“Someone to Watch Over Me”
Written by Brannon Braga and Michael Taylor
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill
Season 5, Episode 22
Production episode 216
Original air date: April 28, 1999
Captain’s log. Seven has been observing Paris and Torres’ courtship from not-very-afar to the point where Torres confronts her about it and tells her to stop. Janeway later backs Torres up, saying that Seven shouldn’t be observing the crew like she’s out in the wild making notes on the mating habits of animals. She also suggests that Seven try first-hand experience by actually dating someone.
Voyager is starting relations with the Kadi, a very spiritual and very Puritanical people. They are sending an ambassador to Voyager named Tomin, while Janeway and Tuvok beam down to the Kadi homeworld. Neelix is Tomin’s handler while he’s on board, and he intends to give him all bland food and make sure he sees all of the ship and makes all his prayer meetings and such. Unfortunately, Tomin wants to try spicy foods and check out the holodeck, and do other hedonistic things, much to Neelix’s chagrin.
During a checkup in sickbay, the EMH and Seven discuss the incident with Torres and Janeway’s suggestion. The EMH volunteers to teach her how to date, starting with a primer on the holodeck on various mating rituals of Klingons, Bolians, and Species 8472 before settling on humans. He then takes her to Chez Sandrine on the holodeck, where she follows a script he’s written on meeting a person and striking up a conversation. While she chats up a holographic patron, Paris enters the holodeck and says that the EMH is wasting his time. Sure, she’s doing okay with a programmed potential date, but she’ll never be able to manage it with a real person. They make a wager: Seven will bring a date to Tomin’s reception on Thursday and leave with the same date without incident. If she does, Paris will work double shifts in sickbay. If she doesn’t, Paris doesn’t have to work in sickbay for a month.
Neelix is trying and failing to get Tomin to tour the ship and stick to the schedule, but all he wants to do is try more yummy food and also check out the women on the ship.
The EMH works with Seven to figure out her interests. The doctor mentions his own explorations of photography and music, and Seven mentions that she is interested in music. Thanks to her Borg vocal subprocessor, she has a superlative singing voice, and she and the EMH wind up doing a lovely duet of “You Are My Sunshine.”
After going over the crew roster, and with a bit of input from Kim, Seven decides to ask Lieutenant William Chapman from engineering out on a date. He is rather surprised by the offer, and, while befuddled, accepts.
The EMH convinces Seven to not dress like she normally does, providing her with a dress and encouraging her to wear her hair down. On the holodeck, the date goes awkwardly. Chapman thought the whole thing was a prank, and Seven has difficulty navigating eating lobster. The date comes to an ignominious end when they dance and Seven tears a ligament in Chapman’s shoulder.
Seven wants to call the whole thing off, but the EMH convinces her to take some dancing lessons. He shows her how to dance to an instrumental version of “Someone to Watch Over Me,” something the doctor actually finds himself enjoying immensely.
Later, Tomin gets drunk at Chez Sandrine. It turns out that the Kadi don’t have the enzyme that breaks down synthehol, so he’s actually getting drunk on the fake stuff. Neelix pours coffee down his throat and drags him to the reception in the mess hall. The EMH invites Seven to go along as his date, which she accepts. She even behaves almost human at the party, and Paris—who has been telling incredibly bad hologram jokes to Tomin. (“How do you bend a hologram’s ear? Use a prism. What did the counselor say to the hologram? You’re projecting.”) Tomin has never heard jokes before, so he thinks they’re hilarious.
Seven offers to fetch drinks, makes small talk, and even proposes a toast. Paris is impressed and says the EMH has won the wager. Seven is furious that the EMH only asked her to the reception to win a bet and storms out, pausing long enough to deflect the drunken pass Tomin makes at her. (Tomin, thankfully, passes out after that.)
Tomin is being reunited with his people the next day when Janeway and Tuvok return, and Neelix is scared that Tomin’s debauchery will torpedo the trade agreement. The EMH needs several days to synthesize the enzyme that will metabolize the booze, but they don’t have that kind of time. Seven’s nanoprobes can be used as a substitute because of course they can, and the EMH extracts some.
While doing so, the EMH apologizes for the wager. He assures her that his asking her to be his date was genuine, and motivated by how much closer he feels to Seven after these past few days of doing courtship lessons. Seven accepts the apology.
A very hung over Tomin goes to the transporter room to meet the Abbot, who is disappointed by Tomin’s lie that he didn’t succumb to temptation at least a little bit, as the Abbot feels that it’s worth trying the occasional new thing, as long as you don’t make a habit of it.
Paris sees that the EMH has completely fallen for Seven, and encourages him to use the direct approach and just tell her. We then see the EMH giving flowers to Seven in the cargo bay and declaring that he’s fallen in love with her. He doesn’t expect her to reciprocate, but he wants her to know how he feels. But then we discover that this is a practice run on the holodeck. When he encounters the real Seven, she says she has decided to discontinue her dating attempts, as there’s no one on board appropriate. If she changes her mind, she promises to go to the EMH for more advice.
Realizing that she doesn’t see him as any kind of romantic partner, the EMH dials it back, just saying that he’s come to value their friendship. He then goes to the holodeck and plays “Someone to Watch Over Me” on the piano.
There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway is the one who suggests that Seven try actually dating instead of watching other people date, which is what gets the whole mishegoss started.
Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok joins Janeway on the planet to meet with the Kadi. We’re told it goes well.
Half and half. Torres is incredibly not happy with Seven intruding on her and Paris’ love life, to the point where she threatens Seven with a busted nose. Nice to see Tuvok’s emotional-control meditation techniques are working so well!
Forever an ensign. Kim is greatly enthusiastic at the notion of Seven dating until she informs him that he’s not on her list of finalists, at which point you can see his crest fall. However, he gamely kibbitzes on her choices, pointing out that Ensign Bronowski does like music, but he also plays the accordion really badly and also has no sense of humor, leading Seven to cut him from the list.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH gets to play Cyrano, after a fashion, and also gets to sing and dance.
Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix is run ragged by Tomin, who refuses to stick to the plan and is instead is trying all the things that he’s been denied by the Kadi’s ascetic lifestyle.
Resistance is futile. Seven actually develops some conversational and dancing skills, and while it was a rhapsody in awkward, and ended very badly, her date with Chapman wasn’t a total disaster. And she can really sing…
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Let’s see, we have Seven chatting up a hologram, going on dates with Chapman and the EMH, and still being faunched after by Kim. We also find out that Paris and Torres have very loud sex, and that Tomin thinks women are hot.
What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. It’s the triumphant return of Chez Sandrine, which we haven’t seen since the end of season two…
“‘Stardate 52647, 1400 hours: Subjects quarrel in corridor outside female’s quarters. Male returns with twelve flowering plant stems, species rosa rubifolia, effecting a cessation of hostilities. Stardate 52648, 0300 hours: Intimate relations resume.’ How the hell do you know when we’re having intimate relations?”
“There is no one on deck nine, section twelve who doesn’t know when you’re having intimate relations.”
–Torres angrily reading Seven’s account of Paris and Torres’s relationship, and Seven saying “Bazinga!”
Welcome aboard. Two veteran character actors, Ian Abercrombie (the Abbot) and Brian McNamara (Chapman), guest star in this one. Abercrombie will return in “Spirit Folk” as one of the holographic stereotypes. David Burke (who will always hold a warm place in my heart for his doofy portrayal of Arthur in the first live-action version of The Tick) plays Seven’s holographic test date.
Trivial matters: The Chez Sandrine holodeck program was last seen in “Tuvix.” This is the last time it’s seen onscreen.
Chapman will be mentioned again in “Relativity.”
Seven declines to drink champagne during her date, as she says synthehol impairs her cortical functions, as she learned in “Timeless.”
The EMH defensively says to Paris that he’s had his share of romantic encounters, likely referring to Freya in “Heroes and Demons,” Denara Pel in “Lifesigns” and “Resolutions,” and Charlene in “Real Life.”
Klingon sex has been described as violent, as seen or implied in TNG’s “Hide and Q,” “The Dauphin,” and “The Emissary,” and DS9’s “Looking for par’Mach in All the Wrong Places,” so it’s perhaps not surprising that Paris and Torres can’t keep it quiet in the bedroom…
Laura Behr, the wife of DS9 show-runner Ira Steven Behr, choreographed the dancing in the episode.
Both Robert Picardo and Jeri Ryan did their own singing in the episode.
Neelix gives the crew complement of the ship as 146. This is the fourth different contradictory crew complement we’ve gotten this season, after 150 in “Timeless,” 152 in “Gravity,” and 143 in “Dark Frontier.” If only they’d written down the numbers in scripts that are saved, or perhaps preserved the episodes on some sort of filmic medium, then maybe they might have been able to maintain consistency…
Set a course for home. “You make me happy when skies are gray…” There are some wonderful bits in this romantic comedy that owes a lot to Pygmalion, My Fair Lady, My Favorite Year, and Cyrano de Bergerac, the same DNA that went into She’s All That, released the same year as this episode.
But there’s also a lot of cringe-worthy moments, starting with the EMH’s holodeck primer on courting rituals and the first painful trip to Chez Sandrine. We have yet another failure of imagination, as this hologram programmed by a 24th-century human who lives in a multispecies Federation showing Seven how to go on a date in a manner that would be exactly the same if done with two people in a United States bar in 1978.
Plus, what a spectacular waste of Scott Thompson. Arguably the most talented member of the Kids in the Hall (which is not to speak ill of his troupe-mates, Thompson’s just that good), he’s utterly wasted in a role that any mediocre comic actor could have done decently with. In fact, we saw two mediocre comic actors do this exact same story in TNG’s “Liaisons.” If you’re going to repeat something from a TNG episode, you should at least make it a good one, not one of the drearier entries in that show’s incredibly dreary final season.
There are some charming moments, particularly the duet of “You Are My Sunshine,” the disastrous date with Chapman, and the absolutely heartbreaking ending. Seven is oblivious to the EMH’s feelings (likely not realizing he even is capable of such), and the EMH’s dialing back his intended declaration tugs at the heartstrings, despite the creepiness of the setup. And his sad singing of the titular song at the end is the perfect tragic coda to this hit-and-miss episode.
Warp factor rating: 5
Keith R.A. DeCandido has two recent releases. There’s the short story “In Earth and Sky and Sea Strange Things There Be” featuring Ayesha from H. Rider Haggard’s She in Turning the Tied, a charity anthology from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. And then there’s “Transcript of the Mayoral Debate Between Batman and the Penguin” in BIFF! BAM! EEE-YOW!: The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66—Season Two, his piece on “Hizzoner the Penguin”/”Dizzoner the Penguin.” Ordering links can be found here.