Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Character Insight No. 171: Best of Kathryn Janeway

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here 

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we continue the "Best Of" series with a look at our final character from Voyager, Captain Kathryn Janeway. Here are some of her best episodes. 

Janeway Season7.jpg

(The Captain, courtesy Wikipedia)

In the Season 2 episode Deadlock, a bizarre nebula causes Voyager to be duplicated into one highly damaged version and another undamaged version connected by space-time rifts. This leads Captain Janeway to debate with herself, or another version of herself, the appropriate fate of the crew when one Voyager has to be self-destructed for the sake of the other.

Captain Kathryn Janeway #1: We can't just stand by and let you all be killed. Captain Kathryn Janeway #2: I'm not about to let that happen. I'll destroy this ship. Captain Kathryn Janeway #1: I don't suppose there's any way I can change your mind. I know how stubborn you can be.

Although this premise is taken to an extreme limit, you learn a lot about how Janeway thinks and values her crew and ship in that episode. In the two-part Season 4 episode Year of Hell, Voyager ends up in a year long war with a time-manipulating warlord who is messing with timelines to restore his people and resurrect his wife. This year of conflict pushes everyone to the brink, including the Captain who must sacrifice her ship in an effort to restore everything back to normal.

Captain Kathryn Janeway: Tuvok, I can hear your objections already. I am not leaving. Tuvok: Given Voyager's damaged state, the probability of your surviving an armed conflict... is marginal. Captain Kathryn Janeway: Oh, I know the odds. But I have to stay. Voyager's done too much for us. Tuvok: Curious. I have never understood the Human compulsion to emotionally bond with inanimate objects. This vessel has done nothing. It is an assemblage of bulkheads, conduits, tritanium. Nothing more. Captain Kathryn Janeway: Oh, you're wrong. It's much more than that. This ship has been our home. It's kept us together. It's been part of our family. As illogical as this might sound, I feel as close to Voyager as I do to any other member of my crew. It's carried us, Tuvok - even nurtured us. And right now, it needs one of us.

When not being stereotypically heroic with her ship, we catch glimpses of how hard it would be for Janeway to let go of her duty to her crew and the mission in the Season 2 episode Resolutions. Covered by Mike and Darrell recently, this episode features Janeway struggling with a transition to a new life with Chakotay stranded on a planet where they contracted a deadly virus preventing them from leaving with Voyager.

Captain Kathryn Janeway: You know, Chakotay, it occurs to me we aren't exactly in a command structure anymore. Maybe you should call me "Kathryn". Commander Chakotay: Give me a few days on that one, okay?

Finally, we have the Season 3 episode Coda, in which Janeway experiences what she thinks is death but is really just an alien trying to coax her spirit away from her body to feed on it. The alien takes the form of her admiral father, which leads to some interesting dialogue showing Janeway's past and values.

Captain Kathryn Janeway: I have to know what's going to happen to them. To see Kes continue to grow and learn. To know if Tom and B'Elanna will ever stop sparring with each other and develop a real friendship. Admiral Edward Janeway: You can only be an observer of their lives, never a participant. Captain Kathryn Janeway: I don't care. I'd rather be here in spirit than not at all. A captain doesn't abandon ship!

Captain Janeway has a very dynamic character arc during the seven seasons of Voyager, and it is truly difficult to narrow down her best character pieces. However, for further enjoyment, most of the Borg episodes also reveal how far Janeway is willing to stretch herself for the sake of Starfleet and the crew, and these should not be missed either. Also check out Counterpoint from Season 5, which doesn't have great quotes but it is perhaps the best Janeway-centric episode in the series.

Until next time, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and don't go down with your ship. 


Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy.

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