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Overview – Captain Janeway and Tuvok leave on an exchange assignment with a race known as the Kadi, a race that does not value over-stimulation of the senses. Nelix is assigned to host the Kadi ambassador who is responsible to evaluate the Voyager crew. During this exchange, the Doctor takes it upon himself to educate Seven of Nine in the art of romance. The Doctor ends up making a bet with Tom Paris as to her capability to be successful at dating. As he tutors her on the aspects of going on a date, the Doctor comes to realize that he himself is developing feelings for his pupil. Amidst this, the Kadi ambassador turns out to be more than Nelix seems to be prepared for.
Score: 8/10 – This episode is a light-hearted character driven story that taps into some standard motifs of the romantic comedy. We see the awkwardness of the inexperienced individual result in hilarity. There’s the falling in love of the teacher to the student. There is a typical bet that damages the relationship between the two, and an eventual resolution. While this episode does seem to hit the standard notes, it does so in a successful manner. The pacing is a bit rushed at times, and the story is mostly predictable, but it is a delight to watch. Seven’s disastrous date with Lt. Chapman is not too over the top, but still funny. There is some great banter and humor. Scott Thompson, best known for his work in “The Kids in the Hall” sketch show, does a great job as Tomin. He plays the part with flare and passion. It is unfortunate that some of the main characters are glorified extras in this episode. I think Chakotay is only in one scene, and Harry gets very little time as well. Tuvok is only seen at the start and end, with little else to do or say at those moments, and Janeway does not get much more screen time than that. Mostly, we get a great story that really pushes the relationship between the Doctor and Seven of Nine to a different level. Both Robert Picardo and Jeri Ryan sing for this episode, and the duet of “You are my Sunshine” is delightful.
Relevance – 3 points. This is the beginning of the Doctor having romantic feelings for Seven of Nine, so that scores a point. There is also a point for the final appearance of Sandrine’s, the holographic French pub that Tom Paris created. A great line is when Tom comes into the program and loudly wonders what happened to the pool table. There is also a reference as to why Seven refuses a glass of champagne, as in the episode “Timeless” she learned that synthehol has a negative effect on her.
Continuity – 3 points. Universe continuity is intact here. Character continuity is also good, although I found Seven forgiving the Doctor to be a bit quickly done. That is more of an issue with pacing than anything else, so not much I can do to detract from this category. I did find that it made perfect sense for the Doctor to develop feelings for Seven as he worked with her in developing social skills of the romantic nature. Story wise there was one small aspect that bothered me. When Janeway, Tuvok, and Neelix meet the Kadi in the transporter room, it was odd that Chakotay was not present as well. I would think that the first officer, who would be in command of the ship during Tomin’s visit, would be there to great them. Still, I find that to be a minor oversight, and while it deserves a mention, it doesn’t merit a point deduction.
Character Development – 3 points. We see the beginning of the Doctor’s infatuation with Seven in this episode. It is a significant advancement in the Doctor’s character, and it is carried through for almost the remainder of the series. Seven also gets some good attention as we see her expand her skills and interests into more interesting areas. The B story gives us a rare chance to grow Neelix’s character as we see him try to reign in the out-of-control ambassador. We have seen this before in TNG’s “Liasons”, but here we see Neelix’s charm and good heart win through.
Social Commentary – 1 points. Here is where the story comes up a bit short. This is a great character story that deepens the insight into two popular characters. We are given a fun story of futile love (which, come to think of it, might have been a fitting title, a former Borg trying to understand love). But what are they saying here that is truly relevant to us? Is it that love is a fickle game? Perhaps we could examine the Neelix story and come away with how living a sheltered life can become troublesome when you are in an environment where your inhibitions are freed. I suppose that something there is something to that in the story of Tomin. He has lived a very disciplined life and when given the opportunity to explore outside what he is accustomed to. Of course, the results have some hilarity, but it does make one think about the inhibitions we have. Still, most in our society do not have the level of restrictions that Kadi have, so this will give us just one point in this section.
Cool Stuff – 2 points. I loved the performance by Scott Thompson. He is a gifted comedic actor that really knows how to pull off an over-the-top character, and the suddenly unrestrained Tomin certainly qualifies. I am also scoring a point for the lovely singing that Seven and the Doctor engage in. It added a great sense of charm and sweetness to the episode.
Rank – Captain (20 points). This is such a fun and charming episode that does a great deal of justice to Seven’s and the Doctor’s relationship that it is just too good to pass up. While it lacks in the action and intrigue department, it more than makes up for it in the characterization, humor, and fun. Well worth multiple viewings.
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