So the first season of Voyager only has sixteen episodes. That should make my "essentials" job a lot easier but it doesn't, really. I love the first season of Voyager and this re-watch absolutely flew by. But, if you don't have sixteen hours to pour into this season, here are my essential recommendations:
This is the very first episode. I feel like it's probably a pretty good idea for you to know why the hell all these guys are wandering around in the Delta Quadrant to begin with. Aside from that, this is a really, really well done pilot.
2- Prime Factors:
Ok, I really wanted to write a whole post about this one as I believe it's the first time our guys (and by that I mean the Federation crew we follow) are denied technology that is beyond their current knowledge because of something like the Prime Directive. I LOVE this idea. Playing with this concept is something that seems like should've happened earlier but I'm glad it happened here, when Voyager is all alone with no one to help them. They're faced with an interesting ethical dilemma and the way it plays out is pretty perfect.
3- State of Flux:
There's a spy aboard Voyager and this episode is spent trying to flush him out. Watch this one because elements from it become pretty important later on.
As I've already mentioned, this episode sounds like a terrible, campy idea. In practice though, it's beautiful. The stuff Torres goes through is realistic and heartbreaking and will go on to apply to this character for the rest of the show.
Bonus Points for: Creepy, Creepy Durst Face!
5- Heroes And Demons:
A season essentials post would be incomplete without a romp, wouldn't it? Yes! Therefore, I declare this, the inaugural rompy episode of Voyager, to be absolutely essential. The doctor gets his first away mission on the holodeck version of Beuwolf and his first love interest in the shieldmaiden, Freya.
Watch this one to get a better understanding of Neelix. The depth of this character and the way that he is played in this episode is surprising.
The Maquis transition into the Starfleet crew is pretty rocky at first. Obviously, to have a ton of stories showcasing this fact would get redundant and tiresome so I like how they handle it in this single, entertaining episode.