In which Harry shouldn’t have worn sweatpants that day, Torres suffers a broken heart, and the Doctor makes friends with Norman Bates.
Today, we open on an alien ship, dead in space, and a corpse-looking guy is disposing of an actual corpse and cleaning up after himself. In fact, however, he appears to be a hologram, and is destabilizing. He issues a distress call, wherein he identifies himself as an isomorphic projection (in case the fading glitch wasn’t apparent).
Voyager is trundling along, still at sublight, while all the bridge officers enjoy the after-action report of a little prank on Tuvok. They’re apparently sharing stories about Tuvok, as a prelude to awarding him a promotion to Lieutenant Commander. Note that this doesn’t alter the shipboard hierarchy. He also dispalys some of the dry humor that Vulcans always deny they’re capable of. Tom and B’Elanna exit quickly, one after the other, to discuss their recent near-death experience together, and what they’re going to do about it. Tom offers her an out, and she doesn’t take it, offers him an out which he then refuses, and then they kiiiiiiiiiiiiiissssssssss. The Doctor interrupts them to recruit Paris to replace Kes as nurse and semiskilled backup doctor. And Chakotay also tells Harry to integrate Seven into his team for her knowledge of the local space, now that Neelix has had to pivot to Ambassador from Local Guide. It’s about now that they receive the distress call.
The Doctor immediately tries to take charge. He wants to lead the away mission. Janeway is notably reticent about losing both the mobile emitter and the only doctor they have, but he asks to take Torres as well, which alleviates all the concerns apparently. Elsewhere in awkward overstepping, Harry’s intimidated by Seven, either because of her looks, intelligence, or the fact that the last time they worked together she knocked him out.
That Away Mission, by the way? Just Torres and the Doctor. And the Doctor needling Torres about Paris, exposing some deep-seated embarassment about the relationship that they’ll have to overcome. Once they arrive at the target and beam over. Torres begins immediately playing with the equipment. When she does, the hologram appears, and starts sneaking up on them with a hammer. He hears them talking about the mobile emitter, destabilizes, and reappears in his ‘terrified’ aspect.
His program is apparently compatible with their own systems, so either Federation systems are designed to figure out alien codecs on the fly, the alien program is extremely simple and impossible to compress, or there’s some kind of convergent evolution of video codecs going on in the universe. The new hologram starts telling his story. He’s a maintenance unit whose job is to do all the hazardous tasks that organics can’t do, and his crew got sick from a planetside mission and infected the crew. We know this isn’t true, because we saw him a) cleaning up a corpse with a bloody skull and b) about to attack B’Elanna and the Doctor. He warns her away from going to the lower decks due to “antimatter radiation”, and I really wish they were better at the technospeak so that I could make a definitive ruling as to whether this was supposed to be a clue that Torres can pick up on or not. While the Doctor make some diagnostics, Dejaren asks him for his story.
Harry and Seven have already made some changes to update the sensors. Seven is unusually quick at this, but apparently misaligned something, what with her newfound humanity. This brief moment of connection leads Kim to believe he can handle small talk. He cannot. He bodily stops her from grabbing a live power conduit, even though her exoskeleton can handle it, because safety procedures are safety procedures.
Dejaren commiserates with the Doctor about the hollow (heh) existence as a sapient piece of equipment. The Doctor tries to encourage him to follow the Federation-y path of Becoming More Than The Sum Of Your Programming. Cut to Torres working on something with a live cable, and a fake jump scare to make us think that Dejaren is going to electrocute her with it. He isn’t, at the moment. He’s also creepy, though. Watching Torres eat and comparing her to a fish. Fish are ‘clean’ apparently. It is during this conversation that Dejaren, who is a germophobe, goes off on Torres for being a biological machine. After he calms down, he admits to having some hostility towards organics, due to his poor treatment by his former crew.
Torres reports this abberant behavior to the Doctor, but she’s really not selling it well. Like, the Doctor is a pompous ass made in the image and temprament of a pompous ass. Selling this behavior as ‘he thinks organics are inferior’ rather than ‘he went premium-grade guano crazy to the point where he hol0-frothed at the mouth’ is just not going to get the point across. Even when Torres moves up from there, the Doctor wants to excuse the bahavior from his fellow hologram. They come to an understanding eventually, where Torres is going down to the lower decks that aren’t actually flooded with radiation, the Doctor still wants to think the best of his new holo-friend, and Dejaren appears with his pet holo-fish Spectrum. Dejaren had to hide the fact that he created a pet, and he’s got a real talent for programming.
Harry and Seven are still working on the upgrades, and she manages to cut her hand open. Tom, in his charming way, reinforces her newfound discovery of human frailty. Harry leaps to her defense. because he’s bonded with her. Like a puppy. Tom is being his standard self, recognizing that his buddy is once again in love with the worst possible person to be in love with. Tom is a good big brother, and as expected Harry probably isn’t going to listen.
The Doctor is trying to teach Dejaren how to run the ship, who lets slip to the Doctor how resentful of the organics he really is. while Torres is searching through the lower decks for a kill switch. Dejaren wants to take the ship out exploring, not go back home where he’ll be treated as a holo-slave again. Torres finds the holomatrix, along with all the corpses hidden behind the walls. While this is happening, the Doctor and Dejaren come to the realization about each other that they’re not going to be friends. Torres trigger’s Dejarren’s alarm, and he reaches into her chest to fiddle with her organs. She just barely manages to shut him off.
Harry’s entering a personal log about how working with Seven is awkward, since (I assume) those tunics don’t offer enough structure for him to stand up fearlessly. In direct defiance of his forebrain, he’s called Seven in to his quarters for a midnight study session, dim light, and a holodeck date. It is about here that she recognizes he shows the physiological and social signs of romantic attraction. And Seven is not unwilling to explore this new aspect of her life, provided there’s some measure of efficiency about it. Harry cannot go through with it.
The Doctor revives Torres, and explains the damage done. Torres is in rough shape, but stable for a while. Unfortunately, she’s in a lot of pain when she tries to move and there’s an engineering problem to be solved, in the non-working transporters. When the Doctor helps her to a console and goes to get her engineering kit, he finds the holo-fish is still swimming away, so Dejaren could also be in the area. He is, and has smashed B’Elanna with a hammer before going off on the Doctor. After the first exchange, he smashes the Doctor’s mobile emitter, because of the two of them, it’s the sane one who actually has a hitbox and doesn’t remember it. He turns to Torres to finish the job, and she makes it to a console to lock a door, forgetting that he can just go through them. In the end, she’s abile to destabilize his program by shoving that live wire from earlier into the projection. She repairs the Doctor, and they leave.
Harry and Seven are done with the Astrometrics project, and Harry requests, with increasing insistence, not to work directly with Seven again. Chakotay is having none of it, since Harry can’t actually come out and say that he’s… infatuated. Pretty sure Chakotay knows, and is messing with him. Also, Tom and B’Elanna are gonna kiss with tongues later, after the Doctor messes with B’Elanna based on her near-death-experience against an insane hologram. And then the pivot is ‘eh who cares about cleanliness in a hospital.’ I don’t. I can’t even.