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The Trek Nation - Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy

Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:17 PM GMT

See Also: 'Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy' Episode Guide

At a recital in the mess hall, the Doctor sings an opera solo. Tuvok bursts into tears in the middle, then starts laughing maniacally. When the Vulcan draws a weapon, the Doctor continues to sing, advising the crew that Tuvok has entered pon farr and needs treatment to make up for seven years of lost sex. Paris tosses a hypospray across the room; the Doctor catches and administers it to Tuvok, who returns to normal. The crew shouts 'Bravo' and tosses flowers, while Janeway blows kisses.

In sickbay, Torres wakes the Doctor from this reverie by asking whether he needs a diagnostic. "I was just letting my mind wander," says the Doctor sheepishly. He is upset because Torres has not put him on the away team to the planet they are approaching. As the bridge crew ponders the strange nebula between themselves and the planet, Chakotay hands Janeway a formal grievance from the Doctor, complaining of crew rudeness and recommending that he become an emergency backup captain in case of crew incapacitation. Janeway rolls her eyes and leaves to deal with the Doctor, not knowing that the nebula cloaks three alien ships.

The Doctor sits with the senior crew in the briefing room, where Torres plays footsie with him and invites him to dinner. "RESIST," writes Seven of Nine on a padd, winking at the Doctor and telling the captain that she needs the EMH in astrometrics. But Janeway has picked up on the chemistry between the Borg and the hologram, and gets jealous. She doubles over, complaining of an old injury, then asks the Doctor for a massage - placing his hand upon her butt. Torres protests as the Doctor grins, but Janeway dismisses her rival.

Just then the real Janeway wakes the Doctor from the daydream, telling him that she understands his program can multi-task, but she needs his full concentration on sickbay. He reiterates his desire to be a backup captain, but she agrees only to take the matter up with Starfleet when they get home. In another daydream, the Doctor imagines taking command of the ship as the Emergency Command Hologram.

Meanwhile, aboard those three alien ships, the Doctor's vision is being watched on a monitor by a nervous snout-faced subordinate. The alien has asked their Hierarchy for permission to infiltrate Voyager, using micro-tunneling sensors to hack into the computer - a request which enrages the captain, who was not consulted. The alien has determined that Voyager is not from their own quadrant and that the Doctor is an artificial intelligence, but he is unaware that he has tapped not into the Doctor's sensors, but algorithms he created for daydreaming. The aliens believe the Doctor can command the ship.

While preparing Neelix for the away mission from which he has been dropped, the Doctor asks the Talaxian whether he daydreams, though the EMH denies daydreaming himself. Neelix cites the Talaxian saying "The dream dreams the dreamer." His people believe that dreams come from outside an individual. Suddenly Paris calls: "Mayday!" The ship is under attack by the Borg, which have released a virus to assimilate the crew. Borg implants break out on Tuvok and Chakotay as Janeway passes out, leaving the ECH in charge. As four pips pop up on his now-red uniform, drone Chakotay advances on Seven, but the Doctor rescues her. When the Borg announce that they will be assimilated, the Doctor snaps, "Over my dead program!" and bravely calls for the "photonic cannon." The Borg are obliterated.

The aliens - who do not realize this is fantasy - are shocked to learn of Borg nearby and even more shocked at Voyager's decisive victory over the feared enemy. The alien who discovered the Doctor sings his praises, noting that he's a leader, a warrior, and a sex symbol. The alien captain orders a scan for more Borg and suggests a type three assault against Voyager. The alien in charge of spying on Voyager decides to step up his infiltration.

Back on Voyager, Chakotay congratulates the Doctor on his brilliant victory over the Borg. The Doctor is immediately suspicious since that was just a fantasy, and learns from the computer that Chakotay is supposed to be in his quarters rather than standing in the corridor with him. Summoning the engineers, he admits to Torres, Seven and Kim that he created a cognitive program for daydreaming, but it seems to be working overtime. The group start to make a plan for treating him, but then Seven and Torres get into a fight over the Doctor, demanding to accompany him to sickbay...alone.

Just then the engines malfunction! "Warning: warp core breach a lot sooner than you think," advises the computer. Because he is impervious to radiation, the Doctor is the only person on board who can enter engineering in the midst of antimatter radiation to eject the core. "Warning: last chance to be a hero, Doctor," purrs the computer, which seems to be as hot for him as every other woman on board. The Doctor prepares to eject the warp core, but Torres - the real Torres - stops him, dragging him to sickbay. As Torres and Janeway watch, the Doctor flirts with an absent Seven. He can no longer tell fantasy from reality.

Although Janeway questions the invasion of the Doctor's privacy, Torres orders Kim and Seven to view the Doctor's fantasies in the hope of learning why they malfunctioned. The captain is summoned to the holodeck, where the Doctor is painting a naked Seven of Nine while the real Seven watches incredulously. "He does the hands very well," notes Janeway, to which Seven retorts, "Apparently he's had a lot of practice." Suddenly the Doctor activates the ECH, shocking the real captain, who stares as Seven tells her that the Doctor enjoys saving the ship. Next the Doctor imagines breaking up with Torres, who refuses to let him go, declaring that Paris isn't half the man the Doctor is. "I've seen enough," snarls the chief engineer, attempting to clear the holodeck. But Janeway sees one final fantasy: herself giving a medal of valor to the Doctor, who says all he's ever wanted to do is to help the people he loves.

While the alien captain makes plans to attack Voyager in order to sieze the ship's antimatter and dilithium, the computer hacker who infiltrated the Doctor's program admits to a colleague that he now knows he was seeing fantasies, not the reality of Voyager. He fears losing his job if anyone else finds out. On Voyager, Janeway visits the daydream-purged, humiliated Doctor in sickbay, assuring him that they all daydream and she hasn't lost any respect for him. Later the captain tells Chakotay she has been researching command protocols for holograms, which makes him uneasy. The first officer insists that the Doctor's place is in sickbay.

But the Doctor isn't in sickbay anymore: he's back at the party where he got the medal, though Torres purged his matrix of the daydreaming program. The alien computer hacker appears to him, telling him that this is not a fantasy and Voyager is about to be attacked. The Doctor is skeptical, warning his crewmates that he's dreaming again, but the alien tells him that he could only communicate with Voyager through the Doctor's matrix. Now the Doctor knows why his algorithms destabilized. "I only want to help," declares the alien, admitting that he also doesn't want to lose his job on his own ship. He offers to tell the Doctor the frequencies of his ship's phasers if the Doctor will make it appear that his account of life on Voyager was an accurate one.

The Doctor goes to Janeway, who gets angry that he disobeyed orders and daydreamed again. Yet the Doctor proves that his last vision was not a fantasy by giving Kim the information necessary to see the ships cloaked in the nebula. The Doctor warns that they won't uncload until they are close enough to destroy Voyager, then they will demand vital supplies...and Voyager can't run away, because more ships are waiting nearby. He tells of the plan to exchange information which will allow Voyager to escape for a projection of the Voyager from the Doctor's mind, which the Hierarchy has been led to believe is real. Of course, that means the Doctor has to be in the captain's chair when the aliens call. Janeway reluctantly agrees to turn fantasy into reality.

Though the Doctor is frightened at the prospect of actually commanding the bridge, Kim assures him that they all feel the same way when they first get the night shift in the big chair. Janeway reminds the Doctor that she'll be giving orders from astrometrics; it's just that the aliens won't be able to hear her. But the alien captain tells his subordinates that he has decided on a type four assault, meaning the phaser frequencies will rotate and the hacker won't be able to feed the data to Voyager. Fortunately, he is able to send them a message to this effect, and the Doctor improvises while Tuvok finds a weakness in the alien shields. It's not enough, however. Rising, the Doctor calls for the photonic cannon, and Chakotay nods to Tuvok to play along. The panicked aliens note that the Borg couldn't withstand the weapon, receiving orders from their Hierarchy to retreat.

Seven asks the Doctor to come with her to the mess hall, where he enters to shouts of "Surprise!" Kim assures the Doctor that it's not a fantasy, though everyone is in dress uniform and Janeway gives her EMH a medal, telling him she'll look into his command potential. Seven kisses the Doctor on the cheek but warns him that it was platonic. "Do not expect me to pose for you," she warns.

Analysis:

While this episode had a lot in common with some of the original Trek episodes where Kirk had to deceive aliens - "The Corbomite Maneuver," "A Piece of the Action" - it was just as much fun as those classics. I especially liked the balance between the Doctor's humiliation and that of the aliens...he may have been caught with his pants down (in a manner of speaking) in front of a lot of the crew, but that very fact enabled him to live out a number of his daydreams in a way Walter Mitty never would have imagined.

It was rather touching that the EMH's major hopes involved saving the crew - Tuvok from pon farr, Janeway from the Borg, Seven from Chakotay (OK, let's not go there), but after the initial fantasy of all three senior women throwing themselves at him at once, the sexual innuendo got trite. Well, Seven posing nude was funny since it's easy now to imagine amateur artist Janeway wanting to paint her...heh heh heh. But fantasizing about breaking up with a bitter Torres? Did we really need to see that? Cute as they were, the daydreams were just a hair too close to cliche. Bottom line: we didn't really learn anything new about the Doctor, we didn't get any insight into the romantic feelings we learned last season that he harbors for Seven, and we didn't discover anything about his fears, which I would think would be powerful for a hologram in his situation.

Great as Robert Picardo always is, in a way it's too bad this episode had to be about the Doctor, because it's hard to draw any conclusions about the value of daydreaming or anything else given his unique circumstances. Of course it had to be about the Doctor, because for better or worse none of the rest of our daydreams are accessible by computer infiltration - well, maybe Seven's when she's regenerating, but I don't think I want to know her daydreams.

I will remember "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy" as entertaining fluff, but I wish it had gone beyond the obvious. It was well-structured and had strong dialogue and fine acting, but ultimately it was a reset button episode which didn't even earn the Doctor a real pip.

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.