Stаr Trek: Voyаɡer’s Sаlаmаnder Episode Is Better Tһаn You Tһink

Often maligned for its salamanders, Voyager’s season 2 episode “Threshold” hides a story about what it means to be important in an infinite universe.



  • “Threshold” may be maligned for its wacky salamander twist, but it’s actually a good Star Trek: Voyager episode before that. It explores themes of legacy and existence within the infinite.
  • The concept of turning into salamanders creates plot holes, but it’s a small price to pay for utilizing warp 10 technology to get back home.
  • Despite its flaws, “Threshold” is beloved by some fans for its bizarre nature, and it has left a lasting legacy as “the one with the salamanders.”

One of Star Trek‘s most maligned episodes is Star Trek: Voyager season 2, episode 15, “Threshold”, but it’s actually better than its reputation would suggest. “Threshold”‘s claim to fame is its memorable ending, in which Lt. Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) kidnaps Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and takes her on a Warp 10 journey similar to his own. Lt. Tuvok (Tim Russ) and Ensign Harry Kim (Garret Wang) trace Paris’ stolen shuttle to a planet and discover that Paris and Janeway have inexplicably transformed into creatures resembling salamanders, with a small brood of salamander babies.

It’s a deeply silly concept that creates plot holes, sure. An easy ticket to the Alpha Quadrant is right there, if the crew of the USS Voyager would let themselves be turned into amphibians, since Captain Janeway and Paris are both their normal human selves once they’re back on board. Temporary scales are a small price to pay for utilizing warp 10 technology to get back home, after all. The hatchlings — ostensibly Paris and Janeway’s offspring — were left behind to fend for themselves since they’re never seen again. Consider, however, the fact these issues result directly from the wacky salamander ending and don’t take into account the rest of the episode.

Star Trek: Voyager’s Season 2 Episode “Threshold” is Great Until the End

Just ignore the salamanders.

Before the bizarre salamander twist in the final act, “Threshold” is actually a good Star Trek: Voyager episode. Lieutenant Tom Paris longs to be remembered for something greater than his current criminal reputation, and he finds it in the opportunity to build and pilot a vessel that crosses the warp 10 threshold. Paris is gutted when a variance in the test run puts Harry Kim in the driver’s seat, and Tom’s plea to Captain Janeway to let him pilot the modified shuttle is aching and palpable. Paris needs to put his mark on history, and believes doing this might make him worthy in his estranged father’s eyes. It would make his life matter.

“Threshold” is, in fact, a story about what ultimately matters. During Paris’ flight, warp 10 places him simultaneously everywhere, with space folding infinitely around him until it ceases making sense. Paris’ desperate need to correct a seemingly failed life by doing something important falls away as he transcends normal spacetime. Living in an ordinary present, Tom explains, seems dull when compared to the euphoria of an infinite existence, and the experience changes him fundamentally. This very Star Trek story asks if making a legacy and mundane details matter when faced with something greater than oneself. It asks how and why profound experiences really change people.

Star Trek: Voyager’s Salamander Episode Could Have Been A Series Best

Salamanders aside, “Threshold” could have been one of Star Trek: Voyager‘s best episodes. At its center, “Threshold would have tackled the question of existence within the infinite, and what happens to a mind after it’s been exposed to something otherwise incomprehensible. Writer Brannon Braga posits the evolution experienced after achieving warp 10 might look like a regression, not unlike in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but the elements explaining that conceit were removed from the script. If the episode stuck with its first theme instead of shifting to body horror, it might have been remembered as a Star Trek episode that explores the transcendent. Instead, Tom Paris turns into a salamander.

“Threshold” is the Star Trek: Voyager episode known as “the one with the salamanders,” like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is remembered as “the one with the whales.”

And yet, “Threshold” is still beloved by some fans for just how bizarre it is, even for Star Trek: Voyager, a show willing to take swings at some really out there ideas. YouTuber Gazelle Automations honors “Threshold” as a Star Trek: The Animated Series-style cartoon. The warp 10 salamanders are part of a lovingly crafted USS Voyager display in Star Trek: Lower Decks. New Star Trek fans seem to know about the salamander episode, even if they know nothing else about it. The legacy of “Threshold” actually satisfies the question in its first act: Tom Paris does make his mark on history. He just happens to be a salamander when he does.

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