Neelix and Kes are my least favorite characters on Voyager. I just wanted to put that out there right at the beginning of this review of the second season. I’ll admit that this is a purely subjective thing, but any time that either of these characters spends too much time on-screen, my enjoyment of this show plummets. Small doses are okay. Rarely seen and seldom heard, like Jar Jar after The Phantom Menace, is how I prefer this Talaxian/Ocampa pair of lovebirds.
Previously, I mentioned how I use a five-star ranking system with all of the Trek episodes I watch. I allow myself half-stars, but that’s as far as the fractions go. This will allow me, one day, to publish a complete “Best of” Trek list that will include only those episodes I ranked 4 or above. To me, a ranking of 3 would be an average episode, one that I would still watch again if it happened to be on the television. A 3.5-star ranking would be better-than-average, maybe even approaching greatness but missing it for some reason. A 4-star ranking is a great episode, one that I wouldn’t mind recommending to other likeminded Trekkies or Trekkie-wannabes. A 5-star episode is damn near perfect.
At the end of viewing two seasons (or nearly two seasons, with one more episode to go with Enterprise:S2), I have given 5 stars to only one episode, TNG’s “Measure of a Man.” There have been only nine episodes ranked 4 stars (from two seasons of TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT), and three of those were from this season of Voyager. That’s not a bad percentage of the total.
Let’s talk about the three 4-Star episodes from this season.
The first was Episode 2.3 “Projections” which is a Doctor-centric episode with a Twilight Zone vibe. This was a bold experiment with storytelling in the Voyager milieu, and I liked it a lot. Robert Picardo, as The Doctor, is always interesting when he’s on-screen, and this episode let him put on an acting clinic.
The next 4-Star was Episode 2.16 “Meld” which featured Tuvok, who is another of my favorite characters, and guest-starred Brad Dourif as a Betazoid serial killer, Lon Suder. Tim Russ and Dourif played well off of each other. What happens when a Vulcan mind melds with a psychotic? This episode answers that, and it’s not a great outcome, but it’s entertaining.
And the last 4-Star episode this season was Episode 2.18 “Death Wish” only two episodes after “Meld.” This was a Q episode, a Trek staple. Only this time, there are two different Qs, and the one who isn’t John de Lancie wants Janeway to grant him asylum so that he can commit suicide. This one made me interested in the Q Continuum again, which earned all four of its stars.
Even though there were only three 4-Star episodes, that doesn’t mean there weren’t other episodes worth watching. 21 of the rest of the episodes were given 3 or 3.5 stars (full disclosure: 11 of the 21 were 3.5 Stars). The two remaining episodes were 2.5-Stars, and these were the only two that I’d rather not watch again. I’ll let you guess which two characters they focused on.
As Voyager continues its long trek homeward this season, we learned a few new things about most of our characters.
Harry Kim experiences an alternate timeline in which he was never part of Voyager’s crew. We get tidbits about his life prior to joining Voyager, and it seems for a moment that Harry will be fleshed out more this season, but that never really happens, even though he is actually killed off and replaced by a duplicate Kim from an alternate universe in a later episode.
Chakotay is developed a little more. During the season we learn more about Chakotay’s relationship with his father and his tribe. The fact that B’Elanna Torres is attracted to him is revealed at some point. And, during the penultimate episode of the season, Chakotay and Janeway are quarantined together on a planet and seem to be becoming more intimate before they are cured and return to the ship. Did they, or didn’t they? I’m not sure. But, once back on board Voyager, Chakotay calls her Captain Janeway and not Kathryn any more. Chakotay later has his genetic material stolen by the secretly-Cardassian traitor Seska, and she uses it to bear his child.
Tom Paris remains the resident bad boy, who spends his off-hours shooting billiards or gambling. In one memorable episode, he and Janeway exceed the transwarp barrier and de-evolve millions of years. It takes three days for Voyager to locate the pair, and by that time they have mated and produced three offspring. Janeway and Paris have children! Which we don’t talk about ever again. At least not this season.
Most of Tuvok’s devolopment is directly related to his mind-meld with the psychotic Lon Suder. Otherwise, Tuvok is always a rock, unchanging and dependable. Episode 2.22 “Innocence” was a good Tuvok episode as well, in which he babysits some children after crash-landing on a planet. We learn more about Tuvok the Vulcan parent, and get to hear him sing.
B’Elanna Torres is another constant in the show, like Tuvok. She is a capable, aggressive engineer always. She really demonstrates her capabilities during Episode 2.17 “Dreadnought,” in which she has to correct a problem with a self-guided missle that she herself caused back in the Alpha Quadrant.
I like Captain Kathryn Janeway. She’s still my number two favorite among all the Trek captains (excepting Kirk for the moment). She’s compassionate and smart, tough when she needs to be. At heart, she is a scientist, not a warrior, but she doesn’t shy away from a fight when necessary. I already mentioned that she had offspring with Tom, and set up house with Chakotay this season. I know she wants to get back with Mark in the Alpha Quadrant, but the show’s writers seem to be intent on hooking her up with other characters. We’ll see if that trend continues.
I choose not to talk about Neelix and Kes.
This was a good Trek season, and I’m looking forward to watching more. During the finale, the Kazon have stolen Voyager and stranded Janeway and most of her crew on a planet. The psychotic Lon Suder and The Doctor are the only crewmembers on-board, and Tom Paris is somewhere unknown in a shuttle. I an anxious to see how the crew regains control of Voyager (as you know they must) and what happens after.