Goodbye Kes

Story: The Gift
Written By: Joe Menosky
Series: Star Trek: Voyager
Year: 1997

So near the end of Season 3, a decision was made to do a bit of cast changes. The idea of bringing in a new character, a Borg severed from the link, was definitely an interesting prospect, especially with the plan to have the ship enter Borg space in the Delta Quadrant. So in order to add a new regular cast member, someone had to be lost (they had to make room in the budget somewhere). So who is to go? Well lets start with who obviously wasn’t going to get the axe. Janeway is the lead, not a chance. Losing Chakotay as the first officer would put a big shakeup in the ranks so scratch that.
The Doctor, beyond being just my favorite character on the show, has several legitimate reasons to stay. He still seems to be (next to Kes) the only medical staff on board, hell judging by how frequently you see the blue uniform on this ship he is the whole SCIENCE DIVISION on the ship. Add onto that he JUST got the mobile emitter so the room for character growth (and the only legitimate way to lose him would be through program deletion) is too high to drop him suddenly now.

Tuvok, despite the fact that Vulcans had already been completely explored via Spock, has proven time and time again that he can carry an episode, many of the most captivating. So losing him seems like a mistake. In the same way that losing the Captain, first officer, or medical team…losing the chief engineer and pilot would also be a difficult shuffling of the main cast, so Torres and Paris are pretty safe.

That leaves three…now of the three left, two could believably leave the ship without death (Neelix and Kes, being from the Delta Quadrant), and two have long since outlived their usefulness and/or need to be in the show weekly (Neelix and Kim). So when one of these characters is ticking both boxes, who did the producers decide to can? HARRY KIM.

Wait, what!? Initially the plan was to drop Garrett Wang from the payroll, but when he ended up on the bottom of some random magazines sexy people list, the producers decided they better keep him. WAIT…WHAT!? This may be the weirdest casting decision I’ve ever heard. Who did they think the audience of Trek was? Did they think it possible that somebody might stick around for what little screen time Harry Kim has, when they could change over to the WB any night and see ACTUAL PRETTY PEOPLE? I mean this is STAR TREK! A series where people will put up with Worf’s looks.

So you decide to keep Kim on for his natural good looks, so the natural next choice is KES? Seriously? If looks are part of your criteria then why lose the quite attractive Jennifer Lien, especially when you just started using that smokin’ longer hairstyle. So now I can’t figure out why losing Neelix wasn’t considered. He should have left or died in “Fair Trade” but he didn’t. Now with a new character coming on who could EASILY fill the guide role that Neelix had left open, you wonder why his role wasn’t dropped entirely. If looks are a factor, wouldn’t dropping the stupid looking alien be the best choice, so you then have Wang, Lien, and Jeri Ryan IN A CATSUIT? Oh…I guess Neelix fills in the weird looking alien quotient. You know, the original series only had Spock, this show has Tuvok, Torres, and now the part-Borg Seven of Nine coming in: SCREW THE SILLY ALIEN GUY!

But for whatever reason, the producers picked Kes. She gets dropped and we lose a character that had certainly grown well, had interesting story lines, and integrated herself well into the Voyager crew, more so than Neelix ever did (he STILL seems to only IRRITATE PEOPLE…and me). Good decision morons.

So how is the actual episode? It’s pretty decent. It is really more about Seven of Nine being disconnected from the Collective while her human organs begin to regenerate and reject some of the Borg implants. Its a solid A-story, but sadly a story about a likable main character growing too powerful in her telekinetic powers that she can no longer safely stay aboard Voyager is pushed into a much, much smaller B-story. That stinks, because it could’ve been a good A-story, but its given little screen time, despite the major effect it has on not just a major character but the series itself. But I didn’t hate the episode, I just hated the production decision. And Kes sends Voyager 10 years closer to home and out of Borg space.

By the way this episode not only demonstrates the usefulness Kes could continue to have on the show but it also showcases to the audience what pointless characters Kim and Neelix are! Bad call Production Team.

NEXT TIME: Paris and Torres Near Death