B’Elanna faces off with…herself.  The episode that questions what it is that makes us us originally aired on May 8 1995.  This is Faces.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 48784.2  Faces

After being captured by the Vidiians, B’Elanna Torres finds herself splint into two, one fully Klingon and the other fully human.  Meanwhile Voyager searches for their missing crew-members.

The Story:

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A Klingon Woman awakes in a lab as someone discusses an experiment.   We soon discover that this is no ordinary Klingon woman, this is in fact B’Elanna Torres herself.

As B’Elanna discovers her Klingon roots, Tuvok finds himself in a mess hall situation with Neelix attempting to cook the Vulcan some ‘food from home’.  Rescued by a call from the bridge, he discovers that their away team, consisting of Torres, Paris and Durst, have gone missing due to what appears to be a strange shift in the geology.  Believing he can find the missing team using subspace ‘breadcrumbs’ to keep his team from getting lost, Harry Kim teams up with Chakotay and Tuvok to go after their missing friends. Arriving in the caves where their friends vanished, they soon discover that the original away team are not lost but have been kidnapped.

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Klingon Torres awakes to find a Vidiian who identifies himself as Chief Surgeon Sulan.  After shocking her with an image of her own face, Sulan explains that he has found a way to make her full blooded Klingon because she may have an immunity to the illness that has stricken his people, The Phage. Soon he reveals that he has infected Klingon Torres with the same illness in hopes to synthesize a cure from her.

In another part of the cave system, Paris and Durst have been captured. Incarcerated with a Talaxian prisoner, they learn that not only do the Vidiian’s plan to harvest their organs but they will also be used as slave labor until their parts are reacquired.  Paris and Durst begin their plans to find B’Elanna and escape. That night however, Tom Paris is shocked when human female is led in and identified as none other than B’Elanna Torres.

In pain from the Phage Infection, Klingon Torres impresses Sulan with her resistance to pain and is delighted when her Klingon Physiology is combating the virus successfully. It is clear that Klingon Torres is furious at the Vidiian scientist although he seems to be smitten by her Klingon Heritage.

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Human Torres tells Paris her story explaining that the Vidiians informed her that her Klingon DNA had been fully extracted. As Human Torres deals with the shock, she confides in Paris about her dreams as a kid to ‘not be Klingon’.  He learns that, as a kid, she grew up in a time when Klingons and The Federation were not on amicable terms. He soon learns that she blames her Father’s departure from her and her mother on her Klingon looks and now wonders if she really wants to be separated from her Klingon self.  Soon Durst is escorted out of the holding cells despite Paris and Human Torres’ best efforts to prevent it. Human Torres then realizes that she is afraid for the first time in years. 

As Paris and Torres are reunited, Chakotay and his team discover that the cave systems have started changing once again having run into what they believe to be a force field.  Tuvok notifies Janeway that it seems the field is similar to the one they found when they last encountered the Vidiians.  Coming face to face with a pare of the alien organ thieves, the three beam back to the ship. Back on the ship, Janeway begins working on a way to get through the force-field in order to retrieve their crew-members before it is too late. Discovering that they may be able to beam through the force field at precise moments, Chakotay is disguised as a Vidiian and heads down to attempt a rescue.

Klingon Torres continues to attempt an escape from her medical restraints and decides to use Sulan’s love of her species against him.  Showing appreciation for her new Klingon self, Klingon Torres attempts to seduce Sulan but finds him unwilling to release her from her restraints.  It seems that Sulan is ashamed of his appearance when Klingon Torres shutters at his touch.  He assures her that one day he will show her that his people can once again be the beautiful and voracious species they once were.

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Sulan returns with a surprise for Klingon Torres.  To her dismay he reveals that he has taken Durst’s face and grafted it onto his own in the hopes that it will help her to get past his grotesque features.  In her fury, Klingon Torres breaks loose from her restraints and attacks the Vidiian Doctor knocking him out moments before others arrive.  Fleeing, she begins to search for her missing friends.

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As Paris and Human Torres labor in the mines, Human Torres collapses in exhaustion.  Helped by the Talaxian, she admits that the purging of her Klingon Self has changed her in more than just a physical sense.  She is concerned that she is no longer the person she once was and that she is now a coward and will not be of any use to Paris in their escape attempt. Human Torres is escorted back to the barracks by the Vidiian guards after they find her ‘too ill to work’. Back at the Barracks, she begins to try to hack into the system only to encounter her Klingon Self when the Vidiians return to take Human Torres to Organ Processing.  Passing out after the encounter, Human Torres awakes to find herself laying by a fire started by Klingon Torres.   It is clear that Klingon Torres is not impressed with the Human side of her and the two begin to argue about how to escape.  For the first time in her life Human Torres is able to argue with herself in real life personifying the internal battle that has waged inside of her for her entire life. Reluctantly agreeing to Human Torres’ escape plan, Klingon Torres works together with her other half and the two return to the lab to try to escape.

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Chakotay, disguised as a Vidiian, finds Paris and the two begin to search for their missing friends. Just as Sulan discovers the Torreses (Torri?) Chakotay and Paris rescue them from him.  However, Klingon Torres is shot and killed with no way to save her leaving Human Torres alone and fully human for the first time.  In sick bay, The Doctor informs Torres that he has to reincorporate her Klingon DNA in order for B’Elanna Torres to survive, it seems her separation from her Klingon self can not be a permanent one despite the fact that Torres feels more at peace with herself than she has ever been.  While she does not relish the idea of being recombined with her Klingon half, she realizes that they need one another regardless of the never-ending internal battle in brings.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

It is rare we get an episode this impactful and so full of character development for a single member of any crew especially this early in a series.  While we have gotten a chance to know that B’Elanna Torres has some anger issues due to her Klingon heritage, we never really knew why that was until now.

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First off, I love that  we get a chance to dive deeper into why B’Elanna is the way she is.  We learn that he Father was human and left her family during a time when the Klingons and the Federation were not on the best of terms.  Blaming herself for his departure, B’Elanna grew up hating the thing that made her less human, namely those ridges on her forehead.  We will later learn that her mother was a pretty extreme ‘traditional’ Klingon who honestly probably should never have married a Human Federation officer but these things happen.  Sadly, it is due to these two very different cultures that B’Elanna struggles with her own identity.

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While it would have been easy for this episode to play off of a good vs evil aspect of splitting a person into two, Faces manages to avoid that major scifi cliche by exploring the two halves of a whole where both halves are, in essence, a complete person. For B’Elanna she is living the embodiment of the Two Wolves saying.  However, inside of her is not a battle of good and evil but a battle of cultures, ideologies and a battle of self.  While we have seen struggles similar to this in the past with Spock battling between his human and Vulcan sides, for the first time in Star Trek we get a chance to see the internal battle in physical form giving us a much greater understanding of this character than we normally get to see. From this point on I guarantee you will look at B’Elanna in a much different way and that in and of itself is what makes this episode so impactful.

Roxann Dawson does a simply marvelous job in her dual roles as the Human and Klingon version of herself.  Many times you simply forget that it is one person playing the role of B’Elanna Torres in this episode with both of her halves having such unique and incredibly vibrant personalities.  Her Klingon self is, as most Klingons are, impulsive and ready to fight.  She is angry at the universe and loaths the weakness she sees in her human self.   On the opposite side, her human self is more rational and calm attempting to work through a problem before bringing her fists into the situation.  While she thinks before she acts the human version lacks the drive and ambition brought on by the Klingon self while the Klingon self lacks the discipline and foresight to find success either. Seeing Roxann play this battle out as two separate characters is a testament to her ability as an actor and is frankly impressing as heck.

Now, outside of the incredible character development and wonderful acting job from Roxann Dawson, lets talk about the Vidiian and the threat they pose to Voyager’s crew. By now you would think it would be pretty standard practice to NOT leave crewmen along on an asteroid seeing that they honestly don’t know what they will encounter while travelling in the Delta Quadrant.  I mean, so far we have faced Space Vampires, Living Nebulae, Energy Beings and, of course, a race of organ thieves.   With their intrepid Talaxian guide on the ship, you would think that they would know to steer clear of these threats but, no..

Useless GIF

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All that aside, how freaking nightmarish are the Vidiian people?  I mean here is a race that literally practices medical plastic surgery using actual stolen body parts in order to save their race.  The think that makes it the most frightening is that you can understand WHY they do what they do yet they have no moral or ethical dilemma in doing it.  They simply need to survive and they do so by stealing other peoples parts.  I mean, these guys literally live the life of a biological chop shop.  Now, what happens when they finally find a cure, do you think they will stop or will they just continue to use their technology to enhance themselves like biological counterparts to the Borg?  Interestingly it is not only Roxann that plays dual roles in this one, in fact, Brian Markinson plays both Pete Durst (RIP) and that of Doctor Sulan, making his wearing of his own skinned face all that more creepy when you think about it.

All in all, not only is it one of the best character driven episodes it is also one of the most disturbing this season so far.  Good stuff and we are still only in the first season!

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, 37 remaining.
  • We see our ‘technical’ first casualty of the Delta Quadrant with Lt Durst.
  • It is interesting that B’Elanna claims that in 2349 relations between Klingons and The Federation were strained when just a few years prior in 2346 the Khitomer Massacre took place and the Federation’s involvement with helping the Klingon Empire helped to formalize peace between the two cultures. In fact, not long after this event, Worf went to live with the Rozhenkos in Gault.  Makes me wonder if this was not exactly as B’Elanna remembered…or she is actually from the timeline where the Federation and Klingons were at war in the TNG Episode Yesterday’s Enterprise.  hmmmmmm

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  •   We see another Talaxian but we never get his name.  I wonder if he is as clueless as Neelix is when it comes to the dangers of this area of space?
  • We do get a chance to see more of Neelix’ cooking exploits and no one has died from his culinary efforts yet so maybe not that useless just not all that useful…

 


Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review,  I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!  Next Review: Jetrel

If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 5/1/2020

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Face-Off….Get it?

Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available.  Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

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