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Star Trek Voyager cast

A couple years ago, I wrote about the show that I wish Star Trek: Enterrpise had been. Enterprise completely dropped the ball as a prequel and as a bridge between our time and the time of the original Star Trek, by screwing up at fundamental levels of its conception and design. But Enterprise wasn't the first Star Trek series to do this. Its immediate predecessor, Star Trek: Voyager had already started this trend, which has sadly carried onto into all incarnations of Star Trek since.

I rarely talk much about the reasons that I think Voyager is an inferior show to Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. The closest I've come so far was my rant about the Borg, a brief retrospective as part of the 50th anniversary, and a few off-hand jabs at Voyager in some of my other Star Trek posts. This past summer, Steve Shives published a video on Youtube called "What's My Problem with Voyager?" in which he vents some of the same complaints that I have. Steve has some pretty excellent content on his channel, and I highly recommend checking him out if you enjoy my Star Trek content. Anyway, his video inspired me to vent some of my own frustrations with Voyager that he either didn't cover, or for which I feel I have additional insight.

Steve Shives, creator of "Trek, Actually", posted his problem with Voyager on Youtube.

Just like Steve, I want to start by stressing that I don't hate Star Trek: Voyager. I don't think it's as good as its predecessors, but it's perfectly watchable.

When I first started drafting this, it was going to be a short list of complaints. However, as I re-watched the show, the post ballooned with examples. As such, I'm going to split this into several parts. This first part will probably be the longest (so bear with me please) and will focus on what I perceive as a failure of Star Trek: Voyager to adequately build upon the foundations of its premise. The next post will be about how I perceive Voyager as a lazy copycat of The Next Generation.

At a conceptual level, Voyager begins with two foundational pillars: the ship is stranded on the opposite end of the galaxy; and a quarter of the crew has been replaced by Maquis freedom fighters and terrorists instead of trained Starfleet personnel. The show almost completely whiffs on both of these concepts. I would say that there are also two other foundational pillars of the show, but each of these only lasts for half the series. In the first half of the series, a major source of conflict is the fact that Voyager possesses technology far superior to the races and civilizations that it encounters; thus, bringing the Prime Directive into sharp focus and testing the crew's resolve to obey the Directive in such desperate circumstances. In the second half of the series, we have the Borg (which I will be discussing again).

Voyager is isolated and alone, without the resources of the Federation or a starbase.

All four of these are very strong concepts and well worth exploring. Unfortunately, Voyager almost completely abandons its two initial foundations, and (again) completely whifs when it comes to the Borg (though, admittedly, a big part of that is Star Trek: First Contact's fault). The only concept that Voyager really sticks the landing on is the idea of technological disparity between Voyager and its foes in the first couple seasons.

This should go without saying, but you're reading a personal blog. What is about to follow is my own personal opinions about the series. I'm not offering this as "objective" criticism, nor am I trying to gate-keep. I'm simply venting my own frustrations that I had with the series.

Hard resets and the Gilligan's Island trope

Star Trek: Voyager is a show that is very static and flat. Aside from the Doctor and Seven of Nine, none of the characters really grow or develop. Tom Paris and B'Ellana Torres get a little bit of development, but not much. For one, they get married, but other than that, the characters haven't changed much. Tom goes from an ego-centric rogue to a loyal officer, but (aside from a few episodes in which he regresses) that has pretty much happened by the end of the pilot episode. B'Ellana has the opposite problem. She makes some peace with her dualistic nature as half-human and half-Klingon, but this doesn't really happen until the seventh season.

In seven years, the Doctor never settles on a name or is given personal quarters.

The Doctor is one of the most obvious offenders of stagnancy, even though he is also one of the few characters who actually does grow substantially over the course of the series. Despite, the extent of his growth, he still never settles on a name, nor does he ever get his own quarters (as he requests after receiving his mobile-emitter at the end of "Future's End").

Even when something significant does happen to a character, the event never really seems to stick. Neelix loses his faith in "Mortal Coil", but he doesn't change much after that. He doesn't become more bitter or cynical or start going on an atheist soapbox, nor does he become more pragmatic with the realization that this is the one and only life that he has. If you watch an episode after "Mortal Coil", Neelix doesn't seem particularly different than he was before "Mortal Coil".

Significant events rarely have lasting effects
that persist beyond the episode in which they happen.

Similarly, Janeway goes on a vision quest to meet her spirit animal, which is never seen or mentioned again. Tuvok mind melds with a sociapathic murderer and temporarily loses his self-control, with no long-term effects. Neelix and Tuvok become combined into a single entity and then separated without gaining any additional understanding of one another or suffering any sort of trauma or transporter psychosis. Harry Kim is sent to a duplicate Voyager in which the native Harry Kim had died. Kes prematurely goes through her species' once-in-a-lifetime reproductive cycle, which is never brought up again. Tom Paris "evolves" into a giant salamander and has little salamander babies with a salamander Janeway, but nobody wants to ever talk about that one again (even though it won an Emmy!). Chakotay gets assimilated into a miniature Borg Collective, which is only ever referenced in "Scorpion" and isn't even brought up again when he starts dating Seven of Nine.

None of these events seem to have any lasting effects on the characters or their interpersonal dynamics. Watch an episode from before these events, and then watch an episode from after any of these events, and the relevant characters do not seem to be affected in any way. Even when a change is hinted at, Voyager often insists on undoing that change almost immediately. For instance, in the season 4 episode "Prey", Seven of Nine kills a Species 8472 on behalf of the Hirogen. In the final scene of the episode, Janeway punishes her by revoking her access to primary systems. But in the very next episode -- before even the opening credits -- Janeway says "Seven's been behaving herself lately", and restores her access. From the audience's perspective, there was zero consequence to Seven of Nine for her actions! In this manner, the writers go out of their way to stubbornly sustain the show's status quo instead of letting events naturally develop into interesting consequences.

TNG has several events that have lasting impacts on the characters and stories.

Compare this to The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Picard is assimilated by the Borg, and his trauma from that event is the subject of the following episode, and is referenced in multiple subsequent episodes such as "I, Borg" and "Descent". Worf's father is scapegoated for collusion with Romulans, and Worf is subsequently discommended from the empire. This is referenced in numerous episodes, and is the subject of a recurring narrative arc over the course of several seasons that isn't fully resolved until the (pretty much incidental) deaths of Lursa and B'Etor in Star Trek: Generations. Data has sexual relations with Tasha, which is a major point in the trial for his rights in "The Measure of a Man", (which also references Tasha's death in "Skin of Evil") and is referenced several times after (such as in "In Theory" and "Brothers"). Wesley goes to Starfleet Academy and is written out of the show mid-way through. Picard's attitude toward Wesley (and children in general) even evolves over the course of the first few seasons. Then, of course, there's Tasha Yar's death, which is referenced multiple times in later episodes. And we have the Q storyline, the Moriarty hologram episodes, Reginald Barclay plot threads, Vash, and so on. TNG is pretty static (characters like Riker, Troi, and Geordi hardly change over the run of the series), but it's far less static than Voyager.

DS9 is loaded with dynamic events that have lasting consequences.

Moving on to Deep Space Nine... Sisko slowly starts to see the wormhole aliens more and more as Prophets, and gradually comes to accept his identity as Emissary. The entire Dominion War happens. The Klingons join the Federation in an alliance and work closely with Starfleet to defeat the Dominion. Bashir and O'Brien develop a deep bromance despite having initially hated each other. Odo loses his shape-shifting abilities as punishment for killing another Changeling (in self-defense). Jake and Nog grow up before our eyes, developing skills and talents that they didn't have before. Nog even loses his leg in battle! Gul Dukat goes completely off the deep end after the death of his daughter. Jadzia Dax dies and is replaced with a completely different Dax. Kira goes in and out of multiple romantic relationships including Vedek Barail and Odo. The cast is constantly growing as eclectic and robust new characters are routinely being added: Kai Wynn, the Founder Female, Weyoun, Martok, Alexander Rozhenko, Grand Nagus Zek, Moogie, Liquidator Brunt, Admiral Ross, Kassidy Yates, Leeta, even Vic Fontaine and Sloan, the list goes on and on.

Compared to Voyager, Deep Space Nine is positively dynamic!

Can you identify similarly-dynamic events in Voyager? Things that persist over multiple episodes or seasons and fundamentally change the characters? Other than the Seska storyline, or Tom and B'Ellana's marriage, or Seven of Nine replacing Kes in the main cast? Maybe the Pathfinder story thread? Those are the only ones that I can think of, and even those seem to have little effect on the characters over the long term. Maybe Chakotay gets a little less trusting of attractive women after Seska? Feel free to share in the comments if you think I missed anything or that I'm being unfair.

Kes and Seven of Nine are the only characters who change considerably over the run of the series.

This problem of character and crew stagnancy is less of a problem during the first season or two, as the Kazon and Maquis mutiny drama are at their height (even though these were both unpopular plot arcs among the fans and the show's crew). It is also mitigated mid-way through the series when Kes leaves and Seven of Nine joins the crew, and again in season 6 when Naomi, Icheb, and the Borg children are introduced. These characters and events are dynamic and do change and grow over the course of the series. But they are the exception, rather than the rule. We don't, by the way, get to see Naomi grow; we see her birth, then she disappears for four years until she becomes a recurring character in the last few seasons.

Voyager's writers, however, loved to tease the audience with change. The show is filled with episodes that show us potential futures or alternate realities in which considerable change happens. These episodes are almost always undone by the end. They either involve time travel or alien trickery or some anomaly. Take, for instance, episodes like season 3's "Before and After". This episode does tease the audience with a preview of "Year of Hell", which is a clever bit of foreshodowing. It also has characters developing romantic relationships and having children, Janeway dying, and the Doctor having settled on a name and even growing some hair. These things, of course, are undone by the end of the episode, and none of this (save for the "Year of Hell" bit) ever ends up happening.

Episodes like "Before and After" tease at dramatic changes that never happen.

Further, the show often revels in bringing the crew tantalizingly close to getting home, only to pull the rug out from under them at the last moment. This consistent use of the "Gilligan's Island" trope (they can't get home because then we'd have no show) serves to repeatedly undercut the drama -- sometimes in very unrealistic or unbelievable ways.

Even members of the cast have expressed dissatisfaction with how the show (and the characters) were written, and many of their complaints mirror my own.

No attrition

Steve Shives talks about all the above issues in his video as well, and he concedes (as do I) that Voyager isn't the first Star Trek series to feature hard resets and relatively static characters. In fact, Deep Space Nine is the only series that doesn't have this problem.

The Enterprise can be assumed to resupply and repair at a starbase between episodes,
and Deep Space Nine presumably receives regular supply convoys from Bajor or the Federation.

I do feel that Steve misses out on a key point here. When this complaint is levied against Voyager, but not against TNG or the Original Series, we critics aren't exercising a double standard. Just like how Star Trek: Discovery's format as a serialized story opens it up to criticisms that aren't valid against the other series, Voyager's foundational concept as being about a ship stranded away from home opens it up to criticisms regarding hard resets that aren't valid with the other series. We can assume that the Enterprise can stop at a starbase for repairs and supplies, or that supply convoys restock Deep Space Nine, in between any two of those respective shows' episodes, but Voyager sets itself up so that we are not supposed to assume the same for any two episodes of that series. Yet the assumption still holds frustratingly true.

Voyager never retains damage, wear, or tear from one episode into the next.

It isn't just the characters who are flat and stagnant. The ship is too. Voyager never suffers from attrition of resources except in the cases of the few episodes that are specifically about resource shortages. Without the benefit of being able to stop at a starbase or drydock every week between adventures, the Voyager should be suffering from a lot of wear and tear over the course of the series. But it doesn't. Every episode is a hard reset for the ship.

Voyager consumes far more shuttlecraft and photon torpedoes than their limited supplies should plausibly allow.

Aside from a handful of episodes that are specifically about Voyager's lack of resources, the ship remains in virtually pristine condition throughout the entire show. Everybody is happy and comfortable. The corridors are clean and well-lit. The crew isn't living off of ever-decreasing replicator rations. People aren't living with barrels of materials stacked around their rooms because the crew has to hold onto more supplies than the ship has cargo space for. Holodeck privileges aren't being consistently revoked, nor are the lights aren't being dimmed, in order to conserve energy. They pay lip service to conserving their photon torpedoes and shuttlecraft. The limited stock of these supplies, and the inability to replace them is an explicit plot point of early episodes that gets completely ignored throughout the rest of the series, as they seem to magically restock between episodes.

We do see all these things happen. They just all happen to occur in one episode: season four's "Demon". This episode has the crew desperately looking for a new source of Deuterium as the reserves become critical -- even though the previous episodes did not mention a shortage of Deuterium at all. Are we to expect that a long-range exploration vessel doesn't have more than a week's worth of fuel reserves? In any case, people are crammed onto a few decks, with power and life support being cut on the unoccupied decks to conserve power. Quarters are close, and nerves become frayed. But by the end of the episode, everything is all better.

The crew rarely seem to suffer the effects of attrition and isolation.

A microcosm of this problem is highlighted in the season 3 episode "Real LIfe" (one of my favorite episodes of the series). There is an early scene in which Tom Paris asks Neelix for a second helping of last night's dinner because he doesn't want today's prepared meal, and doesn't have any replicator rations. Hey! A character who is actually suffering somewhat from the lack of resources! Except later in the episode, while piloting a shuttle through turbulence, he remarks that he "should not have had that second helping of french toast this morning". "Second helping"?! It may just have been a joke, but this joke about having had a "second helping" of breakfast serves to remind the audience that these characters do not appear to be wanting for anything.

Despite having earlier complained about not having any replicator rations,
Paris later jokes about having had a second helping of french toast.

Add to this the simple question of "where does Voyager store all these shuttles?". Neelix's shuttle is presumably just being stored in the shuttle bay along with whatever shuttles were already there. Eventually, we also have the [much larger] Delta Flyer sitting in the shuttle bay as well. Voyager isn't a big ship. It's not much longer than the original Enterprise (which only stored 2 shuttles), though it does, admittedly, make much more efficient use of its length. Still, Voyager is considerably smaller than the Enterprise-D, and simply shouldn't have the space to house more than just two or four shuttles.

Then you have the Delta Flyer being destroyed in one episode and rebuilt the next. Voyager isn't the first Star Trek to make this mistake. The Defiant gets blown up during Deep Space Nine's Dominion War, only to have Starfleet recommission a new Defiant a few episodes later, rendering the ship's sacrifice moot. Similarly, the refit Enterprise was self-destructed in The Search For Spock, only to be replaced by the Enterprise-A at the end of The Voyage Home. To the movies' credit, the crew had to rough-it throughout all of Star Trek IV in a hijacked Klingon Bird of Prey, and when the Enterprise-A was made the butt of jokes in The Final Frontier by being a hobbled-together piece of junk that barely worked. So the loss of the original Enterprise was felt for quite a while.

The early seasons do pay frequent lip-service to resource shortages.

Every now and then, a single episode makes a big deal about Voyager having to stop at a planet in order to restock supplies, and every now and then, a single episode is explicitly about running low on energy or supplies. But by next episode, all's right again. Every episode just feels like another day on the job for the Starfleet crew. Despite the show's premise, and the frequent lip service paid to the idea, the crew rarely (if ever) really feels lost, or stranded, or desperate.

This may actually be one (of many) lessons that Enterprise learned from Voyager, as that show actually does feature some attrition to the ship and crew that helps to make Enterprise feel alone and isolated, being the first long-distance exporatory vessel built by Starfleet. While I don't particularly like Enterprise for its departure from mainline Trek canon and other bad writing decisions (!cough! the Temporal Cold War !cough!), it may actually be a better drama than Voyager because of details like this. For example, in an early episode of Enterprise's second season, the ship is struck (and severely damaged) by a cloaked Romulan mine. Set aside the fact that the cloaking device should not have existed yet.

Enterprise may have learned some lessons from the failures of Voyager,
as damage from a Romulan mine in one episode must be repaired in the following episode.

The following episode sees Enterprise stopping at a mysterious alien space dock in order to repair the damage from the mine, while Malcolm has to go through physical therapy to heal the leg that was impaled by the mine's magnetic feet. Having little details like this ups the stakes for the characters because it tells the audience that the things that happen will have lasting consequences. That follow-up episode, Dead Stop happens to be one of my favorite episodes of Enterprise. So even though Enterprise disappointed me in many ways, it at least had a solid sense of continuity between its episodes.

One big, happy terrorist crew

The second foundational pillar of Voyager is the inclusion of the Maquis crew members. This seems to be an effort by the producers and writers to resolve a problem that plagued writers since The Next Generation: Gene Roddenberry's vision of a future in which all of humanity works together and gets along precluded inter-character conflict and severely limited the number of dramatic stories that could be told. Deep Space Nine resolved this problem by centering its show on a space station that acted as a crossroads in space that numerous aliens routinely visited. A large fraction of that show's characters were exotic aliens who often didn't get along with the Starfleet personnel.

Voyager tried to do this by combining Voyager's crew with the crew of a smaller freedom fighter / terrorist ship. The two crews would be integrated, but some conflicts between the Maquis crew and the Starfleet commanders (particularly Janeway and Tuvok) cropped up occasionally. This only shows up a few times, however, and is completely dropped after the second season with two minor [incidental] exceptions.

The Maquis are pretty much dropped as a concept after the second season,
except for rare episodes like "Worst Case Scenario".

Season three's "Worst Case Scenario" actually tease us with something that should have been an ongoing plot thread throughout the series: the threat of a Maquis mutiny. Season six's "The Voyager Conspiracy", and season seven's "Repression" basically exist to remind the audience that the Maquis are even a thing anymore. Pretty much the only thing that Voyager sticks the landing on with regard to the Maquis concept is the Lon Suder storyline, in which Suder commits a murder and is rehabilitated by a mind meld from Tuvok. This storyline persists throughout much of season two and is one of the few Voyager plot threads that actually persists over multiple episodes.

The only other minor plot thread involving the Maquis crew involves Tuvok training a set of misfits to be security officers. Like so many others, this thread is dropped. A couple of these characters (particularly the Bolian Chell) do pop up from time to time with speaking lines, but there's never any reference to them being on the security detail. They aren't Voyager's first line of defense against Hirogen invaders, nor are they sent onto Borg ships as a strike force. In fact, it took the [non-canon] video game Elite Force, to further flesh out this plot point.

Aside from these stand-alone episodes, almost no screen time is assigned to exploring how the crews would be integrated, or the conflicts that this may create. Chakotay and Torres are the only major Maquis characters, and the only other Maquis characters who have recurring roles are Seska, Lon Suder, and Jonas (all of whom are killed in the beginning of the third season), and the security officers who Tuvok trains (who barely appear after the second season).

Maquis are only mentioned in passing
during the second half of the series.

Worse yet, the fate of these characters is never reconciled at the end of the show. When Voyager regains communication with Starfleet, there's hardly any fuss over the fact that Maquis crew are on board. Nobody talks about having to court martial or imprison them, or to extradite them to the Cardassians, or anything. Chakotay gets a letter telling him that the Cardassians had wiped out all of the remaining Maquis (with the help of the Dominion). "Well, I guess that takes care of that plot thread on which the entire show was supposed to be based! Let's wash our hands of it."

Guest characters are minimized

Voyager rarely bothers to allow guest characters to have prominent recurring roles in general. About the only exceptions are a couple villains like Maj Cullah and the Borg Queen. There's a few holodeck characters who show up two or three times, but they are insignificant.

Maj Cullah (season 2) and the Borg Queen (seasons 5-7) are the only recurring villains!

The show also never bothers to elevate any background characters into more prominent roles. Being stuck and isolated, on the other side of the galaxy, in a relatively small ship with only 140 other people should have resulted in a very intimate setting and workplace. Everybody on the ship should have known pretty much everybody else, and the audience should have been more familiar with a larger number of the crew. Voyager teases at this with crew members like Jonas, Vorik, Wildman, and Carey, but never gives any of these characters more than a handful of appearances, usually in background roles. The Delaney sisters are mentioned on numerous occasions (mostly by Tom and Harry, who both try repeatedly to date one or both sisters), but they only ever appear in a single episode. Having members of the main crew pursue relationships with other crew members would have been a great way to introduce new characters into the show -- similar to Keiko O'Briend or Kassidy Yates in DS9. Instead, Voyager hooks up Tom Paris with B'Ellana, and that's it.

Vorik may be the most prolific guest character, while the poor Delaney sisters only get a single appearance.

Very few of the Maquis have recurring roles. The only notable exceptions are Seska and Suder, and Jonas has a minor background role as Seska's liaison with Voyager. After the first few episodes, when Carey disappears for the remaining 90% of the series until they decide to kill him in the fifth-to-last episode for no good reason, we also hear nothing about any of the Starfleet officers who may have been replaced by Maquis. The ship feels like it's being manned by about 10 or 12 people.

Nobody else on Voyager is qualified to be a nurse?

Even in the few cases in which Voyager actually needs a character to fill a recurring role, they use an existing character instead of introducing a new one. Despite being the full-time pilot, Janeway elects to assign Tom Paris to be the one and only nurse after Kes leaves the ship. You're telling me that Tom Paris was the only person on the entire ship qualified to be a nurse? They couldn't pull a crew member from one of the lower decks? What about the Maquis crew? Did they not have a doctor or a medic on board who could have filled the role of nurse? What about Ensign Wildman? She is seen occasionally assisting the Doctor in sickbay.

And don't get me started on the question of where Tom finds the time to be the full-time pilot, part-time nurse, holo-program author, Captain Proton, antique-restorer, and still find time to spend with B'Elanna. There are a couple episodes about him failing to manage his time, but again, it all feels incidental and unconsequential.

Recurring roles like the transporter chief and night shift are never given any characterization -- or even names!

What about other recurring roles that could have been perfect for a recurring guest character? Roles like Transporter Chief, Ship's Counselor, a sous chef for Neelix, or any of the night shift crew? We see some of the night shift's bridge crew a few times, but I don't think any of them are ever named.

Who the heck writes "Ensign Jetal" on a birthday cake?!

Even characters who are supposedly very close to the main characters, like the aforementioned Delaney Sisters, rarely appear. In the season five episode "Latent Image", we are introduced to Ensign Jetal, who is friendly enough with the entire main cast that they all gather in the mess hall for a surprise birthday party, yet we've never heard of this character before! Heck, they don't even write her first name on her birthday cake. The cake says "Happy Birthday Ensign Jetal". Who the heck does that?! How impersonal! Did the writers even bother to give her a first name?

A similar situation occurs in the season six episode "Ashes To Ashes", in which a resurrected Lyndsay Ballard returns to Voyager. She had apparently been in an intimate relationship with Harry Kim before she had died, but this episode is the first that the audience had heard about it.

Equinox crew never get recurring guest roles.

Even when Voyager takes on some of the crew of the Equinox (another Starfleet ship captured by the Caretaker and lost in the Delta Quadrant), not a single one of those characters is rotated into the main cast, or even gets a substantial guest role. In fact, I don't think a single one of those characters ever shows up or is mentioned again! Had Voyager followed the same writing philosophy as Deep Space Nine, the Equinox storyline would have been stretched out as a season-long plot arc that would have slowly built tension before finally coming to a head and being resolved in a multi-episode arc.

A ship full of redshirts

Why does it matter? Well, it makes the vast majority of Voyager's crew feel disposable. They might as well all be redshirts. But since Voyager is lost and can't replenish its crew with trained Starfleet officers, every loss is that much more important. I don't mean to devalue the lives of the "redshirts" of the Original Series and Next Generation (that would be cruel), but they are replaceable. Voyager's crew isn't.

Further, because we never get to know any of these characters, their deaths (when they do happen) are meaningless. Again, look at the death of Joe Carey. We haven't seen the guy since the first season (aside from a couple alternate timeline appearances in seasons 6 and 7 to remind us that he ever existed), so when "Friendship One" makes a big deal about his death, it rings mostly hollow for the audience -- barely different than any of the other incidental characters who have died. Compare this to the deaths of characters like Tasha Yar (TNG) or Jadzia Dax (DS9), or even to a relatively minor character like Ziyal (DS9)! The audience feels those deaths, and we feel for the other characters who mourn those deaths, because we've become attached to those characters. Can you honestly tell me that you didn't feel bad for [friggin'] Gul Dukat (of all people) when Ziyal died?!

Limited screen time makes Carey's death ring hollow compared to Yar or Ziyal.

And Voyager had other chances to introduce new, original characters by taking on other strays that they meet along their journeys. There's the aforementioned Equinox crew who never appear again. They have Neelix, Kes, and Seven of Nine (then later Icheb and the other Borg children). Why couldn't they have picked up an exiled or disgraced Kazon? Or a Vidiian who would spend the entire series fighting or recovering from the Phage? Or have Lon Suder be present for more of the series (instead of just his half-season arc)? These characters would have had a lot more potential, as they would have given us more insight into these cultures. It certainly would have been a lot more original than the stock Vulcan and Klingon characters that we've already seen in previous Trek series.

Bringing in a disgraced Kazon, Vidiian recovering from the Phage, or a sociopathic terrorist and murderer
would have been more interesting and novel than the stock Vulcan and Klingon characters that we did get.

Voyager picked up strays like Neelix and Kes in the first episode, so I see no reason why they couldn't have picked up other strays as the series progressed. If Neelix's role as a "guide" actually was relevant and important to the ship, then it would have made sense for Voyager to occasionally invite some other alien individuals to act as guides after the ship passed beyond the regions of space that Neelix was familiar with. There was actually a whole episode about just this very thing, with Neelix panicking to acquire a map out of fear that Janeway would kick him off the ship because he wasn't useful anymore. Having to bring on native guides every so often would have allowed Voyager to keep a rotation of eclectic guest characters for a season or two.

In fact, the aforementioned need for a nurse would have been a great excuse to introduce a Delta Quadrant native, as Voyager would have benefited from having a well-traveled nurse or doctor who is familiar with Delta Quadrant species and endemic diseases. In fact, this is one of many lessons that Enterprise may have learned from Voyager, as that show includes an alien doctor who does have more familiarity with the aliens and diseases that the crew may encounter than a human doctor would have been.

Instead, however, they just have Seven of Nine invent her fancy Astrometrics lab, which (along with her encyclopedic Borg knowledge) negates the need for a native guide.

Seven's Astrometrics lab (and encyclopedic Borg knowledge) negates the need for maps or alien guides.

The other pillars: the Kazon, the Borg, and the Prime Directive

Being lost in the Delta Quadrant also means that Voyager was forced to have frequent contact with exotic, hostile aliens -- many of whom had radically different levels of technology. This is maybe the one area where Voyager successfully follows-through on a concept that it sets up in its premier -- but only for the first two seasons.

Being unable to grant access to technology that might upset the balance of power in a region is a recurring topic in the early seasons of Voyager. This leads to conflict with the overarching villains of most of the first two seasons of Voyager, the Kazon. Of course, Voyager still encounters aliens with advanced technology (such as replicators, holodecks, transporters, and so on), which only begs the question of why the Kazon aren't taking the technology from those aliens instead of pursuing Voyager. In fact, I don't think we ever see the Kazon and the Viidians interact.

Janeway is willing to offer holodeck technology to the Hirogen, but not replicators to the Kazon?

Janeway is willing to grant holodeck technology to the Hirogen, but she won't give replicators to the Kazon? I guess she thinks that the Hirogen aren't much of an influence on the galactic region's balance of power? But if they do limit their disparate interstellar hunts in order to re-centralize their society around holgraphic hunts, then they might actually start building something like an empire.

This is one of the areas in which Voyager makes the Prime Directive more confusing than it should be. Starfleet's General Order One is intended to prevent the contamination of developing cultures, but it isn't intended to preclude official diplomatic action or trade. If the Prime Directive were that strict, then there would be no Federation because asking another culture to join the Federation (and submit to Federation law) would be a "contamination" of their culture.

Are the Kazon really so different from the Bajorans
that they don't qualify for Federation aid?

The Kazon may not be as technologically developed as the Federation, but they are still a warp-capable, space-faring civilization on par with any member state that the Federation chooses to share its technology with. At the same time that Voyager is denying replicator technology to the Kazon, the Federation is actively providing aid to Bajor, administering their space station, sharing technology with them, and petitioning them to join the Federation. Are the Kazon really that much different than the Bajorans, that they don't deserve to be able to diplomatically petition for Federation aid?

I guess Voyager is just one ship, and isn't authorized to trade technology to the Kazon; whereas, the Bajorans are able to petition the Federation council? Still, that doesn't explain why giving holodeck technology to the Hirogen isn't a violation. Or maybe it is and Janeway just doesn't care aymore?

Voyager makes the Borg un-threatening

After three seasons, however, Voyager has long since left the Kazon's sphere of influence, and they get stuck facing the primary antagonist of the rest of the series: the Borg. I'm not going to talk too much about the Borg. I've already written an entire post about the Borg. It's an old post, and not exactly my best work, but I stand by most of the points.

The Borg are over-utilized and their threat is completely diminished.

Put simply, Voyager picks up where Star Trek: First Contact left off and completely, and utterly destroy the Borg as a compelling and threatening villain through sheer overexposure. And that's before Voyager is given magic future Batmobile armor that makes them impervious to Borg weapons, and magic future torpedoes that blow up entire cubes in a single volley. Like the Daleks of Doctor Who, the Borg are defeated so many times that they cease to be threatening or frightening.

Keep in mind that Voyager enters Borg space in the season three finale, "Scorpion", and then is thrown clear of it by Kes' magic powers in the second episode of season four. That's the very next episode after the end of the "Scorprion" story! Yet the writers still insist on having Voyager encounter the Borg every season from here on out.

Kes throws Voyager clear of Borg space in the very next episode after entering Borg space.

Voyager's problems with picking up where The Next Generation left off isn't limited to the appearance and depiction of the Borg. In fact, in my next post, I am going to talk about how I feel Voyager tried too hard to be a Next Gen copy-cat. Hope to see you then!

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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