In which Neelix builds a bad spa and Kes takes over a planet.
Oh, fantastic. Neelix’s O-face. If I have to see it, so do you. The camera angles don’t make it any better, but as it turns out he’s getting a foot rub from a talaxian lady at a famous Talaxian spa. Holodeck program, of course. Harry and Tom don’t like it. It’s way too sedate. Paris gives the butler an open shirt, and Kim adds his… volleyball team. Neelix is a fan. They make us watch him dance. That’s the teaser. You could turn it off now and literally not care. Oh, Janeway called the officers to the bridge for something, but honestly who cares, if continuing to watch means we risk having to get another Tarantino shot of Neelix’s feet?
Kes is sitting in her room relaxing when the Doctor calls her in for possible incoming casualties. A ship near Voyager is venting plasma and radiation. Janeway orders the ship to move into the danger zone to try to beam out survivors, and they ship explodes moments later. Kes and the Doctor try to save the alien, but their drugs don’t work and they lose one of the patients. The two survivors explain to Janeway what happened to their ship – attacked by marauders – and thank her for helping them get home. The autarch of their home planet will surely want to thank them.
Torres is a big fan of Neelix’s new program too, and made some additions of her own. Neelix is worried about Kes not meeting him for lunch in the resort, because she actually has responsibilities, and she seems a bit annoyed at the interruption. Maybe it’s just the headache, but she’s snappish and calls him out not letting her branch out and make other friends. They have a little conversation about relationship expectations that dances around the concept of emotional abuse.
Two days later, Voyager arrives at Ilari and accepts a representative of the Autarch, who Kes promptly shoots in the chest. Janeway wrestles her against the wall, but as it turns out her two friends help her take over. They beam a shuttle into space, and themselves onto it, and escape before Voyager can take out the engines. Kes also hid the shuttle’s warp trail, in such a way that Wiz Kid Harry Kim is baffled it could be done at all. Now, we know that Kes is a pretty quick study.
They show up at a staging area, ready for the orders of whatever is living in Kes’ brain – Tieran. Tieran’s second-in-command doesn’t believe their plan has enough solidity to survive this minor shakeup, but as it turns out Tieran is able to use Kes’ latent Ocampa mind-powers to Darth Vader him into line and make him start bleeding out of all his extra face-holes. He pledges his loyalty to Tieran-Kes.
The Autarch’s son beams up to explain the situation, about Tieran. Tieran wants to overthrow the current government of Ilari two centuries ago, out of the ashes of a war. During peacetime, he became a paranoid dictator and was ousted in a coup. But don’t worry – he was also Voldemort – he figured out how to project into the mind of others and squish their identities. The Autarch’s son claims that Kes is gone forever, but Janeway gave up her entire sense of identity saving Kes just a few weeks ago and isn’t familiar with the fallacy of sunk costs, so away we go. The representative has the understandable priority of stopping Tieran, but before they can settle their differences, Kes and her strike force beam into the Imperial Hall and kill the Autarch, imprison his son, and takes backImperial Collar of Regency or whatever.
The first order of business is interior decoration – putting a poster of Tieran up behind the throne, and throwing out everything else… except the plants. there’s some marital difficulties between Tieran and his probably-still-wife, depending on the local social customs. In fact, Tieran-Kes appears to be making an offer to the Autarch’s non-inheriting son for legitimacy, in exchange for power and also probably sex.
As I watch this episode on election day, Demmas talks us through the burgeining civil war on Ilari, as the people split themselves between the rightful heir and the guy who joined up with Tieran. The Doctor found how this whole thing happened – Tieran had an implant that pushed his neural patterns out of contacts in his hands and into Kes. Since the method was technological in nature, the Doctor has rigged up a countermeasure, if only they can get close enough to use it. So they’re going to try to infiltrate the palace one-on-one, rather than an invasion in force.
Tieran’s got the new implant in, but the headaches he’s been getting have been Kes fighting back – unlike all his other hosts over the years, Kes was unwilling. Having native access to mental powers probably helps out, as well. The doctor suggests transferring out, but Teiran wants those mental powers, and explains his reasoning by shouting about his hard life and all the fights he’s won over his life.
During some council meeting, Tieran senses Tuvok’s presence. He’s able to plant the device on Kes, but it seems not to have worked, and now Tuvok is captured and being prepped for interrogation. The mental powers cut through his control, and Tieran continues to use Kes’ body to try to seduce his way to power. This lets Tuvok get close enough to initiate a mind meld and speak to Kes long enough to give a little encouragement.
Since Tuvok can’t report back, Janeway has to consider force. Neelix wants to join the strike force, and Janeway agrees based on his service in the Talaxian war, and all the training he’s done on board ship. Also because he definitely won’t shut up if she refuses. Tieran calls in, warning them from making any more rescue attempts, as gratitude for saving his life. They have thirty seconds to comply, and Voyager does so. Also, we learn that Tieran can’t sleep, because that’s when Kes comes out. Clearly, this is not at all sustainable. A sane ruler would use this opportunity to transfer out of Kes, send her and Tuvok home on a shuttle, and trust that Janeway would take the opportunity to claim Prime Directive and leave Demmas to his fate. But hey, in his favor, Tieran is planning on keeping his word.
Tieran closes his eyes for a moment, and the council chambers become a battleground of the mind. Terian tries his standard move of seducing people to his side, but Kes knows his tricks and forces the conflict anyway. And I have to point out that the staging here is pretty great. The set goes back and forth between Tieran’s council room and Kes’ bedroom on Voyager, in really quite seamless sequence, emphasizing who appears to be winning the conversation. Just as Kes is gaining the upper hand, Tieran’s doctor brings him out of it, and gets his eyes boiled out of his skull for his efforts.
The next day, Tieran announces his marriage to Amaron, the Autarch’s son, in order to cement the political alliance. This peeves off Tieran’s wife, but of course this leads to the philosophical question of whether it’s still a threesome if two people are in the same body. Even odds as to whether Tieran will transfer into Amaron or into his wife. Particularly now that his wife Nori is beginning to show some divided loyalties.
In fact, Voyager is on its way back with Demmas’ fleet, and Kes is clearly eating Tieran from the inside out. He’s opening charitable works projects, which a wise ruler-by-coup might do in order to cement popularity, but (s)he’s also about to issue an edict mandating every citizen have a garden. Teiran deteriorates quite rapidly. Even as Paris rescues Tuvok, the rest of the crew invades the council room. After a firefight, they plant the device on Kes again, but Tieran’s already moved on into the heir. They burn him out of the kid, and Demmas gets the collar of office back at last.
After this ordeal, Tuvok tries to help Kes settle back into the regular day-to-day, including reminding her that she’s not responsible for Tieran’s actions, and her refusal to surrender defeated him. Also, there’s a suggestion that she won’t be able to go back to normal and ought to start thinking about where to go from here.