PART XVI: ONE FOR THE LADIES

These girls are wearing the most conservative outfits in all of TOS

What’s interesting in watching through all of Star Trek is you actually get to see how women are thought of in society change before your eyes. I had read that during The Original Series (TOS) Nichelle Nichols had thought of leaving the show, citing she felt she had too small of role. She was convinced to stay aboard, as Lt. Uhura was more important to the civil rights and women’s rights movement than she was a character on the show. Being that she is after all a Lieutenant, and to have a woman of color in a leadership role on television was unheard of in the sixties. Truth be told as communications officer, she was little more than Kirk’s secretary. Yet still, this was seen as a great moment for women. If any woman, even a woman of color were to be given the role of Uhura today it wouldn’t be thought of as anything, let alone revolutionary. Sure, if it weren’t Uhura it would have been someone else, but in the end it was Uhura. The rest of the TOS universe shows just how women were portrayed on television; as objects of desire. Lately, as I watch through what is quickly becoming my favorite in the Star Trek series, Voyager (VOY), I find myself marveling at how much society can change its view of 51% of the population in just a few decades.

In The Next Generation (TNG), the women of the Enterprise had more to do than answer the captain’s incoming messages. Though as characters it still took them a few seasons for them to develop as people. Troi started out as Riker’s ex who could read emotions, the end. Crusher was just Wesley’s mom and an old friend of Picard’s. Not really their own people, but more so belonging to the men in one way or another. It was still a man’s show about men doing manly things. Deep Space 9 has far more development with their ladies. Kira is a rich and deeply emotional character, though even she started out as just some bitchy, mousy pain in the ass. I feel like I didn’t know who Dax was until season 2. Things are different on Voyager though. For once it’s the men who take a backseat to the women. Though both have come well into their own.

I’m the reason all of your lives are ruined. Cheers!

Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), the leader of the of this lonely group of humans alone on the other side of the galaxy is, like all other captains of Star Trek, at the center of things. Her story is wrapped in tragedy. After all, they could have gotten home in the pilot. But Captain Janeway ignored the prime directive and destroyed that chance to save a race of people. With that, they were stuck and made an enemy of one of the most powerful and violent races of the quadrant. She carries this with her, but holds her head up with pride as she tries to lead her people back. She’s intelligent and poetic, with the grace of Picard on his best day.

Lieutenant B’Ellana Torres (Roxann Dawson), the chief engineer of Voyager is a redemption story of her own. She has never quite believed in herself, or rather assumed what others thought of her. Being half Klingon, she thought everyone thought she was a wild animal, and she responded by behaving that way. She assumed no one wanted her in Star Fleet academy, so she dropped out. She lived her life my outcasting herself before anyone else had a chance to.

A dangerous place to keep a two year old

Then there’s who is in many ways the true heroine of VOY, Kes (Jennifer Lien). Kes enters the series as a sweet young woman. A trusting, caring, curious and bright-eyed girl, she posed no threat. Watching the journey of Kes over two seasons though, she’s so much more. Photographic memory? check. Quick intelligence, check. Incredible telepathic and telekinetic powers, oh you bet! What I love most with Kes though is the eventual oncoming tragedy of her story. Her race lives only 9 years. By the end of season 2, Kes is about 3 meaning though the series we’ll watch her childlike charm grow to adulthood and potentially end with her death.

The men of the series take the backseat for once. Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran) is fairly stale. He’s spiritual, but ultimately predictable. The handsome tough-guy with a heart of gold is Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill). Similar to Torres, he’s redeeming himself from a life of mistakes. Paris’ best bud is Ensign Harry Kim, (Garrett Wang) whose your basic smart guy, do gooder.

The bromance of a lifetime

Tuvok (Tim Russ), our resident Vulcan basically walks around treating everyone like shit because he doesn’t have emotions, yet still maintains a superiority complex. Then there’s the lovable Neelix (Ethan Phillips). He’s from the Delta quadrant but tagged along with voyager to become their cook. Lastly theres The Doctor (Robert Picardo), my personal favorite. He’s an emergency holographic doctor slowly learning to cope with life as a life form, though at first he accepted he was not.

Since TNG all Star Treks have become character driven shows. VOY escapes that a bit and makes it a more plot heavy series. There are character flashbacks, incredible multi-episode set ups and story arcs, S2 is quite dark compared to the light-hearted S1. They’ve got aliens chasing after them trying to tear their organs out, and Seska, a back stabbing Cardassian traitor trying to steal their technology, and a sociopathic crew member with a blood lust. Their ship is almost destroyed a whole lot, and I don’t know how they can afford to blow up this many shuttle crafts. It’s just great. It doesn’t so much blend with the other Treks because it’s on the other side of the galaxy, so you don’t need to overlap VOY with DS9 like I have been, also if you’re looking for a brief Trek and not a full Trek Trek, go with this one. It’s exciting, entertaining, silly, and everything you’ve come to expect from Star Trek.

Oh, as for S4 of Deep Space 9. It’s great, and Worf’s in it.

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