Category Archives: 2372


Chakotay: Captain, I need to head back into Kazon space... for my baby momma.
Chakotay: Captain, I need to head back into Kazon space… for my baby mama.

Part one: Voyager receives a message from Seska indicating she and Chakotay’s child (spawned without his consent back in “Maneuvers”) are in danger. Chakotay and Janeway decide to go into Kazon territory to try to recover the child, but Seska’s message turns out to be a trick to lure the ship into a trip. The Kazon take over the ship — with only the Doctor and Betazoid psychopath Lon Suder (Brad Douriff, returning from “Meld”) on board — and desert the crew on a harsh planet with no resources. Paris, however, does escape in a shuttle with the hopes of asking a Talaxian convoy for assistance. But his fate — as the episode ends — is unclear.

Part two: Janeway and Co. must survive on the barren planet, which is home to primitive humanoids, at least one dinosaur-like monster and volcanic activity. Seska and Culluh, though, are happy aboard Voyager and are moving away at high warp. The Doctor — who makes Seska believe he has no real loyalty to Janeway and informs Seska that her child is in fact Culluh’s son and not Chakotay’s — hooks up with Suder, who wants to save the ship but doesn’t want to kill to do it. Paris, alive and relatively well, convinces the Talaxians to help retake the ship and contacts the Doctor with a plan that requires Suder to do something or other in engineering, which is heavy with Kazon. The plan works, Suder kills a bunch of Kazon (but is killed as well), Seska is killed in the attack and Culluh takes the child and abandons Voyager. Paris then takes the ship back to the barren planet where the Voyager posse (minus a couple dead crew members) returns to the ship and heads for home.

You think killing my character will make the show better? Hunh.
“You think killing my character will make the show better? Hunh.”

Why it’s important

This two-parter essentially ended the Kazon/Seska arc, so it’s significant in that regard. As noted in previous reviews, the Kazon storyline was pretty much the through line for Voyager’s second season, and there were several other bits of continuity in this episode, including Chakotay consulting his dead father (seen in “Tattoo”) through a vision quest and, of course, Suder. More on him in a moment.

But the events here are essentially forgotten, otherwise — other than the death of engineer Hogan (Simon Billig), which is a key part of a later episode. This two-parter doesn’t feature a time-travel reset that essentially erases what actually happened. But it also could have. The Voyager crew doesn’t seem changed by its experiences and everything post-“Basics” is about how things were pre-“Basics” (minus Hogan and Suder) — other than the fact that the Kazon aren’t popping up every other episode to mess with our heroes.

There's an old earth show... Land of the Lost... that may be applicable here.
“There’s an old Earth show… Land of the Lost… that may be applicable here.”

What doesn’t hold up

Oh, boy. Where to start?

There’s the whole issue in part one of Voyager going deep into Kazon territory to get Chakotay’s “son.” The action is sort of compelling, but the implication is that Voyager is far outside Kazon territory — when we’ve seen essentially the same Kazon faces since “Maneuvers” or even back to “State of Flux” — and needs to get into it. This is a spot where the creators messed up their attempts at serialization, as we’ve noted in prior reviews.

The previous episode, “Resolutions”, involves Janeway and Chakotay contracting a disease on some random planet that they then can’t leave. Voyager departs without them and is actually captained by Tuvok for several weeks. Eventually, the ship gets a cure from the Vidiians (Voyager’s second-tier bad guys in the first two seasons) and recovers Janeway and Chakotay. Then, because it’s Voyager, things are back to business as usual.

The creators probably shouldn’t have had Voyager move away at warp for more than a few days in “Resolutions”. But given that they did — and that Voyager is out of Kazon space after “Basics” — Tuvok’s decision to go back for Janeway and Chakotay essentially put the ship at risk. Without reversing course, Seska’s message might not have even reached Voyager, to say nothing of the fact that Tuvok would have likely opted not to save the child if Janeway and Chakotay were not on the ship.

If the creators really needed to have a Tuvok-led Voyager move away from Janeway and Chakotay for several weeks, they should have noted in “Basics” that returning for them likely put them back near Kazon territory. Or, “Resolutions” and “Basics” shouldn’t have aired back-to-back. Hell, “Resolutions” is a pretty interesting episode — especially for the Janeway/Chakotay romance fans — and it might have worked well to end the second season with both parts of “Basics” with “Resolutions” kicking off season three. Then, some time would have elapsed between the episodes.

As for “Basics” on its own, I’ll give the creators the detail that Janeway would have put her entire crew at risk for Chakotay’s “child,” as she did the same thing to save Chakotay in “Maneuvers”. But I don’t buy — for one second — that Culluh wouldn’t have simply killed the Voyager crew (rather than deserting them) or that the Kazon would be so adept at running the ship. Part two is even worse, really, because it relies on the Talaxians helping Paris — their rationale for doing so is weak at best, especially given how dealing with Paris put them in danger in “Investigations” — and that Paris’s plan would work so perfectly. It’s also odd that Paris is able to find Voyager so easily and that the Talaxians are even available to help him. And why, exactly, did Culluh give up the ship so easily? It’s sort of implied that he’s heartbroken over the loss of Seska. But that’s not in keeping with the character.

Final thoughts

Then, there’s the matter of Suder.

I give the Voyager creators credit for bringing him back after the very good “Meld”, rather than simply having him join the ranks of that weird alien Riker met in “Future Imperfect”. In fact, we almost reviewed “Meld” as the introduction of Suder is key in retaking the ship in “Basics”. Looking back, maybe we should have …

But, then Voyager decides to be all Voyager and unnecessarily kills Suder. Bringing him back as a recurring character would have been extremely interesting. Making Janeway decide what to do with a psychopath who saved the ship would have been even more interesting. But this two-parter (and what we see in subsequent episodes) makes me think the creators decided season two was a misstep and that it was time to wash their hands of it. That we never again see the Kazon or Vidiians (aside from flashbacks) and that Voyager becomes even more episodic (sigh) in season three makes me think they looked at season two as a failure. And, it was — but not because the serialization was bad. It was the execution.

Coming later this week …

More TNG in the Delta Quadrant, but a good example of it.



Didn't think they could make me more annoying? Guess again!
<shudder>LIVE with Kelly and Neelix</shudder>

Neelix has a morning talk show on Voyager. Then, he learns that Paris — who has been acting like a jerk basically since he turned into a lizard or something in the enormously awful “Threshold” — is leaving the ship to join a Talaxian convoy. Almost immediately after, he’s captured by the Kazon. Meanwhile, Neelix uncovers covert transmissions to the Kazon and Janeway and Tuvok inform him that Paris leaving the ship is all a ploy to draw out whoever’s been communicating with the Nistrim — whom viewers know is Michael Jonas, first established in “Alliances”. After a talk with Seska, Paris escapes and informs Janeway as he returns to the ship that Jonas is the traitor. Jonas and Neelix end up fighting in engineering and Jonas is killed in the struggle. Paris makes it back to Voyager — and lets everyone know his behavior was part of a larger plan.

You're going to wear that on a Talaxian colony? Have you seen how dapper I dress?!
“You’re going to wear that on a Talaxian convoy? Have you seen how dapper I dress?!”

Why it’s important

This episode is borderline for the tapestry, but it’s the next step in the Kazon storyline that was so much of the show in season two. It’s also the finalization of the Jonas plot that had been going on since “Alliances”, so we decided to include it.

Happy to see me?! I'm going to lock you in a room with a computer and I trust you'll just sit quietly and await interrogation.
“Happy to see me?! I’m going to lock you in a room with a computer and I trust you’ll just sit quietly and await interrogation.”

What doesn’t hold up

So much of this episode is just ridiculous. While it’s somewhat laudable that the creators built the Jonas and malcontent Paris storylines up over several episodes, the execution, again, is off.

Let’s talk about Paris first. As noted above, his bad behavior begins — and is apparently orchestrated — shortly after his trip at warp 10 turned him into a lizard back in “Threshold”. That episode is among Trek’s stupidest hours and only should be watched for amusement’s sake (we won’t be reviewing it). But, given the timing, would it have been all that difficult for Voyager to use that experience as the alleged rationale for Paris’s behavior? Even a line in the scene before Paris leaves the ship about how he “hasn’t felt the same” since the warp 10 trials would have been easy to insert. So what if some viewers would have been confused for three seconds? Classic Voyager misstep.

Then, there’s the plan itself.

Essentially, Janeway, Tuvok and Paris decide that Paris will act like a jerk for several weeks to justify his move to eventually sign on with a Talaxian convoy. They figure that the news will make it to the Nistrim — and that the Nistrim will try to move on the convoy and capture Paris, who can then discover the identity of the spy and then (I guess?) make it back to Voyager. There’s just so much about this plan that’s remarkably stupid.

For one thing, how did Janeway, et. al, know that the Nistrim would be able to attack the convoy so quickly? We know from previous episodes that the Nistrim has like six ships. What if it had taken the Nistrim several weeks to find the convoy and capture Paris? Voyager, which is supposed to be moving quickly toward the Alpha Quadrant, might not have been able to retrieve Paris in time.

But let’s say Janeway and Tuvok planned for that and figured, after a few weeks, they’d find the convoy and retrieve Paris if the plan didn’t work. Wouldn’t they have abandoned the plan because it put the Talaxians in very real danger? Granted, the convoy commander tells Janeway that no one was hurt or killed in the attack, but Janeway couldn’t have known that in advance. The Kazon are freaking brutal thugs. It’s not out of the question that they would have captured Paris and killed all the Talaxians as a matter of course.

Then, the plan hinges on the Kazon and Seska (tactical genius Seska) being stupid enough to leave Paris in a room with a working computer (where he learns Jonas’s identity). They could have just as easily tied Paris to a chair and interrogated him as they did Chakotay in “Maneuvers”. The plan hinges on Paris getting on Culluh’s ship, being able to get into its computers and then being able to steal a Kazon shuttle and escape. That, my friends, is about the worst plan imaginable. It shouldn’t have worked — and only did because the creators had the ability to make it work.

Final thoughts

I’m not a Neelix hater like some Trek fans. He’s not a great character, but he has his moments. He’s overly perky, but it was actually nice that he got something to do in this episode that didn’t involve making some gross stew or bantering with Tuvok.

Coming next week …

The Kazon storyline wraps up.

“Death Wish”

Hi, I'm a omniscient, all-power being even if I am a bit maudlin.
Hi, I’m a omniscient, all-power being even if I am a bit maudlin.

The ship accidentally frees an imprisoned Q (Gerrit Graham) and regular Q (John de Lancie) shows up to lock his counterpart back up. It’s learned that New Q wants to end his immortality, as he’s bored and he feels the Q Continuum has lost its way — but Normal Q says a Q suicide would have potentially disastrous effects. Both Qs agree to let Janeway arbitrate the matter and she hears arguments from both sides — including a rather trippy visit to the Continuum in a conceptual way Janeway and Tuvok are able to understand. Janeway eventually grants New Q asylum and Normal Q — moved by New Q’s irrepressible nature and arguments about the listless Continuum — helps him commit suicide. Normal Q leaves Voyager, but not before promising that he will no longer be a company man within the Continuum — and saying that he will likely return to darken Voyager’s doorstep.

This was one of those old-timey "photographs" they made of me and Barclay when we took some shore leave at Dollywood.
This was one of those old-timey “photographs” they made of me and Barclay when we took some shore leave at Dollywood.

Why it’s important

We learn more about the Q in “Death Wish” than any episode outside of “Encounter at Farpoint”. Depicting the Continuum as a crossroads in a desert town was sort of brilliant. It’s the kind of sci-fi trick that was often done in TOS, and only sometimes successfully. Used here, it works wonders. This episode might be Voyager’s best pure sci-fi showing.

Of course, the events here start a civil war within the Continuum, which we’ll see during Q’s next visit to Voyager. A civil war among what might be the most powerful entities in the universe is a huge, huge deal — at least, as a concept.

What doesn’t hold up

The episode has one conceit that deserves some discussion. Would the Continuum actually agree to abide by Janeway’s decision? I suppose you could argue that the Q’s sense of absurdity could be in play, but it seems odd that such powerful beings would put such an important decision in a “limited” life form’s hands.

Why am I letting a human judge us. Last time judging was involved it was me in a kickass hat judging Picard and company.
Why am I letting a human judge us? Last time judging was involved it was me in a kickass hat judging Picard and company.

Final thoughts

This might be my favorite Voyager episode. It gives nods toward continuity (which we’ll discuss) and it also asks a fascinating question: Could an immortal, all-knowing being ever get so bored that it wants to die?

Beyond that, it’s a great callback to a lot of what was established in TNG, with a few references to the Enterprise and even a guest appearance by Jonathan Frakes as Riker during the hearing Janeway oversees. Granted, the move was probably designed to bring in TNG viewers — I remember a preview from back in the day in which Riker seems to have a big role in the episode, and he’s really on screen for about five minutes — but the effort mostly works. It’s justified by Normal Q wanting to show New Q’s impact — presumably because not having him around would have bad effects. New Q, apparently saved a relative of Riker’s during the American Civil War. If he hadn’t, our Riker wouldn’t have existed — and the Federation would have been conquered by the Borg, stated explicitly by Normal Q. If anyone thought I was overstating the lack of love Riker gets for his actions to stop the Borg, he clearly, you know, saved the Federation.

Coming later this week …

Back to the Kazon.


Welcome to our peace party. Oppressed meet your former oppressor who in no way is about to double cross us.
Welcome to our peace party. Oppressed, meet your former oppressor, who in no way is about to double-cross us.

After repeated attacks by the Kazon and mounting casualties, Janeway and Chakotay start thinking that they need to change their approach to survive in the Delta Quadrant. They wonder if they can build alliances with some Kazon sects in hopes of getting through their space unscathed. That largely doesn’t work — negotiations with our buddies in the Kazon Nistrim don’t pan out when Maje Culluh makes goofy demands — but Neelix runs into a group of people called the Trabe, once enslavers of the Kazon who were overthrown decades earlier and now are essentially nomads. After an introduction by Neelix, Janeway bonds with Trabe leader Mabus (Charles Lucia) who seems more civilized than the Kazon thugs Voyager has generally dealt with. Janeway and Mabus (who has a small fleet of ships) form an alliance and organize a peace summit among the Kazon sects. But it turns out Mabus actually is using Voyager to get all the Kazon leaders together in one place so he can assassinate them. Janeway foils the plot at the last minute and Voyager escapes — and ends the episode telling her crew that her mistake was going against tried-and-true Starfleet principles. Oh, Kathy. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Why it’s important

If regular readers think we’ve been focusing on the Kazon a lot in recent reviews, it’s because the Kazon are the biggest story thread in Voyager’s second season. This episode furthers that and likely puts Voyager in the crosshairs of the entire Kazon race. As a concept — and given the payoff at season’s end — this episode works pretty well and a lot of the execution (up until Janeway’s goofy closing speech) is strong.

Give Voyager credit, too, for its strong run of continuity. The Trabe had actually been mentioned in the previous two episodes we’ve reviewed (“Initiations” and “Maneuvers”). This episode is also the first time we see former Maquis Michael Jonas (Raphael Sbarge) conduct his covert communications with the Nistrim, which is a big domino in the next several episodes. While the Kazon were not great villains in that they came across as dumb thugs, the creators clearly developed a pretty extensive backstory and plot outline for them. A for effort, C for execution.

It might no be "Starfleet" captain, but it's probably still a good idea to not
It might not be “Starfleet”, Captain, but it’s probably still a good idea to NOT let the former enslavers get the leaders of the people of who overthrew them together in one room.

What doesn’t hold up

The declaration by Janeway at the end of the episode — that Voyager erred by going against Federation principles — deserves scrutiny. While it’s true that allying with one of the Kazon sects would have been a usual no-no — something Janeway acknowledges during a nice scene with Tuvok but something that doesn’t actually happen — can the same be said about making friends with the Trabe?

The Trabe were, most definitely, separate from the Kazon, so forming an alliance with them didn’t really go against any higher Federation values regarding internal politics. True, allying Voyager with the Kazon’s most hated enemies might not have been a smart tactical decision and you could argue that Janeway was too quick to trust Mabus. But things didn’t go to hell in this episode because Janeway ignored Federation principles. They went to hell because the Voyager crew acted out of desperation and/or were bad judges of character.

The episode would have been stronger if Janeway had done a different kind of soul searching before the credits rolled. As it stands, it feels like the creators were looking for a way to justify Voyager’s essential “TNG in the Delta Quadrant” approach as to why the unique premise that they came up wasn’t being utilized. Having the show’s star essentially say that “Because we’re the Federation, damnit!” as an explanation for nearly everything that went wrong in this episode was mostly inaccurate and was an odd meta moment — a rather disappointing one.

Really, one lesson Janeway ought to have learned is that the ship should kick it up to the much-vaunted warp 9.975 maximum cruising velocity until it exited Kazon space. I know her initial declaration in “Caretaker” was that the ship would continue to explore. But high-tailing it out of a particularly nasty area — in which exploring would have been difficult given the near-constant Kazon attacks — would have been prudent. Of course, as the episode ends and after the ship flees the planet of the peace summit, we see the ship moving along at impulse — a recurring oddity throughout the series that we mentioned in our last review.

Maybe Godfather III didn't survive into the 24th century. Or else the wisdom to not watch it did. Otherwise they'd have seen this coming a mile away.
Maybe “Godfather III” didn’t survive into the 24th century. Or else the wisdom to not watch it did. Otherwise, they’d have seen this coming a mile away.

Final thoughts

Basically, this episode is where the Voyager creators took their ball and went home as far as doing anything new and different in a large, series-shaping way. And that’s a shame. Even if Voyager hadn’t ended up being akin to the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica” (which aired a decade later) making the Voyager crew struggle more wouldn’t have been that difficult. A power shortage here, more shots of the ship traveling at high warp there, a lack of torpedoes there, not having an endless supply of shuttles there …

Coming next week …

One of Voyager’s best episodes, as we explore the Q in a truly great, sci-fi way.


“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.