Star Trek: Voyager – 2×03 – “Projections”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Projections”
Originally Broadcast November 9th, 1995
Reviewed by Christina Luckings

The Story

Stardate: 48892.1

The EMH programme is activated in Sickbay, but there is no one there. The computer informs him that he was automatically activated when a red alert was initiated, but there is now no one on board. Interrogating it further, he discovers that Voyager is in dire straits. The warp core and most systems are offline. There are breaches on three decks and the ship is running on emergency power and auxiliary systems only. Going into his office, he gets access to the final bridge log and watches a recording of Captain Janeway stating that there have been heavy casualties, the warp core is going critical and that all personnel have been ordered to abandon ship. The escape pods were launched at 2100 hours. He has been left alone, and no one bothered to say goodbye.

‘Chief medical officers log, Stardate 48892.1. It appears that Voyager has suffered a disaster. What kind I don’t know, but one thing is clear. The crew was forced to abandon ship. It would therefore seem that my usefulness has come to an end. I am terminating my programme. If anyone finds this log, I can be re-activated by …’

He is interrupted by the sound of the main door into sickbay being forced open. Alarmed at this turn of events, he picks up a hypospray and stands by the door, ready to incapacitate whoever it is who is trying to get in. It is B’Elanna Torres, and her left shoulder is injured. He leads her to a biobed and treats her while she explains to him about the Kazon attack. Two warships hit them with torpedoes. Captain Janeway and she managed to stop the core breach at the last second, but the Kazon tractored the escape pods onto their ships and left with the crew as their prisoners. The EMH’s attention is diverted to a malfunctioning tricorder, and he tries another one, but still cannot get any readings from it. Torres tells him that he has to go and help the Captain, who is injured on the bridge. The transporters are down so he will have to go to her. He protests that it is not possible and the Chief Engineer reveals that that for the past few weeks they have been setting up remote holo-projectors on the first five decks, engineering, the mess hall and the cargo bay for just such a situation. They didn’t tell him about it in case it turned out not to work. The EMH curtly informs her that he would rather know about such things in future. Her shoulder healed, Torres goes to a control panel and begins to set up the transfer. It will require a lot of energy, so life support is reduced to minimum on the lower decks and she begins work. Twenty minutes later all is ready for his first house call. Before she sends him to the bridge, she warns him to stay away from energy discharges, phaser fire, forcefields and the like, otherwise his containment field will collapse and it will take hours to re-initialise him. If this works, she’ll go down to engineering. If it doesn’t, she’ll see him back in sickbay in five seconds.

The EMH finds himself on a very wrecked bridge, which is bigger than he thought. He goes and gets the emergency medical kit from behind the tactical console then finds Captain Janeway lying under a fallen girder. The tricorder and hypospray from the kit do not work however, but he helps her to sit up and asks for her symptoms. From the dizziness and nausea he concludes she has a concussion and wants to get her to sickbay. Torres calls from Engineering, which she has got to very quickly without any turbolifts, and announces that communications are back on line. Her next priority is the warp core. Janeway tells her to carry on and then asks the EMH to help her bypass the burnt out circuits of a power relay in order to get ships sensors online. As she is explaining it in coronary bypass terms Neelix calls over the comm system. He is in the mess hall and needs help. Janeway says that it will take her half an hour to get there without the turbolifts, and decides that she will use the remote projectors to send the EMH to his assistance instead.

In the messhall, the EMH discovers Neelix bobbing up and down behind the kitchen counter, throwing pans and food at a Kazon with a weapon whilst taunting him with insults. He ducks behind chair for self preservation and peeks out to locate the besieged Kazon by a window. As Neelix continues his verbal and physical assault, the EMH gets down on his hand and knees and begins crawling around the room. Just before he reaches the Kazon, Neelix comes out from the kitchen. The Kazon fires his energy weapon but misses the ducking Talaxian. Neelix taunts him some more then ducks back into the kitchen again. As the EMH launches into a tackle on the Kazon, Neelix dashes out again and clubs him with his best saute pan. With the enemy now ‘hors de combat’ the EMH notices a red stain on Neelix’s right shoulder and points it out to him, making the ship’s chef panic that he is mortally wounded and going to die. On closer examination however, it turns out to be tomato paste which is not terminal but will leave a nasty stain on his clothes. Neelix explains that he and Kes were on their way to an escape pod when the Kazon came out of an access hatch. He distracted him so that Kes could get to safety, luring him into the mess hall. Then Neelix notices that the EMH appears to be bleeding. The doctor touches his neck, sees blood on his hand and promptly sits down. He is not programmed to bleed, he protests, and then contacts the Captain to report on the situation. She orders Neelix to keep an eye on the unconcious Kazon until she gets there, and agrees to return the EMH to sickbay.

Back on home territory, the EMH applies a pad to back of his neck and winces. He is not programmed to feel pain either, but there it is. He picks up one of the malfunctioning tricorders and notices that it is registering heart rate, blood pressure and brain patterns when he scans himself. Baffled, he tries to interrogate the computer about recent changes to the EMH programme, but it resolutely denies that any such programme exists on the ship. EMH programme AK1 diagnostic and surgical subroutine omega three-two-three is not in its database. Trying a different tack, he then asks it who the Chief Medical Officer of USS Voyager is. Doctor Louis Zimmerman, comes the answer. He commenced duty on 48308.2, the date the EMH was activated. Calling up the computer records of the ships CMO, the EMH gazes at a picture of himself in a gold-shouldered uniform. ‘Computer, is this me?’ He asks.’Affirmative. Doctor Louis Zimmerman’ comes the reply.

Janeway, Neelix, Torres and the Kazon prisoner march into sickbay. The warp core is almost back on line, the Captain tells him, and she wants him to perform an Autonomic Response Assessment when they question their prisoner. EMH isn’t paying too much attention to that. Instead he scans Captain Janeway with a tricorder, and tells her that although it isn’t registering her life signs, it is registering his. He also informs her of the computer records and the lack of an EMH programme on file. She theorises that the multiple projectors scattered around the ship might be confusing the computer and suggests deactivating him and re-initialising. But when she gives the order, nothing happens. She tries to access the programme directory on a panel and finds no record of it. Then she orders the shutdown of all holographic systems throughout the ship – and all four people disappear, leaving EMH alone in sickbay. Once again he turns to the computer for explanations. The Captain and the holographic simulations were discontinued, it tells him. Captain Janeway is stored in memory block forty-seven alpha, along with the rest of the Voyager crew. The EMH cannot believe it.

Then suddenly the EMH is no longer alone. Another man is there, asking if he can see him, and introduces himself as Lt Reg Barclay, the Doctor’s assistant. When the EMH curtly informs him that his assistant’s name is Kes, he begins pacing back and forth, muttering that this is very bad. When the EMH asks Reg if he is a member of the Voyager crew, he informs him that he is on the holodeck at the Jupiter Station, and that the programme he has been running is malfunctioning. They go into the office to argue. Barclay maintains that Voyager is a programme that Zimmerman wrote to study the psychological impact of long term isolation on a crew of Starfleet and Maquis people, whilst the EMH insists that Voyager is real and that he himself is the hologram. After all, he has clear memories of the six months since he was activated. Oh, no, replies Barclay, you’ve been here for six hours, but we cannot shut down the programme because there has been a kino-plasmic radiation surge on the station which has disrupted the computer systems and must also be affecting the memory portions of his brain. He, Barclay, is being projected from a control booth outside the holodeck and he is concerned that the Doctor is developing HTDS – Holo Transference Dementia Syndrome. Or perhaps it is the radiation. They leave the office and Barclay turns and slaps the EMH across the face. It hurts and the EMH hits him in return. But it doesn’t convince the EMH that he is a real person, and Barclay disappears to consult with some other people. While he is gone, the EMH returns to his office, wondering why he would feel pain, and realises that he is hungry too.

Barclay returns with the bad news that Doctor Kaplin, the neurologist, say that they need to get him out of the holodeck within an hour or the radiation will completley oxidise his neuro-cellular structures. The radiation is interfering with the transporters, so they cannot beam him out. That just leaves playing the programme out to its end and letting it end naturally. The conclusions that Doctor Zimmerman programmed were that either Voyager gets back to Federation space or it gets destroyed. They don’t have the time to let it run for the weeks it was designed to run, so the EMH will have to take matters into his own hands and blow up Voyager himself, or die. This is too much for the EMH. He insists that Barclay could be an alien trying to trick him into destroying Voyager and he will do nothing without proof. A tricorder that shows a wall with a holodeck grid on it fifteen metres away could be a deception. Barclay has an idea, and disappears again.

Sickbay changes slightly, there are more people present, the ship is at red alert. Ensign Kim asks if he is the Emergency Medical Hologram and shows him an injured blond man lying on a biobed. The EMH recognises the patient and the scenario. Kim hands over a Medical Tricorder as the EMH asks if they have just been catapulted into the Delta Quadrant, and says that Kim is developing tumerous growths on his chest. Kim’s startled reaction leads him to conclude that that hasn’t yet and instead of treating the patient, to the annoyance of Tom Paris, he calls for Barclay to return. He does reappear, while Kim tries to reset the EMH programme and Paris demands to know who Barclay is. Barclay tells the EMH that he modelled Paris after his cousin Frank, and the EMH takes great delight in deleting him, and then Kim. He is beginning to believe that Reg is telling him the truth. This is a re-run of his first day on Voyager, which he already has memories of. However, he is still not one hundred percent convinced, and suggests that rather than destroy Voyager immediately, he should first destroy the holographic memory core. If he is a hologram he will disappear. If he is a real person he will not. At the door he hesitates. The remote projectors are offline, he shouldn’tbe able to exist outside sickbay. He walks into the corridor and stops, and checks that he is still solid. The red alert is still sounding as the pair set off towards Engineering where the holographic memory core is located.

In main engineering, Captain Janeway is directing repairs when the two men walk in. She challenges them and the doctor says that he is the Emergency Medical Hologram. She orders him to tend to three wounded crewmen but he refuses. The Captain persists and when an instruction to the computer to delete her has no results, she orders the pair put under arrest. Jarvis and Parsons draw their phasers and the EMH tells Barclay that he was injured earlier, from which Reg concludes that the holodeck safeties are off and they need to be careful. The EMH replies to Janeway’s questions by telling her about the nature of the Caretaker, delaying things until the moment when the array scanned Voyager and took the crew for medical probing.

Now that it is just Barclay and the EMH in engineering, they are free to do what they came there to do – destroy the holographic imaging system and then, if the EMH is convinced that he is a real person, Voyager itself. The EMH pulls a panel off the wall and Barclay hands him a phaser. He fires at the circuits then asks the computer if there are any holographic programmes running on the ship. Negative is the answer. Then why is the ship still here, the EMH wails. That’s because he has just destroyed the holographic system of a holographic ship, Barclay explains. The EMH begins to accept what Reg has been telling him. That he is a real person after all, but some doubts linger until pain wracks his head. The radiation is flooding his brain and killing him. He sets the phaser for a sustained burst at maximum power to get through the outer duranium shielding of the warp core in order to destroy it. He takes aim, and

Chakotay appears in the doorway to engineering, telling him to stop. The Commander explains that this is a simulation, but not the one the EMH thinks it is. The Captain had suggested that he should take a day off and try a holo-novel. But while he was running the holo-novel there was a kenoplasmic radiation surge in the imaging system. It created a feedback loop between the holodeck computer and the programme. All of this, including Mr Barclay, is a holographic simulation generated by his codes, subroutines and memory circuits. Barclay dismisses Chakotay as another hologram and insists that the EMH destroy the core. The EMH has begun to doubt again, as all the Voyager characters should be on the array for three days. Chakotay tells the EMH that he is being projected from the holographic control station in engineering, just as Barclay had explained his presence earlier. The EMH’s lack of any memory of the holo-novel is put down to the feedback loop wiping his memory circuits. Do nothing, Chakotay tells him. Destroy this programme and because it is being created from his own memories, he will be destroyed with it.

The trio are joined by Kes, who takes Barclay’s side in the argument. She tells the EMH that he is her husband and that she does not want to loose him. How would he rather think of himself, asks Barclay. As a real person with a loving family, or a hologram on a starship lost in space? Chakotay counters this by saying it isn’t about what he wants but what he is, and being a hologram doesn’t make him anyless real. His is their friend and they want him back. The EMH collapses with the pain and Kes cradles his head in her lap. She kisses him and tells him that she loves him.

Meeting her eyes, he tells her that she is beautiful. Kes thanks him and he realises that he is lying on a biobed in sickbay. The EMH sits up to see that Kim and Tuvok there, and Kes is wearing different clothes. Harry explains that Chakotay transferred him back to sickbay as they finally managed to shut down the holodeck. Reg Barclay was on the original team that designed the EMH. He had been in charge of testing his interpersonal skills. Feeling fine again, the EMH decides to resume the cataloging he had begun that morning. Kes pursues his comment about his thinking she is beautiful and when he qualifies it, saying that he considers her very attractive in a platonic sense, she becomes upset and says that their marriage must really be over, although she does believe that they can solve their problems. She puts her arms around his neck, hanging on to him, as Barclay returns to exhort the distraught EMH to save himself by destroying Voyager. The EMH breaks free of Kes’s embrace and storms out of sickbay, only to turn back when he encounters armed Kazon in the hallway. Returning to sickbay, Tom Paris pushes him to a biobed where he is looking at himself wearing a gold uniform and speaking with Captain Janeway’s voice, telling him to calm down.

There is a hand on his shoulder. He turns around to see Captain Janeway and an empty holodeck grid. She asks him if he knows who and what he is. When he replies that he is the Emergency Medical Holographic programme and that everything he just experienced took place on the holodeck, she knows that he is all right. Chakotay confirms that a sub-space anomoly caused a radiation surge in the computer system, and is intrigued when the EMH asks if Kes really his is assistant and not his wife. The Captain is glad to have him back, and transfers him home to Sickbay.

The EMH is sitting at his office console discussing his experience with Kes. She asks him not to tell Neelix that he had been under the delusion that they were married. The Talaxian tends to get jealous. The EMH is more intrigued by the way his programme focused on the question of the nature of his existance. Kes replies that that everybody asks those kind of questions from time to time, don’t they? Who am I? What am I doing here? What’s my purpose in life? Not me, replied the EMH. I know exactly who I am and what my purpose is. Are you sure, Kes asks teasingly as she leaves. After a few minutes, the EMH gets up and goes to door. He checks that corridor is empty and then sticks arm out of sickbay. It vanishes as it leaves the holographic environment. He pulls it back in and it reappears. Satisfied, he nods and returns to work.

Review

Phew, what a rollercoaster episode, especially towards the end. At the start it all seems innocuous enough, but there are a few verbal clues that all is not as it seems, and the EMH’s sad lack of knowledge of Voyager’s layout is highlighted. Half an hour to get from the bridge on deck 1 to the mess hall on deck 2 directly underneath, and then no time at all from there to Engineering? I don’t think so. The consistency of the explanations adds nicely to the confusion. Who is really telling the truth? What is truely going on? The subtle effects as the EMH moves from one version to another are very well done and keep the viewer interested. For a holodeck jeopardy story, this unique twist in needing to keep one of the holocharacters intact sets it well above the rest.

Grade: 7/10

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