Subtitle: It’s tropetastic!
Summary: In a failed attempt to bond with B’Elanna, Vorik passes pon farr on to the engineer
How many tropes can you include in one episode?
First and foremost: Mate or Die (1) In terms of basic set up, we get Interspecies Romance (2), Office Romance (3), Unresolved Sexual Tension (4), and Will They or Won’t They? (5), though, these four sorta-kinda work for ALL of Voyager and/or ALL of television/fiction. BUT, this is an episode explicitly about a) sex and b) Tom and B’Elanna so I say they all count.
Now, Vorik can be made to fit: Self-Proclaimed Love Interest (6), Lust Object (7), Crazy Jealous Guy (8), and even Yandere (9). Plus thanks to the Doctor’s meddling we get Kiss Me, I’m Virtual (10) and Tuvok encouraging Tom to ‘help’ B’Elanna casts him as a Shipper with an Agenda (11).
Finally, Tom and B’Elanna definitely check off Bite of Affection (12), Locked in a Room (13), and Uncomfortable Elevator Moment (14), and potentially Official Kiss – they share their first kiss, but it’s under “special circumstances” and they don’t quite get a Relationship Upgrade (yet). So that’s somewhere between 10 and 15 which is pretty good. But it’s mainly the recurrence of the OG Mate or Die, Pon Farr.
On one hand, Tom Paris works hard to not take advantage of B’Elanna’s condition despite his professed feelings for her. Even when he agrees to ‘help’ her he is visibly uncomfortable and concerned for her well-being beyond the current crisis.
However, two things happen that make it difficult for me to give them a thumbs up on consent. First, Chakotay and Tuvok beam down and join up with Tom (and Neelix) to have a discussion about B’Elanna’s heightened sex drive without including her, or even telling her, or even attempting to tell her they know what’s happening. Second, they do it again after the cave rescue, and Tuvok basically orders Tom to have sex with B’Elanna. Yes, B’Elanna is unable to focus or understand, and yes, her life is being threatened (I mean, setting aside the bizarre conclusion that Pon Farr can be contagious or affects a half-human/half-Klingon in the same way it would a Vulcan) but to not even pretend that she is a part of the decision, forget actually try to reason with her or get her permission or TALK TO HER AT ALL is just blatant and gross and shouldn’t get a pass because “magic horny Vulcan disease”.
Why are Vulcans so Vulcan all the time?!
Look. I understand that it is taboo to talk about — actually, no, I don’t understand (this is why I’d be a terrible Vulcan). Pon Farr is a normal, natural, biological function that happens to EVERY Vulcan. There’s enough in the Starfleet database for The Doctor to recognize the symptoms so there has been an update since TOS, I guess, but he still has to seek out Tuvok for more info and Tuvok and Vorik are both tightlipped and – the Doctor is a computer program! How can they be SO EMBARRASSED they can’t talk to a COMPUTER????? I am really, very, super concerned for the Vulcans, that they can’t talk about sex logically WITH A COMPUTER without feeling shame. YIKES.
Tuvok is willing to break his silence when it’s clear Torres is infected and in trouble but like, Vorik was already infected and in trouble??? And had never been through Pon Farr, and was probably really scared as well as in pain and is that what it’s like? No pep talk, no commiseration, no acknowledgement? Because it’s IMPOLITE????
tldr; how did the Vulcans even survive this long
There is a reallllllly interesting subplot wherein The Doctor (a hologram) creates a Pretty Vulcan Lady (hologram) for Vorik to do with as he pleases and it is not explored at all and I am sad about it. I want to know what The Doctor thinks and feels about what he does (all we get is his self-satisfaction at “curing Pon Farr”), I want to investigate the parallels between how The Doctor/Vorik treat the holo-sex-doll and how Tuvok/Chakotay/Tom treat B’Elanna, I want to discuss why it does and does not work, I want MOAR of all that, especially since the rock-wall-people threat/thread is completely forgettable and has no connection to the A-plot and could very easily be replaced with something more meaty and morally questionable. I don’t know OR CARE what the rock people said at any point in this episode because they had nothing to do with anything.
That said they were well designed and I wish they were in a wholly different episode that was about camouflage or something. I get that their story had to leave out details because of the Borg reveal but it all just comes across as disjointed and frankly, boring this way?
I won’t go into great detail yet, but I like how P/T builds, and this isn’t the only episode that plays with consent issues and that is very interesting. To be discussed.
The Borg are Coming
Vorik’s introduction leading up to this episode and the Borg stinger are evidence that Voyager really is a serial, if one that likes to present bottle episodes. I am Extremely Excited to finally get to the Borg and Seven’s introduction (though I’ll miss Kes) and even to the age of Paris/Torres. I barely remembered some of the episodes in this first half of S3 but I recall S4 and S5 as my favourites. We shall see!
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