Hail, We Spear-Danes
"Heroes and Demons" Plot Summary:
When Janeway and Torres beam a sample of photonic energy aboard, Harry Kim disappears from the holodeck, where he was running a program based on "Beowulf". When Chakotay and Tuvok go in after him, they vanish as well. Janeway sends the holographic Doctor to determine what has happened to her crewmembers.
The Doctor, who names himself Schweitzer, claims to be an expert in herb lore and proves impervious to wounds, so is hailed as a hero by the warriors in the great hall. He is also romanced by Freya, the shield-maiden daughter of King Hrothgar. When Grendel attacks, the photonic energy destabilizes the Doctor's arm, and the crew recalls him to repair him.
The Doctor returns to the holodeck with the photonic energy samples, which Janeway now suspects are intelligent and that "Grendel" is abducting her crewmembers in retaliation. Freya is glad to see him, but a warrior who believes the Doctor to be in league with the beast kills her. The Doctor goes back to the Great Hall and frees the energy beings, and Grendel in turn frees Chakotay, Tuvok, and Kim. The Doctor tells the captain that he has decided not to keep the name Schweitzer, as it reminds him of the sorrow of Freya's death. The captain assures him that he will have more adventures.
This was a silly episode, but a terrific outing (in all senses of the word) for the Doctor, who has been confined thus for to Sickbay. The science was stupid - any energy surge that disrupted his matrix should have destabilized all of the Doctor, not just his arm! Still, he had nice chemistry with Freya and I enjoyed getting to see him act as a hero, not just a healer.
I have a feeling that the Doctor's name is going to become a series-long gag; he'll keep picking and discarding them. Which is fine, but I don't want to see the character reduced to a running joke. The fact that he can be stabbed but not bleed and all that has a lot of potential for sight gags, but it interferes with the ability to take him seriously when we're supposed to accept that he cares about someone for a reason deeper than his programming to show compassion for patients. The writing has to be handled delicately.
The business with the photonic energy reminded me a little too much of the Lights of Zetar, but I guess they needed some semi-scientific justification for what was essentially a fantasy story. I was curious that both Chakotay and Tuvok were so familiar with the Western epic, and even more curious that Chakotay felt comfortable picking on Tuvok's cultural traditions, but I like the occasional sparring between these two; it makes them more interesting when they could become too much alike.