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Captain Janeway's Fiercest Star Trek Moments

Before she was Red on "Orange Is the New Black," Kate Mulgrew was the unflappable Kathryn Janeway, the captain for an entire generation of viewers who grew up watching "Star Trek" in the 1990s. 

Janeway led a cast of wayward souls stranded some 75,000 light years from home, and she commanded with a combination of poise, strength, and determination. She showed us that a person could be a strong, capable leader while also being graceful and feminine, even as society was telling us otherwise. She inspired countless young adults to become today's teachers, scientists, and leaders, and fans were delighted to hear she'd be making her long-awaited return in "Star Trek: Prodigy,"  streaming on Paramount+.

For seven years Captain Janeway remained that steadfast leader; steely-eyed but compassionate, never afraid to go toe-to-toe with the worst the Delta Quadrant had to offer, from the Hirogen to the Borg, and usually with a strong cup of coffee in hand. She held true to her most noble ideals, standing up for those who needed a helping hand, and never backed down from a fight. Now we're counting down her fiercest moments in the captain's chair; moments she outsmarted, outmaneuvered, and outmatched her opponents with guile, grit, and sheer strength of will ... and usually with a snappy one-liner.

Janeway refuses death (Coda)

On her way back to the ship in a shuttle with Chakotay, Janeway and her first officer experience what appears to be a time loop: they are attacked by the Vidiians, attempt to contact Voyager — but are destroyed — before being right back in the shuttle on the way back to the ship. After a few go-rounds, though, Janeway realizes something is amiss. There is no time loop — she has apparently died in the Vidiian attack but is having trouble 'letting go' of her life, seemingly unwilling to cross over into that which lies beyond. Or so a being claiming to be her dead father tells her.

Her "father" insists that ghosts are real, the afterlife exists, and if she'll follow him, they can be at peace together. But Janeway isn't convinced, and most of "Coda" finds the Captain roaming the halls of the ship attempting to make contact with the grieving crew, to no avail.

In a final confrontation with her "father" after she gets flashes of the real world, Janeway puts it all together: she isn't dead, she's at the mercy of an alien parasite. This "limbo" she seems to be experiencing is just an illusion to convince her to go with the entity so he can feed off of her life energy. But the parasite needs her to go willingly, and Janeway refuses. Before she's revived by the doctor, Janeway fiercely tells the being "Go back to Hell, coward!"

The woman without fear (The Thaw)

In "The Thaw" Janeway gets a distress signal from a nearby planet, and she — like all good "Star Trek" captains — goes to investigate. What she finds is a group of survivors of an ecological disaster, hooked up to a virtual reality program created to keep them alive for a set period of time. That time, however, has long expired, and it seems the program is holding them hostage. The villain is Michael McKean as the sentient program — who just so happens to be the personification of their fear in the form of a circus clown — who will cease to exist if the survivors are removed from the program.

An underrated episode mostly due to its silly visuals, a PG threat, and a somewhat overused premise, but in some ways it's reminiscent of an episode of classic "Twilight Zone." To the show's credit, the "everything is a simulation" gimmick was more novel when it aired in 1995, and the performances work for the story, though admittedly the dramatic tension might have played better with some more graphic visuals to make the danger feel more real.

In the end, Janeway volunteers to take the hostages place, and the clown accepts. But thanks to some computer trickery, she wins the day, effectively killing the villainous sentient computer program. Before the clown dissolves away into nothing, she makes sure to remind him: "Fear only exists for one purpose ... to be conquered." 

Janeway holds to her principles (The Void)

The episode may begin in the mess hall with Seven of Nine making dinner, chef's hat and all, but the story really starts when Voyager is pulled into a subspace anomaly (a big giant space thing, don't worry about it). Within the anomaly there is nothing; no gases, stellar bodies, or matter of any kind. But just as they enter they're attacked by hostile alien ships. These marauders use their transporters to steal vital supplies: food stores, energy reserves, and computers. This is "The Void," a closed structure that traps nearby ships, who cannot leave, and those inside fight for survival.  

As a diplomat, Janeway manages to form a small alliance — a mini-Federation, if you will — with friendly vessels within the anomaly. Together they share supplies, help newly incoming victims of the anomaly, and defend each other against hostile marauders. They also work together to find a way to leave the anomaly. 

Unfortunately, not every member of this mini-Federation shares her idealistic outlook. When one of them says he has a piece of equipment they thought was unattainable, Janeway discovers he destroyed an entire ship and its crew to get it. Even though the equipment will help them leave the anomaly, Janeway orders its removal, and kicks the alien out of their Federation. Using it, she says, would make them party to murder, and moreover, "It's a violation of everything this alliance stands for!"

Janeway gives the cold shoulder (Displaced)

In "Displaced," the Voyager crew begin mysteriously disappearing, only to be replaced — one by one — by unwitting Nyrians, sent supposedly against their will to Voyager from a planet they cannot identify on any maps. The Nyrians who arrive seem just as confused as Janeway and her crew, claiming to know nothing of this phenomenon. Some Nyrian scientists even help Voyager to determine the reason for their people swapping places.  

As you can imagine, these supposed lost souls turn out to be not so innocent, and before Janeway knows it, there are more Nyrians aboard Voyager than crew members. This is the Nyrians' way of hostile takeover, as Janeway finds out after she's transported away, arriving on a Nyrian colony ship. There they find a variety of habitats, each perfectly designed by the Nyrians to be unique biospheres that hold prisoners of alien ships they've swapped places with. 

After deciphering their scheme and finding a way to move between the habitats, Janeway uses their technology against them, transporting the Nyrian leaders — who are sensitive to the cold — to a frozen tundra habitat intended for a group of ice dwellers. There, at phaser-point, Janeway snidely threatens to leave them there to die if they don't let her crew leave. Unfortunately, the writers didn't give her a one-liner here, but leaving the Nyrians to freeze to death in the icy wasteland would have been ... cold-blooded.

Janeway outsmarts the law (Counterpoint)

Finding themselves in a region of space that outlaws telepaths — and having a few of their own aboard Voyager — Janeway helps hide a group of mind-reading refugees so they can escape the reach of the Devore, the imperialistic race who rule the area. 

Unexpectedly, a charming Devore captain named Kashyk comes aboard, claiming he's defecting. Janeway is suspicious but he seems sincere, even remorseful of his past as a telepath hunter. They strike an unlikely friendship as Kashyk helps them evade Devore patrols, and a budding romance even develops between the two captains. He double-crosses her when she reveals the location of the refugees, though, and gloats over it. But we know she's gotten the better of him from her snide confidence, and when she reveals her triple bluff, she doesn't hide her pleasure. It's an absolute joy to watch her stand victorious and calm as he chews his lip and accepts his defeat. He's not angry; this was gamesmanship, pure and simple. He played and he lost, and he respects her for it.

In place of a snappy one-liner, Janeway makes an honest and genuine appeal to Kashyk's understanding: No matter his agenda, her offer to extend a hand in friendship was sincere (and seemingly her feelings for him as well). If he had kept his part of the bargain, she would have kept hers and taken him with them. 

Never put Janeway in a corner (Think Tank)

Notable for Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" appearing as the episode's antagonist, "Think Tank" sees the crew hunted by an alien race called the Hazari, and Voyager seems unable to escape them. Alexander is Kurros, part of a group of high-minded intellects that travels the quadrant offering their services as problem solvers in exchange for unique items of interest. In this case, they want Seven of Nine to join their group, and if she does, they'll help Janeway solve the "Hazari Paradox."

Of course, things are not quite as straightforward as they seem, and despite Kurros' attempts at hiding his involvement, Janeway uncovers his deceit: he hired the Hazari to hunt Voyager down so they'd be forced to turn over Seven of Nine. Janeway shrewdly makes an offer to the Hazari: Kurros has betrayed them too, and if they can work together, they might turn the tables.  

Janeway once again executes a brilliant plan, using Seven to infiltrate their ship and confuse their computer systems at a critical moment. Suddenly unable to defend themselves, Kurros and his compatriots are at the mercy of the bloodthirsty Hazari. With his ship under attack, Kurros all but begs Seven and Janeway to reconsider their plan. As his vessel is pummeled by Hazari weapons, Janeway leaves him to his fate and tells him "I'm sure you'll find a solution, just give it some ... thought."

Russian roulette with the Borg (Scorpion, Pt. 2)

The first big Borg episode of the series, "Scorpion" opens with Voyager approaching the enemy's territory. Delighted to find a corridor right through their space that's devoid of Borg cubes, they're disheartened when they discover why: An even scarier alien race — dubbed Species 8472 — has emerged from another dimension and is destroying the Borg. This gives Janeway an idea, but first officer Chakotay angrily insists they shouldn't get involved. The captain wants to use it to their advantage, and against Chakotay's wishes, Janeway takes a risky trip to a cube to strike a deal that will give the Borg technology to defeat Species 8472 in exchange for safe passage through their space. 

After an attack by 8472, Janeway returns with the Borg drone that will eventually become Seven of Nine, who is now running the Borg end of the agreement.  Despite the friction with her first officer, Chakotay is her ace in the hole, and the linchpin of her plan to outsmart the collective. If things go awry, Chakotay will use his neural link (that he retained from the episode "Unity") to sever the connection between the still fully Borg Seven of Nine and the collective.

When Seven betrays them, taking them into the path of Species 8472, Janeway gives the code word, and sets her plan in motion: "Bridge to Chakotay: Scorpion." 

Janeway self destructs (Deadlock)

Raise your shields, things are about to get very weird. In  "Deadlock," Ensign Wildman is in labor when Voyager encounters a subspace divergence field. This field creates a duplicate of the ship and its crew — although they don't know that at first. The real problem is that both ships are running off the same power source, like Siamese twins linked at the heart, and one Voyager becomes severely damaged when their attempt to break free of the field backfires. The ship's power goes down, and Wildman's baby dies as a result.

After discovering the real problem, they find a way to communicate with the duplicate Voyager, and they work in tandem to fix it. Unfortunately, a poorly timed attack by the Vidiians fouls up an already messy situation, tragically killing Ensign Kim in the process. The two ships can't both survive the attack, and the Captains argue over who should make the sacrifice to destroy the Vidiians and allow the other to escape. Thanks to a portal between the ships that's discovered on Deck 15, duplicate Janeway sends the totally alive duplicate Ensign Kim and baby Wildman to the other ship so the show doesn't lose a cast member, and sets Voyager to self-destruct. The Vidiians beam onto the bridge and duplicate Janeway turns to greet them as the countdown hits zero and the ship self-destructs.

"Welcome to the bridge."

Janeway unhinged (Scientific Method)

In the fourth season entry "Scientific Method," a group of invisible alien scientists perform clandestine experiments on the crew of the U.S.S. Voyager, who are completely unaware of the efforts to meddle with their DNA and are forced to endure grueling genetic procedures. Thanks to Seven of Nine's Borg implants, however, the experiments are discovered, and with the help of the Doctor, they begin to turn the tables.  

But the alien's ability to halt them in their tracks makes fighting back difficult. Janeway discovers that she's been experimented on as well — her dopamine levels artificially increased, deprived of sleep, to see how she'd react to increased stress. The answer is not a good one: Janeway goes off the deep end, becoming unhinged and "reckless" as Tuvok calls it, piloting the ship into the heart of a nearby star in an effort to get the aliens to leave.

As the alien ships attacked to Voyager's hull begin to break up, the lead scientist asks her what she is attempting to do with this irrational behavior. Janeway of course, has the perfect comeback — this is exactly what they wanted by pushing her to her mental limit. As the ship buckles under the stress of the star's corona, she states without an ounce of irony, "This is the culmination of your work, and guess what? You're going to be right here to collect the final data."

Janeway unleashed (Equinox, Pt. 2)

When Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant they thought it would be nearly 75 years before they saw another Starfleet vessel. All that changed, though, when they received a distress call from the U.S.S. Equinox, under attack by inter-dimensional creatures and just 3.2 light years away. When Voyager arrive the Equinox is without shields and losing life support. Janeway comes to their rescue, and after fighting off the alien attackers, has a heartfelt reunion with their Federation friends.

The Equinox's Captain Ransom claims he has no idea who the aliens were or why they attacked, but as Voyager investigates it becomes clear that something more is at play. Seven of Nine and the Doctor discover the body of one of the aliens in the Equinox's engineering section, and realize that Ransom and his crew have been killing these life forms and using the energy from their corpses to power their ship. Janeway is appalled at this violation of Federation principle, but before she can stop him Ransom kidnaps Seven of Nine, reprograms the Doctor, and escapes, leaving Equinox crewman Noah Lessing stranded on Voyager.

Janeway becomes obsessed with hunting Ransom down, and interrogates Lessing. Nearly violating her own principals, Janeway threatens to open a portal and let the aliens kill him right there if he doesn't give reveal Ransom's whereabouts. When he tells her to "go to hell," she leaves the room to open the portal and tells him, "We all make our own hell, Mr. Lessing."

Janeway vs Borg Queen, round 1 (Dark Frontier)

 "Dark Frontier" saw the return of the Borg Queen, her first appearance on Voyager. Here, Janeway hatches a daring plan to raid a Borg ship and steal its transwarp engines to shave decades off their trip home. But she has concerns about Seven of Nine, the ex-drone, going back aboard Borg a vessel for the first time since being de-assimilated.  

Her concerns are well-founded, but not just for reasons of trauma. The Queen has become aware of Janeway's plan, and makes a secret bargain with Seven: if she rejoins the Borg collective, the Queen will spare Voyager. Seven is unique as a reclaimed Borg drone, and the Queen wants that uniqueness. When Janeway puts her plan into motion and goes aboard a Borg sphere, Seven tells her she's staying behind. And in a line that birthed a veritable library of slash fiction, Janeway cries out to Seven, "I'm not leaving without you!" 

In the climax of the double-length feature, Janeway boldly confronts the Queen, phaser rifle in hand, drones swarming all around her. It's a gutsy move, but she knows what she's doing, and she trusts Seven of Nine. When Seven betrays the Queen and helps her captain escape, it's Seven who gets the action hero one-liner. After telling Janeway the weak spot to target her phaser — which she knows because she's reconnected to the hive mind — Seven shoots a dirty look at the Queen and says, "Our thoughts are one."

Janeway plays chicken (The Haunting Of Deck 12)

Told as a kind of campfire story by Neelix to entertain children while the power is down, this episode begins with Voyager traveling through a nebula and picking up an unintended stowaway: An energy-based life-form that infiltrates the ship and begins causing malfunctions. 

There are some genuinely eerie sequences here, as Janeway's coffee materializes without a cup, and the ship goes into warp on its own. These malfunctions could have been played for laughs, but as the ship seems to have a mind of its own, the tone is disturbing, not light-hearted. The tension ratchets up when the problems turn more dangerous, nearly killing members of the crew. They realize that the energy being is trapped in the ship's systems and is attempting to alter the environment to make the ship more like the nebula it came from. Before long, the entity has taken over most of Voyager.

It's then that the entity begins to attempt communication with Janeway, demanding she use her access codes to unlock navigation so it can take Voyager back to the nebula. Janeway agrees to take the ship back, but only if control of the ship is returned to her. As the entity cuts off her oxygen, Janeway begins to suffocate ... but refuses to relent. Playing chicken with the energy being, she is resolute not to give in, insisting that if the entity won't cooperate, "we'll die here together!"

Killing Giant Germs (Macrocosm)

"Macrocosm" sees Janeway and Neelix returning from a trading mission to find the crew comatose, main power offline, and the Doctor barricaded in sick bay. A virus has invaded Voyager, and owing to its unique alien structure has been growing at such a rapid rate that they are now nearly human-sized. The needle-like protrusions they use to puncture cell membranes at the microscopic level are now used to impale their victims at the macroscopic level. After being separated from Neelix, and with the Doctor confined, it's up to Janeway — with little more than a phaser and a knife — to stop the giant-sized virus, regain control of the ship, and revive the crew. 

The original concept for this episode came from writer Brannon Braga, who challenged himself to write an episode with no dialogue. Unfortunately the need to explain to the viewer what was happening meant a few exposition-heavy scenes, but the episode is still a great thriller, 

Ultimately what we end up getting is part "Alien," part "Rambo," with Janeway as the lone hero aboard an empty ship and out for blood against a horde of deadly human-sized microbes. Captain Janeway is at her best here in action hero mode — in the thrilling climax she manages to lure the creatures into a holodeck simulation, and after killing one last macro-virus with a thrust of her knife, she detonates an antigen bomb and saves the ship.

Janeway vs Borg Queen, Round 2 (Unimatrix Zero, Pt 2)

Seven of Nine may have started out as an excuse to add some sex appeal to the series, but over the course of her time on the show, the writers developed her into one of the most interesting, nuanced characters in the franchise. Janeway finally had not just a friendly foil of her equal, but someone to mentor as well. "Unimatrix Zero" showcases this character growth for the Janeway/Seven relationship perfectly.  

As the episode opens, Seven discovers a state of collective unconscious where Borg drones go when they're offline. In this dream realm they regain their individuality, and they've apparently been plotting a Borg rebellion. Unfortunately, drones can't remember this realm, or their revolutionary plans, once reactivated. It's hard not to respect this two-parter for that ambitious high concept alone, but the Janeway/Seven relationship, along with the return of the Borg Queen — out for vengeance against Seven, Voyager, and the rebel drones — makes it one of the show's best. Great performances by that triumvirate provides the platform for one of Janeway's best moments. In a bid to infiltrate a Borg cube to rescue Seven and help the Borg rebels, Janeway allows herself to be assimilated (if only temporarily). 

In the end, the Queen offers the captain a compromise, which Janeway refuses. When her plan comes to fruition and she stands victorious, Janeway fiercely proclaims, "I don't compromise with the Borg."

Janeway, Garbage Man (Night)

The bulk of this episode revolves around Janeway, in a depressive state, doing some soul-searching. She reflects on the decision she made that got them stranded in the Delta Quadrant, and the burden of responsibility she carries to get her ship and crew home. Janeway's self-reflection is an interesting choice, and it serves the episode well, showing the heavy toll that the years stranded in the Delta Quadrant have taken on the captain. 

But "Night" is ultimately a social message episode about pollution and the refugee crises created by the destruction of the environment. Janeway and Voyager discover of a group of alien refugees created by the Malon, who use a spatial vortex to dump toxic waste into this remote region of space the aliens call home. This crisis shocks Janeway out of her depression as she stands up for the space refugees, who plead for her help.

As a measure of atonement, Janeway orders her crew to leave her behind in a shuttle to fight off the Malon. This will save the refugees and allow Voyager the time to escape through the vortex, out of this region of space and 2500 light years closer to Earth. One by one, the senior officers all — even knowing the long odds of success — refuse to leave, choosing to face the crisis together. Before firing the torpedoes that destroy the trash-dumping Malons, she steely states, "time to take out the garbage."

Janeway's suicide run (Year of Hell, Pt 2)

Foreshadowed in the third season episode "Before and After" in which Kes traveled into the future and saw Voyager badly damaged by the Krenim — killing the Captain and blinding Tuvok — "Year of Hell" sees Janeway confront a version of that terrifying reality. 

In this fourth season two-parter, an obsessed alien scientist named Annorax (played by Kurtwood Smith of "That '70s Show") has created a ship displaced from time, armed with a weapon of his own design that can erase objects, ships, and entire planets from history, altering the timeline. His hope is to change history in an attempt to restore the life of his dead wife. Voyager has managed to stay one step ahead of Annorax, but the Krenim have had them on the run for over a year. Janeway manages to form an alliance with various neighboring species who have also been terrorized by Annorax, and together they attack the Krenim timeship with newly designed "temporal shields." But the fight does not go well.

At the climax of the battle, a bruised and bloodied Janeway crawls around falling debris to take the Captain's chair one last time. As the ship rocks from weapons fire, Janeway sets a collision course, in one final, desperate act. She gives the order to ram Annorax's timeship, believing that its destruction could reset the timeline to before they met. As she hurtles towards Annorax, she gives the audience her best Schwarzenegger-style pun: "Time's up."

Final fight with the Borg Queen (Endgame)

"Endgame" is the time travel swan song, the culmination of nearly a decade of stories. No, we're not talking about the MCU epic, but about the "Star Trek: Voyager" series finale. As it turns out, it took Voyager more than 20 years to reach home, and there were many casualties along the way. Ten years after returning to Earth, an older Admiral Janeway is unsatisfied with how history played out when she discovers a way to change the outcome.

The admiral plans to travel back in time, and with the help of her younger self and the crew of the Voyager in the past, use the Borg uni-complex — a network of trans-dimensional portals — to get Voyager home more than 15 years sooner. Things go awry, however, when the younger Janeway sees the opportunity to instead destroy the uni-complex and deal a crippling blow to the Borg.

But the younger and older Janeways together hatch a new plan to destroy the complex and get home at the same time. Armed with an invasive computer program, the Admiral goes aboard a Borg vessel where she has it out with the Queen once and for all. Thinking she's victorious, the Queen sinks her assimilation tubules into the older Janeway, dooming her. But that's what seals the Queen's fate, as the program was hidden within Janeway's blood. As the virus quickly spreads and destroys the complex, Janeway tells the Queen, "Must be something you assimilated."