Saturday, July 24, 2021

Voyager, Season 7: Endgame

Voyager, Season 7

Airdate: May 23, 2001

168 of 168 produced

168 of 168 aired


Captain Janeway is presented with another dilemma similar to the one that stranded Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. This time she has another voice added to the debate - her own, from 23 years in the future.

"You're going to have to tell me what face cream I start using between now and then."


Kevin: This is a good episode overall, and certainly an enjoyable one in the balance. I'm going spend most of my time discussing what I didn't like so it will sound like I disliked it, and I don't. It's a fun episode. I just think it falls short of the punch that TNG's finale had (an admittedly high bar) or scope of DS9's. My complaints fall into two main categories. The first is that the episode feels like it is intentionally cribbing TNGs finale with the time travel elements. Yes, it's fun to see everyone in the age makeup, but there is a bit of diminishing return. The problem is that the time travel nonsense in TNG was used in service of the episode's (and ultimately the series') thesis: that the crew works best when they work together and fail when they do not. The time travel, forward and backward, let us see our group of friends when they did not yet or no longer intuitively trust each other, and the clash with our season 7 well-oiled machine was interesting to watch for both story and character reasons. Here, it feels more like mere fan service. Isn't it fun to see old Janeway or the All Good Things uniforms? Isn't it? It's not fatal to the episode by any means, and it is fun to watch, but it just lacks that extra reach that the story in All Good Things did. I will use this space to also tag the episode for failing to have any epilogue for the crew. Even a parallel party scene in the now would have worked great to serve as the poker game moment in TNG. In a dream world, they would have gotten home several episodes ago and really dug in, but I get that was never going to happen. But without anything to really show their homecoming, there is some gentle narrative blue balls happening.

Matthew: For me, the cribbing is from Voyager itself, from Season 5's "Timeless." It's got the same basic outline of a story - future VOY crew members aren't happy with the way things turned out, so they use a timey-wimey device in order to secretly travel back and change things. Now, what we get here is certainly more emotionally rich than just a straight rehash. The main theme, which the extended length gives longer to breathe, is Janeway's. Young Janeway is given a similar opportunity to "Caretaker," to choose between returning her crew home and making a sacrifice to potentially save billions of innocents from assimilation by the Borg. Old Janeway has spent decades beating herself up for her strident moralizing and the consequences it had for her crew. Do both grow in the course of this episode? Well, Old Janeway does relent in her drive to force the younger crew home, but Young Janeway never really has to face the sacrifice - she finds a way to have her cake and eat it too (which to be fair is a grand Starfleet tradition). Like you say Kevin, it sort of serves the same function that TNG's finale did - a meditation on how the crew has grown and come to love and trust one another. And I do agree that it is less successful overall. I think it would have been better to raise the stakes and really force the characters to make a hard choice. I suppose having Old Janeway sacrifice herself is a step in that direction, but we knew she was going to disappear anyway, so that felt a little toothless. And yes, absolutely, I think we got hosed a bit on seeing the crew's homecomings. Not that I wanted 45 minutes of tearful music swelling melodrama (ahem, Discovery and Picard), but maybe the story could have spent more time and built the time travel plot of the episode into scenes of their being home again. Perhaps one of the characters could have become a Cassandra-like presence, prophesying doom and being deemed increasingly insane for it. I guess this is a long way of saying that the story feels a few rewrites away from really hitting.

Kevin: My other main issue is that I feel like this is a key reversal of a core character trait for Janeway without really doing the detail work to make that land. Fidelity to Federation ideals and protecting the Ocampa meant stranding the crew in the Delta Quadrant seven years ago, and now Old Janeway is willing shred the Federation Charter and use it as toilet paper in the name of getting the crew home. I get that as a character arc. Certainly actually losing people you love is harder than saying you would accept that in the name of your ideals, but they don't really engage with the consequences of that for the Janeway character. Also, why here and now? Janeway in her shuttle could send Voyager home and guarantee the destruction of the Catretaker Array. Hell, she could pop back and stop the Caretaker from taking Voyager or the Maquis in the first place. I get she wants some of that journey to remain intact, but the end result is that her actions feel a little arbitrary. Joe Carey ate it two weeks ago, why not pop in to save him? Her original first officer was supposed to be a close friend? What about justice for Stadi? I can accept in a vacuum the notion that she would violate Federation ideals to save her friends, but the fact that the time she chose to appear in didn't upset the seven years we just watched is a real world decision, not a Janeway one, and they don't do enough of a deep dive to make it land. Put simply, Janeway eventually repudiates the very decision making process that led to there being a show, and I don't feel like they did enough to make that land emotionally and narratively, outside of it looking cool. But I will admit it did look cool.

Matthew: Yep. I don't know if some sort of script limitation might have helped this issue or if it would have seemed cheap. Time travel stories frequently raise these sorts of questions, from Star Trek IV to Superman The Movie. Why not go back to time X or Y, take care of some story problem earlier or later? The more airtight stories among them usually set some sort of limitations on where/when/how many attempts there can be. There isn't one here, and it ends of making Old Janeway seem kind of callous. From a larger meta-perspective, I think it's kind of cheap that we don't get a goodbye for KEs. Now, yes, she did get a send-off of sorts with Fury, but I can't help wondering whether there were some interesting story angles unexplored in terms of going back to Caretaker, and I also can't help wondering if the "Voyager time travel story" well has been thoroughly plumbed, given Timeless, Future's End, Year of Hell, and Relativity (among others).

Kevin: On the smaller list of issues, the biggest is Chakotay and Seven. It's just the worst. I maintain that Work and Deanna got more credible buildup in the last season of TNG than Seven and Chakotay did here. This is also the apotheosis of the dilution of the Borg. Even since finding Unimatrix One, it's always been a nagging question of why the Borg didn't send two cubes and easily crush the Federation. This makes it a staggering and almost world breaking issue. And while it is fun to see the Borg Queen, and I admit I enjoyed her in First Contact, by now, it just reduces the Borg to the sexy noir machinations of this one person. And lastly, having watched the episode like five times over the years, I still don't know what the 'plan' was there at the end with the sphere and transwarp conduit. The dialogue just did not match the visuals or they cut a scene with some needed explanation.

Matthew: To be fair to this relationship, there was one prior episode in which Seven expressed romantic interest in Chakotay. Buuuut, yeah. In the pantheon of crap Trek relationships, I think this settles somewhere in between Kira/Odo (which was creepier but better developed) and Picard/Darren (which was insulting in its sidestepping of Beverly, but at least got an episode to breathe). Similar to Troi/Worf, this was just not the time to explore such a story line. The finale? Really? This is the last thing you're going to leave us with? Add to that that it ultimately went nowhere. Seven didn't really open up to Chakotay, and he didn't.... make up for his lack of screen time since the boxing episode.

Kevin: In the plus column, the character interactions all work here and are humming along like you would expect a cast with seven seasons under their belts to do. I wish B'Elanna got more to do than a paint by numbers "angry lady gives birth" scene, but what she got, she did great with. The scenes between the Janeways crackled with the energy I wish they had spun into a more detailed story element. And for all my complaints, the episode itself was enjoyable to watch in the moment. I don't think there were any 'slow' or 'wasted' parts, so for a feature length episode, it kept things moving in an enjoyable way.

Matthew: I very much agree. This was paced really well, and never dragged. Character elements were really the stars of the show here, as I suppose they have been for much of the series run. Now, don't get me wrong. I think some of Voyager's very best episodes reach the same heights that TNG did. But it would be willful blindness to try and claim that Voyager's primary charm was not its well rendered characters and relationships, over and above its sci-fi chops. I do think Harry and Tom should have been given one more Captain Proton outing, but they had a lot to cover in the episode, I guess.


Kevin: Here, I have the most praise to offer. Everyone really turned in great performances. Jeri Ryan did a great job with her scenes with young and old Janeway. Mulgrew did fantastic work shading the older Janeway's cynicism and sparring with Krige. Krige and Thompson gave related but slightly different interpretations of the Queen, and I have enjoyed them both, but it was nice to see Krige again. I think her take is more "Pinhead from Hellraiser" and Thompson is more "noir femme fatale." That's not to say Krige isn't sexy or Thompson isn't scary, but their anchor points seem different, and isolated from the issues with the Borg more generally, the Queen is a hoot, and her scenes with Janeway are great, in addition to passing the Bechdel Test with flying colors.

Matthew: All told, I think I've ended up on Team Thompson for the Borg Queen. She was given more emotional range to deal with, like you say. Which of course is problematic for the character, but that's not the actor's fault. Krige was fine to be sure. Kate Mulgrew will get one more review's worth of praise from me, for quite expertly and distinctly modulating her young and old personae. I believed Old Jaeway's character journey and her change of heart.

Kevin: I liked perennial Trek guest actor Vaughn Armstrong as the Klingon, and Lisa LoCicero did a great job of seeming like a fully realized character in her own right and absolutely acting like she was B'Elanna's daughter. Russ did good work with acting 'crazy,' always a difficult mission brief. And it's always nice to see Reginald Barclay again. Schultz was his usually anxiety-ridden self.

Matthew: I think Dwight Schultz was allowed to really show growth in Barclay here, and it's much appreciated by this viewer. Where his prior Voyager appearances seemed like a bit of a step back for the character (albeit an enjoyable one), this really moved him forward and was a credit to the acting. He seemed more confident and self assured, while still retaining the core vulnerability that is central to the character. I totally agree on Lisa LoCicero, I would have watched whole episodes focusing on her character. As such, I assume the character will be portrayed by a different actor and will be disemboweled in Picard Season 2.

Production Values

Kevin: I really liked the transwarp hub location. It felt like some really impossibly large and complex stellar phenomenon. The armor on the shuttle was neat. And I really liked the cavern set for the Klingon Secret Temporal Research Outpost. I think it's clear they spent the rest of their budget on the episode, and it showed.

Matthew: Overall this was a very strong episode visually. Beyond the items you mentioned, some other sets and designs I liked a lot were the Starfleet Academy classrooms and offices, the Voyager exteriors in which CGI crewmen were building things, and Captain Janeway's San Fran condo. I thought the whole party scene really came off well, looking like a mostly real space for living. Do I still have questions about who gets what prime real estate in the future? Sure. But I enjoy pondering these questions when the visuals are pleasing.


Kevin: I think this is a four, on the strength of the acting. The lack of a moment that hit as hard as Picard saying "and the sky's the limit" is noticeable, but not fatal to the episode. Comparing it to DS9's "What You Leave Behind," I think you could tag that episode for getting too maudlin with the literal sepia-toned flashbacks, and you can tag this one with not giving enough time to the emotional payoffs. In the balance, the episode is a glossy, feature length Borg episode that Voyager has gotten pretty good at over the years. I wanted a bit more of a narrative reach, and that's sadly kind of my conclusion about the series generally, but I won't dispute that this was a fun, energetic way to end the run.

Matthew: Yeah, I think this one is a bit blunted by the existence of better, tighter time travel stories in Voyager's own history, as I mentioned above. But it's not bad by any stretch, and the glimpse of the future we got was fun to watch. I agree with a 4 as a rating encompassing all three aspects of our rubric. I would have been willing to consider a 5 if the Seven/Chakotay thing had been bypassed, the Borg aspect of the episode had been given more teeth (or an origin, dare I ask?), or if they had shown us more after their arrival on Earth. I would have liked to see a Tom/Admiral Paris reunion, or a B'Elanna/Dad reunion, or a Harry/Family/Libby reunion, or Maquis trials, or something! Ah, well. Anyway, that's an 8 from the both of us.


  1. A comment and reply got deleted here. It may have happened accidentally while flushing spam from the comments. If the original commenter reads this - sorry!

    1. No worries.

      It's not the first time it's happened, by the way. I may have been more active than you realized. :)