Star Trek: Voyager

“Year of Hell, Part I”

3 stars.

Air date: 10/5/1997
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Allan Kroeker

"If I told you to count the stars in the cosmos, would the task ever be complete?" — Annorax

Review Text

Nutshell: A solid, entertaining hour ... but I'm extremely leery of the obvious "RESET" that's surely coming next week.

Part one of "Year of Hell" has some solid stuff. In a word, it's entertaining. But there are two fundamental problems that keep this from being a standout offering:

  1. There are a lot of elements about this show that remind me of the "Basics" plot setup. Big events build a situation of an impossibly large scale of consequences, but with enough loose ends that it's obvious we're being toyed with and that part two will reverse everything by conveniently utilizing those loose ends.
  2. The emotional impact is somewhat undercut by the fact that this is a story last season's "Before and After" already successfully tackled. The difference (and what could be the two-parter's undoing) is that this chain of events comes purported as existing in "real" Voyager experience, rather than as one person's artificial experience. And since the effects will be wiped clean next week, I'm not so sure where that leaves us.

So, what we have both despite and because of these facts is a refreshing "what if" premise. Anyone who thinks these events will have lasting consequences in the terms they're given is either truly gullible or fooling themselves. This show is what it is: an interesting mix of slick sci-fi and good characterizations (if not completely engrossing) resulting from the "what if" aspect.

The episode's format is fresh, beginning with the ominous "Day 1" appearing on the screen as the story begins. By the time the show ends we've covered nearly 2 1/2 months in some very hard times of the Voyager crew. On day one, the crew arrives on the border of space occupied by a race called the Krenim, a group first alluded to in last season's "Before and After." In that episode we were foreshadowed this "year of hell" by Kes, who was jumping through time and discovering facts in a "what if" premise of its own.

Now the "what if" is really happening—or so it seems. The Krenim don't initially appear very threatening. But after a mysterious change in the timeline (which we'll deal with in a moment), the Krenim ships promptly open fire. Their weapons have a "temporal" quality that allows them to pass through Voyager's shields, putting the Federation starship at a distinct disadvantage.

Question of the week: Didn't Kes tell Janeway and the crew about the future Krenim attackers in "Before and After"? I thought so, but apparently that's no longer the case. I thought the first time the word "Krenim" was uttered here the crew would be stricken with a mortal fear and would do everything possible to avoid a confrontation. Nope. But, then again, the changes in the timeline caused by the first "incursion" that wipes out the friendly Zaal alien race makes any number of alternate realities possible.

One complaint I have about the Krenim attackers is that they're a little too ... well, boring. In "Before and After" they were faceless, fearsome enemies with neat ships; here they're typical humanoids with neat ships. I didn't fear them the way I did in "Before and After." And the situation that pits the Krenim against Voyager is a little forced. The Krenim are the usual xenophobes who will hear nothing about a starship crossing their territory. They're aggressive and arrogant; and in the altered timeline they abuse their power and beat up on anyone incapable of defending themselves from the temporal weapons. That's okay, though. I can live with this premise even though it wasn't built upon the most interesting enemy civilization. What makes this episode work in the end are the effects the premise has on the crew and the slick subplot involving the Krenim time ship.

Yes, that's right—I said time ship. Commanded by an obsessed Krenim man named Annorax (Kurtwood Smith), the crew of this ship has separated itself from society and is protected from the effects of time. They have technology that can alter the timeline in any number of ways. Annorax's intent is to rebuild the Krenim empire by wiping its conquerors out of existence. Precise calculations are necessary for the time ship to alter history to the desired effect. Annorax has been trying to perfect his restoration of the Krenim empire for centuries ... and he has all eternity to get it right.

The time-alteration stuff isn't particularly new (though it benefits from some neat visuals), but what makes this work is Annorax's interesting, obsessed character and especially Kurtwood Smith's engaging portrayal of him. Smith has always been an actor that I've found extremely watchable (his appearance as President of the Federation in Star Trek VI was welcome), and here he's wielding a low-key obsession that is nearly always kept reserved. He's a patient, determined man; and although the episode doesn't say it in so many words, it's obvious he lost a family or someone else important to him at the hands of his enemies centuries ago—enemies he now wants to erase from the space-time continuum.

There's a really good scene where Annorax's first officer remarks that the Krenim empire in the altered timeline is thriving at 98 percent of what it "should" be. Annorax isn't satisfied (probably because the colony he's personally interested in restoring was part of the two percent that didn't return). He quietly announces that it's a failure, and orders his first officer to begin the calculations anew. When his first officer objects, Annorax remains calm and determined, and convinces his first officer to follow his orders again. Just how many times they've had this conversation is an interesting issue in itself. Annorax has an aura of conviction, a power of personality that motivates his crew to continue, even in a hopeless plight for perfection. It's affecting through Smith's performance, which is one of the best aspects of this episode.

This plot has relatively little to do with Voyager's dilemma (other than the timeline machinations and the ending of the episode). Most of the story focuses on Voyager extreme troubles over a 73-day period. The ship takes severe damage. The production crew does a great job of ripping the ship apart for this episode; it's quite convincing. The episode also benefits from believable special effects. The exterior view of an explosion of an entire deck made me wince, and the battered Voyager hull in the exterior shots supplied a striking visual difference.

Most important in this episode, however, is the effect this has on the crew. If there's one sense that "Year of Hell" exhibits, it's that the crew is a pack of survivors. Everyone manages to do their job well even throughout the constant hull breaches, crew losses, and other hopelessness. That's not to say there's no change, because there is, most notably in Janeway. She's determined with every fiber of her being to see to it her crew survives these attacks, but she has also become grim, sullen, and almost hatefully adversarial toward the Krenim aggressors. This is one no-nonsense Janeway.

This isn't, as Chakotay once said, "business as usual"—and for once, it truly feels that way. It's the little details that make the big difference in "Year of Hell." Such details include a promoted Neelix; a blind Tuvok; Harry and B'Elanna playing a trivia game while waiting for rescue in a stuck turbolift (The first warp ship at First Contact was the Phoenix, answers Seven of Nine—the Borg were present during those events. The reviewer grins.); and the shattering of Janeway's lucky teacup (read: in-your-face symbol of the week). There are interesting dynamics to be found in the character relationships, especially the teaming of Tuvok and Seven, which works particularly well. A lot of the good stuff in the episode comes down to little bits of dialog here and there—though I don't feel the need to discuss them all, much of the Janeway/Chakotay interaction worked (especially Chakotay's symbolic birthday gift to Janeway), in addition to a good scene between Doc and Paris.

The only thing I don't fully understand is why it is Voyager is in this situation in the first place. After the first attack, one would think there was the option to turn around and go another direction. If Voyager did turn around, why would the Krenim follow? The episode never really makes it clear how it is Voyager got so deep in over its head in the first place. Perhaps the change in the timeline made Krenim space extend far beyond where Voyager had initially entered it, trapping them well inside hostile borders.

Never mind. After more than two months of gathering data from the attacks, the crew finally finds a way to defend itself from the Krenim's temporal weapons. Unfortunately, using such technology interferes with Annorax's time-alteration calculations, leading him to promptly track down Voyager and attempt to erase it from existence. I especially appreciated Annorax's regret that he had to neutralize Voyager. He realizes that Voyager is an innocent victim, but it doesn't matter—he has a mission to accomplish, and he's going to do it.

Voyager is miraculously able to escape, but not before Annorax beams away Tom and Chakotay (and it's loose ends like this that are certainly going to drive the plot next week—I just hope it's not as transparent as "Federation crewman gains unauthorized access to the time ship controls"). With the Voyager in shambles, however, Janeway orders what she hoped would never happen—the evacuation of the ship and separation of the crew. Only a skeleton crew will remain on Voyager— everyone else will take escape pods and shuttles in different directions, hopefully to be reunited on the other side of Krenim space.

Without a doubt, the theme of the week is the Voyager family. The writers have really been pushing the crew as a unified family this season so far. From "Scorpion II" and "The Gift" to "The Raven" and now "Year of Hell," it looks like the new direction of Voyager is one that centers on interesting sci-fi discovery (like the time ship in this episode) by one big family trying to get home. I can certainly live with that as a mission statement; I just hope the sci-fi interest can be interesting, like this episode manages—rather than hokey like last week's "Scientific Method" turned out to be. Janeway's speech about the subdivision of the family is heartfelt, though a little too stilted toward the end.

One thing I'd better make clear is that "Year of Hell" didn't rivet me to the screen the way I expected it to. I was interested, yet, surprisingly enough, I wasn't really moved much emotionally by the plight of Voyager's desperation. A better word for my state of mind might be "intrigued." That's too bad considering the richness of the material. I think a big part of the problem is that I'm worried not only about the inconsequence resulting from wiping of the slate next week, but that the crew won't even remember what it's been through—which would render all of this virtually pointless. That's a problem I'll have to tackle next week, though. For now, I'll try to push it out of my mind and enjoy the "what if" premise on its own terms.

Next week: The mother of all reset button plots? I'm guessing so. Or, to quote Garak, "I always hope for the best. Experience, unfortunately, has taught me to expect the worst."

Note: In trying to show off Voyager's action and special effects for next week, the wonderful preview people have screwed up again. Anyone paying remotely close attention can figure out generally what's going to happen at the climax of part two's plot (and don't read on unless you want to read speculations that could turn out to be spoilers). Janeway's going to ram her battered starship Voyager into the Krenim's time ship (shortly after saying "Time's up" as a tagline), causing a major explosion and a temporal anomaly that will reset everything to ground zero. Mark my words: It will happen. But, then, what else could you expect? We certainly can't have the Voyager lying in ruins.

Previous episode: Scientific Method
Next episode: Year of Hell, Part II

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

66 comments on this post

    If you take away the plot of the guy changing history this episode represent what Voyager should had been. I enjoyed Voyager but I can't help but think what could had been if the show was done properly.

    I read that there was a scene at the beginning of the episode where Janeway remembered Kes's warnings about the Krenim, but it was cut out of the final episode. If they cut a scene that blatantly important to continuity, it makes me think that all of Voyager's problems might have been cause by "The Guy Who Decides Which Scenes to Cut Every Week".

    Just think about it, what other scenes might have been cut? There might've been scenes where they showed the Borg baby dying, revisited the Doctor's holographic family, or showed Tom actually talking to his father in "Endgame", Starfleet dealing with the Maquis in Season 7, Unimatrix Zero actually hurting the Borg collective and becoming relevant, explaining the tractor beam in "Voyager Conspiracy", Kes actually getting some character development...maybe even a scene where Harry Kim didn't act like an idiot for once. It could've been a completely different series if not for that cutting room guy.

    It took me a long time to warm up to this two-parter but it eventually became one of the episodes I go back and watch the most. I think I didn't like it because it ruined what I thought would be an excellent story line: A real "year of hell". An entire season of Voyager crossing through Krenim space, the periodic attacks, the ship in ruins, making new allies to help repairs or combat the Krenim...Maybe even forcing everybody but the senior officers to abandon ship for a few episodes. That would have been something. But once I got over the fact that storyline was never gonna happen, I warmed to this episode.

    For someone who claims to dislike time travel & time paradoxes, Janeway sure manages to encounter them quite a bit, doesn't she?

    Ah, Tim! Now you've made me realize just how much this idea could have done for Voyager! I've always liked this episode, but now I can't help wishing they'd done the season!

    Was that suder I saw during Janeway's farewell speech at the end?

    Despite the always-watchable Kurtwood Smith, this two-parter doesn't hold a candle to the Krenim's brief appearance in "Before and After" (with a reset button ending I saw coming a mile away).
    Am I also alone in thinking that Doc's speech at the beginning was irksome and seemed like something an irritating character like Neelix would say?

    It's a fun episode for what it is, but it's hard to believe that the Q would tolerate meddling of this magnitude, or at the least, not undo everything as he does it.

    I don't think they could have sustained this storyline for an entire season, for the simple fact taht as Jammer mentioned the Krenim aren't interesting enough villains. If they wanted to destroy Voyager, they probably could have done it, so you have to assume the reason they constantly attack and let them survive is out of pure sadism.

    I have to say Janeway's decision at the end doesn't make sense. Even a very damaged Voyager would be safer than a tiny little escape pod with no warp drive. And all those faceless crew members could surely help conduct repairs? Especially given the fact that the Krenim Imperium is no longer a threat.

    It's still a pretty riveting episode, though. I didn't guess on first viewing that the timeline would be reset (in my defense I was eleven years old at the time) which made it much more enjoyable.

    I LOOOOVE this two-parter, one of my favourite Voyager episodes ever, primarily because of the Annorax character- probably one of Trek's most effective and sympathetic villains.

    Nic, I was thinking the same thing when Voyager was hiding in the nebula, apparently safe as bugs in a rug. Surely the crew would have preferred to have been there helping B'elanna make repairs, rather than floating through hostile space waiting to be used for target practice.

    I'm with Nic & Cail...escape pods are meant to get yourself off a ship in danger and to some stable haven like a space station or another vessel. They aren't meant for general space travel...I would think the occupants would go insane in short order by the cramped quarters and the lack of something to do.

    I also thought I spotted Suder in the farewell speech. And how is Kim an expert quiz master on 20th century film when professed his disdain for passive viewing entertainment in Future's End? Knowing there was a huge reset button waiting at the end of part II took the tension out of what could have been an interesting story. The ship all banged up should have been what Voyager had become if the writers and producers actually gave a toss.

    The Krenim have supposedly been at this for two centuries, but it only now occurred to them to aim their weapon at the Zahl homeworld, right when Voyager is coming into the situation?

    The escape pod dilemma always bugged me; even when I first saw it. I would have appreciated a throwaway line saying that they were in a star system with a habitable planet; and that Voyager's life-support systems were so badly damaged that they no longer could support a full crew. Janeway kinda sorta states that in the end; but doesn't fully.

    @Jay: They probably already wiped them out, then wiped out another species which brought them back, rinse and repeat. This cycle is explicitly mentioned in part II.

    Overall, this is a depressing two-parter for all the wrong reasons. First and foremost this really should have been the entire premise of Voyager. At the end of the series the ship should have looked the way it did in this episode. If they had to have a fixed-up ship; I would have gone for Borg tech fixing the damage. Just imagine; Borg armor filling in hull-breaches (The Gift has a neat visual of what this might look like) and Borg technology all throughout the ship. Borg panels, Borg conduits, ect. Would have been awesome and more consistent given what we know about Borg technology automatic regeneration compared to regular Federation metal.

    I do agree that this could never have been a full season with how insanely dull the Krenim are. Drop the standard humanoid appearance and give true depth and a good reason for why they are stuck in their territory and maybe it could have worked.

    The concept of a 'Year of Hell' was not necessarily created based on the Krenim being antagonists throughout, but possibly on that of Voyager being kicked from pillar to post over the course of a season. In fact I suspect the time aspect may have been added specifically to make the idea work in the short term. I could be wrong, but the trouble here is that such a scenario is entirely believable due to the writers tendency to take the easy road with Voyager.

    What I would like to have explained is how, after last season Kes explained the Krenim, the kronoton torpedoes and the time-shift factor of 1.47 seconds, how did they not have pre-knowledge of this and how were they not prepared in advance with counter measures?

    I was very confused by this, and I guess I'll have to re-watch "Before and After" again to get the answers. Did anybody else figure this out?

    I, too, specifically remember Kes warning the crew of the Krenim. And it does count, because after they restore Kes to her proper timeline, Tuvok advises that she keep most of what she saw to herself as he does not want to risk tampering with a possible future, but he also suggests that she SHOULD tell them about the Krenim, given the extensive damage they would inflict on Voyager.

    They should already know about the Krenim. Tuvok should have recognized that torpedo in the Jeffries tube and known about the temporal fluctuation. But now it's like they don't even remember anything. No one reacts to the name of the Krenim species, the torpedoes in temporal flux, the temporal variance of the chronitron torpedo. All of this is information that Kes passed on to them, at the end of Before and After.

    My guess is that the crew doesn't know about any of that, because Annorax and his ship wiped it from their memory in one of their many attempts to reset history to something they like. Voyager was, as he says, temporally inert and thus fully subjected to the changes in time, which probably included any knowledge of the Krenim and the Year of Hell events Kes previously warned them about. Voyager lights up like a christmas tree on the Krenim radar the moment their temportal shields interfere with their calculations and throw the whole thing off. Any time before that, Annorax and his crew weren't interested in them.

    It is entirely possible that Before and After happened in between two changes made by Annorax and that the future Kes saw in that episode never came to pass. Or only came to pass in an alternate reality, if you really want to make it complicated. At any rate, the information she passed on to Tuvok and the crew seems to have been lost completely. That's the best I can come up with.

    I'm beginning to understand why Janeway wants to stay away from any timetravel BS. It's headache inducing.

    Tell me this - Kes experienced the Krenim in her possible future and warned the captain about the danger they would face passing through Krenim space in a year or something like that. But then in the gift, that timeline changes, Kes leaves the ship, meaning she won't ever experience that time line for real. So be it - the warning could still be valid as the krenim are still out there. HOWEVER - at the end of the gift she throws them 9500 light years closer to home. Surely that would throw them past the point where they would have met the krenim, unless somehow in the possible alternate future they'd also managed to jump the same distance some other way.

    Xylar, Scubabadger...

    You two are labouring under the assumption that Voyager writers gave a toss about continuity or the fans. They didn't.


    "Hey," say the writers, "we picked up a reference from a past episode. What more continuity do you want? Get a life!"

    Did they rebuild the escape pods somehow? Because otherwise they should be all gone from when the Kazon used them to flee Voyager at the ends of Basics II.

    Well, the writers REALLY blew it here. She not only discovered the variance, she told it to the EMH!!

    "EMH: I beg your pardon?
    KES: It's a long story. The important thing is, the temporal variance of the chroniton torpedo was one point four seven microseconds. "

    eeeeesh...... but then we wouldn't have had YOH would we? ...

    Voyager would have been able to defend against their torpedoes and they could have just warped out of there.


    "(The torpedo explodes. Tuvok shields Seven with his body as the flames rush down the Jefferies tube. Now we know why Kes is being ignored. It is so Seven can take the credit for saving the ship.)"


    Scubabadger, my take is that she did experience it in the 'Before and After' timeline, but her timeline changed because she "evolved". It's iffy no matter how you look at it...

    I don't have as big a problem with the whole escape pod thing. I think it was a matter of feeding and housing the crew as well. They'd lost 9 decks... life support was spotty at best... The remaining crew were barely surviving on rationed MRE's and all. My biggest issue was her telling the soon to be ejected crew "Along the way, try to find allies. Secure faster ships, if you can. Anything to get home". It should be a survival speech, not a "get home" speech. Find a planet! :-)

    Jack, escape pods must be like shuttle craft... easy peasy to rebuild :-)

    But hey, aside from that stuff this episode was fantastic.

    As with most trek stories, its the story and how ir affect our heroes. We just have to forget about Kes.

    Annorax was a great.

    Very interesting, again Star Trek time travel is about ONE timeline and the affects change have on IT. Just like the new movies.

    Tuvok and 7's scenes were top notch and moving. Harry and B'Elanna scenes were good because B'Elanna was in them.

    All the "Yoyager must be beat up" folks are given candy and still complain.

    I love how Chakotay DOES HIS JOB by countering his Captain. Presenting all options. Then I love how he didn't want to abandon ship at that time. Good #1.

    All the nit-pic stuff aside, it still was moving when Janeway gave the abandon ship order... it just was.

    I'll go 3 stars because of the writers Kes gaff.

    I'm getting really sick of Chakotay and his hippie "let's just surrender" speeches. He makes the same speech in that second season episode when he and Janeway are infected with a virus and are stranded on their very own planet. Then in Scorpion he tells Janeway to get Voyager out of harm's way and settle on a Delta Quadrant planet. Here, he tells her to abandon Voyager. I really want to punch this hippie Indian in the face! How was he ever a Maquis soldier? Where is his testosterone? "Even the eagle has to sleep," blah, blah, shut the fuck up!

    By the way, do those escape pods have toilets?

    I haven't been as taken by an idea like the year of hell when it appeared in 'Before and After' since the Borg universe Enterprise way back in 'Parallels'. So this should have been an absolute slam dunk classic - and yet it just isn't.

    Even accepting the fact that there is no acknowledgement of the events of 'Before and After', that the 10 years journey time saved in The Gift should have put them beyond Krenim space, and the lingering suspicion (evidenced by Janeway's hair?) that we're in a different timeline somehow anyway, this fails in its choice of antagonist.

    The Krenim were enough of a black canvas to come up with something really cool - instead we get a bunch of preening space Nazis right out of a 1970s Doctor Who show.

    We do get some destruction porn as the Voyager gets increasingly torn up - and awesome work it is too - but as exciting as elements of it are this should have been so much better. 3 stars.

    Janeway's "abandon ship" speech to the crew at the end was one of the best dramatic performances in the Trek universe. And it kinda made me love her.

    In rewatching this episode, it bugs me that Janeway mentions to Annorax that Earth is 65000 light-years away. What?

    sleep inducing. Once again Janeway is an idiot. She should have blown the first attack ship to bits. when someone is attacking you you don't give them a chance to win.
    from there we get Mortal Kombat. Round 1. Fight! Round 2. Fight! sleep inducing

    This was a huge waste of the Year of Hell concept because we didn't get a Year of Hell. We didn't get a week of hell, we got nothing. The whole point was seeing the slow buildup, was seeing Voyager go from its normal pristine state to damage and limping. To see how the crew responded. To see the drama. But we got nothing of that. Voyager went from pristine to damage at the snap of a finger. That isn't interesting, it is the journey from pristine to damage that was interesting and we were denied that story.

    There is also a problem with the timeline. Since this ship has been in space for 200 years, that means everyone and everything they were trying to bring back died off 160 years ago. So it will never be back irregardless because those people died. Plus it is impossible to restore everything because those things only arose as a result of the strife and hardship which led inevitably to the death of this idiot's wife. Without those chain of events neither he nor his wife would have ever been born and lived in the first place.

    We are also left to question what happens or what it means for something to be removed from time. If those are removed from time, then wouldn't they still not exist when the next temporal incursion is brought about? So this ship is permanently destroying matter and if it continued for infinity there would be no matter left in the universe. But there is still the time paradox problem that no shielding is going to save you from as this regards the very existence of the ship itself. If the ship was never built it would immediately cease to exist and so the shielding it has in the future would not serve as protection against it ceasing to exist in the past.

    The Voyager writers should stay away from time travel because they don't understand how it would work.

    Also, what happened to that temporal shielding that Kes was going to help them create 2 years ago? What about the warning Kes gave about the Krenim and the torpedoes? Why did Janeway decide to continue through Krenim space despite the clear indication that the Krenim were hostile and didn't want Voyager in their territory? Continuing through Krenim space was just clear boneheaded idiocy and even Janeway wasn't enough of an idiot to decide to enter Krenim space despite lacking the ability to defend against the Krenim ships.

    This was another episode where nothing worked for me because the writers put too little effort into figuring out how everything should logically work and then trying to make each character act how they should act and make events progress the way they should progress. I also hate being cheated out the real Year of Hell.

    A final thought, everyone on the Krenim ship died 140 years ago from old age. Since the people on the ship are mortal and the people on the ship don't exist in a state of temporal stasis as they are moving around the ship, talking to one another, eating, shitting, sleeping, then they are still moving forward in time otherwise they would not be moving. Since they are clearly moving forward in time and 200 years have clearly passed inside the Krenim ship, then everyone on the Krenim ship is 200 years older than they were when the ship was launched. Furthermore, the Krenim ship isn't cloaked and is visible to every other ship in the region. This means that time on the Krenim ship is the same as the time outside the ship. Otherwise light from the suns would not be reflecting off the Krenim ship. The Krenim ship would be unable to scan outside the Krenim ship. So the Krenim ship is not in a state of temporal stasis within the ship and it isn't outside the timeline outside the ship. Everything on the ship must age the same as everything outside the ship because everything on the ship is part of the same timeline as everything off the ship.

    The writers are incompetent and believed they could have their cake and eat too because they have absolutely no idea how their world must work.

    Voyager ignoring Kes's warning from the earlier episode makes even less sense considering Year of Hell was supposed to be aired at the end of season 3 (closer to Before and After) but was shelved for the two-part season finale introducing Seven of Nine.

    Jumping around willy-nilly through various VOY episodes I've never seen I watched this two parter last night. I thought this was a really solid couple of shows but even my wife who was half-watching and knows almost zero about Trek knew it was going to be one giant 'It never really happened' story.

    Another great Chakotay causes interesting friction (this time with Paris) only to change his mind about 3 minutes later, more or less :(

    I'm curious about the final scene- Did Annorax change his tune completely by going off with his wife or is it just a replaying of what's already happened before and will happen again?


    I think it was meant to convey he had "changed his tune" because of what Annorax had stated during the episode. (something to the fact that he hadn't spent enough time with his wife because he worked too much). But you're right, it's left up to the viewers interpretation.

    I had always interpreted the ending as implying that the final change in the timeline didn't quite reset it *exactly* to how it had been in the first place, but rather to a state very similar. Based on how the scene is shot it looks like they're trying to show that all those years of torment somehow had an affect on the past-version of Annorax and that going to his wife was in some loose sense guided by subconscious avoidance of that terrible possible future. I don't know how this would be possible, but anyhow it seems like the result is that things are more or less reset, but not quite. As Voyager wasn't in that part of space yet, the timeline changes likely wouldn't affect them either way.

    I took the ending INCREDIBLY literally.

    "The core is destabilising. It's going to cause a temporal incursion within the ship."

    Temporal incursion has, until this point, meant erasing something from existence. I take it to mean that the time ship was erased from existence. That the Krenim never built it. And so all of the things they erased were restored.

    I felt that was the paradox of the entire thing. Annorax accidentally destroyed his home colony during his second incursion. The only way to fix it was to stop himself. To destroy his own ship. Like Dorothy and the slippers, he could have clicked his heals 3 times and gotten home anytime he wanted, he just couldn't see it.

    @ Robert,

    Maybe I'm remembering the ending incorrectly, but wasn't the event of him going to his wife rather than working later supposed to be prior to the invention of the time ship? In other words, what happened was that in this timeline that one moment was crucial as to whether or not he'd ever finish the work, and he didn't.

    I guess it could also be interpreted as just being some random timeline very much like the original one, but where the coincidentally didn't complete the project. My comment above was only to say that I felt there was an implication that it was more than mere coincidence that kept him from going back to his work.

    Thanks, guys.

    It does look like he'd change his mind up until then pan the camera at his PADD which looks like he's still working on the Time Ship afterall. So maybe his best case scenario would be the creation of the Time Ship eventually but he was able to still spend more time with his wife and family in the process?

    "Maybe I'm remembering the ending incorrectly, but wasn't the event of him going to his wife rather than working later supposed to be prior to the invention of the time ship? In other words, what happened was that in this timeline that one moment was crucial as to whether or not he'd ever finish the work, and he didn't."

    I agree! But not because he remembers anything/learned his lesson. But because the time ship is not meant to exist anymore. Because it's been erased. It's nice to say I "erased you from existence" but that doesn't explain anything. Did I make your conception not occur? Do you have a "sibling" now that was born instead of you? Did your parents not meet? Was one of them killed as a child?

    I think that's the idea. The timeship was "erased" because time was altered so that he never built it. The incursion is what caused him to not go back to his work. That's how I take it anyway.

    this is one of my favourites, when I'm looking for a good couple of hours of television.
    we have a Voyager at war, people are dying, anything that can go wrong will, and the action scenes of Voyager getting battered are still really cool. the walking reset button aspect of it turns it into more of an experiment than a nightmare that's going to haunt the ship and crew, however.
    how much damage can we do? how many crew members can we kill? how will Janeway behave when she's subjected to a Year of Hell?

    the way I see it, something this devastating ought to have been used as the final story-arc before the ship somehow makes it home. there was potential for a several episode arc, but instead it was a two-part episode with a reset, that simply turns it into a hypothetical scenario.

    I do get a kick out of any episode that goes as far as to trash the USS Voyager, such as this one or even Deadlock.

    "I think that's the idea. The timeship was "erased" because time was altered so that he never built it. The incursion is what caused him to not go back to his work. That's how I take it anyway."

    Does the time ship alter time by removing objects from reality or by mind controlling people in the past? How can the ship mind control Annorax by making him put down his starship blueprints when the only thing that happened to the ship was that its time core exploded? The whole two part series makes zero sense. It doesn't even explain how something can be removed from time space because an object isn't an object, it is a collection of objects which just exist as a thing we interpret as an object in that moment in time. But a comet might have once been a piece of a star, and might become part of a planet or split into two. The comet itself is just a bunch of atoms. So how exactly would you remove a comet from time? Pushing the comet out of time couldn't possibly push all the atoms from the sun that would produce the comet out of time. It could only push the thing as it existed at that point in time out of time. So it is impossible for the timeship to cause Annorax to not build the timeship as the timeship does not have past mind controlling powers.

    Many of the problems with Star Trek: Voyager stem from the writers not understanding how the tech is supposed to work and not wanting to deal with the tech they have. Thus we so often see teleporters and sensors not working for completely bogus reasons. We see a failure to make use of medical technology which can sometimes bring someone back from the dead and sometimes can't save someone who has just been shot and is still alive even though Neelix was kept alive for days despite not having any lungs...The use of technology is completely arbitrary. They use it when using it furthers the plot but then either completely forget about it or shut it down when they want to just phone the episode in.

    Overall a good hour of Trek with an interesting villain in the Krenim and their temporal weapon. From "Before and After" I have to wonder why the Voyager crew know nothing of the Krenim after what Kes told them before -- perhaps it's because of prior uses of the Krenim temporal weapon, but precisely because we're dealing with altering timelines, some things may fall between the cracks.

    The best part of the episode is seeing Voyager absolutely battered and how the crew have to go about their work under extremely difficult circumstances. "Year of Hell" is an appropriate title. Definitely plenty of good scenes with the crew members helping each other, trying to stay positive etc. Using the escape pods is the ultimate in desperation. Can't say I give much chance of survival for them.

    But for some reason, "Year of Hell" is nowhere near as enthralling as "Scorpion" was for me. Even with an interesting villain and development of character for Annorax, the plot isn't as compelling.

    I have no idea what happens in Part II but if there is just a reset based on changing the timeline or something, that will be very disappointing. The temporal weapon to wipe out a species is a tad far-fetched for me, even within the paradigm of Trek sci-fi. Kind of reminds me of the Genesis weapon in Wrath of Khan, which was more believable and had some pseudo-science behind it.

    "Year of Hell, Part I" deserves a 3-star rating. We'll see what happens with Part II but there's definitely enough good stuff here although there are a few issues like why no reference to "Before and After" and trying to keep things straight after Kes's departure and flinging Voyager X light years away (possibly past the Krenim) etc.

    One of the best episodes of Voyager and of the spinoffs, pretty much everyone at the top of their game. Certainly reminiscent of some earlier episodes but still quite fresh and even more impressive for being both.

    They built an astrometrics lab, that has 10 times the mapping accuracy they had before. What does that even mean? They didn't know where they were before? And they plot a new course home, that will save them 5 years. Wut? What course were they taking before? I would assume they pointed towards Earth and flew there in as straight a line as possible. How could they have been off by 5 years? Silly.

    And the whole premise of this episode is dumb. Like Jammer said, why wouldn't they have just left immediately and gone around this area?

    Why did that one chick on the bridge die when the timewave or whatever it is went through Voyager? Everyone else was fine.

    How was Voyager not destroyed long before they came up with temporal shields?

    And the whole ignoring Kes thing annoyed me greatly.

    The time ship and the alterations it makes to the timeline make no sense whatsoever as other people mentioned.

    This could have been way way better.

    2 1/2 stars.

    I have a question regarding 7's statement that "The Borg were present during [First Contact]". Obviously it wasn't meant to be looked at in depth, but how would she know that they were present during the events. From my understanding (and recollection), all of the Borg involved were destroyed, and obviously they failed at their objective to inform the rest of the Borg from that time of Earth's presence, or it would have been destroyed. Is the collective able to know what's happening to each other despite being out of their own time?


    Frankly, I don't think Voyager's writers thought too hard when they decided to throw in a reference to "First Contact". The only reading of that line I can make sense of is that the Borg have a record of sending a sphere back in time to stop Earth's first contact and Seven knows about that.

    But you're right, it wouldn't make any sense if the Borg could communicate cross-time. That would eliminate any reason for them to travel back in time in the first place.

    The writers did close that hole later. According to ENT's "Regeneration" a remanent of Borg did survive and was able to send a message to the Delta Quadrant, but it would take about 200 years (from ENT's time) for the message to arrive.

    IMHO, FTL communication is the real plot hole in Trek. Trek tends to assume the communication is instant, realtime and requiring very little 'power' compared to warp. We can guess how warp would be not physically impossible (even if the 'solutions' would require unreal materials and absurd amounts of energy), but how would realtime FTL communication work without at the very least massive violations of casualty?

    The reset button was abused like a ginger orphan repeatedly during this show’s run and I agree with the broad consensus that it was pushed so often that it badly hobbled the series’ credibility.

    That being said it seems rather unfair to mark this one down for it.

    Firstly, since this is a review of Part One specifically, the reset button hasn’t been pushed yet. Of course it will be in part two, so any criticism should be aimed at that episode, not this one.

    Secondly, I really don’t have an issue with the reset button when it is built into the story as it is here. The whole plot of the episode revolves around a man pushing his giant reset button repeatedly in an ongoing aim to recover what he’s lost. The way the plot resolves is entirely consistent with what goes before and the reset makes perfect sense in-universe.

    I always thought this episode sucked. Why? Well, for one simple reason;

    Why didn't Voyager just go around Krenim space? Seriously, these obvious hostile people don't want you in their territory so why risk it? After the second or third attack shouldn't they have considered just leaving Krenim territory and jusr going around it. Even if it adds a few years to their journey isn't it better than getting your ship destroyed and crew killed? I'm pretty sure there was nothing stopping them. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    Also, assuming Voyager made it through Krenim space, assuming no reset button(because the character's don't know it's coming even though the audience does), what was Janeway's plan? The ship was irreparably damaged, most of it's crew killed, several decks obliterated, weapon systems barely working, and energy reserves mortally low, what was voyager going to do? Die? Why did Janeway keep pushing further into Krenim space after it should have become obvious that this was the worst course of action she could have taken?

    Did some part of the time travel plot explain it? Was she hunting the time ship(it's been some time since I've watched it sorry if I'm missing something.

    Jesus, I just realized that it's 3 am and I'm typing entire essays about a show from 1997 in the comments section of a review from 2008.

    I need help

    For the record, the review is also from 1997. The comments just weren't turned on until 2007.

    Ah! Voyager is in shambles. Parts of it are blown to smithereens.

    All very well done. Blind Tuvok being led around by Seven was especially affecting. Caring isn't about emotion; it's about action.

    And the final scene, all those little ships, streaming forward like pods outta Hell.

    The ep asks some very important questions about what's most important. 98% restored? Not good enough? Why not?

    Because Family!! Home!! Life!! Death!! Things get way, way down to basics. The watch or food and boots? Die together or live apart??

    Anxious for part 2.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: time distortion/alternative timeline-stories annoys the cr*p out of me. In this episode we get a shining example of how messed up it easily gets.

    On the positive side everything else is really good in "A Year of Hell Part 1". Mulgrew is on such a level that she alone makes it worth the watch. Bravo!

    Even with the inevitable reset, I quite enjoy this 2 parter. But where are the Q in all this? Or do the Q just not give a damn knowing the reset is coming eventually even after 2 centuries, which I guess to them, is like a brief second in time.

    Ah, Year of Hell, a.k.a. Voyager's writers have fun playing at DS9 but can't *quite* let go of the reset button.

    I liked blind Tuvok (hooray for correct guiding and accessibility tech! [tactile interface]) and the dynamic between him and Seven was just perfect.

    Neelix as security officer was a nice touch - you know things are bad when Neelix gets to put on a uniform!

    To be honest, the very first time I watched it was as a teenager and I was glued to the screen, I couldn't believe they'd survive it - at that point the ending was actually a relief. Now it's frustrating, though that is for the next part. To be honest I've seen it a couple of times since but I still didn't remember how everything reset so I didn't skip it, but I didn't pay close attention like I normally intend to for rewatching. It's a good couple of episodes to examine what happens character-wise under extreme circumstances, and for that alone I may rewatch with more attention next time. So it does have some merit as a standalone piece, but in terms of the overall canon it doesn't do very much (whereas if the DS9 writers had been in charge, it most certainly would have had some kind of effect on the overall canon, even if they did still reset. Glimmers of those characterisations in other circumstances, probably with specific echoes of happenings in the episode even if it didn't really happen.)

    Oh man. Tough crowd. This is three and three-quarters "Trek" to me -- just shy of a four-star classic. Loved the evacuation speech and pods leaving at the end.

    Surprised the Borg haven't tried to help themselves to Krenim technology. Of course, maybe the Borg have't been around at the right time!

    I used to hate alternative timeline stuff, but then I realized that it was just a way to reset things at the end of the day. Wow isn’t it exacting we beat up the ship with fires and spectacles and get a lot of important regulars killed, except we reset everything at the end by resetting the timeline. It is a modern day Deux ex machina.


    ))They built an astrometrics lab, that has 10 times the mapping accuracy they had before. What does that even mean? They didn't know where they were before? And they plot a new course home, that will save them 5 years. Wut? What course were they taking before? I would assume they pointed towards Earth and flew there in as straight a line as possible. How could they have been off by 5 years? Silly.((

    You're using a 9-inch world globe to navigate your way, by car, from San Francisco to Washington D.C. The globe is so low-resolution that you can barely make out a couple of major highways, rivers, and such. According to your calculations, you are going to need 8 days to reach D.C. Then you come into possession of a hoard of "old-style" filling station maps (one for each state in the Union) - with much greater detail! Suddenly, you see that there are plenty of shortcuts you can take advantage of! You suddenly see bridges, etc. that can shorten your trip. You also now see previously unseen barriers that you thus now know to avoid! Presto! You now calculate that you need only 4 days to reach D.C.!

    @George Monet
    ))Since this ship has been in space for 200 years, that means everyone and everything they were trying to bring back died off 160 years ago.((

    The Krenim are a very long-lived species. 200 years equates to a boring afternoon to them. So once Annorax restores the timeline (and thus revives his wife and children), they will be able to return to their home world and find their loved ones still alive. "Obrist" is upset and restless not because of the 200 years per se, but rather only because he sees that it might take millions of years.

    >IMHO, FTL communication is the real plot hole in Trek. Trek tends to assume the communication is instant,

    In TOS “The Enterprise Incident” they say communication takes 3 weeks to Star Fleet from the Neutral Zone. I think this gets ret-conned in TNG because they seem to communicate without trouble over great distances.

    It's been a while since I've seen this episode but I noted that Tuvok refuses help with shaving because of pride, isn't pride an emotion? Seems kind of un-Vulcan and therefore out of character.

    Overall score: 7/10, time paradoxes be damned.

    After the chroniton torpedo blew up in his face, Tuvok was rendered blind. It’s unlikely that it would have helped, and apparently it didn’t, but they could have least mentioned the inner-eyelid thing.

    ))Why would Tuvok need a mirror to shave if he's blind?((


    The (cracked) mirror was already hanging there on his bathroom wall BEFORE he was blinded. Tuvok didn't "need" the mirror - it just happened to still be there.

    How exactly are the Krenim "scanning" the continuum? It's unreasonable to believe they just magically know the timeline of every particle in the galaxy or universe for that matter, much less that Chakotay can start mastering doing these calculations on a little pad. As I mentioned in my part 2 comment, the superman abilities and superman learning that these star fleet people are shown to have is laughably absurd. And this is something that is annoying across all the series. They can learn how to use alien technology, in a productive way, sometimes even more throughly than the aliens themselves can, after spending 10 minutes on their ship. The same is true in reverse, all these invading aliens that instantly know how to not only commandeer the ship, but repair stuff when the crew tries to slow them down by sabatoging systems. Take the episodes of cogenitor and displaced as examples of this. "I was watching you long enough I now can master flying an astropod around solar flares in the corona of a star in dazzling maneuvers even though I haven't even touched the controls yet." That would be like if a crop duster took me up for a 15 minute ride and now I know how to fly and master an F18, it's absurd. I'm also sick of the crap where the crew are suddenly super-human, like Janeway casually fixing the deflector control as the raging flames are burning 60% of her body and the whole deck is buried in smoke. I find this stuff more annoying because all the time stuff there is no logical way to analyze, it's not meant to, but they could at least make basic things make sense, like how warp 2 goes a few parsecs in seconds, yet warp 7.3 only goes 30 billion kilometers in that same time (Emergence), or actually make the people act like human beings and not some kind of advanced cyborgs with the learning and physical abilities of a borg or supercomputer. That's my main problem with star trek, how everyone is suddenly superman/superwoman in these action packed episodes. It's not realistic on any level.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index