I’ve Always Hated That Star Trek: Voyager Brought Kes Back In Season 6

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I love Star Trek: Voyager, but I’ve always hated that the show brought Kes (Jennifer Lien) back in season 6 after her departure. Kes was a series regular on Voyager for the show’s first three seasons, but to me, it always felt like Voyager didn’t quite know what to do with her. Perhaps because of this, and her diminishing popularity, Kes left Voyager at the beginning of season 4 to make way for Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), a character that the show overall had more success with.

However, Kes made one final appearance after her official departure, this time as the villain in Voyager season 6, episode 23, “Fury.” The episode began with an astonishing premise, seeing a vengeful and angry Kes return to the USS Voyager only to travel back in time to try and rescue her younger self from her former crew. With some help from Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) and other members of Voyager’s cast of characters, Kes was able to remember herself and her love for her friends, but despite an uplifting ending, bringing the character back was a mistake.

Star Trek: Voyager Season 7 Ruined Kes’s Ending By Bringing Her Back

Kes’s original ending was just fine without another cameo

To me, “Fury” ruined Kes’s original departure from Star Trek: Voyager, mainly because there was no reason to bring her back in the first place. I’ve always felt that Kes’s official exit was, in many ways, beautifully handled. Voyager did not go the traditional route and simply kill Kes, but rather gave her a heartfelt exit that allowed her some genuine goodbyes with the characters she was closest to before she evolved into a higher plane of existence. Kes’s final scenes on Voyager were a dignified closure of her storyline.

In a season of generally strong episodes, “Fury” stood out like a bad seed, and further tarnished Kes’s reputation as a character.

However, “Fury” reintroduced Kes as an out-and-out villain, something that came entirely out of left field and was, in my opinion, unwarranted. Likewise, the episode suffered from a convoluted storyline and lackluster climax, making the whole thing feel rushed and the more genuinely emotional scenes unearned. In a season of generally strong episodes, “Fury” stood out like a bad seed, and further tarnished Kes’s reputation as a character. This is too bad since I’m not sure Kes needed any more help to be thought of as controversial.

Why Kes Is Such A Controversial Star Trek: Voyager Character

Kes never reached a desirable level of popularity

There is no doubt that Voyager largely failed Kes, both in terms of the character’s setup and subsequent storylines. In my opinion, Jennifer Lien did her best given what she had to work with, but Kes suffered from a too-vague set of telepathic powers and a badly conceived romantic relationship with Neelix (Ethan Phillips). It’s clear throughout Voyager season 1-3 that the creative team tried to find a way to make Kes work, but their efforts were either bizarre or fizzled out every time.

Likewise, Kes’s ridiculous return and the fact that Seven of Nine was exponentially more popular as a character have continued to hurt her reputation long after Voyager ended. This mishandling of a character who should have been given a better shot is disappointing from an otherwise great show like Voyager, but I suppose on some level it was inevitable. Not all characters always work out, and despite her terrible last appearance, Star Trek: Voyager did do its best by Kes in terms of her initial departure.

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