Star Trek: Voyager – 1×14 – “Faces”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Faces”
Originally Broadcast May 8th, 1995
Reviewed by Chakoteya

The Story

Stardate: 48784.2

In a laboratory, a figure hangs crucifix-style from a frame. Someone is going around, switching off devices, then calls to the figure to wake up – B’Elanna Torres!

‘Captain’s log, Stardate 48784.2. We have completed our survey of the Avery system and are returning to retrieve Lieutenants Paris, Torres and Durst. By now, they should have concluded their inspection of the magnesite formations on the third planet.’

In the messhall, Neelix is serving Tuvok a bowl of plomeek soup, as a taste of home. He is enjoying creating the favourite dishes of various crewmembers, including corn salad for Chakotay and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Tom Paris. Tuvok takes a spoonful to try, then reaches for the water glass. Neelix has spiced up the original ‘bland’ traditional recipe and it is not to the Vulcan’s taste at all. Chakotay calls the senior officers to the bridge and Tuvok leaves Neelix to drink the soup himself, which he does with the comment ‘there’s no place like home.’

Captain Janeway enters the bridge to hear that the away team is not at the beam out site, and that the tunnels they scanned two days earlier have now changed pattern. Why this should have happened is a mystery, as they can find no indication of tectonic activity. Chakotay volunteers to go down and find their missing crew, who may simply have lost their way with the changes but Tuvok is concerned that he could get lost as well. Harry suggests modifying subspace transponders and leaving them at intervals along the way, to act like breadcrumbs to retrace his steps and also as a relay in case of emergency beam-out. Janeway agrees, and Chakotay, Tuvok and Kim set off.

A very Klingon woman is lying on a table wrists secured by metal straps. A Vidiian comes to her and introduces himself as Sulan, chief surgeon of the Vidiian Sodality. She demands to know what he has done to her and he proudly explains that he has created a 100 percent Klingon B’Elanna Torres from her own DNA in order to assist in their quest for a cure to the phage. B’Elanna is furious and tries to break free. She is having to speak slowly and carefully with a mouth full of large, sharp Klingon teeth and is horrified at the sight of herself in a mirror with full brow ridges. Sulan informs her that in order to know if a pure Klingon is resistant to the phage, he has infected her.

A group of people are herded into a dormitory by Vidiians with guns, including Tom and Durst. They go to bunk beds to rest, and Tom reminds Durst that they need to find B’Elanna before they try to break out. In the meantime, they should observe the guards, their numbers, shift times and breaks. The person in the top bunk laughs. It is a Talaxian, who has been there for six years. The last survivor of a crew of twenty-three, he points out that the Vidiians weapons can pull the heart out of you in a heartbeat. To stay alive, you need to stay strong enough to work. If their friend isn’t here, then she’s been taken to organ processing.

In the dark, dank tunnels, Kim is laying his trail of subspace breadcrumbs while Chakotay scans for the missing away team. Tuvok detects the traces of five life forms and picks up a tricorder. It seems the away team did not come this way alone.

Back in the lab, B’Elanna is determined to suffer the agonising early symptoms of the phage in silence. Solan’s initial results show that her fully Klingon DNA is fighting the infection. Once he has devised a way of integrating it with the Vidiian DNA and thus eliminated the phage, he assures her that she will be honoured by his people for helping them find the cure. B’Elanna tells him that Klingons find honour in battle, not as guinea pigs, but he doesn’t listen. He calls her handsome, and an impressive species. The Doctor is falling for his patient.

Another person is hustled into the dormitory. She wakes Tom who stares in disbelief at a totally human B’Elanna. She is trembling, frightened, and in need of a protector. After the Vidiians had been stunned them all, she tells him, she had woken in a laboratory where she was told they had extracted all her Klingon DNA. She confesses to Tom that as a child she used to hide her brow ridges, to try and fit in with the other colonists where she was growing up. Her father had left her and her mother when she was five and she had eventually decided that he had gone because she looked Klingon. It looks like she has finally got what she wanted, comments Tom.

In the tunnels the trio are still searching, and Tuvok is puzzled. They are standing at a granite wall that should not be there according to the geological scans. The Vulcan concludes that this is a force field, as used by the Vidiians. They inform the ship, and Janeway orders Ayala, who is covering for Harry on Ops, to scan for any nearby vessels, then tells the away team to use their phasers on the force field. It worked last time, it should work again. But it doesn’t, and Harry spots two Vidiians sneaking up on them just in time to get an emergency beam out.

Sulan asks the Klingon B’Elanna how she is feeling, and she tries to persuade him to release the restraints with promises of a demonstration of her voracious sexual appetites. He is clearly tempted, and touches her face briefly before backing away and informing her that before the phage, the Vidiians were also handsome and vigourous. With her help, they will be again, and then he will not disgust her so much.

Two guards come into the dormitory and approach the three Federation prisoners. The fully human B’Elanna is still weak and hopes that she will be allowed to stay and rest. Then she might be able to get a look at the computer console at the end of the room. Or maybe they ‘ll just take her to organ processing, Tom points out. The guards come over to them and say that they are going to take Durst to see the Prefect, to discuss his request to talk to his ship. Paris intervenes, protesting that as senior officer he’s the one their superiors should be talking to. One guard points his weapon at Tom and Torres cowers in a corner, terrified. Durst goes with them and Tom goes to comfort the shaking B’Elanna.

Janeway is discussing the latest development with her away team back on the bridge. The sensors still haven’t located any ships, but they could be hiding them with their forcefield technology. Kim has been scanning the planet too, using the data their tricorders gathered. The forcefield covers an area six hundred kilometres around, and they can’t see through it. Well, declares Janeway, if the Vidiians can get in and out of there, so can they. Just find out how, she orders Tuvok and Kim.

Back in Solon’s laboratory, the Vidiian has what he thought might be a pleasant surprise for the Klingon B’Elanna. He has had Durst’s face grafted onto himself in an attempt to look more pleasant to her. The rest of Durst’s organs will save over a dozen lives, he tells her. Furious at this callous use of a life, she breaks out of her restraints and is throttling Solon when guards approach and she has to escape.

In Voyager’s briefing room Tuvok and Kim report their findings to the Captain and First Officer. They have detected that every time the forcefield remodulates, microfissures form in it for a few seconds. They cannot get close enough to widen one with a phaser in the available time, and it would alert the Vidiians that they were there anyway, but they could narrow a transporter beam enough to transport one person inside. Timing would be crucial, and they would have no communication or verification that transport was complete, but someone inside could deactivate the forcefield so that everyone could be beamed back to the ship. Chakotay has an idea on how to prevent that someone from being caught by the Vidiians.

The EMH uses a dermal stimulator to make the Commander look like a Vidiian. Kes is impressed but the EMH does not regard it as a challenging procedure. Tuvok comes in with his best attempts at Vidiian clothing and they are ready to go.

In the mines, human B’Elanna is exhausted. The Talaxian gives her a water bottle while she sits and rests and talks to Tom. She is coming to the conclusion that losing her Klingon DNA has also taken away her courage. Tom tries to reassure her that fear is not a bad thing, when a guard finds them and takes her back to the barracks.

The Talaxian prisoner is grabbed from behind by the Klingon B’Elanna and asked about Tom Paris. He tells her that he was sent to another tunnel, and the other human was taken back to the barracks. This interests the Klingon.

While human B’Elanna is resting on her bunk, the guard called away, and she takes her chance to look at console. She begins tapping at the controls and is beginning to get a feel for the layout and logic when she is grabbed by two guards and dragged away. She tries to struggle against them but to no avail. Suddenly another figure bursts in and knocks both guards unconcious. The two B’Elannas gaze at each other for a moment then the human one faints. Her Klingon self lifts her onto her shoulder and carries her out of the barracks to the tunnels. When human B’Elanna finally comes too, the Klingon is cooking meat at a fire. She offers the human a piece telling her that she will need strength to fight her way out. The human argues with her other self. That temper and aggression got her kicked out of the Academy and into trouble too many times, by acting without thinking first. Then she reveals that before she was rescued, she had got into the computer system. With a few minutes work she could deactivate the force field. The Klingon half is not stupid and understands that no force field means a rescue by Voyager. She also knows that returning to the barracks would be foolish, and instead suggests Sulan’s laboratory as the last place the Vidiians would be looking for them.

Paris returns from his work shift to discover that Torres is missing from the dormitory. The Talaxian suggests that she’s been taken to organ processing and Tom is very upset when a Vidiian puts his hand on his shoulder. He rounds on him, telling him to keep his hands off, and is astonished to hear Chakotay’s voice. A guard notices the conversation and demands to know what he is doing. Chakotay tells him that he has orders to take Tom to organ processing and bluffs that he does not recognise him because his face has only just been grafted. The Vidiian looks at him carefully, then believes him.

The two B’Elannas are in Sulan’s laboratory, one working at the computer console and one pacing around, restless, alert for danger. As the human one works, she triggers an alarm. A guard comes in but he is killed by the Klingon using a captured Vidiian weapon. She is also hurt, but ignores it. Then Sulan comes in, also holding a weapon. The Klingon is confident that he will not kill her, but instead he threatens the human. Fortunately Chakotay and Paris make their appearance at just that moment, distracting the surgeon long enough for the human B’Elanna to get at the forcefield controls and deactivate it. On Voyager, Tuvok detects this and Janeway hails Chakotay. Whilst he replies, Sulan takes his chance to shoot Chakotay, but the Klingon spots his move and throws herself in the path of the weapon. The four beam up as Sulan screams his disbelief and rage.

Janeway and Tuvok enter transporter room to see two B’Elannas on the pad, the dying Klingon held in the arms of the human. The Klingon tells her other half that she showed courage, which makes her death honourable.

In Sickbay, the EMH describes the procedure by which he will return B’Elanna’s Klingon DNA to her. She isn’t pleased to hear this until he explains that without it she cannot synthesis the proteins she needs to survive. Chakotay gets her to explain how she is feeling. B’Elanna admits that without her Klingon side she is incomplete. Even though she is at peace with herself at the moment, there is a lot about that part of herself that she has come to admire. ‘Her strength, her bravery. I guess I just have to accept the fact that I’ll spend the rest of my life fighting with her.’

Analysis

Some may try to compare this story with the Original Series ‘Enemy Within’, but although there are some similarities, this one works on its own as an exploration of B’Elanna Torres’ drives and motivations. We learn a great deal about the woman from this episode, which also has those amoral Vidiians and their search for a cure for the phage as the driving force for the narrative. These are easily a better and more dangerous enemy than the Kazon, because they are striving for their very survival, not just being belligerant. The two B’Elannas are very well portrayed, and the heroic death of the Klingon one is completely apt.

The relationship between Paris and Torres seems to be something more than fellow ship-mates. There appears to be a very good friendship building up here. Klingon B’Elanna giving her life to save Chakotay also reminded me that these two were close friends in the Maquis as well as on board Voyager.

Thoroughly recommended viewing.

Grade: 8/10

One Response to Star Trek: Voyager – 1×14 – “Faces”

  1. Dante Hopkins says:

    It never occured to me to compare this to “The Enemy Within” but the only similarity between the two episodes is that each half learned the needed the other to survive. Beyind that this was a very well executed story on its own, exploring the depths of B’Elanna’s personality in a very compelling way. This episode stands out to me as one of Voyager’s best, a rare gem in its first season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *