Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by David Livingston
Season 2, Episode 21
Production episode 137
Original air date: March 18, 1996
Captain’s log. While helping Neelix with some repairs in the mess hall, Wildman goes into labor. (Why a xenobiologist is fixing tech in the mess hall is left as an exercise for the viewer.) The labor goes on for quite some time. While the crew on the bridge waits expectantly, they discover a Vidiian ship nearby. Not in any great rush to have their organs harvested, they go around the Vidiians through a plasma drift.
The birth is complicated by the infant’s cranial ridges being caught on Wildman’s uterine wall. The EMH has to beam the baby out, and then puts it in an incubator, as the transport has caused some minor complications.
Voyager hits what seems to be subspace turbulence, which shuts down all propulsion systems. Torres reports that antimatter is draining, despite all containment units being intact. The ship is losing power, which results in the Wildman infant dying in the de-powered incubator. Janeway recommend proton bursts to stop the drain, but before Torres and Hogan can start the process, Voyager is hit with proton bursts that do considerable damage. Casualties pour into sickbay, and the EMH almost goes offline as well.
Kim goes to fix a hull breach on deck fifteen with a portable force field generator he’s been working on, as the automatic force fields aren’t going up. Tuvok can’t trace the source of the proton bursts, but they’re continuing and doing tremendous damage.
Chakotay takes over ops and tries magnetizing the hull to slow down the damage from the bursts, which works up to a point.
Torres, Hogan, and Kim work to seal the hull breach, but a conduit explodes and injures Hogan. Kes is summoned to treat him, while Kim and Torres work on the breach. But the damage worsens from another burst, and Kim is blown out into space and killed. As she’s approaching Hogan, Kes disappears through a spatial rift. Torres tosses a busted conduit part through the rift also, and scans it: there’s air on the other side of the rift, at the very least, so Kes should be safe.
Janeway evacuates deck fifteen. Tuvok gives a bleak damage report, and then parts of the bridge catch fire—the fire suppression systems are offline, so Janeway evacuates the bridge, transferring control to engineering.
She’s the last one off the bridge, and just before she departs, she sees ghost images of herself, Chakotay, and the rest of the bridge crew, including Kim.
We then see a completely intact bridge, with the crew alive and well, and Janeway #2 seeing a ghost image of herself abandoning the bridge.
Kim #2 scans the bridge, and there was a spatial disruption, but it only lasted a second. Sickbay also reports that they found a duplicate Kes on deck fifteen, unconscious.
In sickbay, Wildman #2 is holding her very-much-alive daughter, while Kes #2 is shocked to see that, aside from a minor phase-shift, Kes #1 is the same as her.
When Kes #1 awakens, she reports what happened. Janeway #2 shows her the conduit that Torres threw through the rift, which is from Voyager, but that part is intact in the hull of deck fifteen.
They soon figure it out: Voyager has been duplicated. The subspace distortion they detected in the plasma drift may have been a subspace scission—a theory Janeway is familiar with from a Kent State experiment that tried to duplicate matter. Voyager #2 has been firing proton bursts to stave off their declining antimatter, but those bursts are affecting Voyager #1. Janeway #2 stops the bursts, but now they have to figure out how to communicate with Voyager #1.
Janeway #2 has one other tidbit from the experiments, which explains the problem: the theory didn’t work with antimatter, which couldn’t be duplicated. So both ships are trying to share the same amount of antimatter.
The two Voyagers make contact, and Janeway #1 is initially skeptical, but Janeway #2 knows too much to be a trick. Their first attempt to merge the ships fails, and makes matters worse—the antimatter leak has become a hemorrhage, and the comm link between ships is down. Janeway #2 goes with Kes #1 through the spatial rift and coordinates repair notions with Janeway #1. However, Janeway #1 insists that the only thing to do is destroy the beat-up Voyager #1 so that the mostly intact Voyager #2 can continue home.
Janeway #2 convinces Janeway #1 to give her fifteen minutes to think of a better solution. When she returns to her own ship, both Tuvoks report Vidiian ships approaching. Neither ship has weapons functioning, and the Vidiians are able to take out Voyager #2 (they can’t detect Voyager #1 for reasons that are never adequately explained). The Vidiians board Voyager #2 and start killing people indiscriminately, then scanning them for useful organs. The EMH manages to hide himself and the Wildman infant, but everyone else in sickbay is killed.
Janeway #2 sets the autodestruct, and sends Kim #2 and the Wildman infant through the spatial rift to Voyager #1. The autodestruct takes out both Voyager #2 and the Vidiians, while Voyager #1 is left completely intact (well, as intact as it was after all that damage), er, somehow.
Kim #2 is a bit freaked out by the whole thing, while Wildman is grateful to have her daughter alive and well again.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, a subspace scission can totally duplicate a ship. This notion will never be mentioned ever again.
There’s coffee in that nebula! Both Janeways are determined to make sure that at least one of the two Voyagers makes it out alive, and both are willing to self-sacrifice to save the other.
She’s also the one who’s familiar with the scientific theory that they’ve put to unexpected practical use. I must admit to loving when they go the Janeway-as-science-nerd route…
Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok shares that T’Pel’s labor with her and Tuvok’s third child lasted 96 hours, to the horror of the rest of the bridge crew.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. EMH #1 asks if EMH #2 ever picked a name. EMH #1 works his ass off to deal with casualties and try to save the Wildman baby, while EMH #2 manages to save the baby from the Vidiians.
Forever an ensign. Kim dies, but his duplicate is saved in the end. This is the second time Kim has died on screen, after “Emanations.” It’ll happen again in “Timeless.”
Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix thinks absolutely nothing of asking the incredibly pregnant Wildman to fix stuff in his mess hall, even though she’s a xenobiologist and not an engineer. Because Wildman is a good person, she does it anyhow.
“Mr. Kim, we’re Starfleet officers—weird is part of the job.”
–Janeway summing up Star Trek as a franchise.
Welcome aboard. The various Vidiians are played by Bob Clendenin, Ray Proscia, Keythe Farley, and Chris Johnston. We also have recurring regulars Nancy Hower as Wildman and Simon Billig as Hogan, as well as twins Samantha and Emily Leibovitch debuting the role of Naomi Wildman as an infant. The Wildmans will next be seen in “Basics, Part II” at the top of season three, while Hogan will next be in “Tuvix.”
Trivial matters: The Wildman baby is finally born, though we won’t learn her name until “Basics, Part II.”
The duplicates of Kim and the Wildman baby being from a Voyager that is slightly out-of-phase with everyone else on the ship is a plot point in the String Theory trilogy by Jeffrey Lang, Kirsten Beyer, and Heather Jarman, as the two of them are immune to the mental trickery performed by the Necene in those novels.
The body of Kim that was blown into space is found by the Kobali (who will be introduced in “Ashes to Ashes”) and altered into one of them in the Star Trek Online game.
The novel Echoes by Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, & Nina Kiriki Hoffman will postulate that the duplicate Voyager is actually from a parallel timeline.
Set a course for home. “How long does it take to deliver a baby?” The very beginning and very end of this episode annoy the crap out of me. First off, where the hell does Neelix get off asking Wildman for help fixing things when she’s about to pop her baby? The poor woman’s been pregnant for a very very long time—she conceived before Voyager went to the Badlands, “Cold Fire” was ten months after that, and there’ve been eleven episodes since then—so maybe don’t ask her to crouch down and do stuff for you because you’re too impatient to wait for your turn in the maintenance schedule? Also, in case I didn’t make it clear already, Wildman is a xenobiologist, which means she knows, basically, nothing about fixing tech. That’s an engineer’s job.
And then there’s the ending. Why are Kim #2 and baby Wildman #2 the only ones that Janeway #2 sends over? At this point, Voyager #1 has 146 people on board (they had 154 when they left the Ocampa homeworld, seven have died, and one left the ship after being exposed as a spy), and one of those 146 is confined to quarters for being a murderer. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Janeway #2 to give a general order for anyone who doesn’t want to die (and hadn’t already been killed by the Vidiians) to head through the rift? Yes, it would mean those people would have a duplicate working alongside them, but Voyager needs bodies, plus why shouldn’t those duplicates have the option to live if they want? (I mean, if Will Riker can live with it…)
Having said all that, the episode in between those two bits is fantastic. Sure, the technobabble flies fast and furious, but it works, and actually makes sense within the already-established logic of Trek science. (Well, okay, most of it—not really sure why the Vidiians couldn’t detect Voyager #1, nor why that ship was left unaffected by Voyager #2 going boom.)
The tension in the first few acts is powerful, as Voyager is falling apart around everyone, and nobody has any idea why. We even get tragedy, and for all that we know that neither Kim nor the Wildman baby are going to stay dead, because it’s television, the stakes are still upped by those two characters dying.
And then there’s the brilliant transition as Janeway abandons the bridge, and we cut to another, intact Voyager. The sudden jump to another Voyager that’s in the middle of its own story is beautifully realized, as effective as similar transitions in one of Brannon Braga’s best scripts, “Parallels” on TNG.
The pacing is superb, with the action moving quickly and efficiently by the always-reliable David Livingston. (Apparently, his scenes were so quick and efficient that the episode ran short and they had to quickly write and shoot extra scenes so it would fit in the 42-minute timeframe.)
But, once again, we get no consequences. For the second episode in a row, Voyager suffers near-catastrophic damage, yet there will be no sign of it by the time the next episode starts. And no attempts are even made to make the restoration of the status quo subtle, as Janeway #2 just sends Kim #2 and the baby over because it’s “only fair,” which is so forced…
Still, it’s a fun, strong action episode with a fun and wacky science fiction premise that gives Kate Mulgrew a chance to act opposite herself to delightful effect.
Warp factor rating: 7
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be attending KAG Kon 2020: Home Invasion, an online event focusing on Klingon related stuff next weekend. Keith will be doing a reading, which will be available throughout the weekend, and also doing panel discussions on his Klingon fiction and Klingon religion. Here’s his schedule.