5 – Phage

Grade: C+

Phage (1995) on IMDb


Voyager has found a planet with some extremely large dilithium deposits, so Janeway decides to divert to the planet and replenish their energy reserves. Meanwhile, Neelix has turned the Captain’s mess into a galley so he can help save energy that would have been used for the food replicators. Once Voyager arrives at the planet, Chakotay, Kim and Neelix beam down to investigate the dilithium deposits. While there, Neelix is attacked by a mysterious alien who removes his lungs.

Voyager races after the aliens who fly into an asteroid that has been artificially created. Once inside, they find themselves in a cavern of mirrors – so how to tell which is the ship and which is just a reflection? Meanwhile, the Doctor has to come up with a way to keep Neelix alive while Janeway tries to retrieve his lungs.


This episode is an introduction to the Vidiians, a race of aliens that suffers from an illness that destroys both flesh and organs. They’ve been suffering from this disease for the last 2,000 years. About the only thing they can do is steal organs from healthy alien species. These are pretty nasty villains, and I often wonder why they don’t show up too often after this. Maybe it’s because they look terrible and the producers didn’t want to repeat the makeup work too often.

The story is pretty good, actually – at least as good as any of the previous episodes so far in this season. The only part that had me scratching my head was near the end when they finally capture the Vidiians. Janeway obviously wants to save Neelix’s life, but she doesn’t want to cause the death of the alien who just stole his lungs. The result is a rather lame and weak ending. I don’t think any of the other captains would have just let these aliens walk off with just a warning. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I can’t see Kirk, Picard, Sisko or Archer being willing to let them off so easy. I’m sure at least one of them would have done something different.

The fact is, these aliens kill other aliens to steal their organs in order to survive. It’s not like we’re dealing with an innocent species that doesn’t know how their actions affect their victims. This is now the second time that Janeway has put the needs of Delta Quadrant aliens ahead of her crew’s needs. I don’t think I’d want to serve on her ship if that’s going to be the case too often.

What I would have preferred to see is for the Vidiians to have offered to help her transplant someone else’s lung into Neelix so that she would allow them to keep the lungs from Neelix. That’s what happens anyway, but it would have been better if Janeway hadn’t wimped out.

But on the bright side, there are some excellent character moments in this episode. I really enjoyed the exchange between Kes and the Doctor. Neelix expresses his concern about Tom Paris, which I think is not unwarranted, but perhaps it comes too early in this series. We don’t know much about Paris yet, so it’s a little out of place.

Overall, it’s a good episode, but not a great one. This is one of those that I had forgotten about over the years.

Of Note

The asteroid used in this episode looks like the exact same one used in the Next Generation episode called “The Pegasus”. It looks like they didn’t even rotate it or try to make it look any different at all. Well, I guess it saved some money to re-use props.

Also in this episode, someone asks the Doctor if he has been programmed to sing. Well, the Doctor does sing in future episodes, but at this point in time, he doesn’t sing yet.

Toward the beginning of this episode, Captain Janeway makes some kind of remark about how Torres likes to ignore Starfleet regulations or something along those lines. Hmm. This seems like a good example of the pot calling the kettle black.