Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Warlord”

“Warlord”
Written by Andrew Shepard Price & Mark Gaberman and Lisa Klink
Directed by David Livingston
Season 3, Episode 10
Production episode 152
Original air date: November 20, 1996
Stardate: 50348.1

Captain’s log. Neelix is showing Kim and Paris a re-creation of the Paxau Resort, a favorite Talaxian vacation spot. Kim and Paris think it’s okay, but make additions to it that make it more like a Caribbean island on Earth.

Voyager rescues three people from a damaged Ilari ship. They’re beamed directly to sickbay, but while the EMH and Kes are able to save Nori and Adin, but the third person, Tieran—whom Nori says is her husband—dies on the table. Janeway agrees to bring them to Ilari. Kes befriends Adin and especially Nori, providing a friendly face in their time of grief. In fact, she’s so focused on hanging out with Nori and Adin that she’s late for a holodeck date with Neelix. When Kes explains that she’s going to be spending more time with Nori and Adin, Neelix offers to join her in that, but she brushes him off and breaks up with him.

When they arrive at Ilari, the Autarch sends a representative to greet them. Nori and Adin are disappointed that the Autarch himself doesn’t beam up—and as soon as the representative materializes, Kes kills him and the transporter chief and wounds Janeway. Kes, it turns out, has been possessed by Tieran, and the time she’s been spending with Nori and Adin has involved using Kes’s knowledge of Voyager’s systems to set up an escape. They beam a shuttlecraft out of the shuttlebay and then themselves onto the shuttle, having locked the bridge out. The shuttle is resistant to Voyager’s tractor beam and invisible to long-range sensors once they go to warp, thanks to the prearranged sabotage.

Tieran brings the shuttle to a rendezvous point, and meets with Resh, who is shocked to see Tieran’s new host body. Resh wants to postpone their attack, but Tieran now has access to Kes’ telepathy, and uses it to hurt Resh until he acquiesces.

The Autarch’s oldest son, Demmas, beams up to Voyager to provide exposition: Tieran is a former Autarch who ruled Ilari two hundred years ago. He was a great leader in war, but struggled with peace, turning into a tyrant. He discovered a way to allow his consciousness to live on in another after his body died, and he’s been body-hopping in the two centuries since, trying to gain his power back. His latest host body died in Voyager’s sickbay, and he transferred to Kes. As far as Demmas is concerned, Kes is gone, but Janeway is more sanguine, and wants to try to save her.

Kim then says they’ve detected the shuttle. Tieran and his crew has beamed down and slain the Autarch, and taken his younger son, Ameron, prisoner. Tieran then places the Talisman of office around his neck and declares himself Autarch.

Tieran reassures Nori that he still loves her, and gives her a flower to show his love. Then he tries to convince Ameron to join him, as having the previous Autarch’s son on his side will help.

Demmas is remaining on Voyager where it’s safe and coordinating those loyal to him from there. The EMH has created a synaptic stimulator that will remove Tieran from Kes’ mind, but it must be attached directly to her. Tuvok volunteers for the covert mission to do so. (Demmas just wants to shoot Tieran, but Janeway won’t accept that as long as he’s in Kes’ body.)

Tieran is suffering from some nasty headaches due to Kes not being a willing host. Adin advises that he go to another host body, but Tieran likes Kes’ spirit, and he especially likes her telepathic abilities. Besides, she’s just a girl, she can’t defeat him…

Tuvok is unsuccessful in his attempt to attach the synaptic stimulator, and is taken prisoner. Tieran tries to interrogate the Vulcan to no avail, and Tuvok manages to touch his face and initiate a mind-meld and bring Kes’ consciousness to the fore. She’s still in there, still fighting him. Tieran is able to break the link and restore his primacy, and he has Tuvok imprisoned.

Star Trek: Voyager

Screenshot: CBS

Tieran communicates with Voyager, saying he bears them no ill will—they saved Nori and Adin’s life, after all—but if they don’t leave orbit, his warships will attack. Janeway leaves orbit.

Kes continues to fight back, and is able to assert herself more when Tieran sleeps—which he’s been trying to avoid doing. Tieran tries to convince her to join forces with him, but she refuses—she can’t get rid of him, but she will keep fighting him.

The next day, Tieran announces that he and Ameron will be married—reassuring Nori that it’s a political arrangement, to make the transition from the old Autarch more palatable to the masses. Tieran also wants to open a library and give every citizen a garden, because he loves plants and flowers, like in airponics on Voyager.

Resh announces that there’s an armada in orbit, led by Voyager. Demmas has gathered his forces and are attacking. They get through Tieran’s defenses. Paris beams to the prison and breaks Tuvok out, while a team that includes Neelix storms Tieran’s redoubt. Neelix places the synaptic stimulator onto Kes’ cheek, but Tieran shifts to Ameron—but then the stimulator is placed on him, which gets rid of Tieran once and for all.

Demmas is the new Autarch and Voyager continues on their way. Kes is devastated, and doesn’t know how her life can go back to normal; Tuvok sagely points out that it can’t, that this experience has changed her.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Tieran figured out a way to insert his mind into someone else’s body and take it over. The EMH figured out a way to reverse it. Ah, technology…

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway is insistent on finding a way to save Kes and not just take out Tieran regardless of what body he’s in. Demmas is reluctant, but since Voyager pretty much totally saves his ass and enables him to become Autarch, he’s in no position to complain.

Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok completely fails in his mission to stop Tieran, mostly because he didn’t take into account that Tieran is using Kes’ telepathy way more than Kes does. He also is completely resistant to Tieran’s attempts at interrogation, and even manages to establish that Kes is still kicking…

When he drops an Ilari guard with a neck pinch after Paris rescues him, the latter stares and says, “Some day, you’re going to have to show me how to do that,” to which Tuvok’s non-verbal response is a very telling “Yeah, right!” facial expression.

Forever an ensign. Kim and Paris both think that the Paxau Resort program is okay, but a bit bland. They add Caribbean music, brighter clothes, a women’s volleyball team, and snazzier drinks to the mix.

Half and half. Torres goes to the Paxau Resort program and adds a scantily clad towel boy. Wah-HEY!

Everybody comes to Neelix’s. The episode opens with Neelix getting a footrub, an image I will never get out of my mind no matter how much therapy I engage in to try.

Star Trek: Voyager

Screenshot: CBS

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. While possessed by Tieran, Kes breaks up with Neelix. The couple never does get back together.

Also Tieran remains verbally loyal to Nori when he possesses Kes, but also marries Ameron. (When Tieran announces that he wants all three to be very close, I couldn’t help but think, “Okay, he wants a threesome…”)

What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. Neelix has programmed the Paxau Resort into the holodeck, a favorite vacation spot among Talaxians. The resort will continue to be seen throughout the season, pretty much replacing Chez Sandríne as the holodeck getaway of choice among the crew.

Do it.

“You’re already deteriorating, and it’s only going to get worse. I’ll find every little crack in your defenses. You’ll feel yourself crumbling from within, your sanity slipping away. I won’t stop until you’re broken and helpless. There’s nowhere you can go to get away from me. I’ll be relentless and merciless—just like you.”

–Kes making her saving roll versus badass while confronting Tieran in her mind

Welcome aboard. Brad Greenquist and Karl Wiedergott make their first Trek appearances as Demmas and Ameron, respectively. Greenquist will be on DS9’s “Who Mourns for Morn?” as Krit and on two episodes of Enterprise as other aliens; Wiedergott will appear on Enterprise also. Galyn Görg, last seen as Korena on DS9’s “The Visitor,” plays Nori, while Leigh J. McCloskey, who will also play Joran Dax on DS9’s “Field of Fire,” plays the image of Tieran in Kes’s mind. Charles Emmett and Anthony Crivello play Tieran’s other minions.

EDITED TO ADD: As noted by Christoher Bennett in the comments, Görg died last week after a long fight with cancer.

Trivial matters: Kes is shown dealing with the aftermath of Tieran’s possession in the short story “Winds of Change” by Kim Sheard in the Voyager anthology Distant Shores.

Kes’s telepathic abilities, last seen in “Cold Fire” and dormant since then, are brought to the fore by Tieran when he possesses her.

Neelix mentions that he has some combat training, likely referring to his abortive career as a soldier in the Talaxian military before he went AWOL, mentioned in “Jetrel.” He also mentions tactical exercises with the crew he’s gone on, something he asked Janeway to be included in back in “Initiations.”

The EMH still has his mobile emitter he got last episode, which enables him to be in the briefing room instead of on a viewscreen. At this point, he has to be considered part of the crew complement. Janeway’s statement in “The 37s” that there were 152 people on board would not have accounted for him, so let’s say there were 153 then. At that point, Seska had left and Durst had died, so they left the Ocampa homeworld with 155. Since “The 37s,” there have been crew deaths in “Alliances” (three), “Meld” (one), “Investigations” (one), “Innocence” (one), the “Basicstwo-parter (four), and Ensign Martin in this episode. That makes 142, but the Wildman baby has been born since then also, so there are 143 people on board.

Star Trek: Voyager

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “I’m not really a monster.” One of the most common tropes of genre television is the possession episode. Star Trek alone has dipped into the well many times (“Return to Tomorrow,” “Is There In Truth No Beauty?” “Power Play,” “Clues,” “The Passenger,” “Dramatis Personae,” “The Assignment,” etc.), and while there are lots of reasons for it, most of the time it boils down to giving the actors a chance to stretch themselves a bit by playing someone other than who they normally play.

Jennifer Lien certainly makes the most of it, as the embittered ex-tyrant is a far cry from the serene Ocampa. At first, she seems very much like the Kes we know. Her interaction with Neelix on the holodeck is the first sign that something’s wrong, as her breakup with Neelix is very out of character—not the breakup itself, but the meanness of it, which is very much not Kes.

And then once the Autarch’s representative beams on board, Lien’s entire face changes. There’s no question that this isn’t Kes, and she plays it beautifully.

Hilariously, she’s more effective than Leigh J. McCloskey, who’s terribly wooden in his one and only scene confronting Kes in her mindscape. It’s kind of amusing that Lien—who is pretty much impersonating McCloskey when she’s being Tieran—is better at it than he is. She brings passion to the role that McCloskey can’t manage.

When Tuvok does the mind-meld, her face changes again, and you instantly see that it’s Kes and not Tieran. Just some superb work from Lien here.

The story itself is a perfectly serviceable coup d’état story. I’m glad they didn’t bother with too much hand-wringing about Voyager getting involved in Demmas’s attempt to take power back. He is the rightful heir, and the usurper is someone who’s kidnapped—and mind-napped—one of their own, there’s no question that they’ll lend a hand to put this right, especially if it means Kes getting saved.

I would’ve liked some more actual closure between Neelix and Kes dealing with the breakup Tieran forced on them, and pretty much any scene in the Paxau Resort could have been sacrificed to have that, as those scenes are very obviously constructed to show that This Is The New Holodeck Hangout, plus anything that would spare us watching Ethan Phillips make idiotic expressions while getting his feet rubbed is worth trying.

However, the final scene between Tuvok and Kes is a masterpiece, as Tuvok once again proves himself a superb mentor to the burgeoning telepath.

Warp factor rating: 7

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest Star Trek project was announced last week: he’s one of the contributors to the Star Trek Adventures Klingon Empire Core Rulebook, now available for preorder (print) and download (PDF) from Modiphius. Keith has done a couple of group interviews about the new rulebook, including one as part of the “Day of Honor” event (alongside fellow scribes Derek Tyler Attico and Kelli Fitzpatrick, Jim Johnson, Chris Birch, Nathan Dowdell, and Sam Webb from Modiphius, and special guest, award-winning Trek illustrator Rick Sternbach), and another with Michael Dismuke on the “Continuing Mission” web series (alongside Attico, Fitzpatrick, Johnson, and Aaron Pollyea).

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