How Kes was a wasted opportunity on Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager. Copyright Hero Collector, a division of Eaglemoss.
Star Trek: Voyager. Copyright Hero Collector, a division of Eaglemoss. /

Kes could have been a lot more interesting on Voyager

When Star Trek: Voyager began, it introduced a new alien species known as the Ocampa. Ocampans have a short life span of only nine years so when Kes, portrayed by Jennifer Lien, who was already two years old, joined Voyager, she had seven years left, years which could have been explored aboard the ship in amazingly creative ways. Unfortunately, the producers weren’t quite sure what to do with her, with Brannon Braga calling it “a failure of imagination on the writers’ part” when she was relegated to essentially a background role because they were running out of things to do with her.

Here was this telepathic alien with a short life span, and no one could figure out what to do with her. Yet, the episode “Warlord” was one of Kes’ greatest and opened up a door of possibilities. Tuvok told her that she wasn’t the same person after she’d been possessed by a 200-year-old warlord, and that the course of her life would change. But we didn’t get to see that.

How Kes could have been an asset on Voyager

And this episode came a season too late as it could have set up a different Kes, one who still had remnants of Tieran inside her mind. So occasionally, the villain could have returned. Or she could have been more assertive and have even driven her own destiny by taking a more active role aboard the ship. With her telepathic abilities, she could have been an asset on away missions.

And her powers could have expanded gradually to the point where she could have been one of the guiding forces behind getting the ship home. Instead, those powers were thrust upon her all of a sudden when the producers decided they wanted an additional character, and Kes had to go.

The producers created this amazing new species, one who knew her lifetime was short. And instead of giving her opportunities, they squandered her role in the airponics bay, in the infirmary, and in a relationship with Neelix that should have never existed. We could have had a character vital to the ship and the crew’s mission to get home. Instead, because the writers and producers didn’t know what to do with the character they had created, Kes became a tool used to create an occasional burst of imagined drama, such as with the Neelix, Tom Paris, and Kes triangle. Kes (and Jennifer Lien) deserved better.

Next. Star Trek: Voyager: Why “Fury” didn’t quite work. dark