Monday, December 30, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: Fury

http://www.treknobabble.net/p/rating-system.htmlVoyager, Season 6
"Fury"
Airdate: May 3, 2000
139 of 168 produced
141 of 168 aired

Introduction

An aged Kes makes a surprise reappearance on Voyager, with what seems like malign, destructive intent.


This will teach them to replace me with a big set of boobs!











Writing

Kevin: Well...where to begin? I think this episode suffers from two major related problems. The first is bringing a character back for the sake of bringing a character back. It's not that fan service or checking in on a previous character is bad per se, but it can't be the only reason. That said, plenty of revisits have been fun and were satisfying even if they were nakedly just providing a vehicle for a guest star. That leads to the second problem. Having gotten Kes back on board, there is just no story here. A cold open that asks a lot of fun questions just never gets around to answering them in a satisfying way.

Matthew: The teaser was certainly arresting - too arresting, perhaps, because it was not paid off. "A lot of questions, Number One. Damn few answers."

Kevin: The precise mechanics of Kes' goals and the plan to achieve them are just never articulated in a way that makes any sense. Kes is angry because Janeway "let her go" when she "wasn't ready"  and "filled her head with ideas." What does that even mean in this context? We remember the episodes leading to her departure and Janeway couldn't have stopped her if she tried, and Kes was naturally inquisitive before they met. Now, perfect recall is not required of the characters and Kes twisting the story to suit her own version is fine, but it does mean the writers have to work to connect the dots to make that twisting work as part of the story. And she hints at her experience, but doesn't describe it in any useful way. I know we've criticized episodes for trying to give concrete portrayals to ineffable experiences, but here they go too far in the other direction, doing all of the episode's heavy lifting by implication. It's not that I think there isn't a way for Kes to come to regret her time on Voyager, but the connective tissue and endpoint just don't hang here.

Matthew: Her motivation was cloudy. Like, OK, she's mad. But why? What experience did she have after leaving the ship that she wasn't "ready for?" When last we saw her, she was turning into something else entirely, kind of like TNG's "Transfigurations" or "Journey's End." Was eh lonely? Did some other non-corporeal being take advantage of her? Did it turn out to be a dead end and she just ended up being an old Ocampan? I think this episode, as the last appearance of Kes, should have ended with her death. Maybe she was pissed because her powers took a year or two from her lifespan. But then she could achieve some resolution and say goodbye to her friends. As it was, she just kind of left and was kind of a jerk to Neelix.


Kevin: A lot of time travel plot was pretty thin right from the start. The teaser had some oomph I grant you, but killing B'Elanna was a bit too far, too early. It hung a lantern on the forthcoming use of the reset button. I think old Kes was too sullen, to the point she should have caught the crew's attention. Any why go back to sell out the crew to the Vidiians? It seems like there are easier ways to take out Voyager with fewer moving parts. Why can Tuvok see the fragmented parts of the timeline? It just feels like a lot of hand waving. And the little video to convince herself not to destroy the ship was just the height of deus ex machina, and the idea that Janeway knew what Kes was going to become for two years is one of those little retconning things that annoys me.

Matthew: I don't really understand why, if she could go back to the time of the Vidiians because of the warp core, she couldn't also just go back to the time of "Caretaker." In principle, I like the idea of leaving oneself a video, because it seems like the obvious sort of thing to do if you find yourself in your own past, but that stories rarely every broach. As it was, though, I agree that this was under-baked.

Acting

Kevin: Jennifer Lien can act. She was good when the script was good in her time on the show, and while she is certainly not my favorite character, she never annoyed me. I feel like she was trying here, but there was nothing to hang on to. She described being scared of what she saw after leaving the ship, but there nothing to really inform a performance, and it showed in the episode. Beyond that, the episode largely focused on Janeway and Tuvok and they turn in solid performances.

Matthew: I thought Lien was pretty good. I bought her anger. The script did not give her enough, though. The big reveal of her motivation was too light on details, and so her performance, while certainly good enough to hang an episode on, was still inadequate to provide credible motivation. I really liked Kate Mulgrew's canny resolve in both time lines. Tim Russ was excellent.



Production Values

Kevin: In terms of sets, this is largely a bottle show, so the only thing I am going to point out is the cut and color of Janeway's bun is wrong. It's not as bad as the wig in Relativity, but it just nags me. The space scenes were solid, but unremarkable.

Matthew: The corridor explosions were well done. Now, de-aging is a fraught thing in Star Trek, since it runs so long. A seven season run is a bit too long to reasonably expect people to look similar. Kate Mulgrew does better than most, but then there is her awful season one hair to contend with. Saying this is the best de-aging the franchise has done is faint praise, to say the least.

Kevin: Kes' age make up largely worked in its restraint. A few wrinkles around the mouth and dark circles around the eyes, and the standard 'old lady haircut' really helped sell the aging better than a ton of prosthetics would.

Matthew: I agree on the age makeup. She looked quite good, and it made me wish they'd have done it in the course of the show instead of aborting the character before her death. For me, the problem was the "young" makeup. Jennifer Lien is a perfectly attractive woman here, don't get me wrong - but that hairdo only really works on a pixie waif, and she's not a pixie waif any more. So I just sort of felt bad for her having been asked to portray the role after the passage of a few years and everything that comes with that.

Conclusion

Kevin: I think there is a kernel of a good idea here. Kes regretting leaving or even regretting her time on Voyager would be a poignant story. Relationships, even important ones, can wane and change with time and distance. I think an episode that focused on a more nuanced and less explosive version of an unhappy reunion with Kes could have been really interesting, and been a better vehicle for the actors involved. I don't think this quite falls to a 1, but it is squarely in 2 territory.

Matthew: Yeah. I want to like this more than I do. A good time travel story is always welcome. This one... is on the poor side of mediocre. It neither paid off character stories, nor did it bend the brain the way the best time travel episodes do. So I agree with the 2 for a total of 4.

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