VOY Challenge, Ep. 13: Cathexis

VOY_S01_E13TrekGeeks’ Star Trek Voyager Challenge

One Geek’s endeavor to attach the stones to the medicine wheel in all the right places.


Janeway is spending some time getting away from being Captain by immersing herself in a holo-novel. (Does anyone remember when they had power shortage issues three or four episodes ago?) She’s playing the part of a Governess in “ancient England.” She’s not in the house sixty seconds and she’s already butting heads with the woman who manages the house staff. She then meets the Master of the House who sets forth some rules–when she is rudely interrupted by Ensign Kim. (Dammit, Harry! Mama’s got needs!)

Kim reports that he’s got the shuttlecraft transporting Commander Chakotay and Lieutenant Tuvok  on long range sensors and they’re not responding. The shuttle’s been damaged and there are fractures in the hull. Kim also reports that the two life signs are faint. Janeway orders him to beam the life signs directly to Sick Bay as soon as they’re in range.

Once on board, The Doctor reveals that they’ve each taken an energy discharge to the head. Tuvok has sustained a concussion and should recover, but Chakotay isn’t so lucky.  All of the bio-neural energy has been drained from his synapses. The Doctor can put him on life support, but for all intents and purposes, Chakotay is brain dead. Cut to a one-shot of Janeway looking stunned and shocked as her eyeballs dart back and forth. Cue the opening credits…

Tuvok tells Janeway that the shuttle attack lasted no more than a few seconds. They had completed their trade mission with the Ilidarians and were on course for their rendezvous with the Voyager when they encountered a dark matter nebula. As they began to analyze it, a ship emerged and attacked the shuttle. Chakotay lost consciousness quickly and Tuvok was barely able to set the autopilot before he lost consciousness himself. Beyond that, Tuvok can provide little detail, but the shuttle’s sensors may have recorded information about the attack. The Doctor can do little for Chakotay without being able to examine the weapon to determine how his bio-neural energy was depleted. Janeway orders the ship back to the dark matter nebula to try and find the ship that attacked the shuttle.

Janeway says the long-range sensors detect strong electromagnetic radiation emanating from the nebula and they won’t be able to scan inside it. She reconfigures the sensors for multiphasic bandwidth and she loses all sensor contact with the nebula–which makes no sense. (I know, right?)  Turns out that the ship has changed course and is headed away from the nebula. Janeway asks Paris what’s going on and he has no idea–he didn’t input the new course. She asks Kim to check the navigational computer and asks who changed the course.  Kim says that the command to change course was issued from the Conn–Paris’ station. Paris vehemently denies doing it and says that there’s no malfunction of the helm. Janeway orders helm control transferred to Kim’s Operations Console and to resume course for the dark matter nebula.

Torres sets up Chakotay’s medicine wheel in Sick Bay in an effort to perform a healing ritual that she learned from him. She explains it’s significance to The Doctor and how she thinks it may be the only way for Chakotay to find his way home. (Yes, this coming from the woman who once attempted to kill her animal guide.) The Doctor actually corrects Torres’ placement of the stones because he’s got that as part of his programming. (Seriously? He’s got that but he didn’t have Beowulf?!) The Doctor also points out that it probably won’t be much help because there’s not enough left of his mind to work with.

Kes’ reading is her quarters when she senses something. She wanders around trying to get a better sense of it and asks if anyone is there. Something is definitely there with her and she can’t see it. We jump to the Mess Hall where Neelix is whipping up something that undoubtedly involves Leola Root. Kes is explaining the presence she felt as if someone were in the room with her. Neelix asks her if it’s like she sensed it telepathically and she says that it’s different–more tangible.

Meanwhile, back on the Bridge, the ship is randomly changing course away from the nebula again. They’re headed somewhere else and now Ensign Kim is locked out of the controls.

This time, the course change and lockout were initiated from Navigational Control on deck 12…where Tom Paris just was. Paris denies being there, but Torres saw him with her own eyes. Janeway wants an explanation and Paris doesn’t have one to give. She theorizes that maybe there’s a problem with his memory and orders him to Sick Bay for evaluation. The Doctor examines Paris and finds nothing out of the ordinary. Paris thinks that lets him off the hook, but Tuvok says not so fast–he found traces of Paris’ DNA on the console in Navigational Control. His cellular residue was less than 12 hours old. Paris still has no recollection and the Doctor suggests he could run a bio-molecular scan and Tuvok asks to be kept informed.

The Voyager is back at the dark matter nebula and Tuvok thinks he might have discovered the ion trail of the ship that attacked he and Chakotay. The trail leads directly into the nebula, but the flight path seems erratic. The planetoids in the nebula may be creating gravitational currents and Tuvok suggests that they might want to follow the exact flight path of the mystery ship. Just then, the ship drops to impulse power and Kim is reading massive energy drain all over the ship and the warp core is shutting down.

Janeway and Tuvok go to Engineering to ask what’s going on and Torres has no idea. The warp core is shut down, the main computer is offline and Torres has no idea why. (There seems to be a trend here.) The Doctor examines her, too, and has found something–Torres and Paris’ memory engrams are identical at the times of the various disruptions–something that shouldn’t be possible since memory engrams are a bit like fingerprints. The Doctor thinks another brain wave was superimposed on their own at the times of disruption. The Doctor theorizes that an unknown alien could have controlled both Paris and Torres and caused them to act.  Whatever it is, it doesn’t want them going back to that nebula.

Since the entity can apparently jump from person to person with no warning, Janeway orders transfer of the command codes to The Doctor. Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres head to Engineering to try to bring the warp core back online when Kes runs up to them. She tells them she’s been sensing a presence all day and doesn’t know how to describe it.  We can see the presence floating through the hallway through its own point of view. Tuvok points out that Kes’ telepathic abilities are “undisciplined,” and that perhaps he can learn more from a mind meld with her (YES!). Janeway agrees and tells Tuvok to proceed.  He and Kes break off from them and head for the turbolift. Turns out they don’t get much further than that since Kim discovers them there, unconscious, and Kes has some kind of odd bruise on her neck below her right ear.

Tuvok and Kes were apparently hit by some kind of unidentified energy discharge that came through the bulkhead. Tuvok was not badly hurt, but Kes is in a coma. (This seems to be a trend.)  Internal sensors didn’t pick up any kind of energy discharge at all, but it had to come from somewhere on board the ship.  Paris suggests they could search the ship with a magneton scanner, but that would likely prove fruitless since the alien can move so quickly. Torres suggests a magneton flash-scan so the ship could be scanned all at once. They ask Harry what he thinks and our favorite Ensign is deep in thought—or is he? Tuvok stands up and draws his phaser and Torres scans him with a tricorder.  Harry snaps out of it and says he was recalling a study he read on magneton scannes and his mind wandered off.  Janeway is concerned that alien paranoia could get the better of the crew any time someone is distracted. She orders Tuvok and Torres to get started on the flash-scan.

Back in Sick Bay, Neelix is telling The Doctor of what seems like every possible instance of crew members acting oddly. In fact, it seems like Neelix is gossiping by way of paranoia–the very thing that Captain Janeway had hoped to avoid. The Doctor warns him that this paranoia isn’t helping his already emotional state given Kes’ injuries.  The EMH successfully talks Neelix down from the ledge and he leaves Sick Bay.

Tuvok enters as Neelix leaves and tells the Doctor he is reconfiguring the sensor relays in Sick Bay. The Doctor questions as to whether he really has to do it now because he’s in the middle of treating Kes and Tuvok tells him that’s “Captain’s orders.” Tuvok asks how Kes is, and The Doctor tells him that she has no permanent damage and that her injuries are very different from Chakotay’s–her bio-neural energy is still intact. He is curious about the bruises on her neck and shoulder, though. They don’t seem consistent with the energy discharge. In fact, they look like wounds sustained during a physical struggle of some sort. Tuvok doesn’t recall a struggle.

The Doctor also mentions that the wound looks like an extreme trauma to the trapezius nerve bundle–like the nerve had been ruptured. (Hmmmm…the nerves in her neck and shoulder…)

Tuvok reports to Janeway’s Ready Room. He and Torres will be ready to start the magneton scan in two hours’ time. Because of it’s intensity, it can cause dizziness and disorientation for several seconds. Janeway directs him to make a ship-wide announcement before starting the scan.

Tuvok also tells her there’s another matter of concern–Kes’ injuries.  They weren’t caused by the energy discharge and Tuvok tells her that Kes was physically assaulted.  Janeway observes that Tuvok wasn’t assaulted at all, to which Tuvok agrees. Janeway asks him if it’s possible that he–Tuvok–inflicted Kes’ wounds (presumably through the infamous Vulcan nerve pinch which he has yet to perform on camera in this show) and probably while he was inhabited by the alien. Tuvok admits that it is possible and suggests that The Doctor could run a neurological scan to see if he had the same overlay of brain patterns that Torres and Paris did. Janeway agrees.

She attempts to raise The Doctor over the comm, but he doesn’t respond. She tells the computer to activate the EMH and the computer cannot comply because the EMH’s program has been disabled–and there’s no record of who disabled it. Janeway attempts to unlock the program and she can’t—it’s been encrypted and Tuvok deduces that it’s been done by someone above Deck 4. Janeway wonders why someone would deactivate The Doctor and Tuvok reminds her that The Doctor is holding the command codes to the ship. Once he was deactivated, those codes reverted back to…Captain Janeway. It would make sense that if the EMH couldn’t be possessed by the alien, then it would try to force the command codes back to a human it could take over.

That means it’s too dangerous for one person to have the command codes and Janeway suggests to Tuvok that they should divide the codes between them. Janeway says they’ll have to tell the Bridge Crew the plan (Why?? She’s the Captain, for cryin’ out loud!!) and act as checks and balances for each other. They head for the Bridge and we can see the alien from its own point of view moving through the Bridge.

She goes to the Bridge and tells the crew that The Doctor has been disabled–presumably by the alien’s influence–and they can’t get him back online. She states she’s decided to divide the command protocols…and then stops mid-sentence and focuses on Tuvok. Tuvok turns around and Janeway hauls off and strikes him, sending him to the floor.  Tuvok draws his phaser and Janeway kicks it out of his hand. Tuvok asks for someone to stun her because she’s the alien, and Paris draws his phaser and fires at her. Janeway drops to the floor, unconscious.

The alien leaves her and moves across the Bridge and inhabits Harry Kim (!) who draws a phaser and Paris backhands him in the face. The alien then jumps to Lt. Durst who draws a phaser and fires at Tuvok, missing him. Tuvok fires his phaser on a wide beam dispersal and stuns everyone in front of him.

Janeway is in Sick Bay being tended to by Tom Paris who gives her a hypospray. She asks Harry if he’s had any luck getting The Doctor back online, and he hasn’t. He’ll have to try and break through at least six levels of encryption to reactivate his program. He estimates two or three hours before The Doctor could be activated. Torres interrupts over the comm and requests the Captain’s presence in Engineering telling her there’s something she should see.

Torres tells Janeway that she’s trying to piece together the sensor logs from the damaged shuttlecraft. She’s discovered that the sensor logs weren’t destroyed the the energy discharge–someone erased them and then overloaded the sensor matrix to make it look like they’d been damaged in the attack. That’s not all: there was enough information left in the logs for her to figure out what happened during the attack. The shuttle was near the dark matter nebula and it did encounter an energy discharge–but there wasn’t another ship. It looks like the energy discharge came from the nebula itself. Janeway wonders why Tuvok would lie and Torres says that he was probably under the control of the alien.

Kim interrupts over the comm to tell Janeway that the ship is approaching the dark matter nebula. Janeway asks Torres how long before the magneton flash-scan is ready to go, and she says that it will be 15 or 20 minutes. She instructs Torres to transfer control of the scan to the Bridge when she’s ready. Janeway heads for the Bridge to get a closer look at the Mutara dark matter nebula.

Janeway asks Tuvok if he can locate the ion trail of the ship that attacked the shuttlecraft, and he believes he can. He sends the coordinates over to Kim and tells the Captain the shields are at maximum. Just then Paris rushes in and tells the Captain that he’s completed the scan that The Doctor was running on Kes. If he reads the data correctly, he believes that her injuries were the result of a Vulcan nerve pinch. Janeway and Paris look at Tuvok who has no recollection of doing such a thing. He suspects that he was inhabited by the alien at the time–and Janeway wonders why it keeps attacking him.

Tuvok tells her that she’s being paranoid. She says it’s not her paranoia that’s keeping her from seeing the ion trail Tuvok is following and she requests the bandwidth he’s working on. He sends it to her, and she sees it–but she observes that there’s no subspace distortions in the wake of the ion trail he’s sent over.  According to those readings, it’s a ship without engines. Tuvok is lying–there is no alien ship and there never was.  She tells him they’re not going inside that nebula until she gets some answers. She orders Kim to reverse course and Tuvok draws his phaser.

Tuvok claims that’s what the alien has been trying to do–keep the ship from entering the nebula and he claims the Captain is under the influence of the alien. What’s more, he says he’s relieving her of command and orders Kim to change course back for the nebula. Janeway tells Kim not to obey Tuvok’s order and he refuses. Tuvok tells Janeway that his phaser is on wide beam dispersal again, but this time it’s set to kill. He directs the Bridge crew to gather on the other side of the Bridge and moves for Kim’s console. Durst tells Janeway that the ship is entering the nebula. (Thanks, Lieutenant Obvious.)

Harry is picking up highly coherent energy pulses in the nebula and they’ve got a bio-matrix. Lifeforms…and they’re heading for the Voyager. Janeway asks Tuvok if the lifeforms in the nebula are his people and he says that he is part of the Komar and the nebula is their domain. We then see the alien making it’s way through Engineering. It circles the long way round before it takes control of Torres. She moves to the center console and ejects the warp core. This doesn’t make the alien inhabiting Tuvok very happy at all.

Torres hails the Bridge and tells the Captain she thinks she was just inhabited by the alien who had her eject the warp core.  (Can’t put nuthin’ by Torres, can you?) Paris doesn’t get it–how could B’Elanna be inhabited by the alien if Tuvok is inhabited by the alien already. Harry says he doesn’t know–unless there are two aliens. (Can’t put nuthin’ past these two, either, huh?)  Janeway tells them that Torres isn’t authorized to eject the warp core on her own–it requires a command code authorization. Janeway asks the computer who authorized the ejection of the core.

Commander Chakotay.  (Sure…now he leaves his calling card?!)

The presence that’s been trying to keep the ship out of the nebula is Chakotay. His bio-neural energy was displaced and he’s been moving person to person to thwart the Komar. Tuvok engages the thrusters to get closer to the nebula. He’s trying to get the crew closer to the nebula to extract their bio-neural energy. It will sustain the Komar for years to come. Janeway offers to help them find a new form of energy. The beings start to bombard the ship. Janeway makes a move and dives for her console to start the magneton flash-scan and the crew is disoriented. Paris disarms Tuvok who his still disoriented and the Komar entity leaves his body and escapes through the bulkhead.

Janeway says the magneton scan identified the alien as a trianic-based energy being before it left the ship. The Komar continue to attack the ship and the electromagnetic radiation is blinding the sensors so they can’t find a way out of the nebula. Janeway orders the ship to come about and reverse course. Harry’s not so sure that’ll work since Tuvok was navigating a fairly complicated course and they could go deeper in the nebula. Janeway suggests that Harry could reconstruct the course from Tuvok’s navigational logs.

The disembodied Chakotay is moving through Sick Bay and inhabits Neelix and he goes to the medicine wheel and reorganizes the stones. Harry says that Tuvok deleted the navigational logs as he went along so he can’t piece together the course. Neelix contacts the Bridge and tells Janeway he was just taken over and done something odd by rearranging the stones on the wheel. Janeway takes that as a clue and has Harry activate Sick Bay Visual Relay 16 (?) and pipe it to the view screen. She’s not sure what it is, but Paris thinks it could be a map.  Janeway orders the computer to overlay a star map of the nebula. Chakotay is showing them a way out. Janeway orders Harry to plot a course close to those planetoids to find a way out.

Shields are failing and the Komar are starting to penetrate the hull. They’re close to normal space and almost out of the nebula. Janeway orders all power, including life support, to the thrusters and they power their way out of the nebula. The aliens have ceased their pursuit of the Voyager.

The Voyager has returned to the coordinates where they ejected the warp core and they’ve retrieved it. The Doctor has been able to reintegrate Chakotay’s consciousness to his body.  (Hello, Reset Button!) Chakotay wakes up and he’s a little rough around the edges. Janeway asks what happened in the shuttle.  He says he felt the sensation of floating over his own body but he couldn’t see or touch anything.  He thought he had died. He realized he could share the consciousness of another person if he concentrated on them and that was how he could inhabit others.

Chakotay apologizes to Tuvok for roughing him up a bit. Janeway welcomes the First Officer back, but says it’s like he never really left as the episode draws to a close.


  • The concept of the episode–at least, in theory.


  • Janeway’s holo-novel was an idea that I don’t think was all that interesting. At least, not that setting. The average Star Trek viewer doesn’t really care about Jane Eyre ripoffs and it’s just not engaging in five minute bites.
  • Robert Beltran has zero to do in this episode but lie there and pretend to be brain dead.
  • The Medicine Bundle (which Chakotay had never shown anyone…other than B’Elanna…and Janeway…) is used by Torres to help Chakotay. It’s interesting that the character that tried to kill her spirit guide is so well-versed in Native American healing rituals.
  • 13 episodes in and I really want to put Neelix in an airlock and de-pressurize it. (The character, not the actor.)
  • Torres needs a command code authorization to eject the warp core?  Really?  Geordi LaForge never needed that on the Enterprise.
  • So, the bio-neural energy of the crew is wanted by the aliens in the dark matter nebula. Isn’t the circuitry of the ship also bio-neural?  Why can’t they just grab that energy?
  • RESET BUTTON: the Warp Core is back and Chakotay’s consciousness is back in his body. It’s magic, I tell you. MAGIC.
  • Tuvok’s changing rank pips. His rank as displayed on his uniform hasn’t been right all season, but they finally straighten it out in this episode after a few changes back and forth.


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


I think Tuvok performs more mind melds than all of the Vulcans in the history of the Federation. For something that is supposed to be rare–and potentially dangerous–Tuvok breaks that bad boy out every chance he gets.

He had one already in the episode “Ex Post Facto.” He suggests one in this episode and it never happens thanks to out-of-body Chakotay. (Respect the Meld, Tattooed Man. Respect the Meld.)

This initial appearance of the Mind Games counter is dedicated to my friend, Isis, who suggested that I keep track.

EpisodeMeldee# of Times
S1E08 – Ex Post FactoTom Paris1
S1E13 – CathexisKes0*
* Meld suggested & interrupted by a non-corporeal Chakotay


There are no additions to the Harry Kim Tracker this episode.

Harry Kim’s Condition#Episode(s)
Abducted by Alien Race1Caretaker
Mysterious illness1Parallax
   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

Harry is possessed by Chakotay’s disembodied bio-neural energy for the briefest of moments in this episode, but it’s hardly worth charting.


This episode could have been so much more and it was muddled and confused and really lacked cohesion. It’s like a series of small scenes with nothing to bind it and it’s way more complex than it truly needs to be. It’s a tough episode to follow and, honestly, it was even tough to recap for this blog without getting confused at times.

The best part of the episode is when the “alien” is jumping from person to person on the Bridge crew.  If they’d made more of those first-person moments (rather than them happening off-screen) and altered the story a bit, I think it could have been a tighter episode.

“Cathexis” gets 2 Deltas out of a possible 5 for being aimless wandering—kind of like Chakotay’s bio-neural energy!









(If you are unable to see the video player for the embedded episode above from Hulu.com, please click here.)


B’Elanna Torres is of two minds…and bodies…as the Vidiians return in “Faces.”