12 Essential Star Trek Voyager Episodes To Watch Before Picard Premieres
Voyager's Seven of Nine will make her triumphant return in Star Trek: Picard.
Star Trek: Voyager was the final series in a Trek television trilogy that began with Star Trek: The Next Generation and continued with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Between all three series, Star Trek was a staple of primetime television for an unbroken 15-year run.
After so much Trekking, Voyager was faced with a dilemma: How could the show explore strange new worlds and civilizations when the Alpha Quadrant had been so thoroughly explored? Thus, the producers made the decision to strand Captain Kathryn Janeway's ship in the Delta Quadrant, a largely unexplored part of space that was 70,000 light years from Earth. The series was about Voyager's attempts to get home--a journey that, without shortcuts, would take 75 years.
Most importantly for modern Star Trek fans, Voyager's Seven of Nine, played by Jeri Ryan, is going to be on the new Star Trek Picard, which debuts on CBS All Access on January 23, 2020. Here are the 12 greatest Star Trek: Voyager episodes from the show's run. And if you liked this gallery, be sure to check out our top Next Generation episodes to get to know Data, and the 10 essential episodes that focus on Jean-Luc Picard.
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Episode(s): Season 2 Episode 21
It's a classic Trek conundrum: Somehow, through a combination of time travel, Mirror Universe shenanigans, or, in this case, a space-time rift, a character ends up arguing with a double of him or herself. In "Deadlock," Captain Janeway and bleeding Captain Janeway debate and work together, knowing that one of them, and one of their crews, must make the ultimate sacrifice so the other can survive.
Episode(s): Season 2 Episode 24
One of the most controversial episodes in Trek history, a transporter accident merges Tuvok and Neelix together to create a third, unique individual Tuvix. Tuvix combines the best qualities of both men, and ingratiates himself to the crew. But when the Doctor figures out a way to split Tuvix back into Tuvok and Neelix, the moral dilemma rears its ugly head. Should Tuvix die against his will, so that the two men who died to create him can live? Janeway makes a hard decision that's still debated by the fandom to this day.
3. "Scorpion: Parts 1 & 2"
Episode(s): Season 3, Episode 26/Season 4 Episode 1
The Borg were able to conquer whatever race of beings they came across, until they ran into and attempted to assimilate Species 8472. The Borg faced an existential threat, and Janeway used this unique dilemma to make a devil's pact with the Borg: Voyager would help them defeat their enemy, in exchange for safe passage through Borg space. "Scorpion" also introduced borg drone Seven of Nine, who quickly became the show-stealer and breakout star for the next four seasons.
4. "Year of Hell: Parts I & 2"
Episode(s): Season 4, Episodes 8 & 9
Voyager faces oblivion when they run into the Thanos-esque Krenim. They are erasing entire civilizations from the timeline with temporal disruptions, in an effort to restore an earlier version of the timeline. It's an existentially horrific scenario, and Voyager battles multiple Krenim ships over the course of months. Many crew members die, and pretty soon, Voyager is running on fumes, with the crew in bare-bones survival mode.
5. "Living Witness"
Episode(s): Season 4 Episode 23
Chronologically, this episode takes place 400 years after the events of the show. An alien race that encountered Voyager four centuries prior remembers the Starfleet crew as war criminals, indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions of people. The reactivated Doctor is the only Voyager crew member who is still alive (as a holographic program, he does not age or die, so long as his subroutines are intact), and he tries to clear the names and correct the historical record of his long-deceased friends.
Episode(s): Season 5 Episode 2
Seven of Nine, not that far removed from being de-Borgified herself, takes responsibility for a newly created, isolated Borg drone and strives to teach it individuality. The drone names himself One, and makes himself useful on Voyager. Unfortunately, the Borg collective eventually learns of his existence, and when One realizes the destruction that they are capable of, he makes a brave decision that affirms his humanity. As Seven, Jeri Ryan puts on one of her best performances in this episode.
Episode(s): Season 5 Episode 6
In this episode, which takes place years after the current events of the show, an old Harry Kim and Chakotay track down Voyager, which crashed, killing the entire crew. Kim spends the episode questioning his worth (he blames himself for the accident 15 years prior), and he searches for a way to communicate with the past and warn the Voyager crew before it's too late.
8. "Latent Image"
Episode(s): Season 5 Episode 11
The Doctor slowly realizes that his memory has been tampered with when he observes inconsistencies between his recollections and reality. Has the crew been lying to him? What memory could have been so terrible, that it would necessitate erasure? This is a great episode with multiple twists, and deeper themes about personal choice and the grieving process.
9. "Someone To Watch Over Me"
Episode(s): Season 5 Episode 22
Ironically, some of the most insightful conversations about humanity come from the two crewmates who are still learning about it: former Borg drone Seven of Nine and the holographic Doctor. The most charming scenes in "Someone To Watch Over Me" are when the Doctor is trying to guide Seven through the rituals of dating and romance. It seems, on its face, a bit like the blind leading the blind. But as Seven rises to the challenge, we see the Doctor develop a crush on his pupil. Funny, heartwarming, and a bit sad near the end, this episode is high on human drama.
10. "Equinox: Parts 1 & 2"
Episode(s): Season 5 Episode 26, Season 6 Episode 1
For seven seasons, Captain Janeway bends her principles and breaks Starfleet rules, but she never loses her basic morality or ethical compass. But the same cannot be said for the starship Equinox crew, which is also stranded in the Delta Quadrant, but has made some depraved decisions to survive and get back home. "Equinox" is a creepy look in the mirror--of what Janeway and her crew could have become if they made the wrong sorts of compromises.
11. "Blink of an Eye"
Episode(s): Season 6 Episode 12
On an alien planet, time passes much more quickly than it does for Voyager; a couple of minutes on Voyager is the equivalent of years for this planet's inhabitants. Voyager sees this civilization grow and develop rapidly, and eventually, its people aspire to contact Voyager, which they see as a fixed point in the night sky.
12. "Endgame: Parts 1 & 2"
Episode(s): Season 7 Episodes 25 & 26
With the notable exception of Star Trek: Enterprise, the Star Trek franchise is excellent at sticking the landing in the series finale. The two-part Voyager finale played to the series' strengths. We get time travel--old Admiral Janeway meets younger, present-day Janeway--the Borg, human drama, and moral choice, all rolled into one. And we get a definitive answer to the ultimate question of the show: will the Voyager crew make it home to Earth? Will failure come at a cost? And will there be an even bigger cost to play it safe?