Disc No :
First Aired :
13 Feb 1995
Chakotay says that the ship has 38 photon torpedoes, and Janeway adds that they have no way to replace them once they are gone. Strangely, during the next seven years the ship will fire far more than this, even excluding those in alternate timelines and suchlike.
Body Count :
At 7 Astronomical units in diameter - just over a billion kilometres - the cloud is the largest living creature ever seen in Trek.
Starting to run low on power, Voyager locates a nebula which is rich in omicron particles. Collecting them might boost the anitmamtter reserves, so the ship heads into the nebula. Things quickly go wrong, the entire structure of the nebula seems designed to thwart their every effort to penetrate, but Janeway perseveres. Finding a barrier surrounding the core of the nebula she rams through it, only to find the ship being drained of energy within. Unable to ram through the barrier again from the inside, Janeway blasts through it with a photon torpedo. The ship is able to escape the cloud, having lost even more of their energy reserves in the attempt. Unfortunately the EMH's analysis of the cloud are troubling; it is nothing less than a living being, and Voyager has done it irreparable harm in ripping into and out of it. Most especially the breach in the core barrier is too large to heal itself. Janeway takes the ship back in and they manage to repair the breach they created before leaving again.
A fairly silly episode, rescued from being horrible by a few nice moments. Neelix and the EMH's scathing response to Janeway's investigation of the nebula are both funny moments, and although she does have a good reason in this case - trying to top off Voyager's antimatter tanks - there is actually a serious point at hand. One of the basic flaws of Voyager's whole premise is that the ship is supposed to be going home, yet Janeway constantly acts like she is on any other exploration mission, stopping off to examine nebulas and anomalies left and right. Every time they do so, it underscores the point that heading home straight and fast isn't actually especially important to these people. Yes, we can argue that one of these things they investigate might prove to actually be the shortcut home they all want... but if that line of logic holds, why is it ditched instantly in episodes like The Swarm? Here Janeway faced a choice of sneaking across Swarm territory or facing a delay of months to go around. But who knows what interesting things they might have discovered during those months, including a shortcut home! It's fine if they want to take the view that exploring is what they are here for, but if so they stop going on about how important it is to head straight home whenever that's convenient for the plot. Or vice versa, maintain that getting home is important and stop investigating every millimetre of the quadrant on the way!
The cloud itself... meh. Okay, big living thing, wonders of the universe and all that. Ten, fifteen minutes of special effects of various weirdness around Voyager, with a bit of a Fantastic Voyage vibe to it. In the end it just comes across as being kind of silly.