It was 19 years ago today that Kes, played by Jennifer Lien, made her final appearance on Voyager, for which I was eternally thankful.
When you look back at the Star Trek franchise, it is fairly rare when a character fails to connect with the audience. Every character created for each of the various series has their fans, and it’s uncommon when the fanbase as a whole decides they don’t like someone.
Perhaps the most famous example of this is the case of Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Fans hated him from almost the moment he appeared in “Encounter at Farpoint” and it didn’t stop until… well it hasn’t really ever stopped.
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Another example is Kes from Star Trek: Voyager. Played by Jennifer Lien, the Ocampan native of the Delta Quadrant never seemed to connect with viewers. And when she was removed from the series after the third season to make room for Seven of Nine, no one in Trek Nation seemed all that upset.
Which made it all the more surprising that the producers would bring Kes back during Season 6. Maybe it was guilt for firing her from the show? They needed a guest star and Lien came up in the rolodex?
In any event, the result was “Fury” a completely forgettable episode that saw an older Kes return to extract revenge on the Voyager crew for allowing her to go off and explore the galaxy alone in the Season 4 episode “The Gift.”
“Fury” involves time travel, duplicates, Kes showing off her psionic abilities and all the things you would normally love to see in a Star Trek episode. But being this is an episode about Kes, it all falls about as flat as you would imagine.
Yes, that’s right. Kes is the Meg of the Star Trek Universe.
Am I being a bit hard on Kes and this episode in particular? Probably. But that’s only because I always thought Kes represented a huge part of why those first few seasons of Voyager were barely watchable. In a word, Kes was boring and she made the show boring.
Really, really boring. So boring that I would gladly watch every Wesley Crusher episode of Next Generation if it meant I never had to watch another Kes-centric episode of Voyager ever again.
Now, I will say that Jennifer Lien seemed to do the best she could with the material she was given. Her performance, while not what I would call exciting, was passable by any measure. But if you gave most fans a choice between adding Seven of Nine to Voyager or keeping Kes around, well, I think we all know how that would turn out.
“Fury” marked the end of the road for Kes on Star Trek and if for no other reason, it deserves a celebratory toast for that.