This article comprises gentle spoilers for season two, episode three of ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks.’
This week’s episode of Lower Decks, “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris,” manages to squeeze two references into its title: a season one The Next Generation installment known as “We’ll Always Have Paris,” and the identify of a major cast member of Star Trek: Voyager, Lieutenant Tom Eugene Paris. But apart from that intelligent little bit of wordplay, the title additionally carries a deeper which means: That as a lot as we’d like to overlook in regards to the extra embarrassing moments of the Star Trek franchise, they nonetheless occurred and so they weren’t all unhealthy. Even, and particularly, Voyager.
Viewer reactions to Voyager have been somewhat polarized over the course of the 26 years because it premiered. Back within the ‘90s, many fans were excited to have a “real” Star Trek show again, one that took place on a ship that was constantly exploring, unlike the comparatively stationary political drama of Deep Space Nine. But clunky writing soured many people’s opinion on Voyager, and towards the tip of its run the present was recognized extra for Seven of Nine’s skintight outfits and its slate of visitor stars of the week, together with Jason Alexander and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
After the present went off the air, the franchise stopped transferring ahead in its timeline, selecting to discover Starfleet’s founding in Enterprise and rebooting your entire universe fully with the 2009 Star Trek film. While followers had been thrown a bone with a short cameo by Admiral Kathryn Janeway within the final TNG-era movie, Nemesis, Voyager would primarily disappear from the Star Trek canon till the looks of Seven of Nine in episode 4 of Picard.
For followers of The Next Generation, Picard had its upsides: We bought to see Troi and Riker as a household, and Data bought a greater sendoff into the afterlife. But for followers of Voyager, it was something however constructive, with the demise of a supporting character and a somewhat grim existence for fan-favorite Seven of Nine.
Star Trek: Lower Decks rolls again the clock slightly bit, because it takes place a year after the occasions of Nemesis, making it our first actual view of the Star Trek universe’s quick future after TNG, DS9 and Voyager. The Dominion War is over, Romulus is below a brand new regime and the crew of the USS Voyager are principally celebrities after seven years spent within the Delta Quadrant; Picard takes place practically twenty years later, when the luster would have been gone.
Here every part is simply shiny and new and worthy of commemorative plates — a little bit of a bizarre factor to exist in a post-scarcity tradition, however this can be a comedy sequence, in spite of everything. And on this week’s B-plot, Brad Boimler is wanting to get one in every of his plates signed by a particular visitor to the USS Cerritos: Tom Paris. Or, as Brad refers to the previous Voyager crew member, “Creator of Fairhaven, Captain Proton himself” in addition to the primary human to break the transwarp barrier. Straight off, that’s a reference to three of the goofiest, oddball and a few say worst episodes of Star Trek: Voyager. And simply in case you forgot what was so unhealthy in regards to the final one, Mariner asks “is he still a salamander?,” as a result of that’s a factor that occurred within the episode “Threshold.”
Undeterred (and even perhaps inspired) by the weirdness, Boimler is all hyped to meet his hero. Even after the ship’s system doesn’t acknowledge him and received’t let him by way of any doorways, he takes to the Jefferies tubes to make his approach to the bridge to meet Lt. Paris.
In a approach, it feels like a metaphor for the way the fandom feels about Star Trek: Voyager now. While everybody admits it had quite a lot of dumb moments, these truly made it extra endearing. The well-known line “there’s coffee in that nebula” would encourage astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to convey a duplicate uniform along with her and put on it on a mission again in 2015:
And who can overlook the notorious “Tuvix” episode, the place crew members Tuvok and Neelix had been merged into one being thanks to a transporter accident? Though the ensuing particular person was wholesome and comfortable, the choice was made to force him to cut up again into his part individuals, inspiring the current web rallying cry “Janeway murdered Tuvix.” Even Janeway actor Kate Mulgrew entered the controversy, responding to a tweet from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When you’ve bought politicians concerned it’s not likely a fandom in-joke anymore.
Maybe it’s time to give Voyager a bit extra credit score. It’s inferior to TNG or DS9, nevertheless it nonetheless has its truthful share of followers. I bear in mind a time when it appeared like it was consistently operating on Spike TV (now the Paramount Network), as opposed to Deep Space Nine, which is seldom rerun due to its serialized nature. Last year I sat down and rewatched your entire Star Trek franchise, together with Voyager, and noticed fairly a number of episodes I had missed the primary time. I discovered myself having fun with a few of it, cringing simply as usually, and ultimately remembering why I had stopped watching the present for some time again when it aired. In normal, I really feel like the present’s greatest downside was missed potential, like the best way the battle between the Starfleet and Maquis crew members was shortly smoothed over, the way it underutilized a lot of its cast, and why on earth did Harry Kim by no means get promoted.
However, it’s not the job of Lower Decks to clarify or redeem Voyager. Boimler and Tom Paris are solely the B-plot right here, with the principle drive of the episode being Tendi and Mariner’s mission to decide up a bundle for Doctor T’Ana in addition to Rutherford’s quest to learn the way a sure useless officer is alive once more. The episode simply asks us to contemplate what it could be like to be a Starfleet officer and listen to about all of Voyager’s adventures within the Delta Quadrant. Weird and goofy? Yes. But actually, they’re additionally fairly cool.
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