the story: The crew encounters a generational Klingon ship.
what it's all about: Now, technically, the story is about, well, a prophecy (there would be little reason to call the episode that otherwise), and while that's certainly central to the story, seemingly the whole point...there's a layer of cleverness to it that speaks to the plight of the crew, the premise of the series, too.
And that's why I consider it first and foremost an encounter with a generational ship.
Because isn't that the theoretical fate of the crew? If they don't find a shortcut? In the final episode ("Endgame"), we in fact encounter an alternate future where Miral (more on her later) and Sabrina (the daughter of Naomi Wildman, who herself has already long represented the possibility) represent another generation of the crew. And so to encounter a ship with a generational crew must be considered a fairly deliberate plot device on the part of the producers, something that harkens back to the wide range of stories in previous seasons about the nature of the series, previously featured most heavily in all the potential shortcuts, as well as potential new homes, should the crew ever decide to abandon its journey. Neelix, in "Homestead," ends up taking that option, and "Prophecy" predicts that, too.
So that's whole level on which the episode works exceptionally. There's also Miral. Miral is the future daughter of Torres and Paris. Previously, in "Lineage," we saw Torres tormented by the idea of her, but in "Prophecy" she has a chance to welcome the possibilities. And ironically, it has everything to do with Klingons. Now, you can actually enjoy "Prophecy" purely as a Klingon episode, and unlike most Torres episodes, you don't have to be filled with angst about it (such as "Barge of the Dead," "Day of Honor"). That in itself is a remarkable accomplishment, just another of the many things Voyager did that few fans would ever have imagined possible, a true testament to the approach the series stuck to despite massive backlash among the more intransigent.
And as a final spotlight for Torres, it's wonderfully understated in its poetic impact. It might seem strange, to give such a famously conflicted character such a personal story that really belongs to someone else, and yet...that's what makes it work so well.
- franchise - Fans of Klingons will enjoy this unexpected new cultural meditation.
- series - Wonderfully evocative of the premise.
- character - A fitting final spotlight for B'Elanna Torres.
essential- Sometimes perfection seems incomplete. You just really kind of wish it had been one final existential crisis for her.