(written from a Production point of view)
Tuvok conducts a training session for Maquis personnel. Meanwhile, Voyager's bio-neural gel packs are mysteriously failing. (Season finale)
Captain Janeway is in the midst of a Gothic holonovel, dressed in Victorian clothing, when suddenly one of the characters abruptly disappears. She soon learns that there has been a disruption of power to one of the energy grids.
Approaching an open access panel on Deck 6, Tuvok discovers Crewman Dalby emerging from the panel. Tuvok asks him what he is doing, to which Dalby cheerfully replies that he was in the area, noticed a malfunctioning bio-neural gel pack, and replaced it. Tuvok informs Dalby that Starfleet vessels operate under a protocol. Dalby, somewhat annoyed, defends his actions as justifiably the Maquis way, while Tuvok presses him on the inappropriateness of his actions, reminding him that he is no longer on a Maquis ship. Finally, Dalby gets into Tuvok's face, asking him to leave him alone. Tuvok is left in the corridor, perplexed at Dalby's reaction.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 48846.5. Ordinarily, the loss of a gel pack would be a minor inconvenience. But here in the Delta Quadrant, it's a reminder of the precarious nature of our journey."
In her ready room, Janeway discusses the malfunctioning gel pack with Chakotay and Tuvok, expressing her concerns about the limited number of gel packs that run critical systems on the ship and which cannot be replicated. Chakotay suggests that in the meantime they explore the possibility of switching some systems over to conventional isolinear circuitry.
Tuvok takes the opportunity to bring up the issue with Crewman Dalby. He describes the confrontation with the crewman as insubordination, prompting Janeway to remember the name Dalby having come up before in other complaints. Tuvok remains steadfast, stating that a starship must operate under protocols. Janeway considers the situation and explains that Dalby is not the only Maquis who has had trouble adjusting. She maintains that it is not only a matter of attitude, but also of experience. She believes they have been unfairly expecting non-Starfleet crew members to operate as if they had attended the Academy. Instead of punishing them, she proposes that they take on the responsibility of getting those crew up to speed, instruct them in how to run a Starfleet vessel, and show them why they do things the way they do.
She puts a somewhat reluctant Tuvok in charge of taking on a class of raw cadets, pointing out that Chakotay doesn't have to earn the respect of the Maquis crew, but they, as Starfleet officers, do.
In the first session in a cargo bay, Tuvok's rigid introduction is almost immediately interrupted by Crewman Henley, who demands to know why they have been singled out. When Chell also interrupts Tuvok, going on a diatribe about the unfairness of all this and how he has been misjudged, Tuvok assigns him to forty laps around the cargo bay, immediately raised to fifty when he blurts out another protest.
Tuvok goes on to describe the nature of the class, but no one really seems to take him seriously. Dalby states that they all consider this course insulting, because they didn't ask to come aboard this ship in the first place. Dalby asks the class if they want to stay, and Crewman Henley says that she doesn't have anything to learn from Tuvok. After calling out for Chell, they leave, leaving Tuvok standing in the cargo bay.Later, in the mess hall, Gerron has misgivings about having left like that, but Henley and Dalby assure him that nothing can happen to them, such as being tossed off Voyager or locked in the brig for the next seventy years. Behind them, Chakotay enters and while getting himself a drink, overhears Dalby whispering that they are not going to jump through any more Starfleet hoops. The commander asks the group for their version of what happened, while Dalby tells Chakotay that they are used to doing things the Maquis way. Chakotay confirms that if Dalby wants to do things the Maquis way, then that is what he shall get. He suddenly gets up and strikes Dalby across the face and knocks him off his chair, saying that this was the Maquis way too. He tells them that if they want to keep doing it the Maquis way, that's fine with him; they can do that tomorrow, the next day, every day until they report to Lieutenant Tuvok. Surrounded by the stunned faces of the crew, Dalby shakily nods his head while rubbing his jaw.
The issue ends there – they take the class. At the second session, Tuvok hands out their study assignments and informs them of their unannounced exam schedules and then examines their uniforms, ensuring that their outfits are not in violation of regulations. Overall, the class is now compliant, if not holding back anger.
Back on duty in engineering, Dalby talks to B'Elanna Torres about the field training. He seems to think of it as a waste of time, if not punishment, but Torres says that it sounds like he's afraid of failing. While they are talking, an alarm sounds, indicating another power failure. Dalby identifies it as another bio-neural gel pack, and Torres informs the bridge that she is sending another repair crew. She then grabs a damaged gel pack and informs her staff she will be in sickbay if she's needed.
Torres asks The Doctor to examine the pack's biological component, since there appear to be no problems with the mechanical components. The Doctor inform her that the gel pack has an infection. He predicts that the crew has not been infected, confirmed by Kes' scan of Torres, but says that to contain the infection, all the affected biopacks will have to be isolated and quarantined until a treatment regimen can be initiated.
Meanwhile, the "boot camp" continues. Tuvok has the class climb through over fifty Jefferies tubes and a ten kilometer run. The entire class struggles, sweating and straining to complete the exercise. Chell and Gerron struggle in particular, gasping for breath and even, as in the case with Chell, fantasizing that Tuvok will slip and plunge to his death. Crewmen Chell and Gerron, having been lapped three times at the end of the run, have to complete the course while the others gasp for breath after what Henley calls a "death march." Panting for breath, the group learns that Tuvok increased the gravity on that deck by 10%. Tuvok announces that they will be conducting this exercise again tomorrow and he expects all of them to better their performance.
The next assignment for the class is a war games simulation on a holodeck version of the USS Voyager bridge Tuvok has created. During the simulation, Voyager goes through a series of attacks by Romulan warbirds, before it is finally overpowered and shields start to buckle. When Dalby orders to keep firing in order to do as much damage as they can, alarms scream, sparks fly, and ruptured conduits smoke, leaving Tuvok to end the simulation.
Tuvok announces that they are all dead and that their first command was less than successful. Dalby falls back into the captain's chair, remarking that it was a no-win situation. Tuvok asks them for reasons for the failure, and they all sit silently, insisting that they went by the book and are proud to at least have gone down with phasers firing.
Tuvok asks Dalby if the possibility of retreat had occurred to him, warning that while going out with phasers firing may seem heroic, in the long run, it is merely foolish. Retreat is often the best possible option. Dalby speaks for them when he quietly but sarcastically concedes that once again Tuvok has proven his point that they are not Starfleet material. The trainees are demoralized and file out, feeling as if they have failed. Tuvok is again left alone, this time seeming to wonder why his methods are not proving effective.
This perception is confirmed as Neelix approaches a pensive Tuvok in the mess hall. When Neelix presses him about the Maquis trainees, Tuvok describes their lack of progress and their unresponsiveness, complaining that he cannot isolate the problem and is at a loss, further insisting that his methods are sound and time-honored. In response, Neelix takes Tuvok to look at some Keela flowers gathered in small glass vases near the kitchen. The flowers are remarkably strong due to their flexible stems, but occasionally on the same stalk are stems that are not so flexible. Tuvok interprets Neelix' demonstration as implying that the Maquis crew are rigid and inflexible, and that they will never adjust to Starfleet rules. But Neelix corrects him, stating that in fact it is the other way around, for it is Tuvok who is being rigid and inflexible. Neelix proposes that if Tuvok were to learn to "bend a little," he may have better luck with his class. He suggests Tuvok get to know his students and try to find out what they are like inside.
Tuvok doesn't know if he has the ability to "find out what they are like inside," but then pauses as he begins to pick up an odor, turning to the plate of white food. Neelix inhales the potent odor with delight, informing Tuvok that it is Brill cheese, made from the schplict he recently acquired. Tuvok notes that to create cheese, one needs to cultivate bacteria. As Neelix agrees, he follows Tuvok's gaze to a ventilation intake located right above Neelix's food preparation area...
- "Captain's Log, Stardate 48859.3. Lt. Tuvok has reported what may be a possible explanation for the infection in the bio-neural gel packs. I have asked Lt. Torres and her team to investigate Neelix's kitchen."
Torres reports that the cheese is full of volatile bacterial spores, and that it must remain isolated. As they talk, the lights flash and system power down and up, causing Torres to worry that the infection has spread to the environmental systems, at which point they would be in more trouble than they thought.
As the investigation proceeds, Tuvok attempts to follow Neelix's advice and plays pool at Sandrine's with a recalcitrant Dalby in an attempt to get to know him better. However, that doesn't seem to be a successful approach, because Dalby doesn't appear very friendly or much interested in opening up to Tuvok. After some prying, Dalby tells Tuvok that he and his family lived on the Bajoran frontier where they had a hard life, that he coped by getting into a lot of trouble and was angry at everybody and everything. This continued until he fell in love with a Bajoran woman who then was viciously raped and murdered by three Cardassians. This event prompted him to join the Maquis where he then tried to slaughter as many Cardassians as he could. After this deadpan delivery, Dalby bluntly tells Tuvok that he does not want to get to know him better nor be his friend.
The Doctor continues to examine the cheese, finally concluding that the bacteria has been the host to the virus, and that there are thousands of viruses so small that they would have escaped detection. Kes begins to submit the gel packs to anti-viral agents.
Kim reports to Janeway that the gel packs are beginning to fail sequentially and that they are losing systems faster than they can compensate with backups. Chakotay asks about the isolinear circuits, but Kim reports that Torres has not completed the changeover, and that they could not even maintain life support at this point. Paris announces that propulsion is down as Kim informs them that every critical system on the main grid is down.
Meanwhile, Tuvok and his class are engaging in another activity in a cargo bay and affected by the malfunctioning environmental systems, end up trapped in the cargo bay, unable to contact the bridge.
The Doctor reports that heating the gel packs, similar to inducing fever to fight off infections, has proven successful in his experiments. However, he says that he does not have the power to heat all the gelpacks ship-wide. Torres proposes that they could accomplish this by infusing the gel packs with a high-energy plasma burst from a symmetrical warp field, which Janeway confirms would be generated by inverting the warp field towards the ship, however in order to accomplish this they will need to heat up the whole ship. Janeway orders the crew to proceed.
Back in the cargo bay, the trainees and Tuvok recognize the change in the environmental systems. Tuvok assigns Gerron to check if the console in the control room is still functioning, sending the young man up a ladder to the small room while he and the rest go to try to access a Jefferies tube from the forward bulkhead. Soon Voyager is hot enough to initiate the plasma burst, although Lieutenant Torres warns that it'll blow out several conduits throughout the ship.
The trainees open an access panel only to be blown down by an exploding conduit. As plasma gas begins to seep in, Tuvok announces the room will become poisonous within minutes and orders them to leave immediately through the Jefferies tube. Dalby reminds him about Gerron. They all look up to see the young man slumped over the rail, unconscious. Dalby tells Tuvok that they can't leave him, but Tuvok orders them all into the Jefferies tube, stating that it is always tactically correct to sacrifice the few for the many. Dalby is furious and lunges up to go get Gerron himself. However, Tuvok pins his arm behind his back, threatening to break it if he doesn't get into the Jefferies tube as ordered. As Dalby accuses him of killing Gerron, he climbs into the tube, which Tuvok seals, himself remaining inside the cargo bay. Coughing from the plasma gas, Tuvok runs to Gerron.
While the heat and gas continue to build, Tuvok climbs the ladder to reach Gerron, then placing him over his shoulder and beginning the climb back down. Overpowered by the plasma gas, Tuvok falls from the ladder with Gerron. He attempts to crawl while dragging Gerron, but ultimately collapses from inhaling toxic plasma gas.
When The Doctor finally informs the bridge officers (who had all nearly passed out from the heat) that the bacteria have been destroyed, Janeway orders Kim to start getting the vital systems back online.
In the cargo bay, through the billowing gas clouds, the door is forced open by the trainees. Henley and Dalby run in and pick up Gerron and Tuvok and drag them to safety. Back in the corridor, gasping and drenched in sweat, the trainees collapse, smiling in success. Holding Tuvok up, Dalby says that he thought Starfleet rules said that was an unacceptable risk. Tuvok responds that it was, but that he recently realized that there are times when it is desirable to bend the rules. Dalby responds amicably, saying that if Tuvok can learn to bend the rules, then he can learn to follow them. With that, they support Tuvok and Gerron to sickbay, while Voyager continues on its course home.
"There's the Starfleet way, and there's the Maquis way."
- - Kenneth Dalby
"Come with me. I want to show you something. These are Keela flowers. They're beautiful and remarkably strong. The stem is flexible. It's impossible to break. But, occasionally, on the same plant, there's a bloom whose stem is not so flexible. Ah, here's one, see? And when the stem is brittle, it breaks."
"You're saying that the Maquis crew is rigid and inflexible, that they will never adjust to Starfleet rules."
"No, Mr. Vulcan. I'm saying that you are rigid and inflexible. But maybe if you learn to bend a little, you might have better luck with your class."
- - Neelix and Tuvok
"I don't want to get to know you... and I don't want to be your friend."
- - Dalby, to Tuvok
"Get the cheese to sickbay."
- - B'Elanna Torres
"Uh, you missed a spot."
- - Harry Kim, to Chell who is degaussing the transporter pad with a micro-resonator
"Maquis trainees getting you down?"
- - Neelix, to Tuvok
"This conduit's getting hot."
"So am I."
- - Dalby and Henley
"Lieutenant, if you can learn to bend the rules, I guess we can learn to follow them."
- - Dalby
"You are all dead."
- - Tuvok
"Are we dismissed? Sir?"
"Dismissed. Computer, Exit."
- - Dalby and Tuvok
Story and script
- One motive that freelance writing partners Ron Wilkerson and Jean Louise Matthias had in devising this episode's premise was to experiment with creating unusually rebellious officers. "One of the things that intrigued us," Matthias admitted, "was the chance to step out of the Starfleet persona. Star Trek people are pretty darn nice and for trouble-making writers that can be a problem." The story idea also gave the writing duo a chance to explore the Vulcan character of Tuvok, they having introduced the Vulcan Ensign Taurik in their script for TNG: "Lower Decks". Wilkerson explained, "We knew they wanted to do a Tuvok story, and if we know they want a certain character-story we will direct a few pitches to that story. That's good business if nothing else. And we love Vulcans, Jean especially." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 71)
- The idea for this episode started immediately after a Neelix-centric story concept that Wilkerson and Matthias had had in the running was put aside in order to make way for the episode "Jetrel". Once they received news that their scrapped story idea had been put on the back-burner, the writing partners began coming in to the Paramount Pictures lot to pitch ideas to Executive Producer Jeri Taylor, the first of these ideas being the original plot concept that partly went on to form the basis of this episode. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 147)
- The idea for this installment was originally the B-story of the pitched plot concept and was conceived by Jean Louise Matthias. Ron Wilkerson felt strongly that the B-story should become the A-story and, with this realization, the change was made. Immediately liking the amended story idea, the producers bought the pitch. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 147; Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 71)
- The catalyst for the malfunctions in the episode was suggested by Executive Story Editor Kenneth Biller. "I came up with the gag that Neelix's cheese was causing the problem," Biller noted. Ron Wilkerson recalled that the plot device was thought up and suggested "during the story break as being the most innocuous kind of goofy thing." Wilkerson and Jean Louise Matthias were instantly attracted to the cheese plot device. "We liked that. We liked the aspect that something very mundane can bring down something great and mighty," reflected Wilkerson. "And why not? [....] It was a little bit of humor in the midst of this chaos that was going on. We liked that idea." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 147)
- The character of Kenneth Dalby was named by Jean Louise Matthias and originally had a much more disharmonious persona than he ultimately ended up having. "In our early story treatment, Dalby was a much darker, angrier person," revealed Matthias. "He was named after a kid who terrorized me in third grade. That changed a little to show he could be redeemed at the end." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 71)
- The character of Henley was named for Sue Henley – Kate Mulgrew's stand-in and the actress who played Ensign Brooks. Her scripted name was actually "Mariah Henley".
- In the episode's original coda, Neelix and Tuvok had a discussion from which Tuvok realized that he had made an impact on his Maquis students. Ron Wilkerson explained, "It was done physically with a trick that Tuvok had been trying to teach the students, a Zen kind of thing which involved holding a rod a certain way. None of them could do it properly, and ultimately Neelix showed Tuvok that he could do it, implying that he had learned it from Maquis, so Tuvok had gotten through to them. It was a cute moment and, unfortunately, it didn't make it into the cut." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 148)
- The episode's final script draft was submitted on 21 March 1995. 
Cast and characters
- Jeri Taylor observed that this episode demonstrates Tuvok faltering at first; "The story put him in a place where he could really get fractured [...] I think, again, it was allowing Tuvok to make mistakes and realize that he couldn't handle this group of unruly Maquis the way he had handled Starfleet Academy cadets. He had to learn to grow and adjust and make some movement." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 148)
- Tuvok actor Tim Russ appreciated how this episode features his character learning about interpersonal relationships. Shortly after appearing in the episode, Russ opined, "'Learning Curve' was basically a lesson for Tuvok that there are certain peculiarities about Human beings that need to be understood and dealt with, and you have to modify your approach in some situations. I liked that aspect of it [...] The direction I'd like to see the character going, and he does that in 'Learning Curve', is where he sits down with Neelix who gives him the advice, 'It's not them who need to learn how to do this, it's you who needs to learn how to do this; you have to be flexible.'" Russ also mentioned that, as much as he liked this episode for showing his character solving a problem, he preferred the earlier first season installment "Ex Post Facto" for the same reason. (Star Trek Monthly issue 19, p. 84)
- This episode is a bottle show. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 148)
- The backpacks worn by Tuvok and his Maquis students were reused backpacks from TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I". (Delta Quadrant, p. 51)
- The sneakers worn by Tuvok and the Maquis students during their run are a customized version of the Air Jordan 10. (citation needed • edit)
- For Tuvok's mandatory run through the ship's corridors, director David Livingston made extensive use of the Jefferies tube, although making the episode visually interesting was foremost on his mind. "I was told I had to shoot the show on schedule," he later recalled. "I put the camera in one place in the Jefferies tube, and all of the Jefferies tube scenes were shot from the same camera position. All the stuff of climbing up and down and coming through a tube was literally shot through a ladder, and all we did was vary the action and vary the camera angle, but basically the camera never moved when they were in the Jefferies tube. When it's all cut together, the audience doesn't know. They think they've been in all these different places throughout the ship, but they haven't." In the case of the corridors, Livingston utilized the hallways on Paramount Stage 9, reversing the camera angle and changing lenses for the various decks of the ship. He remarked, "When you turn the camera around, the audience thinks you're in another place, and that does give a sense of opening it up and making it seem bigger." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 148)
- David Livingston was also given the opportunity to improvise upon the script. "I got to add a lot of bits into it," he said, "that weren't necessarily in the original script." These "bits" included the first shot wherein the Bolian Chell appears, to which Livingston added a deceptive quality. "There's a three-shot of the three Maquis, and you think that's all the people that Tuvok's talking to," observed the director, "and then, all of a sudden, this blue guy's head comes into the shot and you realize he's talking to this fourth guy as well." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 148)
- David Livingston enjoyed the general experience of directing this episode. "It was a nice show for me to be able to do," he commented, "and I had a lot of fun with it." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 148)
- This was the first episode for which the sequence of Voyager's nacelles lifting into warp position was actually filmed; the sequence had previously been created for "Caretaker" but was entirely CGI in that case. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 56)
- A certain sequence that was a highlight for composer Jay Chattaway (who scored the music for this episode) involved the use of drums, which had been thought to be too militaristic for the Starfleet of Star Trek: The Next Generation but were deemed more appropriate for the mixed crew of Voyager. "'Learning Curve' had a montage sequence with Tuvok training some Maquis crew members," Chattaway recalled. "It was a three-minute sequence that was great because they didn't talk much while they were running through the ship. It was up to the music to both make it light and point out a certain military air to the training that we could never have done on The Next Generation. We had drums there! Drums were actually called for and were quite necessary." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, p. 48)
- This is the final episode of Star Trek: Voyager's first season. However, it was not the last episode filmed as part of that season, as four episodes produced during Season 1 were held back to air with Season 2; these were "Projections", "Elogium", "Twisted", and "The 37's". (Delta Quadrant, p. 53; et al.)
- Unlike most of the season finales in Star Trek: Voyager, this episode is a standalone episode of regular duration. However, "The 37's" was originally intended to be the first season finale and the possibility of it being a two-part episode was initially considered. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 51)
- Ken Biller was hopeful that the humor he intended to imbue in the idea of using cheese in this outing would translate to viewers. Shortly prior to the episode's first airing, Biller referred to the way in which Neelix jeopardizes Voyager here as "a very unique and I hope a very funny way" as well as an example of "some surprises coming up." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 3, p. 51)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 6.1 million homes, and a 10% share. It was the most watched season finale in Voyager's seven-year run (on first airing).
- Voyager's team of writer/producers regretted the fact that this episode inadvertently proved to be the first season finale. Michael Piller noted, "It wasn't our intention." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 147) Ken Biller explained, "We ended on a run-of-the-mill episode where Tuvok was the drill instructor. It wasn't a cliffhanger. It wasn't a season-ender. It had no bang. We just sort of disappeared." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 75) Brannon Braga commented, "I am somewhat bothered that it was our final episode because it's a soft episode. It didn't have big action set pieces or the grandiose themes that we like our finales to have." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 147) Braga also stated, "We never would have ended the season with 'Learning Curve.'" He went on to specify that the reason he did not think the episode worked as a season finale was that it was "very internal and something of a bottle show." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 50) In agreement with Braga, Jeri Taylor considered the episode as being one that they never would have selected to end the season with. (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before, p. 217; Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 75)
- The producers generally also felt, however, that the episode worked well as a standalone installment of the series. Braga opined, "It's a good idea for an episode, actually. Tuvok becoming the drill instructor is charming [...] In its own right [...] I thought it was fun." Piller agreed, "It might not be a season finale, but it's a good, solid show. I thought it was entertaining. It was a show that we had never done before that we could do here for the first time." In addition, Piller remarked, "It's an old story device, but it was a natural for us and it allowed us to exploit the franchise within the show [...] In that regard, I thought it worked nicely." Jeri Taylor believed that the episode successfully balances interpersonal friction with hopeful positivity. "'Learning Curve' [...] is a warm, positive story which starts out with a lot of conflict," Taylor observed, "so if we're careful, we can have our cake and eat it too." She was also happy with the way in which the episode shows Tuvok slightly stumble before learning to overcome his difficulties with tutoring his Maquis students. Taylor opined, "That was a lot of fun [...] I think to do that for a character is wonderful." Ken Biller characterized the installment as "a solid episode." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 147, 129 & 148)
- However, Ken Biller also thought the cheese plot device was not entirely successful. He said, "I thought it was hilarious, but I don't think people got it that there was some tongue-in-cheek element." Ron Wilkerson defended the use of the cheese plot device: "What's wrong with that concept? We've seen lots of wrenches in the works in almost any kind of mechanism that you can imagine [....] After all, a tiny grommet knocked out the power generators in Niagara Falls that blacked out New York City for an entire evening twenty years ago, and a little break in an O-ring knocked out the Challenger. So if tiny, stupid little things bring down the mighty, why not cheese?" (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 147)
- Although David Livingston was proud of the deceptive shot wherein Chell is first shown, Executive Producer Rick Berman felt differently. "Rick thought it was hokey, which I get accused of sometimes," Livingston conceded, "but I liked it." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 148)
- Cinefantastique gave this installment 2 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 63)
- In their unofficial reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (pp. 125 & 126), co-writer Mark A. Altman rates this episode 2 and a half out of 4 stars (defined as "average") while fellow co-writer Edward Gross scores the installment 3 out of 4 stars (defined as "good").
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 53) gives the episode a rating of 6 out of 10.
- In the lead-up to the episode's VHS release, Star Trek Magazine reviewer Stuart Clark wrote a positive review of this entry, commenting that, despite the episode being a bottle show, "It provides much entertainment [hellip;.] The four Maquis members singled out for this episode are an interesting bunch and, hopefully, they will recur in future episodes. It would be especially fascinating to see how their individual and collective relationship with Tuvok were to develop." (Star Trek Monthly issue 9, p. 62) In Star Trek Magazine's retrospective "Ultimate Guide", this episode scored 4 out of 5 Starfleet-style arrowhead insignia. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 30)
- Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's a Wrap! sale and auction on eBay was a schematic lot of the cargo bay. 
Continuity and trivia
- This is the first episode since the pilot episode "Caretaker" to feature the Bio-neural gel packs that were introduced (though only mentioned, not seen) in that episode.
- This episode appears to be the point when friction between the Maquis and Starfleet crews is finally reconciled, having been explored in the earlier episodes "Parallax", "Prime Factors" and "State of Flux". The tensions between the two are revisited in the third season episode "Worst Case Scenario" and in Season 7's "Repression".
- This episode is the second of three that feature the Gothic holonovel that Janeway participates in at the start of this episode. The holonovel had originally been developed for "Eye of the Needle" but was not shown on-screen until "Cathexis". (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager) It lastly appeared in the second season episode "Persistence of Vision". Of the holonovel, Ron Wilkerson stated, "It's a story line that Jeri [Taylor] came up with and its continuing. I'm not sure where it is going, but I really trust her because she's got such great instincts. It's in Jeri's head so far, and I can't wait to see more." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 145)
- Although this episode includes Tuvok claiming to be a stickler for protocols, Tim Russ felt that this was in contradiction with the earlier first season episode "Prime Factors". The actor explained, "Clearly, in 'Prime Factors' he directly violated protocols up and down the line. Then two episodes later, you have him talking about how stern he is about protocols?" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 61)
- Later in Season 3's "Flashback", it was shown that Tuvok himself did not have an easy time at the Academy or in Starfleet either; he only joined because his parents wanted him to, and did not wish to be there. Fifty years later he would rejoin the service on his own.
- Henry Burleigh's Latin quote, "In ullam rem ne properemus," can be translated (roughly) as "Let us not rush into anything."
- When inspecting the class' uniforms, Tuvok claims that the Bajoran earring is in violation of Star Fleet protocol. However, it was shown in TNG and would later be shown on DS9 that Bajoran earrings have the same exemption from that protocol that a Klingon's baldric, such as Worf's, has.
- This episode establishes that Voyager' crew includes at least one Bajoran and one Bolian, though in the case of these specific crew members they originated from the Maquis ship and not Starfleet.
Video and DVD releases
- Although this was the last broadcast episode of season 1, CIC Video released the four "hold-over" episodes in their production order, as part of the first season release. Volume 1.9 begins with "Projections". Volume 2.1 begins with "Initiations".
- As part of the VOY Season 1 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Armand Schultz as Kenneth Dalby
- Derek McGrath as Chell
- Kenny Morrison as Gerron
- Catherine MacNeal as Henley
- David Anderson as Ashmore
- Johnetta Anderson as bar patron
- James Delano as waiter
- Christine Delgado as Susan Nicoletti
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Kerry Hoyt as Fitzpatrick
- Dory Kaplan as bar patron
- Karl Laird as artist
- Bob Mascagno as accordion player
- Karole Nellis as poet
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Tami Peterson as sciences ensign
- Simon Stotler as operations ensign
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
- Unknown actor as Murphy
- Dennis Madalone as stunt double for Kenny Morrison
- Unknown stunt performer as stunt double for Tim Russ
ability; antimatter; apple; Bajoran; Bajoran frontier; bio-neural circuitry; bio-neural gel pack; Bolian; brick; brig; brill cheese; Burleigh, Lord; Burleigh's wife; Cardassians; Cardassian rapist-murderers; cargo bay; casualty; chafing; Chez Sandrine; Circassian fig; class M; contagion; crash course; cup; curriculum; Dalby's friend; Dalby's lover; damage; Davenport, Lucille; D'deridex-class; death march; Delta Quadrant; distress call; duty shift; duty station; emergency power; engine; environmental systems; evasive maneuvers (aka evasive action); Ferengi; fever; field training; heat; holodeck; holonovel; hull breach; humanitarian aid; inertial damper; "Janeway Lambda one"; Jefferies tubes; Kazleti; Kazleti homeworld; Keela flower; Kelvin; kilometer; Kobayashi Maru scenario; lap; Latin; latinum; Laurelian pudding; lead; logic; macaroni and cheese; magneton scanner; malfunction; manual override; Maquis; mathematics; mess hall; micro-resonator; Mister Vulcan; morale officer; murder; nacelle control system; Napinne; needlework; "Paris 3"; plasma burst; pool; putillo; rape; red alert; red giant; repair crew; rescue mission; result; sampler; schplict (grakel milk); senior officer; Sequence Beta 93; servicing system; simmering; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; tea; temperature; trap; Tuvok's Academy students; Val Jean; varmeliate fiber; viscount; Vulcan; war games simulation; warbird, Romulan;
- "Learning Curve" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Learning Curve" at Wikipedia
- "Learning Curve" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
| Previous episode:|
| Star Trek: Voyager|
| Next episode:|