The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Lineage

Tom and B’Elanna are overjoyed when they learn that B’Elanna is pregnant with their first child. But when B’Elanna realises that her daughter will have Klingon physical characteristics, she is overwhelmed by traumatic memories of her own difficult childhood.

If there ever was a character on Star Trek who needed counselling, then B’Elanna Torres is that character. She struggles with low self-esteem and a deep hatred of her Klingon heritage, which manifests itself as anger and hostility. Yet, Voyager has no counsellor, and instead B’Elanna has to cope with these issues for seven years, never really gaining the help and support she needs. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Lineage, where she has to confront the reality of becoming a mother to a part-Klingon child.

As I’ve said before, I feel great sympathy for B’Elanna, and identify with many aspects of her story. I really appreciate what this episode attempts to do – as with Doctor Bashir, I Presume, there is some exploration of the morality of genetic alteration, but this time it’s presented alongside the difficulties of mixed racial heritage. Is being part-Klingon a genetic anomaly that should be ironed out? Why is the enlightened 24th century still so racist?

Klingon/human interbreeding

Although Tom says the odds of Klingon/human conception are low, we have of course had one other half-Klingon/half-human on Star Trek – K’Ehleyr. And, as we know, she and Worf were able to conceive a child after having sex just the once. Maybe Worf’s spunk is just that potent.

There are also points made about the speed of development of mixed species children, presumably as a way of explaining the rapid growth of Alexander and Naomi. The baby even kicks at a mere seven weeks – Google tells me that, for a human foetus:

You should feel your baby’s first movements, called “quickening,” between weeks 16 and 25 of your pregnancy. If this is your first pregnancy, you may not feel your baby move until closer to 25 weeks. By the second pregnancy, some women start to feel movements as early as 13 weeks.”

Voyager’s crew

According to B’Elanna, there are 140 humans aboard Voyager. Although the reported numbers of crewmembers fluctuates, it’s never quoted as above 150. Are there really single digit numbers of non-humans aboard Voyager? Even if we count Seven of Nine as human, we’re still aware of the following non-human crew members:

  1. Tuvok
  2. B’Elanna
  3. Neelix
  4. Chell
  5. Tal Celes
  6. Vorik
  7. Icheb
  8. Naomi Wildman
  9. Golwat
  10. Gerron
  11. Tabor
  12. Jurot (possibly deceased)

I’ve left out anyone who has definitely died or been reported dead over the course of the series, although of course some of the others could have died before this episode. I also haven’t bothered to scrutinise every scene to pick out background characters.

So maybe B’Elanna is right, in which case it’s a bit sad that Voyager is such a human-dominated ship. Shouldn’t Starfleet be a big melting pot of all races and species?

Other points

  • B’Elanna’s pregnancy seems to have inspired The Doctor to develop all kinds of antenatal classes and care. Did he not care enough to do all that for Samantha Wildman?
  • Couldn’t Janeway and The Doctor just point out that genetic modification for all but serious medical purposes is illegal in the Federation?
  • Previous episodes established that John Torres left when B’Elanna was around five – here she’s seen to be about eleven or twelve. Arguably she could have just been a fast-growing five-year-old half-Klingon, but B’Elanna’s timeline seems to match up with her growing up at a normal human rate.
  • Speaking of John Torres, because B’Elanna worshipped him so much, I’ve always thought of him as a nice guy. But let’s face it, he walked out on his wife and kid and never contacted them again, which is definitely cowardly. We also see him blaming young B’Elanna for being ‘oversensitive’ – as someone who used to get told off for being too sensitive as a child, I’m definitely not a fan of this kind of victim-blaming. If someone puts a worm in your sandwich, you are entitled to get angry at them.
  • Once B’Elanna’s father left, was she still in contact with his family? Did she still get to eat her grandmother’s banana pancakes?

Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 17

Destroyed Delta Flyer running total: 1

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 – Lineage: In which B’Elanna hates the idea of her daughter being part-Klingon.

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