Star Trek: Voyager in Retrospect

One of the curious things about adulthood is the way in which aspects of our childhood tend to slip into it, especially when we get particularly stressed out or fatigued. In conversation today, I mentioned that, when I'm sick, my go-to nostalgia trip is to watch episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.

Some may wonder as to that particular choice. There are trekkies who believe either Next Generation or Deep Space Nine to be the pinnacle of the franchise. Voyager is fairly widely believed to be where the series went wrong. I disagree with this analysis.

I explain the series respective quality in the following way: imagine I am plotting the quality of the episodes of each respective series over time.

With Next Generation, we see a line that steadily rises over the course of seven seasons, creating a fairly linear plot. There's a bit of fluctuation in the line, but not much. The bad episodes aren't so much "bad" as mediocre, and there are a couple of greats that stand out, but, on the whole, the good episodes don't stand out that much against the average.

With Deep Space Nine, we see a line that starts out just under the spot where Next Generation ended, then trends slightly downward for two seasons before promptly falling off a cliff. Deep Space Nine grew enamored of a series-spanning plot arc that was never, in my opinion, very good, and only got worse the longer it proceeded.

Voyager is a conundrum. When we plot its episodes' quality over time, no line emerges. What we see instead is a scatter plot. Episodes whose stories represent moments of genius, those which approach Next Generation's best, are often book-ended by episodes whose quality falls far below the worst outings of either Next Generation or Deep Space Nine. Even the level of mediocrity varies wildly in Voyager. It is no wonder that the show gets a bad rap. The gems are relatively rare, and they are evenly distributed amongst episodes that are truly painful to behold. Regardless, I maintain that there are gems to be found.

I have decided to re-watch my ten favorite Voyager episodes, those that, I think, represent the series at its absolute best, and to write a retrospective on each one. Many of these episodes I fell in love with as a child, and to my surprise, hold up fairly well to my adult sensibilities. This time, rather than watching them while sick, I'll be watching them with my critical faculties fully… engaged.

Categories: Television

Tags: Star Trek: Voyager