This month marks the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: Voyager, the saga of a lost Federation starship in a distant corner of the galaxy trying to make its way home. Ever since the third Star Trek spinoff made its debut on the UPN channel it’s been considered as an inferior Star Trek show. That is a somewhat unfair claim, although many episodes were formulaic there were many that were worthy of the Star Trek name. These are twenty of the best episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
20. “The Chute” Voyager crewmembers Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) and Harry Kim (Garrett Wang) undergo a harrowing ordeal while being held prisoner in brutal space prison.
19. “Lineage” B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) grapples with accepting her half Klingon heritage during her pregnancy since she doesn’t want her unborn daughter to face the same persecution she underwent as a child.
18. “The Thaw” Harry and B’Elanna are mentally trapped in a virtual reality by a malicious clown computer program (Michael McKean), who tortures them to gain release from its cyber trap.
17. “Maneuvers” First Officer Chakotay (Robert Beltran) tries to track down his former lover Seska (Martha Hackett) and her Kazon colleagues after they raid the Voyager and steal transporter technology.
16. “Scorpion, Parts 1 and 2”An exciting two-parter introduced the popular Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) as the Voyager is forced into an uneasy alliance with the evil cybernetic Borg against an even deadlier threat–Species 8472.
15. “Relativity” Seven of Nine is recruited by a Federation starship crew from the distant future. Her mission: travel through different time periods to prevent the destruction of the Voyager.
14. “Latent Image” The ship’s Emergency Medical Hologram (EMH) a.k.a. The Doctor (Robert Picardo) discovers that for some reason certain parts of his memories are being erased. His investigations lead to uncovering a tragic moment in his past and his reaction afterwards was very engrossing to watch.
13. “Basics, Parts I and 2” The crew of the Federation starship Voyager have a final conflict with the barbaric Kazons, who coveted the advanced Starfleet ship and its technology. This two-part episode had many thrilling moments and cliffhangers as most of the Voyager crew were defeated and stranded on a primitive world.
12. “Equinox, Parts 1 and 2” The Voyager comes to the aid of another Federation starship also stranded in the distant Delta Quadrant. What is supposed to be a joyous occasion at encountering kindred spirits turns into conflict when the Voyager crew learns of the other crew’s unethical actions against an alien race.
11. “Dark Frontier” Seven of Nine’s background is explored as Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) leads efforts to steal Borg technology that will hasten their journey home. During a pivotal raid, Seven is captured by the Borg, who plan a biotech attack on humanity. Meanwhile, Janeway mounts a rescue mission.
10. “Hope and Fear” The sudden appearance of an advanced, unmanned, supposed Federation starship could be the means to finish the Voyager crew’s years-long voyage home or a trap. Guest star Ray Wise excelled in his role as a tortured alien whose race was assimilated by the Borg.
9. “Blink of an Eye” The Voyager is trapped in orbit around a planet with a dense gravitational field. So what passes for hours on Voyager is actually centuries for the planet’s inhabitants, which means that the ship becomes part of that planet’s history as its people advance technologically and socially.
8. “Before and After” An elderly, dying Kes (Jennifer Lien) in the future begins to travel backwards in time to many events including her birth. Among the fascinating future moments explored included a foreshadowing of the Voyager crew’s encounter with the Krenim.
7. “Distant Origin” The premise that some dinosaurs on Earth actually evolved into a spacefaring race was intriguing enough. But this episode’s first contact scenario smartly focused on an allegory of Galileo’s plight as scientific progress and knowledge conflicted with societal and religious dogma.
6. “Deadlock” After going through a technobabble anomaly the Voyager and its crew are duplicated, but both ships are attached to each other. Events dictate that only one ship and crew can survive, but which one? The episode was a novel way of resetting the status quo after disastrous events without using time travel.
5. “Message in a Bottle” The Doctor is transmitted to an advanced Starfleet prototype ship in the Alpha Quadrant in order to make contact with the Federation. Once there, he must join forces with that ship’s EMH Mark 2 (Andy Dick) to fight off Romulans, who have captured the ship.
4. “Course: Oblivion” In this tragic episode, things seem fine at first onboard Voyager. Tom and B’Elanna get married and the ship will reach Earth in a two years. However, it’s soon discovered that the ship is deteriorating, as well as the people onboard. After realizing that they and the ship are just copies of the actual Voyager and crew, it’s a race against time to seek help before it’s too late.
3. “Bride of Chaotica!” A wonderful and whimsical tribute to old sci-fi serials in the tradition of Flash Gordon has the Voyager crew coming to the aid of photonic, extra-dimensional aliens, who are at war with the evil fictional characters from Tom’s holodeck program The Adventures of Captain Proton. Hilarity ensues as the crew assume the overdramatic roles of the program and endure old sci-fi clichés.
2. “Living Witness” In the far future on another planet, a copy of the Doctor is activated by a museum curator (Henry Woronicz), who is fascinated by the “warship” Voyager’s visit to his planet in the distant past. Appalled at the gross inaccuracies about the visit and the Voyager crew, who are shown to be basically space pirates, it’s up to the Doctor to clear his former comrades’ names for history’s sake.
1. “Year of Hell, Parts 1 and 2” Star Trek: Voyager had many epic two-part episodes and this one wasn’t only the best of those, but the best episode for the entire series. The Voyager passes through a region of space controlled by the despotic Krenim. Janeway and the crew soon find out that the Krenim uses time as a weapon by altering timelines. Leading these alterations is Arronax (Kurtwood Smith) a Captain Nemo type obsessed with time tinkering. Over the course of a year, the Voyager is badly damaged and falling apart, but Janeway must find a way to defeat Arronax. “Year of Hell” was riveting and presented a gritty view of a desperate Voyager crew on their own, plus Smith gave a great performance as the tortured Arronax.
Honorable Mentions: “Nemesis”, “Caretaker”,”The Gift”, “The Void”, “Author, Author”, “Pathfinder”, “Prophecy”, “Alliances”, “Think Tank”, “Endgame”