Flashback: ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ – “Endgame”

Looking back at the finale of the fourth live action ‘Star Trek’ series…

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The U.S.S. Voyager and her crew battle the Borg once more in the finale of ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ (credit: CBS).

Year:  2001

Starring:  Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Tim Russ, Robert Picardo, Robert Duncan McNeill, Roxann Dawson, Jeri Ryan, Alice Krige, Dwight Schultz, Richard Herd

Series created by:  Rick Berman, Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor (based upon Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry)

Written by:  Kenneth Biller & Robert Doherty (story by Rick Berman, Kenneth Biller & Brannon Braga) / directed by:  Allan Kroeker

What’s it about?

A decade after the starship Voyager’s return to Earth from the Delta Quadrant, an older and haunted Admiral Janeway discovers the means to travel into the past and bring her former ship and crew home before any losses are endured…

Retrospective/review

Launching in 1995, Star Trek: Voyager seemed to have hit its creative peak in its fourth and fifth seasons and although there are still some decent episodes in the show’s final two seasons they’re outnumbered by less memorable and more average stories in comparison to those earlier years.  “Endgame”, the feature length series finale, whilst not as impactful as the conclusion of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine, is still an entertaining and fitting finish to the fourth live action Star Trek series.  It opens as Earth celebrates the tenth anniversary of the U.S.S. Voyager’s return after being stranded in the Milky Way’s distant ‘Delta Quadrant’ (the ship transported there by a powerful alien being in the series premiere, “Caretaker”) for 23 years and a sombre and reflective Admiral Kathryn Janeway, haunted by the loss of crewmembers during the journey home as well as the subsequent death of her trusted right hand, Chakotay, as well as Seven of Nine, together with the failing mental health of Tuvok – as a result of a Vulcan neurological disease – discovers the means to travel back in time and bring the starship safely home.

The first half of “Endgame” neatly jumps between the future and the present before Admiral Janeway arrives to aid her younger self – Captain Janeway – and the Voyager crew in battling Star Trek’s iconic cybernetic adversary, the Borg and utilising their wormhole network to travel back to Earth years earlier and without those losses the elder Janeway would later have to endure.  Once the groundwork is done, “Endgame” builds up the drama and action but not without losing focus on its characters.

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The superb Kate Mulgrew as both Admiral and Captain Janeway (credit: CBS).

The cast performances are solid and each of Voyager’s principal troupe are permitted to stretch themselves a little with most given the opportunity to play the older versions of their characters (minus Robert Beltran’s Chakotay and Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine whose romance, although set-up in previous episodes still feels like an odd match), the most notable being Tuvok whose degrading mental state allows the talented Tim Russ to expand his portrayal of his otherwise stoic (by the very nature of a Vulcan, a race committed to controlling and repressing their emotions) and disciplined character.  Kate Mulgrew is, as ever, a superb lead and excels with the rich material she is given, bringing a slightly tortured and embittered quality to her portrayal of Admiral Janeway.  Unfortunately, given his character’s exit two episodes earlier in “Homestead” Ethan Phillips is only able to feature in a brief cameo as Neelix, but at least he could be a part of Voyager’s send-off in some capacity.  Dwight Schultz makes a welcome return as Barclay, his previous appearances in the series (and the character’s role in Earth finally establishing communication with Voyager in season six) making him a part of the Voyager family and a pleasing addition to the finale.

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Alice Krige returns as the Borg Queen (credit: CBS).

The Borg where a chilling and formidable enemy in the days of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the effect had become somewhat diminished with their more regular appearances on Voyager.  This feels rectified in “Endgame” thanks in no small part to the return of Alice Krige as the Borg Queen, a role the actress had originated in the feature film Star Trek: First Contact and was previously played by Susanna Thompson in previous Voyager episodes “Dark Frontier” and “Unimatrix Zero”.  Thompson was great in those stories but Krige brings a real sense of gravitas and a sultry menace to the character that elevates the threat of the Borg.  It also helps that Kate Mulgrew brings her talent fully to bear in her scenes with Krige when the more seasoned Admiral Janeway is confronted face-to-face with the Borg Queen.  Those tightly written and directed sequences contribute significantly to the climax of “Endgame”, the tension notching up as Janeway (both Admiral and Captain) and the crew of Voyager execute their plan to return to Earth and deal a crippling blow to the Borg Collective.

The closing scenes of “Endgame” are quite touching, the arrival of Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres’ daughter just in time for Voyager’s return helping to provide a heartfelt farewell to Star Trek: Voyager, a series that perhaps ran too long but non-the-less yielded some good episodes and always made more enjoyable by its central cast.

Geek fact!

Veteran Star Trek guest star Vaughn Armstrong, who previously played a Romulan in the classic Voyager episode “Eye of the Needle” returns for “Endgame” as the Klingon, Korath.  Armstrong would go on to portray Admiral Forest, a recurring role on prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise.

11 thoughts on “Flashback: ‘Star Trek: Voyager’ – “Endgame”

  1. “Endgame” was a pretty decent series finale to Voyager. There are only two gripes about it:

    1) While it was great seeing the future versions of the characters, I could not shake the feeling that what we were seeing was inconsequential since for all we know that timeline ceased to exist by the end of the episode.

    2) I wished they had the time to show the crew actually arriving home and reuniting with their loved ones and getting glimpses of where their journey goes. Of course, it can argued that the future scenes provide those answers but with the timeline changed there isn’t any way to know for sure.

    Regarding the fates of the crew all we have are the novels and comics which can easily be avoided by actual live-action productions such as Star Trek: Picard which shows that 7 of 9 is still alive and well in the future.

    Thanks for the look back at the episode. It was well done!

    • Thanks, and thanks for the insightful thoughts – points which I hadn’t considered! It’d be interesting to see how “Endgame”, and indeed the Voyager series itself would be tackled today given the more complex and elaborate nature of tv as we currently know it.

      I’m especially looking forward to seeing what the writers (and of course, Jeri Ryan) do with Seven (or will it be Annika?) in Star Trek: Picard.

      • There are so many ways Voyager could have been and would have been better regarded like DS9. Still, it was quite enjoyable with some truly great episodes.

  2. Excellent review as always, sir. This sounds like another excellent episode in the Star Trek franchise with excellent characters and an intriguing story to englobe it all. I’ll soon test out this world now that I’m fully up to date with all the Alien/Predator movies. In fact, I rewatched AvP and saw AvP: Requiem for the first time… Tragedies! There’s really no substance to those movies, as if they were really meant to just give fans the opportunity to imagine a mediocre encounter between both iconic creatures, while maintaining the typical Holywood horror movie formula. I think with Star Trek, I’ll start with the recent movies to at least be able to watch Tarantino’s potential next movie with some knowledge of the world hahah Again, Endgame sounds fantastic and I look forward to the day I finally understand who’s who and what’s going on hahahaha

    • Thanks Lashaan, I realise you’re not currently invested in the Star Trek franchise and appreciate you taking the time to read these posts (I have few more ‘Trek’ pieces in the works)!

      I’m glad you plan to dip your toe in the Star Trek universe though, I definitely think the J.J. Abrams films are the best – and most accessible – for you to start (I’m very hesitant about the potential Tarantino film), along with the Discovery series which I’m confident you’ll enjoy.

      “Endgame” was a solid finish to Star Trek: Voyager, although it does come from a time when tv was very different and much more episodic. Voyager is actually my least favourite iteration of Trek but I still have a lot of fondness for it – I’ll be looking back at the premiere at some point in the new year as the show celebrates it’s 25th anniversary.

  3. In addition to the force from Star Wars, Star Trek series especially Star Trek: The Next Generations have always been my top of the list for space related entertainment.

    And some of the principles of the Starfleet, Captain Picard’s style of leadership have indirectly influenced my style of people management as well. When I stuck with an issue, I always ask myself – what would Jean-Luc would do in my situation?

    Here’s my comparison between 2 series – The Next Generations and The Voyager:-

    https://bjthoughts.com/2009/08/a-quick-guide-to-star-trek-part-1/

    https://bjthoughts.com/2009/08/a-quick-guide-to-star-trek-part-2/

  4. A good finale to the last Trek show that I followed religiously. My thoughts on Voyager mirror your retrospective. I had a love/hate relationship with it. Some very good episodes mixed with weak ones. DS9 and TNG remain my fave Star Trek shows.

    It was nice to see Barclay make a return. He’s a character I can relate to a lot. Yeah, I never bought Seven of Nine’s romance. Felt very forced.

    • Great to hear your thoughts – I still have a lot of fondness for Voyager despite feeling it’s the weaker Trek series for myself personally. I love DS9 and TNG was a landmark for a young me…yet it’ll always be the original series that occupies the top spot.

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