**** (4 stars out of 5)
Having put his fiendish mathematical mind into the construction of the temporal warship, Annorax of the Krenim has been warping the space-time continuum for over 200 years. Stepping on butterflies. Poisoning 50% of all cats in boxes. Dividing Planck's Constant by Infinity to keep milk from spilling, spoiling, or needing to be cried over.
Actually, it's mainly for genocide. Preventing enemies of the mighty Krenim Imperium from ever having existed. Today, for example, they exterminate the perfectly nice Zahl race before the Zahl ever had the chance to affably say 'Hi There' to the Voyager. Or compliment them on their shiny new astrometrics lab (which Seven and Harry built in between chasing each other pantsless through the Jeffries Tubes).
So begins a series of explosive excerpts from 73 days in 2374: The Year in the Merde. We've caught up to an alternate version of the future Kes saw in 'Before and After', full of torpedoes, fire, and general hardship. No, strike that: General Hardship posed a threat to the Krenim and was erased from history decades ago.
After months of pummelling, the scorched and blackened little starship with the flickering lights is finally abandoned. Possibly because Captain Janeway doesn't need a full compliment to run the ship anymore somehow, or more likely because many dozens of tiny, unarmed warp-incapable escape pods somehow stand a better chance against the despicable Krenim hordes.
It's the previously untried "Incapacitate the Foe With Side-Splitting Pity Laughter" Maneuver.
"Year of Hell" asks the big questions. Is Kurtwood Smith's villain named for Professor Aronnax of '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea', or the U.K. term for a gaggle of otaku: Anoraks? Either way, he's a Big Bad I can get behind 100%, a name worthy to be spoken in the same breath as Khan Singh and Darth Sidious. It's as true now as it was before: Kurtwood Smith is the cat's ass.