Voyager reaches the border of a region of space claimed by hostile insectoid aliens. Unwilling to add over a year to their journey just to skirt around this territory, Janeway and the crew hatch a plan to sneak through. Meanwhile, the Doctor starts suffering from memory loss, indicating that there may be something very wrong with his program.
After a pair of episodes which, while not perfect, at least had some very good elements, it’s disappointing to fall back into mediocrity with The Swam. Here is an episode which has potential, but sadly fails to deliver on not just one, but two fronts.
Let’s first examine the titular, but ultimately less important storyline – the enemy of the week. The idea of an adversary who uses a swarm of small ships sounded great to me when I first heard about this episode, but the finished product is highly disappointing. Their unique selling point is never really developed, to the extent that they might as well have just been any cookie cutter villain who gives Voyager a bit of trouble before ultimately being vanquished and never heard from again. We also see the return of Evil Janeway, who decides to ignore Starfleet rules about violating alien territory because it happens to be more convenient than adding a few months to their journey. Seriously, it’s going to take 75 years to get home – what’s another 15 months? You could save more time if you didn’t stop to admire every nebula you passed.
And then we have the plight of The Doctor, whose program has outgrown its storage, and is suffering massive degradation as a consequence. There’s a flicker of interesting debate about whether it’s better to reinitialise The Doctor and reset his memories than lose him completely, but this is soon swallowed up by technobabble and the grafting of holographic matrices. Sure, that might work for now, but it hardly solves the bigger problem, does it? Are there no spare hard drives B’Elanna can plug in to contain The Doctor’s ever expanding program? To top it all off, the episode concludes with the old “character appears to lose their memories but still remembers a song they sang in an earlier scene” trope. And, unless I’m very much mistaken, by next week everything is fine and this incident is never mentioned again.
Points of Note
- This episode marks the very first stirrings of the Tom and B’Elanna romance, with Tom taking an interest in B’Elanna’s love life, and even inviting her to the holodeck.
- This episode also introduces the Doctor’s love of opera.
- It’s difficult to tell from the 2D image of Swam space, but couldn’t Voyager have perhaps flown over or under it instead of through it?
Lost shuttlecraft running total: 4
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 3
Number of times Voyager gets destroyed: 1
Summary – The Swarm: “These women are arrogant, superior, condescending; I can’t imagine anyone behaving that way.”