Star Trek: Voyager

“The Gift”

3 stars.

Air date: 9/10/1997
Written by Joe Menosky
Directed by Anson Williams

"My designation is Seven of Nine. The others are gone. Designations are no longer relevant. I am ... One."
"Yes, you are."

— Seven of Nine and Janeway

Review Text

Nutshell: Some really strong stuff ... and also some not-so-strong stuff. Uneven but pretty respectable.

Let me begin with some issues only indirectly related to this episode. Anyone who hasn't been living in a closet (or who doesn't have access to Usenet or anywhere else on the net where Trek rumors run rampant), has probably known for months now that Jennifer Lien would be leaving the series. I heard the unconfirmed news as early as April, and, as these rumors go, I took it with a grain of salt. (After all, Colm Meaney has been very widely but wrongly rumored as leaving DS9 for the past three or more seasons.)

Rumors have also been flying around as to why the actress was leaving. Most of the ones I've come across have alluded to the "fact" that Lien considered her character a disappointment, and that even Jeri Taylor admits the writing staff is at fault, having never giving the character the development she deserved.

Now, I'm not here to confirm or deny rumors, because, quite frankly, I haven't the slightest idea why Jennifer Lien opted to leave Voyager. However, if there's any truth to the said rumors, I must admit that I'm not particularly surprised. Because of her unique position on the show, Kes is one character that should've had some stories that she never had, and now never will.

Most notably, her telepathic abilities never went fully realized. They were introduced way back in "Time and Again," and used once or twice between then and "Scorpion"—most notably "Cold Fire," "Persistence of Vision," and "Warlord." But, really, it was used mostly as a plot device; it was never really ingrained into the character's personality.

Then there was the long-standing relationship she had with Neelix, which I never felt was explored the way it should've been. And their extremely confusing break-up was handled so poorly that there was a long stretch of episodes where it wasn't even clear that they had broken up.

Why am I discussing all this? Because it's not every day that a regular member of the cast leaves a Star Trek series, and there are moments within the plot of "The Gift" that perhaps underline the possibility that Kes has been a character that the writing staff wasn't sure they knew what they should do with.

We'll get to that in a moment, because, really it's ultimately less important than the episode's other half. "The Gift" is one of those shows that has two unrelated plots, and if I had to label one of the plots the B-story, it would probably be the angle involving Kes. The main focus (and an effective one at that) documents Janeway's attempts to bring Seven of Nine (separated from the Borg collective in "Scorpion, Part II" which took place just days before) into the Voyager fold, whether the lone Borg submits willingly or not.

Most of this angle of the story is pretty powerful. Janeway has sometimes been one for making decisions that can be described as "controversial," and in "The Gift" she makes decisions for Seven of Nine that all but deny her free will.

Ah, but that's the argument (I just love Trekkian arguments!). At what point would a Federation/Starfleet type like Janeway deny the requests of an alien guest? In this case it's a bit trickier, because Janeway can't simply allow Seven of Nine to return to the Borg collective. That could put the entire ship at risk of Borg assimilation. And, ethically, it's even more tricky because Seven of Nine was assimilated at a very young age—she never really had the chance to understand what it meant to be a human individual before she suddenly found herself in the Collective among billions. She never had the opportunity to choose her life's path, because the Borg chose it for her.

So it's not surprising that Seven of Nine wants nothing to do with Janeway, the Voyager crew, or her chance to rediscover humanity. She wants to return where she can hear the voices of the hive—because she understands the Collective and is psychologically dependent on it. It's all she has ever known, so how can she be expected to simply give it up? She can't.

Indeed, the most effective and affecting moments of "The Gift" center around Seven of Nine's dilemma. Menosky's script allows us to understand her plight, and there are moments when we feel sincerely sorry for her. We can easily understand her attempt to hijack a communications relay and contact the Borg (which lands her in the brig). We can understand her rage toward Janeway for denying her requests. We can understand her frustration and loneliness; the voices are gone, and she's left with emptiness.

One scene in the brig is particularly powerful, where she mumbles the word "one" over and over, then says, confused and distraught, "My designation is Seven of Nine. The others are gone. Designations are no longer relevant. I am ... One."

"Yes, you are," Janeway responds, with a statement that says more than the obvious.

I think Janeway comes across very well in this episode. It shows her personally involved in a situation that will undoubtedly be one of the series' most ongoing and deeply explored analyses of the human situation. Because Janeway forced this decision upon Seven of Nine, it may seem unjust or controversial on the surface. But the decision had to be made one way or the other, and the way Janeway goes about handling it makes it a very ... human decision. Kate Mulgrew was all-around fantastic as ship's captain and community leader. Her performance really evoked a sense of family throughout the episode, and I rather liked it.

And while Seven of Nine apparently accepts her fate by the end of the episode (which perhaps seems too sudden because of the way the A- and B-stories are assembled), this is very far from over. The character shows a lot of promise, and I look forward to future stories about her. Jeri Ryan did a commendable job, although I think the challenge lies ahead, in creating a believable character who won't fully understand the human discoveries she will undoubtedly find. A unique bond between Janeway and Seven of Nine seems very likely.

But now comes the bad news: As much as the A-story about Janeway and Seven of Nine had me riveted to the screen, the B-story involving Kes' sudden development of unique powers—an apparent evolution into a higher life form—fell quite flat.

A very big part of the problem is that the whole transformation is left so utterly inexplicable that it comes across as merely arbitrary. It happens far too quickly to be believable. It feels much more like "Well, we have to get rid of Kes somehow, so let's make her transform into energy and lots of rippling light." Kes' bizarre abilities escalate over the course of the hour. First she can move objects like hyposprays with her mind, and before long she's manipulating objects on molecular, sub-molecular, and finally sub-sub-molecular levels. The technobabble remains thankfully light, but this still isn't really interesting in story terms.

The problem is that the episode doesn't tell us what this means to any of the characters. There are far too many non-reactions to Kes' extreme powers. I think a big part of the problem was time constraints. There simply isn't enough screen time for both subplots to work—I was far too engaged in the Seven of Nine story to care about Kes' story, which was too underdeveloped. Another problem is that since none of the characters really know what Kes is going through or why (Kes isn't even sure, and I doubt the writers really were either) they have no basis to act. That's fine in itself, but the episode zooms through the plot so quickly that it's never evident many people care what's going on, assuming they're even aware of it. That I don't think is fine.

There's one scene with Neelix and Kes that looks like it's headed for a genuine, revealing payoff, but it ends with a dumb joke instead. (Why did we break up? Oh, it was the cooking!) The serious discussion should've prevailed, but the creators took the easy way out, which left me irritated. Closure here would be nice, but we sure don't get it.

The final act has a reasonable scene between Janeway and Kes, which gives the episode enough of a "goodbye" feeling without going into maudlin excess. But there's also an "action" finale where Kes has to make it to the shuttle bay before she finishes her transformation cycle (or whatever it is), destroying Voyager in the process. This is fairly dumb and clichéd; I could've done without it entirely. Kes' departure is underwhelming precisely because the plot depicting it is merely a means to an end and little more. The unfinished scene with Neelix and the intentionally vague and perfunctory nature of Kes' transformation highlights exactly the sort of thing that has held the character back for the past three seasons—and it's unfortunate.

Ah, but there is Kes' "gift," which has some reassuring implications. She accelerates the ship to a very fast speed which puts the Voyager safely beyond Borg space—taking 10 years off the journey. I have some logistic problems with Kes' newfound abilities—it seems awfully magical and convenient—but such complaints are ultimately unimportant. The shortening of the journey could mean a lot in the upcoming season. It could give the Voyager crew some new hope, and it will also hopefully invigorate the feeling that Voyager is truly exploring the Delta Quadrant. Time will tell.

So Jennifer Lien as Kes leaves Star Trek: Voyager, and overall she goes quietly. Quiet has its merits. Closing the episode is a fabulous tracking shot of Tuvok alone in his quarters holding a candle. It's poignant and visually impressive. The special effects enhance the meaning: just one person who will ponder the fate of his friend—very nice. It's too bad Kes' farewell wasn't this aptly handled throughout.

Next week: When stranded in the coldness of space, will Tom and B'Elanna be heating things up? And will Voyager lose its second shuttlecraft in as many episodes? The suspense is killing me...

Previous episode: Scorpion, Part II
Next episode: Day of Honor

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Comment Section

95 comments on this post

    This is the point where Voyager became "The Seven of Nine Show". Huge shark-jumping moment.

    A good episode, but Kes and her fate was pretty much a rip off of a Babylon 5 story from its first season where a telepath ends up so strong he becomes a corporeal being

    This is probably the episode Kate Mulgrew hates the most. Is widely known that Mulgrew disliked the Seven of Nine/Kes switch.

    As I understand it, Kes was getting too old to continue the series, according to the Okampa age-limits, which is something like 4 or 5 years. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    The Okampa live for 9 years. Kes could have remained for the entire series. This would have been a problem only if Voyager had a ninth season.

    While it's true the nature of Kes' departure was handled too abruptly and was confusing, I appreciated that they had her character play a significant role in saving the life of the new cast member, in the middle of the episode. Though subtle, it created an emotional link between Kes and Seven, despite that they never meet.

    I've heard that Garrett Wang was originally the one to be dropped after the 3rd season. But he then made People Magazine's Annual List of 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. The powers that be then thought it'd be bad form to fire him after such an honor, so the pink slip was handed to Jennifer Lien.
    This makes me wonder why Ethan Phillips's Neelix wasn't considered for the proverbial chopping block since surely, by this time, he'd become Trek's answer (precursor?) to Jar Jar.

    I agree with theory that writers didn't know what to do with Kes.

    In its begin Kes was embodiment of good nature and happiness. Now tell me, how this ideal can evolve without loosing its Tinker Bell aura? It simply can't and Warlord episode was good example of this.

    So what writers did? The have introduced exact antithesis of Kes. Seven is merciles, aggresive killer on her way to understanding everything Kes was born with.

    Well, I guess it was inevitable that someone came up with such a half-as$ed explanation for why Kes HAD to go.

    It makes sense that Kes would be the one to go, since her lifespan introduced limitations on appearing for seven full seasons...she'd be an old woman by the end.

    If Mulgrew hated the Kes/Seven switch, she certainly played it down on the Season 1 DVD on which she is highlighted and interviewed. She loved working with Jeri Ryan and praised the whole idea of Seven.

    As for Janeway, she was written very erratically. For example, on the Prime Directive, she ranged from "We must follow it to the letter" to "To hell with it", and on time travel she ranged from "We shouldn't know" to "Tell me more". But this wasn;t Mulgrew's fault, and whatever kind of Janeway she was forced to play each week, she always went all out, and this episode was one of her best, alongside other good Janeway episodes like Prime Factors and Good Shepherd.

    Oh, come on. This is science fiction. Kes may have had a 9 year life span, but they (the writers)surely could've found a way around it if they were smart (wasn't that even one of the plot points in "Before and After"?).
    I'm fine with 7 of 9, I'm just still shocked that Kes was the one to go & not Neelix. I guess you had to have only 3 women in this ensemble.

    The ep worked pretty well IMHO. Tho the Kes transformation did come across as somewhat precipitous, who's to say how random non-human aliens should behave?

    The Kes character might have looked amusing on paper when the series was being put together but I don't think it ever worked. She was too alien for it to really matter what arbitrary stuff happened to her, whereas the Seven of Nine character could be (was) used to make all sorts of analysis of the human condition.

    As for the common complaints re Seven's skin-tight costume styling, latterly Kes was sporting the skin-tight catsuit look, and TNG and DS9 were heavy on the spandex... it's just that Jeri Ryan fills out a catsuit in a more memorable manner.

    Everyone who keeps insisting that Kes had nowhere else to go as a character seems to be forgetting that Jennifer Lien wasn't the one who was originally supposed to get the axe. That was originally Garrett Wang. Unlike Kes, his character was at a dead end (although, in fairness, I could tolerate him more than Neelix). It was only when, for some strange reason, he made People magazine's annual 50 Most Beautiful people in the world issue, that his paycheck for the remainder of the show's run was assured.
    So, I doubt all these excuses about Kes having nowhere else to go as a character would be nonexistent were it not for People magazine.

    Yup, Kes never really became anything over the course of three seasons. I'm not sure if it's because the original conception of the character was flawed, or if it wasn't well developed. Either way, she deserved a more appropriate sendoff. I had this thought that during the Year of Hell, she could have jumped in front of Torres & Janeway when the conduits exploded, sacrificed her own life to save theirs. That would have been VERY powerful. But of course the whole Year of hell ended up being reset anyway.

    @Bob, "Shark Jumping," generally denotes bad writing decisions. It was not a bad decision to shift the show's focus onto what would become an exciting and fascinating new character. It literally saved the show, IMO. And it was really only during season 4 that the scales were tipped towards Seven. Seasons 5 - 7 took a more TNG-style approach to its cast, favoring the more popular characters (as opposed to the DS9-style of a more balanced ensemble).

    I do agree that Jennifer Lien basically got the shaft, though. It wasn't her fault her character was underdeveloped. She did an excellent job with what she was given. It's a shame, too, that her acting career didn't flourish after this. "American History X" is the only other thing she's really known for and she was excellent in that as well.

    I think the main problem with Kes' character is that she didn't have a culture or much of a back story to support her growth. We meet the Ocampa in the pilot and that's basically it from there on out. There are no other Ocampa in the Delta Quadrant (except for that creepy colony that followed the "Other Caretaker"). She's not even a year old when she comes on board so they couldn't really do flashbacks, because there's hardly anything to flash back to. So what the writers left themselves with was this vaguely telepathic and highly curious young girl with funky ears.

    That's not to say that they didn't do some interesting things with Kes and that there wasn't really the potential for more. They did and there was. It was just too easy for them to pass her over in favor of Janeway, B'Elanna, The Doctor, and eventually Seven of Nine.

    Jennifer Lien was a decent actress for what she got's unfortunate that when the script calls for her to scream (which happened several times) she sounds like a falcon.

    I've read most of the posts here but not all, so If i repeat i apologize.

    First off I believe "The gift" should have been the episode after this one- Meaning this one episode should have been mainly about Seven of Nine and her integration with the Voyager crew. Kes could have shown more development with her powers and actually helped Seven recover old memories of her childhood and humanity.

    That being said, "The Gift" could have been made into a more believable story AND things like her and Neelix's break up could have been more explained. BUT the one thing that I wanted to see most (and for some reason no one has addressed as far as I could read) was her saying goodbye to the Doctor. WTF? Her and the Doctor had a friendship way beyond what the Captain shared, and while I did like the scene of the two saying goodbye, I can not forgive the powers that be for excluding her farewell to the Doctor. It could have been a great scene where as she was leaving in a shuttle craft, the Doc could have been in the hangar bay saying his farewell in the manner where only an actor with his skills could pull off! A great blunder indeed...

    I've found Kes to be a bit of a bore overall, so I wasn't too sad to see her go. Still, her departure could have at least had a whole episode dedicated to it and it would have given us more time to spend on 7 of 9. 7 of 9 seems like an excellent addition to the show, I just hope that the writers keep some of the Borgness and the darkness and pathos that seems to be waiting to be tapped into.

    I think the writers should have followed on the desperation and excitement of the Scorpion 2 parter into a few more episodes. If I was the writer I'd used this to make 7 of 9s' inner termoil admist the backdrop of a Borg confrontation (along the way perhaps leaving Voyager on its last legs with half the crew dead or shaken to their cores). Next episode, I would have then used Kess'es departure and the gift Kes gives the crew as a harrowing and powerful escape from Borg space. This could have made everything more dramatic and emotional in my view, servicing both plot points in a more fully rounded way.

    I for one am glad to see the back of Kes. She is an extremely tedious character. Her soporific delivery is more suitable to a meditation tape set to the background of some whales weeping and shit than to a sci-fi show.

    I'm also grateful we managed to get through an episode featuring Kes WITHOUT her letting out a spine-chilling scream worthy of a Hitchcock horror flick. Instead, it was Seven's turn to go apeshit when she started attacking the brig's forcefield.

    Could also have done without Tuvok's mind-meld nonsense.

    Good bye, Kes; we hardly knew thee... - and just as well!

    I totally agree that this is a terrible goodbye to Kes. I admit that I didn't give a crap that Neelix and Kes joined the group in the first place (I’m not really sure why they did – I guess they had nothing better to do in their own part of space), and I didn’t like at all what the producers did with the characters. I really feel bad for the actors who played them. What thankless roles. But, yeah, the lack of poignant closure between Kes and Neelix and Kes and the doctor is totally unforgivable.

    I'm watching the series for the first time, marathon-style thanks to Netflix. I was very sorry to see Kes go. Her telepathy alone coud have given rise to many interesting plots, but what I really liked about her was her relationship with the doctor. I was terribly disappointed when we got "time to say goodbye to the doctor.... Oh wait I have to go RIGHT NOW or the ship will blow up!"

    I was glad to see at least a little closure with Neelix. As a woman, I can understand why she did not want to get more specific about why she broke up with him. It would only hurt him.

    I like that she wasn't killed off and that she was able to propel them forward. I wish her storyline would have gotten more time. I can't help but feel a bit of resentment toward the Seven character. I hope I get over that as it appears from comments here that she becomes prominent. My fave characters are Janeway, the Doctor, Chakotay and Paris (though many seem to revile the latter). It's a shame that it seems two of them will get shortchanged.

    Hopefully I will enjoy what's left anyway because, despite what all those people on AV club told me about the show being awful, I'm finding I like Voyager.

    Just watched this last night . . . an enjoyable episode overall. I enjoy episodic continuity so it is nice to see a forward progression with the character and the plot. Kes's good-bye seemed rushed and came off as a slight to the character. I could tell Jennifer Lien wasn't really enjoying acting out those scenes with her replacement in sickbay.

    I did like the scene with Kes and Janeway's farewell, but I couldn't help but feel like it was actually about Lien being fired from the show.

    Something else I noticed: Kate Mulgrew seems very irritated and unperky throughout much of this episode. There is a scene with her, the Doctor and Tuvok in which she makes some very un-Janeway like facial expressions . . . I honestly felt like Mulgrew did not want to be filming that day and they went with the best take they had. Also, it was quite obvious they had to cover up the bags under Mulgrew's eyes with lots of make up. (Whether this has to do with Lien's departure is another matter entirely).

    I think there was a LOT going on behind the scenes of the filming of this episode and it leaked onto the screen . . . I don't know if that makes it a good episode or not, but I can definitely say that this episode made me think more about the characters (and the real people who play them) then any other episode of Trek I've ever seen.

    I've always felt that Kes' telepathy was irrelevant. Her story really was the short Ocampan lifespan. We should have seen her go through an entire life: have her grow up, grow old and die over the course of the series. But they kept backing away from Kes' short lifespan, as if it was a story problem to be corrected rather than a story opportunity. Kes should have been changing rapidly, as a month for her would be like a year for a human. I think 7 of 9 did have some good stories, but she was blatant "eye candy". They seemed to try to make Kes more eye candy as well, but while she was very, very cute, I felt that long hair made Kes look somewhat ordinary. If Kes didn't develop, it's because the writers didn't let her develop. They didn't let her grow up, they didn't let her get old, so she couldn't really change.

    Agree with most of the comments here. Kes' developing mental powers and her lifespan issues would have been a gold mine of potential story. It's complete BS that the character had "run it's course".

    By Season 4 it's a complete travesty that Neelix didn't end up with a gold uniform and Kes with a blue one. They were clearly going in that direction and backed off.

    Any time one of the arcs they were planning for the characters changed up the status quo too much they ran away from it.

    Although Piller made mistakes on Voyager (who's perfect) the things he planned for the characters/series over the course of seven years could have been really, really interesting.

    I'd have loved to see Chakotay as a single father, what Suder could have done as a recurring guest star, Kes become an elderly nurse by season 7 (or perhaps even a doctor), Neelix a junior officer and what would have happened if we had kept Piller's early vision of Janeway instead of the moralizing shrew we ended up with.

    Honestly I really like Seven of Nine, Jeri Ryan knocked it out of the park so hard it's damned near impossible not to, but what we got in this tradeoff (a neutered Chakotay/Harry Kim fading into the background, losing Kes, Neelix never really amounting to anything, destroying Janeway etc.) I don't think it was worth it.

    Hell, they were too scared to even let the doctor finish his S1 arc of picking a name. So much frustration rewatching VOY S1/S2 and realizing that it won't ever live up to all that untapped potential. And it EASILY has the best S1 of any modern Star Trek show... so it really could have.

    I know Harry Kim had just gotten one of People's hottest young stars or whatnot and so they axed Kes instead, but seriously... they don't ever do ANYTHING with him ever again. So it's a true loss that they picked her to go.

    It was pretty nice to see our new Borg friend develop into human being, along with the moral issues it brought. It is just a shame that in the end we are presented to such a rushed development: Seven of Nine becomes magically cooperative and almost fully human. It would have been much better to keep her development slower trough the next episodes. Maybe even still not hair for a while, wwhy not? I agree with those who have said that this episode should have focused on her, instead of letting Kes go at the same time. It was distracting.

    By the way, of course Kes was a character with huge potential for development due to her mind abilities and different aging. However, let's face it: her character was always dealt with very poorly. From her relationship break up with Neelix, which has to be one of the worstly handled character situation ever in Trek, to now her going without us seeing her goodbye neither to Paris nor to The Doc! Oh gosh, it is really good that she was dropped from the show. Her whole presence was a total mess from begining to the end.

    Overall, Seven of Nine saves the episode and gives me new hope for good character development.

    Personally I don't really believe the myriad of reasons for the departure of Kes. To me it seems clear that they just replaced one hot female with another. I don't buy for a second that they were considering having both of them on the show.

    It's just odd that it was so transparent that the new character was introduced at the exact same time she leaves.

    That aside, atleast I found her storyline in this episode quite a satisfying conclusion to the character at this point.

    As much as I enjoy Harry and Tom's bromance, let's face it: Kes (Jennifer Lien) was a better character (and better actor) than Harry Kim (Garrett Wang).

    Her character deserved more than a creepy pseudo-pedophilic relationship with Neelix and refilling hyposprays in Sickbay. With a life span that short, there was an endless amount of possible "aging/maturing" story lines they could have followed.

    And that doesn't even include all the potential outcomes of her mental powers!

    Truly a waste.

    A very bi-polar episode that somehow manages to have both plots mirror and clash at the same time. The two stories, with some quality writing, could have been separate episodes by themselves. As it is, it's pretty good, albeit a bit rushed.

    The plot concerning Seven's slow reintegration into humanity was excellently handled with fantastic performances and pitch-perfect dialogue. Right off the bat, Jeri Ryan proves a formidable addition to the cast in her ability to convey her character's obvious inner turmoil. The loss of safety and security from losing her connection to the collective is understandably a near impossible internal struggle between extreme loneliness and her emerging childhood memories. Very good stuff indeed.

    The oft under utilized Kes also has some great parts concerning her final moments on Voyager. The scenes between her and Janeway were especially poignant and handled admirably. Unfortunately, this is also where the episode shows most where the dual-plotted nature hurts it. The idea of her rapidly improving psionic powers didn't bother me in the slightest. It was mentioned in "Scorpion, Part 1" and this all may have been related to the Undine's influence. But some additional screen time may have, and should have, allowed for some further explanation of what's happening plus some more interplay with others concerning her departure. However, as it is with real life, we don't always get opportunities to say goodbye to loved ones.

    Bi-polar or no, it's a quality addition to the series that I seemingly enjoyed more than most on here and, behind-the-scenes politics aside, the episode works on its own merits.

    3.5 stars.

    An issue with this episode, subtly affecting both plots (although the Kes story less), is that it felt like the ship was already well-clear of Borg territory (that it was a lot smaller than taking years to cross), suggesting that it wasn't would have increased the drama and the meaningfulness of the gift.


    "The Okampa live for 9 years. Kes could have remained for the entire series. This would have been a problem only if Voyager had a ninth season."

    In that eventuality they could have bumped her off in the seventh year and she would have been on the show for only seven of nine seasons.


    Ocampans were proven to live much longer than 9 years (Cold Fire).

    But I agree, her "lifespan" shouldn't have been an issue kicking her off the series. It could have actually enhanced the character.


    "This is the point where Voyager became 'The Seven of Nine Show'."

    Yeah, tune in every week at 8:53!


    I think your comment should have been directed to Stefan. You got that I was quoting his post, right?

    One of the things that really bugs me is that there is absolutely NO interaction between Kes and The Doctor considering her departure.
    Neelix got one. Janeway got one. Tuvok got one. Doc didn't get anything other the one line where Kes mentions she has to tell him about her leaving and how he won't take it lightly, but then her powers kick in and we never see him respond to her departure.
    I was always bothered by that. Kes has a special friendship with him, helping him develop his personality subroutines and she was the first to consider him just as important as any other crewmember and not treat him like a piece of complex technology.
    So when the time comes to leave, you'd think they'd put aside a minute or 2 to reflect on their friendship of the past 3 years and give each other a heartfelt goodbye. But nope, nothing. Doc was completely left out in that regard.

    On a completely unrelated note, I did like seeing how Voyager slowly but surely lost its Borg modifications over the course of the episode. At the start, you see Voyager still having all kinds of BOrg nodes and implants across various sections of the ship and then they gradually reduced it until at the end of the episode, they only had some minor changed left to make. Pretty clever how they subtly worked that in, showing you the changes slowly. Kudos for that.

    Coincidentally, Bob, you referred to this episode as the show's "shark-jumping moment"--the phrase "jump the shark" was coined from a moment in the show "Happy Days" when a water-skiing Fonzie jumps over a shark. This episode of Voyager was directed by Anson Williams, who played Potsie on "Happy Days."

    I think it's tough to really identify a "shark-jumping" moment for Voyager because it was so inconsistent as a series. While Seven did eventually become overused, she was in fact one of the most interesting characters on the show and many of the episodes focused on her were actually pretty good. But from Day 1, Voyager was capable of producing a fantastic episode one week and a thoroughly laughable clunker the next. I can't really pinpoint any particular episode of Voyager and say "it was all downhill after that" or any single change or development that led to a series of consistently bad episodes.

    Well, we know that Braga came up with the idea of a "borg babe" and we got 7 of 9 out of that "inspiration". Only 9 can remain because of funding reasons so someone has to go.

    The 7 side of the story was outstanding. 7's new troubles, Janeway's new "motherly" type duties, etc. All very well done and Jeri does VERY well bringing us the 7 character.

    I don't know what's up with these Voyager writers and Kes. First they completely blow off the Kes/Neelix break-up and now she doesn't get some good-bye screen time with the doctor? Come on man. Hell, it would have made more sense to have the doctor escort her to the shuttle bay anyways...

    Seven replaces Kes, but Seven's existence outside the collective wasn't possible without Kes and her newly surfacing powers. So basically Jenifer enabled Jeri to take her place in the ensemble. Kind of ironic.

    We all know about Garret and his celebrated good looks and we've heard this is why they kept Harry, but I'm not so sure. She had issues with her ears and the long hair removed the young/tinkerbell look. Also, look at Kes(Jennifer) in season 1 & 2; she's a healthy young woman. Then look how her looks progress in season 3. Especially how she looks in that swim suit on the holo-deck. Knowing what we know now about her drug/mental problems, I would say it's safe to assume that she had drug issues. Being that skinny isn't healthy. So sad, I really hope Jennifer gets the help she needs.

    I find it hard, once you get attached to a character, not to feel something when they depart. It's always been about the characters in Trek for me and I am always sad to see one go. I'm also sure that Kate felt the same way about Jen. Jen was just a baby when she took the role, and I'm sure Kate took her under her wing and felt responsible for her. It must have hurt Kate to see her go. I read somewhere they edited the tears out when Janeway and Kes hug before her departure.

    But Kes does go out on a high note, she saves 7's life and propels Voyager out of Borg space. Not a bad send off if you have to go.

    I will miss her.

    3.5 stars for me.

    Our new borg addition summed up Janeway in a few short sentences: Hypocritical and manipulative. No different than the borg. Wow. She hasn't been on the ship but a few days and she's already hip to that. I watched this one right after watching Prey. Seven's outbursts in BOTH eps were right on the money.

    I can't say when this show really jumped the shark. The fact that it became standalone-driven since S3 makes it hard to say since they reset the clock every new ep. We do get some great standalones (Living Witness, Remember) and some horrible ones (Threshold, Course: Oblivion) but the format itself makes it harder to pinpoint when things went bad. So many eps from the last seasons could have been switched with earlier eps and no difference would have been made.

    We lose an Ocampan yet gain a Borg. Why not keep both? Sometimes I think the writers just spin a dial and where it lands that's the unlucky sod getting the shaft. Both Martha Hackett and Jennifer Lien's characters at least showed more growth than can't-get-a-lock Kim yet they choose to keep him? No character development at all in 7 years. In a short timespan Seska changed quite a bit. And she was always interesting onscreen. Kes was clearly growing and maturing as a character herself. Meanwhile Kim remained the same resident dork who still couldn't get a lock from Caretaker to Endgame. meh.

    A hello, goodbye episode. 3 stars because it did have an impact from this ep on so it makes it an important one. Hello Seven of Nine, welcome to the family :) Goodbye Kes, we loved you and miss you :(

    Along with Janeway and the Doctor I felt that Kes was the only other character generating really compelling story ideas in series 3. It's rare that I actually get irritated by an episode, but the arbitrary way Kes gets written out here is not a high point. Apart from the super-power new planes of reality ridiculousness of it all it's not even explained. What the hell IS going on here? I don't suppose we'll ever know.

    There are hints in the Seven story that this is going to become increasingly compelling, but at this point it's mostly just a shouty "return us to the Borg" type situation. 2 stars.

    The comments about the casting changes are interesting. I guess people just don't want to believe historical fact.

    They wanted to bring in Ryan, and due to budgets had to cut one of the cast. Wang was the choice (and a good one as his character as we all know was about the most generic in trek history). He got that People Mag Beautiful People mention, so they decided to keep him in hopes it gets them viewers. So, who do they release.. well, Kes was the least crucial to the show in their opinion so off she goes. I would have gassed Neelix, and I think a lot of fans would have chosen him too so the powers got it wrong on that whole thing.

    It is what it is my fellow fans.

    I do laugh how they put Seven in HEELS in the outfit in this episide. Yeah, you want her to look sexy, and she would have looked just as incredible in flats. It was so out of place to put a science officer on a starfleet vessel on a show that is part action, into heels. I think we can all agree the rest of her would have looked the same from the ankles up to the head if she were in flats so the people in charge didn't need the heels. Seemed silly to me at the time when I first saw the show, and it still seems silly now. I don't know about anyone else, I know for me that I wasn't looking at her footwear when she was on screen.

    "Closing the episode is a fabulous tracking shot of Tuvok alone in his quarters holding a candle. It's poignant and visually impressive. The special effects enhance the meaning: just one person who will ponder the fate of his friend."

    Amazing scene. I like to think that he placed the lamp against the porthole so that Kes could see its light, from wherever she was. He missed her.

    Yes, the closing shot was great. I don't always agree with Jammer, but he nailed it in every aspect of this review.

    The material with Seven was very well done. But I don't see why Lien had to leave. And it comes across as especially obvious and clumsy that Kes went kablooey, and then the very next scene, Seven's stabilized, human look (with hair and two eyes) is unveiled for the first time. Why couldn't they have both been on the show for a few more episodes, to help make it not look so blatant and obvious?

    Agree with Bryan and Nancy that skipping the Doctor's goodbye was especially uncool. Particularly since that scene of unveiling Seven heavily features the Doc, crowing about what a great job he did with her look. Jarring to see no reaction from him, given how close they had been.

    And although I'm not a woman, I agree with Nancy that the interaction between Kes and Neelix was handled well (so I guess I do disagree with Jammer on that one point). That was very realistic, I think. She is struggling to explain "it was just..." and Neelix inserted the joke about his cooking, I think, as almost a hint that he didn't really want her to spell out how it was exactly that he didn't cut it for her.

    And Nancy, I do think Voyager gets unfairly panned. I'm finding it's quite good to go through selectively, watching roughly half the episodes based on ratings here and on other sites, as well as a friend's recommendation. I imagine you've probably finished by now (three years later), and I look forward to reading your feedback on subsequent episodes. :)

    FlyingSquirrel is absolutely right that you can't find a "shark jump" moment in this show, because it was so uneven all the way through.

    I have to say I hate episodes where a character leaves by "transcending." In this case it was way too sudden, too. It should have taken at least three episodes between the time Kes got the power to warp matter and her leaving the ship. It's much easier to accept when you do things gradually.

    They had never really used her character as well as they could. Once Kes became a beautiful mature woman, I expected better storylines involving her, but not much really happened.

    I never liked this episode both because we lost Kes and because the series did such a bad job addressing the moral implications of ignoring the free will of Seven of Nine. The episode basically said that since the Federation believes that the Borg are an immoral culture then it was ok for Janeway to deny Seven of Nine the ability to make her own decisions. However this contradicts the Prime Directive which tells Starfleet that it cannot act based on judgements Starfleet personel make about a society's culture. But that is exactly what Janeway is doing. Seven of Nine is an adult, she isn't under compulsion and she is in her right mind. Janeway could not morally deny Seven of Nine the ability to choose her own fate just because Janeway viewed the Borg as immoral and didn't agree with Seven's choice to return. But that choice wasn't Janeway's to make, it was Seven's.

    I really wish it was Neelix who had been given the boot. For all the good scenes he gets, he gets 10 more that make me hate his character as Neelix is usually a very petty, insensitive and small man. His jokes miss and he doesn't have anything to contribute to Voyager's journey. The amount of energy needed to produce the agricultural products from the hydroponics bay and to teleport or transport goods from a planet's surface to Voyager is probably much greater than the energy needed to simply replicate the food.

    "Well, we know that Braga came up with the idea of a "borg babe" and we got 7 of 9 out of that "inspiration". Only 9 can remain because of funding reasons so someone has to go."

    Do you mean babe as in hot girl or babe as in baby because Voyager eventually got both. Although the baby just sort of disappears the episode after they bring it on board and is never heard of again, "maybe Ensign Wildman is taking care of her".

    The Borg baby is supervising the Equinox crew who are building shuttles for Chakotay to crash.

    You must be right. I'm watching the series for the 3rd time and I've never noticed that Seven was wearing heels!

    I've never really understood all the vitriol that Voyager gets and I think it's good entertainment. However I do have to echo some former posters' sentiments that this episode basically seemed to be about Jennifer Lien being let go. I've heard all about the by now infamous story about Garrett being the person who was originally supposed to go, but then People magazine stepped in and so forth. I've never understood why Neelix was never on the chopping block. That character was obnoxious to the point of grating every time he showed up on the screen and he was just a very annoying character in general, mean-spirited and irritating, especially in the earlier seasons, where he was practically unbearable. I'm sure Ethan Phillips is a lovely person but man I hated that character.

    Harry Kim on the other hand was an okay character imo and I've also never really gotten why he gets so much flack. I agree that his character didn't show much growth, but that seems to be the writers' and directors' fault, not Wang's or the characters. From what I heard Wang apparently clashed heads with Admiral Berman fairly early on in the series which basically sealed his fate. It's fairly easy to google and he's been very vocal about his lack of character growth. For my part I thought he did a good job with what he was given and he had good comedic timing and great chemistry alongside Paris and Torres. I've been rewatching the series and there are a lot of S1-S2 moments where him and Torres bounce off each other really well, with B'lanna affectionately nicknaming him 'Starfleet' and making fun of the fact that he's so obviously fresh out of the academy and innocent of the world, as it were. Pity they didn't show more small moments like this, but it is what it is.

    For what it's worth... I too liked Wang and what they seemed to be doing with him in the first season. But after 2 more years of basically nothing happening with him, and Kes being one of the most alien aliens that Trek ever did... I was pissed about this choice.

    And I liked Neelix.

    Overall, I don't think this winds up being anything more than a mediocre 2-plot episode mainly because the Kes transformation plot is terrible. I think Jammer sums it up well here:

    "A very big part of the problem is that the whole transformation is left so utterly inexplicable that it comes across as merely arbitrary. It happens far too quickly to be believable."

    I liked the A-plot with 7-of-9's fight to still be Borg and resist human-ness. And I also like Janeway's role here in pointing out that she's gaining individuality that she was too young to understand when she had it. I liked "The Gift" when it focused on this A-plot and absolutely couldn't stand it when it reverted back to the Kes B-plot.

    I think maybe they could have made a link back to Species 8472 as reviving this power in Kes somehow -- otherwise it is totally arbitrary. And then she hurtles Voyager however many thousand light years closer to their destination? This and the partial destruction of the ship is quite silly. Does this transformation happen to all of her species? Unanswered questions...

    Anyhow, "The Gift" is a let down after the excellent "Scorpion, Part II". Find it curious that Jammer rates them both 3 stars. I can't give "The Gift" more than 2 stars, dragged down because of the Kes transformation B-plot.

    It is notable that the character is leaving Trek and that doesn't happen often but the episode finds some contrived/arbitrary/convenient way to make her leave. Certainly does seem that the writers will have something more interesting to work with as 7-of-9 gets integrated into the crew.

    But this is a pivotal episode for VOY it seems with 7-of-9, by the end, starting to seem like she'll fit in somehow.

    { Kate Mulgrew was all-around fantastic as ship's captain and community leader. Her performance really evoked a sense of family throughout the episode, and I rather liked it. }

    Kate Mulgrew did a great job especially with how unevenly the character was written.

    I really liked Kes and I was sorry to see her go. Mostly, I liked Jennifer Lien as an actress. I just found her calm delivery to be a little bit "different" from what you usually see out of sci-fi women and I admired the confidence she showed in her character. I think it's a bit of a missed opportunity that her acting career never really took off after this because I found her quite talented.

    2.5 stars. Rather underwhelming overall

    I never became a Kes fan unfortunately during the three seasons she was on the series so I couldn't get worked up over her departure so that part of this episode did little for me--frankly the show should have gotten rid of Kim and Neelix too. But I did think the idea that her interaction with Species 8472 causing her to evolve more quickly was good. I also just hated the way the writers magically moved Voyager out of Borg territory thanks to Kes. Plus it made little sense. If she could catapult them 10000 light years why not all the way back to the Alpha Quadrant. All in all very disappointing and contrived.

    The other part of the story was okay. Worth watching once but no rewatch value. I also didn't buy the idea Seven would start rejecting her Borg technology. First we've seen Borg severed from the Collective and there wasn't such an issue. Two I find it hard to believe the Borg wouldn't have the Borg technology, that suppresses immune response and maintain implants, be designed to function independently without a link to the collective. Plus Seven having been assimilated as a small child and placed in maturation chamber should have sufficiently altered her biology to not have any rejection issues anyway. But I guess Seven being a full Borg rather than a human in a tight outfit was less appealing

    Great point by Wilt (Dec 2015) above. 7 of 9 was totally tight in her powerful "hypocritical and manipulative" remarks to Janeway ending with "you're no different than the Borg." Kate Mulgrew shines as an actress but her character plays god too much for my taste in this episode.

    I also agree with a couple of comments above about not caring that Kes left. Her character was a dud (that's on the writers) and Lien was just not a good actress, and it showed again in this episode. Something extraordinary is happening to her and she talks like an audience member listening to an opera in the VIP section, sigh.. I had no problem with her departure from the show. Just like I would have had no problem if Harry were axed also. Another sigh..

    Stellar review by Jammer.

    Side note:What happened to Lien later in life? Good grief.. Her mug shots from her arrest in Tennessee were shocking.

    This episode deserves some credit for admitting Janeway forcing change on Seven is/should be viewed as controversial but the ending has a little too much acceptance too soon from the latter (although some more cooperation, relative to her earlier attitude, was probably needed for her to be a series regular/crewmember, just a bit too fast).
    Kes had fine interactions and farewells with Tuvok and Janeway (although directly asking would you stop me from my choice was just a little too exact mirroring) but with Neelix it was so-so and it was also disappointing that the writers and characters didn't seem to care much about her relationships with the other characters.

    My main thought after watching this ep was - shouldn't Kes' gift have pushed them all the way home? There's no reason for the ship coming to a stop. There is no wind resistance in space.

    Right, so, I guess I think that the Kes stuff in this episode almost worked, but mostly fell flat. It's nice that we got some goodbyes to some extent, and the final scenes with Janeway and Tuvok were effective -- especially that rightly-praised final shot of Tuvok. The Kes/Neelix resolution didn't work as much for me and I'm sad that there wasn't more with her and the Doctor, though at least they did have a few moments together (with the "I haven't seen you much lately" moment). Mostly though Kes' transformation felt mostly arbitrary; yes her powers have been hinted at for a while, and also yes she accessed her powers more in the previous episode by telepathic communication with Species 8472, but it doesn't seem as if the events of Scorpion were sufficient to suddenly transform her so completely (and so far beyond even where Tanis was in Cold Fire). There's a bit of a Wesley-in-Journey's End vibe here, where it's clear that the transformation is happening now because the character's story is ending and that's that. On the plus side, this episode has more and better character interactions than Journey's End did, but on the minus side whereas JE had to wrap up Wesley's story in one episode given that he hadn't been on the show in two years, it doesn't seem fundamental that the writers couldn't have had Kes' powers (and her control over them) growing over the end of season three. That her powers quite suddenly become uncontrollable to the point where she phases out of space makes it seem as if they are almost imposed by an outside force, which is worrying for a number of reasons.

    I do appreciate that they paired the Kes story with the Seven one by having the two plots complement each other in some way; Janeway even lampshades it with the "I have an Ocampa who wants to be something more and a Borg who's afraid of becoming something less" line. Maybe the most important element here is that Janeway's indications to Seven that she will let Seven make her own decisions once she believes that Seven is no longer under external influence from her Borg programming/brainwashing gets bolstered by the fact that she does respect Kes' reasons for leaving. It makes Seven's plight clearer to look at the transcendence that Kes gains access to, and what Seven sees herself as losing.

    As for Janeway's behaviour toward Seven -- the way she elides Seven's wishes -- I think it makes character sense and I see Janeway's point, and Seven's as well. Jeri Ryan and Kate Melgrew sell the scenes, and there's a really interesting question here about how to deal with people who are freed from an oppressive system but don't actually want to leave. Where Janeway becomes especially frightening is when she plays Borg-esque lines -- "You must comply," "You can't resist it" -- seemingly with the express purpose of using Seven's Borg programming to bring her in line with Janeway's own thinking. It's something where the justifications Janeway can provide are understandable, but there is still an open question of whether it really is necessary to push Seven so hard against her will into accepting a life she does not want. Here I think that having other characters voice reluctance with Janeway's methods more strongly -- probably Chakotay or the Doctor -- would have made the episode stronger; I know that we're going to come back to this material and the question of what (if anything) makes Janeway's manipulation of Seven "for her own good" different from the Borg Collective, and so I don't mind that it goes unresolved, but I can't really imagine Chakotay and the Doctor *not* having stronger feelings or hesitancy or objections to what Janeway does. The ridiculous suit the Doctor cooks up for Seven (with heels!) is, I know, largely a function of out-of-universe concerns but it is a bit hard to take and it undermines the good intentions we're supposed to accept from him.

    I think I'll go with 2.5 stars on the whole. A disappointing but not terrible departure for Kes and a dramatically explosive but not wholly satisfying introduction for Seven's integration into the crew.


    'In that eventuality they could have bumped her off in the seventh year and she would have been on the show for only seven of nine seasons.'

    I see what you did there. ;)

    This episode takes place the day after 'Scorpion Pt. 2', which makes a lot of the stuff very unrealistic.

    Janeway says she doesn't want to turn around and go back to Borg territory, when they have been going for one day. I would think it would take a lot longer than that to get through Borg space. Especially since in this episode they say the Borg upgrades got them stuck at impulse only, with no warp drive. And why would the Borg have tried to upgrade Voyager, but made it so they lost warp?

    A Borg separated from the collective for one day, doesn't begin to reject all of it's implants and have it's human cells begin to regenerate and nearly die. There have been lots of Borg separated for much longer and that didn't happen. Including Seven herself in a later episode flashback.

    And according to this episode, Annika was assimilated 10 years before Picard encounted the Borg in 'Q Who'. Fishy.

    I have no problem with Janeway forcing Seven to become human against her wishes. I look at it as analogous to deprogramming someone from a cult, as we do now. Especially someone indoctrinated at a young age. They may not want it, but they don't know any better.

    Why does Kes get all of these powers all of a sudden? The other Ocampa don't. She would have known that, and the other Ocampa that we met had some mental abilities, but nothing like this. The non-explanation is quite annoying and obviously done just to get her off of the ship. Why she left IRL I have no idea, but the in-universe story is stupid.

    I'm not sure why Tuvok would try to help her with her powers, since last time they did that she melted his face off. lol.

    Kes leaving should have been a two-parter, with some reasonable explanation as to what happened. But instead, Kes doesn't know, the crew doesn't know, we don't know, the writers don't know. She just turns into some strange energy being or something for no apparent reason. Kes was one of my favorite characters, so that was lame.

    And I know Jeri Ryan is sexy and all, but that outfit is ridiculous. A skin-tight fetish suit complete with heels and a dominatrix hairdo is a bit over the top.

    2 1/2 stars.

    @Dave: "I do laugh how they put Seven in HEELS in the outfit in this episide. Yeah, you want her to look sexy, and she would have looked just as incredible in flats. [...] I think we can all agree the rest of her would have looked the same from the ankles up to the head if she were in flats so the people in charge didn't need the heels. [...] I don't know about anyone else, I know for me that I wasn't looking at her footwear when she was on screen."

    So, Dave, it's not about looking at her footwear and you're dead wrong when saying that the rest of her would have looked the same from ankles up. Heels change the way the entire body moves, including the pelvis, hips, legs, knees, feet and even the shoulders--and that in a manner that men find more attractive. More "importantly", a high heel raises the angle of a woman's buttocks by 30 to 40 degrees, which makes women look younger and again appeals more to men's visual preferences. Also, it must change the shape of the calves, right? Additionally, when women wear high heels they are creating an optical illusion that makes their legs look longer; torso to leg length ratio is yet again something that affects how attractive men perceive women.

    All that being said, I do think it's very silly that 7of9 wears high heels :D

    I liked the Kes character in the first two seasons, but then somewhere in the 3rd season, her voice and mannerisms became too 'affected' and it was strange. I don't if it was the actress or the writers that made that decision, but it made her seem like a zombie. I think her storyline was hurried due to the fact that it was Wang that was supposed to go. Not Lien.

    I agree that it’s sad when a main character leaves, but for Voyager, this one made sense. Kes was simply too powerful by this point.

    I remember something the actress of Troi said for TNG. That if Deanna was on the bridge when those folks met certain races, TNG wouldn’t have a storyline since Troi would have been able to tell everyone what was really going on.

    Same problem with Kes in this show. She could easily solve problems - like removing that Borg implant with just her thoughts. I’m not a huge fan of telepathy or telekinesis in shows, so I understood the writers changing the focus to Seven. Always love a good “figuring out humans” theme. More relatable to the viewers.

    I did love how calm and relaxed Kes was though. Was a favourite in the early episodes.

    A bit off topic, but I always found it very strange when Seven is trying to access the communications system.

    We see the bridge at red alert knowing there's a problem and where, but then we cut to Tuvok and Kes in quarters, who are still going through the motions and not hearing the red alert.
    Tuvok then contacts Security, so he's not concerned about keeping things quiet for Kes. It seems like these were supposed to be the other way round, and the editor/director didn't get the memo.

    Neelix was the obvious choice, but I guess the producer liked him. That, or the writers must have thought he was more amazing than we did. Look at all his amazing skills he has, even though Kes is the one with a photographic memory. How old is that dude if he has done so much? A bit creepy hanging around the very young woman that is Kes. A 'barely legal' one year old... which raises even more questions.

    NB: How long is a year on Ocampa? Maybe it is twenty Earth years. That's always a bit silly. The same when he estimates the age of the Kazon boy in that stupid episode as 13. How does he know the Kazon calendar? Tuvok's birthday should also fall on a different date every year, assuming that Starfleet works on the Earth Gregorian year.

    That, or every habitable planet has exactly the same duration of its orbit.

    Seven of Nine magically skips several episodes or even a whole series of progress, by suddenly being cool with freedom and silence, and even up for sex with Harry the L Fudger. (Garret Wang cannot pronounce the letter L, and one you hear it, you cannot unhear it. Very annoying, for an already annoying character.)

    Be honest - did anyone else tear up during the final scene where Tuvok leaves a candle in his window as his way of saying goodbye to his friend? One of the most poignant scenes in all of Trek and no words were needed.

    Janeway and Kes’ farewell scene is similarly heart-rending and sublimely acted.

    10/10. One of Voyager’s best episodes.

    Jennifer Lien walked into work, marched straight up to Brannon Braga and dropped him on his ass with a Stone Cold STunner. They had no choice but to fire her.

    I believe Janeway wore 4 inch heels so she was more on par (height-wise) with the men in the cast.

    On a personal note, I never got the Kes character....ever....and somehow felt the Neelix/kes relationship was just creepy. To continue the personal note, I thought 7 of 9 was a welcome addition—just overused, at times. But ‘defeating The Borg’ by ‘de-assimilation ‘ was a stroke of irony and genius.
    This episode showcased Janeway becoming what she never expected to be — the ‘single working mom’, juggling work duties and mom duties as she doggedly headed for home. While not a perfect episode by any means, Mulgrew sold the balancing act to me....

    Momofsix wrote:

    "I never got the Kes character....ever....and somehow felt the Neelix/kes relationship was just creepy. To continue the personal note, I thought 7 of 9 was a welcome addition—just overused, at times. But ‘defeating The Borg’ by ‘de-assimilation ‘ was a stroke of irony and genius."

    I'm not really sure I get her, either, but on the surface it appears that Kes was used to fulfill a sort of nerd fantasy for the audience - i.e. the goofy-looking guy with weird social skills gets the pretty girl. Sometimes I think it works okay on that level, but yes, the fact that Neelix followed Kes onboard and creeps on her relentlessly makes for a disconcerting message.

    I liked Seven as well and luckily her character was used often for some cerebral and thoughtful pieces so, at least in her case, the nerd-wish fulfillment material didn't stand out so much.

    @ Chrome,

    "on the surface it appears that Kes was used to fulfill a sort of nerd fantasy for the audience - i.e. the goofy-looking guy with weird social skills gets the pretty girl."

    Wow, that never occurred to me. Is this a theory that you think may fit the *intended* story, or do you actually perceive this vibe from the show itself? It's a hilarious theory, actually, because of all the things I've ever thought of Neelix the very furthest thing from my imagining was the idea that he was meant to be a proxy...for me! (or I guess, for an arbitrary viewer fitting the description of a nerd looking to enjoy a fantasy vicariously).

    Considering that Kes was portrayed as being like a child, and wasn't sexed up, it would be even creepier than I originally thought if she was meant to be a sort of fantasy object, especially because of the portrayal of the guy creeping on her. If that's supposed to be us then we had better rethink our collective live. Yikes!

    @Peter G.
    7 of 9 was also in a way childlike and far more sexualized but she could also kill you in a heartbeat. Is this more or less f***ed up than Kes? I'm not sure.
    She also hooked up with Cmdr Hunk.
    That leaves so many questions...

    @Peter G.

    "Is this a theory that you think may fit the *intended* story, or do you actually perceive this vibe from the show itself?"

    I don't know what the showrunners intended (and it's not like they'd admit it) but it's a topic worth considering in products predominately produced by males, for males. I also think Rom fulfills a similar role on DS9, or at least that's the best reason I can think of why they'd pair the most wormy, irritating character with the most attractive woman on the set. For some subset of fans that may not include you, this is a dream come true on screen.

    The character of Kes had been backed into a corner by seasons of myopic writing and poor priorities. She had amazing mental abilities, was young and compassionate, and had a short lived life with a unique perspective. Also, Lien was just a great actor. We saw that in War Lord. So much range.

    Unfortunately, after seasons of neglect, she became little more than a Nurse Betty, and that was a huge mistake on the part of the writers.

    Keeping Neelix or Harry over Kes was a huge mistake. Neelix was the most useless character in the history of Trek, and Kim was the most utterly mundane and boring. Kim really served no crucial purpose on the cast. And I'm sorry but he's hardly one of the most attractive men in Hollywood... bleh.

    I was sad to see Kes go and be replaced by the Seven of Nine pin-up model. She was dating Branan Bragga and got an instant in. In reality, Seven and Kes could've co-existed together, at least for a few more episodes. Kes' insane abilities that were transforming her into an evolved form a consciousness deserved more explaining before she was cast out into the universe.

    There could have been so many interesting interactions between Kes and Seven while the two were still on board. Instead, their only major interaction with Kes using her mental abilities to remove some malfunctioning hardware from Seven's brain. Whoop-dee-doo.

    Much like how Jadzia was written out in DS9, it was a very sour moment when Kes was written out and replaced with another female lead, with no proper transition time to really integrate what was happening. It just made no sense.

    The episode itself wasn't bad. We finally start to see Kes develop her powers...which we should have seen a long time ago.

    Kes in general was a bland character. She was polite and had a nice smile...she would hand the doctor the tools he needed..but there wasn't much to her. Her one interesting angle was her powers...and the show rarely explored this. Maybe her abilities would have allowed her to walk through objects which would have opened up many interesting story lines. Given that her character wasn't growing or using her powers, it was the right decision to get rid of her.

    "I've got an Ocampan who wants to be something more and a Borg who's afraid of becoming something less." - Janeway sums up this episode

    The last time I watched this episode I thought Kes got short shrift in favor of Seven, but in reevaluating this time around I thought the two plotlines were fairly well balanced. The two characters never speak to each other, but Kes saves Seven's life and prevents her from contacting the Borg, so the two storylines don't feel entirely disconnected.

    Since this is Kes's final episode as a regular cast member, I did enjoy that she got to spend time with all the characters she had the closest relationships to over the course of the series. The final scenes with the Doctor, Tuvok, Janeway and Neelix were all appreciated, even if I could wish that a bit more time was spent on Neelix and Kes's former relationship. And it seemed very appropriate to me that the final actions Kes took were to protect her friends and cut ten years off of their trip. All in all, as much as I hate to see the character go, it's not a bad sendoff. If only they hadn't botched the character in "Fury", but we'll see how that episode looks when I get to it down the road.

    I've been re-watching all of the Star Trek series while we're all stuck in our homes, and tonight just watched the first two episodes of Voyager Season 4... I remember the first time I watched these opening episodes of the season being excited over Jeri Ryan joining the cast as a freed Borg, but also disappointed that Jennifer Lien was leaving. The writers did her a great disservice by not developing properly developing her character. We've now learned in later years that the show runners simply didn't renew her contract so they could make room in the budget for Jeri Ryan. That being the case, they should have dropped Garrett Wang, as the Harry Kim character was just flat out pathetic, and Wang was a bad actor. Shame.

    To me, "The Gift" is almost "Scorpion Part III". And that's high praise, because Parts 1 and II were the best things so far on "Voyager."

    I liked it more than most of the board here. (That's not unusual -- I tend to think half a star to full star higher than Jammer and most of the crowd on at least half the shows).

    I liked the handing-off-the-baton from Kes to Seven of Nine. And I enjoyed Janeway's situation: She was reluctant to let Kes evolve and grow and yet was forcing Seven to do the same kind of thing.

    And yes, it would have been nice for Kes to have more of her final episode be about her, but I also liked the contrasting situations between her and Seven of Nine.

    To me, there was enough there for the "The Gift" to have been something of two-parter too, as others have mentioned.

    As for Garrett Wang -- I think his acting was better than the general consensus here without saying it was stellar. But then the writers rarely gave him material to work with either. He did great in "The Chute." So who knows.

    But I think People magazine made a good choice. He did look really good at the time. Very boyishly handsome.

    I HATE the Star Trek Walk-a-circle Serious Conversation^TM

    It is the absolute most ridiculous directing choice to have people conversing while walking a circle around each other. Janeway does this constantly, always talking to the back of people’s heads.

    Why are the bad episodes of Star Trek always about energy beings?

    It's like one of the biggest go-to bad plot devices of Trek, right up there with "too much interference" and "nigh-impossible ship takeover handled smoothly in 30 seconds of show time."

    Any time an energy being appears, or someone becomes one, or is becoming one, I get the sense that it's being used as an easy-out. Whatever. I do agree that Lien never sat well with me, among all the other problems I had with Seasons 1-3.

    At the time I felt like Jeri Ryan was added because of demographic concerns, and it felt really hollow to me ("What do people like more than Space Adventures?!" said Writer A, nervously brushing the cocaine from his lip, to which Writer B, his head buried in his hands in the corner, suddenly jumped up and violently screamed the reply, "TITS!!"). Looking back, though Ryan took this role straight up for realsies, and kicked it in the teeth, totally knocked it outta the park.

    I humbly stand corrected; Seven of Nine is a very thoughtfully written character a lot of the time and Ryan's acting range was and is great.

    So much bad mojo happening backstage by this point. Garrett Wang, while at a con appearance, was right on the verge of saying "Well, Jennifer [Lien] left, but of course she was having...," and then GOT CUT OFF BY THE PANEL HOST. Clearly something having to do with interpersonal relations and/or mental-substance-health. Sorta wish he'd finished that sentence.

    Notice that Voyager and its parent UPN network were trying various gimmicks at this point -- THIS is our JURASSIC PARK STAR TREK EPISODE, THIS is our WWF WRESTLING STAR TREK EPISODE, THIS is our TEENAGE Q OGLES BOOBIES EPISODE, THIS is our LUCY-LAWLESS-and-JERI-RYAN TANDEM PHOTO MARKETING CAMPAIGN, etc. -- I get the sense they were frantically trying to Rubik's Cube the show formula so as to tweak ratings. Don't neglect that S3/S4 Kes was all but cosmetically identical to Jeri Ryan (blue-silver catsuit, teased-out long hair, blonde-and-blue phenotype) at time of departure.

    Thus: the S3-S4 gap seems to have been a "quick, quick, try anything" interregnum. They were gearing up to lose Wang, and/or to lose Lien, and/or to onboard new blood, the more titillating the better. I'll point out the needlessly-obvious tidbit that Jeri entered into a sexual relationship with showrunner Brannon Braga within 18-to-24 months (...or less...) of her hire.


    This is such a weird concept to me (I’m a woman), but now that you say it, it sort of makes sense. But are there any men out there it actually works on, or is this just a reflection of Braga’s (and others) deep hatred of and disdain for male fans, that they view them as the real life equivalent of Neelix or Rom, and assume that male Star Trek fans see themselves the same way, because surely they must internalize the perceptions of alpha males? (Which I think are mostly just the delusions of the guys who think of themselves as alphas, but whatever).

    I mean even Twilight when it tried a similar thing cast Kristen Stewart as the ‘ordinary’ shy girl without much social skills, and say what you will about her, while she’s not maybe a Charlize Theron she’s definitely not an uggo.

    To even try and do a gender reversal that extreme you’d have to have Jake Sisko in the later post-puberty seasons trying to hook up with Quark’s mom or something. I…don’t think there’s any women that would actually appeal to? For so many different reasons. It’s just weird and while women might want more things from Trek I don’t think I’ve ever met any who actually wanted to see gross dorky women with poor social skills getting hot men, though now that I think about it, it would be kind of hilarious to see someone put that on screen just to watch the fallout.

    Though really, Rom is quite a step up from Neelix, who was basically the worst. The actor seemed nice enough, but the character of Neelix was horrible. The only possible vaguely rational reason I can think of for them keeping him around was that they used up all of their ability to figure out good looking alien makeup on Talaxian designs and then they were all out of good ideas so they kept him around to show off the makeup? Because that was the only positive about the character, he was their best alien design. Too bad they decided to make him a creeper who was annoying, had poor social skills, was conceited and constantly giving everybody indigestion and bad food.

    They really missed an opportunity to have the Maquis pressuring Chakotay to talk to Janeway about Neelix’s cooking or else they’d rebel. I mean….think about how messed up that is, how it makes Janeway look. Being locked in a tin can for years will be hard enough, but now you force them to have terrible food everyone clearly hates and can barely digest, and why, because Neelix wants to be the cook? Why not have some of the Maquis do the cooking? What sage advice does Neelix give about the Delta quadrant that’s worth the gastronomic torture he unleashes on the crew for years?

    "The Gift" is an enjoyable episode...I know practically nothing about the backstory of the purging of the talent beyond what some on this site have put out. If it gets into print 3 times it becomes 'true' anyway I have heard....whatever it might be.

    All that said, in 1997 terms I aver that:

    Jennifer Lien could act! Plain and dispute. "Warlord" aside, her style for Kes was quiet and dignified (to some the word 'bland' is here nastily inserted). So let's go with that...but So what?

    What I really don't see written about too much is the way Kes functioned in the series, namely as the Christine Chapel of Voyager... a caring soul who helps the ship's surgeon, has loves and likes, fears, a conscience, obsessions, insecurities, gets taken over by unseen powers and even might make soup.

    Now Kes never got to make any soup, but I think that she was otherwise functionally similar to Christine, and worked well for the show. Her love interest was ostensibly Neelix, but I think her true devotion was to the EMH and to Janeway, and both relationships produced a good many great scenes through the years. Two of those scenes appeared in The Gift and I am glad about that.

    Her apotheosis was a moving sort of tribute to a character foredoomed by circumstance.

    Apart from the childish need for charcoal-producing pyrotechnics in the corridor in the final stages of Kes' transformation, I really liked the handling of the production.

    3.5 Stars

    This is a frustrating episode. Virtually every Seven/Janeway scene is great, filled with powerful dialogue and some beautiful acting by the quick-to-impress-everyone-with-her-acting-chops Jeri Ryan.

    But then there's the Kes plot, which repeatedly gets in the way of everything else.

    Yes, it is touching watching Kes leave, and say her farewells, but there's no getting around how silly and ill-conceived her newfound "superpowers" seem.

    No amount of thematic linkages between Kes and Seven - they're becoming independent women! Yay! - can overcome the fact that's she's been turned into some kinda X-Men superhero. She's tossing starships across the galaxy, exploding bulkheads, reading minds, dissolving into pure's far too much. These cartoonish decisions undermine all the great, more subdued drama the episode effectively displays.

    On the rewatching, I have to admit that I loved the scene with Janeway and Kes when they are saying goodbye. The affection that the actors had for one another really shined through the character portrayals.

    It was really unfortunate that Kes and Seven had no interactions. Their separation was made very clear in the writing: Kes is the past and Seven is the future. I loved Seven, but it would have been so cool for her and Kes to co-exist on the same ship. The male characters (and their actors) were very stale, except for maybe Tuvok in certain episodes. Like, why did they keep Harry? Or Tom? Or Neelix, for gods sake? Chakotay was also SUCH a flat character.

    An above poster may be correct, that Lien left the show for undisclosed reasons. We may never know the real reason. All I know is that the show lost some richness with her gone. Had they utilized her better, her character could've been a power house because Lien was very talented.

    I agree, I like Kes—and Lien's subsequent bizarre behavior does make me wonder what might have happened. Sad.


    Don't you think Quinn from "Death Wish" would have made a more interesting character than Kes? I would argue that he had much more potential than the Ocampan Elf.

    @EventualZen: I don't see why it has to be either/or. Yeah, it would have been interesting to keep Quinn around, but I liked the character of Kes.

    The departure of Jennifer Lien at this point in Voyager's run is a reminder of how tough the TV/movie business can be. To have a role on a show of any prominence -- out of the thousands of applicants who show up for every casting opportunity -- is a big deal. We know Lien because of her three seasons on Voyager.

    At roughly the same time, she was doing a voice for "Men In Black - The Series" but that ran out in 2000 just as her role as Kes was brought to a close. After that, according to IMDB, she did a voice for a video game and appeared as a nurse in the very obscure "Accidents Don't Happen" in 2001. And that's it.

    In effect, leaving Voyager has marked the end of her career. It's Hollywood, chewing through talent with mercenary insensitivity. The few we know well are the miniscule exception to the rule. And given some inklings that Lien had more than just the voice for which she is best known, it's a shame she didn't find more work.

    As to this episode -- the great transition of Voyager -- I suggest THE iconic scene is the next to last when the tracking shot gives us "SEVEN OF NINE" *in the silver suit* with the residual Bog implants and the look by which Trek fans know "Seven." And yes, she's in something like 4 inch heels. It's the business of illusion after all.

    Jeri was about 29 or 30 when she emerged in this role. She'd been knocking around with a smattering of projects for 8-9 years before Voyager. "Seven" was her break. She went on to have a major role in "Boston Public," and a fair amount of work in "Shark" and "Body of Proof," along with other projects. (She has 58 acting entries on IMDB.) Most recently, she's been tearing it up on "Star Trek: Picard" Now in her mid-50s she continues in demand, and it is even rarer for a woman in Hollywood not just to have any kind of career but also one that spans decades like that of Ms. Ryan.

    (By the way, she's great. I had the pleasure of trading a couple of Twitter messages with Jeri a few years ago and she came across as more than gracious.)

    It is really weird to read a Jammer review written back in the day, particularly one like this considering it was the end of the character Kes and the effective demise of the actresses career, and the birth of Seven and Ryan's signature role.

    Personally I never much cared for Kes, who literally spent screen time watering crops. And her relationship with Neelix... sheesh. A minute of screen time a season for that relationship was too much.

    Regarding the actress Lien... I have no ill will to her at all. Not sure what else to think. It's a very difficult business. Maybe 1 in 1,000 eek out a living, 1 in 100,000 do well, I don't know.

    Like many, I am not crazy about the whole "transformation into a higher life form" plot that recurs often enough to be a trope. All the more so in this case because it seemed to come from out of left field. At least TNG'S Wesley Crusher's ascent to a higher plane of existence had been kind of predicted by The Traveler practically from the start of the series.

    It's funny how the "transformation" trope always seems to include everyone from the transforming character's ordinary life trying to hold them back, failing to understand how wonderful the transformation is. I can't help but think the writers keep intending it as an allegory for their parents haranguing them to put aside that unfinished screenplay and major in something that could land them a "real" job.

    What did Kes inject herself with Omega Particles or something? Are we supposed to seriously believe that her "enhanced mental abilities" flung a starship 10,000 light years across the galaxy. Seriously WTF was this? Just when we thought the best season couldn't be any stupider. So 1 session with Tuvok and she goes from making coffee boil over to seeing the ship into a quantum slipstream or whatever and then just magically turning into pure energy, only to later merge with the warp core and travel back in time? Thos episode makes threshold win an academy award.

    In the company of friends I revisited the episode for the first time since the date of my earlier review (Aug. 5, 2021). The interaction wherein Kes magically dissolves a Borg implant causing Seven to have protracted grand mal seizures, had left my memory. It was an important, albeit bizarre incident. The closing scene with Tuvok was really one of the most poignant in the series. It is worth viewing on its own, and McCarthy's scoring of it works extremely well.

    Distant Origin theory: the Ocampans are related to that TNG guest character - the one who caught Beverly’s eye with his tight white pants prior to exiting as a ball of light.

    I agree with (almost) everyone about this episode: the Seven/Janeway conflict was beautiful and powerful. Really a standout episode. It completely overpowers the Kes departure plot - which was fine but rushed, and played up the missed potential of her character.

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