I’ve had an idea for a while of reviewing and discussing Star Trek episodes. The original plan was that I would review the episodes in order, and go back to the beginning of The Next Generation and start from there. But we’ve been watching through every episode so far and just finished watching Voyager, and I had a lot in my head about the final episode so it looks like I’ll be starting there.
Just to warn everyone, there will be a lot of spoilers here. Consider this a sort of “spoiler warning”. I found that while writing it, I had so much to say that it’s worth splitting into two blog posts. The next one will be up in a fortnight! Just to be clear, this isn’t an autopsy related to the first episode of this two-parter – just the first part of my autopsy of both parts considered as a single episode. If that didn’t clear it up, I’m sure you’ll see what I mean further down.
I liked the last episode, but I found a lot of problems with it. The biggest one is this: Why did they get home at all? We see a lot of an alternate future where Voyager spent another decade in the Delta Quadrant, learned a lot and grew a lot. In contrast, we see absolutely nothing – literally, nothing – of the consequences of them getting home. Deep Space Nine never had a seven-year quest like Voyager, yet we know where the characters went and what they are doing next. There’s definite closure in the end of it. Voyager felt much more like the end of The Next Generation where the final episode didn’t really mark the end of anything and life will continue as it always did (and see the movies for the proof). The only consequence as far as I can see is that Janeway is promoted to Admiral before the events of Nemesis, and there is an implication that Tuvok will not suffer from his degenerative brain disease. Neither of these are shown in the episode, they spend less than 5 minutes in the Alpha Quadrant and we see them fly towards Earth, but not actually meet with or have physical contact with anyone in the Alpha Quadrant.
I had a few questions that weren’t answered here that I’ve spent seven years (figuratively) thinking about.
Chakotay and the Maquis
Granted, the Maquis subplot was dropped fairly quickly. The tensions were mostly stirred up in early episodes by Seska and Torres, but with Seska leaving and Torres calmed down and resigned to her fate on Voyager the rest of the Maquis just seemed to toe the line. It flared up once or twice since – Lon Suder’s inability to integrate in Year of Hell and the “misfit” crew members in the final years are notable examples – but for the most part they integrate as good little Starfleet officers. Unfortunately, this integration is out of necessity. The only mention that I can remember being made of the consequences of getting home for the Maquis occurs in the first season, and no doubt if they’d gotten home at any point in the first two years Janeway would have them all locked up for their terrorist activities.
Now that they are home, what happens to the Maquis crew? They won’t be allowed to continue serving on a Starfleet vessel without at the bare minimum re-enlisting in Starfleet (for Chakotay this would be trivial, for Torres it might involve a quick graduation in the Academy) and, let’s not forget, going on trial for their crimes. The Maquis are terrorists in the eyes of Starfleet and although the Maquis as an organisation no longer exists (the Dominion wiped them all out), why would any bombings, raids, thefts or attacks committed by the Maquis against Starfleet or Cardassian targets (who were not at war at the time) be ignored just because their ship went missing?
In some ways, Janeway has still successfully completed the mission she set out on seven years previously – to bring back the crew of the Batanay for trial.
Will all the crew want to enlist in Starfleet? Stockholm syndrome aside, many were effectively at war with Starfleet before they were lost in the Delta Quadrant and will see no reason to ally with them in the Alpha Quadrant. Some probably never integrated pleasantly with the crew at any rate – see Chell, Lefler, Mortimor etc in their brief moments of belligerence and discontent. Would they see the Maquis as finished, or does the cause still exist for them? The Maquis was only destroyed in the Alpha Quadrant, and although they are small in number there may be enough strong-headed rabble-rousers amongst the Voyager crew to recruit more people. I don’t believe that the cause was destroyed with the people. The original cause of the Maquis was that the Federation granted planets to the Cardassians, and evicted the human populations to do so. Given that the Cardassians (as part of the Dominion) have been invading and taking over planets during the war (probably not all of which were recaptured), are there now more dispossessed peoples ready to join a new Maquis, even though the original displaced rebels were killed by the Dominion?
Assuming that they don’t immediately try to run off and rebuild the Maquis to pick a fight with the severely weakened Cardassians, I can imagine that seven years of good service on Voyager would be a point in their favour. Sentences would be reduced, waived in some cases, all dependant on what crimes they may have committed prior to being lost in the Delta Quadrant.
Seven and Chakotay
In a way I’m glad that Chakotay’s story wasn’t resolved – the most realistic thing to happen for Seven would be to dump him. A romantic relationship that only existed for a few weeks isn’t going to last if he’s being sent to prison for an unspecified time (although longer than if he’d been tried by the Cardassians). But this is television, and without the requirement to show that relationship waiting for the time they can be together again, the general rule is that LOVE CONQUERS ALL and she will wait for him, even if he is imprisoned for years.
The Doctor’s story also couldn’t be resolved just by coming to Earth. He is an outspoken and occasionally misguided activist for holographic rights, and nothing about that story changes just because he comes back to Earth. Even moving the focus to him and his story would probably be some expectation on his part that on returning home, new laws will be passed to give him the rights and respect under law that he’s come to expect on Voyager. That’s still a story idea triggered by the return home that won’t become an issue until at least a week or so has passed.
Neelix and Icheb
Not a lot here, but how gutted is Neelix going to be that he jumped ship just a week before they got back to Earth!
Icheb too isn’t seen in the “default” future. We know that he cannot find his home, and presumably any home, as he was created to be a weapon against the Borg and even his family were going to sacrifice him for the second time. What did he end up doing on Earth at the end of the episode? I know he’s a relatively recent addition to the crew, but he was still a relatively important character and some closure on his story would be nice.
Of all the different things that going home meant resolving, the fact that Harry Kim was always the first in any episode to start planning the following morning on Earth whenever they found a piece of technology, a spatial rift or stellar phenomenon that may be able to shave a week or more off of their journey. The one thing that shows that they got home would have been a shot of Harry Kim contacting his parents, or at the very least shedding a tear of joy on the bridge because every third episode since they got stranded in the Delta Quadrant, he has been thinking of Earth. Many of the rest of the main crew were ambivalent at best at returning home – Tom, B’elanna, the Doctor, Seven, Neelix, Icheb – none of them have shown any strong ties to home or gotten too excited about the possibility of getting home. But Harry, really, has been harping on about seeing his parents for seven years. It doesn’t feel like they got home unless he actually gets to see them.
On the other hand, it’s so obvious what Harry wants and what he’ll do that it doesn’t really need to be shown. We all know who he’ll go to first, and what he’ll do, and how he’ll go straight back to Starfleet for duty as soon as he’s done.
That’s enough! Over 1300 words to get started. Next time, I’ve got a bunch more to say about this final episode.