Friday, February 8, 2013

Belief And Babies Are The Subject Of Klingon “Prophecy.”

The Good: Moments of character development, Decent effects
The Bad: No real outstanding performances, Banal plot
The Basics: Star Trek: Voyager once again belabors a Klingon connection by introducing a “Prophecy” for Torres and Paris’s unborn daughter.

When the Star Trek: Voyager episode ”Prophecy” begins, it is easy to feel that the viewer is in for something preposterous. The fact that a Klingon ship has appeared in the Delta Quadrant is not at all unsurprising, however, the moment it is revealed to be an antique D-7 Class Cruiser, viewers might well feel their stomach tightening. After all, haven’t we seen this before? Sure we have, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Emissary” (reviewed here!). The element of ridiculousness, though comes in the idea that Klingon ships could hold together, under cloak, without their suspended animation units failing for the hundred years it would need to reach this point in the Delta Quadrant. It does stretch at the bounds of suspension of disbelief. Fortunately, this particular D-7 does not invest in the use of suspended animation devices; this is a multi-generational Klingon ship.

But the more important elements that prey upon the mind of the loyal fans of Star Trek: Voyager has to be how the character arc of B’Elanna Torres is severely sped up to try to make this episode seem plausible. After all, only a few episodes ago, in “Lineage” (reviewed here!), Torres was so distraught over having a quarter-Klingon child that she tried to have the Doctor perform horribly unethical genetic manipulation on the fetus. How she comes through “Prophecy” with any feeling of sanity or Klingon pride is virtually impossible to believe.

Voyager is soaring through space when it is attacked by a decloaking D-7 Klingon warship. Easily crippling the ship, Janeway gets the Klingon captain, Kohlar, to talk and when he beams over, he is astonished to meet B’Elanna Torres and pleased to discover that she is pregnant. Returning to his ship, Kohlar initiates the self-destruct, necessitating a rescue from Voyager’s crew. Kohlar reveals that he destroyed his ship and had his people beamed to Voyager because of his belief that the fetus Torres is carrying is a Klingon child of destiny and the subject of the journey his great grandfather began almost a hundred years prior.

Torres is reluctant to accept this interpretation and troubled when many of the visiting Klingons stage a hunger strike to get her to visit them. When Neelix moves in with Tuvok and Harry Kim finds himself the subject of a Klingon woman’s desires, the situation on Voyager becomes more tense and confused. As Kohlar works to keep his crew in line, a debate rages among his followers as to whether or not the “mongrel” child Torres is carrying can be the chosen one. In the process, Torres begins to have a spiritual awakening.

Unfortunately, when Tom is challenged by one of the Klingons to a fight to the death, “Prophecy” begins to feel a bit like “Looking For Par’Mach In All The Wrong Places” (reviewed here!), without knowing it is supposed to be a comedy. Indeed, writers Mike Sussman and Phyllis Strong seem to have a wonderful sense of irony, especially in the critical themes of “Prophecy.” Strong and Sussman create a character who seems to be a man of faith, but is clearly willing to use his faith as a tool. The moment he proposes to Torres that she find ways to make her personal narrative conform to the established prophecy, Kohlar seems like a desperate fanatic or a religious leader very tired of leading his flock. It’s an interesting twist, but hardly one that makes “Prophecy” seem incredible.

Moreover, Kohlar’s second, Morak, challenges Torres and Paris in a way that is inconsistent with how Worf – who has the most time spent delivering exposition on Klingon culture – characterizes Klingons. Morak is stubbornly sexist and that is a trait Worf insists Klingons are not (though several episodes do imply the opposite).

While the medical aspect of “Prophecy” is a surprise, most of the episode is painfully predictable, especially the treachery of the Klingons. More than that, there is nothing surprising on the acting front. There are fun moments of Neelix getting down with a Klingon woman, but this is actually an obvious extension of Neelix’s role in “The Killing Game, Part 2” (reviewed here!). In fact, Philips performs the role virtually identical to his performance in that episode, robbing the moments of comic relief he is supposed to provide in the episode of its necessary surprise.

What is truly underwhelming is B’Elanna Torres’s arc in “Prophecy.” She has a very stunted religious awakening in “Prophecy” and it is not enough to sell the viewer on any lasting change in the character. In fact, coming on the heels of her own doubts about having a partially-Klingon child, it is somewhat surprising that the events of “Prophecy” do not push her to identify less with her Klingon culture. After all, if Kohlar is essentially a cult leader, his desire to use Torres’s baby to guide his people seems like it would stunt the progress Torres has made in identifying with her Klingon culture.

As it is, “Prophecy” is one of the less memorable episodes of the final season of Star Trek: Voyager and it is a lot of set-up for no real pay-off.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the final season here!


For other Star Trek episode and movie reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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  1. Hi !

    I don't like Klingon episodes usually even though I liked the character of B'Elanna.

    But we had too much Klingon episodes in Next Gen, so I can't stand them anymore. That's why I was so glad Voyager spent most of its time in space in the Delta Quadrant, no reason to find them there and yet...

    1. Yeah, I was not wild about the direction they took Torres and when they started bringing Klingon culture episodes to Voyager it seemed like more of a ratings ploy to me!

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment!