Star Trek: Voyager (1996): S03E04 – The Swarm


“The Swarm” is the 46th episode of Star Trek: Voyager, the fourth episode of the third season.

The episode follows two separate storylines.

In the first one, Voyager must navigate through a region of space inhabited by a highly xenophobic alien race known only as “the Swarm.” Any ship that enters space inhabited by these people is never heard of again.

In the second, the Doctor begins suffering from memory lapses which leads to the possibility of his entire programme breaking down.


Voyager discovers a ship with only one survivor. It tells of how the aliens covered every square meter of the ship, sucking out all the energy and killing the crew. The alien then dies of its injuries.

Voyager tries to get through the swarm’s space but something is slowing them down. Phaser fire directed at the enemy is rebounded right back at them. Finally Kim finds a weakness. Each ship is connected in a lattice. Voyager concentrates fire on one ship, destroying it. Dozens of other ships are destroyed, driving the Swarm away.

Meanwhile, the holographic Doctor’s programme begins to malfunction. Kes and Torres transfer the Doctor to the holodeck and call up the EMH diagnostic programme.

The Doctor’s program is threatening to degrade completely. The crew discovers they have the option of re-initialising the Doctor if it comes down to it, but this would result in the loss of everything he had learned in the past two years.

While the Doctor is fine with this, as he does not wish to sacrifice the health and security of the crew, others, particularly Kes, do not wish to see the man the Doctor had become go away.

The diagnostic programme itself is not pleased with the entire situation for many reasons. It notes that the Doctor was supposed to be off-line during its off time, not expanding his programme, such as with his opera studies. The extra memory caused by all this is part of the problem. In fact, EMHs are supposed to only have 1500 hours of operation. The diagnostic programme tells of an alternative to rebooting the Doctor entirely, but it involves a layover at McKinley Station. He is informed that the station is on the other side of the galaxy. Later, the diagnostic programme expresses frustration over the situation, after all, it is perfectly content being the programme it is.

In the end, the diagnostic programme willingly sacrifices itself, using its matrices to support the Doctor’s failing ones. This means the ship would no longer have a diagnostic system at all but it is better than the alternative, or so it seems. The Doctor is restored but acts exactly as he had when he was first activated. Moments later, while treating Torres’s headache, he begins to hum opera.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Alexander Singer.
  • Writer(s): Mike Sussman.
  • Release Date: 25 September 1996.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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