Friday, June 23, 2017

On Rewatching Star Trek: Voyager - Season 7

Because this is the final season, I'm flipping the script so this series of reviews ends on a more positive note. Positive-ish. Just remember, I'm a Voyager fan. It is possible to be a huge fan and see the flaws at the same time, though I realize that's a controversial stance.

Season 7 losers:

"Repression" - Eh, it's not truly terrible but I find the holographic detective work to be annoyingly convenient. It's the Star Trek version of "Can you zoom in on that?" It's The Manchurian Candidate in space.

"Lineage" - B'Elanna goes psycho. I don't care how traumatized you are that some kids were slightly mean to you as a child, you can't reprogram the Doctor (who we've established is a being deserving the same legal rights as any sentient being) to force him to reprogram your baby.

"Prophecy" - Wow, really seems like I hate B'Elanna, doesn't it? I don't - I just have never found the Klingons to be a very interesting species, so these kinds of episodes are a bit of a slog. (And pretty condescending to the intelligence of religious people, too.)

"Human Error" - Shouldn't there be a rule against using your fellow crew members as holographic templates to explore your sexual desires? It seems like a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.

"Friendship One" - Why regret humanity's early mistakes when you can magic them away with the joy of technology? Also, the idea that a probe with diagrams and one Vivaldi song on it led to the destruction of a planet feels a bit disingenuous. The people living there had no responsibility for their own fates? Riight.

"Natural Law" - Star Trek often falls prey to the Noble Savage fallacy, and it's especially icky and condescending here. I have so many un-PC thoughts about this episode, I'd better leave it at that. Also, it highlights the supreme lack of any romantic sparkage between Seven and Chakotay.

Season 7 highlights:

"Inside Man" - Evil Reg? Yes please! Also, I appreciate that in this episode even Harry Kim knows better than to get his hopes up too far. Going home won't be that easy for at least another twenty episodes!

"Body and Soul" - Jeri Ryan does some first-class work here as the Doctor in Seven's body. I've always loved the body-switch storyline, which I think that Will Shakespeare would have milked for all it was worth.

"Flesh and Blood" - A two-parter about the results of sharing technology. The Hirogens have effed up majorly, and created a smart, self-aware race of holograms who can demolish them. When Voyager finally gets home, AI rights are going to have to be seriously revised, and the moral implications of the holodeck better examined by Star Fleet's lawyers.

"Repentance" - So, I put this in here because I like what they're going for. It's clunky and preachy, but Star Trek characters having to respect a culture that still has the death penalty is an idea worth exploring. It's not great, but it is interesting. What if we someday could cure people of criminality? Should we? Maybe that question would have made a better story....

"The Void" - This episode is in my Top Five. I love the way Janeway forges alliances by being open-handed when common sense and circumstances seem to call for more Machiavellian tactics. I even like the little void aliens who learn to communicate with data pads. This is an episode where I fully buy into the superiority of Star Fleet ethics.

"Author, Author" - Okay, I really like the Doctor. So sue me. When his fellow crewmates are goody-goodies, he can be refreshingly human and flawed. (I see the irony, yes.) Here he experiments with writing his own version of a social issue novel (like Black Beauty, but for holograms), putting his friends into a terrible light by using their likenesses and caricatured personalities. It's an ambitious episode that also manages to be fun.

"Renaissance Man" - So I REALLY like the Doctor. It's hilarious to see his lies grow exponentially as he basically starts replacing the command crew one by one - for reasons we don't fully understand at first.

"Endgame" - In an uncharitable mood, I might summarize the final double episode this way: "In which we discover the answer to the central theme of Voyager: who will Seven of Nine get with?" I wish they had just left her single and ready to mingle in the Alpha Quadrant. If anything, Chakotay should have gone with Janeway, where there was some actual chemistry and a believable history to draw from (remember "Resolutions" from Season 2?). Nonsensically pairing off all of your characters is the laziest kind of fanservice.


Further, I'm disappointed in the Doctor's inappropriately young, blonde wife - I wish they had cast an older woman to illustrate his maturity as a character.

But boy, it's nice to see these kids get home in one piece after 172 episodes that were by turns preachy, derivative, smart, fun.... I could go on. In "Endgame" I love elderly Janeway giving the finger to time cops everywhen to fulfill her greatest mission (cough - Ahab - cough). The Borg are a superior kind of enemy for her to fight, and a final faceoff with the Borg Queen was the only way to go.

Bravo. Here's to Voyager.

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