Part I of II: The Summary

The episode opens with the Doc singing (again! what a surprise) an opera to an enraptured crew. Tuvok becomes so moved by the Doctor's glorious voice that he begins to sob, laugh, and then grimace. He is going through Pon Farr! The Doctor, not missing a beat or a phrase of his opera, instructs Tom to grab a hypo spray so that he can inject Tuvok in "his behind". The crew, paying no attention to a slumped Tuvok, applauds the Doctor's amazing opera and his bravery and… B'Elanna calls the Doctor's name. He is daydreaming! Torres tells the doctor that she is handing out away team assignments to the planet that Voyager is orbiting and he isn't needed after all. The Doctor is visibly disappointed, but doesn't struggle with her much. He does, however, file a formal grievance with the Captain. He is protesting the rudeness with which he is treated . He would also like to expand his role on Voyager and to become the ECH -- Emergency Command Hologram. In the case of a catastrophe and the chain of command was broken, the Doctor would step in and take over. The Captain says no to his proposal.

Meanwhile, Voyager passes a gaseous cloud. It appears to be nothing, but inside - unbeknownst to the crew - is a starship doing rogue surveillance of all passing ships. This deceptively cute race scans passing ships to look for easy targets to raid and obtain (steal) their needed materials. One of the aliens has marked Voyager as an unacceptable risk, but another alien - a worker bee of sorts - feels that he can go through a conduit on Voyager and better scan the ship to see what kind of attack they can use.

In a staff meeting, all of the female bridge officers come on to the doctor, including the Captain, in a hideous scene that I can not bear to recount. Just envision Seven, B'Elanna, and Kathryn all drawing their claws and become possessive of the Doctor. Too icky. I can't even think about the Captain placing the Doctor's hand on her bottom. I have chills.

Once the Captain turns down the EMH's proposal for ECH, he daydreams a congratulations party for his acceptance as the ECH and only then do we learn that the aliens have tapped into what they think is the Doctor's daily activities. But instead, it's his daydreams. These aliens get a very different picture of life aboard Voyager. They watch the Borg attach Voyager, but the ECH saves the day, using the photonic cannon, developed (naturally) by the Doctor himself and… the Doctor realizes he is being spoken to, and he is indeed on the bridge, but is monitoring the life signs of the away team not saving the ship.

The Doctor leaves the bridge and his approached by Chakotay who congratulates him on saving the ship from the Borg. Only the Doctor is NOT daydreaming. Something has gone wrong! He turns to the Captain for help and Torres discovers that in altering his program to allow for daydreams, his matrix becomes unstabilized. They watch the Doctor's daydreams to find a way to stabilize his matrix and use on of his most frequent daydreams - that of ECH - to stabilize the matrix.

The little work bee alien uses the Doc's daydreams to contact him and the Doc begins to daydream yet again. The alien tells him that Voyager is about to be attacked, but because he has been watching the EMH's daydreams (and has realized they are daydreams and not reality) he has gotten to know him and doesn't want him to be hurt. The alien gives the doctor the codes for viewing the cloaked ships about to attack and tells him the attack procedure.

The Doctor gives this information to the Captain, who is skeptical until she sees there are indeed cloaked ships out there, ready to attack. The doctor must pretend that he is the Captain, in order to save the little alien's job since he had reported that the Doc was in charge of Voyager. In a rather shaky attempt at playing Captain, the doctor is able to fend off the aliens. There is a real congratulations party for him, where he receives a medal of valor and a kiss on the cheek from Seven.

Part II of II: The Review

I am sure I would have liked this episode a lot better had I not seen "American Beauty" right before it. To go from a thinking film rich with symbols and irony to…this… was rather painful. I could have done without the embarrassing singing (although the lines of the song were funny) at the beginning. I liked the idea of what this episode was about, but I thought the delivery was horrible. The Doctor's acting, as always, saved the episode.

Parts of this episode were very valid. I enjoyed the whole idea of the doctor wanting to be more and do more for himself and the ship. He is taken so for granted as just a piece of the ship. When Torres discovered there was something wrong with him, she and Harry thought nothing of looking at his daydreams to find out what was wrong. Perhaps that was the only way to fix things, but they seem too callous about it. As though it didn't matter. And even the doctor needs to be the hero of his own life, the hero of his own story. He clearly wasn't, so he invented a life for himself where he was. One of my favorite scenes was at the end when the Captain was watching the Doctor's fantasy congratulations party. Imaginary EMH told Imaginary Captain that he only wanted to help the people that he loved. The Captain (the real one) finally got to see his motivation and maybe she was able to see him as a member of the crew and a real person, as opposed to just another part of the ship. Whatever it was that she saw in him, it sparked her compassion enough to allow a research project to look into expanding the doctor's program.

The other part of this episode that I loved was the "everyman" alien. He was just an average guy, who really identified with this other average guy who was trying to be so much more than that. The alien, through his job, was struggling to stand out and to be the hero and he could see the Doctor's struggle as well. The alien wasn't capable of the level of Doc's dreams and fantasies, but recognized their validity. He saved the Doctor and in doing so, saved himself. His plan to ward off the attack to Voyager made he and the Doctor heroes.

As far as the Doctor's fantasies went, I loved ECH Man. The way those pips popped out on his collar, after the blue part turned red was hilarious. I wonder, though, if that was an after thought. I thought they looked horribly fake - like they added those in editing.

I have decided that we should just tie Seven to the nearest chair and strip her down so that everyone can look to their heart’s contents and then maybe, just maybe, we can get back to decent writing and good episodes. Sheeesh! Was that really necessary?? I don't mind the Titanic ripoff, but why Seven and why did she have to be almost naked? Please! I can only take so much of this. One day, TPTB will realize that Nipples on a Stick is not a substitute for a decent episode. (Although, with the recent rise in pro-wrestling, perhaps it is.)

Why did Captain Janeway and Torres use a force field to restrain the doctor in sickbay? Any other time, he just walks right through it. Why couldn't he this time? And why, at the end did Seven walk around the Doctor after giving him a kiss? That looked so weird. Did we really have to see her breasts one more time? Is there some sort of quota for each week?

Rating: There really isn't that much to say about this episode. I watched this episode three times now and there is just not that much there. Cute little Michelin Man aliens, naked Seven, singing in the beginning. It was amusing in spots, stupid and embarrassing in others. I would give this episode a 5, but I had to see a half naked Seven AND there was NO J/C at all. Not even a spark of anything. So…I give this crap a 3.5 of 9. I certainly hope that next week is better.