When Voyager grants passage to the linguistically gifted Arturis, he is able to help the crew decode the message they received from Starfleet several months previously. The message directs them to the location of a brand new starship, the Dauntless, which possesses an experimental quantum slipstream drive that could get the crew home in a matter of months. But is this amazing piece of technology perhaps too good to be true?
Instead of an epic two-parter, season four draws to a close with this one-off episode, which once again teases the possibility of Voyager getting home. Of course, we know it isn’t going to happen, so the bulk of the episode is spent waiting for the point where the crew’s hopes are dashed.
Along the way, we get to see their emotional reactions. Pretty much everyone is hopeful and excited about getting back to Earth – only Seven of Nine is reluctant to go. After all, she’s still adapting to life aboard Voyager, so the prospect of having to integrate into wider human society must seem very daunting. As an introvert, I get that entirely, but why do we have to be so Earth-centric? Yes, we as the audience can quickly and easily relate to Earth, but the Federation has 150 worlds and a whole bunch of starships. I’m sure even Seven could find some starship or colony where she would feel at home.
Getting back to the episode itself, and the rest is quite pedestrian. Predictably, the crew figures out that something is amiss, leading to a showdown between Arturis and Janeway. In a plot twist that reminded me of nothing so much as a Point Horror novel, it turns out that Arturis’s life was ruined by the events of Scorpion, and now he wants revenge. It’s hardly the most original storyline in the world, and it doesn’t especially shine here.
Points of Note
• B’Elanna seems surprisingly enthusiastic to return to the Alpha Quadrant, given that most of her Maquis friends are dead, and those who aren’t are present on Voyager. Even her boyfriend is on Voyager.
• Why is Earth and its solar system designated as Sector 001 by the Borg? It’s not their point of origin, after all.
• The Dauntless has designation NX-01A, which feels like it should be reserved for one of the Federation’s earliest starships. Indeed, in Enterprise, the Enterprise is NX-01. Of course, it was a fake starship, but no one’s suspicions were raised by this.
• Even if Arturis is a linguistic savant, how could he become fluent in a language after hearing a handful of words? He might be able to grasp grammatical rules and sentence structure very quickly, but he would still lack the basic vocabulary to start with.
• The episode can’t seem to decide whether the Starfleet message is encrypted, encoded, or perhaps both. Also, if the data really is missing and corrupted, it should be pretty much impossible to recover (unless there was lots of redundancy).
• This episode introduces Velocity, another 24th century sport.
Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 11
Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 7
Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 3
Number of times Voyager gets destroyed: 2
Summary – Hope and Fear: In which the latest way for Voyager to get home also turns out to be too good to be true.