Star Trek: Voyager – Season 1, Episode 5 – “Phage” – An Introduction to a Fascinating Antagonist With the Story Brought Down by Neelix

    “Phage” gives us one of the best antagonists to come out of “Voyager.” I’ll get into them in the review but their compelling backstory and complex motivations make them fascinating. It is a shame that the one they hurt is Neelix when Neelix does everything in this episode to make sure you’ll hate him. Luckily the episode doesn’t hinge on Neelix as Janeway, Chakotay, The Doctor and Kes all get some great development this episode.

The episode was directed by Winrich Koble with Teleplay by Skye Dent and Brannon Braga and story by Timothy DeHaas.

The story follows Voyager when they investigate a planet for dilithium, as they are in need of resources. When Neelix goes with the away team his lungs are stolen by a mysterious alien leaving the crew to rush to stop get back his lungs or find a way for him to live.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Captain Janeway and Chakotay – This episode starts out really strong before we get to Neelix. We have Janeway and Chakotay talking to each other about breakfast and you get an idea of how they’ve been roughing it since the replicators broke (they are on replicator rations). It is a sweet moment that adds dimension to their relationship which helps as Chakotay leads the away team and is the main crewmember investigating this mysterious threat.

The Doctor and Kes – The Doctor is really humanized in this episode as we realize that he has no help beyond Tom Paris. This leads to Kes advocating for him in order to be his nurse so he isn’t alone. It is really in the moments where Neelix is being a dick to him and his extreme patience and Kes advocating for him that show how he is more than a program. I’m glad Kes became his aid as he did need it and their relationship is neat as Kes is really the first character to really recognize his humanity and rights. Also Picardo’s charm is on display as he rolls his eyes at how annoying Neelix is. The Doctor is easily one of my favorite characters on “Voyager.”

The Vidiians – The Vidiians are a fantastic antagonist. You have a species dying from a phage that has decimated and continues to destroy their population. Their only way to live is by harvesting organs from other lifeforms. They are in constant pain because of the phage and because of it do not fear death. I think it is this lack of fear (and their saving of Neelix by transplanting Kes’s lung in him) that leads to Captain Janeway letting them go. Suffice to say, they do show up again as a threat.

The Cons:

Neelix – Neelix is the worst part of this episode. He is selfish (keeps going on how Kes just wants to be with Paris) and is complaining all the time the Doctor and starts out the episode taking over an area of the ship to cook. His losing his lungs happens because he refused to listen to Chakotay too. Chakotay told him to pull back and he refused to listen. Seriously this episode only has Neelix as a negative and is a great example of why I’m not a fan of the character.

This is an enjoyable episode that is nearly good. It has so much going for it but having far too much time with Neelix and not enough time developing the aspects that worked kept it from getting to good or great. If you are a fan of “Voyager” it still one I recommend though. The Vidiians are a fascinating antagonist and I wish they could have got more stories in “Voyager.” They were one of the few original aliens that really made a mark on the series.

FInal Score: 7.8 / 10

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