Episode Guide/Review by Charlynn Schmiedt
Season 1, Episode 1
Stardate 48315.6 (2371)
Episode 1 of 168 Released in Star Trek: Voyager
Episode 1 of 168 Produced in Star Trek: Voyager
Production Number: 101 (721)
Original airdate: January 16, 1995
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Story by Rick Berman, Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor
Teleplay by Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor
While on a mission to find a Maquis ship in the Badlands, the U.S.S. Voyager is pulled to the other side of the galaxy by an entity called the Caretaker. Both ships have been brought there because the Caretaker, knowing that the end of his life is near, is looking for a suitable mate so his offspring can take his place as the provider for the Ocampa, a species whose planet’s habitat was destroyed by the Caretaker. When a race called the Kazon threatens to take control of the Caretaker’s array, Captain Janeway destroys it—along with their hopes of returning home. Now 70,000 light years away from Federation space, the Voyager and the Maquis crews must work together and find another way back.
The Kazon, who look somewhat like ungroomed Klingons, were loosely based on street gangs in Los Angeles. The Kazon are not a unified race; several factions exist, and some are friendly with each other while others are at odds. They are only as loyal to anyone as far as the relationship benefits them. They quickly make enemies with Voyager when Captain Janeway destroys the array, which contains technology the Kazon want to take for their own gain.
The Maquis are a group of Federation colonists that have found themselves under threat of Cardassian occupation. Now they are fighting for their homeland. The Maquis are doing what they feel is right, but both the Federation and the Cardassian Empire consider the Maquis terrorists. We will see the Maquis-Starfleet dynamic unfold a bit on Voyager as the crews are forced to integrate.
In the same way that TNG helped DS9 enter the Trek universe, we get a great passing of the baton from DS9.
We also get a wonderful introduction to the ship. We get lots of excellent shots ofVoyager, but (thankfully) not a 5-minute beauty pass a la Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The initial conflict between Janeway and Chakotay is intense. They’re mere inches away from each other and so close to slaying each other with their eyes in some of these initial scenes. In retrospect, I would have liked to have seen more conflict between these two, because when it happens, it’s heated, and that makes for interesting viewing.
So many things feel off with the Midwestern “Welcoming Bee” scene. I’ve never been to the “Heartland” of the USA, but I don’t think it’s anything like what we saw! And why was that situation chosen? Even with a majority of human crew members, not all of them were from a Midwestern American culture background. Also, every single person pulls out their tricorder after they’re taken to the array. Hilarious!
Harry is such a lousy ensign in this episode. Example: “There’s something out there,” followed by Janeway’s annoyed response of “I need a better explanation than that, Mr. Kim.” I guess Starfleet trains captains not to smack their newly-commissioned, green officers when they’re being idiots on the job. Lucky for Harry, I guess. Another example: “We’ve got problems here” to Janeway when battling the Kazon. Well, DUH, Harry. That’s obviously why you called. Could you be more specific, please?
The strained relationship between Chakotay and Paris disappears after this episode. That’s too bad. We could have learned more about their backstory.
First impression of Captain Janeway: When I found out in 1994 that the next Trek series would have a female captain, I was ecstatic. I thought it was about time that happened. But who we saw wasn’t what I expected. To be honest, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a woman with a schoolmarmish bun on her head, hands on her hips, who sounded like she smoked five packs a day. I wasn’t sure what to think about her at first, but she did grow on me. Now, she’s one of my favorite Trek characters.
You know what, I’m GLAD the doctor and first officer died with less than five minutes of screen time under their belts. They seemed like completely stuck-up a-holes. As for Stadi, well, she had to go or she would have ended up in bed with Tom Paris. Too predictable.
I think Neelix gets some unnecessary flack early on. So many things occurred to me in his introduction this time around than when the series initially aired. He’s not the product of Federation stability. He’s not educated and doesn’t have the same quality of life as his Alpha Quadrant counterparts. It’s like expecting a depraved child that’s growing up in a run-down city to relate to a PhD-educated CEO of a major company, and vice versa. That’s why Neelix comes off as such an annoying idiot sometimes. His whole plot to use a water barter to rescue Kes from the Ocampa seems like an ambush from our perspective, but for him, that’s simply how life works. It’s hard not to fault him for putting the Voyager crew in danger for his own interests, but now I see where he’s coming from. Ultimately, I think Janeway sees potential in Neelix and gives him the chance to better himself. She has the tendency to give people second chances. Neelix is just one example in the pilot alone, after Tom Paris.
Knowing how the characters develop over the next seven years, it’s fun to see our crew in their original, undeveloped state. It’s a nice reminder of how far some characters did come, like Tom Paris. He went from being a womanizing criminal to a loving husband and father. On the other hand, rewatching the pilot is also a reminder of how much potential other characters had that wasn’t explored, like Chakotay. The potential is there—I see it—and he ended up so underused. Boo.
“We’re alone, in an uncharted part of the galaxy. We’ve already made some friends here, and some enemies. We have no idea of the dangers we’re going to face, but one thing is clear, both crews are going to have to work together if we’re to survive. That’s why Commander Chakotay and I have agreed that this should be one crew—a Starfleet crew. And as the only Starfleet vessel assigned to the Delta Quadrant we’ll continue to follow our directive: to seek out new worlds and to explore space. But our primary goal is clear. Even at maximum speeds it would take 75 years to reach the Federation. But I’m not willing to settle for that. There’s another entity like the Caretaker out there somewhere who has the ability to get us there a lot faster. We’ll be looking for her, and we’ll be looking for wormholes, spatial rifts or new technologies to help us. Somewhere along this journey, we’ll find a way back.”
—Captain Kathryn Janeway, to her crew
“Perhaps you would care for a bath.”
—Tuvok and Neelix, when Neelix first boards Voyager
“She’s the captain.”
—Chakotay, about Captain Janeway
“Mr. Kim, at ease, before you sprain something.”
—Captain Janeway to Harry Kim
The Caretaker’s mate. She will turn up.
As far as pilots go, I think this is an excellent introduction overall. I like the way the characters are introduced and I like the story until we reach the point where Janeway decides to destroy the array. I would have rather seen a situation whereVoyager’s chances for getting home are ripped away by the Kazon, or something to that effect, rather than Janeway destroying the array because she must follow Starfleet regulations in a place where no one gives a damn about them. The emotional fallout from a situation like that would have been better for the story IMO, with the same ending.
(8 out of 10)
Basil Langton as the Caretaker
Gavan O’Herlihy as Jabin
Angela Paton as Adah
Armin Shimerman as Quark