Star Trek: Voyager

“The Swarm”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 9/25/1996
Written by Mike Sussman
Directed by Alexander Singer

"You filled your memory with nonsense."
"It was only during my off-hours."
"You're supposed to be OFF during your off-hours!"

— Zimmerman hologram and the Doctor

Review Text

Nutshell: An uneven mixed bag. Solid, greatly entertaining character work sabotaged by yet another forgettable subplot.

There are moments of "The Swarm" that are so good that we want to look past the problems of the script. But the problem with this episode is that ignoring the flaws ultimately becomes impossible—the show is so uneven and the subplot is so unmotivated and inconsequential that one begins to wonder why the subplot even exists. This is the same problem that plagued last week's "Chute"—a strong main story is undermined by a subplot that proves quite, well, forgettable.

The show opens with the seldom-seen pairing of Torres and Paris in a shuttle for a character-based teaser that is somewhat entertaining. Then the show launches its (sub)plot when some strange aliens beam in and attack Torres and Paris, rendering them unconscious with an energy blast as punishment for inadvertently invading their space.

Torres regains consciousness and pilots the ship back to Voyager and the two are taken to sickbay, where the show introduces its main plot involving the Doctor. Doc begins having memory lapses—at first minor things like forgetting where he laid down a medical device, but later he completely forgets the entire procedure for a crucial operation that Paris needs. (Quick observation: Why did Doc begin the operation on Paris knowing that he didn't remember how to do it? It strikes me as rather silly that he would proceed with such delicate work without first investigating his own problem.)

Torres discovers that Doc's circuitry pathways are degrading, and if they continue to degrade he will be permanently incapacitated. The only known solution is to completely re-initialize his program—meaning he would lose all the memories experienced since his activation nearly two years ago.

This is an interesting idea—one that I had hoped we would see someday. While Doc is a person in many respects, this can't change the fact that he exists because of hardware and software, and that his existence can be threatened if there's a problem with the equipment. Further, this is another good use of the Trekkian Human Question, which asks whether the Doctor has feelings as we know them, and whether the crew can give those feelings priority over practicality, which states that the program should be re-initialized immediately to avoid further damage to the Doctor's system.

So, to look for other options, Torres activates the EMH diagnostic program in the holodeck. The diagnostic is a holographic representation of Doctor Zimmerman (also played by Picardo), the Jupiter-stationed creator of the EMH. Zimmerman is exactly the irascible rascal we figured he would be. Picardo's rendition of the character is skillfully done, not to mention an awful lot of fun. Zimmerman's dialog, mannerisms, and facial expressions are dead-on perfect, and Picardo demonstrates a knack for comic timing as he plays a scene opposite himself that has a fountain of quotable lines.

Zimmerman explains that the EMH has amassed too much "worthless" data in his personality subroutine, which is causing an overload and a breakdown of his other routines. ("Look at all this useless information floating around your buffer. Friendships with the crew, relationships with... women? Do they find you attractive?") He concludes that the only viable option is re-initializing the program. Torres wants another option. Zimmerman has no option to give her.

It's about here that the subplot involving the aliens becomes more urgent (or, perhaps, more distracting). According to Neelix, these aliens are bad news. Those who wander into their territory are usually never heard from again. And it turns out that going around their space (which is huge) would add well over a year to Voyager's trip. Janeway decides to violate Starfleet regulations and trespass in their space, much to Tuvok's (somewhat overstated) ire.

Janeway's decision here bothers me a bit. I don't understand why she is willing to break this rule but wouldn't break other rules in past episodes (even if it meant getting home). "I don't like bullies" doesn't seem like much of an explanation to me; it seems more like a forced line to make Janeway appear more imposing, which I really don't think is necessary. As a result, her decision seems more arbitrary than anything else.

While trying to cross the aliens' space, Voyager encounters a ship floating dead in space which was also foolish enough to wander into this territory. They paid with their lives. Naturally, there is one survivor clinging to life who "tells the tale." Pretty by-the-numbers, not very interesting.

The show continues to switch back and forth between the A/B-stories. The transitions decidedly could have been better, as, for example, one scene features the Voyager in grave danger and then cuts to a humorous dialog between Doc and Kes. With this standard story structure, the script simply gives us a little more information in each succeeding scene—which is fine but also means the B-plot's significance rides almost solely on the conclusion. Unfortunately, the payoff is hardly what I hoped for.

Sure, these aliens—that is, the impressive sight of a thousand of their little ships racing after a fleeing Voyager—are a somewhat fresh idea (which is at least somewhat reassuring of the new season), but what the creators do with them is hardly fresh. Once again, we have a powerful foe with a unique advantage that is defeated with Voyager's usual tactical technobabble. The show's inevitable battle seems to demonstrate that the writers can come up with any alien derivation one could imagine, but can provide them with no dramatic purpose beyond being defeated in a sudden turn of the tables that is hardly imaginative or impressive, but plenty insipid and perfunctory.

And Alexander Singer's direction over this battle scene is clunky and lackluster, despite some decent special effects. The invasion of the bridge by the aliens did nothing to increase my pulse rate, and the suddenness with which the entire situation was resolved was far too swift to feel anything but artificial.

I was extremely grateful, at least, to find out that the Doctor's malfunctions had nothing to do with the alien swarm. (I was half expecting another one of those reset button endings where Voyager leaves the aliens' space and everything returns to normal.) A good decision was made here.

So what about Doc, anyway? His deterioration takes him into a sort of state of Alzheimer's for holograms, which is milked for some genuinely funny moments (the "he's a very sick man" passage, for example, was hilarious). Just as Zimmerman predicted, Doc's intellect descends to that of a parsnip.

His problem is also solved with a rather technical procedure, although it's much more interesting than the angle with the aliens. It's driven more by Zimmerman and Kes' character interaction than by arbitrary workings of shield modulations or phasers.

This solution does not, however, guarantee Doc's memory will be restored, and the ending, in which he indeed does not appear to remember Kes or Torres, had my attention. But I have mixed feelings about the very last shot where Doc begins singing opera from his previous holodeck experiences. There are a number of ways to read this. (I personally didn't care for the vague ending all that much because I don't really like to be toyed with when it comes to character truths.) Some possible implications of this ending include:

  • Doc was merely joking with Kes and Torres. This has about 0.1% likelihood, but I just thought I'd throw it out there because it would be an amusing and atypical approach.
  • Doc's memory will slowly return, the way many TV cases of amnesia resolve themselves. That would be too dramatically easy, but it's possible.
  • Doc will remember some things, but not others. This is the most probable, most plausible, and probably most interesting way to deal with it.
  • Doc will remember nothing (except some opera). It would be a brave choice on the part of the producers, but I certainly would not like it because it would be character stagnation, not character development.

No matter how this is ultimately resolved, I found the setup to be just that—setup without dramatic payoff. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I think the story would've been much more effective if the ending hadn't been left so open.

It's unfortunate that this episode can't get more than an "okay" rating in my book. It really is. I enjoyed much of the Doctor's story. But as long as Voyager's creators give us subplots that go nowhere with weak conclusions that weigh down the main story, I don't see any way that such episodes can transcend overall mediocrity.

Yes, "The Swarm" was fun at times. Yes, it featured an interesting character we figured we would never see. Yes, it had great performances by Robert Picardo. But it didn't add up to enough; it didn't have the payoff or subplot development it needed. It was a potentially great show that shot itself in the foot. It's not a total loss by any means, but (like "The Chute") not nearly what it could've been.

Unfortunate indeed.

Previous episode: The Chute
Next episode: False Profits

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

72 comments on this post

    Jammer leaves out one possibility:
    1) Reset button. Doc's memory issues will never be an issue again. Probably the most annoying possibility, so of course....

    Anyway - solid review of the problems and good aspects of this episode. A Star Trek 'B' story should never be "the ship might be destroyed", and this episode shows what happens when it is; you can't take the danger seriously.

    I do like that we get a Kes episode, however (spoiler warning: I like Kes). In season 3 it appears the writers may finally have come up with things for Kes to do...too late for her character, unfortunately.

    Ah, and we also get the first hints of the Torres/Paris relationship at the beginning.

    This is the break down of the series right here. It's not that voyager was "great" by any means, but this episodes marks its downfall and represents everything I dislike about the show.

    - Janeway violating principals so easily is the first time she has done this in the series... and from this point on, it becomes part of her wishy-washy character. While she was a promising captain, she has lost all credibility at this point. It destroyed her character.

    - Resetting the doctor ruins character development. His relationship with Kes was easily one of the strongest points to his character. You get rid of that... honestly, what is left of him?

    The subplot was particularly bad, but the repercussions of this episode are far worse.

    Terrible episode. Not 2-3 stars.

    I think Janeway's decision to break the rules marks a turning point for her character, because after their experiences in the first two seasons, she has realized that the most important thing to her is to get her crew home. It might have come on a little suddenly, but it makes perfect sense given their situation. But I agree the 'swarm' aliens were not even interesting enough to sustaion half of the episode.

    I love the final scene and I think of all the possible outcomes this one has the greatest emotional impact. The Doctor did mention his "recent memory loss" in the next episode (that is, the next episode to be written), so the second of your options would seem to be the case.

    @ Nic,

    Yeah, it is a differetn Janeway from around here froward. THough I'm probably overreaqding writer intent, I'd say maybe it has something to do with being stranded for weeks on the monkey planet at the end of Season 2 in "Resolutions". After rejoining the crew, she was in a more "back to business" mode....

    I agree with Nic. If anything, Janeway's transition from 'by the book' to 'will do anything to get home' is the true arc of the Voyager story.

    Anyway, I liked this episode but was disappointed that it was never really followed up on.

    For me, the most absurd part of the whole "swarm" story line was the motivation of this alien race. If they had wanted to "feed" on ships straying into their territory, why would they warn the Voyager not to enter? Would a lion warn a zebra not to enter its territory, or just wait for it silently and happily?

    Moreover, what could possibly motivate the swarm race to decide on convoluted borders with a conveniently narrow band which Voyager could cross in 4 hours? Without naturally occuring borders or other empires in the vicinity, the swarm's empire would have taken the shape of a *sphere* - which would have been less convenient for the script, I guess.

    "His circuits and pathways are degrading?" We've got to do a "graft" of another hologram onto his to save him? That's not how computers work, damn it!

    At least the grafting solution somewhat acknowledges the absurdity of having a faulty EMH while the computer can easily create a lifelike simulation of the EMH's creator (or a Cardassian war criminal, or Leonardo, or Einstein, or a sentient lounge singer). If anything, "grafting" is just a roundabout way of describing the obvious solution: junk the faulty EMH and have the computer *simulate* a healthy one. In the end, what's the difference??

    just came across this on memory alpha, thought i'd share:

    Prior to the writing of this episode, actor Robert Picardo suggested a story idea that was similar to how this episode turned out, as both involved a holographic depiction of Lewis Zimmerman. Shortly after completing work on Star Trek: Voyager's second season, Picardo explained, "I would like an exploration of the man that developed my program. I have suggested a story idea to them about this Doc Zimmerman character, and what would make him design the emergency medical hologram program. Specifically, I've suggested that he no longer practices medicine. In doing volunteer work in the most upsetting medical emergency situations, he witnessed something that has rendered him unable to practice anymore, so he creates the holographic doctor program to complete him as a doctor. He doesn't have it anymore to interact directly with patients. In other words, he is a very frightened, and uncommunicative, an unentitled, shy, pathetic man, versus his creation. We would meet them both on the Holodeck. He would be in the ship's memory banks.

    while the swarm story was beyond boring i really like the two docs interaction, along with kes' involvement in the story. i hadn't seen this episode yet when they showed a clip in the star trek 30 years special back in 96, but rather than be spoilerific it was actually quite fun for 14 year old me to see, as if i was seeing something from the future.

    Jammer says it all, really. The Swarm subplot was a good idea, but rushed and ultimately inconsequential.

    I think Janeway's command decisions were also bizzare. At the very least, the episode should have seriously wrestled with her decision to break through Swarm space. There should have been scenes in which she and Tuvok battled with the issue. The crux of the episode should have been the political and ethical implications of breeching swam territory, instead we get run-of-the-mill action sequences.

    One of the worst arcs in Voyager, just a one star from me. I can't get over Janeway's decision making. Violating other people's space before you can talk to them, risking their lives for a shortcut and calling them 'bullies'?

    The Picardo arc deserved the episode to itself.

    Nothing would have happened if Voyager didnt stop to aid the attacked ship inside the alien territory. Even if it got detected by the attached alien ship (doubtful), it would be long gone in warp 9,75.
    When u make a command decision (fly through foreign space), stick to it. Dont remember the next second ur an explorer/humanitarian etc.

    While the B plot feels a bit rushed at the end and ultimately becomes a foregone conclusion; both A and B plots serve up interesting dilemmas in what is an overall worthwhile installment. Some cross-cutting between the two could have benefited from some better editing choices.

    Janeway's decision here to cross into the aliens territory showed growth of character in that she is learning from past experiences since being stuck in the Delta Quadrant. Truth is, the aliens struck first and Voyager continued efforts to communicate despite that. Stopping to examine a damaged vessel and helping the injured alien makes logical sense. One of the best ways to learn about an antagonist species is to, very obviously, glean whatever information you can from other victims. Not to mention it's the humanitarian thing to do, which is a hallmark of ST.

    The A plot revolving around the doctors intermittent memory loss brings forth some of the usual fantastic performances from Picardo in dual roles. An explanation at the end on how his memory may or may not return would have been helpful. I would like to think that it just took time for that part of the programming to establish itself after the grafting of the two matrices took hold.

    All in all, though, quite an enjoyable hour. Nothing groundbreaking to be sure, but pretty solid.

    3 stars.

    The ending bothered me too. Having seen the rest of the series, we know that his memory loss never really comes up again in any meaningful way. It also never happens again, even though he continues to expand his program. I don't think he shows up at all in the next episode, 'False Profits', so maybe he was recovering. (i.e. B'lana or Harry was recovering his memories and downloading them back into his file). It would have been nice if they had mentioned it though. I actually think it would have wrapped things up better if he had winked at Kes and B'lana at the end, and let them know he was joking.

    @Tricia - No argument about the lack of followup, but he DOES mention it again in Future's End.

    "STARLING: Try to be a little more grateful, Doc. The schematics I downloaded from your ship indicate you were stuck in the sickbay twenty four hours a day.

    EMH: I recently suffered a severe programme loss and I'm still in the process of retrieving my memory files, but apparently on a few occasions I have been projected into other locations. Undoubtedly you're using a similar procedure. "

    @ Robert

    I was about to post the sane thing.

    My interpretatiohn was it took a few months for B'Elanna to track down the files and it happened "between" episodes.

    What's interesting about the phrasing "apparently on a few occasions I have been projected into other locations" is that it sounds like some of his memories were not perfectly reintegrated, but instead more uploaded like they were someone else's, but he knows they happened to him.

    I wonder if he remembers the events of important Doc episodes like "Lifesigns" in that manner, or if at some point they were able to integrate them in such a way that he actually remembers them.

    Remember, all of the Doc's initial medical knowledge, and his basic functions like sensory intake and language ability, were all "uploaded" to begin with. *He* never learned English (or Fed-standard, or whatever). *He* never went to medical school. He 'knew' the feel of a hypospray in his hand before he ever touched one.

    If all of that can be integrated to create the basis for his existence in the first place, I'm not sure that there should be any difference when later memories, that he did make for himself, are broken off and then restored.

    The line is intriguing, but I hear it as saying that the process is simply incomplete. He *doesn't* have certain memories but he 'sees' where they should be, recalls references to them in other memories.

    This feels like it could have and should have been better. There were two potentially interesting ideas here, and both got shortchanged by being intercut with each other.

    First of all, about the swarm. This is quite possibly the most blatant and most pathetic case of the writers not caring about characters so far in the series. Janeway's ENTIRE persona up to this point is that she will not sacrifice her principles to get the crew home in a faster or more convenient manner. This has been drilled into our heads over and over and over since the very first episode. So what happens here? She decides to trespass through a region of space controlled by a hostile species after being warned not to. Sovereignty? Respecting other species? Prime Directive? Screw it, I want a shortcut. No explanation given for her sudden change of heart, just a stupid line about them being bullies. Completely and totally out of character for her.

    And completely irrelevant. They could have accidentally stumbled upon the swarm. They could have been responding to a humanitarian crisis. They could have been misinformed as to the swarm's intent. But no, we'll just have Janeway act wildly out of character for no reason whatsoever. Hurray!

    But I feel the need to harp on this issue, because a couple commenters suggested that this is part of Janeway's character arc. Sorry, it doesn't work that way. If you want to have Janeway evolve from principles over expedience to ends justify the means over the course of the series, so be it. But there needs to be reasoning behind it. Either it needs to happen slowly, breaking down her resolve over time, weighing her decisions more and more before sacrificing just a few principles, or else there needs to be something big to justify her change. Neither happened. It was just "Starfleet principles morals Prime Directive, oh hi shortcut!" No agonizing decision, nothing. Just a quick change.

    If they wanted to do that, they should have waited for Scorpion. The Borg are big enough to accept that Janeway might change her perspective. But a little shortcut? A quick line about bullies? Stupid.

    Meanwhile, we have a potentially interesting alien species here. There's not a lot about them that is similar to people we've met previously. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to explore this race in more detail? Perhaps we might want to see what makes them tick? Nah, just show some random action scenes and call it a day. No need to develop them. No need to make them a recurring villain (after all, it sounds like their space is pretty big). Just show some special effects and have the bridge shake like normal, and we're good.

    As for the Doc scenes, they're good, but they should be really, really good. I like a lot of how it went down. The fact that Kes was adamant about saving the Doc's memories and refused to back down is very consistent with her character. The fact that the Doc immediately was fine with wiping his memory was surprising, but in a good way. After all, his primary purpose is to be a Doctor. His lack of concern for his "life" is refreshing and shows that he still is, in fact a program. Some of my favorite Data scenes were the ones that made it clear he wasn't just a funny human, but rather still an artificial life form. That little scene in the beginning is the same.

    So there was a lot of good going on there. Everyone's character seemed to be natural, and everyone's choices seemed a logical extension of what we've seen so far. But the ending was just a bad reset option.

    For one, there was no drama. The Doc was rapidly degrading; he was clearly "dying". This meant that something had to be done, and that there was a clear time limit to when it had to be done. That leads to fake drama sometimes. If I have a life threatening injury and will die within hours unless I try a risky surgery that has a 50% chance of killing me, I will obviously try the surgery. The only drama is seeing how the cosmic author wants my surgery to go: successful or not. But if I have a serious but not immediately life threatening injury? Should I take the risk on the surgery or not? Now the drama depends on my choices, not a cosmic roll of the dice.

    What if, instead of Kes treating the other person, the Doc was needed for another surgery? And what if, instead of an unknown solution, B'Elanna was reasonably confidant she could find a solution but it would take time? Then, drama. Do we force the Doc to dump his memory so that he can perform the surgery, or risk waiting so that B'Elanna can perform her surgery? Would Janeway order the Doc to die? Would Kes be conflicted between her role as a medic and her friendship with the Doc?

    How about another option: the solution isn't to merge Holo-Zimmerman with the Doc, but rather to store the Doc's personality in the Holodeck computer? The holodeck can still be used for simple recreations, but no more advanced holocharacters. Will the crew be willing to give up their primary form of escapism just for a holographic program, most of whom probably don't work with him and thus still don't think of him as sentient? Would this be the way to finally accept him as a person?

    Instead, we got a plotline that was pretty much just on the rails, with no chance for deviation. A "risky" solution is found, but the only risk is that it might not work, not that it involves any sacrifice on anyone's part. Since the Doc is all but dead anyway, a chance of a cure is better than none. So of course it's used.

    And then the cheap reset ending. The Doc apparently doesn't remember anything, then starts singing. And other than a throwaway line a few episodes later, it's never mentioned again.

    I mean, if you're going to press the reset button so blatantly, at least play with it a bit. Have him lose his memories, but still a backup exists in the ship's computer (it just can't be integrated into the program). Then you can have a few episodes of Kes grieving for her friend and trying to teach the Doc to become a person again, while Picardo can have some fun playing him like he did in season 1. Then hit the reset button later with magical new tech. Maybe even in Future's End. Do something rather than an ambiguous scene that is never brought up again.

    Like I said, a lot of lost potential.

    No argument about the lack of followup, but he DOES mention it again in Future's End.


    @Robert, the person you were replying to said "in any meaningful way".

    One thing that bugged me is how Zimmerman said his program would no longer exist after the procedure. Is there some reason that they cannot make copies of programs in the future? I could do it with floppy disks decades ago but for some reason they can't make a backup copy of a holodeck program. *shrug*


    No more needs to be said. Well done.

    This could be the funniest moment yet in Voyager:

    "EMH: What are you doing now?
    TORRES: I want to see if the data corruption is affecting your optical sensors. What did that do?
    EMH: I can't see! I'm blind!
    TORRES: All right.
    EMH: Oh! That is extremely disconcerting. Please don't do it again! Now what are you doing?
    TORRES: Attenuating your forcefield projectors. Doctor, forgive me, but this is very delicate work. Could you please sit over there for a few minutes.
    EMH: How extremely rude. May I remind you that I am, in a way, your patient, who's suffering from an unknown and obviously debilitating condition. I would think you'd be a little more sensitive to my needs.
    TORRES: You are questioning my bedside manner?"

    I about split a rib... :-)

    This episode is palatable because of the performances of Lien and Picardo.

    Nothing more.

    1.5 stars for coming up with a cool new alien. Janeway's decision to enter their space here really got on my nerves, especially right after she said Kirk & CO would get thrown out of the academy now because they don't follow the rules.

    " Janeway's decision to enter their space here really got on my nerves, especially right after she said Kirk & CO would get thrown out of the academy now because they don't follow the rules. "

    @Yanks - Janeway has DID. I really like one of her personalities though!

    Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). It's the current name for multiple personality disorder.

    @ Skeptical:

    I think the events of Resolutions were meant to have had that effect on Janeway. The Janeway that emerged from that is quite different. Whether the writers intended that is another matter...

    This episode is the first to beg the question of why they don't have/dont make/cant make/ backups of the Doctor. Its standard procedure even today and we don't live on a stranded starship where our only hope of not dying from being near Neelix's cooking is a computer program. It can't be a size issue or they wouldn't have been able to have the Zimmerman program or have two EMHs in one sickbay like we've seen a couple of times or have a lifeforms entire knowledge downloaded into the computer. They say several times in the series that the Doctor is irreplaceable and go rescue etc when he goes missing instead of just loading the most recent backup. "Living Witness" then magically shows that they do have a backup module which was never mentioned before when it would have been useful. And apparently the backup module lost on the Kyrian/Vaskan planet wasn't replaced either...

    I know duplicating a character cheapens the character to being no more than a tricorder you replace when you feel like it, but in universe, they should be backing him up everyday and activating a new one whenever the last was lost/stolen. Or even creating Emergency Emergency Medical Hologram copies to solve their staffing shortage! Certainly would have helped Ensign Jehtal if there were two Doctors...

    A curious episode in which what you'd expect to be the B-story becomes the A-story and vice versa. I'd agree that ship threatening incidents shouldn't really be relegated to B-story status, but that's just personal preference.

    The Doctor story is quite good, and pretty well played. I've always enjoyed Kes being a sort of moral compass and it's shown again here. The Swarm - an interesting idea, but less well explored and really shouldn't have been shoe-horned in here. 2.5 stars.

    The trailer for Star Trek Beyond made me think of this episode.

    Main plot:This was a great Doctor episode it really made me sad at the prospect that he might have to start all over again with the crew. Picardo is a really great actor.

    Subplot:So Janeway decides to pass through another species space regardless of what they think about it. and kills tens of thousands of border guards. She probably killed a few thousand more when they reached the other side to. would have been nice to see them capture one alive and convince it to speak with their leaders, or at least some form of communication.

    I like this episode, not the swarm story so much. But the interactions between the doctor and torres and the doctor and zimmerman are great.
    Its fantastic when the doctor grabs zimmermans shoulder and spins him around.

    Three hospital shows in a row. Now I have to watch the hologram doctor convalesce. no thanks.

    I don't like bullies,So i'm going to bully these people into letting us through their space!

    Janeway makes so much more sense if you look at her as a Bipolar psychopath like I know do.

    There may be a trend that the better episodes of Voyager have a minimal amount of Neelix ...

    Especially when in his minimal screentime he's actually competent or at least helpful.

    His holographic skin is a solid surface and could likely pick up bacteria, dirt, etc like human skin would..... he isn't "see through".. he has mass and if you touch him he is solid. He could get dirty if you dumped garbage on him, etc...

    Bacteria that stick to holographic skin woul fall off when he dematerializes. Seems like deactivating and reactivating (1 sec) would be faster than 15 seconds of scrubbing and infinitely more effective . Another example of the "dressed to heal" TV trope, but a minor annoyance when you consider all the other crap the writers on Voyager pull on every episode.

    It would also help if the doctor didn't immediately recontaminate himself by touching everything.

    So the swarm have transporter technology. Despite numerous times being told it didn't exist in the delta quadrant.

    Janeway couldn't spare Torres to reinitialize the doctor. But...there is an entire engineering staff on the ship.

    Stark Trek does that a lot. It makes like the chief engineer is the only one capable of doing anything. It's quite tiresome.

    Agreed with the points that people above made about Janeway's decision to go into Swarm Space. Yes, it could have been done in a way that clarified that this is a matter of Janeway's position evolving. No, I don't think the episode did that. That bullies line doesn't nearly account for how big a change this is in her overall policy. I do like how the camera kept focusing on Tuvok's look of confused disapproval (well, confused for Vulcans anyway). I guess the obvious point to make is that *even if* Janeway is going to disregard regulations, there is no guarantee that they can survive in this mysterious space of the damned, and they only marginally do, and even then there's no guarantee at the end of the episode that they won't just get attacked by another deadly swarm before they make their several-hour trek through this short part of the corridor. Additionally, it seems obvious that if the Swarm or whatever catch up to them, they *will* get into a fight, and that could lead to deaths -- either on Voyager or of the aliens. I'm not really saying Janeway shouldn't defend herself, but isn't it relevant to consider that they will be intruders and may have to, you know, murder these bullies when encroaching into their territory? The episode's end relies on Voyager's shield harmonics being radically altered, then the crew doing nothing about it, which presumably would indicate that they can't change them, so that they are completely helpless against the swarm, until suddenly they can change their shield harmonics in a tech tech way so that if they shoot one ship they all blow up or something, I sort of stopped paying attention. I'm snarking a bit, but wow the tech stuff here just flies by and doesn't make sense anymore.

    Also noteworthy: Janeway's blase attitude when Kes comes onto the bridge to say that they might be losing the EMH is not a good look. I get it; the ship was in danger. But at the same time, the EMH is *the only doctor on the ship*. Even if his individual rights aren't respected, or even if any individual crew member's death would not be worth finding some crew member to attend to them, the ship needs a doctor if they are going to survive, particularly since if they do get boarded by the swarm the casualties will start piling up immediately.

    Anyway, the Doctor stuff is okay -- particular props to the role Kes plays in it as the Doctor's staunchest advocate; this episode seems to play an even stronger role in her character arc (increasing confidence, willingness to stand up to the captain) than in the Doc's. It's moving to see Picardo play the Doctor getting into a point of senility. The idea that the Doctor's program degrades because it is not designed to withstand the amount of data going into the Doctor's "personality" is an interesting one and as a result it makes a lot of sense to address it now. And the solution is not a total cheat, given that the diagnostic program was introduced early in the episode. The contrast between the Doctor and the Zimmerman diagnostic program, wherein the Zimmerman program is essentially who the Doctor started the series as and has slowly moved from, works fairly well. And yet, the ending still feels a little bloodless -- a strange term, I know, to talk about a hologram. By framing the Doctor's program breaking down as a somewhat inevitable result of the realities of the Doctor being run far beyond his initial parameters, the episode seemed to demand a solution that would require some sort of sacrifice or innovation to allow the Doctor to continue growing and changing. Sacrificing the diagnostic program doesn't feel very strong because we haven't seen it before this episode and have no real way or knowing how important it actually is. I guess a slight modification could have been something like what we do see in this episode, but with the added statement that after the graft takes place, and with the diagnostic program destroyed, it will be impossible to restart the Doctor, and so if more problems do develop, the ship will completely lose the Doctor and be without him. The episode sort of gestures to this -- Kes opts for a risky procedure to save her friend and the ship's CMO, over the safer procedure which will save the CMO but not her friend -- but I think having Janeway or someone else besides Kes make that call, and to make clearer that the precariousness will outlast the end of the episode, would have strengthened it. Of course the hard reset at the episode's end doesn't quite work (though I guess someone said that the amnesia here will come up again).

    Maybe 2.5 stars for the Doctor material and a 1 for the Swarm stuff, so I'll go with 2 stars.

    Actually, the Doc stuff mostly did work for me, even if the ending isn't thrilling, so I'll go up to 2.5 stars for the ep overall.

    Why didn't the aliens kill Torres and Paris? They killed everyone on that other ship they find (except for the one conviently left alive to explain what happened of course), and were trying to kill everyone on Voyager later apparently, so why would they leave those two alive? I'm guessing it was sort of a message like 'that's your first and final warning, now leave, or else', since they also later say 'too late, should have listened'.

    Janeway enters their space anyway, when clearly she shouldn't for several reasons. The implicit warning not to, which Janeway promptly ignores. Regulations say she shouldn't, which Janeway also ignores, and obviously this is an incredibly dangerous area as Neelix had warned her, which Janeway ignores. But, yeah, they're somehow bullies so who cares? Let's violate their territory and risk everyone's life to save some time. And when all is said and done ends up having murdered who knows how many of them to do it. But hey, they saved a few months right? Worst captain ever.

    And good thing Voyager happened upon their territory, which covers 'hundreds of sectors', right at the one place that only takes 4 days to cross.

    As far as the Doc scrubbing up before doing the procedure on Paris, of course that's ridiculous on it's face, but especially so, considering all he ever does is wave magic wands in people's general direction anyway.

    Kes begging them to try to save the Doc is silly as well, because of course they would have tried to do that in the first place, not jump automatically to 'reset him'. And if they had an EMH diagnostic program, why wouldn't they do that immediately instead of debating things, then having Torres doing a bunch of tests and putzing around for who knows how long?

    And I also find it very frustrating that there is no way to copy a computer program in the future for some reason. Using the diagnostic matrix to fix the Doc will destroy it forever. Why? Ugh.

    The Doc's program uses 50 million gigaquads, so adding 15 thousand gigaquads to it wouldn't seem like it would be that big of a deal. That's only a .03% increase in size. But who knows with gigaquads, I suppose.

    At the end the aliens are trying to capture the ship, and their big plan is to beam one single guy over, and get him shot, then beam one more over, and get him shot, then beam one more single guy over, and have him shot. Great plan aliens! Next time beam like 100 guys at once maybe, heck, even 5 at once probably would have done it.

    So yeah. A pretty lame episode. The Doc plot gets a 2 and the swarm plot gets a 1.

    1 1/2 stars overall from me.

    Forgot to mention the bridge crewman who died too. So having a person die, and a bunch of aliens die, is totally worth getting home a little sooner. Great job Janeway!

    What the hell, Janeway?

    So they violate the prime directive by interfering. They had a warning and obviously understood it, chose to ignore it, tried to sneak through alien space without making sure the aliens knew they meant no harm and ended up killing dozens of people who probably thought they were protecting their home?

    Think of it from the alien's perspective. They gave a warning, then they see voyager, a ship with advanced weaponry, sneaking past their defences heading deeper into their territory at high speed. They don't know if voyager is peaceful. Janeway made no attempt to make sure their message and intentions was clear and understood.

    How would the federation react if they told a romulan warbird not to enter its space, then found it cloaked and heading at high speed into the middle of federation space?

    Janeway is completely in the wrong here and committed a crime by killing those aliens who were defending their home.

    Really enjoyed this episode with its 2 subplots, although they were quite different in nature and completely unrelated. The ending is quite fortunate on both counts: re-initializing Doc with Dr. Zimmerman's program and Voyager's technobabble to disable the swarm. While the episode has a weird structure (sometimes odd switches between the subplots), it was consistently entertaining.

    The swarm is a pretty cool menace, good concept here. Finding the freighter captain explaining what happened to his ship -- reminded me of Decker on the Constellation after they had met the Doomsday Machine. This reinforces the swarm's menace. The problem is the swarm does everything right to start destroying Voyager and so it seems a tad farfetched and convenient that Kim and Janeway whip up some technobabble BS to destroy the swarm so quickly.

    What's more intriguing is Janeway decides to abandon Star Fleet principles here by not going around the aliens' space because it would add 15 months to the journey. Wonder if she'd want to redo her decision in Caretaker now... Could be a sign of her becoming more pragmatic as it's been 2 years now since Voyager's been stranded.

    Random observation: There should be more aliens in the DQ where the UT doesn't work. Finally nice to see some aliens who truly come across as aliens.

    Doc's Alzheimers plot is the strength of the episode clearly. It hits Kes like a ton of bricks -- portrays the disease as harder on those who love the patient than the patient himself.

    Gotta love Doc's facial expressions when realizing his memory loss and during the discussion on re-initializing his program or not. Doctors make lousy patients they say but Voyager's doc makes an interesting one. And with Picardo getting to play Dr. Zimmerman, it's like how Doc was when he was first used on Voyager.

    I actually really liked the ending with Doc singing opera again -- I take it (however implausible it was made to sound) that he has regained his memories and all the additional "useless" stuff he picked up in the 2 years.

    3 stars for "The Swarm" -- entertaining stuff in A/B plots but Doc's memory loss and Kes's determination to help him were good stuff to watch. Picardo's great in this episode. Unfortunately, for a threat as formidable as the swarm, it was dealt with too conveniently, but at least it was a creative and credible threat. Nowhere near a perfect episode but a lot of great stuff here.

    Tuvok: If we use the array we can be home in 1 hour, otherwise we won't make it home for 70 years.
    Janeway: I won't violate Starfleet regulations. Destroy the array!!

    ... 2 years later ...

    Tuvok: If we got through their territory, we can be beyond it in 2 days, otherwise it will take 15 months.
    Janeway: Screw Starfleet regulations. We're going in!!!!
    Tuvok: (to himself) Humans, oy!

    The major flaw I see in this story is the same one I keep seeing in many Voyager episodes.

    Janeway knows the doctor's program is having problems but she decides to just drive the ship right into hostile space without asking "What happens if we get into trouble and have a bunch of injuries with a doctor who can't help them?". They do have Kes but is she really a substitute for the doctor? We don't know. It isn't even really addressed.

    Seems like it would have made a lot more sense for them to just sit there in relative safety until they found a way to fix the doctor before heading into hostile space.

    This happens repeatedly on Voyager. Janeway makes dumb mistakes that could have easily been avoided because they need a plot and the writers apparently thought the viewers were too dumb to notice. How can we respect a captain who doesn't have any regard for danger and nearly gets the ship destroyed in every episode?

    They kind of did this in TNG but the writing was usually a lot better and they usually at least asked "What if something goes wrong?". At least Picard was smart enough to weigh the options before doing anything. Janeway doesn't ask "Is this risky?" She just does it

    2 stars

    I enjoyed the swarm plot but the doctor plot was filled with way to much technobabble, Zimmerman was annoying and this plot kept getting in the way

    Teaser : ***, 5%

    Torres and Paris are out on a shuttle mission together investigating “intermittent sensor readings.” Uh huh. They banter about Klingon muscle cramps and Paris talks about his PTSD from “The Chute” (no of course not). Actually, Paris wheedles Torres about a potential date with a young ensign, hearkening back to flirtatious material we haven't seen since “The Cloud.” I'm sorry to have to make the comparison, because at this point I like both Jadzia and Bashir (most of the time), but compare this interaction to similar conversations in early DS9 and it's night and day.

    TORRES: Look, he has a crush on me. I can handle it. Why are you so interested?
    PARIS: I'm just curious how someone with Klingon blood seems to live the life of a tabern monk.
    TORRES: Lieutenant, that is none of your business.
    PARIS: Well, if you ever have a free evening, I have a holodeck programme you might enjoy. Sailing on Lake Como?
    TORRES: I'd rather take my chances with Freddie Bristow.

    The writing is less cartoonish and the acting is far more natural. It's still banal bullshit but I'm not nearly so annoyed by it.

    Well enough of that. The sensors finally pick up something—too late, it should be noted—and next thing you know, two aliens have beamed aboard the shuttle making garbled noises at them. Without any further introduction, the aliens shoot Torres and Paris, causing them obvious pain and knocking them out, before beaming away.

    Act 1 : ***.5, 17%

    We pick up with the Doctor and a holosoprano singing from one of my least favourite operas, “La Bohème.” While the duet lacks in substance, this is kind of the point. The serious, cantankerous, analytical and wry EMH is playing Rodolfo, the most drippingly naïve and sentimental character in the story. Picardo's tenor is admirable for a actor (it's also in the wrong key), his Italian horrendous, and his acting, expectedly perfect. The conceit that there will still be overbearing divas in the 22nd century is as optimistic as it is tragic considering the current trajectory of opera, but I digress.

    DIVA: You are an amateur, you have no sense of rubato [emotional bending of the tempo], no rallentando [dramatic slowing of the tempo]. It's like singing with a computer!

    They begin the duet again, but the EMH finds himself unable to remember his lines. Herm... Well anyway, Janeway summons him back to the sickbay to deal with Torres and Paris, whom they've recovered from the shuttle. Torres explains to the captain what happened in the teaser while the Doctor treats her. Paris seems to be more severely injured and hasn't regained consciousness. After Janeway leaves, the Doctor continues to have memory lapses, forgetting where he set a tool, why he had kept Torres on the biobed. He attributes all these lapses to the emotional fallout from his upsetting encounter with the “mad woman on the holodeck.” This may seem strange for a piece of technology, but remember what I wrote back in “Lifesigns”: “Remember that the Doctor noted to Kes that his programme was more complex and sophisticated than the average humanoid brain pattern, which is why Denara's mind is able to be housed in a holographic body. The Doctor expresses pride, frustration, envy, ennui, curiosity...all products of the complexity which allow him to behave 'as if he were' a real person.” This memory issue is, at first appearance, no different. The software development which allows the EMH to simulate (emulate? demonstrate?) emotions brings with it all of the trappings of those feelings.

    Meanwhile, the rest of the senior staff are trying to decipher a message from the hostile aliens. Their language is too complex for the UT to interpret and Neelix has some horror stories about these people. They're violent, secretive xenophobes. Rumours mostly. Kim determines the aliens' space to be too vast to circumvent in less than 15 months. Janeway refuses to accept this idea and determines to find another way through this mess. This is consistent with what we saw in “The Chute.”

    TUVOK: Would it affect your decision if I pointed out that encroaching on the territory of an alien species is prohibited by Starfleet regulations?
    JANEWAY: No, it wouldn't.
    TUVOK: Captain, you have managed to surprise me.
    JANEWAY: We're a long way from Starfleet, Lieutenant. I'm not about to waste 15 months because we've run into a bunch of bullies.

    Again, this post-”Basics” attitude of hers is *logical*, but feels like too much too soon. It's forced. The writers will need to find a way to walk this back a bit or contextualise this change if they don't want to destroy her character.

    While she puts the crew to work on Operation Drug Cartel, the Doctor is preparing to perform brain surgery on Tom, singing Puccini to himself while he works. Kes is intrigued and congratulates him for broadening his personal prospects.

    EMH: I've recently begun a thorough study of opera. I find it quite satisfying, but I am having difficulty finding a holographic partner for the role of Mimi. All the soprani seem to have the most irritating personalities. These women are arrogant, superior, condescending. I can't imagine anyone behaving that way.

    Hysterical. The humour soon gives way to a troubling realisation, which Kes perceptively comes to, that something is seriously wrong with the EMH's memory. He is unable to recall how to perform the operation on Tom. Uh oh.

    Act 2 : ***.5, 17%

    With the help of a cheat sheet, Kes is able to guide the Doctor through the surgery herself, saving Tom's brain, and his life. The EMH's brain looks more precarious, however. Torres later reports that his memory pathways are degrading, despite the backups she (apparently) already installed years ago. There is a solution to the memory loss; a hard reboot (got to love the 90s). This would of course completely erase all of that character development we've had for the EMH. Driven by his oath, The Doctor believes he should be restored immediately, despite not wanting to lose his memories. Kes points out that they don't actually know the cause of the memory loss, and, true to form, insists that the “human” question be considered. She was already convinced that the EMH was “alive” back in “Eye of the Needle.” At that point, Janeway was considering reprogramming the Doc just for having a lousy bedside manner. Speaking of Janeway, her attitude has evolved on the subject.

    JANEWAY: If a crewmember came down with a debilitating illness you'd do everything in your power to make them well again. I think we owe you nothing less.

    Despite my objections to the extreme shift in her character, this does track with Janeway's new priorities which are about safeguarding and shepherding her crew over being a model Starfleet captain. In the wake of the Doctor's experiences, she at least sees him as a crewman instead of just a tool on her ship. The Doctor's development as a person is thus evinced by the changes in the people around him, just as much as it is by the litany of experiences and new *hobbies* he keeps adding to himself.

    Chakotay (oh yeah he's on this show) and Kim report to Janeway that they can technobabble their way across the aliens' border. Because space in Star Trek is two-dimensional, they can manage to pass through a “narrow” segment of their territory in about four days. While these three are all mischievous smiles, Tuvok looks dour.

    The EMH is subjected to Torres' dissecting of his programme, complete with the amusing if expected element of ironic bedside manner. Having hit a dead end, she decides to startup a diagnostic programme in the holodeck. In the vein of Leah Brahms (RIP) in “Booby Trap,” the programme set on Jupiter Station includes a diagnostic hologram of Louis Zimmerman who is able to interact with Torres and the Doctor. As we knew from “Projections,” Zimmerman looks exactly like the EMH, meaning of course that he's played by Picardo who makes his entrance with charming irascibility.

    Act 3 : ***, 17%

    Zimmerman is appalled that the programme has been running for so long and excoriates Torres for thinking she could compensate for this with her compression buffers. We're seeing the groundwork for later Zimmerman stories that we don't need to dwell on, but suffice it to say for now that he is clearly protective of the EMH programme, despite his lack of patience for it. He's proud of his creation. He's also not particularly helpful at the moment, pointing out that they should just go with the reboot option. Torres is called away to help with the Voyager's insipid border-crossing, and so leaves Zimmerman with the task of devising an alternative if he can.

    On the bridge, the crew detect what appears to be a large vessel, but is actually a SWARM (drink) of small ships. Janeway basically ignores the swarm and instructs her crew to do their technobabble. Back-on-duty Paris pilots the Voyager across the border and Kim reports apparent success. Tuvok continues to scowl for the camera. Right after the Voyager goes to warp however, a *particle wave* begins to drag on the engines. We'll have more at 11.

    Meanwhile, Zimmerman is performing Rorschach tests or something on the EMH. He is able to determine that the problem is...

    ZIMMERMAN: The personality sub-routine has grown to more than 15,000 gigaquads!

    The Doc's personality is too large, you say? Hmm. Kes walks in to check in and gets berated by Zimmerman for being a party to the EMH's problems.

    KES: The Doctor has taken it upon himself to become a person who grows and learns and feels. It's made him a better physician.
    EMH: An EMH programme can't feel anything. It's emotional reactions are simply a series of algorithms designed to make it easier to interact with.
    KES: Oh he's much more than that, and I've known him for most of my life. He's one of my closest friends.
    ZIMMERMAN: Tell me, Doctor, is this one of your closest friends?
    KES: Doctor.
    EMH (pauses): I'm sorry, I don't know who you are.

    Achieving this balance of humour and pathos is very difficult and both the writer and actors must be commended for maintaining it. I'm reminded a bit of the excellent planetside scenes from “Brothers.”

    Meanwhile, Janeway is revelling in their sneaking across the border on the bridge. I don't care for this at all. I mean, the interplay is perfectly serviceable, but the idea that Janeway would be *enjoying* this disregard for Starfleet policy, as opposed to engaging with it out of a sense of regretful necessity furthers the damage this change does to her character. Harrumph. They encounter a damaged vessel with one feint lifesign which is beamed to the sickbay.

    Act 4 : **.5, 17%

    Kes reports to Janeway that the survivor's condition resembles a prolonged effect of the weapon that was used against Tom and B'Elanna. The scene occupies both A and B plots which is a very smart scripting move. As Jammer laments, the info dump from the alien is nothing special, either in content or delivery. However, while this interview is happening, the Doctor is demonstrating that his memory loss has devolved into something akin to dementia (“He's a sick man.”). It reminds me, again, of “The Cloud,” where the Doctor amused us with his antics on the viewscreen while Janeway and co. got through the technobabble. Here, he's still amusing us, but it's also tragic to behold the man whose entire name is “Doctor” unable to even use a tricorder properly. The alien for his part reports that the the swarm attacks by draining energy from the target ship and then using the weapons against the crew.

    KES: Captain, the Doctor's getting worse. He doesn't even know who I am any more. He has to be re-initialised.
    JANEWAY: I agree, but I can't spare B'Elanna now. We have to get through this space before we're attacked like his ship was.

    Oh yeah? Was this a tad reckless, Kathryn? Jesus. Well anyway, it turns out one of the swarm vessels was latched onto the dead alien's vessel. It breaks free and responds to Janeway's hail with “too late, should have listened” (Harry has managed to improve the UT enough to decipher that much). Sigh. So, the little bug ship hits the Voyager with a beam that makes her very bright on sensors or something. The swarm responds by heading towards them and so there's lots of hurried shuffling about in Engineering and the Bridge as they figure out how to do magic warp core stuff or whatever.

    There's another good scene in the sickbay where the Doctor continues to struggle with this dementia, recalling events from “Caretaker” and “Elogium” (yikes) sporadically. Again, the allegory being played up is a beloved relative suffering from alzheimer's, lashing out in frustration over their own decline. Kes does her best to stay chipper and try to keep his brain from melting completely. But before long, the Doc's matrix starts fritzing.

    Act 5 : **, 17%

    Kes reports her concern that the EMH is going to disappear completely to Janeway on the bridge, but the Voyager is now gearing up for a battle with the swarm so she's out of luck. God forbid you spare a technician to save your only doctor, Kathryn. So Kes restarts the Zimmerman programme and demands he do something to help her mentor.

    ZIMMERMAN: Young woman, you don't seem to understand there are limitations to my programming. I can't just decide to exceed them.
    KES: The Doctor did so, why can't you?

    It dawns on her that Zimmerman's matrix could be “grafted” onto the EMH's. I know almost nothing about computers or medicine, but am basically certain that this wouldn't work at all, but on Voyager, analogies are stronger than science.

    Sigh.....meanwhile, it's time for the endgame with the swarm. The “interferometric” (yeah yeah) pulses coming from the little ships makes the Voyager's shields and weapons ineffective. Harry is tasked with analysing them. Then the little ships start sticking to the hull like boogers, draining their systems. Janeway uses her bullshit superscience to devise a method of hitting one ship with the phasers and … yawn ... anyway, they win and leave.

    Finally, Kes and Torres re-activate the EMH, who appears fully fixed, but without any memories. Ah, but then he starts singing that old Puccini aria again and we're left wondering how much of his memory will return and how long it will take.

    Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

    The A story here is four stars, no doubt. The plotting is well-crafted, the dialogue is sharp, the poignancy and character relevancy are top-notch, and we get double Picardo for our trouble. The B plot hangs just below the level of watchable for me as it doesn't add up to much and is further soured by the clumsiness of Janeway's characterisation. The writers must rectify this soon. As with the best Data stories, the Doctor's malady is simultaneously a commentary on the potential crises we will face with AI and a metaphor for human questions, distilled in that very Star Trek way. Does the performance or simulation of human emotions and endeavours amount to less than the real thing? Any opera lover would tell you that actually, a great performance of romance, heroism, or sorrow amounts to MORE than the real thing. So we shall continue to see.

    I thought Torres and Kes were well used in their supporting roles, here. Kes is starting to come into her own. Compare her tearful pleading with Janeway over the fate of Tuvix with her calm, rational, but still passionate advocacy for the Doctor here. She has matured and incorporated her experiences into her character. Picardo is the star here, but Dawson is really delightful as well, playing a role akin to Jadzia's in stories like “The Sword of Kahless” and “The Quickening.” One thread I wish wasn't dropped was Tuvok's. His scowling should have amounted to something in the end. Maybe it still will.

    Joe Biden has dementia, folks! And he still doesn't believe in universal healthcare. There's still time to do better!

    Final Score : ***

    Excellent review, Elliott.

    Indeed, I do not envy the choice Americans will have to make in November; it's like Déjà Vu all over again. The lesser of two evils is still evil. The silver lining of your terrible Electoral College system is that if you don't live in a potential tipping-point state, you can vote for a third party or independent candidate without being a "spoiler" (how I hate that word).

    Voting is likely to be a clusterfork because of the coronavirus, which may allow Trump to squeak by with an Electoral College victory.


    Oh I'm pretty much resigned to the unfortunate reality that Trump is winning a second term. We never learn in this country.

    My favorite part of the episode:

    Doc: You're rushing the tempo!

    Diva: I am not rushing, YOU are lagging behind like a tired donkey!

    This is another episode that isn't as good as I previously thought. Skeptical posted a comment upthread with a detailed analysis of the episode's biggest problems so I won't bother rehashing them as I doubt I could add anything to their excellent post.

    Their first paragraph succinctly sums up my feelings :

    "This feels like it could have and should have been better. There were two potentially interesting ideas here, and both got shortchanged by being intercut with each other."

    The only thing I'd like to add is that the techno solutions to both the A and B plots were disappointing; particularly the Swarm plot.

    Interesting review Elliott and bizarre ending on about Biden.

    The main thing is he’s not Trump who is about as antithetical to Star Trek as Dawson’s Creek. The guy only lies, has no shame, takes no responsibility yet seeks credit, bullies, abuses, is corrupt and lacks empathy. Other than that he makes a great leader.

    Even after the election he incited a crowd to attack your Capitol because he didn’t like the result, insisting it must have been a fraudulent election. He still is playing that card now.

    His past is riddled with scandal. He likely collided with foreign governments, he was happy to see bounties placed on US soldiers’ heads, he didn’t attend a memorial to war dead because it was raining... the list goes on. How he has any support is beyond my understanding.

    Good luck.

    Regarding the actual episode: best quote by the Doc was him describing Zimmerman as arrogant and condescending and how could anyone be like that?

    Just to throw in my two cents, our current Resident in Chief is literally doing everything the media accused his predecessor of doing: he's governing like an emperor through Executive Orders, putting kids in tractor trailers on the border, dividing everyone by skin color and orientation, suppressing women's rights, endorsing cancel culture, warmongering in the Middle East and the list goes on .... and our complicit media hands in their questions in advance and pretends nothing is wrong when Biden walks aimlessly about or falls up the stairs multiple times or reads the wrong card for five minutes.

    The guy is a joke and we're going to pay the price for it.

    Re. Biden -- I can't help thinking of him as like John Gill in "Patterns of Force" -- a puppet, a figurehead for evil forces pulling the strings behind the scenes. Maybe Kamala is Melakon.

    Biden is unimpressive at best, absolutely sucks at worst -- very much agree with what "Dave in MN" said. I have no doubt he'll be the worst president in my lifetime until Kamala takes over in 2 yrs. time. And her being a woman of color has nothing to do with it.

    "I have no doubt he'll be the worst president in my lifetime"
    No doubt. Maybe even worse than worst.
    And that has nothing to do with him being a white man.

    You guys need a hobby.

    @Brian "How can we respect a captain who doesn't have any regard for danger and nearly gets the ship destroyed in every episode?"

    Spot on about Janeway's all too frequent shooting from the hip approach to things.

    However, I contend that for the most part only hindsight is 20-20, and 'middling choices' or even worse ones have characterized a lot of decision-making through the years. The 24th century as shownin Trek is not immune from the inescapable and often tragic weaknesses of our supposedly brilliant species.

    I think that since the time of Odyssey the audience is supposed to sit back and say to itself "Don't do's madness." Those on stage rarely listen. If it all went perfectly, there'd be little or no drama.

    Voyager is often a good watch because of the complete meltdowns it serves up. Every episode is its own Kobiyashi Maru!

    I remain puzzled about how the universal translator functions in the Delta Quadrant.

    Apparently, this alien language is *so* different that the translator can’t understand a word of it.

    Yet when Voyager’s under attack, Harry claims to have a partial translation- “too late.” But the crew worked for days on the original sample of the language (the border warning, DESIGNED to be understood) and came up with nothing. Now a tiny bit of angry, fragmented input suddenly yields a translation to the plucky young ensign?

    I can't believe it's 2021, and people are still talking about voyager. I do love this show :)

    "The Swarm" has one of the most kick-ass premises in all of Trek. Voyager has to cut across an alien species territory, avoid detection, outrun malevolent pursuers, and make it out the other side unscathed.

    That's an awesome, tense premise. You can have all sorts of cool debates about whether to go around the alien's terrain or not. You can have Janeway attempting - pleading, begging! - to convince the aliens to let her across. And when those negotiations fail, you can have Voyager making a mad break for it, the little ship running helter-skelter (her lights out, her signal dimmed, her warp signatures masked) for freedom!

    How cool is that.

    And how crap is this episode.

    What should be a tense race against time becomes a dull episode about space slugs and the Doc having memory problems. Both of those stories are strong enough to stand on their own. They should never have been merged.

    I'm reminded of "Night", another great premise, and great area of space for Voyager to cross, which degenerates into hokiness.


    "So what about Doc, anyway? His deterioration takes him into a sort of state of Alzheimer's for holograms, which is milked for some genuinely funny moments (the 'he's a very sick man' passage, for example, was hilarious).

    Yeah, Alzheimer's is a real knee-slapper.

    Sat, Nov 6, 2021, 6:01pm (UTC -6)
    "Why would a hologram need to clean its "hands?"

    I've had that thought a few times during Voyager. I think it has to do with the "level" for lack of a better term of how dense the Doctor is. I remember one episode where he states he can set it to varying levels. My guess is if he's set to really dense, he would have to wash his hands.

    I think at one point they needed to give the Doctor specific control over his matrix to be able to dematerialize, or he would need to tap some buttons on a control panel to enable that ability. Otherwise he manifests as completely solid, and thus able to pick up germs from his surroundings. It does seem like it would be easier to just dematerialize his hands for a moment, and thus any [computer voice] FOREIGN CONTAMINANTS [/computer voice] would just float away or fall to the ground.

    This feels like it should have been two separate episodes. Both the A and B plots are strong enough to stand alone, by merging them they both got less attention than they deserved. Especially the swarm concept.
    Random observations:
    -nice to see some aliens that are actually, you know, alien. The delta quadrant has been pretty tame thus far.
    -why did the aliens at the beginning let Torres and Paris live? Or not destroy the shuttle? Was it just a warning? That seemed odd.
    -Janeway continues to make frustrating choices. Going into evidently hostile space without a doctor seems like a gamble. They could have at least waited a day or two to sort out the doc before engaging an armada of unknown ships.
    -it was good that the doctor’s original function was finally acknowledged and addressed as a possible issue. I had always assumed that all his idiosyncrasies that seemed oddly superfluous to his role as an emergency medical program were the result of him running practically 24/7. Even his romantic forays could be viewed as his programming adapting to the psychological needs of his patient. Thus what the voyager crew view as his personality could just be his programming run amok, he could simply be in a constant state of malfunction but they interpret that as healthy growth towards sentience. I enjoy the existential ambiguity of his character and want to see more in that direction. Plus Picardo is great.

    I likes the episode - mainly because I’m a sucker for quippy dialogue and Picardo’s talents as both Doctor and Zimmerman.

    Some of the comments above got me thinking about the Captain’s motivation/personality and character arc. As far as I can tell (and Ive watched eps out if order so I could be wrong), she remains unchanging throughout - maintaining the same morality that led her to destroy the Caretaker’s array, the same steely resolve against all dangers-of-the-week, the same concern for Starfleet regs and the Prime Directive, the same unflagging determination to get back to earth. Even her choice in this episode (to violate the Swarm’s airspace, and risk the massacre of her whole crew by a killer race whose weapons/tech are unknown) is presented in this same vein: “Captain Janeway, the steely and moral leader, stands up to bullies and fearlessly leads her people toward home.”

    I would have found it much more interesting if the show had explored her psyche and the pressures she was under and their effect on her character. We could have had an arc of her losing her moral center, or becoming fatalistic, or overly cocky and risk-taking.

    In this episode, transgressing into the space of dangerous aliens could have been played as Janeway becoming too daredevil, or fatalistic (“We’re gonna die one of these days; it might as well be today”), or single-minded (“I’m going to get my crew home as fast as possible and I won’t go around any obstacles”), or under pressure from an increasingly disgruntled and apathetic crew, or gradually straying from Starfleet principles of respect for aliens’ rights.

    I would have loved to see that - but I think the Star Trek fandom at large would have hated it. Reading the comments, I get the feeling that ST fans want all captains to be like Picard: always moral, always strong, always right. A captain with noticeable flaws or even a season-long arc of “captain takes risks, then more risks, then too many risks, until officers have to challenge her judgement” would, IMO, have caused lots of viewers to swear off Voyager in disgust.

    So we got instead a lot of flawed-officer episodes (Belanna throws a punch, Paris is a brat, Kim is unprepared to command, etc) , while the captain - commanding solely by force of will in a quadrant devoid of admirals and Starfleet bureaucrats to back her up, leading a crew that has good reason to nihilistic or mutinous - remains unexamined and unchanging.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index