Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pulling Up To Pull Out, Who Still Cares? Star Trek: Voyager Season Seven!

The Good: Mildly better stories, Moments of character, One or two performances
The Bad: The ultimate sellout resolution, Absurd character twists, Continued emphasis on Seven of Nine
The Basics: The U.S.S. Voyager continues to limp home, plagued by terrible writing and a resolution that is as baffling as it is unsatisfying.

Star Trek abruptly ended, Star Trek: The Next Generation closed with the bookend "All Good Things . . ." and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine maintained the darkness of the show up until the end, killing off major characters and leaving others lost and alone in "What You Leave Behind." Star Trek: Voyager, then, was leading to "Endgame," which was meant to resolve the storyline of the USS Voyager and in this case, that meant answering the big question: does the ship get home or not? Given the predictability of Star Trek: Voyager and the appearance of Admiral Janeway in Star Trek: Nemesis, the answer is pretty obvious and it's not a major spoiler to learn.

While the Borg continue hunting their own for the renegade dreamworld of Unimatrix Zero, Captain Janeway and Seven of Nine are forced to make a difficult decision to let the Borg continue living. With that resolved, Seven of Nine has a breakdown, Paris and Torres get married, Voyager is preyed upon by multiple characters from the Alpha Quadrant and the ship continues to limp home. Voyager encounters its requisite number of temporal anomalies, malicious aliens, holograms and Borg until it climaxes in a time traveling encounter with the Borg that resolves the series.

Put simply, Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Seventh Season continues the prior few seasons' (pretty much since Brannon Braga became an exec) tradition of gutting Star Trek franchise institutions. Q returns in an episode that is utterly pointless, save to teach his new child-Q the same lesson he learned back in Star Trek: The Next Generation's episode "Deja Q." A prior supplementary character is returned only to be killed and the Borg are weakened more and more and more.

Which will lead me to a real annoyance with the series finale of Star Trek: Voyager, which is exacerbated by having the season all together in this boxed set. In "Endgame," the finale to the series, a future version of Kathryn Janeway returns to the past to let Captain Janeway know it's time to go home. The plan is pretty simple: use the Borg's transwarp conduits to get home by going from a transwarp hub. I'll ignore the most obvious question, which would be; why didn't Seven of Nine just suggest this sort of thing three years ago when she joined the crew? and progress to the more important point. The elder Janeway is set to destroy the Borg in order to help Captain Janeway. This is really thorny for two reasons: 1. In the seventh season premiere, Janeway goes to extraordinary lengths to keep the Borg Queen from simply destroying her whole fleet, why would she be willing to let the elder Janeway destroy the Borg now? and 2. Elder Janeway's big plan involves taking out the Borg Queen. Fine. But we've seen the Borg Queen die before (Star Trek: First Contact). What makes Janeway think the Borg Queen will stay any more dead than when Captain Picard killed her?!

But even more disturbing is this: elder Janeway's essential argument is that by going back to Earth now, twenty-four members of the crew could be saved and Tuvok would not become demented. Twenty-four lives. If she arrived a few episodes earlier, it could have been twenty-five. If she had arrived even earlier, it could have been even more. Over the course of the series, at least a hundred people die on the USS Voyager. Why does Captain Janeway suddenly succumb to this argument now, when so many of her crew have already died? And why is she willing to abet genocide to do it?

It's stupid. It's a crappy resolution to a show that was never afraid to take things that were established in Star Trek lore and dump them out for the convenience of this week's storyline. It's the type of resolution one gets when the producers don't care that there are a string of parasites living in the brains or memories of major characters in back to back episodes. It's what happens when the show stagnates and every old idea is repackaged poorly to try to churn out a few more episodes.

It's almost not worth mentioning, but this is how the final season of Star Trek: Voyager finds the principle characters:

Captain Kathryn Janeway - After willingly being assimilated, Janeway recovers her humanity just long enough to lose it all in the series finale,

Commander Chakotay - The first officer is bopping alone in the background until the last few episodes when he suddenly decides he and Seven of Nine should have a relationship (that comes out of nowhere!),

Tuvok - After nearly costing the crew the mission in the season opener, it's his memories of the truth that plague him when the crew is enslaved by aliens in "Workforce" and ultimately the threat to his sanity that motivates Janeway to return the crew home,

B'Elanna Torres - Marries Tom Paris, gets pregnant, has baby,

Tom Paris - Marries Torres, gets her pregnant, waits for her to have the baby,

Harry Kim - Gets his chance to command (though Garrett Wang is denied his chance to direct), rescues the crew from their conscripted labor, then goes quietly into the background,

Seven of Nine - Helps save the Borg, allows The Doctor to inhabit her, then explores love with . . . Chakotay?!,

Neelix - After being deemed worthless (season three), killed (season four), and then being relegated to babysitter for more interesting characters, he finally gets off the boat,

and The Doctor - Rules the season. He inhabits Seven of Nine, becomes a renegade doctor on an alien world, goes to war with other holograms against the Hirogen, becomes an author, and nearly dies.

Despite the emphasis on the Doctor (he has five episodes that are solidly his, one equally shared with Seven), the show still is slanted toward Seven of Nine, who has the same count as The Doctor, but more powerful supporting roles in additional episode (notably "Workforce I and II" and the "Endgame" pair). The show, even in its death throes never really becomes Janeway's show again and this finale is the putting to rest of a Star Trek series that abandoned the story of the Captain and/or its crew to become the tale of a character brought on for sex appeal.

The only redeeming thing about the episodes in this boxed set are the number of episodes featuring The Doctor. Robert Picardo is brilliant but even he is not enough to save this series. Now, should Paramount ever release a boxed set of all The Doctor's episodes (Adventures of a Holographic Doctor) I'd buy that. But I cannot recommend this.

For a more comprehensive understanding of exactly what is in this season, please check out my reviews of each of the episodes. This boxed set contains:
Unimatrix Zero, Part Two
Critical Care
Inside Man
Body And Soul
Flesh And Blood
Flesh And Blood, Part 2
The Void
Workforce, Part 2
Human Error
Author, Author
Friendship One
Natural Law
Renaissance Man


For other television series’, be sure to visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013, 2006 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment