Star Trek: Voyager


3 stars.

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

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

— Doctor and Neelix

Review Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous episode: Time and Again
Next episode: The Cloud

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Comment Section

90 comments on this post

    Very bad episode, I sat and wished Neelix would just die thrughout it all

    Agree with above poster about Neelix. It's interesting to watch Kes this season. She was incredibly green as an actress, but revealed enormous potential (along with serious missteps as in 'Time and Again').

    Considering the restorations the Doctor was able to do in other shows (Threshhold comes to mind immediately), it's hard to believe that making Kes's lung workable for Neelix was beyond his abilities.

    I'm watching Voyager through for the first time and (aside from laughing out loud when Nelix's LUNGS - of all things - were stolen) I found it utterly stupid that Janeway just "scolded" the Vidians here... these were organ-harvesting thieves who openly attacked her crew, yet her idea of a suitable reaction is to warn them "never do it again"!? This isn't the warm and fuzzy Alpha Quadrant... she should have taken back Nelix's lungs (regardless of who was now using them) and THEN sent the other Vidian off with her warning of zero tolerance... or else just spaced them both. I wonder if Lt. Durst might agree with me?

    I disagree with you Banjo. I think Janeway made the most moral decision, and it was nice to see the "villains" show compassion for once, it makes them a much more interesting species than just another Hard-headed alien of the week.

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

    Not a bad episode. I did like how the writers, through the EMH, showed how ridiculous it was to have Paris acting as helmsman and medic (pick a department!). It did open up a great opportunity for Kes and showed the start of her very supportive relationship with the EMH. Had Kes stayed on, I would've bet Kes would date the Doctor after she broke up with Neelix. She really took to him faster than anyone else in the crew.

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

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

    Overall, not bad and it does make the Vidiians seem more of a threat than the Kazon.


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

    Humans need only one lung to survive. And apparently Talaxians and Ocampans need only one lung to survive. Maybe Vidiians need two.

    This was kind of an OK episode -- new aliens we hadn't seen before, with interesting technology we hadn't seen before, with interesting motives. And a cast member in a unique kind of peril. And just when you think the aliens are pure evil as well as majorly fugly, they turn out to be cultured, erudite, sorta-compassionate people who, amazingly, have British accents. There's one big problem, though: The crew member who was in peril should have someone we cared about.

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

    Also, that asteroid sure looked a lot like the one in TNG "The Pegasus."

    I liked this one. The aliens were creepy and slightly sympathetic. My only real complaints about this episode are this:

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

    2) Neelix lived. To be fair, I find Neelix slightly less annoying than 1st season TNG Wesley Crusher. But, since 1st season Wesley Crusher basically makes me want to put my fist through my laptop, that's not saying much.

    Now I may have missed them talking about it, but since Kes only lives like 9 years, didn't they just prolong his death?

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

    And why the hate I love Neelix! He always says the right thing to get a laugh!

    @Mac I don't understand why you think the lung would only 'live' 9 years, just because it came from a species whose average lifespan was 9 years.

    @Chris - We only live as long as our bodies do, its not our brain that dies first it's our organs that fail. So yes, her lungs would only have a lifespan similar to that of her species as a whole.

    @Graham - you cannot presume consistent failure rates across all organs of an alien system. some other vital organ may have a 9 years before wearing out while the lungs have potential to last longer.

    Every time someone uses the transporter they are deconstructed and then reassembled. Why couldn't they just transport him using his transporter pattern from before he got delunged?

    Jay, the "logic" of the transporter creates real problems for storytelling. It certainly makes sense that you could just use the transporter to create new lungs, even an entirely new replacement body. Sick bay should really just have been a specialized transporter room.

    Like Banjo, I also hated that VOY didn't have the guts to take the lungs back and let the Vidian die. The Vidians' actions take them beyond sympathetic. They would inevitably have to murder somebody else once those lungs were used up anyways! How many people would the average Vidian have to kill to maintain a normal lifespan? Why are their lives worth more than others? The safe, made for TV resolution is a mockery of morality. Even if they couldn't have gotten the lungs back, they should really have killed both of them, just to protect their future victims.

    I have to say, I agree with Banjo and Michael. While I can see where Janeway was coming from, I had no sympathy for the aliens. Yes, it was sad that they were dying of a disease. But I lost sympathy the minute I learned that they were killing others to preserve themselves. I'm sorry, but murder is murder. They're no more special than anyone else, so why is it they feel justified in killing someone else for their own selfish desire to keep living.

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

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

    Now, we've got this dying species that's most likely going to continue killing other people in order to stay alive.

    @ Michael...yes, it the transporter does cause storytelling probelms, and I try to dismiss it, but sometimes I can't. Most notably, back in TNG's "Ethics", when there was this big to-do about how revolutionary replicating a new spinal cord for Worf was, but all I could think was...the transporter does this every time it's used!

    Nice reviews on this site. I had seen some of the DS9 ones while watching the series on netflix. Decided to do a rewatch of voyager while i read along for fun.

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

    The one thing I didn't understand was how the dilithium trap worked. If they faked the presence of the crystals, then why would anyone tell others to come to the asteroid?(unless they have found someone to spread the rumor). Ideally, there would be real dilithium and the vidiians use their secret hideout in the asteriod to abduct the occasional miner. they'd be puzzled by the abductions, but people would still come back as long as they need dilithium.

    Ugh, the "relationship" between Kes and Neelix in these early episodes is creepy as all hell. Only abusive men are as jealous and posessive as Neelix is, and like him, they don't let the woman have male friends.

    To store the transporter pattern of a person takes an enormous amount of computer memory. DS9 had an episode called "Our Man Bashir" where Security Officer Michael Eddington had to dump virtually all the computer memory on Deep Space Nine to store the patterns for 5 people. Given that fact, I'd say that a transporter system cannot store all the information for the entire crew. That's why the transporter isn't frequently used to heal crew members or bring people back from the dead.

    On the other hand, TNG and the other series used the transporter plenty of times to restore people from various condition, like Doctor Pulaski in "Unnatural Selection" (albeit with the help of a hair follicle).

    I feel so late to this party...

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

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

    For that, I think it deserves half a star less, though I did enjoy the crew interactions, as annoying as Neelix can be, as well as the new, very unique, aliens. I hope we see them again and some of Janeway's "deadliest force" is used.

    @ Shane

    Perhaps, but it was stated way back in TNG's S2 "Unnatural Selection" that traces can be "stored", because if Pulaski had used the transporter, they implied that they could have restored her from that.

    Finally - an episode of Voyager that I could enjoy!

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

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

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

    I don't agree that not taking the lungs back was the right thing to do. Why should Neelix die just because someone stole his lungs? Mere possession doesn't override all other concerns. Stealing Neelix's lungs is murder, taking them back is not.

    I liked having members of the crew cross-train in other tasks. It's perfectly reasonable that without being able to get replacement crew, people are going to have to learn to do more than one thing.

    I'm surprised Trek fans are confused about Janeway's decision.

    In philosophy, it's called the Trolley Problem, a famous ethical dilemma. She did the ethical thing. Good sequence.

    Liberal la-la land again. When a species has near murdered of your own crew man and stolen his lungs (lol), your captain would not be moralizing. In fact, it would be morally correct to retake those lungs.

    But, of course, in liberal la-la land... Janeway simply says they can leave.

    She should have taken the lungs. Who would want to serve under a captain that won't even get your lungs back for you? Ethical or not, it was ridiculous. Not even Picard would have allowed it. Janeway's warning at the end was meaningless.

    Another problem I have is that we barely know neelix at this point and we're already having organs stolen. Kind of a far limb to go out on for an episode plot.

    Aren't there some difficulties in just assuming Janeway can take the lungs back?

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

    I would have liked a tougher resolution. The resolution, as we got it was good for the Vidiian characterization but less good for Janeway.

    The first truly good episode of Voyager. Makes me wonder why they couldn't have this kind of quality writing from the start. Great characterization, plotting, and moral grey areas are the standouts. Adding in the rather neat cat and mouse element inside the asteroid was inspired. Also, the new potential villains are ripe with great storytelling opportunities. In this one episode they seem to have more logical motive for the what and the why and are more multi-faceted than, unfortunately, the will-become-the-norm, cut-n-paste alien of the week.

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

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

    3.5 stars.

    Trent, if it is the Trolley Problem, it would have to be the "Fat Villain" variant, in which the choice is between innocent victims versus those responsible for (and here profiting from) endangering them.

    DLPB, I don't see what "liberal" has to do with it. Liberalism typically advocates for the victimized, which isn't what Janeway or this episode do.

    I wanted to like this episode more than I actually did. On the positive side, we finally got to see another civilization in the Delta Quadrant, and it was a really interesting one. We haven't seen anyone like the Vidiians before, and they provide a wealth of possibilities (and I'm glad we'll see them again). They're a desperate race driven to desperate measures, but are their measures going too far? (Answer: yes) We can have sympathy for them but also fear them and, more importantly, defy them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    So it was probably the best episode to date, but I don't think it's quite complete. At the very least, though, it was the first evidence that the Delta Quadrant was going to be different.

    With so many aliens in trek that are just blah... I've got to give credit where credit is due.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Some strong stuff in here. Interesting concept, some new and rounded villains in the Vidians, a couple of real moral dilemmas, and a real highlight in some sparkling dialogue throughout. The Doctor really is a standout already.

    On the downside, a lot of wandering around in dark caverns and it doesn't exactly rattle along, but nevertheless a hint of what the series might be capable of. 3 stars.

    Well that was creepy. I wonder why nobody ever uses transporters as a weapon. A lot of Trek problems could be solved by just beaming somebody's brain into space...

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

    All in all, I kind of liked the eeriness of this episode. The only let down was that Neelix survived.

    Although scantily clad women stealing Tuvoks brain might have made for an interesting episode...

    @Shane in that DS9 episode most of the station memory was used to store their "neural patterns". Their bodies fit nicely in holodeck memory. I know that still doesn't make logical sense for a zillion reasons, but in Trek world, their physical bodies seem storable in a reasonable amount of memory.

    A silly episode that turned me off the show for years. Janeway's gutlessness in dealing with the aliens was laughable. Imagine Kirk in the same situation:

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

    ALIEN: But I will die with out these lungs!

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

    ALIEN: But...

    KIRK: Phasers on stun!

    Picard or Sisko might've added, "And we invented this nifty holographic lung for you. You're welcome to keep it."

    Na, Kirk would have said....

    You should have thought of that before you committed that crime. You could have come to us and asked for help. We would have given it. Instead, you invaded my ship, attacked my crew, and made Neelix an invalid. Hey, nice job! I have some Rumolan Ale....

    Kirk 2009 would've forced them to listen to the song "Sabotage" until they groveled.

    When Neelix is transported his matter is being disintegrated and then being put together again. But then again his lung cant be replicated. I dont understand that.

    No, not the Vidiians! I care not about plot and characterisation....the creepiness factor is just too gross. "Phage" is derived from the ancient Greek root of the verb "to eat". It's just beyond silly to think a disease that eats their cellular structures physically can be overcome by grafting harvested organs from aliens. Yikes. Total turn off.

    "It's just beyond silly to think a disease that eats their cellular structures physically can be overcome by grafting harvested organs from aliens. Yikes. Total turn off."

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

    To quote Alf, I kill me.

    This is my first time watching Voyager. Four episodes in, and I'd give this one a 3 out of 5 for the characterizations. I'm really liking the Doctor as a character.

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

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

    Still, it was a solid episode if not examined too closely.

    While the episode was interesting, all of the problems that arose within the episode were problems that were easily solveable using the technology of those involved. There is no reason why the Doctor wouldn't replicate lungs if he could make holo lungs. There is no reason why the Doctor couldn't grow new lungs for Neelix. There is no reason why the Collectors couldn't grow their own lungs or use artificial lungs, they had absolutely no need for Neelix's lungs.

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

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

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

    If this horrendous disease has been ravaging the population, how has the population managed to produce multiple generations? How do they breed if this disease ravages their internal organs? Does it magically leave their reproductive organs alone? How do the members of the species manage to live long enough to breed? In later episodes it is revealed that the disease actually only affects a few members of their species but the rest of the population is healthy. So why don't they just kill every person who becomes infected in order to keep the disease from spreading? There can be no justification for the organ harvest because the species as a whole isn't dying out, only the few members with the disease are dying. And we have to ask why the species doesn't simply grow new organs or use implants. Their level of technology is supposed to be amazing but apparently they never actually use it, they prefer killing people and stealing organs they don't really need instead.

    o goody, a hospital episode (yawn) The worst Trek episodes are the ones where we wait for one of the cast to get better. How many times did Jadzia almosy die on DS9? Too many to bother counting. Here we have this weird creature that no one could possibly care about and we're supposed to care if it gets better

    I have to agree with some of the commenters - Janeway's going to let an organ-thief go scot-free after a violent assault that leaves the victim immobile for the rest of his life? Ummmm, no.

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

    Good episodes with some promising character development

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Good episodes, but not a great one.
    Agree on 3 (***) stars

    I like this episode. Voyager doesn't do many things better than TNG, but one of them is pulling off simple space adventure stories like this. In TNG Phage would've most likely been a bad episode but here it's pretty fun.

    I do think it was a missed opportunity to not have Janeway bargain with the Vidiians. She knows they have more advanced medical technology and were capable of using Neelix's lungs for themselves, so she could've guessed they'd be able to save him. It'd show Janeway as a shrewd captain playing under a new rulebook. Naturally there's then a scene with Tuvok where she admits she'd have let them go regardless. We'd get the same Janeway idealism, just less frustrating.

    Nice episode, but if the aliens could adept Kes's lungs, then why not replicate lungs (something stated as possible, right?) and adept those?

    Ah, the Vidiians. What a great concept. We're talking about horrific organ-harvesters, but not out of sadism or even ideology, but pure survival. An individual with a disease that causes him to wither will probably let himself die rather than harm another (particularly if the weight of expectations of his fellow people are on him), but what of an entire civilization, species? I think it's the best *idea* for a new (recurring) species that Voyager produced, though I'm not commenting on the execution in the coming episodes (I don't really remember).

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

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

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

    Anyway. Let's say 2.5 stars.

    Neelix deserved to have his lungs taken. He disobeyed Chakotay's orders to come back several times.

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

    The doc slapping Paris was pretty funny.

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

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

    2 stars from me

    It's so weird. The first time I watched Voyager it became my favorite Trek series. I mean it had some (major) flaws, but I loved the characters, loved the actors, and Picardo may be my all time favorite Doctor. Or Phlox. Or Doc. I don't know!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Maybe I'll go watch Parks and Rec reruns instead.
    At least for a minute.


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


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

    Oh well. I will enjoy Doc and some of the other character interactions. :)
    I enjoyed Enterprise the first time I watched it (probably mostly because of Phlox and the ever fabulous Jeffrey Combs.) Wonder how I will feel about it now...

    Funny, while I love all the trek series, I seem to enjoy re-watching Voyager the most.


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

    I still love Enterprise, I've just rewatched it all on DVD and apart from a few minor quibbles I had I really enjoyed it, so you never know you might still like it. If they had continued beyond season 4 Shran/Combs was going to join the crew, I'm still sulking that never happened...

    I kept wondering why they didn't do what the guy in Alien wondered: "Why don't they freeze Neelix?" We've of course seen various forms of suspended animation and more going all the way back to at least Space Seed.

    Of course had it been mentioned, it would have been summarily shot down with a line of technobabble.

    As mentioned above, with transporter technology, the main device in every sickbay really should essentially be a "medical transporter". Pretty much something like the healing chambers from the film "Elysium".

    Solid 3 stars. While the first season was uneven it more than any other season was on the right track much Moreso than seasons 2 or 3

    A lot of the appeal for me of this episode is due to the atmosphere throughout/-the creepy asteroid sequences, organ swiping, the Vidiians themselves with their grotesque appearance and black outfits that evoke a mortician apron

    My favorite scene which I originally back in the day played over and over on my VHS taping of this outing. Janeway reaming the Vidiians.

    That was a stellar scene. Pure gold. From janeway’s pacing back n forth physically barely able to control her outrage, janeway wagging her finger at the duo, her entire speech ending with her dire threat that “if I ever encounter your kind again I will do whatever is necessary to protect my people from this phage. Any aggressive action against this ship or it’s crew will be met with the deadliest force”. Fantastic

    I also quite enjoyed the teaser addressing the relevant topic of locating dilithium and belannas unorthodox refinery idea. Then the intro of a galley with the whole janeway and Neelix give and take. Was solid. Also liked the hint of the Doctor been programmed with McCoy with his “I’m a doctor not a...”

    I was a little less impressed with the Neelix stuff simply because I was not ever even back then a Neelix fan and could care less about his jealous strike. The scenes on paoer hit all the rught notes just Neelix poor choice for that part of the story

    I just saw this and the first thing I thought was, "what, they don't have heart/lung machines in the 24th century?" Or for that matter, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation - research on that apparently was in 1956. I was also surprised that the Doctor basically banned Kes from the sickbay "except for visiting hours" - given that he should know (from his encyclopedic knowledge if nothing else) that Neelix's psychological health was going to get frayed, to say the least.

    Good episode here that helps build up Kes, the Doctor, Janeway, Neelix -- it's quiet and compassionate, I'd say.

    Can't help thinking of "Spock's Brain" given how Neelix's lungs were expertly removed and the chase Voyager goes on following an ion trail -- fortunately the aliens they run into are much more interesting and perform the surgery themselves! Quite the makeup on the organ thieves -- really makes them look like they've been suffering from a disease.

    Neelix is good as a patient and gives an idea of how miserable it is to be in a vegetative state. Kes, who had started out to be mysterious and annoying, is better here with her devotion, ultimately giving 1 of her lungs. She has a bit of an impact on grumpy Doc, who is quite a character and finally gets some recognition for his holographic lungs but then gets shot down by the aliens given their advanced medical knowledge.

    Best is the good example of Janeway's principles -- she refuses to kill one of the aliens to get Neelix's lungs back, but threatens them with deadly force should they ever try to attack again. Good acting from Mulgrew here with the grim nature of the situation -- not having authorities to turn the thieves over to etc. She was willing to just let them go and have Neelix remain immobile for the rest of his life.

    A strong 2.5 stars for "Phage" - a display of elevated ethics / high moral standards from Janeway here and we get a good understanding of Kes, who is very subdued but seriously devoted to Neelix. She also seems to know the right things to say to Doc -- the character seems to have potential. "Phage" does better as an introductory VOY episode than the "Parallax" and "Time and Again".

    It ASTOUNDS me how many of you are saying Janeway should have committed MURDER to get the lungs back! This is the problem with today's callous, and retaliatory society! Of course what the Vidiians did was wrong, but that does not mean that the Voyager crew (or Janeway) should have done something just as wrong!

    Oh, and Jammer, it was Chakotay who had the phaser idea, not Tuvok.

    As far as the Vidiians not giving back 1 lung, if you look at these people, they look as bad or worse than the Son'a from Insurrection. I think their bodies are in such decay that even grafting both lungs is a temporary stopgap-I don't see one healthy lung being enough to sustain them.

    Also, I don't feel the dilithium was a trap exactly-the engine residue made it appear that the cave was full of it, but I don't recall them ever saying it was intentional. (Or maybe I just missed that)

    I actually wonder if the doctor can replicate a human lung-I think he can. So, perhaps it would have made more sense for a human to have donated a lung that the doc could have replaced later (I assume the Ocampa race is also harder for the doctor to work on as he has no knowledge/experience of them as he would with Federation races)

    Why was no one worried about contagion worth the Phage? Wouldn't Janeway and the away team, and the aliens, all been in quarantine? They're standing there, being told of this horrid, horrid, contagious among that species, disease, and no one bothers to worry? It bugged me.

    Other than that, a decent ep.

    Ah, the mind-bending inconsistencies of Voyager and Captain Janeway in particular!
    Phage: Cripple our crewman for life and steal his lungs? No problem, you're free to go!
    Tuvix: Sentient by-product of an accident that fused two crewmembers into one through no fault of your own? Into the disintegration chamber with you, freak!

    What a joke this show is.

    Teaser : **.5, 5%

    Janeway's log informs us that, after two weeks of being completely useless as a guide, Neelix has pointed the Voyager towards a rogue planetoid rich in dilithium deposits, which should help with their power shortages as discussed in “Parallax.” Speaking of which, B'Elanna has already begun work improvising a refining facility on the ship. Janeway is impressed as she enters her private dining room for a field ration breakfast. She is greeted by billowing clouds of smoke in what Neelix has converted to a makeshift galley. Neelix took it quite upon himself to make this change to the ship. I realise Neelix is being a bit presumptuous here—and he hasn't exactly impressed thus far in the series—but Janeway's attitude, irately getting in his way and complaining about the loss of her private space, comes across as really elitist. Before this can go any further, the pair are summoned to the bridge. Neelix leaves a dopey-looking ensign in charge of the food and, well, it wouldn't surprise me if deck 2 and its inhabitants aren't burnt to a crisp after the titles.

    On the bridge, the planetoid definitely shows signs of dilithium, as Neelix promised. So, Janeway sends Chakotay to survey it. He brings along Ensign Kim, but Neelix also wants a spot on the away team. Like she's dealing with an overzealous middle-schooler, Janeway gives her begrudging blessing and saddles Chakotay with the nuisance. After all, if he accidentally dies, Janeway gets her dining room back.

    On the planetoid, Chakotay has the trio split up and take readings, warning them not to wander off too far. One of the cave walls is revealed to be holographic and we get a glimpse of a shadowy alien.

    Act 1 : ***, 17%

    The away still read dilithium signatures but can't find an ounce of ore. Neelix discovers a cavern and some odd organic readings. Ethan Philips, now that he isn't tasked with extroverted buffoonery, delivers on the horror movie vibe of this situation. Chakotay has ordered Neelix to return to the rendezvous point a couple of times, but Neelix' curiosity or stubbornness or whatever causes him to ignore the order. Yeah, it's frustrating, but, remember, this guy had been living alone in a space junkyard for god knows how long before this. Expecting him to obey Starfleet protocol at this point is kind of stupid. The holographic wall vanishes, revealing a constructed tunnel and a alien catches him off-guard before shooting him in the chest. When Chakotay and Kim arrive, the wall has rematerialised and Neelix is writhing silently on the ground. They're beamed to sickbay and the EMH quickly sedates and stabilises him, for the moment, revealing that his lungs have been completely removed—transported out of his body somehow. The EMH tells Janeway that his only immediate hope of survival would be the retrieval of his own lungs as Neelix' Talaxian physiology is too complex to replicate. As the EMH searches for options, Paris tries...and fails to be a nurse.

    The Doctor tells Kes that a donated organ from her won't work and paces, trying to come up with some way of saving Neelix' life. He hits on the novel idea of using the sickbay emitters to create holographic lungs, which should be possible, despite the organs' complexity. Paris' skepticism over their efficacy (he's proven to be such a medical expert, after all, hasn't he?) is met with a bitch slap from the EMH. Unlike Sisko's usually out-of-place punches on DS9, this kind of mild violence is delivered with sardonic wit and a bit of a wink at the audience, making all the difference. Anyway, Kes insists on understanding the risks of this experimental procedure. The Doctor explains that Neelix will have to be held motionless for ever in order for the holo-lungs to function, a grim prospect for anyone, let alone an extraverted busybody like Neelix. Paris offers a bit of comfort and Kes consents to the procedure.

    Janeway and an armed away team return to the planetoid and scan the area. Using their phasers, they're able to penetrate the holographic wall and enter the alien tunnels. Eventually, they discover a laboratory, which actually turns out to be the source of the dilithium signatures. The lab is filled creepy crawly things, including several harvested organs—but no Talaxian lungs. They detect a lifesign not far off and chase the signature to the shadowy alien from before. Tuvok shoots him, but not powerfully enough to more than daze the man, before he erects another holographic wall and transporting to a ship which warps away. Janeway and co. return to the Voyager and engage pursuit.

    Meanwhile, the EMH and Paris have completed the experimental programme and materialise the holographic lungs in time to save Neelix' life.

    Act 2 : ***, 17%

    Neelix, now conscious, gets the bad news from the doctor, who has absolutely no skills for mitigating the horror of his impending existence. A glimmer of Neelix' effusive personality peaks through his terror as he begins criticising the sickbay décor. There's that charm. In general, the Doctor and Neelix make for an effectively humorous back and forth. Paris is summoned to the bridge and makes sure to rest his hand on Kes' shoulder before exiting. Kes is oblivious to the gesture, bt Neelix immediately recognises the behaviour for what it is. Paris, probably on instinct, is flirting with Kes. Neelix naturally feels extremely vulnerable, and I can understand his resentment:

    NEELIX: It's not you I'm worried about. It's him. He's just one big hormone walking around the ship.

    Yep, pretty much. Kes, for her part, recognises that Neelix is lashing out in fear more than anything else, and promises to stay by his side.

    On the bridge, Tuvok and Torres report their findings from the alien weapon they recovered on the planetoid. It seems as though this alien species as developed medical technology specifically-designed for organ-harvesting. pretty horrifying to contemplate. They Voyager tracks the alien vessel to an artificial asteroid. And there's a small opening a bit wider than the Voyager herself:

    TUVOK: Captain, may I suggest you consider carefully what you are about to do.
    JANEWAY: How do you know what I'm about to do?
    TUVOK: I could describe to you in detail the psychological observations I have made about you over the past four years which lead me to conclude you are about to take this ship inside the asteroid. But suffice it to say, I know you quite well.
    JANEWAY: One of these days I'm going to surprise you, Tuvok, but not today.

    This is a nice and effectively light-hearted character moment for these two, even as Janeway behaves a bit recklessly in taking the ship into the asteroid. Compare this to “The Pegasus,” where Picard filed a formal complaint over a similar action taken by Pressman.

    Act 3 : ***.5, 17%

    Kes has decorated the sickbay to make Neelix feel more comfortable, and the EMH doesn't exactly offer compelling company.

    NEELIX: I can't see you over there. I feel like I'm all alone.
    EMH: You are all alone. I'm a holographic projection. A projection with a lot of work to do, I might add.

    Neelix starts to get existential, with the Doctor able to offer little more than quippy remarks and irritated impatient replies to the poor man. He demands to be released from the restraining field—even though that would kill him. Neelix' emotional volatility stresses the EMH out, realising he doesn't have the skills to deal with the emotional components of medical drama. The only solution which occurs to him when Neelix starts to outright panic and hyperventilate is the off-button hypospray. Grim. Of note is the music in this scene which is positively chilling.

    The centre of the artificial asteroid, meanwhile, is revealed to be a hall of mirrors—both to the naked eye and sensors. Like the holographic tunnels, these aliens have clearly made an effort evade angry victims of their harvesting.

    The EMH brings Kes into the sickbay to be present when Neelix regains consciousness. She recognises the stress the Doctor is under.

    EMH: First they tell me there's no doctor, so I have to be on call twenty four hours a day. And then they tell me there are no nurses so I have no one to assist me.
    KES: I thought Tom Paris was assigned to you.
    EMH: Like I said, no one to assist me.

    Zing. Well, sarcasm is only going to take things so far. The Doctor is quite sincerely worried about his inability to provide psychological counselling, and moreover, to exceed the limits of his programme which was never designed to take on the complete duties of a CMO. The Doctor can triage better than any humanoid doctor in the fleet, we surmise, but dealing with actual *care* of his patients? That's another matter. Kes remarks that, given no alternative, he will simply have to learn these new skills just like any other Doctor would.

    In Engineering, Bajoran Ja-Rule, now moved to a gold uniform, detects a power drain. Kim confirms that something in the chamber is responsible for the effect. Janeway wants to shoot the thing, but the mirrors would make that too dangerous to try. Chakotay hits on the idea of using the phaser, set on low yield, like a search light to ferret out the real alien vessel from its reflections. This makes for a nifty visual image and, more to the point, it works! Janeway has the transporter room beam the two alien lifeforms aboard and meets them with security.

    Act 4 : **.5, 17%

    The aliens identify themselves as Vidiians and are revealed to have patches of alien skin grafted all over their bodies, presumably an outward reflection of their collage-like internal physiology. Especially after the incredibly lazy work last week, the makeup is quite impressive here. The lead Vidiian explains their species modus operandi: their people have suffered from a malicious plague for hundreds of years and their only means of combatting the illness, called the Phage, is through organ harvesting. Janeway expresses her sympathy for their plight, but demands the return of Neelix' lungs. Unfortunately, the lungs have already been grafted into one of the Vidiians. Janeway is left with an ethical dilemma, whether to kill the Vidiian to save Neelix or *not* commit murder and let Neelix die. This doesn't quite make sense—thanks to the EMH, Neelix won't *die* if his lungs aren't replace, he'll just be permanently disabled. Anyway, the Vidiian is willing to be executed, expecting to be treated by Janeway the same way as the Vidiians treat other cultures, setting morality aside, albeit distastefully, in order to survive.

    What truly rescues this scene from the expected beats is Mulgrew's performance in which she conveys the extreme frustration felt by Janeway at being stuck between Federation principles and the limits of what she can realistically do to keep her crew safe in the Voyager's isolation. She can't even lock the pair away. They can't afford to house prisoners indefinitely. But committing murder, even in retribution for attempted murder, is a bridge she is unwilling to cross, thankfully. The most she can do is offer a warning that any future encounters with the Vidiians will be with immediate hostility. The Vidiian with Neelix' lungs asks to see the Talaxian, suggesting that maybe their superior medical technology could provide a solution, and Janeway consents.

    Act 5 : ***, 17%

    The tall Vidiian scans Neelix, and then the crew. We get one more great little Robert Picardo bit:

    DERETH: Strange. According to my readings, you are not here.
    EMH: Believe me, I wish I weren't.

    The Vidiian concludes that any of the crew could donate one of their lungs to save Neelix, using their advanced immuno tech to “adapt” the organ to meet Talaxian needs. Kes immediately volunteers, wanting to repay Neelix for rescuing her from her life as a groundhog. Janeway tells Neelix he can keep his galley. In the coda, the EMH informs Kes that she will begin training to be the new nurse, thank god.

    Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

    As in “Parallax,” the plot is rather by the numbers. I can't decide if the hall of mirrors bit was intriguing and clever or just cartoonish, so I'll call it a wash and say it was fine. The Vidiians themselves are definitely interesting. There's a visceral quality to them, both in design and conception, that makes them feel a lot more dangerous than most Trek villains. The Jem'Hadar will strangle you if you encounter them, but the Vidiians will coldly remove your heart if they so desire. The ethical dilemma posed by their actions is alright—I'm not as compelled by something which is driven by an existential crisis like this. Would we behave like this if facing a plague? Maybe, but what does that have to to with anything? It's a plague! The actions of the Borg or the Cardassians are much more interesting because their horrific actions are justified by philosophy, not a state of emergency.

    As seems to be the pattern for this show so far, the real strength comes from the characters. Neelix is still aggravating, but there's a bit more dimension to him at least. Janeway continues to struggle with the implications of adhering the letter of Starfleet protocol as well as the deeper questions of Federation morality. Kes is given a purpose both in the in-Universe sense of being promoted to nurse-in-training, as well as becoming the EMH's, shall we say, sentience advocate. The EMH is richly developed here, using the medical drama to explore the growing potential of his character.

    Further ingratiating me to this episode is the effective use of comedy. Despite the dark situation, the story is littered with truly hysterical dialogue and excellent comedic timing. Certainly the best episode so far.

    Final Score : ***

    Not a bad episode. After the above book report, I do not have much more to offer. :)

    "It's just beyond silly to think a disease that eats their cellular structures physically can be overcome by grafting harvested organs from aliens. Yikes. Total turn off."

    It's not overcome, they have to keep replacing organs as the Phage attacks them - I thought that was the point? As for how the species survived, it's clear they even harvest skin (or so I thought from the patchwork grafts, unless that's the remnants of their skin instead?) so surely they just kept replacing every organ system as it fails.

    The stored organs could have been spare from when they harvested from corpses.

    Janeway made the moral choice, but she should have decided to hold them on principle until a resolution to Neelix' situation was found - she would have shown there would be at least some consequences rather than just allowing them to go free.

    I was really intrigued by the Vidiians and the phage disease.

    I wish they, and not the Klingon-Lite Kazons, had been the primary Season 1 villains. I definitely felt for them and what they were driven to.

    This show is insane haha. His LUNGS were removed.

    Wierd it seemed to be heading towards an ep about how Neelix needs to follow orders but then it dropped that for a Worf-is-paralyzed-lite episode, way too much time spent on that honestly really weird..

    aaaannnyyway. By far the wierdest part is Janeway sparing the new villains and making Ness give a lung. Whut. At least say his lungs got the Phage now.

    Its just a bizarre mashup of TOS fun with TNG ideals... the ghost of TNG haunts this show and does a disservice to it.. the high mindedness of the ideals and years of canon doesn't really jell with the more swashbuckling vibe of this show.

    BUT plenty of time to course-correct.. I hope

    At last, it's time for a new alien species! What wonders will we behold?

    Sadly, there's not much to celebrate.

    The new aliens are a cross betwen Frankenstein and his monster: aliens suffering from an uncurable degenerative disease, which they have addressed by stealing body parts from other species with their advanced medical technology.

    Sorry. What?

    This species has medical technology which is superior to the Federations. In fact, taken in combination with their holographic and shielding technology, they're generally more technologically advanced than the Federation.

    So how are they using this technology? They roam the galaxy, looking for sentient beings they can butcher.

    Instead of, say, implementing cloning technology. As per the TNG episode Up The Long Ladder, Humanity had access to reliable cloning technology at least 300 years ago (i.e. pre-Federation), so why is this species not using their radically more advanced technology to produce cloned body parts?

    Even if they can't use their own DNA due to the plague, they could trade for DNA from other species, and the aforementioned Mariposa colony managed to last nearly 300 years without any infusions of new DNA.

    Alternatively, they could use non-sentient creatures. Or use their advanced technology to replace affected body parts with cybernetic alternatives. Or...

    Basically, there's lots of options for this species to deal with their situation /without/ roaming the quadrant as grave robbers and murderers.

    They're monsters, purely for the sake of being monsters. Cheers, writers!

    Beyond this, the rest of the episode is pretty weak. Neelix sadly doesn't die, despite having his lungs ripped out. The sub-plot about Dereth's regrets rings very hollow, when you consider how he was responsible for Neelix's sudden organ loss - and just left him to die where he fell after said extraction.

    (And we never really get an explanation as to why the Vidiians were sitting inside a camouflaged cave on an empty planet; the only potential explanation I can think of is that the writers were trying to go for some sort of "trapdoor spider" theme, possibly with the dilithium as bait.)

    And when Neelix does get a new lung, it's one of Kes's, thanks to the Vidiian's uber-medical technology. Never mind the fact that with her ten-year lifespan, it'll probably fall apart before the end of the season.

    But the icing on the cake is that Janeway releases the Vidiian's with little more than a finger-wag and a toothless warning. Despite the fact that they're self-confessed murderers and are guaranteed to kill again.

    At this point, I'm starting to lose faith in Voyager's ability to produce a story of any real worth at all...

    Stupid storyline
    Stealing organs from alien people, can't they replicate their own?
    Voyager had some good episodes but not in the first season.

    The fuss in sickbay mostly seems to be Neelix's lack of oxygen and his blood gas numbers, but...shouldn't there have also been massive internal bleeding from Neelix's now dead-ending pulmonary artery? Or are we to assume that the Vidiins "phaser" cauterizes the wound, in which case such damage would seem to create difficulty in putting his, or any lungs back anyways.


    I'm not sure we know enough about Talakian anatomy to know where Neelix's pulmonary artery is or isn't.

    Right, or ethical if you prefer, is whatever is beneficial to you and harmful is whatever is harmful to you. The Vidiians were justified in taking the lungs, it is good that instead of adopting a slave posture and whining about how wrong it is to condemn another to death by taking what you need to survive — as if one should care about the needs of others above themselves — they went out and used their strength and skill to help themselves. Janeway in true Federation fashion did adopt the posture of a slave. Sad.

    What? Lungs? Is this a joke?

    Some amusing moments but mostly painful to watch. What’s going on with the Maquis? Aren’t there tensions? Would discipline remain on a ship 75 years from port?

    This and Time & Again are tng fayre (and bad at that).

    What would be really useful is a bigger picture of where they are and how far they have to go...

    This is poor.

    VOY was still brand new at this point, and I was very excited indeed about the idea of the Vidiians when I read about them in Star Trek monthly ahead of this episode being first broadcast.

    I recall being greatly impressed by this episode at the time and by the depiction of the Vidiians as the embodiment of the terror and danger in this new Trek quadrant we had never seen and were now so lucky (as viewers) to finally be exploring, no matter how unlucky the Voyager crew were to be stuck there. The raison d'etre and methods of the Vidiians suggested VOY was going to be something very different in tone and style, and that the Delta Quadrant would be unremittingly hostile - even for species indigenous to it. The Borg were the product of this quadrant, after all. It was thrilling.

    The Vidiians' highly advanced technology, alongside their shockingly selfish needs must morality (apparently plastered over an older and more ethical civilisation once the Phage took hold), were very well conceived and presented and much more fascinating than the 'discount desert Klingons' of the Kazon (although I will concede that I very much liked the revelation later on that the Kazon had recently liberated themselves from servitude).

    Visually, the Vidiians were also a great achievement - a brilliant mix of horror and pity. Lots of effort that really paid off. Their technology and graphics were also well designed.

    I still find the holographic lungs solution, and even more so the actual moment when Neelix's lungs are removed and he flails about, to be utterly chilling.

    The Vidiians were in typical VOY fashion however ultimately rather under-used, appearing in just eight episodes or so, and then there is the (unreliable?) throwaway aside in 'Think Tank' about the Phage having been cured. Of course, as Voyager moved further from its starting point it is logical enough that various species would recede.

    But 'Phage' and 'Faces' remain two classic VOY episodes, and Trek horror episodes, overall. Recommended.

    Going to add my admiration for the Vidiians, both conceptually and as a visual/make-up achievement. While the Ocampa and Kazon (and Neelix's species) are technically new, they don't feel hugely different than races the crew might've encountered in the Alpha Quadrant. The Vidiians are scary and distinct, and enough pathos has been put into them to make them sympathetic. This was definitely the strongest episode of Voyager since the pilot.

    "Going to add my admiration for the Vidiians"

    Agreed. They did what they had to do in a tough situation. And the lungs were better off in someone other than Neelix.

    I enjoyed the episode, particularly Janeway's ripping the Vidiians a new one, but I must admit that it was somewhat dark. Aliens that resemble the Elephant Man? Organ theft as a way of life? Good g---d, what were the writers smoking back then to want to create such a culture? Normalization of deviance to the max!

    I have to say that it seemed particularly inconsistent to make the Vidiians abject and needy, but to also give them superior medical skill to what was available in the Federation. Two millennia of not getting anywhere with the Phage, but once they start working on Neelix, anything was possible! What is this? It suggests the following script insert:

    VIDIIAN DOCTOR (use creepy Vidiian voice derived from Boris Karloff ) "Now that I've done the lung segmentation and transplant on Neelux and Kes ( in less than 12 seconds I might add), would you like me to do anything else? Might I suggest a tattoo removal Mr. Chakotay? Or how's about a ridge reduction Ms. Torres?"

    To conclude: Neelix might be a bit annoying, but nobody deserves to have their lungs torn out.

    The ending few lines between Neelix and Janeway about tomorrow's breakfast were really very touching, and redeemed it for me. A good outing: 2.5 stars.

    I am rewatching Voyager and this one holds up pretty well. The Vidians really are one of the most memorable and original races introduced in the series. They are both ghoulish and yet sad and pitiful.

    I also enjoyed Ethan Phillips in this episode. It amazes me how Neelix can be a pretty good character when he's not acting the clown. The scene where he starts to hyperventilate while strapped to the gurney in sickbay is pretty intense. Come to think of it, poor Neelix does have alot of dark material in this series doesn't he? He has his lungs ripped from his body, he dies and gets resurrected by Borg drones, he has to confront a war criminal that incinerated his home world...

    I also enjoyed Janeway's ethical dilemma at the end although it did raise some additional questions / nitpicks on my part:

    1) Wouldn't the very first question out of Janeway's mouth on learning about the Phage while standing within spitting distance of the alien plague victim be: "is it contagious"?

    2) These Vidians have medical technology that makes Starfleet's look primitive but for *2,000* years they have been helpless before this disease? Holy shit! Where did this thing come from? How did 100% of their race get infected? I sense there must be a backstory to this!!

    3) I appreciate the ethical dilemma about not wanting to rip the lungs out of this dude's chest - but in all seriousness, would you really *want* them back at this point? Ummm you want some Phage with those lungs?!

    Nelix’s comment at the end of this episode has always bothered me. When Kes offers him her lung he says “No! It’s too dangerous let someone else do it” what a delusional thing to say. He’s been on the ship for 2 weeks at this point and he thinks someone else is just going to casually offer up there long to him. So stupid

    Can someone PLEASE TELL ME HOW this episode is NOT something brand new as Jammer has a new original alien race and a fresh premise that is Voyager specific and a unique and original alien environment innthe asteroid with the lab and hall how is this episode not brand new completely??

    I also think this episode is unfairly bashed, and I thought it was one that raise the interest level and started a string of horrors in the Delta Quadrant.

    But when 21st century science includes CRISPR-gene editing and the like, it is hard to believe that 24th century could not permit technology to replicate his lungs. The wonders that Pholx could achieve make it seem especially silly.

    >Janeway is left with an ethical dilemma, whether to kill the Vidiian to save Neelix or *not* commit murder and let Neelix die. This doesn't quite make sense—thanks to the EMH, Neelix won't *die* if his lungs aren't replace, he'll just be permanently disabled.

    I know this is many years too late but it does make sense because as soon as the power in sick bay goes down, Neelix would die and I'm pretty sure the power in Voyager has gone down a bunch of times through out the show.

    PS: What ever happened to Elliott?

    The whole idea of getting the lungs back from the vidians seemed absurd. If they were biochemically altered to Vidian physiology what makes them think they would be useful to Nelix? I guess they could alter them back or something but whatever. Let's say it was possible to restore the lungs, I find Janeways "moral dilemma" and her final decision to be appalling. She would have no right to make that decision for Nelix, the victim of this, to remain paralyzed for the rest of his life just to put her conscience at ease. The decision whether to kill the vidians or not to get BACK what they TOOK, should have been up to Nelix. He's the victim, it should be his decision. Janeway would have let them go and left Nelix like that for the rest of his life possibly, even though it would have been perfectly fair to get the organs back (the guy would have died anyway without them in the first place). That's lunacy. I am getting sick of this total lack of common sense and empathy in Star Trek, where it's OK to let aliens trample all over them, victimize them, put the ship at risk, risk the CHILDREN on board..etc, for the ludicrous "prime directive" but then for the same reason be OK with letting a planet die of a disease or disaster as to "not interfere" when you could help them. "Prey", "Dear Doctor", "Memorial", "Homeward", and "30 Days", all show this deranged mindset. It's totally the opposite of how space-faring civilizations would act 400 years in the future.

    Caine and Sean, its not "retaliatory" nor is it her place to make that decision for Nelix to keep her sanity. Nelix is the victim and she has no right to impose a lifetime of disability on him just for keep her "moral sanity". That is far more immoral. Taking back what was stolen in the first place would just be restoring things to normal.l, not murder. The purpose isn't to kill the vidian but it would be the side effect. And still not as bad as what they did to Neelix because they would probably still die anyway, and, they'd probably kill him in a humane way instead if just beaming the lungs out of neelix leaving him to suffocate slowly. Christ, you people are like those who say executing a terrorist is just as wrong as killing a newborn. It's absurd simpleton thinking. It would be self-defense and common sense to take the organ back. Janeway was out of her mind in this one, and it's not a surprise that she continued to make those absurd immoral decisions in dozens of more episodes, like "Prey" and "Memorial". If it was her lungs and she was saying that I could understand, but you don't make that decision for someone else. It's like if you think birth control is "immoral" for some bizarre reason no one can force you to take it, but you have no right to stop other people from taking it. Common effin sense.

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