Delta Redux: A Voyager Rewatch: Caretaker

By Last Updated: May 13, 2015Views: 2663

Welcome everyone to the first entry into the long journey of the Federation Starship Voyager. As I said in my introduction to this feature I will not be doing a synopsis of the episode and instead simply focus on my general thoughts and initial impressions upon watching.

And my initial thoughts on watching this episode are: I didn’t hate it.

That may not seem like high praise but I was actually dreading this project. Honestly I thought it was going to be a chore and it was going to be a long slog through the mercifully short 16 episode run of the first season before I finally threw my hands up and walked away in disgust. But, pleasantly surprised, I enjoyed this. To a certain extent mind you, but that is better than hating it, right?

“Gentleman, welcome aboard Voyager. Mister Kim, at ease before you sprain something.” – Captain Janeway

In all seriousness I truly did enjoy watching this episode. It did exactly what a pilot episode should do. It introduced the characters, giving each a broad brush, showing in quick beats what the general personality traits were of each but still leaving room for each to grow. It established the basic premise and set the course for future episodes while at the same time told a compelling and entertaining adventure story. Overall a success.

But not flawless. There were many cracks and quirks that could, if continued, become annoying and drag the series down. Tom Paris for instance looks as if he may bug the shit out of me if his character continues along the path set out for him. He’s the misunderstood hothead who just happens to be so good at what he does he gains the respect of his team and becomes an invaluable member of the crew. And who knows? He might just learn the meaning of friendship if he gives himself half a chance! Blah blah – bad boy – blah blah – daddy issues – blah blah – redemption. I really hope that is not his arc. I have doubts.

I guess that’s a good enough segue into talking about my overall impressions of the main cast.

Janeway. First impression: a female Picard. On one hand that’s fine. She is confident and in control, as a captain should be, maybe just a little preachy. It is a safe characterization for the first female captain. She seems to be a “by-the-book” type when what I really would like to see is a radical. A female version of Kirk – reckless rule breaker, wild and uninhibited. Or maybe not following any of the standard tropes at all and be something we’ve never seen before. Picard was a calm reaction to Kirk. Sisko was a world-weary reaction to Picard. Janeway is…remains to be seen.

Chakotay. Can he be more bland? Seriously, most boring terrorist ever. Also, I can’t figure out if his character is racist. I mean kudos to the creative team for wanting to add diversity, but what he seems like is what white people think Native Americans are rather than what Native Americans really are. Maybe he will develop as the series progresses.

Tuvok. He is sufficiently Vulcan. And I always like a good Vulcan. To be fair he is the best portrayal of a Vulcan since the Original Series. His logical-ness is played as aloof, not smug and condescending which is the default way most way to play a Vulcan. I do remember when a black man cast as a Vulcan caused a minor controversy. Seemed ridiculous at the time and even more so now. And no one batted an eye at a half-Latino Klingon.

B’Elanna Torres. She’s angry. Can’t you see she’s angry? My God she’s angry. How will she fit in with the crew being so angry? Did I mention she’s angry?

Harry Kim. The new Wesley Crusher. Hope he develops quick.

Neelix. Glimpses of interesting with massive potential that could devolve into annoying real fast. Great idea to have a “guide” along for the trip and the way he casually tricked Janeway into rescuing Kes was a nice touch. So yes, potential.

Kes. Not enough screen time to really tell where her character will go. I feel she might fill the Diana Troy role. By that I mean soft-spoken voice of reason rather than shrill bad actress.

The Doctor. Ah, the character with the most potential. From the moment he is activated he just exudes the fact that he will be so much fun he fills the Spock/Data/Odo role of the fish-out-of-water learning to be human trope but with biting humor and dry wit. I look forward to the Doctor.

Now the premise. As far as potential goes the premise of Voyager exceeds expectations. Two crews – one a rigid military outfit, the other rebellious and borderline terrorists – having to work together to cross a 70 year span of unknown space. At odds with each other while facing unknown danger and unknown races, this is conflict heaven, a storyteller’s dream. And being cut off from the rest of the Star Trek established universe and continuity should liberate the series to go in a variety of different directions and really use the scifi genre to explore ideas that are entertaining and inventive. Or they could all put on a Star Fleet uniform at the end and proclaim that nothing will be different at all. Sigh.

But optimism! I really did enjoy this episode despite all my snarkiness, much more than I thought I would. So that bodes well. Also I had intended to just write a couple of paragraphs and look I’m already several hundred words in. The bodes well as well. Perhaps this Voyager thing may work out after all.

One last observation before I go: Must every Star Trek pilot deal with a race or entity with Godlike powers?

The Cage – the original original pilot – dealt with a race with godlike powers who test human potential.

Where No Man Has Gone Before – the second original pilot – dealt with a human who gains godlike power and uses it to test human potential.

Encounter at Farpoint – the NextGen pilot – dealt with a godlike being who judges humanity and tests them (revealing their potential).

Emissary – the DS9 pilot – about godlike beings who have actually been worshiped as gods for generations that test a human who to see if they are worthy (potentially).

And now Caretaker. The Caretaker isn’t exactly godlike but acts in a godlike manner toward some human-like people to protect them. Actually holding back their potential. Well, I guess that shakes up the formula I suppose. A bit.

Next Time On Star Trek Voyager

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