Voyager‘s “Caretaker” in Review
Star Trek: Voyager’s pilot episode, the two-part “Caretaker”, had to accomplish several goals. It needed to introduce nine regular characters, plus the premise of the series, as well as getting the viewer interested enough to tune in for future episodes.
The pilot’s pre-credits scene, with a displacement wave causing Chakotay’s Maquis raider to go missing, is action packed. Starting the episode with action leaves room for the next few scenes to be more dialogue- and character-driven.
When we meet the Emergency Medical Hologram whom we will later come to know as “the Doctor”, his brusque personality comes through in only a few minutes of screen time. The illusory farm setting established shortly thereafter is bucolic, and Neelix’s sweet personality brings a little bit of levity to a serious storyline, a role he’ll play throughout the series. When he beams aboard Voyager, we see the fun dynamic between him and Tuvok as he gives the Vulcan a hug.
When the Kazon first appear in this episode, they are certainly aggressive, but they don’t seem very technologically advanced, since they haven’t figured out how to make water. It’s a little surprising when they show up later with formidable starships.
We’re immediately sympathetic to Kes, however, as soon as she makes her first appearance, bruises and all. And when Neelix reveals that his true mission is to rescue his beloved Kes, it makes us like him more, even though he has carried out that mission by essentially using the Voyager crew for his own ends.
Ultimately, “Caretaker” is an effective pilot, establishing the overarching plot of the series, as well as opening the door for episodic adventures along the way. It efficiently sketches out the regular characters and some of their relationships. When I first saw the Voyager pilot, I was immediately hooked by the premise and the characters.
I was pleased to see Star Trek: Voyager drop the Kazon as recurring villains after the first season – they were never very convincing as a threat. And, of course, I was very happy to be part of Voyager’s journey for a few seasons myself. The series stayed true to the characters established in the pilot, and made good use of the overarching storyline it established.
A staff writer on Star Trek: Voyager, Lisa Klink worked on that series for three years. She has also worked on several other shows, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Roswell, and Pandora. Lisa has written or co-written four novels, as well as short stories, graphic novels and screenplays.