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The Trek Nation - Body and Soul

Body and Soul

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 11:17 PM GMT

See Also: 'Nightingale' Episode Guide

Aliens board the Delta Flyer, accusing the crew of developing biogenic weapons and harboring a photonic being. While Harry Kim tries to explain their mission examining comets, Seven of Nine hides the Doctor's program in the only truly safe place: inside her cybernetic implants. The aliens tractor the shuttle and throw Seven and Kim into their brig, confiscating the Doctor's mobile emitter without questioning Seven's claim that it's a portable regenerator. Imprisoned, Kim frets over their inability to contact Voyager or recover the Doctor, but Seven smirks and says that reports of his decompilation have been greatly exaggerated.

The Doctor is in control of Seven's body and feels great, even though he now can smell Harry Kim's perspiration. Prison rations taste wonderful to him. When the aliens take Seven to the Flyer to make her explain how its equipment works, she replicates a piece of cheesecake for Captain Ranek...and another for herself. She and the alien leader end up having a dinner date and exchanging their life stories. When Seven gets drunk, she says her speech is slurred because she desperately needs to regenerate, so Ranek returns the holo-emitter.

Meanwhile on Voyager, Paris examines Tuvok and guesses that the Vulcan's alleged flu is actually the sort of chemical imbalance that comes around once every seven years. Tuvok says that the Doctor developed a treatment that, combined with meditation, should allow him to pass through pon farr with minimal suffering. Since Tuvok does not wish the captain to know of his condition, Paris promises to claim it's the flu. But the treatment fails, so Paris offers to help Tuvok create a holographic recreation of his wife. Tuvok finds the idea distasteful, but agrees to try it.

When Kim helps Seven remove the Doctor from her implants, she has a hangover and rages at him for abusing her body. The Doctor insists he was just trying to help, and hides within Seven once more when the ex-Borg goes to help out in the medical bay. There she meets Jaryn -- a woman raised by a photonic who betrayed her family to join the insurrection. The Doctor devises a treatment for a biogenic disease created by the photonics that has decimated the alien crew. Within Seven's body, he is drawn to Jaryn, but realizes she has a crush on her captain.

Voyager is attacked by aliens who find photonic readings emanating from the ship. Janeway disables the aliens, but in the interests of peace, she tells Chakotay to shut down the holodecks before Tuvok can consummate his bond with the hologram of his wife. Meanwhile Ranek invites Seven to the bridge of his ship and makes a pass at her, failing to comprehend her repulsion. "This kind of behavior would get a Starfleet captain assigned to a garbage scow," she rages to Jaryn, who offers to give her a massage.

In the brig afterwards, Seven rages that the Doctor became sexually aroused in her body, but the Doctor insists that it's no crime to enjoy sensation, and she should try it more often. Because they need to get a message to Voyager, Seven reluctantly agrees to let the Doctor flirt with Ranek in her body. Seven meets the alien captain on the Delta Flyer, where she takes her hair down, teaches Ranek to waltz, and injects him with a sedative so that she can hail Voyager. Janeway is confused about how the Doctor got into Seven's body, but accepts the alien command codes and promises to come free them.

Jaryn revives Ranek and learns that Seven betrayed him. She says that because she is still a prisoner, she wished to escape. Ranek refuses to free the Voyager crewmembers, but Janeway uses his own codes to lower his shields. When the alien leader tries to prevent the maneuver, Seven uses the emitter to release the Doctor, who holds the crew hostage so she can lower the shields manually. The captain is injured when he tries to interfere and the Doctor refuses to beam away until he can treat Ranek. Jaryn accepts his apology for not telling her the truth about their discussions while he was in Seven's body.

While Paris ascertains that Tuvok has finally gotten through his pon farr with a holographic substitute for his wife, Seven visits the Doctor in sickbay with champagne and foie gras. She says she will describe the taste and sensations of the meal to him, so he can enjoy it vicariously. "To shared experiences," she toasts.

Analysis:

Even though it's not really a Seven of Nine episode, "Body and Soul" features the one Jeri Ryan performance I'll never forget. What a marvelous mimic she is! I've seen Robert Beltran do Janeway at conventions, I've seen Garrett Wang to Robbie McNeill, I've seen Bob Picardo do almost everyone, but none of them have mastered the nuances of the other characters with the flair and wit Ryan demonstrates in this episode. It's an extraordinary job, to take over the role of a character with facial expressions and mannerisms that constantly expose his dry wit, yet she's absolutely convincing as the Doctor. It really looks like he's pulling her strings. I'm just sorry she didn't get a breakthrough episode like this earlier in the series.

This is a story that had to be told with these two characters, and although they already get the best scripts and the most screen time, it's impossible to resent it. The vivacity and risk-taking of both Picardo and Ryan are sublime. Voyager seems so painfully drab in comparison. I'm glad Tuvok's pon farr wasn't blown up into a big shipwide crisis, it had to be addressed during this seventh season, but pity -- the man enters the most passionate period in a Vulcan's life, makes a face at the idea of making love to a false image of his wife, decides to do it anyway, and presto, he's cured. Too bad the production staff doesn't read slash, where Paris often helps Tuvok through pon farr in far more creative ways.

Clearly someone does know about all that fanfic in which Doc gets inside Seven, though this isn't exactly what most of them have in mind. I thought I might be bothered by the ongoing disdain the Doctor feels for Seven's personal choices, coupled with his romantic desire to remake her in his own image, but the writing is clever and restrained -- not as hilarious as the Farscape episode where John Crichton's mind entered Aeryn Sun's body and ran off to play with her breasts, but a major improvement on "Turnabout Intruder," the best-known Trek episode where a man was trapped in a woman's body.

There's no Tootsie syndrome, no sense that the Doctor believes he makes a better woman than Seven; what he believes is that he makes a better human being than Seven, whom he says would make a fine hologram, which is no compliment. The scene in which Seven (with the Doc speaking for her) calls the Doctor rather than Janeway her mentor gets played for laughs, but it makes one stop and think: if someone other than the ascetic, command-obsessed Janeway were Seven's role model, would she be a happier, more open person? The Doctor blames her Borg background for her repression, but there's certainly a case to be made that Seven has unfortunately modeled herself on the person least in touch with her own capacity to laugh, smell the roses, enjoy her own physicality.

I howled when Seven announced that Ranek's advances -- after some dialogue which he might honestly have taken as flirting -- would have gotten him assigned to a garbage scow if he were in Starfleet. That sounds like Janeway talking; it's sure not Kirk. Too bad for the Doc that he's so rigidly heterosexual, or he could have had quite a bit of fun with both Ranek and Jaryn, if only he could have talked Seven into it. Jaryn assumes Seven's secret is shame over her Borg past, which doesn't seem to bother these aliens. It's too bad we never learn the details of the photonic insurrection; it's probably too similar to the plot of the holographic rebellion in the upcoming "Flesh and Blood," but it's a definite omission in this episode.

Maybe the holograms were sick of being used for sex. Despite the Doctor's evident functionality on an emotional as well as physical level, I can't get past flinching at how readily everyone on Voyager creates holograms to satisfy their lusts, even the captain; it's interesting that Paris says he doesn't do that anymore, now that he's married. Why not? If a hologram is mere projection, why would fooling around with one count as cheating any more than masturbation? Maybe Tuvok's sexual yet lonely state was supposed to provide a contrast with Seven and the Doc's physical yet chaste bonding, but I hoped the battle with the aliens would get him over his pon farr. That would have been much more satisfying.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.