Secret messages, a new starship and hope…Voyager style.  Originally broadcast on May 20, 1998 this is Hope and Fear.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 51978.2 Hope and Fear

With the Starfleet communique decoded, Voyager is led to a new Starship with the capability to get them home…however everything is not what they seem.

The Story:

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After a bitter Seven loses a game of Velocity to Janeway, the Captain uses some of her downtime to continue working on the encrypted message they picked up from the Hirogen Network months earlier.  Although B’Elanna believes it to be a fools errand, Janeway is determined.  Soon Chakotay reports that Tom and Neelix are returning from a supply run with an alien named Arturis in tow who will be traveling with them for a short while. Janeway and Chakotay discuss Seven’s attitude and the Commander suggests that the former Drone could assist Janeway in her pursuit for the elusive Star Fleet message.

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Neelix and Paris arrive with their new friend, Arturis, and immediately the alien finds kinship among the crew.  Able to adapt to practically any language in no time at all, he quickly gains Janeway’s trust and offers to assist in her mission to decode the Star Fleet message. The two meet in Astrometrics with Seven where he discovers that she is a former drone.  Seemingly unaffected by this revelation he begins working on the message.  Conveniently he is able to decode much of the data revealing Admiral Hayes and a map to a specific area of space not far from them.  Hoping that this is good news, Janeway sets course for the spacial grid indicated.  They soon arrive only to find a starship that has a Federation Warp signature…

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After asking Arturis to help decode the rest of the Star Fleet message, Janeway sends an away team to the new ship to see what they can find.  The team discover that it is the USS Dauntless NX-01A and is an experimental ship that has traveled from the Alpha quadrant in a relatively short time.  Examining the ship, the team discover that the engine is a new style using a strange element to power a quantum slipstream drive allowing the ship to travel previously unknown speeds.  Suddenly the ship powers up and begins to move away from Voyager via auto-pilot.   The Dauntless goes into Slipstream Warp and speeds away from Voyager in seconds with the away team unable to stop it.  Soon Paris is able to slow the ship down and, when they finally come out of warp, they find they have traveled a considerable distance in only a few moments.

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Returning to Voyager, the senior staff watch the now reconstructed communication from Star Fleet.  On it, Admiral Hayes informs the crew that the ship was sent to them as a means to get them home.  That, although experimental, they believe that slipstream technology will be safe for their use.  However, use of the ship would mean that they would have to abandon Voyager leaving valuable Federation technology behind and possibly stranding them if the Dauntless proves unreliable.  Hopeful, yet skeptical, Captain Janeway decides to conduct a series of tests on Dauntless and possibly install a version of the Slipstream Drive on Voyager itself.  She also notes that ever since Arturis arrived things have been going too well for the crew and asks Tuvok to keep an eye on their new friend.

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As the crew begin working on the new ship and learn all they can about this new engine, Janeway digs deeper into the message from Star Fleet and finds something disturbing.  The real message from Admiral Hayes is not one of discovery but one of apology.  It seems that the Federation has not been able to find a method for Voyager to return but they have send as much data they had on the Delta Quadrant in the hopes that the lost crew could use it.  Janeway realizes that their new friend has been lying to them and contacts Tuvok confirming her suspicions.

As Janeway makes her discovery, Harry discovers something strange of his own, part of the bulkhead changes showing it to be something very different.  The Ensign Reports his findings to Tuvok as well.

Janeway arrives on the dauntless with a security escort informing the crew to evacuate the ship.  Confronting Arturis, the alien immediately attempts to lay blame on Seven.  Janeway dismisses this claim and attempts to detain the alien only for Arturis to reveal the real look of the ship allowing him to block the transporters and kidnap Janeway and Seven aboard the Dauntless.

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Aboard the Dauntless Arturis reveals that this has been a trap for Janeway and her crew as their actions led to the destruction of his people.  It seems that Voyager’s assistance in defeating Species 8472 allowed the Borg to turn their collective eye on Arturis’ homeworld where they assimilated nearly everyone after they had spent decades avoiding the Borg.  Laying the blame for this tragedy on Janeway he plotted and planned to get revenge on the Captain and her crew.  His revenge, returning her to his home planet in hopes that she too will become assimilated.

On Voyager, The crew test out the new Slipstream drive recently installed on the ship to give chase but soon find that the new engines could pull their ship apart.  Using his knowledge of warp theory, Paris aligns Voyager to ride in the wake of the Dauntless in order to keep up with the fleeing ship.

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On the Dauntless Janeway and Seven find themselves in the brig and find a way out using Seven’s cranial implants and find their way to the ships Engineering in hopes to stop the ship.  Unable to stop the ship, Janeway finds a way to turn the ship causing Arturis trouble in maintaining the warp field.  Janeway tries to talk with Arturis but is unable to get through his vendetta.  Determined to destroy the Captain one way or another, Arturis destroys the navigation controls and informs Janeway that no one can get them out of the slipstream now and they will be in Borg Space in mere moments.   Just them Voyager fires on the Dauntless allowing them to beam Janeway and Seven back to the ship leaving Arturis to head into Borg Space to be assimilated by the very enemy he had once fled.

Back on Voyager, Janeway confirms that they were able to maintain slipstream drive for a short while getting them three hundred light-years closer to home before the drive burned out.  Back on the holodeck Seven and Janeway play another game of Velocity.  There Seven indicates that she is working on a new slipstream drive in the hopes to find a way for Voyager to get back home, despite her trepidation to return to humanity.  The two continue their game with Janeway believing that Seven may finally be realizing her own humanity.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

This is it, the finale of season four and what a finale it is. As the title suggests, this episode plays off of the very hopes and fears of the crew of Voyager.  After many failed attempts to get home, Janeway has never given up hope in finding some way, no matter how unlikely, to get her crew home. So, when a gift-horse literally falls into her lap, Janeway is not one to accept it without checking out it’s teeth first.

The thing I like most about this episode is that it is not only a plausible scenario that Star Fleet would attempt but it also ties back to one of Voyager’s earlier adventures this season.  It seems rare in this series for there to be real repercussions for past actions of the crew but this is just that, a significant repercussion for what seemed to be an innocent attempt to negotiate with the Borg.

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It seems that Janeway’s brief alliance with the Borg was far more impactful than she could have imagined, effectively altering the balance of power in the sector that they believed was fully dominated by the Borg themselves.  Not once did Janeway consider that the Borg’s battle with Species 8472 would allow other species a chance to hide or regroup and for this Janeway is indeed responsible for the assimilation of Arturis’ people.  The thing is, what choice did she have? From the beginning of the series Janeway has made it clear that, while they would follow the prime directive, they would do everything they could to survive and get home.  At the time encountering the Borg was certainly the last thing on their mind as, well, no one knew where the Borg were from and why would anyone expect them to show up in the Delta Quadrant?  So when faced with this chance to save her crew by making a deal with the devil…well she did all she could, she chose the people she knew and loved without thinking about the ramifications of that choice.  So yes, she is somewhat at fault for the assimilation of Arturis’ people, but at the same time she really didn’t have many options.

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Additionally, While Arturis is rightfully upset, his vengeance is somewhat misplaced.  While the Borg were indeed a scourge on Arturis’ people, what he didn’t realize was the greater threat that Species 8472 posed.  In fact, it would have been likely that Species 8472’s next target would have been any nearby species which would certainly include Arturis’ people. So, again, what would have changed if Janeway had not made the deal with the Borg.  Sure, The Borg would have been gone but, as we learned, Species 8472 did not plan to stop there, they intended to destroy all biological life in our galaxy as they too were on a vendetta of their own.  Looking at it from this light, we see that there are many layers of blame here that present a moral shade of grey.  That, is where Voyager excels.  Much of the series plays off of the idea of quick decisions and tough choices but many of these choices have a complexity that is only revealed when you dig in.  While not every episode manages this level of storytelling, it is when the series writers really dive in that the series really shines.

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There are other really interesting things in this episode as well that add to the character development in and beyond the series.  One very brief conversation between Torres and Seven made me wonder if this episode was not the catalyst for much of what we saw in Star Trek Picard in regards to Seven of Nine. Torres mentions that both she and Seven would essentially be outcasts with Torres being a former Maquis member and Seven being a former Drone.  Torres indicates that Seven’s status as a former Drone could make her acclimation to life with humans difficult as, well, there is a bias concerning the Borg themselves.  This very thing is not only mentioned but seen in the Picard Series with Seven indeed an outcast and the former Drones, or xB as they are called, being treated as second class citizens.

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While we don’t see the same with the former Maquis crew I always speculated that their homecoming would not have been the grand one we had all hoped for.  In fact many of the former Maquis members were criminals with a history.  While their time aboard Voyager could have been considered time served, it would not surprise me that they had a rough go of it returning to Federation space.  When this series first aired I had a fan theory surrounding this very thing that I had expected (hoped) to play out.  I speculated that Voyager would return home much sooner than than it did and the remainder of the series would deal with Janeway attempting to protect her crew from being taken.  My fan theory led me to think we could even get a spinoff series, which I titled Star Trek Renegade, involving Janeway rejecting Star Fleet’s attempts to arrest her Maquis crew and attempting to hide them from Star Fleet.  While we know this never happened and Janeway would eventually become an Admiral, I have to wonder what befell the crew upon their return home.

One other rather frightening implication this episode poses is that of the Borg themselves.  Near the end of the episode, The Borg assimilate Arturis and his ship.  While this doesn’t seem significant…think again.  This means that the Borg now posses a slipstream drive AND, from Arturis’ logs know much more about Voyager’s travels since leaving Borg Space.  Arturis himself mentioned that he had been watching Voyager for some time so he is sure to have a significant amount of data on the ship and it’s crew.   Could the Borg use this information to their advantage…I mean Arturis surely isn’t the only one wishing for revenge upon Voyager.

Overall, this is a great finale for the season and one that really sets things up for season five without resorting to the classic cliffhanger we have all come to know and love.  With only three seasons remaining…you know that this crew has many more adventures ahead of it.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

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  • 4 photon torpedoes fired, 15 remaining.
  • 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -1 remaining
  • Keen eyed viewers will recognize Ray Wise in the role of Arturis.  While Wise is known for some of his more comedic roles he simply nails his portrayal of the alien on a vendetta.
  • You will also notice a VERY pregnant B’Elanna Torres in this episode as they aren’t really able to hide actor Roxann Dawson’s real life pregnancy as well as they had been much of the season.

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 Season Five Premiere: Night

For more reviews: check out the weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game  11/2/2020

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Seven informs Janeway that she plans to take Voyager when the crew leaves in order to start her own series called Seven of Nine: Coast to Coast.  She plans to turn Voyager into an entertainment hub and broadcast her show throughout the galaxy with special guest stars every week. Janeway is not amused.

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.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

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