Star Trek: Voyager
"In the Flesh"
Air date: 11/4/1998
Written by Nick Sagan
Directed by David Livingston
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"The last 8472 I met tried to dissolve me from the inside out." — Harry in "understandable skepticism mode"
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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107 comments on this post
Thu, Jan 17, 2008, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Sep 12, 2008, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
The character's name is Valerie Archer.
Sat, Oct 3, 2009, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 19, 2010, 4:55pm (UTC -5)
And in 2010 there's talk of a new Cold War. Everything old is new again.
Thu, Jul 22, 2010, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 26, 2010, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
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)
Mon, Jul 25, 2011, 4:10am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Oct 11, 2011, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jan 15, 2012, 11:08am (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 7, 2012, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Apr 29, 2012, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
They took the extremely interesting, mysterious, and menacing Species 8472 and effectively neutered them with this story.
Mon, Apr 30, 2012, 8:25pm (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Apr 30, 2012, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 24, 2012, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 2:51pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 20, 2013, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 9, 2013, 2:00am (UTC -5)
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
Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 11:05am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 11:08am (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 17, 2013, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 8:23am (UTC -5)
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!
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 7:06pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jun 12, 2014, 12:34am (UTC -5)
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. ;) )
Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 8:49pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Oct 24, 2014, 11:10am (UTC -5)
Other than that pretty good episode, nice performance by Robert Beltran in this one and the previous episode too.
Fri, Oct 24, 2014, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
I refer to this episode as the "neuter Species 8472" episode.
Sat, Apr 11, 2015, 11:18am (UTC -5)
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 is.....to 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.
Tue, Apr 14, 2015, 6:15pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Oct 8, 2015, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 6:12am (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 6:20am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 10:00am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Oct 19, 2015, 6:22am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 9, 2015, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Dec 16, 2015, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
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?
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 4:02am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 4:14am (UTC -5)
"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."
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 10:02am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 10:10am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 19, 2016, 10:18am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 24, 2016, 11:29am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Feb 27, 2016, 6:37am (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 13, 2016, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 19, 2016, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
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."
Tue, May 24, 2016, 10:37am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, Jul 8, 2016, 8:54am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 8, 2016, 9:10am (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 15, 2016, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 1:17am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 31, 2016, 2:08am (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 13, 2016, 6:11am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Nov 9, 2016, 6:36am (UTC -5)
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
Fri, Mar 17, 2017, 5:01am (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 20, 2017, 11:44pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Apr 16, 2017, 6:44am (UTC -5)
Sun, May 28, 2017, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jun 25, 2017, 6:04am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 26, 2017, 12:06pm (UTC -5)
Anyways, the old guy made me laugh a lot, and I really liked watching Chakotay going under cover.
Sun, Aug 6, 2017, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 24, 2017, 2:50pm (UTC -5)
Hasn't he already? Twice, IIRC.
Tue, Oct 17, 2017, 2:38am (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Nov 12, 2017, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
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?
Sat, Dec 16, 2017, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 21, 2017, 4:49am (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 5:32am (UTC -5)
So 1 star for this episode.
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
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.)
Tue, May 1, 2018, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, May 22, 2018, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 1:50am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 1, 2018, 3:39am (UTC -5)
How did species 8472 produce such an exact copy of Starfleet?
Mon, Jul 2, 2018, 1:48am (UTC -5)
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)
Wed, Oct 3, 2018, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Nov 25, 2018, 2:50am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 12, 2018, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sat, Aug 17, 2019, 10:56pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 17, 2019, 10:57pm (UTC -5)
The Dominion Changelings wave hello.
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 4:18am (UTC -5)
The Dominion Changelings wave hello.”
Of course The Dominion had a stable wormhole so, yeah.
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 12:41pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
"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.
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Aug 18, 2019, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 5:29am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Aug 19, 2019, 11:49am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, Sep 16, 2019, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
As I continue my journey through Voyager from beginning to end, this episode has been one of the best.
Sat, Oct 5, 2019, 10:22pm (UTC -5)
Wow. Just wow. I wonder what that's like.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 10, 2020, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Jun 30, 2020, 1:23am (UTC -5)
(WHO DOESN'T KNOW BOOTHBY??!?)
*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,
2.no 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!
Sat, Jul 4, 2020, 12:20am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 7, 2020, 7:10am (UTC -5)
Thu, Aug 20, 2020, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
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".
Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 4:31pm (UTC -5)
@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.
Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 4:54pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 12, 2021, 11:26am (UTC -5)
I can't get over the perfect recreation of Star Fleet HQ and the pitch perfect 8472 posing as humans.
Mon, May 17, 2021, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
Next up - wherever they got their information from, it was out of date. Those uniforms were wrong.
Wed, Jul 21, 2021, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
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.
Sun, Aug 1, 2021, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 7, 2021, 2:01am (UTC -5)
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.
Fri, May 13, 2022, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
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?
Fri, Jul 8, 2022, 9:53pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Mar 7, 2023, 2:16am (UTC -5)
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.
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