What happens when you return home only to find no one knows who you are?   This and Seven’s new station as Troop Mom are explored in the episode originally broadcast on March 1, 2000.  This is Ashes to Ashes.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 53679.4 Ashes to Ashes

An alien claiming to be a former crewmember asks for help as Seven begins to learn the trouble with motherhood.

The Story:

Story A: The lost love

After escaping her pursuers, an alien woman contacts Voyager only to get ahold of Mezoti, one of the Borg children. Mezoti mistakenly disconnects with the alien who is asking to speak to Janeway when Tuvok walks in to discover the Borg child in a restricted area.  Seven arrives with the other children in tow only to discover that Mezoti has been in contact with someone.  Tuvok contacts the ship and is shocked when the voice acts as if it recognizes him.  Connecting her with Janeway on the bridge, the alien identifies herself as Ensign Lyndsay Ballard even though Ballard has been dead for nearly three years.   Beaming this alien to sick bay to get to the bottom of this mystery, Janeway soon learns that, despite appearances, this is in fact the Ensign that everyone believed to be dead. 

Ballard explains that, after her death at the hands of the Hirogen, she awoke surrounded by a race called the Kobali who tried to get her to forget her past life.  She feigned to follow suit taking her first opportunity to return to Voyager some three years later.  Kim is delighted to have her back and begins to help her to reacclimate to Voyager.  Lamenting her new ‘alien’ appearance, she is further amazed when The Doctor informs her that, even though he can not return her to her human form, he may be able to return her to her original appearance.

Taking the treatments, she returns to duty and soon discovers that she is more Kobali than she realized which begins to cause her some emotional and mental issues. She soon takes solace in her old friend Harry Kim who admits that he has always had a crush on her and her death was hard on him.  They share some personal time but when her ‘Father’ arrives hoping to reclaim his daughter Jhet’leya, the contentment she had begun to feel begins to fall apart.  After refusing to return with the Kobali, Ballard faces more difficulties as her human likeness begins to change back to her alien state. The Doctor soon discovers that the treatment is failing and she will have to have daily treatments to appear human.

Rushing off, she is soon found by Harry who tells her that he doesn’t care what she looks like as long as she is happy.  It is then that she finally tells him that she has changed and had only refused to accept it.  Ballard is indeed dead and she is no longer the woman that Harry fell for.  The Kobali launch an attack against Voyager and Ballard accepts her fate and agrees to return to the Kobali in order to save the ship.  With a final farewell with Kim, she departs leaving the heart broken Ensign behind.

In the mess hall, Kim encounters one of the Borg children, Mezoti, who informs him that Seven has allowed them to have free time in the holodeck. Offering Kim a chance to join them, he agrees and makes plans to ‘tinker’ with one of Tuvok’s programs in honor of his lost love. 

Story B: Kids

There is a ‘b’ story that involves Seven dealing with raising Borg children and learning that they can’t be treated like drones.  They rebel, she punishes them, Chakotay offers advice and she learns that she needs to let the kids be kids because…well they are kids.  

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

At it’s surface, this episode is pretty spectacular giving Harry a chance to take center stage and explore his love life and vulnerabilities. Harry is a character who has been perpetually alone with every single romantic relationship ending in tragedy.  From his fiancé Libby to his infatuation with Seven, Harry just can not find a person to stay with and, sadly this ends up to be the same by the end of this episode.  The events are sorrowful for sure but there in lies the problem, this could have been a tragic loss but never managed to get there due to one specific thing…unlike Harry, we don’t have any connection with Ensign Ballard.

Much like that of Ahni Jetal from Latent Image, we never got to actually meet Ballard prior to this episode.  With so many deaths on the series so far we could have had literally any of them brought back.  Heck, bring back Ensign Kaplan from Unity or, if they wanted to make things really interesting, they could have brought back Lon Sutor bringing his story to a definitive end.  Yet, they opted for the unknown Ensign routine basically pulling the teeth in what could have been a tremendously emotional episode.  Harry is definitely suffering in this episode and Garrett Wang does a great job portraying that but I only wish we could have felt the loss with him.

The thing I really dig about this episode is the concept of a species who use the dead as a means of procreation.  The concept of repurposing bodies to create new life if fantastic and should have been explored further but, much like that of Ballard, we only learn of the Kobali in this episode and never hear from them again.

The B story dealing with Seven and her child rearing days is a fun distraction in and of itself.  In this very quick additional narrative, Seven comes to realize that she has to allow these new crew members a chance to be individuals themselves. It is a hard road for Seven but one she takes on admirably. 

Overall, this is just an okay episode that really should have been better.   Sure, it gives some characters some pretty substantial growth but nothing really happens outside of that, in fact, Harry pretty much forgets about his second loss of Ballard by the next episode showing us that he really wasn’t that into her to begin with. 

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, -15 remaining.
  • 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -5 remaining
  • We never seen nor hear of the Kobali again. 
  • Harry notes that he has started playing the Saxophone.  I wonder how many replicator rations THAT took?
  • Apparently replicators can burn pot roasts…Janeway ‘burns’ a replicated pot roast and then offers her guest Peanut Butter and Jelly..like she keeps that on tap.  Why didn’t she just recycle the pot roast and replicate something new…  Plus,  That Pot Roast was MASSIVE for just two people.  Wouldn’t it have been easier just to replicate a couple of complete ‘Marie Calendar’s Replicated Classics’?

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: Child’s Play

For more reviews: check out the 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 2/10/2021

‘What’s wrong Ballard?’ ‘I just realized, I’d rather be a Kobali than be with a person who hasn’t been promoted since I died three years ago.’

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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