Voyager is surprised to receive a distress call from another Federation ship stranded in the Delta Quadrant – the USS Equinox. Like Voyager, the Equinox was brought to the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker, but as a smaller and less powerful ship, they have had a much harder time of it – leading them to abandon their Starfleet principles in the face of a quicker route home.
Even though I’m about to nitpick the hell out of it, I have to make it clear up front – I love Equinox. In fact, it’s probably tied with Endgame as my favourite Voyager season finale. Even though the basic idea is immediately reminiscent of that time the original Battlestar Galactica randomly discovered the Pegasus, never let it be said that I don’t have a soft spot for the occasional ‘here’s a previously unmentioned second lost ship’ storyline. In fact, it’s amazing the Delta Quadrant isn’t littered with such ships.
Anyway, Equinox does a great job of introducing a foil for Janeway, in the form of Captain Ransom. Janeway knows Ransom by reputation, and has lot of respect for him – at least until she finds out that he’s been killing alien beings just to get home more quickly. At that point, all bets are off, as Janeway goes into full on punishment mode, determined to make Ransom pay for betraying Starfleet principles.
Whilst not the deepest of characters, Ransom’s crew also add an extra dimension to the story. We have Max Burke, the competitive and amoral first officer who also just happens to be B’Elanna’s ex-boyfriend; Marla Gilmore, a traumatised ensign who hates what her crew is doing, but initially lacks the bravery to stand up for what she believes in; Noah Lessing, whose main function is to be loyal to Ransom whilst also drooling over Seven of Nine and the other women aboard Voyager, plus an evil version of The Doctor. Robert Picardo is certainly getting plenty of opportunities to play alternate personalities.
It also doesn’t hurt that Equinox is full of action – with two starships on screen, and frequent incursions from aliens that can appear anywhere on the ship, the tension is always high. We even get an exciting cliffhanger at the end of part one, in which Janeway appears to be about to meet her end.
And now the nitpicks
- Ransom explains that the first alien corpse enabled them to travel 10,000 light years in two weeks. Since they were at most 70,000 light years from Earth, surely this means they only need six more aliens, rather than sixty-three. If anything, the refinement of aliens into fuel should become more efficient, not less.
- If the Equinox has travelled at least 10,000 light years from where they first summoned an alien, how are the Ankari still so close by? Are the Ankari actually secretly using the aliens to power their own warp travel?
- According to this episode, Voyager and Equinox are 35,000 light years from Earth, not the 30,000 light years I estimated recently.
- Janeway tells Ransom she has never broken the Prime Directive, even though I would argue that she has at the very least applied it inconsistently over these last five years. Also, it was completely rescinded during the events of The Omega Directive. Stop acting so holier-than-thou, Janeway – for one thing, you were responsible for the massacre of Species 8472 at the hands of the Borg.
- It’s amazing that Voyager never heard anything about Equinox on their travels up until now – can they really have taken such vastly different routes?
- On a similar note, how has Ransom completely avoided meeting the Borg?
- It seems as if Equinox’s crew – or at least its surviving crew – are entirely human. I guess some might be Betazoid, or have Betazoid heritage, but could an empath really go along with the murder of the aliens?
- Why is it only now that it occurs to The Doctor and Seven to make security modifications to his program to prevent tampering? Why is Starfleet so bad at security? Also, surely by now The Doctor’s program is so complex that his ‘ethical subroutines’ can’t simply be deleted?
Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 15
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 9
Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 3
Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 5
Summary – Equinox: Two starships equals double jeopardy.