FuryBy Edward James Hines
Posted at June 20, 2000 - 7:52 PM GMT
Teleplay by Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor
Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by John Bruno
An aged Kes (Jennifer Lien) appears unexpectedly in an alien ship and, on receiving permission to come aboard Voyager, deliberately crashes into the hull and makes her way to Main Engineering, wreaking havoc along the way. Torres is killed by a beam of energy from the warp core, from which Kes draws power to propel her backward in time to Voyager's first year in the Delta Quadrant. There, she assumes a younger appearance, incapacitates her counterpart and proceeds to conspire with a Vidiian captain (Vaughn Armstrong) to hand over the Voyager crew for organ harvesting. In exchange, Kes wants safe passage for her and her younger counterpart to their home planet Ocampa. When Tuvok begins experiencing hallucinations of future events on Voyager, he collapses, and Kes ensures his continued unconsciousness by inducing synaptic shock with a cortical stimulator. The Vidiians attack, grapple Voyager and begin landing troops when Chakotay discovers Kes's computer tampering in the airponics bay. Janeway confronts her and learns that Kes has come to resent the ideas of exploration and discovery that she learned during her time on Voyager. When she realized that she couldn't control all the things she found out with her advanced abilities, she decided to go backward in time, rescue her younger, innocent self and seek revenge on the Voyager crew for "abandoning" her. When Janeway is unable to reason with Kes, she kills Kes. In the ensuing "new" time line, Janeway and Tuvok work to prevent Kes's future interference by having her younger counterpart record a holographic message to help soothe the angry adult who is to come. When Old Kes finally appears five years later, hellbent on revenge, she hears the message and recalls the friendliness of the people on Voyager. She stands down her attack but decides to return home to Ocampa anyway.
"Fury" stands an excellent chance of being misunderstood because it takes place so far outside the "Kes context." To its detriment, unfortunately, it is not a show that should be seen and judged on its own merits. Ideally, the viewer should have a chance to review the episodes "Cold Fire" and "The Gift" to get a better sense of where Kes may be coming from in "Fury." Let's review:
In season two's (S2's) "Cold Fire," Voyager happened on a group of Ocampa that were relocated from their home world by Suspiria, the female Caretaker, who began teaching them how to use their latent special abilities. Not being Ocampan, however, Suspiria may not have fully understood what she was doing. This, coupled with her leftover anger for her male counterpart, may have resulted in her creating "monsters" out of her young initiates. The xenophobic Tanis (Gary Graham) typified the malicious, relentless efforts of these "advanced" Ocampa to absorb Kes into their midst and also dispatch her inferior friends on Voyager with all due haste.
S4's "The Gift" is actually the culmination of events that were unwittingly initiated by Species 8472 in "Scorpion," when Kes first started having premonitions. It's possible that, in their efforts to speak through Kes, Species 8472 tripped some dormant evolutionary trigger in her head. The fruition of her special abilities in "The Gift" was but a "honeymoon" phase, a time of excitement, a vindication for those few Ocampa who never believed in the inherent docility of their species. The story of what happened to Kes after she left Voyager, however, may have already been told (foretold?) in "Cold Fire."
After "The Gift," Kes set off without her teacher Tuvok or even another Ocampan for guidance in her new evolutionary phase. Lacking proper direction and left with having to make up the rules as she went along, Kes may have unintentionally devolved into someone as haughty and angry as Suspiria and her Ocampan initiates were. In "Fury," Kes tells of having been confused after leaving Voyager because she couldn't control what she found with her new abilities. Basically, Kes wasn't ready to grow up as fast as she did. The burden of adult responsibility was thrust on her too quickly. She thought she could go it alone like some cocky runaway, but she was wrong. And what do adolescents and young adults do when confronted by the reality of adult responsibility? They often blame their parents and other authority figures for not having adequately prepared them for the "real world." They forget the helpfulness and kindness of their mentors. It's natural. It happens. This is the story that "Fury" tries to tell, but being so long after the fact, it's difficult to recall the significant events that happened along the way.
When you're as powerful and bewildered as Kes, however, and you decide to go burn some bridges, there isn't much that can stand in your way including the integrity of the time line. This is perhaps the most disturbing and frustrating part about "Fury." The writers either give little regard to or are completely oblivious of having created an entirely new time line that masquerades as the old one but, in fact, should not be depicted so identically.
Obviously, killing Torres in the "old" time line doesn't necessarily demand the creation of a "new" time line in which she's still alive. After all, how many times in Star Trek have characters died only to be revived against all possible hope? The writers, however, apparently decided that Torres was irretrievably dead in the old time line and, therefore, took Kes backward in time to Voyager's 56th day in the Delta Quadrant, or just prior to "Elogium." The precise timing centers on Ensign Samantha Wildman's (Nancy Hower) announcement that she's pregnant, which originally didn't happen until the end of "Elogium." In the new "Fury" time line, however, Janeway is clued in earlier thanks to one of Tuvok's hallucinations, in which Naomi Wildman (Scarlett Pomers) briefly appears. The Doctor later confirms that he and Samantha have known about the pregnancy for six weeks.
Granted, in this new scheme of things, it's a relatively minor inconsistency. Janeway can still play dumb when Samantha eventually tells her at the end of the new time line's "Elogium" (assuming that this episode still happens, and given the producers' apparent thinking, there's no reason to believe it won't). The point, however, is the existence of foreknowledge where there was none before. This time around, Janeway, Tuvok and Young Kes will end their second month in the Delta Quadrant knowing that three years later, an older Kes will leave Voyager and return three years hence to seek vengeance. Armed with this information, the new Voyager time line should evolve significantly differently.
Think about it. If you're Janeway, wouldn't you regard Kes a little more warily from now on? Might you even consider putting her off the ship at the first sign of trouble (maybe even after "Elogium")? If you're Tuvok, wouldn't you be likely to consider Kes a possible security risk? Wouldn't you be tempted to restrict her movements or at least have her monitored? How might Kes-centered episodes like "Elogium," "Cold Fire," "Warlord" and "Before and After" have evolved differently? The big question, of course, has to do with her telepathic and telekinetic abilities. If you're Tuvok instructing Kes, wouldn't such unknown quantities make you want to curtail their development as much as possible?
How about Young Kes herself? Surely there's more to her story than simply recording that holomessage. Isn't it possible that she would begin to regard her budding abilities as dangerous, both to herself and her friends on Voyager? Would she agree to curtailing their development? Would she have pursued their development at all? If yes, then might she have elected to stay with Tanis and the other advanced Ocampa? If no, then would Species 8472 have succeeded in destroying Voyager in the "Scorpion" two-part episode? Barring that catastrophe, wouldn't Seven of Nine have died in "The Gift" for lack of Kes's advanced ability to "see" into her head and "dissolve" an offending bioimplant?
As you can see, the new "Fury" time line erroneously does not account for the possibilities and character reactions that come from the presence of foreknowledge. Young Kes simply records the holomessage and then she, Janeway and Tuvok conveniently "forget" the matter (as is so common in VGR), the new time line "resets" itself as the old one and events proceed as they did until Old Kes's malevolent appearance.
The "memory problem" device is becoming a handy, familiar crutch for VGR's producers, but it is as ineffectual in "Fury" as it was, for instance, in "Ashes to Ashes." Kes's overwhelming powers and experiences have led her to the obvious misperception that the Voyager crew once "abandoned" her. Episodes like "Cold Fire" and "The Gift," however, clearly depicted Kes choosing to pursue the development of her special abilities. In the latter, Kes also said it was her decision to leave Voyager. When false memories are so transparent, therefore, as they are in "Fury," then there isn't much of a mystery left to ponder, and so the wonder of Lien's guest appearance loses its luster. A more interesting scenario for Kes's return might have involved her fear that the Kazon-Ogla were finally in a position to overwhelm her planet, since the Caretaker's five-year protective energy source was coming to an end. Kes's anger toward the Voyager crew would have been more justified, therefore, since the special abilities she cultivated with their encouragement have made her an alien in the eyes of her own people, just when they need her the most.
The memory crutch also backfires in the denouement when Old Kes conveniently forgets that Janeway and Tuvok are ready for her this time. Her memory with little prodding abruptly kicks back in, however, when she remembers making the holomessage as well as the reason why she had to. It's a cheap resolution, to be sure, but you have to wonder: Since the memory problem appears to be selectively intermittent, isn't it possible that Old Kes would often forget why she was angry and intent on revenge? Therein lies the problem with the crutch. It fluctuates solely according to the needs of the story and is not as random as reality might demand.
Since Kes's displeasure is the only constant, it's interesting to watch her seething as she encounters various Voyager crewmembers. She glares at Seven, the character who replaced her, before pushing past her in Main Engineering. She purposefully flares her eyes at Janeway prior to spilling coffee on the desk. She barely tolerates the Doctor's self-important prattle about choosing a name and even skips out on him when he's not looking. She practically bites her lip when forced to endure Neelix and his sickly sweet sentiments, especially when she drones, "I'll be fine." Neelix's self-derisive quip about his cooking catches Kes off-guard, however, and she begins to smile, possibly remembering that one of his last jokes in "The Gift" was about how she must have always hated his cooking. "Fury" nicely rectifies the oversight in "The Gift" by giving Neelix the chance to say goodbye to Kes, but her response is as wooden and flat as their chemistry always was.
It's hard to say whether Kes's enraged return will have any retroactively damaging effects on her legacy as a one-time VGR regular. At the very least, it will be difficult to look back on the first three seasons and not feel sad for Kes, knowing that her levelheaded, peaceful, inquisitive demeanor is only setting itself up for a terrible shock down the line. Kes is not a happy camper at the end of "Fury." She is at peace with what ailed her, but her biggest challenge awaits: Will the Ocampa accept her, despite all the changes? Will they let her help them, now that they are certainly powerless before the Kazon?
Kes isn't the only one who has changed. Lien's face is a little fuller and her body isn't as slender and childlike as it once was. Were it not for her need to appear in two of Kes's old-style elfin outfits, however, we may never have known the difference. In her old-age makeup and long, flowing cloak, Lien looks positively gaunt. Kes is about seven years old at this point, but despite her great powers and the ability to change her appearance at will, she apparently has been unable to effect any alteration on the normal Ocampan life span of about nine years. In "Cold Fire," Tanis was over 14 but still retained the appearance of a middle-aged Ocampan. Of course, one could make the argument that this was but another deception on his part.
One of deceptions in "Fury" is at least amusing, when in the teaser Janeway purports to have caught Tuvok in a coverup, but really she had only discovered that it was his birthday. This is a carryover from the "Alice" teaser in which Paris and Kim were trying to guess how old Tuvok was. Why his date of birth should be such a secret and not even available in his personnel file is a mystery; perhaps Vulcans have some sort of "diplomatic immunity" in this area, but it's unclear why.
It's also unclear why the producers didn't do a better job with the mathematics involved in determining Tuvok's age. If he's closing in on 100, then that means he was born around 2277, which would only have made him about 16 when he was a freshly minted ensign aboard the Excelsior in 2293 (S3's "Flashback"). We are led to believe, therefore, that Vulcan children mature much faster than humans and can retain their youthful adult appearance for much longer, since Tuvok has hardly changed in the 85 years between "Flashback" and "Fury." This is not so far-fetched a concept for science fiction, but it seems that another of Star Trek's handy crutches is the excuse that most alien offspring mature faster than human children do. This indirectly explained Alexander Rozhenko's rapid growth in TNG and DS9. Regarding Naomi Wildman's accelerated gestation, "Fury" at least provides the courtesy of a definitive explanation from the Doctor (finally).
Anyway, the point of the "Fury" teaser is undoubtedly to serve as a reminder that Janeway and Tuvok are longtime friends and confidantes in any time line, in preparation for their decision to mutually conceal the inevitability of Kes's return as well as the steps they took to make ready. It's interesting to note that this is the second time these two have kept Chakotay out of the loop of a major undertaking. The first was in S2's "Investigations," when Janeway and Tuvok revealed that they had secretly employed Paris to subvert Chakotay's authority in a convoluted effort to flesh out Michael Jonas, the traitor Maquis. In "Fury," the decision to keep Chakotay uninvolved in Kes's terror trip back through time was made only two months into Voyager's return trip, which is at least understandable and, moreover, consistent with Janeway and Tuvok's thinking at that time. Chakotay was never subsequently let in on the secret because, of course, "Fury" asserts that Janeway and Tuvok "forgot" the whole matter.
Chakotay's personal interest in anthropology is used again, this time with regard to the Vidiians. The brief information he recalls about their culture was originally mentioned in S1's "Phage," but given his conviction that they are not merely "monsters," it seems likely that Voyager has had other off-screen encounters with the Vidiians and probably even gained access to some of their cultural databases. Left in command to disengage the Vidiians' grapple on Voyager's hull, Chakotay orders, "Then tear it apart!" a line that mirrors Captain Sulu's command in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country to "Fly her apart, then!" In the ensuing hull breach, the detailed visual effects render several reddish blobs resembling unfortunate crewmembers being blown into space.
Unfortunately, not all of the visual effects in "Fury" are as well depicted. When Kes is marching through Deck 11, radiating neurogenic energy, the visual effects of the bulkhead ruptures behind her are unconvincing. What's interesting, however, is that Kes had this same destructive effect on Voyager's inner hull during her final moments aboard ship in "The Gift."
Kes's first moments aboard Voyager in "Fury" are somewhat confusing with regard to her exact location. She crashes her ship into Deck 9, but then the action abruptly jumps to Deck 11 with all the bulkhead ruptures, as if the producers forgot where they had initially deposited Kes. Perhaps she transported herself out of the Deck 9 wreckage and onto Deck 11, but this is never made clear.
This entire ramming incident, of course, begs the question of why Janeway did nothing to protect the ship from being hit (in the old time line). No shields were raised, no weapons fired, and efforts to evade Kes's beeline came too late. Basically, Voyager just "sat there and took it," as if Janeway never believed that Kes would intentionally hit the starship. Such a course of action, while it did not fatally damage Voyager, is nevertheless the same plot-advancing nonsense for which executive producer Brannon Braga and his team are notorious. This is also a disservice to Janeway, whose Delta Quadrant instinct should be sharp enough by now to act first and ask questions later regardless of who is doing the attacking.
The same goes for the Vidiian ship's assault: It fires repeatedly and swoops in for the grapple (similar to S2's "Deadlock") while Voyager retreats without responding in kind. Both of these grievous "incidents of inaction" recall the time when the Kazon-Nistrim's shuttle effortlessly rammed Voyager in S2's "Maneuvers," which is still painful to watch. Specially concocted scenarios like these are unnecessarily belittling to the characters as well as the integrity of the show.
In the new time line, when Janeway is "more prepared" for Kes's attack, she raises the shields. Despite this precaution, as you might predict, Kes is able to transport through to Deck 11 anyway. Again, no explanation is given, but it's probable that Kes was able to match her shield frequencies to those of Voyager and beam right through despite the extremely short time frame.
Realistically, however, it's way past time to acknowledge that the "rule" prohibiting transport through shields is not and never has been such. It has devolved into a "handy hindrance" to use whenever the plot must preclude the two most conventional workarounds, i.e., matching shield frequencies or transporting through the convenient "cycling window" that Chief O'Brien identified in TNG's "The Wounded." Even as far back as TOS's "The Enterprise Incident," Kirk was able to transport onto and back from the Romulan flagship without a problem the logical tactical assumption being that both ships had their shields up.
Kes appears to have learned well from Paris' piloting tutorials, which in the old time line began in S2's "Parturition." In the new "Fury" time line, Kes first expresses an interest in learning how to fly (and parked in Voyager's shuttlebay are two Type-9 shuttlecraft, which in the old time line weren't introduced until S2's "Threshold"). Paris, in promising to start her off in an old Class-1 shuttlecraft just like his father did, seems to contradict what he said in "Alice," which is that his first flight was in a Class-S. The difference as subtle as it is could be that Paris began practicing in a Class-1 but actually first took the controls by himself in a Class-S. By way of comparison, Kirk's starbase shuttlecraft in TOS's "The Menagerie, Part I" was Class-F.
In the new time line, Paris' chumminess in suggesting catchy names for Neelix's "hamburger special" is inconsistent with the actual wariness that existed between the two characters during the earlier months of Voyager's return trip. The flashback events in "Fury" take place prior to "Parturition," when Neelix's jealousy over Paris and Kes's innocent flirtation reached a head. Before then, Paris' womanizing reputation frequently seemed to set Neelix on edge whenever Kes was around Paris.
Also, Paris' quoted rule about "faster than light, no left or right" the risk being a fractured hull seems to contradict all the previous times in Star Trek that starships have "maneuvered at warp power." TOS's "Elaan of Troyius" comes to mind. Perhaps as the warp-speed scale was ramped up in the years between TOS and TNG, this "rule" was instituted. Otherwise, it just seems like a cutesy excuse for a rhyme.
Janeway's assertion that the bio-neural gelpacks can navigate Voyager through the subspace vacuoles with greater responsiveness than Paris hearkens back to the last time a deft bit of navigation was necessary in contemporary Star Trek TNG's "Booby Trap." One wonders if the idea for bio-neural circuitry didn't at least partially come from the Enterprise-D's experiences.
One other technical crossover between the two series involves the Voyager computer's continuous proximity scan of Tuvok. In TNG's "Remember Me," the Enterprise-D computer kept a similar (although brief) record of Picard.
In a small bit of trivia, "Fury" is the second episode in a row in which Tuvok requests that Chakotay relieve him of bridge duty. In a larger (and expected) bit of trivia, Tuvok's rank pips are wrong in the past. Although he is correctly referred to as "lieutenant," his uniform shows him to be a "lieutenant commander." While it's true that Tuvok wore the wrong rank for much of VGR's first season, the problem was corrected in "Cathexis," which was significantly earlier than "Elogium."
Also inconsistent in "Fury" is that the Doctor is still considering the name "Schweitzer" for his own. In the old time line, he used this name in S1's "Heroes and Demons" (also earlier than "Elogium") but rejected it at the end because of the sad memories associated with it. Additionally, left over from "Fury" is the Doctor's apparent failure to discover that Kes tampered with a cortical stimulator, sending Tuvok into synaptic shock.
Along the medical front, and despite Kes's sabotage of Voyager's environmental distribution system, it seems clear that Ensign Wildman's neural agent intended to inhibit the Vidiians' motor functions and incapacitate their boarding parties should not work, particularly because it was not used subsequently in any Vidiian attack (e.g., "Deadlock"). However, the implication seems to be that it does work at least, it did the first time it was used. Regardless of Kes's temporal interference, Wildman had been working on the neural agent. In the old time line, during this particular Vidiian attack, it was apparently successful the proof being that in Old Kes's first communication to the Vidiians, she promises that their attack will fail. She knows this (thanks to another selective remission of her memory problem) because she was aboard Voyager and much younger during the original attack. In the new time line, however, Old Kes's interference precludes the neural agent's deployment. To reconcile its absence in "Deadlock," we must assume that subsequent research determined that the neural agent was, in fact, deadly to the Vidiians, not simply sedative.
Kes's systems interference from the airponics bay is another example of a selectively sloppy job necessitated by the patchwork plot. While she successfully locks out the environmental controls so that the neural agent cannot be distributed, Kes fails to isolate her console and, thus, block Janeway's ability to simply lock out all control functions to the airponics bay.
When Chakotay picks up on the systems interference, no one suspects that it might be Seska (Martha Hackett) because, by this time, she had already defected to the Kazon-Nistrim. If there had been time, however, it might have been interesting for somebody to suggest that another Voyager saboteur was working with the Vidiians just as Seska worked for the Nistrim.
Also catering to the shaky plot was Old Kes's sudden, flashy appearance from the future as she materializes in front of the warp core. Oddly yet conveniently enough, for such a large and well-staffed room, nobody notices and no alarms are triggered.
When Old Kes boards Voyager in the denouement, awaited by Janeway and Tuvok in Main Engineering, the captain utters the confusing line, "Three years ago, you traveled back in time." This is incorrect. By Janeway's reckoning, it was about three years ago that Kes left the ship. A clearer line would have been, "Kes, you're trying to travel backward to a time soon after Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant."
The various attempts to subdue the powerful Old Kes are interesting to compare. Security officer Ayala (Tarik Ergin) fires two compression-phaser pulses at her, which she effortlessly absorbs. Later, however, Janeway kills Kes with only two shots from a pistol phaser ostensibly an easier effort because, at the time, Kes was weakened after having directed three energy blasts at Janeway while also trying to maintain her youthful appearance. Considering how badly those three blasts thrashed Janeway, however, the captain should realistically have preceded Kes in death (or, at the very least, unconsciousness).
One final production gaffe happens in Janeway's ready room in both time lines. When she turns her back to Tuvok and faces the replicator, you can hear the sound of buttons being pushed even though Janeway's arms and hands never move. And what is with those metal cakes anyway? You can even hear the metallic ping when Janeway jostles it slightly.
The interior of Kes's alien ship is a slight redress of Captain Braxton's timeship Aeon from S3's "Future's End."
Jennifer Lien retains her "also starring" billing from "Scorpion, Part II" and "The Gift." Vaughn Armstrong reaches a milestone in "Fury," becoming the second actor after Marc Alaimo to have played six different guest characters in Star Trek. Nancy Hower makes another of her far-too-infrequent appearances, having last been seen in S5's "Once Upon a Time." Josh Clark is wasted in a two-line cargo-bay cameo as "Lieutenant Joe Carey," having last reprised his role in S5's "Relativity." Tarik Ergin's last speaking role as "Ayala" probably goes as far back as the season three opener "Basics, Part II." Finally, Torres at one point offhandedly mentions an "Ensign Mulchaey," who appeared in S5's "Drone" and was played by Todd Babcock.
Copyright Edward James Hines
19 June 2000
Edward James Hines writes weekly reviews of Voyager episodes.