Thursday, May 4, 2017

Episode Review - The Swarm (Voyager, Season 3)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – Torres and Paris are on a shuttle mission when they are attacked by some insectoid aliens. After being recovered by Voyager, the crew learns that the aliens that attacked them are mostly unknown, save for their violence towards trespassers in their territory. This leaves Janeway with a problem: add at least 15 months to their voyage, or risk being destroyed by covertly crossing through this dangerous region of space. As they attempt to cross the region, the Doctor is experiencing data corruption which may ultimately lead to the deletion of his program. The crew turns to a holographic representation of the EMH’s creator, Lewis Zimmerman, to help fix the Doctor’s programming.

Score: 7/10 – This was an interesting episode that had two important stories that didn’t quite mesh well together. Each story on its own was solid, but combined it almost felt forced, as if they needed a reason for Torres to be unavailable to help the Doctor at certain key points. While this hurt the episode a bit in my eyes, it is still a good episode. Robert Picardo gets double duty as the Doctor and Zimmerman, and pulls off the dual roles quite well. We also get to hear his singing voice, as this is the episode that introduces us to the Doctor’s love of opera. Kes and Torres have some great interactions with the Doctor as well, and our favourite hologram wrestles with his version of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. On the flip side, there is danger and suspense as the crew tries to get through a dangerous region of space and fend of “the Swarm”, a group of insect-like aliens that defend their territory with deadly force. It is a great adventure. Put the two great stories together, and it almost seems like they both lose a little something.

Relevance - 3 points. We are introduced to the Doctor singing opera, and get our first look at Doctor Lewis Zimmerman (albeit hologram form). References to “Caretaker” and “Elogium” are made, and Janeway finally surprises Tuvok, meeting a challenge set early on in the series. We also see the seeds sown for the eventual matrimony between Tom and B’Ellana as they start flirting with each other in the chuttlecraft right before they are attacked. Lots to make this episode relevant, but probably none more than the captain and crew treating the Doctor more like an individual member of the crew and less like a computer program.

Continuity - 3 points. Everything checks out on the Character continuity. Kes is the advocate for the Doctor. The Doctor goes through quite a ride as he deals with faulty memory. Janeway and B’Elanna continue to treat the Doctor more like a person. All is good. Universe continuity and story continuity also check out. Full marks for this category.

Character Development – 3 points. This is a Doctor episode, and we add to his repertoire of extra programs by bringing in the opera. He also has to deal with a hologram’s version of Alzheimer’s disease, which gives him some great moments. He gets fed up with arrogant holograms from both Zimmerman and the soprano he is working with (who gives us a great line of “It’s like singing with a computer!”), as well as criticism of B’Elanna’s bedside manner, giving us some great irony moments. Kes also gets some solid attention here, as she is the most instrumental in finding a way to restore the Doctor to full “health”, advocating for his rights and protecting his individualism. A lot of people seem to not like the character of Kes very much, but she comes through in a big way in this episode. The Tom and B’Elanna story gets its start here, so that is significant as well.

Social Commentary – 2 points. For me, how to deal with the degenerating condition of a loved one is the biggest theme here. Trying to protect the person’s individuality and rights while attempting to restore what they have lost is all important. As far as the Swarm part of the story goes…well, I guess we can say don’t get in a bug’s way, but Voyager found a way around it. Oh well, not everything works perfectly.

Cool Stuff – 2 points. A point for the character of the diagnostic program which looks like Zimmerman. This gives Picardo a great opportunity to act with himself. I always enjoy this type of character interaction. Another point is for the Swarm aliens. They have a cool look, especially when they get shot with a phaser. Their ships, though small, are deadly. It seems as if it was a precursor to Krall’s ships in “Star Trek: Beyond”.

Rank – Captain (20 points). A good episode that really moves along the Doctor’s character. The side story of the Swarm aliens has some good action and thrills. Overall, this is a great episode that just missed the Admiral ranking.

If you would like to read other reviews from Star Trek: Voyager, click on the link here.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do.

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