Star Trek: Voyager

“Nothing Human”

2 stars.

Air date: 12/2/1998
Written by Jeri Taylor
Directed by David Livingston

"Ethics are arbitrary." — Krell

Review Text

Nutshell: An interesting episode that specializes in pulling the rug out from under itself. I like the arguments quite a bit, but I take great exception to the methods used to present them.

The setup: The crew beams an alien creature aboard Voyager just before its damaged ship explodes.

The problem: Soon after, the injured creature attacks Torres, using her as a "life preserver." It physically latches onto her body, and if it's not removed, Torres will die. Doc can't treat her, because he doesn't have the necessary specialized knowledge of exobiology.

The possible solution: Doc looks through his medical files and finds a Cardassian database on exobiology, and creates a holographic simulation of Doctor Krell Moset (David Clennon), a Cardassian specialist who can treat Torres.

The complication: A moral dilemma arises when the crew learns Krell was present during the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor and had tested many of his theories on live Bajoran subjects.

Maybe the creators decided to disregard caution—and even common sense—in their plotting of this episode, hoping this story could sustain itself with the central issue of controversy that arises with Krell's presence. They were half right. I liked many of the story's arguments a great deal; some genuine thought went into Jeri Taylor's script. But there are also some egregious lapses in judgment, and I don't think the episode survives its plot shortcomings. The drawbacks run so deep here as to make the central situation fundamentally flawed, which infects the rest of the episode. I'm not even sure where to begin.

Actually, I am. Let's start with Krell. I have a big, big problem with the exceptionally casual creation of a such a perfect holographic rendition of a real person, replete with surgical skills that would normally require years of acquired experience. In a word: how? Granted, DS9 has Vic Fontaine, who borders on sentience and has extraordinary social abilities, but it was said in dialog that his was a "very special program"; as such, I'd imagine it was created with a specific intention in mind by trained programming specialists who required great time, care, attention, and testing to get it right. The same goes for Doc's own program; he was the product of extensive research and development by Doctor Zimmerman. Doc's knowledge and technical abilities required a great deal of complexity in his technological makeup—just look at third season's "The Swarm" for plentiful evidence of such.

But here? Harry and Doc spend a few minutes in the holodeck, give the computer a few broad commands, and presto—Krell in the flesh, a surgical assistant who can supply Doc with the assistance he needs to save B'Elanna's life.


First of all, this opens an enormous can of worms (which will undoubtedly be ignored outright). Think of all the implications (the story certainly didn't): If a crafty ensign and a holographic doctor can just throw together a few data files to make a carbon copy of an actual specialist, why do we even need people to run starships? To put it another way, if Torres is lying in sickbay dying and the ship needs to be saved with a technical engineering procedure, Harry could just go into the holodeck, slap together her logs and published knowledge and a few personality files, and then ask this hologram what needs to be done to save the ship from the spatial distortion of the week. According to the logic of this episode, it would work.

Secondly, this idea goes against mostly everything we've been told over the years about the limitations of holograms. (Okay, except maybe "Concerning Flight," in which Doc's holo-emitter became a vessel for the life knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci. Please note that I didn't give that episode a positive review either.) And because this episode isn't about the nature of a hologram's existence (it's just an annoying incidental as far as the episode is concerned), then it's obvious that Krell's existence was nothing more than a device to bring about the central moral dilemma. As a result, this to me seems as arbitrary and magical as the much-feared "Fun With DNA" syndrome, which really rankles.

Third, the episode doesn't even seem to know what really makes up "Krell the hologram," and quietly concocts his nature in whatever convenient way suits the story. There's a great deal of greyness to exactly what data this hologram is comprised of. Just how much actual personality information was in the real Krell's data files, and why would it even be there? Personally, I don't think it should be there.

Why does this bother me so much? I'll tell you why. It's not simply that I don't buy the plausibility of such a perfect holographic likeness (which I don't), it's that the use of the hologram is a sneaky way of avoiding the real ethical issue here—especially considering the story at one point tells us that the Krell hologram isn't programmed with knowledge of the atrocities the real Krell committed. (Conveniently, he's programmed with all of Krell's surgical knowledge, opinions, personality, and so forth—but no memory of being a "bad person." How very nice.)

The real issue here is whether or not medical knowledge obtained through inhumane methods is morally right to use to benefit another. On more than one occasion, "Nothing Human" does a reasonably good job at tackling this question. There are several interesting arguments between Doc and Krell about ethics (leading to Krell's most intriguingly troubling line, "Ethics are arbitrary"). But the problem is, by putting so much ambiguity in the nature of Krell, the story often doesn't seem to know whether the other characters object to the idea of using his knowledge, or if they simply object to the idea of Krell himself.

What if Krell's medical database had been downloaded into a hologram of a Starfleet doctor? The answer: No one would have given it a second thought. We wouldn't have Torres' general prejudice against Cardassians setting up the unease. We wouldn't have a convenient Bajoran crew member (where did he come from, and where has he been for the last four years?) recognizing Krell as a mass murderer from the Occupation days. We wouldn't have Harry and Seven researching the databases to find out where Krell and his research came from and if crimes were in fact committed.

In short, the characters would be using the knowledge without knowing where it came from. And why should they know where it came from? If the data is in the Starfleet medical database, then one would think it's generally accepted as fair use by the Federation. While I find it generally unlikely that such a Cardassian database would exist in Starfleet records given the time frame of the Cardassian Occupation (that is, it ended only a few years before Voyager was lost in the Delta Quadrant, and at that time Cardassia wasn't on the best of terms with the Federation), if we grant that it did come to be part of the Federation's medical knowledge, the unspoken message here is that the databases are full of procedures that could've been obtained anywhere at any cost. Does that mean the Voyager crew needs to research every medical procedure and ask where it came from? I tend to doubt it, and the story also seems to doubt it, if we're meant to take anything Krell says to heart—but it's one important question that is never asked directly.

The episode's attempt to have its cake and eat it too leads this story into an analysis of mostly Krell the man, who, if you stop to think about it, isn't really part of the issue at all. He's just data that was assembled into a hologram who obviously isn't regarded as a real person (because, for one, his fate is entirely subject to Doc's decision to pull the plug after it's all over). As a result, I see Krell as an object of convenience in story terms. It's much easier to hate an evil man than an obscure memory of a possibly evil event or faceless data obtained at an unknown cost.

Now, I'll admit that may be part of the point. It sometimes takes drastic circumstances for us to realize the gravity of a moral issue. And Krell's dialog about using something—even if it goes against our morals—when we need it is all good for the sake of the argument.

Watching "Nothing Human," I'm reminded of third season's "Sacred Ground," which was full of ambivalence and tough questions without answers. The problem with that episode, which is also the problem here, is that the story wants to bring up issues and not address them in realistic terms, but instead only on extremely specific, uniquely plotted terms. Buried in this episode is lots of good ethical debate, but it's bogged down by an overabundance of technical side effects. The real question (i.e., what are the ethical implications of using this medical knowledge?) is at times lost in a sea of plot-rigged conditions (e.g., the amount of Krell's memories that are programmed into the hologram, the fact that a Bajoran officer happens to recognize Krell, the convenience of the central source of conflict being a hologram that can be deactivated at will, etc.).

And given that I'm against the idea of this hologram as a foundation of the story in the first place (which alone is almost damning enough to the episode), that doesn't leave us in great shape, despite the fact there are some admirable scenes in the crew's debate of the issue.

Near the end, Janeway makes one of her patented controversial decisions. I found this decision interesting, but ultimately not enlightening. She says, in a nicely written scene in the briefing room where everyone is arguing the issue, that she can't let her crew member die—she has to make the decision based on what's best for Voyager. She says she accepts all moral consequences of accepting Krell's help—that the procedure will be performed and that "we'll deal with the moral ramifications later."

All fine and good (especially the revisited notion about doing what's best for Voyager), but does Janeway (and hence the episode) really end up dealing with the moral ramifications? I don't think so. The first thing Janeway tells an angry B'Elanna after the operation is, "We have to put this behind us," even going so far is to order B'Elanna to move on. That's pretty extreme and controversial (and interesting as a result), but is it enough? No. It can't simply end there. Yet it does ... especially considering that all will almost certainly be forgotten by next week.

It's funny, because "Nothing Human" feels like a sudden attempt for Voyager to try winding back the clock to the Voyager series of yesteryear—back when "the Starfleet way" was often held in question given the nature of the Delta Quadrant. Unfortunately, such aspects of Voyager have been dead and buried since season two, and a resurrection of them here seems a little forced. Also, Janeway's decision doesn't seem to be consistent with such moral decisions she has made in the past, like her decision in "Prey" to potentially sacrifice the entire ship rather than see an 8472 killed. I wonder what kind of stir-up this episode could've been if there really were room for conflict on Voyager (which as we all know there isn't—the crew is just one big happy family).

All in all, "Nothing Human" is a real frustration. It's a story that has ideas that stand out as deep and provocative, but it doesn't know how to convey those ideas effectively. The result is an unsteady, unfocused clash of ideals that is sometimes entertaining while other times simply infuriating. There's certainly respectable ambition here, but that ambition doesn't net a successful result.

Overall, I'm rating this episode as mediocre. It's based upon a massive flaw that permeates the whole story. But it does have value because, like the "Tuvix" debate, it's something with complexities worthy of discussion. I could probably discuss them for days. I like that this story incited some reactions in me. I just wish I didn't have to completely throw conventional wisdom out the window while deconstructing the plot in searching for the truth.

Next week: Star Trek: Waterworld.

Previous episode: Infinite Regress
Next episode: Thirty Days

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

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

198 comments on this post

    That was so stupid not wanting to get operated because he's a hologram of a evil guy.

    The 'convenient' Bajoran is crewman Gerron, one of the Maquis members. He was introduced in 'Learning Curve'.

    How about Torres' body and uniform being in perfect condition after the alien who was forcefully attached to her and hijacking her respitory system - was removed?

    Not to oversimplify, but how much effort would it have taken for the Doc to say "computer, change physical paramater: species to human" when it was brought up to him (during its creation) that people might have a problem with a Cardassian?

    I agree with you; this is the one random time Doc can't just "read up" on whatever he needs to know, and creation of the hologram goes insanely easily. One blip and then the next attempt and he's perfect. Consider in one of the episodes where Doc goes away for a while (Message in a Bottle, or Life Line? I don't recall which) Kim and Paris go about the "simple" task of creating a new Doctor so that Paris can get out of his temp medic job, and it basically blows up in their faces, [I'll forgo the questions on why 24th century starships don't have copy-paste for him] it was insanely easy here; though I should note that there is plenty of historical conflict on this - Geordi created a fairly good Leah Brahams hologram back in the day, but at least he had to actually tell the computer what information to use to form her personality and information... it's hard to distinguish between the Leah hologram being an instant creation engineering database person and the Doc being a complex and arduous to create medical database person, and then Krell being once again a simple easy to create biology database person. Where is the line drawn?

    That said, even if Doc was too naive to change the hologram to a human before all this starts, I don't see why they couldn't still do it to eliminate Tores' resistance after she objects. "We did some more research and we found a human biology expert!"

    In addition to the comments made by TH, I want to add one thing: B'Elanna's ingratitude. Her life has been saved and she acts like Captain Janeway did something horrible to her. If she really felt that way, she could have simply taken a phaser, set it to kill, put it to her own head, and then fired. Of course she doesn't do that, so how upset is she really?

    Yes the fact that they didn't just change the Cardassian appearance is a bit odd of course, to say the least. And the quick-setup-hologram. And the Doc's sudden data limit. Oh well, contrived forced conflict but it was decently executed, so I won't complain that much!

    It wasn't Gerron, it was Tabor, and he popped up again later in "Repression".

    I love Janeway at the end of this one, basically saying, "Get over it #@#!". Torres always one of my favourite characters, but she really pissed me off here.

    They can make a 100% accurate hologram version of the Alien by a simple command from the doctor, but then they have to CUT the hologram open to find out how it looks inside (and make wild speculations while doing so). The hologram even suffers from pain, so the computer even understood the nervous system!!!

    At first Doc couldnt make ANY clue out of the creature, when scanning it with his instruments, this makes him look like a total idiot.

    Doesnt that sound stupid to anyone else here?

    Adding all the other inconsistencies mentioned by others here this episode is definetly way below 'mediocre'...

    I am surprised that neither Jammer nor previous commenters have noted that the ethical dilemma presented in this episode is a real one--shall the data collected by the Nazis during their horrifying experiments be used? The answer is not simple and is argued to this day.

    I think the Voyager writers must have been inspired by this particular issue--but I agree that the presentation was ridiculous. The possibility of a thoughtful exploration of the subject was undercut by the many stupidities of the episode.

    The crucial question, in relation to the tortured subjects of the Nazis or the Cardassians, is one the episode ignored entirely--what would the victims want? Would they like their deaths to have some meaning, or would they feel their suffering is being exploited?

    Once again, Voyager fails to even attempt an answer.

    So using the logic of this episode, if it were a Klingon doctor who they were getting the insight from, would everyone be so angry? Oh wait, I am sure the Klingon doctors never did anything like use live patients for subjects.....

    This one was a "miss." Although the issues they were raising were potentially interesting they were obscured rather than illuminated by the SF trappings which made it a rather pointless exercise. Probably doubly pointless because, back here in the real world, people may pretend to be arguing about these moral dilemmas but they're carrying in practical fact as if they aren't there.

    What grumpy_otter said.

    The idea is interesting but the 47 plot contrivances needed to make it happen makes the "allegory" portion of the script rapidly turn into the "-gory."

    At least the actors give it the old college try. At least we didn't run into another spatial anomaly.

    But man, was that alien beetle prop totally lame.

    I assumed they used the same technology the Doctor used in Darkling, and Janeway used last season...creating a hologram of a famous person extrapolating from all available information. It's not unprecedented.


    While it is certainly not unprecedented to create a hologram like that, and it is arguable relatively easy to create it, but look at all the gaping holes.

    1. How on earth would they have such technical information about Krell? I mean at best they'd have his medical information (even that is doubtful). As for creating other characters I guess the argument is that the characters we see are extrapolations of characters. So, for example in "Concerning Flight" the Da Vinci character is not ANYTHING like the real Da Vinci as we don't have accurate records of his personality. All we have are his paintings, inventions, etc. So, I guess it could be argued that Krell's personality is just one that is programmed by Harry (albeit it is done very quickly).

    2. If they can create one hologram why don't they have a whole medical team? Or equip other regions of the ship with holo-emittors and create another crew. I accept this would take a lot of energy but would it not be useful to have a Capt. Kirk and all his experience? Or just a hologram in important parts of the ship, so that if something happens (e.g. life-support fails) there is a backup. There have been many times where the doctor has been essential because he's not human and not limited.

    3. A general critique of hologram tech is "the safeties are off". What? How on earth could a simulated projectile cause injury? THis is the most contrived invention. Remember from First Contact where Picard shoots the Borg with a tommy gun. Very cool scene but highly implausible. If you get shot by the holographic bullet wouldn't it dissapear as soon as you leave the holodeck? This is another argument that can be used for the action sequences in "The Killing Game".

    Anyway holo tech needs to be taken with a big grain of salt.

    My biggest problems with this story are quite similar to our resident reviewer.

    I frankly don't understand how they made a hologram as sophisticated as the doctors in such a short time, especially when the show has established a premise that it is not trivial technology. Even in DS9 we are given a glimpse of how much work is needed to create a hologram of such capacity. I'm not buying the premise of this episode.

    Even more bothering, and this is something the review does not mention, is why all of a sudden did they think about creating a hologram for THIS procedure?

    This is the most baffling thing. How many times have we seen this type of patient need "emergency" treatment. Why didn't they make holograms for those episode too? Oh... that's right! You just needed an evil cardassian hologram for this episode!

    I actually liked the debate questions between the doctors, and among the crew. I also agree with the reviewer that the show completely downplays the drama and trivializes it. Seriously, if I were Belanna, I'd be pissed to. She has every right to be. And frankly, if this show were modeled after real people, Belanna might be pissed at Janeway for awhile.

    Also, didn't we just do an episode where the all the maquis died? The maquis were fighting... who? Oh... that's right - CARDASSIANS. Do you not think some of that might get thrown into the mix? I mean her meltdown just happened only a few episodes ago... and it's not even mentioned here. I think a real person would react much more strongly here.

    Of course, Voyager is just filled with puppet characters for the most part, with near zero continuity between the events that happen to the characters.

    And you are right - we never got an answer to the debate. None whatsoever. They completely cheesed out on these questions, thus trivializing the only good part about the show.

    Purely rubbish if you ask me.

    I just finished this episode, and it still bugs me how hypocritical the Voyager crew is. Any crimes that the entire Cardassian race may have committed in the past pale in comparison to what the Borg have done. Yet that's never stopped Voyager from benefitting from Seven of Nine's technology and expertise.

    Ugh, awful episode. Y'know this is Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres)'s least favourite episode. I see why.

    "If a crafty ensign and a holographic doctor can just throw together a few data files to make a carbon copy of an actual specialist, why do we even need people to run starships?"

    We don't. In the future humans are no longer slaves of technology. Just because we can do a thing does not mean we must do a thing. Ie, just because we can have robots flying ships we don't do it, what would the humans do?
    The joys of a capitalistfree society - people do what they want.

    With Voyager (and Scifi in general) I try to be generous in my suspension of disbelief, and focus on enjoying the ethical debates and emotional interactions of the characters. My enjoyment of this episode came from 2 sources:
    1. Krell Moset's character was charismatic and chemistry with the Doctor was great. The Doctor really wanted to overlook/deny any faults in Krell. I enjoyed how Krell could be likeable and yet his actions detestable, which rings true to real life at times.
    2. Krell's argument at the end about throwing ethics out the window when the need is great enough rang true, despite the Doctor's determination to wipe Krell's program. It seems fair to use this research if the victims (or their families) were willing to give meaning to their deaths and save future lives, but Krell should not be rewarded. The knowledge can do good, just like Seven's knowledge from the Borg, but how it was obtained was by harming others against their will.
    Peronal rating: 3 stars

    Well pointed out about hypocrisy. As Seven admits in the previous episode no less, 'I've helped to assimilate thousands of individuals', but no-one bats an eyelid. The only one with consistent views is Torres, who hates Seven as much as that Cardassian. (but then i think Torres hates everyone, even Paris).

    I suppose it's different if you can build weapons based technology on the deaths of millions rather than life-saving strategies based on the deaths of hundreds.

    I did like Janeway's comment, 'still seems to be some demons in here, hope that stuff works'. Hey, she can't be perfect in taking 'controversial' decisions. Didn't Picard violate the PD about 21 times or something?

    Note on Picardo. Excellent acting, makes me laugh out loud.

    Well, the episode itself was pathetic, for reasons others have so ably enumerated. But the ethical dilemma is very interesting, and I was particularly intrigued by what grumpy_otter said.

    Half my family was murdered by the Nazis; my father was saved from a concentration camp at five minutes to Twelve. Yet, I have no problem Nazi medical research - whatever methods it was obtained through - being used for good today. I reckon saving lives, including those of the very same people they tried to exterminate, is the best revenge (insofar as it's meaningful to talk about revenge against something/someone which doesn't exist any longer). Does it really make more sense to lose even more lives? Besides, who is to say that, between the original unethicaly discovery and the controversy erupting, a bona fide scientist would not have made the same discovery? This is just throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    As far as choosing to die rather than be saved using unethically-sourced research, I don't get it: What/whom are you protesting against? What/whom is that "protest" designed to hurt?

    I would have no problem electing to benefit from the Nazis' science-related discoveries; and would dedicate a portion of my saved life to fight against neo-Nazism and all forms of fascist totalitarianism. What good would I be to anyone if I was dead???

    Okay, unusually for Jammer, I think a lot of things went over his head here.

    First the issue of the hologram's creation: 1) remember Dr. Leah Brahms, Enterprise D's designer whom Geordi fell in love with via holodeck recreation? We see in a followup episode, that of course the holo-Brahms, in spite of its realism and ability to help save the day, is not a real person like the genuine article when we actually meet her. Why, just because Krell is charming and jovial, do we take him to be at the same level of complexity as the Doctor? I do not. He is programmed with a specific function and medical knowledge, not the kinds of adaptive and heuristic abilities of the Doc, and a superficial politico-image personality which is actually thematic to the point here. 2) We have seen the advantage in TNG and VOY of harbouring historical people in holographic shells which in some way represent them (Data might call it "an ineffable quality"). Dr. Zimmerman, the Vidiian woman whom the Doctor revivied, for example. Krell is no more absurd a creation than any other holographic character. Hell, Moriarti is far more ludicrous an invention, and one could easily argue his conjuring is a plot device.

    Okay, onto the meatier dilemma; the isolation of this incident in the database. Continuity issues are irrelevant unless they interfere with character development (which they sometimes do, but not here--how much knowledge of Cardassian medicine Voyager possesses or not affects no one's character). Now, the ethical point of the episode is not nearly so clearcut as much Trek can be--which is why it puzzles me Jammer doesn't dig it--while the point is definitely made (by Krell) that if the crew were to investigate its own medical knowledge, even or especially that derived by humans, it would find a similarly bloodstained history--thought not connected perhaps to events so recent and relevant to characters whose lives were directly affected by the events. So what is the solution? None is offered; as Janeway says, "You're both right." One cannot deny the ethical questionability of using Krell's research, but to second guess it at the cost of Torres' life sets a precedent of inaction in an almost infinite number of situations--ethical stagnation. Janeway's choice is to be amoral and save her crewman. We are reminded here of "Tuvix" where an equally difficult and unsolvable ethical situation required Janeway's controversy, but here the ethical situation is much closer to our reality.

    As an episode, we have lasting and thematic character development for the Doctor and between Janeway and Torres (quite a feat considering the latter spent most of her screentime covered by a rubber lobster). It is not perfect to be sure, but it is a successful and meaningful episode--and I think the number of comments on this very page is evidence of its ability to make people think--which I believe is a central criterion to Jammer's quality control.

    One comment about people's comparison with the Borg: the Borg are not evil, they don't make decisions as a people or debate ethics, that act on pure agression and desire; Arturis in "Hope and Fear" compares them to a force of nature, and I think he's right (at least until VOY deconstructs them with their analysis of the queen). One cannot feel moral objections to a force of nature.

    How convenient that suddenly there's a Bajoran aboard. One that doesn't want to work for Seven because B'Ehlanna dooesn't much like her (how'd he get into Starfleet with that 'tude?), even though the obvious goal is to help Torres survive...bad, bad episode.

    Just watched this one again...let's see so

    We've got a fascinating and complex moral issue, we have efficient and well-paced plotting, we have absolutely brilliant acting and subtlety written dialogue, we have beautiful scenes and camera work, we have believable and poignant character interactions, we have a balanced and meaningful distribution of rôles amongst the cast, we have an issue which is both unique to the Voyager situation and one which deals directly with the circumstances of home (the alpha quadrant)...yes I can see why this is such a terrible episode...
    Essentially every piece of technology in all incarnations of Trek are absurd depending upon one'e level of technical expertise. I could (and have) successfully convince someone of how warp drive is possible, but try that on a physicist. To complain about "magical" technology here is a non sequitor. It's all magical, it's there to make a point, not convince us of its own plausibility.
    The man was Cardassian not to evoke in us a natural prejudice against him (that's for B'Elana and Tabor)...we, being the progressive Trekers we are, force ourselves to be openminded--Okay, he's a Cardassian, one shouldn't lump him together with those Guls who ran the camps, he's just a doctor. And such a nice guy--The point of all this is to narrow the focus upon the actual moral issue more than most other situations would allow for. We see the characters getting wrapped up in histrionics and racial issues as most of us would, but we are left with the pure ideas presented. Very nice. The episode doesn't take a stance on the issue, which is not only fine, it's preferable. Janeway said it, both perspectives are right depending upon the circumstances, which in her view as captain must incline towards survival. Now, I know there have been instances where Janeway chooses to sacrifice (potentially) her ship and crew for a moral stance, but in those cases, the ethics weren't at all grey as they are here.

    You complain that the issues from seasons 1 and 2 don't appear enough, then when they do, you complain that they have been "buried"--I've said it before, the issues are continued from seasons 1 - 7 extremely well, just not the way you or others would have wanted them to be. That doesn't make them wrong or superfluous, you just don't agree.

    3.5 stars

    you guys need to get lives. i love star trek as much as the next guy, but the guy who wrote this is trying his best to sound intelligent, and failing. what he's coming off as, is an arrogant high school geek. it's fiction, meant for entertainment to get ratings, to bring money to the network. if the idiot author or anyone who posted feels they can do better, move to LA and try to get a job writing scripts, producing television, or directing specific episodes. don't try and arrogantly insult someone fora job done bad, when you couldn't even match their current skill, nor would you evern know where to begin. settled.

    "Janeway to Kim: beam the creature off B'elanna!"
    "I'm having trouble getting a lock!"

    Given the amount of times Kim is unable to get a transporter lock on someone/something, I begin to wonder - does he even know how to use a transporter?

    I'm watching this episode again, and the issues that bother me with it still bother me. I was hoping to google around and make sure I wasn't the only one, but from what I've read, no one has. I'm willing to accept the "instant perfect hologram" thing, they've done it all before in other Trek series. I'm willing to ignore a lot.

    3 things bothered me that no one seemed to mention:

    1. The first one was sort of touched on by other people saying "Why didn't they just change the physical parameters?", but let's take this one step further: How can anyone, let alone Torres (chief engineer and someone intimately familiar with advanced holographic technology due to repairing and upgrading the Doctor) not be able to separate a graphical representation and reality in her mind? Yes, I would find a holographic hitler as a nurse to be distasteful, but whatever, it's not hitler. It's tractor beams and force fields manipulating medical instruments. Everyone in the future knows this. Tom Paris knows this and even tells Torres it doesn't matter, but for her it does. For the Bajoran, it does. They shouldn't need to change his appearance because they're all "evolved" enough not to be spooked as easily as birds by a metal owl.

    2. There is a REMARKABLE lack of urgency during this episode. Harry and the Doctor goof off while programming Moset, making small talk, introductions, all while their crewmate is dying in the infirmary. Time spent by the doctor trying to get this hologram made and supervising the creation could easily have been spent studying up on those same databases, especially when the most qualified person to make a hologram was laid out in a biobed.

    3. This is my biggest issue with this episode, and no one has even come close to pointing this out: The database used in this episode was the EXOBIOLOGICAL database. While Krell may have been a war criminal who experimented on innocents, he came up on this search for his additional expertise in NON-HUMANOID EXOBIOLOGY. Any advances he made curing diseases were moot. The reason the doctor needed him was because the doctor very logically isn't programmed with information about non-humanoid species because he generally doesn't need to treat them.

    Simply put, none of the research they ultimately deleted was gained at the expense of dead bajorans during the occupation.

    Exobiology is a field Moset studied in and *contributed to* independently of his immoral acts. Hitler was a talented artist. Should we demonize art out of respect to the crimes committed by Nazi Germany? If Einstein had been a mass murderer, should we as a result completely abandon any field Einstein worked on and start from scratch? It makes no sense, and is completely irrelevant.

    For Janeway to allow the deletion of such critical information from their databases (not just limited to known species but presumably heuristic routines used when encountering unknown lifeforms) is completely unacceptable. Especially considering the situation they face encountering nothing BUT the unknown day after day on the way back to the Alpha quadrant, abandoning that data is effectively suicide.

    Fortunately nothing is ever truly deleted, and I'm sure she quietly went back and restored the databases from protected backups after the fact, so the mission wouldn't be compromised and her crew could get the warm squishy feeling of doing the "right thing". Win/win. That, or just rely more heavily on the borg databases with truly independently discovered conclusions about the same information.

    Excellent point, onan. And along those lines, Janeway readily harvests Borg technology left and right, all with no expressed concern for all of the horrors the Borg have exacted on not just one other race, but countless ones, some of which actually did have something to do with the specific technologies utilized.

    Scientific data don't have a moral qualifier. It makes no sense to delete data that could potentially save countless lifes because of the way they were obtained.

    This only changes if the use would somehow make new atrocities possible, e.g. by facilitating funding for new unethical research.

    The basic argument of those who don't want knowledge gained by unethical practices used is that setting aside such knowledge is a deterrent to future researchers who might be tempted by unethical practices in their own work. It's like how in the U.S. the police can't use evidence obtained illegally. You can argue that since it's already been obtained it does no harm to use it, but that just sets the stage for future abuses. (Personally I think the benefit of using such medical knowledge outweighs possible future cost, but others disagree, hence the debate.) The episode certainly did not go into any of this.

    A few more things:
    Harry and Neelix would have died were it not for Doc's use of Borg nanoprobes. Which the Borg developed for the purpose of assimilation.
    Leave it to Voyager to give us a boring Cardassian :)

    I forgot to mention that this sort of deterrent is also touched upon (again rather badly, IMO) in TNG's "Half a Life".

    I personally think the moral issue is a straightforward one. It is hugely unethical to experiment on unwilling individuals, but it makes little sense to not use the information found after the fact. To not do so would make the suffering of those patients completely pointless. If the information determined from their suffering could be used, as least some good would have come out of a terrible crime. Throw that information away, and they died for nothing.

    Tuvok pointed out that using the information would validate the methods used to obtain it, however if those that commit such acts are still given the equivalent to the society's highest punishment (i.e life imprisonment), possible perpetrators would still be dissuaded.

    I think it's foolish to condemn this episode on technicalities. It's about medical ethics and it's an issue it explores extremely well. I'd give this 3 stars, easily.

    "I'm against the idea of this hologram as a foundation of the story in the first place."

    And that pretty much says it all. It's obvious that Jammer never got any further than that. Sorry, I can't sympathize. So much of what's done with holograms on this and every other ST show is pure fantasy, it seems silly to argue about it here.

    I completely agree with what DeanGrr and Elliot say above. An excellent episode dealing with moral ambiguities. Three and one half stars.

    You make some VERY interesting points, Michael. I am strongly opposed to the use of non-human animals in any kind of scientific research [though some uses are worse than others -- see "Draize test"], regardless of whether this research saves human lives or not. The other species inhabiting this planet are not ours to do with as we please just because we can. I am very careful not to buy products from any companies that test on animals, because I fear that by doing so I would be encouraging further research. But there is a difference -- Nazi medical research is not still going on, so as you say, we probably aren't encouraging further such research by using that knowledge.

    Anyway, being written by Jeri Taylor, this episode does suffer from Janeway is Awesome [TM] syndrome. Janeway violates Torres' rights as a patient, and then she doesn't even apologize, she just says "we have to move on" and gives Torres a condescending look when she understandably lets out her anger.

    The final scene is also problematic. The Doctor refuses to listen to Krell when he rightfully asks "Where was your conscience when B'Elanna was dying on that table?" As Jammer said, the episode tried to have its cake and eat it too by using the knowledge to save Torres and then deleting it out of "good conscience". We viewers know very well that there won't be an episode in the future where they would once again have needed that knowledge to save someone and then have to face the consequences of the Doctor's decision here.

    The plot contrivances, while mildly annoying, are not why I consider this an only slightly better than mediocre episode.

    I simply find it silly that people would wring their hands and torture themselves with guilt over using knowledge that may have been obtained by unethical means. If the knowledge is available and can be put to good use (i.e. saving a life) it should be used. If said knowledge was originally obtained unethically and you want people to know about it you have what is called a teaching moment. Educate people. If it's a medical treatment, name it after the victims instead of the doctor. Tell people what happened and why it should never happen again, but don't deny them treatment. And certainly don't deny yourself treatment because you feel guilty about suffering you didn't cause and had no control over.

    The fact that this kind of thing is a real controversy says something about the human condition and how we often have an irrational relationship with our own guilt, even if and sometimes especially when that guilt is compassionate in nature.

    I changed my mind (again). I can't fault the episode on its ability to entertain just because I disagree with the ethical viewpoint behind the ending. The best episodes of Star Trek always invoke deep thought. This one is no different in that respect.

    The Cardassian makes a factual error when he says that Starfleet / Earth science was advanced by animal experimentation in the past. No it wasn't, since experiments on non-humans is not predictive for humans (the non-homology argument put forward by Dr. Ray Greek in his many books on the subject). He makes an interesting point worth pondering when he rationalizes experiments on humanoids by referring to animal experimentation. The Doctor makes the false distinction between human and non-human "people." In fact there are many non-human people in Star Trek and also currently on Earth. Levels of intelligence and technological sophistication should not matter if a creature is sentient. If it did, then technologically superior highly intelligent alien species would be morally justified in experimenting on humans. Since we know they are not, it also stands to reason that humans are not morally justified in experimenting on non-humans of any kind. The Doctor actually recognized this when he insisted on saving the parasitic alien creature, whom he knew to be sentient. Rats and mice are also sentient and thus equally deserving of moral consideration. I wish Star Trek had explored this important issue a bit more closely, since it was brought up, and that the Doctor had argued that the Federation no longer performed barbaric experiments on animals (a fact we are made aware of in TNG, and in the episode where Janeway argues with a vivisector in the brig whose species is conducting multiple experiments on the crew). As for the ethics of using Krell's knowledge, obtained as it was through torture, I'm not sure how that applies to the exo-biology he is using to treat Bellana, since that creature's physiology is so radically different from a Bajoran's. However, it is good that the ST writers raise this question, as it is important one.

    @Paul York
    You are quite wrong. Animal experimentation is done because it often is generally predictive of human response to treatments and medicine. Not always, but generally.

    One of the biggest reasons rats are so popular for medical studies is because their digestive tract has a high similarity to humans beings. Thus drugs and chemicals ingested by them often have similar effects on their physiology as on ours.

    Something that you should also consider: Virtually every treatment and medicine made today, yesterday and in the last 100 years was tested first on animals. If it doesn't work on animals, it never makes it to human trials. So those who advocate for halting animal testing are demanding that all testing be stopped. No new treatments, and no new medicines.

    The moral arguments in the show are really annoying. Whether or not the Krell hologram should operate on her, or exist on the ship long-terms is a fair question, but proposing to delete the findings of research is just stupid. I can understand the pain associated with such things, but it seems obvious that to delete the few positives that came out of the horrors the man committed only serves to remove any possible meaning the deaths he caused. At least that Bajoran could say, "Yes, that man murdered my grandparents, but at least some small shred of good came from it." Delete those findings, and nothing changes except that his grandfather's death becomes 100% meaningless. He's still dead, and the tragedy still occurred.

    In some ways, the story would make more sense if the hologram angle were dropped entirely. Suppose it was originally about a visiting alien scientist (not unlike Jetrel) brought in as a consultant. But how would our heroes know about his past atrocities, and why would they care? To solve that problem, the Cardassian was added, with more dramatic responses from the crew, despite the plot holes.

    However, according to Memory Alpha, the Cardassian angle was the original premise and the rest of the story grew from there.

    Just because knowledge was obtained through less than legitimate means it doesn't mean we just toss the research. Deleting it is absolutely silly. If it works, it works. It doesn't really matter how we came about that knowledge.

    If we came about the knowledge that plants produce chlorophyll for instance by cutting open humans and plants, observing them while they were alive, we wouldn't toss that research because that is simply the way plants work. No matter how we did the research the result would still be the same because that's just the way the world works.

    To say that we came about this research through immoral actions doesn't really mean anything because we could simply repeat the experiments without the immoral parts and it would come out the same way because that's the way the world works. Deleting the research is just saying "We're not going to acknowledge the way the world works in this particular instance because we found out how it works in an immoral way." Which of course is silly and stupid.

    The only way this ep works is to make it actually *illegal* in the Federation to use the holographic info. Sounds silly but it also sounds like something the Feds would do.

    Subsequent problems like why is the info in the databanks would have to be worked around.

    I agree with just about everyone but want to bring up a couple of things no one has mentioned.

    I would have liked for Janeway to have alluded to all of the folks who have died since she's been Captain and make that factor in to her reasons. "Dammit, I don't like it either. But if I can help it I'm not loosing another crew member!" Or something. I agree with her that Voyager needs B'Ellana. Even if it means that she treads all over her rights in this case. Captains have to make tough decisions. Which also bugged me that she put the decision to keep or ditch the Cardassian on the Doctor's shoulders. She should have made the decision, period. End of story. But she also owed B'Ellana an apology. Something on the lines of "I'm sorry. But sometimes I have to be your Captain and I can't be your friend." Heck they could have had B'Ellana walk out mid apology and you see Janeway regret that she's hurt her Chief Engr. It could have been a relationship that took the rest of season 6 to repair.

    I am not sure why Jammer is so bent out of shape regarding the creation of the holographic Krell. There is a huge amount of precedent for programming and creating complex holodeck characters out of thin air. Two offhand examples are seen in "The Thaw" (in which a fake Janeways is 'programmed to respond the way the real Captain Janeway would'), and "Worst Case Scenario", in which basically the whole crew is recreated. Oh, I should also point out that "Alter Ego" implied that apparently holograms and sentient life forms are essentially indistinguishable. Actually, these ideas were established in TNG when Geordi recreated Leah Brahms and Data recreated Sigmund Freud, among others.

    So by this time in the series I just take it for granted that holographic characters can be created from nothing. The Doctor constantly reminding everyone how complex his program is could be taken as another example of his pretentiousness. The episode in which Kim and Paris try to create a new Doc, and he just ends up reading the encyclopedia, was actually an exception to the rule.

    So with that out of the way, I will give my thoughts on the episode: cliches and bad acting in the first half, but the rest was interesting and innovative. The Moset character was captivating. You don't hear lines like "Ethics are arbitrary" in Star Trek every day. I was also as stunned as The Doctor at how hypocritical Krell was in citing the Hippocratic Oath.

    What I want to know is how the *** this life form jumped right out of a force-field. Never explained. I also find it odd that this alien is apparently impervious to force-fields yet it is vulnerable to a holographic scalpel!

    On balance, I think it was a good epside, and would give it 2.5 or 3 stars. I could see why Roxann Dawson hated it, though. She spent the entire episode with that HIDEOUS thing on her.

    Oh, and the name of the episode is a brilliant double entendre.

    @Peter York
    " Rats and mice are also sentient and thus equally deserving of moral consideration"

    While any living creature should be due certain moral considerations, your statement that rats and mice are sentient is an error that animal rights folks constantly make. Non human animals are obviously alive and conscious ie: they are aware of and react to their surroundings, but because they are still slaves to instinct, they are most definitely not sentient.

    Sentience by definition, requires several factors. A sentient being must be self aware, must be able to perceive their own mortality and must also possess a sense of altruism, or in other words, that there are things bigger or beyond themselves that are worth sacrificing for. And they definitely must have free will, and are not controlled by ingrained instincts. Despite popular belief, Humans don't even possess a true survival instinct, let alone any others. Our altruistic nature suppressed our survival instinct long ago. Involuntary nervous system functions, ie: breathing, heart beat etc are not instincts.

    As an example, the fact that any non human animal mother, in the face of starvation, would eat the last bit of food and let her offspring starve or even eat those offspring to stave off starvation, proves they are not sentient. A human mother would never conceive of such a thing, and that is because humans and humans alone on this planet are sentient. She would sacrifice herself for her children every time.

    Now there are a small number of non human animals on earth that can be considered semi-sentient. Dolphins, chimps and even some octopus have some level of self awareness, ie: some experiments have shown they can recognize themselves in a mirror. Dolphins also have demonstrated some level of altruistic behavior ie: recognizing drowning humans need help and keeping them afloat. But because these animals have not evolved to the point where the are totally free of the controlling effect of instincts on their behavior, they can still not be considered fully sentient.

    @Mike P

    You can't make that claim. Elephants are definitely sentient, as are guerrillas and to a lesser extent, chimps.

    The mouse and rat claim is out there but all mammals have some level of self-awareness. The only people who still say otherwise are the ones with a financial stake in the matter, their cronies and well meaning people who are simply misinformed.

    Yep, once again, really inconsistent reviewing from Jammer as far as Voyager goes.

    There is a huge amount of precedent for this use of holograms in Trek.

    I fully agree with Elliott and Onan and others.

    Vic Fontaine's presence on DS9 is defended by Jammer because someone says "he's very special". The Geordi-Brahms episode gets 3 stars. For God's sake, Nog even lives with Vic and does his accounts, but that's OK.

    The Cardassian doctor can't be a medical expert because he's a hologram created of the fly, but Brahms can be an engineering expert despite being created in an equally improvised way and also being the basis for the episode?

    This episode explores an issue, doesn't do so in a black and white way.

    The only arbitrary thing here is the nitpicking, which unfortunately isn't applied evenly to all the Trek series reviewed here.

    I bet if The Doctor was given the amount of time on his own that it took to recreate a whole nother hologram complete with personality and then the time for it to recreate a whole nother medical lab, he would've easily been able to improve his surgical abilities from the initial forecast "irreparably damaged system" to the eventual outcome of "severe nervous system trauma".

    So this entire episode was a futile exercise just to remove the two letters "ir".

    I'm in two minds about this episode.

    On one hand I think it's a good example of what Trek does best: tackling big ethical and moral issues, making valid arguments for both sides, letting the answer be up to the audience(regarldess of the chloice our main character ends up making).
    The execution is great - the dialog is really well written, the delivery by the actors is passionate and emotionally engaging (not something Voyager usually does well).

    On the other hand ... contrived plot with huge holes and character discrepancies and .. well, stuff that just plain doesn't make much sense at all.

    I understand when people say "don't let details that dont make sense spoil the rest of the episode for you" - and I wish I could follow that advice to just shut out those details.
    I love the taste of a good moral dilemma presented with good dialog, but ... when delicious strawberries a presented on a plate of faeces, it kind of ruins the whole dish for me, no matter how much I like strawberries.

    Agree with Elliot; and what fine camera work and choreography!

    "If a crafty ensign and a holographic doctor can just throw together a few data files to make a carbon copy of an actual specialist, why do we even need people to run starships?"

    Thank you very much for this perfect piece, Jammer. You are 100% right. How crappy a plot excuse/device has to be, so people would complain regardless of how deep is the moral debate that comes ahead? Wait, I agree that we should not let small plot holes to divert us from the main stories and deepest debates that Trek can offer. Sure. But let's not go to the other extreme as well. Sorry, in telling a story, it sometimes becomes pretty damn important how the story is told. Especially when it affects the universe where the show operates in. Jammer is right. If it were so easy to create operating holograms, there would be no reason for Starfleet not having a lot of holo-people working around. It does not matter whether in TNG or any other instalment Trek has delivered other holo-absurdities. Nor it matters if what came later was good. I am fully capable of recognizing a very good episode moral question and execution while criticizing a major plot absurdity.

    And so, now turning to so-called moral issue treated by the episode. I loved the debates! The scenes between The Doc and the Cardassian, the debate between Parris and Chakotay, Torres' anger on the captain... were all amazingly good! Very powerful moments. I could also understand the reaction of the Bajorian, and even Torres’. But in the end, although it made total sense for me to debate on whether or not the data from the Cardassian should be erased due to moral considerations, debating on even treating Torres felt forced and artificial. What sense does it make to condemn a patient because the needed knowledge to save him/her was acquired under faulty ways? What is the fault of the current patient? It is nonsensical at the context it was presented. Also, I though odd that the moral decision was just put in the Doc's shoulders. The captain got a bit lazy, Hugh? Even though, I am happy the episode brought all that to the table. And it was mostly solid and certainly touching and powerful. In the end, an episode that deserved far far more than the 5/10 that the two stars sort translates into. Strongly underated.

    Interesting episode, except that they're setting up a cardboard tiger. Why couldn't the doctor just download the info into his database? (He could have deleted some opera if he didn't have the room). And if it's so easy to create this guy, why has it been so difficult to create another doctor? In 'Message In a Bottle' they were unable to create another doctor, when they thought the Doc may have been lost. The whole thing is just annoying. (However if iI don't think about any of those incongruities, I can still think this is an okay episode).

    Interesting how an episode so fundamentally concerned with medical ethics could make so light of the issue of patients' rights. Especially in the case of the Doctor, whose ethics drove him to sentence and carry out the murder of a sentient hologram (why was Krell Moset less deserving of personhood than the Doctor himself, who most likely would've demanded and received a trial and legal representation if his deletion were even proposed?) over a matter of ethical outrage, yet apparently had no qualms about administering treatment to a patient who had clearly refused it. And I don't want to hear about Janeway's orders. The Doctor wouldn't even give Tuvix an injection because it amounted to euthanasia without consent, forcing Janeway to do it herself, yet he was happy to perform delicate experimental surgery on a patient who had expressly declined to allow it. Janeway couldn't even require him to do it if he had objected anyway, since we know the Chief Medical Officer on a starship outranks the Captain in medical matters. Where were the Doctor's cherished ethics when he was treating B'Elanna without her permission?

    I'd like to note, that real world model for this episode would be rather Japanese Unit 731 than Nazis. Nazis, although cruel and inhumane, were like kids in playground compared to these oriental butchers.

    There is really no dilemma about medical research in the episode. If it's already been done and recorded, doesn't really matter how it was acquired. When someone I care about is dying, and there is a known cure that doesn't cause any more suffering to anyone at present or future, I could care less where it came from. Just use it.

    Could someone's feelings be hurt? Maybe. Feelings are very low on the totem pole of importance compared to someone else dying. They can suck it up and tell themselves that their suffering wasn't completely in vain.

    Also... what about all the borg technology that's been used in other episodes. If it's borg technology, it obviously wasn't acquired in any nice way. Someone suffered for it. Yet in dozens of episodes that's a non-issue.

    Mediocre episode at best. Highly unplausable, also an unrealistic dilemma.

    "I'd like to note, that real world model for this episode would be rather Japanese Unit 731 than Nazis."

    If you look up Mengele's experiments in hypothermia you will see that we STILL use his knowledge on how to deal with hypothermia victims. So one could argue that, as most science fiction is, you can see more than one parallel to us in that mirror.

    thanks for the review. I agree, the episode was pretty bad for most the reasons you stated.

    Jammer's comment from this episode :

    "Harry and Doc spend a few minutes in the holodeck, give the computer a few broad commands, and presto—Krell in the flesh, a surgical assistant who can supply Doc with the assistance he needs to save B'Elanna's life.


    and from "Elementary, Dear Data" :

    "Who cares if he instructed the computer to create an adversary that could 'beat Data' as opposed to the fictional Holmes? The computer's sentient capability is the issue, not whether misspeaking one word can, or even does, cause it."

    Just an interesting juxtaposition, I think.

    In all fairness Elliott, the point of the VOY episode was absurd, even if the episode itself turned out pretty good. Any excuse as to why the Doc couldn't just access all the information in the computer database and do the work without consulting "holo-Crell" is a joke. I always though the episode would have worked better on DS9 with the real Crell wanting to treat Kira.

    That said, if you wave away the nonsense of the holodocs computer finding creating a holomatrix to talk to more efficient than directly accessing the information, the rest of the 45 minutes after that is quite good.

    What's absurd in Voyager is not necessary that they CAN make Crell, it's that they needed to. And beyond that, Crell is practically a new EMH and there was an episode where Harry was unable to create one.

    In TNG the only "oddity" is that a holo character was given sentience. I don't know that those 2 things go together.

    I didn't like this episode because it felt like everyone was making a mountain out of a moleheap. They create a hologram that can fix B'elanna's condition, but she (and some never heard of crewman) despise him for things the person the hologram is based on did in the past.
    Well, ok, but that's not him, though, is it? What the real person did is not what the hologram did. As a matter of fact, the hologram didn't do anything.
    I didn't buy the whole 'we can't use his research, because it was acquired by unethical means' thing either. Do you know how much of Doc's knowledge was acquired by unethical means? I'm guessing it's a fairly large chunk of his database and yet you have no problem using that on a daily basis. Why would this Cardassian be any different?

    Honestly, I was with Krell regarding his stance on how to apply medical knowledge. It benefits the people of today and tomorrow. You can't change the past anymore, but that doesn't change the fact that that research remains usefull today. It saves lives today and will continue to save lives in the future.
    Heck, I would even go so far as to say that Krell embraced the whole 'needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few' concept Spock was so famous for. If he hadn't done what he did, many more would have suffered. You can debate the rights and wrongs of this all day long, but in the end someone still has to make a choice. He chose to harm people in the short run so his research could save countless more in the long run. Whether that's ethical or not, the damage is already done. Why not use what became of it for the good of mankind?

    Computer change visual and personality parameters of Krell from Cardassian to Ferrengi.

    Crisis averted, Hilarity ensues.

    @Dennis - People like you are responsible for "Profit and Lace", "Inside Man" and "Acquisition". You know that, don't you?

    Also, they have a freaking exobiologist on board. Poor Samantha Wildman.

    This episode had some big flaws (too much playing it safe, sensationalism, use of strawman) but enough that was good that I would call it a success. I thought it was clear that holo Krell, especially his personality and opinions, was his public image (from medical conference participation and Cardassian-released information) rather than necessarily close to the real person.
    I especially liked the ending. While Janeway saying that they should discuss the morality later and later refusing to discuss it is frustrating, the episode pretty much admits it's a cop-out, pulling rank to get utility, Torres is still pissed and the Doctor's final actions suggest he regrets both the captain's and his actions and does make a sacrifice so that it won't happen again.
    One aspect that hurt/made weird made the Nazi doctor analogy is that the Doctor earlier suggested that Krell's work, both in research and general practice, really did help many Bajorans; an analogy doesn't have to be exact but that seems like too big an exception when otherwise the analogy tries to be pretty direct and exact.

    Although perhaps not intended to, Torres practically encouraging Paris to defy orders in the next episode can be seen as a follow-up.

    Jay - Sun, Mar 6, 2011 - 2:43pm (USA Central)

    "How convenient that suddenly there's a Bajoran aboard. One that doesn't want to work for Seven because B'Ehlanna dooesn't much like her (how'd he get into Starfleet with that 'tude?),"

    He didn't get into Starfleet. He was a Maquis.

    Jay - Sat, Sep 3, 2011 - 1:10pm (USA Central)

    "along those lines, Janeway readily harvests Borg technology left and right, all with no expressed concern for all of the horrors the Borg have exacted on not just one other race, but countless ones,"

    8,471 species to be exact.

    Paul York - Tue, May 8, 2012 - 7:08pm (USA Central)

    "The Doctor makes the false distinction between human and non-human "people."

    No, it wasn't a false distinction. It was a very true and valid one.

    "In fact there are many non-human people in Star Trek and also currently on Earth."

    No, there are no non-human "people" currently on Earth.

    "Levels of intelligence and technological sophistication should not matter if a creature is sentient. If it did, then technologically superior highly intelligent alien species would be morally justified in experimenting on humans. Since we know they are not, it also stands to reason that humans are not morally justified in experimenting on non-humans of any kind."

    Oh for fuck sake. More extremist animal rights nonsense from you. Most animals on Earth are not sentient. Experimentation on them is completely justified to save human lives. The comparison of Star Trek aliens with non-fictional non-human animals is absurd.

    "The Doctor actually recognized this when he insisted on saving the parasitic alien creature, whom he knew to be sentient. Rats and mice are also sentient and thus equally deserving of moral consideration."


    Rats and mice are sentient? Give me a fucking break! How do you feel about anti-lice shampoo? A war crime?

    Dude, you've been hugging trees for far too long!

    "However, it is good that the ST writers raise this question, as it is important one."

    No, it's not. The issue in this episode was complete horseshit! As others have pointed out, Janeway has no qualms with using Borg technology. And even if a cure for cancer would have been developed by torturing and killing Jews in concentration camps, that cure should still not be discarded. Using the cure to save the lives of those that the Nazis wanted dead would be sweet revenge.

    This episode was bullshit from beginning to end. The "morality" here was an insane construct and much to do about nothing!

    Mike P - Sat, Aug 24, 2013 - 12:58am (USA Central)

    "Despite popular belief, Humans don't even possess a true survival instinct, let alone any others. Our altruistic nature suppressed our survival instinct long ago."

    This is completely false. We possess tons of instincts, including the instinct to quickly remove our hand from a hot stove.

    And we certainly do possess survival instincts. Plus, many humans (like myself) do not have an altruistic nature to suppress our survival instincts or any other instinct. This doesn't mean we don't possess any morality, but as a libertarian, I sincerely believe that altruism is the biggest evil ever conceived by humanity. So there goes your theory that all of us have an altruistic nature.

    Altruism has nothing to do with kindness towards others. Altruism means that you place others in a superior position to yourself. Altruism is masochism and emotional self-cannibalism. Love, kindness, and empathy towards others are very good things, but our motives for those good things are always selfish. Take away that selfishness in the name of bullshit "altruism" and you take away all those good things too!

    Altruism - especially altruism to the State - is responsible for every evil and inhuman atrocity and genocidal massacre ever devised. No totalitarian government could possibly arise to enslave a population of selfish people who experience love, kindness, and empathy towards other people with selfish motives. Only by decoupling everything good and beautiful from selfishness (which is what altruism attempts to do) can you destroy the only motivation for everything good and beautiful and instead get sick dictatorships like Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia where people are ordered to deny themselves and submit fully to the State in the name of "unselfishness."

    Altruism isn't our nature. It is against our nature. And everything good inside the human spirit (love, kindness, empathy)is predicated on selfish motives that altruism, with its idealistic bullshit, threatens to destroy! Far from being our nature, altruism is the biggest enemy of human nature and the destroyer of every good thing. It leads to nothing but death camps and misery, and takes away the only natural motivation (selfishness) to be kind to anybody!

    Long live love, kindness, and empathy!

    Fuck altruism!

    I agreed with Janeway back in "Tuvix", but I can't say I agree with her here. B'Elanna expressly said she didn't want treatment, and it's her own life that's at stake so she has the right to refuse certain methods. I don't know what the captain was thinking except that she's getting so obsessed with maintaining the status quo on her ship that she doesn't care about human rights anymore.

    That said, this episode was an idiot ball of insensitivity. Whose bright idea was it to have a Bajoran be in the room when working with a famous Cardassian? Like other reviewers, I am puzzled by why Harry didn't augment his appearance to begin with if he recognized controversy. Oh and deleting the data is equivalent to admitting you were wrong to use the data to begin with, why doesn't the Doctor at least stick to his guns on this?

    Unfortunately, this episode couldn't do what DS9 had done with "Duet" or TNG had done with "The Enemy" and actually confront the racial hatreds. Instead were stuck with a message that Janeway can't afford to be as enlightened as Picard or Major Kira.

    1.5 stars.


    Elliott (and others) are right in a sense that there is already precedent for this holographic representation in Leah Brahms. There's also no evidence that this personality is actually similar to the real Krell Moset. After all, HoloLeah was nothing like the real Leah, and this hologram didn't know about the atrocities. It's certainly possible that the computer gets a best guess and just downloads the right personality for a person of that Myers-Briggs personality type. Close enough, right? So arguments that there's no way the computer would be able to replicate Krell so perfectly, I think, are misguided.

    I'm also willing to assume that the Doc was anthropomorphizing him a bit. In other words, the Doc was pretending he was real and sentient when he was really just another program. We do know the EMH has a bit of a chip on his soldier about being a hologram, and may care more about other holograms then the humanoid crew would.

    That said, the holo-aspect still seemed off. Maybe the Doctor wouldn't mind conversing with the hologram, but Kim? Only Paris treated Krell like, well, a computer program. Time was important, why are we worrying about arguing with a hologram? Even more so, why is the hologram being given a part in the argument? It's just a computer, unless you really believe the computer can create sentience that easily (Moriarty notwithstanding...). It shouldn't have a say in the ethical arguments. And at the end, it was already writing a paper on the subject and looking forward to more collaborations? Yeah, looks like humans are completely pointless, the computer can do everything. So yes, the emphasis placed on Holo-Krell bugged me.

    But whatever, let's ignore all that. Heck, let's transfer this episode over to DS9 (pre-Dominion War, of course) as Robert mentioned so we can have the real Krell. Kira can replace Torres, Odo replaces Paris, Bashir the EMH, and Dax replaces Chakotay. Let the storyline and arguments play out the same way. Would this end up being a great episode?

    I don't think so.

    I mean, it's great that, for once, Trek didn't go for the sledgehammer style of making sure one view is the Right One and all else are only held by primitive irrational stupid people. Nobody backs down from their opinions, and everyone gets in at least one good argument. On the surface, at least, that should lead to a compelling drama. So what was the problem?

    It wasn't that the arguments weren't presented fairly, it was that they were all ignored. Seven mentioned that the crew were using Borg technology despite the atrocities the Borg inflicted; no one mentioned it after that. The Doctor declared in the end that the data should be deleted, but had no answer why it was perfectly fine in this one instance. And worst of all, Janeway declares that the ramifications of the ethical decision are hers and hers alone, meaning she will bear with the consequences of her actions. And one of the consequences is, quite naturally, Torres being pissed off at her. And Janeway tells her to simply get over it. How is that accepting the consequences? How is that dealing with the ramifications? It was extremely insulting of Janeway to act in such a manner, even if she fully believes Torres is in the wrong. Did she try to explain her reasoning to Torres, did she apologize, did she sit down and empathize with her? Nope, just a "screw you". It is not a sign of strength in the captain, but rather a sign of arrogance and a sign of disrespect. I cannot believe that the writers thought this was a good resolution for the ethical dilemmas being faced.

    So what happened? We have a story in which an ethical dilemma is produced and all sides debated. Do we get a resolution to this debate? No. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing (as a "yes" answer can often mean annoying preachifying), but still means no plot resolution. Do we come to a reasonable compromise in the ethical debate? No, unless you count the illogical and wholly unsatisfying compromise of "it's ok in this instance because I said so but not any others". And did it lead to new relationships, new understandings among the crew? No, because the brief attempt to reach such a change was shot down by the arrogant despot of a captain in that last scene. So what, exactly, was the point? Voyager, it seemed, must agree with Krell in the quote Jammer highlighted: ethics are arbitrary. They sure treated it like that here.

    Besides Janeway's terrible characterization at the end, I also have a severe problem with the Doctor's character here. Namely, that he would go along with Janeway's order at the end. Yes, I understand he is sentient by now, and that his sentience implies freedom of choice on his part. But he was designed, first and foremost, to be a doctor. And I have an extremely difficult time believing that medical ethics is NOT hardcoded into him in much the same way as the Three Laws are in Asimov's books. In other words, when it comes to medicine, he should NOT be able to do anything that would go against his ethical subroutines any more than I can program myself to not need to breathe. It's part of his very essence.

    And part of medical ethics is to obtain consent from the patient and to pay attention to that consent. In TNG's Ethics, Dr. Crusher was adamantly opposed to the guest doctor's procedure, and would never have done it on her terms. Yet Worf asked for the procedure. Did she say no? Did she give him an alternate treatment whether he liked it or not? No. She made sure Worf had enough information to make an informed decision, and when he chose against her wishes, she went and assisted in a procedure that she despised. Likewise, if Torres, of sound mind, refused Krell's aid, then that should be the end of it from the Doctor's perspective as well. Maybe a human Doctor could bend his/her conscience in this situation, but I don't think the EMH can. Of course, then this episode would have gone way differently, so maybe the writers just didn't care. But it still bugs me.

    There's still enough meat on this episode to make it interesting, but it does falter in multiple ways. Thus, I can't really consider it a classic or anything. One thing I will say about Season 5 so far, while it has been a bit hit and miss in its execution, it certainly hasn't been boring. Practically every one has been, if nothing else, an interesting idea.

    There's certainly an element of artificiality to the plotting here - what else could there be if it coincidentally turns out that the fellow they need in the database is a Cardassian war criminal - but this is another decent addition to the Star Trek discussion on ethics.

    What's perhaps most interesting is how Janeway is written - worry about morality later, hands responsibility for the decision to the Doctor, and basically tells B'Elanna to suck it up. I'm not entirely sure that rings true character wise, but then there have been a number of odd Janeway beats so far this series.

    But outside of this there's a lot of debate and things don't exactly rattle on. It's OK, but not much more. 2.5 stars.

    @Skeptical: There is basically nothing to add to your review. janeway was completely wrong in her descision. If Torres would have been unconscious - ok, she gets mad later, and the captain apologizes. Instead she basically ignores human rights, medical ethics, and I guess star fleet protocols and does not even have the descency to apologize to B'elanna. Really, she is the worst of all the Star Trek Captains. When she proposed to stay behind to close the wormhole in "Night", THAT was the perfect opportunity to just declare Chakotay Captain and wave her goodby. As much as everyone hates Chakotay and despises him for beeing a wooden piece of nothing, that STILL is better then her constant arrogance, carelessness, misjudgement and abuse of authority. We would get something akin to TNG, where Picard relies on his subortinates to provide important information and may even let them decide whats best. This would have worked so much better, instead of having janeway decide everything, from medical to ethical to tactical to scientifical problems, and always having her propose the right answer to all those questions. Because even if somebody else proposes something, and the whole episode revolves around that proposal, most of the time janeway has to come in and her new idea magically works, because she knows everything, apparently. Overcompensating much for the fact that she's a woman? I thought people where over that kind of thing in the 24th century. It also makes her scenes where she's supposed to behave "motherly" look complete asinine, and she looks like a control freak. Seriously, who the fuck made her a captain? I guess this was an experiment by Star Fleet to find out at which point a crew would mutiny on accord of their consciousness, and apparently it failed. That's why they didn't show us the aftermath of their homecoming: Star Fleet put janeway back in the mental home and demoted all crewmembers on account of unethical behavior and failing the test. Every day, Picard, now retired, comes to visit her, to stare at her in disgust for an hour, in complete silence, while she rambles on about that she will bring the crew home no matter what and tries to launch photon torpedoes at him, in between screaming about the prime directive.

    Sorry for the rant, but as I am rewatching Voyager I need to vent my anger somewhere.

    ::Mirror Robert Strokes His Goatee::

    At least I must be mirror Robert, because I'm about to defend a decision that other people are slamming Janeway for as being a dictator. I'm usually the one slamming Janeway for being a crazy immoral dictator.

    I will say though that a ship lost in the Delta Quadrant cannot afford to lose it's chief engineer. Medical ethics be damned. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

    When she killed Tuvix she did so to save 2 friends. Tuvix was perfectly capable of doing Tuvok's job. When she treated Torres against her will she saved the chief engineer of a ship that's 30+ years away from a replacement. It was the right call, even if it's ethically problematic.

    Sorry if I came across as too angry.

    I actually agree with you: It was the pragmatic descision, and ultimately the right one. If she was anybody other than a Star Trek captain, I would not have taken much issue with that descision.

    But: Firstly, she does never defend herself that way. She does not say "I am sorry, but I can just not afford to lose my chief engineer. If you hate me now, that is your descision, but I need you." She says: "Fuck you, stop being such a whiny bitch".
    Secondly, she more then once put the crew in danger for the sake of her moral principles, like the time when she saved that 8472 from the Hirogen. That was hardly a pragmatic descision, and she always comes across as defending principle and morality at all costs.

    If the whole series would have explored what it means being in the Delta Quadrant, all alone, and there would have been a progression away from Star Fleet principle to a more pragmatic approach, ok. But instead, whenever she so chooses, she invokes the Prime Directive, or something else for that matter, or completely ignores it, while the series expects us to be on her side, and not to question her descision. The Captain is always right, as Tuvok explains to Seven.

    Now, if this really was a ship in the Delta Quadrant, her first priority should be crew cohesion. She has to be respected to hold her crew together, and listen to them from time to time, even respect them and modifiy her descision, to keep them on her side. Instead she makes a descision, and never explains herself. If you do that for one or two years, constantly putting your own crew at risk to safe some aliens, or to explore some unknown phenomenon - you lose respect. It is not a sign of strength to never change your descision.

    Incidently, in "Latent Image" she acts like I would expect her to act as a Star Fleet captain, more or less. The only nitpick in that episode, and it's a really minor one, is that she tells Seven, when she comes to her quarter, "Now is not the time". Ok, but later she wakes Seven up and says "now is the time", so .... huh? But this is really minor.

    I guess if this was Battlestar Galactica, i would have taken less to no umbridge with her. Adama constantly has to make tough descisions to save the convoy, but we see him ponder, discuss the options. And that series really feels like they are in a tight spot. But since Voyager is supposed to carry the flag of the evolved humanity across the Delta Quadrant, I take umbridge with such a two-faced captain.

    And by the way, B'elanna isn't the only capable engineer on the ship. There was also that scottish guy, whatever happened to him - and Seven. She could do engineering, heck, with her Borg implants I am not sure there's anything she can't do. All I am saying is, if you doom Voyager to death in "Prey" for the sake of principle (in this case for granting asylum to 8472) you can not ignore all principles in case of B'elanna. Chose one.

    I can make you a good argument for a court martial. I've written at lengths here about her uneven characterization. I actually really like Mulgrew, and one of the Janeways I really like.... But you are right.... You never know which one it's going to be.

    But in this case I agree, despite Joe Carrey

    It just pains me that this flaw makes the series so much worse. Literally every other option would have been preferable. Even something like giving Chakotay her dictatoresque qualities (he was a Maquis terrorist, after all) and giving her only her scientific-motherly qualities. Or letting her slowly change from a goodwilled motherly figure to a bitchy dictator over the course of the series. Just a little consistency, and everything would be improved tenfold.

    The amount of ambiguity in the technical capabilities of equipment (holographic projection and programming in this case) and also in crew technical qualifications leads this show to be an unnecessary disaster.

    Instead of thinking about to put the elements of the story together in a plausible fashion - cliche's are used - but are badly over-extended.

    These themes of this show would have fared far, far better if the ACTUAL living Cardassian had been aboard the ship. This could have been accomplished by having a group of Cardassians rescued by the Voyager, among them the Cardassian exobiologist in question. Then the problem would have simply been to explain their presence - and the new alien species in question could certainly have neatly supplied that mechanism.

    One possible suggestion is that the Cardassians were on a mission to investigate the insects ship in the Alpha quadrant - and the insects possessed the slipstream drive and took off back to the Delta quadrant. There are a number of ways that the Cardassians could have been pulled along through that same slipstream - perhaps they had engaged the insects ship with a tractor beam at the time .. perhaps they just got too close and were sucked into the slipstream .. etc etc .. there's a number of possibilities far more plausible and satisfying than the instant Cardassian hologram.

    After that you could run the story pretty much the same way - except you would have the actual Cardassian on board - more meat, less BS. Then of course you would have a warm body to vent at - and if you wanted to get rid of said warm body by the end of the show it would be slightly more involved than deleting a holo-program .. killed off by the enraged Bajoran Marquis perhaps .. killed by the insects themselves .. put in the brig for the next 50 years by Janeway .. ?

    Ya - this episode fell in a heap because it lacked imagination when identifying the plot mechanisms. Sure you want to tell a story - but it needs to develop in a plausible fashion - not be thrown together by magic.

    With regard to the technical qualifications of the crew - this show would work a lot better if they were clearly defined. For example if Harry was overtly identified as a Communications Engineer, and B'lanna was a Propulsion Engineer - this would give Harry a lot more scope, while not undermining the importance of B'lannna.

    With the technology of that era, there would be a lot of hybrid science degree's. For example in our modern world there is a degree 'Computer Science' - this is obviously not really a science degree - its a hybrid degree that combines technician (computers), engineering (electronic) and science (information). The crew of a ship like Voyager would really need a lot of these kind of technical specialists. For example Paris could be a Control Systems Scientist - which equates to technician (specialist - actuators / switching / conduits), engineering (basic - electrical / plasma), science (basic - physics / information) - which could be equal to a science degree, but is more specialized and hands on.

    I think this would help the show a hell of a lot - not everyone can do everything - and everyone would have something they are really good at.

    Having read through a lot of your reviews and the comments, I think I'm one of the most forgiving Voyager viewers willing to comment (I love the show). But this is one of the few I'm even harder on than you. Tremendously ill-conceived from every angle I can think. This presumes that the characters are fundamentally ignorant, stupid and silly people. That is the only way we would be having these arguments between the characters. The scene where they're having a "debate" about this? Cringeworthy! I can't even hardly believe they did this to these poor actors. Embarrassing for their characters.

    This is a Dear Doctor (Enterprise) level of PURELY NONSENSICAL MORAL QUANDARY. Dear Doctor though, however academically baffling, was produced to be a highly watchable, perfectly paced, very well acted, very tastefully shot hour of television. If you don't actually think about the "point" of that show (which is actually insane), it's as watchable as a slow, thoughtful type of ST gets. Yet, this has all the bizarre and wrongheaded actions of Dear Doctor, without even being particularly watchable or interesting. The wrap-up of Janeway/Torres? I rarely say this, because I usually think it's an unfair critique, but this just doesn't ring true of the characters at all. For any of them really. And what a waste of a Picardo vehicle. What everyone says about the creation of the new doctor program is spot-on. If it had redeeming features of any kind though, I probably wouldn't think twice about it. 1 star.

    ugh This would have made a much better episode of DS9. Imagine it while exploring the Gamma quadrant a strange creature attaches itself to Kira and she is taken back to DS9 for treatment but alas! Doctor bashir can not remove it but a Cardassian doctor in a nearby system can.

    Also why does B'elanna hate Cardassians so much all of a sudden? She grew up on a Federation world! but here she acts like she grew up on Bajor!

    THAT at least is explainable. I don't think she hates Cardassians that much, but this is like being friends with a bunch of Holocaust survivors and then needing to be treated by Mengele. Or at least it would be if it weren't a hologram. Right now she's just refusing to let the Starship Voyager treat her :P

    Such a silly, plothole filled episode that tries its darndest to make a philosophical point about (medical) ethics.

    Watching this back in my teens, I already felt B'elanna was off her meds to refuse treatment. Entire societies are built on breakthroughs made during wartime. World War I kicked off aviation and modern reconstructive surgery, for instance. Heck, even Zefram Cochrane's warp ship was a refitted nuclear missile.

    What did make me snicker when I rewatched it recently was the little conversation between the Doctor and Moset with Doc lamenting none of his peers ever hear of his accomplishments as he toils away in obscurity only for Crel to offer to read them.

    When a computer tries to calm itself by offering to read part of its own database, now thát's comedy.

    Jammer: "Why does this bother me so much? I'll tell you why. It's not simply that I don't buy the plausibility of such a perfect holographic likeness (which I don't), it's that the use of the hologram is a sneaky way of avoiding the real ethical issue here—especially considering the story at one point tells us that the Krell hologram isn't programmed with knowledge of the atrocities the real Krell committed. (Conveniently, he's programmed with all of Krell's surgical knowledge, opinions, personality, and so forth—but no memory of being a "bad person." How very nice.)"

    I don't think it's programmed with the feeling of the "atrocities" because Krell don't believe them to be atrocities. His values are just different. I would be surprised of he had thought that operating on Cardassians in the same fashion was also acceptable for the advancement of science.

    Thu, Mar 27, 2008, 3:42pm (UTC -5)

    Not to oversimplify, but how much effort would it have taken for the Doc to say "computer, change physical paramater: species to human" when it was brought up to him (during its creation) that people might have a problem with a Cardassian?

    I'll go one further. Why can't doc just download this info and "get smarter"? He already is the sum of what, 5000 medical professionals?

    Essssh, I don't know what's stupider, conjuring up this hologram out of thin air or just how idiotic the Bajoran' reaction to it is.

    Should anyone really consider how knowledge is obtained when putting it to good use? Really? .. that's the big dilemma here?

    I'll go 1 star because the bug was pretty cool.

    @Yanks - "Should anyone really consider how knowledge is obtained when putting it to good use? Really? .. that's the big dilemma here?"

    h t t p s ://

    Don't understand your point Robert. I'm not condoning the experiments, but the knowledge gained shouldn't be suppressed.

    @Yanks - I wasn't making a point. If you read that part of the wiki article they discuss that doctors had differing opinions as to if the actual knowledge should be thrown out. They even link to an article that talks about the Jewish community thinking it heretical to find any value in the data at all. Your question was "is this the big dilemma". The answer is yes. I wasn't giving an opinion :-)


    I scanned the article and just find it hard to believe intelligent people can still have that opinion.

    Let's say the knowledge required to sure a plague was obtained by questionable means. Should it not be administered based on how it was obtained?

    Ridiculous.... and even more ridiculous that occurrence could happen in the 24th century, or on Voyager.

    The idea is a slippery slope. IE if we allow this data to be used after the person creating it did horrible things to get it, what's to stop others from doing horrible things in the future secure in knowing their contribution to science will be secure.

    The answer is hopefully "so that you don't end up in jail or executed". Here's a quote from biology professor John Hayward - "I don't want to have to use the Nazi data, but there is no other and will be no other in an ethical world. I've rationalized it a bit. But not to use it would be equally bad. I'm trying to make something constructive out of it. I use it with my guard up, but it's useful."

    And a quote from the article h t t p : / / "Since a better knowledge of survival in cold water has direct and immediate practical benefits for education in cold water safety, and in the planning of naval rescue missions at sea, Pozos and Hayward see it criminal not to use the available data, no matter how tainted it may be."

    I actually am sort of sorry this became Janeway's decision to be honest. If you develop Torres' hatred of Moset more (maybe she actually had a friend in the maquis who was experimented on) you could actually have made this entirely a Tom & B'Elanna episode. An allegory of a "Jewish" person struggling with whether or not to be treated by "Nazi" data would have been more interesting. As it is, you are correct... Janeway's choice is plainly ridiculous. Let her chief engineer die so that they don't have to use data they don't like or don't. Die in the middle of the damned Delta Quadrant. Well, we can always pick up a new engineer at the next starbas..... oh.... :-(

    My point though was that this was a real thing that has been really debated by real scientists for a long time. There's a lot out there about it. It's not a bad idea of something to make an episode on but it's no Jetrel.


    "My point though was that this was a real thing that has been really debated by real scientists for a long time. There's a lot out there about it. It's not a bad idea of something to make an episode on but it's no Jetrel."


    "The idea is a slippery slope. IE if we allow this data to be used after the person creating it did horrible things to get it, what's to stop others from doing horrible things in the future secure in knowing their contribution to science will be secure."

    Don't agree with this though. What's to stop others? Law. You can't do much more than that.

    Jammer's constant DS9 inflections are getting old. Please refrain from comparing DS9 to Voyager. It is clear that DS9 was your favorite series and that you despise, for the most part, Voyager in all aspects.

    @Yanks - "Don't agree with this though. What's to stop others? Law. You can't do much more than that. "

    I wasn't disagreeing with you. I was just stating the other side basically. I actually think Spock would say that the urge to throw the data away is an illogical emotional response.

    How many of us would want to set fire to data that describes how a loved one was painfully frozen just to be thawed later? But on the other hand if your kid fell in a freezing lake are you going to not want everything used to save them?

    It's why I still think this episode would have been better with Kira and the real Krell. You could have upped the stakes in all sorts of ways. But either way the episode would have been better if the moral dilemma was ultimately resolved by the loved one and the victim (either Odo/Kira or Tom/B'Elanna. Janeway doing the authoritarian thing didn't really work.

    It actually COULD HAVE worked, but the episode didn't even try to be about Janeway/Torres' relationship. They centered it largely around the Doctor, which was an odd mistake. His decision to delete the data at the end was weird.

    Or hell, since it's easier to be pigheaded when YOU'RE dying they could have had this be about Ziyal and Kira. Now that would have been perfect. Ziyal is dying, and is in Kira's care, and the only one that can save her is Krell, a current dissident that fled Dominion leadership that Kira has to track down and decide to work with to save Ziyal. There you go, now you have a Jew needing to track down and beg help from Mengele to save her surrogate daughter/sister. That's an interesting moral dilemma.

    Agree Robert. You'd think the "superior" DS9 would have broached that! :-) Seems they were too worried about how to make Sisko a god. (sigh)

    This episode always irked me. I'd just sit there, watch it and shake my head.

    They created a hologram of Cardassian, and they also receive all the information about the Cardassian technology that knew the original Crell Moset? On what basis has been able a hologram of Moset make that calibration on tricorder? - and if they has that information in databank, cant their computer do those changes automatically?

    Ok, then why they do not create some Romulan? Getting information about cloaking device could never be easier (irony).

    I think that two stars is fair for this episode. I enjoy some of the moral dilemma (sp?) of this episode. For example, Seven tells the Doctor: "It is curious. The Borg are accused of assimilating information with no regard for life. This Cardassian did the same; and yet, his behavior is tolerated." I agree with Seven 100% on this.

    Therefore, I agree with those who said that Janeway and the crew of Voyager are being hypocrites for using technology of the Borg, which is a species that assimilated many other species against their will (even though they do not kill the species), but some of the crew are questioning the use a hologram of a Cardassian which is a species who has history of torturing and sentencing bajorans and many other species to death without a trial and experimenting on other alien species without any though of morals and ethics.

    I also agreed with some previous posters who said that Janeway made the right decision to allow the Doctor to continue to use the cardassian hologram to help Torres. Even though I believe that Torres should be the one who decides if she needs help from the holographic cardassian or not, I guess that Janeway made that decision because she can lose anymore of her crew and she needs the help of her chief engineer to keep the engines running at peak efficiency to Voyager and its crew can return home.

    Everything else about this episode from the crew members arguing and fighting over a hologram to the hologram conveniently (almost a deux-ex-machina) doing things like recalibrating a tricorder to be incredibly ridiculous.

    @Shawn D

    Seven's line is a false analogy here. A similar situation to this episode would be if a Ferengi stumbled upon a non-fuctioning Borg cube and downloaded it's computer banks and use that data to save lives on their ship. A key point in this whole argument is that Voyager and its crewmembers are free of any direct wrongdoing related to Krell's work. The Borg, however, are directly related to all the technology they misappropriate by killing and enslaving billions.

    It's possible if not likely that Janeway and more so the other crewmembers do feel uneasy about using Borg technology; I don't see why a lot of fans seem to have accepted it and view this episode as the morally odd view. That a lot of fans did accept it and thus are perplexed that there's a dilemma here seems an example of how questionably-ethical actions set precedents for having more later on.

    It amuses me that people are telling Jammer how he should be reviewing a show that he reviewed 18 years ago. If you don't like his Voyager reviews because you think he was biased in favour of DS9 or against Voyager or whatever, don't read them! It's his thoughts on episodes based on his honest perspective. There are people quibbling on different scores given to episodes reviewed years apart ffs. Ignoring the fact that episodes with superficial similarities may actually be more different than they seem, my opinions on things can change month to month, let alone over many years. Case in point, I really enjoyed STID when I saw it, but as I thought about it, my opinion diminished over time.

    I find myself disagreeing with Jammer quite regularly, but I still find his perspective interesting, which is why I read his reviews.

    Anyway, onto this episode. As far as the silliness with the hologram goes, I can ignore it. I ignore a lot of silliness from Trek, not least with the fact that space is huge, and the chances of randomly bumping into the Equinox, or the Ferenghi, or the 37s, or Friendship One, or the Caretaker's wife (I could keep going for a long time here) are tiny. It's suspension of disbelief, and I'm fine with the contrivance, especially considering Trek has done silly things with holograms in the past, and will continue to do so throughout Voyager's run.

    The big issue for this episode is, how interesting is the ethical dilemma? I find myself disagreeing with Trek's take on ethics more often than I agree, and this episode is no exception, in that I don't see a dilemma at all. I look at it this way: between them, vaccines, antibiotics and insulin have saved millions, if not billions of lives, and improved countless more. For all I know, the development of those treatments involved some ethically questionable research. If I found out that, say, the development of vaccines led to the death of thousands of orphans, I would think that it's a tragedy, roundly condemn those involved, and go and get my children vaccinated without a second thought. Same for other medical treatments.

    Throughout history, people have done awful things. Many things that we now consider abhorrent were considered normal within living memory. I'm sure that in 100 years, people will look back at us and make the same judgements. We have an obligation to learn from history, and to avoid repeating the same mistakes, but we have no obligation to throw out any advancements that involved questionable ethics. That would probably mean throwing out all progress - medical, scientific and even moral.

    A more interesting dilemma was Janeway ordering the procedure against Torres' wishes. I agree with her decision, but it's not as clear cut. I think Torres was an idiot in this episode, but given that, she was absolutely within her rights to be annoyed with Janeway at the end. Janeway had a tough call to make, and she made it. It's just a shame there was no real follow up. And maybe a callback to Tuvix would have been nice.

    Harry transfers Doc and Krell from the Holodeck to Sickbay — Doc was wearing his mobile emitter on the Holodeck, and is wearing it again in Sickbay. I guess Harry transported it at the same time Doc was transferred. Hah.

    Given the passionate and lively response, I think this episode was successful. What about the Dr Brahms hologram La Forge created to help fix the engines on enterprise? The convenient creation of a hologram is not unprecedented.

    "Given the passionate and lively response, I think this episode was successful. What about the Dr Brahms hologram La Forge created to help fix the engines on enterprise? The convenient creation of a hologram is not unprecedented. "

    Because LaForge is human and could not interface directly with the databanks that contained that knowledge and wanted "someone" to bounce ideas off of.

    Voyager's doctor is a computer.

    I think Jammer got this one just right. The plots holes were far too numerous to allow this to work. Even with the usual suspension of reality this episode just stretches credulity too far.

    I've noticed a number of people posting here about the trek precedents for creating realistic holograms. That isn't in question. What ruins it is the voyager precedent where harry utterly failed to produce even a rudimentary medical hologram to replace the doc. If they hadn't been contradicting their own lore this wouldn't be a problem (apart from the fact that the EMH program took years too develop etc.)

    Could have been good but they stuffed it up. 2 stars

    A couple gripes with this episode (aside from not liking it in general) didn't Harry just try to create a holographic doctor and fail pretty recently? I don't remember which ep. And, why would Seven be left in charge of engineering, what happened to Lt. Carrey?
    I know everyone loves Seven of NIne I hated the character. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Jeri Ryan, and when it's a good script I like her just fine, but overall - I hated Seven of Nine. It was around this time I stopped watching Voyager initially. Might as well have called it That Borg Show.

    The last scene really shows just how small a holodeck could barely fit a conference table and chairs in there. It's hilarious what other episodes attempt to convince us can fit in there, like whole towns.

    The actor playing Crell Moset was superb. Had all the glib eloquent Cardassian mannerisms down pat. I enjoyed watching his performance so much (easily the best part of this episode; the man's practically a born Cardassian) that I nearly overlooked the episode's other shortcomings.

    The first thing that irritated me was the issue of his physical parameters, which many others have mentioned. Harry could have reprogrammed him to be a Human, or a Bajoran, or even a Ferengi for the heck of it. No one would have been the wiser for it. Crisis averted.

    Secondly, I agree with what one poster said - that this information was obviously very much available on the Federation and Starfleet medical databases, which had obviously been approved prior by Federation higher-ranking officials prior to their publication on the libraries. Crell Moset's hologram was composed out of this knowledge database, but the authorisation for his research to be publicised on the Federation database was from the Federation itself. The crew's anger at Moset's research therefore seemed rather misguided: if they condoned the usage of his research, why did they not question its availability on the database in the first place? It's probably easier to blame the evil Cardassians than your own people..

    ..which leads me to my third point. Moset was just a hologram, but the Doctor, the Bajoran and Torres were all behaving if he was the real Moset. The Bajoran guy nearly tried to beat him up and the Doctor had several hot debates with the hologram on the procurement of the research upon which his programme was based. It's like your dad finding porn on your computer and yelling at the computer instead of you. It was pointless of them to blame the hologram for something over which he had no control. They seem to all have forgotten that he was merely a facsimile of an end of a means and confused him for the latter.
    Of course, a plausible explanation for that could have been because they had nowhere else to shout at/vent their frustrations at, and whom better to take it out on than the resident computer?

    As a former poster pointed out, this episode would have been a lot more convincing if it had been the real Moset operating the scalpel. David Clennon was a splendid actor - I'm genuinely surprised they didn't bring him back for other ST incarnations and am of the opinion that if he'd debuted in DS9 he would have become a recurring character - but there were just too many holes in the premise for it to hold up.

    Regarless of the technical questions which are beyond absurd, the main problem I had with this episode was "The Doctor".

    "The Doctor" is not even human, and yet in his discussion with the Cardassian he "knows" what is the right side of the argument. Childish. We are talking about a computer, programmed by Zimmerman who wasn't a particular emphatic man, who has this childish notion of good vs evil, light vs dark. Absurd.

    Well, even more childish is Torres' reaction. For gods sakes, it was an hologram, not the real doctor. He would rather die? Give me a break, that's just stupid.

    Kill 100 to save 100 000? Not an easy call to make, even in the 24th century.

    Loved this episode and I'm quite surprised there is so much criticism against it. I don't really buy the whole "Harry too easily making a hologram" argument, even when he's struggled to remake The Doctor before - technology has always been a means to an end in Star Trek, and I felt it set up the plot fine. Then again, I've always adored the Cardassians (such a great addition to the Trek universe) and I'm happy to see one featured so prominently in Voyager.

    I see some people saying that Janeway was out of line when she went against B'elanna's wish to not go through with the procedure.
    But what about the creature attached to her? They would still need a procedure to remove it in order to transport it to it's own kind eventually so shouldn't the prime-directive or first contact rule apply there?

    When Torres walked into sickbay spewing techno-babble, I sat up and took notice. But then the alien ripped through the force field and attached itself to Torres and I realized, yeah, that’s why the writers decided to have Torres give the info instead of Seven: They wanted Torres immobile on the table, not Seven.

    I like Seven and the drama that the character creates. But since her appearance, all of the other characters have suffered in comparison. Which is particularly irksome, given that as early as the third episode of season one, the writers threw out the big conflict of Marquis vs Starfleet and made everyone a big happy family. Which in a way, they sort of harken back to here, in the form of the Bajoran crewmember, who if I’m not mistaken was originally Marquis.

    And this episode never has Janeway acknowledge: they’re in this particular dilemma because Janeway followed her “instinct”, followed the “distress” message and had the alien beamed aboard, which led the Torres crisis.

    The whole medical dilemma seemed forced to me, provoking comparisons with the Nazi experiments. And I didn’t think it was resolved particularly well. Ditto the resulting conflict between Torres and the captain. But this is Voyager after all.

    This episode lost me pretty early. Sorry, I just didn't feel the ethical dilemma. He's a hologram! Just change him into a Vulcan and he's fine. And so what if the knowledge can from terrible methods. It's in the database now. Use it. Does anyone think that if the Nazis had cured cancer we would have let hundreds of millions of people die of cancer in the last 80 years?

    2 stars

    The jeopardy portion of story failed epically with Torres in jeopardy. The doctor portion was so tedious that trying to get through it was a chore and frankly I'm beyond tired of Torres bad attitude

    Ugh. Hated this episode. Note yet more gung ho stupidity from Janeway creates this situation in the first place. Yes we are going to transport an alien creature we know absolutely nothing about and can't even communicate with on board just cause I, Janeway, have a 'feeling' it needs our help. And people complain about Archer....!

    As for the moral delimma you don't change the past by deleting knowlege and information. Besides which the information gained from the evil Cardassian still exists everywhere else apart from on Voyager so what was the point in deleting it from the ship's data?

    Brilliant argument from @hobo. Using Borg technology seems to not be a problem for Voyager.

    There's a Bajoran aboard here, and we saw one in Learning Curve. It seems awfully soon after Bajor's liberation in 2368...surely no Bajoran had time to enter and graduate from Starfleet Academy by the time Voyager launched. Perhaps we can assume that these two either enlisted or were Maquis.

    But then there's Seska. She was an ensign, which means she spend four years at Starfleet Academy (which in hindsight was quite an effort to establish a Cardassian cover), and that means that she first entered Starfleet Academy while Bajor was still in Cardassia's clutches. That should have been suspicious at least.

    I'm basically with Jammer on this. I actually am a little softer on the *idea* of using the Moset hologram to explore what I think the episode's central issue is -- namely, whether it is morally acceptable to use medical knowledge which was gained through horrific, immoral means. In a way, it's a potentially great metaphor. As Jammer says, no one would have given a second thought to using knowledge gained from Moset if he didn't look the way he did, but that is sort of the point. Having the avatar for the knowledge gained from a butcher experimenter *look like* that experimenter forces people to reckon with where the knowledge came from in a way that doesn't usually happen. And had the episode emphasized this element, I think it could have worked quite well for me. Have someone point out that they wouldn't even be having this discussion if it weren't for the walking exobiology textbook *looking like* a specific unethical doctor-butcher, and then have someone else pause and say, "You're right -- and maybe that is a problem with how we normally operate. Maybe every time we use knowledge that was gained immorally, we should have to have a visceral reminder of where that came from." (Well, pithier than that, hopefully.) So the episode does have a good central metaphor, in that sense. Don't bury the question of whether people react differently to a hologram of a butcher than impersonal knowledge obtained by that butcher, but make it a central concern of the ep.

    I guess what bothers me is that the episode seems to throw the kitchen sink into this episode and sacrifices a lot of the clarity of this metaphor. Look, life is complicated and it makes sense to have a lot of different perspectives. But a lot of this gets junked up by things which are not only irrelevant to the moral episode at hand, but irrelevant to our world. There's a lot of stuff on making the hologram, the Doctor insisting they need a personality, Harry having to make the program work, Moset learning that he's a program, the Doctor bonding with Moset and whether he's letting his personal like of the guy get in the way of his objectivity, the question of whether people are unfairly prejudiced against them, the question of whether the Moset-gram is responsible for the actions of the real person he's based on, whether that Bajoran officer has the right to resign his commission over their use of the Moset-gram, and so on. The episode also requires a whole lot of buys in order to accept what we got, not just the Moset-gram's creation but also the idea that the whole Federation database is ignorant of Moset's crimes but one of his victims happens to be on the tiny ship which seemingly has like three Bajorans on it, just so as to set up the idea that the moral issue hadn't come up before this moment. The Moset-gram is a walking contradiction; the Doctor says early on that he's got to be nearly as complex as the Doctor is in order to handle that data, which means that his super-fast creation is implausible and opens a can of worms, and also the Doctor bonds with him as a fellow colleague and person, but then the episode avoids the question of whether the Moset-gram has a right to continued existence, since he really does seem about equally sentient to the Doctor. The Moset-gram both emphasizes that he has no memory of his atrocities and then starts half-heartedly defending them, rather than (say) reacting with the Starfleet-computer-cooked up friendly personality, so that he'd react with horror at what the "real him" had done.

    We also have to accept the idea that the Moset-gram is basically a whole series of exobiology textbooks from many authors, *including* Moset, but at no point does anyone consider whipping up an alternative consultant who uses exobiology knowledge from just the other authors. I think the idea is that there's something that only Moset can do, but I do think that needs to be established. And I think part of the general problem is that it's generally difficult, in the sciences, to sort out which accomplishments go to one person and which don't, especially since a lot of research gets quickly developed on top of research done by others. I think the episode needed to establish more strongly why Moset's *research* and techniques were particularly necessary and why there were no alternatives, or at least why it wasn't possible to start searching for alternatives.

    Now, individually, a lot of the issues I mentioned would be worth exploring in greater depth -- could an officer resign their commission on Voyager if they felt a strong moral objection, and if so, would Voyager be "required" to continue to have them as passengers? (Would a Maquis who tried to resign his Starfleet commission then get sent to the brig for Maquis crimes?) The Doc/Moset bonding follows from the teaser, with the Doctor's attempt to drag the crew into his hobby and their clear disinterest, in which the Doctor is really quite desperate for the attention of others and feels himself unappreciated, and it raises a potentially important point about how much people are willing to overlook the flaws and crimes of colleagues when they are also friends, and maybe the only people who can otherwise understand you.

    Most seriously, the way Janeway overrides B'Elanna's wishes is a huge issue that needed to be addressed more strongly than the episode did. I didn't list it as one of the "distractions" because it seems to me that the episode does try to make it important, but doesn't quite succeed. The tone is off in the Janeway/B'Elanna scene, where Janeway seems pissed off when she walks in there, and doesn't even seem to bother defending her decision all that much. In general the episode has Janeway mysteriously downplayed for most of the running time. Chakotay is the one who gets most of the "command officer interaction" scenes in the episode and stays out of the debate until she stands up and says "You're both right but we're doing this and there's no questions," and then she gives the Doctor the decision of whether to delete Moset or not with a kind of annoyed disinterest. I guess this is where someone might argue it's part of Janeway's ongoing character development, that she's becoming a harder-edged, more pragmatic, and more distant leader, and that sort of makes sense, but it still plays out very strangely to me in practice.

    And this is to say nothing of the whole screeching-alien "can we find them" subplot which is dealt with in a perfunctory way after the intriguing initial signal. (I noticed Frank Whelker, who does a lot of animal voices in animation etc., was the voice of the screeching alien, which is neat.) Favourite moment: in the middle of the battle (?) with the aliens, Tuvok's matter-of-fact reminder to Janeway, "We *do* have weapons," maybe the funniest line Tuvok's ever had in a low-key way.

    Anyway I think the episode is messy and uncomfortable -- but some of the discomfort is for the right reasons (because the moral issues are uncomfortable). Most of it probably isn't. I think I'll also go with 2 stars. It's sort of an honourable failure.

    Also, that scene where Seven says "Ah, you all tell me that the Borg are awful because they don't respect life...but this one Cardassian also doesn't respect life! GOTCHA!" is annoying; Seven isn't that dumb. I don't think Janeway et al. ever claimed that there were no bad non-Borg.

    Just want to add --

    The creation of the Moset hologram is not so implausible given the rules of Trekdom; Leah Brahms, as mentioned above. The problem is that Booby Trap actually was fairly careful to make sure that only Geordi came up with the great ideas, though it's subtle; and this episode, the Doctor *himself* says that the Moset program would have to be almost as complex as him. There's sort of a particular mismatch. However I'm willing to grant a bit of slack on this particular can of worms, because it's not just this episode that skirted close to opening it. There are other problems of this ep of which I'm less forgiving.

    @ William B,

    All of what you said is on-point, and I'd like to add one more thing too, which may sound like beating on a dead horse. The whole issue of using questionable knowledge, as you put it, may have been a centerpiece of the episode rather than a side point, but going along with that, the objection of the Bajoran could have become the primary issue once Janeway decided in favor of using the questionable knowledge. Can you imagine, five years into the Voyage, if a Bajoran former-Maquis felt so strongly about this that he tried to resign, and Janeway did threaten to put him in the Brig over it? That could create a resurgence of the Maquis-vs-Federation issue without it just being an excavation of old issues. It would create a new issue, which is - what happens if a Maquis no longer wants to participate with the Starfleet officers? Is he/she still under Janeway's protection, or is her cooperation with them conditional on their doing exactly what she says all the time? It could have made for a great Chakotay-Janeway scene to have her about to come down on a 'rebel' and have Chakotay threaten to band all of the ex-Maquis with that person and go on strike or something. Using a weekly plot point to go after a core issue on the ship is what this series should have been about, but instead it was the opposite; usually relationship issues on the ship were only used to serve the weekly episode and then forgotten.

    @Peter G., that's a good point. I don't want to do a lot of BSG comparisons for Voyager, because I don't think they're useful, but while reactions to it are mixed, I'm reminded of the third season BSG episode Dirty Hands, where Tyrol believes that there are unfair expectations for the "lower classes," and there is no clear path forward for how to change their situation because of the precarious nature of the fleet. What do you do when you want a change of job or responsibilities, or want to refuse duties that are unsafe or (as in the case of Nothing Human) morally objectionable, when you're in an isolated space ship? There are obvious reasons why "resigning" is less of an option; Voyager presumably needs all or most hands, and even if it doesn't, what options are there? Let the guy continue living on Voyager but not contributing? Drop him off at the next Class-M planet with some replicated seeds and a tricorder? Throw him in the brig until he agrees to whatever Janeway says? And of course, resignation really *is* the only viable option for someone who seriously morally objects to a superior's actions; they can refuse to carry out orders, and maybe get thrown in the brig for it, but if the captain does something he considers to be awful and he is not directly involved, that's the only real form of protest that he has. Chakotay refuses the crewman's resignation, but the scene ends on a kind of uncertain note and then it's entirely dropped even within the episode. And of course as you say it is another way of examining the Maquis issues again. These issues should come up with the *Starfleet* crew even, but the Maquis obviously didn't sign up for joining Starfleet, and they are only on Voyager because Chakotay sacrificed their ship.

    I should add that the B'Elanna side of things, which I already said was too thinly dealt with, bothers me more the more I think about it. I don't really think the episode seriously addressed the scale of what was going on, for B'Elanna, the Doctor or Janeway. Was B'Elanna seriously willing to die to refuse treatment -- and if so, does that mean that she considers the fact that she's still alive, after all, a fate "worse than death"? The Doctor and Janeway explicitly ignored B'Elanna's direct wishes. One of the commenters above pointed out that it's not just B'Elanna but also that alien's life which was at stake, and since they couldn't communicate with the alien it makes sense to assume that it would prefer to live rather than to die as a result of how these mysterious aliens got their medical knowledge, and so that *might* trump B'Elanna's wishes (though maybe not, since the alien attached itself to B'Elanna in the first place), but it's not really the issue presented.

    And here, I think, actually addressing the history of this season would have helped. Tom wants B'Elanna to live, so he starts indicating that B'Elanna is obviously not mentally fit to make the decision to refuse treatment. This would be the perfect place to have Tom bring up B'Elanna's months-long depressive phase, which may or may not actually be over. We could imagine Tom and Chakotay, for example, getting into a much bigger argument about how much to value B'Elanna's life over her express wishes when they are both talking out of love. Tom could argue that B'Elanna is completely blinded by not just mental health issues, but also continued irrational guilt over the death of the Maquis at the hands of the Cardassians' new allies, and that she is unable to think straight, and this is a delusion that Chakotay seems to want to encourage; Chakotay could shoot back that Tom loves B'Elanna but he does not respect her if he cannot understand why she wants to stick to her principles, maybe because Tom has none of his own. And it could raise the question of whether B'Elanna really is reacting from ethics or from hatred/fear/guilt/depression. It writes itself, basically, and seems a natural extension of the perspectives that they were already showing, but grounds it in long-term issues.

    I think the best comparison for this episode is TNG's Ethics, another s5 Klingon crew member injured/medical ethics show. I remember when I first saw Ethics, I didn't think much of it; it just seemed confused and all over the place, and it bothered me that Beverly and Worf didn't seem to be talking to each other. Now I really like it, even though I have some of the same problems. Ethics as an episode takes a lot on, and sometimes it gets confusing -- if Worf is at risk of ritual suicide, Beverly really has to allow Russell's risky procedure; if there is a risky procedure, Worf should take it rather than risking suicide, and the episode isn't really explicit enough, IMO, on why they remain at the impasse as long as they are. But it still mostly makes sense, because I think the idea is that Beverly and Worf's principles really do dictate that no ethically dubious medical practices should be tolerated (Beverly) and that a spinal injury really should represent the end of a warrior's life, rather than using medical science to cheat fate (Worf), and both have to relent because of the reality of the culture clash. The episode works for me where Nothing Human doesn't, despite being a little overloaded, because it does have a number of fleshed-out perspectives (Worf, Beverly, Riker, Picard, Deanna, Alexander, Russell) and largely it all follows organically from the one inciting event of Worf's injury. Most of all, though, when Worf seems to be seriously considering dying rather than seeking any medical solutions, the episode takes it seriously -- of what that would mean for Worf's own perspective. While Tom cares very much and freaks out, I don't feel like this episode really emphasizes the severity of B'Elanna's decision, nor really has B'Elanna seem to contemplate dying. I'm not saying that her principles are wrong, or that her objection is wrong! But I don't really get the sense from her that she is worried about dying, and I can't tell if that's supposed to be denial or depression or steadfast moral courage, and all would be consistent with her character.

    I won't get too much into the whole 'creating a hologram' thing. It was gone over by Jammer and others well enough already. I just have a few other things to point out.

    When they are first making the hologram, this dialogue happens.

    KIM: Have you mentioned to anyone else that this guy's a Cardassian?
    EMH: What difference does it make?
    KIM: Maybe you haven't heard. They're not the friendliest folks in the galaxy.
    EMH: I don't care if he's the nastiest man who ever lived, as long as he can help us save B'Elanna.
    KIM: Good point.

    So there's that.

    And this.

    EMH: ...We may be able to create a reasonable facsimile of your laboratory in our holodeck. Providing of course, you can give an accurate description.
    MOSET: Oh, down to the smallest detail. It's more of a home to me than my home.

    How does the holoCrell know what the real Crell's lab looked like?

    And what good is Crell, the expert exobiologist, anyway? He doesn't really do anything useful. HIs big theory is to cut the alien open and shock it a bunch of times, basically torturing it until it lets go. The Doc couldn't have done that without help from the 'expert'? I could have done that.

    And then later this nonsense happens.

    MOSET: It's losing motor control. The tendrils are withdrawing from her lungs, liver, kidneys. The alien's life signs are failing.
    EMH: We need a substitute for the metabolic energy it was taking from B'Elanna.
    MOSET: Could we restore its own metabolism?
    EMH: Perhaps. Give it forty milligrams of stenophyl. It's going into anaphylactic shock.
    MOSET: All right, increasing the dosage to sixty milligrams.
    MOSET: Anaphylaxia is subsiding.
    EMH: Its electrolytic reactions are increasing. Its metabolism is stabilising on its own.

    First of all anaphylactic shock is an allergic reaction. So I don't know why they said that at all. Just plain old 'shock' would have been more appropriate, coming from two medical experts. But what really bothers me is that all they had to do was inject the alien with stenophyl to restore it's own metabolism, which they figured out in about 3 seconds. So why not just do that before, and it would have been fine and let go of Torres on it's own? So stupid.

    And deleting all medical knowledge ever developed by Crell is idiotic. It's not like they are deleting from all databases everywhere, just their own. That's what a ship stranded and surrounded by unknown alien life forms needs to do; delete a large chunk of medical knowledge about alien life forms. Good call Doc!!

    And does that mean that the Doc now forgot how he saved Torres? I guess so. I don't know. Most of this episode doesn't make any sense anyway.

    What was the message of this episode anyhow? Using knowledge obtained unethically is bad, unless we need it, then it's ok. And when we don't need it anymore, then it's bad again, so forget it ever existed. Wut?

    1/2 star

    A while back, Harry Kim tried to create a new doctor hologram but all it did was recite textbooks. I assume that off-screen, during the time since then, Harry Kim has perfected his knowledge of holo-programming, and now can create holographic experts by just talking to the computer for two minutes.

    I started out really enjoying the episode, because of the great chemistry that the EMH hologram had with the Cardassian hologram.

    But then, they threw us the incredibly stupid moral dilemma. The only reason the hologram looked like a Cardassian war criminal is because our EMH thought it would be cool if the hologram looked like an actual medical expert. But they could just have easily used any random schmuck as the model, and given that Harry Kim can create a hologram in 2 minutes, it would have been that easy to say "Don't worry B'Elanna, will have a human doctor in two minutes."

    I really loved what a commenter above mentioned, that they've previously used Borg nano-McGuffins to save crewmember lives, and the Borg have killed BILLIONS of people. This Cardassian doctor killed only a few hundred people, and for the benign purpose of saving lives in the future and not for the purpose of conquering the entire galaxy.

    Now that Harry Kim is such a great holo-programmer, why don't they create holo engineers, holo bridge grew, and let the holograms run the ship, doing a better job than the humans (never needing to take breaks to sleep or go to the bathroom) while the humans do more self-actualizing stuff?

    I find it remarkable that Jammer and so many of the commenters here bought the contrived ethical dilemma in this episode, when in the real world we're all happy to enjoy the fruits of Nazi medical science obtained through unspeakably evil means.

    There is no meaningful debate on this any longer. We as a species collectively decided that we should use knowledge to help those that are alive and let the dead rest. Everything else is superstition.

    I completely agree with Georgios. A contrived ending for a contrived dilemma. It should be one star at best.

    To call this episode a mixed bag might be right -- it has it's strong points (aims to be ambitious, tackle an aspect of medical ethics, some good character performances from Doc/Paris/Chakotay and Janeway somewhat) but it suffers from the downfall of many VOY episodes (lacks plausibility, campy filler material, convenient resolutions that don't deal with the real issues sufficiently).

    The hologram of Krell just being created with a few Harry Kim/Doc commands is beyond ridiculous -- basically just create a real person with personality etc. That's too much... And the fact that it's a Cardassian so that Torres can dislike it and that it taps into the whole Occupation narrative -- pretty convenient/contrived, a true plot device.

    As for the real issue of using "evil research" -- good arguments and script discussing the pros and cons. That Janeway makes the call to use Krell's research is fine but it would have been good to see her thought process after the fact. The scene where she visits recuperating Torres made it seem that the captain just wanted this whole thing to blow over.

    Janeway is known in VOY for her controversial decisions (starting with "Caretaker" etc.) but here she puts the ship first (unlike in "Prey"), so I think she's less annoying here but the episode doesn't go the full way in getting her thoughts -- why not a captain's log entry or some monologue on the state of the crew? I think she felt Doc would do the right thing about the Cardassian medical program so good on her character not to overstep its bounds and micromanage.

    As for the non-humanoid alien, I give VOY credit for being so different and coming up with the situation of this creature putting Torres' life in jeopardy for keeping itself alive. The energy wave and weird communication works as far as a totally different sentient alien species.

    But the other contrivance/convenience is how the surgery to remove the alien with Doc figuring out in time that its life could be spared and beamed back to its ship in order to spare Voyager from destruction -- it's classic VOY -- a miracle in the nick of time. It's just too easy.

    Barely 2.5 stars for "Nothing Human" -- started out pretty weakly with the filler teaser, the magical creation of a Cardassian doctor but the ethical issues examined were good although the end result left me unsatisfied. There were a few plot devices to really hammer each issue home -- like the Bajoran officer who just pops up to recount memories of atrocities. Too many things undermined a worthy concept.

    Not going in to the discussion about weather it would not be possible to create a new doctor program in lets say one week, as it now was possible to create Krell between lunch and coffee break.

    This was about moral an ethics, and it was good. The decisions to save B'elanna was right under this circumstances. There are decisions that are more obvious and from a moral and ethical point of view it would also have bnen right not to operate.

    The Captain was also the person who had the right to go against the wish of B'elanna. I believe that except the need for B'elanna skills there was a certain emotional involvement in this desiccation.

    "The Captain was also the person who had the right to go against the wish of B'elanna. I believe that except the need for B'elanna skills there was a certain emotional involvement in this desiccation."

    Tell me, how would you feel if you were ordered to get surgery you didn't want?

    @ Chrome,

    "Tell me, how would you feel if you were ordered to get surgery you didn't want?"

    Don't you think it's reasonable to conclude that if the lives of everyone on the ship depend on B'elanna being back at her post, that her wishes in an ambiguous matter should be sidelined? We're not talking about Equinox level ends-justify-the-means stuff, but requiring someone to undergo a healing procedure - yeah, I think that should go under the category of things you're willing to do to keep the ship going.

    The moral ambiguity in the episode would have been clearer if an actual, present war criminal wanted to perform tests on sentients in order to discover a cure to save B'elanna. Then we would argue that such experimentation should never be permitted under any circumstances. But a hologram in the image of a bad guy, employing knowledge that the Federation already uses since it's in their database? It's a lofty notion for an episode, but it never really gets at the issue it wants to. The idea that every iota of knowledge used to make the ship go needs to be backtraced just to make sure that not a scrap of it ever came from any nefarious source in's just too much. What if fire was invented by a total a**hole 50,000 years ago? Not allowed to use the ship's engines,now?

    "Don't you think it's reasonable to conclude that if the lives of everyone on the ship depend on B'elanna being back at her post"

    Sure, but it's not my choice, it's B'elanna's. She doesn't need to prove to me or Janeway that she has rights. If the Federation can't protect the rights of its people, what good is the Federation?

    @ Chrome,

    B'elanna is serving on a Federation starship, which is vessel with a military command structure. The Federation no doubt does have strict protections for its citizens, however active personnel probably have a separate set of guidelines that we never hear about. This is getting into the weeds a bit in the sense that this episode isn't really about Federation law, but I don't think that critical personnel on key missions can be allowed to just choose to die randomly because they don't feel like being saved. When the mission is over then, fine, retire or whatever you want. The whole issue with Voyager is that their mission never ends because they're lost. That's a key issue and should have been a central focus of the series: how much is service voluntary when the ship literally needs you to survive? Does Federation law allow drafting in extraordinary circumstances? Does it restrict certain civil liberties to its military personnel in wartime or other extreme conditions? We just don't know these things, but I have a hard time believing that it's "B'elanna's choice" whether to doom the ship or not. It's not quite as clear-cut as "they all die if she dies" but since the series made it sort of clear that she's the only qualified chief engineer it may literally boil down to that. It's the same reason it was crazy to allow the Doctor to travel to the AQ to help Barclay. Neither of them is expendable.

    Sure, but all I'm saying is the right to control what gets done to your body might be more important than the survival of Voyager itself. If B'elanna's rights can just be ordered away so simply, what's going to stop the next captain from doing the same thing? It's not just law that's at stake here, it's the compromise of Federation principles coming right from the very top.

    Just to add, I might be fine with Janeway violating Starfleet principles as a means of survival, but that doesn't mean B'elanna should quietly accept the result. If B'elanna ever had anything at stake in this episode as we're led to believe, she should be at least furious at Janeway for ignoring her decision.

    That the ending brushes aside the dilemma so quickly with Janeway ordering B'elanna to move on, makes the whole episode a farce. Since there apparently there are no consequences to violating a crew member's rights on Voyager, the episode's dilemma should have been solved in five minutes by an order from Janeway at the very start.

    @ Chrome,

    Oh, I agree completely with you. I might have been misunderstanding your broader point, and your last post aligns exactly with what I think. The entire series should have been riddled with the most inbred collection of loves, hates, resentments over slights and breaches, friendships, shifting loyalties, to say nothing of the Fed/Maquis angle. But they wanted TNG in the Delta. Ugh.

    The episode does become the same sort of farce that Tuvix did, although the latter was much, much further out to lunch regarding the resolution at the ending.

    I really didn't like this episode - the whole ethical dilemma seems so silly to me.
    Yeah it sucks the knowledge was derived off unethical means, but I just find it hard to believe that highly intelligent people can still have that opinion. Let's say the knowledge required to sure a plague was obtained by questionable means. Should it not be administered based on how it was obtained? Cool let's just let everyone die then.

    Also B'Elanna really comes off poorly in this episode. Especially when the Doctor said he didn't that B'Elanna acted like a racist.

    How did the alien just jump through the force field in sickbay? And does that force field in sick bay also hold in pathogens and stuff so they don’t infect the crew, like a quarantine chamber? I’m guessing yes.

    You guys. Honestly. If a hologram of Josef Mengele appeared and tried to operate on you, and it turned out he picked up his technique by operating on a bunch of Jews, AND a person you worked with' s entire family was one of his victims during the holocaust, which happened 5 years ago, you wouldn't let him touch you either!

    Honestly, I'm getting annoyed with all of you shortsighted nerds. I can't believe you don't understand this. Hologram or not, the image of this guy must send shivers down their spine. Get some fucking perspective


    Perspective? How does a dead person view perspective?


    The moral dilemma is frankly absurd. You'd have to throw virtually the entirety of existing medical knowledge that we have today if you ignored anything obtained through the suffering of other patients that previous medical researchers have experimented on. You can't just refuse or ignore scientific fact because of how it was obtained. You can strive to do things better in the future, and even pursue the guilty medical professionals and bring them to justice. But to ignore their findings once that knowledge exists is simply ludicrous.

    "If B'elanna's rights can just be ordered away so simply, what's going to stop the next captain from doing the same thing?"

    Perhaps there's an analogy to throwing in the towel in combat sports. The rule says that the combatants will battle until the referee deems the bout over but, sometimes, the referees allow things to go too far and allow excessive damage. At that point a cornerman can get their fighter disqualified by throwing something into the ring/cage. Usually a towel.

    In a similar manner, assume that any Starfleet officer serving aboard a vessel to abides by their captain's medical decisions but, if the guilt of survival is too much, they can, at a later date, choose to disqualify themself with a phaser. Until then they are part of a group and responsible to their crewmates and officers with whom they share a profoundly powerful mutual agreement of cooperation and survival.

    @Chris P

    Even if we assumed Starfleet had some sort of “sign away your life clause” when you enlist, something I find hard to believe given the respect to crew’s medical decisions captains give in other Treks, that argument is irrelevant because B’elanna is not Starfleet. She already threw in the towel and joined The Marquis.

    When The Marquis agreed to work with Janeway, I’m sure they never imagined they’d be giving away their medical decisions. The problem is Janeway decision to quash B’Elanna’s rights should have some lasting repercussions among The Marquis crew, but it doesn’t - which is just sad.


    I thought about preemptively addressing the Maquis angle but hoped that nobody would deign to use it. The crew of the USS Voyager operate as a Starfleet crew, with Maquis promoted to positions of authority. And it's safe to assume that Starfleet crew are not allowed to commit suicide due to the mutual reliance they have on one-another. A crewman's right to deny treatment ends when it puts other lives at risk. Military law and rules are different from civilian law and rules because civilian morality doesn't work in a military context.

    If this was a long-suffering crewman whose body was falling apart it would be a much more interesting debate but this is a healthy and important member of the crew who, in the previous episode, revealed suicidal depression. Pierced, penetrated, and underneath an alien organism flooding her body with chemicals was not the time to have a debate about suicide or right to treatment. Is there ever a better time to say "You are not your normal self" than this?

    There’s a difference between “comitting suicide” and refusing a treatment that affects your body whether it’s for spiritual beliefs, political reasons, or you just don’t believe the treatment is correct. And like I mentioned above, if B’elenna’s rights were never an issue because she surrendered them away years ago then the episode has no conflict. I don’t think that was the writers’ intent here.

    @Chris P

    You bring up some good arguments, it’s just unfortunate that the episode itself never brings any of this up. Those discussions could have made this episode a great one. The ending is just too pat and easy for what should be a very complex issue.

    Hey, guys. I have the cure for cancer, obesity, heart disease, and dementia... but it was obtained by testing on humans without their consent, so I'm going to destroy that information to stick it to anyone who might try that kind of thing again.

    I'm also going to retrospectively destroy all psychiatric advancements made by experimenting with unwilling patients.

    There is no ethical solution, because both arguments are correct. It is wrong to conduct medical research on people without their informed consent, and it is wrong to not use medical research to help others.

    The pragmatic solution is to use all research and discoveries, regardless of how that was obtained, because why punish others by withholding or destroying it? You can have disincentives for doing so again, but really, if the need is grave enough... we would remove all research safeguards in the real world.

    If we had a deadly plague killing 50 % of our populations, we *would definitely* start unethical medical testing on willing or unwilling participants. We would not sit by and carry on with double blind studies and the decade long process to approve a medication.

    Any comparisons with medical or scientific discovery/research and criminal evidence gained illegally is absurd. They are not comparable. Criminal evidence is not a new scientific/medical discovery or innovation, it is information that already existed.

    This episode was tedious, and obviously rubbed a lot of people the wrong way... considering all the comments, which I don't feel like reading them all. The magic hologram, the butthurt crew, and the incredible decision of the EMH to keep him as a Cardassian to stick it to his evil xenophobic crewmates, instead of saving the trouble during a lifethreatening emergency.

    The acting was good from the Cardy, but the Bajoran was a snooze. Technically, the episode was constructed well... but the story really falls flat, and ends inexplicably.

    "Get over it, but I will delete him now you're better. Let's just hope you don't have a cockroach sucking on your veins next week."

    This episode's whole storyline really pissed me off. It's pure pompous moral grandstanding. If I was ill and the only thing that could save me was a cure developed by my worst enemy who had killed my family, I'd use the cure! The way knowledge is obtained, once the knowledge has been obtained, is utterly irrelevant and any suggestion to the contrary is idiotic beyond belief.

    Frankly I found Krell to be the logical one at the end, and Doc was just jumping on the moral outrage bandwagon by deleting him.

    “The way knowledge is obtained, once the knowledge has been obtained, is utterly irrelevant and any suggestion to the contrary is idiotic beyond belief.“

    Think of it as a deterrent. If people refused to use the medical methods of someone who violated human rights, then that someone would be less likely to violate them.

    "Think of it as a deterrent. If people refused to use the medical methods of someone who violated human rights, then that someone would be less likely to violate them."

    Except for the fact that people who do such research are often not doing it for the purpose of some exterior party using their research, They are using the research for themselves and distinctly do not care what everyone else thinks about it and whether they'll agree to use it. In fact in the cases of 'evil governments' doing such research it's way beyond not *wanting* others to use it, but it's their express purpose to *prevent* others using it so that they'll have an advantage. So any sort of idea of deterrent seems to me inapplicable in these cases.

    Where we might draw a distinction is between foreign powers doing it (for instance experimenting on POW's) versus local people doing so in a corporate context and sort of skirting the intent of the law. So even if animal abuse is illegal in some sense a shampoo company might be experimenting on animals in such a way that it's torture by any other name. In these cases there might be an argument that refusing to use their research could be a monetary deterrent; i.e. they will be wasting time and money going down this path in R&D. In practice since these things happen behind closed doors and seem to never be quite 'illegal' but more like questionably on the line of the law, they won't actually get in trouble most of the time and at worst will face some backlash from the consumers. Realistically they'll change when the law changes or when there's economic incentive to do so, like when there's a massive consumer push for non-animal tested products. So again the deterrent argument barely applies here. What does apply is legal penalty for criminal violation of the law, but this obviously won't happen if it's the government doing the experimenting - even if it's against the law!

    Not that I'm arguing that it doesn't matter where knowledge came from, as it would be good to be able to acknowledge those who suffered when employing the knowledge. But I do tend to agree that it's hard to make a case that henceforth and forevermore anyone should be expected to pretend that the knowledge doesn't exist or that they must sit back and wait until it's been proven through some alternative means before employing it. Such a situation would begin to resemble Alixus' 'paradise' from DS9 to me, where known cures are ignored 'for the good of all'. And realistically no one will ever follow such a dictum even if we were to suggest they should, unless of course they were coerced into obeying it. And I don't think there's that much of a case that they should.

    Fundamentally this episode really can't be about research ethics and even if it were they don't go down that road intelligibly. It's really about the right of a patient to refuse treatment for any arbitrary reason, and especially when others rely on that person.

    “Except for the fact that people who do such research are often not doing it for the purpose of some exterior party using their research”

    Krell here was doing work for the Cardassian government who obviously didn’t care about his methods. But if he didn’t have them supporting him, (say the Cardassian people found out and opposed it) he wouldn’t have done his research. Deterrents do work, but I’m not making the case they’ll prevent *every* crime or they’re a perfect solution.

    @ Chrome,

    My point is that he did his research because of, not despite, the intentions of the Cardassian government. Since 'the people' of Cardassia had no say in that government anyhow their approval or lack therefore would never come into play. Not only would they never find out, if they did and spoke out they would disappear. So their input is moot excepting a total uprising. My point is that no amount of Federation or Maquis people refusing to use such research would mean the slightest thing to the Cardassian Central Command. On the contrary, it would please them to no end.

    It's hard to think of almost any case where refusing to use such research would be a meaningful deterrent to anyone.

    “My point is that no amount of Federation or Maquis people refusing to use such research would mean the slightest thing to the Cardassian Central Command. On the contrary, it would please them to no end. ”

    Maybe, but even the tiniest droplet of water in the still pond that starts the ripple is still significant. DS9 shows us through Garak that Cardassians are reasonable and influencable people, so there is merit to adhering to ethical guidelines and letting others know why they’re important.

    Well done exploration of the concepts of morality and ethics. The actor playing the Cardassian doctor did a great job coming off as bright, logical, and likeable . . . sucking us in just as he does the Doctor.

    The creature itself makes a questionable moral choice right off the bat, hurting and endangering B'Ellana in order to save itself, and that starts us off. The moral questions just keep coming . . . where to draw the line?

    The ep is very direct here, no subtlety about what this week's question is, but that's ok. The subtlety is in the answer to the question. Janeway's priority is to save B'Ellana, so we don't get a highfalutin moral lesson while the Captain stays morally pure. No, she goes ahead and gets in the muck up to her elbows, so B'Ellana doesn't have to. But then she turns the ultimate decision over to Doc, a great move on her part.

    And the Doctor puts things right, as surely Janeway knew he would.

    I liked it. Voyager is great with this kind of theme. I always disliked Kirk's so-superior preachiness, Archer's righteous anger bombast, and Picard's wordy lectures. Voyager has a lighter, more effective touch.

    Lately, I've been trying, often, to write my comments before I read the review and comments of others, so I'm giving my true, individual impression, before I'm influenced by others.

    This has led to some surprises for me, with this ep leading the parade so far. I'm stunned by the objections and complaints.

    Do you even Trek, bros?

    Do you have any specific arguments to respond to, Springy? I would say they have been pretty clearly articulated by Jammer and other posters. I personally enjoyed this episode more than others seemed to, but being a Trek fan doesn't mean you can just wave away an episode's flaws.

    Hi, Mirror Tilly, definitely I agree about not waving away an episodes flaws, and agree that Jammer and others have been clear.

    What I meant was that the flaws pointed out, for this one ep in particular, are the sort that many Trek eps have . . . that if you consistently applied these standards (one specific example: worrying about the "too easy to create Krell in the holodeck" thing) you'd have a hard time enjoying a lot of Star Trek, IMO.

    Watching this episode from 2019, some of it feels like it's not aging well.

    "Voyager partitions its harddrive, creates a new MedTalk AI app, and argues about deleting the wiki article about vivisections."

    Solid Voyager issue episode, one of the times it tries to be TNG and more of less succeeds. I don't think I understand the title, though. None of the players in the episode's moral dynamic are human (save for half of Torres, I suppose), and if it's a commentary on the alienness of the alien attacker, it's a weak thing to focus on. Not a big deal, however.

    ^I think the title was just arguing that the research experiments were inhuman/inhumane, Janeway and the crew were confronted with that and in choosing to use them maybe they started down or continued down that dark path.

    It's a clever title to a though-provoking 'thought experiment' of an episode, so sci-fi at its best in terms of confronting a variety of issues. All sorts of questions posed... if the Krell hologram had the original's moral compass but no recollection of the atrocities, does that make the decision to delete him less justified? Is the knowledge gained through experiments on unwilling weaker individuals or species something that should automatically be discounted? Can we ever justify experiments that exploit unwilling weaker individual or species from a utilitarian perspective (needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few)? Btw, a commenter above states that non-human animals are not sentient... 'Star Trek' is a bit notorious for confusing this word with 'Sapient' - rats can most definitely feel and perceive. Interesting that the attacking alien looked so very 'nothing human' as a reminder of how quick we are to let our pro-humanoid prejudices surface.

    I'm a huge Jammer fan. But this is a 3.5 star episode for me.

    I loved the debate in the conference room with Harry and Janeway on one side and Chakotay and Tuvok on the other. Like the best "Treks," I found compelling arguments on both sides.

    In the end, I agreed with Janeway's call.

    Uff, this was silly in the extreme. Don't treat a patient because the cure was developed by someone with a sketchy past?

    "Cancel culture" avant la lettre.

    So, we "cancel" the life and work of someone responsible for mass murder. That is ludicrous per se but where do we draw the line? Do we examine everyone's existence, down to whether they bullied someone in elementary school or ever told their spouse a white lie ("does my ass look big in this? - no, honey, it doesn't!")? How "pure" does someone have to be for their work to be accepted? Do we abolish penicillin because Alexander Fleming didn't sound off on LGBTQRSTUVWXYZ+ rights? Do we abolish D.N.A. because Francis Crick's views didn't mirror those of Black LIES Matter? Do we, ultimately, abolish fire because whoever discovered it wasn't a "woke" Millennial and, almost certainly, raped and murdered, thieved and pillaged, enslaved and demeaned?

    What idiocy... Too ridiculous for words...

    I mean, it's an interesting thought experiment and philosophical polemic but for it to have any practical impact aside from laughing it off? Geez... The Twitter mob of the 24th century is upon us!

    This episode reminds me of the time in TNG/Descent when VADM Nechayev dressed down Picard telling him, "Your priority is to safeguard the lives of Federation citizens. Not to wrestle with your conscience."

    In Janeway's situation, her priority is to leverage and maintain a tactical/situational advantage (without her or her crew committing outright crimes like the Equinox crew did). By allowing valuable information to be discarded that saved the life of her CHENG, she's doing her command a disservice.

    Proper procedure should have been to have the Doctor forward a memo (and opinion) to Starfleet Medical and let them decide about deleting the research from the medical databases. Like MikeZ said, this cancel culture is getting ridiculous.

    What is particularly puzzling about this episode is that it didn't need all of its problematic elements to work. It could have been made clear from the beginning that the Cardassian doctor is just a walking database that Doc uses to bounce ideas off, with a simulated personality just like any holodeck character, and drop the scenes where he literally performs the surgery itself etc.

    In fact, the episode would have been so much STRONGER if it was made clear that it is the DATA that is in contention and not this simulated recreation. As Jammer mentions, Doc surely uses a lot of data that also comes from unethical practices in his everyday procedures. But the question remains: What to do when you suddenly KNOW that to be the case? Should they have erased all of the datafiles in question from the computer and Doc's memory, and let him try his hand without it? The episode could have been outstanding when written this way. It was likely a case of underestimating the audience and wanting to take it all to an excessive literality.

    Hell, Doc could have had his holographic help just take the shape of Harry.

    @Void and others,

    How is this Janeway not consistent with the one in Prey? Here she was willing to help save the alien life form AND B'elanna via Docs procedure not just Belanna. Doesnt that seem more consistent? Hope someone can respond.

    An alien creature attacks Belana, Janeway draws a phaser on it, the doc yells "No, you'll hurt Belana!". Um...phasers have stun settings right?

    I know it's 2021 and nobody cares but I just wanted to say that whilst I liked a lot of things about this episode - especially the performance of the guest star - I feel it only works to the extent it does because of the work done setting up the history of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor in DS9. I can instantly sympathise with any Bajoran who has beef with the Cardassians because DS9 did all that legwork, which Voyager has essentially taken advantage of.

    Also - I know the Internet was in its early days back then, but if this episode was inspired by Auschwitz doctor Josef Mengele (which seems likely) then surely Jeri Taylor knew enough to know that the line about Earth doctors experimenting on "lower animals" but "not people" was ill-advised.

    The moral logic in this episode was horrible.

    1. If it is unethical to obtain medical knowledge by experimenting on people, then by not using it after the fact, all the suffering and death of those people would be for nothing. Deleting the database adds insult to injury.

    2. Using the medical knowledge doesn't change the morality of what happened in the past. Not using it doesn't bring them back to life or change the timeline. The people who could benefit from it, exist here and now, could be suffering in the moment, those other people are gone regardless of what you do with the results. Literally it is bogus fantasy land to think that your actions in the present effect the morality of the past (and this is not some time travel pun lol)

    3. The doctor's logic that they never experimented on people to gain modern medical knowledge yeah OK.
    ..that's just the most factually incorrect statement I have ever heard on star trek. Also, he claims to have thousands of alien culture medical knowledge programmed in, does he think none of the klingons sacrificed people in scientific research? (LOL they do it for non-scientific reasons like bogus rituals ripping each other's guts out)

    Basically the doctor was selfish, deleting perfectly useful medical information over a principle, that in reality, makes the atrocities experienced by the experimental people, worse, making their deaths meaningless, and deleting info after the fact as if that changes anything. Star Fleet is too wound up in its philosophical obsessions that no officer has any common sense whatsoever. Just like the episode where they could have destroyed some non-conscious space being before it ate the ship or whatever, but instead did it in a riskier way just to preserve it's non-sentient life.

    Fri, May 6, 2016, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
    >ugh This would have made a much better episode of DS9. Imagine it while exploring the Gamma quadrant a strange creature attaches itself to Kira and she is taken back to DS9 for treatment but alas! Doctor bashir can not remove it but a Cardassian doctor in a nearby system can.

    I was just going to comment the same thing. Would have been more plausible. I wonder if Sisko would have ordered Kira to accept the treatment had she refused?

    >I'll go one further. Why can't doc just download this info and "get smarter"? He already is the sum of what, 5000 medical professionals?

    He tried to amend his program in the past (In season 3's “Darkling” I think) and the results were disastrous.

    Jammers got this review bang on, a lot of suspension of belief to drive the moral discussion that the Voyager writers were looking for. Jammers details most of the outrageousness but I will add one more: given the doctor's encyclopedic knowledge of medical information not just for humans but hundreds of different species, are we to believe that his program could not incorporate the knowledge and expertise of 1 single doctor in the database. This would be a grain of sand in the beach that is the doctor's database. The writers wanted to tell this story and were willing to destroy all logic to do so. I would think the first thing Harry would have said was "this is great doctor, but given all the maquis aboard Voyager, how about we make him human instead of Cardassian and give him a new name."
    This story could have been saved by the Doctor using Krell the way that Laforge used the warp specialist in TNG, as a device to process and brainstorm information. Maybe unlike Laforge we wouldn't have the doctor fall in love. The story would have similar elements except Krell's atrocities are known and the doctor activates the program to brainstorm ideas. As a computer himself, he is detached from how the information was obtained and is solely focused on saving his patients. Hologram Krell having knowledge of his evil past would have allowed for intense moral discussions on the ethics of what he did and how the "ends can justify the means". This becomes a story of the Doctor's moral development and his final deletion of the program has increased weight as he has evolved his thinking on the issue.

    It is commonly asserted that the unnamed victims will have died in vain unless we go ahead and use the information extracted without their consent. Perhaps this is logical, but IMO, it certainly isn't uncomplicated.

    My cynical self thinks that at its worst, this is just another rhetorical device to ignore personhood and unwittingly renew the original violation, to save the next life.....that next life is someone dear to us.

    I think that the episode is a good one because it forces the viewer to think about the complexities underlying several different ethical standards.

    In the days when even simple extraction of a gall stone was deadly and before effective anaesthetics were available (say before c. 1846), patients regularly underwent the scalpel with a sense of desperate resolution, and consented, knowing that their suffering might contribute to the improvement of the procedure for the next person. They were willing sacrifices.

    With Krell, the procedural knowledge in question had its origin in forced experimentation. Does society honor the memory of the victims of such experimentation by overlooking the crime by which the knowledge was gained?

    The larger issue in "Nothing Human" relates to the horror that the rights of individuals over their own bodies will be argued away under the notion that the abrogation of the individual's liberties would lead to a greater public good.

    Jammer said:

    "We wouldn't have a convenient Bajoran crew member (where did he come from, and where has he been for the last four years?)"

    We suddenly had Bajoran crew members three times, that were seen once and never again.

    Learning Curve, here, and Good Shepherd".

    I don't agree with this notion of "personal liberty" after death. A living person has more rights than a dead one, and everyone should be organ/Stem cell doners by default after death, something a couple countries in the UK have already implemented. Relief of physical suffering trumps any religious conviction. But this episode is even worse because those people were already dead for centuries, and it is just information, not like they were physically extracting dna..etc against the family's wishes. Personally I can't stand that hologram, am glad he got read the riot act by the Mach 2 EMH on the Promethius. Can you imagine if in the deadlock episode, the doctor knew some experimental method to save Ensign Wildman's baby as she was dying, but was like "eh it would be unethical to use that knowledge because it came from a so I am sorry Ensign"

    Michael Miller: Interestingly, that view kinda makes the Kobali a race of serial killers. If there's no soul, per se, no personhood in death to require rights, then everyone the Kobali resurrect is a continuation of who they were, restarting biological processes that yield the individual they were and are again, soon to be murdered by their emerging Kobali identity. Full disclosure: This is also *my* view of the Kobali.

    Yes, I just recently watched that ashes episode and I think that race was immoral, but the premise of that episode was just popostrous in terms of the practicality. They seriously could sustain a civilization by salvaging dead often would a space-burial ejected pod happen to cruise by their planet? And why couldn't they just reanimated their own people?

    Deathcrow said:

    "They can make a 100% accurate hologram version of the Alien by a simple command from the doctor, but then they have to CUT the hologram open to find out how it looks inside (and make wild speculations while doing so). The hologram even suffers from pain, so the computer even understood the nervous system!!!"

    This is also what made TNG's "Ethics" ridiculous.

    There was all that fanfare of OMG you replicated a spinal cord from scratch!, but. no mention that the transporter does this, alongside the rest of a body, every time it's used, and has been since Archer's era TWO centuries earlier.

    "There was all that fanfare of OMG you replicated a spinal cord from scratch!, but. no mention that the transporter does this, alongside the rest of a body, every time it's used, and has been since Archer's era TWO centuries earlier."

    Based on episodes like Realm of Fear we can surmise that this isn't actually how the transporter works I.e. while yes matter is converted to energy and back again, this is a fundamentally different process from the replicator. It is why you cannot replicate, say, and Omega particle or an exotic time travel gizmo but you can transport them.

    @grumpy_otter @Michael @hobo GUYS QUESTION dont you think the ethical arguments amd implications and the neat original alien life form and and original setup withbthe wave outweigh the bad in this episode..I WOULD LOVE tp hear from you.

    "Computer, install a recursive algorithm!"

    Yeh, that'll do it.

    (Despite my nitpicking, I AM a fan.!)

    A very watchable, but not great episode.. Had a good moral dilemma. I like the way Janeway handles the final decision, the chances of success in their mission goes down without Torres, this has to be done. She makes the final call unilaterally, allowing everyone else's conscience to be at ease, this was her call, the moral ramifications are hers. Had they been in the Alpha quadrant, she probably would have made a different decision.

    The alien prop is so comical, but I feel bad saying so because it looks like they put a lot of work into it.

    Once it gets to the arguments, it's pretty good. The argument between Chakotay, Tom, the Doctor and Janeway is one of the best in the series. And all four of them are absolutely right.

    But yeah getting there is so clunky and implausible.

    And wtf Janeway towards Torres at the end? Not only is Janeway callous, she also turns the conversation against Torres. Didn't Torres have surgery in the last day or so? Maybe she's not running on full thrusters?

    > The larger issue in "Nothing Human" relates to the horror that the rights of individuals over their own bodies will be argued away under the notion that the abrogation of the individual's liberties would lead to a greater public good.

    Absolutely this! That's why B'Elanna gets so angry at the end. Is it silly or maybe even selfish of her to refuse treatment? Absolutely. It is also, thankfully, one of our most fundamental human rights. Nobody can treat us or operate on us against our will, no matter how stupid or wasteful or sad our death would be, or how much could be gained for the greater good down the line. It's one of our fundamental safeguards against barbarism and human experimentation.

    As for Doctor Krell: what many viewers seem to have missed is that his method was not needed. The Doctor knew a better way to achieve the same result, and takes over the procedure when Krell threatens to kill the alien person. But even more fundamentally, Krell's influence set the Doctor on a path which caused undue harm to the alien. Clearly it wasn't trying to kill B'Elanna. It most likely didn't even intend harm - if it did, it would have to be very stupid or suicidal, because knowing nothing about human(oids), it should expect retaliation if it hurt one of them. So why didn't the Doctor consider other options, like stabilizing B'Elanna's system and giving her extra nutrients, so that the alien could heal itself leaching off her body, at which point it would most likely have let go by itself? Because Krell set him on a path of thought which focused on removing the organism; even framing it as "organism" is wrong. It's a person. It just looks alien to us, but it was clearly sentient and sapient. If this had been another forehead alien, people would have been abhorred, and rightly so, when Krell opened up their back and laid open their spine, only to then send electric shocks through its system to paralyze it.

    The thing is, most of the unethical research the Nazis and Japanese did (which this Episode is clearly inspired by) is absolutely useless. And Krell exemplifies this, sicne his research was very easily improved upon massively by the Doctor within seconds.

    " of our most fundamental human rights. Nobody can treat us or operate on us against our will..."

    "So why didn't the Doctor consider other options, like stabilizing B'Elanna's system and giving her extra nutrients, so that the alien could heal itself leaching off her body, at which point it would most likely have let go by itself?"

    Because that would violate her fundamental right, i.e. bodily autonomy. Nothing/nobody can treat us, operate on us, or use our bodies without our consent. That includes putting something into it, taking something out of it, or even touching it in a way in which we deem unacceptable.

    When the alien latched onto Torres she yelled "Get it off of me!" so she does not consent to the alien using her body. She (or her agent, the EMH in this case) has every right to remove it, even if that means the alien will die. Yes it gets a little more murky when a patient is unconscious, power of attorney, that sort of thing.

    Nevertheless, this is pretty much a direct analogy to abortion. Even if it was another rubber-forehead alien that latched onto her, fully sentient, intelligent, and aware, it doesn't matter. If she doesn't consent, then that alien can rightfully be detached, even if it will die. Now, if there is a way to do it which causes less suffering for the alien, great. But keeping it attached against B'Elanna's will, even if "maybe that will help it survive later" is a complete breach of her right not to have her body violated.

    Consent doesn't have a time lag. Once you withdraw consent, or if you never give consent in the first place, then it's over. For example, sex is sex until one partner decides they no longer consent to continuing. If the other partner tries to keep going, no matter if they're "very close" then it immediately becomes rape.

    So "just wait" is an abrogation of the right to bodily autonomy. If you have that right then it must be unconditional.


    Star Trek has always been more liberal than it’s fanbase.

    Such fantastic direction and blocking from Livingston on this episode. With a stronger ending it coulda been a classic.

    I work in medical and the moral dilemma of this episode has already been resolved in the real world. The knowledge of past inhumane research gets used with these three understandings in mind:

    1) We use the knowledge, bu there is a collective agreement that the methods used to conduct the research will never be used again (international accords, human rights laws, boards of ethics on human research, Nuremberg, etc). In the evolution of human society and medicine, we have done barbaric things, but we don't "throw the baby out with the bathwater" through historical revisionism by erasing what was learned. Keeping the knowledge and openly discussing how it was obtained is how we prevent history from repeating. Deleting the knowledge and forgetting the events denies what happened and dishonours those who were tortured to obtain the information. If you delete the knowledge, then they really *did* die for absolutely nothing. Furthermore, if the knowledge needs to be re-obtained because you deleted it, it could still represent risks to research participants even if the newer methods are more ethical. Research redundancy is built into ethics now. You aren't allowed repeat identical research that has any risk if it was already done the past because you will be putting more people at risk, even IF the newer risk is far less than the past research that was done in a death camp.

    2) The research is applied in a sensitive, trauma-informed way and only if it has suitable distance from those who it affected. You would not, say, create a hologram of a Cardassian mass murdering doctor in question while there are living Bajorans on the ship who have direct memory of his actions. I mean, hello??? It boggles the mind why the doctor would even choose a Cardassian template on a half-Maquis crew when the Bajoran Occupation only ended recently.

    3) The controversial research is the best and only available knowledge on the subject. For example, a lot of our scientific understandings about human hypothermia came from Nazi experiments. That knowledge was used by European and North American doctors to enhance resuscitation of hypothermia patients. No other knowledge was available because trial ethics could not permit inducing hypothermia in human subjects ever again, even those patients consented. We will never do hypothermia experiments on humans again and we also want to honour the people who died from those experiments, so we use that knowledge to save others. Using the knowledge is meant to be a commemoration, not a disrespect. This was addressed in the Nuremberg Trials post-WWII.

    In medicine there are four ethical bio-principles: Nonmaleficence (do no harm), beneficence (maximize good), autonomy (respect for the patient's sovereignty and consent at every step), and justice (the treatment must be as fair as possible to everyone, not just the patient).

    So let's go through this:
    1) Nonmaleficence (do no harm) -- if the people who were experimented on are long dead and you're approaching current cases with trauma-informed sensitivity, then nobody is actually being harmed.

    2) Beneficence (maximize good) -- the knowledge may be controversial but the goal is to rescue a patient. The goal is good.

    3) Autonomy -- the patient has given their informed consent and know the risks and benefits of the treatment.

    4) Justice -- there are no consequences to anybody else in applying a treatment that draws on controversial knowledge, as long as ethics laws allow it.

    In "Nothing Human", the entire controversy could've been avoided by making the hologram anyone but a Cardassian. People were reacting negatively to Crell because he was triggering their trauma, which means the doctor was not applying trauma-informed sensitivity. He blithely "followed medicine" and only thought about his patient without considering the broader ramifications... so he was not actually practicing the ethical principle of justice. That would be no different than if you were seeing a death camp survivor and said, "I'm very interested in using this technique on you that I learned from Josef Mengele. Don't worry, it won't hurt a bit!" Like, why would you reveal that to them? It's also no different than showing a patient a video of all the lab animals that were tortured in the development of a drug you want to give them. It would inflict psychological harm on the patient and possibly their community, and prevent a therapeutic outcome.

    This episode didn't probe deep enough. It could've also benefited from having an actual medical consultant as part of the writing process.

    @Robert II

    Excellent clarification. I remembered haveing read something about this ethical dilemma erlier but my memory was quite blurred.

    However, the writer either did not know of this "directive" or star fleet had reevaluated it.

    A middling episode. I like what they are trying to do here, and I always enjoy episodes that focus on The Doctor, but this one doesn't quite get there for me. This episode proves as another example of how the Doctor just isn't quite human, and once again fails on the empathy front. I agree that the episodes asks good questions, but never really fulfills its goals of answering them. 2.5 stars for me

    After watching "dear doctor" enterprise episode, I thought about this episode again. It is just as absurd. The doctor deleting the database of useful medical info was inherently wrong for 3 reasons:

    1. Doing so would not undo any of the damage suffered by all the people during experimentation.

    2. By deleting the only positive thing that came of it, now all of those people suffered and died for nothing.

    3. The medical rights of living, suffering, dying people are more important than providing a weird sense of perverse justice backward in time to people who aren't even around to "enjoy it". You are sacrificing living peoples health in real time, for nothing. Those people are already dead! This same insane twisted way of thinking is why organ donation STILL is not mandatory (we value the rights of superstitious dead corpses over actual children in need of transplant suffering every day in the hospital).
    They shouldn't have given the EMH authority to delete the other program, and they should have kept the knowledge even if they deleted the character. Once again, no logic whatsoever. Star Trek seems to have the perverse idea that it is wrong to sacrifice someone's life to save another even in the name of self defense! That is just absurd, and this insanity is shamlessly displayed again in "Prey". The writers must be mentally ill if they think taking it this far is reasonable.

    I've sometimes disagreed with Janeway's decisions, but I never considered her a *b* until that last conversation with Torres in this episode. For the ship's sake, I can see why she violated medical ethic's and her stated wishes, but she ought to have been both respectful and apologetic about it afterward.

    I seriously can't believe the comments here. An ethical dilemma? There is simply none here, try as the episode might. Yes, Dr. Moset conducted unethical medical research to find a cure for the (wholly unrelated) space flu #28271. So using his research to (somehow) help B'Elanna must be amoral, right?


    Newsflash, those people are dead. The Federation had no say in their fate. What is amoral now is refusing to use that research to save lives because like Marritza/Darhe'el so eloquently put it in DS9's Duet, the dead will still be dead. Refusing a known treatment as an act of protest doesn't hurt the perpetrators or protect the vulnerable. It simply amounts to suicide out of spite. Especially Tuvok was butchered this episode with his "logical" explanation of Torres' reasons. That was so out of character that I wanted to throw up while watching that scene.

    As Moset devises the shock treatment on the spot, and it has essentially nothing to do with curing the space flu virus, so the argument that this treatment is based on his experiments on Bajoran prisoners is likely to be flawed anyway. This being VOY, we don't get much info about the topic. Even within the flawed logic of the episode, the treatment being performed by the guy who conducted unethical research should not be the same thing as being given the treatment that resulted from unethical research itself.

    Nevertheless, let's give the episode the benefit of the doubt and consider the treatment to be based on Moset's unethical research. Then there's the hypocrisy angle. There's a huge problem with having a problem with using Moset's research, and that's Seven. Her expertise and tech comes from the Borg, as many have pointed out, who have done far worse than the Cardassians by forcibly assimilating entire races. Instead of looking at whether the Borg had a choice or not, we need to look at how the tech was used; in Torres' case it was used to simply save her life with no further harm done; in Seven's case it was used to ensure the survival of the creators of the technology who would then go on to assimilate countless others, as Arturis pointed out in Hope and Fear. Then there's the higher life/lower life argument that Moset uses; it is quite convenient to harm animals instead of people and call the research moral. Should we reject that research and its results as well? Much knowledge has been obtained ruthlessly in history-slave labor, involuntary experimentation, mental trauma etc. Imagine, for example, that information is extracted from an enemy soldier under threat of death. Would you refuse to use it to save your own soldiers? It might cause a pause, as with Sisko in Rocks and Shoals, but in the end he let Keevan win because it was their lives vs. the lives of the Jem'Hadar.

    Furthermore, the issue of Moset's misdeeds is underdeveloped and lacking in proof. He claims that he ran a civilian hospital and had to do what he did to get anything done because he wasn't allocated any resources. We are not presented any evidence to the contrary. He could have done nothing and watched all the civilians die, and his superiors probably wouldn't have cared. There has to be at least some ambiguity there, but Bajorans=good and Cardassians=evil so we take the Bajoran at his word without much scrutiny beyond a couple of pieces of circumstantial evidence. Enlightened, prejudice-free society right there, folks.

    And to top it all off, Doc, who is programmed to save lives no matter what the allegiance or race is, decides to delete Moset because hey, screw saving more lives, we have our "ethics". Sisko's "You look out the window on Earth and you see paradise. But it's easy to be a Saint in paradise." rings very loudly in my ears. Voyager isn't in paradise and cannot afford to lose crewmembers who could potentially be saved.

    This episode gets 1 star at the most from me, and that only for the final conversations between Moset/Doc and Torres/Janeway being mildly interesting.

    @Mike P

    ))As an example, the fact that any non human animal mother, in the face of starvation, would eat the last bit of food and let her offspring starve or even eat those offspring to stave off starvation, proves they are not sentient. A human mother would never conceive of such a thing, and that is because humans and humans alone on this planet are sentient. She would sacrifice herself for her children every time.((

    Doesn't seem true in view of the current "My Body, My Choice" narrative.

    @ Joe P

    Towards the end of Season 4 and with the beginning of Season 5 i increasingly disliked her increasingly *b* behavior.
    It started somewhere around when they were able to send messages to Earth and getting answers from their beloved ones and Janeway having the final confirmation that Mark (her husbad) moved on.

    But maybe it's just her hairstyle that makes her seem bitchy

    This was a very good episode in some ways. I think about how so many that talk about the right to consent disagree with us on some issues. I know many of you know by now that I try to live my life according to God's standards as shown in the Bible. One thing the Bible prohibits is taking blood in any form. So many people who say they believe in consent try to force this on us when in hospital.

    I know that doesn't touch on the doctor who performed medical experiences on unwilling subjects. This reminds me of real life cases where this happened. It is horrific (and I am sure all if not most will agree with me on this). So many evil things have taken place throughout human history (as Ecc 8:9 says) Whether it is actual physical abuse, or uneven labour/profit, man has dominated man to his harm. These things will only be corrected under God's Kingdom. I know many try honestly to correct these atrocities, but they sadly happen round the world today as well as in publicized times like during the Nazi regime

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index