You Talking Trek to Me? – Best of Voyager Runner-Ups (Part 2)

Having been very familiar with the run of Star Trek: Voyager, I pretty much knew which episodes I wanted to cover for the “Best Of” feature. But there were some close and sometimes difficult decisions, for as many amazing episodes as there are, there are just as many (if not more) strong and memorable ones that are pretty damn good. Although they didn’t quite reach the transcendence of the top picks, they’re still entertaining and accomplished adventures of Voyager.

Season 5

Episode 7 – “Infinite Regress”
Jeri Ryan was a boon to Star Trek: Voyager, bringing her impressive acting talents to a character that expanded the show’s mythology. Here she gets to flex every single acting muscle she has when the shards of hundreds of assimilated personalities start to take over. As Data did in the infamous “Masks,” Seven becomes host to a number of varied personas, and she fully inhabits each with aplomb.

Episode 14 – “Bliss”
Voyager’s sci-fi concepts were the most out there, and this episode presents a very memorable one. The idea of gargantuan life forms that could swallow ships is one that the franchise has done several times before – going back to The Original Series, and even in previous episodes of Voyager. But the twist here is the effect this gigantic monster has on its prey – showing them their heart’s desire to entice them. The Voyager crew is convinced it has found a wormhole leading directly to Earth, but Seven, the Doctor, and Naomi Wildman remain the only ones unaffected. Oh, and a crusty old space pirate who’s been hunting the monster for decades also shows up as an unlikely ally. It’s fun.

“I’m from a planet that’s Class-ARRRRRR!”

Episode 19 – “Think Tank”
Star Trek has always prized intelligence and it often embodies a sober, cerebral quality in its characters and stories. Here we see the dark side of smarts when an eclectic group of genius-level aliens sets its sights on conscripting Seven into their brainy ranks. Led by Jason Alexander in a soft-spoken and memorably weird performance, they seek to add her super smarts to their own and set an elaborate trap for Voyager to compel her. It’s up to Janeway and the crew to out-think the think tank and save the day.

“We’re picking up strange readings from the Vandalay sector.”

Episode 24 – “Relativity”
Voyager was no stranger to time travel, and here we get an intriguing adventure in which Seven gets drafted by a 29th century Starfleet timeship to help stop an unknown terrorist from destroying Voyager in the past. Captain Braxton, the future Starfleet officer responsible for transporting Voyager back to 1990’s Earth in “Future’s End” is also involved in a surprising way. The episode is recommended watching for the opening sequence alone – a jaw-dropping view of the mentioned but never-before-seen Utopia Planitia shipyards of Mars.

This is where dreams are launched!

Season 6

Episode 4 – “Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy”
Robert Picardo’s comedic chops were unassailable and he uses them here to great effect in a mostly silly story centering on the Doctor’s out of control daydreaming. The episode begins with an absolutely gut-busting fantasy sequence of the opera-singing Doctor disarming a Pon Farr-crazed weeping/violentTuvok through song and continues to build in silly intensity. A spying alien has accidentally tapped into the Doctor’s inner world, creating real world problems for both him and the Voyager crew. It hilariously climaxes when the Doctor has to keep up the charade by taking command of Voyager – for real.

Episode 9 – “The Voyager Conspiracy”
The dizzying amount of interconnectedness and continuity is one of Star Trek’s defining features and it’s used to meta effect in a quirky episode starring Seven. Deciding to directly assimilate Voyager’s logs, an increasingly unhinged Seven of Nine begins to formulate nutty conspiracy theories involving Chakotay’s Maquis takeover of Voyager, and then Janeway’s Starfleet annexing of the Delta Quadrant. Like all conspiracy theories, we know it’s nonsense, but there’s still a kooky thrill to pondering the possibility that it might not be…?

Episode 10 – “Pathfinder”
Reginald Barclay made his Voyager debut (as a hologram/figment of the Doctor’s “imagination”) all the way back in Season 2, but stars here in the flesh for the first time. His obsessive tendency to got lost in holographic fantasies was a defining character trait since his introduction, and we see that it hasn’t much improved as he’s gotten unhealthily fixated on Voyager and its crew. Deanna Troi also makes her Voyager debut as she tries to help Reg through his issues. Structurally, it’s a unique episode because although it contains holograms of the Voyager crew throughout, there aren’t any scenes on the actual ship until the very end when they receive a transmission from Earth. Ultimately, Barclay is successful in making permanent contact with Voyager, which would change the tenor of the rest of the show. So sometimes it pays to be a weirdo? That’s the theme of my life, anyway.

“Mr. Barclay…. I don’t know quite how to ask this, but… should we send in a hazmat crew to sterilize the holodeck…? Without confirming ANYTHING, can you just… would that be a good idea? Is that something I should just do?”

Season 7

Episode 4 – “Repression”
I actually don’t know if I even like this episode all that much, but I do admire what it sets out to do and some of the cleverness involved. Investigating an unconscious crewmember who was attacked, Tuvok unravels a larger mystery that has apparently been hanging out in the background for the entire series. A still surviving Maquis in the Alpha Quadrant sets into motion events on Voyager with an intent to revive the now dead rebel organization. The storyline of the Maquis crewmembers is one that had been resolved long ago on the show, and the episode revives them in an oddly brief but enticing way.

“Do you like it, Tuvok? It’s flavorless and zero calorie, just like me.”

Episodes 9 & 10 – “Flesh and Blood”
Voyager didn’t often examine the long-term consequences of its interactions with alien races, but this two-parter was an interesting exception. Having given the Hirgoen the technology to create holograms a couple of seasons ago, Voyager encounters the results of that fateful decision: the Hirogens have given rise to holograms that not only think and adapt, but feel pain and fear as well. And they’ve had enough. Having overthrown their oppressors and escaped, the holograms (a motley crew of Star Trek species, including Bajoran, Cardassian, Borg, Klingon, and Breen) set out to liberate their brethren everywhere, including the Doctor. We’ve seen killer holograms before, and this is similarly not pretty. Organics beware!

“Hey, if we can look like any species we want, can I be one of those little pipe cleaner fuckers?

Episode 19 – “Q2”
The final appearance of Q on Voyager, it concludes his running storyline started all the way back in Season 2. Now saddled with an irritating adolescent son (played by de Lancie’s real life kid), Q depowers him and pawns him off on Janeway and the crew to watch over. It’s the classic story of a spoiled asshole slowly learning how to be a human being, but it works as a comedic escapade with some actual heart. And no, Q still doesn’t return Voyager home. Dick.

“Oh, come now, Katy. Have you ever seen a more punchable face? Besides mine, that is.”

Episode 24 – “Renaissance Man”
I’ve always been fascinated by penultimate episodes. They’re the last normal adventures for the characters before the big epic finales so they’re essentially the finales before the finales in their own way (say “finales” one more time, dude). This one doesn’t disappoint as a tense and interesting action-suspense story. Remotely held hostage by aliens, the Doctor is forced to disguise himself as various crewmembers and use all of his unique abilities to stay one step ahead of them, as well as an increasingly suspicious Voyager crew.