Star Trek Voyager wrapped its seventh and final season in May of 2001. The third spin-off carried the franchise into the new millennium. It was the only Star Trek on the air for its last two seasons. The show had been airing concurrently with Deep Space Nine, but that incarnation of Star Trek was syndicated, while Voyager was United Paramount Network’s flagship show.
Voyager finally makes it home in the series finale, but only because of a future incarnation of Captain Janeway who goes back in time to get the crew to the Alpha Quadrant. The episode opens with fireworks as Voyager flies over the Golden Gate Bridge. A newsreader’s voice-over reveals that it is the 10th anniversary of the ship’s return after their 23-year journey through the Delta Quadrant. Janeway ends the video and we see her older with silver hair. After the credits the crew gathers for a party and we see them 26 years older.
Everyone is enjoying the party, but a few people are absent. Unfortunately Tuvok is in the hospital with the Vulcan equivalent of dementia. Chakotay and Seven of Nine are missing as well. After the party, Janeway helps teach a class on the Borg, or she would have if she wasn’t called away suddenly. The Admiral sent B’Elanna and Tom’s daughter on a classified mission before the reunion. We know it’s something to do with the Klingons, but Janeway isn’t telling anyone what it’s about, not even when she asks the Doctor for a large dose of an experimental medicine. Right before she leaves, the Admiral visits the gravesite of Chakotay, saying that when she’s done things might be better for all of the crew.
Back on the present Voyager, Tom and B’Elanna are expecting their daughter. B’Elanna is nearly full term, and so far along that she’s getting false labor, a common occurrence for Klingons. After a small lapse of concentration, Tuvok discusses his condition with the Doctor. It’s still in its early stages, so he has yet to reveal anything to the Captain. Chakotay and Seven of Nine have started dating. Neelix has left the ship to be with a colony of Talaxians that Voyager discovered a few episodes earlier. They are still within communication range, so he can call his former crewmates. During one of his video calls, Seven of Nine discovers a massive concentration of wormholes inside a nearby nebula. When the ship investigates, they find it crawling with Borg.
Needless to say they won’t be investigating the nebula any further. Harry Kim is quite disappointed, and tries to get Tom to help him to convince the Captain to revisit her decision. But with a wife and a baby on the way, Tom is feeling more like Voyager is his home than anywhere on Earth. In the future timeline, Captain Harry Kim catches up with Admiral Janeway after she steals a chrono deflector from the Klingons. She tried to negotiate for it – that was the mission that involved B’Elanna and Tom’s daughter – but they changed the terms at the last minute. The Admiral plans to go back in time. She’s willing to alter history to get Voyager’s crew home earlier, and to save Tuvok, Chakotay, and Seven of Nine. Harry tries to dissuade her, but she’s adamant that this will be better for their family.
Captain Kim relents, and the Admiral travels back to 2378, present Voyager, right after their discovery of the Borg infested nebula. She came back to tell Captain Janeway that she’s making a mistake and Voyager should explore the nebula again. The Admiral even brought back shield and weapons technology to make it a fair fight against the Borg. At first the Captain is dubious, but a scan reveals the Admiral is not an imposter. She is Kathryn Janeway, just 26 years older. The crew adapt the advanced technologies and head back to the nebula. Inside, they discover a Transwarp Hub, a conduit the Borg use to move around the Galaxy. The Admiral intended to use it to lead Voyager home, but the Captain quickly realizes that if they destroy the hub, they cripple the Borg. Once again, Voyager leaves the nebula.
The Admiral sees the Captain as stubborn, and the loyalty of the crew as almost delusional. In the briefing room, the Captain even references her decision back in “Caretaker” when she ordered the destruction of the array. This time, she won’t proceed with the plan to destroy the Transwarp Hub unless her entire senior staff agrees. Harry admits he’s been the most eager to head home but even he can see the benefits of destroying the Transwarp Hub outweigh getting home a little sooner. Plus there’s no denying the crew has bonded over the years they’ve been stuck in the Delta Quadrant. They raise their coffee mugs in a toast to the journey.
Soon after the Admiral admits that she misjudged the Captain. She’d been so consumed with getting her crew home earlier that she’d forgotten how much of a family they became, even stranded in the Delta Quadrant. But the Captain muses that there must be a way for them to have their cake and eat it too. Together they hatch a plan that results in the Admiral sacrificing herself to the Borg, but releasing a neuro pathogen that wreaks havoc with their defenses. Voyager is able to take the Transwarp Hub back to the Alpha Quadrant, firing souped up torpedoes along the way. They show up on Earth’s doorstep suddenly, surrounded by Borg debris.
The final shot of Star Trek Voyager is a beautiful one, with Voyager being escorted to Earth by the fleet that hastily assembled in response to the Borg signal. Unfortunately the episode’s ending feels rushed and anticlimactic. We don’t see the crew adjusting to finally getting to Earth. But perhaps that is intentional because of the message the episode conveys: it’s not the destination, but the journey that matters, and the people you’re with while on it. Several characters mentioned how they viewed Voyager as their home. Once the plan is in motion, B’Elanna muses to Tom about the possibility of delivering her baby on Earth. She’d finally begun to think of Voyager as home, coming a long way since pushing people away in “Extreme Risk” because she was afraid she’d lose them.