In which a whole bunch of old cameos crop up.
Janeway seems to be kind of mad at Tuvok, the kind of mad where you start out by establishing how much you respect someone so you can keelhaul them. However, this is an elaborate set-up to surprise Tuvok that she’s figured out his hundredth birthday is coming up. She promises to keep his secret, but seeing as she’s replicated him a personal cake he’ll have to walk out with, it’s not much of a secret. Not long after that, the plot begins – an Ocampan shuttle is on sensors, carrying Old Kes, who after requesting permission to come aboard, rams Voyager and starts Carrie-ing the corridors.
Kes is giving off ‘neurogenic’ energy, which the internal sensors can detect, and which is blowing apart the corridors and letting her pass through force fields like they’re made of rice paper. It’s also letting her shrug off phaser rifle bolts like they’re paintballs, although she is still old and the effort costs her. She heads to Engineering, moves Torres and Seven aside, and heads right for the warp core. She appears to be using it for power, and vanishes in a blaze of light after killing B’Elanna.
Kes reappears in engineering, with Torres very much alive, and disguises herself as Young Kes, evidently back sometime when she was a ship’s regular. 56 days into the trip, in fact. Back when the Doctor was deep into picking a name. She steals a hypospray and heads to hydroponics to put her original double out of commission, and incidentally why didn’t the Doctor comment on Kes having apparently changed clothes? Next, Kes has to navigate her relationship with Neelix, in case you’d forgotten how irritating that was.
This was back when Voyager was being pursued by Vidiians for their organs. Evidently, urban legends like the guy who wakes up with no kidneys are still a thing in the 24th century. Kes arrives with coffee and proceeds to hack Janeway’s computer. When she leaves, Tuvok gets goosebumps when she looks at him. But in like a Harry Potter – Querril way, not a Kirk/Spock way.
Voyager was, at this point in history, being herded by the Vidiians into a region like the Badlands, with numerous hazards that prevent warp travel. There’s a handy mnemonic that states that you can’t steer at warp – course corrections put so much stress on the hull that it could fracture. So in a region full of hazards, they’d have to drop to impulse to chart around the next shoal – unless they preprogram their course so that Voyager auto-navigates and hope that nothing has shifted since their last sensor sweep of the region. They need a better scan of the region, but the course corrections are at least one advantage of the neural gelpacks.
Tuvok suggests that instead of a shuttle to map the region they send the Delta Flyer. Which hasn’t been built yet. We can guess what’s happened – with Tuvok having done so much mind-melding with Kes over the course of her learning to use her powers, it’s possible the piece of him still in her mind is connecting with past!Tuvok thanks to her neurogenic energy leakage. Or something.
Kes next checks out a shuttle, plotting a course back to Ocampa when she’s caught by Tom, being all friendly in that way that used to drive Neelix crazy. Oh, how far we’ve come. Meanwhile, Tuvok is having visions of Naomi Wildman, Secven and the kids, the works. And old!Kes is grossed out, apparently, by Neelix making dinner for her and signalling his availability for a booty call. Instead of taking him up (and evidently, one of the ways to load replicator programs may involve just making the meal and uploading it, which sounds pretty great, honestly), she opens an encrypted signal to the Vidiians, offering them critical itelligence to help capture Voyager, because she says that Voyager abandoned her. Evidently she remembers that day a bit differently now.
Past!Kes has been stored in a hydroponics storage unit that’s conveniently empty, and Future!Kes’ abilities let her hack past passwords. While this is going on, Tuvok has gotten around to explaining his hallucinations to Janeway. There’s not much time to go over this, as they’re approaching the vacuuol field, their 216 minijumps, and the impending Vidiian ambush. The computer piloting program is, fortunately, smart enough to adjust the vector to correct for minor vacuuol shifts, so the amount of autonomy Starfleet allows its ships to have lies somewhere between that and plotting the whole course itself. Whereas it allows much more complex programs to exist so long as they’re isolated from the command structure – witness the Doctor and the lack of an Emergency Command or Engineering hologram.
Tuvok is getting more future visions, and requests relief from his bridge station. Janeway beats him down to sick bay, because she’s asking about Ensign Wildman’s pregnancy to follow up on Tuvok’s premonitions. Evidently back in this time, Doctor-patient confidentiality briefly existed before being thrown away again. When Janeway raises her voice about the security of the ship, though, it does seem as if there are some practical exceptions that don’t require her to fill out any paperwork.
Tuvok’s visions take him to engineering where he sees B’Elanna’s death and goes into shock. Nurse Kes fits him with a cortical stimulator and tries to kill him with it, or else doesn’t but he has a bad reaction. The Doctor doesn’t seem to have caught any mistakes, at least. The rolling scan Janeway put up around Tuvok logged a tachyon surge, too, because if you don’t love faster-than-light anti-time particles, you are not the audience I love. Janeway asks Kes if she’s picked any premonitions up with her own telepathic abilities. If Kes wasn’t trying to kill Tuvok before, she ought to now. Not only that, she’s putting off transmitting tactical data to the Vidiians to keep her position secure. Unsure of who has the advantage in this negotiation, the Vidiaans spring their trap.
The Vidiians are able to match Voyager‘s shield modulations, thanks to Kes’ uplink, and it’s not long before they clamp docking clamps to the ship. They, or Kes, then lock the Doctor out of environment controls so they can’t deploy an anti-boarding gas. This is a kind of obvious playing-of-the-hand, and once done it’s a matter of seconds before Chakotay notices that there’s an extra life sign aboard. I could make the most secure starship in the galaxy by just telling the computer to alert Security if the query SELECT COUNT (species) FROM SHIPBOARD_LIFESIGNS ever suddenly changes between ten-second polls. Ten minutes, if that sensor sweep is too expensive. Once Chakotay detects the two Kes’, Janeway goes down there, and Future Kes tries to enact her escape plan but it’s already locked down.
While Voyager tries to shake loose the boarding hooks (by reversing the hull polarity) Janeway gets her bun handed to her by Kes’ psychic powers, but she’s able to start a dialogue. Old Kes seems to have forgotten that she was the one who was always trying to sneak out of the Ocampound. She’s upset that Janeway encouraged her to develop her mental abilities beyond her control, and couldn’t go home. Therefore she’s gone back in time to undo her metamorphosis. Bets on whether Ocampa Mind Magic as a means of time travel allows for paradox?
Voyager breaks free of the VIdiian ship, at no small cost to the hull, and Janeway’s hand phaser, when set to kill, manages to take out Future Kes. Which only leaves us with five years of ripple effects from all the resupply needs Voyager has now, plus foreknowledge, to clean up. Tuvok’s trying to make the best of that foreknowledge, and Young!Kes awakens. Janeway briefs her on it, and evidently they’re all going to do their best to keep the ripple effects to a minimun so that when it happens a second time it’ll be similar enough that they’re prepared. Although a video log of Kes telling her future self to chillax would probably be fine, too.
So, back to the future timeline. Tuvok’s upcoming birthday. The inciting incident. This time, Janeway is ready, and goes to red alert. They evacuate deck 11 so nobody will be in Kes’ way. She still rips apart the corridors on her way, but Janeway shuts down the warp core and heads down to Engineering to intercept her. In fact, a video of Young Kes telling off her future self is exactly what they’ve done, making an opening for diplomacy. It’s… enough. Old Kes ‘forgot’ making the recording, enough that the events happened as recorded, but not so forgotten that she can’t pull it back out. And so, aged Kes uses her psychic abilities to go home, with a care package from Neelix. I suppose it would be uncouth to ask for another 10,000 light-years?