**** (4 stars out of 5)
Am I really the only one who thinks a nebula with greater atmospheric pressure than the ship is a terrible place to hide? I ask because in any science-based universe, when ONE atmosphere comes up against anything less (like, say, your basic nebula) the air goes OUTSIDE. Today the poison gas leaks INTO Voyager like it was a damn submarine. Mainly so our beleaguered crew has something to do other than stare in silent rage at each other month after month. The intrepid Captain sears her lungs on this gas, and then the rest of her in a fire. If only she'd let some maintenance people stay behind!
Captive but well fed on many extinct cultures' finest foods, Chakotay tries to talk sense into Annorax. Would he mind terribly not erasing everyone so much? The answer, predictably, is no. The Krenim Obsessive will not stop until every blade of grass from his original time is restored. And by grass he means his wife. She was lost in what Annorax believes is the universe punishing him for totally changing time. But is it paranoia when the universe really IS out to get you?
Having gone blind saving Seven from a torpedo, Tuvok continues his daily routine. For some doubtless LOGICAL reason, he shaves with a straight razor the size and shape of a Klingon Bat'leth. I just can't imagine what that reason might be. Maybe the little blue cubes run out of charge? Maybe this deadly Vulcan follicle remover is nostalgic as well as tempting decapitation? Or maybe Tuvok just wants to look freakin' bad-ass.
Speaking of which, the solution lies in an act of self-sacrifice that restores order at the cost of the Captain's life. For the fifth time in the series, no less.
Janeway hurls her ship into the inferno, and makes the Unhappening Machine Unhappen. The cat's out of the box now! Butterflies are springing back to life! And no one will remember, because the entire year was a hoax, a dream, and an imaginary story to boot. Well, to RE-boot, anyway.
Maybe you'd never know it from the complaining, but "Year of Hell, Part II" is a tale I really like. This and others like it prevent me discarding Voyager. Just when I've lost interest, gems like this one shine through. The premise is sound, the villain oozes malevolence, and goodness triumphs. Most of all I love the moral: put down your obsessive work every once in a while and appreciate your loved ones right now... before time takes them away.