Star Trek: Voyager

"Phage"

3 stars

Air date: 2/6/1995
Teleplay by Skye Dent and Brannon Braga
Story by Timothy DeHaas
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Don't worry. I'm not going to kiss you. I'm only adjusting the restraint."
"I'll try to contain my disappointment."

— Doctor and Neelix

While searching for dilithium on a planet surface, an alien attacks Neelix and electronically removes his lungs. After the Doctor manages to stabilize him, the Voyager chases the aliens through several star systems in hopes of retrieving the stolen organs needed to save Neelix's life.

Neelix will die within an hour if the Doctor doesn't get the lungs back. Unfortunately, the crew will not likely catch the aliens by then, who have a head start and a ship just as fast as Voyager. This leads the Doctor to execute an "unprecedented medical procedure" by creating holographic lungs for Neelix to use. The drawback is that Neelix must remain in a restraining field because the computer cannot compensate for movement.

This is a much more promising Voyager outing, with some good character moments and a plot less dependent on technobabble and Trek cliches. Finally we gets some healthy characterization, as well as a plot that offers a threat without excessive jeopardy. It's nothing brand new (which the series has the potential for), but it does work.

Placing Neelix in the restraint leads to a number of humorous yet understandable moments. He feels paranoid and alone, believing that his paralysis gives Paris the chance to go after Kes. Unexpectedly funny dialog includes Neelix labeling Paris a vulture who is merely "one big hormone walking around the ship."

The banter between Neelix and the Doctor is adeptly conceived and performed. Picardo once again successfully pulls off the character of the disgruntled doctor, with his annoyed personality remaining simultaneously within the boundaries of mild comedy and plausibility. Picardo's line, "I'm a doctor, not an interior decorator," is a scream.

The scenes with Kes also work well. Kes comes across much better here than in "Time and Again," in which she came across as, frankly, annoying. Here she is supportive of Neelix and her optimism proves helpful. Scenes between Kes and the Doctor are engaging and likable.

Meanwhile, Janeway chases the alien organ thieves into an artificial asteroid that reflects sensor information. This causes a "hall of mirrors" effect that hides the alien ship while creating a million false images of the Voyager. Tuvok's idea to bounce the ship's phasers off the walls like a searchlight is strangely amusing.

Capturing the aliens leads the crew to discover why the aliens stole the organs. They are a race of beings whose existence consists solely of fighting the "phage"—a disease that destroys their bodies and breaks down their organs. The race's advances in medical technology are the only thing keeping them from extinction. They harvest organs to save their own lives.

The two aliens reveal that Neelix's stolen lungs have already been transplanted into one of them. Returning Neelix's lungs would mean the alien's death. This gives Janeway a judgment call which is handled with a reasonable amount of dramatic power (though Janeway nearly getting misty-eyed was pushing it). She cannot justify killing the alien to retrieve Neelix's lungs, but gives them a forceful warning that any violent intentions in the future would be met with "the deadliest force."

In exchange for saving his life, one of the aliens agrees to use their superior medical technology to perform a tricky lung transplant in which Kes donates one of her lungs to Neelix.

In addition to introducing a new alien race, another thing "Phage" does is give Kes a job on the ship. Though it seemed like Kes was headed toward possibly being a character with no purpose, the episode remedies this situation when the Doctor recruits her as his assistant. (This should come as a relief to "temporary field doctor" Paris.)

Perhaps it doesn't have audacious plotting, but "Phage" is a good, solid episode of science fiction that continues to flesh out the characters.

Previous episode: Time and Again
Next episode: The Cloud

◄ Season Index

61 comments on this review

mlk
Sun, Dec 2, 2007, 4:08pm (UTC -6)
Very bad episode, I sat and wished Neelix would just die thrughout it all
Mike
Mon, Sep 8, 2008, 10:25am (UTC -6)
Agree with above poster about Neelix. It's interesting to watch Kes this season. She was incredibly green as an actress, but revealed enormous potential (along with serious missteps as in 'Time and Again').
Jay
Mon, Aug 3, 2009, 5:30pm (UTC -6)
Considering the restorations the Doctor was able to do in other shows (Threshhold comes to mind immediately), it's hard to believe that making Kes's lung workable for Neelix was beyond his abilities.
Banjo
Sat, Aug 8, 2009, 7:26am (UTC -6)
I'm watching Voyager through for the first time and (aside from laughing out loud when Nelix's LUNGS - of all things - were stolen) I found it utterly stupid that Janeway just "scolded" the Vidians here... these were organ-harvesting thieves who openly attacked her crew, yet her idea of a suitable reaction is to warn them "never do it again"!? This isn't the warm and fuzzy Alpha Quadrant... she should have taken back Nelix's lungs (regardless of who was now using them) and THEN sent the other Vidian off with her warning of zero tolerance... or else just spaced them both. I wonder if Lt. Durst might agree with me?
Nic
Tue, Oct 27, 2009, 11:48am (UTC -6)
I disagree with you Banjo. I think Janeway made the most moral decision, and it was nice to see the "villains" show compassion for once, it makes them a much more interesting species than just another Hard-headed alien of the week.
Charlie
Sat, Feb 13, 2010, 6:45pm (UTC -6)
Since a person only needs 1 lung to survive, I'm surprised the Viddians (sp?) didn't simply give Neelix one of his own lungs back.
Jeff
Wed, Sep 8, 2010, 4:26pm (UTC -6)
Not a bad episode. I did like how the writers, through the EMH, showed how ridiculous it was to have Paris acting as helmsman and medic (pick a department!). It did open up a great opportunity for Kes and showed the start of her very supportive relationship with the EMH. Had Kes stayed on, I would've bet Kes would date the Doctor after she broke up with Neelix. She really took to him faster than anyone else in the crew.

I did think it a bit silly that Neelix would be thinking Tom would take this opportunity to try to steal Kes from him. Kes put up with Neelix's jealousy better than most women I know would have in a similar situation. However, Neelix's fear about being alone in sickbay and not being able to see the Doctor was well played and very reasonable for the circumstances.

I agree with you about Janeway's "misty eyed" thing. I think Mulgrew could have easily shown her torn emotions without reducing to tears (so to speak). I wonder whose idea that was or if it was in the script from the beginning.

Overall, not bad and it does make the Vidiians seem more of a threat than the Kazon.
navamske
Sat, Sep 25, 2010, 8:25am (UTC -6)
@Charlie

"Since a person only needs 1 lung to survive, I'm surprised the Viddians (sp?) didn't simply give Neelix one of his own lungs back."

Humans need only one lung to survive. And apparently Talaxians and Ocampans need only one lung to survive. Maybe Vidiians need two.
navamske
Thu, Nov 4, 2010, 7:51pm (UTC -6)
This was kind of an OK episode -- new aliens we hadn't seen before, with interesting technology we hadn't seen before, with interesting motives. And a cast member in a unique kind of peril. And just when you think the aliens are pure evil as well as majorly fugly, they turn out to be cultured, erudite, sorta-compassionate people who, amazingly, have British accents. There's one big problem, though: The crew member who was in peril should have someone we cared about.

It seemed foolish of Janeway to take an away team back to the moon and risk having stuff beamed out of them. They should have come up with one of those handy-dandy "Protects You from Alien or Spatial-Anomaly Mojo" armbands.

Also, that asteroid sure looked a lot like the one in TNG "The Pegasus."
Carbetarian
Wed, Apr 6, 2011, 3:16pm (UTC -6)
I liked this one. The aliens were creepy and slightly sympathetic. My only real complaints about this episode are this:

1) was anyone else slightly reminded of the TOS episode Spock's Brain? I kept waiting for someone to say "lungs and lungs, WHAT ARE LUNGS?!?"

2) Neelix lived. To be fair, I find Neelix slightly less annoying than 1st season TNG Wesley Crusher. But, since 1st season Wesley Crusher basically makes me want to put my fist through my laptop, that's not saying much.
Mac
Wed, Jul 6, 2011, 12:32pm (UTC -6)
Now I may have missed them talking about it, but since Kes only lives like 9 years, didn't they just prolong his death?

What I mean is that it seems the lung would die in a short amount of time, I'm not sure how old Kes is at this point, but im going to say 3, so that will only give Neelix around 6 years of use with that lung.

And why the hate I love Neelix! He always says the right thing to get a laugh!
Chris
Thu, Oct 27, 2011, 11:05am (UTC -6)
@Mac I don't understand why you think the lung would only 'live' 9 years, just because it came from a species whose average lifespan was 9 years.
Graham
Wed, Jul 4, 2012, 12:50pm (UTC -6)
@Chris - We only live as long as our bodies do, its not our brain that dies first it's our organs that fail. So yes, her lungs would only have a lifespan similar to that of her species as a whole.
linguist
Thu, Aug 16, 2012, 4:35am (UTC -6)
@Graham - you cannot presume consistent failure rates across all organs of an alien system. some other vital organ may have a 9 years before wearing out while the lungs have potential to last longer.
Jay
Sat, Oct 6, 2012, 1:06pm (UTC -6)
Every time someone uses the transporter they are deconstructed and then reassembled. Why couldn't they just transport him using his transporter pattern from before he got delunged?
Michael
Fri, Nov 9, 2012, 11:34pm (UTC -6)
Jay, the "logic" of the transporter creates real problems for storytelling. It certainly makes sense that you could just use the transporter to create new lungs, even an entirely new replacement body. Sick bay should really just have been a specialized transporter room.

Like Banjo, I also hated that VOY didn't have the guts to take the lungs back and let the Vidian die. The Vidians' actions take them beyond sympathetic. They would inevitably have to murder somebody else once those lungs were used up anyways! How many people would the average Vidian have to kill to maintain a normal lifespan? Why are their lives worth more than others? The safe, made for TV resolution is a mockery of morality. Even if they couldn't have gotten the lungs back, they should really have killed both of them, just to protect their future victims.
Clark
Mon, Feb 11, 2013, 2:04pm (UTC -6)
I have to say, I agree with Banjo and Michael. While I can see where Janeway was coming from, I had no sympathy for the aliens. Yes, it was sad that they were dying of a disease. But I lost sympathy the minute I learned that they were killing others to preserve themselves. I'm sorry, but murder is murder. They're no more special than anyone else, so why is it they feel justified in killing someone else for their own selfish desire to keep living.

Even though everything worked out in the end, I wouldn't have allowed the situation to get as far as Janeway allowed it to.

And to echo someone else's post, if you only needed one lung to survive, why didn't they just take one?

Now, we've got this dying species that's most likely going to continue killing other people in order to stay alive.
Jay
Sat, Mar 9, 2013, 7:31am (UTC -6)
@ Michael...yes, it the transporter does cause storytelling probelms, and I try to dismiss it, but sometimes I can't. Most notably, back in TNG's "Ethics", when there was this big to-do about how revolutionary replicating a new spinal cord for Worf was, but all I could think was...the transporter does this every time it's used!
eddie
Tue, May 7, 2013, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
Nice reviews on this site. I had seen some of the DS9 ones while watching the series on netflix. Decided to do a rewatch of voyager while i read along for fun.

As some said... i liked the vidiians because they had a more complex motivation than evil. i think i would have rather seen more of these guys when the show was on than the Kazon.

The one thing I didn't understand was how the dilithium trap worked. If they faked the presence of the crystals, then why would anyone tell others to come to the asteroid?(unless they have found someone to spread the rumor). Ideally, there would be real dilithium and the vidiians use their secret hideout in the asteriod to abduct the occasional miner. they'd be puzzled by the abductions, but people would still come back as long as they need dilithium.
Sintek
Sun, May 19, 2013, 6:12pm (UTC -6)
Ugh, the "relationship" between Kes and Neelix in these early episodes is creepy as all hell. Only abusive men are as jealous and posessive as Neelix is, and like him, they don't let the woman have male friends.
Shane
Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 2:34am (UTC -6)
To store the transporter pattern of a person takes an enormous amount of computer memory. DS9 had an episode called "Our Man Bashir" where Security Officer Michael Eddington had to dump virtually all the computer memory on Deep Space Nine to store the patterns for 5 people. Given that fact, I'd say that a transporter system cannot store all the information for the entire crew. That's why the transporter isn't frequently used to heal crew members or bring people back from the dead.

On the other hand, TNG and the other series used the transporter plenty of times to restore people from various condition, like Doctor Pulaski in "Unnatural Selection" (albeit with the help of a hair follicle).
inline79
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 2:47pm (UTC -6)
I feel so late to this party...

Ignoring the technical possibilities above, I agree with some others that our Bad Captain made another Bad Captain decision. She condemns her own crewmember to death and lets the murderers go. What "Alpha Quadrant morals" is that? And who'd want to follow a Captain that would let you die and let your killer go?

(Un)fortunately, the writers saved Janeway's butt in the end. But the correct decision should have been for Janeway to enslave them until they could "harvest" new lungs for Neelix without murdering anyone else. Personally, I would also have taken the opportunity to rob them of their dilithium too.

For that, I think it deserves half a star less, though I did enjoy the crew interactions, as annoying as Neelix can be, as well as the new, very unique, aliens. I hope we see them again and some of Janeway's "deadliest force" is used.
Jack
Sun, Sep 15, 2013, 11:27pm (UTC -6)
@ Shane

Perhaps, but it was stated way back in TNG's S2 "Unnatural Selection" that traces can be "stored", because if Pulaski had used the transporter, they implied that they could have restored her from that.
Caine
Wed, Oct 9, 2013, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
Finally - an episode of Voyager that I could enjoy!

I was really into the Vidiians. "Organ Snatchers from outer space", patched together by scraps of what they can snatch here and there. Creepy looking and with a REALLY creepy way of life - but not really proud of their way of living. They do what they must do to survive, some of them apparantly downright ashamed of it. This instantly became one of my favorite species in all of Trek!

I really like Neelix - think he's hillarious and endearing. His lines are often very funny and the actor has a great timing, both in comedic and dramatic scenes. My only problem with Neelix is that his vast knowledge of the systems, planets and cultures our heroes run into kind of spoils the whole "we're in completely uncharted territory" part of the show, which could have been quite exciting had it not been for this character.

I applaud Jayneway for making the decision to NOT kill the captured Vidiians. Though it quite clearly pains her, she decides to do what is morally right (i.e. not becoming a murderer, just like them, out iof "necessity" herself). Stranded such a long way from home, she clings desperately to "the right thing to do", because that is what keeps her sane and keeps her going - the notion that she's STILL a starfleet captain, even out here, where (let's face it) the chances of ever getting home are slim to none. Her extreme "taking the high road", even when it seems ludicrous, is her way of surviving. It's not a question of whether or not it's appropriate in the situation, it's about what she NEEDS to do, for the sake of her own, personal sanity. That's how I perceive her so far, anyway - I just wish the writers would show us her crew reacting more to her (seemingly) non-self-serving decissions - acting surprised, outraged, in favor of ... that would be the basis of some great conflicts among the crew, adding fuel to the "Maqui vs. Starfleet" fire ... oh, wait, that fire was never started ... nevermind ....

K'Elvis
Mon, Jan 6, 2014, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
I don't agree that not taking the lungs back was the right thing to do. Why should Neelix die just because someone stole his lungs? Mere possession doesn't override all other concerns. Stealing Neelix's lungs is murder, taking them back is not.

I liked having members of the crew cross-train in other tasks. It's perfectly reasonable that without being able to get replacement crew, people are going to have to learn to do more than one thing.
Trent
Sun, Jan 12, 2014, 4:46pm (UTC -6)
I'm surprised Trek fans are confused about Janeway's decision.

In philosophy, it's called the Trolley Problem, a famous ethical dilemma. She did the ethical thing. Good sequence.
DLPB
Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 9:11pm (UTC -6)
Liberal la-la land again. When a species has near murdered of your own crew man and stolen his lungs (lol), your captain would not be moralizing. In fact, it would be morally correct to retake those lungs.

But, of course, in liberal la-la land... Janeway simply says they can leave.
Andrew
Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 1:15am (UTC -6)
She should have taken the lungs. Who would want to serve under a captain that won't even get your lungs back for you? Ethical or not, it was ridiculous. Not even Picard would have allowed it. Janeway's warning at the end was meaningless.

Another problem I have is that we barely know neelix at this point and we're already having organs stolen. Kind of a far limb to go out on for an episode plot.
Robert
Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 1:42pm (UTC -6)
Aren't there some difficulties in just assuming Janeway can take the lungs back?

#1 - Will Neelix's lungs now have the Phage?
#2 - Can the Doctor use Vidiian's tech to put the lungs back in Neelix, or do the thieves have to cooperate?
#3 - If #2 is true it might have been interesting if Janeway put a phaser to his head and ordered him to return 1 lung (assuming they too can live with one), thereby giving him great reason to do so.

I would have liked a tougher resolution. The resolution, as we got it was good for the Vidiian characterization but less good for Janeway.
Vylora
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 1:23pm (UTC -6)
The first truly good episode of Voyager. Makes me wonder why they couldn't have this kind of quality writing from the start. Great characterization, plotting, and moral grey areas are the standouts. Adding in the rather neat cat and mouse element inside the asteroid was inspired. Also, the new potential villains are ripe with great storytelling opportunities. In this one episode they seem to have more logical motive for the what and the why and are more multi-faceted than, unfortunately, the will-become-the-norm, cut-n-paste alien of the week.

If there's anything to fault in the episode is its portrayal of the Vidiians by the actors. Not the best performances I've seen, but not horrible.

Not a classic episode but a great showing of what Voyager can do when it's running on all cylinders.

3.5 stars.
Peremensoe
Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 12:00pm (UTC -6)
Trent, if it is the Trolley Problem, it would have to be the "Fat Villain" variant, in which the choice is between innocent victims versus those responsible for (and here profiting from) endangering them.


DLPB, I don't see what "liberal" has to do with it. Liberalism typically advocates for the victimized, which isn't what Janeway or this episode do.
dlpb
Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 7:46pm (UTC -6)
You know precisely what I mean by liberal.
Skeptical
Sun, Oct 19, 2014, 1:14pm (UTC -6)
I wanted to like this episode more than I actually did. On the positive side, we finally got to see another civilization in the Delta Quadrant, and it was a really interesting one. We haven't seen anyone like the Vidiians before, and they provide a wealth of possibilities (and I'm glad we'll see them again). They're a desperate race driven to desperate measures, but are their measures going too far? (Answer: yes) We can have sympathy for them but also fear them and, more importantly, defy them.

So the concept of the Vidiians was a good one. But it didn't work out. Like most others, I agree that Janeway's decision was wrong. But part of that is because, frankly, I don't trust the Vidiian story. Once they beam aboard, their story is nothing but being the nicest little folks around who was forced to do this brutish thing but would never ever do it again. Yet we know their organs will continue to degenerate. So there is a very real chance that these people will kill again. Janeway said that she didn't want to keep them in the Brig forever, and she has a point that that would be too difficult to do. But the problem is that part of the reason for incarceration is punishment but the biggest part is protecting society. By letting them go, Janeway is clearly making this area of space more dangerous. Sure, it may not usually be her responsibility, but it is now.

So Janeway claims she can't kill someone else to save her crewman, even if it is justified to some extent. But by letting them go, she is essentially dooming more people to die as well. Oh, but they seem nice... They only go graverobbing, right?

If that's the case... why do they have a giant trap?!?

That's what the dilithium asteroid was: a trap to bait random explorers to come in and so that they can steal their organs. There can be no other explanation for it. They bait the asteroid, hide in their holographic extraction rooms, and wait until stupid folks like Neelix wander away from everyone else. That elaborate bait defies their innocent expressions: they know what they are doing. To the Vidiians, the rest of the universe is just an organ factory for them, and they will kill anyone in order to get what they want.

And because of that, it's hard to justify not getting the lungs back. This was premeditated murder, and most people understand that deadly force is necessary for self defense. Admittedly, another option was provided, which eliminated self defense. But Janeway didn't know that when she decided to let them go.

Speaking of "other options", why did they desperately need Neelix's lungs back? Did no one consider heading for Talaxian space and looking for a donor there? Maybe that wasn't possible, but it would have been nice to have a reason for it.

Meanwhile, the Magic Mirror Asteroid was also pretty silly. Why did it exist? Was it just to confuse anyone trying to follow the Vidiian ship? Was it another trap? If so, how does it work? Unfortunately, I think the reason for the Magic Mirror asteroid was that someone thought it was cool, so why not? I'm wondering if that's really the trend: just throwing out cool ideas without a very tight plot.

So there were serious problems with the plotting, even if the first part was very good. There was also more evidence that Kes and Neelix aren't the loving couple that they try to convey. As soon as he's incapacitated, Neelix starts imagining Paris trying to angle in on Kes. Possessive and jealous. Again, it seems like Neelix has a rather creepy relationship with Kes, and Kes is just too naïve to realize it.

But Kes is at least turning out to be an interesting character. Yes, the wide eyed innocent who dispenses true wisdom is a bit silly, but her natural rapport with the Doctor was good to see.

So it was probably the best episode to date, but I don't think it's quite complete. At the very least, though, it was the first evidence that the Delta Quadrant was going to be different.
Yanks
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 8:48pm (UTC -6)
With so many aliens in trek that are just blah... I've got to give credit where credit is due.

The Vidians are a great concept. Outstanding dilemma. It seems they are very good at surviving too. Over two millennia and still alive. I'm sure we'll see them again.

For all the "Janeway screwed up" folks... I wonder what your argument will be in 'Tuvix'? Your argument also falls flat because they clearly stated "I have already bio-chemically altered the air-breathing organs and grafted them into Motura's body. They are a part of him now." when Janeway demanded Neelix's lungs back. It wasn't going to happen. So what do you expect her to do? ... shoot them? ... torture them? ...force the to rape someone else's body? eeesh...

I thought Cully Fredricksen's portrayal of Dereth was outstanding!

I felt like slapping Kes upside the head when she said Doc couldn't do anything without her knowing every detail and her approval. Who the hell is she?

I don't care for this Kes/Neelix love affair thing. I feel like he's grave-robbing. The kiss didn't set well with me. Kind of made me feel dirty.

"One of these days I'm going to surprise you, Tuvok, but not today" :-) I'm liking the Tuvok/Janeway relationship.

Great trek episode. Not a 4 star one, but a strong 3.5 from me.


Diamond Dave
Sun, Dec 6, 2015, 4:06pm (UTC -6)
Some strong stuff in here. Interesting concept, some new and rounded villains in the Vidians, a couple of real moral dilemmas, and a real highlight in some sparkling dialogue throughout. The Doctor really is a standout already.

On the downside, a lot of wandering around in dark caverns and it doesn't exactly rattle along, but nevertheless a hint of what the series might be capable of. 3 stars.
JC
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 12:26am (UTC -6)
Well that was creepy. I wonder why nobody ever uses transporters as a weapon. A lot of Trek problems could be solved by just beaming somebody's brain into space...

At some point during this episode it dawned on me that Mulgrew has the voice of a man with a lung full of helium (close your eyes and imagine one of Santas elves or something talking). After that I couldn't focus on her dialog anymore. I'm a little upset that this happened to me so early on. I hope I'll be able to finish the series without giggling every time she talks.

All in all, I kind of liked the eeriness of this episode. The only let down was that Neelix survived.
JC
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 12:33am (UTC -6)
Although scantily clad women stealing Tuvoks brain might have made for an interesting episode...
JC
Sat, Mar 12, 2016, 12:41am (UTC -6)
@Shane in that DS9 episode most of the station memory was used to store their "neural patterns". Their bodies fit nicely in holodeck memory. I know that still doesn't make logical sense for a zillion reasons, but in Trek world, their physical bodies seem storable in a reasonable amount of memory.
routier
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 11:58am (UTC -6)
A silly episode that turned me off the show for years. Janeway's gutlessness in dealing with the aliens was laughable. Imagine Kirk in the same situation:

KIRK: You have something that doesn't belong to you. One of my crew is almost dead because of it. We're taking Neelix's lungs back.

ALIEN: But I will die with out these lungs!

KIRK: You should have thought of that before you committed that crime. You could have come to us and asked for help. We would have given it. Instead, you invaded my ship, attacked my crew, and made Neelix an invalid. There's only one proper course of action, and I'm taking it.

ALIEN: But...

KIRK: Phasers on stun!

Grumpy
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 12:02pm (UTC -6)
@routier
Picard or Sisko might've added, "And we invented this nifty holographic lung for you. You're welcome to keep it."
Yanks
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 1:07pm (UTC -6)
Na, Kirk would have said....

You should have thought of that before you committed that crime. You could have come to us and asked for help. We would have given it. Instead, you invaded my ship, attacked my crew, and made Neelix an invalid. Hey, nice job! I have some Rumolan Ale....
Chrome
Thu, Apr 21, 2016, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
Kirk 2009 would've forced them to listen to the song "Sabotage" until they groveled.
belowzero
Sat, Jun 18, 2016, 4:21am (UTC -6)
When Neelix is transported his matter is being disintegrated and then being put together again. But then again his lung cant be replicated. I dont understand that.
icarus32soar
Sat, Jul 16, 2016, 9:43am (UTC -6)
No, not the Vidiians! I care not about plot and characterisation....the creepiness factor is just too gross. "Phage" is derived from the ancient Greek root of the verb "to eat". It's just beyond silly to think a disease that eats their cellular structures physically can be overcome by grafting harvested organs from aliens. Yikes. Total turn off.
Peter G.
Sat, Jul 16, 2016, 11:08am (UTC -6)
"It's just beyond silly to think a disease that eats their cellular structures physically can be overcome by grafting harvested organs from aliens. Yikes. Total turn off."

"Sheesh! Give the shit a go and look for the subtext. ST is not LITERAL. People making "corrections" about what the writers should have done just plain kill me."

To quote Alf, I kill me.
Pete328
Sat, Jul 30, 2016, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
This is my first time watching Voyager. Four episodes in, and I'd give this one a 3 out of 5 for the characterizations. I'm really liking the Doctor as a character.

Like some earlier commenter pointed out, this episode had me immediately thinking of Spock's Brain, which is generally considered one of TOS's silliest instalments. From a medical standpoint, Phage is pretty silly. Never mind using a stored transporter pattern to restore Neelix's lungs, as several others have pointed out, why not just grow him a new set from stem cells? Given that we are pretty close to doing that now with very fast and easy CRISPR gene sequencing, it's hard to believe ST's advanced technology isn't up to that.

The aliens, wonderfully creepy as they are, don't really make sense to me. They reveal that this rapidly adapting disease has ravaged their once proud civilization for many generations, and moments later one of the pair mentions he was a highly regarded sculptor. How does that work? He takes periodic breaks from murder and organ stealing to work on his art?

Still, it was a solid episode if not examined too closely.
George Monet
Sun, Jul 31, 2016, 7:55pm (UTC -6)
While the episode was interesting, all of the problems that arose within the episode were problems that were easily solveable using the technology of those involved. There is no reason why the Doctor wouldn't replicate lungs if he could make holo lungs. There is no reason why the Doctor couldn't grow new lungs for Neelix. There is no reason why the Collectors couldn't grow their own lungs or use artificial lungs, they had absolutely no need for Neelix's lungs.

The stored organs are directly in conflict with the stated purpose of the Collectors. If the Collectors are storing organs then why wouldn't they just harvest all of Neelix's organs and store them for when they needed later? If the Collectors only take the organs they need, why are they storing random organs that they clearly aren't using right now?

Janeway clearly made the wrong call here. The aliens had no right to take the lungs, therefore they had no right to keep the lungs. These aliens were culpable for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder as well as crimes for stealing organs that don't belong to them. Those organs still don't belong to them after they harvested them. Janeway would not be killing the alien by taking the organs back, rather she'd simply be letting events play out the way they were supposed to play out by taking the organs back from someone who has no right to them over Neelix. And what exactly is giving the organs away accomplishing? Prolonging the life of the sick Collector by 2-3 years? Morality says that the lungs must be returned to Neelix, the rightful owner of the lung and not to the thieves who attempted to commit first degree murder and theft. Not only did the organs have to be returned to Neelix, but the Collector didn't need the lungs because he could use the same hololung concept that Neelix was using.

So thieves who had no need for organs because they could grow their own organs (something we can almost do today in 2016 and which we know they can do in 2316) or create artificial organs, stole the lungs from Neelix and used immediately but didn't steal the rest of his organs even though they were shown to be organ collectors who would most certainly have taken all of Neelix's organs. The Doctor, who could have created artificial lungs for Neelix or grown new lungs for Neelix didn't even though the really could have because the writers refuse to accept that the level of medical technology in the Star Trek universe has rendered the loss of an organ to a mere momentary inconvenience. In fact too many episodes involve taking away technology (random ion storms, cloud cover, a mid summer's night breeze) instead of accepting the existence of technology and then working with that.

If this horrendous disease has been ravaging the population, how has the population managed to produce multiple generations? How do they breed if this disease ravages their internal organs? Does it magically leave their reproductive organs alone? How do the members of the species manage to live long enough to breed? In later episodes it is revealed that the disease actually only affects a few members of their species but the rest of the population is healthy. So why don't they just kill every person who becomes infected in order to keep the disease from spreading? There can be no justification for the organ harvest because the species as a whole isn't dying out, only the few members with the disease are dying. And we have to ask why the species doesn't simply grow new organs or use implants. Their level of technology is supposed to be amazing but apparently they never actually use it, they prefer killing people and stealing organs they don't really need instead.
mephyve
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 7:02pm (UTC -6)
o goody, a hospital episode (yawn) The worst Trek episodes are the ones where we wait for one of the cast to get better. How many times did Jadzia almosy die on DS9? Too many to bother counting. Here we have this weird creature that no one could possibly care about and we're supposed to care if it gets better
JohnC
Thu, Jan 19, 2017, 10:22am (UTC -6)
I have to agree with some of the commenters - Janeway's going to let an organ-thief go scot-free after a violent assault that leaves the victim immobile for the rest of his life? Ummmm, no.

It seems Janeway is bound and determined to default to decisions that cause hardship to those she has charge of in favor of strangers to whom she owes no duty. First, she destroys the only means for the Voyager crew to get home. Neelix is one of the only two people on board who want to be on that ship at that place in time, and two episodes later she's ready to let two ghouls harvest his lungs and keep him in immobile isolation for the rest of his life. If I was Kes, I'd be watching my back to see how Janeway's going to try to sell me down the river.....

Ildaf
Tue, Feb 7, 2017, 11:39am (UTC -6)
Good episodes with some promising character development

I like the Vidians, they're not just random Hard-Headed-Alien of the week and has some depth to their character. Too bad after 'The Faces' (which I considered also a good episodes) they drop this complex alien character trait which made them unique, and turn it into just another Hard-Headed-Alien of the week that want to invade the ship (Deadlock, Resolutions).

Kes and Doctor interactions was very good here. It puts the foundation for Doc motivation to growth beyond his programming (and ultimately the most interesting character in series), while also develop Kes character by taking more responsibilities.

Neelix also got some character development by taking initiative to form galley and interest on more active role on the ship. He's taken the news of incapacitated condition quite good and reasonable initially "Your ceiling is hideous".
Too bad from then on his character is spiraling down and damned by making him an irritable character for most of the time throughout entire series, also with Obsessive-Jealous trait beyond reasonable for Kes (which would not be tone-down and resolved until season 2).

I found Janeway resolution is acceptable/reasonable given the condition that :
a) Taken the lung back from the Vidians wouldn't work on Neelix as it has bio-chemically altered to suit Vidians (at least not without the Vidians help)
b) It's pretty much a First-Contact condition. Getting new enemy and inducing the possibility of all-out war to a new species, especially when you're alone in the galaxy should avoided if it's all possible. She made a strong grond stance and reasonable ultimatum here, so I'm okay with it.
I agree the misty-eyed is a bit over the top acting. Mulgrew over the series seems have the tendency over-doing with body languange, which sometimes I found downright annoying (the occassional smirk and smarmy attitude)

On trailer they mention to build "refining facility to process dilithium". This is one big lost potential that I regretted much they dont follow through (even seems forgotten and discarded by the end of this episodes).
How awesome can be if the idea is taken into action and expanded to "R&D and Tech Dept" later. Something like Astrometric Dept, but the idea here is to founded dedicated department for experimental technology and a way that allow them get home sooner.

They can utilize Harry (so he have something to do other than cant-get-a-lock) and Lt. Carey as recurring guest for that department. One or two episodes every seasons will be enough. That will give a real sense of Voyager evolve and adapt to it's condition. Find a way of replace depleted torpedo, new energy, new com method, etc. Not just magically having infinite torpedo from their ass, and found magic technology at any random episodes they chose to. Ah well, one can hope.

Good episodes, but not a great one.
Agree on 3 (***) stars
Katisaurus
Sun, May 14, 2017, 11:51am (UTC -6)
I like this episode. Voyager doesn't do many things better than TNG, but one of them is pulling off simple space adventure stories like this. In TNG Phage would've most likely been a bad episode but here it's pretty fun.

I do think it was a missed opportunity to not have Janeway bargain with the Vidiians. She knows they have more advanced medical technology and were capable of using Neelix's lungs for themselves, so she could've guessed they'd be able to save him. It'd show Janeway as a shrewd captain playing under a new rulebook. Naturally there's then a scene with Tuvok where she admits she'd have let them go regardless. We'd get the same Janeway idealism, just less frustrating.
Peter Swinkels
Mon, Jul 31, 2017, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
Nice episode, but if the aliens could adept Kes's lungs, then why not replicate lungs (something stated as possible, right?) and adept those?
William B
Sat, Aug 26, 2017, 11:44pm (UTC -6)
Ah, the Vidiians. What a great concept. We're talking about horrific organ-harvesters, but not out of sadism or even ideology, but pure survival. An individual with a disease that causes him to wither will probably let himself die rather than harm another (particularly if the weight of expectations of his fellow people are on him), but what of an entire civilization, species? I think it's the best *idea* for a new (recurring) species that Voyager produced, though I'm not commenting on the execution in the coming episodes (I don't really remember).

As for this episode -- well, it's not bad. The reveal of the Vidiians is at the end. At first it seems to be an episode about how Neelix's busybody traits get him into trouble -- ignoring convention and the chain of command because he doesn't know any better and insists on pretending he does -- but this element mostly gets dropped once he's in stasis, though seeing Neelix unable to restrain himself in the teaser adds more to his plight later in the episode; everyone would have a hard time being motionless for the rest of their life, but it's going to be particularly hard on Neelix. The character work for Neelix, the Doctor and Kes generally works pretty well and takes up most of the material. I guess I'm a bit skeptical, as far as the Doctor's arc goes, of having him invent a new medical procedure so early in the series; I feel like the ambiguity (is the Doctor a person? is he capable of growth?) is something the show maybe could have toyed with a little longer before giving us early evidence of his ability for innovation.

The chase for the Vidiians was nothing special, I thought; the "hall of mirrors" visual can be an effective trope (c.f. Orson Welles' "The Lady From Shanghai") but here didn't really do much. And how would that light-reflection thing work anyway -- wouldn't the problem remain, with the phaser hitting the ship being endlessly reflected in all the "mirrors"? Neat visual, I guess.

The big open question is Janeway's treatment of the Vidiians at the end. There's some hint that one of the two Vidiians, as the procurer of organs, has greater responsibility for the act than the person who actually gets them, which strengthens the idea that Janeway doesn't feel morally justified in killing the guy. And I do get Janeway's reticence to take the lungs back knowing that they will kill this individual, *particularly when* Neelix is alive and is going to stay alive. I get why people object to this, but...I get reticence to rip organs out of a living being, even if those organs were recently taken from a member of her crew. Still, I feel like this part of the story still needed a little (if you'll forgive the lungs-related indulgence) breathing room, though. Could Janeway have suggested (or insisted) on looking for another replacement for this Vidiian's lungs -- do the Vidiians have advanced holographic technology, for instance? It's true that holding the Vidiians in the brig for the whole voyage home is not an option, but she maybe could have held them at least long enough to make sure there weren't any other options that could lead to both Neelix and the Vidiian surviving. As in Caretaker, the decision happens quickly and without discussion, but whereas in Caretaker there was at least a ticking clock, here it just seems as if Janeway is a rash captain, particularly since it only takes a few seconds for the Vidiians to come up with their own solution which is non-ideal but better than Janeway's. Maybe this is meant to be an early demonstration of Janeway's being relatively ill-equipped to be out on their own with no support (she references bringing the Vidiians in to her superiors explicitly).

Anyway. Let's say 2.5 stars.
Skipple
Mon, Sep 4, 2017, 10:39pm (UTC -6)
Neelix deserved to have his lungs taken. He disobeyed Chakotay's orders to come back several times.

The doc is just a support EMH not programmed to be a full time doctor, yet invents a whole new miraculous medical procedure in about an hour, that no one had ever thought of before. OK.

The doc slapping Paris was pretty funny.

Why did the Vidiians go to that asteroid mirror thing? Weren't they trying to get away? Voyager wasn't catching up with them, so why not just fly home or call in reinforcements or something? Janeway asks them why, but they never answer.

And Janeway says that if they ever attempt to do this to them again, she will stop them using 'the deadliest force'. So if they try to kill any of her crew she will kill them, but if they succeed, actually killing one of her crew, as they did now (or would have without the doc's miracle), then they can live? wut?

2 stars from me
JanielM
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
It's so weird. The first time I watched Voyager it became my favorite Trek series. I mean it had some (major) flaws, but I loved the characters, loved the actors, and Picardo may be my all time favorite Doctor. Or Phlox. Or Doc. I don't know!

Anyway, it's years later and I'm watching it again and it's driving me nuts. Maybe because I'm in the middle of writing a novel myself, the near constant cognitive dissonance in the writing and characterizations is making me batty and I don't know if I'm going to make it through the thing. First episode Janeway blows the Prime Directive out of the water by making decisions for two peoples and blowing up the array--making even more life-shattering decisions for everyone on her ship. Two episodes later she gets up and moralizes about the PD. Gah. If I remember correctly, this keeps happening.

It would have been easy to have the Stranding-in-the-Delta-Quadrant come from something less egregious, more natural. And they really needed to mine the stranding and how people felt about Janeway's unilateral decision for them, and how the Maquis and the Federation learned to get along. Sigh. It would have added needed depth and believability to everything

I just miss the more plausible alien life-forms on the other Trek series. Did not love the turd-haired Kazons who could build battle cruisers but couldn't find water. Couldn't deal with the weird 1970's Stepford-esque society and bad acting (and hair and costumes) in Time and Again. And I canNOT deal with the Vidiians, no matter how cool an idea organ-snatching-space-pirates is. So gross. So so gross. And such silly silly voice choices. Sigh.

As a side note, I would like to have seen a combined ethical/non-ethical solution to the lung problem. Along the lines of:

"Dudes. We don't murder people for personal gain, like you do. So we're just going to take one of those lungs back."
"Wait! With only one lung the phage will kill me sooner!"
"You're right. I'd hate to put you through that. We'll take both."
"I'm good. Happy breathing. Bye."
"Don't let the door knock your butt off on the way out. Next time it won't be just lungs we transport out of you."

So, I think what I've learned is a lot of what one enjoys in entertainment is what one brings to it. I used to be bored by DS9 and love Voyager. This year I loved DS9 and want slap Voyager upside the head.

Maybe I'll go watch Parks and Rec reruns instead.
At least for a minute.
artymiss
Wed, Sep 6, 2017, 3:56am (UTC -6)
@JanieIM

I am the same. I loved Voyager when I first saw it, now I'm watching it years later and, apart from a few episodes, wondering what on earth I saw in it. It actually feels really dated, I think possibly this is because it primarily consists of stand alone episodes. It's very frustrating that something momentous happens to a character and then that event is never mentioned again. It's all so shallow. The scripts are drowning in technobabble. And Janeway's split personality thing is infuriating. Voyager improves when 7 appears, but not enough.
Janiel Miller
Wed, Sep 6, 2017, 2:12pm (UTC -6)
@artymiss

I think you're right that it's because of the standalone eps. Any of them could have been put in a TNG season seamlessly. The idea of two feuding crews getting stranded together in the Delta quadrant should be blooming with fantastic plots. Instead it's like they said, "Okay, we've set the stage, that's done. Now lets film all the episodes that got rejected for TNG and DS9." So sad. There could have been FABulous conflict between the crew and Janeway, and the crews themselves as they all adjusted to working together, and instead it was like, "Oh. Janeway stranded us out here. Together. Dang. What's for lunch?" Also, Chakotay was wasted, and that was sad because he was cool. The music even feels dated to me!

Oh well. I will enjoy Doc and some of the other character interactions. :)
I enjoyed Enterprise the first time I watched it (probably mostly because of Phlox and the ever fabulous Jeffrey Combs.) Wonder how I will feel about it now...
Yanks
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 6:34am (UTC -6)
Funny, while I love all the trek series, I seem to enjoy re-watching Voyager the most.
artymiss
Fri, Sep 8, 2017, 6:35am (UTC -6)
@janiel

Well, I have my suspicions that Chakotay/Beltran may have been a major part of the appeal when I was watching all those years ago!

I still love Enterprise, I've just rewatched it all on DVD and apart from a few minor quibbles I had I really enjoyed it, so you never know you might still like it. If they had continued beyond season 4 Shran/Combs was going to join the crew, I'm still sulking that never happened...
Silly
Sat, Sep 9, 2017, 10:32am (UTC -6)
I kept wondering why they didn't do what the guy in Alien wondered: "Why don't they freeze Neelix?" We've of course seen various forms of suspended animation and more going all the way back to at least Space Seed.

Of course had it been mentioned, it would have been summarily shot down with a line of technobabble.
Dave
Sun, Sep 17, 2017, 11:50pm (UTC -6)
As mentioned above, with transporter technology, the main device in every sickbay really should essentially be a "medical transporter". Pretty much something like the healing chambers from the film "Elysium".

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