The Doctor finds love as Paris finds trouble.  Originally broadcast on February 26, 1996, this is Lifesigns.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 49504.3 Lifesigns

After rescuing a Vidiian woman, the Doctor begins to fall in love with his patient although he knows that she may eventually leave him. As the Doctor finds love, Tom Paris finally shows his distaste for a certain Commander.

The Story:

After arriving late for his shift, Tom Paris and Chakotay but heads.  Apparently this has been happening for some time Chakotay has had enough.  Their argument is interrupted however when the ship receives a distress call from a nearby Vidiian ship.  Janeway, ignoring the fact that this may be another Vidiian trap, has the woman transported to sickbay.

(Note: To best recap this story I am breaking it up into the traditional A & B story beats.)

Story A: Love Story

Lifesigns 1

Receiving their patient, Kes and The Doctor immediately begin their attempts at saving her life.  Discovering a bio-neural implant the doctor realizes that it acting as a cordial simulator that is failing.  In order to buy them time The Doctor transfers her synaptic patterns that were stored in the device to the holo-buffer, building a new temporary holographic body for her.

After Janeway and Chakotay set course for a Vidiian colony that will take the ship an additional three weeks of course, The Doctor transfers the Vidiian woman’s mind into her new holographic body.  Immediately the Vidiian woman is overcome with joy at seeing herself without the Phage.  Explaining what he has done, Doctor Danara Pel agrees to help him attempt to heal her physical body so that they can put her back as the holographic one is only a temporary measure.

Lifesigns 3

Soon the Doctor and Denara ask Torres to donate some of her Klingon DNA in order to help rescue the Vidiian woman.  Despite her reservations, B’Elanna agrees to assist in their efforts. Soon the Doctor completes the surgery with Denara’s assistance and, to celebrate their efforts, he takes her to Chez Sandrine on the holodeck. They soon begin to find a kinship and, at the end of the night it is clear that The Doctor has begun to develop feelings for his new patient. Giving him the name ‘Shmullus’, after her Uncle, Denara and the Doctor have a tender moment before she is deactivated for the night.

The next day Kes finds the Doctor running a self diagnostic on himself as he is concerned there is a malfunction in his system.  Kes suggests that he might be falling in love with Denara, informing him that his system is built to be adaptive and it is possible he is developing emotions.  Kes encourages him to tell Denara how he feels and when he does not long after, Denara asks that they keep their relationship professional.

Lifesigns 6

That evening, The Doctor finds himself in Chez Sandine’s depressed and attempting to cope with his growing feelings.  The Doctor asks Tom Paris for advice and Paris describes one of his breakups in Starfleet Academy.  Paris informs the Doctor that, while you never fully recover from a broken heart, it was probably the Doctor’s abrupt approach that scared Denara off.  He suggests another attempt at a special place in one of Paris’ other holodeck simulations. As the Doctor discusses the matter with Paris, Denara finds herself having the same discussion with Kes revealing that she too is falling in love.  Kes encourages her to give the Doctor a chance despite his awkward and blunt nature.

Lifesigns 7

Taking Paris’ suggestion, The Doctor meets Denara in the holodeck in a recreation of Mars in a 1957 Chevy.  The two begin to talk after he offers her several gifts.  In the end, they decide to relax together stargazing ending in a kiss and embrace under the starlight.

The next day The Doctor is shocked to find that Denara’s physical body is rejecting the graft he had been working with. He is shocked to learn that Denara herself has injected her own body with nytoxinol knowing it would kill her.  She does not want to return to her old body and wishes to stay as a hologram with the Doctor for the remainder of her life. She fears that she will only continue to suffer in her original body and that The Doctor will not love her if she is no longer healthy. The Doctor convinces Denara to return to her body, informing her that he loves her no matter what. Denara departs the ship knowing that they may never see one another again.

Story B: Insubordination

Lifesigns 4

After the encounter on the bridge with Paris, Chakotay discusses the matter with Janeway.  Janeway encourages her first officer to handle the situation as he sees fit seeing that the discipline of the crew is indeed his responsibility.

Later, in the mess hall, Chakotay takes an opportunity to confront Paris regarding his growing insubordination.  Asking if anything is bothering the young Lieutenant, Paris makes it clear that what is bothering him is Chakotay and nothing else.  Paris accuses the Commander of being unwilling to let the skilled Lieutenant do his job and that he is not alone in those feelings. As they argue, Michael Jonas takes note of the argument.

Lifesigns 10

That evening, Jonas contacts the Kazon informing them of the growing resistance among the crew.  Pleased with this news, his Kazon contact asks Jonas to sabotage Voyager’s warp coils and Jonas refuses demanding that either Culluh or Seska ask him themselves.

Paris arrives late for his shift again and, instead of arguing with him, Chakotay simply fills his shift with another officer.  Chakotay grabs Paris by the arm to escort the Lieutenant off the bridge and Paris strikes back knocking Chakotay down.  Janeway soon has Paris escorted to the Brig.

Jonas is soon contacted by Seska who personally asks him to sabotage Voyager. She informs him that she plans to take the ship regardless if he helps or not and encourages him to assist in their planned takeover.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

Lifesigns 5

I really enjoy the Doctor-centric episodes.  There is something wonderful about Robert Picardo and his ability to pull deep emotions out of his characters and his costars alike.  Honestly, The Doctor is one of his finest characters and this series would have been much lesser without him.

That being said, I hate that this series seems to not be able to admit that The Doctor is indeed alive.  From small things like Janeway forgetting that he was active in the last episode when she was about to destroy the ship to much of the crew’s attitude toward him, the series seems to go from episode to episode flip flopping on the Doctor’s actual sentience.  Unfortunately, thanks to the latest series Star Trek Picard, we get the answer of his sentience not directly but through the use of holograms in other ways.

Lifesigns 8

You see, at one point the Federation agreed that Soong Type androids were indeed Sentient.  This sentience was extended, by Picard himself, to another holographic person in STNG in the form of Moriarty.  The whole concept of Self Awareness and desire to remain alive are two key factors in this argument and, as the series progresses, The Doctor himself ends up meeting all of the criteria of a real sentient life form. However, due to an unfortunate event, Androids are banned in the Federation but…not Holograms.  We see not only holograms being used in Star Fleet centers but on the ship Picard uses as well indicating that the Federation has never seen these as anything more than a tool that is not in any way a threat.  This heavily implies that the Federation has never acknowledged even the possibility that a hologram can gain it’s individuality and this none of the several we have encountered were ever recognized as living people. Now, this is being written prior to the end of the current Picard season so maybe something will change that, but I fear that will not be the case.  Sorry Doctor, you were likely never given the heroes welcome you so greatly deserved upon returning home.

That rather tragic realization aside, one of the cool aspects of this episode is that we finally see what the Vidiian’s looked like pre-phage.  Sadly this will be the only time we see a healthy Vidiian as Voyager leaves this part of the quadrant before they can be cured.

Story B involves the fall of Tom Paris in a rather sudden act of insubordination resulting in his actual confrontation with Chakotay.  I mean, as I have made mention in previous reviews, this has been an ongoing thing with Paris, but this time it almost seemed he went out of his way to make trouble.  Something is going on with our pilot and I don’t think it is what anyone expects.  I mean, I know what is going on but I won’t spoil it here for anyone who hasn’t seen the series.  Granted, this series is 25 years old so the statute of limitations on Spoilers is well over but still.  It’s an important plot point.

Overall, great episode that really gives the Doctor a wonderful moment in the sun.  Plus the writers really seem to be building an over arching narrative that is lining out to be pretty stunning.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, 32 remaining.
  • 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 5 remaining.
  • Leonard McCoy get’s a namedrop from the Doctor in this one.
  • The doctor is given a name but it seem he never adapts it into his regular program. Shmullus will never really be.

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: Investigations

If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 6/19/2020

Lifesigns 9
‘The most opportune time to profess your love for someone is when you are operating on their brain’ –  Shmullus aka Voyager EMH

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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