by Charlynn Schmiedt
Let’s take a look at how overall ratings stacked up in season one…
Episodes that plowed ahead at warp speed (Rating of 8 or higher)
(9) Prime Factors: At its heart, this episode embraces the Voyager story concept – its mission home – better than any other episode of season one. It’s a must-see.
(9) Faces: This character piece is solid in every way, from story to makeup. Roxann Dawson shines as she portrays a fully-human B’Elanna and a fully-Klingon B’Elanna.
(8) Caretaker: The Voyager series opener gives us an excellent introduction to the main characters. While not perfect, the story does a decent job of setting up Voyager’s journey home.
(8) Phage: A strong ensemble piece. We’re introduced to the Vidiians, an intriguing and threatening adversary. The story overall is solid throughout. It’s a shame early episodes in the series didn’t match up to this level of storytelling; if they had, enthusiasm for Voyager might not have wavered so early in its run.
(8) The Cloud: An underrated episode. The a-plot isn’t interesting, but it’s the perfect vehicle for the character development that thrives in this episode.
(8) Eye of the Needle: One of the finest hours in season one. The story seamlessly connects Delta Quadrant to Alpha Quadrant. Had this episode aired later in the first season (or even later), I would have rated the episode even higher. A “will they get home?” story six episodes in was way too soon.
(8) State of Flux: A solid, important episode that will lead to a story arc in season two.
Steady As She Goes (Rating 6-7)
(6) Jetrel: This episode could have been a winner, but it falls flat in the end. We do learn about Neelix’s past, and that is worthwhile.
Impulse Power (Rating 4-5)
(5) Parallax: Character moments are good in this one, but the overload of technobabble in the a-plot is detrimental to the story as a whole.
(5) Emanations: The story has potential, but tackles too much. The result is an episode that lacks depth and settles for mediocrity.
(4) Time and Again: Some may disagree with my low rating on this one, but I consider this episode a weak throwaway that’s typical of a Trek series still finding its footing.
(4) Ex Post Facto: A lousy mystery story with even lousier alien makeup makes for a forgettable hour.
(4) Heroes and Demons: The first episode to feature The Doctor has fun elements to it, but it doesn’t measure up to future installments that will spotlight Voyager’s EMH. The same methodology applies to stories that include a romp on the holodeck.
Warp Core Breach (Rating 3 and below)
(3) Learning Curve: This wasn’t intended as a season closer, and it shows. In fact, an episode of this nature should have aired much earlier in the season. Too bad the writers didn’t swap this episode for Eye of the Needle.
(2) Cathexis: Some may enjoy the mystery more than I did. In fact, I didn’t enjoy much of anything in this episode. Skip it before you fall asleep.
Important Character Moments
Captain Janeway: No one episode spotlights Janeway in season one, but we see plenty of moments throughout the season where we see her deal with the integration of the Starfleet and Maquis crews. Her most shining moment, however, is in Eye of the Needle: While talking to the Romulan scientist Telek R’Mor, she relates to him on a personal level to convey how important his help would be to her crew when professionalism achieves little success. This displays the compassionate person behind the captain with a tough mission on her shoulders. We also learn how important coffee is to her daily regimen.
Commander Chakotay: Aside from his Native American roots and his Maquis past, the next important thing about Chakotay is his relationships with women. We learn that he had a shaky but intimate relationship with Seska, who has manipulated him well in the past and will continue to do so in season two. We see a tender moment between Janeway and Chakotay in The Cloud, where Chakotay helps his captain find her animal guide. The two build a strong rapport that will only grow in future seasons.
Lieutenant Tuvok: As Janeway’s closest confidant, it was a major blow to her when he went against her wishes in Prime Factors. However, he justified his actions by stating that he did what she could not allow herself to do, which is a testament to their long and intricate friendship. Tuvok also did an excellent job of playing detective for Lieutenant Paris in Ex Post Facto.
The Doctor: At Kes’ urgence, The Doctor starts seeing himself as more than just a program, and the rest of the crew follows suit. We see Voyager’s EMH contemplate a name for himself, but to no avail. The search will continue, as will his hilarious one-liners.
Lieutenant Paris: For the first time in probably a long while, Tom Paris has a solid friendship in his life – with Ensign Kim. This is an excellent relationship for both of them, as Kim’s dutiful nature will reign in the sometimes-aloof Paris, while Paris’ sense of fun will help the stiff ensign relax once in a while.
Lieutenant Torres: Without a doubt, Faces showed us (and Torres) just how important B’Elanna’s two distinct halves need each other. We also saw B’Elanna change from an angry Maquis rebel into Voyager’s chief engineer, and the struggles that occasionally emerged from these two distinct paths.
Ensign Kim: Most of what we learn about Harry is unusual: he sleeps with a blindfold and remembers being in his mother’s womb. He refuses sex from women who are practically throwing themselves on him. He has a nasty habit of dying (or nearly dying) on away missions. On top of that, he is the youngest senior officer on the ship; oftentimes, his inexperience shines through. We can only hope that his friendship with the more socially suave Paris will rub off.
Neelix: We learn a great deal about the ship’s morale officer in Jetrel, and the backstory revealed helps us understand the Neelix that’s now aboard Voyager. It is clear that he cares deeply for Kes, but he has a tremendous jealous streak that will rear its ugly head even more in the future.
Kes: Wise beyond her years, she quickly finds a place aboard Voyager, both as the caretaker of the aeroponics bay, as well as a medic in sickbay. Although romantically linked to Neelix, some of her finest moments come in scenes with The Doctor, where she urges him to see himself as more than a program and to seek a name. Her emerging telepathic powers will not be forgotten.
Overall: Season One Arc
The Maquis and Starfleet crews coming together is an important element of season one. For the most part, the transition is conflict-free, which is disappointing; the writers could have tapped the potential of this tension much more than they did. We did, however, see a few Maquis crew members struggle to adapt to the Starfleet way of life, and we saw Seska defect to the Kazon.
Voyager’s journey home is another focal point. Although the ship is nearly a lifetime away from its destination, the crew’s dedication toward its goal is mentioned in several episodes. We also see the crew get their hopes up when opportunities to return home (or come closer to home) present themselves in Eye of the Needle and Prime Factors.
Season one is mostly made up of hits and misses. The good episodes are outstanding, but it has it stinkers. In the Trek universe, this is not atypical, especially of a first season.