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Star Trek: Voyager – Coda (Review)

In many ways, the Jeri Taylor era of Star Trek: Voyager represented a reaction to the direction that the show had taken under Michael Piller.

Michael Piller had imagined a more dynamic and adventurous version of the show, focusing on two crews thrown together by fate and forced to coexist while journeying through uncharted territory. After seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Piller was understandably (and perhaps justifiably) concerned that the second iteration of Star Trek might have been growing somewhat stale. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was in the process of breaking new ground, and Piller felt that it was necessary for the franchise to find a new direction and identity.

Daddy's home.

Daddy’s home.

This is a good idea in theory. In practice, Michael Piller’s vision was disastrous. Piller wanted to do new things, but found himself working with a staff vehemently opposed to his vision of the series and phoning in scripts that should have been provocative like Alliances or Investigations. More than that, Piller was unable to properly realise his own ambitions, citing scripts like Tattoo as incredibly accomplishments rather than recognising them for the embarrassing failures that they were. When Piller was ousted after the second season, Jeri Taylor took over.

Jeri Taylor would oversee the third and fourth seasons of Voyager. She had a very clear vision of what Voyager should be, a rather conservative and generic iteration of the larger Star Trek franchise. Traditionally, the third season had served as a point of transition for the Star Trek spin-offs. It was in their third seasons that The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine really broke the mould and discovered their own unique identities. In contrast,t he third season of Voyager marked a point of retreat from the basic premise of the show.

Carry on regardless.

Carry on regardless.

Taylor wanted to focus on telling very safe and familiar Star Trek stories, ones that did not necessarily rely upon the premise of the show. There are any number of episodes where this approach simply did not work, with episodes like Warlord or The Q and the Grey or Alter Ego feeling like reheated Star Trek leftovers. However, there were points at which Taylor’s approach paid off. Future’s End, Part I and Future’s End, Part II were pure popcorn, but they worked on those terms. It didn’t matter that nobody seemed too bothered at getting Voyager back to Earth.

Coda is another example of the strengths of Taylor’s approach to Voyager. It is a very familiar and archetypal episode of Star Trek, one that might have been assembled from the leftover pieces of Cause and Effect or Tapestry. However, that relative simplicity becomes a strength, allowing Taylor to craft a script focusing on Janeway and giving Kate Mulgrew some meaty material into which she might sink her teeth. There is nothing particularly new or exciting here, but there is something to be said for executing old standards with such charm.

Of course he's evil. He's an admiral.

Of course he’s evil. He’s an admiral.

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