The Continuity and Serialization of Voyager

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Voyager' started by DigificWriter, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 20, 2001
    West Haven, UT, USA
    Hi, all. I have recently begun watching Voyager in its entirety after having originally seen much of the series in syndication, having read all but one of Christie Golden and Kirsten Beyer's continuation novels, and having listened to many of the To the Journey podcast discussions, and have reached the firm conclusion that, despite various claims to the contrary, there is a great deal of serialization and continuity to the series that gets largely overlooked, and have decided to post some in-depth analyses of the continuity and serialization of the series and how both of these things relate to and/or are affected by the producer mandate that things by and large be 'reset' at the conclusion of each episode.

    The first thing I'm going to talk about is the issue of in-universe story continuity.

    Although things were, as noted, largely 'reset' at the conclusion of any given episode, there is nevertheless a sense of forward progression and sequential development that is primarily manifest in the form of character development and progression and that actually belies the desires of the producers to be able to have the series syndicated in any order.

    Several good examples of this from very early on in the series are the evolution of the 'crew dynamic' in the episodes Caretaker, Parallax, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto, and Prime Factors, which manifests as follows:
    * Janeway and Chakotay announce their intent to merge the Voyager and Valjean crews into one and Janeway allows Neelix and Kes to stay onboard (Caretaker)
    * As the process of actually creating a single crew out of two begins to be put into practice, tensions and friction arises but is ultimately resolved - at least temporarily - through crisis (Parallax, Time and Again, Phage, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Emanations, Prime Factors)
    * Neelix and Kes try to acclimate themselves to Voyager and ' find' themselves a place among her crew, sometimes awkwardly, with Kes ultimately becoming the ship's unofficial 'gardener' and chief nurse (thanks to forming a friendship with The Doctor) and Neelix ultimately becoming the ship's unofficial chef and 'morale officer' (Parallax, Phage, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto, Emanations)
    * Thanks to Kes, The Doctor ceases to be thought of - and think of himself - as just a 'temporary medical tool' and instead as a valued and valuable full-time crew member (Time and Again, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto)
    * Tom and Harry's friendship starts to gel as Tom tries to get Harry to help him pick up women, specifically the Delaney sisters, and they work together on different projects (Caretaker, Time and Again, Ex Post Facto)
    * Janeway begins to let her guard down and get to know her crew as a whole (Parallax, Time and Again, The Cloud, Eye of the Needle, Ex Post Facto, Emanations, Prime Factors)

    There are other examples from much later in the series that I don't have time to delve into in depth, but they include the gradual development of Tom and B'Elanna's romance, the crew's search for ways to shorten their journey home, and the progressive evolution of The Doctor's program, abilities, and individuality.

    With regards to serialization, each of the seasons has a common element or theme that is revisited or that is running through any given number of episodes and that serves to 'unite' the episodes of a particular season together, as follows:
    Season One
    The first season of the series is focused on the Starfleet and Maquis crew and their passengers/alien guests coming together, their search for resources and ways to get home, and on their encounters with various Delta Quadrant races, inhabitants, and phenomena, and on the development and progression of the show's main characters.

    Season Two
    Season Two is largely focused on both internal and external threats posed to the ship and her crew in the form of Seska and the Kazon, Michael Jonas, and the Vidiians, and the ways in which the stress caused by these threats begins to unravel the crew's sense of togetherness and cohesion, juxtaposed against the expansion of the crew and the establishment or continued development of various character relationships.

    Season Three
    Season Three begins to set the stage for the primary over-arching conflict between Voyager's crew and the Borg that will ultimately come to define and feature heavily in the show's remaining seasons, and introduces new character dynamics and antagonists as well, such as the introduction of possible romance between Tom and B'Elanna, the Krenim, and a return encounter with Q.

    Season Four
    Season Four is primarily focused on integrating Seven of Nine into both the show and the crew, on shortening the distance between the ship and Earth, on establishing the crew as a family and their surroundings as 'home', and on reconnecting the ship with Starfleet, which leads directly to the introduction of a dangerous new antagonist in the form of the Hirogen. Conflict also brews between Voyager and Species 8472 independent of the latter's issues with the Borg.

    Season 5
    Season 5 is focused primarily on introducing some gritty and grim elements into the show in the form of character development for various characters, moral quandaries as embodied by the likes of the Malon and the Equinox crew, and the return in force of the Borg.

    Season 6
    Season 6 is a 'rebuilding' season of sorts, focusing primarily on character development, the introduction of new characters and antagonists, and the return of familiar ally and antagonist races and characters such as the Hirogen, the Klingons, the Borg, Kes, and Reginald Barclay, and on furthering the shortening of the ship's journey back to the Alpha Quadrant.

    Season 7
    Season 7 is focused primarily on resolving or revisiting story threads, encounters with familiar races, and character relationships from the previous six seasons, and on concluding the ship's journey with a successful return to Earth. The season also introduces a few new races and character dynamics, such as the Quarren and the romantic relationship between Seven and Chakotay.
  2. KaraBear

    KaraBear Captain Captain

    Jul 22, 2013
    I think that was very well said. Many episodes of Voyager can be taken as stand alones, there aren't realy any sweeping story arcs other than their overall quest to get home. But that doesn't mean there aren't mini-arcs, or threads that run through each episode. Having watched through the series many times they are pretty clear.
  3. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 20, 2001
    West Haven, UT, USA
    The producers might've wanted to create a series in Voyager that could be syndicated out of order, but the episodes that were being written and the stories that were being told do not, in the end, mesh with that idea even though things do by and large end up 'back in the box' after nearly every episode.

    I have and will continue to view Voyager as being the Star Trek equivalent of a 'serialized procedural', where you have a series that IS episodic, but that still has a 'through-line' of serialization and serialized elements running through it.

    IOW, people might talk about how Voyager doesn't have any continuity or serialization and that the producers designed it that way, but the reality of the situation is that there is in fact a 'proper' order in which to view the series, an order that is as follows:

    Season 1
    1x01/1x02: Caretaker
    1x03: Parallax
    1x04: Time and Again
    1x05: Phage
    1x06: The Cloud
    1x07: Eye of the Needle
    1x08: Ex Post Facto
    1x09: Emanations
    1x10: Prime Factors
    1x11: State of Flux
    1x12: Heroes and Demons
    1x13: Cathexis
    1x14: Faces
    1x15: Jetrel
    1x16: Learning Curve
    1x17: Projections
    1x18: Elogium
    1x19: Twisted
    1x20: The 37s

    Season 2
    2x01: Initiations
    2x02: Non Sequitur
    2x03: Paruition
    2x04: Persistence of Vision
    2x05: Tattoo
    2x06: Cold Fire
    2x07: Maneuvers
    2x08: Resistance
    2x09: Prototype
    2x10: Death Wish
    2x11: Alliances
    2x12: Threshold
    2x13: Meld
    2x14: Dreadnought
    2x15: Investigations
    2x16: Lifesigns
    2x17: Deadlock
    2x18: Innocence
    2x19: The Thaw
    2x20: Tuvix
    2x21: Resolutions
    2x22: Basics, Part 1

    Season 3
    3x01: Basics, Part 2
    3x02: Sacred Ground
    3x03: False Profits
    3x04: Flashback
    3x05: The Chute
    3x06: Remember
    3x07: The Swarm
    3x08: Future's End, Part 1
    3x09: Future's End, Part 2
    3x10: Warlord
    3x11: The Q and the Gray
    3x12: Macrocosm
    3x13: Alter Ego
    3x14: Fair Trade
    3x15: Blood Fever
    3x16: Coda
    3x17: Unity
    3x18: Rise
    3x19: Darkling
    3x20: Favorite Son
    3x21: Before and After
    3x22: Real Life
    3x23: Distant Origins
    3x24: Displaced
    3x25: Worst Case Scenario
    3x26: Scorpion, Part 1

    Season 4
    4x01: Scorpion, Part 2
    4x02: The Gift
    4x03: Nemesis
    4x04: Day of Honor
    4x05: Revulsion
    4x06: The Raven
    4x07: Scientific Method
    4x08: Year of Hell, Part 1
    4x09: Year of Hell, Part 2
    4x10: Random Thoughts
    4x11: Concerning Flight
    4x12: Mortal Coil
    4x13: Message in a Bottle
    4x14: Waking Moments
    4x15: Hunters
    4x16: Prey
    4x17: Retrospect
    4x18: The Killing Game, Part1
    4x19: The Killing Game, Part 2
    4x20: Vis a Vis
    4x21: The Omega Directive
    4x22: Unforgettable
    4x23: Living Witness
    4x24: Demon
    4x25: One
    4x26: Hope and Fear

    Season 5
    5x01: Night
    5x02: Drone
    5x03: Extreme Risk
    5x04: In the Flesh
    5x05: Once Upon a Time
    5x06: Nothing Human
    5x07/: Timeless
    5x08: Thirty Days
    5x09: Infinite Regress
    5x10: Counterpoint
    5x11: Gravity
    5x12: Latent Image
    5x13: Bride of Chaotica!
    5x14: The Fight
    5x15: Bliss
    5x16: The Disease
    5x17/5x18: Dark Frontier
    5x19: Course: Oblivion
    5x20: Think Tank
    5x21: Juggernaught
    5x22: Someone to Watch Over Me
    5x23: 11:59
    5x24: Relativity
    5x25: Warhead
    5x26: Equinox, Part 1

    Season 6
    6x01: Equinox, Part 2
    6x02: Survival Instinct
    6x03: Barge of the Dead
    6x04: Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy
    6x05: Dragon's Teeth
    6x06: Alice
    6x07: Riddles
    6x08: One Small Step
    6x09: The Voyager Conspiracy
    6x10: Pathfinder
    6x11: Fair Haven
    6x12: Tsunkatse
    6x13: Blink of an Eye
    6x14: Virtuoso
    6x15: Collective
    6x16: Memorial
    6x17: Spirit Folk
    6x18: Ashes to Ashes
    6x19: Child's Play
    6x20: Good Shepherd
    6x21: Fury
    6x22: Live Fast and Prosper
    6x23: Life Line
    6x24: Muse
    6x25: The Haunting of Deck 12
    6x26: Unimatrix Zero, Part 1

    Season 7
    7x01: Unimatrix Zero, Part 2
    7x02: Imperfection
    7x03: Drive
    7x04: Critical Care
    7x05: Repression
    7x06: Inside Man
    7x07/7x08: Flesh and Blood
    7x09: Body and Soul
    7x10: Nightingale
    7x11: Shattered
    7x12: Lineage
    7x13: Repentance
    7x14: Prophecy
    7x15: The Void
    7x16: Workforce, Part 1
    7x17: Workforce, Part 2
    7x18: Human Error
    7x19: Q2
    7x20: Author, Author
    7x21: Friendship One
    7x22: Natural Law
    7x23: Homestead
    7x24: Renaissance Man
    7x25/7x26: Endgame
  4. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Apr 15, 2000
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    This is how Voyager was written.

    The producer decides who gets to be the star of each episode for half a season. Rings a mate, asks for a pitch, and then puts their name on the white board that Writer X is going to write a character Y story that will be be delivered in the next 1 to 2 months. The producer makes 12 of these phone calls or has actual lunch meetings in the course of a week or two. So you have half a season being written by 8 to 10 different writers who are completely isolated from each other and have no idea what the others are doing.

    When all those scripts are finally handed in, it's the Producer and the writers room job to rewrite those scripts so that they appear to have a consistent linear progression, while in general, just making them "better" and risen to the Berman standard of excellence.

    A lot of good TV was made like this.

    And I'm not saying that a good producer can't create the illusion of continuity from a hodge podge, but you know my feelings on this subject.
  5. garaks the best

    garaks the best Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Feb 9, 2013
    There was hardly any continuity with voyager and here are some early examples where other shows would have followed up on plots

    1)kes and neelix's breakup in warlord was not followed up on properly at all, i mean other than when she was being controlled by that guy we didn't even get to see her actually break up with him.

    2)The swarm was another episode where the ending should have presented a change in the doctor because of his memory loss but if you had never seen the episode you wouldn't have been able to tell because it was never focused on again.

    3)Janeway and tom have sex and had little lizard babies but nothing is ever mentioned of it again. You would expect a certain degree of awkwardness and maybe a debate over whether chakotay should have been allowed to leave their children on that planet without even consulting them.

    Other example where they tried continuity but gave up were the kazon who got no resolution just because fans didn't like them.
  6. KaraBear

    KaraBear Captain Captain

    Jul 22, 2013
    they might not have followed up on a few things but if you watch the show there are plenty of arcs that go through multiple episodes, character development, friendships developing, romances blossoming, spies and traitors on the ship, aliens that appear multiple times. There might not be large sweeping arcs but there are many little ones if people can just look past the overall general hate of Voyager
  7. garaks the best

    garaks the best Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Feb 9, 2013
    I don't hate voyager it just frustrates me a little.I really like the doctor,tuvok and most of the time janeway.:)
  8. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 20, 2001
    West Haven, UT, USA
    Not resolving certain things or not revisiting certain things is not the same thing as a lack of continuity.

    There are things that they seemingly abandon or that aren't resolved, but, when you look at the series as a whole, there is actually a continuity being established, albeit in a much different fashion than you see with a show such as DS9.

    We can argue/debate about how well Voyager maintains and builds its continuity based on and in relation to its more episodic nature, but that's an entirely different argument/debate than the common perception that the series lacks any continuity at all.

    I just listened to the Literary Treks podcast discussion/interview with Kirsten Beyer, and one of the reasons she's as successful as she has been in writing her Voyager novels is because she's been able to draw on an extensive knowledge and understanding of the series as it was aired, and if it were as devoid of continuity and serialization as is the common perception, the things that she does with the characters and the stories that she tells would not seem as organic and 'true' as they do.

    I grew up watching TNG and DS9, but when you look at the post-series TNG novels, they have a much different 'feel' to them than the series itself because TNG was almost exclusively episodic. Things aren't so radically different that the post-series TNG novels don't read like the TNG that we're familiar with, but they do do things with the characters that, by and large, the series itself never did. You could pick up any one of the post-series TNG novels without ever having seen the show or any of its related movies and get a very clear and developing picture of the characters and the universe they inhabit, but the way the post-series Voyager novels, particularly Beyer's, are written, you do need at least a passing knowledge of the series and its characters, which again belies this perception that the series lacks continuity and serialization.
  9. KaraBear

    KaraBear Captain Captain

    Jul 22, 2013
    there are some great multi-episode arcs:

    • "State of Flux
    • "Maneuvers
    • "Alliances
    • "Lifesigns
    • "Investigations
    • "Basics, Part I
    • "Basics, Part II
    • "Worst Case Scenario
    • "Shattered
    Q Civil War
    • "Death Wish
    • "The Q and the Grey
    • "Q2
    The Hirogen's Hunt
    • "Message in a Bottle
    • "Hunters
    • "Prey
    • "The Killing Game
    • "The Killing Game, Part II
    • "Flesh and Blood
    The Pathfinder Project
    • "Pathfinder
    • "Life Line
    • "Inside Man
    • "Author, Author
  10. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 20, 2001
    West Haven, UT, USA
    I'd add Parallax and Prime Factors to the Seska arc and Message in a Bottle to the Pathfinder Project arc.

    Time-travel episodes are also a rather significant part of Voyager's continuity and serialization, particularly the two-parters Future's End and Year of Hell, the Kes-centric episodes Before and After and Fury, the episodes Timeless and Relativity, and the finale Endgame.
  11. KaraBear

    KaraBear Captain Captain

    Jul 22, 2013
    you could also include the "journey home arc" any episode in which they got a bump or explored some alternate way home
  12. DigificWriter

    DigificWriter Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 20, 2001
    West Haven, UT, USA
    ^ Getting home is more of the overall premise of the series rather than an 'arc' per se, but you could very easily have a coherent and fulfilling experience watching the show if the only episodes you watched were the ones that most directly impacted that premise.
  13. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 20, 2007
    inside teacake
    The time travel arc with Braxton is my favorite, I love that it takes place over several seasons.
  14. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 11, 2006
    Moncton, NB
    That the show didn't really have a plot is part of what hurt it. "Going Home" is far too nebulous to really work as a plot, and it's not really that sustainable in the first place.

    What Voyager really needed were plots that could drive the series and be accomplished without ending the show.
  15. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Apr 15, 2000
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    Two "stories" is not an arc, and it really doesn't count since they had to recast.

    And did they really have to recast?

    Was Bruce McGill such a "get" that they didn't even check in on the original Braxton?
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2013
  16. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 20, 2007
    inside teacake
  17. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Apr 15, 2000
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    Mountain out of a mole hill.

    If I get a pimple in just the right place, I sill don't have three nipples.

    From memory alpha.

    Part two of the arc is Futures End part 2. Part two of the arc is therefore the same "story" as part one, and therefore a cheat.

    3 episodes is minimum, but still that's a bullshit pisspoor arc imho.
  18. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 20, 2007
    inside teacake
    So when I say that the stories Braxton was a part of are some of my favorites I am not allowed to use the word "arc" because of.. math?
  19. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Apr 15, 2000
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    Well you can lie to yourself.

    Or you can claim that because he "cleaned up" that shit Harold wrought in Timeless, that the did in fact have three stories, even though we're not sure "which" actor didn't play play Braxton in the episode he was only meta-ly in.

  20. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jan 20, 2007
    inside teacake
    I don't think changing actors has anything to do with whether something is an arc. We don't talk about the three different Ziyals as being part of different stories.