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Recap / Star Trek: Voyager S4 E8: "Year of Hell"

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This is one year I'd like to forget.
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Obsessed with restoring his species to greatness no matter the cost, a military temporal scientist creates changes in history that all but destroy Voyager.


This two-part episode provides examples of

  • 2-D Space: Averted with the creation of the Astrometrics lab, so Voyager's course no longer has to be represented on flat screens. Annorax's vessel plays the trope straight.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Annorax and his crew are willing to erase billions of people from existence, simply to get a few percentage points closer to their ideal timeline.
  • Abandon Ship: Averted at first; Chakotay suggests they abandon Voyager and use the shuttles to sneak through Krenim space. Janeway refuses to consider the idea until the cliffhanger end of Part One.
    "I’m not breaking up the family, Chakotay. We’re stronger as a team — one crew, one ship."
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  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: When saying goodbye to a blind Tuvok, Janeway cups his face in both hands.
  • Anyone Can Die: Surprisingly averted despite the inbuilt Reset Button, and the alternate timeline of "Before And After" in which both Janeway and B'Elanna were killed during the Year of Hell.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Annorax has the grace to apologize before trying to wipe Voyager from existence.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha
  • Beard of Sorrow: Chakotay gets pretty scruffy on the damaged Voyager.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Inverted with the Krenim and the Zahl—the latter look less like humans but are friendlier to Voyager.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted when Janeway gets a severe burn scar on one side of her face, though strangely her famous red hair is unsinged. Meanwhile Seven's face is pristine as always.
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  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Janeway's birthday means little on a half-destroyed ship.
  • The Bore: The Doctor insists on giving a speech at the opening of the Astrometrics Lab, despite the ill-concealed impatience of his fellow crew, who take the first excuse available to leave the room en masse.
  • Bomb Disposal: Seven finds an unexploded chronoton torpedo lodged in the hull. She can't defuse it as it's about to explode, but she can scan it for the exact temporal variance which will enable them to create effective shields.
  • The Bore: Everyone’s glad when the Doctor’s True Companions speech is interrupted by a hostile vessel.
  • Brutal Honesty: Janeway says they need to leave the nebula before their repairs are complete. Only Seven voices what everyone's thinking, and it told off for it later by Tuvok.
    Seven: As a Borg, I submitted to a single authority: the Collective. Over the past several months I've been encouraged to think and act as an individual. It is difficult to know when to restrain myself.
    Tuvok: Remember this guideline. The Captain is always right.
    Seven: Even when you know her logic is flawed?
    Tuvok: (beat) Perhaps...
  • Bullying a Dragon: Subverted; a fifteen-man, lightly-armed Krenim vessel makes a pathetic attempt to scare off Voyager...until a time shift turns it into a powerful warship with torpedoes that can pass right through their shields.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Another fine example of how one man's repeated attempts at changing the past to find the "perfect" timeline he accidently erased leading to ever more disastrous consequences. Things are spiraling out of control, precisely because the timeship is based on the idea of Laplace's Demon which is contradicted by both Quantum Mechanics and Chaos Theory.
  • Call-Back
  • The Chains of Commanding: The Doctor diagnoses Janeway as suffering from traumatic stress syndrome.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Many of the events depicted in "Year of Hell" were foreshadowed in "Before & After", e.g. Neelix becoming a security officer and the torpedo stuck in the hull. This despite the fact that the character used to foreshadow the events (Kes) is no longer on board.
    • Paris' transverse bulkheads come in handy when Voyager needs to pull a Hyperspeed Escape and loses part of the outer hull.
  • Cliffhanger: At the end of Part One, Tom and Chakotay have been abducted by Annorax, and Voyager’s crew takes to the Escape Pods.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: Defied; Annorax achieves this at the start of the episode, with the erasure of the Zahl restoring the Krenim Imperium to 98% of its original scale. However, because his wife's colony has not been restored to him, he is determined to keep trying.
  • Cold Equation: The Doctor leaves a hatch open as long as he can, but eventually has to close the door on two crewmen who wouldn’t make it before the hull breaches.
  • Companion Cube: Janeway gives a moving speech on behalf of Voyager.
    Tuvok: Curious. I have never understood the human compulsion to emotionally bond with inanimate objects. This vessel has done nothing. It is an assemblage of bulkheads, conduits, tritanium, nothing more.
    Janeway: Oh, you're wrong. It's much more than that. This ship has been our home. It's kept us together. It's been part of our family. As illogical as this might sound, I feel as close to Voyager as I do to any other member of my crew. It's carried us, Tuvok, even nurtured us. And right now it needs one of us.
  • Damage Control
  • Death Seeker: Janeway chooses to remain on Voyager for the final battle even though it's almost certainly too damaged to survive combat.
  • Deflector Shields: Voyager is getting hammered because the Krenim torpedoes use temporal technology that can pass right through Voyager’s shields. Thanks to Seven's analysis of the chronoton torpedo, they develop temporal shields that have the unexpected side-effect of leaving them unaffected whenever Annorax changes the timeline (previously they hadn't even been aware this was happening).
  • The Determinator: Janeway and Annorax.
  • Doctor's Orders: Averted — using a precedent well-established in Star Trek continuity, the Doctor tries to relieve Janeway on medical grounds. She refuses, pointing out that he has no means of enforcing the order given that the brig is destroyed, the internal forcefields are offline, and Voyager no longer has a security team.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Janeway finds her lucky coffee cup has survived the destruction of the Ready Room. Just then the Krenim attack and the cup is knocked off the table and smashes.
  • Enemy Mine: Annorax tries to make an ally out of Chakotay in order to solve their common problems. Tom and Janeway are more successful in gaining allies to oppose him.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After the timeship is destroyed, history gets a Reset Button back to 'normal' and we see Annorax in a happy moment at home with his wife whom he'd previously wiped from existence. She convinces him to put his work aside and join her, and the camera finishes on a shot of his table, on which lie the plans for the timeship.
  • Exact Time to Failure: The Doctor gets angry at Janeway for spending more than the time he recommended breathing a Deadly Gas, though it's justified in this case as him trying to minimize Janeway's exposure.
    EMH: I told you eight minutes on that deck, not eight-and-a-half, not nine, and certainly not twelve!
  • Final Solution: Annorax isn’t just trying to make the Krenim Imperium greater than its rivals, but to destroy those rivals from ever having existed (as well as restore the colony planet where his wife lived). He's at least humane enough to realise what he's doing is wrong, but not enough to stop.
  • First Name Ultimatum: Chakotay calls his captain “Kathryn” when she rejects his birthday present. She ignores him.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: The Krenim timeship’s temporal disruption beam. Makes you wonder why any of the ships of Janeway’s fleet would willingly fly in front of it during the final battle...
  • Forever War: The crew of Annorax’s vessel have been trying to change history for over two hundred years as no-one can age inside the temporal field. When Annorax tells his Number Two they have all of eternity to get it right, he doesn't look happy.
  • For Want of a Nail
    • Annorax gains a 98% restoration of the Krenim Imperium which his Number Two insists is a Close-Enough Timeline, but Annorax continues with his quest to change the timeline because he's obsessed with getting the perfect result (his wife is part of the unrestored 2%). The second time he tries, Voyager’s new temporal shields are enough to through off his calculations and revert the entire Imperium to a pre-warp state.
    • In Part 2 Annorax demonstrates why such precision is important. Chakotay tells him Voyager made a course correction eight months ago to avoid a comet, putting them on a heading into Krenim space, so he suggests erasing the comet from time. Annorax says that would destroy almost 8000 civilizations.
    Annorax: Four billion years ago fragments from that comet impacted a planet. Hydrocarbons from those fragments gave rise to several species of plant life which in turn sustained more complex organisms. Ultimately several space-faring civilisations evolved and colonised the entire sector.
    Chakotay: By erasing the comet I altered all evolution in this region.
    Annorax: Past, present and future. They exist as one. They breathe together. You're not the only person to make this mistake. When I first constructed this weapon ship I turned it against our greatest enemy, the Rilnar. The result was miraculous. With the Rilnar gone from history, my people, in an instant, became powerful again. But there were problems. A rare disease broke out among our colonies. Within a year, fifty million were dead. I had failed to realise that the Rilnar had introduced a crucial antibody into the Krenim genome and my weapon had eliminated that antibody as well.
    Chakotay: And you've been trying to undo that damage ever since, but each time you pull out a new thread, another one begins to unravel.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Janeway even invokes the trope.
  • Hand of Death: The Krenim all wear black gloves.
  • Heel Realization: Chakotay gets this when he sees Annorax wipe out another civilization, simply to see what will happen.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Janeway crashes Voyager into the timeship in the hope that the timeline will revert to normal.
  • He's Dead, Jim: Time changing for the worst is immediately marked by a dead ensign on the bridge.
  • Hyperspeed Escape: Krenim warships can only do Warp Six, so Voyager (with a maximum cruising velocity of Warp 9.975) at least has the option of outrunning them. The last time Janeway tries this, however, large parts of the hull come flying off due to the structural damage it has sustained so far.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Annorax makes a meal for Chakotay and Paris. They seem to enjoy the food until they find out where it came from. Each dish that Annorax has had prepared is the last remnants of a civilization he has completely removed from history with his temporal weapon. There are about 20 different items on the table, showing the scale of what he has done. Chakotay and Paris' horror is palpable.
    "This bottle is the only component left of the once powerful Malkoth race. Everything else about them, cities, culture, the very species itself never existed, because of me. Every dish you see here comes from a civilisation that has been erased from time. Mister Paris, you're devouring the last remnants of the Alsuran Empire."
  • Immortality Field: The timeship is clearly protected by one, considering that Annorax and his crew haven't aged a day in over 200 years.
  • Internal Retcon: Implicit for every Series Continuity Error up to that point.
  • It's All About Me: Annorax claims his time-alterations are to restore the Krenim Imperium to its former glory. But it's obvious he only really cares about bringing back his wife and homeworld, especially after he declares a 98% restored Imperium (with his wife's colony in the missing 2%) isn't good enough. Paris even notes that Annorax has reached a point where he appears to basically believe that Time has a grudge against him and is punishing him for his hubris by 'withholding' his wife.
  • It's a Long Story: Seven knows about Zephram Cochrane's vessel The Phoenix because the Borg were present during those events. “It’s a complicated story.”
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Annorax reflects on how easy it was to use the temporal weapon the first time, and how easily he's continued to justify it.
  • Karma Houdini: Annorax ends the episode living happily with his wife on their home colony, with no memory of his 200+ year campaign of temporal genocide. Of course, technically he never committed those crimes in the new timeline...
  • Lethal Chef: Voyager's crew drink a toast to absent friends, only to pull disgusted expressions at Neelix's latest concoction. At least this time the limited resources give him a good excuse.
    Neelix: I call it the Elixir of Endurance. It's loaded with amino acids, carbohydrates; all the nutrients necessary for the crew to withstand these stressful conditions.
    Torres: Ration cubes.
    Neelix: Well...yes, but this time, pureed and mixed with water and enhanced with Talaxian spices.
    Seven: It is offensive. Fortunately, taste is irrelevant.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: An egregious example, as Tom goes straight from showing off his modifications to Voyager's hull to assisting the Doctor with triage.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Obrist helps Tom sabotage the timeship because he wants their ordeal to end.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg are True Companions
    The Doctor: Who would have thought this group of voyagers could actually become a family: Starfleet, Maquis, Klingon, Tallaxian, Hologram, Borg, even Mr. Paris.
  • Necromantic: The reason Annorax keeps aiming for the perfect result is because he erased his wife from existence, and they lived on a colony that only exists in the original timeline.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Voyager's temporal shields are enough to throw off Annorax's calculations, causing him to come after them when his latest incursion reverts the Krenim to a pre-warp status as the temporal shields make Voyager a more significant temporal presence that disrupts Annorax's calculations.
  • No-Sell: As long as the temporal core is active, Annorax's ship is immune to enemy attacks.
  • Not So Different: Annorax compares his attempts to restore his original timeline to Voyager's journey home, in an attempt to sway Chakotay.
    Chakotay: You've been at this for 200 years, Annorax. What makes you think you're ever going to succeed?
    Annorax: What makes you think Voyager will ever reach Earth? The odds against you are astronomical. Yet you keep trying.
  • Nothing Personal: Annorax tells Janeway that he bears her no malice; she's just an obstacle he needs to get rid of.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When the Doctor tries to relieve Janeway on medical grounds, she threatens to shut down his program. He points out that threat alone is proof that she's not thinking rationally.
  • Outside-Context Problem: The Krenim, and specifically the timeship and their temporal-based weapons. Janeway and the Voyager crew have no idea what is causing the temporal shockwaves, let alone that they are a weapon, and have no defenses against the Krenim’s temporal torpedoes until near the end of Part I. This defense, however, serves to attract the timeship itself to target Voyager for temporal destruction...
  • The Perfectionist: Annorax. After being told that they've achieved a 98% restoration, he orders another temporal incursion and makes it clear he won't stop until "every colony, every individual, every blade of grass is restored."
  • Plot Armor: Tuvok is only a few feet away from an exploding torpedo, and while he’s permanently injured, his infirmity is blindness.
    SF Debris: Imagine if the torpedo had actually collided with him! It just might have killed him!
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Just before crashing Voyager into the timeship, Janeway declaims rhetorically, "Time's up!"
  • Ramming Always Works: Janeway rams Voyager straight into the timeship, causing all history to reset to the beginning of the year.
  • Red Alert: Newly-promoted security officer Neelix consults Tuvok on what the audio warning should be. “Do you want it to say, ‘Intruder alert’ or do you want it to say something more dramatic like ‘Warning – intruder alert’ or ‘Intruders among us! Danger! Danger! Intruders among us!’?
  • Reset Button:
    • Invoking this trope, to restore the lost greatness of Annorax's society, is the timeship's entire purpose.
    • Destruction of the timeship undoes two centuries of Annorax's timeline tweaks and returns the timeline to its original form with a single difference; Annorax never built the timeship.
  • Retcon: "Year of Hell" was originally meant to be at the end of Season 3, but "Scorpion" was put there instead. The departure of Kes means that it's Seven who deals with the chronoton torpedo; neither is there any mention of Kes' warning about the Krenim. However these changes can be explained by the constant alterations Annorax is making to the timeline.
    • It would seem that this episode completely eliminates "Before and After" from the show's storyline. That episode only happened because of the chroniton radiation Kes was exposed to during the Year of Hell. Since she left the ship before that happened, she was never exposed to the radiation, "Before and After" never happened, and she was never able to tell the crew what to prepare for.
  • Ret Gone: Essentially what the Krenim timeship is designed to do in-universe.
  • Retro Upgrade: Paris comes up with transverse bulkheads to seal off Voyager’s sections in case of a hull breach. He got the idea from the Titanic.
    Janeway: As I recall, it sank.
    Paris: I admit I’ve improved on the design.
  • Ridiculously Difficult Route: Janeway doesn't take the first warning seriously as the Krenim commander is hardly a threat, and she's never been the type to back down from casual bullying. Suddenly they're inside the territory of an aggressive species, but it's not revealed how they got there in this alternate timeline (it's possible they got in the path of a Krenim offensive). Averted when Janeway accepts the polite warning of the Krenim commander at the end, and avoids the 'disputed' region.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: The weaselly Krenim subcommander who cringed in the presence of Voyager becomes very smug indeed when his guns outmatch theirs.
  • Rousing Speech: Janeway to her crew before they abandon ship.
  • Rule of Three: The Krenim warship commander appears three times, each with a different personality due to the changing circumstances of the Krenim Imperium. First he's a xenophobic but pathetic nuisance. When the timeline changes he becomes a Smug Snake, and when the timeline is restored he has a professional demeanor, firmly yet politely telling Voyager to avoid this area of space as it's a disputed region.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Chakotay gives Janeway a watch for her birthday in an episode about time. Counts as an In-Universe version too, as it's a replicated reproduction of a watch belonging to a 19th-century captain who brought his ruined ship home against all odds. Janeway originally refuses to accept the gift, as they have limited replicator supplies. Later, she finds it again and attaches it to her belt.
  • Serious Business: What's the first thing Janeway retrieves from the trashed Ready Room? Her coffee pot of course!
  • She's Dead, Jim: The first temporal shift reveals a ruined bridge and a dead female crewman.
    Chakotay: She's dead...
  • Shout-Out:
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": Stuck in a turbolift, Harry and B’Elanna play a quiz game. Most fanfic writers would make them have sex instead, but B’Elanna has internal injuries.
  • Space Clouds: A crippled Voyager hides inside a nebula so dense that it produces a visible fog inside the ship’s corridors. Captain Janeway even orders the hull breaches sealed to avoid having an "indoor nebula." One would think she'd be more concerned about all the air escaping...
  • Spanner in the Works: Voyager is able to rig up temporal shields; however this leaves it unaffected by the temporal shift, while at the same time upsetting all the changes that Annorax is trying to make.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Averted; the Doctor grabs Janeway's upper arm to stop her leaving Sickbay. She responds with a Death Glare and a threat to shut down his program.
  • Swivel-Chair Antics: The Krenim captain after the time shift lets him take a level in arrogance.
  • Taking the Bullet: Tuvok shields Seven from an explosion, permanently blinding him.
  • Tempting Fate: During Voyager’s first encounter with a Krenim vessel, Janeway scoffs at the threat from the inferior ship, telling its captain that she’s not turning around “unless he’s got something bigger in his torpedo tubes.” Cue the first temporal shockwave, which transforms the puny Krenim vessel into a massive warship armed with temporal torpedoes...
  • That's an Order!:
    • Tuvok to Seven when she stays to calculate the temporal variance of the torpedo, enabling Voyager to construct a shield against them...and delaying Tuvok so he gets blinded by the exploding torpedo.
    • Chakotay ordering Tom to not do anything against Annorax. Not that Tom seems inclined to obey that order.
  • Time Is Dangerous: Obviously Arronax' weapon is one of the most horrific ever shown in the franchise, but his obsession with it has led him to think of himself as less of an engineer confronted with a problem so much as a profiler chasing an UnSub.
    Annorax: When I tell that Time has moods, a disposition to be intuited, I'm not speaking metaphorically.
    Chakotay: What do you mean?
    Annorax: Anger is one of its moods. Anger and the desire for retribution, vengeance. Time itself has tried to punish me for my arrogance. It has kept me from my wife, denied me my future.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Chakotay starts growing at least a Time-Passage Mustache when he is first seen in Part 2 on board Annorax's time ship. It is soon shaved off when he is brought out of his holding cell to meet with Annorax.
  • The Time Traveller's Dilemma: Invoked and played to its obvious conclusion; the best thing to do with a time machine is un-invent it.
  • Title Drop: Subverted
    Janeway: This is turning into the week of hell.
    • The Title Drop actually occurred in "Before and After"
    Paris: That was the beginning of the Year of Hell. Well that's what some of us call it now.
  • To Absent Friends: Well, "distant" friends, actually, but the sentiment is close enough.
  • Too Dumb to Live: During the final battle, two of Voyager's allies fly directly in front of the weapon ship after making an attack pass, leaving them open for a full temporal burst that erases them from time.
  • Tragic Keepsake
    • Annorax keeps a lock of the hair of the wife he accidentally erased from time in a special container that shields it from dissipating into nothing because it can't exist in the world he created. As his vessel is destroyed, he watches helplessly as the container breaks and the hair vanishes from existence... and then he smiles as he realizes he's about to get exactly what he's wanted; the weapon backfiring erases itself from history, restoring all of his victims — including his wife.
    • Janeway is quite moved when she finds Chakotay disobeyed orders to recycle the watch, and wears it from then on.
  • Trash the Set
    Janeway: You have the Bridge...what’s left of it.
  • Unperson: In a sad moment, Obrist admits that he stopped celebrating his family's birthdays because they probably died centuries ago. Or worse, they may have been erased from history altogether.
  • Villainous BSoD: Annorax has been frustrated in his quest for so long, he believes that Time itself is somehow punishing him for trying to change it.
  • Voodoo Shark: Annorax and his crew are ageless due to their ship's temporal shields, which protect them from the flow of time. It doesn't stop them from eating and breathing, which doesn't have to deal with time because FLASHBOMB!
  • The Watchmaker: Janeway realizes that she's stating to lose track of time. Chakotay chirps that he has a remedy for that, and presents her with a pocket-watch. She later finds the watch again while rooting through Voyager's wrecked upper decks. It also symbolizes Chakotay's newfound power as an apprentice onboard Annorax's timeship.
  • Wave Motion Gun: An unusual one in that it doesn't just destroy its targets; it erases them from history.
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: The Krenim Imperium's response to Voyager trying to negotiate a way through their space is just to shoot at them.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tom tells off Chakotay for working with Annorax, and various crewmembers question Janeway on her recklessness.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Annorax may be content to spend eternity rewriting history, but his crew sure isn't...
  • Whole Plot Reference: At least the portion set aboard the Krenim temporal weapon ship is this to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Referenced in the name Annorax, The Narrator of the aforementioned novel.
  • Wild Card: Voyager for Annorax; because she arrived unexpectedly from such a far away sector and is generating her own temporal field, it's impossible to predict her effect on the timeline.
  • With All Due Respect: As per usual for this trope, Janeway uses it on someone she obviously doesn’t respect at all.
    Krenim subcommander: Reverse course, or be destroyed!
    Captain Janeway: With all due respect, unless you’ve got something a little bigger in your torpedo tubes I’m not turning around.
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