I only have a short review for this one because it’s basically a pretty great episode: creative, fun and engaging. Also, the women characters don’t get much screen time until near the end, so there wasn’t a ton for me to analyze.
The episode is basically about The Doctor shifting between two different scenarios and trying to figure out which one is real. In the first scenario he materializes in Sickbay but finds everyone gone. He theorizes everyone has abandoned ship and is about to deactivate his program when he hears a knocking at the door. Slowly, someone forces their way in and it turns out to be Torres.
She says they’ve been attacked by the Kazon and everyone except her and Janeway abandoned ship. The Kazon tractored the escape pods and kidnapped the rest of the crew.
As he tries to treat her he notices his instruments don’t read her lifesigns. She brushes it off, saying the ship’s systems are malfunctioning.
She says they’ve developed new holo-emitters so he can now go to the Bridge and treat a wounded Janeway. While there they get a call for help from Neelix and The Doctor transfers to the Mess Hall, where he helps Neelix fight off a Kazon.
After the scuffle, The Doctor finds he’s bleeding. He freaks out, just a little.
Back in Sickbay the computer says Lewis Zimmerman – the man who created The Doctor’s program and looks just like him – is the Chief Medical Officer. Janeway and the rest of the survivors come in and he explains the situation but they try to convince him nothing’s wrong. He tells the ship to shut down all holograms and everyone but him disappears.
Enter Barclay, who tells The Doctor he is really Zimmerman, trapped in a malfunctioning holoprogram. He says everything that’s happened on Voyager has been part of this program and he needs to end the program by destroying Voyager in order to survive.
He goes to Engineering and is about to blow up the Warp Core with a phaser when Chakotay appears. Chakotay insists to him that he is The Doctor, not Zimmerman.
He says there was a feedback loop in a holonovel The Doctor was in and if he destroys Voyager/the program, the real Doctor’s program will be destroyed.
Even though fans can figure out this is the truth because otherwise Voyager wouldn’t exist as we know it, you still don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s pretty exciting.
I started to get a tiny bit disappointed in the next scene, where Kes appears and says The Doctor needs to trust Barclay. Barclay says Kes Zimmerman is his wife.
Kes: Believe in yourself. You’re not a program, you’re a real flesh and blood human being. And you’re my husband. I don’t want to lose you.
Barclay: Lewis, how would you rather think of yourself? As a real person with a real life, with a family that loves you? Or as some hologram that exists in a Sickbay on a starship lost in deep space.
I never really liked The Doctor’s romantic feelings for Kes. His role as her doctor and mentor makes the power dynamics super sketchy. But anywho, the Kes in this scenario leans down and kisses him and says, “Whatever happens, I just wanted you to know I love you.”
Chakotay tells him to hang on because they’re about to get his program back to reality and he whispers to Kes, “I always wanted to…”
Waking up in Sickbay, with Kes, Tuvok and Kim around him, he finishes, “tell you, Kes, that you’re beautiful.”
Kes says a somewhat surprised, “Thank you” and he realizes he’s put his foot in his mouth.
But it soon becomes clear it’s still not the real Kes. When he backtracks and says he considers her attractive but only in a platonic sense, Kes says if he doesn’t really love her, “That means our marriage is over.”
She starts pleading, slightly hysterically, again with “Lewis” to destroy the warp core.
A bad headache returns and more weird images come in that don’t make sense. Then he wakes up again in a holodeck for real this time, with Janeway standing there.
The Doctor: Well, I assume everything that’s happened took place here on the holodeck.
Chakotay: That’s right. We encountered a subspace anomaly and there was a radiation surge in the computer system.
The Doctor: And Kes is my assistant, not my wife?
Chakotay: Your wife?
The Doctor: Never mind. Captain, if it’s okay, I’d like to return to Sickbay now.
In Sickbay he tells Kes what happened but assures her his imagining their marriage was a meaningless delusion. She tells him she understands, but not to tell Neelix, because he gets jealous.
The Doctor asks her what it means that he contemplated the nature of his existence. She suggests that’s normal and questions whether he really knows who he is and what his purpose is. The show ends with him pondering.
Bechdel-Wallace Test: Pass. Quick conversation between Janeway and B’Elanna in initial scenes.