VOY: S4E23: “Living Witness”

In which Braga shows us historical revisionism and Inception. 

Janeway gives an opening monologue about how the Starfleet Way is just straight-up murdering people if diplomacy fails. She’s also wearing black Psi Cop cloves, and I want this to be a Mirror Universe episode so much. She’s being asked to intimidate one species on behalf of another species, and in return for this, they offer her a way home, in a map to a recurring wormhole. It seems like a good deal.

Warforged Cleric.

This Janeway has Neelix at tactical, Tuvok at ops, and a Kazon on staff. She also is very quick to use biological weaponry, to the dismay even of their client. Janeway doesn’t really understand how  being a mercenary work. Also, the Doctor is a Soong-type android, and capable of reconfiguring a phaser beam to carry a bioagent. This is not the first time a subatomic particle weapon will be used to deliver molecular matter, but I really hope it’s the last. As it turns out, this is a history lesson, telling the story of how the evil Warship Voyager nearly wiped out this alien world on that fateful day 700 years ago. Damn, not a mirror universe episode. Of course, it would be hard to get a ship like Voyager given the fall of the Terran empire anyway. Ah well.

The curator/tour guide is way off -vastly overestimating Voyager’s crew (doubling it) and attributing its multicultural crew to Borg assimilation. Also, alternate Janeway seems to have a thing with Tuvok. One has to wonder, if they’ve developed this level of detail, where they’re getting their information. Then again, since Janeway has just turned on her client, this may be the official story from the former enemies of the planet that’s been getting genocided. Kind of a revisionist history thing, saying ‘yes we hired Voyager to rough you up, but we objected before it got bad and they turned on us.’

One dares not loom over the Captain, even while giving good news.

Harry finally gets to be a badass. He’s the chief interrogator and oh no wait he hurt his hand. How did these people know how incompetent Harry is? Also, how did they get Chakotay’s image but get the face tattoo wrong. When Harry comes back with a wrench, the Doctor stops him in favor of a hypospray full of brain-dissolving acid, because that’s far more likely to leave the prisoner capable of speech, apparently. The torture worked, and Janeway sends a strike team to capture their target. When some intruders make it aboard and set up a beachhead, Janeway activates Borg countermeasures. Seven and her squad of four retake the engine room with ease. The strike also went off pretty easily, too. They got the enemy leader, Tedran, pacifist leader of the opposition. He refuses to surrender, even as his wife is executed, then himself.

This concludes the exhibit showing Voyager‘s role in the massacre, and the patrons wander off to examine the relics of that time, like the empty torpedo tube. One of the Vaskin (Janeway’s ‘clients’) patrons questions the truth of the massacre. The museum tour guide throws back that they just found a live datastore which might contain actual logs from Voyager itself. This altercation has disturbed some of the other patrons, and the curator urges them to enjoy the rest of their visit to the planetary Holocaust memorial.

Once the museum closes, the research begins, and the curator loads up the engine room to keep working on the device, using tools from the simulation. Do not ask why simulated tools would be more accurate than regular ones. The storage device contains a holographic program which, when activated, turns out to be The Doctor, who is very adamant that he’s not an android, and very frightened to see a Kirian in the engine room. He assumes the Kirian raiders who attacked Voyager must have stolen it, and the two take some time to get on the same footing. Also, the whole museum is equipped with holo-emitters, as the Doctor can run out into the rest of the museum.

“That wasn’t a fart.”

Since this world considers artificial life-forms to be sentient, the Doctor is informed that he may have to stand trial for his part in the creation of the bio-weapon. He immediately tries to set the record straight, and all of their facts are hilariously wrong in ways that it’s incredibly implausible that they could be gotten wrong, given enough sources to get as much as they did right.

The Doctor tries to recall the facts from the actual encounter – Voyager had met up with the Vaskins to discuss trade, and then the Kirians attacked. The Curator doesn’t like this, and insists on showing the rest of the recreation. The Doctor corrects their impressions, starting with the martyred Tedrin, leader of the attack on Voyager. The Doctors views are not… in line with the mainstream interpretation of events, so the curator shuts him off.

On review, the very fact that the Doctor was a hologram is sufficient to make the curator question his faith, and then the inevitable questioning opened up from that fact once it’s been laid bare. Credit to the curator for being able to think rationally once he calmed down, particularly given the apparent oppression of his people and the use of the phrase ‘some of my best friends are your species’ by that patron earlier. That phrase is never an indication of equal footing.

Next day, during open museum hours, the curator loads up the simulation to talk with the Doctor some more. The two of them reconcile and the Doctor offers to rewrite the simulation to show what he remembers – an exchange of medical supplies from Voyager for dilithium from the Vaskins, who also warn of the impending attack from the Kirians. Which happens immediately.

In the Doctor’s version of the conflict, Janeway tries to talk down the Kirian assault, and receives no response. They take Engineering and loot it for tech, then take Seven hostage. Janeway takes the Vaskin ambassador and the Doctor into the mess hall, and the Doctor offers to draw fire. In a very crowded moment, Security comes in, Seven acts to no longer be a hostage, and the Vaskin ambassador kills Tedrin.

This devolved into a general fight, the Doctor was disabled, and then he woke up as a backup module. He has proof, in that the medical tricorder relic they have is the same one he scanned Tedrin with, and it still has the data on it. Again, do not ask the provenance of relics, it will only upset you. The Kirian arbiteris not interested in hearing the truth, but she’s not a voting majority of the council.

While the Doctor works on extracting the data, he and the curator discuss things with an air of camaraderie, which is a sure sign that Kirian partisans are going to break in and destroy the evidence before the end of the episode. It is, in fact, before the end of the scene. An angry mob storms the museum, and in the confusion the Doctor loses the tricorder. The discovery of the Doctor seems to have started a race riot, or at least set off the one that was already brewing. In order to head it off, the Doctor demands to be decompiled in order to prevent himself from causing further harm. He’s a doctor, not a historian.

In fact, all of that was a simulation for some future Vaskin and Kirian museum, about the pivotal moment in the planet’s history that ended the war. After all that, the Doctor was the planetary Surgeon General, and then tried to go home.



Did we miss something awesome?