Sep 30, 2010

[TV] Star Trek Voyager: Season 3

Star Trek Voyager: Season 3When it comes to long-running TV shows, there are a lot of jokes, stereotypes and assumptions when it comes to how things progress. The first season tends to be full of promise although a tad undercooked. The second season suddenly expands in weird directions in an effort to make the characters more substantial. And so on.

The third season can be rather hit or miss for people. For example, Lost got so much better in its third season after nearly killing itself in the second season. For Star Trek: The Next Generation, many felt the show truly found itself by the time its third season came around. To some extent, perhaps the same can be said about this series as well.

The opinions for this show were terribly mixed. Some felt the show was a really bad concept and it was floundering around for its first two seasons. Others found the concept of being so far away from the comforts of the Federation rather exciting and new and thus felt it was more fulfilling. I think it really depends on what got you into the show in the first place to make a better assessment of things.

Coming off from a season dedicated to the Kazon as the big (and ugly) bad guys, the crew of the starship Voyager ventured into a variety of new vistas in the Delta Quadrant during this season and pretty much laid the grounds for a number of interesting plot threads that would carry on until the end of the series.

TuvokImage via WikipediaTuvokImage via WikipediaThis season brought to life a number of interesting episodes. One that comes to mind is "Flashback", which was really cool for showing us Hikaru Sulu (George Takei) as captain of the Excelsior and Tuvok (Tim Russ) as a young ensign. Yes, this was also a reminder about how long-lived Vulcans are. "Coda" was another striking episode given the intriguing concept of Janeway's (Kate Mulgrew) repeated deaths and the guilty pleasure of watching Janeway's repeated deaths. And yes, I also appreciated "Before and After" given the interesting concept of the backwards time jumps and the efforts of the episode to give Kes (Jennifer Lien) more meaning and slightly better (or at least more interesting) hair. Come to think of it, this was also the season of evolving hairstyles...

But the season also had a significant abundance of rather bad episodes, too. I have no idea what point there was to the buddy drama of "The Chute" for Kim (Garrett Wang) and Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill). "Sacred Ground" was very hit or miss too given the obvious juxtaposition of Janeway's scientific mind versus her ability to just have faith. And I don't think we really needed the madness that was "Darkling" beyond the slight fun in having the Doctor (Robert Picardo) try to stretch his acting legs a bit more.

Plus the season had its fair share of tropes like finding a way to drag Ferengi into the Delta Quadrant (False Profits), a Q-centric episode (The Q and the Grey), the planet full of women trope (Favorite Son) and a contemporary time travel episode (Future's End - Parts 1 and 2).

The season was really built around the goal of later establishing their entry into Borg territory as evidenced by Neelix (Ethan Phillips) not having expert advice anymore (Fair Trade), the trope-y rogue Borg community (Unity) and finally the big season ender "Scorpion". Some argue that to enjoy Voyager, you're better off starting with this season's final episode. Others say that's when the show jumped the shark and things began to get horribly worse. I feel both sections of this time stream served their purpose but yes, I did enjoy the fourth season and beyond more than the first three.

I have to admit that the writers were a tad disappointing in terms of how much character development they were trying to force onto the Doctor this season. Sure, we all saw the advent of the mobile emitter a mile away, but even the weirder episodes like the personality grafts in "Darkling" and even an entire holographic family as depicted in "Real Life" - I think we could have done without that sort of thing.

The third season of Voyager was definitely not as strong as the two prior ones but it put a good effort in nonetheless. It gets 3.5 holographic hangouts out of a possible 5.

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