(written from a Production point of view)
B'Elanna Torres dies in a shuttle accident, and finds herself headed for Gre'thor, the afterlife for dishonored Klingons.
B'Elanna Torres is returning from an away mission to retrieve the USS Voyager's multi-spatial probe. Opposing Captain Janeway's direct orders, she pursues the probe into an ion storm. Torres' shuttlecraft takes heavy damage, and she contacts Voyager. The craft has lost helm control, and is venting plasma from the port nacelle. Voyager tractors her shuttle into the shuttlebay, where it crash-lands. Tom Paris examines her, and is found that she has a concussion. After she has recovered enough, Torres gets a thorough talking to by Janeway on following orders, and the dangers of flying into an ion storm. Curiously, Janeway refers to Torres as "Lanna", something which Torres notes only her mother did.
Chakotay approaches Torres when she is back in her quarters reading from a PADD, and shows her an artifact that was lodged in the port nacelle. The item appears to be Klingon in origin, and quite a few centuries old. After Chakotay leaves, Torres puts the artifact on her table. It begins to bleed and voices of Klingons can be heard.
In main engineering, Torres and Ensign Kim are analyzing the artifact, trying to figure out how a hunk of metal could bleed. Kim suggests that Torres was just hallucinating, but Torres denies that, and insists on a submolecular scan. Kim insists that it's just a piece of metal, citing lack of fluid and vapor residue. Suddenly, Neelix appears to congratulate Torres on her discovery. He reveals that he also planning a party to commemorate the find, but Torres sees no point in it. Neelix goes on to cite Klingon lore which he has been doing some research and comments that "It's a piece of the Alpha Quadrant. A symbol of Voyager's home".
Torres goes to Tuvok to get a logical point of view. He suggests that it's an "unwelcome reminder of the self-loathing" of Torres' Klingon half. Torres refutes that claim, but Tuvok explains that it is not a secret that she hates her Klingon half. Torres proves rather uncooperative with the meditation procedure Tuvok has placed, so he goes with a different method – he brings out a bat'leth. He tries to get her to connect with the procedure by displaying elegance with the bat'leth, and by cutting her face. He says that a true Klingon would try to kill him where he stood, and dismisses her.
Torres decides to attend the celebration Neelix has organized with Paris. They see The Doctor singing Klingon drinking songs to Seven of Nine, who fails to see the merit of learning them, but is coerced into singing them with The Doctor. Paris is then offered some replicated gagh by Neelix. Torres expresses her disgust for everyone "going Klingon-happy." Janeway says a few words for the Klingon Empire, but Torres starts to hallucinate, seeing several Klingon warriors strike down the crew present. She falls, but gets up, and asks where she is. She is told that "the dead ask no questions."
Torres is taken to who seems to be the head of the boat that she is on, where she is branded with the insignia of the Empire, but it does not show up. She is let down near another Klingon, who explains that they are on the Barge of the Dead, where they are being taken to Gre'thor.
She starts to hear voices, but they are not real; they are trying to lure her to them. Another Klingon on board jumps overboard, where he is attacked by Kos'Karii. Torres is taken to Kortar, where she is told that it is not her time, but that she has been close to it several times. Torres sees a bat'leth and tries to assault Kortar, but he laughs and tells her he is already dead. Another dishonored soul is then delivered to the Barge; it is Torres' mother, Miral. Torres then suddenly regains consciousness in sickbay.
In sickbay, Paris and The Doctor explain to Torres what really happened: her shuttle was on the trailing edge of an ion storm, and had lost life support. When the shuttle was tractored into the shuttlebay, she was in a coma, and had almost died. Paris also reveals that there was no Klingon artifact. While in her quarters, Chakotay comes to check in on Torres. Torres explains to him what she experienced; she thinks that she died, went to the Klingon Barge of the Dead, and saw her mother there. Chakotay tells her it is psychosomatic – her brain trying to deal with the trauma of near-death. She cannot accept that, and thinks that the experience must be real, and that there isn't any symbolism behind it. Torres says that her mother has been on her mind and that the experience was very realistic.
In engineering, Paris comes to visit Torres, who is reading the Paq'batlh, an ancient Klingon scroll. It states why her mother is being sent to Gre'thor: because of Torres' dishonor, her mother is being punished. Paris denounces this theory, but Torres cites more Klingon scripture, and concludes that the only way to get her mother out of Gre'thor and into Sto-vo-kor is to return to the Barge of the Dead.
Torres goes to Captain Janeway to get permission to be put back in the trance she was in during the shuttle accident, but Janeway is not convinced of the procedure's safety. She says that she is not willing to put Torres in a coma, just because of her spiritual beliefs. After a somewhat lengthy debate on freedom of worship, the validity of Torres' claim, and what may become of her mother, Janeway reluctantly agrees.
In sickbay, Paris is surprised to hear that the captain authorized such a thing. He suggests church, and then suggests becoming more in tune with her beliefs together, but Torres says that this is the only way. The captain enters, and after a report from The Doctor, the procedure begins. She has an hour to spend on the barge. Her synaptic activity momentarily dips below the recommended levels, but The Doctor compensates. Torres finds herself back on the barge, wearing a Klingon uniform.
After evading being seen, Torres enters the lower level of the barge. She finds her mother, who first suspects that she is another illusion, but is revealed that it is really her, on the barge. Torres explains that she is here to lift Miral's dishonor, and that she has changed her views on Klingon spirituality. Miral claims that it is Torres' fault that they are both on the barge, and has not changed, regardless of what happened. An argument between the two ensues. Eventually, Torres' father is brought up. Miral claims that he abandoned them, and that she tried to give Torres honor. Torres laments that they are on the Barge of the Dead, and still arguing about the same thing they did ten years ago. Torres apologizes, but Miral is reluctant to accept it. Torres wants to perform the transference before The Doctor revives her, but Miral resents the fact that Torres chose the "easy way," and says that Torres still doesn't know what being a Klingon is about. Just then, two guards come down, and bring Torres above.
Torres is brought to Kortar, where she wishes to perform the transference. Kortar accepts Torres' wish, and when they reach Gre'thor, Miral will be released to Sto-Vo-Kor, and Torres placed in Gre'thor. However, Kortar knows of the plan to revive Torres before she reaches Gre'thor. Kortar seeming amused asked if she truly believed he could be deceived so easily. Torres says that she is willing to put herself in her mother's place, and not be revived by The Doctor. Miral objects, even forbids this, but the transference is completed, and Miral is sent to Sto-Vo-Kor. The barge then arrives at the gates of Gre'thor, and Torres accepts her fate.
Back in sickbay, Paris exclaims that her neural patterns are breaking down. The Doctor initiates the resuscitation, and vents the ionized particles that put her in the coma. That doesn't appear to work, and The Doctor injects twenty milligrams of cordrazine into Torres. At the gates of Gre'thor, Torres sees Tuvok holding a bat'leth. He strikes her, and Torres awakens in sickbay, still bearing the mark her mother had, and still wearing the Klingon uniform. Neelix and The Doctor approach Torres, and welcome her to Gre'thor.
Torres does not accept that she is in Gre'thor, but The Doctor shows her the mark. She thinks that it is some kind of joke, but Neelix assures her that it is no laughing matter. Neelix remarks on Voyager's layout, and implies that Torres won't be going anywhere. Torres remarks that Voyager isn't her idea of Hell, but the doctor asks her if she ever truly felt fully happy there. Neelix brings her to the mess hall, where Seven and The Doctor are singing Klingon drinking songs, and Janeway says a toast to Torres' dishonor.
In the real sickbay, Torres is not responding to the cordrazine, and her neural activity continues to fall. The Doctor attempts a direct neural re-sequencing. Gre'thor's Janeway remarks on Torres' dull life, with nothing to celebrate. Gre'thor's Harry Kim remarks on Torres' isolated nature, keeping everyone "at arm's length." Chakotay asks her what she thinks of Gre'thor so far. She sees Tuvok holding a bat'leth again. He lunges at Torres, where she finds herself back on the barge. Her mother is there, which confuses Torres, who thinks that she released her mother to Sto-Vo-Kor. Miral says that she cannot be freed until Torres frees herself from Gre'thor, which confuses Torres even more. Miral states that Torres never understood. Torres is informed that it is not her time, and the ritual is meaningless. Miral cannot reveal how she can get out of Gre'thor. She tells her to "choose to live," and leaves saying that they will meet again. Torres asks if in Sto-Vo-Kor. Miral says possibly or maybe when she gets back to Earth, implying she may herself be alive.
In sickbay, Torres' neural activity continues to drop. The Doctor tries a cortical stimulation, but it is not promising. Torres follows her mother outside, but is met by Voyager's senior staff, and Tuvok tells her to defend herself. She lunges at Tuvok, but does not strike him. Janeway tells her that her anger has consumed her, and is starting to consume them. Seven says she has condemned them all. The Doctor remarks that misery loves company. Torres wants to know desperately what they want, but Miral says that they don't want anything but herself. The crew says that they are not enemies, to "defend herself." Torres is exhausted, "tired of fighting." Her mother says that she has taken the first step of her journey and that they will meet in Sto-Vo-Kor, or perhaps when they get home. Torres wakes up in sickbay, and is welcomed back by Janeway.
"B'Elanna? Are you alive?"
"You tell me."
- - Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres
"Remind me to plant a flag on behalf of the Empire."
- - Torres, in regards to Chakotay pointing out the Klingon claim to being the first Alpha Quadrant power in the Delta Quadrant
"Think 'Qapla'!' Think 'Long live the Empire!'"
- - The Doctor and Seven of Nine, discussing Klingon drinking songs
"And if you even think of joining in on this "embrace your heritage" nonsense, I swear I'll rip out your tongue and wear it as a belt."
"Oh no, there's not a lot of Klingon in you!"
"I inherited the forehead and the bad attitude. That's it."
- - Torres and Paris in the mess hall during the Klingon party
"One minute, you're in a coma, the next you're a born-again Klingon? I don't get it!"
- - Tom Paris, to Torres
"Daughter of Miral, embrace your fate."
- - Kortar, ushering Torres into the gates of Gre'thor
"You've met Mr. Neelix, our ambassador to the recently deceased. Questions, comments, suggestions, he's your man."
- - The Doctor, to Torres in Voyager/Gre'thor
- - Neelix, describing Voyager/Gre'thor to Torres
"She comes to us with no valor, no glory. Nothing to celebrate in song or story."
- - Captain Janeway, in Torres' hell
"I don't consider Voyager Hell!"
- - B'Elanna Torres
"Do you believe in an afterlife?"
"I accept there are things in the universe that can't be scanned with a tricorder."
- - B'Elanna Torres and Chakotay
"What do you want?!"
"Who are you asking?"
"You! Kahless! The tooth fairy! Anybody who will tell me what I am supposed to do!"
- - Torres and Miral
"Tell me what it is that you want from me!"
"We only want you."
- - Torres and Janeway
"Mother? Oh god, I'm alive."
- - Torres on first seeing/hugging Janeway once revived & delivered from Klingon 'hell'.
Story and script
- This is the second of two Voyager episodes written by Star Trek: The Next Generation/Star Trek: Deep Space Nine writer Ronald D. Moore and the last Star Trek episode written by him.
- The final draft script for this episode was submitted on 28 June 1999.
- The basic plot line for this episode was originally intended to be seen in DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire". Ronald D. Moore's original idea for the episode was for Worf and the crew of the IKS Rotarran to answer a distress call from a Klingon colony. When they arrive, they find all of the inhabitants missing. Nearby is a lake surrounded in a mysterious fog, and when they approach it, a boatman appears and takes them to the entrance to Gre'thor. Once inside, they meet a friend of Martok's, who wants them to take him with them. And then they meet Worf's father, Mogh. There were a number of reasons that this particular story never made it into production. Firstly, Ira Steven Behr felt that the episode was trying to accomplish too much– showing both the realistic day-to-day operations of a Klingon Bird-of-Prey and a mythic journey to the afterlife. Behr also felt it was too late in the season to do such a philosophical show dealing with life, death and hell. As well as this, the concept proved to be too complex and expensive. After Moore transferred to the Voyager staff following the end of DS9, the basic premise was modified and made to work with Voyager, the end result being this episode. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- Tim Russ noted that in early development, this episode was a Tuvok-based story, before being rewritten to focus on B'Elanna's past. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 21, p. 19)
- Mitch Suskin described the use of a special plug-in called 'RealFlow' to create the sea of blood, a similar effect to what was used to create The Waters in "Thirty Days". (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 18, p. 24)
- The Gates of Gre'thor were one of the most complicated shots of the show, combining Dan Curry matte painting, with photoshopped pictures, CG environment modeling, and Digital Muse coals and water to all work together. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 18, p. 25)
- The 'transporter effect' of Miral disappearing was created by Paul Hill. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 18, p. 25)
Cast and characters
- Three of the guest stars in this episode appeared on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. John Kenton Shull played K'Temang in "Return to Grace", Karen Austin played Doctor Kalandra in "Nor the Battle to the Strong", and Eric Pierpoint played Captain Sanders in "For the Uniform".
- Despite playing her mother, Karen Austin is only four years older than Roxann Dawson.
- The death of the Klingon gods was first mentioned in DS9: "Homefront" and as part of the Klingon wedding ceremony in DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited".
- The Klingon drinking song that The Doctor is trying to teach Seven of Nine in the mess hall is the same song sung by Worf and Huraga in DS9: "The Way of the Warrior".
- The 'real' versions of Neelix, Tuvok, Seven of Nine and Harry Kim do not appear in this episode. They only appear as illusions.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 6.2, 3 April 2000
- As part of the VOY Season 6 DVD collection
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Klingon collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Harry Kim
- David Keith Anderson as Ashmore
- Christine Delgado as Susan Nicoletti
- David Lewman as Klingon guard
- Dennis Madalone as Klingon warrior
- Nichole McAuley as Voyager sciences officer
- Tom Morga as Klingon warrior
- Simon Stotler as Voyager operations ensign
- Noriko Suzuki as Voyager operations officer
- Mark Tobin as Klingon
2366; afterlife; ancestry; anger; Alpha Quadrant; aria; arresting field; assimilation; atmosphere; Barge of the Dead; bat'leth; belief system; Berlioz, Louis Hector; born again; brain; Cavern of Despair; Chakotay's grandfather; child sacrifice; Class 2 shuttle (unnamed, illusory); coma; concussion; cordrazine; crimson; cubic meter; damnation; Delta Quadrant; direct neural resequencing; Eleventh Tome of Klavek; Faust; drowning; Federation; Fek'lhr; force field; freedom of worship; gagh; Gre'thor; guest of honor; gullet; heart; holodeck; ion storm; isolation field; Kahless; kinesthetic agent; Klingon; Klingon drinking song; Klingon mythology; Klingonese; Knife of Kirom; Kortar's mate; Kos'Karii; lungs; manifestation; Maquis; milligram; millijoule; monastery; mongrel; monkey wrench; Morath; multi-spatial probe; nacelle; naj; near-death experience; necrosis; Paq'batlh; particles per cubic meter; path; petaQ; plasma cooker; pulsar; red; River Skral; Sarpek the Fearless; Sea of Gatan; spirit realm; Sto-vo-kor; submolecular scan; surgical bay; targ; Tooth Fairy; Torres, John; tractor pulse; tricorder; wolf
- "Barge of the Dead" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Barge of the Dead" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Barge of the Dead" at Wikipedia
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