Return your seat to its upright position, fasten tray tables and safety belts -- we are in for a bumpy ride.

Section I: The Summary

Story B was a GSL (generic story line) about the complexities of first contact. This particular GSL reminded me of a TNG episode involving three members of a new species -- one trying to evoke anger in Worf, one eating sweets with Deanna, and the third attempting to deceive Picard into falling in love with her (him). I find it quite difficult to believe that the diligent writers of Voyager would steal a story line from Voyager's predecessor. How unlike them! :::snerk:::

Anyway, Ambassador Neelix is given the responsibility of showing a member of the Coti what life is like on Voyager, while still helping the delegate adhere to strict Coti rules. Captain Janeway is with another representative on the Coti home planet -- working on negotiations for that ever dwindling supply of essentials. On board, the delegate discovers wine, women, and song with a vengeance and completely abandons his on way of life.

Story A began as social lessons for Seven, who was following Tom and B'Elanna around Voyager in an attempt to observe their romance. B'Elanna catches Seven hovering around at the mess hall and discovers that she had been tailing our love struck couple. B'Elanna threatens Seven with bodily injury (my personal favorite part of this episode).

The doctor prepares a lesson plan for Seven, working on social and dating skills. He begins by showing Seven a slide show of "First Contact". (NO! Riker isn't in this one. Damn it.) Seven assures the doctor that she knows all the technicalities of mating (I'll bet she does!), so the Doctor proceeds to take her to Sandrine's (nice to see that bar again. Brings back some wonderful fanfic memories!). She and the EMH practice social skills with a scripted dialogue. As an extra aid, the doctor watches as Seven practices her new skills (minds out of the gutter!) on a holoman. Tom joins the two jet setters in Sandrine's and he and the EMH wager that Seven can't get a date, go with the date to the diplomatic reception, leave with the same date, and not cause a diplomatic incident.

Seven and the EMH continue their lessons and sing a lovely duet of "You are My Sunshine" (what have I done to deserve this?). After narrowing down her choices to two crewmen, Seven decides to ask Lt. Chapman to join her for dinner. They both have a terrible time and the awkward date ends with Seven ripping the ligaments in Chapman's shoulder while attempting to dance. The doctor, observing from the piano, comforts Seven by dancing with her. Seven and the doctor decide to go to the diplomatic reception together. At this point, it is obvious that the Doctor's feelings have grown beyond the mentor/protegee stage. At the reception, Seven utilizes the doctor's lessons and makes a lovely toast, shocking everyone (including Cilla). She discovers the wager made by the Doctor and Tom and is immediately hurt. The Doctor attempts to explain, but she leaves in a huff.

The Doctor gives Seven roses and begins to tell her of his feelings for her -- but (thank GOD) it's all just the holodeck. The Doctor is practicing what he will say to Seven. He is interrupted by none other than Seven herself, who gives the Doctor a gift. Her way of thanking him for his help, but since there is no one aboard Voyager that is suitable for a mate for her, she no longer needs his assistance. As Tom warned the doctor, in the holodeck you don't take into account what might happen in the real world.

Section II: The Review

I can't fathom that the one believable character left on Voyager, the one actor that acts rather than mugs for the camera, the one person who delivers his lines with respect rather than treat them like the trite drivel they are-- I can't believe that the Doctor thinks himself in love with Nipples are on a stick and those swollen lips that look like she has been sucking harder than Monica. I need an aspirin. Or four. Oh hell, give me the bottle.

The only thing more incomprehensible was the fact that I think Seven's slut suit was actually tighter this week. How does Jeri Boob Ryan go to the bathroom in that? I think I could count pubic hairs. Even her "casual clothing" was atrocious, with the one side dropping down to emphasize the jut of her padded breast. Are TPTB incapable of putting actual clothing on this woman that doesn't thrust her boobs in my face? Not only was I treated to a saccharine and distorted version of the Kira and Odo love story, but I had to listen to Seven sing. I thought I was going to go into sugar shock! What will they subject me to next?

Well, actually…I have an idea. What if they subject me to good acting in an episode, instead of the monstrous load of crap that I am spoon fed each week? From Harry's over eager, ingenue-going-on-thirty presentation to Chak's wooden-I'm-to-sexy-for-this-garbage delivery to Tom's "I maybe bald and fat, but I'm still a bad boy" -- well, let's just say that they are going to need a whole lot more than Rick Berman's cookie cutout idea of a what a woman should be strutting around in spandex, posing and thrusting for the camera. I propose a name change of the series. Instead of just one episode with this name, the entire series should be named Star Trek: Forgettable. If I were either Ethan Phillips or Robert Picardo, I would be so embarrassed that my name was attached to this pre-packaged child's cereal with a toy Barbie inside.

Enough ranting -- the parts I enjoyed in this episode were….ummm…..well…OH! I KNOW! Chakotay had four lines. Always a good thing when one wants some semblance of a decent episode.

Ok, now that all of that is out of my system…there were really quite a few nice scenes. It was lovely seeing Tom and B'Elanna again. I wasn't quite sure what the status of their relationship was. It gets a little hard to tell when TPTB and Rick Berman have set the "re-set" button again. And I think that Ms. Dawson is a credible actress and I would enjoy seeing her get a bit more screen time. Not as the other half of Tom Paris, as the Trek writers tend to do to women. They are either someone's mom, someone's wife, or someone's girlfriend. Rarely are they just themselves and standing on their own merit. Remember the episode back when Voyager was interesting (yes, I know. But * try * to remember) and B'Elanna was split into two people, one human and one Klingon? She was marvelous. It would be great to see her get that kind of screen time again without Tom.

Speaking of Tom, I thought he was very…generic this week. Anyone could have played his role. Tom wasn't actually needed for anything. You could have stuck B'Elanna, Neelix, the Captain (except she doesn't wager, does she?) or anyone else in that role and it would have worked just as well. I think this is the main complaint of Voyager -- too much pre-made cookie dough and not enough of the real stuff.

I wonder why the Captain wasn't in this episode? Could this be related to Ms. Mulgrew's then impending marriage? As I already mentioned, hardly any Robert Beltran this week. Aw shucks. Even though there was no J/C -- at least I wasn't tortured by the sight of Beltran trying to dimple his way out of acting.

Thought, observations, and other catty comments:

1. Why did Neelix give the delegate coffee to sober him up? We know NOW that doesn't work and this is how far in the future???
2. The doctor is creating images of Seven in the holodeck? Isn't there some sort of Barkley law about this???
3. Officially, there were 147 people on board. Doesn't this change from week to week? I did some research on the web and the last stated count is 143. Where did the rest come from?
4. The next time you simulate singing, Boobie, you might actually want to sing so that your throat moves. Duh.
5. I'm a little confused on why the good doctor needed some nanoprobes from Seven to aid the Coti in becoming detoxicated. Seven, just several episodes ago, couldn't drink ONE glass of champagne, but her nanoprobes will help someone else sober up? That doesn't even make sense.
6. Where was Tuvok??? I mean, I know he was on the planet, but if you are going to have an episode of this dismal quality, at least have your good actors there to help it from sinking like the Titanic (I can suddenly hear Celine in the background…"every night, in my dreams, I see you…")

Rating: overall, I thought this episode one big stupid, sloppy, inane, boring, absurd, ridiculous vomit fest. And no J/C. I give this a two out of nine. Actually, a three. Having hardly any Chakotay definitely earns a point.