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Star Trek Voy - Season 5 - Episode 08

Star Trek Voy - 5x08 - Nothing Human

Originally Aired: 1998-12-2

Synopsis:
Torres puts her life in the hands of an enemy. [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 4.99

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 18 5 4 5 7 9 5 13 19 5 6

Problems
None

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- Chakotay: "Harry, you and I were lucky enough to enjoy the Doctor's scintillating exhibition for two full hours, would it really be fair of us to deny our friends the same unforgettable experience?"
- Torres: "What happened to going to yellow alert after half an hour?" Tuvok: "Commander Chakotay appears to have disobeyed a direct order." Janeway: "Definitely grounds for court martial."
- Crell and the doctor arguing ethics.
- Tom, Chakotay, Tuvok, and the doctor debating the medical ethics.
- Janeway ending the debate, making the decision to use Crell's research.

My Review
An otherwise exceptional episode slightly ruined by misguided "superior" morality. Janeway is the star of the show here for me, she nips the ethical debate at the bud and decides to use the unethical research to save Torres' life. I would have made the same decision. But the doctor's decision to "repent" by deleting Crell's program after he'd already used his research is just blatant hypocrisy. Crell Moset was a great character who would have been a worthy addition to the cast. He had a dark side, yes, but frankly it would have contributed positively to future episodes. I would have enjoyed seeing more of "the evil hologram's" clever solutions to medical problems, for the one thing Voyager lacks that DS9 excels at so well is a dark aspect to the show.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Tony on 2008-08-30 at 9:54pm:
    One interesting aspect of this episode that I really like is the aliens. Far too often in Star Trek, the aliens are humanoid, and with similar technology. I understand that this allows for plots and subjects that would otherwise not be able to be done, but this episode provides a glimpse at an alien species that's as far from humanity as real aliens would probably be.
  • From Tony on 2008-08-31 at 1:40pm:
    In my first Comment, I mentioned the great part of this episode, but I forgot to mention the horrible part, the Doctor deleting Moset and his research. While deleting Moset is understandable, deleting his research is just wrong. Even if it was gathered in a bad way, the information gained may help save lives. It should have never been obtained, but now that it is, it might as well be used for good.
  • From fan Ive on 2009-12-14 at 2:33pm:
    end of this episode is absurd in my opinion. unlike ethics in episode "dear doctor" from enterprise.
    it was wrong to delete Crell's program.
    sorry for grammar mistakes, official language in my country is not english.
  • From Tallifer on 2011-04-24 at 12:20am:
    Some of you might be unaware of the very pertinent and actual history: the Nazis and Imperial Japanese tortured hundreds of prisoners for the sake of medical research. Most of this research was spurious and unscientific, but some results concerning extreme environments and biological warfare have been the source of ethical debates within the scientific and medical communities.
  • From Deggsy on 2012-03-30 at 7:36am:
    The ethical decisions behind the Doctor's decision were shaky at best. Taking it to logical extremes, warp drive technology should have been banned because the first practical application of it on Earth, Zefram Cochrane's ship the Phoenix, was built in an ICBM missile, the type of which helped wipe out hundreds of millions of people in the Third World War. And didn't the decision to wipe the data go against the spirit of Janeway's decision in the first place? And if people really objected to Crell, why not change his holographic appearance/identity?
  • From Dstyle on 2015-06-24 at 11:23am:
    Harry: "Uh, Doc, this guy is a Cardassian."
    Doctor: "So?"
    Harry: "Well, half the people on this ship committed their lives to fighting the Cardassians. This might not sit well."
    Doctor: "So? That was four years ago. I'm trying to save B'Elanna's life!"
    Harry: "Yeah, all the same... Computer, change Crell Moset's appearance to make him look human, and have him respond to the name, uh, Chris... Moss."
    Doctor: "Was that really necessary?"
    Harry: "Well, it sucks all of the dramatic tension out of this episode, but then again the episode was suffering from an easily avoidable manufactured controversy. And this way you get to keep your assistant."
    Doctor: "Very well then."
  • From pbench on 2015-09-13 at 5:53am:
    this is exactly the kind of false dichotomy i spoke of in my comment on 4x14, "prey". here we have the potential for a rich ethical dilemma that ends up almost forcing the viewer to "side" with the less forgiving option, but more for reasons of aesthetics than actual moral ones.

    this is part of voyager's, and TV's in general, "tell don't show" policy. that is to say: they think that the mere appearance of disagreement ("we should do it!" "no we shouldn't!) is evidence of "tension" between characters and some kind of riveting existential struggle for the viewer. i don't think it is, as we know that a million and one factors go into the 'feeling' or 'mood' of any particular scene, dialogue being only one of them. this misunderstanding also explains why so many of the interview quotes i read on memory alpha talk about the "intense rivalry" between the captain and seven of nine, which i have never sensed; it is extremely mild and the captain always wins anyway. it is obvious what the arch of the show is and we never truly feel it to be in danger or question.

    here, we have different characters being puppeteered to very clearly adopt different parts of the moral spectrum, not necessarily proceeding from their characters' natural tendencies, but to "create" tension where there is none (i.e. no imagination. okay that was harsh, but you get my meaning).

    this is an artistic, qualitative failure: one is inclined to agree with moset's position less for any actual philosophical reasons than for the parlour trick of mere plot progression--and in fact his argument would seem pretty reasonable to anyone who didn't think through the consequences truly (thanks to commenter tallifer for bringing up the real precedent for this). because the characters, as written, ARE being almost absurdly stubborn in a scenario which could very easily be argued is an extenuating circumstance--and with good precedent, considering all the other decisions Voyager's crew has had to make over the years. instead of appearing like two truly divergent threads in the plot, it really is just a fake screaming match between star trek telling us it is star trek ("look, think twice about things, okay!") and the logical action-sci fi conclusion (save the protagonist). the argument to try to save the creature appears as weak as most other star trek "rights" scenarios that know little more than how to repeatedly assert and state the nature of said rights...a nice progression for tv, but so much less than we know is possible in the right hands.

    that's why it was so frustrating that there were several times where the true qualitative difference between the methodologies could have been drawn out: not in the abstract puritanism of "not using something useful" (which can easily be cast as a mere "cultural" bias getting in the way of "actual" issues, which is how most characters deal with b'elanna and the bajoran crewmember...though this is their right regardless), but because as we saw in the surgical scene, it actually plays out in qualitatively DIFFERENT decisions IN THE PRESENT. moset's mentality may have led to killing the alien, which may have resulted in an even fiercer battle with its rescuers. i was glad they were finally showing this difference beyond the mere ideological and then they just completely left it.

    this same thing always happens on star trek, and voyager especially: the tables are flipped and the other character starts accusing the protagonist have being too high-minded...while the protagonist looks concerned and has nothing to say in reply. don't get me wrong--i agree w/ kethinov that star fleet deserves to be put down and i would love to see the dark side of things, including the very real accusation that much of earth's science is tainted in very deep ways as well, and not just by animals (tuskegee experiments, sterilisation of indigenous women, women of color, nuclear experiments on entire populations of hiroshima, nagasaki, etc.). there's rich possibilities for the "other" side too!

    but the argument instead is supremely facile: "are you so different than me?" the doctor easily could have said, "you almost killed that thing! we survived BECAUSE we chose to prioritise its life instead, a decision which never would have come to you naturally!" that is the ACTUAL reason--any horizon determines the direction you walk. if you see it close or far, high or low, or taking different forms, it all affects you in the NOW, and moset's fake apolitical apathy actually greatly informs his "practice". this could have been richly drawn out, and instead we get two options where one seems like a no-brainer and the other pure showmanship. good job star trek...

    my point is, just as a murder mystery inherently couches all character interactions thru the lens of suspicion, an action-based tv plotline is always going to go for the path of least resistance. now, if you're star trek, and you're trying to introduce higher-order thinking into that, that's all well and good...except if you don't really know what you want or what you even are. so we have characters in torture episodes simply saying "it is wrong" without really delving into all of the myriad ways that *procedurally* it fails, that it actually *proves* its own idiocy and evilness by the manner in which it handles things and achieves the opposite results of what it intends, and spirals into a never-ending, cascading cycle of suffering and loss of humanity for the torturee and the torturer. this applies just as well here.

    if it all seems inefficient, all you need to do is think of the following scenario: suppose you are talking about a child whose body became fused to an adult's through some kind of bomb blast (just imagine). it would be a non-starter to simply say, "yeah just kill the child to get to the adult." from the get-go it would be clear that there was a lot to work through before you just chop the body up, no?

    anyway yes...end rant. props to the voyager team for going with a non-humanoid alien for once, yes. it is a refreshing change of pace. also yes to dstyle's comment that the doctor could've just changed moset's appearance. :P

    ultimately i did enjoy this episode since it had the HINT of something deeper...i just like picking shit apart. :D i did sigh in frustration and wish upon a star for something else, but glad we got something more than the average far here...
  • From tigertooth on 2016-11-21 at 3:26pm:
    If I was subjected to awful, unethical research, would I prefer that that the useful information gleaned from the research be discarded or would I prefer that it be used to help save innocent lives?

    I mean, obviously my first preference would be not to be the subject of the inhumane experiments. But once that ship has sailed, might as well use the knowledge to help people. Should we tear up all the railways in this country because they were built with a great deal of slave labor?

    So yeah -- I agree that deleting Moset and his research was dumb, and as others have stated, I was asking "Why don't they just change his appearance?"

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