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Welcome to the first of my Voyager Year VI pages. Here you will find details regarding the Year VI premiere so if you do not want to know about the episode until you have seen it yourself, please turn away now or go explore another page. If you do want to continue reading, check out the synopsis and review…

SYNOPSIS : The alien attacks on Voyager have resulted in two deaths and thirteen wounded among the crew, including Commander Chakotay. Neelix finds Doc's holo-emitter in a lower deck (it had been stolen by Equinox's EMH) and Doc (actually the EMH) is activated. He gets right to work tending to Chakotay. On Equinox, Max (First Officer) has found Seven (who had been aboard and was knocked out during Equinox's flight away from Voyager) and brings her to Captain Ransom. Ransom offers Seven the opportunity to join the crew but she will have nothing to do with that. It's not long before they find out that Seven had been aboard to place lockout codes on Equinoxes computer. They demand the codes from her and when she refuses, they activate Doc (who had been aboard Equinox when that ship's EMH deactivated him and stole his holo-emitter). When Doc refuses to do any physical harm to Seven to gain the lockout codes, Ransom deactivates his ethics routines and orders Doc to do whatever it takes to get the codes from Seven. Doc then starts to manipulate her neural implants, which he says will eventually make her go mad.

Meanwhile, on Voyager, Chakotay tries to convince Captain Janeway that they need to try to communicate with the aliens to get them to stop their attacks, so that Voyager can go in search of Equinox. Janeway's priorities are exactly the opposite. She's almost to the point of obsession about going after Equinox. When Chakotay tells her that she's compromising the crew's safety for revenge, she agrees, saying that Equinox's Captain Ransom has betrayed everything that Starfleet and the Federation stand for and that she won't let him get away with it. By now, Equinox has arrived at a planet where they can get needed supplies. Meanwhile, Doc is progressing with taking Seven's neural implant apart to get at her memories that hold the lockout codes for the computer. Ransom tries to reason with Seven but she refuses. Chakotay again tries to reason with Janeway, suggesting that they go back to the planet where Equinox first encountered the aliens. He believes that the race on the planet, which introduced Equinox to the aliens, would be able to communicate with them on Voyager's behalf but Janeway is steadfast in her desire to find Equinox and its captain. She's been reviewing Ransom's service record and has noted that he has a tendency to hide from opponents and wait them out. She orders Chakotay to start scanning the area for possible hiding places.

On Equinox, Ransom activates a neural stimulator that projects landscape images directly into the brain but this time he realises that the landscapes don't have any people in them. Meanwhile the away team that he sent down to the planet has been captured by Chakotay and beamed up to Voyager - which has found Equinox and is hiding nearby. However, unknown to anyone, the EMH on Voyager (who's masquerading as Doc) sends a secret message to Ransom warning him of Voyager's presence. A running battle soon erupts between Voyager and Equinox. Voyager's deflector and other systems are heavily damaged as are those on the Equinox. In a last ditch effort to escape from Voyager, Ransom dives his ship into the planet's atmosphere. Janeway orders that Voyager follow and only at the last minute pulls up at Chakotay's urgent pleas. Equinox also pulls up just before disaster and warps away - Voyager's warp drive is off line and can't follow. Janeway takes the opportunity to question one of Equinox's captured crewmen. When he refuses to cooperate, she has him locked in a cargo bay and the shields in that area of the ship deactivated. Her hope is that with the shields down and the cargo bay open for attacks by the aliens, the crewman will eventually break down and give her the information she wants. It's also clear that if the crewman doesn't cooperate, Janeway is willing to risk him being killed by the aliens. Completely appalled by his captain's actions, Chakotay defies Janeway and goes to help the crewman fight off an attacking alien. In a fit of anger, Janeway relieves Chakotay of duty.

Sometime later, Voyager has tracked down a ship belonging to the race that had introduced Equinox to the aliens and Janeway has the ship tractored and the crew brought aboard. She convinces them to summon the aliens and communicate to them that it is Equinox, not Voyager, who has been killing their kind. The aliens agree to stop attacking Voyager only if Equinox is turned over to them. Over the protests of Tuvok, Janeway agrees to the deal. On Equinox, Max tells Ransom that they will soon have to stop to trap another alien to use a fuel. By now Ransom is showing some signs of hesitancy and regret over his role in killing the aliens but he approves of Max's plan. Ransom then goes to again indulge in the neural stimulator, this time seeing (through hallucination) the image of a fully human Seven, who pleads to his humanity. He's interrupted by a call from Max that Voyager has again found them. By now Ransom is ready to surrender and have his crew join Voyager. Max and three other Equinox crewmen protest and they take over control of Equinox. Max orders a female crewmember to take Ransom to the brig but once on a lower deck, she frees him because she's of the opinion that what they've been doing is wrong. She helps Ransom deactivate the deranged Doc before he can do more harm to Seven. By now Voyager and Equinox are again trading shots, with both suffering heavy damage. To make matters worse, the EMH is radioing Voyager's shield frequencies to Max, so that Equinox's shots are taking a heavy toll on Voyager. But Ransom signals Voyager and tells Janeway that Max has mutinied and that he's releasing Seven, Doc, and loyal members of his crew to be beamed over to Voyager. Upon arriving in sickbay, Doc deactivates the EMH.

Meanwhile, the aliens have started heavy attacks of their own on Equinox, killing Max and his followers. In the fire fight, one of Equinox's warp nacelles has been damaged and the ship is almost to the point of a warp core breach. With Voyager herself disabled, Ransom stays aboard Equinox and guides her away from Voyager just in time to save Voyage from the explosion. With Equinox's destruction and the death of Ransom, Max and his followers, the aliens withdraw. Sometime later, Captain Janeway addresses the four survivors from Equinox and because of their actions, she strips them of rank and warns them that will have to prove their loyalty to Voyager and Starfleet before they will regain her trust. She also reinstates Chakotay to duty. With the tension between them Janeway and Chakotay notice that Voyager's commissioning plaque has fallen to the floor. They pick it and return it to its rightful place on the bulkhead wall. Chakotay then leaves Janeway to her thoughts.

REVIEW : Well, this episode has certainly generated a lot of publicity and attention. Personally, I am glad to hear so many people (from all walks of life) talk about Voyager in a positive light - it is a breath of fresh air after months of listening to negative comments regarding the series. For once, it seems that people are actually concentrating upon the series instead of the turmoil behind the cameras. But I digress, you wanted to hear a review for this episode and a review is something you will get…

First off Janeway. Just what is her deal anyways? She was depicted in a very unflattering light for the Year VI premiere and if this is a sign of things to come for her character then we are in trouble. Captain Janeway (aka Kate Mulgrew) has had a rough ride over the past six years and it seems that each year she is cast as something different.

In the first year she played the solid, stoic Captain who was determined to get her crew home at any cost. In the second year, she kind of softened but was determined to uphold the Starfleet protocol - even trying to forge an alliance with the Kazon at one point. During the third season, she mellowed out considerably and suddenly became everyone's favourite good time gal - she just wanted to have fun and while she was still determined to get the crew home, it seemed as though it was no longer a top priority - opting to explore and enjoy the ride instead. Then there was the Captain Janeway of the fourth season who found herself clashing with that buxom blonde Seven of Nine. She was determined that "Seven" would bend to her way of thinking but it never happened - the Janeway portrayed during that year was increasingly desperate and demonstrated an iron clad will that would scare even the most hardened dictators - take her actions during "Year of Hell" for example. Then in Year V, Janeway suddenly got all moody and was so depressed and remorseful for her past actions that she hid herself away from the crew - better to hide than admit you made a mistake I guess.

All of this brings up to the Janeway seen in Year VI (I know it is only one episode but who knows? Maybe this will set a precedent for the season?) who was darn right scary. She was absolutely mad and did not listen to anyone - even risking the lives of everyone on Voyager in her quest to right the wrongs of Captain Ransom. Is this kind of behaviour new to her character? Not really. She has been depicted as compulsive (just watch how many cups of coffee she drinks in one episode), moody (check out "Night") and pathetic (as seen in "Scorpion" where she tries to emotionally blackmail Chakotay because he does not agree with her) and the list goes on. Just why are the writers so insistent on portraying the good lady in the worst possible light? I cannot recall Captain Sisko or Picard being portrayed in such a negative light and in so regular a fashion. It is clear to me, that at least when it comes to the female characters, the Trek writers are nowhere as clever as they like to think themselves to be and still have many lessons to learn before we reach the "alleged" utopia that is the twenty-fourth century…

With Janeway out of the way, let's concentrate on the other characters. There was a little bit of everyone in this episode but where was Tuvok? He is usually right by the good Captain's side - especially when she is facing a crisis and he was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he locked himself away in his quarters and was hoping she would fall out of the nearest airlock? Perhaps he was meditating - thinking to himself "That damn redhead, just when is Chakotay going to bump her off anyways?" All of this does bring out another question - just why is Janeway still in command? Nobody really has faith in her aboard that ship and the only impression I get for the reason of her being allowed to remain Captain is that the crew would be absolutely fearful to mutiny - based on her past rages.

Seven was not featured very much and seems to have taken two steps back this year - I have read that she will not be featured much this year as the writers feel they have over-used her character and that she has been written to a standstill. If this is the thanks Jeri Ryan gets for "rescuing" the series from cancellation, then she must truly be wondering why she signed on for another season?

Hmm, what else? Oh yeah, the crew of the Equinox. They were okay but clearly did not make an impression on me either way. It will however be interesting to see whether we will see the surviving crewmembers in future episodes? Perhaps the writers are trying to back peddle and the renegade Equinox crew will get the kind of stories that were begging (but sadly never came) after the Maquis boarded Voyager way back in the series premiere of 1995?

OVERALL : Wrapping up, I would recommend this episode to any fan of good sci-fi (Voyager may have its faults but it is rarely garbage in my opinion) and I am hoping that some of the trends started in this episode actually carry over into upcoming story lines.

RATING : Five stars out of ten.