It was a day like any other as the first female captain came aboard The Federation starship Voyager. After some routine checks, she ordered her crew to go to their stations and prepare for take-off. Unbeknownst to her, all of their lives would change drastically over the next few days.
On Oct. 8, Nickelodeon and CBS Studios announced Kate Mulgrew will be joining the cast of their new animated series Star Trek: Prodigy as Captain Janeway, the first female captain of the Star Trek franchise aboard Voyager.
This announcement came at the right time for Star Trek fans, who have been looking for any exciting update since the pandemic gripped North America.
“I have invested every scintilla of my being in Captain Janeway and I can’t wait to endow her with nuance that I never did before in Star Trek: Prodigy. How thrilling to be able to introduce to these young minds an idea that has elevated the world for decades. To be at the helm again is going to be deeply gratifying in a new way for me,” said Kate Mulgrew during the announcement.
What is all the excitement about you may ask? Well, as Captain Janeway herself stated, her role has impacted the lives of many people for several years.
According to businessinsider.com, Netflix analyzed over 100 million subscribers in 190 countries to find out which episodes from the Star Trek franchise were the most popular. From the top 10 episodes, six of them are from Voyager.
Star Trek: Voyager first aired 25 years ago on January 1995, when Captain Kathryn Janeway of The Federation starship Voyager embarked on a mission that was supposed to be a simple tracking and recovery of a Maquis spacecraft. However, that mission ultimately ended with the Voyager crew being stranded in the Delta Quadrant 70,000 light years away from Earth.
From there, Janeway and her new family encountered many different races unknown to them. Some were humanoids while others looked nothing like a human, including the very vicious Borg, a group of cybernetic beings all connected telepathically in a collective which assimilates other races in search of perfection.
Star Trek: Voyager ended in May 2001 with a nail-biting episode called “Endgame part 1 and part 2” which brought to us an unexpected plot twist that has become the most watched and re-watched episode of all the Star Trek franchise.
This series has impacted the lives of many in different ways. For some people the show has helped make connections with family members which otherwise would’ve stayed broken due to life circumstances.
This was the case for Jon Turbett, a member of the Star Trek Voyager Fan Club on Facebook, who claimed that “Voyager played a big role in bringing me and my dad closer together. I was born in 1987. My parents got divorced in 1993, and for years I had a difficulty connecting with my dad, he was by all appearances, a typical tough guy who spent his time watching sports and fixing cars.”
But apparently everyone has a geek side that brings their walls down. “It wasn’t until Voyager was in its third season that I tentatively asked my dad if he had seen Voyager. He has so many opinions, thoughts and gripes, that we talked for hours. That was our thing for years. I’d ‘help’ in the garage and we’d talk Trek. He passed away in 2012 and trek is still my comfort blanket. Voyager is the lynchpin that brought my dad and I closer together,” Turbett added.
For others, their lives have been impacted by Captain Janeway herself, who has been an inspiration in many ways.
For Abby Blais, member of the Star Trek Voyager Fan Club on Facebook, Janeway’s leadership inspired her and her mother. “I am a secondary science teacher, my little sister is named Kathryn after Kathryn Janeway because my mother is such a trekkie. As I was growing up and my mom was a single mother, we watched all of the series together and TNG and Voyager were always my favourites for the many women in science including Janeway.”
Women in power were scarce in the 90s, which made Kathryn Janeway stand out even more. “Janeway stuck out to me as a child. She had empathy, compassion, but didn’t get bossed around, was a leader but also a friend, was intelligent but also able to let those below her do their job without being overbearing and even in the most hopeless situation, she focused on the job at hand and always put her crew first, the way I put my students first. She is what I think of when I think of a great leader,” Blais added.
For me, Star Trek: Voyager has become a generational gem. I watched it while I was a little girl in the ‘90s and I have lost track of how many times I have re-watched the entire series since it became available on Netflix. Now I enjoy it with my four-year-old who has loved the theme song since birth, as I used to watch Voyager while breastfeeding. In fact, she loved it so much that she would stop feeding to watch the opening scene as soon as the song started.
Nowadays my heart jumps in excitement when my daughter is the one who asks me to watch Star Trek: Voyager. She loves everyone in the show, but the second Naomi Wildman was born on board Voyager, she immediately became her favorite. Naomi embarks on adventures with some very interesting characters in the holodeck, which makes it even more engaging for a younger audience. We watched the entire series when my daughter was born, now we are watching it once again and I am hopeful that one day she will watch it with her children as well.