Monday, November 30, 2015

Voyager Re-Watch: Pathfinder

I'm going to tell you a story about my day. A day that my BFF said was, "comicaly horrible." Well, I guess it started a few days ago--with what seemed to be hints of kidney-ish pain. It got progressively worse over the weekend. Then our DVR box suddenly kicked the bucket. We watched DVDs and Netflix and resolved to trade in the box asap. Then, last night, when the pain in my side had become pretty unbearable we heard a sort of explosion in the kitchen. Our refrigerator was smoking and singing its swan song. It, too, was no more. I put all the groceries (a week's worth purchased that morning) in a cooler with all our ice packs and put it out in the garage where the temperature wouldn't get above 50 degrees till sometime this afternoon. I went to bed in the hope that the fridge wouldn't commit one last act of defiance and burn the house down as we slept.
I woke up in still worse pain and, having consumed no caffeine for the last three days--I was very groggy and grumpy. I called the doctor but they couldn't get me in. I went to the Urgent Care where I found myself in the same argument I've been in all my life--no I don't run high temperatures. I've been hospitalized with infections before and never ran a temperature above 98.6. No, I don't know why. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, please give me whatever antibiotics you're thinking of giving me. So then we went off to the pharmacy. While I was inside, picking up cans of soup and medicine, the fans in my car went out. Oh, they'd been threatening it for a while but they finally thought, "You know, today's the day we shove off this mortal coil!" The fans ceased to be. Scott had to get to work but the fan problem was a real issue. We only have one car so that meant a trip to the rental car place (because of course our mechanic's loaners were all checked out) and then the mechanic. Then I got home and finally took my medicine and ate some crackers while I waited for the fridge guy to show up. As soon as he left I sat down with a giant bowl of Progresso and Voyager.

And what episode was it? Pathfinder. I'm concerned that, in my addled state, I really can't even begin to tell you how much I love this episode and how much I needed it today. I love Barclay and have always felt an affinity for the character--especially on days like today. Comicaly horrible days. Days where I know, even as they are happening, that they are so preposterous that even though all I want to do is sit down and cry, I laugh.

Pathfinder does a brilliant and sympathetic job with Barclay. His need to bring Voyager home, the way he hides inside the Voyager simulation, the way he loses himself in his obsession--it's lovingly done. So too is the difference in Barclay's competence and confidence when he's among his holo-peers. When he isn't burdened by the all-too-real social constructs of his every day life his head clears, he thinks better, talks with more gusto, expresses himself more fully. I love the little touches here as well. The way the Maquis crew are still in their browns and reds. The way we never see Neelix because of course Barclay doesn't know what he looks like. They way Seven isn't yet a part of the crew. The way even Janeway has her hair up in her Season One french twist.

I'm always surprise that it takes this long--only the penultimate season--for Pathfinder to make a connection with Voyager but the wait is worth it. I'm not sure I've ever seen this episode that I didn't tear up. And we all know, because this is Trek, that Voyager will eventually make it home, they will eventually connect again with their loved ones back home. But it's sweeter because it takes so long, because we, like Barclay, have invested so much of our time with this crew, becase we love them. Pathfinder is the beginning of the end for Voyager and that's a rather bittersweet thing.


  1. There are some quarters of Star Trek fandom (okay, a lot of them) where watching Voyager would have only made things worse. Glad it made things better.

  2. Wow- sounds like AshleyRose and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. I hope all is on the mend!

    When I re-watch Voyager (which has been a few times now, thanks to your excellent blog), I always have a bittersweet feeling with this episode. I love it for Barclay and for all the reasons you bring up- but I feel that sense of an ending creeping in, and I get a bit sad realizing the conclusion is almost within arm's reach.


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