In which the Doctor takes second billing to his own ego.
The Doctor is waxing poetic about Earth’s place in the universe, apparently as an intro to his recitation from Rigoletto while the crew looks on in mounting horror in stark contrast to the attitudes of the Ten-Forward audiences aboard the Enterprise. Actually, Tuvok is having emotions. Lots of them. The diagnosis is swift – Tuvok is horny. If memory serves, he’s going to die because he can’t get to Vulcan, a concern that must have been weighing on him for quite a while. Unwilling to cut his performance, the Doctor tries to talk Tuvok down in song, a decision that makes this immediately too campy to be allowed to continue. And yet we must soldier on. The Doctor gets a rousing round of applause and flowers, and it becomes clear that he was daydreaming. Still raises the question of what they intend to do when Tuvok goes sex-mad.
The Doctor has been bumped from an away mission, despite not being needed. He wheedles, but Torres’ decision that he’s not needed stands. Some time later, Voyager has stumbled across a super-tiny nebula, just a thousand kilometers across. The Doctor has, in the time since being bumped from the away team, composed a formal proposal to get his status on the ship upgraded. Janeway and the rest of the bridge crew treat this like a big joke, utterly failing to note the ship lurking in the nebula, waiting to ambush them.
The potato-beings aboard the ship are not actually planning to prey on Voyager, as it represents and unacceptable risk due to its unknown configuration and inability to scan the hull. One of the flunkies has a plan to tap into Voyager‘s computers, and has gone over his captain’s head to get approval.
The Doctor is daydreaming B’Elanna cheating on Tom with him during a senior staff meeting. And being flirted with by Seven and Janeway. With our sample size of two, it seems that a running theme in these daydreams is that the Doctor needs to boot up that Beowulf program and reaquant himself with a new instance of Freya. This is getting a little insufferable. When the daydream ends, Janeway asks the Doctor why he’s not satisfied with knowing his place, and diverts his request to have command protocols installed into a Starfleet enhancement request for the EMH Mk 2, or 3, or whatever number they get up to. The Doctor immediately diverts into another daydream, and these are getting to be a Barclay-esque obsession. Turns out these daydreams are what the lurking aliens have been patching into. They don’t know it’s a daydream, however, and think he’s got command protocols. In fact, it may be that they literally only observe his daydreams, since the link ‘drops out intermittently.’
Talaxians have a superstition that daydreams are sparks of inspiration from another place, which is a nice bit of flavor. The Doctor slips into another daydream where the Borg attack with a hitherto-unknown assimilation virus that they can deploy over comms. Surely this will give away the mistaken nature of their intel to the potato-aliens, as there is no borg ship nearby. Also, the Doctor running the ship’s systems on automatic makes for a fascinating network diagram. He is, after all, basically a VM running on the main computer or his mobile emitter. He also dreamed up a brand new weapons array, the Photonic Cannon. This has in fact foold the potato-aliens who are doing a good impression of Pakleds, while the bridge crew have started to notice the Doctor’s inconstancy.
The potatoes decide to attack Voyager, using a stealth plan to minimize contact with the Doctor. As the Doc leaves the bridge, Chakotay comes to congratulate him on dealing with the Borg so readily, and the Doctor is suspicious and has the computer confirm his location. Fortunately, he can in fact tell reality from fantasy. And it seems that this daydreaming is a subroutine he added to himself, and it’s going wrong and running too often. Including when he goes to the eggheads to get things fixed. Now he can’t tell fantasy from reality, and has been confined in Sick Bay using the force fields he usually just walks through, while his daydreams are being piped to holodeck 1 for voyeuristic monitoring. Janeway is at least properly aghast at thsi idea, having just promised the Doctor some dignity. Nobody else was on board with that plan, and Harry calls everyone he can get away with down to the holodeck to watch the Doctor doing nude paintings of Seven. Since she’s present, we can at least presume she didn’t object, and in fact seems to be watching the whole thing with academic interest.
With his daydreams shifting through a rapid montage, it’s a… good? thing the potato aliens aren’t monitoring him any more. The Doctor’s been doing the ECH thing enough that Harry’s dubbed the montage his favorite. Probably something about the horn fanfare. Torres is a lot less sanguine about her role as one of the Doctor’s suitors than Seven was about being a model. Also, Janeway gets to see the Doctor’s real motivation behind all this nonsense.
The Potato aliens do seem to have been monitoring, and are getting worried about the probability of success, but beurocratic inertia and the threats of reprisal from their Hierarchy – the board which ratifies all decisions – prevent the underling from explaining the truth of his findings about the Doctor’s daydreams.
The Doctor has been stabilized, and Janeway comes by to see him about her change of heart. Although telling someone it’s impossible for them to lose your respect is… iffy if you don’t follow it up. Which she does. She does also go off and check on the precedent for promoting a hologram to command track.
As he dejectedly scans samples or whatever, a daydream starts, and the flunky Potato appears in it, transmitting himself into the daydream to deliver a message that will hopefully get him out of trouble. At first the Doctor doesn’t believe the warning, but the potato’s pitch doesn’t quite match his usual pattern. Potato is helping because he’ll be fired if things don’t go his way, but also because he’s developed empathy for the Doctor’s hopes and dreams, and admiration for them as well.
Nobody else is eager to hear what the Doctor has to say, but fortunately he’s able to prove it. The rest of Potato’s help is contingent on resisting the attack in such a way as to make him look good to his superiors, or at least look competent. For that, the Doctor has to pretend to be in charge.
On closer approach, the leader of the Potato ship notes a discrepancy in the expected battle-damage, and changes the assault plan. Voyager is none the wiser, and they have a link up so Janeway can advise the Doctor. Also, Paris likes fart jokes. Our friend the Potato is finally able to warn them about the changes to Type 4, which includes constantly rotating phaser frequencies. This, apparently, contributes to massive power drain, so at least that helps explain why it’s not standard battle doctrine against anyone except the Borg.
Tuvok has found a weakness and opens fire once the Doctor tries and fails to keep them cowed and intimidated. With Janeway telling him not to improvise, the Doctor ignores her and leans hard into his daydreams, threatening the Potato ship with the Photonic Cannon, and the Potatoes check in with the Hierarchy, who suggest retreat. After saving the day, the Doctor gets to sit in the chair for reals.
For pulling a Kirk, the Doctor gets a medal, and Janeway has acceded to do some research into command subroutines.