Part 1 of 2: The Summary

Doc, the resident hacker aboard Voyager, has been tinkering with his electronic gadgets again and is using his latest one in the crew’s annual physicals --- it seems that he’s devised a program that produces a digital Amazing Visible Man (or Woman). In showing off the technique to Harry, the dear EMH finds evidence of a dangerous neural surgery that has been performed on Kim; a surgery that only he, the EMH, has ever performed. Neither he nor Harry have any recollections of the procedure, and so the doc proceeds to find out why. Since the incident has occurred 18 months in the past, the good doctor turns to the only person whom he can trust to research the problem with him, his little protégé, the lovely Barbie Borg. They determine that his recent short term memory files have been deleted --- and a sizable amount of data from the time period in question. Our fair young thing helps him piece together the few remnants of the missing time frame. The doctor is puzzled that all of the recovered frames contain images of a Voyager crewwoman that he cannot remember. The doctor approaches the captain on the bridge, demanding an explanation, and she calls him into her ready room, where she chillingly denies any existence of the retrieved images. The EMH leaves, more than confused than ever.

When Captain Janeway confines the EMH to sickbay and tells him to deactivate himself until further recall, he sets about to investigate what he now senses is a cover-up. His scheme works, and it is Janeway herself who is identified as the file eraser and reprogrammer. When confronted, she plays hardball, and shows the EMH the deleted files... and his subsequent breakdown. For the next few minutes, we are taken into the dark valleys of repressed memories and deleted files and find out that eighteen months earlier, the doctor had been on shuttlecraft on an away mission with Kim and the mystery crewwoman (later identified as Ens. Jetal). They were attacked by an alien ship and boarded by one of said aliens, who in turn blasted at them. Kim and the woman are critically injured. The doc is able to transport the alien back to its ship, and then he and his crewmates are all beamed back to Voyager’s sickbay. It is here that the doctor realizes that there is a residual charge from the phaser blast that is causing a degeneration of the myelin tissue in Kim and Jatel. The energy pulse is rapidly destroying their spinal cords, and approaching their brains... in both of them at the same rate. The doctor has time to save one but not the other. Decisions... a choice. He saves Kim; the woman dies. He admittedly knows Kim, but has had very little previous contact with her; so, he feels that it was his long friendship with Kim that tipped the scales. Janeway then explains that the doctor had a difficult time in accepting his decision, and became unstable. They had to reprogram him, and in doing so, all of the files of the event were deleted.

After a heart-to-heart talk with her "good" friend, Seven, about philosophical choices and acceptance of those choices, Janeway herself makes a decision --- rather than reprogram the doctor again, she acknowledges that he is more human than she wants to admit; but, that as such, he’s got to travel those valleys all by himself --- albeit with a little help from his friends --- and he must learn that whatever our choices in life, we must live with their consequences and go on.

Voyager viewer beware! It’s another psychological thriller from TPTB at ST:V... it’s "Doctor, heal thyself" time.

Part 2 of 2: The Review

It’s time for yet another mental breakdown on the good ship Voyager... does anyone else think that this theme for the season is starting to wear a little thin? But, as this is an episode for the doctor, so Cilla can endure it one more time. (The Boobie Chick is in too many scenes, though, and she is getting just a little too familiar with Our Favorite Doctor...)

On the whole, I found the episode a lot easier to follow than all those time travel ones. But, this one was rather disconcerting in its philosophical examination of making choices. Although the ultimate plot line requires that the doctor play the Meryl Streep role in "Sophie’s Choice" (without the hair and the accent!), we are subjugated to choices by everyone: Janeway, Seven (:p~~~~~~~), Neelix, Harry... every which way we turn. Even TPTB had choices to make --- and some of these turned out pretty bad, also. Like where do we spend our limited budget: on neat special effects, or on hair and make-up? Gee willikers... let’s go for the whiz-bang stuff; no one will notice that Tom has the same dorky new ‘do both in the "present" scenes and in the "recovered files" from 18 months ago, will they? And hey! --- let’s give Boobie some more collagen injections in her lips, to really make her top heavy! And --- hee, hee! --- gotta give more contrast between her youthfulness and Janeway; let’s put Janeway in a god-awful gray knit thingie, with tight short sleeves so that everyone can throw up with her over-forty upper arms (You can be skinny as Twiggy, but after that fourth decade mark, very few females can hide The Baggy Arm Syndrome...) Also... frosted grape lipstick on Janeway? I think not! If you bought it at Rite Aid, please take it back for a refund; you made a mistake! Our captain does so much better with a nice rose or red.

You knew the instant that the "new" ensign was given a name that her demise was imminent. (A friend of Cilla’s stated recently that "As long as a newly introduced Starfleet character isn’t given game, he or she is going to survive. The minute he or she receives a name, you know that they won’t survive the episode." The good ole TOS redshirt syndrome!) So cute and perky (has she been taking lessons from DS9’s Ezri Dax?) --- that, in addition with the yukky blue icing on the birthday cake, make you really want to throw up now! Why hasn’t Harry discovered her before now? Why didn’t Tom find her a long time ago?

The episode was written as the Doctor’s showcase piece, and Robert Picardo’s acting once more proved to be the best on the show, even though he did fall victim to the William Shatner School of Acting in the "breakdown" scene. He interacts well with all the characters: Janeway at her icy bitchiest; Neelix among the apples and oranges; Boobie Babe with her helping him. His final scene with Janeway was most touching, as each of them kept reversing roles with each other. And although he didn’t have a big role this week, McNeill’s Paris did a nice job with the scene in sickbay, when the doc has to make The Decision.

Hologram or real life character, I know that I would rather be in this doctor’s hands than many of the HMO types in the real world today!

Questions, Catty Remarks and Other Comments

1. When the EMH is showing Harry the instant replay of his "subatomic" catscan --- did anyone else notice that when the very brief epidermal layer view came into being that it was totally devoid of genitalia? Does this mean that Harry is not "fully functional"? (Maybe he lost it in "Favorite Son"...) Also... later, when we see a similar scan of KJ, it very conveniently has her standing behind a desk, and seems to skip over the entire skin scene altogether!

2. Did Harry really have no knowledge of the surgery that the doctor was questioning... or was he also a part of Voyagergate?

3. Nice comment from the doc to KJ when she’s getting her "physical": "Your endocrine system seems all right" and the look KJ gives him.

4. The symmetry of the two "midnight of the soul" scenes between Janeway and Seven were interesting... even if they did include what’s-her-name. Meow! The day has got to come when these two come to physical blows!

5. When Janeway and Torres come to the sickbay to do the doctor’s reprogramming, the scene played like a death row representation. The tension was so good here --- Janeway as the warden; Torres as the reluctant executioner; the "last word" sequence played out with the missing files; and finally the reprieve. Nicely done by all!

6. Why didn’t the doc let Paris at least try the potential life saving procedure on Ensign Jetal when Paris suggests the doc could "talk me through it"? If the doctor knew that she would die without it anyway, an attempt wouldn’t cost them anything. (Unless Tom does brain surgery like he flies shuttles...)

7. Why does it seem that Janeway is enjoying taunting the doctor about his mistake? Examples... in the playback of the memorial service, she purposefully focuses on the word "memories" when she says "We will keep her in our hearts and memories", and later when she tells the doctor that the alien attack left them with only "one victim", looking at him as if he had been the one who fired the phaser blast that injured Jetal and Harry. Not nice, Mama Kate; you’re supposed to like all your children the same!

8. Wouldn’t it be against Starfleet regulations to tamper with the databanks regarding the incident? The ship’s computer files as well as the doctor’s files were deleted.

9. Starfleet surely teaches its doctors war medicine, where decisions like this have to be made all the time. One would think that such knowledge would be in the doctor’s original program. (Or has he become so human that he questioned the SF programming?)

In conclusion: An episode with an overused theme and some overacting. Too much Borg, not enough "relationship" stuff (who could ever think that a little menage a trois conversation among KJ, the Chakman and Tuvok about a Sumo wrestling event could ever replace the kind of wrestling we would really like to see? Yeah; we know --- Braga is trying to appeal to that young male demographic group again!). Bad hairdos, wrong colors of makeup and costumes on KJ, but a lot of soul-searching about not going gently into that good night. Rating: Six of nine.

Next week: KJ becomes a black widow with the return of Captain Proton...