When Harry and The Doctor discover a sentient warhead crashed on a planet, The Doctor insist that they help a fellow artificial intelligence and beam it back to the ship. But despite all the crew’s precautions, the warhead manages to take over The Doctor’s holomatrix, where it insist that, unless Voyager takes it to its destination, it will destroy the ship.
You may remember season two’s Dreadnought, in which B’Elanna has difficulty convincing an intelligent weapon that it no longer needs to attack its target. You may also remember season two’s Prototype, in which two factions of robots continue to fight and kill each other long after the war between their creators had ceased. Warhead always felt like a poor shadow of these episodes, and so I never rated it highly. After this rewatch, my opinion hasn’t changed.
In fact, one could argue that it even rips off a third episode – Darkling – in which The Doctor gains a second, evil personality. Here, Robert Picardo turns in much the same performance, albeit less hammed up. But all in all, there’s very little new here. Have we just reached the point where there’s too much Star Trek for anything really good and original to come along? Well, it’s certainly getting more difficult, but rest assured that there is still good stuff to come.
Even discounting the similarities to other episodes, Warhead doesn’t really grab me. I guess it’s a good opportunity to put Harry in the hot seat and have him take some responsibility for command decisions, but since I don’t find Harry very interesting, that’s not a massive draw. At the pivotal plot moment, the titular warhead finally changes its mind abruptly and completely, allowing everything to be wrapped up in a nice, neat little package. Hooray, now we can move on.
Other bits and pieces
- This episode makes a big deal of recursive search algorithms, even though these are nothing special, and indeed many search and sorting algorithms use recursive calls. Then again, the warhead supposedly speaks in “duotronic algorithms”, and it’s not at all clear what that means, so maybe we should leave the technobabble alone.
- How does the warhead/Doctor not hear B’Elanna and Harry talking to each other? Surely he can use the ship’s computer to monitor all of sickbay?
Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 15
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 9
Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 3
Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 5
Summary – Warhead: In which Robert Picardo is da bomb.