Mekaela and I are slowly — excruciatingly slowly — working on our recast for Star Trek: Voyager. But before we get to that, I felt it was necessary to also make a list on how we would turn this remake into a much better show than its predecessor.
See, Voyager was my favorite Trek when I was a kid, mostly because I was nine when it started, and I got to watch it from beginning to end. (I very distinctly remember how angry I was when TNG concluded because, to me, it seemed like it had just begun.) And conceptually, the show had a lot of really cool things going for it. The potential in Voyager is almost staggering.
Unfortunately, in execution . . . yeah, there are some serious problems.
Disclaimer: Spoilers for the show. As if you care.
First, let me give you a list of things to keep from the original. (It’s pretty short.)
A. In the fifth or sixth season, the Voyager crew actually manages to make contact with everyone on Earth. They can’t get home any faster, but they let everyone know they’re still alive, and a lot of interesting personal arcs arise because of it. Janeway finds out her husband has moved on and remarried. Paris has to deal with his daddy issues. Torres suffers from depression after finding out that pretty much everyone she ever fought with in the Maquis is dead. I actually really liked this storyline, and I would like to see it in the (not actually happening) remake.
B. The villains are kind of awesome.
Species 8472? They were kind of badass. The Hirogen? They’re a pretty decent example of the oft-used hunter trope. And the Vidians? The Vidians were fucking creepy. The whole idea of them attacking people and harvesting their organs in order to try and cure the Phage? Yeah, the horror potential there is just huge. With better makeup and special effects, they could look pretty hideous. I’d actually like to see way more of the Vidians because come on now; they were pretty damn awesome. They even had the decency to remove Neelix’s lungs at one point! (Sadly, he still lived.)
C. B’Elanna and Paris have one of my favorite romantic relationships on TV.
Let me tell you why B’Elanna and Paris are awesome: unlike most romances I can think of on television, the progression of their relationship actually makes sense.
B’Elanna and Paris aren’t friends at first. Then they slowly become friends due to the various shit that happens to them on away missions. Their flirting is a little antagonistic at times but never ridiculous or awful, and they actually have decent chemistry. Eventually, after a believable amount of time, they start dating. A few years after that, they get married and have a kid. And . . . that’s the end. No bullshit adultery storylines. No unnecessary drama. Once they get together, they’re pretty much together, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I would kill for more TV shows to have relationships like this.
Unfortunately, Voyager has so, so many problems as well. So, to fix those problems:
1. Rework Neelix’s whole character.
Neelix is one of the most disliked characters in all of Trek, and if I wanted to just vaporize him, well, I don’t know that anyone would really object to that. But even Neelix’s character has potential. He’s introduced as a scavenger, which is a nice contrast to all of these upright Starfleet officers hanging around that, until now, could have pretty much whatever the hell they wanted. Neelix also ends up serving as the quasi tour guide to the Delta Quadrant — which is eighty times more interesting than the bullshit morale officer role that he later appoints himself. And when you think about it, Neelix is actually kind of a manipulative bastard, willing to lie to the crew of the Voyager and use them in order to rescue his ladylove, Kes. Put all of that together, and you should either get a lovable rogue or a slightly seedy opportunist. What you shouldn’t get is an ultra cheesy, ridiculously perky caricature/shitty comic relief.
If Neelix is a little darker, a little more scheming, and a lot more intelligent . . . you know, he could actually be a pretty fun character. He shouldn’t be a cold bastard or anything . . . I like the idea that he really loves Kes, and he can totally be romantic and sweet with her . . . but he also does what needs to be done to survive. Cause he’s pragmatic, see, and pragmatism will be an important theme in this new Voyager because . . .
2. We’ll remember this time that resources are limited when your ship is stranded at the ass end of the universe.
One of the strongest things Voyager has going for it is the concept. Not only do you have two enemy crews, Starfleet and Maquis, being forced to work together on one ship to get home . . . you also have the challenge of these people trying to survive in a part of the universe where they have no space stations to refuel and no allies to back them up. Hard choices have to be made . . . or at least, they ought to be made.
But in Voyager, every time anyone even contemplates throwing out their Starfleet ideals in order to survive . . . something happens so they don’t have to, or they choose the righteous path and everything turns out for the best because of it. I don’t want the Voyager crew to become a bunch of bloodthirsty monsters, but this show backs off hard choices and real consequences so fast that it’s almost hard to become invested in their journey.
So, there will be much more moral ambiguity in this new Voyager. Also, stuff like replicators and the Holodeck? Yeah, maybe they shouldn’t be working anymore by, say, Season 3. Occasionally, the show talks about rationing and whatnot, but it’s never as consistent of a theme as it ought to be. By the time this ship gets home at the end of the show, man, they ought to be limping.
And speaking of the end of the show . . .
3. The series finale will not be complete and utter bullshit.
“Endgame” has to be one of my least favorite series finales of all time. (Not my very least favorite. That particular honor still goes to BSG, I think.) It’s just . . . it’s just boring. Old Cynical Admiral Janeway goes back in time to alter the past and save Seven of Nine, and she argues with Young Idealistic Captain Janeway, and eventually she sacrifices her life to defeat the Borg Queen and . . . yawn. Just . . . yawn.
Also, why the hell are Chakotay and Seven suddenly dating? Seriously? You don’t just throw out a relationship like this in the last episode of a series with absolutely no groundwork to support it.
Honestly, I don’t have any specific ideas for what should happen in the series finale. I just know that having the bitter future alternate of anyone sacrificing their lives is the most boring thing you can ever do in time travel because it’s been done so many times. Hell, it’s already been done by this show before. What would actually be a lot more interesting is to have Admiral Janeway go back in time, only for Young Janeway to sacrifice her life . . . that almost never happens, presumably because no one wants to deal with all the timey wimey paradox stuff. Still, at least it would be different.
Also, preferably, there won’t be a Borg Queen. Because I just don’t like the Borg Queen. I never have, and I never will.
4. While we’re eliminating Borg, let’s eliminate the Borg Kids while we’re at it.
I don’t hate the Borg children as much as other people do, but they’re really an unnecessary complication that just takes time away from all the other characters who are far more important. We already have the ongoing process of turning Seven of Nine human again. (Not to mention the Doctor, who also wants to be more human, because it’s just not Trek if it there isn’t a Humanity is Awesome! theme happening all the time.) The Borg kids are just kind of repetitive, at this point.
Besides, seriously, so many other characters need to be reworked or developed, not just Neelix. For instance . . .
5. Ohmygod, give Harry Kim something to do.
Poor Harry. He’s stuck being Naive Guy, his storylines usually suck, and he never once gets promoted or gets a girlfriend. He has one bromance, and that’s about it. For seven seasons, that’s not much to work with.
The thing is, though, that Harry could be fascinating. In the pilot, he’s the green ensign about to have the very worst first day on the job that you can possibly get, short of actually dying. Watching him grow and change over seven years could be so interesting — if you bother to write in growth and change, that is. Harry should not be the same innocent guppy by the end of the show that he is in the pilot. In fact, he literally isn’t the same, innocent guppy that he was in the pilot because he’s an alternate Harry Kim.
In “Deadlock,” Voyager and everybody on board is accidentally duplicated. (I forget how. Vidians are somehow involved.) On the original ship, Harry Kim is killed when he gets sucked into space through a hull breach. However, Alternate Harry Kim manages to escape his ship onto the real Voyager before his Voyager is destroyed all to hell. Now, mind you, everyone’s pretty much technically the same person, but if you’re telling me that Alternate Harry Kim wouldn’t go through a serious existential crisis after this . . . well, I just don’t believe you. This could be such an interesting personal arc for him, and yet the show never goes back to it, not once.
In my remake, Harry Kim will be very aware that he is not Original Harry. He will also get to date somebody for more than one episode, preferably somebody who is not a hologram or an evil alien, and by the last episode, he will get promoted to Lieutenant because good God, I think the man deserves it.
And while we’re fixing problematic characters . . .
6. Give Chakotay a personality.
I am still waiting to see an interesting Native American character in Hollywood. Chakotay is a particularly terrible example. He didn’t seem so awful in the first episode, you know, back when he was the captain of a rebellious Maquis crew, but pretty quickly he just became the . . . I don’t know, the spiritual voice of the ship? In lieu of an actual personality, he just has wise sayings that his father or grandfather taught him and, occasionally, a medicine wheel. It’s pretty terrible.
So, here’s an idea: let Chakotay actually be a character instead of a stereotype. Remember why he was in the Maquis in the first place and give him some much needed edge. He can totally still be spiritual . . . just, you know, maybe his spirituality should encompass more than just a hodgepodge of Native American traditions. I mean, honestly. Why is it so hard for people in Hollywood to write Native American characters that actually come off as, you know, people?
Also . . .
7. Seska isn’t terrible, but she could be so much better.
Seska is the angry Maquis officer who bitches about everything and shockingly, oh so shockingly, defects to the Kazon. Oh, and she was secretly a Cardassian the whole time, so it’s not like she was once a good guy because we wouldn’t want that pesky moral ambiguity EVER. Oh, AND she pretends to be carrying Chakotay’s baby at one point because everyone knows how well sudden baby storylines play on television.
Okay, so maybe Seska was pretty terrible.
But she’s an easy fix. Because the Maquis and the Starfleet crews clash so much in the first few seasons of Voyager, there’s a lot of tension on board . . . not to mention the fact that people are pissed at Janeway for not getting them home faster by screwing over the Ocampa. So, the brewing ground is already there for traitors and mutiny . . . we absolutely do not need the stupid secret Cardassian twist. The best thing to do would be to make Seska a bit more likable or, at the very least, relatable, so that when she switches to the Dark Side, you’re much more invested as an audience member.
And seriously, just drop the whole baby thing, whether it’s Chakotay’s kid or not. I can think of one show that has successfully done the Surprise! Baby! twist. One. And honestly, I just don’t see it happening again.
And hey, about those pesky Ocampa . . .
8. Kes’s whole story arc, particularly the conclusion, needs to be entirely rewritten.
Kes wasn’t well-loved among fans, and she was ushered out in favor of Seven of Nine and her reformed Borg hotness. I’m okay with that . . . well, I’m okay with Seven of Nine’s reformed Borg hotness. But I actually want Kes to stay in the series — admittedly, with a better personality — because again, so much misused potential in her storyline.
Kes is an Ocampa, and the Ocampa only live for nine years. Kes is two when she comes aboard Voyager, and the show lasted for seven seasons, which means we could have seen her whole life span play out over the show, and I think that could have been really interesting to watch. I mean, I’m okay with her random burgeoning psychic powers too, but using them as an excuse to get her off the ship by turning her into a non-corporeal being or whatever? Lame. (And the less said about her dumbass vengeance return episode, the better.)
So. Let’s have Kes stay on board and live her whole life until she dies of natural causes. It’s kind of sad, but it would actually be sort of cool to see how the crew interacts with her, considering how much slower they age in comparison. This could even be the reason Neelix and Kes eventually break up . . . do they even give a reason in the original? I can’t remember. I’d also love to see a conversation between her and Tuvok about their respective ages, as he has a considerably longer life span than everyone else on the ship.
And while I’m fixing characters left and right . . .
9. Make Janeway a more consistent badass.
Now, I’m actually one of the only people out there who likes Captain Janeway, at least a lot of the time. I think Kate Mulgrew has a great flair for comedy, and when she’s irritable, I completely buy it, love it, even. When she’s playing the pissed off, I’m-the-mama-bear-of-this-ship-and-you’re-attacking-all-of-my-kids, well, I buy that too. I actually like Janeway being this kind-of maternal character . . . like I’ve said before, frequently, there is more than one way to be a female badass. I don’t want Janeway to be Starbuck. I don’t want her to be Admiral Cain. I like the fact that she doesn’t have a gigantic chip on her shoulder about being a female captain all the time.
But I do think Janeway spends way more time in the Holodeck than is necessary. I think all the Jane Eyre and da Vinci stuff is worthless. I also think that the show’s desperation to be a family friendly program doesn’t allow her character to develop in a meaningful way. All those hard choices I was talking about before? The captain’s the one to make those choices, and I really want to see Janeway actually make them and experience consequences because of them. (Again, it’s not that the hard choices don’t get addressed at all in the original show. It’s just that the writers almost always back off whenever things are in danger of becoming dark or interesting.)
Ultimately, I like Janeway. I just want more fighting for her people and dealing with her own personal losses, and less thrown-in holodeck romances that are clearly only there to make sure no one mistakes this show for being edgy.
. . . and seriously
10. No more da Vinci ever.
. . . how can you be so tired of someone who has been dead for almost five hundred years?
Fucking da Vinci, man. If I ever meet him in Heaven, I might punch him in the face.