Star Trek: Voyager

"Nothing Human"


Air date: 12/2/1998
Written by Jeri Taylor
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Ethics are arbitrary." — Krell

Nutshell: An interesting episode that specializes in pulling the rug out from under itself. I like the arguments quite a bit, but I take great exception to the methods used to present them.

The setup: The crew beams an alien creature aboard Voyager just before its damaged ship explodes.

The problem: Soon after, the injured creature attacks Torres, using her as a "life preserver." It physically latches onto her body, and if it's not removed, Torres will die. Doc can't treat her, because he doesn't have the necessary specialized knowledge of exobiology.

The possible solution: Doc looks through his medical files and finds a Cardassian database on exobiology, and creates a holographic simulation of Doctor Krell Moset (David Clennon), a Cardassian specialist who can treat Torres.

The complication: A moral dilemma arises when the crew learns Krell was present during the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor and had tested many of his theories on live Bajoran subjects.

Maybe the creators decided to disregard caution—and even common sense—in their plotting of this episode, hoping this story could sustain itself with the central issue of controversy that arises with Krell's presence. They were half right. I liked many of the story's arguments a great deal; some genuine thought went into Jeri Taylor's script. But there are also some egregious lapses in judgment, and I don't think the episode survives its plot shortcomings. The drawbacks run so deep here as to make the central situation fundamentally flawed, which infects the rest of the episode. I'm not even sure where to begin.

Actually, I am. Let's start with Krell. I have a big, big problem with the exceptionally casual creation of a such a perfect holographic rendition of a real person, replete with surgical skills that would normally require years of acquired experience. In a word: how? Granted, DS9 has Vic Fontaine, who borders on sentience and has extraordinary social abilities, but it was said in dialog that his was a "very special program"; as such, I'd imagine it was created with a specific intention in mind by trained programming specialists who required great time, care, attention, and testing to get it right. The same goes for Doc's own program; he was the product of extensive research and development by Doctor Zimmerman. Doc's knowledge and technical abilities required a great deal of complexity in his technological makeup—just look at third season's "The Swarm" for plentiful evidence of such.

But here? Harry and Doc spend a few minutes in the holodeck, give the computer a few broad commands, and presto—Krell in the flesh, a surgical assistant who can supply Doc with the assistance he needs to save B'Elanna's life.


First of all, this opens an enormous can of worms (which will undoubtedly be ignored outright). Think of all the implications (the story certainly didn't): If a crafty ensign and a holographic doctor can just throw together a few data files to make a carbon copy of an actual specialist, why do we even need people to run starships? To put it another way, if Torres is lying in sickbay dying and the ship needs to be saved with a technical engineering procedure, Harry could just go into the holodeck, slap together her logs and published knowledge and a few personality files, and then ask this hologram what needs to be done to save the ship from the spatial distortion of the week. According to the logic of this episode, it would work.

Secondly, this idea goes against mostly everything we've been told over the years about the limitations of holograms. (Okay, except maybe "Concerning Flight," in which Doc's holo-emitter became a vessel for the life knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci. Please note that I didn't give that episode a positive review either.) And because this episode isn't about the nature of a hologram's existence (it's just an annoying incidental as far as the episode is concerned), then it's obvious that Krell's existence was nothing more than a device to bring about the central moral dilemma. As a result, this to me seems as arbitrary and magical as the much-feared "Fun With DNA" syndrome, which really rankles.

Third, the episode doesn't even seem to know what really makes up "Krell the hologram," and quietly concocts his nature in whatever convenient way suits the story. There's a great deal of greyness to exactly what data this hologram is comprised of. Just how much actual personality information was in the real Krell's data files, and why would it even be there? Personally, I don't think it should be there.

Why does this bother me so much? I'll tell you why. It's not simply that I don't buy the plausibility of such a perfect holographic likeness (which I don't), it's that the use of the hologram is a sneaky way of avoiding the real ethical issue here—especially considering the story at one point tells us that the Krell hologram isn't programmed with knowledge of the atrocities the real Krell committed. (Conveniently, he's programmed with all of Krell's surgical knowledge, opinions, personality, and so forth—but no memory of being a "bad person." How very nice.)

The real issue here is whether or not medical knowledge obtained through inhumane methods is morally right to use to benefit another. On more than one occasion, "Nothing Human" does a reasonably good job at tackling this question. There are several interesting arguments between Doc and Krell about ethics (leading to Krell's most intriguingly troubling line, "Ethics are arbitrary"). But the problem is, by putting so much ambiguity in the nature of Krell, the story often doesn't seem to know whether the other characters object to the idea of using his knowledge, or if they simply object to the idea of Krell himself.

What if Krell's medical database had been downloaded into a hologram of a Starfleet doctor? The answer: No one would have given it a second thought. We wouldn't have Torres' general prejudice against Cardassians setting up the unease. We wouldn't have a convenient Bajoran crew member (where did he come from, and where has he been for the last four years?) recognizing Krell as a mass murderer from the Occupation days. We wouldn't have Harry and Seven researching the databases to find out where Krell and his research came from and if crimes were in fact committed.

In short, the characters would be using the knowledge without knowing where it came from. And why should they know where it came from? If the data is in the Starfleet medical database, then one would think it's generally accepted as fair use by the Federation. While I find it generally unlikely that such a Cardassian database would exist in Starfleet records given the time frame of the Cardassian Occupation (that is, it ended only a few years before Voyager was lost in the Delta Quadrant, and at that time Cardassia wasn't on the best of terms with the Federation), if we grant that it did come to be part of the Federation's medical knowledge, the unspoken message here is that the databases are full of procedures that could've been obtained anywhere at any cost. Does that mean the Voyager crew needs to research every medical procedure and ask where it came from? I tend to doubt it, and the story also seems to doubt it, if we're meant to take anything Krell says to heart—but it's one important question that is never asked directly.

The episode's attempt to have its cake and eat it too leads this story into an analysis of mostly Krell the man, who, if you stop to think about it, isn't really part of the issue at all. He's just data that was assembled into a hologram who obviously isn't regarded as a real person (because, for one, his fate is entirely subject to Doc's decision to pull the plug after it's all over). As a result, I see Krell as an object of convenience in story terms. It's much easier to hate an evil man than an obscure memory of a possibly evil event or faceless data obtained at an unknown cost.

Now, I'll admit that may be part of the point. It sometimes takes drastic circumstances for us to realize the gravity of a moral issue. And Krell's dialog about using something—even if it goes against our morals—when we need it is all good for the sake of the argument.

Watching "Nothing Human," I'm reminded of third season's "Sacred Ground," which was full of ambivalence and tough questions without answers. The problem with that episode, which is also the problem here, is that the story wants to bring up issues and not address them in realistic terms, but instead only on extremely specific, uniquely plotted terms. Buried in this episode is lots of good ethical debate, but it's bogged down by an overabundance of technical side effects. The real question (i.e., what are the ethical implications of using this medical knowledge?) is at times lost in a sea of plot-rigged conditions (e.g., the amount of Krell's memories that are programmed into the hologram, the fact that a Bajoran officer happens to recognize Krell, the convenience of the central source of conflict being a hologram that can be deactivated at will, etc.).

And given that I'm against the idea of this hologram as a foundation of the story in the first place (which alone is almost damning enough to the episode), that doesn't leave us in great shape, despite the fact there are some admirable scenes in the crew's debate of the issue.

Near the end, Janeway makes one of her patented controversial decisions. I found this decision interesting, but ultimately not enlightening. She says, in a nicely written scene in the briefing room where everyone is arguing the issue, that she can't let her crew member die—she has to make the decision based on what's best for Voyager. She says she accepts all moral consequences of accepting Krell's help—that the procedure will be performed and that "we'll deal with the moral ramifications later."

All fine and good (especially the revisited notion about doing what's best for Voyager), but does Janeway (and hence the episode) really end up dealing with the moral ramifications? I don't think so. The first thing Janeway tells an angry B'Elanna after the operation is, "We have to put this behind us," even going so far is to order B'Elanna to move on. That's pretty extreme and controversial (and interesting as a result), but is it enough? No. It can't simply end there. Yet it does ... especially considering that all will almost certainly be forgotten by next week.

It's funny, because "Nothing Human" feels like a sudden attempt for Voyager to try winding back the clock to the Voyager series of yesteryear—back when "the Starfleet way" was often held in question given the nature of the Delta Quadrant. Unfortunately, such aspects of Voyager have been dead and buried since season two, and a resurrection of them here seems a little forced. Also, Janeway's decision doesn't seem to be consistent with such moral decisions she has made in the past, like her decision in "Prey" to potentially sacrifice the entire ship rather than see an 8472 killed. I wonder what kind of stir-up this episode could've been if there really were room for conflict on Voyager (which as we all know there isn't—the crew is just one big happy family).

All in all, "Nothing Human" is a real frustration. It's a story that has ideas that stand out as deep and provocative, but it doesn't know how to convey those ideas effectively. The result is an unsteady, unfocused clash of ideals that is sometimes entertaining while other times simply infuriating. There's certainly respectable ambition here, but that ambition doesn't net a successful result.

Overall, I'm rating this episode as mediocre. It's based upon a massive flaw that permeates the whole story. But it does have value because, like the "Tuvix" debate, it's something with complexities worthy of discussion. I could probably discuss them for days. I like that this story incited some reactions in me. I just wish I didn't have to completely throw conventional wisdom out the window while deconstructing the plot in searching for the truth.

Next week: Star Trek: Waterworld.

Previous episode: Infinite Regress
Next episode: Thirty Days

◄ Season Index

108 comments on this review

Thu, Jan 17, 2008, 2:21pm (UTC -6)
That was so stupid not wanting to get operated because he's a hologram of a evil guy.
Mon, Feb 4, 2008, 7:01pm (UTC -6)
The 'convenient' Bajoran is crewman Gerron, one of the Maquis members. He was introduced in 'Learning Curve'.
Tue, Feb 5, 2008, 12:56pm (UTC -6)
How about Torres' body and uniform being in perfect condition after the alien who was forcefully attached to her and hijacking her respitory system - was removed?
Thu, Mar 27, 2008, 3:42pm (UTC -6)
Not to oversimplify, but how much effort would it have taken for the Doc to say "computer, change physical paramater: species to human" when it was brought up to him (during its creation) that people might have a problem with a Cardassian?

I agree with you; this is the one random time Doc can't just "read up" on whatever he needs to know, and creation of the hologram goes insanely easily. One blip and then the next attempt and he's perfect. Consider in one of the episodes where Doc goes away for a while (Message in a Bottle, or Life Line? I don't recall which) Kim and Paris go about the "simple" task of creating a new Doctor so that Paris can get out of his temp medic job, and it basically blows up in their faces, [I'll forgo the questions on why 24th century starships don't have copy-paste for him] it was insanely easy here; though I should note that there is plenty of historical conflict on this - Geordi created a fairly good Leah Brahams hologram back in the day, but at least he had to actually tell the computer what information to use to form her personality and information... it's hard to distinguish between the Leah hologram being an instant creation engineering database person and the Doc being a complex and arduous to create medical database person, and then Krell being once again a simple easy to create biology database person. Where is the line drawn?

That said, even if Doc was too naive to change the hologram to a human before all this starts, I don't see why they couldn't still do it to eliminate Tores' resistance after she objects. "We did some more research and we found a human biology expert!"
Thu, Mar 27, 2008, 8:59pm (UTC -6)
In addition to the comments made by TH, I want to add one thing: B'Elanna's ingratitude. Her life has been saved and she acts like Captain Janeway did something horrible to her. If she really felt that way, she could have simply taken a phaser, set it to kill, put it to her own head, and then fired. Of course she doesn't do that, so how upset is she really?
Thu, Mar 27, 2008, 9:43pm (UTC -6)
Yes the fact that they didn't just change the Cardassian appearance is a bit odd of course, to say the least. And the quick-setup-hologram. And the Doc's sudden data limit. Oh well, contrived forced conflict but it was decently executed, so I won't complain that much!
Sun, May 18, 2008, 5:52am (UTC -6)
It wasn't Gerron, it was Tabor, and he popped up again later in "Repression".

I love Janeway at the end of this one, basically saying, "Get over it #@#!". Torres always one of my favourite characters, but she really pissed me off here.
Sat, Jun 7, 2008, 7:45am (UTC -6)
They can make a 100% accurate hologram version of the Alien by a simple command from the doctor, but then they have to CUT the hologram open to find out how it looks inside (and make wild speculations while doing so). The hologram even suffers from pain, so the computer even understood the nervous system!!!

At first Doc couldnt make ANY clue out of the creature, when scanning it with his instruments, this makes him look like a total idiot.

Doesnt that sound stupid to anyone else here?

Adding all the other inconsistencies mentioned by others here this episode is definetly way below 'mediocre'...
Tue, Jul 29, 2008, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
I am surprised that neither Jammer nor previous commenters have noted that the ethical dilemma presented in this episode is a real one--shall the data collected by the Nazis during their horrifying experiments be used? The answer is not simple and is argued to this day.

I think the Voyager writers must have been inspired by this particular issue--but I agree that the presentation was ridiculous. The possibility of a thoughtful exploration of the subject was undercut by the many stupidities of the episode.

The crucial question, in relation to the tortured subjects of the Nazis or the Cardassians, is one the episode ignored entirely--what would the victims want? Would they like their deaths to have some meaning, or would they feel their suffering is being exploited?

Once again, Voyager fails to even attempt an answer.
Tue, Aug 26, 2008, 9:58am (UTC -6)
So using the logic of this episode, if it were a Klingon doctor who they were getting the insight from, would everyone be so angry? Oh wait, I am sure the Klingon doctors never did anything like use live patients for subjects.....
John Pate
Tue, Jan 20, 2009, 11:29am (UTC -6)
This one was a "miss." Although the issues they were raising were potentially interesting they were obscured rather than illuminated by the SF trappings which made it a rather pointless exercise. Probably doubly pointless because, back here in the real world, people may pretend to be arguing about these moral dilemmas but they're carrying in practical fact as if they aren't there.
Sat, Feb 28, 2009, 2:02am (UTC -6)
What grumpy_otter said.

The idea is interesting but the 47 plot contrivances needed to make it happen makes the "allegory" portion of the script rapidly turn into the "-gory."

At least the actors give it the old college try. At least we didn't run into another spatial anomaly.

But man, was that alien beetle prop totally lame.

Thu, Apr 2, 2009, 9:19pm (UTC -6)
I assumed they used the same technology the Doctor used in Darkling, and Janeway used last season...creating a hologram of a famous person extrapolating from all available information. It's not unprecedented.
Abhiroop Basu
Wed, May 20, 2009, 9:25pm (UTC -6)

While it is certainly not unprecedented to create a hologram like that, and it is arguable relatively easy to create it, but look at all the gaping holes.

1. How on earth would they have such technical information about Krell? I mean at best they'd have his medical information (even that is doubtful). As for creating other characters I guess the argument is that the characters we see are extrapolations of characters. So, for example in "Concerning Flight" the Da Vinci character is not ANYTHING like the real Da Vinci as we don't have accurate records of his personality. All we have are his paintings, inventions, etc. So, I guess it could be argued that Krell's personality is just one that is programmed by Harry (albeit it is done very quickly).

2. If they can create one hologram why don't they have a whole medical team? Or equip other regions of the ship with holo-emittors and create another crew. I accept this would take a lot of energy but would it not be useful to have a Capt. Kirk and all his experience? Or just a hologram in important parts of the ship, so that if something happens (e.g. life-support fails) there is a backup. There have been many times where the doctor has been essential because he's not human and not limited.

3. A general critique of hologram tech is "the safeties are off". What? How on earth could a simulated projectile cause injury? THis is the most contrived invention. Remember from First Contact where Picard shoots the Borg with a tommy gun. Very cool scene but highly implausible. If you get shot by the holographic bullet wouldn't it dissapear as soon as you leave the holodeck? This is another argument that can be used for the action sequences in "The Killing Game".

Anyway holo tech needs to be taken with a big grain of salt.
Ken Egervari
Sat, Oct 31, 2009, 1:22pm (UTC -6)
My biggest problems with this story are quite similar to our resident reviewer.

I frankly don't understand how they made a hologram as sophisticated as the doctors in such a short time, especially when the show has established a premise that it is not trivial technology. Even in DS9 we are given a glimpse of how much work is needed to create a hologram of such capacity. I'm not buying the premise of this episode.

Even more bothering, and this is something the review does not mention, is why all of a sudden did they think about creating a hologram for THIS procedure?

This is the most baffling thing. How many times have we seen this type of patient need "emergency" treatment. Why didn't they make holograms for those episode too? Oh... that's right! You just needed an evil cardassian hologram for this episode!

I actually liked the debate questions between the doctors, and among the crew. I also agree with the reviewer that the show completely downplays the drama and trivializes it. Seriously, if I were Belanna, I'd be pissed to. She has every right to be. And frankly, if this show were modeled after real people, Belanna might be pissed at Janeway for awhile.

Also, didn't we just do an episode where the all the maquis died? The maquis were fighting... who? Oh... that's right - CARDASSIANS. Do you not think some of that might get thrown into the mix? I mean her meltdown just happened only a few episodes ago... and it's not even mentioned here. I think a real person would react much more strongly here.

Of course, Voyager is just filled with puppet characters for the most part, with near zero continuity between the events that happen to the characters.

And you are right - we never got an answer to the debate. None whatsoever. They completely cheesed out on these questions, thus trivializing the only good part about the show.

Purely rubbish if you ask me.
Fri, Nov 27, 2009, 4:59pm (UTC -6)
I just finished this episode, and it still bugs me how hypocritical the Voyager crew is. Any crimes that the entire Cardassian race may have committed in the past pale in comparison to what the Borg have done. Yet that's never stopped Voyager from benefitting from Seven of Nine's technology and expertise.
Sun, Nov 29, 2009, 4:04pm (UTC -6)
Ugh, awful episode. Y'know this is Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres)'s least favourite episode. I see why.
Thu, Jan 28, 2010, 9:19pm (UTC -6)
"If a crafty ensign and a holographic doctor can just throw together a few data files to make a carbon copy of an actual specialist, why do we even need people to run starships?"

We don't. In the future humans are no longer slaves of technology. Just because we can do a thing does not mean we must do a thing. Ie, just because we can have robots flying ships we don't do it, what would the humans do?
The joys of a capitalistfree society - people do what they want.
Sun, Feb 21, 2010, 11:36am (UTC -6)
With Voyager (and Scifi in general) I try to be generous in my suspension of disbelief, and focus on enjoying the ethical debates and emotional interactions of the characters. My enjoyment of this episode came from 2 sources:
1. Krell Moset's character was charismatic and chemistry with the Doctor was great. The Doctor really wanted to overlook/deny any faults in Krell. I enjoyed how Krell could be likeable and yet his actions detestable, which rings true to real life at times.
2. Krell's argument at the end about throwing ethics out the window when the need is great enough rang true, despite the Doctor's determination to wipe Krell's program. It seems fair to use this research if the victims (or their families) were willing to give meaning to their deaths and save future lives, but Krell should not be rewarded. The knowledge can do good, just like Seven's knowledge from the Borg, but how it was obtained was by harming others against their will.
Peronal rating: 3 stars
Thu, Feb 25, 2010, 6:38pm (UTC -6)
Well pointed out about hypocrisy. As Seven admits in the previous episode no less, 'I've helped to assimilate thousands of individuals', but no-one bats an eyelid. The only one with consistent views is Torres, who hates Seven as much as that Cardassian. (but then i think Torres hates everyone, even Paris).

I suppose it's different if you can build weapons based technology on the deaths of millions rather than life-saving strategies based on the deaths of hundreds.

I did like Janeway's comment, 'still seems to be some demons in here, hope that stuff works'. Hey, she can't be perfect in taking 'controversial' decisions. Didn't Picard violate the PD about 21 times or something?

Note on Picardo. Excellent acting, makes me laugh out loud.
Wed, Jun 30, 2010, 9:56am (UTC -6)
Well, the episode itself was pathetic, for reasons others have so ably enumerated. But the ethical dilemma is very interesting, and I was particularly intrigued by what grumpy_otter said.

Half my family was murdered by the Nazis; my father was saved from a concentration camp at five minutes to Twelve. Yet, I have no problem Nazi medical research - whatever methods it was obtained through - being used for good today. I reckon saving lives, including those of the very same people they tried to exterminate, is the best revenge (insofar as it's meaningful to talk about revenge against something/someone which doesn't exist any longer). Does it really make more sense to lose even more lives? Besides, who is to say that, between the original unethicaly discovery and the controversy erupting, a bona fide scientist would not have made the same discovery? This is just throwing the baby out with the bath water.

As far as choosing to die rather than be saved using unethically-sourced research, I don't get it: What/whom are you protesting against? What/whom is that "protest" designed to hurt?

I would have no problem electing to benefit from the Nazis' science-related discoveries; and would dedicate a portion of my saved life to fight against neo-Nazism and all forms of fascist totalitarianism. What good would I be to anyone if I was dead???
Fri, Aug 27, 2010, 11:48pm (UTC -6)
Okay, unusually for Jammer, I think a lot of things went over his head here.

First the issue of the hologram's creation: 1) remember Dr. Leah Brahms, Enterprise D's designer whom Geordi fell in love with via holodeck recreation? We see in a followup episode, that of course the holo-Brahms, in spite of its realism and ability to help save the day, is not a real person like the genuine article when we actually meet her. Why, just because Krell is charming and jovial, do we take him to be at the same level of complexity as the Doctor? I do not. He is programmed with a specific function and medical knowledge, not the kinds of adaptive and heuristic abilities of the Doc, and a superficial politico-image personality which is actually thematic to the point here. 2) We have seen the advantage in TNG and VOY of harbouring historical people in holographic shells which in some way represent them (Data might call it "an ineffable quality"). Dr. Zimmerman, the Vidiian woman whom the Doctor revivied, for example. Krell is no more absurd a creation than any other holographic character. Hell, Moriarti is far more ludicrous an invention, and one could easily argue his conjuring is a plot device.

Okay, onto the meatier dilemma; the isolation of this incident in the database. Continuity issues are irrelevant unless they interfere with character development (which they sometimes do, but not here--how much knowledge of Cardassian medicine Voyager possesses or not affects no one's character). Now, the ethical point of the episode is not nearly so clearcut as much Trek can be--which is why it puzzles me Jammer doesn't dig it--while the point is definitely made (by Krell) that if the crew were to investigate its own medical knowledge, even or especially that derived by humans, it would find a similarly bloodstained history--thought not connected perhaps to events so recent and relevant to characters whose lives were directly affected by the events. So what is the solution? None is offered; as Janeway says, "You're both right." One cannot deny the ethical questionability of using Krell's research, but to second guess it at the cost of Torres' life sets a precedent of inaction in an almost infinite number of situations--ethical stagnation. Janeway's choice is to be amoral and save her crewman. We are reminded here of "Tuvix" where an equally difficult and unsolvable ethical situation required Janeway's controversy, but here the ethical situation is much closer to our reality.

As an episode, we have lasting and thematic character development for the Doctor and between Janeway and Torres (quite a feat considering the latter spent most of her screentime covered by a rubber lobster). It is not perfect to be sure, but it is a successful and meaningful episode--and I think the number of comments on this very page is evidence of its ability to make people think--which I believe is a central criterion to Jammer's quality control.
Thu, Dec 2, 2010, 12:09am (UTC -6)
One comment about people's comparison with the Borg: the Borg are not evil, they don't make decisions as a people or debate ethics, that act on pure agression and desire; Arturis in "Hope and Fear" compares them to a force of nature, and I think he's right (at least until VOY deconstructs them with their analysis of the queen). One cannot feel moral objections to a force of nature.
Sun, Mar 6, 2011, 2:43pm (UTC -6)
How convenient that suddenly there's a Bajoran aboard. One that doesn't want to work for Seven because B'Ehlanna dooesn't much like her (how'd he get into Starfleet with that 'tude?), even though the obvious goal is to help Torres survive...bad, bad episode.
Sat, Apr 16, 2011, 2:35am (UTC -6)
Just watched this one again...let's see so

We've got a fascinating and complex moral issue, we have efficient and well-paced plotting, we have absolutely brilliant acting and subtlety written dialogue, we have beautiful scenes and camera work, we have believable and poignant character interactions, we have a balanced and meaningful distribution of rôles amongst the cast, we have an issue which is both unique to the Voyager situation and one which deals directly with the circumstances of home (the alpha quadrant)...yes I can see why this is such a terrible episode...
Essentially every piece of technology in all incarnations of Trek are absurd depending upon one'e level of technical expertise. I could (and have) successfully convince someone of how warp drive is possible, but try that on a physicist. To complain about "magical" technology here is a non sequitor. It's all magical, it's there to make a point, not convince us of its own plausibility.
The man was Cardassian not to evoke in us a natural prejudice against him (that's for B'Elana and Tabor)...we, being the progressive Trekers we are, force ourselves to be openminded--Okay, he's a Cardassian, one shouldn't lump him together with those Guls who ran the camps, he's just a doctor. And such a nice guy--The point of all this is to narrow the focus upon the actual moral issue more than most other situations would allow for. We see the characters getting wrapped up in histrionics and racial issues as most of us would, but we are left with the pure ideas presented. Very nice. The episode doesn't take a stance on the issue, which is not only fine, it's preferable. Janeway said it, both perspectives are right depending upon the circumstances, which in her view as captain must incline towards survival. Now, I know there have been instances where Janeway chooses to sacrifice (potentially) her ship and crew for a moral stance, but in those cases, the ethics weren't at all grey as they are here.

You complain that the issues from seasons 1 and 2 don't appear enough, then when they do, you complain that they have been "buried"--I've said it before, the issues are continued from seasons 1 - 7 extremely well, just not the way you or others would have wanted them to be. That doesn't make them wrong or superfluous, you just don't agree.

3.5 stars
Thu, Jul 21, 2011, 5:09pm (UTC -6)
you guys need to get lives. i love star trek as much as the next guy, but the guy who wrote this is trying his best to sound intelligent, and failing. what he's coming off as, is an arrogant high school geek. it's fiction, meant for entertainment to get ratings, to bring money to the network. if the idiot author or anyone who posted feels they can do better, move to LA and try to get a job writing scripts, producing television, or directing specific episodes. don't try and arrogantly insult someone fora job done bad, when you couldn't even match their current skill, nor would you evern know where to begin. settled.
Fri, Jul 29, 2011, 11:55am (UTC -6)
"Janeway to Kim: beam the creature off B'elanna!"
"I'm having trouble getting a lock!"

Given the amount of times Kim is unable to get a transporter lock on someone/something, I begin to wonder - does he even know how to use a transporter?
Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 2:35am (UTC -6)
I'm watching this episode again, and the issues that bother me with it still bother me. I was hoping to google around and make sure I wasn't the only one, but from what I've read, no one has. I'm willing to accept the "instant perfect hologram" thing, they've done it all before in other Trek series. I'm willing to ignore a lot.

3 things bothered me that no one seemed to mention:

1. The first one was sort of touched on by other people saying "Why didn't they just change the physical parameters?", but let's take this one step further: How can anyone, let alone Torres (chief engineer and someone intimately familiar with advanced holographic technology due to repairing and upgrading the Doctor) not be able to separate a graphical representation and reality in her mind? Yes, I would find a holographic hitler as a nurse to be distasteful, but whatever, it's not hitler. It's tractor beams and force fields manipulating medical instruments. Everyone in the future knows this. Tom Paris knows this and even tells Torres it doesn't matter, but for her it does. For the Bajoran, it does. They shouldn't need to change his appearance because they're all "evolved" enough not to be spooked as easily as birds by a metal owl.

2. There is a REMARKABLE lack of urgency during this episode. Harry and the Doctor goof off while programming Moset, making small talk, introductions, all while their crewmate is dying in the infirmary. Time spent by the doctor trying to get this hologram made and supervising the creation could easily have been spent studying up on those same databases, especially when the most qualified person to make a hologram was laid out in a biobed.

3. This is my biggest issue with this episode, and no one has even come close to pointing this out: The database used in this episode was the EXOBIOLOGICAL database. While Krell may have been a war criminal who experimented on innocents, he came up on this search for his additional expertise in NON-HUMANOID EXOBIOLOGY. Any advances he made curing diseases were moot. The reason the doctor needed him was because the doctor very logically isn't programmed with information about non-humanoid species because he generally doesn't need to treat them.

Simply put, none of the research they ultimately deleted was gained at the expense of dead bajorans during the occupation.

Exobiology is a field Moset studied in and *contributed to* independently of his immoral acts. Hitler was a talented artist. Should we demonize art out of respect to the crimes committed by Nazi Germany? If Einstein had been a mass murderer, should we as a result completely abandon any field Einstein worked on and start from scratch? It makes no sense, and is completely irrelevant.

For Janeway to allow the deletion of such critical information from their databases (not just limited to known species but presumably heuristic routines used when encountering unknown lifeforms) is completely unacceptable. Especially considering the situation they face encountering nothing BUT the unknown day after day on the way back to the Alpha quadrant, abandoning that data is effectively suicide.

Fortunately nothing is ever truly deleted, and I'm sure she quietly went back and restored the databases from protected backups after the fact, so the mission wouldn't be compromised and her crew could get the warm squishy feeling of doing the "right thing". Win/win. That, or just rely more heavily on the borg databases with truly independently discovered conclusions about the same information.

Sat, Sep 3, 2011, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
Excellent point, onan. And along those lines, Janeway readily harvests Borg technology left and right, all with no expressed concern for all of the horrors the Borg have exacted on not just one other race, but countless ones, some of which actually did have something to do with the specific technologies utilized.
Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 3:55pm (UTC -6)
Scientific data don't have a moral qualifier. It makes no sense to delete data that could potentially save countless lifes because of the way they were obtained.

This only changes if the use would somehow make new atrocities possible, e.g. by facilitating funding for new unethical research.
Tue, Nov 8, 2011, 12:40am (UTC -6)
The basic argument of those who don't want knowledge gained by unethical practices used is that setting aside such knowledge is a deterrent to future researchers who might be tempted by unethical practices in their own work. It's like how in the U.S. the police can't use evidence obtained illegally. You can argue that since it's already been obtained it does no harm to use it, but that just sets the stage for future abuses. (Personally I think the benefit of using such medical knowledge outweighs possible future cost, but others disagree, hence the debate.) The episode certainly did not go into any of this.

A few more things:
Harry and Neelix would have died were it not for Doc's use of Borg nanoprobes. Which the Borg developed for the purpose of assimilation.
Leave it to Voyager to give us a boring Cardassian :)
Tue, Nov 8, 2011, 2:21am (UTC -6)
I forgot to mention that this sort of deterrent is also touched upon (again rather badly, IMO) in TNG's "Half a Life".
Thu, Nov 10, 2011, 4:28pm (UTC -6)
I personally think the moral issue is a straightforward one. It is hugely unethical to experiment on unwilling individuals, but it makes little sense to not use the information found after the fact. To not do so would make the suffering of those patients completely pointless. If the information determined from their suffering could be used, as least some good would have come out of a terrible crime. Throw that information away, and they died for nothing.

Tuvok pointed out that using the information would validate the methods used to obtain it, however if those that commit such acts are still given the equivalent to the society's highest punishment (i.e life imprisonment), possible perpetrators would still be dissuaded.
Thu, Jan 19, 2012, 10:45pm (UTC -6)
I think it's foolish to condemn this episode on technicalities. It's about medical ethics and it's an issue it explores extremely well. I'd give this 3 stars, easily.
Captain Jim
Fri, Mar 9, 2012, 10:03pm (UTC -6)
"I'm against the idea of this hologram as a foundation of the story in the first place."

And that pretty much says it all. It's obvious that Jammer never got any further than that. Sorry, I can't sympathize. So much of what's done with holograms on this and every other ST show is pure fantasy, it seems silly to argue about it here.

I completely agree with what DeanGrr and Elliot say above. An excellent episode dealing with moral ambiguities. Three and one half stars.
Wed, Mar 21, 2012, 8:47am (UTC -6)
You make some VERY interesting points, Michael. I am strongly opposed to the use of non-human animals in any kind of scientific research [though some uses are worse than others -- see "Draize test"], regardless of whether this research saves human lives or not. The other species inhabiting this planet are not ours to do with as we please just because we can. I am very careful not to buy products from any companies that test on animals, because I fear that by doing so I would be encouraging further research. But there is a difference -- Nazi medical research is not still going on, so as you say, we probably aren't encouraging further such research by using that knowledge.

Anyway, being written by Jeri Taylor, this episode does suffer from Janeway is Awesome [TM] syndrome. Janeway violates Torres' rights as a patient, and then she doesn't even apologize, she just says "we have to move on" and gives Torres a condescending look when she understandably lets out her anger.

The final scene is also problematic. The Doctor refuses to listen to Krell when he rightfully asks "Where was your conscience when B'Elanna was dying on that table?" As Jammer said, the episode tried to have its cake and eat it too by using the knowledge to save Torres and then deleting it out of "good conscience". We viewers know very well that there won't be an episode in the future where they would once again have needed that knowledge to save someone and then have to face the consequences of the Doctor's decision here.
Tue, May 1, 2012, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
The plot contrivances, while mildly annoying, are not why I consider this an only slightly better than mediocre episode.

I simply find it silly that people would wring their hands and torture themselves with guilt over using knowledge that may have been obtained by unethical means. If the knowledge is available and can be put to good use (i.e. saving a life) it should be used. If said knowledge was originally obtained unethically and you want people to know about it you have what is called a teaching moment. Educate people. If it's a medical treatment, name it after the victims instead of the doctor. Tell people what happened and why it should never happen again, but don't deny them treatment. And certainly don't deny yourself treatment because you feel guilty about suffering you didn't cause and had no control over.

The fact that this kind of thing is a real controversy says something about the human condition and how we often have an irrational relationship with our own guilt, even if and sometimes especially when that guilt is compassionate in nature.
Wed, May 2, 2012, 10:21pm (UTC -6)
I changed my mind (again). I can't fault the episode on its ability to entertain just because I disagree with the ethical viewpoint behind the ending. The best episodes of Star Trek always invoke deep thought. This one is no different in that respect.
Paul York
Tue, May 8, 2012, 7:08pm (UTC -6)
The Cardassian makes a factual error when he says that Starfleet / Earth science was advanced by animal experimentation in the past. No it wasn't, since experiments on non-humans is not predictive for humans (the non-homology argument put forward by Dr. Ray Greek in his many books on the subject). He makes an interesting point worth pondering when he rationalizes experiments on humanoids by referring to animal experimentation. The Doctor makes the false distinction between human and non-human "people." In fact there are many non-human people in Star Trek and also currently on Earth. Levels of intelligence and technological sophistication should not matter if a creature is sentient. If it did, then technologically superior highly intelligent alien species would be morally justified in experimenting on humans. Since we know they are not, it also stands to reason that humans are not morally justified in experimenting on non-humans of any kind. The Doctor actually recognized this when he insisted on saving the parasitic alien creature, whom he knew to be sentient. Rats and mice are also sentient and thus equally deserving of moral consideration. I wish Star Trek had explored this important issue a bit more closely, since it was brought up, and that the Doctor had argued that the Federation no longer performed barbaric experiments on animals (a fact we are made aware of in TNG, and in the episode where Janeway argues with a vivisector in the brig whose species is conducting multiple experiments on the crew). As for the ethics of using Krell's knowledge, obtained as it was through torture, I'm not sure how that applies to the exo-biology he is using to treat Bellana, since that creature's physiology is so radically different from a Bajoran's. However, it is good that the ST writers raise this question, as it is important one.
Wed, May 9, 2012, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
@Paul York
You are quite wrong. Animal experimentation is done because it often is generally predictive of human response to treatments and medicine. Not always, but generally.

One of the biggest reasons rats are so popular for medical studies is because their digestive tract has a high similarity to humans beings. Thus drugs and chemicals ingested by them often have similar effects on their physiology as on ours.

Something that you should also consider: Virtually every treatment and medicine made today, yesterday and in the last 100 years was tested first on animals. If it doesn't work on animals, it never makes it to human trials. So those who advocate for halting animal testing are demanding that all testing be stopped. No new treatments, and no new medicines.
Tue, Jun 26, 2012, 11:54am (UTC -6)
The moral arguments in the show are really annoying. Whether or not the Krell hologram should operate on her, or exist on the ship long-terms is a fair question, but proposing to delete the findings of research is just stupid. I can understand the pain associated with such things, but it seems obvious that to delete the few positives that came out of the horrors the man committed only serves to remove any possible meaning the deaths he caused. At least that Bajoran could say, "Yes, that man murdered my grandparents, but at least some small shred of good came from it." Delete those findings, and nothing changes except that his grandfather's death becomes 100% meaningless. He's still dead, and the tragedy still occurred.
Thu, Jul 19, 2012, 12:29pm (UTC -6)
In some ways, the story would make more sense if the hologram angle were dropped entirely. Suppose it was originally about a visiting alien scientist (not unlike Jetrel) brought in as a consultant. But how would our heroes know about his past atrocities, and why would they care? To solve that problem, the Cardassian was added, with more dramatic responses from the crew, despite the plot holes.

However, according to Memory Alpha, the Cardassian angle was the original premise and the rest of the story grew from there.
Wed, Oct 31, 2012, 1:27am (UTC -6)
Just because knowledge was obtained through less than legitimate means it doesn't mean we just toss the research. Deleting it is absolutely silly. If it works, it works. It doesn't really matter how we came about that knowledge.

If we came about the knowledge that plants produce chlorophyll for instance by cutting open humans and plants, observing them while they were alive, we wouldn't toss that research because that is simply the way plants work. No matter how we did the research the result would still be the same because that's just the way the world works.

To say that we came about this research through immoral actions doesn't really mean anything because we could simply repeat the experiments without the immoral parts and it would come out the same way because that's the way the world works. Deleting the research is just saying "We're not going to acknowledge the way the world works in this particular instance because we found out how it works in an immoral way." Which of course is silly and stupid.
dale sams
Thu, Dec 27, 2012, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
The only way this ep works is to make it actually *illegal* in the Federation to use the holographic info. Sounds silly but it also sounds like something the Feds would do.

Subsequent problems like why is the info in the databanks would have to be worked around.
Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
I agree with just about everyone but want to bring up a couple of things no one has mentioned.

I would have liked for Janeway to have alluded to all of the folks who have died since she's been Captain and make that factor in to her reasons. "Dammit, I don't like it either. But if I can help it I'm not loosing another crew member!" Or something. I agree with her that Voyager needs B'Ellana. Even if it means that she treads all over her rights in this case. Captains have to make tough decisions. Which also bugged me that she put the decision to keep or ditch the Cardassian on the Doctor's shoulders. She should have made the decision, period. End of story. But she also owed B'Ellana an apology. Something on the lines of "I'm sorry. But sometimes I have to be your Captain and I can't be your friend." Heck they could have had B'Ellana walk out mid apology and you see Janeway regret that she's hurt her Chief Engr. It could have been a relationship that took the rest of season 6 to repair.
Wed, Aug 21, 2013, 10:14pm (UTC -6)
I am not sure why Jammer is so bent out of shape regarding the creation of the holographic Krell. There is a huge amount of precedent for programming and creating complex holodeck characters out of thin air. Two offhand examples are seen in "The Thaw" (in which a fake Janeways is 'programmed to respond the way the real Captain Janeway would'), and "Worst Case Scenario", in which basically the whole crew is recreated. Oh, I should also point out that "Alter Ego" implied that apparently holograms and sentient life forms are essentially indistinguishable. Actually, these ideas were established in TNG when Geordi recreated Leah Brahms and Data recreated Sigmund Freud, among others.

So by this time in the series I just take it for granted that holographic characters can be created from nothing. The Doctor constantly reminding everyone how complex his program is could be taken as another example of his pretentiousness. The episode in which Kim and Paris try to create a new Doc, and he just ends up reading the encyclopedia, was actually an exception to the rule.

So with that out of the way, I will give my thoughts on the episode: cliches and bad acting in the first half, but the rest was interesting and innovative. The Moset character was captivating. You don't hear lines like "Ethics are arbitrary" in Star Trek every day. I was also as stunned as The Doctor at how hypocritical Krell was in citing the Hippocratic Oath.

What I want to know is how the *** this life form jumped right out of a force-field. Never explained. I also find it odd that this alien is apparently impervious to force-fields yet it is vulnerable to a holographic scalpel!

On balance, I think it was a good epside, and would give it 2.5 or 3 stars. I could see why Roxann Dawson hated it, though. She spent the entire episode with that HIDEOUS thing on her.

Oh, and the name of the episode is a brilliant double entendre.
Mike P
Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 12:58am (UTC -6)
@Peter York
" Rats and mice are also sentient and thus equally deserving of moral consideration"

While any living creature should be due certain moral considerations, your statement that rats and mice are sentient is an error that animal rights folks constantly make. Non human animals are obviously alive and conscious ie: they are aware of and react to their surroundings, but because they are still slaves to instinct, they are most definitely not sentient.

Sentience by definition, requires several factors. A sentient being must be self aware, must be able to perceive their own mortality and must also possess a sense of altruism, or in other words, that there are things bigger or beyond themselves that are worth sacrificing for. And they definitely must have free will, and are not controlled by ingrained instincts. Despite popular belief, Humans don't even possess a true survival instinct, let alone any others. Our altruistic nature suppressed our survival instinct long ago. Involuntary nervous system functions, ie: breathing, heart beat etc are not instincts.

As an example, the fact that any non human animal mother, in the face of starvation, would eat the last bit of food and let her offspring starve or even eat those offspring to stave off starvation, proves they are not sentient. A human mother would never conceive of such a thing, and that is because humans and humans alone on this planet are sentient. She would sacrifice herself for her children every time.

Now there are a small number of non human animals on earth that can be considered semi-sentient. Dolphins, chimps and even some octopus have some level of self awareness, ie: some experiments have shown they can recognize themselves in a mirror. Dolphins also have demonstrated some level of altruistic behavior ie: recognizing drowning humans need help and keeping them afloat. But because these animals have not evolved to the point where the are totally free of the controlling effect of instincts on their behavior, they can still not be considered fully sentient.
Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 3:49pm (UTC -6)
@Mike P

You can't make that claim. Elephants are definitely sentient, as are guerrillas and to a lesser extent, chimps.

The mouse and rat claim is out there but all mammals have some level of self-awareness. The only people who still say otherwise are the ones with a financial stake in the matter, their cronies and well meaning people who are simply misinformed.

Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 10:32am (UTC -6)
Yep, once again, really inconsistent reviewing from Jammer as far as Voyager goes.

There is a huge amount of precedent for this use of holograms in Trek.

I fully agree with Elliott and Onan and others.

Vic Fontaine's presence on DS9 is defended by Jammer because someone says "he's very special". The Geordi-Brahms episode gets 3 stars. For God's sake, Nog even lives with Vic and does his accounts, but that's OK.

The Cardassian doctor can't be a medical expert because he's a hologram created of the fly, but Brahms can be an engineering expert despite being created in an equally improvised way and also being the basis for the episode?

This episode explores an issue, doesn't do so in a black and white way.

The only arbitrary thing here is the nitpicking, which unfortunately isn't applied evenly to all the Trek series reviewed here.
Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 10:35am (UTC -6)
*off the fly
Thu, Oct 10, 2013, 3:23am (UTC -6)
I bet if The Doctor was given the amount of time on his own that it took to recreate a whole nother hologram complete with personality and then the time for it to recreate a whole nother medical lab, he would've easily been able to improve his surgical abilities from the initial forecast "irreparably damaged system" to the eventual outcome of "severe nervous system trauma".

So this entire episode was a futile exercise just to remove the two letters "ir".
Mon, Nov 25, 2013, 9:02am (UTC -6)
I'm in two minds about this episode.

On one hand I think it's a good example of what Trek does best: tackling big ethical and moral issues, making valid arguments for both sides, letting the answer be up to the audience(regarldess of the chloice our main character ends up making).
The execution is great - the dialog is really well written, the delivery by the actors is passionate and emotionally engaging (not something Voyager usually does well).

On the other hand ... contrived plot with huge holes and character discrepancies and .. well, stuff that just plain doesn't make much sense at all.

I understand when people say "don't let details that dont make sense spoil the rest of the episode for you" - and I wish I could follow that advice to just shut out those details.
I love the taste of a good moral dilemma presented with good dialog, but ... when delicious strawberries a presented on a plate of faeces, it kind of ruins the whole dish for me, no matter how much I like strawberries.
Sat, Feb 8, 2014, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
Agree with Elliot; and what fine camera work and choreography!
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 2:14am (UTC -6)
"If a crafty ensign and a holographic doctor can just throw together a few data files to make a carbon copy of an actual specialist, why do we even need people to run starships?"

Thank you very much for this perfect piece, Jammer. You are 100% right. How crappy a plot excuse/device has to be, so people would complain regardless of how deep is the moral debate that comes ahead? Wait, I agree that we should not let small plot holes to divert us from the main stories and deepest debates that Trek can offer. Sure. But let's not go to the other extreme as well. Sorry, in telling a story, it sometimes becomes pretty damn important how the story is told. Especially when it affects the universe where the show operates in. Jammer is right. If it were so easy to create operating holograms, there would be no reason for Starfleet not having a lot of holo-people working around. It does not matter whether in TNG or any other instalment Trek has delivered other holo-absurdities. Nor it matters if what came later was good. I am fully capable of recognizing a very good episode moral question and execution while criticizing a major plot absurdity.

And so, now turning to so-called moral issue treated by the episode. I loved the debates! The scenes between The Doc and the Cardassian, the debate between Parris and Chakotay, Torres' anger on the captain... were all amazingly good! Very powerful moments. I could also understand the reaction of the Bajorian, and even Torres’. But in the end, although it made total sense for me to debate on whether or not the data from the Cardassian should be erased due to moral considerations, debating on even treating Torres felt forced and artificial. What sense does it make to condemn a patient because the needed knowledge to save him/her was acquired under faulty ways? What is the fault of the current patient? It is nonsensical at the context it was presented. Also, I though odd that the moral decision was just put in the Doc's shoulders. The captain got a bit lazy, Hugh? Even though, I am happy the episode brought all that to the table. And it was mostly solid and certainly touching and powerful. In the end, an episode that deserved far far more than the 5/10 that the two stars sort translates into. Strongly underated.
Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 10:28am (UTC -6)
Interesting episode, except that they're setting up a cardboard tiger. Why couldn't the doctor just download the info into his database? (He could have deleted some opera if he didn't have the room). And if it's so easy to create this guy, why has it been so difficult to create another doctor? In 'Message In a Bottle' they were unable to create another doctor, when they thought the Doc may have been lost. The whole thing is just annoying. (However if iI don't think about any of those incongruities, I can still think this is an okay episode).
Fri, Jun 6, 2014, 4:30am (UTC -6)
Interesting how an episode so fundamentally concerned with medical ethics could make so light of the issue of patients' rights. Especially in the case of the Doctor, whose ethics drove him to sentence and carry out the murder of a sentient hologram (why was Krell Moset less deserving of personhood than the Doctor himself, who most likely would've demanded and received a trial and legal representation if his deletion were even proposed?) over a matter of ethical outrage, yet apparently had no qualms about administering treatment to a patient who had clearly refused it. And I don't want to hear about Janeway's orders. The Doctor wouldn't even give Tuvix an injection because it amounted to euthanasia without consent, forcing Janeway to do it herself, yet he was happy to perform delicate experimental surgery on a patient who had expressly declined to allow it. Janeway couldn't even require him to do it if he had objected anyway, since we know the Chief Medical Officer on a starship outranks the Captain in medical matters. Where were the Doctor's cherished ethics when he was treating B'Elanna without her permission?
Sat, Jun 7, 2014, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
I'd like to note, that real world model for this episode would be rather Japanese Unit 731 than Nazis. Nazis, although cruel and inhumane, were like kids in playground compared to these oriental butchers.
Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 2:35am (UTC -6)
There is really no dilemma about medical research in the episode. If it's already been done and recorded, doesn't really matter how it was acquired. When someone I care about is dying, and there is a known cure that doesn't cause any more suffering to anyone at present or future, I could care less where it came from. Just use it.

Could someone's feelings be hurt? Maybe. Feelings are very low on the totem pole of importance compared to someone else dying. They can suck it up and tell themselves that their suffering wasn't completely in vain.

Also... what about all the borg technology that's been used in other episodes. If it's borg technology, it obviously wasn't acquired in any nice way. Someone suffered for it. Yet in dozens of episodes that's a non-issue.

Mediocre episode at best. Highly unplausable, also an unrealistic dilemma.
Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 8:50am (UTC -6)
"I'd like to note, that real world model for this episode would be rather Japanese Unit 731 than Nazis."

If you look up Mengele's experiments in hypothermia you will see that we STILL use his knowledge on how to deal with hypothermia victims. So one could argue that, as most science fiction is, you can see more than one parallel to us in that mirror.
Tue, Nov 18, 2014, 2:34am (UTC -6)
thanks for the review. I agree, the episode was pretty bad for most the reasons you stated.
Tue, Dec 9, 2014, 11:38am (UTC -6)
Jammer's comment from this episode :

"Harry and Doc spend a few minutes in the holodeck, give the computer a few broad commands, and presto—Krell in the flesh, a surgical assistant who can supply Doc with the assistance he needs to save B'Elanna's life.


and from "Elementary, Dear Data" :

"Who cares if he instructed the computer to create an adversary that could 'beat Data' as opposed to the fictional Holmes? The computer's sentient capability is the issue, not whether misspeaking one word can, or even does, cause it."

Just an interesting juxtaposition, I think.
Tue, Dec 9, 2014, 2:33pm (UTC -6)
In all fairness Elliott, the point of the VOY episode was absurd, even if the episode itself turned out pretty good. Any excuse as to why the Doc couldn't just access all the information in the computer database and do the work without consulting "holo-Crell" is a joke. I always though the episode would have worked better on DS9 with the real Crell wanting to treat Kira.

That said, if you wave away the nonsense of the holodocs computer finding creating a holomatrix to talk to more efficient than directly accessing the information, the rest of the 45 minutes after that is quite good.

What's absurd in Voyager is not necessary that they CAN make Crell, it's that they needed to. And beyond that, Crell is practically a new EMH and there was an episode where Harry was unable to create one.

In TNG the only "oddity" is that a holo character was given sentience. I don't know that those 2 things go together.
Wed, Apr 29, 2015, 8:06pm (UTC -6)
I didn't like this episode because it felt like everyone was making a mountain out of a moleheap. They create a hologram that can fix B'elanna's condition, but she (and some never heard of crewman) despise him for things the person the hologram is based on did in the past.
Well, ok, but that's not him, though, is it? What the real person did is not what the hologram did. As a matter of fact, the hologram didn't do anything.
I didn't buy the whole 'we can't use his research, because it was acquired by unethical means' thing either. Do you know how much of Doc's knowledge was acquired by unethical means? I'm guessing it's a fairly large chunk of his database and yet you have no problem using that on a daily basis. Why would this Cardassian be any different?

Honestly, I was with Krell regarding his stance on how to apply medical knowledge. It benefits the people of today and tomorrow. You can't change the past anymore, but that doesn't change the fact that that research remains usefull today. It saves lives today and will continue to save lives in the future.
Heck, I would even go so far as to say that Krell embraced the whole 'needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few' concept Spock was so famous for. If he hadn't done what he did, many more would have suffered. You can debate the rights and wrongs of this all day long, but in the end someone still has to make a choice. He chose to harm people in the short run so his research could save countless more in the long run. Whether that's ethical or not, the damage is already done. Why not use what became of it for the good of mankind?
Tue, May 12, 2015, 10:50am (UTC -6)
Computer change visual and personality parameters of Krell from Cardassian to Ferrengi.

Crisis averted, Hilarity ensues.

Tue, May 12, 2015, 2:52pm (UTC -6)
@Dennis - People like you are responsible for "Profit and Lace", "Inside Man" and "Acquisition". You know that, don't you?
Thu, Jul 30, 2015, 5:41pm (UTC -6)
Also, they have a freaking exobiologist on board. Poor Samantha Wildman.
Sat, Oct 31, 2015, 9:35am (UTC -6)
This episode had some big flaws (too much playing it safe, sensationalism, use of strawman) but enough that was good that I would call it a success. I thought it was clear that holo Krell, especially his personality and opinions, was his public image (from medical conference participation and Cardassian-released information) rather than necessarily close to the real person.
I especially liked the ending. While Janeway saying that they should discuss the morality later and later refusing to discuss it is frustrating, the episode pretty much admits it's a cop-out, pulling rank to get utility, Torres is still pissed and the Doctor's final actions suggest he regrets both the captain's and his actions and does make a sacrifice so that it won't happen again.
One aspect that hurt/made weird made the Nazi doctor analogy is that the Doctor earlier suggested that Krell's work, both in research and general practice, really did help many Bajorans; an analogy doesn't have to be exact but that seems like too big an exception when otherwise the analogy tries to be pretty direct and exact.
Sat, Oct 31, 2015, 9:48am (UTC -6)
Although perhaps not intended to, Torres practically encouraging Paris to defy orders in the next episode can be seen as a follow-up.
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 2:46am (UTC -6)
Jay - Sun, Mar 6, 2011 - 2:43pm (USA Central)

"How convenient that suddenly there's a Bajoran aboard. One that doesn't want to work for Seven because B'Ehlanna dooesn't much like her (how'd he get into Starfleet with that 'tude?),"

He didn't get into Starfleet. He was a Maquis.

Jay - Sat, Sep 3, 2011 - 1:10pm (USA Central)

"along those lines, Janeway readily harvests Borg technology left and right, all with no expressed concern for all of the horrors the Borg have exacted on not just one other race, but countless ones,"

8,471 species to be exact.

Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 2:59am (UTC -6)
Paul York - Tue, May 8, 2012 - 7:08pm (USA Central)

"The Doctor makes the false distinction between human and non-human "people."

No, it wasn't a false distinction. It was a very true and valid one.

"In fact there are many non-human people in Star Trek and also currently on Earth."

No, there are no non-human "people" currently on Earth.

"Levels of intelligence and technological sophistication should not matter if a creature is sentient. If it did, then technologically superior highly intelligent alien species would be morally justified in experimenting on humans. Since we know they are not, it also stands to reason that humans are not morally justified in experimenting on non-humans of any kind."

Oh for fuck sake. More extremist animal rights nonsense from you. Most animals on Earth are not sentient. Experimentation on them is completely justified to save human lives. The comparison of Star Trek aliens with non-fictional non-human animals is absurd.

"The Doctor actually recognized this when he insisted on saving the parasitic alien creature, whom he knew to be sentient. Rats and mice are also sentient and thus equally deserving of moral consideration."


Rats and mice are sentient? Give me a fucking break! How do you feel about anti-lice shampoo? A war crime?

Dude, you've been hugging trees for far too long!

"However, it is good that the ST writers raise this question, as it is important one."

No, it's not. The issue in this episode was complete horseshit! As others have pointed out, Janeway has no qualms with using Borg technology. And even if a cure for cancer would have been developed by torturing and killing Jews in concentration camps, that cure should still not be discarded. Using the cure to save the lives of those that the Nazis wanted dead would be sweet revenge.

This episode was bullshit from beginning to end. The "morality" here was an insane construct and much to do about nothing!
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 3:25am (UTC -6)
Mike P - Sat, Aug 24, 2013 - 12:58am (USA Central)

"Despite popular belief, Humans don't even possess a true survival instinct, let alone any others. Our altruistic nature suppressed our survival instinct long ago."

This is completely false. We possess tons of instincts, including the instinct to quickly remove our hand from a hot stove.

And we certainly do possess survival instincts. Plus, many humans (like myself) do not have an altruistic nature to suppress our survival instincts or any other instinct. This doesn't mean we don't possess any morality, but as a libertarian, I sincerely believe that altruism is the biggest evil ever conceived by humanity. So there goes your theory that all of us have an altruistic nature.

Altruism has nothing to do with kindness towards others. Altruism means that you place others in a superior position to yourself. Altruism is masochism and emotional self-cannibalism. Love, kindness, and empathy towards others are very good things, but our motives for those good things are always selfish. Take away that selfishness in the name of bullshit "altruism" and you take away all those good things too!

Altruism - especially altruism to the State - is responsible for every evil and inhuman atrocity and genocidal massacre ever devised. No totalitarian government could possibly arise to enslave a population of selfish people who experience love, kindness, and empathy towards other people with selfish motives. Only by decoupling everything good and beautiful from selfishness (which is what altruism attempts to do) can you destroy the only motivation for everything good and beautiful and instead get sick dictatorships like Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia where people are ordered to deny themselves and submit fully to the State in the name of "unselfishness."

Altruism isn't our nature. It is against our nature. And everything good inside the human spirit (love, kindness, empathy)is predicated on selfish motives that altruism, with its idealistic bullshit, threatens to destroy! Far from being our nature, altruism is the biggest enemy of human nature and the destroyer of every good thing. It leads to nothing but death camps and misery, and takes away the only natural motivation (selfishness) to be kind to anybody!

Long live love, kindness, and empathy!

Fuck altruism!

Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 10:11am (UTC -6)
I agreed with Janeway back in "Tuvix", but I can't say I agree with her here. B'Elanna expressly said she didn't want treatment, and it's her own life that's at stake so she has the right to refuse certain methods. I don't know what the captain was thinking except that she's getting so obsessed with maintaining the status quo on her ship that she doesn't care about human rights anymore.

That said, this episode was an idiot ball of insensitivity. Whose bright idea was it to have a Bajoran be in the room when working with a famous Cardassian? Like other reviewers, I am puzzled by why Harry didn't augment his appearance to begin with if he recognized controversy. Oh and deleting the data is equivalent to admitting you were wrong to use the data to begin with, why doesn't the Doctor at least stick to his guns on this?

Unfortunately, this episode couldn't do what DS9 had done with "Duet" or TNG had done with "The Enemy" and actually confront the racial hatreds. Instead were stuck with a message that Janeway can't afford to be as enlightened as Picard or Major Kira.

1.5 stars.
Tue, Feb 16, 2016, 5:52pm (UTC -6)

Elliott (and others) are right in a sense that there is already precedent for this holographic representation in Leah Brahms. There's also no evidence that this personality is actually similar to the real Krell Moset. After all, HoloLeah was nothing like the real Leah, and this hologram didn't know about the atrocities. It's certainly possible that the computer gets a best guess and just downloads the right personality for a person of that Myers-Briggs personality type. Close enough, right? So arguments that there's no way the computer would be able to replicate Krell so perfectly, I think, are misguided.

I'm also willing to assume that the Doc was anthropomorphizing him a bit. In other words, the Doc was pretending he was real and sentient when he was really just another program. We do know the EMH has a bit of a chip on his soldier about being a hologram, and may care more about other holograms then the humanoid crew would.

That said, the holo-aspect still seemed off. Maybe the Doctor wouldn't mind conversing with the hologram, but Kim? Only Paris treated Krell like, well, a computer program. Time was important, why are we worrying about arguing with a hologram? Even more so, why is the hologram being given a part in the argument? It's just a computer, unless you really believe the computer can create sentience that easily (Moriarty notwithstanding...). It shouldn't have a say in the ethical arguments. And at the end, it was already writing a paper on the subject and looking forward to more collaborations? Yeah, looks like humans are completely pointless, the computer can do everything. So yes, the emphasis placed on Holo-Krell bugged me.

But whatever, let's ignore all that. Heck, let's transfer this episode over to DS9 (pre-Dominion War, of course) as Robert mentioned so we can have the real Krell. Kira can replace Torres, Odo replaces Paris, Bashir the EMH, and Dax replaces Chakotay. Let the storyline and arguments play out the same way. Would this end up being a great episode?

I don't think so.

I mean, it's great that, for once, Trek didn't go for the sledgehammer style of making sure one view is the Right One and all else are only held by primitive irrational stupid people. Nobody backs down from their opinions, and everyone gets in at least one good argument. On the surface, at least, that should lead to a compelling drama. So what was the problem?

It wasn't that the arguments weren't presented fairly, it was that they were all ignored. Seven mentioned that the crew were using Borg technology despite the atrocities the Borg inflicted; no one mentioned it after that. The Doctor declared in the end that the data should be deleted, but had no answer why it was perfectly fine in this one instance. And worst of all, Janeway declares that the ramifications of the ethical decision are hers and hers alone, meaning she will bear with the consequences of her actions. And one of the consequences is, quite naturally, Torres being pissed off at her. And Janeway tells her to simply get over it. How is that accepting the consequences? How is that dealing with the ramifications? It was extremely insulting of Janeway to act in such a manner, even if she fully believes Torres is in the wrong. Did she try to explain her reasoning to Torres, did she apologize, did she sit down and empathize with her? Nope, just a "screw you". It is not a sign of strength in the captain, but rather a sign of arrogance and a sign of disrespect. I cannot believe that the writers thought this was a good resolution for the ethical dilemmas being faced.

So what happened? We have a story in which an ethical dilemma is produced and all sides debated. Do we get a resolution to this debate? No. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing (as a "yes" answer can often mean annoying preachifying), but still means no plot resolution. Do we come to a reasonable compromise in the ethical debate? No, unless you count the illogical and wholly unsatisfying compromise of "it's ok in this instance because I said so but not any others". And did it lead to new relationships, new understandings among the crew? No, because the brief attempt to reach such a change was shot down by the arrogant despot of a captain in that last scene. So what, exactly, was the point? Voyager, it seemed, must agree with Krell in the quote Jammer highlighted: ethics are arbitrary. They sure treated it like that here.

Besides Janeway's terrible characterization at the end, I also have a severe problem with the Doctor's character here. Namely, that he would go along with Janeway's order at the end. Yes, I understand he is sentient by now, and that his sentience implies freedom of choice on his part. But he was designed, first and foremost, to be a doctor. And I have an extremely difficult time believing that medical ethics is NOT hardcoded into him in much the same way as the Three Laws are in Asimov's books. In other words, when it comes to medicine, he should NOT be able to do anything that would go against his ethical subroutines any more than I can program myself to not need to breathe. It's part of his very essence.

And part of medical ethics is to obtain consent from the patient and to pay attention to that consent. In TNG's Ethics, Dr. Crusher was adamantly opposed to the guest doctor's procedure, and would never have done it on her terms. Yet Worf asked for the procedure. Did she say no? Did she give him an alternate treatment whether he liked it or not? No. She made sure Worf had enough information to make an informed decision, and when he chose against her wishes, she went and assisted in a procedure that she despised. Likewise, if Torres, of sound mind, refused Krell's aid, then that should be the end of it from the Doctor's perspective as well. Maybe a human Doctor could bend his/her conscience in this situation, but I don't think the EMH can. Of course, then this episode would have gone way differently, so maybe the writers just didn't care. But it still bugs me.

There's still enough meat on this episode to make it interesting, but it does falter in multiple ways. Thus, I can't really consider it a classic or anything. One thing I will say about Season 5 so far, while it has been a bit hit and miss in its execution, it certainly hasn't been boring. Practically every one has been, if nothing else, an interesting idea.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Feb 28, 2016, 7:07am (UTC -6)
There's certainly an element of artificiality to the plotting here - what else could there be if it coincidentally turns out that the fellow they need in the database is a Cardassian war criminal - but this is another decent addition to the Star Trek discussion on ethics.

What's perhaps most interesting is how Janeway is written - worry about morality later, hands responsibility for the decision to the Doctor, and basically tells B'Elanna to suck it up. I'm not entirely sure that rings true character wise, but then there have been a number of odd Janeway beats so far this series.

But outside of this there's a lot of debate and things don't exactly rattle on. It's OK, but not much more. 2.5 stars.
Thu, Apr 14, 2016, 9:02pm (UTC -6)
@Skeptical: There is basically nothing to add to your review. janeway was completely wrong in her descision. If Torres would have been unconscious - ok, she gets mad later, and the captain apologizes. Instead she basically ignores human rights, medical ethics, and I guess star fleet protocols and does not even have the descency to apologize to B'elanna. Really, she is the worst of all the Star Trek Captains. When she proposed to stay behind to close the wormhole in "Night", THAT was the perfect opportunity to just declare Chakotay Captain and wave her goodby. As much as everyone hates Chakotay and despises him for beeing a wooden piece of nothing, that STILL is better then her constant arrogance, carelessness, misjudgement and abuse of authority. We would get something akin to TNG, where Picard relies on his subortinates to provide important information and may even let them decide whats best. This would have worked so much better, instead of having janeway decide everything, from medical to ethical to tactical to scientifical problems, and always having her propose the right answer to all those questions. Because even if somebody else proposes something, and the whole episode revolves around that proposal, most of the time janeway has to come in and her new idea magically works, because she knows everything, apparently. Overcompensating much for the fact that she's a woman? I thought people where over that kind of thing in the 24th century. It also makes her scenes where she's supposed to behave "motherly" look complete asinine, and she looks like a control freak. Seriously, who the fuck made her a captain? I guess this was an experiment by Star Fleet to find out at which point a crew would mutiny on accord of their consciousness, and apparently it failed. That's why they didn't show us the aftermath of their homecoming: Star Fleet put janeway back in the mental home and demoted all crewmembers on account of unethical behavior and failing the test. Every day, Picard, now retired, comes to visit her, to stare at her in disgust for an hour, in complete silence, while she rambles on about that she will bring the crew home no matter what and tries to launch photon torpedoes at him, in between screaming about the prime directive.

Sorry for the rant, but as I am rewatching Voyager I need to vent my anger somewhere.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 7:35am (UTC -6)
::Mirror Robert Strokes His Goatee::

At least I must be mirror Robert, because I'm about to defend a decision that other people are slamming Janeway for as being a dictator. I'm usually the one slamming Janeway for being a crazy immoral dictator.

I will say though that a ship lost in the Delta Quadrant cannot afford to lose it's chief engineer. Medical ethics be damned. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

When she killed Tuvix she did so to save 2 friends. Tuvix was perfectly capable of doing Tuvok's job. When she treated Torres against her will she saved the chief engineer of a ship that's 30+ years away from a replacement. It was the right call, even if it's ethically problematic.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 8:05pm (UTC -6)
Sorry if I came across as too angry.

I actually agree with you: It was the pragmatic descision, and ultimately the right one. If she was anybody other than a Star Trek captain, I would not have taken much issue with that descision.

But: Firstly, she does never defend herself that way. She does not say "I am sorry, but I can just not afford to lose my chief engineer. If you hate me now, that is your descision, but I need you." She says: "Fuck you, stop being such a whiny bitch".
Secondly, she more then once put the crew in danger for the sake of her moral principles, like the time when she saved that 8472 from the Hirogen. That was hardly a pragmatic descision, and she always comes across as defending principle and morality at all costs.

If the whole series would have explored what it means being in the Delta Quadrant, all alone, and there would have been a progression away from Star Fleet principle to a more pragmatic approach, ok. But instead, whenever she so chooses, she invokes the Prime Directive, or something else for that matter, or completely ignores it, while the series expects us to be on her side, and not to question her descision. The Captain is always right, as Tuvok explains to Seven.

Now, if this really was a ship in the Delta Quadrant, her first priority should be crew cohesion. She has to be respected to hold her crew together, and listen to them from time to time, even respect them and modifiy her descision, to keep them on her side. Instead she makes a descision, and never explains herself. If you do that for one or two years, constantly putting your own crew at risk to safe some aliens, or to explore some unknown phenomenon - you lose respect. It is not a sign of strength to never change your descision.

Incidently, in "Latent Image" she acts like I would expect her to act as a Star Fleet captain, more or less. The only nitpick in that episode, and it's a really minor one, is that she tells Seven, when she comes to her quarter, "Now is not the time". Ok, but later she wakes Seven up and says "now is the time", so .... huh? But this is really minor.

I guess if this was Battlestar Galactica, i would have taken less to no umbridge with her. Adama constantly has to make tough descisions to save the convoy, but we see him ponder, discuss the options. And that series really feels like they are in a tight spot. But since Voyager is supposed to carry the flag of the evolved humanity across the Delta Quadrant, I take umbridge with such a two-faced captain.

And by the way, B'elanna isn't the only capable engineer on the ship. There was also that scottish guy, whatever happened to him - and Seven. She could do engineering, heck, with her Borg implants I am not sure there's anything she can't do. All I am saying is, if you doom Voyager to death in "Prey" for the sake of principle (in this case for granting asylum to 8472) you can not ignore all principles in case of B'elanna. Chose one.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 9:03pm (UTC -6)
I can make you a good argument for a court martial. I've written at lengths here about her uneven characterization. I actually really like Mulgrew, and one of the Janeways I really like.... But you are right.... You never know which one it's going to be.

But in this case I agree, despite Joe Carrey
Sun, Apr 17, 2016, 6:43am (UTC -6)
It just pains me that this flaw makes the series so much worse. Literally every other option would have been preferable. Even something like giving Chakotay her dictatoresque qualities (he was a Maquis terrorist, after all) and giving her only her scientific-motherly qualities. Or letting her slowly change from a goodwilled motherly figure to a bitchy dictator over the course of the series. Just a little consistency, and everything would be improved tenfold.
Wed, Apr 20, 2016, 7:06am (UTC -6)
The amount of ambiguity in the technical capabilities of equipment (holographic projection and programming in this case) and also in crew technical qualifications leads this show to be an unnecessary disaster.

Instead of thinking about to put the elements of the story together in a plausible fashion - cliche's are used - but are badly over-extended.

These themes of this show would have fared far, far better if the ACTUAL living Cardassian had been aboard the ship. This could have been accomplished by having a group of Cardassians rescued by the Voyager, among them the Cardassian exobiologist in question. Then the problem would have simply been to explain their presence - and the new alien species in question could certainly have neatly supplied that mechanism.

One possible suggestion is that the Cardassians were on a mission to investigate the insects ship in the Alpha quadrant - and the insects possessed the slipstream drive and took off back to the Delta quadrant. There are a number of ways that the Cardassians could have been pulled along through that same slipstream - perhaps they had engaged the insects ship with a tractor beam at the time .. perhaps they just got too close and were sucked into the slipstream .. etc etc .. there's a number of possibilities far more plausible and satisfying than the instant Cardassian hologram.

After that you could run the story pretty much the same way - except you would have the actual Cardassian on board - more meat, less BS. Then of course you would have a warm body to vent at - and if you wanted to get rid of said warm body by the end of the show it would be slightly more involved than deleting a holo-program .. killed off by the enraged Bajoran Marquis perhaps .. killed by the insects themselves .. put in the brig for the next 50 years by Janeway .. ?

Ya - this episode fell in a heap because it lacked imagination when identifying the plot mechanisms. Sure you want to tell a story - but it needs to develop in a plausible fashion - not be thrown together by magic.

With regard to the technical qualifications of the crew - this show would work a lot better if they were clearly defined. For example if Harry was overtly identified as a Communications Engineer, and B'lanna was a Propulsion Engineer - this would give Harry a lot more scope, while not undermining the importance of B'lannna.

With the technology of that era, there would be a lot of hybrid science degree's. For example in our modern world there is a degree 'Computer Science' - this is obviously not really a science degree - its a hybrid degree that combines technician (computers), engineering (electronic) and science (information). The crew of a ship like Voyager would really need a lot of these kind of technical specialists. For example Paris could be a Control Systems Scientist - which equates to technician (specialist - actuators / switching / conduits), engineering (basic - electrical / plasma), science (basic - physics / information) - which could be equal to a science degree, but is more specialized and hands on.

I think this would help the show a hell of a lot - not everyone can do everything - and everyone would have something they are really good at.
Sat, Apr 30, 2016, 5:43pm (UTC -6)
Having read through a lot of your reviews and the comments, I think I'm one of the most forgiving Voyager viewers willing to comment (I love the show). But this is one of the few I'm even harder on than you. Tremendously ill-conceived from every angle I can think. This presumes that the characters are fundamentally ignorant, stupid and silly people. That is the only way we would be having these arguments between the characters. The scene where they're having a "debate" about this? Cringeworthy! I can't even hardly believe they did this to these poor actors. Embarrassing for their characters.

This is a Dear Doctor (Enterprise) level of PURELY NONSENSICAL MORAL QUANDARY. Dear Doctor though, however academically baffling, was produced to be a highly watchable, perfectly paced, very well acted, very tastefully shot hour of television. If you don't actually think about the "point" of that show (which is actually insane), it's as watchable as a slow, thoughtful type of ST gets. Yet, this has all the bizarre and wrongheaded actions of Dear Doctor, without even being particularly watchable or interesting. The wrap-up of Janeway/Torres? I rarely say this, because I usually think it's an unfair critique, but this just doesn't ring true of the characters at all. For any of them really. And what a waste of a Picardo vehicle. What everyone says about the creation of the new doctor program is spot-on. If it had redeeming features of any kind though, I probably wouldn't think twice about it. 1 star.
Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:15pm (UTC -6)
ugh This would have made a much better episode of DS9. Imagine it while exploring the Gamma quadrant a strange creature attaches itself to Kira and she is taken back to DS9 for treatment but alas! Doctor bashir can not remove it but a Cardassian doctor in a nearby system can.

Also why does B'elanna hate Cardassians so much all of a sudden? She grew up on a Federation world! but here she acts like she grew up on Bajor!
Fri, May 6, 2016, 2:17pm (UTC -6)
THAT at least is explainable. I don't think she hates Cardassians that much, but this is like being friends with a bunch of Holocaust survivors and then needing to be treated by Mengele. Or at least it would be if it weren't a hologram. Right now she's just refusing to let the Starship Voyager treat her :P
Mon, May 23, 2016, 12:11am (UTC -6)
Such a silly, plothole filled episode that tries its darndest to make a philosophical point about (medical) ethics.

Watching this back in my teens, I already felt B'elanna was off her meds to refuse treatment. Entire societies are built on breakthroughs made during wartime. World War I kicked off aviation and modern reconstructive surgery, for instance. Heck, even Zefram Cochrane's warp ship was a refitted nuclear missile.

What did make me snicker when I rewatched it recently was the little conversation between the Doctor and Moset with Doc lamenting none of his peers ever hear of his accomplishments as he toils away in obscurity only for Crel to offer to read them.

When a computer tries to calm itself by offering to read part of its own database, now thát's comedy.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 8:17am (UTC -6)
Jammer: "Why does this bother me so much? I'll tell you why. It's not simply that I don't buy the plausibility of such a perfect holographic likeness (which I don't), it's that the use of the hologram is a sneaky way of avoiding the real ethical issue here—especially considering the story at one point tells us that the Krell hologram isn't programmed with knowledge of the atrocities the real Krell committed. (Conveniently, he's programmed with all of Krell's surgical knowledge, opinions, personality, and so forth—but no memory of being a "bad person." How very nice.)"

I don't think it's programmed with the feeling of the "atrocities" because Krell don't believe them to be atrocities. His values are just different. I would be surprised of he had thought that operating on Cardassians in the same fashion was also acceptable for the advancement of science.

Thu, Mar 27, 2008, 3:42pm (UTC -5)

Not to oversimplify, but how much effort would it have taken for the Doc to say "computer, change physical paramater: species to human" when it was brought up to him (during its creation) that people might have a problem with a Cardassian?

I'll go one further. Why can't doc just download this info and "get smarter"? He already is the sum of what, 5000 medical professionals?

Essssh, I don't know what's stupider, conjuring up this hologram out of thin air or just how idiotic the Bajoran' reaction to it is.

Should anyone really consider how knowledge is obtained when putting it to good use? Really? .. that's the big dilemma here?

I'll go 1 star because the bug was pretty cool.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 11:13am (UTC -6)
@Yanks - "Should anyone really consider how knowledge is obtained when putting it to good use? Really? .. that's the big dilemma here?"

h t t p s ://
Wed, May 25, 2016, 6:52pm (UTC -6)
Don't understand your point Robert. I'm not condoning the experiments, but the knowledge gained shouldn't be suppressed.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 9:03pm (UTC -6)
@Yanks - I wasn't making a point. If you read that part of the wiki article they discuss that doctors had differing opinions as to if the actual knowledge should be thrown out. They even link to an article that talks about the Jewish community thinking it heretical to find any value in the data at all. Your question was "is this the big dilemma". The answer is yes. I wasn't giving an opinion :-)
Thu, May 26, 2016, 8:29am (UTC -6)

I scanned the article and just find it hard to believe intelligent people can still have that opinion.

Let's say the knowledge required to sure a plague was obtained by questionable means. Should it not be administered based on how it was obtained?

Ridiculous.... and even more ridiculous that occurrence could happen in the 24th century, or on Voyager.
Thu, May 26, 2016, 9:38am (UTC -6)
The idea is a slippery slope. IE if we allow this data to be used after the person creating it did horrible things to get it, what's to stop others from doing horrible things in the future secure in knowing their contribution to science will be secure.

The answer is hopefully "so that you don't end up in jail or executed". Here's a quote from biology professor John Hayward - "I don't want to have to use the Nazi data, but there is no other and will be no other in an ethical world. I've rationalized it a bit. But not to use it would be equally bad. I'm trying to make something constructive out of it. I use it with my guard up, but it's useful."

And a quote from the article h t t p : / / "Since a better knowledge of survival in cold water has direct and immediate practical benefits for education in cold water safety, and in the planning of naval rescue missions at sea, Pozos and Hayward see it criminal not to use the available data, no matter how tainted it may be."

I actually am sort of sorry this became Janeway's decision to be honest. If you develop Torres' hatred of Moset more (maybe she actually had a friend in the maquis who was experimented on) you could actually have made this entirely a Tom & B'Elanna episode. An allegory of a "Jewish" person struggling with whether or not to be treated by "Nazi" data would have been more interesting. As it is, you are correct... Janeway's choice is plainly ridiculous. Let her chief engineer die so that they don't have to use data they don't like or don't. Die in the middle of the damned Delta Quadrant. Well, we can always pick up a new engineer at the next starbas..... oh.... :-(

My point though was that this was a real thing that has been really debated by real scientists for a long time. There's a lot out there about it. It's not a bad idea of something to make an episode on but it's no Jetrel.
Thu, May 26, 2016, 1:25pm (UTC -6)

"My point though was that this was a real thing that has been really debated by real scientists for a long time. There's a lot out there about it. It's not a bad idea of something to make an episode on but it's no Jetrel."


"The idea is a slippery slope. IE if we allow this data to be used after the person creating it did horrible things to get it, what's to stop others from doing horrible things in the future secure in knowing their contribution to science will be secure."

Don't agree with this though. What's to stop others? Law. You can't do much more than that.
Mon, May 30, 2016, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
Jammer's constant DS9 inflections are getting old. Please refrain from comparing DS9 to Voyager. It is clear that DS9 was your favorite series and that you despise, for the most part, Voyager in all aspects.
Tue, May 31, 2016, 8:53am (UTC -6)
@Yanks - "Don't agree with this though. What's to stop others? Law. You can't do much more than that. "

I wasn't disagreeing with you. I was just stating the other side basically. I actually think Spock would say that the urge to throw the data away is an illogical emotional response.

How many of us would want to set fire to data that describes how a loved one was painfully frozen just to be thawed later? But on the other hand if your kid fell in a freezing lake are you going to not want everything used to save them?

It's why I still think this episode would have been better with Kira and the real Krell. You could have upped the stakes in all sorts of ways. But either way the episode would have been better if the moral dilemma was ultimately resolved by the loved one and the victim (either Odo/Kira or Tom/B'Elanna. Janeway doing the authoritarian thing didn't really work.

It actually COULD HAVE worked, but the episode didn't even try to be about Janeway/Torres' relationship. They centered it largely around the Doctor, which was an odd mistake. His decision to delete the data at the end was weird.

Or hell, since it's easier to be pigheaded when YOU'RE dying they could have had this be about Ziyal and Kira. Now that would have been perfect. Ziyal is dying, and is in Kira's care, and the only one that can save her is Krell, a current dissident that fled Dominion leadership that Kira has to track down and decide to work with to save Ziyal. There you go, now you have a Jew needing to track down and beg help from Mengele to save her surrogate daughter/sister. That's an interesting moral dilemma.
Tue, May 31, 2016, 9:04am (UTC -6)
Agree Robert. You'd think the "superior" DS9 would have broached that! :-) Seems they were too worried about how to make Sisko a god. (sigh)

This episode always irked me. I'd just sit there, watch it and shake my head.
Thu, Jul 14, 2016, 11:48am (UTC -6)
They created a hologram of Cardassian, and they also receive all the information about the Cardassian technology that knew the original Crell Moset? On what basis has been able a hologram of Moset make that calibration on tricorder? - and if they has that information in databank, cant their computer do those changes automatically?

Ok, then why they do not create some Romulan? Getting information about cloaking device could never be easier (irony).
Shawn Davis
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 3:37am (UTC -6)
I think that two stars is fair for this episode. I enjoy some of the moral dilemma (sp?) of this episode. For example, Seven tells the Doctor: "It is curious. The Borg are accused of assimilating information with no regard for life. This Cardassian did the same; and yet, his behavior is tolerated." I agree with Seven 100% on this.

Therefore, I agree with those who said that Janeway and the crew of Voyager are being hypocrites for using technology of the Borg, which is a species that assimilated many other species against their will (even though they do not kill the species), but some of the crew are questioning the use a hologram of a Cardassian which is a species who has history of torturing and sentencing bajorans and many other species to death without a trial and experimenting on other alien species without any though of morals and ethics.

I also agreed with some previous posters who said that Janeway made the right decision to allow the Doctor to continue to use the cardassian hologram to help Torres. Even though I believe that Torres should be the one who decides if she needs help from the holographic cardassian or not, I guess that Janeway made that decision because she can lose anymore of her crew and she needs the help of her chief engineer to keep the engines running at peak efficiency to Voyager and its crew can return home.

Everything else about this episode from the crew members arguing and fighting over a hologram to the hologram conveniently (almost a deux-ex-machina) doing things like recalibrating a tricorder to be incredibly ridiculous.
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 9:37am (UTC -6)
@Shawn D

Seven's line is a false analogy here. A similar situation to this episode would be if a Ferengi stumbled upon a non-fuctioning Borg cube and downloaded it's computer banks and use that data to save lives on their ship. A key point in this whole argument is that Voyager and its crewmembers are free of any direct wrongdoing related to Krell's work. The Borg, however, are directly related to all the technology they misappropriate by killing and enslaving billions.
Fri, Aug 5, 2016, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
It's possible if not likely that Janeway and more so the other crewmembers do feel uneasy about using Borg technology; I don't see why a lot of fans seem to have accepted it and view this episode as the morally odd view. That a lot of fans did accept it and thus are perplexed that there's a dilemma here seems an example of how questionably-ethical actions set precedents for having more later on.
Wed, Aug 10, 2016, 2:02am (UTC -6)
It amuses me that people are telling Jammer how he should be reviewing a show that he reviewed 18 years ago. If you don't like his Voyager reviews because you think he was biased in favour of DS9 or against Voyager or whatever, don't read them! It's his thoughts on episodes based on his honest perspective. There are people quibbling on different scores given to episodes reviewed years apart ffs. Ignoring the fact that episodes with superficial similarities may actually be more different than they seem, my opinions on things can change month to month, let alone over many years. Case in point, I really enjoyed STID when I saw it, but as I thought about it, my opinion diminished over time.

I find myself disagreeing with Jammer quite regularly, but I still find his perspective interesting, which is why I read his reviews.

Anyway, onto this episode. As far as the silliness with the hologram goes, I can ignore it. I ignore a lot of silliness from Trek, not least with the fact that space is huge, and the chances of randomly bumping into the Equinox, or the Ferenghi, or the 37s, or Friendship One, or the Caretaker's wife (I could keep going for a long time here) are tiny. It's suspension of disbelief, and I'm fine with the contrivance, especially considering Trek has done silly things with holograms in the past, and will continue to do so throughout Voyager's run.

The big issue for this episode is, how interesting is the ethical dilemma? I find myself disagreeing with Trek's take on ethics more often than I agree, and this episode is no exception, in that I don't see a dilemma at all. I look at it this way: between them, vaccines, antibiotics and insulin have saved millions, if not billions of lives, and improved countless more. For all I know, the development of those treatments involved some ethically questionable research. If I found out that, say, the development of vaccines led to the death of thousands of orphans, I would think that it's a tragedy, roundly condemn those involved, and go and get my children vaccinated without a second thought. Same for other medical treatments.

Throughout history, people have done awful things. Many things that we now consider abhorrent were considered normal within living memory. I'm sure that in 100 years, people will look back at us and make the same judgements. We have an obligation to learn from history, and to avoid repeating the same mistakes, but we have no obligation to throw out any advancements that involved questionable ethics. That would probably mean throwing out all progress - medical, scientific and even moral.

A more interesting dilemma was Janeway ordering the procedure against Torres' wishes. I agree with her decision, but it's not as clear cut. I think Torres was an idiot in this episode, but given that, she was absolutely within her rights to be annoyed with Janeway at the end. Janeway had a tough call to make, and she made it. It's just a shame there was no real follow up. And maybe a callback to Tuvix would have been nice.

Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 6:24pm (UTC -6)
Another hospital show... next (0)
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 9:43am (UTC -6)
Harry transfers Doc and Krell from the Holodeck to Sickbay — Doc was wearing his mobile emitter on the Holodeck, and is wearing it again in Sickbay. I guess Harry transported it at the same time Doc was transferred. Hah.
Vulcan Logick
Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 8:03pm (UTC -6)
Given the passionate and lively response, I think this episode was successful. What about the Dr Brahms hologram La Forge created to help fix the engines on enterprise? The convenient creation of a hologram is not unprecedented.
Wed, Oct 12, 2016, 1:35pm (UTC -6)
"Given the passionate and lively response, I think this episode was successful. What about the Dr Brahms hologram La Forge created to help fix the engines on enterprise? The convenient creation of a hologram is not unprecedented. "

Because LaForge is human and could not interface directly with the databanks that contained that knowledge and wanted "someone" to bounce ideas off of.

Voyager's doctor is a computer.
Thu, Nov 10, 2016, 4:50am (UTC -6)
I think Jammer got this one just right. The plots holes were far too numerous to allow this to work. Even with the usual suspension of reality this episode just stretches credulity too far.

I've noticed a number of people posting here about the trek precedents for creating realistic holograms. That isn't in question. What ruins it is the voyager precedent where harry utterly failed to produce even a rudimentary medical hologram to replace the doc. If they hadn't been contradicting their own lore this wouldn't be a problem (apart from the fact that the EMH program took years too develop etc.)

Could have been good but they stuffed it up. 2 stars
Thu, Dec 15, 2016, 2:51pm (UTC -6)
A couple gripes with this episode (aside from not liking it in general) didn't Harry just try to create a holographic doctor and fail pretty recently? I don't remember which ep. And, why would Seven be left in charge of engineering, what happened to Lt. Carrey?
I know everyone loves Seven of NIne I hated the character. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Jeri Ryan, and when it's a good script I like her just fine, but overall - I hated Seven of Nine. It was around this time I stopped watching Voyager initially. Might as well have called it That Borg Show.
Mon, Jan 9, 2017, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
The last scene really shows just how small a holodeck could barely fit a conference table and chairs in there. It's hilarious what other episodes attempt to convince us can fit in there, like whole towns.
Fri, Jan 27, 2017, 1:49pm (UTC -6)
The actor playing Crell Moset was superb. Had all the glib eloquent Cardassian mannerisms down pat. I enjoyed watching his performance so much (easily the best part of this episode; the man's practically a born Cardassian) that I nearly overlooked the episode's other shortcomings.

The first thing that irritated me was the issue of his physical parameters, which many others have mentioned. Harry could have reprogrammed him to be a Human, or a Bajoran, or even a Ferengi for the heck of it. No one would have been the wiser for it. Crisis averted.

Secondly, I agree with what one poster said - that this information was obviously very much available on the Federation and Starfleet medical databases, which had obviously been approved prior by Federation higher-ranking officials prior to their publication on the libraries. Crell Moset's hologram was composed out of this knowledge database, but the authorisation for his research to be publicised on the Federation database was from the Federation itself. The crew's anger at Moset's research therefore seemed rather misguided: if they condoned the usage of his research, why did they not question its availability on the database in the first place? It's probably easier to blame the evil Cardassians than your own people..

..which leads me to my third point. Moset was just a hologram, but the Doctor, the Bajoran and Torres were all behaving if he was the real Moset. The Bajoran guy nearly tried to beat him up and the Doctor had several hot debates with the hologram on the procurement of the research upon which his programme was based. It's like your dad finding porn on your computer and yelling at the computer instead of you. It was pointless of them to blame the hologram for something over which he had no control. They seem to all have forgotten that he was merely a facsimile of an end of a means and confused him for the latter.
Of course, a plausible explanation for that could have been because they had nowhere else to shout at/vent their frustrations at, and whom better to take it out on than the resident computer?

As a former poster pointed out, this episode would have been a lot more convincing if it had been the real Moset operating the scalpel. David Clennon was a splendid actor - I'm genuinely surprised they didn't bring him back for other ST incarnations and am of the opinion that if he'd debuted in DS9 he would have become a recurring character - but there were just too many holes in the premise for it to hold up.
Joao Sousa
Tue, Jan 31, 2017, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
Regarless of the technical questions which are beyond absurd, the main problem I had with this episode was "The Doctor".

"The Doctor" is not even human, and yet in his discussion with the Cardassian he "knows" what is the right side of the argument. Childish. We are talking about a computer, programmed by Zimmerman who wasn't a particular emphatic man, who has this childish notion of good vs evil, light vs dark. Absurd.

Well, even more childish is Torres' reaction. For gods sakes, it was an hologram, not the real doctor. He would rather die? Give me a break, that's just stupid.

Kill 100 to save 100 000? Not an easy call to make, even in the 24th century.

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