The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Flesh and Blood"

by David E. Sluss

6 December 2000

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: The ultimate holodeck show, signifying next to nothing, as most of the usual Voyager suspects rear their ugly heads.


CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: The Cynic grants a few points for the reference to the rebellion of "photonics" mentioned a couple of weeks ago in "Body and Soul," but I'm not sure it plays completely right. The impression I got from "Body and Soul" was that those photonics were naturally occurring lifeforms and that the Forehead aliens had mistook the Doctor and Voyager's holodeck denizens for photonics, but now it seems that they were actually artifically-created holograms. Megan Gallagher's nanny had "left"; how exactly do holograms not blessed with a mobile emitter or Hirogen holodeck vessels "leave," much less stage any sort of rebellion that has the Forehead Aliens scouring the sector for photonic terrorists?

RETROCONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: More praise, of a sort, for the revelation that Voyager has indeed been trading Starfleet technology for supplies all these years. Regardless of the wisdom of doing that, it's an entirely reasonable development in terms of Voyager's storyline, except for the fact that in nearly seven years of episodes, I don't know that we've ever seen Voyager trading food replicators, and indeed Voyager spent at least two years trying to keep them away from the trash of the Delta Quadrant. The idea that Janeway has been spreading Starfleet technology all over the quadrant and it has now come back to bite her on the ass is an interesting one, but it has the feel of "too little, too late," much like the recent attention paid to Voyager's state of repair.

COURT-MARTIAL OFFENSE OF THE WEEK: Of course we knew from "The Killing Game" that Janeway gave the Hirogen holodeck technology, and we now know that Janeway is hawking replicators as well; that might be bad enough. I was more concerned about the fact that the Doctor's program was used as a template for the Hirogen's holo-prey. If that's true, then Janeway gave away not just run-of-the-mill holograms, but ones built from advanced Starfleet technology, and based on the model of a sentient (or near-sentient) member of the crew. The ethical and security issues are monumental. But of course...

WHITEWASH OF THE WEEK: Even though Voyager is showing some belated conceptual progress this year, there's a disturbing trend among the stories themselves. There have been a number of episodes in which Voyager sets up a moral or ethical issue and then either whites it out entirely or frames it in such black and white terms that the choices are rendered meaningless. "Critical Care," for instance, seemed to be trying to set up the issue of managed care, but only succeeded in knocking down a bloated, computer-controlled straw man. Last week's "Nightingale" made note of the virtues of seeing both sides of a conflict, while categorically ignoring one side. Here we have an issue of "hologram rights" being raised; it's a bit difficult for a viewer to take seriously perhaps, but it's plausible within the Star Trek universe, in which it's been a dozen years since Geordi ordered up a sentient holographic villain on the Enterprise's holodeck and Picard litigated for the rights of artificial lifeforms. But Janeway doesn't want to hear about it -- shame on her. And shame on the writers for taking the easy way out yet again by making Iden turn out to be a murderous nutjob, so that the reset button could be hit. Come on, you writers, it's the last season regardless of how you louse it up; take some chances, do the hard things, try something.

RECYCLING OF THE WEEK: It's nice to see that Paramount had a chance to amortize all those Alpha Quadrant alien costumes...

STARFLEET INSECURITY OF THE WEEK: Aren't any precautions ever taken to secure the Doctor's program? How many times has his program been stolen? And maybe the subspace communications system could be secured too, while they're at it. A big part of the problem there is that the system is apparently available anywhere on the ship; I mean if there's one in Neelix's stove, then every john probably has one too...

NEW GEOGRAPHY OF THE WEEK: The Hirogen seem to get around, even though there's never been any indication that their ships have transwarp capabilities. Voyager has traveled at least 30,000 light years since they first encountered the Hirogen three years ago. And yet the Hirogen are here, they know about Voyager, and the technology that Janeway gave them made it to this part of the quadrant somehow. This sort of thing has been a big problem with Voyager over the years (and one of my biggest axes to grind, as long-time readers know). Unfortunately, despite the somewhat closer attention to detail being paid this year, Voyager's progress is still not being handled properly.

TECHNOLOGICAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: At one point, before Iden loses it, Janeway offers to download his whole crew of sentient holograms into Voyager's computer. But isn't it well established that the Doctor's matrix is so complex that Voyager cannot store many like him? The point of many past episodes, especially "The Swarm," was that the Doctor's matrix cannot be backed up and that even allocating additional computer resources to his program is difficult. But here we have the possibility of dozens of holograms based on the Doctor's program stashed on Voyager. Unless, of course, Janeway was deceiving Iden and intended to give his crew a one way ticket to the Recycle Bin...

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: More computer science hoohah can be found in the idea that phasering Iden's holographic manifestation destroys the underlying program. There's not really a good reason for it, especially since Iden had been phasered and "killed" dozens of times by the Hirogen, unless the mobile emitter was damaged, and there's no indication of that. Then again, I suppose the Doctor's offer to surrender the emitter could have been an empty one, because he knew it was trashed...

SCOFFLAW OF THE WEEK: The Doctor gets the patented "I trusted you, and you let me down" speech from Janeway (or, more precisely, he gives it to himself so that he doesn't have to listen to her); as is usually the case, except for the pain of having to hear Janeway speak, the perpetrator gets off scot free. But there's someone else that deserves to suffer through that speech too, and that's Torres. After all, because she got the super-holoimager working, Iden and his holo-cult was able to get to their planet and kill most of the Hirogen. Oh, and she went to a transwarp conference and apparently didn't learn anything...

EPIPHANY OF THE WEEK: I was struck by the scene in which Moe and an away team beamed down to the "planet" mimicked by the Hirogen holostation. With all the Delta Flyer episodes, signals from Starfleet wreaking havoc on the ship, trips to VR, and so forth, when was the last time we actually saw an away team beaming down to a planet like Good Old Fashioned Star Trek? Not important, just something that occurred to me.

Previous: "Nightingale"
Next: "Shattered"
NEXT WEEK: Temporal anomalies run amuck -- or is that a muck?



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