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Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 3 E 11 "Macrocosm"

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Ohhhh, you pissed Janeway off now.
Captain Janeway and Neelix return to Voyager to find the crew immobilized by a mysterious alien threat, a 'macro-virus' that can grow to enormous size.

This episode has the following tropes:

  • Accidental Unfortunate Gesture: Janeway's habit of putting her hands on her hips causes a diplomatic incident, as it's one of the worst insults imaginable for the Tak Tak, a species that communicates through body language. This was actually an inside joke as Kate Mulgrew would often unconsciously do it during filming.
  • Action Girl: This episode appears to exist for the sole purpose of establishing Captain Janeway's right to follow in the footsteps of Sigourney Weaver. She succeeds admirably.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Lots of crawling through Jeffries tubes.
    EMH: Who designed this ship anyway?
  • Artistic License Biology: We have viruses(!) which can grow in size up to a meter in diameter, fly, hover in the air, and the larger ones are apparently strong enough to carry people. It turns out that they could do it by absorbing the infectee's growth hormones.
  • Artistic License Space: When Voyager's environmentals go offline, the ship rapidly becomes extremely hot and they treat it like their air-conditioning is now essentially on the fritz. However because vacuum is a very poor conductor, spacecraft have to be engineered in such a way that they can expel and eliminate waste heat from their systems as rapidly and efficiently as possible to prevent them from overheating (this is best demonstrated in Apollo 13 where, as with the real Apollo 13 disaster, the crew were subject to brutally cold temperatures while using the unpowered LEM as a lifeboat). This means that even allowing for a lot of heat being put out by the warp core and other systems, the temperature aboard Voyager should begin dropping due to the ship's cooling systems (which would not be part of environmental, the same way that your car's AC isn't run by its radiator) eliminating all of the waste heat.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The Doctor is immune to the macrovirus, but the larger ones prevent him intervening by attacking his mobile emitter.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: Janeway forces open the Sickbay doors only to find herself looking into a phaser brandished by the Doctor.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Doctor expressed an interest in studying this bizarre life form. Well, you got it. However, it proved all right in the end because he cured what used to be a 100% fatal plague.
  • Big, Bulky Bomb: Janeway puts together an 'antigen bomb' with a conspicuous red digit timer. It gets knocked out of her hands and counts down while Janeway battles a macrovirus at knife-point. She kills the creature and tosses the bomb into the holodeck Just in Time.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Tak Tak, who have a ridge running from the forehead, down their nose that then separated from their face over their mouth before reconnecting back to their chin; meaning that evolution gave them something that actually hinders the simple act of eating.
  • Body Horror: Elements of this in how the virus infects someone, then swarm out of a welt in their neck once they're too big for their host body.
  • Brick Joke: In her final conversation with the Tak Tak, Janeway puts her hands on her hips again. Fortunately the consul has already ended his transmission.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Neelix corrects Janeway's statement that he has fluid in his lungs to the singular, after his Organ Theft by the Vidiians.
    • The Doctor makes use of the autonomous emitter he got in "Future's End" for his first Away Mission.
    • Tom points out that B'Elanna shouldn't get sick as Klingons have a redundant stomach. The fact that Klingons have a duplicate set of organs is mentioned in the ST:TNG episode "Ethics".
  • Deadly Euphemism: Janeway is about to activate the environmental controls to spread the antigen when the Tak Tak attack.
    Consul [on monitor]: The Garan Mining Colony infected. We purified them. Your distress call received. Voyager infected. We are purifying you.
    Janeway: Purifying? You're trying to destroy us!
  • Die Hard on Voyager: Albeit without any villains to engage in Snark-to-Snark Combat with.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Their first encounter with the macrovirus is when one smashes a hole in the turbolift and squirts mucus at Neelix. Janeway drives it off with a phaser blast.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: Neelix and Janeway look in Samantha Wildman's quarters and find the toys used by her child.
  • Fanservice: A gun-toting sweaty Kate Mulgrew in a tank top, belt clinched around her waist to better show off her great rack.
  • Final Girl: The Doctor is put out of action shortly after he's provided the requisite exposition, so it's all up to Captain Janeway to save the day!
  • First Contact Faux Pas: See Accidental Unfortunate Gesture.
  • Getting Hot in Here: Providing an excuse for hot and sweaty Janeway fanservice.
    Neelix: It's getting awfully hot in here.
    Janeway: When environmental controls fail, heat from the warp plasma conduits can't be vented. Expect a heat wave before long.
  • Ghost Ship: Janeway and Neelix find the corridors of Voyager deserted. It turns out the larger macroviruses have dragged the crew to the cargo bays and messhall for some unknown purpose.
  • Hollywood Acid: A macrovirus eats a hole through the transporter pad with its mucus. Fortunately it doesn't have acid for blood, given that Janeway stabs one later on.
  • How We Got Here: The Doctor relates the events that led to Voyager becoming infested by the macrovirus.
  • Idiosyncratic Cultural Gesture: In "Macrocosm", Janeway manages to offend an entire alien culture by putting her hands on her hips during negotiations, which, unbeknownst to her, was the worst insult you could make on that world. Neelix was able to smooth things over, but the negotiator was still cold and dismissive of Janeway.
  • Impending Doom P.O.V.: As Janeway tries to access the bridge controls something stalks her from behind. Subverted as when it strikes it's not some huge slavering monster, but a macrovirus too small to see.
  • Inertial Dampening: It's just as well the shuttle has it, as Janeway puts her coffee mug on the console above the controls, just before engaging maximum warp.
  • It's The Only Way To Be Sure: After picking up Janeway's Distress Call, the Tak Tak 'purify' the mining colony and intend to destroy Voyager as well. Fortunately Janeway talks the consul into granting her one hour to save her ship and crew.
  • I've Never Seen Anything Like This Before: The correct response to a life form that simply should not exist.
  • Large Ham: The Tak Taks' manner of speaking requires many dramatic poses and gestures. The opening dialogue between Neelix and the consul could easily be mistaken for some strange Shakespearean performance.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang!: Justified at first when Neelix gets too ill to walk and tells Janeway to go on without him; Janeway has to climb a vertical shaft to get an emergency medkit. A macrovirus attacks while she's away. Played straight when Janeway and the Doctor take alternate routes to the environmental controls, in case one of them is intercepted by the larger macroviruses. The Doctor is attacked and forced to take shelter inside a shuttlecraft.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: After Neelix disappears, Janeway goes to a large crate in Engineering, taking from it a backpack of emergency supplies, a belt knife and a compression phaser rifle, all of which are strapped on with suitably dramatic movements.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Whenever one of the larger macroviruses is phasered.
  • Male Gaze: There's a lot of tight shots on Janeway whenever she twists or stretches her upper body, pressing her breasts against that tank top.
  • Malevolent Architecture: After Janeway gives the Doctor a rather complex set of directions through the Jeffries tubes, the Doctor wants to know who designed the ship.
  • Match Cut: Played for Laughs when Neelix is communicating with the Tak Tak consul through posture, ending with him tilting his head and standing with his mouth open. Cut to Captain Janeway watching all this in amazement, mouth open and head tilted to the side.
  • Mega-Microbes are the Monster of the Week!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Doctor inadvertently infects the ship when he beams up from the infected mining colony. In the time it takes him to purge the biofilters, the virus escapes to the transporter buffer, and from there infects one of the computer's neurogel packs.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We don't get a proper look at a macrovirus until 20 minutes into the episode.
  • The Plague: Especially nightmarish because of the monsters that exist solely as vectors, and are produced by the welts on its victims' skin.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The macrovirus plot started because Voyager went to help a Garan mining colony. The Doctor comes up with an antidote—and the Tak Tak destroy the colony before he can save them.
  • Slime, Snails, and Mutant Tails: The macrovirus leaves green slime all over Janeway's Shiny Looking Spaceship. She makes them pay for that!
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Janeway breaks out her trusty compression phaser rifle.
  • Some Kind Of Forcefield: Kes looks at the virus sample on her slide and finds it has disappeared. The Doctor quickly activates a forcefield when he realises it's buzzing about Sickbay.

  • Starfish Aliens:
    EMH: Voyager has been infected by a macrovirus.
    Janeway: A macrovirus?
    EMH: A form of life I've never encountered, or even imagined.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: The Tak Tak consul, as his meaning is also delivered via the various postures he adopts while speaking.
    Janeway: I have studied chromolinguistics, American Sign Language, the gestural idioms of the Leyron, but I just couldn't get the hang of the Tak Tak.
    Neelix: It seemed like more than just a language to me, Captain. A lot of their gestures, from what I could tell, were ritualistic. You might even say superstitious.
  • Stopped Clock: Neelix finds a recording of his Good Morning Voyager program still running in Samantha Wildman's quarters, first activated eleven hours previously.
  • Super Spit: Neelix is infected when a macrovirus spits mucus at him.
    Janeway: Some sort of mucilaginous compound. High concentrations of amino acids and proteins, and fragments of non-humanoid DNA.
  • Tank-Top Tomboy: Action Kate strips down for her Lock-and-Load Montage.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: After spending the entire episode proving she's the toughest woman in the Delta Quadrant, Janeway turns down an offer of skiing on the holodeck with Chakotay because she just wants to relax in her quarters, painting and listening to light music.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Paxau resort program is used as The Bait to draw the macroviruses into one area where Janeway can blow them up.
  • You Do NOT Want To Know: The Doctor's response to Tom Paris hearing the Bug Buzz, as several large marcoviruses are hovering nearby.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Somehow the Dynamic Akimbo became one of the worst insults imaginable for the Tak Tak. Did they have a run-in with Superman?
  • You Talk Too Much!: As it's his first Away Mission, the Doctor keeps an open comm channel with Voyager when beaming down to the mining colony. He dutifully narrates everything from the ambient temperature to the composition of the cave walls, until Chakotay tells him to just stick to the important stuff.