98 – In the Flesh

Grade: B-

In The Flesh (1998) on IMDb


Back at the Academy, Boothby is trimming flowers. A commander is giving orders to a group of new officers. Suddenly Commander Chakotay is taking pictures – how could this be? Is he back on Earth or is this some kind of Holodeck fantasy?


This episode is a nice effort. There’s a good amount of mystery to start the story. Unfortunately, it ends up being a story that completely takes out the danger of Species 8472. We still end up knowing nothing about them whatsoever, except that they don’t like people from our reality. They live in “fluidic space”, whatever that means.

I thought it was way too convenient that Species 8472 could inject themselves with some kind of fluid and make themselves appear human. Have they always had this ability? To me, it just seems like an attempt to get some aliens like DS9’s Founders into Voyager. If that’s what they wanted, they should have just put a Shapeshifter on the show. That might have been more interesting anyway.

Near the end, Janeway calls some kind of truce with these aliens. They come aboard and have an argument about what they’re doing. Janeway gives up the secret of nanoprobe technology as part of the truce and the ship ends up going on its merry way. I don’t think this was the wisest decision she could have made, but whatever. It’s still an interesting scene. Someone has to be the first one to trust the other side, I suppose. It seems in some ways to be an allegory of two nations at the end of a war. It’s not nearly as good as the Undiscovered Country, but it’s a nod in that direction. Actually, it reminded me a lot of the (real life) Cuban Missile Crisis.

One thing that usually troubled me about Star Trek Voyager is the way that some of these serious episodes were handled. It’s as if the writers wanted to deal with some weighty issues, but they also wanted to tie everything up into a neat 42-minute package. Voyager usually isn’t very good at this. Though I do like the way some things were handled, in all honesty, this episode isn’t one of my favorites. It could have been better if they hadn’t completely cut the legs off the previously-unstoppable Species 8472.

I’m not fond of how this episode ends – everything just kind of goes away and we never hear of this alien again. Rather anti-climatic.

Of Note

Chakotay obviously spent some time at the Academy before turning to the Maquis. Yet in this episode, he has no idea who Boothby is. Actually, this is probably the first clue we have that this situation is not real. In another scene, Harry Kim asks what it’s like to date an alien. Here, it’s played off for laughs, but several episodes from now, Kim will be strongly reprimanded from both the Doctor and the Captain for having a relationship with an alien.

In this episode, it’s mentioned that there are 125 people on Voyager. In every other episode, it’s always been something like 140-150. Maybe the lower number was said on purpose as a test.