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The So-Called Worst Star Trek: Voyager Episode Is A Lot Better Than You Think


The Star Trek: Voyager episode “Threshold” gets mocked every year, but it deserves credit as a silly story about the best Starfleet values.

Star Trek: Voyager Cast
Photo: CBS via Getty Images

Here lies Thomas Eugene Paris, beloved mutant. That’s what Trekkies think about every Jan. 29, known among some as “Threshold Day,” commemorating the 1996 airing of the Star Trek: Voyager season two episode “Threshold.” Threshold Day consists mostly of memes and jokes, poking fun at what most consider one of the series’ worst episodes, if not one of the most embarrassing Star Trek episodes of all time.

While it is certainly corny, “Threshold” doesn’t quite deserve its ignoble reputation. Not only is it far from the worst episode of Voyager (Chakotay’s ancestors’ bones play no part in the story), but it contains a lot of qualities found in the best Star Trek episodes. Is that enough to elevate “Threshold” to the upper Trek tiers? No, but it is enough to give the episode a better reputation than the one it has now.

Crossing the Threshold

Directed by TV veteran Alexander Singer, from a teleplay written by Voyager producer Brannon Braga and based on a story by Michael De Luca (the man who wrote John Carpenter‘s In the Mouth of Madness and currently serves as co-chairperson of Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group), the second season episode “Threshold” involves Tom Paris’s attempts to cross the warp threshold. Paris achieves this goal, reaching Warp 10 in a runabout, but achievement is undercut when his body begins changing and he mutates into a lizard-looking creature. In this form, Paris kidnaps Captain Janeway and puts her in the runabout, traveling to Warp 10 with her. When Chakotay and Tuvok find Paris and Janeway, they’ve changed into giant salamanders and mated.

Yes, that’s an episode with a strange premise, one of many in Voyager‘s first few seasons. Most Trek series take a couple of seasons to find their footing, as when the crew develop a camaraderie in The Next Generation, the Dominion reveals itself as a threat in Deep Space Nine, or the titular ship jumps ahead 900 years in Discovery.

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