The following is a SPOILER Review. I tell you pretty much everything that happened in the episode, so if you want to be surprised when you finally see it, leave now. Otherwise, welcome aboard, pull up some shuttle debris and enjoy the ride.
I rate each episode based on how much I enjoyed it. I don't claim to be accurate or objective. But with luck, you'll enjoy yourself along the way.
So kick back and roast up a s'more. Fatherly Uncle Jim's got a story for ya, which may or may not resemble the episode that actually aired.
Doc learns that Holograms can be a real pain in the butt. Harry learns that some forms of assimilation are a lot more intriguing than others. Tom and B'Elanna lock lips. And in a surprise twist, no shuttlecraft were harmed in the making of this episode.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
Inside an alien ship, a surprised young man announces his silent departure for Hale-Bopp with a slump toward the floor and a chunky trail of crimson. (Yes, it looks as gross as it sounds.) The alien's remains are being dragged feet-first through the corridors by a grunting, golden Danny Kaye, the blood pooling to let us know the forward progress is not at constant velocity. Eventually, the poor corpse bleeds out, and Danny deposits him somewhere.
Golden fingers later scrub at the gore--but stop when what looks like a transporter effect causes them to phase in and out of existence. Alarmed, Danny moves to a communications console, and sends out a distress call: "To any vessels within range. I hope this message reaches you. I'm an HD-Two-Five Isomorphic Projection. There's been an accident. My crew is dead. I'm alone. Please, help me."
Danny Kaye is back...and he's a hologram.
* * *
Far out in the well-charted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.
Approaching this from a distance of roughly fifty-seven thousand light years is an utterly insignificant little off-white Starship whose mostly ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think Holodeck Resort programs are a pretty neat idea.
Okay. Douglas Adams I'm not. Anyway...
As Voyager travels at impulse, the bulk of its crew gathers in the mess hall. The senior staff are assembled at the main table while legions of nameless extras fill the cheap seats. Janeway sits at the head of Table One, Tuvok opposite her. (For you J/C freakasauri, Chakotay sits to Kathryn's immediate left. For you P/T zealots--Tom and B'Elanna not only don't sit next to each other, they don't even sit across from each other. You may now have your moment of silence.)
Tom Paris and Harry Kim describe their latest prank at the Vulcan's expense. It seems they reprogrammed the tactical station's console so that every command entered would respond with the greeting, "Live Long and Prosper." For an entire day, we are told as the mess hall erupts in good-natured laughter, the Security Chief was reduced to the role of MC Tuvok, master of the Def Beat Box, regaling the bridge with his Top 47 smash, "L-L-L-L-L-L-Live Long, and Prosper, Y'all." (I guess he kept those clothes from "Future's End.")
Tuvok endures the story stoically as Kim and Paris roar toward the Big Finish--the reprogrammed replicator in his quarters offering yet another Vulcan greeting when he orders his Vulcan tea at the end of a long and frustrating day. Everyone laughs but Tuvok. Naturally.
Janeway offers a story of her own, about how Tuvok dressed her down in front of three Starfleet admirals for "failing to observe proper tactical procedures during my first command. My human ego took a little bruising, but...of course, he was right."
Janeway stands, as does Tuvok. "Over the past nine years," she says, approaching him, "I've come to rely on his insightful and unfailingly logical advice. For outstanding service as chief tactical and security officer it's my pleasure to grant you the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Congratulations, Tuvok."
(Now there's at least one good reason for swapping the air dates of "Nemesis" and "Day of Honor." Tuvok didn't do diddley in "Day of Honor," but he saved Chakotay in "Nemesis." The promotion seems to make a good immediate follow-up to those events, and nothing in the Paris/Torres arc were contradicted by "Nemesis" either. Though Chakotay seemed a bit more chipper than I'd have expected.)
As she pins the third, black-centered pip on the Vulcan's collar, the mess hall resounds with applause. (For those playing the home game--Chakotay's applause is markedly muted, though his smile seems sincere enough. Chakotay still outranks him, in rank, seniority, and title, as First Officer and as a full Commander. Though those who remember Tuvok from Season 1 know he originally had three pips, back when they weren't all that fastidious about matching ranks with insignia.)
Tuvok accepts the promotion and the applause and the handshake with the same silent dignity he accepted the roasting. He thanks the captain, then addresses the audience at large.
"Had I known this commendation entailed ritual humiliation, I might have declined." Everyone, particularly Paris and Kim, laugh at that. "However, I accept it with gratitude and will honor the responsibility that comes with it."
"During my three years on Voyager I have grown to respect a great many of you," he says, then casts a deliberate, infinitely patient look at Tom and Harry. "Others, I have learned to tolerate." More laughter.
"As your tactical officer," he concludes, "I will continue to do my best to ensure a safe passage home. As a Vulcan, I share the following sentiment: Live Long, and Prosper." He raises his right hand in the traditional Vulcan salute--the split-fingered V.
"Word up," yells Neelix as the applause resumes.
B'Elanna rises from her chair and gives Tuvok a laurel and hearty pat on the back before making dust clouds on her way out of the Mess Hall. Paris, noting her hasty exit, gives Tuvok a shoulder-pat of his own, then chases after her. They meet in the corridor.
"B'Elanna, this is ridiculous," Paris says, cornering her. "It's been three days and we haven't said a word to each other."
"I know, I know. We have to talk," says B'Elanna, arms crossed, head down, looking like she'd really rather not talk.
[Ladies, start your VCRs.]
Paris gives B'Elanna one heck of a way out of what happened "three days" earlier, just in case she wants to take it. Remember, Paris is as commitment-phobic as she is. "About what you said. I mean... the part about being [cough] in love with me. I realize you were suffering from oxygen deprivation and [feet shuffling] we were literally seconds away from death....So I know you probably didn't...um, mean it...."
Rosie in Terre Haute, put that shotgun down before you hurt something.
[Blam! Blam! Blam! @#%!@%]
Dang. That Tamogotchi was almost nine days old....
To her credit, B'Elanna looks at Paris the whole time, subdues the rampaging targ in her stomachs, and plants her feet firmly on the side of Honor. "No, no. I meant it," she assures him, softly, seeming shocked that after all this, he'd still offer to maintain distance. "But I don't expect you to reciprocate, really."
Paris' eyes go wide. I mean, real wide. We're talking four-lane expressway wide here. His mouth goes dry. His ears catch fire. He begins to look not unlike Jim Carrey the first time The Mask catches sight of Cameron Diaz at the Coco Bongo.
His father may have been an admiral, but his mama was a Toon.
B'Elanna races through her words now, skittering away emotionally from this vulnerable moment, building walls with Engineer's skill. "You can just pretend that I didn't say it. In fact, let's just forget that I ever brought it up, and I'll just go back to those boring holo-hunks and Vorik and Chakotay dreams and Cinemax and--"
"Shut up," Paris says, moving way inside her personal space.
His hand grabs hers. His other hand latches onto her shoulder. Their eyes meet in a moment of decision, just one step shy of the Point of No return. Then, together, they take that final step. Lips connect as though the gravitational constant of the universe has jumped exponentially between them.
If this were a TOS episode, you'd be hearing some serious violins about now, and some Best Boy would be smearing Vaseline on the lens.
Rosie in Terre Haute...the Lizard has landed.
A thousand sighs echo across the heartland. Hundreds of fanfic authors get pitchforked into frenetic activity by their respective Muses. And forty-seven feminists get mad because a dang man told a strong, independent woman to shut up before forcing himself on her.
Can't please everyone, I guess.
For the record--Torres kisses back. Hands go to faces, and they make up for lost time with a vengeance.
Their Chapstick Moment is interrupted by Doc, who wants to talk to Tom. Paris' half-Toon lips take their sweet time following the rest of his face as he whips around in shock. Torres huskily announces that she was just leaving, and takes off with a farewell to the "Lieutenant." The way she says it will leave P/T'ers sighing for months.
Paris takes several steps after her before duty pulls him back. "What can I do for you, Doc?" he asks, his voice urgently suggesting Doc get right to the point.
When does he not? "The Captain has authorized me to recruit someone with advanced medical training to help out in Sickbay. Unfortunately, the most qualified crew member is you." His eyes roll, letting them both know his opinion of the pilot's last conscripted tour of Sickbay.
Paris' eyes roll as well. "You want me to be the new nurse?" he asks, begging Doc to tell him this is some sort of joke, payback sponsored by Tuvok for the "Live long and Prosper" prank.
"If that's the title you prefer," Doc says, indicating it is no joke. "It will only be temporary--three duty shifts a week. Report to Sickbay at 0600 hours," he says, returning to the party and leaving Paris to double-time it to a certain Engineer's quarters. "Bring a tricorder and a smile."
Doc's return to the festivities marks the segue to a conversation between Kim and Chakotay. The Commander has assigned Kim to upgrade the astrometrics lab--and has assigned Seven of Nine, the most knowledgeable guide they have for this part of space, to assist him. Harry's hand goes to his neck instinctively--the last time he worked with the Borg, she slapped him past payday. But Harry follows orders, and he grins and bears it--though he prearranges his next visit to sickbay just in case.
That scene segues to Janeway and Neelix discussing an upcoming trading meeting between Neelix and the Arritheans. Janeway, smiling like a proud mama bear, commends Neelix for all his hard work, and suggests that this could be considered his "first official assignment as Ambassador." She says the title with a flourish; Neelix beams.
Ensign Culhane (who? Oh, boy, another casualty in the making...) hails Janeway from the bridge, and suggests she bring the Doctor with her. A distress call has just arrived.
I gotta say, folks, this has been the most eventful ten minutes, character-wise, in Voyager history. Finally, someone gets a promotion; finally, Paris and Torres lock lips in a non-alternate storyline. Finally, we see some oblique references to the impact of Kes' departure, however slight (though I really would have preferred to hear her mentioned by name, or Doc show something more than annoyance at having to find a replacement.) The pace is snappy, the interactions amusing and appropriate, the forward progress among characters impressive.
In a word: Dang. Thumbs way, way up on the Tuvok Promotion Party.
Doc and Janeway watch as the automated distress signal from the visibly-malfunctioning "isomorph" is replayed on the main viewscreen.
Doc looks jumpy. "He's a hologram," he says excitedly. "We've got to help him. Ensign, track the source of the transmission," he orders the guy at Ops--who wisely looks at Janeway for confirmation before obeying.
"Once we find his ship, I'll lead an away team," Doc announces, forgetting himself.
"I don't recall giving you a promotion today," Janeway says, her voice gently chiding, her head cocked slightly, like a Border Collie watching Jeopardy.
Doc catches the meaning instantly, and his enthusiasm is reined in to more manageable levels. "Oh...well, I'm the obvious choice to provide assistance to a holographic being." He's pleading in his most sincere job applicant voice.
Janeway expresses her concern about letting him leave Voyager except in emergencies; his loss would be incalculable to the crew, and his mobile emitter is not invulnerable.
(Foreshadowing...a valid literary technique.)
Doc says he'll be careful; he'll take Torres along just in case--nobody knows the emitter like B'Elanna--but he's dying to meet and study another hologram. He's doing his best puppy-dog impression now, and Mama Kate is a sucker for puppy dogs. She tells Doc to meet up with them at the Arrithean rendezvous...and Doc beams, as Janeway smiles after him. She does like eager volunteers.
Harry takes a deep breath as the doors to Cargo Bay Two open. He enters, and calls Seven's name like he's yelling "Fire!" at his own execution.
Seven announces her presence, and descends a ladder in a far corner. "Am I to work with you?" she asks from halfway down the ladder, giving Harry a nice view of her profile, but offering neither enthusiasm nor disdain for her new partner.
Harry stammers out his plans for the first phase of their astrometric project. Seven says that's fine with her if that's okay with him. She notes that Harry seems "apprehensive." Harry, who's laughing nervously far too often in this scene, naturally denies it--but his demeanor just as naturally confirms it. Seven suggests perhaps it's because "I struck you at the base of your skull and attempted to contact the collective."
"These things happen," Harry says, doing all he can to look her in the eyes. She's still wearing the silver-blue outfit that puts her breasts in a different zip code--and so far Harry's the only one on board who seems to notice that she's a galaxy-class knockout. Seven assures him that her earlier attack will not happen again, and Harry answers sincerely, "That's good to know." So far, so good.
Seven hands Harry a padd, and makes a serious encroachment of Harry's personal space. "I've designed new navigational sensors," she says. "Some of the alphanumerics are Borg."
"No problem," Harry stammers with yet another nervous laugh. "I always wanted to learn Borg."
"That is difficult to believe," Seven says, giving the babbling Ensign a Border Collie look of her own.
Harry, sounding like a bumbling idiot (though I can't say I blame him), stutters out, "I was kidding. It was a joke. You know, humor?"
"I understand the concept of humor," Seven says smoothly. "It may not be apparent, but I am often amused by human behavior." She walks off, leaving Harry to huff out two weak laughs and then smack himself silly.
Harry, buddy...you got it baaaad.
A lone shuttle flies toward its destination, five light years away.
Doc paces the interior as Torres tries to assure him that they'll find the ship that sent out the distress call. "That's not what I'm concerned about," Doc jokes grumpily. "I've been questioning the wisdom of leaving Mr. Paris in charge of my Sickbay."
Without taking her eyes from her console, Torres says, "Tom will do fine. He's a very responsible guy." She smiles to herself.
Doc offers a dirty little smile of his own. "Well, I suppose you'd know better than I would." His tone suggests all manner of innuendo.
Torres whirls around. "What's that supposed to mean?" she demands.
Doc's eyebrows wriggle lasciviously. "You seem to have become...good friends." The tease!
Torres advances on the good Doctor dangerously. "Let's get one thing straight. I don't appreciate you or anyone else speculating about the kinds of friendships I have, or who I have them with."
Sorry, ladies--that means you too. Stop writing all that fanfic, or you'll find yourself on the Dookie List of one uppity half-Klingon.
Yeah, right...like that's gonna stop you.
Doc's apology is somewhat lacking. "Sorry. I didn't realize I'd struck a nerve. Perhaps you'd like a tranquilizer."
He's just begging to be reprogrammed with a very large axe. Torres' eyes turn to lava.
Saved by the bell...the console beeps, announcing their proximity to the alien ship. B'Elanna gets a bit of vengeance by hesitating ever-so-slightly in response to each of Doc's rapid-fire queries about what the sensors are reporting. Doc invades her personal space (there's a lot of that happening this week) and Torres looks annoyed, but doesn't hurt him. She's almost amused by his kid-at-Christmas hyperactivity. When Doc giddily notes that they're almost in transporter range and scampers off to the rear of the shuttle, Torres breathes a heavy one-of-those-days sighs and steels herself for the rest of the mission.
Doc and B'Elanna beam aboard the darkened vessel. What lights are on, are flickering a Morse Code warning: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter." Torres' tricorder leads her to a console, where she begins tinkering. Doc calls out to see if anyone's there.
The Danny Kaye Isomorph (it's not really Danny Kaye, but darned if he doesn't bear a passing resemblance to one of my favorite actors) appears in the shadows behind them, but does not announce his presence. He glowers at the arrivals.
Hmmm. Must be the Halloween episode.
A little more tinkering at the console, and Torres is ready to move on to the equipment where the Isomorph hailed Voyager.
Doc joins Torres at the console; she checks his mobile emitter.
"For a Klingon, you have a decent bedside manner," Doc notes with satisfaction.
"Thanks," Torres notes with a smirk.
The Isomorph grabs something distinctly hammer-like and begins stalking toward the newcomers.
"I wonder what kind of bedside manner Mr. Paris will exhibit," Doc says, goading Torres--who shoots some serious eye-darts at him, hands on hips, just like Mama Kate taught her. "That was a rhetorical question, Lieutenant," Doc assures her half-heartedly. She doesn't buy it, but she decides to let him live for now. She tells him the emitter is working okay for now.
Doc suggests that she consider a rewarding career as a doctor's assistant. Apparently he really would like to find someone other than Paris to take Kes' place.
The two are too busy bantering and working to notice that skulking Isomorph with the heavy blunt object. But when he hears that the bald guy in blue is actually a fellow projection, he phases out--and the hammer drops with a clang.
Torres notices the hammer. Doc notices the Isomorph, who appears on the other side of the room, looking far less dangerous now.
"Sorry, sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you," he assures them. Doc verifies his identity. The Isomorph asks if Doc is like him. Doc says he's called a Hologram.
The Isomorph sighs. "Holo...gram..." He seems to like the sound of that. He smiles, and his eyes go big as a basset hound's.
Why I'm so hung up on pet references this week, I have no idea....
* * *
The Isomorph asks if Torres is a holo gram, too. Torres says no, and he frowns. "You're organic," he says, disappointed, and Torres tries not to take offense.
His imaging system phases again; I wonder if that's the reaction to strong Isomorph emotion. Torres notes it and whips out her tricorder. "It looks like your program is fairly compatible with our holographic technology," she says; "where can I access your projection controls?"
"I thought you'd never ask," the Isomorph says with a wink and a smirk.
"Wrong episode," Torres growls.
"Sorry," he says, then his eyes narrow and he asks why she wants to peek at his controls; she says she'd be happy to repair the obvious malfunctions.
He immediately returns to stammering, servile mode and points her to a panel in the room. Torres begins firming up his programming.
Doc asks what happened. "Oh, it was terrible, just terrible. You see, we left Seros (our home planet) eight months ago--with a crew of six." Doc asks if all were holograms; the Isomorph (his name is Dejaren) says the six were all organics; he is the only projection. "I'm an HD-Two-Five Maintenance Unit with extreme-hazard clearance. I'm responsible for cleaning the reactor core, ejecting antimatter waste--that sort of thing. When the crew got sick there was nothing I could do. I'm not designed for medical functions..."
If a hologram can hyperventilate, then that's what we see. Doc tries to get him to calm down and explain things a step at a time. Dejaren says that two crew members brought back a deadly virus that wiped them all out. "I watched them all die. And then things started to malfunction here. I had limited knowledge of the controls. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come." He sounds grateful--not just that they've come, but that one of his rescuers is Digital Like Me.
Torres returns, reporting that Dejaren's stabilized for now, but she needs to shore up his primary matrix--and asks where it is. He tells her, but tells her it's not safe down there--it's flooded with radiation, and she'd just melt down to the marrow if she tried. He points her to an alternate interface on this deck, and she heads for it.
Doc asks if he can run a quick diagnostic, and Dejaren nods. As Doc scans, Dejaren asks what his name is. Doc says he doesn't have one. The Isomorph looks at him quizzically.
"It's a long story," Doc says.
"I'd like to hear it... and everything else about you," he says, with all the ardor of a groupie, as Doc enjoys the sudden burst of attention.
Harry and Seven work on the new Astrowhatzits stuff. Seven announces she's done with her task and is ready to fire the puppy up. Kim's surprised that she's done so soon, and runs a scanner over it to double-check her work, and once again air space is violated.
It's enough to make a poor viewer claustrophobic.
"You believe that my work is unsuitable?" Seven asks. "Of course not, Harry assures her; "Just checking--standard procedure."
"I may no longer possess Borg perfection but my experience as a drone has taught me to be efficient and precise," Seven boasts.
Ooh...a little full of ourselves, aren't we?
Kim seems to enjoy delivering this news. "Actually, you misaligned this optical assembly."
"Impossible," she insists.
"Take a look," Harry says, waving at the wall. "It's off by 0.5 degrees." Seven checks, and notes with consternation that Harry is correct. "It must have been my humanity reasserting itself," she says with a nicely self-deprecating smile, which Harry returns.
Their work seems to be coming along swimmingly, so Harry tries a little small talk; he asks what she does for fun down in Cargo Bay Two.
"You know--relaxation, entertainment during your off hours?"
Seven talks while she works. "I--regenerate in my alcove. I study the Starfleet database...or I contemplate my existence." She whispers that last part; we gather she spends an awful lot of time with that last one.
"That's a lot of time by yourself," Harry says.
"It is," Seven agrees.
With a few seconds more work, Seven's task is complete, and the optical assembly is locked and loaded and ready for the juice. "I'm ready to access the main power supply," she says, turning to him.
"After you," says Kim, ever the gentleman. The KimCam follows a meandering path down the length of Seven's outfit to the floor, which opens to allow them to crawl to the next deck. (Once again we get to see the high heeled shoes so appropriate to ladder work.)
Seven reaches the deck first; she pops open the wall unit where the energy source is, and begins to reach in with her left hand, which is still partially Borged.
Kim grabs her and twirls her around by both shoulders. "What are you doing?! There are five million gigawatts running through there!"
Seven looks at him curiously. "The exoskeleton on this limb can withstand it," she points out. (it's not the watts--it's the amps.)
Kim congratulates her on her mighty Borg hand and her Patrick Duffy Leg, but reminds her that there are safety procedures. "They're a waste of time," Seven says dismissively. "Maybe so, but you've been assigned to me and I say we do this by the book," Kim says intensely.
Seven does like a firm Command voice. "All right," she says finally, never once pointing out that Kim's all over her like a Trek catsuit.
The danger past, Kim finally does realize that he's touching the most incredibly beautiful non-holographic, non-Vampiric, non-Libby creature he's ever laid eyes (or hands) on. He lets go of her like she's radioactive, shoots his cuffs, tugs at his collar, and clears his throat, then suggests that they get back to business. Seven is either too polite--or too innocent--to laugh.
I'm not. I think the technical term is "kicked in the butt by love."
While Doc works, Dejaren asks about his 29th-century portable holo-emitter. "You can use this emitter to go anywhere?"
"Well, my Captain has imposed a few restrictions. But I'm free to leave Sickbay, join away missions...take a stroll." He smiles.
"Extraordinary. I've never left this vessel before. And until the crew got sick I never even left the antimatter storage chamber. Do you know what it's like to spend your life trapped inside a tiny room? Not knowing what's beyond the door? What the world is really like? Nobody coming to see you or talk to you unless they want something?"
Who, Doc? Nah.
Doc frowns, and lets Dejaren in on a just-between-us-Isomorphs secret. "Actually, I know exactly what it's like. When I was first activated, I was regarded as little more than a talking tricorder. I had to ask for the privileges I deserved--the right to be included in crew briefings, the ability to turn my program on and off. It's taken some time, but I believe I've earned the respect of the crew as an equal." He says the last part with well-deserved pride; he really has come a long way the past three years. He also tells Dejaren about his personal interests in art, literature, and music, and suggests he could do the same.
Dejaren looks scared at that suggestion. "Oh, no, no, no. My programmers on Seros would never allow that."
"Then you'll convince them. Maybe they'll appreciate how well you've coped with this situation--how you've managed to find help. Think about it. You've already exceeded the sum of your subroutines." He smiles kindly, eager to encourage his partner in programming, as he puts one of his medical scanners away. He closes the lid.
And doesn't notice the bloodstains the lid had been obscuring. Quickly, Dejaren produces a rag and begins wiping, hoping Doc won't notice.
As if. Doc asks. Dejaren says it's nothing; "I'm just sterilizing the ship. I'm fastidious about germs. I know that must sound strange coming from an artificial being."
Doc smiles at yet another similarity between them. "Not at all. I've been known to act a little strangely myself." Dejaren smiles, and keeps sopping up the blood.
Torres flips a switch, and an angry blue arc of energy crackles at the end of a long metal hose that's been ripped out of a wall. While she scans, a shadow falls over her.
"Hungry?" Dejaren asks. Torres is immediately on guard. Dejaren apologizes for startling her, but he knows that "organics" gotta eat. He walks toward her, and his foot comes perilously close to the energy hose. Torres yells at him to be careful; "You could destabilize your matrix," she warns.
(Foreshadowing--a valid literary technique.)
Dejaren recoils at the harsh tone of her words, calls himself stupid and apologizes for barging in. Torres' voice softens and she thanks him for the food. She takes a nibble.
This amuses Dejaren; he giggles as she nibbles. "You nibble... like a fish."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Oh, it is. I've never seen a fish before--not a real one--but I've read about them on our database. Fish aren't like other organics. They're more passive, I think, most of them. And so clean." To Dejaren, Clean is Good.
He looks in dismay at the torn-open bulkhead and asks if he can help at all with the repairs. Torres says he can help her with his primary matrix, and Dejaren says Sure. Torres, though, notes he's still agitated and asks what's wrong. Dejaren says that seeing the ship's innards hanging out is disturbing to him. "I guess I can't help feeling a kind of affinity for this vessel. It sustains my existence and sometimes I feel like it's a part of my body... my soul. That probably sounds silly to you."
Torres, as an engineer, naturally sympathizes, and says she understands.
This doesn't have the anticipated effect. "You couldn't possibly understand how I feel-- you're organic. You exist apart from your ship. 'I understand how you feel.'" he mocks, clearly agitated now.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you," Torres says, irritation in her voice now, but careful not to offend.
But Dejaren is on a roll now. "You're the one who's trapped, not me. You spend your entire life stuck inside a biological cage of flesh and bone and blood."
If you think Dejaren is a few functions short of an API, you'd be right.
"I exist as pure energy, but you depend on food and water to survive. Frankly, I find it disgusting. Look at you. Look at you! Grinding up bits of plants and animals with your teeth. Secreting saliva to force it down your esophagus into a pit of digestive acids. You can't even stand to think about it yourself. What a repulsive creature you are, constantly shedding your skin and hair, leaving your oily sweat on everything you touch! You think that you are the height of intellect in the universe but you are no better than any filthy animal! And I am ashamed to be made in your image!"
Makes you proud to be a carbon-based lifeform, doesn't it?
Torres now has no illusions, if she had any to begin with: this hologram makes Doc look like a bloody diplomat.
Dejaren finally catches on that he's Gone Too Far. "My apologies. My apologies. I have acquired some hostility toward organics. It was not meant for you. I was treated quite badly by the crew here."
Oh sure. Everyone's a victim. Cry me a river, holoboy.
Torres moves around Dejaran, saying she's gonna go talk to Doc for a while. She thanks him for the rations, and leaves a dust cloud on her way out of the room, as Dejaren look after her--with a dangerous gleam in his eye.
* * *
"We've got a problem," says Torres, marching over to Doc's part of the ship. "I think there's a problem with our isomorph--and I'm not talking about his emitters." At Doc's prompting, she explains her recent "conversation" with Dejaren. "Did you realize that we organics are a bunch of inferior, disgusting animals?"
"Now that you mention it...." Doc says, smirking.
"He started ranting about how much he despises organics. I didn't think I was going to get out of there without a fight," Torres says. Doc admits that Dejaren is "somewhat socially inept." Torres prefers "lunatic." Doc bristles at that suggestion, though he does turn serious when Torres tells him that Dejaren lied about the irradiated lower decks, and doesn't argue when she suggests he may be hiding something down there.
"I understand your concerns, Lieutenant. I've been talking to him as well and I recognize that he has some... behavioral difficulties. But imagine what he's been through: trapped in a room no bigger than a storage compartment. And he's had almost no interaction with organic beings. It's only natural he's developed problems communicating, even a little resentment."
Doc gets nostalgic for a moment. "Do you recall my own behavior when I was first activated?"
"How could I forget? You were a major pain in the--" (this was an actual line from the show, BTW.)
"--But my point is, I, too, was somewhat alienated from the rest of the crew. It took me a few days to master the social graces." He raises his hand in a grand gesture.
Torres is polite enough not to comment on how many "days" his "mastery" actually took. She says she understands Doc's affection for Dejaren, but she insists on being able to shut the little lunatic down if she has to. Doc doesn't argue, though the idea does disturb him. She asks him to keep the guy occupied while she heads for the lower decks.
Speak of the psycho, Dejaren appears--with a small fish bowl, and a fish inside it. From the way he appeared, the fish is probably holographic.
"Am I interrupting?" Dejaren asks Doc, not really caring if he is interrupting Torres. She excuses herself with all speed to let Doc keep the homicidal holodude occupied.
"I'd like you to meet someone. Doctor, this is Spectrum." He indicates the holo pescado.
"Magnificent, isn't he? So peaceful and so content. I programmed him to keep me company." He asks if Doc has a pet--Doc says it wouldn't be appropriate in a medical environment. (But what about his holo-home? He could get himself a pet there...) Dejaren can relate; "They wouldn't let me have one, either. I had to hide him."
Doc keeps the guy talking, doing his best to boost the skittish Isomorph's morale.
A panel opens and Kim and Seven look into it. "This node contains Borg navigational data," Seven explains. Kim asks how they can remove it. "The proper instrument was part of my thoracic assembly before the Doctor removed it," Seven explains, letting Kim savor the image of her thoracic cavity as now constituted. "I suggest a radical dislocation."
Kim looks at her blankly. "A what?"
"We need to pull it out," she says, and they share a smirk; he's catching on to her sense of humor quite nicely.
She asks for his help, and he agrees. "On three," he says.
"I've got a number in my name, too. I'm H-a-r-3-r-y. The 3 is silent." He smiles.
Seven looks at him. "I've been studying the Federation databases. The originator of that line, Tom Lehrer, was a musical comedian on Earth's North American continent more than four centuries ago. By any standard, that is a very old joke."
Har3ry considers this. "So all those Electric Company number bits we picked up from those 20th-century Earth broadcasts last year..."
"Dang. Okay, on the count of three, we pull together."
Seven gives him a sidelong glance. "Crude, but effective."
"No, that's Tom Paris."
[At this point in the review, Janeway beams in with her favorite death ray and points it at the guy behind the keyboard. "Get on with the story," she insists. "As aired." The reviewer puts away his mad-lib generator and gulps. Satisfied, Janeway plucks a vat of Starbucks from the reviewer's desk and beams back to her ready room.]
On Three, they pull. The part comes loose. But not before the Borg technology bites its former master. Seven reacts in shock as she notes the thick gash in the palm of her hand, and the welling blood. "I've been damaged," she gasps.
Harry gushes sympathy. "That looks pretty bad. You'd better get to Sickbay."
Seven is, for the first time this hour, truly vulnerable. "As a drone, I would have regenerated within seconds....I've become weak." She sounds weak.
Kim is all compassion now. "No more than the rest of us. You'll be fine. Come on, I'll walk you there." Harry helps her up, puts an arm around her waist, and walks her towards sickbay.
"Another half a millimeter and you would have severed the carpal nerve," Paris clucks as he waves the regenerator over Seven's wound, doing his best to adopt Doc's acerbic bedside manner. Harry's arms are folded as he stands behind Seven, steaming over Paris' comments.
"You are a mere mortal now. As your family doctor, I'd suggest you be more careful." Paris' ministrations complete, the wound is completely healed. Paris smiles kindly at her. "There. Good as new." Seven looks at the hand and nods her approval. Harry says he'll see her back in the Cargo Bay, and she takes off without a word, still rattled by the experience.
As soon as Seven is out the door, Harry whirls on his old friend. "What kind of bedside manner was that? Can't you see she's feeling vulnerable and you're going on about severed nerves and major surgery?"
Paris brushes it off as mere mood-lightening. "She wasn't upset by it."
"Yes, she was. I could see it on her face."
As Paris commandeers the Doc's private office for himself, grabbing a cup of Mountain Dew from the replicator and kicking his feet on the desk, he catches on to Harry's change of mood. "You seem a little protective. This morning, you were dreading being in the same room with her."
"Well, I've gotten to know her a little better. I don't think most people realize she's not just some Borg automaton. She's actually very complex," Harry insists.
Paris perks up at his friend's passion. "Oh, really?"
"Yes, she is. She's even got a sense of humor--it's offbeat, a bit subtle, maybe--and she's incredibly intelligent." He sounds like her agent.
Paris just can't help himself; he begins teasing Harry. "Well, she ought to be. She assimilated enough people," he notes between sips.
"See? See what I mean? It's Borg this, Borg that." (Swedish muppet chefs, anyone?) "You can't resist making a joke. There's a woman in there if you'd take the time to look." (Heh; even if you never make it past the surface you can see the woman...)
Paris gets serious. "You've got a crush on her, don't you?" Harry denies it fiercely. Then not so fiercely.
Then not at all. "Maybe just a little."
"I've seen this look in your eyes right before you fall head over heels. You always go for the tough ones. What was it last time--a hologram? I don't know much about Borg women but my advice to you is: Don't."
Wait a minute; wasn't Paris the one telling Seven of Nine he'd be there if she needed a friend? And now he's trash-talking her to her best friend? Hmmm. Well, maybe he's just trying to head Harry off at the pass, before he breaks his heart again--or, if Seven goes Postal again, his neck.
"I'm just trying to make her feel like part of the team," Harry insists.
"'Part of the team?' You sound like Chakotay. Look, she's beautiful and she's smart and I'm sure she's a wonderful..." Paris struggles for an appropriate word. "Conversationalist. But a month ago she was Borg. You don't really know who she is."
The Paris from "Day of Honor" reasserts himself. "It's great that you're trying to make her feel comfortable. Just...be careful."
Harry thanks him for the advice, and leaves. Paris sips his drink, allowing the full measure of his concern for Harry to show through. "I just hope you take it."
* * *
Doc does his best to familiarize Dejaren with the functions of the ship. But the Isomorph seems to be otherwise occupied, claiming to be overwhelmed by all the new information.
When Doc gets to the life support board, Dejaren says, "I won't need those anymore-- no crew to worry about." He then repeats the number 59.2% - the power requirements for life support. "Just to keep them breathing, warm, and comfortable.
"They do require quite a bit of maintenance, don't they?" Doc says with a forced smile, realizing that B'Elanna wasn't kidding when she said Dejaren was a few expendable crewmen short of an Away Team.
"I should know. I spent my entire existence cleaning up after them. When they were busy sleeping or eating or engaging in their...slovenly carnal pleasures." He seems particularly upset about that last one. Doc tries to change the subject, but Dejaren is on a roll; his voice cracks. "They...took advantage of me."
Ewwww. That's a lot more information than I needed to know.
Meanwhile, Torres ventures through the Lower Decks looking for Dejaren's matrix controls.
Dejaren turns to Doc. "I wish I'd been more like you. You showed me that I could be more than a slave to these biological creatures. I'm not taking this ship back to the organics. I won't return to that existence."
Doc now knows how Torres felt. He wants to get away from this raving facade of a beloved mid-century character actor. Dejaren wants him to leave Voyager and join him on an all-hologram staffed Starship. Doc doesn't jump at the chance.
Torres finally finds the control room, and begins punching buttons. She soon finds what she's looking for. Things start lighting up.
Behind one of the lighted panels, Torres gasps when she sees the bloodied remains of one of the crewmen.
Then she sees another corpse.
A bogeyman flashes a crooked smile and raises a stainless steel hook. "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Corman..."
Dejaren gives Doc all the credit for the idea. "You said I should be more self-sufficient."
"I agree that we should be treated equally--as members of the crew. But we're still projections of energy and light. We have limitations."
Bad choice of words. Doing his best James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, he gives an anguished, sanity-free cry. "No! No, no, no, no, no! We don't need nourishment, we don't suffer disease. We're the higher form of life."
Ugh. I'm having Darkling flashbacks. Ack.
When Torres activates the holo-matrix, Dejaren knows it immediately. (He would, obviously.) He tells Doc where he's going, then he phases out.
Doc, knowing this can only be bad, rushes to the lower decks by foot.
As Torres works, Dejaren appears, fury in his eyes. "You!" he screams.
Torres takes a two-fisted swing at Dejaren, but as we know from "Phage," Holograms have the ability to be as solid or as intangible as they wanna be. Torres hits nothing but air, and stumbles across the room.
Then Dejaren goes where even Tom Paris hasn't gone before. He plunges his hand at Torres' chest. He overshoots Second Base, though, and ends up grabbing on something in left-center field. Specifically, he's laying some serious grippage on her heart.
Torres gasps, as anyone who's had their heart massaged from the inside can be expected to. But she still retains her wits, and reaches out to touch the "Off" switch for Dejaren's program on the control panel.
Dejaren, no slouch in the murder department but hardly the tastiest Slim Jim at the Circle K (Okay, Mrs. Stearns...The reader reaction seems to be siding with you about my turn of phrase. [sigh]), watches Torres reach for the controls, and does nothing more to stop her than what he's doing--which obviously isn't working as well as he'd hoped.
She slaps the controls, and Dejaren winks out, in a staticky scream of impotent frustration.
Doc arrives a mere instant later, to find Dejaren deactivated and Torres unconscious with a damaged heart. He immediately tends to her, all sympathy for Dejaren out the window.
* * *
Ensign Kim, Personal Log, Stardate 51186.2. Working with Seven of Nine is starting to get a little...awkward. Tom's right--anything more than friendship is a bad idea... But I can't stop thinking about her...
It's after hours, and Harry is in the Mess Hall. The lights are down low, the intercom is piping in some Julio Iglesias muzak, and Neelix's favorite Leola Root stewing pot is currently brewing up a batch of cinnamon potpourri.
Ensign Love is on duty.
Seven of Nine enters the mess hall. "You wished to see me, Ensign."
"I had this midnight inspiration about reconfiguring astrometric projectors. I hope you weren't...regenerating." Seven says she wasn't. "This is tricky stuff. It could use your touch. Your way of looking at things? A fresh perspective?"
Seven asks for the data, and Harry hands her a batch of data padds. He encourages her to sit down, but aside from the logistic difficulties--I'm amazed she can move around at all in that outfit--Seven considers comfort to be irrelevant. She also notes that Cinnamon potpourri is irrelevant, as is Julio Iglesias. (Say it isn't so!)
Mood lighting, however, is relevant. "This light is insufficient." Her eyes narrow at Harry.
"It's relaxing, don't you think? After hours, quiet--Voyager isn't all Jefferies tubes and cargo bays, you know. Tell you what-- when we're done here I'll take you to the Holodeck. We'll run the Ktarian moonrise simulation. It's beautiful."
"Beauty is irrelevant," Seven says.
But then something clicks. Must have been Julio--he's never irrelevant. "Unless...you wish to change the nature of our affiliation."
Harry is the picture of innocence. "What do you mean?"
"I may be new to individuality but I'm not ignorant of human behavior. I've noticed your attempts to engage me in idle conversation. And I see the way your pupils dilate when you look at my body."
See? Heck, we could practically hear his pupils dilate a time or two. I told you he was looking.
"Obviously," she continues, "you've suggested a visit to the Holodeck in order to create a romantic mood. Are you in love with me, Ensign?" she asks with all the bluntness of a guileless Borg.
"Well...no," insists Kim.
"Then you wish to copulate."
Harry laughs awkwardly. "I mean, I...I don't know what I mean."
Just like a guy. A woman takes the initiative, and he freaks out. It's a wonder Harry ever got engaged in the first place.
Seven shakes her head. "All of these elaborate rituals of deception... I didn't realize becoming human again would be such a challenge. Sexuality is particularly complex. As Borg, we had no need for seduction, no time for single-cell fertilization. We saw a species we wanted and we assimilated it." (Which, when you think of it, is exactly what she just proposed to Harry.) "Nevertheless, I'm willing to explore my humanity."
She advances on Ensign Kim. "Take off your clothes."
In the Mess Hall? Ewwww.
Harry jumps up--and runs away. "Uh... Seven..."
"Don't be alarmed," Seven insists. "I won't hurt you."
Harry almost looks disappointed.
Nevertheless, he scrambles for his life--or, at least, his virtue. "Look, this is a little sudden. I was just...trying to... 'part of the team,' you know? Uh... Maybe we should just quit for now."
As quickly as she began her pursuit, Seven ends it. "All right. Let me know when you wish to resume our work." (Zing!) With that, she takes the data padds and returns to Cargo Bay Two, leaving Harry to wonder just what the heck had happened.
Youch. Talk about being hoist by your own Picard.
Doc revives B'Elanna and tells her that she succeeded in deactivating him. While she was out cold, he found all six of the dead, murdered crewmen, and admits she was right about Dejaren. He tells her that the Isomorph screwed up her heart (which she discovers when she tries to get up and feels a stab of chest pain), and unless he can get her back to Voyager's sickbay her prognosis isn't good. Unfortunately, the shuttle isn't responding to his transport command. Torres says she'll try to punch through the interference if he'll help her up.
At the console, a clearly weakened Torres gasps that she sees what needs to be done, but she says she needs her toolkit to open the control panel. Doc goes back for the tools...when he notices the holographic fish, he asks Torres if she turned off all of Dejaren's holo-emitters. Torres says she thinks so--why?
Doc hurries back to the console--only to see Torres laying on the ground with a nasty head wound, and Dejaren standing over her with that blunt instrument from Act One.
He looks like he's one Beatle short of a reunion tour.
"You said you'd help me," Dejaren cries in anguish. "You lied. You lied to me! I thought you were my friend."
"It's for your own benefit. Your program needs repairing. It's malfunctioning. You're unstable."
Ooh, bad thing to say to a guy who's nuttier than a jar of Skippy. Looking more like Danny Kaye than any homicidal hologram has a right to be, Dejaren screams, weeping like a Gore fan at the Department of Justice. "No, no, NO! You're unstable! You're a hologram who thinks like an organic!"
Dejaren takes a mighty swing at Doc. Predictably, the swipe passes straight through. Doc, looking bored, takes his medikit from his shoulder and tosses it casually at Dejaren; it passes through him as well.
"This could get tedious," Doc notes sardonically.
Dejaren takes another swipe. This one is a glancing blow that sparks against the portable holo-emitter, and as far as I can tell, he hit the Off switch. Doc fizzles out, and the emitter falls to the floor.
Dejaren picks up the emitter, clutching it like the most valuable gem in the quadrant. "Freedom," he breathes.
Speaking of breathing--B'Elanna still is. And she's starting to regain consciousness.
"Oh... you're getting blood everywhere," Dejaren says. "I'm going to have to deactivate you."
Torres does her best to get up and run away, but with a bad heart and a certain concussion and blood getting into her eyes, it's not easy.
Fortunately, Dejaren is aping that classic Horror Movie Cliche, the slow-moving psychopath. He advances at a glacial pace, relishing the fear, savoring the coming kill.
It gives Torres time to pant a lot, fall down several times--and still get away.
They play cat-and-mouse for a while, as Dejaren looks menacingly at Torres, who closes doors and ducks behind bars--generally doing stuff that works much better against SOLID bogeymen. As Dejaren shows, he can phase in and out at will.
Though, when he finally does, he loses his hammer. I like that they kept that consistency.
Ironically, Dejaren chases Torres into the room where he first showed his true colors to B'Elanna.
You know, the room with the snake with the arc of electric blue death on the end of it.
As Torres scrambles backward on her hands and her hiney while Dejaren comes after her with his bare hands, Torres has the time to reach up, turn on the power conduit--and plunge that puppy right into HIS chest in a fitting bit of quid pro quo. (Tit for tat, right?) Dejaren gets this goofy but fatal look on his face (special effects courtesy of Kai's Power Goo) before his matrix destabilizes completely and he joins the great Data Dump in the sky.
I told you foreshadowing was a valid literary technique.
Score one for the organics.
Torres, breathing more regularly now, tinkers with the portable holoemitter. Then, with a final flick of the switch, Doc is back.
"is he...?" Doc asks. "Deactivated," Torres answers.
"Ready to get out of here."
Doc nods, and they help each other to their feet.
Back on Voyager, Harry arrives at Chakotay's office. He's drinking HIS liquid of choice--plain tap water.
Kim hands the Commander a Padd. "We've completed the schematics for the astrometrics lab," he reports crisply.
"Already? You and Seven must have been putting in a lot of extra hours on this."
"She's not much for procrastinating," Harry says with a nervous laugh. Chakotay notes that they're ready for the next phase--constructing the lab. Harry suggests they bring in an engineering team for that--not willing to say straight-out that he wants OFF the project, but hoping the Commander will take the hint.
If he does, he doesn't say so. "Don't you want to supervise their work? The astrometrics lab is your baby."
"I would. Of course. I just don't think that is the best use of ship's personnel."
"Oh, I can rearrange the duty shifts," Chakotay says, helpfully.
Kim laughs. "Oh, no, Commander, you don't have to do that. I'm sure Seven can handle things without me." Please...
Chakotay's eyes narrow. "Harry... are you having some kind of problem with her?"
Harry protests too much. "No! No problem."
"Because if you are, I'd like to hear about it."
"No, sir, there's no problem. Not at all. Absolutely not. Um... so, if you'll excuse me, I'll be going now." He turns toward the door, trying not to bolt into a dead run.
Chakotay calls after him. "Ensign Kim... let's have it." It's an order.
Harry knows he's trapped.
"We...we had a misunderstanding."
The First Officer doesn't give an inch. "About?"
"Oh, it's nothing really important. Just your basic Borg-human cultural differences." He laughs nervously again, not realizing just how unconvincing he sounds.
"Really? That's not what she says," Chakotay says.
"You...? you...? you...? you spoke...? you spoke to her."
bu-bu-bu-bubbadeba-that's all, folks...
"She seems to think you're making good progress. She finds you reasonably efficient. And says you've been helping her learn more about our 'complex social interactions.' Any idea what she meant by that?" Chakotay says it in all innocence--but I'd bet latinum to lambchops that he knows exactly what Seven of Nine meant. She ain't known for mincing words.
"I can't imagine," Kim says, his voice so hollow I heard an echo.
"You two make a good team," Chakotay says.."I want to keep you together on this project."
Kim swallows hard. "Sir..." he begins to protest, then wimps out and buckles under. "Aye, sir."
"And maybe others in the future," Chakotay adds. "Have fun."
Harry nods, and leaves before he tosses his breakfast all over he Commander's desk. When the door shuts, Chakotay allows himself a huge smile and a hearty laugh.
Torres was right; Chakotay's got a twisted sense of humor. And I'm darned happy to see it in action for a change.
In Sickbay, Doc and Paris tend to Torres.
"I've stopped the internal bleeding and repaired the tissue damage. Your pericardium is clean as a whistle." He drops his medical instrument onto a disorderly pile of other such instruments, and looks around in exasperation. "Which is more than I can say for my Sickbay."
Paris shrugs apologetically. "Sorry about the mess. I haven't had time to clean up." To Torres, he says, "It was a hectic day. I treated two broken bones (whose might that have been?), an upset stomach (Harry's, no doubt), and a lacerated hand (Seven's)." Doc rolls his eyes.
Tom is leaning against the back of the bio-bed that Torres is sitting on. Torres leans back, resting her hand very near one of Tom's. Their faces are inches apart when she asks, "Does this mean you're too tired to meet later... in my quarters?" She wants to help him bone up on his medical skills, I suppose.
Paris takes a long look at her chest. "Are you sure your heart can take it?" He asks with his rogue's smirk.
Oy. Talk about a double-entendre. But for once, the two take the repartee as foreplay rather than fightin' words. They look deeply into each other's eyes.
Naturally, Doc can't let the little exchange (which will be immortalized in any number of P/T stories, I'm sure) go uncommented on. He runs a tricorder scan over his shoulder. "I'm detecting elevated hormonal levels. If you two don't take it easy I'll have to declare a medical emergency."
Torres and Paris look at the Doctor, but don't dignify his jab with a response.
"If you'll excuse me," Paris says, "I have to go check on Harry. I hear he's having a nervous breakdown." When Torres looks at him with concern, Tom holds up a hand.
"It's a long story." (Running gag alert!)
Before Paris can leave, though, Doc whirls around on him. "Not so fast. You are going to help me sterilize every square millimeter of this Sickbay. No doubt," he continues, holding one of the medical instruments between his fingers as if it's contaminated, "you've left your oily residue on every hypospray...your sloughed secretions on every console."
Paris, oblivious to most of what happened on that ship, looks at Doc in stunned silence. Torres, still recovering from the LAST hologram with obsessive-compulsive disorder, prepares to ram something high-powered into Doc's chest if he gets any more hostile.
Doc's harsh demeanor changes in an instant. "Just kidding. In fact, I've had a change of heart about my fastidiousness. A little clutter never hurt anyone. Sickbay should have a more...organic touch, don't you think?" He lets the hypospray drop casually to the floor. "To help our patients feel...more at home?" He smiles as if he hasn't a care in the world, goes to his desk with a padd in his hand...and kicks his feet up onto his desktop. A first for him if ever there was one.
Paris leans in to whisper to Torres, "What's gotten into him?"
Torres, arms folded, smirks a knowing smirk.
"It's a long story."
And as Doc power-lounges, Voyager crawls toward home under impulse power.
It bears repeating: We all watch Star Trek for different reasons, and there are types of episodes each of us likes more than others.
The episodes that make me happiest are the ones that make me laugh.
Two episodes I've given the highest ratings to, "Basics 2" and "Worst Case Scenario," I found hilarious. (I still get a lot of grief for liking Basics 2 so much, but heck with 'em--it cracked me up, so it gets five dang stars.) The scores do not say how good the episode is; they only say how much I liked it.
And I like comedy.
I also like cheesy horror movies.
In short--this episode had it all.
That said...there wasn't much to this story.
The "nature of holographic existence" thread has been done before (with mixed results) in "Projections," "Real Life," "The Darkling," and a whole lot of individual moments in episodes throughout the run of Voyager. No real new ground is explored here... Except in one significant respect. Doc finds someone even more anal than he is. So much more, in fact, that Doc began to rethink his own attitudes.
It was a good character episode for Doc in this regard; he learned, not by his own hard experience--as in Real Life or Darkling--but by watching someone else and considering the implications. He found he could relate to Dejaren--but only to a point. And where they diverged, he saw potholes on the road to sanity. And knew that those particular burrs in the holographic saddle had at one time or another chafed his holo-hiney every bit as much.
And he asked himself whether that was a good thing, and changed his attitude where he saw that it wasn't. In short--good character moments here.
Doc started out thrilled with the idea of meeting another hologram, then grew less enamored of the guy the more he learned. And realized that, all things considered, he had a lot to be happy about. He worked among people who learned to respect him, and he had learned to fit in as well. The Doc of today is nothing like the guy we met three years ago. And though we can see he's still a long way from mastering those social graces...Doc McCoy never did either. We don't expect ideal behavior from our ship's doctors; we prefer them a bit crusty.
What was Doc's major worry on the way to the Isomorph's ship? "What Paris is doing to my Sickbay." In word, if not in intensity, that's pretty much what Dejaren's problem was with the organics on his ship. Doc learned, by episode's end, to cut Paris some slack. He may continue to pick on the poor helm boy, but he seems to have found a much more...entertaining topic with which to harass him.
I imagine we'll hear a lot of Doc's commentary on the Paris/Torres relationship in weeks ahead. What we got in this episode was way outta line--and perfectly in character. I'm sure he'll be saying things I wish I had.
Picardo really shone in this episode. He covered a good deal of Doc's normal range, and even expanded it at times. Even in episodes I loathe (which, judging from my mail, seem to fall into the "maybe it's just me" category), Picardo always does a terrific job, and is a joy to watch.
Leland Orser, the guy who played Dejaren, was often painful to watch--in a good way. He had that manic intensity that always bubbled just below the surface when it wasn't in full-throated, anguished rage. As I said, his face and voice and hairdo reminded me a lot of Danny Kaye, and I mean that as a compliment--I saw him as a sympathetic character, even when I knew he had to be stopped.
I felt truly sorry for him. Here's a guy who you just know was treated very, very badly by his crew. He even suggests abuse, including--though perhaps I read too much into his comments--sexual. This is one severely mixed-up isomorph, and he's played with creepy effectiveness. Dejaren's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but as we saw, dull and blunt can be just as deadly.
The fish--interesting choice. Dejaren liked fish; I would have pegged him as the "pretty bunnies" type. But it does make sense--confined to an enclosed space, unable to exist outside that habitat. Fish are a lot like everyone who travels through space in ships, actually; the nature of life in space is perilous indeed, with only small containers to protect them from the hostile elements. But at least people can leave for elsewhere when the conditions are right--Dejaren cannot. And until recently, neither could Doc.
The irony is, early on Doc was more than happy with that. He was content within the confines of his programming, and it took a lot of prodding from Kes for him to look beyond his comfortable limitations. In "Projections," when Barclay told him he was really the human Zimmerman, he fought against it tooth and nail. He LIKED being the programmed Doc. The confines of Sickbay were a comfort to him--particularly since he was by then the master of his domain. His frustrations in season one were mostly concerned with his job, and his program--having no control over his on/off switch, being left out of the command structure. He didn't care that he wasn't treated like a Real Boy--he just wanted to be treated like the Real Doctor. When he was, he was content. He got job satisfaction. All he asked for was a little respect--and though it took a while, he eventually got it. Whatever he has trouble with now is more a matter of personality than of programming--just like the rest of the crew.
Kim and Seven of Nine: Wow.
In this episode, Seven was downright charming. It's easy to see why Harry was falling for her; she was funny (in her own way), capable, and insightful. I don't think she deliberately got Harry to fall for her, but once she was aware that he had, she slam-dunked the boy quite nicely simply by being her straightforward self.
And Harry found resistance was dangerously close to futile. Paris was right; Harry's a sucker for women way out of his league. Paris joked that his last crush was on a hologram, though we know from "Alter Ego" the particular hologram was something much more--an avatar for a lonely, intense, intelligent woman who was a better match for the lonely, intense, intelligent Tuvok. So now we have Harry and Seven--an Amazon with Mensa credentials and the social innocence of Commander Data--getting to know each other. He's intimidated, he's flustered, and he's attracted. Like a moth to the flame.
And Seven? She's curious. She's also raised on the belief that the best defense is a good offense. She didn't clue in right away to the subtleties of Harry's courtship rituals, but once she recognized them, the "irrelevancies" became suddenly very relevant. "Ah. You're attracted to me. Let's boogie." Now, on certain Cable channels, I'm told, that may be how it works. Even on other Star Trek series, we've seen attraction be more than enough to launch two people into each other's arms for a session of sweaty snugglebunnies.
But this is Voyager, the high-speed monastery. After three years, the only baby born was conceived--in wedlock--before the ship ever left the alpha quadrant. (Well, okay, there were those three lizard babies that Janeway and Paris hatched, and Seska did attempt to fertilize herself using Chakotay's DNA--extracted from his NECK, for crying out loud--but even that kid turned out to be Culluh's, through more traditional methods.) We know crewmen are dating, and occasionally mashing lips, but actual sex seems to be something that happens only in alternate timelines or after warp 10 accidents or with traitors to the ship. Even Kes, jump-started into puberty in "Elogium," ultimately decided not to go through with the mating ritual. (Though some say that in "The Darkling," she got busy with the Traveler alien.) As for Paris and Torres--it seems to take near-death experiences for them to fall into each others' arms.
So along comes Seven of Nine--twenty years out of the social clutches of humanity, learning as she goes, recognizing that Harry Kim is attracted to her. She's read the books, she knows where this is supposed to lead. So she skips to the end. And scares poor Harry out of his wits--or knocks him so off balance that his only possible response could have been to flee. I'd have done the same. In baseball terms, he hadn't even stepped up to the plate yet, and she was telling him to steal Home. Harry seems just old-fashioned enough to consider that rushing things.
Seven was either totally clueless, and just doing what seemed appropriate--or she's a genius. Harry's wooing efforts were transparent, and if she wanted to make him put up or shut up, she couldn't have made her point more clearly. She looked awfully amused by his reaction, and the way she compartmentalized things, "Okay, if you don't want the social interaction, let me know when you want to work," was smart and funny and brutally effective. Poor Harry will be scared to dream about her. I think he'd prefer getting smacked upside the head again.
If they want to pair Harry and Seven off, it's off to an interesting--and promising--start.
Jeri Ryan did a fine job this week as well, letting her get a little playful with Harry, but also letting her face "the nature of her existence" in a real and disturbing way, when she cut her hand. It forced her to consider just how weak and human she had become, and she played it nicely. She didn't smile much--we wouldn't expect her to yet--but her eyes frequently danced with mirth, or went hollow with anguish. The ranting Seven of "The Gift" is gone, for the moment, but the more subdued Seven is still clearly struggling with the changes in her life. And that's good to see.
Garret Wang--good actor, but I feel sorry for poor Harry. All that nervous laughter made ME nervous. As I mentioned earlier, it's a wonder the boy ever got engaged. Unless it was all her idea. His history with women so far on the show (even with his "Non Sequitur" time with Libby) has been one that casts serious doubt on his ability to live up to the proud tradition of Starfleet Heartthrobs. Wang plays him as just a nice, sincere, talented, but awkward kid who's much more comfortable with a clarinet or an Ops console than with a real woman. (Boy, can I relate to that.) It's unfamiliar territory to Harry, and I sympathize with him in a big way.
But Chakotay certainly doesn't. Torres, in "Parallax," hit the nail on the head: he's got a twisted sense of humor. Chakotay played Harry like a fiddle, maneuvering the poor boy into admitting what's on his mind, then toying with him some more, about Seven of Nine. You just know Seven is going to tell all--she's not used to holding back--and that Chakotay is going to be wildly amused by it all. If he's guilty of a little Ensign abuse, I think he can be forgiven--Beltran seems to be enjoying himself this week, and his performance was a joy to watch. I hope this continues; we need to see more of Chakotay, and finally getting to see his office goes a long way to giving me hope of that.
Minor moments in this thing are abundant. Old threads are followed up on; Janeway's treatment of Neelix as "Ambassador" continue from the "Macrocosm" days. Jeri Taylor's Mosaic is worked in to establish Janeway's first encounter with Tuvok into the canon. They don't simply ignore what happened between Paris and Torres in "Day of Honor."
Character interactions work nicely this time around; after weeks of high-intensity episodes, this is a nice, low-impact breather. It won't be shown in any humanities courses, but as entertainment, it was a winner in my book. Paris in Sickbay was fun to watch--it looks like he'll take the job more seriously this time out, so he may be there awhile...which means we're likely to see some good character interaction beteen Paris and Doc, and probably between Paris and Torres and Doc. And you just know there's gonna be some good lines as a result.
And finally, someone gets a promotion--it's long overdue. I think they can be forgiven for not following in ST:Generation's footsteps and making Tuvok walk the plank on the Holodeck for his Lt. Commander's rank, but the "ritual humiliation" was a fitting substitute.
Speaking of which...I got a message from someone not too long ago, who considers Tuvok her favorite character. She's not at all happy with the way Tuvok's been treated, and she makes several good points. Vulcans are routinely picked on in Trek. I think there are many reasons for it, but one of the biggies is human pride. Vulcans are generally stronger, smarter, more in control of themselves than us humans. They intimidate us. So we look for reasons to run them down. We find situations where "logic" is a handicap rather than an advantage. We needle them about their lack (or suppression) of emotions.
"Live long and prosper" is a fine sentiment, a solemn wish. But with overuse, I can see how it could get annoying. Aloha or Shalom, same thing--in conversation, a welcome greeting or farewell. But attach it to every keystroke event in Windows 95, and pretty soon you're ready to throw your speakers into the nearest high-powered food processor. As pre-promotion pranks go, I liked Riker's "remove the plank" a lot more. But Tuvok's response was nice and classy, and I'm glad the ribbing was good-natured this time around. Tuvok has had his highs and lows with the crew before, and I'm happy to see his popularity on board is on the upswing.
I'm happy to say, my prediction that Tuvok would get more interesting this year, is so far coming to pass. He hasn't had an episode all to himself yet, but his scenes in each episode have been quite good, and I haven't felt like yelling at him every other scene, like I found myself doing in Season Two.
And they said you couldn't teach an old Vulcan new tricks. Pshaw.
Paris and Torres. They finally kissed, and it was for real. So naturally they get separated from each other most of the episode. (This is actually a good thing, I think--just because they're a couple doesn't mean we shouldn't see them doing their jobs apart from each other. I still want to see Torres as chief engineer, making decisions she'd make whether or not she's dating anyone.) Dawson doesn't play off Picardo quite as well as McNeill does, but she does make some good faces at him. In the long run, Doc may help Torres loosen up as much as Paris does.
The final scene in Sickbay, with Paris and Torres flirting, less subtly than they seemed to realize (the crack about hormonal levels and medical emergencies was pure Doc), means they've finally come to terms with each other, and they're apparently not afraid to show it. Good for them. I sincerely hope the writers can give us an interesting, believable relationship between these two; it's long overdue.
Let's see, anything else...oh yeah. "It's a long story." They only said it three times, but it seemed like a lot more.
And you thought "Live long and prosper" would get old quick.
Oh, and in a small miracle, they took a shuttle out--AND BROUGHT IT BACK IN ONE PIECE. Shocking, I know. After three straight weeks of Kenny Shuttles, it's nice to see that they don't all have to die.
Okay. What did we learn this week? That one can indeed be too obsessed with tidiness. That holograms are people too--and that not all people are emotionally stable. That Seven of Nine is a very quick study. That Doc is also learning the social niceties at a steady clip these days. That the crew is really getting along well, and the cast can have a lot of fun when they want to. That Lisa Klink can write a heck of a fun script. This was one of the most enjoyable episodes for me since "Worst Case Scenario."
All told, this was a fun episode. No deeper meanings, no hard-core social messages, just a nice denouement to wrap up several weeks of intense plot lines. They needed the breather, and I think we needed it as well. (It played this week with DS9's incredible premiere--nothing Voyager could have thrown at us could have compared, so light and fun was a smart approach.) Episodes like this cleanse the palate--taste great, less filling.
Even The X Files needs a "Jose Chung" episode now and then.
I told you at the beginning, I'm biased. I favor episodes that make me laugh--and this one made me laugh a lot. I enjoyed the heck out of this one, because it did what it set out to do--entertain.
On a 0-10 scale, I'm giving it a 9.0, or (* * * *). Again, this is a measure of MY ENJOYMENT. Your mileage may vary.
Next Week: Seven of Nine feels the Call of the Collective and steals a shuttle. This time, the shuttle may not be so lucky.
Still aching for more on this episode? Check out Julia's, or head on over to the lounge where Kris and some of her pals offers their musings from the Rec Room O' Reviews.