Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Top Ten Star Trek: Voyager Episodes Everyone Should See

At long last I present the actual list of Voyager episodes that will blow your mind. Or at least impress you. You might like them, I guess.

Honorable Mention - Fury

So, Kes... Yikes. Basically, she's the Wesley Crusher of Voyager. Except without the redeeming sweaters. She doesn't do anything but be young and naive and optimistic. There's really no depth at all. Interestingly, though, almost 3 years after leaving the show at the beginning of Season 4, she shows up again without warning. And because her species only lives 9 years, she's super old. Oh, and she's super pissed:

Honorable Mention - Homestead

I've said before that Janeway was a successful captain by running her ship like a family. Part of that meant picking up a few strays who needed a home along the way. One of those was the Talaxian Neelix, who became the ship's cook and later ambassador. In his role as morale officer, early on Neelix made it his personal mission to cure Security Chief Tuvok of his emotionless, Vulcan-y ways, and bothering him severely in the process. Part of this meant getting Tuvok to dance. A few episodes before the Season Finale, Voyager came across a stray colony inhabited by some of Neelix's people, and he decides to stay with them rather than continue the journey toward Earth:

#10 - Someone to Watch Over Me

When Voyager got pulled into the Delta Quadrant, the ship's original doctor died. As such, the newly-invented holographic backup doctor had to take over. Over the years, he goes through a kind of Data-like transition from mere machine (or in this case, computer program) to close to human, and ends up being one of the best and most important parts of the show. One of the big steps in that process was the Doctor's unrequited love for Seven of Nine, which he discovers when he offers his help to the former Borg in honing her social skills:

#9 - Future's End + Relativity

Those infamous Voyager time travel episodes. These are really good, though. In the first, Voyager gets conveniently thrown back to the precise time they happened to be filming that episode. Then they beam down to L.A. The budget's not that big, guys. Sarah Silverman and Ed Begley Jr. costar. The latter plays a Bill Gates-like computer mogul who it turns out has been "inventing" revolutionary new computer technology be stealing it from a crashed Starfleet shuttle from the 29th-century he happened upon while hiking on some hippie vision quest in the 60s. At any rate, that shuttle from from the USS Relativity, which shows up again in a later episode and recruits Seven of Nine's help in changing history for the better. Just solid time travel stuff really.

#8 - Timeless

This was supposed to be Voyager's "City on the Edge of Forever," which is like, the classic episode of The Original Series. It is really good. It has problems, though. The main one being it features Harry Kim and Chakotay's bad acting and shallow characters waaay too prominently. That being said, what a fantastic episode opener:

#7 - Living Witness

Admittedly, the alternate-reality-where-everyone-is-evil deal has been done before. It's still cool, though. This episode features kind of an interesting twist on that idea. Mainly, though, you just get to see everybody go bad:

#6 - Equinox

Of all things, Voyager stumbles upon another Starfleet ship. It's only a small science vessel, though, with a skeleton crew. Turns out they haven't held themselves to as high a standard as Janeway and her crew, who come face-to-face with what they might have resorted to had they not been so lucky.

#5 - Real Life

One of the big steps in that process was when he decided he should have a family. So he makes himself a holographic one. At first, he designs them to be the perfect, Normal Rockwell family. When the Klingon Engineer meets them, she informs him that real people don't get to pick their family, and he agrees to let her tweak the program for more realism. Turns out she does too good a job, and the Doctor has to say goodbye to someone dear.

#4 - The Killing Game + Flesh and Blood

In "The Killing Game," a group of hunter aliens commandeer Voyager and begin using the holodecks to simulate new and interesting environments in which to repeatedly kill the mind-controlled crew. The majority of the episode takes place in World War II-era France, the crew believing they're part of the Resistance, which is a neat change. Of course, Janeway finds a way cut a deal with the aliens and they take the holodeck technology for themselves. A couple of seasons go by and it turns out things didn't work out so well for them. They built a giant holodeck, but the made the hologram prey too smart and they've revolted, stolen a ship, and embarked on a killing spree.

#3 - Endgame

Like Next Gen, one of the big reasons I consider Voyager as a series successful is that it went out well. Besides wrapping it up before it started to go downhill Seinfeld-style, it ended on a big high note with Endgame. Fantastically, the episode opens with Voyager returning home. In a weird twist, it's actually old footage being played on the tenth anniversary of their return, which took 16 more years after the previous episode, suffering gradual losses the whole way. Turns out the aging Admiral Janeway has hatched a plan to travel back in time and bring Voyager home sooner.

#2 - Scorpion

Way back in early Next Gen, when they introduced the Borg, we knew they originated in the Delta Quadrant. When Voyager got thrown there it was only a matter of time before they ran into them and would be forced to traverse Borg Space. This giant season-straddling two-parter is really when Voyager came into its own, as a ship and a show:

#1 - Year of Hell

So, the best episode of Voyager. Guest starring the dad from That 70s Show, who's great by the way. Basically, "Year of Hell" is just Voyager at its best. It's rough and tumble, in fact, it never gets any worse for Janeway and her crew, and that's why it's so good. Everybody (especially Janeway) gets to show off their badassery skills. The episodes cover an entire year of Voyager squaring off against an alien species with temporal weapons, who kidnap Paris and Chakotay. The Doctor has a near breakdown from having to sacrifice two crewmen for the greater good. Janeway gets 3rd-degree burns over 60 percent of her body that the Doctor can't completely repair because systems are so badly damaged. Tuvok goes blind from an explosion saving Seven of Nine. Most of the ship gets straight up destroyed, and they can't keep ahead of the attacks. That's the thing about Voyager, though, as bad as it gets, it's the fact that the crew is a family that gets them through it. That's just about the only thing that's kept everything going this long, and this far from home. (Sorry about the imperfection at the beginning. I don't know what that's about.)

Next up in the Star Trek series: A look at the Starship Enterprise.


  1. I can't say I remember all Voyager episodes, but one of the very best is the episode where Barkley (sorta the Forrest Gump of Star Trek) risks everything to attempt to communicate with Voyager, while everyone else on earth assumes Voyager is history. Great episode AND great character study.

  2. I agree. I also liked Icheb. I like the one where they found his family, only to later find after they left him there, that he had been genetically engineered by his parents as a weapon for the Borg.

    The only one I liked Kess in was the one where some alien invaded her body, and took over, tapped into her mental powers, and suddenly we see all her badass potential. So much potential gone to waste with Kess.


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