Neelix is thought of as Kes’s biggest relationship on Star Trek: Voyager, but the character had another, better one during her time on the show.
- Kes’s main relationship on Star Trek: Voyager wasn’t with Neelix but with Captain Janeway, who became a mother figure to her.
- The Kes-Neelix relationship struggled to be believable or likable due to the age difference and Neelix’s jealousy.
- Even after Kes left the series, her bond with Janeway remained strong, highlighting the importance of their mother-daughter dynamic.
Kes’s (Jennifer Lien) biggest relationship on Star Trek: Voyager wasn’t actually with Neelix (Ethan Phillips). Kes was first introduced in Voyager‘s pilot episode, “Caretaker,” and was a main character on the show for the first three seasons before departing at the beginning of season 4. A young Ocampan woman, Kes’s main storylines on Voyager were the development of her telepathic abilities, her apprenticeship to the Doctor (Robert Picardo) in sickbay, and her romantic relationship with Neelix, the Talaxian trader who had enlisted the USS Voyager’s help to save her from the Kazon in the pilot.
Kes and Neelix’s relationship was a sticky point in Voyager‘s early seasons. Although the two were an established couple before they joined the crew, Voyager struggled to make their relationship believable or even likable. The age difference between them and Neelix’s intense jealousy surrounding Kes’s interactions with other men often made their storyline largely unappealing. Kes and Neelix eventually broke up in Voyager season 3 before she left the show, and the dissolution of their relationship was one contributing factor in her character decline. Despite this, Neelix is still often thought of as Kes’s biggest relationship on Voyager, but she had another that was arguably much more important.
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Kes And Janeway’s Mother-Daughter Dynamic Was More Important Than Neelix Romance
Kes’s most significant relationship on Voyager was with Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), who became a mother figure to the young Ocampa after she left her home planet and family behind. Although Kes and Neelix’s romance was the focal point of her character for Voyager‘s first two seasons, and her friendships with characters like Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill), Tuvok (Tim Russ), and the Doctor were important, Janeway and Kes shared a special bond. Their relationship might not have been as central to Kes’s character as some others, but their interactions, when they happened, always felt very real, genuine, and quite heartwarming.
Janeway was fiercely protective over her whole crew but had a few characters that she mothered more extensively than others, and Kes was one of them. Janeway was always willing to listen to what Kes had to say and be a sympathetic ear, and for her part, Kes seemed to regard Janeway as just as much a mother figure as Janeway felt she was. When Kes struggled with big questions or dilemmas, she would bring them to Janeway more often than anyone else. Neelix may have been Kes’s partner, but Janeway was the person she was shown to actually trust with important things regularly.
Janeway Remained Closer To Kes Even After She Left Voyager
Kes and Janeway’s relationship didn’t change even after Kes left the series. After Jennifer Lien exited Voyager, Kes made one final appearance in season 6, episode 23, “Fury,” as a bitter, older version of herself with sought to take revenge on Voyager’s crew for taking her away from her home planet. “Fury” could have reminded viewers about Kes and Neelix’s relationship when the crew helped Kes remember her better nature, but the episode chose to reaffirm how strong Janeway and Kes’s mother-daughter bond was instead.
Ultimately, Janeway was the one to come up with the plan that helped save Kes and the ship, reminding her how much she and the crew loved Kes and wanted the best for her. Comparatively, Kes and Neelix only shared a short scene at the end of the episode that, while poignant, didn’t pack the same emotional punch as Kes’s interactions with Janeway. Even in Kes’s final chapter on Star Trek: Voyager, the show made it clear what relationship meant the most to her, and it ended up being Janeway’s maternal influence.