(written from a Production point of view)
Obsessed with restoring the Krenim Imperium, no matter the cost, a Krenim military temporal scientist creates changes in history that all but destroy Voyager.
- Day 1
A perfect day on a class M planet. An advanced civilization lives here, evidenced by a sprawling and technologically advanced metropolis. Suddenly, in the sky above, a tremendously large weapon appears. It fires a beam of energy at the city. The beam spreads out over the city and beyond. Every trace of civilization vanishes, replaced by virgin land, as if the planet had never been populated.
Aboard the ship that fired the beam, a young officer checks computer displays and reports to the ship's commander that the temporal incursion is complete and all organisms on the planet have been eradicated. The commander asks if their target event has been achieved. Frustrated, the officer reports that it has not been achieved. The commander speculates that more definitive action is necessary and orders a course laid in for the homeworld of the Zahl. The entire species, he decides, must be erased from time.
Aboard the USS Voyager, the senior staff is gathered together in the new astrometrics lab to celebrate its completion. Seven of Nine is placed in charge of the lab. She and the co-designer of the lab, Ensign Harry Kim, demonstrate its abilities by showing them a projection of a new course to Earth they have plotted that by Seven's estimate will trim five years from their decades-long journey. Lieutenant jg B'Elanna Torres observes that they are entering a region of space with many class M planets. Seven informs that the territory is claimed by the Zahl, a species the Borg have assigned a low resistance quotient.
The Doctor then begins a long, drawn-out speech he has prepared, much to the chagrin of those assembled. As it becomes obvious that his speech will not be brief, he is interrupted when the bridge hails Captain Kathryn Janeway, informing her of an incoming hail from an approaching ship. The crew, glad to be spared the speech, quickly disperse and ignore The Doctor's invitation to meet up later.
The hailing ship is now firing on Voyager but causing no damage. On the bridge, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok scans the vessel and reports that it is no threat as it is small, its weapons limited, and its warp capacity low. Janeway orders an on-screen answer to the hail. It is a Krenim vessel. The hailer, a Krenim commandant, appears. Furious, he informs Janeway that they are trespassing in Krenim space and orders her to reverse course or face destruction, though his vessel is completely unable to harm Voyager. Janeway responds with a smirk and dismisses his threat with a disparaging comment about the "size" of what is in his "torpedo tubes". The commandant angrily closes the channel. Janeway orders Voyager's course maintained but also orders yellow alert, just in case.
- Day 4
Voyager has entered Zahl space. The ship is stationary with two large, Zahl ships nearby. In the briefing room, a friendly and engaging Zahl official assures Janeway that there is nothing to fear from the Krenim, who were defeated by the Zahl over a generation ago despite their formidable temporal weapons. Their ships, he tells her, still wander Zahl territory claiming the space as their own but are no more than a nuisance. Janeway acknowledges this appraisal with a smile. However, as the ambassador begins inquiring about their lengthy journey, Kim hails Janeway from the bridge and informs her the vessel has returned.
Janeway and the Zahl enter the bridge. The vessel hails and Janeway orders an on-screen answer. It is the same Krenim commandant who, upon noticing the Zahl official, accuses Janeway of consorting with their enemy. The Zahl angrily warns the commandant to disengage, threating to seize his ship and ship him home in a cargo container. As Janeway interjects, Kim reports a huge spatial distortion heading for them, five light years across and expanding. Tuvok scans it and, to the Zahl's shock, reports it to be a space-time shock wave originating from a vessel near the Zahl homeworld. Flight controller Tom Paris tries to take the ship to warp speed in an attempt to get away from the buildup of temporal energy, but the wave destabilizes the warp field, making escape impossible.
The wave overtakes all the vessels and everything quickly changes. The Zahl ships vanish. The modest Krenim vessel is transformed into a Krenim warship. On Voyager's bridge, the Zahl official vanishes. The bridge goes from pristine to red alert condition with significant damage, appearing to have been caused over the last several days. Lights flicker and gases leak. Janeway and the other officers go from being relaxed but alert to being tense and disheveled. A crewmember lies dead on the floor. None of the crew are aware that any kind of change occurred.
The ship shudders from the warship's fire. Tuvok reports their shields are at seventeen percent. Before the wave, they were at full strength. The Krenim vessel hails. The Krenim commandant appears, but instead of being impotently angry, he is deadly confident. He offers to forgo the execution of Janeway's crew if she will surrender her ship. When she coldly refuses, he warns her to prepare to be boarded and closes the channel. Janeway orders battle stations, remarking to Chakotay that "this is turning into the week of hell."
Voyager is pummeled by the Krenim warship, its torpedoes easily penetrating the ship's deflector shields. Chakotay cannot understand why, but Tuvok answers that the torpedoes are not photonic but chronitonic; they are getting through their shields because they are in a state of temporal flux, slightly out of phase with space-time, simultaneously there and yet not there. Her ship defenseless, Janeway gives the order to flee at warp speed. Once out of immediate danger, she asks for a damage report. Tuvok tells her that 15 crewmembers were wounded during the battle, main power was down, environmental controls on decks 7 and 8 were non-functional, and the main computer core was offline. She asks Ensign Kim if any of the sensors were still functioning. He replies that only the short range ones were working. Janeway then orders a 24-hour tactical alert and orders Tuvok to find a way to modify the shields against the Krenim torpedoes.
The ship that caused the change in the timeline is a Krenim temporal weapon ship. The Krenim weapon revised the timeline so that the Zahl never existed, hence the Krenim were never defeated, and the entire region has again become Krenim-controlled space. The commander, Annorax, is in his chambers aboard his ship. He holds a sealed glass pyramid containing a small lock of red hair. He gazes at it with evident grief. The young officer previously on the bridge, named Obrist, enters and with dignified excitement reports that the erasure of the Zahl from history has restored the Krenim Imperium to 98% of the power it once had; 849 worlds over 5,000 parsecs. However, Annorax asks him whether or not a certain colony at Kyana Prime was restored.
Obrist tells him that in this timeline, the Imperium's territory does not extend far enough to encompass Kyana Prime. He does so in a voice that shows he has been asked this question before and has always had the same answer. Disappointed by this news, Annorax responds that they have failed and orders Obrist to start calculations for another temporal incursion. Frustrated, Obrist hangs his head and shakes it. He earnestly pleads that, in two hundred years of attempts, they have never ever achieved this level of restoration and that even a minor incursion could jeopardize this unprecedented success. Clearly having no interest in entertaining his officer's objections, Annorax sternly orders him to obey his order. Resigned, Obrist acknowledges and leaves.
- Day 32
Voyager is chased by a Krenim warship. A torpedo slams into the junction between the saucer section and the stardrive. The bridge looks in worse condition than before as Voyager has been suffering constant Krenim attacks. Tuvok's attempts to modify the shields against the Krenim chroniton torpedoes have failed. However, Chakotay notices the warship's aft shields are down but Voyager's own weapons are non-functional. Meanwhile, The Doctor hails from sickbay and informs them that a power overload is occurring there. Kim tries to stop it but his attempts fail, and the power overload quickly spreads throughout Deck 5. Chakotay immediately orders a complete evacuation of the deck.
Janeway orders Tuvok to arm four of their eleven remaining photon torpedoes and deploy them like mines. She also gives orders to Paris to let the Krenim get within 5,000 meters of them in order for her plan to work. Tuvok arms the torpedoes and Paris informs Janeway that the Krenim ship is within range. She then tells Tuvok to "do it" as Voyager deploys the torpedoes toward the Krenim Warship which in turn destroys the Warship. Their victory is briefly interrupted by a loud notification sound from the Ops station as Kim reports that the conduits on Deck 5 were overloading and were moments away from exploding. The Doctor quickly shepherds his patients and other crewmembers into a Jefferies tube, where they will be safe from the impending explosion. But as he is about to seal himself and the others in the tube he sees two crewmembers, Emmanuel and Strickler, running desperately toward the hatch. He waits for them until the computer counts the last second before the deck blows. Seeing that, though close, they cannot make it to the Jefferies tube in time, he seals the hatch. Much of the deck explodes outward in a huge line of flame and debris along the top of the saucer section.
The ship is so violently shaken by the explosion that all officers on the bridge are knocked off their feet or out of their seats. Kim reports that sections 10 through 53 on Deck 5 were obliterated. Tuvok gives a casualty report, which includes the deaths of the two crewmembers who did not make it to the Jefferies tube. Janeway ends the red alert as she orders Tuvok to survey the ship deck by deck with a security team to assess the amount of damage Voyager has sustained. Tuvok nods and exits as Janeway looks around at the damage on the bridge. Most of the lights are out, console displays flicker and debris is strewn everywhere. She leaves Chakotay with the bridge and goes to her ready room.
Janeway's ready room is in even worse condition than the bridge. All lights are out and debris covers almost the entire floor and her desk. Her desktop monitor is completely destroyed. Chakotay enters, and advises her that the crew should abandon ship as their strategy of trying to modify the shields is not working and the ship is being decimated. Janeway staunchly disagrees stating that if they separate, they will be unable to pool their talents and will be even more vulnerable to the Krenim; They will stay on the ship as long as the ship remains in one piece. Chakotay accepts this as Paris hails them from the bridge and informs them of yet another attack.
- Day 47
Kim and an injured Torres are trapped in a dark, debris-strewn turbolift car. Already stuck there for six hours, they continue passing the time by playing guessing games. Despite her increasing pain, Torres stubbornly tries to think of the answer to Kim's latest puzzle when Seven of Nine pries the door open and frees them. Seven answers Kim's final question about the name of Zefram Cochrane's ship – the Phoenix – and tells them the Borg were present during the events. When she informs them that the latest attack disabled the entire turbolift system, Torres wants to go to the Jefferies tubes on Deck 11 to try to repair the EPS relays but Kim insists that she go to sickbay. She realizes he's right and Seven goes to Deck 11 instead.
Meanwhile on the bridge, in front of the flickering master systems display, Janeway, Chakotay, and Paris discuss an a plan conceived by Paris: using transverse bulkheads to seal off sections of the ship in the event of a breach, an increasingly-likely possibility given the ship's current state and the persistent Krenim attacks. Inspired by a similar technology on the Titanic (which the Captain points out ultimately sank), Paris' plan is approved by Janeway. The Doctor hails Paris from the mess hall (Voyager's new medical facility due to sickbay's destruction) asking for his assistance in his capacity as medic.
On Deck 11, Seven opens a Jefferies tube hatch but just as she is about to climb in, she sees an object lodged in the tube's wall. She climbs in, moves close to it and scans it with a tricorder. It is an undetonated Krenim chroniton torpedo with the warhead still armed and ready to go off. She urgently hails Tuvok and informs him of her discovery. He orders her to hold position and not attempt disarming it. When Tuvok arrives, he decides that the safest option is to cordon off the tube with a level 10 force field in order to contain the imminent explosion of the destabilizing warhead. But Seven wants to complete this unique opportunity to scan one of the torpedoes and ascertain its exact temporal variance, which can be used to correctly modify the deflector shields. Tuvok objects and attempts to drag her toward the hatch. Struggling against him to finish, Seven finally succeeds in finding the variance – 1.47 microseconds – but the torpedo detonates before they reach the hatch. Tuvok shields her and the explosion catches him in the face.
- Day 65
Voyager is in a terrible state. Janeway records in her log that the replicator system was severely damaged in the latest attack, forcing the crew to survive on emergency rations. Environmental controls are failing and seven decks are now uninhabitable. The weary crew, having relocated from their quarters and sleeping in bunks, are struggling on. The bridge is now totally wrecked as Janeway attempts to repair the science station. Chakotay, reminding her of the date (her birthday) offers her a gift: a silver pocket watch he replicated for her months earlier. But in their current condition, non-essentials are a luxury they cannot afford and she tells him to recycle it.
Tuvok, now completely blind from the chroniton torpedo blast in the Deck 11 Jefferies tube, shaves with a straight-edge razor in the remains of his quarters. Seven of Nine enters and says that she is "reporting for duty" to lead him on his morning rounds. She has devoted herself to helping Tuvok after sacrificing his sight to shield her from harm. She shows irritation that he has cut himself shaving, having previously offered to help him with personal grooming. Tuvok rejects the notion, clearly not for the first time. Before they leave his quarters, she informs him of an idea she has developed on how to modify the deflector shields to defend against the Krenim torpedoes, using the temporal variance she measured from the torpedo. He decides that they should forgo his rounds and proceed to deflector control.
As they make their way along the darkened, debris-strewn corridors, the two bemoan Human personal habits after Seven crosses paths with her new bunk mate. Chakotay's voice comes through the com system, warning of another incoming attack and ordering all hands to battle stations. Tuvok orders Seven to go to deflector control and bring the modified shields on-line, essentially testing them in battle, while he attempts to make his way to the bridge, feeling along the walls to get there.
Upon arriving at the bridge, Tuvok goes to his tactical station. Blind, he cannot see his station's visual interface and has the computer initiate a tactile interface, allowing him to operate the controls and read the displays by touch. Chakotay requests a weapons status as Tuvok reports that phasers were still working, but the torpedo launchers were offline. Janeway orders an on-screen view of the approaching Krenim warship. Ordering evasive maneuvers, Chakotay and she pester Seven to engage the newly-modified shields. Kim tells the Bridge crew that they're targeting the bridge as Seven succeeds in bringing them on-line. Chakotay orders full port thrusters to evade as the warship fires on them once more. The first torpedo misses due to Paris' piloting skills, but the second hits. This time the torpedo causes no damage; Seven's modifications work perfectly. Janeway orders Tuvok to hail the warship. She advises them to stand down, as Voyager is no longer defenseless against them. They do not answer. She orders Paris to maintain course through Krenim space.
Elsewhere, the temporal weapon ship approaches another planet, home to a race called the Garenor. Annorax orders the ship taken into orbit and the weapon to be fully powered and fired. It has the same effect as seen on the Zahl colony: every trace of civilization vanishes, as if it never existed, and the space-time shock wave created radiates outward away from the planet.
Back on Voyager, the Krenim warship is still in pursuit but has ceased firing, unsure how to respond to the recent development; this newfound advantage over the warship is Voyager's first in months. Kim soon reports the approach of a temporal wave from 20 light-years away. Even before this timeline the ship could not outrun it, so it has absolutely no chance in its dilapidated state. The wave hits. But the new shields protect the ship from the wave's temporal changes for the same reasons they protected against the Krenim's temporal torpedoes.
However, the Krenim warship has no such protection. The shocked bridge crew watch as it is reduced from a mighty warship to a once again modest ship with limited armaments that would pose no threat to an undamaged Voyager. A baffled Kim reports that the ship is definitely Krenim but it is no longer the warship they were just facing. Janeway then asks where the Warship went as Paris tells her that long range sensors aren't picking it up either. Chakotay scans the region from the command console and reports that the region has suddenly changed: before the wave, the area was filled with Krenim colonies and warships, but now there are no colonies and only a few small ships. History appears to have been changed so that the Kremim Imperium never existed. Janeway orders Kim to route any data about the wave to astrometrics where she is headed, but Chakotay informs her that astrometrics was offline due to taking heavy damage from the Krenim attacks a few days ago as Janeway tells him to bringing it back online, commenting that their troubles might suddenly be over and finding out why this was the case.
Aboard the temporal weapon ship, Obrist notes the erasure of the Krenim Imperium with great consternation. He reports to Annorax that the incursion has gone terribly wrong. Annorax cannot believe it, insisting that their calculations were perfect. Obrist pores over the sensor data and finds the explanation: as a previously "inert" component, they had failed to account for Voyager's new temporal shields in their calculations. Annorax orders a course be set to go to Voyager.
- Day 70
Astrometrics is as ruined as the rest of the ship but Seven manages to activate its sensors, finding the database intact. Janeway orders her to call up a previous scan of the area. It shows how the region was: under the boot of the Krenim Imperium, full of Krenim colonies. A new scan confirms what Chakotay found, that the Imperium does not currently exist; History has been changed by the wave. On Janeway's order, Seven tracks its source and finds that it originated from the Garenor homeworld. Janeway says they passed the Garenor just 3 weeks ago, but Seven responds with a strange discovery. She notes with confusion that the sensors show that the Garenor do not exist anymore, also erased from history by the wave. She theorizes that, because of their temporal weapons, the Krenim may also be responsible for the temporal wave. This makes no sense to Janeway, as the change has undermined their own species. She speculates that there is a "big piece of the puzzle still missing," and in the midst of ordering another scan, the ship is suddenly shaken.
Annorax's ship arrives. Aboard, Obrist confirms that Voyager is generating a temporal field. Annorax orders two of her crew collected as samples, along with a small piece of the hull. He also orders preparations for another temporal incursion, this time against Voyager. He cannot have this anomalous temporal component disrupting his calculations and intends to eliminate it.
On Voyager, Kim reports with surprise that the entire Krenim vessel is in a state of temporal flux and like the torpedoes, the ship actually exists outside of space-time. Chakotay rises and walks toward the viewscreen, studying the vessel. He stops at the conn console, beside Paris. Suddenly, both men vanish, transported away. Janeway immediately orders efforts to retrieve them. Kim tries but fails. A hail comes from the weapon ship. Janeway orders it answered on-screen. Annorax appears, calmly but sternly telling Janeway to identify herself and her ship, which she does. He reciprocates and observes that Voyager is not from the Delta Quadrant. Janeway confirms, telling him of their origin from Earth, which was 65,000 light years away, but when she asks about the change in history—emphasizing the erasure of the Krenim Imperium—he curtly responds that it is none of her business. When he tells her that she has diverted him from his mission, she realizes that he is responsible for the change in the timeline. Without denying this, he assures her it is nothing personal but that Voyager must be erased as well, informing her that this will "restore the lives of countless millions." With a curt apology, he closes the channel.
The ship fires its temporal weapon on Voyager. So great is its power that the temporal shields are quickly degraded as Seven reports that the shields were weakening from the beam's intensity. Kim reports tensely that the beam is pushing Voyager out of the space-time continuum; they are being erased from history. However, Seven scans the weapon ship and reports that its mass prevents it from achieving speeds in excess of warp 6. Voyager, whose normal top warp speed is in excess of warp 9.9, can escape. But Tuvok cautions that damage to the ship's structural integrity means that warp speed will cause extreme damage.
Despite Tuvok's concerns and having to leave Chakotay and Paris behind, Janeway feels that right now they have no choice. She orders all hands to clear the outer sections of the hull and for wide scale breaches. She also orders Paris' transverse bulkheads be brought online. Seven reports that the temporal shields are failing as Janeway engages the warp drive, getting away at warp 7. They escape the temporal beam, but not at the cost of Voyager sustaining additional damage to it's already severely damaged state as large, jagged pieces of the outer hull peel off and break away.
- Day 73
Janeway calls a meeting of surviving crewmembers in the remains of the mess hall. She sadly but sternly informs them of the ship's inability to sustain the crew any longer. She is now forced to make the decision Chakotay had suggested weeks before: to abandon ship. The senior staff, she announces, will stay behind with her and attempt to rescue Chakotay and Paris. She gives the departing crew some inspiring words before dismissing them.
Escape pod hatches open and the pods, carrying most of the crew, emerge from the remains of the hull and fall away from the ship.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 51268.4. This morning's attack destroyed the power grid on deck 11. No casualties this time but the replicator system was badly damaged. We've gone to emergency rations. As a result, the situation has gotten a little worse. Environmental controls continue to fail, seven decks have been rendered uninhabitable and we've had to relocate the crew. Quarters are close, nerves are frayed, and I'm not sure what's more difficult to maintain – Voyager's systems or the crew's morale. What's important… is that we're together, working towards a single goal – survival."
"Who would've thought that this eclectic group of voyagers could actually become a family? Starfleet, Maquis, Klingon, Talaxian, hologram, Borg… even Mr. Paris."
- - The Doctor, giving a long-winded speech at the commissioning of the astrometrics lab
"This is turning into the week of hell."
- - Captain Janeway, in a twist of irony
"You have the bridge… what's left of it."
- - Kathryn Janeway, to Chakotay
"I don't respond well to threats."
- - Kathryn Janeway, to the Krenim commandant
"With all due respect… unless you've got something a little bigger in your torpedo tubes, I'm not turning around."
- - Kathryn Janeway, to the Krenim commandant
"Sir, you were correct. The Zahl homeworld was the focal point. Its erasure has produced a complete temporal restoration."
"If I told you to count the stars in the cosmos, would the task ever be complete?"
"Our attempts may be sufficient; they may even be relatively successful, but they will never be complete. Choose your words with more precision."
- - Obrist and Annorax
"The Titanic? As I recall, it sank."
"Let's just say I've made a few improvements."
- - Janeway and Tom Paris, on Paris's inspiration for upgrades to Voyager
- - Chakotay and Janeway
"Shaving is hardly a life-threatening activity."
- - Tuvok
"We're just about done rebuilding the internal security sensors and we are ready to program the audio signal. Do you want it to say 'Intruder alert' or should we try something a little more dramatic like 'Warning, intruder alert', or 'Intruders among us. Danger! Danger! Intruders among us.'"
"Intruder alert' will suffice."
- - Neelix and Tuvok
"Krenim vessels, this is the captain of Voyager. You may have noticed we have a defense against your torpedoes now. I suggest you stand down."
"Their mistake. Bring the ship about. We're going through their space whether they like it or not."
- - Janeway and Tuvok
"He's trying to erase us from history."
- - Janeway, as Annorax fires on Voyager
"Each of you has done your best, but determination alone isn't going to hold this ship together. It's time we faced reality. We've lost nine decks, more than half this ship has been destroyed. Life support is nearly gone; Voyager can no longer sustain its crew. I promised myself that I would never give this order, that I would never break up this family; but asking you to stay… would be asking you to die."
- - Janeway
- Production number: 011-40840-176
- Final draft script: 5 August 1997 
- Day 1 – 7 August 1997, Thursday – Paramount Stage 8: Bridge, damaged bridge, briefing room
- Day 2 – 8 August 1997, Friday – Paramount Stage 8: Tuvok's bathroom, damaged mess hall
- Day 3 – 11 August 1997, Monday – Paramount Stage 8: Damaged bridge; Paramount Stage 9: Corridor
- Day 4 – 12 August 1997, Tuesday – Paramount Stage 9: Corridors, turbolift; Paramount Stage 8: Damaged ready room
- Day 5 – 13 August 1997, Wednesday – Paramount Stage 9: Horizontal and vertical Jefferies tubes, int. Krenim patrol ship/Krenim warship; Paramount Stage 8: Damaged bridge
- Day 6 – 14 August 1997, Thursday – Paramount Stage 9: Damaged corridors, damaged crew quarters; Paramount Stage 8: Damaged bridge
- Day 7 – 15 August 1997, Friday – Paramount Stage 9: Int. Krenim weapon ship (temporal chamber/Annorax's ready room)
- Day 8 – 18 August 1997, Monday – Paramount Stage 16: Astrometrics, damaged Astrometrics
- 2nd Unit – 22 September 1997, Monday – Paramount Stage 8: Bridge, ready room, Krenim weapon ship (temporal chamber)
- Airdate: 5 November 1997
Story and script
- This episode's plot was primarily influenced by "Before and After", a third season installment of Star Trek: Voyager that gives a preview of this episode by featuring both the Krenim and hints of a timeline in which Voyager undergoes the "Year of Hell", becoming badly damaged in the process. Episode co-writer Brannon Braga explained, "Although I don't like to do episodes that rely on other episodes for exposition, I loved the phrase 'Year of Hell' that Ken Biller came up with for that episode. I loved the look of the show. I loved the look of a destroyed Voyager. I wanted to do a whole two-parter like that." This episode's other co-writer, Joe Menosky, remembered, "This started with the phrase 'Year of Hell' which came out of 'Before and After'. Brannon loved the image […] The optical of the hull of the ship messed up in 'Before and After' because we were being attacked by the Krenim […] stayed, especially in Brannon's mind. He kept saying, 'I just want to wreck the ship.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Menosky also related, "What Brannon often does is come up with an image before there's even a story idea […] The imagistic inspiration for 'Year of Hell', without which it wouldn't have been created as an episode, was the ship all wrecked, a great look." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 75)
- The reuse of the phrase "Year of Hell" suggested other elements, such as having the two-parter span a year. Brannon Braga remembered, "The notion of having a story that took place over the course of a year […] I thought was a very fresh structural approach." The event also implied a reuse of the time-meddling Krenim. Joe Menosky commented, "We tend to do one big time thing a year, we're thinking should it be time travel? Despite the fact that it wasn't time travel the Krenim used some kind of temporal thing in their torpedoes." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- Indeed, considering the Krenim's destructive temporal capabilities led the writers to explore time travel in an unusual way. Joe Menosky recollected, "Brannon said, 'Time is a weapon. What does that mean?' I said, 'What if there was this big Death Star-like weapon, and you target a planet, and it blows it out of the time continuum? What you have done is erased a thread from the time continuum, everything resets, and suddenly the present is different.'" (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Braga was ultimately of the opinion that Annorax's meddling with time was analogous to an example of alternate history. "If you can imagine, to use an analogy, that the Nazis, after losing the Second World War, invented something like [Annorax's time ship] to erase the Americans from history so that they never existed. It would change the outcome of things," Braga speculated. "But what the Nazis don't realize is that the Americans provided a crucial antibody that helped the Germans fight off a deadly virus, and so they realize they've got to do something else to history. But that doesn't work either. When you pull one thread, another comes undone." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 15) By having the time continuum messed around in such a way but without departing from the present, the writers managed to come up with a method of doing a time travel story without actually doing time travel. "That was enough for us to start running with this as an episode," Menosky recalled. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- Tuvok was originally to have been more badly wounded in this episode rather than losing only his eyesight. "We were actually going to have him blind and missing a leg," Brannon Braga remembered, "and we were going to do a Forrest Gump-type of digital effect. He was going to have many physical problems, but for production reasons, we ended up with just blindness." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 100)
- This episode was originally to have been Star Trek: Voyager's third season finale. (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 12; Delta Quadrant, p. 207)
- The writing of this episode proved to be generally easier than what would follow: the development of most of the two-parter's conclusion. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
Cast and characters
- Brannon Braga believed that the concept embodied in the character of Annorax – a villain who uses time as a weapon – was (in common with the idea of spanning the episode's duology over the course of a year) "a very fresh […] approach." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- Before portraying Annorax in this episode's two-parter, Kurtwood Smith previously played the Efrosian Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Thrax in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Things Past". He believed his DS9 role was somewhat responsible for his casting here. "I guess the producers liked what I did on Deep Space Nine," he said, "and asked me to come back, which was fine with me." Ultimately, he enjoyed playing Annorax more than he had liked portraying his DS9 character. The actor stated, "Because Thrax was actually in the imagination of another character […] he wasn't quite as interesting to play as Annorax. He didn't have nearly as much to do." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- Kurtwood Smith was not a regular viewer of the Star Trek spin-off series but found himself watching Voyager to prepare for his role in this episode and the next. Shortly after completing work on the "Year of Hell" two-parter, Smith admitted, "Lately, I watched more of Voyager [than usual] because I was preparing to do my episodes and wanted to get a feel for what they do, how they do it, [and] what's expected of the guest actors." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- Both Joe Menosky and executive producer Jeri Taylor were extremely pleased with the performance that – for this episode and the next – Kurtwood Smith delivered, Menosky later describing Smith as "incredible." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Taylor appreciatively stated, "We got a wonderful performance from Kurtwood Smith." (Star Trek Monthly issue 36, p. 13)
- Brannon Braga observed that the cast of this episode seemed to be enjoying the process of working on the episode. He reckoned, "The actors I think had a lot of fun with it." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 109)
- Tuvok actor Tim Russ found that performing a blind Tuvok was somewhat challenging, despite also being refreshingly different from how he usually played the character. The reason he found it difficult was that his instincts, which he could not – on this occasion – allow, were normally to look another performer in the eye when they were speaking to him and to look straight at a member of the production crew if they had called to him from off-camera. "I had to reshoot it or do another take because I looked where I shouldn't have been looking, at the other actors," remembered Russ. He expected that his task of playing this role could have been aided, artificially. "I would almost rather have played it with something covering my eyes, rather than to pretend, because it would have been even more real for me," the actor admitted. "I think it would have changed the performance, if I could not see where I was going. I would have loved to have had that handicap somehow." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 100) Russ had very nearly played another blind character on Star Trek a decade earlier, having auditioned for the role of Geordi La Forge on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- Tim Russ also believed that this episode's two-parter contains an insightful exploration of the relationship between Tuvok and Seven of Nine. "You see how this bond could have occurred," he noted. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 101)
- Actor Robert Picardo was impressed by the visuals in this episode's two-parter. He enthused, "The 'Year in Hell' [sic] two-parter was really like a movie. The opticals were just as exciting as those you see on the big screen." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
Production and effects
- Kurtwood Smith found the production schedule of this episode to be somewhat overwhelming. "Because of the way the schedule worked," he recalled, "all of my scenes in the first part [of the two-parter] were compressed into one day. That was a little intense. We also shot the biggest, heaviest scenes at the day's end, so it was hard to have much energy by the time we got to them. Otherwise, it was great. The crew is wonderful." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 18)
- While the second scene in this episode was being shot, the principal cast members required for the filming became hysterically amused. "Everyone was there [on the set of Voyager's astrometrics lab] late and we were all a bit punchy," related Seven of Nine actress Jeri Ryan. "All I can remember is, oh, God, Robert Beltran, Tim Russ and Ethan Phillips hopping around the set doing their impressions of Michael Flatley, the Lord of the Dance guy. They were totally out of control. I was laughing so hard that I had tears running down my face." (TV Zone, Special #29, p. 20)
- One of the shots from the scene where Seven of Nine and Tuvok try to crawl away from the unstable chroniton torpedo on deck 11 has been sped up, to make it seem like Seven and Tuvok are crawling faster.
- Joe Menosky was delighted with Allan Kroeker's work on this episode and said of both parts of the "Year of the Hell" two-parter (despite each of the two episodes having been helmed by a different director) that they "were amazingly well directed." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Similarly, Brannon Braga enthused about this episode, "The production team really, really pulled it off." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 108 & 109)
- Joe Menosky was also thrilled by the chronological subtitles that are used in this episode and the next, which he once referred to as "great." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- The CGI effects of this episode's two-parter were provided by CGI supplier Foundation Imaging during an extremely busy period for the company; Foundation was also working on effects for DS9: "Sacrifice of Angels" and several other projects. CGI Effects Director Ron Thornton remarked, "We were absolutely hammering it out." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 16) Visual effects supervisor Ronald B. Moore and coordinator Elizabeth Castro were also instrumental in the creation of effects for this episode (as opposed to supervisor Mitch Suskin and coordinator Arthur Codron, who worked on the second half of the "Year of Hell" two-parter). (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) The look of this episode was added to in the compositing bay, by animation effects artist Greg Rainoff (who did likewise for the concluding half of the "Year of Hell" two-parter). (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, pp. 108-109)
- Creating the look of Voyager as it becomes more and more badly damaged, in this episode and the next, was a process that involved many steps. Ron Moore explained, "We got a lot of drawings from [senior illustrator] Rick Sternbach of different ways we could damage the Voyager. Then we made our plans all the way through the script." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108) Ron Thornton commented, "Fred Kuramura worked for several weeks building the different versions of Voyager that go through [various stages of destruction]. There were about four different stages of Voyager, in varying levels of disrepair. That took quite a lot of time, but it's one of those things that you never really see." (The Official Star Trek: Voyager Magazine issue 16)
- The elements of this episode that Ron Moore and Elizabeth Castro established included the look of the Krenim weapon ship, the temporal change wave and Voyager's astrometrics lab. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 108)
- On the third day of production, Monday 11 August 1997, an additional scene for the episode "Revulsion" was filmed. According to the call sheet, Paramount Stage 8 housed the set for this scene, Chakotay's office, and Robert Beltran and Garrett Wang were filmed.
Costumes and props
- The wall decoration in Annorax's ready room was previously seen as wall decoration in Proconsul Neral's office in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fifth season episodes "Unification I" and "Unification II", in the barbershop aboard the USS Enterprise-D in the sixth season episode "Schisms", in the reception area at Arkaria Base in the episode "Starship Mine", in the observation lounge in the seventh season episode "Parallels", and in Minister Kray's office in the first season episode "Ex Post Facto".
- Also present in Annorax's ready room are two bird statues which were turned around. These statues were previously seen in Marla Aster's home in the TNG third season episode "The Bonding", in the reception area at Arkaria Base in the sixth season episode "Starship Mine", and in the conference room of the Maquis in the seventh season episode "Preemptive Strike". They can also be seen in several scenes in "Year of Hell, Part II".
- Several costumes from this episode were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including John Austin's costume which was later re-used by Eric Hunter in the episode "Tsunkatse" and the costumes of John Thaddeus, Adrian Tafoya, Bob Shuttleworth, Peter Slutsker, Kurtwood Smith, and John Loprieno as well as Keith Rayve's distressed Starfleet uniform.        
- The events of this episode take place between March 16th and May 28th, 2374; Day 65 = May 20, and the episode ends on day 73.
- Although "Before and After"'s depiction of the "Year of Hell" is seen from the viewpoint of Kes – as she travels through time – her timeline in that episode is not related to any timeline seen in this episode, as Kes is obviously no longer aboard the ship at this point (having left in the earlier fourth season installment "The Gift"). Despite the differences between the timeline featured in "Before and After" and the one shown in this episode, Brannon Braga believed that fans would nonetheless understand that this episode shows an event first depicted in "Before and After". "The fans will recognize that that's what this is," Braga predicted. When asked whether Kes' absence from this episode's two-parter was problematic, Braga replied, "Not at all, because the episode also deals with [Annorax's extremely powerful influence on time]." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 15)
- At the end of "Before and After", Janeway asks Kes to reveal any information on the Krenim that Kes learned during her time jumps and Kes agrees to file a report. Even though the dialogue from "Year of Hell" doesn't directly reflect on any of the knowledge Kes shared, Tuvok picks up on the Krenim torpedo being in temporal flux as soon as the first torpedo hits, thus proving that Kes' report was indeed put to good use even though it wasn't officially acknowledged. However, it is unclear why the report that Kes was supposed to file wouldn't have included the precise chroniton frequency which would have enabled Voyager to implement their own time-flux shielding. This information was needed to fix Kes' condition in "Before and After". In this timeline, however, the frequency of the torpedo is still 1.47 microseconds, as it was in the earlier episode, with Seven of Nine crawling through the Jefferies tube rather than Kes.
- The stuck turbolift in the turboshaft footage in this episode was re-used from the Star Trek: The Next Generation fifth season episode "Disaster".
- In the scene where Kim and Torres play a trivia game (category: Interstellar History), there is a question concerning Zefram Cochrane who launched his first warp-driven starship and resulted to First Contact with the Vulcans; however Torres takes some time to recall the name of the ship (Phoenix). The dialogue is a clear acknowledgment to the events of Star Trek: First Contact.
- In a later scene, Seven of Nine tells Harry Kim and B'Elanna Torres that the Borg were present during that event. She claims it is "complicated" when they ask her to elaborate, as the Borg traveled through time to assimilate Humans and remove their resistance, similar to what the Krenim did to the Zahl. This reference to First Contact is also somewhat of an in-joke, as Brannon Braga co-wrote both this episode and that film. Having initially intended to insert an in-joke reference to First Contact in "Scorpion, Part II" (yet another Star Trek production that Brannon Braga co-wrote), Braga thereafter wrote the similar reference into this episode, doing so in a way that he later described as "a lighter fashion." Braga also said of the in-joke in this episode, "It's not a plot nod [...] It's just a little nod to the fans, who'll get a kick out of it." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 15)
- This episode establishes that Kathryn Janeway's birthday is May 20th.
- This episode also establishes that Voyager is 65,000 light years away from home.
- Astrometrics is unveiled for the first time in this episode, along with Captain Janeway's new shorter hairstyle worn loose, which she maintains for the remaining duration of the show.
Reception and aftermath
- This episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.7 million homes, and a 7% share.
- Midway through the fourth season of Star Trek: Voyager, Brannon Braga was particularly excited about this episode's two-parter and promised, "It will be fun." (Star Trek Monthly issue 34, p. 12) He later stated, "I was very pleased with 'Year of Hell'. It was very tight [....] It was one of those rare episodes, and even rarer two-parters, where all of the elements came together." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 109)
- This episode's two-parter proved unforgettable for Star Trek author Kirsten Beyer. Having started pitching stories to the producers by the time this installment was broadcast, she had heard about the idea of this episode from one of the producers. "One of them had been telling me about this concept they were working on…this 'Year of Hell' that would strip the ship down to its bare bones," Beyer reflected. "I was all for it. I was expecting it to last an entire season, which was one of the early discussions." Beyer was pleased with the first part of the duology, which she defined as "fabulous." 
- Cinefantastique rated this episode 3 and a half out of 4 stars. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 30, No. 9/10, p. 88)
- Star Trek Monthly scored this episode 5 out of 5 stars. (Star Trek Monthly issue 39, p. 62)
- The unauthorized reference book Delta Quadrant (p. 209) gives the installment a rating of 9 out of 10.
- The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode and the concluding part of its two-parter as being, together, one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Voyager.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 4.4, catalog number VHR 4625, 4 May 1998
- In feature-length form, as part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: Voyager - Movies: Volume 2 (with "Scorpion"), catalogue number VHR 5072, 18 September 2000
- As part of the VOY Season 4 DVD collection
- As part of the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Time Travel collection
Links and references
- Robert Beltran as Chakotay
- Roxann Dawson as B'Elanna Torres
- Robert Duncan McNeill as Tom Paris
- Ethan Phillips as Neelix
- Robert Picardo as The Doctor
- Tim Russ as Tuvok
- Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine
- Garrett Wang as Harry Kim
Special guest star
- Peter Slutsker as Krenim Commandant
- Rick Fitts as Zahl
- Deborah Levin as Ensign Lang
- Sue Henley as Ensign Brooks
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
- John Austin as Krenim officer
- Cameron as command division officer
- Steve Carnahan as operations division officer
- Cullen Chambers as operations division officer
- John Copage as science division officer
- Damaris Cordelia as Foster
- Carrie Dolin as operations division officer
- Patrick Emery as command division officer
- Tarik Ergin as Ayala
- Kevin Finister as operations division officer
- Holiday Freeman as operations division officer
- Caroline Gibson as operations division officer
- J. Hernandez as science division officer
- Kerry Hoyt as Fitzpatrick
- Alicia Lewis as sciences officer
- Susan Lewis as operations division officer
- Rad Milo as operations division officer
- Heather Rattray as operations division officer
- Keith Rayve as command division officer
- Jennifer Riley as science division officer
- Joey Sakata as science division officer
- Richard Sarstedt as William McKenzie
- Lydia Shiferaw as command division officer
- Bob Shuttleworth as Krenim officer
- Pablo Soriano as operations division ensign
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division officer
- Adrian Tafoya as Krenim officer
- John Tampoya as Kashimuro Nozawa
- John Thaddeus as Krenim officer
- Unknown performers as
- Cameron – stand-in for Jeri Ryan
- Sylvester Foster – stand-in for Rick Fitts
- Mike Fujimoto – stand-in for Garrett Wang
- Sue Henley – stand-in for Kate Mulgrew
- Susan Lewis – stand-in for Roxann Dawson and Kate Mulgrew
- Lemuel Perry – stand-in for Tim Russ
- J.R. Quinonez – stand-in for Robert Picardo and Kurtwood Smith
- Keith Rayve – stand-in for Robert Duncan McNeill, John Loprieno, and Peter Slutsker
- Jennifer Riley – stand-in for Deborah Levin
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Robert Beltran
- Simon Stotler – stand-in for Ethan Phillips
- John Tampoya – stand-in for Garrett Wang
- Unknown performers as
- Hand double for Robert Beltran
- Hand double for John Loprieno
20th century; 2342; 47; adage; "all hands"; Alpha Quadrant; annexation; antibody; astrometric database; Astrometrics; athlete; athletics; battle stations; birthday; blindness; blood; boot; Borg; bow; "brace for impact"; British Navy; cargo container; cat burglar; category; Cat's Eye Nebula; causality paradox; chroniton; chroniton torpedo; chronometer; class M; Cochrane, Zefram; Cray; Cray's crew; Cray's ship; crew quarters; cup; damage report; deck; Deflector Control; Delta Quadrant; Eagle Nebula; Earth; emergency hand actuator; emergency power; emergency ration; entertainment; environmental control; EPS manifold; generation; escape pod; evasive maneuvers; Federation; First Contact; force field; Gable, Clark; general court martial; Garenor; Garenor homeworld; gift; globe; Grant, Cary; Grid 005; harbor; hatch; honeycomb; hull breach; inanimate object; inaprovaline; initials; internal bleeding; Intrepid-class; intruder alert; Jefferies tube; Kelly, Grace; Klingon; Krenim; Krenim Imperium; Krenim patrol ship; Krenim space; Krenim weapon ship; Krenim warship; Kyana Prime; laceration; lung; Maquis; mariner; mess hall; meter; Milky Way Galaxy; mirror; Mister Vulcan; Montana; parrises squares; parsec; Phoenix; plank; pocket watch; port; power grid; purée; RADAR; razorblade; R'Cho, M'Kota; red alert; referee; replicator; resistance quotient; Rilnar; Riviera; sail; Saturn; security team; sensor; shaving; sickbay; sink; spacetime continuum; square meter; star; Starfleet Academy; steamship; structural integrity field; subspace; subspace beacon; tactile interface; Talaxian; temporal disruption; temporal energy; temporal incursion; temporal shield; temporal science; tissue; Titanic, RMS; To Catch a Thief; towel; trace element; transverse bulkhead; triage; tricorder; turbolift; turbolift system; Veil Nebula; vertebra; Vulcan; "Year of Hell"; yellow alert; Zahl; Zahl starship; Zahl homeworld
- "Year of Hell" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Year of Hell" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Year of Hell" at Wikipedia
| Previous episode:|
| Star Trek: Voyager|
| Next episode:|
"Year of Hell, Part II"