Star Trek: Voyager

“In the Flesh”

3 stars.

Air date: 11/4/1998
Written by Nick Sagan
Directed by David Livingston

"The last 8472 I met tried to dissolve me from the inside out." — Harry in "understandable skepticism mode"

Review Text

Nutshell: Derivative of classic Trek in many ways, but it still manages to work reasonably well.

Fifteen years ago, I might have called "In the Flesh" an allegory on current times. Aired in 1998, however, this episode feels more like a thinly guised contemporary history lesson—a throwback to a recent era more suited for allegory by the TOS style of storytelling.

With its obvious parallels to the Cold War, "In the Flesh" is a TOS episode if I've ever seen one. Given the sociopolitical atmosphere of today, the episode's intentions feel strangely dated. And given how much TOS I've been watching lately, I've taken on a new appreciation for Trek stories that tackle real issues in the context of sci-fi premises—provided they're done well. A subtext usually can't work unless what's on the surface also fares well.

That probably goes double for "In the Flesh," which is all the more dependent upon what the surface story is about, simply because the subtext lacks the immediate relevance it seems to need. It's one thing to talk about the Cold War during the Cold War. It's another thing to talk about it some 10 or so years after it has ended—and even longer since it was at the height of its urgency. It's not commentary anymore; it's retrospect.

Never mind. "In the Flesh" is a workable, though not stellar, Voyager outing that provides a meditation on the theme of mistrust, where neither side can bring itself to trust the other. In this case, it's humanity (or at least the Voyager crew) versus Species 8472, whom the Voyager crew finds manning a Delta Quadrant outpost whose inhabitants have taken human form and have artificially duplicated Starfleet Headquarters down to its last detail to use as some sort of elaborate training facility. They've even duplicated the legendary Boothby (Ray Walston), Starfleet Academy's head groundskeeper (TNG fans take note).

The episode does a fair job of evoking a sense of mystery; at first I thought Chakotay was on the holodeck or something. As the story continued and it became obvious this was more than the average Trekkian illusion, I was intrigued. When Chakotay and Tuvok are forced to bring one of the alien impostors (Zach Galligan) back to Voyager, the unveiling of that mystery is handled reasonably. Some brief touches of understandable paranoia, like Janeway testing Chakotay to be sure he's the genuine article, help move things along. Doc's method of revealing the man behind the mask, however, feels a little too much like DNA magic.

But never mind again. "In the Flesh" is plot-driven for much of the way, as Chakotay poses as one of the impostors so he can "keep a date" with Commander Relanna Archer (Kate Vernon), a faux human who might offer some insight into the alien plan. Archer is no fool, however—she's on to Chakotay, even though he plays a smart game.

It's nice to see Chakotay in action again, and it's particularly nice to see him in a plot that doesn't turn out to be "Unforgettable, Part II," despite the trailer's attempts to make this show look like an episode where "Chakotay unwittingly falls for 8472 in disguise." Rather, the story displays Chakotay being subtle, smart, and sensible in his choice of words and methods of investigation—which is a refreshing change of pace for a character who, in my opinion, too often doesn't get nearly enough to do.

I honestly don't have much more to say about the plot, because I don't feel the need or desire to recap everything blow by blow. Suffice it to say that the investigation and the conflict that arises when Chakotay is exposed and captured makes for a good view. It's not spectacular or earth-shaking, but it's quietly involving on a plot level.

The episode's latter passages are about the aforementioned theme of mistrust between human and 8472. Janeway wants her first officer returned to her, but the 8472s want to interrogate him. They're convinced Starfleet is planning some sort of strike, so they themselves are planning for the worst. The irony, of course, is that neither side wants war, but neither side can immediately bring itself to invest in trust, either.

Eventually, Janeway hammers out a meeting with the 8472 leaders, where an open dialog can be started. This meeting is dramatically successful, if for no other reason, because of Ray Walston's line delivery and his character's mince-few-words approach to verbal negotiation. I can't remember a character I've seen where Walston didn't play this type of personality, and that's probably because he's good at it. (One might as well use what one's got.) While this is an example of the actor being the center of attention more than the character, I do think Walston manages to capture the fear manifested as anger and distrust that an 8472 might understandably have.

Bringing a more understandable agenda—one based on fear—to 8472 in this episode seems to me like a sensible notion. The overlarge and less-than-interesting threat of "purging our galaxy" is something that can't continue to work outside the confines of "Scorpion," so moving on to make 8472 a group with whom negotiation is possible was the only alternative if they were to be used again. I'm glad to see "In the Flesh" accomplishes this. On the other hand, one of 8472's appeals was the fact they were so non-human, so different in physical concept, so alien. Now we have 8472s taking human form, chatting with Janeway in such humanistic terms—which is so humanly typical of Star Trek that I almost want to condemn the banality while I praise the idealism.

The mild allegory on the nuclear weapon scare is a little too obvious at times, including one scene where Janeway says: "Somebody has to take their finger off the trigger. It might as well be me." At least she said "trigger" instead of "button."

On the given terms, however, I'd like to point out that Sagan's script missed an opportunity by not addressing the simple issue of what the 8472s call themselves. "Species 8472" is a Borg name, and I tend to think removing that designation might have been a proactive dramatic device toward conveying the peace and understanding that "In the Flesh" so doggedly wants to promote.

Overall, I'm giving "In the Flesh" a guarded recommendation. The show is entertaining by its own merits, and the messages are of classic Star Trek idealism. When you scrutinize, you will see that it's more a rehash of themes that have been visited many times over than it is a fresh take on such material. But ... I suppose there are worse things in the world.

Next week: The Delta Flyer crashes. I guess it had to happen eventually. I just didn't figure it would be so soon...

Previous episode: Extreme Risk
Next episode: Once Upon a Time

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112 comments on this post

    Well, I really liked this episode. Three stars are ok, although I wouldn't have minded a three and a half either! ;-)

    "'In the Flesh' is plot-driven for much of the way, as Chakotay poses as one of the impostors so he can "keep a date" with Commander Relanna Archer (Kate Vernon), a faux human who might offer some insight into the alien plan."

    The character's name is Valerie Archer.

    sorry but voyager managed, in this episode, to take possibly the best alien species created and turned them into tree hugging peace loving douches. from laying waste to borg planets to this. i HATED this episode when i first watched it and still hate it now. a 'date' with species 8472...what utter nonsense

    Voyager does classic Trek and it worked well. I like this a lot.

    And in 2010 there's talk of a new Cold War. Everything old is new again.

    I agree with BlinD. Species 90210 may have been cool at one point, but they really jumped the shark in this episode.

    A fairly interesting episode and it does make me appreciate Voyager as a TOS of the 90s.

    I think even Janeway cracked a smile in this episode (for the most part up to now this season she just seems to have looked fed up and curtly barked a few orders)

    I find it impossible to buy the basic premise here - that Species 8472 has gone to all the effort of recreating Starfleet command in such impeccable detail and disguising themselves and behaving EXACTLY as humans. I didn't believe a word of it. It stretches credibility to breaking point and beyond.

    Even if we accept that 8472 can make themselves look like humans, I found it impossible to believe they could so easily behave so human (the fact Chakotay even romances one of them was quite cringeworthy). I just didn't buy it! The episode was interesting and intriguing, but I couldn't get over my fundamental lack of belief in the plot.

    As with many Voyager episodes, I get the impression that Braga and co like to come up with high-concept hooks for their episodes that sound really cool (aliens recreating Starfleet headquarters in a prelude to invading the alpha quadrant!) and then try to flesh them out from there, even when the logic simply doesn't fit.

    I don't agree with Icebling, I think that the fact that Species 8472 is so different and that we as viewers know almost nothing about them gives the premise some credibility.

    One of the few things we know is that Species 8472 are highly intelligent, so it's not unthinkable that a part of their mind can effectively become human - in other words they are extremely good at role-playing.

    The rest of their psyche might be so alien that it doesn't really translate all too well into our universe, which cuts it off from their new "human side". Communication with the Voyager-Crew is only possible in "human" terms.

    It is like when one side learned the language of the other perfectly, while the other side remains totally ignorant.

    Hard to believe that if some 8472 had trouble holding their human form while alive, that the one they captured could do it even after it died.

    Ah, how simple life would be if all military conflicts were caused by misunderstandings and paranoia, and all that was needed to resolve it was for both sides to sit down and talk for five minutes.

    This is a good episode that could have been a great one if the solution hadn't been as clear-cut at the end, e.g. if some 8472 were still not ready to trust us humans. And I completely agree that we should have found out their real name.

    I have to agree with BlinD and Iceblink. The Cold War allegory was all well and good, but I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy this episode.

    They took the extremely interesting, mysterious, and menacing Species 8472 and effectively neutered them with this story.

    I think they would have been better to either leave 8472 alone and not have more stories about them, or to be slow and cautious in their deconstruction of them like they were with the Borg. While I agree with the sentiments of this episode, I have to say I don't find them particularly genuine or convincing here. It's more about goofing around with Chakotay and "look, Starfleet HQ" than it is substance. Archer's change of heart in the conference room was cartoonish.

    The idea of enriching the species' motivations beyond "you will be purged" to "we are paranoid xenophobes" was a good one, but one episode is not enough to accomplish this, especially when the focus is on other topics so much of the time.

    2 stars I think.

    Though, I have to admit that Pon Farr night at the Vulcan nightclub sounds like fun.

    As others have said, it was an interesting premise for perhaps another alien species, but made no sense for species 8472. Why couldn't they have been kept truly alien and different than all the other species? And then, if my memory is correct, we never hear from 8472 again in the series. The world the writers are creating has to be logical and consistent even if it is science fiction; otherwise how can they viewer suspend disbelief?

    "It's Ponfarr night at the Vulcan nightclub." is still the best and most perplexing sentence ever uttered.

    In the bar scene where Valerie and Chakotay meet, after one of the extras "reverts", she discusses how hard it is to be human, and "that's why (she) reads their books." But she was reading a Vulcan book, not a human one.

    I too was frustrated how Species 8472 was "neutered", as one reviewer above wrote. The episode was well executed and enjoyable despite a major flaw in its concept. If it had been a novel species instead of 8472, it would have been more believable. 2.5 stars

    I saw this when it aired..I think I was around 15 years old at the time. The whole idea that those massive inter-dimensional aliens could take a magic hypospray and become human struck me as...dumb.

    Still does.

    Voyager has a knack for neutering effective villains that borders on the disturbing.

    Then there's the contrived plot. So Voyager locates this bio-dome just in the nick of time, huh? How lucky for Earth.

    I guess species 8472 was just stuntin' with the whole "we will purge your galaxy of life" line.

    Another thought..imagine how great Voyager could have been if the Borg loomed as a constant threat. I mean TNG's Borg, not Voyager's Borg. Aside from a few close calls with cubes, the Borg should not have been in the show at all..they should have only lurked in the background as an ever-present potential catastrophe. Sort of like how the Kazon were in the first season.

    Looks like Voyager is damned if it does, damned if it doesn't...

    Let's just accept it then as TOS of the nineties.

    What was wrong with having a species imitate humans to figure out who we were and understand us? Besides, another shapeshifting alien wouldn't have been incredibly interesting, and it still keeps the Borg on the outside, that is, good humans, good 8472, bad Borg, some credit is deserved for maintaining trek ideals.

    Plus it was a good use of Boothby and the other admiral, and an insight into us from the outside.

    Evil aliens is only fun for so long, which is precisely why the Borg lost their edge - you just can't do evil forever.

    I am watching the whole series on DVD now and I am almost finished.
    I had the same feelings for this episode as "BlinD".
    Why do you turn species 8472 - in my eyes the best invention of VOY - into a bunch of TeleTubbies???

    It's so bizarre .....
    What a waste!
    Maybe they were to expensive to visualize ... so they couldn't use them anymore in there "normal" shape - but turning them into this .... a shame!

    I thought this episode was very successful! A great demonstration of Star Trek idealism.

    I had no idea Kate Vernon, aka Ellen Tigh from BSG, was Valerie Archer here till I read this review! My, how people change. (Then again I didn't realize Magneto and Gandalf were played by the same person in their respective franchises till about a month ago.)

    Great ep, probably in my top 5 VOY eps. I feel that this ep, along with "Distant Origin", "Living Witness" and "Memorial" are the Voyager episodes which best represent Star Trek idealism.

    (Irrelevant note: Pon farr night at the Vulcan club sounds fun. ;) )

    4 popcorns.

    I have to side with the nay-sayers here. One of my bigger gripes with the franchise is that the aliens
    too consistently tend to be rather human; Species 8472 was, up to this episode, a welcome exception. They didn't necessarily need to remain as antagonists, but they should have remained inscrutable.

    Yeah this was good episode, I just wish they had used some other alien rather than 8472. They were a pretty cool enemy to begin with, why mess with that so soon? And they go so far as to actually make them human in this episode.

    Other than that pretty good episode, nice performance by Robert Beltran in this one and the previous episode too.

    HolographicAndrew, I agree completely.

    I refer to this episode as the "neuter Species 8472" episode.

    As a Voyager fan, this episode absolutely breaks my heart. Aside from the plot itself (which is frankly ludicrous) we are forced to witness an unforgiveable form of creative genocide; an entire species extinguished by a writers brainfart.

    It highlights one of the biggest flaws of voyager as a whole: the unerring ability to create an exciting, innovative concept for an alien adversary, and then proceed to absolutely *FUPP* it up, in this case catastrophically. Species 8472 had the potential to be one of THE standout aliens not just in Voyagers run, but in all of Trekdom. They were like nothing we had seen before. Unique, sinister, malevolent, creepy and scarily powerful, they had so much potential for development.

    So naturally the next step utterly castrate them, by turning them into the Delta Quadrants answer to Barney. I would give anything to have been a fly on the wall during that writers meeting: "I have a cool idea. Lets make one of them into a love interest for Chakotay (i mean, what the actual fupp?!?!?) and we can turn another into that lovable old curmudgeon, Bootheby (I have no words). Then we can all make friends, hold hands and sing Kumbaya together. The end."

    I genuinely don't know whether to vomit or cry.

    Whoever was responsible for writing and approving this abomination should be taken outside and beaten to death with their own storyboards.

    Whoever wrote this episode was either on drugs or just not very bright. The very idea that Voyager would encounter these aliens from another plane of existence here of all places, and that they would have made an almost perfect reenactment of Starfleet Academy... and... look I'll just stop there. Preposterous doesn't even come CLOSE to covering it. It's REALLY BAD. REALLY SILLY. And it just doesn't work. It's one of the most illogical and ridiculous episodes I have ever seen.

    I'd give this episode 3.5 stars, and only because I too didn't care for the magic DNA transformation that revealed 8472. But overall this was a great episode in the theme of classic TOS. And it's once again irritating to see all the commenters who fancy themselves sci-fi writers. @dlpb, please demonstrate to all of us the scripts you've written that have made it on the air. Just one, please. Doesn't even have to be sci-fi, just a TV show script you've written that was successful.

    I am not being paid thousands, Shannon. If it were my job to script-write, I would do a much better job than this. However, I have relocalized Final Fantasy VII, which has been downloaded by thousands of people (well over 10,000):

    I would like to note it did not take 5 years :P It was more like 6 months with huge gaps in between. FF7 has over 150,000 words.

    I will say in DLPB's defense that while that is an impressive effort, the vast majority of reviewers for TV, movies, books, etc. are not writers... and we as a society are ok with that.

    If the only people that liked your episode are other screen writers you are going off the air. I thought the episode had charm and some good acting... but let's be honest here and also say it also had a major retcon, some serious fun with DNA and required suspension of disbelief in the premise.

    I didn't hate it, but the haters have a point. Seriously.

    All fiction requires suspension of disbelief to some degree or other. A good fiction won't challenge it much, if at all. This episode was so preposterous to me that I was being reminded at every turn that fallible writers were at the helm. That's not a good thing for any fiction. Species 8472 was supposed to be a race unlike any we had every seen before. But then they get them creating a Starfleet Academy in the middle of nowhere and morph into humans. It takes an INCREDIBLE leap of faith to take that seriously.

    I think it's a missed opportunity because 8472 (despite the shoe-horned excuse to be as bad-ass as the Borg) had potential to have a good arc.

    Oh so that's you... small world. Well, excellent work DLPB! I saw that article (being a huge FF7 fan myself) and although I think the awful original translation is part of the game's charm, it's great to have this version too. Sometimes we just didn't have the foggiest idea what they were saying!

    This is one of those appalling episodes that really stands out in my mind. Technically speaking it's passable - there are far worse episodes from a dramatic and narrative standpoint. The issue is how they cannibalize one of the only original aliens in the series. The premise is ludicrous - a species with the power to blow up planets, that in power terms, could squash the Federation like an insect has gone to the trouble of constructing an elaborate recreation of Starfleet academy? To do what? Infilitrate starfleet? Ummm... why? I get the cold war reference, but such a plot would have been more appropriate for the Romulans. In tone deaf blindness to all context, story and logic, this one ranks up there with that admiral's comment in Insurrection that the Borg and Dominion attacked the Federation because there was "blood in the water". Ugggh.

    It's almost like the writers didn't even watch Scorpion, or have any concept of who Species 8472 were.

    On a more positive note, this episode did confirm something I had been saying since Janeway first made her bargain with the Borg in Scorpion - Janeway is basically a war criminal. She not only violated the Prime Directive, she aided and abetted the Borg in defeating one more race. Wow, it turns out you really CAN negotiate with species 8472. It turns out taking sides in an interstellar war based on a 3 second telepathic transmission from a single alien isn't the wisest course. So yeah, Janeway is a monster.

    I liked this. To me, it wasn't about 8472 for all the reasons detailed above, but it was just a fun premise that I enjoyed watching, not least because of the marvelous Kate Vernon.

    But I want to comment to point out one possible cool thing--when we first see Boothby at the very beginning of the episode, the flower he plucks is a completely bizarre sort of alien flower. Was that a little clue from the set designer or propmaster?

    Plothole: When the 8472s would have carried out their mission and reached Earth, they would have been spotted instantly by the fact that their uniforms are out of date. Starfleet cadets now wear the gray uniform with the colored top, whereas regular officers wear the black uniform with the grey top!

    If 8472 indeed went to Earth as they claimed and gathered information from Starfleet Command (while believing that information about them would be classified) they would have seen the new grey uniforms.

    Are they colorblind as a species? With such attention to detail and precision, you'd think jokes like "Pon Farr night at the Vulcan nightclub" would be the extent of their inaccuracies.

    Shannon - Fri, Aug 14, 2015 - 12:52pm (USA Central)
    "And it's once again irritating to see all the commenters who fancy themselves sci-fi writers. @dlpb, please demonstrate to all of us the scripts you've written that have made it on the air. Just one, please. Doesn't even have to be sci-fi, just a TV show script you've written that was successful."

    Shannon - Wow! So unless something is stamped with the word "official" it doesn't exist? You really do live in a very consciousness reducing world of nothing but official image and absolutely no unofficial substance! As I said to you earlier, it's pretty robotic of you.

    What matters in life is your substance, not your official paperwork. You don't need external validation or permission to exist. You're probably one of those people who believes your children are "illegitimate" unless mommy and daddy first got some bullshit bureaucratic paperwork from the State (marriage certificate).

    As Robert pointed out, it's the customers (us) who decide what is or what is not successful or acceptable. We ultimately decide a show's ratings, not the professional writers. They are doing it for us, not themselves. We are their critics and their bosses.

    I find your comments elitist, autistic, and dehumanizing. Seriously Shannon, give yourself permission to exist without a government stamp on your forehead that reads "approved."

    James, I recommend "vomit" over "cry". I do when they "kiss" cos all I see is a purple leg in disguise.BlinD, I totally agree, I hate this episode for so many reasons, I refuse to start enumerating them. Suffice it to say even the great Ray Walston has some appalling lines, and Valerie Archer is the second most hateful "woman" in ST after Icheb's mother.

    Grumpy-otter, the flower Boothby plucks at the start of the epid a very real Earth thing, a Banksia...native to the southern hemisphere, Australia Africa etc.I'm an Australian and I scored a chuckle when I saw it. Just like so many of Neelix's alien fruit and veg are common produce in fresh produce markets.

    I am with the haters. First, Janeway did not ally with the Borg briefly in order to get through Borg space. The decision was based on Species 8472's being a very clear threat. Its HATRED of all life in our Universe was based on our form of life being so fundamentally different from that in Fluidic space. The previous installments make one thing clear: 8472 had a deep innate hatred of anything "not themselves" and their desire was to purge any unpure existence. They were utterly malevolent. Janeway agreed to assist in driving them out of our space and back into theirs because they were a direct threat to everyone.
    Scorpion did not depict the Borg as cuddly during that brief alliance. It portrayed them as a threat carefully balanced on the edge of betrayal. This episode, however, depicted 8472 as the misunderstood teenager that just wanted some Wuv. It was absurd and undermined all writing before it. It made Janeway's decision to assist the Borg against a common foe utterly unnecessary and ludicrous. It was made in complete denial of all that was established about species 8472.
    Someone above said that Janeway was a 'War Criminal.' She wasn't until "In the flesh" made her into one.
    ...And Shannon is an idiot.

    As noted above, mechanically this is a decent enough episode. Interesting premise, bit of cold war paranoia, some very Trek touchy feely stuff about diplomacy triumphing overall, and some decent performances.

    And yet - I also have considerable sympathy with those who disliked the idea of Species 8472 being neutered in this way. The whole point of them was to make them utterly alien and malevolent - by humanising them and making one the cuddly old Boothby you've drawn the teeth of what I think was a classic villain. This might have worked better with another species. 2.5 stars.

    Thanks, icarus32soar, that is very cool about the flower! But I think my point might still be valid since Starfleet is based in San Francisco and somehow an Australian flower is there. 8472 wasn't terribly careful in their horticultural replication and simply used a bunch of earth species without caring where they were from. (Or not realizing)

    How does it make sense to give away the only weapon you have against a species who wants to destroy you, in the (unlikely) hope they will listen to Boothby and make peace with you?

    Species 666 morphs into species 90210? WTF!?

    This episode makes me want to vomit - imagine if Chakotay had been morphed into an 8472 - would they have still tried the kissing scene? What a joke - the inability of writers to see things from the alien perspective is so ingrained - they may as well just make every alien species humans with pointy ears, or a flat nose .. or .. oh ok .. they did that already.

    The probability that any alien species will have empathy (and therefore a conscience) is extremely low. Most aliens will be psychopaths - as soon as Janeway teleports them aboard - gives up the nanobots - bends over and spreads her ass cheeeks - take your pick - the aliens should have rammed it home. Its about time Janeway was seriously punished for her combination of fatal flaws - projecting human ethos onto aliens, self destructive naivete, and narcissism.

    There are nearly 150 crew who can be dismembered, permanently disabled, or brutally killed in front of her - its time the bodies started piling up as a consequence of her stupid decisions. She is never punished for her stupidity - therefore we can just expect more and more.

    In a previous episode we are treated to this classic Janeway suicidal decision. "We could abort the super-powered Borg baby who has the ability to self teleport - ah no .. lets see how it turns out." The result is a heart-warming affirmation that actual realistic consequences will never be applied.

    How dearly I would have loved 8472 to simply transform as soon as they got her alone in the briefing room - tear off Chakotay's head and hand it to her .. "Here you go dear .. add this one to the collection."

    This is one of those "the episode is pretty cool, but" episodes.

    For the love of pete.... they neutered the most fearsome awesome alien species since the Borg.

    Damn it. They could have just left them on the shelf for a new trek series in the future to bump into.

    Kate Vernon is one sexy lady....

    I believe this was Ray Walston's last appearance on Star Trek.

    I'll go 2.5 stars.

    oh, and I think its so fake when janeway starts moaning when she gets the rose ... ooooh ooooh

    It was a good episode, great to see some more indepth looks at Starfleet Academy as you barely ever see much of it except the main ground, but the ending is a bit far fetched. Chakotay and the woman share one kiss and recite some quotes and suddenly they're 100% trusting of each other so Boothby just accepts that as "Oh they must be good guys then" and it's all resolved, what would make more sense is if they used the nanoprobes to close the entrance and exit to fluidic space, therefore virtually ending any conflict or war between them permanently rather than relying on verbal agreement.

    Ray Walsron was my favorite Martian but never jelled in any way as a Trek character. His acting is terrible. He has ruined every episode he's in.

    Very nice. Even Janeway and Chuckitoutkotay were at least watchable here. (***)

    I gotta agree with the sentiments here that while in isolation a good "old fashioned" Trek episode, in the context of Species 8472 it was a disaster.

    After the Borg the Fluidic Space Aliens offered the most compelling and greatest threat to the Star Trek universe.
    This was a species that WRECKED THE BORG at every engagement.

    The Borg have been a staple of high-tension stakes and drama for Star Trek through it's run since TNG, and yet when we get a species that out-classes the Borg in the existential threat stakes we hear nothing of them for ages then suddenly a sort of whimpering goodbye in this episode.

    They are robbed of all real threat for the viewer, humanized quite literally, everyone kisses and hugs and makes up (again for Chakotay, quite literally) and then forgotten.

    I might even risk saying that it was a concious decision to castrate the species and consign them to Star trek history.

    A tragic loss of opportunity for further exploration and expansion of Species 8472 in a compelling way.

    Holo-imager? Why not call it a camera? Or better yet, why can't tricorders take pictures?

    I agree with a lot of the sentiments expressed here. That the database extracted from voyager could be used to accurately copy starfleet hq is 1 thing, but that they could use it to learn to act passably human is ludicrous. And 8472 is completely different from when they first appeared, which is a real shame.

    Those things aside it was still an enjoyable episode. 2.5 stars

    all you haters need to just STFU or stop posting. good grief you're sounding like bitter as hell idiotic cry babies

    This episode completely fails when Janeway's 'holier than though' brand of negotiation is not rewarded with instant destruction for the starship and its entire crew.

    Put yourself in the (rather large) shoes if Species 8472. You have devoted a huge level of costs and resources to a project which will let you infiltrate the territory of a hated enemy. A scouting force from that enemy stumbles upon your plan and the operation is compromised. However, the enemy commander obligingly informs you that they alone possess knowledge of your intentions and (currently) have no means to report back to their own people.

    That is the point where no sane military commander could pass up an opportunity to seal that kind of potential information leak. Simply killing a small number of enemy personnel offers guaranteed security and immediately restores and validates all the financial and individual investment already stuffed into your project.

    Letting your enemy go and providing even more information about your weapons and capabilities would virtually be an act of treason against your own people.

    This is one of the flat-out best episodes of any Trek. Genuine diplomacy, with Janeway taking her finger off the trigger, signalling the end of a cold war. The tensions between species was extremely well played, the writing was good, Chakotay's bond with the alien woman was romantic and genuine. Far less staid and stodgy than many Trek episodes, well paced and extremely interesting.

    I can understand a possible reasoning for this episode being that by introducing an alien species that is worse than the Borg, they've diminished the Borg and just created "yet another really bad guy". I suppose also continuing with a CG race would have been costly.

    However on first watch it really was very frustrating as species 8472 was finally a truly alien non-humanoid species and something to fear, then suddenly they've been humanised, turns out they're not so bad after all and they all end up having a hug. Hated it because of that. Re-watched and still find it frustrating. It wouldn't be so bad if they were developed further as a species infiltrating the Federation and other worlds. Though is derivative.

    In actual story and delivery, it worked well until the happy ending. That and the frustration of ruining a good alien wrecks the episode. Could have been a 4 star, more like 1.

    so much impotent rage from commenters at a make-believe show not reflecting and validating their world view...

    I really enjoyed this episode, but only for entertainment reasons. I can't say I agreed with the show "neutering" 8472 as Justin pointed out, and the concept of them being just as scared of us as we are of them was a bit...old. And why did they give them the nanoprobe technology? Isn't that kind of a bad idea?

    Anyways, the old guy made me laugh a lot, and I really liked watching Chakotay going under cover.

    3.5 stars

    Kim: "I've always wondered what it would be like to date an alien."

    Hasn't he already? Twice, IIRC.

    Oh wow... it’s going on 2 years since “John” schooled “Shannon” up there about not being so robotic... so elitist... so requiring things to be “official.”

    What a maverick, what a free-thinker! One can just sense that John takes 15 items to the “12 Items Or Less” line at the grocery store and dares anyone to contradict his intrinsic worth by counting them.

    Even after almost 2 years, I still get goosebumps reading his comment.

    As for this episode, it’s damn silly all the way around. Completely and totally silly. But still an enjoyable hour, so what are ya gonna do? Life just isn’t fair, cause this episode *should* be better and yet it isn’t. But it’s still entertaining.


    I tend to agree with the consensus that this is entertaining but goofy, shallow, and stupid. I guess I'm willing to put up with a certain amount of goofy/shallow/stupid depending on what the episode presents to counterbalance it, but the ep just seems ill-conceived. I don't really mind revealing that 8472 are not purely malevolent and that a peaceful solution is possible; "your galaxy will be purged" as an extreme defensive posture in light of the Borg's aggressive attack makes sense. But the draw of 8472 was how alien they were, and this episode jettisons that for a chance to see some more (pre-First Contact) Starfleet costumes and some of the Starfleet HQ set. I guess the idea is maybe that 8472 learned to be nice by being in Federation bodies for a while, sort of in the style of the way the aliens are corrupted/saved by becoming flesh in By Any Other Name, but that sort of goes counter to the fundamental "they think humans and other Feds are out to get them" narrative, anyway, and so the result doesn't hold together. The only real thought I had about what this story *could* be doing is that it's a bit of a take-off on the Founders material on DS9, and imagining whether it would be possible to use diplomacy on another race of shapeshifters set on infiltration/domination, but even if this one-episode ultra-light take on the Homefront problem were a good idea, why make it 8472? The Cold War stuff just doesn't feel credible in the way something like TNG's The Enemy did -- an episode from which this episode borrows both the "we'll disarm first" solution and the idea of the captain asking a crew member to give their "blood" (nanoprobes in Seven's case), though the implications of Janeway maybe ordering Seven to give up her own nanoprobes from her bloodstream are not examined. Chakotay is the lead for most of the episode, but his relationship with Archer doesn't seem *that* consequential in the negotiations as compared to Janeway's own material, so the amount of time taking up on the Chakotay/Archer stuff doesn't quite seem worth it, despite Vernon's fun performance with some proto-Ellen Tigh snarking and boozing.

    The ending is especially weird if you stop to think about it. 8472 seem to believe that the Federation is a big enough threat to them that they must plan an elaborate subterfuge, not exactly their style. They don't believe Janeway that the Federation doesn't have weapons that could take them out. And so, when Janeway offers to turn over *her own ship's* weapons, they just accept that, even though the whole point is surely that if Janeway's lying, her drop-in-the-bucket weapons would have no real significance. And then Janeway shrugs off "Boothby's" prevaricating "well, we'll see, I'll put in a good word for not destroying Earth" and speeds on her way, not seeming particularly worried about the threat -- probably because the 8472's just look human and so not that scary. Whatever. The spy stuff early on, which takes up the bulk of the episode, is mostly fun and well executed, if shallow, as I said, and I don't mind the Classic Trekkian messaging, just that it's not handled with that much grace, and the ending is especially unsatisfying. 2 stars maybe?

    I found it slightly interesting but i always felt like they wrapped it up too quickly and gave up on species 8472 too easily.

    Where did 8472 get all of this information? They never say.

    Let's say they did get ahold of a starfleet database somehow. That would in no way let them act totally human. It's ludicrous. They are an alien species from not only another part of the galaxy, but from another dimension. How would they have the slightest idea what it means to be human? Whatever.

    How do phasers fire nanoprobes anyway?

    Why would Janeway give away the knowledge of our only real defense against these still largely unknown aliens, who threatened to wipe out our entire galaxy? Our ultimate weapon in exchange for some dna tech, and info about generators and environmental controls? Because she is the worst captain ever, that's why.

    There's lots more to bitch about, but I can't stand to think about it.

    An implausible idiotic episode.

    Zero stars.

    I'm going to bump my rating up for this one. I just watched the next episode and had forgotten what a true zero star episode was like.

    So 1 star for this episode.

    1. Enjoyable episode, Robert Beltran did a good job with it, I think he's a good actor held back by Chakotay being given a boring personality.

    2. Demonstrates how EVIL Janeway was in Scorpion. The Borg are the greatest threat to the entire galaxy, and when you discover they are at war with another species, you DON'T HELP THE BORG.

    The Borg will never return any favors to humans whom they will try to assimilate again in the future, but we see that Janeway made another dangerous enemy for mankind by taking sides.

    This is also, I think, the first episode showing Seven being wrong and the captain being right. (Although by being right here, it's an admission that she was horribly wrong in Scorpion.)

    I am watching this episode and now after all these years I find it stupid. The writers could not find a descent subject to write about that week so they come up with BOOTHBY the mindless gardener to be in charge of STARFLEET!!!! Ugh! This just shows the great warriors 8472 are boobs! They stole the info to begin with yet cannot figure out that gardeners do not run the military. Possibly, that is why the Borg were able to infiltrate 8472 space to begin with!

    The Boothby actor was one of my favorites when I was growing up but when they put him in Star Trek I felt sorry for him as he was like I am now, on his last legs. Actually, I stopped caring for him in MY FAVORITE MARTIAN because he took on that hateful and snide manner he used in as Boothby. I hate this episode and the regular cast except for Seven were idiots.

    An episode that manages to be pedantic, sermonizing, smug, pretentious and boring within 50 minutes of running time. 1 star.

    FF Rating: Watch the stuff at the beginning which is kind of fun and then FF over all of the ridiculous romance scenes. In fact just keep that FF button pressed until it's mercifully over.

    This episode is mostly above average and very good, but... the basic premise just doesn't work. Species 8472 came into the show wanting to purge the galaxy of all life. This episode wants to make peace with them. That's actually a good idea that could potentially safeguard the Federation for centuries to come. But they completely fumbled the ball. That would be like presenting the Nazis or the Soviets as they are in a work of fiction, and then at the end, have them be just misunderstood. Purging the galaxy of life is a serious thing to do. If it were me, I'd have this episode be about 8472 learning that other races in the galaxy are nothing like the Borg. That's a concept that really would have worked, realizing, "Gosh, you really aren't an expansionist, imperialistic power wanting to wipe us out and absorbing us into your collective like the Borg, you're really good people." They just didn't do that. One of the reasons Voyager really wastes its potential. This idea had promise, like everything else on Voyager. They just didn't make good use of it. But I still enjoy this episode for what it is. Boothby is always a delight. XD

    You don’t seem to cover the massive plot hole.
    How did species 8472 produce such an exact copy of Starfleet?

    All the people complaining that 8472 has been turned from evil to “90210” forget that
    a) the perception of 8472 has changed already since we now know they didn’t start the war and they are not some great evil as we saw in Prey (S4)
    b) this an allegory on the Cold War during which Russians were being depicted by the US as a cold-hearted, evil empire (google Ronald Reagan’s speech), when in fact they aren’t.

    As for the inconsistencies of the Earth replication, of course it will have errors, since 8472 have incomplete information about starfleet they are bound to have made mistakes. It’s a way for the writers to show that spying your enemy from afar is bound to create misconceptions (which is accurate)

    Amusing. Nice to see the Star Fleet Academy.

    Chakotay has such a way about him. It's no wonder Valerie wanted to try a kiss.

    I never really cared about species 8472, so it didn't bother me that they were neutered.

    It was preachier than Voyager normally gets, but fully in the Trek tradition.

    This was one of my favourite episodes from the latter half of the series when I saw it way back in the '90s, and still is! Not only are the BIG BAD aliens actually not as evil as they seem, it shows how hatred can spring from misunderstanding. Think of the context, Species 8472 were minding their own business when the Borg attacked! I can easily see why they think the non-fluidic universe should be "perged" as the one told Kes. But you can see that they weren't just mindless killers in the episode with the Hirogen. The 8472 they were hunting just wanted to go home. I think a peaceful resolution is a better story than all-out war, unlike other commenters here

    I like the ideas behind this episode but it's just seems too much of a stretch given what we know of Species 8472. One can understand their fear of the Federation after "Scorpion" but the whole bit of recreating Star Fleet and humans etc. seems like an overly elaborate way of preparing to destroy the Federation. I guess in a way it is somewhat like the Dominion planting shapeshifters among Star Fleet officers, but for 8472 to establish several bases in the DQ to master being human and then travel 60K light years to attack Earth seems a stretch to me.

    We know 8472 as being extremely powerful with all kinds of telepathic abilities etc. But they were 1-dimensional and VOY wanted to give them another dimension, so here we are.

    But this was an interesting episode -- good use of Chakotay here although it was very confusing at first. Was he in a holodeck or something in the opener? And how did the 8472 get such detailed info on the Federation anyway -- this should really concern Janeway. Her gambit is unrealistic to me, and this is supposed to be another bit of education for 7, who admits if she had her way, it would be all-out war. But at least Voyager knows 8472 still fear the Borg nano-probe weapons.

    Good to have Boothby as a reliable guest character -- that helps the episode a fair bit. I guess the negotiations and diffusion of paranoia is handled well -- it's just the whole premise that is shaky, for me. But the tried-and-true Trek ideals of coming to a peaceful and mutually beneficial understanding between 2 very different species is somewhat sensibly portrayed here.

    There was enough tension as both Voyager and the 8472 were prepared to fight. And there was enough tension with Chakotay on his date. Definitely an episode that holds the interest and I'm glad it didn't descend into the usual action sequences.

    One line cracked me up -- when one of the 8472 said "pon farr night at the Vulcan night club" -- Anyhow, the weakness of the episode is the lack of credibility of the 8472's plan to impersonate Star Fleet to such a degree from like 60,000 light years away.

    2.5 stars for "In the Flesh" -- decent, interesting episode but one that strains credibility even for VOY. For me, the 8472 episodes have been among VOY's best ("Scorpion" and "Prey") but here it's not really the 8472 and it destroys what mythos they had when they can morph into humans exactly and recreate Earth etc. But there are some worthy scenes with Chakotay and Boothby and of course the standoff and a nice, happy ending in TOS style.

    I loved this episode because of Ray Walston. Oh, and because of Ray Walston. Could have used more Ray Walston.

    "Anyhow, the weakness of the episode is the lack of credibility of the 8472's plan to impersonate Star Fleet to such a degree from like 60,000 light years away."

    The Dominion Changelings wave hello.

    “‘Anyhow, the weakness of the episode is the lack of credibility of the 8472's plan to impersonate Star Fleet to such a degree from like 60,000 light years away.’

    The Dominion Changelings wave hello.”

    Of course The Dominion had a stable wormhole so, yeah.

    @ Chrome’s Voyager Alt

    "Of course The Dominion had a stable wormhole so, yeah."

    For what we know about fluidic space, it might just be a simple as setting a point and entering our space. It might be like a mobile borg transwarp hub. Distance might be irrelevant.

    Right, we don’t know what fluid space is and is easy to conclude the writers themselves don’t know. The wormhole on the hand, is very well established over multiple episodes including the pilot. So the Dominion comparison is invalid and Rahul’s criticism is fair.

    @ Chrome
    "So the Dominion comparison is invalid and Rahul’s criticism is fair."

    So what's wrong with species 8472 practicing in the Delta Quadrant?

    They are telepathic, so they could gain the necessary info from their contact with the Voyager crew and any Borg they linked with. The Borg had federation/Earth knowledge.

    Remember, we (Federation) had an incredibly powerful weapon against them. One in which they had no defense... seems like a plausible angle for them to take.

    Yanks, it’s a matter of details. You may remember TNG’s “Future Imperfect” where machines could read Riker’s mind and create a “future” for him but it was riddled with holes, as would seem likely from simulating something the simulators know nothing first-hand about.

    Nor am I being unfair to Voyager, as I made the same criticism about TOS’ “Patterns of Force” copying Nazism. However, I think even Patterns makes more sense as they had someone from Earth with historical expertise who should understand and be familiar with the Nazis.

    I don't know that anyone is being unfair to anything.

    What I'm saying is that it's more than plausible for species 8472 to do this using the information they had, albeit patchy and incomplete.

    The episode itself gives no details but Janeway theorizes that they may have stolen info from the Borg. Maybe I’m missing something here, but the episode’s premise sounds like it’s built on quicksand.

    "Remember, we (Federation) had an incredibly powerful weapon against them. One in which they had no defense... seems like a plausible angle for them to take."

    I beg to differ, extremely. Let's recap what we learned from Scorpion.

    These were the guys who could one shot a Borg cube - that would be the same type of ship that could take on a Federation *armada* single handedly - with a ship the size of a runabout.

    Oh yeah and they could string together 9 of their little runabout ships for a makeshift death star / planet killer. And they were shown to have hundreds if not thousands of these ships. Do the math. That's what? 100+ makeshift planet killers?

    So yes, 8472 had no "defence" against the nanoprobe weapon except -uhhh using their hundreds of *death stars* to blow up the Federation in about 6 minutes?

    What's offensive about this episode is that it completely negates what we saw in Scorpion. It is a massive retcon of a species that had only been shown once or twice before. In other words, classic Voyager writing. Because yes, species 8472 could turn Earth into chunky rocks and probably blow up the sun while they're at it just for kicks, but Janeway defeated the Borg with coffee. Never underestimate the power of coffee.


    Your first point is really moot.

    I (Federation) have the knowledge and technology necessary to "open a rift" (or whatever they called it) into fluidic space. While the ships linking together is impressive, I'm prepared to conduct random genocide in your backyard... my resources are limitless and my resolve is absolute. .. as a matter of point, we have currently manufactured and stationed in excess of 1 million warheads (the big ones) ready to deploy....

    I do agree with you (see my comments above) about this episode and species 8472. They neutered a GREAT villain... better than the Borg in my view.

    To all the folks that claimed Species 8472 have been "neutered" and that no alien race would be empathetic, your response is so very human, albeit, American human.

    As I continue my journey through Voyager from beginning to end, this episode has been one of the best.

    "It's pon farr night at the Vulcan nightclub."

    Wow. Just wow. I wonder what that's like.

    Awful, misguided episode. The fact it neuters the 8472 isn't even the main thing wrong here - it's just really poor drama; insipid, pious and nonsensical. It's bad, but not in the ways that Voyager is more typically bad. Several of the dialog scenes are horrendous, then there's the issue of Walston's performance. Just a really ill-thought-out script that should have been either a) nixed at concept stage, or b) once it did make it into the draft phase, needed a hell of a lot more work.

    This episode is rubbish.

    8472 donning human skins, talking in idiomatic English, spouting dialogue like 'You can't trust them! Theyre seducing you!' Everyone wrapping up genocidal conflicts while strolling between the meeting room and the bridge....

    These are beings from another type of spacetime. We get all their complexity piped through the character actor awshucks rhetoric of a cameo.


    "In The Flesh" the fake Boothby (Species 8472) meets Chakotay in the garden opening scene. Chakotay asks him who he is ?... "Boothby's the name, been here for 54 years" .....

    *54 YEARS DUDE!!!* FIFFFTEE-FOUURRR Years!! ...

    (Chakotay should have been busted as a spy, right then and there! )

    Let's see if I got this straight:
    1.Chakotay arrives unannounced, one knows him,
    3.he's got a camera, and
    4. He doesn't recognize the head dude, who has been there longer, than the statues!

    Come on!!!

    This wasn’t bad, but they cut to the chase way too soon. There was way more story available with 8472.

    LOL, Spock's Ears, fair point. I enjoyed the episode, but you guys have convinced me of its many flaws.

    This is one of not-too-many episodes that stayed etched in my mind all these years since I first saw Voyager two-plus decades ago. I loved the Starfleet Academy recreation and the entire premiss of the show.

    What I really, truly loathed, and well rehashed by previous commenters, is the ludicrous denouement. Sit down with your sworn adversary and love-bomb them with some wry and witty repartee for five minutes, and presto, you're 9/10 of the way to lasting peace. If only someone would tell the Israelis and Palestinians... Hummus, not Hamas! Oy gevalt!

    Not only is the idea that bitter, bloody conflicts are just misunderstandings and suspicion absurd, but this episode managed to emasculate and eviscerate species 4872. That was a really cool race, with many potential story arcs calling for immersive and entertaining sci-fi action... - but now they, too, have joined the kumbaya Oprah collective.

    I guess the big bad polluters, the Malon, are now the closest to anything approaching a worthy opponent we'll have. Cosmic warming? Delta climate change? Who on Voyager is going to take the mantle of St. Greta? Ugh.

    I find it interesting that Jammers, writing in the 90s and at the height of the so-called Pax Americana, viewed this episode as a historical retrospective on MAD and the Cold War. Viewing this episode in 2020, and arising from my left-leaning, non-interventionist views on foreign policy, I can't help but note how prescient I find this episode's overall moral message to be.

    I suppose living in an America that has been at war for nearly 20+ years in the same region (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc.) can offer a new perspective on an episode that preaches understanding and building trust with foreign "adversaries". Perhaps the MAD parallel is a bit outdated, but I think the idea that you have two powers at a standoff is a timeless one. I mean, in 2020, you can see varying degrees of standoff between the United States and a number of countries and organizations including the Taliban, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. All situations, to one degree or another, can find some parallel with this episode.

    I just have one minor gripe. I find it somewhat gag worthy how much Star Trek, in general, hyper-focuses on the importance of Earth. Beyond the fact that the Federation is home to hundreds of alien species who all have their own home planets, a large number of the humans wouldn't be nearly as fond as Earth as, say, Janeway or Kim are. They would have grown up on starships or far off colonies. It may just be me, but I find it odd that Voyager's mission of returning home is almost always couched in the language of "we're returning to Earth" rather than "we're returning to the Federation".

    @MikeyZ I don't really think this episode is comparable to the Israel-Palestine situation. The "conflict" between Voyager and Species 8472 is barely a year old. There's no lingering animosity that stems from decades of active conflict and failed peace negotiations. The current situation is more surface-level in its level of mistrust between the two sides. That, I think, makes it much easier for diplomatic relations and peace negotiations to get started. Its more like military-type suspicion and caution of the other side's capabilities and goals rather than a deeper cultural type of mistrust that is taught to children in schools and everyday life.

    @Spock's Ears I did find that to be strange. Chakotay served in Starfleet for some time. He probably should have known who Boothby was.

    On a side-note, I always find it funny listening to Tom give 20th century examples to 24th century problems. It just makes me think of some colonel in the Situation Room bringing up how the French invaded northern Italy in the 1500s when discussing some strain between French and Italian troops serving in Afghanistan on the NATO mission.

    Too bad species 8472 is such an inappropriate subject for this allegory. The cold war was between two equal superpowers. The Federation is an insect compared to 8472.

    I can't bear this episode.

    I can't get over the perfect recreation of Star Fleet HQ and the pitch perfect 8472 posing as humans.

    An obvious question that Janeway didn’t ask - where did 8472 get their intelligence? The answer to that could have been so interesting. How did they know who Boothby was and know so many exact details? Missed a trick there.

    Next up - wherever they got their information from, it was out of date. Those uniforms were wrong.

    Bugged me.

    I agree with Jammer.

    It's good to see Chakotay as the focus, and that they gave him a real issue to solve instead of the one dimensional Native American theme he gets shoehorned into all too often. He reminded me of Kirk or Riker with his romantic diplomacy skills.

    I understand the criticism that a great enemy was neutralized and agree that it needed to be done more gradually. Other enemies in the Trek universe took great efforts to find peace with the Federation over many years, as opposed to Chakotay breaking down barriers on a single date.

    It begs the question: does Star Trek need to have black and white "bad guys"? Was this species pure evil? After all, it attacked the Borg, which was a terrible threat to many species. I liked that we got to hear their side of the story, and that common ground was found with a seemingly irrational enemy. I love battles just as much as anyone else (I loved DS9), but battles can also be fought at the negotiation table.

    One of the things that 8472 got wrong was the number of Ferangi star fleet officers. I saw at least 3 of them when in reality Nog was the first and only Ferangi to join star fleet.

    It struck me when re-watching this episode that it also came rather soon after the somewhat similar Changeling infiltrators on Earth arc of DS9. A couple of years by broadcast dates, according to Memory Alpha.

    Apparently the original pitch didn't have any of the political and military infiltration and shape-shifting - 8472 were instead to have been shown to have been the basis of various legends of demons and mythological monsters om Earth. That would have made the episode even more TOS-like.

    This is a good episode. I loved the concept of them working in an Earth-like training ground. I thought it was well handled. They get to the traditional Trek point in this one, but avoided long over the top preachy monologues, I always appreciate the more subtle approach, as opposed to the frying pan Trek so often hits us over the head with.

    I liked the episode overall, and it's executed well enough for 3 stars. It makes sense that Species 8472 is terrified of the Federation and Walston sells the hell out of his role. Kate Vernon is quite convincing as well.

    Voyager's own terror at discovering the simulation and instantly realizing the implications was great.

    But I agree, Species 8472 was "humanized" way too soon. Very alien aliens that held lots of potential.

    This could have been longer... and did Voyager ever learn how 8472 got such detailed information about Earth such that they could reproduce Starfleet HQ down to the personal of the gardener?

    Also, I'm old enough to remember the Cold War and remember thinking when this first aired that it was quite cringey when Tom pointed out the Soviets used to make fake towns. Super on the nose. At least his love of the (rough) time period had previously been established.

    Janeway's comment about finger on the trigger was way too on the nose, especially since the situation really wasn't that much like the Cold War.

    But all these years later, those statements barely register.

    It's too bad there was never any follow up with species 8472 after this episode. "I hope we can give this process alive" said Janeway... as we never even hear the name 8472 mentioned again. Yet another aspect of the series that had no follow through, just a Great Reset plot device. The reason why follow up would've been helpful was because Boothby said he would take news to his superiors but that he couldn't "promise the Moon'". That suggests the risk was never fully put to rest, it was just on hold.

    I really wanted to hear an explanation about how 8472 was able to recreate Starfleet HQ in such great detail even though they had never been to Earth. There was a vague reference to "obviously they got ahold of a database", but that's not enough. Even a couple of lines of dialogue could've resolved it and made it more believable.

    Although I loved the classic Trek approach to the conference room conversation, I found the immediate de-escalation a little difficult to believe, particularly where Voyager first shows up and everyone is armed to the teeth. The last encounter with 8472 was ruthless and cold, "Your galaxy will be purged." There was no reasoning with them, they were bent on destruction. The only thing the viewer can assume from "In the Flesh" is that 8472 in human form gave them a more agreeable disposition. I also wonder why their plan was reconnaissance and infiltration of Starfleet instead of just randomly showing up with a bunch of bioships and doing a planet-busting surprise attack on Earth.

    All in all, I liked this episode and gave it 3/4 stars. I just wish we got some follow up.

    I barely remembered this episode, but what jumped out at me the most about it was my feeling that the show is repeating its mistakes here. With the Borg, Star Trek had an inscrutable, implacable enemy that felt truly alien and terrifying - an aura that progressively decayed as the showrunners anchored them to human-feeling faces like the Borg Queen. Species 8472 should by all rights be even less comprehensible and even more terrifying: They're an extragalactic species whose spatial plane functions on fluid-based physics seemingly entirely unrelated to how real space works. This episode just treats them like any other species by literally slapping human faces on them, thereby robbing them of their aura of mystery and menace.

    The entire premise of the episode falls apart from there, starting from this one: Why does a species that lives in another dimension decide the best way to deal with the Federation is to create a facsimile of Starfleet Academy in our universe, coincidentally on Voyager's course? This is a species that we last saw dealing with a perceived menace by obliterating entire planets. Surely the amount of effort involved in setting up this convoluted shapeshifting gimmick is infinitely smaller than sending a couple dozen bioships over and renovating Earth into an asteroid belt. If that's how they deal with the Borg, why the complete attitude change with respect to the Federation? It just makes no sense.

    Unlike many episodes here as I do a rewatch (after several years) I remember this episode very well. It is probably my all-time favourite Voyager episode (or at least its way of there). I like the peaceful resolution between Voyager and Species 8472. It also shows that fear and misunderstanding led to the way both sides were ready to fight. While I don't like shows with grey areas usually, 8472 isn't an "evil" race, and unlike say the hive Borg, they aren't about conquest and/or destruction.

    @Planet of Hats It makes sense to me how 8472 acted since they obviously learned about Federation culture. If they studied various races, they can see that the Borg literally are nothing but a colony bent on absorbing all they encounter and making them join them. The Federation stuff they copied shows them as using art, and peaceful means of exploration. Perhaps this was so different than what they expected that they decided to study it

    I was sure I’d find unanimous guffawing at this episode and yet so many like it. Others above already pointed out most of the things that made my eyes roll out of my head.

    I don’t have a problem with 8472 being reasonable and persuadable. They don’t have to be evil; it follows from “Prey” that they aren’t. But after Prey continued to build up the mysteriously advanced and intelligent vibe, 8472 now turns out to be completely understandable by humans — and it’s the HUMANS who lead THEM into higher diplomatic, nonconfrontational planes. Doesn’t this go against everything Trek? Isn’t the idea that as species advance, they get better at solving problems without conflict? Shouldn’t this episode have been about 8472 tutoring Janeway & Co, rather than the other way around?

    Which brings me to: About 1/3 thru, I anticipated the moral dilemma here was going to be Janeway again doubting herself (continuing a theme from Night) because if she hadn’t teamed up with the Borg to battle 8472, then 8472 wouldn’t have decided to target Earth. I could see some existential angsting over how her decisions from a year ago were now about to cause an intergalactic war (and maybe some more of Chakotay pointing out that she did what she thought was right at the time and captains can’t anticipate every outcome or they’d be frozen).

    But then the episode sashayed right past that into kumbaya.

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