Star Trek: Voyager

"Nightingale"

**

Air date: 11/22/2000
Teleplay by Andre Bormanis
Story by Robert Lederman & Dave Long
Directed by LeVar Burton

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I scanned you."
"You scanned me?"
"In the Jeffries tube. Your blood pressure and neurotransmitter readings indicated a state of arousal."
"It was hot!"

— Icheb and B'Elanna

In brief: A nigh-perfect example of too little, too late.

"Nightingale" didn't do much for me. I'm not entirely sure whether to blame the episode or the series as a whole, so I'll do the honorable thing and blame both.

But in all seriousness, an episode like "Nightingale" suffers all the more because it's an example of the adage "too little, too late."

Well, too bad.

Ensign Harry Kim, as many people undoubtedly know, is by far not my favorite Voyager character. In my view, he's the best candidate for ripping apart and making fun. The writers apparently share that view, and frequently give him episodes where he's the butt of the joke. (The story break meetings must boil down to: "That darn Harry! He's such a funny, naive kid! How green can we make him this week?") Witness the very end of "Inside Man," for example, and you see Harry being the victim of a joke that seems to reinforce the fact that he hasn't advanced a step forward since day one. Besides, when the character is saddled with episodes like "Favorite Son" or "The Disease," how can we possibly believe the writers see him as anything more than the lovable goofball who gets some of the worst shows?

Now we get "Nightingale," which seems to be a last-ditch effort by the writing staff to redeem themselves for years of Harry non-growth. Does it work? Not really. Could it have? I'm honestly not sure. The show wants us to accept Harry as a starship captain. That's sort of like asking us to accept Tuvok as a stand-up comedian.

Harry ends up in command of a ship by complete accident, which is perhaps a telling sign. Wandering into an alien conflict by chance, Harry makes a choice while on a Delta Flyer mission with Seven and Neelix: He opts to stop one ship from firing on another. Strictly speaking as a matter of policy, the conflict is not his concern, but humanitarian instincts tell him that saving the crippled ship under attack is the right thing to do.

The decision he makes is not a bad one, though it will raise complications later. When the Delta Flyer crew boards the vessel to tend to survivors, Harry finds that the ship's captain and senior officers have all been killed (how convenient!), and this crippled ship needs the help of experienced personnel to make repairs. They're called the Kraylor, and they say they're on a mission of mercy to deliver medicine to their world. They need protection from the Annari, who are the ones who attacked them. They are particularly vulnerable without their cloaking device working.

Harry offers them help in making repairs, after which they ask if he would be willing to take command of their ship and take them to safety. He routes them to Voyager's position and asks Janeway for an opportunity to see this mission through. There's a speech here where Harry makes his case for getting his first "real command" — which is a relevant idea after all these years — and he even makes mention of the fact he's been an ensign for the past six years ("If we were back home, I'd be a lieutenant by now — maybe even a lieutenant commander"). Not that Janeway couldn't have given him a field promotion at any time; she gave rank to the Maquis officers and promoted Tuvok (and Paris, after demoting him), but never mind.

So Janeway gives Harry his chance to sit in the big chair of this Kraylor vessel. Harry takes command of the Kraylor ship and quickly names it the Nightingale, hence the episode's title. There's a complication here: The Annari, the Kraylor's enemies, are in the middle of some trade negotiations with Voyager, so Harry's mission must be conducted outside their knowledge.

The problem with "Nightingale" is that the crises are far too obvious and the story is not subtle enough. Harry takes command, and it's almost as if the power of the captain's chair instantly rushes straight to his head and turns him into a magnified version of his already blatantly naive self. As captain, he's an annoying micromanager, giving an order to his officer and then practically shoving the officer out of the way to do it himself, so it's done right.

Also, Harry carries an air of arrogance that practically snuffs out our sympathy for him. He doesn't gain the respect of those under him and instead assumes he has it because he sits in the captain's chair. Frankly, if I were serving under him, he wouldn't have my respect either. (Does Harry have a single character trait besides being green?)

The best scenes are probably the ones where Seven kicks Harry in the rear with her direct opinions ("There is a malfunction in one of the ship's systems — its captain.") whenever he makes a mistake. But he should already be realizing these mistakes if he ever commanded Voyager during the night shift. By throwing us such ham-fisted Harry actions, the story doesn't really give us a sampling of Harry's abilities but instead examples of why he shouldn't even be in the chair in the first place.

There's some extra plotting to "Nightingale" involving the hidden motives of the Kraylor, as mostly filtered through the mysterious character of Dr. Loken (Ron Glass). They aren't trying to deliver medical supplies but instead the ship's prototype cloaking device. This exposed deception leads Harry to order the mission abandoned, at which point the crew answers in mutiny by refusing to follow his order to turn around. Harry decides it best to flee the ship in an escape pod rather than be a party to delivering military equipment. But then he changes his mind after getting dressed down by Seven and decides to see the mission through anyway, at which point I wondered if a crew would really accept him back. (Somewhat indulgent is the show's portrayal of Harry as heroic for coming to this decision, and making so much of his return to the bridge.)

There's a B-story in "Nightingale" that goes down as one of the most disposable filler B-stories in some time. It involves Icheb coming to terms with an unexpected crush on B'Elanna. Being unfamiliar with romantic signals, he perceives simple friendliness as signs that B'Elanna has an interest in him. While not offensive, this subplot is the lightest of lightweight and not one bit necessary or interesting. The comic "twist" is when Icheb confuses the facts until he's telling B'Elanna they must "stop seeing each other." The story misses its lighthearted payoff moment by showing B'Elanna annoyed after the strange misunderstanding instead of smiling at the absurdity of it. (C'mon, 'Lanna — lighten up!)

Now that I think about it, I don't know that this show could've actually succeeded. It's probably unfair that "Nightingale" suffers from the mistakes that were made before — and perhaps it reveals my bias against a character long reduced to a single joke. But this is a show that can't really work as entertainment unless we feel the central dilemma about Harry is worth our time. All the alien conflicts and hidden agendas are just stock McGuffin material (and too mediocre to be compelling); the real story is about Harry. And I can't really say that the real story is anything but mediocre either. The ending in particular doesn't ring true, because it shows that Harry seems to think he's captain material. He's not. But the episode seems to want us to think he is, or at least that he might be someday down the road.

I dunno. By the end of the episode I didn't get the sense that Harry learned much of anything. What's more, I didn't really care.

Next week: Doc is pulled into the plight of a group of sentient holograms.

Previous episode: Body and Soul
Next episode: Flesh and Blood

◄ Season Index

53 comments on this review

EP
Tue, Mar 10, 2009, 12:52am (UTC -5)
For this episode, I ignore all aspects of "Harry the Captain," and instead view it as a cautionary tale of what happens when you intervene in the internal affairs of other societies. Because the plot is actually preposterous - not only does Harry decide to help support the Kraylor cloaking device prototype shakedown cruise, he engages in military actions against the Annari, all while wearing a Starfleet uniform. There are violations of sovereignty all over the place.

Meh. At least there were those cool shots of the warp nacelles being refurbished.
Will
Fri, Nov 27, 2009, 6:32am (UTC -5)
My favourite nickname for Harry Kim is "the man who can't be moved" because it's true. His character can't be moved. He never develops. If half the stuff that happened to him happened on Battlestar Galactica (well, half the stuff that happened to him WOULDN'T happen at all on Battlestar Galactica), getting sucked out of an airlock, having his heart broken, getting killed and brought back to life... (I could go on all day) he'd either have committed suicide or be a nervous, defunct wreck by now
Ken Egervari
Mon, Dec 21, 2009, 5:40pm (UTC -5)
I think this episode came way too late, despite its many flaws. Ensign Kim changes WAY too much in this episode. In a few episodes back, he's gullible about getting home... and now he's playing captain?

The truth is that in some scenes, Harry appears to be quite a strong leader - a deeper voice, more confidant, etc. While I don't doubt the credibility of this character EVENTUALLY... it comes right out of left field here. Simply put, the character did not undergo enough transformation to make what is shown here credible.

Sure, Harry makes some pretty bad mistakes as captain... and I suppose you should make mistakes when your learning command. Still, the mistakes even come out of left field... and the dialog and acting make it go way over the top. When Harry was "being the big man", I was cringing. I had a sick feeling to my stomach. I felt that the writers were pushing too hard to force this on Harry. The dialog and logic behind his actions also kind of didn't make sense.

The whole episode is just two much of an extreme. I get emotional stomach pain watching.
petetong
Wed, Jan 20, 2010, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
This is just an example of how the writers, even after 7 years, still base their stories on what must have been written in the show's bible. While DS9 comparisons are cliche I can't help but draw the comparison to Dr. Bashir who of course started off as the green fresh out of school doctor but matured at a respectable pace as the series progressed. The writers/costume people even gave him a promotion LT JG to full LT.
Eduardo
Sun, Jan 24, 2010, 12:06am (UTC -5)
Just think about it. By this point, Nog was alread a junior-grade lieutenant, outranking Kim.

Harry was a waste of bridge space. No one lasts 7 years as an ensign if they're doing a good job. Given how much Garrett phoned it in, I'm not surprised that might reflect on his character development.

Data said the average ensign life span was 3 years.
Michael
Fri, Jul 16, 2010, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
"At least there were those cool shots of the warp nacelles being refurbished."

I liked that footage, too, but what struck me (and this is not the first time) was how tiny Voyager was made to look compared to the people scampering around it. It's sized more like a jumbojet than a starship bearing a dozen or so decks. I remember thinking the same the few times Voyager was shown landing on a planet and was shot with crewmembers standing near it.

Anyway, soooooo, Harry "Can't-Get-A-Lock" Kim a captain!?! Wow. That guy couldn't captain a third-division junior highschool hopscotch team!! LOL!!! But another fine mess he got Voyager into.

"The show wants us to accept Harry as a starship captain. That's sort of like asking us to accept Tuvok as a stand-up comedian."
:)))))))))))))))))))))))))

No-Lock: "If we werre back home, I'd be a [] lieutenant-commander[.]"
Ha! Given the number of things he screwed up over the seven years, I'd have him scrubbing plasma-conduits! I'd sooner have Icheb be an admiral than "No-Lock" anything above an ensign, and even that's really pushing it. He is always depicted as a nice guy but there wasn't a single moment I remember him really shining.

Speaking of Icheb, that poor guy's probably still having wet dreams, ten years after the episode was shot! Man, the scriptwriters can be really cruel!! *grin*

Um, anyhow, here's what I don't get: The Kraylor planet is in dire straits and its inhabitants may die of starvation due to the Anari blockade of the planet. So, the planet is not self-sufficient? Unlikely. Secondly, why did "Dr. Loken" develop the cloaking technology so far away from the planet instead of on the planet itself? Ah, never mind.

Good show. I liked the action sequences. It deserves three stars, in my view.
Jay
Sun, Mar 13, 2011, 10:34am (UTC -5)
Icheb's nutritional supplement looked like nachos.
Cloudane
Thu, Apr 7, 2011, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
An episode centred around Ensign Hapless - yeah that was going to end well.

Dull as dishwater, just like Kim himself.. I almost nodded off, if not for the odd slightly interesting moment like watching slices of nacelle being moved around.

One star, and not a golden one...
Nathan
Sun, Nov 13, 2011, 5:19am (UTC -5)
"My favourite nickname for Harry Kim is "the man who can't be moved" because it's true."
I guess there's too much interference to move him?
Ghostwheel
Fri, Mar 16, 2012, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
"Wandering into an alien conflict by chance, Harry makes a choice while on a Delta Flyer mission with Seven and Neelix: He opts to stop one ship from firing on another. Strictly speaking as a matter of policy, the conflict is not his concern, but humanitarian instincts tell him that saving the crippled ship under attack is the right thing to do."

I'd say that's court-martial material right there.

An overlooked point is that while Harry is interfering in an alien squabble he knows nothing about, Voyager is helplessly planetside with its insides splayed out in the open. So if there's a hostile response to Kim's meddling, Voyager not only can't come to his rescue, but has zero capacity to defend anyone at all.

Both Janeway and Kim were lucky that all the Annari did was escort Voyager out of their space. If they had decided to arrest everyone and impound Voyager, what could the crew have down, given that the ship was totally helpless during its maintenance?

Zero stars. Unless it becomes a two-parter with Kim being court-martialed the next episode.
Mitch
Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Hah. I was just cleaning through my hardrive and forgotten I actually wrote my own review on Nightingale. I posted it some 12 years ago to Usenet, where it's still archived to this day:

groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.startrek.reviews/browse_thread/thread/2413 150b6f0ca120/38069ddf84fc5af4?q=nightingale+author:mitchell+author:spector# 38069ddf84fc5af4

I think it was my first and only Trek review! I sort of felt the need to vent about the series and this particular episode culminated a lot of those frustrations.
Jelendra
Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 4:43am (UTC -5)
I didnt mind this episode in the least. Not great stuff but a welcome Kim driven show. The character of Harry Kim has been hamstrung up to this point by writing that keeps him as Ensign Naive. He always struck me as competent just not given the chance to shine often being outshone by other characters. I like this episode as an"ok" one.

The words of wisdom spouted from Seven concerning Harry's "command" should really have come from Neelix. He is the one with the introspection necessary to have made those somments in a useful fashion...as much as I like Seven, those comments didnt seem right coming from her. She looks better in tight clothes than Neelix and that is always good for ratings...
Jelendra
Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 4:45am (UTC -5)
And I thought the Icheb B story was kind of cute...Jammer missed her reaction in the form of a wry smile when she agreed to not see him again :)
Mrwonder?
Mon, Oct 22, 2012, 12:04am (UTC -5)
Why is it that people complain Harry Kim's character never evolves and then on episodes where they work on "Evolving" his character people complain that it was "So obvious" and don't like it?
Go back to previous episodes with Harry Kim as the main plot character and read the forums section and you'll see what I'm talking about.
Adara
Thu, May 9, 2013, 12:58am (UTC -5)
@Jay: I noticed that too! I guess nachos would be a 16-year old kid's preferred nutritional supplement. :)

Wow, what a terrible episode. I'm not sure if the Harry Kim character or Garrett Wang's acting is worse, but they're both positively cringe-worthy.

One thing that really bugged me that no one else brought up is the idea that flying a ship automatically equals a chain of command. If I ask someone else to drive my car home, that doesn't mean I'm going to call them "sir" and let them bark orders at me. I thought that was very presumptuous on Kim's part, to make the jump from chauffeur to captain. I would drive home blind before I'd let someone I just met boss me around.
Jonathan Baron
Sat, Jun 15, 2013, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
This reminds me of what happened with Lost in Space. They may have begun with Guy Willians and June Lockhart as leads but the show became all about Jonathan Harris's anti-hero Doctor Smith, making for one very unhappy cast.

Certainly that had to be true here too, with Robert Beltran complaining the loudest.

Firefly this ain't, but Firefly's writers didn't have to come up with seven years of material based on three previous series dating back 45 years.
Josh
Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 12:42am (UTC -5)
On the subject of Firefly, I'm stunned that no one remarked on Shepherd Book's turn in this episode as a somewhat duplicitous weapons scientist.

I don't think I ever actually saw this episode when it first aired (I believe I would have had exams coming up in late Nov). It's not really *that* bad, and although I pretty much agree with Jammer's review, I do find Kim just affable enough to enjoy watching. He's the star of some of the worst episodes of the series and makes for the blandest character on a ship on which Tom Paris, Tuvok, and Chakotay also serve.

The Icheb subplot is a reasonably well executed cliche, but "guy misreads situation" is almost too pedestrian for the amount of screen time it gets. Snooze.
William B
Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 1:30am (UTC -5)
@Josh, ah, so that is Shepherd Book's big secret!
DZ
Mon, Jul 29, 2013, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
Harry Kim must be the worst actor in Voyager. Whatever he does his expression stays the same. They should have got rid of him the same time they got rid of the other poorly acted character Kes.
tlb
Tue, Aug 6, 2013, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
One thing could have helped this episode along: if at the end, Kim simply left his statement as "I'm not a captain." That would have been a wonderful realisation. Not everyone is a leader. Not everyone is command material. Unfortunately, Kim had to blow it with his follow up statement "At least not yet." This is not confidence; this is delusion.
azcats
Fri, Aug 23, 2013, 11:50am (UTC -5)
1. why is it everyone complains about Harry kim not "growing?" but every time they try to make him grow, everyone complains about it. it is too late. it makes no sense. he cant have a lock..blah blah blah. if they didnt tell us ..they cant get a lock..then you would all complain.."why didnt they just beam them out."

i swear, some of you guys dont understand it is about entertainment.

i was fully entertained. i was not bored. i liked belannas wry smile over ichebs comments.

i think it is so silly that jammer makes fun of kim the whole review but doesnt mention the smart job he did to save the scientist and the ship. in the end he came through... jammer makes it look like he failed. he just came over an initial flaw and had the cajones to realize he was wrong in his initial command.

3 stars.
SpiceRak2
Fri, Sep 13, 2013, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
Harry Kim, and Garrett Wang for that matter, get the most unfair treatment on this site. It's astounding. I have not been able to determine why there is this level of negativity for both the character and in numerous cases, the actor. It almost seems discriminatory. Seriously. Moreover, the writers seem to share this same uncomfortable view.

I was grateful to see a Harry Kim episode. It was definitely long overdue and not the best character development, but I honestly could see where the writers were trying to go. This episode would have been much better suited to seasons 3 or 4 than to 7 but, here it is, anyway.

The beginning of the episode had potential to let Kim shine and demonstrate growth. By the middle of the episode, his chance to solidify our confidence were sabotaged by the plot. I understood every decision that Kim made and probably would have done the same thing. The circumstances were a big fat Catch 22 trap!

It would have been one thing to focus on forgivable errors like not being able to delegate without taking over or perhaps not taking suggestions from the crew. Instead, we get all of that PLUS a "flip of the script" when the mission changes from humanitarian to military. Harry has to deal with lies, an attack, the death of a crew member, mutiny, and being dressed down by Seven. He's lucky to have fared well at all. Anyone would.

I think the writers have done little service to the character, Harry Kim, and have encouraged the unrelenting ire of Star Trek fans. It's a shame. I wish others could see the character as fondly as I do.
Grumpy
Fri, Sep 13, 2013, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
Not sure I understand your astonishment when you acknowledge that Kim's character was poorly written. Are viewers supposed to pity him in spite of it? Why?

That said, whatever derision Kim deserves, failing to be promoted -- or to grow at all -- is not the reason. On DS9, while many characters traveled a grand arc, O'Brien was the eternal Chief. (Unless you consider his evolution from TNG extra to be an arc.) Even having a son changed O'Brien none whatsoever. Perhaps because he was already mature, his lack of growth was less noticeable than Kim's because Kim would've been expected to emerge from his galaxy-spanning odyssey changed in some way. (After serving as a chew toy, one might imagine Kim was eager to get home so he could quit Starfleet for good.)

Kim earned mockery, and O'Brien did not, because Kim was portrayed as incompetent. (Except when the plot needed him to be a genius.) That would've been interesting if he had been aware of and bothered by it, like the misfits in "Good Shepherd." Instead, as Jammer explains here and which few will deny, he was a victim of the writers' neglect. The negativity aimed at Kim is a natural response to the character as portrayed; that he shouldn't have been portrayed so poorly earns Kim no sympathy.
SpiceRak2
Sat, Sep 14, 2013, 1:33am (UTC -5)
I understand your points, Grumpy. Perhaps I have not explained my position well enough.

Some have complained about Garrett Wang's performance, as well as his character's incompetence. I disagree with those views. I think Mr. Wang has portrayed a believable character in Harry Kim. And, I think that Harry Kim is competent although eternally "green." The disservice is in leaving him at Season 1.

This character helps to build the Delta Flyer, single-handedly creates Astro-Metrics and among other skills, understands Holomatrix technology but he is "the incompetent" one? I don't see that. What does this guy have to do to earn a pip on this ship?

He is also "green" in the area of romance, but only compared to the chemistry established with such pairings as Tom/Kes, Tom/B'Elanna, Janeway/Chakotay, The Doctor/Seven, etc. Harry Kim has forever been relegated to "wing man."

I really feel for the guy, if for nothing else than that he is the true "underdog."
Jo Jo Meastro
Sun, Oct 13, 2013, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
I've got to admit I did find it surprisingly entertaining, although it really isn't anything to write home about.

Harrys' situation was an interesting one where he's in an unknown conflict surrounded by catch-22s and opposition on every front, with serious self-doubts looming over his head; not to mention a hefty responsibility ranking up the pressure dangerously close to melting point.

His reactions are believable and while the episode didn't really live up to much of its potential, I liked the new sides shown to the character particularly with how he dealt with failure.

He's got the instincts, but life's got plenty left to teach him. My favourite scene was when Harry asks Janeway for a chance to prove himself. Her proud smile niggled with worry and thoughtfulness was a beautiful Voyager 'family' moment.

It's not perfect, the ending was abrupt and the juvenile B plot was a big waste of time, its definitively a good character story for the one guy who really needed one.

3/4 stars.
Cloudane
Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
As much as I laugh at Kim (not that I'm much better in my eternal dead end job - maybe it makes me feel better :P), it's just that he's written so endlessly green. I don't think it's fair to bash Mr Wang as an actor either, he could only do what was written for him.

Anyway, Kim is quite a developed character, in hindsight, after watching Enterprise with erm... wotsisname... thingy... Mayweather.
Steinway
Tue, Feb 11, 2014, 10:25am (UTC -5)
Previous to watching this episode I saw that Jammer gave it two stars, so I was prepared for something pretty mediocre. So I guess that's why I found myself entertained by the episode. I honestly thought it was well acted and the characterizations were good. I thought this was the best Harry episode besides "Timeless", but in this one he's actually playing his current self. Harry doesn't bother me like he does other people – he is a little bit of a caricature, but there are people in the world like that.

I thought the story with Icheb and B'Elanna was hilarious! I think the thing I liked best about this episode – not that I thought it was the greatest – was just the tension between the characters in both plots. I think that's what made it good for me.
Sean
Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 3:27am (UTC -5)
So Season 7 seems to be the trolling season so far. At least trolling the people who actually cared about this show being good.

You've got Repression. Which is basically "hey look at the things we could have done to make this show really good a long time ago." The mutiny that really should have happened in season 1 or 2. And should have been real. This reminded me of the other mutiny that was fake, Worst Case Scenario. Although that episode was more worthwhile since it was more of a fun episode where the mutiny was a holodeck program where everyone was enjoying playing the parts in it.

Then you've got Inside Man where we see episodes that could have been with the excellent Pathfinder cast. They brought back the entire that made Pathfinder so good and wasted them on a Ferengi episode. It only serves as a reminder of how these characters should have been a much larger part of the show.

And now Nightingale showing us an episode that should have happened in season 1 where Harry Kim actually gets some development. Learning how to be in command, realizing what it means to be in command. But we all know it won't stick. Harry will still be the lovable dumb sap that we all know and hate. So should I say "development."

I have already seen the series finale, so I know that we don't even see anything that happens after Voyager gets home. Because presumably that would be too difficult for the writers to come up with. No mention of Doc and Seven integrating into society. No mention of the crew coming home after being gone for seven years and trying to re-integrate (not that they ever thought they were going to not make it home anyway). No meetings with Barclay and the Pathfinder crew. Nothing. Just "Voyager's home, roll credits."

So basically season 7 is just trolling everyone who cared about the show. How did this happen.
Eli
Mon, Sep 8, 2014, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
I'd like to also throw some words of support towards Wong. I think he's a perfectly fine actor. Perhaps, his character should have had more meaningful stand alone episodes. But, he had some good roles from time to time. For instance, Ashes to Ashes was a very good episode in my opinion. I'm not an expert on Voyager, but I've probably seen 1/3 of the shows up to this point.

I think this show was an interesting exploration of the Prime Directive rules. It was a good conflict to compare and contrast what Kim might have learned since the academy. Unfortunately, the Voyager crew was not integrated into Kim's story, and the larger frame story was not fully developed. Due to the absence of a larger frame story, the episode hinges completely on Kim and the characters of the crew of the ship he commands. This puts a lot of pressure on the guest actors and Kim's character. Still, the episode accomplished the goal of featuring Kim as the main character in a reasonably appropriate plot for a personal journey.
navamske
Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
I thought it was odd that a member of a nonhuman species would use the word "humanitarian."

Oh, I get it. The Kraylor guy actually said, "[We're on a] Kraylorian [mission]” and the universal translator rendered it as "We're on a humanitarian mission." That must be it.
Nic
Thu, Nov 13, 2014, 8:45pm (UTC -5)
I don’t think we are supposed to accept Harry as a Captain. The whole point of the episode is that he thinks he can do it, but can’t (yet). And unlike Jammer I thought he did at least learn that much by the end. Still there are several problems:
-It came too late in the series. Season 4 would have been the right time, with room for Harry to grow from there.
-Wang’s acting (sorry. Sometimes he's good, but here he's just ok)
-A few logical issues, notably how ridiculously easy it was for Harry to « use [the enemy’s] weapons against them » twice in the episode.
Still, I respect the writer’s good intentions for once, so I’ll be generous and give it 2.5 stars.
Ben Masters
Wed, Jan 21, 2015, 4:31am (UTC -5)
When I saw Ron Glass in this one as Loken, I immediately thought, "That's the same one who played Harris on Barney Miller!" Sure enough, he was the very same.
bhbor
Sat, Apr 18, 2015, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Garret Wang himself complains that much like WIl Wheaton, Rick Berman had it out for him from the get-go which is why we saw Wesley Crusher ultimately sidelined more and more shortly after Gene Rodenberry's death.

Berman actually wanted to fire Wang, but Wang made it on the cover of some magazine and helped give the show some recognition and ultimately I think he was chosen over Kes. His punishment (in his mind) was that his charcacter would never be full developed beyond geeky sidekick. Wang himself complains that towards the end that the series had become nothing more than the, "Doctor/7 show"
Xylar
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 7:58pm (UTC -5)
Harry tries on the big boy pants. We all knew where this was going. He'd start with overconfidence, events would occur that made him doubt himself as a leader, someone gives him a peptalk and he accepts his limits and saves the day.
And then he's just plain old Harry Kim again. Poor guy has one interesting episode over the course of 7 seasons. That's rough. I always kind of liked Harry, but it seems he was destined to come in last.
The Icheb/B'elanna subplot was meh. It's believable, given what we know about Icheb but not really funny or interesting. Another episode of nothing really happened or changed and I doubt I'll remember this episode for very long.
Sandwichbar
Sat, Aug 29, 2015, 10:39am (UTC -5)
Voyager looks so small compared to the people standing on it. I don't think it's big enough.
TRIP
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 9:35am (UTC -5)
Garrett Wang is a good actor, but compared to Ryan and Picardo who are Excellent actors, it makes Wang's acting look bad in comparison. We have been privledged to see how Ryan and Picardo can convey emotions/messages through just their eyes or body language for a few seasons now. They raised the bar, and Wang can't compete.

I was a Manager of Operations in IT, and I know many people who have told me they have no interest in management. They are smart, technically minded people who are perfectly happy to stay where they are in life and career. Some of them would make great managers, but some would definitely not be good. Some people are born salesmen, whereas others can try, study, imitate, but never truly be as good as The Born Salesman. I believe the same goes for Leadership Qualities and People Skills. Kim has been written as someone who is technically gifted, but lacking in leadership. Time to take him off the night shift Captain duty, (before he beams up another bomb), and give someone else a chance to prove themselves. To Kim: Focus on your strengths. Command is not one of them.
TRIP
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 10:16am (UTC -5)
Everyone who violates the Prime Directive should be thrown into the Brig. I can just see Tuvok escorting Kim to the Brig. When they get there, we see Janeway and Torres behind a forcefield. They look at Kim and say at the same time "Prime Directive?". Kim just smiles, shrugs and says "What else, Prime Directive".

Even Picard violated The Prime Directive "9 times" as stated in one episode. Violating it has apparently no consequences at all.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Mar 21, 2016, 1:43pm (UTC -5)
It's almost endearing that even now as the series rolls toward its end there's still an idea that Harry Kim can carry an episode. Oh, this is inoffensive enough to be sure, but seeing Harry make a string of bad decisions that culminates in a 'success' that he has no right to be even doing at all does not a great episode make. The one great moment is Seven's askance look over her shoulder as Kim pronounces "Engage!" in portentous style.

The Icheb B-story is about as light as it gets, but amiable enough all the same. But only 2 stars.
Bryan
Mon, Apr 11, 2016, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
I liked how Icheb, being a typical teenager, is caught snacking on nachos at his workstation but plays it cool by rationalizing 'snacking' as "a more efficient use of my time", and 'nachos' as "nutritional supplements replicated to meet my metabolic requirements."
Skeptical
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Ah, the episode that raises a difficult question. Who is more naive, the bridge officer with seven years of experience in a challenging environment, or the Borg kid with less than a year of actual life experience? Decisions, decisions...

Speaking of the Icheb subplot, it was light as a feather, but perfectly adequate. Seeing him get involved more with the ship is a good idea and nice continuity with Survival Instinct, and I guess if anyone is going to have such a clueless romantic encounter it would be him. Dawson plays the part of the completely befuddled Torres perfectly, and her reactions once Icheb announces that they have to break it off was probably the best part. I also liked Icheb's interpretation of Tom talking about racing cars as being an invitation to a duel for Torres' honor. I wasn't expecting that part (I was expecting Icheb to interpret this as Tom being open to Icheb pursuing romantic relationship with B'Elanna), and I liked that interpretation of it. But like I said, this was a harmless fluff of a B-plot, and it filled its role adequately. Which is a good thing, because the A-plot failed.

I'm not one to complain about Harry being static. I think there were some attempts, albeit very light, to make him grow. In Demon, he really did stop being a wallflower and start asserting himself more, and I think that aspect of his character did stick with him through the 5th and 6th seasons. He did start getting command of the night shift. He did stop pining for home constantly. Yes, these are barely present, and there are incredible step-backs such as his naivete at the end of Inside Man, but they are there. So seeing him try to assert himself here works as well, and I think works reasonably given Harry's minimal character arc, rather than seeming to come out of nowhere.

The problem, though, is that it was done so poorly. Twice we have the patented Voyager method for character development. Character A acts in an extremely one-sided manner through several scenes. Character B has a talk with Character A. Character A then becomes the complete opposite of what he was like before. And then circumstances twist themselves in a way to validate the new approach Character A has. It's pretty ham-fisted, but it's an approach Voyager's been using for years. They love it so much they use it twice here, both times with Seven as the one to chat with Harry. Unfortunately, they both fail, albeit for different reasons.

In the first, we have Harry being completely incompetent in his first command, being so heavy handed about the people surrounding him. Given that he's been watching Janeway for seven years, and seeing that he's been running the night shift for a year, shouldn't he know that stuff by now? Was he really micromanaging things on the bridge of Voyager? That seemed rather ridiculousness to me. Seriously, Wesley had more ability as a leader back in Pen Pals than Harry does here. He was so pathetic that it basically rips his character apart. How is Seven smarter than him here?

And of course, the second time around was the wrong lesson. So Harry quits being captain after learning that he has inadvertently taken a side and engaged in military matters in a war. And then Seven claims he's only quitting because of his self-confidence. Excuse me? Harry is completely violating about a gazilion Federation protocols, so of course he should quit. Of course he ought to avoid working with them anymore. Yet the episode goes out of its way to declare that that is not the issue, that Harry should be helping these people. People who lied to him, who are transporting military equipment, who are basically trying to drag him into a war. What does he possibly owe these folks?

Really, the episode takes some time to make it clear how messy the situation is in and how delicate Voyager needs to be when treading in these internal affairs. But then throws it all away in a desperate attempt to give Kim something to do. It's bad writing when you completely fail to appreciate the larger points of your plot just to create a ham-fisted character development piece that doesn't really work to begin with.

And, like I said, the episode then creates a contrivance to show how awesome of a captain Harry can be. So what does he do? He violates the Geneva Convention. Well, ok, I'm sure there is no Geneva Convention in the Delta Quadrant, but his solution is basically a war crime. Faking a surrender is heavily frowned upon, and for good reason. What Harry taught his "enemies" is that his allies can't be trusted, and so the next time an ally tries to surrender the enemy will blow them to bits. After all, how can they be certain that an attempt at surrender isn't just another trick? But of course, the episode doesn't even think about that sort of thing.

I have no qualms with the idea of giving Harry some well needed character development, but it was just so clear that they had an endgame in mind and were going to force a bad plot into that endgame regardless of the logic or consequences of that plot.
AmagnonX
Sat, Apr 30, 2016, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
Harry just needs to set his phaser to kill - then exterminate all of the annoying people who are retarding his growth - mainly these people are script writers.

However, I would like to see Harry stabbing Janeway repeatedly in the head with a letter opener - it would certainly have me tuning in. Its about time Harry lost his cool - and kicked Chakotay in the nuts, and rammed his head into the coms panel for added effect.

Unlike most people, I really like Harry, but he has certainly been on the wrong end of the script for long enough - its time he went FULL RETARD! Get your self respect back Harry - its going to cost a lot of lives - but so long as its members of the Voyager crew - then all those lives are meaningless.
Chris Knight
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 8:47am (UTC -5)
The complaints that Harry has never been promoted are perhaps misplaced. You can't get promoted unless there's an opening in the TOE that fits your new rank. Generally such a position would have some ensigns under it. Now, where on Voyager would we find a position like that? Harry's only hope is that some unlucky lieutenant, one who's in a position he has some background and/or aptitude for, buys the farm and Harry can be promoted into that billet. Sure, Voyager had her share of casualties over the years, but not so many that this would be a sure thing.

Besides, everyone agrees that Harry's character didn't develop much (if at all) in seven years. Even if there was an opening he could have been promoted into, Janeway might well have decided that he wasn't ready.
Nolan
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 10:52am (UTC -5)
@Chris Knight

While this may be a reasonable in-universe reason for Harry's lack of advancement, it still doesn't excuse the writer's lack of ingenuity or reluctance to shake things up and give a long suffering character some development. He started the series green and wide-eyed and seven years later after experiencing many a life-changing experiences, ended the series green and wide-eyed.

I love comparing Harry, who is by all accounts a static, hardly changing character to DS9s Nog, who went from petty Juvinile delinquint to a starfleet lieutenant over the same time frame of seven years.

Again, there may be some in-universe reasons for the differences, but it really comes down to the writers of one show willing to take their characters places that evolve and change them, while the writers of another were too paralysed by fear to even allow for something that before now, (such as on TNG where promotions happen off-screen with hardly a mention) had been treated as a minor, almost unimportant event.

Tell you what though, I bet Harry was a bit ticked to find out when he got home that some upstart Ferengi child out-ranked him after only four years in Starfleet.

Imagine that storyline, Voyager gets home and Harry has PTSD and ends up wanting to go back to the DQ, because that's all he knows and is the only place he feels alive and worth anything, after being disatisfied with life at home.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 10:55am (UTC -5)
@ Chris Knight,

I don't tend to follow the Voyager reviews but I'm responding to your comment because the rank issue was a major peeve of mine while Voyager was on the air. Yes, promotions generally have as their assumption spots for the officers to occupy, but this is only a major issue with Commanders and Captains, who need to be CO's or XO's of a ship. Other than that you can have the tactical officer be an ensign, Lt., Lt. Commander; it doesn't really matter. The difference for the crew is that there is only so much you can learn as an ensign since a lieutenant would have new responsibilities. From what we gather from the ST universe being an ensign tends to last at most a few years. Lt. junior and then senior grade take more time to advance. Worf, for instance, was a Lieutenant for all of TNG. Data, as a Lt. Commander, was in Starfleet for (I think) 17 years, but in his case I think it's safe to assume they were slow to promote him because he was an android.

Kim needed to learn to handle more responsibility. Because he was one of the stars of the show he attended senior staff meetings (illogically), but even so when was he supposed to learn how to command if he was never promoted and trained? This is doubly true since any of the crew could have been killed at any time with no possible replacements. It's not that Janeway needed to have ten Lt. Commanders around, it's that she needed to have a number of people groomed to take command of the ship in case of an emergency. Plus she was treating them all like Starfleet officers through the whole series, and it's simply not fair to them as officers to deny them promotion arbitrarily. Kim stayed a kid for the whole series not because of some character flaw, but because they never bothered to write anything else for him. To be fair this could be because the actor was weak and they didn't think they could do anything with him, which I totally get. It's hard to recover from casting errors.
Yanks
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 10:57am (UTC -5)
A note concerning Harry's promotion opportunities on Voyager.

To say he can't be promoted until some other LT dies is gobbledygook.

They promoted Tuvok, didn't they?

A complete oversight on the writer's part.
Grumpy
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
With ranks, another issue is chain of command. Eventually, everyone on the ship would be promoted, and suddenly it's all chiefs and no braves, so to speak.

As others have said, the producers should have allowed the crew to grow. As higher-ranking officers are lost in shuttle crashes or turned into cubes and crushed, our heroes rise to take their place. New recruits -- Maquis, Equinox, Borg foundlings, useless loads like Neelix -- fill out the bottom ranks. That way, everyone knows who's in charge.

I'm thinking of "Band of Brothers," which clearly portrayed the promotions within Easy Company during their one year in combat.
William B
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
I don't have any military experience or anything. I've always wondered if, specifically in Trek, there is a kind of expectation that there are some junior officer positions which are department heads or bridge officers and that they are given a sort of automatic entry into "senior staff" (bridge officer) meetings, like Kim here. In TNG, Wesley and Ro tended not to be in senior staff meetings but nevertheless were in something of a privileged position as bridge officers. Same with Nog when he's the pilot on the Defiant, and I guess Paris during the demotion period. I think it makes some sense for navigation to go to very junior officers (ensigns) -- it is a very important position and one which requires a narrow set of skills which can be learned and "perfected" in youth, which does not require the level of leadership or judgment or breadth of knowledge that more senior positions require. I do find it odd that Ops, which was the place they put the multitasking supergenius second officer android in TNG, and which both The Most Toys and Future Imperfect suggest maybe would have gone to the ship's tactical officer (Worf) next is suddenly a job for an entry-level just-graduated ensign (even being a relief ops officer is, as we find out in Lower Decks, a lt. j.g. job), but I assume that it is a less taxing job on an Intrepid-class ship, due to a combination of easily imagined factors (e.g. it's a more compact ship and therefore there is less to manage, more functions seem to have been transferred to tactical, since Tuvok seems to have some of the duties equivalent to Data's). So Kim's attendance at "senior staff" meetings might make sense.

Really though it's very odd that Kim was never promoted. It'd be one thing if rank were declared not to matter, but Kim complains about Tom getting re-promoted above him ("there's no box on my chair") and in this ep says he would have been lieutenant or lieutenant commander by now. Tuvok gets promoted doing the exact same job. More to the point, it is not like there are many senior officers on the ship to begin with -- as far as I can remember, the only major characters we see with a rank over lieutenant junior grade are Janeway, Chakotay and Tuvok. Paris as the navigator *and* only medical personnel with commission, Torres who is the *chief engineer*, etc. could clearly eventually have gotten lieutenant senior commissions. Kim is apparently important enough and competent enough to be able to basically run the ship by himself in The Killing Game.

Checking Memory Alpha (memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/USS_Voyager_personnel), apparently there were a handful of other senior we never saw who were listed on jokey crew manifests named after crew members (i.e. Commander Rick Berman, Commander Brannon Braga, Lt. Commander Michael Piller) but I assume those don't count. I haven't bothered going through each page to see whether the lieutenants listed are junior or senior grade, because I may be a pedantic nerd but even I have my limits.
William B
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
I mean, Kim not getting promoted would make sense if, like "Tapestry" AU Picard or those "Good Shepherd" officers or whatever, Kim simply never distinguished himself, or was an actively weak officer. And sometimes this is sort of implied, with the sense that Kim has not changed in the series. But again, I think that doesn't match the level of importance Kim has as a main cast member or generally in anomaly of the week episodes. To the extent that he "can't get a lock" or whatever, or shows incompetence in ways that seem to be incidental to the plot, I don't get the impression that these are meant to be genuine flaws held against him. However, again, Kim-centric episodes seem to have him in this perpetual green ensign bubble. The comparison with Nog is not *entirely* fair because Nog's rapid ascent in terms of Starfleet status from illiterate to lieutenant j.g. requires either suspension of disbelief or the recognition that wartime requires promoting officers very fast, and I don't really think "in second year at the academy, Nog is now living on the station, in third year he's now a full ensign" is entirely earned. But I do agree that Nog was granted *character* development which outstrips Kim's quite a bit, unless I am misremembering the Kim material.
William B
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
To add to my earlier point, it does seem as if navigation is a common route to command -- Sulu, Chekov, Picard, Riker, Jellico, Geordi (who initially was, it's heavily suggested, on command track), and Worf started or spent a period of their career in navigation/helm, or at least such is implied -- and young prodigies being somewhat groomed for bright futures like Wesley, Nog and seemingly Ro (whose career Picard takes a particular interest in once he decides to defend her) are placed there as well. It makes sense to me that Ops on Voyager has a somewhat similar role as a testing ground for promising future command officers, which is why Kim's rank stasis is all the more notable. Obviously much of this is a matter of storytelling convenience -- if you want to do stories about low-ranking officers (or acting ensigns or whatever), there has to be some kind of role for them which will tend to be important to the plots of the week most of the time. But it makes sense that navigation (and on Voyager, apparently Ops) are positions which can be done with relatively little training and experience (as opposed to Chief Engineer or something) which allows particularly-promising-for-future-command junior officers to observe the goings-on.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
"I mean, Kim not getting promoted would make sense if, like "Tapestry" AU Picard or those "Good Shepherd" officers or whatever, Kim simply never distinguished himself, or was an actively weak officer."

Wasn't Ensign Kim designing engineering marvels throughout the series, including the Delta Flyer? Hardly the hallmark of an undistinguished middling officer who thrived on carrying reports around. This guy could probably have gone on to be a designer at Utopia Planitia after they got home.
William B
Tue, Jun 7, 2016, 3:55pm (UTC -5)
"Wasn't Ensign Kim designing engineering marvels throughout the series, including the Delta Flyer? Hardly the hallmark of an undistinguished middling officer who thrived on carrying reports around. This guy could probably have gone on to be a designer at Utopia Planitia after they got home."

Exactly. They regularly portrayed him as very competent and imaginative as an engineer and scientist, except in episodes that were specifically about how he's a loser who is perpetually 22.
Yanks
Wed, Jun 22, 2016, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
Jammer: "...which seems to be a last-ditch effort by the writing staff to redeem themselves for years of Harry non-growth. "

Ah, yup... and it wasn't a good one. Harry: "Captain, can I go play Captain please?" Can I huh, can I"?

Well, we get Ron Glass and I still want to learn more about Sheppard Book. :-)

The whole B'Elanna pregnant/Icheb thing was pretty darn funny. I about lost it when she said "I was hot!!" ... lol

It is what it is, Seven has to tell Harry how to be Captain.... jeesh... even when Harry is in charge he needs a kick in the nuts.

2.5 stars I guess.
Andrew
Wed, Aug 3, 2016, 10:28am (UTC -5)
Harry seemed delusional to be thinking of, let alone expecting Lieutenant Commander ...
Harry generally seemed bright rather than incompetent but I'm one of the fans who doesn't expect the characters to get promoted or see their not being promoted as indicating bad performance. In fact to me Dax getting promoted between DS9 Season 3 and 4 feels quite unearned (maybe just so she would outrank Bashir and not be outranked by Worf) and I think most agree Paris suddenly getting repromoted was quite unearned. Regardless, bad as "The Disease" was in it Harry did show some pretty bad judgment and it can provide a lot of explanation for why Harry didn't get promoted even if it otherwise would be expected.

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