In which Tom and Torres have a fight, Voyager gets overrun, and Janeway threatens mass murder with a smile.
Tom and B’Elanna have just finished bat’leth practice. Tom enjoyed it and Torress is really sick of Tom white/man/humansplaining her own cultural heritage to her. He suggests she calm down, which never helps, and then some weird dude in a tall hat beams into the corridor and asks where he is. He believes he’s been abducted, and has no idea where he is. His initial reaction shows his home colony, Niria III, is dimmer and warmer than Voyager and it’s human-centric climate control. Torres and Tom take him to sick bay where they accommodate his comfort.
Janeway and Tuvok come to debrief him. His people don’t have any (or at least widespread) transporter technology, and he describes the sensation from the inside, which included lighheadedness and tingling. Janeway and Voyager don’t know enough about the area to be able to help him figure out where he goes home. Kes is late for her duty shift, and a quick check reveals that she vanished from the ship right when the alien arrived.
Torres scares the crap out of Harry while they’re trying to track the source. They find a source of polaron particles, and Harry vanishes. The pace seems to be picking up, in fact, as more and more of the crew vanish, and are replaced by colonists, and none of them have any idea where the two endpoints are in relation to each other. Janeway wants to take security precations. Chakotay reminds her that the Nerians seem as confused as everyone else, but since the entire crew will be replaced in less than a day, there’s no harm in being cautious when it comes to the people replacing them.
By the time half the crew has been replaced, they still have no idea hat’s causing it, but one of the Nerian astrophysicists has an idea – they’ve confirmed a small wormhole that Voyager passed through and may have snared. Sadly, it’s about now that Janeway gets snagged. Also, if Chakotay’s not leaving here to make sure that their working theory is dissemenated across every member of the crew with any scientific knowledge whatsoever, he should be fired.
The Nerians are all cooped up in the cargo bay when Neelix goes to retrieve the scientist and relay him to Engineering. By this time, the bridge is empty but for Chakotay and one ensign now running tactical/security. They’re down to 40, and Chakotay finally starts locking down the ship to voice commands. And while Torres and the Nerian scientist Rislan examine the wormhole, she finds a distinct absence of something that definitely should be there. Now Rislan starts making what could be statements about the specific knowledge they have about astrophysics but in fact turns out to be a sinister attempt to divert her, and bumps her up to the head of the replacement line. She arrives on Neria III with the revelation just in time for it to be useless. The crew are in an idylic human habitat in a series of compounds, being held in captivity.
Now Chakotay is off to check on the rest of the Nerians, who’ve all been let out of the cargo bay. The crew is down to 12, and the Nerians are moving through the cargo bay and try to take the bridge. I’ll give Ensign Lang credit, she actually knows how to use her sidearm, unlike that useless command-track ensign who seems to be off looking at birds. With the advantage of numbers now, it’s not difficult for the Nerians to take most of the unnamed crew out. It’s now Chakotay mostly on his own, with just one crewmember to aid him by comms. The Nerians have almost everything up and running except for what Chakotay and Gennaro can sabotage. Presumably, the replacer transporter has to charge up for those nine and a third minutes, so the two of them have a little under 20 minutes to sabotage everything they can get their hands on before whatever it is transports them out and into the detention camp. One of them manages to get the warp engine, and Chakotay manages to turn the lights on full to get everyone out of engineering. Now Chakotay, alone, has about two minutes to stop the Nerians from deleting the Doctor, and he’s the last one aboard. He manages to get the Doctor downloaded into the mobile emitter moments before he vanishes and takes the Doctor with him. Voyager is now alone.
One of the concenrs with the emitter is it does, in fact, have a limited battery life, although exactly how limited is unknown. With the entire crew now allocated among ten compounds (with all the command staff in one of them) it’s up to the command staff to get a plan together. In fact, they’re about to be briefed on why they’re here – they stole Voyager according to their regular MO in order to defend their territory. They consider it more humane than warfare.
Janeway is just coming to the conclusion, based on intel, that their whole compound is holographic when an alien, Jarlath, strolls through a glitch in the Matrix with a basket of welcome-to-the-neighborhood cookies. He also lets slip that this holo-cell used to be inhabited, but all the inhabitants died of a plague, so that’s not helpful. However, the fact that Jarlath knows how to find the portals may be.Torres is playing with the holo-emitter, tinkering with the parameters so that he can look around for the potal with Techno-sight. B’Elanna apologizes to Tom for being snappy, and he is smart enough not to gloat and to follow up with an apology of his own. The Doctor is not smart enough not to butt in to keep the argument going with his therapy subroutines and prompting B’Elanna to mute him.
For which I’d just like to step back for a moment from the comedic value of the act to backsliding nature of the gesture. It brings us back to when Pulaski would only refer to Data as ‘it’ and thought of him as property.
The crew are harvesting technology from the machines they’ve been provided with to build weapons. Chakotay comments that he didn’t think Vulcans have a knack for improvising. That’s funny, I thought Chakotay went to the Academy before defecting. He should know better. Maybe he thinks that was credit to Spock’s human half. Then again, maybe Tuvok deliberately hid the training that he also received at Starfleet Academy so as not to make the Maquis suspicious, and allowed Chakotay to form that stereotype on purpose. Also, Vulcans have a similar young-person-out-in-the-wilderness-with-only-a-basic-tool ritual as well, so I really have no idea where Chakotay got his idea other than by deception or cultivated preference.
It’s a little while before Torres and the Doctor find something interesting via their techno-sight. Jarleth’s device opens the gateway, and Janeway steps through to what looks a lot more like a Nerian compound – dim lighting and heavily industrial corridors. They locate some more habitats, as well as a warden station which Janeway is able to use just barely enough to find Voyager‘s translation matrix. Now, just as a mental exercise, go get a friend who uses a different phone or computer OS than you do have them set their language to Arabic or Chinese or anything that uses a different character-set than you do. From the Home screen, try to find the language settings and change it back to English. I bet it will take you longer than it took Janeway to navigate a completely alien UI design in an unknown language and hack it using nonstandard menu options.
Anyway, she finds data on 94 habitats, presumably all species who are not so culturally xenophobic that the Nerian replacements would all get slaughtered as soon as they show up. Sounds like prime fodder for a cooperative uprising. Also, this is on a ship, not a planet. She trips some sort of alarm, and the leader of the colony ship has to check in with her boss on Voyager to receive authorization to use force. Jarleth is not all about this revolt – after years in captivity he’s got all the fight leached out of him, and goes willingly back to his habitat. That lets Tuvok and Janeway confirm they’ve found the translocator device, and start re-replacing their crew.
The biosphere ship calls Voyager for help, and as Voyager is already on its way, the Nerian leader gets his security contingent ready to translocate back. Tom and Torres engage in a running firefight throughout the corridors, and hide in an arctic environment which the Nerians are ill-suited for, which may give Janeway and Tuvok enough time to start a replacement at higher capacity, now that the target is closer.
To wrap up the interpersonal-conflict plotline, Tom and B’Elanna now have to wait out the search party in an ice cave and keep warm. Klingons are less cold-adapted than humans, although this is not the common stereotype mainly because “Cardassians complain about it more.” After getting warmed up, Torres fixes the power cell enough for one more shot, just as two nearly-frozen Nerians deliver them two more weapons which neither of them pick up. Idiots. Also idiots – the Nerians who froze to death rather than using their weapons to heat up some of the local holo-environment so as to not die.
Janway and Tuvok translocate Tom and Torres out into the human habitat, and pulls the Nerian leaders into the arctic habitate where they’ll freeze to death. Her offer is that they can surrender and get a warm prison habitat to wait for the revenge of all their victims, or they can freeze to death, because humans get vindictive and tetchy when you abduct them. In the aftermath, it turns out neither Tom nor B’Elanna liked their little spat, and they’ll probably bone soon.