The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Nothing Human"

by David E. Sluss

6 December 1998

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: Contrived, preachy, and hypocritical.


(UN)HAPPY RETURN OF THE WEEK: It's a little to soon to have a reunion with dear, departed Jeri Taylor, isn't it? How can we miss her when she won't stay away?

CONTINUITY OF THE WEEK: As a follow-up to the Doctor's holo-imaging hobby in "Drone," the slideshow sequence, including Chakotay letting Janeway and company sit through it, was about the only thing decent about this episode. Unfortunately, it didn't even make it to the opening credits.

MORAL OF THE WEEK: The message I got out of this week's show is: "Posture about ethics, but adhere to them only when it's convenient." I mean, Taylor gave us speech after speech about how immoral it is to use unethically-obtained medical research, only to have the Voyager crew use it anyway, promising to never ever do it again. So was it Taylor's intent to portray the crew, particularly The Doctor and Janeway, as hypocrites? Apparently so, given Crell's closing speech. So now Janeway and company will have to live with their hypocrisy and lack of ethics -- sh'yea, right! No need, thanks to the...

BUILT-IN RESET BUTTONS OF THE WEEK: You know, Voyager's reset button has been a mainstay over the years, serving as a way to get the ship fixed between weekly devastating attacks, and to have eventful alternate reality episodes that don't have any lasting impact. But this episode is more innovative than most, as it has the reset buttons built right into the dialogue. Note the scene near the end of the episode between the Head Hypocrites, The Doctor and Janeway. First, the Doctor says, "B'Elanna suffered severe nervous system trauma; she'll need a few days to recover," just in time for next week's show (and how severe can it be if only days are required for a full recovery?). Then Janeway passes the buck on deciding whether to pull the plug on Crell to The Doctor, saying, "Decide quickly. We've had enough moral dilemmas for one day," the implication being that as soon as Crell's disposition is decided, all will be Back To Normal on Voyager. Except B'Elanna still has some demons in her quarters, I guess...

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: Gee, what could it be? Yes, it's that walking contrivance, the Crell Moset Hologram, whose existence defies reason, logic, and computer science. We have to swallow an awful lot in order to accept this plot device:

  1. The Doctor can't accommodate the exo-biological data in his "matrix": If so, why doesn't he "swap out" some of the data he doesn't need to treat B'Elanna. like how to make a splint, or, heaven forbid, his opera lyrics? But even if you buy this one...
  2. It's necessary to create a hologram in order to use the exo-biological data: Hogwash. How about just reading it, or asking the computer for "all files regarding parasitical lifeforms...." But even if you buy this one...
  3. The hologram has to have a personality: Rubbish. If all the data is there, no personality for a holographic consultant is necessary, unless its creator is a hard-luck masturbator like Geordi LaForge. But even if you buy this one....
  4. Starfleet's database contains enough information about Crell to create a detailed and accurate personality and voice for the hologram, but nothing about the fact that he was a Mad Scientist: Poppycock. Starleet has long had access to detailed records about the Cardassian camps and the personnel assigned there (c.f. Deep Space Nine's "Duet," for example.), and even this episode showed that Voyager's computer had minutiae such as Crell's supply requisitions on file. But even if you buy this one...
  5. Starfleet's database has no information about Crell's atrocities, but the hologram based on that data half-assedly admits to them, with talk of "improvising," ends justifying the means, etc.

It's a chain of implausibilities that is simply impossible to accept. It goes to show how ridiculously out of hand Trek's "holo-science" has become.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: Funny how we never see a Bajoran crewman working with the senior staff on anything, except for the one week there's a Cardassian war criminal aboard. Tough break.

COP-OUT AVOIDED OF THE WEEK: While the use of Crell's research and the subsequent whitewash of it is a cop-out, it's not nearly as bad as the one I was expecting to get, namely an alien doctor showing up just in time to conduct a completely ethical operation to separate B'Elanna from the injured alien, thus obviating all the hemming and hawing. Fortunately, we didn't get that, what we did get isn't a whole lot better.

Previous: "Infinite Regress"
Next: "Thirty Days"
NEXT WEEK: Star Trek: Voyager does SeaQuest DSV. Or is that the other way around? Either way, it looks to be a brutish coupling...



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This review is copyright 1998 David E. Sluss
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