Star Trek: Voyager

"Waking Moments"

2.5 stars

Air date: 1/14/1998
Written by Andre Bormanis
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"...and the next thing I knew, I was being boiled alive in a pot of my own leota root stew."
"Talk about a nightmare."
"But it was perfectly seasoned."

— Neelix and B'Elanna

Nutshell: A reasonable diversion, but not a whole heck of a lot more.

An alien appears in the dreams of the Voyager crew members. By what can't be a coincidence, everybody has nightmares on the same night, and the same alien appears in everybody's dreams. Ensign Kim and several other crew members are locked in sleep—physically fine, but the Doctor can't wake them. What does it mean? Chakotay goes to sleep to find answers, to ask what this alien wants, if anything. Using pseudo-hypnosis, he devises a way of forcing lucid dreaming (that is, knowing that a dream is really just a dream) so that he can wake himself up when he has the answers, hopefully avoiding the fate of Kim and the others.

Chakotay finds the alien, a person from a race that, when asleep, apparently exists as combined figments of their own and other people's dreams. Sound implausible? It is. Border on fantasy? It does. The episode avoids discussing how this existence is possible. But I'm not going to hold that against "Waking Moments." You sort of have to take these things on the given terms. Besides, I have bigger fish to fry.

Like "Random Thoughts," "Waking Moments" is the type of Voyager offering that seems to indicate what the series sees itself as: an hour-long diversion that specializes in featuring this week's (somewhat) unique alien race which bears a (somewhat) unique property, which leads to a (somewhat) interesting plot-based adventure for Our Heroes. Unlike "Random Thoughts," however, this installment doesn't ask a whole lot of questions, so all we're left with for critical analysis are the superficial plot machinations and their pure intrigue level.

"Waking Moments" is what they call "average." It's agreeably fun, but it doesn't have enough meat to it to be the slightest bit more than that. The plot turns are certainly watchable, but not really all that compelling. And even though I can't think of a source reference offhand, this premise seems strangely familiar and could probably be accurately called "derivative." (And now that I think about it, shades of TNG's "Night Terrors" come to mind.)

The basic question I think "Waking Moments" is getting at here goes something like, "What if a society existed in reality as a mental state that we consider fantasy?" The question has possibilities. Unfortunately for this episode, the lame answer supplied seems to be, "They'd commandeer the starship Voyager for no discernible purpose."

I think that about sums up my biggest complaint about "Waking Moments"—there's simply nothing substantive about these aliens that justifies their actions (beyond perhaps extreme paranoia). As the plot progresses and takes on some intriguing complexity, it turns out the Voyager crew members have all fallen asleep and are dreaming the same dream from their own point of view—interacting in a web of unified thought that Seven aptly labels "collective unconsciousness." But can somebody tell me why the aliens, who apparently control the entire dream-like state with some sort of technology, stage the dream as a shipwide takeover? What is their motivation for holding the crew captive in sleep? I've tried to find one, but as far as I can tell, it's inexplicable. It's yet another example of the Hard-Headed Alien of the Week Syndrome™. The whole episode builds to a finale that lives or dies on "how is it can we defeat the cardboard bad guys this week?"

My fault; the alien does, technically, give Chakotay a reason for why his people have decided to take Voyager's crew captive: "For centuries you've come and found us in a state that you call sleep and tried to destroy us. But not any more. One by one you will fall asleep and enter our reality, where it is you who will be destroyed." You decide what it means; I'm calling it an unintelligible utterance of bad dialog. I was practically waiting for an Evil Laugh after the alien said this.

The whole "motivation problem" dominates most of the story if you think about anything for more than 0.68 seconds (as Data once put it). Under scrutiny, the plot begins to fall apart. The only way this works is if you turn off your brain and go with the flow. If you can do that, "Waking Moments" comes with some stuff to recommend.

For starters, this episode has fun bending reality. I suppose it can be said that the real reason for the aliens' takeover of the ship is so that the story can sidetrack us with a false plot long enough so that when the real truth comes around we'll get novelty out of the shock value. Chakotay wakes up from his dream—and then later he wakes up again. It can be confusing if you don't think about it; but if you do think about it a lot of the plot pulls together on its own terms by the time the show ends—until your thinking process begins finding the gaping holes in the aliens' logic and contrived motivation.

The plot does a reasonable job of explaining itself so that we always know pretty much what's going on (even though the explanations aren't always believable), and every once in a while comes a time when Chakotay has to question whether he's dreaming or really awake. I like shows that bend reality (such as "Projections" and TNG's "Frame of Mind" and "Ship in a Bottle" and DS9's "Whispers"); they can be fun—although "Waking Moments" doesn't push the idea far enough for it to really take hold and overcome the stupidity of the takeover scheme.

But for what this episode is, it was very nicely executed by director Alexander Singer. The pacing is up, which keeps the show watchable even though it's shallow. The episode opens with one of the most interestingly assembled teasers in recent memory, as the story crosscuts between each different character and their respective dreams ... and only slowly reveals that what we're watching are dreams.

Also, the use of Earth's moon—as a mental image to alert Chakotay that he's sleeping—really worked for me. When Chakotay saw the moon in the cargo bay (after believing he was already awake), the show generated a spark of creativity that made me take notice. Chakotay's subsequent awakening (Doc: "You're awake!" Chakotay: "Are you sure?!") also had me eagerly awaiting to see where the story was headed—too bad it took such a conventional road, because the possibilities for something much better were there. The most effective use of the moon comes when Chakotay sees it on the viewscreen—and after he wakes up he sees the alien planet on the viewscreen instead. I'm not sure why, but I was quite taken by the transposition. It felt very genuine, and at that moment I could fully identify with the confusion Chakotay was feeling in trying to identify reality from unreality.

Another good idea that could've been taken farther (but which still benefits the episode even in its limited use), was the idea of the way the brain skews reality when dreaming. Things are always off-kilter in dreams, but you rarely notice the off-kilter elements until after you wake up. There's a moment concerning a warp core breach that touches upon this (a breach should destroy the ship, but in this dream world it doesn't). Touching upon the idea was good, but why wasn't there a lot more of this? The whole episode could've been a puzzle of characters trying to determine what was and wasn't real around them—and, because it was all a dream, having them accept as real what we the audience would see as obviously not real. It may have been a riskier story idea conceptually, but it would've been much more interesting than another routine takeover plot.

A few quick asides:

  • Not to nitpick, but the "identical brain waves" clue that is supposed to account for the fact that everybody is having the same dream doesn't seem plausible to me, even on Trek-level plausibility terms. Everybody's having the dream from their own perspective, so why would their brain patterns be the same?
  • If you look closely at the scene where B'Elanna exits the smoke-filled engineering set, you will briefly glimpse a very pregnant Roxann Dawson. Shooting around Dawson's pregnancy is a technical concern that proves amusing if you look at the way the she's cleverly positioned on the screen in every scene. Maybe we should dub this game the "B'Elanna watch." Okay, maybe not.
  • Torres: "And if the aliens try to stop us?" Janeway: "Then we turn this dream world of theirs [grabs a big, bad gun] into a nightmare." ARRRRGH! No, no, no. This line takes the cake as awful B-movie lines that try to be Badass Taglines™. I actually laughed at how bad it was. It's a miracle that Kate Mulgrew was able to deliver the line with a straight face—but then again, she's had lots of practice, as the writers give all the lines of this type to her. (Cf. "These lab rats are fighting back," "Time's up," etc.) Enough already.
  • What are those strange pins on B'Elanna's uniform supposed to denote? I realize the uniform itself was created to hide the actress' pregnancy, but what, if anything, are the pins in story terms?
  • I was amused by a lot of the light character dialog—and especially the notion that Tuvok's nightmare is showing up for his duty shift naked. Who hasn't had that dream?

That's about all from this corner. "Waking Moments" is like last season's "Displaced" in many ways. The show lives and dies on plot execution, the storyline is more or less routine, the aliens are stubborn and paper-thin, and in the end we're supposed to pat Our Heroes on the back for their ingenuity. Unlike "Displaced," however, "Waking Moments" maintains its entertainment value with a brisk pace and good execution, as well as benefiting from some nicely worked-in character moments.

This is the epitome of so-so.

Next week: Romulans, an LMH, and alien predators. Is this part one of a Voyager story arc? We'll see shortly...

Previous episode: Mortal Coil
Next episode: Message in a Bottle

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

◄ Season Index

74 comments on this post

Sat, Nov 17, 2007, 12:55am (UTC -5)
Also, the music in this episode sounds STRAIGHT out of DS9. The entire time I was thinking, "didn't I just hear this in Sacrifice of Angels?," heh.
Thu, Dec 27, 2007, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Also, this episode finally established what everyone already suspected: seeing as his nightmare consists of kissing a beautiful woman, ensign Kim must be gay.
Sat, Jan 5, 2008, 7:39am (UTC -5)
The 'pins' on B'elanna's uniform were assorted pencils and mathematical instruments. Nothing an engineer wouldn't have
Tue, Mar 25, 2008, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
"Unfortunately for this episode, the lame answer supplied seems to be, "They'd commandeer the starship Voyager for no discernible purpose.""

I think I know the answer to this one. The discernible purpose was to alleviate boredom.
Dirk Hartmann
Tue, Apr 29, 2008, 4:58am (UTC -5)
I have to admit that this is still one of my favorite standalone episodes in Voyager. I think it's as underrated as "scientific method".
Mon, Jun 21, 2010, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
It's quite a good episode. The only thing that really annoyed me was Chakotay with his "Acushla moya, we're far away from the buffalo" or whatever crap. Enough with this Native American nonsense already!!
Mon, Jul 12, 2010, 5:53pm (UTC -5)
Regarding B'Elanna's jacket: I know Dawson wore it to cover her pregnancy, but I thought the jacket was a neat look for her regardless. I wish she had kept wearing it for the rest of the series.

Also, I don't think those are pins she was wearing. I thought they were little tools in a breast pocket.
Sat, Dec 4, 2010, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
I really liked Tuvok's 'unsettling' dream.

He's my favorite character.
Thu, Dec 30, 2010, 6:42am (UTC -5)
EightOfNine has hit the nail on the head.
Captain Jim
Thu, Apr 14, 2011, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
I got a kick out of Jammer's complaint that this episode written by Trek's science adviser was scientifically implausible.
Fri, Apr 29, 2011, 12:18am (UTC -5)
Watching this again, I got a real kick out of some moments that just had me say "Inception." The whole am-I-dreaming stuff was the best part of the episode... and 10 years later Inception comes to fully exploit it.
Mon, May 16, 2011, 8:23am (UTC -5)
I will admit this was one of my favorite episodes as a kid, and I still get a kick out of the dreams vs. reality bits. Watching it again now, I see that it's a predecessor to "Inception". And yes, David Bell reused his score from 'Sacrifice of Angels'.

You gotta love the 'acute insomnia' scenes at the end. It just makes so much... sense!
Mon, Apr 16, 2012, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Apparently the laughter on the bridge during Tuvok's "nude" entrance was genuine because Tim Russ put a rather large..ahem..."apendage" over his groin.

They should have just written Roxann Dawson's pregnancy into the show. Tom knocks up B'Elanna. End...I mean beginning of story. Anything to get rid of that dorky overcoat with the pocket protector. She may be an engineer, but she's still half-Klingon. There is no honor in nerdliness.
Jeff O'Connor
Fri, Jul 27, 2012, 3:02am (UTC -5)
Well, I guess they were saving the pregnancy for later... er. Yes. That's right. Or something.

Anyway, I just watched this one for the first time since it premiered, and oh my goodness, I agree with this review regarding Janeway's cheesy-arse line. She had a lot of them this season, didn't she?
Mon, Oct 1, 2012, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Voyager: Inception. I liked it. Fun and sometimes goofy.
Thu, Oct 4, 2012, 3:15am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode and it seems to me that the viewers who didn't like it was for petty reasons- Music, pins, wrong science, gay crew members,... Lol. It's science fiction so let's just all lay back and enjoy the episode for what it's worth: Fun entertainment.
Tue, Oct 23, 2012, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
I think the episode is quite good. Quite interesting, actually. The possibility that someone, in this case an alien species, intrudes on other peoples' dreams is an interesting idea, and I'd say it's not so farfetched. I don't think it "borders on fantasy", as the the reviewer suggests. Dream telepathy is something that has been tried by people and examined in experiments. People often tend to dismiss something as impossible if it's not in accordance with what they know or are capable to imagine.

I agree, however, that the motivation of the aliens appears somewhat simplistic and not
very intriguing. But, hey, who knows, maybe they are just xenophobic. That would largely
explain their behavior and actions. We had something like this before in Star Trek.
Check out the TNG episode "Clues".

But what doesn't make any sense in this episode (Waking Moments) is that the Doctor - after he's been given a direct order by Chakotay to fire photon torpedoes from the bridge and *kill* him and other sleeping aliens on the planet - simply agrees to execute this order, without even a slight protest. This really makes no sense. Because the Doctor would definitely be prevented from doing that by the Hippocratic oath, which
namely says 'do no harm'. You simply can't kill. Period. This would be murder, and I'm sure his ethical subroutines wouldn't allow him to go along with this even if he wanted to. It would be illogical and unethical for Doc to do that, even if it meant saving the crew (by the way, we don't really know if this is the only way to save the crew... Doc's still there, after all). Chakotay, obviously, didn't alter the EMH in any way, so Doc agreeing wholeheartedly to obliterate him and the aliens (sentient lifeforms!) is very much out
of character, not to mention illogical. This, to me, is a major flaw in logic. But I guess there was no time in this episode to deal with Doc's ethical dilemmas. :)
Jo Jo Meastro
Sun, Apr 14, 2013, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
I'm back to watching Voyager after taking a bit of a break from it. I'll probably be trying to finish season 4 a bit sooner than I normally would to tie it up before my 2 week holiday at the end of this month. I'll comment as I go if I feel I might have anything to add or contribute.

Anyways, I found this episode to be a little too average. I agree with the review with how mundane it is that the plot takes a standard alien take-over route. The set-up seemed to promise something much more distinctive and interesting. But there is enough character moments, good ideas and fun even if it stays settled firmly on average.

I also agree with Micheal a few comments up about Chakotays' characterisation being far too heavy handed with the Native American stuff. And this is coming from someone who holds a keen interest in Native Americans! Its a bit silly and unrealistic for Chakotay to be so rigidly defined by his heritage that its pretty much hs only defining feature. The writers need to inject more of a distinct personality into him and work on devoloping him in more satisfying ways so that he's not so bland and repetitive. His heritage can still remain an important part of who he is, without it becoming close to the ONLY thing about him. The novelty of having Native American culture in such a tech-filled sci-fi environment has run its course. Time for something new from Chakotay, I'd say.

To stargazer, I noticed that problem too with the Doctors' non-reaction to being ordered to basically kill a load of people. The only thing I can think of is that there was an off-screen conversation between Chakotay and the Doctor explaining this is playing the aliens' bluff rather than a real intention to harm them (with Chakotay adding something like "if the aliens still don't want to play ball, give them a 'warning shot' to try to convince them to give up the ghost!"). That's the way I try to rationalize it. I guess this would take some excitement out of the climax so maybe this is why the writers didn't bother to iron this out.

To conclude, before I go too much off-track, I'd give this episode a 2.5/4 as well. It's got some good moments, but it's just a bit too standard given its promising set-up.
Lt. Yarko
Sat, Jun 29, 2013, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
>>the lame answer supplied seems to be, "They'd commandeer the starship Voyager for no discernible purpose."

They couldn't even have done that. All they could have done was starve the crew to death. I guess they just really hate awake people.

The senselessness of the enemy species aside, it was a fun episode. I loved how the entire crew was all bunched up to laugh at Tuvok when he walked onto the bridge, and I loved when Seven started kicking Harry's a$$. Too funny.

I fail to see how Harry having a dream about an attractive woman makes him gay. I have had many such dreams and I am not gay. Actually, I find that comment a bit offensive. So what if Harry is gay?
Lt. Yarko
Sat, Jun 29, 2013, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
I just figured out the Kim being gay thing. I get it now. Never mind. :)
Sun, Jul 7, 2013, 12:34am (UTC -5)
@ Lt Yarko:

Actually Ensign Kim "gets it too..."

Actor Garrett Wang IS gay in the "real world."

So, another gay asian in Star Trek... first George Takei and now Garrett Wang....hmmm....a pattern?
Fri, Nov 8, 2013, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
So ... all actors of Asian origin in Star Trek is gay?

Linda Park from "Enterprise" is gay? That just put some images in my mind that totally saved my day ... thank you!

PS: W`ho cares anyway? Aren't we past that already?
Tue, Apr 15, 2014, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
I actually think this is episode is quite good. Sure, not really deep, good quality entertainment. Fun, funny, and with a fresh way to deal with the mind control, parallel reality stuff. Just for that summed to the good dialogues, it deserves more than 2.5 stars in my perspective.
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 8:46pm (UTC -5)
Some memorable character moments are the sole bright spot in an otherwise trite and tired haze of mundane plot mechanics. I would be able to work with the high-concept idea of the aliens themselves if they weren't written as so severely one-dimensional and lacking in any form of motivation whatsoever. Since the character moments are so directly effected by the plot; they in turn unfortunately lose their luster. However, there is entertainment value to be had here and the direction ably moves things along.

Watchable enough overall but also lacking.

2 stars.
Sun, Aug 31, 2014, 12:48pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode. The Only thing I don't understand is why the alians need those stasis chambers. or do they usually live being awake and just use stasis pods now, so they can attack people.
Sun, Nov 9, 2014, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
well this takes 8 out of 19 for effort ( for trying to do something different) but only 3 out of ten for the result! It reminds me of the silly episodes of TOS's season 3.
Sun, Nov 9, 2014, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
i meant 8 out of 10!!!
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed the episode. It's not very deep or thought provoking but there are entertaining moments with Tuvok on the bridge and Chakotay trying to figure out what is real. I agree with Jammer's critique that the alien's motivations for doing this are a bit thin. Other than that, I like the ensemble nature of this episode.
Tue, Oct 27, 2015, 9:54am (UTC -5)
"Because they can" must be the reason Jammer. :-)

They reused EVERYTHING while filming trek, so I'm not surprised they used DS9 music here. I don't remember it being so blatant before though.

Good episode. I like your review Jammer and agree.

2.5 stars.
Thu, Nov 12, 2015, 9:00pm (UTC -5)
Yes, this was more or less a filler episode. But there's nothing wrong with filler episodes as long as they are entertaining enough and logically consistent, and I think this episode works in both cases.

I liked the way the lucid dreaming worked. The slightly vague unreality of the dreamworld (although I think they could have done more there) helped, as did the appearance of the moon. I knew it was coming, but even then it still works whenever Chakotay sees it. His paranoia afterwards is pretty real as well. One particularly thing I thought was clever was that the beginning of the dream. The original plan, to simply fly past a certain world, doesn't really make much sense. I mean, they've been what, 5 light years away from it, and as soon as they pass that particular planet they all get better? Don't they need to go, I don't know, another 5 light years further along? But then, you discover they are in the dream world. It doesn't have to make sense! The Voyager writer's dream...

I also liked the way they tried to deal with everything on the real and fake Voyager. The Doctor giving everyone amphetamines to stay awake was smart, but just as smart was that it wasn't a long term solution (too bad they couldn't create an REM-dampening situation like in Night Terrors). His work to keep Chakotay awake afterwards was smart too. Also, I liked how Janeway and the crew dealt with the matter after Chakotay woke up. They didn't immediately assume they were dreaming, but it stayed in the back of Janeway's head long enough that, when things started to turn weird, she took a risk in assuming that it was a dream. Basically, all the characters were smart here, so I have nothing to complain about.

Well, yeah, the aliens are stupid. It is unfortunate; chances are, TNG would find a way to give the aliens a logical reason to do everything they were doing. And generally, the seemingly hard-headed aliens would actually turn around and not be hard-headed after all. Suppose, for example, if they ripped off Clues. As the aliens say, they are used to getting smacked around by waking peoples, so control others in their dreams. But it isn't over any malice. The whole dream of Voyager being taken over is their plan; their plan is to "lose" in the dreamworld. The Voyager crew would think the sleepy aliens are dead, wake up in some manner so that they don't suspect they were in a dream, and move on. That way, the sleepy aliens would be safe. And this way, the sleepy aliens would learn about the other aliens in a safe manner. Some of the plot may need to be rearranged to serve this, but at least it wouldn't be the typical brain damaged fools as usual. We could maybe even see the alien's viewpoints in this. Instead, we have an artificial danger and mustache twirling villains!

But personally, it was a pleasant enough diversion, so I can't complain too much.

Oh, and jokes aside, someone on the writing staff really has it in for Harry Kim. The nightmares make sense given the characters' personalities. Janeway is obsessed with protecting her crew; her nightmare is failing them. Tuvok represses his emotions; he dreams of being exposed. Chakotay struggles with his family and his struggles with pacifism, Tom loves being a pilot. So Harry's greatest nightmare is... the thing he was aiming for for the first half of the season. That guy's got problems. And to dig in the knife, the writers decided that Seven's distraction... is to beat up Kim.

By the way, I didn't know the music was recycled, but I thought it worked pretty well in this episode. The scene revealing the cave of sleepers in particular worked well I thought.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
Definite signs of life in the series as a whole recently after a slow start. Yes, it's a hoary old premise, but much like the last episode this is given a really fresh and inventive spin and makes for a highly entertaining hour. The repeated misdirections are really well handled and the slightly off-kilter atmosphere helps to create the right mood. Gorgeous shot of the cavern too - and look, lens flare!

On the debit side the ending isn't the strongest, but I enjoyed this one a lot. 3.5 stars.
Sun, Jul 3, 2016, 7:58am (UTC -5)
Harry Kim - one of worst characters of all times on TV, and in this episode it is obvious. Garrett Wang is simply unable to act anything.
Sat, Aug 27, 2016, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Ah lu7cid dreaming. I've been doing that since I was a kid. I like to turn into a superman when I'm being attacked by monsters. Unfortunately I've also suffered from night terrors since I was a kid. That's where you are fully aware but can't move nor wake up.
Sat, Aug 27, 2016, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
Oh wonderful, it disintegrated into another aliens take the ship episode. No thanks.
Sat, Aug 27, 2016, 6:23pm (UTC -5)
Wait a minute, dream within a dream. Almost turned it off.
Good show. (***)
Sun, Nov 6, 2016, 8:41am (UTC -5)
I like this one too. I didn't have too much trouble with the aliens motivation. The alien explained it at the end when he said the voyager crews bodies were wasting away. I took this to mean that their only intention was to kill the crew, and keeping them dreaming until they died was the method. I don't think they had any interest in the ship at all. The alien even said as much in chakotay's first conversation with him. He said that beings from the waking world had oppressed them for too long and that they were fighting back.

The one thing that really bothered me is that the crew can so easily escape from captivity (even if it is in the dream voyager). There really doesn't seem to be many intelligent species in the delta quadrant...
Wed, Jan 18, 2017, 4:31am (UTC -5)
The music isn't directly ripping off "Sacrifice of Angels." It's more that Bell's scores pretty much all sound identical because he uses the same orchestrations and the same chord progressions ad nauseam. To his credit, there are times when he's able to arrange those factors in a way that greatly benefits the episodes he scored (like DS9's "Covenant") but even so, he pretty much used up all his tricks early on. He was starting to expand his sound a bit in Enterprise (like the rest of the composers) but he left the show in season 2 before we got a chance to hear him tear lose in the Xindi arc.
Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 1:57am (UTC -5)
@Michael: 'The only thing that really annoyed me was Chakotay with his "Acushla moya, we're far away from the buffalo" or whatever crap.'

LOL! Best comment on Jammer's I have to say, I was howling with laughter.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode, thought it was a lot of fun. If I didn't know better I would have thought that it was written by Brannon Braga: the very surrealist atmosphere, the dream within a dream, lots of symbols etc. I thought it was executed in a very compelling manner and the alien-of-the-week was suitably creepy.

The only thing I found slightly out of character was Chakotay's order to simply annihilate all the aliens. It seemed very un-Starfleet to me - granted, I know he's ex Maquis, rather, and sleep deprived/ under an incredible amount of stress at that, but it still seemed a bit odd. I also really enjoyed the end scene, where everyone is still up at that ungodly hour and has decided to hang out at the mess hall.
Wed, Jul 19, 2017, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
3 stars

I thought it was pretty entertaining. I enjoyed it with its creepy atmosphere and the crew working together. Fun!
William B
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 9:52am (UTC -5)
With this ep, on the other hand, I feel like there is very little to say. The only attempt to make the nightmares character-specific was in the teaser, and even there we only reiterated some common fears of the characters (of humiliation, Tuvok; of her crew dying because of her, Janeway; of...Seven making out with him? that's a nightmare?, Harry; and of...flying?...not flying well?, Tom) without much development. After that, the episode is only noteworthy for the are-you-in-or-out-of-the-illusion? tricks, and those can be very good (see: Ship in a Bottle, Frame of Mind, Projections) but here are just drawn-out and largely pointless. Maybe a better villain would have helped; these creative genius aliens seemingly take over waking people by putting them into a mass dream state where they...take them over. Great. In fact even on this plot's own terms it's hard to say what the aliens actually want -- they don't actually want to take over Voyager, obviously, because Voyager only finds them when Chakotay wakes himself up and recommends to look for the tech readings, and so what was their goal anyway? Maybe to protect themselves, but how would simply putting the crew into sleep and leaving the ship out there forever not lead to reinforcements coming and eventually someone getting through before sleeping? We get to see sights like Janeway and Tuvok ignoring the phaser blasts of the enemies through sheer Power Of The Mind, but the aliens who live in sleep state are cowed by Janeway and Tuvok's phaser rifles. The episode's climax is so limp that when it cut from Chakotay's threat back to the Doctor's log on the ship, I had assumed initially that it was the Doctor making a "we're three minutes away from the five minute mark and still no word from Commander Chakotay" entry.

On the plus side, I love Seven of Nine's distraction. "ENSIGN KIM, IT IS YOUR FAULT WE HAVE BEEN CAPTURED," in a full "HOW DO IMPERFECT, NON-COLLECTIVIST HUMANOIDS BEHAVE? BY IRRATIONALLY ARGUING!" voice. Perfect. And some of the moon imagery is cool. That's about it. 1.5 stars.
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

Well, I'm somewhat ambivalent about this episode. Some good scenes, some not so good ones. Middle of the road. My thought was, if the aliens didn't invade their sleep, wouldn't they have just flown by without knowing they were there? It didn't seem like they were on their way to that planet or anything, and with them being in caverns, Voyager might not have even noticed them at all. They seemed to be trying to defend themselves from a threat that did not exist...

Perhaps I missed something...

Have a Great Day... RT
Sat, Dec 2, 2017, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
@randomthoughts - That was one of my major problems with the episode as well. No one would even know about the aliens if they hadn't invaded their dreams to begin with.

And I hate episodes where I'm just supposed to 'turn my brain off and go with the flow'. I don't watch Star Trek to turn my brain off. Quite the opposite. I don't want to have to accept the fact that the aliens basically couldn't exist as they are made out to be, and they are doing this for some vague reason, etc. etc. Either have an explanation of how and why things are happening, even if it turns out to be a not very good one, or don't put it in the show.

And if the aliens control this dream world, and control what everyone dreams, why would they let them dream they are escaping? If they only want to keep them there until their real bodies die, maybe have them dream they are locked in cages they can't get out of. Or just dream they are on vacation. IDK. Something, anything but the one thing they don't want them to dream about, which is about how to escape. And why would the aliens even reveal themselves to them in the dream and give themselves away in the first place? It all makes little sense.

Whatever. Bad episode.

1 1/2 stars.
Sat, Jan 6, 2018, 12:57am (UTC -5)
My initial reaction was to say that Jammer was right in his overall rating, and also right in every particular, including both his complaints and the things he liked about it. And then to be surprised by how generous so many other people were in their reaction to the episode.

But I must say the last comment before mine, from Skimmles, was pretty persuasive--and makes me wonder if even Jammer was a little too generous.

BTW, I'm puzzled as to how I saw this episode at all. A couple years ago, I did extensive research (including this site, friends' recommendations, and "best of" lists I found via Google) in order to produce a curated list of the best Voyager episodes, which I have been slowly watching with my wife and daughter.

But after finding this one so "meh", and then seeing Jammer's rating, I went back to look at my original list of episodes--and it wasn't on there. I have added a few here and there over time, but I usually make a note explaining why I added them. Nothing here: it just mysteriously got on the list at some point with no notation. Maybe while I was dream-typing!
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
Pretty fun throughout, aside from some lack of energy in the last two acts (but quite good cast chemistry even there).
Agreed it was disappointing the aliens didn't have any reasonable motive (what with being asleep, they wouldn't even want to take the technology/ship and they could have just, as initially was presented, demanded the ship avoid their territory) but I thought that wasn't too harmful.
Maybe the Doctor was programmed to be able to kill if doing so would be following a just order (though that wouldn't make sense for a temporary/supplemental doctor, maybe that programming was added on later).
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Since it was a few years ago, stargazer is probably not going to see this, but I thought I’d chip in to say that his contention that the Doctor would be prevented by his programming to defy Chuckles’ order to torpedo the bad guys to oblivion because of the Hippocratic oath is incorrect.

Whilst it’s true that the principle of “first do no harm” applies to doctors, it only relates to their treatment of patients. To make a tortured and deliberately ridiculous analogy, imagine a doctor being attacked by an intruder into his home. Do you think he’s going to let himself get clubbed in the face because his medical degree stops him from defending himself from a beating? Of course not. Furthermore, doctors in contemporary military services are both perfectly entitled and trained to use lethal force in times of war.

In this scenario, Voyager’s crew are being attacked by hostile aliens. The Doctor’s responsibility is to his crew, by design. He is on a (mildly) military vessel. The Hippocratic Oath doesn’t apply. It’s conceivable that he might have been programmed not to kill in some sort of Asimov inspired 3-laws kind of way, but any such programming would have nothing to do with his position as a doctor.
Wed, May 30, 2018, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
This one is very similar to "Scientific Method" -- fighting an alien invasion from some other realm whether it is phase-shifted or, in this case, dreams. Not a bad premise but totally implausible. So if these new villains do everything in the sleep realm, is that truly real? I guess the threat is that the awake body eventually dies but what about the ship -- it's not in the dream realm... How would the aliens take over Voyager?

The other big issue I have here is that what should be an important action is just skipped over and we are at the episode's coda. So after Chakotay threatens the alien after falling asleep and entering the dream realm (after he wakes up one of them on the planet) then the next thing we know, the aliens' field is being neutralized and the crew are recovering (with bouts of insomnia). This was ridiculous -- we don't even get to see the cardboard aliens acquiesce to Chakotay.

Enough stuff that requires a double take to figure out if it was in a dream or awake. I liked the opener -- the shot of Tuvok walking around (obviously naked) -- it was very weird but unfortunately the episode didn't live up to the promise.

There was one line that was so stupid it made me laugh. This is where (in the dream world) the crew is gathered in some holding area, and Chakotay goes "We need to re-take the ship." No really?? This is almost on par with Troi's "He's frozen." in "Encounter at Farpoint".

The visions of the moon for Chakotay were well done to symbolize when he's in the dream world -- it got hard to keep track of at times. Some interesting dreams for the various crew members that speak to their characters (although Tuvok's might be the exception here).

2 stars for "Waking Moments" -- interesting idea but implausible with some cardboard villains...something becoming all too common with VOY. Really disappointed with how quickly the ending wrapped up. Really seems like VOY will give any idea a try -- this episode is such an example.
Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 1:22am (UTC -5)
Zakalwe, I think you're right, it's not a necessary interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath - although some definitely do interpret it the Oath to cover all actions of a physician, including "off duty". The Oath doesn't actually specify that "not administering poisons" is only to patients (with nobles fearing poisons, and physicians having access to them, it could have been a general stricture)... and of course there are numerous versions of the Oath, and the "Do no harm" bit is certainly not original but quite recent.

Personally I really want to think that the Doctor would not kill, and this apparent willingness bothered me too. In our Star Trek context, the doctors we've seen have been generally unwilling to kill, and certainly would not not unless there was absolutely no choice. McCoy, Crusher, Pulaski, Bashir... they generally didn't even carry weapons in away-team situations. These are not the people you would ask to hold the button while you negotiate a "do this or we all die" situation. I have no trouble believing, with that background, the EMH would be absolutely prevented from killing sentients. And with Chakotay barely staying awake, it would have made more sense to send the doctor down, and leave Chakotay ready to fire with a dead-man switch (ideally connected to a timer to allow in-dream negotiation).
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 1:27am (UTC -5)
Since when does the warp core ever eject when they try to eject it? I can only think of one time in Voyager (so far) when it actually worked. It almost never works in any ST series.
Wed, Sep 19, 2018, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
Oh, I loved this one, if only because I have such a time with dreams. I've had lucid dreams quite a lot of times (though I don't do anything to induced them), and I've also, many times, experienced the phenomenon of thinking I had woken up only to realize I'm still asleep - and how really horrible that is. Never saw it portrayed like this though, and I was riveted.

It was well done and I wasn't surprised at all when we learned Chakotay was still dreaming. We got subtle cues, but because of the numerous times I've been through this in my own sleep, the times I've struggled so much to wake up and to feel certain I was awake (it is awful, I mean awful), I picked up on it right away.

Years ago, I used to experience this so often that I, too, developed insomnia for awhile. I hated to go to sleep for fear of it. It's plain to me the writer had some experience with this also, and got every note right.

Spooky and affecting. I haven't had a "can't wake up, please let me wake up, let me really be awake this time" dream experience in a long time now, though this ep makes me anxious. Because it's almost bedtime.

Sleep tight, Springy. :)

In general an exploration of Reality - what is it, how do we know it, can we ever really be sure enough?
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 3:58am (UTC -5)
JAMMER PLEASE RESPOND--in retrospect, would you agree this episode had a n original premise-- a "collective" dreamworld was very diferent from individual dreams of Troi in Night Terrors and aleins who live out lives in a dream even predates Inception never seen that idea before in Trek or sci-fi..does anyone agree?
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
Harry didn't scream because he was kissing Seven; he screamed because he saw the alien. Though you'd think that space explorers in the twenty-fourth century would innately accept that there are other species that look different from ours and not freak out upon seeing one of them.
Sean Hagins
Wed, Nov 14, 2018, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
A very entertaining episode! I really liked it. I kind of remember it from back in the day, but not very well, so it was a joy seeing how it would turn out
Sleeper Agent
Tue, Aug 20, 2019, 11:55am (UTC -5)
This one combines elements from two classic TNG episodes: "Schisms" and "Frame of Mind", and to that adds it's own spice in form of a Peak Performance Voyager crew. Needless to say it's a slam dunk.

There's not much to complain about really, the story is super solid and keeps on unfolding most elegantly 'til the very end. Mixing in comic relief and action perfectly in what otherwise is a dark and sinister plot. I for one don't think it's very important to have the aliens motive spelled out for the audience - in "Schisms" nobody cared, albeit it was a more mysterious tone to those aliens, but still.

David Bell's music does sound extremely alike his DS9 arrangements, but if it works, it works. I would also like to point out one of the main highlights of this episode, namely the absolutely BEAUTIFUL photography. There were so many gorgeous frames in "Waking Moments" that I lost count half-way in. Even if you don't like this episode it is certainly worth a re-watch just for the shots.

When I watch this I fall in love with Voyager. No way this gets less than 4 shining stars.
Mike C
Mon, Sep 9, 2019, 2:09pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this one. It's nice that while DS9 was doing war, drama, soap, and sitcom, Voyager was still doing the Star Trek sci fi "what if" concept episodes. I love when they realize they're still sleeping.

To answer some questions, the aliens are probably like cats, and sleep most of the time, but still have to get up, work, eat, etc. Then they use their telepathic abilities to commit piracy on passers by.

What are the "pins" on her "engineering jacket"? Well, I assume they are tools, like a stylus, a universal Sonic screwdriver, a laser cutter, perhaps? I walk around work with a pocket knife, a Gerber/Leatherman, pens, and a sharpie. It makes sense for B'elanna to do likewise. In fact, we should see others doing so.

@Brian C
On Voyager, they successfully and deliberately eject the Warp core 3 times on Voyager. They do it in season 1(I don't remember the episode title) but you don't see it. B'elanna does it in season 4's "Day of Honor." And the doctor, posing as B'elanna, ejects it in season 7's "Renaissance Man." In the latter two instances, they show it happening, and it's a pretty cool effect.
Mike C
Mon, Sep 9, 2019, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this one. It's nice that while DS9 was doing war, drama, soap, and sitcom, Voyager was still doing the Star Trek sci fi "what if" concept episodes. I love when they realize they're still sleeping. 2.5 stars plus .5 for Vulcan pajamas

A decent 3 stars

To answer some questions, the aliens are probably like cats, and sleep most of the time, but still have to get up, work, eat, etc. Then they use their telepathic abilities to commit piracy on passers by.

What are the "pins" on her "engineering jacket"? Well, I assume they are tools, like a stylus, a universal Sonic screwdriver, a laser cutter, perhaps? I walk around work with a pocket knife, a Gerber/Leatherman, pens, and a sharpie. It makes sense for B'elanna to do likewise. In fact, we should see others doing so.

@Brian C
On Voyager, they successfully and deliberately eject the Warp core 3 times on Voyager. They do it in season 1(I don't remember the episode title) but you don't see it. B'elanna does it in season 4's "Day of Honor." And the doctor, posing as B'elanna, ejects it in season 7's "Renaissance Man." In the latter two instances, they show it happening, and it's a pretty cool effect.
Sat, Sep 14, 2019, 11:10am (UTC -5)
Neat episode. As well as the Inception parallels, I kinda saw this as a precursor to the ideas of free will and control explored in The Matrix too. There's not a whole lot of depth to this and it's mostly used for cheap thrills, but as it stands, not a bad outing.
Ari Paul
Mon, Oct 21, 2019, 1:47am (UTC -5)
It's a neat episode, but it just falls short. A perfect example of the missed opportunities of this series:

In a nutshell, it's too cynical. Once again the voyager crew outwits an alien adversary and then, sayonara, they're on their way to the next episode. It's a plot driven episode with no emotional weight or moral and it's a shame because these things could have easily been woven in.

At the end, Chakotay should have reasoned with them, explaining that they can't live their lives in paranoia about other people, that not all races are the same, and that they can be friends etc. Outwit and defeat the enemy, and then use it as an opportunity to redeem them and bring humanity to them. Chakotay should have been like: "look, we can kill you all right now, but we won't, because that's not who we are! We come in peace, we mean you no harm! You cannot judge other people to be the same, let's be friends! I love you!" Then the aliens could come back and have one of those little cocktail party things they do in star trek and the final scenes could be the aliens thanking everyone with really happy dreams... each dream is different, except Kim still winds up with seven.

That would be cool.
Sun, Dec 29, 2019, 5:58am (UTC -5)
This episode had a lot of witty dialogue and the direction accentuated the humour. 4 star episode for me
Mon, Dec 30, 2019, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
First half is flawless (the teaser is fantastic), second half stars to drag a little though is still largely compelling and cohesive... but the ending feels so rushed. I wish this had gone through one or two more drafts at the writing stage because it's almost great, certainly one of Bormanis's better efforts. I can't rate it more than 3 stars because of the way it kind of fizzles out in the last act, but it's an atmospheric and memorable episode that (like Worst Case Scenario) could have been an all-time great if it hadn't fallen apart in the final third.
Cody B
Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
An episode that starts out fun and promising but regresses into typical Voyager hum drum. The individual nightmares we get to see from each crew member started out as a good idea and should have been expanded upon even more. This was an opportunity to explore each crew member’s hopes and fears and explore their psychologically in both a fun and intelligent way. Instead the episode runs through their dreams quickly and spends more time on the bad guys of the week being body snatchers. Not the worst episode but overall disappointing considering what could have been.
Mon, May 11, 2020, 9:35am (UTC -5)
This is another fun episode, with a genuinely creepy alien design. I'm glad to see Chakotay still getting to be the lead character in some of these stories, because I had the impression that he had largely faded into the background by this point, but it just goes to show how the memory cheats. The "is it real or still a dream" fakeouts are nicely done as well. The humor works well (Tuvok going to the bridge naked, Seven's "resistance is futile" when making a move on Harry, etc.) I can't say I have any complaints, this is just a solid adventure story with a creative adversary. The image with all the aliens sleeping in the cavern is very nicely done. I like this one quite a bit.
Sarjenka's Brother
Fri, Jun 19, 2020, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
Typically, I'm not a fan of "Is it real or not?" Trek episodes.

But for a show of this type, it was pretty good. And I'm rather fascinated with dreams, so the lucid dreaming part was enjoyable.

The intro was the best part.
Tue, Aug 11, 2020, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
This episode makes no sense with the doctor around. He has his mobile emitter, and thus can (a) keep the crew alive indefinitely, (b) go down to the planet and spend a month figuring out how to turn off the field (Chakotay should never have gone, and if he did, why did the doctor only give him one dose of the medicine - were the replicators out of order??)

I know there are a lot of plot holes in episodes to make them work, but they should have at least found a way to technobabble the doctors abilities away. This one needed way too much stupidity to make work. Instead it’s another Chakotay episode bordering on spirituality. Speaking of which, how is it that not a single crew member can withstand the field, but Chakotay can resist it for most of the episode?
Tue, Aug 18, 2020, 5:08am (UTC -5)
I liked this one a lot.

An interesting premiss, enough science, enough fiction, some light relief, not too much pointless talkie-talkie between characters no-one cares about.
Peter H
Tue, Feb 23, 2021, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
The more I watch this show the more I appreciate Tukok and Janeway's relationship. Tuvok genuinely loses his temper and practically has a full on emotional outburst when Janeway returns from the dream warp core explosion unharmed.

I never really appreciated him first time round, but to me now he's the secret star of the show. From the scene in Scientific Method where he comforts Janeway by saying he'll "share a glass of wine" with her, to their tender "goodbye" In year of Hell Part 2, to all the way back in Season 1 where he takes part in illicit behaviour to spare Janeway from making an uncomfortable ethical decision.

I'm always desperate to know what he'll say and do next!
Thu, Apr 8, 2021, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
I loved this ep. So unsettling, never knowing is it real or a dream. I started to dread the moon from this lol. ***

@Peter H I agree, Tuvok is MVP, and I too enjoy his subtle but warm friendship with Janeway, in way I never did when I watched and re-watched series on the telly. Tim Russ is excellent in portraying Tuvok, he is my favourite Vulcan :-)
Sun, Jun 6, 2021, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
God that entire comment was absolutely shite. That's what happens when you're ill. Let's try again. Please delete the two above.
Good episode. very good.

I'd have liked one more scene with the moon, though - at the very end. Chakotay is summoned to the Bridge and is horrified to see that the moon is on the viewscreen. Lettering appears to say "To be continued..." and then disappears with the bridge crew laughing at him (and us indirectly) because it's just a prank.

I think that could have proven very amusing and disorientating at the same time.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
While not a bad episode by any means, "Waking Moments" was somewhat too layered, and left me lying by the side of the road under the wreckage of my proverbial bicycle, somewhat dazed. It had an odd hypnotic effect on me.... I actually fell asleep during it...four or five times.

However, since I have grown to like the character of Chakotay, it was a pleasant watch, even though I had to start it over several times. I agree with earlier commenters in liking the dream sequences in the teaser and the moon's image as a device to help Chakotay recognize the unreality of a given moment. I think 3 stars seems justfied. It suffered only from the shallow quality of the aliens and their poorly developed motivations.
Michael Miller
Wed, Oct 13, 2021, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Interesting episode, but if the Neurogenic field was causing the EXACT same brain wave pattern in everyone, then how could they have been experiencing the same thing from different point of views? Just the difference in POVs should have slightly altered the brain wave patterns 🧠 and they wouldn't have all been perfectly identical!
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
For those distracted by Chakotay's "hold the mayo, I'm far from the buffalo wings" stuff, the reason his "Native American" stuff is so cringey stems largely from the producers hiring "Jamake Highwater", a faaaake American Indian, and this was well enough known at the time that they should have caught that.
Wed, Jul 27, 2022, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
The aliens made the shared dream a ship takeover scenario so that the VOY crew would not suspect they were dreaming. If the aliens used a different dream scape instead, it would become obvious.

A "neurogenic field" permeating all of space seems implausible. The aliens being asleep indefinitely in some cavern, with no explanation how *their* bodies aren't withering away, was also implausible. Also... why evolve at all to be this way?

Besides that, the aliens were so one-dimensional. If they were that xenophobic and reclusive, then why reveal themselves at all? Why not just live in their societal dream world on an obscure planet that nobody knows/cares about? Why project into dreams? It just doesn't add up.

I liked the creativity of this episode. We got to see things on Star Trek that we don't normally see, like people's embarrassing dreams! They just didn't go deep enough with it.
Thu, Mar 23, 2023, 2:05pm (UTC -5)
Probably not the first to say this but in what fresh hell does being taken by 7 of 9 possibly count as a nightmare??? God damn, if she threw me against the wall of the jeffries tube and told me resistance is futile, my excitement would probably slice a rift in the space time continuum!!!
Tue, Apr 25, 2023, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Regarding 7 and Kim. I realise that in my youth I was quite similar to Harry. A little shy, dutyful and would never dream of taking advantage of a women. Furthermore, such determenis kan be intimidating. I did in fact experience a few similar situations and they were not pleasent. Ok partly because the failing resemblance with Jeri Ryan.

I join the club of those finding this episode neat and enjoyable. Good standalone. To those who are disturbed by loopholes and illogical science etc. Let's start with the Warp theory ....
Paul Johnson
Thu, Jun 1, 2023, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
I wonder at what point the aliens in the cave eat. Wouldn't they have to wake up at some point To do that?

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.