The usual. It's Paramount's playground; I'm just borrowing the equipment. Any resemblance to products, productions, novels, television shows, films, characters, public figures, celebrities, bodily fluids, et al., is purely intended for entertainment purposes.
These reviews are long, highly opinionated, and prone to digressions. They retell each episode from beginning to end in excruciating but dubiously accurate detail. If you haven't seen the episode yet and want to be surprised, run away.
But some people seem to like them, and if you don't mind your Trek with some tongue-in-cheek running commentary, hop on the fun bus and join the crowd, because Fatherly Uncle Jim's in a storytellin' mood.
Doc goes from flash photography to flashbacks.
Jump straight to the Analysis
We see a parade of crewmen silently-if not always patiently-following the directions of the Doctor to turn to the left, turn to the right, that's it, now hold. Click. It's Yearbook day in Sickbay, and Doc's manning the InstaMatic. Face the camera, say cheese, Snap, click, watch the birdie...
Doc's photography habit has apparently reached a whole new level.
But the shutterbug meets his match with Naomi "Squirmy" Wildman. "Is it going to hurt?" She asks nervously. Of course not, he assures; her; "A few photons never hurt anybody."
"We didn't do this last year," she says, stepping out of the shot, compelling Doc to reposition her.
"That's because last year, I didn't realize what an exciting tool my holo-imager could be in the pursuit of medical knowledge."
Naomi again steps out of the spot Doc has so carefully placed her, face scrunched up with concern. "Is something wrong with me?" (Nothing a little Ritalin wouldn't cure...)
Doc's sigh alerts the Golden Globe judges. "Your health is excellent," he says, entering the camera's field of view and repositioning her. "This is just another way to make sure that it stays excellent," he says, lining her up just so.
"Does my mother have to do this?" Naomi asks. "Your mother and everybody else on board," Doc says. "I made it part of the annual checkup. It's quite handy, really. By attuning the resonance spectrum along a subspace band I can take an image of my patients all the way down to the subatomic level."
Naomi jumps out of her skin. "Subatomic level? I thought you said this wasn't going to hurt." Again she steps out of the crosshairs, eliciting an award-winning groan from Doc.
"I did...And it won't."
The next thing we know, Doc is lining up for his own picture, on his knees, to simulate Naomi's height. "There...See? Nothing to it."
Naomi peeks out from behind the camera. "Try to hold still, please," she says with an impish grin.
Doc's eyes twinkle through his Offended Look subroutine 2F."Are you making fun of me?"
Naomi Wildman, the most adorable dang kid in the Delta Quadrant, merely shrugs, as her mouth slowly crinkles into a smile.
Doc shows Harry Kim the next stage in the process. "It'll only take a second to download your images into the medical database. If you'd like to stay for a moment and see what you look like from the inside out . . ."
Harry smiles. "Why not?" Man; and I thought my social life was lacking.
Doc presses the button. A figure begins to emerge into thin air-first a skeleton drawn as though by magic. (If this were Ally McBeal, he'd be done now.) Then the skeleton is filled up with internal organs. Then covered by muscles. Then by skin. Then by a uniform.
Soon, we have a three-dimensional, subatomic reproduction of Harry Kim. "Handsome fellow," Harry remarks.
But this is medical science as well as art. And Doc is eager to do show off the practical applications of his new toy. He runs a tricorder over the snapshot.
And-gasp!--finds something unexpected.
"Hmm. There's some scar tissue along the base of your lower skull. Computer, isolate the occipital plexus, magnification 500." Harry's image is overlaid with a translucent, blown-up section of his skull (very cool effect). "There. Scarring along the dura mater," Doc says, curious.
"From what?" Harry asks, eyes narrowing. This is news to him as well.
"An operation," Doc says, perplexed. (Hurry up and end this scene-I'm running out of synonyms!) "Computer, isolate the cranial meninges, magnification 100." The overlay changes again, and a (oh, man, last one!) befuddled Harry gets an interior view of his own neck. "More scarring. No doubt about it--somebody performed neurosurgery."
Doc's...um, macdaddiment grows. "And that somebody...was me! These microlinear incisions are a dead giveaway. I developed that procedure myself. " Harry, er, snickpiddled, says he doesn't remember having an operation.
Doc's eyes widen with gaspidacity. "I'm a little confused as well...Because I don't remember performing it."
("Dear Mr. Roget...")
* * *
Janeway kicks back at her desk in her ready room, poring over a PADD. She takes a mighty swig of hot caffeine goodness from the second largest java mug in the Delta Quadrant, the anti-grav units whirring courageously under the steamy liquid burden.
The door beeps, and Janeway groans when the Doc announces himself. She knows what this means. "Come in," she moans, banging her head against the desk a few times.
Doc enters, big grin on his face and a bunch of medical tools in hand. "I've finished giving the crew their annual physicals. But as usual, the Captain was a no-show."
Janeway accepts her fate with all the class one would expect from any captain cornered by their relentless CMO. "Let's get it over with," Janeway says, never relinquishing her grip on either PADD or coffee.
"Specific complaints?" Doc asks conversationally, giving her a thyroid check, cupping her heroic jaw in his palms.
"None," Janeway responds, voice clipped. "How's the crew?"
"In good health, for the most part," Doc says, cheerful, chatty, tapping her on the back a few times. "I found a nascent alien retrovirus bouncing between personnel on decks 10 and 11, but managed to nip it in the bud," he says with a pleased smile, indicating she should turn her head and cough. "And there's been a little more wear and tear on Seven of Nine's cranial infrastructure. I'm going to double her maintenance routine." He rams a bright light down her throat, into her eyes, up her nostrils, in one ear and out the other. Heartbeat, check. Pulse, rapid but routine. Blood pressure-escalated, but that could just be the coffee. (If you prick her, does she not bleed mocha?)
Doc's scans proceed while Janeway does her best to contain her annoyance. "Cyto-metabolism is normal. Endocrine functions--functioning," Doc says. "That's a relief," says Janeway wryly.
"I'd like you to drop by Sickbay at your earliest convenience. I've adjusted my holo-imager for deep body scans. You're the only member of the crew who hasn't posed for me yet."
"Maybe next week," Janeway says, eyes half-lidded with fatigue and boredom.
"It's a fine instrument, really," Doc tells her. "I've already discovered something of a mystery with it. Apparently, I performed a complex neurosurgery on Harry Kim. According to the isotope decay around the scars, it was 18 months ago."
Janeway's shoulders tighten. "I don't remember that," she says evenly.
"Neither do I. And...neither does the patient. I checked my medical entries for that period. There's no mention of surgery."
"Could your holo-imager have misinterpreted the scans?" Janeway asks.
"Possibly. The computer is double-checking the data now. I'd also like to run a complete diagnostic on my own program and have a look at my memory files."
"B'Elanna and Harry are both busy with the plasma relay repairs. Let's make sure you're next up on the list. Thank you, Doctor."
Janeway walks back to her chair, leaving Doc holding the reflex-check hammer in his hand before he has a chance to whack her kneecaps.
Dang. And that's his favorite part of the checkup.
Seven works alone in Astrometrics.
Doc enters looking for help. She says she's busy recalibrating the deflector dish. But she should be done by tomorrow; come back then.
Doc lays the guilt on thick, starting with a heavy sigh. "Looks like I'm 2 for 2." Seven gives him an annoyed look.
"Oh, the Captain's acting like she's allergic to me, and now my prized pupil won't even give me the time of day." (There could be some argument over whether Doc is being intentionally manipulative, or if it just comes naturally...)
Seven falls for it and tells him to state his request. Doc perks up."A little mystery has cropped up--evidence that I performed surgery on Ensign Kim a year and a half ago, before you came aboard. The trouble is...I don't remember it. I wanted you to help me run a self-diagnostic."
Seven agrees to help him, in an hour. Doc smiles gratefully. "Fair enough."
An hour later, Seven enters Sickbay, looking for Doc. The computer says he's inactive. "Activate him," she says.
Doc appears and utters his standard greeting. "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
"I'm here to assist you, as I agreed. I've run a preliminary diagnostic of your program. Your suspicions were correct."
Doc is confused, perhaps bemused. "I never asked you to run a diagnostic. Suspicions? What are you talking about?"
Now Seven is confused. "You don't recall speaking to me in the Astrometrics lab one hour ago."
"No," Doc says." The last I remember, I was completing the yearly physicals."
"You mentioned a neurosurgery you performed on Ensign Kim 18 months ago." Doc asks the computer to pull up the holo-scans of Harry, and explains to Seven that they can loo--
"Unavailable. That file has been deleted." D'Oh! Doc and Seven share a blociferous look. "Let's have a look at my program," Doc suggests. And sure enough, they discover that some of Doc's memories have been deleted from the short-term buffer.
Doc's Matlock subroutines kick in. "Hmm...If I were given to paranoia I'd say someone is trying to keep me from finding out what happened 18 months ago." Stroking his chin, he looks down and notices his trusty camera. And gets an idea. "My photo album!"
"I was quite a shutterbug back then," he explains to Seven. "Not a day went by when I didn't record an image for posterity." He grabs the camera, rubbing it like Aladdin's lamp, wishes locked and loaded. "Let's have a walk down memory lane. Meet me in Holodeck Two."
In the empty Holodeck, Doc and Seven investigate this little conundrum.
"Computer, display all holo-images taken on Stardate 50979," Doc orders. The computer, predictably, reports that they were deleted...but it doesn't know who did it.
But nobody knows their way around a computer's innards like a former Borg. "I'm detecting residual photons in the holo-buffer," Seven says. "It may be possible to partially reconstruct the images." Doc urges her to try-and she manages to do a partial salvage job on five images.
Seven projects the first image in a wall-to-wall snapshot. The image is blurry, like the copy of a copy of a copy, but most of the fuzzy figures displayed are recognizable. Janeway and Tuvok, Paris and Torres. All in a festive mood.
And someone else. Someone unfamiliar. A tall, slender woman with dark hair standing behind a large birthday cake with candles, grinning broadly.
"The mess hall," Doc says softly. "Do you remember this?" Seven asks. Doc shakes his head. "No."
"Who is that?" he wonders, looking at the life of the party. "The Ensign. It seems to be her birthday." "I've never seen her before," Seven says.
They move to snapshot #2. Doc standing between a seated Harry Kim-and the unknown Ensign. "I never went on a shuttle mission with Harry Kim, and certainly not with her," Doc insists.
Image number three. Harry and the other Ensign working inside the same shuttle, looking slightly annoyed at Doc's impromptu camera work. "And again..." Doc whispers.
Image four shows the back of the unknown ensign's head, and past that to the front of the shuttle with its wraparound windshield. (Okay, there's no wind in space. You know what I mean.) And beyond that-an alien spaceship, with two wide nacelles suspended like a hawk with boxing gloves on. Mean looking puppy.
The fifth image, also showing the inside of the shuttle, shows an ugly alien with a wicked weapon, from an angle at about ground level. One supposes the alien did not pose for the shot.
Doc and Seven give each other a deeply concerned look as the collected clues begin to point to something truly unpleasant.
* * *
Seven of Nine works the controls in-I think it's Astrometrics while Doc paces. There's entire walls worth of control consoles.
"I've isolated your memory files from Stardate 50979," Seven tells him. (Incidentally, this stardate is just a few days before the events of "Scorpion, Part I".) Doc is surprised that they weren't deleted-or that he can't access parts of his own program. "Why can't I remember them?" he asks.
"The program was rewritten to deny you access to those memories. I'm trying to restore them."
Seven has some success.
Mess hall. Big crowd. Happy crowd.
"Here, here," Janeway says, raising a glass. "Here, here," says the rest of the crew cheerfully. We see Doc's camera raised high, and hear his voice: "Say cheese."
Doc returns to the here and now."What happened? I was in the mess hall."
"The files are difficult to localize. The memories will be out of sequence," Seven tells him. We see her manipulate the controls, and on the wall behind her, memory blocks begin to blink back into accessibility.
More memories return, and like Billy Pilgrim, Doc becomes unstuck in time as the memories flit about randomly like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.. No corners or edges.
Kim and the ensign in the shuttle, frustrated over the sudden loss of their sensors.
Paris telling the ensign to make a wish over a blue-iced cake with candles.
They've stopped! Doc says. Seven tells him to hold his horses.
He doesn't have to wait long.
This unknown ensign has a voice. And a personality. And teeth, lots of them. We see her at her birthday party, surprised by the crew. We see her on the shuttle with Harry.
We see her lying in a pool of her own blood on the shuttle floor, some of which is on Doc's hands.
We see her in sickbay, face horribly burned, as Doc and Paris labor mightily-and futilely-to save her.
Other images. Doc setting up the camera for a group photo. The alien vessel flying overhead. Doc's hands covered with the ensign's blood. The Ensign joking with him about her good health keeping them apart. The alien materializing on board the shuttle, weapon trained, and being knocked sideways by a blast of weapons fire that also knocks the camera out of Doc's hands. Blowing out candles. The alien firing his weapon, shooting a triple-blast of flame that destabilizes Doc's program, and leaves Harry and the Ensign with bright red, bubbling faces before they even hit the ground.
Doc holding the camera in sickbay. "Say, 'cheese.'
Cheese. The word echoes as Doc returns to himself, horrified by the new collection of memories swimming about in his matrix. "Call the Captain," he whispers.
In the conference room, Doc and Seven report to Janeway and Tuvok. The partially-reconstructed image of the armed alien is on the screen. "I don't recognize this species," Janeway says. "Seven?" Seven says the Borg don't know anything about them.
"Perhaps these images have been manipulated," Tuvok offers, but Doc says the image buffer would have detected any signs of tampering. "I have a different theory. I believe there was an attack on Voyager by this species and all our memories of the event were erased."
Doc pulls up a particularly good picture of the ensign. "This is the unknown crewman I told you about--Ensign Jetal. The question is...who was she? An alien intruder posing as a Starfleet Ensign?"
Janeway and Tuvok steal a glance at each other.
"Of course," says Doc, "it's impossible to tell from a photograph, but one thing is certain--we are in immediate danger." How so, Tuvok asks. Doc explains. "Only a few hours ago, as I was beginning this investigation, someone shut down my program and eliminated all my memories of the last 24 hours."
"An intruder may be on board," Seven concludes.
Janeway makes a quick decision. She tells Tuvok to run a full security sweep. Tuvok acknowledges. Janeway tells Seven to recalibrate the sensors in Astrometrics. "See if you can detect any cloaked vessels nearby." Seven nods.
Doc picks his own assignment. "I'll review the medical records of the crew. Ensign Kim may not have been the only one who was injured during the attack."
But Janeway tells him no. "I want you to deactivate yourself for now. We'll erect a security field around the main computer and encrypt all pathways leading to your program. If someone tries to tamper with you again I want to be ready." Doc begins to protest, but Janeway cuts him off. "It's for your own safety. Thank you for bringing this to my attention." She promises to keep him informed, and dismisses the room.
Doc and Seven leave. Tuvok does not.
They share a concerned look.
Lost in thought, Doc enters Sickbay. His steps are haphazard, lurching, as though he's thinking so much about his problems he hasn't left much processing power for putting one foot in front of the other.
But finally Janeway's orders assert themselves. "Computer...Transfer my program from the mobile emitter to the Sickbay systems." When it's complete, he removes the emitter from his uniform and places it in the Coaster of Honor on his desk.
Now to deactivate himself. "Computer..."
But he happens to notice his camera, and he gets an idea. The last time he went offline he woke up with a memory loss that only good fortune had overcome. This time, he's not taking any chances. His voice takes on a tone of determined urgency. Fast and furious, he gives the computer new directives.
"Computer, duplicate all of my memory files recorded within the last 48 hours." So let it be spoken, so let it be done.
"Now...I'm going off-line. If my program is altered without my authorization, reactivate me and restore the duplicate memory files." Probably should have added a WHEN in there, but maybe 24th century computers are smart enough to fill in the details for us, even plot issues.
Some of the time, anyway.
Doc positions his camera near the back of the room, so it can cover the maximum area. "Interface with the holo-imaging device. If anybody enters this room, commence imaging in five-second intervals."
So he's got himself backed up, issued a wake-up call, and bugged the room. Check, check, check.
Doc signs off.
The camera blinks with anticipation. We pan down to a system console, which reads "System Stand-by 138" (a pseudo-47). Two bells, and all's well.
Then the doors open. We don't see who enters. We don't hear their footsteps. We don't see their fingers or their visage in the mirrored glass of the panel as they enter commands. But we see their handiwork. The screen changes to "EMH MEMORY CORE" which is filled with blinking text and multicolored blocks. Doc's memory is formidable indeed.
We see the camera turn on, the glowing handgrip changing from stand-by red to active green.
The blocks on the console begin to disappear. When they're all gone, the system returns to "Stand-by 138" but the file area reads a blinking "files deleted". The unseen visitor/saboteur exits, leaving Doc with a severe short-term memory gap. The last 18 and a half minutes...gone.
Perhaps it was just a faulty transcription machine.
When the coast is clear, Doc comes online. "Please state the nature of the medical emergency," he says pleasantly, blankly. He sees nobody, begins looking around to see who called him.
The console returns to the EMH program, and "Restoring Files" begins to blink. Blocks fill up the just-emptied screen.
Doc's smile turns to a frown as he remembers. When the restoration is complete, Doc makes a beeline for his camera. He taps in the commands to print out the picture.
First the skeleton. Then the organs and vascular systems. Then the muscles. Then the endoskeleton.
Then the uniform. And the red hair.
Doc's concern magnifies exponentially as he realizes that the person mucking about in his innards is not a violent alien invader, but Captain Benedict Arnold Janeway herself.
* * *
On the bridge, it's a carefree moment of manufactured tension. Janeway is outnumbered.
"Believe me, I was there!" Janeway insists-coffee mug in hand, legs draped lazily over the Big Chair, arguing with Chakotay, but her smile is genuine enough.
Chakotay leans toward her, grinning that evil grin of his. "So was I."
Tuvok pipes in. "Commander Chakotay is correct."
Janeway takes playful umbrage at the betrayal by her security chief. "Oh? And how would you know?"
"In my youth, I studied many forms of martial art, including the sumo of Earth. I've followed the sport ever since."
Sumo? They're arguing about sumo?
Janeway defends her honor, and her memory. (Ah, irony.) "It was the 77th Emperor's Cup! Takashi forced Kar-Pek out of the circle in less than three seconds. I had a fifth row seat!"
Doc enters the bridge from the turbolift, surrounded in a black cloud of righteous indignation. Nobody notices.
Chakotay smirks. "Then you must have been ordering sake, because Takashi's knee broke the sand and the referee gave the match to Kar-Pek."
"Exactly," Tuvok says, and he and Chakotay nod like Stan and Ollie. Another fine mess Janeway's gotten us into....
Doc stops in front of Janeway's chair and glares, waiting impatiently to be recognized.
"If this is another house call, it'll have to wait," Janeway says between sips of java. "As you can see, I've got a mutiny on my hands!" The bridge crew chuckles, smiles, or otherwise reacts jovially.
Doc's voice, two octaves lower than usual, barely above a whisper, alters the mood in an instant. "A mutiny? I suppose that's better than a conspiracy," he seethes.
Seven of Nine interrupts him, borgswaggled. "Doctor . . . ?"
Doc waves in Seven's direction, eyes blazing. "Tell her, Captain. Describe how you tampered with my program--how it was you all along!" Cue French horns.
Chakotay's smile freezes in place. His eyes drop-with ambiguous inference. Methinks there's a story there, but he doesn't speak up.
"Perhaps you should accompany me to Sickbay, Doctor," Tuvok suggests cautiously.
Doc casts him a withering look. "Et tu, Tuvok?" he asks sadly, suddenly realizing the cabal may be larger than he imagined. "You're conspiring against me, all of you. Why?!"
Janeway rises from her chair-slowly, deliberately. Her eyes never leave Doc's. The bridge hasn't been this cold since that fifteen years under the glacier in "Timeless." Janeway's look alone nearly destabilizes his holomatrix. "In my ready room," she says, voice impossibly even deeper and softer than Doc's own. The voice that most often leaves death in its wake. Janeway leads the way.
Dead Doc Walking . . .
Inside the ready room, Doc prepares to argue. But Janeway actually lets her coffee mug on the desk, her last link to civil society. When Janeway turns slowly around, her face is a mask of unbending authority. Her eyes have been replaced with halogen bulbs. You could chop wood with her chin. Her hair ignites the curtains.
Fire and ice. This could get steamy.
"You've been manipulating my program. Don't deny it!" Doc rages.
"I don't intend to."
That caught Doc off guard. "But...The alien ship...The intruder...Did that attack actually happen?" Or was it some sort of mirror-universe holodeck malfunction wacky misadventure sort of episode that got relegated to the blooper reel?
"Yes," says Janeway. Real event. "You were damaged during the incident." Doc takes umbrage at the very suggestion, but Janeway is firm. "It caused a conflict in your programming that couldn't be resolved."
"What kind of conflict?" Doc demands, but Janeway ignores him. "I had no choice but to deny you access to your memories of those events."
"What kind of conflict?!" Doc repeats.
"If I told you that, I might set the whole thing in motion again." Ah hah...
"That's not good enough," Doc sputters.
"It'll have to be."
But Janeway's decision is made, and her stubborn streak is the stuff of legend. "I've made a command decision for your own benefit and the welfare of this entire crew. I'm not willing to debate it." Her words are clipped, her gaze fierce, her fortress demeanor unbreachable.
"How would you like it if I operated on you without your consent or without your knowledge?" Doc counters angrily.
"If the operation saved my life? I could live with it."
(Can he get that in writing?) "I don't believe you! You'd feel as violated as I do right now!" (Are we recycling arguments from "Nothing Human"? Or is it "Tuvix"? Just checking.)
"Whether you believe me or not is beside the point. A year and a half ago the only solution was to rewrite your program. I have to perform that same procedure now." Yow. Cold blooded.
"That isn't fair!" Doc pleads.
But Janeway is unswayed. "You're malfunctioning, and you need to be repaired. Return to Sickbay and wait for my orders."
Man. Ever since the mass-mutiny in "Night," Janeway appears to be exacting her revenge on the folks who wouldn't let her die, one character at a time.
Doc stews in Sickbay, online but out of sorts, when the door opens. Chakotay, Paris, and Seven of Nine enter.
And begin to work as though he weren't even there.
"What's happening? What are you doing?" Doc demands of Seven.
"Lieutenant Torres requires a copy of your most recent memory files, including the backups."
"You're going to rewrite my program!" Doc says accusingly.
Chakotay fields the question, the good cop to Janeway's Robocop. "The Captain thinks it's for the best. I'm sorry," he says sincerely. "B'Elanna and Seven are setting up the procedure right now. In the meantime, you're to brief Mr. Paris about any experiments you're performing, any tests." Chakotay leaves.
Paris acts oddly willing to be riding a medical tricorder rather than behind the wheel of a starship. "I'll be filling in while your program's off-line." Doc looks less than reassured.
Paris tries not to take it too personally. "O-kay....So, you're running some kind of cell analysis?"
The small talk ends when Doc demands answers, despite Tom's soft pleas to drop the subject. "What happened 18 months ago? Why won't the Captain tell me?"
"She has her reasons," Paris whispers, eyes averted.
"And you agree with her?"
Ensign Paris, his one pip a daily reminder of what costs can come from disagreeing with the captain, barely hesitates. "I was there...And yes, I agree with her."
Seven of Nine, performing her tasks, listens to the exchange intently but without comment. As a relative newcomer, she is likely the ship's only innocent bystander on the matter.
But when Seven has an opinion, it rarely goes unspoken for long.
It's ship's night. Way past bedtime. Soft piano music plays in the captain's quarters. Janeway, jacket off, has her feet kicked up on the Ottoman, slouched in a comfy chair while she mind-melds with a good-old-fashioned hardcover book. (The season of the Delta Quadrant Comfort T-shirt continues!) One arm droops lazily over her head, over the backrest. Her eyes are barely open.
The doorbell rings. Janeway's annoyance is polychromatic. She rolls her eyes so violently they come up Snake Eyes. Her arm falls heavily on the armrest. "Come in," she drawls.
Seven enters. You just knew this moment was inevitable, didn't you?
"Are you having a little trouble regenerating?" Janeway asks, half-joking.
Seven looks uncomfortable. "My alcove is functioning properly. I am . . . having trouble with the nature of individuality."
Janeway wakes up enough to get out of the chair. She gives a forced laugh. "There's a time and a place for philosophical discussion. 2:00 in the morning in my quarters isn't one of them." Oh, I dunno. In college, that was often the best time... "But I'll tell you what. Meet me in the mess hall tomorrow-"
"Tomorrow will be too late," Seven interrupts. "We'll have already rewritten the Doctor's program by then."
"And violated his rights as an individual," Janeway finishes for Seven. "Precisely," Seven says.
Janeway's features harden. "If you've come to act as my conscience, you're a little late. I considered these issues 18 months ago, as I did again this morning. I came to the same conclusion." Janeway heads for the replicator.
"Your conclusion is wrong," suggests Seven with trademark subtlety.
Suffice to say, Janeway's over-the-shoulder glare is epic, even for 2am. But Seven is one of the few creatures in the known universe impervious to the Redheaded Skunk Eye of Death (TM). Janeway decides she's too tired for a head-on battle of wills and switches tactics.
"Coffee, black." Naturally. The replicator whines, and a few seconds later her java applet is complete. She takes a sip. "Lukewarm," she complains, but coffee is coffee. Down the hatch. Salud.
"I've told that replicator a dozen times about the temperature of my coffee. It just doesn't seem to want to listen...Almost as if it's got a mind of its own," she says almost idly. "But it doesn't." (I should point out that programmers always call it a hardware issue. Picard never had any problems; he employed enviable precision. "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.")
But Janeway's on an object-lesson roll-which we all know works so well with Seven. "A replicator operates through a series of electronic pathways that allow it to receive instructions and take appropriate action, and there you go--a cup of coffee! A bowl of soup, a plasma conduit--whatever we tell it to do." Well, I'll say this-this is about as tech-free an explanation of the inner workings of a replicator as one could hope for . . .
Janeway gives Seven a meaningful look. "As difficult as it is to accept...the Doctor is more like that replicator than he is like us."
Seven stiffens. "He would disagree." The capacity for disagreement is either one of the signs of sentience...or should be.
"I'm sure he would," Janeway allows. "But I can't let that change my decision. I learned that the hard way when his program almost self-destructed. I won't take that risk again."
"The risk isn't yours to take," Seven says passionately, but incorrectly. Janeway frequently claims ownership of such risk; she's the captain.
(Man; I'm getting some "Eye of the Needle" deja vu, with Janeway talking about Doc like an uppity tricorder in need of some steel-tipped rebooting and Doc's interests promoted by the new kid on the block....
speaking of which, if all this happened eighteen months ago, before Seven of Nine came on board...WHERE THE $!@^$^~ IS KES!?!?
(cough) Sorry. I feel better now.)
Janeway tries another approach. "If one of my crew chose to put a phaser to his own head, should I let him?"
"It would depend on the situation." Is the phaser loaded, is the safety off, did the crewman come knocking at 2am...
"It always depends on the situation, Seven--but we can debate philosophy another time." Yeah. The captain has some serious guilt-based insomnia to indulge.
Seven tries a different approach. "When you separated me from the Collective I was an unknown risk to your crew, yet you kept me on board. You allowed me to evolve into an individual." Allowed? As I recall, Janeway didn't give Seven much choice in the matter. And you thought DOC was reprogrammed.
But Janeway brushes the comparison aside. "You're a human being. He's a hologram."
"And you allowed that hologram to evolve as well--to exceed his original programming--and yet, now you choose to abandon him." Fighting words. Janeway's eyes blaze. Seven's reflect the intensity right back at her.
Seven's rubber, Janeway's glue.
Janeway's shoulders sag with fatigue. "Objection noted. Good night." She turns her back on Seven, reaching for her book.
Seven, despair on her face, is about to leave, but has one more thought to share. "It is unsettling. You say that I am a human being and yet, I am also Borg..."
Seven stares over her shoulder at the replicator. She has Janeway's full attention. "Part of me not unlike your replicator...Not unlike the Doctor. Will you one day choose to abandon me as well?"
Janeway has no response. The hardness in her face crumbles.
"I have always looked to you as my example--my guide to humanity. Perhaps I've been mistaken." Mrowrl. Fffft. Yow.
This draws blood. Janeway's face goes white, near-translucent. The ghost of command decisions past.
"Good night." Seven exits, taking with her the last word, and the moral high ground.
Dead man waiting. Doc sits at his desk with a face of pure anguish.
Janeway and Torres enter. Doc rises, stands stoically to meet his fate.
Janeway's face is much softer than that which sent her away from him earlier in the day (or the day before, whatever). Action Kate has yielded the floor to Mama. She gives Doc a compassionate look. "I'd like to think I made my decision 18 months ago for all the right reasons." She licks her lips nervously. "The truth is, my own biases about what you are have just as much to do with it. At the very least, you deserve to know exactly what happened...If you're willing."
A grateful Doc nods.
* * *
Torres, wondering if this is all such a good idea, nevertheless works the controls, preparing to give Doc back the memories that everyone is so reluctant to let him remember. Doc indicates his readiness, and a pensive Janeway nods for Torres to proceed.
Here goes nothin', Torres' eyes scream as she hits the button.
The mess hall is dark. Shadows move. The voice of Tom Paris grumbles that Doc's standing on his foot. Doc of course denies it, and digs in his heel to prove it, eliciting even louder protests. B'Elanna shushes them both. There's the usual giggling and groping and general goofiness that tend to occur while waiting in ambush in a darkened room.
The camera pans over to the door, which opens for Neelix and Ensign Jetal, a tall, effervescent brunette with shortish hair and more teeth than any two Osmonds. They gleam when she's in a good mood-which is often.
"If you asked me, they should have just locked the turbolift..." Neelix is saying as they enter the darkened room.
"Neelix..." Jetal says, stating the obvious, "The power's down." She taps her combadge. "Jetal to Torres."
We hear Torres' voice-muffled, not over the comm system. "Uh, go ahead, Ensign..." she says unconvincingly. "Or should I say..."
Surprise! The room explodes with light and laughter and applause, as bodies appear from all corners. Tuvok rises somberly, bearing a blue peptide cake with jebalean fudge and blue marbled frosting, the traditional birthday confection from Neelix's kitchen. Her name's on the cake: HAPPY BIRTHDAY ENSIGN JETAL, just so we have no excuse for not remembering.
Jetal gives a toothy smile, then leans toward Neelix. "I'm going to kill you," she says, and her eyes twinkle with homicidal mirth. I suspect she would be creative about it, like Catwoman back in the Julie Newmar days. Yum.
Another memory restores...
Chakotay is standing with Doc at the party. "I want you to go along on a few of the shuttle surveys...If I can talk you into it." Chakotay's smile suggests he doesn't expect this to be a tough sell.
It isn't. "Another away mission?" Doc asks. "Certainly! I'm flattered."
Harry, decked out in casual wear, lifts his glass in a toast. "I guess the birthday girl and I get the pleasure of your company, Doc." Chakotay concludes the orders and moves off to mingle.
The Birthday girl approaches, smiling adorably. "Hello, Doctor."
"Ensign Jetal. I haven't seen you in months!" Doc says pleasantly.
"The price I pay for staying in good health," she says pleasantly.
"So, keeping busy down on deck 11?" Doc asks.
"Too busy. We're modifying one of the shuttles, making it more maneuverable and more..." she bats her eyes. "Cool."
Doc rolls his eyes. "Hmm...I see you've been working with Mr. Paris. My condolences."
The scene shifts as Torres activates another memory...
It's a view from the DocCam. Jetal and Kim trying to get their job done on the shuttle. Jetal is the pilot. Harry does what he does best-run scans with all senses on alert. He's found something, and like a sonar man on a submarine, patience and talent are in charge for the moment.
So Doc's incessant picture taking does complicate things. Fortunately, Harry and Jetal are relatively easy-going, and the mission is considered a milk run (else you wouldn't see two ensigns and the only competent medical person in one of the tiny shuttles this ship runs through like tissue paper). They indulge Doc's hobby with only mild complaint, and even consent to a group shot.
"Doctor, I have a shuttle to fly," Jetal says.
Famous last words. A bare second later, Harry's sensors go dead, power's being drained, and shields and weapons are history.
And they have no idea why.
But then they get an answer. The shuttle is rocked by weapons fire, and we see what could be a space hawk with boxing gloves swoop down on them. As it continues its strafing run, a hideously ugly and mean-looking alien, with a multi-pronged energy rifle aimed at the ensigns and the Doc, materializes in the back of the craft.
Doc drops his camera when the ship rocks again. It clatters to the floor, but manages to take one last image on landing. The alien loses its footing as well.
When it gets back on its feet, it fires its death ray, sending out three arcs of electric blue evil. Doc's matrix destabilizes temporarily; Jetal and Harry simmer in their own juices before they hit the floor, their faces florid, the outer layer of skin near bursting with blood. The shuttle fills with the piquant odor of human barbecue. The blood blisters burst on impact with the floor, spattering crimson like an impressionist painting.
Doc manages to beam the alien off the shuttle and hail Voyager. Chakotay acknowledges before the comm signal cuts out. Doc tells the shuttle to high-tail it back to Voyager on auto-pilot.
The attacks continue. Jetal's wounds are in a class with Freddy Krueger, and Harry Kim is in not much better shape. Harry is still semi-conscious, though-a dubious blessing. "Doctor..."
"Stay calm," Doc says, cradling Jetal's head in his hands, ignoring the pool of blood forming in his palms. Harry asks about Jetal; "She's unconscious," Doc says, also updating the ensign on his contact with Voyager and the guy who shot them. "I sent that alien back to his ship. You think they'd be grateful."
"You should have beamed...Him...Into space," Harry mutters weakly, his cheek flame-broiled.
"I'm not in the business of killing people, Ensign," Doc says more sharply than he intends. (Foreshadowing...)
The assault continues. Doc can only look out the window bleakly-until the hawk gets its wings singed by the glorious presence of mother Voyager.
The trio are beamed directly to Sickbay. A team of medics arrive to get the wounded Kim and Jetal to the beds. Tom Paris arrives a moment later to assist. (I already made my Kes complaint. Perhaps Janeway excised the audience's memory of that character....)
Cut to the chase: Both Harry and Jetal are dying. The alien weapon is an insidious design, designed to keep energy in the body, slowly frying the spinal cord and the brain. While Voyager does battle with the alien vessel, Doc does battle to save the first casualties of the alien's hand weapon.
Doc thinks. He ponders. And finally he figures out a way to save the day.
But he only has two hands, and he can only save one patient. Paris says Doc can talk him through it, but Doc says it's too complicated. One will live...one will die.
Where's Crell Moset when you need him?
"Then make a choice before we lose them both!" Paris yells. To his credit, he doesn't stack the deck in favor of Harry. Though he does stand closer to Harry's bed.
Doc chooses Harry, as we already know. Doc performs his medical magic, and with Tom's help, Harry survives. (BTW, did they blank Harry's memory as well?)
But the good news for Harry is tempered by the devastating monotone of a flat-lined vital sign. Doc and Paris share a pained look, then get back to saving Harry Kim's life.
Janeway and Torres watch Doc carefully, features tense, as Doc comes to grips with the restored memories, not moving a photon.
* * *
Doc finally speaks. "The attack...How did it end? Were there more casualties?"
"We exchanged fire for another few minutes," Janeway explains, "then the aliens withdrew. There was only one casualty...Ensign Jetal."
Doc looks puzzled. "I don't mean to seem unfeeling, but I'm programmed to accept the loss of a patient with professional detachment."
Janeway nods to Torres, who takes a deep breath before pushing the button. Janeway looks at Doc, a silent encouragement to hang on tight. Another memory appears...
The crew is assembled on the bridge. The mood is somber. Doc is here as well, his mood very dark.
The captain speaks. "We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead... Ensign Ahni Jetal." (Oh, my gosh-they killed Ahni!) "Her intelligence and her charm have made our long journey home seem not quite so long. As she continues on a journey of her own we will keep her in our hearts..." her voice slows meaningfully, "And, in, our, mem, or, iessss...."
Doc's coal-black eyes turn toward the forward view screen. His mood looks as black as his eyes as the casket is jettisoned into space, aimed toward a faraway nebula.
The scene shifts...
Doc is staring at a PADD in the mess hall. "We're low on synthetic antigens, and I'm sorry to report many of the medicinal plants you've collected over the past several months were destroyed as well," Doc says shortly after the battle and the funeral. Doc sounds not too bad, all things considered.
Neelix, however, still looks mournful. His voice has that husky quality he usually gets when he's sad. "I have some herbs in storage you might be able to use."
"Been holding out on me?" Doc chides--almost gently.
"No," Neelix says, not up to playing along. "I was keeping them around just in case."
"Good planning," Doc says with a smile. He loves it when a plan comes together.
"As for the antigens I'll have to start replicating them in batches. Which do you want first?" Neelix asks.
The first sign of trouble. Doc's expression grows manic. We're talking Helter Skelter eyes. "Decisions, decisions," Doc says creepily. He smiles too broadly. He eyes a basket of-fruit? Vegetable? Pepper? I'm not sure. He picks a couple of fruits-one red, one yellow, each the size of a small lime or a heck of a big Brazil nut-and holds them with clinical interest. "How do you make a decision, Mr. Neelix? In general, I mean."
Neelix looks nervous. He senses something is amiss, but doesn't know how best to proceed. "I guess I weigh the alternatives and try to decide which is best," he stammers.
Doc's voice grows more clipped with each syllable. His tone is pedantic. "Which is best? How do you determine that?"
"I never thought about it, really...."
"Well, maybe you should--think about it, I mean." Crewmen start backing slowly out of the mess hall.
"I guess every situation is a little different," Neelix offers.
Doc is into the swing of his thought. "For me, it's rather simple. While I'm faced with a decision my program calculates the variables, and I take action. For example, what could be simpler then a triage situation in Sickbay? Two patients, for example," he says, holding up the fruits, measuring their comparative value. "Both injured, for example, both in imminent danger of dying. Calculate the variables! My program needs to ascertain which patient has the greater chance of survival, and that's the one I treat." He tosses the "untreated" fruit across the room; it banks off a table at which several crewmen are sitting.
"Simple," says Doc with disquieting lightness. "But what if they have an equal chance of survival?" he asks, picking up two small, acorn-sized shortbread cookies. "What then? Hmm? Flip a coin? Pick a card?" His tone grows hysterical. He slams his hand down on the table, tossing his cookies, pulverizing them into powder.
That's the way the cookie crumbles.
"Doctor..." Neelix says, now more worried about Doc than about the still-mourned Jetal.
Doc backs away. "Oh, I'm all right. I'm a hologram. I don't get injured. I don't feel pain. I don't die....Unlike some people I could tell you about. For example, two patients," he says, picking up two more cookies. "Both injured, both in imminent danger of..." one cookie is crushed between his thumb and forefinger.
Neelix reaches out. Doc shrugs him off angrily and backs into a corner of the kitchen. "Don't touch me!" He tries to calm himself. "I'm a hologram. Photonic energy. Don't waste your time." His smile frightens small children.
Neelix taps his combadge and signals security. "Send a team to the mess hall."
"A whole team, Mr. Neelix?" Doc asks playfully. "Throwing a little party, are we?" He grabs the bowl of fruits and walks it over to the couch where some very nervous crew try not to scream and run away. "Why, I attended a party just recently. A birthday party for a very nice young woman."
Doc struggles valiantly with his sanity. "I made a decision there, too. Several of them, in fact. When I came through the door do I turn right or do I turn left? As I recall, I decided on...The latter." He pantomimes his actions. "Then, what should I see before me--but the hors d'oeuvre tray? And another decision--'do I take a canape...Or refuse'?"
His back is to the door, and he's talking to himself. "Oh. That's an easy one. I'm a hologram-I don't eat."
Tuvok and Security types appear in both doorways. "Something's wrong with him," Neelix anxiously whispers to Tuvok.
Doc whirls; madness is in his eyes. "Don't you know it's rude to refer to somebody in the third person?" He slips back into cordiality. "You had a choice, Mr. Neelix--'should I do something rude or not do something rude?'" At this point he looks capable of doing great harm.
"Doctor, we must return to Sickbay," Tuvok says.
"Why should I? What if I don't want to return to Sickbay? What if I decide not to return to Sickbay?"
The security types advance, surrounding him. "No. I don't choose this. Leave me alone! Let me go!"
Doc's tone grows utterly frantic. "Why did she have to die? Why did I kill her?! Why did I decide to kill her?! Why?! Somebody tell me WHY!!!"
Tuvok reaches for Doc's portable emitter and enters the commands to minimize his application.
The memory ends.
Cut to the present. No more memories left to restore. The skeleton's out of subspace.
The newly-aware Doc can't bear to look at Janeway or Torres.
"It was downhill from there," Janeway explains, approaching cautiously. "You developed a feedback loop between your ethical and cognitive subroutines. You were having the same thoughts over and over again. We couldn't stop it."
"Our only option was to erase your memories of those events," Torres says.
Doc, now in possession of all the memories, seems to concur. "You were right. I didn't deserve to keep those memories...Not after what I did." Uh oh. Bad sign.
"You were performing your duty," Janeway assures him.
"Two patients--which do I kill?" Oh, krunk...
"Doctor..." Janeway cautions.
"'Doctor'? Hardly! A doctor retains his objectivity. I didn't do that, did I? Two patients, equal chances of survival and I chose the one I was closer to? I chose my friend? That's not in my programming! That's not what I was designed to do!"
Doc heads toward the computers where a pensive Torres stands. "Go ahead! Reprogram me! I'll lend you a hand! Let's start with this very day this hour, this second!" Torres deliberately lifts her hands from the console.
You can't handle the truth!
Janeway sighs. "Computer, deactivate the E.M.H." Doc disappears. Janeway's shoulders slump.
"Here we go again," Torres says sadly.
But Janeway doesn't concur. "Captain?" Torres asks quizzically.
"It's as though there's a battle being fought inside him...between his original programming and what he's become. Our solution was to end that battle. What if we were wrong?"
Torres looks nervous. "We've seen what happens to him. In fact, we've seen it twice."
"Still...We allowed him to evolve, and at the first sign of trouble..."
Janeway gives Torres a soulful look. "We gave him a soul, B'Elanna. Do we have the right to take it away now?"
Torres is skeptical. "We gave him personality subroutines. I'd hardly call that a soul." (Does Star Trek believe in the soul?)
But Janeway continues to ponder.
Janeway enters cargo bay two. Seven of Nine is regenerating in her alcove.
Janeway awakens her. Seven steps forward, grabs her bearings, notices Janeway. "Captain."
"I'm having trouble...With the nature of individuality," Janeway tells her.
"You require a philosophical discussion."
"There's a time and a place for it. This is one of them." Janeway asks a question she seems to come back to on occasion, a ratification of an earlier decision. "After I freed you from the Collective...You were transformed. It's been a difficult process. Was it worth it?"
"I had no choice," Seven correctly points out.
"That's not what I asked you."
"If I could change what happened...Erase what you did to me...Would I?"
Janeway awaits the response.
Seven hesitates only briefly. "No."
Captain's log, supplemental. Our Doctor is now our patient. It's been two weeks since I've ordered a 'round-the-clock vigil. A crew member has stayed with him at all times offering a sounding board and a familiar presence while he struggles to understand his memories and thoughts. The chance of recovery--uncertain.
The Holodeck is bare except for a moderately comfy chair, in which Doc sits silently, and a comfier chair with Ottoman, in which Janeway reclines, reading her book, struggling with the sniffles.
"The more I think about it, the more I realize there's nothing I could've done differently," Doc says at last.
"What do you mean?" Janeway says, distracted, not looking up from her book.
"The primordial atom...burst, sending out its radiation, setting everything in motion. One particle collides with another, gases expand, planets contract, and before you know it we've got Starships and Holodecks and...chicken soup."
"In fact," Doc continues, ignoring the Vulcan, "you can't help but have Starships and Holodecks and chicken soup, because it was all determined 20 billion years ago!" (Which came first-the chicken, or the egghead?)
"There is a certain logic to your logic," Tuvok acknowledges. Doc accepts the praise, but doesn't seem comforted by it.
Tuvok walks over to Janeway's recliner. "Progress?"
"I'm not sure if he's making any sense of this experience, or if his program's just running in circles," Janeway confesses.
"You've been here for 16 hours. Let me continue while you rest."
Janeway waves him off. "I'll be all right. Go back to the bridge." Tuvok hesitates, but finally complies. Janeway goes back to her book.
Doc notices, as though for the first time. "How can you read at a time like this?" he demands.
"It helps me think," she shouts back distractedly.
"Think? What do you need to think about?"
"You. This book is relevant to your situation."
Doc perks up at that. "Oh? What is it?"
"Poetry...written on Earth a thousand years ago-'La Vita Nuova.'" (Thanks to those who filled me in: the author is Dante Alighieri. I hadn't known that before. Shame on me.)
Doc snorts. "La Vita Nuova-'The New Life'? Ha! Tell that to Ensign Jetal!"
"Actually...I killed her countless times," he says softly.
"What do you mean?" Janeway asks, slightly disturbed.
"Causality, probability. For every action, there's an infinite number of reactions and in each one of them, I killed her!"
His voice grows distant, soft, hollow. "Or did I? Too many possibilities...Too many pathways for my program to follow...Impossible to choose...But still, I...I can't live with the knowledge of what I've done. I can't."
Doc notices that Janeway is too busy sleeping to respond. Annoyed, he awakens her. "Captain?"
He approaches her couch. "Captain?" He says more loudly.
Lesson of the week. Don't stand too close to Janeway if you wake her up. The woman jumps higher than Michael Jordan in a slam dunk contest. "Oh, sorry," she says.
"How could you sleep at a time like this?"
"Well, it's been a long day. You were saying...?"
Doc notices that not all is well with Janeway. His primary programming takes over. "What's wrong?" Nothing, she insists. "You're ill!" he says, shocked. "I have a headache," she insists. But he finds a fever.
"I'll live," she assures him.
But Doc doesn't mess around. "Medical emergency!" he tells the computer. "Someone's got to treat you immediately. Call Mr. Paris. You've got to get to Sickbay!"
Janeway waves him off. "Doctor...I'm a little busy right now...Helping a friend."
Looking outside the box. Seeing beyond one's self. A good step in the healing process. Doc assures her he'll be okay, and urges her to get some rest. He sends her on her way. "Please. I don't want to be responsible for any more suffering."
Janeway decides to leave, but not before opening her book to a particular poem and leaving it on the Ottoman. "Good night. If you need anything..."
"I'll call," Doc says, smiling weakly. "Thank you, Captain." Janeway gives him a final smile of encouragement, then exits.
Doc, all alone, stares from his seat to the book across the room. Finally, he rises, and picks the book up. He begins to read.
In that book which is my memory...
On the first page of the chapter
That is the day when I first met you...
Appear the words...
Here begins a new life.
It's late, I'm tired, and I don't have a great deal to say about this one. Perhaps I'll add to it later, but for now, this will have to do. Maybe I'll say more in 18 months....
First: I enjoyed the performances, which were fine all around. Picardo in particular was a joy to watch. The man chews scenery like it's made out of prime rib, and he gets a wide range of experience to project here. Mulgrew and Ryan also distinguished themselves, as did Nancy Bell as the Dead Meat Crewman of the Week.
The story was interesting. It brings up questions about "the nature of individuality," to quote Seven and Janeway. It reminded me a bit of Torres' dilemma in "Random Thoughts," where her thoughts were a danger to a local telepathic populace and were partially removed by the local thought police. But the idea of missing memories and personality differences have root in many other shows, in and out of Trek and science fiction. Whether the device is reprogramming or hypnosis or lobotomy or mind-altering drugs both legal and not, memories are suppressed, either by self or by others, and when they come screaming back, trouble usually ensues.
It's all in the execution. And this approach was interesting. Not without problems, but interesting.
Doc went nuts when he encountered an incident that pitted one moral imperative against another. Rayna the android faced this problem in "Requiem for Methuselah," and died trying to reconcile them. Doc was apparently hitting a cascade failure in his system kernel, and the only way to fix it was to yank some of his memories.
This supposedly happened 18 months before. In the time since then, has Doc been a wacko? No. It's understandable that Janeway would feel she made the right choice the first time. It seemed to work, and though eventual discovery may have been inevitable, it still proved to be a relatively simple and modest solution to the original problem.
Though as we learn in this episode, Janeway's logic may have been sound, but her reasons had at least some root in less worthy thoughts. Her position of Doc as replicator, just a software program to be debugged. Naturally, this was a thought that could not remain unchallenged, and it does not.
Had she couched it in different terms to Seven of Nine--he was sick, we performed surgery, we suppressed only those memories that were causing him his debilitating anguish, generally anthropomorphizing Doc as sentient creature--I doubt Seven would have objected strenuously, and the second go-round might well have proceeded as the first. As it is, Janeway's replicator analogy comes off as callous to a character who is for the most part a highly valued member of the crew. Seven is put off, and rightly so, that Janeway held Doc in the same regard as a replicator, and not as an individual. "Will you discard me one day as well" is not an idle question; Seven knows that Janeway frequently claims the sole power of life or death over her crewmates, human and otherwise.
Sometimes Janeway gussies it up in cloaks of "compassion" or other lofty sentiments. But it's all still Janeway-or-the-highway. Seven laying a guilt trip on the captain was a nice touch, and Janeway coming back later, seeking Seven's perspective, shows how much the relationship--and the individuals--are growing.
Janeway needed to learn something this week as well. From all indications, she did, though I don't expect major changes in her day-to-day character. Likewise, we expect Doc will be back to normal next week. But they set that up by showing Doc's "fever" breaking as he finally realizes in the final scene that Janeway is suffering illness, and his Doctor function reasserts itself. Physician, heal thyself. Sometimes, when you're hurting, the best cure is to reach out and help someone else. Doc looking beyond himself suggests that he's broken out of the loop and is on the road to recovery.
Does Doc have a "soul"? Big theological question, one I don't want to touch here. I think he's got sentience, self-awareness, a survival instinct, a right to self-determination, within the same limits everyone else in the crew's got. That's good enough for episodic television.
Doc's dilemma is unique because he is unique, an "evolved" self-aware, self-interested program not greatly unlike a biological creature. But his software consciousness means his personality can be directly and more precisely altered than can an average person. But people can also be reprogrammed--even by themselves. We have hypnotism, behavioral modification treatments, biofeedback, drugs, diversions, willpower, love, tragedy, you name it--everything we experience in life adds to or modifies or solidifies another variable in our programming. If we're sick, we can be treated. The irony of the final scene shows Janeway, ill, in need of some cellular reprogramming of her own. Whether it will take some 24th-century wizardry or just a bowl of chicken soup and a good night's sleep, isn't really important. Illness is a biochemical malfunction. We are in a sense machines made of meat. We can suffer hardware breakdowns--broken bones, cancer, common cold--or software breakdowns-depression, insanity, shock over the loss of a friend, compulsive behavior such as lying or hand-washing, taking "Must See TV" a little too literally. Our endocrine systems help program us. Some people are buggier than others. Pharmacies and therapists and surgeonscan help us install patches and software and hardware upgrades.
We treat the sick. We counsel the troubled. Our minds often shut down, in whole or in part, in response to trauma. We commonly suppress memories out of self-defense or simply for convenience. The short-term stack can only handle so much. Can you remember the name of the jerk kid who pushed you off the monkey bars and gave you atomic power wedgies in second grade? Maybe if you think long enough. but few of us keep that name in our speed-dial.
Some memories we can access in an instant. Some we think about only when prompted. Some we have to do a thorough search before we recover. Some require therapy to dig up. And many are locked away so deep not even Counselor Troi could, or would want to, get to.
What Janeway did those 18 months before was not a full-scale lobotomy. It was an imposed state of forgetfulness, like what Spock did to Kirk at the end of "Requiem for Methuselah." Kirk had been deeply hurt by the loss of Rayna, an android who had died because her claimed right to choose who she loved was too much for her infant sentience. She died. Part of Kirk died with her, until Spock intervened. Forget.
One question that not only goes unanswered here, it goes unexplored. Harry says he doesn't remember being operated on. Is he telling the truth? Did he block out the memory of being microwaved? If so, with or without a little Vulcan assistance? Did he experience a sort of debilitating survivor's guilt because he was still alive and Jetal wasn't, so he managed to wipe out of his own conscious mind that Jetal ever existed? (After all, how many times does he go to Deck 11?) Or is Harry part of the conspiracy? Either situation is equally likely. Surprisingly, we never heard from Harry again.
Maybe they disappeared him too.
A question that's probably self-evident. Did Doc make the right choice in saving Harry and letting Jetal die? It was triage; he had to make a choice. He went with his friend over the ensign on Deck 11. Harry's a senior staff officer, he's the big kahuna at Ops, his talents are many and varied, and he's got his name in the opening credits. Jetal is retrofitting shuttles to up their coolness factor for Helm Boy. She's got a nice smile and an engaging sense of humor.
Seems like a no-brainer to me.
But they picked Harry anyway.
Just a couple quick points and nitpicks, that I won't dwell on. This episode occurred before Seven came aboard. So where was Kes? Not only was Kes Doc's assistant in Sickbay before Seven came along, she was also Doc's number one defender. I can't imagine her not having words with Janeway over the captain's decision to encrypt some of Doc's memories. It seems sometimes that the Powers that Be are trying to do a little audience reprogramming and hope that we'll forget Kes ever existed. Putting Paris in that flashback scene in Sickbay is consistent with his current duties, but not with his duties on Stardate 50979. Back then, he wouldn't even go to Sickbay when Harry was being 8472'd to death.
I'm a rabid Kes partisan, and I could go on ad nauseum about this. But suffice to say I was extremely disappointed that Kes wasn't even mentioned, let alone shown. I can understand why they didn't want Kes here--for two reasons. First, Kes was a good enough medical assistant that she might have been able to save Jetal while Doc saved Kim. But second and more important, Kes was famous for stnding ground when Doc's identity was at stake--"Eye of the Needle," "The Swarm," "The Darkling," and so on. If Janeway was advocating yanking some of Doc's memories, Kes' approval or disapproval would have been not only expected, but integral to the story.
This need not have included a special guest appearance by Jennifer Lien. Referring to characters without showing them isn't that difficult, and it doesn't cost all that much, and the benefit--placating fans who remember the Lost Stars, the Pikes and the Yars and the Jadzias and to a lesser extent the Wesleys and Pulaskis and Hogans and Seskas who had extensive screen time before leaving the shows. These characters matter to us. This whole episode is about the enforced forgetfulness of a tragic character.
It is the height of irony that Doc goes postal over a rarely-seen ensign in Deck 11, yet has never (to my knowledge) even mentioned Kes' name since "The Gift."
That's all I'll say on the subject. I won't lobby for Kes' return. But this continued state of denial about Kes' presence on board the first three seasons is frustrating.
The death of a crewman seems an awfully big secret to hide. As in the TNG episode "Clues," there's some obvious clues there that must inevitably be found. Harry's operation, for example--that would have to be found eventually. Jetal's records had to be in the system somewhere. With no more than 200 crew at any given time the past four-plus years, every loss must of necessity be well known by all. And Jetal, for all her big smiles and winning personality, must have had friends who mourn her death...and some might blame Doc for choosing the upper-deck Weenie Boy over her, and perhaps even seek some well-timed revenge.
That could have been fun to watch. "I Know What You Did Last Season." They could have had Neve Campbell play Jetal. Yum.
Doc's photography habit didn't seem to be a big issue until earlier this season. It's been everywhere this year, but now they're trying to make the hobby retroactive. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but they are relying on a plot device that wasn't explicitly established in the third season. I guess when Kes was written out, photography was written in. No wonder Neelix looked so miserable in that Sickbay flashback.
The timing was also a bit odd. Why Stardate 50979? They hit Borg space just a little before Stardate 50984, mere days later. And the Borg don't know anything about the ugly evil species? Voyager had already encountered Borg earlier in the season, so they were easily within range of Borg space. Again, just a nitpick, no major foul.
I didn't catch it, but someone mentioned that Tom Paris' pip count was inconsistent in the flashback scenes. Also, his hair wasn't Season Three standard. Just FYI.
Another thing. One also wonders why this incident, of all incidents, caused Doc to freak, and why Janeway acted as she did. In "Retrospect," for example, Doc's ham-fisted psychoanalysis led to the self-immolation an ostensibly innocent arms merchant. He offered to have himself reprogrammed. Janeway said No. He didn't go nuts, he just realized that he'd caused harm against his oath, and he didn't want to be responsible again. He made a reasoned, rational but unwise decision to ask to reset his programming, even if it was ultimately overruled.
But of course there's a difference. In this episode, Doc essentially crashes, and Janeway's surgery is minimal--suppressing a select few memories only. In "Retrospect," where Seven's suppressed memories are the issue, Doc was advocating the complete rewriting of his programming. Big difference. As in "Random Thoughts," the principle is huge-my brain, my choice, my rules-but the violation is relatively minor-for Torres, the removal of a single memory engram, one instinctive violent thought that inadvertently resulted in a brutal beating and a murder. For Doc, this software psychosis could have destroyed his entire program.
I've received several emails comparing this episode to "Sophie's Choice." I've never seen it, so I can't comment. Seems more like Hobson's choice: you can flash back to season 3, as long as there's no mention of Kes.
Snappish. Sorry. I'll behave.
All in all, despite the nitpicks, it was a decent hour of television. The scenes were well acted, well paced, emotionally involving. I could watch Picardo read the U.S. Tax Code and be entertained, and the story itself was a nice mystery for a while, and a passable morality play. They managed to sneak in some culture, too; Amazon.com will no doubt get a few more orders for Dante's "La Vita Nuova" this month. (For those who ask: once again, yes, it is a real book. do a web search for it and you'll find plenty of references.)
Call it (* * *).
Next week: Dr. Chaotica is back...and Janeway plays a nefarious spider-woman.