***** (5 stars out of 5)
What's better to swoop in and totally redeem a lackluster season than Robert Picardo? TWO Robert Picardos, a Barclay, and Counselor Troi in a pear tree!
Out by Jupiter there's an amateur lecher and brilliant engineer who's not only dying but (it has to be said) may not have ever really lived. Dr. Lewis Zimmerman, holoprogammer and curmudgeon extraordinaire, only hangs out with holograms, such as Leonard the Iguana and Hailey the Temporary Secretary who barely avoided being called HOLLY. (Too On-The-Nose.) Also, Lewis likes Barclay, but then again Reg is the next best thing to a hologram anyway.
Voyager sacrifices a rare communication opportunity with home in order to send the EMH on a house call to save his creator with Borg nanite Jiggery-Pokery. But Zimmerman hides a secret shame that makes him refuse treatment from an EMH, ESPECIALLY the now-antiquated and decommissioned EMH Mark 1. Will he accept when they throw him a "Life Line" or slap it away? What does a son owe a father, and is that all that they are to each other?
I read a complaint about Troi's apparent cabbage-brained behavior in this story, but remember, she's a professional and not the dummy she seems to be. She's actually so polite she PRETENDS she can't tell EMH and Zimmerman apart with her Betazoid empathic senses... and human eyesight.
Despite having died in Star Trek First Contact, Admiral Hayes (or maybe the changeling who replaced him?) sends his warm cheerful greetings to the crew of Voyager... and an ominous throat-cutting gesture to those filthy Maquis they've put in costumes! Could this be a sign of bad news to come for the redeemed, hardworking rebels who've spent years making good? Will Janeway's word be enough to keep the Maquis out of prison when they make it home? YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE. Thanks for the intriguing foreshadowing. It will never be followed up on.