With energy reserves nearly depleted, Voyager investigates possible resources inside a nebula, but it turns out that the cloud is not really a nebula.
Janeway wants coffee but there is none. Neelix has an Even better than coffee substitute. Janeway says she will use one of her replicator rations but Neelix suggests setting an example by drinking his alternative. Chakotay calls Janeway and she uses it as an immediate excuse to escape Neelix's coffee alternative by responding, "On my way," then cutting off her combadge and running out of the mess hall.
USS Voyager approaches a nebula rich in omicron particles. Wanting to collect some to supplement their power reserves, Janeway orders Voyager into the nebula stating, "There's coffee in that nebula." Voyager enters the nebula with no sign of trouble. Harry Kim says that it's like nothing he's seen before. Tuvok calls Harry Kim on his combadge and tells Harry that as a bridge officer, he needs to learn to keep his comments to himself.
Suddenly, Voyager encounters an energy barrier that rocks the ship to a stop. They decide to punch through to get to the particles. Neelix is upset about entering the nebula. Kes tells him these people are natural born explorers. Neelix says they are natural born idiots. "They have a ship that's a match to any vessel in 100 light years and what do they do with it? 'Hey, lets see if we can find some space anomaly that might rip it apart!'"
An unknown compound begins to attach to the hull and drain the ship's power. They turn around to go out but are stopped by the barrier again. This time, they exceed maximum thrusters and fire phasers and a photon torpedo. Harry Kim tells Janeway they lost 11% of their energy reserves. Janeway realizes she may just have to give up coffee.
B'Elanna Torres analyzes a sample of the compound taken from the hull. She notices something strange and wants a second opinion. She takes the sample to The Doctor. She tells him that she got it from the nebula and he asks why they even bother acting like they're going home if all they're going to do is explore every meter of the quadrant? The Doctor confirms the sample is organic.
Chakotay brings Janeway his medicine bundle to help her find her animal guide. Their ceremony is interrupted by Torres. Janeway explains what they were doing and Torres tells her that she hopes Janeway has better luck with her animal guide than Torres did with hers. Chakotay tells the captain that Torres is the only person he knows who tried to kill her animal guide.
Torres tells Captain Janeway that the sample is organic and it appears the nebula is actually a lifeform. Torres realizes that if they re-enter the nucleogenic cloud being and produce a nucleonic radiation field on the wound, it should promote re-generation. Tuvok must modify the shields to suppress the lifeform's natural defenses.
Neelix becomes upset when he finds out they are going back in and complains to the Captain. He demands that he and Kes be allowed to wait in his ship while Voyager pursues its mission, but Janeway refuses, telling him that "just like Jonah and the Whale, you're going in!" She tells him he is free to leave once they're done. She tells him he is dismissed, adding "That's a Starfleet expression for 'Get out'!"
When Voyager enters the nucleogenic cloud being, it's hit by multi-polaric charges. Paris loses control and Janeway orders Torres to dump deuterium to get control back. They end up deeper in the lifeform. Chakotay suggests they might be able to ride the lifeform's circulatory system to get back to the wound. Neelix delivers refreshments to the bridge, having appointed himself the ship's Chief Morale officer.
They arrive at the wound and generate the nucleonic radiation beam. The Doctor suggests 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.
Janeway is on her way to her quarters to see her animal guide when she meets Kim in the turbolift. He invites her to the holodeck with the others. She acts as if she never played pool before but pockets several solids on the break, then calls her shot and knocks in the 8-ball without looking, winning the game.
- (log entry made by Captain Kathryn Janeway)
- "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 have 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’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 14 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. 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
"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.
"Dismissed. [...] That's a Starfleet expression for 'get out'."
- - Captain Janeway, to Neelix
"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
- This episode takes place "several weeks" after the events in "Caretaker".
- This episode is the first to mention Lewis Zimmerman as the creator of the EMH program.
- This episode notes that Voyager only has 38 photon torpedoes with the inability to replace them. However, by the end of the series, Voyager will have been seen or mentioned to have fired nearly 100. (From Ex Astris Scientia)
- This episode gives the first indication that food and drink on the holodeck (or at least wine) are holographic and not replicated.
- This episode features a large cloud-like creature that bears a striking resemblance to the planet-eating cloud from TAS: "One of Our Planets Is Missing".
- A fin is a United States five-dollar bill.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 1.3, catalogue number VHR 4003, 7 August 1995.
- As part of the VOY Season 1 DVD collection.
Links and References
- Angela Dohrmann as Ricky
- Judy Geeson as Sandrine
- Larry A. Hankin as Gaunt Gary
- Luigi Amodeo as The Gigolo
Ailis paté, akoonah, animal guide, Ayala, bantan, billiards, Chez Sandríne, coffee, counselor, Daliwakan, Even better than coffee substitute, Felada onion crisp, helium, hydrogen, hydroxyl radical, inertial dampening field, Jupiter Station, lipstick, Marseille, microprobe, multi-polar charge, nuanka, nucleogenic cloud being, nucleonic radiation, omicron particle, omicron radiation, photon torpedo, pokattah, pool, reaction control thruster, Replicator ration, Ricky, Saint Emilion, stuffed Cardaway leaf, suture, Takar loggerhead egg, tea, thoron, Toarian ice storm, veterinarian
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"Eye of the Needle"