Then in the second half the episode turns from a psychological pseudo-ghost story to a straight up alien invasion one. But rather than being jarring as some Voyager episodes have been this feels organic and a natural progression of the story.
We get a call-back to Janeway’s fiancé which is nice to know that the show hasn’t completely forgotten storylines it setup back in the beginning. Also, this was a nice way to get a glimpse into Janeway’s psyche; she still loves and misses her fiancé but at the same time is 75 years away in a different part of the galaxy and is thinking it’s time to move on. But instead of being a cut and dry decision she has guilt and is conflicted. This makes Janeway a much more complex character and makes her much more relatable.
We get glimpses of the other main cast member’s hidden desires as well including B’lenna’s secret lust for Chakotay, which is weird. Up to this point their relationship seemed more father-daughter rather than romantic, so that’s creepy. Although her very confused attitude toward it at the end might be her thinking along the same lines.
The Botha – the real villain of the story – get no explanation at all. And this works rather than detracts. When the Botha finally admits at the end that the only reason he did these things was “because he can” adds a real menace to him. The fact that he is cold and has no fear whatsoever of Janeway or the crew further adds to the danger.
I’ll admit the “I’m not really here” ending is a bit anti-climactic but enough goodwill has been built up over the course of the episode to just shrug it off. And we get to see Kate Mulgrew do righteous indignation which is always good to see and makes up for a lot of any episode’s flaws.
So yes, a good episode. And one that I could say I’d watch again – and that’s saying something.
The project trudges on.