Written by Jeri Taylor
Directed by Kenneth Biller
Season 4, Episode 25
Production episode 193
Original air date: May 13, 1998
Captain’s log. Seven is on the holodeck, trying to learn how to have conversations with people, under the supervision of the EMH. However, she treats “getting to know you” questions as an interrogation, and barely gives Torres and Kim time to answer the questions she asks before moving on. The EMH castigates her for her behavior, and she decides she’d rather go to sickbay to perform medical maintenance than keep going through this program.
Voyager reaches a Mutara-class nebula, but it gives off radiation that is instantly harmful, giving the crew headaches and burns. One crewmember dies before Tuvok—who is slightly more resistant—is able to reverse course.
The nebula is too large to go around without costing them a year’s travel time. It’ll take a month to go through, but the crew will be in danger. Janeway’s decision, based on the EMH’s recommendation, is to put the crew in stasis in chambers that will protect them from the radiation. Only the EMH and Seven—who wasn’t affected the first time they approached the nebula—will remain active and will run the ship. Chakotay expresses concern privately to Janeway that they’re leaving the ship in the hands of an ex-Borg and a hologram, but she doesn’t see that they have a choice. She also trusts Seven, more than the others do. Chakotay agrees to go with her instincts.
Kim and Paris get put in stasis, Paris bitching the entire time. Janeway goes in last, reminding Seven that the EMH is in charge as chief medical officer. Seven is skeptical of the notion of a hologram being in charge, but accedes.
Seven establishes a routine for her daily life aboard ship. She checks on ship’s systems, makes course corrections as necessary, eats nutritional supplements in the mess hall, and also deals with Paris, who has managed to get himself out of his stasis chamber.
However, the EMH and Seven have been grating on each others’ nerves. He suggests a holodeck excursion, and the EMH creates a party in the mess hall. Seven’s idea of small talk is to conscript the holographic versions of Neelix and Janeway to help her with her notions of using the warp field to protect them better from the radiation. The EMH and Seven break into an argument, and start to think they need to avoid each other’s company for a while.
Then an alarm goes off: there’s a warp-core breach. The EMH goes to the bridge while Seven goes to engineering, but when she arrives, the warp core is fine. Turns out that the bioneural gelpacks are being affected, and they’re making the computer give false readings. While they’re in the Jefferies Tube fixing them, the EMH’s mobile emitter starts to futz out. Seven gets back to sickbay in time, but the emitter is toast, so the doctor is now trapped in sickbay.
Twenty-nine days into the journey, and Seven is having difficulties. She’s having strange dreams while regenerating. The computer is starting to fail, and the ship requires more maintenance than ever to get through the last six days of the nebula trip.
At one point, Seven thinks she hears Paris again, but he’s in his stasis chamber as he should be.
Sensors detect a one-person ship. Its occupant is an alien named Trajis Lo-Tarik, who is resistant to the radiation. His ship, not so much—he is attempting to be the first of his kind to make it all the way through the nebula. He also claims to have never heard of the Borg.
Trajis and Seven agree to a trade of a microfusion reactor for some liquid helium, but then Trajis asks if she as a former drone can handle the isolation. That gets Seven’s attention, as he said he’d never heard of the Borg. She pulls a phaser on him, but when she’s distracted by Paris’ phantom voice, he gets away.
The EMH insists there are no other life-form readings on board, but the ship isn’t exactly at 100% so it could just be malfunctioning. She goes to engineering, while Trajis comes over the intercom and threatens to damage the warp engines from the bridge. When Seven arrives, she sees Paris and Kim writhing on the deck and then bursting into flames. Seven cuts off life support to the bridge, which neutralizes Trajis. She reports this to the EMH, who has fixed his mobile emitter and will join her in engineering.
To her shock, Trajis arrives in engineering first, unharmed. She pulls a phaser on him again. The EMH enters to see that Seven is talking to no one—Trajis is a hallucination. The doctor informs her that her Borg implants are being affected in a manner similar to that of the gelpacks.
The EPS conduits overload, and the EMH can no longer stay active, as the repairs he made to the emitter are tied to the EPS conduits. He has to off-line for the rest of the trip, leaving Seven alone.
Seven’s final days in the nebula are spent hallucinating members of the crew, all looking injured from radiation burns, mocking her constantly, as well as a Borg drone doing likewise. The hallucinatory crew mocks her efforts to keep the propulsion systems going for the final push, using power from the stasis chambers to temporarily goose the engines before diverting life support back to the chambers. Denied life support, she passes out.
She awakens in sickbay. Once they cleared the nebula, the systems were no longer affected by the radiation. The EMH reactivated and woke everyone up from stasis. After accepting the gratitude of Janeway, Chakotay, and the EMH, she says she’s glad she could help.
Later, she goes to the mess hall and sits down with Kim, Paris, and Torres and actually engages them in conversation.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? It’s yet another made-up radiation, subnucleonic radiation! Which apparently gives you a headache and burns you alive. Unless you have Borg implants, in which case it gives you hallucinations after a few weeks in…
There’s coffee in that nebula! When told by the EMH that the only alternative to slicing a year off their journey by going around the nebula is to go through with only two people functioning, Janeway takes it. She also admits to Chakotay that her trust of Seven is still mostly borne of instinct.
Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok reminds everyone that Vulcans are stronger than humans by dealing with the radiation better than the humans on the bridge and moving the ship away from the nebula before anyone else dies.
Everybody comes to Neelix’s. On the holodeck, Seven asks Neelix for his help due to his knowledge of warp theory. Okay, then.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH is in charge of the ship for most of the trip through the nebula, due to a plan he himself suggested. Not self-serving at all!
Forever an ensign. The holographic Kim mentions that he was born in South Carolina. Between this and Sulu mentioning in The Voyage Home that he was born in San Francisco, the only two Asian opening-credits regulars in Trek to date aren’t actually from Asia. (This rather unfortunate streak will be broken with Hoshi Sato on Enterprise, who was born in Japan.)
Half and half. The holographic Torres reveals that Chakotay saved her life, and that is what led her to joining the Maquis.
Resistance is futile. Seven was once cut off from the Collective for two hours. It was very traumatic, but as nothing compared to what she goes through here.
Oh, and she saves everyone’s ass. Because she’s just that awesome.
What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. The EMH has been using holographic versions of the crew for Seven to practice her conversational skills on. It’s not going as well as he wishes. Ironically, it takes, not the holodeck, but her being virtually alone for the better part of a month (and completely so for the better part of a week) for his lessons to her to take.
“What if we had to get out in a hurry?”
“You can unlock the unit from inside, Tom.”
“Do I detect a hint of claustrophobia, Lieutenant?”
“Why do they have to design these things like coffins?”
“Should we replicate you a teddy bear?”
–Paris bitching about going into stasis and being trolled by Janeway, the EMH, and Kim.
Welcome aboard. Wade Williams and his resonant voice play Trajis. He’ll be back on Enterprise’s “Civilization” as Garos. For the second time in three episodes, one of Sports Night’s tech crew appears, as this time Ron Ostrow plays the Borg drone. (Timothy Davis-Reed appeared in “Living Witness.”)
Trivial matters: This episode was written off a pitch that James Swallow sold to Voyager, though he received no writing credit for the episode. Swallow, who was writing for several of the official Star Trek magazines at the time, has gone on to become a prolific Star Trek prose writer, with many novels and short stories to his credit, most recently the just-released Star Trek: Picard tie-in novel The Dark Veil.
This is the second directorial effort for Kenneth Biller, a producer on the show, and one of the few people who’ve both written and directed Trek installments. His other time behind the camera was “Revulsion.”
Torres joining the Maquis after Chakotay saved her life was established in scripter Jeri Taylor’s novel Pathways.
The nebula is referred to as a Mutara-class, the name likely deriving from the Mutara Nebula that was seen in The Wrath of Khan.
The incident where Seven was cut off from the Collective for two hours will be dramatized in “Survival Instinct.”
The crew member who dies on the bridge is the nineteenth confirmed death on board. There might be others who died in “The Killing Game, Part II,” but the crew complement should be between 130 and 140 at this point, despite Janeway’s reference to there being 150 people aboard.
And now for something really trivial: this episode, when it aired, set the record for shortest Trek episode title, vaulting past the original series’ “Miri.” It will be supplanted by “Q2” in season seven, and then again by “E2” in season three of Enterprise. (In case you’re wondering, “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” in the third season of the original series remains the longest, despite challenges from DS9 and Discovery.)
Set a course for home. “I am alone.” In 1997, when it was announced that Jeri Ryan—who had just recently starred on the one-season-and-done Dark Skies, a mediocre X-Files ripoff on which Ryan didn’t really stand out—would be joining Voyager’s cast, it seemed like an attempt to add T&A to the show at the expense of good storytelling.
That turned out not to be the case. Well, okay, it was partly the case, in that the character was very obviously created with the heterosexual male gaze in mind. But Ryan elevated the material, as did the writing. Yeah, Ryan was awful on Dark Skies, but so was J.T. Walsh, and he was one of the finest actors of his time.
While there’s a lot good to say about “One,” the thing it primarily accomplishes is provide a vehicle for the two breakout characters on the show: Seven of Nine and the Emergency Medical Hologram. Ryan and Robert Picardo continue to hone their double act and also show their skills solo as they spend most of the episode (even before the nebula) doing a two-person play. It’s not a coincidence that many of Trek’s most compelling characters have been the outsiders that have tried to fit in with the more “mainstream” humanoids they serve with—Spock, Data, Odo, Worf, Saru—and both the EMH and Seven are solidly in that mode. It’s especially entertaining to watch the EMH—whose own movement toward being more human has only really happened in fits and starts and who is, basically, an obnoxious asshole—try to teach Seven how to be friendlier with the crew.
The meat of the episode is Seven’s struggle with loneliness. This is the problems she initially faced in “The Gift” right after being separated from the Collective writ large: she has to spend a month with only the EMH and the voices in her head to talk to. Seven has no emotional depth to deal with this, and Ryan plays her helplessness perfectly, as it’s a strong and determined helplessness, one that refuses to surrender even though she’s obviously scared shitless. Kudos also to Wade Williams and Ron Ostrow for creating scary boogeymen for her to deal with, and also to the rest of the cast for playing their hallucinatory selves as snotty versions of themselves. (Except for Robert Duncan McNeill, whose hallucinatory snotty Paris is exactly the same as the real one.)
This is a superb character study of a character who has proven—not just on this show, but also on Picard—to be one of the strongest characters in the Trek universe.
Warp factor rating: 9
Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest novel was just released this week: Animal, a thriller he co-authored with Dr. Munish K. Batra about a serial killer who targets people who harm animals.