Part I of II: The Summary

The episode opens to knocking at a door and Reg Barclay nervously tidying a gorgeous house, yelling "I'm coming". He finally opens the door and it's Deanna! Reg stares at her, not moving, and she asks, rather humorously, if she can come it. Reg lets her in and offers her refreshments. More humor as she selects ice cream and he continues to simply stand there. Same old Reg. After they are seated, Deanna places her ice cream on the coffee table and a white cat jumps on the table to sample the treat. Reg paternally scolds the cat, whose name is Neelix.

Reg tells Deanna that he was working on the Pathfinder project but… and in a rush of words, confuses Troi, more than explains. She asks him to start at the beginning. Reg tells her that he has lost himself. That he has become obsessed.

It all started with Voyager and the holodeck. Barclay was running a simulation related to Voyager. His friend and commander, Pete Harkins comes to him and asks him if he has finished some diagnostics that are due the next day. Of course, Reg has not. Reg mentions that he mixed up his days and that he has been getting his ideas together. He would like to brief Admiral Paris on his own idea. Reg explains to Commander Harkins that there is a class B pulsar that will pass close to the Midas Array. If they direct a tachyon bean at it, it could produce an artificial wormhole and allow them to communicate with Voyager and for Voyager to be able to return the messages - unlike the current project. Harkins doesn't want Reg to speak to Paris and does not take him seriously. But Reg, being Reg, does not give up. Harkins then extends an invitation to his home to hang out and to meet his sister-in-law, once the diagnostics are complete. Reg begs off, saying he has to spend time with Neelix.

But, in reality, Reg wants to strengthen his case for Admiral Paris. He can't sleep and needs an inspiration, so he heads toward the holodeck. He requests, from the ship's computer, holoprogram "Barclay11-gamma-messhall" (indicating that there are a ton of these programs!). The Voyager crew appears and Reg plays poker with Tom, B'Elanna, Chakotay, and Harry. B'Elanna and Chakotay are dressed in Maquis uniform, rather than the standard 'Fleet uniform. Reg then goes to the holo-sickbay, where he gets a massage from the EMH. Reg tells the doc that he's worried about the project and the doctor responds that the captain should do something, as Reg is one of the most important members of the crew. Reg leaves sickbay and goes to his holo-quarters, where he sleeps MUCH better.

The next morning, back in the real world, Commander Harkins is briefing Admiral Paris about the Pathfinder project. They have found a way to pinpoint Voyager's approximate location and using the Midas array, will be able to send messages in hyper-subspace. It would take a few days for the messages to reach Voyager, but Voyager could not return any message. Reg interrupts! Pete tries to stop him, but Reg very incoherently tries to explain his ideas to Admiral Paris. The Admiral finally figures out exactly what Reg is trying to say. He asks Pete if the idea has merit and it's obvious that Commander Harkins has no faith in Reg's idea. Pete forces Reg to take the rest of the day off. Instead, Barclay goes to the holodeck (Deanna injects at this point that she thinks this is holo-addiction resurfacing). Reg attends a holo-Voyager staff meeting and discusses his ideas to create a micro-wormhole, which would make sending the messages easier. Reg then goes to holo-engineering and plays catch with Chakotay while running ideas passed him and B'Elanna. Reg is caught in this activity by Pete. Reg confesses he's been in the holodeck for more than ten hours. Commander Harkins thinks that Reg has the holo-addiction again and really does not take his ideas about communicating with Voyager seriously. He takes Reg off of the project and won't let him back in the hologrid. Reg, the next morning, goes to see Admiral Paris. He describes his theory and tells the Admiral that he just wants to be given a chance to try this. The Admiral is disturbed by the whole incident, including the amount of time Reg is spending with holo-Tom, but will review Reg's findings and if they are valid, will instruct Harkins to pursue.

Reg then confesses to Deanna that he wants her to contact Admiral Paris and tell him that Reg is fit to go back to work. Deanna, of course, doesn't really think he is. Reg tells Deanna that Voyager is all he has left. When he left the Enterprise, he left his family, so he created a new one. Deanna decides to ask Captain Picard for a leave of absence and stay on with Reg to see if she can help him make friends and get a handle on things.

Barclay breaks into the lab and activates the array. He sets his plan in motion and creates the wormhole. Pete catches him and Reg transfers controls to the holodeck and dodges in. While scurrying around to avoid the security trying to stop him, Reg tries different trajectories for the wormhole, hoping one will find Voyager. Reg gets trapped by security and by Pete on the holo-bridge. Reg ends the program and is escorted through the lab.

Meanwhile on Voyager, Seven detects a micro-wormhole and a message coming through it. On the bridge, you can hear Reg's voice, asking Voyager to "come in, please come it". Kathryn sends a message back.

As Pete and Reg are walking through the lab, they hear Kathryn's voice. Pete lets Reg "answer" the message and they begin communicating with Voyager. They don't have much time, so Kathryn transmits Voyager's logs and Reg sends back some modifications and other information to Voyager. Admiral Paris also speaks to her and tells her to tell Tom that he misses him. Tom hears, of course, but doesn't respond back. Reg seems disappointed because "it's all over", but as Admiral Paris reminds him, "Project Voyager is just beginning", thanks to Reg.

On Voyager, the crew toasts the newest member of their family: Reg Barclay.

Finally, Reg seems more happy and adjust as he is sitting with Deanna on his couch. He says that he doesn't think that Pete is happy that Reg is dating his sister-in-law. Deanna wants "all the details".

Part II of II: The Review

After watching Voyager, it's finally occurred to me what's wrong. It's not Boobie (ok, it partially is), it's not the bad plots (ok, partially that too). It's the characters. We are so used to the richly texture characters of TNG, that these Voyager characters seem like paper dolls. Where they do have substance, it's uneven. Or it lacks consistency. It's rather like becoming used to a thick cut of filet mignon accompanied by a dark, rich red wine and then having to make a meal out of a rice cake. It's just not possible. And that is exactly what has been done to the fans. We had those wonderful TNG characters, with there personas. And then, with Voyager, we were force-fed little more than air. Is it any wonder that the ratings are so poor?

Ok, now that the rant is out of my system…on with the review. EXCELLENT episode. I heard more than a few people say that the reason this episode was so great is that Voyager wasn't really in it. Unfortunately, I think they are right. We had a peek at a very well created, and very familiar, universe - one that we don't get to see any more, except in rerun. And the peek was excellent. I'm a more than a little mystified about how the writers that churn out the sub-par crap called Voyager were able to write this gem.

The little details and consistency really made this episode so wonderful. Tom had two pips, indicating he was a Lt. There was no Seven (the real reason Cilla loved this episode is revealed!!) Holo-Voyager's crew all had first and second season hair (except Tom, who lost first and second season hair!) and the old Maquis crew were dressed in their Maquis clothes, not Starfleet uniforms - which is what the crew files that were sent back to Earth in "Letters From Home" or "Message in a Bottle" would reflect. It would have been nice had they managed to work in a clip of Kes walking down the hall or in sickbay, but you can't have everything. Back on Earth, Deanna mentions not only Geordi and Data, but Captain Picard and Spot! And Admiral Paris had an old picture of Tom on his desk. I think it looked VERY old - older than Voyager itself, which makes me think it's from the TNG episode that the Robert Duncan McNeill was in. Another little element was the cat named Neelix. This really helped emphasize Reg's obsession with Voyager. Maybe Deanna didn't recognize where the name came from, but we obviously did. These little touches really added quite a bit to this episode.

The Voyager actors also did a great job with portraying themselves - but slightly off. It's all the familiar faces, but…not quite right Ok, Beltran does this weekly, but you know what I mean. Torres was actually a very sweet girl, which we know couldn't be farther from the truth. Harry and Tom, during their poker game, were closer to character, but still not quite right. They were obviously slightly in awe of Reg, which lent to the theory that Reg was becoming holo-addicted again. The way Reg strode about with his holo-friends was an amazing piece of acting. The character was so confident when alone and so bumbling and incoherent when not. That, too, led us to believe that perhaps his theory was not going to work. Maybe Pete was right and this was just another case of Reg's holo-addiction. Great acting job all the way around. I also liked how the EMH didn't have his holo-emitter and didn't sing or do anything other than practice medicine. Very consistent.

The build-up in pace of this episode was very un-Voyager-like. Meaning - it was very good. It didn't drag out for 40 minutes and then rush to finish in the last three minutes. It had a nice and steady build up of the drama, raising questions with the viewer. Was Reg unstable? Would his theory work? What was really going on here? Very well done.

Kathryn, please bring back the bun. Or do something with the hair. She looked so pretty with it up. BUT, when her hair was down, it looked like a WalMart BlueLight Special Halloween Wig. Not a good look. And Deanna had on more girdles than my grandmother. Wow! She looked great, but I wonder if she is just tremendously out of shape. They looked like they were going all the way down to almost her knees. She maybe be overindulging in the crumpets and tea. I also noticed [insert Cilla's wicked cackle here] that Seven seemed to have a slight pot belly. I watched this clip of her in astrometrics about eight times, so I am sure of what I saw. :-) And speaking of her in astrometrics, why was that necessary? Singing lessons with Neelix? Sure, it was funny that Neelix thought he sang good in the shower, but what was that for? Do we have to show Seven's ass in every single episode? Of course we do. Takes our minds off of the shoddy plot. But in this episode, entirely unnecessary.

As always, there were a few issues. It wouldn't be Voyager without them, now would it?

1. How was Barclay and the team able to pinpoint the location of Voyager based on where they were two years ago? With all that has happened, how could they expect to find them??? And how did they???
2. I believe that holo-Tuvok's rank was wrong. Shouldn't he have just been a Lt.?
3. If Barclay would know that Tom was a Lt. and that the mess hall was the mess hall and not the Captain's dining room, then why did he not know that Chakotay was a Commander and that all the crew was in uniform?? Odd information being transmitted in Letters From Home and Message in a Bottle.
4. Different Admiral Paris from the one in " Persistence of Vision". Can't have everything, I guess.
5. Didn't Barclay help design the EMH? Why was that not mentioned at the end?
6. Why didn't Tom say anything to his Dad at the end? I'm sorry, but if I was that far from home, protocol wouldn't keep me from speaking with family or friends.

Rating: All in all, this was a superb episode. No J/C, but hardly any Seven either. I give this an eight out of nine!