Thursday, June 28, 2012

Voyager Season 7

The seventh and final season of Star Trek: Voyager first aired on the UPN from 2000 to 2001, during my first year out in the real world after graduating from the seminary. It was also the second-last year of my TV watching career, so my agony of having chunks of my life wasted by commercial breaks was almost at an end. I trust our sponsor did well enough by me, and other viewers, since this was the third (and last) consecutive Trek series to last a full seven seasons before ending of its own accord. It ends with the Captain saying the same line that ended its pilot episode ("Set a course... for home"). Apart from the fact that the crew suddenly makes it home at the end of the year, the season as a whole doesn't do much to move forward the story arc of the series. Nevertheless it has many wonderful character touches, moments of humor, topically relevant stories, and a variety of stories with a good, strong sci-fi kick.

Unimatrix Zero, Part II kicks off the season with the conclusion of Year 6's cliffhanger. For those tuning in late, the cliff in question is a dream world shared by a random sample of Borg drones who, while they're in regeneration mode, become who they be if they hadn't been assimilated. They remember none of it while they're awake, but even so the Borg Queen wants to squash this threat to her perfect Collective. Those hanging off the cliff are Tuvok, B'Elanna, and Captain Janeway, who have taken their plan to help the Unimatrix Zero drones so far as to get themselves assimilated, albeit with a medical technobabble that insulates their minds from the hive. While Seven of Nine and her old flame Axum put new meaning to the phrase "star-crossed lovers," Janeway matches wits with a Borg Queen who is willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of drones to have her way. In the end, Unimatrix Zero is destroyed... but those who experienced it, while it lasted, are turned loose as a resistance force that, win or lose, will leave the Borg changed forever.

Imperfection is the episode in which the Voyagers say goodbye to Mezoti, Rebi, and Azan, three of the four Borg children picked up in Season 6. Icheb elects to stay on board, hoping to pass the Starfleet entrance exam. But before Seven can even ask the Captain to sponsor the kid, something happens that forces me to spit out a piece of technobabble: "Cortical Node." That's the thingummy coming out of Seven's forehead in this photo. It's a crucial piece of Borg technology that regulates all the other implants that, in turn, keep Seven's life signs going. When the warranty on her cortical node expires, Seven faces all but certain death. Even the idea of harvesting cortical nodes from Borg corpses proves to be a false hope. In a move that is sure to melt all but the most jaded of hearts, Icheb offers to give up his cortical node, believing that he has a better chance of surviving without it than Seven does. Her resistance to the idea proves futile when Icheb forces the issue, and pays a high price to save his mentor and friend. Emotionally, it's a highly effective episode.

Drive ends with this image, which tells you all that you need to know about the progress of Tom and B'Elanna's relationship. For a while, it looks like it (their relationship) could end, but then this happens. Breaking up or making up, they don't do anything in a small way. For example, Tom pops the question while piloting the Delta Flyer at top speed away from the finish line of a race which they had been winning, while it is uncertain whether they will survive the warp core breech that was rigged to wipe out the spectators at the finish-line. The point of the race was to celebrate the end of hostilities between four alien species, but one of the contestants rather liked the way things were when the war was on. Fortunately her plan is foiled and the outcome brings everyone together in more ways than anticipated. Guest stars include Cyia Batten in her second of three Trek roles (most notably the first of three actresses who played Tora Ziyal on DS9), Brian George (who had also played Julian's father on DS9), three-time Trek guest Patrick Kilpatrick, and soap opera heartthrob Robert Tyler as the villain's copilot who gets a white-hot faceful of sabotage.

Repression guest stars two-time Trek guest Keith Szarabajka as a Bajoran cleric who puts a hex on Tuvok by embedding a subliminal message, loaded with mind-control mojo, in a letter from Tuvok's son. As a result, Tuvok finds himself investigating a mysterious rash of assaults targeting former Maquis crewmen, leaving them in comas from which they awake hours later with no memory of who attacked them. Maybe it's the fact I saw the episode years ago, but I had the mystery solved before Tuvok did. The medical clues left by the attacker had "Vulcan nerve pinch" and "forced mind meld" written all over them. But by the time Tuvok realizes that he's the culprit he's after, the mind-control vedek's plot to take over the ship and revive the Maquis rebellion is already under way. Luckily (perhaps even too easily), Janeway manages to get through to Tuvok and abort the mutiny before it reaches the point of no return. Also guest-starring in this Trek homage to creepy movies is Jad Mager in his second of two appearances as Bajoran Ensign Tabor (last seen resigning his commission in "Nothing Human").

Critical Care is two tales for the price of one. On the one hand, it is a medical ethics morality play set in hospital ship hovering over an alien city, where Voyager's Doctor (having been kidnapped, mobile emitter and all) is forced to provide medical care in a system that cold-bloodedly allocates treatment by a formula that favors those deemed most important to society. The Doctor wants to treat victims of a viral plague who languish in the hospital's underfunded "Level Red," while the drug they need to survive is being used to slow the aging process of otherwise healthy patients on the privileged "Level Blue." He must finally cross an ethical line of his own in order to persuade the hospital administrator to do the right thing. Meanwhile, the Voyagers follow a whimsical trail of clues to the whereabouts of their stolen Doctor, culminating in a scene in which both Tuvok and Neelix risk ethical violations of their own while interrogating the suspected thief. Guest stars include John Kassir, who played the Crypt Keeper on Tales from the Crypt, and Larry Drake, who played a villain in the Darkman films and a retarded paralegal on L.A. Law. Frequent Trek guests Gregory Itzin and John Durbin also appear in this episode.

Inside Man gives the Voyagers yet another cruelly false hope of getting home quickly—this time by means of a form of radioactive technobabble that could, without the proper shielding and inoculations, reduce the crew to a puddle of goo. They think they have a way to survive this method of locomotion, thanks to a hologram version of Reg Barclay which seems to have come through the monthly datastream from Starfleet. Unluckily for them, holo-Barclay really isn't carrying messages from home. Rather, he has been intercepted by the Ferengi and reprogrammed to lure the Voyagers to their doom, sparing only Seven's Borg nanoprobes, which are worth two billion times their weight in latinum. Although the Doctor has suspicions about the hologram who has appropriated his mobile emitter, the Voyagers' only hope lies in the quick thinking of the real Barclay, who has been losing his mind (yes, again) over the reason his hologram has failed to make it to the Voyager two months in a row. It all connects up when he realizes that his improbably pretty ex-girlfriend is not a teacher after all, but a dabo girl whose Ferengi pimp (hey, she almost says it herself) offered her 10% of the profits in return for any information she could flatter out of Barclay.
BARCLAY: Was everything that happened between us a lie?
LEOSA: Not everything. Just the parts where I expressed affection for you.
Humor, suspense, mystery... this episode has it all! The guest cast, besides the recurring members of the Pathfinder Team and Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi, includes Frank Corsentino in his third Ferengi role.

Body and Soul guest-stars 2-time Trek guest Fritz Sperberg and 3-time Trek guest Megan Gallagher as members of the Lokirrim race, who are at war against their "photonic" (read: holographic) servants who have revolted. As a result, when they spot the Delta Flyer carrying Harry, Seven of Nine, and the Doctor, they arrest the crew and impound the ship on charges of harboring photonic insurgents. The Doctor hides by transferring his matrix to Seven's Borg technobabble, which is to say that he possesses her body and pretends to be her. Seven's consciousness can only observe helplessly while the Doc hits on a female alien, is hit on by a male ditto, and while experiencing the sensations of food and drink for the first time, goes on a wee bender. The result is a masterpiece of awkward comedy that could only take place in a sci-fi format. In a secondary plot line, Tom Paris plays holo-pimp to Tuvok, whose biological clock has come round to that seven-year alarm dreaded by every Vulcan male far from home. Just when it seems a hologram of his wife (played for the second time by Marva Hicks) could cool the blood fever, another Lokirrim ship starts firing on the Voyager...

Nightingale features Barney Miller and Firefly alum Ron Glass as a passenger on a Kraylor ship supposedly bringing medicines to a planet blockaded by hostile Annari forces. As it turns out, Loken is not a doctor but the inventor of a cloaking device (ingeniously disguised as his ship's cloaking device) which could tilt the balance of a war between his people and the Annari. By the time Harry Kim finds this out, he has taken temporary assignment as the ship's captain, all its regular officers having been killed in an Annari attack in which the Delta Flyer naively intervened. At first Harry is tempted to quit and let the Kraylor fend for themselves, but Seven (who has come along as the only qualified assistant who wouldn't outrank Harry) talks him into trying again. The adventure proves to be an eye-opener for Harry, revealing to him what it really takes to be a captain and how little of it he has... yet. Also guest-starring in this episode is Scott Miles, whom I recognized as the brother of Jake Gyllenhaal's character in October Sky.

Flesh and Blood is a feature-length episode that was originally filmed, and sometimes broadcast, as two separate episodes, though the DVD restores it to the two-hour movie format in which it was first aired. It dramatizes the consequences of Janeway's decision in a previous two-part episode (Season 4's "The Killing Game") to give the Hirogen holodeck tech so they can carry on their hunter lifestyle without wiping out themselves and everybody else. After three years of being hunted, killed, and resurrected to do it all again, some of the holograms have decided they've had enough. The risk-hungry Hirogen have turned off the safeties and allowed their holographic prey to learn so they can present more of a challenge with each hunt. And now, as a result, they have sentience, the ability to outhunt the hunters, and a violent distaste for "organics." The Voyagers get involved when a Hirogen distress call leads them to a space station where, in a holographic environment designed for showing young hunters what it's all about, some 43 Hirogen lie dead, their ship stolen by the escaping holograms, and a single Hirogen engineer cowering in the wreckage. Long story short: The leader of the holo-rebels, a Bajoran character named Iden, offers the Doctor a place in holo-paradise. The offer proves more than the Doc can resist, even when it means betraying his shipmates... until he realizes that Iden is megalomaniac and a stone killer. That's when the doctor risks his matrix to save the last members of a Hirogen hunting party from the wrath of Iden, and Janeway is left wondering at the bootprint she has left in the Delta Quadrant. The cast includes Cindy Katz and Spencer Garrett, each a two-time Trek guest; Paul S. Eckstein, whose six Trek roles all required heavy prosthetics and included a previous Hirogen; Vaughn Armstrong, who here adds an Alpha Hirogen to his dozen or so Trek roles, which also included three Klingons, two Cardassians, a Romulan, a Borg drone, and a Vidiian; Jeff Yagher of the 1980s sci-fi series V; and 1980s child actor Ryan Bollman, whom I only mention because he's from my own St. Louis.

Shattered is the Chakotay-centric episode in which the Voyager gets zapped by an unexplained phenomenon and turned into a patchwork of previous episodes. At first only Chakotay can pass between the parts of the ship that exist at different points of time. So, when he walks onto the bridge where the time is just before the ship pursued Chakotay's maquis vessel into the Badlands, Janeway—believing him to be her enemy—has him arrested; but when the turbolift en route to the brig passes through the boundary of another time zone, the arresting officers disappear. This situation provides a glimpse not only into the future, where Icheb and Naomi Wildman are all growed up, but also quite a few familiar points in the past, such as the episodes "Basics," "Macrocosm," "Bliss" (or was it "Waking Moments"?), "Scorpion," and "Bride of Chaotica!" While Season-7 Chakotay tries to keep the Temporal Prime Directive, Season-1 Janeway wonders whether the future as she glimpses it, resulting from decisions she has yet to make, is worth restoring. This episode is the last of 13 appearances by Martha Hackett as Seska, the last of 3 by Martin Rayner as Doctor Chaotica, and the last TV appearance by the late Nicholas Worth after 4 Trek appearances in 3 different roles, including two as Chaotica's henchman Lonzak.

Lineage chooses the perfect Star Trek way to reveal that B'Elanna Torres is pregnant. As she collapses in sickbay, Icheb scans her with a tricorder and blurts out that there seems to be an alien parasite in her body. Priceless! The rest of the episode skirts the danger of being another talky, whiny, unflattering-to-the-24th-century melodrama about a couple's decision whether or not to have a baby (like Season 2's "Elogium") and uses the opportunity to add depth to B'Elanna's character. Cutting between memories of a disastrous camping trip with her human father, uncle, and cousins and the histrionics of her present-day relationship with baby-daddy Tom Paris, the episode shows us the source of B'Elanna's deep, irrational hatred of the Klingon part of herself. As a child, she mistook her cousins' childish pranks for bullying motivated by race-hate, and she blames her own Klingonness (if that's a word) for the fact that her father didn't stick around much longer. And now she fears that the same Klingonity (?), multiplied by the number of ripple-browed kids they have, will drive Tom away too. The lengths she goes to in trying to prevent this give the episode what action and suspense it has; and the final reconciliation between the new parents unleashes the gooey, sweet center of the confection. All in all, it's not an unpleasant episode.

Repentance is an episode of the thought-provoking, if not tear-jerking, persuasion. The Voyagers rescue the crew and prisoners of an Nygean vessel ferrying death-row convicts to their execution. Before the debate between the Prime Directive and the ethics of the death penalty can become too tedious, things start to get complicated. One particularly violent prisoner named Iko gets his head beaten in by the guards, and the Doctor's lifesaving treatment (using more of Seven's nano-probes) fixes the brain anomaly that made him evil. Now that he knows remorse, Iko doesn't care to fight his sentence, though the Doctor makes an impassioned plea for leniency. Meanwhile, another prisoner abuses Neelix's trust, leading to an escape attempt in which Iko saves the day and wins a second chance. Not that it saves his life—much to the distress of Seven, who identifies with him in her remorse at the suffering she caused as a Borg drone. It's an effective hour, though at times it suffers from the "When is this damn episode going to end?" syndrome, due to the climax coming rather early in the story. Guest stars include China Beach alum Jeff Kober in the first of his two Trek roles, Tim de Zarn in the last of his four, and sometime recurring DS9 guest F. J. Rio in his second of three.

Prophecy is one of my favorite episodes of this season. Klingon episodes are often a highlight of any year. In this, chronologically the last Klingon outing in franchise continuity, the Voyagers encounter a shipful of religious pilgrims who have been wandering in the Delta Quadrant for four generations, looking for the kuvah'magh—which is Klingonese for "Messiah." As soon as the leader of the group cottons to the idea that Tom and B'Elanna's unborn daughter is their Savior, they blow up their own ship and invite themselves on board the Voyager. This proves rather awkward, as B'Elanna herself isn't much of a believer, and the scene in which she and the sect's leader practice scriptural eisegesis would be a howl in any seminary classroom. But not all of the Klingons are of the same mind, and one of them (the same one who later leads an attempt to take over the ship) challenges Tom to a bat'leth duel on which, luckily for Tom, pivots an important plot point: the Klingons are infested with a disease that accelerates old age, and they've now given it to B'Elanna Sr. and Jr. But something about Jr.'s DNA being a 3:1 cocktail of human to Klingon genes ends up saving the Klingons anyway, and with the discovery of a QonoS-like planet, the status quo is restored. But not before three-time Trek guest Sherman Howard wakes up in sick bay and delivers a line that I had gleefully predicted, word for word: "Why am I not in Sto-Vo-Kor?" And then a scratched and dented Neelix, waving goodbye to his Klingoness paramour, gets an even bigger laugh with his delivery of the line, "I'm going to miss her." Also appearing are Paul Eckstein in his second guest role this season, and his sixth Trek role overall; and Wren T. Brown in his second Trek role, albeit much more substantial than the first.

The Void gets off to a fast-paced start, and keeps the pace up all the way. In the first couple of minutes, the Voyager gets sucked down the throat of a gravitational anomaly which leaves them stranded in a starless void, nine light-years across, where there are only two kinds of visitors: those who pillage, and those who are pillaged. Something about the void causes power supplies to dwindle faster than normal, and no one has been known to escape. The fact that one of Voyager's new neighbors can say this from at least five years' experience says a great deal about how Valen has chosen to survive. Janeway wants to put together an alliance that will pool resources to find a way out of the Void, but this is difficult to do when Valen steals her idea and starts an alliance of his own to prey on Voyager and the ships in its corner. Also adding to the mix is a race of aliens indigenous to the Void, who (under the Doctor's influence) learn to communicate in a language of pure music. Playing one of them is Jonathan Del Arco, late of The Closer, who also played the recovering Borg drone Hugh on TNG. Robin Sachs of Buffy and Scott Lawrence of JAG also play key roles.

Workforce, Parts I & II is a two-episode arc featuring soap opera maven John Aniston (who happens to be Jen's dad), previous Voyager guest Tom Virtue (who played a boring crewman in two early episodes), James Read of North and South and Charmed as a love interest for Janeway, and Iona Morris (sister of fellow Trek actor Phil Morris), who as a child had played a bit part in the early TOS episode "Miri." Nevertheless, this installment is best remembered as the one (or rather two) that guest-starred Don Most, best known for playing Ralph Malph in the classic sit-com Happy Days. Or perhaps as the installment in which most of the Voyagers get captured, drugged, and brainwashed to be happy workers on a planet with a serious labor shortage. Those who eluded the press-gangs—Chakotay, Neelix, Harry, and the Doctor—track down their messmates and find them surprisingly hard to disabuse of their new identities, though everybody keeps needing booster shots to avoid remembering the true horror of their situation. Still, Tom Paris finds himself falling for a very pregnant B'Elanna, although neither of him remembers that he's the daddy. And Tuvok, who resists brainwashing a little more strongly than the others, has even bigger problems. I'm pretty sure I saw this episode back in 2001, but I never realized until now that it's remarkably similar to roughly contemporary episodes of Stargate SG-1 and Farscape. Joining the guest cast for Part II are Robert Joy of CSI: NY and Jay Harrington of Desperate Housewives.

Human Error is the one in which Seven totters on the edge of holo-addiction while using simulated social situations to explore human relationships and the emotions that go with them. Part of her experiment includes a romance with Chakotay. Meanwhile, in the real world, Seven's job performance suffers at what couldn't be a worse time. The ship, you see, has strayed into an alien proving ground in which weapons keep popping out of subspace with little to no warning and causing shock waves that, even from a considerable distance, threaten to wreck the Voyager. Just when Seven decides to call it off with holo-Chakotay, her emotions overwhelm her... er... cortical node. (Yes! I knew learning that bit of technobabble was going to pay off!) So, although the Doctor offers to fix things with surgery, Seven decides that she has taken her exploration of human feelings as far as she intends to go. Bummer.

Q2 is the last of 12 episodes in 3 Trek spinoffs featuring John de Lancie as Q. It also introduces Q's offspring, also named Q, played by de Lancie's real-life son Keegan in what to-date is his last acting role. (If you're interested, Keegan went on to be a Fulbright scholar specializing in Middle Eastern affairs, and currently has something to do with helping Iraqi Christians migrate to areas where they will be relatively safe from persecution.) This is the same Q child who was spawned in Season 3's "The Q and the Grey" in the hope of saving the Continuum. But he's turned out to be a rather wild child, and his last shot at not being transformed into an amoeba for all eternity lies with "Aunt Kathy" and her Starfleet touch. Even after Q Jr. loses his powers, he proves somewhat resistant to discipline. The turning point comes when young Q pulls a prank that gets Icheb hurt, and he must take responsibility for his actions in order to save his friend's life. After a dozen tries, Star Trek had definitely found the right touch for Q episodes by this point, as shown by the hilarious scenes such as the one in which Q appears in Janeway's bubble-bath.

Author, Author is the one in which, thanks to Barclay, the Voyagers get a few minutes a day of radio contact with Earth, and that means seeing and talking to their loved ones, among other things. And by other things I mean, for example, the Doctor publishing a holo-novel titled Photons Be Free, dramatizing the struggle of a sentient hologram to be accepted as a person with full rights in an "organic" society. Unfortunately, the Doc's working draft bears a superficial similarity to the Voyager and its crew, and their characterization is unflattering to everybody involved. The Doctor agrees to revise the work, but his blue-skinned Bolian publisher refuses to recall the copies he has already distributed. In a stroke of bitter irony, Broht's reasoning is that the doctor, as a hologram, is not a person and therefore does not have authorial rights over his own work. Thus what begins as a light-hearted story about the Voyagers being made to look like fools turns into a landmark legal case in which the rights of holograms like the Doctor are in play. While the outcome isn't as clear as in the case of, say, TNG's "The Measure of a Man," the final scene (in which the Doctor's novel makes the rounds of a dilithium mine full of oppressed EMH-Mark-1s) is hopeful. Guest stars include previous TNG guest Robert Ito as Harry Kim's Dad, and former Ferengi Barry Gordon as Broht.

Friendship One is the name of a probe that Earth sent out in the 22nd century to pave the way for first contact with distant aliens. Tracking down the probe, last known to be in their part of the Delta Quadrant, becomes the Voyager's first assignment from Starfleet in seven years. It turns out that the Friendship One's message of friendship and cooperation, including step-by-step instructions for building antimatter reactors, condemned the planet where the probe landed to a three-hundred-year nuclear winter, complete with radiation poisoning, high child mortality, and a bunch of pissed-off survivors who are ready for them when the Earthmen land. The Uxali (especially their paranoid leader) believe the probe was a trick to soften them up for an invasion, which is now at hand. Even after Janeway offers to treat their illness and fix their ecosystem, Verin insists on trading his hostages for a lift to the next livable planet—though ferrying all his people would take years. To show how serious he is, Verin kills longtime recurring crewman Carey (played by Josh Clark in seven episodes). Eventually a more reasonable Uxali, a scientist named Otrin, stages a bloodless coup and manages to prevent his people from shooting back as the Enterprises detonate technobabble in the atmosphere to make the sunshine come back. Guest stars include previous DS9 guest John Prosky, three-time Trek guest Bari Hochwald, and two-time Voyager guest Peter Dennis.

Natural Law is the one in which Chakotay and Seven manage to penetrate the shield surrounding an anthropological preserve before crashing their shuttle. Now they are trapped inside a force-field-protected enclave of the Stone Age within an otherwise technologically advanced world, a situation set up by unknown aliens to protect the vulnerable culture within. Even getting a message back to Voyager will require the pair to make compromises with the Prime Directive, risk contaminating a primitive society, and finally expose them to the nosiness, greed, and aggression of the world around them. Meanwhile, Tom Paris—I'm still laughing about this—gets cited for reckless flying and is sentenced to undergo flight safety lessons. Luckily this puts him in a position to do a little stunt flying when the time comes to elude the fire of pursuing craft and blow up the technobabble that is blocking the preserve's shield. The guest cast includes Autumn Reeser (late of No Ordinary Family and The O.C.), previous DS9 guests Neil C. Vipond, Matt McKenzie, and Robert Curtis-Brown, and two-time Voyager guest Ivar Brogger.

Homestead proves to be the end of the voyage for Neelix. When Talaxian life-signs are found emanating from an asteroid field, the shuttle sent to investigate gets shot down. Though the Talaxians didn't do the shooting, their welcome isn't as warm as Neelix expected either. It seems this group of colonists has been chased away from one home after another, and it is now an alien mining consortium that means to evict them. Neelix, especially touched by a pretty widow and her young son, does his best as an ambassador to work out an agreement between the miners and the colonists, but the only result is a slightly longer eviction notice. Neelix seeks Tuvok's advice as to how to make his new friends' next homeworld less susceptible to alien invasion, and Tuvok surprisingly advises him that their best chance would be to defend the world they've already got. So, pulling his old ship out of mothballs, Neelix helps the colonists set up a shield to keep the mining consortium off their backs... Then says goodbye and flies away on the Voyager. Late one night, a very depressed and conflicted Neelix bumps into a sleepless Janeway in the mess hall. She offers him a way out of his dilemma: to accept appointment as the Federation's Ambassador-at-Large to the Delta Quadrant, staying behind with his people but also staying in contact with Starfleet. Accepting this, Neelix makes a tear-jerking departure from the Voyager (made more effective by the fact that it isn't played for more than it's worth) and finds a loving family ready-made for him on the asteroid. Guest actors include three-time Voyager guest Rob LaBelle, who had previously played a Talaxian; Julianne Christie, whose character on Enterprise got Trip pregnant; frequent Trek guest John Kenton Shull, who had usually appeared as a Klingon; Scarlett Pomers's final appearance as Naomi Wildman; and Christian Conrad in his third Trek role.

Renaissance Man is the one in which Captain Janeway comes back acting strangely after a joint away mission with the Doctor. Eventually this strangeness is revealed to result from the fact that she is being impersonated by the Doctor, who has agreed to hand over the ship's warp core to a rogue pair of aliens from the Hierarchy species (see picture). The real captain is being held hostage, and the Doctor believes she will be killed if he doesn't comply. Unfortunately his plan goes awry, as plans do, and so the Doc is forced to sedate more and more members of the crew, hide their bodies in the morgue, and add their holo-matrices to his quick-change act. Before the farce becomes too outrageous, the Doctor throws it all up and bolts in the Delta Flyer, towing the Voyager's warp core with extra-special technobabble, but the Hierarchy stooges aren't done with him and Janeway yet. Instead of keeping up their end of the deal, they mean to use the EMH's knack for impersonation to infiltrate the Hierarchy itself. Luckily the Voyagers, guided by a message the Doctor had left embedded in a piece of music, are able to track down the hostage-takers in time and set everything to rights. A wonderful example of the lighter side of Trek, coming in just in time before the series finale. One of the Hierarchy aliens is played by Andy Milder, who had previously played a Bolian on Voyager.

Endgame, the two-hour series finale, brings back Alice Krige in the role of the Borg Queen, which she had created for the feature film Star Trek: First Contact. It also features a cameo appearance by Neelix (Skyping into the Astrometrics Lab for his daily game of Kadis-Kot with Seven of Nine), the birth of the Torres-Paris baby, and more than a glimpse into a possible future in which the Voyager makes it back to Earth after another 16 years of adventures in the Delta Quadrant. Ten years later, as the surviving Voyagers gather to celebrate the anniversary of the event, a much older and more cynical Kathryn Janeway has in train a plan to go back in time and steer her younger self toward an opportunity to cut those extra 16 years off the journey—and save 22 lives, including Seven's—and spare Tuvok the agony of losing his mind to a disease that could have been cured—and, you know, to blow up some Borg stuff. The two Janeways have an interesting difference of opinion, and the Borg Queen has ideas of her own, while Seven of Nine has third thoughts about giving up her ability to experience a full range of human emotions, now that a relationship with Chakotay is a real possibility. (According to an interview with show-runner Rick Berman, among the DVD bonus features, this is the point at which the writers originally planned to kill Seven off. Instead, they blithely and suddenly changed her character. Jerks.) Guest stars include Lisa LoCicero (late of General Hospital) as Tom & B'Elanna's grown-up girl, and umpteen-time Trek guest Vaughn Armstrong in one of his three Klingon roles. Director Allan Kroeker also directed the series finale of TNG and DS9. This episode also won two Emmys, for music and special effects.

For more on spaceship-based TV series, see my reviews of Star Trek: TOS seasons one, two, and three; of TNG seasons one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven; of DS9 seasons one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven; of Voyager seasons one, two, three, four, five, and six; and of Enterprise seasons one, two, and three. See also my review of Farscape seasons one, two, three, and four; of Firefly; and of Babylon 5 seasons one, two, three, four, and five.

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