Celebrate Voyager’s 20th Anniversary with These 20 Gems From The Delta Quadrant

voyager_20years

January 2015 marks 20 years since Voyager first aired. Caretaker’s original airdate was January 16, here’s TrekMovie’s list of 20 great Voyager episodes you may have missed.

Voyager (and its sister spin-off DS9) has a mixed following, where Trek fans seem to either love it or just write it off very quickly. If the latter describes you, consider the following 20 episodes you may have missed to get to know the crew of the NCC-74656. (Note that I’ve skipped the big Borg ones like Scorpion that everyone’s probably seen.)

20. False Profits
We start our list with what is technically a sequel to an otherwise embarrassing episode of TNG (The Price). The Voyager crew have to outwit a group of Ferengi who have overtaken a primitive planet, but without polluting the planet’s culture even worse. It’s what Trek should be: our heroes navigating between what their technology lets them do and what their ethics forbid them from doing.


I don’t want to oversell it, but this is seriously the best Prime Directive episode since A Private Little War.

19. Projections
One of the criticisms against Voyager is that a lot of The Doctor (and Seven) episodes about “learning what it is to be more human” feel like retreads of what we’d already seen with Data over on TNG. But this one doesn’t: this is an existential story that you could only tell with a hologram.


Also this brought into the Voyager fold Reg Barclay, who as a holodicted engineer is the only one who knows more about holography than a hologram.

18. The Omega Directive
Something that was always missing from Trek, even its most Cold War-y episodes, was weapons of mass destruction. The reason the Soviets and Americans never really went to war was the mutually assured destruction of nuclear weapons – in Trek, it was just the Organians saying “Nope!”

Omega Directive introduces WMDs to Trek and reminds us that the galaxy is a dangerous place.

17. The Thaw
We mentioned this one in our list of Halloween episodes, so I won’t rehash it too much. The lead guitarist from Spinal Tap traps our crew in a nightmare hellscape – how can you miss? Also this video of Janeway crushing the Monster of the Week is one of the classic moments of the entire franchise:

16. Living Witness
The only episode of the three Star Trek series set in the 24th Century (TNG, DS9, and VOY) to take place completely outside of the 24th Century, Living Witness shows us what we never get to see otherwise: the lasting impact our heroes have on a planet they just visit and leave. We know they’re heroes, but 700 years of history and cultural bias tell a different story…

14 and 15. Year of Hell (1 and 2)
One of Voyager’s more creative entries, this two-parter features an extrapolation of the time travel trope: weaponized causality paradoxes. Honestly the only sad thing about this story is that it wasn’t stretched out for a whole season.


But genuinely doing a year of hell would have been very ambitious for network TV in the 90s. Maybe if we go back in time and share this article with Rick Berman…

13. Timeless
One of the criticisms of Voyager is that there are too many “Gilligan’s Island” episodes, where the crew sees a way home and oh maybe they’ll make it this time! But of course they can’t or else the series would be over. This one takes that conceit and makes it the whole episode: the crew tried to get home and died in the process, so future Harry and Chakotay have to save the day. Throw in a cameo by LeVar Burton and you have one of the best episodes of the series:

12. The Void
You know what would be the worst part of flying in one direction for 70,000 light years? Boredom. Not alien fights and classic “I must, but I must not!” dilemmas. Just facing the black, nothingness of space week after week. That’s what this episode is about.


(But don’t worry they do eventually throw in alien fights and a classic “I must, but I must not!” dilemma.)

11. Life Line
Remember how I said that a lot of The Doctor episodes feel like Data retreads? Well this one proves that you can do that and still tell an awesome, fresh story. The Doctor meets his dying creator, played by the same actor – just like they did with Brent Spiner in Brothers – but with a much different outcome and emotional impact to the tale.


Also this one episode features Deanna doing more actual counseling than she got to do on seven years of TNG.

10. Bride of Chaotica
It’s unfortunate that Gene’s vision of a secular humanist future prevented our crew from fighting Satan’s Robot for so long… but with this episode we were finally able to see that conflict:


Kate Mulgrew’s turn as the eponymous Bride is a pinnacle of retro sci-fi glory. Seriously, you show up to a convention dressed up so you look like a black-and-white Arachnea and everyone will stop you for a picture.

9. Blink of an Eye
Hey remember in Interstellar where gravity affects the speed of time? Well Voyager does, because they did that 15 years ago.


Also note the homage to the TOS Wink of an Eye in the title.

8. Worst Case Scenario
A terrific illustration of BOTH the conflict between Maquis and Starfleet and a “the holodeck runs awry” story that isn’t ridiculous. This is a terrific tale full of twists and action… plus the UPN trailer promises the “ultimate act of betrayal!”

7. The 37’s
One of Trek Movie Kayla Iacovino’s favorite Voyager episodes, The 37’s is in the same vein as classic TOS episodes like “Who Mourns for Adonais?” or “Bread and Circuses” where the crew finds answers about Earth history on a distant planet. (This is the one where Janeway meets Amelia Earhart.)

Also there is this cool sequence where they land Voyager on a planet:


Way better than the pointless saucer separation on TNG if you ask me.

6. Message in a Bottle
Even if you’re not a Voyager fan you are certainly aware of this episode: it’s the one with Andy Dick as the EMH Mark 2. It’s full of a lot of great humor, a lot of Robert Picardo, some wonderfully insidious Romulans (including one played by Joachim from Wrath of Khan), and some terrific action.

Also it introduces us to “multi-vector assault mode,” which is better than landing the ship and the saucer separation combined:

5. Good Shepherd
We mentioned this one on our Christmas list: Captain Janeway takes some personal time to work with rejects on her ship who would have otherwise been booted out of (or left) Starfleet. My personal favorite moment of this episode is when we learn that one of these rejects only joined Starfleet because he thought it would look good on his application to grad school.

4. Eye of the Needle
The first “Gilligan’s Island” episode features a good news/bad news scenario. The good news is Voyager makes contact with an Alpha Quadrant race who can help take them home! The bad news it’s the Romulans.
The Romulan scientist, ably played by Trek super guest star Vaughn Armstrong, is an endearing deviation from the standard Romulan schemer and much kinder than the ones in Message in a Bottle. The outcome (Voyager doesn’t make it home) shouldn’t surprise you, but the story is still a good one.

3. Barge of the Dead
This one feels a lot like a DS9 Worf episode… because it was. When Ron Moore came to Voyager after DS9 was over, he brought this script with him. He switched it to Belanna, who dies and goes to Klingon hell. Alas we do not see a triumphant return of Fek’lhr:


If you’re a DS9 and/or Worf fan, maybe you should start with this one.

2. Learning Curve
Introducing the popular minor character Chell, “Learning Curve” shows us how Tuvok tries to whip a bunch of Maquis into shape – a challenge given that he’d spent months undercover lying to their faces about his intentions.

The episode also features the most innocuous Monster of the Week in Star Trek history (spoilers in the video):

1. Lineage
My personal favorite episode of Voyager is this Belanna vehicle. Structurally, this episode is what every Star Trek story should aspire to: a real-life dilemma (Belanna’s pregnancy) is played out against a science fiction backdrop (genetic engineering, holographic ethics), causing believable conflict among the lead characters.


Throw in some nice flashbacks to young Belanna and Lineage is so watchable it could have been an episode of Lost.

 


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Never liked Voyager. Lack of chemistry with the entire cast. Crappy stories.

I’m surprised to hear “The Price” is considered an embarrassing episode. I always considered it one of those few episodes to show the ambassadorial duties of Enterprise. You know, our iconic starship and her gallant crew serving as host to a political event, congress or meeting, much like “Journey to Babel” in the classic series. By this virtue alone, it’s a memorable episode (as in, one of those few I remember by name ;)).

I’m equally surprised that “The 37’s” (also known as “the episode that made me realize Voyager is a heap of targ manure”) is considered a gem. :P

Happy Anniversary, Voyager!

I recently had the opportunity to revisit Voyager and found it much better than I remembered.

Some of my favs include Memorial; Bride of Chaotica, Caretaker (where it all began), Tuvix, Flashback, Fair Haven and others.

Emperor Mike of the Terran Empire

Voyager had some fantastic Eps. Great Action and great Moment’s. I love watching this show on occasion. Yes it had some bad ones. But so did Tos. Like the Space Hippies. Lol But a lot of good eps.

“Voyager” is better than most people give it credit for. Sure, there were plenty of duds, a lot of formulaic writing, and it really didn’t start to get better until they ditched the idiotic Kazon, but there were still plenty of gems, as this list shows. And say what you will about the whole sexed-up factor, adding Seven of Nine did invigorate the show and allowed for some fresh storytelling using her character.

And let’s not forget that, as Emperor Mike said, TOS also had its fair share of duds and complete stinkers. I think we tend to gloss over that given the limited number of years that TOS was on the air. With seven full seasons of episodes, you’re going to notice it when shows like VOY (and TNG and DS9) drop a stink bomb on the carpet, simply because there’s more of them to notice.

I Have Zero Problem with Voyager – Good Series!

I was also a big fan of “Course: Oblivion”. Voyager’s crew comes to the realization that they are the duplicates created on the demon planet after B’Elanna dies and Voyager begins to degrade when a new warp core goes online. What was once intended as a mission to return home becomes one to simply be remembered.

I always loved Voyager. Never understood all the hatin’ on that series.
Great FX, too.

I love Voyager. I think it really took off around 4th season (was never a big fan of Kes). I usually go through and watch the whole series every 2 or 3 years. My favorite Doctor episodes are “Real Life” (Season 3), because you really start to see the human side of him, and “Latent Image” where he has to deal with the ethics behind a choice of who’s life to save and gets stuck in an ethical feedback loop. Picardo excelled in that episode as he did in most.

WOW Twenty years allready! and this will be a classic in future years plus IMHO VOY has the best theme and visual intro of the whole series with the kick ass theme and the beautiful stunning FX graphics intro 37’s my fave and it was filmed late 1st season and aired as the second season opener

Of all the Trek series Voyager has my favorite and, IMO the best, opening credits visuals and theme song. It also, again IMO, the best pilot ep. The characters and their relationships to each other (well the dynamics of how those relationships were initially presented and set up for development) were better and more appealing to me than any of the other 1st eps. And I liked the ‘Lost in Space’ premise of Voyager.

Then the major conflicts inherent of the combining of the crews were all for the most part made ‘all right’ way too soon it seemed to me. There was, I feel, a lot more great drama and good stories to be mined from that situation.

Similarly the character Kes was basically squandered. The original concept of the character was that her species had a lifespan of seven (I believe it was) years. A great science fictional idea that I was hoping to see played out on the series. She was under-written then exchanged for ‘boobs-in-a-unitard’ and tossed away. Of course they did bring her back and brought the character to some resolution and Seven of Nine was pretty well written and was more than just ‘eye candy’, but I liked Kes and was sorry to see her go.

There were some great episodes of Voyager and Janeway was a great captain but that fourth Star Trek series is my fourth favorite of them.

I was always on the fence with Voyager (liked it much better than Enterprise), but did watch nearly the entire series during its original run. Thanks much for this list – I will go back and explore these again.

Voyager has the worst hit-to-miss ratio of any Trek series. It has far more crappy episodes than good. And anything focused on Janeway, Chakotay, Kes or Harry tends to suck due to the actors’ lack of skills.

Voyager had it’s moments – good and bad….

I forget the episode, but it had a ‘what were you thinking’ ending. The ship had a bunch of Borg do-hickys attached to help the crew achieve whatever the goal was, and Janeways command at the end of the episode was ‘now, get this junk off my ship!’….always wondered by her staff didn’t object to removing improvements that would shorten the trip home…

Can’t believe “Scorpion” parts one and two, as well as “Dark Frontier” aren’t on this list.

The show was pretty damned inconsistent for the most part. Seasons four and five were the best, with the highest concentration of good-great episodes.

The Kazon sucked as villains. But I thought that Hirogen were interesting.

The Borg became overused and watered down in the latter part of the series, and Species 8472 were great until they were humanized.

#14.

The explanation was that the Borg hull armor would disrupt the ship’s warp field.

There’s an episode I don’t see mentioned often called “Nemesis,” and no, it thankfully has nothing to do with the TNG movie.

It’s where Chakotay is stuck on a planet with human like people who are fighting a war with aliens that resemble the Predator alien from those movies. Anyway, I won’t give away the twist at the end, but it’s a good one, I think, and very Star Trek with its message. A story I could see taking place in TOS.

Nice list, my top 20 is a bit different, I include Scorpion Part 1 & 2 and Prime Factors for instance, but all of these are still in my top 50. Didn’t know Joachin was in Message in a Bottle but its cool to find out. FYI, one of the charaters in Good Shepherd is played by the actor who played the android Chip in the Not Quite Human series.

Of course the very best thing about Voyager is the absolute lack of Section 31 or a war story arc, so nice.

I liked Voyager. It is easily my third favorite Star Trek show. It holds up surprisingly well to time (more so than TNG in my opinion). Of been rewatching it lately on Amazon Prime.

@13, Yeah thats why Mulgrew was nominated for an Emmy last year, your opinions are not facts.

there are a lot of episodes that I haven’t yet seen, not because I didn’t like Voyager but because at that time there wasn’t too many ways to get UPN in our area, especially not on Direct TV, which is what we had at the time.

One of my main problems with the show is one that I had with DS9 and the latter half of TNG, the music scoring, absolutely bland. Another thing is something that I can’t quite put my hand on, there is a level of coldness, a lack of warmth and seems to filter in to the relationships. In a way, TNG was similar, but not as pronounced. I’ve always thought that TOS and DS9 characters had connections that felt warm.

The other thing that bothered me, was Seven of Nine. I like the character but it really bothered me that every time she was on the screen my thoughts would go “Damn, that women is gorgeous”. As much as I liked seeing in her in that outfit it seemed wrong

I know this is an unpopular statement, but to me VOY has always been the best ST series. It is *the* series that turned me into a fan. To me the characters were much stronger and had more back story than the TNG crew. Granted, the technobabble level is slightly above tolerable.

Wow, 20 years… That’s nearly 30 % of Voyager’s (initially projected) 70 year journey. Or more than twice as long as an Ocampa lives!

15… “The ship had a bunch of Borg do-hickys attached to help the crew achieve whatever the goal was, and Janeways command at the end of the episode was ‘now, get this junk off my ship!”

Strange, because there was another scene where Tuvok or Chakotay tells Janeway that the Borg dohickeys were (insert significant number percentage here) more efficient than the Starfleet originals, and she just shrugs and says “okay, leave them in!”.

“Course: Oblivion” is another terrific “what the devil is going on?” episode, up there with TNG’s “Cause and Effect” as a head-scratcher. “Relativity” is one of Trek’s better time travel stories (its original name “Time Bomb” would have been better.) “Hope and Fear” was as good a “Gilligan’s Island” episode as “Message in a Bottle”.

Ahh Voyager. What an interesting thing that was. First, I loved the mthology arc of Seska working with the Kazon. That led us to a truly exciting season finale for Trek. Whatever you think of the Kazon, it was a worthwhile arc in the end. Extremely satisfying. Second, I absolutely hated the doctor, in a hideous way that I cannot even explain. I always see goodness in the crews on Trek but the Doctor to me was a selfish, disloyal coward. He is the only main cast star trek character that I have genuinely and thoroughly mistrusted and been disgusted by. Week after week. If you question his actions, I believe you might agree. A lot of the time we are given heroes and just by the nature of them being the protagonist, we assume to trust them and have sympathy. For the Doctor that is a terrible mistake. He should have been put on trial when they returned to earth and permanently destroyed. Third, I know the 90s was about using time travel to save people and make things “right” but the episode in this list “Timeless” was extremely unsavoury and actually changed my perception on exactly that social ideology of fixing the past with time travel. It changed me in such a way that I believe this time travel story is one of the best… And it tells possibly one of the greatest ethical crimes of genocide committed in Trek. Go back and save the crew? In my… Read more »

“I’m equally surprised that “The 37’s” (also known as “the episode that made me realize Voyager is a heap of targ manure”) is considered a gem. :P”

Gods, yes. “The Price” isn’t a bad episode at all, while “The 37s” is just awful.

A few others from my top VOY eps list, Prototype, Meld, Revulsion, Thirty Days, One Small Step.

Some excellent choices from a criminally-unappreciated Trek series. Great article!

NO LOVE FOR THRESHOLD!

I am probably the only person in the whole entire world who thinks this, but Muse is one of my favourite VOY episodes. I don’t know what it is about it, because it’s a pretty standard tale, and there’s massive violations in the prime directive, but it’s a nice vehicle for showing how important the theatre possibly was and can be.

I have to say though, you look at the few B’lanna Torres episodes that they did over the course of the seven years…emphasis on the word few…, and they’e all mostly fantastic, focusing on major issues like self harm, depression, genetic engineering, like this article mentioned, etc.

I think someone said it before me, but when VOY got it wrong, it was absolutely horrendous, but when it got it right it was the best kind of Star Trek I think.

@ironhyde. Well, I very much do not agree with your opinion of The Doctor, and I can’t understand where that opinion could come from, at all. As far as Timeless, I’m not sure where the genocide part of your statement comes from, it was just a Temporal Prime Directive violation, there is no way to know if anyone was not born that would have been if Harru had not corrected his mistake, the only lives directly affected were those of the Voyager crew. Frankly Sisko’s blatant violations of interstellar weapons bans in “For the Uniform” are much more troubling especially since his crew just sat there and carried out illegal orders and Sisko was never brought up on charges for it. I mean jeeze Kirk faced court martial for the death of one officer in TOS and Sisko gets off scott free for violating treaties with every single Alpha Quadrant government, which is just one reason why I put DS9 almost at the bottom of my ranking list for Trek shows.

@25 Good point. Rest in peace, Kess…

Voyager was not the best series, it is my least favourite in fact but that’s not to say it wasn’t good and some episode just fantastic. It might be my least favourite…but I still like it. Voyager was important, to me, to Star Trek because after a series set on a space station (which is fine, DS9 is my favourite series), Voyager brought us back to a ship, on a mission, exploring the galaxy, hence the birth of the USS Defiant on DS9. And Enterprise showed us how we explored in the early days. It is something that I think Star Trek has lost with the reboots, new stories, about new people, about new mission, about uncharted space, an alternate universe does not fall under that category. A new TV series could rekindle that magic and utilize the untold eras and unexplored space of the original universe. Voyager quenched my curiosity about what was outside local Federation space in Star Trek, what else was out there, besides the Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Tholians, etc. We got that. And Voyager out of any other Star Trek series gave us a definitive start and end. Enterprises ending was rushed and bitter sweet, we had a TNG tie in but that sole the Enterprises thunder. DS9’s ending was sad, people leaving, Sisko’s death (open to assumptions), TNG didn’t really end, they continued on their mission and made movies, and TOS had the opposite, no definitive beginning or end. Voyager gave us a journey, of… Read more »

#22: Did you have a point to make, Captain Obvious? “Your opinions are not facts?” What’s next… air is not mayonnaise? Dogs are not cats? Star Trek is not Sesame Street?

I never liked Voyager. I watched most of it, but never really liked it. Janeway, to me, was a super annoying character…as well as Chakotay and Harry Kim…oh, and most of all…Neelix.

So, suffice it to say that I never really appreciated it. But, maybe I should give it another go on Netflix (or wherever it is), since some of you are saying that it holds up better a second time around.

Great actors. Horrible writing/scripts & concepts. Irritating characters. Way out in the Delta Quadrant: STILL humanoids with head bumps that are all easily understood by the universal translator?? Lol! And overused Borg. Been there, done that. Braga made it the beginning of the end for Trek. And people criticize Abrams? Ha!

I think Voyager was great at emphasizing the philosophy and message of Star Trek. They consistently developed ethical dilemmas and demonstrated Trek’s humanistic values. I think that’s just wonderful.
It was a very good show, with a lot to say, in my opinion.
And Janeway is awesome. She had the strength and determination of Kirk, and the deep moral code of Picard, all wrapped up in one Captain.

#36, good points. Why I enjoy Timeles is, that it brings forward these sorts of discussions. I do, however, disagree that it’s “just a temporal prime directive violation”. What worse violation could there be, than to eliminate every single thing after a certain point in time? Granted, we don’t know. But to decide that history needs to be this way, with this group of people preserved, and that every single other thing, every experience, every idea, every moment of growth, every child, every thought, every anomaly, every achievement, every relationship — every thing in the universe can go to Hell? Wow. JUST a temporal prime directive violation. Is there anything WORSE?

sorry, the above it to #34 not #36

crazydaystrom FYI part of the reason why you never saw Kes developed more was that Jen Lien had a big time drug problem durring her years on the show, hence why she was removed and replaced.
luckily in the years since she was removed from voyager she was able to get help and reclaim her life.

@36 – Very well said, Cmd Adams. Even at its worst, Voyager was a worthwhile show. The 90’s were a wonderful time to be a Star Trek fan, with two ongoing shows. If you liked both DS9 and VOY, so much the better.

I believe this has been said before but Voyager’s problem was that it got watered down. The Maquis group just easily settled in to being part of the crew, whereas if there had been more resistance (because they really believed in their cause or whatever) there would have been more conflict, as opposed to the “one big happy family with little spats” scenario. The “lost in space” idea never really happened. They knew where they were and which way was home and they never seemed to be in any real trouble. If they had to scrimp, save, kick, scratch and claw to get home — completely apart from whatever alien of the week they had to deal with — there would have been a lot more tension, suspense and, maybe, uncertainty. One idea that comes to mind is that Voyager (the ship) had bio-neural circuitry. Suppose something had gone wrong with this that caused a permanent problem? But, no, everything was fine… Instead of lots of new, wild, bizarre, interesting aliens we got more Romulans, Klingons, Borg… ho hum. Instead of really being a metaphor for the planet Earth and its people — saying something about how difficult it is for us all to get along but we’d better just do it, or else — we got a kind of continuation of TNG. There were things I liked about Voyager. I rather enjoyed the cast and there were some good episodes. But I think it was a missed opportunity, to… Read more »

44. missed editing opportunity:
“if you went TOO far you’d have fallen off.”
can’t believe I did that…

Each time a watched Voyager I thought that it was a show produced for the intellect of kids. It had this nice Saturday morning show charm.

In general, tremendously poor story telling, an even weaker cast, and low level acting performances (esp. Kim, Janeway – I mean look at the range of their acting abilities … explicitly excluding the Doc here). When I think of the dialogues, e.g. those between Kim and Paris, I’m still scratching my head.

This show was so unbearably one-dimensional and uninspired. A development of characters was almost non-existing (with the exception of Seven and the Doctor).

By far the worst Star Trek show ever. Shame on you Berman, Piller, and Taylor for delivering such a product!

Though I liked the original idea of a journey through an uncharted area in space — thought it had a lot of potential — as well as the gender aspect of putting a female captain on the bridge. But then again those in charge of producing the show completely messed it up and lost track during the course of the show.

yep i was one them who wrote it off and a few years back brought all the DVD including Voyager(updating from video to dvd) so i gave it another chance and guess what still as bad,i don’t blame the actor just some of the writers and show-runners

@ Dick Johnson: well said! Completely agree with your assessment.

Take for instance Tuvok: he was very inconsistent in relation to the general picture they drew about the Vulcans before. He was just Janeways lap dog who appeared to have lost his logic in the alpha quadrant.

Mommy Janeway as the captain making decisions on the basis of her gut feelings was beyond implausible.

Didn’t find the exploitation and debasement of the Borg too creative.

And the space of the Kazon was huuuge, wasn’t it.

Voyager was so lame! It contributed a lot to the temporary downfall of the whole Trek universe.

Voyager is my fourth favorite Star Trek show.

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