Subtitle: a tale of two babies
Summary: Janeway and company take back their ship
This episode is fine. It completes the story, sets up the ship and series to finally move past Kazon space and Seska’s machinations, and redeems Suder. And it saves Chakotay from diaper duty by rewriting Seska’s baby’s DNA. It gets Voyager ready for new stories and that’s great. But in every way it took the easy way out and I’m left disappointed.
The Doctor says the baby is not Chakotay’s son, but Cullah’s. First to Seska and second in his log. If not for the log scene I would assume he lied to Seska for the following reasons:
- She’d just asked him if he were capable of lying and he lied to say No. It would make narrative sense for the DNA explanation to then be a lie.
- As Seska says, the baby has no Kazon features whatsoever.
- As ridiculous as Seska’s impregnating herself with Chakotay’s sperm plot is, it still seems more plausible than a Cardassian getting pregnant naturally by an alien from a whole other section of space. Seska had been surgically altered to appear Bajoran, and she was a scientist, so she knows things that would help her in her (still ridiculous) plot. Seska and Cullah just magically having a baby without any help from science while she’s actively trying to do it with human sperm through science seems more of a reach (and yes, I know that’s saying something).
But the log scene exists and the Doctor wouldn’t have gone on about his plans to overtake the ship if he thought Seska would listen in to his logs, so we have to take it at face value. And it would also make more narrative sense for Seska to assume the DNA explanation was a lie once she realizes the Doctor can and did lie to her but she doesn’t… so I should probably stop trying to make it ‘make sense’ and accept that the baby is canonically Cullah’s, not Chakotay’s. It’s stupid, but it is what it is.
I’m pretty certain the showrunners decided to make the baby Cullah’s during hiatus and for one specific reason: to end the Seska/Cullah/Kazon arc. If the baby was Chakotay’s son he, and Janeway, would want to go get him, that was established in the first part of the episode. This way, they didn’t have to go after the baby again or make any hard choices. Seska’s dead, the baby’s a Kazon, they can move on with no qualms. I think qualms would be more dramatic, more interesting, but as I say in the recap, I’m also disappointed that Seska and Suder died. This episode, like so many in this and other series, is tied up too neatly for me. But again, it is what it is. Seven gets a great redemptive arc so I can look forward to that.
I wish the baby had a name. I wish he got to grow up on Voyager alongside Naomi. I wish we got to see Chakotay as a father (it would make the entire season dedicated to his daddy issues have more merit). I wish we got to see Seska as a mother. I wish we got more time with Suder, to see his rehabilitation, to understand his demons, his desires. I wish Seska had escaped with Cullah and their son. He’s never seen again, so he gives up on Voyager – I like to imagine he dedicates himself to raising Seska’s child and finds contentment in that. I’m glad they escape into that possibility for a happy ending. I’m sad for Seska, for Suder, and for poor Hogan.