Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Inside Man”

“Inside Man”
Written by Robert Doherty
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 7, Episode 6
Production episode 252
Original air date: November 8, 2000
Stardate: 54208.3

Captain’s log. Last month’s datastream from Starfleet didn’t come through, and now a month later, everyone’s eager for their messages from home. Kim and Seven have been up all night trying to download this month’s datastream, and they eventually determine that it’s got a single holographic matrix, which is so big it crashes the ship’s transceiver. But Kim is able to transfer it to the holodeck: It’s Barclay.

The real Barclay created a hologram of himself to aid Voyager in creating a geodesic fold. They will fire a verteron beam into a red giant at the same time that a Starfleet ship fires a similar beam into a red giant in the Alpha Quadrant. This will create a fold in space that they can traverse.

Janeway points out that they considered such a thing ages ago, but the resultant radiation would kill the entire crew. Holo-Barclay assures them, however, that with some fancy-shmancy shield modifications and a new inoculation against radiation, they’ll be good to go. Holo-Barclay borrows the EMH’s mobile emitter so he can have free rein of the ship to help with the various modifications.

Back on Earth, the Pathfinder Project is frustrated because for the second time, the datastream didn’t reach Voyager. Harkins tells Barclay that it was a good idea, but in this case, two strikes and you’re out. Owen has ordered them to go back to the regular datastream next month. Barclay is not happy, and won’t let this go, as he’s convinced somebody sabotaged the datastream. Harkins orders him to take a vacation, and he does—to a beach where Troi is vacationing. She’s initially pissed that Barclay showed up, as it’s unethical as hell, but she lets it go when she sees how distressed he is.

Star Trek: Voyager "Inside Man"

Screenshot: CBS

It doesn’t take long for Troi to get at the heart of what’s bothering Barclay. He was involved with a teacher named Leosa, and their relationship recently ended, and something about the relationship isn’t sitting well with him, especially since he told her everything about Pathfinder, and shortly after they broke up was when things started going wrong.

Back in the Delta Quadrant, the EMH is concerned that the inoculations Holo-Barclay provided won’t give sufficient protection against the radiation. Holo-Barclay insists it will, in combination with the modified shields. Holo-Barclay has also kept the mobile emitter longer than the EMH was expecting…

Holo-Barclay includes a progress report in Voyager’s message back to Starfleet—which is intercepted by a Ferengi ship. The Ferengi were the ones who intercepted last month’s datastream and kept it from Voyager and they reprogrammed Holo-Barclay to work for them. They are thrilled to get specs from Holo-Barclay on Seven, who has more nanoprobes than anticipated, which means more profit for them.

Starfleet tracks Leosa down, and it turns out that she’s a dabo girl on a Ferengi casino ship, not a teacher, and she was sent to learn stuff about Pathfinder from Barclay. Troi is able to get her to talk, and she reveals the location of the casino ship, which is in the same region where the datastream was “lost” both times.

The EMH grows suspicious of Holo-Barclay, who has endeared himself to the rest of the crew in part with his ability to impersonate various crew members. The EMH’s only real evidence is Holo-Barclay being a snot, breaking a golf date with the EMH, and not giving the mobile emitter back. However, a diagnostic of Holo-Barclay reveals nothing amiss.

Starfleet sends the U.S.S. Carolina to intercept the Ferengi. The ship detects a geodesic fold being implemented by the Ferengi ship, at which point, Barclay realizes what they’re doing.

Seven reports to Holo-Barclay that there are more types of radiation being generated by the geodesic fold than expected, but Holo-Barclay renders her unconscious before she can finish her report to the bridge, which Holo-Barclay finishes in her voice, lying to Janeway that all is well.

Star Trek: Voyager "Inside Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Barclay contacts the Ferengi pretending to be Holo-Barclay, and convinces them that Janeway is onto them, and will destroy them if Voyager comes through the fold—Barclay claims that they have all kinds of technology they’ve scavenged in the Delta Quadrant that will allow them to survive the fold. The Ferengi cut off the fold on their end.

When told that the fold is collapsing, Janeway cuts it off. Holo-Barclay takes Seven to an escape pod, but Kim beams them off before the pod goes through the fold. The Ferengi are left with only an empty pod.

Voyager is left to wonder what went wrong with Holo-Barclay—which they have deactivated—while Troi convinces Barclay to take a break from adding security measures to his latest Holo-Barclay and go on a double date with her and Riker and a teacher—a real one this time.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, firing a verteron beam into two different red giants will enable you to travel between those two stars instantly because SCIENCE!

Thank you, Counselor Obvious. Troi is able to get Leosa to talk by threatening to have her held indefinitely for psychiatric observation. Recognizing the damage to her ability to earn a living that would cause, Leosa sings like a proverbial canary.

Forever an ensign. Kim is able to salvage Holo-Barclay from the datastream and beam Seven and Holo-Barclay off the escape pod despite the interference. Because he’s just that awesome. He is also way more optimistic about the possibility of getting home than Paris…

Mr. Vulcan. In addition to impersonating Janeway, Holo-Barclay also does a Tuvok impersonation, telling Paris that his pessimism is illogical.

Star Trek: Voyager "Inside Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH is right to be suspicious of Holo-Barclay, but his suspicions are mostly due to Holo-Barclay being mean to him, which isn’t much to go on. Though the EMH does notice that Holo-Barclay’s “enhanced” inoculations aren’t all that and a bag of chips…

Resistance is futile. Holo-Barclay surprises Seven by informing her that she’s the person folks in the Alpha Quadrant are most looking forward to seeing, as she’s a symbol of hope for everyone who’s lost a loved one to the Borg.

Rules of Acquisition. We get a new Rule in #74, which is “Knowledge equals profit.”

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. One of the things Barclay liked about Leosa was that she seemed genuinely interested in his work, not bored at all the way most people were. Later he found out that she was only interested because that was what she was being paid to do (she was getting ten percent of the Ferengi’s profits from the nanoprobe sale), and was, in fact, bored by him.

Star Trek: Voyager "Inside Man"

Screenshot: CBS

What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. The EMH invites Holo-Barclay to play golf on the holodeck. Holo-Barclay breaks the date, but not until we’re tormented by the sight of the EMH in golfing attire. Shudder.

Do it.

“So, where’s my mail, hm? Oh, don’t tell me you lost another one.”

“I didn’t lose last month’s datastream, it never arrived.”

“So what’s the hold up this time?”

“The transmission was a little larger than usual—it’s jammed the transceivers. Seven and I have been up all night trying to download it.”

“Harry, we can’t go another month without mail.”

–Paris giving Kim shit about the datastream, Kim being defensive, Paris asking for clarification, Kim providing it, and Paris forgetting that he went six years without mail.

Star Trek: Voyager "Inside Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Welcome aboard. A bunch of recurring regulars in this one: Dwight Schultz (Barclay) and Marina Sirtis (Troi), both last seen in “Life Line,” and Richard Herd (Owen) and Richard McGonagle (Harkins), both last seen in “Pathfinder.” Schultz and Herd will next be seen in “Author, Author.” Sirtis will next be seen in Nemesis.

Frank Corsentino plays his third Ferengi in this episode, having previously played two different Ferengi in TNG’s “The Battle” and “Ménàge à Troi,” while Christopher Neiman and Michael William Rivkin play the other two Ferengi, and Sharisse Baker-Bernard plays Leosa.

Trivial matters: Paris references two of the many other occasions when Voyager thought they were getting home: Arturis’ slipstream drive provided for them in “Hope and Fear” (and which they tried again with only moderate success in “Timeless“) and the “pitcher plant” deluding them into thinking they’d found a wormhole in “Bliss.”

Barclay mentions that the Romulans have long had an interest in Voyager, which may be due to the events of “Eye of the Needle” and/or those of “Message in a Bottle,” both of which saw Voyager crew having encounters with Romulans.

Barclay mentions to Troi that Borg nanoprobes can be used to revive necrotic tissue, referring to Seven’s ability to raise the dead, as seen in “Mortal Coiland never again for some stupid reason.

Holo-Barclay’s comment to Seven that she’s the only person to come back from being Borg is not true, as Picard (in TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II“), the four Borg kiddos (“Collective“), Janeway, Tuvok, Torres (“Unimatrix Zero, Part II“), and the folks Chakotay encountered in “Unity” all came back from being Borg also. Since Pathfinder has all of Voyager’s logs, Holo-Barclay should have known that—and Seven obviously knows it, too, and should have corrected him. In addition, his buttering up of Seven was probably put in by the Ferengi to make her more amenable to going to the Alpha Quadrant—the reality, as seen in Picard season one, is that ex-Borg are not all met with optimism and joy.

Paris and Torres prank Kim that they’ve been in touch with Iconians. That ancient civilization was established as having instantaneous transport across long distances in TNG’s “Contagion,” and were also seen in DS9’s “To the Death” and the 2001 novel crossover Gateways by Susan Wright, Diane Carey, Robert Greenberger, Peter David, Christie Golden, and your humble rewatcher. (That crossover also retconned the events of the original series’ “That Which Survives” as involving Iconians.)

While they don’t appear, Riker, La Forge, and Data are all mentioned. Barclay attended La Forge’s birthday party and sang a duet with Data, and Riker is scheduled to join Troi on her beach vacation.

Everyone’s referring to the crew complement of Voyager as being 150 again somehow. Whatever.

Star Trek: Voyager "Inside Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “Captain Janeway knows better than to take her ship into such a dangerous anomaly!” This is a nicely structured episode. At first there’s the hope of a way home that you know will be yanked away from them at the last minute, just like it was in “Eye of the Needle,” “False Profits,” “Cold Fire,” “Timeless,” “Hope and Fear,” etc., ad nauseam, but the way in which it gets yanked is nicely done. At first, we think that Pathfinder doesn’t realize that the second Holo-Barclay made it through okay, and that means that they won’t be hitting a sun with the verteron beam, so that’s how Voyager’s trip home will fail. But then it turns out to be much worse, as the geodesic fold isn’t something Starfleet initiated, but rather part of the Ferengi plot.

Unlike the last time the Ferengi were used on Voyager, this is actually a decent use of them, with Ferengi vet Frank Corsentino leading the trio of greedheads. This is a return to the villainous Ferengi of early TNG rather than the more nuanced portrayal we got on DS9, and these Ferengi are willing to murder the entire crew complement to get Seven’s nanoprobes, but I’m okay with it. The threat is legit, and this is one case where Voyager trusting the bad guy makes sense, because it’s Barclay for cryin’ out loud! This is the guy who busted his ass to get the Alpha Quadrant in touch with Voyager in the first place, and someone whom the EMH actually got to know during his one-month journey in “Life Line.”

Speaking of which, I love the contrast in Barclays. Holo-Barclay is much more confident and outspoken, and while that may in part be the Ferengi’s doing, I’m pretty sure it’s how the thing was originally programmed. Way back in Barclay’s introductory appearance in TNG’s “Hollow Pursuits,” we saw him all brash and confident on the holodeck, then a shy wreck in person. It only makes sense that he would program his holographic avatar to be the person he’d like to be as opposed to the person he is.

My favorite thing about this episode, though, besides the way it all unfolds, is that in the end, Voyager still doesn’t know what happened, and won’t for another month. It’s a nice reminder that they’re still a long way from home with only intermittent contact.

Warp factor rating: 7

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be a guest at Planet ComiCon in Kansas City this weekend, appearing at Bard’s Tower (Booth 1103). Other guests include fellow word-slingers Timothy Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson, John Jackson Miller, Dayton Ward, and Kevin Dilmore, as well as bunches of actors, cosplayers, and more. More details here.

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