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Overview – Janeway and the crew of Voyager continue in their attempt to prevent Henry Starling from using the timeship and causing a disastrous event in the 29th century. Tom Paris and Tuvok discover that Starling has the Doctor (who can now exist outside the holodeck), and together with Rain Robinson try to rescue him. Torres and Chakotay are captured by an anti-Us government group after the shuttle they are in is damaged by Starling’s men. As Starling tries to outsmart Janeway’s crew, they find themselves destined for a showdown that could spell an end to humanity’s future.
Score: 8/10 – The tricky part with multi-part episodes is that it is difficult to keep the pace and energy going from part one to part two. This episode is able to successfully do that for the most part and keeps the action going. We get less of the fish-out-of-water treatment on the crew and more into the story. Torres gets into the action as she and Chakotay are captured by an anti-government militia. This part seemed a bit thrown together, and as I researched this story learned that originally Future’s End was to be a three-part episode (or more) and the militia was to play a bigger role. More might have been nice but trimming down their involvement helps this episode more than hurts it. It is a much more plausible adversary than, say, a gang from the streets of LA. Some great banter between Janeway and Starling, a new technology to expand the Doctor’s character, and some good action sequences all add to a great end to this entertaining story.
Relevance – 2 points. We can’t help but score a point for the Doctor’s mobile holo-emitter, a piece of 29th century technology that will allow our favourite holographic medic to exist out of sickbay. This is a major development for the EMH character as it will allow him to expand his role on the show. He can now be a part of away teams and be present in staff meetings and other ship events, even to the point where he can host concerts. Another point for Captain Braxton, who will next be seen in the fifth season.
Continuity – 3 points. Story continuity works. I liked how once the timeship was destroyed that Braxton appears as if nothing had happened, and he informs Janeway that he is not familiar his counterpart that they met. Time travel episode are notorious for plot holes, but they seemed to tie up all the loose ends on this quite well. Universe continuity is also good, especially the Temporal Prime Directive that Braxton works under that prevents him from returning Voyager to Earth in their time. For everything we understand about Starfleet and the UFP, this makes perfect and logical sense. Still, it is just like Janeway to ask, just in case, which takes us into the character continuity. In all the circumstances that the crew find themselves in, they respond and act in the ways that fit their characters. Of particular note, the Doctor with his new-found abilities to exist outside a holodeck is particularly amusing. Apparently, Robert Picardo improvised the scene where the Doctor is looking at a leaf, of all things. That is exactly the sort of thing the Doc would do when he would first encounter a leaf. Continuity police should be fine with this episode.
Character Development – 3 points. Obviously, the Doctor gets a great deal of attention with this episode, as the mobile emitter will set him up for a whole new experience. While the Doctor is little more than a bargaining chip in this, it is a significant development for his character that will be further fleshed out in future episodes. Tom Paris builds a closer relationship to Rain Robinson and Tuvok, and the latter Odd Couple pairing continues to work its magic. Torres gets more, Chakotay gets a little less, and Janeway tests her mettle against the unscrupulous and clever Starling, which gives her some great moments. Full points on character development here, with the Doctor’s newfound freedom pushing it ahead of Part 1 in this category.
Social Commentary – 1 point. A lot of the same issues that were brought forward in Part 1 are the main gist in Part 2, and like Part 1 we have the same limited development of them. A great adventure story just does not have as much to say about the world around us.
Cool Stuff – 2 points. The Doctor’s mobile emitter was a cool way of getting the Doctor out of sickbay on a regular basis and added so much to his character that it has to be included in this section. I also have to include Ed Begley Junior and Sarah Silverman for their performances. For Begley, he has been a mainstay in Hollywood for a long time, and this episode was at the beginning of Silverman’s successful stand-up career. For different reasons the appearance of both guest stars was cool, and they do a great job with their roles.
Rank – Captain (19 points). A satisfying end to a fun two-part story that delivers excitement and a taste of home. I loved it and found it fit well with Part 1. Definitely something to watch every time you work your way through the series.
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