Voyager tracks down the Caretaker’s mate Suspiria, but she’s not in the mood to help them get home. Meanwhile, Kes experiments with her growing psychic powers.
A lot of this episode is about building a bridge between the early parts of season one and planned developments across the rest of season two and season three. On the one hand, a dangling plot thread from the pilot is resolved as we find the Caretaker’s mate Suspiria, the only other member of her species the crew are aware of. On the other hand, the appearance of a group of Ocampa living on a space station under the care of Suspiria expands upon the possibilities for Kes’s future, both the psychic powers we’ve already seen hints of in episodes like ‘Time and Again,’ and the possibility of her living beyond the age of nine, which might become important if the show ran for long enough.
This episode also reveals the very interesting information that Voyager has gained quite the reputation in the Delta Quadrant – and not a good one. It’s known as a ‘ship of death,’ believed to have killed the caretaker, declared war on the Kazon and raided numerous planets for supplies. I really like this development. Considering the number of people the crew have annoyed, intentionally or not, plus their on-going problems with the Kazon, it makes, sense, and it emphasises Voyager’s complete isolation. In other Star Trek series, there are plenty of people who don’t like Starfleet, but equally many who do, and reports are fairly balanced. Here, Voyager can’t personally address every rumour and bit of gossip about themselves and are powerless against their ever-worsening reputation, leaving them in a seriously weakened position diplomatically-speaking.
Like ‘Persistence of Vision,’ there’s a horror movie sensibility about the episode that works rather well. The villain is named after a horror movie, for a start, and appears in the always creepy form of a little blonde girl. The scene in which Janeway confronts Suspiria in the engine room is shot very much like a horror movie, complete with B’Elanna’s blood dripping down onto Janeway’s shoulder from above. The scene in which Kes accidentally boils Tuvok’s blood is seriously creepy and her screaming just makes it creepier, and then, of course, there’s the fire in the hydroponics bay, which is fairly terrifying in its implications.
This is our first good look at Scary Kes, a side of the character that’s great fun to watch. Like Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory, there’s a special terror to a really powerful and ruthless tiny blonde woman played by a talented actress. Jennifer Lien is somehow able very effectively to pull off blending Kes’s normal super-sweet, caring personality with a sense that there’s a dark current bubbling just underneath. For much of this episode, Kes is paired with Tuvok, who explains that Vulcans are basically incredibly savage when left to their own devices, which is why they place such emphasis on control. This fits in with what we know of Vulcans, especially Mirror Spock’s implication way back in the original series’ ‘Mirror, Mirror’ that Vulcans are especially nasty, and Tuvok’s own carefully controlled dark side is something the show would come to exploit later on.
Kes and Tuvok are a great pairing in other ways too. The actors have really nice father/daughter-esque chemistry and the pairing of the strict Vulcan with the emotional but not annoying, impossible-to-dislike Kes works very well. Tuvok may sound terribly patronizing to Kes a lot of the time, but he’s like a strict school teacher – he may be tactless, but he does know what he’s doing and he does care. Tuvok is one of my favourites and this is a good episode for him as well as for Kes.
There are some flaws in the script here. Nothing much happens for an awfully long time, and the ending is very weak. Suspiria is impressed by the crew showing mercy and just flies off with her minion, and that’s the end of it. It’s a nice showcase for Kes and Tuvok though, and like ‘Persistence of Vision,’ features some strong and enduring imagery.
Bits ‘n’ pieces
- This episode takes place 10 months after the pilot, rather than a year and a half (which still makes Ensign Wildman’s pregnancy considerably longer than the average human – one can only assume her husband’s species keep foetuses in stasis for a while).
- Both Kes and Tuvok appear to be fully telepathic, without needing to touch someone to read their mind, though Kes needs practice and Tuvok is stronger with a mind meld.
- I love how baffled and slightly disapproving Tuvok sounds when he talks about Kes’s emotional attachment to Neelix.
- Janeway wants to be kept ‘apprised,’ rather than her usual ‘informed,’ this week.
- Kes is asked to stay at the station, one of several instances of someone having to decide whether to continue journeying with Voyager or settle down.
- There are some seriously scientifically inaccurate atoms whizzing around in Kes’s tea here.
- Janeway flirting watch: She has a lot of little glances and shared smiles with Chakotay. Which is just normal, to be fair.
It’s a Tuvok love-fest today.
Tuvok: A non-emotional response would be more useful.
Tuvok: I would regret not continuing as your instructor. From a Vulcan, that’s practically a declaration of undying love.
Tuvok: Without the darkness, how would we recognise the light?
Some great set-pieces, but it doesn’t quite hold together. Three out of four angry Vulcans.
Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.
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