Voyager receives its first mission from Starfleet in seven years – to retrieve Friendship One, a probe sent out from Earth in the 22nd century. But to their dismay, the crew discovers that the probe and its message of friendship indirectly triggered a terrible war on the planet it landed on – and that the survivors blame humanity for what happened.
Back in the day, Friendship One was billed to us as an important episode, because a regular character was going to lose their life. What we didn’t know until the episode aired was that the character who met their end was Joseph Carey. Yep, good old Joe Carey, the engineer we haven’t seen nor heard from since way back in season one (well, barring a couple of flashbacks), a man who wasn’t even mentioned when Torres needed someone to take over in Engineering. Had Carey remained a recurring character throughout the show, and had we not been deadened to the loss of incidental characters by DS9’s murderous tendencies, perhaps we might have cared. As it stands, it’s hard to summon up the merest flicker of emotion – especially when a main character might well have survived the exact same gunshot wound.
As for the story itself, it’s a fair attempt at a typical Star Trek story. This one is a cautionary tale about what goes wrong when the Prime Directive isn’t in place – in fact, it practically bludgeons us about the head with it. Fortunately, Voyager is able to save the day, and everyone lives happily ever after – well, except Carey, but who cares about that?
Points of Note
- For years I’ve been annoyed that Carey died from such a simple gunshot wound, but I guess as he was shot by an antimatter weapon the damage might have been too much for The Doctor to repair.
- It’s tempting to think the death might have been more poignant if, say, Harry Kim, had been the one to get shot. Except a) no one cares about Harry Kim and b) it would have looked like a cheap last ditch attempt to boost ratings.
- Did we really need that whole bit about B’Elanna wanting to go on the mission but being talked out of it? Sure, she probably shouldn’t be exposing an unborn child to all that radiation, but it just rubs it in that even in the 24th century, pregnant women need to be coddled and never allowed to be do anything.
- Seven claims that she is unique amongst Voyager’s crew for having nanoprobes in her blood, even though Icheb presumably also has them.
Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 17
Destroyed Delta Flyer running total: 1
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 10
Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 4.5
Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 5
Summary – Friendship One: In which Carey dies, and no one cares.