Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Darkling"

I am a bit puzzled by “Darking,” as occasionally happens when Joe Menosky pens the script. The episode appears to be little more than to give Robert Picardo the chance to chew scenery playing a villain. A villain who alternates between mustache twirling antics and pure psychotic behavior. Both are mildly amusing and Picardo clearly has fun with it, but the episode is largely the nifty premise without much else.

The doctor decides to enhance his program by adding the aspects of various brilliant historical figures to his own. Torres freaks out to hear this because he does not know what he is doing. You cannot just add powerful personalities without mixing in the bad aspects with the good. Torres is right. The additional personalities alter his true character and turn him into Evil Doc.

Evil Doc has a bit of fun torturing Torres in the sickbay by paralyzing her with medication and otherwise tormenting her in like manner. But the bulk of the episode is Evil Doc’s strange compulsion to save Kes. She has fallen in love with an alien and is considering leaving the ship to stay with him. Her new relationship sends Evil Doc over the edge. He pushes her new love off a cliff, then kidnaps her himself in order to keep her away from him. In the end, he attempts suicide with her by jumping off the same cliff before a transporter beam saves them and somehow returns the Doctor to normal.

It is rather confusing. Is Evil Doc jealous? Does he want Kes to himself? You have to figure that is the case, but nothing is obvious. In fact, there is a point at which Evil Doc is going to take her off world when one of the aliens mentions “They want her back.” I had to go back to the scene again just to make certain Evil Doc was not planning to hand Kes over to some villains I had missed along the way. Some Ocampa or something. But the alien was referring to Chakotay and Tuvok, who were on their way to rescue her. While that may sound like a dumb mistake on my part, the weak script had me wondering.

The romance between Kes and the alien is so glossed over it is as though we are not meant to care at all when he is nearly killed by Evil Doc. Indeed, it is tough to care that kes is seriously in love when she says things like she is three years old and will do whatever she wants. She sounds like some sixteen year old girl about to run off with a garage band guitarist because she swears they are soul mates. Evil doc never expresses his jealous rage over her even though he is willing to kill them both so no one else can have her. In the end, she decides to stay on Voyager while showing no lingering emotions about having been in love or nearly killed by the obsessed Evil Doc.

As usual Picardo’s acting is a saving grace, but there is not much in “Darkling” beyond it. I do not even think it is one of his better performances because he hams up the evil way too much to suit me. This is not a very good Kes episode, either. She comes across as a dumb little girl who cannot quite grasp what adult romantic relationships are all about. I am going to call ’darkling” a big waste of time and talent.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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