Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Favorite Son”

“Favorite Son”
Written by Lisa Klink
Directed by Marvin V. Rush
Season 3, Episode 20
Production episode 162
Original air date: March 19, 1997
Stardate: 50732.4

Captain’s log. Voyager passes by a trinary star system that Kim thinks is familiar, but Chakotay assures him they haven’t been through here before. A Nasari vessel approaches and hails them, seemingly friendly, but Kim is overcome by the need to fire on them.

A firefight ensues, as Kim takes over tactical and fires. Voyager manages to escape the fight, though there’s damage and Torres is badly hurt. Kim insists that, contrary to appearances, the Nasari were going to fire on them, though there’s no obvious evidence of that. Kim is relieved of duty and sent to sickbay. Kes cures the cut on his head, and he sees how badly Torres is hurt, and he feels horrible.

Confined to quarters, he goes to sleep, and has strange dreams that include a planet, memories of having Mendakan pox as a child and his mother caring for him, the Nasari attack, and more. He goes to the bathroom to wash his face, and sees red spots around his hairline and neck.

He goes to sickbay, and the EMH confirms that it’s nothing contagious, but he has no idea what these rashes are. The doctor plans to run more tests. Torres wakes up and teases Kim, making him feel a little better about being responsible for getting her hurt.

Kim reports to Janeway to take his punishment, but a more in-depth analysis of sensor readings indicate that the Nasari were, indeed, planning to fire, as Kim thought. The question now is how the heck he knew that, and why this region of space is so familiar to him.

Tuvok reports three more Nasari ships. Kim checks the local star charts, and urges Janeway to go to a particular star system. They head there, and a ship helps them fend off the Nasari. Once the Nasari retreat, the ship identifies itself as belonging to the Taresians. Their leader, a woman named Lyris, welcomes Kim home—he is, she says, one of them. And the Taresians have the same spots that Kim has been displaying.

The EMH has done a DNA scan on Kim and found alien chromosomes in his DNA that weren’t there before—they were disguised as recessive traits previously.

Janeway, Tuvok, Kim, and Paris beam down to Taresia. Lyris explains that Kim really is one of them. They send embryos out to the wide expanse of the galaxy and impregnate women. The embryos take on the genetic characteristics of the surrogate, but they’re also bred with the compulsion to travel through space and eventually come home.

The Taresians are also 90% female, and this weird method of procreating is how they infuse more men into their population so they can stay viable. Several Taresian women are also fondling Kim a lot—they’re very affectionate. There’s one other man present, Taymon, who has a similar story to Kim’s.

Janeway is concerned with the Nasaris’ hostility, as they’re hovering outside the Taresian star system. Lyris says they have a particular animus toward the Taresians. Kim wants to stay on the planet and learn more about his newly discovered past. The rest of the away team beams back to Voyager and Janeway will try to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Nasari.

Kim and Taymon compare stories—apparently not just Kim’s desire to travel through space, but also his love of music come from the Taresians. The Taresians offer Kim a drug that will enhance the mood, but Kim politely refuses it.

Taymon is about to undergo the marriage ceremony to three wives, which is standard, given the gender disparity on the world. Kim is looking forward to attending the ceremony, which he remembers all the details of once it starts happening—there are a lot of candles, banging of sticks, and tying up the groom (ooh, kinky).

Star Trek: Voyager "Favorite Son"

Screenshot: CBS

Alben, the Nasari captain, says he has no quarrel with Voyager now that the Taresian is no longer on board. He is skeptical that Kim will return to the ship—none of these “lost soul” types ever leave the planet once they arrive—but he assures Janeway that, if Kim does come back, he will fire on them.

Voyager returns to Taresia to find a polaron grid surrounding the planet, which blocks sensors, transporters, and communications. Janeway and Chakotay get a report from the EMH, who has dug a little deeper and found that the alien DNA has only been in Kim’s body since stardate 50698, which is when Chakotay led an away mission, which included Kim, to a planet to collect vorilium. Kim was alone at several points during that mission. The EMH theorizes that a virus was responsible. The biofilter in the transporter likely caught and wiped out the virus when he beamed back, but the virus had done its job of altering Kim’s DNA already by that point.

Kim is tucked into bed by one of the Taresians who applies a balm to his head. He has more weird dreams that include the Taresians, the Voyager crew, and his Mom, and he wakes up to two women in his bed who want to smooch him a lot. Kim is suspicious of what’s happening, and ties one of them up (on the pretense of it being just like the marriage ceremony, ha ha) and knocks out the other one when she belatedly realizes it’s a trap.

Then he goes to Taymon’s quarters, only to find him dead, his corpse desiccated. The Taresians explain that they need to suck the life force out of men to survive, or something. The Taresians all surround Kim and are about to subdue him when Kim is transported back to Voyager, the gang having figured out how to penetrate the polaron barrier.

The Nasari and the Taresians get into a firefight, and Voyager slips away in the confusion.

Kim tells Neelix the story of Odysseus and the sirens, just in case we missed the inspiration for the episode, and then Kim talks about how nice it was to be someone cooler than he thought he was—someone more like Paris. Paris points out that, since he came on board Voyager, he’s tried to be more like Kim.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently, the Taresians are good enough at genetic engineering to create a virus that can literally rewrite DNA and turn someone into an alien and give that person memories (and also apparently somehow transmit information about where the virus’s victims come from so they can fake like they know all about them), but not good enough to genetically encode their own children so that they get more men.

Forever an ensign. Kim thinks he’s turning into an alien, and kinda likes the whole notion of being this exotic person who has women fawning over him. He also says he’s happy on Voyager, which I guess retroactively makes his idiotic choices in “Non Sequitur” make sense? Maybe?

Half and half. Torres gets very badly injured when the Nasari first attack. But she’s not so badly injured that she can’t make fun of Kim’s “rash,” calling him “Spot” at one point.

Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix is fascinated by the story of Odysseus.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH figures out how Kim got turned into a Taresian. Because he’s just that awesome.

Star Trek: Voyager "Favorite Son"

Screenshot: CBS

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. The Taresians seem to be in seduction mode pretty much permanently. They paw all over Kim the moment he beams down and at least one is always after him. Ditto Taymon, who is never seen without at least one Taresian on his arm at all times.

Amusingly, Paris tries to flirt with one of the Taresians, and they’re completely uninterested in him.

Do it.

“Sometimes I wish I could be more bold and confident with women. More like you.”

“Like me? You might want to reconsider that, Harry, there could be prison time involved. Actually, since I’ve been on Voyager, I’ve tried to be more like you.”

“That’ll be the day.”

“I’m serious! You’re my role model! You’re reliable, hard-working, extremely punctual. Did I mention polite?”

–Kim wishing he was more like Paris, and Paris being very unconvincing in his attempt to say the reverse is true.

Welcome aboard. Deborah May, last seen as Haneek in DS9’s “Sanctuary,” plays Lyris, while Christopher Carroll, last seen as Gul Benil in DS9’s “Second Skin,” plays Alben. Irene Tsu makes the first of two appearances as Kim’s mother (she’ll be back in “Author Author”). Cari Shayne, Kelli Kirkland, and Patricia Tallman play three of the Taresians. (Tallman’s in her capacity as a stuntperson, as she’s one of the Taresians who attacks Kim in the climax.)

And we get, not one, but two Robert Knepper moments! I had totally forgotten that both Patrick Fabian—currently being all nice and smarmy on Better Call Saul—and Kristanna Loken—probably best known for her roles in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and BloodRayne—were in this as, respectively, Taymon and Malia.

Trivial matters: This episode was heavily rewritten, at least partly due to directives from the network. Lisa Klink’s original script had Kim truly being a Taresian and the notion was that he would remain such for the rest of the series.

Kim was infected by the virus while they were collecting vorilium on an away mission—Voyager was established as searching for a vorilium source in “Darkling.”

Tuvok responds to an order from Janeway with “Aye, sir,” which is odd, as Janeway was established way back in “Caretaker” as not caring for that particular tradition, and Tuvok of all people wouldn’t forget that.

And for the truly trivial, this is a rare instance of actually seeing the inside of a bathroom in Star Trek.

Star Trek: Voyager "Favorite Son"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “I have never seen so many beautiful women in my life.” So many times in the first wave of Star Trek spinoffs from 1987-2005, we’ve heard of possible plotlines that were discarded that would’ve been so cool. Jadzia dying in “Change of Heart” instead of “Tears of the Prophets,” which would’ve been much much more poignant than what we got in either episode. Will Riker dying in “Second Chances” and Tom Riker remaining on the ship, thus keeping Jonathan Frakes in the cast but significantly altering the dynamic on the Enterprise. Troi permanently losing her empathy after “The Loss.” Torres remaining human after her Klingon half was killed in “Faces.”

Here, it turns out that making Kim a Taresian was the original notion here, and that would’ve been so much more interesting than what we got, especially since the last-minute rewrite to, “no, wait, it’s a virus and they were lying” exposes numerous plot holes. How do the Taresians know where Kim came from? How are they able to fake being the ones who “created” him?

And the Taresians were so—I dunno, bland? They’re superficial arm candy and not much beyond that. I found myself actually longing for the more overt sexuality of the scantily clad Aryans in TNG’s “Justice,” and when you can’t even live up to the bottom-of-the-barrel standards of one of TNG’s lowest points, it’s not good.

The conflict with the Nasari isn’t given a proper explanation, as the script is far too busy flinging technobabble fast and furious to even bother explicating it. They’re just there as a boogeyman to provide a reason for Kim to act weird in the opening, but their animus for the Taresians is given no context.

I did like Kim’s dream sequences, and it’s good to actually see his Mom (among the many failures of “Non Sequitur” was never showing or even mentioning Kim’s parents), but this episode just does not cohere on any level.

Warp factor rating: 2

Keith R.A. DeCandido is one of the guests of honor at the virtual Bubonicon 2020 this coming Saturday the 29th of August. Among the events (which can be seen on Zoom, YouTube, or Facebook) will be Keith doing a reading, and participating in panels on writing (with Connie Willis, Walter Jon Williams, Susan Matthews, and Lauren Teffeau) and the use of mythology in fiction (with Teffeau, Rebecca Roanhorse, Reese Hogan, and Chaz Kemp). Keep an eye on the con’s Facebook page for details.

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