The Equinox BeginsBy Fred Shedian
Posted at September 27, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT
The time has finally arrived. After debate and criticism over the summer months, Voyager's sixth season has started. Although we have only seen one episode, at least for those of us in the United States, I believe we can already tell that something's may be changing for the better...with others perhaps still requiring some improvement.
Before touching on the first episode, I would like to commend Paramount for the excellent advertising campaign they have pulled. I was pleased to find commercials for Voyager on the Sci-Fi Channel, on ABC, on UPN, on USA Network, and more. More surprisingly, the commercial actually sparked my interest. It was upbeat and exciting, two required elements if an ad is going to succeed. In addition, the Tuesday and Wednesday of the premiere, UPN did an excellent job building up hype for the show. The countdown, which actually started a week or two before, was an excellent touch. If this type of advertising had been occurring on a more regular basis during the last five years, I have to wonder if maybe the show's ratings would be a bit higher.
With all of the buildup, the premiere finally arrived. "Equinox Part II" was a good episode. There was balance between character development, action, and an interesting plot. This is something that was absent for quite a few episodes in the past. Equinox, as a whole, provided for some excellent subplots and helped us to better understand some of our favorite characters.
The character development was interesting to say the least. We saw a bit more with the Paris and Tores relationship. In addition, we had the opportunity to see another side of the Doctor we had never encountered before. An evil, self righteous, no morals based hologram? I found it...fascinating. I believe they developed the character of Ramson in an excellent fashion. I have to admit I was truly surprised by his change of heart, however found it believable. This is a characteristic that has been missing with past villains. They have a change of heart, however it isn't plausible or within the confines of the character.
I have developed a love/hate feeling in regard to the way Janeway and Chakotay were developed. On the positive, it was a pleasure to finally see this Commander acting like a First Officer. Instead of blindly following Janeway, he challenged her and took the initiative. Yet, he fell short when it came to dealing with Janeway's actions. I believe here behavior was, again, believable. However, I feel that Chakotay failed in his duties by not relieving her of command. Her attitude and/or actions were completely irrational, placing her personal agenda before the safety of the ship and it's crew. In addition, I must ask, where was Tuvok? A character who had helped Chakotay keep the Captain from leaving during "The Void" sits back and allows her to manipulate the rules and regulations she has held dear simply because Ransom got the best of her? Fascinating....
As I say this, from theatrical experience, I can see several avenues the writers could take to further develop this situation and bring it to a proper conclusion. Although the scene with Voyager's commissioning plaque was superb in my book, further explanation and resolution must take place for Janeway. With luck, the writers will hit on this topic in the future. An excellent idea would be to deal with the strained command relationship between the Captain and First Officer. Does the XO trust the CO any longer? There are several plausible possibilities, we will simply have to wait and see.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that the bulk of the episode did not revolve around Seven of Nine. As I have said in the past, in order for this to be a quality season, Jeri Ryan needs to report to the Cargo Bay and regenerate for three or four weeks. Although here character did play a part in finally pushing Braxston over the edge, she was not the main plot. For once, the theme of the episode was spread out. There were conflicts between Janeway and Chakotay, Janeway and Ransom, the Doctor and himself, with Ransom against himself. This is an excellent quality that almost every popular show has, and one Voyager has been missing.
The scenes with the Doctor were interesting. I believe we had the opportunity to see a side of this character we will probably never encounter again. He was vindictive, ruthless, cruel, and evil. I believe Robert Picardo did an excellent job with this episode. Instead of the same old routine between his character and Seven, we saw something totally new. I found this to be a welcomed change and hope the writers will consider attempting to repeat this type writing.
Moving towards the end, in summary, we saw a bit about Tores and Paris. Although there was not too much interaction, the scenes that did exist added some comical relief to the show. We saw that Paris, like many men, is insecure when it comes to his girlfriend. Although minor, this development can have serious implications later on. I think it was an excellent addition and something the writers will probably use again in the future.
In closing, as I have stated, I found the season premiere to be an excellent example of Voyager at it's best. This opinion may change slightly if the writers fail to develop a resolution to Janeway's behavior, however even if they do not it was a quality episode. I believe that if this episode, and it's ratings, are any indication of what will occur this season, we are all in for one heck of a ride.
Fred Shedian writes a weekly 'A Take On Trek' column for the Trek Nation.