Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Janeway's Decision in "STAR TREK VOYAGER" (3.04) "The Swarm"


Over an hour ago, I had just finished watching the early Season Three "STAR TREK: VOYAGER" episode, (3.04) "The Swarm". And after watching it, I was reminded on why I have disliked it so much for so many years. 

Although most of the story focused around Kes' efforts to save the Doctor's degrading matrix, the B-plot focused around Voyager's efforts to cut short fifteen months of their journey by trespassing through the territory of a species named by Voyager's crew as the Swarm. Now, Chief of Security, then Lieutenant Tuvok tried to remind Captain Kathryn Janeway that the territory belonged to these aliens and that they had every right not to allow other travelers through their space. After two seasons, Janeway decided to adopt the "Maquis way" and ignore Tuvok. Instead, she labeled the Swarm as"bullies" - as if that was a sufficient reason for Voyager to commit trespassing - and led the ship into "the Swarm's" space.

I am quite certain that most Trek fans would disagree with me, but I found Janeway's actions to be more of a "bully" than the Swarm. If some aliens had decided to trespass into Federation space, despite Starfleet's decision to ban them, I bet that both Janeway and Chakotay would be among the first to defend Starfleet's decision. But being the arrogant Starfleet officers they were, I guess they decided that they simply lacked the patience to add fifteen months to a journey that already left Voyager with 68 or 69 years left to reach Earth. Fifteen months against 68 or 69 years. Hmmmm. Was Janeway's effort to ignore "the Swarm's" wishes really worth it? Personally . . . I do not think so. 

During the series' the first two seasons, Janeway struggled to rigidly stick to Starfleet protocols. In "The Swarm", she decided to drop this command style and adopt Chakotay's method of utilizing "the Maquis way". This decision eventually led to Janeway's disastrous alliance with the Borg during their war against Species 8472.

I have read both Jim Wright and Julia Houston's reviews of this particular episode. Wright practically celebrated Janeway's decision to ignore Tuvok's advise and trespass into the Swarm's territory. Frankly, I was not surprised. During the show's first three seasons, Wright had made it clear that he disliked Tuvok. In fact, I can only wonder if his dislike of Tuvok had blinded him to Chakotay's constant taunting of the Vulcan during the show's first season. Apparently, anything that would cut the Vulcan down to size seemed to satisfy him. And I also noticed that he also seemed to enjoy a vicarious thrill in Janeway telling the Swarm to go fuck themselves. Perhaps her aggressive move brought back memories of the "good old days" of Captain James T. Kirk's arrogant "gunboat diplomacy" attitude toward various species hostile toward the Federation.

Then I read Julia Houston's review. Although she seemed to believe that Tuvok was right in advising Janeway not to invade the Swarm's territory, a small part of her felt a "twinge of imperialistic satisfaction" that Voyager did it anyway. Apparently, the Swarm's attitude to keeping invaders at bay irked her. What can I say? I get the feeling that deep down, she was just as thrilled as Wright.

Frankly, I found Janeway's decision a little repellent. Then again, I have never cared for any of the other Starfleet captains' arrogant attitude toward other aliens. It was this same attitude that led Starfleet to ignore the Dominion's wishes and invade their space in the Gamma Quadrant in "STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE". A decision that led to a brutal two-year war against the Dominion. I also recalled an "STAR TREK: ORIGINAL SERIES" episode called (1.23) "A Taste of Armageddon" in which Jim Kirk forced two societies to end their war by destroying the computers that had conducted the war, and insisted that Federation society was better than theirs. This act forced the two warring aliens to turn to the Federation in the end. That episode had repelled me just as much as Janeway's decision in "The Swarm". Kirk's intent may have been noble, but the manner in which he stopped a war that had no impact upon the Federation struck me as the arrogant moves of a bully. 

Do not get me wrong. I am a big fan of the STAR TREK franchise. I always have been a fan and I always will be one. But there are some aspects of the STAR TREK franchise (both movies and television) that has turned me off. One of those aspects was the habit of Starfleet captains making arrogant decisions against the wishes of those aliens they sometimes encounter. Decisions that the Federation would have definitely resented if some group of aliens had done the same to them. I guess that in their view, what is good for the Federation (or Starfleet) was not good for those other aliens. I find such attitudes rather distasteful.

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