Star Trek 616: Lineage

616. Lineage

FORMULA: Body Parts + Let He Who Is Without Sin...

WHY WE LIKE IT: A moving character story.

WHY WE DON'T: Music's a little schmaltzy.

REVIEW: I'm glad to see that for Tom and B'Elanna at least, time doesn't have to stand still. Harry may still be an ensign and Voyager may still be in mind condition, but their relationship is allowed to suffer changes. In Lineage, B'Elanna becomes pregnant and she doesn't have to give up the baby, it doesn't turn into an alien, it's not a dream. The crew gets a touch of baby fever, Harry tries to put the bachelor's fear into Tom, and Tuvok gives fatherly advice ("Expect paradox"). It's all in good fun, and obviously they're aiming for a series finale delivery date.

But the episode goes beyond this by using the pregnancy
as a means to explore B'Elanna's childhood and character. When she discovers her child will grow up to have Klingon traits, she tries to have them genetically removed, even going so far as to tamper with the Doctor's program to make him agree to it. In (too?) slowly unspooling flashbacks, we find out B'Elanna was teased for being different, which doesn't seem that bad (the case is often made that she is over-sensitive), but also that her father had real trouble living with two Klingons. So she's motivated by a mixture of fear she could lose Tom to an overwhelming family life, and that particular self-loathing that has probably always fueled her anger and defensiveness. Dawson gives a strong, moving performance here, quickly raising B'Elanna to the status of my favorite Voyager character.

Obviously Tom is going to be against all this, but he's more than just the required voice of reason. For him, it always boils down to thinking of Voyager as home. He's the guy who really doesn't want to go home. He's the guy who sees no problem with his daughter growing up on the ship, surrounded by the best support system in the galaxy. If he trusts in anything, it is that. As for the Doctor, he's incredibly gracious about having been tampered with. It's a welcome change from the usually hysterical "I'm a person, dammit!" rantings.

I do have reservations about the EMH being named their child's godfather. In the context of the episode, it works. He's important to them there, and in some way deserves compensation for the way he was treated. However, it seems to ignore 7 years of Voyager history. B'Elanna has never been a great friend of the Doctor's, seeing him as a pest of a hologram and hating to be doctored anyway. Tom has closer ties to the Doc, having been assigned to be his nurse for the better part of the series, but it's always been a chore. B'Elanna does hint at the other choices, so maybe there was a disagreement about them. Tom's never been Chakotay's best friend, and B'Elanna really might think Harry too green, but I did think that in the latter case, B'E and Harry had a bond going back to the pilot.

LESSON: At seven weeks, the average Klingon fetus can already do martial arts.

REWATCHABILITY - High: A strong case for character-driven episodes. I don't know why Voyager keeps insisting on high concept premises instead.


Bill D. said...

"Expect paradox." That is so perfectly accurate. I'm gonna have to remember that one.

LiamKav said...

It's strange. Harry is kept as firmly to his series bible profile as possible, and as a result is No-One's Favourite. Tom is almost completely different (rebel bad boy to geeky-but-cool friend) and is much, much better.

If only there was some sort of clue!


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