PathfinderBy Edward James Hines
Posted at December 1, 1999 - 6:00 AM GMT
"I've become obsessed with Voyager," said Reginald Barclay, now a freshly full lieutenant, coining a phrase that the "Braga bunch" doubtless hopes all fans will espouse.
"Pathfinder" was a kind of oxymoronic success: While using the tried-and-true formula of diverting the action away from Voyager and its crew, the story still focused on the lost starship and Starfleet's successful effort to contact it. As with other milestones in its journey back to the Alpha Quadrant, Voyager's first live contact with Starfleet is a terrific reason for crewmembers and fans to share a smile and some genuine, heady elation. No character communicates these feelings better than Janeway, whose expression of fortitude is seconded only by her relief that she may yet bring her people home.
Why was Barclay the ideal choice to carry the "Pathfinder" story? The answer begins with the uniquely familial quality that binds the crew of the Starship Enterprise. Like Worf before him, Barclay has had trouble adjusting to life outside the Enterprise. In his despair, he has thrown himself into his work to find Voyager and actually begun feeling lonely for the lost crew. By creating holographic versions and interacting with them, Barclay has once again created a symbiotic relationship. While keeping company, each is actually "fooling" the other into believing that everything is all right. The holographic "Voyagers" look to Barclay for inspiration while he, energized into confidence, embraces his role as guardian and actually feels that, by such interaction, he has become the embodiment of the Starfleet that has not forgotten Voyager.
Considering Barclay's interest in Voyager, several things were curious about his holodeck re-creation of the starship and its crew. While Janeway's old hairdo and Tom Paris' old rank were dead-on, all of the Maquis were strangely dressed in their rebel apparel. It was as if Barclay had no idea that the Maquis were integrated into the Voyager crew, despite the fact that the Doctor had communicated with Starfleet two years earlier and doubtless reported this fact.
The absence of Neelix, Seven of Nine and even Kes from Barclay's program was glaring at first. Obviously, Starfleet was aware that Neelix was aboard Voyager — especially since Barclay named his cat Neelix — but equally obvious should be the fact that Starfleet had no idea what a Talaxian looked like! The same goes for Kes and Seven.
Admiral Paris, now played by veteran actor Richard Herd (taking over from Warren Munson), seems to be every bit the hard-ass that his son made him out to be. While it is a little strange that Tom does not at least say "hello" to his father, it is even stranger that Janeway and Admiral Paris do not share a little more familiarity during their brief conversation. She had, after all, once served as his science officer.
Finally, some production gaffs. Starfleet's new gray uniforms looked rumpled on everyone but Deanna Troi (who was wearing too much blush). The picture of Tom on Admiral Paris' desk was obviously taken from TNG's "The First Duty," when Robbie McNeill played Nick Locarno, but the picture itself was a sloppily reversed image. Finally, in one old stock shot outside Starfleet Headquarters, various officers are milling about in TNG-style uniforms.
Edward James Hines writes weekly reviews of Voyager episodes.