Star Trek: Voyager (1995): S02E03 – Projections


Introduction

“Projections” is the 19th (3rd in the second season) episode of the American science fiction television program Star Trek: Voyager.

Originally slated for the first season, the episode tells the story of Voyager’s holographic doctor having an identity crisis on the holodeck regarding whether he or the world around him is the illusion.

Brannon Braga compared “Projections” to the work of René Descartes, and wrote the episode around the premise of cogito ergo sum, questioning whether the Doctor or the Voyager is the illusion. Beating out LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) for the guest appearance, Dwight Schultz as Reginald Barclay was praised by the cast and crew, especially for his on-screen chemistry with co-star Robert Picardo.

The episode received decidedly mixed reviews, ranging from 50–92% approval with critics commenting on predictability and the under-utilisation of Schultz and Picardo.

Outline

Voyager’s Emergency Medical Holographic Program (EMH), “the Doctor” (Robert Picardo), is activated due to a red alert. Despite the computer’s (Majel Barrett) assertion that nobody is aboard, B’Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) soon arrives in sickbay. She informs the Doctor that the ship was attacked by Kazon and that all except herself and Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) have abandoned ship. After treating her injuries, Torres transfers the Doctor’s program to the bridge using newly installed holographic emitters there. After treating the captain and then assisting Neelix (Ethan Phillips) to defeat a stray Kazon in the mess hall, the Doctor discovers he’s bleeding and feeling pain, neither of which is a function of his program. In sickbay, making inquiries with the computer, the Doctor is told that there are no holographic programs matching his own and that he is actually Lewis Zimmerman (Picardo) -whom the Doctor recognises as his programmer.

With the computer insisting that the crew of Voyager is only a collection of holographic programs, a new hologram appears in sickbay and claims that he’s Reginald Barclay (Dwight Schultz), Doctor Zimmerman’s assistant at the Jupiter Station Holoprogramming Centre. Barclay explains that the Doctor is really Lewis Zimmerman and that the Voyager is actually a simulation in which he’s been stuck and is suffering mental damage due to radiation poisoning. To end the program and rescue Zimmerman, Barclay suggests destroying the ship before he suffers irreparable brain damage. To convince the Doctor that he’s Zimmerman in a simulation, Barclay restarts the Voyager program and the Doctor finds himself reliving the events of “Caretaker” when he was first brought online.

Convinced of Barclay’s claims, the Doctor prepares to destroy the ship when Chakotay (Robert Beltran) arrives and gives an alternative story: The Doctor is indeed the Voyager EMH, but his program is stuck in the malfunctioning holodeck. The crew is trying to extricate his programme so he only needs to wait it out; if he destroys the ship as Barclay suggests, it will prematurely end the programme and the Doctor will be lost. Even though Barclay introduces Kes (Jennifer Lien) as Zimmerman’s wife, the Doctor finally opts to believe in his holographic existence. The simulation ends and the Doctor finds himself on the holodeck; Chakotay’s story was true and the Doctor is safely returned to sickbay.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Jonathan Frakes.
  • Writer(s): Brannon Braga.
  • Release Date: 11 September 1995.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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