When word got out that there would be a Voyager cast reunion on Las Vegas Star Trek Con in August 2012 the excitement was huge. But with news of both Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran appearing, it got even bigger. At least in all those shipper and fan communities who were always dedicated to J/C and to some extent also to KM/RB – because it is so much easier to ship a couple when the actors get along well.
Over the years, there were many rumors about the nature of the relationship between Mulgrew and Beltran – now and all those years back. In an interview Beltran himself stated that he was single during the Voyager years; and we know that Mulgrew had her share of (not long lasting) relationships.
Despite all that knowledge – or even lack of the same – always around was this one rumor that KM & RB had an affair once, around the time of season two/three. And that it all went down the tubes – including their friendship. It was speculated throughout the years that those two don’t like each other anymore, and that this is one reason why J/C never got their chance in the show.
People never got tired of talking about it, discussion the topic over and over again, even though there was no way to get any new information (or any reliable information to start with). Besides, for most of us this was never about gossiping or intruding the personal lives of either KM or RB – it was pure curiosity about a couple we wanted to see together in the show, and as it often happens, people tend to see the actors on the same level as the characters, and therefore start to ship the actors as well. It is a logical reaction, a logical way of thinking.
Now, whatever happened – or not happened – between them we’ll never know. But no one can judge us on looking and interpreting what we see.
The con in Las Vegas didn’t only have a special photo op that offered a picture with both KM & RB (and I really envy all those who had the chance to get such a photo…), it also had a Voyager reunion panel with KM, RB, Tim Russ, Robert Duncan McNeill, Roxann Dawson, Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo.
And what did they do? Whether it was their own decision, or organized like this by the con – KM & RB sat next to each other. A shout-out to every fan, every shipper, who wants to see the same in it. Certainly did it give those two the opportunity to react adequately to questions concerning J/C:
Adam: About the Janeway Chakotay relationship…?
Kate and Robert: *Move closer together, stare into each other’s eyes*
Robert: Does this look familiar?
Kate: Who would have run the ship?
Robert: I would have let her! For the sake of peace!
Kate: Alright, Commander Chakotay, in my ready room! Now!
Adam: But seriously, I mean, seven years, unconsummated.
Kate: He did! He consummated!
Robbie McNeill: We had little lizard babies!
But it also gave us the chance to read their body language. And that showed clearly that they do like each other. They are friends. How deep their friendship goes doesn’t matter. But they don’t hate each other, as it is sometimes claimed. Because while words are as patient as is paper, body language is always a dead giveaway – unless you are especially trained to pretend. I doubt those two are, as much as I trust especially KM to be capable of.
But this picture says more than a thousand words, a decade and longer of discussions among fans:
You can see them slightly turned towards each other. You can see Kate with her legs crossed towards Robert, and you can see Robert leaning to her side, where he, listening to someone on the other side of the room it seems, could also lean to the other side and therefore closer to the one talking. Of course is this speculative interpretation, but it nevertheless also is body language 101. A body language that speaks of two people who like each other.
And in the end, you also have this picture that probably doesn’t need another single word of interpretation. Some things you don’t do just like that.
Me, it makes happy to see them as friends. I admit that I kind of ship those two -resulting from shipping J/C, as explained above. But most important to me it is to see that they get along well, because I know how it is to work in a TV production, and I know how close people get there. It’s a family, it’s deep friendships, and if this is missing, then something has gone completely wrong, and I just never wanted and/or wished that for those two, since they made such an adorable (non-) couple on screen.
We don’t know what people are behind the characters, we don’t know those actors and actresses personally; but many people feel the desire to see those they like and adore for what they do (actors, singers etc.) happy, and that includes friendships.
Seeing KM & RB seemingly getting along so well here, proving all those speculations about hatred and non-friendship wrong, is one of the best news of this year. Because those two deserve it – and if only for bringing us one of the most wonderful ships of TV history.