|In Short:||Seven long seasons of lost in space shenanigans, and then one of the most disappointing series finales of all time.|
|Recommended?||Kind of… (and the finale: Die first!)|
|JANEWAY||Am I the only one so intent on getting home? Is it just me? Am I leading the crew on a forlorn mission with no real hope of success?|
|-- “The 37's” (02.01)|
That whining sound you may have heard back in May of 2001 (what, you don’t remember?) was millions of sci-fi nerds, outraged over the astoundingly unsatisfying series finale of Star Trek: Voyager.
Fans who waited seven years for the unfortunate crew to finally get home after being stranded in the Delta Quadrant -- far from friendly Starfleet ports and all that green Saurian brandy -- were completely justified in throwing up their hands and muttering: "That's it?!"
Oh sure, the producers may’ve thought they'd satisfied the yearning for closure by kicking off the two-hour finale episode, “Endgame,” with a shot of Voyager flying into 24th century San Francisco (a shot that looks like it was cobbled together from Star Trek IV outtakes). But the moment carries with it no drama -- there's no build-up. We don't know what happened to bring about the crew's return, and we're deprived of seeing the look on the crew's faces as they soar over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Turns out that moment doesn't even take place in the future world of Voyager -- it takes place 16 years after that; the future of the future. And it doesn't last long. Soon, we've jumped ahead another ten years to see what the crew will look like when they're old and fat. It's the same gimmick that was used in the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation and I don't know why the producers felt the need to use it again. At least The Doctor (Robert Picardo) appeared to have held out against the ravages of time, even if his dry wit had mellowed more than a little.
But we quickly find out that the future we're seeing isn't really the future. It's an alternate timeline in which it took the crew 23 years to get home. It seems the elderly Kathryn Janeway, now a Starfleet Admiral, is finally regretting not taking all those opportunities she had over the years to get the crew home sooner. At the start of the episode, she's secretly plotting to go back in time and help bring the crew home after seven years in space (which, conveniently enough, is how long the show's been on the air). But if she has regrets, and she has the ability to travel back in time, why doesn't she just stop the crew from getting lost in the first place? (Ah, yes, the good old Voyager complaint: why is Janeway so randomly stupid?)
In the meantime, there are lots of very clumsy transitions between this "future" timeline of the older Janeway and the timeline of Voyager's 24th century "present". For the first hour, the episode jumps back and forth in time with little cohesion and zero cleverness. (Again, I know, a familiar Voyager complaint.)
When the older Janeway finally gets back to the "present" Voyager, things do pick-up. The scenes between the older and younger versions of the Captain are kind of fun. It's definitely a Kate Mulgrew episode -- the other members of the crew don't get much to do. Yes, we see Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) and B’Elanna Torres (Roxanne Dawson) having themselves a baby, Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) having actually gotten a damn promotion, in the future timeline (though he quickly loses it again), and Tuvok (Tim Russ) letting loose with a little non-Vulcany emotion, brought about by his attack of what is most likely Bendii Syndrome (which also ailed our old Trek pal, Ambassador Sarek). Oh, and a romance between busty Borg beauty Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and First Officer Chakotay (Robert Beltran) is thrown in, but the pair do not have an ounce of chemistry. It's a sad substitute for the relationship everyone wanted to see for seven full seasons: Chakotay and Janeway.
Things get better in the second hour when the Borg Queen returns. Thankfully, the role is played by the actress who created it in Star Trek: First Contact, Alice Krige. Susanna Thompson had heretofore fulfilled Voyager’s Borg Queen needs, but only Krige really looks and sounds at home in the character's slimy skin.
We get some good scenes between the older Janeway and the Queen in “Endgame” -- which is astonishing in and of itself, considering how successfully Voyager demystified the once terrifying Borg in its seven seasons -- but it all leads up to a last act that lacks any suspense or closure whatsoever. Want to know if charges will be brought against the beloved crewmembers that started out as rebel Maquis soldiers? Want to know how the rest of Starfleet will react to a Borg officer on *Voyager? Want to know what Janeway's reaction will be when she finally sets foot on Earth again? None of those pressing questions are answered in this massively disappointing finale that seems to defiantly avoid delivering what the loyal fans wanted and craved. (And still want and crave.)
*Star Trek: Voyager started with a bang and went out with the ghost of a whimper, and after 172 episodes spent willing those poor lost souls back to Federation Space, it is not unreasonable to ask why we all stuck with it for so long if this was all that was waiting at the end of a frustrating and, ultimately, just really annoying voyage home.
-- Jason M. Rothman