Since Star Trek The Next Generation it seems that it is a series tradition to have the Captain die and experience the afterlife in some form of another. Coda, which aired on January 29, 1997 is Janeway’s episode in which she does just that.
Captain’s Log Stardate 50518.6 Coda
After her death, Janeway is visited by her father but something doesn’t feel right…
After discussing the talent show from the previous night with Neelix, Janeway and Chakotay head out on an away mission. Soon, however, they find themselves forced down to a nearby planet due to strange interference. In the crash, Janeway is hurt but revived by her first officer. Their attackers, now revealed to be the Vidiians, are led to them by Janeway’s homing beacon only to kill both Chakotay and Janeway in short order.
But wait, there’s more.
Chakotay and Janeway find themselves back in the shuttle discussing the talent show again. Soon they realize that they have already experienced this and try to change the time loop. However, they soon find themselves in a firefight resulting in a warp core breach destroying the ship before they can escape…only they wake up again in the shuttle again confused at what is going on.
This time the Vidiians attempt to intercept their shuttle but Janeway is able to contact Voyager to assist. Using a tachyon burst to disrupt the time loop both ships vanish and they are brought back unharmed. Upon returning Janeway learns that only she remembers the time loop and things get worse when she learns that she has contracted the Vidiian Phage. Promising to find a cure, the Doctor places her in quarantine but she is awakened soon after with horrible sores. The Doctor informs her that they have no way to save her and, despite her protests, kills her using gas.
Waking again on the shuttle with Chakotay they witness a bright light in front of them that strikes the ship. Janeway finds herself out of her body as Chakotay attempts to revive her. Returning to the ship, Chakotay rushes the dying Captain to sickbay as Spirit Janeway watches on. Attempting to get Kes to notice her using Kes’ mental abilities, the young Ocampan alerts the crew that the Captain is still alive and might be stuck in subspace. Just as Tuvok offers to help Kes, Captain Janeway is approached by her father, Vice Admiral Janeway.
Informing his daughter that he is there to take her to the next world, Admiral Janeway tells her that she died in the shuttlecraft. Refusing to accept that she is dead, she insists on waiting for Kes to sense her again. Rushing to Tuvok’s quarters, Janeway is saddened when Kes claims that she no longer feels Captain Janeway. Tuvok agrees that maybe Kes wanted to feel the Captain and that Janeway is in fact dead. Having waited three days with no success, the crew accept her passing.
The next day Janeway witnesses a heartwarming memorial held in her honor with her crew each giving their eulogies. Admiral Janeway tells Katherine to finally accept her fate but Katherine still refuses. Captain Janeway refuses to listen and soon begins to have flashes her friends trying to revive her. Soon she realizes that this is not her father and she is in fact not dead, everything she has experienced has been, in fact, a hallucination.
Admiral Janeway admits that he is in fact an alien who’s species assists the dying in the moment of their passing. It is in fact trying to help her pass peacefully and only took her father’s form to help her manage the event of her death. Still doubtful, Katherine demands to know the truth. She soon realizes that this alien has been trying to get her to come with it for some reason other than a peaceful death and refuses again. The alien becomes agitated and finally admits defeat but it will eventually return for her to add her to its matrix as its food.
Waking on the planet, The Doctor informs Janeway that an alien being in her cerebral cortex prevented their attempts. Back on the ship, Janeway is greeted by Chakotay who presents her with a rose. Janeway muses that maybe every near-death experience is this alien species but Chakotay believes that it may be something unique to this area of space. Janeway hopes so as well. The two head off together to enjoy each others company on a holodeck recreation of Lake George.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
In premise, this had the potential to be a solid episode. In fact, this being attacking Janeway in her death could have been a fantastic reoccurring threat to her and the crew. Unfortunately this episode comes across as a rushed mess touching on a story that probably would have been served as an Outer Limits or Twilight Zone than a Star Trek episode.
The one thing that did come out of this episode was that it managed to give Katherine Janeway some interesting back story regarding her father and what may have been her inspiration to join Star Fleet. We learn that her father, who goes unnamed in this episode, died tragically under an icecap on Tau Ceti Prime. What he was doing there was never clarified on the series but given more backstory in apocrypha. Interestingly, there is a strange uniform mistake with Vice Admiral Janeway regarding his com badge. The bade he uses would not have existed at the time of his death in 2258 and should have been the circular version from STNG. It is believed this was a costume oversight but I think this was a mistake by the alien itself as it was feeding off of Katherine Janeway’s memories and could have easily overlooked such a small detail. This could be one of the reasons Katherine felt something was strange about her ‘father’ but could not put her finger on it.
I do have to question why both the Captain and the First officer of a starship felt it prudent to leave the ship alone together on an away mission. Even if they felt it was safe to do, this seems like a massive dereliction of duty on their part. Seems someone has never brushed up on their regulations, specifically Star fleet Code Section 12 Paragraph 4 recommending that the Captain of a starship NOT join away missions. I imagine both senior officers off the ship at the same time would be severely frowned upon.
Overall, this is a throw-a-way episode that had some potential but sadly was never follow-up on order really fully explored. I mean, the creature even gives a very specific threat to Janeway claiming he will be waiting for her to join his matrix. Who knows, maybe we will eventually get some closure on this story if they ever revisit Janeway’s character but I doubt it. Kate Mulgrew does a fantastic job with this one as she normally does but frankly, it seems to be a complete waste of an episode.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 28 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 5 remaining.
- While the Vidiians ‘appear’ in this episode they were just hallucinations and Voyager will not encounter them again in the series.
- We learn that Janeway does Ballet…specifically Swan Lake.
- and what is going on between Janeway and Chakotay? Sharing a bottle of champagne on a private holo-program….are we sure this episode wasn’t really fan fiction that got slipped in by mistake?
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Late To The Game 8/10/2020
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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