Category Archives: 2377


Once you go hologram, you never go holoback.

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.

Batmobile armor provided by Starfleet’s Bruce Wayne Research Center™

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.

“Janeway, are you supposed to be my nemesis? Because I literally embody billions of Borg.”

Final thoughts

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.

“Author, Author”

On the holodeck it’s always Movember!

The Doctor has written a holonovel that hits a little too close to home for the Voyager crew. All the names are changed, but it basically depicts the crew as being jerks and oppressive to the Doctor. A publisher back in the Alpha Quadrant is all about distributing the holonovel but balks at the idea that the Doctor wants to make some alterations (after the crew convinces him his work could paint them in a negative light). Ironically, the publisher uses the fact that the Doctor is a hologram to refuse the changes, initiating a subspace hearing over holographic rights with the Voyager crew arguing for the Doctor. The magistrate eventually rules in the Doctor’s favor — but balks at making a bigger-picture ruling about holographic rights. The episode ends by showing dozens of EMHs like the Doctor doing menial mining work back in the Alpha Quadrant.

Why it’s important

To Voyager’s credit, this episode furthers the holographic rights storyline last seen in “Flesh and Blood”. As Voyager ended as a series not long after this episode, we don’t get to see what happened with that thread — but props to the creators for exploring it. The door was first opened in “Life Line”, when Zimmerman (the EMH creator) said the failed EMH-1s were sent to do grunt work after Starfleet deemed them unsuitable.

Aboard the USS Vortex perms are all the rage!

What doesn’t hold up

I’m not sure I buy that the Doctor would be SO tone deaf that he wouldn’t think the crew would be offended by his initial depiction — even if names and appearances were very lightly changed. Otherwise, this is a pretty solid episode.

Connect to your remote employees, no matter the quadrant only with Sisko WebEx™!

Final thoughts

This is a highlight of Voyager’s last couple seasons — perhaps not surprisingly as it focuses on the Doctor, the show’s best character. There are some genuinely great moments, like when Paris effectively guilts the Doctor into seeing the error of his ways (Paris and the Doctor were consistently one of the show’s better pairings). And, really, it was nice to see the crew rally around the Doctor, despite his actions.

Coming next week …

That’s all she wrote for Voyager.

“Flesh and Blood”

Have Voyager send over the holodeck cleaning crew.

Voyager comes across a Hirogen space station where holographic prey rose up and killed almost all of their oppressors before escaping. Realizing that the holograms were the result of holographic technology Voyager gave the Hirogen back in “The Killing Game”, Janeway decides to help the Hirogen hunt the holograms, who are made up of recreations of Alpha Quadrant races. They steal the Doctor’s program, and initially convince him to join their cause — to the point where he betrays Janeway to help their ship escape. In the process, the hologram leader Iden (Jeff Yagher), a recreated Bajoran, abducts Torres to complete a self-sustaining holo-generator that he plans to put on a planet that humanoids can’t live on. The Doctor goes back and forth as far as believing Iden until he finally sees Iden wants to start a religion with him as a messiah and after he kills two innocent people and then — in the episode’s most over-the-top moment — sets up the Hirogen to be hunted by the holograms. Eventually, the Doctor kills Iden (using the largest gun I’ve ever seen on Star Trek) and Janeway lets the other holograms go on their way.

Why it’s important

Well, we’ll start with the good. This episode does pave the way for the hologram rights stuff that’s the biggest continuing plot line in season seven. We’ll see more in “Author, Author” in our next review. Beyond that, it’s good (if you don’t think about it too hard) that the Hirogen pop up again and Janeway’s decision back in “The Killing Game” is shown to have some bad consequences. Looking back, we probably should have reviewed that two-parter. Oh, well.

In the name of the programmer, the code and the holo emitter…

What doesn’t hold up

The biggest problem is that the Hirogen shouldn’t be anywhere near Voyager at this point. The Hirogen aren’t shown to have transwarp capabilities (they come across as primitive in many ways) so it’s unlikely that Voyager — which has moved about 30,000 light years since we last saw the Hirogen in season four — would be in Voyager’s current flight path. But, then, this is Voyager, so I should probably just shrug it off.

Beyond that, the episode takes Iden from an interesting and multi-layered half-villain to a megalomaniac to a revenge-thirsty bore. I could have swallowed the idea that he thinks he should be the center of a new religion, but it would have been more interesting if he had been somewhat forced to send the Hirogen to the planet, where the holograms would have fought them. The irony should have been that he had to make the hunters become the hunted, as opposed to him getting his jollies from it.

Janeway also sort of washes her hands of the situation too easily as the episode ends, particularly as torn up and dead set she was about fixing things earlier. With Iden gone, she sort of leaves the holograms with the recreated Cardassian engineer Kejal (Cindy Katz) in charge. There’s no real guarantee that Iden was the only problem (the episode sort of shows that he wasn’t) and that the Hirogen will actually stop hunting them (despite some fast talk from Neelix that is viewed as a solution).

In a couple stray items, it was ridiculous that the holodeck recreation included a Borg drone, who apparently works with the other Alpha Quadrant holograms. And there’s a weird line from Chakotay in part one about how trading technology is something Voyager had to do to survive in the Delta Quadrant. Must have been a directive after the Kazon years …

Scanning action movie quip database… “Say ahhh!” “The doctor will kill you now!” “This won’t hurt me a bit, can’t say the same for you!”

Final thoughts

There’s some good stuff here, mostly because Janeway does some important self-reflection and because Picardo, Mulgrew, Dawson (in good interchanges with Picardo and the holograms) and Yagher, in his portrayal of Iden, bring their A games. I’d even say it was a very good episode, despite the continuity issues, if not for Iden’s trip into goofiness as the episode ends.

Coming next week …

More holographic rights in our second-to-last Voyager review.


“Unimatrix Zero”

“Trust me, we were totally having a Unimatrix Zero fling. You don’t remember but you had a thing for vaguely lumpy foreheads.”

Seven is pulled into a dream world where a small percentage of Borg — including Seven, prior to her escaping the collective — can live as individuals while regenerating. The sort of safe zone is called Unimatrix Zero, and it’s populated by Borg who in real life are scattered across the galaxy (a cool concept, FWIW). Axum (Mark Deakins), the sort of leader within the realm, apparently had a romantic relationship with Seven back in the day, and needs her help now in the real world as the Borg queen (Susanna Thompson) is closing in on the sanctuary. Janeway agrees to help Axum’s group, as they’re in distress and because she hopes that waking the drones in the real world could start a Borg resistance movement (hmmm). Then, things go really off kilter as Janeway, Tuvok and Torres go aboard a Borg ship with the idea of being assimilated (yes, you read that right). While they look like Borg, the Doctor has equipped them with “neural suppressants” or something that keeps their individuality intact, and they’re able to unleash a pathogen developed by Axum (where and how he did this is never explained) that starts waking the drones from Unimatrix Zero in the real world. Eventually, Chakotay is able to rescue the away team with the help of a “rebel” Borg sphere led by a Klingon from Unimatrix Zero. But the safe zone — and Seven’s connection to Axum, who is on the other end of the galaxy — must be sacrificed. Back on board Voyager, Janeway, Torres and Tuvok are (FAR, FAR too quickly) recovering and Seven and Janeway discuss the possibility that the rebel Borg could have a lasting impact on the collective. One guess as to whether it actually does …

Why it’s important

Well, Voyager’s interactions with the Borg in the final four seasons are all pretty important. This episode at least teases the idea that Voyager might be destabilizing the collective with its actions. More on that, of course, in a moment.

As a side note, Paris regains his rank as lieutenant in part one after being reduced to ensign back in the underrated “Thirty Days” in season five. Sadly, this appears to be a way for Paris to be Chakotay’s de facto first officer while Janeway et. al are on the Borg ship posing as drones in part two. It almost feels like the dialog between Paris and Chakotay in part two was being written and one of the creators looked up and said, “Wait — we made Paris an ensign a couple years ago. Better change that!”

Janeway reflects upon the doctor’s miracle follicle stimulator, and wonders if her skull got bronzed while she was assimilated.

What doesn’t hold up

Well, let’s start with “posing as drones” idea. What absolute and unmitigated stupidity. Janeway, Tuvok and Torres could have easily lost an arm, an eye, a leg, etc. And the fact that the Borg queen isn’t immediately concerned that she can’t hear their thoughts after they’ve been “assimilated” might be the biggest stretch in the history of Voyager — and that, my friends, is quite a statement. As soon as the three were “assimilated,” the queen should have either been able to read their thoughts — which would have allowed her to know their plan and stop it — or she should have realized that the “neural suppressant” was keeping her from having that knowledge and done something about it. You just don’t go undercover on a Borg ship, folks. It should NOT have worked.

Keep in mind that the queen does eventually get through to Tuvok — when the suppressant wears off — but for whatever reason, his knowledge of the plan that she should have accessed doesn’t allow her to stop Janeway and Torres. Of course, the queen DOES get Tuvok’s command codes, and uses them to disable Voyager. Somehow, Chakotay and the gang didn’t have the good sense to change those codes upon the away team’s departure — which seems to have been common procedure in similar situations, dating back to TNG (see “Gambit”).

What nonsense. We’ve not been too kind to Voyager on this site, but it REALLY got into comic book territory in seasons six and seven. Continuity was disregarded, logical stories became harder to come by and Janeway became absolutely reckless. Since the middle of season five she 1) Threatened to kill a Starfleet officer for information and offered to trade another Starfleet ship for Voyager’s safety 2) Stole a Borg warp coil and put the entire crew at risk to save Seven in the process and 3) Allowed herself, Tuvok and Torres to be (essentially) assimilated. And those are just the ridiculous items off the top of my head.

Someone reading this is getting mad and thinking that, in each case, Janeway’s plans worked. And that’s true — because the creators can make them work by disregarding continuity and basic logic. Janeway’s “victories” over the Borg all serve to defang one of Trek’s best enemies. The Borg queen — admittedly, a goofy concept introduced during “Star Trek: First Contact” — becomes the embodiment of this, as she appears more like a mustache-twirling Klingon/Cardassian/Kazon than the center of an absolutely implacable foe.

And, of course, the Borg civil war amounts to absolutely nothing after this episode, as the collective seems just fine and dandy when we see them later in season seven. What garbage.

Shame, creators. Shame. It’s not that Voyager couldn’t be compelling and watchable. It’s just that the creators came across as lazy, unambitious and short-sighted, especially as the series wore on. Hell, even Robert Beltran called them out on this in the final season.

Final thoughts

I think we’ll leave it at that.

Coming later this week …

A (logically flawed) nod toward continuity and a good performance by the always watchable Robert Picardo.