VirtuosoBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:23 PM GMT
See Also: 'Virtuoso' Episode Guide
While treating some injured Komar who sneer at his holomatrix and Voyager's inferior technology, the Doctor begins to sing. Suddenly the mathematically brilliant aliens are enthralled by him. Though the Doctor arranges a concert of various musical forms for these music-deprived aliens, it is his singing specifically that attracts them. The crew is invited to the Komar homeworld and within days, the Doctor has achieved rock star status, autographing photos of himself while women fake illness just to get into his sickbay.
When an attractive Komar female writes a composition just for him, the Doctor believes he has fallen in love and submits his resignation to Janeway. The captain is furious that one of the most valuable technological tools on her ship wants to leave, but she agrees as his friend to grant the request. Seven of Nine is furious as well, believing he craves only attention and applause, which the Doctor denies. However, when his paramour programs a hologram with far superior singing skills, dismissing the original to his ship, the Doctor slinks back to Janeway with his tails between his legs. Seven offers him a fan letter saying she will always admire him.
Last week we learned that the Doctor had a son, about whom he has apparently already forgotten. This week we learned that his primary emotion towards his Voyager crewmates is scorn, and he wishes he could be someplace where advanced beings appreciate his brilliance. Sort of like the Voyager writers? It's worth analyzing the slap in the face of viewers performed by Janeway. Seven - who was raised by those lemmings the Borg - notes that the word "fan" derives from "fanatic," and adds, "This glorification of the individual is irrational." That's fair. Then Janeway helpfully identifies the reason for adulation of celebrities: it makes unimportant people feel important.
Thanks, Paramount! Now that you've explained it, I know better than to go see these Star Trek clowns at conventions. Janeway could have been introspective about the human need for idols rather than contemptuous of it. Maybe the "fan mail" scene at the end was supposed to assuage viewers by showing us that Seven of Nine is one of us - pretty funny, considering that Jeri Ryan has the same status on the show as the Doctor does on the ship, providing vicarious fame for the rest of the cast who'd probably be off the air by now without her. I was not assuaged, but since I do consider myself a fan (not of Voyager but of Trek in general), I'm sure that's because I'm one of those silly losers like the Doctor's groupies.
Interestingly, though, the Doctor thinks even less of his peers on Voyager than his adoring minions. At the end, his source of pain is not his own misguided values but being stuck with these people who don't appreciate him, instead of worshipped by geniuses. If he were any other crewmember, I'd say a counseling session was in order to determine the source of his contempt - as well as the short-term memory failure which enables him to wipe out recent family members. But since he's a hologram and the writers can't make up their minds how much sentience to grant him, I'd say it's just about time for Torres to adjust his erratic, inconsistent emotional parameters.
Oh, but wait - Janeway's are just as bad! Two weeks ago, the woman found herself falling in love with a hologram. Now she has declared her Doctor just another piece of machinery. He makes a better friend than her tricorder, to be sure, but he should hardly get treated on a par with, say, Harry Kim...as the Doctor pointed out to her. That debate about holographic rights was nonsensical. Janeway got some of the worst dialogue she's been saddled with yet. It's hardly fair to accuse her of having a double standard toward the Doctor's autonomy when she has repeatedly failed to grant any of her crewmembers that privilege: not Tuvix, not Seven of Nine, certainly not Torres on the two occasions when the Klingon refused medical treatment and Janeway disregarded her wishes. I'm not happy about any of that, but at least the captain's prejudices are usually balanced. It wasn't necessary for her to become contemptuous of the Doctor - to sink to his own current self-important level.
Don't get me wrong: Bob Picardo was terrific both singing and playing the increasingly deluded Doctor. And Jeri Ryan was quite moving portraying Seven's sense of abandonment by the Doctor - both when she accused him of arrogance and when she consoled him with the fan letter - though we didn't learn anything new about Seven from her dialogue. Janeway's reaction to the Doctor's use of her first name was hysterical in a sad sort of way: OK, he was way out of line, but no wonder she doesn't have any friends! My favorite moment was when the Doctor sang the notes of "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" famous to genre fans from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's nice to get a reminder that once upon a time, some filmmakers knew how to produce real science fiction.
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.