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Recap / Star Trek Voyager S 5 E 11 Latent Image

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The aftermath of this would be the death of one ensign, and the descent into madness of one hologram.
The Doctor is surprised to find evidence of an old surgical procedure he did on Harry Kim that he cannot remember. When the Doctor investigates the matter, he finds degraded memory files involving one Ensign Ahni Jetal, a crewmember he also has no memory of. It soon becomes apparent that someone on board Voyager is determined to stop him from finding out the truth.

This episode provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: During a medical emergency, the holographic Doctor is confronted with a choice between two patients with an equal chance of survival. He ends up choosing based on the fact that he was a closer friend to one patient than the other, and because it was outside of his original programmed parameters, he ends up obsessing over making the "wrong" decision.
  • Amnesia Loop: The Doctor finds evidence his memories were tampered with and asks Seven to help. She shows up in in sickbay to find that someone's tampered with his memories, so he doesn't even remember asking.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During Seven's What the Hell, Hero? speech to Janeway.
    Seven: It is unsettling. You say that I am a human being and yet I am also Borg. Part of me not unlike your replicator. Not unlike the Doctor. Will you one day choose to abandon me as well?
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  • Backstory Invader: An inverted example. Jetal has never been seen before this episode, but she always existed, it was just that the Doctor's memory of her was erased. This probably isn't just because Voyager lacks a B-Cast, however, since the episode relies on creating a mystery about her identity that wouldn't have been possible if they'd used a recognizable person like Lieutenant Ayala. A possible reading is that the entire series up until that point reflects the EMH's edited memories, and Jetal could have been around and involved in major plot points.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The Doctor uses his holocamera to reconstruct Ensign Kim's body from the skeleton up, proving what some fans have been saying all along — the man has no balls.
  • Big Damn Starship: Voyager turns up to save the shuttle from the mysterious alien attackers.
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  • BFG: An alien beams onto the shuttle and fires a triple-barreled energy weapon that hits all occupants simultaneously.
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Captain Janeway favors keeping the Doctor in the dark about anything related to the incident that caused his Logic Bomb breakdown...until Seven of Nine calls her out on treating the Doctor like he's Just a Machine.
  • Call-Back: Jetal's body is disposed of inside a photon torpedo casing ejected into the sun.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Given that Voyager lacks a Ship's Counselor (and as a hologram can't do a Vision Quest) various crewmembers volunteer as a sounding board while the Doctor talks through his problems.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The Doctor on the holodeck, pondering the nature of his decision, starts going into existential issues of You Can't Fight Fate.
  • Continuity Snarl: The events of the Doctor's breakdown apparently took place prior to Seven joining the crew. Yet in the flashbacks, Janeway is wearing her hair not in the bun of steel or the ponytail she wore during season three, but in the loose bob she has in the present, and Tom is acting as the Doctor's nurse in Sickbay, with no mention of Kes.
  • Crazy-Prepared: After his program is deactivated and altered once, the Doctor duplicates his memory files and orders the computer to reactivate him and restore his memories from backup if something like that happens again. He also sets up his holo-camera to record whoever tampers with his program.
  • Dramatic Irony: In her eulogy to Ensign Jetal, Captain Janeway says she'll live on in their memories.
  • Dull Surprise: The crew has a poker-faced reaction to the Doctor's tale of wiped memories and mysterious ensigns. It's almost like they're trying to hide something...
  • Et Tu, Brute?: The Doctor is outraged when he discovers that Janeway is behind his reprogramming, storming onto the Bridge and confronting her directly. When Tuvok tries to shut him up, he even says, "Et tu, Tuvok?"
  • Face Palm: The Doctor while trying to make Naomi hold still for her medical scan.
  • Flashback Cut: Seven of Nine retrieves some not-quite deleted memories and plays them for the Doctor out of sequence.
  • Flatline: The Doctor has just succeeded with Harry's treatment when Jetal flatlines.
  • A Friend in Need:
    • Seven of Nine is the only member of the crew opposed to the forced wiping of the Doctor's memories.
    • The Doctor realises Janeway is staying with him even though she's got a fever. He asks her to take a break and insists he'll be alright.
  • Freudian Couch: Inverted, with the Doctor sitting on a chair while Janeway lies on the couch half-asleep. After she leaves however, the Doctor goes and sits on the couch.
  • Friendship Favoritism: The core of the Doctor's guilt trip.
  • Here We Go Again!: B'Elanna says this word-for-word after the Doctor gets his memories back and starts beating up on himself again. This time they're convinced to let him try and process it.
  • Heroic BSoD: The Doctor is revealed to have done an almost literal (as he's a computer program) version of this (using the Out, Damned Spot! version) following an incident in which two patients were equally at risk and equally treatable; he chose the one he was better friends with, which was contrary to his programming. The memory was erased from his program, and when it was restored he suffered the same condition but eventually recovered.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: Jetal's Burial in Space.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Janeway says that she had no choice but to tamper with the Doctor's memories and hide all references to Jetal because he got caught in a feedback loop between his cognitive and ethical programming afterward. Seven convinces her that what he really needs is the chance to work through the conflicting feelings, like any other person.
  • I'll Kill You!: Jetal jokes that she'll kill Neelix for arranging the Surprise Party, but as the scene is first seen as a Flashback Cut taken out of context, it seems to the Doctor like an example of this trope.
  • Immune to Bullets: The alien would have successfully seized the shuttle if the Doctor hadn't proven impervious to his energy blast.
  • Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath: Arguably responsible for the Doctor suffering a programming breakdown; as a doctor, he is programmed to choose which patient he should save based on a logical assessment of which one has the best chance of survival, but in the scenario presented here he is faced with two patients who have an equal chance of survival and makes a choice based on the fact that he was a closer friend to one patient than the other.
  • The Insomniac: Janeway is mildly annoyed that Seven wants a discussion at two in the morning—never mind that Janeway was already awake, reading a book instead of sleeping.
  • Jerkass Ball: Janeway cruelly compares the Doctor to a replicator to justify tampering with his memories, which might have been believable in the first or second season but certainly not after all these years of knowing him and watching him evolve. There's some implication that it's a desperate attempt to continue to justify her years-old decision that she now well knows wasn't right.
  • Just a Machine:
    Janeway: Coffee, black. (she takes a sip) Lukewarm. Now I've told that replicator a dozen times about the temperature of my coffee. It just doesn't seem to want to listen. Almost as if it's got a mind of its own. But it doesn't. A replicator operates through a series of electronic pathways that allow it to receive instructions and take appropriate action, and there you go. A cup of coffee, a bowl of soup, a plasma conduit, whatever we tell it to do. As difficult as it is to accept, the Doctor is more like that replicator than he is like us.
    Seven: He would disagree.
    Janeway: I'm sure he would, but I can't let that change my decision. I learned that the hard way when his program almost self-destructed.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Naomi Wildman. "Try to hold still, please."
  • Logic Bomb: What the Sadistic Choice ends up being for the Doctor. He's stuck between having to make the impartial decision as per his ethical subroutines, and his personal attachment to his friends aboard Voyager. When he does the latter, it causes a breakdown because he can't square that choice with his own programming.
  • Madness Mantra: See Logic Bomb above. In the past and the present, the Doctor asks himself the same question over and over again.
    Doctor: Two patients. Both injured. Both in imminent danger of death. Both with an equal chance of survival...
  • Meaningful Echo: When Janeway goes to see Seven in her regeneration booth, she repeats the words Seven opened their discussion with in her quarters.
    "I'm having trouble with the nature of individuality."
  • Meaningful Look: When the Doctor first notes the signs of surgery, Harry Kim is casting worried looks not at his own hologram, but at the Doctor. Later when the Doctor tells the captain of his discovery, Janeway and Tuvok exchange a silent look after he leaves the room.
  • Mind Rape: Captain Janeway to The Doctor. Janeway even justifies her actions because technically the Doctor isn't human, so she was just fixing him. It takes a What the Hell, Hero? speech from Seven before she sees why the Doctor is so horrified by her actions.
  • Montage: The opening scene of the Doctor taking holo-photos of the crew. Until he has to lower the camera to get little Naomi in the frame.
  • Morality Chain: Janeway reconsiders when Seven tweaks her guilt node.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Seven is consistently calm and collected, and even when she's rattled, she tries to pretend that she's fine. So when, during her conversation with Janeway, she admits that she finds Janeway's stance "unsettling", it's enough to make Janeway sit up and take notice.
  • Plot Twist: The Doctor's antagonist is not a Villain of the Week, but his own crewmates acting for what they think is his own good.
  • Properly Paranoid: Even after Janeway promises to secure his database and investigate the matter, the Doctor prepares a backup of his memories to be downloaded after anyone accesses his database, and sets up his holocamera to photograph anyone who enters Sickbay. Sure enough someone enters Sickbay and purges his memory buffer. The computer activates the Doctor a short time later as per his instructions, then downloads the backup memories. The Doctor goes to see what the camera recorded. It turns out to be Captain Janeway.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: Probably the most realistic way this could end. There's no easy answer to what happened to the Doctor, so he stays in the holodeck, on watch (mostly from Janeway), so he can work this out himself.
  • Red Shirt: Like the TNG episode "The Bonding" this episode deconstructs it by revolving around the death of a minor, previously-unknown crew member and making it matter. In fact, the main reason for the Doctor's Heroic BSoD is because he chose to save a main cast member who he knows over someone who, to him In-Universe, is just a Red Shirt.
  • Sadistic Choice / Triage Tyrant: The Doctor is forced to choose either Ensign Harry Kim or Ahni Jetal to save, and ultimately chooses Kim over Jetal.
  • Series Continuity Error: At the time of Jetal's death, Kes was assisting the Doctor in Sickbay, not Tom Paris.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "There is a certain logic to your logic."
  • Short-Distance Phone Call: Jetal enters the messhall but the lights won't turn on. She contacts the Chief Engineer on her commbadge, only to hear B'Elanna's voice in the darkness saying, "Err...go ahead Ensign, or should I say... (everyone) SURPRISE!"
  • Shout-Out: Captain Janeway is reading Vita Nuova, and the Doctor quotes from it at the end of the episode.
    EMH: In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter that is the day when I first met you, appear the words: Here begins a new life.
  • Slow Motion: At the funeral, Janeway's voice slows down as she says Jetal will live on in their memory because this is the Doctor's recollection of it.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Mortality: In-Universe. Jetal is popular and likable, but the Doctor doesn't know her as well as he does Harry, so when it comes time to choose whose life to save she is the one who dies.
  • Stepford Smiler: After Jetal's funeral, Perpetual Smiler Neelix is subdued as he helps the Doctor restock with some Healing Herbs. The Doctor however is smiling cheerfully until he starts Produce Pelting, by which time he's transitioned into a Slasher Smile.
  • Suddenly Shouting: The Doctor, when security shows up to restrain him during his breakdown in the Mess Hall.
  • Surprise Party: One is thrown for Ensign Jetal to show that she was liked enough by everyone to merit a fairly sizable gathering.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Doctor beams the attacking alien back to his ship instead of Tele Fragging him, then gets annoyed when they open fire on the shuttle in response.
  • The Triple:
    EMH: One particle collides with another, gases expand, planets contract, and before you know it we've got starships and holodecks and chicken soup.
  • Unexpected Genre Change: At first the episode seems like a standard Crisis of the Week involving hostile aliens and wiped memories, then changes into a debate on the rights of artificial lifeforms.
  • Un-person: Ahni Jetal. All records of her are purged from the database, and the crew have been careful not to mention her near the Doctor. Unfortunately the Doctor is taking subatomic scans of each crewmember, and recognises the microsurgery scars on Harry Kim.
  • The Unreveal: Who the aliens were, as well as why they attacked the shuttle and then Voyager. They appear to be Space Pirates, but we don't know as Voyager never encounters them again.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: Lampshaded by Captain Janeway, who points out that her replicator is not alive, even though it seems determined to frustrate her with lukewarm coffee.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Captain Janeway asks Seven of Nine whether the suffering she put her through, by forcing Seven from the Borg Collective, was justified. Seven says that it was.
  • Wham Shot: Janeway being revealed as the one reprogramming the Doctor's memories.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The episode asks the question of whether a sentient hologram should have the right to know everything about their lives, even if it may affect them in the long run.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: To the crew, Jetal is a valued member; to the audience she would be a Red Shirt in any other episode. The Doctor's choice to save a main character's life because he values them more brings to mind this question.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The Doctor is pissed at Janeway once her actions are revealed. Seven Of Nine backs him up on this. Janeway eventually softens up, though notably, once he hears the whole story, the Doctor actually agrees with what Janeway did and is fully prepared to accept it happening again.
  • Workaholic: Janeway as always. She doesn't bother showing up for her medical examination, is reading at 3 in the morning instead of sleeping, and stays up with the Doctor until she catches a fever.
  • Worst Aid: Those scoop stretchers used to place Harry and Jetal on the biobeds are used incorrectly—they're designed to unhinge at one end, then close on either side of the body like scissors, to avoid spinal damage when lifting the casualty onto a normal stretcher or operating table.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: A sci-fi version; the energy discharge that is used against Harry and Jetal stays inside their body and works up to the brain.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing!: For once this is true, as the Doctor assures Naomi. To demonstrate, he allows her to take a holo-photo of him.