Thursday, October 13, 2011

Retrospective on the Star Trek Voyager finale

Roommate and I finished watching Star Trek: Voyager, all seven seasons, on Netflix. At fucking last we’re done, and the end of the series is just as rushed as I remember. Let me be a geek for a minute and take a look back on the conclusion to the last good Star Trek series.

Of all the ways the Voyager crew could’ve gotten home, the writers chose to take the lazy way out. Oh, sure, I know the story. They were too busy constructing the next Star Trek series, Enterprise, so they didn’t have time to give Voyager the sendoff it deserved.

The problem was Deep Space 9. That series spent half the final season building up to the end of the Dominion War! It raised the bar for what a series finale should be. When DS9 went out with that bang, Voyager couldn’t get away with a two-parter anymore, no sir-e. Voyager needed to go out like DS9!

What we got instead was a standard time travel episode, going back to the past to change the future. It’s a carbon copy of a previous episode, Timeless, in which a future Harry Kim sends a message to the past Voyager to correct a mistake he made that crashed the ship into a icy planet and killed the entire crew except for himself and Chakotay. It’s the same damn episode, just spread out over two shows instead of one.

Then there’s the abrupt romance between Seven and Chakotay. The writers spent 3 years building up the relationship between Tom and B’Elanna, then another 3 years before they married! Seven and Chakotay? One episode, and it’s the finale! They’ve never shown any interest in each other before, where did this come from?

Sure, you can argue Seven’s holodeck program earlier in the season implied they were getting together, but that’s all it was. A holodeck program. Trekkies are used to ignoring everything that happens on the holodeck because it isn’t real! Seven was experimenting with romantic social situations; she gave no indication she was actually interested in the man himself. She even said so herself in the episode Human Error.

Chakotay never showed any interest in Seven of Nine either. None. Zip. I couldn’t see them getting together then, and it still makes no sense now. Seven just wasn’t ready to enter that kind of relationship, and Chakotay never struck me as a lady’s man for the entire seven years of the series. Now is not the time for a change of character.

The premise that the Borg have transwarp hubs that allow them to deploy cubes and spheres nearly anywhere in the galaxy in an instant... This is cool, but it does raise the question of why the Borg haven’t conquered the entire galaxy by now. They can open a conduit to Earth anytime they want. What is stopping them from sending an armada to Earth and assimilating it?

The crew is awfully comfortable with two Janeways on the ship, and it’s never clear exactly what Admiral Janeway was going through. Admiral Janeway never strikes me as bitter and cynical, but we’re supposed to believe she is, and getting to know her younger self reminds her that getting home isn’t as important as the journey was. This isn’t presented at all, but lectured. Admiral Janeway shows no signs of getting to know her younger self again, and we never see what personal toll the journey took on her. We’re told more or less what we’re supposed to see, and I get the feeling there was supposed to be some sort of character study going on, but it doesn’t come across because two episodes wasn’t enough to cram all this shit in.

What was captain Janeway’s problem? She told Admiral Janeway not to tell her about any future events, so of course Admiral Janeway didn’t tell her about the transwarp hub. She never lied to the captain, so what’s she so upset about? How is that being cynical and bitter? The reaction is totally wrong, and completely not like Janeway. It’s a sign of how rushed this episode really was. I agree the show should've ended with an "it's not the destination, it's the journey" theme, but this was too abrupt.

It’s a hackwritten and completely unfulfilling conclusion to the Voyager story. This sucks, because the rest of the series is so good! So many better ways they could’ve gotten home. I wanted it to involve species 8472. Somehow I hoped that was a loaded gun, and Janeway would be at the center of a new alliance with them against the Borg, or somehow fluidic space and their technology would be the key to getting home in a hurry. No matter how, the finale needed to be bigger than yet another time travel story! Ah well. It’s ten years in the past. I was still in Tennessee when I first saw Voyager’s conclusion. A teenager. Has it been that long?

Holy shit. I just noticed. The last episode aired just two months before my 18th birthday.

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