Star Trek Voyager, Ranked

I was on the hunt for another podcast to listen to and saw some recommendations for the Voyager-centric podcast, Seven of Wine, so I decided to give it a go and listen to their first episode about the pilot of Star Trek: Voyager, 'Caretaker' and then, I sat down and watched the episode again. And then, it was just too late- Voyager sucked me in for another re-watch and as I was going through all seven seasons, sometimes paying more attention, sometimes just using it as background noise, I started keeping track of the episodes that stood out to me with the grand intention of ranking all 172 episodes- but then sort of decided that was too much to handle.

So how did I do this? Kept track of all of my favorite episodes and at the end of it all, was surprised to find out that I had 100 episodes to rank. Then I set down to work and damn, this shit was hard, kids.

If there's a frustrating thing about Voyager, it's probably the fact that it's blatantly obvious they could have pushed the envelope in crazy, interesting ways that could have grown the franchise in ways that we ultimately didn't see until Discovery came along. I'm willing to cut them some slack in the early seasons- because I assume it takes a couple of seasons for any television show to figure out what the hell's going on before you get down to brass tacks. That's more or less been the pattern Star Trek has taken-- Riker grew his beard on Season 3 of TNG. DS9 Season 1 was somewhat uneven- Season 2 was better and when the Dominion showed up in Season 3 things really got interesting.

Voyager seems to lean into the science and the technobabble of it all and that is what makes it such a joy to watch- especially in the early seasons-- it sort of loses that in the final seasons. The crew is thrown a big, juicy, meaty problem to solve and they've gotta work the problem over the course of the episode. I think the perfect encapsulation of this was probably the episode 'Deadlock' which actually references a Kent State experiment that I'm fairly sure is based on a real life quantum mechanics problem- which is a level of real life science based nerdery that I don't think Trek has reached before or since.

What would I change? Three main things I think. First, I'd make the Vidiians far more prominent than they were in the early seasons. I think they're a far more sinister villain than the Kazon, though after a somewhat rocky start the Kazon did okay by me-- the whole cloak and dagger aspect of finding out who the spy is on board and the infighting between the sects was decent, though I think they should have been juiced up a bit as villains/obstacles for the Voyager crew. Second, I don't think they would have had the ambition to do a whole season arc for 'Year of Hell' but DAMN consider what that would have done for the show had they done that as even a half-season arc? Like serialized it and everything? Finally, I'd have developed Chakotay and Seven's relationship a lot earlier- probably mid-way through Season 6, that way Unimatrix Zero could have made for an interesting wrench to throw in the works of their relationship and the events of the finale would have felt more earned instead of 'oh, hey, I guess they're dating now?'

Coulda woulda shoulda, though. It's still a great series... here's my list (complete with some annotations):

100. 'Tsunkatse', Season 6, Episode 15
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson plus a mini-DS9 reunion with Jeffrey Combs and J.G. Hertzler? Yes please.

99. 'Blood Fever', Season 3, Episode 16
Nice throwback/nod to 'Amok Time' from TOS- but also, what do Vulcans do about Pon Farr when they're halfway across the galaxy?

98. 'Twisted', Season 2, Episode 6

97.'The Voyager Conspiracy', Season 6, Episode 9

96. 'Displaced', Season 3, Episode 24

95.. 'Critical Care', Season 7, Episode 5

94.  'Author, Author', Season 7, Episode 20

93. 'The Disease', Season 5, Episode 17
I had 'Favorite Son' in this slot, but this is a solid Harry Kim episode which shows some actual character development for him.

92. 'Body and Soul', Season 7, Episode 7

91. 'Waking Moments' Season 4, Episode 14

90. 'The Void', Season 7, Episode 15

89. 'Thirty Days', Season 5, Episode 9

88. 'Muse', Season 6, Episode 23

87. 'Natural Law', Season 7, Episode 22

86. 'In The Flesh', Season 5, Episode 4

85. 'Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy', Season 6, Episode 4

84. 'Ashes To Ashes', Season 6, Episode 18

83. 'Emanations', Season 1, Episode 9
Really creative episode with an interesting concept from Season 1. Really stood out for me.

82. 'Once Upon A Time', Season 5, Episode 5

81. 'Human Error', Season 7, Episode 18

80. 'One Small Step', Season 6, Episode 8

79. 'Drive', Season 7, Episode 3

78. 'Warlord', Season 3, Episode 10
Honestly, this was probably one of the best Kes episodes. But Season 3 was also where her character became the most interesting to be totally honest- which makes her departure in Season 4 kind of a shame, really

77.  'False Profits', Season 3, Episode 5
Excellent callback to a Season 3 TNG episode where two Ferengi get sucked into a wormhole that leads to the Delta Quadrant.

76. 'Nightingale', Season 7, Episode 8

75.'Nothing Human', Season 5, Episode 8

74. 'Dragon's Teeth', Season 6, Episode 7

73. 'Faces', Season 1, Episode 14

72. 'Bride of Chaotica!', Season 5, Episode 12

71. 'Friendship One', Season 7, Episode 21

70. 'Persistence of Vision', Season 2, Episode 8
GREAT encounter with an alien race we see once, but never again. Creepy, truly alien

69. 'Resolutions,' Season 2, Episode 25

68. 'Rise', Season 3, Episode 19

67. 'Darkling', Season 3, Episode 18

66. 'Deadlock', Season 2, Episode 21

65. 'Unity', Season 3, Episode 17

64. 'Relativity', Season 5, Episode 24

63. 'Hunters', Season 4, Episode 15

62. 'Prey', Season 4, Episode 16

61.'Spirit Folk', Season 6, Episode 17

60. 'Child's Play', Season 6, Episode 19

59. 'Workforce, Parts I and II', Season 7, Episodes 16-17
Lots of two parters over the course of the series, this is probably the weakest one, imo. It's decent and it really plays with the notion that brainwashed, the crew had found some place they considered home and might have stayed there if not rescued.

58. 'The Raven', Season 4, Episode 6

57. 'Before and After', Season 3, Episode 21

56. 'The 37s', Season 2, Episode 1

55. 'Flesh and Blood', Season 7, Episodes 9-10

54. 'Fair Haven', Season 6, Episode 11
Behind 'The Killing Game' this is probably the best of the holodeck episodes- because, Janeway's gotta have some emotional intimacy with someone, so why not a holographic Irish bartender?

53. 'Unimatrix Zero, Parts I and II', Season 6, Episode 26 and Season 7, Episode 1

52. 'Imperfection', Season 7, Episode 2

51. 'Repression', Season 7, Episode 4
Great 'victory lap' episode from Season 7. I'm sure by that point, they had long since forgotten about the Maquis-Starfleet tensions, so this episode brings that back seemingly out of the blue for what turns into a great episode.

50. 'Death Wish', Season 2, Episode 18

49. 'Remember', Season 3, Episode 6

48. 'Nemesis', Season 4, Episode 4

47. 'Survival Instinct', Season 6, Episode 2

46. 'Shattered', Season 7, Episode 11
Another great 'victory lap' episode from Season 7 which allows a peek back at past seasons but also a glimpse at a possible future. 

45. 'Life Line', Season 6, Episode 24

44. 'Retrospect', Season 4, Episode 17

43. 'Lineage', Season 7, Episode 12

42. 'Maneuvers', Season 2, Episode 11

41. 'Scorpion Parts I and II', Season 3 Episode 26, Season 4 Episode 1

40. 'Riddles', Season 6, Episode 6

39. 'Renaissance Man', Season 7, Episode 24

38. 'The Gift', Season 4, Episode 2

37. 'Lifesigns', Season 2, Episode 19

36. 'Unforgettable', Season 3, Episode 22

35. 'State of Flux', Season 1, Episode 11

34. 'Basics Part I and II', Season 2 Episode 26, Season 3 Episode 1

33. 'One', Season 4, Episode 25

32. 'Investigations', Season 2, Episode 20

31. 'The Q and The Grey', Season 3, Episode 11

30. 'Phage', Season 1, Episode 5

29. 'Homestead', Season 7, Episode 23
The crew lining the halls as Neelix leaves! Tuvok's little dance step! Gets me every time.

28. 'Extreme Risk', Season 5, Episode 3

27. 'Fair Trade', Season 3, Episode 13
Oddly, one of my favorite Neelix episodes- as where Voyager really starts to 'grow it's beard' as they reach the edge of his personal knowledge of the quadrant and really head into the truly unknown.

26. 'Alliances', Season 2, Episode 14

25. 'Meld', Season 2, Episode 16

24. 'Gravity', Season 5, Episode 13

23. 'Message In A Bottle', Season 4, Episode 14

22. 'Pathfinder', Season 6, Episode 10

21. 'The Omega Directive', Season 4, Episode 21

20. 'Future's End Parts I and II', Season 3, Episodes 8-9

19. 'Timeless', Season 5, Episode 6

18. 'Blink of An Eye', Season 6, Episode 12

17.  'Mortal Coil', Season 4, Episode 12

16. 'Latent Image', Season 5, Episode 11

15. 'Scientific Method', Season 4, Episode 7
SUCH A GREAT EPISODE. Creepy as hell and when Janeway decides to fly between two neutron stars to conduct a little 'experiment' of her own? Bad ass. 

14. 'Jetrel', Season 1, Episode 15

13. 'The Killing Game, Parts I and II', Season 4, Episodes 18-19

12. 'Flashback', Season 3, Episode 2

11. 'Real Life', Season 3, Episode 22

10. 'Night', Season 5, Episode 1

9. 'Endgame', Season 7, Episodes 25-26

8. 'Caretaker', Season 1, Episode 1-2

7. 'Dark Frontier, Parts I and II', Season 5, Episode 15-16

6. 'Good Shepherd', Season 6, Episode 20

5. '11:59', Season 5, Episode 23

4. 'Living Witness', Season 4, Episode 23

3. 'Distant Origin', Season 3, Episode 24
Easily one of my favorites. Unexpected tieback to the beginning of Season 3. Hadrosaurs in Space! Great commentary on the theory of evolution, etc. Just comes out of nowhere really. 

2. 'Counterpoint', Season 5, Episode 10
Janeway matches wits with a Devore Captain in the best 'matching wits with the enemy' episode since TOS's 'Balance of Terror'

1. 'Year of Hell, Parts I and II', Season 4, Episode 8-9

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