Written by Kenneth Biller and Mark Haskell Smith
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 7, Episode 4
Production episode 251
Original air date: October 25, 2000
Captain’s log. Somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant, a Bajoran named Teero Anaydis is reciting a religious ritual while looking at the crew manifest of the Val Jean, Chakotay’s Maquis ship, including Chakotay, Torres, Ann Smithee, and Tuvok.
In the Delta Quadrant, newlyweds Paris and Torres are going on a holodeck excursion to a 1932 movie theater to watch Revenge of the Creature in 3D. Paris has made it a bit too realistic—chewing gum on the floor, e.g.—and when a holographic audience member shushes them, they delete the audience. But there’s still someone in a seat for some reason. It turns out to be Tabor, who had the holodeck before them—and he’s in a coma.
The EMH reports that Tabor has microfractures on his skull and nerve damage on his shoulder. He was definitely assaulted, but the doctor can’t figure out why he’s unconscious. Tuvok examines the holodeck, and then Tabor’s quarters. He finds Crewman Jor in the latter location, claiming she’s getting a book to read to him while he’s comatose. Tuvok questions her, then dismisses her.
Crewman Yosa is working in a Jefferies Tube when he’s attacked by an assailant who has turned off the lights and can’t be seen behind a handheld flashlight. Yosa is later found in the same comatose state as Tabor by Jor, which piques Tuvok’s suspicions. However, when he and Chakotay go to question her, they find her unconscious as well.
There are two more comatose victims in sickbay, and all five of them are Maquis. Chakotay gathers the remaining Maquis crew and orders them to arm themselves and to travel in groups of two or more. If they see anything odd, they should report it to Tuvok—Chell, however, says he prefers to report it to Chakotay directly, as he doesn’t trust Tuvok, still, a sentiment shared by others. Chell also suspects that this is a Starfleet plot, as they now know for sure that a quarter of the crew are Maquis. He also suspects Seven.
Kim and Paris are able to use photonic displacement of real people in the holodeck prior to Paris and Torres arriving to create a silhouette of Tabor—and also a silhouette of another figure standing over him. They can’t make out details, but now they have the height and build of the person. (Kim jokes that now they know it isn’t Naomi Wildman…)
Tabor regains consciousness, but he remembers nothing of who attacked him. Chakotay finds Chell by himself—Torres got tired of his bitching and moaning, and went to Cargo Bay 2 alone. Leaving Chell with his own partner, Chakotay goes to the cargo bay to find Torres unconscious—and then he’s assaulted by Tuvok, who renders Chakotay unconscious, and then initiates a mind-meld.
Tuvok, with no memory of attacking Torres and Chakotay, discusses the case with Janeway. Jor and Yosa are now also conscious, also with no memory of being assaulted. Janeway recommends that Tuvok take a break and meditate.
While doing so, Tuvok gets flashes of his attacking various crewmembers who turned up comatose. He also sees Teero in the reflection of his washroom mirror.
Going to the holodeck, Tuvok asks for the height of the photonic silhouette of Tabor’s attacker and then his own height. He also asks for his own location during the attack—information that is under a security lockout. Tuvok disengages the lockout, and the computer says that Tuvok was on the holodeck when Tabor was assaulted.
Tuvok urges Janeway to confine him to the brig. He is hallucinating Teero. He also mentions that, while he looked at most of the letters from home in the latest datastream, he didn’t investigate the letter he himself received from his son Sek.
Seven checks that letter, and finds a message embedded in it from Teero. Chakotay, who has just awakened from his own coma, recognizes Teero as a fanatical Bajoran vedek sympathetic to the Maquis cause who was experimenting with mind control. For that reason, even the Maquis rejected him.
Janeway goes to Tuvok in the brig, and he recalls that Teero kidnapped him and experimented on him. He knew that Tuvok was undercover Starfleet but didn’t expose him for no compellingly good reason. Instead he left post-hypnotic suggestions in his head, which he activated with the embedded message in Sek’s note.
Tuvok then taps his combadge, calls Chakotay and says, “pagh’tem’far b’tanay.” Chakotay is now also activated, as Tuvok put the post-hypnotic suggestion in Chakotay’s mind when he mind-melded with him, ditto the other Maquis crew Tuvok assaulted.
Chakotay, Torres, Tabor, Jor, Yosa, and the others quickly and efficiently take control of the ship, deactivating the EMH and confining everyone else to quarters, except for Janeway and the security guard in charge of the brig, who are placed in Tuvok’s cell.
After setting course for a Class-M planet to place the Starfleet crew on while the Maquis take Voyager the rest of the way home, Chakotay summons Tuvok to the ready room, and also has Janeway brought up. Chakotay orders Tuvok to shoot Janeway to prove his loyalty. The phaser, however, is defective, so when Tuvok shoots her, nothing happens.
However, that was the bucket of ice water in the face Tuvok needed. He initiates another mind-meld with Chakotay, which frees him from Teero’s mind control. Before too long, the ship is restored to normal. By way of celebrating, Paris invites everyone to the holodeck for a viewing of another 3D movie, Attack of the Lobster People.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, a Bajoran vedek can do remote-control mind-control by embedding a message in a letter. Sure.
There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway implores Tuvok to remember who he is when he’s about to shoot her, and that helps bring Tuvok back to himself.
Mr. Vulcan. While he was embedded in Chakotay’s cell, Tuvok went on a mission that took him to meet Teero. And boy was he sorry…
Also his son has given up studying exolinguistics in favor of musical composition.
Forever an ensign. One of the letters Tuvok reads through is from Kim’s cousin, which reveals that Kim had a good friend who was killed by the Maquis, a fact that has somehow not come up at all over the last six-plus years. Kim sarcastically confesses, saying that he used his Captain Proton comatizer to incapacitate the Maquis crew.
Half and half. Torres is less than impressed with the level of detail in Paris’ movie theater holodeck simulation, especially since she gets gum on her shoes and has to wear doofy 3D glasses.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The first thing Chakotay does when he goes full Maquis is deactivate the EMH. He probably remembers that the doc was critical to the crew’s success the last two times a hostile force took over the ship…
Resistance is futile. Seven is the one who finds the embedded message in Sek’s letter to Tuvok.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Paris takes Torres on a date the holodeck in part to make it clear that, just because they’re married, doesn’t mean the romance is dead.
What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. Kim and Paris are able to use displaced photons to get silhouettes of people who were in the holodeck. Because they’re just that awesome.
“Let me get this straight. You’ve gone to all this trouble to program a three-dimensional environment that projects a two-dimensional image, and now you’re asking me to wear these to make it look three-dimensional again?”
–Torres, expressing dubiousness about the whole 3D movie thing
Welcome aboard. Derek McGrath (Chell) and Jad Mager (Tabor) reprise their prior roles as Maquis members of the crew, the former from “Learning Curve,” the latter from “Nothing Human.” Carol Krnic, Mark Rafael Truitt, and Scott Alan Smith play other Maquis crew, while Ronald Robinson plays Sek.
And this week’s Robert Knepper moment is my namesake Keith Szarabajka, one of the great gravel-voiced character actors, who plays Teero. He’ll also appear in Enterprise’s “Rogue Planet.”
Trivial matters: This episode establishes that Chakotay’s ship that was destroyed in “Caretaker” was called the Val Jean, named after the protagonist of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. It’s also established that there are around thirty Maquis crew aboard. (And there had to have been more than that at first, since some of the deceased crew, such as Suder, Hogan, Bendera, and Jonas, were also Maquis.) Chakotay says there are twenty-three still to be “converted” via mind-meld when there are seven mutineers. It’s also stated that a quarter of the crew is Maquis, which somewhat tracks with the likely crew complement of around 130 (though the show itself has stated several different numbers for that…).
The term pagh’tem’far that Teero uses as part of his ritual and also as an activation keyword is a Bajoran term that was established in DS9’s “Rapture” as referring to a vision from the Prophets.
One of the Maquis crew seen is a Vulcan female, which belies “Counterpoint,” which established only two Vulcans on board, but which is consistent with both “Flashback” and “Endgame,” which both referred to multiple Vulcans besides Tuvok on board.
Janeway mentions that the Maquis rebellion ended three years ago, referring to the events of DS9’s “Blaze of Glory,” though those events were actually four years previous—however, Voyager didn’t learn of it until “Hunters,” which was three years ago, which is probably what Janeway is dating from.
Revenge of the Creature was an actual 3D movie, the sequel to The Creature From the Black Lagoon. In keeping with Paris getting his dates wrong, it was released in 1955, two decades after the date he was allegedly taking Torres to. Attack of the Lobster People doesn’t actually exist, though there is Attack of the Crab Monsters…
While there is a Palace Theater in Chicago, these days known as the Cadillac Palace Theater, which opened in 1926, it’s a stage venue, not a movie theater. The scenes in the movie theater were shot in Paramount Pictures’ Gower Theater.
Ann Smithee, the member of Chakotay’s crew seen in Teero’s manifest, has never been seen or mentioned elsewhere.
Set a course for home. “Your sarcasm could be viewed as subterfuge.” What a spectacularly idiotic episode. Absolutely nothing that happens in this episode makes any sense, but the thing that makes the least sense is that this is happening in the seventh season. It’s a horribly artificial way to create some of the Maquis-Starfleet tension that was promised by months of promotional material regarding Voyager in 1994 and that the show then utterly failed to deliver once it debuted in 1995.
But the method by which this happens cuts off the air supply to my disbelief. Teero is a Bajoran vedek who is so out there that the Maquis thought he was a little too radical. Think about that for a second: the terrorist group that was at the top of both the Federation and the Cardassians’ most-wanted list for several years, that announced their existence to the galaxy by blowing up a ship on a crowded space station, thought this guy was a bit too much for them. Yet somehow, a little over a year after the Dominion War ended, this Bajoran citizen somehow has the resources to embed a post-hypnotic suggestion into a private letter sent by a Vulcan teenager to his Starfleet officer father, somehow getting it past Project Pathfinder (a project full of Starfleet engineers, remember).
Let’s forget that, for a second. Let’s assume that Teero is just that good. We’re also supposed to believe that he planted this suggestion in Tuvok’s head for whatever reason, but never bothered to expose him as a Starfleet mole, instead waiting for the right moment to activate him—and, somehow, that moment is six years later, after the Maquis are a distant memory, and when Tuvok and the rest of Chakotay’s cell are 35,000 light-years away. Because why, exactly? And “because he’s insane” isn’t an answer, because if he’s that nutsy-cuckoo, he wouldn’t have the wherewithal to put together this incredibly complicated and difficult plan.
On top of that, the episode has the most anticlimactic climax in the 55-year history of Star Trek. Tuvok just suddenly is himself again, and he mind-melds with people and that’s it, it just stops. And all is forgiven. Because of course it is.
The episode has its moments. Both movie-watching scenes, with Paris and Torres near the beginning and Janeway and Tuvok at the end, are priceless. And it’s fun to watch Tuvok investigate a crime, and then it’s revealed that he’s the culprit. I particularly love that, even though he’s obviously stunned by the revelation that he himself is responsible, he meticulously goes through the evidence, asking direct questions of the computer in front of Janeway and Kim to verify his hypothesis, and then very calmly telling Janeway to put him in the brig. Tim Russ absolutely nails the episode, including Tuvok fighting against Teero’s attempts at mind-control.
The rest of it falls incredibly flat. Keith Szarabajka is utterly uninteresting as Teero, while Robert Beltran and Roxann Dawson don’t act that much differently than themselves when they’re mind-controlled, which is disappointing. And at no point does Paris try to get through to his wife that maybe she shouldn’t leave her husband behind on a planet, a plot point that would seem to be blindingly obvious to pursue. It’s not like they forgot that the two of them were a couple, since the entire first scene of Act 1 is predicated on it…
This might—might—have worked in the first or second season. Hell, this could’ve been a good use of one of the Maquis crew on board (Suder, maybe?). As a seventh-season episode, it’s just absurd, made more so by the spectacular imbecility of the story’s execution.
Warp factor rating: 2
Keith R.A. DeCandido will also be reviewing each episode of the new season of Lower Decks, starting on Thursday with the second-season premiere.