My reviews are highly opinionated, longer than your average Costner film, and prone to digressions. They retell each episode from beginning to end in excruciating detail, so if you haven't seen the episode yet and want to be surprised, run away.
But if you don't get Voyager in your area, this may be the next best thing to being there. That's my hope, anyway. Agree or disagree with the rants and raves, I hope you'll have fun along the way.
Chakotay dates a big-eared blonde with a husky voice. (No, Kes isn't back.)
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
On the bridge, Lt. Paris listens while Chakotay grills Ensign Kim over his latest assignment with Seven of Nine, something to do with deuterium collectors. Harry takes the long way around the report--there's a complication due to a lack of communication between himself and the former Borg--until an impatient Chakotay cuts him short. "In a nutshell, Harry."
Harry sighs. "The collectors are almost full. But I can't tell exactly how full until I realign my sensors with Seven's."
Chakotay shakes his head. "Why didn't you just say so? Next time, work closer with her from the start." He leaves Harry with burning ears and a chewed butt.
Harry sighs heavily. "Closer. Right," he mumbles to himself.
Paris tries to lighten the mood. "So, you're going to...realign your sensors with Seven's. Sounds like fun!" Harry glares at him, but there's not much heat behind it.
The banter is forgotten when the ship is rocked unexpectedly. Chakotay's first suggestion--it's Harry's fault--proves incorrect. The truth is less obvious.
An invisible space battle. With Voyager caught in the middle.
There isn't much they can do to stop it, or even to watch it. All they can do is hang on until it's over. One of the invisible ships blows up, and the debris becomes visible. So, soon, does the victorious ship.
It was an even fight. The surviving ship is in pretty sorry shape itself. In the brief period the invisible ship becomes visible, Tuvok is able to scan one life sign.
That ship hails Voyager, on audio only.
"Chakotay, please, I need your help," a female voice calls out.
Needless to say, Janeway and Chakotay look at each other. This personal hail is even stranger than an invisible space battle.
* * *
In a cool exterior shot, the alien ship, floating nearby the much larger Voyager, fades in and out of view as though gasping for breath.
The woman's voice repeats. "Chakotay, are you reading me? Please answer."
Janeway nods to Chakotay. "This is Commander Chakotay. Who are you?"
The woman apparently can't hear his reply. She asks to speak with anyone on Voyager, just before an explosion cuts the signal. Harry reports that the little ship is in deep kimchi. Janeway tells him to beam the woman to Sickbay, but repeated attempts to lock on fail. Like the ship, the woman herself appears to go be only sporadically detectable, making transport impossible without a more secure lock.
Chakotay recommends sending an away team. She approves, and he leads Tuvok and Paris to the alien vessel.
The inside of the alien ship is dark, dead, and cluttered with debris. The away team uses its hand lanterns. Tuvok's scans indicate that the ship won't sustain life for long. Chakotay assigns Paris to repair life support, and Tuvok to stabilizing the creaking hull. "I'll look for the pilot," the Commander says. She did ask for him by name, after all.
Chakotay calls out, and gets a muffled response. He tracks the source to a pile of junk, under which is a stockinged leg and red heeled shoe. (Insert your favorite Wizard of Oz joke here. Non J/Cers can insert a Red Shoe Diaries reference.) Whoever is connected to that leg is thoroughly stuck, and likely injured. "Chakotay, is it you?" the mostly-unseen woman asks.
"Yes," he says. "I'm going to get this bulkhead off you."
"The beam will fall," she warns. He looks up, and notices a heavy looking beam dangling by a participle directly overhead. He looks at the surrounding debris and finds a sturdy looking metal pole of sufficient length to use as a lever. He tells her to get ready to roll away "like your life depended on it" when he gives the word. She agrees.
He wedges the pole under the fallen bulkhead and leverages it a few inches, just enough for the woman to free herself. "Now!" he shouts, and the leg disappears. He lets go and springs away. A second later, the beam plummets, crunching down on the debris with what could have been a bone-crunching whump.
Chakotay rushes over to check on the woman, gathering her in his arms.. She's blonde, has cascading waves of strawberry blonde hair, her outfit is made of a deep-red crushed velvet or something similar, and her ears are large even by Trek standards. And that voice is oddly familiar, deep and inherently seductive. She could be, with little modification, an older sister of Kes.
"I knew you'd come," the woman whispers, eyes sleepy, lips full.
"Do I know you?" Chakotay asks.
Her only response is to lapse into unconsciousness.
In Sickbay, Doc has as much trouble locking onto the alien's medical signs as Harry had locking onto her transporter signal. Chakotay hovers over the unconscious woman, wondering how she knows his name.
Janeway enters seeking a status update. "I'm not certain," Doc confesses, handing Janeway the scanner. "Her readings won't stay in the database. Luckily, I'm a master of visual diagnosis." Janeway and Chakotay share an oh-brother look. "She has a minor concussion and a compound tibular fracture--nothing life-threatening. I can repair the damage."
Doc treats the more serious head wound first as Janeway asks Chakotay if he's learned anything yet, like how the alien knows his name. Chakotay can only shrug and say not yet.
Doc's efficient ministrations produce immediate results. The woman groans, eyes closed. "I can't," she murmurs to herself as she regains consciousness. She opens her eyes, and for the next moment we are treated to the rather disconcerting ConcussionCam. Her blurry first glimpse is of Doc, way too close to her face. "Don't be frightened," he says pleasantly. "You're quite safe here."
Her fuzzy perspective moves from Doc, to Chakotay, and finally to the Captain. From this angle, Janeway's hair looks kinda goofy. (It looks fine from more traditional angles, but the bio-bed view isn't one of them.) It is to Janeway that she speaks first. "Captain...please...I need asylum," she rasps. "You must let me stay on your ship, and we've got to get away from here. They'll be coming after me."
"Slow down a minute," Janeway says. "I have a few questions first." (In a nutshell, right, Cap'n?) "Who are you? And how do you know my first officer?"
The alien smiles weakly, her breath still labored. "It's a complicated story. I'm not...I'm not sure...quite how to begin. But if you don't give me asylum, they're going to track me down, and they're going to take me back. And I don't want to go." Janeway assures her that she's safe--at least until they get the whole story--and the woman (as yet unnamed, but I'll cheat--it's Kellin) thanks her.
Janeway pulls Chakotay aside while Doc works on some of Kellin's other injuries. "I want you to stay with her. She seems to trust you. Maybe you'll be able to find out what this is all about." I hope so, agrees Chakotay. "Keep me informed," Janeway says, then exits.
Kellin seems to breathe a bit easier when Janeway leaves. Doc, moving his attentions to her leg, says she'll need to rest after this last repair. "Will you stay with me?" she asks. Of course, he says. "Then I'll be fine," she says, closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep with a contented expression. Chakotay grabs a chair and sits by the bed, staring intently at her.
Doc's bone-knitting is complete in seconds. "That should do it. I'd ask you to monitor her vital signs, but since they aren't registering I suppose there's no point," he says, smiling at his own joke--until he notices that Chakotay isn't paying attention. His smile fades, and realizes that his presence is now an intrusion. "Well...I have several days' worth of inoculation records to catalog. I suppose I'll get to it." He exits, moping a tad. Chakotay jumps when Doc walks by, then returns his attentions to the resting mystery woman.
Kellin seems to sense (must be those keen-hearing ears of hers) Doc's departure. "Is he gone?" the alien asks, eyes still closed. Yes, Chakotay says, not understanding. She smiles impishly. "Then we're alone." Her eyes open and she looks at him, eyes still sleepy.
"In a manner of speaking," Chakotay says, unsmiling. "Can you start clearing up a few things now?"
"I'll try. It's complicated," she says, smiling broadly, laughing easily. "You see...we've met before."
"If that were true, I'm sure I'd remember," Chakotay says.
"No, you wouldn't. You couldn't. You see, the memories of my people can't be held in the minds of other races. When we encounter others--which we do infrequently--they remember us for a few hours...but then the memories fade away. We're completely forgotten by the next day."
[Insert your favorite Spice Girls joke here.]
"Is this done through technology? Telepathy?" he asks. She explains that it's biological--and that their cloaking technology complements their biology. "When you live a covert existence you develop technology to enhance it."
"But you say we've met before," he says, getting back to his original question.
"About a month ago. I spent several weeks here." He smirks at the suggestion. "You and I worked closely together," she insists. "You helped me a great deal. Then I left...knowing that you would forget everything about me."
"Then why did you come back?" asks Chakotay. "Why the battle? Why ask us for asylum?"
"I know you want everything in a nutshell," she says knowingly--using the word he'd said to Harry earlier in the hour. "That's the way you work. But I have to tell you the whole story before it will make sense."
Chakotay shifts in his seat. "Fine. I'm listening."
"I came back...Because I fell in love with you."
His blank stare speaks volumes.
* * *
Chakotay reports his findings to Janeway, Tuvok, Paris and Kim.
"She comes from Ramura," Chakotay explains. "It's a closed society that won't tolerate anybody trying to leave."
Imagine--an entire society based on the Book of the Month Club...
"Apparently, she was disenchanted with that and wanted out," he continues, leaving out the more personal details. "They're trying to bring her back. That's why she's asking for asylum."
When asked about her claim that she was on Voyager before, he goes on. "She says she's a 'Tracer'--a kind of bounty hunter who tracks down people who try to leave their world. She found a runaway hiding on Voyager." Or so she says, his tone suggests.
Paris speaks up. "I was looking at her ship. It uses a sophisticated polarization technique that causes our sensor scans to pass right through it. She could have been shadowing us for quite a while." (And you naysayers scoffed at Tom's engineering expertise in "Vis a Vis"...)
Kim suggests the woman could be making all this up. But that begs a different question. "Why go to that trouble?" Janeway asks. "What about the battle with that other cloaked ship? She put herself in danger when it would have been a lot easier simply to ask for asylum."
"I agree...but I think we have to make sure she doesn't have some hidden agenda," Chakotay says. He explains that the alien claims she implanted a computer virus to remove evidence of her stay; he assigns Tom, Tuvok and Harry to go over the computer logs to see what they can come up with. (See TNG's "Clues.") They exit.
Janeway and Chakotay stay behind. "I agree we should take precautions," Janeway says. "But you seem very suspicious of her."
"I want to make sure we're not being manipulated," Chakotay says.
"I agree. If we grant her asylum we'll be in the position of having to protect her. If we're going to commit to that we should certainly find out if she's telling the truth. I'd appreciate your thoughts on that."
"Aye, captain," he says, and exits. Janeway watches him go, her expression thoughtful.
Tuvok and Seven work with Kellin in Astrometrics. They pull up the records of Voyager's flight path over the previous two months, and then merge in Kellin's flight records. Just as Kellin asserted, their records show a parallel flight path for a couple of weeks, which displays on the big display monitor.
Kellin smiles. "There, you see?" Right. She's talking with Tuvok and Seven here. You could say Good Morning and they'd run a full multi-spectral scan to verify. Both point out the possible alternative explanations for the data--and reasons to question the data itself.
Kellin laughs. "That's what I always liked about you two--such unyielding logic, such refreshing skepticism. Run a diagnostic on my logs. You'll find they haven't been altered."
Chakotay enters and asks Tuvok for a status report. "Her story seems to be legitimate, but there are further steps to take," Tuvok says.
"Then take them," Chakotay says. His tone softens slightly as he approaches Kellin. "I thought you might like to get something to eat--unless your memories of our mess hall aren't good."
She smiles. "As a matter of fact, I was quite fond of Neelix's food." Chakotay laughs, and they exit.
Seven approaches Tuvok. "Commander Chakotay's face became flushed as he spoke with her. What does that signify?"
Tuvok winces. "I'd rather not engage in speculation. It is a dangerous pastime."
Seven looks suitably abashed. Or at least frustrated; had Ensign Harry "Gossip Boy" Kim been there, the walls would have been reverberating with his speculations. Seven realizes that with her emerging humanity, Tuvok may be an exceptional work partner...but there are still times when even Harry Kim has his uses.
Chakotay and Kellin stand at the counter while Neelix points out the details of the meal. "I think our guest will enjoy this, Commander--fried soy meal, buttered carrots, and a delightful almond pudding." Kellin gives a Kes-like "Sounds wonderful." Chakotay says, "Very nice. Thanks, Neelix." They head to a table.
"You were very diplomatic," Kellin smirks.
"Why do you say that?"
"You hate carrots; fried food upsets your stomach; and you refuse to eat pudding because you think it's slimy. Right?"
For all her claims of knowing Chakotay so well, this rather public discussion of such a private person suggests otherwise. He stiffens, and switches to a more official topic. "I'm curious. When you were here before you said we worked together. But you also said you were here to retrieve a runaway. How was I involved?"
"Aren't you more curious to hear about how we fell in love?"
"'We'?" Chakotay asks, startled. "You said you were in love with me. You didn't say I felt the same way."
"If you hadn't returned the feelings do you really think I would have taken such a terrible risk to get back to you?"
"Let's take it one step at a time," Chakotay says. "How did you get on our ship?"
"That was easy. The hard part was looking for the runaway without anyone finding me. I managed two days on the ship before I triggered an intruder alert and lost my cloak."
"And then what happened?"
"And then...I met you."
It's dark in Cargo Bay Two as Kellin flashes into visibility, armed and adorable. After realizing she's in trouble (warning claxons and her own visibility), she skulks around for a few seconds before Chakotay shows up, hand phaser aimed straight at her. She returns the favor.
"Wrong direction!" he shouts.
"I don't want to hurt you," she replies softly. "Put your weapon down."
"On my ship, I give the orders," he growls. "Put yours down."
"I don't mean you any harm. You have a stowaway on board. I'll retrieve him, and we'll be on our way."
"That's not the way we do things here." He hails Tuvok and calls in the cavalry. "You're about to find yourself outnumbered. If you want to give me your weapon and explain what's going on, I'll listen."
After a moment's thought, Kellin does so.
Cut to present.
"I felt an attraction right away but I couldn't afford to get distracted. I had work to do. And I didn't know if you felt it, too."
"What happened next?" Chakotay asks.
She sighs. "You took me to Captain Janeway. I explained the situation. She didn't like the idea of a stowaway on her ship, so she told you and Tuvok to work with me to flush him out." ("Scientific Method" probably ruined things for all subsequent invisible aliens with thoughts of a free ride.)
"And did we?" he asks.
Kellin shakes her head sadly. "You keep trying to jump to the end. You're skipping all the parts about us."
"And you keep trying to talk about your feelings. I'd rather you stick to the events, not the emotions surrounding them."
"Why? Does it make you uncomfortable?" She really should know the answer to that if her version of events actually took place.
"I don't want to play this game," Chakotay says. "I've been assigned to talk to you--to figure out whether or not you're telling the truth. Even if you are, I have no memory of meeting you, and I certainly have no memory of feeling anything for you! You might remember a relationship between us, but as far as I'm concerned...it didn't exist."
Kellin finally takes the hint. "I see," she says, and leaves the table, staring out at the stars. She clasps her hands behind her back...just like Kes.
Kids, this is creepy. Is there a Freudian in the house?
Chakotay, feeling like a heel, gets up and walks over. "I'm sorry. I just want to make it clear how I feel."
She continues to stare impassively at the stars. "Of course," she says neutrally.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" He asks.
She hesitates, then turns toward him. Her eyes are as large as hot tubs in an Aspen ski lodge. "Can I have your pudding?" she pouts playfully.
Chakotay, caught totally off guard, can't help but laugh. "Gladly."
She smiles all big and purty like. Her eyes flutter. An animated bird lands on her shoulder, its chirps heralding the arrival of spring. "Then you're forgiven."
The ship rocks. Kellin loses her balance, falling full-on into Chakotay's arms. She stays there longer than she needs to, but Chakotay doesn't complain. (Then again, no guy with a pulse would.)
Janeway's voice rings out like a voice from heaven. "Chakotay and Kellin. Report to the bridge immediately." (This is the first official use of her name in the episode.)
"It's the Tracers. They've found me," Kellin says, never letting go of Chakotay's arms...or his eyes.
The ship rocks again. Bodies collide. They linger.
Then they run for the exit.
* * *
Invisible ships strafe Voyager.
"I'm assuming these are your people," Janeway says.
"They've come to take me back," Kellin confirms, standing behind her.
Hails fail, and the alien weapons go through the ship's shields like butter. No shield modifications make a lick of difference.
"They'll keep firing until you surrender or until I contact them and agree to come back," Kellin says.
Janeway turns around. "Do you still want to stay?" she asks. Kellin says Yes. Janeway nods. Protect her they will.
Now, kids, put on your thinking caps. How many times has this happened?
1. "Tom, get us out of here."
3. "Sorry, Captain, we just lost warp and/or impulse."
Count 'em up...and now add one more.
Kellin says she may be able to tweak their sensor systems to detect the Tracers' ships--with the captain's permission, of course. Janeway agrees--there's little to lose (Assuming Kellin is telling the truth--the Delta Quadrant expectation is that now's about the time that aliens' true motivations come into play)--and gives Kellin the go-ahead.
While Kellin works, Janeway leans in to Chakotay. "This is the moment, Chakotay. Either we give her up or we fire back. Which one is it?"
Chakotay thinks furiously, condensing all his instincts, suspicions, preliminary data into a single decision, a single word. "Fire," he concludes.
Janeway nods; with that word, they've just adopted the newest member of Club Fed.
Kellin reports that she's done, and they should be able to see the ships--briefly. Harry confirms, and when Janeway asks for a visual, we see two sparkling clouds forming the rough outline of ships and the weapons they fire.
Janeway tells Tuvok to target the aliens' weapons systems. Tuvok fires, and the two ships come into full visibility. The Tracers beat a hasty retreat.
"Well done. Stand down red alert," Janeway says to the bridge crew. To Kellin, she says, "It seems we've granted you asylum. Now you'll have to give some thought to what you want to do."
"I'd prefer to remain on board," Kellin says.
"Consider that carefully. We're headed for the Alpha Quadrant. Before long, we will be so far from your world that if you change your mind, you couldn't get back."
"I won't change my mind, but I must warn you--the Tracers won't give up that easily. Your ship is still at risk."
"Nothing we haven't faced before," says Janeway, not bothering to elaborate. Wouldn't want to scare the girl away, now, do we? Kellin offers to make her temporary sensor modifications permanent, but that she'll need Astrometrics to do it. Janeway agrees, but says it'll take a command officer to override the security lockouts. Chakotay volunteers to do that, and the captain agrees.
Chakotay and Kellin move rapidly through the corridors on their way to the Jefferies tube. Soon they're alone in the mood-lit chutes and ladders section of the ship. Chakotay leads the way.
He notices that Kellin is holding back. "Is something wrong?" he asks.
"I can't relax until we're far enough away that they realize they can't get me back...and to my knowledge, that's never happened before."
"There's always a first time."
"I have a high security clearance. They'll be afraid I'm going to do...exactly what I'm about to do--show you how to detect them." She moves closer.
"Look at it this way. If they do figure out we can spot them they might realize they aren't going to be able to take you back." He smiles warmly.
"You're such a kind person. That's what I remembered most. It's what made me turn around and come back."
Kellin climbs the ladder. Now she is leading the way. "And sometime, you might be interested in..." She gets one of those enigmatic Kes looks. "...Hearing about our last night together." She smiles as she climbs.
Chakotay's not smiling. But he does appear to enjoy the view.
Mess Hall, after hours. Neelix is alone, organizing a collection of multicolored peppers, when Chakotay enters.
"Evening, Commander. Craving a late-night snack?" Neelix asks pleasantly.
Chakotay's looking restless. "No. Something to help me sleep. Got any ideas?"
"I know humans think warm milk will do it," Neelix says. He and Chakotay each make a face. "Frankly, I find it repulsive."
"I agree," says Chakotay. "What's available in the tea area?" Neelix offers a few general selections. "Just mix me up whatever you think is the most relaxing," Chakotay says. He distractedly toys with one of the peppers.
Neelix can't help but notice. It doesn't take a morale officer to figure it out. "Problems?" he asks. Chakotay flinches a bit, and Neelix heads back to the counter. "Forgive me. I wasn't trying to pry."
"I know that," Chakotay says softly. "I'm just not sure how to answer you." Kellin seems to be fitting in, they agree. She seems to be happy here, they agree.
But Neelix senses the problems lies elsewhere. "Forgive me, Commander. But sometimes it's best to be straightforward. It's obvious how she feels about you--to me, at least. I-I see how she looks at you. Might that be the source of your consternation?"
Chakotay finally says what's on his mind. "She says she--or rather, we--fell in love when she was here before. Since I can't remember any of that I don't know if it's true. But somehow, it's hard to believe."
"Why is that?" Neelix asks.
"I don't know. It just doesn't seem like me. I'm still suspicious of her. I don't know if she's using me in some way just for her own purposes."
"You don't trust her," Neelix says.
"Not really," he admits.
"May I suggest...that maybe it's yourself you don't trust," Neelix says carefully. "Your own feelings that you're afraid of."
He hands Chakotay a hot, steaming mug of liquid relaxation. "Sweet dreams," he says with an understanding smile.
Chakotay sits alone in his darkened quarters, sipping at his tea.
The door chimes. Unlike some Starfleet officers I could name, Chakotay answers his doors manually. So he's mere inches from Kellin's face when the door slides open.
"I couldn't sleep," she says. "I need to talk to you. May I come in?"
Chakotay hesitates, then waves her inside. He's not in a chatty mood.
"I was just wondering if you still had doubts about me, or if you believe what I told you about us," she says, standing too close for comfort.
Chakotay swallows. "Your story seems to have been verified. I believe you're telling the truth."
That wasn't exactly the answer she was looking for, and her eyes grow sad. "And the rest of it? What about us?"
Chakotay starts to answer. Then he takes a few steps away from her, his back turned, saying nothing.
Her voice is low, measured, but sad. "I'm not one to hold back, as you may have noticed, so I'll get to the point. I came here because of you. I knew you wouldn't remember me but I was sure we could regain the feelings we had before."
Chakotay turns around. They lock eyes. Still, he says nothing.
"They were there," she continues, intense yet controlled. "They were real. But now I'm not so sure."
Chakotay swallows, but keeps silent.
Kellin gives it to him in a nutshell. "My being here puts this ship at risk. It's better for everyone if I go back to Ramura. So please--be honest. If you feel nothing for me... just tell me...and I'll leave."
An infinite silence ensues.
Kellin's controlled emotions gradually make room for an enigmatic smile, which reaches her eyes.
Chakotay looks like a deer caught in the headlights.
* * *
Chakotay's quarters are still dimly lit. But it seems a lot brighter for some reason.
Could be the reflection of starlight from two broad smiles near the window.
Kellin is laughing between spoonfuls of something. "It's called 'ice cream'?" She asks.
Chakotay laughs as well. "I'm surprised you didn't have any the last time you were here."
She takes another bite. (At least they had the courtesy to give her a bowl and spoon rather than a cone; that would have been too much for poor J/C hearts to bear.) "I could eat this every day," she coos.
"Then you should," says Chakotay. (I knew I liked the 24th century for a reason...)
But even ice cream can't solve all the galaxy's problems--only delay them. Kellin's tone grows more serious. "Voyager's a very powerful ship. And very fast."
Chakotay catches on to the unspoken concern. "We've met people with ships that are faster and more powerful. But Voyager's always managed to be a match for the best of them."
But she's still worried. She puts down the bowl. "Ramuran vessels are fast. They could stay up with this ship." He promises her that they'll keep her safe.
She sighs. "A Tracer never goes home empty-handed. The disgrace would be too great. When I was here before I'd been tracking that man for almost a year."
"But you know all the tricks," Chakotay assures her, more from her description than from his own purged memory. "You can use them against anyone who tries to come after you."
And then...Chakotay changes the subject to the forgotten relationship for the first time. "You said you were going to tell me about our last night together."
Stick a fork in him, kids...he's done.
Kellin's mood improves dramatically. "Let me show you." She leads him to one of the chairs in the room, sits him down, then takes the other for herself. "You were sitting here in this chair, and I ...was here. And we were drinking something with bubbles," she says, taking up an empty glass.
"Yes. I wanted to celebrate. I'd caught my runaway that day--with your help."
Chakotay seems surprised. "How was that?"
"You came up with the idea of using a magneton sweep to disrupt his polarization cloak. We knew he'd be watching me closely so...we tricked him."
[Wayne and Garth do the "dudududu" Flashback Noise]
[We see Chakotay walking with Kellin into a transporter room. They chat pleasantly, "sorry you came up empty," "ah well, I'll get him next time," yadda yadda. She stands on the platform, he wishes her a fond farewell, and works the controls.
Then the room starts to flash. In the flashing we see a very surprised looking Ramuran. After about a half dozen magneton sweeps, a personal cloak shuts down, revealing a bummed-looking guy who glares at the weapon Chakotay has trained on his face.
"Hello, Resket," Kellin says to her fellow citizen. "You were a real challenge."
"I haven't had the chance to welcome you to Voyager," Chakotay adds. "Too bad you'll be leaving so soon."
Back to the here and now of the there and then.
"We put him in the brig. Once I used the neurolytic emitter on him he was only too happy to be going home again." She raises her glass in a toast.
"Neurolytic emitter?" Chakotay asks.
"We use it on runaways. It wipes their memories of the outside world."
Chakotay accepts this more readily than we'd expect from a former Maquis. "So--we were celebrating...?"
"You'd become much more than a friend to me, but I knew I had to go home, and you'd forget about me within hours. So I took the initiative." She smiles carnivorously.
Chakotay smirks. "More than usual?"
She rises from her chair. "Oh, yes...."
She circles his chair in close orbit. "I moved closer to you...I thanked you profusely for all your help...told you that I couldn't have done it without you..."
Her lap around the Commander ends when she plops down on his lap.
"And I touched you. I told you I...I cared very much for you...And that I wanted something to remember you by. And then I did this."
As far as the memory-purged Chakotay is concerned, his last kiss was over a year ago. Given that, you'd think he'd look more enthused about the whole thing.
"That's when I knew you felt the same way," Kellin says when they come up for air. "But it didn't matter because I still had to go."
"But now you don't," says Chakotay.
They kiss some more. At least he kisses back a little this time. But as usual since her return, she does most of the work.
Chakotay strolls the corridors with Tuvok. "If Kellin's going to be with us, the Captain wants her to serve a function--to contribute in some way," Chakotay says.
"A reasonable expectation," Tuvok agrees.
"Basically, she was a security operative for her people. She's a trained expert in weaponry surveillance, fighting skills. Any idea where she might fit in?"
If Tuvok takes the hint, he doesn't let on. "Mr. Neelix could use an assistant in the mess hall."
Chakotay's in a good mood, so he laughs. "Tuvok, that was a joke! Don't deny it--you were trying to be funny."
"If you choose to interpret my remark as humorous, that is your decision," says Tuvok, not bothering to take offense. "It's perfectly logical. All the qualities you mentioned would help in defending Neelix against the periodic wrath of the crew."
Now that's comedy. Chakotay laughs some more, then gives a But Seriously. Tuvok agrees to put her on a security team for a while as an observer, then they'll go from there. They discuss the possibility of future Ramuran ships coming after Kellin. Tuvok suggests that she work with Seven and Harry to find a way to counter the aliens' weapons. Chakotay agrees, and an appointment is set.
Kellin and Seven work together at one station while Harry gets shunted off to the background. The crew has learned from long experience that Harry's effectiveness at any given task is logarithmically proportional to the physical distance between himself and Seven of Nine. More than ten feet away is optimal.
"I've downloaded data from our tactical logs," Seven says. "You can access it from this console."
Kellin puts up a visual of Voyager getting fired at by Ramuran ships. "Our weapons are proton-based particle beams--very tightly focused."
From his station, Harry notes, "It's like being hit with thousands of needles."
"They can penetrate any shield even if the modulations are changed," Kellin confirms.
"Very clever," says Harry, impressed.
"No defense has ever stopped these weapons," Kellin says with a mix of anxiety and pride.
Harry smirks. "Then maybe we're about to make history."
Kellin looks at him, startled. "You've found a way to counteract them?" She moves over to him, where he's tapping furiously into a PADD.
"I think so," he says. "The trick is to scatter those beams a little--make it harder for them to penetrate the shields. I think we could do that by tying the baryon sensors into deflector control." He finishes his tapping and hands the PADD over. "Why don't you look this over and let me know what you think?"
Kellin smiles gratefully. "I'll do it right away." She heads for the door.
Harry stops her with a word. "By the way, I hear Chakotay recommended you to Tuvok to serve on a security detail." (Gossip Boy strikes again!)
"I want to help out in some way," she says.
Harry smiles. "A word of advice; volunteer for Beta squad. They're the best team. You'll learn a lot from them." She accepts the advice as warmly as the PADD, then takes her leave.
Leaving Seven and Harry alone. Fortunately the ten-foot rule is still in effect.
Seven points out that Kellin flushed when Harry mentioned the Commander's name. And that Chakotay had done the same when Kellin entered the room earlier.
Harry ain't Tuvok; he doesn't mind pressing for details. "What are you saying?" he asks.
"I suspect the Commander and Kellin are engaged in a courtship ritual." She look thoughtful. "It seems an unnecessary and complicated precursor to the act of procreation."
Thank goodness for distance. Harry has room, and nerve, to laugh. "I know you think so, but trust me--some people need those rituals." He walks toward her (oh, no...) until they're well within each other's personal space.
She turns to him. "Explain," she commands.
Harry gets that familiar uh-oh look. Eyes wide, pulse rapid, mouth drying up, stammering like Porky Pig. "It's...It's usually considered a good idea if two people get to know each other a little before they become...you know...intimate."
[Insert bad jazz music here.]
"Why is that?"
"Uh, because it's more--comfortable. Uh, you spend some time together, you laugh, you talk. And that makes it easier to...to get...closer."
"But the end result is the same, is it not?"
"Well, I guess so..." (Attaboy, Harry; way to strike a blow for old-fashioned romance...)
"Then I fail to see what is accomplished by all the talk."
Seven of Nine would either be the coolest girlfriend on the planet...or the scariest. For Ensign Kim, poster boy for performance anxiety, I suspect the latter.
Harry finally throws up his hands. "Seven, if you don't get it, I can't explain it to you." (Which means he ain't gettin' it either.)
"Obviously," she says, frustrated, and pushes her way past him and out the door.
What's with the men on board this week? I'm guessing it's Playoff Fever. (Go Jazz!)
Kellin strolls alone through the corridors, checking the data Harry provided her. But her keen former Tracer senses tell her something is amiss. She looks around the hallways, and sees nothing.
But nothing is little comfort for a people that can be invisible at will.
She keeps walking, stopping to peer down this corridor or that, on her way back to her quarters. At the door she makes one last visual confirmation that she's not being followed.
When she enters, she sees a glass on the table. A glass not unlike the one she'd raised in toast to Chakotay not long before. A glass that should be in Chakotay's quarters still.
A glass that will never be drunk from again. It rests in a dozen shattered pieces.
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
Cut to Chakotay's perpetually-darkened quarters. Chakotay stands close to Kellin, clutching each others' arms as they talk. She looks rattled for a security type, but still controlled.
"I should have known," she says. "They must have gotten somebody on board during the battle."
"You're jumping to conclusions," Chakotay says like a typical male weenie-boy.
"No. There's a Tracer; he's come for me. That broken vase was a warning."
"We'll protect you," he says. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
"It's too late," she says. She knows her own colleagues far better than he does.
"No! We can use the same magneton sweep we used to flush out Resket. We'll find this one and send him on his way."
Speak of the devil...a male figure shimmers into visibility. He's holding a crescent-headed device, aimed at Kellin. "I'm afraid I can't let that happen," he says.
Chakotay calls Intruder Alert and reaches for his phaser.
"Curneth, don't," Kellin pleads. She knows what comes next. She knows what the device is, and what it will do. "Please, I beg you, don't do this!"
His look is sympathetic. "You know better than to ask that, Kellin."
He fires. Kellin is bathed in an orange glow. "No!" she screams.
Chakotay threatens Curneth with his phaser, but doesn't fire. "Drop it!" he says twice.
The alien version of the Flashy Thing from Men in Black having done its job, Curneth drops it. "You're too late. She's already beginning to forget everything that's happened here."
Chakotay rushes to Kellin's side, cradles her in his arms as she struggles for breath, in shock as her fond memories of the recent past drain away like sands in an hourglass.
* * *
Kellin's in Sickbay again. Doc has just completed his scans. Chakotay delivers the bad news. "The Doctor says there's nothing he can do. Your recent memories have already begun to fade."
Kellin's voice is plaintive. "Don't let this happen, please. Don't let this happen."
"Do you have any idea how we can reverse the effect?" he asks.
"Promise me...if I forget why I'm here...if I forget you...do what I did...and you tell me all about us...and you'll help me to remember."
Chakotay promises. "But I'm going to try to do more than that."
Chakotay heads for the brig, where Curneth sits patiently, waiting for what he considers the inevitable return of Kellin.
Chakotay speaks to him through the force field. "Can the effects of the neurolytic emitter be reversed?" he asks.
"Reversed? I have no idea. As far as I know, no one's ever tried." He sounds uninterested, but honest.
"Then I'll be the first. Tell me how the emitter works--how it affects the memory centers."
"You sound desperate, Commander. Does Kellin mean that much to you?" His voice is not without compassion.
"What you're doing is wrong! She wants to stay here."
"This is futile. Even if I knew how the emitter works I wouldn't tell you."
Chakotay lowers the force field. He enters the cell, and does the macho thing, grabbing Curneth by the collar. For his part, the Ramuran neither resists nor fights back. He just stares levelly at Chakotay, who finally decides that beating the man up won't accomplish anything. He lets go.
"You have no right to do this!"
"I have every right," Curneth says evenly. "The laws on our world are very specific about that. No one may leave. No one may reveal anything about us to the outside world. Kellin has violated both of those edicts. Returning her will serve as a deterrent to others who might think of leaving."
"Did it ever occur to you that the fact that so many people want to leave might mean there's something wrong with your society?"
"We have a strong and cohesive society because of our efforts to keep it that way. A few runaways among millions hardly indicates a problem."
"If there are so few...Why not let them go?"
"That would suggest that we don't care about them. What a terrible message." His voice, at all times, oozes matter-of-fact sincerity. He's just doing his job--a job he considers important. He sees no reason to question it now. It's a tight-knit society, and nobody ever leaves.
Not exactly Brigadoon, but oh well. As long as Kool-aid isn't involved, who are we to judge?
"You may have wiped her memory, but Kellin's not going back!"
"Maybe we should wait and see if that's what happens."
Chakotay shakes his head. "She made it clear to me that she wants to stay here. So maybe you should start practicing what you're going to tell your superiors."
Chakotay leaves. Curneth watches him go, unperturbed. He's been through this same ritual, no doubt, many times before. If anything, he looks sympathetic to Chakotay.
Kellin sits alone in her quarters, considering the glassy debris on the table, when Chakotay arrives. "Yes?" she asks.
"The doctor told me he'd released you. How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," she says. She notices the way he looks at her. "Do I know you?"
"Yes," he says quickly, then adds, "At least, you did."
Kellin looks embarrassed. "You'll have to forgive me, but I don't remember how I got here or anything else that's happened in at least the past few weeks." He smiles kindly. "I hope I wasn't throwing things in a fit of rage," she says, indicating the broken glass. "I assume a Tracer is here to take me back."
"That's right. But...what I'm going to say will sound strange...but it's what you asked me to do before you lost your memories."
He takes a deep breath. "You came here about a month ago, looking for a runaway. After you left with him, you decided to come back."
"But--if I finished my assignment, why would I come back here?" Kellin asks, confused.
"Because...you'd fallen in love with me." (Oh, smooth....)
"Forgive me," Kellin says, having the grace not to laugh. "You're...certainly attractive. But...what you're telling me seems very unlikely."
"But it's what happened," Chakotay says, his voice soft but earnest. "We started to work together...and I began to realize how unique you are. Before long, I couldn't get you out of my mind."
"Are you saying that you fell in love with me as well?" she asks, incredulous.
"Yes. And then we realized the Tracer was on board. After he used the emitter on you, you made me promise to tell you all of this so you would know what happened between us."
"This is...A little unsettling. What is it you want from me?"
"Kellin...Don't go back with the Tracer. Stay here for a while, at least for a few days. We can get to know each other again."
Kellin is not your average Mary Sue once you wipe her memories. Her powers of resistance to Chakotay's charms are formidable. "I honestly can't imagine what would be served by that. I have to go home."
"If you stayed...you might change your mind." He's pouring nitrous oxide into the ol' Charm Drive. His eyes Lambada. His lips pout. His nostrils flare. Antonio Banderas quails at the competition.
"Then that's all the more reason that I should leave now. I've violated one of our most important edicts...and I wouldn't want to make that mistake again."
Kellin turns to leave her quarters. "I wish...I wish we had met under different circumstances."
A short while later, a Ramuran vessel becomes visible. Inside Voyager, the transporter officer waits along with Kellin and Curneth. Chakotay arrives a moment later with the neurolytic emitter. "Your ship's ready," he says.
"Thank you, Commander," says Curneth. "I've implanted a computer virus to eliminate any reference to our being here. By tomorrow afternoon you'll have forgotten everything. It will be as though we never existed. It's better that way."
"You're such a kind person," Kellin says to Chakotay. "I won't forget that."
Chakotay smiles with effort. "I wish you both the best."
They take the neurolytic emitter and stand on the transporter platform. (How come they can transport now?) Kellin gives a final, almost knowing smile to Chakotay--who, after a moment, finds it within him to return it.
"Energize," he says at last.
First Officer's personal log, Stardate 51813.4. Maybe it would be best as the tracer said, to forget about Kellin and the time she spent here. But I don't want to do that. I want to remember.
Chakotay creates his log the old-fashioned way. Pen to paper in a quiet cafe. He's all alone except for Neelix.
"More coffee, Commander?"
"No, thanks. I'm almost done."
Neelix smiles gently. "Strange to see you using those ancient writing implements."
"It's the only way I could get a permanent record of what's happened in the last few days. I want to get it down before I forget it all." (I wonder how long it will take the first fanfic to incorporate The Log into a J/C story?)
"I'm sorry things didn't work out for you," Neelix says sincerely.
Chakotay sighs. "I've been trying to make sense of it. I fell in love with her twice. I thought she could do the same. We were the same two people on the same ship. Why didn't it happen again? I keep going over and over our last conversation trying to think if there was something I could have said, could have done...But nothing comes to mind."
Chakotay himself hadn't looked all that interested in Kellin until "can I have your pudding?" and a little bit of turbulence.
Neelix has had some experience with this, and he dishes some of it out now. "Commander, I don't think you can analyze love. It's the greatest mystery of all. No one knows why it happens or doesn't. Love is a chance combination of elements. Any one thing might be enough to keep it from igniting--a mood, a glance...A remark."
Neelix smiles sadly, wistfully. "And if we could define love...predict it...it would probably lose its power."
Chakotay is speechless. Lost in thought himself, Neelix nods at the Commander. "I'll let you finish."
"Good night," Chakotay whispers as he leaves. They now have one more thing in common, and it's one that has its time for discussion...and it's time for solitary contemplation.
This week we got a delightfully touching episode filled with angst, humor, uncertainty, love triangles, budding romance, and painfully adorable redheads.
But enough about Deep Space Nine.
This week's Voyager had problems. The title cries out for word play; I imagine everyone with a web page and an opinion will make some sort of pun, depending on whether they liked it or not. "Unforgettable" could be morphed into unbelievable, undefinable, unendurable...you get the idea. If the ep turns out well, it's catchy. If not...it's your own petard.
My first problem with it was my impression that this is the quintessential "Mary Sue" episode. Cute, charming, talented, independent and irresistible woman shows up and dominates the show and the man of her dreams. Hunky male regular can't help but fall for her; resistance is futile. Events transpire that on the original series would occur offscreen, then have Kirk tugging on his boots a discrete moment later. Woman goes away, usually tragically, leaving a heartbroken hunk.
There are few better ways to warn writers of the dramatic pitfalls of this kind of cliched wish-fulfillment story than to actually produce one. Falling in love, etc. in a matter of hours isn't the problem with the story. The real problem is the lack of any compelling plot underneath. Love stuff is mere gravy; the meat and potatoes come from the other plot elements, and in this case the whole is meat-free and spud-heavy.
Now, I love Virginia Madsen. And I'm darned fond of Robert Beltran. But I wasn't even remotely convinced that Kellin and Chakotay had any chemistry together, let alone sexual tension. I know Beltran's capable of it from "Unity" and "Resolutions" and any number of ready room scenes with Janeway, and Madsen's screen sizzle is legendary. That these two could be thrown together to such little effect seems an almost criminal waste of pulse-raising talent.
The story itself was painfully lame and contrived. Built-in reset button that essentially pushes itself without constant monitoring. Relationships are tough enough without having to worry about forgetting each other completely if one or the other is away for any length of time. Chakotay goes away for a couple of days, she has to court him all over again. Kellin leaves for a couple of days, her return sparks another ship-wide Intruder Alert. This is sitcom stuff: "Amnesia Love."
This is known as a "high-maintenance" relationship. And it's way more trouble than it's worth, even if the romance is compelling. Of course, if it's compelling, the parting scene would be bittersweet. In this case, it was simply a relief.
What's missing? Couple of things. From a dramatic standpoint, I was looking for more complexity. She shows up, she spends most of the hour getting Chakotay to fall for her, as soon as she does she gets her memory zapped. The Tracer attacks confirmed they were after her, but the reason was exactly what she said. She didn't get punished for killing at least one fellow Tracer (you'd think if leaving is bad, killing would be really bad), she just gets memory wiped and returns of her own free will. What I would find compelling is "the one that got away"--the exceptional, Kes-like super alien that somehow manages to successfully escape his/her people. What does it take to do that? With a truant officer corps that effective, how would one become free? And, how could Voyager help? If romance got caught up in that sort of story, I might have been interested.
"I'm here, let's get out of here--oh dang" pales in comparison.
For the moment, set aside the romantic element and look at the "Logan's Run" plot. A cop who tracks down runaways becomes a runaway. First--you'd expect Voyager to care about ALL runaways, not just Kellin. The story begins when the runaway is flushed out, at least on TNG (numerous eps), DS9 (Tosc), TOS (several). Why should Kellin matter more, be more worth protecting, than the guy she hunted down?
The idea that Chakotay would help her track down and return a refugee whose only crime is trying to leave home strains credulity. She's a blade runner, a sandman; she's The Man. I can see him and Janeway wanting the stowaway off their ship, or at least visible, but I also suspect that they'd be more inclined to help the guy get away. It offends Chakotay's Maquis sensibilities, and it goes against Federation fairness. Not to mention protocol; when Janeway was asked to grant asylum to that Q in "Death Wish," she said there were very specific things that had to be done. None of that happened here.
Second--you'd expect Kellin to be a lot more paranoid about shipboard intruders, since that's how she tracked down HER runaway. Bumping up the shields and tweaking the sensors is one thing. But she didn't really act like a Tracer who knew she was being Traced. She was too busy being romantic. If she really wanted to stick around for the long haul, she should have spent far more time securing both the interior and exterior of the ship. The "magneton sweep" should have been Job One, and a regular event thereafter.
Third--it's just too straightforward. We knew from the beginning how things would happen, and it happened exactly that way. No unpredictability, no clever twists. Neelix's monologue in the epilogue about the POWER of love can also apply to the power of drama--if you can predict it, it loses its power--is precisely the problem here. Conflict, options, failure, setbacks, increasing stakes--this makes good drama.
There were no options. The obvious option, Janeway, was taken away completely. In love with each other or not, they are close. They're good friends. You would expect Chakotay to talk to Janeway about Kellin on at least a superficially personal level, as well as the professional. Janeway cared only about the professional--and that, not very much. (I suppose that could have been dangerous, though. Janeway might have said, "you and I are never gonna happen, so get it where you can." That, at least, would have made this a memorable episode, if an infuriating one.) The absence of Torres was also keenly felt; I bet she would have had plenty of strong opinions about helping a Tracer, even an escaping one. Her strong sense of moral outrage would have added some shipboard complexity.
I guess that's the crux of my complaint. Everyone just accepts Kellin without complaint. Even Tuvok and Seven roll over with minimal skepticism. Some good old-fashioned opposition could have livened things up.
There were some cute moments and good lines. Chakotay and Tuvok's exchange regarding Neelix was amusing. Kim and Seven debating the utility of courtship and foreplay; I may not have been able to detect any flushing of Kellin or Chakotay's complexions, but I could see Harry's pulse accelerate with one eye closed. Neelix and Chakotay's scenes together. Handwriting the personal log at the end. A few brief shining moments between Chakotay and Kellin, such as her first taste of ice cream.
But apart from these few bright points, and the occasional Kellin close-ups, I was very disappointed.
On a four star enjoy-o-meter scale, I'm giving this one (* 1/2).
Next Week: Janeway goes Psi Corps casual. Seven assimilates herself. Voyager's crew gets down and dangerous with some local planet. I love it already.