Throwaway Star Trek Line Secretly Pays Off Much Older Episode

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

star trek voyager line

One of the reasons that we love endlessly rewatching our favorite Star Trek shows is that we often discover cool surprises that help us appreciate these episodes in entirely different ways. For example, the Star Trek: Voyager season 7 episode “Inside Man” includes a line from Reginald Barclay about the Romulans long-simmering interest in Voyager. It seems like a throwaway line, but this dialogue actually pays off a dangling plot thread from way back in season 1.

Eye Of The Needle

star trek voyager line

After we refresh you on this earlier Star Trek: Voyager episode, you’ll better appreciate the significance of Barclay’s line. In season 1, the episode “Eye of the Needle” has the crew use a special wormhole to communicate with a Romulan back home.

They ask the Romulan to deliver messages to their families and their superiors, but the revelation that they are talking to an alien 20 years in the past (one who died a few years previously, no less) makes whether he will actually deliver the messages to an enemy government something of an open question.

Message In A Bottle

star trek romulans

They are successful in their endeavor, and the Doctor tells Janeway that he communicated with Starfleet Command, who had declared Voyager lost 14 months prior.

When “Message In a Bottle” first aired, the revelation that Starfleet didn’t know about the ship’s fate implied that the Romulan from “Eye of the Needle” had never delivered the messages as Janeway had asked.

However, that earlier Star Trek: Voyager episode had a line from B’Elanna Torres in which she speculated that the Romulan might have sent word about Voyager to his government before he died. This was only speculation, but it looks like that speculation was confirmed by an episode from the show’s final season.

Inside Man

star trek voyager line

The Star Trek: Voyager season 7 episode “Inside Man” has an interesting line of dialogue from Barclay that the Romulans have been curious about Voyager for a long time.

That episode never really explains why that is, and there’s a chance that the Romulans are simply curious about a Starfleet vessel lost in the Delta Quadrant.

After Starfleet learns about Voyager’s fate in “Message In a Bottle,” it would have been easy enough for the Romulans to find out about the ship from the Federation, either openly or through subterfuge.

The Romulans Knew

star trek synthehol

However, I have a Star Trek: Voyager theory that Barclay’s line actually calls back to “Eye of the Needle.” Simply put, my theory is that the alien did transmit info about Voyager back to the Romulan government and these officials never bothered to contact Starfleet.

That means that the Romulans might have known about Voyager getting lost in the Delta Quadrant years before Starfleet did and would understandably be curious about a Federation vessel exploring otherwise unknown regions of space.

We’ll Never Know For Sure

I’ll probably never know whether my Star Trek: Voyager theory is correct or not, but I love the idea that Barclay’s later line is a deep-dive reference to a much earlier episode. It helps this fan-favorite series feel like one continuous story even though it lacks the serial storytelling of fellow spinoff Deep Space Nine.

Next time you stream the adventures of Janeway and her crew, just imagine that the upper echelons of the Romulan government may be just as invested in Voyager’s Delta Quadrant adventures as you are.  

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