“The Haunting of Deck Twelve”
Written by Mike Sussman and Kenneth Biller & Bryan Fuller
Directed by David Livingston
Season 6, Episode 25
Production episode 245
Original air date: May 17, 2000
Captain’s log. Voyager is shutting down main power in order to enter a Class-J nebula. Unfortunately, this means that the regeneration alcoves in Cargo Bay 2 will also shut down, which means that the four Borg kiddos will awaken mid-cycle. Neelix is put in charge of them for the duration of the imposed blackout.
When Icheb, Mezoti, Azan, and Rebi awaken, they are full of questions about why they’re in a darkened cargo bay with Neelix, standalone lanterns providing the only light. Neelix says it’s just temporary, and his job is to occupy them while they get through this nebula.
The kiddos aren’t interested in any of Neelix’s potential diversions, wanting instead to know why they’re powered down. Mezoti asks if it has to do with the ghost on deck twelve. Neelix points out that there’s no such thing as ghosts, but Naomi told them that the restricted part of deck twelve was because of a ghost.
Neelix is finally convinced to tell the story of the “ghost” on deck twelve. It starts before the kiddos came on board. They were in a Class-J nebula gathering deuterium. Neelix is reminded of a time when a plasma drift passed through the Talaxian system, and for months, the cloud blotted out the view of the moon and stars.
Kim reports that the nadion emissions from the Bussard collectors are destabilizing the nebula. (Icheb tartly points out that the Bussard collectors don’t emit nadions. Neelix continues with the story anyhow.) Janeway and Chakotay agree to leave the nebula, even though they only have about eighty percent of the deuterium they were going for. There’s an energy discharge that does damage to the ship on the way out, and also an energy-based life form that attaches itself to the ship.
Chakotay reports numerous malfunctions—artificial gravity out on one deck, sonic showers not working, and Ensign Mulchaey bumped his head—and then Janeway asks for coffee from the replicator. It provides coffee, and then the mug a few seconds later, resulting in a replicator soaked in coffee. They add replicators to the list of malfunctions…
And then Janeway notes that they’re passing the same meteoroid cluster they passed an hour ago: they’re going around in circles. Paris reports that navigation seems to be working, but Tuvok runs a diagnostic and it turns out to be faulty. They’ve actually turned around. Before Paris can do anything, the ship jumps to warp six, then comes to a stop. Attempts to communicate with Torres fails, and when Janeway asks the computer to locate Torres, it provides the location, not just of Torres, but several crewmembers in succession. Chakotay heads to engineering in person, but first the turbolift drops him at the mess hall and then plunges several decks, nearly killing him. He arrives in engineering all cranky, where Torres has traced the problem to some gelpacks that got hit with EM bursts in the nebula.
Seven stops Tal from running a diagnostic, as she did something to cut power to astrometrics. But Tal hadn’t actually done anything yet—she was just about to start her diagnostic when Seven arrived.
Torres determines that the EM discharge has moved off from the gelpacks and is now jumping from system to system. It moves into Cargo Bay 2, where Seven is trying to track the malfunctions. Suddenly, Seven is trapped in the cargo bay with nebular gas being leaked into the bay. She manages to get the door open with manual override, but then she’s trapped in a corridor by force fields. Chakotay and Torres, also tracking malfunctions, find Seven asphyxiating. The force fields won’t go down via proper commands, so Chakotay shoots the control panel, and then they get Seven to sickbay.
Power fluctuates on the ship, and Kim tells everyone in the mess hall to report to duty stations. Neelix is left alone in the mess hall, at which point the power goes out, to his chagrin.
On the bridge, environmental controls have made the bridge a sauna, making everyone miserable (except for Tuvok, who’s quite comfortable). Paris regains helm control for about two seconds before a massive discharge strikes him, covering him in burns. Transporters are down, so they carry him to sickbay. In addition to Seven, there are also two crewmembers in sickbay who tried to vent nebular gases from deck seven, and were also hit with EM discharges.
Just as they realize that there’s an intelligence at work—possibly a lifeform that got stuck on board from the nebula and is trying to re-create the nebula’s atmosphere on board—power goes out all over the ship. Neelix, after being alone in a darkened mess hall for four hours, ventures forth only to have the shit scared out of him by Tuvok wearing a breathing mask. Together, they head for engineering. Elsewhere, Tal jumps Kim in a darkened corridor, thinking he’s a Hirogen or Borg. Kim calms her down and they also head to engineering.
Tuvok and Neelix become trapped in a Jefferies Tube by nebular gases. Tuvok tries to get Neelix to meditate while he works on the environmental controls, to uneven effect.
In engineering, Torres and Seven try to gain control of the ship. The computer states that Captain Janeway is in engineering, and Janeway realizes that the life form is using the computer’s voice interface to try to communicate. The entity directs her to astrometrics, and Janeway goes there with Seven. Through the computer the alien makes it clear that it just wants to go home.
Voyager returns to the nebula, but it’s gone—the destabilization continued after they left, and the nebula has dissipated. In anger, the alien has the computer instruct the crew to abandon ship and also cuts off communications and helm control. Tuvok gets hit with an EM discharge, and Neelix insists on dragging him to sickbay.
Janeway returns to engineering, trying to convince the alien to let them find another home for it. If the alien kills everyone on board, the alien will be stuck there forever.
Eventually, after a lot of shouting and coughing by Janeway, the alien gives in.
They create a sealed environment for the alien on deck twelve—that’s the “haunted” section—and then continued on their way. They finally found another Class-J nebula and are placing the alien there. Main power is off just in case.
Power is restored, and the kiddos are dubious as to whether or not Neelix’s story was true—Icheb assumes not because of the nadion emissions thing. Once they’re regenerating again, Neelix goes to the bridge and sees a Class-J nebula on the screen with an electronic bit flitting through it.
Voyager then continues on its way home.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? When power is shut down, Kim looks at his console and says that all decks report that power is shut down. Since power is shut down, how was he informed of this, exactly?
There’s coffee in that nebula! In Neelix’s story, Janeway admits to sometimes talking to the ship to Chakotay. This is a trait we’ve never seen Janeway exhibit before or since, so Neelix probably made it up, though it makes for a funnier story, especially when Chakotay does the same after nearly dying in the turbolift.
Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok provides some meditation tips to help Neelix’s anxiety as the pair of them are crawling through Jefferies Tubes. At one point, Tuvok makes reference to Neelix filling his lungs, but Neelix only has the one lung, donated by Kes, since “Phage.” It’s out of character for Tuvok to forget that and for Neelix to fail to correct him (Neelix corrected Janeway during a similarly tense situation in “Macrocosm“).
Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix prepared himself with snacks, games, and lanterns to occupy the kiddos. But all they want is the story of why they’ve gone to no power.
Forever an ensign. Despite being an ensign, Kim orders everyone in the mess hall to their duty stations when the power fluctuates. Everyone listens and says, “Aye, sir” and stuff. Sure.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. When the power starts to die all at once, Janeway tries to transfer the EMH to the mobile emitter (he’s in sickbay at the time), but he powers down before they can.
Resistance is futile. When the cargo bay fills with gas, Seven walks toward the door. Do Borg just not run?
“I’m warning you: this is not a tale for the faint of heart.”
“We’re not faint of heart.”
“Our cardiopulmonary systems are reinforced.”
“So don’t leave anything out.”
–Neelix providing a content warning and Icheb and Mezoti being overly literal
Welcome aboard. Zoe McLellan is back as Tal, last seen in “Good Shepherd,” while recurring regulars Manu Intiraymi, Marley McClean, and Kurt & Cody Wetherill are all present as the Borg kiddos.
Trivial matters: The bulk of this episode is Neelix-told flashbacks to a time prior to “Collective.” The end of the episode makes it clear that something at least resembling Neelix’s story happened, though how many of the details are accurate is anybody’s guess.
Ensign Mulchaey is mentioned as having bumped his head. The character was introduced in “Drone,” and was the template for One in that episode. In addition, Ensign Vorik is mentioned, though not seen. We also get a mention of two crewmembers, Unai and Trumari, who’ve never been referenced before or since.
Set a course for home. “Snacks are irrelevant! Continue the story!” This is a great idea for an episode that is executed remarkably poorly. And it starts with the title.
Okay, it’s called “The Haunting of Deck Twelve.” So shouldn’t we see deck twelve being, y’know, haunted at some point? Mezoti mentions it at the top of the episode, Neelix finally explains it half-assedly at the very end, and that’s it? This is a prime example of why “show, don’t tell” is a writing truism.
The story itself is such an incredibly bog-standard Trek plot that the only reason why Neelix’s prediction is that it’s not for the faint of heart makes sense is if the viewers are like Iago in Aladdin, and expect to have a heart attack from being not surprised. Seriously, we’ve seen this nonsense how many times before? (“Wolf in the Fold,” “Home Soil,” “Evolution,” “Cost of Living,” “Emergence,” “Playing God,” and that’s just what I recall off the top of my head…)
Plus it’s not told in a manner that is in any way exciting or interesting. Half the interesting things happen off-camera, like Chakotay escaping the turbolift.
There are some good moments in the episode, but most of them come from the Borg kiddos pestering Neelix with questions. My favorite was Icheb correcting Neelix misstating the technobabble.
I will give the episode one piece of credit: the use of the computer’s voice interface, making use of its library of preprogrammed phrases and responses, is an incredibly clever method of communicating.
But that’s pretty much it. The episode itself is completely nowhere, and while the framing sequence tries very hard to cover up how nowhere it is, it mostly fails, too.
Warp factor rating: 4
Keith R.A. DeCandido has a story in the upcoming anthology Devilish and Divine, which features stories about angels and demons, which is now available for preorder from eSpec Books. Keith read his story, “Unguarded,” as part of his KRAD COVID readings series of short fiction readings on YouTube.