'A Candle at the Window'By Cailan Davenport
Posted at February 6, 2001 - 10:27 PM GMT
"My gift to you....."
When Kes left Voyager in "The Gift," it was a touching, moving, even fulfilling departure. Then someone decided that "Fury" would be a good idea, and it turned out to be a travesty; a betrayal of Kesís character. Itís not the messing around with the timeline that irritates me, but the fact that the producers took a good character, who loved the crew of Voyager, and distorted her into a creature to fit their plot device.
"Fury" might have worked if there was a strong motivation for Kesís actions, but her betrayal and anger comes out of nowhere. Supposedly Janeway pushed her too hard, and forced her to evolve before her time. But "The Gift," a genuinely moving story, doesnít lend any credence to this theory at all. Janeway constantly embraced Kes and her evolving abilities, indeed the "The Gift" played like a story about a mother and her two daughters. Why, then, does Kes return in a fury, wanting revenge upon the crew?
This is the problem with "Fury;" the whole basis of the story is flawed. How can we sympathise with Kes when we know that she would never really behave this way? The episode doesnít tell us anything about the years she spent in the wilderness, instead itís filled with explosions, attacks and time travel. The Kes we saw in "Fury" is Kes with her soul wrenched out.
What puzzles me most is why the episode was made at all. If Jennifer Lien had wanted to return, and the producers were interested, couldnít they have written a sympathetic drama about what Kes had become, and perhaps drawn on some of the Ocampan backstory? We know from episodes like "Caretaker" and "Cold Fire" that there is so much more to the Ocampa than what lies on the surface, and yet, this marvellous chance to explore some of the "mythology" was lost in favour of a senseless action episode. Itís so frustrating to have a character you cared about being treated in this way.
I still hold hope that thereís a chance to save something from this mess and restore Kes to her rightful place in the series - a caring person who loved the crew deeply. One possible storyline could involve Kes returning to Ocampa and helping her people through their transition to non-corporeal beings. Perhaps they could even help Voyager get home; perfect symmetry for the crew who gave up the only hope they ever had of getting home to save the Ocampa. Forget about the Borg and the Hirogen, the story of the Ocampa lies right at the heart of the Voyager saga, and should not be forgotten.
Looking back at early stories like "Cold Fire" and "Before and After," itís easy to see what potential Kes had as a character. By the seventh season she would be dying - not because of a plot device, but because of her physiology, and there would be no reset button. Over the years, her telepathic abilities would have advanced, perhaps helping the Voyager crew in ways that she had never dreamed of back on Ocampa. The story of Kes should have been about someone who fulfilled her dreams once freed from the shackles of society, and at least "The Gift" treated the character with integrity and followed her development logically.
As Voyager enters its final phase, it must return to its roots and follow up on some of the seeds sown in the early season. I believe that Voyager can be and is better than just a random series of stories; "Shattered" showed us what Voyager was, is and will be - a story about a group of people trying to get home. A good story doesnít need to affect the fate of the galaxy - but it does need to be about the characters. Thatís what worked in "Caretaker," thatís what worked in "The Cloud," "Eye of the Needle," "Year of Hell," "Night," "Barge of the Dead," and countless others, and itís what worked in "The Gift." To get the most out of an episode, it needs to flow logically and coherently, and "Fury" failed to do that. As Janeway says, Kes lost her way, and I think the writers did too.
Dramatic symmetry has a certain power and effectiveness, and it can make last episodes all the more effective and poignant. So I appeal to the writers to bring Kes and the Ocampa back for one last moving episode, a story that reminds us why Janeway gave it all up to save this race. If not, there is only one way to remember Kes - the image of Tuvok holding a candle at the window.
Cailan Davenport is moderator of the TrekBBS General Sci-Fi forum and is editor of the J-Team newsletter.