Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S07E18 – Human Error

In the eighteenth episode of the seventh season of Voyager, MY FEELINGS. HELP ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

My god, I am crushed.

If there is not an episode in the (short) run of this show that addresses the end of this episode, I’m gonna be furious. “Human Error” produces the most monumental growth in Seven of Nine, all of it unfolding over a mere forty minutes. It’s jarring to watch, and not just because the show tricks us into thinking a holodeck simulation is reality at first. Out of curiosity, Seven develops a program to attempt to socialize more with the crew, which moves from attending B’Elanna’s baby shower to…

Well, I’ll get there. Again, as shocking as the start of this episode is, it represents a very sensical next-step for Seven. Why? Because her attempt to learn more about her humanity is done on her own. She doesn’t seek out the Doctor; she doesn’t ask Janeway for advice. She designs a program that allows her to explore human interaction without the pressure of testing it on her actual crew members. Honestly, it’s a brilliant idea because it makes it easier for Seven to let down her natural defenses and be “herself,” or at least as close to who she is without all the social pressures and anxieties that have inhibited her prior to this. I mean… this is her! This is who she is!

And my gods, it is so incredible to see. Jeri Ryan straddles the line between a more comfortable version of her character while still retaining many of the mannerisms and quirks we recognize of her. She’s able to crack jokes casually; she reciprocates compliments; she explores what it is like to have her own quarters. This may be a fantasy of sorts, but it’s one rooted in a conflict that is something Seven must truly contend with. How does she begin to make this fantasy a reality? Well, there’s that scene where she presents B’Elanna with a belated baby shower gift, which she follows up with an attempt to find out what B’Elanna does with her hair. Of course, the moment is awkward because of how Seven phrases everything; she still sounds very exacting and clinical. But it’s uncomfortable mostly because B’Elanna doesn’t expect it; the behavior seems strange, but only because it’s from Seven.

And then there’s the romance. Look, I’m as shocked as any of you by what happened in this episode. I’m still reeling from it, y’all! Seven had at least tried a whole lot of socializing in past episodes, but the romance – particularly the level of it here – felt so new. Yet it felt right. I mean, yes, there’s the weirdness of her choosing Chakotay and programming a version of him that is attracted to her, and I kind of feel like the episode skirts over outright acknowledging that. (And by god, can we NOT with that whole dreamcatcher thing? I can’t claim to speak for any Native groups or tribes, y’all, but even I know that you can’t just call a dreamcatcher a “Native American” thing. WHICH GROUP? YOU HAVE TO BE SPECIFIC.)

I guess I have a new ship, though (I have so many for this show), because HOLY CHEMISTRY. Seven eases herself into the concept of dating, first by inviting Chakotay over, then cooking for him in the most UNFAIR sequence imaginable. JESUS, CUTTING CARROTS IS EROTIC NOW, HELP ME. What’s so ultimately devastating about this is that Seven comes to understand the complications of positive emotions. She learns how having a personal life can be distracting. It’s not easy to balance that with professional concerns! But in those personal moments, she experiences a joy that she has never felt. It is incredible to watch, which is why it hurts so much when the big scene at the end of the episode takes this away from her. Her cortical node was built to specifically counteract a drone experiencing intense emotions, which is an important step towards individuality. I mean, I have to accept that she chose not to pursue the surgery that could have removed this node. She wanted to focus on her duties over learning how to be more human. Still, it hurt so MUCH. SEVEN GREW A GREAT DEAL IN THIS EPISODE, and it’s all for… well, it’s not for nothing, I suppose. There’s still the chance that this will all mean something for her later. Ugh, WHY DID THIS FEEL SO BLEAK, STOP HURTING ME, VOYAGER.

The video for “Human Error” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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