Episode 22, Season 5 of Star Trek Voyager (4/28/1999) is the story of the EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram) mentoring Seven of Nine (Earth-Human BORG rescued by Voyager and turned human again) in romance and dating. Things get complicated when the EMH develops feelings for Seven of Nine.
When I saw this episode it immediately peeked my interests. In the past I have written a lot about dating, relationships and sex. I have experienced so much in this area that I tried to rationalize how these 2 characters would actually react in these situations in the now.
We have to also examine when this episode came out and what was happening in the world and how TV stories were told in 1999.
We were about to change the 1st 9 in 1990’s to a Zero. TV was about to evolve. During this time Star Trek in general was still trying different things that was related to our society, as the Original Star Trek (OST) did in the 1960’s. Stories in Star Trek were still character driven. However, the Star Trek the Next Generation (TSG) films went from a very large character based show to bang bang, shoot’em up action films; with very little character structure. That is a separate subject all on it’s own.
Go watch the RedLetterMedia’s Mr. Plinkett Reviews on the TNG films.
The shows were untouched by this and were pushing for more complicated character based studies. Voyager was the last Star Trek show that made this a main point to their plot structures. You have two very complicated characters and their character arcs over the 7 seasons the show ran for.
This was right at the cusp of when realityTV began gaining momentum. It got so big in those first two to three years that most TV shows were now based in some sort of reality based situation. It even poured into fictional TV stories. No more 15-24, hour long, anthology and episodic style story telling. Nowadays almost all shows are between 8-15, hour long episodes that are directly connected to each other. One cannot miss an episode without missing key points in the story and characters. Think Mini-Series but double the episodes for the season.
Back to Voyager and 1999…
The EMH is exactly what it is described as. An Emergency Medical Hologram. However, this hologram has a complete medical database of human and other aliens programed into its memory. It’s personality is based on the MD that was the original person. During Voyager’s mission back to Earth they unlock some of the safe guards of the program because the ship’s actual Doctor was killed in the very 1st episode. The ship needed a Doctor that not only could think and feel on it’s own, but also be able to travel out of the medical bay where the holo emitters were. Voyager is in the 24th century and gains that ability stealing 29th century technology during their voyage. The EMH begins to develop his own independent feelings about his reality. How he fits into it and whether or not he is actually alive. He has his own thoughts and feelings, just like a human.
Seven of Nine, born on Earth to the name of Annika Hansen, was captured and assimilated by the BORG when Annika was only six years old. When a human is assimilated by the BORG they lose their individuality. From Annilka’s point of view she was 6, captured by scary Aliens and her consciousness drifts away once the BORG technology buries her personality/individuality forever. The next moment, 18 years later; she awakes when her link to the BORG collective is severed. Cut off from the Hive mind of balance, order and control, now 24, and being totally isolated. She has more memories of her BORG existence than as a human.
So basically, Seven of Nine has 3 separate distinct personalities all living/sharing/feeling/growing together. A mini-hive mind. You have her 6 year old self, her only pure human personality. You have her BORG memories, like a computer ruled by pure logic. Lastly, you have Annika… The human adult trying to blend her 6 year old self and her BORG self. She goes back and forth over the years dealing with this. She ultimately wants to become as human as she can. She makes huge strides with the crew as making friendships go and wants to go the next step.
The EMH has been mentoring her in human behavior, as he is programmed with all the knowledge and years of experience to do the job. The logical next step is to teach Seven what dating and romance is. I really liked how the EMH separates dating and romance as 2 separate distinct things.
The Doctor’s direct quote… “One step at a time. Dating is a human ritual, wherein two people share a social activity, get to know each other. In time, it can lead to a romantic involvement, and eventually, if all goes well, even marriage.” The keywords here are “One step at a time” and “can lead to.”
This does not imply dating will lead to romantic involvement, but could lead to… Our definition of Dating these days seems very broad to me and very open to interpretation! I mean this definition of dating seems pretty solid to me, even without looking it up.
On merriam-webster.com the only reference to romance directly associated to dating is; “that often has a romantic character.” This does not mean “WILL.”
So, I feel the Doctor’s short version of this is pretty accurate. With that said, I feel the concept of dating here starts strictly as a platonic meeting of 2 people.
It should also be noted that in 1999 on TV same sex romantic involvement was ok and normal in the Star Trek Fiction, just not widespread, like we see now on TV and in Star Trek show/film in this century. So I do not mean offense to same sex relationships here.
The message I got from this story was the Doctor working so close to Seven about dating and romance that he begins to have feelings for her and does not know how to communicate with Seven of how he feels. He tries several times to say what he feels but by the time he realizes how to say his feelings to Seven she becomes completely uninterested in furthering these interactions with the Doctor.
Basically, Seven feels she learned what she wanted to know from the Doctor and wanted to further her own research and discovery on this matter. The metaphor is like Friends With Benefits… One starts the arrangement and the other begins to develop more than friend feelings. One or even both begin to fall in love and it just wreaks havoc on a friendship. Now, not always. However, we all have gone through this ourselves or were close to someone that was going through that. We have seen so much of this but it doesn’t always have to be that way.
This story can also mirror how teenagers fall in love for the first time. With the complications of sex as adults. I am just talking about 2 teenagers that are growing into sexuality but fall in love young for the 1st time. It is really innocent in that respect. The Doctor even though he has the knowledge programmed into him. He still is just learning what loving someone else is all about. Seven, doesn’t even grasp what the emotion and affection is. In terms of teenagers. She is like 12 and over developed while the Doctor is 15 and knows what liking a girl is like already but feels even stronger here.
The lesson here for me is all about open communication with your lover. Not just your lover but the person you want to be your lover. Or even someone you like but are not sure how you feel romantically about them. It starts at the friends part.
How many times do we see this on the subject? “I just want my lover to be my best friend.” I see it a lot. It takes time to build that. It doesn’t happen right out of the gates. Even though realityTV will tell you. Yes, it can. Remember that shit is Scripted Reality. The parties know what is going to happen. What isn’t written is how they get there. That is all filled in by their reactions. That is the only Reality part of it.
A guy shouldn’t talk to 15 different women and just going for the one that will blindly follow his ass. A guy should talk to 5 women and try to make everlasting friendships with them. If one sparks romance then that works for me.
The quote goes… “Like Cold Water washing away Heated Emotions… Its Quality versus Quantity, but Quantity has a Quality all on its own…” Evan Currie. I say; Its Quality versus Quantity, Quality has a Quantity all on its own…
If you care about someone. Let them know… I love you…