Written by André Bormanis
Directed by Alexander Singer
Season 4, Episode 13
Production episode 182
Original air date: January 14, 1998
Captain’s log. Janeway, Tuvok, Kim, and Paris are all dreaming. Janeway dreams that she enters the mess hall to find it full of cobweb-covered corpses of the crew, because she didn’t get them home in time. Tuvok reports to the bridge completely naked. Paris is in a shuttle that suffers a catastrophic failure and he can’t get through to Voyager for help. And Kim is seduced by Seven. They all see an unfamiliar alien in the dream.
Janeway, Paris, and Kim are all late for their shift on the bridge. (Tuvok, of course, is on time anyhow.) Janeway arrives and notices that Kim and Paris are late, and she tells Chakotay of her dream—Paris arrives in the middle of it, and we learn that Chakotay also had a weird dream involving him hunting a deer. And they both saw a strange alien, and Paris and Tuvok admit that they saw a similar alien in their dream.
Kim still hasn’t reported, and he’s not answering comms. The computer says he’s in his quarters, so Janeway and Tuvok go there to see Kim in a deep sleep and apparently unable to wake up.
Turns out, he’s not the only one. Several crewmembers are now in sickbay, in a deep enough REM sleep that they defy all of the EMH’s attempts to revive them. The still-awake members of the senior staff jointly compose an image of the alien. Seven doesn’t recognize the species as one the Borg has encountered. And there are no planets that can sustain life or ships in sensor range.
Chakotay suggests contacting them via dreams—specifically a lucid dream, one in which the dreamer is aware that they’re dreaming. With the help of his vision quest gadgets, Chakotay can induce a lucid dream and try to communicate with the alien. He uses an image of Earth’s moon as an anchor point, and will tap his wrist three times to wake up.
He finds himself on Voyager holding a spear, hunting a deer. He sees Earth’s moon in a window, and knows then that he’s in a dream, but aware of it. The deer morphs into the alien, who is shocked to see that Chakotay is aware that he’s dreaming. He says that he believes Voyager to be a threat. Chakotay assures him that they aren’t. They’re just passing through, and the alien tells him to go to a six-planet star system less than a parsec away. That’s the outermost border of their space.
Chakotay wakes himself up and shares what happened. Tuvok finds the six-planet system on sensors and Paris sets a course. As they approach the system, Kim and the others finally wake up. Seven asks Kim to go with her to the same Jefferies Tube that Seven invited him to in his dream for smooching, and Kim backs off saying he’s still recovering. Torres, Paris, Kim, and Tuvok discuss their dreams in the mess hall, including Torres teasing Kim when he won’t give details of his.
Suddenly, the ship is under attack. The aliens lured them into a trap, and they board Voyager and take everyone in the crew hostage. While Janeway and Chakotay are trying to find a way to escape from the cargo bay where they’re being held, Chakotay catches sight of Earth’s moon—
—at which point he realizes that he never woke up from the lucid dream. He taps his hand three times, and wakes up for realsies this time. According to the EMH, he’s been asleep for two days, and the entire rest of the crew has also fallen asleep—except for the doctor, anyhow. Based on the brainwave patterns of the entire crew, they’re all having the same dream. Chakotay realizes that the aliens put them in a joint dream. The EMH has also detected a neurogenic field on board, and Chakotay hits on the idea of trying to find a neurogenic field to locate the aliens.
In the shared dream, Janeway and the others figure out that they’re all dreaming, but they have to act as if they’re still on Voyager trying to take the ship back. Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres manage to escape the cargo bay and head to engineering. Torres tries to kill the alien dampening field, but instead trigger a warp-core breach—which doesn’t actually destroy the ship or kill everyone. That proves it’s a dream, and the aliens’ weapons can no longer harm them.
After falling asleep again, and only realizing he’s dreaming when he sees the moon in the viewscreen, Chakotay pilots the ship to the aliens’ planet. He beams down, carrying a stimulant the EMH gave him in case he nods off again. But he decides to give the stimulant to one of the aliens and tells him to shut the neurogenic field off, or he’ll have the EMH blow the planet up.
While Chakotay nods off and winds up in the shared dream, his threat is taken, and the aliens turn off the field. However, the crew finds itself unwilling to go back to sleep after that…
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? The device Chakotay uses to induce vision quests (seen just last episode with Neelix) can also induce a lucid dream, apparently. Lucid dreams are a real thing, by the way, and writer André Bormanis has had many such dreams in his time, which is what inspired the episode.
There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway’s nightmare is that she won’t get the crew home before they all die.
Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok has the standard anxiety dream of showing up for duty naked, but in his case, he’s obviously more perturbed at being out of uniform (and from the humans’ discomfort) than from any particular taboo against nudity, as he acts in no way embarrassed nor does he try to cover up when he realizes he’s naked.
Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix’s nightmares were sufficiently bad that he accidentally pours cooking oil into Paris’ coffee mug.
Half and half. Torres is now wearing a jacket with several tools in a pocket. This wardrobe change was done to accommodate Roxann Dawson’s pregnancy, which was starting to become very visible at this point.
Forever an ensign. Sigmund Freud once said that every dream is a wish. Kim’s dream is for Seven to seduce him, so Freud was probably right.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH once again proves invaluable by virtue of not being organic, as his lack of need for sleep keeps him safe from the aliens. (“No rest for the not-weary.”)
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Paris’ nightmare causes him to oversleep and miss a breakfast date with Torres. Meanwhile, Kim’s dream is of Seven seducing him, which is the only one of the four we see in the teaser that isn’t really a nightmare. (And yes, the last thing she says before smooching Kim is, “Resistance is futile.”)
What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. Torres and Paris arrange a date on the holodeck for the upcoming Friday, while Kim and Paris play hoverball on the holodeck in order to avoid going to sleep at the end.
“Let’s go skiing. How about St. Moritz?”
“We went skiing last time.”
“And you loved it! You’re getting really good, y’know.”
“I just thought maybe we could run a program where the wind-chill factor wasn’t thirty below zero, like Fiji or Samoa.”
“There’s nothing to do there.”
“And you can be warm while you’re not doing it.”
“How about a compromise? Spring skiing in Chile? Much warmer…”
“A compromise? How about Tahiti?”
“Tahiti. As long as I can go waterskiing, fine.”
–Paris and Torres trying to figure out their upcoming holodeck date.
Welcome aboard. The only guest is Mark Colson as the alien. Neither the alien himself nor his species ever get a name.
Trivial matters: This was Alexander Singer’s last work in the biz, as it were. He was 69 years old when he directed this episode, and it’s also his last credit, as he has remained retired since. His career goes back to the early 1950s, and he’s directed for dozens of TV shows since 1961 from Lost in Space to The Fugitive to The Monkees to Mission: Impossible to Police Story to Police Woman to Lou Grant to Dallas to Cagney and Lacey, to each of the first three Trek spinoffs.
This is the fourth time a Trek actor has gotten pregnant. Like with Gates McFadden on TNG, Roxann Dawson’s is being written around. (Though the holodeck character she’ll be playing in “The Killing Game” two-parter will be pregnant to accommodate her.) The others, Nana Visitor on DS9 and Martha Hackett here on Voyager, were written into the storylines.
Set a course for home. “If I don’t contact my ship, you and I are both going to die in our sleep.” This is a nifty little episode, nothing world-changing, but it works. It’s a good vehicle for Chakotay with only minimal fake-Indian bullshit (limited mainly to one utterance of the nonsense phrase “ah-koo-chee-moya”). But lucid dreaming is a real thing, and while it didn’t need to be Chakotay who suggested it, it makes sense, especially given that he’s got experience with induced altered states through the vision quests.
I also like the way André Bormanis’ script plays with expectations. The revelation that Chakotay is still sleeping is an effective twist—much like the revelation in TNG’s “Ship in a Bottle” that Picard, Data, and Barclay are still in the holodeck—and it casts doubt on everything that happens after it, as you never know if Chakotay is really awake or asleep.
The only part of the episode that rings false is Kim’s “nightmare,” which is him being seduced by Seven. Kim’s crush on the ex-Borg has been pretty ineptly handled thus far this season, and this doesn’t really help matters. Everyone else had a legitimate nightmare—okay, Tuvok’s was low-stakes, but still.
It’s not clear how, exactly, these aliens could have evolved, but the script hangs a lantern on that by having the crew wonder the same thing. It would’ve been nice if they had come up with a bit more Star Trek-ish a solution than threatening to blow them up, but not everyone is going to come around and want to talk, I suppose.
Warp factor rating: 7