“Star Trek: Voyager” Season 1: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

4c7eab289ae50_mymovies-frontThis might be one of the greatest public services Liz Tells Frank has ever performed — and I say that as a “Star Trek” fan. This Skip It/Watch It Guide comes courtesy of Whitney Bishop, who has found herself in the midst of watching the “Trek” universe’s voyage into progressive gender roles, and volunteered for this most sacred of tasks. Godspeed, Whitney. Godspeed. –Liz

The fourth series in the Star Trek universe, Voyager was an attempt to boldly go where nobody else we’d seen had gone yet, though in a manner that was pretty familiar. Long story short: a Starfleet ship goes looking for a Maquis (they’re the anti-Cardassian resistance-slash-terrorists, if you missed that bit) ship, both ships get pitched to the other side of the galaxy (the Delta Quadrant, as opposed to the Alpha Quadrant we all know and love), survivors of both crews wind up on the same ship (the eponymous Voyager), and they have to band together despite their differences to travel the 70,000 light-years back home. On the way, they have wacky adventures! So wacky. So incredibly wacky.

As they were airing, I watched the first… oh, two or three seasons of Voyager, give or take? I honestly can’t remember now, that’s how much of an impression it didn’t make on me. I liked some of the characters, but on the whole I found the situations silly, the crises repetitive, and so many of the references obnoxiously and improbably twentieth-century-US-centric. Plus, I was an honors student in high school and could only follow so many ridiculous TV shows at a time (I’m looking at you, anything Chris Carter created), so my viewing of it fell by the wayside and nothing more came of it.

However, two things have happened recently that have made me decide to give the series a fair shake. The first is that the recent Star Trek movie’s villain debacle (full thoughts about which can be found at here) has gotten my friends and me talking about all sorts of Trek old and new. The second is that my wife (who was a fan of the Seven of Nine era of Voyager largely for the lesbian possibilities inherent in the casting) has recently allowed me to subject her to the entire run of my dearest, sincerest love: Deep Space Nine. With that much boldly going in this household and the whole series up on Netflix, I suppose it was bound to happen.

All of which is to say: What you have here are the opinions of a die-hard DS9 fan who only has the vaguest idea of what happens much past the start of Voyager‘s fourth season. Take with all the grains of Nimian sea salt you need.

Star Trek: Voyager Season 1: The Skip It/Watch It Guide

1-2. “Caretaker”: Watch it. Of course you watch it. It’s the first episode. Marvel at how these two disparate crews are forced together in a single ship! Grow fond of the wacky new alien friends and foes! Start to notice that most things meant to remind people of “home” could be featured on stuffwhitepeoplelike.tumblr.com. Hmm. [I’m watching it right now while editing this post, and I gotta say, it holds up in a most intriguing way. It’s certainly much weirder than I remember. Like, SUPER-WEIRD. –Liz]

3. “Parallax”: Watch it. Assuming, of course, you like B’Elanna, as you should. She and Janeway get to butt heads a lot here. Plus, once you’ve seen it, you can skip in good conscience all the other ‘oh no, ship stuck in weird space thing, what do’ episodes, of which there are a great deal.

4. “Time and Again”: Skip it. An astonishing number of Voyager’s episodes have to do with time travel. This is not one of the good ones.

5. “Phage”: Skip it. Especially if Neelix-focused episodes stick in your craw. Just know that there’s a gross-looking alien race out there that will steal your kidneys and leave you in a motel bathtub full of ice; you’ll see them again.

6. “The Cloud”: Skip it. Oh no, ship stuck in weird space thing, what do.

7. “Eye of the Needle”: Watch it. It’s nice to see the Romulans being good guys. Yes, Romulans — leaving the Alpha Quadrant doesn’t really mean leaving the Alpha Quadrant, at least not as far as plots go. [Also, this episode contains a pretty solid twist! That’s definitely worth a recommend. –Liz]

8. “Ex Post Facto”: Skip it. I know I promised to give the series a fair shake, but I was so bored with this one I turned it off halfway through. Oh no, a core cast member gets accused of murder by a strange alien race, who’s taking bets on whether or not he did it? Anyone?

9. “Emanations”: Skip it. It is with a heavy heart I encourage skipping this one, as it does have Harry Kim doing some cool stuff, but if you like your morals not laid on with a trowel, you’d be better off moving on.

10. “Prime Factors”: Skip it. So I get that when the main conceit of the show is that your crew is a long way from home and trying to get home, a lot of your episodes are going to promise ways to do that in a trice — and since that is the main conceit of your show and actually going through on that promise would bring the series to an abrupt end, all attempts are predestined to fail. I get that! But unless you really like Belgians in funny halo-hats, give this a miss. [Whitney did a great job in avoiding mentioning “Gilligan’s Island” in this guide. But the comparisons are inevitable. –Liz]

11. “State of Flux”: Watch it. As ‘who is the traitor??’ episodes go, it isn’t very good about keeping the answer to that question too mysterious. Still, important to what comes later.

12. “Heroes and Demons”: Watch it. Just to describe it, ‘the episode where the Doctor pretends to be Beowulf’ sounds pretty stupid, but it’s actually delightful.

13. “Cathexis”: Skip it. I mean, it’s not bad. But it’s not great, and all of the Generic Conglomerate Native American Chakotay stuff makes me super-uncomfortable. Also, if I were a disembodied consciousness that could control people’s bodies, I wouldn’t stop at making them push buttons. For the record.

14. “Faces”: Watch it. Remember the bathtub kidney aliens? They’re back! Plus some good B’Elanna moments (and some good B’Elanna-on-B’Elanna moments) and a truly horrifying skin graft.

15. “Jetrel”: Skip it. How do you like your Hiroshima metaphors? Laid on thick?

16. “Learning Curve”: Watch it. Tuvok sets out to whip those rag-tag Maquis into shape, but learns a lesson about love! Actually, Tuvok is a dick to four people who only vaguely deserve it, but learns a lesson about not being a dick to people. Also, cheese.

…So if you count the pilot as two episodes, that’s exactly a 1:1 skip:watch ratio, which is not exactly a glowing first season. I don’t blame at all the viewers who bailed partway through — it’s obviously bitten off more than it can chew in terms of conceit, characterization, and vision, and it’s not always fun to watch masticate. Still, there’s definitely gold in them thar hills, and the first season of ANY Star Trek show tends to be the equivalent of its very awkward adolescence, which shouldn’t be held against anyone, human or television series.

Whitney Bishop is editor-in-chief of Shousetsu Bang*Bang. She is also the best for doing this.

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Posted on June 6, 2013, in No Spoilers, Skip It/Watch It Guide, TV and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I’m a fan of Voyager, but got 7-of-9’d out after a while. I didn’t enjoy her character much, and her story arc was too reminiscent of Data’s to keep me intrigued (part-machine trying to figure out humans and fit in, but this time with boobs!)

  2. Better yet, skip Voyager and go watch Farscape if you want to watch the reality of being far from earth.

  3. Great guide.

    I am trying to continue my Star Trek “education” for my girlfriend — while she loved TNG and DS9, Voyager is going to be a bit of a letdown. I skimmed your guides for all 7 seasons and agree with most of your Watch It or Skip It recommendations. This guide will be helpful with watching only the ones that are worth the time!

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