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Persistence of Vision (episode)

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"Persistence of Vision"
VOY, Episode 2x08
Production number: 124
First aired: 30 October 1995
23rd of 168 produced in VOY
23rd of 168 released in VOY
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 168 released in VOY Remastered  
383rd of 728 released in all
Little Doctor
Written By
Jeri Taylor

Directed By
James L. Conway
Unknown (2372)
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Voyager crew members experience disturbing and violent hallucinations.

Summary

Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager is on her way to engineering when Lieutenant Tom Paris calls her via combadge to inform her that he has finished plotting a course through Botha space. As Janeway continues toward engineering, Neelix approaches her and warns her that they will have to be careful as they travel through Bothan space. Janeway is short-tempered with Neelix and delays their discussion for later.

When Janeway arrives in engineering, B'Elanna Torres and Harry Kim are ready to test a new system of holo-projection that would allow The Doctor to appear in key areas of the ship other than sickbay and the holodeck. The test fails, however, because when The Doctor appears, his image is miniaturized. Janeway is visibly stressed, rubbing her temples as though she has a headache and raising her voice to the crew. The Doctor orders her to take some time in the holodeck to relax.

In the holodeck, Janeway runs Janeway Lambda one, a Gothic holographic novel (holonovel). The holonovel diverges from its original plot as Lord Burleigh, her employer in the holonovel, declares his love for her character and kisses her. Their embrace is interrupted by the entrance of the housekeeper and Lord Burleigh's children for afternoon tea.

The plot of the holonovel returns to its Gothic storyline as Janeway's character alludes to mysterious piano music coming from the music room and confronts Lord Burleigh about the mysterious goings on in the house, including a forbidden fourth floor corridor. The confrontation is interrupted when Janeway is called to the bridge to communicate with a representative of the Bothan government whose ship has approached Voyager.

When Janeway arrives on the bridge, Neelix warns Janeway that he has heard reports of numerous ships disappearing without explanation in Bothan space. He also warns her that the Bothans fiercely protect their territory from outsiders.

The Bothan representative appears on the viewscreen obscured by strong lighting and orders Voyager to wait for a Bothan ship to rendezvous with Voyager before the Bothans decide if Voyager will be allowed to proceed through Bothan space.

Janeway proceeds to the mess hall with Neelix to continue their discussion and to eat lunch. On the buffet, she sees a plate of cucumber sandwiches eerily similar to the ones on the tea table in Lord Burleigh's mansion in her holonovel. As soon as she has recovered from the shock of the coincidence, Neelix serves her tea in a porcelain cup that appears to resemble exactly the porcelain cup that Beatrice Burleigh, Lord Burleigh's daughter, broke in the holonovel program.

Janeway has convinced herself that these occurrences are coincidences, but as she walks down the corridor, she hears Lord Burleigh's voice reiterating his love for her. When she turns around, though, there is no one there. Then she sees the image of Beatrice Burleigh in the corridor, and Beatrice speaks to Janeway and then vanishes.

Convinced that there is a logical explanation for the appearance of the holonovel objects and characters outside of the holodeck, she returns to engineering to ask B'Elanna Torres and Harry Kim if they have tampered with the holodeck projectors. They insist that they have not, but Janeway has them run a diagnostic on the holodeck systems.

Janeway returns to the holodeck to activate the program so that engineering can perform the diagnostic. Lord Burleigh again tries to kiss her, but she deletes his character. She also returns to the mess hall and asks Neelix about the lunch. She discovers that Neelix did not serve cucumber sandwiches at all; nor did he serve her in a porcelain cup. The appearances were in Janeway's head. She examines the cup he actually served her in, and it is perfectly normal.

Now, Janeway is convinced the problem must be medical, she reports to sickbay to be examined by The Doctor. He finds no brain malfunction to account for her hallucinations. While The Doctor is examining Janeway, Kes, who is assisting him, experiences a strange sensation. Then Beatrice appears to Janeway again. This time, Kes sees the image too. Kes' telepathic presence reflects the image, causing it to disappear into Janeway again.

The Doctor orders Janeway to return to her quarters to rest. In her quarters, she hears the voice of her fiancé, Mark Johnson, who is back on Earth. He claims she no longer loves him but is in love with someone else instead. When she tries to leave her quarters, Mrs. Templeton, the housekeeper from the holonovel, appears with a knife and attacks Janeway. Janeway is roused by Tuvok in sickbay. She has never left sickbay; the entire incident in her quarters was a hallucination.

Janeway relinquishes control of the ship to first officer Chakotay while she undergoes further medical testing. Kes asserts that something strange is happening on the ship and suggests that Janeway may not be the only crew member suffering from it.

Back on the bridge, an alien ship approaches. A Botha representative appears on the viewscreen and questions Chakotay about Voyager's weapon capabilities. Tuvok terminates the transmission while making the termination look accidental. He has encountered suspicious energy readings that may indicate cloaked ships.

Two ships decloak in front of Voyager and the Bothans arm their weapons. The two small ships attack Voyager, causing minor shield damage. Voyager returns fire; meanwhile, Harry Kim discovers that the two smaller ships contain no life signs. He says they must be automated and are being controlled by the larger Bothan ship.

The Bothan ships move to surround Voyager and continue to fire. Voyager cannot evade them, so Chakotay orders a full stop. The Bothan representative appears again on the viewscreen and orders the crew to surrender. Janeway, who has returned to the bridge during the attack, refuses to surrender. The Bothan alien comes forward from the obscuring light on the viewscreen and appears to be Janeway's fiancé, Mark.

Other officers on the bridge see their own friends and loved ones on the screen. The Bothan appears to Tom Paris as Tom's father, to Harry Kim as his girlfriend, and to Tuvok as T'Pel, his wife. Tuvok sees his Vulcan lute on the console in front of him and hallucinates that he is back on Vulcan. While Tuvok experiences these hallucinations, he becomes catatonic. The other bridge officers cannot rouse him.

One by one, members of the crew fall into catatonic states of hallucination. Torres explains that the hallucinations may be caused by a massive bioelectric energy field, or psionic field, coming from the Bothan ships.

Torres proposes remodulating the shields as a temporary defense mechanism while she creates a resonance burst from the warp core to block the field. It is becoming increasingly difficult to accomplish things on the bridge, as everyone of the crew except Janeway, Torres, Chakotay, The Doctor, Paris, and Kes have become catatonic.

While Torres is attempting to create the resonance burst, Chakotay comes to engineering. He says they are the last ones left conscious on the ship and suggests that they take an escape pod. When Torres refuses and insists that they need to continue trying to help the others, Chakotay becomes amorous, declares his desire for Torres, and kisses her. She realizes that it is not the real Chakotay, but she becomes sucked into a sexual fantasy anyhow.

Soon after, Paris also succumbs to a hallucination of his disapproving father, despite resistance. Janeway then decides to go to engineering (no one in engineering is awake) and finds a catatonic Chakotay in the turbolift. On her way to the Bridge, Janeway succumbs to a delusion of Mark, though she resists as well.

After this, Kes and The Doctor are the only ones left, and The Doctor sends Kes to engineering.

Kes will have to create the resonance burst in engineering. On her way, she is delayed by hallucinations of an injured Tom Paris. In engineering, The Doctor walks Kes through the process over an engineering viewscreen. Then, Neelix enters engineering and approaches Kes. He tries to convince her to leave the ship with him, but Kes realizes it is another hallucination designed to prevent her from completing the resonance burst.

The Neelix hallucination becomes angry; suddenly, Kes appears to be covered in boils or burns of some kind. She is in pain, but The Doctor encourages her to confront the hallucination and focus her telepathic energy on it. She does so, and the boils reflect onto the hallucinated Neelix.

KesHallucination

Kes's hallucination

The hallucination returns to its original form, a Bothan alien, and Kes activates the resonance burst, freeing the crew from their catatonic states.

Janeway comes to engineering confronts the weakened alien, questioning him about the motives for his attack; he claims to have perpetrated the attack simply because he can. Janeway also questions him about the telepathic attack and asks whether it was caused by telepathy alone or technology.

Janeway says she will destroy the alien's technology, if there is technology involved, or lock up the alien. However, the alien claims he is not really there and vanishes. The Bothan ships vanish too.

The ship returns to normal, but Captain Janeway admits that there are a number of unanswered questions about the incident. While sitting in the mess hall, Janeway and Torres discuss the incident and Janeway suggests that the alien may have done them a favor by forcing them to confront their buried emotions.

Log entries

  • Captain's log, supplemental. We have no explanation for the mysterious disappearance of the telepathic alien. We can't even be certain that he was actually here. He seems to have left us with any number of unanswered questions.

Memorable Quotes

"You're a powerful little thing."

- Botha Alien, speaking about Kes


"I'd like to be able to accommodate you, but you see... I'm not really here."

- Botha Alien, when confronted by Captain Janeway


"It's not even tempting."

- Tom Paris to Captain Janeway when she urges him not to look at the viewscreen through which an image of his father is yelling at him

Background Information

Story and script

  • Executive producer Jeri Taylor had been eager to do this episode since the first season of Star Trek: Voyager but faced opposition from Paramount studio executives. She recalled, "It was a show that I had wanted to do since last year. I got a great deal of opposition from the studio, in both story and script form. They thought it was a very soft story and they just didn't get it. They want more fights and more aliens. They weren't high on this at all and didn't want it to appear as early in the year as it did." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Fellow executive producer Michael Piller remarked, "This was a script that [Jeri Taylor] was struggling mightily with." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 77) Taylor was busy at work on this episode while executive story editor Kenneth Biller, with Michael Piller's assistance, was preparing to write a second draft of "Initiations". (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 76)
  • A working title of this episode was "Untitled Janeway". [1]
  • At least one of the reasons Torres and Kim work on fitting holoprojectors around Voyager in this episode is that the production team of Star Trek: Voyager had, by this point in the series' run, become fed up with The Doctor almost always being confined to sickbay. (Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 286)
  • The final draft of the episode's script was submitted on 4 August 1995. [2]

Cast and characters

  • Chakotay actor Robert Beltran was intrigued by and enjoyed the scene that involves Torres experiencing a passionate, Botha-induced hallucination featuring a seductive Chakotay. "That was a fun one," the actor enthused, "That was very interesting to me because it revealed in Torres how she might be feeling about Chakotay. This entity reveals all of our fantasies, and we got to see how she feels about him." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #7)
  • Torres actress Roxann Dawson did not, on the other hand, interpret the fantasy scene as signifying that her character was in love with Chakotay. Indirectly referring to the Botha, Dawson related, "I felt that the strength of that alien, the way he could get to us as humans, was that he understands the deep need, whether you're a Vulcan, or a half-Klingon or whatever, that we all have to love and to be loved. The things that would put us into those trances were very deep needs. I think for B'Elanna, it wasn't a reflection of a direct attraction to Chakotay. He represents so much to her, a father figure, a mentor, her teacher, her coworker, and he is an attractive man. I think it was a desire to give in to a side that she does not give into easily, and that was what caused her particular trance. I don't think that necessarily means that he is always on her mind. It probably took her by surprise [....] It was more of a reflection of her need to please, to fulfill, all of these things are very real, very human [....] I didn't read it [as an implication that Torres just desired Chakotay] when I read the script. It did say something about all of the characters who succumbed to those needs of wanting to love and to be loved, those things that we shove away, and push away, and don't want to deal with." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 103)

Production

  • This was the first episode that James L. Conway directed after helming the feature-length fourth season opener "The Way of the Warrior" for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Michael Piller said of Conway's work on this episode, "I think James Conway did a fabulous job in making something out of a fairly average story into an excellent piece of television." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 86)
  • Roxann Dawson and Robert Beltran found that filming the fantasy scene involving B'Elanna Torres and an imaginary Chakotay was a hilarious experience. Dawson later said of "Persistence of Vision", "All I remember from that one was not being able to stop laughing when we were doing the love scene between Chakotay and me. Robert Beltran and I just kept cracking each other up." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #12)
  • One aspect of this episode's production that Mrs. Templeton actress Carolyn Seymour enjoyed was the filming of the scene in which her character attacks Janeway. Shortly after working on the episode, the actress remarked, "Recently, we actually shot a scene where we had a cat fight. One of the directors wanted to take it out but we are hoping we can keep it in, and I think we will get to. It was really good and we enjoyed shooting it." (Star Trek Monthly issue 17)

Effects

  • The Botha alien uses a Kazon ship as one of his illusory vessels. The other illusory ship is not identified. However, the oft-reused studio model for the Talarian observation craft was used for the unidentified craft here and, this time, it was redressed with a purple glow from its nacelles.
  • The shot of Tuvok miraculously finding himself on Vulcan incorporates a section from a matte painting that was used in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home for its background. (See File:HMS Bounty leaves Vulcan.jpg)

Continuity

  • According to Jeri Taylor, this episode "began Janeway on a journey she needs to take, which is resolving the matter of her lover, Mark." Taylor added, "We cannot put her into romantic situations until she decides he has given her up for dead and moved on, and the only wise thing for her to do is the same." (Where No One Has Gone Before)
  • "Persistence of Vision" was also the working title for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine season two episode "Shadowplay".
  • This is the third of three episodes that feature Janeway's Gothic holonovel, holosuite program Janeway Lambda one. The holonovel had originally been developed for "Eye of the Needle" but was not shown onscreen until "Cathexis". (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager) It had subsequently appeared in "Learning Curve" before appearing in this episode. Of the holonovel, Jeri Taylor stated, "In my heart I would like to see [Janeway] sort of finish this novel and start another one next season. Whether that will happen, I cannot say. We may return to a different holonovel for her, but [...] I thought it was great fun [....] We wrote a conclusion in which everything got knitted up, because I thought it was a shame to just leave it." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) The follow-up conclusion to the Gothic holonovel was ultimately never produced, however.
  • This is the only episode of the series to address B'Elanna Torres' attraction to Chakotay. However, the issue is additionally raised in the novel Pathways by Jeri Taylor, the same person who wrote this episode. Robert Beltran considered that Torres' fantasy involving Chakotay might be a sign of things to come. "Maybe he'll feel the same for her," the actor speculated midway through the second season. "That's not quite confirmed, but it's possible and it sets the stage for some further development of their relationship." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #7) However, Roxann Dawson dismissed the possibility that her character might become romantically involved with Chakotay. She commented, "People can interpret B'Elanna's feelings for Chakotay in a lot of different ways. I see Chakotay as a combination of mentor and father figure for B'Elanna. She might have some romantic feelings towards him in a kind of Freudian sense, but I don't see them getting together on any other level than as a mentor and pupil." (Star Trek Monthly issue 20)
  • The color of the warp core changes in this episode from a pinkish-blue to a whitish-blue and stays this way until the end of the series.

Reception

  • Once this episode was produced, the initial fears of the Paramount studio executives were put to rest. "It got made and everybody loved it," Jeri Taylor remembered, "Then we got all the phone calls that said, 'Wow, that turned out well.' I knew it was going to work." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Michael Piller was also pleased with the episode's final form. He remarked, "The show turned out particularly well, yet it's not a show that is about anything." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 86)
  • The surreal quality of this episode was somewhat apt, considering that it first aired a day before Halloween. (Delta Quadrant, p. 78)
  • This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 6.1 million homes and a 9% share. This episode tied the earlier Season 2 installment "Projections" as fourth most watched episode of Voyager's second season (on first airing). It had the same Nielsen rating as "Projections" but a slightly lower share percentage than that episode. [3] Despite its high ratings, this episode has repeatedly failed to appear in the top five of fan polls testing the popularity of episodes in Star Trek: Voyager's second season. (Star Trek: Communicator issue #108, p. 18; [4])
  • Fans who viewed this episode included actor Robert Picardo's two young daughters, who took delight in repeatedly watching their father in this installment. Picardo noted, "Their all-time favorite is the one [when] they shrunk me down to the size of a fire hydrant. They got a big kick out of that, couldn't keep their fingers off the rewind button on the VCR." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 92)
  • Star Trek Monthly gave this episode 4 out of 5 stars, defined as "Trill-powered viewing". (Star Trek Monthly issue 13, p. 50)
  • Cinefantastique gave the installment 2 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 84)
  • The reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 78) scored the episode 7 out of 10.
  • An element of this installment that did not garner much audience appreciation was Janeway's holonovel. In fact, the lack of appreciation for the Gothic simulation was the reason it did not continue after this episode. Jeri Taylor remarked, "That was one of those things that we were not getting the feedback from the fans that seemed to justify its continuing. A lot of people had problems with Janeway being in what would be considered a servile position. A lot of people just aren't fans, as I am, of Gothic novels and just sort of didn't get it." Taylor subsequently remarked that, although she had enjoyed the holonovel, she was "never afraid to cut our losses if something isn't working." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages)
  • Another plot element that drew complaints from fans was the romantic fantasy scene between Torres and Chakotay, as some fans feared that the scene weakened Torres' character. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 86) Surprised by this response, Roxann Dawson laughed and exclaimed, "So many people gave me such flak about that, as if I had written it. It was amazing, the letters, and the comments. Mostly the women really spoke out strongly against it, and felt that it was a cop-out. I totally disagreed with that." Moments after subsequently remarking that the surprise she believed B'Elanna felt at the content of her own vision was probably equal to the audience's surprise at the sequence, Dawson further commented, "At [Star Trek] conventions, a lot of people [were] feeling that the writers just felt that the only thing B'Elanna was about, was being in love with Chakotay. That wasn't what the message was at all." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 103)
  • Both Jeri Taylor and Michael Piller believed this episode had a positive impact on the success of subsequent episodes in Voyager's second season. Taylor reckoned, "I may be wrong about this, but it was the first show of the season that got a little buzz coming from the audience." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) At the end of the same season, Michael Piller said, "We needed anything we could get in the beginning of the season. It wasn't until Jeri's script 'Persistence of Vision' marked the beginning of the turn [....] We started building on that momentum and I think if you look from that show on we consistently started doing interesting things." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 77)
  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series (along with DS9: "Our Man Bashir").

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-star

Uncredited co-stars

References

Ashmore; biogenic field; Baxial; Botha; brig; Class M; coffee; cucumber sandwich; Earth; electrolyte; Federation; fried murt cake; Janeway Lambda one; Davenport, Lucie; engineering; Lieutenant Hargrove; holodeck; holonovel; holo-projector; ice cream; Johnson, Mark; Kazon; Libby; magnetic plasma constriction; mess hall; Milky Way Galaxy; Mithren; Mollie; Mozart; multiphasic scan; niccel strips; photon torpedoes; piano; plasma leak; psionic field; Seltin pâté; Seltin wood fungus; Starfleet's interactive database; Starfleet regulations; telepathy; turbolift; vegetable bouillon; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan lute; wood throk


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