Category Archives: 2373



Part one: A long-range probe shows Voyager is finally entering Borg space. To avoid being assimilated, the crew heads down an area with no Borg activity, but stumbles upon a battle between several cubes and a new enemy that appears more powerful than the Borg. The enemy is called Species 8472, and the Borg are at a loss for how to stop them. After Kim is attacked by one of the 8472s, he begins to be transformed into one of them, but the Doctor finds a treatment that would use reprogrammed Borg nanoprobes (salvaged during “Unity”) to fight the infection. Janeway (despite objections from Chakotay) seizes the opportunity to trade the nanoprobes for passage through Borg territory. The episode ends with Janeway on a cube, negotiating with the Borg, with an attack by 8472 looming.

Part two: Janeway and Tuvok work with the Borg to develop a weapon based on the Doctor’s nanoprobes. The Borg appoints Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) to be a liaison, and Janeway quickly determines that Seven used to be human and was perhaps the first human assimilated by the Borg. As the work commences, 8472 attacks and the Borg transport Janeway, Tuvok, Seven and a few drones to Voyager before the cube makes a suicide run at an 8472 bioship. Janeway is seriously wounded in the attack, and Chakotay takes over and decides to leave the Borg on a nearby planet after he learns that the Borg started the war by invading 8472’s fluidic space region. Then, Seven forces the ship into 8472’s realm, drawing Voyager into the fight. When Janeway (miraculously) recovers, she and Chakotay clash, and it briefly appears that Janeway has relieved Chakotay of duty. Voyager uses the nanoprobes and fights back 8472 — but then Seven attempts to assimilate the ship. Chakotay, working with Janeway, interfaces with Seven, separating her from the Borg collective. Out of immediate danger, Janeway and Chakotay reconcile and wonder what to do with their newest crew member.

Fluidic space — otherwise known as water here on earth.

Why it’s important

With the exception of some baddies here and there (the Hirogen, the Krenim) the Borg become Voyager’s main nemesis the rest of the way. Seven’s inclusion on the cast is a huge domino, as well, as her presence becomes key in the Borg interaction (and the direction of the series). It’s also interesting that we learn that Seven was assimilated before Picard and Co. encountered the Borg in “Q Who?” That undoes some of the tension of the TNG/Borg interaction, as the Borg were likely aware of humanity 10 years earlier than was previously known.

What doesn’t hold up

Well, Kim and Janeway both recover FAR too easily, based on the Doctor’s initial comments. In both cases — particularly regarding Janeway — the creators didn’t need to amp up the tension as much as they did.

There are also some weird editing issues. At one point, Kes somehow gets from sickbay to the bridge without any sort of transition, and there’s a scene in engineering in part one in which Chakotay tells Torres and Tuvok to “get the captain,” without that actually happening.

Finally, the notion that the Borg needed to appoint a liaison to work with Janeway and Tuvok is pretty goofy. It was necessary to bring our favorite shapely Borg into the fold, but it was still unlikely. Also, the fact that the Borg essentially have discussions about what they’re going to do instead of reaching automatic consensus among the collective is dumb — although it’s something that Trek started doing with the Borg around this time.

Ladies and gentleman, lets give Kess a hand!
Ladies and gentleman, lets give Kess a hand!

Final thoughts

We’ll get into it more in our next review of “The Gift” later this week, but adding Seven of Nine to the cast was a big change to the Voyager status quo. Otherwise, this is a strong two-parter, which made good use of the bond AND the differing philosophies of Janeway and Chakotay. Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran do a nice job in both episodes (though Janeway tearing up in one scene and declaring that she “really is alone” was over the top). The tension between the two characters would go on to be a nice, if inconsistently used, part of the series, as we’ll get into in later reviews.

Coming later this week …

Voyager loses one of its original cast members and aims to bring in anybody who wanted to see a sexy Borg.

“Blood Fever”

"I would ask for an updated star chart for this region, but I believe the only thing I am at risk for getting lost in is your eyes."
“I would ask for an updated star chart for this region, but I believe the only thing I am at risk for getting lost in is your eyes.”

Voyager finds an apparently uninhabited planet with some valuable resources and Torres prepares to extract them. Before she leaves on an away mission, Ensign Vorik (Alexander Enberg), a Vulcan we’ve seen in engineering a time or two, requests to mate with her, and the two fight after she rebuffs him. Turns out he’s going through the Vulcan 7-year mating itch Spock went through in “Amok Time”. Torres, Paris and Neelix head to the planet and Torres begins acting weird and bites Paris on the cheek. Somehow, Vorik’s condition has been imprinted on Torres, and now she has Paris in her half-Klingon sights. Meanwhile, the away team eventually meets aliens who still live on the planet after mastering a way to hide themselves from unnamed invaders. With Torres’s condition deteriorating, she and Paris are about to get busy when Vorik leaves the ship and demands Torres mate with him. At Tuvok’s suggestion, Vorik and Torres fight in ritual combat, extinguishing the blood fever (which is how Spock got over his thing back in the day). Back on the ship, Paris and Torres talk about what happened, with some hints that a relationship between the two might be around the corner. But the episode ends with Chakotay showing Janeway the skeletal remains of a Borg (!) on the surface — apparently the planet’s invaders and an indication Voyager is nearing or entering Borg space.

Why it’s important

The main plot to this episode isn’t all that important from a bigger-picture perspective. It is a nice bit of continuity with Trek as a whole and it does further the Paris/Torres relationship — which would become one of the show’s best nods to Voyager’s premise of an isolated crew.

But, really, the show’s final minute is the important thing here. Discovering that the Borg are close is a huge domino and would go on to be part of Voyager’s lasting legacy — with the debut of Seven of Nine in the fourth season and the ship’s repeated encounters with the Borg up through the series finale.

It was a tough call whether to review “Blood Fever” or the subsequent episode “Unity” — in which Chakotay encounters a group of freed drones who want to return to a lesser version of the collective. But this episode is the first time we see the Borg on Voyager, so it got the nod. And when Voyager encounters actual, real, live Borg, we’ll be on it.

Is that a ritual dagger in your pants or are you just here to challenge me to a duel?
“Is that a ritual dagger in your pants or are you just here to challenge me to a duel?”

What doesn’t hold up

It’s a little hard to believe that Vorik — in his messed-up state — would have been able to disable Voyager’s transporters, communications and shuttles before heading to the planet. It’s too bad the creators didn’t just chalk up the lack of help from Voyager — which is key, as it means letting Torres and Vorik fight is the best available option — to interference on the planet. But whatever.

I do wonder about Tuvok’s thinking in suggesting that Torres and Vorik fight. While it’s true that combat was preferable to the two of them dying from the fever, why not just just stun them or give them both nerve pinches and wait until Voyager fixes things? It’s awfully convenient that both Torres and Vorik end up being done with the blood fever at EXACTLY the same moment.

Big picture, this is pretty cartoony, even for Voyager. The cast pulls it off as well as could be expected, I guess (Roxanne Dawson and Robert Duncan-McNeil bring their A games). And I actually really liked the use of Chakotay in talking down the aliens on the planet. But the idea that Vorik’s condition could be transmitted is, well, goofy.

Needs dat Amok Time music
Needs dat Amok Time music —

Final thoughts

I give Voyager a lot of crap for lack of continuity. But it’s nice that we don’t meet Vorik for the first time in this episode and that he doesn’t go away after it. Although he mostly shows up in the third and fourth seasons, we see Vorik again in the seventh season. So, I’ll give the creators a mild pat on the back on this one. Plus, Enberg can do the Vulcan thing pretty well.

It is interesting that Voyager — much like DS9 in the middle years — was seeking to reinvent itself. After a second season that wasn’t well received, Voyager brought back one of Trek’s best baddies in the Borg, who were recurring villains the rest of the series. In a way, that decision made Voyager even more “TNG in the Delta Quadrant.” But given the bad execution during the Kazon years, it might have been the best choice.

Coming next week …

The Borg. For reals, this time.

Dunh. Dunh. Dunnnnnnnnn
Dunh. Dunh. Dunnnnnnnnn


“The Q and the Grey”

Ask your doctor if Q-alis is right for you.
Ask your doctor if Q-alis is right for you.

Q returns and wants to get busy with Janeway (um), complete with a heart-shaped bed (not a good sign). He eventually tells her the instability brought on by the suicide of the other Q in “Death Wish” has started a civil war (all right), with Normal Q on the rebellious side (fair enough). He wants Janeway’s help to create a child (excuse me?) to be a sort of messiah that all the Q can unite around (wait, what?). Then, Q’s old flame — a Q played by Trek favorite Suzie Plakson — shows up on the ship calling Janeway a “dog” and a bunch of other ridiculous things (oh, help me, Rhonda). A bunch of supernovas are happening around Voyager — apparently, caused by the fighting in the Continuum (weird) — and Normal Q transports himself and Janeway to the Continuum, represented to Janeway as the American Civil War (no, no, no). Female Q helps Chakotay get the ship into the Continuum (unlikely) where the crew, armed with Q weapons (oh, please) helps save Normal Q and Janeway from a firing squad (can I get my check?). Then, the fighting ends and Normal Q and Female Q decide to mate (which they could have done in the first frakking place). Back on the ship, Q shows up with what appears to be a human infant in a Starfleet uniform (baby cuteness aside, gah) and asks Janeway to be the godmother (huh?) and says she might need to babysit sometime (get my gun). Roll credits (thank goodness).

Why it’s important

Well, the Q are sort of like gods, and there’s a civil war among gods because of Voyager’s (reasonable) actions a year earlier. Given Q’s importance in second-generation Trek, a civil war among the Q is a really important, really cool concept.

But, what a disaster of a way to do it. Easily one of Trek’s biggest misfires.

Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn how silly this premise is. And neither do the writers.
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn how silly this premise is. And neither do the writers.

What doesn’t hold up

I don’t even know where to start. Well, yes I do.

Q (thanks in large part to the wonderful John de Lancie) is a great part of second-generation Star Trek. He brings humor to shows that could often be too stodgy (particularly TNG) and often infused a meta quality (like playing the part of fans and commenting on Riker’s beard). Indeed, some Q episodes are great, like “Q Who”, “Tapestry”, “All Good Things … “ and “Death Wish”. But others are only saved from being awful by de Lancie and his ability to spar with Patrick Stewart or Kate Mulgrew. See DS9’s “Q-Less”, or TNG’s “Hide and Q” and (arguably the worst showing) “Qpid”.  This episode isn’t quite as bad as that one, but “The Q and the Grey” is a great example of where Q episodes can go wrong.

Essentially, Q’s antics become too ridiculous and he (and/or the Q, generally) end up looking not all that all-powerful. It was trippy and cool when the Continuum was represented as a small town along a desert road in “Death Wish”. It’s just ridiculous that the Voyager crew, inside the Continuum, could use Q weapons and actually turn the tide in a battle represented by an American Civil War venue. Actually, it’s the kind of distinction that you can see while marathon-watching TOS, with the effectiveness of an Earth-like setting (necessitated by real-world budgets) depending largely on whether the written rationale made any sense — think the difference between the laughable “Yangs” and “Comms” in “The Omega Glory” and the cool partial Western town in “Spectre of a Gun”.

Bottom line, everything that “Death Wish” got so right, this episode gets so very, very wrong. If not for de Lancie and Plakson (and, Mulgrew, who shined most in episodes where she could banter with a character who had an outside perspective, be it a Q or a Borg) this would be one of Voyager’s worst showings. As is, it’s still one of it’s most ridiculous. Thank goodness “Threshold” is around to make “The Q and the Grey” look somewhat reasonable.

Let's play "Glory or Voyager" screencap game.
Let’s play ‘Glory or Voyager’ screencap game.

Final thoughts

We only see Q once more in Voyager (and in all of Trek) in Voyager’s final season, when Q’s troublemaking son shows up on Voyager — in another example of making the Q too “funny” and not menacing enough. Given the misfire in this episode, it’s not all that disappointing that Voyager mostly moved away from Q, I suppose.

That said, Q does call Neelix a “bar rodent,” so maybe I need to adjust my thinking …

Coming later this week …

Torres has a fever, and the only prescription, is more Paris. No word on the gold-plated diapers.

“Future’s End”

The hit mid-90's drama NCC-74656 coming up after 90210.
The hit mid-’90s drama, ‘NCC-74656’, coming up after ‘90210.’

Part one: Voyager encounters a Federation time ship (what-the-what?) from the future, whose Commander Braxton (Allan Royal) is intent on destroying Voyager to prevent the destruction of Earth’s solar system in the 29th century. Janeway tries to stop him and Voyager is thrown back in time (naturally) to 1996. Once there, Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok and Paris go undercover and discover that Henry Starling (Ed Begley Jr.) is a ’90s tech mogul who used Braxton’s time ship (that crashed on Earth in the late ’60s) to build his tech empire — essentially creating the computer revolution of the 20th century. Now out of ideas, Starling is set to use Braxton’s recovered ship to get more technology from the future. When Janeway tries to stop him, Starling steals much of Voyager’s database — and the Doctor.

Part two: Paris and Tuvok recover the Doctor (now equipped with a mobile emitter from Starling) and Janeway beams Starling aboard Voyager. But Chakotay and Torres — on board a shuttle — crash and are taken captive by (no joke) a militia group. They’re eventually recovered, but not before Starling escapes and leaves in his stolen time ship — intent on going into the future to recover more technology “for the betterment of mankind.” The crew eventually stops him and resets everything to where Braxton (with no knowledge of the events of the two-parter) comes from the future to investigate Starling’s time anomaly. All is set right — but Braxton tells Janeway that the Temporal Prime Directive won’t allow him to let them stay in the Alpha Quadrant. The crew then resumes its long voyage home back in the 24th century.

Tell me more about medicine in the 24th century. I haven't cracked open a medical textbook since St. Elsewhere.
Tell me more about medicine in the 24th century. I haven’t cracked open a medical textbook since ‘St. Elsewhere.’

Why it’s important

Well, if not for the events of this episode, the computer revolution of the late 20th century would have never happened. So, that’s a pretty big deal — and a nice touch by the creators. Beyond that, the Doctor is freed from sickbay for the rest of the series, as his new mobile emitter from Starling allows him to now be a full-fledged member of the crew. As the Doctor was the breakout character of the series at this point, finding a believable way for him to be more involved was a good and well-executed idea.

What doesn’t hold up

Well, the time travel nonsense is just, well, nonsense. Starting in early Voyager and mid DS9, the creators clearly decided that having time travel make any sense was a lost cause — allowing effect to precede cause, etc. This was something Voyager was doing almost immediately after the pilot, so it’s not even worth getting too excited about.

Beyond that, it’s goofy that Janeway would send Tuvok and Torres on missions where they could have been discovered as aliens on Earth. Granted, this happened with Spock in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”, but that situation was different in that Kirk only had seven crew members to choose from. Although I suppose Kirk did bring Spock with him to Earth in the 1960s in “Assignment: Earth”, so maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on Janeway.

Finally, the death of Starling at the end of the episode — by way of a torpedo fired by Janeway as he’s about to enter a “temporal inversion” — would have likely raised flags on Earth, right? Put another way, if Bill Gates just disappeared — after an incident where an unknown aircraft flew out of his office window in downtown LA — wouldn’t there have been some questions?

"Tuvok and Paris: Beach Justice" up next after an all new episode of "Blossom"
‘Tuvok and Paris: Beach Justice’ up next after an all new episode of ‘Blossom’

Final thoughts

This is a fairly entertaining two-parter that utilized the cast well. The Paris/Tuvok combo was always one of Voyager’s best and the Doctor was in rare form in his encounters with Starling. That said, Rain Robinson, the 20th-century human who helps Paris and Tuvok (played by Sarah Silverman, before she was famous) is pretty inconsistent as characters go and almost a ’90s cliche who drives a 1960s hippy van, for some reason. Some of the scenes with her and Paris work but others are just painful.

I did sort of like the irony that Braxton wouldn’t let Voyager stay in the Alpha Quadrant because of the Temporal Prime Directive. In the long history of Star Trek, our heroes often refused assistance to incredulous aliens because of the regular Prime Directive. Turnabout is fair play, I suppose.

Coming next week …

Q’s back and he’s gonna be in trouble.

“Call to Arms”

“Awww. Did Benjamin leave this for me because I took him into Klingon territory when we were still besties?”

As the Dominion continues to gain footing in the Alpha Quadrant, Sisko puts his foot down. The crew start placing mines around the wormhole to prevent more Dominion ships from entering the Alpha Quadrant and fortifying Cardassia. The Dominion responds and sends Vorta ambassador Weyoun (Jeffrey Combs) to DS9. Weyoun tells Sisko that unless the Federation removes the mines, the Dominion will take the station. Sisko refuses, leading to a battle at the station. The minefield is completed just in the nick of time, but Starfleet is forced to abandon DS9, which is taken over by Dukat, Weyoun and the Dominion — with Kira, Odo and Quark left behind. Then, Sisko, on board the Defiant (and Martok and Worf, on a Klingon ship) join a massive fleet of Federation and Klingon vessels, armed for war.

When Shelby said they'd have the fleet up and running within a year, she wasn't kidding.
When Shelby said they’d have the fleet up and running within a year, she wasn’t kidding.

Why it’s important

This is another instance in which the summary pretty much explains the episode’s importance. The long-simmering hostilities between the Federation and the Dominion finally boil over and war begins. While extended conflicts involving the Federation had occurred in the past, they had only been covered in dialog. With this episode, the DS9 creators set a course for two seasons of war that would really define DS9 and its contribution to Star Trek (aside from perhaps the spiritual stuff).

There’s also the quick bit about the Romulans signing a non-aggression pact with the Dominion, the Alpha Quadrant foothold that finally pushes Sisko over the edge. Of course, the Romulans’ place in the war is a huge, huge domino going forward …

The holy trinity of DS9 baddies … watches “Move Along Home” and “Ferengi Love Songs” and wonders what the hell the creators were thinking.

What doesn’t hold up

The big conceit of the episode is that Starfleet wouldn’t do more to fortify DS9, described by Sisko next season as “the key to the Alpha Quadrant”. In this episode, Starfleet’s resources are used on another mission. Hmmm.

Beyond that, I find it somewhat hard to believe that O’Brien, Dax and Rom are the only people who work to figure out a way to mine the entrance to the wormhole. It paints Starfleet, generally, as having a pretty weak bench and really lacking in foresight. Hell, why not bring in more engineers from the DS9 staff, even? Given that Rom’s considered an engineering genius at this point, I guess it’s OK that he’s there …

I’m also unclear as to how DS9 can just be taken over by the Dominion. A big part of this episode involves Sisko getting the Bajorans to sign a non-aggression pact with the Dominion, as Sisko doesn’t think he can protect Bajor in a war. That’s all well and good, but does signing a non-aggression pact allow the Dominion to take over Bajor’s only space station? Keep in mind that Sisko’s instructions didn’t — as far as we know — tell the Bajorans to let the Dominion do whatever it wanted. Starfleet was on the station at Bajor’s invitation. Was such an invitation offered to the Dominion?

There’s also the matter of Garak leaving with the Defiant at the end of the episode. While he would have almost certainly been put to death by Dukat had he stayed on the station, shouldn’t Garak have asked Sisko to join the crew before the absolute last moment? What if Sisko had remembered how Garak tried to use the Defiant to commit genocide back in “Broken Link” and simply kicked him off the ship? And, actually, who approved Garak coming on board before Sisko? I suppose it could have been Bashir, but it likely wouldn’t have been O’Brien or even Dax.

Oh, and finally, this episode, once and for all, shows that Starfleet consists of a LOT more vessels than was implied in TNG (where the loss of 40 ships was seen as a huge blow) or even early DS9. The fleet the Defiant joins at the end of the episode is MASSIVE. Keep in mind that this is the same year in which Starfleet lost a lot of ships to the Borg (in “Star Trek: First Contact”) and at least some to the Klingons. One possible explanation is that in preparation for the war and all the other conflicts, Starfleet recalled a bunch of vessels in deep space. But that’s just a theory that’s not backed by any dialog. And we know it takes YEARS to build individual starships. Maybe Starfleet pulled a bunch of ships from moth balls — which would explain why we see a lot of Miranda- and Excelsior-class vessels in the next two seasons. Again, though, that’s never actually stated.

Last, last point: Did Sisko leave the runabouts on the station? It’s interesting that the runabouts were deployed in anticipation of the Dominion attack (which never happened) in “By Inferno’s Light”. They might have come in handy in this episode — and it certainly would have made sense to not leave them behind. But during the attack, and when the Defiant and Martok’s ship leave, we see no runabouts.

Final thoughts

One character we finally get to talk about is Weyoun, who showed up in a few episodes before this but none that we considered tapestry worthy. Jeffrey Combs playing opposite of Marc Alaimo‘s Dukat (along with Casey Biggs‘ Damar) into next season is one of DS9’s high points, as they have great chemistry. Combs, of course, played a ton of different roles in Trek, but Weyoun was his most memorable.

There’s also the matter of Jake’s decision to stay on DS9. Jake was DS9’s most underused character, despite some good stuff here and there in episodes like “Nor the Battle to the Strong”,  “In the Cards” and (though Cirroc Lofton is only in part of it) “The Visitor”, which is DS9’s best episode. Making Jake a journalist and having him decide to stay on the station, without telling his father, was an interesting choice, but the results were mostly underwhelming, as we’ll discuss.

Frankly, it’s kind of amazing there are so many plot threads in this episode, many of which we’re not even mentioning here. “A Call to Arms” is extremely plot heavy, but it’s one of DS9’s finest hours. Definitely worth a watch for any fan.

Coming later this week …

The war, well, it’s not going well for our heroes.