The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Year of Hell

For over two hundred years, Krenim scientist Annorax has been using his timeship to alter history in the hopes of restoring his people’s great empire. When Voyager enters Krenim space, they are attacked by the newly restored Imperium, beginning a long year of struggle to keep the ship and crew safe even as space and time itself changes around them.

The “Year of Hell” was first introduced during Kes’s travels through time in Before and After, but of course it plays out somewhat differently here. I think we all know by the end of part one that any episode that sees so much damage to Voyager and its crew is going to have its timeline reset at the end, but we can still enjoy the ride.

And there’s plenty to enjoy here. For all that I found many of DS9’s big two-part episodes to be a bit disappointing, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how well most of Voyager’s have held up. Year of Hell has everything you want from a two-parter: parts of Voyager get blown up; we get an insight into a tortured and mentally unstable villain; Janeway goes into full-on lone commando mode, and things get blown up or erased from the timeline. It’s all good stuff, and fun to watch.

Temporal shenanigans

We have to take some things with a pinch of salt in Star Trek, and even more so in this episode – after all, can we really be expected to believe that time has moods, and is punishing Annorax? Can we walk away from the episode without worrying that it’s not all just going to happen again? Even if we can accept those things, there are still questions to be asked.

  • When considering erasing the comet that diverted Voyager into Krenim space, why is the only option to completely erase it from existence? Given that Annorax’s ship exists out of space time, presumably they could travel to a point about a week before Voyager encountered the comet, and either blow it up or tractor it out of the way.
  • Even though Annorax’s crew live outside of spacetime, time still seems to flow locally within the ship – hence, why aren’t they ageing?

Other points

  • After her lungs are damaged, Janeway gets The Doctor to dose her up with trioxin. McCoy supposedly gave “tri-ox compound” to Kirk to help him breathe in Vulcan’s thin atmosphere.
  • The frequency of the chroniton torpedo is the same as it was in Before and After, although Seven still has to measure it directly instead of just referring to Kes’s report.
  • One of the questions in Harry and B’Elanna’s trivia game is about the Phoenix, humanity’s first warp ship – as seen in Star Trek First Contact. Even though this is a major historical event, B’Elanna can’t remember the name of the ship. Seven of Nine also admits that the Borg were present at these events, indicating that although the Borg Queen and her drones were all destroyed, the knowledge still made it back to the Collective. Of course it did – we’re just thinking in petty three-dimensional ways.
  • Janeway switches to her new, shorter hairstyle in this episode.
  • The Astrometrics lab that Harry and Seven have been building is finally unveiled here. It will become Seven’s main base of operations for the remainder of the series.
  • Surely the crew are less safe in vulnerable escape pods than they would be on Voyager, where they could help to repair and maintain the ship.

Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 11

Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 7

Number of times the entire crew gets kicked off the ship: 2

Number of times Voyager gets destroyed: 2

Summary – Year of Hell: In which Janeway has a very bad year.

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