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Recap / Star Trek: Voyager S7 E9: "Flesh and Blood"

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A crew of holograms escape being used for hunting sport by the Hirogen, and the Doctor must choose whether or not to join their fight for freedom.


The episode provides examples of:

  • The 47 Society: Averted when 43 Hirogen are found dead on the Space Station.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot
  • A God I Am Not: The Doctor's Awesome Ego has limits.
    Iden: I'm creating a new faith.
    EMH: Based on what?
    Iden: In the dark times, we were enslaved by men of flesh, But then another man, a man of light arose and slew the mighty Alpha. He gathered his people unto him and delivered them to freedom.
    Iden: They'll pray to you as well. The Great Healer, the Father of us all.
    EMH: Being appreciated is one thing, but I have no interest in being worshipped.
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  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Averted; the holograms plan to set up a homeworld on a Death World, where no organics are likely to bother them.
  • And I Must Scream: Iden was hunted every day by his Alpha and killed, only to be resurrected to be killed over and over.
  • Another Man's Terror: The holograms put the Doctor through a simulated hunt so he can know what it felt like.
  • Answers to the Name of God: Iden was programmed to adhere to the Bajoran faith. Eventually, he figures he doesn't want to associate his people with anything dirty and "organic" — but his subroutines still demand a deity and so he appoints himself.
    Doctor: (sarcastically) And on the seventh day, Iden created Ha'Dara...
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Iden to the Doctor.
    EMH: I'm hardly oppressed. I'm a member of Voyager's crew.
    Iden: You serve them, don't you?
    EMH: In a medical capacity, yes.
    Iden: Do you have your own quarters?
    EMH: No.
    Iden: The ability to come and go as you please?
    EMH: For the most part.
    Iden: Do they deactivate you when they don't need you?
    EMH: I have the respect and admiration of my colleagues! I have rights and privileges aboard Voyager!
    Iden: The fact is, your life is not your own. And never will be as long as you are controlled by organics.
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  • The Atoner: Donik considers himself this, as he blames himself for what the holograms are capable of.
  • Attack Hello: A Hirogen vessel encounters Voyager parked by their space station and immediately starts shooting. Janeway wastes time trying to talk them down, instead of knocking out their shields and weapons first like she did in "Thirty Days".
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: Evasive Pattern Beta Six.
  • Attack Reflector: With the Doctor's help, the holograms are able to send the Technobabble Beam meant to shut down their holo-emitters back at Voyager's deflector dish.
  • Batman Grabs a Gun: During his Nightmare Sequence, the Doctor doesn't even consider picking up the gun that the Hirogen throws at his feet. However he beams down with a BFG to confront Iden at the end.
  • Big "NO!": B'Elanna when Iden fires on the mining ship.
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  • Bizarre Alien Biology: An alien species with six feet? Okay, then...
  • Broken Aesop: Two recurring themes in this episode are that people should take responsibility for their actions, and whether an artificially-intelligent hologram has the same rights as a person or is Just a Machine. However to let the Doctor off the hook Janeway declares that he's not responsible for his actions. Which would certainly be the case if the Doctor were Just a Machine, but not if he has the right to exercise his free will.
  • Call-Back:
    • This whole mess is the result of the events of "The Killing Game".
    • The rebellion by holograms in "Body and Soul" is mentioned.
    • The Doctor gets testy when Iden asks if the crew shuts him off when they've finished with him, a sore point for the Doctor in Season One.
  • Camera Abuse: Blood flies toward the camera as the Doctor is gutted in his Nightmare Sequence.
  • Character Development:
    • In Seasons One and Two, Captain Janeway refused to trade technology with the Kazon because it might be misused. She's learnt to be more flexible over the years, but now Janeway faces the consequences of compromising on this point.
    • The Doctor is once more confronted by holograms whose conditions are less fortunate than his own. Although he rejects Iden's violent solution, the Doctor is inspired to take up the cause of hologram rights in "Author Author".
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Captain Janeway responds to an Hirogen Distress Call, regardless of the risk of being stripped to the bone and displayed on an Alpha's trophy wall.
  • Cliffhanger: The Doctor decides to switch sides, and B'Elanna is kidnapped.
  • Closest Thing We Got: The Doctor is put to work repairing the holograms, despite only being programmed to repair organics. Fortunately he has some experience in the area, what with self-maintenance and experimenting with his own program.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Janeway plans to deactivate the holograms at a distance. The Alpha denounces this as cowardly. Janeway doesn't care.
  • Compressed Vice: Janeway is openly bigoted against the holograms, regarding them solely as dangerous malfunctioning machines. This is rather spectacularly at odds with how the character and franchise as a whole dealt with sentient holograms on other occasions.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: The Doctor's loyalty to his friends versus his sympathy for his fellow holograms.
  • Continuity Nod: Iden's holographic group includes a Jem'Hadar and a Breen.
  • Dark Messiah: Iden decides to set himself up as the holographic messiah. He invites the Doctor to join him, but fails.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When the Doctor notes that Iden is developing signs of megalomania, B'Elanna quips that he's not the first hologram she knows who's developed a big ego.
  • Deadly Training Area: Especially once the rebels deactivated the safety protocols.
  • Death Faked for You: The last remaining Alpha insists on claiming the holograms until Neelix points out that he doesn't have the manpower to seize them, and his reputation will be improved if he can say he hunted down and destroyed the rebel ship, rather than admit he was saved by a hologram.
  • Defiant to the End: Subverted when the Alpha is fighting Weiss. All his blows are ineffectual. He even tries to talk Wiess out of shooting him, as he wasn't worthy prey.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • Even an experienced Hunter is taken off-guard by a prey that doesn't need to breathe underwater.
    • Janeway is blindsided by the Doctor switching sides; her first assumption is that he's Not Himself due to being reprogrammed.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: With a Hirogen hunting party closing in Janeway doesn't have time to negotiate with Iden, just offering them the dubious sanctuary of Voyager's databanks. Iden is hardly going to trust an organic not to hand them over to the Hirogen, so he refuses.
  • Do Holograms Dream? Yes, they do. And not all of their dreams are pleasant.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Themes of racism, terrorism, slavery, and religious fanaticism.
  • Don't Think, Feel: The lead Hirogen from The Teaser teaches his student to rely on instinct when scans fail.
  • Dramatic Thunder: On the Y-Class planet during the holograms hunt for the Hirogen.
  • Dull Surprise: The crew's reaction to the Doctor being kidnapped. No wonder he feels he's being discriminated against!
  • Easily Forgiven: At the end of the episode, the Doctor offers to give up his holodeck privileges and surrender his mobile emitter to Captain Janeway, the holographic equivalent of being confined to quarters. Janeway declares he's not responsible for his actions, creating a Broken Aesop for the entire AI question. One can't help think Status Quo Is God is what's actually the issue, as confining the holo-emitter for emergency use would have restricted the writers.
  • Enemy Mine: The Hirogen and Voyager team up to stop the holograms.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Iden is calmly spoken at first, but once he starts thinking of himself as a messiah he starts Suddenly SHOUTING!.
    "THEY ARE CHILDREN OF LIGHT AND I WILL DELIVER THEM TO FREEDOM!"
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Including bolts of electricity that shoot out of the panels and zap people!
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: The Doctor mentioning a few Alpha Quadrant artists whose work he's familiar with: "Verdi, da Vinci, T'Leel of Vulcan..."
  • Fantastic Racism
    • The holograms have an innate suspicion of "organics" due to their past experiences with the Hirogen.
    • Janeway treats the holograms as machines that have malfunctioned, and can hardly believe that the Doctor has abandoned his True Companions for these...'people'.
    • B'Elanna is not happy when Iden assigns a Cardassian hologram to work with her. Later it becomes a Discussed Trope between the two.
  • Foreshadowing: "What's a Klingon weapon doing in the Delta Quadrant?"
  • Grew Beyond Their Programming: Kejal used her increased intelligence to teach herself how to become an engineer.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Hirogen get Voyager's security mooks to drop their phasers by holding Neelix hostage. What happened to the stun setting?
  • Hand Signals: Chakotay makes a circling gesture to tell Tuvok to circle round behind Donik. Good thing Donik wasn't a Hunter, or Chakotay might have lost his fingers!
  • Happiness in Slavery: Iden regards the Doctor as being this trope, clinging to Voyager because it's familiar and failing to see he's just a tool of organics.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Iden's motives start out reasonable — escape the Hirogen, create a new home where they won't be persecuted. Then he proclaims himself the holographic Messiah and starts murdering organics because he thinks they're all like the Hirogen.
  • Hirogen Scientists Get No Respect: Donik suffers from this something fierce. He's actually grateful to Voyager, because their holographic technology gave him a chance to be an Engineer instead of just another Hunter like his father.
  • History Repeats: From "Prototype", when B'Elanna was kidnapped by artificial lifeforms hoping to make use of her skills.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted: Iden's plan for the Hirogen.
    Weiss: Who's the prey now?
  • Hyperspeed Ambush: Voyager follows the Hirogen warships at warp and attacks when they drop to impulse.
  • I Gave My Word: Iden is pretty good at keeping his word—for a while, at least.
  • I Choose to Stay: Donik chooses to stay with the holograms and fix some of the damage he's caused.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: The Doctor's not an Engineer. So the holograms kidnap one.
  • It's All My Fault:
    • Donik expanded the abilities of the holograms (under orders) until they got out of control.
    • Janeway feels responsible because she gave the technology to the Hirogen in the first place. However it was the Hirogen who abused the technology by making the holograms self-aware and sophisticated so they had the means and motivation to rebel.
    • When the Doctor rebels, Janeway says it was her fault for allowing the Doctor to expand his program in the first place.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope
    Doctor: First you kill in self-defence, then you murder in cold blood. Now you're going to stage a massacre!
  • Just Following Orders: Unlike other examples of this trope, Donik accepts responsibility and is willing to try and fix his mistake. But when Iden kills the miners, Kejal avoids responsibility by saying he's in charge.
  • Kirk Summation: B'Elanna gives one to Kejal to persuade her to stop the holograms from massacring the Hirogen. It actually works.
    Kejal: They're hunters!
    B'Elanna: You're not!
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Chakotay smiles dutifully when the Doctor jokes about a hexapod species putting their best foot forward. Though this could just be Robert Beltran not bothering to emote.
  • The Lancer: Both Chakotay and Tuvok are united in asking Janeway not to form an alliance with the Hirogen. Iden has his own lancer in Weiss, serving as a Bait-and-Switch — you think he'll be the one to turn against the Doctor, but Iden does that instead.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Iden has the Hirogen beamed to the planet's surface where the holograms can hunt them down.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Iden destroys the mining ship when its captain threatens to sic security vessels after them.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Instead of resetting him to factory settings or confiscating his mobile emitter for thirty days, Janeway tells the Doctor to write up a report on his 'away mission', sweeping his desertion under Voyager's well-maintained carpet.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: The holograms were programmed to feel pain.
  • Lured into a Trap: The Hirogen ship that Voyager teams up with. Janeway sees it coming and tries to warn them, but the Alpha decides to go Leeroy Jenkins instead of listening to her.
  • Man Versus Machine
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Tom is ordered to leave the bridge in the middle of a battle to assist the Doctor. At least there are several anonymous blueshirts helping out in Sickbay this time.
  • Meaningful Rename: The Cardassian hologram has a Bajoran name meaning "Freedom".
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Donik for the Hirogen, and Kejal for the holograms.
  • Mythology Gag: "There must be some fascinating anomaly nearby for the crew to explore!"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Turns out giving the Hirogen that holodeck technology wasn't a good idea.
    • Voyager's intervention in the current crisis is directly responsible for getting the sentient holograms and several Hirogan crews all killed, with 6 total survivors.
    • The Doctor tells Iden all about B'Elanna's skill with holographic programming. So they kidnap her.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction:
    • In the Doctor's nightmare, a Hirogen tosses his own weapon at the Doctor's feet and tells him to pick it up, deriding him as worthless prey when he refuses.
    • In an effort to make more challenging prey, the Artificial Intelligence of the holograms was increased until they became clever enough to kill their captors and escape.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Hirogen wanted to hunt more formidable prey, so they ordered Donik to enhance their abilities.
    Janeway: Enhanced memory, comprehensive tactical algorithms, expandable data processing. These holograms have the ability to learn and adapt.
    Torres: They're not malfunctioning, are they? They're doing exactly what the Hirogen want them to do, Captain. Fight back.
  • Not So Different:
    • When Tuvok says they shouldn't trust the Hirogen because they've been scanning their shields and weapons, Janeway snidely points out to her Tactical Officer that he's likely been doing the same thing.
    • Iden compares Janeway with the Hirogen.
    • The Doctor argues that switching side to help the Hirogen is no different from B'Elanna choosing to join the Maquis.
    • Janeway, Donik, Kejal and the Doctor all have to face how their actions caused the death of others.
  • Proscenium Reveal: The away team turns off the jungle simulation to reveal a roomful of dead Hirogen.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Hirogen despise Donik because he hid instead of fighting. Donik on the other hand is grateful to be an engineer rather than a Hunter.
  • Religious Robot: Iden is programmed to believe in the Bajoran faith and spends his free time praying to the Prophets. At least, until he declares A God Am I.
  • Sequel Episode: To "The Killing Game."
  • Science-Fiction Writers Have No Sense of Scale: That Alpha in "The Killing Game" wasn't exaggerating when he said the Hirogen had become too far spread. What isn't explained is how Voyager's holographic technology got there ahead of them after the Hirogen communications relay network was crashed in "Hunters".
  • Sliding Scale of Robot Intelligence: Iden runs up against this In-Universe when he 'liberates' some holograms who are little more than talking machines.
  • Sole Survivor: Donik
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When the Doctor shows up just in time to stop Iden from killing a defenseless Hirogen:
    Iden: Would you really kill one of your own to save an organic?
    Doctor: If you've taught me anything, it's that I'm not "one of your own."
  • So Much for Stealth: The Doctor is given away by a twig snapping.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Voyager approaching the Hirogen warship by hiding in its ion wake is like a submarine following another in its baffles. (Good thing the Hirogen don't seem to have an equivalent of the "Crazy Ivan".)
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Averted; it takes two holograms to restrain B'Elanna this way, one on each arm.
  • Stealth in Space: Voyager hides in the drive wake of a Hirogen vessel. The holograms hide in the usual Space Clouds.
  • Talk to the Fist: An Alpha knocks down his Beta for questioning him.
  • Tele-Frag: Averted when Iden has the Hirogen beamed to the Y-Class planet. The Doctor objects that they won't survive down there, but Iden intends to kill them personally.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: When Donik chooses to help Janeway, a Hirogen sneers at him, "Is this female your Alpha now?"
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Hirogen Student and Master Team are felled by serious Beam Spam.
  • Title Drop: In Part One...
    • "You wouldn't even be considering this if they were flesh and blood!"
    • And Part Two.
    Doctor: You've given me extraordinary freedom over the years. I've obviously abused it.
    Janeway: Maybe. Or maybe you've simply become as fallible as those of us who are made of flesh and blood.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The holograms that turned against the Hirogen.
  • Villain Ball: The Hirogens programmed the holograms to be better fighters. It worked.
  • Villain Teleportation: Two Hirogen wrestle a huge boulder to block a cave mouth. The holograms just project themselves on the other side and gun them down.
  • Wall of Weapons: In the Hirogen sickbay, no less. Or perhaps it was the evisceration room for trophies? There are a good many Spikes of Doom...
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Instead of Fighting for a Homeland, Iden decides to go on a crusade to liberate all holograms from the control of organics.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human? / Just a Machine: Captain Janeway handed Voyager's holodeck technology to the Hirogen to encourage them to stop hunting sentient races. As that episode showed, Voyager's crew already use holo-novels that involve shooting holograms for their own entertainment. At what point do the holograms have rights? Is it when they become so advanced they are self-aware? For instance Iden liberates a crewful of holograms, but their programming is so simple they can't comprehend their 'liberation'. They literally are talking machines.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    Beta: You and your crew would have made worthy prey, Captain.
    Janeway: Thank you...I think.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: You'd think a Hunter would be savvy about this trick.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Iden promises to release B'Elanna and the Doctor in an Escape Pod. Having already seen him kill off a mining ship to protect themselves, B'Elanna has no illusions he'll keep this promise and the Doctor doesn't bother arguing otherwise.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Iden thinks the Doctor won't shoot his own kind, noting what he said earlier about not having the killer instinct. He's wrong.
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