(written from a Production point of view)
Voyager answers a distress call from a Hirogen outpost – only to find carnage caused by holographic technology that Captain Janeway has given them.
Two Hirogen hunt on a tropical landscape, finally finding and almost successfully hunting down an unknown creature, who barely eludes them. With uncharacteristic caution, they slowly track their "prey" to a small lake but instead Humans in Starfleet uniforms emerge from the water and kill them with a barrage of various weapons fire.
Meanwhile on the USS Voyager, The Doctor asks Chakotay for some time off so he can go to a symposium on space-borne pathogens. Chakotay refuses, saying the planet was two weeks in the wrong direction. As The Doctor argues with him, Captain Kathryn Janeway calls him to the bridge, saying they have received a distress call on a Hirogen frequency.
Once inside, they find a tropical landscape and two dead Hirogen hunters. Tuvok's scans indicate the burns are from a type 3 phaser. They also find a Klingon bat'leth stuck in a nearby tree. When they begin to approach a wounded Hirogen, he fires on them. However, Tuvok sneaks up from behind and knocks him out with a Vulcan nerve pinch. Tom Paris beams him to sickbay.
Seven of Nine soon uncovers Starfleet holographic technology, and identifies holoemitters throughout the structure. When she shuts off the grid, dozens of dead Hirogen appear, lying in the giant hologrid.
After the away team returns and recounts their experience, Janeway is surprised at how real Chakotay says it was; it fooled their sensors and had no safety protocols. She concludes the Hirogen missed the point of this technology, for it was supposed to let them hunt safely while preserving their culture, not get them killed.
In sickbay, they find The Doctor unable to get close to the still-frantic hunter, who believes that this is a simulation and that The Doctor intends to harm him. When Janeway explains who she is, however, the Hirogen, named Donik, recognizes her and wants to know what happened. He cannot believe everyone else is dead. He explains that the base was a training facility for young Hirogen and that he is not a "Hunter" but a lowly technician. The holograms were malfunctioning, and there were too many of them. He couldn't shut the system off.
Tuvok then notifies Janeway that a Hirogen ship is on an intercept course. It begins firing almost immediately, and refuses their hails. She orders Tuvok to return fire but to only target their weapon systems. After Voyager successfully disables their phaser banks and Janeway again tries hailing them, the Hirogen retain an aggressive posture yet are now willing to talk. She explains Voyager has a Hirogen aboard and manages to get the two Hirogen to come aboard from their now-impotent vessel to speak with her and Donik.
Upon receiving a summary of Voyager's encounter with the training facility and rescue of Donik, the two Hirogen, revealed to be Hunters, become hostile towards him, accusing him of cowardice and blaming him for the recent holodeck catastrophe. Janeway retains a stern posture towards the Hirogen, preferring to defuse the situation by attempting to ascertain what led to the incident. Donik, when asked, says he couldn't delete the holographic prey, for they transferred themselves to another vessel that was equipped with holoemitters. Janeway questions the wisdom of creating holograms apparently capable of self-awareness and ingenuity. The Hirogen simply reply that if they were any less sophisticated, the hunt wouldn't be interesting.
The two Hunters are more cooperative when it comes down to tracking the missing ship. They quickly and correctly identify the way to track the ship by scanning for polarized EM emissions. They are still hard on Janeway, and blame her as well as Donik, but allow Voyager to join the hunt for that ship. Chakotay and Tuvok have reservations about an alliance with the hunters, but Janeway explains that's Voyager's responsibility since that was Starfleet technology that killed the Hirogens.
They find the holograms' ship soon, and find it has taken damage. The hunters begin to close immediately, but Janeway urges caution. They ignore her. As soon as Harry Kim detects no weapons, warp drive, or shields, the image of the ship turns into something much smaller which then explodes. The Hirogen ship is badly damaged, and Janeway orders transport of the casualties. However, part way through, another Hirogen ship appears, and this one is real. It ignores Voyager's hail, and begins firing immediately. With Voyager's shields down, it manages to transport The Doctor's program out of sickbay and onto the ship. They go to warp and mask their signature.
But The Doctor doesn't care about that. He wants to treat dying patients on Voyager. They won't let him go, but the officer explains their situation. Dozens of holograms are "wounded," beginning to fade out and destabilize, and they need his help. The Doctor insists he is not an engineer, but the officer asks him if he has ever repaired his own matrix. He has, so after being convinced these injures are no different than flesh and blood casualties, he reluctantly agrees to see what he can do.
Meanwhile, aboard Voyager, Donik is explaining how the emitters work. He believes they can disable a central power generator, and that will disable them all. B'Elanna Torres, however, disagrees. She shows the captain an intimidating list of capabilities, including enhanced memory and expandable data processing. She concludes that Donik lied; they are not malfunctioning, they are simply doing what they were programmed to do too effectively. Donik says he did it under orders from his Alpha.
Janeway takes him to the mess hall, which has been turned onto makeshift sickbay. The Beta aboard the destroyed Hirogen ship wakes up, angry. Janeway informs him that he will not be contacting his ship, and his superior was the one who gave the instructions for the modifications. The way she sees it, they have planned for the hunters' tactics, and Janeway is confident she can deactivate them from a distance. The hunter believes it is cowardly, and refuses to help, believing they should be hunted to extinction. Donik, however, will help.
Meanwhile, aboard the stolen ship, The Doctor does his best to heal his patients. He has the novel idea of a subroutine transplant, obviously taking a page from medicine. Kejal, a Cardassian with a Bajoran name, assists him. He is surprised with her computer skills. She says she had to teach herself; the hunters tried to limit their knowledge.
The next patient, a woman in a Starfleet uniform, enters with blood on her face and reacts in pain. Kejal explains that the Hirogen wanted the holograms to bleed and suffer pain when they were killed. The Doctor has trouble believing the hunters' barbarism.
When he speaks with the Bajoran officer, he finds him praying. He says he is asking the Prophets to guide the souls of the dead hunters to the celestial temple. He believes in them. The officer explains their fight just as a Bajoran would the rebellion on Bajor: as a liberation. He came from a training facility fifteen parsecs from that one, he explains, where he was killed over and over again by the Alpha there. For a hologram, not even death would end the pain and fear. He adapted with each death, eventually becoming cunning enough to escape. After fleeing them, he found other holograms fighting their captors, and he was so inspired, he started fighting alongside them. Now, this ship of renegades is looking to create a permanent home away from all of the threatening "organics."
He points out that many organic species throughout the sector as the Nuu'Bari or the Lokirrim have created and enslaved holograms. He then tries to convince The Doctor to stay with them in the ship, saying that he could have privileges here he couldn't have on Voyager. The Doctor, however, doesn't buy it. He feels respected by his colleagues, and continues to judge him harshly. The officer concludes that he must experience life as prey, and then he will understand, and The Doctor immediately finds himself back in the jungle, running for his life. He is soon caught, brutalized, and killed.
He suddenly wakes up on a table, and the officer explains he was made to experience memory files of one of them. He is outraged at being violated in such a way, especially to gain his sympathy. The officer insists they are alike; it was The Doctor who was the template for them, able to rise above his programming as they can. They offer to take him back to Voyager, but he decides to at least hear about the home they wish to build.
Kejal explains that they are hoping a photonic field generator can be modified for deployment on a planet, where they can use it to create a complete holographic environment. They want The Doctor's help to make it possible. He doesn't know nearly enough, but he suggests someone on Voyager could help, like Lieutenant Torres, since she knows a lot about hologram generators. They refuse, saying Voyager is in league with the hunters. The Doctor offers to talk to Janeway, since he believes they are operating under a misconception. They regretfully agree.
Meanwhile on Voyager, Donik and Seven find a way to disrupt their emitter with an antiphoton pulse from the deflector dish. Before the modifications can finish, however, the hologram's ship intercepts them, and hails. The Doctor makes his plea, saying that the holograms have come to make peace.
When The Doctor explains all this, Janeway is skeptical. She says that giving the technology to the Hirogen was a mistake, and furthering their plan with more technology would be a bigger mistake. The Doctor tries to convince her that these holograms are different. They have adapted beyond the viciousness which with they were programmed.
The debate is cut short, however, when a fight breaks out in the mess hall. All of the hunters kept there, led by their new Alpha, start attacking the security officers. Tuvok stuns a few, and gets them under control, but not before the new Alpha can send a signal. Two more Hirogen ships are soon detected on an intercept course.
The captain orders Torres to shut down the holograms with the burst over The Doctor's objections. She asks Iden and the others to allow Voyager to transport them aboard, and she will help them find a more permanent residence at a future time. Iden, however, doesn't trust her. She says she will deactivate them by force, and he fires and jumps to warp.
The Doctor, unhappy with the captain's decision, loads himself into the mobile emitter, and gives the holograms Voyager's shield frequencies to beam him aboard. He will help them come up with a defense against the pulse.
Aboard the ship, The Doctor objects to a suggestion to use their shield frequencies to target the bridge. Fortunately, Iden is a man of his word, and suggests they find another way.
They soon find it. Thanks to The Doctor's data, they send feedback along the pulse, and overload Voyager's deflector dish, along with most of the primary systems. Torres just barely gets a force field around the warp core in time to protect it before a shock knocks her unconscious.
With Voyager's shields down, Iden has Torres transported aboard his own ship (having located her by scanning for Klingon life signs), and then orders to go to warp.
The Doctor examines Torres, and is outraged at her abduction. He considers his trust betrayed, and does his best to treat her. Iden insists he will let her go if she doesn't want to help them.
On the disabled Voyager, Seven of Nine is doing her best to repair all of the damaged systems. The captain is still baffled by how they guessed the frequency of the pulse so quickly until Tuvok shows her the report detailing an encrypted transmission and a transport in sickbay.
Going down the hall, she asks Chakotay if she should have seen this coming, saying she will run a diagnostic on The Doctor when he gets back. Chakotay, however, points out The Doctor could simply have believed in their cause, and there could be nothing wrong with him. That would create an ethical dilemma.
The Doctor tries to talk to the now-conscious Torres. She is angry at The Doctor, and is completely unwilling to assist the photonics. She scoffs at The Doctor's common heritage talk, though he tries to draw parallels with her own decision to joined the Maquis. Finally, Torres expresses a reluctant willingness to at least take a look at the photonic generator. She is unimpressed by Iden, and is surprised when she is told she will be working with Kejal, the Cardassian.
Back on Voyager, Paris, Donik, and the captain are in astrometrics. They cannot track the holograms' ship, and are keeping an eye on the ever-closing Hirogen ships. Donik offers to stay and modify the shields, not wanting to return to his people. He feels it is his fault since he did the modification, and he doesn't want to become a hunter; he wants to be an engineer.
The Hirogen ships, however, are not happy about that. They demand his return, and when Janeway explains he is improving their sensors, they insist they will not share that technology. They warn her to stay away from the holograms, or Voyager also becomes prey.
Act Five Edit
Voyager keeps a sensor lock on them, and Janeway comes up with a plan. Donik explains they have a blind spot due to an ion wake, which Voyager can exploit. They can get in range with his knowledge of their scanning frequencies, and then Tuvok can perform a precise strike using the element of surprise.
Torres discovers the problem with the photonic generator almost immediately: it needs more optronic capacity. She hasn't decided whether or not to tell them yet how to increase the output. She doesn't know whether these holograms will take over someone else's home when theirs isn't big enough. Kejal convinces her that making a home for themselves is all they want, and whatever they may appear to be, they are holograms. She looks Cardassian, but she is not arrogant and cruel, characteristics that Torres supposes describe all Cardassians, even photonics.
The Doctor, meanwhile, is having doubts. He is considering returning to Voyager with Torres. Iden shows The Doctor the planet they intend to settle on, called Ha'Dara. It's class Y, with a toxic atmosphere, extreme conditions, and has no life. That's the point, says Iden; they are holograms, and they will have what they need most: protection from hostile organics. Since there will be no one to heal, The Doctor will be free to do what he pleases.
Just then, the Hirogen detect them. They head for a nebula which blinds their sensors. The Hirogen decide to split up; one ship scans the perimeter, the other will drive them out.
Act Six Edit
Voyager, still aft of the Hirogen ship, enters the nebula. They barely manage to stay in its wake.
The holograms' ship, meanwhile, hides. The Hirogen's attempt to flush them out is destined to fail. Torres gets Kejal onto the system, and notices great self-confidence in her – a Cardassian trait. At the same time, The Doctor suggests to Iden that he (The Doctor) could be Minister of Culture, teaching the holograms about things like art. However, when his lessons begin to speak of "organic" cultures, Iden objects. He wants to create a new one, even a new religion based upon their experiences. The Doctor doesn't like being worshiped, but Iden says he has been chosen. Just then, a Nuu'Bari ship is detected, and they go to "liberate" the three holograms on it.
The Doctor confides in Torres about Iden's emerging fanatical tendencies, suggesting maybe this whole endeavor wasn't such a good idea. Torres then uses this information to confront Iden, but he ignores her.
Iden contacts the Nuu'Bari and informs them they will transfer the holograms to them, or they will be taken by force. The holograms disable the Nuu'Bari shields with phasers, and then beam their holograms aboard. After that, at Iden's orders, they target a photon torpedo at the Nuu'bari's warp core. Over protests from Kejal and Torres, Iden fires, destroying the Nuu'bari ship, killing its (organic) crew of two.
Torres and The Doctor are horrified at what seems to them nothing short of murder. There was no reason for them to kill defenseless organics. They drag the protesting Torres to the lab.
Iden explains to The Doctor it was necessary; they were going to call in Consortium hunting parties to track them down. The Doctor tries to dissuade Iden from his view that all organics are like the Hirogen. Iden says they are, and The Doctor just can't see that. The Doctor requests his escape pod. Iden says he will give it to them when they reach Ha'Dara.
The Doctor apologizes to Torres for getting her involved in Iden's personal war. Torres mentions she has a plan to find a way out, then goes to help Kejal with repairing the Nuu'bari holograms.
Torres tries to convince Kejal to rebel, saying that Iden is not the leader of peace time; she reminds her that it's the engineers like herself and Kejal that actually build societies. However, Iden comes in, and then the Nuu'Bari holograms are activated. However, no matter what he says, they simply do not understand. Iden wonders if they are malfunctioning, but Torres explains that they are not. They are programmed to support about forty basic subroutines. Kejal confirms this. Iden calls this yet another form of oppression and demands they be enhanced. Torres explains that their programs are not complex enough to allow it. Iden simply brushes it off, claiming that he will deliver them to freedom. The bridge informs Iden they are now in orbit of the planet. Iden has Torres restrained; The Doctor demands Iden let Torres go, but he refuses because he now sees through her prejudices towards holograms.
That's when the Hirogen target the holograms, and Voyager begins firing on their ships. The engines and weapons of both ships are disabled. As Iden is considering thanking Voyager, they begin firing on the holograms' ship. Iden has them return fire, and beam the Hirogen to the surface to be hunted as they once were. The Doctor objects again, noting that the Hirogen cannot live long breathing that atmosphere, but Iden ignores him; he intends to hunt the Hirogen, as they had once hunted him and his kind. Iden orders his ship into a lower orbit.
Voyager, meanwhile, sends Tuvok and Tom Paris to take the Delta Flyer down.
After another confrontation, Iden realizes The Doctor is no longer on his side, so he transfers him to the data banks, and then transports the generator to the surface. On the surface, Iden rallies his crew, and begins hunting the hunters for a change. Torres tells Kejal to shut down the holograms and reactivate The Doctor, who re-materializes on the surface of the planet, armed. On the planet, the Hirogen try to fight back, but quickly realize it is useless; the holograms are invincible to their weapons, and can pass through any barriers the Hirogen put up.
The Delta Flyer, meanwhile, takes down the shields of the holograms' ship and beams Torres aboard.
Iden fights and subdues a Hirogen, and as Iden is about to kill the Hirogen, The Doctor draws on him. When Iden won't back down and is about to shoot, The Doctor vaporizes him. The Delta Flyer then beams up The Doctor and the remaining Hirogen.
- "Captain's log, stardate 54337.5. The surviving Hirogen have recovered from their injuries, leaving me with a diplomatic dilemma."
Janeway and Neelix talk the Hirogen out of taking the holograms' ship, and after the Hirogen depart Voyager, she transfers to the hologram ship. Janeway allows Donik to reprogram the holograms with Kejal, the only remaining running hologram, and run the ship. He will get his chance to repair what he did.
Janeway then has to face The Doctor. He says he never wanted Voyager to be put in danger. He volunteers to give her his mobile emitter, limiting his freedoms as punishment. She declines, for perhaps he has become as fallible as the rest of the crew, and taking away his freedom would be taking his identity. She asks for his report, and leaves him to work out the ethics himself.
Memorable quotes Edit
"I can't heal them. They need to be repaired."
"What's the difference?"
"I'm a doctor, not an engineer."
- - The Doctor and Iden, about the damaged holograms.
"They can't support complex subroutines."
"They are children of light and I will deliver them to freedom!"
- - Torres and Iden, about the Nuu'bari holograms
"I modified their programs. What's happened to them, the people they have killed, it's my fault."
"There's plenty of blame to go around. There would have been nothing for you to modify if I hadn't shared our database."
"If you hadn't, I'd have become a Hunter, like my father and his father. Instead, I had a chance to learn, become an engineer."
- - Donik and Janeway
"Darkness will become light."
- - Iden
"You and your crew would have made worthy prey, captain."
"Thank you... I think."
- - Beta Hirogen and Janeway
"It looks like an Alpha Quadrant summit in here."
- - Torres, upon seeing the Holograms
"You've given me extraordinary freedom over the years. I've obviously abused it."
"Maybe. Or maybe you've simply become as fallible as those of us who are made of flesh and blood."
- - The Doctor and Janeway
"You still believe all organics are like the Hirogen."
"One way or another, they are. You just can't see it because you lived among them for so long."
"What you can't see is that you've become no better than the hunters."
- - The Doctor and Iden
"It may be the warriors who get the glory, but it's the engineers who build societies."
- - Torres, to Kejal
"If this marriage is going to work you've got to cut back on the traveling."
- - Paris, to Torres, after the latter's rescue
"Never let your prey control the hunt."
- - Older Hirogen, to the younger Hirogen
"Capable prey make the hunt more challenging."
- - Hirogen Hunter, to Seven of Nine
Background information Edit
- Both Cindy Katz and Paul Eckstein previously appeared in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Katz played Yteppa in "Second Skin" and Eckstein played Limara'Son in "Rocks and Shoals". He also played an unnamed Jem'Hadar in "The Dogs of War". Spencer Garrett previously appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation as Simon Tarses in the episode "The Drumhead".
- This episode was originally aired as a feature-length episode. It was later broken up into two parts for reruns.
- This episode is the third of only three feature-length episodes in the Star Trek series that is not a series pilot or finale. The first is the Deep Space Nine Season 4 episode "The Way of the Warrior" and the second is the Voyager Season 5 episode "Dark Frontier".
- The holographic generator used by Iden and the other escaped holograms is a re-use of the Think Tank artificial intelligence prop from the episode "Think Tank".
- The console used by Kejal and B'Elanna Torres to configure and control the holographic generator is a re-use of a console in Tom Paris's Captain Proton holonovel-series. It is clearly seen in the next episode "Shattered".
- Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay was the costume of background performer Johnny Linares. 
- One of the call sheets for this episode, dated on 30 August 2000, features the note that Ken Biller and his wife Hope became parents of a baby girl, Sophia Rose, on 29 August 2000 at 7:42 a.m.
- This episode marks the only appearance of the Jem'Hadar and the Breen in Voyager, although they appear only as holograms. It is also the only appearance of the Breen outside of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Three Jem'Hadar attack ships previously appeared (also in holographic form) in season 2's "Parturition".
- Voyager launched in 2371, while the Jem'Hadar were first encountered by the Federation in 2370, explaining how the species is included in Voyager's holographic database.
- The Doctor mentions having met the Lokirrim. This refers to the events in the episode "Body and Soul". Interestingly, Jeff Yagher, who played Iden, is married to Megan Gallagher, who played Jaryn, a Lokirrim that The Doctor was attracted to in that episode.
- The events of this episode are indirectly referenced in the later episode "Author, Author"; when Voyager becomes part of a hearing in the Alpha Quadrant to determine the Doctor's legal rights, Janeway mentions an incident where the Doctor defied orders and endangered the crew, arguing that this proves that he has developed as an individual entity rather than a program that was only ever intended to obey orders and carry out specific tasks.
Video and DVD releases Edit
- The sleeve suggests the two-part version (using "Flesh and Blood, Part I" and "Flesh and Blood, Part II" on the standard cover). The sleeve itself is reversible: standard Voyager layout on one side, "Special Edition" packaging with a crew promo image on the other.
- As part of the VOY Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Junior Grade Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Guest stars Edit
- Jeff Yagher as Iden
- Ryan Bollman as Donik
- Michael Wiseman as the Beta Hirogen
- Cindy Katz as Kejal
- Spencer Garrett as Weiss
- Vaughn Armstrong as the first Alpha Hirogen
- Paul Eckstein as the second Alpha Hirogen
- Todd Jeffries as Hirogen #1
- Don McMillan as Hirogen #3
- Chad Halyard as Hirogen #2
- David Doty as Nuu'Bari miner
- Damon Kirsche as Nuu'Bari Hologram One
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Michael Bailous as holographic Cardassian
- Andrew English as security officer
- Jeff Clark as a holographic Starfleet officer
- Stuart Coleman as a Nuu'Bari hologram
- Damaris Cordelia as security officer
- Joyce Lasley as Lydia Anderson
- Mitchell Danton as a holographic Starfleet officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Dieter Hornemann as holographic Vulcan
- Johnny Linares as a Nuu'Bari hologram
- Mark Major as holographic Romulan
- Robin Morselli as a holographic Romulan
- Louis Ortiz as
- Shanta Payne as a holographic Starfleet officer
- Redondo Philip as a holographic Starfleet officer
- Keith Rayve as a holographic Borg
- Mark Riccardi as a holographic Starfleet officer
- Stephen Pisani as a security officer
- Unknown performers as
- Sue Henley – stand-in for Kate Mulgrew
- Brita Nowak – stand-in for Jeri Ryan
- Lem Perry – stand-in for Tim Russ
- Stuart Wong – stand-in for Garrett Wang
ablative armor; Alpha Quadrant; antiphoton pulse; autonomy protocols; Bajoran religion; bat'leth; blind spot; Boray; Breen; Cardassian; Celestial Temple; class Y planet; da Vinci, Leonardo; Delta Quadrant; escape pod; evasive pattern; Grid 295; Grid 936; Ha'Dara; hexapod; Hirogen; Hirogen holographic prey; Hirogen holoship; Hirogen hunting vessel; Hirogen training facility; holodeck safety protocol; holo-emitter; hologram; holotechnology; Iden's Rebellion; inertial damper; ion wake; Jem'Hadar; kilometer; Klingon; laborer; Lokirrim; main deflector; Maquis; megalomania; memory storage unit; meter; mobility algorithm; monotanium; nebula; Nuu'Bari; Nuu'Bari mining vessel; Nuu'Bari patrol ship; "organics"; Ovion; Ovion system; parsec; particle weapon; phase variance; phaser bank; photonic field generator; plasma; play possum; prayer; prejudice; programmer; projection subroutine; prophet; red alert; Romulan disruptor; scattering field; sensory subroutine; shield frequency; shield generator; spaceborne pathogen; stealth mode; subroutine transplant; symposium; T'Leel; tactical algorithm; tracking beam; transwarp; triaxilation; tricorder; tylium; type 3 phaser; Venatic-class; Verdi, Giuseppe; violent subroutine; vocal processor; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan nerve pinch; warp signature
| Previous episode:|
| Star Trek: Voyager|
| Next episode:|