Remember that episode on STNG where the aliens were experimenting on the crew without their knowledge and things got really weird. This is Voyager’s version of that same story only Voyager takes it a bit further. Originally broadcast on October 29, 1997, this is Scientific Method.
Captain’s Log Stardate 51244.3
Schisms Scientific Method
Alien scientists begin aggressively experimenting on Voyagers crew, but no one is aware they are even there.
Seven and Torres find themselves at odds when Torres discovers that the former Drone has diverted power from non-essential areas to her new Stellar Cartography lab. Upset that she wasn’t consulted first as Chief Engineer, Torres explains that there are procedures that Seven must get used to. The two come away amicably but it is clear this is going to be a difficult relationship.
In Sickbay Tom Paris talks his way out of finishing his shift only to beam directly to engineering for a quick meetup with Torres. They kiss but someone is watching them…and not another crew-member.
Complaining of a headache that has lasted days, Janeway submits to a deep massage by the Doctor. Just as it seems to be working, Janeway is called away to the bridge where Chakotay shows her a strange phenomenon involving binary pulsars. While the ship is far from danger, Chakotay suggests that they can get close enough to gather some interesting data. She agrees and leaves him to it as her headache is far from over.
While attempting another secret Rendezvous, Paris and Torres are caught in the act by Tuvok who makes it all but makes no promise to keep it to himself. This is reinforced when, after a staff meeting regarding the pulsars, the very sick looking Janeway pull both Tom and B’Elanna aside to reprimand them for their behavior. Although Tuvok did not report them, the ship has been buzzing about their new romance. Janeway makes it clear that they are free to have a relationship but they must maintain a professional stance at all times.
As Paris and Torres receive their disciplinary take, Chakotay discovers that something is seriously wrong with him while in his quarters. Sipping tea, he is scanned by the same alien that watched the two lovers in Engineering, not long after his hair begins to fall out. reporting to sickbay, it seems his malady is affecting more than just his hair as he is rapidly aging. The Doctor confirms that somehow his DNA has been hyper stimulated but he can not figure out why. Although Chakotay insists he be allowed to return to work, both Janeway and the Doctor insist he remain in sickbay. The Doctor begins investigating what has occurred.
Soon another strange even occurs when Neelix finds his genes have been altered slowly changing him into a Mylean. The Doctor begins to believe that something or someone is doing this to the crew when additional crew-members begin complaining of strange illnesses. Soon, while in the science lab, he discovers that there are odd markings on the afflicted DNA indicating that this is being done on purpose, with each marking giving off a signal. Scanning for the source of the signal the Doctor begins to flicker. Torres discovers that he is being deleted from his mobile emitter and just as she begins transferring him back to the ship she collapses in pain. The Doctor vanishes, leaving Torres alone.
With a sickbay full of medical emergencies and the Doctor missing, Tom Paris does all he can to save B’Elanna who has had her lungs forcibly altered. Janeway is concerned that the Doctor has been lost but Harry confirms that the Doctor was transferred to the ship although he is unable to find him. Suddenly Seven receives a signal from the Doctor and he informs her that he is hiding in the holodeck. He has vital information for her but she must come alone. Informing Janeway that she believes she can fix the problem with the Doctor, Seven leaves only to find him posing as an artist in the da Vinci simulation. There he informs her that someone is on board altering the crews DNA and they need to be taken care of before they go to far. Seven acknowledges the issue and the Doctor alters her ocular implant so that she can see the alien invaders.
Leaving the holodeck Seven begins to discover the truth, throughout the ship alien scientists are experimenting on many of the crew-members, including herself at one point. As she witnesses the events, she informs the Doctor of what she is seeing. Heading to the Captain’s ready room to inform Janeway of her discovery, she finds two of these aliens sticking needles in the Captain’s head explaining the terrible headaches she has been having. Unable to alert the Captain to the issue at hand, Seven returns to the Doctor to determine a plan of action. He surmises that they could send a shock through the ships systems using the DNA markers that would also stop the aliens from continuing their work. Seven heads to Engineering but, just as she is about to begin her work, Tuvok stops her thinking she is, once again, attempting to contact the Borg. Seven notices that they are being watched and quickly takes his phaser revealing one of the Alien intruders.
Tuvok and Seven take the alien to the brig where they learn she is part of the Srivani. Janeway allows Seven to continue her mission to stop these aliens and then turns her enraged attention to the alien named Alzen. Alzen attempts to defend their experiments claiming that millions of people are benefited from their actions but Janeway is hearing none of it. Alzen notes that she is impressed with Janeway as their experiments have been increasing her dopamine and Janeway shows her just how upset she really is. Pinning Alzen to the bulkhead, Janeway demands that Alzen stop the experiments but Alzen is not phased stating that they will keep the procedures going no matter the fatalities or deformities and if Janeway interferes they will all be killed.
Janeway calls a meeting with her remaining staff to determine how to handle these aliens but it seems their original plan has been thwarted by the Srivani. As they discuss the matter an emergency erupts on the bridge and Janeway is unable to help as one of her crew-members is killed. Knowing she has no alternative, Janeway sets course for the twin pulsars and locks the course in knowing that it will kill everyone aboard. Soon the Srivani leader, Takar, appears and demands to know what the Captain plans to accomplish. Janeway informs the alien that she will let everyone die if they don’t leave now inviting them to stick around to see if she is bluffing. Unable to alter Voyager’s course, Takar notes that the experiment with Janeway is successful as they were attempting to see how far they could push her before she broke. The Captain laughs at them and informs them that they can see for themselves. Unable to take the risk the Srivani begin leaving the ship as Janeway pushes in between the binary pulsars destroying on of the alien ships in the process. Although the ship has been significantly damaged, they make it through sans alien scientists.
With everything calmed down Torres and Paris attempt to finally have a moment to themselves in Paris’ quarters. After several interruptions, they both remove their com-badges joking that maybe this unbridled lust was the result of the alien experiments.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Although this episode bares a striking resemblance to the STNG episode Schisms it seems that Voyager decided to up the anti with quite a crazy story. In fact, I almost feel as if Voyager improved on the basic concept laid out in Schisms giving the alien invaders an actual reason for their experiments. That being said one subtle issue explored here is the age old question of if the Means justify the Ends.
This age old dilemma asks if, no matter how horrible or inappropriate the means of doing something are, the results of doing it are for the greater good is it okay to commit these acts or continue doing the terrible things. One of the best examples is that of the medical experiments conducted on prisoners in Nazi Germany. Many of these experiments resulted in very detailed anatomical studies and other potentially beneficial finding. The thing is, most if not all of the research was done by experimenting on living humans who had no choice in the matter. The question then comes up, should any of this research be used seeing where it came from? Does using the research validate the means or does not using the research cause the suffering and torture these people went through to be in vain? Of course, in most opinion, such atrocities never justify the ends and should have never been done to begin with but if you get past the surface it can present a very significant conundrum for many people. For instance, imagine if a person had, in their blood, the cure for cancer but the only way to retrieve this cure was to completely drain them while they were alive. Their death would result in a cure for millions but it would be at the cost of a single human life. If that person were unwilling to die to allow the cure to be made, should they be forced to? How about if that one person were ten, one hundred, one million….six million? Now that dilemma really begins to take shape.
Now what if the Srivani found cures for billions of people using the crew of Voyager as guinea pigs, Sacrificing a few hundred for a few billion is justifiable right?Janeway certainly didn’t think so and justifiably so but that’s not an answer I can give to you, it is one you have to come up with on your own. As I have stated many times before I have always loved when Star Trek takes on sociopolitical issues, especially when it does it in a very subtle and thoughtful way.
The other aspect of this episode that really struck me was how it shows how strong Janeway is as a Captain. For the entire episode the Srivani have been increasing her dopamine levels making it more and more difficult for her to maintain her composure and decorum. The purpose of this experiment is to see just how far they can push her before she breaks and, even pushed to the extreme, she still manages to develop a plan to save the ship and it’s crew. She is pushed, literally poked and prodded and only finally loses her cool when directly confronted by one of the alien invaders. Even in the end when she flies the ship through the binary pulsar, she has a plan, even though it is a massive risk and quite irrational, she never once looses perspective. Despite all of this, while her patience is indeed tested by her the aliens and even her own crew members she never once treats them poorly or lashes out on any one, even with ample opportunity to do so. This really shows just how good of a leader she is as, in the face of extreme stress and anxiety she manages to keep her cool never fully taking her frustrations out on those around her. When it seems she is close to snapping, it is Tuvok who reminds her that she might want to back off a little. To her credit, she takes her confidants advice and is willing to accept that maybe she is being a little irrational.
Overall, This is really solid entry that not only showcases Janeway really well, provides a subtle but clever sociopolitical story but also manages to integrate Seven of Nine into the crew even further. While I didn’t really discuss her role in the episode outside of the story recap, she is instrumental in this story as, without her, it would have been much harder for the Doctor to expose the Srivani and their experiments. This episode really shows how important Seven is and will be to the story going forward and, while it does sometime feel that the series is becoming the Seven of Nine show, trust me, it does pay off as the series gains balance.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 22 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -1 remaining
- We never see or hear from the Srivani again but they are still out there, experimenting on people. Maybe they will return some day…maybe they are causing that slight discomfort you are feeling right now…
- We learn that Myleans have rather potent sweat glands.
- The relationship between Torres and Paris continues to be explored building on the events of Day of Honor. It’s awesome to see them growing together as a couple even if they may have had their hormones tampered with by the Srivani. To me, they are one of the best couples in Star Trek and I really hope we get to catch up with them again in a later series. (oops…spoilers…haha)
- This episode also marks the beginning of what will be a great working relationship between The Doctor and Seven of Nine. I won’t spoil any of that but they work really well together over time.
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: Year of Hell
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Late To The Game 9/21/2020
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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