- Star Trek: Voyager established its own identity with the inclusion of the Maquis and a female protagonist, Captain Janeway.
- The show’s exploration of the Delta Quadrant and its unique alien races like the Vidiians offers fresh storylines and expands the Star Trek universe.
- Janeway’s moral dilemmas, the evolution of the Doctor as a hologram character, and the strong bond among the Voyager crew make the show stand out in the franchise.
Rewatching Star Trek: Voyager reveals many positive elements that help it shake off its unfair reputation as the unloved sibling of its more acclaimed Star Trek predecessors. Premiering in 1995, Voyager was the second spinoff series from the hugely successful Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like TNG, Voyager was set aboard a Federation starship, but creators Jeri Taylor, Rick Berman and Michael Piller made several conscious decisions to distinguish the show from its popular predecessor.
The inclusion of Star Trek‘s Maquis as Voyager crew and the decision to make Captain Janeway the first female protagonist helped establish Star Trek: Voyager as its own thing. The main issue facing Voyager, however, was that it often felt regressive when compared to the considerable efforts made by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to push the boundaries of what the franchise could achieve. With decades having passed since both shows finished, it’s easier to enjoy Voyager on its own merits, isolated from the likes of TNG and DS9. In doing so, a number of positive things can be unearthed from across Star Trek: Voyager‘s seven seasons.
10 Voyager Returned To Gene Roddenberry’s Original Star Trek Mission
Stranding the USS Voyager in the uncharted Delta Quadrant allowed creators Jeri Taylor, Rick Berman, and Michael Piller to re-engage with Gene Roddenberry’s original Enterprise mission. Star Trek: Voyager sought out new life and civilizations on a scale not seen since Star Trek: The Original Series ended in 1969. In separating Janeway and her crew from Starfleet and the Federation, they become just as isolated on the frontiers as Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and his crew often were during TOS.
After nearly 30 years, the Star Trek universe had become quite recognizable and predictable, but Voyager‘s 1995 premiere repopulated it with strange new worlds. While this may have seemed retrograde in light of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s arc-heavy, morally complex Dominion War storyline, in retrospect it keptthe franchise fresh in another way. Despite the promise of easy access to the Gamma Quadrant, DS9 was still largely rooted in the Alpha Quadrant. By opening things up to include the Delta Quadrant, Voyager inadvertently provided fertile new ground for future generations of Star Trek shows.
9 The Vidiians Are A Great Star Trek Alien Villain
As many viewers were expecting the Borg to be Voyager‘s major antagonists, it was easy to miss the great work done to create some truly new and fascinating alien races. Although Star Trek: Voyager‘s new Kazon aliens never had the staying power of the Klingons, Romulans, or Borg, the ambition was to be applauded. In looking back on Voyager aliens like the Vidiians and Hirogen, it’s clear that they’re built on strong concepts that are worth revisiting. The Kazon were Klingon clones, but the plague-stricken Vidiians and their obsession with curing the Phage, by harvesting the organs of other species made them the most terrifying alien threat since the Borg.
8 Janeway And Tuvok Are Star Trek’s New Kirk And Spock
Kirk and Spock might seem like an obvious comparison for Janeway and Tuvok, but it’s only in rewatching Star Trek: Voyager that their similarities become clear. Despite his Vulcan logic and emotional repression, Tuvok like Spock is still fiercely loyal to his captain. For example, in the episode “Resolutions”, Tuvok defied orders to find a cure for the terminal illness contracted by Janeway and Chakotay. In the episode prior, “Tuvix”, Janeway abandoned the ethical principles espoused by Starfleet and the Federation to kill the hybridized life form created by Tuvok and Neelix’s transporter accident. Both incidents prove that, like Kirk and Spock before them, Janeway and Tuvok are prepared to bend or break the rules to save one another.
7 Voyager Revolutionized Star Trek’s Holograms
In a way, Robert Picardo’s Doctor is the natural successor to Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) in Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, while Data won his rights to be seen as an individual very early on in TNG, the Doctor was yet to gain such recognition by the time of Star Trek: Voyager‘s finale. While that’s definitely a mistake, the arc of the Emergency Medical Hologram in Voyager emerges as one of its crowning achievements. The Doctor’s early struggle to be seen as an individual by his fellow crew is heartbreaking and proved that even in Gene Roddenberry’s utopian idyll, there were still lessons to be learned about how people treat each other.
6 Tom Paris And B’Elanna Torres Are A Great Star Trek Love Story
After a false start with Kes (Jennifer Lien) and Chakotay respectively, Lt. Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) and Lt. B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) emerged as the best Star Trek: Voyager romance. Their fractious working relationship and regular bickering were straight out of a screwball romantic comedy, and it led to the couple getting married and having a child together. Rewatching Star Trek: Voyager reveals an underlying theme that the USS Voyager would have to become a generation ship, given the long road ahead of them through the Delta Quadrant. Tom and B’Elanna’s parenting would have given the next generation of the Voyager crew strong foundations.
5 Seven Of Nine Did What Star Trek: TNG Could Never Do
Aside from the hostility presented by Commander Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks), Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) never faced prejudice for having been assimilated into the Borg Collective. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) in Star Trek: Voyager. After Janeway decided to rehabilitate Seven aboard Voyager, she was regularly treated with suspicion by some of the show’s main characters. Chakotay believed that she was a security risk, which wasn’t helped by Seven’s tendency to ignore Janeway’s “incorrect” orders. As Jean-Luc was always the hero of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the show could never do a similar storyline, so it’s great to see Voyager exploring the aftermath of assimilation in such detail.
4 Voyager Always Found Creative Ways To Connect To Wider Star Trek Canon
Although they were stranded in the Delta Quadrant, Star Trek: Voyager always found smart ways to link back to the Alpha Quadrant, even if they occasionally stretch credulity. The Pathfinder subplot in Voyager‘s final two seasons led to several appearances by both Lt. Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). The Pathfinder plot ultimately led to some considerable advances in Starfleet’s communications systems, setting up future exploration of the Delta Quadrant. Voyager also aired one of the best-ever Q episodes, season 2’s “Death Wish”, which laid the groundwork for Star Trek: Picard season 2’s dying Q storyline.
3 Janeway Was Challenged More Than Picard Or Sisko
Captain Janeway had to make some incredibly tough decisions during her voyage through the Delta Quadrant that make Sisko’s Dominion War treachery pale in comparison. In “Scorpion”, she enters into an alliance with the Borg Collective to defeat the incredibly powerful Species 8472. This decision created great ripples across the Delta Quadrant, emboldening the Collective to continue assimilating vast swathes of the region. Perhaps to assuage her guilt, Janeway later willingly had herself assimilated into the Borg Collective to implant a virus that would significantly weaken them.
It wasn’t just Janeway’s Borg encounters that caused her serious moral conflicts. She had to deal with crimes committed aboard Voyager, as well as deal with the – admittedly minor – consequences of her decision to enlist the Maquis as crew. Janeway was always driven by a loyalty to her crew and an unflinching belief in Star Trek‘s Prime Directive. In the unexplored region of the Delta Quadrant, it’s fascinating to watch Janeway and the crew be routinely challenged by their Starfleet ideals clashing with the beliefs of their Maquis crew mates and those outside of Federation space.
2 Voyager Pushed Star Trek’s Borg In New And Interesting Directions
Star Trek: Voyager‘s Borg stories were often ruined by huge expectations placed upon them by the audience. In rewatching Voyager, it’s interesting to see the show build on elements introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation to expand Borg mythology. Seven of Nine is essentially Hugh Borg if Picard had allowed him to stay aboard the Enterprise. Meanwhile, the small enclave of former Borg drones who want to use their collective mind to heal societal divisions foreshadowed Jack Crusher’s Borg storyline in Star Trek: Picard.
Star Trek: Voyager‘s introduction of Unimatrix Zero as an idyllic virtual reality construct in which Borg drones dream was a mistake. However, the cliffhanger ending to “Unimatrix Zero”, in which Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres are all assimilated is an audacious way to end a season. Seven’s mentoring of the young Borg children and their own backstories was similarly fascinating. Most notable is the episode “Child’s Play” in which it was revealed that Icheb (Manu Intiyarami) was genetically engineered to implant a virus into the Borg Collective by his own parents. It provides a chilling insight into how far some societies would go to protect themselves from the Borg in the absence of Federation protections.
1 The Star Trek: Voyager Crew Is A Loving Family Unit
Star Trek: Voyager‘s crew got a bit of a poor reputation after the series ended. Ensign Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) and his lack of promotion was such a long-running joke that actor Garrett Wang eventually embraced his status as the “Eternal Ensign”. Meanwhile, Chakotay was simultaneously a deeply boring character and a problematic portrayal of a Native American, while Neelix (Ethan Phillips) was a constant irritant. Returning to Voyager certainly exposes those flaws in the ways that particular characters are underwritten, but it also reveals what a strong family unit the crew really was.
Captain Janeway is the matriarch, nurturing the career aspirations of Harry Kim and seeing the best in loose cannon Tom Paris. Neelix may be irritating, but he also has an uncanny ability to bring the crew together at the dinner table. The Doctor is the insecure and aloof Uncle, whose bravado and pretentiousness belies a need to be loved by the rest of the family. The Voyager crew were forced together in a way that was unique from all other Star Trek shows, but they all love each other. The overriding message of Star Trek: Voyager is that progress can only be made through unity and embracing each other’s differences and there’s nothing more Star Trek, or Gene Roddenberry than that.