The Doctor gets center stage in an episode that questions his very existence. Originally aired on September 11, 1995 this is Projections.
Captain’s Log Stardate 48892.1 Projections
The Doctor is shocked when he learns that he might be his own creator, Lewis Zimmerman, in a holographic recreation of the Starship Voyager. Determined to discover his own identity, The Doctor does all he can to save the ship and convince a certain Lt Barclay that he is not in fact Lewis Zimmerman.
After being activated in Sickbay, The Doctor soon learns that no one is on board. Replaying the ships log he discovers that Voyager has sustained heavy damage causing the crew to evacuate. He is shocked when he encounters Torres who claims that the Kazon have attacked and that she and Janeway stayed behind to stop a warp core breach. With Janeway injured and on the bridge, Torres informs The Doctor that she has installed holo projectors throughout the ship for just such an occasion. Transferring The Doctor to the Bridge, he is able to wake her up but is soon transferred to the mess hall where Neelix is in danger. Rescuing Neelix from a Kazon, The Doctor is stunned when he is hurt in the process. Rushing to sickbay, The Doctor soon discovers that he is projecting life-signs and the ship is identifying him as none other than Chief Medical Officer Doctor Lewis Zimmerman. Confused Doctor Zimmerman informs Janeway of his situation but it is dismissed as a holographic malfunction. Janeway orders the computer to deactivate all holograms on the ship causing her, Torres, Neelix and their Kazon prisoner to vanish.
Dismayed at the sudden disappearance of the crew, The Doctor is shocked to find the entire crew listed as holograms in the computer system. Investigating the situation, Doctor Zimmerman is shocked when one Reginald Barclay appears claiming to know the Doctor. Barclay informs the Doctor that they are currently on Jupiter Station and he is currently trapped in the holodeck. According to Barclay, Zimmerman has been running a simulation of the long term effects of deep space isolation using a fictional ship called USS Voyager. Due to a kinoplasmic radiation surge the Doctor has been trapped in the holodeck and is also affecting the memory centers of the Doctor’s brain making him believe that he is actually an EMH. Barclay drops another bomb on the Doctor when he tells him that he needs to finish the simulation in less than an hour or Zimmerman will die from the radiation surge.
After attempting to convince Zimmerman to destroy Voyager Barclay resets the holo-program from the moment that Voyager was lost in the Delta Quadrant hoping to get Zimmerman to eventually destroy Voyager. After the crew is taken by the caretaker Zimmerman finally agrees to destroy the ship, convinced that he might actually be on a holodeck, but is stopped when Chakotay appears insisting that Barclay is lying. Chakotay explains that The Doctor is indeed in the holodeck having taken a ‘day off’ at the behest of Captain Janeway but is trapped due to a kinoplasmic radiation surge. If the Doctor destroys the holographic Voyager that the EMH will be deleted as well. Chakotay informs The Doctor that they they are close to fixing the problem and he needs to sit tight. Suddenly the Doctor falls to the ground in pain and Kes appears but in a human form.
Introducing her as his wife, Kes begs Zimmerman to destroy Voyager but Chakotay insists that both Barclay and Human Kes are just delusions from The Doctors memories. Nearly convinced that he is indeed a human named Zimmerman, The Doctor confesses his love for Kes only to awaken in sickbay to an embarrassed Occompan Kes. Tuvok explains that a recent subspace anomaly caused a radiation surge. The Doctor apologizes to Kes and informs her that he only loves her in a platonic sense when she begins to get upset claiming that their marriage is over. Suddenly everything begins to spin with the Doctor bouncing back to the first moments in the Delta Quadrant. In moments The Doctor finds himself back on the holodeck with the crew who are pleased that he remembers who he is.
Back in sickbay, The Doctor tells Kes about his experience wondering why his memories created such an elaborate simulation. She muses that all living things have existencial crisis from time to time. To be sure of his holographic self the Doctor reaches out of the sickbay only to be reassured that he is indeed still a hologram.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I absolutely adore this episode. Not only do we get a great Doctor-centric episode but we also get a chance to see Robert Picardo really take the lead showing that this actor is incredible as a primary character. I have always loved Picardo as an actor and have always felt he was grossly underappreciated in his career having starred in so many films and tv series so it is great to see Voyager taking advantage of this incredible actor.
As an episode, this is one of the strongest so far giving a deep and insightful exploration into what it is to be human. Throughout the episode The Doctor’s very self is put into question making us even begin to wonder what reality is real and what is not. Thankfully the series was not in fact a holodeck recreation (they saved that for later on the next series…yeah we’ll get there eventually) and we have plenty more adventures in the delta quadrant.
This episode also marks the first ‘crossover’ between Voyager and Star Trek the Next Generation not only through the appearance of Barclay but also with the director Jonathan Frakes. Frakes is a tremendous Director and he will be back for more Voyager…maybe even making an appearance of his own…but that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
All in all, this is one of my favorite episodes that somehow tells a complete and compelling story without having to leave the walls of the ship itself. I love great storytelling like this and thankfully, there is much more to come in this series.
Several years ago I actually got a chance to have a brief chat with Robert Picardo and I have to say he is every bit of a wonderful person that you would imagine. Not only was he friendly and appreciative of my appreciation of his work, he was more than happy to take a few moments to chat with me about his career. While I did thank him for his work in Voyager, he seemed pleased that I remembered him for his time in Explorers as well and treated me with a few lines from a certain alien that he played in that film. Picardo is one of the best in the business and I am happy to have met him however briefly.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 37 remaining.
- This is not the last we have seen of Barclay…or rather we will see Barclay for real further down the road.
- We learn that Reginald Barclay was part of the team who made the EMH program. I guess he took some time off of the Enterprise after the D was destroyed to make use of his holodeck expertise.
- This episode marks the first appearance of the holo-emitters, something that is explored again in the future…
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Elogium
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Late To The Game 5/13/2020
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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