Below is my ranking of the episodes from the Disney Plus limited series, “THE RIGHT STUFF”, Disney’s adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book. Created by Mark Lafferty, the series stars Patrick J. Adams, Jake McDorman and Colin O’Donoghue:
RANKING OF “THE RIGHT STUFF” (2020) EPISODES
1. (1.05) “The Kona Kai Séance” – After Mercury 7 astronaut John Glenn helps fellow astronaut Alan Shepard prevent the latter’s indiscretion from being exposed by the media, Glenn confronts his fellow astronauts over their relations with young female fans. Also, a greater conflict develops between him and Shepard over who will be the first sent into space.
2. (1.03) “Single Combat Warrior” – After mysterious bouts of vertigo, Shepard turns to U.S. Navy nurse Dee O’Hara to help him. Meanwhile, Cocoa Beach, Florida has transformed from a ghost town to a perpetual party between the Mercury astronauts and young groupies. Gordon “Gordo” Cooper finds himself tempted by another woman.
3. (1.06) “Vostok” – With President John F. Kennedy now in the White House, NASA finds itself under scrutiny by his administration and Shepard’s flight delayed. When NASA learns of his heart arrhythmia, Mercury astronaut Donald “Deke” Slayton is removed from the Mercury program.
4. (1.01) “Sierra Hotel” – NASA aerospace engineer Chris Kraft and his team are assigned to select the first seven astronauts for NASA’s Mercury program out of over 100 highly capable applicants.
5. (1.07) “Ziggurat” – Weather endangers Shepard’s flight. Meanwhile, tensions between him and Glenn hit a breaking point over a his past indiscretion and a letter written by the latter.
6. (1.08) “Flight” – After Shepard’s historic flight into space, he feels underwhelmed and restless. Gordo’s marriage to his wife Trudy is on the brink of collapse due to a comment he had made during a press conference. Slayton becomes the new Chief of the Astronauts Office and informs astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom that the latter will be the next American in space.
7. (1.04) “Advent” – During the holidays, the Russian space program achieves another milestone, throwing the future of NASA into question. Shepard and his wife Louise adopt her orphaned niece. Cooper is contacted by a former lover, which forces his confrontation and reconciliation with Trudy.
8. (1.02) “Goodies” – The Mercury 7 astronauts become aware of their instant fame and the pitfalls that come with it.
Below is a list of my top five favorite episodes from Season One of “LOST” (2004-2010). The series was created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof; and produced by the latter and Carlton Cuse.
TOP FIVE FAVORITE “LOST” SEASON ONE (2004-2005) Episodes
1. (1.23-1.25) “Exodus” – This season finale served as a transition in the series’ narrative, as an expedition sets out to find dynamite to open the hatch recently discovered by castaway John Locke. And the raft planned by Michael Dawson finally leaves the island with him, his son Walt, Jin Kwon and James “Sawyer” Ford, resulting in unexpected circumstances.
2. (1.17) “. . . In Translation” – This episode featured Jin’s backstory in flashbacks and the further disintegration of his marriage, when he discovers that his wife Sun had learned English behind his back.
3. (1.04) “Walkabout” – While Locke and a few others set on a hunting expedition to find boar for the other castaways, his flashbacks reveal his reason for being in Australia.
4. (1.11) “All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” – Jack Shephard leads an expedition to find two castaways that had been kidnapped in the previous episode. The episode’s flashbacks reveal the events that led to Jack being responsible for his father’s dismissal from the hospital they worked at.
5. (1.19) “Deus Ex Machina” – In their search for a means to open a hatch they had found; Locke and Boone Carlyle find a Nigerian small plane. And their discovery leads to tragic circumstances. In the flashbacks, Locke meets his parents for the first time, who prove to be major disappointments.
Below is a list of my favorite episodes from Season Two of “JESSICA JONES”, the Marvel Netflix adaptation of the Marvel Comics heroine. Created by Melissa Rosenberg, the series stars Kristen Ritter as Jessica Jones:
FIVE FAVORITE EPISODES OF “JESSICA JONES” SEASON TWO (2018)
1. (2.06) “AKA Facetime” – Super powered New York City private detective Jessica Jones gate crashes an exclusive country club, while hunting for the killer of another enhanced person with connections to Dr. Miklos Kozlov, the doctor who had given her powers. Jessica’s adoptive sister Trish Walker’s addiction to a combat enhancing drug spirals out of control.
2. (2.02) “Sole Survivor” – Jessica stumbles across a new lead on the IGH company at an abandoned clinic, where she had stayed as a girl following the accident that killer her family. Attorney Jeryn “Jeri” Hogarth faces an ultimatum after the secret regarding her Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL) gets out.
3. (2.13) “AKA Playland” – Jessica finds herself torn between two worlds and facing an impossible choice after finding herself on the road toward the U.S.-Canada with her enhanced mother Alisa Jones, who was believed to be dead.
4. (2.02) “Freak Accident” – Jessica sets out to find Dr. Kozlov and makes a startling discovery. Trish recruits Jessica’s neighbor and associate, Malcolm Ducasse for backup as she visits a figure from her past, a television director named Maxmilian Tatum who had sexually abused her when she was a child actress.
5. (2.04) “God Help the Hobo” – Between anger management classes and tabloid scandals, Jessica and Trish track down a third patient linked to the IGH company. Jessica’s apartment superintendent, Oscar Arocho, extends an olive branch after their previous quarrel about her powers.
There have been four adaptations of Agatha Christie’s 1941 novel, “Evil Under the Sun”. One version was a radio play that broadcast in 1999. The Adventure Company released its own adaptation in 2007. John Bradbourne and Richard Goodwin released a movie version in 1982. However, the adaptation that has recently caught my attention is the 2001 television movie that aired on ITV’s “AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT”.
While dining at his friend Captain Arthur Hasting’s new Argentine restaurant, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot suffers a sudden collapse. His doctor reveals that Poirot need to lose weight or risk a heart condition. Both the doctor and the detective’s secretary, Miss Lemon, book Poirot at a health resort on the coast of Devon called Sandy Cove. Miss Lemon also insists that Captain Hastings accompany him.
At the Sandy Cove Resort, both Poirot and Hastings come across the usual assortment of guests. Among them was a well-known stage actress named Arlena Stuart Marshall. Many of the guests disliked Arlena, including her new husband, Captain Kenneth Marshall and her 17 year-old stepson, Lionel. Another guest, Mrs. Christina Redfern harbored jealousy over Arlena’s indiscreet affair with hubby Patrick. Well-known dressmaker Rosamund Darnley, was an old flame of Captain Marshall’s, and also harbored jealousy toward Arlena. A fanatical vicar named the Reverend Stephen Lane viewed Arlena as the embodiment of evil. An athletic spinster named Emily Brewster harbored resentment toward Arlena for bailing out on a play she had invested. The only guests who seemed to harbor no feelings regarding Arlena were a Major Barry and a Mr. Horace Blatt. But both seemed to be involved in some mysterious activities around the resort’s island – including the location where Arlena had been waiting to meet for a clandestine lover. When Arlena’s body is discovered strangled to death, Poirot and Hastings work with Scotland Yard inspector Japp to investigate the crime.
When I was younger, I had read Christie’s novel on a few occasions. I tried to enjoy the novel. I really did. I understood that it was a favorite among Christie fans. But I never managed to rouse any enthusiasm for the story. There was something about it that struck me as rather flat. This 2001 television adaptation seemed to be an improvement over the novel. Perhaps a visual representation on the television screen made it easier for me to appreciate the story. I certainly cannot deny that Rob Hinds’ production designs struck me as colorful and sleek – a perfect continuation of the Art Deco style that had dominated the “AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT” since the beginning. I was also impressed by Charlotte Holdich’s sleek costume designs for the cast – especially the female characters. Overall, “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” proved to be eye-candy for those who usually enjoy television and movie productions with a 1930s setting.
The subplot involving Poirot’s health certainly made it easier for me to understand why he would vacation at a not-so-interesting hotel resort. To be honest, I could not see someone like the flashy Arlena Marshall being a guest at such a low-key location. Screenwriter Anthony Horowitz made a wise choice in transforming Arlena’s 16 year-old stepdaughter Linda Marshall, who studied magic; into a 17 year-old boy, studying poisons. Arlena had been strangled. And Scotland Yard made it clear that large hands had been responsible for the crime. The idea of a 16 year-old girl with man-size hands struck me as slightly improbable. After all, if Christie wanted Linda to be considered as a serious suspect, she should have changed the character’s gender, which Horowitz did; or find another method to bump off Arlena Marshall.
The above mentioned changes in Christie’s story – Poirot’s health problems and the transformations of the Linda/Lionel Marshall character – seemed like improvements over the original story. However, other changes made it impossible for me to love this adaptation. I understand why the series’ producers and Horowitz had decided to include Hastings, Japp and Lemon into the story. After all, the Eighth Series, which aired in 2000 and 2001, proved to be the last that featured these three characters. But none of them had appeared in the 1941 novel. Hastings’ presence only gave Poirot a pretext for vacationing at Sandy Cove in the first place. Unfortunately, the running joke about Poirot’s distaste toward the resort’s health-conscious menu for its guests became tiresome within one-third of the movie. Other than the Argentine restaurant sequence, Horowitz failed to make Hastings’ presence relevant to the story. And why on earth was Chief Inspector Japp investigating a murder in Devon? He was outside of Scotland Yard’s jurisdiction, which was limited to Greater London and the home counties of Essex and Hertfordshire in the East of England; along with Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey and Kent in South East England. In other words . . . what in the hell was Japp doing there in Devon? Miss Lemon proved to be the only veteran recurring cast member that proved to be relevant to the story. She helped Poirot investigate another murder case with connections to Arlena Marshall’s murderer. The movie also featured one scene in which Poirot verbally castigated one of the suspects – the married Patrick Redfern – for conducting an affair with victim Arlena Marshall. This brief conversation seemed to strike a false note for me. Poirot might disapprove of adultery, but he would never so indiscreet as to confront an adulterer over any extramarital activities.
The cast gave solid performances. But I could not recall any memorable performances among them. The four main cast members – David Suchet, Hugh Fraser, Philip Jackson and Pauline Moran – were competent as usual. I was also impressed by Michael Higgs (Patrick Redfern), Carolyn Pickles (Emily Brewster), Ian Thompson (Major Barry), Tamzin Malleson (Christine Redfern) and especially Russell Tovey (Lionel Marshall). But there were performances that failed to rock my boat. David Mallinson’s portrayal of Kenneth Marshall struck me as . . . meh. He was not terrible, but simply not that interesting. Marsha Fitzalan’s performance as Rosamund Darnley seemed a bit off. Her portrayal of the dressmaker struck me as gossipy and callow. She seemed like an early 20th century version of her old role, Caroline Bingley; instead of the warm and strong-willed Rosamund. Both Tim Meats and David Timson’s performances seemed slightly hammy and rather off for such a low-key production. But the real worm in the apple proved to be Louise Delamere’s portrayal of victim Arlena Marshall. I realize that Delamere was given a role that seemed the least interesting in Christie’s novel. But Horowitz’s script and Delamere’s performance failed to improve upon it. Delamere ended up projecting a fourth-rate version of Diana Rigg’s performance in the 1982 film.
Overall, “EVIL UNDER THE SUN” proved to be a mixed bag. Production wise, it looked sleek and colorful. The script provided a few improvements over Christie’s novel. And there were some first-rate performances that included David Suchet. But in the end, I felt the movie was slightly undermined by other changes that I found unnecessary and some not-so impressive performances.
Below is a list of my favorite episodes from Season Two of “GAME OF THRONES”, HBO’s adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s 1998 novel from his A Song of Ice and Fire series, “A Clash of Kings”. The series was created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss:
FIVE FAVORITE EPISODES OF “GAME OF THRONES” SEASON TWO (2012)
1. (2.09) “Blackwater” – King Robert Baratheon’s younger brother, Stannis Baratheon, arrives at Westeros’ capital, King’s Landing, to battle for the city and the Iron Throne.
2. (2.06) “The Old Gods and the New” – Former Stark hostage Theon Greyjoy seizes control of Winterfell to please his father, Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands. Jon Snow captures a wildling named Ygritte. And the people of King’s Landing begin to turn against King Joffrey during a riot in the capital’s streets. Daenerys Targaryen looks to buy ships to sail for the Seven Kingdoms.
3. (2.10) “Valar Morghulis” – In this season finale, Joffrey ends his engagement to Sansa Stark in favor for an engagement to Renley Baratheon’s widow, Margery Tyrell, in the wake of the Lannisters’ new alliance with her family. Daenerys seeks to rescue her baby dragons from the warlocks of Qarth.
4. (2.05) “The Ghost of Harrenhal” – Temporary Hand of the King Tyrion Lannister investigates a secret weapon that King Joffrey and his mother, Queen Cersei, plan to use against Stannis’ invasion force. Meanwhile, as a token to Arya for saving his life on the road from King’s Landing, an assassin named Jaqen H’ghar offers to kill three people that she chooses.
5. (2.04) “Garden of Bones” – Sansa is nearly punished by Joffrey following her brother Robb Stark’s latest victory over the Lannister forces. Lord Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish arrives at Renly’s camp just before the latter can face off against Stannis. Daenerys and her company are welcomed into the city of Qarth. Arya and her travel companions – Gendry and Hot Pie – find themselves imprisoned at Harrenhal Castle.
Below is a list of my favorite episodes from Season Two of the USA Network series, “MONK”. Created by Andy Breckman, the series starred Tony Shalhoub:
FAVORITE EPISODES OF “MONK” SEASON TWO (2003-2004)
1. (2.02) “Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico” – The mysterious death of a San Francisco college student at a Mexican resort leads Adrian Monk and his assistant Sharona Fleming to travel across the border and help the police solve the case. Tony Plana, Jorge Cervera Jr., and David Norona guest starred.
2. (2.16) “Mr. Monk Goes to Jail” – In the season finale, a condemned convict is poisoned to death hours before he is due to be executed. Monk is brought in to solve the case and finds himself as the prison’s newest resident. Tim Curry, Kathy Baker and Danny Trejo guest starred.
3. (2.01) “Mr. Monk Goes Back to School” – A high school English teacher falls to her death from a clock tower at the former school of Monk’s late wife. When he is summoned to investigate, Monk dismisses the police’s suicide theory and declares that her death was murder. Andrew McCarthy, David Rasche and Rosalind Chao guest starred.
4. (2.14) “Mr. Monk and the Captain’s Wife” – A sniper causes a car accident that nearly kills Captain Leland Stottlemeyer’s wife, Karen Stottlemeyer. Monk races to solve the case and prevent Stottlemeyer from seeking revenge. Gleanne Headley, Daniel Goddard and Geoff Pierson guest starred.
5. (2.11) “Mr. Monk and the Three Pies” – Convinced that his neighbor was murdered by her husband, Monk’s agoraphobic brother Ambrose Monk asks for the detective’s help. But the husband only seems focused on winning pies at a local fair. John Tuturro and Holt McCallany guest starred.
Eight to nine years ago, director M. Night Shyamalan had decided to explore the world of fantasy-adventure by filming “THE LAST AIRBENDER”, the 2010 adaptation of the 2005-2008 animated television series, “AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER”. This movie is a fantasy-adventure tale set in a fictional, Asian-influenced world with Chinese martial arts and elemental manipulation.
“THE LAST AIRBENDER” tells the story of a young monk and the only surviving airbender (one with the psi ability to manipulate air) named Aang, who is believed by others to be the future Avatar – one who can manipulate all four elements of air, water, fire and earth. With his two new friends from the Southern Water Tribe, Aang seeks to learn to manipulate three other elements – water, earth and fire. In this movie, he journeys with his friends Katara (a waterbender) and her brother Sokka to the Northern Water Tribe, where he can learn how to master the waterbending skill from a master. Tracking Aang, Katara and Sokka is Prince Zuko, the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation; who has been exiled by his evil father, Fire Lord Ozai and sent to capture the future Avatar. With the Avatar’s capture, Zuko’s honor and right to the throne will be restored.
I would have never bothered to see this movie. But an office colleague of mine had really enjoyed the movie and recommended that I go see it. Needless to say, I do not regret following her advice. Mind you, ”THE LAST AIRBENDER” was not perfect. Nor would I regard it as a favorite of mine. The movie’s first five to ten minutes failed to kick start my interest. It bored me so much that I found myself on the verge of falling asleep. Most of the cast members gave performances that ranged from mediocrity to sheer boredom. And a good deal of the movie’s dialogue seemed extremely cheesy to me – the kind of dialogue one would find in the ”STAR WARS” and the ”LORD OF THE RINGS” movie franchises.
One of the biggest problems with “THE LAST AIRBENDER” for me proved to be the casting. Many of the leads – namely those characters that portrayed the film’s protagonists were portrayed by white actors. White actors in a movie set in Asia, portraying East Asians or Inuits? I found that troublesome. And although the film also featured non-Westerners in major roles, they portrayed the film’s main antagonists. I do not know about the rest of you, but this form of casting seemed to reek of racism.
However, ”THE LAST AIRBENDER” had its virtues. Ironically, its main virtue proved to be the cast. I was impressed by the performances of the film’s two leads, Noah Ringer and Dev Patel, who portrayed Aang and Zuko respectively. These two literally kept this movie together. It also helped that both young actors possessed genuine martial arts experience. I was also impressed by Shaun Toub, who portrayed Zuko’s wise uncle, Iroh; Aasif Mandvi, who played the Fire Nation’s cold-blooded military commander, Zhao; and Cliff Curtis, who portrayed the ruthless leader of the Fire Nation, Fire Lord Ozai. Andrew Lesnie’s photography, Philip Messina’s production designs and the art directions supervised by Richard L. Johnson were very impressive, if not mind blowing. However, I did find Judianna Makovsky’s costume designs to be very beautiful and memorable.
From what I understand, ”THE LAST AIRBENDER” was not exactly a hit. The movie managed to earn a profit, but barely enough to fully earn back the money spent on its production and not enough to be regarded as a box office hit. It has failed to fully earn back the money spent on its production. Well . . . what can I say? Regardless of whether it was a hit or not, regardless of its flaws – including racist casting, “THE LAST AIRBENDER” managed to provide some semblance of entertainment.
Below is my ranking of the Season One episodes of the Amazon Prime series, “THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL”. Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, the series stars Rachel Brosnahan as Miriam “Midge” Maisel:
“THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL” SEASON ONE (2017) EPISODE RANKING
1. (1.08) “Thank You and Good Night” – Housewife-turned-standup comic Miriam “Midge” Maisel and her manager, former cafe employee Susie Myerson deal with the repercussions of Midge’s off-script take down of famous comedienne Sophie Lennon. Midge and her estranged husband Joel Maisel briefly reunite for their son’s birthday.
2. (1.02) “Ya Shivu v Bolshom Dome Na Kholme” – Midge’s life falls into a tailspin in the wake of Joel leaving her. Their parents butt heads in an attempt to keep the couple together. Susie pushes Midge to seek a career as a stand-up comic.
3. (1.07) “Put That on Your Plate” – With Susie’s help, Midge hones her act at the Gaslight Cafe. Midge’s father, Abe Weissman, surprises the women with a dinner guest, sending her mother Rose into an emotional spiral. Midge stirs up controversy after meeting a big-time comic, Sophie Lennon.
4. (1.01) “Pilot” – Midge seemed to lead the perfect life with Joel and their children. But when his dreams of becoming a stand-up comic bomb at the Gaslight, Joel blames Midge and leaves her. A drunken Midge returns to the club and engages in a comic routine that leads to her arrest.
5. (1.04) “The Disappointment of the Dionne Quintuplets” – Susie shows Midge the ropes during a tour of New York comedy clubs. Rose takes a bit too much pleasure in Midge and the children moving in with the Weissmans.
6. (1.06) “Mrs. X at the Gaslight” – Susie becomes upset when she learns that Midge has been performing her act at private parties. Abe is thrilled when he receives a job offer from Bell Labs. The Weissman family celebrate Abe’s job offer at a local Chinese restaurant, where they encounter Joel and his mistress, Penny Pann.
7. (1.03) “Because You Left” – After her second arrest, Midge finds herself in legal trouble when she is forced to face a judge in court. Abe approaches Joel’s father, Moishe Maisel, with an interesting proposition. Legendary comic Lenny Bruce offers some unconventional inspiration for Midge’s act.
8. (1.05) “Doink” – Midge gets a job at B. Altman, a Manhattan department store, where she makes new friends. She also hires an unemployed comedy writer, an act that proves disastrous for her budding career. Joel’s relationship with Penny Pann meets with disapproval from his parents, along with the wife of his friend/co-worker Archie Cleary.
Many ”STAR TREK” fans have claimed that the lead character of ”STAR TREK VOYAGER” lead character, Captain Kathryn Janeway, barely developed as a character during the series’ seven (7) season run. After watching the Season Two episode, (2.14) “Alliances”, I am can see that I would never agree with those critics of Janeway’s character. The Season Two Kathryn Janeway featured in this episode struck me as a far cry from the Kathryn Janeway that finally returned to Earth in the series finale, (7.25-7.26) “Endgame”.
But this article is not simply about Kathryn Janeway. It is mainly about the good captain and the major role she played in ”Alliances”. The episode began with a Kazon attack upon Voyager, which resulted in damages to the starship, several wounded and the death of another Voyager crewman – the popular ex-Maquis and close friend of Commander Chakotay named Kurt Bendera. After Chakotay delivered the eulogy after the funeral, Crewmen Hogan and Michael Jonas voiced their opinion to Captain Janeway that Voyager should operate in a manner similar to the Maquis and consider making a deal with the Kazon for safe passage. Naturally, Janeway refused to consider the idea of trading technology with Kazon, which is something they have proposed in the past. But her resistance to the idea of an alliance eventually faded when Chakotay and Lieutenant Tuvok both proposed that she consider an alliance with one or two Kazon factions to secure peace. Not to trade technology, but to offer protection from attacking forces and emergency supplies. As I had pointed out, the Captain was reluctant to accept Chakotay’s idea, but eventually accepted. Ensign Harry Kim seemed horrified by the idea, claiming that the Federation would never consider forming alliances with the likes of the Kazon. Apparently, the young ensign forgot about the treaty that the Federation had signed with the Klingon Empire in the late 23rd century (something that Tuvok had reminded the Captain about) and one with Cardassia just a few years earlier. Fortunately, Janeway ignored Kim’s protests.
During the series’ first two seasons, Janeway had been a rigid practitioner of Starfleet’s principles, unwilling to be flexible about her command style. She also had a bad habit of ignoring advice that required her to be a little more flexible . . . unless it suited her. Obviously, Chakotay’s suggestion of mixing a little Starfleet principles with Maquis methods never really appealed to Janeway. And I got the feeling that she was determined to prove him wrong. Bear with me. There was nothing wrong in Janeway’s policies about following Starfleet principles – when the situation demanded it. After all, if Janeway had not maintained discipline on her ship, Voyager could have easily become another U.S.S. Equinox. However, there was a time for adhering to Starfleet . . . and a time for using other methods.
Chakotay’s idea of forming an alliance with the Kazon seemed sound. Even Tuvok thought it was a good idea. Yet, Janeway decided to sabotage Chakotay’s idea by accepting Torres and Paris’ not-so-bright suggestion of forming an alliance with Seska and Maj Cullah of the Kazon Nistrim sect. Why on earth would she agree to sign a treaty with the very Kazon sect that the crew of Voyager had been in conflict with since Season One’s (1.11) “State of Flux”? And why did she not simply consider contacting other Kazon sects, as Chakotay and Tuvok had suggested. Then Janeway added more fuel to the fire when she disregarded Tuvok’s advice against forming an alliance with the Trabe, the Kazons’ blood enemy. The Trabe used to be a major power in the Delta Quadrant and also brutal slave masters ruling over the Kazon race. The Kazon eventually revolted and stole all of the Trabe technology, spacecraft and even their home world. The Trabe had been reduced to wanderers that were constantly pursued by Kazon fleets and unable to settle on any permanent planet for fear of being exterminated by the former slaves. In the end, Tuvok’s objections against an alliance with the Trabe proved to be sound. The effort to form an alliance with the Kazon ended up being undermined by the Trabe’s attempt to assassinate the Kazon majes (leaders).
As I had earlier stated, one of Janeway’s major flaws had been her inability to be flexible in the face of Voyager’s extraordinary situation in the Delta Quadrant. During Seasons One and Two, she seemed obsessed with maintaining Starfleet principles. In the end, this strict adherence to these principles did not prevent Voyager’s capture by Seska, Maje Cullah and the Kazon in the Season Two finale, (2.26) “Basics, Part I”. Following this last incident with Seska and the Kazon, Janeway switched tactics and adhered more closely with utilizing Maquis methods. I would have cheered her for this . . . except she went from one extreme to another. Her determination to use any means possible to get home nearly led to Voyager’s destruction in the early Season Three episode, (3.04)”The Swarm”, when she decided to trespass into a hostile alien space after being warned away. Another form of this kind of extremism occurred when she decided to form an alliance with the Borg in order to avoid what she believed was certain destruction at the hands of Species 8472 in (3.26-4.01) “Scorpion”. This alliance led to Species 8472’s defeat and many home worlds opened to conquest and assimilation by the Borg. After Voyager’s encounter with the U.S.S. Equinox in (5.26-6.01) “Equinox”, Janeway finally learned to become flexible by striking a balance between maintaining Starfleet principles and being a little creative when the occasion demanded.
As for “Alliances”, it had the potential to be an excellent episode. Unfortunately, too much had occurred during the episode’s 45-50 minutes running time. ”Alliances” could have . . . should have been a two-part episode. But writer/producer Jeri Taylor decided to stuff this very eventful story into one episode. Worse, the story ended on a sour note with Janeway’s speech reaffirming Starfleet principles. Her strident speech not only made me wince, it also made me wonder if she was feeling a little smug at proving both Chakotay and Tuvok wrong. The ending did not strike me as one of her finest hours.