13 – Cathexis

Grade: D-

Cathexis (1995) on IMDb


Captain Janeway wastes time on the Holodeck. She chooses to participate in a story that seems a lot like Jane Eyre. Suddenly, she is called to the bridge because Tuvok and Chakotay have returned from their away mission and they are unconscious on their shuttlecraft. When they return, it seems Tuvok is OK, but Chakotay is brain dead.


This has a very interesting setup and a nice mystery, but I didn’t care for the ending. In fact, the ending makes the entire episode entirely forgettable. When I watched this today, I had no memory at all about anything that happened in it. Apparently, when I saw it the first time in 1995, I had the same reaction as I do now – wishing I hadn’t wasted my time with it.

The episode clearly deals with non-corporeal aliens again for the second episode in a row. There’s also a nebula which houses the dangerous beings. This does not bode well for the series – have they run out of ideas already? We haven’t even seen 15 episodes yet, and we’re already repeating previous storylines. The idea that spirits or ghosts or non-corporeal beings can inhabit the bodies of normal characters has already been done a hundred times in Star Trek. In Cathexis, there’s nothing any better than in any previous episode of this type.

Here’s one thing I wish they would have done instead. Tuvok says something about going to meet with some aliens on a trade mission and that they finished their negotiations and that on the way back, they had this accident. I suppose they couldn’t have shown everything, but I really would have preferred to have seen that as the opening scene rather than Janeway in the Holodeck. Instead, they could have just said that she was on the Holodeck instead of actually showing the opening scenes of a stupid story that will never be used again in this entire series run.

In the middle of the episode, I had a feeling like this episode was like the one when Geordi LaForge and Ro Lauren were presumed dead. I thought this might be like that one, but Cathexis ended so poorly, that there’s almost no comparison between the two.

I hated the way the mystery ended in the final act of this episode. It was like so many of the Original Series episode endings when it gets all figured out in about the last 15 seconds. One question that was never answered was if Chakotay could just possess one of the other crew, why couldn’t he just possess himself in his own body? Maybe that should have been explained a bit that his brain was actually damaged and the Doctor needed to fix it before he could re-enter his body. What was shown in this episode just seemed stupid.

Of Note

When the Doctor says “he’s brain dead”, it reminded me of when Doctor McCoy tells Captain Kirk that Spock’s brain was missing. I don’t think you’d want to remind Trek fans of that ridiculous episode.

One thing struck me as pretty odd. Janeway is on the Holodeck, dressed up as some 18th century governess when she finds out about the emergency. Then in the next scene, she’s back in her uniform with her hair done completely differently. She would have had to have returned to her quarters, changed her clothes and re-done her hair before stopping by sickbay or the bridge to find out what was wrong with Chakotay and Tuvok. This doesn’t make sense to me. If this had been a real event, she would have certainly gone from the Holodeck directly to sickbay without taking the time to change.