DELTA BLUES @ Reviewboy.com - Jim Reviews...

"Renaissance Man"

[Disclaimer]

Paramount pretty much owns everything you're about to read. It's their dialog, their characters, their franchise. For whatever reason, they've chosen to left me alone, and I thank them for it.

This is all meant in good fun, as though I were reciting the episode to you around the water cooler at work. You'll find the closest thing online to watching the actual episode, though I do sometimes take liberties when I think it will help the narrative. Any errors in fact or interpretation are my responsibility alone.

[Captioning sponsored by Paramount Television and United Paramount Network.]

[Summary]

Janeway finally snaps. Or does she?

Jump straight to the Analysis

[Breakdown]

The void is alive with the sound of opera.

The Delta Flyer strolls through space with the hood down and the radio up.

Doc is singing at the top of his lungs. Suffice to say, it's sprightly. (If anyone asks me what he was singing, I swear I'll give them an atomic power wedgie.)

He keeps singing.

And singing.

And...episode...boring...losing...consciousness...zzzzzz...

Captain Janeway saves the day by appearing at the door to the aft cabin. She's rubbing the bridge of her nose, and she's got the look of someone who would much rather be sleeping than listening to the Doctor sing opera at the top of his holographic lungs.

Doc blissfully ignores her until she's right on top of him, with a phaser rammed down his throat set to DECOMPILE.

He's still in a cheerful mood. "Captain!"

He realizes he has to shout over the Italian din. "Computer, pause music."

Noticing the captain's Armageddon Eyes for the first time, he looks ever-so-slightly sheepish. "I didn't wake you, did I?"

Janeway shakes her head as though to dissipate the last of the opera from inside it. "That's all right, Doctor. 15 minutes of sleep is really all I need."

Uh oh. It's been THAT kind of a trip.

Janeway staggers to the replicator. "Coffee, black." The replicator, fearing for its safety--it's been talking with the replicators in her quarters and her ready room, no doubt--provides her with the best dang cup of Joe in the history of the Delta Quadrant.

The captain drinks three gallons of the stuff before daring to speak again. "Maybe you should pay a little more attention to flying and a little less to singing."

Uh oh. Ego alert.

Doc cheerfully reassures the captain that her concerns are unwarranted. "As a hologram, I can handle a variety of tasks at once. In addition to piloting the Flyer, I'm writing a paper on the physiological stresses of long-duration spaceflight. And...taking holo-images of this mutara-class nebula."

Janeway throws up her hands. "With a hologram on board, who needs a crew?"

Doc continues. "I'd never admit this to anyone else, but there was a time when I would have given anything to be flesh and blood. But I've come to realize that being a hologram is far superior."

Oh, no. Is there no boundary check on this holo-ego? "Really?" she asks, her voice betraying her opinion.

Doc catches the tone. "No offense. I'll always enjoy the company of organics." Oh, that's a comfort. "In fact, I'm delighted you were able to attend this medical symposium with me. It's been a pleasure spending time with you."

Doc's compliment works its charms--Janeway beams, one of her most adorably shy full-face smiles. It's hard to stay mad at Doc when he can prompt a smile like that.

"Actually," Doc says, "I was hoping we might do this sort of thing more often."

Oh, man. Janeway provides a spit take for the ages. It's a classic puke face. One gets the sense that Janeway rould rather clean the Bolian lavatories with her tongue than go on another road trip like this.

I'm just guessing.

Although one hates to interrupt this touching moment of bonding between the Doctor and Janeway, physics answers to no man. The shuttle rocks a little.

Doc is on it. "Hmm. We're passing through a subspace eddy."

"It could be the wake of another ship," Janeway suggests (rightly, we later learn).

"No...there's nothing on sensors. It's probably just the gravimetric shear from the nebula."

Janeway's got enough coffee in her to power the warp core, and she's itching for action. "Maybe I should take the controls--"

"Sit down and relax, Captain. You've got a hologram at the helm."

Janeway takes the seat next to him. She stews.

She makes a mental note: next time Doc invites her to a conference, notify Tuvok. With orders to detain her until she comes to her senses.

* * *

Torres and Vorik are belly-down on the floor, mucking about with something in Engineering.

"The plasma surges have to be coming from one of these relays," Torres says. "Try realigning the deuterium manifolds--"

B'Elanna's badge beeps. "Paris to Torres."

Torres doesn't seem too irked to be interrupted. "Go ahead."

"Can you pull yourself away from engineering for a few minutes? I've got a shuttle down here with faulty deflector array."

Now she does. "I'm a little busy right now."

"It's kind of urgent."

Sighing, Torres hands the reins over to Vorik and struggles to her feet.

She's really very far along. The baby could come any week now.

*

B'Elanna enters the shuttle bay, and has little trouble finding the one Tom is working on.

The Hawaiian shirt he's wearing is louder than any of Doc's opera.

B'Elanna smiles. "What's this?"

Tom smiles and raises the picnic basket. "I thought you'd enjoy a romantic lunch under the glow of a red giant."

"Oh, you replicated potato salad!" B'Elanna melts.

"With extra paprika--just the way you like it."

"This is sooo sweet..." But then duty calls, and she starts to whimper. "But I can't."

"Sure you can!" Tom says, wrapping his wife in his big burly man-arms. "I've already cleared it with Chakotay." He whispers this last part in her ear.

But Chakotay's not the final word. "I told the Captain I'd have the dilithium matrix recalibrated before she got back."

Tom breaks out the heavy guns. He starts knawing on her neck like a chew toy. "You know, this may be our last chance to be alone for the next EIGHTEEN YEARS." He doesn't shout this last part--he's too busy moaning into the lobe he's noshing on.

B'Elanna dang near gives in. Her eyes roll back in her head. She loses herself ever-so-briefly in the symphony of Tom's pheromones and the cacophony of his shirt.

But she's got more control than even Tuvok gives her credit for. She manages--barely--to push away. "I will make some time before the baby comes, I promise." She takes a big chunk out of his cheek for old times' sake. "I've got to get back."

And with that, B'Elanna makes her exit.

Leaving Tom Paris to tear into a chicken wing.

It just isn't the same...

*

I'll feel really stupid if I'm wrong about this, but I think it's Ayala at the helm. If I'm wrong, chalk it up to stress.

Whoever it is, his brow is furrowed so audibly that Captain Kim calls out to him from the big chair. "Report."

More furrowing. "There's some kind of pulse being directed at our transceiver array. It's coming from the Delta Flyer."

Harry is on alert. "Hail them!"

Ayala tries. "No response."

"Looks like they've encoded the pulse with a com signal--"

The captain appears on screen. The signal is fuzzy, but not too awful.

"Captain..." Harry says.

"Sorry about the image, Ensign, our com system's been damaged. The only way I could send you a signal was through the main deflector."

"Are you and the Doctor all right?"

"We're fine. Tell Commander Chakotay to meet me in my ready room as soon as we've docked. Janeway out."

She seems a little out of sorts.

Fifteen minutes' sleep has a tendency to do that to you.

*

"Harry tells me the Flyer took some damage," Chakotay says in the ready room.

"That's an understatement," Janeway says. she really looks like she could use an afternoon nap, followed by a mild state of hibernation. "We almost didn't make it back in one piece."

Janeway elaborates. "They're called the R'Kaal. Their technology is decades ahead of ours. Transphasic warp drive, multi-spectral cloaking systems...they could destroy this ship before our sensors knew they were there."

"They sound like people we should avoid," Chakotay says with a whistle.

"I wish that were possible. They control thousands of parsecs from here to the edge of the Beta Quadrant. They're ecological extremists. They believe conventional warp engines damage subspace, so they've outlawed warp travel through their territory."

Chakotay nods. "We should reverse course and find a way around."

"That's the problem--we've already been in their space for three weeks without knowing it."

Janeway sounds uncharacteristically resigned. Normally she lives for challenges like this.

"You'd think they'd mark their borders a little more clearly," Chakotay says dryly. (Gee, where have I heard THAT before?)

"As punishment," Janeway says, "their law demands that our ship be dismantled."

"Obviously, we're not going to let that happen."

Perhaps "obviously" is the wrong term. Janeway seems not to hear him. "I spent three hours explaining our situation to their Supreme Archon--a thoroughly unpleasant man. I convinced him to spare Voyager, but at a price. We're going to rendezvous with their armada and surrender our warp core at a Class-M planet where they've agreed to let us settle."

Chakotay can barely believe his ears. "Settle?" Janeway's never settled for anything.

Janeway frowns. "I didn't make this decision lightly, Chakotay."

Chakotay's not concerned with how she made the decision. He is concerned with what she's been smoking. "We have to bring the senior staff in on this! We can find a way to evade their ships, or adapt our sensors to their cloaking technology--"

"We could try that. And we might make it past their armada. But we could lose a lot of people in the process--maybe the entire ship."

Okay. Will the aliens who stole Janeway's brain PLEASE come forth and accept the butt-whuppin' they so richly deserve?

This is just painful. Cap'n Kate, this is no time to suddenly discover discretion!

Chakotay agrees. "Kathyrn, there's got to be another way!"

Janeway slumps down on the couch. "I'm tired, Chakotay--tired of casualty reports, tired of continually risking my people on the slim chance that we'll make it home in one piece!"

Chakotay is REALLY worried now. "We've found our way out of worse situations."

Janeway is done talking. "Set a course," she orders with an exhausted wave.

"What am I supposed to tell the crew?"

"For now, I'd like to keep this between us."

This is even more out of character. "It's not like you to keep your people in--"

"I'll make an announcement when the time is right. Dismissed."

Chakotay backs out of the room. If he had a crucifix, he'd be using it.

*

Janeway makes an unexpected appearance in Engineering.

Torres is surprised. "Captain!"

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but I could use your input on a hypothetical scenario."

Torres blinks. "Of course."

"If we were to eject the core, could it be towed safely at warp?" Now that's a heck of a question...and I sense a pattern.

Torres thinks. "In theory, but a tractor beam might destabilize the containment field. You'd be risking a breach."

"Could you compensate for that?"

B'Elanna, a mere Lieutenant, and not at this very moment in a bad mood, doesn't question the questions. "You could configure the tractor emitters to generate a resonance pulse. That should stabilize the field."

"Can you make those modifications to the delta flyer's tractor emitters?"

Blink. Blink. "I suppose."

"How long would it take?"

"Um, a few hours."

Janeway considers this, and is satisfied. "Get started."

Torres blinks fast enough to alter the ambient room temperature. "I thought this was a hypothetical scenario."

Janeway's eyes get all shifty. "We should be prepared, just in case."

Even lieutenants have their limits. "In case of what?"

Janeway ignores the question. "Let me know as soon as you're finished." Off she goes. B'Elanna makes that head-shaking adi-adi-adi noise. That was just too dang weird. And we're not just saying that.

"Torres to Chakotay."

"Go ahead."

"Have you got a minute?"

*

Chakotay enters the bridge, looking like a guy with a lot on his mind. Janeway is sitting demurely in the Big Chair.

"B'Elanna tells me you ordered some modifications to the Flyer," Chakotay says softly, begging the captain to start acting like herself again, and soon.

"That's right."

"Maybe I misunderstood. I thought the plan was to hand over the core when we reached the planet. Are we taking it somewhere else?"

Janeway starts whispering to her right shoulder, like it's giving her bad news. "I heard you the first time!"

Oh boy. It finally happened. Her blood type is now mochaccino, and it's affecting her brain. The right shoulder--that's the one the devil sits on.

"Captain?"

Janeway recovers. "You've already made your concerns clear, Commander, but there's been a slight change of plans."

"Were you going to tell me?"

Janeway gives her shoulder the evil eye.

"Kathryn...what's going on?"

Janeway gives Chakotay a sheepish look. "I don't feel well. I've got a headache." she rises, and tells the whole bridge, "I'm going to my quarters and I'd prefer not to be disturbed." She then looks at Chakotay. "You have the bridge."

On her way to the turbolift, she yells at her shoulder again. "Not now!..."

"I beg your pardon, Captain?" Tuvok asks.

Janeway pretends not to know what he's asking about. "Carry on, Commander."

Does anyone remember Turnabout Intruder? One has to wonder if Janice Lester is out and about again, body snatching for fun and profit...

*

Chakotay enters Sickbay. The Doctor is not here.

"Chakotay to the Doctor."

"Go ahead, Commander."

"Report to Sickbay immediately."

"Acknowledged."

The Doctor BEAMS in.

Chakotay can't help but notice. "Something wrong with the turbolifts?" he asks.

"You did say immediately. How can I help you?"

"I'm concerned about the Captain. She doesn't seem to be feeling well."

"What's wrong?"

"I'm not sure. She went to her quarters with a headache."

Doc shrugs. Sounds simple enough. "I'll bring her an analgesic." He heads over to a table to prepare one.

"I was wondering if this could be related to your encounter with the aliens," Chakotay says;.

"You think they harmed her?"

"You tell me. What did they do to her?"

Doc sighs. "I'm not sure, exactly. The aliens took my program off-line as soon as they boarded the Flyer. The Captain reactivated me a few hours later and told me she'd been interrogated. Naturally, I examined her to make sure she was all right."

"Did you find anything unusual?"

Doc considers his words. "I suppose I'm violating Doctor-patient confidentiality by telling you this, but...she was fine." That's nice and anti-climactic.

"I'd like you to give her a more thorough examination," Chakotay says.

"Gladly--but you know how she feels about physicals."

"You can be very persuasive, Doctor." Chakotay smiles, and Doc matches it. "Contact me as soon as you're done."

"Aye, sir."

*

Chakotay heads next to Astrometrics. "Anything interesting on sensors this morning?"

"Nothing extraordinary," Seven says. "A red giant and two G-Type stars, a Golorian trading vessel bearing 156 Mark 4."

Chakotay asks the big question. "If there were a fleet of cloaked ships in the vicinity, could you devise a way to detect them?"

Seven considers this. "A cloaked fleet would generate significant subspace distortions. Why do you ask?"

"Commander," Ensign Kim reports. "We're receiving a transmission."

"Source?"

"I'm having trouble pinpointing it. Should I notify the Captain?"

"No, she didn't want to be disturbed. Route the call here."

"Aye, sir."

The big screen of Astrometrics becomes one gigantic video phone. The creature on the screen looks daunting, to say the least. I've met more jovial mountain ranges.

"I'm Commander Chakotay of the Starship Voyager."

"This is Supreme Archon Loth of the R'Kaal Imperium. Why haven't you ejected your warp core as your Captain agreed?"

Oh, crud. "We're en route to the planet you specified. We can't jettison the core until we get there."

Loth is not a happy camper. "If we don't receive the core within ten hours my armada will destroy your ship. This is your only warning." He cuts the signal without another word.

Chakotay sighs. This hasn't been a good day. "Work with Harry. I want to know the source of that transmission."

"Understood," Seven says.

*

Chakotay is back in Sickbay. He may be in the mood for an analgesic for himself at this point.

Doc is here. "Ah, Commander! You'll be relieved to know I've given the Captain a clean bill of health."

"Did you run a neurological scan?"

"Mmm-Hmm. Her brain activity and cognitive functions are completely normal. As far as I can tell, she's perfectly fit physically and mentally."

Chakotay doesn't seem to believe it. "Thank you, Doctor."

*

Chakotay finds himself at Janeway's door. But it doesn't open to him.

"Chakotay to the Captain." No answer.

"Computer, locate Captain Janeway--"

Janeway appears from around the corner, bearing a cup of coffee. She blows steam off the top. "COMPUTER, BELAY THAT." She glares at Chakotay. "My quarters, now."

They enter her quarters, and the door slams shut. Janeway clucks her tongue at the commander. "Really, Chakotay, sending the Doctor to check up on me?"

"I'm concerned."

"Then why didn't you come to me directly? I thought we trusted each other."

"So did I. Something happened on that away mission that you're not telling me."

Janeway still doesn't seem to be in the mood to talk. "I've told you everything you need to know."

"You've consulted me on every major decision over the last seven years, except this one. Why?"

"There are some decisions a Captain has to make on her own."

"I understand that, but every instinct tells me what you're doing is wrong!"

Chakotay feels a story coming on. "Don't you remember what happened on Lessek Prime?"

Janeway just stares blankly at him. "I don't see how that's relevant."

"I think you do. 15 years ago, you were the Lieutenant who was kept in the dark. If you hadn't questioned your Captain's orders the entire away team would have been lost."

She waves him off. "This situation is entirely different."

Chakotay hesitates. His voice is sad. He looks at Janeway like a complete stranger. "You never told me that story. I made it up." He slaps his chest. "Chakotay to Tuvok--"

Janeway just shakes her head. "I've erected a dampening field around these quarters. I'm sorry, Commander."

The captain attacks Chakotay with a hypospray. Chakotay is much larger, but she's surprisingly strong. Within seconds, the hypo is at his neck, and with a hiss and a groan, the first officer goes down.

Yup, I think it's safe to say that the captain has really frelling lost it this time.

* * *

Okay. For those arriving late to this episode, here's what we know.

Janeway has gone off the deep end.

She's agreed to hand the warp core over to some alien species and settle her crew on an M-Class planet.

She's been lying her butt off to half the senior staff.

And last of all, she's attacked Chakotay, and dropped him like a bad transmission.

Even for Janeway, this is unusual behavior.

Moving on.

*

Janeway is now in the morgue. She opens up one of the slabs. "Computer, secure the doors and establish a level-five dampening field around the morgue."

That done, she beams in Commander Chakotay. She lays him out on the waiting slab, borrows his combadge, tags him and bags him. Then she shuts him up in cold storage.

For those who claim Chakotay's performances have been stiff lately...well, in this scene, stiff is exactly what's called for.

*

Next stop: Sickbay.

Janeway throws her leg on top of the desk in Doc's office. She lifts up the cuff of her pants to reveal--

Hey, isn't that Doc's holoemitter?

"I can't do my job with the two of you constantly talking in my head!" Janeway growls. Uh oh--the devil and bear on her shoulder are at it again.

Janeway starts fiddling with the holoemitter on her ankle...

Hey, isn't that the Doctor?

Oh, man. I've got a headache. Pass the analgesic.

Doc is Janeway. Janeway is Doc.

So perhaps it's Doc who's losing it.

So much for "fear not, you've got a HOLOGRAM at the helm."

"I'm not doing anything else until I speak with the Captain!" Doc says to nobody in particular. Then, "Fine! What's your encryption frequency?"

Doc activates a wall monitor. Janeway appears.

"Captain, are you all right?" Doc asks the real--we assume--captain on the other end of the commlink.

Janeway is not happy. "Doctor, listen to me. Under no circumstances are you to eject the warp core."

Doc does not comply. "If I don't do what they ask, they'll kill you!"

"I'm giving you a direct order! Stop what you're doing."

"I'm sorry, Captain. I can't obey that order."

Janeway is livid, in the same way she is when her replicator can't make a decent latte. "Doctor, I want you to go to the bridge right now and alert Commander Tuvok--"

But Janeway gets cut off. A large, lumpy bad guy named (I kid you not) Zit bellows, "Put her behind the force field!" Another lumpy turtle-head alien secures Janeway.

We've seen this species before. "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy." Venal, bureaucratic, irritating--they are a cross between Vogons and what you get when you're getting enough fiber in your diet.

Zit appears on screen. "We have another assignment for you. I've been going over the schematics of your vessel and I'm intrigued by this bio-neural circuitry. I want you to bring us a series of these gel packs."

Zit is a robber. He's got the voice for it. His assistant, Pus, sounds a bit more like the high-pitched weenies we ran across in Tinker Tenor.

Doc blanches. "The gel packs are integrated into the ship's systems. I can't just remove them without someone noticing!"

"You've proven yourself to be very resourceful, Doctor," says Zit. "You'll find a way. Remember: We're monitoring your perceptual subroutines. We can see and hear everything."

Suddenly, one of Doc's combadges chirps. "Tuvok to Chakotay."

"You know what will happen to her if you alert your crew," Zit erupts.

Doc clears his throat and does a bad Chakotay impersonation. "Go ahead."

"Are you all right, Commander?" Tuvok asks over the comm.

"Uh, just a scratchy throat. The Doctor's treating me now."

"Could you come to the shuttle bay when you're finished?"

"I'll be right there. Chakotay out."

The Doctor thinks fast. "Computer: access the holodeck database and locate Commander Chakotay's holographic template. Download the physical parameters into my program."

And just like that, Doc is not only the captain, he's also the first officer.

With holograms like these, who needs a crew?

On the plus side, we've got a better idea of what's happening. Doc's the one making Janeway look nuts, but he's doing it in a misguided attempt to save her.

*

"You wanted to see me?" Chakotay/Doc asks.

Tuvok nods. "I've completed the diagnostic as you requested. The Flyer's com system is functioning normally."

"You find that unusual?" Chakotay/Doc asks.

"The Captain did report that it was damaged during the attack by the R'Kaal." Good point.

Chakotay/Doc nods. "I'll have a talk with her. Did you find anything else out of the ordinary?"

"No."

For the first time, we hear Zit as Doc does--as one of the voices in his head. "Get out of there before you arouse suspicion!"

"I'll be on the bridge if you need me," Chakotay/Doc says.

"You're doing a wonderful job, Doctor!"

*

Zit isn't happy. Pus, the underling in this little scam, just gave Doc a compliment. He glowers.

Pus shrugs helplessly. "I'm just giving him a little encouragement."

Zit looks fit to burst. "That's why I'm in command."

Pus looks on the bright side. "If all goes well we should have the warp core he's making excellent progress."

Janeway, stuck behind the forcefield in the back of the room, lets out a derisive snort. "That's exactly what he wants you to believe."

"What do you mean?" Zit demands.

"Did you really think you could outsmart a hologram?"

Pus checks the DocCam. "Everything appears to be normal."

"How do you know you're not looking at a holographic projection? The Doctor isn't just a physician; his Emergency Command subroutines contain thousands of tactical scenarios. I wouldn't be surprised if Voyager was already on its way here." She levels her gaze at Zit. "You do have an option. Leave me behind in an escape pod and I'll forget any of this ever happened."

"Maybe we should let her go," says Pus.

"Are you delusional?" Zit erupts. "It took months to plan this! We've already found a buyer for the warp core. Now you want to abandon everything?"

"It's better than being sent to a rehabilitation center," says the wimpy minion.

"We made our choice when we stole this vessel. I am not going back to the Hierarchy, and neither are you!" Zit waggles his finger at Janeway. "She's just trying to trick you. A month from now, we'll be soaking in the mud baths of Eblar Prime. Trust me."

*

Doc is working on something--trying to extract a gel pack, perhaps? Not sure. he finally comes to the conclusion that there Must Be a Better Way.

He grabs Janeway's communicator, and in the captain's voice, places a call. "Janeway to Torres."

"Torres here."

"I'm having a little trouble with my replicator again. Can you take a look at it?"

"I'm still working on those modifications you asked for. I'll send somebody else."

"I'd consider it a personal favor if you'd do it yourself, Lieutenant."

Torres sighs. "I'll be there in five minutes."

"Thank you. Janeway out."

Doc uses his normal voice to address the ship's computer. "Computer, access Lieutenant Torres' holographic template and download the physical parameters into my program."

And just like that, Doc is the chief engineer.

Well, most of her, anyway. He looks at his handiwork in the mirror, and notices that Torres looks far more svelte than a Klingon in her third trimester ought.

Torres/Doc frowns. "Computer: access medical file Torres Three and update her holographic template."

Thin Torres disappears. A moment later, Pregnant Torres takes her place.

Now that's more like it.

*

Torres/Doc hits the corridor just outside Engineering. He/she waits for the real Torres to make her way toward the captain's quarters. then, making sure his appearance matches hers, right down to the toolbag, he enters Engineering.

"Did you forget something, Lieutenant?" Vorik asks when he notices Torres.

A pause. "I did, actually. Where do we keep the spare gel packs?"

Vorik blinks. "Locker gamma five."

"Of course. Gamma five." Torres/Doc doesn't move.

Another pause. "On the upper level."

Torres/Doc tries to look annoyed. "I know where it is, Ensign." Off to the lift he/she goes.

*

On the upper level, Torres/Doc loads up with spare gel packs, hoping nobody will notice.

"You left me no choice." He's startled, and looks up.

It's Tom, bearing hot wings.

"Lieutenant!"

Tom makes a face. "Oh? Are we calling each other by our rank now?"

"Uh, you startled me."

"Oh. Sorry. Well, I thought since you didn't have time for lunch under the stars, maybe you'd settle for the glow of the warp core." He offers the plate.

"How...thoughtful...But I'm...Not hungry." Torres/Doc smiles weakly.

Tom invades her personal space. "Well, I'm sure the baby is famished."

The Doc in Torres is horrified by what Tom's offering--pure, unadulterated junk food. "A pregnant woman shouldn't eat this kind of food! Do you want to give me an arterial occlusion?"

Tom isn't used to hearing his wife talk like this, but given all her visits to sickbay during her pregnancy, it's not TOO surprising. "Oh, one drumstick isn't going to kill you. Besides, I won't tell the Doctor...If you won't."

Ah, irony.

Torres looks horrified as Tom advances, his lips revved up to warp ten (everywhere at once).

"You know...This all looks so delicious. Why don't we save it for a romantic dinner this evening?" Torres/Doc suggests.

Tom relents. "All right. 1900 hours." He shakes a finger at her. But if you're not there I'm sending security after you." Aw, what a romantic.

"I'll be there..." Torres/Doc smiles demurely. "Sweetheart."

Another one of those odd word choices that catches Tom off guard. "Sweetheart?" He smiles. "Well, aren't you getting affectionate in your third trimester."

There's no escaping it--Tom plants a nice juicy lingering smooch on B'Elanna's lips. Her response is classic.

One suspects Doc will file this one away for an appropriate occasion when Tom is REALLY annoying him.

"I'll see you later," Tom says, and exits, leaving Doc to do a spit take or two.

"Kim to Chakotay. Can you come to Astrometrics?"

Poor Doc doesn't just have to remember where he is--he's got to keep track of WHO he is.

So here we have Doc, looking like Torres, responding over his combadge in Chakotay's voice. "Harry, I'll be right there. Chakotay out."

Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop doing whippits.

*

Chakotay/Doc is listening intently while Harry and Seven brief him on the large belligerent econazi demanding their warp core. "The transmission was encoded with a false subspace signature," Harry says.

"The signal didn't originate on another vessel. It came from inside Voyager," Seven adds.

"We traced it to holodeck two," says Harry.

Dang, these people are good. Doc clearly underestimated their analytical skills.

But really, let's face it. This is the Doctor we're talking about. Underestimating everyone but himself is practically his trademark.

"Do you know who sent it?" Chakotay/Doc asks.

"I'm on my way to check the access logs," Harry says.

Shazzbot!. "I'll go with you."

*

Harry is kicking digital hiney and taking names. Doc, in Chakotay's body, it getting more and more edgy.

"Whoever sent this transmission knew how to cover his tracks," Harry says. "The holodeck logs have been erased." In spite of himself, Doc/Chakotay preens.

"Doesn't look like we'll get any answers here," he says, trying to get Harry to stop before he learns something really important.

But Kim's hot on the trail. "I might be able to find some residual phototonic displacement." He works some more magic, and we see a lumpy form, indistinct but not unlike the R'Kaal we saw earlier. "There we go."

Doc/Chakotay starts to sweat. ones and zeroes drip down his cheeks.

"I think I can clarify the image with a recursive algorithm." Harry does some more tinkling of the ivories, and in a moment we see the Golden Archon clear as day. "Our alien's a hologram," Harry says with pride. "The question is, who programmed him?"

"Good work, Ensign. I'll take it from here--"

"Wait a minute," Harry says suddenly. "I'm picking up two holographic signatures. It looks like a second image was superimposed over an existing template. I'll see if I can isolate the first image."

Oh, crud. Hypospray time again.

Harry succeeds--and gasps when he sees the Doctor's image.

He gasps again when the hypospray latches onto his neck, hissing its siren song of slumber.

*

Chakotay is no longer alone in the morgue. Harry is soon his slabmate.

And the Doctor has one more combadge to worry about stashing away on himself.

* * *

The Doctor is looking quite stressed as he places his growing collection of senior staff combadges into his medikit. There's a story behind each one, and none of them speak well of him.

In an effort to calm his troubled subroutines, Doc turns on the radio. A number not entirely unlike the Blue Danube begins to waft through Sickbay. Soothed by the music, he begins to relax.

Zit doesn't let him enjoy it. "Doctor...what are you doing?!?"

Doc groans. "If you don't mind, I've had a stressful day!" He does his best to ignore his poopy tormentor and lose himself in the music.

Tuvok, though, enters Sickbay, pretty much guaranteeing yet another plot wrinkle.

"I'm extremely busy, Commander," Doc says, closing his medikit to cover his sins.

From their vantage point, Zit and Pus sit up and take notice--they know the Vulcan is formidable.

So, from her cell, does Janeway.

"This will only take a moment," Tuvok assures him. "I've been reviewing the communication logs. There's a discrepancy I was hoping you could explain. At the precise moment the flyer transmitted a deflector pulse, you apparently accessed Voyager's holographic database."

Doc sighs. "I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about."

"Your access code was used to download the Captain's physical parameters."

The Doctor moves over to his supply cabinet and grabs an extra-potent sedative. "Exactly what are you insinuating, Commander?"

"Perhaps we should have a word with the Captain," Tuvok says.

Doc shrugs. "Fine." He follows Tuvok--and reaches with the hypospray.

But Tuvok isn't quite so easily spritzed. he counters, and soon has a phaser trained on the Doctor. "Computer, deactivate the EMH!"

"EMH protocols are off-line," the computer says.

Tuvok taps his combadge. "Security to Sickbay." He sees Doc make a move, and waves his phaser. "Remain where you are."

Doc rolls his eyes. "You haven't forgotten I'm a hologram, have you?"

He's a hologram not currently wearing his portable emitter. Tuvok aims for the sky--and shoots out one of the Sickbay emitters. Doc starts to sizzle a bit as his program struggles to compensate.

"If necessary, I'll disable all of your holo-emitters," Tuvok says.

Doc is in trouble, and they both know it.

Doc makes a break for his office.

Tuvok targets him.

Time...begins...to...slooooooowwwwww.....

That's right, people. In the last regular episode before the finale, Voyager offers an homage to The Matrix as Doc leaps THROUGH the glass partition, barely avoiding the fired phaser, does a tuck and roll, and comes up right where his portable emitter is.

Kewl.

"Computer, transfer the EMH to the mobile emitter!" Doc shouts. It happens, and before Tuvok can take down the internal emitters, Doc is safely portable. And he makes a swift retreat.

Tuvok taps his combadge. Doc may have escaped--but compared to Chakotay and Kim, he's a step ahead. "All hands, Red Alert. Security teams, apprehend the Doctor."

*

Tuvok chases the doctor into the Holodeck. Doc disappears behind the doors, which shut and refuse to admit Tuvok.

"Computer, open the holodeck doors," Tuvok orders.

"Unable to comply." Tuvok doesn't even wait for the computer to finish talking; he's already working on the override. "Access to the holodeck has been restricted."

"Security override, Tuvok Sigma Four."

The doors slide open. Tuvok runs in, not knowing how long it will take to find the EMH.

Sooner than expected, it turns out. The room, in fact, is filled with Docs.

The boy is clever, we gotta give him that.

"Computer, end program."

"Unable to comply. Holodeck controls are off-line."

He takes it in stride. "Tuvok to Engineering. Shut down power to Holodeck Two."

*

Meanwhile, the EMH everyone's looking for is running around the Jefferies Tubes.

*

Torres--the real Torres--answers. "It looks like the Doctor's rerouted the power relays. It'll take a minute to bypass them."

Tuvok addresses the room full of EMH's. "Doctor, I've reconfigured my phaser to disrupt your holo-matrix. Surrender yourself now."

The bypass succeeds. All the Docs disappear. The room is now empty.

"Tuvok to bridge. Can you locate the Doctor on internal sensors?"

Tom answers. With all the Doc's activities, Tom is now the ranking officer on the bridge, so he gets the Big Chair. "I'm not reading him. He must've masked his signature somehow."

"Try scanning for the polydeutonic alloy in his emitter. Shut down all all turbolifts and transporters."

"Acknowledged."

*

Chakotay enters Engineering. "Get your people out of here," he tells B'Elanna. "The core's about to breach!"

Torres checks the board. "I'm not detecting an overload."

"You're getting false readings. The Doctor's reprogrammed your sensors."

Nobody takes warp core breaches lightly, particularly not B'Elanna. "All right, everybody out. Now!" The Engineering team sprints for the exits.

"You, too, B'Elanna," Chakotay says. He's running toward the warp core, and his fingers are flying.

She wants to stay. "I might be able to stabilize the containment field."

"You're not putting your baby in danger. Go!"

Dang, not the baby thing again. She never gets to have any fun anymore. "You'd better be right behind me!" She heads for the exit.

"Paris to Torres. I'm picking up the Doctor's emitter in your section."

B'Elanna looks around. "Where?!"

"Right next to the warp core." Right where Chakotay is standing.

But Doc is well on his way. "Computer...activate Emergency Command Hologram."

Chakotay disappears. In his place--Doc. But not Doc. He's got the red shoulders, and his bearing has a distinctive aura of command.

"All command codes have been transferred to the ECH," the computer reports.

Doc nods. "Prepare to eject the warp core. Authorization ECH Omega Four Two."

"Doctor, don't do this!" B'Elanna pleads.

"Warp ejection system enabled."

Doc looks almost apologetic as he looks at B'Elanna. "Computer...eject the core."

*

We get an external view of Voyager. A hole opens up in the bottom of the ship's hull. A long cylinder drops through, and is soon floating free.

*

Doc is almost there. "Computer, lock on to my mobile emitter and transport me to the Delta Flyer."

But sometimes even Doc doesn't get everything he wants. "Transporters are off-line," the computer reports.

Time for Plan B.

*

The lights go out on the bridge. Paris hails Tuvok. "Tuvok, we just lost main power. Internal sensors are down."

Tuvok is on it, though. "The Doctor has entered Jefferies Tube One One Alpha. Send a security team to the shuttlebay."

*

B'Elanna Torres runs through the corridors. She's making good time for a pregnant woman.

She runs right into Tuvok, who has his weapon trained on her. "Lieutenant."

Torres points down the hall. "I think the Doctor's heading for the escape pods."

Tuvok doesn't drop his weapon.

Torres looks at him with pouty eyes. "You wouldn't shoot a pregnant woman, would you?"

"Come with me, Doctor."

Time for another Matrix moment. The Doctor, being all photons and force fields, is not technically bound by the laws of gravity. We get the amusing spectacle of seeing Torres run toward Tuvok, then run along the SIDE of the corridor over Tuvok's head. And from there, right on past Tuvok and into parts unknown.

"Tuvok, someone's launching the flyer," Paris reports. "Umm...Tuvok?"

It's days like this that can just make a Vulcan want to sit down and cry.

*

The Delta Flyer makes its escape. It locks onto the warp core with a tractor beam, and high-tails it out of there.

Like it or not, Captain Janeway, your Doctor did what he said he would.

Here comes the cavalry.

*

Meanwhile, Pus is busy tinkering away with a pile of junk. One of his trinkets zaps him with an electric charge, and he yelps.

Janeway, who has little else to do, watches him tinker. She sighs at the indignity of being captured by these Pakleds. "You might try disconnecting the phase discriminator," she suggests sweetly.

Pus gives it a shot--and whaddya know, it works! He laughs happily. "I've rebuilt dozens of these units, but I've never seen this configuration before. Do you know how I can stabilize the ion flow?"

Janeway gestures him over. Pus comes, and brings the device. Janeway looks at it for just a moment, and then points. "That looks like the charge inverter."

Sure enough, it is. Pus laughs again. "Thank you!" He's really not so bad a guy once you get to know him.

"You're welcome," she says. She notices the pile of stuff. "Your ship must need a lot of replacement parts."

"Oh...Those aren't for this ship. I've been collecting and repairing spare components for years. This is from an old impulse drive. Would you believe I found it sitting in a waste depository? I'll be able to find a buyer now that it's working."

Well, it beats stamping license plates.

Janeway looks at them appreciatively. "These parts could be worth a small fortune."

She's speaking his language. "That's exactly what I think! I'm going to use my quarter of the profits to establish an outpost specializing in obsolete engine components. I'm certain there's a demand for them."

Janeway smiles encouragingly. "My chief engineer is always looking for spare parts. She might be interested in acquiring your entire inventory...."

Potatoes, like walls, have eyes, and Captain Potato Head has ears to boot. He has heard enough to intervene. "Captain! Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk. You're not trying to take advantage of my subordinate, are you?"

Zit grabs the device from Pus and shakes it at him angrily. "No one's ever going to buy this junk! It's almost as useless as you."

One senses a great disturbance in the Force.

Before this conflict can continue, one of the ship's beacons begins to Beep. Zit checks the board. "There's a ship approaching."

Guess who. "This is the Delta Flyer. I've got the warp core, but you're not getting it until you release the Captain."

Zit lets loose with a nasty smackdown. The Flyer rocks under the barrage.

"Are you insane?" Doc shouts. "You almost destabilized the core! Both of our ships would've been destroyed."

"This isn't a negotiation!" Zit yells. "Release your tractor beam now!"

Doc gives in. "All right." He releases the tractor beam, and a moment later the warp core is beamed away.

"It's in the cargo hold," Pus says.

Zit is satisfied. "Lower your shields and we'll beam your Captain to you."

Doc complies. "Ready."

Doc disappears.

Show of hands--who didn't see that coming?

Honor among thieves, my hiney.

*

Doc appears in the Captain's cell. He's livid. "We had an agreement!!!"

Zit just laughs. "To spare your Captain. As you can see, she's still alive."

Janeway is also furious. "Let the Doctor go. I'm the more valuable hostage."

Zit mocks her. "Actually, you're not. We'll leave you in the Vinri system. The inhabitants are mostly harmless." (You gotta love Douglas Adams references...) "The Doctor will be working for us now."

Doc bristles. "I'll do no such thing!"

"I'm sure you'll feel differently after I make a few adjustments to your program," Zit says. This hits close to home, and Doc shuts up.

Zit takes off. Pus stays behind, and he's apologetic. "I had no idea he was going to do this," he tells Janeway. "I'm sorry." Then he, too, leaves.

Now it's just Janeway and the Doctor. I suspect at this point Doc would prefer even the company of tormentors.

Janeway's glare is white-hot. "I hope you realize you've stranded Voyager in the Delta Quadrant."

"What did you expect me to do?" Doc asks helplessly. "Let them kill you?"

"I expected you to follow my orders!"

"You might as well have been ordering me to put a phaser to your head!" Doc's expression is bleak; he pleads for understanding. "Voyager can survive without a warp core, but not without a Captain."

He's missing a piece of the puzzle. Janeway provides it. "Now it doesn't have either." Ouch

Another fine mess you've gotten us into, Stanley.

* * *

Chief Tactical Officer's Log, Stardate 54890.7: With internal sensors off-line I've had to order a section-by-section search for our missing crew members. Until main power is restored, Voyager remains immobilized and defenseless."

The corridors are dark. Tom leads a team into Sickbay. With a little bit of elbow grease, they manage to work their way into the morgue. Guided by his tricorder, Tom soon finds the slabs housing Kim and Chakotay.

He runs a medical tricorder over them. "They're just unconscious," he says, relieved. "Paris to Tuvok. I found them."

*

Chakotay is back on his feet. He and Tuvok discuss their next steps. It's still dark, though.

"It is logical to assume the Captain never returned from the away mission," Tuvok says.

"Do you have any idea where the Flyer is?" Chakotay asks.

Tuvok shakes his head. "The Doctor masked his ion trail."

"Engineering to Chakotay." It's Torres.

"Go ahead," Chakotay says.

"We're ready to restart the impulse reactors."

"Acknowledged."

The lights come on. More importantly, so does the not-so-soothing strains of the Blue Danube. Or what MIGHT be the Blue Danube, as played by a spastic manatee.

We see multiple decks. Every crewman hears the same music. Too weird.

Tuvok checks the internal sensors. "It's playing on every com channel on the ship."

"Computer, pause music," Chakotay orders. It's really quite bad as music goes. One last insult from the Doctor?

"Unable to comply."

"Didn't the Doctor play this at his recital last night?" Chakotay asks.

Tuvok thinks. "Yes. And as I recall, he performed the piece flawlessly." Hmmm.

"Maybe the recording was damaged by the power loss," Chakotay says.

Tuvok's got a better idea. "Or perhaps the Doctor altered the music deliberately."

Chakotay frowns. "Why would he do that?"

*

The Why of things is best answered by Committee, and Chakotay assembles the senior staff.

"I performed a Fourier analysis on the recording," Seven says. "The harmonics have been modified."

"It could be a com frequency," Harry offers.

Seven shoots that one down. "Unlikely. There's no carrier wave."

Tom gives it a good long look. "I could be wrong...but it looks like a warp signature!"

Everyone puts on their outside-the-box glasses. Harry smiles. "The power utilization curve would be about right..."

Chakotay nods. "Try scanning for it." Seven does.

Sure enough...Seven finds something. "I'm detecting a matching signature. Distance: 6.7 light-years."

Breakthrough!

There's only one problem--no warp core. "We can't follow them at impulse," Tuvok says.

Chakotay considers their options. "You and Tom take a shuttle," he says.

*

Meanwhile, Janeway is making some adjustments to Doc's holoemitter.

"What are you doing?" Doc asks, fearing the worst. After all he's done, Janeway could program him into oblivion, or lobotomy...or *gasp!* mere adequacy.

But no. "If I can amplify your matrix I might be able to disrupt the force field."

Doc is suitably abashed. "I'm sorry I put us in this position, Captain."

Janeway doesn't look up from her work. Her voice is tight. "You said you wanted us to spend more time together."

"This isn't what I had in mind." He gets an idea (yikes!). "Maybe...if we get back to the ship, we could try socializing a little more!"

Oh, you poor, poor fool.

Janeway's teeth grind. "This really isn't the place to be talking about this. Besides, I don't do a lot of socializing."

"You have meals with Commander Chakotay," he reminds her. "And you play Velocity with Seven."

"We have to discuss this later," she says. Pus is coming.

He drops the force field and gestures Doc to come with him. "I need to upload your first assignment."

Doc sighs. He submits to the upload, but then is horrified as the data merges with his cognitive processes. "You want me to infiltrate the Hierarchy's surveillance complex?!?"

Zit appears. "The data stored there is worth a hundred warp cores!" he cackles, the greedy git.

"How do you expect me to get past their security perimeter?" Doc demands.

Zit smiles. "I'm glad you asked." He nods to Pus, who works some more hacker magic.

Doc changes appearance yet again. Now he looks like one of the Turtle Head people, only more self-important.

Doc isn't pleased with the look. "I trust this won't be permanent?"

Pus tries to give him a good spin on it. "I've given you the rank of a Class One Overseer. You'll be able to walk into Central Command without anyone noticing!" he says proudly. "I've also uploaded several other holographic templates you might find useful."

But perhaps Doc's endured one upload too many. He starts to fizzle again, as he did when Tuvok shot out one of his emitters in Sickbay.

"What's wrong?" Janeway asks.

Pus looks worried. "I'm not certain." He checks the diagnostics.

Zit guesses correctly. "The compression algorithms are breaking down!" Dang--no more booty.

Pus is accusatory--well, as much as he's capable of, the doormat. "I told you his program couldn't handle that much data!"

More fizzling. Doc begins to panic. "What have you done to me?!?"

ZZZZZZZTTTT.....

* * *

Here comes the cavalry. Tom and Tuvok fly in on one of the non-Delta Flyer shuttles--not as sexy, but they certainly get the job done.

Provided Chakotay ain't driving.

The search for the Blue Danube yields fruit. The shuttle's computer shows the Turtle Head vessel, towing the Delta Flyer. Tom scans the innards of the ship. "I'm detecting a human life sign aboard, and a holographic signature."

Tuvok runs a tactical scan. "The vessel's weapons are polaron-based and they have auto-regenerative shielding." In a nutshell: the shuttle is no match for it.

But Tuvok doesn't count on Captain Proton. Tom smiles. "We still have the element of surprise."

Kirk had the corbomite maneuver. Paris has the Dolemite maneuver.

(Insert bad '70s jazz music here)

*

Doc is in full panic mode as his holomatrix begins to make the sound of a wet power line.

"If you don't get him back to Voyager," Janeway pleads, "his matrix will be permanently damaged!" zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzTTT!

"Please do something," begs Doc.

Pus boy turns to Zit. "He won't be any use to us if he decompiles."

But Zit isn't about to be squoze this easily.

The shuttle makes a flyby. Tom Paris soon finds himself beamed aboard the Flyer. Home, sweet home. With a bit of clever weaponry, the tractor beam goes down, and the Flyer is free.

*

Pus detects the beam-in immediately. "Someone's boarded the Delta Flyer. They're moving away!"

Zit flares up. "Fire at both vessels!"

BADABOOM...

*

Everything is going according to plan. Tuvok's shuttle gets hammered. "Now, Mr. Paris!"

The Flyer delivers a Borg-enhanced gutshot to the underbelly of the beast. Boom.

*

"Our shield generator isn't going to last!" yells Pus. "If we give them what they want, maybe they'll leave."

Zit, however, has other plans. "Prepare to jettison their warp core." He waddles over to another station and starts entering commands.

Pus notices, and doesn't like the look of it. "What are you doing?!?"

"Arming a torpedo. If we detonate their core the blast wave should give us enough time to escape."

Pus doesn't like that at all. "That would kill them!!"

BOOOOOOOMMMM

The dual attack of the Flyer and the shuttle knock out a power grid, and the force field confining Janeway and Doc goes down. Both of them lunge at their captors, though they pay more attention to Zit. Relatively speaking, Pus has been nice to them.

Janeway tries to disable the torpedo. Zit fires at her console.

"Captain,n,n, get down!" Doc says, still struggling to stay coherent under the stress of an overstuffed hard drive, beginning to sound like Max Headroom being electrocuted.

Too late, Janeway ducks. Her console explodes, and she hits the floor, looking worse for wear.

Doc struggles with Zit. Zit is stronger, and more determined.

Pus, meanwhile, beams the warp core back into space.

*

Tuvok gives the order. "Lieutenant, lock a tractor beam onto the core and get it back to Voyager."

"Acknowledged."

*

The battle rages. Janeway is down for the count. Zit slaps Doc around, and he changes shape from the Overseer back to his old self. But his matrix is degenerating fast.

Zit is about to land the death blow on Doc's portable emitter when--

THWUNK!!!!

Little birds appear over Zit's head as he slumps to the ground.

Behind him, we see Pus, holding his trusty phase converter thingie, which doubled nicely as a blunt instrument.

Pus smiles. "Guess this wasn't so useless after all."

Janeway groans; she's still alive! Pus helps her back to her feet. Just as nice as you please he asks, "Are you still interested in acquiring my inventory?"

That would be Yes.

*

The scene shifts to the Holodeck. Torres and Seven are here; they handle the beam-in of the away team of Tuvok, Doc and Janeway.

Tuvok looks just fine. Janeway's hair is a bit haggard, but she's recovering nicely.

Doc is blinking like an old neon light.

"Computer, transfer the EMH back into the holodeck buffer," Torres orders.

"Can you stabilize his matrix?" Janeway asks.

"Not until we purge the excess subroutines," says Seven of Nine.

Torres checks the Doc's program and whistles. "There's more than a thousand teraquads of new data in there."

A moment later, Tom and harry enter, using the door rather than the transporters. "How is he?" Tom asks.

"We're not sure yet," says Janeway. All told, the Doctor is surrounded by friends. Only Chakotay, it seems, is missing.

Doc is worried sick. This close to the end of the series, this could be end. "Captain, if I don't survive I need you to do something for me," he pleads.

"You're going to be all right," Janeway assures him. But she's not THAT sure, so she listens.

Doc is going for the Emmy with this scene. We're talking Full-Body Emoting. "If I'm not...when you reach Earth I want you to donate my emitter to the Daystrom Institute. They may be able to replicate it someday so that other holograms can know the freedom I've enjoyed." With a flourish, he hands her his beloved emitter.

Janeway accepts it with a look of amazement.

SIZZZZZZZZZLE

Doc knows he doesn't have much time left. He addresses the Captain again. "I've had something on my conscience for a long time. After I was first activated, I kept a record of what I considered to be your most...questionable command decisions."

Janeway's eyes go wide. If looks could decompile...

"It's in my personal database. I hope you'll delete the file without reading it."

Before Janeway can react, Doc moves on to Tuvok. "Mr. Tuvok...I violated the most sacred trust between a physician and his patient. I...told Mr. Neelix about the cutaneous eruption you developed on your..."

He doesn't say, noticing that he's got an audience. Unfortunately, he looks right at the affected area.

Just in case anyone missed that, so does Tom.

Poor Tuvok just has to stand there and take the abuse.

Doc is apologetic. "That was indiscreet. I hope you can forgive me."

Doc's on a roll. He next turns to Harry Kim. He grabs the poor boy by the arms in a grip of iron. "Ensign...at your recital last month I told Lieutenant Torres that your saxophone playing reminded me of a wounded targ." Harry's eyes go wide. "I should've put it more delicately." He dang near hugs Harry. "I'm sorry."

And, the confession concluded, he shoves Harry aside as though he weren't even there, and rushes to the console where Seven attempts valiantly to save his program.

"Seven..."

Seven has seen Doc's idea of a deathbed convention, and would rather not be part of it. "You should remain still."

Doc is practically weeping. "You have no idea how difficult it's been hiding my true feelings all these years...Averting my eyes during your regular maintenance exams."

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTtttt...

Doc drops to his knees before her. Seven's eyes go huge. "I know you could never have the same feelings for me but I want you to know the truth. I love you, Seven!"

The truly amazing thing is that everyone in the room manages not to break up laughing. If they weren't in danger of losing the Best Dang EMH in the Quadrant, this would be hysterical. If he doesn't decompile out of data overload, he may well out of sheer idiocy.

Doc blinks out. Then he comes back. The end is near.

"Your cognitive algorithms are malfunctioning," Seven says, ignoring his adoration.

Doc leaps up. He addresses his colleagues with his hand raised in farewell. "Good-bye, my friends! Speak well of me!"

It is in that heroic pose that the Doctor winks out of existence.

A hushed silence falls over the room.

Janeway looks at Torres expectantly. "Is he..."

B'Elanna doesn't look all that tense. She seems almost bored. "No, I've got him."

Crisis averted. Let the lynching begin.

Doc reappears a second later. "What happened?" he asks desperately.

"I deleted the extraneous subroutines," says Torres. Walk in the park, Ego Boy.

Doc suddenly realizes that there are far worse things than death. "I'm not going to decompile?" he asks Janeway, hoping for a second opinion.

Janeway hands him back his portable emitter. Her eyes are twin phaser cannons. "You'll probably outlive us all," she drawls with the voice of doom.

Doc realizes that he's now in a hell of his own making.

"Tom Paris looks at Doc with an expression of innocent curiosity. "Doc...Anything else you'd like to confess?"

If only you knew, Tom. If only you knew.

*

Captain's Log, Stardate 54912.4: Lieutenant Torres has restored our warp drive in less than a week. The Doctor's dignity, however, might take a little longer. He hasn't left Sickbay once since he returned to the ship.

Doc hides out in Sickbay. He doesn't even retreat into his beloved music.

Janeway enters. She has that grass/lawnmower look in her eyes.

Doc gulps. "Captain...do you...do you need medical attention?"

"No," she says, prolonging the agony. "You've been keeping to yourself lately. Your friends are worried about you."

Doc whimpers. "After my deathbed confession I wasn't sure I had any friends left." He gives her a sincerely penitent look. "I overstepped my bounds in documenting your command decisions. It happened a long time ago, before I considered myself to be a part of your crew."

Janeway's expression shuts him up. "I'm not here to make you grovel. I'm here to punish you for your insubordinate behavior."

Doc swallows hard. "I understand." He'll take it like a man.

Janeway gives the official voice. She picks up the mobile emitter. "You're hereby denied the use of your mobile emitter for six days." Then her face softens. "Since you haven't left Sickbay for a week, we'll call it time served." With a flourish, she attaches it to his arm, and pats it affectionately.

Doc wasn't expecting this, and he doesn't quite look ready to be forgiven. "I appreciate the gesture, Captain...but I've got a lot of work to catch up on."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I was hoping you might be free for a cup of coffee on the holodeck." She smiles. "I know a little sidewalk cafe in Buenos Aires."

Doc gapes.

"You said you wanted us to socialize more," she reminds him.

Doc smiles. "I suppose Mr. Paris can finish this."

The hatchet thus buried, Janeway puts her arm around her lovably childlike, infuriatingly arrogant holographic jerk-of-all-trades and leads him to the door. "Now, when you're on the holodeck with the Captain there are two rules you have to follow."

"I understand," Doc says, nodding.

"First: Leave your rank at the door."

"Not a problem. The second?"

"No opera."

[Analysis]

First of all: this was a funny episode.

The climactic scene in the Holodeck was horribly awkward, but in a knee-slapping way. It's Doc doing his best to do good, but in fact doing the exact opposite. He is the digital Narcissus, and Picardo played the scene for all it was worth, from the grand gestures to the "oh, crap" realization that he had put both feet in his mouth and that he would have to live with the consequences. Voyager doesn't get much funnier than this. Thumbs up.

Also very amusing was seeing the various characters play themselves as Picardo would play them. Mulgrrew played Janeway as Doc sees her--a bit nutty. Beltran played Chakotay as Doc sees him--stiff as a board. Dawson plays Torres as Doc would play her...well, almost, since in HER body the Doc has to fend off the advances of Tom Paris and out-Keanu Keanu with gravity-defying Xenariffic stunts. I particularly enjoyed Dawson's performance, as herself and as Doc. Her reactions at the end, coolly fixing Doc's program while he was embarrassing herself right down to the wire, was the perfect counterpoint to the scene. Naturally, poor Tim Russ has to endure the indignity of security breaches, facing down a room full of Picardos, and having the cutaneous eruptions on his naughty bits blabbed to the entire senior staff. His facial reactions were understated, but danged amusing. And of course there was Robbie McNeill, wooing his wife in a Hawaiian shirt, smooching with the Doctor, rubbing salt in the Doc's wounded pride, and checking out Tuvok's erupting cutaneousness for maximum effect. The boy is pure-dee evil sometimes.

The whole thing was rather silly, and as farce, I have no complaints. It seems odd to pick THIS episode as the next-to-last of the entire series run, but Voyager does seem to have a habit of going for comedy right before the last episode of the season, so in that regard it makes sense. It's even, in its own way, a nod to consistency. Not to mention a way of lightening the mood prior to the grand finale.

The use of Doc's music--and the pleas to make him FOR THE LOVE OF THE GREAT PROPHET ZARQUON STOP IT WITH THE BLOODY OPERA ALREADY--also fit. It was a nice touch to have a bad rendition of an old waltz form a valuable clue.

It was also nice to have Doc try to share social experiences with the captain--and bungle it horribly--rather than to try mucking about with his program or expand the reach of his programming. he did muck about with his program, but only to do what he thought was best, even though he was completely off his rocker.

It's a reminder that Doc is constantly pushing himself, and that despite all his progress, he's still very young, and he's based on the original EMH Mark One Emergency Medical Hothead design that has left most of his kind pounding rocks on distant asteroid belts. He's come a long way, but he's still pretty much a juvenile when he reaches beyond his programming.

Then again, aren't we all.

*

Although I mostly hear complaints about Seven of Nine stealing all the air time (an opinion I don't personally share), it's the Doctor who tends to get a whole lot of attention. Picardo is a force of nature; he can work well with everyone, and he lights up every scene he's in. But he can be overused, and though this was a funny episode, there was a sense that we've been down this road before. The words may be different, but the song is the same. And at times, it was a bit off key.

Even so, I had fun watching it, and I laughed out loud several times. It may not be the penultimate episode I'd have preferred, but it was entertaining, and that's never a bad thing.

There's not a whole lot to say about this episode. It was fast paced, well written, well acted, and the Matrix moments were most unexpected. The only real shame is that Janeway didn't institute the No Opera rule a few months ago.

Call it four stars. Check it out.

Next week: The Big Finish. Borg, Klingons, Admiral Janeway, a birth, and no doubt a surprise or two. I hear they were in negotiations with the agent of that monkey from "Resolutions."

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Last Updated: May 17, 2001
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