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[VOY] Jammer's Review: "Fury"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Warning: Spoilers follow for Voyager s Fury. Don t get mad at me if you re spoiled by this review. Nutshell: A pointless mess of a story punctuated by
    Message 1 of 1 , May 8, 2000
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      Warning: Spoilers follow for Voyager's "Fury." Don't get mad at me if you're
      spoiled by this review.


      Nutshell: A pointless mess of a story punctuated by nice-looking, pervasive,
      pointless special effects.

      Plot description: Kes returns with a hidden agenda that sends her back in
      time in an attempt to undermine Voyager in the early weeks of its Delta
      Quadrant stranding.

      -----
      Star Trek: Voyager -- "Fury"

      Airdate: 5/3/2000 (USA)
      Teleplay by Bryan Fuller & Michael Taylor
      Story by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
      Directed by John Bruno

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
      Rating out of 4: *1/2

      "It was a fire hazard." -- Tuvok on elaborate special effects
      -----

      The best shot in "Fury" is the one right before the opening titles, where an
      aged Kes walks down a Voyager corridor with a calm look on her face, as the
      walls behind her explode and crumble. It's the sort of shot that a
      storyboard artist might be excited about--comic-book cover art that gets its
      hook into you.

      Alas, the shallowest aspect of "Fury" is the titular fury. For most of the
      hour we're thirsting to know *why* Kes is going berserk, and when we finally
      get the answer, it's ... well, pretty lame. The wrath of Khan was sold on a
      deliciously believable, obsessive conflict. The wrath of Kes is arbitrary.
      The character, whom we haven't seen in two-and-a-half years, is reduced to a
      cardboard villain with dubious motivation. And for what?

      The episode delivers, I guess, on its promise to be full of apocalyptic
      action, mayhem, and special effects. But it fails as a story with characters
      we can care about. Yet again we have the characters, especially Kes, reduced
      to the mechanics of the plot, one that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
      The key questions I figured might be important for a return-of-Kes show
      would be what she had evolved into in "The Gift" and why, and what returning
      to revisit the Voyager crew might mean for her (and the crew).

      Welp, might as well just throw those questions out the nearest window,
      because they're the least of this story's worries, which instead is built
      upon paradoxical time travel, mistaken identity, deception, and a big
      showdown with the Vidiians--in other words, "action," the hallmark of
      Voyager.

      The episode's action requires that we accept Kes as a villain. I suppose
      it's slightly easier to do that when upon beaming aboard Voyager she
      immediately knocks down walls, buries security officers under tons of
      rubble, kills Torres, absorbs energy from the warp core, and then vanishes
      without a trace to travel back in time with an Evil Plan. She travels back
      to "season one," at a point when Voyager had been in the Delta Quadrant for
      eight weeks. She renders the Kes of this time frame unconscious and assumes
      her place.

      Why? Sorry--won't find that out until the big Janeway/Kes showdown in act
      four, although we get the general idea when Kes contacts a Vidiian ship that
      is tracking Voyager and agrees to help them capture and "harvest" the crew
      in exchange for safe passage to Ocampa for her younger counterpoint. (I
      always liked those Vidiians, probably the series' best original alien bad
      guys.) She explains to the Vidiians that her crew "abandoned me a long time
      ago."

      "Fury" is mostly interested in the mechanics of Kes' plan and the crew's
      investigation of the oddities that arise as a result of it (and action, of
      course). Some of the procedural aspects of the story are actually fairly
      well constructed. The plot utilizes Tuvok's telepathic abilities, giving him
      premonitions of things to come, in a way that probably makes little logical
      sense but is believable on its terms nonetheless. Janeway and Tuvok begin an
      investigation that follows the clues competently.

      But other moments aren't so skillfully handled, like when bad Kes,
      pretending to be good Kes, walks into sickbay and steals a hypospray, duping
      the Doctor by hiding it all too obviously behind her back. Doc's degree of
      lacking observation is the sort typically reserved for sitcom characters and
      played for laughs. ("Is that a hypospray behind your back or are you just
      glad to see me?" Cue canned laughter.)

      Kes undermines the crew by giving the Vidiians information that will help
      them capture Voyager, which is traveling through some sort of anomaly that
      will permit the upcoming battle to take place in front of a more
      interesting-looking background than a black starfield. When the Vidiians
      board the ship, we get lots of phasers in the corridors and big mechanical
      Vidiian clamps that attach themselves to Voyager.

      The real confrontation is of course between Janeway and Kes, where we
      finally get our explanation about why Kes is doing all this (confusion,
      loneliness), at which point my reaction was, "That's it?" The story makes
      Kes come across as an unreasonable ingrate.

      As for Kes' powers, it would seem they are controlled solely by the Plot
      Gods. At the beginning of the show she can crush walls. By the time of her
      big showdown, she knocks down Janeway, and Janeway gets back up. Repeat.
      Repeat again. Why is it Kes can't knock the phaser out of Janeway's hand?
      How do these powers work? Are all Ocampa like this in some way? Why can Kes
      absorb a warp core but not a phaser beam? How is it sometimes she can
      control computers? Why didn't she simply travel back in time and prevent
      herself from leaving her homeworld rather than messing with Voyager? The
      answer to all these questions: Her powers constitute the perfect flexible
      plot device which is limited or unlimited at the writers' will.

      And can somebody please tell me why Lieutenant Carey (Josh Clark), that guy
      who vanished in the first season, vanished in the first season and now only
      shows up in time-travel episodes that take place during or before the first
      season (this episode and "Relativity")? And no, we never saw him die; you're
      probably thinking of Ensign Hogan if you say he was eaten in "Basics II."

      There's of course a time paradox in "Fury" that beggars logical analysis, so
      I'll resist trying. Okay, I won't. Where does the circle of events start (or
      end), and if Kes never goes back in time to ruin the Voyager crew, how can
      information of her plan be remembered in order to prevent her from going
      back in time in the first place (last place, no place, etc.)? Usually
      somewhere in the dialog is a joke about the time paradox, but here it's
      ignored completely, hoping we'll do the same. I dunno. Somehow--and I'm not
      sure why--that approach seems wrong. In any case, this is one of the least
      convincing time paradoxes in a long time. It turns the story into a mess.

      This episode also furthers the series' crusade of reducing any possible
      trace of Voyager's long-term credibility to zero. There's a sequence here
      where a section of the hull on one side of Voyager is literally ripped off
      by the Vidiian clamp, and twisted metal goes spinning off into space and a
      fireball shoots out the side of the ship. Presumably, significant areas on
      several decks are destroyed. It's an elaborate CG effect, yes, but is it
      believable in the slightest? No, because it's the usual FX Sans Consequences
      [TM], destruction brushed off as a non-issue when it should mean hell to
      pay. (Ironically, these events happen during what was season one, when
      matters of supply and damage were actually taken halfway seriously; remember
      the bio-gel packs in "Learning Curve"?) Maybe I should just let it all go
      and assume the Voyager crew can fix anything--but by this point, I'm
      guessing the crew could self-destruct the ship, and then build another one
      during four or five rerun weeks.

      There's plenty of plot to nitpick, but I wouldn't bother if there was enough
      actual story underneath to keep me interested. I should probably point out
      that "Fury" possesses some technical skill. Stylistically, under John
      Bruno's direction, the episode looks good (except for the corny bouncing off
      the walls in the Janeway/Kes encounter). But if you scratch the surface,
      there's nothing underneath. I'll go back to the central problem with
      "Fury"--Kes' wrath. I simply don't buy her pulling this 180. This is the
      same Kes who gave 10,000 light-years to the crew she so much loved in "The
      Gift." Why is she now so hell-bent on vengeance? I might buy it if the story
      had bothered to supply the depth necessary for her anger, but it doesn't.
      The explanation of her loneliness isn't nearly enough; it gives the
      character the stature of any crazed random alien.

      The show tries to bribe us with visuals and chaos when what we really want
      to care about is Kes. In the end, we're saying goodbye to Kes again, after
      time paradoxes and heartfelt understanding have given her a second chance to
      reach peace with her former crew (pulling an arbitrary 180 on top of a 180,
      making it a hopelessly dubious 360). She decides she is now strong enough to
      return home. But so what? We said goodbye to her once already, nearly three
      years ago. Now we do it all over again, having learned no more about her.
      (Y'think she'll make it back to Ocampa in her remaining few years of life?
      After all, she's only got 40,000 light-years to cover in that little shuttle
      of hers. Maybe it can go warp 57. Maybe her powers can make it go warp 57.
      Maybe she could've made Voyager go warp 57 and helped gotten her
      friends-turned-enemies-turned-friends home. Or maybe she doesn't forgive
      them *that* much.)

      Another problem, which I actually found very surprising, was that Jennifer
      Lien's performance was sub-par. The scene where she (sort of barely) tears
      up her quarters is almost laughably phony. And in other scenes, Lien seems
      to be underacting when going over the top like she did in "Warlord" might
      actually have been better. (As played by Lien, a better title for this show
      might've been "Mildly Miffed, But Everyone's Gonna Die Anyway.") Lien seemed
      approximately as convinced of her character's motivation as I was.

      Ultimately, "Fury" is an expensive-looking episode that's missing the center
      it needs--an actual story about Kes. When Lien was written off the show when
      Jeri Ryan was written in, there was much speculation as to why. I never
      found out the real story, though I've seen enough traffic on the Internet to
      conclude she was probably forced out more than she wanted out. I always felt
      the writing had been what failed her character. In "Fury," when Kes accuses
      Voyager of abandoning her, one almost begins looking for the ironic
      self-allegorical subtext. But never mind--that was "Muse."

      --
      Next week: In the trailer, Jeri Ryan says "sexual activity," so that's
      probably all UPN really needs you to know.

      -----
      Copyright (c) 2000 by Jamahl Epsicokhan, all rights reserved. Unauthorized
      reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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