(written from a Production point of view)
|VOY, Episode 3x16|
Production number: 157
First aired: 5 February 1997
|←||56th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||57th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||452nd of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
B'Elanna Torres experiences symptoms similar to the pon farr after being attacked by Ensign Vorik who is also undergoing the blood fever.
- "Captain's log, stardate 50537.2. Routine scans of an uninhabited star system have revealed the presence of gallicite, a very rare substance, on the fourth planet."
USS Voyager comes into orbit around an apparently-uninhabited planet that has been detected to contain gallicite, a substance that can be used to refit the ship's warp coils. Closer sensor sweeps reveal at least a kiloton of the material, more than enough to do the job. There also appears to be an abandoned colony site on the planet. Captain Janeway places B'Elanna Torres in charge of an operation to potentially collect and utilize the gallicite. Janeway advises her to involve Neelix, as he has mining experience.
In engineering, Torres and Ensign Vorik are examining the gallicite deposits further and find artificial tunnels, suggesting past mining operations. After they are finished with their examination, much to Torres' dismay, Vorik asks Torres to be his mate, rewording it into Human terms as "proposing marriage". On top of her objection that the proposal is too sudden, Torres remembers that Vulcans typically have arranged marriages but Vorik notes that his betrothed likely considers him lost and would have chosen a different mate by now. After repeated rebuffs of his advances, Vorik attacks Torres, attempting to place her in a mind meld. Torres is able to break away from Vorik, punching him in the face and knocking him across Main Engineering.
In sickbay, The Doctor diagnoses Vorik as having a dislocated jaw and a neurochemical imbalance which he must discuss with Vorik privately. Torres leaves disgusted, after which The Doctor reveals to Vorik that he is going through pon farr. Vorik's distress upon hearing the diagnosis suggests it is his very first pon farr, which can be particularly dangerous to those who are not experienced at mitigating their own symptoms. The Doctor has extremely little information on pon farr and requests in vain for any information. Somewhat embarrassed and determined to deal with it himself, Vorik requests medical confinement to quarters and is fitted with a cortical monitor.
The Doctor goes to the only other person who could possibly help the ensign: Lt. Commander Tuvok. But even he is unwilling to discuss things with The Doctor, leading The Doctor to make the very Human judgment that Vulcans have a Victorian attitude toward sex. Tuvok does say that Vorik only has three alternatives to death: taking a mate, fighting for a mate or intense meditation. He feels that attempting to intervene would be counter-productive.
Torres, Neelix and Lt. jg Tom Paris meet in a transporter room where Torres informs the other two that Vorik will not be joining them on the surface. They examine the route they will be taking to the most accessible, useful vein of gallicite and beam down. Neelix and Paris take note of Torres' unusually cheerful attitude. As they move toward their destination, Neelix finds a colony. Though it suggests it has only been abandoned for fifty to sixty years, it is in bad decay. Paris wants to explore it but Torres suggests, almost flirtatiously, that Paris wants to delay showing off his climbing ability in the gallicite caves. They all head off towards the caves.
In the caves, they find that the tunnels are steeper than they expected. They put their fusing pitons into the rocks and descend. However, Neelix's piton breaks and he falls, pulling Torres off the face as well. Neelix injures his knee in the landing and Torres yells at him for nearly getting them all killed. Paris tries to get Torres to calm down, noting that he checked Neelix's rigging work and that his piton must have malfunctioned. Torres decides to continue the mission on her own, even though Neelix has to return to the ship. Paris tries to stop her but she bites him on the neck and runs away. Paris stays with Neelix and reports the situation to Voyager.
Upon being briefed by Paris as to the situation, including Torres' unusual behavior, Janeway orders a second away team for rescue. Tuvok delays however, suspecting he knows what is wrong with Torres. He goes to Vorik's quarters and tries to get him to reconstruct the earlier events with Torres. Vorik states that it was difficult to remember but he recalls putting his hands to her face. Tuvok figures out that Vorik initiated a mind meld in an attempt to establish a telepathic mating bond. He surmises that the mind meld awoke in Torres her compatible Klingon mating instincts (are very similar to pon farr and potentially just as dangerous to herself and others). Vorik wants to help her but Tuvok advises the younger Vulcan to continue his meditative efforts, suggesting that Torres would not want his help.
Cmdr. Chakotay and Tuvok go to the surface and brief Paris on Torres' potentially life-threatening situation. As Neelix is taken to safety, Chakotay, Tuvok and Paris go after Torres. They find her deeper in the caves, where she has discovered live artificial lighting circuitry in the richest deposits of gallicite. The crew, for the moment, is more concerned about helping Torres but she is unaware of what's going on with her, growing increasingly more irritated and angry. She can't understand why the others are acting the way they are. Right then, aliens appear, holding weapons.
The aliens confront the away team, asking what they want on their planet. Chakotay tries to assure the aliens that they mean no harm. The aliens are suspicious of Torres but Tuvok tries to assure them she is ill and they are trying to get her to safety. Chakotay tells the aliens they thought the planet was uninhabited. The head alien is permitted to examine a phaser and confirms that their tricorders did not previously detect any life forms.
Suddenly, a seismic alarm sounds and the aliens warn them that the walls are unstable. One of the aliens tries to push Torres to safety and is attacked. As an earthquake occurs, the aliens disappear with Chakotay and Tuvok, while Paris tries to calm Torres down. Neither the aliens nor Chakotay and Tuvok can be detected, revealing a jamming field that blocks life signs. Paris promises to explain to Torres what's wrong with her but insists they have to get to the ship before trying to find Chakotay and Tuvok.
In sickbay, Vorik has returned to The Doctor, who injects a hypospray to regulate Vorik's serotonin levels. He also has postulated a possible course for regulation of symptoms but Vorik is still reluctant to accept help. The Doctor advises that, in Voyager's current situation, he may need all the help that he can get from his friends onboard. The Doctor takes Vorik to a holodeck, where he suggests he use a holographic Vulcan female named T'Pera to deal with his "urges". Vorik disdains mating with a hologram because "she isn't real", but seeing no alternatives, suggests he may try it.
Underground, Torres is trying to make sense of what Paris is telling her. Paris is aware that a bite like she gave him could be an initiation of a Klingon mating ritual. Torres is uncertain of what to do and unwilling to have anything to do with Vorik. Paris assures Torres that The Doctor should be able to help her. When they come to a blockage caused by the earlier tremor, Paris stops Torres from trying to blast it open with a phaser rifle. In the struggle over the rifle, Paris realizes she is initiating a mating ritual with him and resists her actions, even when she begs him to give in. Paris asks her to fight her urges as long as possible, unwilling to take advantage of her when she's vulnerable.
In a hidden tunnel, one of the aliens, a Sakari named Ishan, interrogates Tuvok and Chakotay, wanting to know everything about them, their ship and their technology. He takes particular interest in an artificial joint in one of Tuvok's elbows. Chakotay wants to know why the Sakari have taken such great lengths to avoid detection. Ishan says that invaders came long before he was born and destroyed the Sakari civilization. The survivors have hidden underground ever since. Chakotay offers Voyager's help to improve their concealment techniques – particularly the concealment of their gallicite, which is how Voyager found them, and remove the remaining surface traces of their civilization. Ishan agrees but states that the visitors will be supervised at all times. Then, the Sakari's seismic alert sounds again.
A partial cave-in occurs where Torres and Paris are trapped. They are okay but the rifle has been buried, hindering their escape. Torres has a moment of weakness and resumes her advances on Paris. She states that she thinks he wants her as bad as she wants him but he is still unwilling to give in. Torres challenges him, telling how she knows he has some feelings for her. She begs him not to push her away, claiming that she does feel the same way. They finally kiss but Paris regains his wits, leaving Torres frustrated by his unwillingness to help by mating with her.
On Voyager, The Doctor returns to the holodeck where he sees Vorik, who appears more relaxed. He suggests that the holoprogram has helped and wants to return to duty. The Doctor isn't ready to release him to work yet. The Doctor reports to Janeway and suggests that the holodeck might work with Torres as well. He intends to write a study about the various races' mating rituals, purely "from a socio-biological point of view".
In the caves, Torres' agony is starting to worsen, to the point of short-term amnesia. Chakotay and Tuvok finally clear the rocks from the other side of the tunnel and get Paris and Torres to the surface. When they arrive however, they find communications with Voyager are down. Tuvok notices Torres' condition and tells Paris that the only solution is for he and Torres to mate. If they do not he surmises, Torres will die. Paris agrees and Tuvok and Chakotay give them their privacy.
Off in the surrounding forest, he and Torres begin to give in to the urges. Before they get too far however, they are interrupted by an enraged Vorik, who has beamed to the surface and is now determined to mate with Torres at any cost. He calls to Tuvok and declares his intention to initiate the koon-ut-kal-if-fee, a ritual challenge to win Torres' hand in marriage. He wants to fight Paris to the death, a challenge everyone knows Paris will lose. Vorik reveals that he was the one that disabled communications, to stop any interference.
Torres prevents a tragedy by declaring herself her own champion, a right Tuvok confirms that she has. Vorik and Torres fight and Torres ultimately knocks Vorik unconscious after a long and vicious hand-to-hand battle. Torres, exhausted, falls into Paris's arms. The fight clears both Torres and Vorik of their blood fever and they are out of harm's way.
- "Captain's log, stardate 50541.6. We're following through with Chakotay's offer to help the Sakari improve their camouflage and they've agreed to supply us with a generous quantity of gallicite."
Back onboard, Paris and Torres run into each other on a turbolift. While both feeling uneasy regarding recent events, she tells him the retrofitting of the warp coils is going well. Paris halts the turbolift and they talk through what happened, taking into account that they will likely be on the ship together for a very long time. Paris states bluntly that he didn't think Torres' Klingon side was that frightening and that he welcomed the possibility of seeing it again some day. As she leaves the turbolift on her level, Torres amicably warns him to be careful what he wishes for.
On the surface of the planet, Chakotay sends an urgent hail to Captain Janeway to beam down to his coordinates. He has found something she absolutely needs to see. When she arrives, he takes her to some bushes and pulls them aside to reveal what he has found: the ancient remains of one of the invaders who destroyed the Sakari civilization. Janeway immediately recognizes them in horror. They are the remains of a Borg drone.
"I have always had great respect for B'Elanna. I hope she isn't too... upset with me."
"With Lieutenant Torres, upset is a relative term."
- – Vorik and The Doctor
"For such an intellectually enlightened race, Vulcans have a remarkably Victorian attitude about sex!"
- – The Doctor to Tuvok
"I tried to stop her from leaving captain, but she got very hostile and eh...bit me."
- – Tom Paris
"Lieutenant Torres has never been a great follower of logic."
- – Tuvok
"B'Elanna, stop it! This isn't about the gun, this is about sex. But that's not gonna happen right now."
- – Tom Paris to B'Elanna Torres, fighting over the phaser rifle
"When we get back to the ship, the Doctor should be able to help. Or there's always Vorik.."
"I am not helping that Vulcan petaQ!"
- – Tom Paris and B'Ellana Torres
"I'll get to work designing the half-Klingon version of the program. There's a copious amount of information in the cultural database about their mating practices. Did you know that fracturing a clavicle on the wedding night is actually considered a blessing on the marriage?"
- – The Doctor
"Are you telling me that I'm impossible to resist?"
"I wouldn't go that far."
- – Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres
"I know this is a pretty bizarre situation. Probably not what either one of us had in mind."
"Tom, be quiet."
- - Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres
"So, this is the part where you throw heavy objects at me?"
- – Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres
"What are you doing?"
"Then show it!"
- – B'Elanna Torres and Tom Paris, after getting his first taste of the Klingon concept of sex
"You're my mate, not his!"
- – Vorik
"No one will keep me from my mate!"
- – Vorik
"If anyone is going to smash your arrogant little face in, I will! I take your challenge myself!"
- – B'Elanna Torres to Vorik
"You're afraid that your big, scary Klingon side might have been showing. Well, I saw it up close and you know, it wasn't so terrible. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing it again someday."
"Careful what you wish for, Lieutenant."
- – Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres
"We found this as we were clearing away the ruins. Undoubtedly, one of the invaders who destroyed this colony."
- – Chakotay to Captain Janeway, after finding the skeleton of a Borg drone under a bush.
Story and Script
- According to executive producer Jeri Taylor, this episode of Star Trek: Voyager involved a much anticipated theme but took a while to be written, at least partly because the writers wished to defy expectations. At the time, she said, "Everyone has been wondering when we were going to do [a pon farr episode], and one of the reasons we hadn't was because we could not think of a fresh way of doing it. Everybody expects that Tuvok is going to be going through the pon farr, and that's not what we do. We have a very offbeat approach to it." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- In fact, the producers initially wanted this episode to feature Tuvok experiencing the pon farr that B'Elanna Torres ultimately goes through. Actor Tim Russ explained, "There are a lot of factors that come into play that made it problematic for me to be involved in that, such as the fact that Tuvok has already got a wife and children. For an 8:00 p.m. family show, adultery would not be a very good thing for this character to partake in!" (Star Trek Monthly issue 41, p. 28) The change to B'Elanna suffering from the condition made a lot of sense to episode writer Lisa Klink; she agreed with Russ that, because Tuvok was married with children, "the idea of even suggesting that he would mate with someone else just seemed to be unattractive." Accounting for the writing staff's decision to use B'Elanna Torres as the alternative, Klink stated, "Because of the half-Klingon, half-human struggle that she always goes through, it certainly seemed like she was someone who had a lot of sexual energy to vent. That whole Klingon side of herself that she represses, is actually not unlike the way Vulcans tend to suppress their emotional side. So it seemed fairly credible that if you could remove your emotional control in the same way, you'd get the same kind of reaction." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 105)
- Apparently, the story then changed to Tuvok helping Torres through the pon farr, before Tom Paris was made more central to the plot. Paris actor Robert Duncan McNeill remarked, "Originally that episode was written for B'Elanna to go into pon farr and to be trapped in the caves with Tuvok, who would help her go through this and deal with it because he's Vulcan and he's been through it. At the very last minute, literally like the day before we started shooting that episode, they thought, 'Why don't we make it Tom Paris and B'Elanna trapped, and let's see what happens with that.' So they made this change." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 58) At the end of the third season, Lisa Klink accounted for this alteration: "We've been trying to play this thing with her being attracted to Paris. This seemed like a good way to advance that, because if she did go about choosing a mate, that might be very well who she chooses." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 105)
- The first draft of this episode's script was delivered on 9 October 1996. (Star Trek Monthly issue 25) The episode's final script draft was submitted on 18 October 1996. 
- Fledgling director Andrew Robinson (who is best known for playing Elim Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, for which he had previously directed the episode "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places") received this episode's first draft script on 9 October 1996. He had barely two careful reads through of the script before he, during the following day, had to attend the episode's first production meeting (at which all the departments customarily analyzed the script and questioned the script's particulars from their own perspective). Although he hurried out of the meeting to catch a flight to London for the Assimilation Convention which would be held that weekend, Robinson immersed himself in the script during his travels. He later recalled, "My brain was swimming with a thousand and one questions and no solutions as well as beginning to grapple with the main task of visualizing the story. The two long plane rides, to and from London, turned out to be an unexpected blessing: I immersed myself in Lisa Klink's provocative script and came up for air only at mealtimes." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25) Robinson felt that the script was great and that its story was good. (Delta Quadrant, p. 167)
- Andrew Robinson also believed, however, that one of the two biggest challenges he was presented with – upon signing on to direct this episode – was how to make the pon farr phenomenon believable. He felt that the most important scene, in terms of both this aspect and the story in general, was the one wherein B'Elanna almost manages to seduce a conflicted Paris while both are trapped in a cave; Robinson related that was "a scene I consider to be the heart and soul of the story (and the one that was the most dangerous in terms of credibility)." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- Andrew Robinson ultimately took a moral from this episode, regarding sexuality. He explained, "For me, this story had an important and dangerous [...] mythic theme: We all have to confront and explore our sexuality which requires that we descend into the 'caves' of our subconsciousness." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- Andrew Robinson believed that the only way to overcome the problem of making the pon farr phenomenon convincing was to gain the trust of the performers (particularly Vorik actor Alexander Enberg, Robert Duncan McNeill and, most especially, B'Elanna actress Roxann Dawson). In turn, the cast made a definite impression on Robinson during the making of this episode. He noted, "If I didn't know it when I started this episode, I certainly found out on 'Blood Fever' just how valuable it is to listen to actors and their input." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- Roxann Dawson believed Lisa Klink deserved high praise for writing such a multi-layered script as the one for this episode. (Delta Quadrant, p. 167) After Dawson and Robert Duncan McNeill received the episode's teleplay, one of the first things they did was to discuss the arc of the script and how they viewed the installment as the starting point to an ongoing relationship. "It really comes down to the actors interpreting what's on the page," Dawson commented. "Robbie and I wanted to make sure that certain elements were there and, also, we didn't want to overstep any boundaries." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #12) McNeill noted, "Roxann and I were talking about this relationship and where it's gonna go from that episode and in the future." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 58) During production, the pair of actors incorporated these conversations into their performances when playing their scenes together. (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #12)
- With Paris' role in the episode having been changed from being Tuvok, Robert Duncan McNeill had some concerns over his character. "I wanted to make sure Tom didn't come off as a little too, you know... he's attracted to her, and she's saying, 'Help me, help me.' So he's turning her down, but there weren't a lot of reasons for that [as far as I could see]. That was my complaint all along. I kept saying, 'Why does he keep saying no? If he's gonna say no, let's make it really hard for him, and really get to the limit but have some good reasons why he thinks this is a bad time. Let's walk that thin line and get as close to the edge there as much as we can, and then not follow through.'" (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 58)
- Roxann Dawson thought this episode was notable for exhibiting facets of her character as an individual. "In 'Blood Fever', we really explored many aspects that were very particular to B'Elanna but not necessarily particular to Klingons or chief engineers in general," Dawson explained, before adding, "We're discovering that she's not just strong in the masculine sense, but that she can be sexual and feminine and interested in learning more about herself." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #12) Dawson also said of "Blood Fever", "B'Elanna goes through a lot in that show, and you get to see a few sides of her that we either hadn't seen at all before or that we'd only hinted at in previous episodes." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- This episode required some bravery from Roxann Dawson. She explained, "It demanded a kind of courage that I did not know if I had. I took risks there, and I'm glad I did. I hope people think those risks paid off." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #12)
- Both Robert Duncan McNeill and Roxann Dawson enjoyed this episode. McNeill cited the episode as one of his favorites from the first three seasons of Star Trek: Voyager. (Star Trek Monthly issue 37, p. 44) He also noted, "I think 'Blood Fever' when B'Elanna gets Pon farr was really good." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 112, p. 56) McNeill elaborated, "I think we ended up with an episode that was exciting, that was very sexy at times, and that was funny at other times [....] That was a really exciting episode. It was one of my favorites to do." (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, pp. 58 & 59) In a retrospective interview, Roxann Dawson agreed, "'Blood Fever' was a very fun episode to shoot. I think that we all had fun [....] I haven't seen that episode in a while, but I'd love to go back and look at that, because the shooting of it was a blast. We had a lot of fun." (Braving the Unknown: Season Three, VOY Season 3 DVD special features) The actress also noted, "That was an extraordinary experience." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #12) She similarly enthused that this installment "was definitely one of my most interesting episodes." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25) In fact, Roxann Dawson enjoyed not only this installment, including the act of working on it, but also the work that Robert Duncan McNeill invested in the episode, describing him as a "real trooper." (Delta Quadrant, p. 167)
- This is the second of two Star Trek: Voyager episodes in which Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) does not appear, the first being the earlier third season episode "Fair Trade". Partly due to his absence in that episode, this episode is also the second of three Voyager installments that do not feature Harry Kim; he is seen only as an illusion in the Season 6 episode "Barge of the Dead".
- Due to the last-minute rewrite of Tuvok scenes becoming Tom Paris moments, essentially every scene had to be revised during production. "We were kind of rewriting scene-by-scene as we were shooting," Robert Duncan McNeill explained, "because you know, [the original version] was a very different story, and they had to deal with a lot of sexual tension and things going on with Tom and B'Elanna." It was these on-the-spot rewrites that concerned McNeill about there being sufficient reasoning for his character to be turning B'Elanna down. (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 58) Although the rewrites added a degree of pressure to the filming, McNeill suspected that they perhaps made the shooting company (the cast and crew) compensate, ultimately making for a better story. (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, pp. 58 & 59)
- Andrew Robinson felt that the second of the two biggest problems that presented themselves to him, when he signed on to direct this episode, (the first being the challenge of making the story's use of pon farr credible) was how to handle a five-day shoot on Paramount Stage 16 (Star Trek's frequently-reused cave setting) while remaining conscious of the limits given to him. In Robinson's own words, the challenge was "how to shoot in the Stage 16 (known as 'Planet Hell') caves for five days without destroying the budget, schedule and my fledging film directing career." He added, "For someone with my lack of experience this was a daunting technical challenge." A related problem was how to justify casting enough light on the actors, in the caves, for them to be seen; this was problematic due to the fact that, in a real cave, there is typically no natural source of light. (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- The first day of production on this episode was 22 October 1996, at which time the scenes involving Janeway, The Doctor and Tuvok in The Doctor's office and sickbay were filmed. Robinson said of the first day's shooting, "This was a blessing to begin the show with Robert Picardo, Tim Russ and my old friend and comrade Kate Mulgrew [....] These three made the first day of shooting a problem-free delight. This was a relief, because my first day of the DS9 episode I had directed ('Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places') was memorable in that all my worst fears were manifested [....] So working with the three of them was a collaboration of the highest order." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- The second day of production started with filming on the Voyager bridge set. According to Robinson, this day "went just as smoothly [as the first one]." The day later moved on to a scene involving Vorik and B'Elanna Torres as well as the first time (in the episode) when the pon farr element of the story is introduced. Robinson recalled, "The big scene that day was the one in which Vorik puts his move on Torres and she knocks him down to defend herself [....] We shot the scene on the second level of Engineering to give the characters a needed sense of isolation. Both actors were understandably nervous about how we were going to establish the plot point upon which the entire story rests. As we were trying to work out the physical action of Vorik's 'move', Roxann and I got into a disagreement over how Torres would react to it [....] I did not agree with her choice, but after I stated my case as clearly as possible and she still didn't agree with me I accepted the way she wanted to play the moment and we filmed it. It worked and the scene played quite credibly [....] The pon farr was launched... and so was our working relationship." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- The third day of filming included the scenes in the Paxau Resort holoprogram and the scene in which Tuvok visits Vorik in his quarters while the latter is undergoing the pon farr. During filming of the scene set in Vork's quarters, Tim Russ was instrumental in deciding how Vorik and Tuvok should interact. "We had to figure out, 'Well, how would they behave, towards each other?' [....] It was nice," Russ reminisced. "We played the scene together where, when I worked it out with the writers, I said, 'Well, how will we do this? How can we make this happen? Well, we should... I think that they should be very uncomfortable, in the presence of each other. Not even look each other in the eye, very easily. Avoid each other's gaze and be very aloof with each other, very distant from each other, very cold. Whatever needs to be done and then we get out. It's very uncomfortable, for both of us. And that's how we should play it.' So we came up with this moment." (VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- Another suggestion that Tim Russ made, regarding the same scene, was to Andrew Robinson. According to the director, this suggestion "turned out to be my first classic Star Trek shot." Robinson further explained, "In the scene between Vorik and Tuvok, I was going to cover the end of the scene in a conventional way with two Overs (an Over is a medium close shot in which an actor is shot 'over the shoulder' of the other actor in the foreground side of the frame). Tim suggested that I instead cover the end with a shot that held both actors in profile. Since they're Vulcans, it's a shot about ears." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- The next five days were spent filming the cave scenes. To overcome the problem regarding lighting in the caves, Robinson helped think up some solutions. He related, "We came up with three answers: One, we cheated and created a mysterious glow that provides a minimum illusion; two, we gave the actors lights they wore on their wrists called Simms Lights; and three, I made the decision to shoot everything in the caves with a hand-held camera. My rationale for the last choice was that the crew members are in a dangerous and disorienting place when they go beneath the planet's surface and therefore the unfixed and nervous quality of the hand-held camera (as opposed to a camera 'on sticks' or on a smooth dolly track) would reflect their subjective state." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25) Robinson also felt that hand-held camera usage for the intense interactions between Tom and B'Elanna in the caves would lend an intimacy to the goings-on. (Delta Quadrant, p. 167) His plan of using a hand-held camera was approved. "Fortunately, the director of photography, Marvin Rush, embraced the idea," the director said. In fact, Robinson not only had a good working relationship with Rush but had also previously worked with him on the DS9 episode "The Wire", for which Rush had extensively hand-held the camera, proving to Robinson that Rush was more than competent at utilizing the filming style. (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- The decision to use a mostly hand-held shooting format had a great impact on the way the footage was filmed, even down to how the performers interacted with the camera. After referring to this way of shooting as "interesting," Roxann Dawson continued, "Marvin Rush [...] was there with us, alone basically, in very tight spaces in this cave. And a lot of the camera movements and a lot of the blocking was improvised with natural lighting. We were in dark caves with flashlights, and we basically choreographed the fight scenes, the fight/love scenes, to light each other's faces with the flashlights. And he would work with us, our Director of Photography, as a kind of three-person dance. And we would be struggling and the camera would be right there. And we'd know that, as we landed here, as [Robert Duncan McNeill] had a line, the camera would move to him and my flashlight would have to light his face, you know? And the struggle would bring the flashlight onto my face. And it became this great dance that we had. A lot of physicality was all choreographed and improvised within boundaries, and I think that's what gave it the life." (Braving the Unknown: Season Three, VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- At one point during the shoot on the cave set, Robert Duncan McNeill played a practical joke on Roxann Dawson by making "rabbit ears" over her head. (Star Trek Magazine issue 119, p. 84)
- The conditions on Stage 16 provided certain obstacles. Andrew Robinson recalled that being "in the hand-held camera mode [...] means that Marvin Rush hoisted that heavy piece of equipment onto his shoulder all day and night." Robinson also explained, "This was challenging film-making for everyone involved. We had to simulate a claustrophobic, subterranean world that was seismically active. We were constantly working in dusty, confined places with little room for technicians, actors and equipment." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- The filming crew's achievements on the first of the days on Stage 16 impressed Andrew Robinson, however. "Usually in television," he remarked, "a heavy day will consist of 15-20 camera set-ups. On the first day in the caves we did 40! [....] The crew's co-ordinated work effort that day can only be compared to a beehive or an ant colony." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- Andrew Robinson was also wowed by the filming of the scene in which B'Elanna almost manages to seduce Paris. Of this scene, the director reported, "Marvin and the actors were so in tune with each other during the filming that it nearly plays in one shot. And this is a long scene with plenty of physical action in which we had such a lighting problem that Robbie had to function as a lighting person with his Simms Light. (In fact, Robbie did this several times when it was crucial to see Roxann's face.)" (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- Roxann Dawson enjoyed her involvement in the rock climbing of this episode. Shortly afterwards, she recalled, "The other day, they had me rappelling for a scene we were shooting. That was so cool. It's one of the neat things about being an actor. You don't have to know how to do something and you don't really have to practice it. They just had me do it. Of course, I was protected, and a stuntwoman would have done anything that would have been too dangerous for me to do." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #12)
- Although the rock climbing also involved Neelix, Andrew Robinson found that most of the scenes inside the caves were between B'Elanna and Paris. "The burden of the acting fell on Roxann and Robbie," he observed. "They climbed, crawled, fought and carried the main artery of the story. The hot air in the confined spaces was filled with dust choking everyone's noses, eyes and throats. Yet their concentration on the work rarely wavered. In fact, because of the physical difficulties there was an energized spontaneity in the acting." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25)
- Ultimately, Andrew Robinson was not only satisfied by the work accomplished by the cast and crew, despite the difficult conditions, but also believed that the success of the cave scenes made the story, including the pon farr plot element, more believable. "We found that the problems were so related," he said, "that the solution of one (the caves) largely led to the solution of the other (pon farr and its affect), and the eventual realization of the story's theme." (Star Trek Monthly issue 25) Robinson also felt that the episode was of vital importance to his learning curve as a director. "'Blood Fever' was pivotal," he opined. "That was the show that really made me realize that not only could I direct, but that I wanted to." (Star Trek Monthly issue 40, p. 20)
- This episode's exploration of pon farr is a return to the concept, as the idea was originally conceived and executed in "Amok Time", an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series' second season. According to Tim Russ, this episode gave an opportunity to explore several questions about the concept, some having been answered in the earlier episode. After noting that a moment such as the quarters scene between Tuvok and Vorik – an encounter between two Vulcans, with one of them enduring pon farr – had "not been exposed, really, or shown before that," Russ asked, "What are the other cultural aspects of pon farr? I mean, what about the marriages? You know, if they're betrothed to someone when they're born, what happens if they're not, if that falls through? What happens if they reject, if one of the other partners reject? Can they marry outside their race, as was done in the original series? What's the cause and effect for it? We had to make it up; we had to create this back-story, so that was part of the aspects of, you know, designing and building upon what we already had, as far as the philosophy of this character." (VOY Season 3 DVD special features)
- According to Vorik in this episode, there are seventy-three male crew members aboard Voyager. As he is speaking in context of potential mates for Torres and given his later stated disdain for mating with holograms, he is probably not including The Doctor.
- Vorik's interest in Torres is hinted at in the previous episode, "Alter Ego". In that episode, he reserves a table for just the two of them during a luau in the holodeck.
- This episode considerably develops the relationship between Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, they having initially flirted in the earlier third season installment "The Swarm". For Jeri Taylor, this arc was a highlight of Star Trek: Voyager's third season. Shortly after the fourth season entered production, she remarked, "I thought that our arc that culminated in 'Blood Fever' [...] was very successful, and really kind of set in motion a little dance between Tom and B'Elanna that we definitely intend to continue this season." (Star Trek Monthly issue 31, p. 11) The relationship between Paris and Torres ultimately culminated in their marriage in the Season 7 episode "Drive" and the birth of their daughter, Miral, in the series finale "Endgame".
- When Chakotay shows Janeway the remains of the deceased Borg drone at the end of this episode, the moment constituted the first appearance of any Borg since the release of the Borg-centric film Star Trek: First Contact and is also the first appearance of the Borg in the entirety of Star Trek: Voyager. Although the crew of the starship Voyager was probably fated to encounter the Borg at some point (due to both groups being present in the Delta Quadrant), the release of the aforementioned movie influenced their return here. According to Brannon Braga, the decision to wait until a while after the movie's release before featuring the Borg on Star Trek: Voyager was made because the producers wanted to give the film "its breathing room" and avoid making the Borg's reappearance on Voyager redundant. (Braving the Unknown: Season Three, VOY Season 3 DVD; Star Trek Monthly issue 20) The discovery of the Borg corpse also represents the first foreshadowing that Voyager's crew are nearing Borg space. The Borg make two subsequent reappearances in the third season, featuring in the very next episode, "Unity", and the season finale "Scorpion".
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.6 million homes, and a 7% share. 
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 29, No. 6/7, p. 104)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 4 out of 5 stars, defined as "Trill-powered viewing". (Star Trek Monthly issue 28, p. 57)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 169) gives this installment a rating of 0 out of 10.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 3.8, 23 June 1997.
- As part of the VOY Season 3 DVD collection.
Links and references
- Elle Alexander as a Sakari
- Ted Barba as a Sakari
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Louis Ortiz as a Sakari
- Amy Jo Traicoff as T'Pera
- George Colucci as stunt double for Ethan Phillips
- Phil Culotta as stunt double for Alexander Enberg
- Jim Hart as stunt double for Robert Duncan McNeill
- Leslie Hoffman as stunt double for Roxann Dawson
Borg drone; clavicle; cortical monitor; cortical scan; fusing piton; gallicite; geo-spectral analysis kit; holodeck; kiloton; Klingon; Klingon mating rituals; koon-ut-kal-if-fee; koon-ut-so'lik; Lang; laser drill; logic; Milky Way Galaxy; microcellular scan; mining; Osana caverns; Paxau Resort; pon farr; Sakari; serotonin; T'Pera; tricorder; turbolift; Vulcans; Vulcan (planet); Vulcan mating rituals; warp coil
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