Star Trek: Voyager

Season 3 Episode 4

The Swarm

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Sep 25, 1996 on UPN
out of 10
User Rating
151 votes

By Users

Episode Summary


Stardate: 50252.3
Voyager must find a way to cross a region of space owned by a mysterious race of hostile aliens without being detected. Meanwhile, Torres and Kes must work quickly to save The Doctor when a malfunction in his program causes him to lose his memory.

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  • Some good and some bad

    With an attack on Paris and Torres winding its way into an A story about the Doctor a B story about the ship in peril, VOY delivers an uneven cross between a character piece and a suspenseful military episode.

    The main plot features Picardo taking on a double role as both the holographic doctor as well as a holographic recreation of the doctor's creator. With the former suffering from something similar to Alzheimer's, there's some heartbreaking pathos that Picardo plays well, even while acting with himself and developing the character of Doctor Zimmerman; but it's Jennifer Lien who actually steals the episode in her finest performance of the series as she interacts with both of them. With a mixture of wisdom and determination, she finally finds comes into her own, using scenes without Neelix to find a niche for herself and show everyone how the character can work.

    With the plot centering around her and the doctor, it's interesting to see the show taps into the issue of resetting a device (in this case, the Doctor) versus rebooting it, with the latter being a simple reinitialization and the former forcing the user to start from scratch. As anyone who has customized a piece of technology can attest to, resetting (or restoring) "to factory settings" is like saying goodbye to a friend, with the gadget losing its personality and becoming the blank slate it was when you first met.

    Unfortunately, rather than laying a dilemma on the crew (such as needing the Doctor's memory back up to par to perform a life saving surgery but having to dump all his memories of the last two years to make that possible), they ultimately box the crew into a corner and leave the them only one option, with the drama consisting of how well it will work... which means we're not watching to see what choices the characters make, we're watching to see what choices the writers make.

    And then there's a distracting subplot with Voyager in peril, a misplaced idea that could be quite interesting as a developed main story but instead just gets in the way of the B story and merely serves as a showcase for some CGI.

    As a Doctor episode, "The Swarm" is quite good at times. Unfortunately, while the consequences of the ending are mentioned in a future episode in passing, they are otherwise ignored, negating their importance. And as an episode on the whole, "Swarm" is just okay.

    Picardo would go on to reprise his creator in the fifth season episode of DS9, "Dr. Bashir, I Presume" as well as in the sixth season episode of Voyager, "Life Line".

  • The Swarm

    The Swarm was a perfect episode of Star Trek: Voyager and I really enjoyed watching this episode because it had a great story and a lot of character development, especially for the Doctor. There was a lot of action and adventure as Voyager encountered a widely feared but very unknown race of aliens who swarm their enemies and drain power from their ships and kill those who intrude upon their territory. These aliens sort of reminded me of the Aliens from Stargate SG-1's Foothold. The Doctor had a lot of great scenes and the last scenes were both heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time. I look forward to watching the next episode of Star Trek: Voyager!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • A great episode that would easilly make up for two separate episodes.

    Both storylines in this one are great. Although I find it kind of weird that while the ship is under attack by the swarm, Kes and the Doctor don't even feel the ship trembling because of enemy fire. Other than that, we get two very enjoyable stories that could easilly fill two complete episodes.

    So, the ship ran into a very odd, advanced race. Their language was undecipherable, even by the universal translator. Apparently, Voyager has entered a space owned by this race, filled with probes checking for intruders. Neelix knows only little about this race, because noone ever returned from their territory. Things start to get a bit creepy. So, Janeway must decide if they go trough or around the borders. I find it a bit odd that Janeway would risk the crew and disobeyed the federation rules so much - would Picard ever consider rushing trough Romulan space in order to save time? I know, we are talking about 1 to 2 years worth detour, but considering that without finding a wormhole or help from a more advanced race their journey would take over 70 years... I find this logic to be flawed. The more so because Janeway tends to moralise a lot.

    But anyway, she decides to punch trough, making the show more interesting after all. Voyager's stealth measures of course fail and they get attacked by a huge swarm of small shuttle-like ships. They succeed in repelling them, but it was a close call.

    In the meantime, Doctor is loosing his memory and ability to think. This sidestory brings in the laughs - death alien lies on the bed, Doctor looks at him and says "He is a very sick man." - as well as fear that we could actually lost the Doctor as we know him. Which would be a great shame, because he is by far one of my favourite characters on the show. But since he is a bit of a side character, I was actually worried about him. Which is why episodes endangering a side character are much more intense, because the main 5 or 6 characters are always ok in the end, while the completely new characters usually die a horrible death.

    Anyway, there's a lot of great little scenes in this episode I loved. Throw in the fact that the aliens were actually mysterious and interesting - unlike the stupid Kazon - and you have my idea of what a great Voyager episode should look like.moreless
  • A good episode ruined by a rushed, technobabble ending.

    There are two separate plotlines in this episode, both of importance.

    The main story arc is Voyager crossing the space of an unknown species, of which little is known. They're creepy and mysterious, which is more than can be said for most races introduced in the show. The UT failing to identify the language was a nice touch (too bad they kind of bailed on that at the end, too). Things had just gotten interesting when Janeway uttered some gibberish about polaron fields, and suddenly the threat was over in 15 seconds. I'm sorry you're running out of time, but putting a sign up to the screen that says "everything turned out ok" doesn't count as writing.

    The second plotline is the degrading of the doctor's memory circuits, which is tough to deal with. He's an awesome character - a real bright spot amongst an extremely predictable lineup. At the end, it's not clear if he's ok, but I assumee he is. It'd be a major blow to have the reset button used on him.moreless
  • Paris and Torres encounter an alien ship while in their shuttlecraft. The aliens board the shuttlecraft and proceed to fire a weapon on Paris and Torres rendering them unconscious.

    Paris and Torres encounter an alien ship while in their shuttlecraft. The aliens board the shuttlecraft and proceed to fire a weapon on Paris and Torres rendering them unconscious. The Doctor while in the holodeck practicing an opera duet is called to sickbay. Paris and Torres are found and now are in sickbay. The Doctor saves Torres and goes to save Paris. The Doctor forgot how to operate. It seems all these years of his program running have caught up with him. The Voyager has to make through the aliens territory. Will the crew make it home?moreless
Robert Picardo

Robert Picardo

Dr. Lewis Zimmerman

Guest Star

Carole Davis

Carole Davis

Giuseppina Pentangeli

Guest Star

Steven Houska

Steven Houska


Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (11)

    • Janeway: (as Voyager covertly travels through hostile space) When I was in high school, I snuck out of the house a couple of times late at night. I had to tiptoe past my parents' bedroom- it's kind of how I feel right now.
      Paris: You sneaked out of your house? Where were you going?
      Janeway: (smiling) I'll have to leave that to your imagination, Lieutenant.
      Paris: Can I take a few guesses?

    • The Doctor: You claim you're my friend, but you don't even call me by my name.
      Kes: That's because you don't have a name.
      The Doctor: NO NAME?! That's ridiculous...!

    • Kes: (about the Doctor) He's been studying opera, what's wrong with that?
      Zimmerman: It wasn't programmed to be a tenor, it was programmed to be a physician.

    • Janeway: (to the Doctor) If a crew member came down with a debilitating illness, you'd do everything in your power to make them well again. I think we owe you nothing less.

    • The Doctor: May I remind you that I am in a way, your patient, who's suffering from an unknown, obviously delibitating condition... you would think you'd be a little more sensitive to my needs.
      Torres: You are questioning my bedside manner?

    • Zimmerman: I have pointed out over and over, I am a diagnostic tool, not an engineer.

    • Zimmerman: Look at all this useless information floating around your buffer. Friendships with the crew. Relationships with... women? Do they find you attractive?
      The Doctor: I don't remember.
      Zimmerman: You've filled your memory with nonsense!
      The Doctor: It was only during my off hours...
      Zimmerman: You're supposed to be off during your off hours!

    • Zimmerman: (Shoves B'Elanna out of the way) If you don't mind I can do it faster.
      B'Elanna: (To the Doctor) I can see where you get your charming personality.
      Doctor: Not to mention my hairline.

    • Tuvok: Would it affect your decision if I pointed out that encroaching on the territory of an alien species is prohibited by Starfleet regulations?
      Janeway: No, it wouldn't.
      Tuvok: Captain, you have managed to surprise me.

    • Zimmerman: Well, there's nothing more I can do. Either re-initialise it, or live with the knowledge that eventually this EMH will end up with the intellectual capacity of a parsnip.

    • The Doctor: These women are arrogant, superior, condescending. I can't imagine anyone behaving that way.

  • NOTES (0)