Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 11/13/1995
Teleplay by Brannon Braga
Story by Anthony Williams
Directed by Cliff Bole
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"If you want to succeed in honing your telepathic abilities, you must learn to control these emotional outbursts."
"Outburst? It was a giggle!"
— Tuvok and Kes
Nutshell: Some good moments in an almost-reasonble episode, but the ending is purely silly.
The Voyager comes across another space station array—a smaller version of what brought them to the Delta Quadrant ten months earlier in the pilot episode, "Caretaker." On this station they find a small community of Ocampa residents—the descendants of Ocampa adventurers who, centuries ago, went against tradition by leaving their homeworld for space travel.
The leader of the Ocampa community, a man named Tanis (Gary Graham) takes to Kes and offers his guidance in developing her mental abilities. Before long, Kes is able to telekinetically move teacups across the table, cause water to boil, and even, in one rather bizarre scene, accidentally begin to boil Tuvok's blood. (If there's one thing this scene proves, it's that Jennifer Lien was definitely not hired for her screaming ability.)
Through Tanis, Kes is able to fully utilize a full range of her mental abilities, and experiences her dark side emerging when she takes pleasure in killing a room full of plants. Tanis invites her to live on the space station with the other Ocampa so that she might realize her full potential, which gives Kes a big decision to make.
Speaking of the array, Tanis has more to offer than just education for Kes. He also knows about the Caretaker. In fact, the Caretaker's mate (whom Janeway hoped would be able to send the Voyager back to the Alpha Quadrant one day), protects Tanis' array. The "Caretakers" are actually from a race called the Nacine; Tanis' Caretaker is a Nacine named Suspiria. Janeway hopes Tanis can arrange for her to meet Suspiria.
Unfortunately for Janeway and the crew, the Voyager has obtained a bad reputation. Many, Suspiria included, think Voyager killed the Caretaker when they destroyed his array. Kes' connection with Tanis ties into the plot rather tidily—as she begins to sense the bond between Tanis and Suspiria, she becomes aware of Suspiria's intense anger—and the fact that Suspiria wants to destroy the ship.
This leads to the inevitable final act where Janeway's first meeting with Suspiria is crosscut with the coinciding scene where Kes learns of Suspiria's motive. This revelation works fairly well assuming you don't know what Suspiria is up to. Unfortunately, the idea that Suspiria wants to destroy Voyager is not a surprise simply because the previous week's preview gives it away.
Once the episode reveals what Suspiria is doing, the episode gives us a horror-style ending, in which Janeway walks into engineering to find Torres and Tuvok hanging unconscious in mid-air by Suspiria's superior powers. Dennis McCarthy has some fun with the violins this week, creating a creepy tone. But the creepiness turns to hokiness when Suspiria's powers are subdued, causing Tuvok and Torres to fall 15 feet without serious bodily injury.
Really, if you think about any event in this ending for more than about ten seconds, you're bound to scratch your head. The manner in which Janeway traps Suspiria is clumsily handled and hardly believable. The connection between Tanis and Suspiria makes an obvious plot device, but has no real justification or explanation. And why is it Tanis so desperately wants Kes to come live on the array? Why is he so taken by her abilities? What does she offer his people? And why does Suspiria prove so stubborn and refuse to negotiate? And what exactly happens to the array and its inhabitants after Suspiria and Tanis retreat into subspace? Too many plot points are left unresolved; others feel forced and unclear in this unimpressive finale.
This is too bad. The story is certainly agreeable for its first four acts as Kes uncovers her hidden powers. But everything else rides on the conclusion, which, unfortunately, prompts just one question: What is the point of this episode? The only discernible answer is that the writers want to introduce the Nacine as Voyager's potential chance to get home, because other than that, there's no impact on any of the characters. Kes' powers disappear as soon as Tanis leaves, illustrating another example of Reset Button Plotting—how to change characters just so they can change back 30 minutes later.
Introducing the Nacine could have been done any time, and the writers should have done it at a time when they had a knockout story to deliver. Instead, they squander a promising card on an average story. I was looking forward to seeing another from the Caretaker's race, but not really in an underwhelming story like this.
Voyager is still having a generally disappointing season thus far, and there's only one consistent reason—the writing. "Cold Fire" is a prime example. Here's a premise that could have (and should have) been a reasonable turning point in the season. Instead, it's another mediocre installment which proves even more disappointing because of what it could have been.
Previous episode: Tattoo
Next episode: Maneuvers
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44 comments on this post
Thu, Sep 18, 2008, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Aug 3, 2009, 11:22am (UTC -5)
At "Exosia" I could take no more.
Mon, Feb 7, 2011, 10:31am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 12, 2011, 1:22am (UTC -5)
(but boy they sure don't bother with continuity do they?)
This show is about characters and ideas, it's not the Dungeons and Dragons style plot machination show that DS9 and late TNG were. The plots exist solely to serve the character arcs which (except for Kes) move very slowly and carefully across seven seasons (wow). In other shows (ahem), characters change back and forth so wildly, it's a good thing there are big plots going on to distract one from the oscillation.
Wed, Mar 16, 2011, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
A pity they never concluded the Suspira story arc, however.
Sun, Apr 17, 2011, 2:18pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, yes, I agree with Jammer. The consistent problem on Voyager was the writing. I think all the actors are both competent and very likable. There are even moments when I don't hate Neelix! But, the writing... Oh boy, the writing is awul!
However, sometimes the terrible writing provides some unintentional comedy, such as when Janeway went crazy and started speaking in tongues a few weeks ago in "twisted". In an odd way, I appreciate those moments. They keep the show from getting boring. Of course, it would be better if the show could be kept from being boring by actually being good. But, I digress.
Two stars for this episode from me.
Tue, Aug 16, 2011, 8:49am (UTC -5)
Ocampa dude's BIG TWIST was ruined by the same problem that's plagued every single betrayal in voyager to date including Seska's: he just looked wildly untrustworthy from the get-go. I don't know whether it's a casting thing or what but he might as well have twirled his mustache at us.
Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
This other caretaker should have know that her fine friend over at the Ocampan home world was randomly abducting, torturing and abandoning people, leaving Voyager and its inhabitants stranded, 70 years away from their loved ones, for a lot probably never to see their families again - ever.
That's why you do the "I mean you no harm routine", of course in true Janeway style followed up by immediately "weaponizing".
It's frightening to know the more evolved species become in Star Trek, the more violent they become. Even in our society families of victims sometimes meet (and forgive) the victim's murderer(s). Alas, at the time you're a superbeing, you kill at first sight. Let's redefine "civilization".
It should have been a fierce discussion between the crew and this Suspiria about the horrors her mate back at the array did to Voyager and its inhabitants - not to mention all those others we never saw. And maybe this Suspiria could have reached out by hurling them a few extra thousand of light years way home or so. But no.
A depressing story.
Sun, Jan 6, 2013, 1:32am (UTC -5)
What was it they were called? Oh yes: "Ship of Death." This point is emphasized in the review at SF Debris, noting that it came up again two weeks later in "Resistance." Now that I think about it, this "legend of Voyager" was a recurring motif throughout the series. For example, in "Future's End," Voyager is infamous for destroying the timeline. The motif features most prominently in "Living Witness" and, a few weeks after that, in "Hope & Fear." It's found somewhat in "Distant Origin" and arguably in "Course: Oblivion," in both cases with Voyager as a forgotten ancestor (inverted as the "Ship of Life"?). By "Think Tank," Voyager's reputation was so bad that they couldn't figure out which of many enemies might have a vendetta against them.
Voyager-as-legend is seen most often in Season 6: "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy" (faulty intelligence exaggerates Voyager's power); "Pathfinder" (Barclay's obsession with the simulated crew) followed two weeks later by "Blink of an Eye" (Voyager inspires a religion) and "Virtuoso" the week after that (Doc becomes a celebrity); and "Muse" (Voyager's tale inspires a poet). All of those are reiterated in Season 7's "Author, Author."
While the Suspiria plotline was never revisited, the "Ship of Death" motif, and more broadly the idea of Voyager's reputation preceding it, is one of the core themes of the series.
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 5:30am (UTC -5)
The episode does some important work establishing a backdrop of Kes' powers, as well as suggesting reasons why Kes really will have to leave the ship eventually. While she doesn't end up seeing the Voyager crew as "pets," it's not hard to imagine a superpowered Kes post-"The Gift" feeling that way. (I suppose having total power and difficulty controlling rage is what leads to "Fury," but I don't really know what to make of that episode.) This also does some nice work for the Kes/Tuvok relationship. And I like some aspects of the Kes/Tanis scenes -- the reveal of the dead plants is creepy, for example, and I like some of the ideas if not their representation.
At core I think one of the issues of the episode is whether philosophical exploration necessarily leads to being disconnected from other people's experiences -- Tanis' discussion of how he and Kes can see the true deeper reality whereas those around them stay on the surface seems to me to be more centrally about this topic. And that's a fascinating issue to explore, and I applaud the episode for devoting so much of its time to dialogue scenes. Still, these scenes, almost to a fault, just involve Tanis stating his views and Kes halfheartedly disagreeing if he says something anti-the crew or nodding in excitement if he says something that doesn't seem objectionable. There isn't much interesting development of the ideas of Tanis, and while there is some effort to visualize these ideas (like the saturation, the shots of the molecules) they are not insightful enough to carry these long scenes.
While the episode has some value as part of Kes' longterm arc, I really don't think there's enough story to sustain this episode. Tanis is too obviously untrustworthy early on for it to be in doubt what Kes should do, and I don't think there's really a need for it -- the suggestion that Kes will eventually see her non-Ocampa friends as being below her, and the question of whether she should explore her power to the exclusion of her current family, with all that entails, could have been dealt with without Tanis eventually nearly killing Neelix just because he interrupted or without him also working with an entity set on destroying the ship.
I like Grumpy's rundown of the ways in which the ship's reputation is a recurring theme throughout the show. So that is some good on a series-wide basis to come out of the Suspiria story. But that's very little. The Suspiria story has no real development, running as a handful of lines and moments through the main Kes/Tanis plotline before heading to the big climax which is over before it's even begun. I don't care that much about plot details, but the idea that Suspiria and Tanis and the whole space station of Ocampa couldn't use their psychic powers to determine whether Janeway is telling the truth about not having killed the Caretaker somewhat bothers me; the whole plot hinges on a misunderstanding which Suspiria of all entities should have been able to clear up right away.
I dunno, 2 stars? 1.5?
Sun, Apr 7, 2013, 5:36am (UTC -5)
It is weird how much of a nonentity Suspiria is to the story. The opening narration by Majel Barrett Roddenberry even reminds us of the Caretaker's destruction and its mate, and the early scenes suggest this will be the main thing of import in this episode. While Suspiria is important to the story insofar as she is the reason given for these Ocampa to have developed their telekinetic powers more strongly, she herself is an extreme cipher who only has impact in the final act, which is goofy and quickly dispensed with. None of the emotion of this story is related to Suspiria, and she only worsens the Tanis/Kes material by making Tanis that much worse.
Tue, Oct 1, 2013, 1:54pm (UTC -5)
Worst of all, Bad Captain then releases the best chance they've had to get home in the past 10 months without any negotiations at all!
I understand the writers were under pressure to insert this, but that final act was a real let down compared to the excellent content in the rest of the episode. Jammer's got this one spot on.
Sun, Oct 13, 2013, 8:00am (UTC -5)
At the very end of the show Janeway (in voiceover) tells us that she'll be looking for a way to find Susperia again so that she can bring the ship home. Okay.
Um ... why not ask the remaining 1999 Ocampa in that space array thingie? Wouldn't they be bound to know stuff about where Susperia and Tanis went? Couldn't they offer clues or advice?
Tanis gave the distinct impression that no one on the array wanted to be in vcontact with Voyager, true ... but to just abandon the array withoput even TRYING to communicate and get some answers?
Tue, Mar 4, 2014, 9:23pm (UTC -5)
Yup. Magic wand of Trek writing.
Fri, Mar 7, 2014, 1:08am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 22, 2014, 2:33am (UTC -5)
Sure, it was an ok episode with a really enjoyable horror tone. I really liked how it looked sort of creepy. The scene with Tuvok was nice, hehe. But DLPB is right: he surviving this feels like the magic wand of Trek writing... Besides, what a lame ending, Jammer is completely right on this one. As Caine has said above, the captain is to leave without even trying to comunicate again? Oh yes, and how easy it was for a young untrained Ocampa like Kes to hurt a trained master and, by consequence, to weaken the mighty Susperia. Blah. Very lazy writing. Worst, now Kes lost her new abilities just because... oh never mind. Everything that happens is for nothing, right?
Of course this one certainly had important character develoment. But please, it is obvious that so far (I never watched Voyager before and do not know about the future episodes) Voyager does not bother too much with continuity. One episode that touches character development is certainly not in contradiction to that.
Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 7:53am (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 26, 2014, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
Especially when it's revealed that Kes didn't have any powers after Tanis leaves.
I took it at face value that this Ocampa colony wanted to take her in, to save her when they let Susperia enact her revenge. But here's Tanis, teaching her how to use powers he was giving her (as opposed to training her to use any innate powers SHE had), and she uses them on him so conveniently yet he doesn't throw his off switch?
Such wasted potential... more time, more thought, maybe a 2-parter as most of the material was built up extremely well, just to be unraveled at the end out of convenience.
Part of me was hoping Tanis would get her to apply to the ship what he trained her to do with the plants - fry 'em with kindness. Again, a 2-parter could have fleshed out so much more.
And, yup, how could Tuvok - or any organic life form - sustain a 30 degree (celcius) change instantly and for that long... it was a chilling scene, but - yup - all is well.
Voyager definitely was influenced by TOS, including the scribbled writing and "next scene later, we're all fine" routine. ("The Deadly Years" being a perfect example, or the number of times Scotty gets killed only to be revived in an instant...)
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 2:09am (UTC -5)
After a pretty satisfying, yet lengthy appetizer tasting menu, we're prepared for the main course. The plate is set before us which consists of simply dried, moldy bread slathered in what seems to be actual shit.
Enjoy what you can; just make sure to satiate your appetite before the last course here at the Unfulfilled Potential Restaurant and Bar.
Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
Heh, I know what you mean. That said, I think I'm becoming immune to Voyager's problems. Of course this episode is a lost opportunity. Of course the reset button was annoying. Of course the plotting wasn't as good as it could have been. But still, I generally liked it anyway. Part of the reason for that is that, by focusing on the Ocampa rather than the Caretaker, we got a better story. Yes, it's unfortunate that we couldn't spend more time with Susperia as well, but the Ocampa was better.
Let's face it, so far the Ocampa were basically sentient tribbles without the reproduction aspect. They are cute, cuddly, harmless, innocent little creatures that you just can't help but try to hold and protect them. All we saw of the Ocampa was the neutered version that the first Caretaker had, sterile people that were just sitting around slowly waiting for extinction. Then we have Kes, the childlike innocent one who is always eager to learn and help out and always perfectly kind and sweet to everyone. It's not a surprise that we anthropomorphize the Ocampa to be "good guys". We see them the way we want to see them, as the tribbles, a perfectly harmless bunch of elves.
And now, we find out that they can kill you with their brain. Not so harmless now, are they?
I mean, I thought the raptor scream was silly too at first, but I do think it does work. If it was a normal scream, Kes would be no different than any of hundreds of actresses in horror movies. We would see her as human. But in that scene, she should be alien instead. She's the one setting Tuvok on fire, after all, and she's the member of the species we are finding out is much more terrifying than initially thought. It should be a bizarre, unsettling scene. So maybe the raptor scream was a bit silly, but I can see the logic behind it. It's a bit unfortunate that so many people saw it as just a joke.
But the scene of Kes killing the plants was even better. Again, I don't know if the actual execution was that great, but the idea was smart. First of all, it was unexpected. It started out with Kes feeling the plants, something tender and kind. And then, she killed them all. And scariest of all, she didn't seem to mind. Her little garden was something she cared deeply about, and wanted to grow and nurture those plants. And yet she killed them all without a thought. And enjoyed killing them. And felt no remorse, no concern afterwards. Again, this is contrary to the standard expectation we had of the Ocampa and of Kes. It's frightening and disturbing. It's completely alien to us. And yet it remains all the same.
DPC was right, Tanis should have used this approach at the end. I mean, the "these puny humans are beneath you" thing has been seen dozens of times before. Tanis should have reminded her of the rapturous joy she felt in destroying those plants. He could remind her that she had never felt closer to the plants, had never felt them as deeply and emotionally as when she brought the fire. And in that instant, she felt more connected to those plants than she had ever been with anyone. Closer than with Neelix, closer than with Tuvok. If she truly cared about the crew of the Voyager, if she truly wanted to be close to them, there was only one way to do it.
Of course, Kes would protest. We would expect nothing less. Perhaps she can even turn it back on Tanis. If that is true, after all, why doesn't Tanis kill the people closest to him? Then Tanis could reveal that he DOES, that all of the Ocampa on this array do. When they reach the end of their lifespan, their closest friends and family gather around them and use their telekinetic powers to euthanize the elderly. Tanis did it to his father, and it was a beautiful, heartwarming moment for him. He looks forward to the day that his children will do it to him. But Kes will not outlive her friends on Voyager. She will never truly know Neelix. She will never feel the beautifully of becoming one with the people she kills. Unless she does it.
(I'm reminded of Stranger in a Strange Land here: the Martians in that novel eat their dead in order to fully "grok" them. Something like that is what I'm trying to get at; an act that is truly horrifying for us but is perfectly natural and loving to the alien.)
The rest of the episode would continue on as it did here. Except at the end, Kes' powers wouldn't leave. She'd simply refuse to use them anymore, out of fear of hurting anyone accidentally again. And just as scary to her, out of fear that she would enjoy it. She felt something inside her when she hurt Tuvok, and a part of her does wonder if Tanis is right, that she is missing out on something complete by not fully understanding her shipmates. Tuvok can tell her of his own emotions, and the Vulcan use of logic to control them. And it can end on much the same note, with Tuvok helping her to control these feelings and to move forward.
So yes, it's a wasted opportunity and that's unfortunate. But I like what this episode did for Kes. There's some depth in there, even if the episode failed to follow up on it. So yes, I like the episode despite its flaws. Like I said, I think I'm becoming immune to Voyager's problems. I guess we'll see how immune I get the next time they have some sort of massively ridiculous piece of "science" like a hole in the event horizon...
Thu, Aug 6, 2015, 11:33am (UTC -5)
I remember the Kes/Tuvok scenes and interactions being wonderful. I remember Kes' "powers" intriguing Tuvok.
I remember dead plants.
I remember Soval :-)
I remember Kes deciding to stay.
But I too remember being a little more than disappointed with the ending. We just met the Caretaker's blood relative and nothing...
I'll go 2.5 stars.
Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 5:29am (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 19, 2015, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
But how could that apply to the caretakers? For them 70,000 light years is a blink of an eye. Only the Q could pull off something like that. No amount of space should keep the caretakers from having another run-in with Voyager. So once again careless writing is the only thing I can think of.
It's too bad Kes didn't get the chance to enhance those abilities to a tee before they jettisoned her in the 4th season. She would have been able to resist Tieran's mind invasion completely from what we've already seen of her abilities.
I did find it odd that the caretaker's mate was still so young compared to him. I guess those 'fertile grounds' he mentioned kept her from aging. But it also looks like it kept the array from expanding as well. The size differences between hers and the pilot's were night and day.
Also found it strange that given their vast powers she did not know that voyager was not responsible for her mate's death. He simply died of...old age. But I'm guessing when the caretakers pass away they all become some chunk of mineral rock. But we really don't know, do we?
That's pretty much my point. Too little explained in this. And we still know next to nothing about these caretakers. And like the tricobalt missles used to destroy the first array we would not hear from either of them ever again. Not even one followup.
1 to 1.5 stars is all I can give. At the very least they could have confronted the caretakers once and for all considering they were the ones who kickstarted this voyage to begin with.
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 10, 2016, 11:00am (UTC -5)
A couple of interesting shock moments do lend a rare, if slight, horror twist - Tuvok's exploding head being a nice one - but overall another misfire. "Ship of death" indeed. 2 stars.
Sat, May 21, 2016, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 11, 2016, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
he didn't feel jealous of kes and tanis even though their from the same race, can speak with each other trough their mind and i felt that he was a bit to interested in her.
and neelix even left them together in one room.
so far he was always way to jealous but now he isn't
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 1:35am (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 13, 2016, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
It'd been many years since I'd seen this one, and I'd forgotten much. Like the voice-over at the beginning, which I didn't see the point of. Maybe they figured many folks had missed the pilot, or didn't remember, but I thought they'd mentioned the Caretaker a few times up to now, and had said something about his mate, just not recently. It seemed out of place to me. That let us know Susperia was going to be in it, instead of letting us figure it out on our own.
*10 1/2 months ago, Voyager was taken from their part of the galaxy by a powerful entity know as the Caretaker. During the course of their experience, they encounter a race known as the Kazon, which they eventually encounter a few times. These were dangerous foes who didn't seem to really have a plan for, well, anything, but they like to shoot things. Which makes them dangerous. Oh, and they have muddy feathers (or something) in their hair. Just in case you forgot...*. I'll be looking for the Kazon voice-over when we see them next, which I think is soon.
I really liked Kes in this one, although I'd forgotten how much time was spent just walking around and talking, though I didn't mind too much. I think the character had great potential, but nobody had an idea what to do with her. And I too was waiting to see a shot of a crowd of Ocampans, or for them to go visit the station. And yes, it was nice seeing Neelix not fly into a rage because Kes is talking to someone. On a whole, I liked the episode until the end, which reminded me of the TNG episode "Imaginary Friend". Even the actress reminded me of the *friend*. Then, same as in that one, the alien flies away after they convince it they really are good sentients.
And lastly, it's been ten months. How long is the gestation for the human/alien baby? Did they say? Shouldn't we have had a birth around now?
Extra lastly, Jammer mentioned the trailer from the previous week ruining part of the plot. I stopped watching any trailer after seeing the one for TNG's "Cause and Effect" ("The Enterprise is caught in a Tiiiiime Loop"), which gave the thing away. I was, umm..., ticked, to say the least. I think I mentioned that in my review of said episode. :D
Have a great day, gentle sentients... RT
Mon, Jan 2, 2017, 6:20am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 3, 2017, 10:17am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 19, 2017, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
I'm surprised Janeway wasn't more suspicious of Tanis and Kes spending so much time together but she's desperate to get in touch with the other Caretaker. It should be obvious that Tanis is not one to be trusted - he's a pretty shady character from the start. Why wasn't he able to fight back when Kes used her new-found powers on him after he sent Neelix flying.
The ending is a bit ridiculous as has been mentioned. I think the episode wasted far too much time with Kes/Tanis and exploring telekinesis -- should have spent more time on the Caretaker part. And yes, a ton of questions left unanswered. Quite unsatisfying in that regard.
I'd rate it 2/4 stars. Had some interesting moments and is not a bad episode but definitely not a very good one.
Thu, Jul 20, 2017, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 11:55am (UTC -5)
The Kes material works a little better for me this time, though the ending is a little blunted. Kes' role in the series is clearly to be *a young adult*, and the arc is shaping up that Kes initially latches onto Neelix as her saviour/lover and Voyager as her substitute family, but she's also growing at a much faster rate than anyone on the ship. Having her paired up with middle-aged Tuvok and Neelix and to some degree unchanging the Doctor is another way of emphasizing what her abbreviated lifetime actually means; she is necessarily going to reach middle age in a time period that (for Tuvok especially, but for the others as well) basically is just a blip in their lives, and she has no real time to waste in letting other people catch up with her if she starts finding out that there is more to her life than what she's already decided it is. The idea that maybe Kes is mistaking her gratitude and affection for Neelix and the Voyager crew for opening up new vistas to her for real love and belonging is a powerful one and one that seems to resonate with the direction her story will go. And while I was pretty skeptical of Janeway making the claim on a whim in Caretaker, this does also pay off her suggestion that maybe the Ocampa can take care of themselves. Tanis is not actually a good model for Kes overall. He and Tuvok are the two primary tutors of Kes in this episode, and Tuvok (over) emphasizes emotional control because that's how his species (and he personally) operated, whereas Tanis seems intent on large-scale destruction and total emotional abandon (fire!) which ends up matching what we learn about Suspiria, and suggests that he doesn't have any real independence despite his claims to the contrary. And Kes can still choose not to harm her friends and loved ones. But she's not quite as harmless as she seems, and I like the idea that she is somewhat locked into the personality she had as a one-year-old in the view of the rest of the slowly-changing crew and that she is rapidly discovering parts of herself that she didn't know she had. The hard-reset ending (for now) is a disappointment and I'm not positive about Lien's performance sometimes but I feel like I have a better sense of what is going on, and this is probably actually the best episode since Projections. 2.5 stars is fair.
Fri, Sep 29, 2017, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
The Nacene aren't that powerful apparently if all it takes is a barely trained Ocampa, an anti-sporocystian gun (lol), and a forcefield to kill one.
Can a forcefield even hold a being that can travel through sub-space? I have no idea. I guess it can though.
My major problem is that they finally had an interesting character, Kes, on the ship and they totally drop the whole plotline. All of her newly gotten powers just magically disappear. Well, for 2 years anyway. The whole 'Kes becoming a god' thing could have been pretty cool if it was a recurring plot.
2 1/2 stars.
Wed, Dec 20, 2017, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 17, 2018, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
After the brief recap of “Caretaker” in which we are reminded of the existence of Banjoman's mate (whom I suspect guises herself as Lulu Hogg), we pick up with Tuvok and Kes practising mind powers, as she had indicated had become their custom in “Persistence of Vision.” Through a mindmeld-adjacent head-grab, Kes is able to sense the minds of the crew. I very much like the way in which Tuvok describes the act of disciplining the mind. Unlike with things like, say, the pond analogy in “Parallax,” the notion of treating the minds of the crew like a symphony and honing in on the various instruments with emotional distance, is sort of compelling. She is drawn to the mind of Neelix, who is heard to be worrying over his haircut. God pity the ensign who has been assigned to to trim Neelix' ear hairs. It's probably Chell.
TUVOK: If you are to succeed in honing your telepathic abilities, you must learn to control these emotional outbursts.
KES: Outburst? It was a giggle.
TUVOK: Tomorrow I will teach you a Vulcan mind control technique that will help you inhibit your giggles.
Cute. We follow Kes to the sickbay where the EMH is a bit possessive about sharing his teacher-status with Tuvok. Before we can get into things, a ringing sound fills the air. The sound is coming from a storage closet which is housing the remains of Bajoman. After a moment, it stops shaking and singing, going silent.
Act 1 : **.5, 17%
The Doctor reveals to Janeway and co. that for a moment, the remains were emitting lifesigns, but no longer. They consider how much they don't really understand about Sporocystians (yeah, maybe you people should have been studying this rock instead of letting it collect dust) when it starts up again. Torres figures out that the remains are reacting to the lifesigns of a different Sporocyst, like a radiation detector. Kim is tasked to track the original source and finds a spot about 10 lightyears distant. The prospect of finding Lulu Hogg puts the crew in hopeful spirits about getting home...again.
TORRES: We've placed the remains in a HEXIPRISMATIC field, Captain. The next time it responds to sporocystian energy, the field should give us a heading to the source.
JANEWAY: You're using the remains like a compass.
Ah, that's the kind of “Parallax”-style bullshit, we know and love. After stealing a smile with Chakotay, a moment I quite liked, Tuvok proposes they take some precautions against the potentially dangerous Sporocyst they're pursuing. He suggests a toxin of some sort.
Well, their compass works and takes them to another array like the one in “Caretaker,” but it's much smaller. Scans reveal the presence over 2000 Ocampans on board. These Ocampa aren't the garden-happy gophers from the pilot though, as they immediately start firing weapons at the Voyager. After a bout, one Ocampa man hails and warns Janeway away, telling her they are not welcome.
Act 2 : **, 17%
An elated Kes is brought to the bridge.
KES: The idea that there could be Ocampa anywhere but on the homeworld is something no one ever considered. I thought I was the only one.
Janeway asks her to help her arrange a meeting, and she successfully convinces a few of them to join them in the conference room. The Ocampa are openly hostile towards Janeway and co., suggesting they're trying to kill Lulu Hogg. It is revealed that the Voyager is regarded as a “ship of death” in this region. This makes some sense: in “Caretaker” a Kazon Ogla vessel was destroyed by Chakotay; in “Ex Post Facto,” Paris is connected with the murder of a prominent Benean scientist; in “State of Flux,” a group of Nistrim are melted to death by a Federation replicator; and in “Initiations,” the Ogla Majh is killed thanks to interactions with Chakotay. Well it turns out the Kazon (Seska) have been spreading rumours about the Voyager and ruining its reputation, saying they regularly steal resources from other worlds, declared war on the Kazon themselves, and murdered Banjoman. While Janeway and Chakotay defend their actions, the lead Ocampa, Thanos or whatever, telepathically asks Kes to speak to her alone. Kes asks for some privacy and the others leave.
Thanos is more interested in Kes' personal life for some reason, and she gives him a brief tour of her life on the Voyager. He finds the ship impossibly sterile and barren, and it turns out he's fourteen years old, nearly twice a typical Ocampa lifespan. For whatever reason, men can't seem to help but condescend to Kes, as Thanos literally laughs at her naïvety. Lulu Hogg (I'm not calling her Susperia) has helped these Ocampa develop their mental powers and extend their lives, an approach to care-taking quite different from her mate. He proves how advanced their abilities have become by causing all the plants in the aeroponic bay to grow spontaneously, and leaves her to ponder her options.Janeway is quite pleased with the diplomatic progress, but Kes is feeling a bit overwhelmed. Tuvok advises a non-emotional response (duh), and Janeway suggests cautious optimism.
Thanos returns to the array and makes telepathic contact with Lulu Hogg who quite cheesily tells him that he can have the girl, but is to bring the ship to her. Bwahahahahha
Act 3 : **, 17%
During a tepid dinner scene, Thanos makes two offers, one to the crew to bring them to the “meeting place” and one to Kes to remain with her cousins on the array. Neelix starts of course but Janeway once again advises being cautious but thoughtful about the prospect. The topic turns inevitably back to the issue of mental powers, as Kes is eager to learn more. So Thanos agrees to give her some coachings.
For dessert, Tuvok and the EMH show Janeway the toxic weapon they've been developing. Kes meanwhile is trying to learn telekinesis while Neelix observes. With Thanos' help and the aid of analogies, Kes is able to heat a cup of tea. She says that the process seems so simple in retrospect. Later on, Kes reports her breakthrough to Tuvok and attempts to demonstrate the “next level” the “fire in her mind.” This quickly leads to the infamous face-melting scene, which is effectively horrifying. As far as Kes' Nazgûl scream, I kind of like it.
Act 4 : ***, 17%
The EMH is able to fix him right up, of course, leading to some expectedly amusing banter. But more significant is this exchange:
TUVOK: You are probably feeling the emotion known as remorse, possibly guilt. I advise you to look on this incident as a learning experience.
KES: It's not that easy. I almost killed you.
TUVOK: That is correct. But you did not. Try to remember that.
For one thing, I love the characterisation of Tuvok here. His mentorship of Kes is about more than honing her abilities, it's also about giving her the tools to evolve the discipline required to master extraordinary abilities. For another, it's a harbinger of where Kes' arc is taking her, and does a much better job at exploring how her powers coincide with her personality than “Time and Again,” “Cathexis” or “Persistence of Vision.”
Kes an Thanos have another meeting in the aeroponic bay, and she informs him that she is reticent to leave the Voyager, especially after the accident with Tuvok.
TANIS: I'm afraid it isn't going to get any easier, Kes. You're already starting to manifest abilities far beyond anything you've ever imagined. Soon you'll be so far beyond the other beings on this ship that you'll look at them as they look at pets.
In a lot of ways, Thanos' whole touch-with-the-fire spiel reminds me of the way the Q or the Prophets condescend to humans. I remember this scene being really cheesy when I watched it as a kid, but honestly, I kind of dig now. Despite the somewhat underwhelming visuals, Lien sells the idea of breaking free from her humanoid shell quite well. Kes has learnt to objectify life and death, something at odds with her natural compassion. While Bajoman chose to be a kind of benevolent clock-maker god, Lulu Hogg has taken a very different approach with these Ocampa. They have been exulted to demi-gods, and the accompanying arrogance tells us a lot about the kind of caretaker she has chosen to be.
Act 5 : *.5, 17%
Some CGI craziness has gotten itself into Engineering and repeated calls from the bridge yield no response. In the Mess Hall, Thanos tells Kes that it's time to leave the Voyager. Tuvok and a security team investigate the engine room and report that Lulu Hogg has arrived, prompting Janeway to join him. When Janeway arrives, instead of Lulu Hogg, she encounters a young girl in a pink dress, weeping over Bajoman's remains. Kes makes telepathic contact and realises that Hogg is horribly angry and vengeful. And indeed, there's a bit of a horror show in Engineering as Lulu Hogg has strung up the crew like turkeys, inflicts massive pain and starts tearing the ship apart.
Amidst this goofiness, Kes unleashes her dark phoenix powers upon both Thanos and Lulu Hogg, showing a wilfulness that's been sorely lacking in her character thus far. Janeway is freed long enough to use her toxin and incapacitate the Sporocyst. In what is supposed to me a momentous gesture, Janeway shows the girl mercy and releases her. And Lulu Hogg repays this gesture by...leaving and taking all the Ocampa with her to Exocompland or whatever.
In the epilogue, it turns out Kes' abilities have become dormant again, as she has reverted back to her teaser level. She wants to bury this darkness away for ever, regretting having been tempted to go with Thanos.
TUVOK: Without the darkness, how would we recognise the light? Do not fear your negative thoughts. They are part of you. They are a part of every living being, even Vulcans.
TUVOK: The Vulcan heart was forged out of barbarism and violence. We learned to control it, but it is still part of us. To pretend it does not exist is to create an opportunity for it to escape.
Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%
The episode is rescued by the interactions between Kes and Tuvok which do wonderful things for the growth of both their characters. Kes has this very powerful and dangerous darkness growing within the kind and naïve shell that is the character we have come to know. It's a very mythological sort of truism that accessing supernatural gives man extraordinary abilities at the cost of his soul. Contrary to prior uses, Kes' mental powers are actually a part of her personality in this episode, which makes for a much more fulfilling viewing experience.
Tuvok reveals some layers as well, the propensity for his own darkness, as well as an affection for and attachment to his mentorship of Kes. Vulcan discipline is a part of a larger ethos not of *rejecting* emotions, but of harnessing them in a healthy way, in contrast to Thanos' hedonistic approach. Aside from the Doctor, this is the most believable relationship we've seen Kes have so far.
The story itself is pretty clunky. As an analogy for puberty, it works a hell of a lot better than “Elogium,” but as usual, techno-nonsense and plot contrivances get in the way. I'm reminded very much of the Traveller/Wesley arc from TNG, which had its ups (“Remember Me”) and downs (“Journey's End”). There's an attempt to blend the mystical with the sci-fi which works up unto a point, but hasn't been infused with enough artistry to really sing at this point, making it feel sort of psycho-babbly at times. The Suspiria stuff feels very much like an afterthought. They really should have had this be a two-parter (not necessarily back to back), with Kes meeting the wayward Ocampa here and eluding to the existence of the other Caretaker. Then, later we could have an episode where she actually makes her appearance. I don't know. This was a difficult episode to review as I struggled to put into words how I felt about the ideas present, probably because it requires a lot of work on the viewer's part to piece together the possible meanings within the story. I think Braga was on the right track here overall, but the story is overall rushed and anti-climactic.
Final Score : **
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
"...we are reminded of the existence of Banjoman's mate (whom I suspect guises herself as Lulu Hogg)"
Are you comparing the Caretaker to Boss Hogg from "The Dukes of Hazzard"? If so, why do you have disrespect J.D.'s good name like that? He was a much more three-dimensional character than Banjoman (or Suspiria) ever was.
Tue, Feb 18, 2020, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
All the time, Sus-Sus-peria
Now she don't even know my name
But I think she'll send me to the Alpha Quadrant just the same
(And as usual, I liked the episode more than the rest of you. 3 stars from Sarjenka and me).
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
It's not a bad episode, but could easily have been better. I'd agree with Jammer's rating of 2 and a half.
Tue, Apr 14, 2020, 12:39am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jun 25, 2021, 4:32am (UTC -5)
We obviously have advanced a lot since Gary moved his paper cup at the sickbay water cooler all those years ago. Now through the genius of this stellar 1995 Teleplay, we can heat (nay, boil) the water inside a much more impressive, breakable cup. What an amazing 29 years it's been.
We can also drain the interesting substance from the episode quicker than saying "Earl Grey- Hot", through mistakes in pacing. Tuvok is impressed by Kes' progress on the telepathy front; suggests that she exercise caution. However, before a discussion on this fairly intriguing philosophical issue on restraint can ensue, she super-heats her mind, the tea, his face, and everything goes from red to green and, since the director has gone to lunch, it's left up to the CGI geniuses to run the episode. Good going!
Left on its own, the CGI department decides to 'phone in' its effects. Tim Russ is directed to perform gesture 441-b 'lift hands to either side of head, and feign paroxism'. His eyes turn yellow, rivulets of green flow from them and from his nose, while prosthetic bulking conveys the steamy, volcanic liquid within his Vulcan cranium.
Director returns from lunch, mopping his mouth with a napkin, and says: "Cut to the Tuvok still, the one where he's on the floor with glowing eyes and a somewhat bloated mandible. Ok Kes, time to scream...that-a-girl.....beautiful. Cut, print, collect paycheck".
On the following day:
"Is that little girl from the agency here yet?"
Started out being a 3, went to a 1.5 at the Tuvok head scene, to a 1.0 when Janeway fired the ray-gun, to .5 when the little girl was released from the forcefield, as Elliot said, off "to Exocompland or whatever" LOL!
Aggregate score 1.5.
Thu, Mar 16, 2023, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
Wed, May 24, 2023, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
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