I find politics fascinating as well. But when I am watching Star Trek, I want Star Trek, not "Trek To The Depths of Bajoran Political System" three episodes in a row.
The Circle Trilogy at the beginning of season 2? Loved it!
I wish we had seen more of those kinds of stories in season 1.
DS9 needed to tell those stories because that is what the show was about; being on a space station on the frontier in a politically unstable region of space. For DS9 to ignore those issues would have been a major failure. Voyager was not about politics, it was about a ship stranded far from home, so I would agree with you that Voyager didn't need story arcs focusing on the politics of the worlds they meet on the trip home. What Voyager needed was story arcs about the dynamic of a mixed crew on a dangerous journey. Not all arcs need to be about politics.
And just because an arc can
be bad doesn't mean that you shouldn't at least try. For example, Threshold was a really bad stand-alone episode but that didn't stop the writers from doing more stand-alone episodes in the future.
This episode just works. The character story about Caylem and how we slowly learn about how he feels responsible for the death of his wife and daughter is tragic and it works quite well. The villain of the piece is also interesting, he doesn't act like a straight-up Trekian evil villain, you can see that he has a sense of humour and you can almost believe he would be a good man if his life had been different. The aftermath of Tuvok being tortured makes for a very nice scene with a great bit of insight into the limits of Vulcan self-control.
Some minor problems; Voyager is apparently in the middle of an energy crisis. When did this happen exactly? Were they running low on energy last week when they decided to go up against the Kazon for moral reasons? I also didn't like the scene where Caylem distracts the guards by acting like a clown, you would think that trained security personnel wouldn't be so stupid.
One thing which I find interesting about this episode is to parallel it with the first season's Prime Factors
. In that episode Janeway refused to trade technology without consent from the legitimate government, but in this episode this moral issue is never even raised despite the fact that they are illegally purchasing fuel from a resistance movement. However, this episode isn't about moral issues like this, it is a character episode with some great scenes and I quite enjoyed it on those terms.