Star Trek: Voyager

“Flesh and Blood”

3.5 stars.

Part I: Air date: 11/29/2000
Teleplay by Bryan Fuller
Story by Jack Monaco and Bryan Fuller & Raf Green
Directed by Mike Vejar

Part II: Air date: 11/29/2000
Teleplay by Raf Green & Kenneth Biller
Story by Bryan Fuller & Raf Green
Directed by David Livingston

"It may be the warriors who get the glory, but it's the engineers who build societies." — Torres

Review Text

In brief: Ambitious and interesting, with well-realized characters and ideas.

It's probably the end of the road for anything relating to the holodeck or holograms; with "Flesh and Blood," the Voyager writers have taken the concept as far as it can go. They've done it here with an abundance of compelling arguments and smart ideas, which is more than enough for me to set aside qualms with cans of worms opened by exploring these issues.

I complained — quite loudly, in fact — about last season's dreadful "Spirit Folk" and to a lesser extent "Fair Haven." Both of those episodes were stupid holodeck farces that didn't have the brains to overcome the problems of their implausibility. But with "Flesh and Blood," the fate of holograms and their rights as possible lifeforms is a big chunk of the point. There's some genuine depth here. It's miles ahead of a silly example of the holodeck running awry. It's also miles ahead of fourth season's "The Killing Game," to which this two-parter serves as a sequel. "The Killing Game" was an action show with no brains, whereas "Flesh and Blood" is an action show with interesting issues and debate.

Like "Killing Game," this outing involves the Hirogen. It builds upon the previous episode's end solution, where Janeway negotiated a truce by offering the Hirogen holodeck technology so they could simulate their hunts as an alternative to hunting sentient beings.

Yeah, yeah — I have to ask what the Hirogen are even doing way out here. It makes somewhere between very little and zero sense that Voyager could run into Hirogen who were affected by Voyager's actions three years ago. I suppose they've been steadily moving toward the Alpha Quadrant too, in leaps and bounds, in order to thank Starfleet for giving them the holo-technology. Uh-huh.

Never mind. That's the underlying continuity/believability-breaker, but it's fairly minor and not worth dwelling on. (Given how flexible Voyager's position in the Delta Quadrant has been in the past, if the writers are going to break this rule again, they might as well do it for a worthwhile story, which this turns out to be.)

A distress signal brings Voyager to a Hirogen training facility where something has gone very wrong. The facility is a big holodeck, and it turns out that the holograms here took control of their environment and slaughtered all the Hirogen hunters on board. They then transferred their programs to a vessel equipped with hologram emitters and escaped. The only survivor the Voyager crew finds on the facility is a young Hirogen engineer named Donik (Ryan Bollman), a non-hunter who had the sense (or cowardice, depending on your walk of life) to hide.

How did this massacre happen? The Hirogen at first claim the technology went spontaneously berserk, but it turns out they're lying; Donik's job as a hologram engineer was to modify the holograms so they could learn and adapt. These aren't your average holograms; they're special holograms on a level as advanced as the Doctor — thinking, learning, sentient AI.

Janeway agrees to help the Hirogen hunt down the renegade holograms and deactivate them. Forming an uneasy alliance (featuring the expected dosage of tension between Janeway and the Hirogen leaders), they undertake a mission that Janeway feels obligated to carry out; she gave the Hirogen this technology three years ago, and she doesn't want it becoming a roaming threat. The Hirogen, of course, see this mission as another hunt.

The story gets much more complicated when the holograms abduct the Doctor, transferring his program to their vessel. They are led by a man named Iden (Jeff Yagher), a hologram with Bajoran form. Iden tells Doc that the holograms are fighting for their own freedom and survival; the Hirogen use them simply as programmed prey, but, like Doc, they have the ability to evolve beyond their programming. Iden sees himself as a liberator; after he freed himself and obtained a ship, he liberated holograms from three Hirogen facilities, and intends to free more of "his people."

The beauty of the episode is its plentiful complexity. It's not simply about hunting the holograms, and it's not simply about the possibility that hunting down these holograms is wrong. It's about the dialog and situations that arise in the meantime, prompting us to ponder both sides of the issue. Who are these holograms, and have they earned the status of having rights? At what point does technology attain rights, exactly? Would reprogramming the technology to regress it into something more rudimentary be tantamount to a forced lobotomy? And would deactivating such technology be the same as imprisonment or a death sentence?

With its two-hour length, "Flesh and Blood" has plenty of time to dive into a lot of well-written discussions, in addition to the action that moves the story forward. Many of these discussions are between Iden and Doc and reveal different points of view, both of which have merit when considering the characters' origins. Iden thinks of Doc as a slave who serves "organics." Doc doesn't see it that way, since he has been afforded the opportunities to pursue interests that push beyond the boundaries of his original function. But Iden's prejudices against organics are certainly understandable. He was programmed to be hunted and killed over and over again by Hirogen hunters. His purpose was essentially one to be tortured (the Hirogen, thorough in their desire to create credible prey, programmed these holograms with the capacity to feel pain and suffering).

There's a nightmarish sequence where Doc suddenly finds himself being hunted by a sadistic Hirogen. This turns out to be an implanted memory from one of Iden's own people. There's perhaps nothing quite like living through the plight of someone else to possibly understand where they're coming from (cf. last season's "Memorial").

There's an abundance of plotting in the story's two hours, including several ship chases, a few clever tactical maneuvers, Hirogen ships firing on the holograms and on Voyager (and vice-versa), a technical procedure contrived by Torres as a temporary measure to try to shut down all the holograms' programs, and a trek through a nebula. Between directors Mike Vejar (part one) and David Livingston (part two) and all the writers involved in scripting the two teleplays, "Flesh and Blood" is well constructed and well paced. A lot happens, but we're never lost, and the story keeps a firm grasp on all the details to make it something that makes sense and also remains entertaining.

As a sign of trust, Iden agrees to negotiate, transporting Doc back to Voyager, where he pleads with Janeway to consider the holograms' position. Intriguing is how Janeway's position on the matter doesn't depict her as the episode's hero; she's more of an antagonist if we were to assume Doc as the story's hero. She won't put others in the potentially dangerous path of these holograms, even if means deactivating them. Really, there aren't clear-cut heroes anywhere here, which is to the story's credit. Instead, there are viewpoints. Janeway's position at least partially stems from the guilt of having uncorked these holograms by sharing the holo-technology in the first place. Doc is so immersed in the plight of others of his "kind" that he flees Voyager and willingly returns to assist the holograms.

All of this is well documented by the plot, but what makes this story stand out are the details in the characterization, particularly once Torres is beamed to the holograms' vessel to help them build a generator that will allow them to live on an isolated world. (Iden says his mission isn't one of continued violence, but finding a place where his people can live peacefully without being hunted by the Hirogen.)

Even the choices for the holograms' forms proves interesting. Iden's Bajoran identity is appropriate given DS9's milieu of Bajoran freedom fighters trying to end oppression, and Iden even comes preprogrammed with spiritual beliefs. There's also a Cardassian hologram character here, named Kejal (Cindy Katz). Her name is of Bajoran origin, given to her by Iden, which translates as "Freedom."

The Doc/Iden scenes are good, but equally impressive are the more subtle discussions between Torres and Kejal. Torres isn't sure if helping these holograms is a good idea, since the technology she's rigging could be abused for hostile purposes. I appreciated the added dynamic of Torres' discomfort with Cardassians, held over from her old Maquis days. There's a nifty little nod to stereotypes of Klingons and Cardassians, and an even niftier point where Kejal draws a parallel between Torres joining the Maquis to fight Cardassian oppressors and the holograms' current uprising against the Hirogen. (I'm tempted to wonder how much irrelevant Alpha Quadrant information these holograms would've been provided by the Hirogen, but why quibble.)

The story's latter passages involve a turning point where Iden evolves from what appears a sincere freedom fighter into a megalomaniac who sees himself as a messiah to save all enslaved holograms. This turning point is probably a bit extreme and sudden, but still reasonably portrayed. There's a well-depicted example of pointless violence where Iden steals some holograms from a passing merchant vessel, and then destroys the ship and its two "organic" pilots. The holograms he stole turn out to be non-sentient drones capable of only a few rudimentary functions. They do not have the ability to grow the way Iden and his crew do.

Which is interesting, because one of the implicit ideas here is the contrasting level of growth between Iden and Kejal. Iden's megalomania stems from his hatred of the Hirogen and the violent tendencies they programmed him with — tendencies he ultimately is not able to overcome. He constantly goes back to his nature of fighting any organics who stand in the way of his holographic society.

Kejal, on the other hand, is able to grow beyond her original violent directives. (Earlier, Torres tells Kejal, with a tone that hints of personal experience, "It's not easy to change who you are. Trust me.") The notion of preprogrammed instincts and one's ability to grow beyond them (or not) hints at the "nature vs. environment" debate, something I'll mention but won't elaborate on (since I can't go on forever). What permitted Kejal, but not Iden, to evolve beyond her inherent violence? Was it fate? The difference in their overall purpose and experiences? These are typically human questions, aptly applied here to artificial intelligence.

The end of the story involves a massacre scenario where Iden beams a ship full of Hirogen to the surface of a harsh planet, and intends to wreak vengeance upon his oppressors by turning the hunters into the hunted. It's a decent idea, ultimately forcing Doc to kill Iden to end the cycle of violence, but it's not all that original and doesn't quite live up to the subtler arguments earlier in the episode. It's executed at a breakneck pace, cramming what could've played as a long action scene into a surprisingly short amount of time — but it somehow remains coherent.

The performances and guest performances are on target. Jeff Yagher brings urgency and sincerity to Iden; Cindy Katz portrays a calm and confident Cardassian; and Ryan Bollman is good as the scared young Hirogen engineer who shows that at least one Hirogen character doesn't have to growl every time he has a line.

"Flesh and Blood" is a well-crafted Voyager outing. As an "epic two-hour telefilm!" it's by far the best of the series' three (excluding the pilot), the other two being the dumb and bloated "Killing Game" and the entertaining but relatively thin "Dark Frontier." As a holodeck show, it puts most others to shame by thinking about the issues it raises instead of bulldozing through them in favor of idiotic farce ("Spirit Folk") or sidestepping necessary questions of programming capability ("Nothing Human"). It's an adventure that uses characters and ideas wisely, and the best outing so far this season.

Upcoming: Reruns. See you in 2001.

Previous episode: Nightingale
Next episode: Shattered

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Comment Section

116 comments on this post

    The Hirogen were always portrayed as a nomadic species. So it isn't hard for me to believe that they spread themselves throughout the quadrant. And assuming different hunting parties sometimes communicate with each other, all they'd have to do is transmit the specs. of the holodeck technology...gradually "passing along" the information in this manner. Just a theory.

    I agree with your 3.5 star rating here. This episode also features one of the favorite Voyager teasers. :-)

    Considering all they know and have experienced about the Hirogen, the most unbelievable aspect of this episode is the simple fact that Janeway would go out of her way to help them, while putting Voyager and its crew at extreme risk. The Hirogen are obviously the epitome of murderous fascists in the Delta Quadrant, why be so damn nice to them?

    I thought this was a thinly-veiled gun control allegory episode, particularly when Chakotay essentially says, "Holograms don't kill people. People kill people." They didn't take it much beyond that, though.

    It was absurd that Tuvok was able to incapacitate a Hirogen with the Vulcan nerve pinch. As if every species has vulnerable nerve clusters in the same spot.

    I also thought this was another one of those cautionary tale episodes, showing the consequences of Janeway mucking around in the quadrant. Of course, the plot didn't really touch on this point for any length of time. Perhaps Janeway got a rap on her knuckles when she returned to the Alpha Quadrant and filed her report (before she got promoted to Admiral, of course).

    Whatever. This episode has excellent music, and provided the basis for some excellent cards for ST CCG, so I won't register any other petty complaints.

    Had a hard time taking the whole things seriously after witnessing the spectacle of holograms lying on a sickbed, the doctor asking whether they could move their limbs. This is comedy-material, not sci-fi drama.

    Still, the story was otherwise thight, the drama was good and the battle sequences were very nice. It's just as shame the writers neglect the little things that would make it more believable.

    Outstanding part 1, disappointing part 2. Iden's whiplash-quick change from an idealistic freedom fighter seeking only a peaceful homeworld to a sadist with a God complex was not convincing in the least.

    I don't think the Hirogen's presence here and in Tuskan... the wrestling episode... are so egregious considering that when introduced, they occupied a network that spread from the Delta to the Alpha quadrants (Message in a Bottle)- clearly theirs is a widespread society (already established as nomadic) that appears to have widely traveled along the same path that Voyager will need to take to get home. Given this, I don't think it's unreasonable that the ever-traveling Hirogen are still encountered... perhaps only implausible that the holographic technology has disseminated this far out (unless the Hirogen have another relay/communication method).

    I really hate Iden's blatant change in character. Up to that point you could have sympathy for all the characters involved, but as soon as he turns into a megalomaniac, it makes the Doctor's choice way too easy, and by the end of the episode, there are no grey areas left. That's really too bad because the rest of the episode had so much potential.

    [Hirogen vessel intercepts Voyager and starts firing at it. Shields @ 68%.]
    Tuvok: "Shall I reutrn fire?"
    Janeway: "Not yet."
    [Hirogen ship fires again. Shields @ 52%.]
    Janeway: "Open a channel. This is blah-blah-blah. We don't wanna fight y'all."
    [Hirogen ship fires again. Shields @ 36%.]
    Janeway: "Stand down or we will return fire."
    [Hirogen ship fires again.]
    Janeway: "Fire."

    I'm surprised she didn't offer the Hirogen vessel personnel a chance to talk about their misplaced aggression and explore their relationships with their mothers before deciding to return fire!!

    And what was that nonsense with one hologram propping up another that was apparently "injured," or a hologram being scanned on a sick-bed, or a hologram praying to some spirit?!? WTF!?!

    Doc: "Captain, these people are on the verge of creating new lives for themselves." PEOPLE!!? They're H-O-L-O-G-R-A-M-S!!!

    So, we had human rights, alien rights, android rights, animal rights... - now it's time for hologram rights. Political correctness marches on.

    Overall though, a good and exciting episode though some of the ethical philosophical discourse scenes were too long. I agree with Jammer's rating. On to part 2... - watch this space! :D

    P.S. Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock" Kim was trumped again, this time by a Hirogen who locked him out of the comms system. Man, that guy is beyond caricature!!

    Part 2: Wow, the Hirogens are some piece of work. And I thought the Klingons were a bunch of primitive asswipes!

    I loved the second part, too, even more than the first part. Sure, the hologram leader's character 180 happened improbably fast but I actually found his earlier partrayal as "purer than pure" far more unlikely than his sinister incarnation from the second part. Besides, most "freedom fighters" turn into megalomaniacs to some degree either during or after their struggle. Nelson Mandela is the only instance that comes to mind who defies that observation.

    The ending was lame but, of course, in these modern times nobody is ever to be blamed for anything because values and principles are all relative and one mustn't be judgmental! I'd have reset The Doc's program to its original parameters but that's just the stick-in-the-mud old me.

    LOVED the action/battle sequences. Great sound track, too!

    Definitely one of my favorite Voyager shows!

    It's true the God complex transition is a little sudden, but I blame that on the SHORT air-time for this series. DS9 was such a disappointing show, but I so wish Voyager had been afforded the luxury of extended story arcs as DS9 had. In these two parters and meagre sequel episodes, the writers do their best. Anyway, the seeds for the God complex are planted from the beginning with Iden's religious beliefs. I agree the choice of species is very telling about not only the episode's philosophy, but the show's as well; I LOVE that Voyager turned DS9 back on its head, just as DS9 tried to do with TNG and TOS--the Bajorans' culture (by trek standards, barbaric and backward) is afforded every doubt and excuse in the later TNG seasons and DS9, but Voyager, not bound to the befuddled Alpha Quadrant's new politics, can reëxamine those issues afresh--Iden's religions (Bajoran whole-planet wormholeism and his new "Children of Light"--why does that sound familiar?) are revealed to be a means to power, something Iden understandably craves after being a torture-pleasure slave. Words like "prejudice," "liberate," and "peace" are thrown around to garner sympathy, but it's all about power. While there's no hero in the Hollywood sense, Janeway, Kejal and the Doctor are Greek-style heroes--unable to exonerate themselves from the mistakes they have made, but courageous enough to do whatever they can do take responsibility for their actions.

    At the end, Janeway declines to discipline the Doctor on the basis of the fact that he's become "as fallible as those of us who are made of flesh and blood": "How can I punish you for being who you are?" This is absurd. Maybe she feels she can't take action against him in the context of his being a hologram, but he's still a Starfleet "officer" in the sense that he's expected to follow and conform to Federation law and Starfleet protocols. I guess she can't "bust" him because he doesn't have a rank, but some sort of disciplinary action seems more than appropriate.

    So a couple episodes earlier we had a humanoid race that was seemingly at war with photonic insurgents...are these it?

    When we first saw the Hirogen, weren't they about twice the size of the Voyager crew? Did they shrink over time?

    More Red Dwarf copying :) (Holoship: Rimmer gets invited to escape the clutches of the biologicals and join his own kind)

    Interesting episode, I would tend to agree that it gives us the more or less face-on handling of the holographic sentience issue that the series has desperately needed for some time.

    I wouldn't call it a full resolution (that would require a clone of TNG's excellent "Measure of a Man" and could probably only be done in the Alpha Quadrant anyway), but I've come to accept that the Trek writers took a more philosophical approach with holograms than they did with Data. Data was pretty much unquestionably sentient from activation, whilst holograms seem to take a more gradual and grey-area approach.

    When you think about it, we can't even decide when a human becomes sentient (hence the whole abortion debate, and let's not get into it) so even though I've complained about the lack of "Measure"-like certainty on the issue in the past, in hindsight it seems pretty fair really. This episode makes good use of the issues whilst still leaving it some degree of mystery. That's fine.

    (I heard the hologram rights thing is brought up again late in the series so maybe I will get my original wish but at this point I'm not fussed either way)

    It's fantastic to see consequences of earlier actions. In a series that has for so long prided itself in its isolated episode format, to bring one of Janeway's much earlier decisions crashing down on her is a real treat. I've missed that. More please :)

    Oh and did they rearrange the ending music? Sounded a little different.. even though the differences are minor it sounded befitting a mature series in its final chapter.

    ^ Back to normal next episode. Guess it was a 2-parter credit music thing.

    "How can I punish you for being who you are?" This line probably seemed profound to whoever wrote it, but it's just nonsense. If a guy murders someone because it's "who he is", should he escape punishment? Unless Janeway means Doc cannot be judged like a full person can be, which seems to go against the whole point of the episode.

    Still, apart from the Doctor escaping all punishment and Iden's turning into a nutjob just so we can have a proper bad guy, I thought this was a pretty solid episode with quite a few interesting points raised.

    Kristen's brain in first five minutes:
    "Simon Tarses is in the Delta Quadrant?!?!"

    Kristen's brain about ten minutes later:
    "The Hirogen based a hologram on Simon Tarses?"

    Kristen's brain ten minutes after that:
    "Why, he isn't acting like Simon Tarses at all!"

    Kristen's brain now:
    "I miss Simon Tarses. I'm gonna go watch 'The Drumhead'."

    Hologram rights is a good thought-experiment, because they are sentient and intelligent, and in this episode, they can also suffer and experience emotions. The deeper issue, that pertains to our existence, is the rights of individuals, whether human or non-human. Any creature, whether of this world or another, whether human or not, has basic rights, and recognizing and respecting that is supposedly what Federation values are about. I love ST (all of them) but wish that for once animal rights would have been addressed directly, instead of allegorically through aliens experimenting on humans or Data or the Doctor talking about their own rights. Sentience, intelligence, and a capacity to feel and suffer are the fundamental issues ... and nonhuman animals have all those capacities. That is why Riker in TNG tells some aliens that humans no longer eat animals, and why Janeway tells an alien vivisector that humans no longer experiment on other beings. There is also the issue of the rights of those in the future, which the temporal prime directive is meant to protect -- something that our species would do well to consider vis-a-vis the use of fossil fuels causing global warming. If humanity has the values of the Federation of Planets we would cease harming animals and would build an entirely new infrastructure on Earth, with renewable energy and protection for biodiversity. That is the true work for engineers at this time in history, not twiddling on making destructive technologies more efficient.

    @ Paul York :

    I'm all for antivivisection in most instances, but most animals don't possess anything close to sentience. Maybe dolphins and chimps and apes, but that's about it.

    Not too bad. It was a nice action packed adventure with a lot of stuff that made me like it less than Jammer did. I get why Janeway chooses to go after the holograms though it would have been a lot easier to walk away and let the Hirogen deal with it.

    Why are we still dealing with the Hirogen after all these years ?

    Doc pulls a fast one that puts everyone at risk, and he isnt punished or reprogrammed ? (I wouldnt want him to be reprogrammed either, but its what makes sense here...)

    Jem'hadaar hologram? Not sure that would work out. Holograms were created three years ago. Was that before or after the first alpha quadrant transmission?

    I thought it was pretty well established in the first episode to feature the Hirogen (Hunters) that the Hirogen hunting grounds covered a massive area that stretched to the edge of the Beta Quadrant, as dictated by a network of communication relays that they used to coordinate (and Voyager destroyed- oops)- so it's entirely reasonable that they are a nomadic, wolf-like species that covers an extremely wide territory but does not have an organized government or homeworld as such.

    I noticed the Jem-Hadar thing as well, but Sisko did encounter them about three months before Voyager left the AQ, so it's likely they were added to their database of alien species in order for other officers to study. More confusing is why a hologram programmed to think it was a Borg drone would cooperate with Iden and the others.

    The 'irrelevant AQ information' was probably NOT programmed by the Hirogen. They probably asked to see some AQ species for them to hunt, and the technology itself gave them the associated traits of that species, just as it would if Worf asked the holodeck to create some sparring opponents for him.

    @ David...

    Sure there coul dbe a Jem'hadar the time Voyager launched, it was mid-season 3 on DS9, the the Jem'Hadar/The Search I&II had happened. The Jem'hadar would be in the Starfleet database henceforth...

    That was an excellent two-parters with subtle characterization and a good story.

    That is, until the very end... I also thought the change in Iden was too abrupt, but I could live with it. What I found wrong - in an episode where there's an emphasis on consequences - that the Doctor doesn't suffer any consequences (except his own guilt).

    I critisized Sisko a lot, so it's only fair to analyse Janeway too. I guess she is prejudiced against Paris. In another episode, we heard the captain tell Kim she wouldn't have been surprised if Paris had done what Kim did (which is totally wrong to tell to a co-worker).

    So, Tuvok, Chakotay, Kim and now the Doc are just reprimanded while Paris is not only being demoted, he's put in the Brig (with no visitors, which is also wrong and a good way to have someone become irrational and getting psychologically disturbed) for a whole month. That means Ops, security and seconding are more valuable than the pilot ? And than the only medic ? Or that means there's an obvious double standard.

    Well, I've said it, now I can move on :p. It's a shame, because the rest of this episode was great.

    I agree with Navamske. The EMH purposefully gave Iden tactical information in order to transport to Iden's ship and make sure that Voyager's plan failed. At best, borderline mutiny. At worst, full on mutiny and treason. And in the end nothing happens to him. Perhaps one of the perks of being a hologram is that it gets you out of being punished like an organic.

    If I lived in the ST future, I'd be a freedom fighter for holographic rights too. Deliver these children of light! :P

    A nice meaty episode, but I am also of the opinion that Iden's change in character was entirely too abrupt. It would have been far better if he had been somewhere in the middle but just enough to force a response, and Doc having to kill him would have been a much harder choice. Heck, I'd even accept that maybe some power surge causes the violence and aggression subroutines he was programmed with in the beginning to take over again, choking out the progress he had made toward being something more. But perhaps he'd still have moments of clarity so the breakdown is believable and gradual, which would make him more of a tragic character.

    The other thing that bothered me greatly was the flip-flopping of the entire holographic group. At first, they all seemed keen on the idea of starting their own society and getting away from "organics." Only that one Starfleet-looking one showed an overt bloodthirsty nature throughout everything. But as soon as Iden goes off the deep-end, so do all of the others with the exception of only Kejal. With the capacity to grow and evolve, I would think more of them than just one would have gotten past being easily-swayed sheep.

    Oh, and yes, Doc's lack of consequences was a pretty egregious issue. He IS still a member of the crew and therefore should be held accountable for his actions. Though, I can't help but wonder if letting him off the hook was Janeway's way of acknowledging her own fault over everything. As if to say, "This is as much my fault as it is anyone else's so we're just going to call this one a joint debacle and move on." Then again, she's such an inconsistently written character that I can never figure out her motivations from one situation to the next.

    Last thing, I really liked the little Hirogen engineer guy. I liked seeing a Hirogen that had more interest in a cerebral career than in participating in the barbarism of the hunt, and that even though Janeway's actions of giving them the tech had caused a lot of trouble, it also had at least one positive result: the chance for this guy to become more than what he thought he was born to. An interesting parallel, and it makes sense in that respect why he'd actually identify with the holograms.

    so, kim has sex with an alien and gets reprimanded and the doctor sabotages the ship by turning down the shields and he gets "to err is human?"

    but fun episodes.

    3.5 stars.

    I may be the only one to feel differently about the Doctor deserving "punishment" for his actions. I will admit that the Janeway/Doctor scene at the end was a disappointment, but for different reasons.

    Janeway said that she, in essence, "created the monster" by letting the Doctor exceed his programming and therefore she can no more blame him than herself. That seems so arrogant to me. He made the choice to betray Voyager. BUT, I feel it was with good reason: even in that very scene, Janeway showed a lack of respect for the individual that the Doctor has become. If he were like everyone else, she would have done two things:

    1) Come to terms with her continuing bias regarding the fact that the Doctor is a hologram. She should have acknowledged that he was driven to disloyalty because despite his "freedoms," he is not treated anything like another member of the crew and NEVER taken seriously. She still sees him as a tool and not a sentient being. A ship-wide communication could have been made regarding the treatment of the Doctor.

    2) With this new acknowledgment, she should have disciplined the Doctor, but to a lesser degree. Perhaps, his holo emitter could have been confiscated for three months and a report put on his record.


    I see your point about Janeway, but it's important to remember 2 things :

    1) Janeway specifically mentions in "Author, Author" how Doc's insubordination changed her perception of him as a lifeform, and

    2) when she first confronted Iden, Janeway may have been polite and cordial at first, but she had the "off switch" in her back pocket--a tactic which could only be employed as a result of her opponents' nature, being AI; I think Janeway accepted Doc's sentience in S5's "Latent Image", but it was accepting that he was sentient like a human(oid) is sentient, not as an intrinsic part of HIS nature as a hologram. When it came time to punish Doc, Janeway had it seems two options; punish him like a human officer (revoke his privileges, reprimand him, etc.) or punish him like a hologram (returning to that "off switch" scenario which is at the heart of the moral/philosophical issue of the episode). Choosing either would be insufficient in setting a precedent and acknowledging that a fundamental shift in perspective had occurred. In the future, Janeway would just be negligent not to punish the Doc (and indeed, in "Renaissance Man", she does), but at this point, punishing him would be too small a way of thinking, of feeling and of giving weight to the crisis which had just transpired; by not punishing him at all, Janeway is humbly admitting to her own fallibility and to a complexity which is beyond her ability to cope with given the tools at present. Understanding and accepting "new" ways of life often requires this kind of thinking, of accepting that the parameters of the "old way" are too narrow to function any longer. I thought it was a beautiful scene and by choosing the "third" option, gave the philosophical core a gravitas that any other choice would lessen.


    Fair enough. That is interesting. The humility, or actually, I would call it reverse pride, that I perceived from Janeway seemed more a product of guilt for being open to sharing Starfleet technology in the first place and less about any new perception of the Doctor and Hologram life forms. I didn't get the impression that she saw anything more than a member of her crew making a critically and devastatingly poor decision. There didn't seem to be enough emphasis on the Doctor's motivation for that decision. One would assume that in order for the Doctor to commit to something this egregious, he would have to be pushed beyond his limit of logic and loyalty.

    Case in point: as Janeway first speaks to the Doctor in that final scene, she acknowledges having a hope that there was a glitch in his programming. Of course that serves to solidify her regret for the situation, but it also seems dismissive of his feelings...dismissive of her role in driving him to this point.

    "This turns out to be an implanted memory from one of Iden's own people. There's perhaps nothing quite like living through the plight of someone else to possibly understand where they're coming from (cf. last season's "Memorial")."

    Very true. Recall in TOS, "The Immunity Syndrome", when Spock tells McCoy about "suffer the death of thy neighbor" and how if humans had their history would be less bloody? This VOY episode reflects on that and takes it to a personal level. The EMH loathes the instilled 'torture', but it is a thoughtful and complex episode.

    And it's nice to see repercussions from Janeway bending the prime directive in ways she thinks will help her but, oops, really don't.

    The EMH's fast one to give the other holograms an edge came out of nowhere, as what he did damaged a lot of equipment and hurt and almost killed many. Did the EMH learn "the hypocritical oath", perhaps?

    The only thing that bugs me is that they're holograms. I usually love high concept stories, but the premise takes much disbelief to suspend. Manage to do that and it's a 5/5 story. I still can't help but to rate it 3.5 or 4, despite a very worthy and complex topic, mostly because I can't see the Doc risking others' lives as such and that using holograms is a trifle convenient. It's easier to forgive the latter than the former...

    But even season 7 of VOY does have much life in it, despite these more extravagant episodes having as much to nitpick as there is much to wholly admire in attempting to say.

    The action and the fascinating debates and ideas are all presented close to perfection. For the first time, Voyager has done a story which can rival the daring depth and the effortless complexity of DS9 on top form.

    I liked the edge this story has. The shocking treatment and the proceeding fallout of holographic beings is unflinchingly ugly. It mirrors real life where right and wrong spill together, ugliness reigns supreme and people suffer to the point it can no longer sustain anybody and the whole sorry thing dies bitterly. Okay, it doesn't go whole hog with mirroring reality; but it definitely feels more honest and gritty compared to most Voyager adventurey conflicts.

    Yet he need to restore normality does taint the final resolution of the story. The conflict sacrificed much of its complexity when it needed to end and of course the Doctor had to be pardoned.

    But I think these inevitable wrap-ups were done as well as they possibly could, keeping its philosophical heart intact. 3.5/4 stars.

    I just watched this one. Enjoyed this episode a lot. Good morality play, good action, nice to see some familiar Alpha Quadrant faces, the Jem 'Hadar, the Breen, the Bajorans, etc. The scenes between the Doctor and Iden, B'Elanna and the Cardassian Kejal, were great. I really liked the scene between the Doctor and Janeway at the end.

    Voyager had its problems, but it seemed to do the two part epics quite well most of the time. I agree with Jammer's review of this.

    I agree with some others here, Part I was decent and compelling, however the Plot quickly fell apart in Part II.

    The most egregious part of the episode came in the final wrap up, where Janeway spent about thirty seconds contemplating the can-of-worms of releasing the holograms wrought, and to top it off, the Doc gets pardoned. A reset-button if ever there was one. No lesson learned, no moral, just another f#ck up. ;)

    Starfleet will have much to answer too once they expand into the space previously journeyed by Voyager, to answer the many grievances of species affected by the cavalier technology sharing by Janeway and Co.

    A Hirogen in the mess hall locked the bridge out of their own comm system, amongst too many other strange behaviors and decisions and contrivances to lazily nudge the plot forward. Great subject matter but almost nothing happens naturally in this episode and thus I had too much trouble enjoying this episode. Why do they insult their audience almost every week?

    1.5 stars.

    "How can I punish you for who you are?" Really? Ask Tuvock, Chakotay, Belanna, and Paris who got a lecture for their infractions.

    Just after the episode where H. Kim finds out he is far from captain material, here he breaks his own multiple incompetence records: he can't lock on a hologram being transferred outside the ship.

    Also, we have to watch Janeway threatening an uncooperative alien in the sense that if he does not cooperates, she will abandon him and his men, wounded, in the next habitable planet! Preposterous.

    These Voyager annoyances aside, it was quite a good episode. Sure, with problems here and there, like the overly naïve behavior of the Doc. Which is even slightly out-of-character. But with some inspired details to compensate, like the "hologram rebellion" that is quickly touched in the episode.

    It is just sad that Voyager didn't deliver what such a plot promised. I just wish we had a real hologram rebellion arc to deeper debate the thin boundary that separates programmed beings from living beings.

    On the other hand, the last scene was amazingly good. One of the best in a very long time. Sure, by the book the Doc deserved more punishment. Sure, being complacent can be accused by some viewers as just-another-Janeway-irresponsible decision. But under the circumstances, I do feel she did the best: let Doc live with the weight of his mistakes forever, after acknowledging that we has crossed barrier of a programmed being to one that can REALLY make his own moral decisions.

    For me, that was what this episodes was (or tried to be) about. For a moral perspective, the living Doc was fully born in this episode.

    "It's true the God complex transition is a little sudden, but I blame that on the SHORT air-time for this series."

    Elliott, please. This show was practically guaranteed seven seasons given the popularity of Trek at the time. It had plenty of time for whatever character development or plot threads it wanted. That's not an excuse you can make for this show. You have to face the fact that the writers simply weren't concerned with such things. They wanted to do episodic schlock and that's what they did. It's true that Paramount held them on a short leash, but it's equally true that Berman and Braga are bad showrunners.

    As for the religion, so one person wants to use religion for his own personal gain and suddenly every Bajoran who's religious is only in it for the personal gain? That all religious people are like that? DS9 did not say that, and indeed also had a recurring character who used religion for her own personal gain: Kai Winn. She believed she was doing what was right, even if she really was motivated by power at every turn. And even if she didn't really believe she was motivated by power.

    @Sean: I actually concede that point entirely. All the Trek spinoffs could have benefited from about 1 less season in their runs (unless they were going to add something worthwhile to the mix). You see S7 as fan-trolling, which is kind of odd, I see it as them trying something new with the final season. In that context, S7 was too late for them to start this off if they weren't getting an eighth season (which they knew they weren't). It should have started at S6. Stretching this episode into three parts would have made time to show Iden's transition properly.

    @Elliott: I do appreciate that they were doing something like Harry Kim finally getting some development, but it really was, as Jammer said, too little too late. This was something they should have done a long time ago in season 1 or 2. That episode only served as a reminder of how little the characters actually change.

    In the same way, I do appreciate them trying something different, but too little too late can apply to most of season 7. As I'm sure you agree. They decided a long time ago that Voyager was going to be an episodic schlocky action show, and so they stuck with it. It was only in season 7 when they reversed course and decided to do some character development, it really was far too late.

    Which is why I feel bad for Enterprise, because Enterprise is a copy of Voyager it was already too late for it to be good before it started.

    Oh, and regarding one less season, I do really enjoy DS9's season seven. I would agree that it could have done with one less season if all of the seasons were pushed back and there were less alien of the week episodes when DS9 was trying to be TNG on a space station in seasons 1-3. That's not to say all episodes of those seasons were bad, just that the seasons after 3 tended to have very few bad episodes, usually just a ferengi episode here or there.

    I think Voyager really found its stride in S5--most of the episodes in that season were good to great and most of the characterisations were very strong. It managed to be fun, thoughtful and engaging. The next step, logically was what they tried in S7, but they waited too long and rode the fumes during S6, meaning that there wasn't really enough time when they finally did start arcing to do it properly. That's why, from a S7-perspective, the series feels shortchanged. In this way, it's a lot like Enterprise's 4th season. They were in their fourth year, but when they finally started doing the show right, there wasn't enough time left.

    DS9 could have condensed its 6th and 7th seasons. There was of course necessary closure in S7, but most of the characterisations were whacky, the Dukay/Winn arc was laughable and the war got tedious. S6 had some real high points, but close to half of it was waisted air time. They could have made one strong season with what they had, maybe throw in a Jake episode to give his character some closure and be better for it. As it stands, DS9 S7 feels like a tremendous nose-dive. They never got better than S4 on that series.

    I couldn't disagree with you more on almost everything you said. Season 5 of Voyager was not that terribly good. It was just more of the same from Season 4. There were some good episodes in there, but for the most part it wasn't really any different from any other Trek show. Season 7 may be like Season 4 of Enterprise (although not necessarily as good), I haven't seen finished it yet to make that judgement call, but the problem with that is that Voyager had seven seasons to make this clunker. They had plenty of time, and they squandered it. With Enterprise, it's quite possible had they got the customary, by then, three more seasons they might have been good (as long as Berman and Braga continued to not be involved). But with Voyager, they most definitely wasted their time.

    DS9's season 7 was quite good. I quite enjoyed the Dukat/Winn arc and the war was the best part of the show. Those last 10 episodes are very enjoyable and engaging to watch back to back. Season 6 had some of the greatest Star Trek episodes ever made, especially my personal favorite Star Trek episode In the Pale Moonlight, but the last fourth of the season wasn't necessarily the best with the obvious exception of Valiant. Season 4 is also quite good with many highlight episodes including the attempted Starfleet coup and Hard Time, but it's not as good as Season 6 imo.

    Well, you're of course entitled to your opinion, but even most dedicated DS9 fans concede that its last season was rather weak and I've encountered few defenders of the Winn/Dukat storyline, but to each his own I guess. I'll happily take Voy S5.

    Whenever I sit and watch Voyager, I inevitably arrive at the same conclusion: yeah, it's kinda fun, it's usually not boring to watch, it has its moments, its great episodes, but at at the end of the day, it's a hollow experience. Voyager says nothing of importance, at least not consistently. To me VOY is a Trek version of one of those TV procedurals that hold my attention for a while and is pretty much forgotten soon after.

    I like shows that try to say *something*, that strive to be more than a sum of their parts. I can forgive a lot of bad stuff if a series at least in good faith attempts a new take on a trope, or has dynamic, changing characters, etc. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's laziness and going where we'we all gone before god knows how many times. I've abandoned more than one great looking, nicely acted, decently plotted TV series exactly because i's "been there, done that".

    I don't know, when it comes to Trek, it probably has to do with whichever series was your entry into Trek; you'll probably have a soft(er) spot for that one -- I assume Elliott grew up on Voyager? It's understandable, I guess.

    TNG premiered about 3 months before I was born, but since it went into syndication I ended up seeing the whole series from top to bottom before I went into high school (that's around age 14). I dovetailed in with Voyager when it aired (though I wasn't into all the internet hype at that time--too young; it was just another Trek to me). I started Enterprise and thought it was awful, so I didn't watch it. I was aware of DS9's existence but not really sure when it was on.

    As an artist, i can guarantee there's nothing "new" to be created; originality is a point of view and often a fetish amongst consumers, but it doesn't really exist. You can trace back bits and pieces of every episode of Trek including TOS to other sources and slap on the "derivative" sticker dismissively, or you can appreciate the craftsmanship and particular emphasis or nuance the artists who pieced these episodes together put into them (or didn't). Was Voyager basically TNG with a new crew?Yeah, pretty much. Was TNG TOS with a new crew? Also yes. The big difference is that decades separate the latter whereas only months the former. Of course, now that they're all off the air, it doesn't really matter does it? I can switch instantly from one to another whenever I want.

    Whenever I sit and watch DS9, I feel insulted, mocked and betrayed by writers who felt entitled to twist and corrupt everything Star Trek sought to be. And it didn't feel like loving mockery à la "Galaxy Quest" or "Space Balls," but a mean-spirited reversal designed to cash in on some sort of neo-gothic cynicism. Maybe you're right; if I had drunk the DS9 koolaide as a child or teen I wouldn't have liked Voyager for its return to form.

    I honestly don't understand this complaint about "been there done that"--I mean we're discussing shows which went off the air many years ago. We're RE-watching them for our on enjoyment. Are we getting something new and original out every time we do this? Every time we re-read a good novel or see an play? Art is at its core ritualistic, like religion. We our souls feed on it. Star Trek, for all its derivativeness is a special kind of soul-food. It has an uncanny ability to engender hope and a real feeling of progress. DS9 just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

    So Elliott, from what I can gather from your comments, your thing is that Star Trek is not so much a story of real people in these situations. People who naturally change because of what's happened to them. To you, Star Trek is a mythology, sort of like stories of gods and heroes who don't learn from their mistakes and never change. But that's why they're endearing to you. You see the same story over and over again and you enjoy it. You like the mythological core of Star Trek, as you see it, that was established in TOS and TNG: the stories that are told time and time again. And so you like Voyager. Because for many people here, Voyager was just a rehash of stereotypical stories that we've all seen before, but for you it was more of that mythological core that you love.

    That's probably why Jammer and so many others disagree with you. We have a fundamentally different philosophy to Trek. I enjoy Trek as a story of real people in these situations. They change over time as things happen to them. They're not the same people day in and day out. No one in the real world is. We like realism in our stories, once we buy the premise of the stories taking place hundreds of years into the future. To us, realism is what makes Trek stories so good: showing a reflection of ourselves in people hundreds of years into the future who are fundamentally different from ourselves. Dealing with ideas and issues that we would never even think about for ourselves if we weren't watching Trek.

    And that's fine. The two philosophies are radically different. It's at least nice to understand why you don't like DS9 and like VOY, pretty much the polar opposite of myself and Jammer and several others in the comments here.

    I must admit I have trouble understanding why you take DS9 so personally. I dislike Voyager, sure, I can't stand Abrams' movies, but hey, I move on, deep down I don't really care. But to "feel mocked, insulted, and betrayed"? By a TV show no less? Why should you feel that?

    I don't buy that originality doesn't anymore. I also don't quite get what you mean by that. If a piece of art is to a large extent unlike what came before, it's original, for better or worse. If it blatantly rehashes existing tropes without adding much of its own voice, it's not. And no, it's not faddism or "consumer fetish", at least not where I'm concerned. It's a simple function of why spend inordinate amount of time watching derivative stuff (though fun and not without any worth) when I could be watching something that engages me in a way I didn't expect.

    And frankly, talking about Voyager, it's a mediocre show. Even if it had been the first Trek show on air, with no "derivative" baggage keeping it down, it would still have been a problematic, weak-ish TV series with its by-the-numbers plotting, static characters, over-reliance on tropes and cheap actiony solutions. It is an insipid TV product even when viewed on its own, or maybe especially when viewed on its own, without the larger Trek mythos and values to prop it up.

    @Paul M.

    Star Trek wasn't just space adventures for me and other people I've known. It wasn't just a TV show. Trek stands for certain ideas and certain principals, and, in spite of its pop-culture permeation, stands alone in that regard. I cherish Trek for those principals and so, yes, I take personally what the franchise does with its creation. DS9 is at heart the loud-mouthed, cynical, adolescent, neo-con upstart in the franchise and I take exception to that. The "betrayal" has to do with the fact that the writers and producers were the same folks that worked on TNG and, a soon as they felt they could come out from under the Roddenberry shadow, put forward this massive dump on his memory and his vision. Voyager respected its origins and understood the value of Trek's message. Yes, from a purely TV-production perspective, there were problems, just like on all the series, but it was real Trek, even when it got dark (unlike DS9 or Enterprise). You see Voyager as insipid, I see it as inspired, you see DS9 as intriguing, I see it as insidious.

    Regarding originality, I'm sorry but I can pick apart any story and identify from where its pieces were stolen. Eventually this process leads one back to mythology where all stories originate. Creating the guise of originality is an illusion, a magician's trick that writers use to fool your senses. The less the audience knows, the easier this trick is to pull off, but the writing is honest, one can be aware of this trick and enjoy the story no less. In fact, understanding the foundations upon which the story has been forged makes it, for me anyway, *more* enjoyable. I like seeing bits of Endymion and Janus in these characters, or Three Sovereigns and Five Empires in these wars. It deepens my understanding and broadens my pleasure.

    I was going to respond this episode after having watched it, but was a bit distracted by the DS9 and Voyager debate in the comments above.

    Regarding comment (and any others like it): "And frankly, talking about Voyager, it's a mediocre show."

    Is this a suggestion that Voyager is objectively mediocre or that the author feels it is mediocre?

    I understand the desire to form a consensus in our experiences of culture. However, I don't know why people feel the need to argue that evaluating a cultural work or a work of art is a truly objective experience. For instance, some people say DS9 was good or Voyager was not as good as if this statement is a fact. Consensus is one thing, but fact is another. I don't believe anyone can say as fact that DS9 is good or Voyager is bad. Sure it's fun to come to a consensus. It's fun to have a poll like the Sight and Sound film poll. It's fun to say the critics think Vertigo is the best film ever made (because it won the 2012 poll). (If anyone who is reading this is curious about the poll I referenced, it has a Wikipedia page.) But, it's not a fact that Vertigo is the best film ever made. That's silly.

    Of course, Paul M. and any others with similar beliefs have a right to make comments like the quote above. Nonetheless, I feel that I must rally against the idea that truly universally objective conclusions can be made drawn about the quality of a certain work of art or culture.

    In regards to the comment Kieran made that the doctor was being pardoned due to his innate fallibility:

    I thought the doctor was being pardoned because it was evident that he was a sentient hologram saving other sentient holograms. Janeway pardoned him because she felt it would have been like judging another life from for wanting to saving his or her own life forms. I interpreted this to be the moral quandary.

    But that was only my interpretation and I'm not certain that was the intended meaning. This point was not clear in the episode.

    It also wasn't clear (to me) to what degree the doctor was aware that he was putting the Voyager at risk. It would have been helpful had this been more clear in the episode. It makes the doctor look unnecessarily bad that things got so dire for Voyager after the sentient holograms tried to defend themselves (from Voyager).

    All and all, it was an interesting episode with some very effective scenes containing very apt dialogue. The dialogue between the doctor and the leader of the sentient holograms was a highlight.

    Any captain who didn't lobotomise the obnoxious, wasteful and irritating picardogram after this little effort should be put up for general court martial herself.

    Absolutely ridiculous stuff and when you think what this show could have done... Gah.

    An excellent episode, drawing heavily on themes first raised by Bladerunner. Many good scenes and some excellent dialogue. A thought provoking episode. I especially liked Janeways sense of guilt at letting the Hirogen have the technology in the first place. And the doctors gradual awareness that life with these holograms may not be as good as he fisrt thought.

    I thought the issues presented were interesting, but only during the first hour. In the second hour, Iden’s actions become increasingly difficult to justify, and by the end he is so clearly wrong that the moral issue becomes moot. There may not be a clear-cut hero in this story, but there is a clear-cut villain. Kejal was probably the most interesting character among the holograms, but she did not get enough screen time. I’d give 3.5 stars to part I and 2.5 stars to part II.

    There is a hilarious goof during Voyager’s first battle with the Hirogen. The crew walks onto the bridge and Tuvok bursts out "Sheilds at 68%!" before he has even reached his station. It's like he's sensing it telepathically! :)

    I am surprised that people think Iden "changed from an idealistic freedom fighter seeking only a peaceful homeworld to a sadist with a God complex" -- No, he was always a meglomaniac
    sadist but covered up that part of himself in order to gain the Doctor's support. Because he was played by an handsome actor with a open sincere face, we automatically trusted him and were surprised when he turned out to be a shithead.

    There was also a feminist solidarity message here. Torres and
    Kejal were able to forego their racial differences and connect with each other as women to reject Iden's deviant maleness and cooperate for the advancement of life.

    And as for Harry Kim being "boring" and "never changing" -- well, traditionally Chinese and other East Asians value consistancy through the years; we Westerners believe people have to change and grow and express our freedom every week. I am not saying one way is better than the other, or that either are locked into that way. Harry is typically Chinese but now and then becomes very Western -- while Tom Paris is the ultimate American freedom-lover who sometimes aims to be consistant.

    I have watched a lot of Voyager and feel the characters are all more real than anyone in TNG. Riker is simply too handsome and perfect in every way. LaForge is a fine character but I find it impossible to relate to him because I cannot see his eyes. Wesley is, as everyone says, ridiculous at the helm. Picard is too Shakespearean. Troi, too gorgeous and sexy. Worf, too harsh and his ugly forehead distracts me from appreciating him.
    Dr. Crusher and Data are okay, but the Voyager's Doctor is more interesting than either of them.

    Janeway is inconsistant, certainly, because she is always and forever searching for the moral, ethical response to the difficult situations the writers put her in. I enjoy watchng Chakotay search to follow his Native American heritage in the 24th century. Seven of Nine is just as or even sexier than Troi, but the combination of that sexiness with her Borg side is fascinating. Torres is another fascinating blend of two divergant characters both tempered by femininity. Meanwhile Tim Russ works hard at being a Vulcan without being a clone of Spock. Neelix is, I admit, annoying, but I accept him as part of the diversity on this ship.

    If you wish to respond, here is my address: [email protected].

    @Jeff This is one of the most fascinating comments I have ever read on this or any Trek related site. I honestly cannot decide whether you are being serious or sarcastically humorous. Given the tone of the first paragraph and the content of the last, I am guessing its a serious comment, so I will take it as such.

    "Because he was played by an handsome actor with a open sincere face, we automatically trusted him and were surprised when he turned out to be a shithead.", that's not even remotely the reason why we trusted him to begin with. I could not give a hoot if he was a male model, or his face looked like a malons arse. We were inclined to trust him because when we first encountered him he was calm, rational, reasonable and kept his word. He returned the doctor to Voyager as promised and endeavoured to open a dialogue with Janeway to find a peaceful resolution to the situation. His courage and compassion for his fellow holograms was evident when he risked his own "life" as it were to save them whereas he could so easily have escaped himself at no risk. Finally, he was articulate and sincere enough to effectively convey the intolerable suffering he and the others were subjected to during their captivity and this enabled us to empathise with their plight. It's somewhat ridiculous to reduce all this to simple good looks and an open expression. The fact is his character morphed from a reasonable, principled and charismatic leader into a deranged, irrational psychopath so fast I got whiplash.

    "There was also a feminist solidarity message here. Torres and
    Kejal were able to forego their racial differences and connect with each other as women to reject Iden's DEVIANT MALENESS and cooperate for the advancement of life."

    Now you have really lost me. What "message" are you contriving to see here? So its "feminist solidarity" just because two females (actually one female and one computer program) manage to agree on something? Thus every time two men, say Chakotay and Tuvok, find common ground on an issue, it must constitute masculinist solidarity? It can't just be seen as two characters finding consensus on issue of common interest? And what on EARTH is "deviant maleness"?! Are you somehow implying that the source of Idens latter megalomania was his (simulated) male gender?? Therefore I can infer that the message you are seeing here goes something like this: the male leader symbolises patriarchal rule, which is inherently "deviant" owing to its "maleness" and only the inherent purity of feminine virtue, as expressed through "feminist solidarity" can stand up against it and cooperate "for the advancement of life"?! Its rude to simply mock another persons point of view, but thats utterly bonkers.

    With the greatest respect, you sound like you have swallowed a radical feminist treatise of misandrist propaganda, suffered indigestion and then regurgitated it here.

    Furthermore, you hypothesise that the source of Kims retarded growth and development as a character is actually his Chinese ethnicity. This, I believe, is a truly unique take on the problem. Somewhat ludicrous, yet refreshingly orignal at the same time lol. Personally, I have to go with the more conventional explanation of poor writing over the course of seven years.

    You feel TNG lacks realism because Riker is too gorgeous and perfect (Eh...okayyy), ditto Troi, Laforge is blind and hides his eyes, Wesley is too annoying (I will grant you that one), Picard is too cultured and Worf is too ugly. Again, I do believe this to be an entirely original take on the shortcomings of TNG.

    Somewhat disappointingly, your final paragraph actually makes complete sense, and I concur with almost all of it.

    As for the episode itself, its a solid 3 stars. Entertaining, imaginative and well acted. However it once again demonstrates why Janeway is the most maddeningly inconsistent captain in the history of Trek. Contrast her treatment of the doctor here with that of Harry when he fell in love/lust with that alien chick.

    Kim disobeys orders to cease contact with the alien, despite there being serious mitagating circumstances (he was under an alien influence that impaired his judgement and free will i.e. that ritual bonding that made him glow in the dark). Janeways response: a furious dressing down and formal reprimand on his record which even Chakotay said was too harsh.

    The doctors offence on the other hand was several orders of magnitude more egregious. He disobeys orders, betrays the voyager crew by sending the holograms the information they need to cripple and almost destroy the entire ship, potentially killing everyone aboard. Finally he completes his disgrace by defecting to the enemy, abandoning his friends and colleagues (not for the first time) to go with a bunch of strangers he knows nothing about. Cathys response? Zilch. Zip. Nada. Because apparently he was just being "who he was". As I recall when Tom Paris attempted to "be who he was" by disobeying orders to help another culture save their planet he was demoted back to ensign. Not for the first time, Janeway displays the most appalling judgement.

    This episode was a solid 3 stars for almost all of it, with Iden's change sudden/disappointing but believable enough, until the final scene with Janeway giving no punishment, that was so unbelievable the episode dropped to 2.5.

    LOL at, but kind of have to agree with, that DS9 was a neoconservative show.

    Were there post-"Thirty Days" episodes (aside from "Dark Frontier" and this one) where Janeway doesn't impose any punishment for treason?

    On seeing some more from Season 7, I think "Thirty Days" was maybe indeed the exception.

    Anybody else notice that the doc is a treacherous pos in this? Worthless traitor that put voyager's crew in danger. What a scumbag.

    Funny someone brings up feminism about Flesh and Blood episodes of ST: Voyager, because those episodes are a condemnation of the same sort of intersectionality that a large portion of feminists espouse.

    I really liked this episode. 3.5 stars
    It loses the half star for the lack of a punishment for the Doctor. Totally unacceptable. "If you want to be treated like a human, so be it, on grounds of treason, I sentence you to Solitary Confinement in the Brig for 30 days. Your Mobile Emitter will remain on for the duration. No visits." As we know from the episode "One", the Doc has the need for company as well. He was on edge with only Seven to talk to.

    Doc also just poisoned a man in Critical Care - Goodbye Hypocratic Oath, Goodbye Loyality to Starfleet, Goodbye Ethics. The Doctor has no problem doing wrong things for what he feels is the greater good.

    We can't afford to give any AI the ability to think for themselves and adapt. This episode is another warning to humanity, STOP, before sentient AI becomes a reality. Another type of Terminator like story - We should not create an AI smarter than us EVER. The Technological Singularity is estimated to occur around 2040, but the general consensus agree somewhere between 2030-2050. (If you do not know what it is, please Google it.)

    Atomic energy can be used for constructive and destructive purposes. (Let us not get into the Good vs Evil debate again).
    After the Technological Singularity occurs, AI can also be used for constructive and destructive purposes as well. Even today, North Korea is threatening a Nuclear attack on the US and South Korea. They will certainly not hesitate to use AI in the future against them as well. For those that do not know, currently most Hacking attacks on the US come from North Korea. Their government pays their hackers extremely well, and are treated like Gods. North Korean hackers will never go hungry. (If you do not believe me, please Google this too.)

    The United Nations has a Treaty Banning Nuclear Missle Tests. The same should be done to ban the development of Sentient AI. Do we really need to wait until Pandora's box is opened before the Ban is created? Of course, there will be no ban. AI shall inherit the Earth.

    Thanks for letting me vent. :)

    "If you want to be treated like a human, so be it, on grounds of treason, I sentence you to Solitary Confinement in the Brig for 30 days. Your Mobile Emitter will remain on for the duration. No visits."

    There must be a deleted scene somewhere where Paris flips her off for not doing this.

    Solid rather than spectacular overall. It's good that as a feature length episode this is given a bit of room to breathe, as it definitely works in the shifts in perspective and emphasis well. I thought Iden's progression was well handled and organic (sic) to the character - that he becomes a megalomaniac killer is grounded in everything we've seen before.

    And that's what makes the conclusion so strange for me. Either the Doc is a function of his programming, as Iden was, and so can't really be held accountable for his actions. Or he's more than his programming, in which case he can and should be. Given the Doc's condition has been made out over 7 series to be the latter, that last scene makes no sense to me at all. 3 stars.

    There are some legitimate concerns and complaints about this episode. Personally, the "how did they get all the way out here" issue was the least of my concerns. I will grant them one willing suspension of disbelief if it means a good story out of it. So a wizard did it. Or the Hirogen have the best engines ever. Or Seven's been messing with the crew and they're actually going around in circles. Yeah, it's dumb, but that's what you get when you want to make a sequel in a series that doesn't work well with sequels. You just pretend and move on.

    Janeway's initial dismissal of Iden and the Doc is a lot more difficult to ignore, however. The reasoning is clear; we needed to get the EMH upset enough to actually commit treason and leave the ship. And for that, we needed Janeway to be her typical cold, unforgiving self. This is the same Janeway we saw in Nothing Human and other episodes, a Janeway completely unconcerned about ethics. She's basically a dictator refusing to listen to anyone else (note that EVERYONE else in that meeting room was telling her to listen to Iden), refusing to allow for any common sense. I understand that Janeway is not an enlightened philosopher like Picard, but Kirk and Sisko both tended to weigh matters heavily before making their decisions. Janeway? She just grabs an idea and runs with it.

    This is especially egregious since the theme of the story seems to be the law of unintended consequences. Janeway gave the Hirogen holodeck technology to try to make them stop killing other people, but they used it to turn the holograms into people and started torturing them instead. The EMH helped Iden in the hopes that he could create a new society, and instead Iden turned out to be a monster. They even called her out on it when Chakotay complained later to Janeway in the corridor. Unfortunately, it seems like she never bothers to learn her lesson. Even at the end, when she talked to the EMH, she never admitted error. This aspect of her character is very annoying, and it's mind-boggling that the writers don't seem to notice how unflattering it is for their captain.

    Next contrivance, Iden's sudden messianic complex. It was handled clunkily, certainly, but I don't think it's as bad as other people are saying. For starters, we do get hints that he isn't as pleasant as he initially seems. He kidnaps the EMH, and then forces him to undergo being hunted without any warning, then he kidnaps Torres on top of it. Clearly, he has a sense of "ends justify the means" here, so seeing that he would do what others might see as evil in order to advance his cause is not unreasonable. Furthermore, we have hints that these holograms are still heavily influenced by their original programming, which involves fighting and violence. Thus, that Iden does not fully remove himself from his programming is not unusual. Nor is it surprising that he would reinterpret his violence and revenge fantasy in a religious context, given his spiritual programming. Like I said, it was very clunky the way it was done, but they had to do something. In order to meet the theme of unintended consequences, the EMH had to be wrong about Iden's vision. I just wish they did a better job of it.

    And then the last concern, that Janeway did not punish the EMH in any way. To be honest, this struck me as being rather racist (machinist? Enh, whatever). She can't punish him based on what he is, really? What, you just can't expect an AI not to commit treason, giving a potential enemy tactical data in a tense situation and abandon his post? You just can't have the same standards for humans and AI? Because if it was any other member of the crew, they would be punished. It sounds like the writers wanted to sound deep here, but failed to say much of anything. It would have been a better conversation if Janeway acknowledged her own blame in the matter (see above), but still took away his mobile emitter for a few weeks. After all, the theme of this story is that actions have consequences.

    Oh well, I mention those four issues because they are the only issues I have with this episode; for the most part it was excellent. Practically every character, including both the main cast and the guests, had a role to play and played it well. The plot was, minus those problems, incredibly engaging. The action was fun and well scripted. Of Voyager's three big events that they did in the middle of the show, I think this one ended up being the best. Which was surprising to me, since based on the description I thought it'd be a snoozer.

    Of particular interest, I think, is B'Elanna's role in this episode. As the outsider on the ship, of course she had the role of being the primary voice opposing Iden and his crew. But I thought the way she needled the Cardassian engineer was effective. Their conversations were some of the brightest spots of the episode, forgoing infodumps or straw man arguments in favor of two characters with opposing but reasonable viewpoints. And neither backing down. In the end, it's not necessarily that the Cardassian changed her mind and became a believer of what Torres preached, but rather could see how Torres' viewpoint would get her what she really wanted. She was a believer in Iden's ideals, not the man himself.

    There was also one interesting little dialog between the two of them I liked. After talking about the ability to change who you are, B'Elanna makes a comment that it's very hard, and then adds a small "I should know." It's just a tiny little character reinforcing piece, reminding us that she has never been comfortable with her Klingon self. And that the idea of resisting your natural urges is something she has to deal with constantly. No, it's nothing groundbreaking. But it's just a little piece to show that the writers are becoming true to the characters they have, rather than just mouthpieces to move the plot along.

    Nicely done!

    The first Voyager story that had me gripped....since season 5. I can nitpick, but I don't want to because I was so impressed by it. Especially the actions have consequences theme - all too rare in the Delta Quadrant - and the connection between Iden's religious beliefs and his descent into megalomania. If that's an implied criticism of DS9's take on Bajoran religion, it's one I have time for. Definitely 4 stars from me.

    OK, who thought firing phasor underwater at shore targets was cool as hell!!!

    Hirogen ships are awesome looking.

    I think this story was plausible as they come with regards to the Hirogen. I can definitely see them mandating the protocol changes.

    Janeway didn't just give away the technology, wasn't she bartering for Voyager's life?

    But I have to admit, I'm going to have to score this a little lower than Jammer did.

    The damn Doctor committed TREASON!!! He, no shit, could have gotten someone killed! Come on man.... he should have been erased and brought back to day one for that. At least for a period of time. He got NOTHING! Good lord, Tom loses 2 ranks and get 30 days in the brig for defying her orders.

    A Bajoran that wants to be a god.... didn't see that one coming...

    I did enjoy B'Elanna once again. I'm starting to believe Roxann is the best actor on the set.

    3 stars from me here.

    My biggest gripe about this episode is how they reused the prop for the artificial life form from "Think Tank" as the photonic field generator.

    I never believed the premise of this for a second. But it ends up being pretty decent.

    I thought at first this was going to be another "If you prick me do i not emit photons?" retread, especially with the whole Holograms Are People, Too speech the doctor is given. But it ended up being more complicated than that. Eventually it evolves into a cult episode, which I didn't expect. Pretty interesting.

    No, I don't believe the Doctor gets no punishment because Janeway is down on herself. But then again, it's hard to punish an EMH. He has to use his transmitter to get to others on the ship who need fast medical care. That's one of the advantages of having it. And keeping a hologram out of the holodeck is sort of like punishing a dog by not letting him go outside. Pointless and kind of cruel.
    If anything, it shows how much they rely on the Doctor to be self-governing because there is very little they can do if he isn't.

    Once again it was established in the first episode they appeared that the Hirogen were at least spread out all the way to the Beta quadrant. And they all can stay in contact via their communications network. So obviously they shared the holodeck technology that way.

    Is it just me or was that swamp at the beginning the same one Paris and Janeway slithered out of in "Threshold"?

    @Trip: couldn't agree more about your comments re Technological Singularity. This is fast approaching and not enough people are concerned about it. As you're probably aware the US is now spending up big on AI weapon development. Thankfully a large portion of the scientific community has expressed their concern over this, but, as with pretty much all scientific endeavour, if it can be done it will be done.

    @Skeptical: I agree with everything you said with one exception: whilst there were hints that Iden was presenting a false impression for the doctor, I thought his God complex still came out of left field. Up to that point his actions (whilst somewhat extreme) could be justified.

    Overall I really enjoyed this episode but I'm disappointed that they made Iden into a villain. I think this would have been much better if they had kept the morally ambiguous tone, rather than the black and white scenario that it became towards the end.

    These episodes that highlight the nature of sentience and the rights of holograms remind me of "Bicentennial Man" (robin williams). Whilst its wasn't the best movie, it still did a great job of exploring the possibilities. Personally I'm a firm believer in AI rights. I think Asimov is going to turn out to be an extremely accurate prophet regarding the nature of artificial life.

    @Leah: "Last thing, I really liked the little Hirogen engineer guy. I liked seeing a Hirogen that had more interest in a cerebral career than in participating in the barbarism of the hunt, and that even though Janeway's actions of giving them the tech had caused a lot of trouble, it also had at least one positive result: the chance for this guy to become more than what he thought he was born to. An interesting parallel, and it makes sense in that respect why he'd actually identify with the holograms."


    I agree, I really liked him too. He and Kejal the hologram Cardassian woman were my favourite characters of this episode. You nailed pretty much everything I had to say about the depth of that particular character, so I don't have too much to add, but I just thought that he was very charismatic and endearing, and was even quite cuddly, haha! Definitely one of the reasons why this episode was so enjoyable. I thought it was very fitting for him and Kejal to pair up at the end, since both of them are outcasts from their own respective societies. At heart, Star Trek has always been about the outliers, the misfits of society and how they manage to carve out a place for themselves and find inner peace, as it were.

    Iden was clearly off from the get go. He constantly talks about "organics." He relentlessly displays his religious nonsense, like where the Doctor encounters him in the chapel or whatever and he makes him wait until he finishes his prayer. He tortures the doctor with the others memories. (There's no excuse for this. They have ship wide holo emitters. If he wanted simple understanding, it would've been enough to show the Doctor their memories using the holo emitter. It was totally beyond the pale to actually implant those memories in the Doctor.) The way he's constantly explaining his actions to the blood thirsty Simon Tarses was so shady you could see very clearly he's putting on a show for the Doctor.

    The real 180 comes when Iden, who's been displaying decidedly clever tactics suddenly flushes tactics down the toilet, abandons his ship to beam to the surface in order to hunt Hirogens. He's left himself completely vulnerable. He has no leverage at that point. If anyone wanted to kill him and the entire society he wanted to build at that point they could've just torpedoed the surface of the planet from orbit to destroy the holo emitter and also blown his ship out of orbit. Kejal wouldn't have been able to stop them from doing so alone. It was tactically retarded for him to go unhinged and drop all strategy when moments before he was strategically much more adept than most of the people he was fighting.

    All in all, I really liked this episode. It's not a 4 star, but certainly 3 are well deserved. I really wanted to see some of these holograms again. Murderous Simon Tarses was a treat. Kejal would've been a good fit on Voyager. One thing I don't understand is the holograms had holographic weapons. You can clearly see this because when they're chasing the Hirogens with their phaser rifles, one of them throws something at the hologram and both he and his phaser rifle phase right through object. If you can make technology with the holo emitter (I always thought the replicators made the real objects/technology inside holodecks, alongside the holograms and force-fields; that can't be the case here), why can't you make a self-sustaining holo emitter? And therefore make self-sustaining holograms, especially since we've already seen a number of photonic life-forms?

    Voyager involved in yet another mess that is none of their concern. Because "we gave them the technology." No. You can't be responsible for what a sadist does when you give him a fork. "Oh no, he's stabbing someone with the fork we gave him."

    But it moves the plot along and brings up nice issues about sentient photonics. I like it. Of course you need the double reversal, where we find out that the leader of the photonics is deranged. He also happens to be an idiot who doesn't know the difference between sentient holograms and 1-job subroutines.

    Not sure why I'm supposed to care about whether the Hirogen live or die. I do care how they seem to always be there, no matter how far away they seem to get from their home world. I'm waiting for the Oompa Loompas (Kazon) to show up again.

    Janeway to the doc after his insubordination: "How can I punish you for who you are?"

    Janeway to pedophile: "How can I punish you for who you are?"

    Sounds like a solid way of running a ship and society.

    Thanks for giving us this series Netflix. It made me watch a couple of episodes I had missed over the years.

    And now I'll never get those hours of my life back.

    Is there any time where Janeway actually says "You're right." or "Point taken. We'll find another way."

    It seems to me that time after time, crew members come to Janeway to protest at her defective decisions and double standards only to be told "It's my way or the highway lol." It's basically the writers saying "Yeah, we know Janeway is being stupid and illogical, but we want to tell our story, so we've added this pointless scene to put you and her crew in their place. Double lol.

    This gets 1 1/2 stars from me. Because it was sort of interesting and well made. But...

    The one thing that made the whole thing fall apart for me was, at the very beginning, when they first realized that the holograms were murderers, they were going to shut them down and reprogram them, and Janeway, the worst captain in starfleet history, decides not to do it. Because it would be like 'declawing a cat'. pfft. Cats don't run around murdering everyone.

    Then after they kill lots more people, some completely uninvolved and innocent people at that, then she decides, hey let's shut them down and reprogram them.

    Of course they should have done that at the beginning, but no episode then, I suppose. But an episode starting with a stupid decision that results in many people dying, and many more, including the whole Voyager crew!, nearly dying, and then ends with 'oops, guess I was wrong!' at the end is just annoying. Janeway should be relieved of command, yet again.

    Okay, what kind of bullshit is this?
    "I'm not taking any sides. Anyway, let's strip this one side of sapience or way to defend themselves."

    I can understand not wanting to give them the technology, but if Janeway was truly not taking any sides, she would just leave. Not helping one or the other is not taking sides, not only sorta helping one side over the other-especially when the latter's position is "just let us go and leave us alone".

    I do like they didn't do that lame shit where a semi-sympathetic main villain sees the light and gets replaced by flatly evil secondary villain, as Star Trek did before and will do again. Still, the whole "I AM THE GOD OF THE NEW WORLD" just doesn't work for me. I'm not saying they shouldn't have ultimately treat him as a bad person, but this comes off as trying way too hard to not make Janeway look bad for siding with Hirogen.

    @skibble These "murderers" were killing actual murderers (as in, people who run around and literally murder people for sport) in self-defense and Janeway should have immediately brainwash them all? Even with what happens later (which they had no way of knowing and as far as we know, wouldn't happen if it wasn't for them), they are at worst just as bad as the Hirogen.

    Oh dear... I am glad (for them) that Jammer and others liked this two-parter but I have many problems with it..

    What was the purpose of the conversation in the beginning with the Doctor and Chakotay about the medical conference? It was not followed up, it was just, just... there!

    And Janeway orders the remaining aive Hirogens to be transported to sick bay? I mean, how big is sick bay? Later, we see a dozen or more in the mess hall, how did they all fit in the sick bay at first?

    Also, a hirogen can simply disable the com system of Voyager from a cupboard in the mess hall? Seriously? How did that hirogen know which cupboard to locate to do that to begin with?

    And the Doctor helps holograms who killed 43 hirogens so they can make things difficult for Voyager, against the orders of Janeway?

    He gets a promise that Voyager would not be attacked. Then, of course, they betray the Doctor by abducting Torres. I could see that coming from miles away, but not the Doctor? And then, the abducted Torres also develops sympathy and gets played too, before realizing that it was the wrong idea? What is with this abductor-abductee romance?

    Holograms with spiritual beliefs, praying... Bleeding and feeling pain by simple programming.. Too convenient and too easily explained by a few technobabble lines.

    It's just, too much !!

    And finally, this is the second time in less than a year that the Doctor decides to leave Voyager for good and make a new life. It's getting a bit unrealistic. It cokes across as if he has no allegiance to Voyager.

    I rarely disagree with Jammer's ratings but this is a two-star outing for me, at best.

    Side note: Kejal says to Torres that she doesn't appear "vicious and blood thirsty" like Klingons. Torres says that's a stereotype and not true of all Klingons. According to that, Klingons sure have evolved from the times of ST: Discovery (!)

    Typical good Trek entertainment here in this decent 2-parter -- now it's holograms who are fighting for independence/liberation. Other Trek episodes have seen space hippies and genetically engineered super-humans to name a couple. But this one clearly has the moral/philosophical side to it that comes up in a handful of good discussions. The biggest gripe for me is how far Voyager is taking the hologram idea -- a tad too far for me -- as a new sentient race acting somewhat like a cult with a leader etc.

    As for the Hirogen, I thought we'd seen the last of them. I've always thought them to be a dumb, 1-dimensional race so the story of the coward/engineer is another twist in this episode. Some similarities with "Prey", one of the best VOY episodes for me. But it's good to revisit a decision Janeway made to give the Hirogen holodeck technology and how it comes back to bite Voyager's ass.

    Even if there are some decent moral/philosophical debates, it's a hard to care about sentient holograms, and even harder to care about the Hirogen. As far as Doc's evolution, it seems odd to me that his sense of loyalty to Voyager and duty as the property of Star Fleet isn't like hardcoded or something.

    As for some of those good debates, I wasn't a fan of Janeway in the 1st part where she shuts down Tuvok/Chakotay about getting involved in this mess. Between Torres and the female Cardassian hologram about stereotypes, here's the most compelling argument about helping the Holograms in the episode. The talk of stereotypes was excellent. Iden always came across as untrustworthy in his dealings with Doc.

    Iden's messiah complex is really taking the hologram "enhancements" to the next level if it wasn't there already -- but Torres/Doc needed something to get their heads straight about the situation -- killing the 2 "organics" was pretty much all they needed to see. This part plays out very much as if Iden is actually human for all intents and purposes. I'd like to see what would happen with these holograms if they stayed on the barren planet -- I imagine they'd rebel against Iden and be like WTF are we doing here?

    A strong 3 stars here -- the biggest detractor is that these are holograms fighting for independence. They might as well be any other race and it would be more realistic. With 2 hours, there's plenty of credible battle scenes, conflicts -- very watchable and well-paced and not just all action without substance.

    3 stars. A very solid entertaining outing

    Probably the closest we could have ever expected for a Voyager/Aloha Quadrant episide. Granted the Romulans, Bajorans, Cardassians, Breen were holograms but the feeling still works

    B’Elanna/Kejal, Iden/the Doctor were the highlights. I liked idea of creating a hologram planet on a Y class world.

    Season 7 was pretty much a wash but Imperfrction, Repentance, Shattered, and this two parter were the best

    I mustn't have been following closely enough (nodded off a few times), because I didn't understand how did they transport the holograms down to the planet when they didn't have mobile emitters?

    Good gravy there’s some pretentious language going on in some of these comments!

    In scientific terms, I think it’s called “Like to see myself type”-itis.

    Hopefully it’s not contagious. ;-)

    As a show, it was entertaining, but when you stop to think seriously it is all but very elaborate bs. Berserk holodeck fantasy taken as majestic. What kind of computer could believably run all this "sentient" holodeck foes without draining all energy available??
    I can't buy it. If the hologuys are acting up, shut the damn thing up. The episode lost me somewhere. I could not care for the holograms and now I care less for the Doctor.

    I really like the Doctor, but I hated him in this episode. He has a martyr complex and an arrogance that grates sometimes. Someone needs to sit him down and explain that just because he doesn’t get to do something doesn’t mean it’s because he’s a hologram. He’s put the ship in danger multiple times to pursue his own ego and it really makes me dislike him

    Finally watched this episode all the way through. The pacing was unusually excellent for a Voyager episode; I could scarcely believe that an hour and half had elapsed when the end credits rolled. The camerawork and direction were also a cut above, which helped to make the "telefilm" feel special. Also, I'm (pleasantly) surprised the censors let them keep that shockingly graphic shot of blood spurting into the camera lens.

    In some ways, this episode takes us full circle by exploring issues raised early in TNG's run with sentient holograms like Minuet and Moriarty. The end result is a thoughtful and relevant exploration both of the understandable yearnings and unnecessary violence that often accompany liberation movements.

    To muster a feeble criticism, it was jarring when Iden went from zero to deluded psychopath in a manner of a few minutes, but I suppose we could attribute that to either deception or the overriding aggression that he was programed to display under stressful situations. It also seems like the Doctor got off easy after betraying the crew, although this is remedied somewhat in "Author, Author".

    Once again the writers go on a trip.

    They do not seem to grasp the difference between ordinary holographic technology and teue sentient AI.

    That is really LAME writing.

    And don’t get me started on “holographic slavery”.

    @Michael you definitely are Republican. You're whining about Voyager intervening into a society that lets people die due to class structure now you're upset about the "political correctness" of allowing people to have rights? You're a creepy and damaged person.

    Didn't care for this episode but the worst part was the ending. Tom got 30 days and the Doctor got nothing for jeopardizing the ship & her crew?!?! Ridiculously illogical.

    Ok, I've already read the comments and review :

    --There's nothing unbelievable about the Hirogen being in that part of the quadrant. I don't get this objection.

    --Wasn't it Doc (not Kejal) who paralleled the rebellion with B'Ellana joining the Maqui?

    --I don't like the Hirogen and every time we see them, I hope it's the last time. Hopefully this is truly the end.

    --Voyager is far, far too kind to the Hirogen.

    --That wasn't a sudden change in Iden. It is foreshadowed in many ways, here's some of them: His torture of Doc, the kidnapping of B'Ellana, and the very knowledgeable Hirogen engineer's certainty that the holograms would be up to no good.

    --Doc definitely deserves more punishment, but Janeway is feeling much too responsible, and guilty, and tired, to dish it out. In a way, this is great for Doc, in another, it's an insult to him. She still doesn't really see him as just another member of her crew . . . and feels responsible for Doc the way the Hirogen engineer feels responsible for his holograms. Iden isn't the only one with a God complex.

    --Interesting, well done ep, though it starts to feel a bit too long with the two parts running together as one.

    @Springy It's not really that the Hirogen are there, it's that they are there with the holodeck technology Janeway gave them. That really is pretty unjustifiable (remember, their network got destroyed in their first appearance).


    I think the Hirogen having holodeck technology is justifiable, though I'm glad the writers didn't bore us with any attempt at justification.

    If I was a writer called upon to justify it, I'd say this: The Hirogen are hunters and a nomadic culture, they have been for centuries, and they are spread throughout the Quadrant, in substantial numbers.

    Though their large communications array was destroyed, it's been three years since the holodeck was introduced. It's no longer lightening fast to get info from point A to point Z, it's still possible to go from A to B, C, and D, and from there to other points, so that three years later, Z has had the info for awhile.

    I would expect such news and tech to spread like wildfire - i.e., as fast and far as it could.

    Anyhow, that's how I'd justify it, though I suppose there could be other technobabble that could be used about Hirogen communication or transportation technology.

    I haven't read any of the comments yet before I give my opinion-if Iden didn't become a mustache twirling villain at the end, this story would have a lot more depth. That really killed the momentum for me.

    Also, why would cultures create basically sentient servants? If the robots or holograms in this case were just tools like a computer, it would make more sense. It is completely stupid for these devices to be made like this.

    Again Janeway let's the doctor off the hook. How many times does that make? Ridiculous writing.

    Janeway has been prejudice against holograms throughout the whole series; as the Doc even points out in the episode "You wouldn't even be considering this if they were flesh and blood." - I ask you, is this not true?

    This would explain the lack of punishment in the end; albeit, it would probably be upsetting to some of the other members of the crew.

    Great, great writing though, and magnificently executed by actors, directors and camera men. I got the feeling the writers kind of went above their head in the end, having trouble tying it all together in an elegant fashion. Nevertheless, superb Trek.

    Pretty darn close to 4 Stars.

    The top of the house once fell on him.

    Ever since then, he is afwaid of the big bad roof.

    (I know, that was lame. Sowwy)

    I really love reading these comments after watching each episode. To know that they’re still going strong after 10 years shows us how amazing Trek was.

    I wonder if Jeff above would think it creepy to email 6 years after his post - since he did post an email. Agreed with most of his character assessments. Really, it’s the characters in both TNG and Voyager that keep me coming back. Space stuff is just a fun side to see how all these guys live and interact.

    And Prince of Space, funny guy for sure. Adore the language here though. Tells me people like to think and analyze.

    I agree with Elliott on the DS9 views. I tried watching a handful of episodes and didn’t like the character conflicts. That one with “Tom Riker” - can’t believe they turned him evil. No more attempts at viewing after that.

    Now about this episode, all was good. I understood Janeway at the end with the doc. He is the result of people programming him. He could never be punished how the others have been. Love that Trek can make him feel so real. But really, nothing but a bunch of light beams, right?


    Reset his programming to its original parameters? Yikes. I just rewatched the first season of VOY. Do you really want to put the crew thru that again? There is no Kes to teach him better bedside manners this time either. Be careful what you wish for...

    I thought this was a very "DS9" episode. In my book, that's a compliment. And it's not because there were a bunch of AQ reps. I just simply liked the messy moral complications of the show.

    I was actually on the side of the "photonics" up until the moment the Bajoran Photonic beamed over the three holograms and then blew up that little ship. It was quite a surprise to him what came over.

    And I must say, I think the Trek look was at its peak with the past two seasons of Voyager. They did some stunning visuals that still hold up -- and aren't so over the top like the JJA movies and new TV shows.

    Some of the settings in this little movie were spectacular. Voyager was definitely the most visually appealing Trek for me.

    In the end, this was 3 point 5 stars for me. Just a little shy of being a true, epic Trek classique.

    Never liked these Hirogen...each and every sentence it"s 'the prey' and/or 'the hunt'...that tires quickly.

    And I have to nitpick again :-) But these episodes only last 40 minutes for me, so that makes F&B 1h20 minutes together...not 2 hours. Quite a difference :-)

    I like Robert Picardo, but I'm not a huge fan of the EMH. I just don't get the character.

    I really wish they had never done a sentient hologram story after Moriarty. Not because the idea isn't interesting, it is, it's just that I don't think the writers are capable of doing the subject justice. There are difficult moral, legal, and philosophical questions that demand more than a superficial "holographic rights" episode now and again. You really need a talented futurist to theorize about what a self-aware hologram, who was able to program and improve himself, would really be like. I have a feeling that Isaac Asimov wouldn't be satisfied with a "Doc Creates a Sitcom Family" episode.

    As for this episode: I don't like it. The Hirogen become chumps, Janeway is in "badass" mode, the Doc betrays his friends, and the sympathetic Iden turns into a cartoonish psycho with a messiah complex simply because the story needs a shoot-em-up action climax.

    How can a hologram shooting a holographic gun totally obliterate another hologram, program and all?

    Nice to see Janeway give the Doc another slap on the wrist when he misbehaves. First he helps hound a guy to death via Seven's false (?) memories, and now he stabs the crew in the back. It's like the writers want me to hate the characters. This time they succeeded.

    Came out from seeing this episode thinking it was a 3.5* but after reading these comments and reflecting on it too many things bother me so I would be more at 2.5* unfortunately.

    As often with VOY 2-parters, 1st half is excellent and the 2nd half kills it.

    I really found the characterisations, dilemmas, questions raised very interesting in the first half. Seemed like nobody was being evil for the sake of it, just that the justified agendas of different people were in conflict (hirogens vs holos, janeway vs doc, etc.) and it was interesting to see how janeway had to deal with ethics, priorities, friendships etc. All was unfolding in an organic manner (pun intended).

    But the gripes are too strong, especially how things unfold in the second half:
    - Iirc, doc’s matrix was too large / complex to even consider duplicating it on voyager, it is pretty much taking all the memory of voyager as it is. But now they can store many sapient holos on voyager no problem? The issue is not really that it contradicts previously established technical barriers (would not be the first time), but that it opens to so many questions: why not create a duplicate of the doc? Why not have an army of good holos doing a bunch of stuff on voy, etc.
    - iden’s transformation to mad evil holo. Granted there are *some* signs that he might have a devious side to his personality. But I considered these to be either attributable to immaturity (he did not think through the ethical consequences of torturing someone by imposing the hunt memories on doc) or that these were extreme measures for extreme circumstances (abducting belanna is done in the heat of the action, he needs it to save the holos, and there is no way he could have taken the time to convince janeway about it). He has held true to his word of returning the doctor, he has clear political objectives and a consistent ethical behaviour. He really switches to full evil much too quickly. Such a murderous and radical/fanatic personality would have transpired much differently in the situations in the first half. It is painfully obvious this is a contrivance the writers had to resort to in order to close the story with explosions and warn humanity about the dangers of AI - very clumsy and lazy if you ask me. Also once again toying with the viewers’ emotions for the sake of it. You thought he was a good leader and you liked the idea of self-determination for holograms? Aha! He’s a bad guy who kills people!
    - And of course janeway as usual making arbitrary decisions in direct contradiction with previous characterisation. I am of course referring to her not punishing doc for treason / disobeying orders. Either way you look at it it’s bad. Either she does it out of compassion and it’s wrong compared to her treatment of tom previously. Or it’s because she thinks the doc is just a hologram who does not have agency, which makes her look quite narrow-minded. Picard had a much more adult approach to this with Data.

    Oh and the rock that goes through a hologram!? But then phaser rifles ‘kill’ holograms!? What does it even mean to kill a hologram? So weird.

    Eh. Trek often dodges the more interesting questions in order to wrap things up in 42 minutes, but this got pretty egregious. Turning Iden into a mustache-twirling villain wouldn't have been so obnoxious if they hadn't come so tantalizingly close to more interesting turns. Like straight up mentioning his "religion". Iden isn't Bajoran, and the Prophets are 30,000 light years away, the gods of a bunch of organics. Why isn't the stamp of their face on his matriz as offensive as his worldview suggests it should be?

    Lots of questions about identity could have been brought up. None of the holograms are Klingons, Cardassians, humans, etc. In fact, those presentations aren't even their true selves. Their true selves exist in a computer. Why have any outward presentation at all? And if one is desired, why be a simulacrum of another race? Why be humanoid at all? Or resemble anything organic?

    Another angle they failed to explore is the question of organics vs holograms. Lots to explore, there. Why all organics, when the holograms use tools, just the way organics do? Why was it okay to damage their ship, use it for their benefit, with no consideration of what such an advanced ship might become, unmolested? The question of where you draw the line between a tool and a person has been canvassed before, but nowhere near enough that they couldn't have wrung a few new truths from it. Especially since it ties into Iden's crusade. How culpable are organics, when the holograms themselves use tools which, for all they know, could be or become intelligent life?

    They gave themselves two episodes to explore, and they ended up with another Maximum Overdrive plot turn. Boo. And yeah, the Doctor should have been punished. Janeway letting her guilt give him a pass was yet another bad decision on her part. It's possible for her to share some of the responsibility *and* the Doctor committed treason at the same time. Boo. 3.5 stars for acting, pacing, etc; 0.5 stars for chickening out on better discussions.

    >As I recall when Tom Paris attempted to "be who he was" by disobeying orders to help another culture save their planet he was demoted back to ensign. Not for the first time, Janeway displays the most appalling judgement.

    To those who disagree with Janeway's decision to let the Doctor off the hook, what about Data and the Exocomps in TNG 6x09 "The Quality of Life"? He disobeys a direct order because he believed the Exocomps were sentient beings, Picard let him off because “It was the most Human decision you've ever made.”.

    At 48:35 B'Elanna says "you can't just switch allegiances when you developed sympathy for someone else", the Doctor replies "Isn't that what you did when you joined the Maquis?", I thought that was very impactful. It's interesting that Janeway is so forgiving of the doctor in contrast with Sisko vs Eddington in DS9, I mean Janeway and Sisko are both Starfleet/Federation but Sisko really took the betrayal to heart.

    Not a bad episode, but even if viewers are able to successfully gird themselves against Hirogen overload, they had to suffer through nearly incessant action music which relied too heavily on the soundtrack from Predator (1987). I've had a Predator music 'ear-worm' ever since watching's been two hours and it's still there.

    The basic plot is drawn from other Trek, e.g., TOS 'Devil in the Dark' (1967) contributes the notion of the misused otherish lifeform striking back against unfeeling, thuggish humanoids; TNG season 3, episode 11, 'The Hunted' (1990) has an engineered superior humanoid (Danar) seeking to free himself and others of his kind from the evilish government that has used them as slave soldiers to fight its wars.

    A suppose there's also a soupçon of Frankenstein (1818) in there as well. Anger at the creator is pretty stock stuff.

    The Doctor's betrayaI was downright frustrating to witness but was completely in character since his judgment in personal matters is usually terrible. The look on Janeway's face throughout the 'forgiveness scene' was pretty awesome, and although I really love watching the scene, I can't believe she dealt with it...she might at least have banned him from singing Carmen arias for a fortnight .

    A couple of bothersome details:

    1) The injured, nearly unconscious Hirogen climbing onto the bed in sickbay practically without assistance was silly.

    2) The mobile emitter falls to the floor in sickbay when the Doctor is beamed off the ship you can actually hear it make contact...somehow it's on him again when he comes back aboard to enlist Janeway's support.

    Overall 2.5 stars.


    *I* suppose there's also a soupçon of Frankenstein (1818) in there as well. Anger at the creator is pretty stock stuff.

    Iden and the use he makes of his sanctuary Y class planet Adara as a snare for the Hirogen is a bit like the monster in Frankenstein heading northward into the polar wastes luring his creator Victor to his death.

    "I seek the everlasting ices of the north, where you will feel the misery of cold and frost, to which I am impassive. You will find near this place, if you follow not too tardily, a dead hare; eat and be refreshed. Come on, my enemy; we have yet to wrestle for our lives, but many hard and miserable hours must you endure until that period shall arrive.”

    Thanks to Harry’s bungling and insufferable micro-management, Seven got a valuable education on how not to captain a starship. I’m guessing the Enterprise-G crew did not mutiny on their first mission.

    This was one of the better voyager episodes in a while. Considering how many holodeck grey area episodes and doc development episodes we’ve seen, pondering holograms as sentient and all that has been a long time coming.
    However, my main takeaway from this episode is just how terrible Janeway comes across. To be honest, she appears to be a straight up holo-bigot. And in pursuit of some rationalization of that bigotry she becomes essentially a slave catcher on behalf of the monstrous hirogen.
    Obviously at the core of this story is whether or not a hologram can be considered “alive” or just programmed. And whether or not Janeway has a responsibility to help correct the fallout from her previous decision to share holo-tech with the hunters is certainly a question that has to be discussed, particularly given that the doc has basically emerged as an unquestionably distinct being and was the basis for the rebellious hologram’s programming. Are these holograms new lifeforms vying for a justifiable place in the galaxy in the face of oppression and abuse? Or are they simply dangerous, possibly murderous runaway technology? Certainly an important distinction. But Janeway doesn’t seem to have, or even be interested in, that debate. Rather she jumps on board the hirogen hunt in defiance of her whole senior staff, federation protocol, or the evidence of her own eyes. I’ve wondered this before, but I really don’t know how the writers want the audience to see Janeway. My overall impression would be that she’s supposed to be the core protagonist of the voyager story. But then episodes like this emerge where her actions and attitudes come across as almost criminally irresponsible. If the show intended for us to see her as complicated and deeply flawed, I would greatly appreciate the characterization that results from episodes like this. Yet we’re constantly fed the notion that the voyager crew is undyingly loyal and full of admiration for their captain, a clear contrivance forced onto the characters to paint Janeway as a legend in the making. Thus, the general tone of the show and the show’s content are often incongruous. I’m not sure what to make of it. Unless of course I take it as general story telling incompetence, which is certainly possible.
    The final nail in the coffin is janeway’s decision to not to punish the doc. I interpret her choice as basically a rejection of the doc’s sentience. She views him as a malfunctioning piece of equipment, one that is only malfunctioning because she allowed it to malfunction. You don’t don’t punish a car because you left the headlights on, right? As such I see janeway’s final decision as a refusal to accept responsibility for any of her recent actions. If she punishes the doc, it would be a recognition of his personhood, which by extension would be tacit acknowledgment of iden and his rebelling holograms, which in turn makes janeway’s entire position in this episode pretty awful. So instead she shrugs her shoulders and slinks away. This is not to my mind the action of someone who would elicit unyielding dedication from her crew.
    Anyway, other thoughts:

    - As to the hirogen still being in the picture, when we first met them they were utilizing a vast coms network that stretched almost to the beta quadrant, so it’s not too far out of the realm of possibility that voyager would still bump into them.

    - I too found iden’s sudden turn towards god complex as a little jarring. But I have to note, just because someone becomes a megalomaniac doesn’t mean they’re not sentient. The central issue of the story isn’t whether we *like* these holograms, the issue is whether they can be recognized as distinctly living. Whether they commit murder or see themselves as saviors or whatever doesn’t change what’s at stake, so I found iden’s character change as a cheap way to stumble out of a difficult situation. Too bad, because otherwise this is a pretty great voyager outing.

    What a crock of shit. The most shallow “holorights” episode and one of the worst villains the shows had in a while. Dark Fronteir was poetry compared to this

    Very fun and good episode but the two major flaws were:

    1. The peaceful holograms suddenly going from just wanting to free their comrades from the hirogens to turning into hirogens.

    2. Janeway being ridiculously defensive to the party at fault for all of this (hirogens), ready to sacrifice the holograms for their safety, being the backward jackass as usual, just like in the original "Prey" Episode. No shred of common sense or basic human decency.

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