Star Trek: Voyager
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.