“Hope and Fear”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 4, Episode 26
Production episode 194
Original air date: May 20, 1998
Captain’s log. Seven and Janeway are playing Velocity on the holodeck. Seven is frustrated by the fact that Janeway is doing better than her. Given her physical and mental acuity thanks to being a former drone, she should defeat Janeway every time. Seven wants a rematch, but Janeway refuses.
Janeway has continued to try to decode the message from Starfleet they downloaded from the Hirogen communications network, to no avail. Chakotay informs her that Paris and Neelix are back from obtaining supplies, and are also requesting permission to take on a passenger who helped them out.
That passenger, Arturis, is an alien with a facility for languages. Seven recognizes him as a member of Species 116, whom they were never able to assimilate. Arturis’ linguistic facilities are such that he also can translate encryptions, so Janeway asks for his help with the Starfleet message.
Arturis is partly successful and they see a particular set of coordinates. They get there to find a Starfleet ship with a unique configuration, the U.S.S. Dauntless. It has a quantum slipstream drive that kicks in unexpectedly, yanking the ship and its boarding party of Chakotay, Tuvok, and Paris many light-years ahead. It takes Voyager two days to catch up.
In those two days, Arturis is able to decode more of the message from Starfleet, including a message from Admiral Hayes: the Dauntless is an experimental ship that will get them home way way faster, assuming they can figure out how it works.
The crew gets to work learning the Dauntless systems, and also working to see if they can install the slipstream on Voyager. Janeway doesn’t wish to just abandon Voyager and bugger off on the Dauntless if they can avoid it, though the latter ship can accommodate the entire crew.
Seven is ambivalent about whether or not she wants to accompany the crew back to the Alpha Quadrant. Janeway refuses to just abandon her in this region of space, but Seven expects that everyone in the Federation will have the same revulsed reaction to her that Arturis has.
Janeway is also suspicious of Arturis, as they’ve suddenly gotten everything they wanted as soon as he came on board. She has Tuvok investigate him further. Meanwhile, she tries to work on the part of the message that Artruis claimed was too degraded to decode. Sure enough, a new algorithm does the trick and it’s another message from Hayes saying they have no way of getting them home faster, but he’s sent along everything they have on the Delta Quadrant. Janeway realizes that Arturis has been lying to them and created a false message from Hayes.
During a test run, Kim detects some anomalous readings, eventually discovering alien technology behind a bulkhead. He alerts Tuvok, and now they have double proof that Arturis’ pants are on fire. Janeway beams over with a security team, but Arturis is able to resist (Tuvok’s phaser fire barely affects him), revealing that the Dauntless isn’t a Starfleet ship. He puts the away team into a force field, but Kim is able to beam people out one at a time. He gets everyone except Janeway and Seven before Arturis kicks in the slipstream drive and they fly away.
Chakotay has Torres bring Voyager’s attempt at a slipstream drive online and Paris sets a course to fly after the Dauntless.
Arturis reveals that this is all an elaborate revenge scheme against Voyager for striking a deal with the Borg to fight against Species 8472. After they defeated 8472, the Borg finally were able to assimilate Arturis’ people. He’s one of the few survivors of his species, and he disguised his ship as a Starfleet vessel and has been following Voyager for the last nine months, gathering data and figuring out a way to use their fervent desire to get home against them. He had hoped to get the entire crew onto the Dauntless and then deliver them to the Borg to be assimilated, but he’ll settle for the two he has.
Janeway and Seven are placed in the brig while the Dauntless heads toward Borg space. Janeway is able to modify Seven’s cranial implant so she can create the nanoprobes necessary to allow her to pass through the force field. They then sabotage the slipstream drive, sending the Dauntless in a new direction inside the slipstream and freezing the navigation controls so the ship can’t be stopped. Just then, Voyager catches up and fires on the Dauntless.
Chakotay beams Janeway and Seven back to Voyager and then has Paris make a U-turn, leaving Arturis (who refuses Janeway’s offer to come back to Voyager with them, a pretty generous offer, all things considered) to be assimilated by the Borg.
Eventually, the slipstream drive burns out, but it gets them three hundred light-years closer to home. Janeway and Seven go to the holodeck for a Velocity rematch.
Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Quantum slipstream drive is significantly faster than warp drive, doesn’t require dilithium or antimatter, and is easy enough for Paris to figure out how to navigate in it in a few days. Pity the plot requires that it only work for the duration of this episode…
There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway believes that Arturis’ help is too good to be true, and it’s to her credit that she’s right. She also tries to teach Seven a lesson in trusting your instincts, which is tough, as she doesn’t really have any.
Mr. Vulcan. When Janeway asks Tuvok why she isn’t more enthusiastic about finding a way home, Tuvok dryly replies, “Perhaps my mental discipline is rubbing off on you.” His security detail also completely fails to restrain one single alien.
Forever an ensign. Kim tries to convince Seven that she’ll love Earth, really. Seven is skeptcial.
Half and half. We discover that Torres speaks very little Klingon when Arturis apologizes to her in that language and she doesn’t recognize the phrase.
Resistance is futile. Seven admits eventually to Janeway that she’s frightened of going to Earth, as she doesn’t know what she’ll face there.
What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. Velocity is played on the holodeck, involving firing phasers at a flying disk.
“That’s strange, I thought we already recovered this part of the message.”
“Perhaps it is an addendum from the admiral. You did designate him a windbag.”
–Janeway and Seven upon recovering the real message from Hayes.
Welcome aboard. The great Ray Wise, probably best known for his role as Leland Palmer in Twin Peaks (not to mention his great work as the devil in Reaper), plays Arturis in his second Trek appearance, having previously played Liko in TNG’s “Who Watches the Watchers?” Jack Shearer reprises his role as Admiral Hayes from First Contact, a role he will reprise once again in “Life Line.” Shearer previously played a different admiral in “Non Sequitur,” as well as a Bolian and a Romulan on DS9, in, respectively, “The Forsaken” and “Visionary.”
Trivial matters: This is the second time Voyager ends a season not on a cliffhanger, the previous being the first with “Learning Curve.” It won’t happen again until the series finale, “Endgame.”
Janeway made the deal with the Borg to join forces against Species 8472 in the “Scorpion” two-parter, which is when Seven was severed from the Borg Collective, and also when her cranial implant’s ability to manufacture nanoprobes was disabled. Seven became part of the crew in “The Gift.” Those episodes are established as taking place nine months prior to this one. The message from Starfleet was received in “Hunters,” which is stated as being five months previous.
This episode establishes that Admiral Hayes survived the Borg attack on Sector 001 in First Contact, even though his flagship was destroyed.
The game of Velocity is first seen here, and will be mentioned several more times in the future (as soon as the very next episode, “Night”).
Voyager will continue to experiment with the quantum slipstream drive, taking another shot at using it in “Timeless.” In the novels that have taken place in the years following Voyager’s return home in “Endgame,” the Federation has used Voyager’s data to finally create a working quantum slipstream drive, used in the Vesta-class ships (introduced in the Destiny trilogy by David Mack), among others. Using the slipstream drive, a fleet led by Voyager was sent back to the Delta Quadrant in the novel Full Circle by Kirsten Beyer and its nine sequels.
Set a course for home. “You belong with us.” I keep going ’round and ’round about this episode. On the one hand, it’s a perfect coda to the season that started with “Scorpion.” I like seeing Voyager suffer the unintended consequences of their dubious alliance with the Borg in that season-spanning two-parter, and the message from Starfleet really needed to have been decoded already. And Ray Wise is a great actor, and he’s much better in this part than he was in the awful “Who Watches the Watchers?” He gives Arturis a subdued anger and a simmering hatred that he plays really well.
But his plan is also remarkably complicated, and depends on Arturis being incredibly ridiculously skilled. He’s able to, first of all, find Voyager. Keep in mind that very shortly after their alliance with the Borg was sundered, Kes was kind enough to vault them 10,000 light-years. Now thanks to the quantum slipstream drive, he could obviously catch up to them—not to mention getting them back to the heart of Borg space in this episode—but that doesn’t explain how he found them. How did he know where to look? Heck, how did he even find out about Voyager’s alliance? It was made in a region of space that was pretty well dominated by the Borg. I mean, I supposed word could still have traveled—gossip is the only thing that travels faster than the speed of light on its own, after all.
And he’s so perfectly able to re-create Starfleet tech and listen in on Voyager’s communications, so much so that it honestly strains credulity. I mean, yes, these are people who resisted the Borg for quite some time, and they have tech way in advance of the Federation’s, but still.
On top of that, while it’s good that the crew is confronted with those aforementioned unintended consequences, there’s no apology, no regret, no recrimination. Janeway’s alliance with the Borg was directly responsible for a genocide. Probably multiple genocides, given that it’s, y’know, the Borg. Now it’s possible Species 8472 would’ve been worse, but we really have no way of knowing. All we know for sure is that they were defending their territory from a Borg incursion into fluidic space. On the other hand, we know what the Borg does, and it’s not very nice. Some guilt on the part of our heroes would not have been untoward, is what I’m saying, and there’s none of it.
Also Seven’s through-line in this episode is whiplash inducing. The previous episode ended with her willingly sitting down in the mess hall and gossiping with Torres, Kim, and Paris, and now here she is going on to Janeway about how she wants to leave the ship and they all suck for being ungrateful to her, and the Alpha Quadrant sounds horrible, thanks.
I like the fact that Janeway is skeptcial and less than enthusiastic, partly because they’ve been down this road before and had a way home yanked out from under them (as indeed happens this time), and I especially like the conversation that she and Chakotay have near the top of the episode agonizing over what might be in the coded message.
But it would’ve been nice to see what the crew is thinking about this possible trip home. Most of it is geebling over the new technology. What I found especially mind-boggling is Torres’s complete 180 on the subject of getting back to the AQ. Back in “Eye of the Needle,” she evinced no enthusiasm for going home, saying that her only real family were the Maquis on Voyager. Now it’s several years later, she’s in a happy stable relationship, she’s found a job and purpose she’s good at, and, oh yeah, the Maquis have been utterly destroyed. And what’s her response to Seven’s query about going home? “I’d rather face the music back home than spend the rest of my life in the Delta Quadrant.” What’s changed? Why this complete reversal when externally it looks like she’s actually found purpose and happiness on Voyager? Why is B’Elanna “screw the consequence, just get shit done” Torres suddenly okay with facing the music?
(The least charitable answer is just that scripters Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky forgot about that particular aspect of Torres’s character, which is not a good look for two of the top guys on the writing staff.)
Having said all that, the episode itself works nicely as a season finale, has some fun mysteries to solve and twists and turns and things. I like Janeway and Seven’s discourse on instincts versus sheer intellectualism, reminiscent as it is of Spock and McCoy’s arguments on similar subjects on the original series, and Janeway’s conversations with Seven, with Chakotay, and with Tuvok are some of the best material in the episode. And it nicely brings closure to two of the biggest themes of the season, the addition of Seven to the crew and finally making contact with the Alpha Quadrant.
Warp factor rating: 6
Keith R.A. DeCandido‘s latest novel was just released last week: Animal, a thriller he co-authored with Dr. Munish K. Batra about a serial killer who targets people who harm animals.