In which the Doctor gets molested and it is otherwise a pretty normal Tuesday for Voyager.
Still cruising along at sublight. Kes is checking out Paris’ pool-hall holodeck program for her 2nd birthday, and her very first surprise party. The Doctor is there too, becaue remember now we’ve gotten it so that he can move to the holodeck, where he’s serving as bartender for the party. Meanwhile, Harry didn’t get to go to the party and Tuvok didn’t want to. Tuvok was being nice, too, when they run into a weird space-jelly.
Tom has gotten Kes a birthday gift, which apparnetly cost two weeks worth of replicator rations. Which… how. No, seriously, how? Because a little necklace like that can’t weigh more than a few dozen grams. Compared to the energy bound up in a meal-sized portion of food, that has to be trivial. Nor is it a very complicated item – today’s 3d printing technology could easily manage the task of ‘a fancy-looking chunk of metal.’ So I would have to hazard that the base material itself is ‘expensive.’ Put it this way – most of the things that humanoids need in large quantities may be complex organic molecules, but even a complex molecule like vitamin B12 (and I can hear my organic chem friends laughing at me thinkint that this is complex) is still mostly made of elements from the top of the periodic table. Lots of CHON (Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and Oxygen) and a a very, very few denser elements. Whereas a gold locket… that’s a lot of subatomic particles to move around, if you’re trying to assemble the atoms from hydrogen sifted out of the bussard collectors. My best guess is that starships do ‘simple’ molecular rearrangement wherever possible, and only if a request requires elements they don’t have does the replicator system rip apart existing matter using fission and fusion alchemy. That’s where most of the power use comes from. If so, Voyager is doubly troubled – not only are they far from starbases to feed them with preprocessed antimatter and fusion engine fuel, but they can’t take on carefully-concocted Starfleet-approved CHON-blocks with the appropriate smattering of essential trace elements for healthy crew and equipment repair. Unfotunately for all of us, I’m getting that nagging feeling that I’m putting more thought into this than the writers did. back to Neelix being super jealous. Hey, it’s nice that he’s trying not to be so posessive, though. Maybe he learned something.
Tuvok calls down to report in the interesting phenomenon, but either there’s a time distortion or he’s on magic mushrooms. Or maybe a comm issue. Or no, it looks like the spacetime in the cloud is shifting around, and it’s got Voyager trapped. The fact that it surrounded them first suggest sentience, which is not a particularly pleasant thought. Tuvok’s plan to power through it like ripping a bandage off quickly has merit, but I’d be wary of using a warp field unless given no other option. Well, it’s moot, the warp field didn’t hold up anyway.
Systems are going out all over the ship, including a security guy finding the gym getting cold. I also want to digress a moment to mention that the security Lt is deferring to Ensign Harry in this situation. Harry’s a bridge officer who just came from the command center, but it’s always nice to see Starfleet officers functioning in ways that make sense. Harry is basically First Among Ensigns.
Speaking of space being distorted, people are making wrong turns and getting lost all over the ship. The first few are explicable by failing voice recognition, elevators, and flagging attention, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the corridors are now stitched together wrong. Even the Doctor can’t transfer his program back to Sick bay.
Neelix and Kes are still wandering around trying to find her quarters and feeding Neelix’s jealousy complex. Amusingly, on Talax jealousy is also euphamistically referred to as a ‘green-eyed monster.’ Eventually, Janeway’s party, torres, Kes, and Harry all meet up outside the holodeck, and pop in for a drink. The reference to Nagylum making the Enterprise crew run mazes is seeming more apropos all the time. B’Elanna has the brilliant idea of trying a site-to-site transport, which I would flatly refuse to try. There’s no telling what would happen to your molecules if you try to teleport through a tesseract. Chakotay’s going to use a tricorder to spool out some technological yarn Theseus-style.
I’m really starting to appreciate the little things in this show. Like how Janeway foists off Neelix on Chakotay and he’s wishing he could object. or how B’Elanna’s improvisational skills extend beyond jury-rigging engines. What I don’t appreciate is Chakotay having to explain jealousy to Neelix as if he’s never interacted with another sentient being before.
Tuvok apparently abandoned his post at the bridge in the hands of a lesser officer, but he has brought word that the spatial distortion was last known to have penetrated the shields. Oh praise Thor, Neelix wandered off. Maybe he’ll fall up a turbolift shaft or something. Janeway and Harry have found some sort of EM anomaly while crawling around in the turbolifts, and Janeway makes it a point to mention how much she appreciates his boyish naivite. Not like that. You’re gross. Why can’t two characters just respect each other? Plus this has got to assuage some of how stupid he must be feeling for giving up that alternate timeline where his life wasn’t terrible.
Okay, apparently Voyager has a cargo hold directly behind the bridge, but when Janeway tries to force the door, her arm gets stuck in a spot of spatial turbulence sharply delineated by the door. The contact with the anomaly is not good for people, and now Janeway is fading in and out. Harry can find his way back to sick bay pretty easily, while Chakotay and Tuvok try unsuccessfully to split up. Torres and Paris try to beam to the bridge and wind up on the pool table. Whatever’s happening, it seems to have a strong preference that everyone stay in the holodeck. So instead of assuming that someone in the holodeck has been replaced by an alien (which I admit is somewhat of a long shot) they’re going to feed their tricorder data into the computer to see if it can map out what the ship looks like. One problem – the map shows the ship as topoligically identical to its starting shape. Sure, it looks completely borked, but none of the underlying connections between physical areas have been altered. Sure, the ship ought to be ripping itself a part, but nothing about this map indicates that doorways in Engineering are suddenly leading to crew quarters.
Further data on the anomaly has them calling it an implosion wave, which appears to be centered on Engineering, and they’re going to try to reverse the effect so it becomes an explosion. So we have some strong signs pointing to ‘alien intelligence is messing with them’ and other strong signs pointing to ‘Voyager is about to be the unwitting cause of this week’s problem while trying to solve that exact problem.’
With Janeway out of commission, Chakotay backs B’Elanna’s plan over Tuvok’s objections, including the objection that Janeway usually listens to him. Torres and Kim initiate the attempt at blowing the ship apart correctly. Sadly, they have just made things worse, but not in such a way that they’ve looped back in time. Janeway’s awake now, but she’s got spatial-anomaly indused palsic aphasia and the anomaly is closing in. With all other options failing, Torres rigs up a holographic force field. Which if the ship’s battle shields didn’t stop this thing, a shield generated by the holodeck’s isolated power system isn’t going to help much either. Tuvok presents the only remaining alternative – surrender and stop worrying. Desperate improvisation isn’t helping and only making things worse, so all we have left is Chakotay making awkward bear metaphors and trying to avoid undue stress.
Since the habitable donut-hole around the holodeck is shrinking rapidly, the rest of the crew is dead (assuming the distortion kills, that is) and everyone else is making their peace. Chakotay and Tuvok have the most polite ‘I’ve always hated you’ moment ever, way moreso than Chakotay’s moment with Paris. Chakotay also tries to contact his spirit guide while Kes worries about newly pretzelized Neelix. Once the sweep passes, everything seems fine and Janeway wakes up normal except she believes the distortion was a message. Nobody is injured, no damage was caused, and it traded its database for Voyager’s. In the end, nothing of consequence has been accomplished, and it remains to be seen if anything useful will come out of the information they got. So, basically a wasted episode, just like the last one.