“Latent Image” is the 105th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager airing on the UPN network, the 11th episode of the fifth season.
Robert Picardo said that this is not only his favourite Voyager episode, but also the most important in the development of the Doctor’s character.
This includes a short reading from the 13th century novel La Vita Nuova.
During a routine medical examination, the Doctor discovers evidence that Ensign Harry Kim has undergone complex brain surgery within the last two years which only the Doctor could have performed.
Having no memory of the procedure, the Doctor attempts to reconstruct the missing time period and discovers that certain files in his memory were deleted. A reconstruction reveals photos of an Ensign Jetal, a woman he has no recollection of.
The Doctor eventually discovers that Captain Janeway and the crew conspired to eliminate files concerning a traumatic event that caused a holographic equivalent of a psychotic break. After an attack during an away mission, the Doctor could only treat one of two equally critically injured patients – Ensign Jetal and Ensign Harry Kim. The Doctor saved Harry; Jetal died on the operating table. As time passed, the Doctor was overpowered by guilt, believing his friendship with Harry affected his decision to save him rather than Jetal. A conflict then developed within his ethical programming that compromised his impartiality.
On having the previously deleted files reinstalled, the Doctor’s mental stability once again deteriorates, and Janeway is faced with deleting his memories or allowing the Doctor time to resolve his guilt, a decision that could leave the crew without a medic in the interim.
Seven of Nine argues to Janeway that, much as she herself did, the Doctor’s personal development has advanced to where he deserves an opportunity to evolve beyond his programme’s original constraints, and, by extension, his very nature as a piece of technology. Janeway allows the Doctor to retain his memories so he can eventually reconcile with his past actions.
In the final scene, the Doctor reads from La Vita Nuova. The words differ from the actual poem to make them more applicable to the story and give a more profound sense of closure: “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'”
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Mike Vejar.
- Writer(s): Eileen Connors, Brannon Braga, and Joe Menosky.
- Release Date: 20 January 1999.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.