PARTURITION - 2x07 - 3/5
Two things come to mind in the early minutes of the episode. Janeway's changed her hair and Neelix continues to be idiot. I am a fan of neither of these facts.
Fortunately both these elements of the episode take a turn for the improvement as this is a Paris/Neelix character episode which serves to finally dispose of the rivalry between these two. And because this is a Paris/Neelix episode, Janeway's new do gets little screen time.
The dialogue between Paris and Kim at the start of the episode flows quite naturally and the actors appear like they're starting to feel at home with their characters, rather than just announcing their lines on cue.
There's not too much else to comment on in this episode and it's largely by the numbers (something I will comment on in a moment). It's enjoyable to watch, Paris and Neelix get some drama and growth and FINALLY bury the god damn hatchet. I was sick of the rivalry episodes ago, and it only seemed fueled by Neelix's stupidity. The episode does come off as a bit cornball at times but overall, no major problems here.
Now, in regards to being a 'by the numbers' episode. I am okay with average episodes early in a series' development. TNG and DS9 didn't really hit their strides until season 3-ish where the quality of those respective shows continued to grow and rarely faltered like they did in their first seasons (TNG more so than DS9). After a while though, run of the mill episodes become quite tiresome and is not the sort of thing I want to see beyond a series' foundation season(s). I am going to become harsher and harsher on unremarkable episodes as Voyager progresses, simply because I see it as an indicator of whether the writing teams are pulling their weight or not.
In summation, I don't watch Star Trek to see the result of someone doing the bare minimum to earn their paycheque. It's better than that, and I will be critical of it when it falls short.