Ashes to AshesBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:26 PM GMT
See Also: 'Ashes to Ashes' Episode Guide
When an alien contacts Voyager claiming to be Ensign Lyndsay Ballard - who died three years previously, and whose body was jettisoned into space by the Voyager crew - Janeway is at first both skeptical and angry at the apparent deception. But the Doctor confirms that the woman is indeed Ensign Ballard, although her DNA has been resequenced by the Kobali, a species that reproduces by reanimating the dead of other races. Harry Kim is particularly delighted to have Ballard back, for he's been in love with her since their Academy days. Torres is impressed at the Kobali engineering knowledge the ensign has gained. The Doctor cannot reverse the Kobali DNA resequencing, but he makes her look human again.
Yet although she has spent months trying to escape and track down Voyager, Ballard finds herself slipping back into Kobali language and thought patterns. Human food doesn't taste right to her. When the captain invites her to dinner, Ballard demands to know why Janeway sent her on the away mission which cost her life, considering that Tuvok and Torres both had more expertise. After Janeway asks if the ensign blames her, Ballard recites Kobali teachings about how life comes from death, so in letting her die, Janeway gave her life. Upon hearing her own recitation, Ballard flees in horror. She wakes Kim in his quarters, where he admits that he's always been crazy about her, and kisses her.
Meanwhile, Seven of Nine is having a terrible time trying to control the Borg children, who do naughty things like cheat at games and wander about the ship. "No time fo irrelevant conversation," says Seven when the girl Mezoti talks to Naomi about hairstyles. Orders like "Fun will now commence" only backfire, and ultimately Seven gives in to Chakotay's suggestion that she let them express themselves as individuals. "Resume your disorder," she suggests to Mezoti when the girl makes a sculpture of Seven instead of a geometric shape.
Harry wakes to find Lyndsay out of bed. "They're coming," she warns. Just then Voyager is attacked by Ballard's Kobali father, who asks to speak to his daughter. Though Ballard insists that she belongs on Voyager, the alien says that Lyndsay Ballard is dead, and Ballard admits privately to Kim that she doesn't really remember her human family. Moreover, her physiology is reverting to Kobali; without regular treatments from the Doctor, she will look alien again. If she stops treatment, she says, "I won't be Lyndsay anymore. I feel like a ghost. I'm sorry, Harry, but I can't keep fighting anymore. The girl you were in love with died three years ago."
The Kobali return and fight for Ballard, but she refuses to let Voyager destroy their ships and asks to be returned to them. Accepting that he has already lost her, Kim says farewell in the transporter room, then gives Ballard's hairbrush to Mezoti and invites him to the holodeck to play a mischievous prank on Tuvok that Ballard never got to help him with.
You'd think Harry of all people would know about the complications of dating dead people - he's BEEN one, way back in the first season in "Emanations." Of course, the current Voyager writers have probably never seen that episode, so they couldn't very well have Harry do something useful like sharing his experiences of displacement with Lyndsay. Nor did Neelix volunteer his own experiences from "Waking Moments," when he had a dream-sequence nightmare that looked and sounded just like Lyndsay's. I am dying to know about Kobali technology which enabled her to duplicate the ten light years' progress achieved through transwarp and the couple dozen more from the slipstream in a mere six months, but I guess Janeway didn't bother to talk to the aliens once she let Lyndsay go.
Actually, I was quite surprised Janeway did let Ensign Ballard go so easily, not only because the woman's a great engineer, but because the captain appears to have quite a personal interest in her. Early on, Janeway apologizes for not having noticed Lyndsay when she was on the crew, promising with a conspiratorial grin to remedy the situation. And remedy she does. Harry asks Lyndsay out, but Lyndsay tells him, "I've already got a date!" With the captain! Who can blame the boy for being jealous? Lyndsay overdresses a bit, then arrives to find Janeway in a lovely blue low-cut velour-type outfit that you want to run your hands over to see if it's as soft as it looks. Who cares if the captain can't cook? For that matter, who cares if she left you for dead? She's smiling, she's laughing, she's flirting, she's charming. Nggh! Why why why don't we see this Janeway more often? Ballard's chemistry with Kim seems forced, but she's a natural with Janeway, and vice versa. What a couple these two could have made.
That was the best scene in the episode. The second best scene was Paris' litany to Kim of all the dating mistakes young Harry has made since arriving in the Delta Quadrant...a hologram, a Borg, the wrong Delaney sister, and now the dearly departed. Paris forgot Harry's killer wives from "Favorite Son" - not to mention all those flashbacks of his girlfriend Libby, who apparently never knew Harry already loved Lyndsay. But hey - it's impressive that the current writers remembered any of those past episodes, who cares if they forgot about Libby! I would have cared a lot more about Ensign Ballard had she in fact ever appeared on the series before - they could have used Ensign Caplan who died in "Unity," or Ensign Jetal whose death was shown in "Latent Image" on an away mission with Harry Kim. But that sort of depth is asking way too much from this series.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.