Star Trek: Voyager

"The Gift"


Air date: 9/10/1997
Written by Joe Menosky
Directed by Anson Williams

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"My designation is Seven of Nine. The others are gone. Designations are no longer relevant. I am ... One."
"Yes, you are."

— Seven of Nine and Janeway

Nutshell: Some really strong stuff ... and also some not-so-strong stuff. Uneven but pretty respectable.

Let me begin with some issues only indirectly related to this episode. Anyone who hasn't been living in a closet (or who doesn't have access to Usenet or anywhere else on the net where Trek rumors run rampant), has probably known for months now that Jennifer Lien would be leaving the series. I heard the unconfirmed news as early as April, and, as these rumors go, I took it with a grain of salt. (After all, Colm Meaney has been very widely but wrongly rumored as leaving DS9 for the past three or more seasons.)

Rumors have also been flying around as to why the actress was leaving. Most of the ones I've come across have alluded to the "fact" that Lien considered her character a disappointment, and that even Jeri Taylor admits the writing staff is at fault, having never giving the character the development she deserved.

Now, I'm not here to confirm or deny rumors, because, quite frankly, I haven't the slightest idea why Jennifer Lien opted to leave Voyager. However, if there's any truth to the said rumors, I must admit that I'm not particularly surprised. Because of her unique position on the show, Kes is one character that should've had some stories that she never had, and now never will.

Most notably, her telepathic abilities never went fully realized. They were introduced way back in "Time and Again," and used once or twice between then and "Scorpion"—most notably "Cold Fire," "Persistence of Vision," and "Warlord." But, really, it was used mostly as a plot device; it was never really ingrained into the character's personality.

Then there was the long-standing relationship she had with Neelix, which I never felt was explored the way it should've been. And their extremely confusing break-up was handled so poorly that there was a long stretch of episodes where it wasn't even clear that they had broken up.

Why am I discussing all this? Because it's not every day that a regular member of the cast leaves a Star Trek series, and there are moments within the plot of "The Gift" that perhaps underline the possibility that Kes has been a character that the writing staff wasn't sure they knew what they should do with.

We'll get to that in a moment, because, really it's ultimately less important than the episode's other half. "The Gift" is one of those shows that has two unrelated plots, and if I had to label one of the plots the B-story, it would probably be the angle involving Kes. The main focus (and an effective one at that) documents Janeway's attempts to bring Seven of Nine (separated from the Borg collective in "Scorpion, Part II" which took place just days before) into the Voyager fold, whether the lone Borg submits willingly or not.

Most of this angle of the story is pretty powerful. Janeway has sometimes been one for making decisions that can be described as "controversial," and in "The Gift" she makes decisions for Seven of Nine that all but deny her free will.

Ah, but that's the argument (I just love Trekkian arguments!). At what point would a Federation/Starfleet type like Janeway deny the requests of an alien guest? In this case it's a bit trickier, because Janeway can't simply allow Seven of Nine to return to the Borg collective. That could put the entire ship at risk of Borg assimilation. And, ethically, it's even more tricky because Seven of Nine was assimilated at a very young age—she never really had the chance to understand what it meant to be a human individual before she suddenly found herself in the Collective among billions. She never had the opportunity to choose her life's path, because the Borg chose it for her.

So it's not surprising that Seven of Nine wants nothing to do with Janeway, the Voyager crew, or her chance to rediscover humanity. She wants to return where she can hear the voices of the hive—because she understands the Collective and is psychologically dependent on it. It's all she has ever known, so how can she be expected to simply give it up? She can't.

Indeed, the most effective and affecting moments of "The Gift" center around Seven of Nine's dilemma. Menosky's script allows us to understand her plight, and there are moments when we feel sincerely sorry for her. We can easily understand her attempt to hijack a communications relay and contact the Borg (which lands her in the brig). We can understand her rage toward Janeway for denying her requests. We can understand her frustration and loneliness; the voices are gone, and she's left with emptiness.

One scene in the brig is particularly powerful, where she mumbles the word "one" over and over, then says, confused and distraught, "My designation is Seven of Nine. The others are gone. Designations are no longer relevant. I am ... One."

"Yes, you are," Janeway responds, with a statement that says more than the obvious.

I think Janeway comes across very well in this episode. It shows her personally involved in a situation that will undoubtedly be one of the series' most ongoing and deeply explored analyses of the human situation. Because Janeway forced this decision upon Seven of Nine, it may seem unjust or controversial on the surface. But the decision had to be made one way or the other, and the way Janeway goes about handling it makes it a very ... human decision. Kate Mulgrew was all-around fantastic as ship's captain and community leader. Her performance really evoked a sense of family throughout the episode, and I rather liked it.

And while Seven of Nine apparently accepts her fate by the end of the episode (which perhaps seems too sudden because of the way the A- and B-stories are assembled), this is very far from over. The character shows a lot of promise, and I look forward to future stories about her. Jeri Ryan did a commendable job, although I think the challenge lies ahead, in creating a believable character who won't fully understand the human discoveries she will undoubtedly find. A unique bond between Janeway and Seven of Nine seems very likely.

But now comes the bad news: As much as the A-story about Janeway and Seven of Nine had me riveted to the screen, the B-story involving Kes' sudden development of unique powers—an apparent evolution into a higher life form—fell quite flat.

A very big part of the problem is that the whole transformation is left so utterly inexplicable that it comes across as merely arbitrary. It happens far too quickly to be believable. It feels much more like "Well, we have to get rid of Kes somehow, so let's make her transform into energy and lots of rippling light." Kes' bizarre abilities escalate over the course of the hour. First she can move objects like hyposprays with her mind, and before long she's manipulating objects on molecular, sub-molecular, and finally sub-sub-molecular levels. The technobabble remains thankfully light, but this still isn't really interesting in story terms.

The problem is that the episode doesn't tell us what this means to any of the characters. There are far too many non-reactions to Kes' extreme powers. I think a big part of the problem was time constraints. There simply isn't enough screen time for both subplots to work—I was far too engaged in the Seven of Nine story to care about Kes' story, which was too underdeveloped. Another problem is that since none of the characters really know what Kes is going through or why (Kes isn't even sure, and I doubt the writers really were either) they have no basis to act. That's fine in itself, but the episode zooms through the plot so quickly that it's never evident many people care what's going on, assuming they're even aware of it. That I don't think is fine.

There's one scene with Neelix and Kes that looks like it's headed for a genuine, revealing payoff, but it ends with a dumb joke instead. (Why did we break up? Oh, it was the cooking!) The serious discussion should've prevailed, but the creators took the easy way out, which left me irritated. Closure here would be nice, but we sure don't get it.

The final act has a reasonable scene between Janeway and Kes, which gives the episode enough of a "goodbye" feeling without going into maudlin excess. But there's also an "action" finale where Kes has to make it to the shuttle bay before she finishes her transformation cycle (or whatever it is), destroying Voyager in the process. This is fairly dumb and cliched; I could've done without it entirely. Kes' departure is underwhelming precisely because the plot depicting it is merely a means to an end and little more. The unfinished scene with Neelix and the intentionally vague and perfunctory nature of Kes' transformation highlights exactly the sort of thing that has held the character back for the past three seasons—and it's unfortunate.

Ah, but there is Kes' "gift," which has some reassuring implications. She accelerates the ship to a very fast speed which puts the Voyager safely beyond Borg space—taking 10 years off the journey. I have some logistic problems with Kes' newfound abilities—it seems awfully magical and convenient—but such complaints are ultimately unimportant. The shortening of the journey could mean a lot in the upcoming season. It could give the Voyager crew some new hope, and it will also hopefully invigorate the feeling that Voyager is truly exploring the Delta Quadrant. Time will tell.

So Jennifer Lien as Kes leaves Star Trek: Voyager, and overall she goes quietly. Quiet has its merits. Closing the episode is a fabulous tracking shot of Tuvok alone in his quarters holding a candle. It's poignant and visually impressive. The special effects enhance the meaning: just one person who will ponder the fate of his friend—very nice. It's too bad Kes' farewell wasn't this aptly handled throughout.

Next week: When stranded in the coldness of space, will Tom and B'Elanna be heating things up? And will Voyager lose its second shuttlecraft in as many episodes? The suspense is killing me...

Previous episode: Scorpion, Part II
Next episode: Day of Honor

◄ Season Index

52 comments on this review

Tue, Nov 6, 2007, 3:10pm (UTC -5)
This is the point where Voyager became "The Seven of Nine Show". Huge shark-jumping moment.
Tue, Dec 25, 2007, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
A good episode, but Kes and her fate was pretty much a rip off of a Babylon 5 story from its first season where a telepath ends up so strong he becomes a corporeal being
Tue, Mar 4, 2008, 4:00pm (UTC -5)
This is probably the episode Kate Mulgrew hates the most. Is widely known that Mulgrew disliked the Seven of Nine/Kes switch.
Tue, Jul 1, 2008, 7:24am (UTC -5)
As I understand it, Kes was getting too old to continue the series, according to the Okampa age-limits, which is something like 4 or 5 years. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Tue, Jul 1, 2008, 7:35pm (UTC -5)
The Okampa live for 9 years. Kes could have remained for the entire series. This would have been a problem only if Voyager had a ninth season.
Tue, Jul 29, 2008, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
While it's true the nature of Kes' departure was handled too abruptly and was confusing, I appreciated that they had her character play a significant role in saving the life of the new cast member, in the middle of the episode. Though subtle, it created an emotional link between Kes and Seven, despite that they never meet.
Thu, Dec 4, 2008, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
I've heard that Garrett Wang was originally the one to be dropped after the 3rd season. But he then made People Magazine's Annual List of 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. The powers that be then thought it'd be bad form to fire him after such an honor, so the pink slip was handed to Jennifer Lien.
This makes me wonder why Ethan Phillips's Neelix wasn't considered for the proverbial chopping block since surely, by this time, he'd become Trek's answer (precursor?) to Jar Jar.
Wed, May 13, 2009, 4:17pm (UTC -5)
I agree with theory that writers didn't know what to do with Kes.

In its begin Kes was embodiment of good nature and happiness. Now tell me, how this ideal can evolve without loosing its Tinker Bell aura? It simply can't and Warlord episode was good example of this.

So what writers did? The have introduced exact antithesis of Kes. Seven is merciles, aggresive killer on her way to understanding everything Kes was born with.
Mon, Jun 15, 2009, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
Well, I guess it was inevitable that someone came up with such a half-as$ed explanation for why Kes HAD to go.
Sat, Aug 1, 2009, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
It makes sense that Kes would be the one to go, since her lifespan introduced limitations on appearing for seven full seasons...she'd be an old woman by the end.

If Mulgrew hated the Kes/Seven switch, she certainly played it down on the Season 1 DVD on which she is highlighted and interviewed. She loved working with Jeri Ryan and praised the whole idea of Seven.

As for Janeway, she was written very erratically. For example, on the Prime Directive, she ranged from "We must follow it to the letter" to "To hell with it", and on time travel she ranged from "We shouldn't know" to "Tell me more". But this wasn;t Mulgrew's fault, and whatever kind of Janeway she was forced to play each week, she always went all out, and this episode was one of her best, alongside other good Janeway episodes like Prime Factors and Good Shepherd.

Fri, Aug 28, 2009, 12:56pm (UTC -5)
Oh, come on. This is science fiction. Kes may have had a 9 year life span, but they (the writers)surely could've found a way around it if they were smart (wasn't that even one of the plot points in "Before and After"?).
I'm fine with 7 of 9, I'm just still shocked that Kes was the one to go & not Neelix. I guess you had to have only 3 women in this ensemble.
John Pate
Wed, Jan 13, 2010, 3:21am (UTC -5)
The ep worked pretty well IMHO. Tho the Kes transformation did come across as somewhat precipitous, who's to say how random non-human aliens should behave?

The Kes character might have looked amusing on paper when the series was being put together but I don't think it ever worked. She was too alien for it to really matter what arbitrary stuff happened to her, whereas the Seven of Nine character could be (was) used to make all sorts of analysis of the human condition.

As for the common complaints re Seven's skin-tight costume styling, latterly Kes was sporting the skin-tight catsuit look, and TNG and DS9 were heavy on the spandex... it's just that Jeri Ryan fills out a catsuit in a more memorable manner.
Mon, Jun 7, 2010, 8:11am (UTC -5)
Everyone who keeps insisting that Kes had nowhere else to go as a character seems to be forgetting that Jennifer Lien wasn't the one who was originally supposed to get the axe. That was originally Garrett Wang. Unlike Kes, his character was at a dead end (although, in fairness, I could tolerate him more than Neelix). It was only when, for some strange reason, he made People magazine's annual 50 Most Beautiful people in the world issue, that his paycheck for the remainder of the show's run was assured.
So, I doubt all these excuses about Kes having nowhere else to go as a character would be nonexistent were it not for People magazine.
Sat, Jan 22, 2011, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
Yup, Kes never really became anything over the course of three seasons. I'm not sure if it's because the original conception of the character was flawed, or if it wasn't well developed. Either way, she deserved a more appropriate sendoff. I had this thought that during the Year of Hell, she could have jumped in front of Torres & Janeway when the conduits exploded, sacrificed her own life to save theirs. That would have been VERY powerful. But of course the whole Year of hell ended up being reset anyway.
Sun, Apr 8, 2012, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
@Bob, "Shark Jumping," generally denotes bad writing decisions. It was not a bad decision to shift the show's focus onto what would become an exciting and fascinating new character. It literally saved the show, IMO. And it was really only during season 4 that the scales were tipped towards Seven. Seasons 5 - 7 took a more TNG-style approach to its cast, favoring the more popular characters (as opposed to the DS9-style of a more balanced ensemble).

I do agree that Jennifer Lien basically got the shaft, though. It wasn't her fault her character was underdeveloped. She did an excellent job with what she was given. It's a shame, too, that her acting career didn't flourish after this. "American History X" is the only other thing she's really known for and she was excellent in that as well.

I think the main problem with Kes' character is that she didn't have a culture or much of a back story to support her growth. We meet the Ocampa in the pilot and that's basically it from there on out. There are no other Ocampa in the Delta Quadrant (except for that creepy colony that followed the "Other Caretaker"). She's not even a year old when she comes on board so they couldn't really do flashbacks, because there's hardly anything to flash back to. So what the writers left themselves with was this vaguely telepathic and highly curious young girl with funky ears.

That's not to say that they didn't do some interesting things with Kes and that there wasn't really the potential for more. They did and there was. It was just too easy for them to pass her over in favor of Janeway, B'Elanna, The Doctor, and eventually Seven of Nine.
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Jennifer Lien was a decent actress for what she got's unfortunate that when the script calls for her to scream (which happened several times) she sounds like a falcon.
Wed, Oct 3, 2012, 12:25am (UTC -5)
I've read most of the posts here but not all, so If i repeat i apologize.

First off I believe "The gift" should have been the episode after this one- Meaning this one episode should have been mainly about Seven of Nine and her integration with the Voyager crew. Kes could have shown more development with her powers and actually helped Seven recover old memories of her childhood and humanity.

That being said, "The Gift" could have been made into a more believable story AND things like her and Neelix's break up could have been more explained. BUT the one thing that I wanted to see most (and for some reason no one has addressed as far as I could read) was her saying goodbye to the Doctor. WTF? Her and the Doctor had a friendship way beyond what the Captain shared, and while I did like the scene of the two saying goodbye, I can not forgive the powers that be for excluding her farewell to the Doctor. It could have been a great scene where as she was leaving in a shuttle craft, the Doc could have been in the hangar bay saying his farewell in the manner where only an actor with his skills could pull off! A great blunder indeed...
Jo Jo Meastro
Thu, Mar 28, 2013, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
I've found Kes to be a bit of a bore overall, so I wasn't too sad to see her go. Still, her departure could have at least had a whole episode dedicated to it and it would have given us more time to spend on 7 of 9. 7 of 9 seems like an excellent addition to the show, I just hope that the writers keep some of the Borgness and the darkness and pathos that seems to be waiting to be tapped into.

I think the writers should have followed on the desperation and excitement of the Scorpion 2 parter into a few more episodes. If I was the writer I'd used this to make 7 of 9s' inner termoil admist the backdrop of a Borg confrontation (along the way perhaps leaving Voyager on its last legs with half the crew dead or shaken to their cores). Next episode, I would have then used Kess'es departure and the gift Kes gives the crew as a harrowing and powerful escape from Borg space. This could have made everything more dramatic and emotional in my view, servicing both plot points in a more fully rounded way.
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 8:16am (UTC -5)
I for one am glad to see the back of Kes. She is an extremely tedious character. Her soporific delivery is more suitable to a meditation tape set to the background of some whales weeping and shit than to a sci-fi show.

I'm also grateful we managed to get through an episode featuring Kes WITHOUT her letting out a spine-chilling scream worthy of a Hitchcock horror flick. Instead, it was Seven's turn to go apeshit when she started attacking the brig's forcefield.

Could also have done without Tuvok's mind-meld nonsense.

Good bye, Kes; we hardly knew thee... - and just as well!
Lt. Yarko
Thu, Jun 20, 2013, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
I totally agree that this is a terrible goodbye to Kes. I admit that I didn't give a crap that Neelix and Kes joined the group in the first place (I’m not really sure why they did – I guess they had nothing better to do in their own part of space), and I didn’t like at all what the producers did with the characters. I really feel bad for the actors who played them. What thankless roles. But, yeah, the lack of poignant closure between Kes and Neelix and Kes and the doctor is totally unforgivable.
Sun, Jul 28, 2013, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
I'm watching the series for the first time, marathon-style thanks to Netflix. I was very sorry to see Kes go. Her telepathy alone coud have given rise to many interesting plots, but what I really liked about her was her relationship with the doctor. I was terribly disappointed when we got "time to say goodbye to the doctor.... Oh wait I have to go RIGHT NOW or the ship will blow up!"

I was glad to see at least a little closure with Neelix. As a woman, I can understand why she did not want to get more specific about why she broke up with him. It would only hurt him.

I like that she wasn't killed off and that she was able to propel them forward. I wish her storyline would have gotten more time. I can't help but feel a bit of resentment toward the Seven character. I hope I get over that as it appears from comments here that she becomes prominent. My fave characters are Janeway, the Doctor, Chakotay and Paris (though many seem to revile the latter). It's a shame that it seems two of them will get shortchanged.

Hopefully I will enjoy what's left anyway because, despite what all those people on AV club told me about the show being awful, I'm finding I like Voyager.
Dave in NC
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
Just watched this last night . . . an enjoyable episode overall. I enjoy episodic continuity so it is nice to see a forward progression with the character and the plot. Kes's good-bye seemed rushed and came off as a slight to the character. I could tell Jennifer Lien wasn't really enjoying acting out those scenes with her replacement in sickbay.

I did like the scene with Kes and Janeway's farewell, but I couldn't help but feel like it was actually about Lien being fired from the show.

Something else I noticed: Kate Mulgrew seems very irritated and unperky throughout much of this episode. There is a scene with her, the Doctor and Tuvok in which she makes some very un-Janeway like facial expressions . . . I honestly felt like Mulgrew did not want to be filming that day and they went with the best take they had. Also, it was quite obvious they had to cover up the bags under Mulgrew's eyes with lots of make up. (Whether this has to do with Lien's departure is another matter entirely).

I think there was a LOT going on behind the scenes of the filming of this episode and it leaked onto the screen . . . I don't know if that makes it a good episode or not, but I can definitely say that this episode made me think more about the characters (and the real people who play them) then any other episode of Trek I've ever seen.
Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
I've always felt that Kes' telepathy was irrelevant. Her story really was the short Ocampan lifespan. We should have seen her go through an entire life: have her grow up, grow old and die over the course of the series. But they kept backing away from Kes' short lifespan, as if it was a story problem to be corrected rather than a story opportunity. Kes should have been changing rapidly, as a month for her would be like a year for a human. I think 7 of 9 did have some good stories, but she was blatant "eye candy". They seemed to try to make Kes more eye candy as well, but while she was very, very cute, I felt that long hair made Kes look somewhat ordinary. If Kes didn't develop, it's because the writers didn't let her develop. They didn't let her grow up, they didn't let her get old, so she couldn't really change.
Wed, Apr 9, 2014, 10:17am (UTC -5)
Agree with most of the comments here. Kes' developing mental powers and her lifespan issues would have been a gold mine of potential story. It's complete BS that the character had "run it's course".

By Season 4 it's a complete travesty that Neelix didn't end up with a gold uniform and Kes with a blue one. They were clearly going in that direction and backed off.

Any time one of the arcs they were planning for the characters changed up the status quo too much they ran away from it.

Although Piller made mistakes on Voyager (who's perfect) the things he planned for the characters/series over the course of seven years could have been really, really interesting.

I'd have loved to see Chakotay as a single father, what Suder could have done as a recurring guest star, Kes become an elderly nurse by season 7 (or perhaps even a doctor), Neelix a junior officer and what would have happened if we had kept Piller's early vision of Janeway instead of the moralizing shrew we ended up with.

Honestly I really like Seven of Nine, Jeri Ryan knocked it out of the park so hard it's damned near impossible not to, but what we got in this tradeoff (a neutered Chakotay/Harry Kim fading into the background, losing Kes, Neelix never really amounting to anything, destroying Janeway etc.) I don't think it was worth it.

Hell, they were too scared to even let the doctor finish his S1 arc of picking a name. So much frustration rewatching VOY S1/S2 and realizing that it won't ever live up to all that untapped potential. And it EASILY has the best S1 of any modern Star Trek show... so it really could have.
Wed, Apr 9, 2014, 10:19am (UTC -5)
I know Harry Kim had just gotten one of People's hottest young stars or whatnot and so they axed Kes instead, but seriously... they don't ever do ANYTHING with him ever again. So it's a true loss that they picked her to go.
Sat, Apr 12, 2014, 10:21am (UTC -5)
A touching episode.
Sat, Apr 12, 2014, 6:21pm (UTC -5)
It was pretty nice to see our new Borg friend develop into human being, along with the moral issues it brought. It is just a shame that in the end we are presented to such a rushed development: Seven of Nine becomes magically cooperative and almost fully human. It would have been much better to keep her development slower trough the next episodes. Maybe even still not hair for a while, wwhy not? I agree with those who have said that this episode should have focused on her, instead of letting Kes go at the same time. It was distracting.

By the way, of course Kes was a character with huge potential for development due to her mind abilities and different aging. However, let's face it: her character was always dealt with very poorly. From her relationship break up with Neelix, which has to be one of the worstly handled character situation ever in Trek, to now her going without us seeing her goodbye neither to Paris nor to The Doc! Oh gosh, it is really good that she was dropped from the show. Her whole presence was a total mess from begining to the end.

Overall, Seven of Nine saves the episode and gives me new hope for good character development.
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 9:34am (UTC -5)
Personally I don't really believe the myriad of reasons for the departure of Kes. To me it seems clear that they just replaced one hot female with another. I don't buy for a second that they were considering having both of them on the show.

It's just odd that it was so transparent that the new character was introduced at the exact same time she leaves.

That aside, atleast I found her storyline in this episode quite a satisfying conclusion to the character at this point.
Dave in NC
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
As much as I enjoy Harry and Tom's bromance, let's face it: Kes (Jennifer Lien) was a better character (and better actor) than Harry Kim (Garrett Wang).

Her character deserved more than a creepy pseudo-pedophilic relationship with Neelix and refilling hyposprays in Sickbay. With a life span that short, there was an endless amount of possible "aging/maturing" story lines they could have followed.

And that doesn't even include all the potential outcomes of her mental powers!

Truly a waste.
Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 7:40am (UTC -5)
A very bi-polar episode that somehow manages to have both plots mirror and clash at the same time. The two stories, with some quality writing, could have been separate episodes by themselves. As it is, it's pretty good, albeit a bit rushed.

The plot concerning Seven's slow reintegration into humanity was excellently handled with fantastic performances and pitch-perfect dialogue. Right off the bat, Jeri Ryan proves a formidable addition to the cast in her ability to convey her character's obvious inner turmoil. The loss of safety and security from losing her connection to the collective is understandably a near impossible internal struggle between extreme loneliness and her emerging childhood memories. Very good stuff indeed.

The oft under utilized Kes also has some great parts concerning her final moments on Voyager. The scenes between her and Janeway were especially poignant and handled admirably. Unfortunately, this is also where the episode shows most where the dual-plotted nature hurts it. The idea of her rapidly improving psionic powers didn't bother me in the slightest. It was mentioned in "Scorpion, Part 1" and this all may have been related to the Undine's influence. But some additional screen time may have, and should have, allowed for some further explanation of what's happening plus some more interplay with others concerning her departure. However, as it is with real life, we don't always get opportunities to say goodbye to loved ones.

Bi-polar or no, it's a quality addition to the series that I seemingly enjoyed more than most on here and, behind-the-scenes politics aside, the episode works on its own merits.

3.5 stars.
Fri, Sep 26, 2014, 9:28am (UTC -5)
An issue with this episode, subtly affecting both plots (although the Kes story less), is that it felt like the ship was already well-clear of Borg territory (that it was a lot smaller than taking years to cross), suggesting that it wasn't would have increased the drama and the meaningfulness of the gift.
Thu, Oct 16, 2014, 7:51pm (UTC -5)

"The Okampa live for 9 years. Kes could have remained for the entire series. This would have been a problem only if Voyager had a ninth season."

In that eventuality they could have bumped her off in the seventh year and she would have been on the show for only seven of nine seasons.
Fri, Oct 17, 2014, 8:47am (UTC -5)

Ocampans were proven to live much longer than 9 years (Cold Fire).

But I agree, her "lifespan" shouldn't have been an issue kicking her off the series. It could have actually enhanced the character.
Tue, Nov 18, 2014, 10:37pm (UTC -5)

"This is the point where Voyager became 'The Seven of Nine Show'."

Yeah, tune in every week at 8:53!
Tue, Nov 18, 2014, 10:48pm (UTC -5)

I think your comment should have been directed to Stefan. You got that I was quoting his post, right?
Sat, Mar 28, 2015, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
One of the things that really bugs me is that there is absolutely NO interaction between Kes and The Doctor considering her departure.
Neelix got one. Janeway got one. Tuvok got one. Doc didn't get anything other the one line where Kes mentions she has to tell him about her leaving and how he won't take it lightly, but then her powers kick in and we never see him respond to her departure.
I was always bothered by that. Kes has a special friendship with him, helping him develop his personality subroutines and she was the first to consider him just as important as any other crewmember and not treat him like a piece of complex technology.
So when the time comes to leave, you'd think they'd put aside a minute or 2 to reflect on their friendship of the past 3 years and give each other a heartfelt goodbye. But nope, nothing. Doc was completely left out in that regard.

On a completely unrelated note, I did like seeing how Voyager slowly but surely lost its Borg modifications over the course of the episode. At the start, you see Voyager still having all kinds of BOrg nodes and implants across various sections of the ship and then they gradually reduced it until at the end of the episode, they only had some minor changed left to make. Pretty clever how they subtly worked that in, showing you the changes slowly. Kudos for that.
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 12:11am (UTC -5)
Coincidentally, Bob, you referred to this episode as the show's "shark-jumping moment"--the phrase "jump the shark" was coined from a moment in the show "Happy Days" when a water-skiing Fonzie jumps over a shark. This episode of Voyager was directed by Anson Williams, who played Potsie on "Happy Days."
Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 10:30am (UTC -5)
I think it's tough to really identify a "shark-jumping" moment for Voyager because it was so inconsistent as a series. While Seven did eventually become overused, she was in fact one of the most interesting characters on the show and many of the episodes focused on her were actually pretty good. But from Day 1, Voyager was capable of producing a fantastic episode one week and a thoroughly laughable clunker the next. I can't really pinpoint any particular episode of Voyager and say "it was all downhill after that" or any single change or development that led to a series of consistently bad episodes.
Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 10:23am (UTC -5)
Well, we know that Braga came up with the idea of a "borg babe" and we got 7 of 9 out of that "inspiration". Only 9 can remain because of funding reasons so someone has to go.

The 7 side of the story was outstanding. 7's new troubles, Janeway's new "motherly" type duties, etc. All very well done and Jeri does VERY well bringing us the 7 character.

I don't know what's up with these Voyager writers and Kes. First they completely blow off the Kes/Neelix break-up and now she doesn't get some good-bye screen time with the doctor? Come on man. Hell, it would have made more sense to have the doctor escort her to the shuttle bay anyways...

Seven replaces Kes, but Seven's existence outside the collective wasn't possible without Kes and her newly surfacing powers. So basically Jenifer enabled Jeri to take her place in the ensemble. Kind of ironic.

We all know about Garret and his celebrated good looks and we've heard this is why they kept Harry, but I'm not so sure. She had issues with her ears and the long hair removed the young/tinkerbell look. Also, look at Kes(Jennifer) in season 1 & 2; she's a healthy young woman. Then look how her looks progress in season 3. Especially how she looks in that swim suit on the holo-deck. Knowing what we know now about her drug/mental problems, I would say it's safe to assume that she had drug issues. Being that skinny isn't healthy. So sad, I really hope Jennifer gets the help she needs.

I find it hard, once you get attached to a character, not to feel something when they depart. It's always been about the characters in Trek for me and I am always sad to see one go. I'm also sure that Kate felt the same way about Jen. Jen was just a baby when she took the role, and I'm sure Kate took her under her wing and felt responsible for her. It must have hurt Kate to see her go. I read somewhere they edited the tears out when Janeway and Kes hug before her departure.

But Kes does go out on a high note, she saves 7's life and propels Voyager out of Borg space. Not a bad send off if you have to go.

I will miss her.

3.5 stars for me.
Sun, Dec 27, 2015, 8:03am (UTC -5)
Our new borg addition summed up Janeway in a few short sentences: Hypocritical and manipulative. No different than the borg. Wow. She hasn't been on the ship but a few days and she's already hip to that. I watched this one right after watching Prey. Seven's outbursts in BOTH eps were right on the money.

I can't say when this show really jumped the shark. The fact that it became standalone-driven since S3 makes it hard to say since they reset the clock every new ep. We do get some great standalones (Living Witness, Remember) and some horrible ones (Threshold, Course: Oblivion) but the format itself makes it harder to pinpoint when things went bad. So many eps from the last seasons could have been switched with earlier eps and no difference would have been made.

We lose an Ocampan yet gain a Borg. Why not keep both? Sometimes I think the writers just spin a dial and where it lands that's the unlucky sod getting the shaft. Both Martha Hackett and Jennifer Lien's characters at least showed more growth than can't-get-a-lock Kim yet they choose to keep him? No character development at all in 7 years. In a short timespan Seska changed quite a bit. And she was always interesting onscreen. Kes was clearly growing and maturing as a character herself. Meanwhile Kim remained the same resident dork who still couldn't get a lock from Caretaker to Endgame. meh.

A hello, goodbye episode. 3 stars because it did have an impact from this ep on so it makes it an important one. Hello Seven of Nine, welcome to the family :) Goodbye Kes, we loved you and miss you :(
Diamond Dave
Mon, Feb 8, 2016, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Along with Janeway and the Doctor I felt that Kes was the only other character generating really compelling story ideas in series 3. It's rare that I actually get irritated by an episode, but the arbitrary way Kes gets written out here is not a high point. Apart from the super-power new planes of reality ridiculousness of it all it's not even explained. What the hell IS going on here? I don't suppose we'll ever know.

There are hints in the Seven story that this is going to become increasingly compelling, but at this point it's mostly just a shouty "return us to the Borg" type situation. 2 stars.
Thu, Feb 25, 2016, 6:21am (UTC -5)
The comments about the casting changes are interesting. I guess people just don't want to believe historical fact.

They wanted to bring in Ryan, and due to budgets had to cut one of the cast. Wang was the choice (and a good one as his character as we all know was about the most generic in trek history). He got that People Mag Beautiful People mention, so they decided to keep him in hopes it gets them viewers. So, who do they release.. well, Kes was the least crucial to the show in their opinion so off she goes. I would have gassed Neelix, and I think a lot of fans would have chosen him too so the powers got it wrong on that whole thing.

It is what it is my fellow fans.

I do laugh how they put Seven in HEELS in the outfit in this episide. Yeah, you want her to look sexy, and she would have looked just as incredible in flats. It was so out of place to put a science officer on a starfleet vessel on a show that is part action, into heels. I think we can all agree the rest of her would have looked the same from the ankles up to the head if she were in flats so the people in charge didn't need the heels. Seemed silly to me at the time when I first saw the show, and it still seems silly now. I don't know about anyone else, I know for me that I wasn't looking at her footwear when she was on screen.

Sun, Apr 10, 2016, 8:14am (UTC -5)
"Closing the episode is a fabulous tracking shot of Tuvok alone in his quarters holding a candle. It's poignant and visually impressive. The special effects enhance the meaning: just one person who will ponder the fate of his friend."

Amazing scene. I like to think that he placed the lamp against the porthole so that Kes could see its light, from wherever she was. He missed her.
Sun, May 1, 2016, 12:52am (UTC -5)
Yes, the closing shot was great. I don't always agree with Jammer, but he nailed it in every aspect of this review.

The material with Seven was very well done. But I don't see why Lien had to leave. And it comes across as especially obvious and clumsy that Kes went kablooey, and then the very next scene, Seven's stabilized, human look (with hair and two eyes) is unveiled for the first time. Why couldn't they have both been on the show for a few more episodes, to help make it not look so blatant and obvious?

Agree with Bryan and Nancy that skipping the Doctor's goodbye was especially uncool. Particularly since that scene of unveiling Seven heavily features the Doc, crowing about what a great job he did with her look. Jarring to see no reaction from him, given how close they had been.

And although I'm not a woman, I agree with Nancy that the interaction between Kes and Neelix was handled well (so I guess I do disagree with Jammer on that one point). That was very realistic, I think. She is struggling to explain "it was just..." and Neelix inserted the joke about his cooking, I think, as almost a hint that he didn't really want her to spell out how it was exactly that he didn't cut it for her.

And Nancy, I do think Voyager gets unfairly panned. I'm finding it's quite good to go through selectively, watching roughly half the episodes based on ratings here and on other sites, as well as a friend's recommendation. I imagine you've probably finished by now (three years later), and I look forward to reading your feedback on subsequent episodes. :)

FlyingSquirrel is absolutely right that you can't find a "shark jump" moment in this show, because it was so uneven all the way through.
Sun, Aug 14, 2016, 8:24pm (UTC -5)
I have to say I hate episodes where a character leaves by "transcending." In this case it was way too sudden, too. It should have taken at least three episodes between the time Kes got the power to warp matter and her leaving the ship. It's much easier to accept when you do things gradually.

They had never really used her character as well as they could. Once Kes became a beautiful mature woman, I expected better storylines involving her, but not much really happened.

Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
George Monet
Thu, Sep 15, 2016, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
I never liked this episode both because we lost Kes and because the series did such a bad job addressing the moral implications of ignoring the free will of Seven of Nine. The episode basically said that since the Federation believes that the Borg are an immoral culture then it was ok for Janeway to deny Seven of Nine the ability to make her own decisions. However this contradicts the Prime Directive which tells Starfleet that it cannot act based on judgements Starfleet personel make about a society's culture. But that is exactly what Janeway is doing. Seven of Nine is an adult, she isn't under compulsion and she is in her right mind. Janeway could not morally deny Seven of Nine the ability to choose her own fate just because Janeway viewed the Borg as immoral and didn't agree with Seven's choice to return. But that choice wasn't Janeway's to make, it was Seven's.

I really wish it was Neelix who had been given the boot. For all the good scenes he gets, he gets 10 more that make me hate his character as Neelix is usually a very petty, insensitive and small man. His jokes miss and he doesn't have anything to contribute to Voyager's journey. The amount of energy needed to produce the agricultural products from the hydroponics bay and to teleport or transport goods from a planet's surface to Voyager is probably much greater than the energy needed to simply replicate the food.
George Monet
Thu, Sep 15, 2016, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
"Well, we know that Braga came up with the idea of a "borg babe" and we got 7 of 9 out of that "inspiration". Only 9 can remain because of funding reasons so someone has to go."

Do you mean babe as in hot girl or babe as in baby because Voyager eventually got both. Although the baby just sort of disappears the episode after they bring it on board and is never heard of again, "maybe Ensign Wildman is taking care of her".
Tue, Oct 4, 2016, 10:40am (UTC -5)
The Borg baby is supervising the Equinox crew who are building shuttles for Chakotay to crash.
Thu, Nov 3, 2016, 7:09am (UTC -5)
You must be right. I'm watching the series for the 3rd time and I've never noticed that Seven was wearing heels!
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 1:12am (UTC -5)
I've never really understood all the vitriol that Voyager gets and I think it's good entertainment. However I do have to echo some former posters' sentiments that this episode basically seemed to be about Jennifer Lien being let go. I've heard all about the by now infamous story about Garrett being the person who was originally supposed to go, but then People magazine stepped in and so forth. I've never understood why Neelix was never on the chopping block. That character was obnoxious to the point of grating every time he showed up on the screen and he was just a very annoying character in general, mean-spirited and irritating, especially in the earlier seasons, where he was practically unbearable. I'm sure Ethan Phillips is a lovely person but man I hated that character.

Harry Kim on the other hand was an okay character imo and I've also never really gotten why he gets so much flack. I agree that his character didn't show much growth, but that seems to be the writers' and directors' fault, not Wang's or the characters. From what I heard Wang apparently clashed heads with Admiral Berman fairly early on in the series which basically sealed his fate. It's fairly easy to google and he's been very vocal about his lack of character growth. For my part I thought he did a good job with what he was given and he had good comedic timing and great chemistry alongside Paris and Torres. I've been rewatching the series and there are a lot of S1-S2 moments where him and Torres bounce off each other really well, with B'lanna affectionately nicknaming him 'Starfleet' and making fun of the fact that he's so obviously fresh out of the academy and innocent of the world, as it were. Pity they didn't show more small moments like this, but it is what it is.
Fri, Jan 20, 2017, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
For what it's worth... I too liked Wang and what they seemed to be doing with him in the first season. But after 2 more years of basically nothing happening with him, and Kes being one of the most alien aliens that Trek ever did... I was pissed about this choice.

And I liked Neelix.

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