The crews again attempt to engage the Caretaker to help return them to the Alpha Quadrant. The Caretaker reveals that he was part of an alien race that had long ago accidentally caused the rainfall cycle on the Ocampa planet to become disrupted and leaving it arid. To make up for the error, he and another of his race stayed behind to care for the Ocampa. His companion having long moved on, the Caretaker has used the Array to seek potential species from far distances that could help him reproduce and maintain the array; the strange disease that Kim and Torres had was a result of that test. The Caretaker explains that with his impending death, he has started the self-destruct sequence on the array to prevent the technology from falling into the hands of the Kazon. As the Caretaker dies, the ships are attacked by a Kazon fleet. Janeway and Chakotay coordinate the counterattack with both Voyager and the Maquis ship to protect the array; Chakotay sacrifices his vessel to destroy one of the Kazon ships, but the remains strike the array and disable the self-destruct sequence. Janeway opts to respect the Caretaker's wishes and orders the destruction of the array despite it being their only chance at returning home. With the array destroyed, the Kazon fleet disengages from battle.
As Voyager starts on a 75-year journey back to the Alpha Quadrant, Janeway integrates the Maquis crew into the Starfleet crew, with Chakotay as her First Officer, and accepts Neelix and Kes' offer to remain on board as a guide to the local area of space.