A poor captain (but deliberately so)

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Voyager' started by hux, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. hux

    hux Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Just reading the "was Janeway wrong in Scorpion" thread and wanted to bring up an old favourite of mine...basically, i believe that Janeway was deliberately written as a poor captain who is out of her depth

    How many episodes where she makes weak decisions do you people need before you see this....They make this her first command and purposely show us that she's clearly not cut out for this level of leadership....had she stayed in the alpha quadrant dealing with menial starfleet tasks then yeah, sure, she'd probably be adequate

    The writers signpost her weaknesses over and over. Scorpion is the first big one...and just in case you hadn't realised this was deliberate, the writers give us "hope and fear" to remind us....look what this captains poor decisions have lead to

    Then in the following episode she has a breakdown (even she knows she's out of her depth) Chakotay regularly gives speeches that hint towards her lack of experience and poor leadership (though he knows they'll be ignored). Tuvok questions her very often (though usually with less conviction than Chakotay) The doctor has been keeping a record of all her poor decisions and was going to give it to starfleet (until the last minute when he changed his mind)

    The writers even give us "good shepherd"...an episode about crew that aren't quite cut out for starfleet...Chakotay gives another speech about how in their first year, some crew clearly aren't up to the task required and in the alpha quadrant, they would probably be reassigned....and as far as i'm concerned, he is blatantly including Janeway in that assessment....the writers certainly are

    How many episodes can you think of where the bridge officers seriously question what the captain is doing on TOS, TNG, DS9....compared to Voyager

    They respect her, even love her....but they know she has serious limitations

    Personally, i liked the show (my favourite) much more because of that but i don't think her erratic nature was bad writing...i think it was great writing
     
  2. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    I have long been dissatisfied with Janeway's defensiveness, which appeared in the third season--after the retirement of Jeri Taylor in particular--but I don't know if what you propose was deliberate. Obviously, Archer was the captain who faced the steepest learning curve, which was used to illustrate the beginning of deep space travel. Conversely, Sisko was designed to be listless at first, only finding his purpose through his posting and the people he encountered. OTOH, I think that Janeway was meant to be a strong presence, a model of feminine authority. Unfortunately, I don't think the writers really knew how to cultivate that image.

    Part of the problem might have been that the writers weren't sure how to make her look strong. Was she the strong leader women should become in the future? Or was she a representation of the struggles women had in the present? Whichever it was, she was easily offended by differing opinions, taking them too personally, if she didn't dismiss them out of hand. On any other series, the characters would be doing their job. On Voyager, they would be expressing a lack of confidence in their captain. OTP.
     
  3. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's a reasonably popular fan theory. That she was a great science officer, but one who just got promoted too quickly, and possibly outside of her comfort zone. By Admiral Paris maybe? She seems to have been his "teacher's pet".

    So this thinking goes: if we accept this idea that USS Voyager was Janeway's first command, and that the Maquis mission as her first major assignment as a Captain, then we can justify her helter skelter characterization over the course of the series as being her kind of learning command responsibility as she goes along... which accounts for the occasions when she gets it wrong, or allows her "book learning" (eg. a quasi-religious attachment to rules and regulations over common sense) to over-rule the more immediate alternative options that might be available to her.

    At other times, she slips, and gets a little... unhinged? Unsure? Loses her confidence. Whatever we want to call it. I don't think it helps that she doesn't have the safety net that other first-time Captain's have, of being able to get advice from Starfleet Command. She's all alone out there in the wasteland.

    Whichever way, I don't see it as a bad thing. I think it enrichens the character, makes her more vulnerable, relatable and "real". :)
     
  4. GotNoRice

    GotNoRice Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I feel like her character became too predictable. After the first few seasons it's almost like I could start predicting her response to most situations.

    I would have found things much more interesting if she took more of a "do anything to get the crew home" mentality sort of like Captain Ransom in Equinox, but instead we get the boring "good girl" portrayal where in most cases she would probably sacrifice the crew if it meant upholding the prime directive.
     
  5. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

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    We should also remember that Janeway was described as having a strong interest and aptitude for science. Essentially, she was a scientist first and a captain second. I am sure she would have excelled at a standard exploration mission in the Alpha Quadrant where she could really dive into the scientific aspects of the mission, with a starbase within warp distance to jump back to as soon as the mission was over. Being propelled all the way on the other side of the galaxy was a unique challenge not really suited for her strengths.
     
  6. Captain Kathryn

    Captain Kathryn Commodore Commodore

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    None of the other captains were stranded in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by enemies, and not able to call on Starfleet for help.

    I think they were trying to highlight that fact over and over by showing her being faced with decisions that no other captain had been faced with.

    Voyager was alone alone. Nobody was going to help or save them if things got tough (except in cases where temporary alliances were formed). Not all typical principles apply when you are faced with circumstances that constantly are going to trigger your own survival instinct and the instinct she has to protect her crew and eventually bring them home. No one else was faced with that. Forget commanding a starship...commanding a starship on the other side of the galaxy with no help is a completely different story.

    I think comparing Janeway to other captains is like comparing apples and oranges. Completely different circumstances.

    (That said, I am entirely biased because I love Janeway. :biggrin:)
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  7. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    I'm not sure if this was addressed to me or not (I'm the only one who cited specific Trek captains), but I'm not sure why it would affect how she received the opinions of the crew. Obviously, she should develop, becoming more confident in her decisions as the series progressed. It's not clear to me why she should then treat differences of opinion as challenges to her authority after working relationships with the crew, Federation and Maquis, had been well established.
     
  8. Captain Kathryn

    Captain Kathryn Commodore Commodore

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    ^^Nah, not specifically to you! :) A lot of people tend to compare her to other Trek captains (not specifically in this thread). It only irks me because her situation seems vastly different to me in comparison to other Trek captains and I think the difference in circumstance tends to get overlooked. Maybe saying that was not relevant to this thread so I apologize.

    I think you are probably right that perhaps her circumstance should not affect her interactions with her crew (taking into account their opinions, etc). But like everyone has noted, it WAS her first command. But I personally don't think that was the the crutch of her character. I think it was the unimaginable circumstances.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  9. Vulcan Logician

    Vulcan Logician Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    ^ Yeah, I agree, CK. People label her as "weak" or "inconsistent" but her burden was greater than any other Captains'. What I see when I watch VOY is a Captain trying to find a balance between getting her crew home safely and upholding the principles that she holds dear. Sometimes she bends her principles. Sometimes she starts to buckle under the pressure. This is all because she takes her burden so seriously. I appreciate the drama of it. Janeway is just awesome. If people can't see it, maybe they should get their eyes eyes checked.:):):)
     
  10. BruntFCA

    BruntFCA Commander Red Shirt

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    I think you're seeing something that isn't there TBH. The problem with your theory is that Janeway was pretty much always written as being in the right, even in "Hope and Fear" the audience is clearly supposed to support Janeway and see Arturis as the bad guy. The main reasons for the inconsistencies in the writing of Janeway are IMO, the numerous changes in show runner, and plot driving character.

    Didn't Mulgrew even comment once about how inconsistently Janeway was written?
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014
  11. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I don't get the impression Janeway was a bad captain. But I do get the impression the writers wanted to write the psychological effects of isolation but also didn't want to do it in a threatening or depressing way, so they made Janeway super-emotional and impulsive in some cases but super-ethical in others. That's why she comes off as emotional unstable, because the writers were so indecisive about what kind of show Voyager is.
     
  12. Khan444

    Khan444 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I think that the most likely explanation was simple writer's incompetence. They wanted to make a "strong female character," but apparently didn't know what that actually entails. In their attempts to make her "strong" enough for the audience to take seriously (at least that's what they were TRYING to do), they unintentionally make her look incompetent. Their attempts to make her "strong" often made her look weak, heartless, arrogant, narcissistic, and sometimes borderline psychotic. This isn't Mulgrew's fault, her acting was fine.
     
  13. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I always took the inconsistencies in her character to be poor/tired writing, falling back on clich├ęs (she's a female captain so she must be motherly) and over-used ideas rather than trying to really develop her character more fully. There were moments when they did good work on her, I especially liked "Night", when she is locked in her quarters dealing with her self-doubts and self-critisism, but then the next writer would have her swing off the handle.

    Inconsistency was a major problem with VOY in all, its just a shame when it affected the characters.
     
  14. USS Triumphant

    USS Triumphant Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Speaking of which, if this is a reasonably popular fan theory about Janeway, as Lance said, has anyone ever asked Mulgrew about it?
     
  15. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Mulgrew was apparently as frustrated as everyone else was at how inconsistently the Captain was being written. So I don't think she has probably rationalized it in these terms.

    But speaking personally, I like this theory (which I have heard being put forward quite a few times around the internet) a lot better than the OTHER popular internet fan theory: that Janeway was bipolar.
     
  16. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    I can't remember any interview in which she goes into the specifics of her character. While proud of Janeway, Mulgrew does seem to say much about Janeway as a feminist icon beyond being "in the captain's chair." After watching the Shatner interviews, I feel that Mulgrew's experiences as both actress and family head are much more interesting than the character she played.

    Personally, I think she did "give her best," even if Action! Janeway was not her cup of tea. However, I never felt she was involved in the character as Brooks was with his. I think the character could have better reflected Mulgrew's personal experiences and interests. I also wish she hadn't smoked: her acting seemed less dynamic because of it.
     
  17. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A little off-topic, but I've always felt it would have been better, conceptually, if Janeway had started the series as Voyager's first officer and the Captain had been killed in the first episode. Could have made some of the inter-crew conflicts more vibrant. Of course, the whole inter-crew conflict concept was abandoned pretty early.
     
  18. Captain Kathryn

    Captain Kathryn Commodore Commodore

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    I have heard of a lot of people wanting that, but I never wanted that personally. I prefer Janeway as just the captain...always!

    Like I said before though, I am biased... :D
     
  19. hux

    hux Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So if Picard and the Enterprise crew had been sent to the Delta quadrant, you believe they would have reacted the same way?...i honestly don't...i think their obvious experience would have been more noticeable

    When i think of "Q Who" and the way Picard admits they are out of their depth dealing with the Borg and they are very scared and he almost tearfully begs Q to help them escape.....i try and picture Janeway doing that and i just can't...there's just something about her....that unbending, arrogant superiority....i dunno...she'd probably take it personally and tell Q to "go to hell"

    Then again, when i think of "Allegiance"....the way the Enterprise crew begin to question Picards behaviour and the sense that they will back Riker if the time comes....i don't see that being possible with the Voyager crew and Chakotay......the fact that he is Marquis and presumably a lot of the crew don't fully trust him basically means that Janeway has no real anchor who can genuinely talk her down....perhaps that only further exacerbated her isolation and increased her tendency for unilateral leadership (maybe it was a mistake not to have Tuvok as first officer)

    As someone who works in mental health, i think a "personality disorder" would be a better diagnosis
     
  20. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^ You know what the internet is like. Chances are that the sort of people who use the term 'bipolar' to so casually describe a fictional television character are doing it wrong. ;) Kind of like how there are people who keep misappropriating the word "Schizophrenia" to mean something that it actually really ISN'T in real life.