Delta Redux: A Voyager Rewatch: Phage

By Last Updated: June 17, 2015Views: 2738

This week’s adventure in the Delta Quadrant brings us a mixed bag of an episode. Phage has some really strong moments and some really week ones as well. Thankfully the high points outnumber the low…for the most part.

On the surface the episode is about an alien race (the Vidiians) afflicted with a disease (the Phage) that destroys the body forcing them to “harvest” organs from other species to stay alive. On an away mission the Vidiians steal the lungs from Neelix via a modified transporter beam and leave him, after some fancy holographic finagling by the Doctor, restrained in a life support apparatus seemingly for the rest of his life.

Now the Vidiians and their disease and the manner in which they go about trying to solve it is a gruesome premise to be sure, but it is not actually explored in depth. In fact we don’t meet the Vidiians till midway through the episode and that is only to give some back-story, allow Janeway to give a captain speech and provide a neat, clean resolution and bring the series back to status quo again.

And to be fair the Vidiians are really just a vehicle for some character moments which is really what this episode is about. It is the interaction of certain characters and how each one deals with a desperate situation that this episode wants to accomplish. As for how well they pulled that off…well, its a mixed bag as I said.

“Well, mm… if I’m gonna be in here a while, now is as good a time as any to tell you. Your ceiling is hideous!” – Neelix

Neelix is front and center as you’d imagine and his character gets to move forward and backward simultaneously. An impressive and annoying feat to accomplish. In the beginning of the episode we find him converting the captain’s private dining room into a kitchen (we will leave aside the bizarre notion that the captain needs a private dining room stranded 70 years from home). This scene is played for laughs but just comes off a bit awkward. Janeway comes off uncharacteristically ineffectual and Neelix is just a bit dim.

But later when Neelix joins the away mission to find dilithum crystals he actually shines. He seems confident and prepared and competent and gives a strong reason for having him on the ship in the first place. Later still when Neelix is incapacitated we get to see a fragile and tender side to him. He is afraid to be alone and wonders if he even wants to continue living. This is well done and actually quite moving.

Contrast that with the sudden jealousy tirade he goes off on. Seemingly out of nowhere Neelix bursts into a rage and questions Kes’ loyalty when Paris simply tells her, “You’ll know where I’ll be if you need me.” This he interprets as infidelity completely disregarding the fact that Paris is a medical assistant and is just letting everyone know he’s available for assisting medically. I found this completely unnecessary and only accomplished making Neelix look like a) a moron and b) and unsympathetic ass.

Thankfully we also get some stand out moments with the Doctor and Kes highlighting their burgeoning friendship. These two continue to be the most interesting characters on the show. They have nuance, they have personality and most of all they have chemistry. Honestly Neelix should get upset about these two not Paris. These scene where Kes talks the Doctor through a crisis of confidence and helps him realize he is more than just programming is extremely well done. It makes the rest of the crew’s interactions seem bland and lifeless. And at this point they kinda are. The Doctor and Kes continue to make this show worth watching.

In the end Chakotay gets to have a hero moment coming up with a (scientifically accurate it should be noted) solution to the reflective cave thingy. And Janeway gets to be all self-righteous like she likes to do. And Kes gets to make the personal sacrifice to save Neelix further making his jealousy outburst seem more asinine. And all of these things play just fine and by the numbers.

So yeah, mixed bag. Some real high points and some lows. Not great episode but certainly not bad.

Next Time On Star Trek Voyager

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