(written from a Production point of view)
With energy reserves nearly depleted, Voyager investigates possible resources inside a nebula, which is not what it seems.
- "Personal log, stardate 48546.2. Our journey home is several weeks old now, and I have begun to notice in my crew, and in myself, a subtle change as the reality of our situation settles in. Here in the Delta Quadrant, we are virtually the entire family of man. We are more than a crew, and I must find a way to be more than a Captain to these people, but it's not clear to me exactly how to begin. At the Academy, we're taught that a captain is expected to maintain a certain distance. Until now, I've always been comfortable with that distance. Maybe this is just the way it works. Maybe the distance is necessary. Maybe more than ever now, they need me to be larger than life. I only wish I felt larger than life. Computer, delete last sentence."
Captain Janeway walks into the mess hall where Harry Kim and Tom Paris are having breakfast. She wonders if Neelix has come up with something interesting this morning. Kim and Paris joke that every meal Neelix prepares is interesting. She jokes that they should not judge him too quickly for after all, he is helping them conserve replicator energy. When she leaves, Kim tells Paris that they should have asked her to join them. Paris brushes Kim's suggestion off, stating that ensigns don't invite captains to sit down. Kim does not understand what is wrong with showing a little courtesy, but Paris states that captains don't want courtesy, they want respect and that's why they don't get chummy with the lower ranks. Kim thinks Paris is really not getting this right because after all, there are not that many admirals and captains for her to hang around with.
Captain Janeway is looking around in Neelix's kitchen for coffee but there is none to be found. But Neelix has an even better than coffee substitute, which, much to the Captain's dismay, looks more like a cup of tar, rather than coffee; so she says that she will just use one of her replicator rations. However, Neelix suggests setting an example for the entire crew by drinking his alternative, which does not deplete scarce energy reserves on the ship. While contemplating his suggestion, Chakotay calls Janeway who uses this as an immediate excuse to escape Neelix's coffee alternative by cutting the conversation short and rushing out of the mess hall.
On the bridge Chakotay informs her that the USS Voyager has approached a nebula rich in omicron particles. Wanting to collect some to supplement their power reserves, Janeway orders Voyager to set a new course, jokingly stating that "there's coffee in that nebula".
While they are waiting to reach the nebula, Janeway asks Chakotay about the state of the crew given their current situation. She tells him that she is worried about them and wished they had a counselor on board but the nature of their mission to the Badlands in the Alpha Quadrant did not require one. Chakotay says that in his tradition, they talk to animals as their counselors. He tells her that there is a different animal guide for everyone.
Voyager enters the nebula with no sign of trouble. Harry says that it's like nothing he's seen before. Suddenly, Voyager encounters an energy barrier that rocks the ship to a stop. They decide to punch through to get to the particles. After they get through the barrier, they notice that it closes behind them. Neelix, who has been observing all this from the mess hall, is upset about the captain's decision to enter the nebula and possibly endanger the ship and its crew. Kes tells him that she is not endangering anyone's life but that these people are just natural born explorers driven by curiosity and the desire to learn more about the universe around them. Neelix doesn't agree with her and actually thinks that they are nothing but "natural born idiots" who, with a ship that's a match to any vessel in 100 light years, have to stop for every space anomaly to investigate. But Kes disagrees, stating that if she was the captain, she'd open every crack in the universe and peek inside just like Captain Janeway does.
An unknown compound begins to attach to the hull and drain the ship's energy reserves. They turn around to get out of the nebula, but are stopped by the barrier again. This time, they exceed maximum thrusters and fire phasers and a photon torpedo. Harry tells Janeway that as a result of this maneuver, they lost 11% of their energy reserves. Janeway realizes she may just have to give up coffee.
Later that night, Paris breaks into Kim's quarters to wake him up and show him a holographic program on the holodeck entitled Paris 3. It is a holographic recreation of a pool hall in Marseille, France. He takes him to Chez Sandríne: the bar he used to hang around in during his second semester at the Academy when he was stationed in Marseille for his physical training. Paris tries to help Kim get in the mood by having him relax and try some of the holographic wine and women he created. He tells Kim that this is exactly his idea of home: a little piece of Earth in the middle of the Delta Quadrant. But Kim knows that Paris is just shrugging it off and that he really misses home too. "Your shot, Harry," he says to Kim to change the subject.
In the meantime, B'Elanna Torres analyzes a sample of the compound taken from the hull in engineering. She notices something strange and wants a second opinion. She takes the sample to The Doctor in sickbay, telling him that she got it from the nebula upon which The Doctor cynically asks why they even bother acting like they're going home at all if all they're going to do is explore every cubic millimeter of the quadrant. The Doctor recognizes the nucleogenic peptide bonds in the sample, confirming that it is organic.
Chakotay brings Janeway his medicine bundle to help her find her animal guide. Their ceremony is interrupted by Torres. Janeway explains to her what they were doing and Torres tells her that she hopes Janeway has better luck with her animal guide than she did with hers, despite Chakotay initially telling Janeway that he had never shown anyone his medicine bundle. Chakotay tells the captain that B'Elanna is the only person he knows who tried to kill her animal guide. B'Elanna goes on to tell them that the matter left on the hull is organic or, more precisely, that it is the organic elements of a much larger lifeform; it appears as if this nebula is not a nebula at all.
After looking at sensor scans of the lifeform at Tuvok's tactical station, they find that the omicron particles they were after are now leaking through the 'wound' they made; the lifeform is bleeding to death. It is now clear that all the barriers that Voyager encountered were just the lifeform's natural defense measures. Torres suggests re-entering and producing a nucleonic radiation field on the wound as it should promote re-generation. Tuvok must modify the shields to suppress the lifeform's natural defense systems.
Neelix becomes upset when he finds out that they are going back in and goes to the captain to complain. He demands that he and Kes be allowed to wait in his ship while Voyager pursues its mission, but Janeway refuses, telling him that the crew is busy preparing for this and that they don't have time to prepare his ship for launch and that she will most certainly not drop him off on the side of the road every time they hit a bump. She tells him that he is free to leave once they're finished, but for the moment she suggests that he find himself a seat with a good view, because, as she notes, "Just like Jonah and the whale, you're going in."
When Voyager enters the nucleogenic cloud, it's hit by multi-polaric charges. Paris loses control of the helm and the ship rocks, with shields weakening and inertial dampers going offline. The crew is thrown about.
Janeway orders Torres to dump deuterium to get thruster control back, despite needing that fuel and then orders Paris to reset the inertial dampers. They get control of the ship back, but they are now much deeper in the creature and need to get back to the site of the wound. Chakotay suggests they might be able to ride the energy currents which, up until now, they thought were random. However, he suspects they are part of the lifeform's circulatory system. Confirming they are filled with omicron particles, the three guess that the current will pass by the wound, so they can just surf there, using the reaction control thrusters in Drift Mode only.
Just then, Neelix delivers refreshments to the bridge, having just appointed himself the ship's Chief Morale officer. Janeway thinks it's hardly the time, but Neelix is unfazed and starts serving some of the crew. She reluctantly takes a bite when Paris announces they've arrived at the wound.
Janeway orders Torres to generate the nucleonic radiation beam, but it does little help. The Doctor interjects to suggest that the ship itself can be used as a suture to help the wound heal. To avoid being attacked by the lifeform's defenses, they decide to create a distraction, much in the way Janeway once had to distract her wounded Irish Setter, Mollie. The wound is closed and the crew leaves with a new understanding that what they find in the Delta Quadrant may not always be what it seems.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We set out to augment our energy reserves and wound up depleting them by over 20 percent. As a result, we've set a new course for a planet fourteen light years away that Neelix says might have compatible energy sources to offer us. It is out of our way, but circumstances offer few alternatives. So much for raising spirits…'":
Janeway is on her way to her quarters to see her animal guide when she meets Kim in the turbolift. He invites her to join them on the holodeck with the others. She acts towards the crew as if she has never played pool before but pockets several solids on the break, then calls her shot and knocks in the eight-ball in the pocket without even looking.
- ..."A-koo-chee-moya. We are far from the sacred places of our grandfathers, and from the bones of our people, but perhaps there is one powerful being who will embrace this good crew and give them the answer they seek.":
"There's coffee in that nebula!"
- - Captain Janeway
"I've never seen anything like it!"
"Tuvok to Kim. Mister Kim, that is a comment we prefer not to hear from a senior officer on the bridge. It makes the junior officers nervous."
- - Tuvok, scolding Harry Kim
"These people are natural born idiots if you ask me. They don't appreciate what they have here. This ship is the match of any vessel within a hundred light years and what do they do with it? Well, uh, let's see if we can't find some space anomaly today that might RIP IT APART!"
- - Neelix
"I remember being in my mother's womb."
- - Harry Kim
"It's as thick as a Toarian ice storm out there."
- - Tom Paris, commenting on Voyager traveling through the nucleogenic cloud being
"I'm curious, captain, exactly what are you looking for?"
"I need to know if we did serious harm to this lifeform."
"Let's see, you ran your ship through it, fired phasers at it, and blew a hole in it with a photon torpedo. I'd say it's a pretty good chance that you did some fairly significant...."
"Computer: mute audio."
- - Captain Janeway and The Doctor
"Computer, resume audio."
"How kind of you."
- - Tom Paris, informing Janeway of The Doctor trying to speak to her through the muted viewscreen
"I found this place just after my pocket was picked walking by the harbor."
"Somebody picked your pocket on Earth?"
"Oh, they just do it for tourists. They give it back... most of the time."
- - Tom Paris and Harry Kim, while in Chez Sandríne
"The commander was introducing me to my animal guide."
"I hope that you have better luck with yours than I had with mine."
"B'Elanna's the only one I know who tried to kill her animal guide."
- - Janeway, Torres, and Chakotay
"What do you make of it, Mr. Tuvok?"
"I am unable to offer an identification, Captain."
"Kim to Tuvok. In other words; 'you've never seen anything like it'. Oh, I promise not to tell the junior officers."
- - Captain Janeway, Tuvok, and Harry Kim's sarcastic response.
"I don't think the captain is an idiot."
- - Kes
"Captain, I understand that this nebula we've discovered is some kind of MONSTER?"
- - Neelix
"Dismissed. ... That's a Starfleet expression for 'get out'."
- - Captain Janeway, to Neelix
"There was no need for you to come to the bridge, captain."
"Yes, there was."
- - Chakotay and Janeway, after Neelix offered Janeway his "better than coffee substitute"
- - Tom Paris, as Voyager plunges into the nucleogenic cloud being
"Paris? Did you program this guy?"
"He's a pig. And so are you."
- - B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris
"A nebula? What were we doing in a nebula? No, wait, don't tell me. We were "investigating." That's all we do around here. Why pretend we're going home at all? All we're going to do is investigate every cubic millimeter of this quadrant, aren't we?"
- - The Doctor
"We talk to animals."
- - Chakotay
"Just like Jonah and the whale... you're going in."
- - Janeway, to Neelix
- - Neelix, contemplating Janeway's statement
"Under the circumstances, don't you think you really ought to change your program?"
"Hmm... a hologram that programs himself. What would I do with that ability? Create a family? Raise an army?"
- - B'Elanna Torres and The Doctor
Story and script
- The premise for this episode, as thought up by Supervising Producer Brannon Braga, primarily involved the story's cloud plot-thread. According to Braga, "One thing the story was always about was our injuring this creature and having to help it." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138) He also said, "My original notion was that a big nebula turns out to be a life form; basically Fantastic Voyage with Voyager trapped in this life form's system, and ultimately they must use the ship as a pacemaker to repair the damage they've done." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 48) Executive Producer Jeri Taylor expressed that the premise was typical of the series; "One of the things that we always look for is the 'Wow', a science-fiction hook. We think the audience wants to have some kind of mind-bending thing like the big cloud is living." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
- The writing staff had varied opinions about the episode's genesis. Brannon Braga declared, "It was a good action story, an alien creature that we hadn't quite seen before." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 48) Conversely, Jeri Taylor characterized the premise as "just sort of a big glumpy story" and, according to fellow Executive Producer Michael Piller, the episode was always plagued with problems, being "a troubled script from day one." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 139 & 138)
- Michael Piller began writing the episode's initial draft script during late October 1994. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 323; ) Jeri Taylor noted, "Michael took it over." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138) The story was handed to him partly because Brannon Braga was preoccupied elsewhere. "It was a story I wanted to do," Braga revealed, "but I was working on other things. Eventually, Michael ended up writing it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 48) Another reason the story came under the auspices of Michael Piller was its problematic nature; troubled scripts were often left to him, owing to the commonality that no-one else wanted them or knew how to make them work. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138) Casting his mind back to how he started to deal with the episode, Piller related, "To be honest, I just sat down one day, didn't plan how I was going to solve the problems and just started to write." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, p. 12)
- Michael Piller immediately encountered difficulties with the script. Continuing the story of how he began to tackle the plot, Piller stated, "So I sat down at the typewriter knowing we had the cloud part of the story. It was an interesting special-effects show in that regard, but it was such an expensive optical that we couldn't spend a great deal of time on it, so we had to come up with other material." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138) Piller also explained, "The technical jargon and the concept of going into and doing all the stuff with that creature, that's plotting. You know that's expensive and that it will cost all the money in the world. So, you can't do too much of it because you won't be able to afford it. You do stuff you can afford to do instead." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, pp. 12-13) Jeri Taylor characterized the visual effects that this early version of the story required as "horrendously expensive." Another problem was that the cloud plot-thread would not provide enough story for the episode. Piller recounted, "I knew from a production standpoint and from a writing standpoint, that would take up about twenty pages and leave me forty or thirty-five more that I had to fill up with something else." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138) Taylor agreed, "There wasn't a whole lot of story there." She added that the living-nebula premise wouldn't have been enough to fill up the entire episode. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 40)
- Michael Piller's solution was to base the rest of the script around the characters. Indirectly referencing the effects-heavy cloud plot-thread, Jeri Taylor reminisced, "Michael scaled that part of it way back and then launched into all the various character scenes." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 139) She also noted, "It was a story that lent itself to do that. A more intricately plotted story might not let you get away with that." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 40) Piller himself recalled, "I did the stuff I like to do, writing character material, and I threw people into situations and let them talk to each other and discover each other." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, p. 13) He elaborated, "I just started saying 'OK, what can I do with this character, what can I do with that character?' and I wrote a variety of relationships into the show and did it with enough humor that it was just fun. That's what it really came to." He clarified, "Fundamentally, what we had a chance to do was take a look at the characters in further detail. I also [...] think we were able to turn the corner on the depression that comes with being lost." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138) Regarding this facet, Taylor remarked, "We wanted to retain basically the upbeat, positive approach toward the future that was characterized by The Next Generation, but we also decided not to take ourselves so damn seriously." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 40)
- The holographic environment of the pool hall, Chez Sandrine, was devised as a setting to facilitate some of the character scenes. Brannon Braga stated, "We [...] wanted to create our version of the Enterprise's poker table [from TNG]. We thought pool might be fun, so we created an old Marseilles pool hall, and ended up using it quite a bit." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 48) Actor Robert Duncan McNeill said, "I think initially the writers felt like it was a great holodeck [location] – a relaxed sort of cozy atmosphere to create for our series regulars to go hang out and let their hair down." (Star Trek: Voyager Companion (p. 24))
- A particular character moment that Michael Piller added to the story was the vision quest that Chakotay guides Janeway on. He noted, "I found little things to develop [regarding the characters], like Chakotay's animal guide." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, p. 13) In coming up with this scene, Piller conferred with the series' Native American consultant, Jamake Highwater, and used a piece of his own personal backstory. "It was an experience that I had personally in a pain-control clinic when I was having dreadful problems with my back. The teacher basically led us on a visual exercise, and I found myself on a beach. I looked and saw a small lizard, so that moment in the episode is a testimony to my own back problems. My inner adviser is a lizard." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
- Brannon Braga implied that Michael Piller's writing of the character scenes may have been influenced by a certain film. "Michael loves Pulp Fiction, and I think there's a little bit of that in the way the characters talk to each other, going off in tangents," Braga reckoned. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
- Michael Piller did not enjoy having to write the technobabble associated with the cloud creature, finding that doing so was the least interesting part of his experience of writing the episode. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138) On the other hand, he enthused, "I had a great deal of fun with the characters in that, and that's what made that show special to me." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, p. 13)
- The episode's final draft script was submitted on 22 November 1994. 
Cast and characters
- Michael Piller enjoyed the ways in which this episode developed some particular relationships. He stated, "I [...] like the continuing relationship that we were able to develop between Paris and Kim, and Chakotay and Janeway." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
- Neelix actor Ethan Phillips relished the chance to, in character, complain about the explorative spirit of Voyager's Starfleet contingent. He recalled, "I got to say, 'These people are idiots. Every time they see a damn anomaly they go inside and risk everybody's life. What are they doing?' That's [Neelix's] attitude and I love it. He has been through some horrendous things in the past and he doesn't want to jeopardize his own life and that of Kes or some of his new friends on the ship. He has a ways to go yet in understanding the philosophy of the Starfleet people, which is that they have to explore. He has done a lot of exploring in his life, but that doesn't mean he likes to put himself or others in danger to do it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 3, p. 19)
- The eight-ball that Janeway sinks at the end of this episode was performed by Janeway actress Kate Mulgrew herself. "That was me with the pool stick, baby!" she remarked, laughing. "A guy came in and we worked on my game for a while, but when we shot the scene, it was certainly me who sank it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 23)
- Kate Mulgrew was ultimately very proud of both the episode and her character's role in it. "I felt very good about that episode," she emoted. "That showed a deepening all the way around and a cohesion in the group. Janeway acted as somebody who's quite alive and had a bit with nearly everyone where she was not so much the anchor. That was good." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 5, p. 23)
- Jeri Taylor felt that Janeway's interactions with her crew, in this episode, helped to set her apart from previous male Star Trek captains. "In that episode, we saw Janeway concerned about the morale of the crew and questioning her role as captain and how she would be able to hold things together in this environment," Taylor observed. "Then, when she comes in to play pool, we show that she's not necessarily going to be the captain of captains past. She is willing to have a different kind of relationship with the crew than Kirk or Picard." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 124-125) Taylor believed that Janeway's degree of bonding with her crew was influenced by the circumstances that they find themselves in. "This situation would force Janeway to try to be closer to her crew," Taylor speculated. "She didn't have the luxury, in the conditions they were in, to be remote from them. So she's already out playing pool with the guys and strolling around making friends. Those are tonal changes that we decided upon in order to make it a little more buoyant [than TNG]." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 40)
- The scene wherein Chakotay guides Janeway on her vision quest was significant to Chakotay actor Robert Beltran. "That was an important scene," the actor opined. "I felt in Chakotay a sense of joy at revealing a part of himself to Janeway. He doesn't reveal that kind of thing to people he doesn't feel close to or doesn't feel he can trust. It was obvious he trusted Janeway and felt a warmth for her." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 7, p. 16)
- The beach sequence in Janeway's vision quest used a miniature beach set that was created on Paramount Stage 16. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
- The holographic Chez Sandrine was actually also built on Stage 16. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, pp. 7 & 255)
- This episode is a bottle show. (Delta Quadrant, p. 25)
- The episode gave David Livingston – who had previously directed installments of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine – his first opportunity to direct Voyager. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 139)
- David Livingston found difficulty with filming Janeway's experience of the vision quest. "It was kind of a weird sequence. Piller wanted us to shoot it in Janeway's office, but I wanted to go to the beach. I didn't want to use a lizard, but it was from his own life, and he wanted a big, kind of cruel-looking animal," Livingston recalled. "We shot what felt like a thousand feet of film trying to get the lizard to move. He just sat there for ten minutes. We had a hair dryer on it, trying to get it to move around without hurting it. The thing was so lethargic it would just sit there. We shot it second unit because there was no time to do first-unit lizard work." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
- To portray a moment when a Voyager crewmember played by Stunt Coordinator Dennis Madalone falls from the upper floor of engineering, Madalone landed on a safety mat lying on the deck below, out of the camera's line of sight. The filming of this stunt can be seen in the documentary Star Trek: Voyager - Inside the New Adventure.
- The sixth day of this episode's seven-day shooting schedule was Monday 5 December 1994; filming was due to conclude on Tuesday, 6 December 1994. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, pp. 1 & 7) On 5 December, filming took place on the sickbay set on Paramount Stage 9 and, shortly before 2:00 p.m., Unit Production Manager Brad Yacobian mediated a misunderstanding that had escalated, having involved flared tempers and multiple phone calls. He then left the set for a production meeting regarding "Eye of the Needle", while filming continued on the sickbay set (with Livingston and the episode's designated first assistant director, Jerry Fleck). (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, pp. 1-4, 7 & 37)
- In the room where "Eye of the Needle"'s production meeting was to take place but shortly before the meeting, Special Effects Coordinator Dick Brownfield was preoccupied with thoughts about how much smoke David Livingston would want him to use during this episode's filming on the Chez Sandrine set, the following day. The script called for smoke to be used in the bar, typical of most real bars. However, Brownfield was concerned that David Livingston would want to go overboard with smoke, as doing so would likely slow production down, causing the production to run past its alloted time and budget. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 7) Ultimately, Livingston decided to use smoke only minimally. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 9)
- Shortly after "Eye of the Needle"'s production meeting, Producer Merri Howard returned to her office and listened to her phone messages, one of which was a call from David Livingston on Stage 9. He expressed an urgent need to speak with her about the possibility of additional extras for filming on the Chez Sandrine set, the next afternoon. Although he usually served as Voyager's supervising producer and therefore Howard's boss, the fact he was directing this episode meant that he was answerable to her. Howard smiled; such a request from Livingston was not an uncommon one, during his stints as a director, even though he was often the person – in his capacity as supervising producer – who had to limit the amount of extras for other episodes. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, pp. 41 & 42-43)
- Later on 5 December, filming on this episode, also following "Eye of the Needle"'s production meeting, was temporarily halted by a group photo shoot for TV Guide on Stage 9. This interruption gave most of the production crew (including sound mixer Greg Agalsoff) a welcome break from filming. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 74) Despite the fact that the photo shoot had been scheduled on the call sheet for that day, David Livingston disliked having to halt production on this episode for the magazine shoot and he consequently grew impatient. Nevertheless, he knew that the press visit was a necessary intrusion. He used the time to read over his script notebook, carefully reviewing his plans for the scenes that were still to be shot. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 97)
- Filming moved to Stage 16's Chez Sandrine set later that day. After returning to her office from the production meeting, Jeri Taylor received a phone call from David Livingston, who was questioning a moment in the script, which called for an extra to stumble while leaving the bar. Taylor responded, "To suggest that people drink to the point of inebriation and that's sort of a ho ho funny joke is simply a message whose time has passed. I feel the same way about not showing people smoking. If he stumbles when he's going in or out of a bar then the association is there. We can't run a crawl (message on the screen) that says, 'He's stumbling because he has a sore foot.' People will look at him and say, 'He's drunk.' I think that's unnecessary. More than unnecessary, it's a bad decision." (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 255)
- During production on the Chez Sandrine set, Kim actor Garrett Wang raised some concerns about female attention, to which Paris actor Robert Duncan McNeill then gave Wang some advice. "I jokingly complained to David Livingston during a scene we were filming in a pool hall," Wang reflected. "All these women were coming up and fawning over [Paris], and I asked, 'David, why doesn't Harry get any women?' 'Because you're the nice guy,' he answered. And then Robert McNeill turned to me and said, 'You know, I used to play innocent and naive in my early twenties, and you're going to have to go through that for a while before you can be this stud guy like me." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 125)
- David Livingston took particular relish in filming the pool hall scenes, which involved numerous extras. "It was fun to work with Judy Geeson from To Sir, with Love," he later said, "it's fun when you do all of that stuff because you're not just shooting people on the bridge. It's more of a challenge." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 139)
- Despite David Livingston having decided to use smoke on the Chez Sandrine set only minimally, the next day's filming nevertheless ran late, for reasons totally unrelated to the smoke; it ended, specifically, at 12:30 a.m. on the early morning of Wednesday, 7 December 1994. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 9)
- The beach sequence in this episode incorporates a shot of the ocean that was taken by Visual Effects Coordinator Ronald B. Moore. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138) Moore was the designated visual effects supervisor for this episode (rather than David Stipes or Robert D. Bailey). (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 33) In fact, this was the first Voyager episode that Moore was assigned to. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 81)
- The interior of the nucleogenic cloud being of this episode presented Ron Moore with the challenge of creating a CGI environment. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 81) The blue "window globs" inside the cloud being were contributed by Santa Barbara Studios. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 105, p. 57) However, the fact that the effects sequences required Voyager to pass through multiple layers of the cloud-being strained even Santa Barbara Studios' capabilities, given the even-more-restricting-than-usual limits of time and money inherent to creating CGI. Ron Moore remarked, "'The Cloud' was a tough one [....] We weren't as happy as we could have been with the final product. We got to a point where the stuff looked great, but usually we get something and take it in the [compositing] bay and tweak it, then marry everything together. The very last stuff that came through in 'The Cloud' was just rushed through that stage and it can hurt you if you're not careful." Even a year beforehand, the effects sequences of this episode would have been created with more traditional methods – filmed elements altered and composited in a digital effects bay. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 125)
- The music for this episode was composed by Jay Chattaway, who considered it the best episode of Voyager's first season. In a particular moment from this episode (as with many episodes), Chattaway tried to project emotions that Tuvok was presumably feeling yet could not express, himself. The composer recalled, "There was quite a bit of levity in a dialogue sequence on the Bridge between Harry Kim and Tuvok. Tuvok was trying to explain to young Mr. Kim that ensigns were not supposed to respond in certain ways. Vulcans always have that wry, raised eyebrow kind of look. I was able to play to a light moment that further cemented their bonding as a unified crew." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, p. 47)
Continuity and trivia
- In the context of Voyager's first season, this episode gives a rare insight into Chakotay's culture, although the writers had been wary of showing too much Native American beliefs and practices, due to the fact that they were wary of depicting it in a stereotypical and clichéd way. Jeri Taylor mused, "People are always pitching Chakotay vision-quest stories, and we wanted to go toward the direction of underdoing it rather than overdoing it. 'The Cloud' is the only reference that is talked about, but we do not actually experience it in the first season." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
- This episode takes place "several weeks" after the events of "Caretaker".
- The Doctor mentions Lewis Zimmerman and the Jupiter Station Holo-programming Center in this episode. Zimmerman would later be revealed as the creator of the EMH in "Projections", and would appear as a hologram in "The Swarm".
- After being introduced in this episode, the Chez Sandrine holoprogram is revisited on several occasions over the first three seasons before being replaced by Neelix's Resort program in "Warlord", although it reappears during Season 5 in "Someone to Watch Over Me". Criticizing the location, Robert Duncan McNeill remarked, "There was something that was just a little too dark and moody. It didn't have enough fun to it. Something about a bar didn't seem like quite the right atmosphere for us. Sandrine's, it was fine [but] I was not heartbroken when [the writers] moved on to trying other things." (Star Trek: Voyager Companion (p. 24))
- When The Doctor is musing about having the ability to program himself, he mentions that he might "create a family," which he later does in the Season 3 episode "Real Life".
- This episode gives the first indication that food and drink on the holodeck (or at least wine) are holographic and not replicated.
- The large cloud-like creature featured in this episode bears a striking resemblance to the planet-eating cloud from TAS: "One of Our Planets Is Missing".
- Chakotay initially tells Janeway that he's never shown his medicine bundle to another person but, moments later, he remarks that Torres is the first person he knew that tried to kill her animal guide, which implies that he has shown his medicine bundle to her. The phrase "the first person" also implies that there may have been others. In addition, Torres' words and demeanor indicate recognition, further supporting the possibility that Chakotay has, in fact, shown his medicine bundle to others. Chakotay also tells Janeway that she will need to create her own medicine bundle in time, so it is possible that Chakotay helped Torres create hers before she went on the vision quest.
- It is possible that when Chakotay helped Torres to try and find her spirit animal that they had either created a medicine bundle for her or had use of another.
- Although the story leaves it unclear what form of currency a fin is (with Tom Paris guessing that it's "some old kind of Scandinavian currency"), it is actually a United States five-dollar bill.
- Although Chakotay says they have a complement of 38 photon torpedoes, to which Janeway responds that they have no way to replace them, Voyager would end up using at least 81 torpedoes over the course of the series.
- Jeri Taylor liked how this episode mixes a science fiction idea together with character arcs, saying that the episode integrated the two elements in a "nice way." Additionally, she described the character scenes as "warm and delightful" as well as "fun and wonderful." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138; Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 40)
- Brannon Braga was also satisfied with how Michael Piller centered the episode around the characters, noting, "He did a very nice job." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 4, p. 13) Braga further said, "What Michael did with the teleplay was make it all work." The way in which the characters go off in tangents was a certain aspect that Braga thought "worked really well." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
- David Livingston's opinion of the episode was mixed. He noted, "I was disappointed when I read the script because I thought it was just another space-creature thing. We had visited that territory before and in fact we did it a couple times on Voyager. But this script was deceptive because the most interesting part of that show was all the B stories with the pool room and stuff. The B stories on board the ship made the A story OK for me." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 139)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 7.9 million homes, and a 12% share.
- Cinefantastique gave this installment 4 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 40)
- In their unofficial reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (p. 40), co-writers Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross both individually rate this episode 3 out of 4 stars (defined as "good").
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 25) gives the episode a rating of 5 out of 10.
- In the lead-up to this episode's VHS release, Star Trek Magazine reviewer Stuart Clark commented, "'The Cloud' is a perfect showcase of Robert Picardo's talents as the Doctor." (Star Trek Monthly issue 6, p. 11) However, in Star Trek Magazine's retrospective "Ultimate Guide", the magazine gave this episode 2 out of 5 Starfleet-style arrowhead insignia. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 29)
- The concept of the akoonah, which is introduced in this episode, proved to be highly controversial among viewers. Jeri Taylor enthused, "It's been extremely controversial, which I love. I'm delighted to stir up controversy." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 138)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 1.3, catalog number VHR 4003, 7 August 1995
- As part of the VOY Season 1 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Angela Dohrmann as Ricky
- Judy Geeson as Sandrine
- Larry A. Hankin as Gaunt Gary
- Luigi Amodeo as Gigolo
- Johnetta Anderson as bar patron
- Derek Anthony as operations ensign
- C. Bender as sciences crewman
- Jasmin Bischoff as operations officer
- Sal Butera as operations officer
- R. Capurro as sciences officer
- James Delano as waiter
- Brian Donofrio as sciences officer
- Kenneth David Ebling as command officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Gunnel Eriksson as operations officer
- Norman Gibbs as operations officer
- Julie Jiang as operations lieutenant junior grade
- Katsuki Kazuhiro as command officer
- Karl Laird as artist
- Eva Larson as operations officer
- Nora Leonhardt as operations officer
- Dennis Madalone as Starfleet officer
- Bob Mascagno as accordion player
- Coleman McClary as operations officer
- Jaehne Moebius as sciences officer
- Jordan Monheim as sciences officer
- Karole Nellis as poet
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- John Parsons as Michael Parsons
- Chad Patterson as sciences officer
- Jerry Quinn as command officer
- Regina Richardson as operations officer
- Martin Roadblock as Markalian
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
- Marshal Silverman as alien bar patron
- Simon Stotler as operations ensign
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
- Julie Thornton as operations officer
- Rod Wallace as operations officer
- Debra Waters as command ensign
- Trisha Burton as hand double for Kate Mulgrew
- Sue Henley as hand double for Kate Mulgrew (cut)
- Cy Kennedy as photo double for Robert Beltran
- Nora Leonhardt as photo double for Roxann Biggs-Dawson
- Jerry Quinn as photo double for Robert Duncan McNeill
- Richard Sarstedt as photo double for Larry Hankin (cut)
- Unknown actress as hand double for Kate Mulgrew (pool)
- Unknown actor as photo double for Ethan Phillips
- Carl David Burks – stand-in for Robert Duncan McNeill
- Tracee Lee Cocco – stand-in for Angela Dohrmann
- Heather Ferguson – stand-in for Roxann Biggs-Dawson
- Sue Henley – stand-in for Kate Mulgrew
- Kerry Hoyt – stand-in for Robert Duncan McNeill
- Cy Kennedy – stand-in for Robert Beltran
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Roxann Biggs-Dawson
- Susan Lewis – stand-in for Kate Mulgrew
- Coleman McClary – stand-in for Luigi Amodeo
- Zack Milan – stand-in for Robert Picardo
- Lemuel Perry – stand-in for Tim Russ
- Jerry Quinn – stand-in for Robert Duncan McNeill
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Robert Picardo and Larry Hankin
- Jennifer Somers – stand-in for Jennifer Lien
- Simon Stotler – stand-in for Ethan Phillips
- John Tampoya – stand-in for Garrett Wang
- Unknown actress – stand-in for Judy Geeson
18th century; 1932; 1953; 2346; ability; acceleration; acid; Ailis paté; A-koo-chee-moya; akoonah; Ames Pool Hall; analysis; animal guide; antimatter; apron; army; bantan; Baxial; beach; bear; billiard player; billiards; blackbird; breeding; centrifuge; CHAH-mooz-ee; Chakotay's tribe; Charlotte Corday in prison; Chez Sandríne; class 4 microprobe; coffee; concept; cooking; counselor; cubic millimeter; cue; cup; Daliwakan; degauss; Delta Quadrant; density; deuterium; dolls; driver coil; dust; dust nodule; duty call; Earth; emergency medical holographic channel; even better than coffee substitute; expression; family; Felada onion crisp; felucca; fin; food heater lamp; France; free fall; French; French language; gesture; gigolo; gourmet; harbor; heartburn; helium; hologram; hors d'œuvre; hull; hustler; hydrogen; hydroponics; hydroxyl radical; impulse engine; inertial dampening field; Intrepid class decks; Jonah; Jung, Carl; Jupiter Station Holoprogramming Center; kilometer; Kim, Mary; lady; lipstick; logic; lower ranks; MacAllister, James Mooney; magnetic field; Marseille; Marseille Starfleet base; medicine bundle; meter; microprobe; microscope; mile; Mister Vulcan; molecular scan; molecule; monsieur; mood; morale officer; Mosconi, Willie; multi-polar charge; mute; New York City; nuanka; nucleogenic cloud being; nucleonic beam; nucleonic radiation; omicron particle; omicron radiation; outer rim; painting; Paris 3; Paris' dogs; phenomenon; photon torpedo; pig; pink; planet near nucleogenic cloud being; pokattah; polarity; polycyclic structure; pool; programmer; psychoactive herb; quantum chemistry; reaction control thruster; rear thruster; red alert; regeneration; repartee; replicator ration; roommate; rulebook; Saint-Émilion; Scandinavian; semester; senior officer; short range scan; sleep mask; spicy; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; stuffed Cardaway leaf; suture; Takar loggerhead egg; tea; thoron; Toarian ice storm; Tokay gecko; tourist; tramp; tray; vehicle status; veterinarian; vision quest; vital organ; Vulcan; wallet; whale; wharf; wine; yellow alert; Zimmerman, Lewis
- "The Cloud" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Cloud" at Wikipedia
- "The Cloud" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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