By Thomas Lee
"Prodigal Daughter" indeed.
Jeffrey has certainly chosen an apt title for a story about the return of Kes. Quite a few changes have come about since Kes has left Voyager (at least in Jeffrey’s timeline), and it’s good to see her reaction to them. The Kes & Janeway interaction was bittersweet, especially given the high regard that Kes had held Janeway in. (It was Janeway, after all, who had stranded Voyager in the Delta Quadrant by ordering the destruction of the Caretaker’s array in order to protect the Ocampa.) Perhaps it was just as well that Kes had not been around to personally see Janeway’s fall from grace.
It was unfortunate that Kes’s return wasn’t as permanent as the story title might have implied, but the ending that her second departure made possible was moving. It also righted a major deficiency of how TPTB handled Kes’s first departure—the lack of a memorial service with all of the Senior Staff and/or a concrete reminder of someone who had been part of the Senior Staff for three years.
There is an amusing irony in Kes being granted the use of Seven’s quarters during her stay on Voyager, since Seven’s Borg away team had set up shop in Cargo Bay 2, displacing Kes’s Hydroponics Garden, and then Seven replaced Kes in the Voyager cast.
"How did you realize you were on a false Voyager?" Tuvok asked.
"Little things," Kes said. "People acted strangely, various parts of the ship were different, or the computer behaved erratically."
Hmmm…. that sounds a lot like the way Voyager has been portrayed in the "Bragaverse," as Mike puts it. <g> That said, however, my best guess is that the Voyager Kes belongs to is indeed the "Bragaverse." After all, it is the "main timeline" from which all Voyager fan fiction has come from. (No doubt it was one of the first timelines Kes had investigated and dismissed as a delusion. <g>)
As for when Kes finds "her Voyager," I suspect that Jeffrey’s timeline diverged from the Bragaverse with the conception of Danielle Marcus, granddaughter of James T. Kirk, in the 23rd century. Thus, in the "Bragaverse," Voyager‘s being stuck in the DQ is due to crappy luck and incompetence instead of skillful sabotage and the will of a Q. :-/
Nonetheless, Kes’s journey across timelines has interesting possibilities. Perhaps in her travels, Kes might come across certain timelines this list would be particularly interested in. Namely, the timelines of "I Only Have Eyes For You," "One Giant Leap," "Web of Pain," among others. <g>
Regarding the K/7 wedding—Seven’s humanity has definitely progressed. She said, "I do," instead of "I will comply." <g> Her request that Janeway be permitted to view her wedding from her cell fits with her meeting with Janeway in "Getting Home" to inform her of her pregnancy and engagement.
In my remarks about Lesa’s "One Giant Leap," I referred to Jim Wright’s remarks about Marla Gilmore being the "Anti-Seven." That Marla was Seven’s maid of honor speaks volumes about the extent to which the rift between the Voyager/Challenger/Maquis crew and the Equinox crew has healed.
Harry’s choice of a honeymoon on the planet instead of the Holodeck nicely symbolized how his dreams of a life with Seven has moved from fantasy to reality. (At least in Jeffrey’s timeline. <g>)
That Janeway is still in the brig—and is kept there during the story—is good example of Jeffrey avoiding the use of the reset button (good to see that the slipstream drive is still working too). At the same time, it makes sense that Chakotay would visit her daily. The depth of his loyalty to and caring for her isn’t something that can be forgotten in a few weeks, especially with the guilt he has over presiding over her court-martial and taking her place in the command structure.
Janeway’s fear of a black mark on her record, and Kes’s remarks on it, brought to mind the adage regarding political scandal—"The cover-up always causes more trouble than the act itself." I doubt the Maquis would be sympathetic—by joining the Voyager crew after "Caretaker," they had dedicated themselves to bringing about their own imprisonment. Given that the sabotage continued after Janeway had learned of the Federation’s war for survival against the Dominion, and even after Voyager‘s brief visit to Earth (courtesy of Amanda-Q) I doubt the Admiralty will be particularly forgiving either.
The irony of Janeway’s downfall is also addressed in this story. It was Lt. Commander Dyson of the Challenger who first pointed out (in Seven’s presence) "…that anyone can do the most horrific things if they’re convinced they’re doing them for the right reasons. Even Vulcans." Given how much effort Janeway has lavished on Seven’s development, not to mention the life of happiness that Seven is beginning with Harry (which Janeway herself had nudged Seven into as we saw in "Challenger"), Seven’s role has got to be even more bitter for Janeway.
Unfortunately for Janeway, the stopping of Species 8472 and the rescue of Seven and the crews of the Challenger and the Equinox are at best mitigating outcomes—Janeway couldn’t have known about their presence in the Delta Quadrant when she ordered the sabotage of the transwarp drive. It’s certainly cold comfort for the families of Hogan, Kaplan, and the other crewmembers who have died since.
At the start of "Getting Home," at least one of the "Equinox‘s senior staff" was in the Voyager Brig, and I got the sense that (s)he had been locked up there ever since the destruction of the Equinox. Assuming that that wasn’t either Marla or Noah (neither of whom were jailed at the end of "Equinox Part 2"), then that means Captain Ransom and/or Lt. Burke had survived to be captured in Year 6-1/2. If Ransom is indeed in Voyager‘s brig, I wonder if the new pastime for brig guards is to listen to Janeway and Ransom exchange taunts and insults? <g> Ransom would certainly find the regulation-quoting Janeway’s fate to be poetic justice…
A few people were notably absent in this story. For the first time in Jeffrey’s Voyager stories, there wasn’t any mention of any of the Challenger crewmembers, except in passing by Kes.
The Doctor’s role in this story was practically nonexistent. At first, I was a little disappointed, given how important Kes had been to him, but then I remembered how the Doc, like everyone else on Voyager (except maybe Neelix) had seemed to have forgotten about Kes in the Bragaverse.
Neelix remembering Kes in Season 6… Ah yes, "The Voyager Conspiracy." This RiFer regards that ep as TPTB’s timid, poorly written (and even less palatable) attempt at what "Getting Home" did.
The presence of three Delta Flyers (two of them an improved design) in Voyager‘s shuttlebays nicely picks up a minor plot point of Jeffrey’s Year 5-1/2 story "Liaisons." Along with the ten shuttlecraft from the Challenger and its own standard shuttles, Voyager is pretty well stocked with auxiliary craft. I guess nothing teaches the need to stock up like hard experience and shuttle crashes. <g>
About the K/7 in Jeffrey’s stories—I’ve noticed that with every story in his saga, we’ve witnessed a steady, significant advancement in Seven’s humanity and her relationship with Harry, with no regression. This compares starkly to the "two steps forward, one-and-three-quarters steps back" development of Seven we’ve seen in Seasons 4-6.
Which makes Jeffrey’s next installment of "Season 6-1/2" something to look forward to.
It’s too bad we can’t say the same thing about the "Bragaverse."
Memorable Quotes from "Prodigal Daughter":
- "Anyway, Kes, even if you did conjure me out of your imagination and I’m not the real Neelix, I think I am and it makes me real enough."
- "Maybe this is the real Voyager."
"That makes me feel better. I don’t want to have to deal with multiple Voyagers again."
—Kes and Harry