CARETAKER - 1x01 - 4/5 stars
Voyager's series opener is not without it's problems, but overall, I am going to say that this is the strongest series opener to any Star Trek series. I may personally prefer Encounter at Farpoint
, largely because I adore the space jellyfish + it's nostalgic for me. But objectively, Caretaker is pretty damn good.
The story develops quite well, there doesn't really feel like there's any slowness (at no point do I feel I need to the episode to hurry up - something The Emissary
suffers from a bit). MOST of the characters get decent establishment and screen time.
Something I find interesting, is that Tom Paris seems to have most of the focus in the first part of the episode, and I remember watching the show for the first time thinking that maybe Paris was going to be the main character - which would have been a nice change of pace for an ST series. However, the episode falls back into the ensemble style that is familiar to the franchise (which is not necessarily a bad thing, I just like variety!).
Having Deep Space Nine as the launching point for the series is a nice touch as well - Star Trek has always tried to maintain a sense of 'universe' and this helps keep it all together. The scene with Quark, Kim and Paris is great too. Speaking of Kim, in the FIRST episode, something bad happens to him. I don't want to copy TheGodBen's Voyager counter, but I really want to keep track of how many times Kim has something horrible happen to him. So Kim getting infected for no reason by an alien entity = Horrible Encounter for Harry Kim + 1
The drama in Engineering once Voyager comes through to the Delta Quadrant is a little odd to me - perhaps they were trying to establish Janeway's scientific/engineering background from the get go?
There's a nice scene between Janeway, Chakotay and the Caretaker - where we see the differences in their command/diplomacy styles. Janeway is very aggressive, and strong and perhaps a little stand-off-ish(?) Chakotay tries a more gentle, curious approach. This is good because it establishes some nice differentiation between the characters, and that perhaps Chakotay is a bit more seasoned than Janeway.
However, speaking of Chakotay - he has practically no lines in the series opener! This was something I only noticed once I got to the end of the episode. This was surprising for the actor given the second-place billing in the opening credits.
A character and actor who DID make a big impression on me is Jennifer Lien's and Kes. She is just fantastic - I love her style of acting and I love the character.
Now as for the resolution - we could debate the solution of Janeway blowing up the Array and I'm sure everyone's been through the whole "why couldn't she leave some timed bombs and still use the Array to return to the Alpha Quadrant". Well, whatever - I am willing to handwave this because the episode is so solid up until this point, and I can write off this decision as Janeway having to ensure target acquisition and destruction. In the contemporary military/navy, they don't ditch bombs at will and then ignore the aftermath. The target must be acquired, confirmed and the destruction ensured and also confirmed. I could also handwave it as the Tri-Cobalt devices being unable to have a timed detonation and they were the only weapons powerful enough to destroy the array. In the end, it really doesn't matter.
What I WILL take issue with is Neelix. Sure he's kind of annoying, but that's not my problem. When on the surface of the planet, with the Kazon, he takes one hostage to obtain the release of Kes, in the middle of Janeway making some diplomatic headway. Neelix takes a temporary hostage, fires weapons and antagonises the Kazon, with the perceived assistance of the Voyager crew, involuntarily involving them in the issue. AND NO ONE CALLS HIM ON IT! At the end of the episode, Janeway welcomes them on board after Neelix convinces them he would be good help. If Neelix hadn't antagonised the Kazon, Voyager MAY not have been stuck on the DQ in the first place!!! I can't believe this gets glossed over. If I were Janeway, I would've dumped him back in his debris field to rot.
This issue is pretty much the only thing that tarnishes an otherwise excellent episode and I am going to give it four out of five stars.
Harry Kim Horror count = 1