Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 3, Episode 24
Production episode 166
Original air date: May 7, 1997
Captain’s log. Paris and Torres depart the holodeck, arguing, when suddenly a humanoid appears out of nowhere in the corridor, acting very confused. So are Torres and Paris, who take him to sickbay.
The man, whose name is Dammar from Nyria III, claims he was just walking down the street and then suddenly he was on Voyager. The EMH examines him, and dims the lights and raises the temperature a bit to make it more comfortable for him. Janeway and Tuvok question him, and try to figure out what’s going on. Kes isn’t in sickbay, to the EMH’s annoyance, and when Janeway consults the computer for her location, everyone is stunned to realize she’s off-ship—and has been since the very moment that Dammar appeared.
Nine minutes and twenty seconds later, Kim disappears from engineering in the middle of him and Torres trying to determine where Dammar came from. At the same time, another Nyrian appears on the bridge.
This keeps happening. Janeway has the Nyrians put in the cargo bays for the time being. Tuvok has attempted to remodulate the shields, but it’s not helping. He’s about to try something else when he disappears.
Torres theorizes that Voyager may have passed by a wormhole as it was forming and snagged it, so it’s travelling with them. Janeway is in the middle of telling Neelix—who’s helping take care of the Nyrians—to find Rislan, the physicist among them, when she disappears.
Rislan seems to be trying to help Torres figure out what’s going on, but when she starts to get too close, Rislan knocks out the security guard who escorted him and then transports Torres away.
She finds herself on an Earth-like world with the other missing members of Voyager’s crew. She quickly realizes that they’re prisoners.
Back on Voyager, Chakotay realizes that something is amiss when Rislan’s guard is found unconscious and unarmed and Rislan and Torres are both missing. Chakotay and Acting Security Chief Lang do their best to secure the ship and maintain order, but it’s a losing battle with people disappearing every ten minutes.
Eventually, Chakotay and Crewman Gennaro are the only ones left. Chakotay performs a bunch of sabotage and also manages to download the EMH to the mobile emitter before he, too, is taken (with the mobile emitter in hand). He’s the last one, and Voyager is now in the hands of the Nyrians.
Taleen, a Nyrian woman, speaks to the assembled Voyager crew explaining that this is their home now. It’s an atmosphere designed to suit them, with plenty of food and supplies and stuff from their cultural database. They won’t lack for stuff to occupy their time. Tuvok investigates the other two habitats where Voyager crew has been taken (because 100+ extras isn’t in the budget) and confirms that there’s no way out on foot—the region is on an island with cliffs at the coasts.
Jarlath, an alien of an unknown species, steps through a portal from one of the other habitats. He and his people have been there for ages, and it took him forever to find this portal to the Voyager area. He wants to barter with them. Jarlath confirms that the Nyrians kidnapped his people in the same manner that Voyager’s crew was taken: one at a time, seemingly a random occurrence, and by the time they realized it was a coordinated, covert assault, it was too late.
However, Janeway focuses on the fact that there are other habitats—and possibly other portals like the one Jarlath found. While Tuvok, aided by Chakotay and Neelix, puts together a couple of weapons from scavenged parts from various bits of equipment around the habitat, Torres adjusts the EMH’s optical inputs to read microwaves in the hopes of detecting another portal.
He finds one. Janeway, Tuvok, Paris, and Torres go through the portal to find a narrow corridor, with several other entrances to other habitats. It soon becomes clear that they’re on a ship, the habitats are each artificially created to suit the occupants of whatever ships the Nyrians steal.
Janeway and Tuvok find the control for the translocator they used to board Voyager. It’s very powerful, but only able to exchange one person for another at a time every ten minutes.
Meanwhile, Torres and Paris are pursued by the Nyrians, who have discovered their escape. While Dammar sets course back to the Nyrian ship on Voyager, he also orders Taleen to use force if necessary.
Paris and Torres escape to a habitat that is in the midst of a blizzard and also broad daylight. Knowing the Nyrians won’t like that, Paris suggests it not realizing the Torres’s Klingon physiology is also susceptible to cold.
Tuvok and Janeway figure out the controls to the translocator, after fending off Taleen’s people. (Tuvok distributes neck pinches while Janeway uses Tuvok’s improvised weapon.) First they get Torres and Paris in out of the cold, then send Dammar and Rislan to the frigid habitat that Paris and Torres were in. Janeway offers them a deal: free everyone and return them home, or they all get translocated to this frigid habitat. Dammar initially resists, but eventually capitulates.
Voyager contacts all the places from which the other prisoners were taken and tells them where to find their missing people, then continue on their way home.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Tuvok is able to improvise two weapons with scavenged parts. Chakotay praises his ingenuity. Later, Torres is able to extend the life of the power cell.
There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway is suspicious of the Nyrians from jump, a fear that proves reasonable. She also wastes no time in trying to get out of their prison, never once considering Jarlath’s notion of giving in.
Mr. Vulcan. After improvising the weapons, Tuvok is able to dope out the translocator controls, with Janeway’s help. Because they’re just that awesome.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH gets to pretend to be a tricorder, as he himself complains, when Torres adjusts his optic sensors to pick up the portals.
Also at one point, the EMH kibitzes with psychoanalysis during Torres and Paris’s argument, until Torres shuts off his voice. After Paris storms off, the EMH shoves his elbow with the mobile emitter and pouts at her until she restores his voice.
Half and half. Torres is annoyed when Paris accuses her of being hostile after she yells at him following their holodeck adventure.
Forever an ensign. Kim is understandably nervous when Torres starts grilling him on the subject of whether or not she’s hostile. Kim’s denials are, to say the least, unconvincing.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Paris and Torres are in the they’re-arguing-so-much-that-the-kiss-is-inevitable stage of their flirting, though they haven’t actually gotten to the kissing bit yet.
What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. One of the Nyrians appears on the holodeck in the Paxau Resort program, and at the end of the episode, Paris and Torres enjoy a quiet moment there. In addition, the ship apparently has a Klingon calisthenics program that is likely similar to the one Worf had on the Enterprise-D as seen in “Where Silence Has Lease,” “The Emissary,” and “New Ground.”
“How do you like your first day as chief of security, Ensign?”
“It’s everything I dreamed of, sir.”
“Who says there’s no room for advancement on this ship?”
–Chakotay and Lang bantering while trying to hold the ship together with a diminishing crew.
Welcome aboard. All the guests in this episode have appeared on Trek elsewhere. Mark L. Taylor played one of the colonists on TNG’s “The Ensigns of Command” before appearing as Jarlath here. James Noah played a scientist on DS9’s “Rejoined” before appearing as Rislan here. Nancy Younglut will play a Klingon officer on DS9’s “Once More Unto the Breach” after appearing as Taleen here. And Deborah Levin returns as Ensign Lang, having previously appeared in “Blood Fever“; she’ll be back in “Year of Hell” next year.
And then we have our Robert Knepper moment, as I totally forgot that the great character actor Kenneth Tigar was in this as Dammar. Tigar previously played an Ornaran on TNG’s “Symbiosis,” had the recurring role of Mr. Kopeckne on Barney Miller, and is possibly best known these days as the German citizen who stood up to Loki in Avengers (“There are always men like you”).
Trivial matters: The episode opens with Paris and Torres leaving the holodeck after doing a Klingon calisthenics program that Torres agreed to do with Paris after losing a bet in “Distant Origin.”
For the second week in a row, the Voyager crew complement is listed as 148, even though there should only be 142 people on board (one of whom is the EMH, another of whom is the Wildman baby).
Tuvok mentions the Rite of Tal’oth, which sounds very similar to the kahs-wan ritual from the animated episode “Yesteryear.” The Titan novel The Red King by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin explicitly stated the ritual to be a more advanced version of the kahs-wan. The ritual would be seen again in a comic book story featuring Spock that ran in Wired in 2009 written by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci with art by Paul Pope.
This episode establishes the Klingon susceptibility to cold temperatures, which will be seen again in DS9’s “Change of Heart,” and which also explains why their worst prison is on an ice planet, as seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Set a course for home. “Welcome to sickbay—take a number.” One of the difficulties with Voyager’s premise as a ship that is focused on getting home is that sometimes that overriding need is, well, overriding. Specifically, it sometimes overrides the fact that, at its heart, Star Trek is heroic fiction. The people we see in Star Trek shows are supposed to be heroes. It’s not a coincidence that so many Trek episodes begin with the main characters responding to a distress call.
In this episode, Voyager’s crew are heroes, and it’s a joy to see. Yes, Janeway is suspicious of the Nyrians, but not so much that she treats them poorly. And when it’s all over, Janeway has as much concern for all the other prisoners—even though she’s only met one of them—as she does for her own people and makes sure that everyone the Nyrians captured is freed. This is a nice change from, for example, “Faces,” where the crew despicably left a whole bunch of the Vidiians’ slave-labor-cum-organ-sources behind to die in the slave camp, including the guy who helped Paris, Torres, and Durst out. And, of course, it’s in keeping with “Rise” and “Dreadnought,” where Voyager risks their own lives to save others—not to mention the action that left them stranded, done to save the Ocampa.
In addition, the Nyrians’ method of, basically, stealing ships is pretty clever—and compassionate, in a twisted way. It enables them to play on the good-heartedness of the people in question, and by the time they realize what’s wrong, they’re outnumbered. Aside from Rislan clubbing a security guard on the head, no one was actually hurt in the Nyrians’ takeover. And while it is a prison, at least it’s a nice prison.
It’s to Janeway and the gang’s credit that they don’t accept the gilded nature of the cage for a nanosecond, and work from jump to get out, taking advantage of the unique nature of the EMH to find their way into the heart of the prison.
A good science fiction episode, and a good reminder that our heroes are, well, heroes.
Warp factor rating: 8
Keith R.A. DeCandido did a whole mess of programming at the virtual Dragon Con over Labor Day weekend. Click here for videos of just about everything he did, including a reading and panels on a wide variety of subjects.