Voyager receives news but someone is determined to keep it from them. Originally broadcast on February 11, 1998 this is Hunters.
Captain’s Log Stardate 51501.4 Hunters
After receiving a partial message from Star Fleet, the crew of Voyager investigate why the transmission was abruptly halted. They soon discover something dangerous.
Voyager receives a transmission from Star Fleet but it is cut off abruptly just before the message is completed. As Janeway orders to ship to investigate, the Hirogen that Seven of Nine ‘attacked’ in the previous episode prepares to intercept the offending crew.
After much speculation as to what could be in the Star Fleet transmission, Voyager encounters a derelict ship where they find the former occupants to have been gutted. Seven notes that the Borg have encountered similar events in the region but never discovered who committed the act or why it occurred.
Arriving at the relay station, they soon determine that it is over 100,000 years old and uses a quantum singularity as a power source. Due to this, they can not get Voyager as close as they would like but are able to access the data stream containing the Star Fleet transmission. As Seven begins to download it, Janeway realizes that the damaged data stream contains communications from the crew’s loved ones.
As the Moral Officer, Neelix becomes the ships mail carrier and happily begins bringing the letters to the crew-members throughout the ship. As he makes his rounds Seven informs the Captain that there is a heavily encrypted message that she believes to be information from Starfleet, possibly a way home. Janeway advises caution and asks the former drone to temper any expectations as it could lead to some upset crew-members.
While some of the crew receive good news, not all of the messages are positive ones. While Janeway receives a heartbreaking message from her fiance Mark, Chakotay learns that the Maquis has been wiped out by the Cardassians and many of their friends have been imprisoned. Torres is infuriated by the news as well vows vengeance.
Soon Seven realizes that the signal is degrading to rapidly and the only way to not lose more data is to go to the relay in person. Asking the despondent Janeway for the use of a shuttle, Janeway agrees assigning Tuvok to accompany her. The two head out on their mission, despite Seven questioning why she is being sent with a ‘supervisor’. Just as they arrive they find themselves under attack by another ship which knocks out all of their defensive capabilities. Unable to fend off the attacker, Tuvok launches a distress beacon before they are overcome.
Back on Voyager the crew begin to come to accept the news from Star Fleet, both good and bad. Torres has started to come to terms with the fall of the Maquis and urges Tom to read the letter from his estranged Father when she gets it downloaded. Meanwhile we learn that Janeway’s fiance has moved on, finally accepting that she was likely dead, Mark has married someone else. Dealing with the news, Janeway is forced to accept that her fiance would have moved on at some point. Discussing the matter with Chakotay, they are interrupted by a distress call from Seven and Tuvok’s seemingly abandoned shuttle.
On the Hirogen ship, Seven and Tuvok awake to find themselves captive. Referred to as Prey by the Hirogen, Seven sees that the alien who has captured them is the same one she had shocked when he warned her to stop using the relay system. Seven warns Idrin that he will have a hard time facing Janeway but Idrin only takes this as a challenge. Moving into stalking mode, the Hirogen ship begins hunting Voyager which is only a short distance away.
On Voyager, Kim detects the Hirogen ship and Janeway attempts to negotiate with Idrin. Soon more Hirogen ships begin to arrive and Voyager prepares for a battle. With Torres still downloading the data from Star Fleet, Janeway buys her time believing that they can use the relay station’s quantum singularity as an advantage in their fight. Firing an anti-thoron burst at the station, the Hirogen ships are pulled toward the singularity allowing Tuvok and Seven to free themselves and begin fighting back. Unfortunately the anti-thoron burst has collapsed the signal preventing any more of the messages from being retrieved.
Despite the danger of the singularity, the Hirogen continue attacking, prompting Janeway to flee just as the relay’s containment field collapses. Voyager is able to make it out of the gravitational pull of the singularity, and manage to beam Seven and Tuvok back at the last moment. The Hirogen ships are pulled into the singularity as Voyager narrowly escapes.
Tragically the destruction of the relay has destabilized the entire relay system causing their one means of communication to Star Fleet to go dark. Torres was able to retrieve most of the Star Fleet encrypted text and a few more letters but much of the remaining was lost. With the final letter going to Harry Kim, Torres informs Paris that the letter from his father was irretrievable.
Tuvok briefs Janeway on the danger the Hirogen presents, indicating that they are indeed a formidable foe. Chakotay soon joins Janeway for coffee and the two begin discussing the new information they learned from the transmissions and from their recent experience. It seems they both have a lot to figure out. Janeway, now officially single, mentions that even if she had known she was ‘alone’ she would never have had time for a relationship as it was.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
I have a love hate relationship with the Hirogen. I love them because, dude you can not deny that they are a rather formidable addition to the Voyager mythos. These beings are a race of hunters, a species that has no qualms about killing and are essentially the antithesis of everything the crew of Voyager stands for. So, of course, these armor clad, clearly bad ass aliens were something I loved when this series first aired. Who wouldn’t be interested in a species who wears cool armor, can cloak themselves, collect trophies from various species in the form of their skulls and….oh wait…yeah that is where the hate comes in….this is basically The Predator.
I mean, it is kinda obvious that the producers of Voyager basically ripped off one of the most iconic alien hunters in science fiction. From the armor to the attitude, the only real exception to this is that they communicate much more fluently and that can be explained by the use of the Universal Translator. I remember, back before this aired, rumor that there would be a Predator/Star Trek crossover. This was after the advent of the Alien Vs Predator comics and so many of us longed for more exiting crossovers between our favorite franchises. Star Trek was, of course, a rather obvious choice for a crossover and frankly it would have been pretty great, if not problematic. I mean, opening that door would have really altered the Trek timeline in some rather uncomfortable ways so I am kinda glad it didn’t happen. That being said, Every time I watch this series I find myself both excited and dismayed by the existence of the Hirogen. To me they represent a cheap knock off, a lost opportunity as well as a rather cool species that actually comes into it’s own over time. All that aside, I do love how the Hirogen were introduced and how they represent a fundamental flaw in the series itself. Much of Voyager’s actions have gone with little to no consequences so, for a singular event to spawn a villain such as the Hirogen is a bit of a comfort, indicating that maybe, by this point in the series, the writers have realized that Voyager needs to face the repercussions of their constant blind rush into things.
One of the plot points I really wish had been explored further is the broken encrypted Star Fleet transmission. While this does become a key plot point in a future episode, I feel it should have been something more devastating to the crew. You have to understand, while Voyager has been trying to find a way home, the Alpha Quadrant has been in a bitter battle with the Dominion/Cardassian alliance. This is mentioned briefly when Chakotay learns that the Maquis has been destroyed but not much is done with this knowledge other than some frustration and lamentation. I remember thinking that this message would have something to do with the Maquis crew or maybe a message asking Voyager to alter course to gather an armada to help in the fight against the Dominion. Remember, that the Dominion War was not going well for Star Fleet so to have a chance at reinforcements would not be unexpected. Unfortunately neither of these things are ever addressed…
One massive plot point that is left hanging is the relay stations themselves. The episode makes a major point to acknowledge that these stations are at least 100,000 years old and Janeway even mentions that she is excited to explore who they came from. Yet…we learn nothing. The very idea that there was an ancient super advanced race that could make this massive relay station is something that seems ripe for a series like Voyager to explore. But no, it is simply destroyed and forgotten about. I mean, you have to wonder, if the Hirogen were using it and it was as big as it appeared…what other races were dependent on this relay station? How many other cultures were affected by the destruction of this ancient system….and besides….who built it and why? Sadly…we will never know.
In addition to the Predator ripoffs and the open plot threads, One thing really struck me as odd in this episode, why would Neelix hand deliver messages using PADD’s? I mean, I get the need to show people getting messages for story purposes, but it doesn’t make much sense in the overall narrative. Voyager has had a constant issue with supplies and resources so, why would they replicate dozens of PADDs just to deliver messages to the crew? Not only that, why would these messages be delivered randomly throughout the ship instead of at the quarters of the crew members. Would it not have been much easier and more cost effective for the ship to send everyone’s messages directly to their quarters? I mean, we know that everyone has at least one PADD or computer terminal in their personal quarters, and even in the 90’s instant messaging was a thing, so it seems likely that every crew-member could have had this information sent directly to them saving the ship a ton of resources. Was this Janeway throwing Neelix a bone making him feel useful? I mean, it does seem like something Janeway would do but still…
Overall, not a bad episode but one that probably could have been handled better. This is yet another example of a story that could have been extended out over several episodes building more hope for the crew while developing a new threat at the same time. To me, the relay should have been an ongoing plot point with it’s ultimate destruction being a hard decision that Janeway had to make rather than a simple yet convenient accident separating Voyager from the Alpha Quadrant even moreso.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 20 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -1 remaining
- We see more of the development of Seven in this one as she begins to ask about her place on the ship. It is clear that she is beginning to accept Janeway’s judgement and is even beginning to respect the Captain’s opinions.
- The fate of The Doctor is brought into question as Seven points out that, should they return, he would likely be reprogrammed despite his newfound sentiance. I have to wonder, after what we saw in Picard, if this is not what happened…
- Additionally, we see further development in the Torres/Paris relationship. One major revelation is how Paris is afraid of any changes that might come to Voyager. Having had a difficult life, the young officer is finally finding a home and doesnt want it to end anytime soon.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Prey
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Late To The Game 10/9/2020
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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