Written by Raf Green
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 7, Episode 23
Production episode 269
Original air date: May 9, 2001
Captain’s log. Neelix is hosting a party to celebrate the 315th anniversary of First Contact Day. He even gets Tuvok to say the words that the first Vulcan who landed on Earth said: “Live long and prosper.” However both he and Janeway fail to get Tuvok to dance, though Neelix promises that he will get Tuvok to dance before they reach Earth.
Chakotay interrupts the party to announce that they’ve detected several hundred Talaxian life forms nearby—but they’re not responding to hails. They’re in an asteroid field that’s sufficiently dense that Voyager can’t navigate inside it, but the Delta Flyer can. Tuvok leads an away team that also includes Paris and Neelix. The Flyer is hit with thermolytic charges and takes heavy damage, crash-landing on an asteroid, knocking them all unconscious.
Neelix wakes up in a makeshift cell, where he’s cared for by a Talaxian woman named Dexa. She explains that they don’t answer hails because they avoid outsiders—like the miners who set off those charges. Dexa also has a son named Brax.
Janeway is about to send a shuttle in after the away team when they haven’t checked in for a while, but before she can send it out, she’s contacted by Nocona, who claims to own the asteroid field. He doesn’t want Janeway to send another ship in, as it might get damaged, but he promises to look for the Flyer.
Neelix bonds with Brax, including a promise to try to allow him to see Voyager, and then meets Oxilon, the leader of the colony. He says that the away team is free to go, and Tuvok and Paris are already on the Flyer, repairing it. Neelix would like to stay a while, and Oxilon agrees to let him stay, but Tuvok and Paris must go.
Brax stows away on the Flyer, wanting Neelix to fulfill his promise to show him Voyager, and Neelix brings him back to Dexa. When there, Nocona shows up, announcing that the asteroid the Talaxians are on is to be broken up for minerals. Dexa protests, and gets shoved violently aside for her trouble. Brax responds to this by throwing a rock at Nocona. The violence threatens to escalate, but hanging out with Starfleet has given Neelix some mad hand-to-hand skillz, and he disarms Nocona and holds his weapon on him.
Nocona and his people leave, and Oxilon is upset that they’ve antagonized Nocona. Dexa acidly points out that they could hardly have made things worse than they are: their home is going to be destroyed.
Neelix offers Janeway’s services as a negotiator to try to work something out with Nocona. Oxilon agrees to meet with the captain, and Neelix also brings Dexa and Brax on board. While Oxilon talks to Janeway, Neelix gives Dexa and Brax a tour of the ship. Neelix learns that Dexa’s husband (Brax’s father) died resisting the brutal government of a previous world they’d settled on after leaving Talax following the Haakonian war. It’s why they don’t trust outsiders much.
Romance-y things start to bloom between Neelix and Dexa but he inexplicably ends the evening before things can get too hot and heavy.
Unfortunately, the negotiations with Nocona don’t go as well as hoped, though they are able to extend the deadline to evacuate the asteroid. Janeway also offers to help ferry them and their stuff to a nearby M-class planet.
Neelix asks Tuvok for help with coming up with a way to defend their new planet but Tuvok points out that the asteroid would be much easier to defend, especially if they have someone as talented as Neelix leading them. Neelix is rather stunned to hear Tuvok say something—anything—nice about him, and Tuvok allows as how, despite how incredibly annoying he can be, Neelix is one of the most resourceful people he’s ever known.
Taking the Baxial into the asteroid field, Neelix (with Janeway’s blessing) provides Oxilon with a plan to construct shield emitters around the asteroid to protect it. Unfortunately, Nocona’s ship attacks before the last two shield emitters are in place. However, the Flyer arrives to help the Baxial defend the asteroid long enough for the final two emitters to be emplaced.
Nocona gives up on the asteroid field, leaving the Talaxians in peace. Neelix, after some soul-searching (and also realizing that, among other things, Naomi has outgrown the need for him to do things like read her bedtime stories), he seriously considers staying with the Talaxians—especially given his feelings for Dexa, feelings she very much returns. Janeway aids him in making this decision by informing him that Starfleet wants a permanent ambassador in the Delta Quadrant, and he’d be the ideal choice.
A corridor full of crew see Neelix off, and Tuvok even wiggles his foot in an approximation of dancing so he can have fulfilled his promise at the top of the episode. Neelix then flies off in the Baxial to join the Talaxians and live happily ever after.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Neelix comes up with a way to build a shield around the asteroid that’s powered by the same cannibalized ship bits that they used to power their settlement. Because he’s just that awesome.
There’s coffee in that nebula! Even though it’s a Prime Directive violation to get involved in the firefight between Nocona and the Talaxians, Janeway won’t let Neelix be hurt and sends in the Flyer. She also comes up with a justification for Neelix to stay with the Talaxians.
Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok sorta kinda dances at the end. It’s kind of sweet.
Half and half. Torres really loves the pirogis.
Forever an ensign. Kim helps Neelix save face when he’s showing Dexa and Brax the bridge. The kid asks where Neelix’s station is, and Kim waxes rhapsodic about how Neelix does so many things on board that he can’t have just a single station.
Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH bitches about the food at the First Contact Day party, saying it has no nutritional value whatsoever.
Resistance is futile. When Neelix reaches astrometrics on Dexa and Brax’s tour, Seven is able to show them an image of Talax from the ship’s database.
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. Neelix and Dexa have pretty much instant chemistry, though Dexa’s obvious invitation to stay the night with her in her guest quarters is surprisingly turned down by Neelix. However, in the end, they do smooch, and Neelix is obviously intending to stay with her and Brax on the asteroid.
What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. Naomi offers to take Brax to the holodeck.
“This is an official ship function, Commander—don’t make me order you to dance.”
–Janeway threatening Tuvok.
John Kenton Shull makes his sixth and final Trek appearance as Nocona, all of which have him wearing facial prosthetics. He has previously played three different Klingons (“Barge of the Dead,” TNG’s “Firstborn,” and DS9’s “Return to Grace”), a Hanonian (“Basics, Part II“), and a Bajoran (DS9’s “Shakaar”).
Julianna Christie plays Dexa; she’ll be back in Enterprise’s “Unexpected” as Ah’len. Ian Meltzer plays Brax, while Scarlett Pomers is back for her final onscreen appearance as Naomi.
Trivial matters: Neelix’s First Contact Day celebration is an attempt to re-create the atmosphere of Zefram Cochrane’s first warp flight, as seen in the movie First Contact, including a jukebox like the one in the bar Cochrane frequented, and serving pirogis.
Naomi tells Brax about the events of “Tuvix,” which is the only time the episode’s events have been acknowledged onscreen since it happened.
The crew gathered in the corridor to see Neelix off is reminiscent of the scene when Worf left the Enterprise in TNG’s “Redemption,” not to mention on the Cerritos at the end of “First First Contact,” the episode of Lower Decks that premiered this very day. Most of the crew assembled in the corridor were members of the crew wearing Starfleet uniforms to see Ethan Phillips off.
Although Neelix leaves Voyager in this episode, he’ll appear once more, communicating with Seven from the Talaxian colony in “Endgame.”
Set a course for home. “Goodbye and good luck, Ambassador.” There’s one big problem with this episode that cuts off the air supply to my disbelief. We’re a good 30-35,000 light-years from Talax at this point. It took Voyager seven years to get this far, and they had the benefit of several jumps ahead via transwarp coils, slipstream drives, a couple of fancy shortcuts, and Kes. How the heck did Oxilon’s bunch get all the way over here to settle down?
Also, this episode is just so constructed to give Neelix an ending, like the universe of the show is aware that we’re two episodes from the end. He gets to be a hero! He gets a girlfriend and a surrogate son! He gets to be a leader and be reunited with his people!
And while that’s nice, it also doesn’t entirely ring right. Neelix has completely embraced the notion of being part of Voyager’s crew, right up to the top of this episode when he’s painstakingly re-created the bar scene in First Contact. (Minus the tequila, anyhow…) Yet all of a sudden, he decides to stay with these people. Admittedly, Dexa’s probably a big part of that, and it ultimately is a very nice little happy ending for a character who has not been particularly well served by the writing staff over the past seven years.
For all that, I did enjoy the episode. Ethan Phillips plays it extremely well, his chemistry with both Julianna Christie and Ian Meltzer is spot-on, and Tim Russ gives us a Tuvok who still doesn’t entirely like Neelix, but has grown to respect him—to the point that he even almost dances!
Warp factor rating: 6
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be a guest at Indiana Comic-Con this coming weekend at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. He’ll be at the Bard’s Tower booth for the majority of the weekend, alongside fellow word-slingers Claudia Gray, Michael A. Stackpole, Megan Mackie, Caitlin Sangster, Brian Anderson, and Christopher Ruocchio. Other Trek guests include William Shatner (assuming he makes it back safely from space) and Carlos Ferro. Keith might also be doing some programming. Come by and say hi!