Star Trek: Voyager

“The Killing Game”

Part I: 2.5 stars. Part II: 2 stars.

Air date: 3/4/1998
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Part I directed by David Livingston
Part II directed by Victor Lobl

"One day the Borg will assimilate your species, despite your arrogance. When that day arrives, remember me." — Seven to Hirogen "number two"

Review Text

Nutshell: "Excessive" barely begins to describe it. This is overblown anarchy. And the story ultimately has nothing to show for it.

There's a part of me—the part that goes to see movies like Independence Day merely to witness entertainingly large-scaled destruction and mayhem—that enjoyed portions of "The Killing Game." Unfortunately, this is not the part of me that I consider my most socially responsible part, nor is it the part of me that typically writes these reviews week after week.

"The Killing Game," particularly its second half, is one of the most anarchic episodes of Star Trek ever created. It's not just anarchy in the sense that there's war and violence running amuck everywhere on board the starship Voyager; it's also anarchy in the sense that the plot is composed of what seems like thousands if not millions of disconnected little pieces trying to come together to make some sort of sense.

It's futile.

I'm rating the first part higher than the second because it doesn't push so hard as it unfolds and because it proves to be an adequate (if hardly compelling) setup for the premise. Its easygoing pace is refreshing and movie-like. And David Livingston seems to enjoy taking his time to focus on the little details of the French Resistance/World War II holodeck setting.

As for the second part ... well, that's when most of the anarchy sets in, turning the net result into a far-too-extreme two-part Voyager "event." Part two is, frankly, off its rocker—aimless and ill-conceived, yet somehow still moderately watchable and not completely horrid.

I'm not going to explain the plot in any sort of chronologically ordered detail, because there isn't really much "plot," per se, beyond the rudimentary frame for the action. As the episode opens we learn the Hirogen have taken over Voyager. Suffice it to say that the Hirogen leader (Danny Goldring) wants to learn some things about his "prey" by putting them into violent holodeck settings to see how they react. Furthermore, everyone involved is at the mercy of a neural device that makes them believe they're whomever the Hirogen program them to be. Therefore, everybody actually thinks they're the characters that they're playing.

This strikes me as a canned plot method for role-playing in a 20th-century setting, almost as if the Voyager writers decided they wanted to do "Far Beyond the Stars" for themselves. Unfortunately, the setting is put to very little dramatic use; instead, it merely becomes a wind-up toy. Most of the characters play various people in the French Resistance, residents of a town occupied by a Nazi presence. The town is on the verge of invasion by the Americans. You'd think with a premise like this there'd be room for some social relevance. But this story instead turns into a collection of bright ideas, with the crew members' identities changing on a moment's notice (under circumstances that would take far too long to explain), holodeck safeties being disabled, and, finally, the notion that WWII actually spills onto the decks of Voyager when the Hirogen lose control of their controlled situation. (They had installed holo-emitters on various decks of the ship—although why is never quite clear.)

Of course, there's also the bright idea of making Neelix a Klingon for his bout of role-playing in a second holodeck setting. I have no comment other than, "uh ... no." (Conversely, I thought Janeway's brief turn as a Klingon in the opening minute of the show was quite a bit of fun. I didn't even realize that it was Kate Mulgrew until after the Hirogen said, "Janeway requires medical attention.")

Meanwhile, the episode goes on to lay waste to half the ship for no other reason, I'm guessing, than because the creators felt they could. Only in "The Killing Game" will you see the holodeck wall blown apart, exposing multiple decks of the ship to the people inside the holodeck. Only in "The Killing Game" will you see Janeway blow up sickbay with a holographic bomb based on WWII technology. And only in "The Killing Game" will a group of holographic Klingons save the day by charging across from another holodeck simulation to slaughter the simulated German army.

Is this interesting to watch? Well, maybe for a while, but not for the length that it continues. Talking about it is kind of fun, just because it's so bizarre, absurd, and overlarge—or perhaps it's interesting to discuss for the same reasons I might be excited as I explain to my friends a car wreck I had just witnessed.

The fact of the matter is that watching this becomes tiring and eventually quite boring. By the time the latter stages of the second episode were rolling around, I was sick of the bloodless, pointless gunfights between the fictional armies. The whole exercise became ludicrous. Why was it happening? For some sort of dramatic purpose or storytelling point? No. It was happening because the contrivances of the plot made the holodeck break down so that it couldn't be stopped. Why couldn't the simulation simply be turned off? Because the commands were off-line, that's why. The fact that "the plug can't be pulled" is a very flimsy device to base the a story around, but that's exactly what "The Killing Game" does.

This is merely more fourth-season Voyager "fun." And it's shallow and inept. There really isn't much of a story here. It's just set piece after set piece, with a half-finished theme about Hirogen existence shoehorned in between the plot advances. The tragedy of it all is that the Hirogen theme was the only part of the show that really had any sort of emotional resonance. I found the Hirogen leader to be the story's sole interesting character. His methods were brutal and exploitative, but he had an urgent purpose for what he was doing. He was fascinated by the fantasy realm of the holodeck and what it could mean for his people, who are threatened with extinction as a result of their inability to change. Unfortunately, he goes the way of Ensign Suder—frustratingly knocked off by the writers to give rise to a "tragic" moment, abandoning all potential for him to teach his fellow Hirogen anything that would make them more interesting to us as viewers. He's killed by one of his own men, a casualty of his unconventional thinking. I guess it works in the sense that he's a victim of his own society's problems, but that doesn't change the fact that his death is based on plotting by the numbers.

There are also moments when this episode tries to thematically connect the Hirogen to the Nazis (both are groups who prey on others, but for different reasons), but it's unfortunately lost in a sea of madness, and relevant only for its obvious plot value: to turn the Hirogen number two (Mark Deakins) against his commander.

For good measure, the finale has Janeway being hunted through the Voyager corridors by the evil Hirogen number two. I thought the way she gained the upper hand on him was kind of clever, though part of me wishes Janeway had unloaded four or five shells into the evil Hirogen rather than just one. But that's probably the same part of me that revels in seeing New York City incinerated by a flaming alien fireball (see Independence Day example above).

So what happens when the moment of crisis is over and the holodeck armies vanish? Chakotay says, rather unceremoniously, "It's over. Let's go." I couldn't help but laugh at the anticlimax. Half the ship was lying in ruins, yet the characters just log it as another day at the office. And speaking of days at the office, raise your hand if you think the fact that "the damage to Voyager is extreme" will mean a damn thing beyond the one sentence that was used to acknowledge the fact. (You, in the back—put your hand down. You obviously weren't listening to a word I just said.)

Lastly, the truce at the story's end between the Voyager crew and the Hirogen isn't believable. It comes out of nowhere, half-explained in Janeway's log narration that the standstill in the fighting has provided the Hirogen with no other option. This strikes me as inconsistent with everything about the Hirogen we've learned. With the Hirogen leader dead, there's no dramatic basis for the truce to even happen, so the fact that the remaining Hirogen accept Janeway's peaceful resolution is nothing more than arbitrary.

As brain dead as "The Killing Game" (particularly part two) is, I didn't quite loathe it. I certainly didn't like it, but as an elaborate two hours of "fun" it manages to work in stretches, even though it's hopelessly nonsensical if you stop to think about it.

Ultimately, "The Killing Game" is a Holodeck Runs Awry paradigm—an oft-dreaded TNG cliché reconceived and ante-upped by Voyager. But because Braga and Menosky didn't seem content with only one cliché, they had to throw in a change in time periods, lots of crew members behaving as other people, an alien takeover premise, lots and lots of holodeck gags, gunfire, Jeri Ryan singing, explosions, double-crosses, Hirogen politics, more gunfire, and plenty of general mayhem. It's ... just ... too ... much.

The result is a disjointed, nearly incoherent mess. A mess that doesn't add up to mean much of anything. The more I think about my ratings, the more generous they seem. But I'm not going to change them, because this is an episode that demands to simply be viewed and then not thought of the slightest bit afterward. The technical credits are impressive, if that's any consolation.

So, goodbye, Hirogen. You're another Trekkian alien race for the books, and you won't be particularly missed. You got to appear in five episodes, but you're still nothing more than another entry into the log of Stock Delta Quadrant Aliens.

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Comment Section

122 comments on this post

    I'd like to know exactly how a race of Hunters not the least bit concerned in anything but hunting prey and killing them for trophies, ever managed to tackle enough math and science to develop technology for traveling in outer space. Now, that's a story waiting be told.

    Well I hate to agree with evil nazi aliens but that guy who threatened Neelix is my hero

    I think that this probably could have been a great single hour episode. They just threw too many things into this two-parter. Especially dropping the whole "Klingon" part would have given the story a lot more focus. In the end, I still liked it for the St. Clair restaurant scenes alone.

    This episode was crap. This show was crap. Everything about this show just reeked of bullshit and other assorted piles of shit.

    What is it with bad episodes of Star Trek and Nazi aliens???

    Actually, the reason they're installing all the holoemitters it mentioned: they want to extend the holodecks.

    Another "holodecks can do anything you want them to" episode. Really annoys me everytime I see the things in the holodeck being able to basically become 100% real (once the safeties are off of course - why would you even have this option? Who in their right minds would want to switch of the safeties?)

    Neelix did make an awful Klingon...he looked much better as a Ferengi in "False Profits".

    You were wrong, Jammer: the Hirogen did return, albeit three years later.

    I think the problems with this episode are the same problems that were present in "Our Man Bashir": that the plot is so OBVIOUSLY just a contrived means to get our characters to do things they wouldn't normally do. And While "Our Man Bashir" was a copy/parody of James Bond, this wasn't really a copy of anything, which really made it quite refreshing. Plus, Jeri Ryan sings! Isn't that worth an extra star?

    And I'm so sick of people complaining about the damage to Voyager being too easy to repair. DS9 was attacked by an entire fleet of Klingon ships in "The Way of the Warrior" and never looked worse for wear, nor was it ever mentioned that they needed outisde help.

    In "The Way of the Warrior," we saw Starfleet ships dock at DS9 after that battle, so we can assume they were able to offer any repair work that was needed (even if it wasn't mentioned on screen). TOS & TNG often did repair work to their Enterprises off-screen as well, because, like DS9, the audience knew they had access to Federation supplies.
    Voyager did not, so that's what makes it a series-wide plot hole.

    I'm just watching Voyager again and got so put out by this pile of crap that I had to find a place to vent.

    OMG, a WW2 setting. How convenient. Not the 100-year war, not the Crusades, not some ancient battle between the Egyptians and whoever, not some fray on Vulcan... And Paris, of course, knows AAAAAAALL about WW2. How many of us would be able to know WTF is going on in the Crimean War if we were transported there? And Seven, when her neuro-whatever implant is removed, has no idea who the Nazis were, despite her encyclopedic knowledge of all assimilated facta. A Klingon Neelix. An Allied "captain" Chakotey. I guess we should be grateful that this time he didn't bust out his mat and rocks, and started doing that "acushla moya, we're far from the spirits of our buffalo" bullshit.

    Forget the plot and the premise and all; the bottom line is: WTF is a sci-fi series doing even mentioning, let alone basing TWO episodes on, the World War Two?!? I want Star Trek to be about the future technology and exploration, not repackaged conflicts from centuries previously (Civil War and the Q, anyone?) or flirtatious games between Paris and Torres or Neelix/Seven/Kim/The Doctor "finding" themselves.

    Speaking of the Doctor, whenever I remember that Schweitzer/Schmalus phase of him, it just cracks me up no end!!

    To conclude: When the plot makes it necessary to go back in time or refer to history, can it possibly NOT be 20th century Earth???

    O.K., rant over. But you'll be hearing from me again, I suspect. I'm only down to season 4!

    Why Nazis? Easy, as characters they are regarded as safely evil. Nearly everyone regards them as indisputably "bad" guys. Voyager as a show wants you to have that crystal clear evil upon which to focus.

    Can you imagine a similar story line assembled around jews & muslims, or perhaps Vietnam?

    I agreee this episode was very poor and the resolution made no sense. Especially the end when Harold Kim blows up all the holoemitters and then bad guys and guns disappear, but the hologreaphic world they are in is still there. I was expecting they drop down at least 6 feet or more to the floor of the deck, depending on where they were standing on the street. Either way this ending was just plain awful. Awful to begin with and more awful to end. 1 star, one.

    I'll agree that these episodes weren't that great, and certainly didn't warrant a two-parter. However, whereas Jammer seemed to prefer the first episode, I thought the second part was better. IMO, the first part just dragged something unmercifully and didn't seem to be going anywhere. At least we got some action in the second part.

    One redeeming aspect of part one, though. I did enjoy Jeri's singing. And it was nice to see her with her hair let down too.

    Watched this last night and laughed the whole way through. Yes, Jammer, it's FUN. It's fun! All of your reviews for Voyager seem to revolve around the fact that it's not the show you wanted it to be. But I'm not sure that means you are judging the show on it's merits. Being 'fun' is actually a big plus sign in my book. No, it's not as quality as DS9. But it sure is fun. I like fun.

    You people are so jaded.

    Let's see. Remember that early scene when the Hirogen number 1 and their doctor discuss the possibility of Janeway being aware of her identity through her persona as the Klingon?

    That is the crux of the episode(s) and fits perfectly in with Voyager's (real) premise. There are some issues with the execution (see Chakotay's reaction in part II), but the strength of this episode has to do with the strong identity of these archetypal characters. This show KNOWS it's mythology, and so it puts a myth inside the myth, framed within the admittedly fun historical context of WWII France.

    As it is Star Trek, there is also the connection drawn between the Nazis and the Hirogen, but it's not so black and white as you paint it; what the Hirogen have lost is identity, focus, greatness. The Nazis, however evil, were certain of their divine purpose. It is the intrinsic nature of purpose, based on mythical archetypes which gives Star Trek and Voyager its identity, which fascinates the Hirogen number 1 and represents a hope for his people who have lost their culture. Culture. That is what the mythos of things like Star Trek provide a society. I could keep going on this vein of intriguing ideas which this episode generates. And those ideas are fresh with each viewing. That means, to me anyway, that it's a success of Star Trek episode. It is far from perfect, but much of the "excess" is so palpably enjoyable (see for example Doc and Neelix cheering on the attacking Klingons) it's hard to find fault with the superficial nature of these minor plot elements.

    Part Ii is a bit of a disintegration, and the ending is, well, weird. I can see giving part II 2.5 stars and part I 3 or 3.5. Much like TNG's "Unification," Part II abandons a great deal of the philosophical headway made in part I.

    Agreed, Elliott - geez, you'd think everybody hated this show the way some of these reviews read. These kinds of shows are a treat for the cast and crew, and offer fans a new perspective on familiar characters. The holodeck is the means of getting the pieces in place. I personally prefer not to obsess about the capabilities and limitations of this fictional technology. I accept it as a means to an end, and I think once they established the WW II setting the story was entertaining and, as Elliott observed, had a message that was clear (no anarchy that I can see, Jammer) and classic 'Star Trek.'


    Ever heard of "german ingenuity" WW2 the nazi technology was superb for a bit and honestly had great ideas. The problem was they tackled it all ideas at once. While USA picked a couple of ideas only and then kept making it better and better. At some point USA caught up with the germans tech wise and help win the war. In essence the Hirogen would've been the most tech advanced in delta quadrant if they weren't hunting. But that doesn't mean that the human way of progress (cooperation and peace) is the only way - in fictional universe look at klingons. Warlike but with warp tech. Honestly a lot of scientific progress happen faster during war or threat of it... Hirogen are hunters. They need to be tech savvy to prey in the first place-just like invention of spears, cannons, guns, etc. to "hunt".

    So to your question, yes very possible.

    I enjoy reading these reviews, but I don't understand the rating system. How does "one of the most anarchic episodes of Star Trek ever created" get 2 - 2 1/2 stars? A "not completely horrid" episode should get less than 2 stars.

    It's because of episodes like this that the trite phrase, "jump the shark" was ever coined.

    Voyager did indeed jump the shark here. "The Killing Game Part II" is Voyager's version of Happy Days' "Hollywood, Part 3 of 3."

    I don't know that I'd give these episodes any more stars, but I would like to agree with those who see the episode as fun. I also think it's very Trekkian, with its portrayal of the good guys as cleverly subversive, always the rebels. Americans have always pictured themselves as underdogs, fighting for freedom. We're at our best when we're captured, behind the 8 ball. Hence Hogan's Heroes, Star Wars, and characters like Han Solo, John McClane. Hell, Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis wouldn't have careers without that character. Science fiction is not about science; it's about people, society, politics, philosophy, religion, just hidden in an unfamiliar but safe world of the future.

    You people need to lighten up and get that stick out of your ass. This episode was fun. Pure and simple. Sure it could have been done better as just one part, but it doesn't matter. The French resistance scenario was fun to watch. I enjoy these holodeck episodes for their entertainment value. Sure they create false conflict, but seeing our characters in these holodeck situations makes for a nice break from the sci fi action. I thought the same thing for Our Man Bashir and Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom.

    No, Voyager is nowhere near as good as DS9, but it really does have its moments, and I think this was one of them. It's just a fun holodeck episode, and I don't think it pretends to be anything more. Just take it at face value and enjoy it for what it is.

    Agree with Elphaba- Actually been saying that all along. Seems some people want to analyze more than enjoy and that begs the question: Is it always so horrid when the show wants to give the viewers something entertaining and other than the norm? I'm more surprised by posts saying how much this show stinks and how they hate it- why watch it then? And why come to a review site on the show and post about it? I never liked DS9 and even though I've watched quiet a few episodes ( I'm trying to like it Lol) you won't see me go to a review site on it and state how much I hate it. Lighten up people.

    Yeah yeah I know- people have the right to post whatever they want. I'm just boggled on why they would watch a show they hate?

    I hate top agree with Elliot... Just kidding.

    I like both parts of this. Good, big boombastic fun.

    That was simply awful. I like fun, but I can't totally turn off my brain to have fun. The plot holes and increasing ridiculousness of the conflict's nature on the ship and holodecks were painfully obvious and made the episodes silly and empty. Why would the Hirogen need to declare a truce? They had the upper hand clearly and four other ships surrounding Voy. It was an insultingly pat ending.

    The thing that bugged me most about this episode was why did Harry Kim set a 9 minute countdown? Why not just destroy the holographic weapons right away?

    I'm a little annoyed at how freely Janeway was handing out Starfleet tech at this stage. In season one, she could have avoided all manner of mayhem with the Kazon if she'd offered up a replicator or two, but then it was all 'death first before we destroy your culture with tech you're not ready for'. Now she literally says, "Here's a free holodeck DIY guide...if you don't want it, meh, just hang it on your wall." a few eps back, she wanted to trade isolinear computer chips for some weapons upgrades. Plus we have seen in the dinosaurs episode that Voyager has been leaving tricorders and other junk behind like a trail of freaking breadcrumbs. WTF, Janeway?!

    Not to mention the thin white line of semen extending from the holodeck ejection ports, leaving a trail hundreds of light years long.

    Hey, the mid-twentieth-century German-occupied French village looks exactly like the town of Fair Haven! What were the odds?

    Was that Jeri Ryan actually singing? (shudder) Something was way wrong with it. It was like each line was worked on and recorded separately. The vibrato was extreme. Weird.

    This was a painful episode to watch. I didn't buy that the Hirogen would do any of this even if one of them was going through a sort-of enlightenment. "I feel like our way of life will get us nowhere." (sensible.) "So, let's violently abuse these humans over and over again " (huh? some renaissance.)

    And there goes Elliott again. When everyone else in the world doesn't like a star trek episode that he likes, there is just something wrong with them. In this case, we are "jaded". (snicker) Look, I can enjoy a crappy Star Trek episode like anyone else. But this one was was just too disjointed and unbelievable. That's it. I didn't like it. Deal with it. Now to part 2.

    Part 2: Inconceivable and downright boring. So much effort put into it for no payoff at all. Depressing. And B'Elanna's pregnant belly was a hologram? Attached to her body? (sigh)

    @ Lt. Yarko

    Yeah, it's ludicrous that a holographic could be projected into B'Ehlanna that perfectly stays aligned as she moves. I guess they improved the technology since Neelix had to stay perfectly still to maintain a holographic lung in place.

    I think people have overlooked the positive message here... that a Hirogen (a previously 2 dimensioned alien if ever there was one) seeks to advance his species by moving the hunt to the holodeck...

    Gives us some more depth on Hirogens, shows them interested in learning about their prey's culture and mindset (which is why we're in WWII).

    And I think Neelix as Klingon was amusing.

    This was a good, message-based episode.

    Just one tiny small plot hole...WHERE WAS THE REST OF THE CREW? How many died? Nevermind, hit the reset switch, just another day in the alpha quadrant.

    @ Nick...

    Indeed...Naomi Wildman springs to mind here. Was she fighting toddler Klingons, or just left to starve to death in her quarters?

    Nick, I believe the rest of the crew was stated by a Hirogen to be under lock and key (the ones who weren't maintaining ship or on holodeck.) You saw some in sick bay too. A crew compliment in the end would have helped the viewers. Example in the Captain's log it would have been a good time to along with "Damage to Voyager has been extreme" she did mention losses on both issues but it was flat.

    I enjoyed this episode but I remember when this first aired " how many times are we going to do the almost lost my ship routine?
    And WHY give technology away when you miraculously manage a cease fire without that on the table? *face palm*

    This reviewer has made a conscious effort to avoid understanding what the episodes are about.

    Peter Konrad - Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - 5:04am (USA Central)
    This reviewer has made a conscious effort to avoid understanding what the episodes are about.

    Wow.. statements like this are great when you don't even try to back them up. Bravo!

    I enjoyed both episodes, and would give each 3 stars. Is there some deep moral dilemma trying to tease out the human condition? No, not really, but it's okay to just have a little fun with these stories... Jammer, the producers and writers can't put episodes like "The Measure of a Man" on every single week. Lighten up and just enjoy for once, instead of psycho-analyzing these stories to death.

    Honestly, I can't complain much about the, well, lack of seriousness of the episode. True, Voyager is known for being pretty light on the heaviness and heavy on the reset button, but this season has been impressive overall. We've had episodes with legitimate impact to the show, such as The Gift and Message in a Bottle. We've had some commentary on social issues, regardless of if they've been good or not. We've had a relationship between Tom and B'Elanna appear, and we've had some great character development of Seven. In brief, we've had a strong, solid season, so frankly what is wrong with having a silly show every once in a while?

    Yes, this was a very silly episode, and a rather egregious use of the reset button. Which is too bad; the holo-emitters in the hallway could be an interesting thing to keep. After all, imagine if the ship was boarded (again). Instead of sending out the security crew, Janeway activates the emergency security holograms! Just turn the safety off, give them some weapons, ensure they have impenetrable armor, and give them rudimentary AI to ensure they don't hit any of the crew, and voila! Raiding party repelled, with no threat to the crew. It would be an interesting callback to the episode, and provide an actual positive impact of the episode. Or maybe they could extend the holodeck for some lighthearted sideplot for some show. After all, Kim said they extended it another 5000 sq meters! That's some change!

    Oh well, on the plus side, it was another interesting side to the Hirogen. We got to see that they weren't entirely a one-trick pony; at least the captain wasn't. At least some of them recognize that their desire to rebuild their society. So we've had four episodes with the Hirogen, and each of them were just different enough to not be boring.

    So I thought it was fun. Best part: when the Klingons go off to battle charging and cheering, the Doctor followed, waving his little dagger around sarcastically with a "Tally-ho" to join it.

    (Oh ok, one complaint: it seems obvious that someone at the top of the pecking order wanted to see Klingons fighting Nazis. But they seemed to have no idea how to get around to it. Janeway appeared in the Klingon holodeck with Chakotay, supposedly to invite them along. Then she left. Then Chakotay left. Then Neelix and the Doc just sat around for awhile. Only once the time was right for the grand finale did they finally act on it. Bad plotting there.)

    I'm not sure where to begin with this. It just reeks of cheap ratings grabs and actors wanting to explore different scenery because they're either bored of Sci-Fi or bored with Voyager in general.

    I like TNG's "A Matter of Time" where Hitler was brought up as an example by Picard to show what an elementary boogeyman he is when brought up in his time. That works, because although you're exposed to 20th century trivia, the 24th century characters acknowledge they've evolved beyond that time to point where the idea of Hitler and Nazis is purely academic.

    Even DS9, which arguably has Space Nazis (i.e. the Cardassians/Dominion), is still clever enough to keep the references subtle and fit in-universe.

    So apparently Voyager is just using concepts that earlier Treks were smart enough to throw out.

    1 star for makeup, I guess?

    Part 1:

    Well, you can't say that this doesn't take a crazy idea and run hard with it. I wonder who first proposed 'Hirogen in Nazi uniforms'? Because if there's one thing you can never have enough of, it's Nazis, right?

    This is about as meta as its possible to get - the resistance on the ship mirrored with the resistance on the holodeck, Janeway and Seven's conflict being played out, B'Elanna and Tom having a relationship - and actually there is some satisfaction in the different layers. Harry may have found his strongest role yet. And the whole thing looks gorgeous.

    But it's Hirogen in Nazi uniform at the end of the day. The whole - probably fairly interesting - story about how they took the ship goes out the window to provide the set-up. The sub-plot about the Hirogen commander as a reformist seems important but only gets one scene - hopefully this will get expanded upon. But as US forces led by the unwitting crew look set to storm the real Voyager from the holodeck you can't help thinking that this is all a bit too crazy for its own good. 2.5 stars.

    Part 2:

    So after the first part, people fight n' stuff and it all ends happily. Part 2 tosses out the window everything that made part 1 interesting, namely the multi-layered approach. At least the reformist Hirogen story plays out, if only by the numbers. We see Klingons vs Nazis (to be fair, what's not to like about that). But it all just degenerates into an unholy mess that doesn't even make much sense.

    1.5 stars - incidentally breaking a 12 ep run scored at 2.5 or more. I guess we were well overdue a clunker, and this was it.

    Unmittigated sh-t .. and it went on about 4 hours too long .. I skip-watched the first episode in about 15 mins, and this one took about 10 mins .. but it felt well over 6 hours long.

    Jewish propaganda seems to find its way into the far future - apparently they are still trying to justify the Palestinian massacres.

    All kinds of themes can be explored by science fiction - but they should be explored metaphorically - thats the whole point of being in the scifi genre is to explore human themes .. WITH A NEW PERSPECTIVE .. these two episodes would only have value if they were printed on toilet paper - at least you could wipe your ass with them.

    I think you missed the point of this episode but first... what Jewish propaganda? I mean, seriously.... is it the fact that the Nazis are evil? Because these 2 episodes mentioned the Jews in all of one speech and it wasn't to glorify them.

    That said, the episode wasn't supposed to be a metaphor for WW2 (for an excellent WW2 metaphor on the toll oppression can take on both sides of the coin see DS9's Duet). This episode was an excuse for a period piece. This wasn't really an exploration of the Nazis, it was an exploration of the Hirogen and if they can change.

    I don't think it was a particularly good one and Trek's obsession with having a Nazi episode on over half their shows (TOS/VOY/ENT all did one) is certainly weird. But I think there's a certain appeal to having the Nazis be villains because they are often demonized as the epitome of evil... so it's hard to have a better black/white villain.

    It's lazy and the episode was not one of VOY's finer 2 parters... but the Nazi stuff wasn't really meant to be explored. It was just supposed to be fun. One can say it missed the mark, but they weren't exploring WW2 themes here.

    I hate to see characters crudely bent to complete a plot. Especially one with such a neat, sententious coda. After the Hirogen leader is killed for heresy, there is no way the others would simply negotiate like that. Maybe after a 5 year war with heavy casualties on both sides, but there's no suggestion this has happened. And the Hirogen-Nazi analogy fairly explicit in that WW2 simulation tends to suggest the reverse: no compromise. Having Janeway flimsily point out this miraculous volte-face only makes it seem more ridiculous. Also there's the way the new Hirogen leader runs away from Janeway with a gun, only to turn round defiantly 1-2 minutes later. Groan. I'm just over half-way through watching the complete series for the first time, and I'm beginning to think a run of more than 2 good episodes in a row is beyond Voyager. A fair review Jammer.

    I really don't even want to talk about this 2-parter. Voyager's 2-parters are so damn good, I don't want to taint the water...

    Nazi's..... again? Is this frakin mandatory or something? Jesus.

    .... and it's bad.

    I never watch this during reruns... the Hirogen have been ruined (and they shrunk).

    1 star for Jeri's singing... that was quite enjoyable.

    Oh please. Aliens take the ship....again. Someone wake me up when the Hirogen arc is over. I'm going to skip part 2 altogether (0)

    Jammer, great site, and I enjoy the reviews. I don't always agree, and I wonder sometimes if the ones your wrote while the show was on the air aren't suffering from "Trek burnout". After a decade of new Trek, was anything going to seem all that fresh? I didn't like Voyager when it first aired, and in fact quit watching during season three. But having revisited the series via DVD, I really enjoy it. My preferences have clearly changed in the 15 years since it went off the air, or maybe I just find it easier to sit back and relax and take the show at face value.

    Case in point:The Killing Game, which I watched yesterday with my wife and kids. We all enjoyed it quite a bit. The girls were a bit disturbed at the cruelty of the HIrogen in badly wounding the crew over and over again, and my oldest daughter was amused at Seven of Nine singing in the cabaret. But by and large this was a big, fun episode, with a villain that had a little depth to him and a cast who clearly enjoyed playing alternate versions of their usual characters. I liked how the same relationships and conflicts appeared between the characters, even when they didn't quite know who they were. And Janeway as a Klingon was great.


    As I have always said, the reviews were not written in a vacuum and are a product of the time. While I am not conceding it per se in this case, "Trek burnout" could possibly have played into my tone, I suppose. As a critic, I was also holding things to a higher standard than "sit back and enjoy." Does that mean I would necessarily react the same way when I show these to my kids in 5 or 10 years? Who knows? The context becomes different.

    Again, not specific to this episode per se, which I haven't seen since it first aired.

    Space nazis... Meh

    I didn't like this 2 parter. I didn't think it was fun. I thought it was just stupid.

    But voyager has been on a bit of a roll with the last few episodes, so this poor outing can be forgiven...

    The one thing that bugs me the most on that 2-parter:
    So the Hirogen leader who looks through the ships database and finds the WW2 data. "Hey that would make an excellent story for a hunting game."
    But why the hell did they choose the losing side?
    Wouldn't it be far more logical if the Hirogen portrait the Allies?
    And I think the episode itself would have been more fun to watch since good and evil would be twisted. :)

    "So the Hirogen leader who looks through the ships database and finds the WW2 data. 'Hey that would make an excellent story for a hunting game.'

    But why the hell did they choose the losing side? "

    Probably arrogance. "Hey, we can do it better!"

    You're a Hirogen who has put together a holodeck program for whatever reason. Do you a) go around doing actiony stuff to achieve said goal, or b) Spend your time on patrol and stop Neelix to search his baguette and wine?

    Also, the writers keep killing Janeway, because they think it's introducing some dramatic tension or something. Am I the only one who wishes they'd let her RIP.

    When I was young, I took both myself and Star Trek way too seriously, but I still enjoyed this kind of Star Trek episode alongside the weightier shows. Now that I'm older and can better appreciate the inherent glorious silliness of Trek, I tend to find some of the Self-Important Classics dull and some of the lighter episodes more diverting. Voyager's "Killing Game" is a good example of an episode the grows on me with the passing years, as it knows its own goofiness and revels in it, and I would give it at least 3 stars. I like this kind of self-aware humility in a TV franchise and fear it's too often lacking on latter-day Trek shows.

    Like many commenters on this episode, I find myself disagreeing with Jammer's reviews on one fundamental point: He likes Big Ideas Episodes which often strike me as pretentious, while I like entertaining episodes which he finds shallow. (To be fair, he wrote many of these reviews when he was in his 20s.) In my view, Star Trek is at its best when it balances a sense of fun with a sense of thought-provoking ideas, and at its worst when it veers too sharply into either self-important ideology or cliche-ridden humor.

    That's why TOS will always be the first, best, and most "original" Star Trek series for me. While TOS has its share of dogs, most of the episodes go for broke and try something really creative, blending adventurous fun with thought-provoking ideas. There's a reason JJ Abrams went back to TOS and not to another series for his Trek reboot: It's fun, it's retro, and it's hip in a tongue-in-cheek way. While the reboot movies have arguably veered too far into generic blockbuster mindlessness, they often channel the pulpy joy that made TOS a classic.

    Voyager episodes like "The Killing Game," "Bride of Chaotic," and "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy" remind us of a time when Star Trek took itself less seriously -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing from the post-TOS era when Trek episodes (DS9 most notably excepted) too often fell into a bland pattern of stage-bound, daytime soap-style rehashes of pre-canned ideologies wrapped in technobabble peril. When push comes to shove, I'd rather rewatch something like Voyager's "The Killing Game" rather than TNG's "The Chase" any day.

    I just rewatched this episode on Netflix.

    If nothing else, the implications of this episode for the Star Trek universe are astounding. Holographic technology, combined with neural transmitters, can be used to completely rewrite a person's entire personality and skillset, giving them access to new languages (as seen with Neelix's mastery of Klingon), combat abilities (familiarity with archaic firearms) and a lifetimes's worth of knowledge. It can even be used to project entire body parts (the cranial ridges seen on Neelix and Janeway) on to a person. If combined with the doctor's mobile emitter, this would give any Starfleet officer godlike abilites.

    Just sayin'

    Also, the Hirogen's heads look like alot like rotisserie chicken.

    Anything I can say here has already been said. I mean, I'm tired of repeating myself - especially when it comes to Voyager. It's a ridiculous episode that is too unrealistic to be believed in the slightest, but there's no point even mentioning that, because Voyager is simply always going to disappoint on that front. So, what else is there? Well, it's entertaining and different, I'll give it that. The writers gave up a long time ago, so there's really no point in me banging my head against a bulkhead. They just cashed a cheque and laughed all the way home.

    What could have turned this episode into an even greater one would've been having the commanding Hirogen survive. That would've had consequences that could have been very interesting to watch. We could have seen him calling his people together and proposing his plans. We could have seen the struggles of acceptance and/or civil war. We could have seen Voyager stick around and share the Federation gospel (which I despise, but this is their show so it would be appropriate) as well as help in the transition. Maybe even imply that the Hirogen could become a smarter and slightly benevolent version of Klingons for the Delta Quadrant. You know. Consequences. The stuff that make stories really stick. I understand that killing the leader upped the drama, but it was the easy way out. (Lazy) And his survival would've made the cease-fire at the end make sense instead of the usual "Pulling-the-Captain's-log-out-of-our-asses-because-we-wrote-ourselves-into-a-corner".

    Anyway, the episode was fun and enjoyable, but I definitely agree that it was full of cliches. Neelix was less annoying than usual, but annoyance with him is such a common element, there's almost no need to comment on it.

    I feel like Klingons fighting Nazis would not be boring.

    And yet...

    The whole thing just feels a little too pointless. The concept they were going with just wasn't strong enough for a two parter and it has too much filler. If they'd condensed this to one episode I could see it being a solid 2.5 stars, but as a two-parter I give them 1.5 stars each.

    I didn't think part 2 of this story line could be any worse than part 1. I was soooooo WRONG...

    Very minor nitpick: the Citroen 2cv that drives past in the background at a few points is waaay too recent for WWII by about 20 years or so. Nice episode btw.

    This episode is stunningly bad. Voyager as a whole has not aged well at all.

    Drafting off Elliott's comment above, I like that in part 1 at least, the episode seems to further some character arcs by playing them out within the Hirogen simulation, most obviously the Janeway/Seven (Katrine/LeNeuf) conflict, which comes to a head near the end of part one and which Tuvok makes clear is something which has existed in-story within the Resistance simulation, too. Others have noted that it's neat to have the layers of the crew playing resistance fighters when they are mounting a resistance against the more powerful Hirogen; we also get the way Tom and B'Elanna's separation gets played out as a much longer separation within the story. This stuff is fairly interesting. There are also, as in The Killing Game, some parallels between Janeway and the bad guy; the conversation between the Hirogen commandant and his lieutenant in which his lieutenant indicates that learning about the Voyager crew is a waste of time and they should stick to their primary objective, and where the commandant emphasizes the importance of taking risks to learn about other cultures, mirrors the Janeway/Seven conversations in a few episodes this season, particularly the one in I think Waking Moments. I think that Seven being the one who can see through the simulation is not just a rehash of Scientific Method but on some level a kind of development of it; there's something going on in some episodes like this where the Outsiders Commenting on Humanity are usually the least susceptible to particular forms of mind control (see also: various episodes of TNG with Data, things like Dramatis Personae with Odo), and Seven straddles the person/machine boundary and so can be both in and out of the world, and it's hard at times for Janeway to know if Seven's outsider perspective is valuable or simply wrong and an affront to her. The Commandant's idea of trying to move the Hirogen to a new paradigm where the hunt becomes a cultural tradition that helps to define them but is no longer leading them to hunt other species to extinction and to destroy their own habitat is also an interesting idea, and the way in which he tries to use myth -- using history or recreations of it to help them understand the reasons for their violent impulses, while finding a way to control them through the use of fiction and role-playing -- is interesting of itself and ties in with the broader use of Trek as mythos to examine and recast violent (or other "baser") impulses in a positive way. On that level, I love the mention of BOBW, one of the most famous Trek episodes, as one of the possible simulations.

    So that's all interesting. It's also almost entirely in part one. Part two really just throws everything at the wall, and after the whole crew regain their memories, it even loses whatever is interesting about how the characters are recast in a historical setting. It's just a bad guy fight, but not only that, it's even a bad guy fight where the *ACTUAL* fight ends up happening off-screen after a whole hour of chaos (hence the "oh yeah, and then we spent three days fighting and it was a draw!" ending, which is unsatisfying. There are still some good moments in part II, mostly involving the commandant character who is at least somewhat interesting, and I liked Janeway's method of turning the tables on the lieutenant, but most of what was somewhat interesting about the first part just disappears in the drawn-out stuff in part two.

    I'd agree mostly with Jammer's ratings on this, but would go a bit lower for part 2 -- 2.5 for p1, 1.5 for p2.

    This one was so so

    Like In the Flesh, I thought the plot would have worked better with DS9 with the Dominion War. The parallels were stronger. I also really didn’t buy the Hirogen reasoning for using the holodecks. They have the upper hand by knowing the prey are the crew. The crew are oblivious. And the Hirogen already knows how the program plays out. Not much fun in that I would think. I did really like the parallel explicitly drawn between the Borg and the Nazis. I also thought it was cute idea having Torres’ character be pregnant with a holographic baby so Dawson could not have to hide her pregnancy. I actually though liked Bryan Fuller’s idea that he suggested but was rejected of having B’Elanna be pregnant as part of a Vidiian plot to give birth to a baby who could cure the Phage—ultimately the basic idea in part was later incorporated in “Prophecy”

    It all just felt a little too mechanical. 2 stars

    What happened to the 7+ foot tall Hirogens from 'Hunters'? All the Hirogen in this episode are normal height. Did that ship just happen to have basketball playing Hirogen on it? That was what made them so intimidating. Seven even says so in that episode.

    Where are the female Hirogen? How do they reproduce if they hardly ever see each other and fly around separately hunting stuff all the time? Just wondering.

    The Hirogen are hunters and want to use the holodeck to hunt prey. So why would they possibly use a WWII program where the crew are sitting in a bar plotting all the time? And the Hirogen wander around talking to holo-nazis and harrassing people? wtf? They would have used Normandy or some other battle. Not some stupid French town where they don't even fight anyone ever. What was the point? Makes no sense. And they know who and where their prey is all the time, so what fun is that?

    When Kim and the Doc devise this plan to nullify the neural interfaces and then execute it, why does only Janeway's stop working?

    EMH: ...That will enable Ensign Kim and me to deactivate all the neural interfaces. After Captain Janeway and the crew regain awareness, you can work with them to mount a resistance against the Hirogen.

    So...why only Janeway? Why didn't they all stop working? No explanation. It worked later for everyone though for some unknown reason.

    And does every holodeck program have a holodeck control panel hidden behind some books or some weeds on a rock? Since when? And why?

    Who wrote this program? Did the Hirogen write it? And if they did, how? They know nothing about holodecks. If it was an existing program, why would it include characters to be played by all the crew and the Hirogen and include a Nazi that can persuade the Hirogen guy to betray his commander and all that. I still don't understand how the holodeck programs are supposedly created and supposedly work. In any of the holodeck shows on any series, but whatever. I can forgive that I guess.

    How did the Hirogen come up with this neural control interface thingy? They know nothing about holodecks. How did they invent and manufacture and implant all of these devices in an hour or a day or whatever it was? Pffft.

    So if the holodeck safeties are off, that means that the holodeck can damage the ship itself? Not just the people in it? That's f**king retarded. If they programmed the holodeck to set off a nuclear bomb, does that mean that Voyager would just go POOF! and be vaporized? Who would design them that way? That's the most idiotic thing I've ever heard. Setting off holographic bombs all over the place. Ridiculous. I know they have shot panels and things in the holodeck in other Star Trek episodes, but to let the holodeck blast a huge gaping hole through 3 decks of the ship? wut?

    Janeway tricks the Hirogen into going into the area where there are no holo-emitters so his gun dematerializes. Fine. But then she picks it up off of the ground and shoots him with it. Wut?

    And why are all the Hirogen running around with holographic rifles anyway instead of their normal guns after everything has gone to hell? Wouldn't they get their cool futuristic guns and start blasting the crap out of everyone?

    Why increase the size of the holodecks in the first place? The holodgraphic world is as big as you want it to be already. Making it bigger in the real world doesn't make the holographic world bigger. That makes no sense.

    Seven makes a WWII/Borg grenade that cancels out anything holographic. Whatever. That's dumb already, but when it goes off, all it does is get rid of the good holo-people and their weapons. Not the buildings, or the street, or the barricades, or any of the bad guys standing just a few feet away.

    I could go on and on and on, but that's enough.

    The only good part is the Hirogen commander wanting to use the holodeck for his own people. But that was barely mentioned. That should have been the main focus of this, not this idiotic Nazi nonsense.

    Terrible episodes.

    1/2 star for part one.

    Zero stars for part two.

    I thought this was wildly goofy, and part two seriously lost focus, but it was all around extremely fun and seeing Paris and Chakotay in the army tent was hilarious and awesome. Generally a creative premise and in my eyes and entertaining two parter. Good Trekian fun.

    @Yanks "the Hirogen have been ruined (and they shrunk)

    @Skush "What happened to the 7+ foot tall Hirogens from 'Hunters'? All the Hirogen in this episode are normal height. Did that ship just happen to have basketball playing Hirogen on it? That was what made them so intimidating. Seven even says so in that episode."

    ALL. OF. THIS.

    I'm only going through Voyager for the first time, so I was really starting to enjoy all of the "above average" to "pretty damn good" episodes that were happening in the 4th season. Then we get this stinker.

    When I read Jammer's teaser for this episode ("After having taken over Voyager, the Hirogen supply the crew members with artificial identities and subject them to violent holodeck simulations"), I was really excited for this one, because I was really enjoying the Hirogen at this point. I thought the 7-foot tall super-violent Hirogens from "Hunters" were hilariously campy with their over-the-top voices -- as if they were giant professional wrestlers or something. (They basically were. They threw Tuvok around like a rag doll.) And then we got the great Tony Todd's performance of a more nuanced and scary Hirogen in "Prey" -- a brilliant episode. And finally, I basically just crack up at the fact that they have to say "PREY" no less than five times per minute. It almost becomes musical after a while.

    So I was seriously looking forward to this episode when I read that the Hirogen were gonna be torturing the crew with ultra-violent holodeck programs. I figured it was a can't-miss episode.

    How wrong I was.

    Instead we get 2 hours of heavy-handed "Nazis are bad" (as if we didn't know) and the main cast getting to play dress-up in "France" and act out of character. I'm sure it was a fun shooting experience for the actors; but not so much a fun watching experience for this viewer. I mean, I'll probably hate it less when I re-watch VOYAGER in 10 years, but right now on first viewing, this one stunk up the joint for me.

    And I still can't believe they ruined the Hirogens like that, ugh....

    Parts I, II - 1 star

    @Bote For Lalo

    'I mean, I'll probably hate it less when I re-watch VOYAGER in 10 years'

    I thought the same thing, my second time through, about the whole series. But I was wrong. If anything, it gets worse as you see the ridiculous things they get away with that you didn't see the first time. You probably think, as I did, that the next time, you will forgive them some of the mistakes they made, but instead you see all the mistakes that you missed the first time. Because the first time around all you see are the glaring, in your face errors. The second time, you see more of the subtle stupidity.

    Holograms are so powerful. Why don't they just put holo emitters all over the ship, program holographic crew, and then they don't have to spend all day working at boring jobs?

    An obviously silly question considering the larger problems with this two-parter...but how did the (presumably drunk) Klingons know who the heck to kill and who to NOT kill when they arrived in St. Clair? I would think they'd just go after everyone, including the Americans, Chakotay, Paris, etc.

    I thought the Hirogen were much, much more interesting than in the past episodes, both in their role as hunters (actually taking it seriously and feeling fresh) and otherwise. Part I felt a little stretched-out though and Part II far too random and badly-paced.

    Yawn...halfway through this one I was already looking forward to the joy of seeing my favorite end credit names: Al Smutko and Lolita Fatjo.

    Was this two-parter a hot mess? Sure it was, but who cares! Nazis, the gang as underground French resistance fighters, wild and crazy Holodeck fun! It was entertaining, I enjoyed it.

    There are so many questions raised by these episodes, but here's one... How does a holographic explosion destroy the walls of the Holodeck? Okay, so the safeties are off, but if that's the reason, then every time you disabled the Holodeck safeties you'd destroy the ship and seeing as you can't see the "real world" you'd have no idea what it was you were actually hitting.

    I can't believe there's a Part 2. I'll make myself get through it.

    Just not much substance here. And my dislike for the Hirogen is even worse. Please let Part 2 be the last we see of them.

    Part 2 incredibly boring. There is just no redeeming value to this storyline.

    Well, Seven looked pretty. Roxanne didn't have to hide her pregnancy with the cleverest method for dealing with an actress pregnancy I've ever seen.

    Bye, bye, Hirogen. Please let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

    Here's a great example of VOY style over substance and overall it's a mediocre effort with big ambitions and production amounting to very little. It's a meaningless holodeck romp that really becomes a slog to get through by the 2nd part. It reminded me very much of "Basics" with a decent 1st part and a more mechanical 2nd part (re-taking control of the ship).

    I guess the Hirogen have come a long way from cardboard villains in "Hunters" -- the only worthy part of "The Killing Game" is the Hirogen leader fearing that his people are hunting themselves into extinction and that they must change. That much is good but there's quite a bit of stupidity in the end when the Klingons join the battle and then the warmongering No. 2 Hirogen somehow accepts the ceasefire and Janeway basically forces him to take the holodeck technology. The No. 2 Hirogen didn't ascribe to his former boss's unconventional philosophies and yet conveniently accepted the ceasefire without the condition of getting the holodeck tech, yet Janeway forces him to take it -- another dumb Janeway decision (poor writing).

    The other part that didn't make sense to me is why all VOY crewmembers in the holodeck didn't get the neural interfaces shut off when it first happened for Janeway as she's about to shoot 7. They do later on obviously but I think this was just made up arbitrarily (of course) for story purposes who gets back to normal and when.

    There's plenty of excess here that's not really worth commenting on. Plenty of wholly implausible shit but the novelty aspect of the 1st part was interesting for about 20 mins. or so (seeing the regular cast members role playing and seeing some depth added to the Hirogen). Ultimately as a verdict on the Hirogen, they do come across as somewhat similar to the Kazon (nomadic, belligerent) and largely forgettable.

    2.5 stars for "The Killing Game" and 2 stars for "The Killing Game, Part II" -- definitely the weakest of VOY's 2-part episodes. Basically comes down to the Hirogen being led by someone who wants to lead his people in a new direction so he goes nuts with the holodeck. It's another example of the crew having to re-take their ship with plenty of over-the-top nonsense thrown in. The 2nd part went on too long with gunfights and just mechanical stuff but Part I wasn't bad -- the whole thing should have been done in 1 hour. Something about Trek liking to revisit WWII ("Patterns of Force" and "Storm Front" come to mind).

    This episode is incredible! In fact, it’s the reason I started watching Star Trek at all. It was randomly on one night and I got hooked. Before that I looked down on sci-fi. Great action, characterization and an awesome WW2 setting. And sevens gorgeous singing voice. Hands down 10 out of 10!

    You guys should light up every now and then... this two-parter was just fun. Granted it made no sense in a lot of places, but come on... Klingons fighting nazis! Seven Of Nine and her holy holographic hand grenade! How often do you get stuff like that?

    "This episode was crap. This show was crap. Everything about this show just reeked of bullshit and other assorted piles of shit." - Dan

    HA! I couldn't agree more Dan. I especially liked the description "other assorted piles . . ."

    Aliens take over Janeway's ship . . . again.

    Nazi's . . . again.

    Dumb holodeck show . . . again.

    Reviewers making the excuse "this was a 'fun' episode" . . . again.

    The only interesting thing are the Hirogen because they are unique in the Trek universe. It's fascinating to think that over time a civilization gives up many aspects of its culture to focus on only one aspect of culture in such a intense way. They even gave up their homeworld apparently; crazy, bizarre. It's very interesting. The most compelling scene by far was the Hirogen commander understanding that his civilization is not evolving, therefore it is in danger of disintegrating into oblivion. I was shocked at this scene because it was profound and true, and I normally never use those two words when referring to Voyager.

    Rating: 3/4 of a star

    I was pulling for the Hirogen when Neelix was almost killed. So close!!
    The writers were toying with us, aaarrrrggghhh!!!

    "To: I Hate Janeway

    Love your screen name! We have something in common."

    My head canon is that Admiral Janeway didn't die after the Borg pod thing blew up in Endgame; she was flung back in time and ended up an inmate chef in a 21st century prison. The nano probes also gave her a Russian accent.

    Not any less plausible than most of Voyager's plotlines.

    What's with all the rude "YOU PEOPLE" message from overy-defensive Voyager fanatics who can't accept that some people didn't like this episode? Why is this, an episode about Nazi aliens, the episode that YOU PEOPLE are so defensive about?

    @Trek fan: Thank you, you nailed it.

    It's funny how some call this 'too unrealistic' when an episode where Kes aged backwards in random short leaps in an alternative time line gets high praise.

    3 Stars.

    Oh, and when Tom asked Harry "If Betty Grable came around that corner, what part of her would you be staring at?"

    It would have been absolutely brilliant if he would've answered "I'm gay."

    These episodes were hilariously ridiculous - and ridiculously hilarious. Every over-the-top inane meme you could imagine, from reptilian aliens in Nazi uniforms to a surrealistically pan-historical holodeck free-for-all to drunk Klingons led by a Talaxian with pointy teeth.

    Psychedelic Star Trek Soup.

    WITH non-comic bonuses like recent character developments continued in period drag, meditations on how cultures atrophy and devolve, one incisive speech about the arrogant pretense of superiority (by the Hirogen to Pretty Boy Nazi), and the purest distillation I can recall hearing of the corrosive poison in ideologies of racial or cultural exceptionalism and social Darwinism (in the speech Pretty Boy used to reinforce what Hiro 2 already believed and inspire him to continue the holy mission).

    Make Hirogen great again!

    All of that - AND Seven singing torch songs. And wearing bobby sox!

    What more could we ask of free entertainment, I ask you?

    Oh yeah. I forgot the delicious irony of the fragile prey - not EVEN the prey, but a HOLOGRAM of the fragile prey - spouting back to the fierce master hunter his own inane ideology.

    Hiro 2 listened so carefully and thoughtfully that for a moment I thought he would hear how inane the cant sounded, have an epiphany that his #1 had been right to see the need to revamp their culture, and shoot Pretty Boy to prevent more killing.

    But no. I guess supremacists will be supremacists. If only they could have transported that nutty Dukat over from Alpha, maybe the supremacists would have won.

    In echoing the sentiment of all those above who tire of all the repeated 20th Century Earth scenarios, here’s one that I thought could have actually been interesting and apt for the Hirogens to select as a holodeck war program:

    The Eugenics War.

    We’ve never seen it; only heard about it and it’s consequences. Surely the Hirogen would have found those Augment supermen much more compelling prey. Imagine them battling a EW iteration of the young (pre-Botany Bay) Khan Noonien Singh!

    Ah, one of these days...

    The Hirogen dont have holo tech but they have the means to create little neural thingies that make you think you are a holo character.


    This is NOT a "holodeck malfunctions" episode. It's an "aliens abuse Voyager's unfamiliar technology" story, and I thought this was actually one of the more creative uses of the holodeck, with the Hirogen driving it well beyond what it was designed to do. The Kazon could not get a single replicator to work properly, but the Hirogen are smarter, taking the ship and making the crew do the work for them. The story fits right in with one of Voyagers ongoing themes, that of how this single ship can massively affect the region of space they're traveling through. The HIrogen leader is both extremely cruel, and yet more visionary than the others we've seen so far, seeing the potential of the holodeck to bring his wandering and increasingly scattered race back together. As an aside, I like the way he's decorated Janeway's ready room with his trophies, showing just who is now in charge on the ship and what it's purpose is.

    This is an increasingly anarchic episode as the story progresses, I agree about that. The Hirogen don't quite understand what they've unleashed by turning the holodeck safeties off and running a war simulation. Unlike Jammer, I enjoy the chaos of part two as the whole situation escalates and falls apart. It works on the level that the Hirogen don't truly understand what they have with Voyager's tech, and it comes back to bite them. In the end, a negotiated settlement and Voyager's crew getting away with their lives and ship is probably the best they could have done. It's a wonder the whole crew aren't traumatized and suffering from PTSD after what the Hirogen put them through. Being forced to take near-fatal injuries over and over again only for the Doctor to heal the victims and send them back in to fight again is as sadistic as it gets.

    I'd give both episodes three stars. This is a very "Voyager" episode that probably would not have worked well if at all on TNG or DS9. The spectacle is fun and helps to soften the harshness of the ideas behind the simulations. The cast all get plenty to do and allow us to see all aspects of life on the ship under HIrogen occupation.

    I turned this off after about ten minutes... and later watched the last 10 minutes of it so I could catch up to the second part. Nazis again?? I found the writing really trite. And I find it offensive that everyone always points to the Nazis as THE great evil, ignoring many other evil groups in history. Nazis are so overused as to have lost distinction in historical perspective. I really didn't want to sit through a depressing half hour showing how horrible the Nazis were, I'm well-read and I honestly don't need that from Star Trek.

    I hate the Hirogen. Very one note. Probably a lot like Washington politicians. They just seem too mentally ill to ever get interesting. I did love how inventive this episode was. A lot of creativity! And Neelix as a Klingon is something that should have been a whole episode - priceless! My season 4 favorite after a dreadful start. As someone else pointed out, this was a FUN episode.
    But, once again, the script needed a good rewrite.

    This is just a sad ep. they LITERALLY play the J card, and a couple other cards, but there is no meat. It’s all their away.

    I would put this worse than threshold.

    THROW away, pardon.

    But, blah, It’s the worst of Voyager’s loop-d-loop style.

    On a rewatch, two decades later, this ain't half as bad as I remember it.

    The whole thing is certainly beyond ridiculous for too many reasons to count. But it's a neat little story with an interesting underlying idea and with enough dynamism and sci-fi action to not make me hit that fast-forward button. That's a success in its own right!

    Of course, the entire holodeck thing is absurd. By the 24th century it's fully expected that technology will enable us to manipulate the human neural interface in such ways as to provide a fully realistic artificial-reality experience or, put simply, stimulate the brain to experience a make-believe world like on a holodeck. Unlike using the holodeck, simply stimulating the brain to see, hear, touch, smell, etc. pre-programmed environments would be far more cost-effective and less resource-intensive. But, then, it wouldn't allow for all these silly contrived stories that lazy Star Trek writers have been coming up with throughout the franchise...

    I couldn’t watch much of this. WW2 is still too recent, and casts too long a shadow. To make out of a catastrophe of that extent, in which tens of millions died, the setting for a ST story - set on a holodeck of all things - has the effect of trivialising the War. And that leaves a bad taste. Nazism was an all too real tyranny, with real victims - that I think is why the spectacle of the Hirogen cavorting around in German uniforms is troublesome, even offensive; the mixture of science fiction and reality does not work. The Nazi episode in TOS is holodeck-free, but no less embarrassing to watch..

    The two episodes made the same mistake as many other holodeck episodes: they destroyed suspension of disbelief. They did this, by adding a layer of fictionality onto the fiction that is the Trekverse; not by adding more science fiction to a universe that was already scientifictional, but by adding a lot of what might be called “costume drama” to the scientifictional Trekverse. Using WW2 as the costume drama, when it was so obvious that those in the costumes were familiar starship personnel or their familiar opponents, was asking for too much suspension of disbelief. ST is not meant to be about dressing up as Nazis, Romans, gangsters or Anglo-Saxons: it is not a costume party. It is supposed to be science fiction.

    Episodes with holodeck stories all too easily give the impression that the writers wanted a rest from science fiction, and therefore, since they were writing for a scientifictional series, tried to dress up the episode as something else. Barclay on the holodeck in TNG works, because his holodeck fantasies, however preposterous, are about people he knows from life on the Enterprise D - his holodeck life is organically related to his life as a member of the crew. And his fantasies reveal his personality. These holodeck episodes were not like that. There is no reason for Seven to be a chanteuse in WW2 Paris, or for the Hirogen to be Nazis. To present these characters in those roles, fits very poorly with what has already been told about them.

    My kids (aged 8 & 12) really enjoyed these episodes. They just found them fun and exciting.

    How does a nomadic species with no planet of their own, wandering around thinly spread out in spaceships, manage to even build these spaceships? How did they ever learn to build them in the first place when they don't seem interested in anything but being primitive savages. Apparently they have this strong instinct to hunt, so who did they hunt before they left their original planet? Each other? This doesn't seem like a species that would have ever survived, let alone build ships with warp technology. How do they even have doctors or scientists, who teaches their kids? Wait do they even have kids? We've never seen any on their ships nor any females yet they don't have a home planet...ugh. They're one the silliest one-dimensional villains this show has ever produced.

    ^ I can't remember which episode it is but doesn't one of their leaders mention that his society's obsession with hunting is destroying it? Basically, I think they were a technologically advanced and more "civilized" species that has regressed due to focusing almost solely on one aspect of their culture.

    Compare it to the the ENT episode "Judgment" where we learn that their are various Klingon castes, but that the warrior caste has come to dominate their entire society. What will the Klingon empire look like in 1,000 years if it stays on that course? Maybe a little like the Hirogen.

    Jammer's review is spot on. There are just too many nonsensical moments in this two-parter. It's mindless fun that's ultimately a lot more mindless than fun.

    I like the character of the Hirogen commander. He adds some depth to a race of Predator clones. He should have been at the very heart of the episode. The premise of the episode should have been that he is using the holodeck hunt as a tool to teach his men that their current way of life is a dead end. As Jammer says, killing the commander before the battle ended made the truce completely unbelievable.

    Negatives: too many dumb things to bother listing.

    Positives (or at least interesting bits): Chakotay makes a pretty cool GI Joe, Wang's acting is better this week, the Hirogen commander is interesting, the "Meaningful Speech Scene" is successfully delivered by a Nazi, Jeri Ryan's singing is always a plus.

    P.S. I really like Malia's idea of using the Eugenics War as the setting instead of (yet another) WW2 story.

    The idea of setting this holographic hunt during the Eugenics Wars is a great idea. I don’t dislike these episodes, but I’m not a huge fan of them either. That’s mostly because I see them as such HUGE missed opportunities.

    The writers wanted the Hirogen to set their fake hunt during a great historical war. Okay, that makes sense. They could have actually gotten creative, done some world-building and set the hunt during a period of Star Trek history we know little about. How about World War III? The Earth-Romulan War? The Vulcan Nuclear War (when Vulcans first decided to embrace Logic)? The Vulcan Civil War (when the Romulans split off from the Vulcans)? Or, yes, the Eugenics Wars? All major conflicts we know very little about. But no. They just HAD to go with the standard World War II scenario, because - by God - it was the 90s and that meant anything historical had to revolve around World War II! Using any other real life conflict would have been more creative. Good grief, World War I would have been more interesting.

    The episode itself even brings up an incredible idea and then never follows up on it. The Hirogen leader mentions the possibility of using the Battle of Wolf 359 as another fake hunt. Talk about what could have been a phenomenal episode for VOY! They could have gotten both Patrick Stewart and Avery Brooks to do crossover guest appearances. I would much rather have seen that instead of another tired World War II “adventure”.

    "They could have gotten both Patrick Stewart and Avery Brooks to do crossover guest appearances. I would much rather have seen that instead of another tired World War II “adventure”."

    fantastic idea.

    A * star for Hirogen leader speech about need for change, and creative way they found to include Roxxan's pregnancy in a plot. Otherwise I Iiked few scenes and ideas but execution didn't work for me...

    I'm counting myself in with those who liked the episode and feel that it has gotten a bad rap.

    "The Killing Game" plays with the subject of identity quite a bit, and I enjoyed that aspect. The main characters, aside from Harry and The Doctor, lose their identities and are conveniently manipulated as warrior pawns for 19 days, and are well on their way to becoming little more than holographic tackling dummies on an indefinite basis to satisfy the Hirogen need for sport. There can be little doubt that the writers meant to recall TOS episode "Day of the Dove."

    Like DOTD, The Killing Game is about the retrieval of original identity before all is lost. The key to the underlying argument of the episode is unequivocally expressed, ironically, in relation to the Hirogen, (not Voyager's crew) toward the end of part 2 in an oddly powerful, if disturbing speech by B'elanna's erstwhile German officer beau. This character, who seemed to be a cardboard figure in part 1, delivers a tour-de-force of Nazi rhetoric culminating in the sentence: "We must be faithful to who we are." Hirogen #2 is mesmerized by this faulty logic and persuaded to murder Hirogen #1, literally moments before the inception of a new era for the Hirogen people.

    Shades here of Melekon and John Gill. 3 stars

    This is such an odd two-parter. On paper it sounds like a fun and inventive premise, and a license to indulge in wonderfully wild asides.

    But the two-parter doesn't actually do anything with its premise. We don't really see much of the WW2 hologram expanding across Voyager. We don't get any interesting "reality bleeds" between the holodeck and real ship. And we don't actually see many Allies vs Nazis skirmishes.

    And though primarily an "action episode", most of the episode is a bore (what little action there is, is badly shot IMO).

    If I recall correctly, the "Workforce" two-parter in a later season revisits many themes seen here, and executes it much better.

    @Andersonh1 (2016)

    "Janeway as a Klingon was great."

    I probably don’t understand at all how a holodeck works, but I can accept that it does for the sake of enjoying the story. What I really don’t get is how real people can be made to look different in the holodeck, like Janeway and Neelix as Klingons. I also didn’t get how the holodeck could change Riker's uniform from the TNG one to the ENT one in the last episode of "Enterprise." And why bother? Just program the holo-characters to see Riker wearing an ENT uniform even though he's wearing a TNG uniform. Maybe what was going on in "The Killing Game" was that the other characters only *saw* Janeway and Neelix as Klingons. But why would the Doctor see them as Klingons? He's a hologram, of course, but he's not a holo-character in that simulation.

    @navamske Redlettermedia brought this up in their review of First Contact. When Picard and Lily go into the holodeck, they're in full period costume, but surely they didn't have time to change into replicated clothing like we see everyone else do before they go in. I don't have a problem with the holodeck projecting different clothing onto people, but in that case Lily was wearing a full ball gown/evening dress showing bare shoulders and whatnot. How would the holodeck project her skin over the shirt/jacket she was wearing?

    In general it seems that explaining all objects in the holodeck as projections of light and forcefields was a mistake, since more often than not we see inanimate everyday objects leave the holodeck (drawings, water, snowballs, lipstick). So the general consensus is that most of the objects in the holodeck, aside from the surrounding environment and people/animals, are just replicated. That's why you can eat and drink in the holodeck and not get a bad case of gas when you walk out the door. There would need to be programmable parameters for what is real and what is totally holographic, otherwise the explosion of the Krieger wave generator in the holodeck (TNG's A Matter of Perspective) would've also blown away the table and chairs everyone was sitting on, unless those were brought into the holodeck from outside.

    As for Klingon Janeway and Neelix, that's an interesting question. I'd have to re-watch the episode, but considering everything else they've done, I wouldn't put it past the Hirogen to force the Doctor to surgically alter their appearance. Even if that's not the case (B'Elanna's baby bump is holographic for example) it seems within the capabilities of the holodeck to beam or replicate prosthetics onto someone, even prosthetics that have some animation to them. Like it didn't put a baby inside B'Elanna, but it glued a fat suit onto her that also kicks. That's my wag anyway.

    "How would the holodeck project her skin over the shirt/jacket she was wearing?"

    It seems trivial compared with the other stuff the holodeck does.

    I've been watching through these this January and these episodes are so... Odd.

    They hint at a few good ideas - Janeway pushing through her control, the Hirogen wanting to have a bloodless hunt and the big hole in the side of the holodeck looked pretty cool.

    Hell, if they had leaned in to the goof a bit more and had a proper Klingon / Nazi showdown (those Nazis being dishonourable curs) , or Paris being a Nazi commandant trying to hunt down people outside the holodeck it would have been a lot better.

    It always strikes me that Voyager isn't worried about crew depletion.

    I actually enjoyed these episodes, I thought they were fun and intriguing. I love when people in comment sections like this complain about things like “holodecks can do whatever we want when it fits the story”. Yeah, they can because holodecks aren’t real. I liked the idea at the end, giving the Hirogen the holodeck technology. Could we one day help people with violent impulses avoid taking them out on real loving people by letting them take out those urges in some kind of virtual reality?

    I think this episode epitomizes (or even led) spectacular technical prowess that's amazingly lacking in story.

    I watched the latest Spider-Man, one of my favorite characters, and it felt just like this. No Way Home-- soulless world with formidable fx that are no more interesting than the endless screensavers the bridge crew of the Enterprise watched in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

    I just rewatched both parts and the main problem is it's just much too long. I'm sure everybody had a hoot making it, but it just goes on and on and on.

    There was a surprising bit late in the second part where one of the simulated Nazi's makes a rousing speech to the Hirogen officer and convinces him to take out his leader!

    It made we wonder if this Hirogen forgot he was in a simulation, never understood it, or was indeed swayed by the speech just because he found it so rousing.

    It surprised me in that the speech actually mentioned Jews and Christians, which Trek of that era never did, near as I can recall.

    But the second reason it surprised me is I had long since stopped paying attention because I thought the episode was long over and I had been playing on my phone forever.

    Are we to believe that the hirogen took over voyager, held it for three plus weeks, and only one crew member was killed in the process? How uncharacteristically civil of these merciless hunters.

    I think one of the biggest arguments in favor of continuity on voyager is the fact that the ship’s compliment was supposed to have been decimated right out of the gate leaving the ship critically undermanned. This setup gave the show a powerful dramatic potential for every remaining member of voyagers crew to be vital. Meaning the loss of even just one crewman could have had major emotional weight and logistical challenges. But instead, the incessant reset button-ing left redshirt deaths forgettable, even casual in their week to week impact. It’s a real shame, even the best voyager episodes are dramatically undercut by the creative choice to NOT lean into the shows potential.

    I was really surprised to find that many consider this 2-parter to be a piece of targ baktag. I understand some of the points brought up but I think it's just a fun episode. I always enjoy seeing the crew in odd situations away from the Bridge and out of their uniforms.

    I've only rewatched Part I so far, but I was sort of "mildly" in the camp of other commenters here who enjoyed the episode and were able to appreciate what the showrunners were going for *more* as a mature adult, a couple of decades later. I liked the parallels between the crews' real roles and personalities, and their roles as fictional characters within the simulation. Even in the French Resistance, Janeway is the leader, Tuvok is the tactician, Torres is the field engineer, Seven is a tech-savvy maverick whom they don't fully trust, but can't do without, and Neelix...delivers food (yes I know, and coded messages). I liked how that allowed existing character interactions and conflicts to continue to play out (I'm glad William B and Elliot both made this observation as makes me feel smarter for having noticed it, lol). In the end they made these parallels too explicit and took them too far: are we supposed to believe that the Hirogen programmed into the neural interface a past (pre-war, 1936) romance between Bobby and Brigitte, simply because of the real-life one between Tom and B'Elanna? A) How would the Hirogen even know about it, and B) why would they care?

    I'll just come out and say it: I also really liked Harry Kim in Part I. He's thinking on his feet, he's using his whiz-boy skills to do something useful toward retaking the ship, and he's not taking shit from anyone. He shows no fear in talking back to hunters who could kill or mutilate him easily, and he frequently outwits them. Sure, him talking down a low-level flunky with the "you'd better be the one the explain this to your superiors then" ploy is fairly cliche for TV, but the bar is so low for Kim, that even this level of savvy was pleasantly surprising.

    All that said, I think Voyager continues to be better on execution than premise. Especially due to Mulgrew, Picardo, and Ryan, the acting is consistently strong, as are the show's production values. The originality, inherent plausibility, and depth of the writing? Not so strong. DS9 tended to be the opposite, exploring amazing themes with very tight writing/plotting, but sometimes not executed as well due to weak performances (mainly by some prominent members of the main cast: the recurring guest stars were awesome). On balance, DS9 is still the better show, because you have a reason to watch, with actual consequences and payoff for the events of this episode in later episodes.

    As someone who values worldbuilding and continuity, count me among those who were disappointed by the "shrinking" of the Hirogen, as well as the fundamental implausibility that they would have ever captured the crew and run these exercises with them. Even with a reformist leader, the extent to which they took their "study" of their prey, to the point of roleplaying and historical literature surveys...was just not that believable, and not grounded in anything we'd seen before. It seems like the producers were aware of the key flaw of the Hirogen (as pointed out by Jammer and many other commenters on previous Hirogen-arc threads): that they are simply too one-note, and it's difficult to believe that they could have ever become spacefaring in the first place. This episode represents the showrunners' attempts to rectify that. But one scene with the commandant making vague allusions to a grander culture and civilization that the Hirogen had apparently lost, just didn't cut it for me.

    Part I - 2/5

    Whatever this episode tried and is, i generally dislike the old cliche of Starfleet Crew experiencing some adventure in 1940 Earth.

    But Neelix as a drunk Klingon was so over the top it is just hilarious.
    And i don't know what's everyones problem is with Neelix.
    I find Chakotay/ especially Chakotay centered episodes to be way more of a drag. Whenever his first appearance in an Episode occurs i just think to myself "Chakotheeeey" in his typical mumbling-out-of-breath near lisp way of speaking.

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