Star Trek: Voyager – 1×13 – “Cathexis”

Star Trek: Voyager
Originally Broadcast May 1st, 1995
Reviewed by Chakoteya

The Story

Stardate: 48734.2

‘Captain’s Log, Stardate 48734.2. Sometimes it’s a good idea to get away from being a captain for a while. To that end, I’ve started participating in a new holonovel. The setting is ancient England.’

On the holodeck, Kathryn Janeway is dressed in Victorian clothes and being shown into the drawing room of a stately home by the housekeeper Mrs Templeton. Kathryn’s character, Mrs Davenport, has been hired by Lord Burleigh to act as governess to his children, and Mrs Templeton will not brook any challenge to her authority in the household. His lordship joins them as she is taking tea, and looking at a portrait of a young woman. He introduces himself and tells her about his motherless young children, Henry and Beatrice, then warns Mrs Davenport never to go onto the fourth floor. The scene is interrupted by Ensign Kim calling to inform his Captain that long range sensors have detected Tuvok and Chakotay’s shuttle, and that it is badly damaged with many hull breaches. She orders them beamed to sickbay as soon as they are in range and leaves nineteenth century England for twenty-fourth century sickbay.

Her two senior officers are under the care of the EMH and Kes. They have both apparently received a blast of some kind of energy discharge to the head. Tuvok has a concussion, but Chakotay is pronounced brain dead although his body can be kept alive indefinately. Once awake, Tuvok explains what happened – they had completed the trade mission with the Ilidarians and were returning to the rendezvous point when they came upon a dark matter nebula. As they began to study it, a ship appeared from the nebula and, without responding to their hails, attacked them. Chakotay was unconscious immediately, and Tuvok was barely able to activate the autopilot before passing out himself. The EMH wants to know anything about the energy discharge, it’s modulation or phase distribution, and Tuvok suggests the sensor logs may have that information. If the EMH is to have a hope of reviving the Commander, he needs to know how his bio-neural energy was depleted. A view of the weapon would also help, so Janeway orders the bridge to set a course for the scene of the incident, using co-ordinates supplied by Tuvok.

On the bridge, Tuvok pronounces the shuttles sensor data erased. Janeway tells him to go over the logs with Torres once she has finished visiting Sickbay, to see if she can reconstruct any of the data. Using the long range sensors, Janeway decides that it is the perfect hiding place, screened from scanning devices by strong electromagnetic radiation. As she begins to modify the sensors, Voyager changes course to 121 mark 6, although helmsman Tom Paris denies issuing the order. The Captain orders helm control transfered to Ensign Kim’s station while Paris runs a full diagnostic on the conn station.

B’Elanna’s visit to Sickbay is to place Chakotay’s medicine wheel by his bed, and perform a healing ritual that he taught her once. She explains to the EMH that his tribe believes that when someone is in a coma or near death, it is because his soul is walking the wheel and has got lost. Stones are placed on the wheel to point the way home again. The EMH examines the placement and comments that the location of the Coyote stone would divert Chakotay’s consciousness into a very attractive location which he might not want to leave, then tells her that the wheel won’t be much help, as there’s not enough of his mind left to work with. B’Elanna places her hand on her former Captain’s shoulder and whispers to him, ‘Find your way home, Commander.’

Kes is reading in her quarters, when suddenly she is convinced that she is not alone. In the mess hall she tries to explain it to Neelix while he is cooking, who dismisses it as her telepathic senses tricking her, like an earlier event when she knew Lt Hargrove had been in sickbay even though he had left hours earlier. Kes is adamant though, that there was someone with her, although she could not say who.

On the bridge, the helm is still acting up and now Kim has been locked out of the controls by an instruction from navigational control on deck 12 section B7. Tom Paris reenters the bridge to report that he has checked all the ODN junctions in the network to no avail. Tuvok gets helm control back and the Captain contacts Torres to find out who is in navigational control. The Chief Engineer informs her that Lt Paris was there about five minutes ago and Janeway demands an explanation from her pilot. Tom denies doing anything. He passed navigational control on his was back from the Jefferies tube, but that is all and when Tuvok comments that both course changes were made from places that he was working Tom is outraged at the inference. Willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, Janeway orders Paris to sickbay to have his memory checked.

The EMH conducts a very sensitive scan of Tom Paris’ brain, while the young man reminices about his old family doctor who even made housecalls with pots of soup for sick children. Although there are still tests to run, the EMH sees nothing wrong with him and Paris suggests to Tuvok that he needs to find another suspect. Tuvok disagrees. Traces of Paris’ DNA, less than twelve hours old, were found on the console in navigational control. The Security Chief has all the evidence he needs for a conviction. The medical scans continue.

Tuvok now tells the Captain that he has found the ion trail of the hosile vessel leading into the dark matter nebula. It is an erratic trail on the display and Janeway assumes that it is because the planetoids in the nebula may be generating dangerous gravitational effects. Tuvok recommends following the exact flight path and Janeway is just giving the order when Ensign Kim reports that the warp core is shutting down.

Captain Janeway bursts into engineering and demands to know why Lt Torres has initiated an emergency warp core shutdown, crashed the main computer and locked out the bridge. B’Elanna does not know what her Captain is talking about, but it is too late to stop it. It will take two hours to regenerate the dilithium matrix, and everyone is baffled by what is happening on board the ship.

The EMH informs the Captain, Tuvok and his putative patients, Tom Paris and B’Elanna Torres, of the latest test results. According to his memory engrams, Tom’s mind was taken over by another one at the precise moments of the course changes. Torres has the same disruption at the time when she shut down warp power. The only possible conclusion is that an unknown alien entity took control of their minds to prevent Voyager returning to the dark matter nebula. Tuvok orders an intruder alert and as a safety precaution, and Janeway transfers the command codes to the EMH. The alien has only affected people so far, not computer systems directly, so if any senior staff are believed to be under the influence of the alien, the EMH would be able to countermand their orders. Out in the corridor, Kes tells Janeway and Tuvok that she also believes there is another presence on the ship, but she cannot tell where. Tuvok offers to mind meld with Kes in order to help her focus her abilities and perhaps locate it. Kes agrees and the pair walk off together.

Kim and Durst are working to seal off the critical areas of the ship, but as Durst points out, if the alien is non-corporeal, it can probably move through bulkheads anyway. At the turbolift, the doors open to reveal Tuvok and Kes, both unconscious.

‘Captain’s log, supplemental. It appears that Mr. Tuvok and Kes were both hit by an unidentified energy discharge. Tuvok was not badly hurt, but Kes is in a coma.’

The remaining senior officers are in the briefing room discussing ways of finding the alien. The discharge that hit Tuvok and Kes was not detected by the internal sensors and they need something more sensitive. Paris suggests a magneton scanner, and Torres believes a flash-scan of the entire ship at once might illuminate the energy. She asks Harry Kim for his opinion but when he doesn’t reply immediately, everyone leaps to their feet, worried. He explains that his preoccupation was because his mind had wandered to an old study he had once read about scanners, and they accept that he wasn’t occupied by the alien at that time. Janeway is concerned at their reaction to Harry’s preoccupation, and worries that paranoia will break out soon.

The paranoia has already started. Neelix is suspicious of Ensign Parsons because he didn’t have his usual drink today. The EMH is scathing of Neelix’s fears. He reassures him that Kes has no permanent injury and that he will be told when she is awake again. Neelix leaves and Tuvok arrives to reconfigure the sensor relays. The EMH tells him that Kes’ injuries are unlike Chakotays. Her bio-neural energy is intact and she has bruises on her neck and shoulders, around the trapezius nerve bundle and damaging the nerve fibres themselves.

The Captain is in her ready room when Tuvok comes to inform her that they will be ready to initiate the magneton scan in about two hours, and that it will cause dizziness in everyone for several seconds, including himself. He also tells her of the EMH’s discovery that Kes was physically assaulted. Janeway suggests that Tuvok should undergo a scan to see if he was inhabited by the alien at that moment, and tries to contact sickbay. When there is no reply, she orders the computer to activate the EMH. The machine tells her that the EMH programme has been disabled by an unknown person. Janeway discovers that the initialisation routine has been locked out and encrypted, and realises that this means the command codes have been returned to her. Deciding that the alien cannot inhabit two minds at the same time, she divides her codes between herself and Tuvok, and they go to the bridge to inform the rest of the senior staff. While she is explaining the situation she stops and then suddenly hits Tuvok. Tuvok orders her to be stunned as the alien has taken her over but various other crew members try to protect her before she is rendered unconcious.

Tom Paris treats the Captain in sickbay, and Harry Kim tells her that he has to get through at least six levels on encryption to get the EMH back. It might take up to three hours. Designating Paris as the temporary medic, Janeway answers Torres request to go to engineering and sends Harry back to the bridge.

Torres has been examining the shuttle sensor logs, and has found something disturbing. They were delibately erased after an energy discharge from the nebula itself hit the shuttle. There was no other ship, and Tuvok must have been lying about the attack. Perhaps he was under the alien’s influence? With just twenty minutes before they can do the magneton flash-scan, they arrive at the dark matter nebula.

On the bridge, Captain Janeway asks Tuvok to locate the ion train of his alien ship, and he does so. Tom Paris reports that he has finished the EMH’s analysis of Kes’s injury and believes it was caused by a Vulcan neck pinch. Tuvok denies any memory of the event, but Janeway wonders why the alien has possessed him three times so far. Then she turns her attention to the ion trail he has found. According to the readings, it is a ship without engines and she orders Harry Kim to reverse course. Tuvok immediately accuses his Captain of being occupied by the alien mind again, as all along it has been trying to stop them entering the nebula. Harry refuses the order, and Tuvok draws a phaser and informs them that it is on wide beam dispersal and set to kill. Taking over the controls and holding the crew at gunpoint, Tuvok ensures that Voyager enters the nebula.

Once inside, Harry’s sensors pick up energy life forms coming towards them. Tuvok tells them that they are the Komar and this is where they live. Suddenly Durst reports that the warp core has been ejected. Down in engineering, Torres is failing to explain her actions. Tom and Harry are confused, unless there are two aliens, how could it be controlling Tuvok and Torres at the same time. Then Janeway gets an inspiration. Torres isn’t senior enough to eject the warp core on her own, so she asks the computer who authorised it. Back comes the surprising answer – Commander Chakotay. With his neural energy displaced, he has been going from person to person to try and stop Voyager going into the nebula. Tuvok gets the thrusters working and takes the ship deeper into the nebula. He informs them that they will provide his people with sustainance for many years. As Tuvok is distracted by a sudden Komar attack, Janeway ducks under the bridge rail and triggers the magneton flash-scan. Tuvok is disoriented by the bright light, Paris disarms him and the alien leaves Tuvok and the ship. Back at the helm, Tom Paris tries to reverse along Tuvok’s course but he is not sure that they are going the right way. Kim attempts to reconstruct the navigational logs but Tuvok had been deleting them as he went along.

Neelix is in sickbay, standing by the medicine wheel. He contacts the bridge to tell them that he thinks he has just been taken over and rearranged the stones. They put an image of it on the main screen and try to work out what Chakotay is telling them. Paris realises that it is a map, with the stones representing the three planetoids in the nebula. They plot a course and clear the nebula just as the aliens begin to get through the hull. Once in normal space, they are left alone.

‘Captain’s log, Stardate 48735.9. We have returned to the coordinates where we ejected the warp core and have successfully retrieved it. Now we’re hoping the doctor will be able to successfully reintegrate Commander Chakotay’s consciousness.’

In Sickbay, Kes is awake again, and Chakotay’s body and mind have been reunited by the EMH who explains it as involving ‘three neural transceivers, two cortical stimulators and 50 gigaquads of computer memory. I would be happy to take you through the process, but it would take at least ten hours to explain it all to you. Needless to say, it was a remarkable procedure. I would consider writing a paper about it if there were a convenient forum in which to publish it.’ The Commander gives a brief discription of his out of body experience and apologises to Tuvok for knocking him around. Captain Janeway welcomes him back, although he feels like he never left.


It seems that brain death is no longer a fatal condition in the twenty-fourth century. Or perhaps that was just an unfortunate choice of phrase from the author of this screenplay, Mr Braga. Leaving aside the mechanics of being disembodied and reunited again, this is one of those stories that reads better than it views. On screen you are given fuzzy shots of ‘something invisible’ travelling around the ship, unseen by the crew. Necessary clues as to what is going on, no doubt, but it does detract a little from the final revelation.

Janeway’s choice of gothic romantic fiction for her recreation seems a little surprising at first sight, but not so much on reflection. If Harry can imagine himself as Beowulf, why not Kathryn as a Victorian governess?

As Trek ‘alien possession’ mystery stories go, this one is not bad in itself, although Mr Braga has done better in his Next Generation scripts. But the medico-technobabble doesn’t really work for this reviewer, and in the end, not even the sight of Chakotay’s naked shoulders can drag this one up above average.

Grade: 5/10

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