(written from a Production point of view)
Reactivated after lying inactive for seven hundred years, a backup version of The Doctor tries to uncover the truth about war crimes supposedly committed by Voyager when they passed a planet centuries ago.
- "When diplomacy fails, there's only one alternative: violence. Force must be applied, without apology. It's the Starfleet way."
Captain Janeway, sporting uncharacteristically short hair and black gloves, negotiates with Vaskan ambassador Daleth about fighting a war with their Kyrian neighbors. She indicates that she sees all the benefits for him, but doesn't see how it helps her at all. The ambassador explains that they know of a cyclic wormhole nearby; they can give her the coordinates and tell her how to stabilize it.
Janeway agrees and then the ship shakes. They emerge onto the bridge and Janeway demands a situation report. Neelix, at ops and in a gold Starfleet uniform, reports they are under attack by Kyrians. Janeway begins ordering use of biogenic weapons on the population. Daleth objects, saying the people themselves are innocent and they're only concerned with the leader, Tedran, but Janeway insists it's the best way to bring him down. Implemented by The Doctor, appearing to be an android, informs Janeway that he has finished integrating the biogenic weapon with the ship's phasers. Janeway orders the ship to fire.
This is all a simulation, being viewed from a window into a room clearly not from Voyager. It is a museum, the Museum of Kyrian Heritage. An older Kyrian, Quarren, explains to a group of Kyrians and Vaskans how the "warship Voyager" visited seven hundred years ago and had a lasting impact on them, even to their day.
One of the guests becomes curious and starts asking questions about Voyager and its impact on the area. Quarren admits they are uncertain about a lot of things, but he is certain the ship impacted many worlds and "assimilated" other species to serve on the ship of about 300 soldiers. Voyager's behavior and impact will be explained in more detail in the rest of the simulation. Back in the simulation, Janeway is impatient on the slowly-increasing death toll and they fire on the planet and Tuvok reports a death toll in the thousands, promising it will climb to several hundred thousand within an hour. Daleth objects again, and Janeway insists that he'll keep up his end of the bargain and detains him.
Janeway then focuses on locating the Kyrian leader, Tedran. Again in sickbay, 'Lieutenant' Kim and Chakotay (sporting a highly inaccurate tattoo, and whose name is pronounced "Chako-tay") are interrogating a Kyrian using beatings and, eventually, a painful toxin. Chakotay soon informs the Captain they know where Tedran is, and leads an assault team to retrieve him.
Another alert sounds and Mr. Paris reports that a boarding party has infiltrated engineering and erected force fields. Janeway initiates a "Borg activation program". A fully Borg Seven of Nine activates in cargo bay two along with three other drones. They transport into engineering and subdue the invaders. Janeway instructs her to assimilate the surviving two.
Janeway then meets the captive Tedran and an associate in a room on the ship and ends up executing both personally when they won't surrender. Tedran challenges Janeway for destroying their home so they can get to theirs, and Daleth for involving them when they could have resolved the situation peacefully.
Back in the museum, Quarren encourages his guests to remember the story of how Voyager's intervention brought the Vaskans to power, and to look around the rest of the museum.
While guests are looking around the museum, one of the Vaskans angrily questions the story's validity, taking issue with the portrayal of his species. Quarren informs him that the evidence has been examined carefully, and, furthermore, a data storage device, buried nine meters beneath the ruins of Kesef and that came from Voyager, has been recently uncovered. The device might contain personal logs or other proof directly from Voyager.
Later that night, Quarren begins a dictation describing how he's had trouble accessing the data on the storage device and is going to try to use tools from the simulation on the device because they might be more compatible. He ends up successfully accessing The Doctor's program; the data source is actually a backup copy of the EMH.
The Doctor is immediately confused about being in engineering without his mobile emitter, and the presence of a Kyrian. He tries to warn the rest of the ship. Slowly, Quarren tries to explain that it's a simulation, and that 700 years have passed, give or take a decade, but The Doctor refuses to accept it, until he runs out of engineering into the museum and is faced with reality.
The Doctor comes to grips with the new time he's in, looking at the artifacts around him. The Doctor starts looking over information and becomes more and more upset. Quarren informs him that he's a great source of data, but that in his culture artificial life forms are held responsible for their actions, so he may have to stand trial for war crimes. The Doctor is outraged at the implication that he is culpable and at the portrayal of Voyager as a warship. Quarren says they drew reasonable conclusions based on the evidence, but The Doctor points out that the fact they believed Voyager was trying to get home to Mars rather than Earth only highlights the problem.
Quarren offers to show The Doctor the full recreation and he can judge for himself. They watch a scene in Voyager's briefing room where the senior staff begin arguing over plans for winning the war until it degenerates into a fistfight Janeway has to break up with a phaser blast.
The Doctor is horrified, explaining that no one (except maybe Mr. Paris) behaved that way. Once they get to the execution scene, The Doctor challenges Quarren by pointing out that the Kyrians are portrayed very favorably and Tedran a martyr when in reality he was the leader of a group of Kyrians that launched an unprovoked attack on Voyager, suggesting the whole thing is nothing but revisionist history. Quarren angrily dismisses The Doctor's interpretations, telling him that since the great war between the Kyrians and the Vaskans his race has been oppressed and that's all the evidence he needs. He then deactivates The Doctor's program.
After taking some time to think, Quarren admits to himself that the fact The Doctor is a hologram when they thought he was an android is indisputable, and may cast the rest of their interpretation into doubt. He reactivates The Doctor's program and, after a little bit of arguing, he allows The Doctor to create his own holographic version of events.
The Doctor creates another simulation of Voyager's encounter with the Kyrians. The scene in Janeway's ready room describes a negotiation with Daleth for dilithium in exchange for medical supplies, but just as they were about to seal the deal, the ship is boarded by a Kyrian raiding party. Security responds in engineering, but the Kyrians have already killed three engineering crewmen and take Seven of Nine and another crewman hostage. They move to deck two and Janeway, The Doctor, and Daleth work with the security team to corner the Kyrians, including Tedran, in the mess hall. Once there, security manages to subdue the Kyrians, but not before Daleth takes advantage of the confusion and shoots Tedran, killing him.
When the simulation ends, The Doctor, Quarren, and three representatives, two Vaskan, one Kyrian, are shown to have been watching. The Kyrian representative dismisses The Doctor's recreation as pure fiction and lies to save him from the charges against him, but the Vaskans are more open to his interpretation since they have always been painted as the aggressive race that started the war between their people. The Kyrian representative demands hard proof, and The Doctor says the medical tricorder they have in the museum is the same one he used to scan Tedran; if they can get it working, he can prove Tedran died from being shot with a Vaskan weapon and not a Federation phaser. The Vaskans approve Quarran's investigation, while the Kyrian opposes it and promises to see The Doctor pay for his 'crimes'.
The Doctor and Quarren begin working on the tricorder and begin reminiscing about The Doctor's experiences on Voyager and Quarren's fascination with it. In the middle of their musings, however, a mob storms the museum and begins destroying the displays and artifacts, angry that they've been told lies about how the war started.
Quarren and The Doctor take cover as the mob destroys everything. Furthermore, they lose the tricorder in the riot. The next day, as they look for it, Quarren explains to The Doctor that the new revelations have snapped the tension that has been steadily building between the Kyrians and the Vaskans over the previous hundreds of years. While the Vaskans are keen to hear his side, the Kyrians are very angry over The Doctor's version of events which paint them in a more negative light. There's even talk of another war brewing between them. The Doctor states that he should be shut down, because as an EMH, he is obliged to help people, and his continued presence is causing riots and intense anger among both races and points out that what really happened is open to interpretation. Quarren refutes his argument, as The Doctor was there at the events and no one should deny what he saw. The Doctor initially refuses to remain, telling him that for hundreds of years Tedran was a martyr to his people and he doesn't have the right to take that away. Quarran angrily tells The Doctor that history itself has been abused, and all the Kyrians and Vaskans have done since then is blame each other for what happened in the past. Unless the story of what really happened is set right, the constant fighting and pressure could continue for centuries. The Doctor relents, and they continue to look for the tricorder.
Further into the future, a group of Kyrians and Vaskans stand around a viewscreen, watching these events unfold. Another tour guide explains how this was a turning point in their peoples' history, and how it finally brought about equality between the Kyrians and the Vaskans. Quarren died six years later, long enough to see the beginning of the peace he helped create. The Doctor became Surgical Chancellor of the united races for many years, before leaving in a small craft to trace Voyager's path back to the Alpha Quadrant, claiming to have "a longing for home".
"Why do you always keep me waiting, Tuvok?"
- - Captain Janeway in the historical simulation
"Even today, seven hundred years later, we are still feeling the impact of the Voyager encounter."
- - Quarren
"Captain, don't you think that's excessive?"
"You picked a bad time to have second thoughts, ambassador."
"I want them defeated, but... but this is genocide."
"Defeat? Genocide? Why quibble with semantics?"
- - Vaskan diplomat and Captain Janeway in the historical simulation
"Don't look so shocked, ambassador. This is what you wanted, isn't it?"
- - Captain Janeway after shooting Tedran in the historical simulation
"What's going to happen to me now? Will you put me on display? The holographic Rip van Winkle?"
- - The Doctor, concerned about his destiny
"Voyager wasn't a warship! We were explorers!"
"Yes, I know. Trying to get home, to Mars."
"Earth! You see, you couldn't even get that right!"
- - The Doctor and Quarren
"You have a better idea, lieutenant?"
"As a matter of fact, I do. Fighter shuttles – a direct assault."
"Led by you? Good luck."
"Watch your mouth, hedgehog!"
- - Chakotay, Tom Paris, and Neelix, in the historical simulation
"Pure fiction. This is absurd."
"Halt re-creation. This is a reasonable extrapolation from historic record. But if you'd like to point out any inconsistencies..."
"Inconsistencies? I don't know where to begin. Granted, this looks like the briefing room, but these aren't the people I knew! No one behaved like this... well, aside from Mr. Paris."
- - The Doctor about the holographic simulation
"Somewhere – halfway across the galaxy, I hope – Captain Janeway is spinning in her grave."
- - The Doctor, regarding further inconsistencies in the historical simulation
"You've portrayed us as monsters: the captain is a cold-blooded killer, the crew is a gang of thugs and I am a mass-murderer."
- - The Doctor, summing up what he saw in the historical simulation
"I'll go first, captain, and draw any fire if need be."
"Your crew is heroic, captain..."
"I just happen to be invulnerable to phaser fire - but I appreciate the compliment."
- - The Doctor and Daleth in The Doctor's own recreation of the same event
"For your information, I don't appreciate being deactivated in the middle of a sentence. It brings back... unpleasant memories."
- - The Doctor
"You miss them, don't you?"
"B'Elanna Torres... intelligent, beautiful, and with a chip on her shoulder the size of the Horsehead Nebula."
- - Quarren and The Doctor
"Please state the nature of the medical – oh... it's you."
- - The Doctor, to Quarren
"From my perspective, I saw them all only a few days ago. But in fact, it's been centuries. And I'll never see them again. Did they ever reach home? I wonder."
- - The Doctor
Story and script
- This episode proceeded from a story pitch by Rob DeBorde, former writing partner of teleplay co-writer Bryan Fuller. "He had The Doctor reactivated in the future, realizing that he was responsible for an artificial intelligence movement and having them be accepted as living beings, as members of society," Fuller said of the original plot concept. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- Bryan Fuller, Brannon Braga, and Joe Menosky then worked on DeBorde's story idea, deciding to change The Doctor's predicament. "We [initially] felt that was a little too close to Data," Fuller recalled. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- The idea of The Doctor in a futuristic museum was one of the episode's earliest plot points. Joe Menosky commented, "All we really had going into this story was the very powerful, very compelling image of The Doctor in a museum in the future." An aspect that needed to be addressed, however, was the museum's location. "For a while we thought it was in the Alpha Quadrant," Menosky recollected. "Was it a Romulan museum? A Klingon museum? We didn't know." Executive producer Rick Berman was involved in settling this issue. Menosky remarked, "I think it might have been Rick Berman who said, 'No, it's got to be in Delta, it's got to be an alien museum,' for the very good reason that he didn't want to let it be known that Voyager had successfully gotten home. If you've got The Doctor in a museum 700 years from now, there is a good chance that people at that museum know about the fate of Voyager. We just didn't want to have to deal with that. So with Rick's input we realized that it had to be an alien museum." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 104)
- Rather than have The Doctor be reactivated to realize that he had influenced artificially intelligent individuals being socially accepted as living beings, the trio of writers decided to have The Doctor's discovery, upon reactivation, be that of an unfortunately misconstrued history. Bryan Fuller remembered, "We took it the other way with the historical revisionism, and that was fun to do." The revised version of the plot was inspired by the controversial issue of extremists and their reinterpretation of historical facts. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18) Commenting on this plot development, Joe Menosky stated, "When Bryan was writing the story, we realized that one of the cool issues today is the revolution in thinking about history. What are you doing when you are telling history? Are you just telling a story from the point of view of whoever is telling the history? How you can use history for political ends. How can people want to think about history in a different way to make them feel different about themselves in the present–a very rich lode of ideas." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 104) Bryan Fuller felt that Brannon Braga was solely responsible for the act of changing the plot. "On that one, Brannon's responsible for the story completely, as far as reworking Rob's premise," Fuller maintained, "and the historical revisionism is all Brannon. He wanted to tell that story." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18) Braga himself said about the episode, "It's [partly] a show about revisionist history, which is a very topical issue. Cultures are taking issue with the way history is portrayed in the books right now, and controversies come out of that. Is the revisionist history accurate? Or is it being done to bolster one's cultural identity in the present? There are no easy answers, and that is one of the issues we try to tap into in that show." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 104)
- Joe Menosky enjoyed taking part in writing the characters differently from how they usually were, in scenes such as the one in which conflict breaks out in the warship Voyager's briefing room. Menosky reminisced, "It was really fun to cut loose with what I call the briefing room brawl. It's a blast to write things like that." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 104)
- The episode's final draft script was submitted on 26 January 1998.  It continued to be revised following that date and, on 3 February 1998, Joe Menosky was writing final script pages for the episode. By the time the lunch interval ended on that day, he had stopped his work on the installment to attend a story break session about the fourth season finale. (Star Trek: Action!, pp. 10 & 11)
- The shooting script of this episode referred to the Kyrian-envisioned members of Voyager's crew with the word "revised" before each of their names (for example, "Revised Janeway", "Revised Tuvok", etc.) (Star Trek: Voyager Companion)
Cast and characters
- Robert Picardo plays three different versions of The Doctor in this episode, but does not actually play the usual version of that character (i.e., Picardo's normal role in the series). Picardo generally liked this episode, describing it as both "a very interesting show" and "an interesting, classic sort of Star Trek mind-bender episode." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 86 & 106)
- During the making of the episode, actor/director Tim Russ frequently encountered Robert Picardo's habit of offering suggestions during production. "In some cases," stated Russ, "I had to say, 'Bob, I can't do it, I've got four or five pages of dialogue and I've got to get out of here in two and a half hours.' But I did allow for extra time in some of the most important scenes." (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, p. 24)
- Robert Picardo's performance here was a highlight of the episode for both Tim Russ and visual effects supervisor Mitch Suskin. "Bob Picardo was absolutely amazing!" raved Russ. "Ironically, when he directed his show, I was featured in almost every scene of it, so this time the shoe was on the other foot, and it was really wonderful." (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, p. 24) Suskin enthused, "Robert Picardo, as usual, is fabulous to watch for 44 minutes on the show." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
- Robert Picardo himself was impressed by Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew's acting herein. "Kate is great, Kate is evil," Picardo said. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
- Star Trek: Voyager's regular cast extremely enjoyed playing the collection of malevolent roles that differed from the characters the performers were used to portraying. Robert Picardo (who commented that the evil versions of the characters were "like Hitler and the S.S.") noted, "It was fun for the actors to do." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 86 & 105) Tim Russ (who regarded this episode as "a chance to see us in a very different light") agreed, "I think for the whole cast, it was fun to be able to behave in an entirely different manner than they normally would [....] It was an absolute kick to all of them to do this work." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 102, 104 & 105)
- Tim Russ not only directed this episode but also appeared as his usual character of Tuvok. The actor/director declared of his acting role herein, "[Tuvok] was only on for a short period of time, but in the time that he was on he was different, definitely. You'll definitely see that, no question about it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 105)
- Although her character is referenced herein, Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres) does not appear in this episode, as she was recovering from the birth of her daughter, Emma Rose Dawson, who was born on 16 January 1998. Dawson had attended Star Trek's workshop for budding directors at the same time as Tim Russ but, due to her pregnancy, her chance to direct would not be until the sixth season. (Beyond the Final Frontier, et al.)
Sets and props
- Tim Russ was surprised that this episode involved the use of as many as three stages. (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, p. 24) While the sets for the warship Voyager were reuses of the normal Voyager sets and were permanently situated on Paramount Stages 8 and 9, the set for the Museum of Kyrian Heritage – which was built by 9 February 1998 – was located on Paramount Stage 16, a stage that simultaneously housed the permanent cave set and a set that was under construction for the later fourth season installment "One". (Star Trek: Action!, p. 15) Mitch Suskin thought highly of the museum set. "The art department really came up with a set that was phenomenal for this museum of the future," Suskin remarked. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106) However, Tim Russ was aware of the same set also being "extremely expensive." (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, p. 24) Some sets in this episode, including that of the Kyrian museum, were modified and additionally utilized for Star Trek: Insurrection; the museum set was used as the body enhancement facility aboard Ru'afo's flagship in that film. (Delta Quadrant, p. 239; The Secrets of Star Trek: Insurrection, p. 117)
- In one of the scenes set in the fictional sickbay, a small, clear, cylindrical object with a gold coil-like accent inside can be seen on the table where the biobed is normally kept. This object was used as one of the parts of Steth's ship in VOY: "Vis à Vis".
- In several scenes set in the fictional sickbay, in the biolab (the room typically seen in the background of most sickbay shots, opposite the portion of sickbay which contains the biobeds) can be seen a tall, cylindrical glass chamber. This cylinder later appeared as the quarantine chamber on Cold Station 12, in ENT: "Cold Station 12", as well as the agony booth in ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly".
- The transwarp drive prop used in VOY: "Threshold" can be seen on Quarren's desk.
- The image of The Doctor that appears at the end of this episode was clearly a reuse of an official, promotional picture of Robert Picardo.
- This episode marks Tim Russ' directorial debut. He was the third main cast member of Voyager to direct an episode of the series (following Robert Duncan McNeill and Robert Picardo). As such, this episode follows a trend set by "Sacred Ground" and "Unity" (directed by McNeill) as well as "Alter Ego" (helmed by Picardo). It is also the only episode of Voyager's fourth season to be directed by a main cast member from the series; the three previous such outings were third season installments.
- Prior to directing this installment, Tim Russ commented, "I may or may not consider directing an episode of the show down the line to get my feet wet." Between the time that he made that statement and the event of its publication in Star Trek Magazine, the arrangement was made whereby he was indeed set to direct a Voyager episode. However, Russ was originally scheduled to direct a third season installment. (Star Trek Monthly issue 20)
- Before directing this episode, Tim Russ was entirely unaware that this would be the one he would direct. "I had no idea what kind of show I would get. It could have been a character show, a light show, a spooky show or an action show," Russ explained. "For my first show, I would rather do something not so crazy and all over the place. I decided to make the best of whatever they had me do." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 17)
- By the time Tim Russ was eventually permitted to direct for Star Trek: Voyager, he had been working towards producing this episode over a previous three-year duration. Russ later clarified that he spent that duration "not so much lobbying [to direct] as learning how to do it." He elaborated, "The three-year wait was primarily because of the time it took to get a turn, because there are so many other people who want to do the same thing, but also because the producers ask you to go through a program, which takes about two years [...] It took almost a year to get this one once I was ready to go." (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, pp. 23 & 24) He further recalled, "I was next in line, and it was my turn." Russ was extremely thankful that this episode finally gave him the chance to direct. He noted, "It was nice to get a chance to do it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 102) Russ elaborated, "It's a rare opportunity. [I was] completely beholden to the producers for having this opportunity to do so and I'm very grateful to them for giving me the chance to work behind the scenes for three years as an intern and learning the process, and then getting a shot to do it [...] and to have the opportunity in time to prep for the episode, a wonderful opportunity and a hell of a learning experience – you can't beat it." (VOY Season 4 DVD Easter egg)
- Prior to and during the episode's production period, Tim Russ had close contact with some key members of production staff about the installment. "I had to work very closely with the writers and the producers," Russ noted. This was a typical step in a director's work on an episode, as the intense communication allowed them to make a few suggestions and ask many questions. "So you're basically in contact with [the writers and producers], for the week and a half or so before you shoot," Russ continued. "Brannon [Braga] was always open." Russ found that the producers were also very helpful, even more so than they usually were. He recalled, "Mostly with an actor it's dialogue and story points, but from a directing standpoint I used to get a lot of larger questions answered." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 104)
- Tim Russ was also grateful for the assistance provided to him (during filming) by the production crew, describing them as "a very tight and professional crew to help me out along the way." (VOY Season 4 DVD Easter egg) In particular, Russ found Director of Photography Marvin V. Rush to be very helpful. "I worked with the DP very closely," Russ recalled, "and I knew what I wanted and if it didn't work then he might suggest 'Okay, this might be better.'" (Star Trek: Voyager Companion, p. 338)
- Tim Russ found this installment challenging. "It was quite a step for me to be able to take the helm on one of the episodes," he noted. (VOY Season 4 DVD Easter egg) Russ explained, "'Living Witness' was expensive for a first-time director and it was certainly bigger than I thought it would be." He went on to say that "some of the surprises I had to work around" included not only the quantity of the stages required for the episode and the expense of the set for the Kyrian Museum of Heritage but also "some very interesting lighting, which was somewhat time-consuming in terms of the actual shooting." The fledgling director nevertheless "came in under budget." (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, p. 24)
- Another specific challenge that Tim Russ was tasked with overcoming was finding the right balance between focusing on the technical elements of the installment, such as camera angles and eye-lines, with being aware of the performances that the cast delivered for the episode. Russ had initially expected that he would be concentrating much more on the technical requirements, which he had paid a lot more attention to during the pre-production period, so he was very shocked and surprised to find, within one or two days of the installment's production, that he needed to pay more attention to the performances. (VOY Season 4 DVD Easter egg; Star Trek: Voyager Companion, p. 338) He remembered, "I just discovered by doing it that I [tended] to focus, by the end of the episode, a little more on the faces and what people were saying and doing and how they were doing them. And less on the specifics of the shot, which is where the DP comes in." (Star Trek: Voyager Companion, p. 338) Russ also said, "It caught me off guard, so it was very interesting." (VOY Season 4 DVD Easter egg)
- The problem of concentrating on the acting was heightened for Tim Russ due to the fact that the performances of the regular cast were far different from how they normally were on Star Trek: Voyager. "It was even more of a challenge, I think, coming into it," Russ conceded, "because [the lead actors] had to behave or act in a different manner than they normally would [...] From time to time, all I did was tweak them." (VOY Season 4 DVD Easter egg) Russ elaborated, "It was a bit of a tweak here and there to try to get the parts refined because the tendency is to go overboard when you do something like that, to get carried away. So I had to keep it in line, because I'm looking at it as a third-party observer, an objective standpoint. Everybody came up with their own sort of twist." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 104) Additionally, Russ expressed that being witness to the cast twisting their portrayals was "very nice" and "very interesting." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 104; VOY Season 4 DVD Easter egg) Russ also tweaked the performances of the guest cast. "We had several guest stars in key roles, and that was a little trickier than I had planned, because I found myself having to tweak the performances a lot more than I would like to have done." (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, p. 23)
- Tim Russ found that the plot of this episode seemed to allow for some technical conventions to be broken. He commented, "For me, the story itself, the concept carried or supported the foundations of being able to defy some of the conventional editorial rules." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 105)
- A shot in the first act of this episode, showing Quarren watch the Kyrian museum's viewscreen as it changes between a picture of the warship Voyager and an image of the fictitious Janeway in the ship's command chair, was controversial among the episode's production staff. Although Tim Russ (who was concentrating on the dramatic aspects of the shot) felt that the short moment worked well dramatically and would probably not be especially noticeable to viewers anyway, some individuals (who were concentrating on the technical aspects of the shot), such as supervising producer Peter Lauritson, thought the moment was not absolutely correct from an editorial, post-production perspective. Brannon Braga agreed with Tim Russ, so the decision was made to use the shot. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 105)
- Mitch Suskin was delighted with Tim Russ' work on this episode. "Tim Russ did an amazingly excellent job as a first-time director," Suskin raved. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
- Only a single shot of the warship Voyager was created for this episode, visualized using CGI. Mitch Suskin talked about the digital ship model: "It's actually the same Voyager [as the usual CG one] with a lot of extra guns and weapons' ports on it, not terribly different, just beefier. As something that is just one shot in the show, it becomes much easier to sell that when it's a digital shot, and it doesn't cost as much. Also we're not going to damage the Voyager [studio] model that way. If we actually did it on the model, we'd have to fix it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
- The episode includes two shots that pan across to a screen or window, through which futuristic spectators can then be seen. Mitch Suskin noted, "We had a couple of tracking shots where we let the production company pan from the set into these windows." One of the two occasions on which this occurs follows the malevolent Janeway's execution of Tedran and his accomplice, at which point a group of observers in the Kyrian museum are shown through one of the warship Voyager's briefing room windows. Recalling the filming of the footage from inside the briefing room as well as the view of the watchers, Suskin remarked, "Both of those shots were shot on stage with no electronic data gathering or motion control support, not even any targets. We let the camera operator operate as if it were a regular production shot [...] For example, in the one shot in the mess hall, [where] we see Janeway execute the people, the camera operator pans over to the window where there's nothing but stars as usual. Several days later, we shot on the other stage an element of the people standing, staring [near] the camera. We matched the camera heights, and the lenses." Suskin went on: "A lot of what we did was just to line up two different elements shot on different days and different stages, and put them together as if these people are looking through the port [...] Because we have enough horsepower in the technology we are using in the composite bay, now we are able to really without a great deal of difficulty, track the elements in, and match them as if they were shot together."(Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 105 & 106)
- This episode depicts a Kazon for the first time since the third-season premiere "Basics, Part II".
- In a reference to early season-one episodes, The Doctor states in this episode that "I don't appreciate being deactivated in the middle of a sentence. It brings back unpleasant memories."
- In The Doctor's version of events, Voyager loses three engineering crew-members in the attack by the Kyrian boarding party. These deaths would mark the 16th, 17th and 18th confirmed death of Voyager crew since the pilot episode "Caretaker", the previous one having occurred in "The Killing Game". This would put the crew complement as of the end of the Kyrian encounter at 143, given the crew complement of 148 that was most recently established in "Distant Origin" and "Displaced", and the deaths that have occurred since.
- The alternate history presented by the Kyrian simulation contains a number of notable inaccuracies:
- The presence of a Kazon crew member on Voyager who is an ensign.
- The absense of rank insignia on their collars and combadges, the presence of black gloves on many crew members, and a black undershirt instead of the normal purplish-gray undershirt worn beneath the Starfleet jumpsuit uniform.
- Different hairstyles on many crew (notably Janeway's), and Chakotay's tattoo covering half of his face.
- One of the misconceptions the Kyrians had of Voyager was that their home was Mars. It is possible that they deduced this from Voyager having been built at Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards orbiting Mars, a fact that is established in the Season 5 episode "Relativity".
- The pronunciation of Chakotay's name (CHAkotay, rather than chaKOtay), suggesting that the Kyrians did not know how to pronounce it themselves.
- This is the only episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine or Star Trek: Voyager not to feature any scenes set in the 24th century, as all depictions of Voyager's encounter with the Kyrians are simulations set at a much later time, rather than flashbacks.
- This is the only episode of any Star Trek series which does not feature any living Human characters on-screen. All Human characters appear only as holographic representations.
- This episode could technically be considered the first Star Trek episode ever not to feature any regular characters, as they all appear only as holograms in Quarren's recreation of Voyager with the exception of The Doctor, who also appears as a backup version of his program.
- The events of this episode take place at least 700 years after Voyager encountered the Kyrians, placing the activation of the EMH backup and subsequent upheavals in the late 31st century (approximately 3074). The final scene takes place no sooner than six years later, although the docent's monologue, and Quarren's statement that "it could be another seven hundred years," both imply that several generations have passed. It is reasonable to conclude that the final scene takes place as early as the final years of the 31st century, and as late as the 38th century. Chronologically, this scene probably takes place farther in the future than any other filmed scene in the entire Star Trek franchise, with the possible exception of the Star Trek: Short Treks episode "Calypso". Additionally, the final scene implies that all preceding scenes are part of a simulation, meaning the entire episode is set at the same date as the final scene.
Dating of Voyager's encounter with the Kyrians
- No date or stardate is given in this episode, leaving the exact timing of Voyager's encounter with the Kyrians and Vaskans unclear. Notable clues include:
- the presence of Seven of Nine, placing this episode sometime after the third-season finale "Scorpion";
- the following episode "Demon", which takes place in the Vaskan sector according to the fifth-season episode "Course: Oblivion", although the dating of "Demon" itself is unclear;
- the claim that Voyager was 60,000 light-years from home at the time, placing the episode sometime after the earlier fourth-season episode "The Gift" (in which Voyager is propelled thousands of light-years further towards home) but before the fifth-season episode "Timeless".
The Doctor's backup copy
- This is the only episode where a backup copy of The Doctor is available.
- The existence of a backup module for The Doctor would seem to contradict earlier episodes, most notably the earlier fourth season installment "Message in a Bottle", in which Tom Paris and Harry Kim try and fail to create another version of The Doctor, and the latter season six episodes "Blink of an Eye" and "Life Line", where it is suggested his program will be lost forever if it is transferred and cannot return. In fact, in the episode "One", which takes place just two episodes after this one, The Doctor states his program may be irretrievable if his emitter goes offline while outside Sickbay. A possible explanation is that the module was stolen after "The Gift" but before the events of "Message in a Bottle", or that the module was created shortly after "Message in a Bottle" and then stolen. Kim's creation of the Crell Moset program in "Nothing Human" would be consistent with the latter explanation if the module was stolen before then.
- The introduction of the backup module worried Robert Picardo, as he suspected some fans on the Internet would have nitpicks about the module being established. "I brought that up with Brannon [Braga]," the actor revealed, "and he said that if the story was good enough, they wouldn't complain about the technology. But there is also the possibility that we developed a backup program, and 'oops,' we lost it in that episode." Tim Russ was puzzled by the suggestion that anyone would have a problem with the technology being introduced, as backup programs were – at the time the episode was made – and still are very common. Russ also speculated, "In case something went terribly wrong, of course you would have to have backup programs. I would think that people who watch the show, quite a few of them are computer literate. I don't think it would be even a hitch for them." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
Reception and aftermath
- This episode was neither Bryan Fuller's favorite of the installments he wrote for the fourth season nor his least favorite of those episodes. He remarked that the installment "was just a cool concept." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18) Both Joe Menosky and Brannon Braga were very fond of the episode's final form, however. Braga enthused, "'Living Witness' is a great concept in terms of The Doctor being activated 400 [sic] years in the future [....] We get to see the Voyager crew behaving in somewhat nefarious ways, and it's a lot of fun." Menosky remarked, "I think Bryan [Fuller] did a wonderful job. It's a wonderful image, it's a great sort of fun-to-write story, but at the same time there are certain, I would say Roddenberry-esque, social issues that we examined, but not in too, I hope, heavy-handed a fashion." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 104)
- Tim Russ was generally pleased with this episode. He opined, "It's a wonderful story [...] and the show looks great." (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, p. 23) He additionally observed, "It's a wild piece, with a couple of twists and turns [...] There are a couple of small points here and there, things I would have liked to have done differently [...] But ultimately, the piece is wonderful. And I've gotten very good feedback from it as well." Russ also enjoyed watching how much the finished form of the episode measured up to how he had originally envisioned the installment. "It was very interesting seeing that process happen," he said. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 102)
- Mitch Suskin also held this episode in high esteem, generally. Shortly after the making of the episode, he said, "'Living Witness' I think will be a very popular show [...] I think it's one of the more clever concepts of the year." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 3.9 million homes, and a 6% share.
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 107)
- Star Trek Magazine scored this episode 4 out of 5 stars. (Star Trek Monthly issue 47, p. 61) Toby Weidmann, an editor of that publication, cited the episode as his favorite from the entirety of Star Trek: Voyager. (Star Trek Magazine issue 113, p. 84)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 241) gives the installment a rating of 10 out of 10.
- This was ultimately the only episode of any Star Trek series that Tim Russ directed. He found that the experience of directing had an effect on his acting hereafter. "When I went back to acting," Russ recalled, "there was a certain appreciation for what the director's trying to achieve. The pressure he's under with the production staff looking at their watches and clocks and watching how long things take... the actors doing what we want to do and making his life a lot easier in doing so. All those things come out very much as an actor once you've done behind the camera." (Star Trek: Voyager Companion, p. 339) He did, however later direct the fan-made production Star Trek: Of Gods and Men.
- Several costumes from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including the costume of Robert Scott. 
- In 2017, Kirsten Beyer cited this as one of three favorite VOY episodes (the other two being "Scorpion, Part II" and "Distant Origin"). 
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.12, catalog number VHR 4633, 7 December 1998
- As part of the VOY Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay (hologram)
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris (hologram)
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix (hologram)
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor (backup module)
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok (hologram)
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine (hologram)
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim (hologram)
- Henry Woronicz as Quarren
- Rod Arrants as Daleth (hologram)
- Craig Richard Nelson as Vaskan arbiter
- Marie Chambers as Kyrian arbiter
- Brian Fitzpatrick as Tedran (hologram)
- Morgan H. Margolis as Vaskan spectator
- Chris Blackwood as Kyrian boy
- Nancy Conn as Tedran's accomplice
- Damaris Cordelia as Foster
- Janet Dey as Vaskan spectator
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Sylvester Foster as Timothy Lang
- Glenn Goldstein as a Kyrian commando
- Fred Hafner as a Kyrian visitor
- Tom Morga as Warrior Borg drone
- Louis Ortiz as
- R. Prince as Kyrian commando
- Jeff Pruitt as a Kyrian commando
- Shepard Ross as Murphy
- Robert Scott as a Vaskan
- Steve Silverie as a Vaskan spectator
- Martin Squires as Kyrian torture victim
- John Tampoya as Warrior Borg drone
- Unknown performers as
31st century; activation sequence; aggressor; aide; almanac; Alpha Quadrant; android; annexation; arbiter; artifact 271; artificial lifeform; assault probe; assault team/attack team; assimilation; backup; biogenic weapon; Borg drone; brig; cerebral cortex; character; chief engineer; chief transporter operator; city center; corrosion; curator; cyclic wormhole; Cyrik Ocean; Dawn of Harmony; death toll; decade; Delta Quadrant; dictation; dilithium; diplomat; Earth; EMH backup module; EMH backup module's craft; ensign; eon; explorer; fighter shuttle; flush; fossil; gang; genocide; genome; gentleman; Great War; hanged; hedgehog; hero; history book; holodeck; holographic programming; holotechnology; homesickness; Horsehead Nebula; hyperspanner; intruder alert; isoton; Kazon; Kesef; killer; kilometer; Kyrian; Kyrian and Vaskan homeworld; Kyrian heritage city; Kyrian cities; Kyrian fighter ship; Kyrian ship; Kyrian vessel; leader (aka ruler); living witness (witness); Mars; martyr; mass murderer; medical tricorder; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; mobile emitter; Museum of Kyrian Heritage; neural solvent; nightmare; optic nerve; optronic data stream; particle weapon; photon grenade; photon torpedo; plot; prisoner; race; race riot; rank; red alert; representative; research team; revisionist history; riot; riot casualties; savior; second-class hologram; security team; semantics; sentence (linguistics); sentient; servant; soldier; solvent; "stage is set"; subservience; surgical chancellor; Talaxian; thug; vandalism; Vaskan; Van Winkle, Rip; villain; "Voyager's doctor"; "Voyager Encounter, The"; war criminal; warship; warship Voyager
- "Living Witness" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Living Witness" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Living Witness" at Wikipedia
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