Star Trek: Voyager
Season 5

Starring: Kate Mulgrew
RRP 84.99
Certificate: PG
Available 10 January 2005

In another eventful year, Captain Janeway and her crew encounter a 29th-century Borg drone, discover a simulation of Starfleet Headquarters, create a holographic Cardassian war criminal, find a world composed entirely of water, make several trips through time, and cross paths with another Starfleet vessel similarly stranded in the Delta Quadrant...

This is another high-quality season, which is at least as good as the one that preceded it.

Must-see episodes include Nothing Human, in which a holographic simulation of Crell Moset (David Clennon), a Dr Mengele-style scientist with expertise in alien biology, is B'Elanna Torres' (Roxann Dawson) best hope for survival. Is it morally acceptable to make use of knowledge gained by immoral means? That's the difficult question raised by this, the final Voyager episode to be penned by the show's co-creator Jeri Taylor.

Course: Oblivion is the surprising and gruesome coda to an earlier episode, while Drone makes inventive use of Borg technology. The two-part Dark Frontier also features the deadly Borg, including the unexplained return of their Queen (this time played by Susannah Thompson). It may be less original than Drone, but it couldn't have been more spectacular. Similarly eye-catching is the icy crash-landing depicted in the 100th episode, Timeless, one of two irresistible time-travel stories this season. The other one is Relativity, which sees the return of the 29th-century Captain Braxton (this time played by Bruce McGill) from Future's End.

Several episodes feature Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) and Harry Kim's (Garrett Wang) new holodeck program. Brilliantly and affectionately aping the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials of old, these black-and-white "Captain Proton" segments are full of boxy robots, sparking rockets and over-the-top villainy. The spoof's pinnacle is Bride of Chaotica!, an episode devoted almost entirely to Captain Proton.

Other instalments worth watching out for include Extreme Risk, which sees Tom's construction of the Delta Flyer shuttlecraft; Thirty Days, which features a well-realised water world and sees Paris valiantly defying regulations; Counterpoint, a potent tale of xenophobia and asylum; Latent Image, Voyager's take on the Red Dwarf episode Thanks for the Memory (The Next Generation did something similar in Clues); and Bliss, in which a possible route back to the Alpha Quadrant naturally proves too good to be true.

The season concludes with one of the franchise's best cliffhangers ever: Equinox, which introduces us to a cool new class of starship and its desperate and ruthless captain, Rudy Ransom (played by Dark Angel's John Savage).

The only really bad instalment is the dreadful Neelix (Ethan Phillips) / Naomi Wildman (Scarlett Pomers) episode, Once Upon a Time - though Chakotay's (Robert Beltran) boxing episode, The Fight is also pretty tiresome, despite the presence of an illusory Boothby (Ray Walston), the famous groundskeeper from the TNG episode The First Duty.

Boothby also appears in the final Species 8472 episode to date, In the Flesh. This is an appealing story, thanks to its re-creation of Starfleet Headquarters, though it does weaken the species in the same way that TNG's I, Borg diluted the Borg menace, by showing that the aliens have a sympathetic side.

The starship continues to make progress in its quest to get back to the Alpha Quadrant, shaving several years off its voyage in Night, Timeless and Dark Frontier.

Disc 7 contains 90 minutes of special features, including Voyager Time Capsule spotlights on B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris; a brief interview with the Borg Queen Susannah Thompson; a look at make-up design; and Ships of the Delta Quadrant, in which Senior Illustrator Rick Sternbach takes us through the processes that went into the creation of many of the series' spaceships. Sternbach also explains how the USS Voyager managed not to run out of shuttlecraft during its dangerous seven-year journey!

Voyager is very much alive in Season 5.

Richard McGinlay

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