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 y'all.
Some more weird things happen to Harry Kim when he is adopted by the Planet of the Xena Women.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
Voyager maps as it journeys home; they may never pass this way again, but future Federation vessels very well may. The familiar bridge crew is assembled, whistling while they work--it's apparently a stress-free day. They pass a trinary star system, and Chakotay suggests they pay particular attention to it. Ensign Kim asks if they passed one like this recently; it feels familiar to him somehow. Tuvok suggests he may be experiencing a "paradoxical state-dependent associative phenomenon." Harry looks at him quizzically. Janeway, leaning casually against Tuvok's station translates: "deja vu." Harry chuckles, and the rest of the bridge staff joins in.
Their levity is interrupted when Tuvok reports an incoming vessel. Its shields are down and weapons unpowered, and it is hailing them. "Onscreen," says Janeway, striding easily to her captain's chair.
An aqua-hued alien with the facial features of a cartoon muskrat greets them in a pleasant baritone voice. "I'm Alben, Captain of the Nerada." Harry looks up, and seems Janeway introduces herself, her ship, and the Federation. Alben notes that their ship is unfamiliar to him. "We're not from around here," Janeway replies with a smile. All in all, a quite pleasant first contact. Everyone looks at ease, and Alben's demeanor and words suggest they've just made a new friend.
Harry's expression suggests otherwise.
"...let me officially welcome you to Nasari territory," Alben continues.
Harry yells, "That ship's going to fire!"
"What?" Chakotay demands, unable to believe what he just heard.
"We've got to defend ourselves, Captain!" Harry says urgently.
Janeway whirls toward Tuvok demanding a status report; he reports no sign of danger.
Harry shakes his head in frustration and runs his fingers over his controls. Tuvok reports that tactical controls (weapons) have been rerouted to Ops (Harry's station). And that weapons are charging. Janeway, no slouch in the rapid reflexes department, is still reeling when Harry announces that shields are up and Phasers are firing. His tone of voice suggests he's taking this battle very personally.
A beam of angry light strikes the Nerada's underbelly, and a cloud of destruction follows. Tuvok reports a direct hit on the vessel, which is returning fire.
"Red alert!" Janeway barks. Her Eye-o-Death burns a smoking hole in Ensign Kim's hindquarters, but he stares back defiantly, unshakeably convinced he's done the right thing.
So much for a pleasant First Contact.
* * *
An intense battle rages. Voyager's Phasers are answered by Nerada's torpedoes. The Nasari are quite capable of matching the Federation ship blow for blow.
Janeway orders a hail to the Nasari vessel, but they're not answering. Shields continue to buckle. Warp drive is down. Harry tells the Captain he did what he had to do, but Janeway relieves him, ordering Chakotay to Ops. The First Officer has to dodge several explosions on the way there; Harry lets him take the post, and leans into a railing, simmering in his own frustrations.
In Engineering, Torres puts out one fire after another, reporting damage to the bridge and ordering repair teams hither and yon, until a plasma conduit blows up in her face, earning her an instant trip to Sickbay.
Chakotay reports the explosion in engineering, the damage report, and the casualties. Janeway decides that's all she can stands--she can't stands no more. She tells Tuvok to target their weapons array and fire. Tuvok does so, and the Spank Ray does its duty--with one shot, the Nasari vessel is incapable of further attack. (Question: why didn't they do that before the casualties and the heavy damage? For that matter, why didn't Harry take them out with the first dang shot?)
The enemy vessel no longer a threat, Janeway turns her plasma-melting rage on Ensign Kim. Charging at him like that liquid-metal Terminator after John Connor, Janeway gets a few inches from his face and tells him in no uncertain terms he'd better explain exactly what he was doing.
Harry doesn't flinch. "Their weapons were charging, they would have destroyed us, that whole Welcome Wagon bullstuff was a trick," Harry says, matching her gaze evenly, unconcerned that her arms-folded chin-jutted inches-away glare has caused better Ensigns than he to burst into flames, turn spontaneously into pillars of salt, or seek solace in the comforting arms and soothing eyes of Medusa.
Tuvok disputes this. Harry says he detected a tetrion surge. Tuvok said it could have been any number of things. Harry sticks to his guns, unalterably firm in his convictions.
Chakotay asks how he could know this--he's now being tag-teamed by the entire senior bridge crew. Kim, faltering for the first time, says he doesn't know how he knows. "I just--knew. I was only trying to protect the ship," he says lamely.
Janeway puts a comforting--at first--hand on Kim's shoulder and leads him inexorably toward the turbolift. "I don't doubt your intentions; it's your actions that are going to require a bit more justification." She tells Tuvok to go over the sensor logs of the encounter until he has some firm conclusions. "In the meantime," she continues, returning to Harry, not needing to look behind her to know that the security guard is exactly where she expects him to be, "you're suspended until further notice. Go to Sickbay and have the Doctor have a look at your...cut." Her words slice through Harry, to whom the Captain's opinion means virtually everything. Janeway cocks her head to the right, saying not a further words, leaving Harry with one final Gaze of Eternal Peril.
Despite his new escort to Sickbay, Harry looks and feels like the loneliest guy in the Delta Quadrant. Putting his hands on his hips just to make sure every Tak Tak in a fifty parsec radius is offended beyond measure, Harry considers just how far and fast he's fallen in the last five minutes. Careers can take a lifetime to build, and an instant to annihilate. He looks at the security guy, who gives him an apologetic shrug. "Hey, it's nothing personal, Harry," his look says. Harry silently acknowledges this, and they step into the turbolift.
Doc and Kes are working frantically to save Torres. Her lungs have 2nd-degree burns. She's not breathing. She doesn't look too bad, but only because they'd have to rate the episode TV-MA if they showed some authentic in-your-face plasma burns. The point is, she is in a world of hurt, and even Doc is scrambling to save her.
Harry and the Security Guy arrive in Sickbay just as the tide turns in Torres' favor. For Harry, the sight of the charred and unconscious Torres is too much--his actions wounded a good friend. When Torres finally takes a gasping, agonized breath, Harry asks if she'll be all right. "Of course," says Doc. "Another patient snatched from the jaws of death." You just know he's keeping track, too.
Kes--who I just now noticed is wearing her three-year-old grownup outfit, a form-fitting blue-green crushed velvet body suit--notices the gash on Harry's forehead and offers to take care of it. Harry is slumped against a diagnostic panel. "B'Elanna almost got killed, and it's my fault," he moans. Kes asks what he's talking about. "I started that fight," he says. He admits that at the time he knew absolutely that he was doing the right thing, but now...he's not so sure. "It's fading," he says. The danger past for now, Harry has the luxury of time and suspension from duty to play the Hindsight Game, to second-guess himself, to consider only now the implications of his actions. "Everyone could have died," he says. Kes says they didn't, that Torres will recover, and not to worry too much about it. She finishes up the mending of his head wound, and he thanks her for her ministrations and her soothing words. He leaves Sickbay, only to find the security guy waiting. It's a fresh reminder of just how much potential trouble he's in.
Harry tosses and turns in his sleep. His dreams are fitful. He sees his actions in slow motion. He sees a planet, at once alien and familiar. He sees himself apologizing to an unconscious B'Elanna, who wakes up, sits bolt upright and demands to know if that's supposed to make her feel better. He sees himself as a child, being comforted by his mother during his bout with chicken pox, measles, or their 24th-century equivalent. She offers to make him soup, and that she'll always be with him. He sees the planet again. He sees his mother in sickbay, chiding him -- "we raised you to be a responsible boy," she says. He protests that he's tried to be. "I'm relieving you of duty," his mother says. (Calling Dr. Freud...)
Harry wakes up, leaves the lights out as he shambles past the bonsai on the windowsill and into the bathroom (I just knew they had them! We see a tub or shower stall, and a sink, which pulls out for auto-light and water dispensing; it resembles a miniature waterfall. We don't see a toilet, though I did notice three shells, the purpose of which escapes me.) For the ladies out there--Harry's nightwear consists of baggy crimson boxer shorts and a greenish all-cotton top. He wets down his face, and looks in the mirror.
And notices some oddly-patterned blood-red rashes circling the outlines of his face.
* * *
Next stop: Sickbay.
While Kes treats Torres, Doc looks after Harry's rash, since it's the more interesting case now. "The good news," Doc says, "is that it's not contagious." And the bad, Harry asks? Doc scowls. "If I don't find the cause, it'll be difficult to treat."
Harry mentions his dream, "when I had the Mendakan pox when I was nine." He asks if there may be anything significant in that. Doc looks at him in bemusement. "I've never considered dreams as a diagnostic tool before," he says, inferring that he had no intention to start now, even though he says he'll consider the possibility. Harry asks about potential psychological effects; he notes the deja vu sensations, and the overwhelming urge to fire on the alien ship the day before. Doc says these are atypical symptoms not usually associated with the Mendakan pox, but he'll keep these tidbits in memory. His words sound a bit less sarcastic this time. Doc then says Hmmm; Harry asks why, and Doc says his blood chemistry has been slightly altered. The effect of this change, he can't say at the moment.
Kes calls Doc over; B'Elanna is regaining consciousness. She doesn't know how she got here, or why. Doc tells her about the plasma to the face, its repurcussions, and her current prognosis. As usual, Torres tries to leap off the bed and get back to work, but one doesn't simply spring back to action after that kind of damage, even in the 24th century. She gasps in pain. Doc tells her to get one more day of bed rest, at least. Torres slumps back in bed. "For once, Doc, I'm not going to argue with you." Doc smiles at his sudden good fortune and walks away to study the data on Harry.
Harry, meanwhile, pays his respects. "Harry!" she says, glad to see him. "What happened to your face?" she adds, having seen something different about him. "Doc's working on that," Harry says. "It looks good on you," Torres purrs--she must be heavily medicated at the moment; she rarely purrs. "You look like a speckled Targ." She's also smiling easily, and writing on the bed, her tousled hair inviting images into the reviewer's mind that he promised someone he wouldn't elaborate on (I hope you're happy, Todd) so I'll just say that if Paris could see what Harry is seeing, he'd dissolve into a puddle of testosterone. (Fortunately, Harry is above such hormonal imperatives. He's the responsible one, the Buddy type, the utterly sexless being that girls wish their rotten boyfriends were more like, but that they wouldn't think of dumping their current beau for, cuz he's Just A Friend and we wouldn't want to ruin the friendship, now, would we?...But I digress.) B'Elanna is dang cute when she's still recovering from a near-death experience and struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position. At least, I think so. And that's saying a lot about a non-redhead.
But I redigress.
Harry tries to apologize yet again for his recent fit of deadly initiative, but for whatever reason he changes his mind and wishes her a speedy recovery. Doc arrives about now to tell him that visiting hours are over, and that he's free to leave Sickbay. Harry smiles and says his goodbyes, and Torres says "See ya later...Spot," with a playful grin. (I don't think all the dens in Bombay could make even a half-Klingon this giddy.) Harry smiles and leaves. We don't get to see if the security guy was there waiting for him.
Ensign Kim marches stiffly into Janeway's ready room, and without waiting to be admitted launches into his acceptance of all responsibility, saying he was acting on assumptions that may well have been wrong, but...
Janeway cuts him off. "Ensign--you were right." Harry's relief is obvious. Janeway says Tuvok confirms that the tetrion surge Harry detected matched the signature of the Nasari weapons. Harry says he just knew he was right about that--since they first encountered the mousy little armed-to-the-teeth Smurfs he hadn't trusted them.
"The larger question, Ensign, is..."
Harry nods. "How did I know. Beats me." He explains what he's been going through the past few days--how the system they're in now seems more and more familiar to him, and even though it's impossible, he feels like he's been here before. Janeway suggests there could be any of a number of explanations. And like a trouper, Harry rattles off a few of the standard ones--"the list gets weirder as it goes on,"--but in Trek, there's plenty of precedent. (Someone should probably explain Occam's Razor to these people, though--given all possible solutions, the simplest answer is probably the right one. Sure, you can get from New York to Los Angeles by way of Alpha Centauri...but it's not the most direct route.) Janeway also notes, not without some suspicion, his disease and its visible symptoms, the almost alphabetical markings on his face....
She is called to the bridge; three Nasari vessels are approaching. She and Harry join Tuvok and Chakotay on the bridge, learn that tactically they're in no condition to fight. Harry asks to take a look at their star charts, and after a few swift commands he finds what he wants. "We should go here--I know we'll be safe." Janeway considers all her options, then instructs the pilot (not Paris, I noted) to follow Harry's Hunch at maximum possible speed.
Ensign Kim is back on duty.
An indeterminate period of time later, Voyager drops out of warp within impulse range of the system Harry had pointed out. "We'll make our stand here," Janeway says. The three ships are seconds away from weapons range.
Harry notes the planet showing on the forward viewscreens. He gasps--it's the planet of his recent dreams. "Taresia," he sighs, despite himself.
Janeway jumps out of her seat at the word. She advances on Harry. "Do you know this place?" she asks. It was in my dream, he acknowledges. Tuvok reports that another vessel has appeared, approaching them rapidly...from the dream planet. It is not a Nasari vessel, Tuvok reports, but it is armed for bear.
Janeway orders evasive maneuvers. Harry assures them that they've nothing to fear from the vessel.
Cut to exterior view, where the vessel fires, apparently at Voyager, but missing it cleanly. What the blasts do not miss are the three Nasari vessels advancing on Voyager. The powerful jolts disable the adversary, and the bridge crew regards Harry in awe.
"What's your next trick, Harry?" asks Chakotay, smiling. "Pulling a shuttlecraft out of a hat?" (So THAT'S where they keep getting new ones....) Harry chuckles.
Janeway orders a hail to the alien ship. Harry says they're already being hailed by the other vessel. Onscreen, says Janeway. The star field is replaced by a blonde matron, slightly older than Janeway if I had to guess, with facial markings not unlike Harry's. "Alien vessel," she says, "this is the Taresian starship...there you are!" she says, looking directly at Harry. Harry asks how she knows him. The woman says that they detected his lifesigns. "You are Taresian," she says. "Welcome home!"
The jaws of everyone on the bridge drop.
* * *
Captain's log 50732.4. We're beaming down to investigate the claim that Harry's a Taresian.
Janeway, Tuvok, Harry, and Tom Paris beam down to the Taresian homeworld. They are greeted by a dozen or so pretty girls, the sharpshooting Taresian matron, and one Taresian guy grinning from ear to ear.
Harry is the belle of the ball. He is given an Oklahoma Hello, and then some, while Paris curses himself for not getting some Native Tattoos like Harry's. Harry, for his part, is a tad overwhelmed by the reception--four women surround him, pawing him like toddlers at a petting zoo. His Starfleet mind can't seem to wrap itself around the mystery of his newfound hometown. Janeway also has some questions, naturally. The woman does her best to explain. His genetic heritage is Taresian, she says; his embryo was put in stasis and carried to the alpha quadrant, where it was implanted into the womb of an unsuspecting but not ungrateful Asian woman. (Strong women seem to be a constant in Harry Kim's life, I've noticed.)
Harry stiffens at the thought that his mother had been tampered with, and demands to know what they did to her. The woman swears his mother wouldn't even have been aware that Harry wasn't naturally conceived; the Taresians are a symbiotic race that adapt freely to the host mother, incorporating human DNA (in Harry's case) and looking and acting as human as anyone else.
The man, flanked by pretty women who touch him as affectionately as Harry's harem caress him, says everyone here was born on other worlds, and they found their way here. The Taresians have a homing instinct that took them to the stars, and ultimately to here, their true home. Given the welcome wagon, it's hard to imagine not feeling right at home, the guy says.
Harry admits the place does have its charms, but thoughts of Libby and the suddenly displaced position of his mother keep him focused on his questions, despite the attentions of the ladies (who already seem to be jockeying for position to be his favorite). He seems decidedly uncomfortable with all the attention. Janeway points out that they're here in the Delta Quadrant entirely by accident; the older woman, her voice regal and a tad condescending despite her deliberate efforts at warm smiles, says that even if fate hadn't brought him here, he would have been drawn here anyway (whether he made it or not). Everyone who returns brings "an infusion of diverse DNA, as well as their years of experience on other worlds." It's the inverse of seeking out new life and boldly going; these people become new life and boldly return.
A young black woman hands Harry a cup of something; Harry brushes the backs of his fingertips against her cheek. Paris is surprised by the gesture and calls out Harry's name. Harry seems surprised by his actions as well. "That's how you say thank you, isn't it?" he asks, and the girl blushes, giggles and nods approvingly.
Another girl wraps an arm possessively around his shoulder as Harry asks how he can know so much about a place he's never been. The matron says it's genetically encoded into him; and as time goes on, he will become increasingly Taresian, and the memories and understandings will continue to surface. The main rival for Harry's attention, a creamy-skinned brunette, asks if he doesn't feel that this is true. Harry admits that it does. She suggests he grab a bite to eat; this is a welcome-home party, after all. She and the other three girls escort Harry to the buffet table.
While Harry noshes, Paris approaches the only other Taresian male in the room. "Is this the standard Taresian welcome-home reception?" he asks. Only for males, the guy says, not complaining in the least about it. "They're very rare--the population is 90% female." Paris' eyes light up and he erupts into a Cheshire-cat grin. "Really?" They share a grin.
Janeway and Tuvok converse with the matron about the Nasari. She tells them that the Nasari likely attacked because they detected a Taresian--Harry--on board; for them, that's reason enough to destroy a ship. She explains that they have no interest in fighting with the Nasari, and their defensive capabilities prevent a direct attack, but the Nasari have taken to firing on any ships containing those newly-aware Taresians on their way home. Tuvok posits that this may explain Harry's instinctively hostile reaction to the Nasari; the woman confirms that they program this defense mechanism into all their children, to give them a fighting chance.
Harry notes the characters written on the walls of the reception hall. He recognizes them as words, but he cannot yet read them. "You will," his girls assure him. Harry is interested in meeting his biological parents. The girls share an uncomfortable look. "We never get a chance. The fathers take the embryos away to the surrogates. Considering how far away you were born, your dad must have died a long, long time ago." Harry's not pleased at the news, but it is a logical explanation.
Janeway and Tuvok approach Harry and tell him they're going to beam back to the ship. Harry is encouraged to stick around for a while--it is his homeworld, after all--and he has a lot of questions he wants answered. (Why am I getting Castle Anthrax flashbacks here? There's way too much peril here, Galahad!) Janeway gives him all the time he needs, Paris wishes him good luck, and they leave him to his trio of dedicated, touchy-feely admirers. He seems embarrassed by all the attention, but after a while they coax a smile out of him.
Doc shows Janeway the DNA scans of young Ensign Kim. The story told by the Taresians appears to be supported by the medical evidence. The Taresian genes have been hiding among recessive DNA strands, not asserting themselves until the past few days--perhaps triggered by their arrival in the system. Janeway considers the implications of this--what will Harry say when it's time for Voyager to leave? Will his newfound Taresian heritage be too compelling to leave behind? Or will his Starfleet training and his innate compulsion to dwell among the stars and explore the infinite variety of existence continue to dominate? Only time will tell.
Speaking of leaving--there is still the Nasari to consider. Tuvok points out that Harry is, as a Taresian, an enemy worth blowing up Voyager to kill, simply because of his DNA. Janeway would really prefer to settle things peacefully between them and the Nasari, so should Harry decide to continue back to Earth with them, they won't be shot at for the next few months. Since Harry's spending the night planetside, Janeway is advised, now might be a good time to venture out, Taresian-free, and chat with Alben and his cohorts.
The other guy and Harry are sitting in comfy chairs, sharing their motivations for getting into space from a young age. The other guy joined the merchant fleet (he looks completely human aside from the Taresian markings) so he could explore every corner of space. Harry felt the same compulsion to join Starfleet. He remarks, not entirely pleased, that it's strange to think that he was compelled to do so by alien DNA. "Not compelled...motivated, perhaps," says the guy. "Along with other traits--an interest in math or music, perhaps?" Harry admits his musical bent, and found it odd since his parents were both tone-deaf.
The women arrive and plop down on the laps of their respective men. They wield strange looking implements, like tattoo needles. The other guy eagerly accepts the offer from his woman, a cute blonde, to plunge the short-needled thing into his neck. Harry's not so willing. He wants to know what it is. "A feel-good thing," he's told by the comely black woman who seems to be winning the battle for his affections. The guy confirms that it feels good. Harry still demurs.
The guy nods toward the woman snuggled up to him. "This is Malia; she's going to be my first wife." First? Asks Harry, his eyes widening. You already planning on the second? "And a third," Malia confirms; "We're all to be joined with Taymon tonight." The guy--Taymon--holds up three fingers and grins like a guy about to marry three gorgeous women: "what a country!" When the ratio is 9-1 female, a little polygamy makes a lot of sense. (I oughtta know....but I'll get to that later.)
Malia asks Harry what humans call it when mates are joined together. "Marriage," says Harry, "though it's usually just between one man and one woman." He laughs a little. "How unusual," says Malia, curiously unamused. "I do hope you'll come to the ceremony tonight," she adds. Harry says he wouldn't miss it for the world.
Malia and Taymon share a final passionate kiss, and Harry's as-yet-unnamed suitress (what is the feminine analog of suitor?) gives him a parting smooch. "Don't be afraid to indulge yourself, Harry," Taymon says. "Everyone wants you to be happy. You're important to us."
Harry smiles, letting his mind wander. That's what my parents used to say, he says. They'd been trying for years to have a baby; I was their "miracle child." They sacrificed, spoiled me rotten, gave me everything I wanted--I didn't feel I deserved that kind of special treatment. I wanted to be more than an average kid. I used to imagine i had special powers--Klingon strength, psychic powers, able to leap tall buildings...
Taymon says they were right about him--he is something special, far more than an average human. He's a Taresian, Taymon says, and that's cooler than even childhood dreams can imagine. "Do you feel special now, Harry?" he asks. Harry considers this; "Yeah, I do." He gives his first genuine, unfettered smile since his arrival. On cue, the affectionate brunette appears and offers to give him the mother of all neck rubs. Harry accepts it eagerly.
"I think you're really going to like it here, Harry," Taymon says, grinning.
"I already do," Harry admits.
"Enough to stay?" the woman with the magic fingers whispers into his ear.
Harry stiffens a little. "I don't know about that. I'm happy on Voyager; that's my home."
The woman says he could be happy here too. She slips onto his lap. Taymon assures him he doesn't have to decide anything immediately. The woman feels his uniform tunic and suggests it's too restrictive--"I can get you something more comfortable." Harry considers this, then says Thanks--"I mean--" he caresses her cheek. She responds, delighted, by kissing his fingertips.
Voyager is surrounded by Nasari vessels. Janeway and Alben have reached a sort of agreement. "I see no need for further hostilities between us, Captain," Alben says. Janeway says she's glad to hear that, and hopes he'll feel the same way when Ensign Kim is back on board. Alben says there's little chance of that--those who "come home" to Taresia seldom leave it. "There are rumors about those people, Captain..." Janeway cuts him off; she's not interested in rumors. Alben's tone turns harsh; if Kim returns to Voyager, they will attack again. They cut communications.
Chakotay asks if they should give credence to those rumors. Janeway doesn't care to think about it, "but I'll feel a lot better when we've got Harry back."
The ship reaches Taresia, only to find it surrounded by a polaron grid, which their sensors and transporters can't get through. And the planet isn't responding to their hails. It would appear, says Tuvok, that the welcome mat has been withdrawn.
* * *
Dozens of candles are the only illumination in the marriage chamber. Harry, decked out now in traditional loose-fitting Taresian menswear, is accompanied by the brunette. Both are carrying intricately carved, 5+ foot-long ceremonial staffs. She lights another candle, and tells Harry not to worry--that he'll remember what to do when the ceremony begins. Harry takes the candle used to light the other candle, and blows it out. They share a smile.
Taymon, dressed pretty much like he was before, enters the room solemnly. Amal ulat, he says. Let us be joined. He is encircled by his three wives, clothed and veiled entirely in red--even the hands are covered by the crimson gauze. They touch his face, his chest, his back and shoulders. As he stands with the stillness of a king at his coronation, his wives begin to walk around him. The others in the room also circle him, in the opposite direction. They strike the floor with their staffs in a rhythmic cadence. A small crystal gong is rapped to mark the ceremony's progress. Taymon accepts without comment the circular markings made on his temple, throat and forehead with a slick reddish clay, daubed on with a stick. Nor does he object when he is blindfolded, his hands bound behind his back, with black sashes taken from the ceremonial outfits of the wives. Harry, as promised, fits right in, using his staff in time with the rest, no hint of uncertainty in his actions. The room's occupants are swept up in the moment. As Taymon is led away by his wives, all the staffs in the room strike in a final staccato rhythm. (Stomp would have been proud.)
The ceremony complete, Harry asks the brunette his question. "Why do they tie him up like that?" he asks. She tells him it symbolizes the binding of their lives together. "Do you find it exciting?" she asks; he admits he hadn't considered it from that angle before. His smile doesn't exactly answer her question. The black girl returns, asking if he plans to stay for the celebration. He says he should contact Voyager first; they should be back by now. He withdraws a few paces, and the brunette and the black woman share a concerned look.
Harry, satisfied he's alone enough to talk with the ship, chuckles softly, then taps his combadge (even in the Taresian informal garb, he's got his combadge on in plain sight, not letting any of his newfound people forget where he came from, or his intentions to keep in touch with them.) Voyager doesn't respond. Repeated efforts fail, and his consternation grows.
The matriarch appears with a couple of goblets, expressing her joy that he was able to be here for the celebration of Taymon's Joining. Harry asks if Voyager's returned yet. She says not that she knows of, but her tone isn't convincing. Harry doesn't call her on it. She says it's likely their delay may stem from the stubbornness of the Nasari, but she assures Harry that they'll be along soon. "But in the meantime, enjoy yourself--and you're welcome to stay the night." She leads him back to the celebration.
On the way to Sickbay, Chakotay tells Janeway they've managed to poke some holes in the Taresian shields, but not big enough to squeeze Voyager through. A shuttle isn't likely to make it, either. To make matters more interesting, a Taresian ship is patrolling the other side of the planetary defense grid--"and we've seen what they can do," Janeway notes.
In Sickbay, Holodoc tells the Captain that her concerns about Harry's Taresian heritage were well-founded. He did some more research, and found that Harry was not, in fact, born with the recessive Taresian traits. They are, indeed, of relatively recent origin. He can even pinpoint approximately when the transformation began, right around stardate 50698. "That away mission where we found the Verillium," Chakotay notes. Harry had been separated from the group for a short time on that mission. Infection could have come from any number of sources--food, drink, air...
Apparently, the DNA got into his system through a sort of retrovirus, which may have been eradicated by the transporter's biofilters...but not before the virus had slipped into his cells, where the biofilters couldn't get at the pesky double-helix. Here's the problem, Doc says: once the transformation began, it isn't programmed to stop until he's fully Taresian. He must be treated soon, or he won't be human anymore.
So...Harry picked up his Taresian genes at a planetary outlet store. He's been lied to, seduced by all manner of pleasures and joys...and for good measure, cut off from his ship and crew by means that cannot be considered anything but unfriendly.
The Taresians are about to learn a very important lesson: You mess with Voyager's children, and you risk the wrath of Mama Janeway.
The brunette shows Harry to his bedroom. He thanks her, and says goodnight with a kind but dismissive tone.
"Get into bed," she tells him, caressing his face. It's a Queen size.
"You gonna tuck me in?" asks Harry. She's unfamiliar with the term. "It's a human custom; parents tuck their children into bed. They tell them a story, sing them a lullaby to help them sleep." He sits at the edge of the bed and removes his boots.
"That's sweet," says the brunette. She turns down the lights, takes a crystal jar of a clear liquid from the vanity and sits on the bed beside him. "Lay back and relax," she says. "Lakari Essan," she coos. "Do you understand?"
Harry chuckles. "Pleasant dreams." She murmurs her approval, caresses his face, and kisses him. "Now close your eyes," she says. He does so, and she dips a finger into the liquid and glides it across his forehead, down the bridge of his nose, tracing a meandering invisible path around his face. "Smells good," Harry sighs. She says it's the essence of rikka flowers. "Very soothing," she says, her voice fairly reeking of rikka flowers itself.
They kiss some more. And more passionately. Lakari Essan, she says again. Goodnight, Harry. She leaves him to his dreams.
Alone in his darkened quarters, Harry dreams.
He sees his initial reception on Taresia--a panorama of beautiful, doting young women, welcoming him. The black wonman tells him he'll like it here, and kisses him passionately.
He sees Chakotay on the bridge of Voyager. "We've been lucky to have you, Harry," Chakotay says in a fatherly tone of voice. The view pans leftward, across the faces of his trusted colleagues and best friend Tom Paris, and Captain Janeway telling him "You really have been special all your life."
He sees his mother, comforting him as the child with the Mendakan pox. "You know where your real home is, Harry," she tells him, her voice stern and perhaps a bit hurt that he would even ask the question.
He sees himself in his new Taresian outfit in the darkness of his bedroom. "I think you'll like it here," the brunette Taresian says. "Stay with me." She embraces and kisses him possessively, caressing his face, leading him in a backwards waltz toward the bed. She sits him on the bed and hovers over him with her affections until he takes the hint and rises, takes the initiative, and takes her to bed. The passion of the moment dispels all random thought; every attention is given to the woman who would be his first wife. No longer hesitant, Harry gives succumbs to the freely-offered flesh. (It should be noted that the clothes stay on at all times, and the hands seem to avoid areas that might alarm the ratings boards.)
Harry and his brunette siren are soon joined in bed by his other chief admirer (I must admit I'm a tad irked that they have yet to give these women names), whose kisses replace the brunette's. In the interest of decorum, this does not degenerate into a Pay-Per-View Howard Stern special. The brunette leaves the bed while Harry kisses the other woman, though she returns shortly...with a black sash that bound the eyes and hands of Taymon at his wedding. She places it over his eyes.
Harry wakes up. Both of the women of his dream are in bed with him, caressing his face.
Harry sits up quickly, out of the range of their hands. He's not pleased by their presence, particularly without his permission. (There's way too many P words in that last sentence.) He scrambles out of bed. They pursue, and return to touching him as soon and as often as they can get away with. They tell him he's been spending too many nights alone. They tell him they know he's got the same natural desires as any Taresian. They tell him he doesn't have to hold back any longer.
They tell him he can't fight genetics.
"I can try," Harry says. He sits back on the bed and puts on his boots.
Choose me, says the black woman. Choose us both, says the brunette. That way you'll only need one more wife.
Harry says he's not choosing anybody.
The brunette protests that the whole reason he felt compelled to come here was to fulfill the biological imperative--to have children. "Listen to your instincts," she urges.
Harry tries to get up. She pushes him back down. Harry applies the Riker Maneuver--a swift backflip roll across the bed, landing perfectly on his feet, ready to flee. "I'm returning to Voyager," he insists.
The black woman tells him he couldn't be nearly as valuable to them as he is to his Taresian people; "we need you," she pleads.
The brunette picks up the baton. "You have a responsibility to pass your genes on to the next generation. If there's anything your Taresian genes have given you it's a sense of duty and loyalty."
She has no idea of the severity of her mistake. "My loyalty is to my crew and to my family back home," he says, angry now.
"You don't belong with them anymore," they say. "This is who you are--one of us. Your place is here." Her tone is smug. You can't fight genetics.
Like hell I can't.
Harry heads for the door. The two women don't let him leave--once they get within caressing range, they're at it again. (Talk about a one-note orchestra...) "Let yourself be happy," the black woman says, running her hands through his hair. Think of Taymon and how happy he's been, she says.
The brunette joins in the caressing. "It's the right choice, Harry. This was the life you were always meant to have." The black woman gives him a lingering kiss.
Harry returns it.
When they finally break, Harry chuckles. "Maybe this life wouldn't be so terrible," he confesses, and the women sigh in relief. Talk about a hard sell....the black woman smiles delightedly.
Unnoticed by Harry is the brunette's smile--a feral, smug, victorious.
"You'll hold a place of honor among our people," says one.
"You'll never be lonely again. We'll make sure of that," says the other.
Harry touches his chin. "Three wives?" he asks. They giggle affirmatively. He takes the brunette and says she's definitely on the list. She affirms she's felt a connection between them since the moment he arrived. He takes her hand and leads her to a metal chair, and gestures for her to sit. She sits, her demeanor coldly regal.
Harry caresses the other, the approval in his gaze sufficient for her. He starts untying the black sash from her gown. Her eyes are questioning, but Harry assures her he's simply infusing a little Terran culture into the Taresian culture of marital affection.
He ties the brunette to the chair, binds her hands behind her back. "What are you doing?" she asks. Harry leans in close, dangling the sash over her face. "Like you said before," Harry soothes. "This could be exciting."
He gags her. She doesn't seem to be enjoying herself.
"Remember...you both want to make me happy, don't you?" he asks, pulling up another chair for his other prospective bride, gesturing grandly for her to join the "fun." She seems confused, but part of her Taresian instinct suspects this may be something other than foreplay. She decides she doesn't like the turn their relationship is heading, and moves to untie the brunette.
Harry clubs her with a Taresian lava lamp. She lands with a thud. "So sorry," Harry offers apologetically, leaving the brunette to struggle with her gag and restraints as he heads for the door.
You can't fight Starfleet training.
Harry skulks through the corridors unmolested (a term fraught with meaning on this planet) until he reaches Taymon's quarters. It's bad form to interrupt the happy foursome on their wedding night, but Harry would appear to be a bit of a rebel as far as this world's concerned. Taymon doesn't open the door or answer the bell. There's no sound in the room beyond, so Harry breaks in, muscling the petals of the doorway apart.
He finds Taymon, still blindfolded, on the bed. His wives are not here. But it appears they were, for Taymon is nothing but a shriveled carcass. Where the red glop was painted on his neck, forehead and temple, Harry sees nasty (and unnatural) looking welts.
Ya know, when folks tell me marriage sucks the life out of you, I always thought they meant it figuratively.
* * *
Harry doesn't have much time to look at his former friend in horror before the door chimes. Harry grabs something sharp and metallic off the bed stand and hides. A lone woman -- Malia?-- enters. Harry throws her onto the bed, threatening with the metal whatever. "So is this what I should expect on my honeymoon?" he demands angrily.
"It would have been a lot better for you if you hadn't seen this," she says. Well, duh.
Harry asks what they did to Taymon. "We must denucleate a large number of cells before we have sufficient genetic material for conception," she says. In other words, in order for us to breed, the man's got to die. Harry says so aloud. He's not pleased at the news; he must have come closer to accepting this planet's charms than he led me to believe.
"Any father should be willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his children," she says.
Harry asks if anything they've told him is true, strongly suspecting that he might not be what they told him he was. She confirms that he wasn't a Taresian until they made him one. She uses the word "transformed." The word appalls Harry.
"You'll be celebrated for your contribution," the woman says.
"Contribute this," says Harry. He grabs her and holds the nasty-looking sharp thingy to her throat--it looks like it could make a lethal puncture. He demands that she take him to a communications terminal. She resists, but Harry's determination is stronger. Taymon's Cryptkeeper visage is motivation enough for that.
The door chimes again. Harry retires to his now-familiar hiding place, dragging Malia along with him. Two more Taresian females--a blonde and a long-haired Asian, looking more Amazonian than the others--stride into the room. Harry waits for them to pass, then backs toward the doorway. He threatens to kill Malia, but she just laughs. "You're more important to us than I am; if they have to kill me to get to you, so be it." The Terminator Twins advance on Harry.
Harry throws Malia at them, knocking the three of them on top of the dessicated Taymon as he makes his escape.
Chakotay says they've found a way to punch a large enough hole in the planetary defenses to attempt a beamout, though the window of opportunity is slim. "I'll work fast," Chakotay promises. Janeway looks to Tuvok, who says the new shield configuration is online. She looks to Paris, who says full impulse is available at her discretion. "Rock and roll," barks Action Kate, and Operation Harry Kari commences.
It's rough going the first few seconds, as Voyager plows through the marshmallow resistance of the polaron field. Tuvok says they need more speed, and Paris gives it to them. A few more seconds and they're through--but the Taresian patrol ship is now on an intercept course.
Janeway lives for moments like this. Her eyes light up like flares, her mouth crinkles at the corners in anticipation, every cell in her body swells with anticipation when she gets to utter her favorite of all favorite words:
Harry enters the main reception hall where he first beamed to Taresia, his stainless steel death-spork in hand, when the women advance. Bearing their ceremonial staffs. Only now they don't look so ceremonial--they look downright martial. Suddenly, Harry finds himself on Planet Xena.
Every nook and cranny of the room, it seems, is hiding an armed and determined Taresian woman. Harry heads for what looks like an empty passage--only to be attacked by a wild-eyed redhead with a row of teeth that could replace Teddy Roosevelt's on Mount Rushmore. Harry manages one parry with his relatively puny weapon, but within seconds he's on the ground, doing what he can to dodge the blows from her staff. He manages to grab it, pull the woman down, and wrestle briefly with her until he can wrest the rod away from her. When he finally gets to his feet again, he's encircled by warrior babes with the need to breed. And like the LAPD out of camera range, they proceed to tenderize the cells they intend to denucleate. (The scene reminds me a great deal of a similar one from "The Chute" only with better lighting and more festive costumes. The constant is Harry getting the crud kicked out of him.)
He gets nailed in the back with a staff, and lurches toward the Taresian matriarch. "This could have been a joyous occasion," she spits at him. "Amal Ulat!" she shouts, and one of the Taresian women has the crystal gong ready to strike for the occasion.
[I've heard of shotgun weddings, but this is my first big stick wedding.
Now let me get this straight. Harry is Taresian because of a virus, and he's about to have the life sucked out of him because of it at the point of dozens of large sticks? Talk about a nasty staff infection....
I know, I know. I'm going straight to hell.]
The Taresian warrior wimmens get ready for some marryin'. They whip out the black sashes and the red paint, and advance on Harry.
"I won't let you do this to me!" he screams angrily. He's smacked on the spine for his trouble. The paint comes again, as do the sashes. He slaps them away, gets pummeled, and still they come. And still he resists.
"Harry, there's nowhere to go," seethes the matriarch.
Harry considers this, knows things look bad. But hope springs eternal.
The familiar tingle of a transporter lock embraces him.
There's nowhere to go, Harry.
Except up, babe.
Harry looks skyward, raises his arms, gesturing to be welcomed back into the nurturing bosom of mother Voyager.
"We got him," Chakotay reports.
"Make tracks," says Janeway.
Tuvok reports they're taking fire from the Taresian ship; Janeway orders return fire. Paris reports a new problem: the three Nasari vessels are closing in fast. The ship rocks under fresh disruptor blasts.
Harry exits the turbolift, still in his Taresian threads. "Harry," says Janeway. "Captain," says Harry. A lot passes between them in this brief exchange.
"Welcome back," says Chakotay. "We could use your strategic intuition about now." Harry nods. Janeway tells Harry she's counting on the Taresians and Nasari being more willing to battle each other than to take on Voyager together. Harry confirms her expectations.
Voyager gets hit with weapons from all four ships for a few seconds, but as each Nasari vessel nears the Taresian, it alters its target. Soon, Voyager is ignored. Janeway orders them to get while the gettin's good.
In the Mess Hall, Harry tells Neelix the story of Odysseus and the Sirens; how the sirens sang a song so beautiful they could lead any man to his death. Odysseus, knowing this, had the men of his ship cover their ears (with wax, as I recall) so they couldn't hear the song. But Odysseus had himself strapped to the mast, unplugged, so he could hear the song and not be able to do anything about it.
Tom says he can see the allure of the Taresian siren song; "I've never seen so many beautiful women in my life," he says.
It wasn't just the women, Harry says--though at the scoffing chuckles of Paris and Neelix he confesses with a shrug that the women were indeed part of the attraction--"It was the excitement. Of having a new identity. Of being more than just the Young Ensign Kim."
Neelix pinches Harry's cheeks like an irritating aunt at a family reunion. "I for one am glad to have the Young Ensign Kim back. Though I do think you should have kept the spots--they looked very distinguished." Harry chuckles.
Tom regards his friend. "I don't see what's so wrong about being you." He rattles off Harry's good traits. Harry says there's nothing wrong with that, but he'd rather be more like Tom. Tom laughs, but there's some pain there. "You might want to reconsider that, Harry, there might be prison time involved." (Didn't they already do some prison time together? More than once, as I recall: "The Chute" and "Ex Post Facto." And Harry's had his share of run-ins with authority, in "Non Sequitur" and "Emanations," just to name two.)
They share a laugh about the prison time crack. Paris turns serious for a moment. "Actually, since I came aboard, I've tried to be more like you." Harry scoffs. "No, really. You're my role model! You're reliable, hard-working, extremely punctual--did I mention polite?"
"Thanks a lot," laughs Harry, as they leave the mess hall, arms around each others' shoulders.
WhenI saw the teaser for this show, I wasn't encouraged. "Venus" by Bananarama? Young Ensign Kim turning into The Orgy Guy?
Whoever does the promos should be keelhauled.
That gripe out of the way...I liked this one.
It's a well-worn plot device: give Harry a good reason to leave or stay off the ship, but Young Ensign Kim will do whatever it takes--including die--to get back. If I were Garret Wang, I might be concerned that the writers and producers are trying to tell him something--like "do what we tell you or Harry will not be back aboard when the final credits roll.". How come it's always Harry who ends up having to make these Big Decisions, time and time again? I smell a conspiracy.
Pardon my rant.
The story, as Harry himself concludes, is as old as Homer. The worse it is for you, the more attractively it will be packaged. And my, but what pleasant packaging the Taresians have managed to put on Honeymoon Homicide.
Harry, if this episode is any indication (and I think it is) is hopelessly attached to strong, nurturing motherly types. His dream sequences with his mother and Janeway more or less acting interchangeably explains a lot about him. I found this interesting, because the parade of nubile Taresian women may have been exactly the wrong approach to take with Harry. If anyone might have convinced Harry to stay, it would have been the planetary matriarch, who was at least superficially not unlike Janeway--strong, commanding, not unkind, but quite used to getting her way. Harry is drawn to women like this. The way-too-accessible women, fondling him incessantly, may be alluring to a point, but I was annoyed with them long before even Harry seemed to be. They projected desire at him in spades, but as for actual affinity? Nothing. They believed the male hormonal imperative to be enough ("if you're there, they'll want you") not realizing that even 24th-century Earthlings can be picky about who they consort with. That they may crave something more than mere physical gratification.
Although...in the case of Harry, there was more to it than that. We learn about his childhood. About his desire to be "something special," and his inability to appreciate those qualities of his which others would likely consider special. He was a musical prodigy. He was skilled in math and the sciences. He was disciplined, honest, made friends easily, and was extremely punctual. These are not universal characteristics. But he had a hard time appreciating those--he wanted to be a superhero, a secret agent, a wünderkind. He wanted to feel as special as he was being treated--to find a reason to believe he deserved the doting of his parents.
I've felt this way sometimes. I think everyone has at one time or another. We often want what we don't have, and don't really appreciate what we do. "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence," and so on. The Taresians made Harry feel special--he wasn't just Harry, he was an alien and didn't even know it, conceived thousands of lightyears from his birthplace, carried by destiny (and a coherent tetrion wave) back home, to be welcomed as a hero, and given a hero's due: a harem. (Sure, it was a lie, along with most of what the Taresians said and did.)
Solomon had a thousand wives and concubines. Brigham Young had 27, and he didn't hold the record in 19th-century Utah for "parallel monogamy." One of my ancestors was a polygamist. Mohammad curtailed the maximum number of concurrent wives to four. By earth standards, and considering the ratio of men to women, the Taresians seem downright conservative with their three-wife limit. But I suppose there's only so many death circles one can paint on a man before he's got nothing left to give.
Though most of Solomon's marriages may have been political, throughout history the primary reason for polygamy has been offspring. The reproductive imperative is difficult to suppress. While we may disapprove of the Taresians' methods, I can't begrudge them the right to breed. The insect kingdom has its share of analogues--the preying mantis and the black widow, just to name two. It stinks for the male of the species, but they do have the consolation of genetic immortality. The Taresian culture has made it as pleasant as possible for the men who will give their all "for the children." They may not make it past the wedding night...but what a way to go.
A frequent if unspoken complaint I have is about the dearth of people on these remarkably sophisticated societies. How many Taresians are there on that planet? A few dozen? I know cost and casting must be limited, but Taresia resembled nothing if not a love-starved sorority house. I can't see these women developing (1) the sort of technology that could match the Nasari, or (2) the sort of technology to not only foster breeding with aliens, but to transform those aliens into something genetically compatible. It's one of those things you probably can't get around, and it's hardly limited to Voyager. But it's late, and the thought begged to be voiced.
The sexual content of this show was higher than usual. I found it mostly annoying, though, as I said earlier. I couldn't picture Harry with any of the women who latched on to him. They weren't his type. I don't think it is accidental that the most sensual moment in the episode was in Sickbay between Harry and B'Elanna Torres--who are simply good friends. There was an intimacy in that scene--not sexual, but comfortable, trusting...real. Plasma burns and all, Torres was prettier by far than the most adorable of the Taresian sirens.
I found it interesting that Harry never seemed to get into Taresia, though he gave it the old college try a few times. His instincts wouldn't let him let his guard down entirely, no matter how insistent the seductiveness of the situation. The more people tried to make him feel at home, the less at home he appeared to feel. I don't blame him.
One of the siren songs was, "trust us, trust your instincts, everything good about you comes from us, everything that doesn't match what we say is not of us, and can be safely left behind." For someone like Taymon, that may have sounded perfectly reasonable. But Harry earned his discipline, cultivated is talents, took pride in his accomplishments (at least as an adult). The brunette's insistence that his sense of duty and loyalty was the product of recessive Taresian genes was gravely insulting, and probably shattered for good all hopes of his deciding to stay. They not only insulted everything he knew about himself...they dissed his mother, and his captain. Taresia, Janeway, and Mama Kim all considered Harry their "Favorite Son"--that's what his dreams were all about. Reconciling his alien genetics with a lifetime's worth of nurturing. All the sexual promise in the galaxy can't compete with that, if one is raised as Harry was.
I'm not sure about the whole concept of genetics impacting memory, etc. It's not my field, though I recall writing in a story that "a sense of humor is genetic" and getting criticized severely for it by some professional sf writers. The jury may still be out on this, though I can (and have) imagined it plausible, at least to the layman. Scottish sheep cloners may have other opinions on the matter.
I could go on, but it's late. I liked the final Paris/Kim Mutual Appreciation Society exchange; they have a lot to learn from each other, and they make a great team. The crack about prison seemed a tad dated, though.
The bottom line: on a 0-10 scale, I'll give this a 7.25, or (* * *). I'm being a bit generous, but I think the exploration in to Kim's character (meeting his mother, in particular, but also discovering how he sees himself now, and did as a child) was significant, and the final confrontation with the circle of staff-bearing Amazon women had an Action Pack feel to it. Had Harry let out a primal "ay-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi" like Xena, I would have given this an automatic five stars. Having the knee-length wild-eyed redhead in there helped push this into the three-star range, though.
Next week: Repeat of "Warlord." Kes gets possessed by a centuries-old megalomaniac, and explores her darker side against her will.