When the nicest thing anyone can say about your two-hour series finale is "well, at least it's over," you know something has gone horribly wrong. A future version of Captain Janeway travels back in time to personify deus ex machina, ram-rodding the series to conclusion with out-of-character rage and unexplained technological gimmicks. "Admiral" Janeway's plot devices suddenly make the Borg a (once again) surprisingly pwn-able threat while Voyager uses their transwarp technology to skip instantly home. Rather than the slow build-up to a satisfying seven-year conclusion, we get a slap-dash resolution guaranteed to not in any way resemble a larger plot arc (or interfere with running episodes out of order in syndicated reruns).
Adding insult to injury, future Janeway is motivated by a string of plot elements that would have made the last season (or three) of Voyager far more compelling: Tuvok is going insane, crew members are dying, Chakotay and Seven of Nine have a doomed romance, the Doctor wants a family. Where was all of this potential for the last seven years? When more interesting changes happen in the least two hours of your series than happened in the last 22 episodes, you clearly aren't winning. Game. Over.4. "The Thaw"
The old "everyone is trapped in a computer simulation" saw is revisited, with the added twist of somehow wasting the talent of This Is Spinal Tap's Michael McKean. Team Voyager discovers a planet that put all its inhabitants into a cheap ripoff of the Matrix in order to sit out an ice age. Rather than obey the Prime Directive, the away team decides to wake the aliens up. Only they can't, so Starfleet's finest double down on the dumb by sending Torres and Kim into said Matrix, where they discover McKean playing a clown who is also the personification of fear (Steven King's It, anyone?) holding all the natives hostage.
A little PG-level torture later and the Doctor arrives to confuse the id-clown while the crew escapes, seeing as it's somehow easy to pipe a hologram into a shared mind-link even though the whole point is that the Doctor doesn't have brainwaves said id-clown can read. The good news is this isn't the first time the Doctor's holographic nature is used as a cure-all for plot contrivances, so the audience is used to it. This is also the bad news. Tears of a clown, indeed.3. "The Fight"
Remember when we trashed the whole premise behind the NextGen episode "Night Terrors"? It doesn't get any better when Voyager blatantly rips it off. This time it's Chakotay, not Troi, who is the only one who can communicate with a group of aliens trapped in the same interstellar sand trap as the ship. Oh, and instead of confabbing via dreams, Chakotay's almost-always-ignored Native American heritage is exploited to make the alien hotline dependent on vision quests. Unfortunately, in these quests, Chakotay has to box -- maybe Rocky Balboa is his spirit animal -- putting his life in danger. And, because not enough weirdness is going on, Chakotay's imaginary boxing trainer is Boothby (actor Ray Walston), the Starfleet Academy groundskeeper who mentored Picard back in NextGen. Taking multiple blows to the head is more pleasant -- and more coherent -- than this episode. Throw in the towel, now.2. "Fair Haven"
No longer content with stealing from any single NextGen episode, "Fair Haven" rips off three (or four) -- and we're not talking "Best of Both Worlds" here, either. First, the blatant Irish caricatures that made "Up The Long Ladder" such a painful experience return in the township of Fair Haven, a holodeck-hosted tourist spot the crew hangs out in while riding out some kind of hurricane in space. Janeway proceeds to fall in love with one of the holo-stereotypes, bringing back memories of the Leah Brahms-Geordi affair in "Booby Trap". The crew also gets unnaturally attached to the citizens, much like Barclay did in "Hollow Pursuits", except that there's the implication these programs are more than the sum of their parts -- just like Professor Moriarty in "Elementary, Dear Data." It all adds up to a lot of imitation, and an hour of Janeway, Chakotay, and the Doctor expounding on loneliness and ethics. It's every bit as dull and pedantic as it sounds. Have none of it, I tells ya.
Referred to unfondly as "the salamander episode," "Threshold" mindlessly mines a trio of NextGen tropes to cobble together a final concept that's flat-out awful. Tom Paris thinks he's found a way to break the Warp 10 barrier (Wesley Crusher in "Where No One Has Gone Before"), and demands to test the concept on a modified shuttle despite every medical and technical reason not to. Janeway lets him, the test apparently fails, and then Tom wakes up allergic to water. Apparently he's rapidly evolving into a new life form (Geordi in "Identity Crisis"), then violently claims Janeway as his mate (Worf with Troi in "Genesis") whom he kidnaps to a remote planet. When Voyager finally catches up, Paris and Janeway have not only become weird giant pink salamanders, they've bred three baby lizard-lings already. The Doctor cures the crew members, but leaves Paris and Janeway's "kids" on the planet to live out their lonely, inbred lives. An episode so blandly bad that producer Brannon Braga called it a "royal, steaming stinker." Don't cross this "Threshold", cross it off your list.
Got a Voyager fan-crime you think outranks these trans-galactic train wrecks? Share it in the comments section.Check out these related Geekend posts:
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Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.