While the ensemble cast of STAR TREK: VOYAGER shared seven years together on screen, their opinions regarding the finale and the future of the franchise differ as much as do their favorite episodes. After "Endgame" debuted back in May, UPN stations across the country broadcast diverse coverage on the STAR TREK phenomena depicting some cast members making the talk shows rounds, as well as others celebrating the title ship's return to the planet Earth with fans (Tim Russ and Garrett Wang, who played Tuvok and Harry Kim respectively, were at the STAR TREK Experience in Las Vegas). In the end, however, they all agree that the trek has been a bittersweet one.
"Endgame" - Voyager Returns to the Alpha Quadrant
It's no surprise that in the two-hour finale, Voyager at long last finds it back home. Viewers discovered within the episode's first 10 minutes that during its trip back to the Alpha Quadrant, Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) died on an away mission, Tuvok lost his sanity to a rare Vulcan disease, and several other members of the crew become casualties of the ship's "galactic wrong turn." In an attempt to erase these fatalities from ever having happened, an older, future version of Admiral Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) decides to travel back in time to help get her ship home using future technology.
This said, it should comes as no surprise that Mulgrew loves the finale. Not only does the Captain bring her ship home, but the actress also gets the opportunity to play two characters. Admiral Janeway sacrifices her life so that Captain Janeway and her crew can survive.
"It was a huge challenge because I am playing two characters," says Mulgrew. "I was delighted with the finale. When I say that, I say that very authentically. In the end, they came up with a story that will satisfy just about everybody, even the most skeptical."
Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris) agrees with the captain's sentiment. His character survives in both timelines, even providing audiences with a glimpse of he and B'Elanna Torres' (Roxann Dawson) daughter as both a newborn and an adult it's one of those time travel things. However, the actor along with many other members of the cast uses the word bittersweet to describe the finale: "It's very bittersweet, the last episode. There is a very big twist. I think the fans are going to like it."
The twist he mentions is the aforementioned time travel Admiral Janeway going back to help her crew return home early. In doing so, she prevents the death of Seven, whom we learn has become romantically involved with Chakotay (Robert Beltran). During "Endgame," the audience witnesses the two dating and learns that they are destined to marry.
However, despite winning the girl, the outspoken Beltran is not as pleased with the episode as his fellow cast mates. Applying this sentiment to several other episodes in the series' seven-year stint, the actor feels that the finale was badly written.
"[I'm] not particularly [happy with the finale]," says Beltran. "I am just being honest. I really don't have time to try to placate the fans or whoever. The writers get a lot of flack, deservedly. They want to write science fiction. All of us, in front of the camera, behind the camera, have to live and die with the written word. So the writers get a lot of praise and they get a lot of criticism. That's the way it should be."
Also surviving both timelines is Wang's character and as Captain Kim, he discovers Admiral Janeway's plan and potential violation of Star Fleet directives. However, he, too, mirrors Beltran's disappointment with the episode, although not as intensely.
"To be honest with you, I loved the first part, not because I had a fairly heavy role in it, but because it kept you guessing," says Wang. "For me, when I read a script, after seven years, I know the direction that it's going to be going in. But for the first part of the finale, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Then, the second part came around, and I really think honestly that it was a little too Kate-heavy."
In the end, Admiral Janeway defeats the Borg Queen (Alice Krige) and Voyager arrives home via a Borg ship.
"The ending ties it up way too fast," continues Wang. "I am still a little confused by the ending. There's a Borg sphere, then all of a sudden there is a cube. Where is the cube coming from? Then the sphere and the cube blow. It's a little confusing to me. It draws it out, draws it out, draws it out, and then, everything is tied up in the last second."
However confusing it may be, it is obvious that the ship finally makes it home safely and in one piece.
No two actors from the VOYAGER crew agree on a mutual favorite episode. Naturally enough, they all tend to enjoy particular scripts that highlight their own characters.
Wang likes the third season episode "The Chute." He also enjoys the episode "Timeless." This was VOYAGER's 100th episode and aired during the fifth season. Written by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky, it was another variation on time travel, in which Kim and Chakotay are the only crewmembers that make it into the future. "Endgame" most definitely echoes some of this episode.
"I did like 'Timeless'," says Wang. "'Timeless' I think would have been even better if it would have been a two-parter, but they wanted to keep it within a one episode arc, and so that's the way it stood."
Although Beltran's character also figured prominently in "Timeless," the actor does not particularly care for the episode.
"'Timeless' I was disappointed in, because there was not a satisfactory ending for my character," says Beltran. "I didn't think they wrapped him up as effectively as they could have. So it's not one of my favorite episodes."
However, the finicky actor does like the fourth season's "Unforgettable," guest starring Virginia Madsen. Other Beltran favorites include both episodes featuring the late Ray Walston, "In the Flesh," and "The Fight." Beltran also enjoys early scripts with prominent Maquis plot lines from the pilot.
"I liked 'Tattoo' a lot, and I liked 'Day of Honor'," adds the actor. "I liked 'Maneuvers' and I liked 'Parallax.'"
From season seven, Mulgrew particularly remembers the two-part "Flesh and Blood:" "The Doctor wanted to celebrate himself as a hologram, and wanted the essence of the hologram to be exalted and therefore chose to go to another ship. My confrontations with him in that episode were terrific."
From other seasons, Mulgrew tends to single out favorite episodes which guest starred friends. She and John de Lancie have been buddies for more than 20 years, so she mentions episodes with Q, including "Deathwish" and "The Q and the Grey." She also likes Captain Janeway's rare romantic encounters, almost completely limited to "Counterpoint" and "Workforce."
"If I were to handpick the most gratifying to play, it probably would be 'Counterpoint'," says Mulgrew. "Much earlier on, 'Deathwish,' I loved."
Dawson recognizes favorite episodes that feature B'Elanna Torres. What are some of them?
"Probably 'Faces' which was in the first year, an episode called 'Dreadnought' and definitely 'Lineage'," says Dawson. "I really enjoyed doing 'Muse.' That was a lot of fun, and also very well written by Joe Menosky."
As the VOYAGER actors leave behind their steady seven-year acting gig (another bittersweet experience), many fall back on their multiple skills beyond acting, as well as their families who are demanding attention. Mulgrew in particular believes that she may have neglected her family while honoring Janeway.
"I am going to take some time to reflect," says Mulgrew. "I am going to be very involved with the people that I have missed, namely my kids, my husband, my family. Then I would like to go back to the theater. That would be my exclusive focus, I think."
Dawson, Picardo, Russ, and McNeill all directed episodes of VOYAGER, with Dawson tapped to direct an episode of the upcoming ENTERPRISE series. McNeill also hopes to land the chance to direct in the next series.
"I'd love after STAR TREK: VOYAGER is over to come back and direct the next series, like Jonathan Frakes, and LeVar Burton have done," says McNeil. "To continue to be involved as a director in the STAR TREK world. I love the crew here. It's going to be a lot of our crew going onto the next show. I'd love to stay a part of the STAR TREK family that way."
Russ will follow multiple career goals, one in particular stems from a recently recorded CD.
"I intend to pursue music," says Russ. "I am currently producing a second CD. I am working on a children's audio book series, as well as developing two feature projects and a TV series. I will also pursue directing."
Picardo is working on countless endeavors, including, among other things, a VOYAGER novel for Simon and Schuster, a number of television pilots, and a CD of his convention song parodies.
"I have plenty to do," laughs Picardo. "I have personal projects. We are moving. When you are younger it seems like it takes you three days to move or a week to move, and then it starts taking you six months to a year to actually accomplish the whole thing."
While almost everyone agrees that they would enjoy playing their characters again, it seems unlikely at the moment that the opportunity will arise. When asked if she thinks audiences will ever see any of the VOYAGER cast again, Dawson chuckles, "I have no idea. There are a lot of 'ifs,' but I don't think it has even been talked about or discussed on any level at this point."
Wang, on the other hand, is much more candid about a possible VOYAGER feature film.
"I would love to shoot a STAR TREK motion picture," says Wang. "Growing up, when I think STAR TREK, I think STAR TREK movies, because that's what I went to see. I am a sci-fi fan. I saw all the sci-fi movies. I very rarely watched sci-fi television shows. The only way for us to do a theatrical film, would be if Patrick Stewart said, 'I'm done. Thank you, it's been great. Picard is over end of picture and end of character. Put him in the history books.' The rumor is that after this film is completed he's over with it, and that Brent Spiner [Data] is also done with it. But I don't foresee that happening, though. If someone came up to me every four years and said, 'Hey, here's $15 million. Go back and do that one character you can do like the back of your hand. You've done if for so long. Have another $15 million Patrick.' I think he'd do it, unless he really, really just felt that he wanted to distance himself from the character. Unless he steps down, I really don't see a future for a VOYAGER film. I just don't think it will happen."
In the meantime, ENTERPRISE will be the next TV show, set centuries before VOYAGER, and the next film will feature the cast of THE NEXT GENERATION. As for special appearances by the VOYAGER cast in either film or some other incarnation, fans will just have to wait and see.