When B’Elanna is knocked unconscious during an ion storm, she has a vision of being aboard the Barge of the Dead – the ferry to Klingon hell. And when she sees her mother on the Barge just before she wakes up, B’Elanna becomes determined to go back and save her mother from dishonour.
Most of the time, B’Elanna cares little for her Klingon heritage – in fact, it’s a big part of why she hates herself so much. But with DS9 over, Voyager was the only outlet for Klingon stories at this point, and that means that we get Barge of the Dead.
I do like the aesthetics of this episode – having not seen any properly Klingon episodes in several months, it’s nice to have a good hit of nostalgia for one of Star Trek’s core races. But other than that, I just don’t get on with Barge of the Dead. When even B’Elanna herself admits that she doesn’t really know why what she’s doing is suddenly important to her, it’s hard to get on board with any kind of characterisation of development. Essentially, she’s authorised to endanger her life just so that her subconscious can assure her that she’s not a terrible person.
As I’ve said before, I’ve struggled with accepting my Arabic heritage, and for years I hated it and wanted nothing to do with it. I understand B’Elanna, which is why I want her to have a proper arc of accepting who she is and where she came from. That doesn’t mean I want her to go full-on Klingon, just that I don’t want her to always hate herself.
Points of Note
- This episode mentions Fek’lhr, guardian of Gre’thor, previously seen in Devil’s Due.
- The writers are really giving Seven and The Doctor every possible opportunity to sing.
- B’Elanna is told she was on a dream of Voyager after she died but before she entered the proper afterlife. The same thing happened to Janeway in Persistence of Vision.
Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 16
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 10
Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 3
Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 5
Summary – Barge of the Dead: The existence of this episode makes much more sense once you learn that it was originally a story idea for Worf on DS9.