(written from a Production point of view)
A long-presumed-dead crewmate returns to Voyager, pursued by the aliens who revived her; Icheb, Azan, Rebi, and Mezoti behave rebelliously against Seven of Nine.
A lone female pilot in an alien shuttle is pursued by a larger vessel of the same origin. She manages to disable the pursuing ship, and, in an alien language, asks the shuttle's computer to locate the USS Voyager. In English, she hails the Federation starship.
Mezoti, one of the four Borg children recently rescued by Voyager, has wandered into the astrometrics lab and intercepts the alien woman's transmission. Mezoti identifies herself by name, age, and species designation, and asks the woman her species. The alien responds that it is a complicated answer and asks to speak to Captain Kathryn Janeway. Mezoti attempts to connect her, but is too short to reach the necessary controls and inadvertently ends the transmission when she leans on the lower panel.
Tuvok discovers Mezoti and reminds her that she's in a restricted area. He says he won't inform the captain but warns Mezoti not to enter the area again. Seven of Nine enters with the other three Borg children – Icheb, Azan, and Rebi – and berates Mezoti for not following her instructions to wait in the cargo bay. Tuvok asks Seven why she left the children unattended, and she responds that Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres needed her assistance; she was gone for less than ten minutes. Seven admits to Tuvok that she is having difficulty controlling the unpredictable Borg children. Tuvok starts to offer advice, but is interrupted when Seven notices Mezoti at the communications station, trying to talk to "the woman transmitting from spatial Grid 2369."
Tuvok hails the vessel. The alien recognizes his voice and says she's glad to hear him again. She reiterates her request to speak with Captain Janeway.
On the viewscreen of Voyager's bridge, the alien tells the captain she's a sight for sore eyes and warmly greets Harry Kim. Perplexed, the captain asks who she is, and is not amused when the alien identifies herself as Ensign Lyndsay Ballard, a Voyager engineering officer who died almost three years earlier on an away mission. The alien understands the crew's skepticism and offers limited proof of her identity by naming the exact stardate of Ballard's death. She asks permission to beam aboard so that she can explain herself more fully.
Janeway agrees to beam the alien to sickbay, behind a level 10 force field. Kim asks to accompany the captain to sickbay. He says he and Ballard were close and if somehow, this alien is Ballard, he will know.
In sickbay, The Doctor examines the alien as she recounts the circumstances of Ensign Ballard's death. Three years earlier, Ballard and Kim had traveled to a class M planet in the Vyntadi Expanse to mine dilithium ore. This planet, however, was a trap set by a Hirogen hunting party, who had reconfigured a power cell to emit false dilithium readings. Ten feet from their shuttle, Ballard was hit by a neural disruptor and died. Kim confirms the alien's account, and says that he buried Ballard in space.
The alien reveals that she next remembers waking up in a stasis chamber, surrounded by aliens, the Kobali, who had reanimated her. She didn't believe she had died until the Kobali showed Ballard visual scans of her corpse in the torpedo casing in which she was buried. The Kobali, who procreate by salvaging dead bodies, spent months altering Ballard's DNA. She wanted to contact Voyager, but the Kobali refused her requests, saying that her former relationships were part of her kyn'steya, or past life. They tried to make her forget Voyager and sent her to live with a Kobali family. She spent two years deceiving them into believing she had accepted her new life before eventually stealing the shuttle and spending the next six months searching for Voyager.
The Doctor confirms that the alien's remaining Human DNA matches that of Ensign Ballard. With no valid reason to disbelieve her story, the captain drops the force field and welcomes Ballard home. As Janeway and The Doctor excuse themselves, Kim has an emotional reunion with his former crewmate, who says that she missed him, too.
In the conference room, Voyager's senior crew welcomes Ballard back to the ship. The captain calls her a fine officer, Neelix and Tom Paris have retrieved her personal items from storage, and Torres tells her that her old shift in engineering awaits when she's ready. A short discussion ensues on preparing the ship in the event that the Kobali attack Voyager in an effort to retrieve Ballard. As the briefing ends, Ballard lags behind to thank the captain privately for the compliments she gave. Ballard admits she previously didn't think the captain had noticed her.
Ballard and Kim reminisce, and she tells him that while she was away she made a list of things she would do if she ever made it back to Voyager, including No. 26: hear him play music again.
In the mess hall, Neelix has set up a kadis-kot board, and he and Naomi Wildman await the arrival of the Borg children. They enter with Seven, who hovers near the table to supervise. Naomi compliments Mezoti on the braid in her hair, but when Mezoti offers to teach Naomi braiding, Seven stops her from engaging in irrelevant conversation since she has allotted only one hour for recreational activities. As the game begins, Naomi notices that Azan and Rebi are cheating, and Mezoti reveals they are using their neural interface to share information. Seven enacts Punishment Protocol 9-Alpha and makes the twins stand in a corner. Icheb stands up to Seven, saying he won't participate if the twins aren't allowed to rejoin the game. He knocks the kadis-kot pieces off the table, prompting Seven to tell him to exercise the Punishment Protocol as well. Icheb refuses and angrily leaves.
In Ballard's quarters, she and Kim unpack her belongings. Tuvok had instructed Kim to recycle the items, but he found he couldn't. Ballard sloppily throws her things around the room, and she and Kim discuss the time they spent living across the hall from one another at Starfleet Academy. In the course of the conversation, Kim reveals that he delivered the eulogy at her funeral. At first, he won't tell her what he said, but eventually he relents and says that he told the mourners to live by Ballard's own philosophy, "Own the day," her favorite saying. Breaking the awkward silence that follows, Ballard jokes that with her bald Kobali head, she'll no longer need one of the items Kim had packed away: her hairbrush.
The Doctor summons Ballard and Kim to sickbay, where he has completed his analysis. He tells her a genetic pathogen has altered her Human DNA into a Kobali protein structure and that there isn't enough Human genetic material to make her Human again. He can, however, alter her appearance so that she looks Human, even though her physiology remains Kobali. Ballard opts for the treatments, the first of which restores her skin color and face.
In the mess hall, Neelix serves Ballard a Jiballian berry salad, which she has been looking forward to as Kobali cuisine consists of only a gray paste. The salad, however, doesn't live up to her expectations, tasting metallic due to her Kobali taste buds.
Ballard reports to her shift in engineering, a minute early to Torres' surprise. Torres assigns her to work on an alignment error in the dilithium matrix caused by an unknown reason. Ballard easily corrects the error, but is taken aback when Torres tells her that she spoke in Kobali while describing what she was doing. Ballard notices other engineering crew staring at her.
Chakotay visits Seven in astrometrics. She shows him the rigid schedule she has developed for the Borg children, including specific allotted times for "fun." Chakotay says she's treating the children as if they were still drones on a cube, making them do the same things at the same times and not allowing them to express their individuality. She asks to be relieved of duty as the children's guardian, but Chakotay denies her request.
Kim is on his way to ask Ballard to join him ice skating on the holodeck when Paris catches up with him and ribs him about his track record with women, now including the "dearly departed." Kim insists that while he might have thought about pursuing Ballard at one time, he closed that door when they were both assigned to Voyager. Paris tells him that door may be creaking open.
In sickbay, The Doctor has fully restored Ballard's Human appearance, including a full head of red hair, a departure from her original color. Kim invites her to go skating, but Ballard says she already has a date: she's been asked to the captain's quarters for dinner.
To Janeway's chagrin, a charred pot roast materializes in her replicator. Ballard arrives, in formal dress uniform, which the captain tells her wasn't necessary. She also explains that she has liquefied the pot roast and will be serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead. As the two sit down, Janeway comments that Tuvok has presented her with 37 ways of repelling a potential Kobali attack. Ballard asks if the list includes Janeway's pot roast, and then immediately apologizes for her remark. Janeway, however, isn't offended, finding the comment funny and tells Ballard they're not on the bridge and she may speak freely. Ballard then questions the captain about why she chose her to go on the away mission that led to her death. Janeway asserts that she felt Ballard was best suited for the job, but Ballard points out that Tuvok had far more experience conducting away missions and Torres more expertise in mining dilithium. She asks if the captain sent her instead because she was closer to the other two officers. Janeway wonders if Ballard blames her for her death, but Ballard assures her she doesn't, saying, "Never harbor anger to those who brought you death, for they gave you the chance to live again." Suddenly embarrassed that she's quoting Kobali philosophy, Ballard abruptly leaves the room, saying she "shouldn't have come."
Later, Ballard dreams of attending her own funeral, where various crew members tell her she doesn't belong there. She is awakened when she sees the image of a Kobali man reaching to her and addressing her as "Jhet'leya."
Ballard goes to Kim's quarters, where she talks with him about the crew members staring at her in engineering and how she began babbling in front of the captain. Kim promises to help her through her difficulties and she wonders why he is always so nice to her. Surprised that she doesn't know why, Kim admits that he rearranged his Academy schedule so they would have the same classes and allowed her to teach him to ice skate even though he hates the cold. He says he's been crazy about her since they met. They then kiss.
The Borg children are sculpting when Seven arrives to inspect their work. The twins have created cubes 1/1000th the size of Borg cubes. Seven is impressed by Icheb's creation – a 26-sided polyhedron comprised of hexagons, octagons, and squares – but confused by Mezoti's, a crude sculpture of Seven. Seven reminds Mezoti that they were instructed to create a geometric shape, but pronounces the work demonstrative of ingenuity and individuality. Icheb is shocked when Seven elects not to punish Mezoti and tells the children to "resume [their] disorder."
Kim awakens in his quarters to find Ballard sitting in the dark. "They're coming," she says.
A Kobali ship hails Voyager. Q'ret, the man from Ballard's dream, appears, saying he is there to retrieve Jhet'leya, his daughter. Janeway informs him that Ballard has made her intentions of not returning to the Kobali known, but Q'ret begs to be allowed to speak with her.
Kim tells Ballard that she doesn't have to meet with Q'ret, but she says it's time to stop running and that she wants to face him. Q'ret is shocked by Ballard's Human appearance and her insistence that her name is Lyndsay, not Jhet'leya. Q'ret and Kim bicker about each culture's customs and funeral rites. Q'ret says that in most Kobali, a complete loss of memory accompanies the reanimation, but there are some who retain their memories. He tries to convince Ballard that Lyndsay died three years ago, and Jhet'leya is a different person. He tells Ballard that her Kobali sister misses her and asks what to tell her. Ballard says "Tell her that her sister's dead" and leaves the meeting.
Q'ret tells Janeway that he won't give his daughter up, and promises to return with reinforcements.
In the mess hall, Kim finds Ballard eating the gray paste she mentioned earlier. To cheer her up, he offers to help her with No. 32 on her list, "Make Tuvok laugh." He tells her they can tweak one of the Vulcan's holodeck programs so that the monks at the Temple of T'Panit begin chanting Ferengi limericks. A distracted Ballard can think only of Q'ret. Kim can't believe Q'ret had the audacity to call himself Ballard's father and wonders what her Human father, a university professor, would have to say about that. Ballard realizes she has no memory at all of her Human parent. She decides to join Kim in the holodeck, but as they start to leave, she doubles over in pain and her face begins to revert to its Kobali appearance.
The Doctor discovers that the Kobali pathogen has adapted and Ballard will now require treatments twice daily to maintain a Human appearance. Angered, she questions how she can do her job, or anything else for that matter, if she's always in sickbay. She shouts at The Doctor and Kim in Kobali. Horrified by her own behavior, she bolts from the room.
Kim finds Ballard on her shuttle, where he asks her to stop the treatments. He says he doesn't care if she looks Kobali, Human, or even Bolian as long as she's happy. But she is convinced she no longer fits in. She says other alien members of the crew grew up in their own cultures and know who they are, but ever since she returned, she hasn't felt right. At first, she thought Voyager had changed, but now she realizes it is she who has changed. The girl Kim fell in love with died three years ago.
The Kobali attack, and Kim and Ballard rush to the bridge. Ballard tells Janeway to surrender her to the attacking ships, saying she doesn't belong on Voyager anymore. Kim tries to get the captain not to listen, but Ballard assures Janeway that she knows what she is saying. Kim tells her he doesn't want to lose her, but she knows he already did. This time, however, they've had the chance to say goodbye.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 53679.4. The Doctor has stopped Ensign Ballard's treatments, and her Kobali physiology is already beginning to reassert itself. All but one of us have said our goodbyes."
In the transporter room, Kim says goodbye to Ballard in her alien language, having taught himself some Kobali phrases. She tells him his gesture is sweet, but that he's just told her "The comets are tiresome." He expresses regret that she didn't finish all the items on her list, but she says she took care of what really mattered. Ballard kisses him goodbye and returns to the Kobali people.
Later, in the mess hall, Kim sits alone holding Ballard's hairbrush. When Mezoti approaches and admires the object, he gives it to her as a gift, telling her that Ballard would be pleased it went to someone with such pretty hair. Mezoti says that Seven is allowing the Borg children to go to the holodeck by themselves and run any program they like. She invites him to join them. Kim asks if she's ever heard of the Temple of T'Panit, a Vulcan program. Mezoti thinks it sounds boring, but Kim assures her they'll make a few tweaks.
"Fun will now commence."
- - Seven of Nine
"Hair is one of my specialties, despite evidence to the contrary."
- - The Doctor
"Resume your disorder."
- - Seven of Nine
"What species are you?"
"That's a complicated question."
- - Mezoti and Jhet'leya
"Commander Tuvok finished his analysis of your shuttle and presented me with 37 different ways of repelling a Kobali attack."
"Did he include your pot roast?"
- - Kathryn Janeway and Lyndsay Ballard
"Vien'ke debala, Jhet'leya. (beat) I taught myself to speak a few words of Kobali."
"That's very sweet of you, but you just told me 'The comets are tiresome.' "
- - Harry Kim and Lyndsay Ballard
- The stardate given for Ballard's death, 51563, places it between the fourth season episodes "Hunters" and "Prey". This is consistent with Ballard's and Kim's recounting of the circumstances of her death, in which they were retreating from "a trap set by a Hirogen hunting party" - The Hirogen having been first encountered in the former episode and re-appearing in the latter.
- Ballard seems to think that Tuvok's promotion to Lieutenant Commander happened while she was away, despite his being promoted on stardate 51186.2, during the events of "Revulsion". However, according to Q'ret, the "reanimation process usually results in extensive memory loss", which could explain Ballard's mistake.
- The circumstances of Ballard's death, as recounted by her and Harry Kim in this episode, bear a striking resemblance to those of Ahni Jetal's death, which is explored in the fifth season episode "Latent Image". Both crew members were Ensigns on an away mission in a a shuttle with only Kim when they died. Furthermore, both deaths occur off-screen and are only recounted much later.
- Paris mentions some of Kim's previous romantic encounters, saying "Harry Kim has fallen for a hologram, a Borg, the wrong twin, and now the dearly departed," referring to the events of "Alter Ego", "Waking Moments", and "Thirty Days" respectively. He also did this in "The Disease", using almost the same words ("a hologram, an ex-Borg, the wrong twin").
- Seven serves as guardian of the four ex-Borg children in this episode, a position established two episodes previously at the end of "Collective", in which the children are taken aboard.
- Ballard's death marks the 23rd confirmed death of Voyager crew since the pilot episode "Caretaker" (although the death is likely the 15th chronologically), the previous deaths having occurred in this season's premiere "Equinox, Part II".
- Ballard describes Kim performing baryon sweeps to clean his dorm room. A baryon sweep is performed on the USS Enterprise-D in the Star Trek: The Next Generation sixth season episode "Starship Mine".
Story and script
- Ensign Ballard is referenced several times as being late to duty shifts, and in her nightmare Captain Janeway's first words to her are "you're late." "Late" is also wordplay, since she is deceased.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Makeup for a Series.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 6.9, 23 October 2000
- As part of the VOY Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Harry Kim
- Scarlett Pomers as Naomi Wildman
- Kevin Lowe as Q'ret
- Manu Intiraymi as Icheb
- Kurt Wetherill as Azan
- Cody Wetherill as Rebi
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
- Richard Bishop as Voyager operations officer
- Carter Edwards as Voyager command officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Caroline Gibson as Voyager operations officer
- Tom Miller as Voyager sciences officer
- Louis Ortiz as Culhane
- Unknown actor as Frank
amusement; Ayala; baryon sweep; battle cry; Bolian; brain; cardiovascular system; children; clarinet; class M; clay; cometary ion; cube; cup; death; diet; dilithium; dilithium matrix; dizziness; DNA; dorm room; duty shift; eulogy; fan; force field; gesture; gray paste; Federation; Ferengi; formal dress; genetic pathogen; geometric shape; gray; Grid 2369; guardian; hair; hairbrush; heart; height; hexagon; Hirogen; hockey; holodeck; hunting party; ice skates; ice skating; inaprovaline; interstellar matter; Jiballian berry salad; kadis-kot; kiss; Klingon; Kobali; Kobali cuisine; Kobali language; Kobali starship; Kobali shuttle; lead ship; limerick; logic; meditation; mouth; music; mutilate; neural disruptor; neural interface; Norcadian; nose; nucleosynthesis; ocular implant; octagon; painting; paste; past tense; peanut butter; peanut butter and jelly sandwich; personal effects; phenomenon; plasma wave probe; polaron; polyhedron; pot roast; power cell; prestellar nebula; protein; public speaker; public speaking; Punishment Protocol 9-Alpha; "read someone like a book"; recycling; red alert; reanimation; red; resuscitation; saxophone; saying; sculpting; sculpture; slob; solar wind; square; Starfleet Academy; stasis chamber; storage; stutter; taste bud; tea; Temple of T'Panit; torpedo casing; Tynsiya; Voyager shuttle; Vulcans; Vulcan prayer; Vyntadi Expanse; warp core; year; Yifay
- "Ashes to Ashes" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Ashes to Ashes" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Ashes to Ashes" at Wikipedia
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