|Star Trek: Voyager episode|
|Directed by||David Livingston|
|Featured music||David Bell|
|Original air date||April 30, 1997|
On the planet where Voyager's crew had previously been marooned, Professor Gegen and his assistant Veer, two paleontologists of a space-faring saurian species known as the Voth, discover the skeletal remains of a human, most likely Lt. Hogan. They are fascinated by the similarity of its genome to their own species, and Gegen suggests that this supports the highly controversial Distant Origin theory, that the Voth had originated on a far-distant planet instead of the current area of space from which they rule their empire. Proof of the theory has been sought by other Voth scientists, but the heretical theory has often led to their exile.
To confirm their proof, Gegen and Veer track down the origin of the skeleton, learning of Voyager's presence in the Delta Quadrant. They locate the ship and transport aboard while cloaked, observing the mostly human crew in the setting. Voyager's sensors detect their presence, and the crew reveals the two Voth. Veer responds instinctively by releasing sedative-tipped needles that strike Chakotay; Gegen grabs the human and transports him aboard his ship, fleeing from Voyager. The Doctor examines Veer and identifies the similar genetic structure; he and Captain Janeway use simulations to determine that the Voths descended from a species of dinosaur known as the hadrosaurs, probably of genus Parasaurolophus.
Gegen wakes Chakotay, and explains the situation, requesting Chakotay accompany him when he presents his evidence to the Voth elders; meanwhile, Voyager is captured by the Voth. Gegen is put on trial for heresy, and it soon becomes clear that he has been pre-judged guilty and the "trial" is only an opportunity for him to recant and reduce his punishment. Veer, recovered from Voyager, is coerced to act as a witness against Gegen by Minister Odala. Chakotay attempts to argue for Gegen, noting that the Voth theory of origins has changed so much to fit what the Voth wish to believe and not reality. Odala rejects this, sentencing Gegen to a prison colony unless he recants. When he still refuses, she then orders Voyager destroyed and its entire crew, the evidence for his theory, also sent to the prison colony. Gegen, unwilling to see them destroyed, realizes he has no choice but to recant.
Odala assigns Gegen a new job, and orders Voyager to leave Voth space forever. Before departing, Chakotay gives Gegen a globe of the Earth, which Gegen acknowledges that someday, the Voth will accept as their home world.
Writer Brannon Braga saw "Distant Origin" as being a metaphor for the relationship between Galileo Galilei and the Catholic Church. He described it as "the perfect episode" because it included not only that metaphor, but also a "what-if" science fiction premise and a unique structure as the episode follows the Voth as they investigate the humans.
The Voth returned in Star Trek Online as part of the "Season Eight" expansion. The development team had previously hoped to introduce the species, but that idea was scrapped. As part of their redesign, they were changed from purely scientists as seen in the episode to scientifically advanced soldiers. A variety of variants on the Voth were created that hadn't been seen in "Distant Origin", such as those in powered armour as well as raptors - an enemy type far more similar to typical dinosaurs.
Reception and home media release
Although Michael Piller had left the production team on Voyager at the beginning of the fourth season to work on Star Trek: Insurrection, he described "Distant Origin" as the best episode of the series so far.
When Dreamwatch magazine reviewed the episode for the VHS release, it rated it as seven out of ten, calling it a "welcome breath of fresh air" but felt that the alien characters were initially played more for comedy value than they should have been. It added that since the entertainment industry was involved in the McCarthyism of the 1950s, that "anything suggesting that intellectual freedom should be cherished is a good thing."
- "Brannon Braga Reflects on Distant Origin". Star Trek Monthly. 1 (28): 17. June 1997.
- Mattson, Jeremy (October 18, 2013). "Guest Blog: Designing The Voth". StarTrek.com. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
- "Taylor Made". Dreamwatch (39): 36–39. November 1997.
- "TV Tie-ins". Dreamwatch (40): 75. December 1997.
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