Star Trek: Voyager
Air date: 9/18/1995
Teleplay by Kenneth Biller and Jeri Taylor
Story by Jimmy Diggs & Steve J. Kay
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Who would've thought we'd be considering a generational ship when we were ordered on a three week mission?" — Janeway on the issue of intra-ship procreation
Nutshell: Quite bad. Lots of clichés involving one plot, and completely brain-dead in the other.
The Voyager finds a swarm of large space-dwelling protozoa-type lifeforms whose bizarre properties induce the beginning of Kes' "elogium"—the Ocampa's one-time period of fertility and chance for pregnancy. Light at best, another exercise in mediocrity features a less-than-urgent A-story and a totally predictable, brain-dead B-story. If "Projections" was a climb to the top, "Elogium" is a topple down the stairs.
"Elogium" works its best when it deals with the issue of procreation, which on board the Voyager may be ultimately necessary to finish the journey home. The story peaks in a scene where Janeway and Chakotay discuss the difficulties and possible necessity of raising another generation on the ship. But just like "The 37's," this is an issue that we should have seen in the first season. Now, more than ever, UPN's decision to hold Voyager's last four first-season episodes in order to jump-start the second season seems like a big mistake.
Aside from this one scene of relevancy, there's nothing really compelling about "Elogium." Most of the episode deals with Kes and Neelix's dilemma of whether or not to proceed with having a child. Some of this makes sense, but there are some real problems with how the episode pursues the issue. You see, the elogium only happens once in an Ocampa's lifetime, so if Kes does not conceive within 50 hours, she will never have a chance to have a child again.
For starters, this is totally illogical. If only Ocampa women can have children, and if they can only have one child in their lifetime, and we assume that approximately half the Ocampa population is women and half is men, what does this mean to their procreation process? It means their population would decrease by half with every generation, assuming that every female Ocampa had a child in their lifetime. Does this strike only me as a writer's blunder?
Secondly, this whole idea of Kes having to make the decision right now just forces the pressure onto Neelix, who must decide whether or not he's ready to be a father. This makes for some shamefully manipulative drama, which I don't really care for. Neelix's reaction of "I'm not sure I'm ready for this" is a bit of a cliché. Saving some grace is a scene between Tuvok and Neelix about parenting, which manages to offer further depth into Tuvok's character (but, surprisingly, does very little for Neelix's character). Also on the positive side are some weirdly humorous mating rituals Kes must undergo in her conception process, though the joke begins to tire as the episode goes on.
Meanwhile, we're given a witless and hokey B-story where the "protozoa" become sexually attracted to the Voyager because they think it's their mate. This is another obvious Misunderstood Lifeform Plot, but also proves to be an Idiot Plot which takes the Voyager crew way too long to figure out. I knew the answer almost immediately, but it takes until another big, jealous "protozoa" (who wants the mates Voyager is attracting) begins beating the hell out of the ship before Chakotay and Janeway can put two and two together.
And after the Voyager repels the lifeforms and their bizarre properties stop affecting the ship, Kes' prematurely-induced elogium goes away. Conveniently, this elogium doesn't count for some reason the Doctor explains, meaning that someday when Kes and Neelix are ready, they may still have a child together. This cheat ending basically voids everything the episode does. It's a complete cop-out with no real consequences. Since neither Kes nor Neelix has to face up to their decision, the episode is just another example of the Reset Button Plot—meaning the episode has so little effect that it's as if someone pressed the reset button at the end of the show. That's weak drama. Not good at all.
That's about all for "Elogium." It has a few isolated good moments and some decent work by the actors. Other than that, it's just a pointless exercise that doesn't do a very good job of saying what's on its mind.
Previous episode: Projections
Next episode: Non Sequitur
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67 comments on this post
Tue, Jun 10, 2008, 11:32pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 16, 2008, 4:23pm (UTC -5)
And yes, it's a reset button. But why is it more of a reset button than Projections, to which you gave 4 stars? What changes permanently about anyone in 'the best episode yet' when a) only the Dr. is experiencing the story, and b) it's not real anyway?
Thu, Oct 15, 2009, 9:21am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 25, 2010, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Dec 6, 2010, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
I like Kes, sort of, but in this episode the acting is just awful.
The rituals are really bad too. A foot massage to do something with the tongue? Really? And it has to be a parental figure? Just how crazy is this?
The whole plot is just awful - both stories. Why do they produce episodes like this?
Wed, Feb 16, 2011, 11:37am (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 11, 2011, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Anyway, this episode sucked. Everything about it is ridiculous. In fact, I can't think of anything positive to say about it. I've never wanted to punch Neelix in the face more than this episode. Also, someone should really talk to Chakotay about removing that stick from his arse. He might as well have renamed himself "commander cockblock" in this one. It's hard to believe he could ever be a Maquis "rebel".
I'll give it a half star, strictly because *sadly* I know the show can and will do worse later in the season.
Sun, Aug 14, 2011, 7:57am (UTC -5)
At least he can now describe in great detail to Lt.Paris the Ocampa mating ritual and allay his jealousy a bit. I'm fairly sure Tom wants none of that action.
Thu, Oct 27, 2011, 12:54am (UTC -5)
Fri, Feb 24, 2012, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Kes' feet were cute (lucky Doctor giving them a massage) but this ritual was lame. Well, everything in this episode was lame, except maybe the final act between Janeway and Ensign Wildman.
Sometimes Voyager sucks big time, but still it's my favourite SCI-FI series.
Wed, Jul 25, 2012, 11:00am (UTC -5)
Kes and Neelix are as gross as ever, at least Neelix is. Kes is so graceful and composed (except for this episode), whereas he looks and behaves in a very annoying way. What are we to think about their relationship - she is in human terms underaged, is still growing - are they supposed to have consumed their relationship before this at all? Neelix is a pedophile then.
So many mating subplots - too much of this for one episode. I was so relieved when they didn't have a child after all.
And, yes, Jammer did rightly notice the impossibility of the mating with the Ocampa. Kes keeps refering to "a child" all the time, and if the Ocampa are supposed to have triplets it would have been mentioned, as this is one of significant cons to having children on board a starship.
Mon, Dec 17, 2012, 12:22pm (UTC -5)
Perhaps the Ocampa always have triplets. But repeatedly during the episode Kes talks about "having A child" (she even argues with Neelix about the gender of that child), it never seems to occur to her that she might have more than one.
Tue, Dec 18, 2012, 2:09am (UTC -5)
But I wonder if the writers wanted the viewers to dislike Neelix. His character is so over the top on so many levels, the writers gave him every wrong cliché there is: his outbursts of jealousy, his condescension or patronizing towards Kes, his belief that he's the most useful and underused on the ship or that the captain must be at his service each time he's got a complaint (he should have been included in Tuvok's boot camp :p), his less than subtle kind of racism with his "Mr. Vulcan", etc etc. Well... What I mean is I really don't understand where the writers were going with his character.
As for Kes, I really like her but I think it would have been wiser to make her a close friend of Neelix rather than her lover: this couple is creepy because of Kes's age, apparently still considered a child (as said in this episode, females enter adulthood when it's time to conceive). Plus, there are a lot of inconsistencies about her race. In addition to the babies problem, she's not even two but has the wisdom of an experienced 30 years old human. It's just too unbelievable.
Tue, Jun 11, 2013, 1:03am (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 4:47pm (UTC -5)
Maybe 75-80 % of the children born by an Ocampan female are female offspring?
What I'm saying is that it IS possible to keep a sustainable population even if the females only bear children once.
It's an unstable aquation, sure - but it's possible. We don't know how olsd the species is, how high the infant mortality rate is and so forth ... but we can't rule out the possibility that it COULD actually be a viable species given the information we have.
Fri, Oct 18, 2013, 9:14am (UTC -5)
It WOULD be possible if Ocampa mothers had many children at once the one time they gave birth - but in this episode Kes keeps talking about having "a child", not several children, so ...
Mon, Dec 2, 2013, 5:28am (UTC -5)
This episode kind of grosses me out, I don't want to hear the details of all her bodily processes. There sure isn't anything sexy about Ocampa mating, she's a sweaty mess the whole time! (I'm a women with three kids, and I'm pretty sure no one wants to hear all the details of my bodily changes during puberty or pregnancy). As someone else also mentioned, theres also no discussion about whether she and Neelix are even physically able to have a child or if there would be interspecies complications. Very irritating episode altogether.
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 8:06am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 7:20am (UTC -5)
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 7:30am (UTC -5)
One more thing about this episode, I don't buy genetic compatibility between Neelix and Kes. Just because every alien they encounter is humanoid doesn't determine compatible mate. This bugs me. I would have preferred the stress of her freaking out then coming to terms then the relief as the bugs moved on, without the B plot of the gross idea of neelix getting laid.
I do buy him as a father when he has character growth in the last seasons but now? eww no.
Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
A few good moments is all this episode has.
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 7:28pm (UTC -5)
But other than that, I'm pretty much in lock step with Jammer here. I did think Jennifier's performance in this one was pretty good. She really doesn't get under my skin until later in the series.
While I applaud trying to come up with a new race that is very different than the "human" mold, I just shake my head at the lack of thought put into the Ocampa. eeesh....
1.5 stars is about right.
Sun, Dec 20, 2015, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
And Neelix, as always, was an arse.
Sat, Jan 9, 2016, 11:38am (UTC -5)
And it is a big irritant, after making out the magnitude of Kes' decision, to hit the reset button and make it all go away. Feels like a cheap shot. 1.5 stars.
Wed, Jan 13, 2016, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
One of the high points of the series is in the episode Warlord where Kes basically dumps Neelix (albeit while under the thrall of an alien being). It's the one moment in their entire relationship I actually swallowed.
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 8:40pm (UTC -5)
We have people making out on turbolifts, Kes turning into a horny crack-elf with sticky hands (while Neelix debates, shall we say, releasing power from his impulse capacitance cells straight into her under-age driver coils), a bunch of space worms have a crush on the ship, and... I can't even continue because the last 8 minutes just turned into one hilarious innuendo for me (I just about lost it when Janeway emphatically declared "*we* ram *him*" - all hands brace for impact indeed). I think there was supposed to be a lesson about parenting in here somewhere.
I also seem recall some sort of weird sexual tension between Janeway and Chakotay just after Kim ... vented plasma residue all over space, or something, but I can't be sure, it was all a haze at that point.
Wtf did I just watch?
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Mar 14, 2016, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 16, 2016, 8:37am (UTC -5)
Thank you for that!!! Funny stuff right there. :-)
Wed, May 18, 2016, 5:55am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 21, 2016, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 23, 2016, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 23, 2016, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 23, 2016, 3:17am (UTC -5)
But, another way to solve this problem, is that Ocampans could potentially have serial pregnancies. That is, after the first child is born, they may have another period of fertility, allowing conception of a second child, etc. But once they miss the first conception period, that's it forever. Such a system would likely ensure that most females would have at least 1 child.
None of this is remotely backed up by the dialog in the episode (I'm typing this as the episode ends), but it's another solution for the "only have one child at a time, only have one "period" of fertility, but species doesn't go extinct" problem.
Mon, Aug 1, 2016, 11:46am (UTC -5)
About Samantha Wildman's pregnancy, I can only think that Katarians have a very different pregnancies than humans. Otherwise it is a blunter that should have been placed about halfway in the first season (assuming that one season = one year in show timeline of course).
Dunno about anyone else but I found the whole "alien protozoa wanting to mate with the ship" amusing. Sure, it was stupid but it was also fairly different that the generic "enemy of the week wants to kill us" episodes.
Tue, Aug 16, 2016, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
I fell asleep and won't be going back there
Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 11:41am (UTC -5)
When "Elogium" aired my sustained reaction was 45 minutes of "w. t. f." Unlike the promo, my reaction was not in caps but in lower case tedium. Jammer is right to have railed against the promos as much as he has, but in this case it went beyond merely being cheesy or overblown. This one was a flat-out blatant lie, and because of it what should have been a humdrum mediocre hour was instead an hour of serious disappointment. If the morons working for UPN thought they were doing their network a favor by putting one over on the audience then they were even dumber and more dishonest than the promos they were putting out. I wonder in hindsight whether audience members could have successfully filed a class-action suit against UPN for false advertising.
Tue, Nov 8, 2016, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
Boy. Back when this first aired, my best friend and I were discussing it at the bar, and we agreed it was simply horrible. While we enjoyed characters based on their character and development, we also agreed that Kes was a cutie. Until now. They turned her into a sweating, dirt eating, bug eating insanity on wheels. *shudder*. You just cannot unsee that... And then at the end said "Just Kidding!". Ugh.
Short of the later *possible minor spoiler* episode where they warp themselves into de-evolution, this was the crummiest episode of the series. The only, only saving grace was Tuvok talking about his kids. That was it. That Wildman didn't know she was pregnant was impossible for me. Not for six months plus. I don't care what race the father is, completely off the rails for me.
Also, the other plot. They said they had the shields up. Even if something penetrates the shields, there is a blue electrical type discharge with a handy *zapping* sound in an area away from the ship. They showed the larger creature bumping into the ship, and vice-versa, without that. And it kept reminding me of the horrible TNG episode "The Lost", where Troi lost her abilities when trapped by a two-dimensional set of creatures.
It's a shame this episode was made the way it was. I believe they were just trying to come up with a way to talk about having babies on board, and picked the under-utilized Kes as their focal point. They made her having a baby, then not, but had Wildman actually with child (which felt thrown in, as if they knew they'd made a big mistake, and this was the fix).
Half a star at best for me, if only for Tuvok talking about his kids, which was almost touching for me...
I watched it again because it was next, but if I ever watch the series through a third time, nevernevernevernevernever...
Sat, Dec 24, 2016, 11:14pm (UTC -5)
One point I do disagree with is the idea of Kes being some kind of immature preteen just because she is less than 2 earth years of age. I think a lot of people seem to forget that the Ocampa are telepathic. They don't need to learn to read or speak to acquire information, particularly when around other Ocampa. I always imagined all the Ocampa pretty much learned everything they needed to learn very quickly from their parents and the other Ocampa just by being with them and sharing their thoughts. Maybe call it "mental osmosis".
I liked Kes and really wish the producers had given the boot to Kim, Neelix, or Chakotay instead. There was definitely room for both Kes and Seven.
Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 12:44am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 10, 2017, 2:12am (UTC -5)
If I had any doubts that Neelix was the most annoying character in Voyager, this episode confirmed it.. What a miss by the showrunners to cast such a dismal character.
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Still, the absolute urgency of "we have to decide now!" and the metaphorical idea that the window between puberty and menopause is far too short -- that you're either too young to be able to take care of a baby or you're too old to have one -- kind of works; it can't be literally true for this species, but I think for a lot of individuals it really does feel like the biological clock window is far too small. The handling of this in practice is still mostly cliches, especially Neelix's "I'd love to have a boy! but what could I do with a girl? no I want a girl!" bit and, well, everything with Neelix (who comes off terribly throughout the episode, from his over-the-top jealousy to his playing the "flesh and blood person over hologram" card *to the captain*) but at least some of Kes' mixed feelings come through all right in the episode proper, in the second half when it stopped being "Kes is acting so crazy!" and started being about her thinking through her desires -- though even then we're mostly not allowed the scene where Kes actually decides (and tells Neelix) that she won't have a child. It's not a wholly wasted episode, even if I wouldn't call it a successful one at all. Of course we could say this gets reset at the episode's end, but besides the prospect of going through the wacky elogium hijinks again in a future season, I don't really mind that we don't have to take *this episode* as the moment where Kes made a life-changing decision; I'd frankly rather just forget the whole thing, and resetting the impact on Kes from "arguable tragedy" to "mild, confused disappointment" really makes the episode less hard to deal with -- just more pointless.
I don't think it's a problem to start talking about having children now -- as people said above, it wouldn't have made sense when they were first stranded in the DQ (since people wouldn't really be thinking about it), but makes sense now as something to *start* thinking about. The ending with Samantha is a bit of a weird development considering how long it's surely been since they've been in the DQ, but whatever, episodes held back from season 1, Ktarian magic baby, etc. etc., whatever. But it is a good reveal and on-theme. Still, doesn't really help the episode overall. 1 star I suppose.
Thu, Sep 21, 2017, 12:52am (UTC -5)
I don't even know where to begin tbh. There are so many horrible things in this episode. And I won't even mention all of it, because some of it has been explained by other posters already.
I guess I'll start with the 'coincidences'. Chakotay finds a couple making out, thus discussing reproducing with Janeway. Ok fine. Then Kes starts her reproductive cycle. Then they find out the alien beings are also trying to reproduce, and are in some mating ritual. Then Wildman shows up saying she is pregnant, which is, you know, reproducing. I could buy one of those in a show, or maybe even two, but all four? Come on.
And this is the episode that finally cements Neelix as the worst character in all of Star Trek. He is literally insanely jealous. Jealous of Paris saying 'I'll see you later'! Jealous of a doctor touching Kes's feet! His again insane behaviour in sickbay, when the Doc finally has to kick him out. Then of course the flesh and blood person being banned by a hologram comment to Janeway. And also the fact that he is now obviously a pedo instead of just a suspected one. Dating someone who hasn't even gone through puberty yet. Neelix is a terrible person and a terrible character, and I don't understand why someone so sweet and understanding as Kes would be with him in the first place. Or why anyone would have thought he was likeable in any way.
And wouldn't the doctor be able to figure out if they were genetically compatible enough to have a baby? I would think so, considering some of the medical miracles he's performed so far. But I can overlook that I suppose. Being unknown aliens and all, but it still bugged me a bit.
Chakotay says that the space sperm are moving around at 3000Km per second. That's 6 1/2 million miles an hour!! As if they could even see them. And when they are shown, they are moving around very slowly. Looks more like about 3 miles an hour to me. Also they absorb nutrients from space, because of their 'extremely porous outer covering'. We all know how many nutrients there are in space. Lots of course! And the best shell to have in the vacuum of space is an extremely porous one.
Later they say that Voyager is being pulled into the swarm of space sperm at 6,000Km per second. That's nearly 13 million miles an hour! How far away are they? And then to try and escape the swarm, they set their speed at 200Kph/120mph. lol. They will certainly escape a swarm of creatures that move at 6.5 million miles an hour by going 120 miles an hour.
They finally decide that they need to act 'submissive'. So they vent plasma to make it blue, and then flip the ship over. Here's the exact dialogue.
JANEWAY: Mister Paris, do we have enough power to take Voyager into a roll?
PARIS: I think so.
JANEWAY: All right. Let's give this a try. Mister Kim, start venting plasma residue. Mister Paris, roll the ship.
PARIS: Full power to inertial dampers.
Wut? That is probably the most ridiculous dialogue I've ever heard in Star Trek ever. They need full power to inertial dampers to flip the ship? They might not have enough power to flip the ship over? wut? This is outer space!! Not to mention the whole 3d nature of space, so who's to say what is upside down or not?
I won't even get into the more personal/social aspects of the show, but that is all totally ridiculous as well.
Worst episode so far.
Zero stars. Just awful. Worse than awful, in so many ways.
Thu, Sep 21, 2017, 9:45am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 22, 2018, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
Some genuinely funny moments with Neelix here -- 1st with his jealousy and worries about Paris's interest in Kes and then when him and Doc get into it over Kes' condition.
But there were also some tiresome Neelix moments like when Tuvok has to explain parenting. The mating with Kes thing was weird and seemed like it turned Neelix off from wanting to be a parent. I guess this was supposed to play out like a comedy but I found it just plain weird. Kes looked disgusting. But I guess VOY is trying to show just how different an alien race like Kes's can be, which is admirable although totally arbitrary and it puts Neelix through the ringer.
The big theme is parenting here and Janeway & Chakotay have a very valid discussion about creating a generational ship. I liked the discussion of Voyager becoming a living community and the challenges of educating and raising children. Then at the ending Wildman tells Janeway she's pregnant. Janeway's motherly role emerges at times during this episode.
As for the B-plot, of course it's tied to mating rituals with aliens. I liked Janeway's stance of not wanting to take aggressive actions. I'd have been tempted to phaser the big creature like Torres and others wanted to do. Not sure how plausible it is for such creatures to exist in open space and move at the speeds they do, but whatever.
2 stars for "Elogium" -- the reset button at the end is always a disappointment. So we assume Neelix/Kes learn something from their experience but they're let off the hook, which is BS. I'd call it a typical VOY episode in terms of its structure and themes but one that's not really decent or awful.
Wed, Aug 15, 2018, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Less than a week ago, I kind'a fell into a cherry-picking binge w/ Voyager again. I began w/ some of my biggest faves: "Timeless", "Relativity", "Blink of An Eye" . . . than started using Wikipedia's episode listings to zero in on other candidates.
3 days ago, or so, I discovered Jammer's Reviews when Googling info on an ep and have been referring to it since. Or just reading thu the seasons for other perspectives.
You know . . I've never been a heavily "judgemental fan" of anything I'm into.
Never a "The Beatles rule !! . . McCartney's lame, but go Fabs !!" . . what ?!?
Mind you . . I'm not blindly accepting of any & everything either. I like lots from any show or musical group "less" then their other output . . . but I still don't have that "well That sucked !" gene.
I rewatched "Projections" on "NetTricks" based on Jammer's review, and let it roll into "Elogium" . . which I then fully enjoyed.
Until I read the 99% of comments here pronouncing it "1 Star Awful !!"
Many points made that saw me go "Oh . . huh ! . . yeah . . . Damn it !"
Sure . . Wildman's been w/ child 6 months and just confirmed it ??
But I found no embarrassing acting from Jennifer.
Quite the range, actually.
But then ? . . I've always loved her and that voice !
That voice that gives me a shimmer across my shoulders, and then drapes warm velvet over it !
I know I could go on about all the nasty realities you digital critics made me consider . . but I believe I'll leave it there, with a tattered warm velvet drape to protect my foolish idealism . . . .
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 1:28pm (UTC -5)
Chokatay is surprised to catch a couple of crewman (one Starfleet and one Maquis) making out in the turbolift. The couple scurry off, replaced by Paris and Kes who join him holding large plants. Paris says he's “sorry he missed it.” He likes to watch, you know. The pair arrives in the mess hall, delivering the plants to the kitchen. Neelix discovers a beetle amongst the cabbage, responsible for pollinating the plants. Neelix is very testy, saying to his girlfriend, “So...you're seeing Tom Paris later” in exactly the tone of voice I use when I want to make my husband laugh. Indeed, his jealousy is so cartoonishly ridiculous, I actually thought he must be teasing her the way Kes teased the Doctor in “Projections.” But Neelix doesn't have the same excuse of crazy holographic fake-outs for his insufferable behaviour. He's just being a child. Kes finally calls him out for acting like a jackass, but Neelix doubles down, accusing her of being too “innocent” to realise Tom wants to bang her. Yeah. Healthy, healthy relationship.
Janeway calls the senior staff to the bridge to look at something or other, but takes a moment to ask Chakotay what's bugging him. He's apparently really bothered by that kissing couple in the turbolift. Thankfully, Janeway just laughs at his oddly Amish attitude, pointing out that, yes, there may be some specific personal issues related to their isolation, but that's no reason to try and regulate people's sex lives. As for Janeway herself, she's a little flirty with Chakotay again, but assures him that she intends to make it back to her fiancé before he gives up on her.
They arrive at the whatever and determine that there's *another* space cloud, but this one is comprised of giant space jizz. I wonder where this is going.
In the airponic bay, Kes finds herself absent-mindedly gobbling up those spawning beetles, leading to a rather cheesy shot of her bug-eyed self staring at them for the camera.
Act 1 : .5 stars, 17%
The crew observe the space-sperm, with a science officer, Ensign Wildman, leading the scans. Chakotay notes that the creatures are moving extremely quickly and feeding all the while. Jump cut to Kes in her quarters who is having a feast of her own, savagely devouring all kinds of shit. Neelix comes calling with some flowers. He apologises to her for his behaviour, which seems like it might rectify his awful characterisation, but he follows it up with:
NEELIX: It's him I don't trust. I've seen his kind before. They're all over the quadrant, as a matter of fact. They prey on naive, sheltered young women like you.
Jesus fucking Christ, dude. Why don't you just circumcise her and be done with it if you're going to be such a neanderthal. Sigh...anyway, he finds Kes' store of food—apparently she cannot stop eating dirt and beetles and potatoes or whatever. Well, Neelix decides it's time to get her to sickbay, the scene climaxing with Kes eating Neelix' flowers. Unlike last week, this slapstick doesn't work at all, very much of the “Outrageous Okona” variety.
Meanwhile, the creatures inadvertently pull the Voyager towards their cloud, disrupt their power and down their shields. The Voyager is stuck in a pool of space-cum. Wow.
Act 2 : .5 stars, 17%
Kes is looking...erm...elevated. The EMH does his best to scan her but Neelix won't stop buzzing around, taking his nosy behaviour from “Cathexis” up several notches, until he finally throws him out. Through this crap, the EMH is able to determine that Kes' odd vitals are probably a response to the energy being created by the space-jism.
Meanwhile, the ship can't go to warp for fear of harming the sperm, so Torres wants to try a “targ scoop” or whatever technobabbly bullshit solution. While they work on that, Neelix enters the bridge to bitch about the Doctor. Janeway basically ignores him—which is funny—until he mentions that Kes is sick and connected to the cloud. Janeway is rescued from Neelix by the EMH's summons, so we go right back to sickbay. Kes has freaked out and locked herself in the Doctor's office.
Janeway attempts to talk her down and manages to convince Kes to let her inside and give her a hug, which might be sweet if this weren't so damned weird. Kes tells her she's going through the Elogium or Ocampan puberty—apparently several years early. Janeway gets all maternal, explaining that these changes are natural, you're becoming a woman, blah blah blah, but then Kes drops the bombshell: the Elogium only happens once in a lifetime. She has to choose to have a child now.
Act 3 : **, 17%
In the ready room, Janeway explains the dilemma to Chakotay, mentioning that his Amish concerns were “prophetic.” See, I thought Chakotay meant that sexual relationships between people who work together and live in close quarters and can never leave can lead to personnel problems, but I guess Janeway's attitudes are pretty Amish, too, as sexual activity will inevitably lead to babies. There's a progressive attitude. He does have a point that if their journey takes 75 years, they are going to need replacement crew in about 30 years, so they have about 10 years to start having babies. Doesn't exactly seem urgent to me. The fudged details aside, the conversation is a sensible one. Janeway isn't about to deny people their freedom of choice (thank you), so if people choose to start procreating, they are going to be responsible for fostering a complete community aboard the Voyager.
Meanwhile, sweaty loony Kes tells Neelix that he has to help her decide. Neelix seems surprised that Kes would choose him to be the father of her baby—well, what did you think? Are you really THAT insecure? At the very least, this conversation confirms that Kes and Neelix have not slept together (hence the separate quarters). That does somewhat relieve us of the creep factor in Neelix dating a one-year-old. Somewhat. The conversation they have regarding having a child isn't exactly awful, it's just that we are now neck-deep in DBI (I guess I should call it VBI)--banal, sitcom-y tedium.
In the mess hall, Tuvok enters to retrieve his terrible lunch, and Neelix takes the opportunity to question him. Tuvok has four children and willing to share his wisdom about fatherhood.
TUVOK: I can only tell you that if you have considerable doubts about fatherhood, it would not be wise to enter into the process. It is so much more overwhelming than one expects, that I believe only the most committed should become parents...However, I must point out that, as illogical as it seems, being a father can have infinite rewards. Far more than would seem possible. My children occupy a significant portion of my thoughts. Now more than ever.
Neelix goes off on a stupid, hackneyed sexist tangent, but I will say that this little characterisation of Tuvok is better than the entirety of “Learning Curve.” Silver linings.
On the bridge, Torres is ready with her tech tech and the ship starts sweeping away the space sperm. Ah, but then they start changing colour and attaching themselves to the ship, before they encounter a BIG space sperm. Hoo boy.
Act 4 : *.5, 17%
Chakotay assumes the larger jism is of a different gender. Janeway tries to move out of the cloud, but the Big Jizz starts emitting energy blasts or whatever and Torres has had enough, asking the captain why she isn't shooting these things. This gives Janeway the opportunity to make a little self-righteous speech. Thanks, Jerry Taylor. Further observation leads to the conclusion that the small creature are literally trying to fuck the Voyager. Silly Chakotay, that's UPN's job.
Neelix informs Kes that he's decided he's ready to go through with this abomiation. She responds that there is further preparation required—a foot massage and some tongue-swelling. Yeah...well, Kes goes to sickbay to have the EMH rub her feet and have her hackneyed, sitcom-y Q&A about conception. Kes explains how on Planet Caretaker, Ocampa going through the Elogium tend develop new relationships with their parents, a clumsy metaphor for adulthood. I haven't said much about the complete mathematical, evolutionary and cultural absurdity that is Ocampa sex because—well it's been done to death—however, I don't know if it's been pointed out yet that Kes said Ocampa women don't reach sexual maturity until around age 5. And Ocampa only live to be 9. So how exactly do their fathers rub their feet when they're dead? If one can look past the nonsensical Ocampa window-dressing, there's some moderately interesting dialogue to consider:
EMH: There is a powerful biological drive, at times almost impossible to resist. Species are driven by these urges in order to survive.
KES: But isn't that why we have minds? To look beyond biological urges, to consider their consequences?
On the bridge, they keep spinning technos in an attempt to free themselves from the sex cloud, but all they manage to do is piss Big Jizz off some more and he starts hitting the Voyager with his tail.
Act 5 : *, 17%
They continue trying to win this stupid fight, ramming the creature complete with bad CGI, photon charges, but Commander Amish has a better idea: abstinence! No wait, not abstinence, a sex-change! They're going to try and make the Voyager look like the submissive little sperms instead. Tuvok gets one of two good lines this episode:
“It appears we've lost our sex appeal, captain.”
This is followed up by the other good line:
JANEWAY: Good work, Commander. In the future, if I have any questions about mating behaviour, I'll know where to go.
Get a room, you two.
In the Epilogue, Kes confronts Neelix in the kitchen. Now, he's a sad boy, following Kes' choice not to conceive a child. But she reassures him that nothing matters...I mean that the Elogium was false and so she'll have a real one at the right age and they can try again. Neelix tells Kes he wants a daughter now, which is apparently supposed to sweep his misogynistic tantalisation of his girlfriend under the rug. Nice.
Janeway regards her photograph of Mark, her fiancé, when Ensign Wildman enters the ready room to inform the captain that she's pregnant by her husband who is still on DS9. I will grant the episode this much—Wildman is clearly considering aborting the foetus, which is a good change of pace for the typically wishy-washy attitude Trek has had on the subject. But she's chosen to keep the baby, and Janeway offers her congratulations.
Episode as Functionary : .5 stars, 10%
There are some tolerable ideas lurking around in this story, allusions to loneliness, teen pregnancy, the complications of procreation, and co-habitation—the conversation about the Voyager becoming a generational ship is pretty interesting, and reveal about Wildman's pregnancy works rather well. But these ideas are mostly obscured by 1. the excessive and ill-conceived manifestation of Kes' puberty, 2. the unforgivable characterisation of Neelix, who is depicted like a sexist self-centred troll throughout, and 3. the eye-roll-inducing “plot” about the space splooge which takes its place right along side the other Season 1 weekly techno-nonsense, despite the half-assed attempt to portray the issue as “thematic.” I think Neelix' characterisation was meant to make him the appropriate foil to Kes' promnight dumpster baby persona, but as I said, the whole thing is so ill-conceived that any attempts at nuance totally backfire. Tuvok and Janeway come out looking okay, but Kes and Neelix have now been burdened with these ridiculous character weights which are only made heavier by their interconnection via their still very-creepy relationship. Unfortunately, this episode provides too much important backstory for the future to skip, because it's another laborious slog to get through.
Final Score : *
Sat, Jan 5, 2019, 10:26am (UTC -5)
I’m sorry, but if Kes’ people always have twins or triplets, as others here have postulated, she likely would have said something when Neelix was discussing having a boy or girl. And the parental foot-rubbing ritual presented as being required for conception? This species would have been extinct long ago!
And let’s not even get started about whether she and Neelix could conceive without some sort of scientific help. Despite humanoid similarities, they are obviously very different biologically. It strains credulity.
On top of that, Neelix was at his most annoying, and Janeway seemed out of line risking everyone’s lives simple and to avoid possibly harming creatures that were posing a direct threat to the ship. That was silly to me, even from a Prime Directive perspective.
The ending scene could have been dispensed with as well. A crewman we’ve never seen before announces she’s pregnant several months after her last enocounter? Okay, I can buy that she is not human (though she looks it), but I’m willing to bet no further mention of her or a baby will be made in subsequent episodes. The whole idea will be promptly forgotten by the writers.
Sat, Jan 26, 2019, 8:31pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Mar 31, 2019, 9:26am (UTC -5)
For some reason Chakotay has been watered down in this and the last few episodes. Many times now I have thought to myself "he used to be a maquis leader - really?". I mean who was that guy punching another starfleet personel in the mess hall recently?
At least one can always count on Janeway.
Not much of interest in this episode. Won't return to it ever.
Sun, Mar 31, 2019, 10:20am (UTC -5)
I’d always felt they wrote Neelix as suffering from personality disorders associated from the war on Talax and his isolation in space. He has some pretty classic B cluster type stuff going on and when you view him this way, on multiple repeat, the character fits a little more. He’s always still an annoying space chicken though.
I never liked any of the Kess/Neelix/Tom arc.
Tue, Jul 9, 2019, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 10, 2019, 3:46am (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 22, 2019, 12:40pm (UTC -5)
'That voice that gives me a shimmer across my shoulders, and then drapes warm velvet over it !'
I agree. I've said it many times here. Kes was and still remains the most sensual character ever on ST. That voice!
Tue, Mar 10, 2020, 8:48am (UTC -5)
I enjoy all of these episodes more today than I did when they first aired. I enjoyed the crew's interest in the space-dwelling lifeforms and Janeway's refusal to harm them to save the ship as long as there were other options. Both Kes and Neelix suddenly facing a choice to have a child or not gave us some good character moments for both, and Tuvok's discussion about being a father was a good scene. Janeway and Chakotay's discussion of just how long the trip home will take and about the very real possibility of Voyager becoming a generational ship is a welcome discussion of an often-ignored reality that a ship in their situation would be facing. And I had forgotten that Samantha Wildman and her pregnancy was introduced here, which is important given how prominent Naomi will later become on the show. In a way, Neelix does become a father after all, a surrogate one at least, when he spends so much time helping raise Naomi.
I used to rate this episode very low, but it's a perfectly servicable middle of the road Voyager episode. And don't tell me Tuvok doesn't have a sense of humor. "We appear to have lost our sex appeal, Captain."
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 11:42am (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 8, 2020, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 12, 2020, 1:24am (UTC -5)
Neelix's overreaction is cartoonish (which is in keeping with everything he does in the entire episode). She's been eating dirt and bugs. So I guess he therefore assumes she'll be dead in minutes? Calm the hell down.
But what's worse is that the holographic Doctor is too distracted by Neelix that 'he can't think'! That is a ridiculous piece of programming to put into your emergency doctor - that he can be distracted by panicy people (like you might find in an EMERGENCY).
Tue, Mar 9, 2021, 4:26am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 20, 2021, 9:33am (UTC -5)
However, given an 8 year life span, and fertility happening at the age of 5, wouldn't most Ocampa parents be dead long before their offspring had children?
I.e. Kes' mother had her at age 5, when Kes reaches 5 herself, her mother would be 10, and therefore long dead. It would only work if Ocampa males always mated with much older females so they were still around to do the foot rubbing... Entirely possible, but just another bit of weirdness to add to the poor Ocampa.
Sun, Jun 20, 2021, 11:09am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jun 20, 2021, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
I'll lay off Neelix as he's been laid waste by so many others. However, the undeserving Kes, so frequenty holding the tiller of sanity when the others onboard are climbing the walls, has, I'm sorry to say, been severely tarnished by the insidious writers. Not content to have her munching on beetles, they drag her through a Mondo-pastiche which makes Rosemary's Baby appear like a Sunday picnic.
Why not simply have her go loup garou already and be done with it? I can see it now, Wolf-Kes of the steppes howling at the full moon!
Happy Summer Solstice 2021!
Fri, Sep 3, 2021, 7:47am (UTC -5)
I'm referring to the scenes between Janeway and Chakotay, where they discuss Voyager becoming a generation ship (with children raised and trained to run various departments). Lots of fascinating themes and logistical problems can be mined from this idea. The scene with Wildman announcing her pregnancy is also very cool.
Fri, Dec 24, 2021, 3:26am (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 16, 2022, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
Equally as implausible is a swarm of space dwelling organisms who feed by absorbing inorganic substances through their skin. Space is mostly empty, matter is rare. These organisms would have to move at warp speed to get anywhere nutritious.
It ended just as it began... nothing impactful happened. Now we can carry on and this useful episode will just be some obscure footnote. The doctor says that Kes should be able to have another elogium someday, but how the hell does he know that, having only seen ONE Occampan?
Whoever wrote this episode had no scientific consultation, not even in a rudimentary way. It was painful. There's no *science* in this fiction. It's just fiction.
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