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Recap / Star Trek: Voyager S5 E25, S6 E1: "Equinox"

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Another Federation ship in the Delta Quadrant? Man, what are the odds of that?
Voyager encounters another Federation ship that has been stranded in the Delta Quadrant, only to discover that they have been using aliens as a power source and a means to get back home.

This episode provides examples of

  • Action Prologue: Equinox under attack.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Burke calls B'Elanna "BLT" (her initials) and she calls him "petaQ". When Tom shows symptoms of jealousy over this, Harry calls him "Turkey Platter" (TP being his initials).
    • And then Jim "Reviewboy" Wright gets into the act:
      "Clapping Tom on the elbow in a sympathetic "sucks to be you" gesture, Hot Kimchinote  leaves Turkey Platternote  to simmer in his own juices."
  • Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The nucleogenic lifeforms don't believe that humans would really attack other humans, although a quick perusal of any era of human history could clear up that misconception.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: After Ransom okays operating on Seven and tries to cover with I Did What I Had to Do.
    Seven: You destroy lifeforms to attain your goals, then claim that they left you no choice. Does that logic comfort you?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Seven forgives the Doctor for turning evil and doing unauthorised brain surgery, but gets a little of her own back by claiming that his rendition of My Darling Clementine was off key. The Doctor challenges her to a duet.
  • Asshole Victim: The Equinox crew that mutinied against Captain Ransom following his Heel–Face Turn, including B'Elanna's old flame.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Turns out that there's a Starfleet regulation (specifically Regulation 191, Article 14) stating that in combat situations, the captain of the more heavily-armed ship has overall command. In real-world militaries, it's usually the senior captain who would make the final call, based on date of promotion. (Although the episode's novelization reveals that Janeway only quotes half the regulation, and it doesn't actually allow her to order Ransom and his crew to Abandon Ship.) As Reviewboy summarizes, "When you're flying Brute Force One, you call the shots."
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: When asked, Janeway tells Ransom that she's never broken the Prime Directive, just... "bent" it on occasion.
  • Bond One-Liner: After the Doctor deletes the Equinox' EMH and shuts off the transmission to Burke.
    Doctor: I'm afraid your physician is no longer on call.
  • Broken Pedestal: Ransom is famous in Starfleet for rediscovering a species thought to be extinct and making first contact with them; as a fellow scientist, Janeway always wanted to meet him. Be Careful What You Wish For ... And it turns out that he's been killing sentient lifeforms to use as fuel, violating his oath as a Starfleet officer. Janeway's ensuing Death Glare is almost as deadly as the nucleogenic lifeforms.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Ransom cites these for his actions, maintaining that getting the paltry survivors of his crew home necessitated using sentient creatures as fuel. Janeway doesn't buy it for a minute.
  • Change the Uncomfortable Subject: When Janeway asks Ransom about his Prime Directive violations, he says something ambiguous about "walking that line once or twice" before drawing attention to the fallen dedication plaque on The Bridge.
  • Cliffhanger: An alien swoops down on Captain Janeway...To Be Continued.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Recognizing that Equinox is otherwise no match for Voyager, Burke has his EMH transmit information about Voyager's Deflector Shields, allowing Equinox's torpedoes to penetrate those shields and damage Voyager directly. By the time the Doctor beats his Evil Counterpart, they've done enough damage to leave Voyager adrift.
    • After earlier being outsmarted by the Equinox's EMH, The Doctor wins round two by simply telling the computer to delete its program.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • According to Star Trek: Insurrection, thermolytic reactions are very bad for organic beings. This episode shows why — anyone who gets hit by one of the subspace aliens suffers a thermolytic reaction that leaves their body desiccated like a mummy.
    • To Star Trek: Generations, wherein an enemy vessel knowing a Federation starship's deflector shield frequencies can shoot right through them and inflict damage directly, which is what led to the end of the Enterprise-D. Here, the Equinox EMH takes a less subtle approach of directly reporting Voyager's shield frequencies straight to his vessel's bridge. At least until the Doctor returns to his sickbay and deletes his Evil Counterpart to put a stop to it.
    • Much as in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the protagonists' ship fatally disables their target (also Starfleet) vessel by destroying its port warp nacelle, from behind, using a torpedo.
    • A random line near the end of Part 1, stated from Captain Ransom, asking is his alternative to being destroyed, "Thirty years in the brig," seems to be a major easter egg to a line Janeway says in a dream sequence in the episode, "Thirty Days", earlier in that season. Coincidence, I think not!
    • The regulation that Janeway quotes which gives her overall command is apparently the same one that allowed Captain Picard to take command of the Starfleet armada in Star Trek: First Contact, as the new Enterprise-E was the most powerful Starfleet ship on the battlefield.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: Equinox is running on a skeleton crew, especially since they went through over half of their Red Shirts only a month after getting pulled into the Delta Quadrant. On the other hand, the survivors help alleviate Voyager's problems in this area, once they've been knocked down a few pips.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Everyone's general reaction to "Captain's Assistant" Naomi Wildman introducing herself to Ensign Gilmore.
  • Cutting the Knot: Rather than fight the Equinox EMH for control of his sickbay, The Doctor simply tells the computer to delete him.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: When Chakotay says that she's getting a little vendetta-y, Janeway says that she's simply going to hunt Ransom down "whatever it takes, no matter the cost" as though that's not the very definition of the word "vendetta".
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Ransom would prefer Seven to voluntarily give up the codes she used to lock the Equinox crew out of their alien-powered propulsion system rather than watch the Doctor dissect her brain for them.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Equinox EMH poses as his Voyager self to free his crewmates in Voyager's brig.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Seven forgives the Doctor for his actions, and they make a date for some Duet Bonding on the holodeck. This one at least has the excuse of Seven knowing the fact the doctor was more or less brainwashed.
    • Despite spending most of the second half baying for his blood, one conciliatory hail from the deposed Ransom is all it takes for Janeway to decide he's acting in good faith again.
    • Janeway and Chakotay also resolve their falling-out after a short discussion about their actions and the symbolic way the ship's nameplate fell off the wall. This in particular is said to be one of the things that soured Ronald D. Moore on writing for the show, as he just found it completely ridiculous, even going so far as to write on the episode's script "This is a total betrayal of the audience. This is wrong. You can't end the show like this. If you are going to do all this other stuff, you can't end the show like this, because it's not fair, because it's not true, and it just wouldn't happen."
    • Averted with the survivors of the Equinox. They all become stripped of rank and with limited privileges aboard Voyager. Janeway makes it clear that she regrets trusting them off the bat and that it'll probably take a long time and significant effort on their part for her to deem them trustworthy.
  • End of an Age: "Equinox: Part I" was the last Voyager episode to air concurrently with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. "Equinox: Part II" was the first time since the 1992 Star Trek: The Next Generation two-part episode "Chain Of Command" where only one Star Trek series was on the air at a given time.
  • Energy Beings: The nucleogenic lifeforms; in fact it was because of this trope they were used as a sort of Living Battery by the Equinox crew.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: As ruthless as he is, even Ransom is so disturbed by the EMH singing in harmony with a half-lobotomized Seven that he has to leave the room.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Equinox has its own Mark One EMH without ethical subroutines, and who seems as loyal to his crew as Voyager's Doctor is to theirs. Of course, given how Ransom treated his EMH, it's doubtful that the Equinox Doctor developed genuine loyalty as Voyager's did, and more likely that it was programmed into him, making the dark inversion even greater.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Roxann Dawson gets a new wig which is more wavy than her previous straightened 'do.
  • Fallen Hero: Captain Ransom of the Equinox went from a respected Starfleet captain to a man authorizing the systematic murder of sentient beings for the benefit of his crew.
  • Finish Dialogue in Unison:
    Janeway: We've been stranded in the Delta Quadrant for five years. We were pulled here against our will by an alien called—
    Ransom/Janeway: ...the Caretaker.
  • First-Name Basis: Janeway notices that Ransom allows the Equinox crew to address him by his first name. (She is also on first-name basis with her senior staff, but they haven't entered first-name basis with her except for Chakotay.)
    Ransom: When you've been in the trenches for as long as we have, rank and protocol are luxuries.
  • Frictionless Reentry: Averted. When Voyager catches up to the Equinox in orbit of a planet, Ransom has the ship fly into the atmosphere so Voyager will have to pursue. With Voyager still being harassed by the aliens, they can't afford to stress their shields trying to keep up, allowing Ransom to make a getaway.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Ransom dies piloting his ship a safe distance away from Voyager as the aliens breach the warp core.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Janeway and Chakotay interrogate Lessing. Janeway wants Lessing to give her the tactical status of the Equinox's captain, Ransom. She threatens to lower the shields in the room, which would allow the aliens an opening to get through and attack him, while she and Chakotay leave the room. Lessing demonstrates his familiarity with this trope, looking at Chakotay and asking "I suppose the plan is that you're going to come to my rescue now, right?" Chakotay, however, admits that "There's no plan as far as I know. The Captain's on her own." When Lessing continues not to talk, Janeway and Chakotay leave the room and Janeway proceeds to do just what she said she was going to do, shocking Chakotay, who thought she was only bluffing. Chakotay ends up going in there to rescue Lessing. (He does crack, but not before being badly spooked.)
  • Hallucinations: Ransom tries to escape his conscience in his Happy Place, a personal holoimager, but keeps running into a hallucination of Seven of Nine there that acts as his conscience. It eventually turns into one of the nucleogenic aliens for a Jump Scare.
  • Heel Realization: Two for the price of one.
    • Ransom after seeing hallucinations of Seven and a nucleogenic alien.
    • Janeway admits at the end that Chakotay had good reason to oppose her as she was slowly becoming Ransom (The end justified the means).
  • Hell Is That Noise: The extra-dimensional aliens have to open portals into our universe to attack. When a portal forms, the first thing people hear is a high-pitched, whining hiss. It's pretty creepy for the characters, who are asking, "WHERE IS IT? WHERE IS IT?". If they aren't fast enough, it's the last sound they'll hear.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Janeway slides down the rungs as she relentlessly pursues Ransom.
  • Hope Spot: In the penultimate act of part I, the crimes of Ransom and his crew are exposed and they've been locked up, Janeway and her officers are looking for a way to communicate with the creatures, and a peaceful resolution seems imminent. Then the Doctor is disabled by his Evil Twin who releases Ransom and the others from confinement, and then they escape on the Equinox with Seven as their prisoner, leaving Voyager under attack. To Be Continued...
  • Hourglass Plot: Ransom and Janeway swap roles in the second episode, with Janeway feeling the pressure and compromising her ideals, while Ransom rediscovers his humanity.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The Equinox crew systematically capture, kill and process the nucleogenic aliens to speed the ship and crew's flight home. As a result, it's understandable why the aliens end up with a massive grudge towards them and their ship.
  • Hyde Plays Jekyll: The EMH from the Equinox forcibly trades places with the Doctor on Voyager. In Part I, he helps free his shipmates under the guise of the Doctor, and in Part II, he periodically advises them about Voyager's plans. After he's brought back to normal on Voyager, the Doctor lampshades this, saying "It's quite disconcerting to know that all someone has to do is flick a switch to turn me into Mr. Hyde.".
  • Hyperspeed Ambush: Voyager catches up to Equinox during the climax and destroys one of her nacelles with a couple of torpedoes.
  • I Can't Feel My Legs!: Noah Lessing when Harry and Seven find him. Fortunately, his legs are still there, and he's later seen moving under his own power.
  • Ice Queen: Seven becomes one of these as she remains Defiant to the End towards Ransom, Burke and their crew.
    Burke: You might try letting your shields down, or it's going to be a lonely trip.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Janeway doesn't buy it when Ransom tries to justify his actions via the Starfleet rulebook.
    Ransom: Starfleet Regulation 3, Paragraph 12: "In the event of imminent destruction, a captain is authorized to preserve the lives of his crew by any justifiable means."
    Janeway: I doubt that protocol covers mass murder.
    Ransom: In my judgement, it did.
    Janeway: UNacCEPTable!
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Captain Ransom is clearly taken by his beautiful captive, and offers to replace Janeway as a role model, but Seven coldly refuses him and continues to appear as a hallucination to needle Ransom's conscience.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: The Equinox survivors are stripped of rank and turned into ordinary crewmen.
    Janeway: The last time we welcomed you aboard, you took advantage of our trust. You betrayed this crew. I won't make that mistake again. Noah Lessing, Marla Gilmore, James Morrow, Brian Sofin, Angelo Tassoni, you are hereby stripped of rank. You'll be expected to serve as crewmen on this vessel. Your privileges will be limited, and you'll serve under close supervision for as long as I deem fit. This time, you'll have to earn our trust. Dismissed.
  • I Owe You My Life: Averted. While Lessing expresses his gratitude to Seven of Nine, his "Angel of Mercy." he doesn't make a quip about her predicament even though it more than likely the fact she about to be dissected is common knowledge on the Equinox crew.
  • It Can Think: The first sign that the aliens are intelligent is when they deliberately focus their attacks on a single area of Voyager's shields, collapsing it in seconds and nearly breaking through if not for some quick thinking by Harry.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope:
    • Ransom and the Equinox crew have been doing this for a while, starting from using the remains of a nucleogenic alien that died due to bad luck, and moving to systematically capturing and murdering the beings to supercharge their warp drive for a quick(er) flight home.
    • Janeway then does this in response, with her Roaring Rampage of Revenge on the Equinox and her crew leading to progressively darker places.
  • Just Following Orders: Ransom pleads for leniency for his crew, saying they were only obeying their captain. Janeway's response: "Their mistake." She does show some leniency towards the survivors — that is, stripping them of rank and putting them to work under close supervision for the foreseeable future rather than throwing them in the brig.
  • Karmic Death: Certain crew members of the Equinox, prominently Lt. Burke, got seriously owned by the very aliens they were using.
  • Knockout Ambush: Tom and Chakotay pull this on Lessing and an Equinox Red Shirt in order to capture them for interrogation.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Since Equinox isn't built for combat, Ransom's trademark is a willingness to hide and wait out his opponents rather than risk a direct confrontation. This is entirely sensible, considering the only chance he has against Voyager is when they have a mole on board sending the shield frequencies so their attacks can get through.
  • Last Words:
    Ransom: You've got a fine crew, Captain! Promise me you'll get 'em home!
    Janeway: I promise.
  • Loophole Abuse: Ransom, when called out by Janeway on his killing the aliens, invokes a Starfleet regulation permitting a captain to take any justifiable action to stave off the imminent destruction of their ship. Janeway quickly points out that no sane person would consider mass-murder a "justifiable action".
  • Meaningful Name: The equinox is the time (twice each year) when day and night are of equal length, typically around March 20 and September 22 of any given year (fittingly, Part II premiered on September 22, 1999). The Equinox is Voyager's darker parallel.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Subverted in that out of the entire Equinox crew, only five of them survive, and out of those five, only one of them (Marla Gilmore) is a woman.
  • The Mole: The Equinox EMH poses as our Doctor on board Voyager, sending information on Voyager's Deflector Shields to Burke during their final battle.
  • Mood Dissonance: Ransom is disturbed by Seven Strapped to an Operating Table, mindlessly singing a duet with the Mad Doctor who's operating on her brain.
  • Morality Chip: Both the Equinox and Voyager EMH's have their ethical subroutines deleted by the Equinox crew.
  • Moral Myopia: Ransom calls out Janeway's moral preaching over his escalating to mass murder against a sentient species to convert their corpses into warp drive fuel, completely overlooking the consequence of his forsaking any sense of morality being that said sentient species members are now out for all his crew's blood, and have been terrifyingly effective at exacting their vengeance.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: The EMH aboard the USS Equinox had his "ethical subroutines" removed so he would gladly experiment on the extradimensional aliens to turn them into a fuel source. The Doctor likewise becomes fully willing to dissect Seven's brain to get access to the codes stored there when Ransom does the same to him, despite their being friends (and his unrequited love for her).
  • The Mutiny: Burke mutinies against Ransom when he wants to surrender. Janeway mentions Chakotay could have done the same when she walked right up to the Moral Event Horizon, but he says it would have been "crossing a line".
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Captain Ransom? Sound like a character our heroes can trust!
  • New Old Flame: For BLT. Too bad he turns out to be a treacherous jerk who'd rather let her become a victim of the aliens that were attacking them.
  • Noodle Incident: Early in their voyage, the Equinox encountered a species called the Krowtonan Guard. Nothing is mentioned about them except that they are very territorial, and Ransom's decision to cross their space cost the lives of over half his crew.
  • The Oner: One of Trek's greatest, clocking in at 2 minutes and 40 seconds; for the entire final scene, the camera follows Janeway from the conference room, where she scolds the Equinox survivors and strips them of their rank, into the bridge, where she reconciles with Chakotay before they notice that Voyager's commemoration plaque has fallen off its place on the wall.
  • Perp Sweating: Captain Janeway threatens to let the aliens have their way with an Equinox crew member she captured to make him start talking. Chakotay thinks this is going too far and ends up getting the information out of the crew member without letting the aliens get at him.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Or in this case, dead aliens.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Captain Ransom beams Seven and all but his bridge crew to Voyager before allowing the aliens to destroy his ship. Since Equinox has disabled Voyager, his last act is to pilot the ship far enough away so Voyager isn't caught in the blast.
  • Red Shirt: In addition to all the casualties on the Equinox, several nameless crewmembers on Voyager bite the dust, one of whom flatlines in Sickbay before the EMH can be brought back online.
  • Revealing Cover Up: The Equinox crew deliberately flooded the science lab where they conducted experiments on the nucleogenic aliens with harmful radiation to keep the Voyager crew from learning about their crimes. However, B'Elanna and Tuvok see through the ruse, and send the Doctor over to poke around and find out what they're so desperate to hide.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Janeway fully admits that she's going to get Ransom no matter what it takes. She eschews Chakotay's suggestion that they prioritize communication with the aliens in favor of hunting down the Equinox, which is what they have to resort to in the end anyhow.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The aliens mercilessly attack the Equinox for killing several of their own. When Voyager flies in to help, her crew become targets as well.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: The Equinox met the Ankari more than 10,000 light-years from where they meet Voyager, but Janeway is later able to meet with them within 50 light-years. It is stated that the Equinox met them on their home world. They are a spacefaring race, and Voyager meets one of their ships. But the group Janeway meets seem to know all about what has been going on (though given that they can communicate with the nucleogenic aliens, that's not surprising)
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Marla Gilmore panics in turbolifts because they have no escape route in case fissures open up.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In-Universe — while lobotomizing Seven, the Doctor sings "Clementine" and an improvised variant of "Dem Bones." Ransom is clearly disturbed by it.
  • Status Quo Is God: Ronald D. Moore was furious over how the Janeway/Chakotay conflict was just dropped at the end of the episode and never brought up again. Neither do we hear about the former Equinox crew who are on probation, even in "Good Shepherd" which deals with several problematic crewmembers.
  • Subverted Catchphrase: The Equinox EMH posing as the Doctor, seeing Voyager's sickbay littered with casualties.
    "Please state the nature of the... [looks around] don't bother."
  • Tastes Like Friendship: At the end of the episode, Janeway and Chakotay reconcile by agreeing to bring salad and croutons to Neelix's potluck.
  • Temporarily a Villain: The Doctor is reprogrammed to perform unethical-at-best medicine by Ransom.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When the Doctor makes his way back to Voyager (with his return restoring his ethics), the Equinox-EMH threatens to destroy him by saying he's planted explosives throughout the holomatrix and all it will take is a signal — "Computer, delete the Equinox Emergency Medical Hologram." Whoops.
  • Touch of Death: The aliens desiccate any living being they manage to touch, though Plot Armor saves Janeway and Chakotay from glancing blows at the start of the second half.
  • Tranquil Fury: Janeway as she informs the Equinox survivors that they're being stripped of rank for their crimes.
  • The Unfettered: Evil!Doc enjoys no longer having morality subroutines, as it makes him more efficient.
  • Villain Has a Point: Ransom, when he calls Janeway out on judging him for his breaking of Federation principles. While it's ambiguous whether Ransom is telling the truth about his ship's supposed hardships before they began provoking the aliens (he makes the above statement right after Janeway has called him out on multiple Blatant Lies, and the episode gives us naught but Ransom's word on this particular matter), his point still stands, if only in a hypothetical context.
    "It's easy to cling to your principles when you're standing on a vessel with its bulkheads intact, manned by a crew that's not starving."
  • Weak-Willed: Turning off his Morality Chip turns the Doctor instantly evil, despite the Equinox EMH showing crew loyalty without ethical subroutines. At the end of the episode, Seven promises to beef up his security with some Borg algorithms.
  • Wham Line: The line that reveals just how far gone the Equinox crew is, before Equinox's EMH disables Voyager's and the Equinox crew retakes their ship:
    Equinox's EMH: They deleted my ethical subroutines.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The first alien was killed solely by accident, but the Equinox crew began doing it on purpose to get home. When continuing their practices means operating on Seven, Ransom realizes how much he's devalued sentient beings.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The five surviving members of the Equinox crew are absorbed into Voyager's crew...and we never hear from any of them again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Chakotay confronts Janeway multiple times over the course of the two-parter, calling her on her vendetta-level pursuit of the Equinox crew. She just removes him from duty to put a stop to it. She threatens to do the same to Tuvok, who wisely shuts up.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Rather than argue with or fight the Equinox EMH, the Doctor simply has the computer delete his Evil Counterpart and moves on to stop the transmission of Voyager's shield frequencies.
  • With Due Respect: When Ransom announces his intention to cooperate with Janeway.
    Burke: Rudy, with all due respect, have you lost your mind?
    Ransom: Just the opposite.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: In the space of the same conversation between Janeway and Ransom, it's first implied that harvesting the aliens would hardly be of any benefit to the Equinox at all (increasing their warp efficiency by 0.03%), then that just one alien gave the Equinox the same kind of 10,000 light-year jump that Voyager got from the slipstream drive earlier in Season 5, and then that they'd have to harvest 63 more aliens (meaning that each alien would provide around 500 light-years' worth of fuel), which would shorten the journey home to about a year.
  • You're Cute When You're Angry: B'Elanna says Tom is cute when he's jealous.