Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth, in today’s episode we take a look at Captain Janeway again and the events which ultimately lead her to be a villain in her own story.
In my 4th episode of Truth OR Myth, I asked the question of whether or not Captain Kathryn Janeway was a hero or a villain. Because of the responses, I thought it would be fair to give the question another look…
The one thing I noticed in regards to episode 4, above all other episodes of this series was the fact that almost all the comments were black or white. Either people completely agreed that she was a villain, or the completely disagreed saying she was a hero, there were not the shades of grey comments that I normally got on every other video.
In responding to all those comments that I could, I began to solidify my position completely on the subject and felt a further review of the status of Villain was in order, and now here we are! It should be noted however, Janeway is one of my favourite characters in Star Trek… But when looking at all the available information from an unbiased outside perspective there is no other conclusion that I can come too, that in fact, Janeway is a mentally unstable villain.
Let us start with the Biggie, Janeway’s actions in the episode “Tuvix“. Is she a murderer? Yes, she absolutely 100 per cent is, there’s no way around it. Tuvix is a life, whether in peoples opinions he should exist or not, and Janeway plays god.
She decides that she’d rather have Neelix and Tuvok back rather than following Starfleet rules that she had quoted back in the Phage when the Vidians stole Neelix’s lungs.
For all intents and purposes, Neelix and Tuvok are dead, so the question becomes two-fold, when does a sentient being become a life form, and when is murder justified?
Let’s talk about the latter question for the moment. Murder is justified in many circumstances, such as to save other lives from immediate danger or self-defence. Neither of these applies though. Since the lives, she was supposedly saving where already gone, and of course, Tuvix represented no danger to the crew. Now a lot of people on the hero side of the fence speculated that saving Neelix and Tuvok fell under the saving other lives banner, but that is flawed logic.
Speculating as to what may or may not happen in the future doesn’t constitute a reason to murder someone. Don’t believe me? Go out and murder someone and say to the police well that person I just killed might have harmed another person one day and see how they react. I guarantee you they won’t see it as justified homicide.
So as to the question of when does a life become a life… This has always been a philosophical debate, is it at conception or at birth? Well, I think both sides of the fence would agree that this happens after both and ill tell you why…
Tuvix’s conception was the point he was beamed on board. At that point, if it was possible to reverse what happened it might have been justified. But Tuvix’s birth was really at the point where he was told they couldn’t reverse the process… he began to live and create his own life. And I think you’d agree that because of that he was a sentient life form with all the rights that are afforded everyone within the Federation.
This was a completely missed opportunity for the character of Janeway, I put it to you like this. had the episode dealt with this issue from the perspective of Janeway saying to Tuvix that now we can reverse the process and bring back Tuvok and Neelix but I don’t have the right to order you to do that, and then giving a great speech about how much they both mean to the crew and survival of Voyager and how he has to think about it, this would make Janeway a hero.
Saying it’s your choice, here’s what I think, but I support your personal right to exist. Then have Tuvix interact with various crew members seeing how uncomfortable they are, and then seeing him go to Kes. Who is obviously very torn but wants Neelix back. At that point, Tuvix would begin to realize this crew needs Neelix and Tuvok back. Have him go to Neelix’s quarters, look at photos there then ultimately ending up in Tuvok’s sparse quarters, symbolizing his life if he were to exist, and having called Janeway down to meet with him. he tells her he wants to go through with the reversal of the accident.
You could then have all the same bridge scene but this time Janeway walking in saying they’re ready and him saying goodbye to an obviously emotional crew, but no one willing to step up and attempt to stop it from happening.
Down in Sickbay, Tuvok says goodbye to Janeway and Janeway decides to do the procedure herself in order to spare the feelings of the doctor and any other crew member. have her walk out and look down saddened by the events but then picking herself back up to be the hero she needs to be for the crew. All of this would have spelt hero for Janeway rather than murderer as I hope you can see…
Next, let’s take a look at Janeway’s actions in the two-part episode “Equinox“.
In this episode, Janeway goes nuts after discovering another Federation Starship the USS Equinox stranded in the Delta Quadrant, and that vessel’s captain and crew are committing murder willy-nilly to get their ship home faster.
So Janeway is understandably furious, but her obsession comes from another part of her, not the part to “good Federation captain” part that she wants everyone to believe.
Let’s look at her reasons in more detail. After discovering what Ransom had actually been up to, Janeway interrogates him in an obvious condescending tone. If you think about Ransom’s explanation for his action you can actually sympathize with them slightly. After all his crew was dying and his ship simply wasn’t up to the task of navigating the Delta Quadrant.
So when, accidentally, he is given the choice of getting his crew home in one piece, he jumps at the chance, putting aside his Good Captain training and morality in favour of the well being of his crew. Does that justify him murdering members of a sentient species, of course not, but you can understand why he did it?
Janeway on the other hand NEVER blatantly crossed that line. The one where you can never be justified regardless of the outcome. The line where the rules don’t matter, all that matters is the people you love and the people you protect.
I submit to you all good viewers that THIS is the reason Janeway is in Part angry. That he was able to make a choice she couldn’t. Choices that would have saved so many lives across their journey and she simply didn’t have the courage to do it.
As a Starfleet Captain, Janeway made the right decision, as a leader of her crew however she made a bad one.
Her torture of The Equinox crew member, with the “he’ll break,” explanation shows how obsessed and mentally unstable she was. Then ultimately deciding to sacrifice the Equinox’s crew to save her own people, the exact same thing she was condemning Ransom for. She is blind to what she has become and why…
Interesting it isn’t Janeway that convinces Ransom to be a good Starfleet Captain one last time, it’s ransom’s own conscience. So he has an epiphany whereas Janeway simply goes on about normal life sitting in judgment of over the crew Ransom commanded that Voyager were able to rescue. it’s hypocrisy at it’s finest…
Finally let’s take a look at the Premiere Episode of Voyager, “Caretaker“. This one got a lot of people riled up on both sides. It is my assertion that Janeway disobeyed the Prime Directive in this episode and thus cemented her status as a villain for the whole series.
First off, let us get one thing out of the way. One of the myths in Star trek perpetuated by a lot of fans is that the Prime Directive only applies to pre-warp societies, that assertion is incorrect. The Prime Directive applies to all societies IE Picard not even being able to help the legitimate leader of the Klingon Empire when he asked for it in the Redemption 2 Parter and the Federation not coming to Bajor’s aide when it was being occupied by the Cardassian Union…
The Prime Directive is broken up in too many parts. One being non-interference in the natural development of a society, and another part being non-interference in internal matters of any society.
In Caretaker Janeway violates both those points. First, instead of using the Array to go home and leave the natural development of the Ocampa and Kazon and the Delta Quadrant in general, she decides to stick around and again play god, deciding who should get what and why. Even Tuvok questions her decision to interfere and she gives some nonsense reply that no court would accept.
Second, she interferes in a clearly internal matter… The conflict between the Kazon, Occampa and the Caretaker has nothing to do with Starfleet, and I’m sorry but you Hero sayers, you can’t have it both ways… If you think Picard was justified in not helping Gowron in Redemption then you can’t suddenly decide Janeway is Justified helping the Occampa.
So point blank she violated the Prime Directive. You see the Problem here is the character of Janeway itself and giving her a choice at all. We’re constantly force-fed throughout the series that Janeway is a hero, but her actions simply don’t add up to that at all. And by giving her a choice in Caretaker, she effectively doomed into the role of Villain, that is mentally unbalanced.
Picture this scenario for the ending of Caretaker, and see if you can see the difference I’m trying to get across.
Voyager is returning to the Array to convince the Caretaker to send them home, just before Janeway and Tuvok beam to the array, however, Voyager detects the Kazons on an intercept course. She decides to beam over alone and leave her TACTICAL officer in command. Then on the Array Janeway learns the Caretaker is dying and intends to destroy the array. She begins to try to convince him to help them but is whisked back to Voyager by the Caretaker, just as the battle is beginning. Taking command she uses all her wit and tactics in fighting the Kazon and with Chakotay’s help ultimately succeeds. We see her as a brilliant commander then fighting tooth and nail to get back to the caretaker and protect both crews. this would be what Chakotay would admire about her right off the bat.
Once the Kazon are defeated, Janeway prepares to head back to the array only to have the array blow up as soon as they’re in transporter range. Janeway realizes she has to be the pillar of strength for her crew and she vows to get them home. All the while feeling that only if she had of said the right words or fought a little harder, her crew wouldn’t be in this situation.
See you take the choice out of Janeway’s hands and suddenly she’s a hero, no force feeding necessary. And it also explains away a LOT of the other choices she made, always feeling less confident in herself then she leads on, and also makes Admiral Janeway’s actions make even more sense, as that Admiral Janeway had dealt with all these feelings and basically had gotten over the self-doubt, having only her crews lives in mind when changing history.
That sort of story would have changed Voyager completely for a lot of people. And perhaps would have made the series as popular, if not even more so, then TNG. having Janeway grow from a less than confident Starfleet Captain, pretending to be confident, to a leader of thriving community she vows to protect.
Then add to that other missed opportunities like Chakotay and the Maquis and them suddenly getting over being on Voyager under Starfleet rules by the 3rd episode and you have a VERY different Star Trek that could have ensured the survival of the first golden age of Star Trek.
But alas it wasn’t meant to be, all we got was a Self Serving and delusional Starfleet Captain and a crew either too afraid to stand up to her, or blinded into being a part of her Waco Cult. Either way, objectively, there’s no other conclusion I can come to. Janeway is, in fact, a villain.
Does that mean she suddenly isn’t one of my favourite characters? Or does this colour my Love of Star Trek Voyager? Of course not, it just means I have an opinion outside of my own personal feelings…
I want to Thank you for watching today’s episode of Truth OR Myth. I know this was a bit longer than my usual videos but felt the subject warranted it and I hoped you enjoyed it! I also now have a Patreon Account for those of you that have been asking… So if you can help with a contribution to allow me to focus more on these video Id greatly Appreciate it, I want to give a shout out to Jeffrey Hallam for becoming my first Patron and to Fay Black for her continued support! If you have something you’d like to add to the video? Leave a comment in the section below and don’t forget to like and subscribe to channel so you won’t miss a single video we release!
Thanks again for watching, Live Long And Prosper…
Watch episode 43