Hello and welcome to Truth OR Myth, in today’s episode we’ll take a look at Kathryn Janeway,s state of mind and the possibility that her judgment was impaired while travelling through the delta quadrant because of a mental illness.
In episode 4 of Truth OR Myth, we discussed whether or not Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager was actually a Hero or A Villain. And thanks to a wonderful discussion with a Truth OR Myth fan, I began to think that there might be another explanation for her behaviour on the show. Captain Janeway may be suffering from PTSD or some other Mental Illness…
Very little canon is known about Janeway’s career prior to commanding Voyager. We know she was a scientist and served on the USS Al-Batani and that’s pretty much it. But that in itself is very important, why you ask? Because she was used to analyzing things and coming to a logical conclusion about those things. It’s probably why she was so close to Tuvok, she could understand him, and perhaps even envied his logic unemotional abilities slightly.
Now you might be saying, isn’t pretty much EVERY Starfleet Captain a scientist? They all seem to be exploring something. And although a Captain can come from pretty much ANY department or field within Starfleet, most don’t have to make life-altering decisions in basically their first day of command of their first starship.
That brings us to the events of the episode “Caretaker“. Here Janeway decides to save the Ocampa instead of saving her own crew, a huge mistake. Throughout the series, Janeway will bestow the virtues of the Starfleet bible to whoever will listen, but if you think about what she did she actually violated the Prime Directive in this episode. She interfered with the natural development of the Ocampa and altered the natural course of events for the Delta Quadrant in general. So perhaps her almost fanatical devotion to Starfleet Regulations from there on incomes from a realization of this. Add to that she had lost a quarter of crew, including her first officer and one can understand what a devastating effect that might have on one’s psyche…
Now, let us take a quick look at events throughout Voyager’s 7 Seasons and see if there are any other signs that she could be mentally unstable.
In the Episode, “The Phage“, watch Janeway’s reaction after finding out the Vidians had not only stolen Neelix’s lungs but had placed them into another one of themselves. She looks on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, doesn’t she? It’s like things are out of control for her and she’s free falling uncontrollably.
In the Episode “Eye of the Needle“, Janeway is dealt another blow, a way home turn out actually to be a door to the past and the crew, that was so exciting, is forced to continue on its way…
The Episode “Prime Factors” puts Janeway and her crew on the other side of the Prime Directive for once. And then her most trusted friend and confidant, Tuvok, ends up going against her wishes, ultimately betraying her…
The Episode “State of Flux” sees a crew member, Seska, Betrays Chakotay and ultimately Janeway herself. With Seska NOT exactly being quiet about why she did it.
So what do these 4 Events tell us about Janeway? Well, basically a Captain’s responsible for their crew and as such tends to feel the weight of that burden with each passing decisions. In Season 1 Janeway suffers devastating blow after blow after blow and has to force herself to repress the emotions of those blows in order to be strong for the crew. They have nothing but her to look up to and if she stepped back for a moment and thought about how Starfleet Regulations had actually failed her she might breakdown right there. After all, her interpretation of those same Starfleet Regulations had led her down a path of heartache and defeat time and time again…
Season 2’s Opener “The 37’s“, sees Janeway having to deal with a potential punch to the gut. After finding a human colony, the crew must decide whether or not to stay on the planet or continue to the AlphQuadrantnt on Voyager. Though no one leaves, the stress leading up to that reveal must have been immense on Janeway.
“Persistence Of Vision“, shows us that deep under the surface Captain Janeway is longing for her fiancée, Mark. Something that she doesn’t talk about much…
Then in “Cold Fire“, Janeway gets her hopes up when encountering the female Caretaker protecting an Ocampa Array colony out in deep space. She thought that this could be their way home, and after the recent events of the episode “Persistence of vision,” this must have been a doubly painful blow to her psyche.
In “Maneuvers“, Janeway goes after Seska, and then Chakotay after both betray her. Seska for stealing transporter tech and Chakotay for going after her. This must have shown her once again that she can’t really trust anyone. Just like Tuvok from the Episode Prime Factor, Janeway had put a LOT of faith in Chakotay, she made him first officer after all, and instead of following her and her orders, Janeway has to chase him down. At one point she even suggests not going after him, basically, that he had made his choice. That in itself could show severe mental stress. In any case, that wouldn’t be very Starfleet Like…
In “Resistance“, Janeway befriends a man who thinks she’s his daughter. In the end, he dies in Janeway’s arms… Another causality that is heartfelt…
In “Alliances“, Voyager is falling apart and Janeway decides to bend her Starfleet morals and attempt an alliance with the Kazon. In the end, of course, it doesn’t work out and Janeway gives a speech about the Starfleet Bible. When you look at this episode closely you could see that Janeway was struggling hard to put outside the Starfleet principles she had clung to so hard and blindly while in the Delta Quadrant. And then when it doesn’t work out, Janeway goes out of her way to make sure EVERYONE knows that she was right and they were wrong. It seems as though she’s been blinded by Starfleet Regulations and used this event to bolster herself up psychologically.
In “Deadlock“, we see both sides of Janeway after Voyager is duplicated by an anomaly. Both Janeway’s seem more interested in saving the other rather than saving their own crews…
In “Tuvix“, Janeway forces the separation of a melded transporter accident of Tuvok and Neelix. After Tuvix is told a separation couldn’t happen and begins to live his new life, Janeway decides to murder him. What happened to her speech in the episode the phage? Guess it only applies to everyone, not under her command. That she can kill anyone on Voyager she wants.
And in “Basics Part 1“, Janeway’s world comes crashing down around her after the Kazon, with Seska, successfully take over Voyager and strand the crew on a hostile planet.
The Events of season 2 shows us that Janeway is definitely great at hiding her emotions. Imagine what she must have felt as Voyager struggled through quadrant just trying to get home. This culminating in being stranded on a hostile planet and watching her ship take off to be used against the Delta Quadrant itself by the Kazon, but more importantly Seska, a former member of her crew. What’s interesting about all this is not just the fact that she can put on a brave face, but the fact that she can suppress all those emotions so thoroughly. She’s burying every bad thing that happens and dealing with it alone. But burying things always comes with a cost, and as we keep delving into Captain Janeway’s mind we’ll see if Janeway ends up paying that cost or not.
It’s really easy to just watch an episode and see it for the surface of what it is. After all, it’s a show designed to entertain us and give us hope. But it’s also designed to make us think. And so far, if you step back and look at Janeway from an unbiased position you can see that there definitely IS something wrong with her.
Murder death and betrayal are all around her constantly, yet all we ever see is maybe a slight outburst, a single tear or a stone face from her. We can all understand that Captains need to look confident and almost god like when commanding a vessel, but the question we have to ask is if she was in the Alpha Quadrant and all these events happened would her reactions have been the same.
Now you might think that’s an unfair question since she’d have Starfleet and it’s resources to help her and her crew, and from a purely external view, you’re right. But in this episode we’re looking at the internal workings of Janeway, so the question is valid. So would Janeway be allowed to disobey the Prime Directive, kill crewmen and have to bury all her emotions and feelings?
And the answer is of course no. She would have gotten instructions from Starfleet about the Ocampa/ Kazon situation effectively not having to sustain the burden of that decision on her own. This is her first command and basically her first week and all this happens, the physiological strain must be immense.
The problem with Janeway is that she doesn’t have an outlet for her internalizations. See she adapted to the situation externally quite well. She followed Starfleet Regulation at all times, to the letter, merged the crews, promoted officer, explored the Delta Quadrant to the point where it almost felt like a she was on a Starfleet Mission, and that was the right and a good thing to do.
But what she forgot was the counterpoint to the external situation, the internal one. What Janeway should have done was thought about what would happen to her and the crew if they were in the Alpha quadrant and noticed one glaring thing, she didn’t have anyone to confide in. To talk about distressing situations and work them out. Instead, she just smiled and repressed a very unhealthy thing to do.
Of course, the Captain can’t go around talking to all the crew members about her feelings, but what about Tuvok? She was longtime friends with him and could have pulled him aside and explained her intent to use him as a sounding board for her internalizations, wouldn’t Tuvok have found that not only logical but a necessity? And I DO believe that he could have been trusted to keep secrets, regardless of the events of Prime Factors, after all, he did that FOR her, not against her.
But instead she focused on the external and went on smiling creating an imaginary world in her head where everything would work out just fine, but the question is did it really?
Thanks for watching today’s episode of Truth OR Myth, the Captain’s Mind Part 1. Later on, in the series, we’ll take a look at the other seasons of Voyager and see if Janeway continues to make questionable decisions due to the effect that events have on her physiologically. Don’t forget to like and subscribe to the channel so you won’t miss this in-depth look at her mind or miss any of the other episodes in this series where we take an in-depth look at the Star Trek Universe and ask ourselves, does this make sense?
Thanks again for watching, Live Long And Prosper…
Watch episode 24