Star Trek: Voyager
Season 7

Starring: Kate Mulgrew
RRP: £84.99
Certificate: PG
Available 06 June 2005

As the starship Voyager journeys ever closer to home, Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres get married and produce their first child; the crew bid farewell to Azan, Mezoti, Rebi and Neelix, as they stay behind in the Delta Quadrant; Icheb elects to remain on board with his mentor Seven of Nine; and the Doctor makes a stand for holographic rights...

As was the case with the final season of The Next Generation, Season 7 of Voyager sees a slight downturn in quality.

The episodes Drive, Repression, The Void and Homestead are all rather bland. Drive is a racing episode - enough already with the sports-related storylines, please! Homestead is another dull Neelix (Ethan Phillips) story.

Imperfection, Nightingale, Repentance, Prophecy and the series finale Endgame are all merely OK. Imperfection writes out all of the former Borg children (Marley S. McClean, Cody Wetherill and Kurt Wetherill) apart from Icheb (Manu Intiraymi), who decides to stay on board. Prophecy brings Klingons to the Delta Quadrant in a rather neat way, in a generational ship, but the mythological idea of B'Elanna (Roxann Dawson) being some kind of Klingon prophet and her unborn baby a saviour is confusing and unconvincing.

Though full of action and featuring the return of the Borg (we would have been very disappointed if it hadn't) Endgame is mostly a missed opportunity. How will the former Maquis members of the crew integrate back into society? How will the people of the Alpha Quadrant react to the presence of the ex-Borg Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and Icheb? How will Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) react when she is reunited with her former fiancé Mark, who has married another woman during her absence? None of these questions are answered in this episode. Fans would have to wait until Christie Golden's novel Homecoming was published before these issues would be addressed.

In the featurette Coming Home: The Final Episode on the last disc of this box set, the producers explain that they wanted to surprise their audience. There's a fine line between defying audience expectations and disappointing them, and Endgame crosses that line.

For an episode that seeks to challenge expectations, there's an awful lot of Endgame that seems familiar. The designs of the future Starfleet uniforms and communicators are the same as those used in The Next Generation's final episode, All Good Things..., which serve to remind us that the time travel aspect of the story isn't such an original idea. Alice Krige replaces Susanna Thompson as the Borg Queen, reprising her role from the movie Star Trek: First Contact. However, there is no explanation as to why or how she suddenly decided to revert to her old body.

The resolution of the previous season's finale, Unimatrix Zero, Part II, another Borg episode, fares rather better. So do the moving medical drama Critical Care, the feature-length Flesh and Blood, the time-anomaly tale Shattered, the unexpectedly good Lineage, the two-part Workforce, Human Error, Q2, Friendship One and Natural Law.

Flesh and Blood is presented in feature-length format, which is preferable to the two-part syndicated version, which has a rather arbitrary and lacklustre "cliffhanger" at its halfway point. Holography once more proves to be an excellent device for involving alien races that cannot usually be used in Voyager, including the Alpha Quadrant's Bajorans, Breen, Cardassians and Romulans, and the Gamma Quadrant's Jem'Hadar.

On a similar note, time travel is useful for resurrecting departed popular characters. In Shattered the character in question is the villain Seska. This episode marks the excellent Martha Hackett's final appearance as Seska, while Q2 sees the final appearance to date of John de Lancie as everyone's favourite entity, Q.

The two-part Workforce is unfortunately very similar to the Stargate: SG-1 episode Beneath the Surface, while Human Error retreads territory already covered in the classic TNG episode Hollow Pursuits, as Seven's attempts to perfect her social skills on the holodeck become an obsession. However, both stories are still very enjoyable.

But the real highlights of this season are Inside Man, Body and Soul, Author, Author and Renaissance Man. Inside Man sees the return of not only Dwight Schultz as Reg Barclay, but also Marina Sirtis as Deanna Troi and the Ferengi in an episode that is by turns amusing and dramatic.

Body and Soul bawdily goes where the Red Dwarf episode Bodyswap has gone before, as the Doctor (Robert Picardo) downloads his program into Seven's implants (her cybernetic implants, that is) and accidentally takes over her body. While he's in there the Doctor gets his first taste of food and also becomes sexually aroused and starts to flirt.

In Author, Author the Doctor pens a holonovel, Photons Be Free, which is loosely based on the crew of a certain Federation starship. Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) becomes a Trill with Bolian hypochondria and Chakotay becomes a Bajoran with a Klingon tattoo, while Roxann Dawson appears out of her usual Klingon makeup as Lt Tory. The humour is counterpointed by serious issues about individuality and freedom of speech.

Renaissance Man is another great Doctor episode, in which the hologram is forced to impersonate various members of the crew.

All in all, this is a good season for fans of the Emergency Medical Hologram, as we get to see the ever-reliable Robert Picardo take centre stage in Critical Care, Flesh and Blood, Author, Author and Renaissance Man. He is also the focus of this season's Voyager Time Capsule and is also involved in The Making of Borg Invasion 4D, which goes backstage at the theme park attraction in Las Vegas.

In total, there are around 90 minutes' worth of documentary featurettes, which also include a look Inside Voyager's Scenic Art Department. There are also some storyboards, but these aren't particularly well presented. They are poorly organised and carry little or no explanation of what each board refers to.

Season 7 may not be Voyager's best one, but there's still plenty here to enjoy.

Richard McGinlay

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