WARNING: This article has spoilers for VOY's "Elogium".
In brief: The word "appalling" scarcely does justice to the episode. Not the worst filmed Trek ever, but definitely the worst to come from "Voyager".
Brief summary: An encounter with space-born lifeforms traps Voyager among them ... and accelerates Kes's reproductive process into the "elogium", where she must reproduce very shortly or lose her chance to have a child forever.
I scarcely know where to begin to talk about "Elogium". It's one of the first episodes since TNG's "Cost of Living" that made me seriously wonder how the episode ever made it to the screen. Aside from one scene and a tiny smattering of lines here and there, this show was well and truly unwatchable.
Given my dislike of Neelix, it may come as something of a surprise to hear that the only scene I more or less liked involved him. Specifically, his conversation with Tuvok had a few bright moments. Both Tuvok's advice and his later comments about how rewarding children can be felt very Tuvok-like, and were worth hearing. (His comments about how he didn't feel emotions, however, felt simply wrong. He's certainly shown enough of them in the past to discount the already-rare "Vulcans don't feel emotions" theory.)
The other positive in the show was the raising of a long-overdue issue, namely that of families on board and their possible creation. [Notice how I avoided using the term "sex", much as the episode itself did at all times. Silly, isn't it?] The issue is a real one; my complaint here is that it should have been raised substantially earlier. The ship's been in the Delta Quadrant for six months or so, for heaven's sake -- no one's thought about the "pairing-off" implications until now? Sheesh, we've even seen the concept mentioned before, _to Chakotay_ -- in "State of Flux", when Seska said it. The issue's definitely late coming up -- but better late than never, I suppose. [On the other hand, the closing scene with the ensign discovering she's pregnant implies that Voyager's only been gone three or four months at the absolute most, which I think is highly unrealistic. This supposes, of course, that she was telling the truth when she implied the kid was her husband's. :-) ]
Now that that's over with, there's the "jeopardy" plot, alias Attack of the Space Spermatozoa given their appearance -- and somewhat apropos given the other half of the plot, I suppose. Without even getting into questions like "how can they accelerate themselves up to high speeds by 'flagellating' from side to side in a *vacuum*?", since experienced rationalizers can say that the gases around them might've allowed it, the plot was silly -- for the plain and simple reason that Voyager's crew acted like idiots almost straight through.
First of all, if you're being pulled in by a very strong force, one of the first things to try, particularly when it's a wake, is to go _sideways_. Forget two-dimensional thinking; this was one-dimensional thinking, and that's silly. Second, B'Elanna's "savagery" was far too overdone and overworked, particularly since her points had a fair amount of validity from the start. Third ... well, the third point isn't one of idiocy, just one of boredom. Nothing about this plot made me particularly wonder *or care* what was going to happen, and that's a cardinal sin for a show that's supposed to be entertainment.
That brings us to the main point of the show, the will-she-or-won't- she-have-a-child plot revolving around Kes. Nothing about this plot came as a particular surprise; unfortunately, virtually nothing about it was pleasant, either.
To start with, the "one child or none" nature of the Ocampa is 100 percent unsound from an evolutionary standpoint. Think about it: if children have a 50/50 shot at being male or female, the female population of the Ocampa gets cut roughly in half every generation. That spells disaster in a comparatively short time. Not a good thing. (That would slow down if children skewed female, but if that happens you run into a shortage of males -- and unless you go 100% female, you can't stop it entirely.)
Then, there's the by-the-numbers execution. Running down a mental list of cliches contained in this plot, I found:
-- the overused "pregnancy cravings" sitcom idea. Granted, this one was "spiced up" by having Kes's cravings be for dirt and adding a "Renfield moment" with the bugs ... but I hardly think that makes it worthwhile.
-- Neelix's "oh, I could do XYZ with a son, but I can't think of anything to do with a daughter" gender stereotyping. Yawn. Done to death, and less enchanting.
-- hmm, Neelix is uncertain about whether he wants a child. Then he decides to. Wow, does that mean Kes is suddenly going to develop second thoughts? Who woulda thunk it? Pfagh.
And then, of course, there's the final cheat. Kes's decision is robbed of any repercussions it might cause by the joyful theory that her elogium was "false". That, in my opinion, renders the episode completely pointless instead of just mostly pointless -- and given how lackluster it was in its execution, that makes it pretty much a total loss. No, thank you.
So, that's it for the main points of the review. I could probably go on for a while, but the point seems clear enough now. So, small points:
-- Boy, that was an awfully big assumption that Kes and Neelix could interbreed. So much for even the tiny lip service paid to genetic engineering in the past to breed humans and Klingons...
-- Jennifer Lien's good at looking disheveled, as was Robert Duncan McNeill when it was his turn last year -- but *why* is it that we have to endure episodes as bad as this and "Ex Post Facto" to see it?
-- The starship turned blue? Funny, I always thought of that as the ultimate cloaking device; paint the model blue and you don't show up against the blue-screen. :-)
-- The pregnant ensign's demeanor at the very end of the show almost suggests that she thought Janeway might order her to abort her fetus. That has some interesting implications ... none of which we'll ever see, of course ...
That's it. If you haven't seen "Elogium" yet, shed no tears -- it's a for-completists-only piece, and it's likely to test even their patience. So, to wrap up:
Writing: Characters acting stupidly, an absurdly implausible plot ... what more could anyone ask for? Directing: Plod. Plod. Plod. This is far below Winrich Kolbe's usual level. Acting: It's tough to tell; I felt so embarrassed for the actors having to go through the motions that I'm not sure how good a job they did. (Beltran seemed good; I liked the grin he had towards the end as Janeway complimented him for his "mating advice".) OVERALL: 1.5. Very, very bad.
NEXT WEEK: Harry on Earth, and Paris before his accident. Hmm...
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.) firstname.lastname@example.org "Watching 'Elogium' was very much like listening to a pair of sweaty munchkins discuss sex while giant spermatozoa pummel you from all sides." -- Thor Iverson Copyright 1995, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask... This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the author*. Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.