Y’all ready for this?
You know it’s gonna be good when the episode’s cold open features a woman chained up by the wrists. A background voice babbles on about regeneration and reanimation and then tells us that the unfortunate woman in question is…our own dear B’Elanna:
Are you on the edge of your seat yet? Good, because the next thing we learn is that Neelix made some soup for Tuvok. Whatever goodwill this gesture might have earned him is quickly squandered when Neelix hovers over him while he eats it, waiting for compliments. This is fucking riveting television.
An away team comprised of Paris, B’Elanna, and some guy named Pete are due back on the ship after exploring some “magnocyte formations,” but they stand Janeway up and the ship can’t find their comm signals. Tuvok theorizes that the aforementioned formation are blocking the ship’s sensors (which he pronounces “sen-SORS.” In my head this is an affectation that drives everyone else on Voyager up the wall. It annoyed me to hear it once, so 75 years wandering in space alongside that would probably lead me to murder). Harry’s scans reveal that the planet’s geological caves have shifted even though there’s been no tectonic activity to explain it. Chakotay volunteers to lead another away team to investigate. Janeway lets him, but tells him, “I want a transporter lock on you at all times.”
We finally cut back to B’Elanna in the chamber of horrors, where it’s revealed that she’s been kidnapped by OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL IS THAT
He says he’s the chief surgeon of the Vidiians. Does that name ring a bell? No? How about “those dudes who stole Neelix’s lungs that one time”? Yeah, those guys. This one’s been up to some wacky Dr. Frankenstein stuff, because B’Elanna looks a lot more Kling-y than she usually does. He tells her he’s altered her genome (which he pronounces “JEN-ome.” Why all this affected pronunciation? Did someone decide that would make the show more sophisticated?) Long story short, he did it ’cause he thinks Klingon genes hold the cure for whatever’s making him and the rest of the Vidiians look like what’s left after a dumpster fire. He’s also infected B’Elanna with that, by the way.
Meanwhile, Paris and Pete — who’s not very hot, and I don’t remember seeing him before so I bet he’ll die by the end of the episode — are basically in a Vidiian prison camp. They immediately start planning their escape and are interrupted by a guy in an upper bunk who seems to be Neelix’s cousin. With a weird laugh and bad puns, he tells them no one ever escapes from Dumpster Fire Prison.
In the caves, Tuvok finds traces of five humanoid life forms. Harry says, “Five? Only three in the away team,” with a pride that’s waaaaay out of proportion for his achievement here.
Dr. Dumpster Fire inquires gleefully about the pain B’Elanna’s in (this really is sort of S&M, huh) from the disease, but B’Elanna’s Klingon genes are working overtime to fight it off. He tells her she’ll be a hero among his people. She’s not real happy about any of this. Understandably.
Now shit gets a little weird, because Paris wakes up to find…B’Elanna. But it’s an entirely human B’Elanna. Kling Off. She’s totally freaked out by this, because she’s always had mixed feelings about her forehead. Paris tells her he understands her feelings because when he was a kid he used to hide the bad haircuts his dad gave him under a baseball cap. Then B’Elanna literally tells him that her dad left her when she was a little girl because she looked like a Klingon. Swing and a miss there, Paris.
Tuvok figures out that the cave walls are actually a force field concealing something, and that the signature of it matches the guys who stole Neelix’s lungs that one time. Janeway perks up and wants to know what the lung stealers are up to; but when some Vidiians turn up she beams the team out rather than risk her sugar muffin losing any parts.
Meanwhile, it’s becoming creepily apparent that Dr. Dumpster Fire is, ah, into Kling On B, and she decides to play that up, asking him if he knows that Klingon women are known for their “voracious sexual appetites.” Uh…well, any port in a storm, I guess.
But he reprimands her for playing with his feelings (uh, dude, what about you playing with her genome?) Then he basically says that it’s ok and promises that when her genes cure him, he’ll be totally hot.
Back in prison, some Vidiians show up to take Ensign Pete (called that one a mile away) and Tom tries to prevent it, to no avail.
Then Dr. DF tells B’Elanna, “I have something I want to show you.” The “something” is…OH GOD OH GOD IT’S ENSIGN PETE’S FACE
This pisses B’Elanna off so much she breaks out of her bonds and chokes Dumpster Fire Pete-Face, MD (he went to med school on Granada, okay? It’s totally legitimate).
On Voyager, everyone’s trying to solve the problem of getting through the force-field. Technobabble et al. They figure out a way to get someone through it, but they’ll have no way to communicate with said someone once he’s in. What’s to prevent him from just being captured by the Vidiians, too? Chakotay says he has an idea.
Paris and Kling Off are stuck hauling rocks in prison camp, and turns out the human version of B’Elanna is super scared and weak. Kinda like…the opposite of the purely Klingon B’Elanna. This episode is getting really deep, guys. Tom gives her a lecture about courage and bravery and how he’s not a doctor but *probably* fucking around with her genome may have, you know, done something to cause this. Then Tom gets hauled off by the guards, presumably because Dr. Dumpster-Fire realized his mistake.
The nightmare version of Chakotay beams down to the planet. Kling On B’Elanna threaten’s Neelix’s college roommate to find the whereabouts of Paris. He tells her Paris is with “a human female.” Rather predictably, in a scrap with some Vidiian guards, the two B’Elannas meet.
The heart of the episode is supposed to be the scene that follows, when B’Elanna’s two warring inner selves have a dialogue about the challenges of Being B’Elanna. But it’s not terribly subtle, with lines like, “Do you realize that each of us is arguing with herself?”
Anyway, smart but weak B’Elanna and strong but impulsive B’Elanna team up and work together to defeat the Vidiians, along with a little help from Paris and post-Hindenberg Chakotay. Kling On dies heroically, taking a phaser tase for Kling Off. The Doctor can fix Kling Off’s DNA so she goes back to normal, and she says she’s “more at peace than I’ve ever been before.” The End.
My favorite part of this episode is that when Chakotay shows up to rescue Tom from prison, the two of them just abandon the guy Neelix sat next to in third grade, who tells us near the beginning of the episode that he’s been stuck there for years watching all of his crewmates get murdered for their organs. They literally walk off without a backward glance.
So far as I can tell, that little vignette with the soup at the beginning serves no purpose but to remind us that Neelix is really, really annoying and everybody hates him. Then the guy who is clearly from Neelix’s planet – and who even sort of helps our heroes — gets left by the Voyager team in Dumpster Fire Prison to have his organs harvested.
I find this a much more compelling arc than B’Elanna’s, honestly.