March 3, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Faces”

The Vidiians split Torres into a human and a Klingon version of herself.

Voyager was running while I was in college, and I had a buddy back then who once referred to Torres as the “world’s cutest Klingon.”  I can see it.  Roxann Biggs-Dawson seemed to only really wear a prosthetic forehead, yet over on TNG, Worf’s first love K’Ehleyr was also a half-human, half-Klingon, but she looked a lot more Klingon than Torres does.  And considering Worf likewise fell for that Klingon-Romulan woman who looked very Klingon, it suggests that Klingon DNA is usually more dominant and seems hardier.

That’s actually part of the reason this episode happened.

Essentially, the Vidiians captured Paris, Torres, and the balding guy from the previous episode.  The men were initially put to work because the Vidiians are weak and can’t do physical labor…but they can hold prisoners?  I’m not going to question this too much.  I’m also not going to question why Voyager‘s crew didn’t even make an effort to rescue the other prisoners, like that one guy from Neelix’s people.  Regardless, those three went on an away mission underground that ended with the Vidiians’ capturing them, and despite the fact that this more or less matches the exact trap the Vidiians set when they stole Neelix’s lungs, and I’m surprised it took the crew that long to realize it.  Granted, the original script had the Vidiians operating out of a jungle planet, but I would think the crew would recognize a trap from a previous episode.

Now, before I say a bit more about Torres here, I actually want to touch on the Vidiians again.  This is their second appearance, and my general take on them the first time was they were potentially sympathetic villains.  They didn’t do what they did out of maliciousness.  They did what they did to survive.  They had advanced medical technology at their disposal, and most of what they did was work to cure the Phage.  I could somewhat get behind that.  But this episode apparently was done to tell the home audience that the Vidiians are a lot less sympathetic than they might have appeared to be.  In their first appearance, they stole Neelix’s lungs out of desperation.  One of them was dying, and they had to do something.  My biggest objection in that episode was they didn’t try, you know, asking for help.  They just took Neelix’s lungs, and if it were for some smart thinking from the Doctor, Neelix would have died pretty quickly.  The Vidiians even ended up helping Neelix get a lung transplant from Kes.  They weren’t the Kazon or something along those lines.  They were in the wrong, but they weren’t exactly evil or something.

This episode decided to throw any potential sympathy for the Vidiians out the window.  Not only are they taking organs and running experiments on sentient beings, but they have a slave labor force that they occasionally use to do an organ transplant.  That’s actually what happens (predictably) to the balding guy because they weren’t going to kill off Torres or Paris.  Heck, I’ll give the show some points:  the actor playing the third guy is also the Vidiian villain of the episode, so when he swipes the third guy’s face to wear as his own in a half-assed attempt to seduce Klingon Torres, it actually makes some sense, and this episode does a good job of trying to minimize special effects as it is since Biggs-Dawson had an uncredited body double that looks good enough in a lot of shots.  Regardless, if the Vidiians seemed more like sympathetic antagonists before, they sure aren’t this time around.

However, I should probably address the point of the episode:  Torres’s two halves.  I like the way the script makes the pair into a split that shows what the human and the Klingon halves give to Torres.  Klingon Torres is the brave, angry one.  She’s loyal to her friends even if she does spend time berating her human half.  She also still went out to rescue the human Torres rather than just escape.  She’s also more animalistic than anything else, and doesn’t seem to be that smart.  Human Torres, though a bit frightened by a lot of what was happening around her, also has all the engineering smarts, showing less fear when she’s accessing a console in the Vidiian ship.  The idea seems to be Torres needs both halves to escape, and fortunately, Chakotay showed up in a Vidiian disguise to find Paris.

By the by, I was a bit surprised that I didn’t quite recognize Biggs-Dawson as Human Torres right away.  I mean, it makes sense that she had more than just that forehead plastered to her face, but the point stands.  Still, isn’t most of her face visible?  Then again, I didn’t quite recognize her in the Klingon half either, and that was more due to the voice than the face.

What the episode also does well is show Torres’s self-loathing, for lack of a better word, how she flunked out of Starfleet Academy because her Klingon temper wouldn’t let her stay calm when things didn’t work out and, growing up with a Klingon mother on an otherwise human colony after being abandoned by her human father, tried to hide her forehead as often as possible.  It’s a wonder her Klingon half didn’t just kill her when the two were alone.  Instead, the Klingon side died protecting the human half.

The episode actually ends with the Doctor reinserting Klingon DNA into Human Torres because apparently he can.  He says she’s actually dying with half her DNA missing since the Klingon DNA provided much needed amino acids and proteins and the like.  I suppose having a fully human Torres was never in the cards, but then again, the character might be a lot less interesting if that did happen.