Star Trek: Voyager
Originally Broadcast December 11th, 1996
Reviewed by Chakoteya
On their way back from a trade discussion with the Tak-Tak, Captain Janeway laments to Neelix that she just couldn’t get the hang of the gestures used by that race. It turns out that putting your hands on your hips is the worst insult possible, but fortunately Neelix was able to rescue the situation. She considers making him Voyager’s Ambassador, and he likes the sound of that. Voyager is not at the arranged rendezvous point, and the sensors find them adrift over a light year away. There is no response to their hails, but a strange bioelectrical fields is making a detailed scan almost impossible. Captain and Ambassador take phasers and go to find out just what has happened to the crew in their absence.
Voyager is on red alert, the main computer and comm. system are offline, and the bioelectric field is everywhere. On their exploration they come across a tool kit – the person using it seems to have just dropped everything and run. Ensign Wildman’s quarters are empty, but Good Morning Voyager has been running for eleven hours, and the abandoned meal was replicated about the same time ago. Back out in the corridor they see a shadow on the wall and follow it into a transporter room. The room is empty but there is a hole in the transporter pad with mucus goo around it, where the intruder has punched through into the Jefferies tubes. Main power starts to fail, and Environmental Controls are going offline. They head for the bridge by turbolift, while the heat from the warp plasma fails to be vented and starts to create a heat wave throughout the ship. Then something begins to attack the elevator. It judders to a halt and something smashes through the wall and squirts goo at Neelix. Janeway kills it with her phaser and then the pair make their escape through the roof hatch.
On their journey through the tubes, Captain Janeway detects human lifesigns above them, but cannot pinpoint where. Neelix is starting to run a high fever and has fluid in his lung so Janeway goes to get an emergency medical kit, but while she is away, something comes down the tube and drags him away. Alone, Kathryn heads off to Engineering instead of the bridge and, stripping down to her vest, raids the weapons locker on the upper level for a rifle, grenades and a rucksack to store other useful commando stuff in. Then she heads on out, ready to tackle whatever it is that has dared to try and take her ship from her.
First stop, an apparently deserted bridge. She heads over to the rarely uses science station and broadcasts a message for help to anyone who can hear it. Something bits her on the arm and she runs a steriliser over it, but it is too late, she is infected. She quickly scans the ship and discovers there are plenty of people just below her, so the next stop is the Mess Hall. Harry is unconscious and Chakotay has a strange growth on his neck. As she examines it, small things fly out of it, and then a massive version appears to attack her, knocking her to the ground before she can blast it with the rifle. There is nothing she can do for the crew here, so she takes herself off to sickbay. The doors do not open automatically, so she forces them, and is greeted by the EMH with a phaser.
She has bruised ribs and a torn muscle. While the EMH treats her injury he tells her how the situation came to be.
They received a distress call from the Garan Mining colony asking for medical aid. The EMH volunteered for the mission and loaded his programme into the mobile emitter. By the time the ship arrived at the colony everyone was seriously ill. The EMH beamed down and gave a very full description of the location to Chakotay over the open comm. line. He found one of the miners and discovered that the virus had used the victim’s grown hormone to make itself bigger, and visible to the naked eye. It was attracted to infra-red and continuously growing. Chakotay refused permission to beam it or any sick miners aboard because of the risk of infection, but several organisms came up with the EMH. The biofilters detected them but before the buffers could be purged, several escaped into other systems. As they made their way through the ship, the EMH and Kes used his tricorder data to create a synthetic antigen to defeat the infection. When Chakotay came to check on their progress, they were about twelve hours away from a cure. Meanwhile, volunteer replacement chef Tom Paris was having problems with the power supply which had incinerated a pot-roast. Torres checked the gel pack for him and discovered that it was infected. When she touched it, she got goo all over her hand. The Doctor was summoned to the mess hall and he quickly realised that an epidemic was imminent so he recommended that the area be quarantined. Chakotay ordered red alert and had the forcefields put in place around deck two. The EMH collected a live macrovirus and returned to sickbay to continue his search for a cure. While it was under the microscope it grew so quickly that it escaped and had to be trapped inside a forcefield. By the time the antigen was ready, the macrovirus was over one third of a metre across. The EMH grappled briefly with the angry life form before injecting it, whereupon in collapsed to the floor in a squishy heap. With the antigen proved, the EMH headed to the mess hall to begin vaccinating the quarantined crew, but he was attacked by two very large macroviruses and had to hide under a table to protect his mobile emitter from their vicious stingers whilst they broke through the quarantine field and took over the rest of the ship.
Bones knitted, Janeway asks why the crew are all gathered in the mess hall and cargo bays. The EMH believes the macroviruses are instinctively driven to herd their prey together. The Captain is running a fever, the result of the bite on the bridge, and she volunteers to become the first human test subject for the completed antigen. It is successful, but they have no way of getting to the crew to administer it. Janeway suggests dispersing it through the air, but it will have to be done from Environmental Control once the systems are repaired. The EMH prepares two canisters and they head off into the Jefferies tubes and split up to double their chances of success.
The Captain gets to their goal, splattering macroviruses along the way, but the EMH has to retreat into a shuttle after his mobile emitter was nearly destroyed by the beasts. She gets the systems online and is just about to release the antigen into the atmosphere when Voyager is rocked by impacts – they are being attacked by the Tak-Tak. Using the shuttle’s systems, they make contact with the Consul, who has picked up the distress call and come to purify the ship of this incurable disease, just as they have purified the mining colony. Talking fast, Janeway convinces the Consul that they have a cure, and they can prove it if he will stop his attack and give them time to get it to the crew. He gives them an hour, but the attack has destroyed their chance of dispersing the cure through the air. Then the Captain has an idea.
The Paxau resort is bustling with colourful characters when the large macroviruses swoop in on the new infra red signatures. The EMH now has a clear path to the mess hall and cargo bays to vaccinate the crew while Janeway heads for holodeck two with an antigen ‘bomb’. Just as she is about to throw it in among the macroviruses when one attacks her and knocks it out of her hand. After a brief hand to hand struggle, she knifes it and lobs the bomb into the room with seconds to spare. There is a big green explosion and all the macroviruses are killed. The Tak-Tak are impressed, and call off their attack.
In her ready room, Captain Janeway is listening to music while painting a landscape. Chakotay brings her the damage report and invites her to join a group going skiing on the Ktarian glaciers. She declines, feeling that she’s had enough exercise for a while.
Another Janeway story already, and this time she gets strip off, heft a big gun and save her ship and crew single-handedly. This is Voyager meets Alien, where dialogue takes second place to splattering weird aliens all over the bulkheads.
There are little nuances in the episode which tell you that the writer really is paying attention to continuity – Neelix reminds his Captain that he only has one lung, as kindly donated by Kes in Phage, and his Briefing with Neelix programme from Investigations has developed into Good Morning Voyager. Naturally it is the loquacious EMH who gets to tell most of the story in his narrative while treating Janeway’s insect bites, but fortunately his instinct for Mobile Emitter Preservation keeps him from being the Hero. That’s left to Kate, aka Ripley, looking very fit in her vest.
Forget the science, please. It’s not important to the plot. Just sit back and enjoy the fun. Revel in Janeway being sidelined by Neelix in negotiations with the TakTak because her habit of putting her hands on her hips is a gross insult in their body language. For once we get a small glimpse of how communicating with alien species should be fraught with misunderstandings. It’s no Darmok [Next Generation episode], but it’s not trying to be. Enjoy the alien mega-bugs, delight in the carnage on the holodeck and take it as it is, 44 minutes of escapism. Although as far as this reviewer is concerned, it would have been so much more pleasant to watch if it had been the first officer removing his uniform and getting down to business, it wasn’t to be that way. Never mind.