It's Paramount's playground. They own the characters, the ships, species, planets, quadrants, and the dialog, plots, etc. My summaries and reviews are for the purpose of entertainment and analysis only. The reviews are full-spoiler, which means that it's as close as you can get to seeing the episode without actually seeing the episode. All that's missing are commercials and pictures. If you want to be surprised and haven't seen the episode yet, read no further. But if you've already seen it, or you don't mind finding out the details in advance, sit back and let Fatherly Uncle Jim spin the tale for you...Review Boy Style.
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"Pygmalion" gets assimilated. Seven of Nine gets her first date, with a little help from Doc. Tom bets against her. Meanwhile, an alien ambassador comes aboard to determine the crew's piety.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Ah, mealtime. A nice non-stressful beginning to the episode. We see Tom and B'Elanna having a quiet meal together, enjoying each others' company.
Tom is regaling his honey with his latest Tales from the Holodeck. "--So Harry throws it in gear, floors the gas, and backs us right through a burrito stand." You can almost hear Tuvok weep at that thought, can't you? Och, me poor beans…
B'Elanna looks captivated. "So, when are you going to teach me how to drive?" she asks, clearly interested. Tom clucks at her, pigboy that he is. "You sure you're ready?" Torres rolls her eyes. "I've piloted Starships. I think I can handle a car." (That's what Captain Kirk said, too . . .)
"Ah, you'd be surprised," Tom tells her. "The clutch on a '69 Mustang can be pretty tricky."
Hmmm. Mustangs, Camaros . . . is Helm Boy overcompensating for some, er, deficiency?
(Too late, Review Boy realizes the magnitude of his error. Rosie from Terre Haute has already called in a few favors. The next thing you know, the 47th air combat wing is diverted from Macedonia to the Pacific Northwest...Muscle Cars and Missiles. Ah, the irony.)
(cough) er, sorry. I was kidding, of course.
B'Elanna catches something out of the corner of her eye. "Take a look. She's watching us again." She is Seven of Nine, PADD in hand, taking notes of some kind from the far corner of the room. Tom tells B'Elanna not to worry about it; Seven's just working.
Neelix arrives with a plate of finger food, asking them to sample some cheese, which he has "prepared for our Kadi guest."
Torres tries some, and declares it "a little bland." (Given Neelix's past cheese adventures, this seems pretty benign.) But Neelix is worried about the use of the word "little"--he needs it a lot bland. "Oh, that's bad. The Kadi don't approve of spices...Anything that might inflame the senses." Must be the stoic type.
"You're talking this mission very seriously," Tom observes. That's an understatement. "The Kadi are easily offended," Neelix says. "The Captain's leaving their representative entirely in my hands while she's at the colony."
Tom gives him an encouraging smile. "I'm sure you're up to it, Ambassador." I hope so, Neelix says earnestly, and heads back to the kitchen.
Torres hasn't forgotten Seven of Nine. "She's watching us again." B'Elanna has that look in her eyes. Crewmen start to scamper. Tom tells her she's imagining things, but Torres doesn't think so. Tom calls after her, but B'Elanna leaves the table and marches over to Seven--leaving Tom to rub his temples, sigh deeply, and jump in when things get ugly.
As they are bound to.
CATSUIT CATFIGHT 99!!! LET'S GET RRREADY TO RRRRUMMBULLLL….
"Enjoying the view?" B'Elanna asks Seven with deceptive civility. Explain, Seven says. B'Elanna clips her words as she speaks. "You've been staring at us all night. In fact, you were following us yesterday when we were walking to Engineering--and the day before when I was waiting for Tom outside the shuttle bay!"
Seven of Nine doesn't deny it. "You are correct. I have been observing you. It's part of my research on human mating behavior."
Uh oh. B'Elanna's eyes begin to blink: RED ALERT RED ALERT. In the background, we can see Tom blush.
B'Elanna grabs one of Seven's PADDs and begins to read. " 'Stardate 52647, 1400 hours: subjects quarrel in corridor outside female's quarters. Male returns with 12 flowering plant stems--species rosa rubifolia--effecting a cessation of hostilities." (Translation: Tom brought her a dozen long-stemmed roses to apologize for their argument. No doubt his fault. It worked.)
So far, B'Elanna hasn't exploded--I'm impressed. She continues. " 'Stardate 52648 0300 hours: intimate relations resume...' "
B'Elanna actually crumbles the PADD in her hand like it was a piece of rice paper. Impressive. "How the hell do you know when we're having intimate relations?!?"
Seven responds with a perfect deadpan. "There is no one on Deck Nine, Section 12 who doesn't know when you're having intimate relations."
Oh, man. I laughed myself naked over that line. And I've already seen a dozen short stories and web sites devoted to Deck Nine, Section 12, so I know I'm not alone. This scene is destined for immortality.
Funny how, at this moment, both Paris and Neelix (bearing bland cheese) arrive in an effort to preserve life and limb. "Is there a problem?" Neelix asks, positioning himself between the women, as Paris takes his place beside and behind B'Elanna.
Torres is seething. "I want all the data you've collected!" But Seven of Nine, rising, says she hasn't completed her study. B'Elanna gets a look of malicious mirth on her face. "Then study this," she announces with deceptive calm. She even smiles, though it's the feral grin of a she-wolf about to disembowel a cougar. " 'Borg provokes Klingon. Klingon breaks Borg nose.' "
"B'Elanna!" Neelix is horrified. Torres looks at him. "Call Sickbay. Tell them there's about to be a medical emergency."
For his part, Tom looks almost as annoyed as B'Elanna, but he knows that discretion is the better part of valor. "B'Elanna, let's go have a nightcap," he says, taking her by the arm and hoping like heck she won't use him as a bludgeon to take out her aggressions on Seven.
Torres glares hotly at Seven of Nine. "This time you've crossed the line," she growls, allowing Tom to lead her away.
* * *
(Thanks to a Canadian viewer who provided the details of this scene, which was unseen by American audiences. As far as I know it's legit--I am NOT making this up, though I am guessing about the visual aspects of the scene. --Jim)
In Janeway's ready room, the captain is getting dressed in her formal uniform. Seven of Nine is here, looking as contrite as ever--which is to say, not at all.
"I read B'Elanna's report," the captain says. "Needless to say, I was surprised." Janeway's tone is stern, but her eyes are dancing. Her little Borg is growing up. And having taken a late night stroll or two herself through Deck Nine, Section 12, the captain knew one didn't need to be an intelligence expert to know what went on between her helm boy and her chief engineer.
"I was careful not to violate protocols," Seven says simply.
"That's not the point. This is a starship, not a nature preserve." (A shame, that. I'm sure "A Briefing with Neelix" would be wildly entertaining if it were . . . )
As Janeway puts the finishing touches on her appearance, she notices that she's accidentally demoted herself. "Oh! I'm missing a pip!" After a quick search, she finds is on the floor underneath her desk.
"You asked me to broaden my knowledge of human behaviour," Seven of Nine points out.
Janeway smiles at her indulgently. "I'm not questioning your goals, Seven. It's your method. You shouldn't be taking field notes on the crew." She hands her fourth pip to Seven. "Help me with this, will you please?" Seven does. (I haven't seen this, but I assume it's a lovely mother-daughter moment.)
"Have you ever considered trying it yourself?" Janeway asks. Seven of Nine looks at her questioningly. "Romance, I mean," Janeway says, clarifying.
Okay, so maybe it's something other than a mother/daughter moment . . .
Nah. I must be imagining things.
Seven brisles. "I do not require a romantic relationship."
Janeway just smiles at her indulgently. "So, why did you collect 30,000 gigaquads of information on the subject?"
To that, Seven of Nine has no answer.
Seven of Nine sits dutifully on a bed in Sickbay as Doc runs his medical scanners over her.
Her Borg nose, it should be noted, looks intact.
Doc pronounces her nice and fit. Complaints? he asks. None, she replies, a bit too abruptly.
He leans in conspiratorially. "I heard about the mess hall incident.""
Seven flinches slightly. "This crew can be very efficient at disseminating information--when they choose to be."
Doc smiles. "They say gossip travels faster than warp speed," he says, reciting it as an Eternal Truth. "So why were you studying Tom and B'Elanna?" Scientific curiosity, Seven says. Doc doesn't buy it. "Are you sure? Perhaps there's a reason that hasn't occurred to you. You're a woman, Seven."
Seven's eyes widen with--what? "Is that an observation or a diagnosis?" Seven says at last. Honey, ain't no cure for what you got. "A simple biological fact," Doc says, "with repercussions that are hard to deny." Seven steels her resolve. "What is your proposed treatment?"
Uh oh. Given the green light, Doc can't help himself. It's guinea pig time. "Perhaps you should consider expanding your research to the realm of--dating."
" 'Dating.' " Seven ponders the word. "You mean procreation." Doc smirks. "One step at a time."
He elaborates. "Dating is a human ritual wherein two people share a social activity--get to know each other. In time, it can lead to a romantic involvement--and eventually, if all goes well, even marriage."
"One step at a time," Seven says, eyes dancing. Hmm--maybe the Seven of Nine from Course:Oblivion isn't so different from our Seven after all.
Doc is excited about the idea of getting Seven into the dating world. "This could be an important stage in your social development. It's worth exploring!" Seven thinks about it, and decides she's game. She hops off the bed. "How shall I proceed?
"You mean, we." Naturally. "I'll prepare a lesson plan. Meet me on Holodeck Two in one hour. Most women start dating a little younger than you but better late than never."
Oh, gee, thanks, Doc. As if there's not enough pressure.
Busy as a bee, Doc flits away, leaving Seven alone to sigh, wondering what she just signed up for.
Janeway and Tuvok are in their best formal uniforms, and Neelix is dressed more conservatively than usual. They discuss the final details of Kadi cultural requirements.
"I missed this on my first pass through their database. Kadi monks only wash with purified water so sonic showers are out," Janeway says. Neelix has it covered; "I've already equipped his quarters with an ablutionary fountain built to their specifications." Tuvok mentions the eight daily services; Noted, Neelix says crisply.
"Show the ambassador our best side, Neelix. I don't want him going back to his superiors with tales of how immoral we are." (As long as they don't put the VIP guest quarters on Deck Nine, Section 12 . . .)
Into the transporter room they go. Tuvok gives the order, and a female crewman energizes. Two figures appear, both dressed from skulls to soles in solid colored, hooded robes, looking appropriately pious.
They've got their towels with them. Sass those hoopy Kadi! (Hitchhiker's Guide)
Neelix nudges Janeway to offer the ritual greeting. She steps forward. "Travelers who have left the sanctity of their home and family, we welcome you into our home...our family."
The elder of the two, the Kadi Ambassador, nods his greeting. "Accept these symbols of our purity and the goddess mother's blessing." The younger Kadi takes the pure white towels with the alien symbol and drapes one on Janeway's shoulder, the other on Tuvok's. (No towel for Neelix.)
Janeway introduces herself and Tuvok, then Neelix, who will be the shipboard ambassador. The Ambassador introduces his assistant, who he calls Tomin. "Tomin is an excellent judge of character. He'll help us determine whether your crew is worthy of receiving our minerals." Tomin nods serenely.
He's in very good hands, Janeway assures him. The Ambassador accepts this, and waves Janeway and Tuvok onto the transporter platform. "It is time to welcome you to our home." The three disappear a moment later, leaving Neelix to lead the way to the corridor.
Neelix does the full guided tour thing as they stroll the corridors. "Voyager's an Intrepid class Starship with a crew of 146" (for all the good it'll do, write this number down--oh, and it's a 47 too), "designed for long-term exploration. I thought we'd start with a tour of our primary systems. First stop--Engineering."
But Tomin has other ideas. "I was hoping I might sample a food item I noted earlier in your data files. 'hasperat'?" Neelix knows it--he blanches. "It's a . . . Bajoran dish. Very spicy," he whispers, almost to himself. Stammering, he continues. "I believe that your dietary protocols prohibit flavorful foods."
"I want to--broaden my palate while I'm here. In the interest of better understanding."
Well, that sounds reasonable, doesn't it? What's a little illicit Hasperat? And when it comes to broadening palates, nobody aims to please like Neelix. Still looking a little worried, Neelix nonetheless accedes. "In that case, first stop--the mess hall."
Holodeck Two is decked out for a slide show. Nobody can say Doc hasn't found myriad uses for his shutterbug habit.
Doc grabs the remote, smiling like the cat who ate the canary. "I've prepared an introduction. I call it Love Amid the Stars." He pops up the first slide, which shows the Milky Way in all its glory. It's a gorgeous shot, actually. It looks like a galactic Pac Man.
True to his word, he's titled his presentation: Love Among the Stars: A Romantic Bestiary.
Nobody emotes like Doc. "The Milky Way! Home to thousands of humanoid species and countless courtship rituals!"
[*Boop* Alien Love: Klingon] We see a snapshot of two Klingon warriors going for each others' throats. "Klingon males initiate courtship by biting the female." They must be in the early stages of their relationship; there is no nearby furniture to throw.
[*Boop* Alien Love: Bolian] "Here we see two Bolians getting to know one another." The two Bolians stand close together, blue heads inclined toward each other so they almost touch, resting their first two fingers on the carotid artery of the other--checking each others' pulse, it would seem. Seven of Nine twists her torso a little, as though to work out the kinks.
Doc continues. "The courtship rituals of some species remain shrouded in mystery. For example…"
[*Boop* Alien Love: Species 8472] We see two members of Species 8472 locked in what is either mortal combat or the Lambada, in a grassy field with pretty trees in the background. (Do they have Central Park in fluidic space?) "Species 8472 appears to have as many as five sexes. Bystanders better keep their distance," he says with a leer and a knowing chortle. Seven just rolls her eyes.
Doc coughs and continues. "Of course, the species you're most likely to interact with is human, so without further ado, Lesson One--'First Contact.' "
[*Boop* Lesson One: First Contact] We see a male crewman bent down to pick up a PADD from the floor of the corridor, while a smiling Female crewman looks over her shoulder at him. "There are any number of ways humans can meet prospective mates. Here we see the chance encounter.
[*Boop*] Next we see a politically correct slide of a redheaded male shaking hands with a blonde female as an Asian female and African male look on, smiling. "Equally common is the formal introduction. When first contact is successful romance quickly ensues and, in the happiest of circumstances, procreation." Doc is really warming to the subject now.
[*Boop* Lesson One: Procreation] "Here we see how Fortress Ovum is besieged by countless Little Warriors--" the slide is an Extreme Close Up of a large egg, toward which a few gazillion sperm cells are approaching. Doc casts his arms wide, rocking back and forth, pantomiming the fertilization process. It looks like he's embracing the egg.
Doc could get an NEA grant with this act . . .
Seven of Nine can't stands no more. "Doctor...I am familiar with the physiological processes of sexuality."
Doc looks disappointed, but quickly recovers. "Well...then, let's skip ahead to the first of the practical exercises. Lesson Two--Encounter in a Public Place. Computer, initiate holo-program Paris three."
The scene shifts. Away goes the big screen. In its place--
. . . Can it be? It looks somewhat renovated. No pool table. No Gaunt Gary. No bodacious owner who usually drapes herself over Doc like a symbol of Kadi purity. But even so, the woody interior, the cozy surroundings . . .
"Our location?" Seven asks.
"Chez Sandrine." It is! "It's on Earth, in a city called Marseilles. Ensign Paris whiled away a good portion of his Academy years here--no doubt to the detriment of his scholastic performance." Ah, Doc--you just wouldn't be you without a little gratuitous Paris abuse.
Doc guides Seven over to the bar. "Now, pull up a bar stool and pretend you've come here to meet the man of your dreams." Naturally, he has the encounter scripted--he hands her a PADD with her lines on it. It is school, after all.
But clearly not drama school.
"Hi, there," Doc reads.
Seven rolls her eyes, but proceeds. " 'Hello.' "
"Come here often?"
" 'this is my first time.' " I haven't seen line delivery like this since last weekend's USA Up All Nite. Blecch.
"You must be new. In town?" oy. "How do you like the south of France?"
Seven glares at Doc. " 'it is very quaint--exactly as I've always pictured. It.' "
"May I buy you a drink?" Seven breaks character. "I don't require a liquid supplement at this time." Denied. He urges her to give it a fair chance, but Seven calls it pointless.
"It may seem pointless, but small talk is a vital dating skill. It helps to establish a rapport with your companion."
Seven furrows her brow. "Perhaps there's something to be said for assimilation after all." Snicker. But Doc urges her to try again, with a real subject--he points to a guy reading by himself at a table clearly meant for two. Well, he's an extra, and holographic, but he's real enough for practice.
Seven hesitates, then agrees. "Very well," she says. She takes one last look at the PADD in Doc's hand for reference, than strides over to the table. Hands clasped behind back, looking more like the concierge.
"Hello," she says formally. The guy seems pleasantly surprised. "Hello." Seven forges on. "May I buy you a drink?"
He's already got one, but what the heck. "Uh...Sure. Steven Price," he says, introducing himself, extending his hand."
Seven takes it--and crushes his fingers like dried twigs. Steven Price gasps. He gasps until she lets go. "And...And you are?" he squeaks.
"Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct of..." Doc frowns. Seven thinks a moment. "You may call me Seven." Steven is surprised by the unusual name, the unusual outfit, and the unusually strong handshake (and she didn't even use the one with the exoskeleton…) He even looks beyond the ribbing he's sure to get from his friends ("Steven and Seven? BWAhahaha!") She's hot, and she's talking to him; that's all that matters for now. He offers her a seat.
Tom Paris chooses this moment to enter. He makes a beeline for Doc. "Looks like Sandrine's is under new management. Who deleted my pool table?" The first sentence is conversational; the second, accusatory. Tom seems a little surly today.
"Shh! School is in session," Doc warns. Tom smirks. "More social lessons?" To which Doc frowns. "Watch. You might learn something."
And darned if Tom doesn't. He learns that Seven can't even chat up a hologram programmed to respond well do everything.
Steven compliments Seven on her jewelry. "It's a Borg implant. I was a drone," Seven replies. Steven smirks; "Oh, so it's a family heirloom." He laughs, but Seven just stares at him until his laughter dies.
"Borg do not have families. They have unimatrixes." Poor Steven tries valiantly to adapt. "Well, in that case, why don't you tell me about your...unimatrix," he says, putting on a brave face.
Doc thinks it's all going rather well. Paris doesn't bother to argue. He simly points out the obvious. "He's a hologram."
Doc bristles. "Your point?"
Tom sips at his drink. "Well, you programmed him to interact with Seven. Real people don't respond the same way." Oh, I'm not so sure about that. Doc figures she'll be dating real people in no time, under his guidance.
Tom nearly chokes with laughter. "You're teaching Seven how to date? Talk about the blind leading the blind."
Doc whirls on him. "I've had my share of romantic encounters." Tom even helped with one or two. But he just grunts now. Doc frowns. "Are you implying that Seven couldn't get a date?"
"Are you kidding? Half the men on this ship would jump at the chance! But getting a date is one thing. Keeping it from turning into a disaster is another!" Ah, I smell a challenge. Doc rises to the bait, claiming every confidence in Seven's social skills.
"Well, fine," says Paris, raising the stakes. "Let's say you get her a date. This is the Holodeck. The cards are stacked in her favor." And we see how well it's going here. "But if you want to really put her to the test you have to do it in the real world where anything can happen."
Tom raises, Doc calls. "Mr. Neelix is hosting a reception for the Kadi ambassador on Thursday night. Not only will Seven arrive with a date, she will have him eating out of the palm of her hand."
Doc sets himself up, Tom knocks him down. "Put your latinum where your mouth is," he drawls. "If Seven brings a date to the reception, and leaves with the same date, on good terms, without causing a diplomatic incident? I will work double shifts in Sickbay for the next month." Is that a threat?
Nevertheless, Doc looks interested. "And if she fails?" I get a month off, Tom says, grinning, eyes dancing.
Doc accepts the bet. Sucker.
As a hint of things to come, we now turn to Seven of Nine, who is leaving Steven's table. "Where are you going?" Steven asks, perplexed.
"Our small talk is terminated," Seven says, leaving the poor guy hanging. She walks over to Doc. "I have mastered this exercise. We can proceed to the next." Oy.
Tom raises his glass in a toast. "If I were you I'd start looking for somebody to fill in for me."
Surprisingly, Seven doesn't say "Explain." It's one of those small oversights that seems like nothing at the time . . .
* * *
Neelix heads from the replicator to the groaning table on which food of every sort is piled. "One Ktarian pudding," Neelix announces.
The recipient, Ambassador Tomin, is shoveling down food and drink with both hands. Neelix practically loses a finger as Tomin grabs the pudding and starts slurping.
Tomin approves. "Mm-hmm. Ah. Mmm! Ah, the texture is so frothy. It seems to be evaporating in my mouth!"
"The recipe includes a catalytic agent designed to do just that," Neelix explains. Tomin continues making ecstatic noises.
Neelix reminds him that B'Elanna's been waiting for half an hour in engineering. Tomin, who seems far more interested in sucking the marrow out of life one replicated delicacy at a time, reluctantly hears the call to duty . . .
Only to notice the two comely female crew who enter the mess hall, chatting amiably in a far corner. He practically bites his lower lip. "In our society, males and females work separately. But I can see the wisdom of your approach. Promotes a more--stimulating environment."
Why, you randy young goat!
An alarm beeps. Neelix voice is two octaves higher than usual. "It's time for third prayer!" he reminds Tomin, his voice a plea.
But Tomin has other ideas. "Yes, it is. But I think I can forego this service and perform the appropriate penance later," he says, gazing intently at the two crewmen. "It's more important that I continue exploring your culture. Perhaps another dessert."
Neelix begins to whimper. The Janeway will not be pleased . . .
Seven is an early riser. She's already performing an inventory in Cargo Bay Two when Doc arrives. "Good morning. It's time for lesson three--'Getting to Know You.' "
"Elaborate," Seven commands.
"The key to finding a compatible partner is learning how to share your interests and goals. We'll start with hobbies. What do you do with your spare time?" Regenerate, Seven says.
"Uh-huh. Tell me about your tastes, your likes and dislikes!" Seven, who continues to work, says offhandedly, I dislike irrelevant conversations.
"O . . . kay. Which brings us to 'goals.' What do you want out of life?" Seven doesn't hesitate: Perfection.
I think Doc should add a lesson on realistic expectations. But Doc is nothing if not patient, at least with Seven. "Perfection is a laudable goal for oneself--but you can't expect it from others. I learned that lesson myself when I was first activated," he says, remembering his own painful early days of existence. "One of the ways I adapted was to pursue interests people could identify with. Holophotography, for example. Opera."
Seven perks up at the thought of opera. "Music does have intriguing mathematical properties." Doc is pleased. "Excellent! Perhaps we can mold this curiosity into an interest--something you can share with others." He brings up a simple musical sequence on a computer panel and urges her to try to sing it. She does--perfectly.
Doc is stunned. "Seven, has anyone ever told you you have a beautiful voice? It's a true gift!"
"The gift is from the collective--a vocal subprocessor designed to facilitate the sonic interface with Borg transponders." Interesting . . . but irrelevant. The important thing is, the girl can sing. Doc tries to give her something more challenging: "You are my sunshine."
And so she does. Her delivery flawless but unemotional, Seven belts out the words:
The other night, dear
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
Doc gives her praise, and advice. "Try putting a little more emotion into it. Like this." Doc's delivery is far more dramatic.
When I awoke, dear
I was mistaken
and I hung my head and cried.
Doc tells the computer to add instrumental accompaniment. We hear a piano and assorted strings. "On to the chorus. Together now." In unison, they sing.
You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine
You make me happy
when skies are gray
you'll never know, dear,
how much I love you
please don't take my sunshine away
Seven, standing at attention with her hands clasped behind her back in parade rest, sings prettily but without enthusiasm. Doc roams around the room, wiggling his finger like the band conductor, bobbing up and down, having the time of his life. He even changes his tune, providing a lovely harmony.
you are my sunshine,
my only sunshine
you make me happy
when skies are gray
Doc chooses that moment to look at Seven of Nine--and it is as though he is seeing her for the first time. Seven looks at him as well across the console. He stops singing, but she does not.
you'll never know, dear
Once more, Doc, with feeling . . .
how much I love you
please don't take my sunshine away.
The song over, Doc gives his pupil an encouraging smile.
But his eyes contain more than just a teacher's pride. They also contain the beginning of infatuation.
Seven is alone in Astrometrics, working busily at something. On the Big Screen is a large, three-column list of names.
Harry Kim enters, staring at a PADD. "Seven, I need the data from those last two Astrometric scans." In a moment, she tells him. Harry looks up to see what she's working on, and does a double-take. "That looks like the crew manifest."
"The Doctor asked me to pick a suitable candidate," Seven explains. For what? Harry asks. "Lesson ten--'the first date,' " Seven tells him.
Harry gets a big ole smile on his face. "Your...first date?"
"I narrowed the list to two crewmen based on work performance and compatible interests." Interesting. What's this--a date or a performance bonus? Harry smirks; "I didn't know you had any interests."
"Neither did I. But, apparently, they include astronomy, quantum mechanics and music." Harry grins. "I play the clarinet, you know," he says. And he's certain Chakotay would vouch for his bridge expertise--
"You are not one of the candidates, Ensign," Seven tells him.
Harry Kim, when the grin fell! On Ally McBeal, this would be the moment an animated Harry would be tossed into a dumpster. Ouch.
"Oh," Harry says, trying to hide his disappointment. "Well, maybe I could help you pick Mr. Wright."
Oh, wait. Typo. Dang.
Harry joins Seven on the upper platform in front of the Big Screen.
We get a list of the crew manifest, annotated. Each crewman, and Seven's reason for not picking them, is there.
And so on.
She pulls up the first finalist. "Ensign Bronowsky, assigned to the airponics bay. His work record is flawless and he plays the accordion."
Harry is ecstatic. Bronowski is a terrible choice. "Badly, very badly," he says of the ensign's accordion skills. Even better, "He's got no sense of humor."
Seven drop-kicks Bronowski. The other finalist is "Lieutenant Chapman, structural engineering." Harry looks bummed. "Chapman's a nice guy," he confesses.
Seven gets a dreamy sound to her voice. "We worked together on an away mission. He seemed--efficient."
(insert tenor sax music here.)
A fairly good-looking guy is working away up a ladder when the door opens. He can't see who it is, but in this part of the ship there are few visitors. "Robertson," the man shouts, "if that's you, I need an isolinear spanner."
"It is not." That isn't Robertson. But the man does seem to know the voice, and jerks convulsively at the sound of it. He bumps his head on a pipe, and accidentally kicks a tool through the ladderspace.
An exoskeletal hand reaches up and easily grabs the tool from the air.
"I apologize, Lieutenant. I didn't mean to startle you," Seven says.
Chapman looks down on the stately Borg. "No, my fault. You, um, need something?"
"Your presence is required...er, rather, it is requested. Tonight. 1900 hours, Holodeck Two."
Chapman looks down at her, curious. "Another engineering simulation?"
Seven's usual confidence is not at 100%. She usually gets her intent across the first time. Not now. It's the sort of invitation that sounds like it was extracted under torture. Nevertheless, she continues. "Dinner."
" 'Dinner'?" Chapman repeats, not quite sure he's hearing what he's hearing, from whom he's hearing it. Y'hear?
"The consumption of nutritional biomatter," Seven explains further. Chapman interrupts. " No, I--know what . . . dinner is. I just..."
A funny look comes over Chapman's face. A dawning epiphany. A dream come true. "Are you--asking me to . . . join you?"
Chapman is stunned to silence.
"State your response," Seven demands. Chapman finally manages to stammer out, "Okay. Yes."
"Please be punctual," she tells him. "I will," Chapman promises. "Thanks," he adds, softly, still in a state of shock.
Seven hands back the item he kicked through the floor. "A dropped tool can be a workplace hazard. Be more careful next time." That done, she exits the room, leaving Chapman at a loss for words, his tool in hand.
Doc beams when he sees Seven enter through the doorway. "Seven! 'Please state the nature of the medical emergency.' " he says, enjoying the private joke.
"I," Seven says, "have a date."
Doc's grin broadens with pride in his pupil.
* * *
(This is the other scene that I'm told aired in Canada but did not air in the U.S. thanks again to my Great White Northern source. Again--I'm going from the transcript, so if I get the feel of the scene wrong, my apologies.)
Tom Paris arrives for his regular duty in Sickbay. "Sorry I'm late," he says.
Doc is in a charitable--even expansive--mood. "It's quite all right. In fact, why don't you take the day off? Relax. Those double shifts are going to take a lot out of you."
This gets Tom's attention. "Oh?" Doc explains: "Seven of Nine has a date tonight. If all goes well--as I'm sure it will--he'll accompany her to the reception tomorrow."
Paris is clearly interested--his life for the next month hangs in the balance. He'll either have plenty of free time, or he'll be knee-deep in extra Sickbay work. "Who'd she pick?" he asks.
"Lt. William Chapman," Doc says, beaming. He's not prepared for Tom's reaction--a delighted belly-laugh. "Chapman!" He laughs again, then whistles with mock sympathy. "Good luck."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Doc demands.
Still grinning, Tom explains. "He's renowned for being nervous around women." So? Doc asks. Tom gives Doc an odd look. "Are you kidding? Seven's dominant personality will have him running for the airlock before dessert!"
Doc's giddy mood fades somewhat. His voice takes on a defensive edge. "Seven may seem intimidating, but that's only a reaction to the way people treat her. In fact, she's an efficient and charming young woman!"
Paris is incredulous. "Efficient--I'll give you that. But charming?"
"Most people don't take the time to look beyond her exterior!" Doc snaps. (Heck, most people don't have the time to look beyond her exterior . . . there's a lot of exterior to look beyond. And I mean that in the most droolingly complimentary way.) Doc gives Tom a ferinstance: "Did you know she has a lovely singing voice?" No, Tom admits. "But then again, I've never asked her to sing for me."
Doc's hackles rise. "What are you implying?" Tom snorts. "Sounds like you're getting a little infatuated with your star pupil," he teases. Absurd, Doc insists.
Tom just smiles. "Whatever you say, maestro." And with that, Tom leaves Sickbay.
Doc runs after him, shouting his innocence. "It was part of the lesson plan!"
But there is no response--and the look in his eyes suggest that Tom's words have more than a kernel of truth to them.
Seven is working away in her cargo bay when Doc enters. "You're meeting with him in ten minutes, Seven! Why aren't you ready?"
"I am." She looks like she always does, which is pretty darned good.
But Doc sighs. "Aren't we forgetting something? Lesson Eight! Dress for Success!"
Seven sighs. "My appearance is sufficient."
"Sufficient, yes--but you could use a little more...panache. Let's start by doing something different with your hair."
Doc reaches behind her head and undoes her iron bun. Fluffing it out a little, he puts his hands on both sides of her elegant throat and combs it through with her fingers. " I don't have much first-hand experience with this, but, uh . . . " The look she gives him while he does this is, um, captivating. Not even Doc could miss it.
He doesn't. "Try...Shaking your head a little bit." She does. Her shoulder-length blonde tresses have the perfect bounce.
"Is this more appropriate?"
Doc gulps loud enough to get an echo. "Yes." Time to change the subject.
"When I first designed your dermaplastic garment I also tried my hand at some casual attire. You might want to replicate one of these." He shows her (but not us) several options. Seven's game, wondering how to choose. Doc picks one.
Seven scrunches up her face. "I am uncertain how to wear such a garment." But she shrugs. "Assist me." She turns around and begins taking down the zipper on her unitard.
Doc--the same hologram who has kneaded the naked flesh of the ultra-tense Captain Janeway in "Scientific Method" and impatiently intruded on the showering B'Elanna Torres in "Drone"--picks THIS moment to get shy on us, depriving the audience of the Voyager Babe Nudity Trifecta.
I'm sure my landlord will be curious when she sees the remote control embedded in the wall. I'll just tell her it was one of those freak indoor tornadoes.
Seriously, though, I think it's sweet. His sudden shyness is yet another indication that Doc's in luuuuuuv, whether he realizes it or not. "Oh, I-I-I'm sure you'll manage," he says. "I'll go prepare the Holodeck. Remember, the idea is to have fun tonight. I'll expect a full report in the morning."
Doc backs away until he's safely on the other side of the door. Seven's eyes go wide, confused by his change in behavior, but returns her attention to the confusing Casual Friday attire.
Sandrines is hopping. Most of the tables are full. People are dancing. Doc is playing the piano, dressed fashionably in a blue turtleneck with tailored dinner jacket. At the bar, Chapman waits, nursing some quiche-eating drink with flowers in it, thus ensuring that a certain review boy will take Tom Paris' side and hope earnestly that the date turns out to be a disaster. He's not worthy of our Seven.
Seven enters, wearing a dress to die for. Blue, form fitting, ending about four inches above the knees but covering her arms to the wrists. The usual skyskraper heels.
She's got legs
She knows how to use 'em…
The whole room reacts to her entry. Chapman darn near swallows his straw.
Devil in a blue dress, blue dress, blue dress
Devil with a blue dress on
Seven strolls through Sandrine's, catching eyes with every step. She shares a meaningful glance with Doc, who smiles encouragingly, before stopping at the bar. Chapman is already standing.
Chapman gapes. "You--you look beautiful."
Seven considers her response. "Thank you. You look...Beautiful as well."
Chapman blinks. Blinks again. Decides to take it in the spirit offered. "Thank you." He laughs nervously, then extends his elbow. "Uh, would you like to sit down?" Seven looks to Doc, who nods--take it!
"Where is our designated location?" she asks. "Best table in the house," he says. "I wasn't sure you'd actually show up," he admits.
"I requested your presence." Chapman laughs. "Well, to be honest, I thought one of my friends had put you up to it." They take their seats near the fireplace.
I have only one burning desire
Let me stand next to your fire
Chapman offers her some champagne. Seven shakes her head. "Synthehol impairs my cortical function. Water will suffice." Oh. "Mind if I..." he asks, gesturing to the champagne like it's a life preserver. "Proceed," she finally says, understanding the need.
"I must admit I'm a little nervous," Chapman says, gulping his Ersatz Blanc '47 with a shaky hand. Elaborate, Seven commands. "Oh, um...Let's just say it's been a long time since I've been out on a date," he says. Seven shifts in her seat. "I've never been on a date. As a result I am experiencing anxiety as well." Chapman smiles. "Well, I guess that means we've got something in common." He laughs at his joke.
She doesn't join in. His laughs die off, ending in a pitiful sigh. Flowered-drink swilling weenie.
Chapman tries to signal the waiter, but this is a French establishment, holographic or not. Garcon ignores him. Chapman shrugs apologetically.
Seven stands. "Server, report to this station. We require your assistance." The music and all conversation stops; all eyes turn to the table by the fire.
But the waiter wastes no time approaching the table.
Doc rolls his eyes and resumes playing. It's gonna be a long night.
The main course arrives. Lobster for two. Big suckers. Seven looks at it, horrified.
"Problem?" Chapman asks. "This creature has an exoskeleton," Seven says, idly caressing her own exoskeletal hand, wondering what kind of carnivorous freak she's dealing with.
"It's a lobster," Chapman explains. "They're a delicacy on Earth. Try it." He tears off a claw to demonstrate. Seven casts her eyes to the piano, where Doc pantomimes cracking off a piece. Seven gives a what-the-heck shrug and picks up the whole lobster, splintering it with one mighty crack.
A half dozen pieces of exoskeleton and innards splash on Chapman. Oops.
The music stops again, but Doc recovers sooner this time.
Seven offers to replicate him a new garment (which, by the way, is 24th-century style--no collar, no necktie, plenty of breathing room. I like that century). Picking lobster pieces off himself, he suggests they order dessert.
Seven looks concerend. "You wish to accelerate our social encounter?" Chapman backpedals. "No. I didn't say that. I'm just, uh...I'm having a very...interesting evening." With a heavy sigh, he considers his options. Notices the music. Asks her to dance.
"That activity is covered in Lesson 35. I haven't reached it yet." Chapman sighs. "I'm not much of a dancer myself...But it might be fun." Seven acceeds. "As you wish." They begin to dance. Seven watches her feet, their bodies well over a foot apart. Their steps match exactly. Chapman urges her to relax. "Relaxation would disrupt my chronographic sequencer," Seven explains. "It allows me to maintain synchronous movement with the music."
"Okay, that's handy...but maybe you could ignore your chronographic sequencer and, uh, let me lead." Seven gives it a shot--and sure enough, soon they're dancing for real.
Having mastered the basic steps, Seven notices another couple performing a more complex maneuver--the female moves away from the male, performs a 360 degree turn, and returns to the male's arms.
She tries it. And dislocates Chapman's shoulder with a snap not unlike the cracking of lobster exoskeleton. Chapman goes down, wincing, and his arm falls limp.
Is there a doctor in the house?
"You are damaged," Seven observes grimly. Chapman, through gritted teeth, swears he'll be all right. Doc examines him and sends him straight to Sickbay. "Mr. Paris will treat you. No need to mention how this happened."
As Chapman is assisted to sickbay, he groans. "I had a great time, Seven. Let's do this again...S-someday."
Seven looks downcast. "I have failed."
"Nonsense. Even Romeo and Juliet hit a few snags at first." Oh, there's a comforting analogy. "Besides, Lieutenant Chapman's not the only lobster in the sea."
But Seven will not be consoled. "I wish to terminate our social lessons," she says. Doc refuses. "Just because you didn't achieve perfection your first time out doesn't mean you should give up."
Seven hops up on a barstool. "Dating is a poor means of interaction. There is far more efficiency in the way you and I communicate. We say what we mean simply and directly."
"You and I do have a rapport but we're colleagues," Doc reminds her. "We're not pursuing romance." No, Seven agrees--reluctantly.
"I'm certain you'll be able to master these basic skills in short order," Doc assures her. "My first date was certainly short," Seven grumbles.
Doc looks at her, amazed. "Was that a joke?" Seven shrugs. "Lesson Six--Beguiling Banter." Doc beams. "Now you're getting the hang of it!" He gets an idea. "Perhaps this evening doesn't have to end so abruptly. This may be a good time to cover Lesson 35--Shall We Dance?" He instructs the computer to play "Someone to Watch Over Me" with instruments only.
Doc is a more confident partner than Chapman. "We'll begin with some simple steps. Place your left hand on my shoulder and your right hand in my left. Now...follow me...one step at a time." He smiles at their inside joke.
They dance slowly at first. Seven looks way nervous. "Don't worry. I don't have any ligaments to tear," Doc tells her. They continue to dance. Doc leads her through the twirl. When they rejoin, they dance cheek to cheek.
For a long time.
* * *
Remember that cowled acolyte who bestowed the towels of purity on the shoulders of Janeway and Tuvok?
Well, his own shoulders are now draped by a pair of exotic, scantily-clad aliens. It's Sandrine's, so they're likely holographic. Tomin's own robe is half-open, exposing his hairless chest.
He's also staggering drunk.
Neelix arrives, and yelps. "Ambassador!"
"Neelix!" Tomin slurs. "My friend, my...Host...My...Savior! Neelix, I want you to meet, uh..." he points to the blue babe. "Alandra..." she laughs merrily, "And Tria," he says, pointing to the giggling other.
"What are you doing?" Neelix squeaks.
"I'm sampling yet another entree on the menu of pleasure that you have opened up for me." Oh, great. Janeway will love him for that.
Neelix manages to press a hot cup of black coffee into the Ambassador's hands and pry him away from his company. Tomin is late for his own reception.
Tomin doesn't go softly into that good corridor. "No coffee on our colony. Nothing to tempt the appetite of even the most weak-willed novitiate. Neelix! A confession! I am thinking of leaving the colony--joining Voyager. I want to throw off my vows and immerse myself in your wonderful culture!" He gesticulates wildly, dramatically, the board-treading theatrics of the well and truly drunk. "And I have you to thank," Tomin says to his New Best Friend in the Whole Wide Galaxy.
Seven is slaving away in Astrometrics when Doc arrives. "Hard at work?"
"My lessons have disrupted my duties," says Seven with a trace of bitterness.
"Then I suppose you're too busy to attend the ambassador's reception," Doc says. "My presence is not required," Seven replies--not without regret. True, Doc says, "But it might be an opportunity for you to apply your newfound social skills."
Seven perks up a little. "Lesson 11--Life of the Party."
Exactly, Doc says. "Join me?"
Seven perks up a lot. "Are you asking me on a date?"
Doc apparently hadn't thought of it that way. However . . . "I suppose I am," he says, surprising himself.
Seven's smile is reward enough. It goes right down to her deep, gray, sparkling eyes. "Then I accept. Is my appearance efficient?"
Doc smiles. "You look perfect." He extends an elbow. She doesn't need any help to take it.
Tom Paris regales Tomin with a slew of lame hologram jokes.
"How do you bend a hologram's ear? Use a prism."
"What did the counselor say to the hologram? 'You're projecting.' "
Tomin, soused enough to find even Pauly Shore amusing, laughs himself to exhaustion. "This humor...It's a revelation!" He grabs a drink whenever a waiter comes within reach. Neelix offers him some more coffee in a desperate attempt to sober the boy up. Tomin doesn't mind the stuff, so Neelix runs off to acquire some.
Chakotay accosts him en route. "Neelix...Is it my imagination or is our guest of honor drunk?"
Neelix begins to whimper. "Commander, I tried. I had an itinerary. I even set up a prayer dais in his quarters! But I just couldn't control him! The Captain is due back in the morning with the Kadi minister. What do I do?"
Chakotay looks over at the ambassador. "Pray," he suggests.
He's not joking.
Seven of Nine and Doc arrive, arm in arm. Tom frowns and moves to intercept. "Well, well, well. What do we have here?"
"Mr. Paris, I believe you know Seven of Nine--my date for the evening," Doc says by way of introduction.
"Oh, you don't say? Well, your last date ended up in Sickbay. I hope this one goes a little smoother." Low blow, helm dude. Doc chastises him for being insulting, but Seven takes it in stride. "It's all right, Doctor. I believe he is merely engaging in small talk." Tom nods.
"May I get either of you gentlemen a drink?" she asks. Paris asks for a gin and tonic with a twist. "You know I don't drink. I don't have the stomach for it," Doc says. Paris winces, but Seven smirks slightly. "A well-crafted joke, Doctor." With that, she disappears.
"Impressive," Tom says. "You've actually taught her to be polite. But don't think you've won our bet. She was supposed to bring a real date."
Doc frowns. "Photons and force fields, flesh and blood...why quibble over details? I'm just as real as any of you." Tom doesn't comment; he just frowns.
Tomin picks that moment to turn into a loud drunk. "Where is that funny man?" He ignores Neelix's efforts to sit him down. He catches sight of Paris. "There he is--there he is," he shouts across the room. "Ensign Paris, tell us another one of those hologram jokes."
Doc casts Tom a baleful look. "You've been stealing my material?"
"That guy's so lubricated he'll laugh at anything," Paris mutters. Meanwhile, Tomin staggers over. "There he is. The Ambassador of Humor," he slurs, with Neelix in tow, begging for help. Doc invites Seven to review "Lesson 23--Toast of the Town."
Seven does not flinch from the task. She takes a glass and knife and moves to the center of the room, tapping the two together. "Ladies and gentlemen, I require your attention. May cultural differences encourage us to build bridges of understanding. To all that makes us unique." She raises her glass, and receives an appreciative round of applause.
Tomin, cradling a quartet of beverages in his arms, is enchanted. "Who is that extraordinary female?" Seven of Nine, Neelix says. "I want to meet her," Tomin drawls. "Take a number," Neelix says. (Good one.)
Seven returns to the Doctor's side. "That was lovely," Tom says. Seven thanks him, basking in the glow of a job well done.
"I've got to admit it," Tom says to Doc, "you've done wonders. All right, you win."
Oh, Tom, don't do this . . .
"Win?" Seven asks.
"I know when I'm licked," he tells Doc. "You tell me when you want me to start those double shifts." Doc smiles; Seven has made excellent progress, hasn't she?
But Seven doesn't read this the same way. "You made a wager regarding me? Clarify." It's not what you think, Doc tells her.
"Um, don't blame him," Tom says, realizing he may have done something monumentally evil. "It was my idea."
But Seven of Nine knows there's plenty of blame to go around. "I believed your interest in my social development was sincere, not motivated by personal gain." The hurt in her face is evident, and growing more so by the moment. Doc protests that it was sincere, but Seven will have none of it. "Clearly, I am not the only one who requires social lessons. Thank you for a lovely evening." Her voice breaks near the end.
Won't leave with the person she came with. Check. Not on good terms. Check. Diplomatic incident . . .
Ah. Tomin's by the door, blocking her way.
Tomin grabs her arm. "Hey...why don't we go back to my quarters? I've studied human mating rituals."
Seven isn't in the mood. "Remove your hand--or I will remove your arm." She yanks her arm away and marches through the doorway, which closes behind her.
Tomin doesn't take rejection well. The music stops. "Did you hear what she said to me?! I am the guest of honor!" he rages. Neelix and Chakotay try to calm him, but to little effect. "No! I'm not leaving! I want another drink. I--"
Tomin collapses. His eyes roll back in his head. The boy is pure-dee pickled.
Diplomatic incident: check.
Guess Tom will get that month away from Sickbay after all.
Of course, when Janeway hears of this, he may spend it in the brig.
* * *
Since it was not expected that the Kadi would be sampling the more exotic fare on Voyager, they might be excused for not checking on this in advance.
As it turns out, the Kadi can't hold their synthehol. They don't have the enzymes for it in their bloodstream. Doc can synthesize the needed enzymes, but it'll take a few days--and Janeway returns with the chief Ambassador in the morning.
"Maybe he needs a cold shower," Tom suggests. Seven glares at him.
Neelix is worried about Tomin. "If his superiors find him like this he'll be banished from the colony and our trade agreement will go right out the airlock."
Tomin pushes himself up on one arm. "Oh, Seven of mine…" he drools.
Seven ignores him. "It may be possible to encode some of my nanoprobes to assimilate the synthehol molecule."
"Assimilate me!" Tomin begs, whimpering like a puppy.
"There may be some adverse effects," Doc points out.
"Please..." Tomin slobbers pathetically.
"But it's worth a try," Doc concludes. Neelix warns that the Kadi don't believe in unsanctified procedures. Paris counters, "I'd say he's already violated a few rules. What's one more?" Doc puts it to Neelix. "Either we treat him or he remains intoxicated. You're his caretaker--decide."
Neelix looks around the room, stares at the puddle of Kadi on the table, and back at Doc. "Nanoprobes."
Seven nods and moves to the other room to prepare the injection. Doc follows. "I owe you an apology," he says. She tells him nanoprobe extraction is no big deal. No, Doc says, "I'm referring to the...wager I made with Ensign Paris. I can see how you might have felt manipulated but I assure you that was never my intention."
"I accept your apology," Seven says, but clearly something has changed. That light in her eye is gone.
But Doc presses forward. "I want to make this perfectly clear so there's no room for misunderstanding. I asked you to go with me to the reception because I enjoy your company. In fact, over the last few days I feel as though we've..." he searches for the words. "Grown closer."
"Closer?" Seven asks.
Uh oh. This isn't going well. "We've become more than colleagues. We're...friends--" he has more to say.
"Friends." Seven doesn't. "Agreed." AAAAAUUUUUGGHH!!! Doc's face falls. "I should begin," Seven says. Of course, Doc says bravely.
While Seven works, Doc pulls Paris--still in his dress uniform--aside. "Mr. Paris...hypothetically...if one develops romantic feelings for another person how does one usually go about expressing them? It's for one of Seven's social lessons."
Tom contains his smirk. "Ah...Well, I recommend the direct approach. Tell the person how you feel."
"What if the feelings aren't mutual?" Doc asks. Well, says Tom, "that's the risk you always take." Doc isn't encouraged, but he takes it for what he can.
Paris considers his next words. "Why don't you tell her? Come on, Doc. It's obvious the Ambassador is not the only one in this room who's intoxicated." Doc protests (too much, yes.) "She's my student!"
Paris shrugs. "A hologram and a Borg? Stranger things have happened. Just look at me and B'Elanna." He leaves Doc with the thought.
The next morning, Neelix helps Tomin, now dressed in a manner appropriate to his station, walk toward the transporter room. The Kadi ambassador is nursing a hangover of epic proportions.
"Uh, could...Could we walk a little slower? . . . My throat feels like an ancient parchment. Can't we go back to Sandrine's for a refreshing glass--" Neelix guides him inexorably to their destination.
Tomin winces as the doors whoosh open. "Those doors...They're so loud!" Neelix explains that this is part of the hangover experience.
Tomin tries to stand still. "Neelix, I don't remember much of last night but...I imagine I might have said some things--"
Neelix gives him the script in sotto voice. "You spoke eloquently. Charmed the entire crew! Your reception was a success! Understand?"
Tomin rolls snake eyes. "Yes. Neelix, you've been most patient."
Neelix finishes adjusting Tomin's robes, then stands at attention. "Well, that's my job. And it isn't over yet," he mutters to himself.
The Captain, Tuvok, and the elder Ambassador beam in. Neelix assures the smiling captain that all's well.
The older Ambassador turns to Tomin. "There are many distractions aboard this vessel. You didn't indulge in any of their more...colorful traditions?"
Tomin reacts with shock. "Of course not!"
"We followed the itinerary that you approved to the last detail," Neelix assures him.
The Ambassador smiles. "Oh...Shame." Tomin blinks. "It isn't a violation to explore new experiences...As long as you don't make a habit of it."
Well, guess this proves it. Janeway IS "holier than the pope."
"I see your point," Tomin says, choosing not to change his story now.
The negotiations proceed as planned. Mission accomplished.
"Good work...Ambassador," Janeway says to Neelix, patting him on the shoulder. Neelix leads Tomin to the conference room.
Tomin manages one last opportunity to lean against a doorway on his way out.
In Cargo Bay 2, Seven finds something unexpected. A dozen long-stemmed roses, beautifully packaged.
The doors open. "Do you like them?" Doc asks, entering.
"Species rosa rubifolia," Seven notes, touched. "State your intention."
"I wanted to congratulate you on the latest phase of your social development. Why don't you read the card?"
" 'You are my sunshine.' " When Seven looks up, her eyes are three times their normal size. Ka-ching!
Doc presses on. "These past few days have been...Unforgettable. You've brought light into my life, Seven."
Seven's voice is a husky whisper. "You have developed romantic feelings for me."
"It's as if you've become a part of my program. When we're apart, I feel like I'm missing a subroutine! I don't expect you to reciprocate...but I wanted you to know how I feel."
Woo hoo! Way to go, Doc!
The door chimes. Seven and Doc both jump.
Doc speaks first. "Computer end program." Seven and the flowers, and the cargo bay, disappear.
What? This was a trial run? Ack!
Seven enters the Holodeck. "I wish to speak with you," she says.
Doc smiles. "What a coincidence. I...was hoping to speak with you as well." Regarding? Seven asks, keeping her distance for the moment. Doc considers speaking up, but chickens out at the last minute. "You first."
Seven approaches. Hands Doc a hand-held instrument. "What's this?" Doc asks. It's a medical tricorder, she explains. "I enhanced its scanning resolution by 33%. You once stated you desired a more efficient instrument." Well, really, who among us wouldn't?
Doc seems moved, but a bit confused as well. Seven explains. "It is a gift. Lesson 22--Thanks for the Memories."
Whump. Whump, whump, whump. Four large animated arrows pierce Doc's heart. That's gotta hurt. Doc's face falls. Seven notices, and looks concerned. "Is it insufficient?" Doc assures her, bravely, that it's very thoughtful.
"I chose to convey my gratitude because I no longer require your assistance. It's obvious there are no potential mates for me aboard this vessel." Oh, poor Doc. Poor Harry. Poor--well, pretty much everyone. "However, if I encounter a compatible individual in the future, I will again seek your guidance."
Doc does his best to stay brave. "Guidance. Of course."
"You said you had something to tell me," Seven reminds him. "I just wanted to say...the past few days...have been unforgettable. Thank you."
"You're welcome," Seven says. Off she goes.
A moment later, Doc manages to find his voice. "Computer, activate holo-program Paris Three."
Sandrine's returns. Suitable to the occasion, it's pretty desolate; few remain but the serving staff and cleanup crew.
Doc places the tricorder on the piano, and takes his seat. He begins to play.
Won't you tell her please to put on some speed
Follow my lead
Oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me.
This is one of the most laugh-out-loud funny episodes of Voyager in quite a while. Its strengths are found chiefly in the performances and the directing. The plot is pure "My Fair Lady," but the adaptation to Voyager's sets and characters still works, and some particularly memorable scenes add up to a satisfying, lighthearted hour of entertainment.
The focus of this story is on Seven of Nine and the Doctor, with prominent supporting roles by Tom Paris and Neelix and the alien ambassador Tomin. Doc and Seven were called on for a little "Sleepless in Sickbay" style romantic comedy. Tom plays the evil John Malkovich role from Dangerous Liaisons (boo, hiss). Neelix and Tomin are pretty much in Broad Comedy (TM) mode. (There were a pair of guest-starring Man Candy that were there chiefly as first-hand testimonial to Seven's social ineptitude. These scenes were a cross between romantic comedy and low-key slapstick, offering a counterpoint to the Doc/Seven moments.)
I was pleased by all the performances--even the smallest roles had a little more oomph than usual--but I found Picardo and Jeri Ryan particularly effective. We've seen "romance episodes" on Voyager that worked pretty well, and others that were about as romantically charged as a book on tape of the US Tax Code narrated by Ben ("Beuller? Anyone?") Stein.
Call it "When Hairless Met Seven." Or not.
First things first. The Plot--it's one of the Original Seven. When the first blue-green algae made that mighty jump toward sentience and started that whole evolutionary ball rolling, one of its first acts was to put on a production of "My Fair Lady." Fossil records confirm 200 million year old Australopithecan cave drawings that mirror the plot of "Pretty Woman." And so on. In short: it's nothing new. The bet, and the drunk, the early stumbles--they're all there. There's also parallels to DS9's "His Way," where a hologram (Vic Fontaine) intervened to get Doc and Kira together, using a holographic Kira at one point to help Odo improve his social skills. (I don't find the comparisons to "His Way" all that compelling, but I've seen several folks mention it, so I bring it up simply so I won't get a bunch of letters pointing out my "oversight.")
Which isn't to say there aren't some nice twists, or that the predictability of the plot makes the execution any less entertaining. We know Seven's first date will be a disaster; we just don't know in what ways. The details are true to her character, exploiting her strengths and her weaknesses to full effect. Same with Doc. It was the little moments--the impromptu duet in the Cargo bay; the subtle clues when Doc undid Seven's hair; the parallels between Seven's invitation to Chapman and Doc's to Seven; the different views of Sandrines; a dozen or so others. The images told the story as much as did the words. All senses were engaged. Music, images, the taste and smell of food (enjoyed vicariously through the Kadi ambassador), even touch (the tactile moments between Doc and Seven when dancing and when he loosened her hair).
Visually, I was impressed. The camera moved--it often doesn't. Director Robbie McNeill doesn't get many chances to direct, but he makes the most of each outing--and he outdoes himself here. (Speaking of double-duty -- Robbie (I hope I can call him that) is in the episode more than I would have expected since he was directing. But his role is pivotal, and his screen time is generally well-used. But oy, those Hologram jokes!) I don't have the training to give you the whys and wherefores of McNeill's directing genius--perhaps Heather Jarman can be persuaded to chip in with some comments. (Here's a snippet from Heather. "Think the final shot, the pan in the mess hall--he has a fluidity and almost lyrical quality to how he stages scenes. He [McNeill] could have made this very mean, very sarcastic--but instead, his character jabs were more gentle and self-deprecating. We were laughing with and crying with and cringing with the characters instead of at them.")
Performances were terrific. Picardo and Ryan and McNeill, and Phillips and guest star Scott (Kids in the Hall, Larry Sanders Show) Thompson, particularly distinguished themselves. But even Wang and Beltran and Dawson, whose screen time was quite limited, made the most of their moments. And the two guest stars who were brief, tragic objects of Seven's interest, were fully interactive in their scenes.
Music and Trek have always gone well together, and this week used that to good effect. Picardo and Ryan both have nice singing voices, and though Vic Fontaine has no need to fear, I still enjoyed the songs. And the song titles, a running gag in Doc's social lessons for Seven. Normally, they're humorous, but even this was twisted at the end into a poignant moment. Seven mentioning the lesson titled "Thanks for the Memories" told us everything we needed to know about what was coming next, even before we saw the look on Doc's face.
In this episode, Tom Paris is the antagonist. I have a theory--he's doing it with malice aforethought. Hear me out.
In the opening scene, B'Elanna discovers that Seven of Nine has been paying close attention to her, er, extracurricular activities with Tom Paris. She declares angrily that Seven has "crossed the line" and makes physical threats. We see some of Tom's reactions during that confrontation, and he doesn't look happy about his sex life being blabbed about in the middle of the mess hall, any more than B'Elanna does. But tellingly, we never see B'Elanna again. It stands to reason that if Torres wants to exact revenge, she might try for subtlety--which is definitely Tom's bailiwick.
We saw an awful lot of Tom this week. In Sandrine's, dissing Seven's social skills, goading Doc into making a bet, he seemed pretty combative. He set up conditions that he and B'Elanna, even after two years, would be hard-pressed to manage themselves--"leaving the recption with the one that brung you, on good terms, without causing a diplomatic incident." (Where was B'Elanna during the reception, hmmm?) Near the end, when Tom greeted Doc and Seven at the door, taking some pretty below-the-belt shots, later revealing The Bet that ruined the evening.
Not exactly the sort of pro-relationship Tom we saw in "Gravity," eh?
There are two possibilities. Either B'Elanna put him up to it, or he is going freelance. If the latter, it could either be because he feels as violated, humiliated, etc. as B'Elanna does for having his sex life blabbed all over the ship.
Or--my favorite explanation--B'Elanna's in such a bad mood right now that . . . let's just say that the folks in Deck Nine, Section 12 are enjoying a rare streak of uninterrupted nights' sleep. And Tom is climbing the walls with unrequited passion. He can't even use the Holodeck; Doc has commandeered his Sandrine's program, and even deleted his beloved pool table and cast of seedy characters. Someone must pay, and Doc and Seven seem juicy targets. Whatever his reasons, though, Seven of Nine's first date--and a promising Doc/Seven romance--got nipped in the bud because Helm Boy stomped the infant relationship like he was the Lord of the bloody Dance.
Not that Tom is unrelentingly unpleasant. He redeemed himself a bit toward the end, when he encouraged Doc to tell Seven how he feels, and points out that there are stranger pairings than a Borg and a Hologram--"Just look at me and B'Elanna." Perhaps there was some contrition there--he might have been a bit unkind, but when he realized that Seven was truly hurt by The Bet, he backed off. (Doc deserves his own share of the blame for taking the bet, though in his defense he was wagering out of confidence in his pupil. Nevertheless, when Seven says she's not the only one who needs some refresher courses in social graces, she hits the mark--both Doc and Tom bit the wax tadpole on that one.)
Color me an optimist--I hope they don't end the Doc/Seven saga here. There's some genuine chemistry there, and I'd love to see Doc try again, or at least cast the occasional longing, tragically yearning look in her direction. Or see Seven look for love in all the wrong places, and cry on her "Friend" Doc's shoulder. The ending was discouraging for an old softie romantic like me--in real life, the supermodel often ends up with the non-hunky guy. Of course, most of them were musicians, too. What's Rick Ocasek got that Doc ain't? The way I see it, this was the opening salvo. If they want to pursue it further, I for one would approve. I wouldn't want an overnight solution--it took Tom and B'Elanna nearly a year between Tom's first "wanna go out?" to B'Elanna declaring her love.
Some other elements I enjoyed. Doc's slide show, "A Romantic Bestiary," was hilarious. Doc's interpretive dance to the fertilization of the ovum--what was that phrase again? I laughed myself naked. The opening scene where Seven reveals that there isn't anyone on "Deck Nine, Section 12" who doesn't know when Tom and B'Elanna are doing the old Maquis Shuffle--I lose it every time I replay that scene. (I laugh even harder when I read this story by DangerMom and Miranda Kelly, a PG-13 tale of what keeps those folks on deck nine, section 12 up nights.)
There was an interesting element used here--the almost seamless transitions between "real life" and "holodeck life." Almost. Doc was in remarkable control of his environment through much of the episode--in Sandrines, he was the master of his domain. He swept even the real Seven off her feet. It was only in the (as Tom said) unpredictable, anything-can-happen real-life mess hall, where Doc lost Seven. Later, in the Holodeck, it looks like he might have succeeded in making the save--but only because it was a simulation. The real Seven arrived in the middle of his preprogrammed reverie to douse his hopes--and he immediately runs back to Sandrine's for a little musical therapy.In this regard, "Someone" has some pretty strong parallels to "Hollow Pursuits," the TNG episode that introduced us to Lt. Barclay. In that episode, it seemed scandalous to use fellow crewmen in one's private holoprograms. Then Georgi got caught with the holographic Leah Brahms by the real Leah Brahms. There may be good reasons to do it--practice, for example. But being caught has got to be humiliating, for all concerned.
The B plot, with Ethan Phillips and Scott Thompson, amused me greatly. Thompson, the flamboyantly gay Kid in the Hall, plays it straight here--literally. Thompson threw himself into the role, going over the top more than once--but that is what the episode called for. Tomin can't get enough of the ladies, slobbers drunkenly over "Seven of Mine," and so on. Neelix, as the hapless guide who finds his charge more and more difficult to control, gets to show off his stellar comic instincts.
I've heard some complaints from folks who were mad that Seven's "short list" of potential suitors consisted strictly of white males. (Not only that, they were corporeal, humans, tall and in good shape and more or less easy on the eyes. If this were a government contract I'm sure Seven would have been hearing from a brigade of civil-liberties attorneys with restraining orders and personals ads.)
Let's put this in perspective, people. This episode was not about bold social statements. It was about getting Seven of Nine and The Doctor together, however briefly. The ballyhooed "first date" was destined to be a disaster, thus pushing Doc and Seven toward each other. We will likely never see the hapless Lieutenant Love (Chapman) again. The Delaney sisters were not going to make the final cut; it would have upstaged the main story, and would therefore have come off as a cheap stunt that would have satisfied nobody.
As for the racial issue, I wouldn't have complained either way. But let's face it--on the good ship Voyager, everybody, including the aliens, sounds like they were raised from infancy by the diction instructor at the UCLA school of Dramatic Arts. Seven has spent the last two years getting pursued and pined after by Harry Kim. Tuvok is one of her closest colleagues, and if he weren't married would rank high on my list of folks she should consider. Until Captain Proton and the Delta Flyer came along she spent more time with Chakotay than with Tom Paris. The only white guy she spent any substantial time with was a hologram whose appearance is not only arbitrary, but configurable. In Infinite Regress we saw a sampling of the people she's assimilated--it's fair to say she doesn't discriminate.
In short: I wouldn't read too much into it.
All in all, I've got to give this episode high marks. It was wildly entertaining, but went beyond mere fluff and managed to strike an emotional chord. There's melancholy and music to complement the madness.
On a 0-4 scale, I'm giving it a (* * * *).
Next week: Janeway roots around her family tree.