I have to disagree with most of your statements here. I don't find Kes, Paris or Torres "cardboard cutouts". On the contrary, all three of them are unique characters with interesting background stories. Paris, with his troubled background who was given a chance to put everything right and took it. Torres, also with a troubled background, the woman who was at odds with everything but finally found her place as engineer on Voyager. And Kes who wanted to leave her drab homeworld to explore and learn. I think all therr of them are brilliant characters. In fact, Voyager had the most interesting characters of all Star Trek series.
If there were any "cardboard cutouts", then it was Kim and maybe Tuvok. Kim, the typical Starfleet character, in this case a more unexperienced Starfleet character but similar to most of them we've seen in most of the shows. Maybe Tuvok fits in her too in a way. Typical Starfleet and typical Vulcan (but definitely a great character who I really like).
As for "Cold Fire", it's my favorite episode. Kes was tempted by evil forces but she could withstand them and in the end she saved the ship. What's wrong with that? I find it a brilliant story where Kes's strong will and ability to withstand the power of evil forces clearly shows. And the good guys mostly win in those situations when you watch a series. It could have been Janeway or anyone. It's only in the current "doom and gloom" series where the evil forces actually wins in similar situations (which tells us a lot about the current trends in today's society).
Plus a personal request from me which has nothing to do with Star Trek. Could you please remove that avatar with the hammer and sickle, a symbol for a system which has murdered more people than even the Nazis did.