Category Archives: 2000

“Flesh and Blood”

Have Voyager send over the holodeck cleaning crew.

Voyager comes across a Hirogen space station where holographic prey rose up and killed almost all of their oppressors before escaping. Realizing that the holograms were the result of holographic technology Voyager gave the Hirogen back in “The Killing Game”, Janeway decides to help the Hirogen hunt the holograms, who are made up of recreations of Alpha Quadrant races. They steal the Doctor’s program, and initially convince him to join their cause — to the point where he betrays Janeway to help their ship escape. In the process, the hologram leader Iden (Jeff Yagher), a recreated Bajoran, abducts Torres to complete a self-sustaining holo-generator that he plans to put on a planet that humanoids can’t live on. The Doctor goes back and forth as far as believing Iden until he finally sees Iden wants to start a religion with him as a messiah and after he kills two innocent people and then — in the episode’s most over-the-top moment — sets up the Hirogen to be hunted by the holograms. Eventually, the Doctor kills Iden (using the largest gun I’ve ever seen on Star Trek) and Janeway lets the other holograms go on their way.

Why it’s important

Well, we’ll start with the good. This episode does pave the way for the hologram rights stuff that’s the biggest continuing plot line in season seven. We’ll see more in “Author, Author” in our next review. Beyond that, it’s good (if you don’t think about it too hard) that the Hirogen pop up again and Janeway’s decision back in “The Killing Game” is shown to have some bad consequences. Looking back, we probably should have reviewed that two-parter. Oh, well.

In the name of the programmer, the code and the holo emitter…

What doesn’t hold up

The biggest problem is that the Hirogen shouldn’t be anywhere near Voyager at this point. The Hirogen aren’t shown to have transwarp capabilities (they come across as primitive in many ways) so it’s unlikely that Voyager — which has moved about 30,000 light years since we last saw the Hirogen in season four — would be in Voyager’s current flight path. But, then, this is Voyager, so I should probably just shrug it off.

Beyond that, the episode takes Iden from an interesting and multi-layered half-villain to a megalomaniac to a revenge-thirsty bore. I could have swallowed the idea that he thinks he should be the center of a new religion, but it would have been more interesting if he had been somewhat forced to send the Hirogen to the planet, where the holograms would have fought them. The irony should have been that he had to make the hunters become the hunted, as opposed to him getting his jollies from it.

Janeway also sort of washes her hands of the situation too easily as the episode ends, particularly as torn up and dead set she was about fixing things earlier. With Iden gone, she sort of leaves the holograms with the recreated Cardassian engineer Kejal (Cindy Katz) in charge. There’s no real guarantee that Iden was the only problem (the episode sort of shows that he wasn’t) and that the Hirogen will actually stop hunting them (despite some fast talk from Neelix that is viewed as a solution).

In a couple stray items, it was ridiculous that the holodeck recreation included a Borg drone, who apparently works with the other Alpha Quadrant holograms. And there’s a weird line from Chakotay in part one about how trading technology is something Voyager had to do to survive in the Delta Quadrant. Must have been a directive after the Kazon years …

Scanning action movie quip database… “Say ahhh!” “The doctor will kill you now!” “This won’t hurt me a bit, can’t say the same for you!”

Final thoughts

There’s some good stuff here, mostly because Janeway does some important self-reflection and because Picardo, Mulgrew, Dawson (in good interchanges with Picardo and the holograms) and Yagher, in his portrayal of Iden, bring their A games. I’d even say it was a very good episode, despite the continuity issues, if not for Iden’s trip into goofiness as the episode ends.

Coming next week …

More holographic rights in our second-to-last Voyager review.


“Unimatrix Zero”

“Trust me, we were totally having a Unimatrix Zero fling. You don’t remember but you had a thing for vaguely lumpy foreheads.”

Seven is pulled into a dream world where a small percentage of Borg — including Seven, prior to her escaping the collective — can live as individuals while regenerating. The sort of safe zone is called Unimatrix Zero, and it’s populated by Borg who in real life are scattered across the galaxy (a cool concept, FWIW). Axum (Mark Deakins), the sort of leader within the realm, apparently had a romantic relationship with Seven back in the day, and needs her help now in the real world as the Borg queen (Susanna Thompson) is closing in on the sanctuary. Janeway agrees to help Axum’s group, as they’re in distress and because she hopes that waking the drones in the real world could start a Borg resistance movement (hmmm). Then, things go really off kilter as Janeway, Tuvok and Torres go aboard a Borg ship with the idea of being assimilated (yes, you read that right). While they look like Borg, the Doctor has equipped them with “neural suppressants” or something that keeps their individuality intact, and they’re able to unleash a pathogen developed by Axum (where and how he did this is never explained) that starts waking the drones from Unimatrix Zero in the real world. Eventually, Chakotay is able to rescue the away team with the help of a “rebel” Borg sphere led by a Klingon from Unimatrix Zero. But the safe zone — and Seven’s connection to Axum, who is on the other end of the galaxy — must be sacrificed. Back on board Voyager, Janeway, Torres and Tuvok are (FAR, FAR too quickly) recovering and Seven and Janeway discuss the possibility that the rebel Borg could have a lasting impact on the collective. One guess as to whether it actually does …

Why it’s important

Well, Voyager’s interactions with the Borg in the final four seasons are all pretty important. This episode at least teases the idea that Voyager might be destabilizing the collective with its actions. More on that, of course, in a moment.

As a side note, Paris regains his rank as lieutenant in part one after being reduced to ensign back in the underrated “Thirty Days” in season five. Sadly, this appears to be a way for Paris to be Chakotay’s de facto first officer while Janeway et. al are on the Borg ship posing as drones in part two. It almost feels like the dialog between Paris and Chakotay in part two was being written and one of the creators looked up and said, “Wait — we made Paris an ensign a couple years ago. Better change that!”

Janeway reflects upon the doctor’s miracle follicle stimulator, and wonders if her skull got bronzed while she was assimilated.

What doesn’t hold up

Well, let’s start with “posing as drones” idea. What absolute and unmitigated stupidity. Janeway, Tuvok and Torres could have easily lost an arm, an eye, a leg, etc. And the fact that the Borg queen isn’t immediately concerned that she can’t hear their thoughts after they’ve been “assimilated” might be the biggest stretch in the history of Voyager — and that, my friends, is quite a statement. As soon as the three were “assimilated,” the queen should have either been able to read their thoughts — which would have allowed her to know their plan and stop it — or she should have realized that the “neural suppressant” was keeping her from having that knowledge and done something about it. You just don’t go undercover on a Borg ship, folks. It should NOT have worked.

Keep in mind that the queen does eventually get through to Tuvok — when the suppressant wears off — but for whatever reason, his knowledge of the plan that she should have accessed doesn’t allow her to stop Janeway and Torres. Of course, the queen DOES get Tuvok’s command codes, and uses them to disable Voyager. Somehow, Chakotay and the gang didn’t have the good sense to change those codes upon the away team’s departure — which seems to have been common procedure in similar situations, dating back to TNG (see “Gambit”).

What nonsense. We’ve not been too kind to Voyager on this site, but it REALLY got into comic book territory in seasons six and seven. Continuity was disregarded, logical stories became harder to come by and Janeway became absolutely reckless. Since the middle of season five she 1) Threatened to kill a Starfleet officer for information and offered to trade another Starfleet ship for Voyager’s safety 2) Stole a Borg warp coil and put the entire crew at risk to save Seven in the process and 3) Allowed herself, Tuvok and Torres to be (essentially) assimilated. And those are just the ridiculous items off the top of my head.

Someone reading this is getting mad and thinking that, in each case, Janeway’s plans worked. And that’s true — because the creators can make them work by disregarding continuity and basic logic. Janeway’s “victories” over the Borg all serve to defang one of Trek’s best enemies. The Borg queen — admittedly, a goofy concept introduced during “Star Trek: First Contact” — becomes the embodiment of this, as she appears more like a mustache-twirling Klingon/Cardassian/Kazon than the center of an absolutely implacable foe.

And, of course, the Borg civil war amounts to absolutely nothing after this episode, as the collective seems just fine and dandy when we see them later in season seven. What garbage.

Shame, creators. Shame. It’s not that Voyager couldn’t be compelling and watchable. It’s just that the creators came across as lazy, unambitious and short-sighted, especially as the series wore on. Hell, even Robert Beltran called them out on this in the final season.

Final thoughts

I think we’ll leave it at that.

Coming later this week …

A (logically flawed) nod toward continuity and a good performance by the always watchable Robert Picardo.

“Life Line”

This disease has changed Zimmerman’s hair, removed his memory of traveling to DS9, and had profound effects on his personality.

Starfleet, working through the Pathfinder project, establishes regular contact with Voyager every 32 days. The Doctor gets a letter from Barclay telling him his creator, Doctor Lewis Zimmerman (also played by Robert Picardo) is dying of some weird illness. The Doctor convinces Janeway to send him to the Alpha Quadrant to use some of his mad Delta Quadrant skillz to treat Zimmerman. Upon arrival, Zimmerman is an old crank and the Doctor can’t get through to him. Barclay calls on Deanna Troi — was Marina Sirtis really hard up for a paycheck in 2000? — who stops by to help, yet again. After that doesn’t work, the Doctor’s matrix starts failing, forcing Zimmerman to fix him — and then, the Doctor saves Zimmerman. Of course, it was a ploy cooked up by Barclay and Troi, but the Doctor heads back to the Delta Quadrant having formed a sort of bond with his creator.

Why it’s important

The big picture item is that Starfleet and Voyager now have REGULAR contact. That’s a huge deal that will play out throughout the rest of the series. The Doctor/Zimmerman plot, while not bad, is really secondary as far as the tapestry is concerned. Interestingly, this episode was co-written by Picardo.

She’s just here for the ice cream! Or maybe the paycheck.

What doesn’t hold up

The biggest problem is that Voyager changed the Zimmerman character from the last and only time we actually saw him, on DS9’s “Doctor Bashir, I Presume”, in which Zimmerman travels to DS9 to consider using Bashir as a template for a new EMH and acts an awful lot like Voyager’s doctor. The thing with Bashir doesn’t pan out, but Zimmerman, in the episode, is portrayed as a crank and recluse who is very different than the guy we met on DS9 — and don’t get me going on Zimmerman saying he hasn’t left Jupiter Station (where he lives and works) in more than four years, when he traveled to DS9 about three years earlier. Why, Voyager? Why? You don’t need to be this sloppy. Why not just say “almost two years” instead of “more than four years”?

Bigger picture, this is just classic Voyager — in which the creators THOUGHT they needed to disregard continuity for good drama. Sure, you could argue that making Zimmerman a crank makes him more of a foil for the Doctor. But, really, it just comes across as sitcom fodder. A more complex relationship between the two could have been done with Zimmerman’s stated motivation (EMHs like the Doctor were considered failures) without making him seem like the neighbor in a ’70s comedy. Worse, Robert Picardo (playing double duty) almost pulls it off, but the episode just comes across as too ham-fisted. There’s a throwaway line about how Zimmerman’s condition is affecting his personality — but that’s a real stretch.

Finally, one wonders about the Voyager crew members who had to sacrifice their first letters home in years because of the Doctor’s trip to the Alpha Quadrant. And I guess it was a good thing that no medical emergencies happened in the month between transmissions. Tom Paris, M.D., to the rescue?

Oh, and this is the second of three Voyager episodes that Sirtis shows up on in about a year. It really comes across as the creators throwing her a bone/paycheck.

“Are you sure that’s the right Doctor Zimmerman?!”

Final thoughts

I did like the scene in which Janeway and Chakotay discuss how to respond to a Starfleet query about casualties the crew has encountered, their overall journey and the Maquis. It was a necessary discussion — one that wasn’t had in “Message in a Bottle” when there really wasn’t time — and one that, of course, is never followed up on. One thing’s clear: Continuity in Voyager got worse as the series dragged on. And that’s saying something.

Coming next week …

Can the Borg dream? And, if they do — can they dream of a civil war that will have no lasting effects? Well, it’s Voyager, so you betcha.


This is step 13 of the 12-step program to beat holodeck addiction.

Back on Earth, our old buddy Lt. Barclay (Dwight Schultz) is struggling with his life since leaving the Enterprise. He’s working on a big project aimed at establishing contact with Voyager — and he’s also recreating the crew on the holodeck, a throwback to his holodeck issues back when we first met the character in TNG’s “Hollow Pursuits”. Deanna Troi visits him to help, and he tells her about his efforts to defy orders and use an unorthodox approach to make contact. After some drama involving Starfleet and Admiral Owen Paris (Richard Herd) — Tom Paris’ father — Barclay goes against orders with his method and eventually makes brief contact, offering a glimmer of hope to the stranded Voyager crew. He also saves his career in the process.

Why it’s important

As Voyager wound down as a series, contact with the Alpha Quadrant became more commonplace. Of course, the fact that Voyager was still out there was passed on in “Message in a Bottle” two seasons earlier, but this episode provides more hope for Voyager’s safe return. Later in the sixth reason, regular monthly contact will be established.

Now we know why Tom turned into a lizard in ‘Threshold’ — it runs in his family!

What doesn’t hold up

There’s really only one flaw in this episode’s logic, and it’s that Starfleet would have any idea about Voyager’s location since “Message in a Bottle”. The ship has jumped ahead a few times — 10 years in “Timeless”, 20 years in “Dark Frontier” and smaller jumps in “Night” and “The Voyager Conspiracy” —  so one would expect that Barclay and Starfleet wouldn’t be looking for Voyager where they found the ship.

That said, the only other problem here is that Voyager’s best episodes often involve going outside the normal routine of the ship itself — sometimes by showing Alpha Quadrant happenings or by having episodes that are what-if scenarios (like “Timeless” and “Living Witness”). It’s almost as if the way the creators decided that the frame for the series didn’t work that well (huh) and that they occasionally would have to set up situations that didn’t fit in the normal framework to be more compelling. One wonders why the creators didn’t just pitch that framework (other than adding Seven of Nine to the cast, in season four) and try to do something different in a bigger-picture way.

“Let’s celebrate our first good episode in a long while!”

Final thoughts

Schultz and Marina Sirtis do a nice job in this episode, and it’s totally understandable and in keeping with the Barclay character that he would relate to the Voyager crew’s loneliness. That he becomes a recurring character over the next season and a half — even playing an important role in the series finale — is significant and also telling. Granted, Worf and O’Brien were directly taken from TNG to DS9, so the practice here wasn’t unprecedented — and it isn’t totally problematic. But it is interesting that with such a wide array of characters and a strong cast (as much as the Janeway character is portrayed poorly, Kate Mulgrew was rarely the problem) the Voyager creators needed to pull from TNG.

Coming later this week …

More from the Alpha Quadrant. More Barclay, more Troi and twice the Robert Picardo.