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10[VOY] Jammer's Review: "The Disease"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Mar 2, 1999
      Warning: This review contains significant spoilers for the episode "The
      Disease." If you haven't seen the show yet, beware.

      Nutshell: It's at least worth news coverage...

      Plot description: Unable to resist his strong feelings for an alien woman,
      Ensign Kim breaks Starfleet protocol and engages in a torrid affair that
      lands him in hot water with the captain.

      Star Trek: Voyager -- "The Disease"

      Airdate: 2/24/1999 (USA)
      Teleplay by Michael Taylor
      Story by Kenneth Biller
      Directed by David Livingston

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
      Rating out of 4: *

      "I would've never guessed that when it came down to the basics ... Well,
      let's just say the birds and bees would be very confused." -- Harry Kim on
      sex with alien woman Tal, details of which we're thankful not to have

      DELTA QUADRANT, Milky Way Galaxy -- A respected ensign on the only known
      Federation starship in the galaxy's Delta Quadrant has been formally
      reprimanded by his captain for fraternizing and engaging in sexual activity
      with an alien woman, according to reports from The Associated Galactic Press.

      Ensign Harry Kim, bridge officer on the USS Voyager, had a formal reprimand
      placed on his permanent record resulting from his unauthorized sexual
      affair with Tal [Musetta Vander], an engineer on an alien Delta Quadrant
      vessel that the Voyager had been in contact with last week.

      Kim failed to attend a press conference held in the Voyager briefing room
      Saturday. He also did not return hails made to his ship's quarters on
      Thursday and Friday.

      "I didn't like having to do it," said Capt. Kathryn Janeway, commander of
      the USS Voyager, in regards to the reprimand. "But he left me no choice.
      Sex is not a trivial matter on my ship. Especially considering the scandal
      in America's White House back at the end of the 20th century -- I have no
      wish to have the independent counsel walking through my corridors or
      subpoenaing my officers. I have a ship to run and a crew to get home."

      It was unknown at press time whether Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr
      would risk the dangers of time travel to prosecute Kim or anyone else on
      board the USS Voyager.

      "He's always falling for the wrong woman," said Ensign Tom Paris, Kim's
      best friend who frequently provides him with advice concerning women.
      "Harry's a good guy, but I feel sorry for him. Every time he has the
      opportunity for female companionship, he somehow gets shafted. It's almost
      as if he's the victim in some unfair plot being written by writers who like
      to torture him."

      As a fellow ensign, Paris occasionally looks out for his friend.

      "I disguised an unauthorized comm [communication] signal to cover for him,"
      he said. "I just hope the captain doesn't find out. She might put me in
      jail again, and another demotion would make Harry my senior officer. Is
      this off the record?"

      Opinion concerning the captain's decision varied among the Voyager officers.

      "I was surprised by the action," said Voyager first officer Cmdr. Chakotay
      of Janeway's decision to reprimand Kim. "According to something I scribbled
      down in a written log last year, I had also had an affair with an alien
      woman. Unfortunately, I don't recall having that affair, or sex for that
      matter, and the captain apparently didn't take disciplinary action. I
      really don't remember, which is too bad because my notes say she was

      Voyager chief of security Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok agreed with the captain's decision.

      "Mr. Kim's behavior was completely illogical," Tuvok said. "Ensign Kim was
      unable to control his emotions and detoured a shuttle mission to satisfy
      his own personal desires. I noticed several thousand electrons were out of
      place and discovered he had finished his assigned task ahead of schedule
      but had not returned to the ship. Subsequently, we learned he had disobeyed
      orders and beamed Tal aboard his shuttle."

      Tuvok had denied allegations Feb. 3 that he had an unauthorized affair with
      an alien woman named Noss while stranded on a failed shuttle mission.

      "Your course of reasoning is flawed," he said when again asked about the
      alleged encounter. "The entire incident was recorded, and I assure you no
      regulations were broken."

      Bloomington, Ill., resident Jamahl Epsicokhan is one of many who views the
      fully edited and assembled "caught on tape" documentary segments of the
      Voyager crew through a temporal anomaly that transmits the images nearly
      400 years back in time and approximately 35,000 light-years to Earth
      (Sector 001 in the Alpha Quadrant), where he receives the images on his
      20th-century television set.

      In an interview via temporal-displacement phone on Saturday, he laughed
      when asked to comment on the Voyager scandal. "That episode was indeed very
      funny," said Epsicokhan, who views the documentary broadcasts every week.
      "I don't remember laughing *at* a show as much as I laughed at 'The
      Disease.' This show was as dumb as a box of rocks."

      Strangely, Epsicokhan, along with millions of viewers on Earth in the 20th
      century, believes the aired Voyager news segments are actually a series of
      fictional stories produced at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Calif.

      "I've watched Harry go through a lot in the last few years, and yet he
      never seems to change," said Epsicokhan. "The whole theme of 'The Disease'
      was that Harry 'is a man,' and not a kid. But I think I've seen that idea
      in an episode at least three times now, and it never seems to stick. His
      character pretends to develop but never really does. After five years in
      the Delta Quadrant, we still have the captain treating him like he's 20
      years old. Did you know that Garrett Wang in real life is 30?"

      When reporters tried to inform Epsicokhan that Kim is actually a real
      person living 400 years in the future, whose documentary stories are
      transmitted through a temporal anomaly, he dismissed the possibility and
      accused reporters of "yanking his chain."

      But Epsicokhan finally granted the possibility. "Fine then," he said. "Then
      someone needs to tell them to cover a new beat, or at least a different
      aspect of Harry's life. If I have to sit through one more 'Harry's not a
      kid' segment, punctuated by a sabotage plot that can't possibly be cared
      about in the slightest, I'll write a letter to the editor. By the way,
      aren't you putting the entire timeline in jeopardy just by talking to me?"

      Seven of Nine, Voyager bridge and science officer adjunct, likened love to
      that of a disease.

      "Ensign Kim was acting erratically and emotionally because of romantic
      feelings," said Nine. "The Borg view love as a disease because of the way
      it adversely affects the body's biochemistry. In Mr. Kim's case, he felt
      emotionally distraught when apart from Tal. Also, the alien nature of the
      bond caused his epidermis to luminesce."

      When asked why she thought Kim did not simply resist his feelings and
      adhere to protocol, Nine paused for a moment and then said, "Resistance is

      Nine refused to grant reporters the unique perspective of the youngest
      member of the crew.

      "Naomi Wildman will not comment. She is too young. Her mother has forbidden
      discussion of the matter," said Nine. When reporters informed Nine they
      would attempt to contact Naomi Wildman anyway, Nine said simply, "You will

      Reporters, however, could not locate Naomi's mother, Samantha Wildman,
      anywhere on the ship. Sources say Wildman has not been seen since a salvage
      mission of the Delta Flyer on Nov. 11, leading to speculation by some
      members of the crew that Nine has "taken care of" Wildman and adopted her
      daughter. An investigation is pending.

      Voyager cook and morale officer Neelix could not comment on the Ensign Kim
      scandal, saying he did not know enough of the incident's specifics. He did,
      however, offer reporters a hot bowl of soup with assorted "veggies."

      Epsicokhan called the romance angle of the documentary "a travesty" and
      said it was the perfect example of how not to do romance on Trek. "This
      show 'The Disease' is the antithesis of DS9's 'Chimera' -- an evil twin,"
      he said. "There's not a believable emotion to be found anywhere in the
      relationship. It claims to be about love, but it's simply about
      uninteresting lust, with stretches of Harry histrionics."

      Epsicokhan criticized Tal as "completely bland," and said that all the
      guest actors' performances were "exceedingly weak." He also called the
      dialogue "embarrassingly trite," and said that if he weren't laughing so
      hard during several of the broadcast's attempted sentimental moments, the
      degree of the broadcast's cliched triteness concerning romance would have
      caused him to "bury [his] head in [his] hands and cry."

      However, "This is not a laughing matter," said Voyager chief medical
      officer Dr. "Doc" Doctor, a hologram who stressed he was "shocked and
      chagrined" at both Kim's actions and Epsicokhan's casual dismissal of the

      "The risk factors of having intimate relations with an alien without
      medical clearance is a very serious matter," Doctor said. "Anything that
      can cause someone's skin to emit light cannot be a good thing. Mr. Kim's
      irresponsibility of getting caught 'in the heat of the moment' is not an
      excuse. He could have introduced a destructive disease into their
      population or vice versa."

      Epsicokhan was skeptical of Doctor's "grandstanding," as he put it. "Yeah,
      that's all we need -- a ridiculously obvious 24th-century safe-sex
      allegory," he said. "I'll pass."

      When confronted about a sexual affair he had with a Vidiian woman three
      years ago this week, Doctor said, "Well, that was different. We were both
      holograms, so there was no risk of infection. Frankly, I'm still amazed we
      were able to pull off such a feat. The reprogramming of my matrix was an
      ... interesting experience, if I may say so."

      Public opinion of the ensign is supportive. While most disagree with what
      he did, he still maintains a very high degree of popularity among the
      American people.

      "I disapprove of what the ensign did, but he's still very high in the
      polls," said 20th-century Washington, D.C., Future Events Analyst Joel
      Flanagan. "It's only sex! It's not like he betrayed the ship or put the
      crew in danger! Frankly, I don't think it's a high crime or a misdemeanor!
      Personally, I think we need to turn our attention to the Microsoft and
      Disney corporations, which maintain joint ownership of Earth in 2031."

      Strangely, no one on board the Voyager could remember the Starfleet
      protocols on alien romance as being so strict or explicit.

      "I think they just made them up for the sake of this episode," said
      Epsicokhan. "There's never been one bit of evidence of their existence in
      the past. But then again, we see so little sex on Star Trek that maybe the
      case is that no one has ever really had 'confirmed' sex until this week."

      Federation records, however, indicate that the protocols were put on the
      books mostly in response to the frequent romantic encounters of the
      legendary Capt. James T. Kirk a century ago. And although the application
      of the protocol is granted to the commanding officer's discretion --
      thereby not specifically affecting Kirk at the time -- Starfleet felt it
      was prudent to have rules that applied to officers.

      How these rules apply to Starfleet officers of different species is
      uncertain, though most speculate that medical clearance among Klingons and
      humans is approved. Lt. B'Elanna Torres, Voyager's chief engineer, has been
      in a relationship with Ensign Paris for the past 18 months. Sources are
      uncertain, however, if the relationship has been consummated, and neither
      Paris nor Torres would talk to reporters about the matter.

      "All of you get out of here or I'm calling security," said Torres when
      reporters tried to conduct an interview on the Voyager engineering deck.
      "We're trying to run a level-three spectral analysis on the gravimetric
      intensity in the warp coil isolation reflux chamber, and with all of you in
      here, you're affecting the upper-baryon results of the isometric relay
      variable outtake inhibitor module."

      According to Janeway, the harsh-seeming disciplining of Kim did not arise
      out of an abhorrence of sex, nor from her unresolved feelings of a sketchy
      incident with her first officer three years ago while isolated with him on
      an uninhabited world.

      Rather, it's simply a matter of maternal instincts.

      "I'm very protective of Harry," she said. "He's very much like a son, and
      Seven is like a daughter. You could say I'm a maternal figure for both of
      them. Maybe I'm overprotective and over-nurturing at times, but that's just
      the way I am when it comes to my crew."

      Epsicokhan said he respected Janeway's intentions, but did not necessarily
      agree with the extremes to which she sometimes carries these sentiments for
      the cameras.

      "I can understand Janeway's anger at Harry losing some of that perfect
      Starfleet officer status, and I understand her maternal attitudes," he
      said. "But we might as well rename this episode 'Favorite Son, Part II'
      while we're at it."

      Next week: The crew faces a "deadly" epidemic--even though it was this
      week's episode that was called "The Disease." Go figure.

      Copyright (c) 1999 by Jamahl Epsicokhan, all rights reserved. Unauthorized
      reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

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      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...