Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Lineage"

***1/2

Air date: 1/24/2001
Written by James Kahn
Directed by Peter Lauritson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Offspring can be disturbingly illogical, yet profoundly fulfilling. You should anticipate paradox." — Parental advice, Tuvok style

In brief: Some exceptionally good and believable character work, with an ending that falls a bit short.

"Lineage" is just about a perfect little straightforward character show for four acts before settling for some oversold melodrama at the last moment. For once, everything seems to be clicking — the dialog, the characters, the acting, the directing, the editing. The ending pushes too hard, but I guess you can't have everything.

Keeping in tune with what I hope is a final-season trend (evidenced this past fall by the marriage in "Drive"), this is an episode that shows the writers actually committing to a change in some of their characters. B'Elanna learns that she is pregnant, much to both her and Tom's surprise; despite their attempts, they weren't expecting to beat the odds against Klingon/human conception. But Doc has good news: B'Elanna is pregnant with a healthily developing baby girl.

Once this information floats around the ship, everyone is offering their advice on parenting. One theme Voyager has often pushed is one of a ship-bound "family." That's sort of the way it works here, with B'Elanna and Tom taking in information from their shipmates, the extended family that exists where traditional family cannot because of a 30,000-light-year separation.

One thing "Lineage" gets very right is its single-minded focus on what's important. This is a B'Elanna and Tom show, and the script demonstrates that it's aware of that fact. Compare this to "Shattered" last week, which wanted to be and could've been a standout Janeway/Chakotay show, but wasn't because the story was such an over-plotted mess with umpteen unnecessary characters. This time the writers get it right; the plot is straightforward and the story runs with characterization and decision-making. There are no unnecessary twists or distractions. With a premise that probably could've taken about a hundred obvious wrong turns, "Lineage" has the courage to take none of them.

Take, for example, the interaction between the characters, of which there is plenty. There's a short scene here between Paris and Tuvok. It's a scene that makes a great deal of sense and works because it respects the characters and the sincerity that would likely arise from such a discussion. Without being an ultra-serious message moment, this Paris/Tuvok scene manages to avoid poking any obvious jokes at Tuvok's overly serious Vulcan sensibility — something this series has had a tendency to do. Instead, it remembers that Tuvok is a parent and simply has Tom take the prudent action of asking for Tuvok's advice. The scene ends with a nice Vulcan-like line of advice about raising children. It's an effective line because it reveals the truth in the characterization and is played with a note of simple pleasantness and sincerity.

Or take the Janeway scene, once the show's main conflict between Tom and B'Elanna arises. B'Elanna wants Janeway to act as captain in a personal disagreement. Janeway will not. She tells them they must work it out themselves. Her dialog is level-headed and fair. Good for her.

Or take the Harry Kim scene, where the writers have him say just enough without saying too much. Harry knows to help out a friend and give him some advice. But he knows when to pull back and stay out of things, simply telling Tom that until B'Elanna cools down, "My couch is your couch."

Why are Tom and B'Elanna in disagreement? That's actually where the core of the episode becomes evident: B'Elanna wants to tamper with her baby's genes and remove Klingon biological traits, like redundant organs. This would also have the effect of giving the baby a human appearance. She argues her position to the Doctor by saying her baby's health would benefit and is the primary issue, but Tom sees right through this argument and calls her on it flat-out: "You don't want her to look Klingon."

He's right, though it goes much deeper than that. "Lineage" has a flashback structure to it that goes back to B'Elanna's childhood. The flashbacks reveal a young B'Elanna (Jessica Gaona) at an age where her headstrong adolescence began crashing into her father's (Juan Garcia) own doubts about his shaky marriage. This comes to light gradually, eventually revealing that B'Elanna blames herself for the dissolution of her parents' relationship. As a child, she said and witnessed things at a time that would shape certain opinions for life.

Now she hopes to keep history from repeating (she fears her Klingon side and the possibility that Tom, like her father, might not be able to deal with it), though getting her to admit the full truth is like pulling teeth. One thing I've always liked about B'Elanna is that she's got that element of self-torture and fallibility. She's flawed. She's perhaps the series' most complex character, and an episode like "Lineage" shows why. She goes to extremes here that eventually seem beyond any reason, except for that self-torment we know is there. She manipulates the situation — in ways that quite frankly seem to me as potentially relationship-damaging actions. Tom's cool head and ability to listen is admirable. He's upset but understanding that B'Elanna takes things so far, which she does here by altering Doc's program just enough to make him believe the gene alterations are in the baby's best health interests.

For B'Elanna's character, this plays as a sort of companion episode to last season's "Barge of the Dead" (still one of favorite Voyager outings). It's like the flip side; last year we learned about her mother, and this year we learn about her father. In the middle has always been B'Elanna, a character torn between two very different cultures and, I suspect, not completely comfortable in either. In addition to bringing up interesting ethical questions about genetic manipulation, B'Elanna's actions also play on the issue of self-sensitivity along racial or cultural lines: How exactly do some of us fit into groups when we feel as if we must "choose" one over the other and don't automatically fall into one or both? The answer, of course, is in asserted individuality —while not denying who we are. B'Elanna is a character who has coped with an identity crisis probably all her life.

As good as "Lineage" is as a character outing, it falls a little bit short with an ending that I found just a bit too melodramatic. Dennis McCarthy goes overboard with the violins while B'Elanna's tears come flowing, and the whole thing becomes a tad maudlin. It's credible given the depth of B'Elanna, and even effective to a degree, but for my tastes it seemed to be pushing it in trying to punctuate the Moment of Truth.

No matter. "Lineage" is one of Voyager's best-characterized episodes in some time, showing a cast that comes across as well oiled and execution that for the most part is flawless. It's not the sort of sci-fi/action outing that many fans of the series may hope to get, but it shows the creators of this series still know how to tell good, truthful, understated stories about their characters.

Next week: Interstellar convicts take Voyager hostage and hold a knife to Seven's throat. Don't just stand there and take it — assimilate his sorry ass!

Previous episode: Shattered
Next episode: Repentance

Season Index

43 comments on this review

grumpy_otter - Wed, Sep 26, 2007 - 11:46am (USA Central)
I agree with most of Jammer's assessments of this episode, but as a woman, I was very moved in the final scenes. I think every woman goes through similar uncertainties while she is pregnant, and I identified with B'Elanna. As trite as it may have played on the small screen, I identified with the moment when she realized that this little "parasite" was going to reflect HER--and she felt happy about it. So I'd give it four stars.

I must add that Icheb's pronouncement that he thought B'Elanna must be infected by a parasite was hilarious! As well as Seven's most droll expression when she announced to the Doctor that she believed B'Elanna was pregnant.
David Forrest - Wed, Feb 13, 2008 - 8:36pm (USA Central)
I agree with grumpy_otter: The last scene was quite moving. I think this episode is one of the, if not the most, poignant episode of Star Trek. The last scene was incredibily moving and I think it was great to tell this story with no B-plot and with no action insert.
EightofNine - Fri, May 23, 2008 - 5:03pm (USA Central)
I too liked the ending. I was happy to see the issue in this episode shift from the baby's appearance to B'Elanna's fear of Tom leaving her, like her father did, because it's much less clichéd and more personal for the character. Besides, with Naomi Wildman you already have a basically human looking kid with alien cranial features, and I doubt anyone on Voyager is making fun of her. It's a bit of a non-issue.
Tim - Wed, Jun 4, 2008 - 10:41pm (USA Central)
The ending of this episode has one of my favorite all-time Voyager scenes. Where B'Elanna apologizes to the Doctor and they feel the baby kicking and the Doctor is genuinely awestruck and flattered when B'Elanna asks him to be the godfather. And they take one final look at the holographic image of the baby and B'Elanna says, "She is cute, isn't she?" and the two of them laugh. I love that scene. Its really sweet.
EP - Sun, Mar 8, 2009 - 4:32pm (USA Central)
I hate TV pregnancies and TV babies. I'm just glad that Trek has managed to avoid having a birth on-screen (although they came dangerously close on that DS9 episode with Kira).
indijo - Thu, Jun 25, 2009 - 9:27am (USA Central)
I have to wonder if Jammer must be a chick when he/she gives Star Trek episodes like this 3.5 stars. STAR TREK IS SCIENCE FICTION, NOT SOAP OPERA! Where's the sci-fi in this ep? I don't see it.
Markus - Wed, Aug 26, 2009 - 4:55pm (USA Central)
Well, there is considerable amount of scifi in this story. the issue of genetic altering of babies before given birth is actually quite contemporary.

and this scifi-setting is reflecting racial problems. it is a classic story and at least finally really good character work in this series.

i loved this very, very much. one of the best outings of the series, as far as I am concerned.
Ken Egervari - Wed, Dec 23, 2009 - 2:11am (USA Central)
Easily one of the best character episodes on the series. 4 stars from me.
Paul - Sat, May 15, 2010 - 2:44am (USA Central)
Quite funny. Good to see a sci fi programme contain the words ... "I am (not) your father".

Michael - Sat, Jul 17, 2010 - 2:32pm (USA Central)
Urgh, "The Barge" remains my most hated episode of Voyager, even more boring and useless than the Threshold one. I didn't care much for this one either though it wasn't quite as bad. It was, however, boring. Indijo hit the nail right on the head there. This is supposed to be a SCIENCE FICTION show, goddamnit!!! I am singularly and adamantly NOT interested in the characters' personal dramas, insecurities, complexes and history. I want to see the scriptwriters' imagination in depicting a 24th-century Universe (the "fiction" part) and the technology that will be used and how in it (the "science" part). For the kind of garbage contained in this episode, I'll tune in to the Gilmore Girls, Rosa Salvaje or As The World Turns.

0.5 stars, and that's only because I'm in a good mood.

And BTW, what the !@#$% is this crap with Paris having a toaster in his and Torres' pad!? How the hell many of us wash our clothes using a threshing board or by stirring them with a huge paddle in a boiling pot?! For godsakes, enough already with this 20th-century tripe!!

Screw it, ZERO stars!! lol
Ken Egervari - Sat, Jul 17, 2010 - 3:00pm (USA Central)
I disagree with Michael. Stories first and foremost should be about characters, and the story should also have a message. The best shows star trek writers have ever produced have done this over and over.

If these character episodes also in fact contain all the bling and blang of sci-fi-, it just makes that much more special because it's something that only star trek can do.

It must be said, this story could not be told in Gilmore Girls. It does use sci-fi concepts and procedures that are not available now.

Nonetheless, if what you want is accurate depiction of the 24th century, this isn't it. The entire Federation's economic model doesn't make sense. It didn't make sense in socialist China or the soviet union. It doesn't make sense with the way many of the modern economies are progressing towards now. And it won't make any more sense in the 24th century either.

Trek has always been about big concepts and ideas. Maybe Voyager hasn't, but it has enough "sci-fi show with a different forehead of the week" as it is. It's very refreshing that this show is different from the usual trash the writer's put out week after week.
Michael - Sun, Jul 18, 2010 - 7:23am (USA Central)
Well, Ken, as the old Romans used to say: "De gustibus no est disputandum." :D

I would maintain, however, that the themes of "exploring one's troubled relationship with one's [insert parent]" or "coming to terms with one's [insert psychological trauma or complex]" have no place in a sci-fi show. There are many other genres that would accommodate such subjects better and there is a cornucopia of T.V. shows with that exact focus. What's the essential difference between this episode and a movie about a Southern girl agonizing over whether to abort her kid because the father is African American, apart from Toress' forehead ridges and the possibility of genetic engineering? None. For the same reason I have a low tolerance for any romances, friendships, enmities... - this is not supposed to be a show about individual PEOPLE, and certainly not the characters' personal drama and trauma.

I don't think any program could deliver an accurate depicton of the 24th century for the simple reason that it's not happened yet :o) I find the Star Trek universe unimaginative, unrealistic and superficial. Still, much of the series content is based on some laws or suppositions of the natural sciences. We have a fair theoretical idea of how technology might develop in the next several centuries, and I expect from Star Trek firstly and foremostly to visual portray those ideas. Of course, liberties must be taken perforce ("poetic license") but the order is SCIENCE, then FICTION.

I again declare that this episode was boring, useless and unsuitable for the type of show Voyager is meant to be.
Ken Egervari - Sun, Jul 18, 2010 - 1:41pm (USA Central)
When you say, "exploring one's troubled relationship with one's [insert parent]" or "coming to terms with one's [insert psychological trauma or complex]" have no place in a sci-fi show."

... based on what criteria? Does trauma suddenly stop happening in the 24th century? Do parents suddenly become perfect?

In DS9, Garek, Jake, Kira and a pile of other characters had such episodes. They were all good ones too. Some of the best. Are you saying The Visitor was not a fantastic sci-fi rendition of a boy losing his father? If Star Trek didn't tell this story, Gilmore Girls and any other pop drama show would never be able to.

In the abstract sense, if you care about the show and its characters, you should care about stories that are based on such characters... no matter if they deal with their parents, traumas, what they do on the holodeck, and any other kind of character piece.

If you don't care about the characters... then why are you watching the show? If you want a show that features a different cast every week, and they purely just talk about sci-fi concepts and ideas, then it wouldn't be Star Trek. I can't think of a show like this at all that would be the least enjoyable to watch.

The thing is, shows are and should be about individuals. There is no collectivist society or tv show. The crew shouldn't be a bunch of borg. This is an accurate depiction of REAL LIFE, as everyone in the real world is an individual too. Are you saying the show, if it is to be a work of art, is not supposed to objectify parts of our own reality?

Yes, no television show can give an accurate depiction of the 24th century, however we already know using logic that what is depicted in Star Trek CANNOT be it. By the 24th century, if Humans have not learned that these types of governments produce non-free societies, then humanity is more likely to be dead than produce something called the Federation.

Of course, if you take the phrase "sci-fi" or "science fiction", it doesn't suggest that their should be an emphasis on either. The genre doesn't dictate %'s of science to fiction. It is not implied in the term. So when you say it should contain more science than fiction... based on what? Your preferences? Whim? I would say any science fiction show, if it is to be called science fiction, just needs to have some elements of the two in any way the writers saw fit to express their art.

As for "the show Voyager was meant to be"... let me as you a question. What was it meant to be? It had no focus. No goal. After looking at the forest, it wasn't really trying to be anything other than a collection of mostly isolated adventure stories with very little cohesively binding them together.

I fail to see how Lineage doesn't fit with that premise, because it's ridiculously broad and unfocused.
Michael - Tue, Jul 20, 2010 - 9:47am (USA Central)
"Does trauma suddenly stop happening in the 24th century? Do parents suddenly become perfect?"

No, but psychological traumas should not be the subject of a sci-fi show!!

Look, there are no criteria for what makes a sci-fi show, let alone what makes a GOOD sci-fi show. Star Trek is, after all, a form of artistic expression, and art is all about opinions. You think this is a good episode, I think it sucked. You feel this type of subject is suitable to a science-fiction show, I don't.

DS9 is the only Star Trek series I gave a miss. (I even somehow plodded thru the ridiculous Original Series.) I gave it a chance and really wanted to like it, after the nonpareil Next Generation. But every one of the dozen or so time I tuned in, there was shot of some bar/club (cf. Voyager's mess hall with Annoying Neelix) or someone crying or talk of some "prophets" (WTF!?!)... The only sci-fi part of it seemed to be that it was all happening on some space base.

A "boy losing his father"? How many freaking times has THAT been done!!?

Frankly, no, I do NOT care about the characters. In a sci-fi show the characters are the catalysts for the story, the means to an end. Sure, it's great that they have their quirks and personalities and what-have-ya, but they and their quirks and personalities should NOT be the focus of the story.

Real life? Well, first of all, Star Trek is hardly about real life but, even if it was, "real life" has a multitude of aspects. Let me put it in a very pedestrian way: I do not want to see the characters "exploring" themselves, their emotions, their complexes and all that bullshit for the same reason I don't want to see them taking a shower, brushing teeth or getting dressed. It is not the salient feature of SCIENCE FICTION!

I am interested in the character(s) when I'm watching a true-story drama of some sort; otherwise I'm not. Star Trek is all fictional: The universe, the inhabitants, the show's characters and, for the most part, the technology, too. Why the hell would I want fictional characters in a fictional universe "exploring" "real world" dilemmas?!?

Anyway, this is all my opinion from which anyone may dissent. You like this type of episode, I like the episodes with clever use of technology and/or someone phasering someone's ass to smithereens.

To each their own.
Ken Egervari - Tue, Jul 20, 2010 - 9:58pm (USA Central)
RE: "No, but psychological traumas should not be the subject of a sci-fi show!!"

This is not true. As I already explained, the term "sci-fi" itself does not imply fiction (and character development is a big part of fiction) should take a back seat.

You may not like the character development - that much is true - but it is not accurate or logical to say that sci-fi should not deal with such issues.

RE: "Look, there are no criteria for what makes a sci-fi show, let alone what makes a GOOD sci-fi show."

You have contradicted yourself. First you claim that there is a criteria that psychological traumas should not be the subject of a sci-fi show... and then in your next line, you say there is no criteria that makes a sci-fi show. Which one is it? Unlike Janeway, you can't have your cake and eat it too.

As for a GOOD sci-fi show, you would have to define what "good" is. Good is a very vague term. it can mean many things to many people. If you simply mean it as one that YOU enjoy as opposed to one that can be objectively declared as good art, then there can be no debate.

In any event, GOOD FICTION has to be a part of good science-FICTION. If it's not, science-fiction is a contradiction in terms - which it is not. Lineage has many good qualities that account for good FICTION.

RE: "Star Trek is, after all, a form of artistic expression, and art is all about opinions."

Art is a selective re-creation, and often an exaggeration, of someone's value judgments about reality. Arts job is to distill a set of concepts into a set of percepts to easily communicate the concepts of those value judgments by the artist.

RE: "You think this is a good episode, I think it sucked. You feel this type of subject is suitable to a science-fiction show, I don't."

I don't FEEL anything. By using logic and definitions, I have actually proved that this episodes does in fact fit within the premise of voyager, and does in fact qualify as science fiction. You are confusing two aspects of the debate... "is it sci-fi?" and "is it good?"

Second, just because you don't like something personally, doesn't mean it is bad art. If you want to objectively rate this episode, it is actually quite good storytelling, even if you hate the source material. There is no feeling involved at all.

RE: "DS9 is the only Star Trek series I gave a miss."

Then you missed the best Star Trek series ever produced.

RE: "(I even somehow plodded thru the ridiculous Original Series.) I gave it a chance and really wanted to like it, after the nonpareil Next Generation. But every one of the dozen or so time I tuned in, there was shot of some bar/club (cf. Voyager's mess hall with Annoying Neelix) or someone crying or talk of some "prophets" (WTF!?!)... The only sci-fi part of it seemed to be that it was all happening on some space base."

For a show that was very focused on science and fiction... and for a show that had an excellent premise... I am shocked you didn't find value in it. Compared to Voyager, it is a far superior series. They are not even in the same league.

RE: "A "boy losing his father"? How many freaking times has THAT been done!!?"

Yes, but "The Visitor" does it in such a way that could NOT be told with any other genre. Have you seen the episode? It is extremely good Science AND fiction. It is considered by many to be among to the top 10 or 15 episodes of DS9.:

Search Season 4 of DS9 on the review section of this site!

RE: "Frankly, no, I do NOT care about the characters. In a sci-fi show the characters are the catalysts for the story, the means to an end. Sure, it's great that they have their quirks and personalities and what-have-ya, but they and their quirks and personalities should NOT be the focus of the story."

Then I don't know why you watch Star Trek... or TV in general. Documentaries are probably more your thing.

RE: "Real life? Well, first of all, Star Trek is hardly about real life but"

You're wrong. The value of judgments of the writers in today's reality are scattered and emphasized constantly in all of the Star Trek episodes. You must look deeper. Even though these episodes occur in space, and the aliens are not human, they nonetheless convey concept the artists which to communicate. Sometimes very, very obviously.

RE: "even if it was, "real life" has a multitude of aspects. Let me put it in a very pedestrian way: I do not want to see the characters "exploring" themselves, their emotions, their complexes and all that bullshit for the same reason I don't want to see them taking a shower, brushing teeth or getting dressed. It is not the salient feature of SCIENCE FICTION!"

How is FICTION not part of science fiction? See above.

RE: "I am interested in the character(s) when I'm watching a true-story drama of some sort; otherwise I'm not. Star Trek is all fictional: The universe, the inhabitants, the show's characters and, for the most part, the technology, too. Why the hell would I want fictional characters in a fictional universe "exploring" "real world" dilemmas?!?"

Because that is what art is.

RE: "Anyway, this is all my opinion from which anyone may dissent."

Not, it's not. I've put forth a very good logical argument. You have not :) All I've heard is whim and opinion from you.
Michael - Wed, Jul 21, 2010 - 10:26am (USA Central)
Ken, dude, you need to chill out and not take this stuff so seriously! It's an episode of a supposedly sci-fi series. You liked it; I didn't. That should be the end of that story because neither one of us is going to convince the other that he should change his mind!

Yes, science fiction has to involve fiction; of course it does. Otherwise it would be a science documentary. I believe that the "fiction" part should be in the service of the "science" part. If it's not, then there is nary a difference between Star Trek and, say, the Chronicles of Narnia or a James Bond installment or a Terminator movie. If the preponderance of "fiction" begins relating to character "development," then you no longer have a sci-fi show but some sort of fantasy/romance/drama/adventure.

I am interested in Torres the engineer. I want to see her used to solve problems on Voyager by erecting force-fields, depolarizing the shields, repairing the warp core, etc. I don't want to see her eating dinner, getting dressed, talking about her feelings for 40 minutes, praying, getting counseling, daydreaming, or anything similar. That is BORING. I don't care about her childhood or her relationship with her whatever. The only difference between such an episode and one of Gilmore Girls shows are the ridges on Toress' forehead and a tricorder or hypospray lying around. Pathetic.

Your attempts at defining "art" are misguided. The definition of "art" is controversial at best, and "good art" defies definition altogether. Face it: This is all about taste and there's no accounting for it. I feel Star Trek should be about something different from what you feel it should be about. Judging by the reviews of this episode on this site, I'm in the minority. Fine by me.

"All I've heard is whim and opinion from you."

Well, yes; that IS the reason I said "this is all my opinion." LOL! Take it easy, Ken :)
Ken Egervari - Wed, Jul 21, 2010 - 1:07pm (USA Central)
RE: "Ken, dude, you need to chill out and not take this stuff so seriously! It's an episode of a supposedly sci-fi series. You liked it; I didn't. That should be the end of that story because neither one of us is going to convince the other that he should change his mind!"

I have never been trying to convince you that you should like it. Re-read all of my posts. I am merely pointing out your muddled and contradictory thinking.

RE: "I believe that the "fiction" part should be in the service of the "science" part. If it's not, then there is nary a difference between Star Trek and, say, the Chronicles of Narnia or a James Bond installment or a Terminator movie."

Not true. Chronicles of Narnia is NOT sci-fi. It is fantasy, and family-oriented fantasy at that. James bond is action-adventure. There's really nothing sci-fi about it. Terminator IS Science Fiction though.

The problem is that you "BELIEVE" that sci-fi should be in the service of the science part. What are your believes based on? Where do they come from? Logic, your emotions or simply whim? If you cannot explain this, then your claim to this belief is arbitrary and it has no basis in fact.

RE: "If the preponderance of "fiction" begins relating to character "development," then you no longer have a sci-fi show but some sort of fantasy/romance/drama/adventure."

Characters and their development is seriously one major part of all fiction. No genre of fiction is void of characters and their development, which follows that science fiction is not void of them either.

Like all television, there is going to be a mix of genres. Some new genres are born purely by mixing two related genres.

RE: "I don't want to see her eating dinner, getting dressed, talking about her feelings for 40 minutes, praying, getting counseling, daydreaming, or anything similar. That is BORING."

There is a difference between getting dressed and dealing with childhood issues. One is a mere activity that if it doesn't contribute to the plot in a meaningful way... it WOULD be boring.

The concepts conveyed in lineage though DO HAVE MEANING to both the plot, insight into the character, as well as the long-term development of that character.

It that character development boring to you, that does not mean it is not good art or good fiction. Like I said, you can both recognize and acknowledge good story-telling without liking the source material.

RE: "Your attempts at defining "art" are misguided. The definition of "art" is controversial at best, and "good art" defies definition altogether."

In what way is it contradictory? This definition holds up extremely well. In which what is it controversial?

Good art would seem to exemplify the definition to its fullest, so there is no contradiction.

RE: "Face it: This is all about taste and there's no accounting for it."

No, it's not. I have found a mountain of contradictions in your logic.

You cannot objectively say things like, "I feel" and "I believe" and blah blah... and then come around and say things like, "Sci-fi should not deal with character development". This is not logical. And for you to continue to believe what you believe in the fact of these logical arguments makes you out to be quite irrational.

Emotion is not a valid form of cognition. Only logic is. Simply saying, "It is about tastes (i.e. my emotions) and there's no accounting for it" does not make it true. No matter how many times you should decide to reiterate this.

"I feel Star Trek should be about something different from what you feel it should be about. Judging by the reviews of this episode on this site, I'm in the minority. Fine by me."

There is no FEELING involved at all. I am pointing out that this episode does, in fact, fit in the premise of the show. The premise is taken from looking at all the episodes in their entirety, and judging what that premise was.

I am also pointing out that this show is, in fact sci-fi. I have proved it. There is no feeling, whim, tastes, etc. involved at all.

Judging is forming and evaluation and coming to a conclusion based on the facts and context. It is a process of logic. Some people say that judging produces "opinions", but if the proper logic and facts are used, the two "opinions" should converge to the truth.

While you might be arguing that "my emotions are right dammit!", I am pointing out that your logic is muddled and that you should probably rethink your ideas. If you didn't understand what was said, I suggest you re-read it.
Michael - Wed, Jul 21, 2010 - 2:20pm (USA Central)
Oh man, you gotta be kidding me. Look, I'm not going to turn this forum into our personal pissing contest.

Whether you like it or not, deeming a sci-fi production good, bad or otherwise IS based on personal feelings, perceptions, taste and whims. The quality of art, of which this is a form, cannot be objectively assessed or established. That is what makes art different from science, which can.

I don't like this episode at all, for the reasons I enumerated supra. You do. These are both opinions, neither of which can be proven to be objectively correct.

Now please go find some more worthwhile pursuit and leave it be.
Ken Egervari - Wed, Jul 21, 2010 - 2:48pm (USA Central)
The muddled thinking is not about, and was never about, who is right in terms of liking or not liking the episode. You are changing the subject.

RE: "This is supposed to be a SCIENCE FICTION show, goddamnit!!!"

This was one of the points you had originally said to which I debated was incorrect. I defended my arguments, and pointed out it was wrong and should not be a basis for why this episode is objectively good or bad.

Then I pointed out several other errors and contradictions in your thinking along the way.

RE: "Whether you like it or not, deeming a sci-fi production good, bad or otherwise IS based on personal feelings, perceptions, taste and whims. The quality of art, of which this is a form, cannot be objectively assessed or established. That is what makes art different from science, which can."

It's not about what I like or not. Art can be objectively judged. Just because you and most of the population do not know how, does not mean that it is impossible to judge it.

For further reading on why this is the case, read The Romantic Manifesto by Ayn Rand.

RE: "I don't like this episode at all, for the reasons I enumerated supra. You do. These are both opinions, neither of which can be proven to be objectively correct."

This, to me, sounds like conceit. Instead of using logic, which is the only valid form of debate, you insist that emotional is to be used, instead. You claim I have used opinions and emotions, but I have not. You, on the other hand, have done so.

Instead of using logic to justify yourself (because you can't), you claim that this is an emotional matter. I guess, you think that gets your reasoning off the hook.

You are free to think what you want, but you are not free to escape the consequences of your thoughts.
Michael - Thu, Jul 22, 2010 - 12:32pm (USA Central)
O.K. whatever you say, buddy.

There's no point arguing with somebody who insists there is no distinction between objective science and subjective art. What presumptuousness to think you know better than thousands of professional artists and art critics who for centuries proffered widely divergent opinions on various artistic expressions.

Anyway, this is my last word on the subject. Keep believing you proved whatever you think you proved.
Elliott - Sun, Sep 5, 2010 - 1:44am (USA Central)
While I'm redisent to get into the middle of this debate, I'll offer my two cents for what they're worth:

The purpose of a genre like "opera" or "romance" or "sci-fi" is to give the narrative a framework which allows it to explore mythology and storytelling in a way unique unto itself. Otherwise, we would not bother with making distinctions, for which I give Michael some credit here.

However, that being said an example of plain old bad drama/fiction is one in which the story obsesses over its genre. Take for example sappy romance stories of which I'm sure, Michael, you are not a fan (neither am I). What does that mean for romances in general? Well, simply that the premises of romances should not overwhelm the potential for genuine mythos and drama. The same goes for sci-fi. This story is NOT possible outside of a sci-fi framework--the medical "science" is in two ways unique to this genre, 1. the genetic manipulations and 2. the metaphorical implications of Torres' biracial status. Imagine if there were a half-black character whose white father abandoned her and her mother because of her "blackness"--how the sh*t would fly! But sci-fi let's us take these imaginary species (contextualised as races) and pose the same argument and its consequences via metaphor without incensing us to conventions we actually experience in "real life."

So, the story is made possible by its genre which makes it uniquely more powerful than just some story about a girl and her abandonment issues, but the meat of any good story draws from those mythical sources which are common to ALL genres. Seeing her fixing warp cores and such is not exciting in the least unless it's connected with her character (her job is not her character). So in the end, I must declare Ken the winner of this debate. Michael, I suggest you watch Power Rangers to get what you're looking for in a TV show.
Nick Fisher - Tue, Sep 7, 2010 - 5:00pm (USA Central)
An excellent episode; I enjoyed this very much.
Michael - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 6:55am (USA Central)
Elliott: You're right on all points. Of course there is nothing stopping a sci-fi production incorporating a romantic story, nor does the incorporation of such a story detract from the sci-fi-ness of the production.

My problem are my expectations/wishes. I would like Star Trek to be more like a documentary; perferce fictional, of course, but the focus should be on the science, technology and the like (yes, "fixing warp cores," if you will) and NOT on the characters. The chatacters should be little more than the instruments facilitating the interaction between the fictional science and technology of the 24th century and the viewer. Naturally, I DO want some character continuation and depth, but that should be secondary. Put it this way: The point of interest is attaining Warp 10 - how it's done and the consequences; who actually breaks that speed and what that person's relationship with his/her mother is like I REALLY DO NOT CARE!

Before anyone jumps down my throat, the above is predicated on my opinion and proclivities. I am NOT saying that Star Trek is not a sci-fi show because it doesn't conform to those parameters.
Elliott - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 10:53am (USA Central)
There's no accounting for taste, Michael. You may of course desire to see whatever you wish, but as I said, such a show would be one which obsesses over its own genre (at the expense of the characters and mythos), and thus a bad show (objectively speaking). I'm sure there are bad shows/movies/etc. we all enjoy for whatever reason (eg I love the movie "Showgirls") but will never claim it is any good.
Jay - Mon, Mar 7, 2011 - 2:00pm (USA Central)
"I'm sure there are bad shows/movies/etc. we all enjoy for whatever reason (eg I love the movie "Showgirls") but will never claim it is any good."

Yes...I like watching "Hot In Cleveland" even though (and quite possibly because) it's so awful.
Cloudane - Fri, Apr 8, 2011 - 6:30pm (USA Central)
Bless. That was kind of moving in places (particularly the end, I'm not female but I'm still a sucker for emotional stuff), and I liked the decision to make Doc the godfather.

I thought it was perhaps a bit much to dedicate a whole episode to it, prompting me to almost sympathise with Michael's inevitable grumbling :) (I'll give you one thing, I actually find myself along with sometimes thinking "Jammer won't like this" also thinking "Michael definitely won't like this"!) - but indeed, to each their own. Though advocating Warp 10, and thus the lizard thing that went on and completely ruined that episode, is worthy of an e-smack across the back of the head! Haha

For me, they kept things flowing, and kept the odd little twist and turn going (like the Doc's reprogramming) which kept me hooked.

I share the enjoyment of the Paris/Tuvok discussion, that was very good and I hope they develop some form of friendship over the final season as that'd be kind of cool. Nothing like some last minute development and bond forming.

A small nitpick but I'm not sure about it.. genetic enhancement is illegal in the Federation (as those familiar with late DS9 will know).. obviously this is more alteration than enhancement which is why I'm not sure but I'm tending to think the Doc's case against it should've been even stronger than it already was. No matter.

I liked the touch of humour about the "parasite" - actually kind of true :))

3 for me, but 3.5 isn't much of a stretch. It's great to see some character development other than Seven or Doc again.
Kieran - Tue, May 10, 2011 - 6:07am (USA Central)
I wasn't too interested in this. I liked the whole genetic restructuring concept and it's very relevant today, with people wanting "perfect" children. But I just didn't care that much about Torres' problems and I couldn't bring myself to feel much sympathy for her, especially when she went behind Tom's back and reprogrammed the Doctor. I also thought the flashbacks lacked any real dramatic punch.

And, call me a moron if you will, but I could have done with an action insert and a B-Plot about Neelix pinching Tuvok's socks.
BoomShakaLuka - Sun, Aug 14, 2011 - 10:57pm (USA Central)
Lineage is different, but there's a lot here that's unsettling...

I think B'Elanna went way too far by altering the Doctor's program for the genetic procedure. I do agree that what she did was relationship damaging.

I also felt like much of the episode was family sitcom fluff.

Suffice it to say, it gives you an intriguing idea to ponder but ultimately it's not something I'll watch again and again.

Oh, and when Icheb mistakes B'Elanna being pregnant for a parasite I couldn't help but laugh out loud.

Nathan - Sun, Nov 13, 2011 - 8:22pm (USA Central)
I seem to dislike episodes about parent-child relations in general, and this one is no exception. I bet Sigmund Fraud could explain it.
Chris Harrison - Tue, Feb 14, 2012 - 11:15am (USA Central)
I'm sorry. I will probably regret writing this comment...but....

@Michael: I have been steadily working through all the seasons, and coming here after watching each episode. I have gritted my teeth for six and a half seasons now and I can't take it any more. Are you a ten year old boy? What do you want to see each week? An hour of space battles and laser fights? *That* would be inanely boring, *not* this episode - which is mesmerising and speaks to me on so many levels (I am in a mixed race relationship myself). The futuristic context absolutely brings something to the table that mainstream soap operas could never hope to reach.

This episode is a morality play - commenting on issues from a unique (sci-fi inspired) perspective. That is what Gene Roddenberry set out to accomplish - he (and every Star Trek fan except you it seems) did not want another teenage, banal, tasteless, shallow Sci-fi serial. I think you would be quite happy if Captain Proton was a real show.

Change the record. Stop writing the same damn comment on practically every episode except ones where the Borg blow everything up.

I apologise in advance. That was many months of pent-up frustration.

Jack - Sat, Feb 18, 2012 - 2:18pm (USA Central)
Why would Seven need to fill in if Torres needed to cut back...is there not an entire engineering staff? Lt. Carey put up with Torres being elevated ahead of him, but Seven too? Of course, they unceremoniously brought him back to kill him off a few episodes later, a death that made even less sense than Tasha Yar's...
Jelendra - Thu, Jul 5, 2012 - 4:43am (USA Central)
I enjoyed this one a lot. Voyager wasnt supposed to be a show about "relationships". Im glad that they changed their mind with this episode, it was a great hour. ANd Ive read through a lot of comments about TOm and B'Lanna not having any on-screen chemistry...I think this episode proves that they do...
gogolo - Mon, Jan 7, 2013 - 11:47am (USA Central)
interesting discussion. IMHO Star Trek originally was meant to be a science fiction story telling about ethical and moral questions of today or lets say of such fundamental sort being timeless. This makes Trek beeing more than space battles and warp 10. I like this science aspect too and think the two aspects make it so intriguing. The warp thing is getting interesting when ethic and characters come into play - childhood included.
Arachnea - Thu, Jan 31, 2013 - 10:58pm (USA Central)
I agree with most people here. Sci-Fi - and Trek in particular - was/is a very good mean to talk about things considered otherwise taboo or to make allegories about our society.

In my opinion, for any TV-show to work, one must be able to identify with, or like or like to dislike characters. For this to happen, characters must be given some depth, then shows like this one works.

For instance, this one touched me very much because I grew up like B'elanna: being identified as a stranger because I was born asian. In my time (hmpff, makes me feel old) there wasn't the racial and cultural diversity there is today in my country and I can assure you it wasn't easy every day as a child. How many times have I thought of reshaping my eyes (when I was a teenager), so the genetic issue blended with the racial problem is really well thought. Today there are still racial problems but due to other things than being one in a thousand.

So, like I said, I believe it's important that popular sci-fi shows make people think about those kinds of issues. It won't touch everyone, but if it can make 1/4 of the watchers think, the job is done.

I didn't make this comment to whine about myself - I've accepted who and what I am with time and age - but to make some commenters understand why those kinds of shows, whatever the social or mythical allegory are, are worth existing, worth watching and worth our attention. And if english were my language, I'd have explained even better...

Conclusion: I like Star Trek for what it wishes to say, not for its bad science. If I want pure entertainment without any thinking, I've got plenty around to choose from :p.
AeC - Sun, Feb 17, 2013 - 9:28pm (USA Central)
The moment that really jumped out for me was B'Elanna's father trying to relate to her isolation by describing how he was teased as a kid for falling asleep in class. It was sort of like if I, a white American, were to profess that I understood being on the receiving end of 400+ years of institutional racism because I was made fun of as a kid for being a nerd. It had me wincing, not just because of her father's cluelessness, but because he genuinely seemed to be *trying.* He just wasn't wise or perhaps strong enough to see the nature of the problem before him, to see that it was something truly outside of his realm of experience (for all the talk of its having purportedly eliminated intra-species racism, Trekkian humanity still seems to have its issues with inter-species prejudice; otherwise we couldn't have allegorical situations such as these, I suppose).

I appreciated that, even though we saw the turmoil and pain her father caused B'Elanna, he wasn't presented as some monolithic, one-dimensional ogre of a father, but as a human with human failings. It made the flashbacks ring all the more true, and B'Elanna's internal conflicts all the more thorny and complex.

I've always been more of a fan of DS9 than Voyager. For all its faults, though, as I peruse these old episodes on Netflix, I'm finding the later series to have a lot more strengths than I initially gave it credit for.
Leah - Fri, Jul 19, 2013 - 4:37pm (USA Central)
Just like Chris Harrison, I, too, have been biting my tongue and trying not to get into this but I can't take it anymore either. I know the comments regarding this are several years old now and the original posters won't even ever see this, but I have to say my peace, regardless...

Star Trek is a show about exploration...exploration of HUMANITY!!! That's what it started out being and that's what it's always been. It is able to explore deep and complex issues because of the sci-fi setting but the "science" part is and always has been the secondary factor, there to allow for this exploration without mainstream backlash. Think about it. Why has Star Trek always been so popular and thrived to produce multiple series since its inception? Hint: it isn't the tricorders or the photon torpedoes. Yes, the science part is neat and fun, and can carry the story here and there but if that's all you want to see, then don't effing watch Star Trek because it is MEANT to be cerebral and introspective and make you think about something deeper than "me want blinky lights and lasers pew pew pew!"

If this is all you want, then perhaps you should stick with something more along the lines of your emotional maturity...like Power Rangers, as was suggested above...or any other variety of one-dimensional show directed at 10-12 yr-old boys. And don't give me that "I'm entitled to my opinion of what I want to see" bull crap. Yes, you like what you like, but this franchise has had a long-standing identity since its beginning. It's never going to be what you want it to be if you're going into it expecting anything other than what it was created to be! By now, we all know what Star Trek is and isn't and pissing and moaning about it is pointless and even quite gauche.

There is no argument here. You want something different, go seek it elsewhere and quit making the same asinine, pathetic argument over and over and over again. The majority of us who actually have at least an ounce of emotional depth and therefore can relate to it in these characters, would abhor a show that has flat, stale set-dressing characters. THAT is boring and superficial and practically no one would watch it. And again, this was NEVER what Star Trek was meant to be! People are the heart of the show, and the passions, struggles, and self-discovery of what it means to be human is the entire point! Comparing that to some teen-angst melodrama or sit-com just shows a grievous lack of understanding and, frankly, an emotional immaturity and small-mindedness that I can only pity.

Oh, and before I get the, geez calm down and quit taking it so seriously, it's only a TV show...that's exactly the attitude that dumbs down expectations of the quality of our art and entertainment: see anything by Michael Bay for supporting evidence. We cease to grow when we stop caring to learn about ourselves, and even the things we produce for entertainment can say a lot about us and our culture and allow us to transcend conventional means of relating to one another to connect in more intangible and resounding ways. See the Qomar in Voyager's episode "Virtuoso" for an example of people who took single-mindedness to such an extreme that they had no sense of culture at all. Though a bit cartoony in portrayal, I believe that the social commentary there still has merit. They ceased to recognize and appreciate the soul and purpose behind such forms of expression too.

Ok, phew...sorry, had to get that all out of my system. It was like an itch I'd been trying not to scratch but just couldn't hold back anymore. Now that that's all been said, I want to say that I ADORED this episode. This is the kind of characterization I've been longing to see in Voyager applied to someone else other than Seven. And I, too, really liked the ending. Yes, perhaps what B'Elanna did seemed a bit too crazy, but she's got some damage where this issue is concerned and it took an extreme situation to tear down those long-built barriers and get her to finally open up to Tom. I thought her anguish was well-played and it even made me misty-eyed.

The last scene with Doc really made me smile and warmed my heart. I loved his reaction to feeling the baby kick and when B'Elanna asked him to be the child's godfather, the expression on his face said everything! It was poignantly touching. Also, seeing the change from the previously disappointed and horrified expression to that motherly look of adoration and love was beautiful! One of my absolute favorite episodes of Voyager!



DZ - Tue, Jul 30, 2013 - 3:19pm (USA Central)
This is one of the most boring episodes and it gets rated 3.5 stars? Unbelievable. It should have got 1 star.

This is the second time i've seen a boring Torres episode get high marks from this reviewer. The other time was with Barge Of The Dead, another tedius episode.

I tuned in to watch a sci-fi show, not EastEnders. The acting is also not good enough from Torres due to the forehead ridges that restrict her expressions kind of like botox does. You're just never going to get a good performance from Torres because of the botox ridges, so any episode with her featuring prominently is going to suffer from that.

Overall, i think the reviewer is smoking a Torres spliff.
ian - Fri, Aug 9, 2013 - 3:07am (USA Central)
This actually destroys some continuity, did'nt she say her father left when she was only 5 years old? Also the father character really is played to weak to be someone who would marry a Klingon...
Nancy - Tue, Aug 20, 2013 - 2:15am (USA Central)
Those tiring of Michael: simply scroll past his posts like I do. They all say the same thing. I find myself scrolling past all the responses to him as well, because those too are repetitive. I also do that with the repetitive economic construct debates. Cutting out reading retreads of circular arguments no one ever wins keeps my blood pressure low and saves me a lot of annoyance as well as shortening the time it takes to read the comments. Win, win, win!

As for this episode, I typically find the "let's trace my issues back to my childhood via flashback" episodes trite and boring. This one wound up engaging me, though, because of the twist about her fearing Tom would turn out like her dad. I thought the ending was effective, and Tom's tenderness warmed my heart. I still feel cheated that we didn't get an on-screen wedding a few episodes ago; it seemed very anticlimactic to have it off-screen but that's a critique that belongs to another episode, so I'll just say I really liked them here.
azcats - Mon, Aug 26, 2013 - 3:04pm (USA Central)
typically, i like the sci-fi heavy episodes like Michael.

however, unike michael, i like good character shows.

this will never be my "favorite" episode. but for a character episode i liked it. i thought the last scene with belanna and her dad along with the present discussion with tom was moving. i am glad tom didnt act like Shallow Tom.

i enjoyed the episode.

3 star overall. 4 star for character show.
SpiceRak2 - Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - 10:29pm (USA Central)
For the record, character development is a critical tool of story-telling, not specific genres, per se. Dramas, sci-Fi, comedies, romances, etc., all employ character development as a part of the story. Some of the most well-received stories in every genre succeeded in character development.

For Michael's sake, I must say that I think I understand what he may have been trying to convey. (Please forgive me if I am misrepresenting you, Michael.) I think he means to say that he prefers a different kind of character development in a science fiction story; one that remains more focused on the characters interacting and nurturing their understanding of the science. He seems less interested in personal character analysis, especially if it dominates the storyline. In this case, it may feel more like another type of genre other than science fiction. And...that is his preference, to which he is fully welcome.

@Ken - - after reading this thread, all I could really sense from your comments was a strong desire to pull Michael into a debate at all costs. You were combative, argumentative and confrontational to such a degree as to lose credibility. I just don't see the point.

As for this episode, I was shocked by the developments here. I would think that regardless of the century, or maybe even more because of the century this story is supposed to have taken place, it would be deemed disturbing to see a mother so psychologically damaged that she would subvert protocols, sabotage a sentient crew mate, lie to her husband and perform genetic alterations on her unborn fetus! Regardless of the "breakthrough" that B'Elanna has with Tom, she should have been put into immediate counseling and placed under surveillance. And...Tom would have to ask Harry to create a Holo-Attorney!
Jo Jo Meastro - Tue, Oct 15, 2013 - 9:52am (USA Central)
An exceptional feat; a Voyager episode that could easily match the emotional highs, the likes of even The Visitor or the final act of Wrath Of Khan.

I have no shame in admitting that I welled up. Many times.

Everything was brilliantly done. The way that the characters react to such a gigantic tidal wave of complicated emotions and a completely life changing moment was beautifully captured with all of the realistic depths it deserves.

Never for one moment do we think of these people as merely fictional, we feel with and we understand them. The characterisation was nothing short of perfect, particularly Torresses' agonising personal pain.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much the flashbacks really fleshed out the story, even the haunted gloomy way it was shot just spelt out the level of heartbreak we're dealing with. And I also absolutely loved the ending, it nearly made me sob!

4 out of 4 stars.
Steinway - Fri, Feb 14, 2014 - 7:48am (USA Central)
Love this. I remembered the episode from when I saw it years ago in college, and I was looking forward to seeing it again now that I have my own husband and family. I was crying buckets at the end!

This episode was about people with complex problems with a 24th century twist – exactly what I'm looking for in Star Trek! So glad it wasn't muddled with a boring B-plot. The B'Elanna/Tom issues got all the time and attention it needed.

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