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[VOY] Jammer's Review: Sixth Season Recap

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Warning: This interminably long recap article contains plentiful spoilers for the sixth season of Star Trek: Voyager. Nutshell: On the starship USS Voyager,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 12, 2000
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      Warning: This interminably long recap article contains plentiful spoilers
      for the sixth season of "Star Trek: Voyager."


      Nutshell: On the starship USS Voyager, the people are represented by two
      separate yet equally frustrating groups: the characters who pretend to
      develop, and those who don't even bother with that pretense. These are their
      stories. <CLANG-CLANG>

      -----
      Star Trek: Voyager -- Sixth Season Recap
      Capsule Reviews & Season Analysis

      For episodes airing from
      9/22/1999 to 5/24/2000 (USA)

      Series created by Rick Berman & Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor
      Executive producers: Rick Berman & Brannon Braga

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
      -----

      And again, it's the annual Jammer Review summer tradition--the season recap
      article. It's the most thorough analysis of Voyager as a series that I'll
      write this year. Unlike previous years, I'm not calling it "comprehensive"
      (even though it is--so ha), because I need a change. And, whoa, what a
      change that was. I feel different already. But seriously, folks, as we head
      into the final haul, it's time to look back at Voyager's penultimate season
      and talk about what we had and didn't have, as well as looking ahead toward
      next season. As always, part one has a short review of each episode; part
      two has the general commentary on the Big Picture, as it were. On with it...

      --
      PART 1: CAPSULE REVIEWS

      "Equinox, Part II" -- Airdate: 9/22/1999. Teleplay by Brannon Braga & Joe
      Menosky. Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky. Directed by
      David Livingston.

      "Equinox II" exemplifies Voyager as a series in so many ways it's almost
      scary. Here's an efficiently made episode that features plenty in terms of
      good entertainment value--solid action, a meaty conflict between Janeway and
      Chakotay, Janeway stepping perilously close to crossing the line, and Ransom
      having an attack of the conscience that reveals that he is, after all,
      human--but in terms of its credibility for the series, what is it?
      Absolutely nothing. This episode brings up a huge, huge issue that rings all
      the way back to Voyager's original, long-jettisoned premise: the idea of
      limping through the Delta Quadrant on limited resources and with a fragile
      crew. By the end, we've had a pretty good ride and have even taken some
      brief looks at What We're About, but then what? The end. It's a non-issue
      and everyone forgets that it ever happened. We bring aboard several Equinox
      crew members, who are never to be seen or heard from again. So what's the
      point? Against my better judgment, I'm going to keep this episode rated at
      three stars because it's a good view that holds up in a vacuum (which is,
      after all, what Voyager is about), but it reveals just how little there is
      to this series as a whole (but more on that later).

      Rating out of 4: ***


      "Survival Instinct" -- Airdate: 9/29/1999. Written by Ronald D. Moore.
      Directed by Terry Windell.

      Despite the fact that it's a good episode, perhaps the most notable fact
      about "Survival Instinct" is that it's the answer to the behind-the-scenes
      trivia question: "What was the only Voyager episode to be scripted by
      veteran Trek writer Ronald D. Moore?" I honestly don't have anything new to
      say about "Survival Instinct." It's a good show that invests the time
      necessary in its central character (i.e., Seven) and the decisions she
      makes, and it uses the concept of the Borg collective as an avenue into
      Seven's past and the guilt she now holds for having created "The Triad's"
      problem. It's not much of a departure from the beaten path (especially
      considering this series' focus on Seven ad nauseam), but it does feature
      quietly thoughtful scenes and an attention to personalities, particularly in
      a standout Doc/Seven scene that shows that more than Seven's guilt is at
      work here, but also a sense of personal responsibility and a disdain for the
      collective she once called home.

      Rating: ***


      "Barge of the Dead" -- Airdate: 10/6/1999. Teleplay by Bryan Fuller. Story
      by Ronald D. Moore & Bryan Fuller. Directed by Mike Vejar.

      I might be the only person on Earth who thinks "Barge" deserves to go down
      as one of Voyager's all-time best installments, but so be it. This is one of
      the most complex, involving character studies I've seen on this series, and
      it goes a long way toward making me believe the Voyager writers have the
      ability to deal with characters intelligently--without neat-and-tidy
      answers--and transcend the mechanics of sci-fi plots. I found B'Elanna's
      plight moving--she's a character filled with uncertainty, turmoil, and
      self-misunderstanding, and it takes a near-death experience for her to move
      beyond the limits and isolation she's imposed on herself. Add that to the
      fact that this is a visually impressive episode with standout direction by
      Mike Vejar; good performances all around; an intense score by David Bell;
      interesting discussions, particularly between Torres and Chakotay; and solid
      use of symbolism that works on several levels, and you've got an episode
      that really comes together. Does it bring about future change to B'Elanna's
      character the way it probably should? No, but more on that later.

      Rating: ****


      "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy" -- Airdate: 10/13/1999. Teleplay by Joe Menosky.
      Story by Bill Vallely. Directed by John Bruno.

      Hilarious, with its heart in the right place. It's a simple idea--Doc
      daydreams--and the concept is put to good comic ends. The gags are very
      funny, with a genial focus on Doc's sizable but never mean-spirited ego.
      (There's the "Emergency Command Hologram," the photonic cannon, etc.) The
      subplot involving the aliens is wisely and organically incorporated into the
      story--not as a threat, but instead as a low-key complementing comedy.
      Underlying the humor is a pleasant human story about Doc's desire to
      continue improving himself and expanding his horizons. Picardo
      enthusiastically goes for broke in virtually every scene, and easily gets
      away with it; the guy is a real talent. I'm willing to call it one of Trek's
      best comedies.

      Rating: ***1/2


      "Alice" -- Airdate: 10/20/1999. Teleplay by Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor.
      Story by Juliann deLayne. Directed by David Livingston.

      "Alice" got ripped apart by a lot of Internet viewers. I personally didn't
      think it was *that* bad, but I certainly didn't think it was good. This was
      the Big Tom Paris Show of season six, and on that level it's sorely
      disappointing. Sure, this guy is an ace pilot, but what else? Judging from
      this episode, that's about all there is to his personality. Okay, he also
      likes Torres (apparently almost as much as old ships), who gets peripheral
      involvement in the plot mostly so she can be nearly killed. But this episode
      emphasizes--surprise, surprise--the mechanics of its confused plot first and
      character depth a distant second. What depth that's here is pretty
      superficial (and therefore not really "depth")--Paris likes restoring creaky
      old ships and dreams of some sort of "perfect" flight. BFD. The plot is
      short on logic and answers (why would anyone build an intelligent ship that
      kidnaps pilots, and what is the mysterious "home" that Alice wants to
      enter?), but fortunately this manages to sustain just enough sci-fi mystery
      to avoid the threat of boredom. A tip: Any tech device with the capability
      of tapping directly into a character's brain should immediately set off
      alarms for the Voyager crew.

      Rating: **1/2


      "Riddles" -- Airdate: 11/3/1999. Teleplay by Robert J. Doherty. Story by
      Andre Bormanis. Directed by Roxann Dawson.

      In another perfect example of why this series is so damned frustrating,
      "Riddles" provides for us the ultimate Reset Button Character Show. Tuvok,
      in one of few episodes this year to give him any real emphasis, has his
      brain zapped by an alien weapon in a way that renders him incapacitated and
      changes his personality into that of a scared child. As a result, he takes
      to Neelix and develops a friendship with him that the normal Tuvok would
      never have permitted himself to exhibit. There's some good work here by the
      actors, but it's ultimately fruitless; the episode is a pointless exercise
      with zero real-life consequences. Tuvok is restored to his regular self by
      the end of the episode, thanks to a cure that is downright magical in its
      convenient nature. By the end, there's not even a sense that Tuvok will
      grant Neelix the gratitude for helping him through a troubling time, so why
      did we even bother? Apparently, the lesson here is that overcoming major
      life obstacles *doesn't* bring about any change in one's personality (and
      Vulcan or not, such a lesson is a waste of my time). This is possibly the
      most blatantly annoying reset button usage since "Unforgettable."

      Rating: **


      "Dragon's Teeth" -- Airdate: 11/10/1999. Teleplay by Michael Taylor and
      Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky. Story by Michael Taylor. Directed by Winrich
      Kolbe.

      The intent behind "Dragon's Teeth," I think, was to show how a threat which
      had essentially been bottled up for centuries (the remaining Vaadwaur
      civilization here) could come back to be a problem again when someone comes
      by and inadvertently uncorks the container. The first few acts, as we subtly
      uncover the possibility of the threat, are interesting, but then the premise
      comes apart at the seams. First of all, simplifying an entire culture to a
      couple broad characters (one "nice," one "mean," both at the mercy of a plot
      and not supplied remotely believable actions given their situation) is not
      practical. Second, the idea requires our characters to ignore some very
      obvious warning signs, like Chakotay mentioning the "dragon's teeth" tale
      and then everybody forgetting about it as the story presses onward. Third is
      the chaos that results when the story paints itself into an action-oriented
      corner; we have Janeway bouncing around trusting one group and then the
      other, and ultimately imposing what is essentially a death sentence upon the
      Vaadwaur when she gives away their position to their enemies. The final act
      is a big mess that doesn't have a brain in its head or any regard for
      realistic consequences or moral questions (and Chattaway's obtrusive score
      undermines the proceedings). The closing dialog alleges that 50 of these
      Vaadwaur in their lame little antiquated ships constitutes a Major Threat,
      which is simply BS.

      Rating: **


      "One Small Step" -- Airdate: 11/17/1999. Teleplay by Mike Wollaeger &
      Jessica Scott and Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor. Story by Mike Wollaeger &
      Jessica Scott. Directed by Robert Picardo.

      It's a sad fact that few episodes of Voyager manage to capture a sense of
      genuine exploration. But "One Small Step" is one of those few. This is a
      rare episode that actually feels like a crew exploring a situation in order
      to learn something. It's proof that tech anomalies can be put to good use;
      in this case we've got something so old drifting through the galaxy that it
      serves as a sort of galactic museum, and we believe Chakotay when he says he
      could spend the rest of his life studying it. The primary artifact found
      inside is, of course, the Ares IV Mars orbiter, preserved for 350 years--a
      wonderful find, along with its long-dead pilot, Lt. John Kelley (played in
      the flashbacks by Phil Morris in an affecting performance) and his
      introspective logs. By the end, even Seven, who initially resists the idea
      of historic sentimentality, cannot deny the emotional impact of Kelley's
      quest to fulfill a dream. Make no mistake--this episode is abundantly
      self-aware of the sentiment it puts out. But so what? If the sentiment is
      genuine, then run with it. That's what this show does, and the result is a
      story that resonates. "What I've seen proves we were right to come out
      here," Kelley says. Well put.

      Rating: ***1/2


      "The Voyager Conspiracy" -- Airdate: 11/24/1999. Written by Joe Menosky.
      Directed by Terry Windell.

      "The Voyager Conspiracy" plays sort of like an episode of "The X-Files"
      transplanted to the Delta Quadrant. It's a storyline in love with audacious
      theory, and completely willing (and wanting) to ignore facts, plausibility,
      and proof, because such things would get in the way of the theorizing.
      Whether or not you get anything out of this episode is completely dependent
      upon whether or not you enjoy Seven's paranoid mania and the way she
      assaults Janeway and Chakotay with her slew of facts culled from old
      episodes. No, none of it makes sense for a second. I still think the scene
      where Janeway and Chakotay run into each other in the cargo bay and play
      their reactions ever-so-carefully off each other's suspicions is a
      mini-masterpiece performed to perfection. But, of course, none of this
      tracks with the fact that these two characters shouldn't have been so easily
      persuaded by Seven's off-the-wall theories in the first place--or, if they
      were, so quick to then dismiss their suspicions. In the end it's nothing but
      an implausible exercise (and a rehash of Janeway trying to win Seven's
      trust), albeit sort of a fun one to watch unfold.

      Rating: **1/2


      "Pathfinder" -- Airdate: 12/1/1999. Teleplay by David Zabel and Kenneth
      Biller. Story by David Zabel. Directed by Mike Vejar.

      If there are any arcs at all to find in this series, the one hinted at in
      "Pathfinder" (and continued in "Life Line") might be it. As we head into the
      final season, I would expect at least some sort of emphasis on the crew's
      contact with the Alpha Quadrant. As such, many of the seeds are planted in
      "Pathfinder," in which Lt. Barclay masterminds a crazy plan to contact
      Voyager in the Delta Quadrant using experimental methods. This premise
      supplies a compelling backdrop for a brilliantly acted character study
      focusing on Barclay's loneliness and his comforting but nonproductive
      escapes into the holodeck, where he has made friends with holodeck
      simulations of the Voyager crew. Perhaps never before has Barclay (or any
      Trek character) seemed so emotionally isolated, and I found myself caring
      about this guest character more than any other Voyager regular the rest of
      the season (which is perhaps a commentary on this episode as well as the
      series). Dwight Schultz is terrific with the constant verbal fumbling, and
      creates a complete character out of what could've come across as a stunt
      performance. In the end, Voyager gets its first synchronous conversation
      with the Alpha Quadrant, showing that crazy, unpopular ideas sometimes pay
      off.

      Rating: ****


      "Fair Haven" -- Airdate: 1/12/2000. Written by Robin Burger. Directed by
      Allan Kroeker.

      When I originally reviewed "Fair Haven," I said I was conflicted over how
      the story treated the arguments about holograms as artificial people. A
      little over a month after I wrote that review, a sequel episode called
      "Spirit Folk" came along and made up my mind for me: This is all a very bad
      idea, and I want no more of it. Holodeck characters are not people (and
      "Life Line" basically argued this point as well). A possible argument one
      could make is that it's a special situation for Voyager because they're
      alone in the middle of nowhere and might be more likely to turn to holograms
      for relationships (as Janeway does here). Let me hasten to remind that no
      other issue regarding Voyager's isolation has ever really been taken
      seriously, including the ones that really deserved to be. So why in the
      world start with the holodeck? Anyway, this episode is still mediocre Trek
      romance stuff. There's not much in terms of chemistry between Janeway and
      holo-boyfriend Michael, and the setting of Fair Haven (read: Hollywood
      backlot), while handsomely constructed, is simply not very imaginative.
      Essentially shore-leave filler.

      Rating: **


      "Blink of an Eye" -- Airdate: 1/19/2000. Teleplay by Joe Menosky. Story by
      Michael Taylor. Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont.

      "Blink" is good, solid sci-fi. And more than that, it's sci-fi that's framed
      in terms of a culture and history. The premise of Voyager stuck in orbit
      around a planet where time is accelerated is a neat idea. It bears
      resemblance to the TOS episode "Wink of an Eye," but is much smarter; we see
      the actual impact this strange light in the sky has on this world's mythos,
      as the society evolves from primitive to technological. The eerie scene of
      the astronauts' historic first visit to the "Sky Ship" is filled with wonder
      and awe. There are some quirks in terms of time passage being flexible for
      the plot, but nothing too severe. Also, some weak guest performances mar
      what could've been more powerful scenes. And if there's a scene that
      everyone involved in making this show should've realized didn't fit and
      should've been cut, it's the casually established throwaway notion that Doc
      had a lover and began raising a son while on his three-year away mission,
      which could've been an entire episode on its own! Ah, well. This is a
      thoughtful, involving tale nonetheless.

      Rating: ***


      "Virtuoso" -- Airdate: 1/26/2000. Teleplay by Raf Green and Kenneth Biller.
      Story by Raf Green. Directed by Les Landau.

      Here's a mediocre episode that had the potential to be much better. Picardo
      can carry just about any material given to him and make it watchable, but
      when he's surrounded by weak guest stars that undermine the scenes, it's
      just not going to work. Too bad, because there's stuff here that's fun, like
      Doc distributing mini-holo-recordings of his singing performances. His final
      performance and then the "improvement" travesty that follows him comprise a
      really good sequence that's simultaneously funny and sad. Alas, the good
      moments are sandwiched between scenes that fall flat, especially the
      laughable "one plus one" scene, which is ostensibly a crucial turning point
      in the story that truly doesn't work. Doc's naivete is forced, and Janeway
      is right: He should know better than to expect that people as selfish as the
      Qomar (who are pretty annoying by concept) won't drop him as soon as
      something new comes along. Also, the thinly guised commentary on fandom
      didn't do much for me; Mulgrew's delivery of the sentiment seemed way too
      smugly cute, and Seven isn't so naive as to need the explanation anyway.

      Rating: **


      "Memorial" -- Airdate: 2/2/2000. Teleplay by Robin Burger. Story by Brannon
      Braga. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

      "Memorial" is in the spirit of Classic Trekkian Message Shows, and as such
      it works pretty well. Subtle? Don't count on it. There's no mistaking the
      point here, because the creators aren't going to let you escape the hour
      without making you understand (even if it means use of a sledgehammer where
      only an open backhand was necessary). There's a certain visual and
      psychological intensity that's effective here; the flashback sequences,
      repressed in our characters' memories, feel like distant nightmares. When
      the mystery is solved, those psychological visuals are all the more
      haunting, because we see the remains of the massacre centuries after the
      fact, in what just moments ago seemed to be happening for our characters.
      The first shot of the monument is a powerful one because of good timing that
      coincides with our realizations. Unfortunately, the creators don't trust
      their audience enough to get the message even when it's obvious. The
      exposition scene in astrometrics ("It's a memorial." No kidding?) is totally
      unnecessary. The crew's arguments that follow are intriguing but seem
      somewhat unfinished, and the final decision grows a bit too much out of a
      Janeway Mandate.

      Rating: ***


      "Tsunkatse" -- Airdate: 2/9/2000. Teleplay by Robert Doherty. Story by
      Gannon Kenney. Directed by Mike Vejar.

      It's Seven of Nine, arena fighting, and The Rock. Do I smell a "Smackdown"
      ratings stunt? But this is one that ends up being surprisingly entertaining
      considering how the previews had me prepared for the worst. In a way, this
      is a perfect example of what Voyager honestly wants to be: safe, appealing
      to the masses, simple on the intellect scale, full of marketable action, and
      easy to play in the promos. And as basic entertainment it works fairly well.
      Despite the fact the plot is formulaic and predictable. And our crew is
      wearing blinders. And the ending, in which Seven's Big Choice is rendered
      moot by a contrivance, undercuts any drama that there was left here. But
      effective guest performances by Jeffrey Combs and J.G. Hertzler help the
      simple story along. (Tell you what: If you want arena combat, go see
      "Gladiator." Its story may not be great either, but at least it's sold with
      conviction.) Earns bonus points for being promoted via Trek's most
      outlandish trailer of all time.

      Rating: **1/2


      "Collective" -- Airdate: 2/16/2000. Teleplay by Michael Taylor. Story by
      Andrew Shepard Price & Mark Gaberman. Directed by Allison Liddi.

      "Collective" is little more than an excuse to bring aboard the four (five?)
      Borg children for use in subsequent episodes. On that level I suppose it's a
      success, though I must again ask what happened to the infant (at this point
      I'm guessing it died off-screen, but never mind). On its own, this really
      isn't much in terms of a compelling story. It's a hodgepodge of hostage
      negotiation, conflict between neo-natal Borg drones, and technobabble. It's
      lacking in energy and interest, and the actor who plays the First (Ryan
      Spahn) is not very credible as a Borg. Jeri Ryan's performance puts these
      other Borg characters to shame, though it's perhaps not fair to compare
      since she's so much more experienced. There are some hints that this is a
      story about the assertion of authority, but it's pretty muddled within the
      confines of plotting and hazy Borg rules. The final act falls apart; the
      hostage crisis is resolved largely with meaningless tech exposition while
      the Borg conflict on the cube suffers from clunky execution.

      Rating: **


      "Spirit Folk" -- Airdate: 2/23/2000. Written by Bryan Fuller. Directed by
      David Livingston.

      Bleah. The chaos-filled, very mad, bad plot of "Spirit Folk" is essentially
      a string of horrid, unbearably contrived holodeck cliches, featuring an
      underlying premise that shouldn't even exist in the first place. After "Fair
      Haven" made me question the wisdom of having characters taking holographic
      situations so seriously, "Spirit Folk" had the gall to ask me to accept that
      the captain is going to *risk the lives* of two of her crew rather than shut
      down a simulation. And why? Because we don't want to reset a malfunctioning
      holodeck simulation to which our characters have grown soooooo attached.
      Please. (Ironically, this sort of reset is exactly what happens to the real
      Voyager characters in between nearly every episode, so what's the big deal?)
      The plot takes great liberty with holodeck technology and basic common
      sense, and by "great liberty" I mean that it's all a load of crap. And, of
      course, all the characters are required to be hopelessly stupid in order to
      fulfill the ridiculous demands of the plot. Just be thankful that this was
      the last we saw of Fair Haven. Hopefully that will be the case for next year
      as well, assuming we continue in the tradition of one holodeck theme per
      year.

      Rating: *


      "Ashes to Ashes" -- Airdate: 3/1/2000. Teleplay by Robert Doherty. Story by
      Ronald Wilkerson. Directed by Terry Windell.

      It's another good example of throwing continuity to the wind, but I'll be a
      nice reviewer and ignore the fact that there are dozens of lines of dialog
      here that technically don't track with what came before. What I'm more
      concerned with is whether or not the reappearance (read: invented and
      retro-inserted into history) of the dead Lyndsey Ballard is played for any
      good emotional content. Actually, it is--sort of. Ballard's weird situation
      of choosing a life path is worth empathizing with, even if contrived (she
      travels for six months to find Voyager only to ultimately change her mind in
      a seemingly 15-minute period) and firmly established in formula (Second
      Chances and the New Lease on Life). And we get Harry used reasonably in what
      is perhaps his season's most notable role. Forget about logic, which would
      require Ballard to travel probably 40,000-some light-years in six
      months--but, again, say it with me and the Voyager writers: "Continuity
      doesn't matter." On its terms it's an okay show that doesn't quite take off.
      The B-story with the Borg kids is fun.

      Rating: **1/2


      "Child's Play" -- Airdate: 3/8/2000. Teleplay by Raf Green. Story by Paul
      Brown. Directed by Mike Vejar.

      Another thing this series tends to do is overuse the Voyager Action Insert.
      Wanna see something blow up? Well, you're gonna even if you don't. In this
      case, it's a Borg sphere; the last act is sound and fury that--while
      admittedly workable in terms of the overall story ultimately being
      told--isn't a natural outgrowth of the story we started with. I have nothing
      against twists and turns that are entertaining, but when they seem to be
      cheating the audience, I get a bit more resistant. Specifically, we have a
      quiet little tale about Icheb returning to his parents, which near the end
      is suddenly turned into a more sinister plot about how he was manufactured
      as a time bomb to infect the Borg. Fine and good, and not of disinterest,
      but I'm uneasy about how the story forces us to question the way Icheb's
      parents are initially so sympathetic and sincere. It seems dictated more by
      marketing than by characters. Still, "Child's Play" works because it does
      deal with the emotions it puts forth--even the ones that arrive at the last
      minute. And it does so with good acting and (usually) patient storytelling.

      Rating: ***


      "Good Shepherd" -- Airdate: 3/15/2000. Teleplay by Dianna Gitto & Joe
      Menosky. Story by Dianna Gitto. Directed by Winrich Kolbe.

      The strange aliens in this outing are 100 percent McGuffin. This just goes
      to show that episodes that feature routine (or unspecified, as in this case)
      sci-fi plotlines are only as good as their characters and dialog. As such,
      this episode works because it simply takes three unknown crewmen and the
      captain, and puts them in the middle of a crisis and watches how they react
      to it. More specifically, it's a good examination of unconventional (for
      Voyager) personalities and how they mesh with one another. We've got a
      character full of cynicism, one full of self-doubt, and one who's a paranoid
      hypochondriac--all who are at the bottom of the chain of command. Put these
      three into a pressure cooker and give them some good dialog and you've got
      yourself an episode that works. It's not a breakout show, but it does well
      painting its characters as people (until the abrupt ending, which
      unfortunately short-changes everybody).

      Rating: ***


      "Live Fast and Prosper" -- Airdate: 4/19/2000. Written by Robin Burger.
      Directed by LeVar Burton.

      Here's a neutral episode that just didn't really do much of anything for me,
      for good or ill. The premise of "interstellar con artists" is potentially
      fun, but the story just never takes off. A big problem is the gullibility of
      the aliens who get conned, which turns into viewer frustration when we have
      to put up with long scenes of misunderstanding where the Voyager characters
      are accused of theft by stubborn, bone-headed alien characters who really
      need to be told to take this nickel and go buy a clue. Mayhem that should be
      fun--like when the con artists, Voyager, and a recently conned third party
      all end up meeting at the same time--is instead clumsily executed in a way
      that makes no one look particularly smart. There are a few clever twists
      here that toy with our expectations while also illustrating just how often
      crew incompetence has been used to move a Voyager plot from A to B. It's an
      interesting dilemma: Robin Burger's script is more clever than any of the
      characters in it really can be.

      Rating: **


      "Muse" -- Airdate: 4/26/2000. Written by Joe Menosky. Directed by Mike
      Vejar.

      "Muse" is like Voyager Opposite Day. It's a slow and cerebral outing in a
      universe typically determined to deliver the fast and simple. As such, it's
      a refreshing change of pace. What we have here is essentially a play within
      a play. But the inner-play is a sly reflection upon the outer-play, which
      breaks down the "fourth wall" in some intriguing ways. Through this clever
      device, we have scenes that shed a great deal of light on the writing
      process, acknowledging through the poet's struggle--and with an ironic
      awareness--the basic story devices that the series itself often employs to
      get the job done ... ranging from audience manipulation to contrivance to
      the idea of giving the crowd what it wants. (At one point, an old poet tells
      the younger poet to "find the truth" of his story.) Perhaps something worth
      saying that I didn't mention before was explained to me in Menosky's
      follow-up e-mail to my review of this episode: One intent of "Muse" was also
      to show that the playwright isn't simply writing a play, but essentially
      writing his own Star Trek episode, highlighting many of the usual
      Roddenberry themes (like the nonviolent solution "Janeway" uses in the play
      when confronting "Seven" as the Borg Queen). And so it is. I suppose this
      makes "Muse" the Voyager equivalent of Homicide's "The Documentary," in
      which the detectives chased a suspect into the middle of a cop-show filming
      crew, where they then met Barry Levinson. (And if you don't know what I'm
      talking about, press onward and pay no mind.)

      Rating: ***1/2


      "Fury" -- Airdate: 5/3/2000. Teleplay by Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor.
      Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga. Directed by John Bruno.

      Kes comes back real mad, travels back in time, and attempts to deliver the
      Voyager crew into the hands of some nasty Vidiians. Why? Well, that's the
      problem--the rationale is poorly conceived to say the least. Kes' rage isn't
      the slightest bit believable or worth caring about, so with the most
      important aspect of the story promptly thrown away, all that remains is a
      mechanical time-travel plot and a slew of pointless special-effects scenes
      that aren't worth caring about either. The time travel makes less sense than
      usual, creating a paradox where the characters (especially "good" Kes) are
      *aware* of the paradox, and yet we're supposed to believe that given this
      knowledge everything plays out the same way between five-plus years ago and
      the day Kes leaves (and then three years later when she returns). Oh, come
      on. The ending is a 180 of arbitrary characterization piled upon another
      180. I hope Jennifer Lien at least got paid well.

      Rating: *1/2


      "Life Line" -- Airdate: 5/10/2000. Teleplay by Robert Doherty & Raf Green
      and Brannon Braga. Story by John Bruno & Robert Picardo. Directed by Terry
      Windell.

      Picardo times two seems like a recipe for success, and in "Life Line" that
      proves to be the case. Doc meets Zimmerman thanks to his program being
      transmitted to the Alpha Quadrant. The result is an hour of well-written
      banter and fun dialog ("Computer, deactivate iguana." "How dare you!"), but
      with also a solid character story underneath it all. Picardo creates
      Zimmerman's character in a manner that's both similar and different from Doc
      in subtle and believable ways. Zimmerman's personal problem runs deep in
      ways that prove to be worth a good deal of our sympathy. The story brings
      back Barclay and Troi and puts them to good use as supporting characters.
      Also of note is Haley (Tamera Craig Thomas), a hologram who turns out to be
      an important little part of the story. The episode is a perfect example of
      how to use FX as a narrative means, rather than abusing FX for the sake of
      themselves: Picardo acts alongside himself in scenes of seamless
      convincingness. This episode also gives me hope that the writers are
      thinking ahead about issues regarding Voyager's possible return to the Alpha
      Quadrant, as evidenced by Admiral Hayes' ominous inquiry about the Maquis.

      Rating: ***1/2


      "The Haunting of Deck Twelve" -- Airdate: 5/17/2000. Teleplay by Mike
      Sussman and Kenneth Biller & Bryan Fuller. Story by Mike Sussman. Directed
      by David Livingston.

      Zzzzzzzz. I find it hard to believe the producers signed off on a story that
      can be encapsulated, "A technobabble lifeform seizes control of the ship and
      gives ultimatums through the computer while the characters wander aimlessly
      through the darkness, performing mundane tasks and occasionally being
      attacked by noxious nebular gas." (Okay, maybe it was pitched with a little
      more conviction.) Fortunately, the narrative framing device of "Neelix's
      scary story" occasionally alleviates the plot boredom with some moments of
      mirth. And David Livingston does what he can with some director's
      techniques. But it's not nearly enough to make an interesting story out of
      relentlessly uninteresting events.

      Rating: *1/2


      "Unimatrix Zero" -- Airdate: 5/24/2000. Teleplay by Brannon Braga & Joe
      Menosky. Story by Mike Sussman. Directed by Allan Kroeker.

      All setup and no payoff characterizes yet another Borg-oriented
      season-ending cliffhanger, but a cliffhanger that works on its bottom
      line--entertainment value. The Borg have been twisted into a new version
      that doesn't seem to resemble the Borg that once were (the collective voice
      is not even heard once in the course of this episode). The Borg Queen is
      revealed here as having no purpose beyond serving as a narrative tool for
      the audience. But as a story it still manages to work, so I'm not going to
      dwell on the plausibility issue. The story brilliantly establishes the new
      idea of a "Borg virtual reality" where drones exist as individuals, and
      hints at the possibility of a Borg civil war (if we're going to keep using
      the Borg, these issues are where the gold lies). Seven's personal stake in
      the VR world, where she once existed, is put on hold. The twist is that
      Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres get assimilated, and that it's *part of the
      plan*. Yes, these people are clearly insane. I'll reserve judgment until
      part two; until then, what we have here is a reasonably engaging hour of
      sci-fi with some promise (as well as the potential for pratfall). The Borg
      may seem like a crutch, but they can still be used in effective stories.

      Rating: ***


      --
      PART 2: SEASON ANALYSIS

      Possibly the best way I can sum up my feelings based on what I saw in
      Voyager's sixth season is to say that I was tempted to open my fifth-season
      year-in-review commentary file and copy-and-paste the text into this space.
      Of course, I won't take that easy way out; I have *plenty* to say, even if
      the main points are largely the same as they were a year ago. My feelings on
      Voyager have changed little in the last year, though they've perhaps
      intensified significantly in some ways.

      Am I satisfied with Voyager? Not even close. Will I ever be? Doubt it.
      (After all, there's only one year left to make up for six seasons of
      meandering.) This series has had time to stake its claim in the Trek
      universe for six seasons now, which is longer than most television series
      can even hope to run. Of course, a year ago I could've guessed that we'd be
      exactly where we are now. In fact, I did--as far as I'm concerned, season
      six has become exactly what I predicted it would be: "Season Five, Part II,"
      which is also equivalent to "Season Four, Part III." With the reintroduction
      of the Borg and the addition of Seven of Nine, season four was the biggest
      turning point in this series from a creative standpoint (even though there
      weren't massive changes in story attitude). I wasn't truly satisfied with
      season four either, but in looking at things now, I see that it probably
      represents the high point for Voyager as a series in terms of looking for a
      purpose. It had an interesting new character and interesting things to say
      about her. It was venturing in some new directions. Seven of Nine was
      growing, exhibiting goals the writers had supplied her. Now, almost three
      years later, it seems we've reached the point of exhaustion again. Sure,
      there were certainly some high points and worthwhile stories this season,
      without a doubt. But in terms of this series staking out any coherent
      direction whatsoever, it's just not happening. At all.

      Voyager seems like it's waiting around for something and just burning time
      in the interim (albeit sometimes entertainingly). I guess that goes back to
      the original problem with Voyager, the problem that will continue to haunt
      it until either the series ends or the crew gets home, whichever comes
      first: the fact that the creators chose to blatantly ignore the most
      potentially compelling and believable aspects of their series, namely the
      whole idea of Voyager being on its own outside the Starfleet system. Should
      I bother discussing this again? You know how it goes: Voyager is alone with
      a crew that once was split down the middle, so it should exhibit its own
      unique flavor and personality and not simply be a rehash of past Trek series
      transplanted to an area where we get "new aliens." I've said it before and
      I'll say it again: Assuming you want to see something new in your Star Trek
      (and maybe you don't, but then what's the point?), what's more
      interesting--the idea of a crew having to change and adapt to a new
      environment, or the idea that doing business as usual in an unknown
      wilderness will get you by just as easily as it did back home?

      One needs to look no further than this season's premiere, "Equinox, Part
      II," which dealt with the very issues I'm referring to. Captain Ransom and
      his bunch were a desperate group of people who were dirty, tired, hungry,
      pushed to their limits, and therefore *changed*. Right or wrong, they broke
      Starfleet's moral rules because they felt they *had* to. They were backed
      into a corner, a stark contrast to Voyager. But once "Equinox" ends, we're
      snapped back into reality, or rather Voyager unreality, where such issues
      simply do not exist. "Equinox" proves that the Voyager creators know these
      issues exist in some form and that they're worth exploring, but because it
      exists independent of everything else, all "Equinox" does is highlight the
      road not taken by the series. I'm not saying that Voyager as a series ever
      had to be as dark as "Equinox," or even close, but they could've examined
      these issues in ways that gave this series its own flavor. Challenge the
      Starfleet code as we know it. But it never happens. Voyager is content to be
      TOS or TNG revisited, and it tells very few stories that couldn't have been
      told on those previous series. Again, it ignores its main premise and wants
      to live in a universe with which we're familiar--too familiar. It tries to
      tell us new things, but it goes about it in the most difficult way--by using
      the old formula, rather than adjusting the formula to facilitate the
      creation of new stories.

      Of course, this is nothing I haven't said before, possibly ad nauseam.
      Perhaps I should focus on something that isn't about the series' original
      premise. After all, why continue to cling to old issues that have long since
      been abandoned? Why not look at the series based on what it is today? Well,
      okay. I can try to do that.

      So what is Voyager? Well, it's not a series. (In most cases, the only thing
      that makes it a series is the fact that it uses the same cast every week.)
      The creators go out of their way to ensure that each story is a
      self-contained little adventure. In this series' ideal world, a show written
      two years ago could just as easily be written next week and you wouldn't be
      able to tell the difference. What the show wants to be, in a very conscious
      and deliberate way, is a collection of "one-hour TV movies." I doubt any of
      the show's producers would argue with that assessment. Clearly, their hope
      is that any average Joe can on any week of the year tune into Voyager,
      understand what's going on, and be entertained for an hour, whether they've
      seen 100 other episodes, or none. Does this work for such a person? Are they
      honestly entertained? I honestly can't say. I've seen every hour of Voyager
      since it premiered in 1995. I couldn't tell you what the casual viewer (or
      non-viewer) thinks of the series (maybe they're entertained, maybe they're
      not), except that, yes, they probably *would* understand it. The creators
      usually keep the stories so simple that, hell, what's there *not* to
      understand (aside from technobabble and gaffes in logic, naturally)?

      Personally, I think the Voyager writers too often grossly underestimate the
      intelligence of their audience (given the general attitude the series
      generally holds, it's almost amazing that an episode as patient as "Muse"
      could be made). They evidently don't think we can follow a story if it
      contains continuity, and they usually prefer to offer stories with explicit
      answers and simple payoffs. Something Ron Moore said in his now-infamous
      interview really stuck with me. He said: "The audience has watched
      television for a long time. They understand that they have missed some
      things, that perhaps this is a reference to a show that they didn't see.
      They aren't just going to throw up their hands and move on. If you are
      pre-supposing that, you are aiming towards the person that is grabbing a
      beer, and isn't really paying attention, and is walking out of the room
      every 10 minutes and coming back and sitting down; all you are going to do
      is dumb down the show. You are reducing it to its lowest common denominator,
      and what's the point of that?" I agree. I want to be challenged, not assumed
      as an idiot. There are millions of people watching shows like "ER" that
      maintain season-long character continuity, and shows like "Law & Order" with
      tricky moral grey areas and complicated legal dialog. If we're watching
      these shows in great numbers and apparently liking them, then it's safe to
      conclude we understand them and are not stupid.

      But anyway. I guess the question is whether or not the concept of "one-hour
      movies" works in practice. As the answer always is: sometimes yes, sometimes
      no. But in terms of a SERIES that holds any water, the answer is, well ...
      no. In order for a series like this to feel like it's going anywhere, there
      has to be some sense of direction and progress. What can you point to in
      Voyager's sixth season that signals any sort of progress for anyone?

      To be fair, I can actually think of a couple things. Most notably is Barclay
      contacting the Voyager crew in one of the season's best offerings,
      "Pathfinder." This is a plot advancement that also later played into "Life
      Line," and there's virtually no doubt now that contact with the Alpha
      Quadrant will play into the final season. It was a good choice to wait until
      season six to finally make this major breakthrough--and also a good idea to
      wait until late in the season to follow it up with even more progress ("Life
      Line"), namely the discovery that there will be monthly data transfers
      possible between Voyager and the Alpha Quadrant. Interestingly, the only
      common theme (take note: the Borg are not a theme) woven into the fabric of
      the series is the notion of the crew getting home. This seems natural, but
      since getting home is something reserved for near the end of the show's run
      (assuming at all), the writers owe us better use of themes that are based in
      the Delta Quadrant, *where the series is set*. Not surprisingly, it's
      exactly this aspect of the series that is woefully lacking. (It's probably
      been years since we had any sense that the crew was exploring a completely
      foreign area. They all seem like the Delta Quadrant is "been here, done
      this" and that they'll probably get home in a year; they certainly don't
      seem to think it will actually take 30.)

      Another thing that comes to mind concerning progress this season is Torres
      coming to grips with herself in "Barge of the Dead," a powerful story about
      personal struggle and ultimately the progress that comes in overcoming it.
      Unfortunately, this is the sort of progress that Voyager ultimately doesn't
      get right, because we get the allegation of such progress, but no subsequent
      evidence of it. Torres has changed, you say? Well, prove it. Show me that
      she is different somehow after "Barge of the Dead." Show me that she has
      embraced herself and the culture she has shunned for so long. Nope. As far
      as Torres' character is concerned, every episode after "Barge" might as well
      be interchangeable with every episode before it, and that's a waste.

      Which brings me to this year's main theme for the Jammer Voyager Commentary:
      the season's almost complete disregard for character development. Being the
      "one-hour movie" show that it is, this series has rarely emphasized complex,
      growing characters, this season or otherwise. But in the past it at least
      tried to give the characters something to do a few times each
      season--something based on personality or character insight. (The most
      noteworthy and useful example was of course the ongoing Janeway/Seven
      turmoil of season four.) This season, however, seems to have even further
      abandoned several characters, giving them even less to do than usual. The
      year's biggest victim: resident Vulcan Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok. Last year he at
      least had "Gravity," which looked into his past and some Vulcan subtleties.
      In season six, Tuvok was virtually nonexistent, except in the most
      superficial of ways. He's mostly the guy who stands at his post on the
      bridge and utters lines about phasers and shields. That's a waste of Tim
      Russ. It's also a waste to give him one pointless reset-button episode
      called "Riddles" in which he's basically playing the central role of
      "Flowers for Algernon" in reverse. This guy was interesting back in season
      one, when he was Janeway's confidant and made big decisions in shows like
      "Prime Factors." Now he's a cipher. It's appalling.

      The same goes for Chakotay. Aside from "Equinox" and "Unimatrix Zero," where
      he was playing his usual supporter/non-supporter role opposite Janeway,
      Chakotay's most notable exhibition of any sort of sentient existence was
      probably in "One Small Step," where he showed his interest in history and
      taught Seven a lesson about its importance. Other than that, Beltran has
      been relegated to the status of a gratuitous walk-on whose dialog could've
      been given to anyone.

      Now, I hate to sound harsh and beat a dead horse, but what Voyager has
      forgotten (or perhaps never understood) is that characters can indeed be
      more than devices to expel dialog that advances the plot. They can have
      personalities and opinions, attitudes and beliefs, personal obstacles and
      goals. Especially goals. Voyager needs more concrete goals for its
      characters beyond Solving This Week's Plot [TM]. Throwing in vignettes of
      personality here and there is nice, but if it they aren't consistent and
      don't add up to anything in the long run, they really aren't contributing to
      the larger canvas, are they?

      A perfect example of this problem reveals itself in "Unimatrix Zero" when
      Paris is promoted from ensign back to lieutenant. I must ask: Why? What's
      the dramatic reason for this promotion? Why Paris and not also Kim? We
      haven't seen anything representative of Paris making the captain
      particularly proud. (If anything, he's been as neglected as Tuvok or
      Chakotay, and the limit of his character depth has been established through
      his mid-20th-century TV watching and whatever we were supposed to get out of
      "Alice.") At the same time, are we to assume that six-year-ensign Harry Kim
      has just been a slacker? Or maybe that he's still being punished for having
      illegal sex? I mean, what, if anything, does this mean? When character
      points are arbitrary, they're not interesting--or worse, they undermine
      themselves because they have us simply scratching our heads. We need to have
      a reason to care.

      Interestingly, the one character that actually had a bit of a turnaround and
      benefited from this season was Neelix. He still may not have much of a
      plausible purpose (I don't buy him as an ambassador for a minute), but the
      stories seemed to make an effort to give Ethan Phillips more to chew on,
      like his believable historical research in "Dragon's Teeth" or his attempts
      to help Tuvok in "Riddles" (misguided as that episode was) or even the
      not-unreasonable idea of telling stories to kids in "Haunting of Deck
      Twelve." (Although, seeing as I rated each of these episodes at two stars or
      lower, maybe this is faint praise. So it goes.)

      Is it any surprise that the season's best episodes--"Barge of the Dead,"
      "Pathfinder," "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy," "Life Line"--were shows that
      actually focused on characters and gave them problems that we as people
      could understand? It may perhaps be of some irony that two of these shows
      focused on guest characters rather than regulars (Barclay in "Pathfinder"
      and Zimmerman in "Life Line") and two of them were Doc-oriented ("Tinker
      Tenor" and "Life Line"). This may be why I have a particular soft spot for
      "Barge"--it's an episode that has sympathy for one of the show's regulars
      who doesn't also double as one of the obvious stars of the series. In other
      words, it's not about Seven, the Doctor, or (to a lesser extent) Janeway.
      There's also "Muse," which was less about characters than pure storytelling
      (and full of irony given its subject matter), but it still gave most of the
      hour to Torres, which is rare, though thankfully not as rare as a lot of the
      other characters, who seem positively abandoned these days.

      Which brings us to another thing I see as a current problem on Voyager: the
      blatant overuse of Seven of Nine. I didn't mind it in season four when she
      got so much attention; after all, she was new and fresh. But now it's become
      almost ridiculous how often the writers fall back on Seven as what is
      increasingly bearing the resemblance of a crutch. Seven and the Doc are of
      course easier to write sci-fi stories about, since they're sci-fi characters
      by nature. But what about these other people? It's almost as if the writers
      are uncomfortable writing about them, or just don't care. Tuvok? Chakotay?
      Kim? Paris? Who? The Seven Spotlight really began to tire this season, and
      even her character is showing signs of wearing thin, repeating lessons
      rather than learning from them.

      What Voyager reveals itself as is a series that's all about plots. Not
      characters. This would be okay if enough of the plots worked as well as,
      say, "One Small Step" (which was about the concept of real exploration) or
      had something to say like "Memorial" (which supplied a classic Trek message
      narrative). But when we get by-the-numbers sci-fi stories like "Alice" or
      "Haunting of Deck Twelve"; or mark-missing action-oriented messes like
      "Dragon's Teeth" or "Collective"; or concepts that willfully throw logic to
      the wind like "Voyager Conspiracy," "Spirit Folk," or "Fury," then it's
      harder to take these plots on their dubious terms. And, of course, there's
      blatant disregard of basic elements of the series like in "Ashes to Ashes"
      or "Fury," which seem to make the Delta Quadrant the size of your average
      backyard, where ships can travel 40 or 50 thousand light-years in six
      months. Even "Pathfinder" couldn't seem to get the geography right,
      operating under the assumption that Voyager was 60,000 light-years out. Do
      none of the writers know or care about the distance remaining on this trip?
      If not, why have we *bothered* making all these jumps?

      I'm not a nitpicker and can overlook these things sometimes. But by being
      strictly about plot, the show becomes dangerously process oriented. And Star
      Trek--and sci-fi in general--should not be about a process. Shows like "Law
      & Order" can do stand-alone stories that follow the mechanical formula of a
      plot presiding over its characters, because they're *about* a process;
      that's the *point*. Sci-fi is about imagination, characters, dialog, and
      possibilities. When it becomes an "action" process, the point is lost.
      Voyager, in several cases this year, has walked perilously close to becoming
      a series about a bland process, and not about interesting sci-fi stories.

      As a side effect of becoming process-oriented "action," we get a symptom of
      over-reliance on those action scenes and twists, which is that the series
      just plain lacks conviction. We don't believe the suspense because not even
      the characters seem to believe there's any real danger lurking out there. I
      provide the example of "Unimatrix Zero," where three characters get
      assimilated on purpose. Granted, we don't know how this will play out, but
      any plot where characters dive into a situation knowing they're going to be
      surgically mutilated and connected to a hive mind is a plot where the
      characters must be as aware of the Reset Button as we in the audience are.
      The illusion breaks down and all suspense is lost. The same goes with having
      battles every week with no dramatic point or consequences. I'm not saying
      that we have to see every crisis followed up and all damage to the ship
      logged and referenced in some subsequent episode--not at all. But what I am
      saying is that Voyager action is boring precisely because it's overused to
      the point of routine (camera shakes, people lurch, circuits explode, etc.).
      It loses its impact and seems gratuitously inserted for the purposes of
      having a way to market the episode in the promos. (Marketing itself seems to
      be a possible problem behind all these problems. The studio appears so
      concerned with mandating safe formulas and avoiding risks that might
      "alienate" their audience that they've forgotten that maybe people are still
      willing to watch a show because it's *good*, not because it's
      demographic-friendly.)

      Now, I certainly don't mean to say this series is all bad, because it's not.
      Really. Accepted on its terms, considering each show independently--which is
      what, if I listen to the creators, is what I'm "supposed" to do--then the
      shows improve somewhat. And by the virtues of direction, solid regular cast
      (albeit a not-so-great guest cast) and first-rate production values (Voyager
      is possibly the best-looking and best-produced sci-fi on television in terms
      of visuals and art direction) this series manages to create a
      believable-feeling, fast-paced universe stylistically and atmospherically,
      even though the stories don't always live up to the technical skill. Like
      last year, I'll note the paradox that I find this show more enjoyable
      considered in isolated slices--if I allow myself to forget that everything
      that comes before and after doesn't matter--but thinking about it later
      leaves a bitter taste because I realize that very seldom does anything lead
      out of anywhere or into anything. The starship doesn't have the necessary
      ostensible purpose beyond the real one that we're not supposed to be
      thinking about: that they exist purely as a diversion for us.

      Still, if you're talking in terms of straight-up story quality, I propose
      that it could be much worse than it is, simply by juxtaposing this season of
      Voyager with this season of "The X-Files," which has become an unwatchable
      travesty of laughably ill-conceived plots, bad comedy and self-parody that
      sinks like a brick, and boring "larger themes" that are so ridiculously
      tired and muddled beyond any sensibility for intrigue that it makes Voyager
      look solid and well-thought-out by comparison. (But I digress.) It seems to
      me that the Voyager creators, by treating every episode on its own and
      starting from ground zero every week, perhaps have stacked the deck against
      themselves by making their jobs harder than they should be, yet somehow
      manage to work within those confines anyway. Why they do it is beyond me,
      but they deserve some sort of credit for attempting the impossible, I guess.

      Or maybe not. I'm sorry, but the approach we get to storytelling on Voyager
      doesn't cut it. It's a series whose message is essentially "nothing really
      matters, so just enjoy yourself." And in the meantime we get some good
      episodes, some bad episodes, and a lot of mediocre episodes. A steady diet
      of mediocre makes it a little harder to enjoy oneself. And if while we're
      watching, none of it convinces us that it matters, who honestly cares?
      There's the key problem.

      Voyager's sixth season also marks the departure of two veteran Trek
      writer/producers in Ron Moore (who left after three episodes last summer
      under unhappy circumstances) and Joe Menosky (who will not be returning to
      staff next season except possibly for the cliffhanger resolution). Both
      these guys have been known to track fan opinion on our niche out here on the
      Internet, and for that I'm glad. Personally, I'd also like to thank Menosky
      for letting me rend his ear from time to time and for inviting me out to the
      studio this past March.

      Looking ahead to season seven, and trying to offer a little bit of optimism
      to counter my dwelling on the negatives, I'll close with a positive
      sentiment: Since Voyager is in fact heading into its last season and the
      creators know this, they might be motivated to deal intelligently with the
      issue of Voyager returning to the Alpha Quadrant. Touches like Admiral
      Hayes' curiosity about the Maquis in "Life Line" give me a glimmer of hope
      for a season that, if not for the expectation of Voyager returning home, I
      would write off as doomed by precedent to become "Season Four, Part IV." We
      may have given up on the Delta Quadrant, but there's still quite a bit of
      potential here in going back to the Alpha Quadrant. Voyager's track record
      doesn't have me enthused, but hope springs eternal. Heck, they'd better do
      *something*, dammit.

      I'll see you this fall for Voyager's final season. Hopefully, it won't suck.
      Maybe it'll even be good. Until then, ciao.

      -----
      Copyright (c) 2000 by Jamahl Epsicokhan, all rights reserved. Unauthorized
      reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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