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Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 1 E 12 Cathexis

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On an away mission, Tuvok and Chakotay's shuttle is attacked by an unknown alien force, leaving Chakotay comatose and seemingly brain-dead. Voyager tries to return to the scene of the attack to find out what happened, but finds that a noncorporeal presence is on board the ship, jumping from body to body and controlling the crew members in an attempt to keep them away.


This episode provides examples of:

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  • 2-D Space: Chakotay uses his medicine wheel to show Voyager how to get out of the nebula.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The magnaton flash scan, used to purge the ship of energy beings (not Chakotay, fortunately).
  • Astral Projection: Chakotay, for most of the episode.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The alien on board is Chakotay's disembodied mind, trying to keep them from returning to the nebula where hostile aliens are waiting to attack Voyager and feed on the crew's neural energy. The real alien is inside Tuvok.
    • The alien appears to have locked down the Doctor's program to force command authorization to revert to Captain Janeway. It's actually Tuvok preventing the Doctor from informing anyone that Kes was taken out by a Vulcan nerve pinch.
  • Blatant Lies: Chakotay apologises for having to knock around Tuvok. You know, that Starfleet mole who infiltrated his crew with the intention of betraying them to the authorities? Tuvok of course replies that no apology is necessary.
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  • Body Surf: Chakotay.
  • Brain Food: The Komar want the bio-neural energy of Voyager's crew, which will feed them for years.
  • Call-Back: The shuttle was returning from a trade mission with the Ilidarians, whom Neelix mentioned in "Parallax".
  • Comically Missing the Point
    • B'Elanna asks Harry's opinion on the latest Techno Babble, only to find him staring into space. Tuvok draws a phaser while B'Elanna scans him with a tricorder, only for an alarmed Harry to reveal he was merely pondering what had just been said.
    • "Mr Neelix, just because a man changes his drink order, doesn't mean he's possessed by an alien."
  • Continuity Nod: The holodeck program takes place in "Ancient England", just as TNG would have such programs set in the "Ancient West".
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: When Kes says she sensed a presence in the room with her, Neelix snaps, "Who was it?"
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  • Cutting the Knot: When the alien starts jumping from one crewmember to another, Tuvok solves the problem by stunning everyone on the bridge with a wide beam shot.
  • Dark Is Evil: As the aliens come from a dark nebula, naturally they turn out to be malevolent.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Janeway asks if the Doctor can handle the responsibility of taking charge of Voyager in an emergency.
      The Doctor: Of course...I make life and death decisions every day.
      Paris: I feel better already.
    • When Neelix demands the Doctor investigate someone who's supposedly Not Himself (just because he changed his order), the Doctor tells him he's being paranoid. He then stares at Neelix with mock suspicion. "In fact, one could say you're acting a bit too paranoid."
  • Dramatic Thunder: Laid on thick for Janeway's holodeck program.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Despite Tuvok being addressed as lieutenant, and listed as such in the opening credits, he's actually been wearing the insignia of a lieutenant commander (two gold and one black pip) for much of the first season. This is the first episode in which he wears the correct insignia (two gold pips).
  • Energy Being: The alien of the week.
  • Fanservice: Normally, medical technology on "Star Trek" is advanced to a point where patients can be treated and even operated on while fully clothed. But Chakotay's injuries require a complete removal of his shirt, for the entire episode, for some reason or another.
  • Foreshadowing: The Doctor is given command authorization of Voyager. Somewhat perturbed, the Doctor asks if that means he's in command. The Doctor will be more eager to become an Emergency Command Hologram in later seasons.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Janeway has the command protocols transferred to the Doctor, as he's the only one who can't be affected by the alien.
    • Janeway has all power diverted to the thrusters including life support, so they can escape the nebula before the Komar break through their shields (but wouldn't that include the power going to the shields?)
  • He's Dead, Jim: The Doctor re Chakotay.
  • Impossible Genius: The brilliant and unappreciated Doctor has no problem putting Chakotay's soul back into his body at the end of the episode.
    Torres: How did you manage to reintegrate his consciousness?
    EMH: It involved three neural transceivers, two cortical stimulators and fifty gigaquads of computer memory. I would be happy to take you through the process, but it would take at least ten hours to explain it all to you. Needless to say, it was a remarkable procedure. I would consider writing a paper about it if there were a convenient forum in which to publish it.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The alien takes over people, uses them to commit sabotage, and they remember nothing about it afterwards.
  • Layman's Terms
    Durst: (alarmed) Non-corporeal? That means it can move right though our bulkheads!
  • Magical Native American: Chakotay and his medicine wheel, which he taught B'Elanna how to use.
  • Mauve Shirt: Ensign Durst has a larger speaking role, so naturally he dies in the next episode.
  • Mirror Scare: While in her holonovel, Janeway goes to shut a window that's come open in the storm, only to see a young woman reflected in the glass. She turns to see a framed painting of Mrs Burleigh on the wall. Then she startles when Lord Burleigh lays a hand on her shoulder.
  • Not Big Enough for the Two of Us: Janeway snarks at Mrs Templeton that surely Lord Burleigh's Big Fancy House is big enough for the two of them.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In-Universe; Captain Janeway isn't happy at their paranoid reaction to Harry Kim (see Comically Missing the Point).
  • Our Dark Matter Is Mysterious: The energy beings live in a dark matter nebula and attacked Chakotay and Tuvok when their shuttle passed it.
  • Paranoia Fuel (In-Universe): Suspicion spreads among the crew with the realization that anyone could be under alien control and working to thwart them.
  • People Puppets: The energy being possesses various members of the crew to do what it wants.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: B'Elanna performs a ritual with Chakotay's medicine wheel; ironically the Doctor knows more about it than she does, as even spiritual healing techniques are part of his programing. He notes that B'Elanna has put Chakotay's stone in the realm of the beautiful Antelope Women. "He may not want to leave."
  • Pressure Point: Kes suffers injury to the trapezius nerve bundle, a clue that she's been Vulcan Nerve Pinched.
  • Pull the Thread: B'Elanna examines the shuttle's logs and finds no sign of the alien ship that Tuvok said attacked them.
  • Psychic Powers: Kes senses the alien presence on board.
  • Red Alert: Tuvok calls an Intruder Alert the moment the Doctor tells them various crewmembers may have been momentarily subjected to Mind Control.
  • Recycled Premise: Instead of "Spock's Brain" we have "Chakotay's Soul".
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam: Chakotay's mind moving about the ship.
  • She Knows Too Much: Kes is rendered unconscious and the Doctor's program is locked down under numerous security codes.
  • Shout-Out: Tom Paris has fond memories of "Doc" Brown.
  • Show Within a Show: This marks the first appearance of Janeway's Gothic romance holonovel.
  • Space Clouds: The dark matter nebula.
  • Spread Shot: When the alien intruder starts taking over members of the bridge crew in succession, Tuvok fires his phaser on wide beam to knock everyone out. When Tuvok's revealed to be hostile, he takes over the bridge by threatening to do it again, with the phaser set to Kill.
  • Terminology Title: Cathexis is defined as the investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea.
    Chakotay: After the attack on the shuttle, I had the sensation of floating above my own body. I thought I was dead.
    Janeway: And when the shuttle returned to Voyager you were still disembodied?
    Chakotay: Yes. I couldn't speak, I couldn't touch anything. But then I found if I concentrated on someone who was in the room with me, I could share their consciousness.
  • Two-Keyed Lock: After the EMH is locked down, Captain Janeway decides to divide Voyager's command authorisation codes between herself and Tuvok, as the alien can't possess two people at once.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never do discover why it's forbidden to enter the fourth floor of Lord Burleigh's mansion, as the holonovel was Cut Short.
  • Wham Line: "The authorization came from Commander Chakotay." Unusual in that, although it changes our understanding of all the previous events of the episode, it does so in a way that's actually good for the protagonists, rather than revealing how screwed they are.
  • What Is This Feeling?: The Doctor underplays the scene where Janeway offers him autonomous control of his on/off switch. This is a man whose needs have never been up for discussion, and he doesn’t quite know how to respond to the offer.
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