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Star Trek Voyager : Final Episode
"Endgame"
Reviewed by Amy H. Sturgis, ©

Format: TV
By:   Rick Berman (Exec. Producer)
Genre:   Science Fiction
Review Date:  

Most cats have nine lives, and most Star Trek series have seven seasons: Voyager, the fourth incarnation of Gene Roddenberry's "Wagon Train to the Stars" franchise, is no exception to the rule. On May 23, 2001, the two-hour movie "Endgame" brought closure to the syndicated UPN centerpiece with both a bang and a whimper.

For the last several years, producer Rick Berman found Voyager's stability (also known as "rut") in exploring the internal aspects of its premise: a by-the-book Starfleet crew and an outlaw Maquis crew are stranded in the Delta Quadrant, a remote part of space unexplored by the Federation, and forced to join together on the starship Voyager to survive and return home. The voyage promises to be so long, at least by traditional means of space travel, that most crewmembers might not survive to see Earth or their respective home planets again.

Though the premise promised the opportunity to "seek out new life and new civilizations" every week, the series turned its eyes inward to focus not on alien cultures and spatial anomalies, but on the many lives and loves of the crewmembers. In the seventh season, for example, ex-con and ambassador's son Tom Paris and half-Klingon, half-Human engineer B'Elanna Torres took the next step in their tumultuous romance and entered the state of holy matrimony.

The diminutive Talaxian cook and gadfly Neelix chose to leave Voyager and his role of godfather-to-all in order to serve as the permanent Federation Ambassador to the Delta Quadrant, a post he won due to a complete lack of competition. Former Borg Seven of Nine explored her humanity by falling for the oft-jilted Commander Chakotay, who apparently decided he couldn't wait forever for Captain Janeway to thaw.

Long stretches of Trek-style soap opera were punctuated by occasional clashes with the ever-present Borg, in which little new territory was covered (save in the two-parter "Unimatrix Zero," which began the seventh season and remains one of its highlights), but lots of ships, to borrow a phrase from SCTV, "blowed up real good."

Voyager will be remembered for two key Trek firsts: the introduction of the first woman Captain, Kathryn Janeway, and the first regular Native American character, First Officer Chakotay.

It will also be remembered for the not-so-subtle feud that emerged between actors Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran, who pioneered these important parts, as both revealed frustration with repetitive scripts and cardboard characterization (and, in the case of Mulgrew, the alleged unprofessionalism of her less-than-motivated co-star); at one point, the two seemed to be vying for the opportunity to put their characters six feet under in the series finale.

Both succeeded and failed.

"Endgame" incorporated two parallel storylines, one in Voyager's present, and one twenty-six years in the future, ten years after Voyager's return to Earth. In the future Chakotay followed his late wife, Seven of Nine, to the grave, and Admiral Janeway planned a risky time travel adventure to return to the past and save Seven of Nine in order to, well, not to spare thousands of lives, really, since the plan would cost lives, but rather to save her friend's life at the expense of nameless others, with nasty little unintended consequences thrown in, to boot.

Needless to say, Janeway isn't taken with her doppelganger's priorities. In the end, Admiral Janeway sacrifices herself to introduce a pathogen into the Borg collective and destroy Voyager's chief enemy, and in the process, the real-time Voyager makes it home early, with its entire crew alive and well.

The finale mixed the ingredients of soap opera (Paris and Torres delivered their baby daughter) and shoot-'em-up (the Borg Queen literally fell apart, arms, legs, etc., as her collective erupted in fiery self-destruction) with little regard to continuity or scientific accuracy, making "Endgame" the perfect poster child for the series as a whole.

On the other hand, fans shouldn't throw the finale's baby out with the bathwater. An unexpectedly compelling portrayal of future Tuvok, suffering from a degenerative neurological condition, and a convincing portrait of an aging Reginald Barclay, finally at peace due to his part in bringing Voyager home, should earn "Endgame" its share of cheers.

Trek fans have little time for self-pity, with Star Trek: Enterprise in the works for a fall debut.


Amy H. Sturgis writes for RevolutionSF, and also is falling apart literally.

 
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