I have been slowly making my way through a Voyager re-watch and decided to share my thoughts about the fourth season here, since this is the season that introduces Seven of Nine and is regarded by some fans as the best season of the show.
Personally, I like Voyager. I believe I was around ten when it first started airing so I didn't have any preconceived notions about what the show should be. I wasn't looking for a show that would have tight continuity and show a crew suffering mental breakdowns and the like. Nor am I one of those people who, having watched nuBSG, have gone back and said that Voyager should have been more like that.
I write all that just so people know where I'm coming from. I like Voyager, and while I will take it to task for dropped plot lines and not taking advantage of their unique position of being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, that was never why I watched it. I had no problem then and I have no problem now with the fact that the show restored the status quo most episodes and was content more or less to be a series of stand-alone episodes. I do want to point out that I think the first two seasons did an admirable job of following up on plot threads like the Kazon, Seska, tensions between the Maquis and Starfleet, the desire to do whatever it takes to get home, relationships between various characters, etc.
All that said, on with the review.
Scorpion Parts 1 and 2
I can still remember what it was like watching Scorpion Part 1 all those years ago. I had been waiting for the Borg to show up forever. They finally did, and it was glorious.
Voyager did over use the Borg, but that shouldn’t take away from these two episodes. This was the Borg done right.
That opening scene of two Borg cubes being destroyed was a great teaser. Who the hell could defeat the Borg so easily? Later, the scene of the Borg armada bearing down on Voyager almost had me crapping my pants way back when. No way could Voyager survive that battle.
One of the best scenes though was when Chakotay, Tuvok, and Kim beamed over to the Borg cube. The cube is claustrophobic, dark, and feels like a haunted house. The giant pile of Borg bodies was creepy. It was a well directed, well acted scene.
I think these episodes were what some Voyager fans were waiting for. Here was Janeway ready to throw out the Prime Directive to get her crew home. She was willing to insert herself into a war and aid an enemy responsible for killing and assimilating billions just so she didn’t have to face the prospect of failing to get the crew back to the Alpha Quadrant. It makes me think about the Equinox episodes where Ransom asks Janeway if she ever broke the Prime Directive and she told him she bent it every now and then. Oh, honey, you definitely broke it in these episodes.
The scenes between Janeway and Chakotay were powerful. Both officers had valid points. Janeway knew that an alliance with the Borg would be dangerous but that it could also mean big rewards. Chakotay was right that the Borg would turn out to be a scorpion and revert to their natures. Which they did. They tried to temporarily put Janeway and Tuvok into the Collective and then they tried to take control of Voyager later on.
I do think the two resolved their differences a little too easily. Chakotay did disobey direct orders from the captain and harsh words were exchanged yet they were buddy buddy again at the end of the episode.
It also felt like a cheat to have the Doctor explain how precarious Janeway’s situation was only to have her magically healed in time for the final act. The same goes for Harry. I was glad he survived and I know they set up the treatment in part 1 but it did feel like he was cured awfully fast.
Species 8472 were interesting. I appreciated that they were truly alien in design, even if the CGI doesn’t hold up all that well now. Voyager did try and give a unique look to the species and make them memorable so I give them props for that.
I like Species 8472 but they are pretty one note in these episodes. They want to cleanse the universe because the Borg started the war by invading and defiling their fluidic space. IIRC, later episodes would flesh them out a bit more.
At the time these episodes originally aired I was truly scared that they were going to kill off Harry. I mean, he was literally being eaten alive. I think I would have been traumatized if they had gotten rid of him. Harry was my favorite character at the time.
Jeri Ryan makes for an intimidating Borg drone. Adding Seven of Nine to the show was a brilliant move by the executives. Sex appeal was obviously a factor but she was also an intriguing character that gave the show a needed boost.
These episodes featured some great action sequences as Voyager goes up against the bio-ships and we see plenty of Borg vs. Species 8472 action.
These episodes do hold up rather well all these years later. The stakes are high and feel earned. The Borg are presented as a major threat that Voyager can’t take on without some kind of edge. Janeway definitely takes a morally grey stance here that is at odds with Federation and Starfleet ideals. The conflict between her and Chakotay is tense and well earned. It isn’t drama just for drama. It comes from the characters and who they are.