And after a double episode (Future’s End) where almost the whole recurring cast had the opportunity to shine, here’s an episode centered on my favorite character, Kes. And once again it’s the classic Star Trek idea to let a cast member have some fun interpreting someone different, for a change. The idea was first used in The Enemy Within, the fifth episode of the first season of The Original Series and another example is DS9’s The Passenger which has pretty much the same plot as this VOY episode. In Warlord, Jennifer Lien plays an evil version of Kes, and it’s not a Mirror Universe story!
The USS Voyager tries to rescue a small spaceship which is about to explode and bring on board its three occupants. Unfortunately, one dies shortly afterwards in front of the helpless Doctor. Kes and the two survivors Adin and Nori (Anthony Crivello and Galyn Görg, respectively) come out with superficial wounds. Janeway decides to take them to their home planet, Ilari, so as not to leave the rescue operation unfinished. After some rather unfunny scenes in the holodeck, we witness an outburst from Kes who leaves Neelix speechless. And then… Kes kills an emissary from the planet’s government and a crew member (Ensign Martin, never seen before, played by David Christian who doesn’t even figure in the credits of the episode) and runs away with the two survivors of the initial explosion. What’s happening?
It’s easy to say: Kes has been possessed by Tieran, a bloodthirsty warlord of the planet Ilari who ruled the planet two hundred years earlier and who wants to do it again. We the audience have the opportunity to see a talented Jennifer Lien interpret a very evil version of Kes who kills enemies in cold blood and who issues orders with strong consequences in terms of the number of victims on the planet Ilari. Meanwhile, on Voyager, Janeway goes to great lengths to reverse the possession process and free Kes from Tieran’s spirit.
It’s useless to continue further with the plot, since it’s predictable to understand how it ends. This episode has some very positive things and others that don’t work at all and that surprised me for how little attention has been paid to details… as you may have guessed, the thing I liked the most is Lien’s performance which is absolutely convincing as a bloodthirsty warlady. Tuvok, another of my favorite characters, has another important part and as always Tim Russ did a great job. And there are some good scenes (borderline horror) with copious blood flowing from the multiple nostrils of the aliens of the week.
But… the plot doesn’t really work. For example, upon arriving at the planet Ilari when Janeway reports that she has saved two inhabitants of the planet from a spacecraft with problems, how is it possible that the authorities don’t check who their compatriots are? They would’ve immediately understood what was going on, they’re well known rebels! They even used their real names! Then why dedicate various scenes to Tieran’s partner and her confusion at seeing him in a woman’s body if it leads nowhere? I was expecting something from this character at the announcement of Tieran’s marriage to Autarch’s youngest son, but nothing, it seems that the writers have simply forgotten about her.
Just as they forgot about Neelix! Not that her relationship with Kes had ever been well characterized, but here there’s a scene in which (possessed) Kes breaks with him (maybe to spend more time with her Ilari companions) and nothing else! The episode’s closing scene is between Kes and Tuvok!
And then the scenes in the holodeck… why? Centuries of progress and we are still dreaming of being with smiling, silent and poorly dressed young girls (a bit like McCoy in the episode Shore Leave or Riker on Risa in the first season of The Next Generation). Well, aside from these details, the episode is fun, it’s not particularly profound, it’s not innovative at all (now that I think about it, even The Next Generation’s fifth season Power Play has the same plot), but I add it to the list of good 45 minutes’ adventures! Ciao!
PS: The Delta Flyers podcast shout out: Robert Duncan McNeill is very critical of Warlord, and he’s right! Especially when he says that the superpowers of the villains in the episode are not explained, they change from scene to scene, and the result is that the story cannot be convincing because the screenwriters can cheat the audience as much as they want!
Episodio precedente: Future’s End
Episodio successivo: The Q and the Grey