It Takes Two

By Caillan Davenport
Posted at April 15, 2001 - 1:43 PM GMT

I’m hardly one of the most qualified people to write on the subject of a relationship between Janeway and Chakotay, being one of those viewers who woke up halfway through “Resolutions” and thought “Is something going on here?” Of course, the title of that episode is a misnomer, because it asked more questions than it answered. There’s never been a romantic relationship between Janeway and Chakotay since then, but it’s never been ‘resolved’ either.

As Janeway says in “Workforce, Part II,”she feels it “really wouldn’t be appropriate” to have a relationship with a crewmember. Picard faced the same quandary in “Lessons” with Nella Darren, and his relationship with Dr. Crusher bears a strong resemblance to J/C. Why do we see their subordinates in strong, lasting relationships, but never the Captains themselves? The one exception is Sisko, who married Kasidy Yates in the final season of Deep Space Nine, perhaps because the producers weren’t afraid of committing the character to a relationship.

Would a relationship with Chakotay threaten Janeway’s position as Captain? Certainly, there would be times when personal feelings could interfere with missions (like Picard’s experience in “Lessons”), but Voyager is in a unique situation compared to the other series: they’re alone, lost in the Delta Quadrant. Where else can Janeway turn for support? There was the hologram experiment, but that was neither a lasting nor a fulfilling relationship. It demonstrated that deep down, Janeway is as human as the rest of us, as much as she might want to suppress her romantic urges. Or is it simply a case of cowardice on the part of the writers?

A UPN television promo for Voyager’s fifth season revealed a line that was cut from the fourth season episode “Hunters,” in which Janeway seems to face the possibility of a relationship with Chakotay. The aired scene between the two characters is still very touching, yet this snippet of dialogue is a tantalising taste of what might have been:

Janeway: So what’ll it be Chakotay? Indulge my feelings, hold fast to protocol, what?
Chakotay: You have plenty of time to think about it.

Lines like this have me yearning for something more, something daring. “Hunters” would have been the perfect time for Janeway to try and come to terms with her feelings, especially since the episode reveals that Mark has now married someone else. For Janeway, her relationship with Mark has always been a tenuous link with her life back home, yet there was a large block of time leading up to “Hunters” when we didn’t hear about him at all. Janeway seems to have buried her longing, deep down, only to have it resurface dramatically when she received her “Dear John” letter. Her predicament is a frustrating one; lost in the Delta Quadrant, she has nowhere else to turn but her crew. Chakotay is her rock, her confidant, so why not take it one step further?

If the writers felt that too many main characters pairing off wouldn’t be realistic, they’re wrong. Lost in the Delta Quadrant, the crew don’t know they have only seven seasons of stories to fill - for them, it’s a lifetime, and people would begin to form deeper relationships. Instead, we have the Paris/Torres relationship as our example of people moving on with their lives, and because it has only been portrayed sporadically, it never really had a chance to resonate. A relationship between Janeway and Chakotay, on the other hand, would be a signal to the viewers that this isn’t an ordinary predicament. If it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t matter - people make mistakes in their lives, and everyone isn’t expected to end up living out the rest of their days in wedded bliss. Perhaps they could have kissed, but in the end decided that it wasn’t right. At least that would have acknowledged the possibility that there’s something that needs to be said.

Their relationship seems to be characterised more by what isn’t said, however. The body language, the little gestures, Janeway’s broad smile, it all helps to build the chemistry between them. For when they do talk about it, such as the “Angry Warrior” speech in “Resolutions,” the script falls woefully short of expressing their depth of feeling. There’s a similar problem with the Paris/Torres relationship, although “Lineage” handled it a lot better than previous episodes such as “Nothing Human.” If a J/C relationship would end as "P/T:Part 2," I’d rather have no relationship at all, because it would be such a big step for both of them (and Janeway in particular) that it would need to be expressly followed up and articulated week after week.

The character of Kathryn Janeway is a wonderful creation, a woman full of heart and soul, yet her romances have constantly been pushed to the sidelines, in favour of maintaining her role as “The Captain.” Seven seasons on, it’s an integral part of her character, but she doesn’t need to be a hermit to be a Captain.

The author would like to thank Gilly Hoyle, Mary Wiecek and Hejira Hayes for their invaluable help in compiling this article.

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Caillan Davenport is moderator of the Trek BBS Science Fiction and Fantasy forum and is editor of the J-Team newsletter. His 'A Briefing With Caillan' column is published regularly here at the Trek Nation.