(written from a Production point of view)
Neelix is reunited with his people as he tries to save an imperiled Talaxian settlement.
USS Voyager is holding a party to celebrate "First Contact Day", including an ancient jukebox playing the favorite music of Zefram Cochrane and food, about which The Doctor complains to Neelix that it lacks any nutritional value. The party is greatly enjoyed by everyone, with Captain Janeway complimenting Neelix and Naomi telling them that when she was a child all First Contact Day meant was getting to miss school. Tuvok then makes a presentation where he recites the first words that the Vulcans said to the Humans that day, "Live long and prosper.", though Neelix must prod him into it. When Neelix then tries to get Tuvok to dance, and the stoic Vulcan refuses, Neelix makes a pledge: before Voyager reaches Earth, Neelix will see Tuvok dance at least once.
When Voyager arrives to investigate, Neelix becomes quite anxious on the bridge. The Talaxians appear to be inside an asteroid, and do not respond to hails. Tuvok, Neelix, and Tom Paris take the Delta Flyer into the belt, and are fired at with thermolytic charges. The Flyer takes damage, and is forced to crash-land on the asteroid where the life signs were detected. Neelix and the others are knocked unconscious.
Neelix wakes up having his wounds healed by a female Talaxian named Dexa. She asks him a lot of questions, things like what he was doing there, and why he and his alien friends were carrying weapons. He answers all her questions, and manages to ask a few of his own. He finds out they are ignoring hails because they want to avoid contact with outsiders, and the charges were just miners trying to break apart asteroids for their minerals. During their conversation, Dexa's son Brax comes in to have a look, and Dexa shoos him away. When Neelix tries to leave, she seals him in with a force field.
Captain Janeway, having not heard from the away team, sends a shuttle after them. As it is about to be launched, an alien, Nocona, hails them and tells the captain he owns this asteroid field, and that he is performing mining operations. He doesn't want her sending a rescue team, since they cannot stop using the charges, but offers to search for them. The captain says she wants to get them. Nocona tells them to stay there, and he will find their people.
When Neelix next awakens, he finds Brax by himself. When he sees that Brax has a model ship, Neelix correctly identifies its classification. Brax wants to see Neelix's ship, but Neelix says that would be hard to arrange. A loud clank tells Brax his mother is coming. Neelix tells him to hide, promising not to say anything.
Dexa soon walks in with Council Regent Oxilon. He informs Neelix that he is free to go. His friends have also been released, and will be asked to leave as soon as their injuries have been mended. He asks if they would let he and his friends stay. Neelix may stay, Oxilon says, but they do not trust outsiders.
Dexa takes Neelix on a short tour of the colony. Five hundred people live here, and the habitat is self-contained, built from the parts of ships on which they arrived.
Dexa leads Neelix back to his ship, and Paris, Tuvok, and Neelix begin repairs. Neelix tells of his brief encounter, and Tuvok notes his regret that he didn't get as much from the experience as he hoped. Neelix doesn't consider the trip a waste, as he still got to see some of his people again and noting he'll almost certainly never encounter another Talaxian after this. Once internal sensors are working, they indicate there is an intruder. Tuvok and Neelix search the ship to find it is Brax. Neelix takes him back to his mother, again promising not to tell her he was here.
On the way back to their home, Nocona is arguing with Oxilon. They are threatening to destroy this asteroid for minerals. Dexa argues strongly, and when Nocona shoves her aside, Brax throws a rock at him. Neelix then stands up for Brax, getting into a fight with Nocona, and pulling his weapon on him and his guard. He then sends them away.
Dexa and Oxilon are grateful, but think it is impossible to evacuate in time. Neelix suggests they have Captain Janeway negotiate with the miners, and Oxilon agrees to meet with her. Brax wants to go too, and Neelix persuades his mother to let him.
As they explore the ship, Neelix takes Dexa and Brax to the bridge, and Brax asks which station Neelix serves at. To spare Neelix any embarrassment, Chakotay and Kim note that Neelix has so many functions on the ship (Ambassador, chef, moral officer and trade negotiator) that one station wouldn't be enough as he's the most versatile member of the crew. In Astrometrics, Seven of Nine shows them a picture of Talax from their database. Neelix and Dexa marvel at it together, and she has to explain to Brax why they couldn't just go back there to live. Naomi also says hello, and Brax ends up following her to the holodeck.
Once they are alone, Dexa tells Neelix about her husband. He died trying to feed them when they were confined by the government to a small section of a planet they previously settled on. She is very comfortable around him, and says that Brax hasn't been so happy since her husband died. When it becomes clear to him how she feels about him (and he about her), Neelix regretfully leaves and gets some sleep, saying he needs to be ready at the negotiating table.
The next day, Neelix tries to negotiate with the miners, but fails to make any serious ground. He does get the deadline extended, long enough for them to move all their equipment, but can do no more. He did get Captain Janeway to ferry all of them and their supplies to the nearest M-Class planet. When Dexa and Brax leave, Neelix cannot help but feel that the aid was not enough.
Neelix asks Tuvok to devise defenses for the nearest planet, since there are several warp-capable species nearby. Tuvok cannot think of anything significant, but does suggest that if they were going to defend themselves, the best place for them to do it would be their present location. He suggests they could build a shield around the asteroid, however they would also need a leader to defend against a preemptive attack. Neelix asks Tuvok if he would be willing to lead them, however Tuvok refuses, citing the Prime Directive but also states that even if it wasn't an issue, he believes Neelix would be a better choice. Neelix tries to shrug off the suggestion, claiming that he's just a cook who dreams of being an Ambassador. Tuvok corrects him, telling Neelix he is much more than that, as he considers him the most resourceful person he has ever met. Neelix can't believe he's hearing such words of praise from Tuvok, who assures him that although he has some annoying habits and qualities he has also developed skills on Voyager that would serve him well if he chose to be a leader. Tuvok then makes it clear that although he is only speaking "hypothetically", and isn't telling Neelix what to do, if he (Neelix) did decide to defend the asteroid, he would be equal to the task.
Neelix decides not to involve the Voyager crew in the endeavor, knowing they may have issues with his plan due to the Prime Directive, and prepares to leave in his own ship. He tells Captain Janeway that since he isn't part of the crew officially, he isn't held to the same constraint. Janeway assures him that she considers him as much a part of the crew as anyone else, but decides to let him leave knowing its something the Talaxian has to do.
Arriving at the asteroid, Neelix creates a plan which would have him and Oxilon flying their ships around the asteroid and launching shield emitters to the surface. Once the emitters are in place, they could be tied into the power core and would never need recharging, however the miners would attack once they realize what the Talaxians are doing. Oxilon isn't initially willing to start a conflict, but Neelix points out they could still be terrorized if relocated, and since Oxilon worked so hard to build the colony surely its worth defending. Oxilon finally agrees.
However, when all but the last two emitters have been laid, the miners attack. When the miners begin dropping charges, Neelix starts shooting them down. When Neelix's weapons are disabled, he prepares to fly his ship into the next charge, but the Delta Flyer appears and destroys it first. Oxilon manages to get the last emitter in position, and when the next charge is dropped, the shields deflect the explosion.
- "Captain's log, stardate 54868.6. Commander Nocona seems to have given up his attempts to penetrate the Talaxians' shield. Voyager's ready to get underway, but we're giving Mister Neelix time to say a difficult goodbye to his new friends."
When Neelix leaves the colony, Brax asks him to stay. His mother says he cannot as Neelix walks out the door. When he returns to Voyager, he talks to Naomi. He wants to know if there is anything he can do for her, but Naomi has outgrown such things as bedtime stories and Neelix leaves for the Mess Hall, slowly realizing that his time on Voyager is coming to an end.
It is late, and the captain is awake as well; she has noticed that Neelix is conflicted between his duties on Voyager and those to the other Talaxians, so she puts forth a proposal: since Voyager can now communicate with Earth, Starfleet Command feels that there should be a permanent Ambassador to the Delta Quadrant, though the assignment is strictly voluntary. Neelix brightens a bit as he realizes that such a position would allow him the best of both situations: he would be able to remain with his own people in the asteroid colony, but he would also be required to stay in constant contact with Voyager and her crew as they travel.
On his way to the Baxial in the shuttle bay, he is astounded to see many of Voyager's crew (along with Naomi) standing at attention along the hallway between the turbolift and the shuttle bay. No words are spoken, because there are no words to truly express how much the crew will miss him. As Neelix is about to step through the door, Tuvok very slightly wiggles one foot, with the understanding that he has thus danced and fulfilled Neelix's pledge. Tuvok then wishes Neelix goodbye with the old Vulcan adage; "Live Long and Prosper". Neelix tries to respond, but is unable to bring himself to say anything and instead gives the crew a last smile, then leaves Voyager for the final time.
When he arrives on the asteroid, his first stop is the home of Brax and Dexa who emotionally embrace him in a hug; while Voyager will always remain dear to him, he knows that he is, at long last, home.
Memorable quotes Edit
"This is an official ship function, Commander. Don't make me order you to dance."
- - Captain Janeway, to Tuvok
"Hey, save some for the rest of us."
- - Harry Kim, to a pregnant B'Elanna Torres
"Mr. Tuvok has agreed to recite the first words spoken by a Vulcan to humans. Commander?"
"Is this strictly necessary?"
"Very well, "live long and prosper.""
- - Neelix and Tuvok
"I'm not a little girl anymore."
- - Naomi Wildman, to Neelix
"Mr. Neelix. (Wiggles one foot) Live long and prosper."
- - Tuvok's final words to Neelix
- - Neelix
"Goodbye... and good luck, Ambassador."
- - Janeway's final words to the departing Neelix
Background information Edit
- The concept of Neelix having a romantic relationship with a Talaxian female, following his long-term romance with Kes, was thought up by Neelix actor Ethan Phillips as early as the beginning of Star Trek: Voyager's fourth season. At that time, Phillips said, "I think it would be nice if they came up with another relationship for Neelix. It would be a very sweet show. I don't see anything coming down the pipeline yet, but the possibility exists... Maybe there will be some female hedgehogs waiting around for him! We'll see." (Star Trek Monthly issue 33, p. 39)
- The working title of this episode was "Destiny".  However, this title was already taken by DS9: "Destiny".
- The final draft script for this episode was submitted on 23 February 2001. At that time, the installment was still known as "Destiny".
- Ethan Phillips cited this episode among five "Best of Neelix" installments, remarking, "It was the best goodbye anybody had [....] It was one of my favorite things on the show to have done. The episode also had that very sweet moment with Tuvok dancing just a bit for Neelix. It was very special." (Star Trek Magazine issue 179, p. 77)
- This episode marks the final appearance of Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman.
- Many people took part, on-camera, in Neelix's farewell scene. "Everybody was put into Star Trek uniforms and they lined the halls," remembered Ethan Phillips. "So I was saying goodbye to not only the cast, but to the crew, the extras, to everybody as I walked down that long hall." (Star Trek Magazine issue 179, p. 77) Jeri Ryan admitted that the filming of the scene turned out to be her most emotional day on Star Trek: Voyager, even though it wasn't personally her final day of working on the show. "I was just blubbering! ... That was a tough day," she reflected. (X)
- This is the last episode of the series to be directed by LeVar Burton.
- The opening scene of this episode occurs on April 5th, 2378 – the 315th anniversary of Vulcan-Human First Contact.
- Neelix's farewell is similar to Worf's departure from the USS Enterprise-D in TNG: "Redemption".
- The events of this episode refer back to "Fair Trade", when jokingly, Captain Janeway said to Neelix she would have to make him Federation ambassador to the Delta Quadrant.
- Ethan Phillips appears as Neelix once more in "Endgame", participating in a game of kadis-kot with Seven of Nine on the astrometrics viewscreen.
- John Kenton Shull's costume was sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay. 
Video and DVD releases Edit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 7.12, 14 January 2002
- As part of the VOY Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references Edit
- Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Guest stars Edit
- Rob LaBelle as Oxilon
- Julianne Christie as Dexa
- Ian Meltzer as Brax
- Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- David Keith Anderson as Ensign Ashmore
- Richard Bishop as an operations division officer
- Carter Edwards as command division officer
- Andrew English as an operations division officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Hilde Garcia as a Talaxian
- Sue Henley as Ensign Brooks
- Joyce Lasley as Crewman Lydia Anderson
- Chip Murdock as a Talaxian
- Louis Ortiz as Ensign Culhane
- Paul as a Talaxian
- Stephen Pisani as an operations division officer
- Keith Rayve as a command division officer
- Richard Sarstedt as Crewman William McKenzie
- Linnea Soohoo as a science division officer
- Pablo Soriano as an operations division ensign
- unknown actor as Human Operations Division officer
- Unknown performers as
Stunt double Edit
ambassador; asteroid; asteroid field; Axiana Lakes; Baxial; Cheese pierogi; Cochrane, Zefram; Council Regent; dancing; Delta Flyer II; Delta Quadrant; Earth; evasive maneuvers; Federation; First Contact Day; force field emitter; "Fur Fly, The"; geothermal energy; goddaughter; Godo Mountain Range; Haakonian; intruder alert; Invaders from the Ninth Dimension; jukebox; kadis-kot; kilometer; M class; mining; Mister Vulcan; Neelix; paleontology; Phanos; plasma manifold; proto-humanoid; refugee; regent; school; shield; taga cake; Talax; Talaxian; Talaxian asteroid colony; Talaxian colony ship; Talaxian fur fly; thermolyte explosive; torpedo launcher; Tuvix; "Two-Tailed Talchok, The"; vitamin; Vulcans
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