(written from a Production point of view)
Seven investigates a massive "conspiracy" involving the Federation, the Cardassians, the Caretaker, and numerous other alien races, which indicates that Voyager was deliberately stranded in the Delta Quadrant.
Naomi Wildman waits for Seven of Nine in Cargo Bay Two. When Seven arrives, she questions Naomi's presence. Naomi reminds her that it is time for their weekly game of kadis-kot. Seven tells her it is rescheduled for the next day and begins to work. When Naomi asks what she is doing, Seven tells her she is modifying her regeneration alcove to serve as a cortical processing subunit. Naomi is disappointed that she cannot watch, but complies when Seven asks her to leave.
Chakotay and Janeway are dining together in the captain's quarters, when Chakotay asks if Voyager can detour to an interesting class K nebula twenty-five light years off starboard. Janeway remarks that the decision would be a major course change for a minor nebula, but Chakotay reminds her that they are explorers. Janeway grants the request, then asks Chakotay if he is ready for her home cooking. She remarks that it is a recipe she has never tried, and quips "We are explorers, remember?"
Seven of Nine completes her regeneration cycle at 0200 and hails Lieutenant Torres, who informs Seven of the time and says that it had better be important. On the bridge, a disgruntled Torres asks Janeway for permission to take the sensor network off-line. When Janeway inquires as to the reason, Seven of Nine informs her that she believes a pair of photonic fleas and possibly their offspring have made their home in it. Using her new cortical processing subunit, Seven has assimilated several teraquads of Voyager's database while in her alcove, and has constructed a plausible chain of events. An away team from Voyager encountered a Kartelan freighter carrying supplies from a former Talaxian colony. There, Neelix picked up a bucket of amber spice, which contained the larvae of the fleas, and he brought it to the kitchen. At the same time, Ensign Kim was repairing a faulty relay in the mess hall replicator. The newly-hatched fleas left the amber spice and went in search of nutrition, namely plasma particles. The open replicator circuits were a perfect target. Now the photonic fleas have mated and every so often tap into the sensor relays for nourishment. When they do, the sensors momentarily lose their resolution. Tuvok admits that the theory is logical, if speculative. Janeway is clearly intrigued – she authorizes the downtime, and accompanies Torres and Seven into a Jefferies tube, where they access a sensor node to examine the relays for themselves. Amazingly, a nest of photonic fleas are indeed living in the network. Astonished, Janeway tells Torres to find a new home for them.
En route to the nebula, Janeway detects graviton emissions about ten light years away and orders Lieutenant Paris to alter course. Paris reminds the captain that Chakotay had his heart set on the nebula, but Janeway says that he will have to wait. Voyager arrives at an unusual station that no one can readily identify. A power fluctuation causes Janeway to hail a vessel near the station and meets a man named Tash. He tells the crew that if he can't stabilize the power grid, "they will be able to see the explosion back to... where did you say you were from?" Grinning, Janeway replies that she didn't, but that they are from a planet called Earth. Tash remarks that they will be able to see the explosion all the way back to Earth, and then proceeds to tell Janeway what the station really is. He explains that it is a "catapult," a device that is capable of catapulting a vessel across space faster than you can say "catapult a vessel across space". Intrigued, Janeway beams Tash aboard and meets with him in her ready room, where Tash tells the crew that he built the catapult to get himself home. He had been exploring an unstable wormhole near his homeworld when he was pulled in by accident, stranding him at least ten years from his home. Kim remarks that Voyager knows the feeling. Tash says that he is going to make his jump if he can fix his station, and then asks Janeway for her help and what she might want in return. The good captain tells him that she isn't asking for anything in return, but Tash catches on and tells her that Voyager could use the catapult after he left. It wouldn't take them to Earth, but it would cut off a few years. Janeway says that if she can determine that it would be safe for Voyager then she would do just that.
Seven of Nine wakes up from her alcove and goes to Janeway's quarters late at night. Once there, she informs Janeway that Tash's catapult uses the same technology the Caretaker used to trap Voyager in the Delta Quadrant five years earlier.
Shocked, Janeway asks Seven how she came to this conclusion, to which the ex-Borg replies that she scanned Tash's station and found an epsilon radiation surge emanating from it. Janeway says that it is not unheard of, but Seven retorts that the radiation is a by-product of a tetryon reactor, a device she believes is in the catapult and a device the Caretaker used to capture vessels, including Voyager. Janeway states that the first time she met a Caretaker, she was pulled half way across the galaxy, and the second time she was almost killed. She is not eager for a third round.
In engineering, Janeway, Seven, and Torres question Tash about his tetryon reactor and why he hid it from them. Tash informs them that he hid it because there were many species who would try to steal such advanced technology. Janeway believes him and tells him that she sees no reason why their deal can't continue, but does tell him that she will be watching him closely. Pulling Seven away, she tells her that she doesn't truly know if he is telling the truth or not. Seven says that the reactor may be from the Caretaker's array itself, to which Janeway replies that it is a long shot that could be true. However, Seven continues to produce evidence that her statement was fact.
She reviews the ship's logs of the array's destruction and, in the visual logs, sees a tractor beam on the very section the reactor was located, suggesting a ship protecting it during the destruction. However, the full logs were incomplete through damage received at the time, and the computer can't verify anything. Seeing that the torpedo used had a higher yield than expected, she goes to Tuvok briefly, since he designed it, however, he states a reasonable explanation that they wanted to be certain it was destroyed. Next, she sees Neelix, who offers to give her the sensor logs from his ship. Seven of Nine regenerates in her alcove with the new information, and wakes up a few hours later looking disturbed. She hails Chakotay and tells him to meet her in astrometrics. Once he arrives, Seven tells the computer to seal the door and turn off all sensors around the room. Amused, Chakotay asks her why she has done this, to which she turns to him and tells him that Voyager's presence in the Delta Quadrant was no accident, but that she was stranded here on purpose. When Chakotay asks her who stranded Voyager there, she replies that it was Captain Janeway.
A very surprised Chakotay listens to Seven's theory, noting the various leaps in her theory, but increasingly unable to ignore the circumstantial evidence. She begins by noting that there was a Cardassian ship detected by Neelix's ship before the Voyager arrived. She notes that, instead of being destroyed, the ship vanished, presumably sent back to deliver strategic information. She then states there are precedents in the Federation for unauthorized territorial advances, including those against the Maquis. Focusing on Tuvok and Janeway, she (strongly) suggests that Tuvok infiltrated Chakotay's ship, in part, to deliver final instructions to the Caretaker. Then, the Voyager was pulled in a matter of days.
Seven then turns to Janeway, stating she destroyed the array in order to keep the ship in the Delta Quadrant to map it out and gain information. She shows him the picture of the tractor beam during the array's destruction, indicating another ship. Further, she notes that tricobalt devices are not standard on Starfleet ships, conveniently the only thing that would tear subspace and possibly protect the reactor if the cloaked ship pushed it in. She states Tuvok and Janeway knew where it was going, and that it would be delivered along their path to Earth independently to Tash.
Seven now believes that Janeway intends to use the catapult to bring more Cardassian and Starfleet ships to the Quadrant for conquest. Chakotay dismisses this, and Seven proceeds to recite circumstantial evidence such as Janeway's send-off of Kes, someone who had further suspicions of the Caretaker and The Doctor possibly bearing a secret communication in his transmission to a Starfleet vessel. Further, Janeway's alliances with the Borg, Hirogen, and the Terkellian could be seen as developing a tactical infrastructure and, coupled with the multiple detours from their path to Earth in the name of exploration, all investments for a larger plan of future conquest.
She urges Chakotay to delay the plan to use the catapult, and Chakotay agrees. Back on the bridge, they receive word that Tash succeeded, and Chakotay brings his modifications personally to Torres. There, he orders her to make a small disruptive change to delay the plan, saying he won't inform the Captain, yet.
Torres doesn't believe Seven, saying she's joking, but Chakotay doesn't think so. He won't go to the Captain, as it's a big accusation and he wants to review Seven's data. Torres agrees with delaying the modifications, and even insists to Kim as he comes by that she doesn't need help.
Meanwhile, Seven of Nine regenerates again, and, this time, hails Janeway to meet her in astrometrics. Once she arrives, Seven tells the computer to seal the door and turn off all sensors around the room. The conversation between Seven and Janeway proceeds similarly to the one between Seven and Chakotay, except Seven now uses the same evidence to accuse Chakotay and the Maquis instead of Janeway and the Federation. Despite Chakotay seemingly giving up his allegiance long ago, she states that he is using the array's reactor to attack Starfleet.
In support of this, she shows Janeway the Cardassian ship and sees that it was one of the same pursuing Chakotay into the Badlands, and pulled in by the Caretaker during the fight. Seeing as the ship vanished again, Seven suggests it was sent back to the Badlands and subsequently attacked by surprise by the Maquis. Then, Chakotay would have found out about the Caretaker through its logs, a perfect way to attack both Starfleet and Cardassian vessels. Furthermore, she says Tuvok was collaborating with him and, together, they tried to take control of the array but failed. With Janeway's order to destroy the array, Tuvok was the one to carry it out, using a yield which was more than enough and even enough to tear subspace. Showing Janeway the image of the tractor beam, Seven states it was a planned move to save the reactor and deliver it to Tash, who was waiting for it.
Janeway starts to convince Seven she's building something out of nothing, but then Seven goes into several instances that put Chakotay into a bad light, such as his alleged involvement with Seska when she defected to the Kazon to try to capture Voyager, or making a "diplomatic" overture by suggesting trade with the Kolhari, who use tetryon power cells. Janeway increasingly gets suspicious.
Overwhelmed with information and suspicious, Seven walks down the corridor when Naomi finds her. Naomi asks where Seven is going, but Seven tells her it is not her concern. Naomi asks what is wrong, and Seven asks her about her father. She says that the Ktarians were officially loyal to the Federation, but they sympathize with the Maquis. She asks who Naomi is working for, Chakotay or Janeway. Naomi is completely confused, and Seven says to tell them it is too late. Naomi runs, terrified.
Janeway and Chakotay meet in the cargo bay and, now wary of each other following Seven's "evidence", wonder what each is doing. The two end up comparing stories and they realize Seven is acting irrationally. The Doctor determines that Seven has downloaded far more information than even her enhanced systems can handle. Meanwhile, Seven starts suspecting a third conspiracy, that the aim of the last five years was actually to grab a Borg drone, and send it back to the Alpha Quadrant using the catapult. Furthermore, she believes she is the drone in question and that Starfleet will study and dissect her in order to retrieve tactical data to fight the Borg. Seven steals the Delta Flyer in order to escape from Voyager. Janeway manages to beam aboard. She tells Seven that there is indeed a conspiracy. Janeway explains to her that the crew "conspired" to help Seven learn how to be Human. She also tells Seven that she put too much information into her brain, which is making her ill and she should return back to the ship for treatment. Seven is eventually convinced to trust Captain Janeway again and agrees to return to Voyager for treatment.
The crew of Voyager manages to use the catapult successfully and cut three years off their journey home. Naomi greets Seven, who is removing the modifications she made to the alcove in Cargo Bay 2, telling her of the books and reports she has recently "assimilated". Seven tells Naomi that it is important to learn slowly, so the information can be digested and appreciated properly. She then tells Naomi that she has done enough work for the day and asks her to go to the mess hall and set up the kadis-kot board. Janeway and Chakotay have dinner together, both feeling guilty for having genuinely suspected other of a conspiracy. They agree that after all they've been through together, they should never stop trusting each other.
- "Captain's Log, supplemental. After further testing, we activated the catapult and were hurtled across thirty sectors of space. In less than an hour we cut three years off our journey. I'm happy to say The Doctor has repaired Seven of Nine's cortical processor and she's returned to duty."
"Aesthetics are irrelevant."
- - Seven of Nine
"Speculation is not evidence. There was no tractor beam because there was no ship in the vicinity to generate one – unless you can prove otherwise."
- - Tuvok
"Can we ask you what it's supposed to do?"
"Catapult a vessel across space in the time it takes to say 'Catapult a vessel across space'."
- - Chakotay and Tash
"Let's keep this one out of our logs, huh?"
- - Captain Janeway, to Chakotay
"Are phasers standard equipment on board now?"
- - Janeway, to Chakotay
"You didn't poison the coffee, did you?"
"Not any more than I usually do."
- - Chakotay and Janeway
"She's pulling your leg. It-it's go to some kind of Borg practical joke."
- B'Elanna Torres
"A secret mission? Starfleet in league with the Caretaker? It's ridiculous!"
"Ridiculous? Seven has some compelling evidence."
"Well then let's go to the captain, get a straight answer."
"'Good morning Kathryn. All systems operational, the crew's in good health, and by the way, is it true you've been lying to us for five years?'"
- - B'Elanna Torres and Chakotay
"Warning. Plate is hot."
"Now you tell me. Go for authenticity and what do you get? Second degree burns."
- - The computer and Janeway
- Actor Albie Selznick previously appeared on Voyager as the Tak Tak consul in VOY: "Macrocosm" and on The Next Generation as the Juggler in TNG: "Cost of Living".
- The artificial intelligence from the Voyager episode "Think Tank" can be seen in a corner of Tash's ship, when he hails Voyager.
- The infestation of photonic fleas represents the second time that a food Neelix has brought on board USS Voyager has caused a problem, after "Learning Curve" in which a cheese causes a viral infection in the ship's systems.
- This episode states that the time elapsed from "Caretaker" is "five years".
- A number of past stardates and previous episodes are referenced by Seven and Janeway in this episode:
- "Stardate 51008, Captain Janeway allows Kes to leave Voyager." - a reference to the events of "The Gift".
- "Stardate 51462, the Doctor's programme is transmitted to a Starfleet vessel on the outskirts of the Alpha Quadrant." - a reference to the events of "Message in a Bottle".
- "Stardate 50984, Janeway forges an alliance with the Borg." - a reference to the events of "Scorpion, Part II" (although the stardate for this episode is given as slightly later, as 51003.7).
- "Stardate 51762, a cease-fire with the Hirogen." - a reference to the events of "The Killing Game, Part II". However, the Captain's log clearly identifies this as happening on stardate 51715.2. Stardate 51762 actually comprises the events of the following episode, "Vis à Vis".
- "Stardate 52861, a non-aggression pact with the Terkellians." - This stardate coincides with the events of "Relativity", but as most of the episode is set in other timelines and at other dates, it's entirely possible that a pact with the Terkellians is made off-screen.
- "Stardate 48658. Commander Seska is revealed to be a Cardassian spy." - a reference to the events of "State of Flux".
- "Stardate 49522. Chakotay recommends establishing trade relations with the Kolhari." - this event is not depicted in an episode. The stardate falls between the events of "Lifesigns" and "Deadlock".
- "Stardate 32611, the Federation sends my parents to study the Borg Collective." - a reference to the events of "Dark Frontier", in which a flashback established that this is the stardate on which "the Federation Council on Exobiology has given [the USS Raven] final approval" to go to the Delta Quadrant.
- "Stardate 48317, Voyager is sent to the Delta Quadrant with orders to retrieve me." - a reference to the events of "Caretaker", although Voyager's arrival occurred on stardate 48317.
- "Stardate 51030, Janeway extracts the implants from my body..." - a reference to the events of "The Gift", though this occurred on stardate 51008.
- "Stardate 51652, the Captain encourages Seven to develop her social skills." - a reference to the events of "Prey", which occurred on this stardate. However, it was The Doctor giving Seven lessons in social skills (bedside manner in particular), while Janeway gave Seven a specific lesson in compassion for alien life forms.
- "Stardate 52840, the Captain orders Seven to study her parents' journals." - a reference to the events of "11:59", which occurred on this stardate. However, Seven was instead encouraged to research her distant ancestors, not ordered to read her parents' journals. That would instead happen in "Dark Frontier", but it was not an order - Seven volunteered after Janeway threatened to assign Chakotay to the task instead.
- "Stardate , for the first time, Seven tells the Captain thank you." - this stardate is not featured in an episode, but would have fallen between the events of "11:59" and "Relativity". In fact, it was in the episode "The Raven" that Seven first thanked Janeway.
- Various evidence is presented as part of the conspiracy. This includes:
- A Cardassian warship that was taken by the Caretaker in 2371. It was later returned to the Alpha Quadrant where it was destroyed by the Maquis.
- The destruction of the Caretaker allowed a rip to form in subspace that possibly allowed a tractor beam from a cloaked ship to save the secondary reactor.
- Seska getting pregnant with Chakotay's child, which was in actuality that of First Maje Jal Culluh of the Kazon-Nistrim, in 2372 is used as evidence against him. (VOY: "Maneuvers", "Basics, Part II") Seven refers to her as "Commander Seska", when, in fact, Seska never held a rank above ensign. It is unclear whether this was a true continuity error, or part of Seven's misinformation.
- The captain sending The Doctor to contact Starfleet in 2374 is used as evidence against her. (VOY: "Message in a Bottle")
- Seven's conspiracy theories are debunked, but the use of tricobalt devices in the destruction of the Caretaker's array, and the apparent tractor beam aimed at the array remain unexplained by the end of the episode.
- This is the fourth episode to feature another large-scale jump Voyager makes toward home – in this case, "thirty sectors of space", cutting three years off their journey. The other episodes were VOY: "The Gift", VOY: "Timeless", and VOY: "Dark Frontier". At this time, the Voyager crew has cut off approximately thirty-eight years off their journey home (not counting the five years they have spent traveling home). They are now approximately 32 years from Earth.
- As Seven of Nine's first regeneration cycle ends, after tying in her alcove to Voyager's library computer to be a cortical processing subunit, we see diagrams of several ships, taken from the Star Trek Encyclopedia (? ed., p. ?), flash by on the display, including: an Academy flight trainer, a Jem'Hadar battle cruiser, an Intrepid-class starship, a D-7 battlecruiser, a long range shuttle, the orbital office complex, and a Defiant-class Starfleet ship.
- Janeway accuses Seven of "generating theory after theory in an attempt to bring order to that chaos." The Borg Queen's makes a similar claim in Star Trek: First Contact, in which she states "I bring order to chaos".
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 6.5, 3 July 2000
- As part of the VOY Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Ensign Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- John Austin as operations officer
- Kirk Baily as Magnus Hansen (archive footage)
- Damaris Cordelia as Foster
- Marvin De Baca as Patrick Gibson
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Nichole McAuley as sciences officer
- Katelin Petersen as Annika Hansen (archive footage)
- Erin Price as Renlay Sharr
- Laura Stepp as Erin Hansen (archive footage)
accusation; alloy; Alpha Quadrant; amber spice; argon; assimilation; away team; away team report; Badlands; Baxial; biosignature; Borg alcove; Borg cube; Borg drone; burn; byproduct; Cardassian; Caretaker; Caretaker's array; class K nebula; cooking; cortical implant; cortical processing subunit; data buffer; debris; Delta Quadrant; dissection; DNA; Earth; engineering; epsilon radiation; Federation; Federation database; Galor-class; generational projection; graviton; Greskrendtregk; Hansen, Erin; Hansen, Magnus; headache; heart; helium; Hirogen; hive mind; hour; hydrogen; insect; internal sensors; invasion force; Jankata Accord; Jefferies tube; kadis-kot; Kartelan freighter; Kazon; Kes; kilogram; Kolhari; Ktarian; larva; life cycle; logic; Maquis; master plan; mate; mercury; Milky Way Galaxy; mutiny; navigator; nonaggression pact; null space; nursery; offspring; photonic flea; plasma; plot; poison; practical joke; pregnancy; Raven, USS; regeneration cycle; resurrection; secondary power core; sector; Sector 492; sensor emitter; sensor grid; Seska; space; synaptic pattern; Talaxian; Talaxian colony; Tash's catapult; Tash's starship; teracochrane; teraquad; Terkellian; tetryon; tetryon power cell; tetryon reactor; tri-cobalt device; unimatrix; Val Jean; walk the plank; warp 10; week; wormhole; year
- "The Voyager Conspiracy" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Voyager Conspiracy" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Voyager Conspiracy" at Wikipedia
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