The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Pathfinder

Lieutenant Reginald Barclay has a problem. He’s been working to find a way to contact Voyager, but his superiors don’t believe they should waste precious time and resources on his farfetched plans. Whilst Barclay works to prove them all wrong, he finds solace in a holographic recreation of the Voyager crew.

Pathfinder is clearly written to be pure fan wank, featuring as it does both Lieutenant Barclay and Counsellor Deanna Troi, in a story which only briefly features the real Voyager. Barclay has left the Enterprise and transferred to Earth, where he is just as painfully awkward and shy as ever. If you find watching Barclay stumble over social interaction painful, or cringe when he is fawned over by holograms, you’re going to want to shield your eyes during most of this episode. His best scenes are when he plays with his fluffy cat, Neelix.

That being said, Pathfinder does of course stand out as a novelty episode, making it more memorable than perhaps it deserves. Yes Barclay’s final flight through the holographic Voyager feels a bit messy, but on the other hand, it’s nice to finally see the real Admiral Paris, and learn that, yes, he really does care about Tom. And how much closer does Voyager feel to home now that they’ve talked in real time to Starfleet Command? If anything, a bit too close, as I suddenly found myself nostalgic for the days when Voyager was all alone.

Points of Note

  • Admiral Paris doesn’t seem to realise that the picture of his beloved son as a cadet is actually a photo of Nick Locarno from TNG. Could Nick’s physical similarity to Tom be because Locarno is Owen Paris’s illegitimate son?
  • Barclay says that Voyager is 60,000 light years from home, when they are now only 30-35,000 light years away. How was he ever able to find them when he was looking in entirely the wrong place?
  • The Doctor doesn’t remember Lieutenant Barclay despite meeting a holographic version of him in Projections. I guess The Doctor either did not retain memories of that event, or lost them during the events of The Swarm.
  • Even though Starfleet had an update on Voyager’s crew from The Doctor in season four, Barclay’s holoprogram does not include the fact that the Maquis crewmembers have been incorporated into Starfleet. Seven of Nine and Neelix also do not appear, even though Barclay is clearly sufficiently aware of Neelix to name a cat after him. Then again, would you voluntarily create a hologram of Neelix? Of course you wouldn’t.
  • We know that Barclay was a member of the Enterprise crew during First Contact, which occurred around Voyager season three. Yet at some point he also worked with Dr Lewis Zimmerman on Jupiter Station, presumably in the months before Voyager season one, i.e. during TNG season seven. Perhaps that was a temporary secondment between Enterprise tours.
  • Janeway unequivocally praises Tom in front of his father, conveniently neglecting to mention his recent demotion. I guess Admiral Paris will find out about that when he reads the ship’s logs.
  • At least we know that Admiral Paris still cares about his son, after missing out on the chance to find out what he said to his letter to Tom in season four.
  • I find it amusing that Barclay hangs out with a holographic recreation of the holographic Doctor.

Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 16

Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 10

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 – Pathfinder: In which Voyager finally talks to Earth.

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