And here’s another mixed bag. There are some absolutely unmissable moments but they’re part of a non-compelling story. However, thanks to an interesting development of the character of Captain Janeway, I’m inclined towards a positive opinion on the episode. On the other hand, the part of the story that works best has the Doctor as the protagonist, and I will never tire of repeating that Robert Picardo elevates everything in which he’s given the chance to shine as the great actor that he is.
In The Swarm, the USS Voyager reaches the limits of space of a very hostile race that Neelix knows well: they’re aggressive and don’t tolerate the passage of any ship within their borders. The problem is that bypassing those same boundaries would lengthen the journey to the Alpha quadrant by fifteen months and Janeway doesn’t want to hear about it. Then, forgetting the principles of the Federation, she decides to pass through the alien territory in a stealthy way despite the protests of the good Tuvok. And, as usual, he’s right! But let’s forget this because this is the worst part of the episode, since we already know how it ends from the beginning. Worthy of note is only the change of attitude of the captain, now no longer willing to slavishly follow Starfleet rules, but ready to do anything to go home.
The best part of the episode centers on the Doctor, who at the beginning offers a brilliant singing performance in the holodeck with O soave fanciulla from La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini . Accompanying him, here’s an Italian Diva interpreted by a hilarious Carole Davis, who even speaks some Italian. Aside from the funny singing scene, the plot involving the Doctor is well written: it seems that the holographic program, not having been created for continuous use, has become overloaded with information and it’s ceasing to function properly. The Doctor know contains too much useless information such as singing skills and friendships with Kes and other crew members. Useless only from a medical point of view, naturally, as the hologram of Doctor Zimmerman informs us (he developed the emergency medical program and he’s interpreted by Picardo himself). Will our heroes be able to repair the program and avoid a reset that would cause the Doctor to lose all the memories accumulated since its activation at the beginning of the first season?
It’s a rhetorical question, I know, but despite the predictability of the resolution (which doesn’t go as smoothly as you might think), this part of the episode works really well. Of course, much credit goes to Picardo who plays two characters here: the holographic Doctor and the hologram of his creator. If you are confused I understand it! The dialogues brilliantly written by screenwriter Michael Sussman contribute to the success of the episode (it’s wonderful to hear I’m a diagnostic tool, not an engineer!). Ciao!
PS: The Delta Flyers shout out: Garrett Wong revealed that all of his suggestions to the writers for the character of Harry Kim were ignored. Instead, it seems that the Doctor being passionate about opera was an idea of Bob Picardo, who managed to bring it to the screen simply by insisting a lot. Wong is splendid in imitating Picardo calling the screenwriters every day and suggesting that the Doctor could sing opera!
Episodio precedente: The Chute
Episodio successivo: False Profits