Star Trek: Voyager

Season 1 Episode 1

Caretaker (1)

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Jan 16, 1995 on UPN
out of 10
User Rating
287 votes

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Episode Summary


Stardate: 48315.6
While in pursuit of a Maquis ship in a region of space known as the Badlands, the starship Voyager, under the command of Captain Kathryn Janeway, is transported 70,000 light years from home into the uncharted region of the galaxy known as the Delta Quadrant.

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  • A powerful beginning

    Written primarily by the same man who stabilized TNG's writing staff and wrote DS9's pilot, Caretaker skillfully launches Voyager with a two hour romp that simultaneously works well as a beginning and as a standalone story. Like TNG's pilot, the story is basically a mystery mixed with a powerful alien, though here the elements are better interwoven and no expense is spared. At $23 million, this is Star Trek's most expensive episode of all time, giving the story ample location shooting, visual effects, and whatever it needs to jumpstart the series and launch a network.

    Benefitting from exposition planted in TNG and DS9 episodes ("Journey's End", "The Maquis Part I and II", and "Preemptive Strike") Voyager's pilot opens with a Star Wars-like crawl and then kicks into gear immediately, cutting a quick pace as it moves along and introduces the characters.

    Dodging the obvious choice of the captain as its central player, the episode uses Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) as the way into the story and makes him more or less the primary character. It's an interesting choice, with Paris being an outcast, getting a character arc that helps sum up what the show's all about: a new life. (Interestingly, the idea that Paris is unpopular because of a piloting accident that killed some popular crewman is remarkably similar to something that happened to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. One day in the South Pacific back in 1943, where Roddenberry was serving as a pilot in World War II, his B-17 didn't pick up enough speed to become airborne and the brakes wouldn't respond. The plane ended up crashing into a sea of palm stumps, and two crewmembers died. Many in Roddenberry's squadron questioned why he didn't perform a ground loop maneuver that could have saved everyone's lives, unaware or not wanting to understand that there wasn't enough time. On a side note, the crash prevented Roddenberry from participating in a search for survivors of a Navy PT boat that was destroyed that same morning, forcing someone else to rescue John F. Kennedy). TNG fans, of course, will remember McNeill as Nicholas Lacarno from the fifth season episode "The First Duty", a character with nearly the same backstory as Paris. Naturally it's easy to wonder why the show invents Paris and doesn't just use Lacarno (which the producers did consider), but really, it's better for Voyager to start from scratch. The truth is that McNeill's character in "The First Duty" is (appropriately) selfish and arrogant, which is what really gets him into trouble. Paris, on the other hand, though similar in demeanor, is more selfless and full of self doubt. While VOY could (and almost did) reuse Lacarno and try to recharacterize him, there's no reason to go to so much trouble because of one TNG episode some years back. With Paris a blank slate, the show is able to introduce him to us the way they wish and develop him throughout the episode and series without being tethered down.

    In the meantime, the pilot offers Kate Mulgrew plenty of opportunity to put her stamp on Captain Janeway, creating a character that's vulnerable in private but unquestionably in charge in public. Mulgrew, who was brought in to replace Genevive Bujold, gives a performance that's not just extraordinary but extraordinarily important for Star Trek and television. It might seem sexist today, but after a poor performance by Bujold (who quit the second day), there was some doubt from the executives as to whether a woman could actually front a show they were relying on to launch UPN. Mulgrew, however, owns the part, giving it a Kathryn Hepburn quality and proving she's just as good as any leading man, Shatner and Stewart included.

    Meanwhile, with nine regulars to introduce, some characters get shortchanged. The Doctor, who would go on to be one of the show's breakout characters, gets in a couple funny lines but doesn't have much more to do than his cameo later on in the eighth Star Trek film. Seska (who is not a regular but does prominently factor into the first two seasons) doesn't appear at all. But while some have more to do and some less, most of the major characters get a chance to at least outline the basics of their personalities and relationships. (Meanwhile, a visit to Deep Space Nine gives us a Quark cameo).

    Always remaining a favorite for the cast, crew, and fans alike, the events in "Caretaker" come back into play in several episodes of the series, starting with second season's "Projections". Unfortunately, "Caretaker" is the last Star Trek pilot by Piller, who died of head and neck cancer in 2005. With his ability to successfully create Star Trek out of thin air, it's a shame he didn't get to do more, even if was through standalone TV movies featuring new characters. (George Lucas tried this very thing with The Ewok movies, but he couldn't replicate the spark he carefully developed in the Star Wars movies. Piller didn't seem to have this problem within the Star Trek universe).

    For the debut of Voyager and UPN, "Caretaker" is a heck of a beginning. In fact it's so good, the show never has to employ an idea planted in the pilot specifically to set up a quick finale if the show were to be cancelled early on: the idea of a second caretaker. (They bring back the idea, nonetheless, for the sake of completion in second season's "Cold Fire").

  • love it

    LOVE IT!
  • Caretaker (1)

    Caretaker (1) was a superb episode of Star Trek Voyager and I really enjoyed watching this pilot episode of the new series because the characters were awesome, there was action and intrigue, and the base story line seems to be really good. I think Captain Janeway is one of the best female heroes of television and this is her origin episode. I am not a trekie and don't follow any of the other Star Trek Series, however Voyager is the one I enjoy most for sure. I like how the the characters and story are coming together. I look forward to watching the next episode of Star Trek Voyager!!!!!!!

  • All beginning of Star Trek Shows are somewhat limiting. This one is no different!

    It seems to follow most shows on TV that they start of like somewhat new born child trying to find its feet after recently learning how to walk. Actors and writers are still trying to mold their characters, producers scrambling to understand what their show is going to be about and most likely studios meddling and messing with it all through the process.

    There are some characters here that seem to be pretty well worked out, such as Kathryn Janeway, Harry Kim and the Doctor. The rest seems unsure, and sort of stumble through their first two episodes.

    When I saw Voyager for the first time, it was the opening credits and music that got me hooked. I still think that the ship is the most beautiful Star Trek ship ever designed, and I hoped it set the tone for what would follow.

    The story of how they end up so far away from home is one of the worst cooked up, and almost turned me away from the series. There is a huge mistake in the storyline (SPOILERS) as the caretaker is shipping people there from all over the universe because of the debts he owes to the Ocampa. So in one hand we have such compassionate identity that it has stayed there for 1000s of years to ensure that the Ocampa is safe, but on the other hand it is condemning lots of ships and its creatures by stealing them and not even returning them.

    However, as bad of an idea the whole caretaker was, the brilliance is in the two different crews, the Maquis and Starfleet being thrown together. That in itself was almost more interesting than being light years away from home.

    My feeling is that they underplayed the pilots. Instead of excitement and good storyline, it ended up somewhat slow. Any episodes with identity in them used to be fill-in material in the old series... and definitely not for pilots.

    The series had so much going for it. The fact that we had the first female captain was enough to give the series good time to establish itself. Though I had a lot of issues with the first episode, it still got me hooked from the first moment!moreless
  • A good beginning.

    I thought the pilot episode was good. It was a nice lead-in and was well written. I thought that it immediately seperated itself from the other Star Trek genres and it gave itself its own identity. This episode also did a good job of introducing the viewers to new characters such as Tuvok, Neelix, and Captain Janeway. The conflict between Starfleet and the Marquis was aslo nice as it added a snes of hostility to the show. The setting in the delta quadrant was also very refreshing as we got introduced to new species and potential friends and enemies. Overall, this was a good beginning to a new series. Thank you.moreless
Alicia Coppola

Alicia Coppola

Lt. Stadi

Guest Star

Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman


Guest Star

Scott MacDonald

Scott MacDonald


Guest Star

Josh Clark

Josh Clark

Lt. Carey

Recurring Role

Tarik Ergin

Tarik Ergin

Lt. Ayala

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (10)

    • Goof: The shuttle that takes Tom Paris to Deep Space 9 changes its registry number; it initially reads "71325", then changes to "1701-D", and finally to "74656".

    • Goof: After it was decided to change Janeway's hairstyle, numerous styles were tested. Throughout the course of the episode, Janeway's hairstyle and hair color changes several times which caused minor continuity issues. At several points her hair is ginger in color styled in a curly loose bun. At other points her hair is brown and styled in the tighter bun she would wear for the rest of the first season.

    • When Torres introduces herself to Kim, she pronounces her first name BAY-lanna. However, her name is typically pronounced BEL-Lanna during the rest of the series.

    • Trivia: When Janeway is talking to Mark from her ready-room, she is drinking coffee out of a see-through cup, and it can be clearly seen that the coffee has milk or cream in it. However, for the entire series from this point on, Janeway only drinks black coffee.

    • Nitpick: On the array, Kim says he's detecting several humans and one Vulcan. However, as the crew of Voyager and the Maquis ship were there, he should be detecting lots more; Klingon (Torres), Bolian (Chell, Golwat), Bajoran (Gerron, Tabor, Celes, maybe even Seska), Betazoid (Suder, Jurot) and more than one Vulcan (Tuvok, Vorik).

    • Goof: Lt. Tuvok mistakenly wears Lt. Commander pips in this episode.

    • Goof: When Janeway is walking to Engineering after being transported by the array, she makes a left to go inside. The next shot shows her coming out of the Engineering turbolift instead.

    • Trivia: The scenes inside the Ocampa underground complex were filmed at LAX (Los Angeles) airport. Both the escalator and an exit sign are signs indicative of this.

    • Nitpick: When Janeway and Tuvok walk through the Array; it is clear because of the sunlight through the windows, that Janeway's shots were done on a different day to Tuvok's.

    • Goof: When B'Elanna tries to break out, her white jacket is quite open in several scenes, but then a few shots later it's closed again, which is not possible as she is restrained.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • (finding Paris flirting with resident)
      Kim: Paris, she's only a hologram.
      Paris: No need to be rude.

    • Paris: Stadi, you're changing my mind about Betazoids.
      Stadi: Good.
      Paris: Oh, that wasn't a compliment. I've always considered Betazoids to be warm and sensual.
      Stadi: I can be warm and sensual.
      Paris: Just not to me.
      Stadi: Do you always fly at women at warp speed, Mister Paris?
      Paris: Only when they're in visual range.

    • The Caretaker: Oh, why have you come back? You don't have what I need.
      Janeway: I don't know what you need and frankly I don't care. I just want our people back and I want us all to be sent home.
      The Caretaker: Oh, now, aren't you contentious for a minor bipedal species?
      Janeway: This minor bipedal species doesn't take kindly to being abducted.

    • (Standing in front of a replicator)
      Paris: Tomato soup.
      Computer: There are 14 varieties of tomato soup available from this replicator: with rice, with vegetables, Bolian with pasta, with...
      Paris: Plain.
      Computer: Specify hot or chilled.
      Paris: Hot! Hot, plain tomato soup!

    • Quark: Here am I, trying to be a cordial host, knowing how much a young officer's parents would appreciate a token of his love on the eve of a dangerous mission and what do I get for my trouble? Scurrilous insults. Well, somebody's going to hear about this!

    • B'Elanna: Our fuel line has ruptured. Attempting to compensate. Damn it! We're barely maintaining impulse. I can't get any more out of it.
      Chakotay: Be creative.
      B'Elanna: How am I supposed to be creative with a 39-year old rebuilt engine?!

    • Paris: Didn't they warn you about the Ferengi at the Academy?

    • Janeway: Mr. Kim, at ease, before you sprain something!

  • NOTES (12)


    • Paris: The ghosts of those three dead officers came to me in the middle of the night and taught me the true meaning of Christmas.

      This is an allusion to A Christmas Carol, a Charles Dickens story involving a grouch who is visited by three ghosts on Christmas eve who convince him to be nicer to other people.