111 – The Disease

Grade: B

The Disease (1999) on IMDb


Harry Kim and an alien woman have a romantic evening together. Then suddenly Kim starts to glow.

Voyager has been helping these aliens make repairs to their ship, despite their extreme xenophobia. It is known as a generational ship, because these aliens have been flying around space for a very long time, looking for a place to call home. Janeway wonders if this will eventually happen to Voyager as well.

Though things seem pleasant enough, there are some of these aliens who do not want to be part of the group anymore.


When I first saw the opening scene and knew the title, I expected the worst. I actually thought Harry Kim would bring some kind of weird alien disease onto Voyager that would cause some kind of plague. It really could have spiraled totally out of control, but the story avoided going there. In fact, “the Disease” could refer to several different things. Seven of Nine thinks love is a disease. One of the aliens actually creates a synthetic parasite that creates microfractures in order to destroy their ship. Kim has some kind of reaction to having spent the night with Tal, so maybe that was the disease. Eh, whatever. At least it didn’t become some kind of Public Service Announcement, like I was afraid it would be.

Actually, I thought the romance in this episode wasn’t that bad. In fact, I thought it was much more believable than Star Trek typically does. I actually believe Kim was really in love much more than I believed Chakotay was in love with Virginia Madsen in Unforgettable. I likewise didn’t buy Janeway’s romance in Counterpoint.

Speaking of all these romances, why is it just now that we’re hearing about the Starfleet rule that prevents intimate relationships with aliens without medical clearance? Really? Did Riker ask for permission every time he spent the evening with a female alien? How about Paris, Chakotay, Janeway, or anyone else for that matter? Who knows. Certainly Captain Kirk was subject to no such regulations. But then again, maybe he’s the reason Starfleet made this regulation. Why is Kim the only one we’ve ever heard of who was reprimanded for this?

Janeway comes down pretty hard on Harry Kim – much harder than she should have, in my opinion. Especially because she didn’t say a word to Chakotay after his experience with the former Borg or with the aforementioned Virginia Madsen. But I do like it that Harry stands up for himself here. He has a very good scene with Janeway in which the normally stoic Harry gives a very impassioned speech. I was convinced of his love for this alien woman. So much so that I was very disappointed at how the episode ended. I honestly expected Tal to want to stay with Harry on Voyager. I docked the story a few points because of this. I also deducted a few more points on this series for never taking any risks.

One last point – several of these aliens are tired of flying around in space, without having a home of their own. So they sabotage the ship in order to get what they want. Janeway points out that maybe this generational ship is what will become of Voyager, and I couldn’t help but think of The Disease as an alternate storyline for this entire series. In fact, I’m still wondering what exactly makes this series different like we were promised.

Of Note

One thing I thought was really silly about this episode is that Harry and Tom come back to Voyager through the transporter even though the two ships were shown docked together only a few minutes earlier. I don’t think this was an error, but maybe they could have said that they transported over because the generational ship was too big to walk around in.

I thought there was something weird about Tal’s hair. Then I looked up the actress on IMDB and it looks like she normally has lighter brown hair. She looks better with her natural color.