76 – Year of Hell, Part 1

Grade: B

Year Of Hell (1997) on IMDb


An alien ship destroys an entire civilization on a planet, in an attempt to restore the timeline. They have failed, however, and the captain of the ship determines to eradicate every trace of the species from time. Meanwhile, Harry and Seven have created an astrometrics lab which will be 10 times more accurate than the star charts they have been currently using. Suddenly, Krenim ships attack Voyager.


This episode really is pretty good – I’m looking forward to seeing the next episode. The ending is an excellent setup and makes for a great cliff-hanger. I’ll tell you some things I liked about this episode.

About half-way through this episode, Chakotay suggests to abandon the ship and let the crew take escape pods. Janeway is furious and adamant about staying together and that this would be the best way to defend themselves. I didn’t like how easily and quickly Chakotay backs down. What’s even worse, Janeway eventually agrees with Chakotay and ends up telling everyone to abandon ship anyway. Maybe if the Captain had listened in the first place, fewer crewmen would have died during this episode.

In another scene, Chakotay gives Janeway a pocketwatch for her birthday. He admits that he replicated it months ago before they came across the Krenim, and he explained why he was giving her this particular watch. It’s a replica of a watch that was used by a captain of a British ship which was believed lost for many years. He eventually returned to England with a ship that was hardly even sea-worthy. Most (perhaps all) of his crew were dead, but he still had the watch. It’s a wonderful sentiment, and obviously a very special gift. Chakotay is an impressive character – he certainly put a lot of thought into this gift.

Janeway, however, sees only the material used to replicate that watch and not the sentiment behind it. She very coldly orders him to recycle it since it represents a pair of boots or some other necessary piece of equipment that can help them survive. Janeway is just cold. She’s about as emotionless and robotic as Data was on Next Generation. And yet, even he could understand the nuances that when someone gives you a gift, the correct response is “thank you very much,” even if it’s something you don’t want.

Back to Chakotay, though. The look on his face when she orders him to destroy his extremely thoughtful gift really tells the entire story. He is obviously very hurt by it and very confused why his gift was rejected. He could not have given her a more thoughtful or appropriate gift, and she could not have been more cold or seemed less appreciative. It is beautifully written and wonderfully acted by both of them.

These two scenes really tell us all we need to know about Captain Janeway. She obviously believes that emotion is weakness. She doesn’t want anyone on the ship to see her second-guess herself. She won’t accept criticism or suggestions from anyone else on board. Personally, I think all of this means she’s unsure of herself, and she’s afraid of being seen as she really is. She makes up for it by barking the loudest and most vehemently. Most of the time, I think she’s wrong, but she obviously feels the most important thing she can do as Captain is be adamant. This episode is really great character development. We don’t have to like the characters on the show, but we certainly do need to know them if it’s going to be successful.

At the end of this episode, Janeway gives the order to abandon ship. She encourages everyone by saying the she wants to find everyone again later “all in one piece with some interesting stories to tell.” Actually, I think it really would be interesting to hear the experiences of the crew out in the escape pods. Do some of them survive? Do they find an inhabitable planet and settle down? It would be great to have some episodes with these stories.

Of Note

There’s a scene in here when Torres and Kim are stuck in a turbolift, trying to beat each other in a game of trivia. Kim starts off giving clues for a movie called To Catch a Thief, starring Cary Grant. Garret Wang tries his best to impersonate Cary Grant here when he says his name, but it doesn’t really work too well. Anyway, Torres thinks it was Clark Gable. This is the second time I can think of in which Clark Gable was mentioned in a Star Trek episode. The other time was in City on the Edge of Forever, when Joan Collins tells Dr. McCoy that her boyfriend is taking her to a Clark Gable movie. It was funny that McCoy didn’t know who Clark Gable was, but Torres and Kim do. Kim actually didn’t know who Emelia Earhart was – remember?

Kim also mentions the events surrounding the Star Trek film “First Contact”, but doesn’t know the Borg were actually there. Of course Seven knows about it.