Star Trek 597: Ashes to Ashes

597. Ashes to Ashes

FORMULA: Latent Image + Suddenly Human + Mortal Coil

WHY WE LIKE IT: Lyndsay Ballard.

WHY WE DON'T: Playing fast and loose with continuity.

REVIEW: I really like Ensign Lyndsay Ballard, I really do. And I wish we'd actually seen something of her on the series before she was supposedly killed. She's spunky and irreverent, not the perfect officer but genuinely likable, and cute too. If Harry was so close to her, why did she never rate so much of a mention before? See, that's the problem with creating retroactive relationships like this. In many ways, this seems like it was written for Ensign Jetal from Latent Image. Wasn't her story very much the same? Or does Harry lose sassy best friends we never met before in shuttle accidents on a regular basis?

It goes to Ashes to Ashes' central problem as an episode. While the premise is interesting and the theme (second chances) a strong one, and the guest character perfectly charming, the writing is lazy. Too often on Voyager, a premise is set up without regard to continuity, character history or good sense. Here, we're not only expected to believe such an important person in Harry's life was never mentioned before, but that he's been in love with her since his Academy days. Did they forget about his fiancé Libby? (Not that you can't be in love with two women, mind you, but it's still a shift from established history.)

And let's talk about the Kobali. While it may be interesting to imagine a species that procreates by genetically altering the dead bodies of other species, it's much harder to imagine how such a species might evolve or even function as a society. Or why Lyndsay's new father spits on humans for abandoning their dead in space when his people require this from other species to survive. (When I first saw them, the look similar to the Borg Queen and morbid "assimilation" techniques made me think of them potentially as Species 1, or at least an offshoot of the race that originally spawned the Borg. Alas, the Queen is stated to be some other species.) Another continuity problem is that if she was taken during the Hirogen stories two seasons back, she should have had major trouble finding Voyager again (all those long jumps). I can believe she found a way, but that her father followed her, and then can go get back-up like we're near the Kobali homeworld... Does everyone have the keys to a wormhole we don't know about?

It's all very distracting to the thinking viewer, though Lyndsay makes up for it a lot with both her playful and tragic sides. She discovers there's really no going back. Despite her origins, she finds that she has Kobali thoughts, values and tastes. She can't run from her destiny and will have to "own the day". Before she leaves - and it's too bad, because she's a lot more interesting than Harry Kim - she at least gets a second chance to say goodbye, whether that means giving Harry some sugar or asking the captain why she was (essentially) chosen to die.

And the Borg kids are back! I'm not sure why they're answering the phone (lazy writing), but it was nice to catch up with Seven's all-too-strict (and pretty funny) attempts at raising them. "Fun will now commence." Punishment protocols. "Resume your disorder." It's fun stuff. Icheb is a bit old to be this bratty (of course, "unruly" for a Borg child is still pretty restrained), so it's definitely Mezoti's show. She's a real charmer with her deadpan deliveries, klutzy demeanor and easy way of falling back into being a little girl. She also scores Lyndsay's brush at the end of the episode, a nice moment between her and Harry. (Missed opportunity: He really should have taken her skating instead of futilely pranking Tuvok.)

LESSON: Some species were made for Big Brother slop.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: Some witty dialogue and a great guest-star, even if the episode was written with little regard to established facts. I can't help but be charmed more than annoyed by it.

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