This is a special episode in so many ways. It’s definitely the most ridiculous episode of the first season, and I would put it up there as one of the top five weirdest episodes Voyager ever did. As might be expected, it starts with Ensign Kim fucking something up. Janeway needs him to do some bitch work but when she tries to find him the computer tells her Ensign Kim is…not aboard the ship.
He was last seen on the holodeck, and now the holodeck is conveniently malfunctioning. Chakotay and Tuvok go in to investigate. They find out that the program Kim was running is based on…Beowulf. That’s right. Of all the fun things Harry Kim could be doing on a holodeck (and please don’t try to convince me there’s no such thing as holodeck porn – come on), Kim picked Beowulf.
A Brunhilde from the Met circa 1957 pops up and holds them at swordpoint. Since the holodeck is malfunctioning, they can’t get rid of her, so they have to negotiate with her. She says she’s seen Beowulf and describes him as, “like no other: hair straight and raven black, eyes bright with fierce fire, the burning gaze of a hero.”
She also says he’s dead. She takes them to the hall of the king to find out how he died. When they tell Janeway she’s very upset. They figure out that the problem was caused by the research matter she and B’Elanna were beaming aboard the ship earlier. They’re interrupted by the appearance of “Grendel” and next thing we know, Chakotay and Tuvok are gone, too.
What to do? Anyone who goes into the holodeck now faces the risk of being de-materialized…well, almost anyone. We almost forgot about…
The ship’s resident whiny hologram is going in. While prepping, he’s nervous, and has a heartfelt talk with Kes about how awesome he is but also how nervous. Little bit of a humblebrag thing going on. Kes suggests that picking a name might help him feel more like part of the crew.
Once in the program, he meets Brunhilde again, and when she asks him his name he tells her it’s….
Schweitzer. As in, Dr. Schweitzer. Leave it to Voyager to make an actual social and historical reference in the middle of a wacked out episode about Beowulf in space.
“Schweitzer” goes with Brunhilde, who is clearly developing the hots for him, to the hall of the king.
The king challenges the doctor to a duel to prove his worth, so he has to put his mushrooms aside to borrow Brunhilde’s sword. But when the king tries to kill him, it doesn’t work, because he’s a hologram. Everybody’s amazed and takes up a cry of “ALL HAIL SCHWEITZER!!!”
In case I’m failing to convey the ridiculous of this, it’s a space show taking place in a hall full of poorly-costumed Vikings hailing a German doctor and organist most famous for establishing a hospital in Africa. On what other TV show does this happen??
After a long and boring dinner with the Vikings where the doctor just fucking revels in being adored, the doctor gets some pre-battle nookie snuggles from the warrior maiden.
Grendel shows up as a photonic energy burst that ensnares the doctor and forces the crew to beam him back to sick bay – minus an arm. After they fix him, they notice a synaptic pattern in the energy, and decide to try to replicate it in some of the energy samples they beamed up to study that started this whole mess in the first place.
The energy bursts out of the containment field and zooms into an instrument panel ala Ghostbusters. It immediately wreaks havoc, like a gerbil loose in the pipes. A gerbil that can dematerialize people. They realize it’s alive, and when it gets through the hull they watch it get absorbed by a giant energy…lattice. I don’t know. There’s a lot of technobabble in this part. The end result is that they figure out the “energy” of the three missing crew members are trapped in the lattice. Janeway hypothesizes that these photonic gerbils are retaliating by manifesting in the holodeck and stealing crew members.
The doctor goes back into the holodeck to release the remaning energy-gerbil back to its people. The Vikings confront him, believing him to be in league with Grendel and attack him. Brunhilde takes a knife to the heart for him. They have a hilarious goodbye when she wheezes, “Farewell, Schweitzer.”
The Doctor has to go back to the hall and retrieve the gerbil cannister, which looks like a radioactive French press, from the Vikings.
“Grendel” appears, the Doctor gives him back his friend, and all three of Voyager’s missing crew members are returned safely. Janeway gives a commendation to the Doctor, who decides not to retain the name Schweitzer out of respect for his dead holo-girlfriend.
Body Count: 0, but Albert Schweitzer is definitely rolling over in his grave.