R. Star, I think you just nailed how I feel about Neelix in the run up to these episodes. It's just extremely petty. And I really liked Paris, the fact he hadn't realised how he felt about Kes until that moment in the simulator. As someone who's been in a similar situation it felt great. Though his reaction to the Mess Hall scene was a bit over the top.
And the plot may be a cliche, but the dialogue raises it over it. I've thought a few times that Voyager was becoming quite stilted, and until I watched this I couldn't put my finger on what it was exactly. Apart from the Mess hall, of course. Though a little slapstick never hurt anyone.