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Star Trek Voy - Season 4 - Episode 14

Star Trek Voy - 4x14 - Message in a Bottle

Originally Aired: 1998-1-21

Synopsis:
Voyager makes contact with the Alpha Quadrant. [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 8.35

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 3 1 3 2 5 2 5 5 17 43 53

Problems
- When the doctor dematerializes, his mobile emitter seems to go with him, instead of dropping to the floor like it should.

Factoids
- This is the first episode to feature the use of of the Hirogen subspace network.
- This is the first Voyager episode to mention the Dominion. The EMH Mark 2 Tells the EMH Mark 1 that the Romulans haven't gotten involved in the Federation's fight with the Dominion.
- EMH Mark 2 insinuates that the doctor's program must not be functioning correctly after having been active for four years. A good reference to Voy: The Swarm.
- Two Defiant class Federation ships and an Akira class ship fought against the Romulans to get the Prometheus back.
- Voyager was declared officially lost 14 months before this episode according to the doctor.

Remarkable Scenes
- Torres feuding with Seven of Nine again.
- Chakotay: "Astrometrics?" Janeway: "I've been summoned. Any guesses what this is about?" Chakotay: "None."
- Seven of Nine detecting a Starfleet ship.
- The sight of the USS Prometheus.
- The Nebula class starship attacking the Prometheus.
- The EMH Mark 2 insulting the EMH Mark 1.
- EMH Mark 2: "I'm a doctor, not a commando!" Count 21 for "I'm a doctor, not a (blah)" style lines, which McCoy was famous for.
- Paris: "I'm a pilot, harry! Not a doctor!" Not exact, but I'll count it. Count 22 for "I'm a doctor, not a (blah)" style lines, which McCoy was famous for.
- Torres arguing with Seven of Nine.
- The doctor's interrogation.
- EMH Mark 1 to EMH Mark 2: "You know, you should really keep a personal log. Why bore others needlessly?"
- EMH Mark 1: "Stop breathing down my neck." EMH Mark 2: "My breathing is merely a simulation." EMH Mark 1: "So is my neck! Stop it anyway!"
- The Hirogen on the viewscreen is electrocuted. Janeway: "What happened?" Seven: "I generated a feedback surge along our sensor link." Torres: "You killed him?" Seven: "It was a mild shock. He will recover." Janeway: "And when he does?" Seven: "He wasn't responding to diplomacy."
- The replacement doctor reciting Gray's Anatomy.
- The battle.
- EMH Mark 2: "The secondary gyrodyne relays in the propulsion field intermatrix have depolarized." EMH Mark 1: "In English!" EMH Mark 2: "I'm just reading what it says here!"
- The Prometheus attacking the Romulans.

My Review
It seems Dr. Louis Zimmerman finally finished his new EMH program he was working on in DS9: Doctor Bashir, I Presume? :) While this episode is probably too silly, it's still one of Voyager's best. Voyager finally makes a connection with the alpha quadrant and we get an enticing story as a result. This episode is actually one to watch if you're just a DS9 fan too, because it shows us what the Romulans are doing; for we haven't actually seen them do anything since they stepped in to defend DS9 from the false Dominion attack in DS9: By Inferno's Light. It seems they wanted to steal the Prometheus. Unfortunately, neither the Romulans' motives nor the Prometheus were elaborated sufficiently. Like my objections to TNG: Birthright, this episode screams "I'm a Voyager episode! Not a DS9 episode." But we didn't get to see any of the crew alive nor any Starfleet people whatsoever talk to the doctor for any substantial period of time. This is forgivable though, seeing as how this is just the first of many episodes in which Voyager talks to the alpha quadrant. Additionally, this episode introduces a new alien species, the proprietors of the alien network of relay stations. We'll surely see them again; I would imagine that the Hirogen was less than happy about what Seven of Nine did to him. ;)

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Scott on 2008-11-10 at 3:56pm:
    In my eyes this episode was a massive let down. Starts of well, get to see the hirogen, puts the doctor on another ship, see some romulans and the new starfleet ship that travels at warp 9.9. Thats where the good ends, and it becomes a joke. For one, why are the romulans acting like kason, there interregation of the doctor was laughable, says everythin bout the Tal Shiar. Comparing the vulcan cousins in this episode to Senator Vreenak in DS9 makes them seem shallow and stupid. Why did they kill everybody and yet leave some bodies in sickbay, one of them who was resuscitated only to die seconds later. good one doc. Lastly i hope to god these are rebel romulans, if not then why on earth do they have the ship instead of been camped in by the dominion or helping the feds in the dominion war. looks like this ship was too important for both factions than the alpha quadrent itself. And why do the fed ships go in all guns blazing against 3 warbirds and the most technologically advanced ship in their own fleet, just doesnt seem starfleet to me. Still none of the attack makes sense anyway. Imagine sisko when he finds out about this ship and that TWO defiant style ships went off to rescue it from romulans. He must be wondering why this information of new ship technology was not forthcoming when he's basically head of the station forefronting the war. Shockin continuity here in this episode, and you almost forget why the doctor was on the ship in the first place when they're gettin attacked. But its ok, this is just brushed aside in the last 3 minutes. You would be forgiven for thinking that the doctor went to an alternate universe alpha quadrant. In 7 seasons id say this was the biggest let down of all voyager episodes. Id even go as far as sayin its a disgrace but im obviously in a minority there. I just cant get over the lack of clever romulans, it just fails the episode in my opinion
  • From Michael on 2011-10-23 at 5:44pm:
    I don't get how the computer can program an artificially sentient Leonardo da Vinci, Moriarty, etc. on it's own, but creating a doctor holodeck character requires years of programming by top holodeck engineers.
  • From Rick on 2013-01-04 at 4:16pm:
    Problem: New EMH guy says that he is transferring all life support power to something else because they obviously dont need it. Good point, except for the fact that there were 27 unconscious Romulans that he killed by doing so.
  • From Jadzia Guinan Smith on 2015-06-11 at 9:53am:
    I wondered about that life support, too. Would they let the tranquilized Romulans die? Didn't they just recently treat wounded Romulans because, as doctors, they value the life and well-being of all species?

    Also, the 2 Federation officers who boarded the ship near the end weren't wearing environment suits... how did they survive/function on a vessel without life support? They didn't seem to be gasping or suffering in any way.

    I thought this episode had a lot of technical problems. But it was spirited, funny, hugely entertaining... as Doctor-centered episodes usually are! easily a 7 or 8.
  • From Phil on 2015-09-01 at 9:48am:
    Re: life support, I've always seen it as responsible for replenishing oxygen and keeping the ship warm enough for life. With only 27 unconscious humanoids onboard, it would take days to exhaust the oxygen in the ship's atmosphere, and the heat dissipation characteristics of these starships are never really explained in any detail.

    I laughed out loud at the replacement holographic doctor scenes because I've seen those same conversations happen between programmers and less savvy managers with unrealistic expectations. For once the technology in Star Trek isn't just "push a button and then it's all just magic", which I greatly appreciated.
  • From Xall on 2017-05-10 at 1:56pm:
    My main issue with this whole episode is the whole Alpha/Beta quadrant debacle.

    At first, Seven says the ship's in the Alpha Quadrant; cue to visual representation which clearly shows in the Beta Quadrant. Thereafter, she says it's at the outer edges of the Alpha Quadrant.

    Even so, when The Doctor beams over to the Prometheus, the computer (!) acknowledges their presence as in the Alpha Quadrant. The show's writers really were a letdown as fas as this was concerned.
  • From Mike on 2017-07-09 at 3:22pm:
    The Romulans definitely sent their goof troop to take over the Prometheus. They were a bit too bozo-like in this one, reminding me of the Ferengi in TNG. Maybe not quite that bad...but still.

    In response to Scott, I believe this one aired before DS9: In The Pale Moonlight, so the Romulans weren't yet in the Dominion War. If I remember, Andy Dick's character even mentions something about this,. But, since this episode begins with the Romulans taking over a ship and ends with multiple starships in a full-on battle, it does seem like a tricky thing to smooth over even when they become partners against the Dominion later on.

    I'm not a fan of Andy Dick and didn't think I'd like this one. But the Mark II worked well with the Doctor to create a good balance of humor and suspense. It was a nice episode for both the Doctor and Seven in their journeys to become more human, as the Doctor gets to see how far he's come in relation to a "normal" hologram, and Seven learns about how her abrasive communication pisses off her crew mates :)

    I was also curious about the wider Romulan motives here and also about the relay station. Who put it there? We (spoiler alert) learn later that the Hirogen merely use part of it, but it is clearly much older. Since it covers nearly half the galaxy, it opens up all kinds of possibilities about being the communications network for an ancient civilization that we never learn more about. Oh well. Still a good episode.

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