The ship opens up with Paris romantically beaming himself in to give flowers to B’Elanna in the Jefferies tubes. He ditched her the night before and is trying to butter her up. They seem to be getting pretty hot and heavy, with some serious alone time needs.
The doctor is giving Janeway a pretty rough massage for the migraines she’s been having. Stress seems to be taking its toll, and she hasn’t been sleeping. Chakotay calls her to the bridge to see binary pulsars, and she almost walks out of the room in just her towel.
Paris shows up in engineering to ‘drop off some reports,’ and B’Elanna takes him up to the upper level and jumps him! Tuvok walks in, catching them in the act. Paris tries to find out whether or not he’s going to turn them in, but Tuvok either doesn’t care to turn them in, or simply doesn’t care. Paris and B’Elanna talk over whether they should make their relationship public or not, but before they can make a choice, a very-stressed-out Janeway calls them out on it. She doesn’t reprimand them, but reams them pretty good.
Chakotay goes back to his quarters, and we see him being viewed from a 3rd person perspective, with a full scan of his body. He suddenly feels pain, and then he doubles over. He reaches the mirror and all of his hair starts falling out. Once in sickbay, the doctor announces that he’s aged 50 years instantly, and that there’s no plausible explanation for it. Then, Nelix falls over in pain in the mess hall, seemingly having a sub-species level of his DNA become the dominant and active genetic material. As the two of them sit in sick bay, they banter back and forth about which one of them has the worst of it! SO funny!
The doctor and B’Elanna set up a science station, and find barcodes on the base pair sequences of their genetic code. This is a superior technology to anything they’ve seen, and have no idea how it’s occurred. As they make this realization, the doctor’s program flickers. Someone is trying to delete him. B’Elanna tries to transfer him back to sickbay, but suddenly collapses. The doctor finished the transfer and disappears.
Paris and the others find B’Elanna, but the science lab research was erased. The doctor is MIA and B’Elanna only barely survived. Seven suddenly hears the doctor, who has routed communications through her auditory processor. He tells her he’s hiding in DaVinci’s program, so he doesn’t get deleted. Seven comes to him, and he adjusts her processors to see at a phased variance. She walks the ship, and sees aliens roaming the corridors, poking and prodding the Voyager crew. They’re experimenting on everyone, including herself. She tries to tell Janeway, but Janeway has two aliens by her when she approaches, and a dozen needles sticking out of her head. Seven tries to do a ship wide sweep, but Tuvok catches her. As he tries to stop her, she shoots one of the aliens and makes her visible to the rest of the crew.
Janeway locks up the alien, but the alien tells her only that she’s trying to research for her own kind’s survival, and she won’t stop the experiments. She’s been raising Janeway’s dopamine levels to see how she’ll deal with stress, giving her the headaches and sleepless nights. She only assures Janeway that there will be minimal mortality.
One of the ensigns has a severe blood pressure. 360/80 (damn.) The ensign dies (Poor yellow shirt… you’re the red shirt of the next generation.) and Janeway snaps. She takes the helm control and flies it directly through the binary pulsars. Tuvok comments that this is worse than her normal reckless behavior with less than 1:20 odds of survival; the alien tries to talk her out of it, and realizes that she’s not bluffing. She flees, and two ships release from the hull. Only one of them made it out. Voyager flies to safety, and Janeway tells Tuvok “You’ve never told me I was reckless before.” Tuvok responds, “It was clearly an understatement!”
The episode finishes with B’Elanna and Tom discussing whether they were actually interested, or if it was just the aliens messing with their hormones. They agree that they probably had been manipulated, and then start making out.
Favorite part: Nelix and Chakotay one-upping each other in sick bay.
Least favorite part: Harry Kim interrupting Tom and B’Elanna while they’re trying to get their groove on. (DAMN YOU, HARRY!)