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Alter Ego (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"Alter Ego"
VOY, Episode 3x14
Production number: 155
First aired: 15 January 1997
54th of 168 produced in VOY
55th of 168 released in VOY
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 168 released in VOY Remastered  
448th of 728 released in all
Written By
Joe Menosky

Directed By
Robert Picardo
50460.3 (2373)
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Tuvok and Harry Kim become interested in a holodeck character who is more than she seems.

Summary Edit

Big Daddy-O Surf Special

Tom getting ready with his Big Daddy-O Surf Special

Kim and Paris in Hawaiian shirts

Tom and Harry enjoying the Luau

The USS Voyager arrives at an inversion nebula, and stops to investigate. While inversion nebulae normally burn out after a few years, this one appears to have been around for centuries. While studying the nebula, Neelix organizes a luau to raise the crew's spirits. Ensign Harry Kim goes to Lieutenant Tuvok while he is playing a solitary game of kal-toh and explains he wants to learn how to suppress his emotions. Tuvok points out that learning this requires a long personal journey, and inquires into his motives for asking.


Harry watches Tuvok play Kal-toh

Harry admits to Tuvok he has fallen in love with a holodeck character named Marayna. Kim explains that he's become emotionally attracted to her and seeks Tuvok's guidance in suppressing these feelings. Tuvok agrees to meet her and goes to the holodeck with him. There, he watches as she subtly flirts with Kim until they are called to the bridge. On the way there, Tuvok explains and deconstructs the role each part of their conversation with her played in her attempts at seduction, and points out that logically, such interaction can end in only one of two ways: a relationship, or a tragic parting. Since the former is illogical, his only option is retreat to minimize tragedy.

Later, the Captain recommends that all personnel go to the upcoming luau, which Tuvok misinterprets to be an order. When he goes, despite of his lack of interest, he encounters Marayna again as she is playing kal-toh. He finds himself strangely interested in her. Her analysis of the ways he isolates himself from the crew is intriguing, and they play kal-toh together. When Kim arrives and discovers Tuvok's interest in the hologram, he is beside himself with anger and jealousy, and begins to suspect Tuvok's motives for advising retreat were merely a ruse so that he could have Marayna all to himself.

As Voyager continues its scans, a plasma strand begins to ignite which would normally cause the entire nebula to burn up along with it. However, the energy is suddenly reduced by dampening fields of unknown origin. As they prepare to leave, the helm stops responding, while parts of the nebula start erupting close to the ship, damaging the shields. When Harry Kim returns to the holodeck to find Tuvok playing kal-toh with Marayna, this leads to a confrontation in which Tuvok ultimately orders the computer to erase the startled Marayna. Harry Kim angrily insists that this does not truly solve the problem, however.

In his quarters, Marayna appears to Tuvok again using The Doctor's mobile emitter and wearing a Starfleet uniform. She tells him that she's lonely and indicates her desire to continue her relationship with him, but he contacts the bridge and declares an intruder alert, summoning security to his quarters. To his surprise, although the security guards do arrive, she is able to cancel the alert shortly before vanishing. In conference with Janeway and the other senior officers, he and they discuss the possibility that a hologram has become sentient and taken over the ship, as previously happened to the Enterprise-D.

After further investigation, Tuvok, Tom Paris, and Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres discover that Marayna is actually a projection of someone from outside of the ship. Tracing the uplink, they discover a small cloaked station. Responding to an ultimatum from her, Tuvok returns to the holodeck to meet her alone, and then beams over to confront the real Marayna. Marayna disables Tuvok's communication with Voyager and tells Tuvok her story. In reality, it is she who holds the nebula together with the dampening fields for the benefit of her people, who often visit to observe the beauty of the nebula. However, she's become lonely and she frequently taps into nearby ships' computers to find out about their visitors.

Marayna alien

The real Marayna

Marayna reveals that she had never encountered anything like the holodeck and tapped herself into it so she could interact with the crew. This, in turn, allowed her to meet Tuvok who was much like her--interested in being separate from those around him--whereupon she developed feelings for him. After some discussion, Tuvok convinces Marayna to allow him to return to Voyager. Before he goes, however, Tuvok encourages Marayna to contact her people and have them find a replacement for her in this lonely assignment so she can seek company among her own kind again.

After his return to the ship Tuvok is playing kal-toh in his quarters. He then pauses and deactivates the game. He goes to the holodeck and, finding Harry Kim there, offers to teach him kal-toh. Harry apologizes for his earlier behavior and tells him that he was under the impression it took years to learn kal-toh, which Tuvok confirms. A holo-woman comes up and offers to join them and they simultaneously refuse her company, but Tuvok then (somewhat uncharacteristically) thanks her for the offer.

This episode or film summary is incomplete

This episode summary has been identified as lacking essential detail, and as such needs attention. Feel free to edit this page to assist with this expansion.

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Log Entries Edit

  • "Captain's log, Stardate 50460.3. We've been investigating an inversion nebula for several days. This phenomenon has never been seen in the Alpha Quadrant and is proving something of a mystery to us, here."
  • "Captain's log, supplemental. We've completed sensor scans and confirmed our discovery of an unusual dampening field responsible for keeping this unstable nebula from going up in flames. The field's origin is still a mystery."
  • "Security Chief's log, stardate 50471.3. The remaining damage to the ship was easily repaired, and we soon left Marayna's nebula behind. Voyager is back on course, and I have resumed my normal routine."

Memorable Quotes Edit

"You're in love with a computer sub-routine?"
"That's the problem."

- Tuvok and Harry Kim

"Kal-toh is to chess as chess is to tic-tac-toe."

- Tuvok

"Vulcans do not hydrosail."

- Tuvok

"Are you two friends?"

- Marayna, with Harry Kim and Tuvok answering her simultaneously

"I tried a reverse curl this morning... I think I pulled a tendon. Feel that."
"It's like a knot!"
"I'm sure it is."

- Marayna, Harry Kim, and Tuvok

"I have already taken the liberty of reserving a table, Lieutenant, with a view of the lakeside. You did express a fondness for that particular vista."
"I did?"
"Five days ago, in a conversation we had in Engineering regarding holodeck programs."
"I guess, maybe I did."

- Vorik and B'Elanna Torres

"Forget about her."
"What did Tom say to you?"
"Not a single word. I saw the way you were looking at Marayna yesterday."
"Hi, my name's Harry Read Me Like A Book Kim."
"It's not that bad."
"Apparently, it is."

- Harry Kim and B'Elanna Torres

"Mr. Kim, I value our working relationship. I would not allow a holodeck character to disrupt that."

- Tuvok, to Kim

"Make it stop!" (The intruder alert klaxon is silenced.)
"You have access to the ship's control systems?"
"And I'll use them all if I have to. You can't just delete me!"

- Marayna and Tuvok

Background Information Edit

Story and Script Edit

  • This episode was originally to primarily feature the characters of Tom Paris and Harry Kim, before its focus was changed to Tuvok and Kim. (Delta Quadrant, p. 162; Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 302)
  • Prior to this episode being written, Tuvok actor Tim Russ expressed concerns to writer Joe Menosky about the nature of Tuvok's attraction to Marayna. Russ told Menosky, "It has to be right on the line of not looking as though he is romantically attracted to this woman, but that he is interested in her intellectually. He wouldn't be involved with anybody at all. He sticks to his wife." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 100)
  • Joe Menosky considered this installment to be an opportunity to explore the way in which Vulcans suppress their emotions. "The actual mental details of it are not really that specified," Menosky related. "Instead of imagining that Vulcans sort of bludgeon emotion, there is something a little more sophisticated going on. They understand the patterns and see them in a profound intellectual sense, that in some way robs them of their power, before they even add the will to suppress. It's an opportunity to add a layer of texture to how Vulcans work." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, pp. 103-104)
  • The episode's final script draft was submitted on 27 September 1996. [1]
  • This episode has repeatedly been likened to the film Fatal Attraction. Tim Russ declared, "'Alter Ego' was our Fatal Attraction episode." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #17) He also described the relationship between Tuvok and Marayna as "a Fatal Attraction kind of thing" and said that the episode "involved a sort of Fatal Attraction towards me". (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 30) Director Robert Picardo likewise referred to the installment as "the Mr Tuvok Fatal Attraction story". (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15)

Cast and Characters Edit

  • During production on the earlier third season installment "Macrocosm", Tim Russ felt that, while his character does not heavily feature in "Macrocosm" or the even-earlier third season episode "The Q and the Grey" (both of which were consecutively produced straight before this installment), he had to concentrate more on this episode, due to its intense focus on Tuvok. While working on "Macrocosm", Russ noted, "Really, I have to take the time to prepare for the next one, which I will be heavy in!" Russ was eager to work on this episode, as he was interested in its plot, particularly the devoutly logical Tuvok's encounter with a woman who is not only attracted to him but is also a potential danger to the vessel on which he serves. "[It] is a very interesting situation to be in, so I'm looking forward to doing that story because we haven't done one like that yet," he said. "It ought to be an interesting insight into Tuvok's character." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25, pp. 11 & 12) Tim Russ later listed this episode, midway through the fourth season, as one of five episodes that he characterized as "the defining moments for Tuvok". Later in the same interview, he said of this installment, "It was a very interesting episode, and I liked the scenes between Kim and Tuvok." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #17) Russ also approved of the form of relationship that Tuvok has with Marayna, including the fact that his interest in her develops when he teaches her kal-toh. "All of a sudden there's someone to play with as opposed to a machine, which makes it much more interesting," Russ commented. "Engaging in conversation and ideas and thoughts, that's something he's into very heavy duty, until she's perceived as a threat and it switches." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 100)
  • Robert Picardo was pleased that this episode so heavily featured Tim Russ. "I was delighted that Tim Russ, Mr. Tuvok, was my principal character in the show," Picardo remembered. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 92)
  • In common with Tim Russ, Kim actor Garrett Wang enjoyed this episode in general and a particular highlight for him was the episode's focus on the characters of Tuvok and Kim. Wang enthused, "We saw a little bit more Harry and Tuvok, which I was happy to see [....] Overall [...], I thought 'Alter Ego' was a good show." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #17)
  • According to Robert Picardo, however, Garrett Wang was suffering from flu while this episode was produced. Picardo noted, "I had to whip him into a frenzy of energy before every take, because he was so under the weather!" (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15) In certain scenes (particularly the Vulcan meditation scene in Kim's quarters before the Lu'au), Wang is quite clearly struggling to deliver his lines through his nasal congestion.
  • Nonetheless, Robert Picardo was delighted by Garrett Wang's work on this episode. The director remarked, "Garrett Wang [...] had a very significant role in the story and is terrific in the show – it's the funniest I've ever seen his character [....] He did a great job and I think his performance is very funny and charming in the show." (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15)
  • In fact, both Robert Picardo and Joe Menosky were highly satisfied with the performances that Garrett Wang and Tim Russ delivered for this episode. "Tim and Garrett did very good work in the show," Picardo remarked. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18) Menosky likewise raved, "I loved the scenes between Tim and Garrett, and I think they were really, really funny. Part of it was Tim's delivery, this dry, almost straight-man delivery." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 104)
  • As well as portraying Marayna in this episode, actress Sandra Nelson also played Tavana in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine installment "Soldiers of the Empire".
  • Appreciative of the casting of this episode, Robert Picardo found Sandra Nelson physically attractive, as well as two actresses who appeared as a pair of holographic, Polynesian women who kiss The Doctor. Picardo once referred to Nelson as "our beautiful female guest star" and to the pair of kissers as "beautiful". (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15)

Production Edit

Shooting Alter Ego

Robert Picardo directs Tim Russ in a scene from this episode

  • This was the second Star Trek: Voyager episode to be directed by a main cast member of the series. Regarding the experience of being directed by such a co-star, Tim Russ noted, "I've already had that experience in that Robert McNeill was directing an episode earlier [namely, "Sacred Ground"]." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25, p. 11) In this case, the episode was directed by the performer of The Doctor, Robert Picardo. Shortly before production on Voyager's third season officially began, Picardo remarked, "I would like to think I will definitely be directing this year [....] I am confident it will happen. I don't know whether it will be the first half or the second half of [this] season. I hope it's a good one." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 98) In another interview conducted before Picardo directed this installment (at a time when he knew the episode's position in the third season but not yet its story), he commented, "I'm sure there will be a lot of challenges to doing it, but I'm really quite excited about it. There's not too much more I can say about it now, other than to tell you that I'm completely committed to doing the best job I can. I hope my first effort as a director is a respectable one." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #10)
  • Robert Picardo discovered the episode's production to be challenging though rewarding. He later said, "I certainly enjoyed it [....] When you finally [direct for the first time] yourself, there's many sink-or-swim moments. I did as much homework as I could. I was well prepared. I stayed on schedule and on budget which are all important things to the front office, but it took me, five-fold the time to plan something that it would have taken an experienced director. I had to put in a lot of extra hours of homework and coming in on the weekend, rolling with the punches as those rewrite pages came flooding in as I was shooting [....] At the end of the first day I said 'I never want to do this again.' By the middle of the third day, I was going, 'Well, maybe.' And by the fifth day I definitely wanted to do it again." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, pp. 91-92) Picardo also enthused, "It was a great experience. I really enjoyed it [....] I certainly had a good time. After the first day's anxiety, I relaxed a bit, and I enjoyed it." Additionally, Picardo expressed that he "didn't have any bad luck" with directing the episode, apart from the fact that Garrett Wang was ill with flu. (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15)
  • Robert Picardo encountered a problem of another sort, however. "[Sandra Nelson] appeared in a bathing suit, and the set was too cold," Picardo recalled, "so we had to line the inside of her bathing suit. I don't know if you know this, but in television the networks [in this case, UPN] issue what we call 'nipple memos' [....] Too many nipples in 43 minutes of television and you get a memo. Anyway, we were afraid of getting a nipple memo so we closed down for 40 minutes waiting for the lining to be sewn in. That was the most interesting delay I had." (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15)
  • During production, Robert Picardo devised a short moment involving his character of The Doctor, an event that Picardo enjoyed filming. "I wanted to have one vignette for my own character in this big luau which all the cast members were in on this set. So I got to pick my own vignette and suggest it to the writers," Picardo remembered. "There are these two [...] Polynesian women who are recreational holograms. I'm musing over the difference between being a working hologram and a recreational hologram, and they both kiss me. So that's one of the advantages of directing. I got to shoot as many takes of that as I wanted." (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15) Picardo also joked, "Since I started directing, I've had the chance to use myself the way I prefer to be used, which is strictly as a sex object. I'm hoping some of the other directors will take note!" (Star Trek Monthly issue 26, p. 13)
  • The original edit of this episode was not long enough, so the scene wherein Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres meet in a corridor, comment on each other's clothing and then make last-minute preparations for attending the luau was added during post-production. While Torres actress Roxann Dawson's typical make-up was being applied shortly before the scene was filmed, she explained to Star Trek Monthly, "I'm actually here at the studio today because we're tacking an extra scene onto 'Alter Ego.' When they put the show together (in the editing room), they realized it came in about a minute short. So Robbie and I and Bob (Picardo) are back here shooting a short scene in which Paris sort of compliments B'Elanna as they're walking down a corridor." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25, p. 22)
  • Robert Picardo ultimately thought his directing of this episode went well, as did other members of Voyager's cast and crew. Executive producer Jeri Taylor commented, "[He] did a very nice job." (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 14) Roxann Dawson said, "Bob was great on his [first] show." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #12) Garrett Wang agreed, "Bob Picardo did a nice job directing it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #17) Picardo himself noted, "I thought it turned out well." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18) He also said, "Directing ['Alter Ego'] was a wonderful whetting of the appetite," and, "I believe I did well enough that they will offer me another opportunity [to direct]." (Star Trek Monthly issue 30, p. 20; Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 15) Picardo would indeed go on to direct another installment of Star Trek: Voyager – specifically, the sixth season episode "One Small Step".

Continuity Edit

  • Voyager's transporters are used while the shields are engaged. After Tuvok dematerializes, a plasma stream detonates near the ship and Chakotay reports "Shields are down to 47%;" Tuvok then rematerializes on the space station.
  • This episode is the first to feature the Vulcan game kal-toh. Tim Russ noted, "The producers sort of made up the game and how to play it." (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 30)
  • This was the first produced episode to include the character of Ensign Vorik. He also appears in "Fair Trade", which was produced straight after this episode but aired immediately before it.
  • Vorik's interest in B'Elanna Torres is revealed in this episode. It becomes a major plot point two episodes later, in "Blood Fever".
  • The corridor scene between Tom and B'Elanna also somewhat preempts "Blood Fever". In the makeup chair shortly before this scene was shot, Roxann Dawson said of the scene, "It will help set the stage for what happens in 'Blood Fever.'" (Star Trek Monthly issue 25, p. 22)
  • This episode makes a reference to the holographic depiction of James Moriarty and his role in the events of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Elementary, Dear Data" and "Ship in a Bottle". The holographic Moriarty inspired the creation – early in the development process of Star Trek: Voyager – of the character of The Doctor. (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager)

Reception and Aftermath Edit

  • Jeri Taylor was highly satisfied with this episode in general, describing the installment as "a delightful kind of a romp" as well as "a very intriguing and unusual sort of story for Tuvok." (Star Trek Monthly issue 24, p. 14)
  • This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.8 million homes, and a 7% share. [2]
  • Cinefantastique rated this episode 2 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 103)
  • Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 2 out of 5 stars, defined as "Impulse Power only". (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 57)
  • The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 163) gives this installment a rating of 3 out of 10.
  • One of the costumes worn by Sandra Nelson in this episode was re-used by background actress Fedra Thompson (in an unknown episode) and later sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. [3]

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and References Edit

Guest stars Edit

Co-stars Edit

Uncredited co-star Edit

References Edit

1962; Alpha Quadrant; astrotheorist; Big Daddy-O Surf Special; chess; Delta Quadrant; Enterprise-D, USS; dampening field; Federation; Hawaiian shirt; holodeck; hydrosailing; inertial dampener; inversion nebula; k'oh-nar; kal-toh; kelvin; lei; luau; mobile emitter; Moriarty, James; Paxau Resort; Picard, Jean-Luc; pineapple; Polynesian; plasma strand; shon-ha'lock; soo-lak; Starfleet Academy; subatomic cascade reaction; T'Pel; t'san s'at; tendon; tic-tac-toe; turbolift; volleyball; Vulcans; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan master; warp core breach

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