Star Trek Voyager isn’t quite as beloved as Kirk’s original series, Picard’s successor show, or Sisko’s darker Deep Space Nine. But, we still adore it.
Bringing Star Trek‘s golden era to a close, it maintains a firm place in the canon, telling the story of the starship and its crew as they’re stranded in the Delta Quadrant and their long journey (75 years, at maximum warp) home. With the likes of Janeway, Seven of Nine, the EMH, and Tuvok it features an array of the best Star Trek characters ever created. The only real reason that it isn’t held in the same regard as its peers is due to its tendency to ditch its brilliant premise in favor of the typical franchise formula… and then there are the plot holes.
Especially in the early seasons of the show (probably the fourth or fifth best TV series in the franchise) fans have two long-term issues with the plot and how, exactly it makes sense. First of all, why does it take so long for the ship to exit the territory of the Kazon and Vidiians? The show spent endless episodes with these species as the antagonists, before finally moving on, which makes it seem like their space stretches on endlessly.
The other main complaint is that while Voyager’s limited supplies and resources did play a role in the plot early on in the show, by the time Seven of Nine joined the show it seemed as if its supplies were somehow no longer a concern: an almost entirely forgotten plot point, and one that had been integral to the premise of the Star Trek series.
Thankfully, we’ve uncovered a theory that retroactively fixes both plot holes at once. Posted to the DaystromInstitute subreddit (a page devoted to the most serious discussion of the franchise), a post titled ‘Voyager spent the first 2 years literally flying in circles, to gather supplies’ makes it all make sense.
Essentially, the theory goes that Janeway used the first two years after Voyager was stranded to explore and source supplies, rather than head directly back home. This involved sticking to Kazon and Vidiian space (either literally going around in circles or zig-zagging) in order to scavenge all they could to prepare them for the long, long journey ahead. It genuinely makes total sense: of course, a responsible Star Trek captain would want to prepare before embarking on a voyage into the unknown.
There are problems, though, primarily found in the dialogue. Countless times in the series, Janeway will mention ‘setting a course for home.’ In fact, at the conclusion of Voyager’s debut, a steely but optimistic Janeway says, “Mr Paris, set a course for home.” That contradicts this theory somewhat, but can still be explained with a bit of mental flexibility and contortion.
As the post itself explains: “Voyager’s circuitous route follows a more or less predetermined plan (probably drawn up by Neelix), and Janeway is simply saying, ‘Let’s get on with our plan.'” Again, it makes sense. She’s speaking in broad terms and keeping up morale.
So there we have it: silence your Voyager complaints, it all makes sense now! Ideally, of course, this would have been addressed in the show itself, but this is why the notoriously clever Star Trek fans are the best. Now, all Star Trek needs to do (probably within something like Lower Decks) is make it canon.
For more on Star Trek, read why Jonathan Frakes wants one episode of TNG banned and why the first Janeway actor quit, and learn about how Picard’s most morally challenging decision changed Star Trek forever.