Captain Kathryn Janeway (played by Kate Mulgrew) continues to lead her intrepid crew through the Delta Quadrant in Star Trek Voyager Season 5 Already about halfway home at the beginning of the series, Voyager still has over 30 light years to go before getting home to the Alpha Quadrant.
After generally improving all through Season 4, Star Trek Voyager Season 5 seemed to waver a bit in quality. This is not uncommon in longer series, especially those which are somewhat open-ended (meaning the producers want it to run as long as they can make money from it). The episodes which stood out this time were “Nothing Human”, “Night”, “In the Flesh”, and “Dark Frontier”. They helped pull the season together.
In “Nothing Human”, B’Elanna finds herself the unwilling host to a symbiotic—and possibly intelligent—scorpion-like alien. The Doctor consults a holographic reconstruction of a Cardassian war criminal who was a brilliant doctor, but who also tortured and killed many Bajorans during the war as part of his experiments. The writers did a great job showing the conflict of the Doctor, torn between a guaranteed cure for B’Elanna and possibly losing her. It reminded me a lot of such discussions about data collected from Nazi and Japanese wartime experiments. This episode gets you right in the ethics.
One of the main sub-themes through Star Trek Voyager is that Captain Janeway refuses to compromise her principles in order to get home more quickly. Several times in the series, the crew is presented such possibilities, and the refuse every time. The same is true in the episode “Night”: Accept help from an apparently-benevolent alien race, or help the possibly-dangerous-but-maybe-just-understood really weird alien race? I make a big deal of this here because this comes into play again in the final season.
Every season, there is at least one two-part episode (in addition to the almost-inevitable season ending two-parter). In Star Trek Voyager Season 5, “Dark Frontier” is that episode. For those who love the Borg, this episode is Borgalicious. The Borg Queen convinces Seven of Nine to return to the collective, and Captain Janeway and the crew try to find a way to get her back. I found this episode very reminiscent of many conflicts we go through as humans. Having to choose whether to stay in an ultimately-destructive situation, or move on with people who are willing to lay it all on the line for you because they care about you, personally. I really liked this episode.
Finally, with “In the Flesh”, we run into Species 8472 again. This time, they are studying and simulating human life in order to find ways to defeat the (in their minds) inevitable human invasion of fluidic space. While this episode is not really spectacular in many ways, I though the handling of the human-alien learning curve was done especially well. Seeing things from the perspective of the extremely dangerous and powerful Species 8472 was refreshing, and helped to “humanize” them.
As an odd bit of actor-typing, I couldn’t help but snicker every time I saw Kurros (played by Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame) in the episode “Think Tank”. I think his smile reminded me more of George Costanza than anything else, despite the makeup job. I just couldn’t take the character seriously. The episode itself wasn’t that bad, but…it was George!
In the end, Star Trek Voyager Season 5 was a fairly average season, hampered by several episodes which were only ho-hum. The majority of the episodes were worthy of at least three stars, though, which made the entire season enjoyable.
Original Air Dates: October 14, 1998 – May 26, 1999 (USA)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-PG
Network: UPN (United Paramount Network)
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (some social drinking)
Language: 1 (occasional minor and deity)
Sexuality: 1 (implied sex, some romantic relationships)
Violence: 2 (regular science fiction fighting, space battles, deaths, nothing graphic)