(written from a Production point of view)
Chakotay meets a woman who claims that they fell in love a few weeks before, although he doesn't remember her anymore.
When the USS Voyager is searching for deuterium, they are suddenly hit with proton particle charges. They find it is a battle between cloaked ships and when one of them is destroyed, the female pilot of the remaining ship hails Voyager asks for Chakotay by name, much to his surprise.
As her ship begins to destabilize, Ensign Kim attempts to beam her aboard but he cannot get a solid lock. As a result, an away team consisting of Tuvok, Tom Paris, and Chakotay are sent over to stabilize the ship. Commander Chakotay soon finds the pilot and after getting her out from under some wreckage of a bulkhead, beams her to sickbay. The Doctor is perplexed that when she is scanned, the data disappears instantly. Fortunately, his visual diagnosis says she'll recover from her injuries.
Upon regaining consciousness, she asks for asylum, and Captain Kathryn Janeway agrees to not hand her over until her claims are investigated. When she is alone with Chakotay, she explains why she cannot be scanned and none of them can remember her: her species emits a pheromone which blocks memory cells and repulses technological scans. She says her name is Kellin and she is a Ramuran, a member of a race whose society is closed and does not allow anyone to leave their homeworld. It was her job to track down a member of her society who had run away and happened to be hiding on Voyager. She found them and after she left, a computer virus wiped all traces of her time aboard the ship. She came back to request asylum from the others of her race because she fell in love with Chakotay.
During Chakotay's briefing of the senior officers, everyone, especially Chakotay, is skeptical of her story. Ensign Kim and Lieutenant Commander Tuvok attempt to search for physical evidence of the virus that was used to wipe any references to her first visit in the ship's computer and Lieutenant Paris will review the navigational logs. In the astrometrics lab, Tuvok and Seven review the data with Kellin. The navigation logs corroborate the story, but Tuvok wants to rule out tampering. Kellin accepts that and asks that they run a diagnostic on the logs, respecting both of their logic and skepticism as she had learned previously.
Chakotay interrupts them to have lunch with Kellin in the mess hall. There, she tells him the story of how they met. She was a tracer, a security operative who tracked down members of her species who try to leave their homeworld. One such runaway was hiding on Voyager, and her mission was to find him, wipe his memory and take him home. After two days, she lost her cloak, and was discovered by Chakotay. She explained the situation and he agreed to help her find the stowaway.
Suddenly, two more cloaked ships attack Voyager.
On Chakotay's recommendation, Janeway decides to trust Kellin with the ship's sensors, and she manages to get Voyager to detect them. Fortunately, Voyager disables their weapons and they retreat. Kellin then offers to make the sensor modifications permanent. In order for her to complete them, she needs a command level officer, according to protocol, to assist with the command overrides. Chakotay goes with her.
The modifications go well but Chakotay finds he can't sleep. He explains to Neelix in the mess hall later that he is bothered by his lack of memory and feels he cannot trust her. If it is a deception, it is a very personal one. Neelix suggests to Chakotay that it's his own feelings that he doesn't trust. Neelix leaves Chakotay alone to ponder this.
Later that night, she visits him in his quarters. He admits he believes her story but isn't sure about the feelings he had. She presses him for how he feels, since it was him that brought her back and it is her presence continually endangering the ship. When so pressed, Chakotay says he doesn't want her to leave.
They end up talking all night in his quarters. She tells him about the last day they spent together. She recounts how they caught her fugitive through a clever trick using a magneton sweep, and then, since he wouldn't remember her, she kissed him. That's when she knew he felt the same way about her as she felt about him. Since she demonstrates as part of her story, he kisses back.
The next day, Chakotay talks to Tuvok about finding a place for her, security being the best option. Tuvok, after a rare joke in which she would fit in as an assistant to Neelix, agrees to have her observe on his team. He then recommends she help Kim and Seven of Nine develop a defense against the proton weapons. There, Kim suggests scattering the proton beams a little using the baryon sensors and the deflector and asks Kellin to review it. He also heard about her serving with Tuvok, and, in a welcoming gesture, says she should request beta squad. After she leaves, Seven takes the opportunity to comment on humanoid mating rituals, finding them unnecessary. Kim tries, but is unable to explain the necessity.
Unfortunately another tracer, Curneth, catches Kellin later that day in Chakotay's quarters and uses a neurolytic emitter to partially erase her memories before Chakotay can stop him. Kellin then falls unconscious in his arms.
In sickbay, The Doctor finds there's nothing he can do about the memory loss. Kellin pleads with Chakotay not to let it happen, but there doesn't seem to be a way to reverse the effects. She then asks him to remind her why she's there and he promises to do more than that. Chakotay goes to the brig and questions Curneth about how the emitter works. He doesn't know and says he wouldn't help him if he did. He then orders the security guard to lower the force field, enters the brig and becomes angry with Curneth, almost beating him up due to his anger. However, he manages to channel his anger into an attempt to talk him out of returning her but it doesn't work very well. Curneth's position is too well rooted in his traditions.
So instead, he tries to tell Kellin her own story, that she is in love with him. This time, she finds him attractive but his story still unlikely. He goes on and on, explaining his love for her just like she told him. She cannot see the point of staying to find out what was there and she feels responsiblity to her people. She does, at least, admit she wishes they had met under different circumstances. Since she will not stay, he has no choice but to release her to Curneth. Curneth also plants a computer virus to wipe all reference to either of them and they are beamed back to their ship.
- "First officer's personal log, stardate 51813.4. Maybe it would be best, as the Tracer said, to forget about Kellin and the time she spent here, but I don't want to do that. I want to remember."
In the mess hall late at night, Chakotay tries to write down everything that happened on paper, so he'll still have a record of what happened. He tells Neelix that he can't understand why Kellin didn't fall in love twice like he did. Neelix explains that love is a mystery, and that if he knew the answer, then love would have lost its power.
"So. You're going to realign your sensors with Seven's. Sounds like fun."
- - Tom Paris to Harry Kim
"I know you want everything in a nutshell. That's the way you work. But I have to tell you the whole story before it will make sense."
"Fine. I'm listening."
"I came back… because I fell in love with you."
- - Kellin explaining herself to Chakotay
"I thought you might like to get something to eat – unless your memories of our Mess Hall aren't good."
"As a matter of fact, I was quite fond of Neelix's food."
"Now, that's something that's hard to believe."
- - Chakotay and Kellin
"Can I have your pudding?"
- - Kellin telling Chakotay what he can do for her
"Basically, she was a security operative for her people. She is a trained expert in weaponry, surveillance fighting skills. Any idea where she might fit in?"
"Mr. Neelix could use an assistant in the Mess Hall."
- - Chakotay and Tuvok
"Commander, I don't think you can analyze love. It's the greatest mystery of all. No one knows why it happens, or doesn't. Love is a chance combination of elements. Any one thing might be enough to keep it from igniting. Mood, glance, remark. And if we could define love, predict it, it would probably lose its power."
- - Neelix to Chakotay
Title and script
- This episode had the working title "Proximity". 
- The episode's final draft script was submitted on 15 January 1998. 
Cast and characters
- Robert Beltran cited this episode as his favorite of Star Trek: Voyager's entire run, clarifying his reasoning as being that the installment has "very little technobabble" and a concentrated focus on the characters of Chakotay and Kellin.  Beltran also said, "I did enjoy that episode very much." Another element of the episode that he enjoyed was working with Kellin actress Virginia Madsen. "She's terrific, and I've always wanted to work with her," Beltran commented. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
- Director Andrew Robinson was thrilled by the acting of his two lead performers in this episode. "They hired Virginia Madsen to play the alien woman," Robinson stated, shortly after having worked on this episode, "and that was great. Robert [Beltran] was great! [....] [Madsen] and Beltran will break your heart. They have this wonderful thing and it's an ill-fated love story. Get out the Kleenex! It broke my heart. They were sweet and honest and connected. There's a real charisma between them. It really was wonderful and I don't mind saying so myself, but I think it's some of Beltran's best work. I've never seen him better. The man has such a sensitivity and such a depth when he is given something to do." (Star Trek Monthly issue 40, pp. 20-21)
- Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres) does not appear in this episode. This is the first episode of the series in which she does not appear.
- This is the third of three Star Trek episodes that were directed by Andrew Robinson, who is best known for having played Elim Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He previously helmed the DS9 outing "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places" and the third season Voyager installment "Blood Fever". He found this episode's production to be just as laborious as that of the other installments but less frightening. "This latest episode I directed still wasn't easy," he said, fairly soon after having worked on the installment. "You're always working hard. But it was a pleasure. For the first time, I actually started looking forward to coming to work in the morning." (Star Trek Monthly issue 40, p. 20) In common with Robinson's directorial debut on Star Trek: Voyager, "Blood Fever", this episode features some hand-held camera work. (Delta Quadrant, pp. 236-237)
- The design of Kellin's make-up was a deliberate attempt not to cover her face. "The producers didn't want to mess around with Virginia [Madsen]'s face," Andrew Robinson remembered, "so they just gave her ears." (Star Trek Monthly issue 40, p. 21) In fact, make-up designer and supervisor Michael Westmore has admitted that – in common with Daelen of two episodes previous, "Vis à Vis" – the fact that the production team deliberately veered away from doing facial makeup for the Ramurans was because the make-up artists had done so much forehead designs in the past. "The look came down to us saying, 'We've done so many foreheads, why don't we do something interesting with the ears?'" Westmore said. (Star Trek Monthly issue 46, p. 83)
- The visual effects company Foundation Imaging worked on the space battle involving cloaked ships in this episode's teaser. Ronald B. Moore, who was visual effects supervisor for this installment, recalled, "We went to Foundation, saying that there was this battle going on that we couldn't see." The space battles of this episode included not only CGI modeling by Foundation but also Harry animation by Greg Rainoff and compositing by Digital Muse. Ron Moore remarked, "It was fun to shoot into empty space as we hit the invisible ships." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
- For the illusion of Curneth using a neurolytic emitter on Kellin, the visual effects artists were careful to differentiate the effect from a weapon blast. Ron Moore noted, "You want her whole body to light up with energy, but not to make it look like it was a weapon." The effect was achieved by Greg Rainoff using Harry animation at Digital Muse. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
Continuity and trivia
- The romance between Chakotay and Kellin in this installment was facilitated by the fact that a potentially romantic facet of the relationship between Chakotay and Janeway – most substantially hinted at in the second season episode "Resolutions" – had been discarded by Star Trek: Voyager's writing staff. Robert Beltran noted, "They've pretty much dissolved the Janeway-Chakotay thing, and so they provided a romantic liaison for Chakotay [in the form of Kellin]." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 106)
- Kellin's name is first heard when Janeway calls her and Chakotay to the bridge. Her introducing herself is not depicted onscreen.
- A brief outline of Kellin's Ramuran ship can be seen at the end of the battle in the teaser. It is never seen uncloaked.
Reception and aftermath
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 3.4 million homes, and a 5% share.
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 2 out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 105)
- Star Trek Magazine scored the episode 3 out of 5 stars. (Star Trek Monthly issue 46, p. 60)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 238) gives the installment a rating of 1 out of 10.
- Several items from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including two unfinished costumes for actors Michael Canavan and Chuck Magnus. 
- The Star Trek: Voyager 25th Anniversary Special describes this installment as one of the "hidden gems" of the program's fourth season, along with "Waking Moments".
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.11, catalog number VHR 4632, 2 November 1998
- As part of the VOY Season 4 DVD collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
almond pudding; Alpha Quadrant; astrometrics; asylum; baryon sensor; beta squad; bounty hunter; brig; bulkhead; butter; bussard collector; carrot; champagne; cloaking device; command officer; compound fracture; computer virus; concussion; courtship ritual; deuterium; edict; environmental systems; evasive maneuvers; flush (physiology); flush (tactic); fried soy meal; fugitive; handwriting; herbal tea; hull; ice cream; intruder alert; Jefferies tube; life support; logic; magneton sweep; memory center; memory wipe; Mikah; milk; navigational log; needle; neurolytic emitter; oxygen; Paper; pastime; pen; pencil; pheromone; pilot; polarization cloak; procreation; proton beam; pudding; Ramura; Ramuran; Ramuran vessel; red alert; runaway; speculation; tactical log; tea; tibia; tracer; wrath
- "Unforgettable" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Unforgettable" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Unforgettable" at Wikipedia
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