The following is a SPOILER Review. If you have not seen the episode yet and do not want to have the plot (and everything else) given away, stop reading now. (But you probably know that by now.)
I reserve the right to be wrong, and to change my mind later. The following is my opinion at the moment I wrote it. Think of it as a tall tale told around a campfire. So snuggle close and perk them ears, 'cuz Uncle Jim's got a story for you. "A long time from now, in a quadrant far, far away...."
Have you ever watched It's a Wonderful Life backwards? "Every time a tricorder chirps, an angel gets long hair."
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
"Activate the bio-temporal chamber." We hear the familiar voice in the blackness of infinity, a distant sound we ache to draw closer. The camera complies; a moment later a flash of whiteness resolves into the well-known confines of sickbay--and an unknown young face furrowed with concern. "Is she going to be all right?" the boy asks.
"Not if you don't all clear out of here and let me do my work," the familiar voice says. The camera pans clockwise, centering on two figures in the black-and-aqua (or so it looks on my television) tunics of Starfleet Medical. The young woman we don't know. The tall man who belongs to the familiar voice, we do. It is Holodoc.
Only with more hair. Apparently the negotiations to give Shatner's "Captain's Rug" a cameo were successful.
"She's my mother. I'm staying," the young woman says. Doc, addressing someone unseen, says it's a delicate procedure. Another familiar voice speaks. "The Doctor's right. Let's let him do his work." The daughter nods and soon Doc is alone with his patient, whose labored breaths are audible. Doc's demeanor is softer than usual, slightly less arrogant, several notches less gruff. Add the hair to that, and I hardly recognized him.
He circles around the medical bed and is soon hovering (we assume) near the face of his patient. He smiles kindly. "I wish I'd told you this before, but better late than never. You're the finest friend I've ever had." He lets the smile linger for a moment, then instructs his unseen assistant to prepare to bring the bio-temporal chamber online in approximately five minutes.
Wait a minute. Didn't we just hear him say, in the inkiness of oblivion, "Activate it"? Have we jumped backward in time? Nah, couldn't be. That only happens...
The lights flash again--an eye-searing whiteness, which fades to reveal a woman on a biobed--not the bio-temporal chamber, which is visible a few feet away--breathing with effort. The young boy we saw earlier has entered sickbay, timidly asking if "Grandma" is awake. He is holding a small, green-wrapped object, roughly the size of an Ace Award. "I brought you a present." He rests the gift on the table above an old woman's bed.
"Grandma Kes?" he asks again, and the old woman awakens. She appears disoriented. She looks at the boy with no hint of recognition. Her eyes widen.
So do mine; this is Kes? She looks like Mother Theresa.
As I was saying. That only happens in Star Trek.
* * *
The boy, who appears to be about 10 (human) years old, with darker features (begging the question of who his parents are--my first guess is Tuvok) speaks softly. "I finally finished it. I'm sorry it's late, but I wanted to get it right."
"I don't know you," Grandma Kes says, her voice slowed with age and infirmity. "What do you mean? I'm Andrew, your grandson." Kes repeats: "I don't know you." Her tone implies that she doesn't want to, either. She lays back in the bed and stares at the ceiling, her head shaking (as much an involuntarily tic as a shake of rejection). Andrew, concerned and a little hurt, calls for Dr. Van Gogh.
Holodoc emerges quickly from his adjacent office. ("Van Gogh"? I looked carefully; both of his ears are intact.) He asks what's wrong, and Andrew says she doesn't recognize him. Doc comes to Kes and asks how she's feeling. She demands (weakly) to know where she is. "You're in sickbay," he says. This seems to tell her nothing. "Do you know who I am?" he asks.
No, she says. This word is like a wound. Doc's kindly face falls; he hangs his head, squeezing his eyes shut at his friend's worsening condition.
She looks at him a bit harder. "Yes," she says, and he brightens instantly. "I've seen you before." He asks if she knows his name. "The boy...he called you Dr. Van Gogh." Doc is pleased, though the boy--her grandson Andrew--is still frowning, since she has yet to call him by name, much less recognize him. "You said I was your finest friend," she adds, her words slow to be uttered, as if pulled individually from a distant dictionary and hand-carried to her mouth.
Doc looks a tad embarrassed. "I'm not sure I've ever said that exactly--but that doesn't mean it's not true." He smiles to let her know it is true.
"How can I be your friend?" Kes asks, her voice a plea. "I don't know you!" Doc asks her to tell him what she does remember. She describes being surrounded by people--the boy, a young girl, the Doc. She remembers the bio-temporal chamber. "Good," says Doc.
"I was inside it," Kes says. Not so good, thinks Doc. "We've discussed the possibility, but we haven't been ready to try the experiment yet," he says. He asks if she can remember anything about her life. Frankly, she cannot. What she can remember, nobody else can. They seem to be coming from opposite directions, meeting up at a point in time with no common frame of reference. (What is the grammar for time travel, anyway? As Douglas Adams surmises, the hardest part about mucking around with the space-time continuum is keeping tenses straight when describing your exploits.)
Kes lays back on the bed, preferring not to speak anymore. Doc takes Andrew aside and instructs him to bring the rest of his family. Andrew nods and rushes toward the door. He is met by Chakotay, who asks what he's doing running around at high impulse. Andrew, calling him Captain, apologizes and says he has to go. So he does, and the door slides shut behind him.
Chakotay asks Doc for a status report. The prognosis isn't good, he says; she has near total memory loss now, a mere 1% of her "engrams" still intact. Captain Chakotay asks if this is normal, and Doc admits that he has no idea--he's never treated a nine year-old Ocampa before. (Welcome to the future, folks! If this conversation is to be believed, we're approximately 6 years ahead of where we were when the last episode, "Favorite Son," aired. It would appear that there have been some changes....)
Chakotay frowns. "It's hard to believe this is the same woman who performed microsurgery on my elbow just a few weeks ago." Apparently when it's an Ocampa's time to die, they waste no time. Doc says it may be a perfectly normal part of the aging process; he calls it (and apparently he got the term from Kes; it sounds like "Elogium") the Morilogium, and it seems to have set in only recently. But when it does, an Ocampa's days are numbered, perhaps in the single digits.
As Kes sleeps, Chakotay and Van Gogh discuss their options. The only good one seems to be the bio-temporal chamber, which they walk toward. Doc wishes he had more time to test it before using it on his friend, but there is just no time. Chakotay notes that the family has already given their consent to try the procedure, and it has the potential to give Kes another year of life. The captain suggests they proceed immediately.
Kes awakes, and cries out. "I'm cold!" she shouts, and Doc is by her side immediately. Chakotay demands to know what's happening; Doc says she's lost two degrees of body heat, and is down to 14.8 degrees (Centigrade, I hope). While Kes repeats her moaned, "I'm cold," Doc says she's showing signs of bio-temporal flux--which is crazy, since he hasn't put her in the chamber yet. (Ah hah! That's the sound of a piece clicking into place.)
"I'm cold," she says. The lights go bright.
Kes wakes up in bed. Not a bio-bed this time. The lights are out, and she seems to have a bit more vigor now. She practically bolts upright. She slides her feet over onto the floor; the effort winds her a bit. She notices a framed photo by the bedlight. She picks it up--it's a young woman with thick and wavy blonde hair, holding a newborn infant. From the look on her face, she doesn't recognize the woman or the child. She stands and moves toward the door, pausing when she passes a mirror. She holds her face in her hands, apparently shocked by the wrinkles and signs of aging she sees there. (I have a question about this, but will hold it until the Analysis.) While she looks at her reflection, she hears some by-now familiar voices. Andrew, who is almost done wrapping the present, and the young woman who argued with Doc back in the Teaser, who is apparently Andrew's mother. He still feels a bit guilty, he says, for not having it ready in time for her party, but she assures him Grandma will think it was well worth the wait.
Kes appears in the doorway. Andrew begs her not to look or she'll ruin the surprise. Andrew's mother asked if she had a nice nap. Kes is disoriented, staring out the window to the field of stars. She looks at the young woman--appearing maybe 22 in earth years--and flatly states, "I don't know who you are." But she does know Andrew. She calls him by name, kneels beside him, and starts shooting questions at him. Questions he doesn't have answers for. He looks concerned, and a little scared. Andrew's mom tells her to get his dad and Grampa, and he wastes no time complying. A trail of dust is kicked up in his wake--no small feat on a Starship.
The young woman says they should go to sickbay. Kes' face brightens at the familiar word. "I remember that place; I was just there." The young woman asks when; "just a few minutes ago." The young woman says Kes hasn't been there since she stopped working the week before. "Working?" Kes asks; yes, the woman replies. "You were one of the ship's doctors. I work there too."
Kes asks, "Who are you?" The young woman, pained by the words but steeled by her medical training, answers calmly. "I'm your daughter. Linnis." (Thank you, Script Boy, for naming guest characters early in the show this week. Maybe, while you're at it, you can name some of the major line-speaking polygamous cannibal guest babes from "Favorite Son" whose names were never mentioned onscreen. Grumble.) Linnis puts her arm protectively around her mother and leads her towards sickbay.
On the way, Kes mentions the only memories she seems to have. None are memories that Linnis shares. Kes remembers being in the bio-chamber; Linnis knows that hasn't happened yet. Kes remembers Andrew handing her a present; Linnis reminds her that the boy hasn't finished wrapping it yet. Kes is insistent, but so is Linnis--she has her mother's velvet-gloved steel--and she does her best to both calm and reassure her mother. But for answers, they need to get to sickbay.
<p tone="rant">(By this point, I'm wondering how much longer they'll pound the week's plot into our heads. If I may mention my chief gripe, "belaboring the obvious" is one recurring weakness in Voyager's writing. I do it too...but I don't get paid, and my work isn't seen weekly by millions of people whose intelligence I'm underestimating.)</p>
In sickbay, Doc examines her. He notes that 98% of her memory engrams have been lost already (to them, a significant loss; to the Kes we're seeing, it's a 100% improvement from her prior 99%-plus loss). "I've been expecting this," the doctor says. "The onset of the Morilogium?" Linnis asks. Kes says the word as a question, her voice tired and weak. "The final phase of the Ocampan lifespan," Linnis says. "I'm dying?" Kes asks.
Doc gives her a sincere, reassuring gaze. "Not if I can help it." He speaks as friend as well as doctor. "What do you mean?" Linnis asks. (Hey, leave the confusion to Kes, kiddo...)
At this moment, the men of the Kes clan enter.
And Harry Kim.
Let's play "Name that spouse."
Tom approaches Kes and says It's Me. She gives him a blank stare. "Tom...your husband." (That must mean Harry's the husband of Linnis and father of Andrew. Which means Harry is also Tom's son-in-law. You can put the programs down now and pay attention to the compelling human/Ocampan drama, already in progress.) Kes looks at Tom in non-recognition, and soon retreats into the soft words and warm hands of someone she knows (if only barely), Linnis.
Tom asks Doc how she's doing. Not well, says Doc; she's slipping fast, and has a few weeks at best. He tells Paris of the bio-temporal procedure he's working on, which could time-travel her cells back about a year (likely as far as he dares take them), which could give her a few extra months. However, it's highly experimental, and almost completely untested. Linnis objects to the procedure--her mother has always known and accepted that she would live only nine years. She objects to any "extraordinary efforts" to prolong her mother's life. Tom tells his daughter he isn't ready to lose Kes yet, and even if it could give her an extra day, he's willing to consider it. Harry approaches Linnis, his voice a bit too deliberately soothing, and says if she were in Kes' position he'd consider it as well.
The Ocampa women may have no problem with a nine-year life-span, but the men who love them would dearly love to extend that if at all possible. I certainly understand that desire. Kes may be dying of old age and surrounded by an adult daughter and adolescent grandson, but her husband and son-in-law look virtually identical to the Paris and Kim we saw way back in Stardate 50700 (that's six years previously). In fact, aside from Holodoc's new hair, pretty much everyone looks the same--aside from the upgraded rank insignia--Harry's now a full Lieutenant, and Paris is a Lieutenant Commander. And Chakotay's not only wearing Captain's pips, he's finally divested himself of that Maquis rank insignia and given himself an official Starfleet promotion. (About dang time, sez I.)
While everyone around her argues, Kes finally puts her foot down and demands attention. She is willing to accept the Morilogium and amnesia, but she still wants answers concerning the memories she knows she experienced--recently. Being in the bio-temporal thingie. Waking up in her quarters. Seeing things before they could have happened. Doc tries to tell her it could be a delusion; Kes insists she isn't. Andrew jumps to her defense; "she's the smartest person I know," he says.
Her friends and loved ones look on in shocked concern as Kes begins to shiver. "I'm cold," she moans again in a case of vuja de (the odd feeling that what just happened, happened just a few minutes ago, in the not-too-distant future). Doc notes she's just dropped a few degrees in temperature.
Here we go again....
A flash of light, the rumble of cymbals, and we--fast forward, to the past. And a birthday party, complete with Neelix's trademark blue-marble Jiballian fudge cake and the collectively-sung (and hopefully public domain, unlike "Happy Birthday to You,") "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow." Neelix is carrying the cake, wearing a new (to us) Starfleet uniform. He's followed by a smiling Andrew, who is soon grabbed and held close by a paternal Harry Kim, who also hugs his wife Linnis to him. It's a festive crowd; as one of the ship's doctors, and knowing her in her younger days, we can expect she'd be popular, and that her birthday party would be well attended since it will more than likely be her last.
Kes is held by Tom Paris, though she still doesn't seem comfortable with that. She looks a bit better than she did a few minutes ago (how far into the future that was, I would hesitate to guess--a few days at the very least). But she's still not quite used to all these quantum leaps.
"Make a wish," Neelix urges jovially.
"Oh boy," Kes says.
* * *
Neelix prompts her to blow out the candles, which she does in the first blow. The crowd applauds. Neelix says "it's good to see that old lung is still working, Kessy." ("Kessy?" Somebody shoot him. Now.) Tom hugs her. "Happy birthday, sweetheart," he says, and kisses her on the side of her head.
Neelix comments, while cutting the cake, that he hasn't made one of these since he became a security officer. "Perhaps you would care to relinquish your commission and return to the scene of your--former triumphs," Tuvok says, eyebrows churning. There is laughter all around at that. "You keep working on that sense of humor, Commander Vulcan," Neelix retorts easily (he must have had plenty of practice the past six years, his confidence level is at an all-time high), and Chakotay guffaws. "You'll get it one of these days." Chakotay's the only one laughing, but he's laughing freely--the sound is reminiscent of Kirk's after McCoy has zinged Spock particularly well. For his part, Tuvok accepts the zing and the laughter with Spock-like fatalism, playing the wounded martyr, but already planning his next riposte.
Neelix hands the cake to Kes. "Jiballian fudge; your favorite," he says. He speaks with ease and a little nostalgia--which she doesn't share. They have had nine years with her, but she's had barely twenty minutes of conscious existence with them. She stares at him blankly.
She sees Andrew, the one truly familiar face to her in the room now. She calls to him; he hesitates, but comes over. He apologizes for not having a present, but he thinks he has an idea for one. She smiles warmly and tells him it'll be worth the wait. This Kes is quite a bit stronger than she was a moment earlier in sickbay; her voice is unwavering, her step is vigorous, and her thoughts are more intact. She asks him to "talk to grandma" for a while, and she seems to know that she'll need to phrase her questions carefully so as not to scare the little tyke.
(He can't be, what, more than six months old in Ocampa years? Kes was not quite a year old when we met her, and she looked past her jail-bait years, if only barely. Andrew is taller than Kes and quite well-spoken, but clearly hasn't hit puberty yet. Sorry if I'm obsessing about this, but it seems important--this episode appears to be trying to answer a lot of questions I've had about the Ocampa circle-of-life, and raise a few as well.)
Kes asks what Andrew was doing just before he came here. In Engineering, he says, working on his physics lesson. (Physics, at his age? Ack. Them Ocampa is smart.) "And you came directly here?" she asks. "No, I came and brought you here. Don't you remember?" He grows immediately concerned.
Doc intervenes, scolding Andrew playfully for monopolizing his grandmother's time when there are so many others hoping to wish her happy birthday. (I noticed he's not wearing his portable holo-emitter--I'll save that question for later.) Andrew takes the hint and makes a beeline for the cake, practically knocking Grampa Tom and several other Starfleeters to the floor on the way. Tom just smiles, just like a grampa. (Poppa Harry is less amused; he sets his phaser on "go to your room," and fires. The cake hovers out of Andrew's hands and splats right in his face. Tuvok falls down giggling.)
Meanwhile, Kes asks Doc to consider some questions, and not to prejudge her. He seems taken aback that she'd even consider him capable of
"Just promise me!" she insists. Surprised by her vehemence, he immediately promises. Slowly but steadily, she recounts the events she's experienced recently. He seems skeptical, but when she mentions the bio-temporal chamber, he reacts. "How did you know about that?" he demands. "You told me!" She says. "I just came up with the idea this morning!" he protests. "I've been in it already," she counters. He may have his doubts, but her knowledge (and naming) of something he hadn't told anyone about yet--it was to be his surprise birthday present to her--is enough to persuade him that she is undergoing something odd, that deserves to be looked into further.
In sickbay, Doc finishes his analysis as Tom and Chakotay look on. "She's lost more than 95% of her memory engrams," Doc reports (she's making progress...) Paris asks if it's the onset of Morilogium, but Doc has no idea; there are no other Ocampans on board (purebreds, at any rate, suggesting her offspring may well live longer) for comparison.
Kes, for our benefit, once again recounts the events so far, using Andrew's birthday present as the measuring stick. "Sounds like you're experiencing events in reverse," Tom says. Chakotay asks, using the more technical term, "temporal paradox," (hey, there's that "temporal" term again) if this could be what Kes is experiencing.
Doc suggests a more standard (in Trek terms) condition: precognition, "like the Yattho of the Beta Quadrant" (guess where the next Trek series will be set) who can predict the future with uncanny accuracy. Or the Wormhole creatures of DS9. Or even Q, who simply cheats by visiting the future to hedge his bets. Paris points out that she's shown other impressive mental feats in the past: telepathy, telekinesis, etc. Chakotay suggests Doc look into that precognition thing, while he and Paris check for temporal anomalies.
Kes, wanting to help herself, suggests she play a little This Is Your Life. She wants to look up her medical records, personal logs, the interminable interviews on A Briefing With Neelix, wedding albums, etc. and fill in the blanks. Doc looks at her and says, "you may have lost your memories, but your determination is still fully intact." He regards her as any proud poppa would.
Tom enters a not-fully-darkened room. Kes is busy scanning one datapad after another. "Hi," he says easily. "Oh, hello," she says formally. Paris, forgetting that this Kes is not the one he's been growing old with, puts on his brave face.
"How's it coming?" he asks. "I've led a busy life," she notes. "It's hard to know where to start." She asks about his efforts; he says they came up blank. He picks up a padd. "Hey, your initial medical exam," he says, remembering aloud that when she first came aboard, he had an instant crush. "I tried to hide it, but Neelix knew, and boy could he get jealous," he recalls with a smile.
"Neelix?" she asks, a bit blankly. "You don't remember?" Tom asks. "You two were -- involved -- for quite a while." He coughs and picks up another padd. "Your first prenatal exam, when we listened to Linnis' heartbeat. That was quite a day." He is torn between the memories, his love for Kes, and the realization that the woman standing here doesn't share either the memories or the affection. She's too wrapped up in finding answers about herself. She's existed in this reverse state for a very short time, and is still learning how to interact with others. She's already getting set for her next jump, it would seem. Paris must suffer silently in the presence of this stranger in the body of his beloved wife.
Kes asks about something on another padd--radiation poisoning on stardate 50973. This memory brings a cloud of pain to Paris' face. "That was the beginning of the Year of Hell," he says. It was a year of almost constant attacks by a race called the Krenim. "We almost lost the ship, the Doc was offline for months, and we did lose a lot of good people." He names three folks we know: Captain Janeway. Joe Carrey, one of the few people left in Engineering from the first season. And B'Elanna (Torres--one of the other few people left in Engineering from the first season), whose last name he doesn't bother to mention. We know her all too well.
Kes doesn't. "B'Elanna," she says, no recognition in her voice. Paris sighs heavily. He tells Kes he keeps forgetting she doesn't have these memories anymore. "B'Elanna was...she was someone who was very special to me. When she died, I felt like I wanted to die, too. But you...you helped me through it." He reaches out to gently hold her cheek, seeking (I'm sure) once again the practically bottomless compassion Kes is capable of, the Kes who helped him get over B'Elanna, the Kes who bore him a daughter and has been his dearest love for nearly six years.
She recoils from him, inhaling sharply. He draws his hand back as if he'd placed it in the path of a plasma leak. The grieving husband apologizes profusely.
"No, it's not your fault, you've done nothing wrong," Kes insists, though her voice is formal, and her shields are at maximum as she sits ramrod straight. This is, after all, a woman who is either dedicated to someone utterly, or not at all. She has always been internally consistent on this matter; when she's sworn allegiance, it's for life. Assuming a life-altering event doesn't come around.
"You don't remember any of our life together," Paris asks. "That's okay; I've got enough feelings for both of us." This is certainly a different Tom Paris from the one who had a crush on her in the beginning.
"Maybe the feelings I had for you will come back," Kes says. Her head is slightly lowered; her eyes closed; her tone suggests she's trying to mean it. (And I thought the time-travel aspects of this episode were complex.) She says nothing further, and she reaches for another padd, indicating her fervent desire to change the subject.
Paris, swallowing his hurt, obliges. His voice is stronger, all business. "You were asking about the radiation poisoning." He explains that the Krenim used a chronoton (from the root word Kronos, meaning Klingon--no wait, that's Q'onos. Kronos is the Greek root word for time, similar to the Latin tempus. Kronos is also a really cool Mexican vampire movie involving mechanical scarabs. Where was I? Oh yes...a "chronoton") torpedo, which used temporal witchery to penetrate the shields.
At the words "constant state of temporal flux," Paris looks at Kes. Another piece clicks into place. He drags her to sickbay. On the way, Kes' medical mind starts thinking about what they should scan her for, if she's infected with chronoton particles. She gets the word "residual" out.
In mid-sentence, she gets a sudden chill, followed by the familiar flash of light. A much weaker flash of light follows, along with the instruction to say Cheese. Kes finds herself holding and looking lovingly at an infant. Kes is wearing a red dress, and sporting shoulder-length, reddish-blonde hair. She also looks much younger. Old enough to be Linnis' sister, but nowhere near old enough to be a grandmother.
Just like the photo the almost-dead Kes saw in her quarters not so long ago, about eight months in the future. Or so I'd guess.
The light belonged to proud poppa, Harry Kim, sporting a 24th-century Polaroid. He's flanked by his wife Linnis and his father-in-law, Tom Paris. They rush up to her and show her the image, which Kes looks at with a start. It's the very same picture. "He has your nose, mother," Linnis says, beaming with motherly pride.
"How does it feel to be a grandfather?" Harry asks, digging at his best friend. "A lot better than
it does having you for a son-in-law," Tom grumbles good-naturedly. They share a chuckle.
What's the date? Kes asks. Harry, a bit confused, answers: 56947. "More than six months," Kes mutters. Everyone immediately gets concerned; when Gramma Kes gets like this, it's for a reason. She could melt someone's brain or something because she feels old. Everyone looks at her, unsure what's happening; Kes takes Tom by the hand and insists they go to sickbay immediately.
I'll play Nitpick Boy for a moment. Between 48921 and 49011, Kes celebrated her second birthday ("Twisted" didn't have a stardate attached to it, that I could find.) This puts Kes' actual birthday somewhere around stardate 47000, if you split the difference and round down. If you do the math Kes just gave, her last breath comes sometime after Stardate 57500. This would make her 10.5 years old as the starship flies.
Perhaps we'd best employ Roddenberry's First Corollary to Einstein's theory of relativity. "Do the math. If it computes, cool. If not--just as cool." Do whatever suits you to massage the numbers: employ the "Ocampa/stardate conversion chart" so a standard Stardate year is slightly shorter than an Ocampa year; or perhaps the stardate Delta of 1000 is not quite a standard EARTH year either. To support this, consider that when they picked up Kes, the stardate was sometime after 48315. In a 1000=1 year formula, Kes would be a little over a year old, say a year and three and a half months. But she was actually a little less than a year old at the time.
Roddenberry's Second Corollary: "Never let the facts get in the way of a good story." They do the best they can. Some things get established very early in a series that can come back to haunt them later. They can tear their hair out worrying about it, or they can just get on with the story, and hope not too many people will care. It's alright to notice, but if it gets in the way of your enjoyment of the story--you're in dire need of a vacation. Or a life. Take your pick.
And since I've yammered on for a few pages about this now...I'll take my own advice as soon as I've posted this. A seat at Grosse Pointe Blank is calling my name.
We now return to the story.
In Sickbay (the stage of choice for this episode) Kes gives the short version of the story. She says she's jumped a total of five times so far, and the jumps have varied in elapsed (or is it prelapsed?) time, "once a couple of weeks, the last over six months." (The first few, it seemed, were even shorter--a matter of minutes. Imagine dropping a rubber ball off a tall building, and filming the whole thing from initial plummet to final resting place. Now, play it backwards. The first few hops are going to be very small, but soon you're getting some serious height until the last bump is the biggest one.) Kes says her biggest challenge has been jumping involuntarily before she can get people to listen to her.
The doc, still with his new hair, seems to corroborate her story. He finds chronoton particles in her system, and she's living backwards in time--with brief rest stops along the way. Paris wonders how that could be; they were all inoculated more than three years earlier. Kes and Doc say the bio-temporal chamber is the likely culprit; it activated the particles still inside her, and caused her life to go into rewind.
This would appear to call for a staff meeting.
The details are recounted yet again (thankfully, most of the ones we've heard are shared offscreen) and the implications are considered. Doc says the initiating event was probably the combination of the long-forgotten chronoton particles and the "ingenious" bio-temporal chamber his future self creates to prolong Kes' life. By becoming unstuck in time, Kes Pilgrim is finding herself in a position where her future is her friends' past. Worse, says Doc, if the chronoton particles are not utterly purged from her, there will come a time when she will jump back to a time before she existed. Shades of TNG's "All Good Things" on a personal scale. Not only would this be bad for Kes, it will also result in a timeline in which she never existed, and though that's acceptable in abstract theory, when you have a real name and face and experiences to consider never having, it becomes serious. Especially since Kes has saved the ship and several of the crewmens' lives over the years. And the reverse-engineered Kes has had effects on this crew that they don't even know about yet.
* * *
Captain's log, stardate 55836.2. For two days Kes has stayed with us. We won't rest until we find some way to help her.
Kes and Linnis are in sickbay. Linnis is doing most of the work; Kes still lacks those memories. She notes with growing maternal pride that her daughter is very good at her job. "I had a good teacher," Linnis says.
"Dr. Van Gogh?" asks Kes.
Kes thanks her for her help, but sounds sorry that she's taking Linnis away from her newborn son. Linnis admits that she's more comfortable with a molecular scanner in her hand than with a diaper (but then, who among us isn't?). She says Harry's the doting parent--always holding and singing to baby Andrew. She doesn't quite know what to do with the kid.
Kes starts to say something, but Doc comes in and says he has an idea for holding her here--a containment field. It's great news, she says, and follows Doctor Van Gogh to the other room. But not before peeking her head at Linnis. "I've seen how Andrew turns out. You're going to be a great mother." Linnis takes comfort in this.
Safely behind the containment field, Kes paces while Doc notes the readout on his monitor. Paris enters the room, looking pensive. Trying to sound upbeat, he says he thought she could use some company. She says she feels like she's stuck in a cage. She refers to Dr. Van Gogh.
"I thought you settled on Mozart," Paris says. Doc shrugs. "Apparently my interest in the great figures of art and culture will be an ongoing process," he says.
"Well--Vincent," Paris continues. "Um...how about letting me inside this thing?" Doc says it wouldn't be advisable. He and Kes both look disappointed. Doc leaves to do some more study.
Paris leans against a panel and asks if she'd like to hear another installment of (as Paris calls it) "Tom and Kes: The Early Years."
"I'd like that," Kes says. This Kes, a mere 8.5 years old, seems a tad warmer.
Paris relates the tale of their wedding reception. Harry, his best man, got so nervous during his speech he spilled champagne over his dress uniform. He laughs, and so does Kes. He stops laughing and looks at her strangely. She asks what it is.
"At the time...I thought that was the happiest day of my life. But every day just got better and better."
"It means so much to have you here now," she says, and she genuinely seems to mean it. Her eyes radiate warmth.
Linnis rushes into the containment room with news; she may have found something significant. Doc rushes in to ask what it is. Linnis says she's been doing studies on some of the other infected crewmembers, and--
Alarms go off. Kes' temperature, as before, is dropping. She starts to shiver. Doc tells Linnis to monitor the containment field while he warms her up; he steps through the invisible field (which appears only while he's walking through it) and gives her a hypospray.
It doesn't seem to be working.
What happened in those other timelines when the flash of light caught Kes in a temporal backwash? We see it here. She begins to fade, much like Marty McFly in Back to the Future. In fact, that's probably a real good memory to recall here. Since she's traveling backwards in time, she's ceasing to exist from this point in history on. We didn't get to see what happened in the last weeks of Kes' life, but it's likely similar to this: Kes simply vanishes, leaving behind those who remembered her, wondering what the heck just happened. In most of the timelines before now, it's likely they didn't have all the answers. In this timeline, they know too much. The parting will be painful, especially for Tom.
He reaches to her; she reaches for him. The barrier separates them like a gulf. He can only stare in anguished terror as she fades into oblivion. Their eyes lock one final time, and in that instant Kes seems to catch up with the lifetime of love she and Tom have shared.
Good thing, because when the light that claimed her yet again finally fades, her hands are tied. Literally. She's standing upright, her hands are tied by ropes to the ceiling of (I"m guessing here) a shuttlecraft, and Paris is standing behind her. Telling her to keep pushing; the "sac" is almost out. We can guess what's happening here. She hasn't yet, and she's justly scared out of her wits.
Given Paris' hand position, apparently Ocampa women's birth canal analogue is located somewhere in the upper back. I'm not even going to ask...but it does make ballroom dancing sound a whole lot more interesting.
This is a heck of a way to be welcomed into a new timeline. She's a bit disoriented. "What's happening? Where am I?" she screams between labor pains. "Exactly where I told you not to be; on a shuttlecraft!" He's giddy with happiness at the thought of becoming a father, but he's also a bit short with her (and you thought Keiko was a scary mother-to-be when Worf birthed her baby.) She insisted on coming on this supply mission, he says, and she was in no condition to do so. She says she wants to speak to the doctor. He laughs; "it'd be nice if he were still around."
Kes continues to sweat, shout and grimace, yelling imprecations at Paris' heritage while he coaxes her through the final moments of the process. Some slurping sounds come from behind her. Soon, the baby is out, and Kes is almost instantly as good as new. (An interesting race, these Ocampa.)
As they wrap up the baby, Kes gives her the name she knows: Linnis. They gurgle over her a bit. Tom tells Kes how much he loves her. He helps her to a seat, where she cradles Linnis. She tells him she has something to tell him.
Events, as usual, conspire against her. The shuttlecraft's panel buzzes in alarm. Paris runs to it and says that Voyager is under attack.
Soon, the shuttle is flying through some serious weapons fire from Voyager. Good thing Paris is a great pilot. Voyager, its saucer sections partially exposed to the vacuum of space in several places, looks like Hell.
Guess what year this is.
Neelix welcomes them aboard with a quick "Congratultions." He's wearing his Starfleet uniform. As they crawl through the debris and death of what were once sparkling clean corridors, Neelix tells Paris that Chakotay wants him to go to the weapons array and adjust the targeting scanners to a parametric frequency, in an effort to knock out the chronoton torpedoes before they're fired. (Fight time with time, I always say.) Kes, hearing the familiar term, says "the year of hell." She explains that Paris had told her that's what the crew called this time. "I did?" he asks. "It's a long story." Paris hands her off to Neelix and says she can tell him later. As Neelix herds her towards the mess hall (their ad hoc sickbay) she tells him what's been going on with her life lately.
After the attack (the weapons array changes must have worked; there's a calm after the storm) Paris finds Kes in the converted mess hall. The dead, dying and wounded are all around her as she holds her infant Linnis close. He sits by her and holds her tight. He says Neelix filled him in on what's been happening to her. Chakotay joins them shortly.
Kes knows what she needs; the last effort came close to working. Unfortunately, this Voyager is in no condition to help her. The doctor is offline (though Chakotay says it's good to know they'll get him back eventually); Sickbay is gone; only 3 of 14 decks still have life support, and much of that is used to fend off Krenim attacks. Their main computers are down, so they can't get the radiation frequency of the torpedo that infected Kes. (I thought Captain Chakotay might run Voyager more like a Maquis ship, but this may be taking things a bit too far.) Sad but true, as long as she's here, all she can do is wait to jump again.
She doesn't have to wait long. "I'm cold!" she suddenly shouts. Paris says he'll get a blanket. "You don't understand," she says. "I'm about--"
Welcome to Neelix's Resort Program. We're nearing the stardate we're used to.
Wending her way through the bevy of beach-clad beefcake and stuffed bikinis, Kes (still with her long strawberry blonde tresses) sees Tom chatting easily with several crewmembers. She heads for him. "Tom!" she says, expecting the greetings she's been used to from him this episode (her whole life, effectively).
"Hey, Kes!" he says warmly.
"I have to talk to you," Kes says.
"Sorry I'm late," a new voice says. A young woman, half-Klingon, rushes into Paris' arms. They kiss like they've been practicing a while.
Kes' face falls. She steels herself for what's to come. "You must be B'Elanna." she says formally. Torres and Paris laugh; "last time I checked," B'Elanna says. Kes laughs as well. Then she gets serious. "I have to talk to you," she says. Paris asks if something is wrong. Yes, she says--
Mala Fortuna, the Roman goddess of bad luck, strikes again. The ship is rocked hard, and the red alert whoop sounds. Janeway's voice is heard in the Holodeck: "All hands to battle stations." Kes, Paris and Torres waste no time.
The Year of Hell is about to begin.
Torpedoes pass easily through Voyager's shields and explode on the (presently pretty intact) hull. On the bridge, Janeway orders Tuvok to return fire. "Who the hell are they?" Chakotay demands, to nobody in particular.
"They're called the Krenim," Kes answers as the turbolift doors open. Torres and Paris take their stations swiftly. Janeway demands to know how she knows that. "Captain Janeway?" Kes asks, as if meeting the woman for the first time, which she is. Janeway takes her by the elbow and leads her to one of the forward stations. "Tell me what you know about them."
They continue to be rocked by torpedoes. Shields are down to 39%, Tuvok reports. Chakotay can't understand how they're getting blasted like this. Janeway orders Torres to reroute power; Torres is already on it. Kes follows Janeway, standing on the opposite side of the Engineer's station, and explains that the torpedoes are chronoton based and are passing through the shields because they're in a state of temporal flux.
Torres and Janeway look at her like Forrest Gump watching Jeopardy.
Speaking of torpedoes, the Krenim let another one fly. It flies true and lands with pyrotechnic perfection.
The engineering station explodes, hurling Torres and Janeway backward and causing most of the bridge crew to duck and roll. Kes, protected by the side of the panel that didn't explode, stays on her feet. While Chakotay struggles to regain his footing, he stares in mute horror at the two crumpled figures that used to be the chief engineer--and his dearest Kathryn. He says nothing, but he looks like his entire world has just been ripped away from him. He can't move a muscle.
Kes can; she rushes to B'Elanna and Kathryn and feels for a pulse. There aren't any. "They're dead," she says bleakly.
* * *
Chakotay and Tom are the first to regain their wits enough to rush to the women they love. (But not enough, it seems, to stay at their posts and try to save the rest of the ship. But I think that's understandable.) For those who have written me complaining about Chakotay's lack of sufficient grieving during this scene--I can only say that he's a very private guy, and I think he's prefer to do his grieving in private. The look on his face is pure devastation, but he understands the mantle of command; he's lost crewpeople many times before, and he'll lose a whole lot more if he doesn't resolve the current crisis first. He's the captain now, and after 30 years of watching Starship captains, we should know by now--it's hell on your personal life. But you gotta be strong for the troops, especially when you need to rally them to save the ship. I don't think he acted against the memory of our beloved Captain Kate in any way, shape or form. His face showed plenty of pain given the circumstances. He touches Janeway's face as tenderly as he can for the few seconds they're given between torpedo blasts.
Harry's report--we're losing life support on deck seven--wakes the officer in Chakotay. He swallows his grief and becomes Captain, ordering the evacuation of the deck. He tells Tom, who's still in shock over Torres' death, that he needs him at the conn. It takes a couple of seconds, but Paris finally says Aye Sir and postpones his own devastation until the danger passes.
Tuvok reports that the enemy is reloading, and that Voyager cannot sustain another direct hit. Chakotay asks if she has any idea how to stop them. She doesn't remember everything, but she manages to recall "something about remodulating the targeting scanners." Fortunately, her future son-in-law is a pretty bright boy. Within microseconds, he manages to come up with an idea that apparently took the last Voyager crew nearly a year to figure out. He knows exactly what to do with Kes' hint, and within seconds they're ready to get medieval on the Krenim.
Paris steers the ship. Tuvok arms her for bear. Kim locks and loads.
"Fire!" shouts Chakotay. Paris stabs the controls. Their thoughts seem similar: "Eat hot death, you devils."
Tongues of parametric destruction lick at the torpedo launchers on the Krenim vessel. A few very large booms later, the unseen enemy is reduced to expanding clouds of debris. Perhaps the Year of Hell will be reduced to the Weekend of Hell, thanks to the youthening Kes.
The mess hall has been converted into a triage center. People are dying. Power is low, at best. Captain Chakotay asks for a status report. Kim obliges. Eleven dead, including Janeway and Torres. No warp drive or starboard shield generators. Decks four through twelve are without power. Chakotay says to make deck 5 the priority; "we've got to get sickbay back online." As he gives orders, Kes hovers over him with a medical scanner, treating his head wound (now he's got a nice forehead scar to balance his tattoo.)
"As for the story you've told me," Chakotay begins, but Kes cuts him off. "I know you don't have the means to help me; I understand." She does. And though she knows things look bad, she also knows that they will get better. And, considering what she needs to find out, she's ideally situated. But more on that later.
Chakotay tells Paris to stay in the mess hall and take care of the survivors. "When this is over, we're all going to have a lot of grieving to do," he says as he moves on to the next crisis, probably in engineering. Paris watches him go.
As Tom helps the wounded and the dying as best he can, Kes sits near him. She asks how he's doing; he doesn't answer. He almost drops the medical scanner, and has to work to catch his breath, before steeling himself back into the task at hand. It's all he can do to concentrate on treating the wounded crewman without collapsing from his own shock and anguish. He'd told Kes once that when Torres died, he'd wished he could have died as well. We see that here. He's barely there.
"I know things are bad now, and it may not seem possible, but you're going to pull through this," she says.
"I wish I could believe you," he finally says, barely above a whisper.
"You can," she says. With such absolute assurance that he reacts as if smelling salts were put under his nose. He half-laughs, half-coughs, then gives a weak smile. "Thanks," he says.
You can tell he's seeing her in a new light, and perhaps remembering, through the haze of pain, the distant memory of an early crush. By knowing her current past, she's setting up her own future. Which has already happened to her. Which--
Ah, forget it.
Neelix comes in, wearing his Starfleet uniform. (When, exactly, does this happen?) He says that fragments from a torpedo is lodged somewhere, and people are complaining of nausea. He'd probably come to ask her for medical assistance for those folks, since she is the chief medical person in Holodoc's absence.
His words don't seem to register as he expected. She perks up at the news, scans herself, and says, "this is it! I'm infected!" She seems excited about it; Neelix is perplexed.
She asks where the fragment is located. A Jefferies tube on Deck 11, section 2. Kes says she's going down there. Neelix says the whole deck has been sealed off. "You'll be burned to a crisp," he adds, still more than a little concerned for her safety. She repeats, she's going down there. She needs the exact temporal frequency of the thing.
And what Kes wants, Kes gets.
Soon, Kes is crawling through Jefferies Tubes, rushing in where angels fear to tread. She manually releases a sealed hatch and finds herself staring at a pulsating, death-dealing bit of alien technology. She approaches it, tricorder in hand, scanning it, panting and couhing, oblivious to personal safety. Because live or die here, she'll more than likely end up in the past anyway.
The tricorder works its magic, and soon it locks onto a single reading: 1.47. She smiles and repeats the value aloud.
Just before she collapses from radiation poisoning, she catches a chill.
Young Kes, still with the long hair and the oh-so-fashionable red jumpsuit that was way too adult for her Terrific Twos, finds herself in sickbay. Now, she's always been cute, and those new outfits she's been wearing lately have really accentuated the positives, but...wow. Let's just say she's completed the ensemble. If we're taking votes, mine is to keep the current 'do. I don't know what is different about her in this particular scene, but one look and I became the wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon: a slack-jawed, bug-eyed, wolf-whistling fool.
Fear not, I'm still firmly a Janeway kinda guy; Kathryn still sits atop my list of Trek Women I'd Most Like to Date. But my appreciation for the change in Kes' appearance must be noted. She and Terry Farrell ("Dax" of DS9) now top my Cutest list. (I won't bore you with my treatise on the distinction between Beautiful, Pretty, and Cute--which are not mutually exclusive, or mutually inclusive. But like I said, that's for another time. Suffice to say that Kes just rocketed upward.)
as Doc asks her about the analgesic compounds. "Doctor, you've lost your hair!" she exclaims. After nearly an hour of a Hair Club for Holograms Doc, the change is pretty striking.
Doc, of course, has no idea what she's talking about.
Kes doesn't worry about that now; she has news to spill. "The important thing is that the temporal variance of the chronoton torpedo was 1.47 microseconds."
Staff meeting. What else. All are present and accounted for. Including the familiar bald, unnamed Holodoc, wearing his portable holographic emitter.
Kes says she's now jumped six years into her past (which would make her three years old, or about where we left off with "Favorite Son.") Doc says that "approximately eleven months from now, the crew will be infected by chronoton radiation." Everyone will be inoculated and the radiation forgotten, but five years later, "in an experimental--and may I add, ingenious--medical procedure to extend her lifespan, the dormant chronoton particles will get reactivated and boot her out of sync with the rest of her time-space continuum, beginning her backward trek through time." He is highly animated as he speaks; if there's one thing the Doc loves, it's obscure medical stuff that he's the only acknowledged expert in.
Janeway, who also loves to be in a position to know more than anyone else, is frowning. She's never heard of anything like this. (Well, duh. You were dead at the time.) (Okay, that's not quite fair. But it's not like her to dismiss something just because she didn't think of it first. She'll just need some convincing.)
Doc is ready to do that. Since Kes knows exactly the frequency of the particles which infected her, and she's already been infected (else how could she be going backwards in time?) It's easy enough to find out if she's telling the truth. And apparently no big whoop to throw together a bio-temporal chamber of the sort the New and Improved Holodoc took a few weeks assembling and still not having time to test. Then they can simply throw anti-chronoton particles at her to purse them bad boys from her system and thus keep her in the present. Her subordinates not only have theories, they have works-in-progress. Suitably impressed to put aside her consternation at not being the instigator of this little miracle, she throws up her hands and says to get cracking, while Kes is still with them. The crew jumps to it.
Kes holds Janeway back; she has some future events to spoil. "In about six months you'll enter a
part of space controlled by a species called the Krenim. You must avoid them at all costs."
"Tell me more," says Janeway. Now this she knows something about.
In no time flat, a new bio-temporal chamber (looking much like the future one) is constructed, and Kes is thrown into it. It looks not unlike an iron lung.
Janeway looks over the work and asks for a status report. Doc reports that her pulse is normal, body temperature is at 14 degrees, and Chronoton levels at 79 roentgens. (Ironically, the number of episodes in TOS, but I'm sure that's a coincidence.) Janeway orders Torres to throw the switch.
Medical technology starts to hum. Holodoc barks orders, and Torres complies. Kes' body temperature elevates, and the chronoton levels drop. All seems to be going well. Just after chronoton levels drop to fifty-two roentgens, Kes shivers and takes a step backwards.
Kes is wearing her first-season elf outfit. Neelix is trying to sell Captain Janeway on letting them stay; "I'm a very good cook," he says...Kes is looking around, trying to catch her bearings. She's jumped all the way back to the end of the Pilot episode. (If it's not done when you look, DON'T write me; I know it's not there yet, as of 4/11/97. I'm hurrying, I promise.) "Not again!" Kes mutters, interrupting Neelix's pitch for a moment, but back then he was nothing if not resourceful; he's soon back to ingratiating himself.
Kes finally interrupts Neelix for good, apologizes for sounding very strange, but she has a favor to ask. She delivers it in such a way that confounds Neelix--and intrigues Janeway, who senses that something fascinating and unexpected is happening. Janeway shushes Neelix and asks Kes to keep talking. "It all started about eight years from now, on my deathbed in your sickbay...."
She gets the chills, and she cries out in a rage. "No!!!"
It doesn't work. After the light fades, she finds herself as a little child, with (though they're not keeping track at this point, probably) 97%of her memory engrams now intact. She's maybe four months old at this point--perhaps Andrew's age at her death, around like 9 or 10 years old in Human development. She's on Ocampa, where the flowers are fragrant, the garden she finds herself in is teeming with produce--and the technology isn't worth squat.
The little girl looks around her, unsure of where she is (this Kes didn't get to experience the Ocampa homeworld, remember), but knowing her best days were ahead of her. Where she'll probably never see them again.
A new voice calls to her. "What's wrong, Kes?" asks a tall, fatherly looking guy. She looks at him as a total stranger. She hasn't met her father yet.
* * *
"Who are you? What is this place?" she asks. "We don't have time to play your guessing game again, Kes; you know how your mother gets when we're late for dinner."
"You're my father," Kes guesses, correctly. "And you're my favorite daughter. But don't tell anyone," he says with a wink.
Young Kes realizes there's no easy way to say it, so she just says it. "I'm older than you think, dad dude." She tells him of the starship she's living on, and the day she died -- which was only a few hours ago -- and she needs to find the professor and MacGuyver to take the coconuts and duct tape and...
Dad tells her that her stories will be fine for after dinner, but they're late. She's about to give up trying to explain and simply re-explore her mental faculties and give him a swift mental kick in the groin when--
Flashback. Kes' mom has now bellied up to the Birthing Bar, as her father coaches her about as effectively as most Lamaze Dads manage to. A midwife is handling the actual extraction of the sac from the back, giving Kes' mom plenty of opportunity to swear like a Klingon dockworker, impugning the man she loves. It's a touching scene. His wife's name is Martis. She's got close-cropped blonde hair. And she's in a lot of pain. When Kes is delivered, she's placed into the arms of her weeping mother, who cries her name in relief, love, and exhaustion. "Oh, Kes," she cries.
Newly-born Kes has a very unhappy look on her face.
Flashback again. Now she's got a womb with a view (I'm entitled to one really bad pun per review, folks.) She's a fairly well-developed fetus. Flash again, and she resembles a salad-bar shrimp. The flashes give way to reverse mitosis, as the embryo reverts to a cluster of cells, then faster than you can say "The Big Show," the 64 cells shrink to 32, then 16, then 8, then 4, then two. And by the time you can say, "Arizona wins in an upset!" we've got a single, incredibly brilliant, fertilized egg. Kes is hanging onto her existence by an X chromosome.
An in a final flash of brilliant white--it is gone.
In the inky blackness of an empty womb, we hear only the plaintive wail of a French Horn.
But wait--the rollicking chorus of "I get Around" by he Beach Boys kicks in, and before you know it we've got ourselves a fertilized egg again. (Look Who's Talking is airing as I type this.) A bit of frenetic activity, and there's two. They do-se-do, and there's four-eight-etc. We hit reverse on the backward-masked "This is your life," and soon we're in fast forward mode; Kes rips right through the Shrimp Stage, past the fetus stage, and practically jumps out of the back of her mother and into the midwife's arms. We relive the tender scene, but this time it's a bit more hopeful that we're seeing her so early in life--naked, covered in goop, and screaming her lungs out. The mother again comments on her beauty, calls her Kes, and says to her husband, "some day she'll see the sun."
Newborn Kes high-fives her mom just before flashing into a serious fast-forward. She finds herself back in the bio-temporal chamber as Doc counts down to 51 roentgens. (That 52nd roentgen was a tenacious little bugger, wasn't it?) He continues to count down as Kes awakens to the fact that she's back where the planets were aligned in her favor--right smack dab near the end of Season 3. By the time the chronoton levels are down to zero roentgens, her temperature is at the expected 16.3 degrees, and her pulse is normal.
Improbability level: normalized.
"Welcome back, Kes," Doc says pleasantly, as if she hadn't just undergone the worst nine-plus years of her life, from conception to last gasp, and back.
She asks what the date is, and how old she is. Doc doesn't answer the date question (probably a good thing; the uncertainty will keep us trivia weenies from yelling too loudly--they've got a little leeway now) but he does say she's back in sync with the rest of them, and her age is a healthy three years and two months. As Doc boasts about the "extraordinary display of medical heroics" Janeway and Torres lean on her bio-temporal chamber, looking too cute for words, not realizing that they owe their lives to her as much as she does to them.
It's party time! P. a. r. t. Y? Because we GOTTA!
And what better place to celebrate life than on Neelix's resort Holodeck program? Pass out the drinks, ogle the holographic natives, and reminisce about times yet to come.
Neelix's chest is a tad pumped up. "Security officer!" he says, approving of his future career, as he sips a champagne. Tuvok, holding his own glass of bubbly, throws a wet blanket over the musings. "Fortunately, Mr. Neelix, what Kes reported is only one possible future. And by landing in each point in the future, she no doubt affected events that changed those timelines." In short, Tuvok doesn't add: Not in MY security detail, you ain't.
Neelix ponders this. "Perhaps you're right. Maybe this time I'll make CHIEF security officer." Tuvok's eyebrows detach themselves and shoot across the room. Tuvok tries to ignore them. Chakotay clinks glasses with Neelix.
Kim asks Kes if she remembers all of her own past now. "I remember that month's worth of replicator rations you owe me, Ops Boy," she says with a smirk. While she talks, Torres enters, grabs a drink, latches briefly onto Paris in a warm but non-snuggly welcome, and quickly moves away from him and toward Janeway. (Where's Paris?)
Doc, enjoying the holo-hooch, waxes rhapsodic about the medical breakthroughs he'll make in the next six years. (You mean like Rogaine?) Janeway smirks, shaking her head; she'll let him boast as long as he keeps yanking their bacon out of the fire, and he's earned a little ego time after saving Kes.
Kes says she didn't see the whole future--only scattered bits here and there in seven jumps, never staying in any one place for long. (She doesn't mention that she pretty much read through her whole life's record during her new-grandma jump.) Torres moves back around the table to stand near--but not TOO near, wouldn't want to start any rumors, now, would we?--Paris, stealing a glance at him, and apparently burning with a question for Kes.
She gives Kes an "if I want your opinion I'll beat it out of you" look, and she wants Kes' opinion. "You must know something about what's going to happen," she says. It's almost an accusation. Perhaps she's noticing the way Paris is looking at Kes--absorbed in what she has to say.
Paris swallows his gulp of champagne. "Yeah, Kes, tell us what you know," he says teasingly.
"Careful Tom," Chakotay warns. "You may find out you leave Voyager and join a monastery." Everyone laughs (except Torres, I noticed, whose mouth only twitches a tad as she continues to bore holes into Kes, with arms folded in a won't-take-no-for-an-answer posture). Paris' jaw drops in protest, then he too chuckles. Harry rushes to Tom's defense; "I bet he gets married and has a family," says Harry; Tom thanks him and raises his glass; Harry says Don't Mention it and raises his own.
"So, are you telling?" Torres demands.
Kes thinks for a moment. "As Tuvok said, what I've seen are just glimpses of one possible future." Paris corrects himself; "on second thought, I don't want to know. I like a little mystery in my life." (If only you knew, Tommy Boy...) Janeway chimes in with "Tom's right; let's leave the future...to the future." She stands between and a little behind Torres and Paris, throwing her arms out expansively, to embrace the entire space-time continuum.
Paris and Torres look at each other briefly but meaningfully. Torres seems satisfied for the moment. But if we find Kes stuffed into a Replicator slot in the near future, I've got a short list of suspects.
Tuvok, of course, has something to add. "While she may not want to divulge everything, a little tactical previews of the Krenim might be useful." Janeway agrees, but her look suggests it could have been broached at another time.
Kes, though, agrees, and says she'll start immediately. Janeway stops her; "hold on, girlie girl! Enjoy your party!"
"If I've learned anything from what just happened to me," Kes says, "it's that there's no time like
Yikes. Sorry folks, but I'm not doing this again. I'm ending up with reviews longer than the episodes themselves. And since I just moved to a new town and I'm still trying to unpack, these all-day efforts are just too dang much. I love you all, but I'm afraid I'm scaring away more people than I'm attracting with these War and Peace-sized synopses. I'm going to make these things shorter in the future.
That said...I liked this one.
For character development, this one was a bases-loaded screamer straight down the center-field line, out the park and three blocks into West Addison street.
You want character development? We got so much character development, folks is growing hair. Kes is growing hair. Doc is growing hair, fercryinoutloud. (Looks good on him, BTW.) However, this was just one possible future...and in order for Holodoc to grow hair and get a name, he'll have to be reprogrammed from the ground up...and eleven people, including some major female characters, will have to die.
Obviously, that ain't gonna happen. My guess is, we'll never run into the Krenim. These events, and Kes' memory of the future, will soon be...a memory.
There is a question, though. We learn that Paris and Torres do indeed get closer--to the point of kissing in public. For Torres, this is a tremendous leap from where she is now with Paris; they still appear to be in the Furtive Looks stage. Kes knows what she and Paris COULD have, in that one possible future. But she also knows the cost of it. She also knows a good deal of her past again, along with the future revelation that Paris has had a crush on her since before she was a year old.
She could conceivably make a play for Paris. She has no guarantee that it'd work out, but she has a memory of what they had together. A child. A grandchild. Seeds of happiness sprouting from the winter of their devastation and flowering into the third generation. She knows she could die in her time, surrounded by family and friends.
But if Kes is anything, she's selfless, caring and wise beyond her years. She has a pretty good idea that by avoiding Krenim space, she'll give Paris and Torres a chance to follow through on their relationship. She also knows how much losing B'Elanna hurt Tom, how close to the abyss he came. She'd rather sacrifice her own happiness to give them a chance to find it.
And let's face it--with her new hairdo, she probably has her pick of the boys on board. My guess is that she's now feeling her biological clock as never before, and will be looking for someone who makes her tongue swell.
Hey--if Harry Kim's good enough for her daughter....
The whole deal with Kes' age can be the stuff of which math problems from hell are made. I'm tempted to just throw it all out the window and take the episodes at face value as concerns her age. It'd save me a boatload of headaches, I think. Suffice to say that she's getting older week to week.
Most of the time, anyway.
It was nice to see people getting promotions under Captain Chakotay. Let's hope it doesn't take the death of Janeway to make it possible again.
As to the death of Janeway--I said it in the breakdown, but I'll repeat it for those who just read the Analysis. Chakotay looked pretty grief-stricken to me. We only caught brief glimpses of him during the time immediately following Kes' announcement that Janeway was dead, and Chakotay looked like his entire existence had been stolen from him. Again. He was the first to arrive at Janeway's side, several seconds before Paris reached B'Elanna. He was just as caught up in the horror of the moment until Kim brought him back to the present with the news that they'd all be joining Janeway in the eternal matrix if they didn't fend off the Krenim before they landed another torpedo. He didn't have much choice; he had to do his duty or they were all dead. He needed to grieve as much as everyone else, but he was determined to live long enough to do so.
So please, you J/C promoters--don't fret. This episode was not a brushoff of your hopes. I'd say they confirmed them. It wasn't the tear-stained howling Chakotay of Janeway's unconscious wish-fulfillment from "Coda." But it seemed more than appropriate for the moment.
You'll notice Kes didn't weep a great deal at their deaths; she had known Janeway less than a minute, and she saw Torres as the rival standing between her and grandkids. She had no memories then of Torres the longtime friend and colleague, only of the woman whose death made possible her marriage to Tom. You can't blame her. She had her own problems to think about, ya know?
Alternate universes can be a lot of fun. Future glimpses, same thing, especially if they don't necessarily have to count. Doc with Hair, picking a name for himself (and expanding beyond doctors to artists and musicians), getting a complete personality overhaul (just as brilliant, but far softer and not nearly as egotistical). We got a chance to compare.
Frankly, I prefer Bald Doc. Naked pride can be a lot of fun to watch sometimes, especially when the Hologuy's ego is writing checks his programming CAN cash. But after the Year from Hell, I can see why the crew might like their doc to be a tad more compassionate.
Which future thing surprised me the most? Probably the marriage of Kes' daughter to Harry. It makes sense in a way, but it is awfully strange to think about. It's just some of the fun when you can breed gorgeous adult marriageable blondes in a tenth the time of normal humans. Having seen her offspring, I can only put in a plea:
Get Kes married. Soon.
It also answers the question about how she'll look as she ages. It would appear that the aging process comes on very fast. Gramma Kes, posing with infant Andrew, was six months or so shy of her ninth birthday, and she looked pretty much as she does now. Those last six months, though, are apparently a joyride to mortality. By the time she turns nine, Kes is already looking pretty old. And she looks much older by the time she dies a few weeks later. This glimpse of the final days/weeks/months tells us that they don't have to mess too much with Kes' makeup to account for age, until near the very end (and it's quite likely the series will be over before that's necessary, even given a full seven-season run).
I've been wondering when Kes would start showing her age. Her clothes were changing, but three years is a long time for ANY woman to keep the same hairstyle. I wonder how long the time has been between the last episode and this one (the stardate wasn't specified), but it must have been long enough for Kes to grow some serious hair.
Or maybe Ocampan hair grows at 10 times the normal rate as well.
Most everything about this episode can be safely ignored in terms of series continuity. What matters are the character sketches. And the two most important characters here were Kes and Tom.
I argued early on for a relationship between these two. And, in terms of wish-fulfillment, it was nice to see this. But in terms of actually seeing these two come together...I've come to prefer the thought of Paris and Torres instead. They're a better match. I'm glad the writers and producers not only acknowledged the match, but came up with a way to answer how it could happen, and make it terrible enough to keep Kes from considering a move of her own, despite the potential personal rewards.
They will never know what Kes is giving up for them. I bet she'll make a heck of a matchmaker. She could probably kick B'Elanna's butt if she gets cold feet on Tom. Mental powers trumps Klingon battle rage and even Blood Fever.
I think I'm done with this one. Like I said, I liked it a lot. I give high, high marks to the cast for this one. The character interactions have improved mightily this season, and this episode ranks with a current-season DS9 for repartee. That's the highest praise I can grant them, because I think DS9 has had phenomenal interaction this season. The supporting characters didn't impress me quite as much (bad acting must run in Kes' genes) but they got the job done. The real stars here were McNeill and Lien, and they shone brightly. Ditto Bob Picardo, who continues to be my hero.
On a 0-10 scale, I give this 8.25, or (* * * *). It moved me. I laughed, I cried, I thought, I yelled at the TV, I high-fived my monitor a few times. And I spent all %@$%~@$^ day writing this thing, which is about 9 hours more than I can say about "Macrocosm."
Next time, though, I'm not taking so dang long. You want to know what happened? I'm willing to provide that. You want excruciating detail...watch it yourself. I promise to keep giving you folks enough to convince your Trekkie friends you watched the whole thing, but I'm not here to turn the Webbed World into trivia grand masters. I can't tell ya'll to get a life if I don't have one myself.
If I hurry, I can catch the late showing of Grosse Pointe Blank. For my money, John Cusack's one heck of an actor.
Next week: Repeat of "Alter Ego": Kim and Tuvok gets hooked on Holodeck Chat.