June 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Weekend Trek “Blood Fever”

B'Elanna finds herself experiencing the Vulcan pon farr.

So, I thought the actor who played Ensign Vorik looked familiar:  he’s the same actor who played the Vulcan engineer in the Next Generation episode “Lower Decks,” but he’s not the same character.

I realize the character was probably written and conceived of before the actor was cast, but why not change the guy’s name when they cast a guy who played a young Vulcan engineer before?

Regardless, this is an episode I distinctly remember because the promos the week before promised the Borg would appear in this episode.  They do.  A Borg drone’s corpse is found in the last few seconds of the episode, giving a tip-off that the Borg will be a problem in the future but not so much now.  That…wasn’t right to use that as the “next episode” promo when the episode is really about a very Star Trek specific problem:  what happens when a Vulcan male goes through the pon farr, the somewhat literal boiling of the blood that forces said Vulcan to head home to mate or else.  That’s a bit of a problem when Voyager is at best seventy years’ worth of travel away.

Now, pon farr is something from the original series, and even then, Spock made it clear that pon farr was an immensely private and personal matter not generally shared with outsiders.  Apparently, decades later and that is still the case as the Doctor knows basically that pon farr exists and that’s about it.  That’s not so much of a problem from where I am sitting as Vorik decided that his intended mate would be B’Elanna, and B’Elanna isn’t interested.  He then tries something that looks an awful lot like assault, and I know a Vulcan isn’t necessarily responsible for what he does when the pon farr hits, but man, this is a moment that really hasn’t aged well.

That said, Vorik did lay hands on B’Elanna’s face during this outburst, and as a result of a half-formed mind-meld, B’Elanna is also feeling the pon farr, and she’s not going to want to mate the Vulcan way when she’s half-Klingon.

By the by, smart choice to make B’Elanna the intended recipient and a relatively new character the Vulcan that starts the whole thing.  While Tuvok does play a prominent role in the episode, and the potential issues from his own pon farr being more or less put aside as a problem for another day, seeing him acting too beastly and interested in any of the women would probably be a bit much since, as has been stated more than once, he does have a wife back home.  As for B’Elanna, since the episode’s climax involves a fight between her and Vorik, her (half) Klingon strength makes her a much better match with a physically stronger-than-a-human Vulcan than Janeway and (presumably) Kes would have been.  So, Tuvok isn’t ruined as a character for the audience, and Torres is a much more believable opponent to get into a fistfight with a Vulcan and, if not win, at least hold her own.

So, I must have liked this episode?  Honestly, knowing the Borg weren’t going to appear much at all, it plays much better for me now than it did back then because I have a better idea of what to expect.  There is a set-up for the Borg present in that Chakotay and Tuvok have to deal with some hostile aliens on the planet that survived what is eventually revealed to be an attack by the Borg that no doubt assimilated most of the colony.  Paris has to offer to let B’Elanna mate with him, something he does so very reluctantly because, even as, shall we say, casual as Tom can be with women, he’s not someone who would take advantage of someone when they were revved up by outside forces.  The Doctor’s attempts to treat Vorik with a holodeck version of a Vulcan woman is an interesting idea, but it doesn’t work in the end.  And the situation with B’Elanna is to put her as far away from potential treatment as they can with the help of a little rock climbing.

Tom Paris is apparently good at rock climbing.  Neelix, not so much, but it wasn’t his fault it turns out.

So, all things being equal, it’s not a bad episode at all.  It’s just one that misadvertised as something involving more Borg than there was, and back then, the Borg were still kinda scary before they maybe got overused a bit.