Saturday, 22 January 2011

Why won't you die?! #001: Harry Kim

In the first of a regular feature, I explore the seemingly unkillable characters on television by examining situations in which they have died (or at least appeared to have) and returned from. Needless to say, spoilers are held within the jump!

Harry Kim (Star Trek: Voyager)
Died: Season 2, Episode 21 'Deadlock'
Returned: Season 2, Episode 21 'Deadlock'
In the episode, Voyager was accidentally duplicated by a spatial scission phenomenon. The two ships were slightly phased apart from each other, and while each ship was unaware of the others' existence, one of the two fired protons to stabilise first, heavily damaging the other in the process. The Harry Kim from the damaged Voyager was killed after being blown through a hull breach. When the undamaged ship was set to self-destruct, that ship's Harry Kim transferred to the other ship.

Did he deserve to die? 1
No! Not in the slightest. Not only was he a well-rounded character with good morals and (as far as I can recall) consistently written. Harry Kim always represented the good guy in Voyager and seemed to get along with everyone on board, while everyone else seemed to have a beef with someone.

What was the effect of bringing the character back to life? 2
As well as Harry Kim dying on one ship, the newborn child Naomi Wildman died too. So having that Kim transfer to the other ship with Naomi saved both of the characters from being killed in a situation where they otherwise would have been lost forever. Incidentally, while the rest of the self destructed Voyager's crew died and completely disappeared, the original Harry Kim's body was left to float in space. As for the effect on Kim's storyline in the future, the answer is not much, in fact it's pretty much never addressed ever again, but the episode does feature a nice little geek chat between himself and Tom Paris in which he explains it to himself, and everyone else listening in too.

Was it worth it? 25
Killing characters can be a tricky business because you risk splitting your fanbase if it goes wrong. However, bringing someone back can split it even further so it has to be justifiable. In this case it is, as when he comes back he saves Naomi and she later becomes a major character in the show in later seasons so it was completely worth it. [on second thought most of her stories were pretty bad so maybe not] Also, major characters rarely truly died in Voyager, and any Star Trek series for that matter so showing one die is huge even if, by matter of technicality, he was able to come back within the 40 minute running time.

Should he have stayed dead? 5
I have two opinions on this. One is that yes, of course he should have stayed dead, I can't think of any one of the main cast who died while in service of Voyager, and I would have loved it if someone had died. They didn't really like to mess with continuity though, and you only need to read up on Ronald D Moore's experience with trying and failing to change that mindset to see what I mean. On the other hand, while most characters on Voyager easily went from enjoyable to completely rubbish within the space of one episode, it was very, very hard to dislike Harry Kim and killing him is the complete opposite direction from where I would have taken him. B'Elanna Torres on the other hand?

Next Time: Battlestar Galactica's Starbuck
Carl England

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