Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Barge of the Dead"


Air date: 10/6/1999
Teleplay by Bryan Fuller
Story by Ronald D. Moore & Bryan Fuller
Directed by Mike Vejar

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Tell me what you want from me!"
"We don't want anything from you, B'Elanna. We only want you."

— Torres' battle of the self

Nutshell: Surprisingly powerful. The best Torres show in years, and among the series' best installments.

First, we must note the interesting coincidence of the week. If you look at the first three episodes of seasons four, five, and six, you might notice the weird parallel: First episode, Janeway-heavy show; second episode, Seven show; third episode, Torres show.

But I don't mean to get lost in trivialities, because "Barge of the Dead," a potentially routine episode that came billed as an hour about "Klingon hell," turns out to be an unexpectedly powerful character development episode. Yes, that's right. Character development—on Voyager. Finally, here's a B'Elanna episode that makes sense. After the way last season had no idea where the character was going or why, this episode gives me hope; it successfully reaches into the thoughts and identity of the multidimensional B'Elanna that intrigued me in the earlier seasons.

The story is ostensibly about a near-death experience Torres has while on a shuttle mission, but the creators go the extra mile and truly make the show about the character. I've long maintained that Torres has the potential, on a writer's good day, to be the series' most complex character. With the help of the always watchable and sometimes riveting Roxann Dawson, "Barge of the Dead" shows why.

The episode begins with B'Elanna escaping serious injury as she crash-lands a shuttle into the Voyager shuttle bay. Then weird things start to happen: The captain mistakenly calls her "Lanna" ("That's what my mother used to call me"). A piece of debris from a Klingon ship is found lodged in the shuttle's engine, and later B'Elanna hears distant screaming and watches as the metal fragment inexplicably oozes blood. Tuvok turns into what seems to be a Klingon cultural advocate, appears angry with B'Elanna and accuses her of detesting all things Klingon, then cuts her with a bat'leth during a strange demonstration.

These off-kilter events, of course, are not real; they are part of the "naj," or "the dream before dying," which ends with the noteworthy implicative sight of Klingon warriors slaughtering B'Elanna's shipmates right in front of her, during what was up to that point a jovial mess-hall celebration in the name of the Klingon Empire.

Suddenly, B'Elanna finds herself on the "barge of the dead," which we soon learn is the Klingon afterlife (according to legend). This barge sails for all eternity, transporting the recently deceased to Gre'thor (Klingon hell of eternal dishonor). B'Elanna has always dismissed this afterlife as simply myth—beliefs drilled into her by her mother when she was a child—but now she begins to think differently.

The ship is piloted by Kortar (Eric Pierpoint), the first Klingon who according to myth slaughtered the gods who created him and must forever pilot the barge as punishment. This sort of Klingon cultural information seems to emanate from the realm of Ron Moore, who has co-story credit on the episode, although the script itself was written by Bryan Fuller, who does a wonderful job turning this into a Voyager character episode.

I thoroughly enjoyed the production design; the barge has a convincing look and feel, and the lighting and effects supply plentiful hellish atmosphere. Voices scream from afar and lure Klingons to jump from the ship into the murky waters, where they are attacked by sea creatures. What does it mean when a dead Klingon gets eaten by a sea creature in the realm of the already dead? I honestly don't know, but what Klingon episode would be complete without an ominous, sincerely delivered line like, "There are things here worse than death"?

The story is only partially about Klingon spirituality. Much of it is about B'Elanna and her troubled past. While on the barge, she witnesses the arrival of her mother, Miral (Karen Austin). What is her mother doing here? Before she can find out, B'Elanna suddenly wakes up in sickbay, saved from a nearly fatal shuttle mission.

Needless to say, this is a disturbing experience for B'Elanna, who has spent her entire life resisting the Klingon afterlife mythology of Stovokor and Gre'thor. It prompts her to question her spirituality and priorities. There are some genuinely good dialog scenes here. One of the best is the Torres/Chakotay scene in Torres' quarters, where the big question comes up: "My whole life I've immersed myself in science and schematics, but what if it's time to start looking beyond that?" Chakotay's answers are nicely stated, too, voicing the reasonable possibility that B'Elanna's visit to the barge wasn't necessarily experienced through her death but was instead her subconscious pulling memories from her childhood beliefs.

Of course, it's hard to watch "Barge of the Dead" without revisiting the debated issue of religion in Trek. I think "Barge's" approach is even-handed and fair, and lets the viewer decide the validity and usefulness of the spiritual elements—and without being a ponderous mess the way third season's "Sacred Ground" was. Does Torres really die? Does her soul truly venture into the Klingon afterlife and back? You can make the call, but ultimately it doesn't matter because the story is a symbolic tale of the character's past and her journey of the self.

B'Elanna wants answers, and when she discovers that turning her back on Klingon ways is what resulted in her mother's dishonorable damnation, she decides to try to set things right by "going back" to the barge of the dead with the help of the Doctor, who can simulate the conditions that caused her first near-death experience.

This is of course met with the understandable skepticism, which the story addresses in the sensibly anticipated ways, with Janeway at first refusing to let her engineer risk her life for matters of the soul that can't simply be assumed as so easy to manipulate. The story's notion is itself making some assumptions; who is to say that B'Elanna can control anything in the afterlife, much less rescue her mother by essentially "cheating" in taking her place? I suppose it's all a matter of belief. If she "felt" the realism of afterlife the first time, perhaps she simply "knows" she can make changes from there. But Paris' response is a reasonable one; wouldn't exploring her spirituality in life ("Go to church or something?") be the more appropriate course of action? It's hard to even say what would be appropriate under circumstances that prove so personally troubling in a sci-fi/fantasy world.

B'Elanna's return to the barge is where a massive battle of the self begins. Saving her mother from the fate of Gre'thor is why B'Elanna chose to simulate another near-death experience, but that's not why she is here. She is here for a greater personal purpose—to confront her past, which has discordantly wound itself into her present and future as a person.

The episode is packed full of imagery, parallels, and symbols, but unlike last season's dreadful "The Fight," this is a show where the images grow out of the story and actually mean something, rather than existing for the sake of pointless atmosphere. There's symbolism here that makes a great deal of sense if you're willing to dissect it. (And even if you're not, the underlying events are still here and provide a perfectly solid story.)

First is the aforementioned annihilation fantasy where Klingons kill all of B'Elanna's friends. I won't overanalyze this point, but B'Elanna's tendency to repress her Klingon heritage certainly plays into the game, and there's dialog where she openly states that the only Klingon attributes she inherited were "the forehead and the bad attitude." These are the remarks of a conflicted individual uncertain and angry about her self-identity, and in the early stages of the "naj" when Tuvok confronts her for dishonorably disavowing her Klingon half, we realize B'Elanna's tortured dilemma.

Of course, the use of Tuvok in itself is interesting. Perpetually the antagonist within these scenes of introspection, Tuvok comes across as some sort of adversary that serves to attack Torres' sense of self-identity. We don't see all that much Tuvok/Torres interaction in general on the series, but this confrontational relationship is interesting. Deep down I get the sense that Torres suspects he's right; particularly during the early "naj" scenes we sense his remarks are hitting too close to home.

Naturally, a connection is also drawn between B'Elanna's mother and Janeway as maternal figures (the echoing of the line "request denied" and B'Elanna's mother wearing a captain's uniform provide nice touches). The idea makes sense given B'Elanna's circumstances of learning, adapting, and aiming to please, even if we must note that this means Janeway is a maternal figure to at least three characters on the show.

Perhaps most intriguing, however, is the particularly telling notion that once B'Elanna reaches Gre'thor, it turns out to be an eternal version of Voyager. "I don't consider Voyager hell," she says, but is she trying to convince herself? Does she hate where she is? Who she is? The idea that she'll be stuck in that place for 50 years? The story's stance seems to be that if Voyager is hell, it's because B'Elanna hasn't been able to do enough to make it more than that. She keeps everyone at "arm's length," says an image of Harry. "Even Tom, who you claim to love."

I suspect that a big part of her problem is in trying to live up to expectations when she isn't sure whether she's being true to herself in trying to meet such expectations that have been forced upon her. In a crucial scene on the barge, B'Elanna confronts images of her mother and her shipmates. She pleads with them: "What do you want?" Her mother responds, "Who are you asking?" B'Elanna doesn't know. She's probably asking everyone.

Just who is B'Elanna Torres? It's a question she needs to answer herself, rather than feeling compelled to exist as a functional unit for some organization or another person. In doing so, she needs to open herself to others. She generally won't let people see inside, and I see this quest as her own way of telling herself she should try.

Having B'Elanna's life hang in jeopardy through this near-death journey is milked for perhaps a bit of routine, unnecessary suspense, but in context it makes sense and provides the story with a way of taking the character through the journey she's found so difficult to travel. Even B'Elanna's choice to go through with the near-death simulation highlights her adamant tendency for total independence; Tom tries to convince her to find another way. "We'll figure this out—together," he pleads. "Next time," she says. She needs to do it alone.

As a quest of a character, this is all truly compelling stuff. Here's a person boxed inside herself by a deeply repressed identity crisis. Constantly trying to live up to the expectations of the moment, unsure of whether she's human, Klingon, Starfleet, Maquis, lover, daughter, a melding of some or all of the above, she has essentially cut off her private torment from those she is closest to. She finally admits to herself that she is tired of fighting. The lesson here, I think, is to embrace vulnerability to overcome it, rather than burying it under a tough, stubborn facade.

It's also interesting that B'Elanna's decision to simulate a near-death experience to save her mother is considered by her mother (or the image of her mother, rather) as choosing the "easy way." Digging deeper, this says to me that B'Elanna's turmoil runs so unconsciously deep that it requires her almost dying before she can at last fully confront it.

Essentially, this story reveals B'Elanna as a long-tortured, conflicted, private, complex character who is still looking to understand herself. The episode is about the growth she experiences only when she truly turns inward and confronts these tough questions. It's rare to get a character show where we feel we truly understand an individual with such complex layers, which is what makes this outing so special.

"Barge of the Dead" is punctuated by a wonderful visual sense—sometimes appropriately dark and creepy—and the typically compelling cinematics of director Mike Vejar. Noteworthy are the good transitional elements, like the thoughtful way B'Elanna stares at the cut on her hand from one scene to the next, pondering its meaning; or the way B'Elanna is physically attacked (repeatedly "killed") with a bat'leth—usually by Tuvok—used as the story's way of switching from one plane of the apparent afterlife to another. And the bigger theatric gestures I thought worked well too. In particular, the use of the bat'leth as a consistent device, especially when B'Elanna finally hurls it into the sea, proves nicely symbolic.

"Barge" comes together as the best overall episode of Voyager in nearly a year, if not longer—and one of the series' best. It's a story that understands its central character and puts her through a wringer where she learns and grows, all the while remaining true to who the character overall has been (excluding some of the fifth-season schizophrenia, of course).

I guess the next question is whether we'll see any change in B'Elanna in the future because of the events of this episode. Such events certainly invite change, but I of course don't expect ongoing continuity these days on Voyager. This episode comes billed as a "first step" for B'Elanna accepting who she is and deciding who she lets into her life. I'd like it to be a first step and not the last. This episode can stand on its own as a great episode, but it also shows what kind of potential this series' characters can have if they're permitted to be believable people who change.

"Barge of the Dead" is a hugely successful thought piece. I hope it can ultimately become even more than that.

Next week: Says the trailer, "Fascination II: The Voyager Version." Kill me now. But wait ... such an episode might be my Gre'thor.

Previous episode: Survival Instinct
Next episode: Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy

Season Index

49 comments on this review

Brendan - Fri, Oct 5, 2007 - 11:59pm (USA Central)
Ron Moore's only Voyager episode is one of the best. You can see the DS9/BSG quality here.
Gretchen - Sun, Oct 28, 2007 - 9:33am (USA Central)
Don't forget the great work he did for TNG, too.
Brendan - Mon, Oct 29, 2007 - 4:44pm (USA Central)
Yeah, but his style hadn't really evolved to what it is today in his TNG days. In some ways, his new style is informed by a sort of rejection of the formulaic standard of TNG.
max - Thu, Nov 22, 2007 - 11:51pm (USA Central)
What's that supposed to mean?
Jammer - Fri, Nov 23, 2007 - 8:29am (USA Central)
Actually, to nitpick, Moore's only full writing credit for VOY was on "Survival Instinct." He only got story co-credit on this one.
Brendan - Fri, Nov 23, 2007 - 7:10pm (USA Central)
Yeah I noticed that afterward - still I think his imprint shows here.
David Forrest - Thu, Feb 7, 2008 - 2:49pm (USA Central)
I defintely agree---this is one of my favorite episodes. Also one of the best Klingon episodes---it was originally Moore's story from DS9 (much better than "Soldiers of the Empire")---but lets give credit to Fuller's teleplay which is excellent.
Ospero - Thu, Feb 7, 2008 - 10:46pm (USA Central)
Yup. Agreed with all of the above. I especially liked the sequences aboard the titular Barge and B'Elanna's Gre'thor vision (the "Eternal Voyager"). I usually have no particular liking for Klingon Klaptrap, but this episode managed to overcome that dislike.

Besides, seeing the crew carved to pieces by the Klingons (the scene in the casino) was fun.
Damien - Thu, Mar 26, 2009 - 7:47am (USA Central)
While I did mostly enjoy this episode, it isn't one of my favourites. I love B'Elanna as a character and Roxann can do no wrong in my book, however, I really can't get excited about Klingons, their culture, warrior yadda, honour yadda, yadda. They're only marginally more interesting than the Ferengi!

Also, I find it hard to swallow that Janeway would allow a key member of her crew to allow herself to be nearly killed on purpose just to satisfy some delusion she experienced while being near death originally. Janeway should have stuck to her guns and not changed her mind.
Nick - Wed, Apr 29, 2009 - 12:18pm (USA Central)
This is a better episode than I remember... I just find it overly cliche- especially the ending. By throwing the bat'leth over the edge she takes her first step towards freedom? Freedom from what? Sure, she's always had a bad attitude but she's a ray of sunshine compared to Worf or any other Klingon we've ever run into. As tired as I've gotten of Voyager's happy endings have some denoument to experience would be nice too. Still, it's way better than many Voyager episodes. This and Survival Instinct do give us an idea of what Voyager would've been like with Ron Moore being involved... shame it never came to be.
Ken Egervari - Wed, Dec 9, 2009 - 4:08am (USA Central)
For once, I totally disagree with this review. There episode was nothing short of boring. I don't feel anything, and I didn't want to finish it. It's not that I don't commend the writers for 'trying' to make real character changes (even if they will never be acknowledged)... it's just that the changes themselves lack so much weight.

The *only* good moment in the episode is when Torres hugs the captain at the end of the show. We get a sense of what the experience meant to B'Elanna. Still, the experience was so boring and pointless and was going, "What? You threw a batleth in the ocean and you are suddenly better?" And we are supposed to believe that this has cured her anger issues or something? Ugh.

Even after the hug... there was scene missing at the end. There was something needed to cement these changes into her character... like a talk with the captain... or chakotay... or something. It just didn't end at the right spot.

Ultimately though, I was bored out of mind for the first 3/4 of the episode. The intro was not catchy either, nor was I in "suspense" or clueless as to what was going on.
Jeffrey - Mon, Dec 14, 2009 - 5:25pm (USA Central)
This was an episode I didn't care for, personally. I didn't feel there was anything new being presented in regards to Klingon culture. I realize the point was not regarding whether or not B'Elanna's visions were real, but for me to care I need to know. 'Cause if this was merely some kind of a dream, I'd rather they featured B'Elanna in a story affecting her in the real world.

This, to me, was just another example of a Voyager crewmember acting selfishly (in my opinion) rather than considering his/her obligations to the ship, and the seemingly constant support by Janeway and company to indulge these crewmembers in their crazy personal pursuits whatever they may be.
Ken Egervari - Mon, Dec 14, 2009 - 5:54pm (USA Central)
I agree. The whole scene where Janeway and B'Elanna are arguing... I just felt like, "who cares?" We know how ridiculous the argument sounds... and we know it's outcome. Of course, to move the plot, Janeway has to capitulate to B'Elanna. There is no other outcome. God forbid Janeway says no... and the episode ends right there.
Michael - Wed, Jul 7, 2010 - 8:14am (USA Central)
Oh my freaking god...

What's this show about? Torres "finding" herself, and her inner conflict. Am I human or am I Klingon? Am I valiant or a coward? Why did mom and dad split up? Why did I have such a troubled relationship with my mother?


Acoushla Moya to Torres: "How are you feeling?"
Torres: "Erm, a little out of place."
Acoushla: "Would you like to talk about it?"

NO, SHE GODDAMN WELL WOULDN'T!!! Knock off a Beverly Crusher or Deanna Troi hologram, lie on a sofa in your quarters, and let them provide you with some goodass counseling... - OFF CAMERA! Spare the rest of us these preposterous, boring personal journeys of self-discovery and self-affirmation or whatever the hell this episode is meant to be about. Oh, you have a FEELING; why, let's TALK AAAAAAAAAALL about it, and then at the end we'll have a group hug a nice cup of cocoa. Thank crap Acoushla Moya didn't decide to go on one of his buffalo-seeking trips, too.

I mean, get a load of this shit:
Torres: "The sins of the child. [My mother]'s being punished for my dishonor. I turned my back on everything Klingon and now she has to pay the price."

Paris: B'Elanna, you can't even be sure your mother is dead, much less blame yourself for what happens to her in some afterlife.

Torres: "Look at this. The 11th tome of Klavek. It's a story about Kahless returning from the dead... 'Still bearing a wound from the afterlife.' A warning that what he experienced wasn't a dream. The same thing happened to me. [...] And the only reason Kahless was in the afterlife to begin with was to rescue his brother from the barge of the dead and deliver him to Sto-vo-kor. [...] Don't you see? I have a chance to rescue my mother if I can accept responsibility for her dishonor before she passes through the gates of Gre'thor. I have to go back [to the mystique afterlife phantasm]."

Imagine how ludicrous it would be if a human crew member started talking about Moses or Methuselah or King David like that!!

If one of the most important senior officers on my spaceship began spouting off this kind of moon-man talk, I'd put her in a shuttle, disable the shuttle's navigation systems and launch it in the opposite direction from the one I was traveling in.

Psychological introspection, spiritual nonsense, references to "sacred" texts and their interpretation. Sorry but FOUR stars!!? This junk doesn't deserve even a half!!

(Yes, I'm slightly peeved! LOL)
Procyon - Sun, Sep 19, 2010 - 6:37pm (USA Central)
Personally I thought this episode was simply fantastic. The above criticism flies right over my head.

I usually dislike the klingon tripe as well, but in this episode it's just a veneer covering surprising depths, and the execution is flawless.
Cloudane - Thu, Feb 10, 2011 - 6:02pm (USA Central)
The only thing that set me on a poor attitude with this episode (and thus skewed my view of it) was the glaringly obvious "welp, DS9’s just ended, we'd best force feed some Klingon-ness into Voyager so we can bring the Klingon Episodes there" from the writing staff. And so I viewed it primarily as a way of changing B'Ellana into the Klingon cultured person she has until now avoided being. It grates with its obviousness.

Other than that and trying to look at it purely for itself and not for what the writers wanted to achieve with the character, it was an entertaining story and worth the unusual trip into character development (on Voyager, goodness me)
Ken - Thu, Feb 10, 2011 - 6:14pm (USA Central)
One of the big problems I have with this episode is that the writers force the characters to behave in ways that are totally out of character. The characters are just tools to "tell the story the writers want to tell". I don't think the characters are real and are involved in their story at all.

I don't buy it that B'Elanna would be interested in her Klingon rituals/upbringing.

But more over, I don't think the captain would agree to something that could potentially kill her chief engineer. This is absolutely stupid.

Janeway and B'Elanna have this argument that we already know B'Elanna is going to win. And the thing is, I strongly disagree with the way it played out!

But of course, only on Voyager do we see this - a show where the captain constantly lets her chief engineers and chief medical officers go off and do all of these risky things to cause death that will never bring them any closer to the alpha quadrant. Isn't that the point of this series? What would happen if they lost all of their chief officers?!

Janeway would/should never have allowed this. But the truth is... if Janeway ACTUALLY behaved in character, there wouldn't be an episode to tell.

Shame on the writers. Really, they are horrible at establishing premises that actually work and are logically well-thought out.
Nathan - Thu, Nov 10, 2011 - 7:23pm (USA Central)
I really could not get into this at all.
Ken - Thu, Nov 10, 2011 - 8:37pm (USA Central)
@Nathan: Agreed. I don't think I can ever bring myself to watch this episode again. I am at a loss as to how this episode got 4 stars.
Joe - Wed, Dec 28, 2011 - 12:44am (USA Central)
I'm astonished to see so many negative reviews for this episode. It was an outstanding character episode with great production values. Simply one of the best in Voyager history and even Star Trek. B'Elanna has always been one of my favorite characters but has received such precious little attention. Although she is central to a number of episodes, besides this one, only the early-season "Faces" comes to mind. Thus, as a later-season episode, "Barge of the Dead" perfectly bookends the B'Elanna character.
Jay - Fri, Mar 2, 2012 - 8:44am (USA Central)
I'm with Nathan and Ken...total shrug of an episode.
David H - Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - 10:11pm (USA Central)
As much as I disliked "Mortal Coil," that's how much I liked this episode. I think a lot of the negativity from other reviewers has more to do with issues of spirituality, and whether they belong in 'Star Trek.' It would be hard to fault the script, performances or production design.
Paul - Sun, Mar 18, 2012 - 11:14am (USA Central)
I agree with Max
Brendan, what the f*** did you mean?
Captain Jim - Fri, Apr 6, 2012 - 10:28pm (USA Central)
I've finally decided that Michael is simply a troll.
Bort - Thu, Apr 26, 2012 - 8:45pm (USA Central)
Gotta say, completely agree with Michael. This is easily one of my least favorite episodes. Stupid, boring, completely implausible storyline.
Justin - Sun, May 27, 2012 - 3:13pm (USA Central)
Captain Jim, agreed. He's just a Trek hating troll. Discovery of self is at the heart of every Trek series. If that's a concept you can't handle then Star Trek is not for you.

That being said, while I liked lthis episode a lot I still wouldn't give it 4 stars. More like a strong 3.5. Roxann Dawson did her usual fantastic job. She is possibly the most unsung actor in Star Trek history.
milica - Mon, Nov 12, 2012 - 3:27pm (USA Central)
matt - Wed, Dec 26, 2012 - 2:09pm (USA Central)
i think it would have been good had the ending not been so wishy washy. its like the set out to tackle themes of religion and the afterlife, but then chickened out at the very end and made it about self improvement.

Iron man - Wed, Jan 16, 2013 - 3:58pm (USA Central)
I fell asleep twice while attempting to make it thru this episode. True story. Zzzzzzzzz. Sucks donkey.
Somat - Sun, May 5, 2013 - 8:57pm (USA Central)
I don't get you people. This episode was boring as hell.
Kyle - Sun, Jun 2, 2013 - 2:10am (USA Central)
I don't think this episode was boring, but I don't think it was a masterpiece either. More like three star episode to me.
Nic - Mon, Jul 8, 2013 - 8:44am (USA Central)
This is probably the review that I most disagree with.
There are many Star Trek episodes that venture outside of the realm of sci-fi and into the realm of fantasy. But the literal existence of a “Klingon hell”, which anyone can go to with the Doctor’s convenient technobabble, took it one step too far.
The episode doesn’t even seem to play by its own rules. First, Miral says she doesn’t want to cheat her way into Sto-vo-Kor by having Torres be revived at the last second, but nevertheless that is exactly what happens (of course Torres couldn’t really die, but it could have been handled better). Then she says “maybe we’ll see each other again in the real world”, which implies that she's not actually dead. If that is the case, what was the point of all this? I'm still confused after several viewings.

However, I do commend the writers for focusing on the characters for once. The climactic scene (where Janeway says “We only want you”) was very well written and performed. It's just that ultimately doesn’t mean anything in the long run.

2 stars.
Jo Jo Meastro - Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 9:17am (USA Central)
Wow this episode seems to have divided a lot of people, which I can understand since spirituality stories tend not to agree with everyone. My personal appreciation for this episode is definitely among the same lines as the review.

It's just such a rich and appropriately raw spiritual inner journey for Toress, which is equally fascinating and emotional to watch. Not to mention that Klingon mythology has never felt so alive. The symbolism was beautifully done, it struck the balance between creepy and touching which made it all the more powerful.

I think the whole episode just had a wonderful life of its own and its easily up there with the classics. A firm 4 stars.
Jon - Sun, Jul 21, 2013 - 2:54am (USA Central)
I didn't like how at the end she hugged the captain and ignored Tom. Tom seems to get the shaft a lot in their relationship.

Also, Harry Kim is even a whiny bitch in Torres' dreams. It's late...whaaaa whaaa.
azcats - Fri, Aug 9, 2013 - 2:14pm (USA Central)
I understand why this one got 4 stars. as a character bit, it makes a lot of sense. you see growth....

and the whole time i kept thinking... Michael is gonna hate this!!!

however, i am not a fan of the klingon and ferengi centric episodes. the just dont "entertain me."

so..i give it a 2 star for entertainment.
Nancy - Sun, Aug 11, 2013 - 2:17am (USA Central)
I'm surprised that ths episode gets 4 stars. Most of it is a retread of conflicts and themes we've seen done elsewhere better. The whole "Klingon tradition" vs human sensibility had been done to death by this time thanks to Worf through both the TNG and DS9 series. Snooze.

As far as the "spiritual journey," Star Trek has never done religion well. It's either dismissed out of hand or used as a gimmick. This time the gimmick is Torres putting her life in jeopardy to redeem her mother in the afterlife. I was left shaking my head.

I appreciate the attempt to develop Torres, but as I said, this Klingon stuff is so old hat. My interest waned as soon as she woke up and started talking about restoring family honor and Stovokor. I've heard this tune before.

At least her experience wasn't due to a soul-sucking alien like Janeway a while back.

A positive: the barge set was well-done; very atmospheric without getting cheesy.
Niall - Thu, Sep 5, 2013 - 12:50pm (USA Central)
Love B'Elanna, love Klingon episodes, episodes that explore religion, and episodes that toy with reality and feature dream-within-a-dream scenarios etc, but I just couldn't take this seriously. It's ridiculous that they'd almost let B'Elanna die - and facilitate her almost doing so - just so she can pursue a near-death experience and try to rescue her mother from Klingon hell. It's an outright stupid scenario that should have been dismissed from the start and undermines the episode's entire drama. Further, I didn't feel this episode delivered on a character level. If anything it regressed B'Elanna - although this is season 6 of 7, the episode showed her dealing with issues she should have resolved in an earlier season and that we thought she indeed had. By this point in the series, B'Elanna seems professional and together and is even in a serious relationship - she seems comfortable with her heritage and her role on the ship. This episode unnecessarily and unconvincingly wound the clock back on her, suggesting that she still doesn't accept her Klingon heritage and that she pushes everyone away, when we've seen no evidence of either.
Kempt - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 4:59am (USA Central)
Notice how compliantly the doctor puts B'Elanna under without the slightest protest.


It's established that the doctor can overrule the captain on all medical matters, and that he follows the Hippocratic Oath of "first do no harm", but there wasn't even a discussion on how taking B'Elanna to the brink of death is not harmful compared to not doing so. This episode should've ended less than halfway through.

Full marks to Michael on his assessment.
Maxwell Anderson - Wed, Jan 1, 2014 - 5:06pm (USA Central)
I completely agree with Ken and others. The problem with this episode is that for one episode only, B'Elanna suddenly believes in the literal truth of Klingon religious texts, which is completely inconsistent with how her character has been established in earlier episodes. Now, I am willing to believe that her experience and interaction with her mother could force a change in her character, and that is in essence the challenge for the writers to take us on that journey, but they fail miserably. She just starts believing in it. We don't see her doubts slowly erode or her natural skepticism struggle against her need to deal with the guilt she feels for falling out with her mother. Her transformation is just far too fast, unexplained, and easy. This is a recurring problem with the writing on this show. Ronald D. Moore or no Ronald D. Moore, this episode stunk!
Cloudane - Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - 4:19pm (USA Central)
@Nancy "At least her experience wasn't due to a soul-sucking alien like Janeway"

Now now, I know Janeway can be a bit obnoxious at times, but she's not an alien
Ric - Sun, May 4, 2014 - 6:04pm (USA Central)
Silliness beyond acceptable.

First, because like many have pointed above, this was simply out of character. Yeah yeah, I know, a near-death experience usually makes people to get shacked up. But then, that's easy, huh? You just throw the near-death card and then you can artificially introduce character "changes" out of nowhere? Please. Torres becoming religious in a second? Haha. "A lot happened since the last time I saw you, I've changed". Yeah, a lot has happened: 5 minutes of episode have changed 5 years of character.

Even worse is the very sudden "wow, what if there is a heaven or a hell" and the "feeling guilty by my mom who I can't even know to dead". Oh my! The 21st centurish way religion was often dealt with in Star Trek (mostly in DS9) is infuriating. The dumb sudden way religious moments are introduced for very atheist characters, is oten poor and out-of-the-franchise. It comes as no surprise, however, that this sort of artificial "character conflict" receives 4 stars from Jammer, while other stellar episodes are rated with 2 stars or so. It is consistent to some absurdity he tolerated or even enjoyed in DS9's last seasons.

Last but not least, here we have again our captain agreeing with any sort of stupidity. And all one has to do is to now use the "you are like my mom" card. Holy teenager-soap-opera-crap. Then just at the following scene we have Paris claiming that he couldn't believe the captain allowed this craziness to go on, since Torres was in a coma just a second ago. Yeah Paris, pretty much nobody can either. By the way, these quick lines from Paris looked like they have come from a spiritual writer just whispering at the alive writers' ears: this is stupid, don't follow the silly road....... It is just a shame that they ended up not listening the sacred whispers themselves.

Anyway, now you guys, dreaming of writing Star Trek episodes yourselves, you already know that's an easy job. Whenever you want to create a fake character development out of a sudden, just introduce the magic beans.
Eli - Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - 8:23pm (USA Central)
I have to join the dissenters on this one. The Klingon after life appears unambiguously real to a maddeningly literal degree. Also, the ending does not benefit the episode in any way.

On the other hand, we are to interpret the Klingon after life as only a fabrication of her mind, we are given very little information with which to find any meaning in the episode.

For the record, I am usually a big fan of Klingon episodes.
Eli - Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - 8:26pm (USA Central)
I meant: On the other hand, if we are to interpret the Klingon after life as only a fabrication of her mind...
Nonya - Fri, Sep 5, 2014 - 11:33pm (USA Central)
I too love this episode. It had some meaningful dialogue and good visuals, and actually used the Torres character in an interesting way. It's a lot more fun than most of the Klingon stuff on DS9

I will say, though, that the ending was a bit too ambiguous. We're not sure if the afterlife stuff was real or not, and we're not exactly sure what lesson B'Elanna was supposed to have learned, other than a fairly generic "let go of your anger" sort of thing. And I wish that the Captain/Mother parallel was reasoned out a little more clearly.

However, I especially loved the quote Jammer mentioned and its delivery on the show. The show hinges on Torres' low valuing of herself: she's all too willing to risk death for her mother, doing so without hesitation, without realizing that there are so many people out there that love her and want her to live. Giving one's life doesn't mean anything at all if you don't value the life you have.
Xylar - Wed, May 20, 2015 - 8:08pm (USA Central)
I didn't care for it, for a very simple reason. I dislike any episode where the afterlife is depicted as actually existing and following the rules of whatever species they belong to. The afterlife isn't meant to be confirmed or denied. They seem to understand that in so many other Trek episodes. Even the one where Neelix suffers from a near death experience leaves him in doubt as to whether or not his version of the afterlife actually exists or not.
This one has too much detail and confirmation to be credible. You can't confirm or deny the existence of an afterlife. You can only hint at it. Any character development that follows in this episode was ruined for me, just because of this.

Silly concept, poorly executed, boring as hell (no pun intended).
Scubabadger - Mon, Jun 1, 2015 - 10:49am (USA Central)
@Xylar, I'm not sure anything in the episode explicitly confirms anything is real, it could all be a hallucination, medically induced or otherwise.
@ Michael - Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - 6:02pm (USA Central)
That sure is a lot of words to say "I am a petulant child who can't handle more than 5 minutes between explosions."
Cosette - Mon, Aug 3, 2015 - 11:32am (USA Central)
My question is - do they later establish that Miral is indeed dead? I always wondered that, but after rewatching B'Elanna talk to her father in Author Author, it seems the show might have subtlely established whether this was real or an halucination.
Anna - Sun, Nov 22, 2015 - 2:33pm (USA Central)
Whenever the klingon culture is the subject, the story will fail. I TRULY do not get how any intelligent fan can stomach it. First it's just a human culture ( and a boring one at that) - which is so uncreative given they are aliens. But despite all of Worf''s belching bout "honor", klingons come off as aggressive, irrational power hungry animals. Of course women have a very limited role (OF COURSE)... And yet, when an intelligent woman decides rather than join this brain dead, misogynist, archaic and very human way of thinking, she will become an accomplished engineer, and a valuable member of her community, and raise a sane family - she has defied the religion she is not allowed to ever, ever leave and her mother gets to go to hell... Clever... Like any fundamentalist religion, it is stupid and offensive to any thinking person.

So she has to die and go to hell to rescue her mother's "honor".... And what exactly has she done wrong to doom her mother to hell? NOTHING... She rejected the idiotic religion imposed on her, which I for one think is a good thing, but like all religions, that means burning in hell... Seriously, this is the premise here. It is so anti-thought, anti-reason it's scary. Star Trek should just burn witches - it's the same thing. And somehow we are to think there is honor or nobility in this garbage.

As for the "character"... come on! The actress is really talented - but to to all the klingon garbage all she gets to do is spout technobabble or gripe about the stupidest culture ever created that she's wise to reject... It is boring and they have done it and done it and done it with her character already. There was nothing new here. I fear the next Star Trek will be as bad as the old ones often were when this gets 4 stars from fans.

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