Star Trek 622: Human Error

622. Human Error

FORMULA: Someone to Watch Over Me + Hollow Pursuits + In Theory

WHY WE LIKE IT: The red dress. Starfleet diapers.

WHY WE DON'T: Seven's arc. The forgettable subplot. Well, that pretty much takes care of everything.

REVIEW: Ok, I was holding my tongue about this issue until we hit the absolute top of the dung heap, and here we are. I have to rant about Voyager's teasers. In my opinion, teasers have to draw you in by making viewers ask "what happens next?". If you do so, they'll stay through the opening theme. Voyagers' rather tries to make you ask "what's going on here?" as if trading on viewer confusion is really a goof way to deter channel-switching. So Voyager does a lot of teasers where none of the cast appear, a lot of very brief scenes (before anything can be explained) and a heck of a lot of "huh!" moments that are supposed to be shocking. That's the idea in Human Error, in which the teaser simply shows us Seven playing the piano, then cuts to theme. The point is to shock us with the fact that Seven doesn't have her implants in that scene, but it took me multiple viewings to realize that because we've seen Seven with her hair down before, and she's beautiful enough you hardly ever notice the implants anyway. Just badly staged. Result: 30 seconds of piano and no reason to stick around.

But stick around I did (obviously), and while I make it sound in the summary as if the show is total dreck, it isn't really. Seven's experiences in Unimatrix Zero have made her want to explore her humanity more, and she's designed some life-like holodeck simulations to help her. These include going to baby showers, decorating her quarters and dating Chakotay. Look closely, because the series finale will tell us these guys were in for a real love affair, but this is the most you'll ever see of that relationship, and it's only a fantasy. Still, nice subtle jealousy and hurt from the Doctor.

Now, the problem I have with this exploration is that Seven is too good at faking humanity for her NOT to be more genial around the actual crew. Inside the simulations, the piano's metronome makes a fine symbol for Seven's inhumanity, but also ignores the fact that Seven probably has an inner metronome. Another odd thing is what Seven decides to find relevant in this episode, such as closure. Once she decides to stop using her simulations, why does she feel the need to break up with holo-Chakotay? And while she makes progress, we'll find out at the end that her activities are causing malfunctions in her cortical node and that she can never have powerful emotions again without risking her life. Except we've seen Seven overwhelmed by emotion before without incident. What they mean is, she can never LOVE again (some finale writer missed that). I really question the value of pressing the reset button where we're less than 10 episodes away from the end.

There's also one of those overtly technical subplots about Voyager entering a missile testing ground. It's only real purpose is to make Seven poke her head out of the holodeck once in a while, and maybe as eye candy. Oh and I guess there's a clever use of the transporters to disarm a missile. As for Chakotay's sudden interest in Seven at the end of this episode, it's only professional from both the dialogue and acting, so you shouldn't see it as a sign of anything. If it IS a sign, then it's a pretty fortuitous one (been peeking at holodeck logs, Chuckles?).

LESSON: Nothing can ever change on Voyager. Nothing.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-Low: Seven and the Doctor as watchable as ever, but they're ill-served by an episode that refuses to have any consequences. Never mind the boring B-plot.

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