Captain Kathryn Janeway assumed command of her first starship,Voyager, in time to be yanked across the galaxy by a lonely and dying space alien satellite thing. Her ship and crew, along with a renegade Maquis raider, found themselves in the Delta Quadrant. Even with engines engaged at maximum warp, Federation space was 75 years away. The challenges Janeway faced on the return trip makes her the best captain in the Star Trek franchise. Here are 11 reasons why:Janeway took command of her first starship,
1. Janeway offered amnesty to her enemies. Near the conclusion of the pilot episode, the Maquis raider was sacrificed to save all Alpha Quadrant refugees. (Sure, the ship was already heavily damaged, but this is Star Trek! Ships are only irreparably damaged if they explode or, sometimes, when they crash land in an exciting movie sequence. Occassionaly even this level of destruction is an inadequate means of doing away with a ship, and this is how it should be.) The Maquis, depending on your point of view, were freedom/terrorist fighters of whom the Federation had sworn to disband. Without a ship, the Maquis were at Captain Janeway's mercy. She had plenty of options. For example, James T. Kirk in The Original Series stranded Khan on Ceti Alpah 5. We know how well that worked out for him! Or Janeway could have rationalized with the Maquis (like Picard demonstrated with the Borg drone, Hugh), and send them on their way in Voyager's shuttlepods. Perhaps Janeway could have taken a Captain Sisko approach of offering an ultimatum with the possibility armed conflict. Instead, Janeway seized upon her own decision rather than selecting from the templates established before her time, and offered amnesty to the Maquis along with a bunk, three replicated meals a day, and clothes so long as they worked and behaved while on board her ship. Janeway's choice was not so much based on using the Prime Directive as her moral compass. Instead, she decided based on the conviction that the proper humanitarian action was to return the Maquis, despite their disagreements, to their proper place in the universe.
2. Janeway held together a crew comprised of two opposing ideological viewpoints. Captain Janeway was faced with a challenge she shared with the previous Star Trek captains, an alliance with the enemy (the Maquis in this instance). What differentiates Janeway in this matter is the alliance was long term rather than spanning a week or two. Sure, most everyone accepted the new rules with little resistance, and running firefights through the passageways is bound to grow tiresome by the second season. It's best to avoid that pesky problem. Janeway keeping peace between her Federation crew and Maquis refugees is similar in nature, though not quite, to leading a project of 150 people pulled from humanists and fundamental Christians ideologies. Egad! Not a job I'd want! For this, Janeway is the best of the Star Trek captains.
3. Janeway treated The Doctor as a sentient being with all the rights and privileges associated with such a status. Whether in life or fiction, the captain sets the tone for the ship. Had Janeway chosen to view The Doctor as nothing more than a computer program, then her attitude would have permeated the ship. Perhaps she was familiar with Data's trial in the TNG episode, The Measure of a Man. Perhaps her enlightenment came from another source or inner reflection. The point is, Janeway came to the conclusion The Doctor was as much a member of the crew as Torres, Chakotay, Kim, and Paris. Granted, Janeway did turn off The Doctor at times, but understandably so. (I have frequently imagined the benefits of certain colleagues coming equipped with an on/off switch.) She extended this viewpoint to Kes and Neelix (unfortunately), and later to Seven of Nine. Her ability to see beyond technology (The Doctor), annoying personalities (Kes and Neelix), and across enemy lines (Seven of Nine) to make people feel welcome on her crew makes Janeway the best captain.
4. Janeway maintained her dignity after making lizard babies with Tom Paris. Kirk was forced to give a little person a pony ride in the TOS episode, Plato's Stepchildren, but that is a small insult when compared to the devolution of Captain Janeway. Imagine waking up one morning to look in the mirror and see a giant salamander starring back at you. To make matters worse, there are only two of your species, and the other happens to be a dullard. The indignity does not stop there. Oh no! There was some swinging in the tree, some kissing, and then came a horde of babies. The Doctor eventually repaired the altered DNA, but not before the entire crew learned their esteemed captain's plight and maternal condition. Janeway managed to hold her head high, even go so far as to make a joke of the situation. The ability to hold the crew together after such a humiliating event makes Janeway the best captain.
5. Janeway lost far fewer crew members than Kirk. In Captain Kirk's Five Year Mission, he lost approximately 56 officers and crew. The number reflects only the first three years of the mission, and not his struggles from V'ger to General Chang. On a ship of 450, we are looking at 8% of the crew dead and gone at a rate of 18.7 people per year (meaning one person died very slowly). Death every where you look! Janeway lost 26 officers and crew in seven years. The number of dead is based on a Wikia article, StarfleetCasualties. The deaths under Janeway's command occurred over a period double the duration of Kirk's weekly phaser BBQ. 26 deaths over seven years. . . not bad, especially when considering one of those deaths was Tuvix.
Voyager was home and office to 150 people and things, and only 17% died. A percentage close to Kirk's death count, but not quiet when compared properly. Janeway lost only 46% of Kirk's total. For the low death count, and for killing off Tuvix, Janeway is the best captain.
6. Janeway was the first captain since Kirk to rise to the rank of admiral. Granted, Picard was offered the rank, but refused the grand opportunity to pilot a desk. Sisko debuted behind the crowed as a lowly commander, and Archer was eventually promoted (technically making him the first of the three admirals). Janeway's Lost in Space styled journey was pretty much a career success. Sure, people died, but she did pretty well when considering what we learned in Reason 5. Janeway did return to the Alpha Quadrant with most of her crew intact. Plus, she provided Star Fleet with a Borg to interrogate, and a new alien species to dissect (goodbye, Neelix!) She brought home new technologies to be studied. The Federation data banks were filled with information Voyager gathered from the Delta Quadrant. That alone is reason enough to promote Janeway to admiral when remembering the primary mission of Starfleet and the Federation is of a scientific in nature. The treasures Janeway spread out before her superior officers, like Columbus before Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, is reason enough to name her the best captain.
7. Janeway was not driven into a homicidal rage when dealing with Neelix. I really don't know how she refrained from murdering Neelix beyond relying on insane amounts of self-control. Star Trek has its fair share of annoying characters, but Neelix tops the list. He is the Jar-Jar Binks of the Star Trek universe. Day after day, for seven years Janeway was subjected to his mindless prattle and a dizzying sight of an extraterrestrial that seemed confused as to his identity. The mullet suggests white-trash, but the hair color and leopard skin tones imply punk. Janeway did not even carry a phaser when in the presence of this creepy thing. Surly a testament of her courage!
8. Janeway brought resolution to the Q Civil War. What more can be said? A mere human walked onto a battlefield as gods struggled to murder each other. She negotiated peace in true Federation style, debate as apposed to the strength of phasers and proton torpedoes. Sure, the other captains confronted their share of insane godlike entities, but those confrontations were generally among individuals demigods. Janeway did it bigger and better!
9. Q selected Captain Janeway as his son's godmother. Q was fond of Picard, found little joy in Sisko, but he truly admired Janeway. She played his games as well as her predecessors, and earned his respect based on intellect and strength of character. Due to her help in resolving the Q Civil War, Q honored her in no way another captain has been honored. She was asked to be the godmother of a godlike entity.
10. Captain Janeway faced the largest Borg threat with the least resources. When the Borg first appeared in the TNG episode, Q Who, we knew the Federation was in for a hard time. Not until Voyager cruised through Borg space did we truly realize how under matched the Federation was in this assimilation match. Picard held his own, but he never faced more than one Borg Cube at a time. How about dozens? How about hundreds? Janeway repeatedly kicked Borg butt like a champion, making her the best captain.
11. Janeway's 75 year mission was completed in 7 years. Captain Kirk was given a five year mission, and completed the assignment in three (or four if you count The Animated Series). Well, technically, he was canceled before completing the mission. Regardless, Janeway was forced into a 75 year mission, a mission she took on without complaint though half of her Star Trek life of 150 years or so would be sacrificed in the fulfillment. Colonizing a planet or assimilating the crew into an alien culture (other than the Borg) were acceptable alternatives (when willing to ignore the Prime Directive). Instead, she engaged warp engines, did some exploring, fought the Kazon, fought the Borg, and . . . She basically fought a quadrant full of assholes. She did all of this in roughly 9% of the projected time. So either someone's math was horrendously off, or Janeway makes her own fate. I'm going with the latter since Old Janeway in the series finale, End Game, was willing to thumb her nose at Starfleet to hlp bring Voyager home.
Note: Some time has passed since posting a blog, and even more time slipped away since posting on Star Trek. After completing 11Reasons Why I Hate Star Trek: Voyager, I had promised a series on the Star Trek captains in which I was to explain why each one was the best. This is the second in the series. 11 Reasons Why CaptainSisko is the Best Star Trek Captain was the first for the simple reason his was the easiest to write. I had hoped to move on with original Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Archer, and then possibly Kirk V2.0. Yeah, right! Something, something, plans, something, something, mice. One of these days I will learn planning for the next writing project is an iffy ordeal. This period in my life is the busiest I've ever encountered. I'm slowly picking away at stories and blogs, I've returned to school, and I'm a stay-at-home-dad for two teens and a toddler of 20 months. Plus, I have assumed all the household duties, and I've go my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to blame for it. I'm swamped.
All of the remaining captains' blogs are in various stages of construction. Some have the reasons listed while others include more text. Janeway's happened to be the one I completed before the others, so she is awarded with immediate posting. Kirk and Picard can wait a bit longer.
I had also promised a fair treatment of Janeway, though in the same tongue in cheek vane of previous posts, despite the previous Voyager related blog posts. The list is by no means comprehensive, and reflects only one person's opinion. Please post your reasons why Captain Janeway is the best captain in the comments below.
And don't forget to check out The Power of Riker's Beard!