Top 10 “Star Trek: Voyager” Episodes
Fun will now commence.
– Seven of Nine, “Star Trek: Voyager” (1995-2001)
From interstellar organ thieves to spatial scissions to a celestial Moby Dick, “Star Trek: Voyager” was no stranger to innovation and clever twists on genre staples. Expected engagements with time travel, mistaken identities, tricky dilemmas, and the occasional morality tale were often as engaging as the intrepid crew’s encounters with new alien species. And with the highly anticipated cataclysmic confrontation with the Borg at the end of Season 3, and the arrival of new crew member Seven of Nine, “Voyager” only got better with each passing episode. In fact, it wasn’t until season four that the series really hit its stride, unveiling more engrossing storylines with each successive debut. In honor of what is likely the crown jewel of the various “Star Trek” television shows, the list below examines ten of the pinnacle adventures (in chronological order) in the seven-year journey of the starship Voyager.
Season 4 - Episode 4: Nemesis
Few episodes of “Voyager” create as complex and developed a world as season four’s “Nemesis.” When Chakotay’s shuttle is shot down over a foreign planet and lands in the middle of a battle between two alien armies, the commander is drawn into the fight. Initially reluctant to get involved with the Vori, he soon learns how dire their situation is and vows to help in their battle against their nemesis, the vicious, beastly-looking Kradin. The twist ending is both shocking and cleverly constructed, but it manages its affecting power through an attention to detail that paints its two diverse species with vivid characteristics, rituals, and languages.
Season 4 - Episode 13: Waking Moments
Another prime example of the creativity pulsing through season four, “Waking Moments” creates not only a devious new alien threat, but also a brilliant premise for mystery and suspense. The senior staff of Voyager all awake in the morning to discover that they’ve each had a nightmare involving an unknown alien species, leading them to believe something sinister is afoot. When Harry fails to report for duty, and the crew discovers he’s in a hyper-REM sleep and cannot be woken, Chakotay suggests attempting to contact the aliens in the dream world. Shared nightmares, lucid dreaming, and a Freddy Krueger “don’t fall asleep” vibe intertwine to reveal a story that retains its own unique artistry, even if the individual ideas have been done before.
Season 4 - Episode 22: Unforgettable
True to its name, season four’s twenty-second episode remains a truly memorable fusion of excellent performances and impressive writing. When mysterious alien Kellin (Virginia Madsen) requests asylum aboard Voyager and asks for Chakotay by name, Janeway and crew are immediately suspicious. Kellin explains that she was aboard Voyager previously, but as her species emits a pheromone that inhibits memory, after she left, the crew quickly forgot she was ever there. But during her brief stay, she had fallen in love with Chakotay, and has now returned to be with him. As other members of Kellin’s species attack Voyager and attempt to apprehend her, Chakotay must determine if the enigmatic young woman is telling the truth – and if he can return her affections. With remarkable chemistry between the two leads, and a clever allegory about love, “Unforgettable” is both heartbreaking and stellar science-fiction.
Season 4 - Episode 25: One
After her arrival, Seven of Nine seems to get into trouble in every other episode, causing the audience to wonder if she’s worth the effort. Season four’s “One” proves Seven to be indispensable, as it places the lives of the entire crew in her hands. When Voyager encounters a massive nebula emitting poisonous gas, and Janeway determines that traveling around it is unacceptable, everyone aboard the starship is placed into stasis except The Doctor and Seven of Nine, who must ensure Voyager makes it safely to the other side. Things go from bad to worse when ten days into the month-long journey, The Doctor is taken out of commission by the nebula’s radiation. Alone and suffering from isolation, paranoia, and severe hallucinations, Seven must come to terms with her imperfections, self-doubt, and humanity in an attempt to save Voyager.
Season 4 - Episode 26: Hope and Fear
When visiting alien Arturis (Ray Wise) reveals his proficiency in translating languages to Captain Janeway, she asks for his help to decode datastream messages sent by Starfleet some five months earlier. Upon deciphering parts of the transmission, the Voyager is led to the U.S.S. Dauntless, a hyper-advanced spaceship equipped with quantum slipstream capability that will allow the crew to reach Earth in a matter of months. It seems too good to be true, and with it being only the end of season four, the audience knows that it is. But the emotional rollercoaster of hope, betrayal, and disaster, combined with an excellent guest performance, makes this season finale a high point of the show.
Season 5 - Episode 22: Someone to Watch Over Me
“Talk about the blind leading the blind!” exclaims Tom Paris when he discovers The Doctor is giving Seven of Nine dating lessons. But it’s exactly this unexpected pairing of the most unlikely members of the crew, hoping to fine-tune their romantic encounters, which makes “Someone to Watch Over Me” one of the best episodes that centers on both Seven and The Doctor’s progressions in experiencing their respective humanities. On top of the unanticipated sentiment involving The Doctor’s realization that he’s falling in love with his pupil, the humor arrives frequently, and is executed with particular insight and effectiveness. And if the primary plot of Seven pursuing a date wasn’t entertaining enough, a secondary tale running concurrently through the episode finds Neelix futilely trying to restrain a monastic alien visitor from indulging in the lavish excesses found aboard Voyager.
Season 5 - Episode 26 and Season 6 - Episode 1: Equinox Parts 1 & 2
When Voyager receives a distress signal from a vessel under attack, they move to investigate. What they discover is the U.S.S. Equinox, another Federation starship stranded in the Delta Quadrant, whose crew appears to have lived a similar existence to that of Voyager’s after they were hurtled through space by the Caretaker. But Janeway and gang soon discover that the Equinox’s small band of remaining members, led by Captain Rudy Ransom (John Savage), may not be the innocent victims of a vicious alien assault as they claimed. The season five finale perfectly captures a dark parallel to Voyager’s journey, showing a wayward cadre willing to cross the tenuous lines of morality to get home – a level of madness that Janeway herself skirts in her mission to bring Ransom to justice.
Season 6 - Episode 6: Riddles
Since the very first series of “Star Trek,” the writers have always toyed with opposite or alternate versions of its primary crewmembers. “Voyager” is no different, and while witnessing the “evil” counterparts of all the senior officers in “Living Witness” (Season 4 Episode 23) was certainly a highlight, when it comes to the greatest “what ifs” of alternate personalities, season six’s “Riddles” is hard to top. Commander Tuvok, with his steely resolve and impeccable logic, is the perfect target for an identity crisis – and just such a scenario is presented when an invisible alien creature attacks the Vulcan security officer, leaving his memory wiped clean. As Neelix attempts to aid Tuvok in his recovery, he quickly realizes that the once calm, always-in-control being has now become a completely different person, one with a wide range of emotions and interests. Neelix and the new Tuvok form a true bond of friendship, which would never have occurred with the old Vulcan’s practiced reservations. This fact lends all the more poignancy to the episode’s climax – when the inevitable reversal of Tuvok’s condition is discovered and the two must come to terms with the permanent loss of their connection.
Season 7 - Episode 7: Body and Soul
While humor is no stranger to Voyager (several episodes involving Tom Paris’ holodeck program “Captain Proton” offer clever parody throughout), few adventures allow Seven of Nine and The Doctor to shine quite like “Body and Soul.” Showcasing a surprising amount of laugh-out-loud moments, the episode finds The Doctor’s program inserted into Seven’s body in order to evade photon-phobic aliens. The resulting meld provides unique opportunities for Seven to imitate The Doctor’s speech patterns and mannerisms – and she does it so well that the audience never doubts it’s The Doctor playing puppeteer. Unavoidable sexual references and the gender-swapping mishap deliver unexpected and truly hilarious shenanigans.
Season 7 - Episodes 16 and 17: Workforce Parts 1 & 2
More than a handful of episodes involve body swapping, lost identities, and alternate versions of the various members of Voyager’s crew. “Workforce” steps to the front of the crowd with an interesting twist: each character retains their original demeanor and most of their identity, but without the knowledge of their history aboard Voyager. Kidnapped by corrupt mining executives and a nefarious memory-tampering doctor (Don Most), the entire crew – save for Kim, Neelix, Chakotay, and a cocky, promoted rendering of The Doctor – are sent to work in a massive industrial complex. Manipulated into believing that they are happy working there, Janeway even begins a relationship with fellow operator Jaffen (James Read). It’s up to Chakotay and Neelix to infiltrate the “workforce,” posing as new hires, which leads to an eventual resolution that brings both heartache and a deeper insight into each character’s outlook on life and love.