Star Trek: Voyager – 2×08 – “Persistence of Vision”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Persistence of Vision”
Originally Broadcast October 30th, 1995
Reviewed by Christina Luckings

The Story

Stardate: Unknown

Captain Janeway is a woman with many demands on her time. Just walking down the corridor to engineering she gets a comm.message from Lt. Paris wanting to discuss the proposed route through Botha space, and accosted by Neelix in person wanting to know when she will be wanting to talk to him about the Botha. Once in engineering, Torres and Kim update her on the progress of giving the EMH access to more parts of the ship. They are setting up holo-emitters on the bridge and in engineering so that he can be transferred there in the same as he can currently be transferred to the holodeck, although he will be limited to the area of the holo-emitter. If he tries to move beyond it he will dematerialise. They begin the test to bring the EMH to engineering and it is mostly successful, except that the hologram is only a few inches tall. Torres suggests that is it a problem with the imaging interface. A small oversight, no pun intended, says Kim, who tells the Captain that it will take a couple of hours to correct. Janeway gets a little annoyed and points out that she cannot drop everything and come down here every time he calls. She has a lot to do to get ready to meet a new alien species. Then Tuvok calls to ask for half an hour of her time to review security procedures. The EMH is still watching all this and asks the Captain to come down to his level to speak to him. It emerges that she last took shore leave was about two months ago, and that it has been a while since she did anything pleasurable. In his capacity as Chief Medical Officer, the EMH orders the Captain to report to the holodeck and run her holo-novel immediately. This is probably the first time a hologram has ever given a Captain an order, and she obeys.

Kathryn gets gowned and corseted for her role as Mrs Lucy Davenport in her quarters and gazes at the picture of herself, Mark and her setter, Molly before setting off for Victorian England. Lord Burleigh is waiting for the governess and when she arrives he takes her in his arms and kisses her passionately before declaring that he has fallen in love with her. Then they are joined by the children and the housekeeper, Mrs Templeton, with Henry asking for cucumber sandwiches. Kathryn tells his lordship how well the children are doing in their studies, with Henry being very good at mathematics and Beatrice having a talent for music. This surprises everyone and Beatrice denies playing a Mozart sonata. When Kathryn persists Beatrice drops her teacup and becomes very upset, as it was her mother’s cup. Lord Burleigh tells Mrs Templeton to take the children to the nursery but tells ‘Lucy’ to stay with him. She protests that she should be with Beatrice but he insists, and when she quizzes him about the music, and the forbidden fourth floor, he tells her not to pursue it. Then the moment is interrupted by Chakotay calling from the bridge to tell her that a representative of the Bothan government wants to talk to her.

Back in uniform, she walks onto the bridge to be greeted by Neelix who is concerned that they did not have their talk that morning. He has been gathering information from fellow traders that he knows, and they have told him stories about ships entering Bothan space and never leaving. Some say that they have no real claim on this area of space, but guard their privacy carefully, and diplomacy will probably be ineffective. Tuvok puts the shadowy image of the Bothan representative on the main screen. He curtly informs the Captain that they are in Bothan space, and that one of their ships will rendezvous with Voyager. If they meet the criteria, they might be allowed to continue their journey. However, he will not tell them what the criteria actually are and the communication ends. Neelix asks the Captain when she last had something to eat. She thinks about it then says that she had some soup last night. Neelix suggests they have their meeting about the Botha in the mess hall over lunch. With all her senior staff staring at her, she gives in and agrees.

In the mess hall there are a range of buffet dishes ranges along the serving counter. A pate, something soaked in brine, devilled ‘throk’ and a plate of cucumber sandwiches. Curious at the co-incidence between this and her holo-novel, Janeway asks where they came from. Neelix tells her that Lt. Hargrove asked for the dish. The co-incidences increase when Neelix pours her a cup of tea, into a blue patterned china cup with saucer just like the one Beatrice dropped and broke. He thinks he found several of them in storage and comment on how unusual it is.

After lunch, Captain Janeway is walking down the corridor when she hears a man’s voice saying that he has fallen in love with her. She turns to see Ayala entering the turbolift. Then the small figure of Beatrice runs around a corner ahead. Janeway chases after her and is confronted by the child who insists that her mother is still alive and that her father loves her, not Kathryn. The Captain stares then covers her face with her hands. When she takes them away again, the girl has vanished.

Assuming there must be a holodeck malfunction associated with Torres and Kim’s attempts to enable to get the EMH to make house calls, Janeway resumes her holo-novel where it left off. Lord Burleigh continues his declaration of love for Mrs Davenport until Kathryn deletes the character. Torres reports that she cannot find any problems. Undeterred, the Captain tells her to try it again while she heads off to the mess hall to interrogate Neelix about the lunch dishes. When she mentions the cucumber sandwiches he is bemused. They were actually fried mert-cakes and she did eat one. She asks about the cup he served her tea in, and he hands her a plain cup with a silver rim and handle, no flowers on it. If she wants a cup with flowers on it, he can always replicate one for her, he tells his worried Captain. Janeway turns down his offer. He has told her everything she needs to know.

Captain Janeway reports to sickbay for an examination. The EMH does not find any thing physically wrong with her, but wants to scan for air-borne bacteria and viruses, and consider that there may be an alien intruder on board. When he suggests running a cerebro-cortical scan, Kes shudders and gasps, saying she was suddenly cold and shivery. As if some one walked over her grave, comments Janeway. An old earth saying, she explains, used to describe that sort of feeling. The EMH has no knowledge of this saying. His programmers didn’t clutter him up with trivia. As Kes goes to fetch a scanner from the lab, Beatrice reappears to Janeway, telling her that her mother’s grave is empty. The EMH cannot see anyone else in the room, but Kes does. She feels something hit her and bounce off, then the image of the child rushes into Janeway. Although she has been doing exercises with Tuvok to develop her telepathic talents, they have done nothing like this. The EMH orders Captain Janeway back to her quarters to rest until he can determine the cause of her hallucinations.

Back in her private quarters Kathryn treats herself to a bowl of coffee ice cream. But she has only taken one spoonful when she hears a noise in her bedroom. She gets up to investigate and then a man’s voice says ‘Kath, are you there?’ The computer tells her that she is alone in her quarters, and a look into the other room confirms it. Yet she hears the voice –Mark’s voice – again, and a dog barking. Mark wants to know when she is coming back. He says that he misses her, although he doesn’t think she misses him. The voice of her fiancé accuses her of having someone else in her thoughts now. Kathryn goes to the door but it does not open automatically. She instructs the computer and the door opens to reveal the holographic housekeeper with a long sharp knife in her hand. Mrs Templeton accuses Kathryn of bringing more trouble to the house and attacks her. The two women struggle, falling to the floor, while Kathryn calls for security to come to her quarters. She calls for Tuvok and suddenly she is in sickbay, with Tuvok holding her hands and the EMH asking Kes if she can still see the hallucination. Kes says that the woman with the knife is going into the Captain just as before. Tuvok tells Janeway that she is all right and the vision ends.

Captain Janeway briefs Commander Chakotay on everything she thinks he needs to be aware of – Neelix’s information about the Botha, the project to get the EMH out of sickbay, a problem with a deflector shield, a review of a report from Stellar Cartography, Tuvok wanting to discuss weapons storage… Her first officer interrupts to reassure her that her crew are well trained, and that they can cope for a few days without her. He also promises that they will do everything they can to find out what is happening to her. The EMH then orders him out as he wants to run some further tests. Kes tells Kathryn that she feels something strange is happening on the ship, and it is not just happening to her.

On the bridge, sensors detect an unknown ship coming towards them very quickly. The image of the shadowy figure once again graces the viewscreen, demanding to speak with Captain Janeway. Commander Chakotay assures the alien that he can speak in her place, and repeats their original request for passage through Bothan space. The figure demands details of their weapon systems, suggesting that they could be hostile invaders. Chakotay doesn’t know how to prove that they are not and says so, when the link is lost. Tuvok has cut communications because he is concerned about two strange readings which Kim has also detected either side of Voyager. The Commander orders Paris to reverse course and two ships de-cloak, powering their weapons. Paris makes some evasive manoeuvres but Voyager is hit and damaged. Their phasers do not get through the alien shields.

As the ship judders to the impact of weapons fire, Janeway decides that she cannot stay in sickbay. Over the EMH’s protests she leaves while on the bridge Kim discovers that the two attacking ships are automated. They continue to suffer damage while Paris attempts to fly them out of the trap. With damage on all decks and reports of injuries coming in, Chakotay orders ‘all stop’ and the Bothan re-appears on the screen saying that he will accept their surrender. Captain Janeway strides onto the bridge to tell him that he is not getting one. Then she stares at the screen in horror as the figure steps forward and announces himself to be Mark, her fiancé. Knowing that this must be another hallucination, Janeway asks Paris who he can see on the screen. Tom tells her that it is his father. Harry says that he can see Libby, and the Captain orders him to turn off the screen. He tries to do so, while she tells Tuvok to scan for weaknesses in the other ship’s defences and arm photons. However, Tuvok is having a conversation with his wife T’Pel and despite his best efforts ends up believing that he is back home on Vulcan. Kim takes over doing the scan, and Torres reports that members of her engineering team are becoming delusional because of an energy field being put out by the ships. It’s properties are such that it affects the mind. It might be possible to adjust the shields to block it but meanwhile Torres plans to set up a resonance warp pulse. Janeway suggests that she contacts the EMH to see if he has any suggestions and orders Chakotay to engineering to assist down there. Then she sends Neelix off the bridge telling him that now is the time the crew really need a morale officer. The figure on the screen tries to get Kathryn’s attention, but the Captain continues to give out orders. Kim is to rotate the shield frequencies but when she looks at her young Ops officer, she realises that he is lost in another world. So she contacts Kes and asks her to come to the bridge, then checks that her helm officer is still with her. He is, running the scans on the ships. The sight of his ever-critical father on the viewscreen is not a tempting prospect for him.

Chakotay arrives in engineering to see how B’Elanna is doing with the resonance burst. She tells him that she detected an interruption in the field just a short time ago and he tries to contact Janeway to find out if the alien has come on board. There is no response from the bridge. Faced with the prospect of being the last people on board who have not lapsed into a catatonic state, Chakotay suggests taking an escape pod and heading back to an M class planet they passed yesterday. The journey would only take a week and they could come back with help. Torres is shocked at the idea and returns to setting up the burst. He tries ordering her, then takes hold of her, saying that he wants her with him. As he leans in to kiss her, she realises that this isn’t the real Chakotay at all, but her fantasy version of the Commander. A fantasy version who is in love with her. She succumbs to the illusion.

On the bridge, Tom finally gets caught in the spell of the viewscreen and Janeway attempts to contact engineering, but gets no reply. She tells the computer to lock out the bridge controls and heads into the turbo lift where she discovers an immobile Chakotay. Then Mark is in the lift with her. He tries to kiss her neck, but she pushes him away saying that she doesn’t know who or what he is and that she will not let him touch her. He counters by saying that she didn’t mind the man on the holodeck touching her, in fact she rather liked it. Was that being fair to him? He has vowed to stay faithful and wait for her no matter how long it takes her to get home. Shouldn’t she do the same? Finally she turns to look Mark in the eyes and tell him that she hasn’t been unfaithful, and they kiss. Captain Janeway is lost in her fantasy as the turbolift doors open on deck eleven.

The EMH is trying to make contact with someone, anyone, on Voyager. He turns to Kes to tell her that either the comm. system is malfunctioning or everyone is having a delusion except for them. They are the only ones left to save the ship. He sends Kes down to engineering to finish Torres’ work on the resonance burst while he accesses the computer in his office to find out how to do it. On her way she encounters a badly burnt Tom Paris who tries to get her to take him to sickbay. She realises that he is an illusion created to try and stop her getting to engineering and continues on her way. Once in engineering Kes gets the EMH on a monitor and together they work out how to enter the formula to create the warp field they need for the burst. While the EMH is looking something up in the database, Neelix bursts into engineering, claiming that he hadn’t heard the hails because Ashmore was trying to kill him with a carving knife at the time. Kes isn’t sure that it really is Neelix, and when he insists that they take his shuttle and leave Voyager she knows that he is not. The EMH talks her through how to input an equation and as she is putting in a core temperature of three million Kelvins she sees her hand ooze white foam, Screaming in pain she backs away from the console while the EMH tells her to remember being a mirror and send the illusion away. The image of Neelix shuts off the monitor and begins to taunt the agonised young woman. His strategy backfires on him as she sends the pain into him and he breaks out in white foamy flecks instead, collapsing onto the floor where he passes out and morphs into an alien with a very down-turned mouth. Everything is set, and Kes activates the warp field. A bright light is seen coming out of Voyager and engulfing the nearby ships which then disappear.

On board the crew begin to wake from their dreams. Kes calls the Captain down to engineering. The alien wakes up and Torres points a phaser at him He tells Kes that she is powerful, that she surprised him. Captain Janeway arrives to ask why he did this to them. Because he can, is the reply. How does he do it, she wants to know. Telepathy? Technology? It matters to her to know because she wants to stop him doing this to anyone else, by destroying his technology or adjusting his brain, and then either handing him over to a local world or keeping him in the brig. Much as he would like to help her, he says, he is not really there, and promptly vanishes.

“Captain’s Log, supplemental. We have no explanation for the mysterious disappearance of the telepathic alien. We can’t even be certain that he was actually here. He seems to have left us with any number of unanswered questions.”

Torres meets Janeway in the mess hall, and asks if this isn’t her usual day for holo-novel. After their recent experience, Kathryn has decided to stay away from fantasy for a while. B’Elanna confesses that the alien made her experience something she really did not want to admit to herself, and Kathryn says she had a similar experience. She goes on to say that maybe it is best to face those secret thoughts than to keep them buried. B’Elanna isn’t quite so sure and says that she’ll have to think about that. Then she gets up to leave and the two women wish each other sweet dreams, and mean it.

Review

A wise man once said that whoever wants to be in charge, must become the servant of everyone. That certainly seems to be true of starship Captains, or at least this one. Janeway is portrayed as a work-aholic control freak who has to be kept constantly personally updated with everything that is going on in Voyager. No wonder she keeps missing meals and getting stressed (or testy, as she puts it – with masculine connotations.)

In this episode we get a glimpse into the secret daydreams of some of the principal characters. Kathryn Janeway has a romantic streak, but is also determined to remain faithful to her fiancé. Her desire for the company of her loved one finally overcomes her dogged pursuit of the scientific solution. Tuvok longs for home and family, even though his logic tells him that it is impossible.. Kim wants to be with his girlfriend of course, and B’Elanna has a secret love for Chakotay. What Chakotay’s dream is we do not find out, nor Neelix’s although we can guess that Tom is longing to prove something to his father.

It is a well written story by the woman who has jointly created Voyager, and who should know the characters better than most. There is no ‘tidy’ technobabble resolution to the main dilemma of the alien and the visions, just questions and a deeper understanding of motivations. This is probably because, in an effort to involve all the characters, Kes was given the role of being Voyager’s saviour and as she is not technical, Ms Taylor chose to use her developing psi-powers for the plot instead. However, if you are into relationships, this is one for you.

Bizarrely, after just one episode, the long hair up in a bun is back for Janeway. It’s that sort of little thing that can really annoy a viewer. Maybe the wig just took a short vacation for the last episode. What ever the explanation I suppose it just reminds us that this, after all, is only a TV show, albeit a jolly good one.

Grade: 8/10

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