If you click the video, you should be directed to a youtube [and thus poor quality] version of Voyager’s Season 3 finale, Scorpion. Wanting to capitalize on the sheer amount of awesome that the Borg had brought in for the Next Generation, and having finally gotten out of Namek…. I mean Kazon space; Voyager wanted to try to deal with some much more classical trek enemies and the like.
You see, Voyager was actually an OK show up until this point (Hear me out god dammit). A lot of people say that the show didn’t find its own until season 4 onwards, these people are stupid. Voyager went from being a show about a federation ship genuinely lost in the Delta Quadrant without any real way home to a show in which a Federation starship just happens to be in the Delta Quadrant.
Now, to maintain this illusion, you first have to be willing to paint Janeway in a slightly different light. To do this, all you need to do is realize that starfleet is literally overflowing with command officers [Hell, they even let Worf have the Defiant to some extent]. Janeway is just another field officer who happens to have been flung halfway across the galaxy. A few people would argue that Voyager was a new top of the line ship, why would someone possibly let a commander who was not oozing with experience command it?
The truth of the matter is that Voyager wasn’t all that special, if DS9 is to be believed, than there are at least 3 of those vessels in operation anyway, they are just light cruisers with some advanced technology. You don’t give the brand new missile destroyer to the Admiral of the fleet, he will stay on the carrier, you just give it a capable captain and give it a mission. Janeway had a simple mission, take the vessel she had been given and find the Maquis.
So just realize that she did in fact accomplish this mission (Plus or minus a few Maquis). In fact, if you realize that she just happens to be a bad captain (those do happen) the show will make a LOT more sense. In fact, just realize that she was probably a border patrol captain and that Cardassians were kind of her area of expertise. If you than apply the notion that Kazon are kind of like stupid Cardassians the first 2 seasons are almost livable.
Now, getting past Voyager’s rough start, there was a moment for me when I realized that this show’s fate was sealed, and scene 2 of scorpion happens to be it. Now, really I should have known shit was about to hit the fan when the cast and crew dealt with the Borg cube in Unity, but hoping dearly for this show I pressed on.
TNG V Voyager
One of the big things that you’ll notice is how the two shows tended to handle the Borg. I wouldn’t care so much, except the Borg were the one species from both shows that had some amount of stand in. Compare how say Voyager tended to deal with the Borg, with how TNG dealt with say the Romulans or the Klingons (Two species which made their way from TOS). There was always this sort of initial reverence with them, trying to make sure that it was clear that TNG knew that this was the BIG species from the original series, they needed to be treated as such.
Voyager’s first two outings with the Borg, the BIG BAD of TNG, were just detrimental as a whole. The first time that we see them in Unity, they are apparently a drift in space having suffered from some kind of spacial anomaly (In fact, Voyager’s choice to kill Borg ships via Surprise Spacial Anomalies is somewhat bothersome). The point of the matter is that while the first Borg cube is left a drift in space only to explode to the magical power of love (Or Unity). The second two Borg cubes we see [and the proceeding thirty or so] all explode.
But, it is that scene with Da-Vinci which really irritates me. With TNG, when there was an episode with the Borg, there was no playing around it was straight to the point. For TNG with Best of Both Worlds there was no playing around at all, we rolled the episode in with some dramatic overtones, we made it clear right from the start that we were dealing with the Borg, and we dialed up the appropriate level of terror.
Let’s compare this with Scorpion, where we blow two Borg ships up with plot devices and then when we get back from the spoiler, what do our eyes behold but Janeway futzing around in a holodeck [Come to think of it, Janeway spent A LOT of time in the holodeck]. Than we futz around some more debating the fact that we are now entering BORG SPACE. Just ponder that for a second… the tip of Borg Space and their first thought is “maybe we can just sneak our way through”.
The Borg were consistently mishandled and degraded as the series proceeded, but honestly Scorpion just sets up a LOT of bad standards. It treats the Borg as if they are this rag-doll kind of group that can’t do what they do best (adapt) because of some pseudo human philosophy bullshit. I’m not saying the preceding 3 seasons of Voyager were to be called on high as among the best in Star Trek, but they had their merit and made some amount of sense.
Voyager was constantly looking for supplies, always on the edge of meandering into someone who could show them to a trash heap, and perhaps most importantly it felt like they were genuinely a lost starship. There was this sense of depression on the ship, as if someone was trying to put on a good face for the rest of the World, until Year of Hell you won’t ever see this depression again. It’s this mix of “Fuck it lets explore” and “LOL B0RG Hacks” for the following seasons.
Cause Bugger Kes, that’s why
Add to this that we changed out Kes for 7 of 9. Now, Jeri Ryan is a decent actor, but Jennifer Lien and her character are something of a unique thing for Trek. Kes got to play as a character you could actually grow to like, just generally being kind, “Mind Power” kind of things, and generally all around interesting. Yet, given the chance to bring in the sex appeal that was Jeri Ryan, they thought to themselves “God, I don’t think we can afford 2 Female characters not in Starfleet, one must be gotten rid of”.
I guess it’s just irritating because you have episodes like “Before and After” which was actually exploring a LOT about Kes’s characterAs a kind of off note, I am curious if they actually knew they already wanted to do year of hell by season 3 with the Krenim OR if that was just a “Hey, that Year of Hell thing we toyed with back in the 3rd season… that’d actually make a cool episode”
It was just a kind of let down, because unlike Tasha Yar, the Kes character was actually interesting to the whole of the series, and there wasn’t some kind of implied “Lesbian” relationship between her and Janeway, it was more like a motherly relationship which quite honestly is one of the things Kate Mulgrew did really well in the show (Probably something to do with her actually being a mother).
So there you have it
The exact moment when Voyager when from having a plot I could go “Ok, I’ll let you do this” to “Ok WTF is this?” is Voy 3×26 – Scorpion Part 1 – 2:02