Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Lineage”

“Lineage”
Written by James Kahn
Directed by Peter Lauritson
Season 7, Episode 12
Production episode 258
Original air date: January 24, 2001
Stardate: 54452.6

Captain’s log. Torres is in an uncharacteristically good mood as she reports for duty in engineering, actually being nice to her staff and all chirpy and stuff—until she finds Icheb there, working with Seven. She gets extremely upset about that, and then collapses. Icheb examines her to discover that she’s pregnant.

The EMH assures Torres (and Paris) that the baby is fine. The fainting spell was due to the “clash” between the fetus’ Klingon and human genes. They ask the EMH to keep the pregnancy secret for now, but Icheb went ahead and told many many people, and the pair of them are showered with congratulations. While Paris appreciates the thoughts, Torres is getting frustrated by all the advice. Then the EMH informs them that the fetus has a deviated spine. Paris is shocked, but Torres isn’t: she had the same thing when she was an infant, as did her mother. It’s common among Klingon mothers. They give the EMH permission to perform genetic modifications on the fetus to get rid of it.

After the EMH accidentally reveals the child’s gender, Paris and Torres ask to see a holographic representation of their daughter as an infant. Torres is surprised to see that she’ll have forehead ridges, even though she’ll only be a quarter Klingon.

Star Trek: Voyager "Lineage"

Screenshot: CBS

This prompts flashbacks to a camping trip Torres took with her father, uncle, and cousins when she was a girl. Torres refused to go on a hike with her cousins, thinking they didn’t like her. Later, as if to prove that point, one cousin later puts a live worm in her sandwich, joking that he thought Klingons liked live food.

Once the genetic treatment is done, Torres goes to the holodeck and does a bunch of simulations of genetic alterations that would remove her daughter’s forehead ridges. Once she finds the right sequence, she goes to the doctor—who absolutely refuses to do it. She insists that he look at her research; he insists that she get her husband’s consent. They both agree.

Paris absolutely refuses. He cottons pretty quickly to the fact that Torres doesn’t want their daughter to be treated poorly due to her Klingon heritage the way she was. Paris points out that that wouldn’t happen on Voyager—the ship has Bajorans, Vulcans, Bolians, Talaxians, etc., not to mention (literally, Paris doesn’t mention this) the fact that the other kid born on board was half human and half alien. Torres retorts that the ship is mostly human, and she did not have good experiences with human kids.

They take their argument to Janeway, who declines to get in the middle of a marital dispute, nor will she order the EMH to do as Torres says. Said marital dispute continues to the point where Torres kicks Paris out of their quarters, and he has to sleep on Kim’s couch.

Torres has more flashbacks to the camping trip. She ran away after the worm sandwich incident, not returning until later, worrying her father John sick. Later, Torres overhears John and his brother Carl talking about fishing and family. John mentions that their parents didn’t want him to marry Miral because he couldn’t handle living with a Klingon, much less living with two. Torres’ moodiness is worrying him.

In the present, Chakotay contrives to get Paris and Torres to talk to each other and they reconcile just in time to be summoned to sickbay. The EMH has reviewed the data, and it turns out that the genetic modifications are necessary. Paris is skeptical, so he takes a look at the data—which he can’t make heads nor tails of. (Gee, what happened to all that medical training that’s allegedly enough for him to be able to take over sickbay when the EMH is gone???) So he brings it to Icheb—who immediately pokes holes in the report, saying it was done by someone who doesn’t understand genetics. Since the EMH shouldn’t make mistakes, Seven checks his program—and it turns out to have been tampered with.

Star Trek: Voyager "Lineage"

Screenshot: CBS

Paris contacts his wife, who doesn’t answer her combadge, but who is in sickbay. Paris calls for a security alert, and Tuvok has to force the door to sickbay open, only to find Torres being operated on by the EMH. Kim shuts power to sickbay and Tuvok asks the EMH to deactivate himself until they can determine how much his program has been altered.

Torres admits to doing this for reasons that become clear when we finish the flashback: she argued with her father and said that if he can’t stand living with two Klingons, he should just leave. Twelve days later, he left.

Paris assures her that he will never leave her and that he doesn’t want to live with two Klingons, he wants to live with three or four Klingons. He wants to have a big family with her.

Torres undoes the damage she did to the EMH, apologizes to him, and asks him to be the baby’s godfather. He happily accepts. She then is shocked to feel the baby kick…

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway gets dragged into the middle of a marital spat by Paris and Torres. She then drags herself right back out again, not wanting any piece of that and not willing to insert herself into a private medical decision. We’ll just pretend “Tuvix” and “Nothing Human” never happened…

Star Trek: Voyager "Lineage"

Screenshot: CBS

Mr. Vulcan. Paris goes to Tuvok for advice, as the only father he knows. (Which is not actually true, as both Carey and Ayala, at the very least, are fathers, plus I can’t imagine that there aren’t any other fathers on board this ship with a three-figure complement.) Tuvok’s advice is quite sage.

Half and half. Having met Torres’ mother in “Barge of the Dead,” we meet her father in this one. We knew already that her father walked out on them, but now we have an idea as to why in this episode’s flashbacks.

Forever an ensign. Okay, Voyager has had a net loss of about twenty to thirty crewmembers. There’s gotta be some empty crew quarters. Heck, Paris and Torres now live together, which means one of them gave up their cabin at some point recently. For that matter, they probably have guest quarters. So why does Paris have to sleep on Kim’s couch, exactly, beyond slavish devotion to the cliché that henpecked husbands sleep on their best friend’s couch when their wives kick them out for being assholes?

Star Trek: Voyager "Lineage"

Screenshot: CBS

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. In a very refreshing change over the course of the series, Tuvok asks the EMH to deactivate himself. This was also true back in “Flesh and Blood,” when Janeway asked to the EMH to do the same because the Hirogen was having a nutty. I like that they give him the freedom rather than just randomly turning him off without his consent.

Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix offers to be the child’s godfather, as he’s already Naomi’s godfather, and therefore knows how to do it. He also offers a Talaxian aphorism by way of congratulating them on the pregnancy: “Good news has no clothes.” Okay, then.

Resistance is futile. Seven is the one who has to tell Icheb that the fetus Torres is carrying isn’t a parasite.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Paris and Torres are apparently having sex without protection…

What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. Torres tests her genetic manipulation on the holodeck, which is a good use of the place…

Do it.

“I’m detecting another lifesign.”

“Where?”

“Inside Lieutenant Torres. It could be a parasite!”

–Icheb failing his saving roll versus pregnancy detection while talking to Seven after Torres collapsed.

Star Trek: Voyager "Lineage"

Screenshot: CBS

Welcome aboard. Juan Garcia makes the first of two appearances as John; he’ll return in the role in “Author, Author.” Jessica Gaona plays young Torres, while the other members of their family on the camping trip are played by Javier Grajeda, Paul Robert Langdon, Nicole Sarah Fellows, and Gilbert R. Leal.

Plus Manu Intiraymi is back as Icheb.

Trivial matters: While DS9’s “Dr. Bashir, I Presume?” made it clear that the Federation has banned genetic engineering, there was there established an exception for birth defects, which the deviated spine qualifies for. Having said that, the subject of that ban never actually comes up…

Torres’ pregnancy will progress throughout the season, with her daughter being born in the series finale, “Endgame.”

Star Trek: Voyager "Lineage"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “If you can’t stand living with us, then why don’t you leave?” As insight into the character of B’Elanna Torres, this is a very good episode. But as a Voyager story, it falls down on two different levels.

First of all, in this episode written and directed by men in a season in which the show-runner is a man, it’s a really bad look that the entire episode is about men telling a woman what she can’t do with her own body during a pregnancy. This is especially hilarious on a show with a female lead as the captain—said captain is notably absent for most of the episode, showing up briefly to congratulate the happy couple and again to decline the invitation to get involved. What a waste.

Second of all, Torres does a truly horrible thing here, and no one seems to think it’s that big a deal. She alters the EMH’s program, which is the equivalent of giving him a lobotomy. There are no consequences for this rather horrid action she takes. And yes, it’s something you can chalk up to the changeable moods of a pregnant woman who was already moody before the pregnancy hormones got churned up, but come on.

We’ve got two different aspects of the cliché of the hysterical woman who has to be saved by the rational men around her, and I’ve just got no patience for it.

The flashbacks are, at least, enlightening. We’ve only gotten bits and pieces of Torres’ childhood, and this fleshes that out nicely. On the one hand, it’s a pretty typical story involving children who’ve been raised by parents who separate, with the kid blaming themselves for the parents splitting up when it’s always more complicated than that. The added bonus of Klingon-human tension makes it that much more interesting. I especially like how Juan Garcia plays him, as the deadbeat Dad who abandons his family could easily be a clichéd ass (I’m looking at you, Kyle Riker), but he’s permitted to be more complex than that.

Warp factor rating: 5

Keith R.A. DeCandido is one of the many guests at Dragon Con 2021 in Atlanta this coming weekend. He’s doing a mess of panels, autographings, readings, and workshops. His incredibly busy schedule can be found here.

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