the story: Neelix finds a colony of Talaxians.
what it's all about: For a character few fans admitted to liking, Neelix was always one of the best parts of the series, and he deserved a happy ending, which exactly what he gets in "Homestead." The Neelix we first meet seems almost insufferably cheerful, but then his story becomes darker when the series reveals that his people the Talaxians suffered a devastating war that sent many of them, including Neelix, into permanent exile. In other words, he was a refugee when we meet him. His whole backstory was part of the intricate explanation for why the Delta Quadrant didn't have an organization similar to the Federation (the Alpha and Beta Quadrants) or the Dominion (the Gamma Quadrant), unless you count the Borg; again and again there were encounters with worlds that had been devastated by regional conflicts, and the survivors just trying to get by (even the villainous Kazon were part of this trend). As a result, the crew often encountered nomads, famously as late as the Hirogen in the fourth season. So it wasn't surprising if some of these nomadic peoples ended up appearing again later, after the crew had theoretically left them behind on the journey homeward.
Such is the happy development of finding a group of Talaxians, and what that means for Neelix. Volunteering to assist the crew gave it an enduring link to the Delta Quadrant itself, a native who for a time knew the area when that kind of thing was at a premium. Even if that knowledge eventually dried up in the third season, by that time Neelix had so thoroughly integrated himself into the crew, he was truly a part of the family. And yet...ultimately he was being asked to go somewhere he'd be the fish out of water. Certainly, there were never going to be other Talaxians in Federation space.
The logic and payoff of "Homestead" is sound, and it even gives Neelix a chance to show some of the newfound inner strength he'd gained over the years, something he'd lacked despite appearances to the contrary.
But best of all? His goodbye to Tuvok. Here was a relationship that harkened back to another Vulcan with an associate his temperamental opposite, and yet Neelix and Tuvok had always had a unique rivalry and even grudging friendship. If Tuvok actually had a smaller role than Neelix during the course of the series, it can easily be argued that if their scenes together were Tuvok's lasting legacy, it would still be a strong one, especially as he at last admits his affection for Neelix with just a little shake of the leg, one of the most effective in-character expressions of the whole franchise.
franchise- This is a purely Voyager moment.
- series - A character who helped define Voyager says goodbye.
- character - For Neelix, a truly fond farewell.
- essential - A remarkable chance to see Voyager celebrate one of its own.
Scarlett Pomers (Naomi)