a starship crew would beam to a planet and pick berries (among other things) is at least a nod toward the show’s unique premise.

I could really go for some yamok... I mean hasperat, totes hasperat.
“I could really go for some yamok… I mean hasperat, totes hasperat.”

What doesn’t hold up

I really like this episode, so I won’t trash it’s somewhat sketchy premise too much, but Seska’s ability to get around Voyager’s security systems, steal a replicator, etc., is pretty amazing. It either means Tuvok’s not very good at his job or that Seska’s a freaking genius. Keep in mind that Seska 1) was able to contact the Nistrim without anyone noticing 2) got a replicator to them  without anyone noticing and 3) had an emergency beam-out program that knows to send her to the exact coordinates of Cullah’s ship. The first two points would be extremely difficult and the third would be all but impossible.

"An old Earth expression may be in order Commander. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice..."
“An old Earth expression may be in order, Commander. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice…”

Final thoughts

After a lot of episodes in season one that could have just as easily been done on TNG, “State of Flux” does a nice job utilizing Voyager’s premise. Even if Seska’s abilities and methods are unbelievable, it’s totally believable that a member of the Maquis crew — especially, a Cardassian operative within it — would object to Janeway’s initial decision to maroon Voyager and take action against her. And while Seska wouldn’t be considered among Trek’s top villains, Martha Hackett does a nice job playing the role and is effective when her true identity is discovered.

This is also a nice episode for Robert Beltran and the Chakotay character, who would go on to become the most neglected character in the cast in Voyager’s later years. The Chakotay/Tuvok relationship was always one of the show’s most interesting, and seeing the two of them work together to find out who was in contact with the Kazon was great. Chakotay asking Tuvok if he was easy to fool was a nice moment to end this episode.

Coming later this week …

More fun with the Kazon, and a guest appearance by a DS9 regular.


Hi, I'm the first office and I totally won't be dead within the next few hours.
“Hi, I’m the first officer and I totally won’t be dead within the next few hours.”

A Maquis ship, after a short battle with a Cardassian vessel, is overtaken by a weird energy wave. Shortly thereafter, the Intrepid-class U.S.S. Voyager, under the command of Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) leaves DS9 to find the ship — as her chief of security Tuvok (Tim Russ) was onboard the Maquis ship, undercover — and is overtaken by the same wave and then sent 70,000 light years into the Delta Quadrant, by an alien-looking array. The responsible party runs tests on the Voyager crew — having already done so on the Maquis crew — and sends them all back to their ships, except for Voyager’s Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) and the Maquis B’Elaana Torres (Roxann Dawson). Janeway forms a temporary alliance with the Maquis commander, Chakotay (Robert Beltran). With tensions high, the ships encounter a junk dealer named Neelix (Ethan Phillips) who suggests that Kim and Torres were likely sent to a nearby planet by the Caretaker (who runs the array) in the care of a race called the Ocampa. Neelix agrees to help Janeway and heads for the planet — where he starts a brief and nasty encounter with the Kazon-Ogla to rescue his lover, Kes (Jennifer Lien) an Ocampa captured by the Kazon. Neelix wants to leave immediately, but Kes agrees to help Janeway. Using the transporter, they make it into the Ocampa’s underground civilization (below the Kazon, who don’t have transporters), powered by the Caretaker, and eventually rescue Kim and Torres. As Voyager heads back to the array to try to get home, the Kazon decide it’s time to take over the array. The Maquis ship is lost in the ensuing battle — but all of Chakotay’s crew get onboard Voyager — and Janeway decides to destroy the array to keep it from falling into Kazon hands (in which they’d likely use it to destroy the Ocampa). Stranded in the Delta Quadrant and with a divided crew the episode ends with Janeway setting a course … for home.

No snark, the Intrepid really was a beautiful ship design.
No snark, the Intrepid really was a beautiful ship design.

Why it’s important

All pilot episodes are pretty significant. “Caretaker” sets the stage for the next seven years of Voyager — why the ship is in the Delta Quadrant, who runs it (under Janeway’s command), who are the near-term bad guys (the Kazon) and who will be Voyager’s guide (Neelix).

Voyager, of course, is a funny series in that many of the aliens we meet along the way are never (or rarely) seen again — as they’re so far away from the rest of the Federation. And the storylines often don’t pick up threads from previous series. This is a note to readers who wonder why we’ll review fewer Voyager episodes — especially in the early seasons — than DS9 or TNG.

Welcome to the Dixie... er Gamma Quadrant
Welcome to the Dixie… err … Delta Quadrant

What doesn’t hold up

Well, first of all, why would the Caretaker — while searching the entire galaxy for a way to procreate — select the same spot twice? After grabbing Chakotay’s ship, shouldn’t he move on? We learn later he grabbed other ships from the Badlands. Maybe the Caretaker can only grab ships from plasma fields?

Secondly, there’s the whole matter of water being at a premium with Neelix and the Kazon, as Neelix asks for water in exchange for helping Janeway. Neelix can apparently leave the system in his own ship, so are we to believe that a wide swath of space only has arid planets? Keep in mind that Neelix seems completely unaccustomed to water — and doesn’t simply say that there’s no water nearby. We learn later that he and the Kazon cover a wide area of space. So, can’t they find some planets with water?

There’s also the matter of just how long the Maquis existed prior to the events here. Keep in mind that we first learned of the rebel group in “The Maquis” in DS9’s second season — which was less than a year before “Caretaker”. This will come up again and again through Voyager, but dialog about how long the Maquis members fought together, developed loyalties, etc., hinges on, well, how long the Maquis could have actually existed. Now, I suppose it’s possible the rebellion was around for a brief period before the Federation discovered it in the previously mentioned DS9 episode. But the treaty that pissed the Maquis off was finalized maybe a year prior to the first mention of the group (in “Chain of Command”). In other words, even if the rebellion started RIGHT after that, they would have had like 18 months to forge any sort of bonds. There’s a line from Chakotay later in the series that he resigned from Starfleet in protest in 2368, which would have been TNG’s fifth season. That seems odd, but even if he joined the Maquis the next day (unlikely, as it’s never stated that Chakotay was one of the group’s founders) there’s no evidence that a rebellion existed earlier than two-plus years prior to “Caretaker”.

More on the Maquis. We see four people who were on the Maquis ship in this episode — Chakotay, Torres, Tuvok and the guy we learn later is Ayala (who, to the creators credit, sticks around as a background credit for much if not all of the series). Beyond that, the ship they’re in looks like one of the standard Maquis raiders from TNG/DS9. In other words, it’s about the size of a shuttle/runabout. But, later, we see that between 20-30 Maquis were onboard. Were the crew members we didn’t see in this episode just clustered in the back?

Oh, and, after Torres and Kim are rescued by Voyager, we see them both in Voyager’s sickbay. Somehow, Torres is wearing the exact same clothes she had on before she was captured by the Caretaker and put into weird surgical clothes that she and Kim wear while in the Ocampa civilization. So, did she have the clothes exactly replicated for some reason? Note that this makes sense for Kim, who would have replicated another standard uniform.

And while it’s not a gaffe, the farmhouse “waiting room” that the Caretaker sends the Voyager crew to before testing them has always annoyed me. It’s boring and trite — and it almost feels like filler.

Last point. The relative size of the galaxy that popped up as an issue in DS9 rears its head here. Assuming Janeway and Voyager left Earth AFTER or even around the time Chakotay’s ship was taken to the Delta Quadrant — when Starfleet lost contact with Tuvok — we can assume the Maquis crew was being tested by the Caretaker for like a week, which seems off — considering that the Caretaker tested the Voyager crew for only three days. That is, unless it takes less than a week to get from Earth to DS9.

One of the complaints about Voyager going forward is that it will keep encountering the same bad guys despite the fact that it should be moving quickly toward home. I know Janeway makes a big point here about how the ship will continue to explore during its journey. But there will be a lot of instances where even that doesn’t cover the problems.

Our warrior spirit is as fierce as our hair!
“Our warrior spirit is as fierce as our hair!”

Final thoughts

Other than the goofy thing with the water — and the Kazon establishing themselves as hard-headed idiots — this is a really good episode. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say it: It’s Trek’s best pilot. “Emissary” has its moments, but some over-the-top acting puts it slightly below “Caretaker”.

Some of the most interesting things shown here revolve around the rough edges from the Maquis characters, notably Chakotay, who seems like a straight-up outlaw in parts of this episode but becomes a company man fairly quickly. The tension shown here with him and Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeil) and Tuvok (for the most part) is ignored the rest of the way. One of Voyager’s biggest failings was that it mostly shrugged off the potential conflict between the Maquis and the Starfleet crew after the first few episodes (with some exceptions). As a result, Voyager quickly entrenched itself as “TNG in the Delta Quadrant.”

Beyond that, a lot of the potential regarding an isolated starship with limited resources was pissed away after “Caretaker”, as we’ll discuss. More to come there, dear readers.

Coming next week …

The Kazon’s back and you’re gonna be in trouble.


“The Way of the Warrior”

Damn, Gina.

A fleet of Klingon ships appears at DS9, motives unclear. Sisko’s not sure what to do, so he asks Starfleet to let him borrow our old buddy Worf to figure out what the Sto-Vo-Kor is up. Worf has been on extended leave since Will Riker got the Enterprise-D destroyed and is now considering leaving Starfleet. On the station, he learns that the Klingons are planning to invade Cardassia because they think the civilian leaders who have taken over Cardassia — after the fall of the Obsidian Order — are actually Changelings. Starfleet won’t back the invasion, so Chancellor Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) ends the alliance between the two powers and asks Worf to join him. Worf refuses — setting himself up to be a pariah again — and Sisko works with Gul Dukat to save the Cardassian leaders. Sisko gets the Cardassians to DS9, but a large Klingon fleet attacks, only to be met with upgraded station weapons Starfleet set up in anticipation of a Dominion attack. A crazy battle ensues, but Sisko and Worf eventually convince Gowron to back off. Unfortunately, the Klingons were able to seize several Cardassian colonies, making them bigger players in the region. Worf, without a ship or empire to return to, decides to stay on the station, as the new strategic operations officer. Oh, and DS9 isn’t going anywhere, or something.

“Hmmm. Well, this certainly beats ‘Voyager’.”

Why it’s important

Well, let’s see. A few things happened in this episode, didn’t they?

1) The Klingons start a war with the Cardassians and become entrenched in the area. The war further destabilizes a faltering Cardassia.

2) The Federation-Klingon alliance — which was in place for more than two decades, possibly more — ends. And it sets up conflict between the two powers.

3) The Dominion threat is further shown, especially in the way the threat of Changeling infiltrators has caused paranoia in the Alpha Quadrant. While the Cardassian leaders are found to be the genuine articles — at least, as far as the blood test thing goes — we learn later that one of the key Klingon leaders behind the invasion is actually a Changeling.

4) We see that DS9 is no longer just a key strategic outpost. It’s a FORTIFIED battle station able to defend itself against dozens of ships. Given the crumbling station the Federation inherited back in “Emissary”, the evolution is significant. It’s also somewhat hard to swallow given some comments we heard in “The Search” about the difficulty in defending the station, given its power supply and stationary nature. But, it’s nice to know that Sisko has more to repel an attack than the Defiant and three runabouts.

5)  And, of course, there’s the addition of Worf. Worf’s presence on DS9 in this episode is important, but his actions there in the seventh season change the fate of the entire empire and really, the Alpha Quadrant and maybe more. We’ll discuss that in later reviews.

"I don't agree, old man. I think this knife did a great job on my haircut."
“I don’t agree, old man. I think this knife did a great job on my haircut.”

What doesn’t hold up

The battle at the end of the episode was one of DS9’s high points, but it also is kind of odd. The station’s torpedoes were capable of destroying entire Birds of Prey with one shot! That runs counter to everything we’ve seen in previous Trek, when ships could usually take a hit or two before the shields went down.

Also, where the hell is Starfleet security chief Michael Eddington in this episode? I’m guessing the guest budget was at its limit, but not having Eddington around (or even hearing his name, which would have been pretty easy to work in during the battle) when the Klingons board the station doesn’t make a ton of sense. And we see Eddington in later episodes, so we know he hasn’t been transferred.

This episode is a good example — though not the first — of something we see a lot of in latter DS9: It seems like getting to DS9 from just about anywhere in the Alpha Quadrant doesn’t take much time. And that really doesn’t make sense given the idea that the station was set one of Starfleet’s most remote posts. The initial marketing for DS9 was that the station was “on the edge of the final frontier”! Check that clip, people. It’s hilarious. Apparently, O’Brien and Quark were the intended stars of DS9 … ?

Frankly, it’s hard to believe that Worf could have made it to the station in time to help Sisko. Before his arrival, he was at a Klingon monastery. So, either that monastery was really close to Bajor (which seems unlikely) or the Klingon fleet took forever to gather at DS9.

Which begs another question: Why did the Klingons gather at DS9 in the first place? They didn’t formally ask the Federation for help, so why not simply gather (under cloak) in some place they wouldn’t be spotted on their way to Cardassia? The only explanation is the Changeling in the Klingon upper ranks stopped at DS9 purposefully to try to pull the Federation and the Empire apart. But even that doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Final thoughts

This was probably the biggest “event” in DS9’s history. Even the final episodes weren’t promoted in the way the addition of Worf and the renewed tensions with the Klingons, as seen here, were. Also, this episode really set the standard for space battles — topping even “The Die is Cast”. It’s a remarkable episode as it weaves in so many characters (Dukat, Garak, Gowron) and threads from DS9’s past (or Trek’s past, in the case of Worf). Worf’s addition to the cast, as we’ll see, really worked pretty well, even if it marginalized Kira some in the fourth and fifth seasons.

Coming next week …

We learn that Admiral Cartwright from “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” is actually Sisko’s father and Leah Brahms from TNG is now a Starfleet commander. Weird, wild stuff, folks.