crew of the starship Voyager
bid a fond farewell to their departing comrade, Kes. But they
soon have a replacement in the unexpected shape of Seven of
Nine, a former Borg drone. Captain Janeway is confident that
Seven can be trusted, but other crewmembers aren't so certain...
truly hit its stride with Season 4, thanks mostly to the arrival
of Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine. And I'm not just saying that
because I'm a bloke who likes seeing curvaceous women in skin-tight
outfits. Far from it: Seven's costume is the least successful
aspect of her character. It demeans her, and it also makes
the Doctor (Robert Picardo) seem like a pervert for designing
Ryan's main contribution to the series is not her revealing
costume (though more sex appeal was demanded by the United
Paramount Network) but her personality. This caustic character
is not a Starfleet crewmember, and she ruffles a fair few
of her crewmates' feathers during this season, finally bringing
to the show the kind of inter-personal conflict that we should
have had right from Season 1, when the Starfleet and Maquis
personnel were forced to work together.
presence on board the ship also provides plenty of excuses
for Borg action. I've always felt it a shame that the producers
of Deep Space Nine denied Sisko the chance to face
the Borg again, since he would have been strongly motivated
to avenge the death of his wife Jennifer during the battle
of Wolf 359. Instead, Voyager was given the monopoly
on the assimilators - and took full advantage of them. The
Borg make much better arch enemies than the dreary Kazon ever
did. As Seven herself observes in Mortal Coil: "Their
biological and technological distinctiveness was unremarkable."
the spectacular conclusion to the previous season's cliffhanger,
Scorpion, we enjoy further Borg encounters, both real
and illusory, in The Raven, One and the season
finale (which is not a cliffhanger this time) Hope and
Fear. The latter episode examines the consequences of
Captain Janeway's (Kate Mulgrew) deal with the Collective
in Scorpion, and really shows up her cavalier attitude
towards the Prime Directive.
However, it's not just the Borg who provide excitement. The
Romulans and an impressive new prototype starship, the USS
Prometheus, appear in Message in a Bottle. This
episode also features a new version of the Emergency Medical
Hologram. Beautifully played by Andy Dick, the prissy EMH-2
exchanges some hilarious banter with his less advanced but
more experienced predecessor, the Doctor.
two-part Year of Hell storyline is even more spectacular.
Indeed, this time-warping tale, in which the USS Voyager
takes its toughest pounding yet, was originally intended to
be the Season 3 finale, before the production team decided
to draft in the Borg instead.
no shortage of two-parters this year. It also includes The
Killing Game, in which the crew are forced to play deadly
war games with holographic Nazis and Klingons.
more thoughtful instalment is Mortal Coil, which is
one of those rare beasts, a good Neelix (Ethan Phillips) episode.
It's funny - most of the time I find Neelix to be an extremely
irritating character, but in this and the similarly gloomy
Jetrel, from Season 1, Phillips's acting is superb.
However, Seven of Nine's amazing ability to revive people
18 hours after death using her nanoprobes is quickly forgotten
by the writers of subsequent episodes! Perhaps the process
only works on certain species...
in the footsteps of the previous season's Distant Origin,
which depicted the crew's activities from an alien point of
view, Living Witness shows an amusingly inaccurate
reconstruction of Voyager's exploits by alien historians,
700 years after the event.
Despite the presence of fan-pleasing elements such as the
Borg, the Romulans and the Klingons, which some may regard
as backward-looking, this season also moves forward in a number
of ways. The ship is finally allowed to establish communication
with the Alpha Quadrant in Message in a Bottle, thanks
to an ancient alien device. In the next episode, Hunters,
the former Maquis crewmembers learn that their group is no
more, following events in the Deep Space Nine episode
Blaze of Glory.
show is propelled forward more literally in The Gift,
as the developing powers of the departing Kes (Jennifer Lien)
hurl the ship clear of Borg space and ten years closer to
home - which kind of makes up for all the time Janeway has
so far wasted making detours and exploring various spatial
phenomena! The use of the Dauntless's quantum slipstream
drive in Hope and Fear shaves another three years off
Lien gets a decent send-off in The Gift. However, the
impact of her departure on Neelix, who was after all her lover
for the first three seasons and some time before that, are
Nevertheless, the only truly weak episode in this box set
is Concerning Flight, a rather woeful effort whose
sole purpose is to showcase Janeway's friendship with the
holographic Leonardo Da Vinci (John Rhys-Davies).
special features on Disc 7 comprise the usual array of extras
(though they were not available for review), including featurettes
on Seven of Nine, Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) and Species 8472.
philosophical and technological distinctiveness of this season
is far from unremarkable, and so this box set is well worth
assimilating into your collective - er, I mean, your collection.
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