Voyager 3.4 The Swarm

Subtitle: the cost of holopersonhood


Summary: Voyager has to get through hostile space undetected; meanwhile, The Doctor’s program starts to degrade.

Grade: B, This isn’t a great episode of Voyager but it is an incredibly interesting one. 

Etc. The hostile alien space plot is somewhat secondary to The Doctor’s storyline but does yield some great character bits. 

Janeway and Tuvok clash over Starfleet regulations, and the end result is Janeway completely ignores them. She chooses expediency, sneaking through bug space rather than taking the extra years to play it by the book and go around. They’ve been in the DQ for 2-3 years at this point and I think it’s affected Janeway in two ways. 1) As she explains to Tuvok, she’s adapting to the circumstances, choosing to see Starfleet rules as guidelines due to distance. She started out trying to be the Federation outside of Federation space, but it’s harder every day and she’s decided to compromise. But also 2) being so far away and all alone takes its toll! She doesn’t want to wait 15+ more months, she doesn’t want to tell the crew it will take 15+ more months. She’s tired, she’s lonely, she’s homesick. She always worried about disappointing Starfleet, her superiors, her father, the brass. Now she’s worried about disappointing her crew, all these people, many of whom did not choose to be Starfleet, who are also tired and lonely and homesick. Her choice is practical but mostly emotional, which is why it surprises and confuses Tuvok. 

Tom is a flirt. The episode opens with Tom sussing out if B’Elanna is seeing someone and/or interested in seeing someone (where someone means Tom). S3 is where their relationship, eventually the longest on screen romance in Trek history, starts to pick up and move from these flirtatious exchanges every so often to a more concrete desire to build on the attraction. But then there is the exchange that takes place between Tom and the captain later in the episode. I know I’m biased, but the banter is too similar for me to ignore or handwave. First of all, the captain is legit boasting about her teenage indiscretions (which drives home my point above that Kathryn is rebelling against Starfleet in the same way she rebelled against her parents), and both Chakotay and Tom are visibly charmed by it (ON THE BRIDGE, which also drives home the point that Starfleet regs are falling a bit by the wayside, poor Tuvok). But Chakotay just smiles, Tom presses the issue and straight up asks if they can continue the conversation/flirtation — which, very notably, Harry finds charming of Tom the way Chakotay and Tom found it all so charming of Kathryn. Here is where I say again that I have to believe there is a lot more sex happening on that ship than we ever get to see. 

Don’t mess with Voyager. The aliens beam right onto the bridge as part of their attack and the crew destroys them! First, proving that Tom doesn’t just like-like his captain, he also loves her more than life, he leaps from the con to tackle an alien that threatens him. This is just days after he almost died in the last fight with these aliens. He doesn’t have a phaser, he literally tackles the alien to the floor. And then Janeway shoots it dead. The teamwork is amaze, Tom’s loyalty/heroism/love is amaze. It is all amaze. Chakotay and Tuvok also get to destroy space bugs but Tom’s tackle steals the scene. And it’s a great scene, fun action, everybody working together, keeping calm and fighting back. 

B’Elanna is the smartest person on the ship, confirmed. And the most hardworking. She is a the brains of the operation in both the bug plot and the Doctor plot and I don’t think she sleeps for the whole ep. 

As for The Doctor, this plot barely touches on what The Doctor eventually goes through with regards to his existence. It mostly comes off as a gimmick to have Robert Picardo play two characters. But the Kes stuff is lovely. 

Kes is the poster child for unrealized potential. Kes is 1000% great in this episode, in the Doctor’s corner the whole time, standing up for him and herself, and just jumping in and Getting Stuff Done when it’s clear no one else is available. But none of it really goes anywhere. I know I say this a lot but why is Kes’s role on the ship never made explicit? She’s ‘sort of’ the nurse? Still? Despite saving Tom’s life single handedly? I don’t think Kes needs praise (she’s not in it for that) but it bothers me that no one mentions how capable she is here. She just sort of wanders around solving problems and then it’s done. Though, actually, that describes the whole episode so I guess it’s a thing. 

The Doctor malfunctions because he’s trying to be more real — to add nuance and personality and interests. I love it. And as much as I roll my eyes at Zimmerman, I like the suggestion that he created The Doctor, in his image, to be a more focused, and thus less real, version of himself. That’s really interesting! But we only get the basic idea of it — Z is presented as messy, unfriendly, uncommunicative, with little to no interest in the arts or human relations. He’s surprised that The Doctor has friends and interests, that he cares about losing the years he’s been active (alive). It’s also a really interesting solution to merge the two holograms, but again, the idea is just presented, nothing really changes or happens. 

Surprise ending! The Doctor is saved, and retains enough ‘personality’ to hum…but he’s not the same. Daring, I think.

Finally, who wanted to revisit “Galaxy’s Child”?!

Leah Brahms Deserves Better I can’t bring it up and not address this. In “Booby Trap”, Geordi crosses the line of acceptable holodeck behavior.  He creates the simulation of a real person, who is still alive, who he’s never met, and he kisses it. Then in “Galaxy’s Child” he has wholly unreasonable expectations for his relationship to the real Leah based on his romanticization of her in the holodeck and he gets mad at her when they don’t pan out. To which I say, nope. But what bothers me is that she gets to be outraged about the whole thing only long enough for Geordi to put up a weak apology and then they bond over the whole birthing/weaning/whatever a giant space slug and then in at least one future they end up MARRIED. To which I say, NOPE. 

So. Given that all that is at least problematic and at the end of the day not exactly compelling anyway, why does Voyager wink at it with this episode? It’s much, much better in that Zimmerman created the simulation of himself himself (both of them, even) and that no one flirts with said. Maybe that’s the point? Let’s do this episode over and fix our creepy Geordi mistake? But was anyone clamoring for a Booby Trap/Galaxy’s Child do-over that doesn’t actually address the problems of  Booby Trap/Galaxy’s Child (i.e. Geordi’s behavior and how Leah is totally screwed over)? And it’s not just the holodeck stuff that parallels, they both include a plot about space bugs attaching to the ship! I just … think it’s weird. 

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