Star Trek: Voyager


1.5 stars.

Air date: 5/1/1995
Teleplay by Brannon Braga
Story by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky
Directed by Kim Friedman

"I still have a series of tests to perform, but, other than his irritating lapses into nostalgia, I see nothing wrong with him." — Doctor

Review Text

When Tuvok and Chakotay return from a brief shuttlecraft journey, the crew discovers that an alien presence may have returned with them as strange events begin threatening the ship. A new low for the series, "Cathexis" again stresses how much Voyager, unlike its DS9 counterpart, lacks story arc development along the series as a whole.

Beginning with an utterly pointless and unmotivated teaser in which Janeway takes some recreational time in the holodeck, this installment continues to offer scenes that offer virtually nothing in terms of character development. "Cathexis" does not choose one character to focus on, but throws them all together into a ridiculous plot that gives none of them enough to do.

When the shuttlecraft returns, both Chakotay and Tuvok have suffered injuries. Tuvok recovers quickly, but, alas, Chakotay is brain dead because his neural energy has been mysteriously "drained." Tuvok explains that they encountered an alien vessel which attacked them and then retreated into a nebula.

Janeway orders a return to the nebula to investigate. But en route, Paris apparently makes an unauthorized course correction to avoid it. The mysterious part is that he has no memory of ever doing so. A similar occurrence happens upon Torres in engineering when she shuts down the warp core but believes she did nothing of the sort. When the Doctor examines them in sickbay, he discovers brain wave patterns that suggest they were under an alien influence when carrying out these disputed actions. Apparently, the alien can occupy anybody's mind and control their actions. No one can be trusted.

From this point, "Cathexis" turns into a series of disjointed events with poorly executed plot handling. The third act manages to work in elements of what seem to be the beginnings of a paranoid thriller, but the idea never gets off the ground outside of the one scene which introduces it. Instead, we get some standard revelations and a number of weak contrivances, such as the gratuitous crashing of the main computer and the ejection of the warp core.

In order to prevent the ship from being seized via an alien takeover of her own mind, Janeway transfers the command codes to the Doctor, since the computer presumably cannot be affected by the alien's influence. But someone deactivates the Doctor's program and renders the plan useless. Janeway decides to divide the command codes and give half to Tuvok, but a bizarre scene in which the alien begins seizing the minds of any bridge officer it encounters and then specifically attacking Tuvok hints that he may be the key to part of the mystery. This scene is interestingly photographed, as the alien begins body jumping from one person to the next. Unfortunately, the way it ends—Tuvok stunning everyone on the bridge with his phaser set on wide beam—has an inappropriately comical effect.

As evidence mounts against Tuvok, suggesting that he lied about the shuttle incident, it becomes clear that he is directly under an alien's influence. The other body-jumping alien turns out not to be an alien at all, but Chakotay's missing neural energy "somehow displaced," as Janeway puts it. This allows Chakotay to take control of other people's minds (as a countermeasure to the Tuvok-alien) in an attempt to save the Voyager from nebula-inhabiting, neural energy-thieving alien baddies. The idea might have sounded good in a writer staff meeting, but is completely ridiculous on screen. Chakotay using Neelix to rearrange the stones on a medicine wheel to make a "map" that helps the crew escape the nebula is even more ridiculous (and really strains credulity).

An atypically weak direction by Kim Friedman doesn't help either, as this episode fails to produce the slightest amount of excitement or urgency at every turn. If Voyager wants to do mundane sci-fi concepts like alien body snatchers, it had better find a better angle to take than this one does.

Previous episode: Heroes and Demons
Next episode: Faces

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Comment Section

60 comments on this post

    I feel like this episode misses the boat because it's focus was on the wrong thing. The alien/Chakotay mind jumping was incidental... the real plot should have been the crew's discipline breaking down as they begin to trust each other less and less, especially when you add in the Maquis factor - they've lost THEIR commanding officer and they're facing an unknown danger aboard ship. Where were the crewmembers threatening to steal a warp shuttle and abandoning ship?

    How did Chakotay survive long enough to get back to Voyager? The Doctor says he "can keep his heart beating and his lungs breathing", but even if so, how did these organs function before Tuvok and Chakotay got back to Voyager?

    I thought this episode was terrible. One thing which pissed me off about the first season of Voyager was they felt the need to just give us a series of spatial anomalies as enemies, instead of the underused and extremely interesting Kazons and Vidiians. This episode is a perfect example of just that problem.

    Am I the only one who likes this episode? I liked the fact that all the characters had something to do, and the revelation that the 'alien' was actually Chakotay boggled my mind when I first saw it. I'll admit the episode has its problems (like many season one episodes of any series) but it was an interesting way to explore the characters.

    I thought this episode was OK. I enjoyed the paranoia between the crew, and the twist that it was Chakotay taking over their bodies and not the alien, which was in Tuvok all along.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but if Chakotay could hop from body to body, why didnt he just hop into his own?

    This one was a real loser. It was disjointed and boring, plus I saw the "plot twist" about Chakotay coming from a mile away. I popped on over to the memory alpha page for this episode to see if there was some explaination for this 45 minute snore fest, and saw the following quotes from Brannon Braga:

    "I struggled with that script [....] It was a complex story–as many of mine are–but I never quite had a handle on the logic of what was going on"

    At least he admits this one didn't go so well. But, man, I rolled my eyes so hard at that "as many of mine are" line. Then there was this one:

    "Michael Piller wanted to make it a story about paranoia, which sounded good at the time, but it's hard to do a show about paranoia on a Starfleet vessel. People don't behave that way."

    I wish Brannon had taken five minutes out of his daily routine of being too complex for the universe, to listen to Michael Pillar! Maybe the episode could have been saved if he had. Alas, it was not to be.

    Even one star is generous for this one. But, this isn't a no star episode either. I reserve that honor for Threshold. So, all in all, this gets a half star from me.

    Ha, yes, 'starfleet personnel don't behave that way'. If only we had a Trek series set aboard a lone ship far from the 'fleet, staffed by a volatile mix of starfleet and until recently openly hostile crew forced to work together to get home!

    I have to say I didn't hate this episode, perhaps due in part because I was so grateful the Janeway running around in a bonnet drinking tea thing was only a teaser of horrors to come.

    There's stupid stuff to pick apart (hey Chakotay how about possessing someone to pick up a pen and explain what the heck is going on) but man everything that gets Tuvok to shoot the bridge crew and neck pinch Kes so hard it looks like she had an encounter with space vampires is going to entertain me.

    I'm watching Voyager for the first time after having completed TNG, DS9 and ENT. I'm not hating it so far, but during this episode I noticed one irritating aspect of Mulgrew's acting: the wide-eyed, eyebrow-cocked stare while the music swells and we cut to commercial. The first time in this episode it was an overdramatic embellishment. The second time it was distracting. The third time it was just plain silly. Maybe a drinking game is in order?

    The entire problem could have been solved if Chakotay simply inhabited himself and explained the issue.

    Or if that's not possible because of some Tuvok-alien induced plot contrivance, Chakotay could have inhabited someone else and sent Janeway an intership email explaining the situation.

    I'm surprised by the amount of people who didn't like this episode= I loved it. From my first season memories this episode always came to light. The story was something different but I love how the crew members got possessed and lost control- My Fav scene being when Janeway all of a sudden attacked Tuvok. Very entertaining!

    I hated this one. And forget about the comments about Chakotay solving everythin by inhabiting himself. Let's just assume that his body was damaged and he couldn't. But instead of using the crew to turn the ship around and screw with propulsion, how about using someone to write a note that says: hey, it's me Chakotay... i'm body jumping through the ship. HELP! PS. Don't go back to that nebula.

    And using neelix to draw a rough map on his medicine wheel! what was that about? walk the talaxian to a computer terminal and give your crew a real map.

    I agree with everyone that said that Chakotay, while being out of his body in a different form, should have done something different to warn the crew about that nebula instead of just taking over someone's body and start messing around with the computers such as stopping the warp core and changing the ship's direction. Like someone said, he could have either speak through someone while possessing that person, or write it on a datapad or pen with paper. If he couldn't do that, someone like Janeway or Tuvok could of ask why he didn't do those and he could have gave some explanation regarless whether it make sense or not toward the end of the episode.

    This should be a borderline 2 star. It is no worse than Emanations or Ex Post Facto, the other disappointments of this season; but if we had to pick a loser of Season One, this isn't it. My vote would go to Emanations for it's total lack of pace. At least this episode had some suspense.

    My only quibble being I wish Tuvok had told us just what exactly those aliens wanted, and to see him apologize for phasering everyone and neck pinching Kes.

    Excellent, tense thriller episode. The only flaw is the way Chakotay "got his soul back". Jammer is way too harsh on Voyager.

    "But instead of using the crew to turn the ship around and screw with propulsion, how about using someone to write a note that says: hey, it's me Chakotay... i'm body jumping through"

    Hahaha, exactly. An episode with a premise that is beyond silly. Chakotay, the Friendly Ghost.

    Besides, it was a super boring episode, not tense or fun at all for me. I swear that I almost fell asleep.

    A few genuinely entertaining scenes completely overshadowed by shoddy direction, mundane plotting, and a downright silly premise. This episode fails on almost every level.

    1 star.

    You know, I have to admit, this idea is at least unique. I don't think I've ever heard of a plot in which two ghosts on opposite sides are possessing the main characters, and the main characters have no idea what's going on. So, given how silly the premise is, there is still some potential here. I have to give this episode a little bit of a pass as a guilty pleasure because the idea is at least potentially useful. Unfortunately, it just didn't seem to be executed very well. Maybe because one of the ghosts was Chakotay, which caused too many plot holes (why he didn't try to tell anyone who he was, as everyone else has already pointed out). Maybe because we didn't know there were two ghosts until near the end. Perhaps it would have been more interesting if the crew knew there were two ghosts, and had to guess which one was which and which one was worth helping.

    One thing I would have liked to see more of is the crews response to the whole situation. That doesn't mean looking at their paranoia, however. After all, most of the crew are highly trained professionals, and the rest are disciplined hardy soldiers. I don't think they would be succumbing to paranoia so easily. But rather, I think it would have been better to watch the crew work their way through the problem with more professionalism, trying to out-think the ghost while simultaneously trying to figure out what's going on. And some of Janeway's planning, such as giving the Doc the command codes and trying to work with Tuvok, were pretty good.

    Unfortunately, Janeway did not implement a buddy system (nobody allowed to be alone), which one would think would be the first thing anyone would do. It was painfully obvious that Tuvok was up to no good when he went to sickbay, and a buddy system would have helped to get around that. Likewise, I could have done without the "mystery" of what happened to Kes; it seemed obviously to me that a possessed Tuvok neck-pinched her. Unfortunately, this seems to be a trend with Voyager; the writers are missing the blatantly obvious. It serves to make the plots more ridiculous than they need to be.

    As for the episode itself, yeah, not very good. But I think there was potential there somewhere. Just needed another rewrite or two.

    It's all been said. Boo, needs a rewrite.

    I liked the dark bridge atmosphere of the ship to set the tone, LOVED Janeway back handing Tuvok, and I loved her hair.

    I laughed at the multi stun. whoops.

    I agree with Skeptical. The potential was there for a good episode. Having two body jumpers was unique. However, having one of them be Chakotay was problematic for the reasons everyone already stated.

    There were a couple of entertaining moments - when Harry was only daydreaming but everyone jumped up and looked like they were going to give him a beat down because they thought he was inhabited by the alien and when Tuvok shot at the bridge crew were good moments.

    I also agree that the crew's reactions should have had more of a focus. I think there should have been more paranoia.

    I am also mystified as to why the writers on Voyager seem to overlook REALLY big plot holes. Don't get me wrong, every series is going to have stories that don't work, but Voyager's writers seem to be the worst. Why can't Chakotay warn the crew? Who knows. I'm unclear as to why this wasn't the first question asked in the writer's room.

    I'll side with Skeptical too.

    This one isn't that bad Jammer.

    There is suspense, puzzlement, and humor. I think this could have been a better two-parter allowing for more of the crew paranoia/inter-reaction etc... this did seem rushed at times.

    I too wanted to know what the two aliens wanted inline79.

    Slightly above average episode for me.

    2.5 stars.

    I didn't remember this episode being bad when i first saw it, but after watching it recently i saw just how bad it is.

    This was one episode from the 1st season I didn't get to see when it originally aired. It was suspenseful, that much I vaguely remembered. When I did watch it in it's entirety I wasn't all that disappointed.

    1 and half stars is a bit harsh. Season 7's Natural Law I thought was worse. Heck, I thought False Prophets was less consequential.

    I have to say I didn't know what to expect. It made sense chuckles would somehow be involved but the other twist I didn't see coming at all. It certainly held my attention till the very end. Just like a good mystery should.

    And as always solid acting from Tim Russ and a bit of comic relief from Robert Picardo. I would have given this two and a half stars just for the suspense it generated. Didn't feel contrived or predicatble. It felt quite original. Nothing consequential beyond the story itself though, which just keeps it from reaching classic status.

    I suppose Invasion of the Body Snatchers has been done often enough that having the twist of two competing ghosts is something of a novelty. But really, that twist doesn't come early enough in the game to save an episode that is fundamentally disjointed. Apparently major themes - such as crew paranoia - leap up and are then discarded. It's all a bit of a mess.

    And what the heck was that holodeck intro? 1.5 stars.

    Say what you want about this episode, it taught me a valuable lesson; that native American medicine wheels contained magnets, you know, for those times when you feel like hanging it up in your sickbay...

    Yeh this episode was dumb, not least because when the crew needed to be functioning at peak efficiency and keeping their eyes open for intruders... They turn all the lights off. Same goes for whenever the ship went into battle.

    Tuvok group stunning the entire bridge was funny though and makes me wonder why that setting wasn't used more, like defending the ship from Kazon boarders or maybe defending a Dominion comm relay from advancing Jem'Hadar soldiers...

    Since when could a phaser split and take out an entire room full of people (and auto aim at each of them no less)?

    PS I'm not the same JC as above, presuming an alien didn't take over my mind momentarily last November.

    This was a great episode. I found it very enjoyable. Most of the Voyager episodes were. I am not sure why there are so many negative comments and reviews about every single episode in the series. Even this guy reviewing them seems to have a vendetta against Voyager. I have an idea. Why do you all just stop watching Star Trek all together? It does not seem that any of you enjoy it. Have a nice day.

    Nathan W.,

    Jammer is a "niner", but he has us here to keep him in check :-)

    JC, Phasers have always been able to use that setting since TNG, it's just never used, probably because it's HAX and would spoil many firefight scenes.

    One thing I've noticed however is that the maximum setting for a phaser seems to change with the wind, in some episodes of Trek it simply disintegrates one person, in others it's described as being able to destroy a small building.

    It's a shame they had to make them look like electric razors though, the Federation has no style!

    As soon as the doctor said "He's brain dead" I knew it as another hospital show where we spend the episode waiting for a drew member5 to get better. No thanks, not watching that.

    Utterly tedious.

    I've watched all of TOS and all of TNG. I've nearly finished Season 3 of Deep Space Nine. I'm not sure I'll ever make it to the end of Voyager - this is just dreadful, boring television that is really ruining my interest in the franchise.

    > how about using someone to write a note

    You mean with *paper*?? Don't you know - paper was made *totally obsolete* in the year 2156! (At the rate we're going, we probably will be there by 2027..)

    > The only flaw is the way Chakotay "got his soul back"

    Oh! But that gave us one of the best line in the episode - "I would consider writing a paper about it, if there were a convenient forum in which to publish it."

    I would have like to see some sappy Chakotay-Janeway considering-the-deep-nature-of-reality moment at the end where Chakotay reflected on the experience and his conception of the afterlife. But that would have been far too much like (well, identical to actually) "The Next Phase" in TNG.

    Loved this and don't get Jammers psychotic anti-Voyager prejudice.

    I thought this episode was excellent. Very reminiscent of the DS9 season 3 finale "The Adversary", where the Defiant crew also descend into paranoia when a Changeling takes their form. I especially liked the brief showdown on the bridge, and seeing Tuvok take everyone down with a wide-beam phaser (would have liked to see that setting used more often!). Honestly don't understand all the criticism this episode is getting, even though I don't usually rate Voyager that highly myself.

    Probably my favourite Voyager episode so far; this or "Eye of the Needle".

    Von's comment: "I'm watching Voyager for the first time after having completed TNG, DS9 and ENT. I'm not hating it so far, but during this episode I noticed one irritating aspect of Mulgrew's acting: the wide-eyed, eyebrow-cocked stare while the music swells and we cut to commercial. The first time in this episode it was an overdramatic embellishment. The second time it was distracting. The third time it was just plain silly. Maybe a drinking game is in order?"

    Dude, GET OUT OF MY HEAD. I was scanning the comments and getting ready to post my own and it was going to say this, almost verbatim, even down to suggesting a drinking game. The only thing I would disagree with is - it's not Mulgrew's fault that they keep using this hackneyed, lazy way of fading to commercial.

    On the nitpicky side, I had a couple of issues with this one. I understand an alien could take over their bodies, but it was also privy to their thoughts and wealth of knowledge. Otherwise, Tuvok would not have been able to do the Vulcan neck pinch thing to Kes. An alien with that kind of power would not need to resort to having the people it controls take such obvious actions like sudden and arbitrary course changes that would be immediately noticed by everyone else.

    And as for the ejection of the warp core - really? The chief engineer isn't authorized to eject the warp core in an emergency?

    As has been noted, Chakotay is certainly needlessly enigmatic when he's inhabiting an alien. Sounds like there was some attempt to explain this at the end when he was telling Janeway there was a learning curve with how he could make his host do things, but still.... he got Torres to walk over and input his security code to eject the warp core. You'd think he could get her to walk up to the bridge and say "hey Captain, you've got a problem here."

    Lastly - how does Chakotay know what the aliens are up to?

    I'm normally not a stickler for these little plot holes and just want to be entertained, but this one was just too much. I had to take breaks watching this one I got so annoyed with it.

    Another Voyager episode that, towards its end, makes me think "What the hell was the point?"

    I think the idea is decent. But the execution is bad, well... really bad, it's all over the place. The whole crew act like having brain damage and there's airborne idiot virus plaguing on the ship.

    * They suspect alien on board, no one suggest making communication/first contact?
    * Turn out the 'alien' is Chakotay, well.. it's not really out of character for Chakotay to be dumb and not just say 'Hey... It's Me!. I entered my command code to prove who I am. Get out of that fricking Nebula!'
    * Doc, care to explain how brain pattern can be exist in the air? Without actual brain to hold that 'neural pattern', computer device, or anything? That brain/consience whatever can just floating in the air and jump?
    * Paris and Torres got possessed, but not suspect anything (you suddenly jump to another place and doing something else), that doesnt make you question yourself? You need Doc to pointing that out using biomolecular scan?
    * Doc, thought you have 4 million something medical knowledge and 47 professional medical experience (including McCoy) , but you dont recognize Vulcan Neck Pinch right away. You need Paris to conclude that?
    * Aah.. The perfect ensign wandering his mind on urgent senior staff meeting, okay
    * No one suggesting to working on group and watch each other back, prevent them from do anything out of ordinary?
    * No one suggesting or even try/thinking method how to prevent the alien to 'jump' on them?
    * Btw, Tuvok-alien. You manage to incapacitated all bridge crewmember right (the phaser-HAX)? Why dont you just go straight away to the Nebula? Why reviving them back again?
    * They finally found (strongly suspect) Tuvok is under alien influence, and scheming all of this, but none safety measures taken before confronting him? How about 'Computer, erect force field surround the tactical station and transfer all the control to Ops station'. Or just stun him, question later!
    * Errr.. a Chief Engineer (Torres) don't have authorization to eject warp core? How dumb is that! Of course in later episodes (as it suppose) the chief engineer is able to eject warp core (Day of Honor). I don't recall Geordi ever need to ask authorization from bridge to dump warp core either.
    * Gosh.. Chakotay, map using your medicine wagon? Why not just plotting course using one of the panel you can easily acces by posses someone.
    * Why can't Chakotay back to his own body in the first place for that matter anyway, he can easily posses anyone but not back to himself? He don't have external injury or any live-threatening condition, aside from 'losing neural-pattern'
    * Ah.. yes.. after all that stupidity we still treated with that cliche of saved in the nick of time... awwww, cute!
    * BAMM!! The Doc suddenly can put back Chakotay conciousness out of thin air (literally). How Chakotay conciousness can exist in thin air? Ah well... better not question that. But Doc can explain you how to transfer it back to his body, It using a series of technobable that require 10 hours to explain it (yeaaaa... right!)

    The absurd and ridiculous is way beyond suspension of disbelief. Only the idea is sound, but the plot and script need to be put in the trashbin.

    1 (*) star for avoid be totally offending, and at least have some dumb entertainment value.

    This is also the third time in season 1 we encounter "Anomaly/Phenomenon turn out to be a life-form"

    Last, what's the holodeck scene have to do with any of this anyway?

    I have to join the few who said they enjoyed the episode, although I must admit that the denouement was a bit weak. I did enjoy the thriller aspect in the second half. I do agree with Jammer on the pointless teaser. And yes, as a couple of commenters have mentioned.. "the wide-eyed, eyebrow-cocked stare" by Janeway was a low for Mulgrew.. Overall, I still liked the episode for its classic ST themes (anomalies, crew members acting strange, feeling threatened by an alien force, etc.)

    Did anyone else notice how dark the room was during the round-the-table meeting of the senior officers? Torres and Kim actually looked scary in the close-ups!

    { Am I the only one who likes this episode? I liked the fact that all the characters had something to do, and the revelation that the 'alien' was actually Chakotay boggled my mind when I first saw it. }

    I agree with you completely. This one wasn't great, but it was pretty good.

    { Why can't Chakotay back to his own body in the first place for that matter anyway, he can easily posses anyone but not back to himself? }

    It's amazing how many people keep saying this. He's out. He can't take over a body and make it do something it can't normally do - for example, reviving an unconscious person.

    3 stars!

    I enjoyed this one. Signature Brannon Btaga high concept fun. I liked the teaser. Set the mood for the episode. Involving plot throughout the hour of who's who and what's going on. I also liked the way Chakotay in Neelix used the map to guide crew out. Neat idea I thought.

    I generally don't complain about the science in Trek because unless it's specifically an episode about science, it's generally a means to an end. That said, it's one hell of a buy that not only does Chakotay's "neural energy" get extracted so that he's now...a ghost?...but that he's a ghost that can...see?...just with slightly distorted vision; fly around, controlling his direction?; and eventually...possess people and make them do some things? But of course, not possess them well enough to say, say, "Hey, I'm the spirit of Chakotay! Tuvok is possessed! Pass it on!" It's also notably weird and dumb for there to be huge amounts of radiation from a "dark matter nebula"; surely the whole point of it being dark matter is that there *isn't* radiation from it? (I guess the idea is maybe that it's mostly neutralinos or whatever but that these dark matter aliens can do whatever.) Anyway, even within the episode's specific parameters, the ending doesn't really make sense -- possessed!Tuvok phasered the entire bridge crew, but still let them all wake up and go back to their stations and so on. Nor is it clear why he reported the Doctor's finding that Kes seems to have been physically attacked, rather than just deactivating the Doctor right away (since he was going to do that anyway). It's possible there are explanations for *some* of possessed!Tuvok's actions, but the whole it seems capricious and arbitrary. The paranoia theme doesn't really get developed satisfactorily; we can imagine how this could have gone if this, say, played on actual differences between the crew members. Also, seriously -- the Chief Engineer doesn't have authorization to eject the warp core?

    Also as everyone points out -- what the hell was up with that holonovel scene? It's not a terrible idea for there to *be* some holonovel scenes, but that went on for four whole minutes without any clear dramatic direction in the frame of the show itself, and because Janeway was acting we don't even get the mild consolation of getting to see how she feels about it. I guess the idea is that she wants to explore the part of her that wants to be a governess and take care of children, but we don't even get to that part (and just do the "fight with the housekeeper" thing).

    Buuuuut yeah, as people pointed out, that there were two possessing aliens is a cool twist and unexpected. Some of the tonal stuff worked okay. It's not unwatchable or anything, though I don't really feel like going on about its good aspects. Probably 1 star -- maybe 1.5.

    Very little of this episode made any sense, and the little that did was predictable and poorly executed.

    Tuvok is the one who wants to go back to the nebula, but he never even suggests it. The EMH does. And he tells Janeway that it wasn't a discharge of some kind that hurt Kes, that it was a physical attack. Why would he tell her that and make her suspect him? No reason whatsoever. Other people already went over most of the other nonsense in this episode.

    How long to regenerate the warp matrix? 2 hours. How long to set up the magneton scan? 2 hours. How long to restore the EMH? 2 hours. Is it possible to do anything on Voyager in less than 2 hours? How long did that pointless opening holodeck seem to last? 2 hours.

    The low point for me was this:

    'EMH: You've placed the Coyote Stone at the crossroads of the fifth and sixth realms, which would divert Commander Chakotay's soul, that is his consciousness, into the Mountains of the Antelope Women. According to his tradition, an extremely attractive locale. He might not want to leave.'

    Mountains of the Antelope Women. OMG. I wanted to punch the tv.

    worst episode so far

    zero stars

    This episode was a mess, apparently never sure what it wanted to be. Just when you think it's starting to show potential it does something goofy. The idea of body snatchers is fine, especially with Chakotay becoming one of them creating overall confusion/paranoia amongst the crew. But it didn't play up the paranoia on the crew aspect too well.

    I liked how signs started pointing to Tuvok when Doc examined the injuries to Kes. Then one thinks of him being with Chakotay in the shuttle initially so things start adding up. But then there was that stupid phaser fight scene on the bridge. And I thought Harry Kim had a particularly dumb line "...unless there are 2 aliens..."

    And what was the point of Janeway's lousy experience in the holodeck to kick off this episode. Hardly seemed relaxing. But that's the problem with this episode -- spent too much time on mundane things when the solution turns out to be simple (albeit requiring lots of technobabble) and convenient. Doc reintegrating Chakotay's consciousness -- suspension of disbelief on high here.

    2 stars for "Cathexis" -- more things to complain about than praiseworthy items. The execution of this episode is pretty bad, not well thought out, and with enough silliness, although there was potential in terms of a whodunnit / paranoia.

    I liked it. Though, this comes with me being familiar with Voyager, disappointed back when it first aired, so basically graded on a curve.

    I don't recall seeing the balding young officer before, so for a while I assumed he was the villain.

    I thought if a Conundrum type plot based on that, like what if in an episode the regular crew were gradually replaced by different actors. Perhaps with a bit of Remember Me as well, with one character being the only one noticing anything.

    Teaser : **, 5%

    Janeway has deigned to play the role of governess in a “Turn of the Screw” knockoff holonovel. I am loathe to give this episode too much credit (erm, spoiler), but if we are to assume that this scene is not completely pointless, then we should look to the episode's title for answers as to what was intended by it: in its original usage in psychoanalysis, Freud considered cathexes to be (try not to be surprised) a way in which suppressed libidos attach themselves to particular affectations (we might call them “kinks” today). Interwoven cathexes are called a “complex.” This suggests that Janeway's choice to play dress-up here is a confession by the writers that she is sexually-frustrated and looking for ways of sublimating her libido. Is this a stretch? Absolutely, but it's a hell of a lot more interesting than the derivative crap we have on the screen. Just please, please, please, don't have Janeway sleep with a Scottish ghost. Please.

    Anyway, Tuvok and Chakotay were on some away mission in a shuttle and it has returned with the pair suffering neural damage. Tuvok will be fine thanks to his Vulcan brain, but Chakotay is essentially brain-dead. Janeway, realising the gravitas of this situation has made sure to change back into her uniform and change her hairdo before the EMH delivers his report. Sigh....

    Act 1 : *, 17%

    Tuvok debriefs the captain. Some kinky aliens forced Chakotay to cathect all of his neural energy somewhere. Janeway orders Paris to take the Voyager back to the nebula where the shuttle was attacked so they can try and track down the weapon and restore the XO. Said shuttle has had its logs erased somehow. Mulgrew is again tasked with trying to make absurd dialogue sound interesting. “I can't scan inside the nebula. Hmm. You know, Dr Watson, I deduce that this may indeed be perfect place for some sinister aliens to hide from us!” Well, then some weird stuff starts happening. Janeway's sensor goes offline entirely and the ship alters course. Kim says the command came from the Conn, but Paris can't explain how it happened.

    In Sickbay, Torres has prepared Chakotay's medicine wheel. Mhm. Well, the medicine wheel is a religious device employed by several tribes who inhabit(ed) the plains states of North America. So, now we have narrowed down Chakotay's tribe to somewhere in the vicinity of South Dakota. Anyway, the EMH, having virtually no bedside manner or social skills, takes unusual pains to show deference to this nonsense because hey, Chakotay is allowed to be the religious guy. I can sort of understand Torres honouring his “traditions” here, in the same way if your Catholic friend were in a coma, you might light a candle for the Virgin Mary on his behalf even if you yourself aren't Catholic, and Torres was shown to be familiar with his beliefs in “The Cloud,” but the native drum and pan-flute underscoring reveals what this really is: the writers pandering, yet again.

    In Kes' quarters, we see that she has acquired the fertility idol from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Um...okay...she's wearing that purple sweater from “Time and Again,” so we should be clued in to the idea that her mental powers are churning again. Well, instead of collapsing into a ball of tears, she heads to the mess hall to tell Neelix that she's sensing some sort of presence. Neelix, for his part, is *slightly* less condescending to her than last time.

    On the bridge, the ship changes course again but now the controls are locked down. Kim Friedman, for the second time this episode, decides to head to commercial with a zoom in close up on Janeway's face. God this is cheesy.

    Act 2 : *.5, 17%

    Paris returns to the bridge after checking the helm circuits (and still no explanation) and Tuvok is able to re-establish control and reset their course. This latest cockup originated in the Navcon room, where, according to Torres, Paris had just been a few minutes prior. Paris has no memory of doing anything, so Janeway has him sent to sickbay to have his brain checked. Lt Durst is assigned to escort him. Tuvok has determined that Paris is indeed responsible for making the course changes, but the EMH can't find anything wrong with his memory, so I guess he's lying. Back to jail with you!

    As the Voyager approaches the nebula, Tuvok points out that the alien ion trail reveals an erratic flight path, probably because of techno-turbulence. Ah, but then the warp core is shut down and the main computer crashes. All the evidence points to Torres, but she, too has no memory of any ill deeds.

    Well the EMH finally has some answers—both Paris and Torres had their brains taken over by some alien brainwave. Tuvok surmises an alien travelled with him and Chakotay on the shuttle, and now it's jumping from person to person, sabotaging their attempts to get to the nebula. So, basically, it's a rehash of “Lonely Among Us,” but with pan-flutes and gothic governesses. Great. Janeway decides to transfer her command codes to the EMH, since the alien seems to need to interact with organic beings in order to affect the ship. I admit I chuckled at this exchange:

    JANEWAY: If you feel at any time that any one of us are under the influence of the alien, you can countermand our orders and take control of the ship. Do you feel up to it?
    EMH: Well, of course. I make life and death decisions every day.
    PARIS: I feel better already.

    Kes finds Janeway and co. outside sickbay and reports that her telepathic antenna is going off, while we get a POV shot of the alien presence moving about the corridor. Tuvok suggests using a mind-meld to help Kes focus her powers. A few minutes later, Kim and Durst discover the pair passed out in the turbolift.

    Act 3 : .5 stars, 17%

    Well, once again, Tuvok is unscathed by the encounter, but Kes is in a coma like Chakotay. In the conference room, Torres suggests a special sensor sweep that might ferret out the alien. For a moment, Kim is motionless and unresponsive, suggesting he's being possessed by the alien. Kim claims his mind just wandered a bit, and this event makes Janeway worry that the ship may be consumed with paranoia. Don't make promises you can't keep, Kathryn.

    In sickbay, Neelix is helping pad out the episode by giving the EMH a list of people whose behaviour he finds suspicious. Ah, so when Janeway said paranoia might overtake the ship, what she meant was “our self-appointed Morale Officer is going to become very paranoid and aggravate the ever-living shit out of the crew.” He finally leaves and Tuvok enters to perform maintenance—um, yeah, that checks out. The EMH tells Tuvok that it appears Kes' injuries were not caused by an energy discharge à la Chakotay, but some sort of physical struggle.

    Tuvok reports to Janeway in the ready room—the sensor sweep will be ready soon and the crew should be prepared for a bit of pain when it's activated. Seems only fair after sitting through this garbage. It also seems clear that Tuvok was possessed by the alien and injured Kes, so Janeway calls the EMH to have Tuvok's brain scanned, for all the good that would do. Ah, but his programme has been encrypted—causing the command codes to revert to Janeway, suggesting she too has been possessed. So, she decides to divide her codes between herself and Tuvok, assuming they could not both be possessed at once. They enter the bridge to inform the crew about her plan and we see the POV shot again. Janeway is possessed, stopping mid-sentence and smacking Tuvok in the face. Paris stuns her, and so it moves to Kim and then Durst—all of them are going after Tuvok, so he sets his phaser on wide beam and stuns the entire bridge. Well, that's a nifty trick.

    Act 4 : zero stars, 17%

    Later, Torres discovers that the shuttle sensor logs were actually erased by someone on the shuttle and then an accident faked to cover their tracks. Well, between that and the last bridge scene it seems completely obvious that Tuvok has been possessed by an alien and has been lying to the crew. Oh, and there was no other ship in that nebula. Janeway is at least suspicious of Tuvok, whose guilt is corroborated by some additional tidbits—Kes was injured by a Vulcan nerve pinch, the ion trail is fake, and Tuvok is always the alien's target. So, finally, Tuvok pulls a phaser and orders Kim to pilot the ship into the nebula. Apparently, this is supposed to be a dramatic moment. Well, Kim refuses, so Tuvok sets his phaser to kill and has pilots the ship in himself. Durst tells Janeway “Captain, we're entering the nebula.” Ah, yes thank you for that information, guy. Another closeup on Janeway's it over, yet?

    Act 5 : .5 stars, 17%

    The alien in Tuvok finally identifies himself as of the species Qomar. Yes, of course non-corporeal lifeforms have a verbal language. In Engineering, the POV shot returns and Torres is possessed to the accompaniment of some very “Psycho”-esque music. She ejects the warp core, which stops the ship—except, you know, the ship was not travelling at warp in this nebula, so what's the problem? The computer confirms the obvious—that the POV alien is actually Chakotay's katra or whatever.

    Sigh...I barely have the energy to summarise this crap anymore—the aliens will eat the Voyager's crew's brains, Janeway activates the painful sensor sweep which drives the alien out of Tuvok, Chakotay has Neelix move the stones around the medicine wheel, which creates a map they can overlay to plot a course out of the nebula. All of this begs so many logical questions that it actually makes my brain hurt. I feel so bad for the actors who are being asked to read this drivel with such conviction.

    Whatever, the EMH is somehow able to revive Chakotay, they retrieve the core...somehow. Once again, the only saving grace here is the Doctor's amusing line:

    EMH: Needless to say, it was a remarkable procedure. I would consider writing a paper about it if there were a convenient forum in which to publish it.

    Chakotay explains about possessing people and whatnot. Apparently, it was possible for him to fire phasers and eject the warp core and move stones around, but TALKING was not a permitted by the Antelope Women or whatever other plot gods contrived this mess of a story.

    Episode as Functionary : zero stars, 10%

    This episode is a lot like “Time and Again” in that it's mostly an exercise in tedium. The plot is stupid and pointless combining different shades of inanity from “Lonely Among Us” and “Dramatis Personæ.” Unlike in a number of other episodes of this series so far, which have also had stupid plots, virtually no time is set aside for character development. Nor is the theme explored in any depth (something “Time and Again” at least attempted). It's all plot, technobabble and the crew behaving like idiots. I honestly would have preferred the entire episode take place in Janeway's holonovel. At least that was about something...I think.

    Final Score : .5 stars

    Average episode so far. I did not find it as terrible as everyone else seems to, but I was not really in love with it either.


    'EMH: Needless to say, it was a remarkable procedure. I would consider writing a paper about it if there were a convenient forum in which to publish it.'

    I think you did that. lol. You are an insane person, but keep it up.

    Just good enough to not be memorably bad "Trek." Among other things, it committed the sin of being kind of boring.

    And I'm more easily entertained that most.

    I should be finishing off my reviews of season 7 of DS9, but this episode made me break radio silence.

    Because it's bad. So bad that I actually gave up and switched it off.

    Where do you start? The medical mumbo-jumbo that somehow extracts the "energy" from a brain in a way which doesn't instantly kill the victim /and/ is somehow reversible.

    Then there's the bit where Chakotay somehow found time to both bring his ceremonial items aboard Voyager *and* give detailed instructions to Torres, which just happen to cover this eventuality.

    Then there's the whole "nebula" thing - which to be fair, is a fairly standard Star Trek trope. But to quote Wikipedia:

    Most nebulae are of vast size; some are hundreds of light-years in diameter. [...] Although denser than the space surrounding them, most nebulae are far less dense than any vacuum created on Earth – a nebular cloud the size of the Earth would have a total mass of only a few kilograms.

    So, the idea that an alien ship could hide in something which is literally a vacuum is ridiculous. Even if it is a concept Voyager inherited from earlier ST episodes.

    But then, there's the icing on the cake.

    Faced with the fact that there's no evidence as to who caused the ship's course change, the Doctor scans Paris and confirms that there are mysterious patches in his mental timeline, which happen to coincide with when the ship's course was altered.

    So, not only are we expected to believe that there's no video recording on the bridge a or any other form of auditing or logging - but that at the same time, the Doctor was recording Paris's brain waves. Either that, or he has some magical scanning equipment which has a time machine built into it.

    And that's when I bowed out. Because it's all the dumb, and a low point for a series which has already spent most of it's time scraping the bottom of the barrel...


    >I think this could have been a better two-parter allowing for more of the crew paranoia/inter-reaction etc... this did seem rushed at times.

    Agreed and I'll add that this could be said for other episodes such as DS9's 2x23 Crossover, 3x09 Defiant or 4x08 Little Green Men.


    >Tuvok group stunning the entire bridge was funny though and makes me wonder why that setting wasn't used more, like defending the ship from Kazon boarders or maybe defending a Dominion comm relay from advancing Jem'Hadar soldiers...

    I often wondered about this too, I guess it would ruin the suspense and story in most cases.

    @Daniel B

    >It's amazing how many people keep saying this. He's out. He can't take over a body and make it do something it can't normally do - for example, reviving an unconscious person.

    The Organians could revive a body in the Enterprise episode “The Observer Effect”.

    Whatever this technology is that made an entire brain and its mental content able to roam airborne would have helped in "Our Man Bashir" when they were frantically trying to find computer storage for five brain patterns.

    Pretty meh. I was also struck by how very handy that wide-dispersal phaser setting was and I'm curious if we'll ever see it again (I'm annoyed it was just invented for this mediocre episode, but it'd be mildly less aggravating if it came back in some cool way).

    I disagree with Jammer's opinion on the wide beam phaser stun unintentionally being comical. I actually thought it was pretty cool. Many times, the capability of a phaser to shoot a wide beam has been mentioned, but rarely seen.

    I also thought the wide beam phaser was cool, but watching it again it is a bit comical.

    Look at Harry-- he is noticeably slower at reacting to the beam. I guess it took Garrett Wang a while to learn how to do this. In "Time and Again", when the group is thrown back, he is late, and it's really obvious because it's played in slow motion.

    By the way, the phaser wide stun beam was used all the way back in "A Piece of the Action" where the Enterprise stunned a city block.

    Nothing quite compares to the comment thread of this Yoyager Season 1 episode...
    I urge any sad persons desirous of cheering up, to watch Cathexis, and then read through the posts inspired by this 27+ year-old story that most saw as a failure.

    Two choice extracts with my response.

    @Skeptical (Nov. 2, 2014, paragraph 3) "Unfortunately, Janeway did not implement a buddy system (nobody allowed to be alone), which one would think would be the first thing anyone would do. "

    But if crew members stop insisting on being alone all the time, hostile aliens would have almost no chance to succeed and we would have nothing to watch. :)

    @Martin B (Dec. 19, 2015, paragraph 1)
    "Say what you want about this episode, it taught me a valuable lesson; that native American medicine wheels contained magnets, you know, for those times when you feel like hanging it up in your sickbay..."

    LOL. But don't be so sarcastic, it was necessary to concoct the magnet thingy so that Janeway could later have Sick Bay surveillance camera "position 11" (or was it "aspect 16") activated on the opposite wall and pointed at the thing. It's just a shame that the surveillance camera in the turbolift wasn't switched on when Tuvok gave Kes that rather severe hickey.

    It was a great episode all up until the end with the Doctor "re-integrating" Chakotay's consciousness. That part was unnecessary and silly. If he was able to easily take over someone else's body, why would all that effort be required to simply re-enter his own body? Wouldn't just basic medical resuscitation procedures be necessary? What was all that computer memory stuff involved? They act like they solved the mystery of consciousness in episodes like these and then trivially never visit the topic again in other episodes. Someone's soul got detached from their body? Just get some cortical stimulators, neural transceivers, and 50 gigaquads of computer memory. Problem solved! The EMH just made a huge advancement in the fundamental understanding of the nature of human consciousness and you'd still want a little biped as your chief Doctor? LOL

    Also, why don't they use that wide beam phaser setting when dealing with multiple vidians/Kazons trying to take over the ship?

    I've been watching Voyager through from the beginning and either missed a ton of episodes back in the day, or just forgot them.

    This one could have been much better (a common theme for a lot of 90s Trek - SG1 was a much better-written and better-acted show of the same era) but I enjoyed it.

    The first season of Voyager has been much, much stronger than popular opinion would have us believe. It feels like classic TNG-style Trek at this point, something it will lose at some point as it moves to being more about action and less about exploration.

    Certainly not the worst episode of Voyager I've ever seen. I actually enjoyed it. But the opening Janeway scene was pretty much just filler.

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