Star Trek: Voyager

"Before and After"


Air date: 4/9/1997
Written by Kenneth Biller
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"So how does it feel to be a grandfather?"
"A lot better than it does to have you for a son-in-law."

— Harry and Tom

Nutshell: Now THAT'S more like it. Easily one of the best Voyager episodes of the season.

To put it as simply as I can, "Before and After" is solid entertainment. It isn't perfect, but it's a very good hour of Voyager—and after the unfortunate past month of dreadful Voyager offerings, this installment is, to be as fair but as honest as possible, a wonderful alleviation of pain.

In fact, if Voyager can do shows like this for the remainder of the season, we might be in good shape after all. I'm hoping in June I can look back and see this episode as the hour of Voyager that recharged my interest in the series—it certainly has that potential if the last five installments can follow suit.

"Before and After" is yet another Trek breed of the Time Manipulation Paradigm, but I'm not about to hold that against the show. This is a weird, effective story that uses its plot machinations as a springboard for some thoroughly enjoyable mini-stories. The episode is paced at a brisk speed and filled with sub-stories that contain humor and fascination, venturing into both hope and despair.

The episode begins shrouded in confusion and mystery, revealing pieces of its puzzle a little bit at a time. The story opens approximately six years in the future where Kes, aged to the final stage of her short nine-year life, lies in a bio-chamber the Doctor has manufactured in the hope of extending her life beyond its expectancy. Somehow, this device reactivates some residual radiation in Kes' body (which figures into the plot nicely later in the episode, but I don't really want to get into it here), and she begins jumping backward in time, landing in various points in her past for short periods of time—BUT without any memory of her true past and, rather, with the few memories of the brief times she was in the FUTURE. In other words, Kes begins living her life backwards for only hours at a time, with large gaps in the experience spanning anywhere from one day to three years.

Sound confusing? It is. There's no way I'm going to attempt to wrap this into a full synopsis. This is a show you have to watch to fully grasp, and even then you may not quite understand everything. I think I see what's going on, but the ending in particular is open to some interpretation. It's a credit to scripter Kenneth Biller that he was able to pull off such a complicated feat of plotting without totally losing the audience. And Allan Kroeker's direction is effective, moving the story forward with reasonable momentum while also making certain we always know where (er, when) we are.

It's not the fact the episode uses time travel that makes "Before and After" intriguing. In all honesty, the basic premise is standard Trekkian stuff. And there's a megaton of conjured technobabble that the actors are forced to endure in order to warrant the plot. Any reader of my reviews probably knows I don't consider technobabble to be true storytelling since it's usually just a device for explaining arbitrarily created circumstances. BUT if the story that exists outside the fantasy tech-plotting actually works, merely using the technobabble as a secondary device, then I'm likely to be more receptive.

"Before and After," like last season's "Deadlock," is an episode that fits the above description. No, I don't really find the specifics of Kes' time shifts all that plausible (though they were fairly convenient)—but I do care about what happens once Kes drops into each time period. I also like the way Biller's script and Kroeker's direction use these time travel elements: They pile confusion and urgency into the narrative, making us curious and interested, asking, "Just what is going on here?"

The relentless jumping through time makes the story interesting and fast-paced—as does the way Kes and the crew come to understand the nature of the mystery—but what really makes "Before and After" compelling are the "what if" implications. The story paints us one possible future of the starship Voyager, and it's in these details that the show gets truly inventive and entertaining.

For example, this is the first episode that really addresses the fact that Kes only has six years left in her natural life. This would mean marriage and children would have to happen soon—and then it wouldn't be too long before her daughter would marry and have a child. Although not directly addressed (it's only a one-hour show, after all), I liked the implications of how a human, with a life span ten times that of an Ocampa, would relate to an Ocampa. The story says there's a way.

That's why I greatly enjoyed the rather amusing notion that Kes is married to Tom with a daughter who later marries Harry and has a son—all within maybe three years' time. The line about Tom having Harry as a son-in-law was absolutely hilarious. It just goes to show how much mileage can be milked out of a premise if a writer is brave enough to exercise non-restraint and go straight for the bizarre. (Doc's inability to choose and keep a name—Dr. Van Gogh in one time period, Dr. Mozart in another—was also amusing.)

Most compelling, however, is the future of Voyager's fate—a starship that will venture into a region occupied by an aggressively hostile race called the Krenim, leading to what the crew ultimately comes to call the "year of hell." As Paris explains in the future, the ship almost didn't make it. Many people died in Krenim attacks, including Captain Janeway and Lt. Torres. Further, we find out that Tom and B'Elanna were intimate before she died. Tom's somber line, "When she died I felt like I wanted to die," really rings true, and as the show ventures back in time, the tone turns progressively darker and even plunges into despair. Eventually we're allowed to witness the battle where Janeway and Torres are killed—and the site isn't pretty. There's a seriousness to the situation that reminds me of what I used to think Voyager as a series was all about: that of a lone starship having to cope with difficult or even extreme circumstances.

There are subtle touches here: the site of a Voyager hull battered by months of Krenim attacks; the mention of the Doctor's program being off-line for a year; Chakotay's urgency when under attack, and Tom's compliance to duty even after he has just seen B'Elanna die before his eyes—these touches are very well realized and, as a result, the drama comes off quite strong. (The hypothetical situation of war reminded me of TNG's "Yesterday's Enterprise" at times, though this is admittedly not quite on that scale of drama.) True, this "what if" situation is all within a fantasy world that never really happens. But it works because it uses the true emotions and reactions of the Voyager crew, and it all feels credible and real. The Krenim seem like an ominous threat, and that inspires me to believe perhaps the writers are thinking about large, consequential events to come. I sure hope so.

The movement backward through time also works well to foreshadow (or would that be post-shadow?) the events, which was interesting. And the way the episode demonstrates—in reverse chronological order, no less—the eventual return of hope after all the death and despair of "the year of hell" is a truly inventive dramatic device. Using Kes as point of view is perfectly appropriate—it spans Kes' hypothetical life while giving Jennifer Lien another vehicle, which she carries respectably well. (Michael Westmore's aging effect makeup was very well done, but Lien should be commended for making the character seem realistic.)

Returning to the time travel aspects, the ending is also quite inventive and labyrinthine—although there are a few facts that don't quite fit together. If I'm understanding the plot's intentions correctly, Kes' time shifts really began in the present, that is, third season Voyager from our point of view—because it seems the bio-chamber is something Doc of the present is also trying to experiment with. From this reading of the ending, Kes' trips through time were all within her own consciousness, jumping her to the end of her life, and then taking her backward to the beginning (and then forward to the present again). If this is the case, why does Kes "vanish" from Paris' point of view in the future when she makes her time shift? It doesn't seem consistent with the fact that Kes was (apparently) lying in the bio-chamber the whole time in the present, where the crew's unawareness to Kes' time jumps indicate that she never "vanished" here. The whole issue of moving through time always brings up the question of where one exists in physical form and where one's physical form goes when traveling out of a time period. Maybe I shouldn't ask such questions.

I also don't quite understand where the time paradox began (but that may simply be because it's a paradox)—did it begin in the future with Doc's experiment or in the present with Doc's other experiment? Was the bio-chamber of the present an attempt to extend Kes' life or was it truly intended as the corrective measure to Kes' time shift? The story seems to hint at several possibilities, but it's never really certain. I'm really trying to be helpful here, but I think I've confused things more than I've clarified them, so I think I'll just shut up now. I'm a fool for trying to dissect events that, by nature, cannot be dissected.

I guess the time travel aspects of "Before and After" aren't any more implausible than any other paradox that other similar time stories create, so let's just call it a day. Although I could've done without some of the extraneous technobabble, "Before and After" is one of the best hours of Voyager yet produced, and if I can get this much enjoyment out of being baffled, so be it.

Let me wrap up with a comment on Kes' new hairstyle: I like it. Much better. For those wondering how Kes could grow her hair from its previous length to its current length in the matter of weeks that seems to have transpired between this episode and the previous one, I pose the following as one possible explanation: Since Ocampa have shorter life spans, it would stand to reason that Kes also has accelerated biologic functions, which could include how fast her hair grows. Hey, take it or leave it.

Previous episode: Favorite Son
Next episode: Real Life

◄ Season Index

46 comments on this review

Tue, Nov 6, 2007, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
Kes' new hairstyle in this episode actually looks like crap. I preferred the old one, even on a bad wig day. This is the episode that Kes, as a character, jumps the shark.
Thu, Feb 28, 2008, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
The paradox begins in the future. Kes is sent back from the moment of death to continually jump backwards. The cure takes place in the present but not before Kes is sent back to her conception.

Since, of course, that future never actually takes place, it follows that a hypothetical future can reach back in time and erase itself.
Fri, Feb 29, 2008, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
I look at this as a "what if." What if Captain Janeway and Lt. Torres were killed? What if Seven of Nine hadn't replaced Kes?

Also, note that this episode layed the foundation for the Year of Hell two-parter. In that episode Seven of Nine and Tuvok take the place of Kes in finding the frequency of the stuck Krenim torpedo.
David Forrest
Wed, Mar 26, 2008, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
I totally agree with your review Jammer. This is a teriffic episode of Voyager and I really enjoyed Lien's performance. This is the one episode in which I really wished that Kes had stayed on through the rest of the show. I thought the writers never paid enough attention to her character, and she a lot of potential, especially with Seven of Nine coming aboard.

As for her new hairstyle, I loved it. I thought it should have been done a long time ago as Lien looked fabulous with the new style. The actresses on Voyager had terrible hairstyles the first few years.
Dirk Hartmann
Sun, Apr 20, 2008, 5:50am (UTC -5)
The review is spot on. I think it would have deserved a 4 star rating. I'm beginning to think that over time you've raised the bar regarding ratings. For example, there is a host of (enjoyable, but in the end) rather conventional episodes in DS9's first season that got 3 stars. The margin of distance to the 3 1/2 stars we've got here seems rather too small for me.
And by the way: I'm with those who like Kes' new hair style.
Fri, Jul 4, 2008, 1:38am (UTC -5)
I hate the term "jump the shark". More often than not its applied to an episode that simply marks a turning point, not a bad turning point, but just a regular turning point. It seems that a show "jumps the shark" when it changes what The Viewer knows, trusts, and loves, regardless of whether it actually did something good or bad. But I suppose everyone is entitle to their opinions. I just think that the phrase "jump the shark" is use ad nauseum to the point that it holds no meaning any more and actually makes a person sound like they're just rattling off a catchphrase rather than actually dissecting WHY this "jumped the shark"

I suppose I'm really venting my anger about "jump the shark" in relation to BSG (so I don't mean this as a total slam against you,Bob), but it's still valid here.

Great episode.
Mon, Oct 13, 2008, 11:17am (UTC -5)
I agree with you, Occuprice, that the term "jump the shark" is used way too often, & often for the most inane reasons. In the case of Voyager, I felt it jumped not with Kes's new hairdo (which I thought was beautiful) nor with 7 of 9's arrival, but when the show itself basically became a strict 'adventure' show, instead of the tale of survival & hardship that we were promised when the show premiered (this jump, I'd say, truly occurred with the "Basics" two-parter when NOT ONE member of the crew turns against Janeway when the Kazon strand them on the planet, as it was her behavior in her prior dealings with the Kazon which eventually led to their abadonment on that world).
Fri, Oct 31, 2008, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
It's kind of entertaining that Jammer--who spent a lot of time on these excellent reviews--cannot QUITE handle the time travel narratives. Clearly Kes' jumps weren't 'within her consciousness' but actually happened, starting in the future when the Doc activated the bio-temporal chamber to keep ancient Kes alive; the characters state this a number of times.

As a huge Kes fan, my review is almost unnecessary. This is one of Voyager best episodes, an episode that proves definitively that a Kes episode can work (unlike, say, a Harry or Neelix episode). Great acting from Lien, who finally comes into her own as a talent in this season, as well as from the other actors. A fascinating glimpse at Voyager's future...a glimpse which of course gets virtually ignored later on during the 'Year of Hell' episodes.

I also agree with Jake's comments above re: Voyager-the-adventure-show. Adventure+7of9 just isn't as interesting as thought-provoking+Kes, even if some of those season 1-3 episodes didn't work.
Fri, Jan 9, 2009, 3:45am (UTC -5)
Yeah, the time travel certainly starts with the doctors experiments in the future to try and prolong Kes' life. The whole episode is a great big rewind to the present Voyager. It's nicely done, and they end used the Year of Hell concept in the next season which was a nice touch. Clearly Kes' travels through time had an impact on the timeline since she's gone by then in the new timeline.
Sat, May 9, 2009, 4:18am (UTC -5)
One of my favorite all time Voyager episodes.
It just infuriates me to think they fired Lien when they could have fired Wang or Beltran.
I mean half the characters on the ship never had a good an episode as this. I also thought that Kes ended up totally sexy by the end of this episode and the show would have been much better if we had Seven and Kes on the show at once!
Mon, Dec 14, 2009, 2:11am (UTC -5)
I propose that the reason Kes grew her hair is cos she was told she fired and she went "oh fuck it" and decided to have her hair the natural way (if any of you have seen American History X). That's just what I'm guessing...
Mon, Feb 15, 2010, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
I still remeber the joke my brother made about this episode.

"Help! I'm a single-celled organism! Put me in the biotemperal chamber before it's to late!"
Greg H
Mon, Feb 15, 2010, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
@Obvious- The reason her hair was longer was because make-up was no longer on her ears.She was developing an allergy to the gum asthetic used in the make-up; therefore, the wig covered her ears. That was information posted on either the Wikipedia or Memoery Alpha websites for a time. I can't find that information anymore.
Sun, Feb 21, 2010, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Well, if Kes ages a decade for every year humans do, and she was "20-ish" when the show started, by this point she'd be "50-ish", so the middle aged hairdo makes sense from that standpoint.
Tue, Nov 16, 2010, 10:59am (UTC -5)
This was certainly an enjoyable episode with lots of great scenes. But I can't get over the implausibility of the situation: it's basically only Kes' "consciousness" (or "soul" if you prefer) that is travelling backwards in time, because she always ends up in the body of her younger self... But somehow she also takes the time-travel-causing radiation with her? It makes absoloutely no sense. I also got a little tired of Kes having to re-explain the cause of her jumps to every 'new' time period she encountered. It's also too bad some of the things we saw of that future never came to pass... it seems like the writers knew they would be getting rid of her very soon and they wanted to cram all of her remaining story potential into a single hour.
Mon, Mar 14, 2011, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Far be it for me to think you should give a VOY episode a lower score, but this was just awful. it seems to me they had given Lien the news that she'd be leaving, because she just doesn't seem to care anymore. Couple that with the guest actors (that kid made me want to get a vasectomy) and you've got a performance cesspool.

The only character-related element to the story (other than perhaps Paris' reïgniting his interest in Kes) is Kes' age and how the generations of the Ocampa work within a mostly human crew. That's not enough to sustain an episode, so what we get a lot of is rehashing the same technobabble and seeing people treat Kes like an idiot.

The plotting episodes of VOY (like this one) which are TNGesque don't really work for me; this show is about characters and all we get at the end is Kes running hurriedly off camera to go plant a flower or something.
Fri, Jun 17, 2011, 12:59am (UTC -5)
Amazing episode- definitely one of the season's best, and a very fitting last swansong for the Kes character.
Wed, Nov 2, 2011, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
Not bad in general, but the going back to before birth is just silly and probably the worst reset button of the series. R.L. Stine did it better in The Cuckoo Clock of Doom :)
Sun, Jan 1, 2012, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
Newborn Kes had very human ears...
Thu, Jan 19, 2012, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
I know that this is a Trekkie fan site, so not everybody is familiar with reproduction or female genitalia. :P

But -- a whole review, tons of comments, and no mention of the BACK VAGINA? That's right -- in the birthing scenes, the Ocampa newborns appear to come out of their mothers' backs.

I don't even want to begin to imagine what Tom had to put where for that to happen.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
@TDexter I was thinking the same thing! That was kind of weird. I would loved to have seen the kinds of positions Tom and Kes had to get into for conception!

Then there's the annoying fact that humans can apparently breed with any species in the whole universe which is just downright silly. That's always been one of my gripes with Trek. Somehow species from the Alpha quadrant are physically compatible with species from the Detla quadrant. Total bull.
Mon, Apr 2, 2012, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Is it just me or was the decision to give The Doctor a bad hair-plug-do in the opening scene intentional? Even in the 24th century...even if you're a freaking HOLOGRAM they just can't find a cure for baldness? Hilarious!
Sun, Oct 28, 2012, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
It was a bit strange that a human/Ocampa hybrid would age as fast as an Ocampan...surely Kim's son, being 3/4 human, wouldn't age as fast as a pure Ocampan...Ocampa must have mighty dominant genes.
Lt. Yarko
Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 2:11am (UTC -5)
I loved how Kes' doings at each stop in time affected the future that she had already seen. This was truly one of the most cohesively imaginative episodes of all trek and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. And I usually hate time travel stories because they are usually so dumb.
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Kes' whole arc was ruined by the ridiculous decision to make her age so young. There is literally no way that she would behave, and know what she knows, at that age. And apparently, she looked and behaved like an adult at around one year old. Come on, what the heck were the writers thinking??

A species that gets old that quick would never have become a dominant species. This episode with her daughter exposes how daft this idea is.

Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
Also, while this episode was entertaining, it was flawed and had absolutely no believability factor whatsoever. It's easy to write when you don't have to think about your story making any internal logical sense.
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Did the Time Traveller's wife steal the idea from this episode?

I just realized that this episode was created prior to both The Time Traveller's wife and Benjamin Button movies.

Good episode though and probably the best Kes episode

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 9:05am (UTC -5)
The Ocampan lifespan is plausible, they just have to grow up very quickly. They also need to be highly fertile. It's plausible that they reproduce only once, but in that case, it has to be a litter. They also would have to be in a real hurry, they don't have time to waste. Yet Kes is languid, almost sleepy, like she has all the time in the world.

To an Ocampan, humans must seem as unchanging as statues. An Ocampan goes through an entire lifespan in 9 years, while over 9 years an adult human doesn't change all that much. Kes's descendants seem to have inherited the short Ocampan lifespan. Would you really want to marry someone you will outlive your great-great-great grandchildren? I do suppose marrying an Ocampan would be great for someone who didn't want to commit to a long-term relationship. Then again, we know that the children grew up as quickly as an Ocampan, but we don't know that their lifespan was as short. It's plausible that they could grow up quickly, but live a long time.
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
I have to knock a couple points off this episode for that eye-roll worthy last line. "If I learned anything there's no time like the present" Barf! What is with Voyager ending episodes on cheesy lines like that.

The only things I enjoy about this episode are Jennifer Lien's performance and the info drops about the future. I don't think it stacks up well against other time travel conundrum episodes. I thought it was too repetitive - once you've seen one jump backwards you've seen them all.
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 9:28pm (UTC -5)
Very interesting take on a time paradox plot. Some repetition in the pacing but it is unavoidable in a plot such as this (TNG's "Cause and Effect" is loaded with repetition but is generally a highly-regarded episode). The direction and nicely done performances help to move things along at a decent clip. It was also endemic of how woefully under-utilized Lien was in this show. She could've been one of the great Star Trek characters, quite frankly, had the writers given a damn.

Really good job all around save for an overly-sappy final few frames. One of the seasons highlights.

3.5 stars.
Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
About the Ocampan lifespan:

It is -not- plausible the way it is now. I cannot remember the exact math but a quick Google search would find it. Essentially, with a 9-year lifespan and only one reproductive cycle, the starting number of Ocampans would have to have been greater than the total number of atoms in the entire universe.

The way around this is to make fact the insinuated idea that the Ocampans are a dying species. Most likely, before the disaster, they lived much longer lives with many reproductive cycles. Time has seen each generation deteriorate to the point where their species is now at an end.

Sad, really. The Caretaker wasn't trying to protect them; he was trying to make comfortable their final years of existence as a species.
Dave in NC
Sun, Nov 2, 2014, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Fun fact I learned from this episode: Kes's normal temperature is 16 degrees. Whether that's Fahrenheit or Celsius, she's definitely on the chilly side.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this look at the Voyager that might have been. It's really an interesting plot, and Jennifer Lien shows that she can out-act Garrett Wang any day.

Side notes: it'd be interesting to see this episode recut in chronological order (past to future).

Also interesting is that a Voyager under Chakotay's command was still decades away from the Alpha Quadrant two years after the show ended.

Overall, I give this three and a half stars.

(BTW, the comment box is really tiny for some reason. It's kind of hard to self-edit when you can't easily read what you wrote).
Dave in NC
Sun, Nov 2, 2014, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
Oh, and I must admit, the thought of the Ocampan back vagina was definitely distracting. Not to be crass, but if I remember correctly Ocampans get pregnant by holding hands. Do they even have sex?

Last thought: Am I the only one who thinks it is extremely weird that Harry would marry Tom's daughter? It's probably just me, but seriously, I totally get the vibe that Harry has a secret crush on Tom.
Wed, Jan 21, 2015, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
I agree with everything Dave said. Back vagina! Lmao!
Also, Kathy & B'Elanna dead? No Seven? This time line is beyond lame!
Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Whew, we needed a good episode!

Nice to see Jenn get an episode about Kes that isn't stupid.

She did well in this episode too!

If was fun figuring out who married whom who was the father of whom etc. :-)

Krenim stuff... was the YOH script actually written this early?

I'm NOT a fan of the new hairdo at all. I like the short haired lovable Kes :-)

I'll go 3.5 stars here too. More than solid trek episode.

Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 6:03am (UTC -5)
Everyone liked the short hair better. I'm not sure if you know, but she developed an allergy to the prosthetic glue. The long hair hides the ears so that she didn't have to suffer daily.
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 7:29am (UTC -5)
Thanks Robert. I was not aware.
El Treko
Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
How did Voyager encounter the Krenim with Kes aboard if she never tossed them beyond Borg space?

Why didn't anyone remember Kes' experience when they finally did encounter the Krenim?
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
I am with the majority: great episode, and Lien did some fantastic acting. It's hard to understand both why they fired her, and why she didn't go on to acting success after Voyager. The only thing I can speculate, after what happened to her recently, is that she began to develop psychological problems during her tenure on the show, and that this answers both questions.

Getting back to this episode, though, the writers also deserve credit. Part of what makes the nice acting job possible is that they really presented Kes as a well rounded character. It was especially enjoyable how, after her initial disorientation, she grabbed ahold of the reins and became such an active agent in helping to solve her own issues. And as she started to understand what was happening, she would play along more and more, at least at first (blowing out candles, holding the baby), rather than instantly freaking out in each new scenario.
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
@El Treko - They didn't remember her probably because the Krenim temporal incursions wiped that knowledge from Voyager crew. As for your other point, I would add that how did Voyager pass Borg space and deal with Species 8472 without Kes being affected by 8472 like she was/would be and evolving and having to leave the ship.

I hope that no Ocampa is ever alone when they give birth or that baby is going to be dropping onto the floor. Not great when you can only have one kid...

I think this episode is where the writers thought they'd killed Lt Carey off as he was mentioned as having died in the Year of Hell. They must have forgot it was a time travel episode and only had him show up in the past until "Friendship One"

Also anyone else notice that Captain Chakotay wore the standard Starfleet four pip captain rank insignia rather than a Maquis field commission version? I like to imagine him stealing them off Janeway at her funeral just before they closed the torpedo casing....
Diamond Dave
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Another excellent performance and another excellent Kes focused show. This is becoming something of a theme. A high concept show that actually worked, what I really liked was that the pacing kept increasing toward the conclusion - it made for an exciting watch.

I'm always a sucker for 'what if' type shows and the concepts introduced here - from the minor, such as the Doctor's hair, to wonderful ideas like the 'year of hell' - are uniformly fascinating. The ending is a little trite - and the final line should burn in fire for all eternity - but overall this is a really fine episode. 3.5 stars.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 17, 2016, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
I was always struck by the gulf between the Doctor repeatedly referring to himself as "brilliant", which is an homage to the insecure narcissism of his creator, and between Voyager actually treating him as if he's brilliant, like a brilliant scientific mind.

I think the writers literally forgot that the Doc is a simulation run by the main computer, and that anything he does is the result of algorithms run by that computer. The computer is capable of simulating holo-characters that are complex, sure, and even of having them develop and learn. Of course. But we've been led to believe by this point that the main computer is capable of creating a simulation that thinks creatively, conducts research, and can devise breakthroughs no Federation scientists has thought of. What this actually means is that the main computer itself is brilliant and capable of creative, independent thinking.

What the hell?!

On the one hand, this would be an intriguing new development that could lead to sci-fi questions of whether sentience can emerge from bio-neural circuitry, and whether it is ethical to design a subservient starship from organic materials as opposed to inorganic isolinear circuitry. Because as it stands, any case for the doctor being sentient is identical with making the case that the main computer is capable of sentience.

On the other hand we're back to "Captain Dunsel", because if the Voyager computer can conduct research as well as anyone else, then why wouldn't the Federation just construct an army of computers to sit around advancing science by centuries? Think about the technology that a million holographic doctors could produce?

But really I don't think Voyager poses this question, as I think rather that, as I mentioned, the writers just outright forgot that the Doctor is run by a main computers and doesn't exist as some separate entity from it. How the portable emitter works is anyone's guess, but I'm thinking that by the 29th century that little thing probably has processing power better than Voyager's main computer anyhow.
Nicholas Ryan
Fri, Aug 19, 2016, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
As far as Kes quickly growing her hair they've established in Trek episodes that it's possible to stimulate hair follicle growth for just that purpose. Baldness is no doubt cured as well, but Roddenberry didn't think people would care in the 24th century.
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
If I cared about Kes even a little bit I might have liked this episode. Most of the characters on this show were simply not interesting. I like the doctor. Paris. and the half Klingon. The Vulcan and harry are watchable. Kes is just blah. Neelix is unfortunate. Janeway and Chockfullofnutskotay are unbearable.
Thu, Aug 25, 2016, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
I just realized something creepy as fuck. Harry Kim would have obviously known Linnis while she was a little hybrid growing up. So at what point did Kim decide yeah I want to date my best friends rapidly ageing two year old! I can't believe Tom didn't crack his skull.

I mean neelix did something similar with Kes but to be fair she was biologically an adult when they met.
George Monet
Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
The time traveling in this episode was insultingly stupid. This is not how time travel works. If Kes was traveling back in time she'd be traveling backwards while remaining in her about to die 9 year old body. When she traveled back in time she'd meet her younger selves because she'd still be in her 9 year old about to die any second body. No matter how good the other parts of the episode are, this complete failure by the writers to understand how the time travel would work absolutely ruined this episode for me.

Each moment in time contains a unique Kes. Kes cannot travel backwards in time and enter her younger body because the Kes soul housed in the younger Kes body would still be housed in the younger Kes body. It is the chronitons in the old Kes body that are causing the old Kes body to travel back in time. Kes's soul does not have chronitons so would not be able to travel back in time without the body that has the chronitons.

We see how time travel would work when old Kes travels back in time to kidnap her younger self and try to smuggle her younger self away. Then that young Kes leaves a message for herself for when she comes back as an old woman.

The episode is also self contradictory. When Kes is traveling back, she travels to a point before she is housed inside an empty Kes body that hasn't yet been affected by chroniton particles. This means it is completely impossible for her to continue jumping back any further in time because it is the chronitons that are making her BODY jump. If her body doesn't have chronitons then her body can't jump back in time. Kes's BODY only gets infected with chronitons after she made the jump several weeks after the Krenim had already attacked. Kes even makes a point of scanning herself and saying that she's finally been infected by the chroniton radiation which means that she doesn't carry the chronitons into the new body, the chronitons have to already be in the Kes body she jumps into. She then somehow jumps backwards to a time before the Krenim attacked into a body that could not possibly be infected by chronitons. This means that it is impossible for her to jump any further than the 11 months she jumped into a body that was clean of chronitons. That was where the episode had to end as she cannot jump any further as she jumped into a body without chronitons.

If Kes was traveling back in time, then she cannot be pulled forward in time by a treatment that the doctor was performing after she jumps backwards in time again because she is no longer in that time period. From the perspective of the body she jumps into that treatment has never occurred and is completely disconnected from Kes. Because she is in the past compared to that treatment then she isn't being treated. She cannot be pulled forward in time by a treatment that hasn't occurred yet. She also cannot jump backwards after jumping into a body clean of chronitons. So every part of this episode is a completely plot holey mess because the writers don't have a friggin clue how time travel works and cannot be consistent even within a single episode.

Also, what the hell happens to the all the souls that Kes kicks out of the Kes body every time she jumps backwards in time? Do they travel into the actual old body that is the only thing that can jump backwards in time through some kind of body swap between the Kes of the time she jumps to and the Kes of the old body?

Submit a comment

Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2016 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.