Star Trek: Voyager, Season 3 Review
It says something about the low standing of Star Trek: Voyager that despite a number of seasons left to release, this release of Season 3 comes alongside the long-awaited release of the first season of The Original Series, leaving this overshadowed by the Kirk, Spock and company. What's disappointing about this is Paramount's lack of conviction in Voyager, as though it were simply something to tag along in the wake of a much better series, unable to stand on its own when, in reviewing this season, it contains some of Voyager's better episodes.
Indeed, this third season of Voyager is the one that sees the USS Voyager passing through Borg space and their meeting Species 8472, a race of beings with biomod/organic technology that is capable of destroying the Borg. This led to the story across the season four, in which the Borg and Voyager combine their technologies and strategies but which began here in the episode Scorpion, Part I - the finale of this season.
As with the previous two seasons of Voyager, the basic premise remains that of the crew of the USS Voyager struggling to make it back across seventy-thousand light years of space to the Alpha Quadrant. Whilst the usual conflict between the Federation crew and that of the Maquis ship that they once pursued across space remains in place, they find that closer co-operation is necessary, particularly as they open this season stranded on the desert planet Hanon IV and end it facing not only the Borg but also the more deadly Species 8472.
Descriptions of all twenty-six episodes in Season Three of Voyager are briefly described below:
Basics, Part II: With the crew of Voyager having been left stranded on Hanon IV, they must learn to defend themselves against attacks from the primitive people of the planet. With the crew being picked off on the edges of their camp and in the caves nearby, they set themselves the task of simply staying alive but when a volcano forces the people of Hanon IV and the crew of Voyager together, Chakotay rescues a native woman from the lava and the two groups form a bond of friendship and respect. Meanwhile, on Voyager, Seska finds that Chakotay is not the father of her child but elsewhere on the ship, the Doctor and Ensign Suder - the only two members of the federation left on Voyager - plot to regain control of the ship, assisted by Paris, who escaped Voyager on a shuttle before the Kazon took control.
Flashback: When Tuvok experiences disturbing memories of his time spent under Captain Sulu on the USS Excelsior, he knows that he must better understand his memories before they cause his death. Tuvok asks that Janeway mind-meld with him but he unwittingly passes the virus that was growing in his mind to his captain, leaving Kes and the doctor to cure both Tuvok and Janeway before it causes the death of both of them.
The Chute: On an away visit to an Akritirian prison ship, Paris and Kim are present when a trilithium-based bomb is set off and the Akritirians believe that both of the Federation officers are involved and are members of a terrorist group called Open Sky. The Akritirians convict both Paris and Kim and detain them in a cell at the end of a long chute, fitting a clamp on each of them that will slowly the convicts to kill one another. With Paris injured and protected by Kim, Janeway and the rest of the Voyager crew set out to prove their innocence by tracking down the actual members of Open Sky.
The Swarm: When Paris is injured aboard a shuttle by an unknown alien force, the doctor cannot remember the procedure needed to heal him, leading Torres to investigate why. As Paris' condition degrades, Torres finds that the doctor's memory circuits are being overloaded and that recent memories are overwriting existing ones. As alien forces surround Voyager, Torres is faced with two options - restore the doctor's original software, thereby erasing all of his memories, or take him to the holodeck for a virtual meeting with his creator, Dr Lewis Zimmerman.
False Profits: As they pass by a planet in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager find both replicators and that the planet's inhabitants originate from the Alpha Quadrant. On investigating the surrounding space, they find a wormhole that leads to the Alpha Quadrant but discover that the population of the planet are enslaved to two Ferengi.
Remember: When the Voyager crew pick up two telepathic aliens, Torres begins having dreams of a romance between her and Dathan, a member of a group that have rejected the means to communicate with one another without the use of speech. As Torres pieces together the history of the alien species, she learns of a people who are in conflict over the shared memories of their entire species.
Sacred Ground: As a small away team investigate a shrine on the home planet of the Nechani people, Kes in injured by a blast of energy but the local population of monks say that she is being punished for not believing. As Neelix delves deeper into the mystery, Janeway, who believes there was a scientific basis to the attack on Kes, undertakes a ceremony in the shrine to appeal to the spirits to forgive Kes.
Future's End: Originally shown in two parts, this sees the USS Voyager meeting a ship from the 29th century, whose captain, Braxton, tells Janeway that he knows her ship was responsible for a disaster many years later and that his ship, the Aeon, will destroy Voyager. As Janeway orders Voyager to attack, a rift in time opens and the Federation ships travels back to Eart in the 20th Century, leaving the crew unable to use their 24th Century technology and counting on the astronomer Rain Robinson to make it back to their own time.
Warlord: When Voyager discovers three aliens from the planet Illari adrift in space and injured, Kes and the doctor treat them but one of them, Tiernan, dies, transferring his spirit over to Kes and taking control of her body. As the crew of Voyager finds out, Tiernan was a political extremist and under his control, Kes takes a shuttle from Voyager and attempts to instigate a political coup on Illari.
The Q And The Grey: When Q arrives on Voyager, he asks that Janeway bear his child, saying that his loneliness is the reason for the request. When a female Q arrives to take Q back to the Continuum, he leaves with Janeway for the Continuum where she finds the baby is necessary for both stability and the continuation of the Q race.
Macrocosm: When an unknown lifeform attacks Voyager, the crew are quickly overwhelmed, leaving only Janeway to fight back against the being, one on one.
Fair Trade: When Neelix meets an old friend, he is conned into using shuttle craft from Voyager to transport drugs. When a drug dealer is murdered by this friend, Chakotay and Paris are thought to be involved and are arrested, leaving Neelix, who's burdened by guilt, to prove their innocence.
Coda: On a trip away from Voyager, Janeway's shuttle crash lands and she is attacked by an alien that attaches itself to her cerebral cortex, leading to her experiencing visions of her long-deceased father.
Alter Ego: Ensign Kim is confused by his feelings for a holodeck character that he created so he asks Tuvok to teach him how to contain his emotions. When Tuvok enters Kim's holodeck program, however, this character transfers her attentions to Tuvok leaving Kim feeling jealous but not before the true intentions of this character are revealed.
Blood Fever: During an away team visit to a colony that had been destroyed by an unknown force, Chakotay finds evidence of the Borg but his work is complicated by the onset of the Vulcan mating season that also spreads to the Klingons onboard Voyager.
Unity: Travelling further through the Delta Quadrant, the crew of Voyager finds further evidence of the Borg, including a disabled Borg ship with all of its crew seemingly dead. Meanwhile, in following up a distress call, Chakotay is attacked and seeks treatment with a small colony who were once Borg.
Darkling Darkling: When Voyager hosts a group of explorers with knowledge of the Delta Quadrant, Kes feels that she is ready to leave Voyager and begin a new life, leading to her requesting leave from the ship. Meanwhile, the doctor goes through several upgrades to his personality on the holodeck but this also imbues him with a cruel, unpredictable personality that makes occasional but increasingly frequent appearances.
Rise: When Voyager learns of a nearby planet that is soon to be bombarded by asteroids, Janeway sends Tuvok and Neelix on a rescue mission but they soon find that someone is working against the local population from the inside.
Favorite Son: When Ensign Kim takes Voyager to his home planet, where the story of his birth is told, the crew of Voyager find that he was called home to help sustain the species.
Ensign Kim instinctively leads the ship to the mysterious Taresian home world where a shocking story of his birth is told by members of the almost exclusively female population -- he's part alien -- and they want him for reproductive purposes.
Before And After: When Kes wakes seemingly at the end of her lifespan, her memory jumps between her birth and the present time, leaving her with both memories of things that she has experienced and things that she has not. What she remembers most, however, is an enemy that Voyager has not yet met but one that it will face in the future.
Real Life: When the crew of Voyager discovers an old, abandoned space station, they investigate what happened and find that anomalies in the area made it unstable but not before Paris' shuttle is pulled into one of the anomalies. Elsewhere, the doctor uses the holodeck to experiment with a family but in asking Torres to help, he struggles to cope until disaster strikes.
Distant Origin: After the Voth find the body of a Federation officer and experiment with its DNA, they grow to believe that their origins may have been on Earth and kidnap Chakotay to prove to their elders the link between them and humans.
Displaced: Almost unnoticed at the start, the crew of Voyager are being transferred with aliens from Nyria 3, leaving Janeway with a gentle crew who are easily confused by the computer systems on Voyager. Feeling increasingly alone, Janeway fights to keep both control of her ship and to get her crew back on the ship.
Worst Case Scenario: When a Holodeck novel is found that shows Chakotay and Seska leading a Maquis rebellion against Voyager, morale amongst the crew reaches the same low level that it was at in the first weeks that they spent together.
Scorpion, Part I: When Voyager passes into Borg space, an away team travels onto a Borg ship but find that all of the crew are dead before an alien threatens them and they transport off the cube. As Kim, the only crew member to be attacked by the alien, fights off a bio-organic infection, Voyager watches as one alien ship destroys two Borg cubes and only escapes destruction itself from being attached to a third, escaping cube with a tractor beam. Janeway realises that she may have to strike a deal with the Borg as they both fight this new enemy.
There's very little between the transfer of this Season 3 boxset and that of Season 2, which was reviewed earlier this year. Again, the DVD transfer retains the 'CC' imprint to indicate closed caption subtitles at the beginning of each episode and there's a slight lack of clarity to each of the episodes but, otherwise, the transfer is good, able to handle the rich colours of the Star Trek palette with ease and the source material is clean.
As with earlier boxsets, the English and German soundtracks have been remixed into a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack whilst others retain the original stereo soundtrack. There's little real advantage in having a surround soundtrack as the rear speakers are only used to add presence to the sound image but, in all cases, there's no noticeable audio noise.
With the template for the Voyager releases being set by with Seasons 1 and 2 boxsets, the Season 3 set offers exactly what a collector of the DVD releases would now expect, beginning with:
Braving The Unknown: Season Three (12m51s): The writers, producers and stars of Voyager appear in this bonus feature to talk the viewer through what they believe to be the highlights of the show's third season, including the episodes Real Life, Blood Fever, Future's End and Scorpion, the last of which featured the first time that the Borg appeared in Voyager at the same time as Species 8472.
Voyager Time Capsule: Neelix (11m47s): Ethan Phillips, whose character has never appeared to be one of the fan's favourites, is interviewed for this bonus feature and discusses Neelix's history, how the role developed and what he does away from the set. As well as there being a new interview, recorded for this DVD release, there is also an archived interview with Phillips to break up the sequence of clips from the show and this feature concludes with Phillips memories of his leaving Voyager in the episode Homestead.
Voyager Time Capsule: Kes (11m45s): As well as being interviewed for the Voyager Time Capsule extra on his own character, Ethan Phillips also appears here as does Jennifer Lien, who talks about her role as Kes and her major moments on the show, which, by playing a character who only lives to the age of eight, includes her leaving.
Creating The Voyager Crew (16m16s): In a a bonus feature that was not included on the Region 1 release of Voyager Season 3, series creator Michael Piller discusses each of the main characters on the show, beginning with Janeway, obviously, and closing with the Doctor.
Flashback To "Flashback" (13m19s): George Takei - Sulu from the original, sixties version of Star Trek - is interviewed for this bonus feature, given that his character made an appearance recreating scenes from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Star Trek: DS9 DVD Trailer (4m44s): With a mix of clips from the show and interviews with the cast and crew, this advert for the DVD releases of DS9 has been brought over from the Voyager Season 2 boxset.
Red Alert! Amazing Visual Effects (16m40s): Two members of the visual effects team - Dan Curry and Ronald Moore - talk through the effects that were utilised on Basics Part II, Future's End, Distant Origin, Macrocosm and Scorpion Part I.
Real Science With André Bormanis (10m25s) - Bormanis' role is to base the science in the show on something close to fact and, here, he talks about the use of phenomena like the supernova in The Q And The Grey and the wormhole in False Profits and gives a pocket-sized explanation of these events for the Voyager audience. Bormanis gives way to Neil Tyson and Sallie Baliunas, , two astrophysicists who shed further light on the science and the likelihood of aliens existing.
30th Anniversary Moments (8m14s): On 6 October 1996, during the shooting of this season of Voyager, a celebration to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Star Trek was held at Paramount Studios and this bonus feature includes selected interviews with Rick Berman, Kate Mulgrew, the late DeForest Kelley, real-life astronaut Buzz Aldrin, UKIP-enthusiast Joan Collins, Kristin Dunst, Marina Sirtis and, although I thought that as a star of Battlestar Galactica that she may not have been welcome, Jane Seymour.
Lost Transmissions: These short Easter eggs - almost all of them are less than three minutes long - are spread out amongst all of the bonus features menu screens and allow the cast the chance to talk about their best and worst moments of Season 3.
Photo Gallery: Forty images of the cast and crew and from behind the scenes are included in this extra.
Star Trek: TNG DVD Trailer (1m10s): As with the DS9 trailer, this has also been brought over from the Season 2 boxset - and, presumably, the Season 1 boxset - and is made up entirely of very short clips from the seven series of The Next Generation.
Borg Invasion 4-D (57s): Assuming that this is a theme park ride somewhere, scenes from the short film that accompanies it make up this trailer.
All of these extras are presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen and 2.0 Surround.
Well, it's a further season of Voyager from Paramount and although this has been overshadowed by the simultaneous release of the first boxset of The Original Series on DVD, this is still a good release. As this boxset moves towards its last few episodes, Voyager reaches its best period and although it remains a series best suited to the more casual fan, it's a great show for the occasional dip into as this run of shows prove.