News just in from Starfleet H.Q. The crew of the Intrepid-class U.S.S. Voyager, the vessel that was stranded 70,000 light-years away from home, in a remote sector of the Delta quadrant, have been called upon for another mission. They (the actors, not the characters) are reuniting for the 25th anniversary. Yes, it’s been that long since their departure. Tales of their adventures and experiences will be beamed directly to your home by YouTube channel, Star in the House .
Once the crew returned home they all went their separate ways. Now, Sci-fi Pulse gives a brief overview of each role the actors played, some of the casts’ earlier work, and an overview of the important relationship dynamics between characters. Then, we go on to take a look at what they’ve been up to since, before offering some possibilities at what might transpire in the future for some of these old ship-mates. First, let’s have a brief chat about the show, a reminder of what was new, highlight some key moments, and remind ourselves of why this show was a favorite for some Trek fans.
Star Trek: Voyager differed greatly from what’s loosely the show’s predecessor, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. For a start, DS9 more or less followed on from its predecessor, Star Trek: The Next Generation, with almost all events taking place after TNG had ended, bar the tail end of the season seven of Picard and co’s adventures (then there were the TNG movies interspersed, between 1994 and 2002; it’s debatable whether Star Trek: Generations (1994) should belong to the TOS series cinematic canon or the TNG one. As Spock and McCoy aren’t in it probably fairly considered the first TNG movie).
Voyager took off from space-dock at DS9 in 1995, and most of the series ran alongside that of DS9. Following the departure, it would be a long time until the two crossed paths again, as they weren’t exactly in close proximity for the next few years . . .
The first few episodes establish a very different story for Star Trek: Voyager, than had ever been attempted in a series. Yes, there were plenty of examples within Star Trek canon of crews getting stranded, or having to get back from being trapped somewhere. But not as a story arc. The adventure really begins when Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) goes to Earth and recruits disgraced former Starfleet Officer Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill), to help her find her Chief of Security, the Vulcan, Tuvok (Tim Russ). Tuvok is embedded as a spy aboard a Maquis ship (headed up by Robert Beltran’s Chakotay and including aboard B’Lanna Tores (Roxann Dawson), that the Cardassians are pursuing. As Voyager (with Garret Wang’s Harry Kim and the EMH’s Robert Picardo on it) leaves DS9 to intervene, a battle takes place. Most of the crew aboard the Maquis vessel end up on Voyager. What ensues is a mysterious event that results in Voyager being hurtled 70,000 light-years from home, deep into the Delta Quadrant. If that wasn’t bad enough, then the energy burst responsible (as far as they know at the time is just a random phenomenon) then the deaths on each side (Starfleet and Maquis) mean that two warring factions are now thrown together far from where any of them know. And that, is what the show is really about.
Once the premise is set, a rag-tag bunch of individuals having to work together, things start to play out. Whilst the show divided opinion, it was largely a hit. The idea of a female Captain wasn’t really new in Star Trek (the original pilot of TOS had a female First Officer and the Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise -B was also female), it was still an important event to occur in a show that got a full run. Voyager was different for other reasons too. Whereas DS9 focused more on the political side of events in the Starfleet universe, the crew of Voyager was very much what the show was about. The dynamics and relationship building took central precedent, and there were friendships formed, command structures tested, and plenty of arguments, including about morality — a key to Star Trek. Eventually things settled down, but there were still bumps along the way, as well as romances, including sometimes awkwardly latent, stilted versions of love, too.
The main motivation was for the crew to get home. That was always the aim, overall. The writers always held that at the forefront of things, making it the overall arc, but there were some smart stories too, a few recurring characters and some memorable mini-arcs that made stuff interesting (including obligatory visit from the Q Continuum). The most famous of these saw the introduction of one Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) and her now (in) famous catsuit. These events were all obstacles that stopped the crew from getting back. By the time the show was at the end of its run, the characters had all developed, they were different people and had to try and come to terms with what they’d been through. Let’s see how each one coped, changed, and how the actor in the role portrayed their stories.
Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway)
Charged with holding everything together, Captain Janeway had tough choices to make along the way. She was very much the Matriarch and showed strength, courage, and was committed to getting them home. There are those who say “she lost the ship”, a trope that isn’t really fair, as the event was beyond her control and could have happened to anyone. A multi-faceted character who provided what was needed whenever it was. Her up and coming “autobiography” is being penned by friend of Sci-fi Pulse Una McCormack and is out in early September.
Since the show Kate Mulgrew has become best known as one of the stars of Netflix show, Orange Is the New Black. She is a diverse and capable actor, as her performances in this have shown. Mulgrew is also a stage actor and has appeared in many theatrical productions, including a leading part in a production of Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra. She also had a good voice-acting career, voicing Janeway for numerous Star Trek video games and Red Claw in Batman: The Animated Series.
Robert Beltran (Commander Chakotay – First Officer)
Chakotay was something of an unknown quantity. It wasn’t an easy thing, to portray someone who hates Starfleet, but suddenly finds himself a key player in it. Robert Beltran wasn’t without his critics, with some taking issue with his performances, and choice for the role. Nevertheless he went on to have some pivotal moments in the show, and love him or hate him he did win awards for the role. It should be noted that his character did suffer from not being explored in quite the depth others were, though.
Also an experienced theatre actor, Beltran has produced and starred in a Shakespeare role, Hamlet. Unsurprising as he’s a co-founder of The Classical Theater Lab. In addition to this Beltran has had a string of appearances in T.V. shows, and has also voiced Chakotay for video games, based on Star Trek: Voyager. Proud of his Mexican roots, Beltran has also recited and recorded Latino Poetry
Tim Russ (Security Chief)
The first black Vulcan to get significant screen-time. That mattered. Unlike Spock, Tuvok is entirely Vulcan. As a Security Chief, he’s not to be messed with. In some ways he’s all of the previous Security Chief’s, in one. He has something approaching Worf’s physical prowess (not quite, but is significantly stronger than most onboard) and Odo’s investigative skills. Not easy to develop such a character, as so much of the Vulcan condition has been covered by Spock. You do get to see his history with Starfleet, and that is interesting viewing, as his past is longer, because as a Vulcan he ages slower than humans. One of his most memorable episodes is Tuvix (S2 Ep 24).
Tim Russ appeared in both TNG and DS9 as characters, as well as playing Robert Johnson in Crossroads (1986). The (mostly) fan-made film Star Trek: Renegades boasts Russ as one of its big names, with him reviving the role of Tuvok. Russ has made many, many appearances on shows since Voyager, including recently being in Supergirl, The Orville, and Swamp Thing. As if all that’s not enough, like Brent Spiner, Russ is an accomplished musician and has been for quite some time now.
Roxann Dawson (Chief Engineer)
B’Elanna Torres was the modern, female version, of the “child of two worlds” (that Spock first established), wrestling with her Klingon side. If this wasn’t enough then she also had to contend with adapting to becoming a member of Starfleet. Her relationship with Chakotay was crucial, early in the show, as she was his most trusted aide.
Once she got the hang of all that was demanded of her, she then had to compete with Seven of Nine as a surrogate daughter to Janeway’s mother figure. Fortunately, she was supported by Tom Paris, and the two eventually fell in love and had a child.
Like her on-screen love interest, since the end of Star Trek: Voyager, Roxann Dawson has gone on to direct many episodes of various projects, including many sci-fi (and other fantasy/comic book based) shows, such as Star Trek: Enterprise, Heroes and Marvel: Agents of Shield. Dawson is a prominent Roman Catholic, having converted following her second marriage in 1994. Inspired by her faith, she directed the 2019 feature film, Breakthrough, that contains a religious narrative.
Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris)
One of the shows most developed characters, whose main arc is concerned with redemption and parental acceptance. His relationship with Captain Janeway is complex and at times volatile, switching between that of a surrogate son and out and out critic (perhaps that latter trait is very much an example of the typical behavior of a child to a parent; certainly, it showed how close the two became. We won’t mention the weirdness of the events in “Threshold (S2 Ep. 15), given their son/mother dynamic). A huge fan favorite and one of the show’s most memorable characters, somewhat bridging the gap between the Maquis elements of the show and the Starfleet members. Also important is his being one half of the show’s main romance, between Paris and B’Lanna Torres
Fun fact: Robert Duncan McNeill can be seen in Masters of The Universe (1987), not his best moment, but one Sc-fi Pulse has previously highlighted! Since his depiction of Paris, McNeill has had a decorated career as a Director. He directed Voyager episode “Sacred Ground (S3 Ep. 7) and others. He went on to direct in Star Trek: Enterprise, too. He was offered to direct an episode of Star Trek, Discovery, but was unavailable, though he would have happily been involved. Don’t be surprised if you see him behind the camera of a future Star Trek show. Another to have given his voice over to a video game version of his character.
Robert Picardo (Emergency Medical Hologram)
Another first, the doctor in Star Trek: Voyager isn’t real. Or, is he? That’s the question that the show explores, taking what was begun in TNG by Professor Moriarty and really digging deep into the philosophical and moral fiber of the question. A brilliant character, that grew into what was one of the best things about the show, for some. The Doctor proved to be indispensable to the crew, for much more than just his extensive medical knowledge. he every bit earned the trust, respect and admiration of the crew that he became a significant part of. His character was everything that encompasses Star Trek; it’s a shame that Gene Roddenberry didn’t live to see this creation.
Another star to appear in Star Trek: Renegades, only not as the EMH, but its creator, Lewis Zimmerman. An established actor well before Star Trek: Voyager, Robert Picardo’s career has spanned four decades, and he’s now into his fifth as an actor. Recent appearances include Lucifer, Salem, and also The Orville. There are rumors that Picardo will reprise one of the roles he played (EMH or Zimmerman) in the second season of Picard. Let’s hope that comes to pass, as it would be great to see him return to the world of Star Trek.
Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine)
Taking on the mantle of “previously established canonical baddies that become part of the crew/show” (Worf in TNG, Quark in DS9), Seven of Nine, soon became simply “Seven”; only, nothing was simple about her at all. She had to re-learn humanity, and that didn’t happen quickly. She was a drone much longer than Captain Picard was., and as a result couldn’t be restored in the same way that he was. She was forever altered.
Entering the show at the start of Season 4, in “Scorpion”, Seven injected something new to the show. She had a tough role, given the extent that The Borg are revered as brutal adversaries. The character also allowed others to find things out about themselves, too. A wonderful creation, who deserves to be remembered for a great deal more than the dangerously tight outfit she wore.
The only actress to return to the role she played in the show. It was truly brilliant to see Jeri Ryan in Star Trek: Picard, this time more in her Annika guise. But between then and now, Ryan also played Sonia Blade from Mortal Kombat: Legacy and has appeared in Arrow, too, among other roles. It won’t be at all surprising if her presence dominates the reunion (not down to her, as she isn’t the sort to grab the limelight), with reporters and website reps desperate to know what the future holds for her. You can find out more about her in the interview she gave in the recent CBS tie into Star Trek: Picard (that Sci-Fi Pulse reviewed) including her close friendship with Jonathan Del Arco. Details aren’t known, but it’s fairly safe to say we’ve not seen the last of Seven yet.
Ethan Phillips (Neelix)
Neelix well and truly divided opinion. Some loved him; saw him as cute; others wanted nothing to do with the distinctly non-humanoid. For a series set in a galaxy with multiple species, Star Trek’s previous shows have a distinct lack of visibly alien crew-members, so this was perhaps the motivation to introduce one (The Animated Series did address that, too). Did Starfleet really need a chef? That’s up for debate. Neelix did offer something important though, when he came aboard. He acted as a guide, as he knew the quadrant. He also helped with morale, too.
Ethan Philips has appeared in a diverse array of shows and films, over the years. An experienced Broadway star, he won an award in 1977; like Picardo, he has decades of work in his reel, so plenty to draw on when called upon to bring something to a role. Before Voyager he appeared briefly in TNG, playing a Doctor in the episode “Menage a Troi”.
Since his stint in Star Trek: Voyager he has reprised the role of Neelix for video games, as well as being in multiple Star Wars games, too, as different characters. Phillips also had a cameo on Star Trek: Enterprise, too, but not as Neelix. It’s unlikely you’ll see Neelix again within the world of on-screen, canonical Trek; you never know, but it would be highly surprising.
Garret Wang (Ensign Harry Kim)
Harry Kim was perhaps thought of as the poor relation of the crew, and in many ways treated as such. The youngest, he was somewhat the Wesley Crusher aboard Voyager; Janeway was most protective of him, sometimes overly so, meaning he saw less action. It was a tough ask to play a character that has no “big-role” (i.e. Captain, First Officer, Chief Engineer). Kim represented the everyman but proved to be much more than just an as well as. On many occasions he performed heroically, and by the end of his stint in the Delta Quadrant, he could probably have chosen any ship he wanted, given his experiences and how they excelled his skills and abilities. Certainly, they’d have been lucky to have them.
Along with Russ and Picardo, Garrett Wang appeared in Star Trek: Renegades. Whilst he hasn’t gone on to have the career some have, he has become heavily involved in the convention scene, and also ran a weekly podcast in 2017. Wang is a life-long fan of Science Fiction and so, it’s no surprise that he has appeared in numerous Star Trek video games as Harry Kim, and also as Commander Garan in Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.
And there you have it. This promises to be fun, informative, and for many excited fans some much-loved nostalgia of one of their favorite shows from the mid-1990s. With the world currently in a mess that it could really use the help of Starfleet to fix, some shows postponed, cinemas everywhere closed, and general chaos, thank whoever you will that we have the internet. Even those who weren’t entirely enamored with the show will likely tune in (even if it is just to hope they hear Jeri Ryan give some sneak-peek on the second series of Picard. This is truly some great news and much welcomed by Trekkies everywhere. It’s not one to be missed, as these things don’t happen very often.
To see all the action and join in the fun, head over to Star in The House on TUESDAY MAY 26th 2020 8.00 PM (U.S. Eastern Time, so 1.00 AM IN THE U.K (technically, 27th May). You’ll have to stay up then, but it should be worth it) . To help support The Actors Fund, if you donate to them during the event, you can be in with a chance of having your name read out by one of the crew. Possible hear some of Trek Royalty say your name, live in person, and contribute to a great cause. What’s not to love about that?