All of these things could have been been the subject of their own story, but for some reason they are all thrown together and as a result none get to breathe or are given enough time to be explored adequately. So we are given a rushed, weird episode with strange comedy beats that just don’t hit.
Of course the real focus of the episode is on Kes and Neelix trying to decide if the want to have a baby. Kes is very young and Neelix doesn’t know if he’s responsible enough to be a father and it is all supposed to be very serious but in reality it just turns into an after-school special on teen pregnancy. The message is, essentially, having a child is a big deal you should think about it before you do it. The end.
Not really ground breaking stuff.
I suppose – if you tried really hard – you could use the ship’s submissive behavior and Kes’ dominant, aggressive attitude toward Neelix and subsequent decision not to have a child as a metaphor for gender roles and the right of a woman to chose what happens to her own body. But that is only if you tried real hard and I don’t want to do that because obviously the writers didn’t.
So the episode is a mess, but that is not say there aren’t good things in it. Jennifer Lien’s performance is quite good and we really feel her urgency and fear. She’s acting her brains out. And kudos to the writers for coming up with a mating/reproductive cycle that is actually alien. It is sloppy wet and kinda gross. Rub my feet till my tongue swells indeed. I mean imagine what aliens would think of human reproduction/sex, I’m pretty sure they’d be grossed out. Also the bug eating in the cold open was very creepy and well done.
And Neelix and Tuvok having the fatherhood discussion in the mess hall was very nice. That helped to not only move the story along but helped to add a tender character moment for both. The jealous Neelix in the open was just the opposite however and that particular side of Neelix’s character needs to be jettisoned as soon as possible.
So overall not a great episode but I’ll give it points for trying to touch on subjects that are a bit controversial and different, even if it doesn’t get it right.