Top 10 Episodes: Star Trek: Voyager – Season 4
Let’s be honest: after three “okay” seasons of Voyager, there needed to be a shake-up. Kes wasn’t the most interesting character, and some fresh blood needed to be brought in.
Enter: Seven of Nine.
Now some may say she saved the show and her rather high visual appeal was a cheap stunt pulled by the Voyager show runners. For one, the show was by no means awful up to this point, it just needed some reworking. As for the Seven of Nine character – I think few would have been able to predict the fantastic job Jeri Ryan did playing the part. She brought complexity, humanity and real heart to the role and was the source of several excellent stories that couldn’t have been done without her former-Borg character.
True, there may be some validity to the fact that at times Voyager felt like the “Seven of Nine Show”, but her effect on all the series regulars were positive and the show really started to pick up when she arrived.
Here are the Top 10 Episodes of Star Trek: Voyager – Season 4.
10. The Raven
We learn a little more backstory regrading Seven of Nine here, and there is some nice abstract imagery during her flashbacks to her time as a child. The use of an actual raven worked really well, and the slow motion Borg combined with the bird’s screeching was effective.
Interesting to see just how easy it was for Seven to escape the ship without harm, not to mention take on several of the Bomar ships simultaneously. One wonders why Janeway and the crew were so quick to remove the Borg technology off the ship after “Scorpion”; perhaps some of those systems could have been used to make Voyager just as capable.
9. Waking Moments
Think Inception, but not QUITE as stylized, star-studded or complex.
A good installment, and it gets Chakotay some work. Now it is true: the concept is a bit out there. A race of beings that exist in the dream world, while in the “waking world” they are just a bunch of bodies in a cave….sleeping. But nevertheless there are some good moments, and some good action as well. Is this the first time we see the engineering “smock” on B’Elanna? Pretty sure this was used to help cover up the pregnant Roxann Dawson.
The conversation between the rest of the crew in the cargo bay as they try and figure out what is going on is a highlight, and even Neelix has a few good lines that don’t come off as annoying.
8. Year of Hell, Part II
Here we get to see more of what Chakotay and Paris are going through while Voyager (somehow) continues to limp through space day in and day out. (The Doctor has a point, Janeway sure seems to be acting a little more reckless and with less regard for her personal safety lately – perhaps it was the haircut.) We get more insight as to why Annorax is the way he is, and you can’t help for feel for the guy. Maybe just a little.
It’s interesting how Paris thinks Annorax is completely out of his mind for associating human qualities (like mood swings) to time, meanwhile Janeway sees Voyager almost like another part of the crew: something that has nurtured them and taken care of our lost heroes all this time. No one bats an eye. (Except for Tuvok. Although at this point he is blind – can he bat an eye if he wanted to?)
Speaking of Tuvok, his exchange with Janeway before they leave her alone on Voyager may be the best part of the episode. It is touching, and the swelling music in the background is perfect for that moment.
We also get another great one-liner from Janeway: “Time’s….up!”
7. Year of Hell, Part I
We actually get to see the story line in full that Kes mentioned back in “Before and After” from Season 3.
Is it not odd though that Janeway has forgotten everything Kes told her about the Krenim? We get our first look at Astrometics, and The Doctor continues to get better and better as a character. Janeway sports the new shorter haircut in this episode that would stay until the end of the series.
A Star Trek Universe-wide inconsistency is on full display in “Year of Hell”; how is it in some battles a few shots can completely cripple Voyager and put them on the brink of imminent destruction, but here the ship somehow manages to stay intact and functional (enough) to last several months (almost a year), without ultimately blowing apart in another skirmish? Regardless of that, seeing the ship in such disrepair is visually compelling, as well as watching how the crew adapts to each new problem.
6. Scientific Method
Some of the crew start experiencing brutal mutations to their physiology and it is discovered that there are beings just outside our visual spectrum that are running scientific experiments on the unaware Voyager crew. This is an entertaining episode throughout.
“Scientific Method” had a nice bookend with Tom and B’Elanna following their budding relationship, with a little Seven/Doctor teamwork in between. Kate Mulgrew is great as the strung out, exhausted, short tempered Janeway. She is also quickly becoming the Star Trek Queen of the One-Liners. Some great quick thinking on The Doctor’s part and utilizing Seven’s unique remaining Borg implants.
While it may seem a little silly having two patients comparing just how bad a shape they are in, the scene with Chakotay and Neelix in Sick Bay is pretty funny.
A very Seven-centric episode – and that’s okay.
Voyager reaches a point in space where the only viable option to get through it is to put the entire crew in stasis for just over a month leaving only Seven and The Doctor to care for the ship. These two characters have worked really well together and we get another example of how The Doctor is trying to help Seven adapt to “human” life with the aid of his lessons. The antagonist in “One” is very effective, even though half his time is spent talking to Seven over the intercom. He has the perfect voice to properly unsettle both her and the viewer.
4. Scorpion, Part II
A pretty solid conclusion to what was started in the Season 3 finale.
Chakotay really gets to take center stage when Janeway is knocked out of commission. It’s too bad we didn’t get to see more of him in this role as the series went on, as he’s a strong character when he gets the opportunity to be so.
True, the CGI of the mid-90’s hasn’t aged well, but we don’t see too much of Species 8471 for it to really be a problem.
The real story here though is the introduction of a new character to Voyager: Seven of Nine. TNG had taken the Klingon villains and made one of them part of the crew, and this time around it’s Voyager taking a much maligned villain through the years and making one of them our own.
A nice little one-two punch Voyager has here, with back to back episodes involving the Hirogen.
After encountering the big baddies in “Hunters”, the show comes right back the next week with “Prey”. However, perhaps it’s not the prey we thought it would be: turns out the Hirogen are hunting a lone member of Species 8472. This is where things get interesting.
Tony Todd continues his Star Trek guest appearances, this being his first on Voyager, as one of the Hirogen hunters. There is a great scene with him, Chakotay and Paris suiting up to hunt Species 8472 and Tom recollects his time hunting a mouse. Seven really takes a stand in this one, and it’s hard not to agree with her argument after being disciplined by Janeway. Turning the ship itself into a hunting ground was a good idea, and there is plenty of action throughout “Prey” to make this a pretty entertaining episode.
A tale of two halves in this one, with the first part getting rather emotional at times while the back half is all about surviving against Star Trek’s version of….The Predator?
Voyager encounters a massive communications relay and starts getting letters from home. Meanwhile, a race of “hunters” known as the Hirogen is monitoring Voyager’s actions and aren’t taking kindly to it. The hunt is on. The Hirogen’s main goal in life seems to be to hunt down prey, and take trophies from their victims -hence the Predator similarity. The two Hirogen encountered in this episode are also quite tall and an imposing presence.
With regards to hearing back from the Alpha Quadrant, Chakotay’s letter about the fate of the Maquis unfortunately has little emotional impact. It would have been one thing if the show had followed its original course and a half Federation, half Maquis crew and the tensions therein had continued. But by this point even the word “Maquis” is so far removed that it is a little more difficult to sympathise with Chakotay and B’Elanna than say Janeway and the news she was given. One thing is for sure, seeing our characters hear back from home definitely reignites feelings of hope for this crew that they will eventually finally make it to their destination…one day.
1. Living Witness
A fun episode and a pretty meaningful one at heart as well.
Any alternate reality/different vision of our characters and the ship is always fun, and this one does a good job of that off the start. We get a much darker looking Voyager, both literally and thematically. The crew all wear leather gloves, the Doctor is an android, Chakotay’s tattoo has expanded and Janeway is ruthless. And let’s not forget the weapon upgrades on Voyager. Soon we see that this is a recreation of events as two races of people see it, trying to explain their history. There is only one problem: through a discovery, The Doctor’s program is found and he has a very different retelling of events.
This leads to further hostilities between the two peoples, and a great vessel for which The Doctor’s character to shine. Robert Picardo’s character has slowly risen since the first season to one of prominence and ironically, one of the most human characters on the show. Many of his episodes are standouts, and “Living Witness” is another example of that.