I had a couple general observations here. For one, despite being a mere ensign, Harry Kim has a lot of responsibility. I’d say that was in part because of all the crew deaths that happened on the way to the Delta Quadrant, but there seems to be other officers that outrank him on the crew. That I noticed because a balding man was appearing in a lot of shots despite the fact I don’t think I caught the character’s name as trusted member of the crew, and I suspect his rank was a bit more than “ensign.” And finally, this is basically a Chakotay episode, but Robert Beltran spends most of the episode lying on his back and saying nothing because Chakotay is supposedly unconscious.
The premise: Tuvok and Chakotay are returning from a trade mission when their shuttlecraft is, allegedly, attacked by an alien ship hiding in a nebula. Tuvok got away with a mild concussion, but Chakotay’s mental energies have been drained, leaving him effectively brain dead. There’s nothing the Doctor can do, but there might be a clue if Voyager returns to the nebula and finds out what sort of alien weapon was used on the shuttlecraft. However, strange things keep happening around the ship, all apparently performed by different members of the crew though said crewmembers have no memory of doing so.
So, what is going on? I know I said this is a Chakotay episode, and it ultimately is because he’s responsible for a lot of the weird things happening around the ship. Essentially, his mental energies actually dislodged his intelligence, allowing him to float disembodied throughout the ship, and all the memory loses were caused by Chakotay temporarily possessing a different member of the crew, all to prevent the real villain of the episode…the alien intelligence that was possessing Tuvok.
Tuvok is actually, from a narrative perspective, a good choice for the unknowing enemy. Without Chakotay, he is essentially the second-in-command. As a Vulcan, he’s probably deemed more trustworthy than most. As Janeway’s closest friend and confidante, he’s given to more meetings with the Captain than anyone else. Factor in as well that as a Vulcan, he does have superior strength to the rest of the crew, save maybe Torres as a half-Klingon, and he’s easily the most dangerous member of the command crew. That means when Kes starts getting a vague impression of an intelligence on the ship, Tuvok can offer to help her with a Vulcan mindmeld before knocking her out with a rough nerve pinch when no one was looking.
It means when Paris realizes the Doctor is, as an artificial being, effectively immune from what everyone assumes is a hostile alien intelligence, it was Tuvok who sabotaged the hologram’s systems and removed him from the board after Janeway entrusted the Doctor with the ship’s command codes in case of an emergency.
So, how can Chakotay, without his body or even his voice, stop Tuvok’s passenger? The early steps are basic: use Paris to change course or use Torres to shut off the warp drive. But the thing is, Torres does something in SickBay involving a Healing Wheel for his tribe…wait, has this show ever said what tribe Chakotay belongs to? Never mind, she explains it to the Doctor, and in a nice moment where the Doctor’s facial expressions suggests extreme skepticism over Torres’s actions and explanations, it turns out he knows the Healing Wheel better than she does because it is considered a legit therapy by many people, and he’s programmed with all kinds of things like that.
How Tuvok is beaten is, if anything, a bit of a anticlimax as Janeway literally pops down under a console and pushes a button while Tuvok, with a phaser set on wide disbursement to kill, essentially watches. Chakotay has already jettisoned the warp core and, using Neelix, shows a map out of the nebula before disembodied aliens show up to feast on the crew’s mental energies. I am bit confused why they didn’t do that for Tuvok beyond the obvious reason, but maybe as a Vulcan he had more resistance to their feeding than most folks.
And then Chakotay wakes up and explains how he saw things. Everyone is fine, and though the episode felt like a team effort since every member of the main cast had something to do, it was mostly Chakotay saving everyone by sabotaging the possessed Tuvok’s mission. And he did it all while taking a nap.
Maybe alien intelligences shouldn’t mess with that guy.