The story begins in the year 2404, when Admiral Janeway holds a reunion party for the crew of Voyager after they had successfully returned to the Alpha Quadrant from a 22-year journey through the Delta Quadrant. However, some things in the future are not that rosy: Seven of Nine and Chakotay are both dead, and Tuvok has been put into an institution for mental instability. Realizing that there were things she could change in history so that the crew could be spared the 22 years traveling home, Admiral Janeway obtains a temporal rift projector from a Klingon, installs it onto her shuttlecraft, and opens a rift to a point where Voyager is already seven years into their journey home so that she could inform her younger self how to get home sooner.
Though rather suspicious at first, Captain Janeway trusts her future self and has the crew modify the ship with futuristic armor plating that would be resistant to Borg weapons. However, Captain Janeway soon discovers what her older self intended to use in order to get Voyager home sooner — a Borg transwarp hub, which they use to travel to various parts of the galaxy instantaneously. Captain Janeway thinks that they should destroy the hub rather than let the Borg continue to use it, but then with Admiral Janeway's help she modifies that plan so that they could travel back to the Alpha Quadrant and destroy the hub at the same time.
This episode provides examples of
- The 47 Society: Seven of Nine's analysis of the tritanium signatures indicates at least 47 cubes in the nebula.
- Addiction Displacement: In 2404, Admiral Janeway replaced her coffee addiction with tea. She goes back to drinking coffee when her attempt to persuade Captain Janeway to use the Borg transwarp hub to get home fails.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: The Borg Queen to Seven of Nine.
- All Love Is Unrequited: The Doctor's affections toward Seven of Nine are again rejected.
- Always Save the Girl: Admiral Janeway's talk of a Bad Future makes little impression until she reveals that Seven is going to die.
- Armor Is Useless: Averted—Future!Janeway's armor can completely No-Sell Koroth's attacks and protects Voyager fairly well against the Borg.
- Assimilation Backfire: Admiral Janeway infects herself with a bioweapon before meeting the Borg Queen. When the Queen assimilates her, it infects that entire collective. Admiral Janeway smugly says, "Must have been something you assimilated."
- Attack Hello: As soon as the Borg sphere emerges in the Alpha Quadrant, a Starfleet armada is there to greet it with phasers and photon torpedoes.
- Attack Pattern Alpha One: Uses the new transphasic torpedo, which is powerful enough to one-shot a Borg cube.
- Babies Ever After: Paris and Torres' last-minute baby, Miral.
- Bad Future: In Janeway's mind, as Seven and Chakotay are dead and Tuvok is suffering from Vulcan Alzheimer's. For everyone else, it's a perfectly good future. The Doctor is married and finally has a name (Joe), Tom is an accomplished author, B'elanna is a liaison to the Klingon Empire, and Harry Kim is a captain. Not to mention Reg Barclay is now a well-adjusted individual who has lost his stammer and is comfortable addressing crowds, Naomi had a daughter, and Tom and B'Elanna successfully raised Miral, who is an Ensign in Starfleet.
- Captain Janeway even points out that the future sounds pretty good. Admiral Janeway tries to handwave this by saying "it would take too long to explain."
- Big Damn Kiss: Seven and Chakotay. (For real, this time.)
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: As the Borg Queen, Admiral Janeway, and part of the Borg collective die, Tom Paris and B'elanna Torres' daughter Miral is born right upon their arrival in the Alpha Quadrant.
- Book-Ends: With "Caretaker" as Captain Janeway at the end of the episode says, "Set a course...for home".
- BrainComputer Interface: Admiral Janeway's shuttle has one with a controlling microchip implanted into Janeway's brain.
- The future Starfleet uniforms were previously used in TNG's finale "All Good Things" and DS9's "The Visitor".
- This isn't the first time the Borg Queen has walked in on Seven's regeneration.
- Seven and the Doctor refer back to her romance with holo-Chakotay.
- All of the Federation starships in the closing scene have appeared in previous episodes of Voyager: an Excelsior-class from "Flashback", the Prometheus, Nebula, Akira, and Defiant-classes from "Message in a Bottle", and a Galaxy class from "Timeless".
- Future!Harry commands a modified Nova-class ship, just like the Equinox. He also fights off the same class of Klingon battlecruiser that appeared in "All Good Things".
- Tuvok gets in one while explaining why he's hidden his condition from everyone else and supported the plan to stay in the Delta Quadrant, despite there being a cure back home.Tuvok: To quote Ambassador Spock, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."
- The Chains of Commanding: Despite her future self being higher in rank, Captain Janeway has to inform her that Voyager is still her ship.
- Change the Uncomfortable Subject: When one of the students that Admiral Janeway is giving a lecture to at Starfleet Academy asks about Seven of Nine, Janeway feels too uncomfortable to talk about her, given what had happened to her, and declines to answer.
- Chekhov's Gun: Seven mentions that Admiral Janeway's shuttle has stealth technology which is incompatible with Voyager. The Admiral uses this to get close to Unimatrix One while she talks to the Borg Queen.
- Distant Prologue: Inverted, as the story begins in the year 2404.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After seven years in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager finally returns home. Additionally, thanks to Admiral Janeway's Assimilation Backfire, they managaed to deal a potentially crippling blow to the Borg Collective by bringing down the transwarp network, as well as killing the Borg Queen and destroying the Unicomplex
- Eat Me: The assimilation version.
- Famous Last Words:Borg Queen: Captain Janeway...is about to die. If she has no future...you will never exist...and nothing you've done here today...will happen.
- Fast Forward to Reunion: How the episode starts, with the surviving members of Voyager gathering together for the tenth anniversary of their return to the Alpha Quadrant.
- Grand Finale: For Voyager. Star Trek: Nemesis, which also includes Janeway in a cameo, is the chronologically last story of 24th century Trek before the 2009 reboot.
- Hard-Work Montage: Voyager being upgraded with Admiral Janeway's technology.
- Holosexual: The Doctor and his human wife in 2404.
- I Didn't Tell You Because You'd Be Unhappy: Tuvok made no mention of his disease to Captain Janeway. Of course he frames this as a logical decision.
- I Hate Past Me: Admiral Janeway does not think highly of her younger self, whom she feels was nowhere near pragmatic enough and could have gotten Voyager home a lot sooner. Inverted for Present!Janeway, who thinks her future self has grown too cynical.
- Insane Admiral: Future!Janeway. She launches a carefully-crafted conspiracy, working only with those that she has strong personal relationships with, because she has decided that she is unhappy with how the timeline played out and she intends to go back and change it, even though doing so entails commandeering top secret Starfleet research, meddling in Klingon politics in violation of the Prime Directive, and actually going back in time with specific intent to change history, which violates the Temporal Prime Directive.
- Insane Troll Logic: Elderly Tuvok, because of his mental condition. He insists to Janeway that because she's visiting on the wrong day of the week, she logically couldn't be Janeway.
- Last Minute Hookup: Seven and Chakotay. Admiral Janeway reveals that because Seven died on an away mission during the original 22-year journey home, Chakotay would eventually die heartbroken upon the crew's return to the Alpha Quadrant.
- Locked Out of the Fight: Janeway does it to herself.
- Madness Mantra: Tuvok in the institution keeps repeating, "5331... 7153... 5331... Her disappearance remains a mystery!"...something which nobody understands but the Doctor, as he realizes that Captain Janeway went missing on stardate 53317.1 while she was still commanding Voyager, a clue to what Admiral Janeway is planning on doing.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: Jokingly Discussed when Paris is surprised that Doctor Joe's wife is flesh-and-blood and not a hologram. Joe points out that they're beyond caring about such things.
- Mass "Oh, Crap!": Naturally, the bridge crew's reaction when Voyager almost collides with a Borg cube in the nebula.
- Meanwhile, in the Future...: The first half alternates between 2378 (the present time of Voyager's journey to the Alpha Quadrant) and 2404 (Admiral Janeway's time).
- Morality Pet: Chakotay, Seven, and Tuvok for Future!Janeway.
- Moving the Goalposts: Korath raises the price for his temporal gizmo once he's scanned Admiral Janeway's shuttle and learned about its goodies. Janeway responds by stealing the gizmo.
- Must Have Caffeine: No longer applies to Future Janeway.
- My Future Self and Me: Captain Janeway with Admiral Janeway.
- Never Mess with Granny: Admiral Janeway.
- Noodle Incident: What happened on Stardate 53317; Tuvok rescued Janeway from some Kellidians, but nothing else is said about it.
- Other Me Annoys Me: Both Janeways feel this way.
- Pardon My Klingon: Miral Paris, at only one-quarter Klingon, out-cusses a full-blooded Klingon for challenging Admiral Janeway.Miral: Welcome to the House of Korath, Admiral.
Janeway: I love what he's done with the place.
Klingon: Kuva'kor li'ju!Q mah!
Miral: PetaQ! DabeQ chu'magh an'noQ!
(the Klingon leaves)
Janeway: What was that about?
Miral: He said your demeanor was disrespectful.
Janeway: I hope you told him I didn't mean to be rude.
Miral: I told him if he didn't show you more respect, I would break his arm.
Janeway: You are your mother's daughter.
- Pinocchio Nose: Reginald Barclay manages to overcome his stuttering by 2404. However, when he gets pressed for information of Janeway's whereabouts by the Doctor, he begins to stammer, which makes the Doctor realize he's hiding something.
- Portal Network: The transwarp hub discovered in the nebula.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner:Admiral Janeway: Must be something you assimilated.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Admiral Janeway changes the future for the sake of three people, even though her actions likely had negative consequences for millions.
- Pun: Chell's proposed menu including "Chicken Warp Core-don Bleu" and "Plasma Leek Soup".
- Ridiculously Difficult Route: In fairness this one goes all the way back to Earth, cutting a seventy year journey down to a mere seven years.
- Rousing Speech: By Ensign Harry Kim to the present-time Voyager crew, telling them that it's not the destination that matters but the journey, and that there's nowhere he would rather spend 22 years in the Delta Quadrant than with them.
- Running Gag: Future!Doctor finally puts one to rest by choosing a name for himself: Joe.Paris: It took you thirty-three years to come up with "Joe"?
- Screaming Birth:Doctor: Try to relax, Lieutenant.
B'Elanna: If you tell me to relax one more time, I'm gonna rip your holographic head off!
Doctor: I hope you don't intend to kiss your baby with that mouth.
- Shame If Something Happened: The Borg Queen tells Seven to make sure Voyager stays out of the nebula or they'll be assimilated.
- Take a Third Option: One final use of this trope, per VOY tradition. Upon finding the transwarp hub, their initial options are use it to get back to Earth, or destroy it. The crew initially opts to destroy it, which will leave them stuck in the Delta Quadrant, but they manage to work out a way to both destroy the hub and get back to Earth.
- That's an Order!: Admiral Janeway uses this to get her past self to collapse the temporal gateway before the Klingons come through.
- Timeline Altering Macguffin: The final episode leaves the possibility of this trope rather alarmingly dangling overhead. Future Janeway comes back over a decade to bring the crew home, decking out the ship in all kinds of future tech and eventually infecting the Borg Queen with a super nasty future virus. Now, given the Borg's ability to adapt, one can speculate that if they manage to overcome that virus, they would then have adapted to technology and programming the Federation hasn't yet invented. Not only that, but they had already assimilated her shuttle from the future by then, including the armor and the torpedoes. In the Expanded Universe novels, specifically Star Trek: Destiny, this comes back to bite them.
- Timey-Wimey Ball: So wait, did Admiral Janeway actually erase and replace the future that she came from? Or did she create a new timeline? In keeping with the inconsistent depiction of Time Travel in the Star Trek universe the answer is not really made clear. Plus, in addition to getting Voyager home years earlier than it would have, it arrives back at Earth rigged out with early-25th Century technology provided by Future!Janeway, as well as intelligence about Borg technology, such as how the Transwarp Conduit network works. As this would be the last episode of the TV franchise set in the 24th Century (Star Trek: Enterprise was a prequel set in the past), various possibilities of dubious canon have been put forth in other media.
- The Time Traveller's Dilemma: Unfortunately subject to Debate and Switch.
- Time Travel
- Took a Level in Badass: Voyager, thanks to Future!Janeway.
- Trojan Horse: Future!Janeway let herself get captured by the Borg Queen and assimilated to infect her and the Borg at the transwarp conduit with a neurolytic pathogen that she had infected herself with beforehand, giving Present!Janeway the chance she needs to make it back to Earth.
- Wham Line: "Seven of Nine is going to die."
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- From all indications, Seven never contacted Neelix again to finish their game. What did Neelix do when he tried to call her, and waited for her, and only got silence?
- Naomi Wildman, the first child born on Voyager, has a father she's never met back home in the Alpha Quadrant, who was arguably the most memorable recurring character on the show... not a single appearance in the finale. Not even mentioned, except in the alternate future where we see her daughter.
- Future!Janeway mentions that almost two dozen other members of the crew would die en route to Earth, but they are quickly shuffled aside to focus on Seven's fate.
- With future-Captain Kim and the crew of the Rhode Island, their effort to Hold the Line failed to stop at least one of the Klingon warships from entering the temporal rift in pursuit of Janeway's shuttle (which the past Voyager must then seal immediately). It's left unrevealed whether the Klingons simply slipped past the Starfleet ship, or whether Harry and his crew were either killed in battle or immediately wiped from the timeline.
- Wrote the Book: According to Future!Reg, Admiral Janeway "literally wrote the book on the Borg." The novelization has the Admiral fight back an eye roll and muse whether Barclay knows what the word "literally" actually means.