Neelix Departure Planned Early, Says BillerBy Christian
June 28, 2001 - 2:01 PM
At the start of the seventh season, Star Trek producers insisted they had not yet determined whether Voyager would make it home at the end of the series. But at the same time, they had already decided that Neelix would not be around for that eventual end, Kenneth Biller revealed today.
"That was a big decision," the former Voyager executive producer told Anna L. Kaplan at Cinescape. "We often said, 'What would happen if Neelix ran into Talaxians and had to make a decision?' I said very early on in the season, the only way I would do that story was if Neelix left. The audience’s expectation would be that he’s going to struggle with this decision and then decide that Voyager is really his home and his family, and he is going to stay with Voyager. That was a clichéd story to tell, if that were the outcome."
Biller explained that with Neelix leaving, the episode had to be placed near the end of the season. "I had a long talk with Ethan Phillips about it. In fact I talked to him early in the season. He was very excited about it. Of course, he didn’t want to have to leave the show really early. I told him that it was a way to really give Neelix a big send off, as opposed to him just being one more character in the big finale where he wasn't going to get a lot of focus."
According to Biller, the script for 'Homestead' was treated even more secretly than that for 'Endgame.' "We made a greater attempt at secrecy surrounding that episode. We put the script out so that it ended with Neelix saying goodbye to the people on the planet and going back to Voyager, which seems like the ending of that story if it were a typical Star Trek episode."
Extra scenes in which Neelix does leave the ship were added to the episode after filming on the original script had finished. But the deception proved to be of little use, as word of the character's departure leaked out more than two months before the episode aired.
In the full interview, Biller talked about another element of Voyager's end that had been planned well in advance - the romance between Chakotay and Seven. For that, as well as Biller's thoughts on how the finale was conceived, please follow this link.