The Doctor faces a memory that might destroy him on the episode that originally aired on January 20, 1999. This is Latent Image.
Captain’s Log Stardate undetermined. Latent Image.
The Doctor discovers that his memories may have been altered causing him to have to face the fact that he may have inadvertently killed one of the crew.
After discovering a mysterious scarring on Harry Kim’s skull that neither of them remember occurring, the Doctor begins to wonder if something is amiss. Taking his information to Janeway, he finds that she does not seem concerned about the strange mysterious surgery but agrees to investigate later on. After getting no where with Janeway, The Doctor talks to Seven who agrees to assist him later that day.
When Seven arrives she finds that the Doctor has no memory of asking for her assistance and the two find that the files pertaining to Harry Kim’s injuries are missing. Investigating further they soon find holo images from 18 months prior, when the injury would have taken place, and the images contain a crew member he does not remember.
Soon Seven discovers that the Doctor’s memories have been blocked off from him. Restoring them, he remembers the incident but not the Ensign in question. They soon discover that Voyager was attacked by an unknown species and there is a chance that they have erased the crew’s memories of this unknown Ensign indicating that an intruder may still be on board. Janeway agrees to help and the crew begin preparing to capture this intruder. Before the Doctor deactivates himself he sets a trap backing up his files in case he has his memory deleted again. Sure enough, upon re-awaking, he discovers that someone has tampered with his memories and he soon discovers that it is Janeway herself!
The Doctor takes his findings to the Senior Crew and accuses them of a conspiracy to hide something from him. Janeway admits to tampering with his memories as something occurred causing him to malfunction. The only way to save him was to delete the memories of the event. The Doctor is angered but Janeway remains adamant that it was the right thing to do. The Doctor is returned to sickbay and the crew begin preparing to rewrite his program so that he can function without issues. That evening Seven of Nine confronts Janeway about the Captain’s decision indicating that his rights as an individual are at stake. She is appalled that despite the Captain’s push to bring Seven into humanity, they are treating the Doctor more like a tool than a person.
Janeway relents and tells the Doctor what happened to cause his malfunction. It seems that a young Ensign who was on a mission with him was wounded along with Harry Kim. The Doctor had to make a choice as to who to save and his decision ultimately lead to the death of Ensign Jetal. This event leads to the Doctor facing a conundrum that he was not programmed for ultimately causing his programming to begin to break down. After the Doctor begins to show the same signs of a feedback loop concerning his ethics in medicine, she shuts him down but begins to wonder if they should reprogram him after all.
Talking to members of her crew, in particular Seven of Nine, she finally comes to the decision to allow the Doctor time to work through his personal issues. The crew agree to spend time with him in the holodeck as he works through his personal issues hoping that he will find a way to heal on his own.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I do love a good Doctor episode and this one is no exception. However, unlike our experience with Data in the classic episode, Measure of a Man, the debate as to the Doctor’s sentiance seems to be up for debate on a constant basis. Depending on the mood of the crew, or even that of the story itself, there is a constant teetering between a sentient Doctor and The Doctor as just another tool on Voyager. If anything, this episode finally brings this conundrum to a head forcing not only the crew but the writers themselves to finally admit that The Doctor is in fact a person.
Robert Picardo does a tremendous job in his role as The Doctor showing his range as an actor even moreso. Throughout the story his plight is palatable and you actually find yourself feeling for the character as he struggles with his personal conundrum. However, it is Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine who really shines in this one bringing the nearly two years of her time on the series to a wonderful turning point. Ryan’s portrayal of the former drone has been evolving through the series and it is in this episode that we really see her humanity peeking through. Through Janeway’s tutelage and with the help of The Doctor, the character of Seven has surly succeeded in her pursuits of individuality. This, is where I run into a problem with this episode. Not with The Doctor or with Seven but in Janeway and her seemingly contradictory actions and decisions.
Throughout the series, Janeway has constantly made it clear that she saw The Doctor as a person, however, almost conveniently she compares the Doctor to a replicator. She claims that The Doctor is nothing more than a program, someone that they have every right to manipulate as she sees fit. This opinion seems rather sudden and out of the blue as it does not fit at all with the character we have come to know and love. Sure she has had some issues with the Prime Directive but to have a complete reversal of opinion to fit a singular story seems rather forced and out of place. While I understand the need to create this sort of conflict, there was no reason to have Janeway have this rather sudden reversal of opinion. Sure, she manages to come to the ‘right’ decision by the end of the episode but…seriously, this should have never been an issue for Janeway.
Overall, this is a great story but uses the characters in ways that just do not make sense. I wish it had been done a little differently, maybe making the decision that of another crew member, maybe Torres? Heck, had this been a true sequel to an episode where they had to reprogram the Doctor it would have been much more impactful. I guess that is one of the problems with a series that is determined to remain episodic unlike the final seasons of DS9, sure, we get some continuity, but there is no thought to long running story lines to develop characters to their fullest potential. It is indeed a fine line to walk but if DS9 showed us anything, it is indeed possible to have the best of both worlds. If you want a good Doctor-centric episode, this one certainly manages that, if you want to find yourself frustrated at Janeway…yeah, look no further, it gives you that as well. Not a bad episode, but one that could have been so much better….again, a series of missed opportunities.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -3 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -3 remaining
- We run into a species we never saw before and will never see again despite the fact they seemed rather violent and could have made a pretty great foe. huh…
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: Bride of Chaotica!
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Late To The Game 11/27/2020
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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