The crew enters a void in the Delta Quadrant, an area without any stars of 2 light-years radius. The crew morale is very low as the vast emptiness gets to them. The episode starts in the Holodeck, and I was afraid this would be another Holodeck malfunctions story. However, when the ship loses power, the plot goes in a completely different direction - it turns out someone is living in the emptiness—a hostile creature. Soon after, the ship encounters another living form - a ship emitting large doses of radiation piloted by Emck, a Malon. The strange ship offers help with quick passing of the void on one condition - Jenway is to transport the creature to their ship.
Jenway being Jenway, declines and decides to first talk with the now-imprisoned alien. It informs her that they are a dying breed due to the poisoning of space by Emck. It is soon revealed that Emck’s job is to drop toxic waste, a by-product of Malon industries. Jenway tries to give Voyager’s technology to Emck, but he refuses, as clean energy would ruin his business. Jenwey then orders her crew to go into a vortex leading out of the void while she stays behind and destroys it so Malons can no longer dump their waste. The staff, however, goes to mutiny. Jenway agrees, and Voyager fires torpedoes as it enters the vortex. The episode ends with the crew seeing stars again.
What a nice start for season 6, but also a wasted potential. While the main plot is what Star Trek does best and the special effects are becoming great, the period between entering the void and the ship losing power could be filled with the crew’s intimate moments. I said it before, and I’ll repeat it - Voyager is in deep need of idle moments where people could simply hang out. Some chats, some banter, maybe a dinner or a classic concert. Next Generation’s greatest strength was not in the SciFi elements but in the people living on Enterprise. I understand that Voyager faces incomparable dangers. Picard was always close to home, so even in the most severe of circumcisions could ask for help from Starfleet. Voyager, however, is always in hostile space, fighting for resources. Jenwey keeps her humanity and hunger for exploration, but her mission is survival. But why can’t we have a Shakespearean performance? Yes, we get glimpses here and there, but we deserve more.
But what strikes me most is how Jenway grew on me. First, she annoyed me. She was always the loudest and greatest. She knew tactics better than her military officers, engineering better than her engineers, and perfect diplomacy? For here is just another Tuesday. She was the anti-Picard, who always treated his crew with dignity and admiration (sans Wesley) But I learned that she is the captain Voyager needs. The Delta Quadrant is so hostile that the crew needs a decisive leader. She also changed, however. She knows that she puts the crew at constant risk, and this is the episode that confronts it.
There’s a lot more to her that she allows the crew (and the viewer) to see. She is fully aware of the burden on her arms and how much she relies on her judgment. This is why the mutiny is fulfilling. She finally allows the crew to decide! There is no fight in her, but rather a relief. The old Jenway would not agree to a plan contrary to her own. The previous 4 years in the Quadrant have taught her to trust others. I wonder if this will in any way impact her in the future.
Not satisfactory. He was there, but not enough.