In which a new member of the crew is added and Torres commits crimes against the crew and the Federation.
B’Elanna is in a very good mood today. She’s complimenting everyone she sees, until she finds Seven and Icheb at an unauthorized station and gets weak knees. During the following medical scan, Icheb detects a parasite, but it’s biologically compatible with her… well, Seven is familiar enough not to misdiagnose the issue. The Doctor confirms – the fetus is seven weeks old, and the biochemical changes are expected to mess with , but not dangerously so. The two of them were trying, or at least they claim to have been trying, but mixed species conceptions are rare. Also, Klingon pregnancies typically run 10 weeks shorter than human ones, and mixing the two species is expected to, if anything, reduce the total time and not average it. I don’t know enough about biology to dispute this hard, but the gestation periods of ligers and mules suggest this might be more bad science, unless the Doctor is counting the 7 weeks already elapsed.
Torres wants to be surprised by the sex of the baby. Tom doesn’t believe in such things, but they head off to go baby-proof the quarters and to do research. They also agree to keep things quiet, forgetting that they asked neither the Doctor, Seven, nor Icheb to not spread the news around. Therefore the whole ship knows. Neelix apologies for the minor breach by Icheb with the Talaxian idiom “good news has no clothes.” One can… kind of… see how this translates. Tom offers him the Godfathership, although ultimately the whole ship is going to be. Except Harry. Harry’s rubbing Tom’s imminent parenthood in his face. To escape, Tom goes to offer to help Tuvok as the one person who’s not pestering him about it… and one of the few people on the ship who has been a father and can offer advice.
The end of the first day is a list of small exhaustions – Torres has been suggested for lighter duty – don’t want the baby around any exotic radiation you can avoid) and Chakotay and Neelix are in a proxy war over godfatherdom. The Future will not be any easier for newly pregnant women, vis a vis free unhelpful advice and folk wisdom. Whatever else makes this episode noteworthy, it’s good to have stories that remind us that people will still be people among all the technology.
Speaking of the Problem of the Week, the Doctor has done some projections on the kid, and it turns out the fetus has some markers for in-utero scoliosis. This is one of those watermarks for just how advanced medicine is in the future – even given an accelerated gestation, this is the point where a human fetus has only just started developing bones. The Doctor’s scans can extrapolate out to ten months after birth, when the spine will have deviated. Evidently, this is either congenital or a result of mixed pregnancies – hard to say for sure, but B’Elanna had surgery for this as a baby. I spoke too soon, this is a Klingon congenetial condition. Medicine has advanced beyond baby surgery, though – now they just correct the genetic condition. Tom, hearing this, wonders what other things they can pre-learn about their baby, and what other conditions they might alter.
We have always assumed that the Federation ban on genetic engineering was based in the Eugenics Wars, but it’s worth remembering that there’s a healthy amount of trying to avoid a GATTACA future of designer babies – this is also helpfully avoided by not having a society with Haves and Have-Nots. Torres is a little disappointed to see forehead ridges on the baby, something that she never really liked about herself and which is now going to keep her up. Klingon traits remain dominant, after all. Torres dreams of her childhood, where she boosted the ‘field strength of a targeting lure’ on a fishing rod and got teased by her cousins for being part Klingon.
The next morning, B’Elanna heads off to the Doctor for her genetic therapy session, and discourages Tom from coming along. The Doctor barrages her with natal plans and talks about how he expanded his prenatal program (which he didn’t do for Samantha Wildman?) and B’Elanna drifts off down memory lane, when her boy cousins were jerky boy cousins and her girl cousin was supportive. The Doctor has fixed the spinal deviation, but it’s pretty clear what Torres is thinking – she runs off to the holodeck to design a baby free of Klingon traits, and save the changes.
The Doctor refuses to make the changes that would remove things like a redundant third lung. He doesn’t want to perform anything that might diminish the baby’s capacities unnecessarily, and Torres’ arguments are clearly both spurious and not the real issue here. The Doctor agrees to review her work, but tells her to go discuss things with Tom, who immediately sees through her. To him, Torres explains the minority experience to Tom. This argument goes nowhere, so Torres asks Janeway to order the Doctor to ‘fix’ her daughter the way Janeway ordered seven fixed. Janeway wisely stays out of it.
Harry has some helpful advice and a couch, while B’Elanna has her memories which, in the cold light of adulthood, might actually show her that subjective experience and the actual problems of being part Klingon are different… or that the real problem isn’t other kids bullying her but her worry that Tom will have the same thoughts about their kid that she overheard her dad saying about her.
Next day, Chakotay ducks out of their fight too to let them make up. The Doctor calls them in to give them an update – he’s discovered that Torres’ alterations are medically necessary – the clash between the two species may actually kill the fetus, so he’s scheduled the procedure for the next day. Tom is devastated, and asks Icheb to help interpret the Doctor’s findings – in which he quickly finds an error, which shouldn’t be possible unless the Doctor is malfunctioning. Seven runs a diagnostic and finds tampering, and who on this ship with high-level access to all systems would be capable of and motivated to tamper with the Doctor’s program like that? Whoever it is, she’s already going through with the procedure. Tom calls security.
What do you think the penalties are for brainwashing a member of the crew into performing a task that brushes up against Federation law with just a soupçon of sabotaging the ship? Torres has been very thorough, and it takes a backdoor hack from the bridge to disable the force fields protecting the surgical bay. Whatever the penalties, they’re not enough to keep Tuvok from letting them have a minute to talk where Tom finally gets to the root of… damn it, the Internet has ruined the term ‘daddy issues.’ But as a kid, she told her father to leave and he did. And there it is. Now that they’ve gotten to the root of it, Tom can issue his assurances, and the Doctor can let Torres off the hook, in time for the baby to start kicking. And to be named godfather.