Monday, November 23, 2015

Character Insight No. 169: Best of Kes

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe. An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here 

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we continue the "Best Of" series with a look at the best episodes featuring Kes, from Voyager. 


(Kes, courtesy Wikipedia)

Kes is one of two Delta Quadrant residents who become part of Voyager's crew as a result of the events of the pilot Caretaker. She is an Ocampan, a life form which has psionic powers and a 9-year lifespan. Thus, even though she serves as a medical assistant, she eventually leaves the crew after three seasons, making way for Seven of Nine as a new character. Here are some of her best moments. 

In the Season 3 episode Before and After, Kes is shown participating in a year-long battle with the Krenim and being infected with particles from a Chroniton torpedo, which leads to a backwards journey through an alternative version of her life when the Doctor accidentally activates these particles when trying to keep her alive. In this timeline, she marries Tom Paris and their daughter marries Harry Kim.

Kes: If there's one thing that this experience has taught me, Captain, it's that there's no time like the present. 

In the season 2 episode Elogium, Kes is caused by some space-dwelling life forms to prematurely enter the once-per-life Ocampan female reproductive state. She must deal with the potential loss of her only opportunity to have a child, and the Doctor helps her with this as much as she helps him with his growth as a character. 

Neelix: A... Awful! How can you eat it? 
Kes: I can't stop eating it. I've had six bowls! And the reason it tastes so strange, I've put a container of nitrogenated soil in it. 
Neelix: Dirt? You're eating dirt? 

The Doctor: Her unusual appetite may merely indicate a nutrient deficiency. It is not unusual for humanoids to crave foods that are rich in the very vitamins and minerals that their bodies are lacking. 
Kes: You... you can't mean my body lacks dirt? 

Finally, in the season 3 episode Warlord, Kes has the consciousness of an Ilaran tyrant transferred into her own and she must fight this consciousness off to regain her individuality. This leads to the end of her romantic relationship with Neelix, as well as trauma over being caused to do violent acts when under the tyrant's control. 

Kes: How can I worry about my own wellbeing when... so many people have suffered and died? 
Lieutenant Tuvok: You were not responsible for Tieran's actions. 
Kes: I can't help wondering whether I could've fought harder. 
Lieutenant Tuvok: It was your absolute refusal to surrender which defeated him. You cannot ask more of yourself than that. 

Kes was an interesting character at times, but her development was more stilted than Neelix, and she ended up being a character the show could do without. Although the actress who played Kes has recently gotten into some legal trouble, we shouldn't let that color our enjoyment of this character provided by the early Voyager show writers trying to bring that Delta Quadrant flavor to the crew.

Until next time, have a great Thanksgiving!

Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy.

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