Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Body and Soul"

***

Air date: 11/15/2000
Teleplay by Eric Morris and Phyllis Strong & Mike Sussman
Story by Michael Taylor
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"We're both reasonable people. I suggest a compromise. Your vessel will escort us through Lokirrim territory. That way you can keep an eye on us, make sure we don't reactivate our holodecks. The other alternative is, we destroy your ship." — Janeway-style negotiation

In brief: Enjoyable. Not deep, and the plot is primarily a means to an end, but there's nothing really wrong with that.

It looks like it's that time of the year — time for the highest of high concepts. "Body and Soul" has what must be one of the most brilliantly simple high concepts in many a moon. How is it nobody on Voyager's writing staff thought of this episode before now? And if they or someone else already had, how could they possibly have been sitting on it for so long?

In the tradition of shows like "Infinite Regress," the story is this year's edition of Jeri Ryan Uninhibited. Ryan is an actor afforded few opportunities on Voyager to go bananas, but when she gets one, look out.

The basic premise is something so goofy and yet somehow so plausible that it makes perfect sense: Doc's program gets transferred into Seven's mind, and Doc takes over her body. The net result, essentially, is that Jeri Ryan plays the part of the Doctor. She gets Robert Picardo's role, and runs with it.

Something like this can be very good or very bad. Executed badly, it can be an embarrassment. Played correctly, it can be a lot of fun. "Body and Soul" is largely an example of the latter. Seven of Nine is so self-inhibited that you wonder if Ryan would get tired of the character's limitations. Perhaps an opportunity like this might seem like a vacation at work.

Of course, something like this could not happen because the characters wanted it to happen, so we have the plot force our characters into a situation where they must improvise the measure. In this case, it seems that the Delta Flyer has wandered into a territory of space inhabited by the Lokirrim, where holograms are assumed to be hostile members of a rebellion (they are referred to as "photonic insurgents"). Of course, I must ask why it would be assumed by any reasonable society that all holograms are automatically insurgents when they could just as easily be technology attached to those not involved in the conflict (as in this case). For that matter, why assume that just because certain biological materials could be used to make bio-weapons, they necessarily will? Because such an assumption must be used to justify our characters being taken prisoner, that's why. No matter; we can grant the story these silly details in the interests of its premise.

So the Delta Flyer is tractored into a shuttle bay and Harry and Seven are thrown into the holding cell on a Lokirrim vessel. Unbeknownst to the Lokirrim crew, Doc has actually been uploaded into Seven's mind to hide. If he's caught he'll likely be decompiled. Hmmm — in a society where holograms have apparently taken on a subculture of their own, there's no trial or hearing, and simply on-the-spot execution? Perhaps that's part of the problem with Lokirrim society.

Never mind. It's perhaps best to put such questions on hold, since similar themes may resurface in the upcoming "Flesh and Blood," a storyline two episodes down the road that will involve holograms as a central issue. For now, "Body and Soul" concentrates on the idea of Doc taking over Seven's body.

Some of this is quite funny. Take, for example, the cheesecake scene. One might not think that eating a piece of cheesecake could be the source of so much amusement, but here it is, simply because the person experiencing the consumption of cheesecake has never eaten anything before. And even worth a smile is the reaction of Ranek (Fritz Sperberg), the captain of the Lokirrim ship, upon tasting this cheesecake (apparently it truly is a good piece of cheesecake), which is the first of several bribes Doc/Seven feeds Ranek in an attempt to gain his trust.

As for the drunk scene — well, I'm always a sucker for a good drunk scene, and when you consider that Ryan is playing the part of Doc and then adding on top of that the fact Doc is drunk and trying to carefully manipulate Ranek, you've got yourself a situation that's as entertaining as it is silly, with layers to it that would require an actor be brave to underplay, and even braver not to.

Ryan's performance is not one that holds back in favor of subtlety. She goes for broke. And of course she does, because that's the point. Doc's persona is built upon outgoing expressiveness, cheerful narcissism, and sudden ventures into melodrama. It's fun to watch because of the weirdness of the given situation, and fun because we try to picture Picardo playing the same notes, and realize that he pretty much would be. Doc isn't subtle, so therefore neither is Ryan's performance. But it contains a working knowledge of the full extent of Doc's body language and speech patterns, and on that level there are subtle nuances to note. The rendition is excellent.

Doc is having a blast experiencing life in a real biological body, right down to the simple sensation of breathing air. The catch, of course, is when he learns that Seven has been aware of everything he has done while occupying her body. When he returns to his mobile emitter several times through the episode, she expresses her displeasure regarding his "overindulgence." This eventually leads to the best character discussion in the show, when Doc answers with a counter-argument. Given the circumstances, I'm with him: "We're quite a pair. Me, trapped by the limitations of photons and force fields. You, by a drone's obsession with efficiency. You'd make an excellent hologram." Life includes stopping to indulge yourself, otherwise what have you enjoyed when it's all over?

Oh, yes — Harry has the part of straight man to the lunacy, playing for reaction shots to Doc's personality as magnified through a situation that has Doc even more exuberant than usual.

Do you care about the plot? I'm not sure whether it's a credit or a demerit that the writers decide to play the alien plot more or less straight. Granted, it's not the least bit heavy, but nor is it completely irreverent; the writers permit a halfway serious issue involving the nature of holograms in Lokirrim society to creep into the narrative. Such scenes ground the scenes respectably in a normal reality. This episode could just as easily have gone for zero seriousness and been a comic role-playing free-for-all. I honestly don't know if that would've been better, worse, or neither.

But what we have isn't bad. The Lokirrim people are not depicted as one-note villains and instead more as people trying to do their jobs and follow the rules, screwed up as those rules might be. And it's nice that the resolution ultimately comes down to an agreement and some respect.

In the meantime, worked into the plot is a would-be romance, where Ranek tries to put the moves on Seven, much to Doc's dismay. The idea is obvious but mildly amusing — though wouldn't trying to woo your prisoner be a court-martial offense for a starship captain?

The other key interaction here is between Doc/Seven and Jaryn (Megan Gallagher), one of the ship's officers. Doc obviously has a bit of a crush on her, though the whole idea seems like an afterthought.

Really, the whole story could've been an afterthought. This is the sort of show that is more concept than content. What happens is far less important than how the actors convey it. It's a like a technical experiment. It is not inspired — and given the premise, it could've been — but it's at least entertaining.

There was a Voyager episode a few years ago about body switching called "Vis A Vis." It was a superficial, mechanical bore. Given the right situation and actors, a high concept like this can be fun. "Body and Soul," while hardly groundbreaking, works as a solid hour that should keep you interested in the dynamics on display.

Next week: Harry Kim takes command. Uh-oh.

Previous episode: Inside Man
Next episode: Nightingale

Season Index

30 comments on this review

Jakob M. Mokoru - Fri, Feb 22, 2008 - 2:38pm (USA Central)
I really enjoyed this episode. Ryan does a fantastic job impersonating Bob Picardo. Sometimes, I could almost see HIM.
Big Jones - Mon, Mar 24, 2008 - 2:40am (USA Central)
Ryan's Doc impersonation is one of the highlights of all seven seasons. Very fun episode.
EightofNine - Wed, May 21, 2008 - 5:29pm (USA Central)
I concur. Jeri Ryan really masters Picardo's mannerisms. His/her opening line: "The reports of my decompilation have been greatly exaggerated." really made me laugh out loud.
Markus - Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - 2:32am (USA Central)
Just three stars? Even neglecting the story, which was not that bad, this was four stars AT LEAST. Ryan's performance was breathtaking.
Jay - Fri, Sep 4, 2009 - 1:45pm (USA Central)
Why would Janeway believe that Tuvok contracted Tarkelian flu in the Delta Quadrant? Who would have given it to him?
Joe - Wed, Sep 9, 2009 - 4:56pm (USA Central)
Why is all flu in the future Tarkellian? Who are these people and why can they infect people 30000 light years away? Gits.
Ian Whitcombe - Thu, Sep 10, 2009 - 12:00am (USA Central)
Odo likes their tea, for whatever its worth.
Will Johnson - Mon, Oct 12, 2009 - 3:31pm (USA Central)
I liked this episode, one of the better ones of the Seventh Season, which I'm in the middle of now. It's clear to me that Voyager was running out of steam from Season Six onwards, but Jeri Ryan's performance was so good in this episode, when I think back, I keep thinking some of the lines she said were said by the Doctor
Ken Egervari - Mon, Dec 21, 2009 - 6:32pm (USA Central)
Jeri Ryan played the doctor's part excellently. She has such an amazing range as an actress, as we also saw in Infinite Regress. It made the episode fun.

All in all, this is a perfectly decent episode.
Michael - Fri, Jul 16, 2010 - 10:30am (USA Central)
Even funnier than the brilliantly portrayed Doc by Seven is Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock" Kim feigning fury upon being captured. Did anyone buy it? I don't think even he himself did! LOL!! It's a good thing - indeed, a miracle - he didn't fall for the female guard!

I liked the quote at the top by Janeway. Could it be she's de-wussified at last?

Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I can't think of a single scene I found insipid, cliched, annoying or superfluous. 3.5 stars at least though I'd go as far as to recommend four!
Cloudane - Wed, Apr 6, 2011 - 5:45pm (USA Central)
I wasn't particularly interested in the plot (hard headed aliens. Well I never. At least they had a tiny bit of a second side I suppose) and could've done without the Pon Farr stuff.

However as the two stars of the show, the melding of the Doc and Seven was a lot of fun. Got to give it a break for that.

Funny how in the previous episode we were reminded of Ace Rimmer - in this episode I'm reminded of Red Dwarf for the second time in a row, specifically an episode from around Series 2 where the hologram Rimmer takes over Dave Lister's body and overindulges (and many of the jokes that went with it). Voyager writers certainly importing some inspiration this season :)
Cloudane - Wed, Apr 6, 2011 - 5:52pm (USA Central)
Just to add, it's funny how the Doc's program keeps getting tossed around this season. Uploaded to Earth, downloaded back to Voyager, stolen by a hospital ship, transferred to Seven's magic node... he's gone Peer2Peer :)
Kieran - Wed, May 4, 2011 - 5:17am (USA Central)
Does that mean there's now Vulcan spunk all over the holodeck? That's nasty.
ian - Sun, Dec 4, 2011 - 11:38pm (USA Central)
Anyone catch the subtle homo-erotic elements? Such as the kiss between the "doctor," and the captain, as well as getting aroused by the female officer while in Sevens body? In both cases it is implied that "anything goes."

Also, Tuvok being satisfied with a holo-wife? Please...

Nice nod to the "Amok Time," TOS episode with Tuvoks wife little speech though...
Jelendra - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 4:46am (USA Central)
I loved this episode !!! Jeri Ryan captures so much of the Doc's body language and mannerisms, she's quite an actor !


Funniest moment: The Doctor's darting eyes as if looking for an excuse when Seven accuses him of becoming sexually aroused while in her body...COMEDY GOLD !
milica - Sun, Dec 9, 2012 - 3:23pm (USA Central)
Superb performance by Jerry Ryan!
Destructor - Mon, Dec 10, 2012 - 8:40pm (USA Central)
Loved this episode, but note that Jammer didn't even touch on the Pon-Farr storyline. And I was see why- it was totally throwaway. Such a great storytelling opportunity and they blew it!

Still, fun ep.
Bravestarr - Tue, Feb 5, 2013 - 1:32pm (USA Central)
Uhhh didn't anyone else find the whole Pon-Farr thing kinda creepy? Tom Paris is like a pimp pawning his Holo-Whores, Janeway comes up behind him and loudly implies that he use the Holodeck later.

I wouldn't be suprised if Neelix intercommed the whole ship and informed them not to go into Holodeck 1 because Tuvok is unleashed a Holo load.
Sintek - Tue, May 21, 2013 - 6:11am (USA Central)
Dayumn, that Lokirrim woman got back. That booty is kaBLAM.
Pablo - Wed, Jun 5, 2013 - 7:55pm (USA Central)
EMH:
"Not that it's any of your business... but if you must know *Ranek* kissed *me*."

That line made me laugh out loud! Gotta love Doc's narcissism :) As though Ranek was uncontrollably attracted to his personality, not Seven's body. Brilliant!

And I'm sure the previews had a field day with this line:

Seven:
"You became aroused in *my* body!"

Oh Ms.Ryan... If you meant *BY* your body, then guilty as charged.

There were just so many nice touches in this episode.
The Doc 'indulging' and then leaving Seven to endure the hangover and upset stomach.
Janeway's face when she realizes she's talking to the Doc, inside Seven's body.
And of course, the cheesecake scene.

Ryan and Picardo are two of the show's strongest actors and both shone here.
Definitely one of the best light-hearted Voyager episodes, along with Fair Haven.
Jonathan Baron - Sat, Jun 15, 2013 - 11:11am (USA Central)
Yes this was entertaining and indeed Jeri Ryan saved this series for reasons surpassing her looks and hair color. True, the series should have been renamed The Voyage of Seven during its last 4 years.

The unremitting heterosexuality does make it all seem eternally retro though. No matter where in the galaxy you go, or when, everyone is straight? Characters like Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood seem far more plausible, if a bit....excessive. Every creature he meets makes him randy ;)
Leah - Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 2:01pm (USA Central)
Loved loved loved this episode! Fantastic performances and great humor. I also didn't mind the Pon Farr side plot seeing as how it had to happen to him at some point and we're halfway through season 7 already. What did bug me a bit was that when Vorik went through it, he sexed up a hologram and it didn't work. Maybe Tuvok's age and discipline made the difference.

Though, in thinking about it, Vorik had started that imprinting bond thing on Torres so that might be why the hologram wasn't enough in that case. Tuvok has long been bonded with his wife, though, so you'd think that a hologram would be just as unfulfilling and empty to him as it was for Vorik. Meh, I'm putting way too much thought into it. I did feel kinda bad for Tuvok in any case, with everyone all up in his business.

Anyway, yes...great episode. I couldn't stop smiling throughout and I loved the ending. Nice to see Seven finally blossoming here before the end of the series.
azcats - Thu, Aug 22, 2013 - 4:49pm (USA Central)
1. Great episode. 3 stars maybe 3.5.
2. it was so great that Jammer forgot about he B Plot.
3. Leah, you answered your own question about Vorik.
4. I think they had to address the Pon Farr or all the continuity geeks would go crazy.
5. Jeri Ryan absolutely nailed the doctor. inflections and body language.
6. Jonathan Baron. you are nuts. Just because everyone is gung ho about homosexuality doesnt mean it is very common. i think it would be ridiculous to have episodes focus on it. plus, you can always watch the borefest of a TNG episode where Riker falls in love with the asexual alien.

i guess this should be 4 stars. Jammer, Michael, Ken AND Cloudane all liked the episode!
DPC - Tue, Sep 24, 2013 - 7:48pm (USA Central)
At first, I thought this episode was lame -- the EMH's code being assimilated into 7's borg technology thus controlling her mind is almost too much to swallow... but Jeri Ryan nails Robert Picardo's acting style for the EMH.

Never mind the freshness of the plot using the "body swap" trope and I found this to be 44 minutes of a slickly paced near-masterpiece in what it's trying to accomplish.

As usual, VOY takes Vulcans to a new level - Tuvok often comes close to beating Spock as the best Vulcan ever, but this episode puts in much tact for Pon Farr and his controlling it. Using the holodeck for romance has been done so many times in TNG, et al, that a practical use for Tuvok is more of a relief than a creepy gross moment -- anyone recall a person named Minuet that Riker fell for in "11001001"? Great story, but his asking her how far things could go was really -- ewww...

As a non-heterosexual, some dialogue was carefully chosen (e.g. why the lady's brother would not care for the doctor - the doctor being a "photonic".) And it didn't offend me - most heterosexuals, even those that are supportive of GLBT people will react with discomfort on a personal level.

If anything, it bothers me that a species is so anti-hologram that it will go after anyone or anything with such technology, without being bothered to listen. The Voyager and crew are not in their realm of space... yet at the same time, Earth's own history is replete with such examples of prejudice.

As for the TNG episode that deals with test tube babies, it would have been a GLBT allegory only if the asexual alien was a male (not female as demonstrated in that story...)
T'Paul - Sun, Sep 29, 2013 - 4:26pm (USA Central)
Um, azcats, what exactly does that mean, everybody is gung-ho about homosexuality? There are still a number of battles to be won in many, many places, least of all the "land of the free".

On Earth, homosexuality occurs in a number of species, some even forming long-term homosexual partnerships and raising young (Albatrosses). Why wouldn't it also be so in the rest of the galaxy?

If you think homosexuality is a recent fad, you are sorely mistaken... It has been common across cultures, time periods, even different species throughout history, and Trek's avoidance of it is one of its most serious oversights.

But I agree with DPC, the dialogue was tactfully chosen, and about Tuvok too.

But yes, brilliantly played by Ryan.
Jo Jo Meastro - Sun, Oct 13, 2013 - 11:23am (USA Central)
Out of all the Star Trek incarnations, Voyager was one of the better ones for doing comedy romp style episodes.

Enterprise was a disaster when it went down that, TNG got the Q comedies down to a *ahem* Q but had some serious misses along the way with the likes of episodes centered around Trois' mother, DS9 had its un-steadiness too with great banter alongside terrible Ferengi humor and TOS had its comic highlights but made the mistake of ending episodes on lame jokes despite whatever serious intelligent themes where handled merely moments prior.

This episode demonstrates how well handed Voyager is when dabbling with the amusing, minus Neelix of course! Smart, balanced, witty, expertly crafted and never dull; Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo help make this an absolute delight! There's fantastic chemistry and character work amongst the laughs, its a sheer pleasure watching these actors work their magic.

I'm impressed, its one of those rare gems when I imagine re-watches only add to the enjoyment. 4/4 from me!
Jons - Sat, Dec 21, 2013 - 3:10pm (USA Central)
I LOVED Ryan's performance. Really, really amazing, it was like watching Picardo grimed as Seven of Nine.

@ Azcats: It's not because you have a problem with homosexuality than the rest of the galaxy should as well. The fact that 99.99% of Aliens we encounter are two-gendered and only heterosexual is one of the things that make Star Trek improbable. (That and the humanoid-differentiated-only-by-facial-ridges debacle).
Nobody asks a "special episode about homosexuality". But I would certainly have liked at least one LGBT regular character in the series. Just as I enjoy having such a diverse racial crew (even though I'm white!). It's simply a question of reflecting real life.
NIck - Mon, Feb 3, 2014 - 4:37pm (USA Central)
This episode had all the great ingredients for a humorous Trek episode: body-swapping, gender-bending, and misplaced romantic feelings.

The only downer was Harry, who was his usual bland self, spouting out his usual bland, throwaway dialogue.

Seven and Doc made a great team... I always thought they should have ended up together by the end of the series, it made the most sense on several levels.
Steinway - Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - 3:34pm (USA Central)
@T'Paul: azcats was commenting on social attitudes about homosexuality, not prevalence. Even though homosexuality has been around for a very long time, it is only very, very recently that it has been widely accepted.

I am very conservative so the amount of gender-bending stuff in this episode was just right for me - funny, enjoyable, but not awkward...I was really hoping they wouldn't distract the audience from a funny, lighthearted episode by taking it in another direction and "pushing the envelope". I did chuckle during it and say, "I guess the Doctor was programmed to be heterosexual!"
Amanda - Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - 12:13am (USA Central)
I have two things to say

Bravo Jeri ryan-but I still think you have too many episodes.

And to quote Robert Picardo from 2008 convention: "Body and Soul? Where I am inside Seven of Nine but not in a fun way?" buahahaha.

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