When watching Star Trek: Voyager season 3 episode 21 Before and After I was surprised that Kes was anchored to a time where she had much longer hair, and that Tom and B'Elanna are seeing one another; when in the previous episode Favorite Son Kes had her usual short hair and Tom and B'Elanna weren't an item. I then thought maybe this was one of those weird wibbly wobbly timey wimey things that seems to be enough of a common occurrence that Starfleet teaches them at the Academy (as Janeway said in Future's End that at the Academy she vowed not to get tangled up in those time paradoxes).

But then watching Season 3 Episode 22 Real Life Kes still has long hair and Tom and B'Elanna are an item. I recall in a previous episode (I can't remember which) it was said that Voyager had been in the Delta Quadrant for 3 years and Kes's hair had been the same all this time.

So I am wondering just how much time passed between episodes 20 and 21, or why Kes's hair has suddenly gotten longer when for 3 years it remained short (since I don't discount that it's an Ocampan biology thing as originally I thought one Ocampan year wasn't the same a one Human year).

  • "Before and After" is episode 62 (season 3, episode 21), not episode 27.
    – jwodder
    Dec 8, 2016 at 23:52
  • @jwodder thanks for correcting me. i must have gotten some numbers mixed up when i wrote them down
    – Memor-X
    Dec 8, 2016 at 23:57

3 Answers 3


No time passes; Kes travels from the future to the past to warn the crew.

Long-haired Kes is actually Kes from the future. There is some timey-wimey stuff going on, which I can't remember all the details, but the result is that future Kes, who has experienced the Year of Hell, finds herself travelling backwards in time.

She is effectively an alternate timeline Kes who travels backwards through time (she experiences her life in reverse).

She reaches a point where she actually overtakes her younger self, and because of her memories of the future, makes a few different decisions. When she starts moving forward through time again, she has retained those memories.

Her journey starts to move forward, before being eventually halted in the "present". Because she has all those memories, she ended up making different decisions and influenced events in a different way - including the decision on her hairstyle.

  • This doesn't explain the alternate ages of the bodies she finds herself in. Her physical form reverts all the way to a fetus at one point; only her mind is traveling through time.
    – Izkata
    Dec 9, 2016 at 1:25
  • 3
    @Izkata - her memories cause her to make different decisions as she ages forward again. That's why there are differences.
    – Tim
    Dec 9, 2016 at 1:51

We don't know the exact amount of time because Before and After is set mostly in the future and past with Voyager's "present" being only a small part of the episode and they don't mention a star date in the present segments.

That being said here's what we can know for sure:

episode 21 (Favorite Son) occurs on stardate 50732.4 episode 23 (Real Life) occurs on stardate 50836.2.

I plugged those star dates into a few different stardate to calendar date converters I found and while they didn't exactly agree, they were all pretty close to each other. Here are the date ranges for those stardates.

50732.4: 09/25/2373 - 10/04/2373

50836.2: 11/02/2373 - 11/14/2373

If you believe those dates, the "present" parts of Before and After had to occur somewhere inside of that range.

As to your comment on Tim's answer about Kes's alternate ages. Her body is aged differently each time because her mind is jumping to different points in her life starting with her death. In the context of the episode, it's like her mind was "born" at her body's death and then leaps back in time to different points in her life. Each time her body is younger, because her mind is jumping into her body at an earlier point.

So, about that hair...

In the timeline up to this point, Kes has had short hair the whole time. Then Before and After opens with her dying and having long hair. The idea being that at some point in the future, Kes grew her hair. That's easy enough to grasp.

But, at the end of the episode, when she is returned to the "present", she still has long hair when she should have short hair, which is arguably a plot hole.

I suspect the real answer here is that either Jennifer Lien or the producers wanted to change Kes's hair style for the show and this was a convenient way to do it. In universe, it's a lot harder to explain and I don't think there's is a great explanation, but if I had to explain it, I'm inclined to go with Tim's interpretation.

As Kes jumped back through her own life, she gained "memories" of future events. The episode ends with her in the season 3 present with memories of the future Kremin attack among other things from her jumps. We're only shown that present Kes has these memories, but you could make an argument that past Kes has them as well. Therefore, young Kes "remembers" having long hair in the future, likes it, and decides to grow it earlier than the original timeline Kes would have. Because of that, she returns to the present at the end of the episode with long hair.

As for Tom and B'Elanna. It's a been awhile since I've watched the series, so I don't remember when the Tom/B'Elanna thing got going, but I'll take your word that this episode was the first time we see it and that it came from nowhere.

You could look at it like this. Tom spent a lot of the early episodes going after Kes. Since she now "remembers" that Tom and B'Elanna end up together, she could have influenced events a different way that led to them getting together earlier.

Honestly, I don't really buy that explanation and I'm fine with just knowing that a) they wanted to change Kes's hair and so just did it and B) wanted to introduce and Tom/B'Elanna relationship and just did it. But if we have to explain it, then that's probably the best way.


I also believe it is a plot hole. I don't think any significant time has passed between those two episodes. But if you watch an interview, Jennifer tells reporters that she was having a severe allergic reaction to the prosthetic ears. They decided to give her long hair to help remedy this problem. So it did create some confusion but I assume they figured it was necessary. However it is the 24th century, so it is not too much of a stretch to say Kes just decided to change her hairstyle.

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  • But in-universe it must have taken some time for her to grow that hair. How much time? Obviously unless her hair grows visibly fast (which we might have noticed before) some time must have passed.
    – DavidW
    May 5, 2022 at 4:11
  • 1
    @DavidW in a universe where a gadget waved above an injury can heal it rapidly - it should not be difficult to accelerate simple hair growth. May 5, 2022 at 6:48

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