"STAR TREK VOYAGER: 'The Art of Adaptability'"
Over two years ago, I had posted an article called "STAR TREK VOYAGER" - Unfit For Command? on this blog. In it, I had expressed my displeasure over the portrayal of Security/Tactical Officer Tuvok in the ”STAR TREK VOYAGER” Season Two episode, (2.25) "Resolutions". After viewing the episode for the umpteenth time, yesterday, I decided to focus upon another member of the Voyager crew, Ensign Harry Kim.
In the article about Tuvok, I had pointed out that screenwriter Lisa Klink had managed to regress and completely misinterpret the Vulcan’s character in order to have him clash with the crew over contacting the murderous Vidiians in order to find a crew for Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay, who found themselves left behind on a planet, infected with a disease. Klink portrayed Tuvok as a cold and uncompassionate individual, incapable of understanding the crew’s feelings over the missing Janeway and Chakotay. I had argued that this went against earlier portrayals of Tuvok, who has shown a capacity for compassion, instinct and open-mindedness in earlier episodes. Worse, Klink’s screenplay ended up endorsing Harry Kim’s behavior in the episode.
What was wrong about Kim’s behavior in ”Resolutions”? For me, it was one of the most blatant displays of immaturity, temper and insubordination I have ever seen in a fictional character that happened to be a military officer. In fact, watching Kim’s attempt to coerce Tuvok into contact the Vidiians or start a mutiny against the Vulcan disgusted me, along with Klink’s willingness to endorse such a behavior. More importantly, it made me understand why Captain Janeway never promoted Harry Kim, during the U.S.S. Voyager’s journey through the Delta Quadrant. I could be making a mountain out of a molehill. After all, only two members of the crew ever received a promotion – Tuvok in (4.05) “Revulsion” and Tom Paris in (6.26) “Unimatrix Zero, Part I”. In Paris’ case, he merely received his old rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade back, after being demoted back in Season Five. Ironically, when Paris had received his old rank, Kim tried to convey a hint to Janeway that he would also like a promotion. The good captain wisely ignored him . . . as she should.
If I must be honest, I never got the impression that Harry Kim was very good at adapting to unusual situations – unless his life or the lives of others he cared about were on the line. His plotting against the Hirogen in (4.19) “The Killing Game, Part II” is an example of this. But I never felt that he had truly learned to adapt to Voyager’s unusual situation in the Delta Quadrant. I believe that Harry was the type of person who was very comfortable with the status quo. With him stuck aboard Voyager in the Delta Quadrant, Janeway began to represent the status quo for him. If he had been serving aboard a Starfleet vessel in the Alpha Quadrant, I could see him rapidly climbing the command ladder. The Alpha Quadrant was familiar ground where he and his fellow officers could depend upon support from another starship and where he could visit his family as often as possible. Being stuck in the Delta Quadrant aboard the only Starfleet vessel around was another matter for Kim. There was no way for him to communicate with his family, until the development of the Pathfinder project in Seasons Six and Seven. More importantly, Kim never really learned to adjust being so far from home. He was not the only crew member who had missed being away from family and friends for so many years. But he was the only crew member who constantly expressed a desire to be home or reacted in an excited or reckless manner when the opportunity to return home appeared.
One of the many constants about Harry Kim’s personality was that he had a tendency to adhere to Starfleet policies or behavior aboard ship. Frankly, he possessed a conservative personality. He have never rocked the boat, unless his emotions drove him to that point. And in the case of his interactions with Tuvok in ”Resolutions”, his inability to leave Janeway behind and adapt to a new ship’s commander eventually drove him to the point of insurrection. Quite simply, he missed the Captain and wanted his pseudo mommy back. And instead of giving Tuvok a chance to grow into command as the new captain, he wanted to risk allowing the Vidiians to board Voyager and harvest the crew’s organs Vidiians by contacting the latter. Mind you, the other members of the crew were just as guilty. But they seemed unwilling to do or say anything, until Kim openly confronted Tuvok about contacting the Vidiians and later, plot behind his back. Frankly, it was sickening to watch. What I found even more sickening was Klink’s decision to endorse Kim’s viewpoint when she allowed Kes to convince Tuvok to contact the Vidiians.
In ”Resolutions”, Tuvok had made it clear that he would remain silent about Kim’s insubordination to him. In other words, Kim got away with his immature bullshit, because the episode’s screenwriter wanted to portray the Vulcan in a slightly villainous light. But a part of me would like to think that either Janeway, Chakotay or both found out about Kim’s insubordination. That would easily explain why Janeway had ignored the young ensign’s hint about a promotion in ”Unimatrix Zero” . . . or why he had never received a promotion during Voyager’s seven year journey through the Delta Quadrant. I could dream . . . right?