Star Trek Voyager - A Thread for Fans

Adam Lenhardt

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Just watched "Resistance". It wasn't my favorite episode.

The technologically advanced police state was a darker turn than I usually associate with Star Trek, and I liked that the inciting incident of the episode was a resources issue; Voyager needed something that would have been easy to get in the Federation, but was much more difficult to get in this remote, foreign, hostile section of space.

But the rest of the episode didn't quite work for me, built as it was to showcase the particular talents of the great Joel Grey in a tragic, Don Quixote-esque role. The case of mistaken identity felt very "TV", and the particulars of the situation on the ground didn't feel especially fleshed out. It seemed like they were setting Darod up to be a double agent secretly working for the bad guys, but then that just sort of petered out. Likewise, it wasn't well-established why the same guy who was in charge of interplanetary negotiations was also the lead interrogator and responsible for the day-to-day operations of a local prison.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Last night I watched "Prototype", which was a somewhat interesting change of pace from the normal episodes, but ultimately really derivative of a lot of artificial intelligence stories told previously, with out anything new to add. I did laugh at how analog the display from the android's point of view was.

Today I've watched the following so far:
  • "Alliances": I really liked the premise of this episode, that one Federation vessel in a distant and hostile corner of space, outmanned and outgunned, might have to engage in some less than savory deal making in order to survive. The twist with their new allies trying to murder all of the Kazon leaders felt right. But the ending, in which Janeway reaffirms the principles of Starfleet and the Federation felt like a cop out. When the episode began, Voyager was days away from being destroyed. By the end of the episode, Voyager has even more enemies than it did before. And yet the imminent, existential threat doesn't reappear and isn't mentioned again.

  • "Meld": When Brad Dourif popped up in what was essentially a featured background player role, I knew more was going to be done with the character. The idea of a sociopath originating from Betazoid, perhaps the most empathetic of species, was interesting. The idea that what the Marquis would tolerate in crewmembers being very different than what Starfleet would tolerate in crewmembers was also interesting. The plot with Tuvok didn't really work for me, though. I didn't believe any Vulcan would support capital punishment, and his depiction when his emotion supression was turned off basically revealed him as a smug, superior, egotistic asshole.

  • "Dreadnought": This was my favorite of the four episodes, though it's increasingly stretching credibility how much alpha quadrant technology Voyager is coming across in the Delta Quadrant. I liked that the conflict driving the episode was essentially between present B'Elanna Torres (Starfleet chief engineer) and past B'Elanna Torres (bloodthirsty Marquis resistance fighter). I also liked that, unlike "Alliances", Janeway upholding Federation values came with significant consequences: the potential cost of her own life, and with it the stranding of her crew on an alien planet 70,000 light years from home. I also liked that Voyager's selflessness allowed them to make an actual ally.
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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My evening watches:
  • "Death Wish": I loved this episode. It dealt with a lot of heavy philosophical questions more recently explored by "The Good Place", and reached rather similar conclusions. Gerrit Graham was wonderful as the suicidal Q, in a performance that reminded me a lot of Henry Travers's performance as Clarence in "It's a Wonderful Life". He was a marked contrast to the John de Lancie Q in behavior and temperament. I appreciated the complex moral question at the center of the episode, and I liked how the Graham Q's stance took the de Lancie Q on a real journey so that he finished the episode in a different place from where he started -- not easy to do with a nearly omnipotent being. The Riker cameo seemed gratuitous, but what the hell. I also appreciated that siding with the Q Continuum would gotten Voyager home instantaneously, but Janeway took her duty seriously enough to render an impartial verdict anyway. The only part I didn't like was the de Lancie Q's sexual predations toward Janeway. It felt very Harvey Weinstein.

  • "Lifesigns": This was an interesting episode because it really jumpstarted the evolution of the Doctor from a piece of software in the ship's computer to being a more fully realized being, similar to the journey that Data went on through the seven seasons of TNG. I have to admit, when the rescued Vidiian doctor was discussing life back on her homeworld, it sounded eerily similar to the current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, inclusive of social distancing.

  • "Investigations": The ongoing subplot of Tom Paris's escalating episodes of disobedience culminated in this episode with the reveal that it was actually part of a long-term plan to flush out the mole on Voyager. It's notable because it's one of the show's first attempts at serialized storytelling over multiple episodes. Rudimentary and predictable by today's standards, it was still further than TNG would usually go. The most interesting part of the episode for me was that Neelix killed a guy to save the ship, and didn't seem the slightest bit bothered by it. Despite his sunny and upbeat disposition, previous episodes have made it pretty clear that he lived a pretty unsavory and unscrupulous life before joining the crew of Voyager. After this episode, I wondered how many other lives he'd taken previously.

  • "Deadlock": This was an interesting episode in a number of ways. We've had other episodes with multiple iterations of the same starship, but the circumstances here were unique: Much like the Trolley problem, some must die for the rest to live. Not only is it the first time I can recall a starship self-destruct not being cancelled, but the ultimate solution results in the far more damaged Voyager being the one that survives. And then there's the fact that "our" Harry Kim suffered a cold death in space, and the guy who carries through the rest of the series is the copy from the second Voyager; likewise with Ensign Wildman's baby. Speaking of Ensign Wildman's bady: She's sort of like Virginia Dare, the first Federation child to be born in the Delta Quadrant.
On tap for tomorrow: "The Thaw", "Resolutions", "Basics, Part I", "Basics, Part II"
 
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Sam Favate

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I watched the first 2 episodes of season 5 deep space nine.
Now we're talking!

BTW, Adam, I confess that Voyager never really worked for me. It had moments, but overall, I could never get behind the series the way I have the others. That said, you mentioned a couple that I really did like: Prototype and Dreadnaught. I also always kinda liked The Thaw, because Michael McKean is terrific, although I know many don't care for that one. I found The Thaw reminded me of an episode of the original series, which is high praise in my book.
 

Jason_V

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On tap for tomorrow: "The Thaw", "Resolutions", "Basics, Part I", "Basics, Part II"
I know a lot of folks like "The Thaw"...I like the overall message and it's a fairly smart-looking production, but it's never been a favorite of mine. "Resolutions," on the other hand, I've always liked for various reasons. And the "Basics" two-parter? Yeah, aside from "Scorpion," it's my favorite Voyager season ending cliffhanger. It's fun, it shows vulnerability and it gives the entire cast something to do.
 

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Not being any kind of an expert, I do not know the name of the episode, but my favourite Voyager bar none, and one of my favourites of all Star Trek episodes is where the Holodeck takes them to the 1930’s sci-fi serial a la Buck Rogers. I find it hilarious, especially when the captain joins in as a queen of the universe.
 
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Nelson Au

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I started last night to convert the Voyager DVDs to MKV files for easy quick streaming. :) it will be a while before I get that done.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Today's episodes from quarantine:
  • "The Thaw" - I had mixed feelings about this one. The scenario of the construct within the stasis cambers was genuinely nightmarish, and Michael McKean was suitably menacing as the villain. But having Janeway literally defeat fear itself felt a little on the nose for me.

  • "Resolutions" - This was an interesting one, exploring the possibilities (and limitations) of the relationship between Janeway and Chakotay. It took place over a much longer period of time than most episodes, and represented a pretty significant setback for Voyager in terms of lost time. The inciting event -- Janeway and Chakotay contracting a virus that would kill them unless they stayed on one planet -- felt pretty gimmicky, but the payoff was satisfying. It was an especially good Tuvok episode, forcing him to confront a challenge unique to Vulcans as captain: While he might be able to proceed based on the most logical course of action, he led of a ship full of emotional beings, and seeing to their emotional well-being was a crucial part of being an effective leader.

  • "Basics" (two parter) - This was a really interesting one, and probably the show's biggest deviation from Gene Roddenberry's ethos on the show up to this point. We begin the story thinking that it was going to be about the rehabilitation of Lon Suder, Voyager's resident serial killer. But ultimately, it is the serial killer and not the horticulturalist within him who is needed to save the day. It was also fun to see Neelix's species make an appearance and help save Voyager. The odds were sufficiently against Paris, Suder, and the Doctor and yet their triumph over the Kazon felt earned.

  • "Flashback" - Of all of the TNG-era episodes to cross over with the TOS era, this was probably my least favorite to date -- not the least because it wasn't really a crossover. That being said, the way it weaved in and out of some of the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was interesting. They did a really good job of recreating the Bridge set of the USS Excelsior, and a heroic job of reassembling the cast members from those scenes. That being said, five years had passed between the shooting of that movie and the shooting of this episode, and it shows -- in particular with George Takei and Grace Lee Whitney. It was also interesting having the analog visual effects from the 1991 film integrated into a show whose visual effects are almost entirely digital. My favorite part of the episode was getting to see how Sulu had grown into the role of captain without it needing to be in service of Kirk's story, as it was in the film.

  • "The Chute" - This was honestly my favorite of the episodes I watched today. It's a great exploration of the friendship between Paris and Kim, and it reveals some less than flattering qualities about the Federation's stances on non-involvement. The episode starts strong, throwing us into the story without any background or context. Paris, the ex-convict, helps Kim adapt to life inside the prison. On the other hand, Paris has been trapped there longer than Kim has, and so the cranial implant takes its toll on him sooner than Kim. The script does a great job transitioning the dynamic between the two men, from Paris protecting Kim at the beginning to Kim protecting Paris by the end. A lot of times, this show tends to sanitize the scenarios versus their real world counterparts, but this episode does a good job of making the prison feel gritty and dangerous. There isn't any prison rape, but it's clear the murder within the prison is commonplace, and actively encouraged by the wardens. Meanwhile, aboard Voyager, Janeway comes across increasing evidence of the deep failings of the Akritirians and the strong likelihood that many of the people incarcerated by that system are innocent of the crimes they were convicted of. In response to that realization, Janeway does -- nothing. She gets her own people out, and she leaves everybody else to their (potentially unjust) suffering. That is what the edicts of the Federation would require, and yet it seems particularly inhumane to ignore the suffering of those in the same position as her crew members. She acts superior to both the Akritirian ambassador and Vel and Piri, but she has nothing to offer them other than her judgment and scorn. While the latter two were clearly mass murders, and terrorists by the very definition of the word, they were unquestionably fighting back against an unjust system. Considering that Paris and Kim were days -- maybe hours -- away from being reduced to acting like savage animals, the crew of Voyager aren't in any position to judge the decisions of those who have to endure in this system.
 
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Nelson Au

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Hey Adam, I’d been away from the Coronavirus thread as the news had been so bad, so I didn’t know you were sick. I really hope you and your Mom did not get the virus and you are on the way to a full recovery.

Glad to see your postings on the episodes you’ve been watching.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Today's episodes from quarantine:
  • "Remember": This was an episode that kind of just slips the knife in; you think you're watching an episode about Torres living this romance vicariously through this other person's memories, but you're actually watching an episode about Holocaust denial, as the love story Torres is experiencing quickly descends into genocide. That part was actually the least effective part of the episode for me; Hitler was appointed chancellor in 1933, but the Holocaust didn't begin in earnest until 1942. In between, there were a series of escalating atrocities against the Jewish people and other undesirables that laid the groundwork. Given the flashback structure, this story should have played out over several years instead of several weeks, and we should have seen the POV character become gradually corrupted by her father's hateful ideology. On the other hand, the present day scenes, where we see just how successful the Enarans were at erasing all evidence and memory of the extermination that had been committed, were positively chilling -- as were the performances of Bruce Davidson and Eugene Roche as the Enaran patriarchs, mass murderers under the guise of calm, seemingly reasonable men. The resolution at the end was also interesting: Janeway again refuses to interfere despite credible knowledge about a deplorable situation, but Torres finds a way to given Enarans the tools to grapple with and learn from their past.

  • "Future's End" (two-parter): I'm not the biggest fan of time travel stories when it comes to Star Trek, and having one set on Earth is even less of a natural fit when it comes to "Voyager", but I rather enjoyed this one. Sarah Silverman, coming off a brief run on "SNL" but not yet a hugely famous stand-up comedian, has one of the better one-story-and-done guest roles, as the astronomer at the Griffith Observatory who is the one person on Earth to detect Voyager in orbit. She had real chemistry with Robert Duncan McNeill, and I liked how their mutual attraction was as much intellectual as it was anything else. Paris obviously has the advantage of a few centuries of additional knowledge, but they're kind of cut from the same cloth. He's impressed by what she's able to figure out based on very limited technology and information, and despite his mandate not to alter the timeline, you can tell how much he wants to further her understanding. Ed Begley, Jr. was an effective villain as Henry Starling, a twentieth century man who nevertheless has an advantage over Voyager in both knowledge and technology. The one thing I was less sold on was the idea that the computer revolution of the twentieth century was all based on technology reverse engineered from the 29th century time ship. Both because it undermines the achievements of human ingenuity that underpin Star Trek, by reducing decades of technological innovation to a grandfather paradox, and because Chronowerx Industries obviously isn't a real company -- much less one that is IBM, Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle all rolled into one. I can only assume that the 29th century tech gave him a little lead time that allowed him to beat out his competitors on advances that were coming anyway, and then once the shuttle was destroyed, the timeline reset and the events of the episode didn't happen for anybody except those on Voyager. The fascinating thing about the episode being set in 1996 Los Angeles, essentially present day at the time the episode was filmed, is that it now really feels like a period piece: the clothes, the music, the attitudes all feel very specific to that time and place. The other upside about setting the episode in the time and place where your show normally films is that it saved money that could then be deployed for greater than usual levels of spectacle. There are a few genuinely exciting set pieces in this two-parter. I loved the mockery of the redneck militia in the Arizona desert. In terms of overall importance, the two-parter's main contribution was introducing the holo-emitter so that the Doctor is no longer confined to Sickbay and the holodeck.

  • "Blood Fever": I didn't love this one. I'm not a big fan of pon farr stories in general, and as a whole I don't think Star Trek is great at exploring sexuality. This episode had some interesting observations about informed consent, with Paris not wanting to take advantage of Torres while she wasn't in her right mind, but I feel like the episode wanted to have its cake and eat it too: Make Tom Paris seem like a great guy by turning her down, but then ultimately creating a situation where his participation in sex with her became necessary. I was glad they switched to ritual combat at the last minute. The most worthwhile part of this episode was the reveal that the invading force that had forced the planet's natives to adopt extreme camouflage as a means of survival were the Borg, basically announcing that this show was entering a new phase of the Voyager's journey. I know it was controversial to feature the Borg so prominently on "Voyager", because each new confrontation where the good guys survive makes the Borg less scary as an enemy. But it just seems so organic to what we knew about the Borg previously: That their spread was vast, and their point of origin was very far away. Given those facts, it only makes sense that Voyager would have to pass through Borg space to make it back to the alpha quadrant.

  • "Unity": I liked this episode as as sort of unconventional Borg story, where the locals are neither entirely good nor entirely bad. It all works out in the end, but in a rather foreboding manner. I liked Lori Hallier's performance as Riley Frazier, as the character had to be both intimate and enigmatic. The idea of an abandoned Borg cube would later feature prominently in the first season of "Picard".
Hey Adam, I’d been away from the Coronavirus thread as the news had been so bad, so I didn’t know you were sick. I really hope you and your Mom did not get the virus and you are on the way to a full recovery.

Glad to see your postings on the episodes you’ve been watching.
Being so sick is why I've had so much time for "Voyager"! :) There's something comforting about watching competent professionals respond ably to challenges under often extreme adversity.
 

The Obsolete Man

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Future's End...

There was thought given to making Sarah Silverman a regular.

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/see_who_almost_became_a_r

That likely would've put a damper on Seven of Nine coming aboard in season 4, because Trek shows of the era weren't the type to have that many women in the cast, as evidenced by TNG nearly getting rid of Marina Sirtis because Roddenberry thought there were too many broads in the show until Denise Crosby bugged out and saved Troi.

https://www.avclub.com/marina-sirtis-on-whipping-faye-dunaway-and-almost-being-1820994990
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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Today's episodes from quarantine:
  • "Rise": I've always been fascinated by the idea of space elevators, so I enjoyed this episode for that reason. It was also an important episode in terms of developing the relationship between Tuvok and Neelix, who are an enjoyable odd couple whose strengths are so different. Otherwise, not a whole lot to say about this one.

  • "Before and After": This was interesting as a very unconventional time travel story, with no actual physical time travel but rather two timelines flowing opposite each other, and each new interaction rewriting what had come before it. I was reminded a bit of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five but it was more linear than that; a closer example would be the Doctor's relationship with River Song on "Doctor Who", where their interactions flowed roughly opposite from each other. I thought Jennifer Lien was particularly impressive here, since she's essentially playing a new character with Kes's general essence who is "born" as Kes nears death, and accumulates knowledge and experience as she moves backward through time. There's a real arc to the character, and you see her grow with each new time period. The only disappointment with cutting to the preteen actress playing Kes in childhood before the arrival of Voyager is that some of the continuity and evolution of that development is lost. Presumably, the severely condensed lifespan of the Ocampa and the rapid maturation in the first year of life aided in her quickly getting a handle on her situation; it is probable that someone from a long-lived species wouldn't have been able to adapt so quickly. I liked the actress playing Kes's half-human/half-Ocampa daughter, but the idea of Tom Paris knocking up someone who is less than ten years old, and then Harry Kim knocking up her daughter who is younger still really icked me out. The non-linear storyline was a fun way for the show to "preview coming attractions", by both foreshadowing the arrival of Krenim during Voyager's year of hell and providing the foreknowledge necessary to avoid the most horrific outcome.

  • "Distant Origin": I appreciated the ambition behind this episode, and the show's avoid introducing any of our regular characters until fairly late in the episode. The Voth are very similar to the Silurians from Doctor Who, reptilians who were the first species to achieve sentience on Earth, long before humans evolved. But while the Silurians put themselves into stasis below ground to ride out the cataclysmic event that wiped out the dinosaurs, the Voth escaped to the stars. That intriguing premise is used to tell the story of essentially a reptilian Galileo being tried by a reptilian Pope Urban VIII. As with Galileo, Gegen loses his trial. But also as with Galileo, the seeds are planted for Gegen to ultimately triumph in the annals of history, even if it doesn't happen during his lifetime.

  • "Worst Case Scenario": This episode would have played better if it had been made earlier in the show's run. By this point, late in the third season, the relationship between Janeway and Chakotay has been established to such an extent that the fake out of the cold open doesn't work at all. We know that what we're seeing isn't real, because it's too out of character for Chakotay. Once the ruse is revealed, however, the episode has a lot of fun with the meta commentary. It also allows the show to go to the Seska well one more time, despite the character having been killed off.

  • "Scorpion" (two-parter): This was an important story in the larger journey of Voyager, because it was really the first full-on exposure to the Borg. We had one dead Borg in one episode, and a bunch of former Borg in another episode, but this is the first time we see them full on as they are. It's also a major turning point for Janeway, who up until this point has been a pretty by-the-book Starfleet captain. Her alliance with the Borg felt like the first time where she was really grappling with the fact that Voyager is in an unprecedented situation and may need to respond in unprecedented ways. It ends up being Chakotay, the former rebel leader, who takes the more risk-adverse position. The conflict between the captain and her first officer, who are normally so in sync, is one of the more compelling factors in this two-parter. And by the end, they stay the course with Janeway's plan, while incorporating safeguards to address Chakotay's concerns that end up being crucial to Voyager's success. It was also the introduction of Seven of Nine, who would be a crucial character for the back half of the show. She filled a void in the Star Trek formula: The original series had Spock, the half-Vulcan and half-human, and TNG had Data, the android who yearned to be more human. Voyager had two characters who would seem at first glance to be analogs to those characters: Tuvok and the Doctor. But Tuvok, as a full Vulcan, was too limited by his species to go on that journey. And the Doctor, pretty much right out of the gate, was already too human to go on that journey. Seven of Nine, as the human who had spent the majority of her life within the Borg collective, was a much better candidate to tell those kind of stories. The introduction of Borg technology to Voyager is also a welcome introduction of the idea that Voyager itself may be altered and transformed for the better by its unconventional journey, and as a result have scientific and technological advancements to offer once it returns to the alpha quadrant. I have mixed feelings about Species 8472; on one hand, the decision to explore the Borg in greater depth made them inherently less mysterious and less of an elemental threat, so the introduction of Species 8472 provided a means to fill that role. And I'm always excited when Star Trek has non-humanoid aliens that don't look like humans with funny ears or funny foreheads. On the other hand, they feel like pretty standard issue horror movie aliens. That the Borg initiated the confrontation is a worthwhile complication, but it doesn't change the fact that Species 8472 is pretty one note, bent on the destruction of all other life.

  • "The Gift": The cliffhanger between seasons for the "Scorpion" two-parter seemed to be setting up Harry Kim to be the character written out. But as this episode makes clear, the show was actually swapping out one pretty young blonde woman for another pretty young blonde woman. The episode both establishes the Seven of Nine character arc and concludes Kes's character arc. As far as character exits go, this is a pretty satisfying one. Over the course of the hour, she rapidly moves past the abilities and understanding of the others aboard Voyager and ultimately transcends her physical form to become a being of pure energy. Given that the Ocampa were presented as having this sort of mayfly existence. That Kes ultimately is destined for a higher level existence than any of her longer-lived compatriots feels like a sort of karmic balance. Jennifer Lien gives another really great performance. The ultimate reveal of Seven of Nine after the Doctor is finished removed her Borg accoutrements in a skintight jumpsuit makes clear one of the showrunners' primary goals with the character: to win back the tits and ass component of the Star Trek fanbase. That exploitative element doesn't change the fact that Seven of Nine is an interesting character. My favorite part of the episode was that Kes's parting gift as she ascended to a higher form of existence was sending Voyager 10,000 light years closer to the alpha quadrant, and out of the heart of Borg space. I was getting sick of Voyager having opportunity after opportunity to make it back home, only to end up back where they started the episode. Having these incremental jumps to that shorten their journey in meaningful but insufficient ways is a much more satisfying approach.
Future's End...

There was thought given to making Sarah Silverman a regular.
I don't know that I would have wanted her as a series regular (and I'm not sure the notoriously commitment-phobic Silverman would have agreed to be one), but I was kind of hoping they'd beam her character aboard briefly so she could see Earth from space and get a glimpse of humanity's progress before they returned to the 24th century.
 
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KPmusmag

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I have to say "Rise" is one of my favorite episodes; seeing Neelix prevail is very touching to me, in the same way that seeing Eliza succeed and realize that she has worth in "My Fair Lady" touches me. I really love the characters in Voyager and this episode gives Tuvok a reason to hold Neelix in some esteem and that makes it special to me.

Adam - I am very much appreciating your reviews of these episodes, it is reminding me of some of my favorites, and I appreciate your reactions and opinions. And on a personal note I sincerely hope you are feeling better.
 

bmasters9

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I agree that Mulgrew was very good. She looked more comfortable in the role in later seasons. I just wish the writers served her better. I still cringe at her "unexpected acts of kindness" speech.
First time posting on this thread-- that's what I don't understand about all the criticism of Kate Mulgrew's character Captain Kathryn Janeway; IIRC, she changed moods because the writers constantly had her changing moods (one time willing to abide the Prime Directive, the next not); like you, I wish the writers had written her actions much better than they did.
 
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