Star Trek 495: Lifesigns

495. Lifesigns

FORMULA: Phage + Melora + His Way

WHY WE LIKE IT: Susan Diol.

WHY WE DON'T: Shmullus? Really?

REVIEW: Once you get past the sleight of hand with the computer necessary to make this episode happen (easily gotten over), you're in for a fairly sweet love affair between the Doctor and a Vidiian woman. It's Susan Diol who really makes the episode watchable, with a lovely, lovely performance. I'm glad she got another change at a Trek after being unceremoniously mowed down by the Crystalline Entity in Silicon Avatar.

She certainly puts a new face on the phage-ridden race, and not just because she's the first of their women we see (the only one?). The Doctor's holographic trick shows us what Vidiian really look like, and we hear from her that there actually are healthy specimens out there, always in danger of being infected. Their society has become obsessed with medicine and afraid of physical contact. Denara also doesn't have the monstrous accents other Vidiians have had and is much more personable than the Hunchback of Notre Dame stand-ins we've seen. Too big a change of paradigm? Maybe.

Still, her sweet, demure romance with the EMH is pleasant enough, and driven by a certain self-loathing. She's ready to die as a beautiful holographic woman rather than return to her old, diseased life. The Doctor is as awkward as Data or Odo, blurting out his opening move like he was asking for a tricorder, but also more open and emotional. He's growing and it doesn't feel forced. The name Denara gives is terrible though. Shmullus. Wow. Who dreamt that one up?

Other characters get their bits in as well. Kes is ever the Doctor's confidante. B'Elanna's mutilation at the hands of the Vidiians is addressed and not forgotten. Tom Paris continues to be a thorn in Chakotay's side, this time landing himself in the brig. And Michael Jonas is still sending information to the Kazon and asking for Seska a lot (and finally seeing her - she asks him to sabotage the ship, leading to the next episode). You can also feel the 25th Anniversary creeping up, with McCoy's name dropped in conversation (no doubt the explanation for the Doctor's "I'm a doctor..." expressions) and the Martian make-out point looking like a TOS matte shot.

LESSON: Don't pick at that scab.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: A lovely guest-star, a sweet romance, arcs proceeding apace, and we get a little more insight into one of Voyager's two original legacy races.


Jayunderscorezero said...

I've mentioned this before, but man I inexplicably loves me some EMH romance!

Good to know that I'm not just crazy and that these are apparently pretty good episodes overall as well.

Madeley said...

Oh boy, Shmullus. Even when Voyager is stumbling towards quality, they find a way to shoot themselves in the foot.


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