Saturday, August 10, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: The Voyager Conspiracy, Season 6
"The Voyager Conspiracy"
127 of 168 produced
127 of 168 aired


Voyager encounters a tantalizing way to shave years off their journey, but is it too good to be true? Meanwhile, Seven experiments with directly uploading Voyager's entire set of logs to her cortical implants.

Seven stares at Frame 313 of the Voyager Film, trying to discover who did it.


Kevin: There are two stories here, with really only tangential relation, so I'll take the less successful, or at least, less meaty, plot first. We have the set up for a standard Gilligan's Island plot line with another way home dangled and snatched away. The real novelty is that Tash and his invention are exactly what they appear to be and work exactly as intended. The problem is of course is that given that it works out, but only shaves a few years off their journey, neither the stakes or the resolution are too high. I also always wondered about the ethics of this. They destroyed the Caretaker array, admittedly much more powerful, for fear of how it could be used in their absence, and this catapult seems to present the same concerns. Also, why not just figure out a new power source? Even if it took months to build over and over again, the net gain would still be home in a few years rather than a few decades. Tash himself is fun enough and has some energy, but as a plot, it's pretty thin.

Matthew: I am in agreement with your assessment. While not quite at the level of the warp ten drive (if they can cure the lizard sickness, they can just repeat until the series is over), or even the quantum slipstream drive (why not short jumps, reaching the goal over a few years?) this plot does raise similar questions. Fantastical technology plots are a bad idea generally. Far more interesting are plots where the Voyager crew must make a difficult choice. There's nothing really difficult here. They should choose to use the help. We just know it is doomed to failure because it's only Season 6.

Kevin: The main story line with Seven is a lot of fun, but still somewhat insubstantial. The early deduction of the photonic fleas (which...whatever) is fun and has a Sherlock Holmes vibe that I certainly don't dislike. I also like the general cautions on the nature of conspiracy theories, specifically that their key fallacy is that the lack of support becomes support, and the erosion of trust is the real danger of spouting half-baked theories. A prescient lesson, no doubt. The problem for me is that too much happens too fast, and the writers actually paint themselves into a corner. Janeway and Chakotay freak out too fast, too easily, even if you take the evidence of the tractor beam at the Caretaker at face value. I think they should remain skeptical and compare notes earlier in the story, and maybe that would give a heel turn a little more bite. It just felt irrational here.

Matthew: They definitely went from Breakfast to Mutiny far too quickly. I think this aspect of the story should have just been the entire episode. The Tash plot could have been jettisoned for a slower burn on the distrust. Conspiracy theories are very, very current, and an exploration of how otherwise rational people can fall for them would be most welcome. As it stands, this episode sort of gives us the emotional notes of it without the realistic buildup.

Kevin: The other problem is...wait...was there actually a tractor beam pushing the Caretaker's power source into subspace? And why did Voyager have special weapons for what they thought would be a quick arrest mission? And where is that Cardassian ship? When you tack on the Equinox earlier in the year, hasn't the Caretaker has been too busy for no one to catch this? In an attempt to give Seven just enough grist for the mill to extrapolate some pretty wild theories, they ended up giving some grounding to at least some kind of shenanigans and then let it drop. I would have preferred a little follow up to explain that the tractor beam was something else if you looked at how Neelix's sensors saw it or something, kind of like the Face of Mars rock formation. Just something to make clear she was extrapolating wildly from the jump. The episode as is just leaves as a legit and unresolved mystery.

Matthew:  Yeah. The Caretaker pulling everything and the kitchen sink creates a bit of a small universe problem. I enjoyed it with the Ferengi, and the Equinox provided a good dramatic counterpoint to Janeway's stalwart ethics. But this was just sort of thrown in to give Seven's conspiracy theory some ammunition. It didn't need to be there, either. She could have just been poring over the archives to the same effect.

Kevin: On the character front, the Janeway/Seven dynamic may feel a little rote at this point, but overall it was competently done as ever.


Kevin: The main cast turned in solid performances. Seven's paranoia may be her least effective extreme emotion, when compared to her dives into vulnerability or pain that she can portray like gangbusters, but that's a tiny criticism. She's good at it, just not transcendent like she can be with more subtle emotional play. It was fun watching her take charge of a conversation rattling off her 'support' for her 'theories.'

Matthew: Knowing that there was friction on the set between the two, scenes like the finale of this episode really drive home what consummate professionals Mulgrew and Ryan are. They totally nailed the emotional resonance that was needed. Beltran and Dawson also delivered pitch perfect character reactions to the conspiracy element, even when the script did not support the ideas quite well enough.

Kevin: Albie Selznick did a pretty good job with Tash. He had real energy, and you got the sense he was a fully formed character, if only in the actor's head. Selznick also appeared as the juggler in "Cost of Living" and an ambassador in Macrocosm, and I can see why he keeps getting brought back.

Matthew: Given how much I disliked "Cost of Living" (with that said, it's still better than all of Discovery) Selznick does a terrific job. There's nothing a little Westmorehead and some reasonable dialogue won't fix.

Production Values

Kevin: By and large a bottle show, but a good one. The array had a nice sense of scale and it manages to look slim without looking underdeveloped. I also really liked the make up on Tash. I was reminded of a skittering lizard, and the makeup felt like it had a light hand, allowing the actor to shine through.

Matthew: I liked the Westmorehead as well, and thought the slingshot array in space looked fine. I also dig any use of Astrometrics, so all told this was a visually appealing episode. Nothing amazing, just solidly good.


Kevin: Overall, I can't deny the episode has a bit of electric charm. Everything moves quickly through some fun notions, even if they don't bear much scrutiny. The somewhat insubstantial B plot and the holes left behind by the A plot hold this back from being a great episode, but on 'fun' alone, I think it lands solidly in 3 territory.

Matthew: Yeah, this one was an edit away from being quite interesting. Nonetheless, Voyager is, at its most mediocre, kind of like a warm bath and a decent book. Comforting if not enlightening. That's where this episode is, and I agree with the 3 for a total of 6.


  1. When you mention 'Half a Life' up there under 'Acting', do you mean 'Cost of Living'? Half a Life is the one with David Ogden Stiers and the people who commit suicide to avoid old age, whose sun is dying. You both gave it a 5.

    1. PS, I love Star Trek fans who obsess over minutiae to the same level that we do :)