Okay, to be fair this was not meant to be the season finale, it just happened to fall to that position when, due to scheduling problems, four episodes were moved to season two. Still the result is the first season of Voyager just sort of stops. There is no build up to next year, no cliffhanger or anticipation; it just ends and goes away in a ridiculously anti-climatic way. Sad really. And not deserved.
I admit that when I started this little project I did not have high hopes. I fully expected to dislike (if not hate) this series and be filled with dread whenever I had to plod through an episode. And I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that I actually enjoyed the majority of episodes. Yes, there were some clunkers but I will say I found it remarkable how many episodes were thoughtful and entertaining. Some I even wanted to watch again. And even if an episode didn’t quite hit what it was trying to achieve it still was trying, and I appreciate that. Voyager season one succeeded much more than it failed. And even it’s failures were, for the most part, entertaining.
And then Learning Curve happened. This is an episode that doesn’t come anywhere near entertaining. It doesn’t even try. It just recycles an overused plot with overused stereotypes and just throws it at your TV screen like a giant pile of festering, virus infected cheese. I suppose if I could say anything nice it would be it is not physically painful to watch. So there’s that.
The plot goes like this: A group of undisciplined cadets have to perform some basic training under a hard-ass instructor who just doesn’t get that they’re different and a clash of personalities ensues. No one is willing to compromise until, inevitably, during a training exercise a danger situation happens. In the melee the cadets learn that the hard-ass instructor actually does know what he’s talking about and learn to respect him. The instructor likewise learns to loosen up and bend the rules, just a little. And in the end they are just a bit better off for the experience.
Does that sound familiar? It should because it has been done dozens of times in movies and TV. On various versions of Star Trek for that matter. This time around it is Tuvok as the hard-ass instructor and the cadets are maquis who just aren’t fitting in. Let’s see there’s the angry one, the quiet one, the fat one and the sassy girl. No other character traits are needed, just a pile of tropes doing exercises and complaining.
Now the danger situation? Cheese.
That’s right Neelix makes some cheese that becomes infected with a virus that only effects the ship’s biological gel-packs (oh, Voyager has biological circuits for future reference) and this causes ship-wide failures to multiple systems and needs to be cured by artificially inducing a simulated fever to Voyager. Let me say that again. They give the ship a fever to cure the ship’s sickness. A sickness caused by cheese.
And of course the hard-ass and the tropes are training at the epicenter of the fever at the time. It is all rather ridiculous.
To be fair had this episode run where it was supposed to in the schedule it would have been rearguard as just a blip on the radar and probably been forgotten or ignored. But it comes right after the rather good Jatrel and does serve as the de facto finale so it’s faults stand out. And it is remembered.
A shame to end a rather strong first season on such a sour note. Ah well, I guess that makes season two look promising in comparison. I mean how much worse could it get? Sky’s the limit from here.