VOY: S1E05: “The Cloud”

In which Janeway risks the entire ship to feed her addiction. 

whatshappeningVoyager has been wandering the space-highways for several weeks now, and the psychology of the crew is settling in. Janeway is starting to break down some of the distance Starfleet teaches captains to maintain. So she’s taking a stroll through Engineering and inciting panic by accident. Then joking with Paris and Kim about how terrible Neelix’s cooking is, which is super awkward. Also, she’s out of coffee, and Neelix is attempting to distract her from this problem by hitting on her, scolding her for trying to use a replicator ration on coffee, and giving her hot root paste. As always happens, she’s rescued by some sort of emergency and the Anomaly of the Week.

Today’s contestant is a pretty cool magnitude emitting omicron particles, which could bolster their antimatter reserves, which would allow Janeway to drink coffee. I guess the dilithium crisis wasn’t as pressing as we thought, since they utterly failed to get any last week. Plus it will hopefully serve as a bit of a jolt out of the doldrums for the crew. Voyager didn’t ship out with a counselor, but Chakotays tribal tradition has a solution – hallucinogens and animal guides. Janeway thinks of Chakotay as a bear. I’ll let you unpack that one on your own, but Chakotay offers to help Janeway find her own.

Voyager heads into the cloud, which doesn’t seem to contain anything that could threaten them. Harry is effusive and excited and Tuvok quietly passes him a note from across the bridge to stfu, please. Some dust is drifting toward the ship, and the cloud is gradually solidifying around the ship until it stops the ship completely. They power through, Tuvok is baffled. In the galley, Neelix and Kes have an actually fairly interesting conversation about the Starfleet Explorer mentality. They’re so used to generally being able to outthink anything they come across that the only real threats are other empires, and so they don’t recognize a giant  7-AU-wide space amoeba when they see one. Neelix, meanwhile, is of a culture that knows better than to go poking the unexplored. Kes disagrees.

Some particles in the nebula are now passing through Voyager’s shields and splattering against the hull and draining energy, but the barrier is now solid. Chakotay recommends using some of the 38 photon torpedoes they have on the ship, which are apparently irreplaceable. I would have thought any ship Voyager‘s size would have at least one industrial replicator (for making the shell and guidance systems) and all the parts on file so all they’d need to worry about is an antimatter payload, but apparently they don’t have that capability. Which may suggest they can’t self-repair large sections of hull.

Phasers don’t have much effect on the cell wall… uh, I mean the barrier. Janeway does expend a torpedo, and it gets them through the wall. After some turbulence, Voyager escapes and is even worse off for energy reserves than they were before.

"I've been watching you sleep, but don't worry, I didn't read the titles of any of your books."

“I’ve been watching you sleep, but don’t worry, I didn’t read the titles of any of your books.”

That night, Paris breaks into Kim’s quarters and pulls him out of bed to see something. Also some glib remarks about things he’s learned in prison. Harry counters with “I remember being in my mother’s womb,” and may have just won the creepy-off. It turns out Tom dragged harry out of bed to show off a holodeck program while they’re all in the midst of this power crisis. It’s a pub. The french pub where Paris spent his second semester year and he’s included all of his old girlfriends. Particularly his holo-waifu.  I am becoming increasingly convinced that Tom Paris simply will not be satisfied until he’s arranged himself a quality orgy with him, Harry Kim, and optionally some women.

Paris’ game is Pool, where TNG’s was Poker and DS9’s is alternately raquetball and roulette. There’s some profound insight in there, but I’ve had a lot of beer. While Paris and Kim are playing pool, Torres is working on the samples and goes to talk to the Doctor, breeze past the problems with his personality and some ways to update it and get right to finally figuring out thatHA HA FOOLED YOU SCENE CHANGE. Now Chakotay is showing Janeway his medicine bundle. What is it with this episode?

In modern times, instead of using peyote to go on vision quests, Chakotay has a biofeedback machine that induces an altered state without having to worry about dosages and aftereffects. Janeway’s spirit journey takes her to a beach, and her spirit guide is a newt, when B’Elanna interrupts to tell Janeway what we already know – that this is one of the same space-amoebas that eats planets. Which is cool, but who cares? They left. Now Janeway wants to take them back to see if they hurt it and if they can heal it now that its leaking. The best part of this scene is the Doctor in the background silently agonizing over having been casually muted. So now Voyager is going to go inand spray the cloud with space-neosporin.

“Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth's fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.” ― H.P. Lovecraft

“Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate.”
― H.P. Lovecraft

It’s the right thing to do, but not the smart thing. Neelix is really upset about it, but nobody really cares about his feelings or his ability to catch classic literature references. This time Voyagerhas some countermeasures to employ while they position to fix the damage in the cell wall. Which is when the lightning starts. Sorry, ‘multipolar charges’ which are another immune response. In order to regain control of the ship, they have to vent all their deuterium, which they can’t afford to lose.

Now that they know it’s a creature, Chakotay uses his Wilderness and Survival Lore to decide that Voyager can surf the creature’s bloodstream and refuel from it while they move towards the exit. Because sure why not. Speaking of ‘because why not’ Neelix shows up with some hors d’oeuvres to coronate himself as the brand new morale officer.

Either Torres or this show's VFX department have no idea what the world 'prallel' means.

Either Torres or this show’s VFX department have no idea what the world ‘parallel’ means.

The beams aren’t working all that well, so the Doctor suggests using Voyager as a graft to help suture the wound closed, based on the fact that both the ship and the creature use omicron particles for power. Look, you know how sometimes you say ‘makes sense in context?’ Not this time. Either way, they distract the creature with a probe  and move she ship into position, and once again the VFX department didn’t read the script.

Either way, they heal the critter up and escape again, having utterly failed to replentish their energy reserves. Now they have to go way out of their way to get some more, but the good news is that Paris’ holodeck program seems to be the right perscription to get rank boundaries to relax everyone a little. Janeway will not have that bittersweet moment at the end of All Good Things where she laments not being close with her staff. Instead, she’ll hustle them all at pool.

Did we miss something awesome?