Last night I watched:
- "Someone to Watch Over Me": This episode is basically Voyager's retelling of Pygmalion, with the Doctor cast as Henry Higgins and Seven of Nine cast as Eliza Doolittle. It wasn't one of my favorites; as a general rule, I haven't enjoyed the romantic storylines on "Voyager". The one exception being Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, mainly because they're a little more human and a little less evolved than most of the characters, and after their initial infatuation, their relationship is most threaded in the background of episodes rather than a frequent primary focus. The episode has two saving graces: Robert Picardo's performance as the Doctor makes it play better than it has any right to, and the subplot with the Iyaaran ambassador basically embarking on Rumspringa (and Neelix trying, and failing, to keep him on the straight and narrow) was hilarious.
- "11:59": There was a lot I enjoyed about this episode: The contrasts between Janeway's recounting of events as remembered by the family through the generations and the actual events; Roy De Soto from "Emergency!" popping up as the recalcitrant bookstore owner and Janeway's other ancestor; that beautiful bookstore set; the glimpses we got of what Voyager's like during the quiet times between episodes; the boldness of telling an entirely domestic story inside a Star Trek show. My one issue with it is that telling a near-future story has its perils, primarily the fact that the episode will be dated quickly. Obviously, there was no massive self-sustaining civic environment completed in rural Indiana in 2012. There have been other things, particularly things predicted in the original series, that make it pretty clear that the Star Trek prime universe is set in an alternate timeline that likely diverged sometime around the late nineteenth century (with the birth of Edith Keeler) but closely paralleled our own through at least the early years of the twenty-first century. So it's not like they can't do things that didn't actually happen in real history. But when they do, it's a reminder that this isn't our future and it punctures my suspension of disbelief.
- "Relativity": This one of those time travel episodes that's pretty meh. The show has some Back to the Future: Part II-esque fun weaving in and out of previous episodes going all the way back to the pilot, but otherwise there's not much to it.
- "Equinox" (two-parter): The execution of this one wasn't perfect, but the idea behind the episode was strong: What if Voyager had made different choices? Complicating that question is the fact that the Equinox was an even smaller vessel, and much less suited to long-term travel in deep space -- and seems to have traveled a path through the Delta Quadrant that was even more hostile than the one Voyager had traversed. They didn't have luxury of some of the choices Voyager made. That in turn makes the reunion with Voyager its own moral test: Suddenly, they did have choices to make. But, shaped by their experiences in the Delta Quadrant, they made the wrong choices. The casting on this two-parter was strong, as well. John Savage was an interesting choice to play Captain Ransom. In the first half, serving as the fifth season finale, he was very much playing to type: the darker, more hardened parallel to Janeway. However, in the second half, serving as the sixth season premiere, he was very much playing against type: His character goes on a moral journey and ultimately re-embraces his morality even as it costs him his life. Titus Welliver, so good as Bosch, plays a first officer who shares many qualities with that character but has gone too far over the line. Commander Burke's refusal to re-embrace his morality ends up costing him his life. Rick Worthy, so great as Dean Fogg on "The Magicians", brings a certain gravitas to crewman Lessing. My main issue with this two-parter is that I didn't believe that Janeway would go to the extremes she went to. They clearly want to having contrasting paths, where Janeway goes dark as Ransom returns to the light, but it just didn't work. Voyager has faced much worse challenges before and Janeway remained far more level-headed. I also don't like that, after she pulls herself back from the brink and the situation is resolved, there's no lasting fallout. The actions Janeway took during this episode should have damaged her relationships with Chakotay and Tuvok, and repairing those relationships should have had to be earned.
- "Survival Instinct": I can't say I enjoyed this one as much as Bryan did, but it was definitely a very strong episode. I liked how actions from years earlier had lasting consequences. I liked how Seven of Nine did something unspeakable but for very sympathetic reasons. I liked that that problem didn't have a nice pat solution at the end; instead, Seven of Nine was forced to choose between two terrible outcomes and had to decide what the least bad outcome was. The casting for the other drones was strong; even though they only pop up for the one episode, you care about them by the end of the hour. It's one of that moral dilemmas that only exists because Seven of Nine has come far enough along her journey toward individuality to understand and appreciate it. "Survival is insufficient" is a huge milestone on her journey toward becoming human again. I also like the subplot with Naomi Wildman, who helps further Seven of Nine's understanding of what it means to have a chosen family. After this episode, I hope we catch up with Naomi at some point in the second season of "Picard", get to see how that relationship has evolved since Voyager returned to the Alpha Quadrant.