The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Cathexis

When an alien attack renders Chakotay brain-dead, Janeway resolves to investigate the dark matter nebula where the incident happened. But when the investigation is hampered at every turn by mysterious malfunctions, it seems as if there may still be an alien presence aboard Voyager.

I always think of Cathexis as a Chakotay episode, even though he spends most of the episode as a disembodied consciousness – something we’re not even supposed to realise upon first viewing. Unfortunately, with the element of surprise lost, this is a bit of a plodding episode, which feels like an exercise in proving how easy it is for a single officer to go rogue and ruin everything.

Observations

  • Why does the chief engineer not have the authority to eject the warp core? Yes, it allows for the revelation that Chakotay’s consciousness is controlling people, but surely if there was an emergency, B’Elanna would need to be able to eject the warp core quickly, without waiting for command authorisation from the bridge.
  • It seems that, for whatever reason, both Chakotay and the alien that possesses Tuvok can only control people who are alive and awake. Otherwise, why wouldn’t Chakotay be able to reinsert his consciousness into his own body (even if only temporarily), and why would the alien need Tuvok alive? I guess the alien might need Tuvok’s knowledge and memory.
  • Although Kes is seen sitting up in the background when Chakotay awakens, no one talks to her or apologises for the near fatal assault she received.
  • This episode introduces Janeway’s Jane Eyre-esque holonovel.
  • If phasers can do such an effective wide beam dispersal, why isn’t it used more often?

Summary – Cathexis: Never ever think too hard about the Doctor restored Chakotay’s consciousness to his body. It just causes a faint nausea and a need to re-examine all of the science of Star Trek.

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