Harry Kim looks for love in yet another wrong place.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Please forgive me in advance. This episode has scenes and dialog of a frank sexual nature. So, inevitably, will the review. So, lock up the kids or get those fake I.D. card printed, whatever works--it's time for a rollicking hour of Locker Room Trek.
A mighty alien vessel, long and rigid, throbbing with energy, thrusts its way through the penetrating darkness of…
Um, no. I just can't do it.
It is a long ship, though, looking not unlike a freight train with dozens of individual, near-identical "cars." Or peas in a pod.
The camera pans in from the panoramic view of the convoy, down to a close-up of an individual "car", and from there through a window to one of the individual quarters.
Then a door opens, and we see two people--Harry Kim, and an unfamiliar but very attractive and affectionate female alien--wrestling their way inside. They're getting along famously; they're practically joined at the lip.
Harry's clearly enjoying himself, and the attention. But something other than making out hasn't completely left his mind. "We shouldn't be here," he reminds her between kisses. "Don't worry. Nobody saw us leave," the woman assures him, kissing him some more.
They tumble onto the bed. The woman clutches at his chest…and grabs a fistful of combadge. Annoyed, she yanks it off his tunic and tosses it across the room. "Hey, I need that!" Harry says. "What if somebody tries to call?"
She shuts him up with more kisses. Harry's doing good; he's turning the girl on.
Literally. Her neck glows.
Come on, baby, light my fire.
Harry notices and asks what it was. "Don't worry," she whispers. "Come here." The girl stands up, pulling Harry along with her, and performs a deft decloaking maneuver, leaving Harry in his Starfleet turtleneck.
Which is itself half off before they tumble onto the couch, with her on top.
Harry looks ecstatic as the girl begins gnawing on his chest like a deer at a salad bar.
Hot blooded / Check it and see …
Got a fever of a hundred and three…
And looks even more ecstatic when he begins to radiate as well. Chest, face, hands--all glowing. He has no idea what's happening, but he knows it feels good.
Glow, little glowworm, brighter, brighter . . .
I hope he rented a copy of "Favorite Son" before his big date . . .
* * *
Captain's Log, Supplemental: after two weeks we're close to repairing the Varro's warp drive. I'm starting to think they'd rather give up warp travel than accept help from strangers.
An officious male Varro looks annoyed as Captain Janeway, looking like she'd just spent a week overhauling the engine in Tom Paris' Camaro, enters the room. "I thought we agreed Central Control would be off-limits." Janeway begins a deft, delicate massaging of events to get the guy to let her in and access his warp assembly. He claims they've made no progress; she shows him the progress they've made. She points out that they're almost done.
As Janeway's log suggests, this guy actually would rather give up warp travel than accept help from strangers, even with the job nearing completion. He seems uncomfortable just having an alien on his ship.
But Janeway must have been convincing to get this far, and once again she pours on the midwestern charm like a full spread of photon torpedoes. "You know, I can understand why you're distrustful of other species. Frankly, we've had a rough time in the Delta Quadrant ourselves. But our two species have made remarkable progress working together to repair your engines. We've come a long way since you ignored our opening hails," she says, chiding him gently. "Let's not throw all that away."
"I'll admit we do share--some things in common," the Varro says, unconsciously slurping on his tall latte, fiddling with his combadge, and conspicuously ignoring the affections of his first officer.
Janeway gives him a hopeful look. "We're both on long journeys, looking for allies. In many ways, we're like--cousins!" He repeats the word; it's unfamiliar to him. "Well, distant cousins," Janeway allows. "Think about it! 400 years ago you started out the same way we did-- a single Starship, a small crew, facing the unknown. And now, centuries later, you've grown into a generational ship with a history and culture all your own!"
Noticing the Varro's resistance weakening, she presses forward. "When I look at your vessel, I can't help but wonder if I'm seeing Voyager's future. Our journey could easily last several generations."
Janeway moves in for the kill. "So, what do you say...Cousin?" The Varro relents. "You can access the warp assembly from here." (His name, by the way, is Jippeq--but it's not introduced until Act III, and then only ambiguously.) Janeway doesn't waste time; after a quick thanks, she's ready for the antimatter transfer within seconds.
First indications are positive. Janeway tells Jippeq to cross his fingers. "For luck," she explains with a warm smile, and we watch him cross his fingers.
Clothes are strewn about the still-darkened bedroom.
Harry answers a question I hadn't asked.
Tank top. And boxers.
The woman answers another.
Nothing but sheet.
The light's a little better now. She's a raven-haired beauty, she is. Full lips. Trans-Lux Eyes--think Kimba the White Lion. Either a tattoo or a birthmark running in an intriguing pattern along the length of her spine.
While Harry stares out into space, keeping the unbroken Fruit of the Loom Season streak alive, the woman looks after him with a mix of affection, lust, and good humor. "If you're planning on leaving through the viewport, you might want to get dressed. The interstellar vacuum might get a little chilly." Ooh, and she's got one heck of an exotic accent, too.
Harry is lost in thought. "What? Oh. Funny." He chuckles, but his heart isn't in it.
Whoa, oh, oh, I'm on fire.
"Come back to bed," she urges. "I can't sleep," he says, pacing nervously.
"Cuddle," she coos. "I can't cuddle," he says, pacing faster. (The fool!) He looks pure-dee guilty about something.
The woman--Tal--clucks her tongue lasciviously. "I told you we're not going to get caught. If someone had seen us, they would've reported it by now."
But Harry's innate sense of guilt doesn't require getting caught first. "I'm violating about half a dozen regulations by just being in this room! And what we did earlier..." The only thing that saves him in this moment is that a big goofy smile comes to his face just thinking about it. "I don't know if Starfleet even has a regulation for that."
Oh, you poor, silly boy.
This is Starfleet. They have regulations for everything.
Tal looks somewhat dismayed. "What are you saying? Making love is a crime in your culture?" Heck, just saying "making love" the way she did here is a crime in several states. Yowsa.
"Yes!" Harry shouts. "No," he amends. He takes a deep breath. "What I'm saying is, it's a breach of protocol." She pouts--in a manner that's a misdemeanor in three states. "How romantic."
Harry introduces the inevitable plot wrinkle. "The Captain instructed all away teams--no personal interaction with the Varro crew. I violated a direct order."
Uh oh. We know how Janeway feels about Direct Orders. Violate one of those and you get stuck in the holographic Tower of London for a month. Seeing how hard Janeway has been working to get the Varro to trust her at all, the order does make sense. Jippeq is looking for any excuse to get the aliens off his ship. If he's uncomfortable just talking to aliens, I suspect conjugal visits would be seen as tantamount to a declaration of war.
But when it comes to orders, Tal seems more inclined to give them than to follow them. "Come back to bed. That's an order." See what I mean? Harry dutifully complies, sitting on the edge of the bed. Tal gives him an affectionate caress on the arm. "Are all humans so jumpy?"
"No. Only me," Harry whimpers.
The ship begins to rumble. Harry catches on a second later. "The warp engines. They started the plasma transfer!" He springs from the bed and grabs the nearest pair of pants he can find. " We got to get down there. We're late," he says struggling to get the first leg through.
Tal gives a throaty alto laugh. "What are you waiting for?" Harry demands.
"To see what you look like in my uniform," she teases. When Harry realizes his mistake he chuckles, and tosses the pants (trousers for you UK folks) at her. But she's too busy having fun watching Harry throw his clothes on.
"You don't understand. If I'm not at my post..."
"You'll be…executed," she guesses, eyes twinkling.
"Funny," he says, making a face at her. "We better go in separately." Gathering up the rest of his attire, Harry dashes for the door.
Leaving poor Tal to execute a maneuver--raising herself from a reclining to a sitting position while keeping the sheets in place for modesty--that could qualify as an Olympic event.
On a six-point scale, I'd give her a 5.8.
You light up my life…
Paris and Torres work at the same station. Both of them look pretty grimy as well, but there's something about good old-fashioned manual labor, sweating in a worthy cause, that gives the two a weary but satisfied appearance.
"Impressive," Torres says as Paris works the controls.
"Just trying to orchestrate the antimatter flow," Paris says, brow furrowed.
"You should try some Chopin when you're done." Tom finishes a particularly tricky bar or two, then smiles. (Great moment for these two. It's nice to see them working side-by-side.)
Harry enters. "Look who showed up for the final movement," Torres notes dryly.
"Excuse me?" Harry says, approaching the station.
"Just a little late for the joke--as well as the job!" Tom notes with some surprise. Harry's always the responsible one. It's unlike him to be late.
"I was checking the manifolds in segment 22," Harry says. (Is that what the kids are calling it these days?) Tom instantly doubts his story. Never kid a kidder.
The door on the opposite side of the control room opens a second later, and Tal enters, striding confidently toward Jippeq. Just in time for things to go wrong. The warp reaction destabilizes, and within moments it's clear they'll have to abort the transfer. "So much for finger crossing," grumbles Jippeq, who almost seems pleased that it didn't work.
Janeway asks B'Elanna for an analysis; she reports microfractures all over the hull. This is news to everyone; Janeway says they'll have to check the hulls on every segment on the ship. "But that'll take days!" Jippeq protests.
"The sooner we start, the sooner we finish," Janeway says.
Nobody argues with her.
Tom and Harry exit the transporter room into the corridors. "Friendly people," Tom says sarcastically. "They've had a lot of bad experiences with other species," Harry says in their defense.
Tom snickers. "Well, I don't know. It seems like your First Contact went pretty well."
Harry is instantly on guard. "What's that supposed to mean?" Tom backs off a step. "Just wondering where you disappeared to today…"
"I told you. I was checking the plasma conduits--" Paris interrupts. "--In 'segment 22.' I know." He gives Harry an appraising look. "They must have sonic showers over there. You're a lot cleaner than you were when you left." Harry blanches.
Tom rolls his eyes. "You are such a lousy liar! Haven't you learned anything from me after five years?" Harry looks suitably abashed; is he that obvious?
"She's cute!" Tom agrees. Who, Harry asks weakly. "That assistant engineer, Tal." Harry grins. "Cute enough." Tom throws up his hands; "Oh, here we go again!" What?!? Harry protests. Tom tells him. "You. Going after impossible women--a hologram, an ex-Borg, the wrong twin! And now a girl from a xenophobic species?"
Well, when you put it that way . . . [Nice nod to continuity, BTW. The only one missing is Libby, but we haven't heard about her since "Non Sequitur." Not surprising, once we met her.]
"You're right. You're absolutely right. I'm putting her out of my mind. I promise," Harry vows. Tom pats him on the shoulder. "Good. Glad to hear it. I'm due back on the bridge."
"See you in the morning!" Harry calls after his good buddy.
The second Tom's out of sight, Harry gets a mischievous grin on his face and disappears into his quarters.
Got a fever burning' inside of me…
Harry sits at his terminal. His eyes are twinkling. His grin is infectious. He opens a very secure connection with a very specific terminal on the Varro ship.
Tal answers a nanosecond later. "What took you so long? I've been waiting 22 minutes for you to call," she pouts. She's incredible when she pouts. Her hair curls down her bare neck and throat like black silk.
I can see why Harry fell for her. Tal's eyes alone would turn Riker into a rebel.
"I was testing myself--seeing how long I could resist calling you," Harry teases. "And?" she prompts. "I lasted 22 minutes," he says slyly. "Should I feel complimented? Or insulted?" Tal asks adorably. "Since this is the first chance I've had to open a com-link...Complimented."
The formalities out of the way, they get down to some serious talking. "So...You liked what happened?" Harry beams. "Yeah. A lot." He ain't lying. "Enough to try it again?" she purrs. "Absolutely. But I've got to be honest. I wasn't expecting something so...different."
"Neither was I. Our species look so similar...Well, at least on the surface."
Harry nods a lot. "I would've never guessed when it came down to the basics...Well, let's just say the birds and bees will be very confused."
" 'The birds and bees'?" Tal is confused.
While Harry explains, let's head for the bridge, shall we?
Tuvok detects an unauthorized transmission. "Origin?" Chakotay asks. "Unknown. It's been encoded," Tuvok says.
"Find out where it's going," Chakotay orders.
From the helm, Tom Paris swears under his breath.
The camera moves in slowly, staying the whole time on Harry Kim. The quarters are dark. But Harry's lit up like a neon sign. (No, not really.) We hear Tal's voice; we see Harry's reactions.
Boy, is he reacting.
Harry asks Tal where she'd most like to be. Besides her cabin…"On a distant moon where the air is warm and the gravity is light. No bulkheads around me. Where, if I walk too quickly, I can almost fly."
"I like that," say Harry, who knows why the caged bird sings.
She asks him the same question. Besides her cabin…"Sorry. I can't come up with anything better than your cabin." The hound.
Tal's voice gets smoky. "And what would you do if you were here?"
"This very moment."
"I'd ask you to dim the lights," he says, ignoring the beads of sweat forming on his upper lip and his forehead.
We finally see Tal on the viewscreen. Just her face--but that's more than enough. The woman is the very embodiment of desire, and she's got eyes only for Harry Kim. "And what if I said…no?"
"Okay. So, we leave the lights on."
Tuvok tracks the message to the living quarters on the Varro ship.
Paris, thinking fast, offers to track it down for Chakotay. "Hold on. Something's wrong…I'm losing the signal…"
[In Harry's quarters, the Ensign watches with dismay as the signal cuts out.]
"The transmission has ended," Tuvok reports.
"If it was a transmission," Paris counters. "Could have just been a glitch in the com system."
While Chakotay orders up a diagnostic, Tom lets out a heavy breath. That was close.
The next day. Commander Chakotay addresses a large group of crewmen about the day's assignment. They've been tasked to find the source of the structural problems on the Varro ship. Tuvok suggests small teams; Chakotay agrees and splits the team into pairs.
While Chakotay gets specific, the camera pans to the back row, where Ensigns Kim and Paris (snicker) converse in whispers.
"You owe me," Paris says.
"What?" Harry demands, turning toward Tom.
"Eyes front," Tom snaps, and Harry obeys instantly; they don't want to draw attention to themselves. "Last night I had to sabotage the com system to cover your tracks. You called her, didn't you?"
"Guilty," Harry admits without hesitation.
"How long has this been going on? The truth." Tom still has the command voice down pretty well.
"From the moment we first saw each other. It was like touching an open plasma relay." Paris frowns. "Hmm. Sounds serious." "Maybe it is," Harry admits.
"Has it occurred to you that you're breaking a few dozen protocols?" Tom reminds him quietly. "We know what we're getting into," Harry insists.
Chakotay dismisses the team. Tom turns and looks at Harry. "Do you?" he asks, his voice at normal volume.
Seven of Nine approaches, carrying a PADD. She tells Harry that they have been assigned to survey the generational ship from Astrometrics. (She's wearing a solid blue outfit this time. I appreciate the variety they're giving her attire this season.)
Harry takes the PADD and follows Seven. Tom watches them go, looking very concerned for his friend. Janeway's orders had been quite specific, and he'd worked in Jippeq's presence enough to know that there was a good reason not to get on the guy's bad side.
The split-screen view of Voyager and an individual "section" of the Varro ship yields to a full-screen view of the Generational Ship. Each section is an independent, fully-functional vessel. But in this layout, each also becomes an interconnected part of a greater whole.
"Kind of puts a Borg cube to shame, doesn't it?" Harry asks conversationally. "The vessel's technology is impressive," Seven allows, "but its construction is haphazard."
"I guess they sort of improvised as they went along." (Hmm. Care to elaborate, Ensign?) Harry segues into a question. "Seven, you've been around humans for a while now. What do you think about--love?"
Seven gives Harry a tolerant look. "We're scanning for microfractures. I don't see the relevance." This is actually an improvement over "it's irrelevant." Her response is an invitation to elaborate--is that interest in her eyes? Harry was her first crush, after all. Embarrassed, Harry bows off with "Just curious." But Seven doesn't let the matter drop. "Parental love, romantic love affection between friends. Specify."
In for a penny…"Romantic love," Harry says. Seven considers. "An attraction based on sexual desire when it facilitates procreation." My goodness; Seven's an old-fashioned gal after all.
Harry chuckles. "I guess I'm asking the wrong person." But Seven doesn't think so. "Not at all. The Borg have referenced this condition in over 6,000 assimilated species."
Harry's eyes go wide. "Condition? You make it sound like a disease."
"Physiologically, it bears a striking similarity to disease. A series of biochemical responses that trigger an emotional cascade impairing normal functioning."
Now that's the stuff of poetry.
Or of song.
I was feeling / so bad
I asked my family doctor just what I had
I said, "Doctor" (doc-tah!)
Mr. M.D. (doc-tah!)
Won't you tell me
What's ailin' me? (doc-tah!)
He said yeah-yeah-yeah, yeah-yeah.
"Forget it," Harry says.
Seven looks at Harry for a long time. "Are you in love, Ensign?" And with whom, she doesn't add. She can't help but remember his interest in her. She even offered to follow through, once. And as she gets more and more in touch with her humanity, it would not be a surprise for some of those human interests to assert themselves.
"I guess that's what I've been asking myself," he says, not looking at her.
Glow, little glow-worm…
"You're glowing," Seven says. "I beg your pardon?" Harry asks, trying to pretend nothing just happened. As if. "Your epidermis luminesced," Seven says, and her tone shows clear signs of concern.
"Huh...Must be the lighting in here," Harry says, brushing it off. "No, it was you," she insists, eyes wide.
Then he does it again. He gasps from the intensity of the sensation. (Yep, one of those gasps. And in front of the Borg, no less. The sicko.)
"You should report to Sickbay," Seven says. It's nothing, Harry declares.
When he glows and gasps again, Seven refuses to take no for an answer. "You must comply," she says urgently, grabbing his arm and leading the way.
* * *
Doctor, doctor, gimme the news…
Harry is lying on a diagnostic bed. He tries to sit up. Doc pushes him back down. "Lie still," Doc orders. Seven of Nine stands nearby, looking worried.
"I feel fine," Harry insists. Doc "No doubt you're feeling wonderful. Your beta endorphins are abnormally elevated." Really? Harry says with casual disinterest.
"You spent a lot of time on the generational ship. Do you recall coming into contact with any toxins? Antimatter radiation?" No. "Maybe something in one of their medical bays--a biological agent?" No, Harry repeats. "Did you consume any of their cuisine?" Again, no.
Seven does a quick check on one of the monitors. "Doctor, there is unusual synaptic activity in his cerebral cortex."
Harry turns his head to the side. "No kidding…" he mutters.
Doc takes a look at Seven's readout, though, and his forehead wrinkles quintuple in an instant. "This could be the work of an alien virus. We'll have to initiate full quarantine protocols! Inform the Captain and request a bio-alert." Doc hops to it on full medical alert.
Harry springs off the bed. "Wait! There's no need for that. I can explain."
"I'm listening," Doc says. So is Seven.
Harry looks at her nervously. "Could you--um, give us some privacy?" Seven doesn't budge. "If there is the possibility of an epidemic the Doctor may require my assistance."
"There isn't--and he won't." Still no movement. "Please," Harry pleads. Seven looks to Doc, who nods at last. Harry breathes a sigh of relief when she's gone.
Cheatin' dog. You better not break that Borg, that achy-breaky Borg.
"Last night, I had an…encounter with one of the Varro," Harry confesses.
"Encounter?" Doc asks, a little slow today.
"A...personal encounter." Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.
"Specifically?" prompts Doc, torturing the poor Ensign.
"Sex!" Harry blurts out. Then, softer, resignedly, repeats, "We had sex."
Doc's eyes go wide, truly shocked. "You had intimate contact with an alien species--without medical clearance?"
"It was in the heat of the moment." Sounds like a song… "I didn't think anything like this would happen." Sounds like another…
"Correction! If you'd been thinking you would have considered the risks and exercised restraint!"
Harry starts to protest, but Doc is in full command. "Sit down," he orders. "You'll need a full biomedical workup--and your 'friend' will have to come in as well." Harry goes white. "Do we have to drag her into this?"
"It is my medical responsibility. Which, I'm sorry to say, also requires me to report this to the Captain." Doc does have the grace to look sympathetic.
Even so, Harry groans.
I got a bad case of Loving You…
The view from Janeway's ready room is interesting. She can look down the full length of the generational ship. The vessel is docked to the Varro ship at the moment. Intertwined. Fates joined.
Kinda like the guy at the door.
Harry Kim enters. Janeway doesn't turn around. "I expected more from you," she says. Anger and disappointment fill her voice.
"I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking."
"Don't you? I've seen Tal. She's an impressive young woman--beautiful." Harry wisely says nothing. "But that's no excuse to ignore your obligations as a Starfleet officer."
Harry flinches. "Yes, ma'am."
"There's a reason you took a semester of interspecies protocol at the Academy. There's also a reason why the Handbook on Personal Relationships is three centimeters thick." (There's probably also a reason why it's named after Captain James T. Kirk.) 3cm--that's roughly the size of a paperback John Grisham novel.
Harry stands at attention and dutifully quotes the relevant passage. " 'All Starfleet personnel must obtain authorization from their C.O. as well as clearance from their medical officer before initiating an intimate relationship with an alien species.' "
(The definition of "alien" will no doubt be hotly contested, but as I define it here, it means a species under First Contact, or near-First Contact, where diplomacy is in its infancy and the political implications of personal relationships are impossible to predict. Let alone the medical implications. Rest assured, no species on board Voyager would be deemed alien to any other species on board Voyager--aside from that overall Mars/Venus thing. P/T is safe.)
"Bravo," Janeway drawls sarcastically. "Unfortunately, your recitation comes a little late." She gives him the good news/bad news. "According to the Doctor your condition isn't life threatening. There's no reason to confine you to Sickbay. But I do agree with his recommendation to run full bioscans on both you and Tal."
At last, Janeway turns around to glare at Ensign Kim. She goes nose to nose, staring him down despite being a full head shorter than her Ops officer is. "And her people need to be told so they can evaluate any bio-threat you might've introduced into their population." Ensign Kim does a full-body wince at that, as if the thought had never occurred to him before. He'd hate to be remembered as Typhoid Harry.
Arms folded, Janeway continues her hard stare, the patented Skunk Eye Level Six for official dressings-down. "We're trying to help these people, Ensign; earn their trust. I was even hoping they might return the favor, share their technology, their insights into long-term space travel--but your little escapade put that in jeopardy."
"Permission to speak freely," Harry asks softly. A slight nod prompts him to continue. His voice still soft, contrite, but sincere. "With all due respect...this wasn't a fling. I've really gotten to know Tal, and I've developed true feelings for her."
"Noted," Janeway says evenly. "But there are regulations, and you've broken them. I'm entering a formal reprimand into your record." Harry's eyes go wide. "And I'm ordering you to break off this relationship." They go wider.
"Do you understand?" Janeway's voice is barely a whisper, but loses no authority for the lack of volume.
Harry gulps. The pain in his eyes is clear. "Yes, ma'am."
Neelix catches up with Tuvok in the corridor. He has a few security concerns. He knows that Tuvok tends to blow off incidents involving the raiding of the kitchen--which, I point out, means they've come a long way from their early, lean days in the Delta Quadrant--but brings it up anyway.
"Unauthorized use of the mess hall replicator is hardly a felony," is all he says.
Though Tuvok discounts its importance, he seems impressed by the work itself. Neelix continues. "It wasn't just unauthorized. Someone accessed the ship's environmental controls from that station," Neelix points out. This really interests Tuvok, who reads further. "Life support was routed to Jeffries tube g-33, Deck 15." A normally uninhabited section, Neelix points out. And the procedure was encoded so it wouldn't be detected, Tuvok discovers. Which could well be a felony.
They investigate, and find a pile of protein bars in a blanket, and signs of recent occupation, in the Jefferies tube. They also find a Varro scanning device. Tuvok checks his sensors and discovers that there isn't breathable atmosphere anywhere but here, and right behind this panel.
Off goes the panel.
Looks like they have an uninvited guest. One of the Varro, a frightened young man, apparently decided to become a stowaway.
For some reason, Harry's been allowed to deliver the bad news to Tal himself.
Alone, and in person. What the heck was Janeway thinking?
Tal is staring at a star chart when he arrives. We learn that Tal is an explorer at heart, and she chafes under the Varro xenophobia--they tend to shy away from any area that might be inhabited. The Varro just don't like other people.
Well, some of them, anyway. Tal seems to like Harry just fine. She complains about her people's reclusive ways. "But that's going to change," she vows.
"I'm afraid I've got some bad news," Harry tells her. "I, uh...I can't see you anymore. Captain's orders."
Tal's smile fades. "How did she find out?" Harry tells her about glowing in the dark in Astrometrics. Tal's surprised; "That shouldn't have happened. Our species are too dissimilar." She says the Varro call it the "olan'vora...'the shared heart.' When two of us merge...You know the biological connection we had last night? It becomes stronger. It won't hurt you, Harry, but it will change you. It'll change both of us...Bring us closer."
It's reversible, she admits--in time. If they stay away from each other. "But if we don't, the more we're together, the harder it will be to stop it." It feels good, remember. It's not unlike the pon farr--it's a mating bond of sorts. She smiles sadly. "But then, you have your orders." Ooh, the vixen!
Harry steps away from her, begins pacing. "It's an old story. Boy meets girl from the wrong side of the galaxy. Boy loses girl."
"And girl loses boy," she reminds him. (Funny how the boys tend to forget that part.)
"It's not like we didn't know this was going to end," he says, without much enthusiasm. She joins in. They stand close. "At least we had two weeks." Harry smiles; "Two great weeks." She tells him goodbye. Bye, he answers, and heads for the door.
Then he stops. "Are you really going to let me leave?" he asks without turning around.
"If that's what you want," she says sadly. It's not, he says.
They fall into each other's arms.
If you start me up…
Chakotay and Tuvok interrogate the young Varro male, who is now less spooked and more defiant.
The young man finally explains how he got here, and adds that he has no intention of returning. "I'm not a criminal, if that's what you think." He wants to stay, or be dropped off on the next inhabited (preferably friendly) planet. But he does not want to go back to his people. "Our ship's not the paradise our leaders make it out to be. There are thousands of us who feel like prisoners, and..." He hints at rumors of a movement. "People who want to leave the ship. Some of them are willing to take violent action."
Tuvok prompts him for more details, but the young man decides that Suits are Suits, and these guys are probably in cahoots with the Varro authorities. He reveals nothing further.
Chakotay's frustration shows. "You asked for asylum, fine. I'll consider it. But only if you answer my questions. What movement?" Chakotay gets nothing, so he tells Tuvok to call the Varro authorities, and take the Rebel Without a Name to the brig.
As he's led away, the young man glares. "You can tell the authorities that I'm not the only one. There are hundreds more like me."
* * *
Janeway and Chakotay share a meal in her quarters. Naturally, the coffee is flowing freely.
Chakotay asks about the "insurrection." Janeway says the Varro deny it's anything more than a rumor. Speaking of the Varro, she hands Chakotay a PADD with updated protocols for working with the aliens. "After the incident with Ensign Kim they insisted we keep our crews segregated."
Working together by not working together. Makes sense. "That's pretty severe," Chakotay observes. "Harry violated protocol. Frankly, I understand their position," Janeway says between sips of coffee.
"Is that why you came down so hard on him? A formal reprimand for being intimate with a young woman?" He clearly doesn't approve. Janeway is dismissive. "I know it seems a little extreme...but I wanted to leave a lasting impression. Chalk it up to growing pains."
"Well, he looks pained, all right. Until now, he's had a spotless record. Maybe you should reconsider." This earns him a glare. "What are you implying?" Janeway demands.
"Are you angry because Harry disobeyed orders--or because he let you down?"
The skunk eye moves up a setting. "I set the same standards for all my officers." (All right, people, don't all laugh at once. I don't believe her either.)
"If I object to one of your decisions you'll hear me out...even insist I speak up." Yeah. Then she'll ignore you, Tattoo dude.
"You're my first officer. He's an Ensign." (She says this the same way she said hologram and replicator in "Latent Image." Dismissive.) "He hasn't earned the right to question my orders, whatever his personal views."
Not to make too big a point of it, Cap'n, but an Ensign with a spotless record is usually promoted to Lieutenant within eighteen months. He's more than earned the right to a promotion, but he's been stuck in this dead-end job for nearly five years now. He's also saved the ship numerous times, come back from the dead almost as often, mutinied against Tuvok to save you and Chakotay from a lifetime of bliss on New Earth (a.k.a. Planet of the Squirrel Monkeys)…
Ah. Perhaps that's it. Payback.
But before Chakotay can say more than "I see," Torres hails with information the captain will want to see. She takes off, leaving a pensive Chakotay with his thoughts.
Torres and Seven of Nine show Janeway and Jippeq their discovery: microfractures on Voyager's hull. The cause: silicon-based parasites that are having a little nosh on the hull. Voyager's, and the Varro vessel's.
Seven pulls up a picture of the hungry little beasties at work. They look like chandelier crystals with four spindly legs, and they bob up and down rhythmically, like some sort of parasite dance party.
What's more, Torres says, "We analyzed them and found artificial gene sequences. The parasites are synthetic."
"They may have been created by someone aboard your vessel," Seven suggests. Jippeq scoffs. But Seven gives him a cold stare. "Perhaps not everyone is content to be in your Collective."
Jippeq isn't amused.
Tal, in her quarters, is staring at a PADD-like device. On it is a four-legged chandelier crystal, just like those Seven found.
Hmmm. Looks like Seven was right.
Harry Kim breaks into her room with an audio transmission. "I can't keep this com-link open. Where are you?" She tells him. "Okay. Get ready for a ride. I'm locking on."
"A ride?" she asks, confused.
When the transporter locks onto her, she gasps with a mixture of surprise and bliss.
Tal materializes in a shuttlecraft. It may well be the first time she's ever left her own vessel. It's cramped, but it's new to her, and it's hard to beat that. Even the name, shuttlecraft, delights her.
"We can go anywhere we want?" She asks. "Anywhere," he promises. "For a while, anyway. I'm not due back on Voyager until 1900 hours. They think I'm still out repairing a hull fracture. I finished early." He grins.
They laugh. "You're a fugitive now," she tells him, not minding at all. "How many protocols did you break this time? Let's see...unauthorized use of a shuttlecraft...kidnapping..."
But now Harry's looking a little nauseous. "Direct violation of the Captain's orders...I must be crazy."
"I like you crazy." Foul temptress!
"Navigation?" she asks, reaching for a button. Harry grabs her hand in time. "That's the weapons array. You know, you almost vaporized your living quarters."
"Well, they could use a good cleaning." They laugh again. These two laugh a lot.
Tal asks if they can check out a nearby nebula. "I've been watching it on the sensors for the past few days. Oh, I would love to see it with my own eyes."
Her wish is his command. "Have a seat."
The shuttle nears the nebula. Tal is in explorer heaven. "Look at this--a subspace vacuole near the center of the cloud. It must act as a gravitational anchor."
"You're beautiful when you're scanning," says Harry.
She smiles at him--and what a smile! "Is that what you say to every girl you take for a ride? I bet you've left a trail of broken hearts across the Delta Quadrant."
Before Harry has a chance to brag--or to confess that all the broken hearts have belonged to him--an alarm goes off. It's just a bit of radiation from the nebula, but Harry is spooked.
"You said we had a couple of hours. No one's going to come looking for us," Tal reminds him. "Oh, You don't know Commander Tuvok. If he sees one electron out of place he calls for Red Alert." Tal laughs, but Harry's hyperventilating. "Here we are alone and all I can think about is duty and orders."
Tal musses his hair so she can smooth it back down. "Those things are important. I think about them, too. But sometimes you need to follow a different kind of protocol. If you believe in something strongly enough you can't ignore it...even if it means breaking a few rules."
I wonder how Tom Paris would react to that statement.
But convincing Harry is one thing. Getting Janeway to agree is quite another.
"That's why I took this shuttle," Harry admits. "But every time I break a rule I feel like my skull is going to decompress. I'm like some kind of...Borg drone--programmed. Except I was designed to be the perfect Starfleet officer. Top of his class...Captain of the Velocity team, interstellar honors. First field assignment--bridge officer on a Starship. Every cadet's dream come true!" That's him--RoboKim.
But Tal will have none of it. "You're not a program. In fact, I envy your freedom. I mean, your crew's mission--to seek out life…what could be more liberating? You explore the unknown. Don't be afraid to explore what's happening between us."
But there's another beep. And this time it's not stray radiation. It's the Delta Flyer.
Harry stares at the console while it beeps until Tal tells him the next page might come at the end of a photon torpedo.
It's Tuvok. "Ensign, you are in direct violation of the Captain's orders. Return to Voyager immediately. And bring Derran Tal with you."
Kim's funk is replaced by wary curiosity. "Yes, sir--but why bring Tal?"
"She's wanted by the Varro authorities regarding an act of sabotage."
Harry looks shocked.
Tal does not.
But dang--she's beautiful when she's subversive.
* * *
Conference room. Jippeq is raging. "There's no point in lying. We found a schematic for the parasite on your personal database. You realize this could destroy our ship, our home?!"
"To some of us, it's more like a prison," Tal says with quiet resolve.
"So you've resorted to sabotage--no doubt involving him," Jippeq says, pointing at Harry.
"Mr. Kim's complicity remains to be proven," Tuvok warns. Tal confirms; Harry had nothing to do with their movement. Harry's ears burn at that--movement? This is all news to him. Then again, he has been distracted lately.
Janeway has a similar question. "Tell them," Tal demands, but Jippeq balks. But Janeway insists. Jippeq tries to downplay it, but Tal won't let him. Their movement, she says, consists of hundreds of dissidents with one primary objective. "Our freedom--the right to live as we choose to go where we choose."
"How will you accomplish that if your vessel is destroyed?" Tuvok asks.
"We're not trying to destroy it," Tal insists. "We're trying to dismantle it. The parasites weren't placed randomly. They're targeting the linkages between segments. Each segment will become its own ship. People can decide whether to go or stay."
Jippeq finds this aim to be pretty much the same thing. "You're destroying the work of every generation that came before you! Our ship isn't just a collection of modules. It's an expression of unity, tradition. For the sake of our history we must respect the rights of..."
"Of the majority," Tal finishes for him. Yes, Jippeq says. But she asks, "What about the rights of the minority?"
Janeway breaks in. "Tal...If those segments come apart there could be decompressive explosions...most likely casualties. Is that what you want?" Tal's look is answer enough--she doesn't want to hurt anyone, but she will not be deterred from her goal. "You know more about the parasites than we do," Janeway continues. "You could help us." Jippeq calls her a criminal, but as Janeway points out, Tal is also "maybe your only chance of stopping a catastrophe." She looks at Tal. "Set up a data-link with Voyager. We'll do what we can from our end."
Tal hesitates. Harry chips in with his vote for Janeway's request. Tal softens a bit. "I'll help you slow down the parasites so you can evacuate the segments in danger...Nothing more."
Everyone leaves the conference room…except for Janeway and Harry.
"Stow it, Ensign." Yipes; Janeway is tweaked. One hand on PADD; one hand on hip. Eyes smoldering. Hair on fire. "Right now, the only thing standing between you and the brig is this report. The Doctor's bioscans confirm that you and Tal have developed some sort of biochemical bond. Clearly, it's affected your behavior, so I have to assume that's why you disobeyed my orders." This is Harry; she can't imagine he would ever do so unless it was beyond his control. "Report to Sickbay. You'll be confined there until this is over."
Janeway leaves Harry, mouth agape, in the conference room; she stomps onto the bridge, seething.
Harry, no less agitated, follows. "Captain!" he says in full view of everyone.
"I told you to report for treatment!" she shouts in full Command Voice.
"I don't want treatment!"
Argument? On the bridge? From an Ensign? You might as well detonate a photon grenade where he stands.
"In my ready room," she whispers with the Voice of Doom and a skunk eye that could flash-freeze nebular matter into instant coffee. Her teeth are gritted to the shattering point. The PADD in her hand crumbles to dust. The muscles in her jaw are flexing rapidly enough to alter the ambient room temperature.
This is gonna be ugly.
By the way--the camera made a nice move here--an unbroken shot from conference room to bridge to ready room. Impressive.
Janeway rounds on Harry once they're in her ready room and the doors close, and the firewalls come crashing down. "You've got 30 seconds before I have Tuvok drag you to Sickbay!"
Harry's voice is loud, insistent. "Captain, I am not sick! I didn't disobey your orders because I'm under some alien influence. I disobeyed your orders because Tal and I are in love, and it's not right for you to keep us apart!"
"Listen to yourself! You don't sound anything like the Harry Kim I know."
"Good!" Harry shouts, taking Janeway aback. "I have served on this ship for five years and said, yes, ma'am to every one of your orders! But not this time!"
Uh oh. "You're willing to risk your rank--your career--over this?"
It takes Harry a few seconds to find the words. "Have you ever been in love, Captain?"
"Your point?" Ooh. Didn't win points with that approach, Ensign.
Harry's heart sounds on the verge of breaking. "Did your skin ever flush when you were near another person? Did your stomach ever feel like someone--hollowed it out with a knife when you were apart? Did your throat ever swell when you realized it was over?"
Shot through the heart, and you're to blame
You give love a bad name…
Harry's anguish continues to increase. "Seven of Nine...Seven of Nine!--told me love's like a disease! Well, maybe it is--pheromones, endorphins, chemicals in our blood, changing our responses physical discomfort--but any way you look at it, it's still love!"
If nothing else, Janeway's fury has subsided a smidgen in the face of Harry's pain. Her voice is softer. "For the sake of argument, let's say you're right. Your feelings for Tal are no different than mine for--what? The man I was engaged to marry? Well, I lost him--and you're going to lose Tal. You know that. What the Doctor is offering you is a way to ease the pain!"
Harry stares right back into the abyss of Janeway's glare. "That man you were going to marry--if you could have just taken a hypospray to make yourself stop loving him--so that it didn't hurt so much when you were away from him. Would you have done that?"
I want a new drug …
One that won't make me nervous / Wondering what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I'm with you
When I'm alone with you…
Whether it's Janeway's doing or Tal's, an explosion rocks the ship.
Chakotay summons the captain to the bridge. Harry follows, but hangs back.
"We're detecting structural breaches on the Varro ship," Chakotay reports.
Janeway looks at the expectant Ensign Kim. "Take your station," she tells him.
"Their shields are weakening," Tuvok reports. "One of the junctions is about to decompress," Harry adds. Janeway orders a visual.
They turn on the view screen in time to watch several pieces of exoskeleton blow off the main superstructure, almost surgically.
Voyager gets hammered by the force of the explosion. It's tethered to the Varro ship; what it feels, so does the Starfleet vessel.
Kinda metaphorical, don't you think?
Janeway orders Paris to release the docking clamps. But wouldn't you know it, they can't separate. The necessary systems are off-line.
Kinda like the ones in Harry's noggin.
The crew watches helplessly as another set of support beams are blown away, noticing that every Varro explosion is matched by one on Voyager.
* * *
The Varro ship continues to come apart faster than a jigsaw puzzle in a food processor. Pieces fly off, some of them coming awfully close to Voyager, whose shields glow with resistant energy.
"Their shields are continuing to weaken. The superstructure will collapse in less than three minutes," Tuvok reports.
"If that happens while we're still docked..." Chakotay doesn't finish the thought.
Janeway hails the Varro for a status update. Jippeq says that Tal used a polaron surge to slow the parasites' growth, but the dissolution of the mothership is inevitable. They'll need at least two minutes to get all their people out safely.
Paris reports that systems are online and that they can now undock at any time. Chakotay orders it to happen, but Ensign Kim pipes up. "Wait. If we stay where we are and extend Voyager's structural integrity field around the Varro ship we could buy them another minute or two. They could finish the evacuation." Tuvok points out the downside: "If an explosion occurs while both ships are inside the field neither vessel will survive."
Harry fixes his gaze on Janeway. "We can do it, Captain."
Whatever her reasons, Janeway listens to the Ensign's suggestion, and gives the orders to Torres--extend their integrity field over the Varro ship.
Tal notices the change, and gives a triumphant look at Jippeq. "Voyager is reinforcing our shields. Surprising, isn't it? A ship of outsiders risking their lives to save ours."
"They're…unusual people," Jippeq admits grudgingly.
"Or maybe the galaxy isn't as hostile as you think."
After five years in the Delta Quadrant, I'd probably side with Jippeq on this one. Voyager's found very few friendly races themselves.
A moment later, all the junctions are clear. Tal notices Jippeq is not doing what he's supposed to. "What are you waiting for? Tell Voyager to move away," she tells him.
But Jippeq has other ideas. "I'm initiating another polaron surge. We can destroy these parasites."
Tal rushes to stop him. "It's too late! You'll only destroy Voyager along with our ship. Let them go. Let us go."
Old habits die hard. So do old prejudices. But Jippeq, after a few uncertain moments, reluctantly stands aside.
"Tal to Voyager. The evacuation's complete. Disengage your structural integrity field and move to a safe distance."
Nobody has to tell Tom Paris twice. He doesn't even wait for Janeway to give the signal. "Releasing docking clamps."
Voyager high-tails it out of there, as do scores of individual Varro vessels.
One mighty vessel becomes an empty shell. But the Varro now have a fleet.
Captain's Log, Supplemental: most of the Varro have opted to stay together, traveling in separate ships, but the dissident group has been granted permission to break away and find their own path. We wish them luck.
"Come in," Tal says when her door chimes.
It's Harry (alone and in person--again?!? What is Janeway thinking?). Tal beams. "I wasn't sure I'd see you again!" They hold hands, but no more. "The Captain gave me permission to say good-bye," Harry says.
"How are you feeling?" she asks. "Lovesick," he admits, and the turmoil behind the word is palpable. Tal smiles bravely; "Me, too." They look at each other with sympathy, each knowing what the other is enduring. "Will you manage?" Harry asks. "We have medications. I'll recover, eventually," Tal says.
Harry changes the subject, asking where she plans to go now that she's free. Tal leads Harry to her ultra-cool home entertainment system-slash-computer terminal. Widescreen, even. She pulls up an image from a sensor scan. "The Natori system. A pair of binary stars caught in each other's gravity." (Gee, no hidden meaning there, you think?) "We passed within a parsec three months ago and now we're going back for a real look."
"Do me one favor," Harry says. Anything, she agrees. "Next time you run across a class-three nebula--think of me."
Ah, yes--a pilfered shuttlecraft, a gross dereliction of duty, and thou.
The sky is cryin'
Can't you see the tears roll down the street…
Harry Kim is in Sickbay, looking miserable.
Doc gives the diagnosis. "Chronic sleep loss, acute gastroenteritis--you must feel awful, yet you're still refusing treatment?" Harry looks adamant--leave me to my pain.
No pill's gonna cure my ills
I got a bad case of loving you…
Janeway enters, looking about as determined as Ensign Love. Doc looks relieved. "Captain, just the person I wanted to see. This nonsense has gone on long enough! Order Mr. Kim to take his medicine!"
Janeway casts a baleful look in the Ensign's direction. "Is his condition fatal?"
"That's hardly the point!"
"Will he recover without taking his medicine?"
Doc sees where this is headed. "Yes--but it could take weeks, even months!"
"Well, then, if Mr. Kim wants to suffer..."
Doc throws up his hands. "Sometimes I think everyone on this ship has been possessed by alien hormones."
At the captain's request, Doc leaves her with the patient.
"Thank you," Ensign Kim says softly.
"Oh, don't thank me. I have no intention of relieving you of your duties, no matter how lousy you feel." I understand, Harry says. "And the reprimand still stands." Even that bad news doesn't seem to faze him.
Janeway sits next to Harry. "I've been thinking about how I reacted to your relationship with Tal."
"You reacted like any Captain would," Harry says.
"Probably," Janeway admits. "But I can't help wondering if my response would have been the same if it had been, say, Tom Paris instead of you."
Harry looks at the captain.
"Oh, don't get me wrong. I still would have been angry and disappointed, but...I wouldn't have been surprised." She says it almost affectionately.
But Harry winces a bit. "Because Ensign Kim doesn't break the rules." He almost seems relieved not to have to bear that burden anymore.
Janeway seems a little sad, though. "The truth is, Harry...I think about you differently than the rest of the crew--which isn't to suggest that I don't care deeply about each of them, but--you came to me fresh out of the Academy, wide-eyed with excitement about your first deep space assignment. From that first day, I've always felt more protective of you than the others."
"I appreciate that...but that was five years ago. I've changed."
"Yes, you have," the captain admits.
"Maybe I'm not the perfect officer anymore."
"Maybe not...But you're a better man."
And danged if Harry doesn't get just a little bit misty at that.
It's dark in the mess hall when Neelix turns out the kitchen lights. "Last call," he shouts, though there's only one other person here--Harry, in the corner, elbow-deep in PADDs and a laptop workstation.
That's me in the corner…
Whoops. Wrong genre.
"There's a bowl of soup in storage and I left the replicator on-line," Neelix tells Harry. Thanks, Harry says without looking up. "Good night," Neelix says, offering an encouraging smile that the Ensign never sees.
Neelix almost collides with Seven of Nine in the doorway. He offers to get her something, but she says she's here to see Ensign Kim. "Oh. Good luck," he whispers, and is gone.
Seven approaches, stopping at a respectful distance. "Ensign."
"Hmm?" Harry still is engrossed in his work.
"Thank you," she says.
Harry looks at her, though not with much enthusiasm. "For what?" he asks, his voice a low monotone.
"You completed several of my astrometric scans this morning."
"You're welcome. I had some time between duty shifts. Besides, it kept me occupied." He picks up a PADD and gets back to work.
"You are attempting to distract yourself from your emotional damage," Seven observes.
"I wish I could say it was working."
Seven looks a bit confused. "The treatment to relieve your condition was available--and yet you refused."
"I've got a disease," he says pointedly, "but I'm willing to live with the symptoms." He gives her a brief look. "Doesn't make sense, does it?"
"I assumed that romantic love was a human weakness," Seven says. "But clearly it can also be a source of strength." She hesitates. "Perhaps my analogy was flawed." This gets Harry to look at her again, however briefly. "Love is not a disease," she declares, a major change of opinion for her.
But Harry seems to prefer the metaphor.
"Get well, soon," Seven urges, voice cracking a little with unanticipated emotion.
Seven leaves Harry alone with his work--and we get a good look at what's either a class-three nebula, or the twin stars of the Natori system, locked in an unbreakable embrace.
Hoo boy, where to begin.
First: The issue of "No nookie with newcomers without a note from the nurse."
Am I the only person who thinks this policy makes dang good sense in a situation like the one presented here? From the mail I've been getting, I've been feeling that way.
Consider. A Starship is an enclosed space. Very tight quarters. Lots of interaction between crewmen. Diseases can spread like wildfire on a Starship (and don't make me break out the episode guides to prove it). And when it comes to methods of spreading disease, sex is certainly up there.
Primarily, this is a policy about First Contact situations. By the time a species has been declared officially safe for sexual contact (with or without limitatioins or other caveats), the risks are no doubt known and can be dealt with by medical science and the diplomatic corps, if needed. Until then, who knows what could happen? The sense behind the policy is that it attempts to answer those questions in advance to minimize the impact.
The sixteenth century gave us a really good idea of what can happen in a worst-case scenario, as Spain and the New World began their first interactions--many of them intimate encounters. Smallpox, typhus and malaria devastated Native American populations in the first years of European incursion, more so than their armies could have hoped to:
"…untrammeled, typhus and other introduced diseases, especially African malignant tertiary malaria, devastated native populations…After only one decade of European contact, the Taino were reduced from a population of a quarter million to 14,000." (Proteus, Spring 1992)
Native diseases, in turn, made their way back to Europe.
I've heard the argument this week, "whose business is it who Harry (or anyone) has sex with? It's a private matter." Well, yes and no. Trek history has been generally pro-sex (thanks to Gene Roddenberry) but it should be noted that in the original series, Captain Kirk was the only one getting much action, and he took Doctor McCoy on every away mission. I doubt that was a coincidence. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Kirk and Bones, the Alpha Quadrant is not only relatively well settled, but many of those medical questions got answered as well.
Thanks to Kirk, Will Riker and Julian Bashir don't have to keep Dr. Crusher on speed-dial for every shore leave.
Voyager is one of those shows where the Protocol Books for "seeking out new life" actually have a good deal of practical application. If they'd applied the 3cm book a little more vigorously a couple of years ago, for example, we might have been spared the entirety of "Favorite Son."
But the question remains: whose business is a crewman's social life? The answer, on a starship, dealing with a brand-new species, is everyone's--it could quite literally be a matter of life and death. Privacy is a concern, but the protocols say that a discrete query to the Captain and a quick check by the Doctor is all it takes, and both are expected as a matter of their job description to exercise discretion. Unless there is a compelling reason to say no, I would expect approval to be both speedy and confidential.
Where might there be an exception? Situations like this. Trying to help out and establish some trade and cooperation with a species that isn't sure it wants anything to do with outsiders in the first place. As Janeway told Harry, she had been working hard to establish trust with the xenophobic Jippeq, and Harry's affair came perilously close to ruining her efforts. Janeway had given the orders in advance, at Jippeq's demand, to keep all relations strictly professional and limited. Harry had committed that first violation with full knowledge--and we even saw him fretting about it beforehand.
What business is it of Janeway's who Harry sees? That should be obvious this week--the whole crew was endangered, the ship was damaged, in no small part because of his indiscretion.
Not that I don't sympathize with Harry. But while Janeway gets branded a big sex-hating monster, the truth is that she made the right decision, and nobody really questioned that. Harry defied her orders, but he never really questioned their wisdom.
Star Trek may be pro-sex, but it also champions responsible sex--and shows the pitfalls of irresponsible encounters. Lest we forget, some of the most wrenching episodes in Trek have come when Starfleet officers lost their minds for love, particularly where it clashed with duty. Kirk in "City on the Edge of Forever" and "Requiem for Methuselah", to name but two. Or the alien wimmenfolk like Elaan of Troyius who uncorked the pheromones and made Kirk their love slave, but only for a time because his heart had room only for the lady named Enterprise. All the times Spock fell in love/lust were wildly inappropriate (his pon farr aside) and usually the product of alien tampering. Will Riker chased down dames and brought back mind-altering contraband entertainments in "The Game," and went on a commando mission to rescue his new androgynous sweetheart in "The Outcast." Worf got in deep gagh with Picard when he slew Duras for slaying his mate--which also resulted in the rise of Gowron to the head of the Klingon Empire. Picard himself found himself in the midst of an interstellar incident when "the perfect mate" bonded with him--lucky for the universe, Picard's decorum and devotion to duty rubbed off on her.
And so on. Sadly, though Trek may be pro-sex, it's also notoriously anti-relationship. Sow all the wild oats you want, TPTB seem to say, but don't get involved. Here, there be dragons.
Regarding relationships, I have an obvious question--if Tal and Harry are so stuck on each other, and in the end Tal was free to choose her own path, why didn't Tal become the newest addition to Voyager? There was nothing stopping her, really, and could well have solved more problems than it would have caused. Heck, Tal was brilliant, an engineer of amazing talent, who could have contributed to Voyager's store of technical knowledge nearly as much as Seven of Nine. That Varro condition seems genetically-tailored to foster a committed relationship, and Harry and Tal are already there--so why break up? She would have made a fine addition to the crew.
My point exactly.
Now that we know that thick book of sexual protocol is out there, it could be useful to go back and see who, in the five-year history of this series, has actually had a chance to fall within its mandate.
It's fewer than you might think.
This season, in "In the Flesh," Chakotay passionately kissed a member of Species 8472. We know the medical risks there, thanks to Harry. But Chakotay left it at a kiss, and no doubt went immediately to the Doctor when he had the chance. In "Timeless," Harry informed us of Chakotay's intimate relationship, but she was a human. Janeway shared a couple of kisses with an alien in "Counterpoint," but her obsession with protocol virtually assures that Kashyk was thoroughly scanned for cooties before she let him get near her. There was that bug thing that attached itself to B'Elanna in "Nothing Human," an intimate if not sexual union, but B'Elanna was in sickbay the entire time and it wasn't exactly her idea. In "Infinite Regress" Seven of Nine bit Torres while channeling a male Klingon, but neither is "alien" in the eyes of Starfleet.
In Season 4 we had Chakotay and Kellin in "Unforgettable" (I know, I know), but Janeway gave at least a tacit blessing to that relationship, and Doc had her in sickbay for the early part of the episode. I suspect that Doc pre-checks species as much as possible, just in case someone makes a request. (For that matter, transporters might be able to do the same thing, what with the nicely sophisticated biofilters identifying potential problems early on.) That's the only episode I can think of--no wonder Season 4 was so depressing. Wait--Neelix did flirt with an alien in "Random Thoughts." But she died before she even got to tug his whiskers.)
Season 3 saw much more action. In "Before and After," we had human/Ocampa relations between Tom and Kes (technically an alien, but no doubt thoroughly examined and declared Safe in Season 1), and between Harry and Tom/Kes' offspring. In "Favorite Son," Harry had three vampire fiancées--this episode just screams for Janeway to intervene, but at the time Harry was believed to be a member of that species, and when they left him on the planet for the night you could say Janeway gave her official permission. But more diligence would have come in very handy--just goes to show that the protocol offers plenty of room for error.
In "The Darkling" Kes got intimate with a traveling alien, but Janeway knew she and the guy were close. Doc, though, turned evil and threw the guy--and later himself and Kes--off a cliff. Which goes to show that getting Doctor's approval is very, very important. In "Warlord" Kes (again!) wore leather and suggested couplings and variations we normally expect from The Intendant in the mirror universe on DS9--but she was possessed by an alien at the time, and slaughtering innocent people. Her sex life was clearly a secondary concern. In "Unity," Chakotay and a Borg got together, but Riley was originally human--even so, there were physical and psychological ramifications for messing with the Collective. "Alter Ego" dealt with an alien love affair, but she did most of her interacting with Harry and Tuvok as a hologram. In "The Q and the Grey," Q put the full-courtship press on Captain Janeway, but she turned him down cold without even bothering to alert the Doctor.
Narrowing things down a bit in Season 2, we had Doc and Denara Pel engaging in something intimate on the Holodeck, but both were holograms at the time; holographic characters tend not to fall within the dictates of the protocol. In "Threshold," Tom Paris and Captain Janeway transformed into non-human creatures and became the parents of amphibian offspring, but they can blame that on the bossanova (and the effects of traveling at Warp 10). In "Maneuvers" (confirmed in Basics), Seska--a former member of the crew--becomes pregnant by a Kazon, definitely not on the approved list (human OR Borg). But Seska was one of those rebel Maquis folks who was actually a Cardassian spy, so following protocol was never really her thing.
In Season One--ah, Season One--the only thing that even comes close to an unauthorized First Contact was between an alien woman, and--may I have the envelope please?--Tom Paris, who got involved with a scientist's wife on an away mission. But he'd been convicted of murdering the woman's husband, so again the philandering--if it went beyond a stolen kiss in the arboretum--was a secondary concern.
Forgive me if I missed any. The point is, the reason we haven't heard much about this little book of behavior is, it hasn't applied very often. And where it has, it's easy to expect that the protocol was followed and permission was granted. This is the first time I can think of where Janeway gave an explicit hands-off rule.
But as some curmudgeon once noted, forbidden fruit tastes better.
Now. In Voyager's canon, the two best examples of this shocking breach of protocol belong to Harry in "The Disease," and Tom Paris in "Ex Post Facto." So for those who are shocked--shocked!--that Janeway used Tom Paris as her example of someone who wouldn't have surprised (stunned, is more like it) the captain, it's because he WAS the first to break this particular rule, all those years ago.
Not that I (or Janeway) would expect Tom to do it these days. Violate a direct order, maybe (witness "Thirty Days" or "Nothing Human" or "Random Thoughts"--if he has a cause he believes in, and B'Elanna's high on that list, he might make a hard stand); violate THAT order, no way. Tom hasn't been an actual womanizer since early in season 3, when he began courting B'Elanna Torres in earnest. Witness "Gravity"--he spent months arguing that a married Vulcan had a better shot with Lori Petty's Noss than he did because his heart belonged to B'Elanna.
And even before "The Swarm," Tom's reputation was mostly that. When he found himself falling in love with Kes in "Parturition," he did all he could to stay away from her; he respected Neelix too much, he said. And when he told Harry in "Time and Again" that they needed to get their efforts in early because it was "just a matter of time" before the crew started pairing off, he was actually thinking long-term. As someone pointed out to me, Tom picked the "right" Delaney sister--the sensible one. He pursued Lt. Niccoletti for months--that's not mere studsmanship. He was looking for someone he thought he could make a future with.
That first year nobody knew who each other was, and they were still working out the bugs, figuring out what worked on a mixed crew. Some serious violations were forgiven more readily then than they would be today. They had to be, sometimes, to keep the ship moving. Five years later, there is a routine, and it's well known. Everyone knows where Janeway is malleable, and where she's a brick wall. She grants a lot of leeway much of the time, but she's still captain, and when she thinks something is important enough to issue orders over, those orders are ignored at the violator's peril.
What I'm saying is, Tom Paris might have been singled out, but there is some justification for it. He is the closest thing to a rebel the ship has these days--and that's one of the things I love about the character, even when I disagree (sometimes vehemently) with his choices. He's a good officer. He means well. He prefers to work within the system. He only goes off on his own when the proper channels fail.
This week, it should be pointed out, Tom was a firm advocate for following the rules, and urged Harry to consider his actions--but he still became Harry's accomplice of sorts, covering Harry's tracks and not turning him in. I bet that's covered in that 3cm-thick book as well.
"He's an ensign. He hasn't earned the right to question my orders…" Janeway's statement is technically true, but it's also disingenuous.
Has Harry not earned the right because he's still only an Ensign? If so, she has only herself to blame for that. It's a dereliction of Janeway's duty that "the perfect officer" has gone without a promotion for five full years. Even bad Ensigns usually make Lieutenant j.g. in that period of time, and good ones rarely make it to their second year on the job before their first promotion. Harry has certainly proved his mettle over the years. His personal loyalty to Janeway has been nothing short of phenomenal.
But in five years, we've seen only one rank promotion on board. Tuvok, her trusted companion of many years. (Okay, Torres was promoted to chief engineer in the second episode. But did that come with a rank increase?) I complained about his lack of promotion for years as well. I guess you could say the delay was in part due to his part in "Prime Factors," where he didn't disobey a direct order but he did violate protocol, and to his frequent insubordinations to Chakotay. But if a scofflaw like Tuvok can get promoted, one wonders what it will take for Harry to get one.
So if it's simply that Harry isn't a Commander, well, then only Chakotay and Tuvok have "earned" the right--and she rarely heeds their advice when they disagree with her. Janeway has always been pretty much a law unto herself.
If, on the other hand, she meant that Harry Kim's job performance hasn't given him the right to question, well, I'd disagree pretty strongly with her there. I think everyone has the right to question orders, particularly bad ones. DEFYING orders, that's something else entirely. But questioning? If Janeway's orders can't survive the scrutiny of a little second-guessing…
But it might simply have been a poor choice of words, delivered in the heat of the moment.
Predictably, the big question isn't whether Harry should be punished, but how severe it should be. Janeway's original decision stood--an official reprimand. Chakotay considered that excessively harsh. I didn't.
But that was after the first offense. By the time Harry had repeated the violation several more times and absconded with Tal in an unauthorized road trip, there was no objection to the reprimand. And he yelled at the captain on the bridge, and yelled louder and brought up her personal life as ammunition in her ready room.
He's lucky he didn't get more. He's also lucky he's only an ensign, or he would surely have been demoted to Ensign. He's lucky he didn't lose his commission and become just another yeoman. He's lucky that, whatever his protestations, she could use the technical fact of his "disease" as an excuse to not toss him out an airlock. If it had been "mere" love instead of biochemically-enhanced addiction, I wouldn't have been surprised if Harry had spent some time confined to his quarters--or in the brig.
Because when all's said and done, "it's only about sex" is no excuse for everything Harry did.
Visually, the show was impressive. I liked the Varro ship, that Voyager was docked to it, and some of the visuals that made possible. The attention to detail was terrific. Nice special effects. Gorgeous exterior shots. Even the design of Tal's quarters was good, giving us an idea of both technological advancement and Tal's particular tastes.
The performances were particularly strong this week.
I loved Tal. Of all the women Harry has fallen for, I can actually see these two as a couple. She wasn't merely sexy; she was also sweet, and had that same wide-eyed wonder at the universe that Harry came to Voyager with. She also had a nice complexity to her character thanks to her efforts as a freedom fighting subversive. A formidable woman indeed.
Jippeq was--well, Charles Rocket plays the role of the guy-you-love-to-hate as well as anyone I know, and he is more than acceptably unpleasant here. Jippeq is not really a bad guy--he's paranoid and therefore grumpy around outsiders, and he jealously guards his people's traditions. But that makes him the Frank Burns of his people, and such a character is by its very nature annoying. The "stowaway" was largely forgettable--they never bothered to give him a name. He introduced the plot complication, but didn't really stand out.
In terms of our regular cast, I liked them all this week.
This is Garrett Wang's second big episode of the season, and I think he delivers as well or better here than he did in "Timeless," and I liked him a lot there. Wang has a broader range of emotions to showcase, and I thought he did a great job. I particularly liked the conflict and eventual reconciliation between Kim and Janeway. The J/C scene was also well played. The two Paris/Kim scenes--one playful, one more serious--gave us a clear distinction between an impossible love, and a possible but dangerous one. And the Harry/Tal scenes had a great deal of texture, blending the excitement and passion of young lust with the anxiety of knowingly violating the captain's trust.
All in all, call it (* * *). I liked this one, though I wouldn't say I loved it.
Next week: "DEMON II." Kill me now.