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The Trek Nation - Hope and Fear

Hope and Fear

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:38 PM GMT

See Also: 'Hope and Fear' Episode Guide

Janeway has just beaten Seven of Nine six of ten times in a holographic game with phasers called Velocity. Seven insults human intuition, but Janeway tells her to be a good sport. In the wee hours, Janeway stays up working on the message Starfleet sent them through the Hirogen relay. At 0500 hours, Chakotay interrupts her to tell her that Neelix wants to bring a passenger on board who helped him communicate with the locals, and wants passage to the next system. Janeway agrees, then tells Chakotay that she's been having problems with Seven. Chakotay thinks Janeway should ask Seven to help decode the message, and the two have coffee together.

Neelix's ally Arcturus helped the Talaxian communicate with a xenon-based lifeform to trade for supplies, and picks up languages instantly. Janeway asks him for help translating the Starfleet message, which he does, discovering a set of coordinates within the body of the text. Janeway takes them to the location, which is nearby, and discovers an empty but functional Starfleet vessel waiting for them. When an away team beams over and sees the nifty new design of the experimental U.S.S. Dauntless, Paris says "Wow." Tuvok says, "Wow, indeed."

The Dauntless records indicate that the ship travelled 60,000 light years in three months via a new engine called a quantum slipstream, which channels energy through the deflector array. The ship starts moving of its own accord, pursued by Voyager, which catches up two days after Paris instantly learns the controls and stops the Dauntless. The new ship traveled 15 light years in minutes. Arcturus decodes the rest of the Starfleet transmission, showing the crew a recording of Admiral Hayes, who tells them that the ship worked perfectly in tests and it should take them three months to get home.

The Doctor says that the away team suffered no ill effects, and Torres says that while the new ship is lean - no replicators, no holodecks - it works perfectly. Still, Seven believes abandoning Voyager would be premature, and Janeway agrees that they should try slipstream technology with Voyager's engines. She privately tells Tuvok that she has misgivings, since the whole situation is a little too perfect - first Arcturus and then the ship dropped right on their doorstep. She wants the alien investigated.

Seven and Janeway both record their misgivings in their logs, in which Seven reveals that the slipstream technology is much like Borg transwarp and the crew is depending on her to harness it. She is also apprehensive about fitting in with humans on Earth. On the Dauntless, Torres and Kim have success modifying the engines, but Kim detects strange energy readings and a panel that doesn't operate according to known technology. Janeway works on the Starfleet message, telling Seven she hopes this is all real, but Seven says that she won't go to the Alpha Quadrant even if the crew needs her help to get there: she does not want to live among humans and conform to their values. Janeway accuses her of being afraid and of abandoning the crew which has done so much for her.

Just as Janeway finishes decoding the end of the Starfleet message and discovers that what Arcturus showed them was a forgery - Starfleet has no way to get them home at present - Kim and Tuvok discover alien technology in the engineering panel. Janeway beams to the Dauntless, has Torres evacuate all crewmembers, and confronts Arcturus. He throws a switch on the bridge and the entire configuration changes - it was constructed out of particle streams, sort of like holograms. Voyager manages to beam most of the crew away, but Janeway and Seven are trapped on the alien vessel when it goes to slipstream propulsion. Chakotay tells Paris to test the engine modifications to Voyager by following.

Arcturus scoffs at Janeway's calling herself a diplomat - her "diplomacy" destroyed his world, when she prevented Species 8472 from weakening the Borg, which allowed them to assimilate his planet after centuries of resistance. Janeway says she had no way of knowing what would happen and considered Species 8472 a greater threat to the quadrant, but Arcturus says that she could never see past the prow of her own ship. He calls her self-righteous and condemns her choice for the quadrant as entirely selfish. As punishment, he is going to send her and Seven back to Borg space to be assimilated. He tells Seven that he does not blame her - she was only a drone - and suggests that this is what she wanted all along.

In the brig, Seven admits that she no longer wishes to return to the Collective, and Janeway suggests that she could get through the forcefields if her nanoprobes were attuned to the right frequency. Seven suggests modifying her interface, so Janeway dissects her comm badge and goes to work on the other woman's forehead device. While they work, Janeway points out that her relationship with Seven began in a brig nine months before, and warns Seven that she can't always be her friend since she's her captain. Seven jokes that she doesn't understand, but if they are assimilated then their minds will become one and she will then. Janeway cringes and says she's glad the ex-Borg learned something from humans.

Seven frees herself and then Janeway, who heads to the bridge to confront Arcturus while Seven goes to engineering to reroute the Dauntless. She is unsuccessful, because Arcturus locks in the coordinates; Janeway is similarly unsuccessful in convincing him that his quest for vengeance against her will cost him his opportunity to save his memories of his people and thus his entire culture. Voyager fires upon the alien ship and beams Seven and Janeway back just before the Dauntless enters Borg space and is threatened with assimilation.

Voyager travels three hundred light years closer to home than they were before, but the slipstream collapses and the crew discovers that the technology is not safe for their engines. Janeway and Seven play Velocity again, but Seven wants to keep working on the slipstream so she can get the crew home. Janeway doesn't mind playing another game this time even though she was winning.

Analysis:

This was one of Voyager's better episodes this season, but like most of the better episodes this season, its plot was recycled from a previous science fiction series - in this case, Space 1999's "The Bringers of Wonder," where evil aliens pretended to give the crew super-fast ships but were really only trying to lure them to destruction. What made "Hope and Fear" work was the unexpected motivation of Arcturus: he had a personal grudge against Janeway, which explained why he would go to all the time, trouble, and expense of manufacturing a Starfleet-model ship which appeared to have been made in the Alpha Quadrant. Having one's species destroyed by the Borg is a believable reason for squandering one's life work on punishing Janeway and crew.

That the linguistic expert would turn out to be a liar and a forger was predictable, but that wasn't really a problem: the suspense built well, especially when it became apparent that his technology was right on the money even if his motives were not. The new propulsion drive made no sense - why didn't it just open a rift into fluidic space, or something? - but then again, warp doesn't either, and I will dispense with nits like Voyager locking onto Janeway even though she wasn't wearing a comm badge. From an entertainment standpoint, "Hope and Fear" was fine.

The problem is that Arcturus was absolutely right. The season closer deals with the question Chakotay posed in last season's final episode, "Scorpion Part I," namely whether a Starfleet crew has any business altering the balance of power in the Delta Quadrant and defending the Borg for their own selfish purposes - even without getting into a debate about the Prime Directive, the answer would seem to be a resounding NO. Sure, maybe Species 8472 would have destroyed Arcturus's people even if the Borg didn't get there first, and maybe the Borg would have found a way to assimilate them no matter what Species 8472 did, but as Arcturus pointed out, the decision never should have been up to Janeway, an outsider acting from selfish motivation.

Janeway at least looked good in this episode, less overtly styled as a frumpy old maid, even if her tennis dress can't compete with Seven's bodysuit. Winrich Kolbe always seems to catch Kate Mulgrew's best angles, and he's one of the more interesting directors in terms of angle and length of shots. Still, I'm sick of the endless mother-daughter Captain-Seven debate routine. How did they fall this far after last week's "One"? This has been a dismal season for Kathryn Janeway. Her relationship with Seven has proven bad for crew morale and for her own decisionmaking processes; her insistence on getting the crew home no matter how many millions have to die is frightening.

My very favorite part of "Hope and Fear" was when Seven warned B'Elanna that as an ex-Maquis, she could be prosecuted on Earth, and B'Elanna sniped back that as an ex-Borg, Seven would be even less popular. Good honest disagreeable behavior is a lot more interesting than the contrived philosophical debates between Janeway and Seven, and the forced bonding between them. But amidst the unrealism of Voyager, the farcical human relationships are silliest of all.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.