In which Hope turns to ashes, the Hirogen were the good guys after all, and Voyager is probably that dumb purgatory island from Lost.
So now that Iden has kidnapped Torres, the Doctor has suddenly pivoted into calling Iden a liar despite abiding by every promise he’s made so far. Iden eventually promises to give Torres the chance to leave, once he’s made his pitch, in an escape pod. Not that this is going to help Voyager repair itself – things are so bad even Seven is willing to admit that Torres would be useful. In the post-mortem, Tuvok has found out that the Doctor gave the holograms tactical data, which Janeway interprets as him being programmatically compromised. Nobody could possibly disagree with Janeway, after all. Her stance is that they’re his family and he would never endanger or betray them. Inference – Janeway had a terrible family growing up.
Torres is, unsurprisingly, not interested in hearing the pitch. She tells the Doctor that he’ll have to pilot if she can’t, but he’s not going. Assuming they let her go, he’s still on board for joining the holograms. At least, he doesn’t think he’ll be welcome back aboard Voyager. Also, he’s got a point regarding switching allegiances to help the oppressed – just about the only argument Chakotay, Janeway, and now Torres have in terms of differentiation, if you’re not relying on the Doctor’s provenance as a hologram, is that he’s the only specialist of his kind on the ship. Which is a bit collectivist. Since all they want is technology to hide, the Doctor has a solid plea. There’s dissention in the ranks of the holograms, but once Torres limps out of the impromptu sick bay, they’re able to present a cohesive unit and Torres agrees to take a look at the field generator.
Voyager‘s pursuit has hit a dead end, but the technician Donik wants to stay aboard Voyager. He doesn’t really fit in among his own people, and also feels responsibility for modifying the holograms, so he and Janeway have a pity party with Paris making the jerkoff gesture just off-camera. Donik also thanks Janeway for the introduction of the technology, which afforded him new and exciting ways to live and further muddying the waters of Janeway’s too-late guilt party. Janeway agrees in principle, but the Hirogen hunters disagree at first, then the alpha realizes he doesn’t care about Donik and designates Voyager as superfluous to the hunt, and prey if they get too close.
Janeway is not impressed and goes into tracking mode – they’ll follow the Hirogen in a stealth mode, hidden with some of Donik’s expertise, and then disable those ships somehow when it comes time to rescue Torres and the Doctor. The Hirogen ships have a blind spot within their engine outputs, and then just have to figure out how to surprise two Hirogen ships in one strike.
Torres has already diagnosed the problem with the field generator, but is witholding her help until she gets more information about the holograms and their agenda. They have a little debate about sterotypes, and Torres softens a little bit. Meanwhile, Iden discusses things with the Doctor, specifically the allure of the familiar. Iden wants him to stay and does the ‘they won’t want you back’ thing before showing off the planet they’ve picked – an uninhabitable, Y-class world that no Organic species could possibly want, and which makes it a perfect hiding place from the Hirogen. This affords the Doctor the opportunity to contemplate a career change, but before he can reflect on it, the next emergency happens. The Hirogen are coming. The Holograms head into a nebula to try to lose them.
The Hirogen respond with a flushing maneuver, one ship going into the nebula and the other circling it to try to flush them out. Voyager is behind the one in the nebula and it causes them navigational difficulties, but Tom manages to hold on. The holograms are almost have the generator up and running despite the constant depth charges, and indeed Torres has managed to get things at least nominally working. Including her relationship with the holographic engineer. Once they fix it, the best available plan is to run for the planet Adara and hope they can get set up before the Hirogen stop them – at which point they’ll also have to hope that the Hirogen don’t commence surface bombardment to wipe them out on principle.
A point about the limits of programming. Call it an insurmountable personality trait, but the one thing the Doctor was never able to add to his program was a sense of when it’s time to stop being self-aggrandizing and let other people get on with the business of making sure the ship doesn’t get destroyed. Iden also disagrees with the Doctor’s reverence of organic culture and gets creepy-intense about the new religion he’s creating to supplant the Bajoran religion he was programmed with – with himself as the messianic Man of Light to deliver the People from the Oppressors of Flesh. This is what finally goes a bit beyond what the Doctor can live with. And to drive the point home, the Hologram ship has detected a non-Hirogen ship, from a species that uses holograms as laborers. Despite the danger, Iden orders an intercept. He’s fully wrapped up in religious zeal now that he thinks the Doctor is on his side, and this will surely be when he shows off how far he’s willing to go to Gather His People Unto Him. So now the Doctor shares his misgivings with Torres.
The Hirogen have detected the holograms leaving the nebula and Torres having a good long shout at Iden for trying to free the oppressed. Which he does through force, and not even a real attempt at diplomacy before the threats come out. They take a single shot to disable the ship, rescue the holograms, then destroy the ship to even the objection of some of his crew. Now the Doctor requests a lifeboat, but that can’t be launched until they drop out of warp. That gives us time to see how grateful holograms that weren’t built on the self-improvement model can be. And the time for Torres to work with the Engineer hologram who objected to blowing up the mining ship, and discuss the social order of the new world, and the possibility of taking Iden offline. Speak of the devil, he appears to witness the arrival of the three holographic laborers, who are just humaniform lifting-bots, with social subroutines functionally equivalent to ELIZA. This realization gives Iden a bit of a meltdown. Now he reneges on his promises, and the Hirogen ships (with Voyager in tow) approach for the showdown.
Voyager manages to successfully disable one ship in just a few shots, then the other with torpedoes. They then open fire on the holograms to rescue the Doctor, while Iden orders the Hirogen transported to the surface. They’ll survive just long enough to suffer a Revenge Hunt. The Doctor objects, and Iden has him stored indefintiely and steals the mobile emitter so he can start the hunt. They beam down the field generator (which they havent had a chance to test) and get going, chasing the Hirogen through walls with holographic weapons that can kill just as surely as real ones can.
The HOlogram ship is falling apart, and even though she’s coming around, the engineer can’t rescue the Hirogen or hail Voyager. The only thing she can do is shut down the programs of all the bloodthirsty holograms and activate the Doctor with a Big Friggin Gun to go take on Iden in a battle of ideas light-bullets. B’elanna is successfully beamed back to the Delta Flyer, and Iden is stopped from killing one of the last Hirogen, saving five hunters and leaving Neelix to be the one to suggest they can rewrite this story of this hunt so they don’t look like chumps, and thus allowing Janeway to clean up her technological mess. Idun is ‘dead’ and Donik offers to stay with the Holographic Engineer so they can go off and build a non-extremist lifestyle. And Janeway learns another Valuable Lesson about the Doctor’s increased autonomy – hopefully the fact that it came at the end of a two-parter means it will be the last time she has to learn it – it certainly wasn’t the first.