VOY Challenge, Ep. 12: Heroes and Demons

VOY_S01_E12TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s quest to ratchet up the Harry Kim toteboard and defeat Grendel all at the same time.

OVERVIEW

Torres is beaming samples of a protostar aboard the Voyager into containment fields after detecting unusual amounts of photonic activity. She transports the samples, but only one of the two containers receives a sample. Janeway detects a slight breach in the annular confinement beam and Torres attempts the transport again, bringing the second sample aboard.

Hmmm…photonic activity.  Photonic. Yeah, it’s probably fine. I mean, there’s nothing aboard the Voyager that uses vast amounts of assembled photons, right? What could go wrong?

Torres performs a full spectral analysis and the Captain and Chief Engineer theorize that the samples could help them increase the efficiency of the power converters by 15 or 20%. Janeway figures that Harry Kim (!) can probably help speed the analysis along instead of the projected six hours it will take and she taps her combadge to contact him. He fails to respond and Janeway asks the computer to locate him—he’s not aboard the ship. He hasn’t beamed off and all the shuttles are accounted for.

Harry got off duty four hours ago and he was scheduled for time in the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) after his shift.  No one has seen him since internal sensors are unable to scan the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) thanks to interference.  Chakotay and Tuvok head down to the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and there is a program that is currently active and manual overrides are not functioning (!). The pair proceed into the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and the opening credits roll.

Chakotay and Tuvok discover that Kim was running a Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) program based on the old English poem, Beowulf. Tuvok isn’t detecting any life signs on his Tricorder but there is still considerable interference. Just then, the two are almost hit by a flying spear which sticks into a nearby tree…and that’s followed closely by the sword-wielding Freya, daughter of King Hrothgar. Tuvok instructs the computer to delete the Freya character–and nothing happens. The two figure that the command protocols are offline and that probably means the safeties are, too.  (Good thing you dodged that spear, Chakotay.)

Freya thinks that Tuvok and Chakotay are intruders and she’s the perimeter guard. She asks if they are kinsmen of Beowulf and Chakotay catches on. He figures that Kim was playing the Beowulf character and he tells Freya that they are indeed kinsmen. Chakotay asks Freya if she has seen Beowulf, and she says she has…but he’s dead!

For those of you keeping score at home:

  • Harry Kim = Beowulf
  • Beowulf = Dead
  • Harry Kim = DEAD!!

That’s not optimal.

Meanwhile, back in the episode, Chakotay wants to know more about how Beowulf died, and Freya takes him and Tuvok to the King.

Once at the castle, the King’s men tell Chakotay and Tuvok that Beowulf died with 30 men fighting the monster Grendel. Tuvok wants to see Kim’s body, but Grendel took it back to it’s lair.  Oh, and no one saw the battle, either.  The King is a little freaked out–Beowulf was supposed to kill the monster and now he’s dead.  He doesn’t think that Chakotay and Tuvok can avenge the death of Beowulf and he makes them stand sentry to try and prove their worthiness.

The pair check in with the Captain and tell her that Harry was playing Beowulf on the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and that he may actually be dead. Janeway wants them to remain on the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and gather data, sending their Tricorder data to the Bridge.  Looks like the protostar energy has caused the problem with the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™) and Harry Kim may have been converted to energy.

A bright mass about a meter in size appears before Chakotay and Tuvok. Tuvok wants to remain to observe the program because it may be Grendel.  (Y’know…the monster that just killed Harry and turned him into energy. What could go wrong with that?) Torres picks up signs of matter/energy conversion and Janeway orders her to beam them out of the Holodeck (PHOTONS!™). She can’t get a lock and their life signs aren’t there to be picked up anymore.  They’re gone.

Wow…who saw that coming?!

Photonic energy has now de-materialized Kim, Chakotay, and Tuvok and seemingly turned them into energy but Tom Paris thinks they may still be recoverable. (Yes. The Helmsman is apparently also an expert in holo matrices. Who knew?)  The only problem is that a rescue team could be lost in the same fashion, so Paris suggests that The Doctor (PHOTONS!™) be used to rescue the de-materialized crew.  He rightly observes that The Doctor is a hologram and “a hologram cannot be converted into energy because it’s already energy.” (This guy’s gonna go far in this outfit, I tell you.)  With that, The Doctor (…you get the idea. He’s made of photons.) is pressed into service to explore the Beowulf program and interact with it in an effort to find the malfunction and rescue the crew.

No pressure, Doc.

Kes chats with The Doctor  as he reads about the story of Beowulf. Kes wonders if he is nervous since the task differs from his programming. The Doctor confesses that the world outside of Sick Bay makes him uneasy and Kes tells him it will be an opportunity for the The Doctor to explore his independence. Kes also suggests a name for him and he decides to research the matter further.

The Doctor is transferred to the Holodeck and he encounters Freya–whom he knows almost every detail about. The Doctor  asks the location of Grendel, and Freya figures he must be a true warrior to seek out such a monster. She asks his name and he says that it is “Schweitzer.” Freya agrees to take him to the King.

Upon arriving at the castle, The Doctor is received by the King and is engaged in a sword fight by one of the King’s men to demonstrate his worthiness. He wounds the guard and then offers him advice on treating his wounds as the gathering chants “SCHWEITZER!” (Really?  The name of a warrior?!)

The Doctor gets invited to a feast where he regales the gathering in attendance of his medical exploits. Riveting stuff, really, unless you’re one of the men listening. Or someone watching the episode. Then, you’re probably just bored.

Freya cozies up to The Doctor by the fire…and tries to really cozy up to him when she invites him to her bed.  (WINK, WINK!) She heads off to her room leaving Lord Schweitzer on his own, when he hears a howling. He pulls out his Tricorder and detects some photonic energy. Grendel gets closer to The Doctor and Freya isn’t the only one who wants to reach out and touch The Doctor because Grendel gets a tentacle around the Doctor’s arm. He wants out of there NOW and requests an emergency transfer to Sick Bay.  Paris is able to retrieve him–more or less–sans one arm.  Looks like Grendel has a trophy.

Back in Sick Bay, Paris gets The Doctor’s program outfitted with a new arm (Seriously–is there anything this guy can’t do?!) Contact with the photonic energy disrupted his magnetic cohesion. (HUH?!) That’s not all, though.  The readings from The Doctor’s tricorder data showed that the photonic energy has synaptic patterns. Paris and Torres decide to check the samples that were beamed into the containment fields in Engineering.

Paris establishes a polarization field and introduces it into one of the photonic energy samples in Engineering. A reaction starts and a synaptic pattern is definitely showing. Just then, the photonic energy breaks out of the containment field, flies across the Engineering bay, and disappears into a console and cuts through bulkheads.  Paris and Torres attempt to establish containment fields to trap it, but it keeps evading them. They block the energy on three sides, and it still manages to escape. They finally figure out that it’s displaying the properties of a life form.  (You THINK?!)

The alien manages to escape the ship by breaking through the hull and it escapes to a glowing sphere just off Voyager’s bow which appears to be some kind of photonic lattice. They detected three separate bioelectrical patterns inside it which Janeway figures could be the missing crew.  (Kim, Chakotay, and Tuvok…in case you forgot.) Janeway also says that they had no way of knowing that the photonic samples they beamed to Engineering were, in essence, capturing life forms…and the aliens did the same by capturing members of the Voyager crew. Retaliation, plain and simple.

The Doctor believes that releasing the remaining organism to Grendel in the Holodeck as a gesture of goodwill might get the missing crew members back. Janeway points out that Starfleet officers are normally put through training before any kind of First Contact situation, but the Doctor is the only one who can do this safely. He wants to finish what he started. Janeway reminds him that if he’s holding the container, he’ll have to remain in solid form.

The Doctor returns to the Holodeck with the container holding the photonic alien. He explains that it’s a talisman to aid in defeating Grendel. Unferth, the King’s swordsman who tangled with The Doctor earlier, figures that Lord Schweitzer must be in league with Grendel since no man has the power to destroy Grendel on his own. Unferth attacks The Doctor and Freya blocks the attack with her body, suffering a mortal wound.  She bids the Doctor goodbye and kisses him.  Unferth takes the container with the alien and flees. The Doctor picks up Freya’s sword and pursues him.

Unferth presents the King with “the talisman,” with The Doctor hot on his heels. The Doctor tells the King that he’s the only warrior that can defeat Grendel and he needs the talisman to do it. Unferth claims that The Doctor has already killed Freya and cannot be trusted. The Doctor picks up an iron from the fire and threaten’s Unferth with it and backs him up against a table where he follows that up with a sword to Unferth’s throat. The Doctor says that the only reason Unferth won’t die is because he’s taken an oath to do no harm.  The King gives the talisman back to The Doctor.

The Doctor tells Grendel he is ready for him and the photonic alien appears. He opens the container with the captured alien and tells Grendel that there’s no need for any more of this and asks for the crew to be returned. Grendel agrees and the missing crew are returned–and, of course, Harry Kim has no idea what was going on.  Death’ll do that to you, Harry.

Janeway praises The Doctor’s efforts and tells him that she’s giving him a special commendation for exemplary performance. She asks if he wants to be addressed with a name and he decides that the death of Freya made “Schweitzer” too painful to keep as a name, and he chooses to continue to be referred to simply as “The Doctor.”

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

  • The production design of the Beowulf characters and sets are outstanding.
  • The Doctor gets his first “away mission!”
  • Excellent exposition for new viewers between Janeway and Torres explaining how the transporters could affect the Holodeck.
  • Great feature for Robert Picardo getting to stretch the boundaries of the Voyager EMH.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME

  • Lose the bun, Janeway. It’s getting old. It makes you seem uptight.
  • Voyager’s first Holodeck gone awry episode. It’s like a Star Trek rite of passage now.
  • Tuvok taught at Starfleet Academy on Earth for 16 years but never heard of Beowulf? Seriously?
  • Chakotay and Tuvok just stay behind in the Holodeck to observe Grendel when Kim has already been converted to energy? One member of the Bridge Crew has gone missing and they just hang out?
  • Why does the Doctor need to read Beowulf when he’s a computer program? He’s got the knowledge of hundreds of years and doctors and he didn’t have to read that. Can’t he just integrate it into his program? Can’t he assimilate the knowledge he needs? HE’S A COMPUTER PROGRAM!
  • Why does The Doctor have to tap his combadge? It’s a computer generated holographic program. The combadge isn’t real.
  • Oh, and there’s no Freya in Beowulf. How could The Doctor have learned all about the character when she’s not in the story, I ask you?

PHOTON TORPEDO COUNT

The Voyager didn’t fire any photon torpedoes this episode, so the count still stands at 37.

THE TREKGEEKS OFFICIAL ENSIGN HARRY KIM SUFFERING TRACKER

Starfleet’s long-suffering Ensign died this week.  Again. He died again. 12 episodes in. 12 episodes in and the guy has been killed twice.  Given the things that have happened to Harry so far, I’m amazed that he’s not curled up in a ball, rocking back and forth, weeping uncontrollably.

Alas, here’s an up to date list of what Ensign Kim has experienced so far on his first posting…

Harry Kim’s Condition#Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race1Caretaker
Mysterious illness1Parallax
Killed2
   Euthanized in Vhnori Death PodEmanations
   Killed by Grendel and turned into energyHeroes and Demons
Critically Injured1Ex Post Facto
Dejected over mini-wormhole1Eye of the Needle
   Wormholes named after him1Eye of the Needle
Dejected over teleportation technology1Prime Factors

 

VERDICT

There are many fine hours of Star Trek that have been produced over the years. This is not one of them.

This is a largely forgettable episode to me and I found myself tuning out after a while.  It’s like they were sitting around in the writer’s room and said, “OK…it’s the first season.  We need a ‘Holodeck-gone-wrong’ episode and The Doctor needs to save the day.” It’s essentially a vehicle to get The Doctor out of Sick Bay and it waits 20 minutes to get him there. The story isn’t that engaging, honestly, and it just seems to be 30 minutes longer than it really needs to be.  The more I see it, the less I like it.

When I did my initial note taking on the episode, I gave it three Deltas.  The second time I watched it, I took it down to two and a half Deltas. After the third viewing, I settled on two Deltas–mainly because it’s contrived and boring. It’s not Voyager’s worst episode, but it’s far from it’s best. 

2delts

 

WATCH IT

NEXT TIME

Chakotay is left brain dead by an alien force in Cathexis. (Believe it or not, it wasn’t from watching Heroes and Demons.)

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