(written from a Production point of view)
|"In the Flesh"|
|VOY, Episode 5x04|
Production number: 198
First aired: 4 November 1998
|←||97th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||97th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||536th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Voyager finds a station containing a disturbingly accurate re-creation of Starfleet Command and Starfleet Academy by Species 8472.
In what is seemingly San Francisco on Earth, in the grounds of Starfleet Academy, an old man tends some flowers. About him, bright young Starfleet cadets walk to and fro. The sky is bright and sunny; a perfect day.
A distinguished looking Starfleet admiral addresses a group of just graduated and commissioned officers. In a no-nonsense tone, the admiral introduces himself as Admiral Bullock. He welcomes them and invites them to direct any questions or comments they have to him. From afar, an officer is seen to be watching them using a holo-imager and taking pictures. It is revealed to be the USS Voyager's first officer, Commander Chakotay.
Chakotay is taking some scans when the same old man who was tending the flowers comes up behind him, jokes that his tricorder scans are unnecessary, and identifies the plants. Chakotay chuckles, and smoothly responds that his tricorder is malfunctioning. The old man introduces himself as Boothby. Boothby asks him about his posting. Chakotay makes up a story about being assigned to the USS Intrepid patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone. Boothby advises him to get a new tricorder from Logistical Support. He is on the way to that area himself. Before they start off, Chakotay makes sure to get an image of him.
Chakotay enters the officers' club, the Quantum Café, sits in an empty seat and thumbs through a book. A Human female commander approaches him and introduces herself as Valerie Archer. They sit and talk amicably when suddenly an officer sitting in a corner begins gagging and spasming in agony. Strangely enough, no one seems alarmed; two officers just drag him away and that is all. Archer turns back to Chakotay and tensely asks him if he has ever reverted. He responds nonchalantly, not yet. She identifies the officer as Ensign O'Halloran, and comments that he will be pulled out of training if this happens to him again. She states that she can keep her Human form, but complains about things she has to put up with in that form such as sleeping, breathing oxygen and bipedal locomotion. Chakotay merely smiles. He then tells her that he is new, and she makes a date with him that evening to show him around.
Lt. Commander Tuvok approaches them and politely tells Chakotay that they have to leave. After the two Voyager officers get out of earshot, Chakotay tells him he has gained useful information about what is happening here. They leave the club, heading to prearranged transporter coordinates. Suddenly an ensign accosts them, telling them they are in a restricted area and need to accompany him. They refuse, and when the ensign insists, Tuvok drops him with a Vulcan nerve pinch. They catch him as he falls and Chakotay taps his combadge to be beamed back to the Delta Flyer piloted by Tom Paris. The Flyer turns and leaves orbit, not around Earth, but an alien space station.
The ensign wakes up to find himself in Voyager's sickbay, agitatedly asking where he is. He begins to act angry, threatening to report his abduction to "the admiral". Janeway impatiently tells him to cut the act: they know he is not Human. She demands his identity. He identifies himself as David Gentry, rank ensign, serial number: 99-Beta-3278, planet of origin: Earth. Janeway coldly responds that they are not interested in his knowledge of Human culture and that they are not part of his re-creation. The petrified ensign repeats his POW-style self-identification, maintaining that Earth is his homeworld.
When Janeway realizes that she is obviously not going to get any answers out of him, she asks The Doctor to take a genetic sample from him. The ensign desperately taps his combadge, to no avail and then suddenly springs off the bio-bed and backs against a wall, screaming. His head snaps back and he collapses. According to The Doctor, he has released a cellular toxin into his bloodstream and is dead.
In astrometrics, Chakotay and Tuvok show Janeway and the other senior officers the images that Chakotay has taken, and report on what they have learned. These aliens, whoever and whatever they are, have carefully reconstructed not just Starfleet Academy, but the entire Starfleet Command complex. Seven of Nine reports that she has determined the nature of the alien station: it is essentially a huge holographic facility. The Doctor hails Janeway and reports that he is ready to begin his autopsy of the alien. Before she leaves to go to sickbay, she orders them to search for any tactical vulnerabilities the station may have.
In sickbay, The Doctor informs Janeway that the alien is most definitely not Human. It has been altered genetically on an extremely sophisticated level and only micro-cellular scans could distinguish it from a real Human. When he administers a cytokinetic injection to reverse the process, it is revealed to be Species 8472.
Janeway immediately calls a meeting of her senior staff and informs them of the aliens' identity. They now have no doubt the re-creation is for sinister motives. Species 8472 had made their intention to purge their galaxy of all life very clear. Now, they have re-created Starfleet Command and are training to pose as Starfleet officers. The whole thing reeks of preparation for invasion - possibly of Earth. Janeway orders Tuvok to continue searching for a tactical weakness in the station, and orders Seven to immediately begin re-manufacturing the modified Borg nanoprobes, in large numbers.
Captain Janeway orders the entire crew to report to the Doctor for DNA testing, to ensure that no impostor is aboard. The Doctor certifies Chakotay and Tuvok respectively as genuinely Human and Vulcan. With that settled, Chakotay goes off to keep his date with "Commander Valerie Archer". He, Lt. Paris and Ensign Kim return to the facility on the Delta Flyer. They arrive, remaining beyond sensor range, but within transporter range, and Chakotay beams in.
In Voyager's sickbay, Seven and the Doctor observe the newly-manufactured modified Borg nanoprobes. She has taken the precaution of increasing their mobility and efficiency in case the aliens developed a defense against them in the year since their first encounter. While The Doctor hopes they will be able to solve this through more diplomatic channels, Seven merely scoffs at the idea that Species 8472 would even acknowledge the concept of diplomacy.
It is "night" in the re-creation. Chakotay enters the "Quantum Cafe" and finds "Archer" sitting at a table with "Boothby". "Boothby" takes his leave and Chakotay sits with "Archer". They decide to go dancing. Sometime later, they return to her quarters. The date has apparently gone well. The conversation turns to Humans. She marvels at the ability of "such a violent species" to create so many beautiful ways to express their ideas through art, music, literature and so on. But, she insists, they are dangerous, quick to attack any species that is not part of their Federation. After a while she feels the need for an isomorphic injection to preserve her Human form, so she excuses herself and leaves the room. While she is gone, Chakotay goes to her computer terminal and downloads all data in it.
Chakotay's attempts to try and introduce doubt about her perception of Humans fail, as she insists their threat is grave. He drops the subject, not wanting to push too much and possibly arouse suspicion. He excuses himself, telling her he has a tactical report to finish for the next morning. However, before he leaves, she touches his face and kisses him, saying that Human dating rituals are part of their training. Initially somewhat reluctant he finally caves in.
After he leaves, she takes scans of her skin that touched Chakotay's and immediately contacts "Boothby"; Chakotay's cover has been blown wide open. He asks her how much she thinks he knows. She cannot say, but recommends his capture and interrogation.
Chakotay is walking past an ornamental lake when the sky instantly shifts from dark night to bright day. He looks around, startled, to see he is being followed. Worse, along all the paths, several of the aliens in their ersatz forms are converging on him. Realizing immediately his cover is no more, he tries to hail the Flyer, but gets no response and is finally captured.
Captain Janeway is in her ready room with Seven and clearly conflicted over something. Starfleet Directive 010, she tells Seven, mandates that any and all attempts at diplomatic resolution must be made before engaging an alien species in battle. In Species 8472's case, they did that and barely survived. Military engagement therefore appears to be the only course of action. Yet, Janeway cannot get this directive out of her mind.
Chakotay is interrogated by "Boothby" in the empty "Quantum Cafe". He demands to know how they found them. Chakotay responds that it was due to the detection of what appeared to be a Federation frequency. Of course, they tracked its source. "Boothby" demands other information about their planned attack, but Chakotay insists that a war is not being planned against them.
"Admiral Bullock" enters. He acts deferentially toward "Boothby", indicating that this alien is, in fact, the operation's commander. He informs "Boothby" of Voyager's approach. "Boothby" orders battle stations, ignoring Chakotay's insistence that Captain Janeway is coming only to retrieve him, not attack.
Janeway orders Voyager brought into weapons range, and orders Seven, at the auxiliary tactical station, to target the facility's weapons array. Seven suggests that its power systems be targeted as well. But, even on the brink of hostilities, Janeway looks for a way to avoid casualties, if not belligerence altogether. She does not want to risk harming the aliens' life support. Seven insists that they are undeserving of compassion. Janeway sharply responds that this is not the time for an ethical debate and angrily repeats the order. A hail comes through: "Boothby" greets her cordially. She sarcastically asks him if he is enjoying the Delta Quadrant. In response, he snaps that the weapons at his disposal allow him to destroy Voyager with but a single command. He asks her to retreat.
Janeway, of course, refuses to go anywhere until he returns her first officer and provides a good explanation as to why they are again in the Milky Way. She informs him of the weapons she has trained on them; weapons whose potency against them he is well aware of, reminding him of the heavy casualties his species suffered the last time they engaged each other. She comments that an armed conflict is not going to solve their problems and proposes a meeting.
In Voyager's briefing room, representatives of the two sides are gathered. "Boothby" angrily denounces the Federation and its values of tolerance for all species and the Prime Directive as "targ manure".
Janeway insists that the Federation adheres to its directives. "Bullock" counters that her actions say differently, and accuses them of infiltrating their re-creation, capturing and killing one of their people. "Bullock" angrily continues, further accusing them of creating biological weapons to use against them, and being allies of the Borg. Janeway denies all charges, stating that Seven is no longer part of the Borg collective. She tries to convince "Boothby" that the Federation is not set out to get or destroy them, but when the aliens keep questioning each and every one of her points, Janeway soon realizes that this is getting nowhere. She asserts that there is only one way to prove that they speak the truth, namely trusting each other.
She then orders Seven to disarm the nanoprobe warheads to prove their point. She calmly responds that one of them has to take their finger off the trigger and that she will be the one. "Boothby" is struck by her action. He agrees to continue, but insists that they get to the issues that are the bones of contention. Janeway explains that, far from informing Starfleet about them, Voyager is, in fact, alone in the quadrant and has not had any contact with the Federation for the past four years. She explains that at the time they engaged Species 8472, they were unaware that the Borg had started the war against them and were acting in self defense.
"Bullock", unimpressed by Janeway's standing down of Voyager's weapons, urges "Boothby" to say nothing. "Archer", however, has been won over and informs the Starfleet side that their mission is solely reconnaissance.
"Bullock" still insists that they should not negotiate with them. "Boothby" orders him to return to his seat. "Archer" stands her ground. She tells them that after seeing through Human eyes, she now wonders as to the veracity of their belief of the Humans' violent nature. "Bullock" insists that they cannot risk trusting them. She retorts by demanding of him if he would rather risk another war.
After a long discussion, "Boothby" is finally ready to go along, but insists some pre-conditions must be met, namely she must grant them access to the modified nanoprobe technology to study it. Janeway agrees, in return for access to the genetic manipulation techniques they use for appearing Human. The spirit of détente has been created.
Seven is not at all convinced that this diplomatic dealing will work. Janeway exhorts her to have a little faith and asks her if she wants to come to the facility; it would be her first look at Earth. Seven declines; she prefers to stay aboard in case any problems arise. Janeway confidently assures her there will be none.
On the grounds of the Starfleet Command recreation, a distinguished looking "Starfleet admiral" addresses Tuvok and Neelix. They are here to see some of the facility's technology. With the "admiral" is a "Vulcan Starfleet lieutenant". The "admiral" introduces himself as Admiral Bullock. He welcomes them to the facility and invites them to direct any questions or comments they have to him.
Janeway and "Boothby" walk along a path, talking. He welcomes them to stay for a while as they will not be returning to fluidic space for a few days yet, but she declines, saying she would like to get back on course for the real Earth. As they stop at a fence by an ornamental lake, she asks him concernedly about the chances of him being listened to. He responds that he cannot promise anything but that he will tell them what has happened, and perhaps that will win some of them over.Janeway expresses hope that the process will lead to full diplomatic relations between their species. He has Voyager's com frequency, should he need to contact them.
As a final gesture, "Boothby" gives her a large, lovely, genetically-engineered rose, just like the ones the real Boothby used to give her.
Chakotay and "Archer" walk together one last time. She tells him she is looking forward to returning home to fluidic space and resuming her true form. He compliments her on making a terrific Human, and she offers to give him a tour of their realm sometime. Before parting, she kisses him again telling him that this attempt was better.
Voyager is seen pulling away from the station, resuming course for home.
- Captain's log, supplemental. Until we know exactly what's going on I'm keeping Voyager concealed behind a Class 3 moon.
- Captain's log, Stardate 52136.4. We've managed to avoid a military conflict with Species 8472, at least for now. In an effort to strengthen the truce we're exchanging technology.
"Don't get sassy with me, young lady! This re-creation may be Starfleet but our weapons are far more sophisticated. I can destroy your vessel with a single command. Run along, now."
- - Boothby
"Targ manure! 'United Federation of Planets'... 'tolerance for all species'... the 'Prime Directive'... targ manure, every word of it!"
- - Boothby
"Humans! You've got a flair for the dramatic, I'll give you that. You want to keep talking? Fine by me. But no more beating around the bush! Now what do you want from us? The truth, captain!"
- - Boothby, to Janeway
"Once a Borg... always a Borg."
- - Boothby
"First of all, I want to take a look at that nanoprobe technology - it scares the hell out of me!""
- - Boothby to Janeway, laying some "ground rules"
"Just be home before midnight."
- - Captain Janeway to Chakotay (an allusion to Cinderella)
"I've always wondered what it would be like to date an alien."
"I'll take notes."
- - Harry Kim and Chakotay
"There are no secrets except the secrets that keep themselves"
- - Chakotay quoting George Bernard Shaw
Story and Script
- Writer and story editor Nick Sagan commented that the original idea for this episode was much different from how the installment turned out. "It was an idea that they found a picture in some database of an 8472 in an ancient Earth culture, and it was that some of our legends of demons and devils were from 8472. That was sort of the initial way we got into it. It was kind of tricky, having Voyager on the opposite side of the galaxy from home. What are those guys doing with Earth? How does that fit together?" 
- Developing the episode's narrative was challenging. Nick Sagan reflected, "We went at it hammer and tongs for a while and we couldn't find anything that we all liked, so I was able to try and reinvent it [....] I took the idea of paranoia, and that these things don't understand what it is to be Human." 
- According to the unauthorized reference books Delta Quadrant (p. 259) and Beyond the Final Frontier (p. 322), Nick Sagan wanted the disguised Species 8472 habitat in this episode to be an allegory for the "sleeper" villages that, according to myth, were used as training camps by the KGB to infiltrate agents into the West during the Cold War. In a 2003 interview, Sagan confirmed the Cold War influence. "I took the idea of Cold War fears, especially the way my dad tried to play a role in détente." 
- At first, the episode featured a large-scale, interstellar conflict. "The way we originally conceived that story, there was going to be a big space battle," said executive producer Brannon Braga. "We realized that this should not be a story about a space battle, it should be a story about discovering peace between two paranoid races who were thrust against each other by a common foe, the Borg. Suddenly it became a very Star Trek-y episode." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 11, p. 29) Nick Sagan concurred, "The original idea didn't end quite so 'happy happy.' The so-called neutering of 8472 wasn't supposed to happen [....] The original story as I envisioned it had just kind of a moment of realization of 'maybe we're not so different,' the hint that there could be some possibilities. But then reinforcements arrive, and Voyager has to escape, and who knows if we've actually done something good there. But once we got involved, I think Brannon actually wanted to resolve it." 
- The writing of the scene involving Boothby, Valerie Archer and Admiral Bullock in Voyager's briefing room was particularly difficult. Brannon Braga, in fact, referred to the scene as "the hardest scene [of the episode] to write" and affirmed that it was "because there is not a single shot fired." He added, "You had to be satisfied that you had a climax, but it was a climax of diplomacy." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 11, p. 29)
- Nick Sagan remembered how he devised Valerie Archer's surname. "I really wanted to name the character Archer as a homage to Dave Bowman of 2001 and to my father's character Ellie Arroway [from Contact]. You put bow and arrow together and you get Archer." 
- Similarly, the book Delta Quadrant (p. 260) hypothesizes that Chakotay's alias of Jason Hayek is likely a reference to the actress Salma Hayek.
- Budget constraints led to the last-minute removal of several effects sequences from this episode. Nick Sagan explained, "The original 'In The Flesh' had a lot of great, amazing special effects, including a dream sequence of 8472 just razing Janeway's home town on Earth, which would have been really cool." 
Cast, Filming Locations, Production and Music
- Actor Tucker Smallwood portrayed Admiral Bullock in this episode while suffering from the paralyzing condition known as Bell's palsy. "People would say, you looked so stern and so implacable," Smallwood recalled, "and I said that's the only expression I had, if I tried to do anything else only one side of my face would work so I had this one expression and it was very rigid and stiff and arbitrary." 
- Director David Livingston was pleased with the interiors of this episode. "I thought [production designer] Richard James did a wonderful job on designing the sets," Livingston remarked. "I thought the bar and the apartment were spectacular sets." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 31)
- The exteriors of Starfleet Headquarters were, as usual, filmed at the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant. A nighttime shot of San Francisco – including the Golden Gate Bridge – was actually stock footage reused here, having previously appeared in both Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and the second season Voyager installment "Non Sequitur".
- It was at a production meeting, while discussing the installment's budget, that the decision was made to lessen the episode's quantity of effects. Nick Sagan recalled the meeting; "I was sitting right next to Brannon and he'd go, 'Okay, scratch that off the list!'" 
- This episode was filmed (or at least entered production) in July 1998. Just before the episode started shooting, Brannon Braga was interviewed (on a typically hot Los Angeles afternoon in that month) by Star Trek Monthly reporter Lou Anders. (Star Trek Monthly issue 44, pp. 10, 13 & 14)
- As David Livingston was so happy with the sets of this installment, he tried to prominently feature them. "'I shot them with really wide-angle lenses so you can see them," he noted. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 31)
- Valerie Archer's prop book, A Cave Beyond Logic: Vulcan Perspectives on Platonic Thought, is a reuse of the Selected Works of Jirex seen in VOY: "Demon", which itself was a reuse of Kamin's diary from TNG: "The Inner Light". (citation needed • edit)
- When Chakotay is captured amid Species 8472's simulation of Starfleet Headquarters, the music resembles a Species 8472 theme that originally debuted in the third season finale "Scorpion". (Delta Quadrant, p. 260)
- This is the last of four episodes that centrally feature Species 8472, other such outings being Season 3's "Scorpion" as well as the fourth season installments "Scorpion, Part II" and "Prey". Following this episode, they also appear in a holophoto in the later Season 5 outing "Someone to Watch Over Me".
- Seven of Nine wears a new style of bodysuit in this episode. This two-tone blue bodysuit, which is the fifth different style for her, is a departure from her past ones, as this is the first one to have large sections in different colors: light blue sleeves and a darker blue for the torso and legs. It has a lower neckline compared with the silver version.
- Chakotay mentions that his last visit to the real Starfleet HQ was on March 3, 2368, in order to resign his commission and fight with the Maquis. The Maquis did not actually come into being until after the formation of the DMZ in 2370, as shown in DS9: "The Maquis, Part I". Furthermore, Ro Laren (in TNG: "Preemptive Strike") describes a Lieutenant Commander who was in Advanced Tactical Training with her and resigned to join the Maquis; this was supposedly a reference to Chakotay.
- Chakotay mentions an Admiral Nimembeh, who he presented his resignation to. This is a reference to the Jeri Taylor novel Pathways, which depicts Nimembeh as an instructor at Starfleet Academy who, while he only briefly teaches Chakotay, became a harsh mentor to then-Cadet Harry Kim. Although the events of the novel were considered canon, this episode causes a discrepancy as Nimembeh was a Commander during Kim's time at the Academy, which was also the time that Chakotay handed in his resignation. As the events of the TV series supersede those of the books, this indicates there were either two Nimembeh's in Starfleet or the Nimembeh at the Academy who taught Kim was an Admiral rather than a Commander.
- This episode marks the only appearance of the type 1 phaser on the series and its final appearance in the franchise.
- According to The Doctor, when testing the crew, Voyager has 128 crew members on board, including himself. This is a loss of roughly 24 since the crews integrated at the beginning of the series. Actually 25, since Seven of Nine joined later.
- Brannon Braga was ultimately proud of the difficult-to-write briefing room scene involving Boothby. "I think it really worked," Braga noted. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 29)
- Nick Sagan was "pretty happy" with the final version of the episode in general.  He was especially impressed with the installment's visual effects, enthusing, "I think it's a very cool looking episode with 8472 morphing on the table and such." 
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 5.2, 12 April 1999
- As part of the VOY Season 5 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Special guest star
- Dieter Hornemann as Kinis
- Sam Vanny as a Starfleet cadet
- Unknown actors as
2368; A Cave Beyond Logic: Vulcan Perspectives on Platonic Thought; Alpha Quadrant; Archer, Valerie; Astrometrics; Badlands; bamboo; Beyond the Galactic Edge, Humanity's Quest for Infinity; bioscan; bloodwine; Bolian sector; Boothby; Bullock; capillary scan; cellular toxin; chopsticks; class 3 moon; class 10 photon torpedo; class reunion; coffee shop; colorful metaphor; Template:ShipClass; cytokinetic injection; Deep Space 7; Delta Flyer; Delta Quadrant; Directive 010; Earth; Embarcadero; Template:ShipClass; Federation; Federation Council; Federation database; Ferengi; field commission; fluidic space; gagh; Template:ShipClass; genetic extraction; Gentry, David; gin; Hayek, Jason; Hesterman; hologram; holo-imager; Hor'Cha, IKS; Interspecies Ethics; Intrepid, USS; isodyne relay; isomorphic injection; Japanese; kilometer; Kinis; Klingon; Klingon martini; Larsen; Lawrence, D.H.; logic; Logistical Support; Lopez; manure; maple tree; Maquis; Market Street; microcellular scan; midnight orchid; Milky Way Galaxy; nanoprobes; Night Owl; Namimby; Template:ShipClass; O'Halloran; Orbital Flight Control; particle synthesis; pattern buffer; Petri dish; Picard, Jean-Luc; pon farr; Quantum Café; red alert; Reiskin; replimat; Richardson; Romulan; Romulan Neutral Zone; San Francisco; Shaw, George Bernard; sheep; single malt; Soviet Union; Species 8472; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet Astrophysics; Starfleet database; Starfleet Intelligence; Starfleet Medical; suicide; tactical alert; Tactical Analysis; targ; teetotaler; Terrasphere 8; thermionic generator; transoptic datalink; tricorder; type 1 phaser; vermouth; Vulcans; Vulcan nerve pinch; Vulcan nightclub; wolf; World War III; yellow alert; Young
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