The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Ashes to Ashes

Three years ago, Ensign Lyndsay Ballard died on a Voyager away mission. But now, an alien woman has arrived on board, claiming that she is Lyndsay Ballard, reanimated and transformed by an alien race. Meanwhile, Seven of Nine finds taking care of the Borg children to be far more challenging than she had anticipated.

Whilst I enjoy this episode in many ways, it’s also one that makes me feel a bit uneasy. After a spate of episodes that were either underwhelming or filled with tropes culled from earlier Star Trek series, it’s nice to have something a bit original. It’s also a breath of fresh air to have both a good Harry Kim story, and an A-story which doesn’t revolve around Seven of Nine. Lyndsay is a bright and lively character, and her interactions with the regular cast are what makes this episode so enjoyable.

Unfortunately, this just isn’t enough to ease my discomfort about how the episode pans out. Lyndsay was clearly unhappy in her new life amongst the Kobali, to the extent that she deceived her new family for two years just to get the chance to escape. And yet, ultimately she goes back to them, because she now feels too different to the Voyager crew to live amongst them. These are meant to be accepting, enlightened 24th century humanoids, and yet they can’t accept Lyndsay enough for her to feel at home on her old ship. By the end of the episode, it feels like she goes back because of the overwhelming power of the status quo, rather than because she expects to be happy amongst the Kobali.

The B-story, which features Seven trying to deal with the unpredictable nature of children, definitely has some entertaining moments – chief amongst them the pronouncement that “fun will now commence”. But even this side story has the same flavour of forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. It’s convenient to put the Borg children with Seven because they are all former drones, but it’s unclear to me why she has to be their sole guardian – can’t all of the crew take responsibility to look after them? They may have formed a bond with Seven, but she shouldn’t have to be their sole carer.

Kobali observations

  • The Kobali procreate by re-animating the corpses of dead humanoids, and using a pathogen to transform their DNA. Presumably they can’t have always reproduced in this way – for one thing, they wouldn’t have had the technology to do so. I imagine that once they procreated in a more ‘normal’ sexual fashion, but were perhaps forced to become more creative after suffering from widespread sterility or declining birth rates.
  • It’s unclear as to whether the Kobali could reanimate a corpse without changing their DNA – that would be some amazing technology that would surely interest many other races. It seems more plausible that the reanimation and genetic alteration go hand in hand.
  • If a newly created Kobali has memories of their previous life – which seems to be rare – it seems very wrong to force them to stay. I guess it’s the only way to maintain the cohesiveness of Kobali society, but it also feels a bit like they are essentially kidnapping and brainwashing individuals. You could of course argue that, had the Kobali not intervened, those individuals would just be decaying corpses, but it still robs them of their autonomy.

Other points

  • How can the Doctor not transform Lyndsay back into a human when he was able to restore Paris and Janeway after they became lizard creatures in Threshold?
  • When Tom lists Harry’s tendency to fall for the wrong girl, he neglects to mention the events of The Disease.
  • How can Mezoti even answer a comm signal? Voyager really needs access controls.
  • If Lyndsay died three years ago, how has she managed to catch up to Voyager? Since that time, Voyager has taken a number of shortcuts home.
  • Also, Lyndsay was apparently killed by a Hirogen hunting party. Three years ago, Voyager had yet to even meet the Hirogen.
  • How is Janeway able to burn even replicated food?
  • Lyndsay says she lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the Academy. Last year I visited the naval academy in Annapolis, where I learnt that, in addition to the provided meals, cadets get the means to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. That way, anyone who doesn’t like the main offering can make themselves a sandwich.
  • Apparently, Harry used to request baryon sweeps of his quarters. As we know, the Enterprise-D underwent a baryon sweep in Starship Mine.

Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 17

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 – Ashes to Ashes: In which a dead officer gets a second lease of life.

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