Blood FeverBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:32 PM GMT
See Also: 'Blood Fever' Episode Guide
Lieutenant Vorik surprises the hell out of B'Elanna Torres by asking her to marry him; when she refuses, he initiates a mind-meld with her which gives her the symptoms of pon farr, the Vulcan mating drive. Unaware that she's been so afflicted, Torres joins an away mission and becomes trapped in a cave with Paris, becoming increasingly angry and horny.
Meanwhile, the Doc and Tuvok try to solve Vorik's problem, first with meditation, then by offering him a holographic Vulcan woman as a sex partner. When they realize that Torres has been drawn into heat with Vorik, the members of the crew encourage Paris to help her out with her little problem, though Tom is afraid B'Elanna won't respect him or herself in the morning. Fortunately, Tuvok remembers in the nick of time that violent conflict will cure her blood fever, so he permits her and Vorik to engage in martial arts, which enables them to recover from mindless mating lust and return to the ship which Vorik had singlehandedly immobilized in his pursuit of Torres. She tries to pretend that it never happened, just like Tasha Yar in TNG's "Naked Now," but Paris is just biding his time...
Sorry, but that's the closest thing to an objective summary I can write for this episode. After watching the preview, I was positive that the actual show had to be in better taste than it looked. So UPN decided to go for the cheap sex angle; what else is new? We've already had "Kes is in heat!" and Janeway dressed like a hooker in promos, and the episodes bore no resemblance to those lurid suggestions.
Well, surprise! "Bodice-ripping, sweat-dripping" just about covers it. The theme of a hot Klingon nympho who must have sex or die could hardly have been done without making the woman look bad, but the Doc acting as a holo-pimp was even more embarrassing...and poor Tom Paris, whom Tuvok pretty much ordered to give Torres what she wants while he yelped about self-respect. I guess the nicest thing I can say about this episode is that if its goal was to provide mindless sex and violence for an audience of panting young males, it succeeded admirably. I can't believe this got a TV-PG rating.
If the gender roles were reversed--if Tom were female and B'Elanna were male--I don't think even UPN's unenlightened executives would have had trouble noticing how this episode used mind control as a gleeful excuse for sexual harrassment. Tuvok's agreement with Vorik that it would be logical for Torres to marry him once Vorik forced her to meld with him sounded a lot like suggesting that a woman should give in to a rapist, and Tom's tentativeness was just believable enough to make me squeamish. I've never been a fan of violent Vulcan and Klingon mating rituals, but this is a new low.
"Blood Fever" was a big episode for Roxann Dawson, but if they wanted to give her a challenge, they should have kept her in engineering, dealing with her Klingon side on the job like in "Parallax" or "Dreadnought." Now I suspect she will always be a babe first, Tom the Stud's love interest; her newfound obsession with romance novels and incompetence as an engineer in "Distant Origin" would seem to bear that out. I thought Roxann was overacting, and her heavy breathing got on my nerves, but I blame the director who filmed her heaving chest every chance he got.
Janeway and Chakotay had a rotten episode despite being irrelevant to the story. The captain, playing the role of the chaste, serious, maternal female leader in contrast to the unpredictable, fiesty sexual woman, was reduced to humorless incompetence in the face of a crisis, while Chakotay kept looking to Tuvok for salvation on the planet. The episode lacked tension since it was clearly destined to have a "This never happened" ending, and I saw more chemistry between Paris and Neelix than Paris and Torres--I'd expect Tom to put out to save the life of anyone on the ship, because he's basically a good guy and doesn't take sex overly seriously, but the character was so weakly written that it could easily have been Harry or Chakotay in Torres' clutches.
Finally, I was very unhappy with the trashing of Vulcan and Klingon culture and ritual during this episode. I understand that they didn't have time for bells and incense like they did during "Amok Time," and Torres doesn't know the Klingon stuff Worf always recites before having sex, but fifteen seconds of violent combat as a substitute for a life bond was a major copout. Pon farr was interesting on Classic Trek because it wasn't just a mindless mating rut. The whole reason for the bond is that it's mental and spiritual as well as physical. The use of combat to demonstrate that sex and violence serve the same end--relief of tension, as if that's all sex is about--was just plain nasty. This show has given us overtly sexual relationships triggered by alien mind control ("Persistence of Vision") and coercion ("Maneuvers"), yet can't seem to permit two characters to fall in love. It's a remarkably unhealthy attitude about sexuality. I'm surprised the Doc hasn't noticed.
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.