(written from a Production point of view)
When the Delta Flyer II is attacked, The Doctor must hide his program in Seven's Borg implants. Meanwhile, Tuvok undergoes the pon farr.
Ensign Harry Kim is on an away mission with Seven of Nine, and The Doctor. They are aboard the Delta Flyer II. The mission is the study of biogenic material from a comet. As The Doctor analyzes the material, Kim pilots the vessel, assisted by Seven. The Doctor wearies Kim with his constant angry complaints about the bumpy ride, which he fears will damage the collected material; Seven finds this amusing. But then, while he is in the Flyer II's laboratory with Seven, postulating on the miracle of life, the ship shudders harder than before. Kim informs them they are under attack. A Lokirrim patrol ship is seen chasing the Flyer II, firing at her.
Kim hails the vessel and assures them of their peaceful intentions. They respond that he is carrying 'suspected photonic insurgents.' Realizing they mean The Doctor, Kim assures them that the 'photonic' they are detecting is only their ship's CMO. Their response is to disable the Flyer II's thrusters with more weapons fire. Kim tries to call Voyager for help, but the attacks have knocked out their subspace communication system. The aliens seize them in a tractor beam, and then intentionally use a disruption field that begins destroying The Doctor's program. As the aliens pull the Flyer II in and his program degrades, The Doctor begs Seven to do something.
Four armed Lokirrim beam aboard. They enter the lab with Kim, but find Seven alone. They demand the 'photonic,' but Seven, in a manner that is very much like that of The Doctor, responds that they destroyed him. The aliens confiscate the biogenic material from the comet, believing it is for creating biological weapons, as well as The Doctor's mobile holo-emitter, which they find in Seven's possession. They arrest her and Kim.
Seven and Kim are taken aboard the Lokirrim ship and thrown in the brig. Seven, again with The Doctor's manner and speech patterns, assures Kim that the situation is not as dire as it appears. Kim angrily disagrees; they have been captured by aliens, Voyager is unaware of their situation, and The Doctor is destroyed. But he is shocked when Seven says, clearly displaying The Doctor's manner and speech:
"The reports of my decompilation have been greatly exaggerated."
Kim looks at her, dumbfounded; somehow, The Doctor is in her body. The Doctor tells him that Seven downloaded him into her cybernetic matrix. He is now in total control of her body, with her mind submerged (he assumes). He enjoys the physical sensations he is experiencing in Seven's body; of touch; of breathing. He does not enjoy his initial experience with smell, though; his first smell is that of Kim's perspiration.
Aboard Voyager, Lt. Commander Tuvok, is in his quarters, being examined by Lt. (J.G.) Tom Paris. A trained medical assistant, Paris has taken over The Doctor's duties until his return. Tuvok looks very unwell; he is trembling and sweating profusely. As he valiantly attempts to concentrate on his meditation lamp, Paris scans him and notes aloud the detected symptoms: headache, fever, respiratory distress. The scan suggests that Tuvok has a virus, but Tuvok, his voice a harsh whisper, tells him it is not. He asks Paris to replicate a particular medication that The Doctor had specially formulated, but Paris refuses; medical regulations demand that he know what the medicine is for before he administers it. The Vulcan tells him that he is suffering from a chemical imbalance native to the Vulcan species.
Paris correctly guesses what the 'imbalance' is: pon farr. The medication was formulated by The Doctor for him and other Vulcans on the ship to help control the symptoms. Paris says that he will make excuses for him to Captain Janeway so that Tuvok can remain off-duty for a few days. Tuvok is very concerned that she will ask why. Paris responds that he will state the reason as being what the tricorder scan suggests it is: that Tuvok has the Tarkalean flu. Tuvok is grateful.
On the Lokirrim ship, Kim and Seven, with The Doctor in Seven's body, are eating the prisoner rations given to them by their captors. Kim hates it, muttering that his uniform probably tastes better, but The Doctor is enjoying the sensation of eating immensely and even has Kim's share. As he/she continues eating happily, Kim sits beside him/Seven, a look of exasperated chagrin on his face.
Suddenly, two Lokirrim, a man and woman, come and take The Doctor/Seven to the captured Delta Flyer II, which is in the shuttlebay. Their leader, one Captain Ranek, is inside, examining it. He tells The Doctor/Seven that the Flyer II's weapons and duranium-reinforced hull are very sophisticated for a smuggler's vessel. The Doctor/Seven exasperatedly tells him that they are not smugglers or terrorists; their Captain will explain everything once they contact her. He retorts that if they are not doing anything wrong, she (he believes he is speaking to Seven, unaware of The Doctor in her body) will tell him more about the ship, such as "What this device does", indicating the food replicator. The Doctor/Seven explains its use and demonstrates by replicating cheesecake. But his/her intensely pleasured reaction on tasting it leads Ranek to ask if 'she' has never had it before. 'She' replicates a piece for him and he, too, greatly enjoys it, asking what other foods the replicator can make.
The two end up sharing a long period of eating and drinking all manner of replicated desserts and alcoholic drink. The intoxicated Doctor/Seven tells him of 'her' time as a Borg drone, and 'her' relationship with The Doctor. 'She' makes him feel guilty about supposedly destroying him, and persuades him to return The Doctor's mobile emitter, which 'she' claims is 'her' portable regeneration device.
On The Doctor's/Seven's return to the detention cell, the waiting Ensign Kim is flabbergasted at his/her intoxicated state. He/she, slurring and staggering, proudly tells Kim that he/she was successful in getting back The Doctor's mobile emitter. Kim hurriedly takes it before he/she damages it in his/her clumsy, drunken state. He assists her in returning The Doctor to the emitter by helping him/her interface with it using Seven's Borg assimilation tubules. Once The Doctor is out of her body, Seven immediately begins feeling the ill effects of The Doctor's overindulgence and angrily accuses him of abusing her body. Her mind, far from being submerged, had been fully aware of all that had happened.
In the Lokirrim detention cell, Seven is very upset with The Doctor; his drinking and overindulgence in rich desserts (a whole cheesecake and three servings of Ktarian chocolate puffs) while in her body have left her feeling very ill. She refuses to hide The Doctor in her body again, but Kim persuades her to do so, until they are able to escape; if they found The Doctor, they would certainly destroy him, and Kim's and Seven's chances of getting out of the situation would be zero. They formulate a plan: The Doctor, in her body, will get close to their computer system, where her mind will be able to observe their command protocols, allowing them to access their computer and send a message to Voyager.
In the Lokirrim ship's sickbay, The Doctor/Seven assists the female Lokirrim who had taken him/her to Ranek earlier, Lieutenant Jaryn, with a medical case. Jaryn describes her position as being both engineer and chief medical officer among other things; a 'jack of all trades'. While they speak, The Doctor's interest in her becomes evident.
Aboard Voyager, Paris administers The Doctor's pon farr medication to Tuvok in his quarters, but it is ineffective. Tuvok resolves to endure the situation until The Doctor's return, but Paris offers an alternative: he suggests that Tuvok use the holodeck to resolve his situation. At first, Tuvok angrily refuses, stating that he is a married man. Paris explains himself, asking Tuvok if he has any holoimages of his wife T'Pel. Tuvok says he does and Paris offers to use his skills in holographic engineering to create a hologram of T'Pel, telling Tuvok that he is not being unfaithful if it is a hologram of his wife. Tuvok accepts Paris' idea.
On the bridge, a vessel is detected closing in at high impulse. It fires, but Voyager's deflector shields hold. Janeway orders a hail to the vessel, which turns out to be a Lokirrim patrol ship (like the one that captured the away team). The Lokirrim captain informs them of their detection of photonic activity aboard Voyager (due to Tuvok's use of the holodeck) and demands that they drop their shields and prepare to be boarded. They fire the same type of disruption field beam was used on the Flyer II against The Doctor. It has the same effect on the holodeck simulation Tuvok is using, and the hologram of T'Pel, to his great consternation, begins to fizzle.
Mildy annoyed, Janeway has the officer at Tactical destroy the weapons array that is firing the beam. The Lokirrim captain hails them and repeats his demands. Knowing that they pose no real threat, Janeway demands to know why they fired on Voyager. They reply that the use of photonic technology is forbidden in their space. Janeway politely responds by having Commander Chakotay shut down the holodeck from their command station console. On the holodeck, Tuvok's T'Pel simulation suddenly ends, to his great frustration.
The Lokirrim captain still insists that they prepare for boarding and inspection. Her patience worn thin, Janeway gives them a choice: escort Voyager through their space, ensuring through constant scanning that they do not use holographic technology... or Voyager destroys them. Uncomfortably aware of Voyager's ability to do just that, the Lokirrim captain accepts the first option.
In the sickbay of the Lokirrim patrol ship holding the away team, Lt. Jaren and The Doctor/Seven continue their conversation. The Doctor is sexually interested in her, but things sour when she offers to introduce him to her brother (like Ranek, she believes she is dealing with a woman). Just then, Ranek calls Seven to the bridge.
On the bridge, Ranek receives 'her' by showing 'her' a lovely pulsar field on the viewscreen, dimming the lights and breaking out two glasses of synthehol. However, having promised Seven he would no longer drink while in her body, The Doctor politely refuses. Ranek then has the pulsar's EM fields vibrations against the ship's hull converted to sound and transmitted into the room. The haunting, humpback whale-like sounds fill the room as Ranek sidles up beside The Doctor/Seven. It soon becomes obvious what he has in mind. It becomes clear to The Doctor/Seven when Ranek suddenly kisses 'her'. Outraged, he/she pushes him away so hard he falls over. He tries to apologize but 'she' rejects it and storms off the bridge.
The Doctor/Seven returns to the Sickbay and disgustedly tells Jaryn what happened, but then he/she gets a terrible cramp in 'her' trapezius muscle. To ease 'her' pain, Jaryn begins massaging 'her' shoulders. This proves very enjoyable for The Doctor; in fact, he actually gets aroused... in Seven's body. Jaryn has no idea of this; to her, this is just a therapeutic massage. Suddenly aware of the impropriety (and the expression he has on Seven's face), The Doctor quickly stops the massage and moves away from her. Confused, Jaryn asks 'her' what is wrong. He/she is loath to respond, but Jaryn concludes that 'her' reaction is as a result of 'her' being part-Borg. Then a message comes through on the intercom calling him/her; 'her' crewmate is having a seizure.
Returning to the detention cell, The Doctor/Seven finds Ensign Kim on the floor seemingly groaning in pain. He/she kneels to examine him as he rolls over, but when he sees the guard leave over his/her shoulder, he stops faking and berates 'her' for being away so long. He/she tells him to calm down; they are making progress.
The Doctor then again returns himself to his mobile emitter, only to face Seven's wrath over what happened on the bridge and in the Sickbay. He is embarrassed, but then begins berating her on her refusal to ever indulge in any of life's pleasures; he would very much like to have an existence in which he could experience every day what she denies herself; indulgences, he tells her, are what make life worth living. Kim brings them back to focusing on the task at hand: calling Voyager. Seven tells him that she did see Ranek input his command codes. Kim says if they can get the codes to Voyager, perhaps Voyager could disable the ship's shields and beam them out. They only need to use the Delta Flyer II's subspace transceiver. But the Flyer II is heavily guarded. The Doctor, with a smirk, says he can get them aboard.
Once again in Seven's body, The Doctor asks to go to the bridge to see Ranek. 'She' asks to speak with him privately aboard the Flyer II. There 'she' apologizes for 'her' earlier reaction, drinks a toast with him, and dances the waltz with him around the Flyer II's cockpit. As they dance, she sticks him in the neck with a sedative, knocking him out.
On Voyager's bridge, Tuvok, despite his discomfort, is at his station trying to track down the Flyer II, which was supposed to rendezvous with them but never showed up. Captain Janeway, however, knows exactly what afflicts him and grants him a long session on the holodeck once the Flyer II and away team have been retrieved.
Then a hail comes in from the Flyer II. On-screen, The Doctor/Seven explains the situation and gives them Ranek's command codes. Janeway orders an intercept course; to shake their Lokirrim escort, she has Tuvok target and destroy their power matrix, rendering them dead in space. They then proceed to the target ship at maximum warp.
On the target Lokirrim ship's Sickbay, Jaryn finds Ranek on a bed with The Doctor/Seven present. Despite his/her attempts to convince her not to do so by claiming he was drunk and sleeping it off, Jaryn wakes him and he immediately orders The Doctor/Seven seized. Just then, Voyager is detected on their scanners, approaching. Ranek and Jaryn go to the bridge, and The Doctor/Seven is brought along, under guard.
On Voyager's bridge, Janeway opens a channel to the Lokirrim ship. She tells Ranek she does not want a fight and asks for her people and the Flyer II back. Ranek refuses, saying they were caught smuggling 'photonic insurgents' and biogenic material. Janeway has Chakotay input the codes they got from The Doctor/Seven; the Lokirrim ship's shields go offline. Ranek orders the shield power generators to be tied into the warp core, and tells Janeway that any weapons fire on his ship would cause a core breach, killing everyone aboard, including the away team. Janeway orders a tractor beam put on them, but the Lokirrim destroy the beam emitters and break free. Janeway then orders a com signal be routed directly to Seven's Borg cortical node, and uses it to tell The Doctor to try to disable the Lokirrim shields.
The Doctor returns himself to his emitter for the final time. When he appears, the Lokirrim are completely taken aback; Jaryn scans him and confirms, "He's a 'photonic'." Seven knocks down the guard close to them, takes his weapon and gives it to The Doctor to hold on them while she works the shield controls. The Doctor, never having held anyone at gunpoint before, is very nervous and does not see the 'planning' looks between the Lokirrim.
Suddenly they charge and disarm him. Ranek fires at the controls (he could have easily killed Seven, but his lingering feelings for her prevent that). Jaryn informs him of what her console sensors indicate: Seven destabilized the shield matrix. He gives the weapon to Jaryn and tries to reinitialize the shields; Seven warns him not to; the circuits would overload. He ignores her and that is precisely what happens; the console explodes and he is severely injured. The Doctor rushes to help him. Jaryn warns him to stay back, but he refuses; he is a doctor, regardless if the patient is an enemy or not.
On Voyager, Tuvok reports that the Lokirrim shields are down. Janeway orders the away team to prepare for beam-out, but The Doctor asks her to wait; he is treating an injured Lokirrim. Janeway, of course, acquiesces. On the Lokirrim bridge, The Doctor pleads with Jaryn, who is loath to trust him now that she knows what he is, but he tells her she will never forgive herself if Ranek dies; while he was in Seven's body, she had told him she had feelings for Ranek. She relents, and lets The Doctor treat him.
In the Lokirrim Sickbay, The Doctor restores Ranek to full health, and, despite his distrust of 'photonics', he thanks The Doctor for saving his life. Jaryn does the same. The Doctor tells her that he doesn't think this experience will change her opinion of 'photonics', but he hopes it's a start. She does as well.
Back on Voyager, Lt. Paris and Lt. Commander Tuvok are walking down a corridor. Tuvok's condition has passed, thanks to the holodeck simulation of his wife, which he returned to after the Lokirrim situation was resolved. He thanks Paris, but comments that the hologram could never replace his real wife. Paris understands this.
In Voyager's Sickbay, Seven arrives with some old Earth culinary indulgences: foie gras and Château d'Yquem. She has considered what The Doctor told her about enjoying the pleasures of life, and has decided to start. She has also decided, since The Doctor cannot any longer enjoy the physical sensations he was able to in her body, to describe the physical sensations the food and drink produce as she eats and drinks, allowing him to experience the sensations vicariously. He agrees with a smile.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 54238.3. We've completed our maintenance layover at the Maldorian station and we're on our way to rendezvous with the Delta Flyer. We expect to reach them in forty eight hours."
"I assimilated species from one side of the galaxy to the other. I'll say this for the Borg: they certainly do travel!"
- - Seven of Nine/The Doctor
"Never play "hard to get" with a hologram!"
- - Seven of Nine/The Doctor
"It is a food replicator."
"Can it be used to make bio-weapons?"
"Not unless you count Mr. Neelix's Bolian soufflé."
- - Seven of Nine/The Doctor and Ranek
"Ranek summoned me to the Bridge under the pretext of a little "star gazing". What he really wanted was to use my face as a tongue depressor."
- - The Doctor (inside the body of Seven of Nine)
"Your neurotransmitters aren't absorbing the medication."
"Can you increase the dosage?"
"Not without causing damage to your neocortex. The Doc might be able to synthesize a stronger medicine, but..."
"I'll make the best of the situation until he returns."
"I do have one area of expertise that might help. The holodeck."
"I am a married man."
"It's the holodeck, Tuvok. It doesn't count."
"Is that what you tell your wife?"
"No, of course not. My days of rescuing slave girls from Planet Ten are history. Look, you have photographs of your wife, right? The computer can use them to create a replica. You wouldn't be breaking your vows if it's a hologram of your wife."
- - Paris and Tuvok
"As it was in the dawn of our days, as it will be for all tomorrows. To you, my husband, I consecrate all that I am."
"T'Pel, my wife. From you I receive all that I am."
"As it was in the beginning, so shall it be now."
"Two bodies, one mind."
- - T'Pel (hologram) and Tuvok
"There you are, Commander! A person with your condition really ought to be in bed!"
- - Neelix, believing Tuvok's pon farr to be a case of the flu
"The reports of my decompilation have been greatly exaggerated."
- - The Doctor (inside Seven of Nine), paraphrasing Mark Twain
"Mmm! I had no idea that eating was such a sensual experience. The tastes, the textures, feeling it slide down Seven's esophagus, it's, it's exquisite!"
"They're prison rations. My uniform probably tastes better!"
- - The Doctor (inside Seven of Nine) and Harry Kim
"I'm afraid the role of 'spy' wasn't written into my program. I was forced to improvise."
"You 'improvised' your way through an entire cheesecake as well as three servings of Ktarian chocolate puffs! Now I have to suffer the consequences."
- - The Doctor and Seven of Nine
"And the massage you got from Lieutenant Jaryn?"
"You became sexually aroused in my body!"
- - Seven of Nine and The Doctor, after what happened in the Lokirrim Sickbay with Jaryn
"There are many women who would appreciate an attractive man like you. I'm just not one of them."
- - The Doctor, as himself to Ranek
"Perhaps time will pass more easily if we disable his vocal processor."
- - Seven, to Kim concerning The Doctor's enthusiasm for the cell samples he collected
"When I look at this I don't see a mere cell, I see the potential for literature and art, empires and kingdoms!"
"Perhaps your visual subroutines are malfunctioning."
- - The Doctor and Seven, discussing primitive cells
"I won't even ask what you had to do to get this!"
"Nothing un-ladylike, I assure you!"
- - Harry Kim and The Doctor/Seven, when he/she returns drunk with the holoemitter
"What about the wine? It doesn't exactly... agree with you."
"If I become sick I won't have far to go."
- - The Doctor and Seven of Nine
- Both Megan Gallagher and Fritz Sperberg guest-starred in I AM ERROR. Gallagher played Mareel in "Invasive Procedures" and Faith Garland in "Little Green Men". Sperberg played Ixtana'Rax in "One Little Ship".
- Robert Picardo performed many of Jeri Ryan's scenes as the "possessed" Seven of Nine on videotape so that Ryan could study his elocution and movements and more accurately mimic him. (Information provided by Mike Sussman)
- This episode was a rewriting assignment for freelance writers Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong. Their work on the teleplay led to an invitation by showrunner Ken Biller to join the Voyager writing staff as Story Editors. (Information provided by Mike Sussman)
- Ranek's line: "I've never met a woman like you before," and The Doctor/Seven's reply, "That's because there are no women like me" was an homage to a similar exchange in the 1982 Dustin Hoffman comedy Tootsie, which also involved crossdressing. (Information provided by Mike Sussman)
- This is the last episode in which Roxann Dawson does not appear.
- This is the final episode of Voyager directed by Robert Duncan McNeill.
- A set of glasses seen in this episode was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay  as well as a Lokirrim undershirt lot with items worn by Megan Gallagher, Fritz Sperberg, and Tom Morga. 
- The uniforms of the Lokirrim officers were re-used for Jonathan Frakes' 2000 science fiction pilot film Star Patrol. Robin Morselli appeared in both productions. (Information provided by Brian Demonbreun)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 7.4, 2 July 2001
- As part of the VOY Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Junior Grade Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
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