91 – Living Witness

Grade: B+

 Living Witness
(1998) on IMDb


Things are not quite right on the ship. Captain Janeway doesn’t look right – her hair is chopped way shorter than usual, she’s wearing an odd uniform, and she’s talking about excessive force being necessary at times. There is a Kazon on board, wearing a Starfleet uniform. What’s more odd, this is the Warship Voyager.

Is this a Holodeck fantasy, a trip to the Mirror Universe, or something else? Actually, Voyager is a museum piece, and this is 700 years in the future.


Finally after about two months, we get a good episode. In Living Witness, we have a story that illustrates that sometimes what we think we know about history could be far from the truth. An alien on this planet has taken actual physical evidence and witness accounts from 700 years in the past and created a holographic representation of Voyager and placed it in a museum. Then he finds something in the authentic Voyager artifacts and meets the Doctor. From there, the story really gets interesting as Doc views the historical simulation of the events. He also tries to set the record straight based on what he witnessed.

This episode isn’t perfect by any means, but it is interesting – especially to see that Voyager really is having a lasting effect on this part of the galaxy. The acting from the guest stars and from Doctor is solid, but it was honestly hard to take the rest of the regular crew very seriously. It seemed like an episode from the Mirror Universe, which often is so over-the-top that it is too hard for me to enjoy it. “Living Witness” however, fortunately stays away from too much foolishness, so it remains mostly enjoyable.

I do question the decision to make this take place 700 years in the future. Why so many years later? I’m actually really impressed that anything on Voyager could have survived that long – including the Doctor’s software or any other artifacts. It strains credibility that the historian could have found anything at all that would still be in working condition that far into the future. I guess the only reason to set it seven centuries later is to ensure that there’s not one person who would know the actual events. Still, this could have been accomplished if they had made the story take place only 50 years later. And then there would have been a chance that some of these items could still work.

But at least it’s a fun story to watch, and it has a pretty good ending. It actually raises a lot of questions – like what really did happen during the events in question? Does Voyager actually make it all the way back to Earth? If yes, did they have to leave the Doctor on this planet? Why were so many parts of Voyager left on the planet?

It could have been a little better, I guess, but this is about as good as Voyager ever gets. I feel bad about rating these episodes so low all the time. So “Living Witness” comes along and I have to throw the series a bone.

Of Note

“Living Witness” obviously refers to the Doctor, but at one point during the episode, the Doctor says “who’s to say what really happened?” That’s a strange thing to say, considering he’s the only one in this entire episode who was actually there during the events in question.

It’s kinda funny that in this alternate version of history, Janeway refers to Ensign Kim as “Lieutenant.” Oops.

At one point, the historian uses a tool that is part of the simulation in order to fix the Doctor’s holomatrix or something. How could a simulated too actually fix anything? As the historian says just a few moments later, “nothing here is real – it’s all a simulation.”