(written from a Production point of view)
When Harry Kim rescues a crippled alien starship, the grateful crew offers him command. Meanwhile on Voyager, Icheb believes B'Elanna Torres has become attracted to him.
USS Voyager sets down on an uninhabited planet to begin maintenance to the warp drive that B'Elanna Torres tells Captain Janeway they desperately need. The crew begins the repairs and Icheb impresses Torres and Janeway with his technical knowledge. Janeway tells him that he can help Torres with repairs instead of delivering PADDs.
Meanwhile, the Delta Flyer is scouting for dilithium in a nearby nebula, which they apparently have scanned four times already much to Seven of Nine's annoyance. Suddenly weapons fire is all around them. A vessel is approaching them from the rear and firing its weapons at a vessel in front of the Flyer, which, in turn, becomes visible.
The Delta Flyer receives a distress signal from the commander of the Kraylor starship, which then decloaks involuntarily. It's apparently on a humanitarian mission carrying medical supplies. Piloting the Delta Flyer, Ensign Harry Kim's first instinct is to leave, but he is reminded by Neelix that there is a higher cause here. Kim discovers the Kraylor are at war with the Annari and are under attack by Annari vessels. He tries to negotiate with the Annari, but is forced to disable their vessel's weapon system when the Flyer comes under attack.
After beaming onto the Medical Transport 136, Kim and Neelix find the vessel in complete disarray – about half the crew are dead, including all but one of the bridge officers. And the surviving bridge officer, Terek, has no experience. Kim offers to help with repairs of the vessel, along with Neelix and Seven of Nine.
While making the repairs Kim answers Terek's questions. Terek assumes Kim is the captain, which Kim quickly corrects. It turns out it's Terek's first assignment after which Kim shares his experiences, being propelled to the Delta Quarant in the first week of his first mission.
On Voyager Torres finds Icheb on a workstation in the cargo bay with a plate of food next to him. Icheb tells Torres he likes to work and eat at the same time, which seems more efficient to him. To the question what he does for fun he answers that he has little time for fun between his work and his studies. Torres Invites him to a rock climbing session in the holodeck after all the work is done. Icheb expresses an interest in geology to which Torres answers that it's about the climbing, not the rocks.
After the vessel is repaired, Loken, head of the research team, begs Kim to captain it back to their homeworld. Terek only trained on shuttles. Harry hesitates, not wanting to violate the Prime Directive. Loken eventually tells him that the vaccine they have been working to develop must reach there. When Neelix tells Kim that the planet where the USS Voyager has landed is en route to the Kraylor's planet, Kim agrees to take them that far at least.
When Kim reaches the planet Voyager is on, they find three Annari warships orbiting the planet.
Janeway is giving Geral, one of the Annari Captains, a tour of the ship. Voyager needs deuterium injectors and is offering zeolithic ore in return. At that moment Kim contacts Voyager asking them if everything is all right, not divulging his whereabouts to the captain.
On the Kraylor vessel Loken is visibly disturbed. Apparently the Annari come as friends and then declare you subjects.
After the Annari leave Kim contacts Voyager again telling his real whereabouts and telling about new friends. Janeway meets with Loken.
Janeway is eventually convinced to take the Kraylor's side in the matter, and permits Kim to take command of the "medical transport". However, Janeway asks Seven to go along on the journey. Kim is excited at the chance of having his "first real command."
Meanwhile Icheb is sent to sickbay to repair a malfunctioning holoemitter. While making the repairs he asks about the social instruction The Doctor gave to Seven and asks The Doctor to instruct him as well. He asks how he can find out if someone has romantic feeling for someone else. Hypothetically, of course, The Doctor mentions compliments, invitations to social activities, finding excuses to be in close proximity to that someone. Icheb asks if those thing could happen in normal relationships. The Doctor points out ways to be sure. Icheb then leaves without finishing the repairs.
Paris meets with Kim begging him to take him along. Kim tells him its his turn after Paris always being Captain Proton and Kim being Buster Kincaid, so he declines. Kim enters the Mess Hall and Neelix asks him what he wants plomeek soup or eggplant parmesan to which Kim answers that either is fine. Neelix tells him "wrong answer". Neelix tells him that is he is going to be a captain he has to act like a captain. "Never admit you are being uncertain about anything." Janeway always knows exactly what she wants, after which Neelix ends his remarks with ensign. Kim than tells him plomeek soup, hot.
Kim enters the bridge of the Kraylor vessel, greeted by Terek with the captain on the bridge. He apparently has read it in the Starfleet manual Kim loaned him. After finding out the ship has an uninspiring name he promptly renames the "Nightingale", after which the ship leaves orbit.
Kim has settled himself in the Captain's Ready Room and is making some log entries. Seven enters to hand him the hourly status report. Seven asks Kim why he has brought so many personal items on board, since they are only going to be on board for a couple of days. Kim answers that it's important to have a personal connection to the ship. "Make the ship your own". Seven then tells Kim she asked Terek to make a course correction. Kim then storms out of the ready room to check on Terek and he basically takes over. Seven sighs.
On Voyager Icheb and Torres are working together in a Jefferies tube. Torres tells Icheb how much she is looking forward to their climbing appointment. And while Torres moves a roof panel in the tube she puts her hand on Icheb's shoulder. Icheb is getting more and more convinced Torres is flirting with him and pulls out his tricorder to check for the other signs The Doctor mentioned.
On the Nightingale, the cloaking device begins to fail a short time into the journey due to a fluctuation in the propulsion power systems. Repairs are made, yet Kim dismisses Seven's recommendations to run a full diagnostic, reminding her that Janeway wanted them back before Voyager finished repairs. Loken expresses his concerns and is dismissed. When they are alone Seven tells Kim that she has discovered a serious flaw in the ship's systems, namely the captain. Instead of issuing orders and having others carrying them out as captains are supposed to function, he is doing both. Kim goes on defense by telling Seven the crew is inexperienced. Seven then reminds Kim how Janeway supported Kim when he first came on board, not by doing his work for him, but by giving him a lot to do, so he could gain confidence.
A short time later, as predicted, the primary generator fails, as does the cloak. Half a dozen Annari vessels move into attack range, and a Kraylor researcher named Dayla volunteers to try to bring the cloak back online, receiving instructions from Kim, yet she and Loken together figure out how to bring the cloak back online by taking the warp core off-line. Unfortunately for Dayla, life support fails in the engineering area and she dies. It turns out they aren't medical doctors.
Confronting Loken, Kim discovers the Nightingale's cloak is actually a prototype that Lokan's team, including Dayla, had really been working on at a secret base. The Annari knew about the prototype and didn't want it to arrive at the Kraylor homeworld. Harry realizes that he is in the middle of a breach of the Prime Directive and orders the Nightingale to reverse course, but the Kraylor crew refuse to follow his orders. Loken tells Harry he is relieved of command and Harry leaves the bridge.
Meanwhile on Voyager Icheb bumps into Paris on his way to engineering. Paris then as a joke mentions whether or not he should be worried now Icheb and his wife are going to scale cliffs together. Paris then invites him to one of his holodeck programs, a race car program. Icheb misreads that proposal as a typical Klingon ritual competition because of Torres. Confused and overwhelmed, Icheb confronts Torres after entering engineering, telling her that they can no longer "see each other", especially given that she is a married woman. Shocked at what she is hearing, but also realizing that there is no way to convince him that he is just misreading her friendliness, Torres agrees to his proposal.
On the Nightingale Kim goes to see Seven who is feeling better. He tells her he is no longer in command because he ordered a reverse course after he found out the true mission, bringing the cloaking device, a prototype, to the Kraylor homeworld. Kim suggests taking an escape pod in the hope they would be considered a neutral party to which Seven answers that they stopped being neutral the moment Kim took a shot at the Annari vessel. Seven goes on to question Kim's real reason to abandon the mission. Is it because the mission was not what he had expected or was being a captain not what he expected, since he is clearly uncomfortable delegating tasks and giving orders. Kim then says that someone died because of his orders. Seven points out that people die on missions despite the captain's best efforts to which Kim answers that he should have stuck to playing Buster Kincaid. "A holodeck program can be turned off when it suits you, reality can't", Seven answers. Seven points out to Kim that if he truly cares about the crew, he needs to help the Kraylor home, otherwise they may not survive.
At the Kraylor homeworld, a new series of scanning pulses illuminates cloaked vessels. Having been detected, surrounded and outgunned by Annari vessels, Kim takes command, promising to help them, to which Loken agrees.
Meanwhile on Voyager Geral is back, this time to escort Voyager out of Annari space. He found out that one of his ships had been shot at by the Delta Flyer several days earlier. To add to that they also detected two Human biosignatures on a Kraylor vessel. Janeway has no choice but to comply.
On the Nightingale, Kim appears to offer a conditional surrender with the Annari; however, if they do not allow the scientists to safely evacuate to the planet, Kim threatens to destroy the Nightingale. Loken is furious about Kim's apparent betrayal, but is assured the young captain has a plan to save the vessel – but if he fails, "…at least the scientist who designed [the cloak] will be alive to create another one." Once under the grip of the Annari tractor beam, Kim reverses the Nightingale's shield polarity and uses the momentum to outrun their pursuers to the defense perimeter.
Meanwhile Voyager has been escorted out of Annari space and their ships have gone to warp. Janeway tells Chakotay and Paris to take the Flyer and tells Tuvok to hail the Kraylor homeworld. However Kim is already hailing them from a cloaked ship directly astern.
Harry Kim's final entry in the Nightingale's log notes that his actions have led to cloaking mechanisms being added to the Kraylor fleet.
Back on Voyager, Kim realizes that he's not quite ready for command… yet.
- "Captain's log, stardate 54274.7. Lieutenant Torres has finally convinced me that I can't put off a major maintenance overhaul any longer. We've set down on an uninhabited planet and I've sent shuttles to search for supplies."
- (log entry made by Harry Kim)
- "Acting captain's personal log, stardate 54277.3. My first day in command has been challenging, but I've loved every minute of it. I can't help feeling that this was something I was born to do."
- (log entry made by Harry Kim)
- "Acting captain's personal log, stardate 54282.5. Final entry. New cloaking systems are being installed in other Kraylor ships, so I guess the mission was a success. Still, I wish I felt better about it."
"The Borg value efficiency, not redundancy."
- - Seven of Nine
"We're passengers, not crewmen."
- - Loken
"How long have you been captain?"
"I'm just an ensign."
"Ensign? Uh, what is that?"
"A junior officer. The lowest ranked officer, actually."
- - Terek and Harry Kim discussing rank
"My first week on the job didn't go very well either. We ended up 70,000 light years from home, lost over a dozen crewmembers. But I got through it and so will you."
- - Harry Kim, calming Terek
"Neelix, plomeek soup… and make sure it's hot!"
- - Harry Kim, after Neelix tells him to be more decisive when making choices
"Does this ship have a name?"
"Medical Transport 136."
"I think we can do better than that… Nightingale. The name of someone from my homeworld. She was famous for treating soldiers on the battlefield."
- - Harry Kim and Terek
"I've discovered a serious flaw in one of the ship's systems."
- - Seven of Nine lectures Harry Kim on his command style
"You've been seeing a lot of my wife lately. Should I be worried?"
- - Tom Paris, to Icheb
"Your blood pressure and neurotransmitter readings indicated a state of arousal."
"It was hot!"
- - Icheb thinking B'Elanna Torres is attracted to him
"I should have stuck to playing Buster Kincaid…"
- - Harry Kim
"I'm not a captain, Neelix. Not yet, anyway."
- - Harry Kim (last lines)
- The Nightingale is a reuse of a Federation attack fighter (see DS9 studio models).
- Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, was the jacket of Bob Rudd, which was previously used in the episode "Alliances" and later worn by stuntman Eric Norris in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Damage". 
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 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
- Ron Glass as Loken
- Manu Intiraymi as Icheb
- Beverly Leech as Dayla
- Paul F. O'Brien as Geral
- Scott Miles as Terek
- Michael Bailous as operations division officer
- Richard Bishop as operations division officer
- Julie David as command division officer
- Carter Edwards as command division officer
- Andrew English as operations division officer
- Hubie Kerns, Jr. as Kraylor engineer
- Joyce Lasley as Lydia Anderson
- Stephen Pisani as operations division officer
- Linnea Soohoo as science division officer
- Pablo Soriano as operations division ensign
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division officer
- Unknown performers as
- Sue Henley – stand-in for Kate Mulgrew
- Susan Lewis – stand-in for Roxann Dawson
- Brita Nowak – stand-in for Jeri Ryan
- Lemuel Perry – stand-in for Tim Russ
- J.R. Quinonez – stand-in for Robert Picardo
- Keith Rayve – stand-in for Robert Duncan McNeill
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Robert Beltran
- Stuart Wong – stand-in for Garrett Wang
2374; Adventures of Captain Proton, The; aiding; Annari; Annari Empire; Annari warship; antimatter injector; assimilation; asteroid field; atmospheric pressure; auto-navigation system; away mission; beta-endorphin; biology; biosignature; blockade; blood pressure; bolt; Borg; Borg resistance; certainty; Class 2 shuttle (three unnamed); claustrophobia; cloaking device; cloaking generator; cloaking system; command structure; cortical stimulant; defense perimeter; deflector beam; deflector pulse; Delta Flyer; deuterium injector; dilithium; diploma; distress call; driver coil; Earth; emergency power; endorphin; engineering; Ensign; environmental control; eggplant parmesan; escape pod; escort; evasive maneuvers; field polarity; flight plan; geology; ground vehicle; guidance vector; guide star; holo-emitter; humanitarian mission; interplanetary war; isoton; Judge Advocate General; Jefferies tube; junior officer; Kincaid, Buster; Klingon; kph; Kraylor; Kraylor homeworld; Kraylor medical transport (aka Kraylor warship); lasagna; lawyer; Lieutenant; Lieutenant Commander; main computer; marriage; medical ship/medical transport; Medical Transport 136 (aka Nightingale); meter; micro-fracture; micron; military mission; mission; mutiny; navigational sensor; nebula; neurotransmitter; Nightingale, Florence; nut; nutritional supplement; phase compensator; phase converter; phaser bank; physician; plomeek soup; polarity; polaron matrix; primary generator; Prime Directive; promotion; Proton, Captain; prototype; race car; rock climbing; saxophone; scanning pulse; scientist; shield grid; shield polarity; shock; social lesson; social skills; soldier; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet Officer's Manual; structural integrity; supply officer; surgical bay; thermal regulator; tractor emitter; tula cheese soufflé; unconditional surrender; unnamed Delta Quadrant planet; Vaadwaur; vaccine; zeolitic ore
- "Nightingale" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Nightingale" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Nightingale" at Wikipedia
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