Voyager, Season 2
Airdate: September 18, 1995
17 of 168 produced
19 of 168 aired
Kes begins to prematurely experience the elogium, the only time when an Ocampa can have a child. She and Neelix are now faced with a very difficult, and possibly life altering decision.
So the Ocampa have self-lubricating hands. Huh. There you go.
Kevin: The A-story is certainly interesting. I liked a lot about it. I liked that we got a lot of information on both the biology and sociology of Ocampa parenting. I liked that both Kes and Neelix went through a gamut of emotions and opinions, as I believe real people would. I do find it odd that they stress this is ostensibly her one shot at this, but never mention even the possibility of twins or triplets. How could a population not disappear in a handful of generations if you were biologically prevented from having more than one child? I also liked the broader discussion of fraternization on the ship. They again bring up the idea that Starfleet is just silent on these issues, and while I don't necessarily find it credible, at least it's consistent with previous shows. I also remember really liking the idea of Ensign Wildman having a baby. It was a touching scene in the captain's ready room and I like the implications for the storytelling on the show. Also in the plus column was a lovely conversation with Tuvok. He's never really been a favorite character of mine, and I've certainly never disliked him, but I will say I have come to more heartily agree with Matt about his portrayal of a Vulcan. His simultaneously objective yet touching assessment of fatherhood was really good.
Matthew: The Tuvok conversation is what blunted the otherwise rather negative portrayal of Neelix. It shows that he can be thoughtful when he is not in the throes of an emotional reaction to a situation. That doesn't excuse the reaction, but it at least puts it in context, and makes him more three dimensional than just being a creepy weirdo. I agree very much on Tuvok - it was written well, and fit with the more nuanced Vulcan portrayal we've been given - not devoid of emotions but more stoically in control of them. All that said, I was a bit less enamored of the pregnancy plot generally. I thought that a lot of it - bug eating, the slimy hands, the back pustule (or whatever it was), the foot massage to induce swollen tongue (?) - was just distracting in an attempt to seem "alien," and detracted from the emotional core of the story. I think they could have gone a lot deeper into a sort of "teen pregnancy" allegorical mode with the storytelling.
Kevin: The B plot does not excite me. It's almost an early-DS9 level of useless B-plot. It was the MacGuffin-like trigger for Kes' premature elogium and that's it. The rest is a lukewarm rehash of earlier TNG episodes like The Loss, and an earlier Voyager episode, The Cloud. It's not a good sign when you are bringing back story elements within a year. The ultimate solution was cutesy enough, but overall not really interesting to me. And speaking of extraneous plot threads that I hated, Neelix's jealousy is just getting annoying. Especially since the episode leans on the idea of Kes' elogium as puberty, and a premature one at that, it makes their whole relationship creepy, and honestly, if they wanted to go that route, that this was gratitude run amok in an unhealthy way, that could have been interesting, but they normally tried to play it for laughs, and it all just upsets me.
Matthew: I agree on rehashes, and the fact that if they were going to stick this plot into the episode, they should have developed it further. There was no real drama. No dilemma regarding violence to the creatures, nothing. Yeah, putting a fine point on how old Kes really is just served to make Neelix seem creepier. It's difficult to see how maturity could occur at all outside of her species' rigidly defined social milieu, but it is even more difficult to see how Neelix could form such an intense and creepy attraction so quickly, especially to someone about whom such questions need to be asked. On the plus side, it's nice that Kes is shown as chafing against his attitude, which presumably led to their breakup. I think it is a net positive that a dysfunctional relationship can be portrayed, and in relatively intimate detail. Certainly many a real person has plunged headlong into parenthood with an unsuitable partner, either oblivious to or even naively hopeful that it would fix long-standing relationship difficulties. It's an interesting story angle to see in the Trek world.
Kevin: One complaint I have about this episode was I remember the teaser commercial setting up a "Who's the father?" drama and not only is that stupid on its face if it were true, it's not true. There were a few other offenders over the course of the series but that one really stood out to me. It's one thing to lean on the green girls in bikinis in the promotional material, but they just made shit up. It shows both a lack of respect and understanding for the show they are anchoring their network with.
Kevin: Lien really had a lot of very different things to do this episode, and I think she nails them all. The manic eating, etc. were good, but I really have to praise her discussing the cultural aspects of her possible childbirth. There was a way she pitched the line about how one of the parts of the ritual should have been done by her father that really broke my heart a little. She also really nailed some pretty understandable confusion and indecisiveness. Overall, this is almost certainly her best episode to date.
Matthew: Whatever I thought the story problems were, I'm right with you on Jennifer Lien. She really went for it in this performance, and I think it was really effective - especially her acting with heavy sweat makeup and in a state of "distress" for her character. I totally believed her and it never once struck me as fake. It's a good indication of how underutilized she would be for the next two seasons.
Kevin: Ethan Philips is a good actor and he will work whatever you words you put on the page as best he can, so it does start to grate that they give him such crap ones to start. I liked the conversation with Tuvok, and his eventual warming to the idea of fatherhood was well played. Beyond that, I will single out Mulgrew for praise. She really nailed the weight of a decision about the crew pairing off, and I loved her scene with Wildman at the end.
Matthew: Ethan Phillips doesn't write the scripts. They told him to be a douchey jealous guy. He totally delivered on that. But he also delivered on the quiet scenes. Tim Russ stood out for me, with a nuanced portrayal of a Vulcan that both stayed true to the ethos of that culture as well as delivered on emotional impact for a human audience.
Kevin: We are still in the fairly early days of CGI, and overall, this episode was okay, but not great. I found a lot of the visuals a little muddy. I will say I did like the shot of the worms actually attaching to the hull. I found the color change element to be a bit extreme. It looked fake, even by CGI standards.
Matthew: I was definitely not enamored of the space slugs. In addition to being a boring story element, they were a boring visual effect. I agree that the CGI looked rudimentary and amateurish. t least the ship looked okay.
Kevin: Beyond that, this is a bottle show, but I did really like a lot of the small prop work. The beetles gag was well done, and I liked all the plates and bowls and the cubbies to hide them. The joke only works if there's enough props to sell it, and they did.
Matthew: I thought the sweat makeup on Kes looked interesting and really added to the tone of the scenes. On the other hand, I thought the yellow hand slime looked stupid, as did the toenail-less feet. The colors on the bugs looked pretty good.
Kevin: This is a solid 3. The wringer Kes gets put through is interesting and well portrayed and we get some interesting insight into the Ocampa. I think had they jettisoned the B-plot and focused on, maybe changing, the nature of Kes and Neelix's relationship, there would be enough here for a higher score.
Matthew: This is a 2 for me. It's really close to a 3. But the B plot distracts me, and the tone of some of the pregnancy story just put me off and focused on less interesting questions. Our total is therefore a 5.