I recently watched the two-part Voyager episode “Equinox.” While “Equinox” started with a decent premise the execution left me frustrated. After finding out about the Ronald D. Moore connection to that episode I saw how he addressed his similar frustrations with Voyager on Battlestar Galactica.
I’ll be discussing “Equinox” and Battlestar Galactica so there will be spoilers.
“Equinox” starts out promising enough. Another Starfleet vessel was stranded in the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker. Equinox is smaller and more lightly armed than Voyager so has a rougher time. By the time Equinox encounters Voyager, Captain Ransom and his crew have completely broken the Prime Directive by figuring out how to use an alien species to supercharge the warp engines (the process involves killing the aliens). Janeway is less than thrilled when she finds out about Ransom’s secret project. After confrontations between Voyager, Equinox, and the aliens, Janeway makes peace with the alien and Ransom destroys Equinox while he is still on board.
The differences between the Voyager and Equinox crews are straight black and white. Janeway runs a tight ship following Starfleet regulations and protocol while Ransom has a more informal command style. Janeway’s “one crew, a Starfleet crew” decision is never really challenged and even the Equinox crew knows they broke bad.
Janeway and Chakotay have a falling out so serious that she relieves him of duty and the thought of mutiny crosses Chakotay’s mind. But at the end of the episode the Reset Button is pressed and they shrug off things as water under the bridge.
I mentioned that “Equinox” was a two part episode. The first part was a season finale that aired around the same time as the Deep Space Nine series finale. Ronald D. Moore came over to Voyager then from DS9 and “Equinox, Part II” was the first episode he was involved with. He had issues with how the episode played out and with Voyager in general.
Moore later addressed those issues with Battlestar Galactica and his own version of the USS Equinox in the form of the battlestar Pegasus.
The Pegasus episode of the original series was seriously reworked for the new show. In both versions Pegasus had been fighting alone against the Cylons with its commander, Cain, thinking Pegasus was the only surviving battlestar until it encountered Galactica. And that’s about all the similarity there is.
In Moore’s version Pegasus has parallels to Equinox. In both cases we have a ship and crew alone and fighting to survive in unfriendly space. Both commanding officers make the harsh choice to value the lives of their crew over other lives. But where Captain Ransom and his crew know they’ve crossed a line Admiral Cain and her crew for the most part don’t think they’ve gone too far. Military necessity justifies their actions in their view.
The clash between Cain and Adama isn’t as black and white as between Ransom and Janeway. Cain is right to point out that Adama’s command has a lot of problems (I don’t think anyone will argue that Galactica and the civilian fleet were running smoothly). On the other side Cain is a competent military leader who kept her ship intact and crew alive while being a thorn in the side of the Cylons. This is something Adama and Starbuck both respect even as they plot to kill Cain.
If you saw the miniseries you should remember that Adama almost abandoned the civilian fleet. Without his son and Roslin to act as counterweights to Tigh’s influence, Adama might have gone down a similar path as Cain (though probably not as extreme).
There are plenty of people who like to bash Voyager (and the show certainly had some issues). At least Ron Moore made some creative use of his beef.