Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S04E09 – Year of Hell, Part II

In the ninth episode of the fourth season of Voyager, I just feel way too much about Janeway. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

Trigger Warning: For genocide

I’m not surprised that time was “erased,” so to speak, by the final moments of “Year of Hell, Part II.” The show had progressed so far into this nightmare that it was barely sustainable beyond where they’d taken it. But that’s a large reason why this two-parter is so impactful and important. If the writers were not going to commit to the changes after this year, then at least the show could commit itself to the premise and give us the actual Year of Hell.

And good lord, I truly wasn’t ready.

Annorax

The writers manage to attain a balance with Annorax so that he’s still a wretched antagonist, but he’s one with a rich and complicated story. I don’t feel sorry for him, nor did I find my sentiments in line with how Chakotay fell about him. For once, I was completely in agreement with Tom Paris. At the same time, I appreciated the writing for Annorax, and it was brilliant to stick Tom and Chakotay on the Krenim ship in order for us to get that insight. We watch how Annorax latches on to Chakotay. Is his interest in the man genuine or just a manipulation? Probably both, I’d say, though above else, it was clear to me that Annorax just wanted someone to believe in him. He had to have known his crew no longer truly supported him anymore, right?

But that’s just speculation. I was fascinated by how the show drove a wedge between Tom and Chakotay since it showed us how time calculations could easily consume a person’s life. After months of tests, look how quickly Chakotay takes to the calculation process! And look how rapidly he begins to obsess over the idea of getting things just right, despite that perfection in this context is so impossible. It’s Tom who is the voice of reason, who points out that Annorax has no true understanding of what he’s doing. Perhaps philosophically he understands his destruction, but he still dispenses of civilizations with ease. There’s a stunning hypocrisy demonstrated here, since he shows Chakotay that a single comet can affect thousands upon thousands of civilizations. And yet, he argues that the genocide of a whole race of beings is inconsequential. How can that be so? It’s not, but that’s how Annorax’s obsession gets the best of him.

My only complaint is that I wish we could have seen more of Obrist. I WAS FASCINATED BY HIS CHARACTER SO MUCH. What’s it like to live for 200 years, never aging, all for someone else’s dream??? FUCKED UP.

Janeway

There is no bigger star of this two-parter than Kate Mulgrew, who transforms into a Janeway that’s inspiring and frightening, often times in the same turn. I am still unnerved by her performance and the way the writers parallel her obsession with Annorax’s. Obviously, her obsession is survival and the well-being of her crew. It’s a different context. But her behavior here regularly shows a lack of self-preservation; she cares about the survival of others. When faced with poisonous gas from a nebula leaking into the ship, she pushes herself and Harry far beyond the Doctor’s requirements. Then, she refuses full treatment for herself! When she’s injured yet again, she not only disobeys the Doctor’s orders, but she defies literally everything he says.

I’ve seen Janeway as a bit of a rebel in general – it’s a great aspect of her character – yet what we see is Janeway pushed to an extreme end through extreme circumstances. Frankly, I’ve never seen so much of her crew openly disagree with her. And if they’re not doing that, they’re looking upon her with a terrified sadness that was DEEPLY UPSETTING TO ME. But the writers ground all of this in her love for Voyager, which gives us one of the more moving scenes in the entire series: Janeway explaining to Tuvok why she has such an emotional attachment to an inanimate object. That monologue is so wonderful because it’s true: Voyager is very much a character on this show. It’s their home. It’s the way that they’ve become a family. Why wouldn’t Janeway defend Voyager until the very end?

And that end is really something else. She orders her crew to other ships, remains behind on Voyager, and after all attempts to stop the Krenim time ship are exhausted, she does the one thing she has left: SHE RAMS THE KRENIM SHIP WITH VOYAGER AND SACRIFICES HERSELF TO RESET THE TIMELINE. The scene is awe-inspiring and scary and sad and I don’t care if these characters won’t ever know what she did for them. I WILL. I WILL REMEMBER IT FOREVER.

Janeway for President.

(I am writing this review on November 2, so it’s prior to my country’s election, so I’m leaving it up. It’ll either be a neat little statement or me begging for the Krenim to institute a new timeline in America.)

The video for “Year of Hell, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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