Voyager’ Resonates in These Covid Times – /Film

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching, why it’s worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Series: Star Trek: Voyager, specifically Season 4

Where You Can Stream It: Paramount+, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video

The Pitch: Come follow the journey of the U.S.S. Voyager, a series that became much more interesting once former Borg Seven-of-Nine (Jeri Ryan) joined the crew. 

Why It’s Essential Viewing: Following the journey of the crew of a Federation ship just trying to make their way home is oddly resonant in these Covid times. Also Seven-of-Nine.

I rewatched season 4 of Star Trek: Voyager recently on a whim. Is it my favorite Trek series? Probably not. But for some reason, I felt the need to revisit the Voyager crew, led by Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), as they struggle to make the 75-year journey back to Federation space.

Why did I start at season 4? The first episode — the second of a two-parter from the third season finale (you should probably start with that episode) — introduces us to one of my favorite Trek characters: Seven-of-Nine. If you’re a Seven-of-Nine fan, it’s fun to see her back in her full Borg state. You also get to see her journey as she separates from the Collective and the Doctor (Robert Picardo) de-Borgifies her (to a degree).

Season 4 gives you the beginning of Seven’s story, but it also gives me some weird kind of solace in dealing with the last 18-plus months of pandemic life. Here is a crew, separate from their families and the Federation in the Delta(!) Quadrant just trying to get by. Things go bad, but the crew perseveres.

Take the two-parter, “Year of Hell.” Voyager gets caught up in a disruption in the space-time continuum and ends up being chased and fired upon for a year. Near the end, many of the crew are dead and the ship is nearly destroyed. Those crew who remain alive are battered, living through the trauma of a year of stress and fear of death. Sound familiar? I won’t go into specifics, but “Year of Hell” ends with that whole year being erased. What a dream that would be, for me at least, if the trauma of the past year was suddenly gone.

Not all of the episodes from this season, which first aired in 1997-8 have aged well. I highly recommend that you skip “Retrospect” because, in retrospect, its commentary on those who say they’ve been assaulted is…not good.

But overall, the season is a worthy (re)watch, especially in these times. You get to experience the introduction of Seven-of-Nine to the Star Trek universe, for one. And you get classic Trek tropes like the crew “going back” in time to occupied France during World War II (“The Killing Game”). And you also might find Voyager’s premise oddly comforting after this past year. I’ll take that solace — I’ll take whatever I can get to get by these days. Voyager has helped me feel better, and what could be more essential viewing than that?

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