Part I of II: The Summary

This episode opens with B'Elanna alone on a shuttle craft, losing helm control and venting plasma. Voyager tractors her in to the shuttlebay for a very bumpy landing. She awakens to find Tom standing over her with a medical tricorder, ascertaining the damage to her head. Later, once she is safely back on Voyager, she is called to the Captain's ready room. An incredibly maternal Captain "scolds" B'Elanna for not following orders and not heading into the ion storm, even going so far as to call her Lanna, as her mother once did.

Back in B'Elanna's quarters, Chakotay stops by to give her something that was wedged into the port nacell. It's an old piece of metal, with the Klingon symbol on it. Chakotay believes it's significant in that the Klingons could have been to the Delta Quadrant hundreds of years before Voyager. After Chakotay leaves, B'Elanna turns back to the artifact and blood is seeping out of the symbol -- voices can be heard yelling and screaming in Klingon. The vision disappears. Harry and an unsettled B'Elanna run scan after scan on the Klingon fragment, but nothing out of the ordinary can be found.

Neelix catches up to Torres to congratulate her on finding the Klingon artifact and tells her that he is holding a party in honor of her and the Klingon empire. He has researched many dishes and rituals. This, of course, is the last thing B'Elanna wants to hear.

Later, B'Elanna goes to Tuvok for help in interpreting the vision, if that it was it was. Tuvok analyzes the vision as B'Elanna's self-loathing. He hands her a batleth and asks her to describe it, using the first word that comes to her. B'Elanna's quick response is "clumsy". Tuvok appears angered and shows her, through slicing the air around him, how elegant this weapon can be in the hands of the experienced. He thrusts the batleth at her throat, arcs it away and swinging it again towards her, cuts her cheek. He yells to her that she should try to kill him where he stands for doing that and that she is not worthy. He orders her to take her "dishonor and get out", making the viewer wonder, "Pon Farr or something else?"

B'Elanna and Tom arrive at Neelix's celebration and the Doc and Seven can be heard singing Klingon songs (TPTB just do this to irritate me! I am now convinced that I did something horrible to Rick Berman in a previous life and this is his revenge: Singing Barbie.). Torres sees Tuvok, who gives her a dirty look and moves away from her, as if afraid to be tainted by her cowardice and dishonor. Tom and B'Elanna talk about her hatred of all things Klingon and she talks briefly of her mother -- how her mother was obsessed with Klingon ritual and history. Torres shares that after her father left, B'Elanna was sent to a Klingon monastery. Meanwhile, every guest at the party is doing things in a "Klingon" manner. Captain Janeway gives a speech and while she is speaking, her speech slows down and the lighting in the room turns red. Klingons charge into the room, but no one sees them. The warriors strike down the crew, save B'Elanna.

Torres wakes up on a boat of some sort. Klingons pick her up and attempt to put a hot poker on her face. Whatever mark it should have made, it does not. B'Elanna learns that she is on the Klingon Barge of the Dead, the ship that takes the dishonored Klingon dead to Grethar (Klingon hell). Torres is able to hear yelling and through it all, she can hear the Captain's and Tom's voices. B'Elanna meets the mythical Kortar, who drives the barge because he was condemned to this eternal monotony for destroying the gods who created him. As Torres lays on the floor of the hull, another soul appears to join them on the Barge. It is B'Elanna's mother!

Suddenly, B'Elanna wakes up in sickbay. She has just been pulled from the shuttle in the ion storm. She has been in a coma. Chakotay comes by and B'Elanna tells him what has happened. She also begins to read the ancient Klingon texts and learns that the sins of the child stain the parents with dishonor as well as themselves. That is why her mother was on the Barge of the Dead. Another interesting thing to note is that the wound that B'Elanna received on her hand while on the Barge was still on her hand in sick bay. This too is mentioned in the Klingon text. The wounds of the afterlife were left on Kahless as a reminder of what is real and what is dream. B'Elanna thinks that this is true for her as well.

Torres asks the Captain's permission to experience a near death simulated accident, so that she can go and save her mother. She has learned what to do from the ancient text. She must accept responsibility for the dishonor, so that her mother can go to Stovelkor. The Captain reluctantly permits B'Elanna to do this. Back in sickbay, the EMH erects a forcefield around Torres so that they can simulate the effects of the ion storm. And suddenly, she is back aboard the Barge - only this time, in a full Klingon wardrobe. She finds her mother and tells her that Torres as thought of a way to get her mother into Stovelkor. B'Elanna will accept responsibility, her mother will go to heaven, and then Torres will be rescued by her crewmates. Her mother thinks this is cheating and that B'Elanna has not changed in the ten years they've been apart. In front of Kortar, B'Elanna accepts responsibility, but he sees right through this and says she must accept for real. She does and the mark from the hot poker transfers itself from her mother to her own face. In sickbay, the neural patterns break down and they are losing B'Elanna.

Suddenly, B'Elanna is in Grethar. She is aboard a modified Voyager. Tuvok hits her and the Doc, in a very altered sickbay, welcomes her aboard. Torres' mother, in Captain Janeway's uniform, comes back and tells B'Elanna to chose life. Neelix and the rest of the crew tell her that they are not her enemy. B'Elanna wakes up in sickbay and throws her arms around the Captain.

Part II of II: The Review

Interesting episode. I give credit to any script that takes on one of the big two: politics and religion.

This episode could been interrupted two different ways (well, probably more). First, B'Elanna hit her head in her shuttle during the ion storm, and hallucinates the first portion of the episode -- the ship, the Klingons and the Barge. She admitted to the Captain that her mother had been on her mind as of late. That incorporates itself into her subconscious and into the hallucination. When the EMH recreates the ion storm, he recreates the conditions for her hallucination and she continues on with it -- kind of willing it to happen, since she wants it so badly. This enables her to resolve quite a bit of conflict within her own life, especially with her mother and with her own Klingon heritage. At the end of this dream, the two women hug and have made up. Even her mother says that B'Elanna could see her back in the Alpha Quadrant OR on Stovelkor. Is she dead or not? Is this our clue that B'Elanna has created all of this in her mind? Is the Klingon metal artifact just a catalyst for B'Elanna's inner turmoil?

The second way of interpretation is a lot less cut and dry. B'Elanna hits her head in the shuttle and hovers near death. Instead of "going toward the light", she first creates a vision of Voyager, not realizing she is dying. That vision of normal life is destroyed and as a dishonored Klingon, Torres arrives at the Barge of the Dead. She is revived by Tom and is pulled back from death. After studying what all of this means, she volunteers to have a second near death experience and goes back to the Barge. She is again pulled back, but this time, she is the one doing the pulling by her resolve to live and perhaps her resolve toward a more honorable (in the eyes of the Klingons) lifestyle -- or at least a respect for her Klingon half. When Torres' mother says that she could see her in the Alpha Quadrant or Stovelkor, what does that mean in this interpretation? ? Is this a test for B'Elanna to pass and her mother was involved in this test? Is her mother not really dead and B'Elanna missed a few paragraphs in the ancient texts that would explain this a bit better? Was her mother also having a near death experience in an attempt to find her daughter or to save her from having to go to hell? Was the artifact a symbol that B'Elanna was really dead and that was her link to the Barge?

Either one could be right and I'm sure that there are other interpretations as well. Personally, I much prefer the second one. Anything is possible and who is to say that legend is not reality? That myth does not live? I will be severely disappointed if, in future episodes, B'Elanna is not somehow changed by this.

There really isn't a lot to say about this episode, as most of it happened either in Klingon afterlife or B'Elanna's mind, but either way, did Seven have to sing? I expect that Cilla's version of hell will be a cold room with no poptarts and the constant sound of Chesty Barbie singing "You Are My Sunshine". AARRGGHH!! I could not imagine a fate worse than that.

As always, I do have a few questions…

1. Why did Chakotay tell B'Elanna that her vision was just symbolic? That is VERY un-Chakotay. Like Animal Guides are any more valid than near death visions? Way to be open-minded, Chuckles.
2. Did you notice that when B'Elanna wakes up in hell, one of the first things she sees in Neelix? LOLOL! I bet that is Tuvok's vision of hell too.
3. I thought that Klingon dishonor passed from parent to child, not the other way around. Some of the Klingon rituals confuse me.
4. Aren't Klingons in the Beta Quadrant? So then, this Klingon metal artifact is NOT a piece of the Alpha Quadrant.
5. Wasn't this a huge ripoff of "Coda"??
6. Interesting that B'Elanna's mother was in the Captain's uniform at the end. Quite telling about B'Elanna's feelings for them both.

Once of the things that I liked most about this episode was that it was so reminiscent of years passed, where the episode was about an ambiguous idea with no clear ending or resolution. It's up to the viewer to decide what happened and along the way of figuring that out, maybe the view might learn something more about herself. "Barge of the Dead" was like the old days aboard NCC-1701-D. :::sigh::: I miss ole Gene R.

Rating: I give this episode an 7.5 out of 9. I would have given it an 8, but I was forced to watch Boobie sing and you know how I hate that. Also, no J/C snuggling in her ready room over tea and vegetarian lasagna. (Yes, I do read too much fanfic. What is your point?). Good job on this episode (despite the obvious flaws). I hope this is an indication of things to come this season. I doubt it is, but I can dream.