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Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 4 E 21 Living Witness

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Everyone wants to leave a legacy.
When diplomacy fails, there's only one alternative — violence. Force must be applied without apology. It's the Starfleet way.
Captain Janeway

The Warship Voyager gets involved in an alien conflict, aiding the evil Vaskans in defeating their neighbors, the noble Kyrians... except that's a holographic simulation of events that happened seven hundred years earlier, displayed in a Kyrian museum long after the war is over. The Vaskan visitors to the museum find this account rather biased, but the Kyrian historian, Quarren, explains that it is the best possible extrapolation given the historical records. But then, during the course of a fateful night, he manages to activate a piece of Voyager technology. It turns out to be a backup copy of The Doctor, who attempts to set the record straight.


  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Everyone in the simulation stresses the first syllable of Chakotay (CHA-ko-tay) instead of the second, the first sign for the viewer that this is less likely to be a Mirror Universe episode than just some simulation in need of serious fact checking.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: The Doctor's opinion on Daleth's summary execution of Tedran, which he describes as "a tragic, needless death". While Tedran's goons had killed several of Voyager's crewmembers and Tedran himself was a paranoid thug with a With Us or Against Us attitude, Daleth's actions prevented him from being properly brought to justice, caused his Historical Hero Upgrade, and made the Great War inevitable.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: Played with; this was clearly meant to be Star Trek: Voyager's version of a Mirror Universe episode, but without the midriff-baring uniforms and Homoerotic Subtext.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The ending reveals that after serving as Surgical Chancellor for many years, the Doctor took a small spacecraft and set off to the Alpha Quadrant, to see if his friends had made it home.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Apart from the Historical Villain Upgrade, Voyager's crew are supposedly heading for Mars note .
    EMH: Earth! You couldn't even get that right!
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: How the Kyrians portray Daleth, the guy who recruits Voyager to attack them. The Doctor, however, shows him to be a fairly amiable guy who easily makes friends with Janeway. He's also something of an Ambadassador, standing up to Tedran and his mooks when they invade Voyager and being the one to fire the killing shot against Tedran himself.
  • Attack Drone: Warship Voyager has a squad of reprogrammed Borg Drones led by a fully-Borg version of Seven of Nine, who Janeway sics on the Kyrians when they invade the ship.
  • Badass Arm-Fold: The Doctor's pose in his official photo after setting things right.
  • Badass Crew: Taken to its most terrifying extreme, the warship Voyager's crew are clearly insane. Even Neelix manages to get in an awesome line in a putdown to Paris. Paris retaliates by calling Neelix a 'Hedgehog'. Subverted with Evil Harry, though, when his attempt to Jack Bauer a prisoner ends up hurting his own hand.
  • The Battlestar: As well as a company of soldiers and enough firepower to devastate a civilization, Warship Voyager also has 'fighter shuttles' (unfortunately not shown in action).
  • Bittersweet Ending: A Time Skip reveals that Quarren and the Doctor's efforts to debunk The Voyager Encounter have not only vindicated Voyager but, despite causing things to briefly get even worse, led to equality between the Kyrians and Vaskans. However, Quarren only lived six more years, barely enough time to see the fruits of his work, and while the Doctor served as the species' Surgical Chancellor for some considerable time, he eventually became homesick and traced Voyager's path back to the Alpha Quadrant, but at least judging by the future historian's mixed class, race relations have become a non-issue.
  • Black-and-White Insanity: The Kyrians in general show signs of this attitude, as exemplified by the Arbiter who argues with Quarren. As far as she's concerned, they're the innocent heroes being oppressed by the cruel Vaskans, and Voyager was pure evil. When Quarren and the Doctor produce contradicting evidence, the woman is not at all receptive.
  • Blunt "Yes":
Tedran: To reach your home, you would destroy ours?
Simulation!Janeway: That's right.
  • Boyish Shorthair: Evil Janeway's hair is combed straight back in a fairly butch way, contrasting to her previous flowing locks.
  • Brick Joke: In "Worst Case Scenario", Tom Paris suggested that a holographic Janeway execute some mutineers. We see this version of a holographic Janeway do just that, but to hostages.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: The Doctor notes that this started as a normal trading mission until the Kyrians and Vaskans began shooting at each other and Voyager got caught in the middle of it. After kicking both the Kyrians and the Vaskans off the ship, the real Janeway most likely ordered Voyager to leave, and the crew probably never gave that trading planet with its two race-warring humanoid species a second thought, except for mourning those three dead crewmen. But they probably never got another mention either.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Kazon from Season 1-2, and the Borg in the cargo bay as per "Scorpion". Seven of Nine is back in her full Borg regalia, too.
    • Chakotay's tattoo takes up half his face, as per Q's "Mine's bigger!" comment in "The Q and the Gray".
    • Neelix is in Security, as per the Alternate Reality Episodes "Before and After" and "Year of Hell". Likewise, Harry is a lieutenant again.
    • Captain Janeway is addressed as "sir", which she rejected in the pilot episode.
    • Biogenic weapons have been referenced several times on Deep Space Nine (and the crew have been shown to have some of the biomimetic gel necessary for making them on board too).
    • As with the Mirror Universe in TOS, Evil Janeway's course of action is to target cities for destruction to force overall compliance.
    • The Doctor expresses his anger at being shut down in the middle of a sentence, one of his regular gripes in Season One.
    • The Doctor says he's adept at holographic programming. Mind you, that hasn't always worked out so well for him.
  • Captain Obvious: Quarren, mostly out of surprise that the Doctor is a hologram, not an android.
    Quarren: You...are a hologram.
    Doctor: That I know!
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Medical Tricorder as displayed on the exhibit.
  • Clear My Name: The Doctor is more focused on clearing his friends' names, but his own reputation (and life) is on the line too.
  • Cold Ham: Janeway and the Doctor manage to play up their evil versions without even raising their voice, coming across as even more psychopathic than if they were frothing at the mouth.
  • Composite Character: In-universe. The "Emergency Medical Android" combined traits of the Doctor with others from Data in TNG. Specifically, yellow eyes and slight mechanical noises and motions. The creator of the holoprogram may have conflated the two characters in his reconstruction as one of the many inaccuracies.
  • Content Warnings (In-Universe): Quarren warns viewers of The Voyager Encounter that what they're about to see is graphic and unsettling. Between the Cold-Blooded Torture of a Kyrian prisoner and the execution of Tedran and his aide, he wasn't kidding.
  • Cool Starship: It has to be said, the alternate Voyager armed to the teeth with massive phaser cannons isn't a bad sight.
  • Dark Is Evil: Warship Voyager has all the internal lights dimmed, and the crew wear black gloves and undershirts.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The recreation's version of Neelix.
    Paris: My plan? Fighter shuttles — direct assault!
    Neelix: Led by you? Good luck.
    Paris: Watch your mouth, hedgehog!
  • Defiant to the End: Heroic Tedran's last words before he's shot In the Back by Evil Janeway are "We will prevail".
  • Depending on the Writer: The curator's initial idea when he finds the Doctor is to use him to help him alter the program to make it a more accurate simulation. He admits that over the years they've had to extrapolate certain things to fill in the gaps.
  • Directed By Castmember: Tim Russ (Tuvok).
  • Dissonant Serenity: Evil Janeway seldom raises her voice, whether making threats or carrying out genocide. The android Doctor also speaks in a calm Creepy Monotone, as opposed to the emotive Large Ham that Quarren is confronted with. It's the fervor with which the Doctor defends himself that brings on Quarren's doubt, as much as any evidence he might find.
  • Distant Finale: The episode ends a few hundred years in the future, after the EMH has become a respected doctor and teacher to Kyrians and Vaskans before taking a ship to find his own way back to the Alpha Quadrant and find out the fate of his Voyager family.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • "Events have been reinterpreted to make your people feel better about themselves. Revisionist history. It's such a comfort."
    • "Please, this isn't about race." / "It's always about race!"
    • Persecution Flip: The dark-skinned Vaskans are oppressing the light-skinned Kyrians.
    • "Doesn't it feel so good to be the righteous, persecuted one? Your oppression proves how good you are, and how heroic and completely without flaw all your culture's significant figures are! You wouldn't want reality and nuance to come in and ruin your oppression, would you?"
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Quarren cautions a visitor to his museum who's stuck his hand inside a photon torpedo that it's a Weapon of Mass Destruction. He then reassures him that it's been disarmed, but still warns him not to touch it because it's irreplaceable.
  • Do Wrong, Right: The Evil Doctor re: Kim's Perp Sweating.
    "That hyperspanner would cause an unacceptable amount of damage. I remind you, he should still be able to speak."
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The soldiers from Warship Voyager include species they've 'assimilated' during their travels, such as a Kazon security ensign and a squad of Borg drones commanded by Seven of Nine.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The biased depiction of the Vaskan ambassador has him going to war with the Kyrians simply to steal their land. He contracts Voyager as mercenaries to accomplish this, but even he tries to cancel the deal when Janeway decides to effect massive genocide of the Kyrians as the best solution.
  • Evil Costume Switch: The evil Voyager crew all wear sinister black gloves and black undershirts. Seven has her original Borg look. Janeway has changed to a more severe hairstyle.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Though inverted with those who are normally hammy, such as Janeway and the Doctor.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: The episode opens with Evil Janeway standing in her darkened ready room, back to the audience, monologuing on how Might Makes Right.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: The Doctor, to reveal his normal-looking eyes have been replaced by golden android ones.
  • Fantastic Racism: During the main story, the Kyrians and Vaskans have been at relative peace for a long time, but there's still some tension; unfortunately, Quarren's exhibits have exacerbated the differences between the two peoples, and once word gets out about the Doctor's version of events, the Vaskans (who are understandably not happy by having spent centuries being villified) start a riot.
  • Final Solution: Evil Janeway's genocide of the Kyrians, which apparently kills at least 900,000 people.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The Doctor and Quarren go from arguing over the recreation of Voyager to working together to reveal the truth about what happened when the war started.
  • Future Imperfect: Quarren's interpretation of events is... misguided, to say the least. This is due to two factors that even individually are a recipe for utter nonsense, never mind together: the fact that he barely has any data to work with, and personally has a heavy bias against both the Vaskans and the Voyager crew. The crew wear fascist uniformsnote  and are portrayed as violent sociopaths. The Doctor is an android. Seven of Nine is still a Borg leading a contingent of captured drones. Even Voyager herself has become a darkly-lit ship, armed to the teeth and referred to as a warship.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: The Good Cop is Chakotay (for a loose definition of "good"). The Bad Cop is Harry Kim.
  • Great Offscreen War: It's even referred to as the Great War.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The Kyrians are engaging in revisionist history to absolve themselves of responsibility over a war they started, and the Vaskans are rightly irritated at being cast as the villains (even if the simulation puts most of the blame on a third party that isn't around to protest). But the Kyrian council member is also right to protest that her people are still subject to segregation and ostracization seven hundred years after the fact, and the race riot started by the Vaskans certainly isn't justified either.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When the city erupts into rioting, the Doctor is aghast and tells Quarren to delete his program. Fortunately, Quarren refuses.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Tedran, though the Doctor did scan him with the medical tricorder first (fortunately).
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: See Badass Crew and Cool Starship above.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • The Kyrians are leading a valiant cause against the Vaskan oppression and warmongering. Tedran in particular, who was a thuggish and arrogant terrorist, is portrayed as a wise martyr.
    • Downplayed with the Vaskan ambassador. His historical counterpart was an "Ass" in Ambassador who shoots Tedran in cold blood over Janeway's objections. In the recreation, he does make a Deal with the Devil with Voyager, but he tries to object when they commit genocide and is shocked when Janeway shoots Tedran.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • The Vaskans were dominant on their planet and a bit haughty, but in the Kyrians' recreation they become openly evil imperialists.
    • Voyager gets the even shorter end of the stick, as they were idealistic explorers who were turned into a gang of genocide-happy sadistic monsters as a convenient scapegoat.
  • Honesty Is the Best Policy: After the riot, the EMH starts to feel that a comfortable lie is better than the harsh truth, and is willing to let himself be executed for crimes he never committed. Quarren, historian that he is, admits his initial denial of the truth was a natural reflex for everything he thought he knew being wrong, but no matter how painful it is, the truth must win out in the end. He and the EMH then go hunting through the debris looking for the evidence backing up the EMH's claims.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Kate Mulgrew is average height for a woman (5'5") but seeing her stand next to guest star Rod Arrants (the Vaskan ambassador), at 6'5", calls this trope into effect. Scenes on the Voyager bridge have camera angles that effectively obscures the massive height difference, but the scene in Voyager's ready room (from the Doctor's recreation) show it clearly.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Evil Chakotay gives his peaceful warrior speech while watching a prisoner get beaten up. Evil Kim says he can beat the guy up all day, then flinches from a sore arm.
  • Immune to Bullets: In his revised simulation, the Doctor offers to draw the terrorists' fire due to him being immune to phaser-fire.
  • Infinite Supplies: Averted as the whole thing started because Voyager stopped to trade for dilithium. The idea of a fully-functional EMH backup raises some Fridge Logic however, though this might be something they cooked up after nearly losing the Doctor in "The Swarm".
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Subverted, Evil Harry knocks a prisoner around for a while, but then backhands him and injures himself.
    "I can keep this up all day. Tell the Commander what he wants to know. (punches prisoner, then shakes his hand in pain) Maybe I can't keep this up all day."
  • Mad Doctor: In the simulation, the Doctor is an evil android who tortures prisoners and develops biogenic weapons.
  • Might Makes Right: It's the Starfleet way.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: The Kyrian Arbiter.
    "I can't believe that you would co-operate with this MURderer! You of all people, you built this museum!"
  • Misaimed Fandom (In-Universe):
    Quarren: Ever since I was a small child, the first time I heard the name Voyager, it conjured up my imagination.
    EMH: Even though we were the bad guys?
    Quarren: That didn't matter. I was too young to understand the implications. The fact you were so far from home, travelling across the stars. Ah, I found it all very heroic. I suppose Voyager is what made me fall in love with history.
  • More Dakka: The '300 soldiers' on board Voyager carry compression phaser rifles. Warship Voyager has 30 torpedo tubes, 25 phaser banks and a triple-armored hull.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: After gaming several options, Evil Janeway deems the best and most efficient way to draw out Tedran is to make his people suffer, and decides to engage in genocide of the Kyrians. Even the otherwise unscrupulous Vaskan ambassador thinks she's taking it too far.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The Doctor points out that the way his colleagues have been depicted in the historical recreation has morphed them into violent thugs, but he actually finds Paris to be pretty well portrayed (who from what we've seen admittedly is not depicted so much as a bloodthirsty villain as just cocky and prone to skirt-chasing).
    The Doctor: These weren't the people I knew! They didn't behave like this! [Beat] Well, except for Mr. Paris.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The simulation does a Screen Shake, which turns out to be Vaskan rioters attacking the museum.
    • The Doctor's historical recreation, the Emergency Medical Android, has gold eyes and stiff movements just like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Neck Snap: How a Borg drone kills a Kyrian in Engineering.
  • No Kill like Overkill: Evil!Janeway decides to end the Vaskan/Kyrian war by murdering thousands upon thousands of Kyrians with biogenic weapons and orbital bombardment.
    Janeway: You wanted us to end your war, ambassador, and that's what we're going to do.
  • Perp Sweating: A prisoner is beaten by...Chakotay and Harry?
  • Politically Correct History: The Kyrian recreation portrays Tedran as a martyr for the Kyrians who was executed by Janeway while trying to stop an alliance between the Vaskans and Voyager. Later averted when it's revealed that Voyager was merely trading with the Vaskans when Tedran attacked unprovoked, tried to loot the ship, and then was killed by the Vaskan ambassador without warning.
  • Posthumous Character: Since the episode begins 700 years in the future, the entire crew of Voyager (with the possible exception of the original Doctor) are long dead. And the Doctor featured here is a backup, making this the first episode of Star Trek in which none of the "real" characters appear.
  • Priceless Ming Vase: During an argument the Doctor picks up a PADD in the museum and brandishes it. Given that it's a 700-year old antique, Quarren quickly takes it off him.
  • Proscenium Reveal: Done as Book Ends.
  • Psycho for Hire: The entire crew of the "warship Voyager", who are hired by the Vaskans to defeat the Kyrians. Their main mission is to get back to Earth, but they get so much fun out of killing that they happily torture prisoners to death, shoot unarmed people, and commit genocide.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Evil Tuvok when his captain hints that the genocide could go a little quicker.
    Janeway: Status!
    Neelix: Approximately three thousand Kyrians dead.
    Janeway: That's it?
    Tuvok: The bio-agent is still dispersing through the atmosphere. The fatality rate will be three hundred thousand soon enough.
    Janeway: How soon?
    Tuvok: Best guess, one hour.
    Janeway: Why do you always keep me waiting, Tuvok?
    Tuvok: (smirks) My apologies. Preparing to fire again.
    Janeway: Double the yield.
  • Pull the Thread: What Quarren is forced to do.
    "From what I can tell, the Doctor was telling the truth, at least about one thing. He is a hologram. A backup program. We always knew he was an artificial life form but, we thought he was an android. If we were mistaken about that, I wonder if we might also be wrong about Voyager itself. Another question. Why would a hologram designed for medical purposes be programmed to lie so readily? From the moment I activated him, this Doctor has insisted that he's innocent."
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Doctor himself in this episode, or rather his backup copy, which is reactivated 700 years later. Justified in that, well, he's a computer program, and his backup copy could obviously last a long time.
  • Red Shirt: The Kyrian terrorists killed three engineering personnel.
  • Rip Van Winkle: Lampshaded by The Doctor.
  • Robotic Psychopath: The Kyrians believed the Doctor to be a psychotic android who created a bioweapon that Janeway used against their people. As Quarren discovers that he's not an android but a hologram, he starts wondering if the rest of the historical record may be incorrect as well.
  • Rule of Threes: Three simulations are shown: The Voyager Experience, the Doctor's revision, and the reveal that everything that happened in the museum was a simulation.
  • Sequential Symptom Syndrome: The Doctor injects a prisoner with a 'neural solvent', then describes the symptoms to the victim as his brain slowly dissolves.
  • Series Continuity Error: In "Message In A Bottle'', Kim had attempted to recreate the Doctor's program from scratch as this is apparently the only way they can replace him if he's lost. However, this episode reveals that the ship was carrying a backup copy of the Doctor's program that can be activated as a fully functional Doctor (even retaining the memories of the original).
  • Shut Down Mid-Sentence: Quarren shuts down the Doctor in anger when the latter questions his objectivity. To his credit, he turns the Doctor on again the next day to hear his version of events.
  • Show Within a Show: In-Universe with "The Voyager Encounter". The episode starts with the holographic simulation of the conflict, and ends showing that Quarren and The Doctor's plotline was also a holographic simulation at some point even further in the future (possibly further in the future than any Star Trek media had ever shown until season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery).
  • "Shut Up!" Gunshot: When her ready room meeting degenerates into a brawl, Captain Janeway calmly executes an innocent computer screen to get everyone's attention.
    Janeway: Save it for the holodeck. We've got a war to fight.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Evil Janeway in her captain's chair. She also has the habit of leaning on consoles.
  • Smoking Gun: The medical tricorder shows that Tedran was shot by a Vaskan weapon, not a compression phaser rifle wielded by Captain Janeway. There's a Bait-and-Switch where it appears to have been lost in the riot, but it must have been found again as things ended peacefully.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: A skeptical Vaskan museum patron makes a point of saying that he has Kyrian friends while criticizing the validity of Quarren's historical recreation.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Used against Seven of Nine. Though she does eventually get fed up and break out of it. Also justified since Tedran aims his phaser at her head before he grabs her.
  • Superdickery: The episode opens with the crew engaging in all kinds of villainy in The Voyager Encounter before the Proscenium Reveal.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: The Vaskan ambassador is not only allowed to board Voyager with a functioning weapon, which either Security or the transporter should have relieved him of, but he's allowed to bring it to a hostage crisis involving a known enemy.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In the simulation, a senior officers meeting breaks down into a brawl until Janeway fires a warning shot.
  • Time Skip: To years later near the end when Quarren and the Doctor both find the missing tricorder, helping to set straight the events of The Voyager Encounter and bring the two warring races into peace with each other, with a Proscenium Reveal to show that the events that took place in the museum was also a holographic recreation.
  • Title Drop
    EMH: And I'm some sort of...fossil?
    Quarren: No, not a fossil. A witness, a living witness to history!
  • To the Pain: Evil Doctor describes the symptoms of his torture victim as they occur.
  • Token Minority: The Kyrian Arbiter actually has little power and says she's only on the Council as their token Kyrian (the other two Arbiters are Vaskan).
  • Torture Technician: The Doctor is portrayed as this, much to his (backup copy's) horror. He injects one of the prisoners with a chemical that starts to dissolve the man's brain to get Tedran's location.
  • The Triple: The Doctor describes B'Elanna Torres as "intelligent, beautiful, and with a chip on her shoulder the size of the Horsehead Nebula."
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: There's no security teams in engineering, allowing just four of the Kyrians to take control as well as grabbing Seven as a hostage. Janeway then sends Tuvok to storm Engineering and instead of shooting them Tuvok lets them go, at which point him and Janeway are on point.
  • Unusual Ears: The simulation didn't get Tuvok's ears right either.
  • Unreliable Expositor: An implied downplayed version. The Doctor's version of the story is suggested to be truthful, for the most part. However, there is a clear implication that he might be slightly exaggerating his own role in the events to make himself look better. He gallantly offers to lead the way into the hostage situation in the mess hall, to draw the enemy's fire; an act that Daleth praises the bravery of. Giving that the Doctor has been shown to have a bit of an ego, this could easy be him giving himself some Character Shilling through another character.
  • Vindicated by History: In-Universe for the Voyager crew, as well as the Vaskan ambassador, once the Doctor sets the record straight.
  • Wham Shot: The close up on the torpedo showing the label USS Voyager, rather than the ISS viewers may have been expecting.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Averted; artificial lifeforms can be held responsible for their crimes. When the Doctor expresses his anger at being arbitrarily switched off, Quarren promises not to do it again.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Doctor ponders the death of his friends. Eventually he goes on his own journey to find out what happened to them, even though it will have been several centuries since they returned to Earth if they ever made it.
  • Would Be Rude to Say "Genocide": Evil Janeway doesn't share the Vaskan ambassador's concerns about annihilating the Kyrian population.
    Daleth: I want them defeated, but this is genocide!
    Janeway: Defeat...genocide...why quibble with semantics?
  • Written by the Winners: Inverted, as "The Voyager Encounter" was written by the losers, the Kyrians, who blame the whole event on the Vaskans supposedly conspiring with Voyager. Later subverted when the Doctor manages to set the record straight.
  • Writer on Board: Also subverted; the original recreation was this, while the Doctor and the curator are seen this way by the historical council when they try to correct it.
  • Wrongly Accused: All of the Voyager crew but specifically The Doctor, who is told he may still be prosecuted for his "crimes."
  • You Have to Believe Me!: The Doctor uses these exact words while trying to convince Quarren of his side of events.
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: The Doctor in reference to the Vaskan-Kyrian race relations:
    The Doctor: 700 years, and I'm still caught in the middle of your little dispute.