VOY Challenge, Ep. 5: Phage

VOY_S01_E05TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge: One Geek’s quest to make it back to the Alpha Quadrant with all his internal organs intact.


Captain Janeway is making her way to her private dining room when she finds that Neelix has converted it into a makeshift galley to make real food for the crew.  The ship’s current energy reserve situation and replicator rations policy have made it a necessity–and one that will take some getting used to.

Janeway is then summoned to the Bridge by Chakotay.  Sensors have detected a possible deposit of dilithium which would go a long way in solving Voyager’s energy reserve problems.  In fact, there could be as much as 1000 metric tons of the stuff on the Class M planet the deposit is located on.

The Captain orders an Away Team of Chakotay, Kim, and Neelix (who practically begs to be part of the group) to beam down to the caves that contain the dilitihium. They split up and search for the deposits in the caverns–because what could possibly go wrong–and we learn that things aren’t what they seem.

Neelix has been called back to the rendezvous site to return to the ship, but his tricorder has picked up some unusual readings from the rock and he goes to investigate (against orders, of course).  Unbeknownst to Neelix, the rock wall behind him has disappeared and reveals a corridor.  Neelix eventually turns around and it stunned to discover the corridor when he is surprised by an unknown species. The alien fires what appears to be some kind of weapon at Neelix and hits him.

Chakotay and Kim rush to Neelix’s location and find him writhing around on the ground unable to breathe. Emergency Transport! Everyone is beamed directly to Sick Bay where the Doctor discovers that Neelix’s lungs are missing.  They’ve been completely removed from his body.

Artificial lungs aren’t an option, but The Doctor says he can replace Neelix’s original lungs if they can be found quickly. Janeway decides to lead an Away Team down to the caverns and investigate the situation.  The break through the force field that was projecting the rock wall and proceed down the corridor.

Back aboard the Voyager, The Doctor is able to craft a set of holographic lungs for Neelix to allow him to breathe on his own. The downside? Neelix will have to remain perfectly still in order for the lungs to work properly.  It seems the computer can’t compensate for movement in rendering the hologram of the lungs in his chest, so he’ll have to remain completely motionless for the rest of his life. Good times.

Meanwhile, Janeway, Tuvok, and Kim have discovered a room that looks like it’s got a lot of organs in it. The Captain picks up a life form in the area and they encounter the Vidiians who evade pursuit with a force field. Janeway finds one of the Vidiian organ extraction tools and brings it back to the Voyager where they lay in a pursuit course.  The Vidiians try to lose Voyager inside a giant asteroid and, to make matters worse, the inside of the asteroid is like a Hall of Mirrors. There appear to be hundreds of Vidiian vessels when, in fact, there’s only one.  Chakotay comes up with an idea to use the phasers on low power and bounce the beams off the reflection until it stops on the real ship.

They find the real ship and the Vidiians surrender.  They come aboard Voyager and drop the bad news: they’ve already used Neelix’s lungs and can’t retransplant without killing the Vidiian recipient–who happens to be one of the two Vidiians standing aboard Voyager.  Captain Janeway is left with no other choice but to let the Vidiians go, but she sends them with a stern warning to take back to their people: if they so much as jaywalk in front of Voyager, Janeway will meet them with deadly force.

The Vidiians, grateful for Janeway’s sparing their lives, offer to give some of their medical knowledge to try and save Neelix. Kes offers a lung to Neelix and the transplant is successful. Janeway sends the Vidiians on their way. Voyager gets back under way for the Alpha Quadrant and Kes becomes the heiress apparent to Tom Paris’ medical assistant position.


  • The Vidiians. What a great, scary new race wtih great potential. Organ harvesting to fight off a plague?  Sign me up for more of this! 
  • The Doctor giving Neelix holographic lungs. Such a neat and inventive solution!
  • Janeway’s internal struggle when it comes to releasing the Vidiians. This Captain is still finding the balance in being the leader of a group of people trapped 75 years from home.  Her conflict between doing the right thing and doing what gets her crew home is quite a delicate position that Kate Mulgrew absolutely nails with perfection.
  • The final version of the script.  The original version of the script called for Tom Paris’ heart to be stolen by the Vidiians and I think this version just works much better.
  • This episode sets up a great discussion on the quality of life for patients with severe illness in the best traditions of Star Trek.
  • Neelix manages to find some humor in a less than ideal situation. Great texture to the character in this episode.


  • I never liked the story element of Neelix being suspicious and jealous of Paris where Kes is concerned. I don’t think it plays well at all.
  • Neelix is going to get one of Kes’ lungs thanks to Vidiian technology. Here’s hoping that lung lasts more than the 9 years that make up the typical Ocampan life span.
  • I feel like we’re seeing a whole lot of Neelix lately and not enough learning about our Starfleet crew.
  • This episode reinforces one the long-standing problems I’ve had with Voyager. The primary conflict the ship is facing is resolved during a Captain’s Log and happens off-screen in the last 90 seconds of the show.


“Phage” is a great episode that introduces a new alien species that truly pose a life-threatening danger to the Voyager crew. The vast majority of this episode works for me and, more than being “good Star Trek,” it’s really good science fiction.  You just know that, based on Janeway’s warning, we will be seeing this race again and you know it’s not going to be good for anyone.

Additionally, five episodes in, I definitely see why Kate Mulgrew was cast as Janeway.  She absolutely can carry the mantle of Starship Captain in the Star Trek Universe. I definitely have not given Mulgrew or Janeway nearly enough credit in the past.


“Phage” fires on all thrusters and is a great, early episode in this series. It gets a solid 4 Starfleet Deltas out of a possible 5.







Voyager discovers a nebula that could solve their power reserve problems in Episode 6, “The Cloud.”