June 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Weekend Trek “Before And After”

Kes starts flashing backwards through her life starting with her own death.

Well, after a fairly mediocre Harry Kim episode, it was nice getting to a genuinely good Kes episode.

Here’s what makes this episode work:  it is based on a really solid sci-fi premise that works best with the character experiencing it.  Kes, as an Ocampa, has a short lifespan to begin with.  She’s also got those psychic powers.  Here, the episode opens with what are probably her final moments and before it’s over, the episode will go back almost to her conception.  And, in a really neat twist, she has no memory of her past life and is essentially remembering things backwards.  So, she knows the future she came from and not the past everyone else experienced.

About the only thing “wrong” with the episode is that it references what Wikipedia tells me is a two-parter in season four, a two-parter that will not feature Kes since she leaves the show not long after season four begins to be replaced by Seven of Nine as the token hot blonde.

But let’s stop to consider how the episode opens, and it’s already disorienting for the audience.  As seen through an elderly Kes’s eyes, there’s the Doctor, going by “Dr. VanGogh” (he’ll be “Dr. Rembrandt”) in another time, and with a full head of hair.  There are two mystery Ocampa on hand, an adult woman and a teenage boy later revealed to be Kes’s daughter Linnis and grandson Andrew.  Andrew’s father isn’t much of a surprise given his appearance, but discovering that Tom is Kes’s husband and Harry their son-in-law does make for an interesting reveal.  The foremost future scenes also take place after the “Year in Hell” where Janeway and Torres were killed, and I see command suits Chakotay well.  Neelix is also now in a Starfleet uniform as a security officer, suggesting Tuvok might actually see something in Neelix at some point.

However, every so often, Kes’s body temperature goes down and she finds herself skipping backwards in her own timeline, taking memories of the future with her but not her past, meaning she actually knows who Andrew is before she learns who Linnis is, that she doesn’t remember either B’Elanna or Janeway at first, but she does eventually take the knowledge of what happened to her to a version of the Doctor who can run some tests and realize that a Krenim torpedo that bathed the entire crew in chronoton particles, though believed to have been removed, are combining with a medical technique the Doctor was using to try to extend Kes’s lifespan has somehow caused hers to kick back in and start sending her back in time.  And because there’s time travel involved, going back to a time before the torpedo hit Voyager does not stop the radiation because the radiation just traveled back with her.

This episode is actually pretty damn smart here as it is quickly pointed out that if Kes isn’t cured, she’ll eventually go back to a time before she existed and then just cease to exist.  There are hints of things to come, and not just the Kremin but also that Tom and B’Elanna might start a relationship, and the episode is smart in realizing that the future back Kes goes, the harder it will be to get help.  In the middle of the “Year of Hell,” the Doctor is off-line and Sickbay out-of-bounds, preventing Kes from getting more of the treatment that the Doctor had used earlier for partial success.  Likewise, flashing back to a moment when she and Neelix first joined the crew is weird because no one really knows her yet.

To her credit, Janeway does stop to listen anyway.

And Kes really won’t be getting help when she gets to her childhood.  Her father just thinks she’s playing a silly game.

Of course, Kes is cured, and at the last possible moment as the episode shows the dividing cells of her embryonic form start to combine before, after what I am guessing may have been a commercial break, the reverse starts to happen, sending Kes back to the present when the Doctor had developed the treatment that eventually saved her life.  There’s enough of an idea that anything Kes says won’t mean much so she can’t spare too much, but she can share what little she knows about the Kremin.  But this was a solid episode, and yeah, it might have worked with a different character, unlike Harry Kim’s adventure with the devious alien sirens, this one did seem to be the sort of episode that works best for Kes.

Too bad she’s leaving the ship soon.