(written from a Production point of view)
|"Year of Hell"|
|VOY, Episode 4x08|
Production number: 176
First aired: 5 November 1997
|←||75th of 168 produced in VOY||→|
|←||75th of 168 released in VOY||→|
|←||489th of 728 released in all||→|
| Written By|
Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
|51268.4 (March 16 - May 28, 2374)|
|←||Arc: Year of Hell (2 of 3)||→|
Template:Disambiguate Obsessed with restoring the Krenim Imperium, no matter the cost, a Krenim military temporal scientist creates changes in history that all but destroy Voyager.
Some time prior to 2174, the brilliant Krenim military temporal scientist Annorax, of the once-powerful Krenim Imperium, developed and oversaw construction of a weapon ship whose primary weapon created causality paradoxes by causing temporal incursions. Using this ship, he supervised the complete genocide of a race that had removed the Krenim as the dominant power in the Delta Quadrant by causing the race to never come into existence. But the erasure of that race from history caused the near destruction of his own race and his attempts to undo this led to the erasure of the existence of his wife. For the last two hundred years, obsessed with restoring her along with the full glory of the Krenim Imperium, he and the crew of his temporal weapon ship have been creating one causality paradox after another, altering and re-altering history, erasing and restoring race after race.
A perfect day on a Class M planet. An advanced civilization lives here, as evidenced by a sprawling, technologically advanced metropolis. Suddenly, in the sky above, a tremendously large weapon appears. It fires a beam of energy at the city. The beam spreads out over the city and beyond. Every trace of civilization vanishes, replaced by virgin land, as if no one had ever been on the planet.
Aboard the ship that fired the beam, a young officer checks computer displays and reports to the ship's commander that the temporal incursion is complete and all organisms on the planet have been eradicated. The commander asks if their target event has been achieved. The man frustratedly reports that it has not been achieved. The commander speculates that more definitive action is necessary and he orders a course laid in for the homeworld of the Zahl. The entire species, he decides, must be erased from time.
Aboard the USS Voyager, the senior staff is gathered together in the newly-completed astrometrics lab to celebrate its completion. Seven of Nine is placed in charge of the lab. She and the co-developer of the lab, Ensign Harry Kim, demonstrate its abilities by showing them a scan of a new course to Earth they have plotted that, by Seven's estimate, will slash five years from the several decades of travel before them. Lieutenant jg B'Elanna Torres observes from the scan that they are entering a region of space with many Class M planets. Seven informs them of the owners of the region: the Zahl, a species the Borg have assigned a low resistance quotient.
Everyone is very pleased, but then The Doctor, begins a long, drawn-out speech he has prepared, much to their chagrin. However, he is interrupted when the bridge hails Captain Kathryn Janeway, informing her of an incoming hail from an approaching ship.
On the bridge, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok scans the vessel and reports that it is no threat as it is small, its weapons are limited, and its warp capacity is low. Janeway orders an on-screen answer to the hail. It is a Krenim vessel. The hailer, a Krenim commandant, appears. He furiously informs Janeway that they are trespassing in Krenim space and orders her to reverse course or face destruction, though his vessel is completely unable to harm Voyager. Janeway responds with a smirk and dismisses his threat with a disparaging comment about the "size" of what is in his "torpedo tubes". The commandant angrily cuts the communication. Janeway orders Voyager's course maintained but also orders yellow alert, just in case.
Voyager has entered Zahl space. She is at an all stop, with two large, Zahl ships near her. In the briefing room, a Zahl ambassador, who is very friendly and engaging, assures Janeway that there is nothing to fear from the Krenim, as the Zahl defeated them over a generation ago, despite their formidable weapons based on temporal science. Their ships, he tells her, still wander Zahl territory claiming the space as their own but they are no more than a nuisance. Janeway acknowledges this appraisal with a smile. However, as the ambassador begins inquiring about their epic journey, Kim hails from the bridge and informs Janeway the vessel has returned.
Janeway and the ambassador go onto the bridge. The vessel hails and Janeway orders an on-screen answer. It is the same Krenim commandant. He accuses Janeway of consorting with the Zahl. The ambassador angrily warns him to go away with a disparaging threat to seize his ship and ship him home in a cargo container. Janeway calms them down but then Kim reports a huge spatial distortion heading for them, five light years across and expanding. Tuvok scans it and, to the Zahl ambassador's great shock, reports it to be a space-time distortion originating from a vessel near the Zahl homeworld. Flight Controller Lt. jg Tom Paris tries to take the ship to warp speed in an attempt to get away from it, but the wave destabilizes the warp field, making escape impossible.
The wave hits all the vessels and everything changes. The Zahl ships vanish. The little Krenim vessel is transformed into a mighty Krenim warship. On Voyager's bridge, the Zahl ambassador vanishes. The bridge goes from pristine condition to red alert condition and appears damaged, as if that had been its state from the start. Lights flicker. Janeway and the other officers go from being relaxed but alert to being tense and disheveled. A crewmember lies dead on the floor.
The ship shudders from the warship's fire. Tuvok reports their shields are at 17 percent. Before the wave, they were at full strength. The Krenim vessel hails. The Kremim commandant appears, but instead of being impotently angry, he is deadly confident. He offers Janeway to forgo of the execution of her crew if she will surrender. When she coldly refuses, he warns her to prepare to be boarded and ends the communication. Janeway orders battle stations, remarking to Chakotay that "this is turning into the week of hell."
Voyager is pummeled by the Krenim warship. The warship's torpedoes easily penetrate the ship's deflector shields. Chakotay cannot understand why, but Tuvok answers that the torpedoes are not photonic, but chronitonic; they are getting through their shields because they are in temporal flux. Janeway gives the order to flee at warp speed, as they are defenseless. With their escape complete, she orders a 24-hour tactical alert and orders Tuvok to find a way to modify the shields against the Krenim torpedoes.
The ship that caused the change in the timeline is Annorax's temporal weapon ship. The Krenim weapon revised the timeline so that the Zahl never existed, hence the Krenim were never defeated, and the entire region was always Krenim-controlled space. The commander, Annorax himself, is in his chambers aboard his ship. He holds a sealed glass pyramid containing a small lock of red hair. He gazes at it with evident grief. The young officer, named Obrist, enters and, with dignified excitement, reports that the erasure of the Zahl from history has restored the Krenim Imperium to 98% of the power it once had; 849 worlds over 5,000 parsecs. However, Annorax asks him whether or not a certain colony, the one at Kyana Prime, was restored.
Obrist tells him that in this timeline, the Imperium's territory does not extend so far as to cause the Kyana Prime colony to exist. He does so in a voice that shows he has been asked this question before and has always had the same answer. Annorax disappointedly responds that they have failed then and orders him to start calculations for another temporal incursion. Behind his back, Obrist hangs his head down and shakes it in an exasperated, frustrated manner. He earnestly pleads that they have never ever achieved this level of success in restoring the Imperium in two hundred years of attempts. If they do another incursion, it could all be lost again, but Annorax sternly orders him to obey. Obrist acknowledges and leaves.
Voyager is chased by a Krenim warship. A torpedo slams into her the junction between the saucer section and the stardrive. The bridge looks in worse condition than before as Voyager has been suffering incessant Krenim attacks. Tuvok's attempts to modify the shields against the Krenim chroniton torpedoes have failed. However, Chakotay notices the warship's aft shields are down but Voyager's own weapons are non-functional. Meanwhile, The Doctor hails from the sickbay and informs them that a power overload is occurring there. Kim tries to stop it but his attempts fail.
Janeway gets an idea. She orders Tuvok to arm four of their eleven remaining photon torpedoes and deploy them like mines. He does so and her tactics work. The Krenim warship runs into the free-floating torpedoes and is destroyed. But then Janeway's attention is drawn to the impending destruction of the deck that the sickbay is on, due to the power overload.
The overload spreads quickly throughout the deck. As the computer counts down, The Doctor urgently herds his patients and other crewmembers into a Jefferies tube, where they will be safe. But as he is about to close the hatch, he sees two crewmembers, Emmanuel and Strickler, running desperately toward the hatch. He waits for them until the computer counts the last second before the deck blows. But they do not make it to the Jefferies tube and he closes the hatch. Much of the deck explodes outward in a huge line of flame and debris along the top of the saucer section.
The ship is so violently shaken by the explosion that all officers on the bridge are knocked off their feet or out of their seats. Kim reports the destruction of 43 sections on that deck. Tuvok gives a casualty report, which includes the deaths of the two crewmembers that did not make it to the Jefferies tube. Janeway ends the red alert and looks around at the damage on the bridge. Most of the lights are out, console displays flicker and debris is strewn everywhere. She gives Chakotay the bridge and goes to her ready room.
Janeway's ready room is in even worse condition than the bridge. All lights are out and debris covers almost the entire floor and her desk. Her desktop monitor is completely destroyed. Chakotay comes to see her. He advises her that they and the crew should abandon ship as their strategy of trying to modify the shields to defend against the Krenim torpedoes is not working and the ship is being decimated. But Janeway staunchly disagrees stating that if they separate, they will be unable to pool their talents and will be even more vulnerable to the Krenim. They will stay on the ship as long as the ship remains in one piece. Chakotay accepts this as Paris hails them from the bridge and informs them of yet another attack.
Torres and Kim are trapped in a dark, debris-strewn turbolift car. Torres has been seriously injured. The two have been there for six hours. They pass the time playing "guess what I am thinking of" games. Torres, despite her pain, stubbornly tries to think of the answer to Kim's latest puzzle, but then Seven of Nine pries the door open and frees them. She informs them that the last attack rendered the entire turbolift system nonfunctional. Torres wants to go to the Jefferies tubes on Deck 11 to try to repair the EPS relays there but Kim insists that she go to The Doctor, who has set up triage facilities in the mess hall. She agrees, and Seven goes to Deck 11 instead. Meanwhile on the bridge, in front of the flickering master systems display, Janeway, Chakotay, and Paris discuss an idea that Paris has come up with: using transverse bulkheads to seal off sections of the ship in the event of a breach, a very real possibility, given the ship's current state and the Krenim attacks. Janeway agrees to Paris' plan. The Doctor hails from the mess hall and calls Paris, a trained medic, to assist him.
On Deck 11, Seven opens a Jefferies tube hatch but just as she is about to climb in, she sees an object lodged in the tube's wall. She climbs in, moves close to it and scans it with a tricorder. It is an undetonated Krenim chroniton torpedo. She urgently hails Tuvok and informs him of her discovery. He orders her to hold her position and not try to disarm it.
Tuvok arrives in the Deck 11 Jefferies tube and sees the torpedo and decides that the safest option is to cordon off the tube with a level 10 force field in order to contain the explosion as the warhead is destabilizing and the explosion will likely soon occur. But Seven takes the opportunity to scan it and ascertain its temporal variance, which can then be used to finally modify the deflector shields against the torpedoes. Tuvok, however, drags her away, toward the hatch. She succeeds in finding the variance, 1.47 microseconds, but then the torpedo begins a low whine, the precursor to exploding. Tuvok shields Seven and the explosion catches him in the face.
Voyager is in a terrible state. Janeway records in her log that the replicator system was severely damaged in the latest attack, forcing the crew to live on emergency rations. Environmental controls are failing and seven decks are now uninhabitable. The crew, grimy and weary, struggle on.
The bridge is now totally wrecked as Janeway attempts to repair the science station when Chakotay gives her a birthday gift: a silver pocket watch he replicated for her months earlier. But she tells him to recycle it, in their current condition nonessentials are a luxury they cannot afford.
Tuvok, now completely blind from the chroniton torpedo blast in the Deck 11 Jefferies tube, shaves with a straight-edge razor in the remains of his quarters. Seven of Nine comes to lead him on his morning rounds. She has devoted herself to being his eyes. Before they leave his quarters, she informs him of an idea she has developed on how to modify the deflector shields to defend against the Krenim torpedoes, using the temporal variance she measured from the torpedo that blinded Tuvok. He decides that they should go to deflector control to try it.
As they make their way along the darkened, debris-strewn corridors, Chakotay's voice comes through the com system, warning of another incoming attack and ordering all hands to battle stations. Tuvok orders Seven to go to deflector control and bring the modified shields on-line, while he quickly makes his way to the bridge, feeling along the walls.
Upon arrival at the bridge, Tuvok goes to his tactical station. Blind, he cannot see the display but he has the computer initiate a tactile interface, allowing him to operate the controls and read the displays by touch. Janeway orders an onscreen view of the approaching Krenim warship. She orders Paris to try to evade them while she and Chakotay pester Seven to hurry with the shields.
Seven succeeds in bringing them on-line. The warship fires on them. The first torpedo misses due to Paris' piloting skills, but the second hits. This time the hit causes no damage. Seven's modifications work perfectly. Janeway, with a defiant sneer, orders Tuvok to hail the warship. She advises them to stand down, as Voyager is no longer defenseless against them. They do not answer. She orders Paris to maintain course through Krenim space.
The temporal weapon ship approaches another planet, home to a race called the Garenor. Annorax orders the ship taken into orbit and the weapon to be fully powered and fired. It has the same effect as seen on the Zahl colony. Every trace of civilization vanishes, as if it never existed, and the space-time shock wave created radiates out away from the planet.
On Voyager, Kim reports the approach of the wave. Even if Voyager were untouched, she could not outrun it, so she has absolutely no chance now in her current ruined state. The wave hits. But the temporal shields protect her as they did against the Krenim torpedoes.
However, the Krenim warship has no such protection. Janeway and the bridge officers watch, shocked as it is reduced from being a large, mighty warship to a small ship with limited armaments that would pose no threat to an undamaged Voyager. A baffled Kim reports that the ship is Krenim but it is no longer the warship they were just facing. Chakotay scans the region from the command console between his and the captain's seats and reports that the region has suddenly changed. Before the wave, the area was filled with Krenim colonies and warships, now there are no colonies and only a few small ships. History appears to have been changed so that the Kremim Imperium never existed. Janeway orders Kim to route the data on the wave to astrometrics and leaves to go there, commenting that their troubles might just be over.
Aboard the temporal weapon ship, Obrist notes the erasure of the Krenim Imperium with great consternation. He reports to Annorax that the incursion has gone terribly wrong, for some reason. Annorax cannot believe it, insisting that their calculations were perfect. Obrist searches the sensor data and finds the explanation: Voyager's new temporal shields. They caused a discrepancy in the calculations. Annorax orders a course be set to go to Voyager.
Astrometrics is as ruined as every other area on the ship, but Seven manages to get its sensors up and running and finds its database intact. Janeway orders her to call up a previous scan of the area. It shows how the region was: under the boot of the Krenim Imperium, full of Krenim colonies. A new scan confirms what Chakotay found, that the Imperium does not exist. History has been changed by the wave. On Janeway's order, Seven tracks its source and finds that it originated near the Garenor homeworld. She further notes with confusion that the sensors show that the Garenor do not exist anymore, they were erased from history by the wave. She theorizes that the Krenim may be responsible for the wave as they do have temporal weapons. But this makes no sense to Janeway, why would they change history to undermine themselves? She speculates that there is a "piece of the puzzle still missing." She is in the midst of ordering another scan when the ship is suddenly shaken.
Annorax's ship arrives. Aboard, Obrist confirms that Voyager is generating a temporal field. Annorax orders two of her crew collected as samples, along with a small piece of the hull. He also orders preparations for another temporal incursion... against Voyager. He cannot have this anomalous temporal component disrupting his mission calculations. He intends to eliminate it.
On Voyager, Kim reports with surprise that the entire vessel is in temporal flux, like the Krenim torpedoes, the ship actually exists outside of space-time. Chakotay rises and walks toward the viewscreen, looking at the vessel. He stops at the conn console, beside Paris. Suddenly, both men vanish, transported away. Janeway immediately orders efforts to retrieve them. Kim tries but fails.
A hail comes from the weapon ship. Janeway orders it answered on-screen. Annorax appears. He calmly, but sternly, tells Janeway to identify herself and the ship, which she does. He reciprocates and observes that Voyager is not from the Delta Quadrant. Janeway confirms this but when she asks about the change in history, noting the erasure of the existence of the Krenim Imperium, he curtly responds that it is none of her business. When he tells her that she has diverted him from his mission, she realizes that he is responsible for the change in the timeline. He does not deny it. He assures her that it is nothing personal but Voyager must be erased as well, informing her that this will restore the lives of countless millions. With a curt apology, he ends the communication.
The ship fires its temporal weapon on Voyager. So great is its power that the temporal shields are quickly degraded. Kim reports tensely that the beam is pushing Voyager out of the space-time continuum; they are being erased from history. However, Seven scans the weapon ship and reports that its mass prevents it from achieving warp speeds in excess of warp 6. Thus, Voyager, whose top warp speed is in excess of warp 9, can escape. But Tuvok cautions that damage to the ship's structural integrity means that warp speed will cause extreme damage.
But they have no choice. Janeway orders Paris' transverse bulkheads be brought online, orders all hands to get away from the hull's outer sections and, taking the helm, engages warp drive. They escape the temporal beam. But large, jagged pieces of the outer hull are seen peeling off and falling away.
Janeway calls a meeting of surviving crewmembers in the remains of the mess hall. She sadly but sternly informs them of the inability of the ship to sustain a crew any longer. She is forced to make the decision Chakotay had suggested weeks before: she orders them to abandon ship. The senior staff, she announces, will stay behind with her and attempt to rescue Chakotay and Paris. She dismisses them.
The escape pod hatches open and the pods, carrying the rest of the crew, emerge from the remains of the hull and sail off into the unknown.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 51268.4. This morning's attack destroyed the power grid on Deck 11. No casualties this time but the Replicator system was badly damaged. We've gone to emergency rations. As a result, the situation has gotten a little worse. Environmental controls continue to fail, seven decks have been rendered uninhabitable and we've had to relocate the crew. Quarters are close, nerves are frayed, and I'm not sure what's more difficult to maintain - Voyager's systems or the crew's morale. What's important... is that we're together, working towards a single goal - survival."
"Who would've thought that this eclectic group of voyagers could actually become a family? Starfleet; Maquis; Klingon; Talaxian; hologram; Borg; even Mr. Paris."
- - The Doctor, giving a long-winded speech at the commissioning of the astrometrics lab
"This is turning into the week of hell."
- - Captain Janeway, in a twist of irony
"You have the bridge... what's left of it."
- - Kathryn Janeway, to Chakotay
"I don't respond well to threats."
- - Kathryn Janeway, to the Krenim commandant
"With all due respect... unless you've got something a little bigger in your torpedo tubes, I'm not turning around."
- - Kathryn Janeway, to the Krenim commandant
"Sir, you were correct. The Zahl homeworld was the focal point. Its erasure has produced a complete temporal restoration."
"If I told you to count the stars in the cosmos, would the task ever be complete?"
"Our attempts may be sufficient; they may even be relatively successful, but they will never be complete. Choose your words with more precision."
- - Obrist and Annorax
"The Titanic? As I recall, it sank."
"Let's just say I've made a few improvements."
- - Captain Janeway and Lt. (JG) Tom Paris, on Lieutenant Paris's inspiration for upgrades to Voyager
- - Commander Chakotay and Captain Janeway
"Shaving is hardly a life-threatening activity."
- - Tuvok
"We're just about done rebuilding the internal security sensors and we are ready to program the audio signal. Do you want it to say 'Intruder alert' or should we try something a little more dramatic like 'Warning, intruder alert', or 'Intruders among us. Danger! Danger! Intruders among us.'"
"Intruder alert' will suffice."
- - Neelix and Tuvok
"Krenim vessels, this is the captain of Voyager. You may have noticed we have a defense against your torpedoes now. I suggest you stand down."
"Their mistake. Bring the ship about. We're going through their space whether they like it or not."
- - Janeway and Tuvok
"He's trying to erase us from history."
- - Captain Janeway as Annorax fires on Voyager
"Each of you has done your best, but determination alone isn't going to hold this ship together. It's time we faced reality. We've lost 9 decks, more than half this ship has been destroyed. Life support is nearly gone; Voyager can no longer sustain its crew. I promised myself that I would never give this order, that I would never break up this family; but asking you to stay... would be asking you to die."
- - Captain Janeway
Story and Script
- This episode's plot was primarily influenced by "Before and After", a third season installment of Star Trek: Voyager that gives a preview of this episode by featuring both the Krenim and hints of a timeline in which Voyager undergoes the "Year of Hell", becoming badly damaged in the process. Episode co-writer Brannon Braga explained, "Although I don't like to do episodes that rely on other episodes for exposition, I loved the phrase 'Year of Hell' that Ken Biller came up with for that episode. I loved the look of the show. I loved the look of a destroyed Voyager. I wanted to do a whole two-parter like that." This episode's other co-writer, Joe Menosky, remembered, "This started with the phrase 'Year of Hell' which came out of 'Before and After'. Brannon loved the image [....] The optical of the hull of the ship messed up in 'Before and After' because we were being attacked by the Krenim [...] stayed, especially in Brannon's mind. He kept saying, 'I just want to wreck the ship.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Menosky also related, "What Brannon often does is come up with an image before there's even a story idea [....] The imagistic inspiration for 'Year of Hell', without which it wouldn't have been created as an episode, was the ship all wrecked, a great look." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 75)
- The reuse of the phrase "Year of Hell" suggested other elements, such as having the two-parter span a year. Brannon Braga remembered, "The notion of having a story that took place over the course of a year [...] I thought was a very fresh structural approach." The event also implied a reuse of the time-meddling Krenim. Joe Menosky commented, "We tend to do one big time thing a year, we're thinking should it be time travel? Despite the fact that it wasn't time travel the Krenim used some kind of temporal thing in their torpedoes." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- Indeed, considering the Krenim's destructive temporal capabilities led the writers to explore time travel in an unusual way. Joe Menosky recollected, "Brannon said, 'Time is a weapon. What does that mean?' I said, 'What if there was this big Death Star-like weapon, and you target a planet, and it blows it out of the time continuum? What you have done is erased a thread from the time continuum, everything resets, and suddenly the present is different.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Braga was ultimately of the opinion that Annorax's meddling with time was analogous to an example of alternate history. "If you can imagine, to use an analogy, that the Nazis, after losing the Second World War, invented something like [Annorax's time ship] to erase the Americans from history so that they never existed. It would change the outcome of things," Braga speculated. "But what the Nazis don't realize is that the Americans provided a crucial antibody that helped the Germans fight off a deadly virus, and so they realize they've got to do something else to history. But that doesn't work either. When you pull one thread, another comes undone." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 15) By having the time continuum messed around in such a way but without departing from the present, the writers managed to come up with a method of doing a time travel story without actually doing time travel. "That was enough for us to start running with this as an episode," Menosky recalled. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- Tuvok was originally to have been more badly wounded in this episode than losing only his eyesight. "We were actually going to have him blind and missing a leg," Brannon Braga remembered, "and we were going to do a Forrest Gump-type of digital effect. He was going to have many physical problems, but for production reasons, we ended up with just blindness." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 100)
- Voyager's engineering and sickbay departments are not shown in this episode. This is because, to reduce the costs associated with preparing the sets to be seen as battle-damaged, the writers were asked to place the action on as few of the Voyager standing sets as possible. (citation needed • edit) As such, the events aboard the ship take place almost entirely within the corridors, on the bridge, and in the mess hall.
- This episode was originally to have been Star Trek: Voyager's third season finale. (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 12; Delta Quadrant, p. 207) The episode was given some minor rewrites, with many Kes lines given to Seven of Nine. (citation needed • edit)
- This installment's final draft script was submitted on 5 August 1997. 
- The writing of this episode proved to be generally easier than what would follow: the development of most of the two-parter's conclusion. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
Cast and Characters
- Brannon Braga believed that the concept embodied in the character of Annorax – a villain who uses time as a weapon – was (in common with the idea of spanning the episode's duology over the course of a year) "a very fresh [...] approach." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- Before portraying Annorax in this episode's two-parter, Kurtwood Smith previously played the Efrosian Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Thrax in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Things Past". He believed his DS9 role was somewhat responsible for his casting here. "I guess the producers liked what I did on Deep Space Nine," he said, "and asked me to come back, which was fine with me." Ultimately, he enjoyed playing Annorax more than he had liked portraying his DS9 character. The actor stated, "Because Thrax was actually in the imagination of another character [...] he wasn't quite as interesting to play as Annorax. He didn't have nearly as much to do." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18)
- Kurtwood Smith was not a regular viewer of the Star Trek spin-off series but found himself watching Voyager to prepare for his role in this episode and the next. Shortly after completing work on the "Year of Hell" two-parter, Smith admitted, "Lately, I watched more of Voyager [than usual] because I was preparing to do my episodes and wanted to get a feel for what they do, how they do it, [and] what's expected of the guest actors." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18)
- Both Joe Menosky and executive producer Jeri Taylor were extremely pleased with the performance that – for this episode and the next – Kurtwood Smith delivered, Menosky later describing Smith as "incredible." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Taylor appreciatively stated, "We got a wonderful performance from Kurtwood Smith." (Star Trek Monthly issue 36, p. 13)
- Brannon Braga observed that the cast of this episode seemed to be enjoying the process of working on the episode. He reckoned, "The actors I think had a lot of fun with it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 109)
- Tuvok actor Tim Russ found that performing a blind Tuvok was somewhat challenging, despite also being refreshingly different from how he usually played the character. The reason he found it difficult was that his instincts, which he could not – on this occasion – allow, were normally to look another performer in the eye when they were speaking to him and to look straight at a member of the production crew if they had called to him from off-camera. "I had to reshoot it or do another take because I looked where I shouldn't have been looking, at the other actors," remembered Russ. He expected that his task of playing this role could have been aided, artificially. "I would almost rather have played it with something covering my eyes, rather than to pretend, because it would have been even more real for me," the actor admitted. "I think it would have changed the performance, if I could not see where I was going. I would have loved to have had that handicap somehow." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 100)
- Tim Russ also believed that this episode's two-parter contains an insightful exploration of the relationship between Tuvok and Seven of Nine. "You see how this bond could have occurred," he noted. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 101)
- Actor Robert Picardo was impressed by the visuals in this episode's two-parter. He enthused, "The 'Year in Hell' [sic] two-parter was really like a movie. The opticals were just as exciting as those you see on the big screen." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18)
Production and Effects
- Kurtwood Smith found the production schedule of this episode to be somewhat overwhelming. "Because of the way the schedule worked," he recalled, "all of my scenes in the first part [of the two-parter] were compressed into one day. That was a little intense. We also shot the biggest, heaviest scenes at the day's end, so it was hard to have much energy by the time we got to them. Otherwise, it was great. The crew is wonderful." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #18)
- The stuck turbolift footage in this episode was re-used from TNG: "Disaster".
- One of the shots from the scene where Seven of Nine and Tuvok try to crawl away from the unstable chronoton torpedo on Deck 12 has been sped up, to make it seem like Seven and Tuvok are crawling faster.
- Joe Menosky was delighted with Allan Kroeker's work on this episode and said of both parts of the "Year of the Hell" two-parter (despite each of the two episodes having been helmed by a different director) that they "were amazingly well directed." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Similarly, Brannon Braga enthused about this episode, "The production team really, really pulled it off." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 108 & 109)
- Joe Menosky was also thrilled by the chronological subtitles that are used in this episode and the next, which he once referred to as "great." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- The CGI effects of this episode's two-parter were provided by CGI supplier Foundation Imaging during an extremely busy period for the company; Foundation was also working on effects for DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels" and several other projects. CGI Effects Director Ron Thornton remarked, "We were absolutely hammering it out." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #16) Visual effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore and coordinator Elizabeth Castro were also instrumental in the creation of effects for this episode (as opposed to supervisor Mitch Suskin and coordinator Arthur Cardron, who worked on the second half of the "Year of Hell" two-parter). (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) The look of this episode was added to in the compositing bay, by animation effects artist Greg Rainoff (who did likewise for the concluding half of the "Year of Hell" two-parter). (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 108-109)
- Creating the look of Voyager as it becomes more and more badly damaged, in this episode and the next, was a process that involved many steps. Ron Moore explained, "We got a lot of drawings from [senior illustrator] Rick Sternbach of different ways we could damage the Voyager. Then we made our plans all the way through the script." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Ron Thornton commented, "Fred Kuramura worked for several weeks building the different versions of Voyager that go through [various stages of destruction]. There were about four different stages of Voyager, in varying levels of disrepair. That took quite a lot of time, but it's one of those things that you never really see." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine, issue #16)
- The elements of this episode that Ron Moore and Elizabeth Castro established included the look of the Krenim weapon ship, the temporal change wave and Voyager's astrometrics lab. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- The events of this episode take place between March 16th and May 28th, 2374; Day 65 = May 20, and the episode ends on day 73.
- Although "Before and After"'s depiction of the "Year of Hell" is seen from the viewpoint of Kes – as she travels through time – her timeline in that episode is not related to any timeline seen in this episode, as Kes is obviously no longer aboard the ship at this point (having left in the earlier fourth season installment "The Gift"). Despite the differences between the timeline featured in "Before and After" and the one shown in this episode, Brannon Braga believed that fans would nonetheless understand that this episode shows an event first depicted in "Before and After". "The fans will recognize that that's what this is," Braga predicted. When asked whether Kes' absence from this episode's two-parter was problematic, Braga replied, "Not at all, because the episode also deals with [Annorax's extremely powerful influence on time]." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 15)
- At the end of "Before and After", Janeway asks Kes to reveal any information on the Krenim that Kes learned during her time jumps and Kes agrees to file a report. Even though the dialog from "Year of Hell" doesn't directly reflect on any of the knowledge Kes shared, Tuvok picks up on the Krenim torpedo being in temporal flux as soon as the first torpedo hits, thus proving that Kes' report was indeed put to good use even though it wasn't officially acknowledged. However, it is unclear why the report that Kes was supposed to file wouldn't have included the precise chronoton frequency which would have enabled Voyager to implement their own time-flux shielding. This information was needed to fix Kes' condition in "Before and After". In this timeline, however, the frequency of the torpedo is still 1.47 microseconds, as it was in the earlier episode, with Seven of Nine crawling through the Jefferies tube rather than Kes.
- In one scene, Seven of Nine tells Harry Kim and B'Elanna Torres that the Borg were present when Zefram Cochrane launched his first warp-driven starship. She claims it is "complicated" when they ask her to elaborate. This is an acknowledgment of the events of Star Trek: First Contact, in which the Borg travel through time to assimilate Humans and remove their resistance, similar to what the Krenim did to the Zahl. This reference to First Contact is also somewhat of an inside joke, as Brannon Braga co-wrote both this episode and that film. Having initially intended to insert an in-joke reference to First Contact in "Scorpion, Part II" (yet another Star Trek production that Brannon Braga co-wrote), Braga thereafter wrote the similar reference into this episode, doing so in a way that he later described as "a lighter fashion." Braga also said of the in-joke in this episode, "It's not a plot nod [....] It's just a little nod to the fans, who'll get a kick out of it." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 15)
- This episode establishes that Kathryn Janeway's birthday is May 20th.
- The astrometrics lab is unveiled for the first time in this episode, along with Captain Janeway's new shorter hairstyle, which she maintains for the remaining duration of the show.
Reception and Aftermath
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.7 million homes, and a 7% share. 
- Midway through the fourth season of Star Trek: Voyager, Brannon Braga was particularly excited about this episode's two-parter and promised, "It will be fun." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 12) He later stated, "I was very pleased with 'Year of Hell'. It was very tight [....] It was one of those rare episodes, and even rarer two-parters, where all of the elements came together." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 109)
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 88)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 5 out of 5 stars. (Star Trek Monthly issue 39, p. 62)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 209) gives the installment a rating of 9 out of 10.
- The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode and the concluding part of its two-parter as being, together, one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Voyager.
- Several costumes from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including John Austin's costume which was later re-used by Erick Hunter in the episode "Tsunkatse"  and Keith Rayve's distressed Starfleet uniform. 
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.4, catalog number VHR 4625, 4 May 1998
- In feature-length form, as part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: Voyager - Movies: Volume 2 (with "Scorpion"), catalogue number VHR 5072, 18 September 2000
- As part of the VOY Season 4 DVD collection
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Time Travel collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Commander Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Lieutenant Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Ensign Harry Kim
Special guest star
- Peter Slutsker as the Krenim Commandant
- Rick Fitts as a Zahl official
- Deborah Levin as Lang
- Sue Henley as Brooks
- Majel Barrett as the computer voice
- David Keith Anderson as Ashmore
- John Austin as a Krenim officer
- John Copage as a science division officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Bob Shuttleworth as a Krenim officer
- Adrian Tafoya as a Krenim officer
- John Thaddeus as a Krenim officer
2342; 47; Alpha Quadrant; antibody; astrometrics; Borg; chroniton; chroniton torpedo; Class M; Cochrane, Zefram; Cray; crew quarters; Delta Quadrant; Earth; emergency hand actuator; emergency rations; Emmanuel; escape pod; Federation; First Contact; force field; Gable, Clark; Garenor; Grant, Cary; Grid 005; hull breach; inaprovaline; Template:ShipClass; intruder alert; Jefferies tube; Kelly, Grace; Klingon; Krenim; Krenim Imperium; Krenim patrol ship; Krenim weapon ship; Krenim warship; Kyana Prime; Maquis; mess hall; Milky Way Galaxy; Neelix; parrises squares; parsec; Phoenix; R'Cho, M'Kota; red alert; Rilnar; sickbay; spacetime continuum; Starfleet Academy; Strickler; structural integrity field; tactile interface; Talaxian; temporal disruption; temporal energy; temporal incursion; temporal shield; temporal science; Titanic, RMS; To Catch a Thief; transverse bulkheads; tricorder; turbolift; Vulcans; "Year of Hell"; yellow alert; Zahl; Zahl starship; Zahl homeworld
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"Year of Hell, Part II"