(written from a Production point of view)
|In the Flesh||5x04||198||52136.4||1998-11-04|
|Once Upon a Time||5x05||199||Unknown||1998-11-11|
|Bride of Chaotica!||5x12||207||Unknown||1999-01-27|
|Someone to Watch Over Me||5x22||216||52648.0||1999-04-28|
With Brannon Braga taking up the showrunner's role after Jeri Taylor's retirement, season five saw the franchise settle into what was to become a familiar pattern of story-telling following the changes made during the latter half of season three, and the tumultuous events of season four. A desire to return to Earth remained the Voyager crew's singular mission, but the themes of "family" and of Voyager as "home" introduced in seasons three and four meant that the series paradigm gently shifted in season five, evidenced best by Janeway's remark at the end of Voyager's 100th episode, "Timeless";
"It no longer seems a case of if we get home, but when!"
Nevertheless, season five could also be characterized as having a darker, more brooding atmosphere than had gone before, with several of the principal characters facing extremely dark moments in their development. None more so than in the season premiere "Night" which sees Voyager attempting to traverse a dark region of space, devoid of all matter and energy. It is during this episode that Janeway is forced to confront her unceasing guilt over the initial decision she made to destroy the Caretaker's array at the beginning of the series, and strand Voyager in the Delta Quadrant;
"I made an error in judgment Chakotay. It was short-sighted and it was selfish, and now all of us are paying for my mistake!"
Other similar crises of confidence are played out throughout the season. B'Elanna Torres, racked with grief over the death of her friends in the Maquis begins to self-harm in "Extreme Risk", Seven of Nine becomes overwhelmed by the voices of the Collective in "Infinite Regress", Tom Paris faces demotion and incarceration in "Thirty Days", The Doctor's decision-making skills are tested as he revisits the greatest threat to his program in "Latent Image", and Harry Kim's spotless record receives a dent for the first time when he continues a sexual relationship against orders in "The Disease" (according to Garrett Wang in an interview for the Season 5 DVD set, the episode was titled "Alien Love Story"). Arguably Captain Janeway experiences the most of the dark traits in Season 5, most notably in her getting angry with Tom Paris, Harry Kim and the Doctor in the episodes "Thirty Days," "The Disease," and "Latent Image," respectively.
This sombre bleakness arguably reaches a crescendo with two episodes mid-way through the season. In "Bliss", a bio-plasmic lifeform uses neurogenic fields to induce illusions amongst the crew, convincing them to enter what they believe is a wormhole leading directly to the Alpha Quadrant. Once inside the creature, the audience is treated to shots (for the first time since the series began) showing Voyager's return to Earth. The fact that the images are merely telepathic delusions makes "Bliss" one of the darkest episodes of the season. And in "Course: Oblivion", in a throw-back to season four's "Demon", the crew realize they are nothing but bio-mimetic copies of the original crew and slowly, one by one, succumb to radiation poisoning from Voyager's enhanced warp drive. The episode closes with the entire ship and crew reduced to a cloud of dichromate particulates, with no record of their existence surviving. "Course: Oblivion" marks a departure from the usual style of Star Trek (and American) story-telling in general with no "happy ending", no moral at the end, and nothing to redeem the crew's struggle as being ultimately "worth it".
Other developments of note in season five include the use of a new multi-spatial probe, which makes its first appearance in "Extreme Risk", and the construction of a new and improved shuttle. Christened the Delta Flyer, the new ship would take center stage during away missions for the remainder of the series. A tentative resolution to the conflict with Species 8472 is negotiated during "In the Flesh", and Kate Mulgrew's favorite episode "Counterpoint" makes an appearance towards the middle of the season. Leading protagonists include the Borg who appear in multiple episodes throughout the season, most notably in Voyager's first movie length episode "Dark Frontier". Marketing at the time trumpeted this episode as featuring the return of the Borg Queen, first introduced in the Star Trek movie, Star Trek: First Contact.
The Malon are introduced as polluting industrialists and another species for Voyager to contend with, during the season premiere, "Night". Although the Malon make only two more appearances in season five, namely "Extreme Risk" and "Juggernaut", and a passing reference in "Think Tank" and season seven's "The Void", they could perhaps be considered alongside the Kazon, the Borg, the Hirogen, the Vidiians and the Hierarchy as being stalwart species of the series as a whole, and contributing greatly to Voyager's overall journey.
The season finale (the first cliffhanger season finale since season three's "Scorpion," in 1997) sees Voyager make contact with their first Federation starship, the USS Equinox, under the command of Captain Ransom (John Savage). Initial celebrations at finding kindred spirits quickly turn sour however when it is revealed that Ransom and his crew have all but abandoned the Prime Directive by killing innocent lifeforms in an attempt to get home faster. The tension between Janeway and Chakotay (begun as far back as the season three finale, "Scorpion"), is heightened to a mutinous fever-pitch, as Janeway's vendetta against Ransom drives a wedge between her and her crew as the sixth season begins.
Aside from the action, it should perhaps be noted that it is within season five that the first hints of dissension in the ranks of the principal actors begins to make itself known. A closer look at the episodes reveals that season five remained top-heavy with stories centering on Seven of Nine and her relationship with Janeway, and if anything, encounters with the Borg increased as a result. The one other principal actor whose story-lines and character development appears to have suffered as a result is clearly Robert Beltran as Chakotay. With this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that during and after season five, Beltran began to become more vocal and illustrative of his dissatisfaction with the direction the series appeared to be taking. Beltran was however not alone, as some critics of the show had begun to liken Voyager to the "Janeway and Seven of Nine show." It may be fair to say that Voyager's high-water mark had been reached with the advent of "Scorpion" and the rapturous applause for the series during season four had perhaps begun to wear off.
- The writing staff of Star Trek: Voyager began their work on this season by 20 May 1998. (Star Trek: Action!, p. 93)
- This season was broadcast concurrent with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 7, and Star Trek: Insurrection was released during its run.
- Characters which, during this season, 'crossover' from other incarnations of Star Trek: Geordi La Forge ("Timeless"), two different versions of Boothby ("In the Flesh" & "The Fight"), and the Borg Queen ("Dark Frontier").
The Deck 1 sets, such as the bridge, suffered smoke and sprinkler damage as a result of a fire during this season (specifically, on 2 October 1998). Robert Picardo once jokingly claimed he had started the fire with a lit cigar. wbm The blaze was actually started by one of the studio arc lamps' bulbs exploding. (Delta Quadrant, p. 281) "One of the light bulbs popped," offered Tom Paris and Captain Proton actor Robert Duncan McNeill. "I guess the spark smoldered down in the dust, and caught fire on the ceiling of the bridge." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 52) The sparks also set fire to the starfield backdrop curtain. (Delta Quadrant, p. 281; Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 326) The fire was only a minimal one, however, and the main damage was caused by the sprinklers that doused the flames. (Delta Quadrant, p. 281; Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 326)
Robert Duncan McNeill remarked, "No one was hurt, but we had a hungry crew and our lunch was on that stage." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 52) The small blaze occurred during a publicity photo shoot with executive producer Rick Berman. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 52; Delta Quadrant, p. 281) According to the unofficial reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 281), Berman's presence on the bridge at the time prompted some deprecating humorists to claim that "the lightning missed." Robert Duncan McNeill also commented on the link between Berman being on the bridge and parts of the same set meanwhile igniting; "I don't know what the connection is but I am sure there is some meaning." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 52)
Minor repairs were required, largely owing to the water damage that the small fire had caused. (Star Trek: Voyager Companion, p. 284) According to Delta Quadrant (p. 281), these repairs were used – by the construction crew and the art department – as an excuse to make a few slight modifications, such as reupholstering the chairs.
| Previous Season:|
VOY Season 4
| Seasons of|
Star Trek: Voyager
| Next Season:|
VOY Season 6