In which Janeway wastes time, The Doctor picks a name, and Harry Kim is technically in this episode too.
You know what? I’m just going to stop making note of the ship being sublight. Just assume, until further notice, that Voyager is sublight regardless of whether or not they’re actually investigating anything in specific. Anyway, here we are near a star to check out a protostar, because that’s a threshold about what you want to stop for. They beam some star matter over into some containment fields, and Janeway teaches Torres how to do her job. In theory this stuff could boost Voyager‘s efficiency, so Janeway tries to pull Harry off his leisure time to help, but Harry is gone from the ship. He didn’t transport off or take a shuttle, but he has some holodeck time scheduled. Oh, and before I forget, Janeway got a haircut. The bun made her look like a radish.
Anyway, the holodeck is malfunctioning and won’t shut down and, as usual, it’s impossible to pull the plug or otherwise power it off manually. The only option is to go in. Tuvok and Chakotay find a forest at night, in a program based on Beowulf, at which point they are arrested by a shieldmaiden. With the command systems off and the safeties no more likely, they decide to play along. Presumably Harry was playing Beowulf in this novel, and he’s apparently dead. Womp womp. Guess they’re just going to avenge his death then. They don’t even have a body, since Grendel leaves no traces.
Upon getting themselves assigned to sentry duty, Chakotay and Torres report in to distress everyone about Harry’s probable demise and then discuss comparative mythology. The bridge science station, in this case Mission Ops, is reviewing the tricorder data and examining the telemetry, and they’ve found photonic energy (also know as ‘light’) in the holodck. Torres looks almost as fed up with Janeway’s surprise by this as I am. Best guess is that the stellar matter leaked out of the transporter system and into other related systems, like the replicators and holodeck. Pro tip: For the duration of this mission, don’t order anything hot. And somehow we get from here to ‘Harry was probably converted into energy.’ Okay, sure.
It’s about time for Grendel to show up, in this case as a 1-meter object making Shrieking-Eels noises and glowing through the doorway. Now Chakotay and Tuvok are gone as well, dematerialized by a bug in the program. Someone invited Paris to this conference, and I’m not sure why, because if he’s the best science officer they have the ship is in a whole lot of trouble. His plan is ‘maybe beam them back in. We should feed more people to Grendel, and it should be The Doctor.’ Which, to be fair, at least the Doctor isn’t actually matter and can’t be converted. In so doing,they also have to jury-rig a system to transfer his program out of the Sick Bay systems, which they might later be able to use to transfer him to anywhere else they can set up holo-emitters in case of on-site emergencies. They’re also giving him Kitty Pryde powers. Now the real question is, if Tom is wrong and the Doctor can be… let’s call it ‘killed’ for the sake of argument… does he have a recent backup, will he revert to default settings, or will the program just be gone?
He starts reading up on Beowulf, using text-on-screen for some reason rather than just absorbing it. This really only serves to let Kes interrupt and council him about his nervousness regarding the upcoming mission. And suggest he pick a name already.
The Doctor gets transferred to the holodeck and, after taking a moment to enjoy the smell of the forest, starts immersing himself into the story. He also gives his name as Schweitzer. It doesn’t really fit, but Freya seems to like it.
The Doctor experiences much the same resistance as Chakotay and Tuvok did, and Hrothgar’s belligerent guard duels him to make him prove his worth, and Dorctor Schwitzer uses sorcerous powers to make himself immune to the blade and the dumb guard break his fingers, and twenty minues after getting a name, the Doctor has people cheering it.
Midnight is just about here, and Freya stays up to talk with the Doctor about their fears, and the ending of her world, and they… bond… over being alone in a crowd. When she leaves, Grendel shows up as a brilliant knot of energy in the same shape as the stellar core samples we saw earlier, and it takes off his arm before Paris can transfer him out.
Of course, as a hologram, he can just get it rebuilt. The even better news is that there appears to be a brainwave pattern, probably belonging to Harry, Chakoray, or Tuvok, or the star is sentient, unless the writers are just misusing words again. When they try to reproduce the pattern in a sample (copying a mind into a piece of stellar debris has to have gnarly ethical implications) the sample breaks free and flies through the bulkheads and I give up. What is even, because I can’t. The stellar fragment cuts its way out of the ship and tinkerbells its way through a weird spatial distruption.
The great news is that it’s probable that that ‘photonic lattice’ is where Harry, Chakotay, and Tuvok are being kept. Retaliation for kidnapping the stellar samples? Kidnapping turnabout? Either way, The Doctor is now going to take part in a First Contact and Hostage Negotiation situation.
Unferth shows up to make things complicated, Freya takes a killing blow for him, and Unfurth steals the stellar life-form. Schweitzer doesn’t even care, because you gotta stay for the death-scene-and-subsequent-hardening-of-resolve. He walks into the hall of Hrothgar, throws down a challenge at Unferth, and returns the baby monster to its mother, which seems to do the trick – the missing crew are returned.
All told, that was a day wasted about approximately 2 light-years closer to home they aren’t, but the Doctor has had his capabilities expanded. Sadly, his brand new name is a bit tainted by Freya’s death, so he’s giving it up. I’m sure he’ll choose another eventually.