(written from a Production point of view)
While attempting to make contact with the Caretaker's mate (who may have the ability to send Voyager home), the crew discovers a colony of Ocampa whose representative has an interest in Kes and helping her explore her telepathic powers.
Ten months previously, the USS Voyager was pulled into the Delta Quadrant by a powerful being known as the Caretaker. When he died, the crew of Voyager were stranded 70,000 light years from home. Before his death, he revealed that he had a female counterpart, giving the crew hope that she may be able to return them to the Alpha Quadrant...
Kes receives studies in honing her telepathic abilities from Tuvok in his quarters. When Tuvok asks her to focus her mind, Kes begins hearing the thoughts of Neelix, who is getting a haircut in another part of the ship. Kes begins to giggle, much to Tuvok's annoyance. Tuvok ends the session and promises to give her a lesson how to reduce her emotional outbursts and better control her mind. Kes then leaves and arrives in sickbay late for her shift. The Doctor begins to gently criticize her tardiness when he is interrupted by a high-pitched, shrill noise. Kes and The Doctor open a panel to find the source of the sound – the Caretaker's remains shaking.
Kathryn Janeway and B'Elanna Torres are summoned to sickbay. Torres scans the Caretaker's remains and confirms that the remains are completely inert and dead. Janeway refuses to believe that they simply sprang to life for a few seconds without a reason, but as they discuss their options the remains starting shaking again. Torres now reads life-signs, but they're not coming from the remains; rather they are reacting in response to a sporocystian energy source – another Caretaker lifeform. Remembering that the dying Caretaker had mentioned a female of its kind, Janeway wonders if she could be nearby. If so, a meeting with her could be their ticket home.
Kim, on the bridge, does read lifesigns but cannot pinpoint the location exactly. Torres hypothesizes they can use the remains to locate the signal more accurately and gets to work. Meanwhile, Tuvok is concerned with the raw energy of the first Caretaker; the Voyager was completely at his mercy. Tuvok and Janeway don't want a repeat of this occurrence. As a precaution, Tuvok begins work on a toxin that could debilitate the female lifeform without killing her if she poses a threat. Soon, another surge of energy comes and Torres eventually confirms a heading.
Following the energy trail, the crew comes upon a space station that looks similar to (except being considerably smaller than) the Caretaker's array. Interestingly, it is inhabited by over two thousand Ocampa. Voyager hails the station, but receives no response. The station then begins firing on the ship. After a few warning shots, an Ocampan man appears and warns Janeway to move away from the station, cutting off the transmission without hearing her response. Janeway is surprised and disappointed.
Later, Janeway summons Kes to the bridge. Kes agrees to act as the crew's liaison to her people, and speaks to the Ocampa leader, Tanis. He then agrees to board Voyager. Janeway assures him that the crew comes in peace, but oddly, he doesn't believe her, citing the Voyager's reputation. Unbeknownst to the crew, the Caretaker's death and the conflict with the Kazon have been attributed to them and has become widespread belief. Janeway further tries to explain it isn't true, but Tanis telepathically asks Kes to meet with him privately. Tanis then expresses interest in Kes and her life up until now. He also tells Kes that the female Caretaker, Suspiria, is nearby. She has taken care of this group of Ocampa for 300 years, and has taught them to develop their psychokinetic skills and drastically extend their life span. Tanis, for example, is fourteen years old, which Kes can hardly believe, noting that a typical Ocampa lifespan is only nine years. He shows Kes a sample of the powerful abilities she has yet to tap, blooming all of the plants in the airponics bay.
Kes, overwhelmed with the discovery, reports back to Janeway. She is happy for her, but also advises her to be careful when dealing with this group of Ocampa. On the station, Tanis telepathically communicates with Suspiria, who demands that he deliver Voyager to her.
Tanis comes back to the ship in order to share a dinner in the captain's mess with the crew and Kes. During, Janeway and Chakotay ask about Suspiria's existence, though Tanis doesn't know that much about how she exists, only that she's there when they need to communicate. He promises to take them to the meeting place so they can ask her. Tanis also invites Kes to stay with the other Ocampa, much to Neelix's surprise, in order to learn more about her abilities. Kes is immediately dismissive but Janeway asks her to give the decision some thought.
Later, in engineering, Tuvok and The Doctor are successful at creating a way to disable the female Caretaker by creating a toxin that induces temporary paralysis. Tuvok hopes it is not needed, and so Janeway approves of them going forward. Meanwhile, Tanis begins tutoring Kes on using her telepathic skills. Kes successfully learns how to move a cup with her mind and how to boil water. Neelix watches with amazement, congratulating her, and agrees to go with Kes if she decides to leave Voyager and live with the Ocampans on the station.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We've arrived at what Tanis calls the meeting place, the region of space where Suspiria exists."
On the bridge, Tanis hails Suspiria, who will respond within 47 hours. In the meantime, Kes meets with Tuvok to show him the mental abilities she learned from Tanis. The demonstration nearly ends in disaster when Kes tries to boil water with her mind and, to her horror, inadvertently begins to heat Tuvok's blood as well (his blood cell membranes ruptured when their temperature increased by 37 degrees in a matter of seconds). He collapses in shock, writhing in agony.
Fortunately, Tuvok recovers from the near-fatal incident, waking up in sickbay. Tuvok tells Kes not to feel remorse, but instead to use this experience to learn from her mental mistake. He also agrees to continue teaching her, much to Kes's relief.
Tanis continues teaching Kes in the airponics bay, telling her that she can realize the full potential of her mental powers in her mind, even to the point of thinking of her non-telepathic crewmembers as "pets". Initially Kes is reluctant, but her emotions take over as she begins to touch her plants with her mind, first by enhancing their color. Tanis instructs Kes to "bring the fire" and she burns all of the plants in the airponics bay. She's disturbed, since she doesn't want to kill anything or anyone, but Tanis doesn't view that as important. Tanis urges Kes to leave Voyager and live on the Ocampa station, where he says she will be embraced by Suspiria and surrounded by her own people. On the station, the Ocampa would hone her telepathic skills to the level where Suspiria would let her go to Exosia, a subspace layer of pure thought and energy. Kes asks for more time to think about her decision.
In engineering, the Caretaker's remains begin to resonate again – Suspiria has arrived. Tanis says he is going to the bridge but instead goes to the mess hall to coax Kes off the ship again. Just then, a plasmatic energy field appears in main engineering. After hearing no response from Torres over the comm system, Tuvok and a security team investigate. Tuvok informs Janeway that Suspiria is the cause of the energy field and still in main engineering. Janeway goes down to engineering to talk to Suspiria, who has appeared as a little girl. Suspiria is ready to complete her mission of revenge (she believes Janeway killed her mate).
Meanwhile, Kes is in the mess thinking about her choice when Tanis comes in to get her, enthusiastically to bring her to the other Ocampa. He invites her to listen to the others and to Suspiria, but then Kes becomes aware of the monstrous plot and backs away from him. In engineering, Suspiria attacks Janeway (in addition to Torres and Tuvok, who are suspended from the ceiling) and begins to destabilize the molecular composition of the ship. Kes attacks Tanis with her expanded psychic abilities after he mentally throws Neelix against the wall. Tanis' pain temporarily incapacitates Suspiria. Janeway is then able to fire the toxin, subduing her. Janeway allows Suspiria and Tanis to leave the ship (much to Suspiria's surprise; she did not expect mercy) while Kes remains with her friends on Voyager.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We've resumed our course back to the Alpha Quadrant. But the female Caretaker is still out there, with the power to send us home. And I will use all my power to find her and convince her to do just that."
Kes and Tuvok are back in his quarters relearning how to hone her telepathic abilities. Her abilities have drastically weakened with the departure of Tanis. Kes regrets her "dark impulses" that forced her to kill the plants in the airponics bay and her thoughts of leaving Voyager. Tuvok informs her that even Vulcans have such impulses, but that one must learn to control them rather than pretend that they do not exist.
"Your ship is known as a ship of death."
- - An Ocampa man, describing USS Voyager to Janeway
"Vulcans make the worst patients."
- - The Doctor, after Tuvok refuses the order to go on light duty
"Focus on the goal, not the task."
- - Tanis to Kes (repeated line)
"You are probably feeling the emotion known as remorse. Possibly guilt. I advise you to look on this incident as a learning experience."
"It's not that easy. I almost killed you."
"That is correct. But you did not. Try to remember that."
- - Tuvok and Kes
"To be honest, I never want to see that part of myself again."
"To which part are you referring?"
"To the part of me which got pleasure from destroying the plants in the airponics bay. To the part of me that was tempted to go with Tanis. I never realized I had such dark impulses."
"Without the darkness, how would we recognize the light? Do not fear your negative thoughts. They are part of you. They are a part of every living being, even Vulcans."
"The Vulcan heart was forged out of barbarism and violence. We learned to control it, but it is still part of us. To pretend it does not exist is to create an opportunity for it to escape."
- - Kes and Tuvok
"Now you will know what frail, small creatures you truly are!"
- - Suspiria, to Janeway
- This episode begins with a very brief recap of how Voyager became stranded in the Delta Quadrant, in order to re-establish with viewers that the Caretaker had a mate – namely, Suspiria.
Story and script
- This episode's stardate is not mentioned in the episode's final version but is established in the episode's shooting script. (Star Trek: Voyager Companion) Yet, the Star Trek: Star Charts, on page 84, gave the stardate for this episode as 49040, which would place the episode before "Tattoo".
- At the time Anthony Williams wrote the story for this episode, he was an assistant manager in advertising at Paramount Pictures. (Star Trek Monthly issue 10, p. 15)
- A working title of the episode was "Untitled Kes Firebug". 
- Suspiria was initially conceived of as essentially a form of "get out clause," designed to change the format of Star Trek: Voyager if such a need arose. This was because the studio executives at Paramount were wary of audience reaction to the lost-in-space concept that was central to the series. During Voyager's first season, executive producer Rick Berman explained, "The studio was very concerned when they first heard the pitch [....] We convinced them that it didn't have to be bleak [....] And frankly we made a concession to finally finish the sales job... we put the one-armed man out there–which is the other entity that we met in the pilot. It's out there somewhere. We will try to find that entity more than once during the next several years because we know that the entity has the ability to send us back home." (A Vision of the Future - Star Trek: Voyager, p. 192) This episode's usage of Suspiria without having her send the Voyager crew back to their destination of the Alpha Quadrant therefore implies a confidence in the series that was either absent or not as strong when the series began.
- The final draft of this episode's script was submitted on 30 August 1995. 
- Gary Graham (Tanis) found that featuring in this episode was not an entirely comfortable experience. "Though I enjoyed most of the cast members on Voyager, the tone on the set was tense," he noted.  "They're very tightly wound over there," Graham elaborated. "That's not to say it wasn't a rewarding experience, but it was about as fun as taking a midterm when you really, really have to make a good grade [....] I wanted to change two words at Star Trek and it took thirty minutes to get script approval on that back from the Ivory Tower." (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages) Graham had previously been considered for the roles of Benjamin Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Captain Janeway in Voyager before the decision was taken that those characters were to be African-American and female respectively. He would later play the recurring character Ambassador Soval in all four seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise.
- The making of this installment reunited director Cliff Bole with Gary Graham – the two having worked on the short-lived series M.A.N.T.I.S. – but Bole felt Graham seemed too overly challenged by his role here, despite also thinking that the performer was "a great actor." Bole noted, "Gary's performance was fine, but we both could have done better." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 15)
- Cliff Bole was, however, impressed by the performances of the series regulars in this episode, such as Kes actress Jennifer Lien and Tuvok actor Tim Russ. The director noted, "It was Jennifer Lien's episode, and she did great work [....] Tim Russ also did solid work in that one." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 15)
- Jennifer Lien herself was enthusiastic about this episode's depiction of Kes. "I [...] like 'Cold Fire'," Lien stated. "It presents Kes with a temptation and then leaves the decision up to the character as to whether or not to give in to it. I feel that this is good because it displays another side of Kes which is her confidence in being able to choose a path for her life." (TV Zone, special #23, p. 21)
- This was the first of ten Star Trek: Voyager episodes that Cliff Bole directed.
- The exterior of Suspiria's array was a modified reuse of the Caretaker's array from "Caretaker". (Delta Quadrant, p. 82)
- Cliff Bole was ultimately very pleased with this episode, despite also thinking that it suffered a problem of pacing. "I thought the episode was better than average," he remarked, "although it did need a little more action, a little more movement." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 15)
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 6 million homes, and a 9% share. Along with the episodes "Non Sequitur" and "Dreadnought", this was the joint fifth most watched episode of Voyager's second season (on first airing); all three episodes had the same viewing figures. This particular episode, however, has repeatedly failed to appear in the top five of fan polls testing the popularity of episodes in Star Trek: Voyager's second season. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 108, p. 18; )
- Star Trek Monthly gave this episode 4 out of 5 stars, defined as "Trill-powered viewing". Additionally, Star Trek Monthly reviewer Stuart Clark referred to the episode as "a chilling Kes story" and described the effects to Tuvok when Kes loses control as "a credit to both the make-up and special effects departments." (Star Trek Monthly issue 14, p. 62)
- Cinefantastique gave the installment 2 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 88)
- The reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 84) scored the episode 5 out of 10.
- This episode's brief, introductory recap establishes that the episode takes place ten months after "Caretaker", which means it has been two months since the events of "Non Sequitur".
- Despite Captain Janeway stating her desire to find Suspiria again, she is never seen after this episode and is only mentioned once, very vaguely, in "The Voyager Conspiracy" – at which point Janeway declares that she is "not eager" to have another encounter with a Caretaker, in light of the unpleasant previous encounters. Further Nacene appear in the novel trilogy Star Trek: Voyager - String Theory, which reveals more about their culture and ties to Ocampa history.
- The events of this episode represent the fourth time (aside from the series premiere) that Voyager's crew has a possibility of returning home.
- 47: Suspiria will arrive within 47 hours from the carrier wave that summons her.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 2.3, 25 March 1996
- As part of the VOY Season 2 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Biggs-Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Jennifer Lien as Kes
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Tuvok
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
- Majel Barrett as the voice of Suspiria
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Cindy Howe as an Ocampa female
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
- Basil Langton as
- the voice of the Caretaker
- as the wine-pourer (scene 4, dinner reception)
airponics; Alpha Quadrant; atom; bearing; bio-spectral analysis; blood; carbon-based lifeform; Caretaker; Caretaker's array; cell membrane; compass; containment field; convalescence; cup; cylinder; day; Delta Quadrant; dizziness; enzyme; Exosia; generation; heart; hexi-prismatic field; hypnagogic mental state; hyperthermic induction; intermediary; level 3 biohazard; lifespan; light duty; Meeting Place, The; microcellular analysis; mind; Milky Way Galaxy; Nacene; nausea; Ocampa; Ocampa (planet); Ocampa history; patient; plasmatic energy; precognitive skill; psychokinesis; red alert; resuscitation; scalp; second; shampoo; shock; sideburns; sporocystian lifeform; sporocystian energy; sporocystian toxin; status quo; subspace carrier wave; subspace layer; subspace rupture; Suspiria's array; Tanis' father; tea; temperature; thought; Vulcan; weep; yellow alert
- "Cold Fire" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Cold Fire" at Wikipedia
- "Cold Fire" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
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