Hey look, it’s Sheriff Jody Mills! Kim Rhodes guest stars on an episode where she plays a crewmember that everyone thought was all dead, but turns out to be only mostly dead. The Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch also makes a bad David Bowie joke while discussing “Ashes to Ashes.”
This is actually an excellent episode for many of the same reasons why TNG’s “The Bonding” is an excellent episode: it reminds us that there’s an entire crew on board. Dramatic television in general and Star Trek in particular are really lousy at treating characters who are dramatically background personnel as people, even though from the internal perspective of the show, they’re just as important as everyone else. So many one-off characters have died on this show whose deaths had little to no meaning, and this episode pushes back against that nicely.
What especially sells it is the great Kim Rhodes. Ballard is charming, funny, tormented, brilliant, confused, delightful—Rhodes imbues her with such a complete personality that it heightens the tragedy of her situation. (I’m still bitter that the proposed Supernatural spinoff Wayward Sisters starring Rhodes as her superlative Sheriff Mills didn’t go to series, as that would’ve been so fantastic…)