The DarklingBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 2:33 PM GMT
See Also: 'Darkling' Episode Guide
The Doctor has been experimenting with expanding his personality subroutine, and has programmed in elements from the personalities of Ghandi, Lord Byron, a Vulcan matriarch, and several other fascinating historical figures. Unfortunately, he has given himself their bad traits along with the good ones...and unbeknownst to him, an evil twin personality is operating within him, taking over his body and causing him to commit atrocities particularly against women.
Meanwhile, Kes is falling in love with a good-looking alien who has been helpful to Voyager and who wants to take her exploring with him. When he is attacked by a mysterious stranger, evidence points to the Doctor, who has already tortured Torres and fled the ship. Cornered, he tries to kill himself and take Kes with him, but the crew is able to rescue them both and purge his program changes.
All the actors on Voyager finally seem to be sinking to the rotten level of the material they're given to work with. We've had Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran having histrionics in "Coda," Roxann Dawson and Robbie McNeill making fools of themselves in "Blood Fever," and here even the usually reliable Robert Picardo demonstrates that he's just as capable as anyone else of giving an over-the-top, not-even-funny performance. I might have liked his glee as a bad guy if this had not been one of the most tasteless scripts ever - I can't say THE most tasteless, not after "Blood Fever"s justifications for date rape, but the scene where the Doc paralyzes and tortures Torres in sickbay certainly came close. This episode should carry warnings for abuse victims.
To be fair, this was a superlative Janeway episode - in fact she was the only character I liked at all. The tenor of her negotiations with the aliens was superb, as we realized she was just humoring the guy who was exaggerating to her, and I enjoyed her informed curiosity about Kes' new boyfriend. The ready room scene with her and Kes was just lovely, as are almost all Janeway-Kes scenes; this one was less mother-daughterish than those in "Elogium" and "Tuvix," and made me really feel for Janeway at the prospect that she might lose one of her very few friends. Janeway is apparently the only person on the ship who doesn't feel so proprietary about Kes that she has to act like a patriarch. Thank god she's in command.
As for the men in this episode, one came off worse than the next. Neelix was absent, which was not his fault since we never got to witness his breakup with Kes - are the producers really so chicken about intimacy that they can't even show it ending? Tuvok was damned offensive lecturing Kes like Daddy Dearest, and the Doc...well, even his good side was only interested in her as someone in need of his guidance and possessiveness. His nasty side was absolutely awful. If I were Torres I wouldn't go to Sickbay again if my life depended on it.
Speaking of Torres, they're doing a fine job turning her from a very strong woman into the kind of woman who'll scream about a Borg and get stuck in the role of potential rape victim. She jerks back and forth between anger and absurd vulnerability, not the real kind of growth I hoped her relationship with Paris would make possible.
Whoops, I forgot. This is Trek. Love is violence, and emotion is darkness. Good thing the Doc's back to Data-standard non-feeling.
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.