(written from a Production point of view)
|"Heroes and Demons"|
|VOY, Episode 1x12|
Production number: 112
First aired: 24 April 1995
|←||11th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||11th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||360th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
When several crew members disappear inside Harry Kim's "Beowulf" holodeck program, the holographic Doctor is the only one who can rescue them.
- Captain's log, stardate 48693.2. We've altered course to investigate some unusually intense photonic activity in a nearby protostar. Lieutenant Torres and I are beaming aboard samples for further analysis.
Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres encounters an irregularity in the transport of samples from a nearby protostar; one of the containers is filled but the other is empty. After this irregularity is corrected on a second attempt, Torres informs Captain Janeway that she will perform a full, six-hour spectral analysis on both containers. It is concluded that the samples could be harnessed to improve the power converters by fifteen to twenty percent. Janeway attempts to locate Ensign Harry Kim to expedite the analysis, however the computer informs her that Kim is not aboard the ship.
Janeway then goes to the bridge, where Lieutenant Commander Tuvok and Commander Chakotay aid her in a more thorough search of the ship for Kim. Noticing that Kim was last seen on the holodeck, Tuvok performs an intensive scan of the holodeck, though there is a high amount of interference. Realizing that the holodeck program cannot be shut down, Tuvok and Chakotay enter the program while it is still in progress.
They discover the holonovel, Beowulf, which is an emulation of "an ancient English epic set in 6th century Denmark" as described by Chakotay. Soon after this discovery, they encounter a holodeck character who shoots a projectile at Chakotay, though missing him. Tuvok and Chakotay come to the conclusion that holodeck commands and safeguards may be inoperative. The holodeck character identifies herself as "Freya, daughter of King Hrothgar", who believes they are possibly malevolent intruders.
Asking if they are Beowulf's men, Chakotay finds an opportunity to befriend Freya, by declaring that they are indeed such. Chakotay realized that since Kim chose the holodeck program, he was probably playing the lead character: Beowulf. Tuvok and Chakotay decide to remain with Freya, in hopes that she may aid them in their search for Kim. Freya alarmingly mentions that Beowulf has died. Freya takes them to the castle of King Hrothgar, to "avenge the death" of Beowulf. The men in the King's company tell Tuvok and Chakotay that Beowulf died with 30 warriors, at the hands of a merciless monster named Grendel.
Tuvok asks for Beowulf's body, but Freya informs him that Grendel dragged the body to its lair, although nobody saw the battle. The King loses faith in Beowulf's incapability in killing Grendel, and is terrified. The King and his company are doubtful of Tuvok and Chakotay's worthiness, and as a test require them to hold sentry of the castle.
Tuvok and Chakotay inform Janeway of the program. Tuvok suggests that Kim may truly be dead. Janeway requests tricorder analysis of the program. Tuvok and Chakotay discuss Beowulf as an example of human mythology. Tuvok sees it as illogical, claiming that Vulcans do not write about demons. Chakotay discusses alien mythology that relates to Beowulf, such as Vok'sha of Rakella Prime. It is discovered that the protostar emitted energy that caused the holodeck to malfunction. This caused Kim to be converted into energy.
One meter in diameter, a bright mass appears in the program. Torres tries to transport them out of the program but it does not work. Chakotay and Tuvok have disappeared from view, leaving Torres and Janeway.
The crew determines that photonic energy created a defect that de-materialized Kim, Chakotay, and Tuvok. Lieutenant Tom Paris is convinced that they may still be recoverable. To prevent a rescue team being consumed in the same fashion, Paris suggests that the The Doctor could be used, "because a hologram cannot be converted into energy because it's already energy". The Doctor would also have the advantage of being corporeal or incorporeal at will. The Doctor is asked to interact with the characters and discover the root of the malfunction.
Kes talks with The Doctor while he learns background information concerning Beowulf. Kes asks if The Doctor is nervous about the task, since it is different from his intended programming. The Doctor admits that the unfamiliarity of the environment outside of sickbay makes him uneasy. Kes explains that it will be a chance for The Doctor to become independent and more Human. Kes suggests a name for The Doctor, and he agrees to further research a suitable name for himself.
The Doctor encounters Freya in the same fashion as Chakotay and Tuvok, and already knows every important detail about her, due to his copious research of Beowulf. After Freya gloats of her exploits, The Doctor asks Freya for Grendel's location. Freya finds The Doctor's willingness to locate such an epic monster as courageous and admirable. The Doctor says his name is "Schweitzer"; Freya says it is a warrior's name. She agrees to lead him to Grendel. Freya begins to forage sub-arctic fungi, for a broth in a warrior's pre-battle concoction. The Doctor comments on the fungi in a clinical tone, describing it as detrimental to physical activity. Freya counters that anything that does not kill, makes one strong.
The King is introduced to The Doctor, and is received in a nearly identical fashion as Chakotay and Tuvok, with an identical script. The Doctor engages with one of the King's men, Unferth, in a sword fight to prove his worthiness in fighting Grendel. The Doctor slightly wounds the foe, and gives him medical advice thereafter. He gains the adulation of the King's audience as they chant "Schweitzer!"
The men in the castle invite The Doctor to a feast of meat. The Doctor begins to gloat of unusually dry exploits (most notably "Parinisti measles") with copious amounts of advanced medical terminology. This confounds the men.
Freya sits with The Doctor near a roaring fire. Freya confesses her unease about Grendel, and asks The Doctor for counsel. Freya fears her courage would falter, but says The Doctor has bolstered it. Freya grows romantically attached to The Doctor, and they kiss. Freya invites The Doctor to her bed, but he declines, being interrupted to readings of photonic energy. It is Grendel.
Its tentacle grasps onto The Doctor, and as he is suddenly aware of feeling the creature's touch, he frantically requests to be transported to sickbay. He makes it; however, Grendel's tentacle prevents The Doctor's arm from being transported.
Paris adds a new arm to The Doctor. The Doctor's tricorder readings cause Paris and Torres to research the energy further, discovering synaptic patterns. The protostar samples are discovered to be photonic lifeforms, and break free from the sample, passing the containment field and traveling about the ship.
Janeway decides to let the organism escape through the hull, since there is no present danger. She demands visual analysis of the breach, and an immediate repair of the hull following its breach. It rejoins a photonic lattice: a sort of "home" for the photonic organisms. Janeway concludes that Kim, Tuvok, and Chakotay were converted into energy and made up the three patterns present in the photonic mass. It is believed that Grendel is holding the crewmen hostage for the seizure of the photonic samples, which are in fact its living brethren. Janeway believes that releasing the sample to Grendel as a sign of goodwill to the organisms, may lead to the release of the Voyager crewmen.
Bringing the remaining organism in a container, The Doctor enters the holodeck. The Doctor claims the sample is a talisman to defeat Grendel. Unferth concludes that since no man has the power to destroy Grendel, The Doctor must be consorting with Grendel. Unferth attempts to slay The Doctor, but Freya blocks the attack with her body, eventually dying in the process. The warrior takes the sample and flees. Freya bids The Doctor farewell, concluding with a kiss. The Doctor takes her sword, and goes to the king to retrieve the sample. The Doctor proclaims himself the only man capable of defeating Grendel. Unferth accuses The Doctor of killing Freya, but he is quelled by The Doctor's bravado. The Doctor threatens Unferth with a lit torch, and proclaims "the only reason you won't die is because I've taken an oath to do no harm." The "oath to do no harm" is the Hippocratic Oath that is used among Starfleet medical personnel.
The Doctor calls for Grendel, who appears in the throne room. The Doctor sets free the photonic organism in the sample container. He asks Grendel to return the crewmen. Grendel agrees.
- Captain's log, stardate 48710.5. Since the return of our missing crewman, we've been unable to locate any further traces of the photonic aliens.
Janeway praises The Doctor for aiding in the establishment of a peaceful relationship with a new species. Moreover she tells The Doctor that she is giving him a special commendation for exemplary performance as a Chief Medical Officer. The Doctor is humbled and thanks Janeway. The Doctor is asked if he wants to be addressed with a name, however he admits that Freya's death made "Schweitzer" painful and chooses to keep his current designation as "The Doctor".
"This ancient Earth culture seems fascinated with monsters."
"Every culture has its demons. They embody the darkest emotions of its people. Giving them physical form in heroic literature is a way of exploring those feelings. The Vok'sha of Rakella Prime believe that hate is a beast which lives inside the stomach. Their greatest mythical hero is a man who ate stones for twenty-three days to kill the beast, and became a saint."
"Such fables are necessary only in cultures which unduly emphasize emotional behavior. I would point out there are no demons in Vulcan literature."
"That might account for its popularity."
- - Tuvok and Chakotay
"Are you a master of herb-lore?"
"Well, in a way, I suppose I am."
"You are truly a man of many talents, Lord Schweitzer. Your people must value you greatly."
"You would think so."
- - Freya and the Doctor, as the Doctor acts as Schweitzer
"Fire is not the only heat, Lord Schweitzer. You know where I sleep."
- - Freya
"Sometimes I believe I can see the moment of my own death. It comes in battle, I think, my sword raised high. It is said that fate often spares a doomed warrior if his courage can prevail, but there have been days when I have felt my own courage falter, and then you came."
- - Freya
"The only reason you won't die is that I took an oath to do no harm."
- - The Doctor, to Unferth, after the latter has killed Freya
Story and Script
- Although Naren Shankar had previously had full-time employment on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, he wrote this episode on a freelance basis, as he had no regular involvement with Star Trek: Voyager. Executive Producer Michael Piller noted, "Naren Shankar, who is not on staff anymore, came back and wrote this episode." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 143)
- When Naren Shankar started to formulate the idea that ultimately developed into this episode, Voyager was in a very early stage of development. Shankar recalled, "The pitch was accepted before the series was going, so it had a long gestation period." At the time he conceived of the story, Naren Shankar was out for dinner with Brannon Braga. They started to casually brainstorm and consider a few plot ideas, coming up with the genesis of the pitch; this essentially was the two-fold notion that people start disappearing from the holodeck and that, since it seems as though they are being converted into energy and The Doctor will likely be safe from whatever is happening, he is sent into the holodeck. Shankar and Braga liked this idea, as it involved The Doctor being drawn into an adventure outside his usual confines of sickbay. However, still to be decided upon was the holographic environment that he would be sent into. Shankar explained, "I started kicking around some ideas and had this notion of Vikings, which was a recognizable time period that Star Trek really hadn't touched [....] As I was typing the memo that became the original pitch, I thought, 'We go into this Viking village, people are disappearing, and everybody's scared–this is Beowulf!' It was almost an afterthought, and suddenly, the last piece fell into place; The Doctor as Beowulf, taking on the role of reluctant hero, and that's how the story came about." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 67)
- The pitch, which was immediately accepted by Voyager's producers, was actually the first script Naren Shankar had sold since leaving TNG, although he had continued to pitch for Voyager as well as other television series produced in Hollywood. Of the producers' reactions to his pitch, Shankar noted, "Everybody loved the premise." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 67)
- Naren Shankar was surprised by the fact that, when he presented his pitch, no-one else in the room had read Beowulf; he had been under the impression that the poem was standard reading material. Although he was already familiar with the tale himself, he subsequently researched Beowulf specifically for this episode, slyly referencing the poem in his earliest version of the script. "I did go back into the source material," he said, "and in my first draft, during the first few Viking scenes, there were lines from Beowulf that I worked into the characters' speeches. Somebody who knew the poem would have said, 'Gee, that's in the poem.'" (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, pp. 67-68)
- This episode had the working title "Heroes and Villains". (Beyond the Final Frontier, p. 279)
- Naren Shankar worked on fleshing the story out and refining the script. He noted, "The story went through two drafts, with the first one being a bit long in detail." Writing the script so early in the run of Star Trek: Voyager proved to be somewhat tough for Shankar. "It was a little difficult," he admitted, "because it was hard to find the characters' voices. I was writing this show probably a few weeks after the premiere of Voyager, so I had only seen two or three episodes. That's not a lot to go on." On the other hand, Shankar found that writing the holoprogram scenes was easy. He explained, "The biggest problem was never the Viking elements, which always seemed to be pretty solid; it was the underlying alien explanation for what was happening. That seemed to be much more difficult to resolve, and if you were to look at the script through its various drafts, the Viking elements hardly changed at all. In fact, it was the best experience I've ever had as a writer, in terms of writing something as a first draft and then seeing those exact words on screen [....] I put tons of jokes in 'Heroes and Demons,' and I was amazed that they all got through." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, pp. 67 & 71)
- One of these jokes was that the name The Doctor assumes in this episode, Schweitzer, is a reference to Dr. Albert Schweitzer, a medical doctor, philosopher and recipient of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize. Naren Shankar recalled, "I was going through the names of famous doctors in history, and Albert Schweitzer sounded really funny. I thought it would be cut, because The Next Generation was never really known for its humor [....] Here I was, writing these scenes with the Vikings all shouting, 'Schweitzer, Schweitzer!' and thinking, 'They're going to cut this; there's no way this is going to make it,' but it did." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 67)
- The Doctor's participation in the holographic banquet was invented for the second draft script. The performer who regularly played him, Robert Picardo, commented, "After the original draft of the script, they added the scene where I can eat food." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #14, p. 17)
- One of the in-jokes that Naren Shankar included was that the episode has The Doctor lose an arm to Grendel rather than, as in Beowulf, vice versa. "That was my intention from the very beginning," Shankar revealed. "Again, it's never mentioned in the script, but anybody who knows the poem knows that Beowulf took Grendel's arm, so they should find that quite amusing. They'll appreciate the irony, because it's so obviously intentional." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 68)
- In Star Trek Magazine, writer Brian J. Robb speculated about the impetus of the repetition inherent in the encounters between Voyager crew members and the Beowulf characters. "Given this episode aired in 1995, it is [...] likely that Shankar and company were influenced by the rise of computer role-playing games," Robb considered. "The repeated situations reflect what occurs when the player encounters (and re-encounters, when replaying a level or scene) computer characters – they say and do the same things as before." (Star Trek Magazine issue 162, pp. 58-59)
- This episode's final draft script was submitted on 2 February 1995. 
Cast and Characters
- Most of the names of the holographic characters in this episode were taken straight from Beowulf, although Naren Shankar also invented a new character for the story. "Freya is not really in Beowulf," he remarked. "The King's daughter is mentioned, and I used a diminutive form of that name for the character, but she's really there as a romantic interest for the Doctor. I know that sounds cheap and lame, but ultimately it worked on screen." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 68)
- The humor of this episode was facilitated by Robert Picardo's performances as The Doctor and the shaping of the character in general. Naren Shankar commented, "In one sense, the Doctor was still a blank slate in many ways, and very early on, Robert Picardo had established the direction he was going to go with that character, so it was OK. The Doctor had this dry, sardonic humor, and that alone was enough to provide the impetus for some of the jokes in 'Heroes and Demons'–his reaction to certain situations, and his take on them. I would love to take credit for it, but I don't think I can. [Executive Producer] Jeri [Taylor], Brannon [Braga] and Michael [Piller] decided to play him that way, and Robert Picardo was able to bring his own dry sense of humor to it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 71)
- Star Trek: Voyager's writers were extremely pleased with Robert Picardo's performance as The Doctor in this episode. Jeri Taylor noted, "Robert Picardo was wonderful." Michael Piller remarked, "Picardo is a wonderful actor. I see him as the fish out of water." Similarly, Executive Story Editor Kenneth Biller commented that the episode gave "Bobby [Picardo] a chance to shine." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 143 & 144)
- Robert Picardo himself once jokingly described this episode as "Alice in Wonderland with a bald, middle-aged, cranky, arrogant Alice." (Delta Quadrant, p. 39) In fact, he believed this installment was one of his two best episodes (the other being Season 2's "Lifesigns"). The actor went on to say that this episode (in common with "Lifesigns") was "the perfect [example] of how interesting it can be to put the Doctor in a position he's not designed for. So, he had to discover how to function within the demands of an unfamiliar situation." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #10, p. 13) Robert Picardo also stated – shortly after working on this installment – that he was "extremely excited and proud of 'Heroes and Demons'." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 58) He additionally described the episode – at about the end of the first season – as "probably my favorite episode." (Star Trek Monthly issue 18, p. 56) Shortly before the third season began its initial airing, Picardo cited this episode as being one of the two finest outings for The Doctor up to that point, the other episode being "Projections". (Star Trek Monthly issue 20, p. 30) Soon after the episode was released on DVD, Picardo confirmed that this episode was his favorite from the first season. (Star Trek Magazine issue 115, p. 22)
- A certain scene of this episode that Robert Picardo liked was the one in which his character of The Doctor participates in Hrothgar's banquet. "I thought that was a particularly funny scene," Picardo noted. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #14, p. 17) Another scene that Picardo especially liked was the one between The Doctor and Janeway near the end of this episode, a scene that the actor appreciatively described as "lovely." (Star Trek Monthly issue 18, p. 56)
- Robert Picardo found Freya actress Marjorie Monaghan to be physically attractive; he once referred to her character (and, by extension, the actress herself) as "gorgeous blond [and] 6' 11''". (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 58)
- This episode was generally enjoyable for Kim actor Garrett Wang, although he only appears briefly in the episode's holographic Beowulf setting. Wang mused, "As an Asian American actor, I'm not really afforded the chance to play period pieces [...] so it was a blast." He especially liked that he was clothed in chain mail, later calling that fact "great." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 144) Wang reminisced, "They decked me out. I was wearing chain mail, a cape, sword, leggings. You name it, I had it. It was a great outfit. I was so excited [....] Wardrobe spent all that time coming up with an outfit to fit this scene." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 44) The actor was slightly irritated, however, by the minimalism of his dialogue here. He observed, "I show up after the Doctor saves the day. I have one stinking line. I [essentially] say, 'Good job, Doc.'" Wang also implied that he found this line to be "strange" as, in his opinion, it is "one line that comes out of nowhere. It's just not attached to the rest of the scene." (Starlog, issue #231, p. 51)
- Ethan Phillips (Neelix) does not appear in this episode.
- This episode had an unusual cast of background performers. Supervising Producer David Livingston commented, "We had a lot of really cool-looking extras." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 144)
- A forest set was, especially for this episode, constructed on Paramount Stage 12 (one of Paramount's swing stages), designed by Production Designer Richard James. (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #111, p. 52; Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 144) Greenery and backdrops were used in the artificial environment. (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 144) Director of Photography Marvin V. Rush enthusiastically remembered, "Richard's forest set on Paramount's stage 12 was absolutely exquisite. A central tree was surrounded by a circular shooting area and then a complete forest sprung up at the edges of that spherical space." (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #111, p. 52)
- The Great Hall was constructed as another set and was built so that it could contain fire. Marvin V. Rush noted, "The other haunting set for that show was a great hall, a sort of Viking long-house that was primarily sourced from fire." (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #111, p. 52)
- The sets impressed Naren Shankar. He enthused, "The sets were magnificent–the forest set was beautiful." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 68)
- The historical nature of the holonovel provided a basis to work from. "It was something grounded in reality here on Earth," David Livingston explained, "so we could kind of go for it since we had a template and didn't have to create something out of whole cloth. Everything there was in mythology and in historical record, so all the departments could go back to them and then kind of expand upon them, and that's why I think it was very successful." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 144)
- Creating the medieval look proved to be an enjoyable task. "The art department really had a lot of fun putting together all these elements," offered David Livingston. "It was fun from a visual standpoint because we got to do stuff that we don't normally get to do." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 144)
- Director Les Landau was able to utilize a crane for establishing shots of the holodeck environs. David Livingston remarked, "Les used a lot of close-focus lenses to get this tremendous sense of depth, and you get a lot of big, wide shots." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. p. 144)
- The scene involving The Doctor partaking in Hrothgar's banquet was filmed early one morning and the leg of elk that The Doctor supposedly eats was substituted with a salty leg of lamb. Robert Picardo remembered, "The first thing I put in my mouth that morning was this big side of very salty lamb. It was delicious. But eating, taking a big, fat bite of leg of lamb the first thing in the morning was something to do." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #14, p. 18)
- Garrett Wang ultimately regretted that he and his costume appear only fleetingly in this outing. "I guess they were running behind," he reckoned. "They needed to rush through. The director decided to use a closeup of me in the coverage, instead of showing the actual, entire outfit, which would have been really, really cool [....] All you see is a bit of a cape that's draped around my shoulders, but you don't see anything else. You don't even see the chain mail. What a waste [....] They didn't even highlight [the outfit] at all." (Cinefantastique, p. Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 44)
- Michael Piller was pleased with this episode's production in general. He commented, "It was very well produced." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 143)
- The "Grendel" photonic lifeform was designed by Ronald B. Moore, who affectionately dubbed the alien the "fettuccini monster." The design was a happy accident, developing from a new software experiment at Digital Magic. (Star Trek: Communicator, issue #105, p. 57)
- The music for this episode was composed by long-time Star Trek composer Dennis McCarthy. He found that the episode allowed him the opportunity to finally write a score in a particular style that he had originally wanted to use for the TNG episode "Qpid" but had not been able to, due to that series' conservative musical style. McCarthy recalled, "I couldn't really get into the Erich Wolfgang Korngold-type of explosive music that I felt ['Qpid'] really needed. By the time we got around to scoring 'Heroes and Demons' for Voyager, things had changed enough over the years that we could go that route." Another effect on the music of this episode was that the score for "Qpid" had been criticized as having not met its potential. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 62)
- In comparison with the music for the earlier first season Voyager episode "Ex Post Facto" (which Dennis McCarthy also wrote), McCarthy felt that this episode was slightly less different from the normal Star Trek score and that it was "plain fun, easy work in comparison." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, p. 63)
- Selections from the soundtrack of this episode were subsequently released as part of the CD The Best of Star Trek: Volume One.
Continuity and Trivia
- Janeway sports a new hairstyle in this episode. This was actress Kate Mulgrew's actual hair, although the new style was dropped after only two episodes as it reportedly was difficult to keep in place. (citation needed • edit) Seven of Nine later wears her hair in a similar bun, in subsequent seasons of the series.
- Although holodecks and malfunctions related to them had been heavily explored in Star Trek: The Next Generation and went on to be revisited in later episodes of Voyager, Jeri Taylor believed this episode differed sufficiently from those other stories. Considering this episode's elements, she stated, "We put people in the holodeck and get them into trouble, but you get to see things you haven't seen before on Star Trek. And isn't getting there half the fun of it? Show me the person that doesn't think that's a lot of fun and says, 'I've seen this before,' and I will show you a really dull person [....] I think it transcended the idea of 'Oh, we're in trouble on the holodeck.'" (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 144)
- This episode is the first one in which The Doctor leaves his usual confines. Jeri Taylor noted, "It was [...] the first time the doctor got out of sick bay." Kenneth Biller remarked that this episode was one in which "you got to see the doctor really grow and take on challenges you never thought he would have to face." The Doctor's first trip outside of sickbay is one of the ways that this episode's use of a holodeck differs from how holodecks are featured in other episodes. Taylor stated, "It was [...] different in that it was the doctor's first away mission." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 143 & 144)
- This episode is also the first one to demonstrate The Doctor eating. "The holographic Doctor had never eaten anything before, because he was not programmed to eat," Robert Picardo stated. "But it's a holographic lamb. I mean it's on the Holodeck. Other holographic characters eat on the Holodeck. So, that was the first time the Doctor put anything into his mouth, chewed and swallowed." Picardo also expressed that this ground-breaking quality of the banquet scene was a reason he enjoyed it. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #14, p. 18)
- Yet another first is that the relationship which develops between The Doctor and Freya in this episode constitutes The Doctor's first romance. Almost immediately after saying that this installment's romance was rare for Voyager, Robert Picardo, speaking shortly after the making of this episode, related, "I even have my first romantic encounter." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 58) By series end, however, Picardo forgot about The Doctor's romance here, at least once erroneously describing a relationship between the character and Denara Pel in the Season 2 episode "Lifesigns" as "The Doctor's first romance." (VOY Season 2 DVD special features)
- The particular hallucinogenic mushroom that features in this episode, Amanita muscaria, exists in reality.
- The swords used on the holodeck are not exactly appropriate for the Viking time period, being post-Norman swords of the early Middle Ages rather than the type of short stabbing weapons that were prevalent in Norse culture of the sixth to eighth centuries. (Delta Quadrant, p. 40)
- When The Doctor is first transferred into the holodeck, the accompanying sound effect begins with the transporter dematerialization, but then segues into the usual sound used for The Doctor's deactivations.
- Jeri Taylor perceived this episode to have been highly popular. She noted, "People adored this episode." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 143)
- Just after the episode's filming finished, Executive Producer Rick Berman referred to the installment as "a wonderful script" and "a remarkable episode." (Star Trek: Communicator issue #102, p. 11)
- Jeri Taylor said of the episode's premise, "It was one of these uniquely original ideas of putting the doctor on the holodeck in Beowulf. It's what makes Star Trek such a delight to work on, because where else could you do a story like that? It just opens it up to all kinds of really terrific, tantalizing ideas." She also said, "It was one of those irresistible ideas." In particular, Jeri Taylor liked this episode's use of the holodeck, remarking, "I thought it was delightful." She also believed that having The Doctor leave sickbay in this episode was "a lot of fun" and that, because The Doctor's first departure from sickbay was due to him being sent on his first away mission, the episode features "a great way to break him out of sick bay." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 143 & 144)
- Ken Biller said of this episode, "It was very successful and a lot of fun." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 144)
- Despite not appearing in this episode, the installment was among Ethan Phillips' favorites (in common with "Meld" and "Resolutions") from the first two seasons to watch, as he preferred watching episodes in which he was either completely absent or had few scenes. (Star Trek Monthly issue 21, p. 42)
- Michael Piller was very pleased with Naren Shankar's work on this episode. Piller noted, "He did a wonderful job creating the holodeck environment for Beowulf." Piller also said of the episode, "It was [...] just wonderful." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, pp. 143-144)
- Naren Shankar's favorite scene from the story was one of the moments that involve deadpan humor from The Doctor. The writer explained, "My favorite scene [...] was where he picks up a mushroom in the middle of this [forest] and the Doctor knows that it's essentially a hallucinogenic mushroom. Freya says something like, 'Your people must value you very highly,' and as they're walking off, he says, 'You would think so.'" Additionally, Shankar was very impressed by the whole production of this episode. He remarked, "I think all the Viking scenes worked very well [....] I really don't have any complaints about it. Everybody really outdid themselves on it." He was also pleased that his favorite scene of the episode was "staged exactly the way I hoped they would do it." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #4, pp. 67 & 68)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 6.4 million homes, and an 11% share. 
- The episode was nominated for Emmy Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dennis McCarthy) and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Cinematography for a Series (Marvin V. Rush).
- In the special edition magazine Star Trek 30 Years, this episode is highlighted as being one of the magazine makers' five favorite episodes of Star Trek: Voyager's first two seasons.
- Cinefantastique gave this installment 4 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 58)
- In their unofficial reference book Trek Navigator: The Ultimate Guide to the Entire Trek Saga (p. 101), co-writers Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross both individually rate this episode 3 out of 4 stars (defined as "good").
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 41) gives the episode a rating of 8 out of 10.
- In Star Trek Magazine's retrospective "Ultimate Guide", the magazine gave this episode 4 out of 5 Starfleet-style arrowhead insignias. (Star Trek Magazine issue 164, p. 30)
- Despite the success of this episode's story and script, this was ultimately the only Voyager episode that Naren Shankar was involved in.
- Garrett Wang suspected that a unique merchandising opportunity may have been available, if his costume from this episode had been exhibited more in the installment than it actually is. "Someone would then have made it into an action figure, I'm sure," Wang speculated, apparently with certainty. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 44)
- At the end of the third season, Robert Picardo stated – in response to being asked what his favorite Holodeck program would be, if such a device as the Holodeck existed – that he would favor a program such as the Beowulf one from this episode. He explained, "I think it would be something like in the 'Heroes and Demons' episode. In other words, I think the most fun would be to play a heroic character in a timeless dramatic or literary classic like Beowulf." Picardo went on to say that he would probably choose to play Macbeth. (Star Trek Monthly issue 30, p. 16)
- Following the release of the VOY Season 1 DVD in 2004, Robert Picardo enjoyed watching the DVD version of this episode. "It was fun to watch that again and to see that it really stood up," Picardo admitted. "I laughed at it. It's one of the great secret pleasures of being an actor that you can actually watch something you've done that's supposed to be funny and laugh. That's about as good as it gets." (Star Trek Magazine issue 115, pp. 22-24)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 1.6, catalogue number VHR 4006, 25 September 1995.
- As part of the VOY Season 1 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Christopher Canole as a holographic Viking
- Christine Delgado as Lieutenant Susan Nicoletti
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Joyce Lasley as a holographic Viking
- Coleman McClary as a Starfleet engineer
- Tom Morga as a holographic Viking
- Richard Sarstedt as Crewman William McKenzie
- Simon Stotler as an operations division ensign
- Unknown performers as
- Tom Morga as stunt double for Christopher Neame
- John Nowak as stunt double for Robert Picardo
- Patricia Tallman as stunt double for Marjorie Monaghan
Amanita muscaria; annular confinement beam; antibody; atuta; base pair sequencer; bear; Beowulf; Beowulf; biobed; Danes; Denmark; Earth; elk; endoplasmic virus; First Contact; fungi; Gar-Dane; Grendel; heatho-bard; herb; Hippocratic Oath; holo-character; holodeck; holodeck conversion node; imaging control systems; king; long sword; matter conversion node; mead; neural net; Parinisti measles; phase spectrum analysis; photonic lattice; photonic lifeform; photonic matter; poison; power converter; primary imaging matrix; protostar; Rakella Prime; Schweitzer; Scyld; shield-maiden; sorcerer; stomach; sword; synaptic pattern; transporter; Vok'sha; Vulcan literature
| Previous episode:|
"State of Flux"
| Star Trek: Voyager|
| Next episode:|