Star Trek: Voyager

"Before and After"

3.5 stars

Air date: 4/9/1997
Written by Kenneth Biller
Directed by Allan Kroeker

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"So how does it feel to be a grandfather?"
"A lot better than it does to have you for a son-in-law."

— Harry and Tom

Nutshell: Now THAT'S more like it. Easily one of the best Voyager episodes of the season.

To put it as simply as I can, "Before and After" is solid entertainment. It isn't perfect, but it's a very good hour of Voyager—and after the unfortunate past month of dreadful Voyager offerings, this installment is, to be as fair but as honest as possible, a wonderful alleviation of pain.

In fact, if Voyager can do shows like this for the remainder of the season, we might be in good shape after all. I'm hoping in June I can look back and see this episode as the hour of Voyager that recharged my interest in the series—it certainly has that potential if the last five installments can follow suit.

"Before and After" is yet another Trek breed of the Time Manipulation Paradigm, but I'm not about to hold that against the show. This is a weird, effective story that uses its plot machinations as a springboard for some thoroughly enjoyable mini-stories. The episode is paced at a brisk speed and filled with sub-stories that contain humor and fascination, venturing into both hope and despair.

The episode begins shrouded in confusion and mystery, revealing pieces of its puzzle a little bit at a time. The story opens approximately six years in the future where Kes, aged to the final stage of her short nine-year life, lies in a bio-chamber the Doctor has manufactured in the hope of extending her life beyond its expectancy. Somehow, this device reactivates some residual radiation in Kes' body (which figures into the plot nicely later in the episode, but I don't really want to get into it here), and she begins jumping backward in time, landing in various points in her past for short periods of time—BUT without any memory of her true past and, rather, with the few memories of the brief times she was in the FUTURE. In other words, Kes begins living her life backwards for only hours at a time, with large gaps in the experience spanning anywhere from one day to three years.

Sound confusing? It is. There's no way I'm going to attempt to wrap this into a full synopsis. This is a show you have to watch to fully grasp, and even then you may not quite understand everything. I think I see what's going on, but the ending in particular is open to some interpretation. It's a credit to scripter Kenneth Biller that he was able to pull off such a complicated feat of plotting without totally losing the audience. And Allan Kroeker's direction is effective, moving the story forward with reasonable momentum while also making certain we always know where (er, when) we are.

It's not the fact the episode uses time travel that makes "Before and After" intriguing. In all honesty, the basic premise is standard Trekkian stuff. And there's a megaton of conjured technobabble that the actors are forced to endure in order to warrant the plot. Any reader of my reviews probably knows I don't consider technobabble to be true storytelling since it's usually just a device for explaining arbitrarily created circumstances. BUT if the story that exists outside the fantasy tech-plotting actually works, merely using the technobabble as a secondary device, then I'm likely to be more receptive.

"Before and After," like last season's "Deadlock," is an episode that fits the above description. No, I don't really find the specifics of Kes' time shifts all that plausible (though they were fairly convenient)—but I do care about what happens once Kes drops into each time period. I also like the way Biller's script and Kroeker's direction use these time travel elements: They pile confusion and urgency into the narrative, making us curious and interested, asking, "Just what is going on here?"

The relentless jumping through time makes the story interesting and fast-paced—as does the way Kes and the crew come to understand the nature of the mystery—but what really makes "Before and After" compelling are the "what if" implications. The story paints us one possible future of the starship Voyager, and it's in these details that the show gets truly inventive and entertaining.

For example, this is the first episode that really addresses the fact that Kes only has six years left in her natural life. This would mean marriage and children would have to happen soon—and then it wouldn't be too long before her daughter would marry and have a child. Although not directly addressed (it's only a one-hour show, after all), I liked the implications of how a human, with a life span ten times that of an Ocampa, would relate to an Ocampa. The story says there's a way.

That's why I greatly enjoyed the rather amusing notion that Kes is married to Tom with a daughter who later marries Harry and has a son—all within maybe three years' time. The line about Tom having Harry as a son-in-law was absolutely hilarious. It just goes to show how much mileage can be milked out of a premise if a writer is brave enough to exercise non-restraint and go straight for the bizarre. (Doc's inability to choose and keep a name—Dr. Van Gogh in one time period, Dr. Mozart in another—was also amusing.)

Most compelling, however, is the future of Voyager's fate—a starship that will venture into a region occupied by an aggressively hostile race called the Krenim, leading to what the crew ultimately comes to call the "year of hell." As Paris explains in the future, the ship almost didn't make it. Many people died in Krenim attacks, including Captain Janeway and Lt. Torres. Further, we find out that Tom and B'Elanna were intimate before she died. Tom's somber line, "When she died I felt like I wanted to die," really rings true, and as the show ventures back in time, the tone turns progressively darker and even plunges into despair. Eventually we're allowed to witness the battle where Janeway and Torres are killed—and the site isn't pretty. There's a seriousness to the situation that reminds me of what I used to think Voyager as a series was all about: that of a lone starship having to cope with difficult or even extreme circumstances.

There are subtle touches here: the site of a Voyager hull battered by months of Krenim attacks; the mention of the Doctor's program being off-line for a year; Chakotay's urgency when under attack, and Tom's compliance to duty even after he has just seen B'Elanna die before his eyes—these touches are very well realized and, as a result, the drama comes off quite strong. (The hypothetical situation of war reminded me of TNG's "Yesterday's Enterprise" at times, though this is admittedly not quite on that scale of drama.) True, this "what if" situation is all within a fantasy world that never really happens. But it works because it uses the true emotions and reactions of the Voyager crew, and it all feels credible and real. The Krenim seem like an ominous threat, and that inspires me to believe perhaps the writers are thinking about large, consequential events to come. I sure hope so.

The movement backward through time also works well to foreshadow (or would that be post-shadow?) the events, which was interesting. And the way the episode demonstrates—in reverse chronological order, no less—the eventual return of hope after all the death and despair of "the year of hell" is a truly inventive dramatic device. Using Kes as point of view is perfectly appropriate—it spans Kes' hypothetical life while giving Jennifer Lien another vehicle, which she carries respectably well. (Michael Westmore's aging effect makeup was very well done, but Lien should be commended for making the character seem realistic.)

Returning to the time travel aspects, the ending is also quite inventive and labyrinthine—although there are a few facts that don't quite fit together. If I'm understanding the plot's intentions correctly, Kes' time shifts really began in the present, that is, third season Voyager from our point of view—because it seems the bio-chamber is something Doc of the present is also trying to experiment with. From this reading of the ending, Kes' trips through time were all within her own consciousness, jumping her to the end of her life, and then taking her backward to the beginning (and then forward to the present again). If this is the case, why does Kes "vanish" from Paris' point of view in the future when she makes her time shift? It doesn't seem consistent with the fact that Kes was (apparently) lying in the bio-chamber the whole time in the present, where the crew's unawareness to Kes' time jumps indicate that she never "vanished" here. The whole issue of moving through time always brings up the question of where one exists in physical form and where one's physical form goes when traveling out of a time period. Maybe I shouldn't ask such questions.

I also don't quite understand where the time paradox began (but that may simply be because it's a paradox)—did it begin in the future with Doc's experiment or in the present with Doc's other experiment? Was the bio-chamber of the present an attempt to extend Kes' life or was it truly intended as the corrective measure to Kes' time shift? The story seems to hint at several possibilities, but it's never really certain. I'm really trying to be helpful here, but I think I've confused things more than I've clarified them, so I think I'll just shut up now. I'm a fool for trying to dissect events that, by nature, cannot be dissected.

I guess the time travel aspects of "Before and After" aren't any more implausible than any other paradox that other similar time stories create, so let's just call it a day. Although I could've done without some of the extraneous technobabble, "Before and After" is one of the best hours of Voyager yet produced, and if I can get this much enjoyment out of being baffled, so be it.

Let me wrap up with a comment on Kes' new hairstyle: I like it. Much better. For those wondering how Kes could grow her hair from its previous length to its current length in the matter of weeks that seems to have transpired between this episode and the previous one, I pose the following as one possible explanation: Since Ocampa have shorter life spans, it would stand to reason that Kes also has accelerated biologic functions, which could include how fast her hair grows. Hey, take it or leave it.

Previous episode: Favorite Son
Next episode: Real Life

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95 comments on this post

Tue, Nov 6, 2007, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
Kes' new hairstyle in this episode actually looks like crap. I preferred the old one, even on a bad wig day. This is the episode that Kes, as a character, jumps the shark.
Thu, Feb 28, 2008, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
The paradox begins in the future. Kes is sent back from the moment of death to continually jump backwards. The cure takes place in the present but not before Kes is sent back to her conception.

Since, of course, that future never actually takes place, it follows that a hypothetical future can reach back in time and erase itself.
Fri, Feb 29, 2008, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
I look at this as a "what if." What if Captain Janeway and Lt. Torres were killed? What if Seven of Nine hadn't replaced Kes?

Also, note that this episode layed the foundation for the Year of Hell two-parter. In that episode Seven of Nine and Tuvok take the place of Kes in finding the frequency of the stuck Krenim torpedo.
David Forrest
Wed, Mar 26, 2008, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
I totally agree with your review Jammer. This is a teriffic episode of Voyager and I really enjoyed Lien's performance. This is the one episode in which I really wished that Kes had stayed on through the rest of the show. I thought the writers never paid enough attention to her character, and she a lot of potential, especially with Seven of Nine coming aboard.

As for her new hairstyle, I loved it. I thought it should have been done a long time ago as Lien looked fabulous with the new style. The actresses on Voyager had terrible hairstyles the first few years.
Dirk Hartmann
Sun, Apr 20, 2008, 5:50am (UTC -5)
The review is spot on. I think it would have deserved a 4 star rating. I'm beginning to think that over time you've raised the bar regarding ratings. For example, there is a host of (enjoyable, but in the end) rather conventional episodes in DS9's first season that got 3 stars. The margin of distance to the 3 1/2 stars we've got here seems rather too small for me.
And by the way: I'm with those who like Kes' new hair style.
Fri, Jul 4, 2008, 1:38am (UTC -5)
I hate the term "jump the shark". More often than not its applied to an episode that simply marks a turning point, not a bad turning point, but just a regular turning point. It seems that a show "jumps the shark" when it changes what The Viewer knows, trusts, and loves, regardless of whether it actually did something good or bad. But I suppose everyone is entitle to their opinions. I just think that the phrase "jump the shark" is use ad nauseum to the point that it holds no meaning any more and actually makes a person sound like they're just rattling off a catchphrase rather than actually dissecting WHY this "jumped the shark"

I suppose I'm really venting my anger about "jump the shark" in relation to BSG (so I don't mean this as a total slam against you,Bob), but it's still valid here.

Great episode.
Mon, Oct 13, 2008, 11:17am (UTC -5)
I agree with you, Occuprice, that the term "jump the shark" is used way too often, & often for the most inane reasons. In the case of Voyager, I felt it jumped not with Kes's new hairdo (which I thought was beautiful) nor with 7 of 9's arrival, but when the show itself basically became a strict 'adventure' show, instead of the tale of survival & hardship that we were promised when the show premiered (this jump, I'd say, truly occurred with the "Basics" two-parter when NOT ONE member of the crew turns against Janeway when the Kazon strand them on the planet, as it was her behavior in her prior dealings with the Kazon which eventually led to their abadonment on that world).
Fri, Oct 31, 2008, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
It's kind of entertaining that Jammer--who spent a lot of time on these excellent reviews--cannot QUITE handle the time travel narratives. Clearly Kes' jumps weren't 'within her consciousness' but actually happened, starting in the future when the Doc activated the bio-temporal chamber to keep ancient Kes alive; the characters state this a number of times.

As a huge Kes fan, my review is almost unnecessary. This is one of Voyager best episodes, an episode that proves definitively that a Kes episode can work (unlike, say, a Harry or Neelix episode). Great acting from Lien, who finally comes into her own as a talent in this season, as well as from the other actors. A fascinating glimpse at Voyager's future...a glimpse which of course gets virtually ignored later on during the 'Year of Hell' episodes.

I also agree with Jake's comments above re: Voyager-the-adventure-show. Adventure+7of9 just isn't as interesting as thought-provoking+Kes, even if some of those season 1-3 episodes didn't work.
Fri, Jan 9, 2009, 3:45am (UTC -5)
Yeah, the time travel certainly starts with the doctors experiments in the future to try and prolong Kes' life. The whole episode is a great big rewind to the present Voyager. It's nicely done, and they end used the Year of Hell concept in the next season which was a nice touch. Clearly Kes' travels through time had an impact on the timeline since she's gone by then in the new timeline.
Sat, May 9, 2009, 4:18am (UTC -5)
One of my favorite all time Voyager episodes.
It just infuriates me to think they fired Lien when they could have fired Wang or Beltran.
I mean half the characters on the ship never had a good an episode as this. I also thought that Kes ended up totally sexy by the end of this episode and the show would have been much better if we had Seven and Kes on the show at once!
Mon, Dec 14, 2009, 2:11am (UTC -5)
I propose that the reason Kes grew her hair is cos she was told she fired and she went "oh fuck it" and decided to have her hair the natural way (if any of you have seen American History X). That's just what I'm guessing...
Mon, Feb 15, 2010, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
I still remeber the joke my brother made about this episode.

"Help! I'm a single-celled organism! Put me in the biotemperal chamber before it's to late!"
Greg H
Mon, Feb 15, 2010, 4:36pm (UTC -5)
@Obvious- The reason her hair was longer was because make-up was no longer on her ears.She was developing an allergy to the gum asthetic used in the make-up; therefore, the wig covered her ears. That was information posted on either the Wikipedia or Memoery Alpha websites for a time. I can't find that information anymore.
Sun, Feb 21, 2010, 1:59pm (UTC -5)
Well, if Kes ages a decade for every year humans do, and she was "20-ish" when the show started, by this point she'd be "50-ish", so the middle aged hairdo makes sense from that standpoint.
Tue, Nov 16, 2010, 10:59am (UTC -5)
This was certainly an enjoyable episode with lots of great scenes. But I can't get over the implausibility of the situation: it's basically only Kes' "consciousness" (or "soul" if you prefer) that is travelling backwards in time, because she always ends up in the body of her younger self... But somehow she also takes the time-travel-causing radiation with her? It makes absoloutely no sense. I also got a little tired of Kes having to re-explain the cause of her jumps to every 'new' time period she encountered. It's also too bad some of the things we saw of that future never came to pass... it seems like the writers knew they would be getting rid of her very soon and they wanted to cram all of her remaining story potential into a single hour.
Mon, Mar 14, 2011, 2:46am (UTC -5)
Far be it for me to think you should give a VOY episode a lower score, but this was just awful. it seems to me they had given Lien the news that she'd be leaving, because she just doesn't seem to care anymore. Couple that with the guest actors (that kid made me want to get a vasectomy) and you've got a performance cesspool.

The only character-related element to the story (other than perhaps Paris' reïgniting his interest in Kes) is Kes' age and how the generations of the Ocampa work within a mostly human crew. That's not enough to sustain an episode, so what we get a lot of is rehashing the same technobabble and seeing people treat Kes like an idiot.

The plotting episodes of VOY (like this one) which are TNGesque don't really work for me; this show is about characters and all we get at the end is Kes running hurriedly off camera to go plant a flower or something.
Fri, Jun 17, 2011, 12:59am (UTC -5)
Amazing episode- definitely one of the season's best, and a very fitting last swansong for the Kes character.
Wed, Nov 2, 2011, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
Not bad in general, but the going back to before birth is just silly and probably the worst reset button of the series. R.L. Stine did it better in The Cuckoo Clock of Doom :)
Sun, Jan 1, 2012, 9:40pm (UTC -5)
Newborn Kes had very human ears...
Thu, Jan 19, 2012, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
I know that this is a Trekkie fan site, so not everybody is familiar with reproduction or female genitalia. :P

But -- a whole review, tons of comments, and no mention of the BACK VAGINA? That's right -- in the birthing scenes, the Ocampa newborns appear to come out of their mothers' backs.

I don't even want to begin to imagine what Tom had to put where for that to happen.
Fri, Feb 3, 2012, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
@TDexter I was thinking the same thing! That was kind of weird. I would loved to have seen the kinds of positions Tom and Kes had to get into for conception!

Then there's the annoying fact that humans can apparently breed with any species in the whole universe which is just downright silly. That's always been one of my gripes with Trek. Somehow species from the Alpha quadrant are physically compatible with species from the Detla quadrant. Total bull.
Mon, Apr 2, 2012, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Is it just me or was the decision to give The Doctor a bad hair-plug-do in the opening scene intentional? Even in the 24th century...even if you're a freaking HOLOGRAM they just can't find a cure for baldness? Hilarious!
Sun, Oct 28, 2012, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
It was a bit strange that a human/Ocampa hybrid would age as fast as an Ocampan...surely Kim's son, being 3/4 human, wouldn't age as fast as a pure Ocampan...Ocampa must have mighty dominant genes.
Lt. Yarko
Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 2:11am (UTC -5)
I loved how Kes' doings at each stop in time affected the future that she had already seen. This was truly one of the most cohesively imaginative episodes of all trek and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. And I usually hate time travel stories because they are usually so dumb.
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
Kes' whole arc was ruined by the ridiculous decision to make her age so young. There is literally no way that she would behave, and know what she knows, at that age. And apparently, she looked and behaved like an adult at around one year old. Come on, what the heck were the writers thinking??

A species that gets old that quick would never have become a dominant species. This episode with her daughter exposes how daft this idea is.
Sat, Mar 8, 2014, 2:01pm (UTC -5)
Also, while this episode was entertaining, it was flawed and had absolutely no believability factor whatsoever. It's easy to write when you don't have to think about your story making any internal logical sense.
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Did the Time Traveller's wife steal the idea from this episode?

I just realized that this episode was created prior to both The Time Traveller's wife and Benjamin Button movies.

Good episode though and probably the best Kes episode

Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 9:05am (UTC -5)
The Ocampan lifespan is plausible, they just have to grow up very quickly. They also need to be highly fertile. It's plausible that they reproduce only once, but in that case, it has to be a litter. They also would have to be in a real hurry, they don't have time to waste. Yet Kes is languid, almost sleepy, like she has all the time in the world.

To an Ocampan, humans must seem as unchanging as statues. An Ocampan goes through an entire lifespan in 9 years, while over 9 years an adult human doesn't change all that much. Kes's descendants seem to have inherited the short Ocampan lifespan. Would you really want to marry someone you will outlive your great-great-great grandchildren? I do suppose marrying an Ocampan would be great for someone who didn't want to commit to a long-term relationship. Then again, we know that the children grew up as quickly as an Ocampan, but we don't know that their lifespan was as short. It's plausible that they could grow up quickly, but live a long time.
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
I have to knock a couple points off this episode for that eye-roll worthy last line. "If I learned anything there's no time like the present" Barf! What is with Voyager ending episodes on cheesy lines like that.

The only things I enjoy about this episode are Jennifer Lien's performance and the info drops about the future. I don't think it stacks up well against other time travel conundrum episodes. I thought it was too repetitive - once you've seen one jump backwards you've seen them all.
Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 9:28pm (UTC -5)
Very interesting take on a time paradox plot. Some repetition in the pacing but it is unavoidable in a plot such as this (TNG's "Cause and Effect" is loaded with repetition but is generally a highly-regarded episode). The direction and nicely done performances help to move things along at a decent clip. It was also endemic of how woefully under-utilized Lien was in this show. She could've been one of the great Star Trek characters, quite frankly, had the writers given a damn.

Really good job all around save for an overly-sappy final few frames. One of the seasons highlights.

3.5 stars.
Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
About the Ocampan lifespan:

It is -not- plausible the way it is now. I cannot remember the exact math but a quick Google search would find it. Essentially, with a 9-year lifespan and only one reproductive cycle, the starting number of Ocampans would have to have been greater than the total number of atoms in the entire universe.

The way around this is to make fact the insinuated idea that the Ocampans are a dying species. Most likely, before the disaster, they lived much longer lives with many reproductive cycles. Time has seen each generation deteriorate to the point where their species is now at an end.

Sad, really. The Caretaker wasn't trying to protect them; he was trying to make comfortable their final years of existence as a species.
Dave in NC
Sun, Nov 2, 2014, 6:02pm (UTC -5)
Fun fact I learned from this episode: Kes's normal temperature is 16 degrees. Whether that's Fahrenheit or Celsius, she's definitely on the chilly side.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this look at the Voyager that might have been. It's really an interesting plot, and Jennifer Lien shows that she can out-act Garrett Wang any day.

Side notes: it'd be interesting to see this episode recut in chronological order (past to future).

Also interesting is that a Voyager under Chakotay's command was still decades away from the Alpha Quadrant two years after the show ended.

Overall, I give this three and a half stars.

(BTW, the comment box is really tiny for some reason. It's kind of hard to self-edit when you can't easily read what you wrote).
Dave in NC
Sun, Nov 2, 2014, 6:12pm (UTC -5)
Oh, and I must admit, the thought of the Ocampan back vagina was definitely distracting. Not to be crass, but if I remember correctly Ocampans get pregnant by holding hands. Do they even have sex?

Last thought: Am I the only one who thinks it is extremely weird that Harry would marry Tom's daughter? It's probably just me, but seriously, I totally get the vibe that Harry has a secret crush on Tom.
Wed, Jan 21, 2015, 10:07pm (UTC -5)
I agree with everything Dave said. Back vagina! Lmao!
Also, Kathy & B'Elanna dead? No Seven? This time line is beyond lame!
Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
Whew, we needed a good episode!

Nice to see Jenn get an episode about Kes that isn't stupid.

She did well in this episode too!

If was fun figuring out who married whom who was the father of whom etc. :-)

Krenim stuff... was the YOH script actually written this early?

I'm NOT a fan of the new hairdo at all. I like the short haired lovable Kes :-)

I'll go 3.5 stars here too. More than solid trek episode.
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 6:03am (UTC -5)
Everyone liked the short hair better. I'm not sure if you know, but she developed an allergy to the prosthetic glue. The long hair hides the ears so that she didn't have to suffer daily.
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 7:29am (UTC -5)
Thanks Robert. I was not aware.
El Treko
Thu, Sep 10, 2015, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
How did Voyager encounter the Krenim with Kes aboard if she never tossed them beyond Borg space?

Why didn't anyone remember Kes' experience when they finally did encounter the Krenim?
Mon, Nov 2, 2015, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
I am with the majority: great episode, and Lien did some fantastic acting. It's hard to understand both why they fired her, and why she didn't go on to acting success after Voyager. The only thing I can speculate, after what happened to her recently, is that she began to develop psychological problems during her tenure on the show, and that this answers both questions.

Getting back to this episode, though, the writers also deserve credit. Part of what makes the nice acting job possible is that they really presented Kes as a well rounded character. It was especially enjoyable how, after her initial disorientation, she grabbed ahold of the reins and became such an active agent in helping to solve her own issues. And as she started to understand what was happening, she would play along more and more, at least at first (blowing out candles, holding the baby), rather than instantly freaking out in each new scenario.
Mon, Dec 28, 2015, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
@El Treko - They didn't remember her probably because the Krenim temporal incursions wiped that knowledge from Voyager crew. As for your other point, I would add that how did Voyager pass Borg space and deal with Species 8472 without Kes being affected by 8472 like she was/would be and evolving and having to leave the ship.

I hope that no Ocampa is ever alone when they give birth or that baby is going to be dropping onto the floor. Not great when you can only have one kid...

I think this episode is where the writers thought they'd killed Lt Carey off as he was mentioned as having died in the Year of Hell. They must have forgot it was a time travel episode and only had him show up in the past until "Friendship One"

Also anyone else notice that Captain Chakotay wore the standard Starfleet four pip captain rank insignia rather than a Maquis field commission version? I like to imagine him stealing them off Janeway at her funeral just before they closed the torpedo casing....
Diamond Dave
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 7:30am (UTC -5)
Another excellent performance and another excellent Kes focused show. This is becoming something of a theme. A high concept show that actually worked, what I really liked was that the pacing kept increasing toward the conclusion - it made for an exciting watch.

I'm always a sucker for 'what if' type shows and the concepts introduced here - from the minor, such as the Doctor's hair, to wonderful ideas like the 'year of hell' - are uniformly fascinating. The ending is a little trite - and the final line should burn in fire for all eternity - but overall this is a really fine episode. 3.5 stars.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 17, 2016, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
I was always struck by the gulf between the Doctor repeatedly referring to himself as "brilliant", which is an homage to the insecure narcissism of his creator, and between Voyager actually treating him as if he's brilliant, like a brilliant scientific mind.

I think the writers literally forgot that the Doc is a simulation run by the main computer, and that anything he does is the result of algorithms run by that computer. The computer is capable of simulating holo-characters that are complex, sure, and even of having them develop and learn. Of course. But we've been led to believe by this point that the main computer is capable of creating a simulation that thinks creatively, conducts research, and can devise breakthroughs no Federation scientists has thought of. What this actually means is that the main computer itself is brilliant and capable of creative, independent thinking.

What the hell?!

On the one hand, this would be an intriguing new development that could lead to sci-fi questions of whether sentience can emerge from bio-neural circuitry, and whether it is ethical to design a subservient starship from organic materials as opposed to inorganic isolinear circuitry. Because as it stands, any case for the doctor being sentient is identical with making the case that the main computer is capable of sentience.

On the other hand we're back to "Captain Dunsel", because if the Voyager computer can conduct research as well as anyone else, then why wouldn't the Federation just construct an army of computers to sit around advancing science by centuries? Think about the technology that a million holographic doctors could produce?

But really I don't think Voyager poses this question, as I think rather that, as I mentioned, the writers just outright forgot that the Doctor is run by a main computers and doesn't exist as some separate entity from it. How the portable emitter works is anyone's guess, but I'm thinking that by the 29th century that little thing probably has processing power better than Voyager's main computer anyhow.
Nicholas Ryan
Fri, Aug 19, 2016, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
As far as Kes quickly growing her hair they've established in Trek episodes that it's possible to stimulate hair follicle growth for just that purpose. Baldness is no doubt cured as well, but Roddenberry didn't think people would care in the 24th century.
Tue, Aug 23, 2016, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
If I cared about Kes even a little bit I might have liked this episode. Most of the characters on this show were simply not interesting. I like the doctor. Paris. and the half Klingon. The Vulcan and harry are watchable. Kes is just blah. Neelix is unfortunate. Janeway and Chockfullofnutskotay are unbearable.
Thu, Aug 25, 2016, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
I just realized something creepy as fuck. Harry Kim would have obviously known Linnis while she was a little hybrid growing up. So at what point did Kim decide yeah I want to date my best friends rapidly ageing two year old! I can't believe Tom didn't crack his skull.

I mean neelix did something similar with Kes but to be fair she was biologically an adult when they met.
George Monet
Mon, Sep 5, 2016, 11:06pm (UTC -5)
The time traveling in this episode was insultingly stupid. This is not how time travel works. If Kes was traveling back in time she'd be traveling backwards while remaining in her about to die 9 year old body. When she traveled back in time she'd meet her younger selves because she'd still be in her 9 year old about to die any second body. No matter how good the other parts of the episode are, this complete failure by the writers to understand how the time travel would work absolutely ruined this episode for me.

Each moment in time contains a unique Kes. Kes cannot travel backwards in time and enter her younger body because the Kes soul housed in the younger Kes body would still be housed in the younger Kes body. It is the chronitons in the old Kes body that are causing the old Kes body to travel back in time. Kes's soul does not have chronitons so would not be able to travel back in time without the body that has the chronitons.

We see how time travel would work when old Kes travels back in time to kidnap her younger self and try to smuggle her younger self away. Then that young Kes leaves a message for herself for when she comes back as an old woman.

The episode is also self contradictory. When Kes is traveling back, she travels to a point before she is housed inside an empty Kes body that hasn't yet been affected by chroniton particles. This means it is completely impossible for her to continue jumping back any further in time because it is the chronitons that are making her BODY jump. If her body doesn't have chronitons then her body can't jump back in time. Kes's BODY only gets infected with chronitons after she made the jump several weeks after the Krenim had already attacked. Kes even makes a point of scanning herself and saying that she's finally been infected by the chroniton radiation which means that she doesn't carry the chronitons into the new body, the chronitons have to already be in the Kes body she jumps into. She then somehow jumps backwards to a time before the Krenim attacked into a body that could not possibly be infected by chronitons. This means that it is impossible for her to jump any further than the 11 months she jumped into a body that was clean of chronitons. That was where the episode had to end as she cannot jump any further as she jumped into a body without chronitons.

If Kes was traveling back in time, then she cannot be pulled forward in time by a treatment that the doctor was performing after she jumps backwards in time again because she is no longer in that time period. From the perspective of the body she jumps into that treatment has never occurred and is completely disconnected from Kes. Because she is in the past compared to that treatment then she isn't being treated. She cannot be pulled forward in time by a treatment that hasn't occurred yet. She also cannot jump backwards after jumping into a body clean of chronitons. So every part of this episode is a completely plot holey mess because the writers don't have a friggin clue how time travel works and cannot be consistent even within a single episode.

Also, what the hell happens to the all the souls that Kes kicks out of the Kes body every time she jumps backwards in time? Do they travel into the actual old body that is the only thing that can jump backwards in time through some kind of body swap between the Kes of the time she jumps to and the Kes of the old body?
Tue, Nov 1, 2016, 8:10am (UTC -5)
Maybe someone can help me with this.

At any point couldn't Kes have told the doctor not to put her in the temporal chamber in the future? She dies normally (in the future) and this episode never happens. I know time travel is complicated so would be grateful if anyone can answer this one. It severely affected my enjoyment of this episode.
Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
@ Mikey
That wouldn't help Kes as she's going backward in time, which means for her she's already exposed to the temporal chamber.
It is what makes this story so intriguing, she has to find a cure and explain to the crew while trying to make sense for them on each jump.


Wow.. I've got to say my mind blowed by this episode
Excellent story, well paced, and beautifully executed

Usually I don't like much story involving timetravel and it's variations, because they tend to make paradox as excuses for story that dont (hard) to make sense, and we just have to accept it as face values (not to mention it get tiring). Thats why I dont value much 'Future End' and the dreaded awful finale VOY of 'End Game'.

But there are some that i do enjoy much like 'Cause and Effect', 'Yesterday Enterprise' on TNG, 'Year Of Hell' for Voyager, and of course the classic 'Back To The Future' for the winner. This episode is belong to one of it now.


The first 10 minutes scene is quite confusing, but enough to keep interesting and make us want to know.. "what the hell is happeing". Then come the realization that we're going backwards in time from Kes point of view (99 %, 98%, then 95% memory loss as one of the hint).

That change the whole story and scene. It brings the sense of urgency because Kes have to explain of whats happen to her to VOY crew each time she makes 'jump'. Not knowing when the next jump will happen and to which time it will bring her, add the desperation feeling to the scene.

The unique perspective from having knowledge of her future but not her past make some interesting and fun dialogue.

"You must be B'ellana"
"Last time I check"
-- Kes and Torres

"What's Happening?"
"What do you mean what's happening, you're having a baby"
-- Kes and Tom

The crew finally manage to execute treatment and 'cure' Kes on present time (Season 3).
But of course for added suspense, the treatment take times. Those allowing Kes continuing 'jump' to the event she's just joining the VOY crew, and eventually to fetal stage, before the cure take effect and Kes back to the 'temporal sync' to the rest of crew on present time (the time the treatment taken).


While at the end of the episode we're still given the big reset button again, this time I do not mind because the whole story is so brilliant and flawless.
Great performance by Lien, the way she keep her compusure and not pushing her problem when the ship is on critical is also acknowledgment by writer to how much her character has grown and mature now.

We also get the preview of what might happen on 'Year Of Hell'. Too bad instead of a full season with real Year of Hell on season 4, we only got 2 episodes with big reset button at the end (and they forgot that temporal info given by Kes).

4 star from me
Fri, Feb 10, 2017, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
@ George Monet
"The time traveling in this episode was insultingly stupid. This is not how time travel works....... this complete failure by the writers to understand how the time travel would work...."

George. I think you completely spoiled by so many tropes of time-travel stories. Which has usual the usual temporal paradox, timeloop, alternate reality, etc...
In all fairness, no one really know HOW TIME TRAVEL works, it may even be impossible for all we know. It is.. a fiction afterall. So to saying this is not the way its work is.. ignorance on your part.

I'm getting tired of the timetravel tropes for quite a time now. It's awesome on BTTF. It's wonderful on some episodes like 'Yesterday Enterprise' or 'Year of Hell'. But it's also sucks on some episodes because offer little to no explanation and totally confusing with the usual excuse 'effects can precede cause', like the one on 'Time and Again', 'Parallax', 'Relativity' for episodes that dont make sense. Heck, 'Future End' is also fall to that trope, and only kinda work because has strong stories overall, although if you think it further.. still don't make sense!
The idea is beaten to death already to make 'out of the box' episodes so they can kill/destroy/do whatever awesome happen, just to reset it at the end because 'alternate reality', 'timeline reset' or whatever.

For me. This one is BEAUTIFUL for the SIMPLICITY of time-travel stories it's offer. No paradox, no-nonses. Imagine you can go back to the time of your younger self to change future, something that we often dream of. It's as simple of that, no-fuss. You still you, only all the universe around you that change, maybe one episodes that has a little resemblance to this is 'Tapestry'.

The only handicap for this episodes is.. You don't remember your past, because you actually travelling from the future to past, working backward. Your memory now become the future for all the others, while their past is now become your future! It's an idea that not-hard to grasp, and it's worked well here.


"Kes cannot travel backwards in time and enter her younger body because the Kes soul housed in the younger Kes body would still be housed in the younger Kes body."

Why cannot? I explain in the above. The younger will not still be housed. It's changed, replaced!. It's even the most simplest, you still you.. no paradox-fuss!


"It is the chronitons in the old Kes body that are causing the old Kes body to travel back in time. Kes's soul does not have chronitons so would not be able to travel back in time without the body that has the chronitons."

No.. It's the bio-temporal trearment that set the whole motion of travelling backwards through time. For her, she's already got the radiation because 'Kes old' dying moment in bio-temporal bed now become the starting point of 'her-birth'.
Forget the radiation, that's not even matter anymore once the 'travelling backwards' already in motion. The way to stop it is to put her back in bio-temporal to bring back her in sync, the radiation only matter to know the value offset need to administer the dose on bio-temporal.


"We see how time travel would work when old Kes travels back in time to kidnap her younger self and try to smuggle her younger self away. Then that young Kes leaves a message for herself for when she comes back as an old woman."

Fury episodes? I see that one is a messed for the reason I mention early on. Fury has so many plot holes. You believe the younger Kes will still act like nothing happen after she know Janeway would kill her in the future?
That knowledge alone should affect her relationship to many of the crew (may choose to go home early, stop to learn mental-ability, and so so many unfathomable consequences along the way), also affect Janeway and Tuvok as well. Event and timeline SHOULD unfold DIFFERENT afterwards, no way it's still going exactly the way before like nothing ever happen!


"The episode is also self contradictory. When Kes is traveling back, she travels to a point before she is housed inside an empty Kes body that hasn't yet been affected by chroniton particles. This means it is completely impossible for her to continue jumping back any further in time because it is the chronitons that are making her BODY jump. If her body doesn't have chronitons then her body can't jump back in time."

Again, it's not the the chronitons that make her jump and backwards in time. It is the bio-temporal treatment that doing it. The chronitons radiations only the carrier, something like a carrier-virus or latency/dormant-virus on medical. But it's the bio-temporal treatment that trigger that 'virus' to active and set the backwards-time.


Almost all the cast doing excellent job in this episodes, particularly Lien and McNeil. Linnis also a joy to watch. Only Garret Wang--as usual (Harry Kim) and Andrew character who's underperformed.

I enjoy much this episodes even after rewatching. I voted this one of the rare-gems on Voyager.

In retrospect. This episodes could do help 'Fury' a little and put a little sense for her angry. She has reason for it. Because with her early departure and Janeway-Torres alive, she lost her life/family as she know it..
Instead, the writer on 'Fury' choose Kes simply just go senile and nuts. Well, Fury is still a messed stories tough whatever the reason given, and disservice to Kes character.
Sun, May 21, 2017, 9:41am (UTC -5)
The beginning felt a little too much like a low-energy "All Good Things...," with both Lien and Mulgrew no Patrick Stewart but still good in their own right, otherwise pretty good uses of characters but the pacing felt a little too random.
Wed, Jun 21, 2017, 4:25pm (UTC -5)
Enjoyable episode - and pretty clever, although completely implausible (but we'll wave our hands for the purpose of just enjoying the sci-fi).
The writing/directing leading to the Krenim attack and the special torpedoes was well done. The episode does a good job of setting the stage for the mystery and providing clues along the way and it also tells an interesting story of an alternate timeline. I didn't mind the medi-babble / techno-babble here -- it seemed to make rough sense within the paradigm of Trek sci-fi.
The ending was a bit of a mess because it seems to me Kes was just going through the part of reverse aging to become a child then a baby (without the right ears) and then an embryo in her mind whereas the previous reverse aging was actually really lived. The treatment with the reverse particles took her back all the way to pre-birth and that was taking place in her mind somehow...Anyhow, if Jammer's confused, I'm more than confused.
And what about how Kes's species gives birth -- personally I don't think the writers needed to change that from regular humans but whatever -- just an odd thing to throw in.
Have to wonder if some of what Kes has experienced in the future comes true (not having seen subsequent seasons of VOY) but the episode might serve a good purpose like that.
Pretty good VOY episode - deserves 3 stars. Lien did a decent acting job and carried the creative episode.
William B
Mon, Oct 16, 2017, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
I think this episode works for me especially well for two reasons. One is that I think it does something akin to Innocence, but applied to a main cast member: because we follow Kes' life as it travels in reverse (and because Kes herself does the same), we look at the life cycle anew. The rise-and-fall structure of a life, where personal power and vitality peaks somewhere "in the middle" after a slow rise and preceding a slow decline, has a symmetric quality. Kes' lack of memory at the end of her life and gradual building up of an identity as she moves backwards in time connects with the way people's memories gradually fade as they enter senility. But there's also the way people's treatment of Kes changes; as both senior and child (with her father), people refuse to take Kes' dire (and accurate) reports of what's going on with her seriously, even her most beloved people. This episode is also one of the few that actually makes use of Kes' abbreviated lifespan to tell a story. It might have been cooler, had (SPOILERS) Lien stayed on the show, to actually show this Ocampa-generational transformation over the seasons rather than over an episode, but here the shortened timeframe emphasizes the shortness-of-life even further, where Kes' whole life flashes by *for Kes* in a handful of days, shortening her already brief lifespan to a few flashes. As with Remember Me, where Beverly's personal experience (which is linked to aging) goes misunderstood by those around her (apparently), the way in which the severity of Kes' plight is either ignored or, when Kes gets to her maximum vitality, imperfectly understood by those around her is kind of moving. Most people live more than nine years (more than a few days), obviously, but the way everyone else's lives seem to stand still while Kes zooms through is kind of touching, as if only Kes is sufficiently enlightened to be aware of her mortality, and cannot quite convince anyone around her of the scale of it while they deal with the problems-of-the-week (month, year [of hell]) which are all important, too. Given that Kes (again SPOILER) is about to leave the ship, this also suggests an alternate life, the kind she could have had, and it's wistful for that reason, particularly coming so soon before her actual departure. The Tom/Kes chemistry is really effective, and does make me wonder whether that relationship could have gone somewhere, but it works here as a might-have-been. The Doc/Kes material throughout is also touching, particularly the opening/(ending) "you're my dearest friend." I like that Kes really does become the master of her fate here, where her ability to explain her situation to those around her gets stronger and stronger, and she is the one to take the heroic and painful risk of measuring the temporal phase variance thing from the Krenim torpedo.

The episode overdoes the technobabble, and the recapitulation of the plot of the episode gets tiresome after a while. And yeah, the ending doesn't seem to make any sense. Somehow the procedure "finishes" on Kes in Year Three after a while, while Kes is herself spinning backwards in time, until it finishes and she snaps back? What? I think maybe had the episode incorporated Kes' telepathic powers in some way it would also have been stronger and felt like a more complete grace note for the character, and that might have also papered over some of the open questions on a plot level. But I still like it a lot. 3.5 stars.
Fri, Nov 10, 2017, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
This episode has some problems, but I'm not even going to get into it. Because after the last several episodes of total crap, this is actually good, and I don't want to spoil it by analyzing it too much.

3 stars.
Habitat Ringer
Sat, Nov 11, 2017, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Keep saying this to yourself, "Kes is no 7 of 9". This was one of the worst. I never felt the Ocampa story line was very believable.

I can wrap my mind around Norg nanaprobes so much easier. Good riddence.
Thu, Nov 23, 2017, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Very good episode but I have a bone to pick with the producers.

If you're going to give Kes different wigs during the show to signify what time period she is in, don't choose this episode to change her hairstyle! At the end it wasn't clear whether we were seeing future Kes (relative to the previous/next episodes) or present day Kes. What stupid timing that was. I'd assumed the ending it was in the future because we hadn't seen kes with hair like that before and it would have taken a long time to grow it that long.
Tue, Dec 5, 2017, 1:16am (UTC -5)
3.5 stars. One of a handful of really good episodes in an otherwise awful season

This was the best Kes episode ever done.
The episode had no filler or lulls. It was solid from start to finish

Not only was the idea to frame the episode around Kes’s dying and attempts to live longer a cool idea but the idea of residual chroniton in her system being rewctivated by the treatment to prolong her life was really smart and well done. As was the idea of traveling backwards through time allowing not only interesting glimpses of an”What if” nature—which were interesting in and of themselves—but also as a “This Is Your Life” abridged addition for Kes who would be written off and a lot of this would never have gotten explored/—was very nice

I admit VOY never did romance well but I did like the Paris/Kes pairing and this was back before atom started being poorly written in season four. I thought they made a cute couple
Kes was never so lovely
I liked the ominous tease of the Krenim and the idea of a species utilizing technology that exists outside normal Time was fairly original and inventive

I also thought the jumps back to the pilot, to a younger Kes still living underground then to a fetus then nothingness were all quite fantastic.
Ben E
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
I'm really surprised at how much people liked this one. This was in my opinion one of the weakest in the series and left me feeling kind of betrayed. Hard to put the feeling more into words than that, but just left behind.

And RIP Kes's hair.
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
This is one of my favorite episodes, and I say this as someone who considers Kes my least favorite character. It's just such a fascinating, and in many ways horrifying episode.

While I'm beyond relieved that B'Elanna, and by extension Paris/Torres, was saved by the end of this episode, I'm surprised that NO ONE seems to ever comment on the fact that Linnis and Andrew were completely erased from history. Don't get me wrong, I'd sacrifice those bland two for Miral, Seven, the Borglets, and the billions Janeway saved from the Borg in "Endgame;" but even so, it's still horrifying to see two individual people rewound to babies, then to not being born, then to never going to be born, ever.

This is one aspect of time travel in "Star Trek" that the franchise almost never addresses; "Year of Hell" seemed to be the only episode that actually dealt with the issue of real people being erased from history. So did Kes hold a private memorial for Linnis and Andrew, or just think of them like characters from a strange dream? What happens when a time-traveler's children are erased from history?
Warp 10 Lizard
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 11:51pm (UTC -5)
EDIT: "Deep Space Nine's" episode "Children of Time" addresses EXACTLY the issue I talked about in my last post. Not sure how I forgot that, since I vented extensively on this very site about that episode....

In any case, thanks again for these interesting reviews, and allowing doofs like me to blab our two cents in the comments section.
Fri, Mar 30, 2018, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
I never liked the character of Kes when I saw it first time. But re watching it now,
Lien could really act, and her voice. It is pity that they did not keep her and let her develop.
Wed, Apr 11, 2018, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
I was super creeped put that Harry had a baby with Tom's daughter. I don't know why, but like... ick.
Sat, May 12, 2018, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
According to the episode Harry was also the best man at Tom’s and Kes’ wedding. Where I come from, the best man gets to be godfather of the first child. That would mean Harry married his goddaughter :D :D
Sun, Jul 8, 2018, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Wow, VOY really hit the skids in season 3. Usually when rewatching a ST series I miss out the odd episode, but this time through, this one and 'Unity' were the only ones I even bothered with out of the last handful.

One thing I've noticed this time is that Kes annoys me a lot less than usual. I actually really appreciated her understated acting in this ep (I may have been burned out on Avery Brooks' overacting, having just been through the otherwise much superior DS9).

One thing thougn - and I have to bring this up because it's driving me nuts, and once you start noticing it I promise it'll drive you nuts, too - even in these two superior episodes, the inexplicable fetish by the writers for the phrase 'some kind of' is as rampant as ever. I mean, really, in most of these cases, they could have just said 'a'.

In 'Unity' and 'Before and After' alone, we get

"some kind of stasis"
"some kind of colony"
"some sort of natural disaster"
"some sort of axonal amplifier"
"some Borg collective"
"some neural processor"
"some kind of automaton"
"some sort of senility"
"some kind of time paradox"
"some kind of radiation poisoning"
"some sort of biotemporal field"
Thu, Sep 6, 2018, 2:16am (UTC -5)

Thanks for the review..can you elaborate on why exactly you found the ending to be as you put it inventive and labyrinthine..thanks I would appreciate it..since all we see is Kes' consciousness move backward until before her birth and then fast forward again...
Sun, Sep 9, 2018, 1:02am (UTC -5)
A solid ep that held my attention. It was fun to see possible futures for our characters.

I had no trouble accepting the premise, or the way she time traveled, but was confused by her physical disappearance in the scene while she's in the containment field. I told myself that was her perception of it.

I also didn't think that little girl Kes should have known that she went to the surface and Voyager saved her from the Kazon. How could she have known that when she didn't live it? Up to that point she only remembers what she's actually backward-lived.

Kes was never that interesting to me, so the ep didn't grab me all that much, but the story was entertaining. Baby Kes sure was cute. Just seeing that baby made the ep worthwhile. :)
Sean Hagins
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 2:06am (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode. I know it wasn't time travel, but it reminds me of the episode of TNG where Worf was bouncing thru different possible dimensions.

The only thing that rang false with me was that they had REALLY old makeup for Kes at 9 years old, and yet 6 months earlier she looked exactly the same as she does in the usual "present" I mean if a woman was say 80, she would look younger at 70, but not the same as she did at 30. Was there any makeup at all there? (I mean during the time when her grandson was being born and her daughter says how Harry is playing with him, but she isn't comfortable)

Still, that nitpick aside, it was a nice story
Wed, Mar 6, 2019, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
The name of this episode should have been "After and Before". Really, a little bit of clever can help a show, and they didn't have much of it on Voyager.
Sat, Jul 6, 2019, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
If Kes is 9 years old when the show opens how does she have a daughter that is in her 20s?
Sleeper Agent
Sat, Jul 13, 2019, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
I'm with Ben E on this one.

Time jump stories seldom impresses me more than they plain annoy me. This one is no exception. There's no satisfying explanation as to why Kes experience her whole life backwards and there's really nothing in the story that is interesting except for the Krenim race. And to top it all off it ends with an excruciatingly crinchy "Carpe Diem!" message, which misses the point of the expression completely - I mean did she really abruptly ditch a party in her honor just to write a report? How lame, not to mention rude.

Usually I agree or at least understand why some episodes are popular, but regarding 'Before and After' I'm left clueless. Trek junk.

0,5 Star.
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Why this is rated so highly? Boring episode, so glad that Kes got away in season 4. Ridiculous and dumb premise, done so many times in Trek to the point that makes me yawn.

0.5 stars
Tue, Oct 29, 2019, 2:25pm (UTC -5)
Did they ever provide an explanation for Voyager passing through Borg space + 10.000 light years to reach the Krenim imperium? Could Annorax' temporal incursions have influenced the Collective's expanse across the quadrant? Did Janeway stumble across a wormhole in this timeline?

It almost seems like Voyager meeting (and defeating) the Krenim timeship was a predestination paradox.

All in all, rewatching this episode made me remember just how different Voyager was in the first three seasons compared to the final four. Firing Lien still remains a mistake, she gave the show a unique alure that characters like Chakotay and Kim never truly did.
Shawn Davis
Thu, Nov 28, 2019, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
I’m watching this episode for the first time in a long time since I’ve seen this show. I can tell you right now; this episode which involves Kes is much better than some of the previous spotlight episodes of her from season 2 like Cold Fire and especially the horrible Elogium episode. I pretty much agree with Jammer on his review of this episode so I will not repeat it here.
Tue, Apr 14, 2020, 3:41pm (UTC -5)
Interesting episode with some nice "future that never comes to pass" touches. I'm not quite sure how the time travel is supposed to work though, and I'm not sure the writer thought it out either. Is Kes physically vanishing as shown in the one scene, or is she mentally traveling back and appearing at different points in her life (which is how most of the episode appears to treat what is happening to her, i.e. appearing during her party or when she's giving birth). That people are aware of what she's been doing a few minutes earlier would seem to indicate that she's been there all along even if she's not aware of it, and the fact that it's the purging of the radiation from her cells in the "present day" that stops the travel would seem to indicate she's not physically hopping from one time to another.

But then shouldn't every future version of the characters be well aware of what's happening to Kes since she's told them in the past (from their point of view)?

It's a fun episode, and I enjoy the alternate version of the Year of Hell that we'll get to watch for real in the next season, but the storytelling logic of the episode doesn't quite work. I still really enjoy this episode and find that it's best just to settle down and enjoy the time travel and fun alternate history scenarios. It's too bad Linnis and Andrew will never exist in the actual timeline. I liked both of them.
Mon, Apr 20, 2020, 10:28am (UTC -5)
This was a ship-in-the-bottle episode that didn't realize it's full potential. The characters in Voyager are just too bland to get away with idle inter-personal dialogue. What worked in TNG didn't work in Voyager. We don't care what Kes experiences or thinks...because she is a bland and uninteresting character. The writer's can't create these serious family scenes for Kes when we the audience could care less about them.

This episode demonstrates the concept of "entropy". In physics a closed system will break down into disorder. The same can be said for science fiction stories. You need outside additions (new characters, new races, new concepts) to be periodically injected into a series for it to work...or it decays into entropy. The other trek shows had a relationship with the Federation and strong reoccurring characters that added vitality to the show. Voyager didn't.
Sarjenka's Brother
Wed, May 13, 2020, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
I'm saying this as a serial overanalyzer and overthinker, but sometimes you just go to chill the phuck out, relax and enjoy the show.

And I enjoyed this show. Especially the Year in Hell foreshadowing.

Long-hair, post-Neelix Kes is great. Sorry she's nearing the end of her run.
Sarjenka's Brother
Fri, May 15, 2020, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Also, looking ahead, I think "Before and After" kicks off six good episodes of "Voyager" in a row here at the end of Season 3.

I can't think of a time in Seasons 1 or 2 or the first half of Season 3 with that many in a row that I thought were in the good or better categories.

And I happened to have missed a lot of these particular ones back in the day.
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
The doctor has a name and a full head of hair. Harry not only gets promoted, but finds romance as well. And Chakotay, by becoming captain, finally would have had the opportunity for some character development.

I think I liked "Before and After's" timeline better than the one we actually got.
Fri, Oct 30, 2020, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
"Listen: Jennifer Lien has become unstuck in time."
Fri, Oct 30, 2020, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
I understand Chakotay occupying the POSITION of "Captain" after Janeway's demise, but don't accept his actually attaining the RANK of "Captain" (with four pips on his collar) after her death. Who promoted him to that rank? No military tradition (except in the Klingon military) calls for someone to "move up in rank" just because his superior dies. So we are forced to assume that Janeway had already promoted him to "Captain" before her death (is it possible to promote someone to one's own rank?), or on her deathbed. Otherwise, we have to imagine Chakotay simply "usurping" the rank after her death.
Seriously: He should have been kept at his rank of full "Commander" and assumed the POSITION of "Acting Captain."
Neil Mack
Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 7:37am (UTC -5)
Another instance where you haven't aligned your scores with other shows. You say this isn't quite the drama of Yesterday's Enterprise (and I'd say a long way off) yet you give this 3.5 stars!

I found this quite mundane. It was ok in places, especially the bit which reminded me of The Butterfly Effect when he goes back pre-birth. But even that bit was not done well. How does she pass the point where doc is firing Croniton(??) beams at her yet able to reverse back (forward) to then?

2 stars for me
Tue, Mar 16, 2021, 3:51pm (UTC -5)
Regarding what Alex said, in older Naval tradition, the position of captain devolved on the highest ranking subordinate (usually a lieutenant) when the captain expired. This was in the days when you couldn't just radio your superior that your captain was dead and have a replacement flown out in a few days. Voyager is essentially in that position here. There are no replacements to be had. When the captain dies, the first officer becomes captain. This includes title and rank pips. Indeed, when Tuvok received command in "Resolutions", he should have changed into command red and put two more pips on his collar, and probably reconfigured the chain of command: chosen a first officer, for example. It's almost like he knew that the captain and Chakotay were going to come back...
Paul C
Tue, Apr 20, 2021, 3:11am (UTC -5)
Before watching checked Jammers score - assumed it must be really good for 3.5 stars!

Snooze fest that was laughable and not believable in many places.

Already forgotten it.

None of it made sense and worse, I wasn’t made to care.
Sun, May 2, 2021, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
>If Kes is 9 years old when the show opens how does she have a daughter that is in her 20s?

May be the daughter aged fast because she's half Ocampan?

>But then shouldn't every future version of the characters be well aware of what's happening to Kes since she's told them in the past (from their point of view)?

That's a really good point and is true of other time travel episodes such as "All Good Things".
Sat, Jun 26, 2021, 3:47am (UTC -5)
I always loved this episode. Great ep that used the character of Kes in a very interesting way. I’d love to see a version that somehow included reference to more stuff that happened to Voyager later, eg reference to the Delta Flyer, maybe show Astrometrics, hell even have Seven of Nine onboard at the same time as Kes.

I’ve been listening to the Delta Flyers Podcast and I can’t wait to hear them talk about Lien’s departure and the arrival of Jeri Ryan. I wonder how much they’ll go into the behind the scenes decisions of what went on there. I didn’t hate Kes (and I actually got an autograph from Lien when she came to Australia in 1997… though it was a very strange con appearance from her at the Opera House from her.)
Michael Miller
Tue, Nov 30, 2021, 8:25pm (UTC -5)
So many confusing things in this episode. Kes states that she "came into existence at the moment of her death" but wouldn't she still have memories of her life if she already experienced them. Going back in time doesn't erase memories already obtained? And it was unclear if every time she jumped back in time, if she was actually disappearing from each time frame, or that was just her consciousness moving back through time to her younger body every time. And toward the end, if she was in fact disappearing from every time frame during each backward jump, that means she would have disappeared from the biotemporal chamber as they were trying to "lower her chroniton levels" so how did she manage to start going foward again if she was no longer in the time frame getting that "anti-chroniton" pulse? I have an interesting theory though as to why her backward jumps became accelerated and so much more frequent toward the end. She was already infected with the radiation to start with, and when she jumped back in time to when that torpedo hit the ship, she was RE-infected again! Now she had double the radiation since she was infected a 2nd time in that time frame! I was wondering if maybe returning to a fetal stage of a few cells, allowed the radiation to dissipate or something, since there weren't enough cells to "hold it" and maybe that's why she was able to go foward again. Anyway, endless questions, but very good episode. 4 🌟
Michael Miller
Tue, Nov 30, 2021, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
And the point about getting "re-infected" with the particles, is a reason that "wormhole time machines" may be physically impossible in real life. The radiation could keep entering the wormhole an infinite amount of times, looping back to the past, wandering around until it reaches the present day, and fall into the wormhole again..etc, so the radiation could get strong enough to kill you or collapse the wormhole altogether, cause of this infinite feedback loop.
Sat, Mar 19, 2022, 3:00am (UTC -5)
Some episodes, I have observed, seem to take Voyager (the series) where it had decided not to go. "Resolutions" looked at Janeway/Chakotay, "Year of Hell" was the ship actually getting busted up, and this one was Kes living out her life on Voyager. Because we weren't seeing it happen going forward, it could be more daring (I don't think Harry/Linnis would have worked if we'd seen her as a young child just a couple of years earlier). But... well, geez. The Doctor had a name (and hair), Harry was promoted, and Chakotay and Neelix went in new directions... I think I liked this reality better than the one we got!
Sun, Apr 3, 2022, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
I'm a sucker for this type of time travel story. 4 stars.
Fri, Jun 10, 2022, 2:56pm (UTC -5)
Jammer and everybody wouldn't youbsay in retrospect this episode is VERY ORIGINAL and not standard Trekkian time travke at all since we have NEVER seen temporal radiation or a bio chamber or someone living their lives backwards and then their consciousness continuing before their birth??
Thu, Aug 11, 2022, 11:14am (UTC -5)
I like this episode and agree with Jammer's rating. It's *not* that it's great from a plausibility standpoint. The "science" is absolute nonsense, and there are a great many things that are simply illogical to boot (or become illogical retroactively thanks to future episodes, like the Krenim existing well beyond Borg space, but still being encountered by Voyager here). But the execution of the story more than makes up for it, and I agree with reviewers who state that there's a fair bit of originality to this time-travel premise.

So the episode has a certain "Je ne sais quoi" about it that makes it work (for me). It could be that, for once, Voyager is doing something interesting with its characters, and allowing us to explore avenues we wouldn't normally be able to. The only problem with Voyager's "what-if" scenarios is that they always hit the reset button on them. I'm reminded of "Coda," where all of the poignant character drama surrounding Janeway's death never actually happened (except in her own mind!). But at least they followed up with the Year of Hell and explored it further. Yet, it was still a hard reset even then. Arguably, given the initial premise of the series of being stranded with dwindling resources and crew hostility, all of Voyager should have been a lot like "Year of Hell".

Mikey asked above on Nov. 1, 2016 why Kes didn't simply ask the past Doc not to put her int the bio-temporal chamber in the first place. The answer is because this would lead to a paradox: if she had never been put in the chamber in the future, she would never have started travelling to the past, and so she would never have been there (with knowledge of a problem) to tell past Doc not to do it! Any attempt to change the past, whether it be by means of physical time travel to the past, or reverse causation, will lead to this issue. It's an example of what's called the Grandfather Paradox, because it's the exact same type of logical contradiction that would come up if it were possible for you to travel back in time and kill your own grandfather before he had a chance to procreate.

If (as modelled in Special and General Relativity), time is just another dimension (which is sort of necessary for us to even be able to conceptualize it as something you can travel "through"), then past, present, and future, are arbitrary and observer-dependent distinctions. (One person's past could be another's present, in real life physics). All events *exist* in 4D spacetime. Combine that with the Grandfather Paradox issue from above, and you quickly come to the conclusion that if there's only a single timeline, it cannot be mutable or changeable. This contradicts Tuvok's musings at the end of the episode that Kes's actions to change the past would cause the future to be rewritten "from that point forward", and hence that what she experienced was only one possible future. If you don't believe me, consider how Kes learned from a future Krenim engagement that a possible defense against the Krenim was to realign the targeting scanners to detect chronitons and enable the torpedo to be destroyed before it could be launched. They were working on it, but hadn't quite figured it out. Later in the episode, when she has travelled further back, to the time of their first encounter with the Krenim, she gives Janeway and Harry this tip, and they make it work. But if they had already figured it out in their first engagement, they wouldn't have been *trying* to figure it out in that future one, and so Kes would never have gleaned the tip. This is a Granfather Paradox as well. Any attempt to change the past leads to this problem two inconsistent histories somehow needing to exist Simultaneously. Thus the only past-time-travel stories that work logically are ones with *completely self-consistent* time loops where the traveller can participate in the past the way it always was, but not change it. Whatever will happen, is whatever always did.

Of course, if there are multiple timelines, then we can get around this paradox, because Kes's actions in the past spawn a new timeline that is different from the one that she came from. So it's okay that the crew figures out her tactical tip here, because that leads to a different future that exists alongside the other future Kes came from (in which they still hadn't figured out the tactical advantage until later). But multiple timelines are problematic in another way: they really lower the stakes of a story. Why should we care about a character's struggle to prevent one bad future, when infinitely-many other futures exist alongside it?

I also agree with the reviewers who stated that the specific time travel mechanism in this episode was vague and contradictory. Mike stated very pompously on Oct 31, 2008 that it should have been obvious to Jammer that Kes really was physically travelling back in time. Granted, that interpretation is consistent with the fact she was shown disappearing from inside the bio-containment field. And it's consistent with the fact that her body continued to have chronitons in it even when she travelled back to time periods earlier than the torpedo incident. But it's totally *not* consistent with the fact that she woke up in her younger body, rather than retaining her original 9-year-old one, and meeting her past selves. So the only way to make the story work seems to be to ignore that we saw her "disappearing" that one time, and just interpret what we're seeing as her *consciousness* travelling back in time to inhabit her past physical bodies. This would then resolve the discrepancy pointed out by Springy on Sep 9, 2018 that adolescent Kes shouldn't have known about her future self going to the surface and escaping to Voyager. But if you decide that Kes's consciousness was inhabiting younger and younger bodies, then you realize that those bodies had a higher and higher percentage of her memory "engrams" intact, each time she jumped. So in addition to retaining memories of *this* episode's events, she also started to get back more and more recollection of her actual life as she jumped. By the time she had travelled back to season 3, she would have recalled all of her life up to that point, because the body she was inhabiting had those memories.

So my head canon is that her consciousness was travelling through time, not her physical body. Why would "chroniton particles" cause this? Who knows. As I said, the science of the episode is junk. But this is the only way to reconcile most of what we saw in the episode. Her consciousness travelled all the way back to the moment of her conception, but then was somehow yanked back to Season 3 by the act of purging her Season 3 body of chronitons. Does it make sense? No. Did it lead some of the more interesting drama and exploration of character we've had on this series? Absolutely, yes.
Thu, Aug 11, 2022, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
To be clear on the above comment, I'm not saying that interpreting things my way can resolve all the plot contradictions. Interpreting things my way (IMO) tends to minimize the issues you have to gloss over, not remove them entirely. My theory that she starts to get back memories as she inhabits her younger bodies is inconsistent with the fact that she still didn't remember having been married to Tom after several jumps. And if her consciousness is the only thing travelling, there's no way to explain why her body retains chronitons in the past. I'm just more okay glossing over those things than the other things that you'd have to gloss over in order to swallow that she was physically travelling.
Fri, Feb 10, 2023, 2:39pm (UTC -5)
From Mark:
> Some episodes, I have observed, seem to take Voyager (the series) where it had decided not to go. "Resolutions" looked at Janeway/Chakotay, "Year of Hell" was the ship actually getting busted up, and this one was Kes living out her life on Voyager. Because we weren't seeing it happen going forward, it could be more daring (I don't think Harry/Linnis would have worked if we'd seen her as a young child just a couple of years earlier). But ... well, geez. The Doctor had a name (and hair), Harry was promoted, and Chakotay and Neelix went in new directions ... I think I liked this reality better than the one we got!

I feel similarly, but I would say that the changes we did see were good. I liked seeing the Year of Hell with Seven and Tom/B'Elanna always fit better. The Neelix/Kes/Tom triangle always rubbed me the wrong way. (I.e., neither Neelix nor Tom was a good fit.)

The real problem with Season 4-7 was not so much what happened, but what didn't happen. Harry Kim spun his wheels -- comically so. There was almost no character development except ... for Tuvok, Neelix, Seven, and the Doctor. Everyone else had *zero* development. (No, Tom and B'Elanna getting to be better life mates is not character development. Both are the saem characters, just settling into a romantic relationship.)
Sat, Apr 15, 2023, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode once I started to understand it. But it's the simple touches that matter. For example, the Doctor's self-laudatory evaluations of what he had done or had yet to do at some other time are highly amusing. Picardo carries the role so well.
Wed, Jun 28, 2023, 4:27am (UTC -5)
QUESTION for Jammer et al, Jammer you said the ending was quite "inventive and labyrinthine," but how? Where? Kes keeps jumping back and then her consciounsess, I guess goes into limbo and then she goes forward again..How is that inventive or labyrinthine? I would've wanted more to happen after we go before her fetal stage and her consciousness is sort sort adrift..or something else to happen.Normally I want to agree when you praise episode for being inventive or original..but in this case I. Ot sure I see it..what does anyone else think? I agree the premise is NOT derivative of All Good things or other time travel because Kes is not just randomly jumping forward and back and to present through time but going backwards after coming into existence at her death,, which is very original and never been done in Trek or other sci-fi that I know of. But the ending..I dunno..I'm not sure what I would've done differently..What does everyone else think? Jammer, will you see this?
45 RPM
Fri, Jul 28, 2023, 7:50pm (UTC -5)
Jammers review was "There's a seriousness to the situation that reminds me of what I used to think Voyager as a series was all about: that of a lone starship having to cope with difficult or even extreme circumstances."

It would seem the only time the writers allowed for these kind of extreme circumstances was when they had an insta-reset button that could be pressed at the end of the episode. "insta -reset" in this case being 'temporal'. In this episode it was Kes. In the S4 ep Year of Hell, where we were finally introduced to the Krenim it was the Krenim themselves that provided that reset.

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