VOY: S3E20: “Favorite Son”

In which an entire planet has a vitamin D deficiency. 

"You're not too old for a spanking, young man."

“You’re not too old for a spanking, young man.”

Apparently, Voyager is charting the area, using a trinary star system as a reference point. Harry seems to vaguely recall it, but nobody else does, and Tuvok’s ego is suffering enough from having to thank Neelix last time that he feels the need to overword the term deja-vu. It’s about now that a nonthreatening ship ambles up to Voyager and its occupant, Alban, of the Nasari extends warm welcome, and Harry senses a threat, raises shields, and fires on them with no provocation but his own hyperactive imagination. The firefight is pitched despite Voyager’s unprovoked opening fire, so if Harry was right, the alien ship could probably have taken our heroes out pretty handily in a sneak attack. Now to find out why Harry thinks that was a good idea.

Harry caught a tetryon emission and insists it was their weapons, but has no basis to back up his hunch. Janeway goes hunting for any reason not to bust him down to janitor and relieves him of duty to go get his head examined. The Doctor, however, is a little busy trying to save Torres from having gotten a blast of plasma to the face. Seeing this, Harry gets his boo-boo tended to and confesses to Kes, and doesn’t bother asking for psychic help before being escorted back to quarters. That night, he has guilt-dreams of his actions, of his mother turning into Janeway, and of a dust-brown planet. And when he wakes up, he has trill-looking rashes.

His analysis in Sick Bay reveals that he’s not contagious, but his blood chemestry is altered. Harry worries that his poor decision-making might be a symptom of the new disease. And Torres is awake, and mostly healed from second- and third-degree burns. He can’t quite own up to his mistake to her face, particularly once she starts calling him Spot. Next day, Harry goes to Janeway to take responsibility, but as it turns out he was right all along. Tuvok has confirmed it, but Harry also confesses that he was only right because of some inbuilt racism that went along with an increasing sense of deja-vu. Also, credit where it’s due, Harry is a consumate Starfleet officer and has compiled a list of known phenomena that are candidates for this, while maintaining an understanding of how weird they all are.

Voyager is about to be confronted by three more ships, and Harry picks a system for Voyager to flee to where he knows they’ll be safe. Since Voyager is still repairing from their previous fight, they flee at maximum speed and just barely make it. There, they’re greeted by the planet in Harry’s vision, Turisia. An incoming ship with weapons hot approaches, but Harry knows they’ll be fine, and indeed it is there to fight the Nasari. When it hails them, it’s captain immediately recognizes Harry – she came specifically to save him, and welcomes him home.

"Such an unpleasant word. We prefer to think of it as a 'surprise baby shower.' "

“Such an unpleasant word. We prefer to think of it as a ‘surprise baby shower.’ “

Harry is greeted by a bevy of attractive robed women and some mouth-kissing. The matriarch confirms that the genetic fragments the Doctor found are Harry’s Turisian genes becoming active. They claim he was conceived on Turisia, frozen as an embryo, taken to Earth, and implanted in a human. If we were to take this at face value, it would require the Turisians to have a sufficiently fast drive or stable anomaly to study Earth. Plus a reason, although we can look to the Changeling’s 100 seedlings for inspiration there. Their species seems to be something like a cuckoo. Oh, also, if this is true, they definitely raped Harry’s mom.

It’s the way their whole species works, and apparently everyone manages to make it back, even those born 70,000 light-years away. The fact that there aren’t records of Turisians popping up all over the Federation would suggest that either they have some prophetic ability to make sure that the babies they plant will be in the right place at the right time to make it back, or they’re class-A reality warpers, on the level of Teela Brown, bending probability from a galaxy away to get home. Or Harry got infected with something locally and this is all a ruse, trick, or misunderstanding. Their explanation, however, is ‘Turisians are genetically driven to explore and oh hey look at these jingly keys.’

Males are rare on Turisia, the population is 90% female, so the welcome home is pretty nice for Harry. As far as the Nasari go, they’re hostile towards the Turisians, but can’t overcome Turisian weaponry directly, so instead they try to prevent homecomers from reaching their destination. The matriarch suggests that the Nasari will eventually get tired of waiting for Voyager to leave Turisian space, particularly if they don’t have a Turisian to kill anymore, but in the mean time they should stick around and enjoy some hospitality.

Turisian memory is genetic – Harry is slowly ‘remembering’ how to read a completely foreign script with no instruction. Paris is trying unsuccessfully to hit on the ladies, who have made some unfried jalapeno poppers for Harry. Also, one reason why there are so few males on the planet is that the men are the ones who go abroad to implant embryos in unsuspecting aliens. And sadly, there is no advanced drive, they’re just apparently long-lived enough that it’s plausible Harry’s father made it all the way to Earth. Without ever settling anywhere closer. It beggars the imagination.

The Doctor has gone back over old blood tests and found that Harry’s Turisian DNA has been disguising itself as human junk DNA somehow, which certainly seems to preclude a hoax. Voyager will still have to deal with the Nasari, so they go to chat without Harry aboard, on the chance that they’ll be more willing to talk. Meanwhile, Harry gets pampered and offered recreational drugs on the poygamy orgy-planet. It even turns out that his human parents had been trying to have a baby for years until Harry came along. Also, Harry experienced the same need-to-be-special that makes YA fantasy so popular. But maybe in the Future, Harry is the only teenager who’s ever felt out of place or waited for a letter from Hogwarts. And yet he’s still a bit hesitant to stay.

In negotiations with the Nasari, they agree not to attack since it’s no longer necessary. They declare that nobody ever leaves Turisia, and mutter darkly about rumors, then indicate that if Janeway returns with Harry Voyager be fired upon agian. When they go back to get Harry anyway, there’s a defense grid up that they can’t get through, and which they can’t call through either. The trap has been sprung!

The trap involves dozens of candles and sticks for the other male’s wedding ceremony. Harry starts to remember how the ceremony goes while it’s being run, and as it starts to take on the trappings of ritual sacrifice – binding, body painting, and a lot of precussion. Once it’s over, he tries to call Voyager, but of course it can’t go through, and he’s deflected with an invitation to stay the night.

In doing further analysis, the Doctor has found that, indeed, the Turisian DNA is a recent addition to Kim’s genetic makeup, in direct contradiction to the Doctor’s prior ‘findings.’  He now suspects a Turisian retrovirus, which can be traced back to a specific away mission. Now, here’s something fun to consider – if the Nasari hadn’t shown up to fight Voyager, Harry would never have gotten the leway to dictate their escape course and led the ship to Turisia. He would probably have had to effect a more daring escape from the ship, with the conversion in a much later stage. Food for thought.

COMPULSION, a new scent from the Cosby Collection

COMPULSION, a new scent from the Cosby Collection

Meanwhile, for his first night on Turisia, Harry gets shown to a bed and daubed with some sort of sleeping oils that are in no way meant to break down his inhibitions and mire him deeper in this spiderweb. harry gets a goodnight kiss, and since we’ve already gotten the giveaway of the Turn for this episode, we also get the creepy sliding strings and the canted camera angle dream sequence.

Harry’s sense of prudish propriety are clearly what’s going to save his life here, as he manages to refuse the two women literally throwing themselves at him, including using psychological tricks to spin every impulse he’s proud of (duty, loyalty, dedication) and tying them back into his obligations to ‘his people.’ You kind of have to feel bad for them. If they’d managed to infect Tom Paris, this episode would have ended with Tom Paris deciding to stay planetside five minutes after beaming down.

Meet the 24th century face of the Overly Attached Girlfriend meme.

Meet the 24th century face of the Overly Attached Girlfriend meme.

Harry gets clever once he realizes nobody’s going to let him leave, and manages to escape. When he goes to find his buddy, he’s greeted by a locked door and, behind it, a desiccated corpse. The Turisians cannibalize the cell matter of all the males who come to the planet in order to conceive new children. Men who are brought to the planet via the retroviral booby-traps. While he works planetside to effect and escape, Voyager punches through the defense grid at ramming speed and starts scanning for Harry, to try to get him out before the Turisian defense ship vaporizes them, or that starship-stealing mercenary beats him to death and blends him for parts. Hilariously, they insist on the whole gongs-and-sexy-blindfolds ritual even while beating the crap out of him, which gives Voyager the window to beam him out and scram.

Worse news, the Nasari ships are incoming as well, but Voyager is able to skate past by not drawing agro and letting the Turisians and the Nasari duke it out. In the aftermath, Harry tells Neelix the story of Odyssius and the Sirens, and then he and Tom renew their bromance – the real reason Harry stayed.

Did we miss something awesome?