Star Trek: Voyager’s Harry Kim has often been the target of jokes.
One of the main jokes about Ensign Harry Kim is his lack of promotion during the seven years Star Trek: Voyager was on the air, especially since Lt. Tom Paris was demoted and promoted again within that same time frame. But, for some reason, Captain Janeway (and the powers-that-be) chose not to move Kim from Ensign. Even Garrett Wang, the actor who portrayed Kim, has embraced his “forever ensign” status with good-natured humor.
Though he remained an ensign for his time aboard Voyager, he also was a valuable part of the crew and Tom Paris’ closest friend. He had a few tough spots aboard the ship and went through some changes, but I don’t think, like a recent Whatculture article claims, that he is just “too unlikeable.” Written by Jonan Martinez, the post goes on to say that it’s a “flat out lie” that Kim has grown in his time aboard the ship.
Harry Kim had undeniable character growth along with some standout episodes.
I disagree with the writer’s assessment of Kim’s character growth and think the ensign proved himself to be quite capable aboard the ship as well as a true friend. Several episodes show how much he went from being a rookie to a seasoned officer.
Kim really came alive in “The Chute,” an episode in which both he and Paris were held captive in an alien prison. Even Wang has stated he feels like that episode was Kim’s best. Watching the ensign struggle to hold onto his humanity is gripping and intense, and this Trekkie thinks it, indeed, is one of Kim’s best episodes.
Another one really good episode that allows Kim to stand out is “Emanations,” where he is trapped in an alien world withthe Vhnori. The aliens have death rituals that are important to them, and those rituals are used for the depressed, the sick, and anyone who might be a burden to family. Kim uses his time there to convince one Vhnori, who was choosing to die to free his family from the burden of taking care of him, to choose life instead. Yes, he ignored the Prime Directive, but he saw the Vhnori didn’t want to die so he offered him hope and another option. It was a truly moving episode that offered Garrett Wang yet another opportunity to shine.
There are plenty of other episodes that highlighted Kim’s growth and necessity to the crew, (who could forget “Timeless”?), and though I understand it’s a matter of opinion, I consider Garrett Wang to be an exceptional actor and the character he portrayed as both necessary and irreplaceable.