Star Trek: Voyager – 2×10 – “Cold Fire”

Star Trek: Voyager
“Cold Fire”
Originally Broadcast November 13th, 1995
Reviewed by Christina Luckings

The Story

Stardate: 49164.8

In a darkened room, lit by a couple of candles and the passing stars, and scented by an incense burner, Tuvok has his hands on Kes. His finger tips are touching her face, joining their minds, as he gives her a daily tutorial in controlling her mental abilities. Today’s lesson is how to focus on just one mind out of the entire crew. She finds Neelix, who is having his hair cut, and giggles when he complains about the anonymous barber trimming his ear hairs. Tuvok ends the lesson there with a promise to teach her how to control her emotional outbursts, which she doesn’t look too pleased about. When she arrives in sickbay, the EMH points out that these lessons are regularly making her late for her medical duties. Kes assures him that she will try to keep a closer eye on the time in future. Their chat is interrupted by a rattling sound which they track down to a dry lump of matter in a container in a cupboard. The Caretaker’s remains are vibrating.

Captain Janeway, Torres and Tuvok come to examine the lump and work out what happened. The EMH tells them that he originally detected life signs but Torres pronounces it dead while Tuvok wants to put it in a containment field as a precautionary measure anyway. Then the remains begin to rattle again, giving Torres the opportunity to discover that the life signs are external and sporocystian. The Caretaker was a sporocystian, recalls Janeway, and she contacts the bridge to tell Ensign Kim to scan for such a life form nearby. He finds it about ten light years away but he can’t locate it exactly, and then it disappears.

Torres takes the lump to engineering where she and Kim put it in a cylinder to use it as a compass the next time what Janeway assumes could be the Caretaker’s missing mate reappears. On the bridge, Tuvok tells the Captain that he thinks he can create a toxin to slow down the alien. She lets him proceed while the life signs show up again. With a little fine tuning to the compass they get a fix and Voyager sets off for the source of the signal at maximum warp.

They arrive at a one-tenth size replica of the Caretaker’s array, but instead of sporocystian life forms on board the sensors detect over two thousand Ocampa living there. Tuvok’s hailing signal gets a response of weapons fire before a male appears to tell them that they are not wanted there. Kes is summoned to the bridge to be told that she is not the only Ocampa to have left the homeworld as she has always thought. She readily agrees to act as intermediary and the array is hailed so that she can try to arrange a meeting. The belligerent male is back on the viewscreen calling the sight of Kes a trick, and wanting to know an Ocampa is doing on an alien starship. She says that it is a long story and asks what he is doing on an alien space station. They agree to tell each other their stories on board Voyager.

In the briefing room, Tanis tells the senior staff exactly how Voyager is regarded in this area of space. It is a ship of death. They killed the Caretaker, declared war on the Kazon, raided planets for their resources, or so people are told. These accusations are strongly denied, and the Captain assures him that they only want to find the female Caretaker. Responding to a telepathic message from Tanis, Kes asks Janeway if she can talk to him alone. The officers leave them alone, and Kes tells him that these are kind people. Tanis expresses a wish to see a place that is special to her, so she takes him to the airponics bay. He is impressed with the flowers and vegetables growing in their tiered units. To him, life on a space ship is cold, barren and isolating. Kes does not agree, and fails to see the difference between it and life on a space station. Then Tanis casually tells her that he is fourteen years old, when as far as Kes knew, Ocampa never live beyond nine years. Living on Voyager is holding her back, he claims, just like on the homeworld where the Caretaker was only interested in maintaining the status quo. Suspiria, the Caretaker’s mate and whose race are called the Nacene, brought a group here three hundred years ago and taught them how to develop their psycho-kinetic skills. Now they have the ability to enhance life, and much more besides.

Tanis returns to the array, and Kes reports to Janeway and Tuvok in the Captain’s Ready Room. Meeting him has confirmed her belief in her people’s potential, and she doesn’t know whether to be excited or frightened. Tuvok suggests that not being emotional about it might be better, but Janeway feels a mix of the two is right. However, she urges caution, despite Kes’ good feeling about the situation.

Tanis joins the senior staff for a meal, and brings some of his own cuisine which Neelix pronounces delicious. Kes has told her boyfriend about the longer lifespan of the Ocampa on the array and he is very interested in how they have done it. It turns out to be a technological development which Suspiria helped them with. Tanis’s father lived for twenty years. Neelix wants to know if they could extend Kes’s lifespan with it too. Captain Janeway is more interested in locating Suspiria, however, and Tanis is quite coy about her. He offers to take them to the meeting place then turns his attention to Kes. He invites her to move to the array, to live with the Ocampa. Kes is flattered by his attention but reluctant to give an answer, while Neelix is very unhappy at the thought of loosing his beloved. Tanis backs off slightly and offers to help Kes with her mental abilities instead, implying that Tuvok is not a suitable teacher. He makes an appointment with her for later on.

In Engineering, Tuvok shows the Captain his anti-sporocystian gun, while the EMH is on the monitor explaining the theory behind it. Apparently there is an enzyme in the life form which can be temporarily affected by the energy in the weapon, paralysing it. Janeway gives the weapon her blessing.

In the mess hall Tanis is showing Kes how to move objects with her mind, by focusing on the goal and not the task. By thinking about taking a drink from a cup, it moves across the table to her hand. Then he shows her how to heat the drink up, by viewing the molecules of the liquid with her mind and then using the fire of her mind to make them active. The tea bubbles impressively and she pronounces the technique simple. Tanis promises to take her further tomorrow and leaves. Neelix dashes over to hug her and tell her how proud he is of her. She answers the question that has been on his mind since the meal earlier, by asking him if he would go with her if she decided to live on the array. The besotted, possessive Talaxian assures Kes that he would go anywhere with her.

“Captain’s log, supplemental. We’ve arrived at what Tanis calls the meeting place, the region of space where Suspiria exists.”

On the bridge, Tanis uses Tuvok’s station to send out a sub-space carrier wave, then tells the Captain that Suspiria should be there within forty seven hours. There is no need to let him know when she does turn up because he will be aware of it. While they are waiting, Kes gives Tuvok a demonstration of her tea-heating power, but finds that once she has started it she cannot get it to stop. The cup breaks, she begins to panic and turns her attention to Tuvok, who in turn gets the benefit of the heat her mind is generating, collapsing in agony.

In sickbay, the EMH cheerfully explains how Tuvok’s blood temperature rose thirty seven degrees and he went into shock but that he was able to heal and revive him. He prescribes three days light duty but the local representative of the ‘worst patients’ species pronounces that unnecessary. Kes is wracked with guilt over what she inadvertently did to him, but Tuvok reassures her that as she did not kill him, she should regard this as a learning experience. He sites it as proof that she needs further instruction, and comments that he would regret not being her instructor. Kes gratefully accepts his forgiveness.

Tanis is waiting for her in the airponics bay. He was aware of the incident somehow, and tells her that things are going to get harder for her now. Soon she will be well beyond the people on Voyager, so far beyond them that they will seem like mere pets to her. He demonstrates by telling her to touch one of the flowers. The rest of the crew only experience things via their senses of touch and sight, but as an Ocampa she can sense the life with her mind. Following his instructions she perceives the plants in a much more heightened way. The colours are far more vivid than before. She becomes connected to every one of them, then he tells her that they can be even more beautiful if she brings the fire. Swept along in the euphoria of what she is feeling, she does so, and absorbs the life from all the plants in the bay before collapsing on the floor. Although she is dismayed at the devastation she has caused, Tanis is not. As far as he is concerned, helping or hurting, giving life or killing is all the same once you have seen beyond the physical world as they can. It is also another reason why she has to go and live with the rest of the Ocampa on the array. He is sure that once she has met Suspiria she will decide to join them, and if she develops far enough, the Nacene will invite her to join her in Exocia, the sub-space layer where she lives as pure thought. He makes it sound like going to heaven.

In engineering, the Caretaker’s remains begin to rattle again, and Torres calls the bridge to tell them that there is a sporocystian life form very close by. Kim’s instruments are showing a sub-space rupture opening and Tanis is aware of Suspiria’s presence before Janeway calls him to the bridge. Torres doesn’t like the look of the readings she is getting and decides to investigate the rupture further but she doesn’t get the chance. Kim tells the Captain of plasmatic energy readings in Engineering, and no one answers her hails. She sends Tuvok to investigate and once he arrives with his team he announces that the female Caretaker is present. Janeway hands the bridge over to Chakotay and heads down there herself.

Meanwhile in the mess hall, Tanis is trying to get Kes to commit herself to moving to the array. He gets her to open her mind to Suspiria, and the young woman is horrified to feel her anger towards the Voyager crew. The Nacene wants to destroy the ship! Kes struggles in Tanis’ arms. All she wants to do is help her friends somehow but he is determined to restrain her.

Janeway walks into a silent, apparently empty engineering and sees a little girl sitting cradling the Caretakers remains. She tries talking to her, to persuade her that they did not kill her mate, that they are explorers just as she is, but Suspiria will not be convinced. Her voice changes from a little girl’s to that of a mature woman and she levitates Janeway up to where the rest of the crew are hanging in midair, in pain and dripping blood. On the bridge, Paris announces that Voyager is coming apart molecule by molecule. In the mess hall, Neelix tries to intervene between Tanis and Kes, and is thrown across the room by an angry glare. This attack on her boyfriend infuriates Kes, and she turns her rage on Tanis. He drops to the floor, clutching his head. Suspiria is distracted and the crew drop to the floor. Janeway grabs the toxin gun and fires it at the Nacene, briefly knocking her out while Tuvok puts a forcefield around her. The alien concludes that Janeway is about to kill her as she did her mate, so to prove her wrong, the Captain order the forcefield to be lowered. This act of mercy bemuses the Nacene, and she reverts to an energy state and leaves Voyager. Tanis senses her departure and calls out for her to take him with her. He disappears as Kes cradles the stunned Neelix in her arms. Tuvok tries to track Suspiria but the sup-space rupture seals, cutting her off from their sensors.

“Captain’s log, supplemental. We’ve resumed our course back to the alpha quadrant but the female Caretaker is still out there with the power to send us home, and I will use all my power to find her and convince her to do just that.”

It is 1500 hours and Kes is with Tuvok for another of her daily lessons in mental discipline. She is no longer able to bring the fire and make the tea heat up, and assumes that Tanis must have been doing it for her. The experience has left her never wanting to see her dark side again, the part of her that took pleasure from killing the plants. Tuvok tells her that it is the darkness that shows us the light. Negative thoughts are a part of everyone, even Vulcans. This revelation surprises Kes, and he explains that although his race have learnt to control their violent impulses, they cannot deny that they exist. He reaches across the table to her and, placing his fingers on her face, they begin that day’s lesson.

Review

The opening narration sets this episode 10 months into Voyager’s journey home and follows on from lines in Caretaker abort a curious and adventurous mate who had left sometime previously. I do so like sequels, and I am also pleased to see more of Kes onscreen, giving us a glimpse into her role on the ship. In particular her pupil/teacher relationship with Tuvok. R should that be father/daughter? He certainly seems to have a paternal attitude towards her, while she slightly resents his attempts to get her to give up fun for logic. At other times in this story, Tuvok behaves like a paranoid Vulcan, deeply mistrustful of anything strange and always ready to destroy the different. This is a far cry from the tolerant attitude of IDIC that we were introduced to in the original Star Trek, but it is probably normal behaviour for a Security Chief.

The Ocampa on Suspiria’s array are a very different lot from sweet, caring Kes. Tanis comes over as selfish and hedonistic. His attitude of superiority and disdain for ‘lower’ life forms may be a result of some kind of link that he seems to have with Suspiria, but certainly he is not a nice person. It is to Kes’s credit that she does not like this attitude either after experiencing extreme pleasure at the cost of the contents of the airponics bay. It is also with great relief that we discover that these extraordinary mental powers vanish with Tanis at the end of the episode. Having a character with the ability to affect matter at the molecular level just by thinking about it would greatly unbalance the show, and leave the writers with very little scope for future jeopardy stories. As it is, this is the second time in three shows that Kes has saved the ship with her mind (Persistence of Vision, when the feisty little thing revealed the Botha that was putting the crew into hallucinations).

In all, it’s a fair episode for the ship, and a good one for Tuvok and Kes. It links back to the start of the show and looks forward to possible future story lines as Janeway continues to try and find the Nacene and persuade her to send them home. Just a thought for the season seven finale?

Grade: 7/10

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