In the seventh episode of the seventh season of Voyager, Seven gets creative when she must quickly deal with a race who hate holograms. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For extended discussion of consent and queerbaiting/homophobia.
Oh, this could have been so good. This could have been the exception to the rule! And as a rule, I tend to hate body swap episodes. It seems no writer can go without writing creepy shit into their scripts that goes largely goes unnoticed by the text. But “Body and Soul” showed promise, and that’s what kills me about this. The show gets halfway there, and then abandons everything in the name of humor and plot.
This episode is unique because the Doctor and Seven don’t switch bodies. Instead, Seven makes a split-second decision: as the Lokirrin close in on the Delta Flyer, Seven transfers the Doctor’s program to her implants. (Basically? I was a bit confused as to the logistics.) It’s here that the writers make the first terrible decision, though we don’t realize it until later. That’s why I was so thrilled and entertained at first! I thought that the Doctor and Seven just shared a consciousness, that they were both existing within her body and making decisions together. That would certainly have made this less icky. However, after Harry and Seven are detained, we find out that the Doctor has total control of Seven… WHO MUST SIT IN HER OWN BODY AS A PASSENGER. Her consciousness can’t assert itself or make any decisions. That is horrifying, y’all, and it changes the context of the humor we see in the opening scenes.
And then, for a moment, the show acknowledges it. Seven vocalizes her disgust with the Doctor and calls it abuse, and I was genuinely shocked. Y’all know if you’ve been following me for a while just how rare this is! I started wondering how far they would take this, since it provided a great example of how people misinterpret consent. When Seven allows the Doctor back into her body, she may be consenting to that act, but it doesn’t mean she consents to everything he does within her. That’s why she complained about him overeating and drinking synthihol; he doesn’t have to deal with the ramifications of that. SHE does.
Most of the grossness around consent could have been dealt with if the writers had not decided to give Seven a backseat experience within her body. If she and the Doctor had to work together, at least then, she’d have agency. Instead, the Doctor barely seems aware of the fact that he’s in someone else’s body. He’s too busy enjoying the whole experience that Seven’s concerns and issues aren’t on his radar. (Of course, he’s very aware of the body he is in when he experiences attraction to someone, but I’ll get there, y’all. This is a mess.) This is not how you do consent! You can’t have a character bring up their objections to this phenomenon unless you’re going to commit to them, and by gods, this script does not commit to respecting Seven’s body. On top of it all: this show put the Doctor inside the body of the woman he has a crush on. By the end of “Body and Soul,” this one detail disturbed me more than anything. That just feels wrong.
Oh, I’m not done.
The lengths straight people will go to confirm that everyone is straight EVEN THOUGH WE ARE LITERALLY IN ANOTHER QUADRANT OF THE GALAXY just astounds me. The only time the Doctor ever comes off as 100% aware he has taken over Seven’s body is when Captain Ranek hits on Seven. Or when he develops a crush on Lt. Jaryn. The Doctor is disgusted by Ranek because Ranek was inappropriate, but you know he was upset because a dude was hitting on him. That whole gay panic thing is undeniably a part of it! Because how dare a HOLOGRAM be ANYTHING BUT STRAIGHT. Apparently, hundreds of years into the future, the world has no oppression but holograms are programmed to be repulsed by homosexuality. Are you also telling me that every species in the galaxy abides by a gender and sexuality binary? That everyone is straight? EVEN LT. JARYN’S BROTHER? Oh my god, THERE COULD HAVE BEEN A MOMENT THERE WHERE SHE COULD HAVE REVEALED THAT THE DOCTOR’S GENDER DIDN’T MATTER, but no, the show has to assure all of us that NO HOMO. No one’s gay or bi or pan or questioning… nope. All straight. Do you feel better about that? I don’t know about y’all, but there’s an extra spring in my step knowing that Lt. Jaryn’s brother won’t be interested in the Doctor because he’s not Seven of Nine.
I feel like it goes without saying that the best part of this whole episode is Jeri Ryan, but maybe I do need to confirm that. She’s an incredible actress, and her mimicry of Robert Picardo as the Doctor is otherworldly. Thanks for saving an otherwise creepy episode, Jeri Ryan.
Gods, y’all, I LITERALLY BEGGED THIS EPISODE TO NOT BE CREEPY IN THE VIDEO, WHAT HAVE I DONE. (Insert crying emojis here.) (Wait, do those show up in WordPress???) (😭😭😭😭😭😭) (EVERYONE I CAN USE EMOJIS IN WORDPRESS, MY WRITING HAS CHANGED FOREVERMORE.)
The video for “Body and Soul” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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