Star Trek: Voyager “Threshold” (part 1 of 7)

SUMMARY: Tom Paris, navigator of the starship Voyager, discovers a way to travel at warp 10. Which, until now, was apparently a “theoretical impossibility”, and means the same thing as achieving “infinite velocity”. His test flight is a raging success, except for the part where he mutates and his body can no longer process oxygen or water, and his head expands to twice its normal size and various body parts fall off. The holographic Doctor races to find a cure, but not before Paris kidnaps Captain Janeway, subjects her to a warp 10 shuttle flight, and causes them both to mutate into… no, no, it’s just too stupid. You’ll never believe me if I just blurt it out like this. Read the whole recap, and just maybe you’ll believe an ending this idiotic was actually scripted and filmed.

Well, here we are, at long last. Star Trek: Voyager. In particular, the episode “Threshold”. Unlike most recaps on this site, I’ve been forecasting this one for years. In fact, I originally promised a recap way back in my very first Worst of Trek outing, “And the Children Shall Lead”, which was over three years ago.

Now that it’s finally here, I can say this episode is every bit as hellacious and awful as I’ve been alluding to over the years. But contrary to what I’ve been implying all along, Voyager as a whole wasn’t as bad as everyone says.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a great show, or even a good show by any measure. It had its moments, but in my mind, there isn’t a single episode of Voyager that stands out as one of the best episodes of Star Trek. Having said that, I will admit the show usually lived up to its (generally low) expectations. With Voyager, you always knew what you would get.

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Multi-Part Article: Star Trek: Voyager "Threshold"

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  • So basically, they write an episode which they themselves aren’t happy with. Neither am I btw but at least the acting is good and star trek was making less and less sense anyway.
    And you go off and write 7 pages of hate? Most of it rubbish. For me the entire “Unexistance of warp barrier”, “ultra-high speed transformations”, “Synchronous DNA editing by unexistant natural events” and finally “disregard for the prime directive” really killed this episode. But you could’ve spent, a bit less text on it.


    • Monoceros4

      Seven pages isn’t enough hate, I agree.

      SFDebris’s review of “Threshold” makes a valid point, one which the first page of this recap also hints at: it isn’t just that “Threshold” is bad, it’s that the episode is only a modest exaggeration of the normal [i]Star Trek: Voyager[/i] way of doing things. It’s not some one-off, uncharacteristic failure. Every single one of the sins committed in this episode had been committed before and would be committed again.

      So Brannon Braga disowned “Threshold”, like there was something special about it? That’s like some fifth-rate poetaster titling a particular volume of his poetry “Minor Poems” as if all of his other poems weren’t just as minor.

      • Chickensgomoo

        Thank u I enjoyed reading this

      • Yeah, I have to agree. The stubborn insistence on ignoring the implications of anything that happened before, during, or since the episode; the “Gilligan’s Island”-style “oh so close to getting home” schtick; the bad techno-babble even by “Star Trek’s” standards; the inconsistent characterization; the recycled story elements; this episode is the “Star Trek: Voyager”-haters exhibit A. Terrible on a level that resonates throughout the series.

        Oh, by the way, the bit about how they should put the transporter next to the sick bay…so true.

  • Believe it or not this episode is WORSE than this brave author describes. It makes me retroactively hate other episodes not just of Voyager, but of other shows, like Night Court.

  • Chisa

    So: Brannon Braga does an episode of Voyager called “Threshold” about a crew member’s DNA being infected and turning him into another species, and then he makes a show called “Threshold” about alien DNA infecting humanity and turning it into another species.

    If that was all, it might just be a fluke, a way to cover up the embarrassment of this terrible, dismissible episode. But Braga also did an episode of Enterprise called “Terra Nova” about a group of Earth colonists who settled on an alien world. He has a new sci-fi show now, after the failure of his last one. The show is called… “Terra Nova”… and it’s about a group of Earth colonists who settled on an alien world.

    Presently I’m going to postulate that Brannon Braga is just a hack writer who only has maybe 80 some ideas total in his head and now he’s run out and is just shuffling them around and hoping nobody notices.

  • Chisa

    Let’s play a game; I call this game Predict The Next Brannon Braga Series. You go through the list of Star Trek episodes he’s written and pick out the idea that will be recycled as his next show. For example:

    The next Brannon Braga series will be called “Timescape” and be about a group of people who are walking freely around in one frozen moment in time, trying to piece together what happened.

    The next Brannon Braga series will be called “Carbon Creek” and be about a group of aliens stranded in a small Pennsylvania town in the year 1957 who have to adapt to this primitive culture so as to make themselves inconspicuous.

    The next Brannon Braga series will be called “Prey” and be… oh, who the Hell are you kidding, Brannon Braga, this is just Aliens Versus Predator.

  • I thought Seven worked in Astrometrics? I’m not sure what the distinction is, but there probably is one. Or not.

  • Warp 10 isn’t synonymous with transwarp. Transwarp is simple a necessary step to warp 10 travel. The Borg have transwarp and thus can travel much faster than the Federation, but the Borg don’t go infinite speed.

  • packman_jon

    ‘The Doc reveals that Mr. Paris now has “two hearts”‘

    Tom Paris is now a Time Lord??!!!? Well even that wouldn’t save this episode

    • Sean

      That would definitely save this episode. If Tom Paris being a time lord was the actual ending instead of the god awful piece of shit we got. And then him being a time lord had repercussions down the road and the Doctor got involved in this show. It would have been so so much better.

  • Not to excused this episode in any way, but as for the Warp 10 barrier, for some reason it’s a basic premise of Voyager

    I have a copy of the Voyager Tech Manual given to the writers before the pilot.   This isn’t the one sold in stores for kids, This explains the universe and the tech so any writer unfamiliar with star trek can still write a episode and reference a warp core breach.     Anyways, Warp 10 and trans warp and and he barrier is in the manual but not in TNG.   So it’s a basic premise, i guess as a way to force the writers to keep them in the delta quadrant.

  • Clarence

    Gee, I can’t believe that you watched a show you hated so much – I even didn’t had the courage to read all that stuff (and then I saw “Continue to page 2″… Something snapped in my head). I guess the good thing in living in a country where guys like me are the real alien life form (you know, the guys who… watch Trek) is that we can just enjoy the show without insult people who watch others shows… (Dumb hos? Really? That’s how you wear StarFleet colors?)

    Hey, thanks anyway (before that, I thought I was rude).

  • Clarence

    Hey, there’s seven pages! Don’t know what’s said in the others, but I’m really sorry you never had encountered a female life form capable of initiating mating – I guess that’s the kind of things that happens when you can write so much on something you hate even more.

    • Guest

      So, say there was a person who would take the time to comment on said article by such a “sorry” lifeform (who, by the way gets PAID to do this, so I guess it’s kind of like… a job?).  So, what does that say about this new hypothetical person’s life?

    • “you never had encountered a female life form capable of initiating mating”

      It’s really funny to see Star Trek fans try and phrase the insults that have been lobbed at them for years in their own colloquial (read: “trying to sound like Mister Spock”) way.

  • C. S.

    Soooo…. Are you SF Debris? I recognized a LOT of the first page from one of his reviews.

  • Ralph

    Never much understood why DS9 did badly in ratings. The cast was full of good actors, the plots ranged from sci fi to resistance cells, and the continuity was top notch. It’s as close to “24” as Star Trek could ever get, and it was amazing. Maybe the continuity threw people off, as they were used to stand alone episodes. Voyager though, yeah it’s just the same stuff over and over. The first few seasons were promising in my opinion, but it never evolved. It could have, but it didn’t. At least as far as writing goes Enterprise (well the last 2 seasons) had promise if under (or over maybe?) developed characters

    • Muthsarah

      I think continuity was indeed one of the biggest problems the show had when it came to attracting new viewers. Yes, many of the episodes were one-offs, but even when there was no continuity of story, there was often a continuity with the characters. Did you miss Garak’s first appearance? Or “The Wire”? Or “The Die is Cast”? Then there’s a lot about his character that won’t make sense to you, if you happen to come in one of his later episodes. Did you miss one of the episodes establishing what a Trill was? Then a Jadzia or Ezri episode might be confusing. And then there are the Bajor/religious episodes (which even the network insisted the show avoid, as they felt it weighed the show down with uncomfortable modern parallels and alien mysticism). DS9 was a show very much made for established Trek fans first, as opposed to Voyager, which seemed to be everything a weekly Trek fan would hate: continuity lapses, character inconsistency, and everyone’s favorite act three staple: the shiny reset button. I can’t say authoritatively (since I fell in love with the shows at a relatively early age), but I imagine DS9 could have been either dull, baffling, or just off-putting to a lot of budding casual fans. But that Voyager went in the exact opposite direction and still did no better is clearly a testament to the weaknesses of that show’s production, and not just its premise. If DS9 wasn’t TNG enough, then VOY should have succeeded by highlighting that aspect of TNG that DS9 abjured.

      I love DS9. I love Next Gen, and I love the TOS movies (2/3rd of them, anyway), but I remember it took me a while to get into TNG, and even longer to get into DS9. It just seemed like it was so big that I was always missing something. And in the days before Netflix and on-demand streaming, that’s a big hiccup. I only recently got into Mad Men, and I can’t imagine sticking with that show had I come in on Season 4. In fact, the first episode I saw was from Season Four, and I didn’t stick with it until Netflix picked it up and I started from the beginning. The more options the viewer has, the less likely they’d be to stick to something that they don’t feel on-board with, for whatever reason that might be. TNG, and especially TOS, were very easy to get into. In most cases, you can watch the episodes completely out of order (go from Evolution to The Inner Light, or The Naked Time to Bread and Circuses) and not miss a beat.

      P.S. I just saw Dirty Harry for the first time ever. Saw a young Andy Robinson as the villain, a young sociopathic serial killer. It was especially trippy how he used the exact same voice as he did with Garak. But damn he was good. And twenty years before he did Trek. DS9 truly had a marvelous cast. It’s just bizarre how such an established franchise would even seek out such iconic 70s character actors as Robinson and Louise Fletcher. Ratings was never their aim; they wanted talent, they wanted class, and they wanted it from the start.

    • Sean

      It’s because of the continuity, yup. It references past events all the time and there’s a continuing story line. DS9’s episodes are, for the most part, stand alone. And even the ones that are stand alone, the good ones past season 3, reference other parts of the show or other parts of character development. It’s fairly inaccessible to the average viewer, especially the average Star Trek viewer who tends to be all about episodic (and post-DS9, episodic light entertainment) tv. The idea that a story in a Star Trek show could possible have repercussions later on in the show is just crazy talk. Or was when DS9 aired. But that’s what makes it so good, it actually doesn’t insult our intelligence by never bringing up plot points again like most of Star Trek. TNG being the notable exception (some times). This is also why DS9 is the black sheep in addition to being the most anti-Roddenberry of the entire franchise. Which is probably another reason it didn’t do very well, at least with established Star Trek fans.

      DS9 is, of course, the best of Star Trek. Most people realize this nowadays, but back in the 90s it just didn’t do very well because of its anti-Roddenberry views and its non-episodic stories.

  • CNash

    The confusion over Warp 10 being “infinite” when we’ve seen starships go faster than that before is understandable. However, they only went faster that Warp 10 in TOS, never in TNG or the spin-off series. The common fan explanation is that the warp “scale” was recalibrated at some point before the start of TNG, making Warp 9 the highest whole warp factor, and redesignating Warp 10 as a theoretical impossibility.

    • K P Kavafy

      I don’t think that can be true – the upgraded Enterprise D captained by Riker at the end of the series went faster than warp 10.

      • CNash

        I tend to discount anything seen in the future timeline of “All Good Things”. For one thing, it’s been overwritten by actual events (the destruction of the Ent-D in Generations, for example). For another, Q’s influence in this scenario can’t be ruled out.

        Also, given that this was the future, there’s nothing to say that the warp scale can’t be changed again, given technological advances in the future similar to the jump between TOS and TNG-era technology.

  • neutralParadox

    You know, with an ending that bad, I think I have an alternate theory: Either Brannon Braga, or Michael de Luca have a fetish, which they choose to express through fap fiction. So, they wrote it, and accidentally submitted it to the wrong people, who assumed it was the 2nd half of the story. They didn’t want to admit to having an embarrassing fetish, so the writers went along with it. It sounds like something out of a bad sitcom, but I find this explanation infinitely preferable to the idea that someone, anyone, thought it was a good idea.

  • Sean

    So Brannon Braga completely dismissed this episode yes and called it a stinker. But the thing is, Brannon Braga wrote many many stinkers in Star Trek history, not to mention the massive steaming stinkers of VOY and ENT themselves. He had some good episodes in TNG sure. But he’s just not a good writer, and especially not a good showrunner.

  • Yonagonaf

    Hello Dr. Winston O’Boogie.

    This is Yonagonaf.

    In your text review of the “Star Trek: Voyager” season 2 episode 15 “Threshold” your text assumes that the people that are reading the review have not seen the episode.

    The text “Trust me, whatever you’re imagining? Is not even close.” is an example of this.

    There are many Star Trek fans.

    I am a Star Trek fan.

    Is your review of “Threshold” written for people that have not seen the episode?

    Is this your writing style?

    The various Internet celebrities that review Star Trek episodes have reviews that assume the viewers have seen the episodes.

    Your review was posted ten years ago so I have no idea if you continue to read comments.