Reginal Barclay. You may remember the name from our time on STNG or even a previous episode of Voyager where he was part of a program, regardless, Barclay is back and this time a linchpin in the rediscovery of Voyager itself.
Stepping away from the Delta Quadrant for a moment, originally aired on December 1, 1999 this is Pathfinder.
Project Log Stardate Undetermined. Pathfinder
Lt Barclay finds himself obsessed with the Voyager crew. Seeking help from an old friend he soon discovers that he may have the answer as to how to contact the long lost starship.
Lt Barclay visits with Councilor Troi to both reminisce and have an ear to bend concerning his obsession with Voyager and it’s crew. Barclay soon begins describing his issues with his current posting and how none of his fellow officers want to take his ideas seriously. Believing he can contact Voyager by creating an artificial wormhole using a passing pulsar, he begins to work on this project although he has been ordered to work on something else. Frustrated, Barclay tells Troi that his only comfort was a holographic recreation of Voyager as they were the only people who would take him seriously.
When the Pathfinder project is visited by Admiral Paris, Barclay is unable to keep quiet and informs the Admiral that he believes they can contact Voyager using an artificial wormhole. Commander Harkins trues to mitigate the insane idea, but Barclay has the floor and will not let it go embarrassing himself only to be asked to take the rest of the day off.
Soon Barclay returns to the holodeck (prompting Troi to show concern for his holo-addiction), but the Lieutenant tells her that he believes being with the Voyager crew helps his work. There he can talk to the crew finding a group who encourage his ideas instead of ignoring them. While on the holodeck he begins working on his concept when Commander Harkins walks in shocked at the fact that Barclay has recreated the entire crew of Voyager. It seems Barclay has been in the holodeck for ten hours and Harkins is concerned. Believing Barclay has fallen back into his addition, the Commander removed Barclay from the project, banning him from the lab and the facilities.
Determined to be heard, Barclay waits for Admiral Paris and presents his idea even though the Admiral has been siding with Commander Harkin’s judgement. Barclay argues that his behavior should not doom Voyager and the Admiral agrees to at least review Barclay’s findings.
Back in the present Troi and Barclay continue to discuss the events and she offers to take a leave of absence from the Enterprise in order to help her friend. Barclay begs her to call Admiral Paris to declare the Lieutenant fit for duty but Troi is unable to as she believes that Barclay has done all he can. Troi leaves, promising to be there for Barclay but that night, Barclay decides to take matters into his own hands, breaking into the lab to test his theory.
As Barclay begins his attempt to contact Voyager, Harkins and a security team arrive to stop the apparently wayward Lieutenant. Barclay is able to send off his message moments before the simulation is ended and…
In the Delta Quadrant the crew of Voyager recieve part of a message from Starfleet after finding a small artificial wormhole.
Back on Earth, Admiral Paris informs Harkins and Barclay that he has approved Barclay’s project only to learn that he has already followed through with it. Just as Barclay is about to be forcefully removed, Voyager responds giving Star Fleet their first true contact with Voyager in some time. Before the wormhole collapses Janeway transmits her ships logs and crew reports and talks briefly with Admiral Paris who is pleased to hear that the crew is well, including his son. The Voyager crew celebrates their contact with Star Fleet raising a toast to the unknown Reginald Barclay and the team of the Pathfinder Program.
Back on Earth, Barclay is vindicated and is assigned a position in Project Voyager. He informs Troi that he is also now dating Commander Harkin’s Sister in law, much to Harkin’s dismay.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Pathfinder is a very different kind of episode for Voyager as it doesn’t focus on the crew of Voyager itself but the events following the episode Message in a Bottle. Since that episode, we have not know the results of The Doctor’s message to Star Fleet but it was assumed that Star Fleet would be working on a way to bring Voyager home and Pathfinder not only confirms this but begins the length process that will not completely pay off for some time.
The thing that makes this rather unique episode work so well is that it not only gives us a great continuation of the Voyager Rescue story but connects the series to STNG and even Deep Space Nine creating a solid continuity throughout. Of course, who better to make this sort of thing happen than the beloved goofball engineer Reginal Barclay himself. I love Barclay and to see him return to the franchise was such a delight. Whoever came up with the idea to bring him in as the lynchpin to Voyager reconnecting to Star Fleet was a genius giving us some significant continuity that works through and through. Plus, we got a wonderful opportunity to see Diana Troi return to the franchise further tying Barclay’s history in with this wonderful story.
What I love about this episode is not only the fact that Star Fleet finally contacts Voyager but we get a chance to see the Alpha Quadrant post Dominion War giving us one of the furthest glimpses of Earth prior to the events of the Picard series. The first time I watched this episode, I was more than excited to see the showrunners give us confirmation that Star Fleet was diligently working on a way to bring Voyager and her crew home. I will admit, the ending moments where Janeway and crew have a moment to speak to Star Fleet still chokes me up a bit showing how much this episode works on every level. Additionally, this episode give Tom Paris a little bit of an arc with the confirmation that his father, Admiral Paris, really does care for his wayward son. Tom has come a long way in this series and there are a few moments in this particular episode that really shows his growth.
Overall, while this is not a traditional episode of Voyager, it is a fabulous world building episode that drives the story forward giving both the crew of Voyager and the viewers hope that this lost ship just might return home some day.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -15 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -4 remaining
- Note: The uniforms on Earth reflect the Grey shoulder style that Voyager has yet to adapt.
- DS9 is still active according to this episode although the series has ended. It is not clear who is in command but it is assumed to be Colonel Kira.
- Seven informs Neelix that he cant sing. Seriously, she lays it on him pretty solidly.
- Barclay names his cat Neelix…I wonder how the real Neelix would feel about that. Hmmm, I wonder, do Neelix and Neelix ever meet in real life?
- It is interesting to not that the holographic recreations of Voyager reflect season one uniforms including the Maquis members in their more civilian attire as well as Janeway in her classic bun.
- This is not the last we will see of Barclay…
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Fair Haven
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Late To The Game 1/22/2021
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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