Star Trek: Voyager – S01E16, Learning Curve

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And here’s the first season finale! “Only” 16 episodes this time, there will be more in the following seasons. And, sadly, the ending isn’t that great, I thought that Star Trek: Voyager could do better. Learning Curve tries to use two excellent ideas but fails to anything exciting with them. It takes advantage of both the Federationmaquis division and the advanced bio-neural gel used on Voyager (which is a new Intrepid-class ship), which sounds great in theory, but then…

It turns out that the bio-neural gel has been infected with a virus originating from some bacteria that Neelix used to make cheese in his kitchen and the solution is to give the ship a fever to expel the virus. The only funny thing is that everyone sweats like sumo wrestlers while of course the Doctor is not affected and is calm as ever. So we can dismiss this part of the plot as uninteresting.

As for the other part, Tuvok has the task of straightening up four maquis crewmen who have proven to be particularly refractory to Starfleet discipline (played by Armand Schultz, Derek McGrath, Kenny Morrison, and Catherine MacNeal). I immediately thought of the Deep Space Nine episode in which Worf must work with O’Brien’s engineers (Starship Down, seventh episode of the fourth season). At the beginning, he treats them badly and his rigidity prevents him from doing good teamwork, but then the good Klingon adapts and achieves the desired results. Of course, the same situation is reproduced here: at first the rigid Tuvok treats the four maquis badly, as if they were cadets of the Academy, and then he manages to achieve the desired results thanks to a little flexibility. The whole thing felt unoriginal and, therefore, boring (to be honest, the Voyager episode aired a few months before the Deep Space Nine one, so if you have seen Learning Curve before Starship Down you could turn my comment around, although the latter is much more interesting overall).

So, this finale is not worthy of a season which, with its ups and downs, gave us some excellent episodes: Caretaker, Phage, Eye of the Needle, Prime Factors, State of Flux… in short , we can’t complain, especially when we compare all of this with the first seasons of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine which are without a doubt the worst of both series! Ciao!

PS: The Delta Flyers podcast shoutout: Robert Duncan McNeill wasn’t very amused by this episode. In particular, he complained that the story’s protagonists are characters that we had never seen and that we will never see again, which is a mistake: it should have focused on the protagonists of the series instead! He argued that guest stars serve to provide plot and story elements, but they shouldn’t be the center of attention because viewers don’t have time to develop an emotional attachment to disposable characters. He’s right!


Previous episode: Jetrel

Next episode: The 37’s


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