And so we arrive at Brannon Braga's first contribution to Voyager, and it just happens to contain Voyager's first anomaly-of-the-week. Oh boy...
This is clearly still Michael Piller's Trek because the anomaly takes a back seat to the character story about B'Elanna and her quest to become chief engineer. I enjoyed seeing Chakotay going up against Janeway and sticking to his guns, although his character still hasn't made an impression on me. The argument between Chakotay and Janeway struck as something that would never happen on TNG without some sort of alien influence and I thought that was kind of cool, but then I remembered that in DS9's second episode Sisko threatened to cut Kira's head off so that dulled its impact.
As an aside, there is a meeting in the beginning where they are discussing power conservation and how they are planning to evacuate deck nine and leave it without power. This is the sort of Voyager I wouldn't mind seeing, but other than throw-away lines like this it hardly ever materialised. I consider that a big let-down.
There is a lot of technobabble in this episode, and unfortunately technobabble also serves as the solution to the plot which is a big pet peeve of mine. Also, does Brannon Braga even know what an event horizon is?
Janeway proves herself to have a more hands on approach to things than Picard or Sisko and that's okay with me. I'm not all that impressed with B'Elanna as she's only a good engineer because the writer wants her to be. There is some good music in this episode which makes the shuttle landing seem as dramatic as a real shuttle landing.
I'd give the character story 3 stars and the anomaly story only 2.
Time and Again (**½)
This episode sums up one of my big problems with Voyager; this could easily have been a TNG plot. It doesn't use Voyager's unique situation at all, so for the third episode they are already falling back on TNG-style alien-of-the-week stories. It's not a bad episode but it's nothing memorable either, what I remembered most about this episode is how the alien clothes looked like Rowntree's Fruit Gums. That's not a good sign.
Janeway's adherence to the Prime Directive is unsettling me a bit here. I used to be a big Prime Directive advocate when I was younger, but now I'm more in love with the idea of the PD rather than strict adherence to it. What is wrong with saving billions of people if no cultural contamination takes place? There's no problem with it, so why is Janeway insistent that she and Paris must let all these people die? And if she really feels this way then why did she destroy the Caretaker's array only two weeks before?
And what is it with Trek and extremely annoying kids? If they are not important to the plot then leave the kids out of the episode because all they manage to do is piss me off.
The plot resolution is Voyager's first use of the dreaded reset-button but I don't mind it so much. It was a neat little paradox and none of it ever really happened, which is fitting because I'll have forgotten this episode again by next week.
PS I'm rating the episodes out of five stars, not four.