In the twenty-fourth and penultimate episode of the seventh season of Voyager, the Doctor makes a difficult choice. And then another. And then a thousand more. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.Â
Trigger Warning: For nonconsensual drugging, consent.Â
You know, this is a solid episode, all things considered. I do have an issue with the way this show, like so many other genre shows, deals with consent, but my major problem is due to a different context. This is a strange episode to be placed before the series finale, and I think that it should have been swapped with “Homestead.” By virtue of it sitting before the series finale, its problems feel more glaring than they might have otherwise been.
Let me just say, though, that I’m glad the show put the Doctor in a hectic, terrifying situation, and then had him act in ways that made him seem incredibly human. When he’s kidnapped and controlled by the Hierarchy aliens Nar and Zet, he is faced with one impossible situation after another. Despite being a clever person and despite being programmed with a ridiculous number of tactical scenarios, he still struggles with figuring out what the right decision is. Does he play along with Nar and Zet and then sabotage their plan? How does he get around the fact that they can see and hear absolutely everything that he does? Most importantly, what sort of ethical acrobatics does he do whenever he is forced to impersonate another member of the crew? Or drug them in order to keep them out of the way?
The episode kind of addresses these things, though it completely ignores that gross sequence where Tom kisses who he thinks is B’Elanna, but is actually the Doctor. WHY DO WRITERS ALWAYS PUT WEIRD-ASS SCENES LIKE THIS IN BODY SWAP/IMPERSONATION EPISODES? It’s like they’re compelled to do gross things with people’s bodies! Is there some rule book somewhere that says you have to include scenes like this? Ugh, anyway, nonexistent consent acknowledgement aside, this was a decent mystery that was really fucked up. Look, I’ve loved watching Janeway do that thing she does whenever she’s threatened or forced to make a decision. It’s one of my absolute things in Voyager, and it’s great here!
But… y’all. They’re like 30,000 light years from home, right? I haven’t written much about this because I thought that the writers would deal with this at some point in season seven, but… no? They’re just a year and some change closer to home. There are still a couple decades at least left in their journey. And that’s going to happen in just one episode? Okay, I’ll bite. Let’s say that they somehow find a way to bring Voyager home in a single episode. There’s still a huge problem in this episode: it feels like it could take place at any point in the journey, except maybe the first season. The story doesn’t have any other significance to existing storylines or serialization, and that feels real weird at this point in the season.
Wait, what’s that? Oh, I’m missing that one scene where the Doctor confesses his deepest secrets to everyone because he thinks he’s being decompiled? Oh, are you referring specifically to him declaring his love to Seven of Nine? Maybe even that moment where he says it was hard for him to “avert” his eyes whenever he performed exams on her? (That is fucking gross, OH MY GOD WHY WOULD YOU ADMIT THAT OUT LOUD?) Yeah, I don’t believe that I’m the one who forgot about the scene. I think the writers did.
Because how the fuck are you going to bring that long-simmering plot into the light and then feature none of the repercussions of it? That just seems ridiculous to me, y’all! This is a major character thread for the Doctor! It is brought up in a shocking sequence and then, apparently, immediately forgotten. All we get is a minor expression of surprise from Seven, and that’s it! Nothing else! It is never addressed again! Are they saving it for the finale? Because if there isn’t anything at all, I’m calling bullshit. You can’t have that be a significant force for friction for the Doctor, have him admit to it publicly, and then not show the repercussions of it. That’s just bad storytelling!
Would I be as worried if the series finale wasn’t next? Probably not. I have no problem admitting that. But with just under ninety minutes left in this whole series, this was kind of a terrible lead-in to the finale. Again: “Homestead” would have been way more appropriate.
The video for “Renaissance Man” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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