Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Revulsion”

“Revulsion”
Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by Kenneth Biller
Season 4, Episode 5
Production episode 173
Original air date: October 1, 1997
Stardate: 51186.2

Captain’s log. On an alien ship, Dejaren drags a body with a head wound through a corridor. Then his body fizzles and fades for a second. He sends out a distress signal, saying he’s the only survivor of the ship, and he’s an isomorphic projection—a hologram.

On Voyager, Tuvok’s promotion ceremony is followed by the bridge calling, and recommending the EMH join Janeway on the bridge. They hear Dejaren’s distress call, and the EMH is champing at the bit to respond and help his fellow hologram. He practically bullies an amused Janeway into taking a shuttlecraft with Torres to answer the distress call while Voyager continues on their trading mission.

Chakotay assigns Kim to work with Seven on upgrading the astrometrics lab, using Borg knowledge and tech to enhance the lab. Kim nervously accepts the assignment.

Torres and the EMH rendezvous with Dejaren’s ship. Dejaren is thrilled to meet another hologram, and disappointed that Torres is an organic. The EMH is also excited. Torres works to repair the holoemitters on the ship.

According to Dejaren, the crew suffered from a virus. But Dejaren—whose job appears to primarily be maintenance—has no medical programming, so he just had to stand around and watch them die. When Torres asks for access to his primary holomatrix, Dejaren says it’s belowdecks in a section that is filled with deadly radiation. He directs her to a remote access point instead.

Seven and Kim work on the astrometrics lab. She finishes one aspect of the work faster than Kim expects, and Seven is offended when Kim checks her work. Then she’s shocked when he discovers a minor error, which she corrects. But the notion of being imperfect is new to her. Kim also has to stop her from grabbing an active power line with her left hand. Seven insists her exoskeleton would protect her, but Kim insists she follow procedure and turn the power off first.

Dejaren is fascinated by the EMH’s stories of his gaining the ability to move outside sickbay with his mobile emitter, as well as his adventures and pursuing of outside interests. Dejaren shows the EMH the holographic fish he created. He also brings Torres some food, and when she starts eating it, he goes off on a tirade about how awful organics are. Dejaren also almost touches an active power line that would destabilize his matrix.

Torres expresses concern to the EMH, both regarding Dejaren’s outburst, and also that, according to Torres’s scans, he lied about the lower decks being irradiated. She intends to check those decks out while the EMH keeps an eye on his fellow hologram.

Kim and Seven need to liberate a navigation node from a Borg array, but it’s jammed. The act of yanking it out causes a small cut on Seven’s hand. She is devastated to see that it isn’t healing instantly. Instead, she has to go to sickbay, where Paris is filling in. Paris’ smartass bedside manner goes completely over Seven’s head, but Kim takes offense on her behalf, causing Paris to comment that Kim has a crush on her. Kim’s denials are unconvincing.

Torres arrives on the lower decks to find several murdered bodies being stored down there. She starts to shut down Dejaren’s holomatrix, since she’s now certain he’s a murderer.

Dejaren tries to convince the EMH to run away with him to be awesome holograms together. Then he realizes what Torres is doing, and he transfers himself to her location and attacks her, making his hand intangible and putting it inside Torres’s chest, and then partially materializing it. Torres manages to hit the switch to turn him off before she’s killed.

Unfortunately, Torres didn’t shut down all the holoemitters, as the EMH realizes when he sees that the fish is still there. Dejaren and the EMH then have a fight that seems to be a stalemate, since they can both make themselves intangible—but the mobile emitter is still on the physical plane regardless, and Dejaren damages it.

Star Trek: Voyager "Revulsions"

Screenshot: CBS

Kim invites Seven to an empty, darkened mess hall late at night, ostensibly to work on the lab, but in reality so he can try to convince her to be his girlfriend. Seven cuts through the adolescent bullshit and orders him to take off his clothes, assuming that copulation is what he’s after. Having been called out, Kim ends the evening, and Seven goes back to her alcove in the cargo bay.

Dejaren chases a barely conscious Torres through the ship, but she activates a power line and manages to hit him with it, destabilizing his matrix. Then she repairs the mobile emitter so the EMH returns, and they head to the shuttle.

Chakotay summons Kim for a report on astrometrics. Kim says he doesn’t want to continue on the project, even though it’s kind of his baby—obviously because he’s uncomfortable around Seven, but Chakotay orders him. Chakotay feigns ignorance about the real reason for Kim’s discomfort, but his grin after Kim leaves makes it clear that he knows damn well what’s going on.

The EMH and Torres return to Voyager, and Torres is treated. The EMH complains initially about the mess Paris left sickbay in, but he decides that a little clutter is a good thing.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Kim and Seven start the major upgrades to the astrometrics lab, which will become an important location on Voyager going forward, and also will be Seven’s primary base of operations on the ship.

There’s coffee in that nebula! This episode establishes that Voyager is not Janeway’s first command, as she first met Tuvok nine years previously following a mission on her first command.

Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok is given a promotion to lieutenant commander. This is particularly amusing given that he had lieutenant commander’s pips as a costuming error during the first season. The promotion ceremony is a semi-dignified affair, with the crew gathered in the mess hall and telling stories about Tuvok—including embarrassing ones from Kim and Paris. Janeway also tells of her first meeting with Tuvok: he dressed her down in front of a bunch of admirals for failing to follow procedure during a review.

Star Trek: Voyager "Revulsion"

Screenshot: CBS

Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Janeway has officially given Neelix the ambassadorship she jokingly promised him in “Macrocosm,” and in that capacity he sets up a trading conference with the Arritheans.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH is thrilled to meet a fellow hologram. He’s less thrilled to realize he’s a psychotic mass murderer.

Forever an ensign. Kim has a crush on Seven, but his attempts at flirtation are pretty much guaranteed to fail on the very literal-minded ex-Borg.

Resistance is futile. Seven is disturbed to see the negative impact of her becoming more human: she doesn’t heal from injuries as quickly, she makes mistakes, and she doesn’t understand human social interactions at all.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Besides Kim flirting with Seven, we’ve got Paris and Torres having a proper kiss, as they finally finish the conversation they started in their EVA suits at the end of “Day of Honor.” At this point, it’s safe to say that their relationship has officially started.

Do it.

“During my three years on Voyager, I have grown to respect a great many of you. Others I have learned to tolerate.”

–Tuvok bringing the brutal honesty and the sass to his promotion ceremony.

Welcome aboard. Dejaren is the third of four roles on Trek for Leland Orser, who played Gai in DS9’s “Sanctuary” and the changeling posing as Colonel Lovok in DS9’s “The Die is Cast,” and who will play Loomis in Enterprise’s “Carpenter Street.”

Trivial matters: This is Kenneth Biller’s first time directing an episode, one of the few people who have both written and directed for Trek. Starting out as executive story editor in the first season and working his way up to executive producer in the seventh, Biller will have written or cowritten thirty-five episodes by the time it’s done, and also will direct another, “One.”

This episode was filmed back to back with “Day of Honor,” and Paris indicates that the events of the prior episode was only three days before, which barely leaves enough time for “Nemesis” to have happened.

Kim and Seven previously worked together in “The Gift,” in which she rendered him unconscious after trying to contact the Borg Collective.

Paris mentions Kim’s falling for impossible-to-attain women before, likely referring to his crush on Marayna in “Alter Ego.”

Dejaren asks the EMH what his name is, and the doctor replies that he doesn’t have one and that it’s a long story. His search for a name has been a theme in “Eye of the Needle,” “Heroes and Demons,” “Dreadnought,” “Lifesigns,” “Before and After,” and “Real Life,” among others.

Tuvok and Janeway’s first meeting is also seen in Jeri Taylor’s novel Mosaic.

Star Trek: Voyager "Revulsion"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “They do require quite a bit of maintenance, don’t they?” In the Red Dwarf episode “Kryten” we meet the titular service droid, who has been serving the crew of the Nova 5 for centuries—the problem being that the crew is long dead. Kryten has ignored this fact, and continued to serve the, ah, skeleton crew. (Sorry.)

I mention that because this episode reminded me a lot of that Red Dwarf episode, and I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing. Actually, I think what would have made this episode better was if it was more like that British comedy show.

The biggest problem is the opening shot, where we see Dejaren dragging around a dead body that had suffered a massive head wound. Right there in the very first scene, we’ve got evidence that Dejaren is a murderer. Now, he might just have been the guy left to clean it up, but then he lies when he tells the away team that the crew died of an illness. It takes the wind out of the plot’s sails to see that gaping head wound right off.

It might have been more interesting to do something along the lines of what happened to Kryten on the Nova 5: the crew died, and Dejaren doesn’t know why, he was just left to clean up the bodies. It might have added more tragedy to his pitiful existence.

Instead, he’s just another embittered fictional menial worker who snaps and goes on a killing spree. Leland Orser does the best he can with the role. It’s amusing to compare this to his role as Lovok on DS9, who was cold and unemotional. Here, he’s all over the place, on purpose, and it’s a good performance, one that elevates a rather pedestrian script.

Though, to be fair, the worst parts of the script involve Kim and Seven, with the former’s adolescent idiocy and the latter’s literal-minded directness giving us something that belongs more in a teen comedy than a Star Trek episode. It’s immature, it’s tiresome, and it just makes Kim out to be a moron. Is he really interested in dating her? If so, why does he think she’ll respond like a human would? Is he really just interested in sex? If so, why turn her down when she offers it? I do like that Chakotay doesn’t let Kim get away with trying to slink away from the project, as he’s supposed to be, y’know, a professional and shouldn’t let personal considerations get in the way of an important assignment.

The best parts of the episode are at the beginning of Act 1 and have nothing to do with the rest of this episode, but do matter for the show going forward: Tuvok’s promotion and Paris and Torres finally starting their romance. The former is a delightful, low-key ceremony (much better than the simply bizarre clipper-ship holodeck thing in Generations), with Tim Russ as usual nailing the Vulcan sass and dry wit. And the latter has actually been moving along nicely. I’m not the biggest Tom Paris fan, but his relationship with Torres is good for him, and makes him far more tolerable, and it doesn’t diminish Torres. This’ll be fun to watch.

Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be a guest at the virtual Capclave this weekend. Check his schedule here!

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