Star Trek: Voyager


2.5 stars

Air date: 11/20/1996
Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I won't stop until you're broken and helpless. There's nowhere you can go to get away from me. I'll be relentless and merciless just like you." - Kes to Tieran, battling for her mind

Nutshell: A corny, pedestrian plot, but Jennifer Lien makes it entertaining enough to chew through an hour—and has energy to spare.

First things first—I have to get something off my chest that's somewhat off the topic. I need to say that I'm quite tired of Voyager's advertising campaign. It's smug, self-important, hokey, and it never does justice to any episode it advertises. Week after week we're fed lines like "Voyager is better than ever!" and "You won't believe what happens!", and every fourth show seems to come advertised as a "special" episode. Enough already. Can't the promo producers be a little more low-profile and just tell us what the episode is about—like, say, the way the DS9 previews function?

The trailer for "Warlord" made it look like the epitome of silliness and triviality. And while this admittedly isn't the deepest episode to hit the screen this year, it's certainly not bad. In fact, there are some virtues here that prove quite entertaining.

Among these virtues is not the plot. The premise is pretty tired and dull—yet another alien who takes control of the mind and body of a Star Trek character. It happened on DS9's "The Assignment" just a mere three weeks earlier, and was done there with much better dramatic effect. On the other hand, "Warlord's" take on body snatcher milieu is another Voyager example of silly, fast-paced fun—and displays more energy than "The Assignment" could muster even with its textured Colm Meaney performance.

In "Warlord," the Voyager beams injured Ilari survivors off a damaged ship. One of the Ilari dies, but before he does, he transfers his mind (using a mysterious, concealed device) into Kes' mind and then steals her body, claiming it as his own. After escaping Voyager with the assistance of his faction of followers, he begins harnessing Kes' undeveloped mental abilities to his advantage, sometimes to manipulate his own followers (like any villain would). As it turns out, this man is a tyrant named Tieran, and he's been transferring his mind from host to host for centuries. Now he wants to reclaim an ancient Ilari throne and rule the world forever! (Pardon the tongue-in-cheek factor.)

Who cares about the plot? I sure don't. The internal politics of this world have about as much ultimate relevance to the series as what I ate for breakfast yesterday, and are about as interesting. The scenes between Janeway and the Ilari official on the Voyager who wants to see Tieran stopped are the same old standard negotiate-and-plan scenes that I'd expect in any random episode.

What makes this show worth watching is its hyperkinetic pacing and attitude. This is without a doubt the biggest show Jennifer Lien has had to carry to date, and by far Lien's most interesting performance. I'd say the best way to describe this performance is "Jennifer Lien in crazy mode." Her performance is gleefully over-the-top and stylized at times, but it's gutsy, engaging, and so full of energy unlike anything she's ever done on the show. What can I say? I liked it—a lot.

One thing Lien really has going for her is that wonderful, throaty voice—I just loved that voice in this episode, because she commands it so well. Another thing I enjoyed was Lien's use of expressive body language. She darts around the room, throwing herself into the role with such exuberance and energy that at times I was able to overlook the hokiness of the plot.

For forty minutes, Lien is Tieran. And Tieran is seductive, manipulative, power-hungry, and ruthless. What the writers have Tieran do is hardly important compared to how Lien conveys Tieran's actions. Did I care whether the evil Tieran would keep his throne? Not really. Did I enjoy watching Lien attempt to seduce two people in two minutes, and threaten to kill five others in five? You bet.

This type of show sometimes demands looking at the superficial qualities while ignoring what little lies beneath. Actually, in all fairness, there are a few, isolated subsurface elements here. The idea of a mental battle of wills proves to be the show's most effective story point. You see, Tieran may have control of Kes, but somewhere in the back of her brain, Kes is fighting back—fighting to regain her stolen mind. Tieran scoffs at her and dismisses her—in a dream he tells her that no little girl is going to beat his superior strength. The point here, however, is that this is a fight that isn't won by brute strength or weapons—it's won by the superior will. And Kes, despite her quiet, fragile outer appearance, has the determined strength to see that this villain does not escape.

The scenes between Tieran/Kes and Tuvok also work pretty well. Tieran attempts to use Kes' mental connections along with some seductive intentions against Tuvok, but Tieran fails. Here is revealed a man who thinks he is bigger than he truly is. He's not up to the challenge of superior intellects.

Other than the mental battles and the impressive Lien performance, there's not much else to scrutinize here. I really could've done without the hopelessly-dumb-and-transparent-as-usual Neelix holodeck scenes. If there's a more pointless teaser in the history of Voyager than the one that opens "Warlord," then I've missed it (and I'm positive that hasn't happened). And as far as the scene where Neelix and Kes "break up" goes, it hardly matters. I doubt it "really" happened; the writers never make it clear, but it seems to simply be a side effect of the Tieran-takeover plot. That's too bad; I for one am sick of Kes and Neelix fawning over each other. It's trite, it's annoying, it goes nowhere. At least separating them for a while could've had story possibilities.

Fortunately, such annoying sequences are few and far between, and as compensation the episode supplies a reasonable amount of thin but entertaining moments, mostly fueled by Lien's respectable energy.

Previous episode: Future's End, Part II
Next episode: The Q and the Grey

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68 comments on this post

Tue, Oct 30, 2007, 8:22pm (UTC -6)
Jennifer Lien = HOT in this episode. I can't believe that they kicked Kes to the curb for Seven of Nine as Voyager's token sex symbol. Sadly, Neelix doesn't kill himself after getting dumped in this episode, thus forcing us to endure him for the rest of the series.
Fri, Dec 21, 2007, 5:15pm (UTC -6)
Great moment in this episode seeing Neelix heart get broken
David Forrest
Sun, Mar 16, 2008, 12:01am (UTC -6)
After watching this episode I was going to hope the writers were going to make Kes a little more fun as you described in your review. She would have been great to have around with Seven of Nine. They could have played off each other really well. I still enjoyed the character of Kes, and you are right in the regard that Lien carried this episode wonderfully.
David Forrest
Sun, Mar 16, 2008, 12:05am (UTC -6)
For what it's worth (and not to be a total nitpick!) the teleplay credits are:
Teleplay By
Lisa Klink
Story By
Andrew Shepard Price & Mark Gaberman
Dirk Hartmann
Wed, Apr 9, 2008, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
This is undoubtedly the best performance we got from Jennifer Lien on Voyager. It's a bid strange to find that this was only possible within a setting that allowed her to act out of character. In the end, this goes a long way in proving that the character "Kes" was simply too weak to retain - even as good an actress as Lien was not able make the role worthwile. So, in the end, I guess it was inevitable that Kes had to go.
Wed, Oct 22, 2008, 9:52am (UTC -6)
As a Kes fan I have to disagree with Dirk. Perhaps her character didn't show as much potential as Seven, but neither did Harry (Mr. Boring) or Chakotay (unless you want more 'Chakotay travels the woods with his father' plots). Not to mention the worst character by far: Neelix, who remained almost unwatchable from season 1 to 7.

I think keeping Kes would have allowed for some amazing Seven/Kes plots; the two actresses might have been quite interesting together, and it would have enabled the show to stay more ensemble and less Janeway/Seven/Doctor.

I think season 3 was really setting Kes up. I think she had improved dramatically as an actress since season 1 (Warlord would frankly have been a disaster in season 1), she had dumped Neelix, her psychic abilities had improved....there were a lot of directions the show could have taken her.

Incidentally, it's interesting that they basically kept Kes' dumping of Neelix, even though she dumped him under the influence of Tieran. It's almost like the writers wanted us to forget (or new viewers to not know) that Kes and Neelix had ever been involved, probably because they were planning on giving her a lot more screen time and episodes.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 11:23pm (UTC -6)
This episode was as lame as TNG's Power Play. Same exact plot, same flimsy excuse for the people to act out of character. Can't the writers come up with *legitimate* reasons for characters to come into conflict with each other?
Sun, May 24, 2009, 5:55pm (UTC -6)
I liked this episode, but after the first part it was pretty hard to concentrate because I made the mistake of watching a repeat with a guy who has a massive crush on Roxann Dawson. Needless to say, he wanted to see more of the first part and kept asking if she would be in a swimsuit again.

Some people...
Wed, Apr 21, 2010, 8:34am (UTC -6)
Every time I see this episode I am amazed by Lien's performance (except in the dream scene, where she's supposed to be Kes but sounds more like Kes). That moment early in the episode where Kes takes out her phaser and begins shooting everyone really gets your heart beating. I wasn't reminded of "Power Play" or "The Assignment" when watching this. The only other episode that comes to mind is "The Passenger" which, let's face it, was trash compared to this.
Tue, May 25, 2010, 1:43pm (UTC -6)
By far, the best Kes episode in the series (sadly, that's not saying much)...

It's such a shame that the writers couldn't flesh out Kes more than they did. Jennifer Lien did a great job with the role, and I would have enjoyed seeing more of her.
Sat, May 29, 2010, 12:26pm (UTC -6)
Sorry I meant "she's supposed to be Kes but sounds more like Tieran". I should reread myself before posting.
Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 3:05am (UTC -6)
I hadn't really been on board with the Neelix hate so far but the start of this episode, with him making baby sounds while getting his stupid rubber feet rubbed? Yeah, okay, count me in.
Fri, Dec 9, 2011, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
I have to admit...this episode made me fall in love with Jennifer Lien...she was amazing and sexy...and that other then her the rest of it was kind of blah, especially the Neelix parts. I don't hate Neelix like most seem to but the beginning of the episode really bothered me...all that cooing...ugh...
Tue, Mar 20, 2012, 10:10pm (UTC -6)
I'll agree that Lien's performance turns the episode into a net positive—while reminding me of mirror universe's Kira Neris.

Did anyone notice the inconsistency that occurred when Starfleet 'exorcised' Tieran from his new host at the very end? The very idea of using a technological device to draw out his psychic presence was predicted on micro-dermic implants that facilitate transfer to a new host. If you remember, Kes was given these as soon as 'she' attained the throne, and there's no way the new host could have had them in time for the good guys to zap the evil spirit out of him.
Sun, Mar 25, 2012, 11:58pm (UTC -6)
Jammer's so right about the ridiculous, overwrought, and too often misleading Voyager previews on UPN. One particular egregious example comes to mind, but I'll save that for the episode in question when I come to it.

Suffice to say this episode was one of the better possession episodes mainly due to Lien's performance. Too bad Kes was never properly developed.
Sat, May 18, 2013, 3:17pm (UTC -6)
This episode appears to have been filmed at a higher frame rate. The onacreen motion is both smoother and quicker, which may be why it seems more energetic.
Thu, Feb 6, 2014, 1:18am (UTC -6)
I love this episode. It was fun, fast-paced, and a good use of the body-stealing trope. Kes was never more interesting and Jennifer Lien never gave a better performance. I wish she had stayed Tieran! Kes was usually so bland, but slinking around in that black outfit trying to draw everyone into the dark side (I know, wrong series)...for once, she was downright sexy. Even if she was possessed.

Sorry guys, I still don't hate Neelix. xD He's not that bad as a character, he just suffers the most at the hands of the writers--next to Kim who is thinner than a sheet of paper, and Chakotay who has nothing to do.
Dave in MN
Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 12:16pm (UTC -6)
Liked the episode, but why does Star Trek always hire such bad actors for guest roles? The guy who played the insurgent that Tieran/Kes attacked with mental powers was terrible!

BTW, that may have been the first time I can recall a threesome being mentioned so blatantly in dialog, so bonus points for that.
Fri, Mar 21, 2014, 1:31pm (UTC -6)
I think it was a mistake to ever have had Neelix and Kes to be a couple in the first place. Kes generally is so sedate that it seems out of place for a species that lives only seven years. You don't have much time, so you had better be quick about it. Her performance is good, and she certainly looks good in that tight black suit. That doesn't mean that I would want her to portray Kes like that all the time, even though I think she could have been a little more intense, like she's in more of a hurry.

It was a shame that Kes left, I think she should have dies. Don't get me wrong! I'm not anti-Kes. But her natural lifespan was such that she would have died before the end of the series. That's her story. If she would have stayed, we would have had the opportunity to see a character's entire life story. Her death wouldn't have been any more terrible than any other person dying at the end of their natural lifespan.

Of course, when the introduced the second Caretaker, and gave those Ocampa expanded lifespans, it seems they were backing away from the lifespan the had been set out at the beginning. As it was, she was off the show too soon.
Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 2:18am (UTC -6)
It is not that I dislike Voyager so far (this is the first time I watch it). Sure the show had its flaws and the usual lack of continuity sometimes sucks. But the show also had its strong moments here and there, very good overall argument and premise, promising characters such as the Doc and Chakotay, a fairly decent acting regarding the capitain, among other things.

However, I can't handle anymore transport problems to beam up or down, or how easy people, aliens and intruders escape any security measure in Voyager, gets any shuttlecrafts, disable tractor beams, and so on. Nothing never Works! I don't know who should be responsible, but certainly there are a few officers that deserve to be released from duty when the ship gets back to the Alpha Quadrant...

That said, this episode was not totally bad. One or two interesting political issues, good acting. The bissexual nature bt Tieran at some point is suprising. And Lien seated at the main chair, screaming alone "stronger than ever" really reminded me of Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones, hehe. Overall, sure the episode lacked a bit of depth for an episode dealing with the questions it touched, but ok.
Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
It reminded me of the Mirror Universe episodes in DS9 and to some extent, Enterprise. I think Warlord paled in comparison though. Not a bad Kes episode, but that's not saying much. meh
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 1:16am (UTC -6)
Certainly their were some great Kes moments here. However, their were some hokey ones as well. It all becomes a mixed bag performance-wise. The plot itself was average and nothing to write home about.

One of the highlights of the episode was Kes telling Neelix that they should spend some time apart. The look on his face said a thousand words and I definitely felt bad for the poor guy.

And, no, I do not subscribe to the I Hate Neelix Bandwagon Fan Club. He obviously cares a great deal for Kes and he genuinely is a good person that cares also for the crew. He does nothing short of trying to help wherever he can. Of course he has annoying moments and it's pretty shitty the writers didn't do more with his character than they had. But being annoying a bit here and there doesn't make someone a bad person. And really that's all it is. Just moments. Removing the "Neelix-hate" filter while watching will reveal a good character with relevant dialogue, humorous moments, and some endearing qualities. And, yes, he CAN be annoying.

I guess I get tired of reading through fifteen Neelix-bashing comments on every episode. I could avoid them, yes, but I like finding posts that have something relevant to say. That's what makes forums such as this so great at times.

Digression aside, it was an entertaining enough hour I suppose, but I couldn't help but feel a sense of boredom the whole time despite Lien's energetic performance.

2 stars.
Sat, Feb 7, 2015, 9:45pm (UTC -6)
Heh, I think I liked this episode more than I should. Maybe it's just because the episode never presented itself as more than a lighthearted fluff episode. And for a lighthearted, fluff episode, it was very well executed. Some random comments:

- The scene inside Kes/Tieran's head was great. There was one nice subtle thing: at first, inside the mind, Tieran was sitting in his council room. Meanwhile, when the camera switched to Kes, she was on board Voyager. As she became more and more assertive, the scene behind Tieran changed into Voyager as well, indicating that Kes was winning the battle of the brain. Like I said, it was subtle, but effective.

- One thing that helped (probably accidentally) is that much of the cliched writing that one would expect actualy made sense here. For example, Tieran calling Kes a "little girl." Normally, it's something to indicate the evil bad guy is dismissive of the heroine, as we the viewers don't see the heroine as little or young or whatever. Yet, of course, Kes is 3 years old and Tieran is 300. Also, he refuses to switch bodies, even though logically one would think he would want to change (especially after the headaches start). Stupid arrogance on the part of the villain just to move the plot along? Maybe. But then again, now he can kill people with his brain. That seems to be quite a useful tool while starting an uprising, after all. So maybe it makes sense for him to keep Kes' body a little while longer.

- There's also the little cliche of turning the attractive heroine into a seductress as soon as she turns evil (see Mirror Kira as an example). Yet, again, I think this does make some sense. I get the feeling that Tieran had never transferred his brain to a woman before. Assuming similar gender differences to humans (don't blame me; Trek is lazy about this), Tieran is clearly a testosterone-filled alpha male, and undoubtedly knows the effect that female sexuality has on him. So with Kes' body, he expects he can use that power on others. The fact that he tries to be seductive towards his wife (which clearly creeps her out) and Tuvok (who he should know it won't work on) is just due to his arrogance and misunderstanding. But again, a cliche kinda works in this situation.

- It also helps that Tieran isn't COMPLETELY a two-dimensional creature. The prince acknowledged that his skills as a warlord were quite useful way back when, and he probably would have been remembered as a hero if he had simply gone away peacefully. Also, after gaining control, he starts talking about public works projects. Sure, it was basically for propaganda purposes, but it's different from the typical evil overlord. One expects that Tieran does want to be a loved ruler, and wants what is best for his people as well. It just so happens that he is too arrogant to realize that they don't necessarily want him too.

Like I said, everything about this episode was well-crafted. Can't argue with that.
Wed, Aug 12, 2015, 6:28pm (UTC -6)
Jennifer's energy, yes Jammer, that's it.

But while I appreciate that energy, I thought she hammed it up to much at the end of the episode.

I just kept thinking during the episode... 'What a voice Jennifer has".

Was Kes possessed when she dumped Neelix? If so, do they address this in a later episode?

I can't rememeber.

I'll go 2.5 stars for Jen's energy.
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 7:49am (UTC -6)
"Was Kes possessed when she dumped Neelix?" Yes.

"If so, do they address this in a later episode?"


I'm better now.
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 11:30am (UTC -6)

lol ... we pretty much all universally didn't like the "Kes/Neelix" thing... then the writers finally give us what we want and the botch it.

Jason R.
Mon, Nov 9, 2015, 8:20pm (UTC -6)
I found Lien positively hokey in this one. As noted by others, the only real high point was Kes finally doing away with Neelix. Of all the awkward, painful, creepy romances, those two being an item has to take the cake. No, scratch that - awkward and creepy is what it would have been if I ever actually bought it in the first place. If the writers had ever really sold that concept to us, that would have been interesting. Creepy and wrong, but interesting. Fortunately for us, I don't think the writers believed it any more than we did.
Fri, Nov 27, 2015, 12:27am (UTC -6)
Skeptical I agree about him not wanting to switch bodies. It sure was causing him headaches trying to fight Kes off but the reward was like you said the ability to kill people with his mind. For some reason I was reminded of that 1984 movie Firestarter with a very young Drew Barrymore. More specifically her old man who had the ability to influence others too, only for him to deal with heaps of nosebleeds afterwards.

As far as the Kes/Neelix relationship, I felt Neelix became a good deal more annoying to watch after Kes' departure, to be honest. I'm not sure if he was meant to be comic relief or what but even so I'd say the Doctor already had a lock on that. The drama bit I'd say B'elanna already took first place with that. Maybe Paris too. Nothing against Ethan Phillips directly, I just thought Neelix was not one of his better roles.

Speaking of locks I was just about to give can't-get-a-lock kim the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of the ep...till a few moments later when he defaulted. Oops-yer-gone cuz I couldn't get a lock.

I liked seeing this side of Jennifer Lien. She could certainly act it up when she wanted to. Kinda wished Roxann had done that more often too (she looked dern good in that blue bikini btw :)). The only time we got to see that side of her was when she was literally split into her Klingon/human halves.

Anyways Kes still showed more acting range than chuckles and kim. Even if you were nonplussed by her hamming it up I can't say I was bored watching the ep. The old mind swap concept is hardly new, but then again neither is time travel. Variations on a theme is the closest thing to originality we'll ever get, especially nowadays.

So I can't say I've seen it done quite this way before. And to that end it held my attention.

Who says resistance is futile? (Well, aside from the Borg, whom Voyager all but neutered by the end of the show's run) Kes was fighting back against Tieran throughout his possession of her. She continuously showed deeper conviction than the writers ever gave her. It never once came off as inauthentic. I know some reviewers here would say otherwise but I must admit I was thoroughly impressed. Can you imagine what she would have been like in S4's 'Witness'? This ep gave us a minor taste of an "Evil Kes" if you will.

Oh, and don't get me started on what that ep would have done if Seska stayed a part of the crew. Damn, wish I could go back in time to rewrite history myself to have the best of all worlds just to see them in action in that ep. Yep, I'd keep Jeri Ryan. How could you not? But I would also have kept Ms Lien and most def Ms. Hackett as well. I agree the ep was easily 4 stars as it stands. Just saying with the other two ladies in it the ep probably would have been THE episode of the series!

Back to this ep. Creeped out by her affair w/ Neelix? Didn't give it a thought to be honest. Everybody needs somebody, why discriminate based on age? They are both adults and like Kes said in Darkling she can spend her time with whomever she chooses. As long as they are happy together (and not faking the chemistry just to secure a paycheck and ratings) I don't really mind. Nasty way to breakup, tho.

Her advances toward Tieran's wife was something different. I get he possessed her. But something about that scene and seeing her slink around in black Tres kinky.

Still, since Jennifer rarely got to extend her acting chops I didn't mind the leather prancing just to see if she could hold her own. I'm guessing the writers didn't mind, either.

She couldn't go back to the way things were, even before her departure. That's why I rate it ever so slightly higher. It would have forced the writers to show a maturing young lady. In that sense it raises it slightly above the standard alien of the week fare.

2.5 to a low 3 is what I'd rate it.
Fri, Dec 25, 2015, 4:03am (UTC -6)
@Alex. Sorry I don't see the inconsistency. The original Tieran (at least the one that's beamed to Voyager at the start) using the transfer thingy in his arm to move to Kes when he died in sickbay. Then Kes presumably got fitted with the same thing after he escape from Voyager and take over of the Ilari government, which she used when Voyager stormed the throne room to move to Demmas' brother just before they could use the Doctor's dodad on her. However, as Tieran moved to the brother so quick, he didn't have time to have the arm thingy installed, so had no way to escape when the dodad was used again. Made sense to me anyway.

Shoutout for Ensign Martin, the goldshirt who got phasered by Kes, for having an awesome name! ;) Strange they shot him when he went for a phaser, but only knocked Janeway out while she was physically attacking them! Character shields up!

I liked the part with Kes and Tieran fighting over Kes's mind, Kes's background being Voyager and Tieran's being the throne room. Then as Kes wins the argument, the throne room behind Tieran changes to Kes's Voyager. Nice subtle hint as to who was winning the battle.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Jan 27, 2016, 9:38am (UTC -6)
Liked this a lot. It has no pretensions to be anything other than a straight re-tread of a fairly tired science fiction standby, and carries it off with a verve and energy that offers more than might be expected.

As noted, Lien's superb performance is what really keeps it afloat, and if it some points there's a bit of scenery chewing going on that can be forgiven. Leather Kes is certainly one of the more memorable things in the series so far. 3 stars.
Sun, May 22, 2016, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
Kes finally gets to act. She carried the whole show. Kudo to her. One observation though: Tuvok masquerading as a guard seemed hokey and out of character.
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 9:00pm (UTC -6)
When Keiko got body snatched I fast forwarded to the victory sequence. Dud the same thing here. The inherent problem with these shows is that the villain gets 3 5 minutes to huff and puff and gloat about it then we get 30seconds of come uppence footage. I can't sit through the bluster for long. All that evil warrants a big payoff where the villain and their accomplices suffer for a while.
George Monet
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 2:50am (UTC -6)
Any episode that features Kes finally breaking up with her perverted uncle Neelix gets full marks from me. That horrible relationship has always been a blemish on Voyager.
Mon, Sep 26, 2016, 3:26am (UTC -6)
yup. I noticed. was complete kakamany (or however it is spelled). completely bogus writing. they fudged up the whole synaptic simulator thing by their own description and directions.

Alex is right, you're wrong. I even rewound my DVR to double check myself. the doctor said the "doodad" would work based on the implant's tech to force the warlord out. it was discussed that KES would have the transfer implant most likely and that they would use it against her. they were counting on her having a transfer implant. only way the "doodad" (synaptic simulator) works on the dude at the end is if he had an implant setup as a pre-plan that the warlord would escape to him which was never mentioned.

as it was never mentioned, counts as a huge plot hole in my book for a series that tech is a huge part of.
nothingoriginal 55
Sun, Oct 23, 2016, 5:13pm (UTC -6)
I could have done without Neelix's big dancing number in the beginning. Bleh.
Dan W
Thu, Nov 24, 2016, 1:55pm (UTC -6)
Ugh it's episodes like this that make me wish they kept Kes. They should have gotten rid of Kim, he was the most boring character next to Chakotay! He was pnly saved because he made the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World” list. And I think Seven and Kes could have had some great episodes together.
Paul Allen
Fri, Dec 23, 2016, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
Neelix is such an annoying character in terms of his relationship with Kes. Plays the overbearing controlling boyfriend far too well.
Tue, May 9, 2017, 10:06am (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone

I wasn't looking forward to seeing this one again, but figured I'd watch the performances and see how they were. Mostly, I liked them.

The one bad guy, that Tieran/Kes made bleed early on and who became higher-ranking, was the same actor who played the Klingon lawyer trying to take Worf down in Rules of Engagement. Ron Canada. I thought he was much better on DS9. Perhaps he was more familiar with how a Klingon might act, but was a bit lost with this new race and just sort of plowed through it as best he could.

Yep, I liked Jennifer in this one. Yes, I did notice the leather outfit that looks so much better than the potato sack she normally wears. It really suited her. I wonder if that helped her get into character, because I thought she was right on, playing the somewhat insane former Leader with flair.

Another thought on the Kes head battle between the two. The picture on the wall showed us the best vision of Tieran. I figure in Kes's head, he'd look very good, a General, styled, a perfect picture of health in his minds eye (Kes looked her normal, potato-sack good). But Tieran looked haggard, like he just stepped off the battlefield and had a heavy weight on his back. That look, along with the changing scene behind him, really worked to show how hard he was having to work to keep it together.

In conclusion, not a big thumbs up, but a small one. I wouldn't cringe if I had to watch it again, but I probably wouldn't look it up on purpose.

Have a great day Everyone... RT
Wed, Jul 12, 2017, 4:06pm (UTC -6)
Jennifer Lien is fantastic and truly makes this episode - one of the best performances in the whole of Star Trek, a dynamic, sexual, theatrical portrayal like no other.
Fri, Jul 21, 2017, 7:02pm (UTC -6)
2 stars

This was pretty tedious --another third season 3 episode. This is the worst Voy season and very well maybe the worst season of Star Trek period
Thu, Aug 17, 2017, 3:38am (UTC -6)
Sorry I really didn't like this episode. How many clichés? The slowly deteriorating of the mental condition of the villain, the usual freakout by Neelix who seems obsessively (and annoyingly) concerned about Kes and nothing else, Tuvok who gets captured so easily, the 200 year-old tough, witty survivor who turns stupid in the last 15 minutes... enough already.

And Janeway's line "Consider yourself drafted".. Barf! When it's so obvious that the emotionally obsessive Neelix with little-to-no training is allowed to join the rescue effort, when his behavior screams "I would jeopardize the mission in a heartbeat because I am so possessive and obsessive about Kes that I can't think straight".. This is precisely the type of person you don't allow on a dangerous rescue mission but Janeway does it after a few ridiculous pleading sentences by Neelix..

Lien does carry the episode for about 25 minutes (although for those who enjoy rewatching specific sequences, her hug of Nori at the beginning is a terrible moment of acting).

And finally, the "weak" brother who would be puppeted back and forth as easy as my hair in the wind.. Come on..

If it weren't for Lien's acting as the villain (which is a lot more watchable than her regualr character, and that is not saying much) this episode would be 0 stars for me..
William B
Fri, Sep 29, 2017, 2:09pm (UTC -6)
I wrote a comment but I must have accidentally closed the tab.

Anyway, the short version is, I like it pretty well. It's goofy, especially Tieran's attempted seductions (especially in such rapid-fire order), and the plot is nondescript. But Lien is *fun*, and goes all out and risks looking ridiculous, and manages to carry off a fun, self-aware, manic performance. The interesting character beats come down to the way Tieran makes use of Kes' powers, and the ease with which he does so suggests that this could be what Kes does if she wants to. Kes' eventually coming forth in Tieran's mind to say that she will become as ruthless as him points to the big conflict: will Kes eventually become tempted to use her power to dominate, as Tieran does? Is it necessary to become Tieran in order to defeat him, and to take back her body? The contrast between ancient Tieran and Kes-of-the-nine-year-lifespan reminds us how desperately people are to cling to their *long* lives and how little time Kes has to get what she wants out of life, and how much of Kes' time *now* is devoted to being the helper/nurse/good girlfriend who puts others ahead of herself. Tieran's sex-and-murder spree is a signal to Kes that she doesn't *have* to just be the quiet person she is now, but she also genuinely doesn't want to become like him. I think the episode would have been stronger if they played up the angle of Tieran and Kes' identities bleeding into each other even more than they did, and additionally I think the ending is pretty pat -- after Kes' exclamation that she will become as ruthless as him until she drives him out, the ending is basically just that Paris' away team penetrates their defenses and boom, over. I think the idea is that Tieran was too distracted by Kes tormenting him to properly prepare; my wife pointed out that there's a Macbeth flavour to Tieran's gradual disintegration -- with Kes, inside his head, playing a role somewhat like the ghost of Banquo, and maybe along similar lines we can probably read the disintegration of Tiernan's outside as mirroring the disintegration inside his mind; Tieran ignores reports from his advisers because he needs to CELEBRATE HIS VICTORY which he needs to do because Kes is driving him mad. Still, the rescue (as with any of the plotting involving Voyager vs. Tieran, really) comes off as a letdown, only mildly compensated by Kes destroying Tieran by identifying him having jumped into another body.

It is funny that Tieran apparently couldn't bear to be around Neelix for even one more day, and risked exposure to dump him. It is even funnier that (SPOILER?) apparently Kes just...let the breakup stand? Or something?

I'm almost tempted to go for 3 stars because this *is* really entertaining and there's some implied good material for Kes, but I'll probably stay at a high 2.5.
Sat, Oct 28, 2017, 2:28am (UTC -6)
As far as other people saying that the dream sequence where Kes and Tieran fight, that they are in the throneroom at the beginning and that it switches to Voyager to indicate that Kes is winning the psychic battle; that isn't true at all. In the whole sequence, Kes' side shows a bed and things, her room on Voyager, and Tieran's side shows the throneroom. It never switches from solely one to solely the other. It always shows both. It would have been good if they actually did what the other posters thought, because that would have been good direction, but unfortunately it's all in your imagination. I watched it three times to make sure. :)

And there is a massive plothole in this episode, namely the transporter.

They could have, and would have, beamed Kes back to Voyager immediately. They knew where she was, and they could have just done that, and figured out how to fix her and then stuck the synaptic stimulator in her neck and show over. But, you know, plot.

Tuvok beams down with the synaptic stimulator and gets into what must be the highest security place on the planet, somehow, by pretending to be a waiter with a curtain over his face. Whatever.

And then Tuvok is in trouble. They could have beamed him and Kes out then, but no they didn't. Why? Because plot. Tuvok had beamed down with the synaptic stimulator. It takes physical contact to use it. Tuvok is within a few inches of Kes for a long time, so why not stick it on her?

I think Kes is the best character on the show. And she is a powerful being to boot. But they never really explored that in any detail, and that's a shame.

2 stars. Mostly for Kes.
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 5:18am (UTC -6)
Skimbles you need to watch again. They absolutely put Tieran in Kes’ quarters. I can’t remember if Kes is ever in his throne room but he is absolutely in her quarters at one point.

Also Tuvok didn’t beam into the throne room! They were discussing a nearby place to launch an assault from - so obviously the palace was shielded. It was a big deal for Tieran to use Kes’ power to sense Tuvok, but any idiot would have seen him just materialise! That’s why they didn’t beam him out. They discussed the shield and Tieran even spoke to them about it and its weakness.

The necessity of the implants for the device to work is a genuine plot hole but one I didn’t notice when watching. It makes sense that it just forces Tieran out and that if he’s able he’ll use his implants to force himself into someone else. As it works fine without the line about the implants I wonder why they included it. It would have made more sense to wonder things like: might he have left her body already? If so, will she still be alive?
Ferengi wormholer
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 8:49am (UTC -6)
It is funny that Tieran apparently couldn't bear to be around Neelix for even one more day, and risked exposure to dump him. It is even funnier that (SPOILER?) apparently Kes just...let the breakup stand? Or something?
Cesar Gonzalez
Sun, Apr 8, 2018, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
Kes was such a great character. Imagine the scenes we could have had with Seven and Kes.
Instead we keep Neelix, the Jar Jar of Star Trek. What a waste.
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 8:52pm (UTC -6)
Lien's acting is about the only thing going for this episode. She knocks it out of the park for me. Too bad it's mired in shit nobody cares about -- the conflict on this Ilari world, a body-snatcher warlord, and far too much Neelix.

Speaking of Neelix -- this episode must have the most irrelevant teaser in all Trek. It's not even about Kes -- just Neelix and his stupid holodeck program.

But how does Lien get such a range in her voice? Being so small, she can have a deep sultry voice, but it's also effective when she's screaming in rage. Too bad she's normally so docile -- just goes to show what more the writers could have done with her character.

Really enjoyed her scenes trying to seduce Tuvok and the younger brother who she says should be in charge. But also liked it when she'd lash out at her minions. And the large black dude -- he was hard to take seriously as one of the rebels. The whole premise of the uprising comes across as arbitrary. It's really a rescue Kes / body-snatcher episode with a lot of crap filler material.

I guess I wonder why Tieran didn't transfer to another person given all the problems Kes was causing, but he says he keeps fighting against whatever odds and I guess he liked the newfound mental powers. Even the scene with Kes in the mind of Tieran were kind of silly -- why in a bedroom and not some dark, dungeon-like place?

Janeway wants to avoid a PD violation here, trying to be discrete in rescuing Kes. The break-in to the stronghold is standard action fare, nothing special although I was surprised Neelix was able to phaser Kes/Tieran so easily. And so did the device get rid of Tieran's consciousness altogether after it left Kes and the younger brother? Not sure. And I didn't get the ending with Tuvok helping Kes get over the tribulation -- is he saying Kes is a new person now?

Barely 2.5 stars for "Warlord" -- a rare episode for Lien to flex her acting muscles, albeit its not the Kes character really. Too bad she'd leave VOY early instead of Neelix, although getting 7 of 9 was better for the series. I think this episode really needed a B-plot as the premise of Kes's body possession was garbage. Loads of just arbitrary stuff here.
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 2:44pm (UTC -6)
Really did like this ep. Jennifer Lien gave a great performance. Do any of you know how she found out she was FIRED? On the net years ago at that time ---- the show went on hiatus and The Gift had not been shown [yet]. The people, whoever they were, maybe writers, were at a convention of sorts and told the audience that Voyager would be back [after the hiatus] with a lot of new stuff ---- and that Jennifer Lien was out. She was shocked that they did this to her in the way that they did. Maybe somewhere on the internet a person might be able to find all that info and catch up.

I thought it was really dirty of them. And I try to NOT sit watching and thinking how dumb the actor/character might be, that is not fair if one is watching for entertainment and one is a lover of the series. As for Neelix, the moment I saw him all those years ago, all I could think of was that he looked like a FISH. Remember the TNG ep. with the 2 ambassadors[?] in comas who were actually assassins? They were fish. Mrs. L. Troi read their minds and exposed them.

Lordy, oh lord .......I wish I had thought of the Jar-Jar identity for Neelix. That is so funny. Oh, and Kim-can't-get-a-lock.......and he is so mopey about wanting a girl, I just watched FAVORITE SON, but he did not come off as watering at the mouth over those women, he should take a few pages from Tom's "play" book on how to get a woman. In ALTER EGO he was in love with a holodeck character and talked it over with Tuvok. Then he exploded at Tuvok when he and Arana were together. He had
no idea what was going on but he was really burned because Tuvok stole his girl.
Sat, Sep 1, 2018, 9:12pm (UTC -6)
Eh, so so plot, but wildly good performance from Jennifer that makes the show fun to watch and keeps the viewer truly entertained. Three stars, and a toast to Jennifer L.
Sleeper Agent
Thu, Jun 13, 2019, 1:35pm (UTC -6)
Standing in the shadow of Lien's splendor, it's easy to forget the rest. But let us also remember that Mulgrew is on point with her Bad-ass Janeway in this one. The story reminded me of an Elizabethan revenge tragedy.

3 Stars.
Sat, Jun 22, 2019, 1:25am (UTC -6)
Those feet of Neelix as shown in the opening scene....looked like leftover Hobbit prosthetic feet from Lord of the Rings...
Sarjenka's Brother
Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 6:28pm (UTC -6)
It's funny how I like a "Voyager" episode more before I read the comments on it.

I often find myself in agreement in the criticisms. So it's not that I think the critiques observers are way off base (sometimes I think they are but usually people have a good point).

I guess I just relax my brain a little (especially as I'm now watching in this long-term pandemic) and just go with it and don't think about every plot hole and nuance.

Jennifer Lien was a lot of fun. A surprising amount. I guess I like Treks where the more meek characters get taken over and get to be bad-ass for an episode. And I liked the alien planet's power struggle. That didn't bore me at all.

And frankly, I loved all the bisexual and threeway subtexts going on, not to be too creepy about it.
Thu, Jun 11, 2020, 5:42pm (UTC -6)
First, a 24 year old response to Jammer's remark about UPN's advertising. My husband and I have found a need for the occasional episode of trash TV. It's not something I ever thought I would indulge in, but cooped up and horribly depressed as we are by current events, sometimes you need a break from studying Ravel, protesting the police, cleaning your face masks, and trying to move your livelihood to the virtual world. So we've starting watching reruns of “Hell's Kitchen.” I had tried to watch it when it was on the air because I love cooking and thought it would be a show about food, but it is the trashiest of trash TV. I make no excuses for it or for myself. I bring this up because UPN's Voyager trailers of yore are indeed cynical, hyperbolic, dishonest and, yes, trashy as hell. I think it was (who am I kidding, it still is) a pervasive mindset amongst execs that, however much embarrassment you garner from the non-troglodyte segment of the audience, this will be made up for by the ratings. So often we see Trek characters amusing themselves by reading or play-acting in the holodeck, never watching something (“Future's End” made special note of it). Then I remember those trailers, and it's like “Oh yeah, TV, that thing we used to watch.”

Teaser : *.5, 5%

Speaking of trash, we begin with Ethan Philips hamming it up as he cartoonishly moans and sticks his tongue out. At least in this case, unlike in say “Ménage à Troi,” we can assume that the woman giving him Oomaks, I mean a foot massage hasn't been enslaved or coerced into this. The woman in question is a hologram of a Talaxian. Having apparently tired of Sandrines, this season's holo-locale is a Talaxian resort. I wonder if this is where Neelix hid himself while his family was being slaughtered by Metrion Cascade.

NEELIX: The Paxau resort was the place to go on Talax for serious relaxation and some personal pampering. It was very exclusive. You had to be rich and privileged, or know someone rich and privileged who owed you a favour.

In fairness, this actually does track with Neelix' character—we saw in “Caretaker” that he's quite the opportunist. There's this weird dichotomy with Neelix. He's kind of a piece of shit, but there are moments when he feels incredibly guilty about it (c.f. “Jetrel”). He projects constantly to avoid real self-examination. There's a lot of character potential there. I'd like more of that and fewer foot rubs if it's not too much trouble.

Tom and Harry are around and make a few modifications to make sure the audience knows they're totally not gay, I mean to make the programme a little more fun. A few lazy Disney resort touches, a steelpan band pilfered from a subway platform, and a few women in bikinis. Surprisingly, Neelix doesn't object to any of this and decides to get down, providing the perfect counterweight to that disgusting foot massage by showcasing Neelix dancing with the troupe. Seriously though, who decided to make Neelix' fucking feet the motif for the teaser? Yeesh.

Act 1 : ***, 17%

We see that Kes is tending her garden, a gentle reminder of “Cold Fire” and her psychedelic trip through the aeroponic bay of death. She's called to sickbay by the Doctor who informs her they have incoming casualties. Said casualties would be coming from a damaged vessel the Voyager has come across, as seen on the bridge. Janeway puts the ship in...justified danger in order to rescue the occupants before the alien vessel goes boom boom. We see the three of these occupants being treated in the sickbay. One of them has a heart attack while in proximity to Kes. His wife weeps and claims that he, called Tieran, cannot be gone while Kes comforts her.

Later, the wife and the other guy, who claims to be a physician, meet with Janeway in her readyroom. We get some quick and dirty backstory. This group is from their planet's aristocracy and they suspect their vessel was attacked by mercenaries to be held for ransom. Janeway doesn't question why these mercenaries just left the trio to die in an explosion but instead offers to ferry these two back home. How convenient! The wife makes special mention of how kind and attentive Kes has been to her as she grieves the loss of Tieran.

At the Spotted Foot Resort, Torres makes an appearance to compliment Neelix for the “great programme,” showing off that she's added a swimsuit hunk for her own fun. Neelix is expecting his sweetie (shudder) and the computer informs him that Kes is busy in the transporter room. We see that she's giving a tour to the alien duo when Neelix calls her up, annoyed by her absence. She excuses herself and joins her boyfriend in the holodeck for their lunch date.

Here we see that she's less than riveted by his company and complains about a headache. Per his ridiculous idiom, Neelix wants to drag her off to the sickbay to be checked out for this, in that horribly infantilising way of his. Really, this whole scene is a showcase for the toxicity of their relationship, with Neelix suggesting a sail after lunch like he's offering to take a child out for ice cream after their sports game. Kes very politely declines, saying she has plans with the aliens.

NEELIX: We can keep them busy together. I'll arrange so many fun activities Nori won't have time to be sad. We can start with a lovely picnic...
KES: This is typical of you, Neelix...It bothers you that I'm making friends of my own. You always have to involve yourself somehow.
NEELIX: Why, I certainly don't mean to intrude on your friendships. You can spend time with anyone you want.
KES: As long as I still spend most of it with you.
NEELIX: If you feel this way, why haven't you said so before?
KES: Maybe I never realised a relationship could be any different.

I'll talk more about this scene later. Suffice it to say for now that a) I really like it, and b) her uncharacteristic directness with him leads to an abrupt end to the meal and their romance.

The Voyager arrives at the planet and Janeway's log reveals that the Autarch is sending a representative to meet with her. She escorts the aliens to the transporter room to greet him and Kes pops in, smiling. When the alien is beamed aboard, Kes phasers him *to death* right in the middle of Kathryn's standard greeting. She also kills the transporter chief (good thing they never filled that position with anybody important) and targets Janeway, but narrative law allows that the physician knock her out instead. Kes tosses aside her communicator and continues to set obviously premeditated plans in motion, sealing doors, barking orders and beaming herself and the aliens aboard a shuttle.

Act 2 : **.5, 17%

While Kim and Chakotay marvel at the skill of “someone on that shuttle,” said shuttle is arriving at a different planet containing “400 hundred men, waiting for [] orders.” But whose? Kes is irritable, possibly in part due to worsening headaches. She beams aboard another Ilari (that's what this alien race is called) and identifies herself as Tieran. So, very quickly we establish the body-snatcher aspect to this story. This is important because unlike “The Assignment” or “Power Play,” the episode isn't interested in the mystery. This is a character piece. More later. For now, we we get some very broad characterisation of Tieran. We already know he's intelligent and cunning, but we also see that he is ruthless and a little unhinged as he uses Kes' mental abilities (again, which were subtly hinted at in the first act) to drive the man to the ground, bleeding from his many nostrils.

The Voyager meets with the Autarch's son and heir, whom I shall call Debonair for being blocked and performed like an over-the-top cartoon. He fills in the details about Tieran, his mind-swapping technology, and the political faction he represents.

DEMMAS: Tieran ruled Ilari over two centuries ago. He was a war hero, a brilliant military leader. He brought security and stability during a difficult time in our history. But in peace time, he began to treat his own subjects as enemies. He became convinced everyone was a potential traitor.

Good thing we don't live in a society that glorifies military service! Phew. Disaster averted. Anyway, Tieran spent time during his reign learning how to achieve immortality until Debonaire's line overthrew him. Kes is his latest victim. Janeway tells the Doctor to figure out a way to reverse the mind-swap (hey look who's got a mobile emitter), but Debonaire wants the Voyager to help him destroy Tieran. Janeway demurs but before they can continue the debate, Kim informs them that Kes/Tieran and his legion have invaded the imperial palace and put up a forcefield. And indeed, we see the final step in this great plan as Kes and co. storm the throne room, kill the Autarch, capture his other son and crown Kes with the Holy Choke Collar.

Act 3 : ***, 17%

Kes/Tieran gives out a number of promotions and does some redecorating of the throne room. You know, priorities. They also take a moment to remind the wife that she is still the wife, still important to them. One thing I appreciate about this is that Tieran's gender fluidity isn't played for laughs the way it usually is in fiction, even today. It isn't a major focus of the story like in “The Host,” “The Outcast,” or “Rejoined,” but it's surprisingly empowering to see that this imposing tyrant shows no signs of being uncomfortable swapping gender. All he sees is the potential to amass power, and Kes' body and mind provide that for him. Arminiac or whatever the other son is called is brought in to face Tieran. They offer to forge an alliance by sharing some of the power that comes with dictatorship. Jennifer Lien gets a lot of praise for her performance and I admit it's...interesting. But I find it to be a bid at odds with Tieran's characterisation as written. Tieran is comfortable commanding a room, intimidating others with whatever abilities are at his disposal. If their host was a brawny fellow, I'm sure they'd just knock people around; with Kes' body, they use the Ocampa Force powers. So this manic performance reads a little false to me.

Debonaire is now pacing distractingly around the readyroom as he explains to Tuvok and Janeway how populist politics works. He begs Janeway once again to help him overthrow Tieran before there's a civil war.

JANEWAY: There are always alternatives to war.

“Always” is hyperbolic. I mean it is *literally* true, but I think what is meant here is that there are almost always *better* alternatives to war. Unless you happen to be a weapons contractor. Janeway implores him to let the Doctor try some technobabble. It has a long track record of success on this ship. And indeed, the Doctor explains in the next scene how the tech tech works and he and Tuvok devise a means of reversing the process.

In the throne room, we learn that Kes' mind is still active, fighting back against Tieran's control. That's really what distinguishes this episode from the mind-swap predecessors. Neither Keiko nor the Enterprise crew had the option or the ability to fight back as unwilling hosts. As a result we didn't learn anything about them or experience a change in them, forcing the episode to rely entirely on the plot machinations and reactions of other characters. The physician suggests that Tieran transfer to a new host that won't fight back, but they refuse. They claim it's because of Kes' Force powers, but I suspect it's more a matter of pride. Transferring would essentially be admitting defeat to Kes and tyrants are loath to show any weakness. The director has also framed the shot with Tieran/Kes' back to a large mirror with ancient Tieran's looming portrait behind the physician. The effect is to make it appear that Tieran is talking to himself while Kes taunts him from behind. Cleverly done.

Later, Tieran/Kes holds a strategic meeting. For the record, the Ilari castellan, the wife and an extra are not played by white actors, meaning 50% of this scene with a bunch of random aliens we are never going to see again is non-white. See, it can be done! Tieran laments the corruption that has infected their people (drain! the! Swamp!), but is then distracted by the telepathic awareness of a familiar presence, familiar to Kes that is. Despite this, Tuvok is able to sneak up to Tieran and attach the Doctor's device, but it isn't on long enough to purge Tieran.

Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

Tieran interrogates Tuvok to little avail...until...

TIERAN-KES: Do you really think you can keep me away from your innermost thoughts? Your fears and insecurities? Your feelings? I sense an embarrassment at being captured, worry about how strong I really am, and of course there's anger. That's the emotion that really threatens your control. So you try even harder to hide from me. I feel those mental barriers going up. Do you notice that it doesn't seem to be working? As if someone were disrupting your ability to concentrate?

Unlike the scene with Arminiac, this is pretty delicious stuff. It is informed by the intimacy between Kes and Tuvok, which are very familiar with, as well as established backstory from “Meld.” Lien has reined it in a little bit—which is good—and Russ is truly excellent at showing that subtle loss of control without ever breaking that Vulcan demeanour. Tieran finally culminates this intrusion by kissing Tuvok, but he seizes the opportunity to initiate a mind meld and free Kes from Tieran's control, allowing her to speaking with her own voice. Ever the teacher, Tuvok advises Kes to “tap into [Tieran's] strengths and make them [her] own.” I mean, if getting Kes to behave more like Tieran can get her to break up with Neelix, I say go for it. The meld is forced closed by Tieran and Tuvok is Force-thrown across the room, ending the session.

With the infiltration having failed, Janeway has relented to using a little force herself to recover her people. Neelix asks to be sent along to help, and I suppose Janeway can't help but to put his grubby little toes in harm's way if she's *asked* to. Anyway, their scheming appears to be pointless as Tieran/Kes makes contact with the Voyager to offer Janeway the chance to leave peacefully, having only lost two of her crew so far. Tieran is obviously still in tremendous pain from the headaches. The Physician advises sleep, but Tieran knows sleep is inviting Kes actively into their thoughts. Frustrated and exhausted, they order the throne room cleared and no ships sent after the Voyager, intent to keep their word to Janeway. But sleep soon follows. Tieran awakens in the guise we recognise from his looming portrait. He is in the throne room of old while Kes speaks to him from her quarters. At first, Kes' tone is the familiar innocent we know, but as the conversation continues, she slowly starts to heed Tuvok's advice, berating her opponent, shaming him for his weaknesses.

KES: I know all about your life. I know about your suffering. It doesn't justify what you've become. You're a monster, Tieran, and I have no compassion for you.
TIERAN: And I don't ask for any. What I need from you I already have. Your body and your mind...I haven't existed for two centuries to be brought down by a child!
KES: You're already deteriorating and it's only going to get worse. I'll find every little crack in your defences. You'll feel yourself crumbling from within, your sanity slipping away. I won't stop until you're broken and helpless. There's nowhere you can go to get away from me. I'll be relentless and merciless, just like you!

Now THIS Jennifer Lien, as Kes, but as a new Kes, is pretty mesmerising. This is an engrossing performance. As she ups the pressure, Tieran finds himself unable to escape Kes' quarters in their mind, signifying that he is indeed losing the battle. Finally, the physician awakens him using a stimulant. Tieran is so angry with his renewed suggestion of mind-transfer (of surrender), that they murder the physician then and there using the Ocampa Force. And there were many a bleeding nostril.

Act 5 : **.5, 17%

Tieran/Kes performance a celebratory mood as they hold a banquet in honour of military success and the announcement of their political marriage to Arminiac. There's a little whispered shock at the announcement as well as a strong implication from Tieran that they want the wife and the brother to all “be friends” as in, they may be a tyrant, but they're also a hot to trot polyamorous gender-fluid magical elf. SHRUG EMOJI As the endgame approaches, Tieran starts screaming Kes within themself, but no time for that craziness, as Debonaire and the Voyager are approaching.

Oh wait never mind, Tieran will make time for craziness, damn it! They order the castellan and others to continue the “celebration” while making schizophrenic references to charitable projects, libraries, public know, tyranny. As the plasma bombs start falling, we get the expected dictator-in-a-bunker meltdown until Tieran is ripping their guards masks off looking for Tuvok again and threatening to kill all their loyal subjects for treason.

Tuvok is actually in the midst of being rescued by Tom (because of course). Meanwhile, Janeway has once again put herself on the front line of a rescue mission by wielding a big gun and being all “badass.” Meh. Neelix is there too, and thank god because who else could possibly have shot Kes/Tieran in the gut when they're trapped in a corner with no where to go?

Brother Arminiac inexplicably runs to their side screaming. I mean I guess he drank the Tieran kool-aid, but it seems a little fast to be so worked up, no? This is actually here to provide the final fake-out as Kes awakens and uses the device on the brother, finally killing Tieran for good.

While this action scene wasn't terrible, I can't say I found it a satisfying conclusion overall. However, the the coda is interesting. Master Tuvok counsels Kes on her experience.

KES: Everything seems so different now. My thoughts and perceptions, even my relationships with my closest friends. You, the Doctor, Neelix. How can I go back to my normal life as if nothing ever happened?
TUVOK: You cannot. This experience will force you to adapt. You are no longer the same person, and the course of your life will change as a result. Where that new course leads is up to you.

Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

As I said, this is a character piece. And a pretty good one. Unlike many other body-possession stories, the admittedly well-worn premise isn't a vehicle for mystery or action (the mystery is quickly explained and the action is confined to the final act). The heart of the story is about the confrontation between Kes and Tieran and how that experience forces Kes to change. Voyager is almost never given the benefit of the doubt with character development it seems. I notice in many comments that Kes' and Neelix' breakup, for example, is treated as though it doesn't really matter because the mind control invalidates the behaviour (it's not really her). But then (spoiler) in “Darkling,” the complaint is that, because the audience apparently decided the breakup didn't really happen, it's cheating to say that it did. So, what the hell? Tieran could have broken up with Neelix for any number of reasons, but he used Kes' insight into their relationship and his behaviour, informed by his own experience and motivations. Deep down, Kes knew and felt the things he said. That's why they rang as true to *us* before it was revealed that she had been mind-nabbed. She simply didn't posses the courage or the impetus to express them. That's what she means when she tells Tuvok that everything has changed.

We will see just how this experience changes Kes, but what this story has to offer in terms of character insights on its own is worth the price of admission. “Cold Fire” talked a big game about harnessing the dark phoenix or whatever the bigly words were to that effect, but couldn't really deliver. This story tackles many of the same themes, but with much more polish and care. Kes is afraid of the dark side of her personality and how that might manifest through her mental powers. Tuvok also understands this darkness and their interactions are a highlight, once again. If “Cold Fire” and “Elogium” represented Kes' pubescence, this story represents her emergence into adulthood. She has seen the efficacy of cruelty and seduction; she has shared her mind with a person always looking for a way to manipulate the people around him. This broadening of perspective plays in to her choice to remain separated from Neelix from this point forward.

The direction in this episode is very fine and Lien's performance is, as I said, interesting. Sometimes it really works, at others it's too much, but it certainly held my interest. But for the love of god, no more close ups of Neelix' feet.

Final Score : ***
William B
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 8:43am (UTC -6)
To pivot from the heated discussions of the past few days (which I haven't been participating in):


"Voyager is almost never given the benefit of the doubt with character development it seems. I notice in many comments that Kes' and Neelix' breakup, for example, is treated as though it doesn't really matter because the mind control invalidates the behaviour (it's not really her). But then (spoiler) in “Darkling,” the complaint is that, because the audience apparently decided the breakup didn't really happen, it's cheating to say that it did. So, what the hell? Tieran could have broken up with Neelix for any number of reasons, but he used Kes' insight into their relationship and his behaviour, informed by his own experience and motivations. Deep down, Kes knew and felt the things he said. That's why they rang as true to *us* before it was revealed that she had been mind-nabbed. She simply didn't posses the courage or the impetus to express them. That's what she means when she tells Tuvok that everything has changed."

I see what you're saying and I agree that Voyager is frequently not given the benefit of the doubt (including even by me in the past -- I'd say more before my recent viewing, more so than during). However, I think that in this case at least what we're seeing isn't so much that people are biased against Voyager -- in the sense that if another series had done the same thing that series would be forgiven -- as that the way Voyager goes about its character development is unusual by Trek (...and, well, other genre show) standards. Generally, mind control, body swap, mistaken identity etc. do invalidate behaviour. It's true that Tieran dumping Neelix is based on Kes' own insight and feelings, but from what we can tell it's still Tieran running the show, which means that Kes didn't decide to do it. Why *would* Neelix assume that they're still broken up if Kes didn't do it? Why should we? Kes isn't responsible for Tieran's actions later in the show. No one expects that Kirk's order to execute the senior staff should hold once Lester is exposed in Turnabout Intruder. And even in cases like Shattered Mirror, the fact that Sisko behaved *plausibly* as his MU counterpart doesn't mean that MU Jadzia and Bashir just accept his behaviour: they're (justifiably) upset at his deception, and don't count his actions as MU Sisko's. Now that the breakup "counts" because Tieran was expressing something real about Kes is hinted at by Kes saying that things have changed for her, sure. It's a plausible read and one that the series bears out. But I don't think it's purely anti-Voyager bias for people to be confused by this point.

For my part, I think that most likely Neelix and Kes would have had to have *a* conversation where she says that they're still broken up, because otherwise I don't see how Neelix would "know" that it counted. It's possible though he just intuits that he should give Kes space and then eventually just sort of realizes that they're over. Based on their dialogue in The Gift, it seems likely that Neelix is bewildered by this and doesn't really know which parts of their on screen breakup conversation he should take to heart. This confusion and despondency makes sense also of where Neelix is by the time we get to Fair Trade, and that neither Neelix nor Kes have the courage to delve deeper makes sense to me.
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 10:47am (UTC -6)
@William B

I think that's fair, and I am not, despite perhaps some reputation, a Voyager apologist. I think a conversation discussing their breakup between "Warlord" and "Darkling" would have been great--it would have improved the development of the characters. But without it, we still have the necessary events and dialogue to see the progression and it does, as you say, make sense. I think it's significant that Neelix is his most...Neelix in this story, pushy, sincere, cloying, and we never see the two of them interact again until the confirmation in "Darkling" that they broke up. This requires no more reading between the lines than decoding Troi's and Riker's relationship on TNG. In "Haven," Riker's pouting about her engagement, then in "The Price," he's wishing Ral the best in pursuing something with her, then in "Ménage à Troi," they're picnicking, then in "Family," they're vacationing together in Venezuela, then in "The Game," Riker's whoring it up on RIsa...I don't object to any of this, but there are no conversations between them that spell out the nature of their relationship or how it's changing; we are expected to piece it together. I just tend to see a much more dismissive attitude about Voyager's writing that makes me a little defensive.
Peter G.
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 11:41am (UTC -6)
@ Elliott,

"I don't object to any of this, but there are no conversations between them that spell out the nature of their relationship or how it's changing; we are expected to piece it together."

I think this is primarily because there is no ongoing arc or oversight here in terms of "where they are in their relationship." I do not believe they were monitoring the state of that relationship, as it was more likely each writer just writing whatever they wanted. There's no scene to tell us what's going on because nothing is going on. That's quite different between an actual couple going through a breakup that will be sustained on the series. In TNG they even had a major crisis for O'Brien and Keiko as *secondary characters* and they fleshed this out a lot for us. I mean, it was framed somewhat comically because of the episode, but we definitely needed to know whether they stood with each other.
Jason R.
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -6)
I never bought Kes and Neelix as a couple to begin with so any "development" or arc was simply pointless to begin with. Those two had zero romantic chemistry. Even Anakin and Padme worked better as a romantic pair - at least they were kind of hot even when discussing sand.
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 12:03pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G

"we definitely needed to know whether they stood with each other."

Yeah, and we do know where Kes and Neelix end up, it just isn't spelled out in *this* episode. As I said, they certainly could have dedicated an entire episode to the breakup, but the material between "Warlord" and "Darkling" doesn't depend upon whether we know if they broke up or not. It works either way. And we discover in "Darkling" that they had indeed held to the breakup seen in this episode.

"There's no scene to tell us what's going on because nothing is going on."

That can't be true considering what happens in "Second Chances," "All Good Things..." and "Insurrection." Obviously, something was going on. There's also the ambiguous memory from "Violations" in which Troi remembers them making out after a poker game. Until the telepathic rape stuff comes into play, it certainly seems like they're about to hook up and that this is just something that happens now and again. They must have some sort of arrangement, but they never discuss it on screen. I think this is fine.
William B
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 5:49pm (UTC -6)

I like the Riker/Troi comparison. Regarding R/T themselves, my feeling is that from Encounter at Farpoint through to All Good Things, Riker/Troi seem to be in an ambiguous state, where "Imzadi"-but-not-a-full-item is an ill-defined grey area for them, where they're constantly a few steps from being an item and a few steps from being "just friends." I'm not even positive they do have any off-screen conversations that we don't see (except in and after Insurrection). I think my favourite occasion of this is in The Loss (I think?) when Riker tries to play the Imzadi card and Troi dismisses it with "Oh please." When Past-Picard assured Troi that he's sure they'll find a way to work out their awkward situation, my spouse (who I had been watching things with) said "No, they won't" in an affectionate joking tone. As you say I think it's fine that it's not spelled out to the audience exactly what they did or didn't work out.

OTOH, I do have similar feelings about that scene in Violations as I do about the breakup in this episode. To be clear, I think that the ambiguity in Violations is worse because it throws a sexual assault in there, when the rest of the memories seem to be traumas that plausibly happened (Beverly seeing Jack's corpse, Riker having to evacuate Engineering and lose a person), which implies that Riker/Troi thing did happen. Given that the show has already raised the spectre of Riker being a potential rapist in A Matter of Perspective I think it's a bad choice to muddy the waters like that. It's also worse in Violations because I like Riker/Troi (as friends or as a couple) whereas I guess we can all just be relieved that Neelix/Kes is over as a romantic thing.
William B
Mon, Jun 15, 2020, 5:53pm (UTC -6)
The "similar feelings," lol, are about how the sci-fi/possession/alien interference stuff means it's hard for us to know what actually happened (or at least "counted"). Playing some "how much was real?" ambiguity is fine and often good but it just sort of muddies things. However as I say Violations is worse on this front.
Wed, Jul 1, 2020, 1:13am (UTC -6)
Upon trying to rewatch it just now I was overcome by a burning rage and uncontrollable wretching. I have never wanted so badly to repeatedly slam my tablet against my own face until it was destroyed and I was blinded by the jagged debris. My stomach is still roiling as the sight and sounds of that motherfucker continues playing in my head.

Surely even the 8-year-olds to whom the character (and show) is supposed to appeal would find this offensive and obscene. It's not funny and it's not endearing. It only makes me want to seek out and injure those responsible.
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 5:19pm (UTC -6)
I don't get the hate the Neelix, never have. He's a necessary, optimistic counterweight for the show (we can't have Picardo providing all the comedy), but also one that stars in some incredibly dark episodes (Jetrel, Mortal Coil, Tuvix (by association)). Furthermore, Phillips is a fine actor.
Bob (a different one)
Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 10:10am (UTC -6)
Pretty good episode. Jennifer Lien shows off her acting chops just in time to get axed from the show. i would have loved to have seen the new, more assertive, Kes stick around; yet another missed opportunity by the Voyager producers.

Nick said: "Phillips is a fine actor."

i agree. He is really very good. His comedic timing is also excellent. But Neelix is an absolutely awful character. Speaking of whom:

Was this intro designed to get viewers to turn off their TVs, cancel their cable, and pluck out their eyeballs? The show wastes 3 or 4 minutes with two pointless holodeck scenes in this episode, but can't find the tim to wrap up the Neelix/Kes relationship that's been part of the show since the pilot.
Thu, Jul 22, 2021, 6:05am (UTC -6)
@Sarjenka's Brother
"Jennifer Lien was a lot of fun. A surprising amount. I guess I like Treks where the more meek characters get taken over and get to be bad-ass for an episode. And I liked the alien planet's power struggle. That didn't bore me at all."

My sentiments exactly. But also: What did I just see? In a good way. : ) Lien's Tieran for all of its over-the-toppedness has to be one of the finest individual performances ever delivered in Trek. Tier = animal all the way.

Haven't seen the series before, so my knowledge of 7of9 is extremely limited....but I have to say that the discarding of Lien (even if seen as justifiable by the showrunners) was on the face of it just awful. It's the casting equivalent of letting Edith Keeler get hit by a car. "Let's get the hell out of here."
Wed, Jul 28, 2021, 12:42pm (UTC -6)
Overall i liked this episode very much but i have a bit of nitpicking.

Neelix seemed to enjoy getting his feet rubbed even more than a ferengi likes getting their lobes rubbed, which i found very disturbing. I can only guess how enraged Neelix would be if he found Kes getting her feet rubbed like that.
Mon, Jun 27, 2022, 6:57pm (UTC -6)
I finally watched this after all these years because I was reading about the circumstances behind Lien's departure from the show, and that she's actually a great actress.

"Kes" episodes were ones I very quickly skipped, just as much as Neelix episodes. They were basically persistent Lwaxana characters.

But Lien really does a great job here. She absolutely has acting chops and it's sad to see her skills were wasted on a character that waters crops and deals with Neelix's jealousy.
Mon, Apr 17, 2023, 2:10pm (UTC -6)
There was moment in previos episodes where Kes/Lien got more important scenes and she started to shine. In this episode she got a big opportunity and I would say she took it. It was terrific.

Unfortunately she has to be a part in portraying hers and neelix strange ralation. That does not really work and ist just tedious.

Liens acting qualities definetly could have ben used more.
Robert II
Thu, Jun 1, 2023, 2:54pm (UTC -6)
Lien's acting was the highlight of this episode. They finally gave her some meat to sink her teeth into. The rest of the plot was forgettable. I wish Kes had more episodes of her own that were compelling and progressed the character. The writers really neglected her until she was painted into a corner.

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