Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Elogium"

*1/2

Air date: 9/18/1995
Teleplay by Kenneth Biller and Jeri Taylor
Story by Jimmy Diggs & Steve J. Kay
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Who would've thought we'd be considering a generational ship when we were ordered on a three week mission?" — Janeway on the issue of intra-ship procreation

Nutshell: Quite bad. Lots of cliches involving one plot, and completely brain-dead in the other.

The Voyager finds a swarm of large space-dwelling protozoa-type lifeforms whose bizarre properties induce the beginning of Kes' "elogium"—the Ocampa's one-time period of fertility and chance for pregnancy. Light at best, another exercise in mediocrity features a less-than-urgent A-story and a totally predictable, brain-dead B-story. If "Projections" was a climb to the top, "Elogium" is a topple down the stairs.

"Elogium" works its best when it deals with the issue of procreation, which on board the Voyager may be ultimately necessary to finish the journey home. The story peaks in a scene where Janeway and Chakotay discuss the difficulties and possible necessity of raising another generation on the ship. But just like "The 37's," this is an issue that we should have seen in the first season. Now, more than ever, UPN's decision to hold Voyager's last four first-season episodes in order to jump-start the second season seems like a big mistake.

Aside from this one scene of relevancy, there's nothing really compelling about "Elogium." Most of the episode deals with Kes and Neelix's dilemma of whether or not to proceed with having a child. Some of this makes sense, but there are some real problems with how the episode pursues the issue. You see, the elogium only happens once in an Ocampa's lifetime, so if Kes does not conceive within 50 hours, she will never have a chance to have a child again.

For starters, this is totally illogical. If only Ocampa women can have children, and if they can only have one child in their lifetime, and we assume that approximately half the Ocampa population is women and half is men, what does this mean to their procreation process? It means their population would decrease by half with every generation, assuming that every female Ocampa had a child in their lifetime. Does this strike only me as a writer's blunder?

Secondly, this whole idea of Kes having to make the decision right now just forces the pressure onto Neelix, who must decide whether or not he's ready to be a father. This makes for some shamefully manipulative drama, which I don't really care for. Neelix's reaction of "I'm not sure I'm ready for this" is a bit of a cliche. Saving some grace is a scene between Tuvok and Neelix about parenting, which manages to offer further depth into Tuvok's character (but, surprisingly, does very little for Neelix's character). Also on the positive side are some weirdly humorous mating rituals Kes must undergo in her conception process, though the joke begins to tire as the episode goes on.

Meanwhile, we're given a witless and hokey B-story where the "protozoa" become sexually attracted to the Voyager because they think it's their mate. This is another obvious Misunderstood Lifeform Plot, but also proves to be an Idiot Plot which takes the Voyager crew way too long to figure out. I knew the answer almost immediately, but it takes until another big, jealous "protozoa" (who wants the mates Voyager is attracting) begins beating the hell out of the ship before Chakotay and Janeway can put two and two together.

And after the Voyager repels the lifeforms and their bizarre properties stop affecting the ship, Kes' prematurely-induced elogium goes away. Conveniently, this elogium doesn't count for some reason the Doctor explains, meaning that someday when Kes and Neelix are ready, they may still have a child together. This cheat ending basically voids everything the episode does. It's a complete cop-out with no real consequences. Since neither Kes nor Neelix has to face up to their decision, the episode is just another example of the Reset Button Plot—meaning the episode has so little effect that it's as if someone pressed the reset button at the end of the show. That's weak drama. Not good at all.

That's about all for "Elogium." It has a few isolated good moments and some decent work by the actors. Other than that, it's just a pointless exercise that doesn't do a very good job of saying what's on its mind.

Previous episode: Projections
Next episode: Non Sequitur

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22 comments on this review

Anthony2816 - Tue, Jun 10, 2008 - 11:32pm (USA Central)
Maybe Ocampa women normally have twins, triplets, or more?
Mike - Tue, Sep 16, 2008 - 4:23pm (USA Central)
While this isn't a particularly good episode, I really disagree with you about the 1st vs. 2nd season thing. The 37's HAS to be a 2nd (or later) season story - there is no way anyone would consider leaving Voyager after only a few weeks. It's only after the reality really starts to set in where this would be an issue - the grind of living on a little ship for so long would eventually make people question their choices. Same thing with this episode. People would likely think about partnering up right away, but they wouldn't start thinking about children until much later.

And yes, it's a reset button. But why is it more of a reset button than Projections, to which you gave 4 stars? What changes permanently about anyone in 'the best episode yet' when a) only the Dr. is experiencing the story, and b) it's not real anyway?
Nic - Thu, Oct 15, 2009 - 9:21am (USA Central)
I think had it aired in the first season (as is very well should have) you would have given it an extra half-star. These four episodes are so much more relevant when viewed as the last four episodes of the first season. Especially "The 37s" which was the best way to end the first season.
Phil - Sun, Jul 25, 2010 - 8:55pm (USA Central)
Besides that - we're to believe that Samantha Wildman didn't know she was pregnant until being in the Delta Quadrant for months? Of course this should be in the first season.
Broton - Mon, Dec 6, 2010 - 3:51pm (USA Central)
Ugh! Nuts to Voyager, nuts to Kes and her stupid "'erbs", nuts to the cliches, nuts to this entire stinking mass of putrifaction they call a show! I swear, if I hear one more person say the word "'erbs", I will go ballistic!
Ken - Fri, Feb 4, 2011 - 4:16pm (USA Central)
This episode is really bad.

I like Kes, sort of, but in this episode the acting is just awful.

The rituals are really bad too. A foot massage to do something with the tongue? Really? And it has to be a parental figure? Just how crazy is this?

The whole plot is just awful - both stories. Why do they produce episodes like this?
Travis - Wed, Feb 16, 2011 - 11:37am (USA Central)
Quick math: in order to sustain the species when there's only one shot at reproducing, either both sexes would have to be able to carry children or the women would have to have a minimum of triplets every single time. They'd need twins every single time just to keep the population stable. Let's hope they never have a war or plague. Also, if she's only got a 2 day window to conceive, do Ocampans drop what they're doing and jump in the nearest bed whenever their palms get sweaty? And rubbing feet to make the tongue swell and being bonded by goo for several days? If there is a God he must really hate the Ocampans.
Carbetarian - Mon, Apr 11, 2011 - 5:11pm (USA Central)
@Mike I completely agree about the timing. No one would think about leaving Voyager mere weeks into being stuck in te Delta Quadrant. I think it would take at least four or five months for reality to sink in, and probably closer to a year before anyone would think about just staying in the Delta Quadrant.

Anyway, this episode sucked. Everything about it is ridiculous. In fact, I can't think of anything positive to say about it. I've never wanted to punch Neelix in the face more than this episode. Also, someone should really talk to Chakotay about removing that stick from his arse. He might as well have renamed himself "commander cockblock" in this one. It's hard to believe he could ever be a Maquis "rebel".

I'll give it a half star, strictly because *sadly* I know the show can and will do worse later in the season.
Matthias - Sun, Aug 14, 2011 - 7:57am (USA Central)
This episode also completely ignores the possibility that Neelix' and Kes' freaky Ocampalaxian baby will inherit at least part of the Ocampa's brief shelf-life and that it's likely Neelix will live to bury not only the woman he loves but his own child as well. Wonderful.

At least he can now describe in great detail to Lt.Paris the Ocampa mating ritual and allay his jealousy a bit. I'm fairly sure Tom wants none of that action.


David - Thu, Oct 27, 2011 - 12:54am (USA Central)
I can't say much in this episode's defense, particularly as it features Neelix at his most annoying. However, I was struck by the lengths to which Janeway went, including the endangerment of her ship and crew, to preserve an alien species that could have killed them. It's a noble message that recurs frequently in Trek episodes, and it reminds me why even the sub-par outings have some merit.
chris - Fri, Feb 24, 2012 - 4:36pm (USA Central)
Janeway didn't want to harm the creature, putting in danger the ship and its crew...wth??? I guess Torres and Tuvok were the only logical people at the bridge at this time.

Kes' feet were cute (lucky Doctor giving them a massage) but this ritual was lame. Well, everything in this episode was lame, except maybe the final act between Janeway and Ensign Wildman.

Sometimes Voyager sucks big time, but still it's my favourite SCI-FI series.
Milica - Wed, Jul 25, 2012 - 11:00am (USA Central)
I totally disagree with Jammer's remarks regarding the timing and agree with Mike and Carbetarian. This is the perfect time to consider such topics - it would have been totally out of place for the crew to consider having children on board just after they flew into the Delta quadrant. It's not something you start thinking about from one day to the next.
Kes and Neelix are as gross as ever, at least Neelix is. Kes is so graceful and composed (except for this episode), whereas he looks and behaves in a very annoying way. What are we to think about their relationship - she is in human terms underaged, is still growing - are they supposed to have consumed their relationship before this at all? Neelix is a pedophile then.
So many mating subplots - too much of this for one episode. I was so relieved when they didn't have a child after all.
And, yes, Jammer did rightly notice the impossibility of the mating with the Ocampa. Kes keeps refering to "a child" all the time, and if the Ocampa are supposed to have triplets it would have been mentioned, as this is one of significant cons to having children on board a starship.
Nic - Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - 12:22pm (USA Central)
These episodes were intended (by the writers, I mean) to air at the END of the first season. At which point the crew would have been in the Delta Quadrant for 6-8 months, more than enough time to have the reality sink in and start thinking about issues like procreation.

Perhaps the Ocampa always have triplets. But repeatedly during the episode Kes talks about "having A child" (she even argues with Neelix about the gender of that child), it never seems to occur to her that she might have more than one.
Arachnea - Tue, Dec 18, 2012 - 2:09am (USA Central)
Up until now, I didn't have the "hate" of Neelix that many commenters seemed to have. He was annoying at times, but he also had good and useful moments.

But I wonder if the writers wanted the viewers to dislike Neelix. His character is so over the top on so many levels, the writers gave him every wrong cliché there is: his outbursts of jealousy, his condescension or patronizing towards Kes, his belief that he's the most useful and underused on the ship or that the captain must be at his service each time he's got a complaint (he should have been included in Tuvok's boot camp :p), his less than subtle kind of racism with his "Mr. Vulcan", etc etc. Well... What I mean is I really don't understand where the writers were going with his character.

As for Kes, I really like her but I think it would have been wiser to make her a close friend of Neelix rather than her lover: this couple is creepy because of Kes's age, apparently still considered a child (as said in this episode, females enter adulthood when it's time to conceive). Plus, there are a lot of inconsistencies about her race. In addition to the babies problem, she's not even two but has the wisdom of an experienced 30 years old human. It's just too unbelievable.
Lt. Yarko - Tue, Jun 11, 2013 - 1:03am (USA Central)
This is one of the episodes that made me really annoyed with the whole Neelix/Kes thing and wished they had just stayed back in their own little universes. Kes may be "underaged," but Nelix acts like a spoiled teenager anyway. Not a great episode.
Caine - Fri, Oct 11, 2013 - 4:47pm (USA Central)
I wasn't really impressed in any way by this episode, but regarding the fecundity of the Ocampas:

Maybe 75-80 % of the children born by an Ocampan female are female offspring?

What I'm saying is that it IS possible to keep a sustainable population even if the females only bear children once.

It's an unstable aquation, sure - but it's possible. We don't know how olsd the species is, how high the infant mortality rate is and so forth ... but we can't rule out the possibility that it COULD actually be a viable species given the information we have.

Just saying.
Caine - Fri, Oct 18, 2013 - 9:14am (USA Central)
Please just forget what I wrote in the previous post - of course 75-80 % of the offspring being female wouldn't make the species viable for log-term survival (my brain wasn't working properly when I wrote that).

It WOULD be possible if Ocampa mothers had many children at once the one time they gave birth - but in this episode Kes keeps talking about having "a child", not several children, so ...
Tricia - Mon, Dec 2, 2013 - 5:28am (USA Central)
I can't remember the name of the episode, but in a later episode Kes suggests her father's name to Ensign WIldman for her child. The doctor gets offended that she never suggested that name to him and she starts rattling off other names - including that of her uncle. So obviously Ocampa women can have more than one child in their life. (Whether it's due to separate pregnancies or occasional multiple births, I don't know).

This episode kind of grosses me out, I don't want to hear the details of all her bodily processes. There sure isn't anything sexy about Ocampa mating, she's a sweaty mess the whole time! (I'm a women with three kids, and I'm pretty sure no one wants to hear all the details of my bodily changes during puberty or pregnancy). As someone else also mentioned, theres also no discussion about whether she and Neelix are even physically able to have a child or if there would be interspecies complications. Very irritating episode altogether.
Corey - Mon, Feb 24, 2014 - 7:09pm (USA Central)
Not Spock's Brain level bad, but almost....
K'Elvis - Thu, Feb 27, 2014 - 8:06am (USA Central)
I agree that the end was a reset button, Kes decides to pass up her once in a lifetime opportunity to have a child, but it turns out it really wasn't a once in a lifetime chance after all. The Ocampa would have to have litters if they can only reproduce once. Squid reproduce once and die, and they lay thousands of eggs. There wouldn't need to be that many Ocampa, perhaps up to a dozen. In any case, having only one child is not an option: extinction would result in just a few generations. But the children would grow up quickly. One thing about the Ocampa is that they seem so sedate for a people who live such short lives. I would think they would be rather hyperactive, the clock is ticking the moment they are born.
amanda - Sat, Mar 8, 2014 - 7:20am (USA Central)
I was 14 when this aired. It was icky, brainless, and awkward then and still is now. One scene was memorable when I realized Janeway doesn't have a star fleet stick up her butt that I mistook her for in the first two eps. (I missed a lot of episodes when show started) She can be warm and surprisingly maternal. (A little two maternal in late seasons ) but...that s me analyzing everything.
Amanda - Sat, Mar 8, 2014 - 7:30am (USA Central)
Arghgh. "too" I would love an edit button. Trying to figure out why my tablet keeps garbling my words. I am hitting the keys but maybe it's so quick it isn't registering and I get missing commas and strange auto corrects. I need a real keyboard. I bet Janeway doesn't have to backspace constantly on her PADD.

One more thing about this episode, I don't buy genetic compatibility between Neelix and Kes. Just because every alien they encounter is humanoid doesn't determine compatible mate. This bugs me. I would have preferred the stress of her freaking out then coming to terms then the relief as the bugs moved on, without the B plot of the gross idea of neelix getting laid.

I do buy him as a father when he has character growth in the last seasons but now? eww no.

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