Star Trek: Voyager


3 stars.

Air date: 2/10/1999
Teleplay by Robert J. Doherty
Story by Bill Prady
Directed by Cliff Bole

"I'm something of a renaissance EMH." — Doc, on his multi-skills

Review Text

Nutshell: Three words: Archetypes done entertainingly.

"Bliss" probably shouldn't be half as good as it is. Here's a story involving a lifetime's worth of clichés borrowed from Voyager standbys, cinema archetypes, and general derivatives of derivatives. How many different standbys can we work into a single episode? Let me count the ways.

  1. Voyager finds an anomaly that appears to be a wormhole offering A Way Home™. Naturally, this supposed way home is not at all what it appears to be.
  2. The ship is Threatened With Destruction™ by said anomaly.
  3. A lone crewman, in this case Seven of Nine, our former-Borg heroine, finds herself The Only Hope™ for preventing said ship's destruction.
  4. The Kid™, Naomi Wildman (note how Seven will never use her first name without the last name or vice versa; it's a noun whose existence requires both words), is one of the few left who is useful to Seven, and provides the heroine with assistance.
  5. We have The Beast™, a monster that will eat you, or in this case your entire starship, a basic standby for science fiction from here to eons before I can remember, I'm sure.
  6. We have The Alien Helper of the Week™, who also serves as the Cinema Archetype of the Week™—a character inspired by Quint from Jaws, and cheerfully plugged into the story as an expert on said monster. He even gets A Sobering Monologue About the Past™ that, although nowhere near as good as Quint's USS Indianapolis monologue, is meant to provide the character with a depth explaining his obsession.
  7. Lastly, in a sentiment that almost pokes fun at the series itself, we have nearly every character in the episode existing as a shallower version of themselves, which is explained by the Weird Unexplainable Properties™ emanating from The Beast, which affects the crew's judgment and, with bait that looks like A Way Home, lures them into entering the belly of The Beast.

Now before anyone accuses me of being harsh and cruel and cynical and unfair toward this cheerful assemblage of reliably derivative puzzle pieces, let me hasten to add that I liked this episode. I really did. It's "comfort" entertainment done well. Given the extent of the recyclical nature of the storyline, common sense predicts I would resist this episode. But given the execution, resistance was futile. (I know, I know—that was obvious. But it was too hard to pass up. If the episode can use clichés, why can't I?)

And before anyone accuses me of being too generous and forgiving and shallow and blind to criticize an episode that's hollow and pointless, let me say that some stories need not necessarily be original or thoughtful or dramatically important to be worthwhile. It simply needs to know what it is and do what it does well. Ultimately, either it works for you or it doesn't.

Somehow, "Bliss" knows exactly what it is, and although it doesn't begin to challenge any of its clichés (because it needs them for the story to work), it does have the sense to embrace the lunacy (and sometimes the banality) of its plot pieces rather than succumbing to them. It's weirdly clever about how it does what it does. It's just manipulative enough to explain away the usual criticisms I would have with such a plot, yet not too manipulative as to feel like an audience insulter.

A big reason for this is because it tips off the audience in advance that it knows where it's going. For example, The Way Home—which we know from the first scene (because the story shows us) is actually a trap—is greeted not with the credulity on the part of the Voyager crew, but with instant skepticism. ("What's wrong with this picture?" Janeway says immediately.) But then, a few scenes later, Janeway's attitude pulls a 180, and the whole crew is acting strange. This set off alarms in my on-board mental plot analyzer, but because it also set off alarms for Seven—who sees the entire crew falling for what is obviously a deception—it's perfectly all right.

In a way, the story resembles a sort of conspiracy against Seven, who, as the only member of the crew thinking objectively, finds herself sabotaged at every turn by the other crew members, who attempt to undermine her efforts to approach the situation with caution.

I liked the way the episode approached this idea. We can see the progress Seven attempts to make, but we also see the mindset of the rest of the crew, which is under some weird spell projected by The Beast.

Letters from Starfleet apparently come trickling through the wormhole, and everything is too perfect: The Maquis Voyager crew members are offered a full pardon. Chakotay and Paris are offered great opportunities. Janeway's old fiance may have become available again. Torres believes the Maquis are still alive. Yet no one can see through the trap; it has all become a weird sort of intoxication that can't be denied. And as the crew is certain they're headed straight for Earth, we see goofily exaggerated grins on the faces of Janeway, Paris, Kim—which is done in a strangely surreal way that borders on mild self-referential mockery. ("We're getting home! Again!" Well, no, of course you aren't.)

The way Janeway, Chakotay, and Tuvok constantly undermine Seven's attempts to stop the ship from heading into this "wormhole" is interesting, with a subtle underlying sense of humor. They do so with tricks that have the pretense of having "good reason"—and we can also see that they believe everything they're telling Seven, even though Seven can see every one of their actions threatens to shut down her solo resistance operation.

Along the way, Seven recruits The Kid, which is good for some lighthearted fun, including a scene where Seven explains to Naomi how to sustain a force field by blocking commands coming through from the bridge. The way Naomi looks to Seven as a role model is one of those weird, quirky sitcom clichés—yet still believable. The Kid befriending the former-Borg is an idea that has always existed at least partially for the "cute" motive, but works fairly well here as a vessel for the plot.

With the whole crew unconscious and only Seven and Doc left to save the ship, the rest of "Bliss" is primarily plot tactics and style. Mission: Escape The Beast before it digests the ship, avoiding its illusionary abilities in the process.

The creature of "Bliss" is a life form inspired by the huge "ameba" in TOS's "The Immunity Syndrome," except that the goal of evolved sensibility here is to give it an upset stomach rather than destroying it. Okay by me.

The alien who offers assistance, with his 39-year vendetta against The Beast, is named Qatai, and is performed by W. Morgan Sheppard in one of those gruff-voiced, scenery-chewing performances that simply is what it is—a cheerful homage to every other character that he resembles. This guy, whose ship is a battered piece of garbage that can barely stay together, and who refuses to say die, is a likably obsessive fellow. So who cares if he's recycled? He's recycled with conviction.

Of course, "Bliss" also has its share of implausible silliness. For one, I find it a little tough to swallow the notion that this creature operates merely on "evolved instinct" yet has the ability to manipulate the thoughts of the crew to such an extent and, further, create environs that set off the ship's computers to alert the crew of such realistic-seeming illusions. It seems a bit magical.

And then, of course, is the usual convenience of one person being able to sustain the entire ship from one station. It makes me wonder if a crew of 100-plus is really even necessary. What do they all do? Never mind; I care not. Any episode where Seven saves the ship, and then afterward tells the captain, "I will file a complete report in the morning, after I have regenerated," is a show that knows where it stands in terms of its pitch. If for no other reason, "Bliss" succeeds simply because it knows what it is and knows better than to take itself too seriously, and plunges ahead with lighthearted whimsy.

Other than that, what is there to say? It's not deep or meaningful, it doesn't have that much to say about the characters, and in the end it really isn't all that plausible. But nor does it intend to be scrutinized. It exists to be simple, straightforward, and pleasantly entertaining. On those levels, it delivers, and does so skillfully.

Next week: Double your Borg quota, double your fun.

Previous episode: Gravity
Next episode: Dark Frontier

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Comment Section

79 comments on this post


    As always good review and I liked this episode too. It was fun, and the stuff between Naomi and Seven was cute. However, there was one thing that made me chuckle. Seven of Nine lives in a cargo bay with phasers and other weapons. Now given past history, one would think that her accessability to weapons would be limited, but there was a phaser for her to use. I guess the crew finally did earn her trust in that short time.

    Solid entertainment and accessible to SF fans and non-SF fans thanks to its themes. One of things I like about "Voyager" is that (admittedly this is anecdotally from people I know that I've chatted with) it's the non-Trekkies favourite Trek precisely because there's a level of comprehensibility built in because of what you call "derivative" but I could call "cultural references." The "Voyager" writers generally erred on the side of the obvious in terms of story and plot. For popular entertainment that is not really a bad thing, even if it's not high art. DS9 may be more satisfying artistically in some ways because of the way its stories and arcs were carried forward throughout a season but it also made it less accessible to non-Trekkies and occasional viewers.

    Very enjoyable story. I quite like Naomi Wildman and it's not often I appreciate a child character (hated Jake Sisko and Wesley Cresher with a passion).

    Regarding the observation whether a crew of +100 plus is really necessary: it seems to me there isn't any need for a crew at all. The AI obviously exists to commandeer a ship since the Doctor has illustrated on numerous occassions that he's able to be adaptive, think creatively and makes decisions on his own. Naturally, Star Trek wouldn't be as interesting if starships would be run by computers.

    nice review, nice episode, always enjoy this one, any episode with a lot of seven and the doctor can not fail

    I agree that the Beast had more powers than could be explained.

    It's the same as in TNG's Devils' Due, where at the end they tried to tidily explain away all of the "parlor tricks" as just so many illusions, while they never explained how she was able to defeat security, cut off intraship communications and affect the "tricks" she made in Picard's quarters, which were more than mere illusions.

    The Doc: "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."
    The "monster expert": "Your ship is being devoured."

    Gotta love the "monster expert's" faux-Australian twang. I guess the Universal Translator does accents now, too.

    How come Naomi Wildman, "subunit of Ensign Samantha Wildman" (hehehe), did not get bewitched by the "beast"? (BTW, that kid is becoming quite annoying: One minute she can pilot a shuttle; the next she's scared of the dark. Give me a break.) How did the "monster expert" escape it? Besides, that guy acts like he couldn't steer a fishing trawler, let alone operate a spaceship.

    The Doc: "Star Fleet is not in the habit of killing life forms." Oh brother... No, let's join hands with the creature and sing Kumbaya instead. But O.K., they manage to escape the creature without killing it (how New Age enlighteningly progressive!), but leave it there for thousands of others to perish in it? *bangs head against the wall* I'd have torpedoed the mofo to smithereens. But then, I'm just a 21st-century hillbilly.

    And finally... - a...MONSTER!?! What next: Narnia?

    Still, a decent episode.

    "But O.K., they manage to escape the creature without killing it (how New Age enlighteningly progressive!), but leave it there for thousands of others to perish in it? *bangs head against the wall* I'd have torpedoed the mofo to smithereens. But then, I'm just a 21st-century hillbilly."

    Point taken, but the closing voiceover has Janeway saying that they deployed some warning buoys.

    ^ But, isn't the Beast mobile? Can't he move away from the buoys? Or eat them?

    Feeling the criticism of readers at this point Jammer? :) I wouldn't worry about it, you can't please everyone. Some want everything to be sunshine and rainbows, others want deep cutting cynicism and deconstruction. I think in the main your reviews are pretty well balanced.

    So the episode... I didn't mind the clichés either. And The Kid (TM) cute factor really works... Naomi was epically cute, as she often is. The miracle growth and ridiculous intelligence thing still needs an explanation, but in any case this is definitely one of the best child actors to grace any Trek. Not that she's been up against much competition with Alexander, Wesley or the vacant staring of Molly "Draw with me daddy" O'Brien!

    I'm glad the crew I.e. Janeway was kept unconscious, leaving the decision making to the Doctor. Janeway would probably be like the Monster Expert, all "what do you mean don't kill it, it's eaten us, fire at will" as per her ruthless nature. Instead we got to see the Starfleet ethics being upheld.

    I also enjoyed the Monster Exper, nice character, and I hope he features again. He's a named guest star so maybe he does.

    The biggest hmmm about this episode is the origin of this creature. And more importantly, why is there only one, and IS there only one?

    And again with the ridiculousness of a deuterium shortage. First in Demon and now here. Deuterium is heavy hydrogen. Crank up the ramscoop and have at.

    And how convenient was it that after 7 shot B'Ehlanna, the other engineers in the room were so slow to react that 7 could leisurely shoot them one by one as they turned around...

    Look how comforatbly everyone collapsed once they entered the "wormhole"...should have been some skulls cracked open...

    I just find it interesting that in Naomi's conversation with Seven she doesn't express any interest in the possibility of finally meeting her father. As a child of two different species, and having grown up her entire life aboard Voyager I can see why Naomi may not have any interest in seeing Earth specifically (although even then you'd think she'd have some interest in seeing the planet of her mother's birth), but how can she not have an interest in finally meeting her father? That conversation would have been a perfect place to have a mention made of that. Oh well.

    And also a missed opportunity by the writers in having Naomi be allowed to use the astro lab all by herself with no supervision. Had Seven not come in I don't think anyone would have checked on her. It would have been nice to see mother and daughter have this conversation together while watching images of Earth.

    Michael asked:
    "How come Naomi Wildman, "subunit of Ensign Samantha Wildman" (hehehe), did not get bewitched by the "beast"? How did the "monster expert" escape it?"

    As far as Naomi is concerned, I assumed that it was for the same reason that Seven was not: neither one of them was interested in going to earth.

    The "monster expert" said at one point that he had developed some immunity to the beast over the years.

    I thought this was a very entertaining episode, btw and agree with Jammer's rating.

    Derivative, formulaic, and predictable, but loads of fun. Another example of why VOY was on a roll at this point during its run. If this had been S3 it probably would have been a dud.

    Plus, Naomi is just so darned cute. She reminds me of my oldest daughter at that age - smart, snappy, emotionally manipulative, and always trying to ingratiate herself to all the "cool" adults. And succeeding.

    I do find it a little vexing, however, that this episode gets 3 stars for being formulaically competent, yet the ambitious moral dilemma/character study, "Latent Image," gets the same rating and only gets a marginal recommendation.

    I think at this point of the series, Jammer started to get a soft spot for Voyager. There was nothing special about the episode, it was just mildly entertaining. If this was season 2. and the 2 characters were Neelix and Kes, Jammer would have given this a 2 star or less episode. One thing that got me was that this was another episode that pretty much featured the Doc and 7of9. seems like they depended on that too much. reminds me of "One."

    also, did it seem to you guys that Janeway had a LOT of makeup on during her scenes? and her smile was utterly creepy.

    Qatai was a great character. I loved the Ahab reference. I was afraid they would just kill him off, but instead they had him turn around and continue to follow his obsession. Nicely done. An entertaining episode.

    I don't agree that the 5th season is the best season of Voyager so far. I feel that the show has become shallow and that the characters become more and more like cardboard cutouts with each passing episode.

    With that out of the way, although this episode had good production value and special effects ("I don't think that's Earth"), the plot was a blatant rehash of several previous offerings, most notably Persistence of Vision.

    I liked the conspiracy theory angle, and wish the writers had played that up and made it a major theme of the episode instead of one plot point. After all, how many episodes have we had to endure in which 7 of 9 betrays the Voyager crew? Too many to count. It would have been cool to see the contrary.

    Likewise, I wish the audience had not been let in on the secret at the beginning of the episode, and instead had only been presented with events from Seven of Nine's POV. (Actually, I missed the first part of the episode the first time around--and seeing Janeway's log where she says the wormhole is an "elaborate deception" was kind of chilling because I didn't know any better. If only the episode had been written that way.)

    It's hard to give this episode a high rating when there were so many others like it. 2.5 from me.

    This was a 2* episode on paper turned into a 3* episode on film because of four charming actors and solid special effects.

    Qatai was a rare treat in a ST:Voy episode with his surly but likable personality. Star Trek is very "open minded" and its protagonists almost always exemplify this trait to an extreme degree so it was fun to have a good guy who was also hateful and bluntly realistic with his answers to Naomi's questions.

    I enjoyed this. love the guest star.

    I found it all too convenient for Naomi and the drone not to be seduced. At first, I fell for their reasons, but why couldn't this telepath show them what THEY desired?
    You mean to tell me the beast can't handle multiple orders?

    example : wouldn't Naomi be under spell too of say, her mom being present in her life(hehe) or being a captain s assistant? No, I guess not. One vast connected dream per bite for the beast.

    Repetitive plot (everyone blacks out, leaving the Doc alone - only this time he had Seven as well). Repetitive anomaly of the week. Repetitive ending. But as Jammer has precisely captured, there is something that makes it sort of good. Quite fun at least.

    Maybe it was the grouping of good acting, just as others have said above. Anyway, surprisingly enjoyable. Of course, though, there were other episodes in this very same season that deserved 3 stars more than this and did not get them.

    Much of the relevant points about this episode have already been covered. It's a fun and engrossing story, blending Moby Dick, Jonah and the Whale, Jaws, and a number of other tales and cliches. Interesting that "Captain Ahab" Qatai survived the ending; usually characters of that archetype die or are ruined by the final act as an allegory on the futility of pursuing obsession. I was expecting him to sacrifice himself to get Voyager out, dying happily in the knowledge that he had given his life to deny his hated nemesis a meal.

    There are, however, two major plot holes here:

    1) Like Jammer, I can't sign on to the notion that this creature isn't sentient. Reading the minds of an entire crew of intelligent life forms and crafting pleasing fantasies based on the information you find there isn't something you can do without complex, reasoned thought. I understand that the writers had to address the issue of the creature's intelligence, and I get that they didn't want it to be smart. It would elevate Qatai's Ahab-style obsession to the more dignified level of a genuine rivalry, and of course it would raise the thorny issue of the creature's moral awareness, rather than keeping it a dumb beast that doesn't even understand that a survivor of one of its feeding attacks harbors personal hatred for it. In short, it would rip the soul out of the show's primary guest character and introduce complications that don't work to the story's benefit. But at least poor Moby Dick was just swimming around randomly, looking to eat; an unintelligent creature's ability to intelligently mess with people's heads severely strains credulity.

    2) Ok, so I can accept that Seven of Nine is immune to the creature's influence. She's a former Borg drone who isn't even 100% sure she doesn't want to rejoin the Collective, and while there she literally had no individual wants at all. So it's believable that none of the wants which may have developed since she left are strong enough to fall prey to Moby Mindreader. I like how the beast even gave it the old college try by throwing the letter from her aunt at her, and failed, only then seeking to KO her when it became clear she wasn't going to play ball. The message being that even if you had the power to root around inside Seven's head and read her emotions directly, the one thing you'd find that she longs for more than any other is to have a family, and even that ranks under "meh" for her. But none of this should apply to the little subunit. Naomi is a child, and children are both gullible and possessed of intense, simplistic desires. The creature probably could have gotten her on-board by telling her the alpha quadrant was full of puppies and candy. Instead, so far as we're shown, it didn't even try. And unlike with #1, I'm not sure why. The Seven/Naomi interaction was certainly cute, but hardly essential to the story. Naomi's role could have been entirely filled by the Doctor with no ill effect. Totally glaring and unnecessary plot hole.

    But, I don't mean to hate. As I said, it was a good episode, and deserves its 3 stars.

    A few things that bothered me:
    -Apparently tying control of helm, ops and tactical into one console is not only possible, but also very easy as Doc who made that happen. Why do they even need several people at several consoles if it's so easily rolled into one?
    -I get that the monster/alien couldn't manipulate Seven and Naomi's desire to go to Earth, but couldn't he manipulate them some other way? Show them something they wanted to see and reach more then anything. But I suppose that would have required some creativity on the writer's part, because what exactly do Seven and Naomi want? At least Doc's immunity makes sense.
    -Speaking of mind manipulation, why doesn't Doc say anything after Seven believes she's been expelled from the inside of the alien when she hasn't been. The alien can't manipulate Doc. Just looking out the fucking windown should have told him they were still inside. Yet he believes they succeed as well. Make up your mind, Voyager. He's either immune or he's not.
    -What exactly did Naomi do again? Which part of her not being manpulated by the alien was usefull? She woke up Seven after Janeway had knocked her out. That's pretty much it. That's the only thing Naomi contributed. Other then that she just dumbed a few technobabble lines down and provided unneeded moral support. This entire episode could have easily done without her. I don't dislike Naomi or anything (I actually rather like her) but that doesn't mean she belongs in episodes where she does not contribute anything meaningfull.

    I don't know. I just wasn't feeling this episode. Another anomaly. Another way home. Another Voyager is in danger premise. Another Seven saves the day episode. Another Doc is immune to plot elements of the episode because he's not organic twist.
    Just feels like this is a rehash of a rehash. It's quite boring, to be honest. Didn't like it. Even the 'monster slayer' felt kind of flat and unconvincing. Another selfcontainted, easily forgotten episode with no repercussions for future times.

    One thing I can take away from reading all these comments sections is that Michael had serious issues.

    This creature was said to be what, two hundred thousand years old or something like that? How does it survive solely on eating star ships? I wouldn't think it would encounter that many of them and how did its species evolve in the first place considering at some point there wouldn't have been any ships to eat? Also how can it live on something so relatively tiny? Wouldn't it get much more by eating larger objects like asteroids? I guess were not supposed to question it though. It's just a space monster, simple as that.

    I still enjoyed the episode though and surprisingly it was one that I have never seen until tonight (despite watching Voyager since the 90s and having Netflix for two years). I'm not sure how I kept missing it.

    I'm new to the trekkie world. Although all of you trekkie are missing a key point that must be said....

    That monster be it 200,000 years old. Has devoted billions of people by now. The fact that they did not destroy it being it will defiantly out live them. Is obserd. I'm really upset about that. The monster hunter said let's kill it. That idea lasted 2 seconds like it's not the only option. Omg. These liberal hack jobs really did a number on this episode.

    Picard would of killed it. But nooooo. This monster flawed in creation. Be it an ameoba. Whatever. The answer was simple kill the monster not have the ship regurtated. I'm surprised no one's else saw how quickly the monster hunter after that 39 year vindeta let his passion escape him. What a episode

    Voyager gets swallowed by a telepathic space slug and Seven and Naomi and the Doc save the day with the help of Quint from Jaws. And that's basically it. Yes, it is absolutely the repository of every cliche you could possible imagine - but that doesn't forgive being slow and, dare I say it, dull.

    On the positive side Naomi (who remains impossibly cute) and Seven continue their good rapport. But only 2 stars.

    I thought the final image of the monster hunter flying back into the mouth of the beast was very neat and tied in with the Doc's references to Moby-Dick. He wasn't immune to the psychic effects after all. It was like an addiction. I think the suggestion was that all his apparent efforts to kill the damn thing were only leading to self-destruction. Good episode.

    Love W. Morgan Sheppard. Loved him in BAB5, Star Trek 2009, The Undiscovered Country, Seaquest and probably 100 other things I've failed to type here. Very unique voice and he can ham it up with the best of them.

    Someone above asked why Samantha was not effected by this monster. My answer is she has never been to Earth so Voyager is her home. Where they are going isn't nearly as important to her as the rest of the crew.

    Once again we get the 7/Sub-Unit pairing. Very enjoyable once again. This little gal can sell a part.

    I always think of Farscape's "escape the belly of the beast" episode 'Green Eyed Monster' when I watch this one. Not the emotional punch though.

    I agree with Jammer. This episode does what it does well.

    3 stars from me.

    oh oh a wormhole. Somebody tell Gilligan it's a ploy.
    The good: The ploy is exposed to the audience early enough.
    The bad: It's the old sour the milk routine used on sttng (**)

    Agree: 3 stars. Very enjoyable

    Whilst I agree with Jammer's rating (and usually do) I think he's being a little harsh in his criticism of voyager writers trotting out the old Trek staples. The reason they are staples is that they usually work, and I don't think voyager is any more prone to using them than any other Trek iteration. I love an original idea as much as the next guy but when you're making 26 episodes for 7 seasons I don't expect constant innovation. I just expect them to execute well... And they did that with this episode.

    Voyager's on a bit of a roll here...

    It's rare to see a guest character in Trek that is both wizened and gruff but also friendly and helpful. And the actor really shined in it.

    Neelix's fantasy was to be sent to a planet where the sentient beings are quadrupeds? What kind of fetishes is he into?

    All I can say is I wish this creature would try to eat Tin Man. We'd see how far he'd get pretty quickly.

    I agree with Qatai. It's a monster. That's the only way its abilities can work, like manipulating the crew to take the doctor offline. He even says so.

    "For one, I find it a little tough to swallow the notion that this creature operates merely on "evolved instinct" yet has the ability to manipulate the thoughts of the crew to such an extent and, further, create environs that set off the ship's computers to alert the crew of such realistic-seeming illusions. It seems a bit magical."

    I woulkd be of the same opinion, but not after reading "Blindsight", by Petter Watts. He makes a pretty strong characterization of very intelligent creatures but lacking sentience. It's a weird but fascinating notion, and I find it amazing how this episode toyed with it in a single, non-consequential phrase.

    There have been seldom few Voyager episodes I have given a 9 to, and fewer still that I felt like giving a 10—but I am sure this one is deserving. It may actually be the most well written Voyager episode. The pacing is perfect, the acting is good (I know the guest star from Babylon 5, where he also did a great job), the story is very good, and the writing is well above average. Apart from some very minor gripes, not worth mentioning, this is a fun and well made caper.

    It's made even better by some witty and well thought-out lines:

    "This is a sick bay, not an arsenal."
    "I am a doctor, not a dragon slayer."
    "Oh, he's intelligent all right. Smart enough to fool your crew into taking YOU offline."
    "She doesn't want to. They never want to."
    "An Ishmael to your Ahab? No, thank you."

    and my personal favourite:

    -Please state the nature of the medical emergency.
    -Your ship is being devoured; I'd say that's an emergency!

    Come on, how many good lines do you want in one episode? Especially considering this is Voyager.


    Also, what others seem to have missed is how the episode asks you to think about reality, and what is or is not real. On how wants can sometimes override logic or reality. Maybe the best parts of this episode are too subtle for most people, but I appreciated it. Especially like Outer Limit type stories, too.

    1) Like Jammer, I can't sign on to the notion that this creature isn't sentient.

    The episode doesn't say it isn't. The doctor says he can't detect it, but the Beast hunter disagrees with the doctor entirely. It's left open-ended.

    Naomi is a child, and children are both gullible and possessed of intense, simplistic desires.

    That's not the point the episode makes. Again, it leaves the jargon and reasoning to your imagination. Perhaps younger people are more immune? Or different species have different immunity? There's no way you can make that line of reasoning on what we are given. But, from what we do get, it's heavily implied that the creature can only trick based on immediate desires, and those desires have to be great in order to be seducing enough to control a person. Naomi does not have any overwhelming desires - and certainly not the mass hysteria of getting back to Earth, which doomed the crew. The episode cleverly shows that even Seven is succumbing to the control when the desire to leave is great. And that's despite her being Borg.

    Whichever way you look at it, the writer(s) of this episode spent time thinking about these things. Usually, especially with Voyager, they clearly did not.

    2 stars thumbs down

    As far as action adventure outings with a sci fi premise this particular episode doesn't work. It's actually pretty flat.

    Took half the show until we got to understand what the wormhole actually was and what it was doing to the crew. So the first half of the show dragged a bit for me, no need to go through almost every crew member seeing their dreams come true, seeing sensors providing misleading readings etc.

    Overall, not a huge fan of "Bliss" -- it plays kind of like a fairytale and I just have trouble suspending my disbelief for a creature like TOS's "The Immunity Syndrome" being able to toy so effectively and deceive nearly an entire starship. That's a bit much. This episode is nothing compared to TOS's giant space amoeba episode.

    What is good about "Bliss" is it's a 7 of 9 episode and these tend to work pretty well for me. The connection between her and the little girl is cliche but I don't mind it.

    As for our friendly alien of the week, yes he is a crusty old solitary dude like so many we've seen before. Not sure why he heads back into the creature at the end of the show...

    "Bliss" is pretty basic stuff. I can't really give plaudits for coming up with this alien creature that also reminded me a bit of V-ger from the first Star Trek feature film.

    I'd rate "Bliss" 2 stars. Was kind of annoying seeing the crew all giddy about going back to Earth when clearly that's not happening. Even the crew trying to shut down 7 was not as well done as in TNG's "The Game" when Riker/Worf chased Wesley. Too much suspension of disbelief required for this "beast" that devours starships and the simplistic way to exit it. I think this episode might work better for the sci-fi newbies or something...

    TNG episode "Where Silence Has Lease" Wolf's warnings of Klingon legends of a space monster that devours starships turns out to be very right.

    It's interesting to place this right before Dark Frontier, an episode in which (...spoiler for Dark Frontier) Janeway has a crazy plan and only Seven seems to realize how crazy it is -- but there is *unable to do anything about it* except finally agree to the Borg Queen's "deal." In particular, Dark Frontier draws out parallels between Seven's feelings of helplessness before Janeway's suicidal mission and her own experience with the Hansens. So maybe this episode is most valuable to show how Seven reacts when she's *not* reminded of her own experiences. Janeway and the crew are totally taken in by the monster because they want to get home; we've been here before and will be again. (While the "bioplasmic life form" has a "biogenic field" (or whatever, I'm not looking up the exact phrases used) that makes its fly trap more effective, it's basically the same principle as (again spoiler) the trap the Queen lays for Voyager, using Janeway's obsession with getting home to fool her, which is also the same trap laid in Hope and Fear.) Seven is not taken in, and/but she is not reminded of any past difficult experiences, and is sufficiently certain that the crew is out of their minds that she can just act on her own to save them from their foolhardy selves. The episode argues for skepticism about things which are too good to be true, but it avoids having too much investment in the crew's own reactions, which is probably wise; one wonders how they deal with this blow, and one could argue that this particular disappointment is part of what sets the stage for Janeway's reckless decision to mug the Borg in the next episode, though I dunno if that really makes sense. As a Seven (and the Doctor and Naomi) show, it's okay just in emphasizing the usefulness of her being a little out of step with the crew's obsessions and thus has some immunity to some damages. But it's a point that's been made before (Hope and Fear) and I'm not sure what this one adds, except as set-up for Dark Frontier where we see how much she regresses to childhood helplessness in the face of a more similar problem, and with a less overt "biogenic field"-style psychological trap affecting the crew.

    Quick thought on that Qatai guy: he repeatedly emphasizes that he's mostly able to see through the Beast and he's psychologically stronger than it, etc., though he's still vulnerable. But of course, he goes right back in, without even bothering to repair the ship, right after emphasizing that Voyager set a course for home. Maybe the point is that the space monster has Qatai either way; Qatai is totally dependent on the monster for his identity, so he will never really escape it, and will presumably eventually be killed (though maybe he can succeed). Linking Qatai's obsession with the crew's desire to go home maybe highlights the foolish side of Janeway et al.'s continuing to pursue the apparently impossible goal. Maybe the episode's end is hopeful though, because Qatai *also* seems to enjoy the never-ending fight with the Beast, so maybe even if it's an illusion and he's never actually going to defeat it, it's good, just as maybe it's helpful for the crew to continue to be "trying to go home" even if getting there seems difficult or impossible. Maybe.

    I think it's fun and well-executed enough for what it is, but I'm not really sold on the episode's value considering how much old Trek ground is retreated, both Voyager-specific and other series, and how much of a light, almost indifferent tone is given to the proceedings. I'm tempted to say 2 stars, but maybe I'll be generous and say 2.5.

    Access to the captain's logs is restriced. Unless you walk over to the wall of a cargo bay and pull out one 'chip'. Then you can see whatever you want apparently.

    I can pretty much buy that the monster can affect peoples minds, but how does it alter sensor readings? How could it possibly do that? Especially considering all the hundreds or thousands of different ships it encounters.

    It's all cliches and gimmicks.

    2 stars.

    I apparently found this much more frightening than anyone else--the idea of not being able to trust your own perceptions is terrifying. I live with someone who hallucinates often and watching it and being unable to break through to reality, especially with someone you love, is frightening and heartbreaking. When Naomi is hiding in the cargo bay, hugging her Flotter doll, that's all I could think of. How horrifying to realize that your Mom, the person you love most, is crazy? I loved that Seven realized she needed to be comforting to this scared little girl. When they find Neelix and at first she is blunt but then tells Naomi that they will return for him was a good moment.

    I found it as frightening as "Frame of Mind," because when you are surrounded by people all buying in to the same illusion, you start to question your own sanity. That's why this episode worked for me--the team they assembled to fight the dreams was wonderful.

    I think I wrote on a recent DS-9 review that the whole point of a disaster episode is to throw together unusual combinations of characters so we can see the odd pairings, and this episode failed on that level--we've seen Seven and Naomi and the Doctor work together before. (Boy, they really loved Jeri, didn't they?) Unfortunately, when you have characters who are not entirely flesh and blood, THEY are going to be the ones who are immune to whatever problem like this arises. On TNG it was Data, here it's Seven and the Doctor. But for this episode it worked. I didn't mind too much. And partly because Naomi was so awesome in this. I love the moment when she looks fearfully at crazy Chakotay and yet carries on with Seven's instructions. And then Seven leaves her there! Alone! Scary!

    I agree with the rating though--the episode spent a bit too much time showing us everyone's fantasies and it was much better when the heroes were fighting back. But overall I really liked this one.

    Hmm. What's Eating Starship Voyager??

    I enjoyed our crusty old Captain Ahab, and that little girl who plays Naomi is very good. The interaction of Naomi with Seven is an inspired way of humanizing Seven.

    The ep is certainly about reality and how our desires (hungers) can distort our view . . . how important it is not to let that happen (lest you get consumed!).

    It was interesting seeing what the crew wanted most, after getting home . . . to see loved ones, to get a dream job . . . and how Moby Dick seemed to perceive a desire to connect with family, inside Seven - though she didn't want it enough to be affected.

    I wondered about Neelix, why we saw his being accepted and happy on Earth, instead of seeing his family again. I assume this is because the overall temptation the monster was offering was going to Earth, and we needed a believable reason Neelix would care, any more than Seven or Naomi did. I bought it.

    An entertaining ep. I did want to see Janeway and Chakotay's dream versions of going home, but no such luck.

    It's a shame this review didn't explain the endibg of the episode.

    Why is Qatai going back inside the creature?

    One of Nine, I always thought that Qatai went back in because he won't be satisfied until the creature is destroyed. Since it still exists at the end of "Bliss," he knows he has to go in for another try until he finally destroys it, or it destroys him.

    Am I the only one that had a problem with Naomi on the mission? Why on earth would her parent, or any responsible starship captain allow a child on a mission like that? Especially with how often the Voyager shuttle missions go awry!

    ^ Matt I thought exactly the same thing. That annoyed me too.
    Enjoyed the episode and enjoying these reviews.

    Agreed. Solid stuff, even if the second half isn't quite as strong as the first. Seven and Naomi's relationship continues to be very sweet, especially the way Seven calls her by her full name, although it's kinda funny that Naomi has become much more of a prominent presence than her mother at this point. They don't even get a scene together at the end!

    Not a great episode. Quite boring. If it wasn’t for the guy that helped out and only the regular crew were involved in the episode I would say this was a 1 or 1.5 star episode. I guess I’d give it 2 but I feel like that’s being kind. I just wasn’t impressed with this one. On to the next.

    Not by any means a copy, but lots of shades of Space 1999’s Bringers of Wonder.

    Good episode.

    The Prozac-y crew works great here. Too often in this sort of possession type plot, the crew become evil henchmen for the big bad. But here, they are normal, just happily deluded.

    Naomi Wildman is surprisingly likable and the Seven/Naomi chemistry is great.

    The fact that they give the game away in the teaser is what makes this episode work so well. We and the crew know it's a trap of some sort right from the beginning, so while we start out skeptical with the entire crew, we end up with Seven and Naomi and the Doctor as the only ones not under the creature's influence. If the story had tried to fool the audience, it would not have worked. The wormhole is so obviously too good to be true that the story wisely never tries to hide that fact, but incorporates it into the narrative in an almost humorous way, given how the good news keeps piling up for everyone.

    Count me in the camp of those who like Naomi Wildman. She's a smart and capable kid, but she's also still a child, hiding when she's scared and crying over the unconscious Neelix, needing to be carried and comforted by Seven. The actress does a great job being as young as she is, and I am always happy to see the character in an episode.

    This scenario reminds me somewhat of "One" from last season, with only Seven and the Doctor to save the entire crew. The comparison suggests that while the ship can be automated temporarily, one person cannot do the maintenance required to keep Voyager running long term, which is what happened in "One".

    This was a lovely little episode. I'm surprised the kid didn't get on my nerves but was actually even endearing. The whole thing was different and interesting.

    The one annoyance, and a big one, is the ultra-pacifism yet again displayed by Lameway and her collective. They should've blown the "creature" out of the water but nooooo-hooooo. They set a series of warning beacons (isn't the "creature" mobile?!), which are bound to fail, be lost, be sabotaged, or be otherwise inadequate. Nuts.

    The beast doesn't have to be assumed mobile. Sea sponges are sessile, as are anemones, barnacles, and other marine animals. And since the idea of pitcher plants was evoked, we have an example of a pheromone type trap that lures victims to it (instead of chasing its food). So the warning beacons would work in this context.

    To continue the marine animal theme, a juvenile version of the beast might have been a motile form with different eating habits from the adult sessile form. So the possible nymphal stage of the beast may have swam in space to this one spot, to possibly cocoon and emerge as a 'lie in wait' style predator.

    Since these things happen here in reality, I'll give the episode points for a possible biological background. I'll ignore the actual "animal living in vacuum" bit bc it's been done so much on and off trek that I don't want to beat my head against a wall.

    Yes, this ep is a lot like many others, like One, Persistence of Vision, The Cloud, Galaxy's Child, and The Immunity Syndrome, but what it feels the MOST like is Farscape's Green Eyed Monster. As someone mentioned above. And Farscape's version is just lovely, one of Farscape's best -- top notch sci fi. Not to mention Stark's great line: "Electromagnetic candy!"

    Bliss is still a good romp, and we get some insights into the deepest desires of the crew, and how some of those wishes have changed or grown from what we saw back in season two's Persistence of Vision.

    And in particular, we see Janeway is still not over wanting her fiance back. I wonder how much that factored into her depression in Night. She consciously signed on for a grand adventure, back in Caretaker. She never expected years in sensory deprivation. She totally got afflicted with SAD (Space Affective Disorder)! ;-) But my point is that she was indirectly willing to give up Mark for epic quadrant adventures, but not for an endless window into...nothingness. Too much time on her hands to think about her guilt and isolation.

    Janeway still missing Mark is good characterization, and also makes Counterpoint more poignant.

    Neelix worried over being accepted and happy on Earth also ties in closely with his existential dread and loneliness, and is only resolved at the very end of the series in Homestead.

    Tom being accepted and forgiven, with a bright future ahead to make his father proud and feel good about himself -- more good insight. Tom, as a fallen Golden Child, is sensitive to criticism and riddled with poor self esteem, which comes out most clearly in Non Sequitur.

    Three stars is about right. It's well written and acted, and offers a lot of insight if you look at the hints that are dropped.


    You said, "The beast doesn't have to be assumed mobile. Sea sponges are sessile . . . . So the warning beacons would work in this context. "

    Except that right after they escape, Qatai says, "The beast is already altering course," so we know it is mobile. Beacons would be utterly useless unless they can be attached to it in some way.

    @grumpy-_otter, well then. I got nothin'.

    Where's Dr. Marr when you need a large devouring entity to kill?

    @Tannhaeuser -- is your name a Blade Runner reference?

    One of these comments may have mentioned it, but I'm not checking them all so... Nobody seems to mention the fact the the Monster Expert flew back into the monster at the end. Or am I missing something? If not then it explains why he has been "trapped" for so Many years and why he was so adamant about Voyager destroying the Beast, because he couldn't resist the temotation to go back to his greatest desires, even though they were literally trying to kill him. See vices. Or maybe I just imagined the whole thing.

    I, too, have always been confused by the ending of this episode. Was Qatai intentionally flying into the maw of the "pitcher plant" or had the creature cast another illusion and tricked him again?

    I don't think having an ambiguous ending works to the advantage of the episode.

    Skimms said: "I can pretty much buy that the monster can affect peoples minds, but how does it alter sensor readings?"

    Who reads those sensor readings?


    Michael said: "Gotta love the "monster expert's" faux-Australian twang. "

    I didn't notice an attempt at an Australian accent. The actor who played the part is British fwiw.


    Jay asked: "Isn't the Beast mobile? Can't he move away from the buoys?"

    It's either a slipup by the Voyager creators (Impossible!) or a clever bit of writing. The creature has been shown to have an increasing influence over its victims the longer they are in its proximity. "Do not kill me!" seems like a message that it would send constantly. "Yeah, marker buoys are good enough - I'm totally immobile!" would be another useful trick. If intentional, it might also suggest that the creature has tricked Qatai once more in the episode's closing shot. Who knows?

    Random bits:

    - Why wasn't Qatai's ship digested at some point between the time he dropped his shields to beam aboard Voyager and the time he returned?

    - The creature reminded me (a tiny bit) of a an evil version of the creature from the TAS episode "One of Our Planets is Missing."

    Trek or Wars, Different Bob

    Yes, no mention anywhere as far as I can tell and something that confused me. 39 years stuck, gets himself out. Goes right back in. Why? I feel like I'm missing something obvious here...

    Apart from that, it was ok.

    "39 years stuck, gets himself out. Goes right back in. Why? I feel like I'm missing something obvious here..."

    He wasn't trapped in the beast for 39 years. He was hunting it for that long. His predicament was presumably more recent.

    The doctor was being so dumb, he didn't want to destroy a creature that was a potential threat to everyone in the sector, and was willing to put the crew at risk for a non-sentient lifeform. What if it had a violent reaction to the antimatter which ended up destroying Voyager and that other vessel along with it? Instead they leave it there for trillions of other people to get caught it in. Also as others mentioned it is weird how the little girl could operate a shuttle craft, create mythical characters on the holodeck, and be so calm in this episode (with a LITERAL monster in this one) but be afraid of imaginary ones in her room, especially with all the intruder alert scanners! Maybe that was just her reason to spend time with Nelix. I find it weird that the doctor didn't reactivate himself after the crew became incapacitated, like he did in the Basics Episode. The ship was shortcurcuiting all over his automatic recall should have kicked in. I actually wondered if the creature was alive at all. They have entered other weird nebulae with similar lightning bolts like in Mortal Coil. Good episode overall.

    @Justin (from like nine years ago)

    "Plus, Naomi is just so darned cute."

    I’m not really a "kid" person, but, yeah, she is cute. She was especially cute in the first Equinox episode when she introduced herself to Ensign Marla Gilmore. She was so cute that Chuckles and Harry were smirking at each other about her cuteness.

    As another poster said, Naomi — oops, "Naomi Wildman" — wasn’t affected by the creature because she's never been to Earth and doesn’t really care about it. I wonder if she's at all interested in meeting her father.

    Every now and then, I think it’s worth pointing out that the people who made the opening title sequence did a fantastic job. It still holds up a quarter century later.

    That guest actor was really good. I wonder if he has played hard-bitten seamen before. I said to my wife after the episode that he seemed like a Shakespeare company level actor, and sure enough per Wiki he was with the Royal Shakespeare Company for 12 years.

    @navamske: “Point taken, but the closing voiceover has Janeway saying that they deployed some warning buoys.”

    So it’s more ethical to make the beast slowly starve to death? And didn’t our guest character say the beast was on the move?


    'Every now and then, I think it’s worth pointing out that the people who made the opening title sequence did a fantastic job. It still holds up a quarter century later.'

    Thanks for pointing this out. Yes, strongly agree with this and feel exactly the same. The opening title sequence (and music) is still as beautiful and wondrous now - all these years later - as it was when I first watched it all those years ago (which don't seem that long ago, but unfortunately were).

    And even now it still fills me with the same sense of awe no matter how often I watch it. There's just something truly moving about it.

    A good episode with a great guest character. I agree its derivative, but the story executes all the things that made us love sci-fi to begin with well.

    I don't understand how the creature could fool the ship's sensors and the actual tech data. It could fool the crew's minds but how did it fool the main computer?

    Other than that, I liked this episode, mostly because of the trio (Seven, the Doctor and Naomi) who saved the ship. It just goes to show that every person on the ship is valuable in some way!

    "I don't understand how the creature could fool the ship's sensors and the actual tech data. It could fool the crew's minds but how did it fool the main computer?"

    I think it was fooling the minds of the peolle reading the computer display.

    Seriously what is the point of transporter rooms when you can just tell the computer to "initiate transport to and from wherever". Just a thought since with all the voice interface tech they have they sure spend alot of time hitting buttons in emergency situations.

    Good episode. Mostly devoid of UVF (Usual Voyager Failures), but the end was a head scratcher. Why show Qatai at all? What were we supposed to get out of that?

    And, maybe I'm a simpleton here, but wouldn't a "series of beacons" *attract* ships? I know she meant "warning buoy," but that seemed like a scripting error.

    And, of course, the point is moot, as many have pointed out, since the "monster" was on the move. Definitely UVF.

    But, like Jammer, I enjoyed the episode. I'm even warming to Naomi. They added a child as a secondary character and she's more useful and less annoying than Neelix.

    This was a really good one! Seven helps an alien who is kind of a benign version of Captain Ahab (a driven being determined to kill his "whale", but not unreasonable and pyschotic) along with little Naomi to foil a creature bent on trapping them. It was really entertaining


    I know this is an almost 15 year old comment, but I have to add a few things:
    The "faux-Australian twang" I believe is a British accent

    But Naomi's attitude I think is spot on! As a kid, I learned how to steer the family car, and even ride a moped. I was able to do so bravely because I was with my parents, and other trusted adults. If they were incapacitated, I am pretty sure I would be just as "scared of the dark" as she was

    But then again, I liked Jake Sisko and Wesley Crusher too. I actually do find some kid characters annoying, but not any of the regulars on Star Trek. Especially on Voyager-I really like the Seven/Naomi teamup

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