Star Trek: Voyager

"Blood Fever"

3 stars

Air date: 2/5/1997
Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by Andrew Robinson

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Did you know that fracturing a clavicle on the wedding night is actually considered a blessing on the marriage?"
"As a matter of fact, I didn't."

— Doc and Janeway, on Klingon mating rituals

Nutshell: Par for course. Pretty superficial, particularly near the end, but a fairly diverting hour.

When Ensign Vorik finds himself at the mercy of his first Pon Farr cycle, the Vulcan mating instinct, he announces to Torres his desire to take her as his mate. She refuses, at which point he briefly attempts to force a mental bond between them—before Torres slugs some sense back into him. Because of the failed bond, Torres soon finds herself with the same chemical imbalance Vorik has, and must fight her own sexual urges. Intertwined with this situation is a subplot within the caves of a vacant M-class planet containing a valuable mineral which Torres, Paris, and Neelix beam down to retrieve.

"Blood Fever" is basically "Amok Time" in the Delta Quadrant, where a Vulcan does not have the luxury to return home to take a spouse. This is not an extremely deep episode of Voyager, but it is effective on its own terms. The best single-word recap for this episode may be "entertaining." Then again, words like "shallow" and "glib" also come to mind.

The early acts work fairly well, as Doc attempts to help Vorik proceed through the Pon Farr with medical assistance; to which Vorik answers that it's merely a "Vulcan" matter that he has to resolve on his own with meditation. "How well a Vulcan deals with the Pon Farr is a test of his character," Vorik tells the Doctor, refusing to discuss it further. A subsequent discussion with Tuvok gives Doc little further enlightenment.

Much of the early material (for those who are not already familiar with the Pon Farr from TOS's "Amok Time," that is) is background about Vulcan mating cycles (i.e., every seven years an adult male must either (1) take a mate, (2) fight a ritualistic battle of competition, or (3) resolve it with deep meditation—or else the chemical imbalance could kill him). None of this stands out as particularly special, though it is sensibly handled with some occasional bits of effective dialog. One interesting exchange in particular reveals some perspectives:

Doc: "For such an intellectually enlightened race, Vulcans have a remarkably Victorian attitude about sex."
Tuvok: "That is a very human judgment, Doctor."
Doc: "Then here's a Vulcan one: I fail to see the logic in perpetuating ignorance about a basic biological function."
Tuvok: "There is nothing logical about the Pon Farr. It is a time when instinct and emotion dominate over reason."

Doc comes up with an alternative for Vorik, by programming him a holographic "mate," which, as Doc puts it, may be able to help him with the short-term problem. The solution appears to work at first (though I don't quite understand how Vorik would form a telepathic link with a computer program).

As Vorik's situation is analyzed on board the Voyager, Torres begins slowly losing control as the chemical imbalance begins to release her Klingon urges, interfering with the away mission in the caves. Worse comes to worse when it's revealed that the planet isn't truly vacant, but occupied by a race of aliens who are hiding underground. The aliens transport out of the area, taking Chakotay and Tuvok prisoner, leaving Torres and Paris alone, lost in the caves.

The aliens are suspicious of outsiders, ever since they were attacked and conquered more than a half century ago by a powerful group of unknowns, in a swift defeat that left them ruined in less than an hour. Chakotay negotiates a trade with Ishan, their alien captor (Bruce Bohne) after assuring them Voyager isn't a threat.

The remainder of the episode is mostly devoted to the issue of B'Elanna's intense need to appease her case of "blood fever" by using Tom's, well, male presence; which, as one could probably expect, is where the character core of the story lies. Dawson, as usual, delivers a compelling performance, creating a instinct-driven B'Elanna whose mental awareness strives to remain in control over the vehement, irrepressible desires. Tom plays the part of a good guy—making sure B'Elanna doesn't do anything she'll later regret—and him too, given that B'Elanna is someone he's been subtly chasing after for months.

On more than one occasion she throws herself at him (literally), but Tom handles the delicate situation as best possible—pushing her away because it's in the best interests of their friendship. Both Dawson and McNeill are believable in the extreme situation—the former as a distressed, confused person pushed to the limits of sanity and her own endurance and ready to crawl out of her skin; the latter as the calm, cool-headed sense of reason and survival. Amidst the background of some handsomely-produced cave-ins and rock slides, the results are good.

Unfortunately, the conclusion, like many episode conclusions, does not have a payoff that's in sync with the rest of the story. As Torres and Paris are rescued by Chakotay and Tuvok, Torres' time runs out, and the away team loses contact with the ship. Tuvok explains that Paris must "help" Torres now, or she will die as a result of her chemical imbalance. I didn't necessarily have a problem with this—in fact, to see what would've happened as a result of this extreme solution to such an extreme situation could've potentially been interesting (although I don't see how it could've been pulled off without seriously risking the apparent friendship between these two characters).

What does strike me as superficial, however, is Vorik's appearance out of nowhere (apparently Doc's holodeck solution was a failure) to assault Paris and claim Torres as his mate. This leads B'Elanna to face Vorik (in accordance with Vulcan tradition) in a glib fight scene concept that's straight out of "Amok Time"—an idea suited more to the lighter hokiness of TOS's reign. This fight, like much of the show, is entertaining and kind of fun; but as drama goes, it's as transparent as a piece of Plexiglas. The stuntwork is decent, but Chattaway's "action" score could use work. Alexander Enberg's portrayal of Vorik in the closing struggle is annoyingly overacted; Dawson, on the other hand, remains within the realm of credibility.

The fight purges the "blood fever," as upon B'Elanna's, er, KO of Ensign Vorik, Tuvok announces that both will return to normal.

What does "Blood Fever" add up to besides a diverting hour? Not tons, but there is a hint that Torres will look at Paris differently from now on because of what he did for her.

What will be most impacting from this episode, though, comes with Chakotay's discovery of a dead invader in the ruins of Ishan's world—a Borg. (That's right, Voyager crew, there are Borg in the Delta Quadrant to keep you company.) This revelation works because it certainly makes sense that the Borg would be behind an attack like this—and a Borg threat could also potentially re-energize the series. (I'm looking forward to next week's "Unity" in particular.) Still, this revelation would've been much more powerful had it not been shown on last week's trailer. So it goes.

I think that a very low-end "good" seems fair for a rating of "Blood Fever." Glib entertainment is still entertainment.

Previous episode: Coda
Next episode: Unity

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71 comments on this post

mlk
Sun, Dec 23, 2007, 9:47am (UTC -5)
This show was certainly interesting but a few things seemed so strange. First off, is it me or does Vorik's voice just seem way too constructed, he sounds like a sociopath or something.

Second, hands up guys, who here would refuse to be with a hot woman if she actualy wanted you AND she needed it so she wouldn't die? Noone? Well Tom Paris would. It's just so stupid, any guy, in ANY century would have done B'Elanna right there and then.

Also I agreew with Jammer, the whole ending was stupid and would have felt much more fullfilled without the fight and Stuvok's fight.


And to agree with Jammer,
Jakob M. Mokoru
Mon, Jan 7, 2008, 6:46am (UTC -5)
I think the whole story would have been a LOT more interesting if Tuvok had gone through his Pon Farr-cycle, including his dilemma of being married but far away from his wife - this could have been a terrific episode!
Chris H
Sat, Mar 21, 2009, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
i agree with mlk i most certainly wud have done b'leanna right there and then, no questions asked! ;)
John Pate
Fri, Dec 25, 2009, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
There had been a hint of Vorik-Torres-Paris in "Alter Ego," if you go back and check.

Entertainment is the point of TV. A good episode, tho the fight was a bit disappointing.

If the fight had been in a larger arena, with a bit more throwing around of bodies, it might have been a little more complete. Neither Dawson nor Enberg particularly looked much like fighters - tho I suppose it's a bit much to expect better than the customary Trek Fu. Otherwise, the acting was fine and the characters all played to type. Dawson turned in a charismatic performance, as usual.

Seems reasonable to me to put in a nod to "Amok Time." There's no pleasing some people.

The aliens managed to be integral to the plot and not simply an excuse for space battle of the week.

They were repairing Voyager and talking about that being an on-going concern. It foreshadowed the Borg plots, Torres-Paris for the future. 3 and half stars I'd say.
navamske
Sat, Aug 14, 2010, 7:03pm (UTC -5)
"It's just so stupid, any guy, in ANY century would have done B'Elanna right there and then."

You are mistaken.
navamske
Sat, Aug 14, 2010, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
I was glad that Jammer touched on this: The notion that a Vulcan could address a pon farr problem with a holodeck character is absurd. Yes, there have been several intimations in various incarnations of Trek that "organics" can have physical relations with holograms, but Vulcans, as I understand it, aren't seeking merely a physical release -- they need to bond with their mates on a telepathic, or at least mental, level. I don't know the limits of holographic programming; perhaps the Doctor did create something more than a simulacrum of a hot Vulcan chick, something that could assuage Vorik's mental or psychic distress as well. This would have been more believable in the later episode in which Tuvok had to resort to "holographic sex therapy"; presumably he could have programmed a holo-T'Pel with some of her characteristics, possibly including some mental ones.
Nic
Thu, Sep 30, 2010, 2:14pm (UTC -5)
Fight scene aside, this has always been one of my favorite episodes. Perhaps viewing it without having seen "Amok Time" helped. I thought both Paris and Torres were very true to character, and yes I do believe that he would have been able to resist her, seeing as how giving in could have destroyed any chances of having a serious relationship later on.

What a frustrating trailer, though. It's bad enough they usually five away half the plot, now they actually gave away the ending!
JAcob Teetertotter
Mon, Dec 27, 2010, 8:24am (UTC -5)
i didnt understand the ending. In AMok time it was a fight to the death right? Here a punch and a throw and 1,2,3. its over and we have a new WWF Intercontental Champion
Destructor
Tue, May 31, 2011, 12:42am (UTC -5)
The only thing wrong with the fight scene was that they didn't start playing the Decapodian national anthem on top of it. Yes it would have been ridiculous and over the top, but at least it would have shown committment to the over-the-top ridiculousness the episode had already embarked on. Admit it, if they'd done that, this episode would have totally gone down in history as being totally megarad awesome.
duhknees
Sun, Jun 24, 2012, 10:22am (UTC -5)
I wish they had not scrimped on Voyager so much. The off-world sets are claustrophic and reused. The fight scene needed more space, and how do they always manage to beam down to the same cave entrance? But B'elana and Partial I liked, and I wish they'd kept the Enberg character longer.
Sintek
Sun, May 26, 2013, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Yikes, whole lotta rapists here. If you claim you would take advantage of a person in obvious psychological distress, sorry, but you are a sexual predator.
Lt. Yarko
Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 11:08pm (UTC -5)
Although I'm not buying the idea of a Vulcan forcing another species into Pon Farr, I really enjoyed Roxann's performance in this.

And, yeah, I wouldn't have sex with a person I knew wanted me due to health problems. I am a bit saddened by some of these posts. I hope many of them are kidding.
Jordy
Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 2:44pm (UTC -5)
So, at the end Torres and Vorik are fighting over whether or not she's going to be his mate. No-one seems to have considered what would have happened if he'd won - would he have got to force himself on her? That was a very questionable thing to include.
Nancy
Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
Good point, Jordy. I also found Tuvok's "You have to help her, Tom" command disturbing. In the same way, would B'elanna have been ordered to "help" Vorik after he basically tried to rape her? Surely not, but that is exactly what Tom was told to do. Yes, he likes her and would enjoy it, but the fact is he did not want to have sex with her and was ordered to. That's messed up.

This was not a well thought-out concept.
Mike P
Sat, Aug 17, 2013, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
"And, yeah, I wouldn't have sex with a person I knew wanted me due to health problems. I am a bit saddened by some of these posts. I hope many of them are kidding."

Sadly, they most likely aren't kidding, these are the same guys who think if a "chic" passes out drunk in your bed, then she obviously wants it.

I've never thought twice about sleeping with any women who's judgment was impaired in any way, no matter how much she "asked for it" and any guy who would has to seriously reevaluate his moral compass.
Chris P
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 11:53am (UTC -5)
"I've never thought twice about sleeping with any women who's judgment was impaired in any way"

That's not what that conflict was about so I'm a bit curious about yours and the previous posters' intentions and biases in steering the conversation in this direction. It's made very clear that she is suffering from the Pon Farr and the solutions to resolver her issue are clearly defined in the episode.

That you, Nancy, and Jordy seem to view women as vulnerable but also superior to men (Where is your sympathy for the male character who is suffering from the exact same symptoms, only without the fortune of having someone willing to help him alleviate his issue) says something about you. Sure, something bad is happening to her, but if during a journey in which she's had plasma coils explode in her face, various life threatening viruses/parasites/genetic experiments performed on her, you take issue with her needing sex and having a man she likes willing to provide it then I submit that you have major hangups about sexuality.

In the episodes where bad things happen to Torres I haven't seen reviewers get hung up about her well being until it involved her vagina. How strange.
K'Elvis
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
Pon Farr is not analogous to a woman being passed out. A person who is drunk can't consent to anything, while Torres isn't just consenting, she's demanding it. Lust is a basic motivation to have sex, it would be peculiar at best to say "I can't have sex with you, because you're experiencing lust! Come back when you're not horny." I wonder how many would be objecting if another female member of the crew were to have sex with Vorik.

It's not so clear-cut whether or not Torres is capable of consenting - or demanding - sex. Aphrodisiacs that make people become lusty don't really exist, so this is a situation were we don't have any good real-world analogy. Is Torres condition more like someone who is drunk or someone who is just experiencing lust? Normally, lust is a perfectly understandable reason for someone to consent to sex, but perhaps we have a special case here? I am not saying it is appropriate to have sex with someone under these circumstances, only that it is not analogous to someone passed out.

As far as the fight resolving the Pon Farr, I think that was a misinterpretation. Spock was shocked out of his Pon Farr from the horror at realizing (so he thought) that he had killed Kirk. The Vulcans have probably tried the holodeck solution and found it didn't work, because the holodeck can't provide the telepathic connection. I don't think they considered finding another woman on Voyager who might like to mate with Vorik, perhaps there was someone who had a secret crush on him.
Ric
Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 2:09am (UTC -5)
"I'm a bit curious about yours and the previous posters' intentions and biases in steering the conversation in this direction".

If you read all comments since the first, you will understand that the later comments were addressing the first ones. So, be curious no more.

"(...) you take issue with her needing sex and having a man she likes willing to provide it then I submit that you have major hangups about sexuality"

Sure, IF Paris really knew before that she had previous feelings for him, then maybe your sentence could even begin to make sense. However, he didn't. And he made it quite clear. When Torres told him she had previous interest on him, he was skeptical that she could have been saying these things due to the situation. Now, in this case, under such circunstances (that are NOT the ones in you example), i.e. having any room for doubts, it would be morally sick for him to go on. Sorry, but it would, and slashing commenters on regards of how they deal with their sexuality will not make it less sick.

"In the episodes where bad things happen to Torres I haven't seen reviewers get hung up about her well being until it involved her vagina. How strange."

Let's be intelectually honest, shall we? It is pretty obvious that everyone knew from the start that nothing really bad would happen to Torres. Would we really expect comments here saying "wow, I was almost crying because I really thought that Torres would die today!". Second: as far as I have noticed, many debates on the comments of this website (if not most of them) are about moral issues that were either raised by the episodes on purpose, or have emerged as an externality. So this is just the case. Criticizing people because they do so instead of being concerned about the safety of a character they know will be all right makes no sense at all.

Now, for me personally, of course it is disturbing to hearh Tuvok saying "you have to help her now". Nancy was 100% right in the question "would B'elanna have been ordered to 'help' Vorik after he basically tried to rape her?". Of course not. One could say: oh, but Torres didn't like Vorik before, but Paris did like her. But it is not true. There was no previous indication that the rest of the crew knew Paris was in love with Torres. Oh yes I see, he does not need to have feelings for her, since used to be the jackass so sure he would not mind doing the business. Please, this is just wrong. More than that: there was no indication that the crew would have thought that Torres liked Paris. So you just send a guy she might disgust to go there and "help" her? Ok, I see, it was for her own good.... I am sure a lot of women heard that before throughout history. Sure, not with their lives depending on having sex, but it was, to say the least, a disastrous - even it unintentional - analogy.

Besides that, I found this to be a really good episode. Very well acted, brave enough to touch on moral issues that are not always presente in the episodes. Not to mention fresh enough to deal a bit with how humans and other species deal with sex in the 24th. Also, it managed to be funny sometimes, like in the performance of The Doctor. Oh yes, and finding the Borg in the end was na amazing surprise (I am glad this is the first time I am watching Voyager, so I chose never saw the dumb trailers before watching the episodes).
kapages
Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
Its just sex. People 3 centuries from now should not have the same ethical issues about the act.
And even if they did, for Volcan reasoning, it is not logical to risk dying for sex morality.

Consider this.
You are willing to consent to Belana and Vorik fighting for pon far,
but not Paris "taking advantage" of poor Belana.
Fight vs sex 1-0. What kind of moral compass is this?

If you are honest about it, Paris actually acted selfishly, not gallantly.
He knew that if he did it, Belana would be off limits, and he also didnt want to compromise his moral self-image "i dont do unconsenting girls".
Coward not hero.

If I were Paris, I would allow belana to have sex with me, but in a not very satisfactory/physical way for her Klingon side. I would lie still and let her do the work.
leaf
Sat, Jul 5, 2014, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
Seriously... this episode really creeped me out. Given all the principles of the Federation (and Star Trek as a show), how is it possible that they would have no protocol in place for sexual misconduct on the ship. And even at that if two people end up in sick bay because one made a violent physical sexual advance of another crew member.... how in the world could this go un-noticed, undiscussed, etc.? He forced himself on her. It's great that she happens to be tough and could fight him off but.... hello? How is it that that issue is not addressed?

Not only that, but are holodeck people simply able to be used as prostitutes? There is no discussion of the holodeck woman's consent either.

And yes.... similarly having Tom be expected to consent as such is also insane.

This whole episode was severely disappointing to me. Even if there are different customs among crew members, portraying their sexual needs as things that other crew members should be forced into "helping with" puts across an insane perspective on sex. One that it seems is extremely out of line with all the other principles of Star Trek.
MP
Sat, Jul 26, 2014, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
To "Leaf" above:

The questions/thoughts you mentioned are the result of Voyager (and most of Trek) bringing up questions and situations with little explanation or resolution. With decades of hindsight, this seems to have been more lazy writing than anything else.

For example, all the Trek's which included holographic characters highlight their seemingly-sentience. Yet only Voyager even began to tackle the issue; and only with the Doctor. Yet we see evidence that many random holographic characters are fully aware yet blatantly killed at the simplest command. And that doesn't even begin to talk about the ethical issues of creating sentient, aware "people" with memories and lives for entertainment.

Something that no-one has mentioned yet about the Tom/Belanna issue are the extreme conditions Voyager faces of being far from home with limited supplies and resources. This was played up in the first two seasons, then completely dropped as the show became more episodic and "monster-of-the-week."

Specifically, with what Voyager faces, is it right to hurt the ship's chances of survival by depriving it of all the experience and expertise of its Chief Engineer in order to respect sexual morality in a highly alien situation? At what point does the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one?

To be fair, Trek has never been one to delve deeply into such dark issues. It is no BSG. And true, its ridiculous that Belanna is so critical and has no second who could take her place easily.

But that's the problem with Trek, especially in the later shows. It raises, intentionally or not, deep and often disturbing questions that are barely if even explored. We're given contrived or techno babble conclusions and told to shut up and forget about what happened.

I don't want to see Star Trek: Supreme Court; but I would have loved to have at least frank discussions about this stuff. Sexual morality, holographic rights for ALL holograms, the limits of human morality in contrast to survival, and more.
MP
Sat, Jul 26, 2014, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
Addendum: I meant
"To Leaf AND kapages"
Vylora
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 12:53pm (UTC -5)
For the most part, this is a very enjoyable outing with some nice performances and another interesting take on the issue of Pon'Farr. I really liked the idea of centering it around Vorik as opposed to Tuvok. Not all major things have to only happen to a character based solely on star billing.

Entertaining with a lot of logical dialogue within the context of the given situation. Vorik being able to cut off communications, transporters, and shuttlebay at the end was a little too easy, though. A better resolution would've had to of been going through with the Paris/Torres scenario. But then we wouldn't have the nicely-choreographed, yet obligatory, fight scene.

Some good stuff here and not really much to complain about. I think I have enjoyed it more than Jammer, though, the star-rating seems about right.

3 stars.
Petrus
Sat, Oct 25, 2014, 8:01am (UTC -5)
Just rewatched this; and I think I must have only seen it once before, a long time ago. As people here probably know, usually I will take whatever B'Elanna fanservice I can get, but I actually agree with Leaf on this one. I think I know what they were going for here, but this episode was just plain awkward. The teaser with Vorik forcing himself on B'Elanna was cringe inducing.

As for the rape issue with Tom, I agree with people that that was icky as well. There is one particular scene where she is repeatedly kissing him, which does leave you wondering what you'd do if you were in Tom's shoes, but it's over almost as quickly as it starts, and then that is basically it.

Alexander Enberg's acting was mostly good, and it particularly reminded me of some of the chaotic Vulcan emotionalism we saw at times on *Enterprise.* It was a bit forced and off-key at times, yes; but said times were rare.

I'd probably give this one 2.5 stars, simply due to the ickiness/awkwardness factor.
jk
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
The authors cheated: wasn't there supposed to be a fight to the death? Not that Spock actually died in Amok Time. I guess the death thing was some kind of Vulcan scam, like what they say about turning blind.

Also I think someone shold mention how B'Elanna knew exactly that she didn't want the bad ugly Vulcan nobody, as opposed to how she couldn't resist awesome Tom Paris. The discrimination between the two made the consent issue much less relevant for me. She seemed to know what she wanted after all.
Yanks
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Interesting responses in this one.

Everything from rape to "you know you would da"

Jesus... it's not a human "urg".

Again, Roxann brings it. Goodness, she nails it every time!!

I have more respect for Tom each episode. You have to admire his discipline here. B'Elanna is sa-mokin hot.

OK, Amok Time question here.... why did B'Elanna have to go off with Tom after she defeated Vorik? When Spock defeated Kirk, he didn't need to mate.

This "Pon-far" episode was done much better than Enterprise's attempt.

I'm at 3 stars right now because of Roxann's performance. I'll wait for an answer before I rate.

Thanks
Robert
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 3:28pm (UTC -5)
Will watch tonight and get back to you tomorrow morning if nobody answers by then.
Robert
Fri, Aug 14, 2015, 9:19am (UTC -5)
@Yanks - She doesn't end up mating with Tom.
Yanks
Sat, Aug 15, 2015, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
I just watched the episode the other night.

They did run off together at the end of the fight?
Yanks
Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 10:00am (UTC -5)
I'll go 3 stars regardless.
Pippy
Wed, Oct 14, 2015, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
No she did not run off with Tom. They had an awkward conversation in the Turbo lift where she thanked him for what he was willing to do...and that was that.
Yanks
Thu, Oct 15, 2015, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
OK guys... I'm not nuts...

h ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyb-DmhvVGY

They did mate.

So my question still applies.
John
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 4:19am (UTC -5)
"any guy, in ANY century would have done B'Elanna right there and then."

I wouldn't. I am not enthusiastic about physical fighting, severe injury, and blood spillage during sex. If you're into that kinky Klingon shit, I'm not here to judge. But I need a human woman who isn't PMSing.
John
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 4:35am (UTC -5)
"A person who is drunk can't consent to anything"

I strongly disagree. Many women choose to get drunk precisely so they can lower their own inhibitions in order to feel relaxed about having sex guilt free. In their sober state, they may feel guilty due to a lot of puritanical brainwashing, so they purposely try to bypass their own cultural/religious programming with alcohol so they can have a good time. Refusing to have sex with these drunk women is precisely disrespecting their wishes, ironically in the name of respecting their wishes!

To all of you who think that Tom fucking Torres would have been rape: Um, you do know how the Pon Farr is supposed to work, right? It gets you in touch with your most primal animalistic self. During the Pon Farr, you are MORE likely, not less, to sleep with the person you really want to sleep with, and reject all the unattractive people even more ruthlessly than in your every day life. The Pon Farr brings your truest sexual self to the surface where you mate based on the purest and sincerest lusts that you have in your deepest heart.

In other words, sex is even more honest and consensual during the Pon Farr than normally, not less. If the Pon Farr were to simply drive you out of your mind with lust towards people whom you're otherwise not attracted to, than Torres would have fucked Vorik. But she didn't because her purest primal self doesn't want him. She wants Paris.

Rape is when you force yourself on someone who is unwilling. During the Pon Farr, your truest willingness comes out the strongest based on the purest, more primal, and most honest compatibility/chemistry. If Paris would have fucked her, it would have been even further away from rape than any normal consensual act of intercourse.

I still wouldn't do it though because I'm not into Klingon kink. But that's just me.
John
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 4:52am (UTC -5)
Yanks - yes, you are nuts! They didn't mate. The scene you linked to was before Vorik came and stopped them. Then Torres and Vorik fought and she knocked him out, thus inexplicably purging both of their lusts.

Of course, this makes no sense. On TOS, it was established that the fight must be to the death (or at least the one going through the Pon Farr must be convinced that the other person is dead) in order to quench the blood fever. Whereas here, she just knocks him out, which heals both her and him. And yet, it's implied that him knocking her out would not have purged his blood fever without him raping her afterwards. Again, it makes no sense and contradicts TOS.
John
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 4:57am (UTC -5)
"Not only that, but are holodeck people simply able to be used as prostitutes? There is no discussion of the holodeck woman's consent either."

Is this some kind of absurd feminist joke? The holodeck "people" are non-living tricks of light programmed by the computer. They are computer subroutines, nothing more. See Tuvok's speech to Kim in Alter Ego.

The Doctor programmed the Vulcan female to consent. She's not a real person.

The only artificial, self-aware holographic life forms are the Doctor, Moriarty from TNG, and Vic from DS9.
Robert
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 7:55am (UTC -5)
I approve that Paris did not want to do it. But I think he didn't want to do it because it wasn't "earned". He'd rather have gotten to a place with her where all the parts of her (primal and otherwise) wanted him. He certainly would have been willing to do it to save her (and it wouldn't be rape), but it's not how he wanted it to go down.
Robert
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 8:01am (UTC -5)
@John - The "A person who is drunk can't consent to anything" line you are quoting comes from "Pon Farr is not analogous to a woman being passed out. A person who is drunk can't consent to anything, while Torres isn't just consenting, she's demanding it."

The discussion is being a level of drunk that you are nearly passing out/can't stand up. A person in that state can't consent. I do agree that if two people at a club have a few drinks, go home together and one of them has buyer's remorse the next morning that they didn't rape each other. But the person you're screwing isn't awake you should probably reconsider the possibility that you don't have consent!
Yanks
Tue, Nov 17, 2015, 9:30am (UTC -5)
@ John - Tue, Nov 17, 2015 - 4:52am (USA Central)

Yanks - yes, you are nuts! They didn't mate. The scene you linked to was before Vorik came and stopped them. Then Torres and Vorik fought and she knocked him out, thus inexplicably purging both of their lusts.

Of course, this makes no sense. On TOS, it was established that the fight must be to the death (or at least the one going through the Pon Farr must be convinced that the other person is dead) in order to quench the blood fever. Whereas here, she just knocks him out, which heals both her and him. And yet, it's implied that him knocking her out would not have purged his blood fever without him raping her afterwards. Again, it makes no sense and contradicts TOS.
=============================

Got it, thanks.

...and yes, it is all messed up... :-)
John
Thu, Nov 19, 2015, 3:44am (UTC -5)
Robert - Of course I agree that you don't have a woman's consent if she is literally unconscious, falling in and out of consciousness, or so drunk that she can't even stand up straight. I was just quoting the drunk line because I felt that the person who said it was being overly broad and too general with the whole "women can't consent while drunk" concept.

I know that's what our PC culture is pushing at the moment, but it's too sweeping. That's all I was saying. Of course there is a level of drunk in which consent becomes impossible, but the woman would have to drink a lot to achieve that level. It is my opinion that most drunken hook ups are fine. Only a small minority are not. Sorry if I took the larger discussion out of context.
Robert
Thu, Nov 19, 2015, 7:17am (UTC -5)
@John - No worries! I didn't think you meant that. It's just that the word drunk occurred 4 words away from "passed out". So I just read that post as being "drunk drunk" so to speak... not as a symptom of our overly PC culture. I agree with you for the most part though, some opinions on the topic basically means we've all raped somebody at some point. A
MartinB
Sat, Dec 26, 2015, 8:28am (UTC -5)
Funny how Voriks apparently only options are sex with Torres, sex with a hologram or die. No one mentioned that one Vulcan ex-Maquis woman we saw with Chakotay in "Repression", she must have been on the ship all this time. I'm sure laying back and taking one for the team would have been "logical" given Voyager's situation.
Phoebe
Thu, Jan 7, 2016, 10:09pm (UTC -5)
I think that this episode was very well done and I liked the fact that Tom was holding back from taking advantage of Torres, since he knew that it would destroy their frienship, possibly for good. He transcended his notorious playboy personality and actually had a growth moment. I believe that, if it were any other female from Boyager stuck with him in the caves, he would have just had sex with her. With B'Elanna, it's different because he actually cares about her and when a guy has feelings for a woman, he wouldn't take advantage of her in this kind of situation. Tom did the honorable thing and rebuffed her. This episode made me love him even more because of the way he handled the situation. Yeah, I dislike what Vorik did to B'Elanna; it was akin to rape, yes. I always kind of grimaced every time I saw him after this episode. I don't think that being afflicted with the pon farr is not an excuse to attack someone. Anyway, the good thing was that B'Elanna kicked his butt and purged her blood fever. Because there was no way she was going to sleep with him. Ugh. Roxann did a remarkable job, considering that she was a couple months pregnant at the time. Robert's performance was plain aces and I applaud their great job for this episode. This episode also officially began the Tom/B'Elanna romantic arc, so it gets even higher marks in its favor from me. Roxann and Robert both like this episode and think fondly of it, so, for me, the subject is closed. Blood Fever rules and I love it. Peace out, folks.
Phoebe
Thu, Jan 7, 2016, 10:30pm (UTC -5)
I think that this episode was very well done and I liked the fact that Tom was holding back from taking advantage of B'Elanna, since he knew that it would destroy their frienship, possibly for good. He transcended his notorious playboy personality and actually had a growth moment here. I believe that, if it were any other female from Voyager stuck with him in the caves, he probably would have been more easily compelled to have sex with her. With B'Elanna, it's different, because he actually cares about her and when a guy has feelings for a woman, he wouldn't take advantage of her - well, if he were truly an honorable man. Tom did the right thing and resisted her. It's not particularly flattering or romantic to have sex with someone when it has no meaning. Tom would want B'Elanna to be truly herself, to actually desire him, and not be afflicted by a sickness that could kill her and is driving her to behave uncharacteristically. This is alluded to when he says, "I hope you say that to me one day and mean it." What a great guy.

I dislike what Vorik did to B'Elanna; it was an uninvited mental rape attack. I always kind of grimaced every time I saw him after this episode. I know he was dealing with pon farr and all, but that doesn't matter. I don't think that being afflicted with the pon farr is an excuse to attack someone. That is the main concept that I will never like about this episode. It reminds me of that scum in TNG who mentally raped Troi in the fifth season and put her in a coma. That episode pisses me off, too. Even more so because Troi couldn't protect herself and if Worf and his security team hadn't shown up right then, she would have been raped physically.

Anyway, the good thing was that B'Elanna kicked Vorik's butt and purged her blood fever. Because there was no way she was going to sleep with him. I highly doubt that Chakotay and Tuvok would have allowed that, and definitely not Janeway either. Roxann did a remarkable job in this episode, considering that she was a couple months pregnant at the time; Robert's performance was aces as well and I applaud their great job on this episode. Blood Fever also officially began the Tom/B'Elanna romantic arc, so it gets even higher marks from me. Plus, Roxann and Robert both like this episode and think fondly of it, so, for me, the subject is closed. Blood Fever rules and I love it. Peace out, folks.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Jan 28, 2016, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
It has to be said this episode takes some strange decisions in its choices, not least of which Tuvok's eyebrow-raising demand for Tom to step up and get his man on.

To me, that kind of summed up the problem here - the episode didn't really know what direction it wanted to go. Was it making a social commentary? A relationship story for B'Elanna and Tom? Something else? So what we got was a mish-mash of scenes, few of which that were actually compelling at all. Indeed Vorik's was probably the best performance, all suppressed passion and emotion. 2 stars.
Diamond Dave
Thu, Jan 28, 2016, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
And I should have said that the last 10 seconds were by far the best bit - introducing the Borg for the first time comes right out of the blue.
dipads
Mon, May 23, 2016, 7:33am (UTC -5)
T'Paul's presence (all of Vulcan in one package) during the pon farr in Amok Time made for a spectacular episode. VOY episode is lame in comparison. I give it a failing grade.
mephyve
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 7:13am (UTC -5)
I would say now we're talking but that would imply that I think Voyager will become a better program. So I'll just say that the implications of Borg activity elevate the possibility of some good episodes in the future.
as for this episode, the doctor's innocent amusement at the plight of the hapless victims of the irrepressible sex demons, was highly entertaining
mephyve
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 7:17am (UTC -5)
Looks like Jammer was entertained as well.
mephyve
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 7:39am (UTC -5)
Wow yáll are so rigid. Maybe it was thought that the fight had to be to the death because that's how it was always done. Since nobody died, logic would indicate that the myth has been busted.
Trek fan
Sat, Jan 7, 2017, 12:21am (UTC -5)
I think 3 stars is too generous here; I never found this hour of Trek to be more than middling, average, or mediocre -- pick your metaphor, but my mind wandered pretty frequently between the planet beam-down and silly fight scene at end. I liked this one a lot more when it was called "Amok Time" (TOS) and had a real "nerdy cool" vibe to it. Anyway, I would give this one 2 out of 4 stars, as the Borg reveal in final second was just enough to keep my eyes open. The rest of the material was a pretty predictable rehash of better Treks, with fairly pedestrian acting all around.
Paul Allen
Sun, Jan 8, 2017, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
"Careful what you wish for Tom..."

Good ending. :)
Akkadian
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
I remember enjoying this episode when it first aired because it set up the Tom and Bellana relationship. On second view Indefintky see the issues raised by some posters. But really TOM was just as much a "victim" here. She was kinda forcing herself on him.

As a side note Vulcans and Kilngons are supposed to be stronger but time and again they don't really show this.
RandomThoughts
Mon, Jun 5, 2017, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

Heh, I'd completely forgotten they showed a Borg body at the end. I actually sat up and took notice. And as for the first go round in the '90s, I mentioned on the Cause and Effect (TNG) page that I stopped watching the teasers after the one for CaE gave away the premise. I'd have been very disappointed to see the teaser and have them show a Borg, because it was so great not knowing it was going to be there. Then and now. :)

Perhaps the hologram helped Vorik out for a bit physically. Heck, the doctor said his levels were coming down to normal. But since there wasn't a telepathic bond, his brain went and wound itself back up again after he left sickbay. Oh, and I didn't see anyone mention the bit of Pon Farr we witnessed in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Hmmm... I wonder how many Vulcans are in Starfleet? There seemed to be two or three on this ship, and I'd figure there are some on most ships. If they are on a deep space mission, do they need to make certain their Pon Farr cycle is lined up for after they return? Do some plan ahead and take a vacation? Do others have to suddenly request a shuttle craft from their Captain, and do they explain why? Even for something so intensely private, shouldn't they have a rule for this? And to keep the required knowledge out of the medical database seems rather absurd (perhaps it should be there for "need to know" situations, maybe pass protected?). While the Vulcans are seemingly one of the top sentient races in the fleet, are there any other species that just suddenly, you know, go nuts out of the blue? If there were, would you want one on your ship?

Enjoy the day Everyone! RT
Startrekwatcher
Tue, Jul 25, 2017, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
2 stars.

Lisa Klink is one of the worst Voyager writers.
Even without the anticipation for the Borg overshadowing this episode, this episode would still not be able to grab my attention. I never felt Paris and Torres had chemistry and I never was rooting for their romantic relationship so strike one. Then you have the weird Vulcan deleterious effect on Torres driving everything and a horny Vorik whom I never was that fond of so it strongly reminded me of other awful romantic outings like DS9 Fascination or Let He...

The most interesting part were the aliens going to such extremes to avoid attracting the Borg to their existence. And I can't tell you how betrayed I felt by the original misleading trailer hinting at a bigger Borg role in the hour--then in reality making essentially a cameo in literally the last seconds of the hour Meh
Mertov
Sat, Aug 19, 2017, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
The brief conversation between Paris and Tuvok was one of the golden moments of Voyager:

"You go through this every 7 years?"
"You only need to be concerned with Lt. Torres' situation."
[Paris disoriented]: "Right."

Great expressions and deliveries on the part of both.
It also helps that it was performed by the two best actors on the show...

Another good moment: The two Vulcans discussing intensely Vorik's dilemma in his quarters..

And another: The two dialogs between Doctor and Vorik in the holodeck.

B'Elanna is awesome in the cave scenes with Paris in the 2nd half of the show..

This episode was carried by great dialog-writing and wonderful deliveries of those dialogs by Torres, Paris, Tuvok, Picardo, and Vorik (who truly manifests his shame and his inner-conflict very well).

I also like the story.. Good intro to the Borg threat. I give it the highest rating.. One of my top 3 episodes.
Zakalwe
Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
Gotto love the Doctor. Programmed with all the knowledge of hundreds of Starfleet doctors, unencumbered by human frailties like fatigue and loss of focus, after working for hours and days trying to come up with a cure for Vorik, his solution?

Holo-wank.

Something every male on every starship is no doubt doing every single minute of free time he has.
William B
Sat, Sep 30, 2017, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
This is sort of silly, and certainly can be described as "problematic," but I enjoyed this one a lot. I was laughing, actually, through most of the episode, but while the episode isn't *exactly* a comedy, I think that I was still laughing more with than at it. It's an absurd situation, but one which, in some weird, twisted ways, still has a lot of resonance for "mating practices" in our world. I like that it's a remix of sorts of Amok Time (which I love), but one which manages to be consistently surprising while (mostly) adhering to the rules laid out in that earlier episode, and furthering a major character relationship arc in the process.

Vorik's assault on B'Elanna: I think the episode makes clear that Vorik was in the wrong, and he gets a comeuppance of lots of pain, being given a beatdown from B'Elanna twice. Vorik's behaviour here seems to be a satire (albeit a somewhat sympathetic one) on an angry, horny nerd, who has no idea how to deal with the sexy feelings he has. He is so sure that his hot coworker is right for him that he eventually goes to force, and then after being pushed down he continues to be convinced that she's the one for him. However, it's also clear that his actions are partly the result of a culture that has completely avoided any kind of instruction on how to deal with his feelings constructively. If we take Tuvok (and Spock, etc.) at their word, the idea here is that Vulcans *really can't* deal with these feelings more productively, but I tend to side with the Doctor here and think that Vulcans' refusal to even talk about it, leaving the pon farr completely shrouded in secrecy largely even from the Vulcans who are about to go through it, is a big source of their problem, particularly when any element of their careful secret social structure breaks down, as we see here (with Vorik's absence from the homeworld). Apparently, Vorik didn't even know for sure that he was going through the pon farr early on, but only suspected based on his total inability to control his behaviour. Conversely, the Doctor's belief that he can cure Vorik's physiological AND psychological condition with a masturbatory fantasy is a bit of a satire on the idea that all biological impulses can be simply substituted away. The Doctor makes things worse by providing an outlet that "cures" Vorik but only leaves him more dangerous, when it seems as if he should have continued to be confined to his quarters.

The B'Elanna/Tom material throughout is good. I like how B'Elanna's initial explosions of anger partly function as metaphor for a person's inability to understand their own reactions of anger after a sexual assault. I like that the situation presented creates a kind of ambiguity, where Tom basically *does* have licence to sleep with B'Elanna, and she may even need it, but he still takes the high road and hopes they can get back to Voyager without B'Elanna having to have the memory of being compelled by some externally-forced Vulcan biology to sleep with him. It's very funny in a weird way for Tuvok to tell Tom that he has to do so, at the end, and that Tom does agree there, because, yes, in this bizarre, exaggerated situation, her having sex *is* life or death. I could see the argument that the episode shouldn't have gone there at all -- when people are drugged against their will, which is the closest approximation I can think of for what Vorik did to B'Elanna, there really isn't a situation in which the drugged person needs to have sex or die (and, well, actually, that "sex or die" never happens, except on a species level), but I think the episode spent enough time having Tom recognize that B'Elanna's not in her right mind before getting to the point when the alien sex blood fever takes over enough to dismiss with usual human priorities and to go to a more general "humanistic" (humanoid-istic?) recognition that in life-or-death situations, you do what you can to save a person's life, no matter how weird. (Though, of course, it should have been made clear to Tom that he had the right to say no.)

The final moment in the turbolift between B'Elanna and Tom is wonderful. Under other circumstances, Tom basically saying, "I know that your claim that what you said while drugged by Vulcan sex biology was false is a cover-up" would be annoying, but here I think he really does get through to B'Elanna. Deep down, I think that even if B'Elanna *didn't* have any feelings at all for Tom, she would *still* be more embarrassed about her Klingon strength and emotional intensity showing than about having (falsely) revealed feelings while trying desperately to have sex. I think Tom knows something about shame, if not on the same level as B'Elanna, and recognizes that in her, and I think that's part of why he got on some level that she really, *really* would feel ashamed of herself the next day if they had had sex, and would not easily be able to write it off as some weird SF thing (the way Tom and Kathryn could easily write off their mutant hyper-evolved salamander babies).

I do think that the B'Elanna/Vorik fight was a bad idea. On a plot level, Amok Time really did suggest it had to end in death, or at least *apparent* death. I guess Vorik does look pretty beat up, though. And as someone pointed out above, what exactly would have happened had Vorik won? Even if we assume that Tuvok has non-humanistic ideas surrounding pon farr, Chakotay (actually in command) should never have allowed this, at least not without making clear that B'Elanna doesn't actually *have* to beat Vorik up to win her right to not "be his mate." Even if Chakotay and Tuvok had been phaser-stunned by Vorik (and he had been beat up more badly) the ending might have worked better, since it makes sense to end the episode on a big fight given the pon farr resolution options mentioned. But it's true that the episode seems to play the fight as some sort of "Vulcan tradition" thing when the reality is that B'Elanna has to fight so she doesn't get raped. Truth be told, most of these problems are present in the implications back in Amok Time, but they're more explicit here. The fight passes quickly and we also know that he is in some senses not responsible for his actions because of the extreme SF Vulcan pon farr blood fever madness conceit, but here the episode drifts out of the funny-ridiculous absurdist area where most of the ep works to something that is much more disturbing, if taken seriously.

The Borg reveal is exciting, but I'll also add that it's pretty funny and appropriate to end *this* episode with the Borg, because in a way the whole pon farr craziness is about the best argument *for* the Borg you can think of. If this madness is how these puny biological beings perpetuate the species, maybe the Borg aren't so bad. (I kid -- but I do think it's kind of neat.) The ep has problems but 3 stars.
Skwimbles
Sat, Nov 4, 2017, 2:43am (UTC -5)
I find it extremely funny how everyone is saying that Paris having sex with Torres would have been the same as HIM raping HER, when it was clearly the exact opposite. Maybe it's because our so called enlightened culture doesn't normally think that women can rape men, but that is obviously what was happening here.

Torres was the one forcing the issue, demanding sex. Paris was repeatedly saying no to her, yet she kept pressing sex upon him. Isn't that rape? Or at least the beginnings of it? How is that any different than when Vorik demanded sex from Torres? It isn't. Yet people seem to think Vorik was sexually assaulting Torres, but she, doing the exact same thing, was just acting like a drunk woman or something, and Paris agreeing would have been rape.

It's very telling how noone else seemed to see that side of it but me apparently. Hmmmm....

And yes, they made a big steaming pile of mess out of the Pon Farr. I used to have sort of an idea of what it was and what it meant before this episode, but now I have no clue. I won't even get into all the stupid things they did. Most of it was already mentioned already.

Onto more mudane things.

There is a kiloton of gallacite to get, which would be enough to refit their warp coils, and they send down 3 people with backpacks to bring it up? That is 1000 tons. So that would only take them about 18 years or so. Silly.

I also find it hard to believe that 400 years from now there isn't a better way to climb down a cliff than using pitons and ropes. But that has been done several times in Star Trek now, so I don't blame Voyager, but I do blame them for saying this after they fell...

PARIS: Calm down. This wasn't Neelix's fault. I saw him drive the piton and it was solid. It must've malfunctioned.

Because a spike driven into a rock can 'malfunction'. I think the Voyager writers are in love with technobabble so much that they use it when they don't even need to. 'My rope broke! It must have been a subspace anomaly that decreased the density of the atoms causing an invariant breakdown of the particle field!'

All the aliens just vanish with Chakotay and the others. How? They have transporters I guess? Or are just really really sneaky? Either way, silly.

Vorick was just faking being all better when the Doc met him in the holodeck? How did he manage that? And why did he even bother telling the Doc? Why not just leave? He could somehow disable Voyager's transporters, communications, and shuttles, and then get to the planet without using them, or maybe he did it miraculously after he left? IDK. All nonsense.

And Tuvok telling Paris to allow himself to be raped by Torres (see above) was one of the most horrible things I've ever seen on Star Trek.

Tuvok allowing the Kal-if-fee to happen was also horrible. He knew Vorick had another way to deal with pon farr, namely meditation, and that Torres was not a Vulcan and was dealing with pon farr against her will, and that it was (supposedly) a fight to the death. He should have had Vorick sent back to the ship to meditate, and had Torres and Paris mate like he originally intended, which is less horrible(?).

All of this is just awful to me, this whole episode. Voyager really screwed up this time. I'm not sure what the point was. Rape is bad? Or good sometimes? Were they trying to increase our knowledge of Vulcan sexuality? If that's the case, it didn't work. It only muddled things up beyond all hope.

What a mess. I'm sort of at a loss what to think.

1/2 star.
Maq
Thu, Mar 29, 2018, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
Well, there are many things in the plot that is obscurer. Why did Nelix need to take part at all? But I like much of the dialogues and acting. Yes, Engelberg is overacting but it is probably very difficult to get the contradiction done well. Dawsons acting getting "insane" was more enjoyable although not as good as Liens in Warlord. Still it took up the theme of sex and bonding. Although Voriks behaviour is not really acceptable the scene in the beginning when he and Torres together clears the situation in the sickbay is very interesting. Torres does not want Vorik but she seems to have an understanding for his situation. Normally if a more junior rank attacks a senior including a sexual intent, should he not then be put into the brig. Well not in the Star Trek world. A Vulcan going through pon farr is understood.

But except for handling the theme without letting it be slippery three was some good dialogues.
JASmius
Wed, Apr 4, 2018, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
One would think that such a logical race as Vulcans would have discovered the biological necessity of masturbation given their physiological compulsion to "get it on" every seven years when a partner might not be available. That's what makes Vorik's employment of the euphemism "intense meditation" so snicker-inducing. If the Doctor had acknowledged that obvious reality with a chuckle or leer, the episode might have been worthy of a recommendation.
Rahul
Wed, Apr 25, 2018, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
Not a fan of this episode as it sullies the TOS epic "Amok Time". Still, Dawson puts in a quality performance, but I feel the whole Vulcan mating/ponn farr is trivialized and I wasn't a fan of Vorik's depiction of the Vulcan blood fever -- but of course, I'm comparing it to Nimoy's.

I think it's a stretch that Torres could get the blood fever, not being Vulcan, from a brief attempt at telepathy from Vorik -- but it's a contrivance to get her to go wild sexually, which does have consequences in the series for Paris. So at least it's not useless.

The crux of the episode is Torres overheating and Paris trying to cope. This was done well for me by both actors. Paris never knows what to expect and Torres is very raw. At least there is some true portrayal of Klingon mating/courtship! Was getting borderline edgy for VOY.

Vorik dealing with the ponn farr was nothing special. Doc's hologram idea is actually logical but Vorik pretending to be over the blood fever didn't seem right for me (that he employed deception). So when he pops up on the planet to fight Paris, I started shaking my head. The episode was about to descend into borderline stupidity. How can he fight Torres when she's the one he covets -- even if it is allowed by Vulcan law?? Their fight scene is questionably portrayed for me -- shouldn't a male Vulcan be able to overwhelm a female half human/half Klingon? And after a bit of a scuffle, Tuvok just says the blood fever is over for both of them? Sloppy.

2 stars for "Blood Fever" -- shallow entertainment here. Dawson puts on a quality performance, but it seems like more VOY contrivances and arbitrary resolutions without anything meaningful. Nice touch at the end with the dead Borg - VOY could really use them to kickstart the series at this stage. Interesting that the planet's natives have adopted a hiding tactic against the Borg and their description of the damage inflicted by the invaders is pretty compelling.
Springy
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 12:18am (UTC -5)
I hate the pon farr. I hate the whole ridiculous concept. I thought it was laughable in Amok Time; I couldn't believe my ears (or Spock's) when I first heard the concept explained in that ep. I laughed out loud and hooted at the idea that a good tussle with Captain took care of the problem. It was just so, IMO, stupid.

So I have to get past that. Which is hard.

The B'Ellana and Paris stuff was well acted, the only saving grace.

As far as who was raping who - uh, if B'Ellana had been forced by the Vulcan in pon farr mode, that surely would have been rape. The rest is pretty dicey, given how into B'Ellana Tom is already, and how forceful she was being with him.

But regardless, a pon farr ep is just automatically unlikable to me. Only every 7 years? And then it drives a Vulcan wild? And could kill? It's amazing they have survived as a species.
Riprake
Mon, Feb 11, 2019, 5:35am (UTC -5)
It's rather nice to see that, for a change, most of the complaints about the episode and rebuttals I'm seeing here are at least valid depending on which premises the ones making these arguments accept. Yes, Vorik *was* being rather rape-y with Torres in that first part, albeit more out of ignorance than malice. As he tells Tuvok later when questioned about the incident, "It felt very important not to let go. I don't know why..." and (when informed he was instinctively initiating a mating bond with her) "I didn't know it could happen that way." I think *some* of our juries here on Earth might agree that at least on charges of attempted rape, Vorik should be acquitted as not guilty by reason of insanity; he really didn't know what he was doing and wasn't in control of himself.

Also, give the EMH some credit here for being right about how "Victorian" the Vulcans are about sex: how exactly was it being at all helpful to Vorik to keep him in the dark about what his Vulcan mating instincts might drive him to do so he wouldn't anticipate his baser impulses and be prepared to counteract them? It evidently didn't occur to any of his fellow Vulcans to tell him "If the female rejects you, turn around and leave immediately, or you might succumb to the urge to form a mating bond with her against her will, which is considered sexual harassment to a degree equivalent to attempted forcible rape in the vast majority of humanoid cultures, particularly including our own and the Federation's." On this point, any indictments for Vorik's execrable behavior will have to be lodged against his entire culture rather than himself.

As for Torres, it's worth noting that her aggressive advances on Paris are indeed very reminiscent of a date rapist's behavior, particularly if we consider how some of the things she says to him would sound to us if we were to flip the script and have him recite some equivalent of her lines back to her: "This isn't like you, B'Ellana; you were never one to play hard to get!" "I've seen the way you looked at me when you thought I wasn't watching; you can't tell me you're not interested!" At the same time, since Torres is as much in the dark about what the Pon Farr is doing to her as Vorik, Vulcan culture will have to bear the majority of the blame for her creepy behavior here too. The Federation's doctors are the only non-Vulcans who know much about the Pon Farr at all, and probably only from observations in the medical logs of a certain Leonard McCoy, who might have thought it an unethical breach of patient-doctor confidentiality to disclose certain embarrassing details about Spock's behavior while he was under its influence.

Concerning Paris, his behavior throughout the whole ordeal was rather exemplary on the whole, though not so altogether noble as to be unrealistic. While we should know better than to believe the popular myth that "a man is *always* eager" to have sex with any woman he finds at all attractive, the double standard concerning the social acceptability of sexual aggression between a man and a woman did not arise in a vacuum: statistically speaking, men do generally tend to have a stronger sex drive than women, women will tend to bear the majority of any adverse consequences arising from sexual irresponsibility, and women do therefore usually need to be more defensive and selective than men.

As such, while Tuvok is indeed practicing something of a double standard in asking Tom Paris to help B'Ellana Torres in a way he never would have asked her to help Vorik, one can make the case that he's not wrong to do so. Also, while Tuvok clearly was pressuring Tom to mate with B'Ellana, he was making a *request*, not giving an *order*. If Tom *really* didn't want to do it, he could still have said "I'm sorry, but I just can't go through with this." (For an added twist, he might also have said "Why don't *you* do it, Chakotay? I think she still might carry a torch for you. Or how about you, Tuvok? You Vulcans are the ones who got us into this mess, so how about cleaning up after yourselves?")

Concerning other complaints about this episode: in just about every one of these reviews, it seems like somebody always brings up the question "Why are the crew sending so many of their main officers (in this case their Chief Engineer, their best pilot and all-around hyper-competent Lieutenant Junior Grade, their main Security Officer, and their First Mate) out to face unknown dangers when a team of reasonably well-trained team of Red Shirts would do?" To that complaint, all I can say is "You've got a point, but that's an original sin of the entire franchise; if you can't suspend disbelief about this particular break from reality, you're just going to have to stop watching every Star Trek series altogether."

Does this episode throw out some of what TOS episode "Amok Time" taught us about how the Pon Farr works? Maybe, but most of the claims I've seen here are speculative: "Amok Time" did not establish that Spock's successful resolution of his Pon Farr came from thinking he'd just killed his best friend; in fact, his ex-fiancee tells him she was expecting he'd release her from their marriage pact whether he won or lost, which suggests the combat itself *was* sufficient to resolve his Pon Farr. "Amok Time" also suggested that Vulcans typically need to go home to their planet to take their preselected mate, and won't be satisfied with any other, but the third Star Trek movie suggests otherwise: an experienced Vulcan female was able to help the rapidly maturing young clone of Spock through his first Pon Farr by mating with him. Vorik's attempt to take Torres as an alternate mate, ineffective as it was, therefore seems consistent enough with the previous lore.

"Amok Time" does establish that the ritual combat typically had to be a brutal duel to the death, but it doesn't establish whether this demand was instinctive or merely traditional; given what a rigid and demanding matriarch Spock's grandmother (who presided over the duel) was, it may well have been the latter. Also, with Torres championing herself, Vorik killing her would logically tend to contradict the whole purpose of the ritual combat unless necrophilia were common in individual Vulcans and enshrined in their culture and its traditions which... suffice to say, I seriously doubt to be the case. Torres not being a Vulcan at all, she obviously didn't have any cultural mandate to kill Vorik (though I suspect the ritually violent Klingons would tend to hold this particular Vulcan tradition in high regard).

Why the EMH's attempted holographic solution (the virtual Vulcan T'Pera) didn't succeed? Probably for the same reason the Vulcans can't just masturbate their way through Pon Farr: the instinct requires two to tango, and Vorik wasn't quite able to convince himself T'Pera (a holographic NPC, and evidently not much of a conversationalist) was loving him back. Tom Paris was able to make the EMH's proposed solution work better for Tuvok in "Body And Soul" in the 7th season, but that's because the hologram was of Tuvok's *wife* whom he knew to be alive, still in love with him, and eagerly awaiting him at home; of course Tuvok and his wife were a lot more experienced than Vorik, and he could easily convince himself that his wife was loving him back, even if only by proxy. (What his wife was doing to resolve her Pon Farr at this time, I can only wonder; maybe Tuvok was considerate enough to send her a discreet romantic message with a holo-replica of himself enclosed.)

On the whole, therefore, while I'd say "Blood Fever" fudges on the Pon Farr lore a little bit, there's nothing in there that flat-out contradicts previous canon. While some of Pon Farr's creepier and more disturbing implications are definitely explored in depth here, it's done in a sufficiently light-hearted and humorous way to keep it from getting too squicky while helping advance a romantic pairing between Tom and B'Elanna. Having that Borg corpse turn up at the end, while it goes slightly against previous lore about them (TNG established that dead Borg drones are typically beamed back up to the cube and recycled for their parts there), was an effective hook for the next few episodes. In this site's four-star rating system, I give it a solid three-and-a-half stars overall.
ovadul
Wed, Oct 23, 2019, 8:08am (UTC -5)
"She bit me"
P'kard
Wed, Dec 11, 2019, 7:34am (UTC -5)
Good old Paris. Intentionally friendzoning himself only to get the long term mating. Classic long con
Sarjenka's Brother
Sat, May 2, 2020, 1:00am (UTC -5)
Maybe it's just me, but I thought Vorik would make for an excellent and memorable one-night stand.

Count me in as a fan of the episode. I especially liked how we had seen Vorik before so he wasn't random. And I liked the Borg ending.
orshko
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 12:35am (UTC -5)
The doctor's pimping of another hologram felt off. It's a dark way to treat your own, even if they are lesser forms of algorithms.
Luke
Thu, Aug 27, 2020, 11:28am (UTC -5)
“a dark way to treat your own”?
“lessor forms of algorithms”?

He is a sentient and sapient being. “She” is not. It’s an apples to oranges comparison.
Elliott
Wed, Jan 6, 2021, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Happy New Year, Jammer Bots!

And now, we have to talk about Pon Farr. There is a kind of gendered essentialism in the conceit of how this biological “instinct” is constructed. I think “Alter Ego” made excellent use of the Vulcan paradox; natural Vulcan emotions, including those which undergird sexual relationships, are too extreme for the kind of enlightened society they, as a people, have chosen to embrace. A logical people don’t require an excuse to mate often enough to perpetuate the species. I’m sure they would figure it out. But Gene decided that (in the males), there exists a surge of hormones so extreme that no amount of mental discipline can contain their effect. And I’m sure this attitude had nothing to do with his own habits with women. Metaphorically, this reflects broader assumptions about human sexuality; that women in general “allow” men to fuck them in order to forge family units, while men are generally at the mercy of their penises and can’t be held accountable for sexual aggression, especially when women deny them. It’s all very socially Darwinian, heteronormative, and gross. The two prominent prior examples of the Pon Farr are of course “Amok Time” and “The Search for Spock.”

The former provides nearly all of the essential lore for the process:

SPOCK: The birds and the bees are not Vulcans, Captain. If they were, if any creature as proudly logical as us were to have their logic ripped from them as this time does to us. How do Vulcans choose their mates?...We shield it with ritual and customs shrouded in antiquity. You humans have no conception. It strips our minds from us. It brings a madness which rips away our veneer of civilisation. It is the pon farr. The time of mating...I'm a Vulcan. I'd hoped I would be spared this, but the ancient drives are too strong. Eventually, they catch up with us, and we are driven by forces we cannot control to return home and take a wife. Or die.

In fairness to TOS, there is something somewhat transgressive for the time period in openly discussing the sexual instinct in this way. Kirk initially views Spock’s discomfort in talking about sex as misguided and rather silly, implying that the human norm is to discuss such things openly and maturely, which is good. From a mythological perspective, there’s also something *right* about ascribing this fundamental flaw to a species which is otherwise so aspirational. It’s like making Superman vulnerable to Kryptonite, a substance which is relatively harmless to except to him who is most powerful in all other respects. The episode toes the line a little too closely to the licentious (which comes with the miniskirt territory), but overall the tone of the episode emphasises that Vulcan sexual practice is alien and regressive. It must, perhaps, be tolerated since the alternative is death, but unlike the other Vulcan features, it is not to be admired or aspired to.

But it’s really difficult to look past the allegory. Kirk and co. consider Spock’s needs to be urgent--and of course, they are because he’s going to die--but the conceit that not being able to get your rocks off will result in bodily harm or death is mired in a myriad of issues around consent and rape culture. There is of course a reason nearly all men and a majority of women and nonbinary folks masturbate regularly; the sexual urge is powerful. But it certainly seems like the Vulcans have constructed a regressive social fabric that makes the Catholic church look like a bacchanal. And they justify this regression with excuses about “biology.” Kirk’s consideration for his best friend’s privacy is admirable on the one hand, but risking his career rather than telling Admiral Generic White Man that his first officer needs to fuck or he’ll die is pretty ridiculous. At least when Worf does his stupid Klingon shit on the Enterprise, it’s understood that he *has* a choice. There may be cultural implications that we humans don’t understand motivating that choice (c.f. “Reunion,” “Ethics,” “The Sons of Mogh”), but it is still voluntary. “Amok Time” transposes the choice from Spock to Kirk, obscuring the implications slightly, but it boils down to choosing between observing the chain of command, performing one’s duties, and treating your fellow officers and friends with respect (hi Nurse Chapel) VS. having the sex because without the sex, I’ll die 😞.

On the other hand, the “Koon-ut-kal-if-fee” thing has mediaeval overtones to it, suggesting Vulcan mating practices are highly spiritual matters, motivated perhaps by that grotesque biological instinct, but manifested in a sublime, almost courtly ritual. Indeed, much of the second half of the episode is like watching a ballet: “Rite of Spring” in space.

All of that said, I will never tire of the look on Shatner’s face when Spock says “she is T’Pring, my wife.” Absolutely classic. Kroykah!

One unintentional implication from “The Search for Spock” comes from Saavik’s casual exposition about the Pon Farr to David. Apparently, Vulcan women aren’t nearly so uptight about the whole mess, cementing the message that Vulcan men really need to get over their boners. Indeed, her resolve to deal with this inevitable issue calmly and directly serves at quite the contrast to all the pomp we saw in the Vulcan desert. The ritual is an indulgence, a sublimation of embarrassing (male) emotions. We also see that the Vulcan sex act is as different from the ritual combat as could be imagined, barely physical, extremely quiet and intimate, like those other Vulcan things we’ve come to know. At least the pomp at the end of the film surrounds a virtually unprecedented resurrection instead of a routine marriage/death-match.

Anyway, on to “Voyager.”

Teaser : **.5, 5% 

The Voyager has entered the orbit of a planet containing yet another Very Important Mineral which they plan to mine. Paris and Torres mention all the damage the engines have taken over the last two years and welcome the repairs this mineral will offer. So just to clarify, if the Voyager can get its hands on this mineral every couple of years or so, they can rebuild their engines nearly from scratch. So why is it such a pain in everyone’s ass if they build extra shuttles and torpedoes every once in a while? Anyway, Tuvok notes that the only signs of civilisation are from a long-abandoned colony of some sort, and that’s all the motivation Janeway needs to start strip-mining. She gives Torres control of the project, emphasising that little bit from “Coda” about how Janeway is self-consciously boosting Torres’ confidence. Then she suggests that Neelix be part of her team, because no one deserves to be completely happy.

Torres goes over her excavation plan in Engineering with Vorik. She tells him they’re going to bring Tom along because he’s very experienced...at rock climbing *wink *wink. Vorik insists that he has a much bigger penis than Paris and volunteers to round out the team. Great, that means each of them will be responsible for 250 tons of magic mineral ore. Seems very logical.

VORIK: Let me take this opportunity to declare koon-ut so'lik, my desire to become your mate.
TORRES: What?
VORIK: In human terms, I am proposing marriage. Do you accept?

Considering Torres punched her first assistant chief in the face until he vanished into the aether, she handles this surprisingly well. It turns out Vorik has considered his options, realising his arranged mate on Vulcan has probably moved on and finding Torres herself to be an ideal runner up:

VORIK: Our differences would complement each other. You've often expressed frustration with your Klingon temper. My mental discipline would help you control it...Your choices for a mate are currently limited to seventy three male crew members on this ship, some of whom are already unavailable...I should also remind you that many humanoid species are unable to withstand Klingon mating practices...

When, er, diplomacy fails him, the blood fever starts to bubble up and he grabs her neck. Yikes. Well, she punches him in the face (again, this is all a part of being Torres’ number one) and we cut to credits. Dawson’s charm and timing manage to keep this scene light enough for the humour to work despite awkward subject matter. The last time “Voyager” attempted an episode centred around sex, we got “Elogium,” so...fingers crossed.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

Vorik is examined by the Doctor who identifies the neurochemical imbalance in his brain, but has developed enough as a social creature to respect Vorik’s privacy implicitly, choosing not to disclose what he’s found to Torres.

EMH: I assume this is your first Pon farr? There's nothing to be embarrassed about. It's a normal biological function. I'll do what I can to help you through it, but I'll need a little more information.
VORIK: We do not discuss it.
EMH: I'm afraid you'll have to.

Reluctantly, but for the benefit of those who had not seen “Amok Time” or ST3 recently, Vorik gives a brief primer on the ritual and informs the Doctor that he doesn’t want any kind of treatment. He will instead attempt some masturb--meditation exercises in his quarters. I’d like to think that in the last 100 years, with more and more Vulcans serving in the Starfleet, the Vulcans themselves began to develop alternate means of coping with the Pon Farr. It would certainly be healthier than what we’ve seen so far. The Doctor fits him with the neck tech and confines him to his masturbatorium for the time being.

He hasn’t given up on his intent to treat the young ensign however, as the next thing we see, he’s complaining to Tuvok about the chaotic readings he’s getting from the neck tech.

TUVOK: It is inappropriate for me to involve myself in Ensign Vorik's personal situation.
EMH: For such an intellectually enlightened race, Vulcans have a remarkably Victorian attitude about sex.
TUVOK: That is a very human judgement, Doctor.
EMH: Then here's a Vulcan one. I fail to see the logic in perpetuating ignorance about a basic biological function.

There’s some snappy dialogue in this script, and Russ and Picardo make for an amusing double act. Through what you could almost call gritted teeth (for a Vulcan), Tuvok explains the possible resolutions to the Pon Farr; mating, ritual combat, or this meditation. Frustrated, the EMH dismisses Tuvok.

We catch up with the mining team--which is now three whole people...wow--in the transporter room. Torres is...chipper? Is that the word? She shows Tom “the most accessible vein” (ahem) of magic mineral and quickly lays out their plan. The trio beams down and examines the remains of the abandoned colony. Paris and Neelix note that the level of structural decay and the age of the ruin (about 60 years) do not match, but Torres is very impatient to get started on the excavation *wink *wink.

So they climb and they banter accompanied by one of those really bland Chattaway scores which, after watching ST3, feels even blander than it is. Neelix’ techno-piton fails and he plummets down a chasm, accidentally taking Torres with him. She’s fine, but Neelix has broken his leg. I say she’s fine, but the accident has pissed her off and she starts ranting about how unqualified Neelix is to be rigging safety equipment. Her words are fair but her tone is...mmm, about at “Caretaker” levels. Amid the ranting, she bites Paris’ neck and then decides to mine the kiloton of ore herself. Okay yeah, this is beyond “Caretaker.”

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

Paris reports his predicament to Janeway...

PARIS [OC]: And she seemed to be enjoying it, in a Klingon kind of way. She's really not herself.

Like I said, this script does not want for wit. Anyway, before the captain can begin Operation Klingon Snatch Block, Tuvok requests a delay to exposit a theory. We cut to Vorik’s quarters where the ensign is in the midst of trying to purge himself of sexual feelings. Tuvok interrupts him (and apologises), but one of the things that makes Tuvok such a great Vulcan is the fact that he really is logical to a fault. So despite the embarrassment, he asks Vorik to explain exactly what kind of contact he had with Torres. Vorik’s account confirms Tuvok’s suspicion that he initiated a telepathic mating bond. So, can Vulcan females become pregnant from mind melds, or how exactly does that work? Anyway, Torres may not be pregnant, but she’s definitely gotten an STI from Vorik; he has passed the Pon Farr into her. Tuvok surmises that the condition in a half Klingon could be even more extreme than it is in Vulcans. More extreme than thrown soup?! Perish the thought!

Anyway, Tuvok and Chakotay join Paris on the planet, wearing their absurd climbing gear. Neelix is hauled to the surface (what a great use of his character, huh?) and the trio pursue their horny engineer. She is crawling out of her skin, but quite intent on completing the mission to haul an entire ton of ore back to the Voyager by herself. Her search reveals something unexpected, however, as the mineral readings are emanating from a power conduit, just like in “Phage.” The trio catch up with her and explain that she needs medical treatment. To say it’s uncomfortable for three men to be telling a woman that her sexual feelings are a sign of illness and that she needs to do what they tell her is...unfortunate. What the hell is Kes doing? Couldn’t she have come along like she did in “The 37s”? That would have...helped a bit. Anyway, before this turns into “Susannah in Space,” a collection of aliens emerge from behind the rocks holding weapons and train them on the quartet.

Act 3 : ***, 17% 

While Chakotay and the head alien engage in the standard diplomatic exposition, Torres writhes about uncomfortably in the background. I should note that Dawson is actually quite good at this (something to bear in mind when we eventually get to “Bounty”). Yeah, Torres is getting horny and aggressive from a medical condition brought on by a non-consensual (albeit brief) sex act which, yikes, but at least she’s not *performing* her sexuality for the men around her the way, say, Tasha Yar did in “The Naked Now” or Troi did in “Man of the People” or every other woman in the Mirror Universe. So, feminism? Eh.

The plot gods have become bored with this scene and so there’s a minor earth quake, setting off alarms in the cave set. One of the aliens grabs Torres to try and protect her from a collapsing wall. In her state, she responds with her fists leading to the drawing of weapons on both sides. Tuvok is dismayed to discover his phaser won’t fire however. They continue to scuffle and the camera shakes until finally Torres and Paris find themselves isolated and in possession of a gun that does work. They bicker a bit, per their idiom. Torres is still on the train to crazy town, but we do get to spend a little time with their real dynamic. Her aggression has been kicked into overdrive and Tom’s snark has been notched up to match it, but he never crosses the line. He doesn’t let her off the hook for being defensive and hostile, but he’s still respectful. It’s reminiscent in a way of the chemistry between Crusher and Picard. One doesn’t let the other get away with certain behaviours which, for the majority, keep them at an emotional distance.

On the Voyager, the Doctor completes a minor procedure of Vorik and restates his concern over the seeming lack of progress in the masturbatorium.

VORIK: No. I will deal with this myself.
EMH: Ensign, your life is at risk.
VORIK: You don't understand. How well a Vulcan copes with this experience is a test of his character...I know that self-sufficiency is very important to a Vulcan, but there is nothing shameful in getting a little guidance every once in a while.

Aww, look at you dismantling toxic masculinity, “Voyager.” Good for you. Anyway, the Doctor thinks what Vorik needs is a little holo-porn to make his efforts more successful. Seems logical to me. He introduces the young ensign to T’Pera, an holographic Vulcan prostitute in the resort programme.

VORIK: She's a hologram. She isn't real.
EMH: Then I assume you have the same low regard for me.
VORIK: You're a skilled physician, Doctor, but let me point out the limitations to your own experience with physical matters.
EMH: I believe we're discussing your sexual difficulties at the moment, Ensign.

Zerp. There’s actually some substance here, floating above the wit. The Doctor infers that the resolution to the Pon Farr takes place in the mind, despite the overtly physical nature of sex. And that’s as true for humans as it is for Vulcans. “Koon-ut-kal-if-fee” : the whole allegory of the Pon Farr is designed as this overwhelming need for physical release subduing an otherwise ordered and calm (male) mind. But why then is some sort of Vulcan masturbation virtually unheard of? And why don’t Vorik’s exercises seem to be working? Because the need in question isn’t really physical at its core; it’s psychological, it’s emotional, just as it is for us. So the challenge for Vorik is to master his own feelings such that the holo-lady here provides him the emotional connection he needs. It is a wonderful paradox for a Vulcan--extreme mental discipline engendering emotional release. And Picardo describing mental discipline with the intonation of a phone sex operator is the cherry on top.

Speaking of fooling oneself, Torres doesn’t want to buy Tom’s explanation of her condition. The implications of biting him on the face finally seems to break through to her. Tom is white-knighted again as he snidely suggests that Torres can heal herself by bonding with Vorik, intentionally igniting her indignation so as to motivate her to get back to the Voyager and get treatment from the Doctor. The pair continue until they run into some rocks blocking their path. Torres points her gun at it and Paris tries to wrestle it away from her lest she get them killed. This aggression is naturally pant-moistening for the half-Klingon.

PARIS: B'Elanna, stop it! This isn't about the gun. This is about sex. But that's not gonna happen right now.
TORRES: I think it is. See, I have picked up your scent, Tom. I've tasted your blood.
PARIS: No. No. I'm your friend, and I have to watch out for you when your judgement's been impaired. If you let these instincts take over now, you'll hate yourself, and me too for taking advantage of you. I won't do that.

Okay good. I’m actually reminded a little bit of “If Wishes Were Horses,” or rather, something that abysmal episode could have used. Early Bashir and early Paris aren’t terribly dissimilar, especially when it comes to their sexual proclivities. On DS9, Bashir was presented with a version of Dax who was into him, horribly dumbed down, and flighty. The story had the opportunity to explore just why Julian would be so insecure as to have that kind of childish fantasy, to show a little depth in his character. It opted instead to make Bashir and his boner the butt of several jokes. Worse still, the real Dax is made to look petty and insecure in her own right when she *argues* with the fantasy conjuring. We saw in “Twisted” how Torres regards Paris’ own rakish nature (“He’s a pig, and so are you.”). Paris has spent the last year and a half or so (“Faces,” “Investigations,” “Basics”) proving that he has more to offer than piloting skills, sarcasm, and STIs from feather-headed aliens. And we saw in “The Swarm” that, while she may still find Tom a little piggish, B’Elanna has begun to respect him as a person and appreciate his friendship, cautiously. Anyway, Paris is being presented with a “If Wishes Were Horses” version of Torres, except it’s really her. Where Bashir leaned into his fantasy, Paris demonstrates that his relationship with Torres is more important to him than fulfilling his own desires. I don’t want to overstate things here and lionise Tom for not being a rapist. I mean...it’s very good he’s not a rapist, but let’s not give him a medal or anything. What I’m saying is that it’s not just about Tom respecting the fact that Torres is incapable of offering consent in her current condition, something he had better extend to any person, it’s that he understands B’Elanna’s feelings *specifically,* as someone who has bothered to get to know her. “You’ll hate yourself,” he says, alluding to a central feature of her character, not to mention something he can probable empathise with more than might be obvious.

Act 4 : ***, 17% 

The aliens continue to question Tuvok and Chakotay with suspicion. They are especially interested in an artificial implant in Tuvok’s arm and their medical technology generally. Hmmm. The aliens (the Zachary Quintos or whatever) are dismayed that their efforts to remain hidden from outsiders weren’t fully successful. In a diplomatic overture, Chakotay offers to help them better conceal themselves in the future.

ISHAN: My people never even knew who the invaders were or why they attacked. It was all over in less than an hour. Some of the colonists were fortunate enough to escape into the mines. We've lived here ever since, where it's safe. If the invaders ever learned of our existence here, they might return.

Hmmmmm. Anyway, there’s another plot tremor and Paris and Torres find themselves even more desperate than before, having lost their phaser in the cave-in. B’Elanna continues to struggle with her urges, taunting Tom for his obvious desire for her. In her deliberately clumsy efforts to manipulate him into fucking her, she reveals that she has been paying attention. She mocks him for his wayward glances and invitations to dinner, etc. but what goes unstated is the fact that, well, we know exactly how Torres responds to unwelcome advances (just ask Vorik and his broken jaw from the teaser). So the fact that she maintained a friendship with Tom despite being fully aware of his ulterior motivations suggests that on some level she shares them.

PARIS: Oh, believe me, I'd like to, but I know this isn't really you. You've made it clear that you're not interested, and I have to accept that's how you feel, even now.
TORRES: No. No, it isn't. I was, I was just afraid to admit it. You see, I've wanted this for so long....
PARIS: I hope someday you'll say that to me and mean it.

Their brief kiss is earned in a way Trek rarely does. “Lessons,” “Rejoined” and a few other moments come to mind but, despite a lot of kisses over the years, it’s damned uncommon for it to feel right.

Back on the holo-resort, the Doctor checks in on Vorik and finds him seeming back to normal. The EMH is thrilled (as to be expected) with his own success and starts to ponder sharing his discovery with every doctor in the AQ before Vorik’s stern look shuts him down. The Doctor reports to Janeway and assumes he’ll be able to treat Torres in the same way. The captain is pleased enough, but the episode has earned another moment of humour. Mulgrew knows how cast a funny look herself as Janeway eyes the Doctor sceptically.

In the cave, Torres’ condition is worsening. Like Spock, she is starting to forget some of her emotional outbursts connected to the Pon Farr, a bad sign. Chakotay and co. finally dig them out and the group clambers its way to the surface. When they call for a beam-out, the Voyager fails to respond, however.

TUVOK: I am concerned about the rapid progression of her symptoms. You must help her now, Mister Paris. If she does not resolve the Pon farr, she will die.

I am again asking why Kes wasn’t sent along on Chakotay’s team. It would be nice to get a medical opinion and the opinion of another woman rather than this borderline sophomoric shit. ***If*** we assume that Tuvok is right, and the alternatives are consent-free sex or death, I suppose logic dictates that rape is the better option. But that’s a big if, and it unfortunately doubles down on the more toxic elements from TOS. It’s a shame, because up until this point, the script managed to pretty skilfully move us away from that “nut or die” dynamic without breaking continuity with “Amok Time.”

Act 5 : **.5, 17%

PARIS: So this is the part where you throw heavy objects at me?
TORRES: Maybe later.

Being able to laugh at yourself during sex is actually very healthy, folks. This is good. Well, having cemented the fact that these two *do* have good chemistry, Ensign Blue Balls grabs Torres and rips her off of Paris declaring her to be HIS MATE. Okay, I think I’ve seen this movie before...I sense a threesome coming...

Instead, Vorik calls for Tuvok who is hilariously like 8 metres away from where Tom and B’Elanna were about to bone (Vulcan tradition demands that I watch you from the bushes, lieutenant). He declares “Koon-ut-kal-if-fee” which is Vulcan for “Death or Snu Snu.” So, if Vorik is declaring Kal-if-fee, then he is in the T’Pring position from “Amok Time,” right? Except he is the one going through the Pon Farr, which would put him in the Spock position. Since he’s linked with Torres, that makes her the T’Pring. And Paris is Stonn, then? It’s more than a little confusing, but I guess we’re going to go with it. Speaking of go with it, apparently Vorik shut down the communications, the scanner, the transporters AND all of the shuttles before somehow getting himself down here. Lol okay sure.

CHAKOTAY: Just hold on. Neither of you are thinking straight right now.
TUVOK: They are following their instincts, and I suggest we allow them to do so.
CHAKOTAY: You mean let them fight?
TUVOK: It is logical. Both must resolve their Pon farr before it kills them. We cannot wait to hear from Voyager.
PARIS: They'll tear each other to pieces.

Again, I’d really like to hear from a doctor...and yeah, I guess we’re also just glossing over the fact that someone is supposed to (at least appear to) die in order for the kal-if-fee to resolve the blood fever, but again, I guess we’re just supposed to go with it. Anyway, they fight and I suppose it’s vaguely and superficially feminist that Vorik doesn’t hold back in trying to beat Torres to death (including pummelling her with a branch) and she gives it right back. He passes out, which I guess we can say appears enough like death to resolve the Pon Farr in both of them. Yeah...this is not series’ finest hour.

Anyway, we the plot is also resolved back on the Voyager where Tom and B’Elanna share an awkward turbolift ride together.

TORRES: Look, Tom, I really appreciate what you did, what you were willing to do for me. But as far as I'm concerned, I was under the influence of some weird Vulcan chemical imbalance, and, and whatever I did, whatever I said, it wasn't me.
PARIS: Yeah, I know. You're afraid that your big, scary Klingon side might have been showing. Well, I saw it up close, and you know, it wasn't so terrible. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing it again someday. Computer, resume.
TORRES: Careful what you wish for, Lieutenant.

Cute. And promising.

In the final seconds, Chakotay and Janeway reveal a corpse of one of the mysterious invaders on the surface; a Borg drone. Since I was lucky enough to have purged those awful UPN trailers from my memory, I have to say this was a pretty effective teaser to end the episode.

Episode as Functionary : ***.5, 10%

Functionally, this story is nearly perfect. The character work with Torres and Paris was pretty excellent throughout and felt completely organic to the series, supplemented by a believable chemistry between Dawson and MacNeil. The mystery with the invaders intersecting the Voyager’s continued progress through the DQ helps us feel like we’re getting somewhere in the overarching plot of the series. Vorik’s continued presence helps the ship feel more lived-in and like there’s a larger community outside our main cast. And, with the exception of the final fight, the way the story borrows and subverts the lore from “Amok Time” is smart and entertaining. Throw in some predictably strong and humorous characterisation from Picardo and Russ and you’ve got a really good episode overall.

The weakness really is to do primarily with the fact that, apparently in search of a more “exciting” conclusion, the story accidentally doubles down on that 1960s toxicity it had otherwise skilfully subverted, coupled with a less-than-convincing performance from Enberg, and another bland Chattaway score.

The fact that the EMH’s masturbation therapy failed is not something to dismiss. As I said, what works about the “Amok Time” subversion is the fact that the core of the Pon Farr is emotional and psychological. In retrospect, what we learn about Vulcans is that the hyper-Darwinistic conceit about the drive to mate breaking their discipline is more of a cover-up for a deeper need within the Vulcan soul for companionship and connection. The fact that this is a biological function in the males dovetails nicely with the episode’s delicate efforts to dismantle toxic masculinity. This is much more effective and coherent than the clumsy sexism of the Kazon.

Final Score : ***
Jaxon
Thu, Jan 7, 2021, 12:59am (UTC -5)
If pon farr is a genitalia-centered, mating-fueled hormonal problem, it's strange that ritual combat can eliminate it in a pinch.

It's like saying menstruation can be prevented with a vigorous jog in the park.

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