(written from a Production point of view)
|VOY, Episode 2x03|
Production number: 117
First aired: 11 September 1995
|←||16th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||18th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||374th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
The Doctor is informed that he is actually Lewis Zimmerman, the creator of the EMH, he is trapped on a holographic Voyager on Jupiter Station, and his whole Voyager experience was on a holodeck.
The Doctor materializes in an empty sickbay, but finds no one present. Unable to contact anyone, he asks the computer who is in command and learns that no one is aboard. Replaying the last bridge log, he discovers that the ship has been attacked causing sufficient damage to force the crew to abandon ship.
The Doctor makes a log entry and prepares to deactivate himself when suddenly Torres enters sickbay, explaining that the ship had been attacked by two Kazon warships. She and Captain Janeway had remained behind to attempt to prevent a warp core breach, which they did. The crew's life pods have been tractored by the Kazon, and Janeway is injured on the bridge. The Doctor attempts to discern her injuries, only to find the medical tricorders aren't registering her life signs. Torres informs The Doctor that holo-projectors have been installed on other parts of the ship including the bridge so that The Doctor can enter them. By diverting power from life support systems to activate the holo-projectors, Torres is able to send The Doctor to the badly damaged bridge and revive Janeway.
Janeway and Torres coordinate their efforts to repair the ship, while The Doctor prepares to assist the captain with bypassing a power relay. Then a call for help is received from Neelix, and The Doctor is transferred to the mess hall where Neelix has cornered a Kazon. After helping Neelix subdue him, The Doctor finds something that surprises him... he's bleeding and able to feel pain from the wound. Having his program transferred back to sickbay he runs a medical tricorder over himself and finds that his body is projecting life signs. He attempts to run a diagnostic on his program, only for the computer to deny that the program exists and instead lists Lewis Zimmerman as the ship's chief medical officer. The Doctor recognizes the name as the man who created his program and resembles him, but knows that Zimmerman is on Jupiter Station in the Alpha Quadrant. Checking Zimmerman's service record, he finds that he looks exactly him and the computer confirms it... The Doctor is Zimmerman. Janeway, Torres, Neelix, and the Kazon arrive in sickbay and Janeway prepares to question the Kazon, but The Doctor explains what's happening with his program apparently being real. Janeway theorizes that the holoemitters are confusing the computer and tries to shut his program down, and nothing happens. Janeway then has the computer shut down all holograms throughout the ship... upon which Janeway, Torres, Neelix, and the Kazon vanish.
The Doctor is now very confused, and asks the computer what happened to the crew, to which it confirms that their programs were shut off before showing a memory block with holograms of the entire crew. Reginald Barclay appears and informs The Doctor he is actually Lewis Zimmerman, currently working on Jupiter Station, and trapped in a malfunctioning holoprogram. The Doctor is told that Zimmerman created a USS Voyager program to study the long-term effects of deep space isolation. He programmed only two possible endings to the program: success or destruction. Barclay tries to convince The Doctor that he is Zimmerman and being in the holodeck is killing him. He needs to end the program so he can survive. The Doctor, faced with the decision of destroying Voyager, endeavors to get proof of Barclay's claim.
The Doctor finds himself back at the moment when Voyager finds itself in the Delta Quadrant; Barclay explains that they cannot stop the program, only reset it. The Doctor deletes the Paris and Kim holograms. After The Doctor questions Barclay, the man responds that indeed, he had programmed Paris to be annoying, like Barclay's cousin, Frank. The Doctor concludes that he must destroy the main holographic matrix. That will stop all holographic programs and prove once and for all that The Doctor is not a hologram, and is indeed Zimmerman.
The Doctor arrives in main engineering to find Captain Janeway. She promptly asks how he is in engineering and who Barclay is. The Doctor tries to delete Janeway but it doesn't work. Barclay explains that the protocols are freezing up and no longer working, including the safety protocols. Faced with an angry Janeway and armed security officers, The Doctor attempts to explain himself then tells Janeway they are about to be transported to the Caretaker's array. The crew begins to get transported to the Array and Janeway looks at The Doctor wide-eyed.
With the crew gone, The Doctor destroys the holomatrix and is surprised to find he is still there. He promptly asks the computer if any holographic programs are running and the computer replies that none are. Barclay tells The Doctor that ending the holographic programs on a ship that is itself a holographic program is futile; he has to destroy the warp core (necessary for the destruction of the ship, and therefore the program ending) and hands him a phaser.
As The Doctor is preparing to fire at the warp core, Chakotay appears and tells The Doctor to stop. The commander explains that The Doctor is on the holodeck on Voyager and had taken a day off at the suggestion of Captain Janeway. They passed through a radiation field and it disrupted the holodeck, trapping him there. The pain he is feeling is his memory circuits being destroyed. Chakotay urges The Doctor to wait because they almost have the problem fixed.
The Doctor falls to the ground in pain and a Human Kes appears, telling him that she is being projected from the Jupiter Station and saying how much she loves him and doesn't want her "husband" to die. Chakotay states that every person is a result of memories colliding. When Kes kisses him, The Doctor begins: "Kes, I always wanted to say..."Suddenly, The Doctor finds himself in sickbay and completes his sentence: "...that you are beautiful", very embarrassed as the Ocampa Kes is standing over him and heard everything he said. Kim and Tuvok explain that they had retrieved him from the holodeck, then exit the room. The Doctor goes to continue the catalog he started that morning. Kes starts questioning him on what he said and asks him if he meant it. With The Doctor making polite excuses, assuring that he finds her merely beautiful in a platonic way, Kes presumes that he doesn't love her anymore and their "marriage" is over, calling him "Lewis". Thoroughly confused, The Doctor's consciousness wavers. He turns and sees Barclay who claims that he can still destroy the warp core to save himself. A hand is placed on his shoulder The Doctor sees Paris on his first day in the Delta Quadrant. Paris yells that a crewmember needs help and brings The Doctor to a biobed where Dr. Zimmerman himself lies, injured. Zimmerman begins speaking in Janeway's voice.
The real Doctor suddenly finds himself in the holodeck grid. Captain Janeway is there and asks him if he knows who he is, and where he is. Though a little unsure of his true identity during the holodeck problem, he answers both decisively. To be sure that he is truly back, he asks Captain Janeway whether Kes is not his wife. When the captain's reaction is mere surprise, it is obvious that he is truly back. He is transferred back to sickbay.
The Doctor tells Kes of his adventures, keeping in mind that Kes is his assistant, not wife. Kes laughs and warns The Doctor not to tell Neelix, as he might get jealous. "It will be our secret!" she cautions. The Doctor puzzles over why his program created an elaborate delusion rather than detecting the radiation's threat. Kes says everyone asks themselves existential questions at some time, but The Doctor is entirely confident as to his own nature and purpose. He is Voyager's EMH. Kes playfully asks him if he's sure about that, prompting The Doctor to pass his hand through the open sickbay doors. It can't be projected outside, providing him with the confirmation he needs.
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- (log entry made by Captain Kathryn Janeway)
- ...heavy casualties. The warp core is going critical and the ejection system is off-line. I've ordered all personnel to abandon ship. Lieutenant Torres and I are...
- Chief Medical Officer's log, stardate 48892.1. It appears that Voyager has suffered a disaster. What kind I don't know, but one thing is clear - the crew was forced to abandon ship. It would therefore seem that my usefulness has come to an end. I am terminating my program. If anyone finds this log, I can be reactivated by...
"Did I program Mister Paris to be so annoying?"
"Actually, I programmed him. I modeled him after my cousin Frank."
"Computer, delete Paris."
- - The Doctor and Barclay
"Computer, delete Janeway."
- - The Doctor, annoyed by an holographic Janeway who is asking inconvenient questions.
"He looks a lot like me. In fact, he looks exactly like me. Computer, is this me?"
- - The Doctor and the Computer, upon seeing the personnel file for Lewis Zimmerman
- - Neelix
"You mean... the ship's empty?"
- - The Doctor inquiring to Voyager's computer on who is in command
"You're starting to think you're part of the program and that... that's not good!"
- - Barclay, to The Doctor
- - Barclay, visibly panicking
"It doesn't matter what you're made of, what matters is who you are. You are our friend and we want you back."
- - Commander Chakotay
"The array you discovered is controlled by an entity you will come to know as the Caretaker... or, Banjo-Man."
- - The Doctor
"No one gets the best of me in my kitchen!"
- - Neelix
"Well, I'm glad everyone bothered to say goodbye."
- - The Doctor
"Doctor, are you listening to me? That man needs HELP!"
- - Tom Paris, in The Doctor's delusion
"Well, it's bigger than I thought."
- - The Doctor, describing the bridge of the USS Voyager
"Barclay was part of the original engineering team that designed your program. He was in charge of testing your interpersonal skills."
- - Ensign Kim, to The Doctor
- Like "The 37's", this episode was written and produced for the first season of Star Trek: Voyager (following "Learning Curve" and preceding "Elogium"), but was held back for airing during the series' second season.
Story and script
- Making The Doctor unsure of his reality provided the genesis for this episode. Writer Brannon Braga recalled, "I just wanted to do a doctor show, and basically a one-liner just popped into my head one day: What if the doctor discovers that Voyager is a hologram and he is real? Then I got into the argument 'I think, therefore I am'; what does being real mean? I just thought it was an opportunity to do a real mind-bending kind of story." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Soon after having penned the episode, Braga noted, "The one-liner was, 'What if the Doctor started to realize that he was a real person, and Voyager was the holographic simulation?' It becomes a kind of creepy, philosophical quandary for the Doctor [....] It has been a while since I've done one of those reality-bending stories. The great challenge in this episode was to keep the audience wondering, 'My God, could this really be happening?' The fun is not in believing it, the fun is in considering all the different twists and turns along the way. As I always say, the tale is in the telling." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, p. 50)
- After coming up with this theme, Brannon Braga struck upon the idea of involving a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation in the story. Originally, however, this character was to have been Geordi La Forge. Braga recollected, "We came up with the idea of putting Geordi La Forge in there, but then I thought it would be much more fun to have Barclay [a recurring character from TNG] and the doctor." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- Analyzing the story shortly after having written it, Braga mused, "At one point, Barclay comes in and says, 'You're real; we're at the holo-programming center. I'm your assistant; you're having a mental breakdown; nothing here is real.' In essence, it becomes analogous to the stories written by the philosopher René Descartes, of the man plagued by an evil demon, out to prove that he doesn't exist, and in this case, the demon is Barclay. The story culminates in Descartes' famous quote, 'I think, therefore I am.'" (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, p. 50)
- The episode's final draft script was submitted on 30 March 1995. 
Cast and characters
- Ultimately, Brannon Braga was highly pleased with how this episode depicted the relationship between Barclay and The Doctor, remarking afterwards, "Those two were so good together they should have a spin-off series." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- Barclay actor Dwight Schultz was pleasantly surprised to be asked to appear in this episode. He commented of the installment, "'Projections' was an interesting use of Barclay. It wasn't really Barclay. It was some idea of Barclay. I will say it was nice to be brought back. I had no idea that they'd ever think of me for Star Trek: Voyager, so it was a lovely surprise." (Star Trek Monthly issue 30, p. 34)
- After working on this episode, director Jonathan Frakes noted that Robert Picardo, the performer of The Doctor, and Dwight Schultz "were brilliant together." (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #105; Star Trek Monthly issue 11) Concerning his relationship with Robert Picardo, Schultz recalled, "Meeting Bob Picardo was a pleasure. We knew a lot of the same people in New York City, spent a lot of time doing silly voices and cracked each other up on the set. We just reminisced about our pasts in New York City and talked about the theater, which is what stage-trained actors tend to do when they get together." (Star Trek Monthly issue 30, p. 34) For his part, Robert Picardo said of the episode, "It was great fun to work on, primarily because of Dwight Schultz and Jonathan Frakes." Picardo went on to enthuse how much he liked Dwight Schultz. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #10) Additionally, Picardo commented that this episode was "a wonderful shooting experience because it was a delight [to work with] Jonathan Frakes, and Dwight Schultz." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 95) Picardo also stated that, between him and Schultz, filming this episode was like having a party. (Delta Quadrant, p. 54)
- Robert Picardo also cited this episode as being one of the two finest outings for The Doctor in the first two seasons of Voyager, the other episode being "Heroes and Demons". (Star Trek Monthly issue 20) On a separate occasion, however, Picardo implied that he thought this episode had not been quite as good for his character as "Lifesigns" had been, going on to imply that it also had been less challenging (in certain ways). Nevertheless, Picardo still counted this episode as being one of the two best Doctor-oriented episodes from the second season. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, pp. 95 & 96)
- Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres, Neelix, and Tuvok appear only as holograms in this episode.
- After directing this episode, Jonathan Frakes said it had been "a real joy to do." (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #105; Star Trek Monthly issue 11)
- This episode is a bottle show. (Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 285)
Reception and aftermath
- Of all the episodes that were produced for Voyager's first season, this episode was Brannon Braga's favorite as well as the one he most enjoyed writing. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, p. 50; Star Trek Monthly issue 7) He commented, "I'm very proud of that one." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Braga also opined, "It's a really fun story." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #5, p. 50)
- Executive producer Michael Piller enjoyed how the episode questioned the Doctor's reality, enthusing, "This is a wonderful show [....] It's a fascinating episode." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 6.1 million homes, and a 10% share. Along with the later Season 2 installment "Persistence of Vision", this was the joint fourth most watched episode of Voyager's second season (on first airing), with the same Nielsen rating as "Persistence of Vision" but a slightly higher share percentage than that episode.  A contemporaneous fan poll, to which executive producer Jeri Taylor paid particular attention, ranked this installment as the third highest-rated episode of the second season. (Star Trek: Communicator issue #108, p. 18)
- Cinefantastique gave this installment 2 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 78)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 55) scored the episode 8 out of 10.
- This episode was one of a few that Paramount Pictures studio executives reviewed, when evaluating Jonathan Frakes' ability to handle the film Star Trek: First Contact. (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #112, p. 19) Having become friends with the director while working on this episode, Robert Picardo was able to arrange a cameo appearance in that film. (The Making of Star Trek: First Contact, p. 45)
- After appearing in this episode, Dwight Schultz considered returning to Star Trek: Voyager as the starship Voyager's holographic Barclay. Schultz remarked, "[Barclay]'s there in the USS Voyager's computer, so he could turn up again. Of course, I'd love to go back and do another episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 32, p. 54)
Continuity and miscellaneous trivia
- After his appearance in this episode, Barclay made a brief appearance in Star Trek: First Contact before featuring in five more episodes of Voyager – Season 6's "Pathfinder" and "Life Line", plus the seventh season episodes "Inside Man", "Author, Author" and series finale "Endgame". Owing to the fact that the character appears in this episode only as a hologram, his future appearances make no reference to this episode.
- As Tom Paris does once in the second episode of Voyager, "Parallax", Barclay here refers to Voyager using the definitive article "the" several times.
- Barclay is not the only connection this episode has to Star Trek: The Next Generation; Brannon Braga once remarked that the plot is a cross between the TNG episodes "The Measure Of A Man" and "Frame of Mind" (the latter of which is another episode he wrote). (Star Trek Monthly issue 7) In both this episode and "Frame of Mind", the main character (in that case, Commander Riker) must decide which of two realities is the correct one.
- The crew's data in The Doctor's fantasy/illusion is stored in memory block 47 alpha.
- The Doctor refers to the Caretaker as the "Banjo Man", which is how he is credited in the series pilot "Caretaker".
- This episode has the second shortest teaser of Voyager's second season, being slightly shorter than the teaser of "Maneuvers" but slightly longer than the teaser of "Non Sequitur", both of which are (like this episode's teaser) under a minute in duration.
Video and DVD releases
- CIC Video released the four season 1 "hold-over" episodes in their production order, as part of the first season release. This is the first episode in Volume 1.9, which continues with "Elogium". Volume 2.1 begins with "Initiations".
- As part of the VOY Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes/"Kes Zimmerman"
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor/Lewis Zimmerman
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Special guest star
autonomic response analysis; "Banjo Man"; brig; Caretaker; Caretaker's array; coronary bypass; crew manifest; Delta Quadrant; dilithium matrix; Emergency Medical Hologram; Federation; Frank (cousin); frying pan; headache; holodeck; Holo-Doc; holo-engineer; holomatrix; holographic emitter; holo-transference dementia syndrome; Jefferies tube; Jupiter Station; Jupiter Station Holoprogramming Center; Jarvis; Kaplan (Doctor); Kazon; kinoplasmic radiation; life pod; magnetic constrictor; Maquis; medkit; memory circuit; mess hall; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; neotrinate; Nondoran tomato paste; Ocampa; orderly; Parsons, Michael; plasma relay; plasma torpedo; power relay; Predator-class; pus hog; red alert; snake; subspace anomaly; tractor beam; tricorder; turbolift
Cabot, Zayra; Canamar, Valerie; Charnock, Ed; Chattaway, Jay; Chess, Joe; Chichester, John; Christenberry, Ian; Chronister, Richard; Codron, Art; Curry, Dan; D'Angelo, Dick; DeMeritt, Michael; Djanrelian, Jon; Dorton, Louise; Livingston, David; Lowry Johnson, Junie; Madalone, Dennis; Magdaleno, Jim; Mayer, Michael; McCarthy, Dennis; McKay, Shawn; McKnight, Scott; Mees, Jim; Patricia Miller; Moore, Ronald B.; Moore, Tom; Mossler, Helen; Nelson, Greg; Nemecek, Janet; Speckman, Gary; Sternbach, Rick; Stimson, Mark; Stipes, David; Stotler, Simon; Stradling, Michael; Surma, Ron; Taylor, Jeri; Thomas, Jamie; Thoms, Wil; Torres, B'Elanna
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