On one level, Star Trek: Voyager feels forced. It’s like that D&D campaign where people decided to make characters they hadn’t played before, like the Orcish Ranger, the Tiefling Paladin, and the Dwarven Bard. I really didn’t take to it at first.
However, in going back to watch the entire series, it definitely rose in my estimation. For one thing, they did two-parter episodes really well — so much so that I really wonder why they went with a one-part season finale for season four. I mean, “Hope and Fear” was good, and the fifth season opener “Night” was even better, but man, I wanted another “Scorpion” or “Equinox.”
In short, Voyager did what every other Trek series has managed to do: tell some timeless sci-fi stories well. If the tone and quality was uneven — and if it seemed like they went back to particular Trek wells a bit too often rather than delving for their own– that may explain why they don’t get as high in the overall rankings. Indeed, this is a show that had both a pile of dismembered Borg and a charming storybook holodeck program designed to amuse children. I wish there was some kind of way I could drive this home…
Note: Everything below may contain spoilers and definitely contains some snark.
Let me come right out and say it: this woman made Admiral for a reason. Faced with seven years of tough decisions while she had to keep a stiff upper lip that would impress Hornblower, she not only got her crew home, she did it bringing new technology and by decisively defeating the Borg. Janeway is awesome (and being an ardent scientist is an added bonus).
Look, any XO (executive officer) is going to be a bit tough on occasion. It’s their job. When it comes to serving under XOs, Spock and T’Pol might be Vulcan sticklers and it’s well established Kira needs medical prescriptions to have fun. But Chakotay? Chakotay is that XO who understands. While Matt McCoy’s Devinoni Ral probably has him beat as “most sensitive man in the Star Trek universe,” Chakotay is definitely in the running. I bet he’ll sign your leave slip.
Half-Human, half-Klingon, all engineer: you know the deal.
The would-be oh-so bad boy really comes across as more of a rapscallion. He’s not a favorite, but he sometimes adds a very necessary amount of snark to the show that could sometimes get too serious.
Speaking of serious, let’s talk about Tuvok. If he was ever a straighter straight man, he’d be used by comedy statisticians to calibrate their instruments. He probably thinks that “comedy statisticians” are a thing. Tuvok, babe: don’t ever change.
Combining elements of Wesley Crusher’s enthusiasm, Geordi’s romantic mishaps, and O’Brien’s tendency to suffer, poor Ensign Kim probably had one of the worst seven-year journeys of all of them (the sad fate of Lt. Carey notwithstanding). I certainly hope he got a promotion on his return.
Seven of Nine
Jeri Ryan plays a perfectly fine continuation of the character commenting on humanity from afar (even though she is human under all the Borg nurturing and nanotech). Alas, the promise of a more ambitious character arc hinted at the beginning of season 4, in which her Borg implants could be removed and she could more fully reassert her humanity, basically stalled (I’m sure the producers felt it wasn’t broken, so why fix it?).
The clear “breakout character” of Voyager, the Doctor’s character arc throughout the series was a joy to see, even if we didn’t always dig the opera. The fact that he became more personable and well-rounded while maintaining an acerbic core is a tribute to Robert Picardo.
I’m not saying every starship couldn’t use a cheerful bar rodent (Q’s term, not mine). I’m saying he’s the Pumpkin Spice of Star Trek characters: good for certain situations, not for every storyline.
What if we had someone who was just incredibly nice? Oh, and she has untapped psychic powers? And let’s not have her do much of anything, okay?
Season 2, Episode 15
Meddle not with the mysteries of the universe by going to warp 10, otherwise you too may turn into a giant space salamander, your captain will turn into a giant space salamander, and you shall mate with one another. No, I’m not kidding.
Season 2, Episode 24
Okay, I’m going to give unequivocal props to Tom Wright for his portrayal of Tuvix. He’s a great actor who you can see doing great work in no end of films. Many consider this a great exploration of morality and identity in the grand Trek tradition. Perhaps I’d be more forgiving if it was one of the crazy-go-nuts episodes of the animated series (which got really crazy). Nevertheless, I’ve watched it multiple times and I still can’t take it seriously.
Season 2, Episode 7
Do you really need to spend an entire episode with Tom and Neelix bickering? No.
158) “The 37’s”
Season 2, Episode 1
The appearance of an odd object in space (a hand, Abraham Lincoln, a truck) never bodes well. At least some of the other episodes that start off this way have the decency to explore some intriguing ideas. This episode, however, spends undue attention to the heretofore unknown “Blue Alert” which normal people call “landing your damn spacecraft” and then proceeds to have the most interesting action of the story occur off camera (e.g., the visit to the civilization the humans’ built, the unlikely decision by all of the crew to stay on Voyager). What a sour note to start a season on.
Season 1, Episode 3
Say, how about we begin our first season with a little bit of the Maquis getting integrated with the Voyager crew and a whole lot of technobabble?
Season 2, Episode 4
Kes is feeling frisky. How about we give her and Neelix the room?
155) “Blood Fever”
Season 3, Episode 16
Apparently, the only way to advance the Tom/B’Elanna relationship is by making Pon Farr contagious.
Season 1, Episode 14
“The Enemy Within” without any energy and zero cute space dogs.
153) “Fair Trade”
Season 3, Episode 13
Neelix wants to feel important. This episode isn’t.
Season 1, Episode 13
An unremarkable alien possession story.
151) “The Haunting of Deck Twelve”
Season 6, Episode 25
Did you really think an episode with this title would be anything more than padding to get to the season finale? Blah.
Season 6, Episode 5
The possessed spaceship plot does little but reaffirm that Tom and B’Elanna do, in fact, have a relationship.
Season 2, Episode 21
An anemic entry into the alternate timeline story is nothing special. Wait until “Shattered” and ”Endgame.”
Season 1, Episode 15
Some good ideas about prejudice and forgiveness are explored here, but it’s proportionate to how much you like Neelix.
Season 1, Episode 5
The Vidiians are introduced and, although they’re potentially a fun “villain race,” this episode is mainly unsatisfying.
146) “Sacred Ground”
Season 3, Episode 7
Look, the whole matter of Janeway coming to balance her love of science with a bit of faith is okay, but not great. The main reason I’m ever rewatching this episode is for Estelle Harris, Keene Curtis, Harry Groener, and, especially, Parley Baer. And for you young whipper-snappers who don’t know who they are, get off my sacred ground!
145) “Prime Factors”
Season 1, Episode 10
Tuvok betrays Janeway’s trust for what turns out to be no good reason. I mean, it’s logical, but we’re all a bit bummed by the end of this.
144) “The Fight”
Season 5, Episode 19
Chakotay likes boxing so much he will even box characters that seem to be from a Jack Kirby fever dream.
143) “Vis à Vis”
Season 4, Episode 20
Tom Paris is a jerk in a way that Tom Paris is not usually a jerk because of ALIENS.
Season 2, Episode 19
The Doctor falls in love and B’Elanna learns a bit more compassion, and, um, that’s about it.
141) “Favorite Son”
Season 3, Episode 20
Alien femmes have designs on Harry Kim, which means his romantic life remains bad.
140) “Good Shepherd”
Season 6, Episode 20
Janeway works on team-building, which somehow turns into a life-or-death situation.
139) “Spirit Folk”
Season 6, Episode 17
Due to a glitch, the residents of Fair Haven become more self-aware and — oh, for the love of all that’s Trek, can we give the malfunctioning holodeck episodes a rest?
Season 2, Episode 6
The crew pads for time as they explore Voyager-as-Magic-Labyrinth
137) “Human Error”
Season 7, Episode 18
An okay character-based episode where Seven of Nine tries to sort out how human she wants to become or can become. It errs a bit more on the frustrating versus existential side, though I suppose if it was in French with B&W cinematography it would be hailed at Cannes.
136) “Fair Haven”
Season 6, Episode 11
How can Captain Janeway experience any romance on the long journey home? Why the holodeck, of course! If you’re on board for Voyager, this episode scratches a good character-based itch.
135) “Someone to Watch Over Me”
Season 5, Episode 22
It’s Pygmalion with the Doctor and Seven of Nine. Tell you more? It’s nice work if you can get it I suppose, but at the end, the Doctor, pardon my English, goes girl crazy. Okay, I’ll stop with the Gershwin references.
Season 7, Episode 19
John de Lancie and John de Lancie’s son play Q and Q’s son in this final Q outing. If you liked Q on Voyager, you’ll like this.
133) “Live Fast and Prosper”
Season 6, Episode 21
A somewhat charming, but far from amazing episode where the Voyager crew contend with some flim-flamming imposters. If the term “flim-flam” made you queasy, this probably isn’t for you.
132) “Alter Ego”
Season 3, Episode 14
Harry falls for the wrong person… again. Tuvok does not prove to be a good wingman.
Season 4, Episode 25
Seven of Nine learns that Voyager might just be her new collective. Awww.
130) “Author, Author”
Season 7, Episode 20
What rights do writers who are holograms have? The Doctor finds out.
129) “The Cloud”
Season 1, Episode 6
Janeway’s coffee-based motivation is never clearer than in this episode. Not bad, but could use a bit more story cream and sugar.
128) “The Chute”
Season 3, Episode 3
Tom and Harry are wrongfully incarcerated and have to go through the typical motions of a prison story.
Season 2, Episode 20
Neelix as an investigative journalist is somewhat mitigated by his efforts moving the Seska/Kazon storyline along.
Season 2, Episode 3
A kind of fun take on the Trek “mind-warp” tale where the Doctor questions his holographic existence. Hey, Philip K. Dick’s android said it was okay.
125) “Mortal Coil”
Season 4, Episode 12
Neelix gets very existential exploring his ideas of the afterlife. Thoughtful.
124) “Life Line”
Season 6, Episode 24
Robert Picardo gets to do a father-son drama playing both parts! Decent.
Season 6, Episode 10
A little Barclay goes a long way and this episode gives you a lot of Barclay. Gird your holodeck loins!
122) “Learning Curve”
Season 1, Episode 16
The Maquis learn that “discipline” and “procedure” aren’t just things Starfleet created to annoy them and Tuvok learns to improvise. A little.
Season 3, Episode 6
B’Elanna goes on a magical mystery tour… in her mind. Okay, it’s more mystery than magical, but it’ll do.
Season 3, Episode 18
What if the Doctor was EVIL?
Season 2, Episode 9
Thrill to the… okay, Marvel to the… Fine. Observe Chakotay’s backstory adventures in Flashback-Land.
118) “Non Sequitur”
Season 2, Episode 5
Harry gets caught in an alternate timestream allowing him to suffer general AND romantic angst.
117) “Real Life”
Season 3, Episode 22
B’Elanna is something of a jerk, the Doctor gets the O’Brien treatment, and your room may get a bit dusty at the end of this one.
116) “Waking Moments”
Season 4, Episode 13
If you like Chakotay and lucid dreaming, you’re going to love this episode.
Season 2, Episode 12
A rather touching tale absolutely aided by Joel Grey.
114) “Child’s Play”
Season 6, Episode 19
Icheb’s parents are not nice. I mean, you can understand their motivations in a ends-justifies-the-means kind of Greek mythology not-nice way, but they’re still not nice.
Season 6, Episode 13
The Doctor learns a great deal about fame and fads.
Season 7, Episode 3
A reasonably involving story where a multi-species spacecraft race is used to illustrate B’Elanna and Tom’s relationship. They also make time for Harry to be unlucky in love again.
111) “Ex Post Facto”
Season 1, Episode 8
It’s TNG’s “A Matter of Perspective” with a little smattering of DS9’s “Hard Time” with Tom as the Riker/O’Brien stand-in.
110) “Heroes and Demons”
Season 1, Episode 12
A surprisingly enjoyable holodeck outing where the Doctor contends with a Beowulf-type tale. I’m still bummed he didn’t stick with the name “Schweitzer.”
Season 2, Episode 2
You get both Nog and the Vasquez Rocks in this story of a young Kazon training to become a proper dudebro Kazon.
Season 3, Episode 12
Janeway does her best Linda Hamilton impersonation as she takes on a macro-virus. If you’re on board for a wacky monster-of-the-week episode, it’s pretty fun.
Season 7, Episode 4
Tuvok is the Manchurian Vulcan in a reasonably effective mystery-thriller.
Season 6, Episode 16
Borg children are precocious. And by “precocious,” I mean “just as deadly as regular Borg if they can get away with it.”
Season 2, Episode 25
Some attempts at serial storytelling come into play here what with callbacks to previous encounters with the Vidiians (aka, your make-up class final exam) as well as exploring the relationship between Chakotay and Janeway. However, there’s nothing exceptional.
Season 3, Episode 15
Janeway experiences a bit of Groundhog Day. There’s a lot of temporary death in this episode, which, depending on how you feel about the Voyager characters, is either a plus or a minus.
103) “The Gift”
Season 4, Episode 2
Let’s officially make the ensemble change from Kes to Seven of Nine and give Kes a good sendoff, okay?
102) “Extreme Risk”
Season 5, Episode 3
A notable story in introducing us to the Delta Flyer as well as showing a character work through clinical depression. Because let’s face it, life in a Star Trek series is pretty taxing for one’s mental health.
Season 1, Episode 9
An enjoyably philosophical episode comfortably in the Trek wheelhouse looking at beliefs around the afterlife. Plus, Harry Kim is tormented physically and mentally, so you get to check both those boxes off your Voyager bingo card.
100) “Nothing Human”
Season 5, Episode 8
Following in the footsteps of TNG’s “Ethics,” the Doctor gets to question whether he can benefit from the research of a Cardassian Dr. Mengele type. Maybe not gold medal, but still Olympic-level wrestling with morals.
99) “Before and After”
Season 3, Episode 21
An entertaining enough story where Kes becomes “unstuck in time,” serving as a prelude to the following season’s excellent “Year of Hell.”
98) “The Disease”
Season 5, Episode 17
Yes, Harry has another failed romance which, actually, almost kills him. In the meantime however, he gets his groove on and we get to see some okay drama about a generation ship.
Season 7, Episode 2
Character building between Icheb and Seven of Nine which isn’t bad, but rather dependent on you being more than a casual viewer.
96) “The Swarm”
Season 3, Episode 4
Irwin Allen is nowhere to be found in this installment which is titularly about xenophobic aliens and their flocks of ships, but really is more about what to do with the Doctor who has outgrown his holographic specs.
Season 7, Episode 13
A solid scenario where Federation ideals such as non-interference and no capital punishment come in conflict with a race that plans to execute some of their criminals. Good character moments for several of the crew.
Season 3, Episode 19
If you like the idea of space elevators and can abide by Neelix, you’re going to be perfectly happy with this one.
Season 6, Episode 6
Neelix finally gets to be besties with Tuvok, but Voyager still needs a good tactical officer, so his possible new career path as a jazz-loving baker is cut short.
Season 7, Episode 23
The producers wisely realize that Delta Quadrant native Neelix probably won’t like being the lone Talaxian in the Federation and so they send him off in decent style, where he gets to rally a colony of his people against miners in a clear Homesteaders/ranchers homage. Bonus points for the obvious, but enjoyable bit of closure with Tuvok.
Season 7, Episode 8
Okay, so maybe it’s okay for Harry Kim to remain an ensign for a while.
90) “Workforce” (Parts I & II)
Season 7, Episodes 16 & 17
A decent, but not standout two-parter that gives some good character moments, especially, for Janeway and the Doctor — yet the story doesn’t match some of Voyager’s more epic two-parters.
89) “The Voyager Conspiracy”
Season 6, Episode 9
Seven of Nine becomes a poster child for the every instructor who has ever wanted to illustrate how data is different from information which is different from knowledge which is different from wisdom.
88) “Once Upon a Time”
Season 5, Episode 5
A charming tale about Neelix living up to his role as Voyager‘s morale officer with a fun little world-building reveal at the end featuring Janeway, making you speculate whether there are holodeck versions of Goodnight Moon and Dr. Seuss books.
Season 3, Episode 10
Jennifer Lien has a field day playing a would-be military dictator who can’t quite escape Kes’ irrepressible niceness.
86) “Scientific Method”
Season 4, Episode 7
Pitiless aliens experiment on the crew once again making a critical mistake pretty much all the villains make on Voyager: when you go against Janeway, you have to go all-in.
Season 6, Episode 15
A decent but not particularly surprising diversion of an episode involving gladiatorial combat. You could say this episode puts Seven of Nine between The Rock and a hard place. I won’t say it, but you might.
84) “Think Tank”
Season 5, Episode 20
Nefarious aliens will get what they want, and they want Seven of Nine! But have you noticed people who cross Janeway tend to wind up broken or dead?
83) “The Q and the Grey”
Season 3, Episode 11
The repercussions of “Death Wish” come to pass in an entertaining enough outing where John de Lancie’s self-important Q is joined by Suzie Plakson as his significant Q other. Bonus meta points for Miss Q flattering B’Elanna about Klingons.
Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2
A somewhat perfunctory, but decent enough series premiere gives us a taste of what to look forward to –and what we might find annoying– about the latest Star Trek series. That they revisit Janeway’s fateful decision to strand themselves in the Delta quadrant because of Federation ideals later in the series is good. It’s also nice that Voyager represents some technical sophistication after endless episodes of the Enterprise (in multiple series) being completely outclassed (and it also gives a good covetous motivation for the new villains, the Kazon).
Season 2, Episode 14
In a great move for the overall Kazon narrative, Janeway and the crew find the limits of selling the Kazon on their Federation principles. Cultures used to betrayals and power games tend not to change overnight.
80) “Day of Honor”
Season 4, Episode 3
A good entry in both B’Elanna’s ongoing exploration of her Klingon heritage and her relationship with Tom Paris.
Season 5, Episode 2
Mix a transporter mishap with the Borg and 29th century technology and you have yourselves a spicy meatball of an episode!
Season 4, Episode 17
A tale of assault, abuse, doubt, and trust that offers enough great moments for Seven, Janeway, and the Doctor to make one feel properly uncomfortable.
77) “Infinite Regress”
Season 5, Episode 7
Jeri Ryan gets to act her socks off and Naomi Wildman continues her quest to become the “captain’s assistant.” Fun all around.
76) “Latent Image”
Season 5, Episode 11
The Doctor gets to experience conflict as never before in a thought-provoking story about ethics and choice.
Season 7, Episode 12
As with many couples suddenly facing a family addition, Tom and B’Elanna are forced to consider their heritage. B’Elanna’s struggles with her familial baggage are very real and a welcome presence in a Star Trek story.
74) “Friendship One”
Season 7, Episode 21
Do you remember Lieutenant Carey? He’s been with us since season one. Prepare to be depressed.
Season 7, Episode 14
A good story filled with enough action that will in no way alleviate B’Elanna’s anxiety about having a baby as her unborn child may be the Kuvah’magh… or the Kwisatz Haderach… or both! Also, for better or worse, we discover more about Neelix’s tastes in women.
72) “Natural Law”
Season 7, Episode 22
A perfectly enjoyable Trek outing about cultural progress and survival focusing on Chakotay and Seven of Nine.
71) “Time and Again”
Season 1, Episode 4
Writer David Kemper would go on to explore more time travel and causality themes in Farscape, but despite some technobabble, this is an entertaining entry. Bonus points for showing how Tom Paris can do some math in his head.
70) “Thirty Days”
Season 5, Episode 9
A good framing device often adds to the richness of any story as well as drawing you in. Here, we want to know what happened that led to Tom’s demotion and we get some good wrestling with the Prime Directive as well.
69) “Survival Instinct”
Season 6, Episode 2
Seven of Nine being a first-class tool back when she was part of the collective has some repercussions. Also, Vaughan Armstrong needs to play another Star Trek race.
68) “Inside Man”
Season 7, Episode 6
While not as intricate a plot as the film “Inside Man,” this Dwight Schultz-packed story of deceit is reasonably satisfying.
67) “The Omega Directive”
Season 4, Episode 21
The “omega particles” are about as ridiculous science as “red matter,” but it does make for some entertaining space opera amid the technobabble.
66) “Eye of the Needle”
Season 1, Episode 7
A nice installment for season one, where the crew is still focused on getting out of the whole premise of being in the Delta Quadrant in the first place. Space-time twists can be the worst twists, can’t they?
Season 5, Episode 21
The character storyline of B’Elanna learning to deal with her rage and the plot storyline of monster aboard the freighter don’t quite mesh, but the resulting episode works well enough.
64) “Cold Fire”
Season 2, Episode 10
Kes learns more about her mutant -er- psychic powers from Gary Graham, who’s clearly honing his multilayered antagonist character in advance of playing Soval on “Enterprise.” Plus, we get followup on the Caretaker of sorts.
63) “Renaissance Man”
Season 7, Episode 24
We get one last relatively light adventure before the grim series finale, and focusing on the breakout character that is the Doctor is a good way to do it. If “The Blue Danube” isn’t stuck in your head by the end of this episode, you may have a natural resistance to earworms.
62) “Random Thoughts”
Season 4, Episode 10
The premise of a race of telepaths who have a secret longing for unsavory thoughts makes this a fun mystery with allegorical overtones.
Season 6, Episode 23
Kes is back for character-based closure –and a few explosions– and it works out pretty well.
60) “False Profits”
Season 3, Episode 5
In a fun follow-up to TNG’s “The Price,” we find the Ferengi lost in the Delta Quadrant are behaving like, well, Ferengi.
59) “Dragon’s Teeth”
Season 6, Episode 7
Voyager shows off its visual effects budget as we are introduced to the Vaadwaur, an ancient race not unlike the Iconians, except they used subspace tunnels versus portals as their chosen tool of conquest. Despite their antagonistic potential, we sadly never see them again in the series.
58) “Barge of the Dead”
Season 6, Episode 3
Both Klingon world-building and B’Elanna Torres character-building are on display as we get a look at Klingon hell (well, mainly the metaphorical road to hell and how it’s paved).
57) “Persistence of Vision”
Season 2, Episode 8
Not content to have just one crew member experience a “mind warp” episode, the writers cleverly figure out how to get just about the whole crew involved. The villain, sadly, never appears again.
56) “Ashes to Ashes”
Season 6, Episode 18
The idea of an alien species reproducing by re-purposing old humanoid corpses is almost as interesting as the lengths Voyager‘s writers will go to in order to cause Harry Kim romantic heartache.
55) “Critical Care”
Season 7, Episode 5
A very blatant allegorical look at healthcare which is just as topical –if not more so– that it was when it aired about 20 years ago.
Season 5, Episode 10
A solid, enjoyable episode mixing elements of a heist or “long con” caper with a noble Starfleet goal of protecting people who are too different for an uptight race. Guest star Mark Harelik channels William Campbell’s Original Series performances as ingratiating villains, and Janeway gets to show her own form of three-dimentional thinking.
Season 2, Episode 11
Machinations with the Kazon –aided directly by Seska being the schemer she is and indirectly by Chakotay being a bit of an idiot– make this a decent entry in the overarching Kazon storyline.
Season 4, Episode 4
Chakotay gets brainwashed to fight in someone else’s war in a story with allegorical overtones of far too many conflicts around the globe.
51) “State of Flux”
Season 1, Episode 11
Seska has multiple secrets as the Kazon storyline starts taking off.
50) “The Raven”
Season 4, Episode 6
We get some quality backstory on Seven of Nine just as we learn she didn’t exactly have a quality childhood.
49) “Hope and Fear”
Season 4, Episode 26
A solid episode aided by a great performance by Ray Wise and a shipload of mystery. The one quibble is that, as a season finale, it lacks the heft of some of the two-parters Voyager proves to do so well.
Season 3, Episode 2
Voyager took a different, more serious take for their 30-year anniversary assignment and it’s both entertaining and ingenious.
Season 5, Episode 13
Lori Petty learns that Vulcans are hard to love as Trek writers find yet another way to mess with space and time, which works quite well both thematically and plot-wise.
Season 3, Episode 24
A surprisingly engaging mystery where the Voyager crew is cautious but helpful… and gets overwhelmed by a bunch of medieval hat fanatics. Luckily those marauding milliners didn’t count on Starfleet stubbornness and ingenuity. Bonus points for the universal translator being useless in the face of alien computer displays.
Season 2, Episode 13
Frequent Trek guest star Rick Worthy is unrecognizable under his robot costume, but the tale of artificial intelligence gone awry, plus the ethical questions Torres and the rest of the Voyager crew face are familiar and nicely done.
44) “Message in a Bottle”
Season 4, Episode 14
Voyager‘s sending out an S.O.S. The Doctor as an S.O.S. But there’s Romulans in the bottle. And by bottle, I mean pretty darn cool experimental starship located in the Alpha Quadrant.
Season 5, Episode 25
In something of a follow-up to “Dreadnought,” the crew contends with an AI that, in this case, takes over the Doctor. Entertaining variations on the theme.
42) “In the Flesh”
Season 5, Episode 4
You could speculate that this was simply a cost-effective way to get another story about Species 8472, but I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t just a ploy to get Ray Walston back to Star Trek. Nevertheless, the tale has satisfying Trekkish overtones of cold war detente.
Season 4, Episode 15
The first episode with the Hirogen is pretty solid as the newly discovered race stands between Voyager and better contact with the Alpha quadrant. Somehow, we also find time for Harry Kim’s angst. Focus on the Hirogen.
Season 4, Episode 16
An immediate improvement over “Hunters” thanks to the appearance of Species 8472 and Tony Todd as an Alpha Hirogen. Plus, we get some mileage out of Seven of Nine’s adjustments to Voyager.
39) “Flesh and Blood”
Season 7, Episodes 9 & 10
An occasionally ungainly two-parter that explores the aftermath of “The Killing Game” and the notion of sentient holograms. Iden’s descent into crazed would-be savior is uneven, but the moral and ethical questions raised throughout are classic Trek.
38) “Future’s End” (Parts I & II)
Season 3, Episodes 8 & 9
Look, I know that Ed Begley, Jr. may not be anyone’s ideas of a villainous industrialist nor is Sarah Silverman the first person you picture when I say “plucky astronomer,” but the whole two-parter works a lot better than you’d expect. Plus, the Doctor gets a mobile emitter out of it.
37) “The Thaw”
Season 2, Episode 23
Of course Micheal McKean can play a freaky clown well. His villainy creeps up into the episode quite effectively, but Janeway’s got a schedule to keep, so…
36) “Distant Origin”
Season 3, Episode 23
A bold and fun story about dogma and scientific discovery with Voyager and her crew being a catalyst for questions. Though I don’t mind a Chakotay-focused episode, demerits for having Janeway and several of the others inelegantly disappear from the narrative near the end.
35) “Basics” (Parts I & II)
Season 2, & Season 3, Episodes 26 & 1
The on-again, off-again Kazon storyline (with Seska seasoning) finally pays off with some inventiveness in both halves, though peaceful it’s not. Bonus points for the Harryhausen-esque monster.
34) “Dark Frontier”
Season 5, Episodes 15 & 16
Much ballyhooed when it originally aired as a feature-length episode, it remains an entertaining exploration of Seven of Nine’s backstory along with some Voyager vs. Borg action that becomes a mainstay in the latter half of the series.
33) “The Killing Game”
Season 4, Episodes 18 & 19
A disturbing amount of alien races in Star Trek seem to be at home in Nazi uniforms, but the Hirogen work the schtick pretty well. Plus, we get some fun moments of holodeck-imitating-life as the crew finds ways to resist in character. Best of all, the ending isn’t an unabashed win for the Voyager crew, leading us later to “Flesh and Blood.”
32) “Concerning Flight”
Season 4, Episode 11
John Rhys-Davies’ outsize performance as Leonardo da Vinci makes this more than just an average get-back-Voyager‘s-tech caper.
Season 5, Episode 23
A fun exploration of ancestry, using the contemporary coming of the millennium to good effect as Janeway learns the truth and myth around some of her family lore.
Season 6, Episode 14
An unsettling episode that you’ll be forgiven for thinking wandered in from the DS9 writers’ room. Regardless, it raises some great Trekkish questions about how history is remembered.
Season 2, Episode 22
Tuvok enters and then exits, playing his part in this strange eventful history: one whose twist is second childhood and mere oblivion.
Season 7, Episode 11
Voyager does an inventive and entertaining take on the “alternative timeline” tale that makes full use of the seven years’ worth of storylines.
27) “Bride of Chaotica!”
Season 5, Episode 12
Look, if you can’t enjoy this goofy homage to old Flash Gordon serials and somewhat meta-commentary on Voyager itself, you’re going to miss out on some wonderful character moments and a chock full of delight.
Season 4, Episode 22
Some significant suspension of disbelief is needed to accept that anyone could forget Virginia Madsen, but the tale of reclusive, biologically unmemorable aliens is a solid tragic romance tale. Bonus points for pen and paper being the solution to all the technobabble.
Season 4, Episode 24
Because Voyager is ultimately not a horror movie, we end up with a very Trek end to discovering a strange new world and new life, but what a wonderfully creepy ride through a great sci-fi scenario in the meantime!
Season 5, Episode 14
Mix a TNG “mindwarp” story with TOS’s “The Immunity Syndrome” and add in a bravura performance by W. Morgan Sheppard, and you have a humdinger of an episode, you betcha!
Season 2, Episode 17
B’Elanna’s past sins and Voyager‘s current problems with the Kazon are all wrapped into an action-packed race to disarm a doomsday weapon.
Season 6, Episode 22
A wonderful story that explores the power of storytelling within its own plot of an ancient Greek type civilization and an artist struggling to please his patron. Kudos for having B’Elanna Torres as the irascible muse and bonus points to Harry Kim for clearly remembering all his Starfleet survival training.
21) “Death Wish”
Season 2, Episode 18
A spirited, philosophical Voyager entry that takes us to the dawn of time back to the 24th century, wrestling with notions of mortality and purpose in an insouciant manner that only the Q can.
20) “Unimatrix Zero” (Parts I & II)
Season 6, & Season 7, Episodes 26 & 1
What’s this? More Seven of Nine backstory, you say? She’s part of what could become a Borg Liberation Front, you say? We’re going to have a rousing two-parter with a cliffhanger that makes us wonder how our heroes will recover? Count us in.
19) “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy”
Season 6, Episode 4
The Doctor contains multitudes and within those multitudes can be found comedy gold — as we see in this Walter Mitty-esque sci-fi outing.
18) “Course: Oblivion”
Season 5, Episode 18
A surprise follow-up to “Demon” that surpasses its predecessor and ends on an incredibly downbeat ending — while still holding true to Starfleet boldly going and the desires (and constraints) of the silver blood aliens. Well done.
Season 5, Episode 1
A season opener packed with moral quandary as a Janeway is presented with deal with the Devil that promises to banish her own demons.
Season 3, Episode 17
An intriguing take on the needs of the many versus the needs of the one using the Borg… or a variant thereof as a stand-in. It hints at the events of “Scorpion” and the nuanced Borg stories to come.
Season 2, Episode 16
The episode proves to be an almost theatrical exploration of ideas –and no easy answers– right in Trek’s wheelhouse absolutely elevated by Brad Dourif’s portrayal of the remorseless Lon Suder and matched by Tim Russ’ now placable Tuvok. Dark humor points are grudgingly awarded for naming the victim “Darwin.”
14) “The Void”
Season 7, Episode 15
A quintessential piece of Star Trek as the Voyager crew is faced with ignoring their Federation ideals in order to escape the titular void, but finds a solution through those selfsame ideals. The demerits for the convenience of the alien stowaways are offset by the bonus points for them representing lifeforms that others do not value.
13) “Blink of an Eye”
Season 6, Episode 12
Take a seat, armchair anthropologists, and enjoy the epic of a species’ evolution with Voyager as its constant star.
Season 4, Episode 5
A spectacularly creepy episode of AI gone wrong due in no small part to Leland Orser’s effective performance. Plus, you get at little Harry Kim romantic angst to lighten things up.
Season 5, Episode 24
A clever and engaging time travel episode where Seven of Nine gets to shine, Janeway gets to show off more of her backstory, and Braxton gets to be more than Captain Ahab vis-à-vis Voyager.
9) “One Small Step”
Season 6, Episode 8
A homage to the explorers that have inspired Trek… just as Trek has inspired people to become scientists and explorers. Seven of Nine finds your observation that the room is getting dusty entirely valid.
8) “Worst Case Scenario”
Season 3, Episode 25
Yet another holodeck episode… only done right. Starting as a holodeck Choose-Your-Own-Adventure, mayhem quickly ensues thanks to the impossible appearance of Seska. Bonus points for the reprogrammed Doctor and the general meta commentary on writing.
7) “Body and Soul”
Season 7, Episode 7
Sci-fi makes for a great excuse for a body-swapping farce and both Ryan and Picardo deliver. Plus, when they’re in their respective bodies, we get wonderful banter erupting between Seven and the Doctor with Harry Kim as the bewildered Ralph Bellamy straight man (come on, the character was born for this!). Megan Gallagher and Fritz Sperberg round out a great cast — and Tom Paris proves to not be a total schmuck (I think that’s a Vulcan term).
6) “Living Witness”
Season 4, Episode 23
An absolute standout sci-fi tale playing with perception and how history is written that starts with Voyager and her crew, but goes far beyond it.
Season 7, Episodes 25 & 26
Give credit where credit is due: Janeway leads her crew home and wins a decisive victory over the Borg. Oh, and she picks up some fancy futuristic technology along the way. For a conclusion that ends with our crew winning, it’s surprisingly grim — even DS9’s conclusion, with its elements of genocide and a Pyrrhic victory, had a charming curtain call for the benefit of the viewers. Still, it’s a solid entry following in the footsteps of “All Good Things…”
Season 5, Episode 6
A well-told time travel story filled with heroism, regret, and a nice cameo by director LeVar Burton.
3) “Equinox” (Parts I & II)
Season 5, & Season 6, Episodes 26 & 1
Obsession, duty, and the importance of choices dominate this taut two-parter with some truly freaky monsters, some truly monstrous acts, a great performance by John Savage, and a guarantee you’ll never look at the Doctor the same way again.
2) “Scorpion” (Parts I & II)
Season 3, & Season 4, Episodes 26 & 1
Starting with what is arguably one of the best ever Trek cold opens (assuming viewers know of the Borg), we get an action-packed, Borg-infested, issue-wrestling two-parter that takes things to eleven and gives us Seven of Nine.
1) “Year of Hell” (Parts I & II)
Season 4, Episodes 8 & 9
Take a villain with an obsessive quest, played wonderfully by Kurtwood Smith, and place it in a story that allows you to do whatever you want (thanks to a magic sci-fi reset button) and you have Voyager‘s best episode bar none. Every member of the crew gets some great moments here and the ending lands expertly.