Voyager is the best Star Trek series. Really. Here’s why.
I recently finished watching Star Trek: Voyager with my youngest daughter.
For some reason, Star Trek: Voyager is the only Star Trek series she’s interested in. I’ve been trying to work out why that is. And after much gnashing and wailing of teeth (wait I might have got that wrong), I’ve come to the shocking realization that Star Trek: Voyager isn’t just the best Star Trek series. It’s the only Star Trek series.
There are two pretty bold statements there, so I’d better back them up with something like ‘ideas’ or maybe even ‘an article about the topic’.
A Brief Sci-Fi Disclaimer
Before I continue I feel obliged to let you know two things, dear reader:
1. I am a fan of Star Trek and Star Wars in equal amounts, including the old and new stuff on both sides. I’m not a nerd, you’re a nerd.
2. ‘Threshold’, a Star Trek: Voyager episode, isn’t just the very worst Star Trek episode ever made, it’s also the very worst episode of anything that has ever been or ever will be made.
For the rest of this article, you should ignore the fact that ‘Threshold’ exists.
And you then should keep on doing that.
Why Star Trek: Voyager Is The Only Star Trek Series
The phrase ‘Star Trek’ clearly refers to the idea of a space journey.
And that’s the essence of Star Trek: Voyager.
You might be saying: “But the (original) Enterprise was on a 5-year mission, that’s a trek!” – and that’s a fair point.
However, Kirk’s Enterprise in Star Trek: The Original Series was also the Starfleet flagship, which means it was tied to Starfleet’s military actions very closely, which means that ethical issues always had a fallback answer because there was always a right answer: Protect Starfleet.
The same is true of Picard’s Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is based on a space station called Babylon 5. Wait, I meant Deep Space Nine. Sorry, I always get those two confused. Anyway, it was about life on a space station, which is the exact opposite of a journey.
It could be said that Archer (the captain from Star Trek: Enterprise) was often in the same situation as Janeway, but Archer reported to a proto-Starfleet military group and mostly stayed close to Earth. Further, Archer’s Enterprise was the very first Earth flagship in space, so all of that military baggage comes into play here, too.
Star Trek: Discovery (which did have some great moments) is more concerned with war stories and astral projections than an exploration of space and/or moral themes, so I don’t really think it qualifies as a story about a journey. A journey of the mind, perhaps. But it’s not called Mind Trek, is it?
In contrast to all the other series, Voyager is a science vessel which is on a 70-year journey back home to Earth.
I mean, come on now – Star Trek: Voyager is about the only Star Trek series that’s literally about a journey.
To be 100% clear: I’m saying Star Trek: Voyager is the only Star Trek series.
You may think that’s disingenuous of me but you must admit that there’s a certain truth to it, even if I’m being facetious.
But that’s the point I’m trying to illustrate: Being technically correct because of linguistic gymnastics is one thing – it’s good to also be concerned with whether or not that’s a fair description.
In other words, there are also other things to consider.
Things like philosophy, and ethics.
A Question Of Tone
I don’t know about you, but I think that modern Star Trek is like the original Star Wars: It’s an action story set in space.
Vice versa, modern Star Wars is like classic Star Trek: People sitting around talking about politics and space science (midi-chlorians, anyone?).
In fact, my youngest daughter swears that she vagued out during the bar scene in Star Trek (2009) and “was honestly waiting for Han and Chewie to walk in” (a direct quote).
Have you ever noticed how sitcoms like Full House, or Fuller House, or Cody In The House, have these stupid corny jokes but then they have really heart-warming moments or even maybe some insightful moments?
Imagine a show made from mostly those moments.
Well, that’s what Star Trek is, to me. That’s the reason that Star Trek exists – to create thought-provoking feels.
And Star Trek: Voyager is the only Star Trek series which actually nails that vibe because it feels like a family and not a crew, and so the emotional stakes feel higher, which better highlights the issues raised by the show.
Why I Now Think Voyager Is The Best Star Trek Series
I’d originally assumed that my youngest daughter liked Voyager mainly because it had a female protagonist.
She also likes Star Trek: Discovery, but that’s because “it feels like Star Wars” (another direct quote) so I don’t count that.
I mean, having a female captain helped her relate to Star Trek: Voyager, sure – but is there anyone else in the entire Star Trek universe like the Emergency Medical Hologram (who she named Trevor for reasons that I will never understand)?
How about Naomi Wildman, who spent multiple seasons as the only child on Voyager?
How about Seven of Nine, the recovered Borg drone who joined the crew?
When I asked her why she didn’t like the other Star Trek series, she said something that I’d honestly never considered before.
She said it wasn’t about what Voyager has, it was about something that it didn’t have: Starfleet politics.
She doesn’t want to see people that she can’t care about because they get all their moral cues from guidelines written by other people.
She wants to see people that she cares about struggling with ethics, so she can internally roleplay what she’d do in the same situation.
That’s why Star Trek: Voyager is the only Star Trek series she’s interested in: Because she’s into moral dilemmas, not fictional politics.
Although Star Trek: Enterprise remains my favourite series (OH SHUT UP), I completely agree with her. Star Trek: Voyager is more concerned with the thought-provoking feels that I personally associate with Star Trek than it is with the intergalactic politics of the series.
And that’s why I honestly think it’s fair to call Star Trek: Voyager the best series – because it’s the series that perfectly exemplifies what Star Trek is, at its core.
It’s a journey through the stars, and it’s about people – and very little else.
Simply put, Star Trek: Voyager is the only Star Trek series that consistently doesn’t let politics get in the way of a good space parable.
Well, I mean – unless you’re some sort of time traveller from the 1800s who doesn’t think a female can captain a ship, that is.