Star Trek: Voyager missed a chance to finally promote Harry Kim.
Depending on who you ask in the US Navy, a person is an ensign for anywhere from two to four years, or depending on their execution and abilities they are promoted sooner, or later. Harry Kim was an ensign for at least seven years with the USS Voyager.
Lost in the Delta Quadrant, and having to watch the Maquis get ranks and jobs higher than his own, Kim was left an ensign for the duration of the ship’s travels. While Kim did violate the Prime Directive by engaging in a carnal affair with an alien race, Kim was largely a good officer.
Even when he was getting sucked out into space to his death, only to be replaced by a “mirror” version of himself. Kim has largely been a good crew member. Yet, he was never promoted, and fans have always wondered why?
Well, the prevailing idea was that there were only so many jobs, so many spots and so many promotions to be had while the Voyager was lost in the Delta Quadrant, so of course, promoting Kim was not a priority or a realistic idea, until it was.
Enter the fifth season episode of Voyager, “Thirty Days”. In it, then Lieutenant Tom Paris attempts to destroy an oxygen mining operation in what amounts to an act of terrorism. He was sentenced to the brig for 30 days and demoted to ensign.
At that moment, an opportunity was ignored to not only promote Kim but to add some interesting tension to the dynamic.
Harry Kim should’ve replaced Tom Paris as Lieutenant
Paris would be promoted back to lieutenant, this time junior grade a year later in the season six finale, “Unimatrix Zero”. However, I have a better idea and it would have seen Kim get promoted to lieutenant instead of Paris, pitting the two best friends against each other for a little while due to the jealousy and tension that the promotion may bring.
Paris and Kim were never really at one another’s throats and this idea wouldn’t see the two become mortal enemies, but it would have given Kim a chance to not only voice his support for his own promotion but justify it to the audiences.
He survived an attack from Species 8472 for crying out loud. He’s more than earned a promotion and taking Paris’ spot on the roster sheet, so to speak, would be a great way to do it, while creating some interesting drama to flesh out.