Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Renaissance Man”

“Renaissance Man”
Written by Andrew Shepard Price & Mark Gaberman and Phyllis Strong & Mike Sussman
Directed by Michael Vejar
Season 7, Episode 24
Production episode 270
Original air date: May 16, 2001
Stardate: 54890.7

Captain’s log. Janeway and the EMH are pootling along in the Delta Flyer for a medical conference, the EMH’s opera singing keeping Janeway from sleeping. They encounter a subspace eddy in a Mutara-class nebula. The EMH also says that he thinks he and Janeway should socialize more.

On Voyager, Torres and Vorik are trying to chase down some plasma surges. Paris tries to entice Torres for a picnic lunch on a shuttlecraft while watching a red giant. Torres reluctantly asks for a rain check, and Paris reminds his pregnant wife that they might not get any more alone time for eighteen years.

On the bridge, Kim is in charge of gamma shift, when Ayala reports an odd pulse being directed at Voyager from the Flyer. Janeway comes on the static-filled viewer saying that they’ve taken damage and need to dock immediately.

In private she tells Chakotay what happened: they were attacked by a technologically superior empire called the R’Kaal. Apparently, they’ve been in R’Kaal space for three weeks now. They’re ecological extremists who believe that traditional warp drive is damaging to the fabric of space. The usual punishment is to destroy the ship, but Janeway managed to talk them out of that. Instead, they have to turn over their warp core to the R’Kaal and then they will be escorted to an M-class planet they can settle on.

Chakotay is not on board with this notion, and is surprised that Janeway is giving in so readily. But she says she’s tired of people dying in their all-fired attempt to get home. She also orders Chakotay not to discuss this with anyone else.

Star Trek:Voyager "Renaissance Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Janeway then goes to engineering, where she instructs Torres to modify the tractor beam so it can tow the warp core. Torres, confused, mentions this to Chakotay, who then asks why Torres was read in on this when Chakotay was told to stay quiet. Janeway doesn’t have an answer, says she’s not feeling well, and goes to her quarters, leaving Chakotay in charge. She’s also seen to be briefly talking to herself.

Chakotay goes to sickbay and asks the EMH to give Janeway an examination. He goes to her quarters to do so. Chakotay then goes to astrometrics and asks Seven to scan for cloaked ships—Janeway mentioned that the R’Kaal have cloaking technology. While there, Kim reports a communication from Supreme Archon Loth of the R’Kaal. Chakotay takes it in astrometrics, and he stalls by telling Loth that they can’t eject the core until they reach their destination. Loth gives them ten hours.

After being told by the EMH that Janeway has a clean bill of health, Chakotay goes to her quarters—but she isn’t there. Then she comes around the corner and invites him into her cabin. He tries to convince her to change her mind, citing a mission to Lessek Prime earlier in her career. Except there was no such mission, and the fact that “Janeway” doesn’t know that proves it isn’t her. Then the captain hits Chakotay with a hypospray before he can stop her, rendering him unconscious.

It turns out that Janeway—and Loth for that matter—are actually the EMH, disguising himself. When “Janeway” was talking to herself earlier, that was the EMH talking to the Overlookers from the Hierarchy, who are holding the real Janeway prisoner and spying on Voyager through the EMH’s perception filters. They won’t free Janeway until they get Voyager’s warp core, hence the bullshit story about the R’Kaal.

The EMH places Chakotay’s unconscious form in the morgue and then contacts Zet and Nar, the two Overlookers who engineered this. He demands to speak to Janeway, who immediately orders the doctor not to eject the core. The EMH, however, won’t endanger Janeway’s life and so disobeys that order. Zet also decides that he doesn’t just want the warp core, he also wants some bio-neural gelpacks.

Star Trek:Voyager "Renaissance Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Janeway tells Zet that the EMH is just fooling them, that he’s spending all his time on the holodeck, and not actually doing what they say. Zet doesn’t believe her, though Nar is concerned. Zet, however, says they’ve been planning this for too long, plus they have a buyer for the warp core whom they can’t disappoint.

On Voyager, the EMH disguises himself as Chakotay to discuss the repairs to the Flyer with Tuvok—who reports that the comm systems are functioning normally, which is at odds with Janeway’s reporting them damaged. “Chakotay” compliments him on his good work. Then the EMH goes to Janeway’s quarters and uses the captain’s voice to summon Torres to the captain’s cabin to fix her replicator. The EMH then disguises himself as Torres to retrieve some gelpacks. After bluffing his way through a conversation with Vorik, he is ambushed by Paris, who tries to have their picnic again. “Torres” manages to get out of it, but not without a kiss first.

Kim and Seven then report to “Chakotay” that the communication from “Loth” actually came from Voyager’s holodeck, not outside the ship. Kim and “Chakotay” go to the holodeck, and once Kim sees that the holodeck logs have been erased, the EMH hits him with a hypospray also. Kim gets the morgue spot next to Chakotay. The EMH now has three combadges: Janeway’s, Chakotay’s, and Kim’s.

Unfortunately for the EMH, Tuvok has figured out that the doctor is responsible for what’s going on, having worked through his subterfuge on the Flyer. The EMH reminds him that the phaser Tuvok is holding on him won’t affect him as a hologram, but then Tuvok shoots out one of sickbay’s holo-emitters. However, the EMH manages to escape with his mobile emitter. He lures Tuvok to the holodeck, and creates multiple holograms of himself. By the time Tuvok is able to override the EMH’s lockout and cut power to the holodeck, the real EMH is long gone, having entered a Jefferies Tube. Disguising himself as Chakotay, he goes to engineering and tells Torres that a warp-core breach is imminent. He needs to eject the core. Tuvok then tells Torres that the EMH is right near him in engineering—since everyone except for Torres and Chakotay were evacuated, she realizes that Chakotay isn’t really Chakotay.

Star Trek:Voyager "Renaissance Man"

Screenshot: CBS

The EMH then activates the Emergency Command Hologram and transfers all command codes to himself. He puts Torres inside a force field, ejects the core, shuts down internal sensors, and then tries to transport to the Flyer. However, Tuvok has locked down transporters, so he goes through the Jefferies Tubes to the shuttle bay. En route, he encounters Tuvok, but he’s disguised himself as Torres again—this doesn’t fool the Vulcan, but the ECH still manages to get past him with some unexpected acrobatics (while still disguised as a pregnant Torres, thus making for a hilarious visual), take Tuvok’s phaser, and stun him.

The ECH takes the Flyer out, tractors the warp core, and heads back to the Hierarchy ship.

From her cell, Janeway sees that Nar is fixing some equipment. Janeway bonds with him over how to fix them, and finds out that Nar intends to open a sort of used-parts emporium. Janeway allows as how Voyager might be interested in doing business with him. But then Zet shows up and shuts it all down.

The ECH arrives with the warp core and the gelpacks, but instead of freeing Janeway as he promised, Zet takes the doc prisoner, too. Then he takes over the imaging program and change the EMH into a member of their species. They intend to use him to infiltrate a Hierarchy ship. However, they’ve added so much stuff to his program that it’s starting to destabilize.

Chakotay and Kim are freed from the morgue, and Torres manages to get the impulse drive online. As soon as she does, however, “The Blue Danube” starts to play all over the ship. Strangely, some of the notes are wrong. Seven does a Fourier analysis and discovers that it’s a warp signature, which enables them to track the ship where the EMH and Janeway are. Voyager is still warp inactive, so Tuvok and Paris take a shuttlecraft to the Hierarchy ship. A firefight ensues, during which the force field imprisoning Janeway goes down. Janeway is able to release the tractor beam on the warp core. Janeway and the EMH subdue Zet, with unexpected help from Nar.

Star Trek:Voyager "Renaissance Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Returning to Voyager, they bring the EMH to the holodeck, as his program is decompiling. Worried that he’s going to be gone soon, the EMH makes several confessions before Torres and Seven are able to purge the excess stuff Zet programmed him with.

The next week or so is spent reinstalling the warp core and getting it going. The EMH stays in sickbay the entire time, mortified both by his behavior to the crew and by his embarrassing confessions. Janeway goes to sickbay and informs him that his punishment for his actions is six days without his mobile emitter. Since he hasn’t left sickbay in a week, it’s time served. She then invites him to the holodeck for a cup of coffee—he said they should socialize more, but she tells him that there absolutely should be no opera…

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? In a very nice touch, it takes a week to install the warp core. Yes, Scotty was able to restart it in a few minutes in the original series’ “The Naked Time,” but that was an emergency. This was not an emergency, so Torres took the time to do it right and make sure nothing goes wrong with the big thing that is powered by the constant annihilation of matter and antimatter…

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway orders the EMH not to cooperate with the Overlookers because she knows they won’t do as they say. She somehow manages not to say “I told you so” to the EMH when they imprison him after he brings the warp core.

Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok is the one who figures out what the EMH is up to, and almost succeeds in stopping him.

Half and half. Interestingly, while the EMH has no trouble sedating Chakotay and Kim so he can disguise himself as them, he doesn’t do the same for the very pregnant Torres, because she’s also his patient and he doesn’t want to do anything to endanger mother or impending child.

Star Trek:Voyager "Renaissance Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Forever an ensign. Kim actually figures out that the EMH was using the holodeck to send the “R’Kaal” messages, and he gets sedated and stuffed in a morgue for his trouble.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH waxes rhapsodic at the top of the episode about how awesome it is to be a hologram because of all the cool things he can do, and then he spends much of the episode doing some of those cool things.

Then at the end, he confesses to Tuvok that he violated doctor-patient confidentiality by telling Neelix about a delicate medical issue the Vulcan had; to Kim that he once said mean things about his saxophone playing; to Seven that he loves her; and to Janeway that when he was first activated, he compiled a list of what he felt were questionable command decisions of hers.

Resistance is futile. Seven is the one who decodes the EMH’s “Blue Danube” clue as to where he is.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Paris tries desperately to have one last romantic meal with his wife before she gives birth. He is done in first by her being a responsible officer and later by it not being his wife he’s inviting, but the EMH in disguise…

When the EMH declares his love for Seven, her nonplussed reply is, “Your cognitive algorithms are malfunctioning.”

What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. The EMH very cleverly delays Tuvok’s finding him by creating dozens of duplicates of himself on the holodeck.

Do it.

Voyager can survive without its warp core, but not without its captain.”

“Now it doesn’t have either.”

–The EMH justifying his not following orders, and Janeway pointing out the flaw in his logic.

Welcome aboard. Andy Milder and Wayne Thomas Yorke play the two Overlookers, while Alexander Enberg makes his final appearance as Vorik. David Sparrow and J.R. Quinonez play two of the holographic alien images superimposed over the EMH.

In addition, regular extra Tarik Ergin gets a rare speaking part as Ayala, as he’s at the conn during gamma shift.

Trivial matters: The EMH is singing “Questo o quella” from Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto in the Delta Flyer at the top of the episode. He also plays “The Blue Danube,” and uses it to encode his message to Voyager after making off with the warp core.

The Overlookers were first able to see through the EMH’s eyes in “Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy.”

The notion that traditional warp drive damages the fabric of space was first seen in TNG’s “Force of Nature.”

Star Trek:Voyager "Renaissance Man"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “Questo o quella per me pari sono.” There is one scene in this episode that pisses me off no end because it once again brings up an issue with Voyager and then does nothing to actually deal with the issue, sidestepping it and thus making it even worse.

It’s when Chakotay and the EMH disguised as Janeway are talking about the R’Kaal and how they have to give up their warp core and settle down. The EMH uses Janeway’s voice to talk about how tired she is of casualty reports and risking lives for the slim chance they might get home.

And this is a thing that the show should have been dealing with way more often. More than thirty people have died since Voyager went into the Badlands to chase after the Val Jean. It was very heartening to see Janeway acknowledge that, finally, and very frustrating to have it not even be Janeway. Mind you, it makes sense that the EMH, who has had to compose death certificates for all thirty-plus of those people (including his predecessor as chief medical officer, whose death is indirectly responsible for the EMH becoming the sentient being he is today), would raise this concern. But it’s maddening to know that (a) it isn’t really Janeway and (b) it wasn’t even really the EMH expressing that concern, because it was all bullshit to convince Chakotay to be on board with giving up the warp core.

Once you get past that, the episode is perfectly fine. We’ve only got one episode left, and Robert Picardo is pretty much the breakout star of the series, so it seems fitting that he gets one final vehicle. He gets to sing opera, he gets to be the ECH one more time, he gets to histrionically confess his sins, and he gets to be repentant, yet still improve his relationship with Janeway. The rivalry between him and Paris gets two final acknowledgments, the first with the EMH being forced to kiss him while disguised as Torres, the second when Paris rather bitterly asks if the EMH has anything he wants to confess to him (he doesn’t, though Paris very obviously thinks he should, dagnabbit).

Plus it’s fun watching Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, and Roxann Dawson impersonate him. Of the three, Dawson is the most successful at replicating Picardo’s tone, though all three are just off enough to have it be obvious that they’re not who they look like. (My wife was watching this with me, and she knew from jump that it wasn’t really Janeway because Mulgrew didn’t sound right.) And I’m always happy to see the Potato People…

Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido is pleased to finally be able to talk about the fact that he’s writing a Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness graphic novel that serves as a prequel to the Netflix animated series. It was announced at New York Comic-Con, it will be published by TokyoPop, and it will be out next year.


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