Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 10/1/1997
Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by Kenneth Biller
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"I'm just trying to make her feel like part of the team."
"'Part of the team'? You sound like Chakotay."
— Harry and Tom
Nutshell: Fairly diverting, but slight.
"Revulsion" is of the breed of episode that's inoffensive and reasonably entertaining, but fundamentally nondescript. Sure, it has its moments of relevance, but overall there's not much meat to it. It works as an hour-long diversion, and then it's easily forgettable. The two key words of this week: "amiable" and "lightweight."
If you take "Revulsion" to its most basic level, that is, to look at it in the broadest of senses, it isn't very compelling. There's an A-plot, in which an alien hologram terrorizes Lt. Torres and the Doctor when they're on an away mission; and a B-plot, in which Harry is assigned to Seven of Nine for a ship project, and finds himself in a number of awkward personal situations.
On the surface it's somewhat bland. Rather, this is a show that relies on its little snippets of dialog and moments of in-context humor to get the job done. At its best, "Revulsion" is a slight and light comedy episode. At its worst, it's a superficial thriller.
Now, there's certainly nothing wrong with that. But given the last few episodes of Voyager—shows that featured situations where the characters had more pressing psychological or emotional issues to address—"Revulsion" provides a plot that is a little too perfunctory in the most important of ways, despite the fact that it manages to be enjoyable and relaxing in the process. It's like "Day of Honor" in that it's a largely "standard-issue" storyline, but it's unlike "Day of Honor" in that there's no real payoff.
The A-story seems promising on the surface, but as it progresses it unfortunately proves itself the weakest aspect of the episode. We have a holographic ship's servant program named Dejaren (much like the Doctor in design and physical capability), and he's in danger because his holo-system is damaged and the crew of his ship is dead. Enter Torres and Doc, who come to his ship to help him; continue with some relevant exposition between Doc and Dejaren on the nature of holographic existence and coexisting with biological people; move on to a scene where Dejaren loses his cool and relates to B'Elanna his manic contempt for "filthy, animalistic humanoids"; and then end with lots of cheap thrills, dark lighting, and several of Dejaren's attempted murders of B'Elanna Torres.
This plot is problematic, because it purports to make highbrow statements about the quality of life for an artificial lifeform (a well-traveled Trekkian theme, to be sure), but it only ends up being a half-witted thriller motif. Some of the scenes between Doc and Dejaren are nicely portrayed—I especially liked Doc's story of how he slowly earned the equal respect of the Voyager crew, and how he was granted the ability to turn his program on and off—but the story doesn't take the idea far enough. It's dropped in favor of the thriller angle, which has far too many extended moments of cliché for for my tastes.
Yes, I appreciated the fact that Klink's script made Dejaren a character who felt driven to murder out of revenge for his crew's apparent persecution and prejudice toward him. And Leland Orser's performance as the maniacal Dejaren is commendable in its energy. (It's also surprisingly similar to what he's done before. I've only seen him in one other role: a minor character in David Fincher's Seven, where he played a peripheral victim to a rather ghastly crime. He brought a severe sense of nervousness and torment to that role, and it's a characteristic that has carried over into Dejaren.)
But the way the plot unfolds leaves much to be desired. For starters, I don't think it was a good idea to reveal up front that Dejaren was a killer. Showing us in the teaser that he murdered his own crew made the rest of his actions mostly predictable. And, in defense of Torres' understandable skepticism, it's hard to look for character subtleties in a guy who comes at you with a hammer.
Ultimately, Dejaren is just your stock Mad Killer. The episode seems to acknowledge this by its final acts of predictable horror-movie terrorism, as Dejaren mercilessly stalks Torres through the ship before she can deactivate his program. No points for guessing that an exposed cable established early in the episode will eventually be used to "nullify" Dejaren (to use a "Nemesis" term) in the episode's finale; any genre devotee will have predicted this from the onset.
I'm most bothered that Dejaren's "death" means so little to the Doctor. Given how interested Doc was in learning about other sentient holographic beings, you'd think he would react to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Dejaren's necessary demise. But what reaction do we get? A non-reaction. The episode doesn't seem to care in the slightest what Doc thinks of the situation (that is, beyond the lighthearted joke of him "lightening up" around humans, which is too upbeat and, if you think about it, virtually a non sequitur under the circumstances.)
The B-story is light, but amusing and even somewhat relevant. Seven of Nine needs to develop a personality someday, and if ever there were someone more qualified to be relentlessly friendly to her and urge her to lighten up, it's Harry Kim. The twist, of course, is that Harry finds himself in over his head, especially when he realizes he has a crush on her complex personality.
Tom's argument to Harry (to be careful of a crush on a former-Borg, that is) makes a good amount of sense—although his snide comment about Seven having "assimilated enough people" seems to conflict with his attitude in "Day of Honor" when he said "everybody has a past." Consistency, anyone?
There are a few riotously funny scenes, like when Seven misinterprets Harry's friendly gestures as a human seduction. (The Borg are not one for wasting words, and "You wish to copulate?" is about as direct a phrase as any.) There's also a hilarious closing scene between Harry and Chakotay, that highlights a cruel sense of humor on the commander's part. Beltran's performances are really starting to make me sit up and take note; he was absolutely a joy to watch in this scene.
This plot is mostly light comedy, but there's a good scene when Seven cuts her hand and realizes that she actually needs medical attention. She's accustomed to the instant regeneration of the Borg Collective, but it's something that is no longer. When she murmurs "I am weak," it really hits home. You can tell she's frustrated and vulnerable inside, and it's easy to sympathize with her. Jeri Ryan continues to deliver credible performances of a character who is still quite lost in her new world.
Moving on to some enjoyable little tidbits that are off the main path of the two main stories:
- The episode follows up to "Day of Honor" with the awaited on-screen Tom/B'Elanna kiss, though the moment is ten seconds nearly lost in the rest of the unrelated story. (But at least the episode did let us know where Tom stands on the issue.) And for those wondering why it's only been "three days" since "Day of Honor" supposedly took place: You may want to keep in mind that last week's "Nemesis," which aired the week after "Day," was actually filmed first. "Day" was originally intended to air after "Nemesis"—one week before "Revulsion." Why the schedule was changed is beyond me, but such is the case with studio networks, I suppose.
- I liked the idea of Doc choosing Paris as the temporary medical assistant. It was good for some humor, and it made sense considering Paris was a temporary nurse back in the early moments of first season. It's also nice to have an acknowledgment that Kes needs to be replaced.
- Doc's dialog was amusingly acerbic and sharp-edged this week, along the lines of his earlier characterization. Picardo did a wonderful job of integrating this sharp-edged wit into Doc's lighter, amicable persona. He's a man full of sarcasm and insults, yet he says things in a way so the other characters know he's just kidding. We all know someone who's like that. I've always liked those types of people, and I like Doc as well.
- Tuvok's get-together for his promotion to lieutenant commander was fun—especially the anecdote about Paris & Co. programming the computer so that his press of every button would make it say "Live long and prosper." Cruel, but very amusing.
It's a shame that the story's main plot involving Dejaren wasn't handled with much apparent inspiration. I enjoyed much of this episode as a compilation of short little cuts of dialog and character interaction. But it just doesn't do much on the broad story terms.
Next week: The Borg are back—again—when Seven of Nine attempts to flee Voyager to return to the Collective. Maybe she'll even get to crash her first shuttle.
Previous episode: Nemesis
Next episode: The Raven
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49 comments on this post
Tue, Dec 25, 2007, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 23, 2009, 8:31am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 2, 2010, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 8, 2011, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
- It's kind of stupid that when the Doctor recruits Paris he doesn't mention Kes' name, he just says that he needs a new assistant.
- I think the reason they probably changed the airing order is that Seven of Nine didn't appear in "Nemesis" and they wanted to show more of her at the beginning of the season. The production order definitely makes much more sense.
Wed, Jul 6, 2011, 1:32am (UTC -5)
I suppose we could see this episode as the beginning of the 'holo-arc' that continues almost to the end of the series, in that it's the first time we see another 'sentient' holographic entity, and note the Doctor's reaction to them.
Wed, Apr 11, 2012, 1:38am (UTC -5)
On the other hand he'd be perfect on a show like Dexter. As a blood slide.
Sun, Jul 1, 2012, 9:39am (UTC -5)
Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
The character interplay was very nice and reminds us why we tune into this crews' adventures every week. I hope to see more of Seven and Harry together. His shining optimism and unfaltering humanity could be pushed to the limit by Sevens' struggles to seperate herself from her ingrained Borgness, and she could be 'saved' from darkness by the blaring light of Harrys' humanity providing that she doesn't break his spirit in the process....well this is what I'd like to see if they pursue a Seven and Harry pairing, even if it was to stay in the form of friendship.
I'd give this good but not excellent episode a 3/4.
Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 8:40am (UTC -5)
After Dejaren's outburst to B'Elanna about how, among other things, he's ashamed to be made in her (organics') image, I can't say I understand why she's willing to stick around on this ship. As she says, he's a lunatic, and even without the dramatic irony of the teaser, I would have gotten myself off that ship without delay. Why she's willing to stick around yet alone snoop around the mysterious lower deck is beyond me.
Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
Overall I liked this episode, some interesting ideas and good performances all around.
Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 11:54am (UTC -5)
Regarding the supposed "non-reaction" by the Doctor; he was there to help Torres after a near fatal heart injury caused by Dejaren plus witnessed her getting clobbered upside the head with a tool before being attacked himself. It seems reasonable enough to me that that would be grounds for his reaction or lack thereof (whether or not Doc felt Dejaren could be fixed).
The scenes involving Kim and Seven ranged from mildly amusing to outright hilarious and further proves Ryan's capabilities as an actress. The understated dry wit and comedic timing were superb. Wang's performance as a nervous schoolboy was surprisingly effective and made for the pairing of these two a smart decision.
All in all, not quite up to par with the last several episodes but it is definitely a worthwhile showing.
Tue, Mar 31, 2015, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 12:25pm (UTC -5)
Leland Orser does a wonderful job giving us a whack-job hologram.
Roxann and doc are central to this one so I know it's going to be good right off the bat.
It was pretty creepy and graphic for a Star Trek episode.
The 7/Harry time was side splitting. Just HILARIOUS!!
I also like how Chuckles is starting out this new season. Very strong.
I'll go a tad bit higher and rate this a 3.0 episode. I probably should give it a 3.5 but I've ranked the last 5 episode that high or higher so I might be soaring a bit here :-)
Thu, Oct 29, 2015, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
After all, how often are youths told to stay away from a toxic environment? Unbeknownst to the Doctor, Dejaren was a very toxic environment. And so, upon introspection, the Doc decided a change in attitude was in order. Rather than feel superior to his crewmates, he would need to start feeling empathy for them. He would need to start identifying with them more. Hence, the joking and such.
The problem is, of course, that it's precisely the wrong thing to do. After all, showing empathy towards your fellow man by tossing an uncomfortable joke out there doesn't seem the best way to do it. And showing a break from the thinking that caused that craziness by, well, pretending to be the same crazy... not smart. Ah well, maybe it's just the Doctor not being human, good enough excuse as any I guess. But if that was in fact the reasoning they had for having the Doc joke at the end, it could have been done better.
It also probably would have been better if the Doctor was the one to Terminate Dejaren instead, to give him a bit more closure and possibly give a bit more serious of an ending. Still, it was a decent enough episode.
Wed, Dec 2, 2015, 10:24am (UTC -5)
Also, the psycho tells the Doc that they were killed by a deadly virus that spread from person to person. That suggests that it's contagious and airborne and Torres is at risk. But no one thinks of that.
As for Harry, the clueless 14 year old virgin, I'm even more creeped out by him trying to eventually get Seven to fuck him than I was about Neelix and Kes. Yes, Neelix is a pedophile, but perhaps the Ocampa species are built for pedophilia, considering their short life span.
But Seven is human. She was assimilated by the Borg when she was 6 years old. This means that, sexually speaking, she has the personality of a 6 year old. Human pedophilia grosses me out, even though she technically has the body of an adult.
Fri, Dec 4, 2015, 12:59am (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 4, 2015, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
lol .... good one.
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
Never thought I'd be defending Neelix, but he is not a pedophile. Because of the way the Ocampa lifespan works, Kes at 1 or 2 was physically and mentally like a 20 year old human - regardless of her chronological age. Since they only live 9 years, should he wait until she is 9-12 years in the grave before getting involved with her? :)
Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 10:25am (UTC -5)
If anything, I would compare this more to "Datalore". We get to see why The Doctor is unique, even from other holographic life. It's also interesting that The Doctor's first away mission is one in which he encounters life so different than his own. That's a Voyager staple, for sure. In fact, my working theory is that everyone in the DQ is an ass, and next week's "The Raven" will validate this further.
The 7of9 stuff is awkward. Would any man really say no in Harry's situation? That whole scene could've been scripted better.
All in all, 3 stars for me.
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
The Seven/Harry story on the other hand was light but well-handled. There is a very dry wit developing here that is welcome - and her frankness in the face of Harry's bumbling made for a hilariously uncomfortable scene.
Overall though - "This could get tedious" indeed. 2 stars.
Sun, Mar 20, 2016, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
But my main comment is that Jeri Ryan is such a wonderful actress, and this is the first episode where we really get to see how good she is. And that makes me angry. Stuffing her into that ridiculous T & A suit is insulting. I am glad that she was able to transcend her obvious purpose and show us what she is capable of.
Sun, May 29, 2016, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
Anyone else notice the nifty tracking shot early on, from when Tuvok stops talking to when the distress call comes in? Pretty sophisticated!
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 8:29pm (UTC -5)
The Harry/Seven thing was funny, but a throwaway since they didn't end up sticking with it.
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
quite humorous and predictable
Just ignore the seven of nine garbage
Fri, Oct 28, 2016, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 4, 2016, 7:04am (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
The Harry and Seven scenes were surprisingly good, actually. And the Harry and Paris scene, and hell, even the Harry and Chakotay scenes weren't bad. That's rare. Seven's outfits, especially this early one, were a slap in the face to Jeri Ryan and the viewers. "LOOK SEE?! LOOK SEE?! Borgg chik iz teh HOTTORZZZZ111! Plz 4 teh love of Grod watch r show!!!" That is the level of thought that went into this. Lowest common denominator. Ryan's acting, however, is golden. This is like a lot of Voyager episodes: potentially great, but settles for average.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 4:37pm (UTC -5)
But Seven is human. She was assimilated by the Borg when she was 6 years old. This means that, sexually speaking, she has the personality of a 6 year old. Human pedophilia grosses me out, even though she technically has the body of an adult."
Christ John, I honestly believe you may have some issues to work out.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
That was done well. :)
Sun, Jun 11, 2017, 11:49am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 25, 2017, 5:29pm (UTC -5)
It is in an episode like this where TNG-lite seems appropriate. TNG in its heyday got right down to business without pointless teasers and it's episodes were solid from start to finish. voyager on the otherhand resorted to this lightweight fluff and uninteresting plots. TNG had a gravitas that Voyager had briefly before jettisoning it for very silly inconsequential stories
Thu, Nov 2, 2017, 11:44am (UTC -5)
The subplot ties in with the main plot obliquely (as I said) and I think having some sort of in-universe acknowledgment of the sex appeal that was one of the reasons for the introduction of Seven as a character and *certainly* of her improbable attire is probably appropriate rather than the coyness the show usually does. Ryan is good as always. But Harry's hapless reaction to her feels incomplete and not all that funny, though I can't quite put my finger on why. The scene with Tom really does seem strange given Tom's dialogue in Day of Honor (and the fact of Harry's willingness to overlook Tom's past when they first became friends), and I feel like it would have been better to give B'Elanna that scene, though of course it would require either swapping someone else out to accompany the Doc on the away mission or moving things around to other episodes.
It's an ep I actually enjoy talking about slightly more than I enjoyed watching it; I think it was unsatisfying and slow, but with some interesting elements. 2 stars.
Sat, Nov 25, 2017, 8:09am (UTC -5)
Voyager finds a ship full of dead people, with a hologram sending a distress call, and they drop off Torres and the Doc and leave. See you later! Hope everything works out while we are gone! Bye! Silly.
Why would this maintainence hologram have a full personality and emotions and be sentient and all that if they just have him locked in a room to clean out antimatter waste? The people who made him would be sadists if they did that, and probably deserved to die. And why are there emitters all over the ship for him if he never leaves that room anyway? And why would he go insane? He's a program. Unless he was programmed to go insane. How would he know how to create a holographic fish? He's pretty advanced for an antimatter waste disposal hologram. Makes no sense.
And as other's said, the hologram guy says everyone died of a virulent plague, but they don't ask one single question about it, or worry that Torres might get it. Torres can't go to the lower deck because of antimatter radiation supposedly, but the Doc could, so why wouldn't he investigate? And once he went all mental on Torres, they would have left immediately and waited for Voyager to get back. All that is very stupid.
Torres shut down all the emitters, but somehow forgot some I guess(?) and so the hologram shows up again, and he is still able to go anywhere in the ship. So what did Torres shut down exactly?
If hologram guy reached in and grabbed her heart somehow, and punctured it, she would not be walking around and acting all normal, she would be dead. Yet after that, and being clobbered in the head with a hammer, she can still run around and stuff.
And when Voyager gets back, they just leave the ship there and take off I guess, since no one says anything about it. Like maybe trying to contact the homeworld of the ship or investigating this species or this advanced hologram or their ship or anything. Nope, they just fly away.
The stuff with Seven and Harry was alright, but Wang can't act to save his life.
Sun, Jan 14, 2018, 11:43pm (UTC -5)
It's kind of funny that the above holds true even if you replace "David Fincher's Seven" with "Jean-Perre Jeunet's Alien: Resurrection".
Sun, Apr 1, 2018, 9:57am (UTC -5)
The appeal to consistency would only be valid if normal, flawed human beings always acted in a logically consistent manner. Since they don’t, I don’t really see the problem.
Furthermore, Tom’s offer of friendship to Seven in “Day of Honour” and his joke about her assimilating lots of species’ is entirely consistent with his characterisation as basically a nice guy who likes to take the piss a lot. Sure, the joke itself (note that it was referenced by Harry as such, who immediately reprimands Tom for joking too much) was a bit close to the bone and mean, but it doesn’t automatically signify he has no sympathy for Seven. Especially as the point behind the joke was an appropriate observation.
Wed, May 23, 2018, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
I liked the B-plot of Harry and 7 and their awkward moments as well as Paris and Chakotay's contributions. Some decent VOY comedy here. This is a good continuation of the integrating 7 into the ship's crew arc and Harry, the lovestruck fool, does a good job just being himself. And they were working on an important project too -- the astrometrics lab.
But with Dejaran flipping out on Torres and then her not being able to get her point through to Doc (putting everything so politely) -- itnearly gets her killed. It was as if it was setting up for her to go through some Friday the 13th / Scream nonsense. And what's a real letdown is it's hard to take any of Dejaran's complaints about how his organics treated him since he's gone psycho and we know that from the opener. A much better episode for sentience among holograms is "Flesh and Blood".
The part where Dejaran tries to rip out Torres' heart (or something like that) -- this really was farfetched. How should she be even able to then deactivate him and continue the fight? It was just silly.
Too bad the episode focused on the meaningless plot of the psycho killer hologram as I thought it was cool that some new roles were being established on the ship with Paris helping Doc, Tuvok's promotion and even Neelix as ambassador. Paris and Torres follow up their romance too. So there was some good continuity and prospects for things going forward set up here.
Can't quite get to even 2 stars for "Revulsion" so 1.5 stars it is for me. The psycho killer hologram -- was his plan to lure whoever to fix his system and then kill them unless they were holograms...and then what? I suppose the episode needed to have something to it other than just daily life on the ship and developing working relationships with 7. I just found the Dejaran hologram character too irritating and the A-plot unoriginal, farfetched and predictable. But there's all kinds of potential with the 7 character.
Fri, Sep 14, 2018, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
I thought the beginning, with Tuvok, set the tone . . . Tuvok being tweaked about his robot like nature, but showing a dry sense of humor at the end of the scene, telling them all to "live long and prosper."
Seven displays, and talks about having, a sense of humor, and then Doc does this as well. The ep puts Tuvok, Doc, and Seven all in the same bag, and in general, explores what it means to be human as opposed to lacking in humanity and empathy.
Kept me entertained, some laughs and some character development. I'm in for the next one.
Fri, May 3, 2019, 9:39am (UTC -5)
Harry's flirtations in the B plot are fine at first, but he starts coming off as a bit of a creep in a way that I don't think was intended. I did like Seven's very straightforward response though, she's just adding a whole new dimension to the show that I'm very much enjoying.
Fri, May 3, 2019, 10:40am (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 9:42am (UTC -5)
As some have already pointed out, the story and the distressed hologram should've been written/played with more subtleness - I believe it could've been up there with the best, was it more a psychological thriller instead of a classic slasher.
I also agree that the over-eager Doctor in the beginning didn't fit well with the no-f^cks-given Doc in the second half.
A part from that it's a very solid episode with no real weak spots. The B'Elanna/Tom relationship is being handled very satisfactory, both actors with terrific performances that add nuance to respective character.
3 Stars, so far season 4 is killing it.
Fri, Mar 20, 2020, 3:31am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 26, 2020, 10:41am (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 6, 2020, 2:50am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 16, 2020, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Because his true crush is on... Tom Paris.
Sat, Aug 7, 2021, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
No 'Cracker Barrel gift card ' for the EMH this year. I've had it! Episode really got my blood up.
Thu, Oct 7, 2021, 11:29am (UTC -5)
Back on Voyager the cinematography is similarly better than usual; it's more brooding than is typical, with new red shadows and red lights in a couple rooms (most notably Chakotay's office).
Other standouts are Dejaren himself, powerfully acted by Leland Orser. He's a flesh hating hologram, tired of servitude, a cool concept which gives his murders some originality.
As Jammer points out, however, the direction is atrocious in the final third of the episode. There's no imagination here, no energy, and the whole thing is cut in the most lazy way possible.
Kim's little arc with 7of9 has also not aged too well. It has a sleazy quality, the audience asked to leer at 7of9 via Kim.
I've noticed 7of9 has a similar hairstyle to season 1 Janeway. Was this intentional?
Fri, Dec 3, 2021, 9:21am (UTC -5)
"Never thought I'd be defending Neelix, but he is not a pedophile. Because of the way the Ocampa lifespan works, Kes at 1 or 2 was physically and mentally like a 20 year old human - regardless of her chronological age."
I agree. And I didn’t think I’d ever defend Neelix (the most annoying character in any incarnation of Star Trek) either.
Fri, Dec 3, 2021, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 8, 2023, 5:18am (UTC -5)
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