Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S01E01 – Caretaker, Part I

In the first episode of the first season of Voyager, HOW ARE PEOPLE DYING ALREADY AND WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE AND I WANT JANEWAY TO DROPKICK ME INTO SPACE BECAUSE I’M SURE I’D ENJOY IT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual medical procedures. 

OH MY GOD I WASN’T READY WHAT IS THIS SHOW DOING TO ME.

If you happen to be a Voyager-only fan and have not participated in a Mark Watches before, PLEASE READ ALL OF THIS.

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Look, I don’t even know where to start with this episode. Star Trek: Voyager opens with UTTER ABSURDITY and EVERYONE DYING and THEY’RE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GALAXY and how did half the crew die in the first fucking episode. Much like how Deep Space Nine broke off of a storyline in The Next Generation, the story that provides the impetus for Voyager comes from the greater Star Trek  universe. I like that because it grounds the story in something I understand before we’re taken to something that is completely incomprehensible.

If you can’t determine how I feel about this from that, just know that I did love the weirdness of this all, and I think it’s a bold and fascinating way to introduce me to a bunch of characters. HALF OF WHOM DIED, BY THE WAY. I was so ready to accept Janeway’s crew as the one who left Deep Space Nine, and then THEY ARE DEAD, WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING. Prior to that twist, though, this felt very recognizable. Janeway and her crew were sent to track down a Maquis ship that went missing. Big deal, right? It’s not exactly a new concept for a Star Trek show, though I can’t ignore the few things that were new and shiny in the opening moments of “Caretaker.” There’s the Voyager, which looks like a stretched out version of the Enterprise. Its bridge is SUPER NICE and thankfully has a much, much different design than anything we’ve seen before. We’ve also got OUR FIRST WOMAN AS CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP AND DO YOU REALIZE HOW AWESOME THIS IS. Of course you do. All of you do.

Oh, Janeway, what is there to say about you? You could punch me in the face and I’d rave about you. This pilot episode shows us that she’s a no-nonsense leader while also not doing that thing where women aren’t allowed to have emotions or be sensitive because apparently some writers think you can’t have both qualities in a woman character. (AHEM.) She has a loving partner that she adores, and she’s a thoughtful person. We can see this from just one half of the episode! She’s the only person aside from Harry Kim who even treats Tom like an actual human being.

I also find Tom intriguing because he’s such a strange and unexpected addition to the grew. He’s a disgraced Starfleet officer! Well, he used to be part of Starfleet, until some sort of accident got him kicked out, and then he joined up with the Maquis, only to be captured by Starfleet ON LITERALLY HIS FIRST MISSION. He’s got the worst luck imaginable, so I’m not surprised that he’s… angry? Bitter? See, I’m uncomfortable labeling him that way because I feel like there’s more to him than this, you know? I know so little of his backstory at this point, and part of the reason he’s so brusque is because even when he’s trying to be polite, the other people are downright, openly rude to him. How should he react in response to that? I wonder how much of the Maquis’s philosophy will be discussed on this show because I really, really want more of it in Star Trek, especially since sometimes I feel like the writers aren’t going far enough with it.

Up next: Harry Kim, the wide-eyed, hopeful Operations officer, who gets a hell of an introduction WITH QUARK ALONGSIDE HIM. This is his very first assignment, and it just so happens he got one of the most dangerous ones imaginable: a trip to the Badlands to recover a lost Maquis ship. Yet even in the little time he’s got here, we can already see that innocence peeling away. Granted, this is a pretty horrifying first mission, so I’ll blame that. But his interactions with Tom Paris prove that he’s not naïve, just unprepared.

TUVOK. OH MY GOD, A BLACK VULCAN WHO IS THE HEAD OF SECURITY AND CLEARLY SUPER GOOD FRIENDS WITH JANEWAY. IT’S LIKE THE KIRK/SPOCK DYNAMIC, EXCEPT IT MAKES RACISTS AND MISOGYNISTS REALLY MAD. I LOVE IT ALREADY.

And then there’s… who else? I think The Doctor counts as a permanent crew member… maybe??? (I HOPE SO.) The chief medical officer dies, as does the first officer and the helmswoman, and HOW THE HELL IS ALL OF THIS HAPPENING IN THE FIRST EPISODE? We find out that some thing – which Janeway refers to as the Array – pulled both the Maquis ship and Voyager 70,000 light years away, all so that some being inside it could kidnap them, test them for something, and then return them to their ships. Well, it’s more complicated than that, obviously. There’s the holographic “waiting room” that the Array provides, which is the creepiest estimation of human pleasure I’ve ever seen. NO, HOLOGRAPHIC OLD WOMAN, I WILL NOT TAKE YOUR FAKE CORN ON THE COB. That is stranger danger if I have ever seen it, y’all. (How many of you were indoctrinated by this when you grew up? It was an integral part of my childhood.) Then, we discover that the being who grabbed these people is too lazy to send them back. LITERALLY. Apparently, it’s too COMPLICATED. You pulled them through and that wasn’t too complicated. WHAT GIVES???

We have no idea why Harry or B’Elanna are being kept inside the Array or what makes them special or what disease they have. We don’t know what “debt” the being needs to repay. What are those energy pulses? Where are they being sent? Is that meaningful? What the hell is the Array for? What is the title of this episode referring to? HOW DARE THIS PREMIERE GET SPLIT IN HALF, THIS IS SO RUDE.

The video for “Caretaker, Part I” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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One Response to Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S01E01 – Caretaker, Part I

  1. Ashley says:

    JANEWAY. I have been waiting so long for you to get to her, Mark. I love her so much.

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