Starfleet sends a signal to Voyager along the network of relay stations, containing messages from the family and friends of the crew. But a Hirogen hunting party is not pleased by aliens using 'their' network, and captures Seven of Nine and Tuvok when they're sent to repair it.
This episode contains the following tropes:
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Janeway gets a letter from her fiance Mark, only to find he's married to another woman after giving up hope that Janeway was alive.
- Alien Head On The Wall: Our first look at the interior of the Hirogen ship is a shot of several alien skulls mounted on the wall.
- Archnemesis Dad: Tom is the only person not eager to read a letter from home, as he's convinced his father will have only bad things to say to him.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Janeway reflects on what a lousy day it's been — they've made enemies of yet another species, destroyed their only means of communicating with home, and to cap it off she got a "Dear John" Letter.
- As You Know: The bridge crew discussing the alien relay network for viewers who missed the previous episode.
- Badass Boast: Seven of Nine and Tuvok deliver them on behalf of Captain Janeway.Seven: You will find our Captain a formidable opponent and our ship heavily armed.
Alpha: Good. Strong prey makes for a better hunt.
Tuvok: Release us now and you'll be safe. Otherwise we will destroy you.
- Battle Trophy: The Hirogen display the bones and organs of their kills.
- Brutal Honesty: Clearly fishing for compliments, the Doctor boasts to Seven of Nine about his role in establishing contact with the Alpha Quadrant. The Borg sticks a pin in his ego bubble.EMH: If it weren't for me this transmission wouldn't have been possible in the first place. I was the one who risked my matrix in order to go to the Alpha Quadrant. If we ever get home I expect I'll become quite the hero. Emergency Medical Hologram instrumental in the return of Voyager crew. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
Seven: On the other hand, it is entirely possible that your program will be deleted and you'll be upgraded to conform to the most recent standards.
- Chekhov's Gun: As well as the personal messages, there's also an encrypted message from Starfleet, which the crew aren't able to decode until the Season Finale, "Hope and Fear".
- Continuity Nod:
- Seven of Nine asks about the Vulcan reputation for not lying. Tuvok replies that he has done so under orders, referring to his original role as The Mole among the Maquis.
- Janeway says that Mark found homes for all her puppies. In "Caretaker" we saw her persuading Mark to look after her dog because it was pregnant.
- The Maquis have been wiped out.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: Chakotay has to go around to all the Maquis crewmembers, dropping the bombshell that their colleagues have been wiped out by the Jem'Hadar, except for the few lucky enough to be in Starfleet prisons.
- Everyone Can See It: Harry denies he's still smitten by Seven of Nine. B'Elanna knows he's full of it."Harry, you might as well wear a big sign that says: I'm in love. Everyone sees it."
- Evil Is Bigger: The Alpha and Beta tower over Tuvok and Seven.
- Forced to Watch: The Alpha orders Tuvok gutted first, so Seven can watch it.
- Hope Spot: Voyager makes contact with home only to have that link yanked away from them. They won't re-establish contact until "Pathfinder" in Season 6.
- Improvised Weapon: Weaponizing a black hole is pretty creative.
- Layman's Terms: Voyager finds a derelict ship with a dead alien who suffered "a complete osteotomy—he's been gutted."
- Lost Technology: The alien network is at least 100,000 years old, with each relay station powered by a tiny black hole!
- Malevolent Masked Men: The Hirogen wear their breathing masks for the entire episode.
- Mercy Lead: The Alpha gives Janeway a chance to run away, to make for a more entertaining hunt. He doesn't know who he's messin' with.
- Must Have Caffeine: One of Janeway's famous quotes on the delights of coffee.Chakotay: If I'm not mistaken, that's your third cup this morning.
Janeway: Fourth. And on a day like today it won't be my last. Coffee — the finest organic suspension ever devised. It's got me through the worst of the last three years. I beat the Borg with it.
- Neck Snap: One of the Hirogen threatens to do this to Seven if she doesn't cooperate.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: To escape the Hirogen, Janeway destabilizes the micro-black hole powering the relay station, accidentally crashing the entire network. Oops!
- Non-Answer: Seven wants to know if Tuvok being sent on the Away mission with her is a sign that Captain Janeway doesn't have confidence in her. Tuvok asks if the captain's opinion is important to her. Seven dodges the question by pointing out that given the ship's hierarchical system, The Captain's opinion is important to everyone.
- Not So Above It All: Neelix insists that Tuvok read the letter from his family immediately. Tuvok insists on finishing his tactical report first, but after Neelix leaves he can't resist picking up the PADD to read it.
- Puny Humanoids: The Hirogen are not impressed with their captives, but their uniqueness still makes them valuable trophies.
- Series Continuity Error:
- Janeway says that it's not her custom to send someone alone on a shuttle. So what about Chakotay, and the two shuttles that he killed?
- Neelix reads out a letter to Tuvok where he's informed that his son went through the pon farr. The pon farr is a very private matter to Vulcans. It's unlikely that his wife would discuss this in any form of open communication when she could just say "your son is now married and you're a grandfather".
- Ship Tease: Chakotay's discussion with Janeway on her romantic options now that she no longer has the excuse of remaining faithful to Mark. If Janeway notices the implied hint, she doesn't follow it up. See also Deleted Scene.
- Silent Running Mode: The Alpha orders the ship put on Stalking Mode, but the next scene has Harry Kim picking them up on sensors, so it can't be very good.
- Slashed Throat: Tuvok swipes at the throat of the Hirogen Beta, but to no effect — either the cut fell short due to the Hirogen's greater height or his armour deflected the blow. Or it could be a minor case of Bizarre Alien Biology.
- Species of Hats: The entire culture of the Hirogen is established around Hunting the Most Dangerous Game.
- Subspace Ansible: The relay network is one.
- Taste Like Chicken:Paris: This mystery dish. It tastes vaguely like chicken but it has the consistency of corn husks.
- Testosterone Poisoning: As much the 'hat' of the Hirogen as their Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. Big men with big f**king guns engaging in alpha-male dominance games, manly boasting, and mindless competition.
- Theme Naming: This episode and the following one "Prey" reflecting the nature of the Hirogen.
- This Means Warpaint: On commencing the hunt, Hirogen mark themselves (and afterward their captured 'prey') with a paint stripe on the forehead.
- Tim Taylor Technology: As Voyager is pulled into the black hole with the Hirogen vessels, Janeway orders the anti-matter injectors cranked up to 120%, despite the risk of a warp core breach.
- Unrealistic Black Hole: So a 2 cm black hole can be felt over a light year away?
- Villain Ball: Our initial introduction to the Hirogen is not impressive, as the Alpha is too eager for unique trophies to wait for help in taking down Voyager, and the other Hirogen ignore Janeway's warning about the black hole. Unfortunately later Alphas will be smarter.
- Wall of Weapons: The Hirogen seem to like these.