Star Trek: Voyager had built-in internal conflict set up
A the end of the pilot of Star Trek: Voyager, a solid, internal conflict had been established as the ship was hurled seventy years into the Delta Quadrant. Captain Janeway and her crew were tasked with tracking down a Maquis ship and locating Lt. Tuvok. The Maquis were resistance fighters introduced on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as enemies of the Federation. When the Maquis and Starfleet had to combine forces, it was a set-up for major problems between them. But that’s not the route the series took.
According to Michael Piller, who was quoted in The Fifty-Year Mission The Next 25 Years by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross, the studio felt that Voyager needed to be a brighter, happier show. They felt that Deep Space Nine’s grittiness had cost the show viewers. So it was decided that the inherent conflict between the Maquis and Starfleet personnel would not be explored. And Ronald D. Moore, the co-executive producer of Voyager, said that “when the Maquis put on those Starfleet uniforms at the end of the pilot, the show was dead.”
Even though Voyager didn’t die, it missed an opportunity
Moore said the Maquis had been created on Deep Space Nine so they could appear on Voyager. It would pit Starfleet officers against guerilla warriors who were forced to live and work together for one cause. But the studio’s decision tied their hands, and the internal conflict was dropped, an action Moore calls “a huge mistake.”
"“It should have been these two sides that were forced to work together that still don’t like each other and still are gunning for each other, wondering who’s going to come out on top. Who’s going to betray who?"
When Captain Janeway formed an alliance with the Borg to defeat Species 4872, there was no denying the two sides didn’t trust one another. The Borg would always be Starfleet’s enemy. The joining of forces was simply a means to an end, and while the union of Starfleet and Maquis didn’t have to be that volatile, the animosity between the two should have been addressed.
Instead, the only real acknowledgment of the issues between the Maquis and the Voyager crew was the last episode of the first season, “Learning Curve.” Lt. Tuvok has to train four Maquis members who aren’t really interested in becoming full Starfleet. While there was friction between the Vulcan and the Maquis, by the end of the episode, it had been resolved. As Moore said, the studio decided to play it safe.
Star Trek: Voyager is still a great series with standout episodes and characters, but the missed opportunity does make one wonder what could have been had the studio allowed the producers to take the road that wasn’t quite so safe.