Star Trek: Voyager – Human Error

Apologies to everyone for this being a day late. Click “Read More” for the full review.

Human Error

Cast and Crew

Directed by: Allan Kroeker
Story By: Andre Bormanis & Kenneth Biller
Teleplay By: Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis

Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway
Robert Beltran as Chakotay
Roxann Dawson as B’Elanna Torres
Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
Ethan Phillips as Neelix
Robert Picardo as The Doctor
Tim Russ as Tuvok
Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
Garrett Wang as Harry Kim

Guest Cast:
Manu Intiraymi as Icheb

Original Airdate

March 7, 2001

What Happened

Seven of Nine programs Holodeck 2 to be a rustic cabin where she practices the piano to the steady beat of a metronome, with her hair down and her Borg implants gone. Later, she attends a simulation of B’Elanna Torres’ baby shower, where she again appears fully human and interacts with holo-crewmembers more freely than usual. She even makes a toast to the new baby. Just then the real crew on the Bridge detects mysterious energy discharges ahead, and Seven gets called to Astrometrics. Captain Janeway, Tuvok and Tom Paris meet her there, but Seven cannot find the source of the discharges. Opting not to alter course, Janeway turns her attention to the actual baby shower the crew will surprise Torres with later that day. Janeway asks Seven to be there, but she makes an excuse not to.

Instead, Seven returns to the holodeck where she creates new quarters for herself, and a holo-Neelix gives her advice on how to decorate the empty space. A holo-Chakotay arrives with a housewarming gift, a Native American dreamcatcher. Seven invites him back the following night for dinner.

At Seven’s weekly physical in Sickbay, the Doctor tells her that Tom and B’Elanna missed her at the baby shower. Noting that her shoulder implant is out of alignment and her electrolyte levels are down, the Doctor learns that Seven missed her regeneration cycle. She claims it was because she was conducting “research” that had something to do with her personal life, which surprises the Doctor. Just then Voyager is rocked by another energy discharge, which produces a shockwave that then hits the ship violently and damages its warp drive. In Astrometrics, Seven discovers the explosion came from a subspace warhead that destroyed an unmanned probe. Since warp drive is down until repairs are complete, Janeway asks Seven to find a way to detect the warheads before they emerge from subspace, to give the crew a few seconds’ warning.

Later, Icheb comes to Astrometrics to relieve Seven, because the Doctor wants her to spend more time regenerating. But instead of going into her alcove, she takes a belated baby shower gift to Torres in Engineering, and tries awkwardly to engage in small-talk with her. Then she modifies her holodeck program to fully decorate her quarters and put herself in an alluring dress for her date with holo-Chakotay. They prepare dinner together, and the mood gets increasingly romantic until they kiss. Suddenly Seven is distracted by a shrill noise, but she ignores it as she embraces her new holographic boyfriend.

The next morning Seven has disturbing dreams where she sees herself as a drone and her metronome appears as Borg technology. She wakes up when the real Chakotay summons her, which is odd because she’s next to the holo-Chakotay. She arrives in Astrometrics where Icheb has picked up a warning beacon revealing that Voyager has entered a munitions testing ground. Chakotay is concerned that Seven was late for her duty shift, but she denies being distracted.

Later Seven is back in Holodeck 2 playing the piano for holo-Chakotay to the beat of the metronome. He’s impressed by her flawless technique, but then he stops the metronome and tells her to play with more feeling. She’s frustrated and anxious at first, but gradually she’s able to play more from the heart, without needing to be perfect. Just then three alien missiles emerge from subspace and destroy a target probe, sending out shockwaves that rock Voyager. The real Chakotay calls on Seven for her sensor calibrations, but she needs a moment to return to her station. While the ship shakes hard, Seven gives Paris coordinates for other warheads about to emerge, but they turn out to be wrong. She corrects herself, and Paris is able to re-orient the ship to withstand the next shockwave.

In her Ready Room, Janeway chides Seven for being late with her sensor calibrations and for being away from her post, and asks why she’s logged so much time in Holodeck 2. Seven tells a direct lie—that she’s been running a simulation to improve ship systems—and apologizes for dividing her time while the ship is on alert. Janeway accepts her story and her apology, and looks forward to seeing her simulations. Seven returns to Astrometrics, where Icheb detects a strange attitude from her. Admitting she’s been negligent, Seven leaves again to go “correct an error.”

In the holodeck, Seven activates the Chakotay simulation again to end her relationship with him. Holo-Chakotay argues that every time she moves closer to her emotions, she backs away again, afraid that embracing her humanity will make her weak. She argues back that the ship needs her, but then she hears the mysterious high-pitched noise again, this time piercing through her head. She summons Sickbay and faints. The Doctor arrives and finds her going into neural shock. Seven wakes up in Sickbay, where the Doctor reveals that her cortical node began to shut down, but he managed to stabilize it. He asks what she was doing before she collapsed. She admits that she’s been conducting simulations to explore different aspects of her humanity, such as social activities and intimate relationships. She reveals that since Unimatrix Zero was destroyed, she’s been trying to re-create some of the experiences she had there and feel some of those emotions again. But she plans to delete her holodeck programs because her “personal life” has distracted her from performing her duties efficiently.

Torres succeeds in getting engines back on-line, and Voyager jumps to warp. But then a subspace warhead locks onto the warp signature and targets the ship. The missile neutralizes a spread of photon torpedoes and continues closing in. Seven scans the warhead’s detonator in an attempt to disarm it, but is unable to. Then she believes she can extract the detonator by transporting it out, but only at very close range. With no time to spare, she accomplishes the transport and the missile breaks apart harmlessly.

Later, the Doctor approaches Seven with bad news: Her cortical node did not malfunction, but in fact was designed to shut down her higher brain functions when she achieves a certain level of emotional stimulation—not surprising for a Borg implant. The Doctor believes he can reconfigure the node, but it would be a difficult and lengthy process, otherwise she could not continue her simulations. Seven declines the procedure, saying that she’s experienced enough "humanity" for the time being and the "failsafe" device will ensure that she’s no longer distracted. The next day Chakotay invites Seven to a get-together in the Mess Hall, but she turns him down. He suggests that a little more socializing might do her good.


Set phasers to euthenize! We need a mercy killing here. This entire episode felt like a bad bit of FanFic. It was almost as though it was constructed to give us lurid shots to be used in the promos. Besides which, this has been done before with "The Next Generation." A recurring storyline for Lt. Reginal Barkley had him interacting with holo-versions of the crew. Come on people, we only have a few episodes left. Make them stick! Perhaps the title was a reference to the decision to make this one into an episode.

High Point

The doctor’s 24th century version of ‘Rock-a-bye Baby’ and Ensign Kim’s Starfleet issue diapers. I got a chuckle. I have to share Seven’s sentiments about the nursery ryhme: “Do you want to soothe or traumatize the child?”

Low Point

Unless the "failsafe" serves some critical purpose in a future episode, it was a stupid idea. It’s far too limiting on Seven’s character development. Then again, that’s never been one of "Voyager’s" strong suits.

The Scores

Originality: It’s been done before! 1 out of 6

Effects: This was primarily character driven, however the shots of the warheads and their explosions were top-notch stuff. 5 out of 6

Story: Chakotay said it himself, "I hate to sound like a bad holo-novel…” Too late, you do. 2 out 6

Acting: This wasn’t really too bad. It was mostly the dialogue that sucked, and I just can’t blame actors for that. 4 out of 6

Emotional Response: I squirmed uncomfortably through the entire episode, hoping it would be over soon. 2 out of 6

Production: Can’t fault much here, the pieces were put together well, the problem is, several pieces were broken. 3 out of 6

Overall: I’m all for some more character-driven episodes, but this just felt like a bad bit soap opera nonsense. 2 out 6

Total: 19 out of 42


5 replies on “Star Trek: Voyager – Human Error”

  1. Yeah
    To me, it didn’t seem to acomplish much. It was over before I thought they had made any points, or significant character develpments. Oh well. Next week is the episode “Flesh and Blood,” A special two hours starting at 8/7 CST! lol. So no new episodes here.

  2. Flesh and Blood
    For those of you that missed it, this one is one of the best from the season. Good action, ethical dilemmas and so forth. I’ll try and review it next week, since I didn’t get it on the first pass.

  3. Bad?!
    I fully disagree with your assertion that this was a

    lame episode. I was expecting it to be much like you

    described it – fanfic-ish with lots of shots for the

    promos, and I think UPN probably marketed it wrong in

    the weeks preceeding its airing. Nonetheless, I found

    it to be a great episode, though I suppose it takes a

    certain mindset and background to really “get” it.

    Despite my young age, I’ve been through more emotional

    and physiological crises than most people will ever go

    through in a lifetime, so the notion of Seven giving up

    on fighting the implants, giving up on feeling emotion,

    struck a chord with me. For most of the episode it

    seemed as though she was about to break through to a

    new outlook on life and a new way of interacting with

    people. In the end, she found an obstacle – and in an

    unusual show of the sort of weakness which the average

    person does suffer from, but which is rarely portrayed

    in such hero-oriented dramas as Star Trek, she sucks it

    up and makes the easy choice, choosing to gloss it over

    and swallow it rather than fight to be able to feel

    strong emotions. This episode wasn’t about some

    holodeck fantasies – you’re right, that *has* been done

    before with Barclay, and very well. “Human Error” was

    about Seven’s character, through and through – she was

    so close to a big step in regaining her humanity, but

    in the end she was beaten by her own limitations; she

    let them win. It may not be the happiest or most heroic

    of messages, but it’s certainly a real and dramatic

    one. Almost reminds me of some of the good human

    nature/moral dilemma episodes of DS9…

  4. This week’s Voyager
    For those of you that missed it the first time around, ‘Flesh and Blood’ (both parts) will be airing this Wednesday (the 14th) on UPN. This was probably one of the best episodes of Voyager, certainly this season, if not the entire series. Go forth and Trek!

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