Star Trek character
Kes is a fictional character on the American science fiction television show Star Trek: Voyager portrayed by actress Jennifer Lien. Set in the 24th century, the series follows the Starfleet and Maquis crew of the starship USS Voyager who are stranded in the Delta Quadrant, far from the rest of the Federation. Kes is a member of the Ocampa, an alien species that are telepathic and have an average life expectancy of nine years. She joins Voyager's crew in the pilot episode alongside her Talaxian boyfriend Neelix. During the show, she works as the Doctor's medical assistant and develops her mental abilities with Tuvok's assistance.
Producers originally envisioned the Ocampa as androgynous, but this was abandoned when Lien was cast. She was selected based on her youthful appearance. Series creator Michael Piller said Kes was supposed to encourage audiences to empathize with Neelix, although the cast and crew questioned how their relationship was represented. Research on parapsychology was commissioned to establish how Kes' mental abilities should be portrayed and developed throughout the show. Michael Westmore created ear prosthetics for the Ocampa. Lien, however, stopped wearing them after developing an allergy to it in the third season.
Lien was removed from the fourth season to allow for Jeri Ryan's introduction as Seven of Nine. Critics believed Garrett Wang, who played Harry Kim, was initially set to be cut instead. The show's writing staff regretted removing Kes from the series, and actor Kate Mulgrew, who played Kathryn Janeway, disliked the decision. Lien returned for a season six episode, "Fury", and Kes was featured in novels and short stories adapted from the show.
Critical response to Kes was negative, though some critics praised Lien's performance. Commentators cited the character as underdeveloped. Kes' relationship with Neelix was panned, while her friendships with Tuvok and Tom Paris received more mixed to positive reactions. Reviews for Kes' storyline in the season two episode "Elogium", in which she prematurely enters a reproductive state, were mixed; critics mostly disliked Kes' return in "Fury".
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