77 – Year of Hell, Part 2

Grade: D+

Year Of Hell, Part II (1997) on IMDb


Voyager has taken refuge in a nebula, to try to make repairs to the ship and to hide from scavengers who want to steal technology and equipment from them. Janeway and Kim try to make some repairs to the ventilation system, and this causes irreparable harm to Janeway’s lungs, but she refuses treatment. The ship is a mess, but somehow, Janeway is determined to immediately rescue her crew and defeat the Krenim.


I just watched this today, and I have to say that this episode really made me angry, thanks to the dreaded Reset Button. In a nutshell, here’s what happens – Janeway destroys the timeship and they are returned to the same exact point in time as when Part 1 started. By the time this episode ends, there is not one thing that is different. Voyager endures no lasting damage, the characters undergo zero changes, and they are no closer to returning home to Earth as they were, supposedly 360 days before. Why? Because they just go back to the beginning of the previous episode and continue on their way.

They get pounded and nearly destroyed for an entire year by some race that seems to get stronger and weaker by the day, thanks to the Krenim timeship and how often it changes the timeline. Characters die, Janeway goes nuts, Chakotay and Paris almost have a fist fight, the Doctor loses his temper and threatens to bring charges against Janeway, and Tuvok even goes blind because of an explosion on the ship. And yet at the end of this episode, ALL OF THAT IS REVERSED! None of these characters will have to deal with ANY of these events. This episode means nothing! Just like the series, in my opinion. Nothing is changed by this stupid ship wandering around aimlessly in the Delta Quadrant.

I’m not surprised to hear that while the writers and creative staff literally strained themselves praising each other for the greatness of this episode, fans worldwide were livid and actually mailed angry letters to them to vehemently complain about yet another use of the Reset Button. I’m not surprised by this because these writers seem to be completely out of touch with what their fans really want to see. This series is a giant waste of time.

Brannon Braga forgets that the easiest way to create a ton of angry viewers is to create compelling drama for 89 minutes and then sucker-punch them with the “it was all a dream” ending.

And that’s exactly what happens here. Kurtwood Smith does an excellent job playing one of the best villains that this series ever produced. He’s not just some paper-thin bad guy who wants to destroy Voyager only because it’s in the script. He is actually a multi-layered character who coolly and calmly goes about his business, trying to restore the timeline to his liking, no matter what the consequences are.

Then the episode shows Janeway in contrast, who is completely out of her element here. She loses total control as she succumbs to emotional decision-making and ignores all logic. She decides to leave the nebula and come at the timeship in full force, even when the ship is only operating at minimal efficiency and when there are only 7 crewmembers on board. Seven recommends that they should stay in the nebula and take time to repair the ship rather than come out swinging and risk certain death. Janeway of course will hear none of it, having proved that when things get tough, she takes leave of her senses. Tuvok later reprimands Seven for questioning the Captain “in front of the crew”, though his “logic” seems flawed to me as well. I seriously wonder when Tuvok would recommend questioning his Captain’s orders if not now. “The Captain is always right”, he says, and he obviously believes that even when she’s dead wrong.

Janeway also defies the Doctor’s orders and ignores his counsel to get rest and medical attention. She can’t do that right now because she’s on a ridiculous quest to exact revenge from the Krenim.

Meanwhile, Paris and Chakotay have their own adventures on the Krenim ship. Paris decides he’s going to find a way to escape and help Voyager destroy the Krenim threat. He enlists the help of some of the officers on the Krenim ship who are tired of their captain’s mad quest to make things right that once went wrong. Oh, sorry, wrong series.

Chakotay, on the other hand, falls victim to Annorax’s charming personality and begins to understand his quest — he even starts to side with it. He comes up with a plan of his own to help restore the timeline and perhaps make it possible for Voyager to have never gotten stuck in the Delta Quadrant in the first place.

All of this is done expertly well, I might add. The characterizations are outstanding, and the development of these characters reaches a level of depth that Voyager can usually only dream of reaching. But then the entire two-hour episode means absolutely nothing, because as I said before, Janeway takes Voyager into the timeship and destroys it. And by so doing, she restores the timeline to how it was before any of these events happened. Her actions effectively negate the past 89 minutes of drama that were created.

Brannon Braga said that this episode was good drama. I agree with him to a certain extent. But he forgets that good drama includes how characters react to the events around them and how they are changed by these events. It was fun to see how all these characters react to these events, but because there’s absolutely no lasting effect by these events, it’s all wiped out in the end. Nothing is resolved. In some ways, it’s worse than “it was all a dream” because sometimes your dreams change how you feel about things and what decisions you make in the future. But when the Reset Button is pushed and you start all over again, the entire story falls apart. Once again, these writers prove they aren’t going to deal with anything in the long run. They are bold enough to bring up some serious issues, but they’re too cowardly to deal with them.

I’m not saying I wanted to see Voyager destroyed. But I really did want to see something happen that really changed these characters and really had a lasting effect on the series. For example, what if Janeway had destroyed the Krenim timeship but nothing else had changed? So in other words, she’d have to go find all the crewmembers who had taken escape pods. Then they’d have one more element to this series – not just getting home but also not leaving anyone behind. Now THAT would have been interesting.

As it stands now, this episode means absolutely nothing. You could remove this episode and the previous one from the Star Trek canon, and nothing would be any different at all. I just can’t tell you how disgusted and angry I am at the writers for wasting 90 minutes of my time. If I had actually paid money to see this in a theater, I would ask for my money back.

Perhaps the biggest insult comes in the very last scene of the episode, when we see Annorax again, but this time he’s in his own home. He’s working on something on his computer, and then his wife comes to him and suggests that maybe he should spend time with her instead. So he gets up from his desk and then we see what he’s working on – it seems to be the same calculations that he was using on his ship, supposedly 200 years later. The reason this is insulting is because not only did the Reset Button restore the entire episode back to a previous state, this character has learned nothing at all, and he seems to be on exactly the same path as before. This entire episode could play out again sometime in the future! Oh, let me just tell you how thrilled I am about that!

But wait just a minute – the Krenim timeship works on the principle that what they do now has an effect on the past, present and future. So in other words, when Janeway destroyed their ship and presumably Killed Annorax, wouldn’t that mean that he would be dead in the past too? Oh well.

Ugh. Please Voyager, no more Reset Buttons.

Of Note

After Ronald D. Moore quit working for Star Trek, he supposedly said that this is how Voyager should have proceeded all along, but he wasn’t a fan of the ending. I couldn’t say it better myself.