Year of Hell, Part OneBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:16 PM GMT
See Also: 'Year of Hell, Part One' Episode Guide
Day 1: The Krenim wipe out a planet to alter time, but decide that's not enough: they need to wipe out an entire species to restore their power in the region. Meanwhile, on Voyager, the crew celebrates the new astrometric sensors developed by Kim and Seven, which will cut five years off their journey by making more precise navigation possible. The Krenim arrive to announce that Voyager is in disputed territory and fire chronoton torpedoes, wreaking havoc on the ship and wiping the crew's new allies out of existence.
Day 4: The Krenim continue to attack Voyager, obliterating sickbay, killing several crewmembers. Chakotay suggests abandoning ship, but Janeway insists that they're stronger working as a team. Though the Krenim have restored ninety-eight percent of their empire, their leader Annorax insists that they'll keep altering time till they have restored the entire Imperium.
Day 47: After another attack, Torres and Kim are rescued by Seven, who finds an undetonated warhead inside the ship. Tuvok arrives to set up forcefields and orders her to leave, but Seven stays to ascertain the frequency of the temporal flux; when Tuvok lags behind to help her out, he is blinded by the explosion. The Doctor lectures Paris for wasting triage time trying to relieve Torres' pain.
Day 65: Seven perfects temporal shields based on the readings she gathered, so the ship is unaffected when the Krenim make another attempt to wipe a race out of history. But Voyager's presence throws off the Krenim calculations, and turns most of the Imperium into a pre-warp civilization. Annorax realizes that he must erase Voyager from history to make his quest successful.
Day 70: The Krenim take Chakotay and Paris as "samples" and prepare to destroy the ship, telling Janeway that her crew's deaths will save millions of lives. Janeway takes the ship to Warp 7 to escape, but the speed nearly destroys the hull. She is forced to evacuate the ship, maintaining the command crew in an attempt to retrieve Chakotay and Paris so that the entire group can rendezvous later on...if there is a "later on."
Whew, that was a long plot summary; that's because the story was quite engrossing. The Krenim, who made a brief appearance in last season's "Before and After," make wonderful villains - get in their way, and they can wipe your entire species out of existence. Annorax apparently has a personal stake in changing the timeline; his decision to continue temporal manipulation stems from the destruction of one outpost (which I will assume we will learn in Part Two is his home, or that of his true love).
It's obvious, though, how Part Two is going to end. The ship's a wreck, half the crew is dead; the only way they're going to get through this is to hit the reset button. Isn't it convenient that they're dealing with a species that has the capacity to alter or restore timelines? Like in First Contact, they're clearly going to alter the future to repair the past. As if the reuse of time-travel as a device weren't annoying enough, "Year of Hell" made reference to First Contact, in a scene where crewmembers playing Trivial Pursuit to pass time mention hero Zephram Cochrane and the events which comprise most of that film. Are sales of the videotape not up to spec, or is this an attempt to plug Voyager by association with the successful film, the same way Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan plugged The Sentinel throughout the commercial breaks?
There were some interesting character moments, like the Doc waxing poetic about the crew in one scene, then having to let two crewmembers die in the next, and Janeway turning down a birthday present from Chakotay because they can't afford to waste replicator matter. Paris and Torres were less adolescent and more human this episode than last, and I liked Chakotay offering Janeway what he knew was going to be an unpopular suggestion for surviving the crisis, which even he wasn't enamored of...and which Janeway was finally forced to accept. Once again, Seven got to do far too much saving the day, and once again Janeway wasn't involved nearly enough in the solutions: based on the previews, the Doc is going to relieve her of command next week, which isn't going to do much for her image as a leader.
For the most part, I enjoyed this episode. The pacing was terrific, the new astrometrics lab looked gorgeous, the shots of the battered ship were very effective. The continuity with last season's Krenim threat worked even if one did have to wonder why Kes didn't leave a report somewhere containing the information she learned about them, and why no one seemed to remember any of that incident, and why her non-presence wasn't an alteration of a timeline in the first place since she never would have come into contact with the chronoton particles since she wasn't on the ship to...never mind, like Janeway says, time paradoxes cause headaches. Unfortunately, like last season's time-travel sweeps-month two-parter "Future's End," it's likely that the denouement will leave Voyager where it started, passively watching the stars go by.
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.