Overall Rating: 5.0
I may be being a tad generous here. This one is really irritating on the personal front and really inane on the plot front.
The details may be found here, but I warn you...you're not going to understand them any more in print than you will watching the episode.
Hey...you know what doesn't particularly interest science fiction fans? Taking your supposedly lovable underdog character and making him act like a six year old for about 1/3 of the screen time nurturing an insane jealousy against a character who we know is a playboy and who acts like a horny asshole just to make it worse. If you want us to LIKE your underdog...you have to give us a reason...it seems like you want the opposite though, as you desperately scramble to top yourselves in making Neelix act dumber and dumber with each passing week. And here's the kicker to this commentary. I LIKE NEELIX!! I'm not like SFDebris - a man I respect, but who I believe nurtures grudges against characters that just aren't the types he prefers and is unfair to them. I happen to like underdogs, and there are times when Neelix provides a much needed outsider's perspective that can be refreshing. Or...a bit of the funny. Which is also cool. But spending your episode with this irksome and immature jealousy plot just drives me bananas. It doesn't add anything to the story and it doesn't make me like any of the three involved characters any better.
Meanwhile, we have this...plot (and I use the term loosely, since, apparently, so do the writers). I love it when they get ridiculously basic science wrong, as you know, because it's comedy gold for this blog, but I can't be the only one to notice that the space bugs in this episode swim through a vacuum. Hey...you know what doesn't work in a vacuum? MECHANICAL PROPULSION! There's nothing to exert an equal and opposite force against the work you do to move yourself and thus...no motion occurs. It's called physics. Look it up. You know what also doesn't happen with flagellation? Rocket speed. You know why? BECAUSE YOU ONLY MOVE AS FAST AS THE FORCE YOU CAN CREATE WITH YOUR OWN MOVEMENTS! Physics...it's what's for dinner. Or was that huge beetles? Let's ask Kes. Or...let's just do what I did and say "EW!!"
And ah yes...there's the whole pregnancy thing. You know what doesn't work? Setting Neelix up to entertain the serious questions of fatherhood and life-long mating with a prepubescent partner by...having him act like a child himself in the first half of the episode. They gave it the ole' college try with Neelix and Tuvok discussing the pros and cons of fatherhood...but I just can't say I found that scene all that penetrating. Neelix went from being 90% sure he wanted to avoid fatherhood to being 100% sure he wanted a kid, to being maybe 60% sure...to being 100% sure again in the space of three minutes...nothing was said in that time that should have been news to a fully-grown world-weary survivalist like Neelix. I know this was happening very fast, but c'mon now. If you were going to do this plot, couldn't we have spent more time with it? BTW, can someone explain to me how rubbing someone's feet can cause their tongue to swell, let alone how either of those things can be related to readiness to conceive a child? I'll wait. (silence ensues) You suck, Voyager writers. Oh...and while I'm in a nitpicky mood...can someone explain to me how Voyager doesn't have enough power for standard evasive maneuvers, is driving on maneuvering thrusters only...and yet is somehow capable of a barrel roll? And the venting of drive plasma? Still waiting. (*crickets*) You really suck, guys. Seriously.
Anyway...the plot is just so stupid and extraneous that I cannot get into any of the supposedly deeper meanings of it - and the shame of it is...they were REALLY trying to be sincere and sweet and set a positive tone. They were EVEN trying to seriously entertain the kinds of bigger questions the show should be focused on...like, for example, Voyager becoming a generational ship and the possible need for rules regarding fraternization. They just didn't do any of those questions any serious justice. We could have been worrying about that rather than the details of this swarm of space bugs. There had to be another way we could give Kes the premature mating change that didn't force us to wast 20 minutes of air time on crap no one cares about. There just had to be...so...
Let's Go With It:
I know that the writers feel obligated to make every episode feature some ship-threatening action plot - a spatial anomaly, a bad guy, a fight among crew members, a desperate scramble for resources...but my advice to them would be that Voyager does not always have to be under attack for the issues that surround a ship lost a lifetime away from home to come to the surface. I would have STARTED this episode with Ensign Wildman's announcement of a pregnancy...and then I'd have found some way to give Kes her false Elogium, and I'd have spent precisely ZERO minutes and ZERO seconds worrying about external shipboard threats, jealous rage, or anything else that would be secondary to getting to know Wildman, spending some time with Neelix and Kes as they decide what to do about the Elogium, hearing the thoughts of the crew on the prospect of living their lives on this tin can in space and raising children here, and even watching as Chakotay and Janeway make decisions about how to prepare the ship for children. This one should have been written by Renee Echevarria, if only he were retained by the Voyager staff as well as the DS9 staff. Sadly, we'll have to settle for Kenneth Biller and Jeri Taylor (uuuugh). Your central idea was a personal one...there was no need to bog us down with technicalities that didn't make sense. Stick with what works - make us like the characters and care about the choices they are about to make.
Otherwise, it comes out like this episode...bland and confusing.
Kenneth Biller is a TERRIBLE writer. An utter hack who never researches anything before he writes. This is science fiction...make love to wikipedia, guys. Lots of physics articles in there. Or better yet...if you don't know about science...don't write about science (or write as little as possible) - write about people. Unless you don't know about those either. Then get a different line of work.
Jennifer Lien REALLY dined hearty in this episode...and I don't mean on bugs. I mean on scenery. Her acting was just OUTLANDISHLY over the top while she was entering the Elogium. It's not like her, really. Ethan Phillips actually did pretty well with what he was given - it's not his fault the script ordered him to act like a douche-filled pie for 20 minutes before the real work began. The rest of the cast was there, I think. Can't remember...and couldn't really see their faces since the ship went dark around minute 12 and never got lit up again (why do they do that crap?).
I am going to give them some props here for trying to take child-rearing seriously and for actually entertaining the possibility that Voyager crew members might need replacing in 40 years, let alone that they might like to have lives. They tried so hard to be sincere and likable this week...Biller just doesn't know how to write.