Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Body and Soul”

“Body and Soul”
Written by Michael Taylor and Eric Morris and Phyllis Strong & Mike Sussman
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill
Season 7, Episode 7
Production episode 255
Original air date: November 15, 2000
Stardate: 54238.3

Captain’s log. Kim, Seven, and the EMH are on the Delta Flyer charting comets and collecting bio-samples. They’re attacked by the Lokirrim, who have detected the EMH and declared him a photonic insurgent. Apparently, the Lokirrim are having issues with uppity holograms….

The Lokirrim ship disables the Flyer in pretty short order, and disrupt the EMH’s holographic matrix. In a last-ditch effort to save him, Seven downloads the EMH into her cybernetic matrix, so when the Lokirrim board the Flyer, they only see Kim and Seven and the mobile emitter. Seven says that the doctor has been destroyed, and claims the mobile emitter is her portable regeneration unit. Captain Ranek confiscates the bio-matter the EMH had been gathering, as it’s possible to use that material for bio-weapons, and Kim and Seven are taken to the Lokirrim ship and put in the brig.

Seven has been acting oddly, and it turns out that the EMH is somehow in control of her body now.

On Voyager, Tuvok is suffering the effects of pon farr, which Paris has to guess, as Tuvok typically won’t admit that he’s suffering from this most distasteful Vulcan urge. The EMH has synthesized a medicine to help the Vulcans on board deal with pon farr symptoms, and Paris agrees not only to replicate it, but to officially note the reason for his being off duty for a bit as Tarkalean flu.

Star Trek: Voyager "Body and Soul"

Screenshot: CBS

On the Lokirrim ship, the EMH is quite taken with eating. Though the prison rations are awful—Kim likens their taste to that of eating his uniform—the EMH absolutely loves the whole process of consuming food.

Ranek brings “Seven” to the Flyer to identify some of the equipment on board. He comments that it’s very sophisticated for a smuggler’s ship, and the EMH exasperatedly explains that they aren’t smugglers. Ranek asks about the food replicator, and the EMH calls for a New York-style cheesecake—which he adores and accidentally says he had no idea it was this good. When Ranek questions that, he quickly adds that he doesn’t usually eat such rich food, as “she’s” watching “her” figure. The EMH replicates another cheesecake so Ranek can partake, and before long, they’ve stuffed themselves with yummy food and a significant amount of booze. Ranek has enjoyed himself, and the EMH convinces him to give back the “portable regeneration module.”

After being returned to the brig, the EMH proudly—and drunkenly—declares that he got the mobile emitter back. They’re able to download him back to the mobile emitter, at which point Seven expresses her great annoyance with how the EMH abused her body with too much food and drink. While she had no control, she was aware of everything that happened. The EMH tries to defend himself by saying he was getting on Ranek’s good side, and also accusing Seven of not properly appreciating her corporeality.

Kim interrupts their arguing to point out that they need to contact Voyager. They also can’t keep the EMH “out,” as he’ll be destroyed, so he has to go back into Seven’s matrix. Seven reluctantly agrees. They plan to use the improved relations with Ranek to get near a computer and give Seven a chance to observe their protocols in the hopes of being able to contact Voyager.

Star Trek: Voyager "Body and Soul"

Screenshot: CBS

Lieutenant Jaryn requests Seven’s presence in sickbay. Ranek has asked for Seven’s assistance with some people wounded by weapons carried by the photonic resistance. The EMH is reabsorbed into Seven’s matrix and helps Jaryn treat the patients. They also learn that Jaryn’s family had a holographic servant named Emmik, who is now part of the rebellion. Jaryn herself doesn’t understand it, as they treated Emmik like he was part of the family.

The medication the EMH prepared isn’t helping Tuvok. Paris suggests the holodeck. Tuvok objects, as he won’t cheat on his wife, but Paris points out that he can re-create T’Pel in hologram form, so it wouldn’t be cheating. Tuvok reluctantly agrees.

Unfortunately, Voyager is attacked by another Lokirrim ship, and Janeway shuts down the holodeck as a show of good faith that they aren’t harboring photonic insurgents, leaving Tuvok flapping in the proverbial breeze. Janeway refuses to allow the Lokirrim to board the ship, but she does permit them to escort Voyager through their space.

The EMH is flirting with Jaryn a bit, and then is summoned to the bridge by Ranek, who dims the lights, flirts outrageously and does everything short of playing Barry White songs to seduce Seven. He kisses her, and the EMH rebuffs the advance. Ranek, to his credit, apologizes, realizing he misread the situation. The EMH returns to sickbay, where Jaryn gives him a massage after he complains of a cramp in his neck. The EMH is actually aroused by this action, though Jaryn’s motives are purely medical.

Seven is sent back to the brig, as Kim is having a seizure—which the ensign faked in order to get his crewmates back to the brig. The EMH once again leaves Seven’s matrix. After Seven and the EMH argue some more about the merits of indulgence, Seven reveals that she observed Ranek’s command codes when they were on the bridge. If they can get on the Flyer, they can send a message to Voyager that includes those command codes, giving them an edge.

Star Trek: Voyager "Body and Soul"

Screenshot: CBS

Once the EMH is put back in Seven’s matrix, he invites Ranek to meet “her” on the Flyer, ostensibly to apologize for reacting so badly to the kiss, in reality to shove a sedative in his neck and then contact Voyager. The crew is taken aback by Seven’s odd personality change, until they realize that the EMH is inhabiting her—he says he’ll explain later.

Janeway has Tuvok—who is staffing tactical despite his obvious illness—to disable their Lokirrim escort, and they then bugger off at maximum warp to intercept Ranek’s ship.

The EMH takes Ranek to his sickbay, insisting he drank too much and is sleeping it off. Jaryn, however, revives him and he orders Seven to be taken into custody.

Voyager arrives and demands their people back. Ranek refuses, saying they’re terrorists. Voyager uses Ranek’s command codes to disable shields. Ranek ties the warp drive into the shield generators, so that any weapons fire on the shields will destroy the ship. Janeway orders a tractor beam placed on Ranek’s ship, but Ranek breaks free.

Janeway has a comm signal sent directly to Seven’s cortical node, ordering the EMH and Seven to bring down the shields. The EMH transfers himself to the mobile emitter, which surprises the guards enough to enable Seven to grab a weapon, which she gives to the EMH while she works on bringing the shields down. But the EMH is terrible at being a security guard, and Ranek disarms him, but not before Seven destabilizes the shield matrix. Ranek tries to fix it, but the console explodes. Ranek is badly injured and the EMH, unable to help himself, moves to treat him. Janeway wants to beam the away team off the ship, as shields are now down, but the EMH insists on treating Ranek. When Ranek is given a clean bill of health, he thanks the EMH for saving his life, even if he is a photonic.

Tuvok was able to go back to the holodeck, and while the T’Pel hologram was a poor substitute, it was enough to enable Tuvok to get through the plak-tow, and he’s fine now.

In sickbay, Seven brings a gourmet meal to sickbay, promising to describe the experience of eating and drinking it in graphic detail for the EMH, who is grateful.

Star Trek: Voyager "Body and Soul"

Screenshot: CBS

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, the Lokirrim developed sentient holograms that later decided they wanted freedom for some inexplicable reason…

There’s coffee in that nebula! After Tuvok urges Paris not to tell Janeway the real reason he’s sick, Janeway herself pointedly mentions that the last time Tuvok got the Tarkalean flu was exactly seven years previous, indicating that she knows damn well what’s happening.

Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok refuses to even admit that he is suffering from the pon farr until Paris comes out and guesses it. He does the stubborn-ass Vulcan stoic thing to the very end.

Forever an ensign. Kim is fed up with the EMH’s excesses long before he uses Seven’s body to get really indulgent, and he regularly has to kick both Seven and the doctor back in-bounds to remind them of their actual mission to free themselves from the Lokirrim prison. 

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH is frustrated with Seven’s denial of indulgence, as that’s what makes life worth living. Her nigh-ascetic lifestyle would make her an excellent hologram, while the EMH desires the sensual experiences he’s denied as a “photonic.”

Resistance is futile. Seven is appalled by the EMH’s overindulgence while occupying her body, but comes to appreciate the benefits of the occasional indulgence.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Let’s see, Ranek has the hots for Seven, the EMH has the hots for Jaryn, and Jaryn has the hots for Ranek. Cha cha cha. Also Tuvok really misses his wife right around now…

What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. When Paris says that it isn’t cheating if you sleep with a hologram, Tuvok acidly asks if that’s the explanation he gives Torres, at which point Paris hastily says that his days of rescuing slave girls from Planet 10 are behind him.

Do it.

“For instance, this device: what does it do?”

“That’s a standard food replicator.”

“Can it be used to create bioweapons?”

“Not unless you count Mr. Neelix’s Bolian soufflé…”

–Ranek asking about the equipment on the Delta Flyer, and the EMH in Seven’s body being snarky.

Star Trek: Voyager "Body and Soul"

Screenshot: CBS

Welcome aboard. Megan Gallagher plays her third Trek role as Jaryn, having played Mareel in DS9’s “Invasive Procedures” and Garland in DS9’s “Little Green Men.” Fritz Sperberg plays his second Trek role as Ranek, having played Ixtana’rax in DS9’s “One Little Ship.” Marva Hicks is back again as the image of T’Pel, having previously played a hallucination of her in “Persistence of Vision.” (Kimber Lee Renay played the image of T’Pel that Tuvok saw in “Bliss.”)

Trivial matters: This is the second time a Vulcan crew member of Voyager has suffered pon farr and tried to fix it on the holodeck, the last being Vorik in “Blood Fever.” That was the episode in which Paris learned of pon farr’s existence. The pon farr, as well as Vulcans’ obsessive desire to not talk about it to anyone non-Vulcan, was established in the original series’ “Amok Time.”

The EMH has eaten before, but it was on the holodeck eating holographic food in “Heroes and Demons.” This is his first time eating real food.

Seven’s susceptibility to being intoxicated by even syntheholic drinks was established in “Timeless.”

The work they did rewriting Eric Morris’ script got both Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong invitations by show-runner Kenneth Biller to join the staff as story editors for the final season.

Star Trek: Voyager "Body and Soul"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “The reports of my decompilation have been greatly exaggerated.” Let’s not mince words here: the sole purpose of this episode is to enable Jeri Ryan to spend a plurality of the 42-minute running time to do a letter-perfect Robert Picardo impersonation.

And it really is amazing. Apparently, Picardo performed all the lines the EMH had while in Seven’s body for Ryan so she could mimic his vocal inflections and body language, and it obviously worked. Ryan has always been an immersive and chameleonic actor, best seen previously in “Infinite Regress,” the last time they decided to give Ryan an acting exercise poorly disguised as a Voyager episode. But this one is more impressive, as the various assimilated folk Seven channeled in that fifth-season episode were all ones she could make up from whole cloth. This time, she had to match the performance of one of her castmates, and she did so flawlessly.

The plot itself is a bit awkward to watch, as it dances on the edge of tiresome heteronormativity, but manages not to cross the line. So much of what happens can be seen as playing for cheap homophobic laughs, but the script and performances stop short of that, thank goodness. Ranek’s kissing Seven could have been played as being okay normally, but isn’t because Seven is really a dude, but in truth, the kiss was unwelcome because neither the EMH nor Seven would be remotely interested in a romantic relationship with the guy who took them prisoner, sexual preference notwithstanding. Ranek’s kiss was a violation regardless—and, to his credit, he apologized and backed off the nanosecond he realized he misread the situation. Additionally, Jaryn’s lack of interest in Seven has less to do with what gender Seven presents as and more to do with her unrequited desire for Ranek.

The Tuvok subplot is really just paperwork. Vulcans mate every seven years, and we’re now in year seven of chronicling Tuvok’s life and his undergoing pon farr literally couldn’t wait any longer. Unfortunately, precisely nothing interesting is done with it. It’s just filler. This is the third time Trek has done a pon farr episode, but both “Blood Fever” and “Amok Time” were significantly more compelling. This is just there to get Tuvok’s pon farr out of the way and to mark time between scenes of Ryan’s Picardo impression.

There are other fun aspects of the episode, particularly the tug-of-war between Janeway and Ranek out-technobabbling each other at the climax, and also that Janeway doesn’t put with the Lokirrim’s nonsense for very long.

I wish more was done with the “photonic insurgents,” as that entire development sounds an awful lot like a slave revolt, particularly with Jaryn’s whole “he was just like family” line about her erstwhile photonic servant. It’s exactly the kind of thing clueless oppressors say about their servants/slaves, and it might have been nice to explore that a bit more.

But that would’ve taken time away from Ryan’s acting exercise, which is really all there is to this…

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, Megan Mackie, Michelle Cori, Dayton Ward, and Kevin Dilmore, as well as bunches of actors, cosplayers, and more. More details here.

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