“Caretaker” is the pilot episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager.
This series premiere was first broadcast as one double-length episode on 16 January 1995, as the first telecast of the fledgling UPN network.
It was later split into two parts for syndication, but released in the original one-episode format.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet and Maquis crew of the starship USS Voyager after they were stranded in the Delta Quadrant far from the rest of the Federation.
The premiere was seen by 21.3 million people in 1995. The debut of “Caretaker” marked the launch of United Paramount Network and also a follow on from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
A scrolling text introduces the Cardassian and Federation relationship with the Maquis rebels. The opening scene shows the Cardassians pursuing a smaller Maquis spacecraft ship that escapes into the Badlands, a volatile nebula. The Cardassian vessel is damaged by a plasma storm and the Maquis ship is caught in a displacement wave.
On Earth, Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation starship USS Voyager recruits Tom Paris, disgraced former Star Fleet officer and now a captured Maquis member, to help find the missing Maquis spacecraft. Janeway is searching for Tuvok, her security officer who was a spy aboard the Maquis ship. Departing Deep Space Nine, Voyager journeys to the Badlands, where it is scanned by a “coherent tetryon beam” before a displacement wave hits and wreaks havoc on the ship.
The crew recovers and find themselves in the Delta Quadrant, over 70,000 light years from Federation space. Fatalities include Voyager’s second-in-command, helm officer, chief engineer, and medical staff. The Emergency Medical Hologram is activated to treat the injured. Before determining their bearings, the crew is transported to a holographic simulation aboard a nearby array controlled by a being known as the Caretaker. Seeing through the simulation, the Voyager crew discover the unconscious Maquis crew undergoing strange medical experiments. The Voyager crew are subjected to the same experiments. Later, both crews awaken on their own vessels and find each are missing one crew member: Harry Kim from Voyager, and the Maquis’ B’Elanna Torres. Attempts to negotiate with the Caretaker are fruitless as he insists there is “no time”. Janeway offers to work with Maquis leader Chakotay, a former Star Fleet officer, to find missing crew and return to the Alpha Quadrant.
The two ships follow energy pulses sent from the array to a nearby planet. En route, they encounter Neelix, a space trader eager to assist them in exchange for water and rescuing his companion, the Ocampa Kes, from the violent Kazon that inhabit the planet’s surface. Kes’ people live in a subterranean complex, cared for by the Caretaker who supplies them with energy and other essentials. The only expectation is that they tend to any beings sent to them, each suffering an incurable disease. As the crews determine how to rescue Kim and Torres, the Caretaker realigns the array and fires more frequent energy bursts. Vulcan security chief Tuvok deduces that the Caretaker is dying and is ensuring the Ocampa are kept safe by sealing the underground complex, though eventually their resources will be depleted. With time running short, a combined away team penetrates the shields protecting the complex and rescues Kim and Torres.
The crews again ask the Caretaker to return them to the Alpha Quadrant. He reveals that he was part of an ancient alien race whose technology accidentally destroyed the Ocampan planet’s atmosphere, leaving it lifeless. In recompense, he and another of his race have cared for the Ocampa ever since. His companion having long moved on, he experiments on species from distant galactic sectors hoping to find a compatible match so that he could reproduce and pass the responsibility to his offspring. Nearing death, the Caretaker initiates the array’s self-destruct sequence to prevent the technology from falling to the Kazon. As the Caretaker dies, the ships are attacked by a Kazon fleet. Janeway and Chakotay coordinate a counterattack to protect the array; Chakotay sacrifices his vessel to destroy a Kazon ship, but the damaged array disables the self-destruct sequence. Janeway opts to respect the Caretaker’s wishes and orders the array destroyed, despite it being their only chance at returning home. With the array destroyed, the Kazon disengage. Their leader informs Janeway she has made an enemy.
As Voyager begins a 75-year journey back to the Alpha Quadrant, Janeway integrates the Maquis into the Starfleet crew, with Chakotay as her second-in-command. Janeway re-instates Paris as a Starfleet officer holding the rank of Lieutenant and assigns him as helmsman. Neelix and Kes join the crew as guides.
Star Trek TV Series
You can find a full index of Star Trek TV series here.
Star Trek TV Series, Films, and Documentaries
You can find a full index of all Star Trek TV series, films, documentaries here.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Winrich Kolbe.
- Writer(s): Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Heri Taylor.
- Release Date: 16 January 1995.
- Running Time: 90 minutes (as originally aired) and 2x 45 minutes (syndication).
- Country: US.
- Language: English.