Star Trek: Voyager

Season 1 Episode 16

Learning Curve

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM May 22, 1995 on UPN

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
201 votes
  • An enjoyable episode that plays itself more for fun than drama.

    One of the most biting criticisms of Star Trek: Voyager was the manner in which the Maquis and Starfleet crews melded so seamlessly together. This episode perhaps then is not the best to dispel it. First and foremost, the Maquis are freedom fighters. Men and women of principle, who for the most part have been in direct conflict with Starfleet. It may be true that many of its member are former Starfleet officers, but the ease by which many integrated themselves into Voyager's crew.

    So when we meet the supposedly worst of the worst of the Maquis, those who continue to rage against Starfleet and its regulations, it is hard not to see them as weak. Indeed, many of the Maquis crewmembers outside of Chakotay, Torres and Seska are only faintly drawn. In Learning Curve we are show 4 members that range from the stupid to the insanely angry.

    The Bolian Chell is frankly annoying. A fact that seems to include all Bolian characters on Star Trek. It is a surprise to think that he is the only Maquis member introduced in this episode that makes a repeat appearance later on in the series. As a character, he is a virtual dead end. He seems to resent the rules and regulations of Starfleet, not because he opposes them or their ideology, but because it requires hard work.

    Crewman Henley is slightly more detailed. She is uncomfortable in the Starfleet atmosphere, perhaps indicating she has had not prior relationship with the organisation. She appears more soft spoken than most and seems more frustrated at her inability to adapt and operate at a level of competency she is accustomed to. The Henley character is certainly one that could have easily continued as a recurring character, but sadly the beginnings of a decent character ended with this episode.

    Gerron is your typical angry Bajoran. Something that we have seen numerous times in all kinds of situations. The moment you see him you know immediately that something will happen to him. When it does happen, you can't help but feel the episode is just writing by numbers. His most redeeming trait is his relationship with Crewman Dalby.

    In fact Crewman Dalby is your typical Maquis. He hates Starfleet and what it represents. His history which deals with the rape and murder of his partner by Cardassian soldiers is surprisingly compelling. His anger seems more than just an excuse. It feels real and raw. His protection of the younger Bajoran Gerron says more about him. Dalby is honourable.

    It is Dalby and his attitudes that allows Tuvok to come to an understanding that his rigid interpretation of Starfleet rules and regulations cannot work when faced with certain members of the Maquis. In a way, Tuvok's relationship with the four Maquis crewmembers represents more of the struggle between the two crews. Chakotay and Torres slipped back into Starfleet with relative ease. Perhaps it was that both Chakotay and Torres, whilst leaving Starfleet, always desired to return.

    The other plot point of the episode involves Neelix poisoning the ship. It was practically bound to happen, I'm just surprised the writers didn't hold off until a later season. Either way it is a decent B-Story. The bio-neural gel packs always seemed a really interesting idea. That they lead to an illness in the ship itself is refreshingly original. The solution to curing the ship is almost typically Star Trek. Using not advanced medical knowledge, but good old fashioned medicinal practices.

    The two stories work well together and come together at the end flawlessly. A textbook example of weaving two seemingly disparate storylines into one cohesive one.

    Learning Curve may not be the best example of Voyager, but it is solid and enjoyable. Sadly the episode acts as a dead end to the Maquis saga and from this point onwards the only references to the Maquis came from the ships encounters with Seska, the murderer Lon Sudar and out-of-character episodes.

    That the network decided to hold on to the last couple of episodes of the first season and effectively made this the final episode of the shows first season. In that respect it is not the strongest.

    It is a shame that some of the character introduced and themes explored in this episode did not return as the series continued. It was a promising end to the season that was not elaborated on. A missed opportunity in many respects.