It feels a little bit like a Next Generation episode, given the focus on Reg Barclay and the guest appearance by Deanna Troi, but it’s also very much a Voyager episode, as we get the biggest status quo change on the show in quite some time. The Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch checks in on the “Pathfinder” Project.
Those two elements combine to make this an excellent Star Trek episode, because it sets Voyager in a place it rarely goes: within the history and setting of the greater Trek universe. This is only the third time Voyager has made contemporary contact with the Alpha Quadrant (caveat necessary thanks to “Eye of the Needle”), and of the other two, one happened off camera (the EMH’s report to Starfleet in “Message in a Bottle”) and the other was one-way: letters from home (“Hunters”) and an encrypted message from Admiral Hayes (“Hope and Fear”). This is real contact that, unlike the others, has the promise of more.