Elogium

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"Elogium"
Star Trek: Voyager episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 4
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Teleplay by Kenneth Biller
Jeri Taylor
Story by Jimmy Diggs
Steve J. Kay
Produced by Brannon Braga[1]
Merri Howard[1]
Peter Lauritson[1]
Featured music Dennis McCarthy[1]
Cinematography by Marvin V. Rush, A.S.C.[1]
Editing by Tom Benko, A.C.E.[1]
Production code 118[2]
Original air date September 18, 1995 (1995-09-18)
Running time 45:49[1]
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"Projections"
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"Non Sequitur"
List of Star Trek: Voyager episodes

"Elogium" is the 20th episode (4th in the second season) of the American science fiction television program Star Trek: Voyager. The episode originally aired on September 18, 1995,[3] and tells the story of the Voyager encountering a swarm of space-borne lifeforms who induce a premature mating cycle in Kes (Jennifer Lien).

The episode was written by freelancers Jimmy Diggs and Steve J. Kay[1] based on an encounter Diggs experienced in the Navy. It was rewritten by Jeri Taylor and Kenneth Biller in the latter's first work for the series—work that would earn him a permanent spot on the Voyager writing staff. Director Winrich Kolbe was satisfied with the end product, but disappointed he couldn't do more. Extensive CGI was used in shots with both the Voyager and the alien swarm. Lien's performance was lauded by critics, though they were divided on the episode as a whole.

Plot[edit]

On stardate 48921.3,[2] when the USS Voyager encounters a cloud of space-dwelling lifeforms, Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) takes the ship in for a closer look. The ship is soon drawn in and engulfed by the swarm of creatures, whose proximity disables the helm controls and shields. The crew endeavor to escape without harming the creatures, but when they begin attaching themselves to the Voyager's hull they wreak even more havoc on the ship’s systems. A version of the creatures as large as the Voyager arrives, and the crew realize that they have been mistaken for a male of the species; the smaller creatures are attempting to mate with the ship. When the male attacks, the Voyager adopts a position of submission, based on behavior the crew observed in the smaller members of the species. Losing interest, the smaller creatures detach from the Voyager and allow it to leave.

In response to Voyager's exposure to the swarm of aliens, Kes (Jennifer Lien) begins eating abnormally, including insects and soil. In sickbay, she has a fever, a dangerously elevated pulse and blood pressure, and a tumorous growth on her back. She resists The Doctor’s treatment and locks herself in his office, finally relenting only to explain to Captain Janeway that she’s undergoing the elogium: the Ocampa mating cycle. This process only happens once and usually affects Ocampa between four and five years old—but Kes is not even two years old yet. Neelix (Ethan Phillips) and Kes agonize over whether to have children and the ramifications of becoming parents. After discussing children and family with Lieutenant Tuvok (Tim Russ), Neelix decides he’s ready to be a father, while Kes has instead decided against it. Ultimately, because The Doctor believes the elogium was artificially induced by the creatures’ proximity to the ship, it may come upon her again later in her life when she is ready.

Throughout the episode, a concern over shipboard fraternization arises. After Captain Janeway and Chakotay (Robert Beltran) discuss whether the ship is an appropriate place to raise children, Ensign Samantha Wildman (Nancy Hower) announces that she is pregnant by her husband, who is still in the Alpha Quadrant.

Writing[edit]

"The Alamak" and "The Running" were temporary titles during the development of the episode, before settling on the final title: "Elogium".[4] The episode was originally written for the show's first season, but was held over by UPN to give the second season a jump-start on other networks' programming.[5] Executive producer and co-creator Jeri Taylor described "Elogium" as a fitting end to the first season "because it leaves us with the revelation that someone aboard the U.S.S. Voyager is pregnant!"[6] Though the production of the episode required extensive computer graphics, "Elogium"'s production required little other extra production features like extra cast or sets, making it a bottle episode.[7]

Jimmy Diggs wrote the A-story of "Elogium" based on an experience he had while serving in the United States Navy.[8] One starless night when he was tasked with cleaning the ship as it came into port, giant spotlights were employed to assist the sailors. As the ship traveled, Diggs witnessed the gradual accumulation of thousands of sea creatures following the ship. That "special, unique memory" was the basis for his first script sold to Star Trek. Diggs met with Jeri Taylor and Brannon Braga to pitch his story. He later said that the story was sold on the strength of a single line of dialogue: when the crew finally figures out how to shed the alien creatures, Tuvok's line of "Captain, I believe that we've lost our sex appeal." made Braga laugh and "say the magic word, 'Sold.'" It was Jeri Taylor who wove in Kes' need to mate as the B-story.[8]

Diggs later wrote to Jeri Taylor, requesting a character be named after Samantha Wildman, a young girl whose kidney donation saved his wife's life.[9] Taylor wrote in the character of Samantha Wildman, who recurred as the department head of xenobiology because her namesake had been a fervent animal lover.[9] Diggs described his motivation for lobbying for the name: "'I couldn't imagine the selflessness of people who, in the middle of their grief over the loss of their child, could think about someone else, could save someone else's life.' Jimmy says that in ancient times, the gods would immortalize heroes by placing them in the stars. 'Samantha Wildman will live on,' he says. 'She's taken her [place] in the stars.'"[9]

Kenneth Biller at 2009 Comic-Con. Biller helped revise the initial story for the teleplay

The teleplay was written by Kenneth Biller and Jeri Taylor; Biller wrote the A-story that focused on the swarm of alien creatures while Taylor focused on the B-story of Kes' elogium. Instead of writing from Digg's full prose story, Biller worked from a seven-page treatment. Biller reacted to the plot with the thought: "a show about eating and sex — these are things I know a lot about…"[10] Biller explained in a later interview that he fought for Neelix (Ethan Phillips) and Kes (Jennifer Lien) to already be living together and having sex when drafting the teleplay, but he was shot down[by whom?] out of concern for Kes' young age and that it would be more interesting to show the couple grappling with this for the first time.[3]

"Elogium" inaugurated Biller's term as a writer for Star Trek: Voyager.[3] When he brought in the script for series co-creators Michael Piller and Jeri Taylor to review, he was told that it was a very good script. Right off the bat however, Piller said that "I don't think the teaser works at all." Biller received so many notes on the script that he began to feel as though the experience felt like an audition. After rewriting the script, Taylor expressed his pleasure with Biller's technical descriptions within the script and asked if Biller had a science background; ironically, Biller had instead went to Brown University specifically to avoid taking science courses—the technical details were all made up.[11] The day after presenting the rewrite, Taylor asked Biller to join the Voyager writing staff. Biller had been unaware of the vacancy, having come on board for the $15,000 fee and expecting nothing more. Though initially reluctant, Biller took Taylor's offer for the "opportunity to write television that was about something."[12]

Jeri Taylor and Ken Biller conceded that it was UPN's holding back of the episode until the second season that resulted in Ensign Wildman's strange gestation period of seven or eight months.[6][3]

Production[edit]

Director Winrich Kolbe praised Jennifer Lien's (Kes) performance in "Elogium", but was disappointed that he could not take the character even further, saying that "[t]he show went soft at the end." Kolbe complained that it wasn't uncommon for a wonderful concept to fall victim to a failing of courage and determination.[13]

The composition of shots including the Voyager and the alien creatures were accomplished with heavy use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) produced by Amblin Imaging and Santa Barbara Studios.[14] When viewing the alien swarm at a distance, the special effect was a composition from magnified footage of sperm. When viewed close-up however, the alien swarm was computer-generated.[10]

Reception[edit]

Kate Mulgrew (Kathryn Janeway) enjoyed "Elogium" for her opportunity to interact with the Kes character (Jennifer Lien) on a maternal level. Mulgrew thought the episode was a great vessel for Lien to stretch her acting chops, calling her "a constant and wonderful surprise."[5] Lien herself thought that the episode was a great vehicle to learn more about her character and the Ocampa species; she said "[i]t really took my character to a different level."[15] Tim Russ (Tuvok) thought that "Elogium" (along with "Emanations") were stories that challenged concepts, ideas, attitudes, and traditions—all things that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry originally wrote science fiction about: "That, I think, is the most important part of Star Trek."[16]

In his book Delta Quadrant: The unofficial guide to Voyager, David McIntee found Chakotay's revelation and Jennifer Lien's acting the only high points of the episode. Otherwise, he felt the "sexual-politics statements" were cheesy and overdone, and that all of the possible clichés of Kes' elogium (puberty, PMS, pregnancy, abortion, and menopause) were trodden upon and ill-used. McIntee accused the plot of being dull and the acting as subpar; although he thought the plot was supposed to touch on teen pregnancy, it instead emphasized that all women wish to be mothers, and all men are "immature bastards." He rated the episode 1 out of 10.[10] Cinefantastique's Dale Kutzera thought the episode flowed well, and that the treknobabble was reasonable and logical, but that the episode didn't make good use of the characters. Neelix (Ethan Phillips) was the jealous boyfriend, B'Elanna Torres (Roxann Dawson) was the shoot-first Klingon, and Kes was the perky-looking alien sounding board for other characters. Furthermore, Kutzera felt that the themes of the episode were more appropriate for an early first-season episode, not being as pertinent or believable a year later. He gave the episode 2.5 out of 4 stars.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Elogium". Star Trek: Voyager. Season 2. Episode 5. September 18, 1995. UPN.
  2. ^ a b Ruditis, Paul (May 2003). "Season One". Star Trek: Voyager Companion. New York, New York: Pocket Books. pp. 50–52. ISBN 0-7434-1751-8. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Kutzera, Dale (November 1996). "Voyager Episode Guide". Cinefantastique (Forest Park, Illinois) 28 (4/5): 79–80. ISSN 0145-6032. 
  4. ^ "Taylor, J. mss., 1975-1996". Indiana: Indiana University. Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  5. ^ a b Nazzaro, Joe (Feb 1996). "Brannon Braga: Supervising Producer". The Official Star Trek Voyager Magazine (New York, New York: Starlog Group, Inc.) (5): 50. ISSN 1079-3658. 
  6. ^ a b "Fine Tuning in Store for New Season". Star Trek: The Official Monthly Magazine (in British English) (London, England: Titan Books Limited) 1 (6): 10–11. August 1995. ISSN 1357-3888. 
  7. ^ Kutzera, Dale (November 1996). "Delta Quadrant Shakedown Cruise". Cinefantastique (Forest Park, Illinois) 28 (4/5): 75–80. ISSN 0145-6032. "Michael Piller gave the writing staff a much needed shake-up during second season." 
  8. ^ a b Di Lella, Joseph D. (2003-01-21). "WRITING FOR STAR TREK PART VIII: HOW TO PITCH (PART ONE)". TrekToday. Archived from the original on 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  9. ^ a b c "Jimmy Diggs". Photo-Synthesis Laboratories. 1998. Archived from the original on 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  10. ^ a b c McIntee, David (2000). "First Season". Delta Quadrant: The unofficial guide to Voyager (in British English). London, UK: Virgin Publishing Ltd. pp. 56–60. ISBN 0-7535-0436-7. 
  11. ^ Kutzera, Dale (November 1996). "Executive Story Editor". Cinefantastique (Forest Park, Illinois) 28 (4/5): 77–78. ISSN 0145-6032. "Writer Ken Biller came in to pitch and got drafted as part of the new series' writing staff." 
  12. ^ Nemecek, Larry (August 1995). "Ken Biller: Executive Story Editor". The Official Star Trek Voyager Magazine (New York, New York: Starlog Group, Inc.) (3): 47–54. ISSN 1079-3658. 
  13. ^ Spelling, Ian (February 1998). "Winrich Kolbe". The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine (New York, New York: Starlog Group, Inc.) (15): 10–14. ISSN 1079-3658. 
  14. ^ Nemecek, Larry (December/January 1996). "Visual FX: Creating the Star Trek Universe". Star Trek Communicator (Aurora, Colorado: The Official Fan Club, Inc.) (106): 55–59. ISSN 1080-3793. 
  15. ^ Eramo, Steven (December 1996). "Jennifer Lien: Nine Year Wonder". TV Zone (London, England) (23): 18–21. ISSN 0960-8230. 
  16. ^ Gross, Edward; Altman, Mark A. (1996). "Voyager: Season Two Episode Guide". Captains' Logs Supplemental. London, England: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 155–156. ISBN 0-316-88354-9. 

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