Someone To Watch Over MeBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 4:07 PM GMT
See Also: 'Someone to Watch Over Me' Episode Guide
While Neelix prepares bland food for arch-conservative Kati visitors, Torres catches Seven watching herself and Paris. The ex-Borg admits that she has been taking notes on their mating rituals, including the exact hours of their spats and make-up sessions. Torres demands to know how Seven could know when they last had intimate relations, to which Seven responds drily that everyone on Deck Nine, Section Twelve knows when Torres and Paris are having intimate relations. Torres is furious, a fact the Doc relates when he later examines Seven. Realizing that she was studying the couple to learn about human mating behavior, he suggests that she expand her research to dating.
Janeway and Tuvok beam down with the Kati leader, leaving Ambassador Tobin on the ship with Neelix who is in charge of making sure the strict Kati protocols are followed to the letter. Neelix is surprised when the Ambassador's first request is to try a spicy Bajoran dish, but the alien explains that he wishes to explore this foreign culture. The Ambassador notes that in his own culture, males and females do not work together, but he finds the idea refreshing. He skips prayers so that he can try a dessert, putting off a tour of the warp core to stay in the mess.
Meanwhile the Doctor gives Seven basic lessons on mating behavior, but when he shows her photos of egg and sperm cells, she says she already knows the mechanics of sex; it's the courtship rituals she doesn't understand. Doc takes her to Sandrine's, where they play out a terrible small talk script which leads Seven to remark that as a means of reproduction, assimilation has its virtues. Tom discovers the Doctor observing his pupil practicing with a hologram, and makes a wager: if the relatively inexperienced Doctor can educate Seven so that she'll have a real date at the reception for the Ambassador a few days hence, he'll work overtime in Sickbay.
Seven insists that her primary interest in a mate would be perfection, but the Doctor gets her to concede that an interest in astronomy or music would be acceptable. He discovers that she has an excellent singing voice (a fact Seven attributes to her Borg vocal subprocessor) and gets her to sing "You Are My Sunshine" with him, which he enjoys greatly. Later Seven mentions to Kim that she has narrowed her prospective dating candidates to two - both interested in music - but when Harry says hopefully that he plays the clarinet, she informs him flatly that he is not a candidate. Ultimately she chooses Lieutenant Chapman, who accepts her order - err, invitation - to dinner Chez Sandrine. The Doctor helps Seven take down her hair, but when she asks for help putting on one of the recreational dresses he designed according to her dermoplastic requirements, he becomes flustered and tells her she can figure it out.
Seven's date starts off reasonably well, with the Doctor observing nearby as the restaurant pianist. But she cracks open a lobster all over her date, then nearly breaks his arm while dancing, requiring a trip to sickbay for the poor lieutenant. After he leaves, Seven laments to the Doctor that she prefers to communicate simply and directly, as she does with her mentor; she feels that she has failed the elaborate courtship rituals, though she does make a joke about the shortness of the date. The Doctor reminds her that this is just the first attempt. He requests the song "Someone To Watch Over Me" and begins to teach her to dance, pulling her close.
The next day in Sandrine's, Neelix finds the Kati ambassador drunk and consorting with holographic prostitutes. It's nearly time for the reception, but all Tobin can talk about is how much he'd like to leave Kati and stay on Voyager. The Doctor asks Seven to accompany him to the reception as his date; she accepts, and they arrive to find Paris regaling the ambassador with terrible hologram jokes. When Seven toasts the uniqueness of all the species present, Tobin falls instantly in love. But then she overhears Paris and the Doctor discussing their bet concerning her and is hurt. "Clearly I am not the only one who requires social lessons," she snaps, nearly breaking the ambassador's arm on the way out when he makes a pass at her.
The Kati passes out, but unfortunately his species do not respond to synthehol antidotes as do most humanoids. Seven offers to donate some of her nanoprobes to help sober him up, to which Tobin murmurs, "Assimilate me!" The Doctor tries to apologize to Seven, explaining that he enjoys her company and considers her a friend. Considering his own words, the Doctor then asks Paris what one should do if one develops romantic feelings for someone who may not reciprocate those feelings...it's a hypothetical question for Seven's training, Doc explains. Paris isn't fooled: "Why don't you tell her? The Ambassador's not the only one here who's intoxicated." The Doctor responds that she's his student.
A very hung-over Tobin expresses his utmost gratitude to Neelix just as Janeway, Tuvok, and the Kati leader return. The leader asks Tobin how he found his visit; he lies and claims he stuck to the itinerary, only to be shocked when His Holiness announces that such opportunities to explore new experiences should be indulged once in awhile.
On the holodeck, the Doctor gives Seven flowers with a romantic note, but a beep interrupts his confession of his feelings. "End program!" he exclaims, then the doors open and the real Seven enters; the previous scene was a simulation. She gives him an enhanced medical tricorder as a gift, as suggested in Lesson 22, "Thanks for the Memories." "I no longer require your assistance," she adds for her teacher. "There are no compatible mates for me aboard this vessel." He thanks her as well, reluctantly watching her leave. Then he summons Sandrine's and goes to the piano, where he sings "Someone To Watch Over Me."
I loved this episode as a Doctor episode, though I am ambivalent about it as a Seven of Nine episode; it was rather reminiscent of "In Theory," the TNG episode in which Data tries dating, with Seven in a similar role as both observer of the human condition and would-be-participant. I actually found this episode more emotional because she does have feelings to be hurt, but the My Fair Lady story ripoff made the events seem more contrived than necessary. This story could have been told more movingly without the unnecessarily crass bet between the Doctor and Paris.
It is interesting to note that everyone who "loves" Seven does so only after they have begun to remake her in their own image of her. The Doctor gets her to sing and dance with him, then falls for his Galataea. In a way, I actually found this an improvement on Janeway's relationship with her, which often seems entirely conditional on Seven learning the human values Janeway spouts and behaving according to the strict filial role the Captain scripts. The Doctor seemed more interested in whom Seven might be as a person than Janeway ever has. I did have to block out my memory of him "teaching" her social skills last season in "Prey," where he informed her that she should take blatant sexual harrassment as a compliment.
It's a real pity that Janeway has often been portrayed as a soul-stealing adversary of the ex-Borg, because logically Janeway should be the person to whom Seven would go for dating advice. I know it's probably anachronistic to think that because they're both women, they'd share a bond that Seven couldn't share with a man, but it is often the case that regardless of gender equality, people still prefer to discuss their sexual and romantic problems with a member of the same sex...and Janeway is a human female, not a hologram, plus she does presumably have years of experience which Seven lacks. Then again, I can see why the writers would never have had Seven ask Janeway for any sort of dating advice. For starters, it would bring up the inevitable question of whether Janeway even enjoys dating since she hasn't done it in five years. It figures that Janeway had fun on Kati - a planetful of prudes - with only a Vulcan for company. It is really, really sad that while Deep Space Nine is giving us several women who manage to integrate femininity and sexuality into their leadership personas, Janeway can't even wear a dress as her dress uniform.
Robert Picardo's subtle, warm performance made it easy to feel for the Doctor, and Jeri Ryan gave an absolutely terrific performance of the awkwardness and unhappiness of early dating. I also loved hearing them sing again. This show demanded good comic timing - at the beginning, for instance, when Seven suggested that dating leads to procreation and the Doctor said "One thing at a time," then moments later he suggested that dating leads to marriage and she tossed his words back at him - both actors were admirably up to the task. I did have a few moments of unintentional howling laughter, like when Seven said she was feeling tense from her chronographic sequencer - does it never occur to her that her 4" heels might have something to do with it?
Robert Duncan McNeill directed this episode; I did not particularly like Paris herein, either condescending to Torres about her probable lack of driving skills nor lecturing the Doctor on love, but as a filmmaker his skills are quite admirable. And I must make note of Ethan Phillips playing the straight man to Tobin's wildness - lovely stuff. I must have The X-Files on the brain, however, because I kept thinking that it's a good thing Neelix didn't know enough to show the ambassador baseball. The Kati would never have left.
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.