Star Trek Voyager Torture: Lifesigns (Season 2 Episode 35)

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The last episode of Star Trek Voyager wasn’t so bad… but the fear lives inside me every time I start one of these up. Fear of pain. Still, I soldier on watching Voyager for the first (and hopefully last) time.

Today’s episode is Doctor heavy and that usually means good things. Or does it? *Dramatic Music!*

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“More of my subplot. Deal with it..”

The episode opens up with Paris being late for the bridge with Chakotay reprimanding him. Faithful Voyager Torture readers will remember that Paris being a slack ass started last episode. I have a theory of what’s going to happen with this that I’ll explore later on in the recap.

The Voyager gets a distress call from a dying Vidiian woman. You may remember the Vidiians as the total assholes that stole Nelix’s lungs and had a concentration camp full of people they used as slaves and for body parts, even going so far as murdering a Voyager crew member and using his face to try to seduce Torres. More on that stuff in a minute.

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“Did someone put this woman through a meat grinder?”

They beam the woman over and the Doctor and Kes get to work on her. The Phage has really done a number on her and she looks seriously disgusting. She’s got an electronic do-dad planted in her brain that’s keeping her alive, but not for long. The Doctor figures out a way of downloading her into the computer and bringing her back as a hologram. That way the Doctor can get insight into her condition as he treats her body.

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There’s a neat bit where he recreates the woman in layers, first skeleton, then with organs, then with muscles, and then with skin. It’s pretty bad CGI, but fairly impressive for Voyager. I’m guessing they had a very small budget since this episode is basically a bottle episode.

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This was pretty cool.

Anyway, when the woman (Danara Pel) is awake and can see herself in the mirror she’s so happy, because she looks like a normal person and not a piece of beef jerky. This begins the first moral quandary, “Would a sick person want to return to that state after experiencing perfect health again?” The problem for her (other than she’s using Voyager’s resources as hologram) is that her mind will degrade if kept in the computer for longer than a week, so she’s going to have to go back into her gross body.

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Yeah, I’m sure she’s going to want to get into her beef jerky body.

It’s during this time that she gives the Doctor a name, the name of an uncle that made her laugh, “Shmullus.” Well that name certainly makes me laugh.

The Doctor asks Torres for help with his patient. He needs part of her brain (apparently you can take part of someone’s brain and it’s fine) to help heal Danara. Torres is understandably upset by this. After all, she was kept in a Vidiian concentration camp and experimented on.

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“Hmm. I did go through inhumane treatment, but you’re nice.”

And now for our second moral quandary, “Why go out of your way to help someone from a race of evil assholes?” I feel like Voyager missed out a bit on this one in this episode, since they don’t really get into like they should have. Instead of a long debate Danara introduces herself to Torres and demonstrates that she’s a really nice person, so Torres is cool with helping her. There’s a lot of drama left out here considering the Voyager crew left a bunch of people to die in that concentration camp.

Regardless, I feel like this episode does a lot for the Vidiian as a antagonists. They’re not all bad, but many of them have become so extreme in their beliefs because they’ve been suffering from this illness as a people for two millennia. Still, that doesn’t mean that having concentration camps full of slave labor/organ donors can be explained away easily. This episode glosses over this a bit, at the sacrifice for the story. You see, the story isn’t focused on the Vidiians, but the fact that the Doctor starts falling in love with his patient.

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“I’m acting like a jerk in front of a lot of people!’

But back to the Paris B story. Paris and Chakotay have a confrontation in the mess hall. Paris tells Chakotay that he sucks, because he doesn’t let Paris do his job (Chakotay’s a micro manager). It’s such a notable thing that the traitor (who has been reporting to the Kazon for the last few episodes) reports that there’s dissension in the ranks. His Kazon handler is pleased and wants the traitor to sabotage the warp coils. The guy is fine with reporting, but he doesn’t want to harm the ship or anyone on it. Uh, okay. What do you expect the Kazon to do with all the information you’re giving them? Buy a thoughtful gift? The traitor demands to speak to Seska and cuts off the transmission.

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Why is it dark in there? He’ alone in his quarters.

Meanwhile, the Doctor talks to Kes about his feelings and she tells him to tell Danara. Two moral quandaries and a “can a non-human love” question. Man, this is the most Star Trekian Voyager episode yet!

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“So you want to bang?”

In a hilarious scene he tells Danara that he’s romantically interested while he’s operating on her gross head. She rejects him and he goes to the holodeck to talk to Paris about how he feels like garbage. Paris has some great lines about falling in love and being rejected that I found to be pretty true. You forget about the person, but everyone once in awhile you remember them again. Great stuff.

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How I feel most Voyager episodes.

The Doctor tries again by taking Danara to Mars, via one of Paris’s holodeck programs. It’s a ’57 Chevy overlooking a Martian city. It’s a pretty interesting and cool effect. Another interesting thing on Voyager. I feel like I’m being tricked somehow.

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“Good thing there’s oxygen on Mars.”

As I was viewing I was worried that the writers would fuck up the show, since I was enjoying myself. They usually find a way to do that. Anyway, the Doctor and Danara make out.

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Dude falls like a sissy.

Back to the bridge where Paris is late again. Chakotay tells him that it’s okay, because another crewman took his shift. And Paris won’t have any more shifts until he adjusts his attitude. This leads to Paris pushing Chakotay down and being hauled to the brig. And there it is. This is confirmation in my mind that this is all a ruse to try to get Paris close to the traitor by faking that he’s a “bad guy” now, because Voyager is pretty predictable. (Please don’t ruin it for me in the comments by giving away what will happen.)

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“I can’t believe I sat through make up to do this short scene.”

The traitor finally gets a hold of Seska and she tells him that he better damn well do what she wants (harm the Voyager), because she’s not going to raise her baby on a Kazon ship (fyi she’s preggers with Chakotay’s stolen sperms). I’m not sure what she means by this. They’re going to take over the Voyager, fix it and then raise her baby there? Are the hotel like hallways and rooms of the Voyager that much better? How do they know that harming the Voyager won’t blow it up? I’m pretty sure that Janeway would not hesitate to use the self destruct to keep Voyager out of the Kazon’s hands. You’d think Seska would come to the same conclusion here.

Okay, back to the good part. The Doctor finds some sort of bad juice in the body of Danara and while trying to figure out how it got in there, Danara (as a hologram) informs him that she did it. She’s trying to kill her body. She’d rather live with the Doctor healthy for a few more days than in her plague infected body. The Doctor argues that he will love her no matter what (and he’s probably right, he’s a medical program. He’s probably not programmed to find ugly things repulsive.)

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Yep. Happy ending.

Later her meets her in the pool hall hologram and she’s back to being a gross alien. She accepted her fate and the two have a dance before she returns to her home.

Overall, I really liked this episode. Honestly, if you’re not a fan of Voyager, but like Next Generation give this episode a watch. It’s good Star Trek.

Least Annoying Characters:

The Doctor, Kes, Danara

Most Torturous Moment:

The Paris B plot is getting annoying, but it wasn’t all that long.

Chris Art Accuracy:

Chris only had my description to go on, so this is perfect.

Torture Score: 0 out of 5 Neelixes

VoyagerTorture_NeelixScore_0of5

 

I really enjoyed this episode. It felt like “classic” Star Trek. It is possible though that my bar has been lowered.