The usual. It's Paramount's playground; I'm just borrowing the equipment. Any resemblance to products, productions, novels, television shows, films, characters, public figures, celebrities, bodily fluids, et al., is purely intended for entertainment purposes.
These reviews are long, highly opinionated, and prone to digressions. They retell each episode from beginning to end in excruciating but dubiously accurate detail. If you haven't seen the episode yet and want to be surprised, run away.
But some people seem to like them, and if you don't mind your Trek with some tongue-in-cheek running commentary, hop on the fun bus and join the crowd, because Fatherly Uncle Jim's in a storytellin' mood.
The life and times of Seven of Nine's time-warp transporter-malfunction killer-nebula love child.
Jump straight to the Analysis
We see Cargo Bay Two reflected in a shiny metallic surface. The circle of familiar green lightning common to an active Borg regeneration alcove hovers just over the head of Seven of Nine.
She takes a deep breath, then smiles. Broadly. A toothy, earnest nice-to-meet-you-Tom-Cruise smile-which she manages to hold for a three count before it collapses into her more familiar frown. She steels herself, and tries again, slightly less toothy and more anxious, which also crumbles swiftly.
Seven sighs with frustration; this smiling stuff is hard work. She gives it another shot, this time going for demure--lips turned up ever-so-slightly to indicate mild or feigned amusement, no doubt reserved for one of Harry's lame excursions into humor.
Smile Therapy ends when she hears the cargo bay doors open, then close. She frowns as she watches Doc approach.
Doc is in a chipper mood. "Seven of Nine. How's my favorite Borg today?"
"Annoyed," says Seven, who needs no practice to nail that facial expression perfectly. "In the future you will announce your presence before entering this room."
Hmmm. Practicing social skills on her own, and getting territorial. Both promising signs of progressing humanity.
Doc's mood is just briefly spoiled. "Sorry. I guess I should have knocked first."
"Are we ready to leave?" Seven asks, as she begins gathering tools.
"Yes," says Doc, still grinning. According to sensors, spatial conditions are ripe. A spontaneous proto-nebula could emerge within the next 20 minutes. Mr. Paris is expecting us." He doesn't have long to wait; Seven's metal tool case snaps shut with an echoing snap. She cast Doc one more sour look before marching toward the door.
Doc lingers briefly to stare into the small polished mirror. His smile is self-satisfied. "Hmph. Not a bad-looking hologram."
Seven stops in her tracks long enough to turn back toward him and scowl. Vanity is irrelevant.
Doc practically skips through the corridors, like a kid on a camping trip. "This should be exciting, don't you think?"
Seven's all business. "It's an astronomical survey, nothing more. What is your function on this mission?"
"My function is to study the nebula's effects on the crew. We may be dealing with new forms of radiation." He breaks into a grin. "I can't wait to see one of these clouds take shape. I hear they're quite beautiful. I brought along a holo-imaging device to take a few snapshots." He holds it up for her to see, a large, clunky device with multiple lenses.
Seven shakes her head. "This isn't shore leave. There will be no time for recreational activities."
Doc rolls his eyes. "The Borg--party poopers of the galaxy." She quickens her pace, leaving Doc and his futuristic Polaroid struggling to catch up.
As if he'd bother. Instead, he calls after her. "Tomorrow we'll start you on a new social exercise--developing your joie de vivre."
Word of advice, Seven--if the Universal Translator doesn't bother to learn the phrase, neither should you. le français est non pertinent.
The Mazda Miata of shuttlecraft whips its way through space.
Inside the tiny vessel, Paris and Torres and Doc and Seven (double-date, anyone?) are jostled from the rough ride. "Sorry about that," says Paris from the pilot's seat. "Just a little spatial turbulence--nothing to worry about." Seven and Doc are also seated at various corners of the craft. Torres gets to stand, taking readings from spots all over the interior (which involves more pivoting than walking; three steps takes you from aft to fore, and half a step from port to starboard), and getting tossed about the most.
Like now. This time, the (half) human pachinko ball lands in Doc's lap. "Hello there," says Doc, holding her longer than necessary before she scrambles back on her feet.
"I don't know about you but I've got a case of Class-Two Claustrophobia," grumbles B'Elanna, grabbing a bulkhead for support. Paris chuckles his agreement: "Ah, I remember it well."
Seven's confused, and looks to Tom for an explanation. B'Elanna provides it. "That's what Starfleet cadets used to call these class-two shuttles--fast, maneuverable, but not built for comfort."
Paris chimes in. "They used to shoehorn half a dozen cadets into one of these things for weeks at a time. You did not want to be around when they opened up that airlock."
Seven considers this. "Perhaps you should design a new shuttle--larger, more efficient."
Paris and Torres are stunned. "Not a bad idea," B'Elanna says, genuinely impressed, and not even annoyed that the suggestion came from Seven.
Tom practically drools at the thought. No doubt already picturing his dream shuttle-maybe he can retrofit that Camaro of his. "Tune in next time for Muscle Cars in Space!"
The reverie doesn't last long, as the shuttle soon gets tossed around again. They know something big is about to happen. And so it does-a large fiery starburst blossoms near them.
Too near. But they don't know that yet. They park the shuttle and start running their scans.
All but Doc, who tells Seven to move closer to Tom and B'Elanna for a "group shot." "I'm busy," says Seven. "And smile like I know you can," Doc says, which prompts her to flush a little.
Another plasma surge is less beautiful than it is deadly-and it's darn pretty. Torres tells him to back them off, but the burst closes on them too rapidly. Soon, Paris reports that the engines are down.
On Voyager, the shuttle's peril is noticed immediately. Steps are promptly taken to beam up the away team. Kim to Tuvok to Janeway to transporter room, ratatat tat.
Nice to see a full bridge operating efficiently again.
Not so nice: Add another shuttle to the casualty list...
Chakotay arrives in the transporter room, manned by a guy (judged "tasty" by femail [sic] consensus) named Mulchaey. [He's got a name, he's got lines, he's got a bit of a personality. He's also got cross-hairs on his commbadge. Nice knowin' you, dude.] Mulchaey knows his stuff, and though he has a brief bit of trouble separating their patterns, he soon has everyone onboard, breathing heavily but uninjured. Chakotay asks if they're all right; Paris nods breathlessly for all of them. They step off the transporter pad.
But Doc soon starts to sizzle, and he panics. "My emitter--it's been damaged!"
Torres jumps on the transporter controls. "I'll transfer your program back to sick bay. Hang on." He pulses a few times, then disappears completely, and the emitter clatters onto the transporter pad.
Doc immediately hails the transporter room begging for an explanation. Seven picks up the emitter, which Torres takes from Seven. "It looks like some of your emitter circuits were fused during transport."
Fear fills Doc's voice. "Can you repair it?" Torres says most likely, which doesn't cheer him up. "Relax, Doctor," says B'Elanna. "I'll keep you posted." She summons Mulchaey to follow her.
In the science lab, Torres places the emitter on a control panel. "Computer, run diagnostic routine Alpha Three Six." (I'm sure you can make a 47 out of that.) The computer chirps an acknowledgment. Torres tells Mulchaey to check the results first thing in the morning.
"I'll be here bright and early," Mulchaey says with mock enthusiasm.
When the door closes, the emitter begins to bubble, which it was never designed to do. Then it sprouts tentacles. Lots of them. They plunge into the control panel on which the emitter rests.
The panel begins to change color. A very familiar shade of green.
* * *
[One twenty-fifth anniversary of a Burger King commercial--straining the limits of nostalgia--and an ad for a new UPN television show ("When Animals Flirt" hosted by acrobatic 3-D Doritos Babe Ali Landry) later...]
Captain's log, supplemental: this proto-nebula seems to have a mind of its own. It's still expanding, with no end in sight. We're holding at a safe distance to monitor its growth.
B'Elanna Torres is wearing a gorgeous dark blue nightgown from the Grilka's Secret catalogue. It's quite a change from her red-ninja nightwear of a couple seasons ago--and a clear departure from the smock-from-heck that dominated her attire last year. She's tossing around a little, to the delight of B'Elannaphile YAMS everywhere, but is sound asleep.
Or was. "Rise and shine, Lieutenant. It's 0600 hours. Early bird gets the gagh!" Doc's voice--and image--intrude on the chief engineer's slumber. He begins clapping loudly, like the guy at the mike at a square dance.
He's got guts, I'll give him that.
Eyes closed, Torres groggily asks what he wants. (Guess.) He wants that emitter, he wants it working, and he wants it now. But at least he's trying to be cheerful about it.
"Go away," she begs, groaning.
"Can't you at least give me a prognosis?" Doc demands.
Torres finally manages to sit up. "The one day I get to sleep in..." she says, glaring at the screen.
"You're worried about a few more seconds of unconsciousness? My freedom is at stake!" You can't blame him for being worried, but if it were me I wouldn't want to be getting on the mechanic's bad side.
Torres stumbles her way blindly to the bathroom. The Internet rumors over the summer notwithstanding, it seems almost too good to be true. Could it be? Could years of speculation finally come to an end? Could we finally see...
"Computer, activate sonic shower."
I've been dying to see one of these in action. It doesn't hurt that B'Elanna is the inaugural demonstrant.
The far wall, looking not unlike a vertical tanning bed, lights up a little. Torres walks up to it. We hear a humming noise. The lilting strains of "Put 'em on the Glass" begins to play in a pulsing sonic wave.
Off goes the nightgown.
Well, there's the answer to that question. ("Do they shower and launder their uniforms at the same time?" No.)
Well, that was my question.
I won't linger. Suffice to say, Tom Paris is a fortunate man.
But whereas a certain review boy is inclined to give the good Lieutenant her privacy, a certain hologram is not. The bathroom comm panel lights up, and Doc launches into yet another bit of unsolicited advice. "One more thing, Lieutenant. I was thinking--"
Since when is a video phone indispensable restroom equipment? Not to mention activated by the sender without permission?
No wonder they call it "where no one has gone before." Who'd dare?
Torres grabs a towel and covers up, growling.
Doc waves off her complaints. "I'm a doctor, not a Peeping Tom. It's nothing I haven't seen before," he adds with a leer. B'Elanna looks furious. (Somehow, I don't see the oft-naked Janeway or the cat-suited Seven being nearly as self-conscious about being caught with their, er, sonic showers in use.)
"I was thinking, if you brought the emitter to sick bay we could work on it together. I have prepared a..."
Torres shakes her head, then launches the towel toward the comm unit, leaving Doc to Talk to the Textile.
Assuming they didn't get that in one take, I expect the Blooper reel to be extremely popular this year.
The holo emitter, sprouting legs like a millipede, now rests on a near-fully-assimilated Borg control panel in science lab.
Seven of Nine awakens to that realization. She exits the alcove, despite the warning that her regeneration cycle is incomplete. (Which answers another question.) She swiftly exits the cargo bay.
Harry Kim is seen, for the second week in a row, in the captain's chair. Only this time, he's not alone on the bridge, and he's not practicing his clarinet. Apparently he's acting as the Big Kahuna of the graveyard shift.
Chakotay enters, looking well-rested. Downright impish, in fact. Harry stands at attention when he sees the first officer.
"Commander. How'd you sleep?" Harry asks dutifully.
"Well enough," says Chakotay, eyes twinkling with amusement. "What's new?"
"That nebula's expanding at a rate of 8,000 cubic kilometers per hour," says Harry. "I've had to adjust course 11 times."
Chakotay smirks. "Sounds like you're enjoying the Big Chair."
"It's not a bad way to spend the night," Harry says.
"I hear you've been doing a fine job. The crew's impressed," Chakotay says, and Harry's chest swells with pride.
Chakotay leans in, his twisted sense of humor in fine form for 6am. "Is it true you make them call you 'Captain Kim'?"
(Shaka, when the walls fell!) "Sir?"
Seven of Nine draws away Chakotay's attention, while Harry wonders who told.
"Good morning," says Chakotay. "That remains to be seen," says Seven. "The proximity transceiver in my cranial implant has been activated. That could indicate a Borg presence nearby."
Chakotay turns to Harry, who says he hasn't seen anything. Could the nebula be masking a ship? Seven asks. Harry says (foreshadowing) that "A ship wouldn't last ten seconds in there-- not even a Borg cube."
Chakotay suggests Seven let the Doc check out her transceiver, and tells Harry to do a fine-tooth-comb scan of the area-"If you don't mind being an Ensign again," he says, leering at Harry.
This time, Harry gets the joke. Chakotay chuckles; the day just hasn't started until that first big cup of Starbucks and that first skewered victim of one's rapier wit.
Mulchaey enters the science lab, notes the green tint to everything, and steps closer to investigate.
And gets two Borg fangs plunged into his throat for his trouble. (Who needs vampires when you've got Count Borgula? Fangs, assimilation tubules-if it punctures your throat, and makes you undead and a slave to a more powerful voice than your own, what's the difference?)
in Sickbay, Seven twists her head around instinctively. Doc notices. "My proximity transceiver activated again," she says, looking worried.
Harry, at his Ops station, reports that while external sensors aren't seeing anything unusual (other than the nebula), internal scans are picking up some weirdness. "Looks like someone's rerouting power from the warp conduits....[to] Deck eight, section 22."
The science lab.
Chakotay hails Ensign Mulchaey, but gets no response. He signals for Harry to juice up the sensors, but the ensign responds that a force field of some sort is in the way.
Chakotay wastes no time. "Red alert. Captain to the bridge." He looks over at Tactical. "Tuvok, take a security team to the science lab." He hails Sickbay. "Chakotay to Seven of Nine, you were right. We've detected Borg on the ship-- deck eight, science lab." Number of drones unknown, Tuvok's headed there now.
"I will join him," says Seven, leaving Doc in Sickbay (since he's stuck there without his emitter).
But Doc knows the importance of the science lab. "My mobile emitter's in there...." The lines on his face multiply.
Tuvok and his largest security team members march in formation, each packing what looks like Betsy's big sister Bertha. Monstrous twin tanks of high-octane death. Handle large enough to do pull-ups. These puppies are big enough to attach wheels and ride home on.
Seven merges with the group without missing a step, wielding a mere hand phaser-knowing that if they've got Borg trouble, Federation weapons aren't likely to impress no matter how big they are.
The door is ajar; Seven and Tuvok slide the panels apart, and bask in the science lab's sickly Borg glow.
The emitter's done some redecorating. The lab table is gone; in its place, what Seven refers to as a Borg maturation chamber-basically. She doesn't recognize all the parts.
One of the guards finds Mulchaey, with two enormous puncture wounds. He is, however, still alive, and unassimilated. "He was punctured by an extraction tubule," Seven says. "It removed a tissue sample. There are residual nanoprobes surrounding the wound...Their encoding sequences are identical to my own," she adds with some surprise. Tuvok asks how, but she has no answer. Mulchaey is taken to sickbay, assisted but walking on his own.
Seven approaches the maturation chamber. Tuvok asks what she's doing; "I will be recognized as Borg," she says. Non-Borg would get a nasty shock if they get too close. Tuvok trains his weapon on the chamber just in case as Seven passes through the forcefield. She touches the thing gingerly, then activates something.
A window opens up in the thing. Seven's eyes go wide as she sees a little Borg fetus, already sporting some cybernetic "implants." If they can be called that; they seem to be as much a part of it as the flesh.
"A drone...But unlike any I've ever seen. ... I don't understand. The Borg assimilate. They do not reproduce in this fashion."
The fetal Borg, floating in the Mountain Dew amniotic fluid, actually seems to look in Seven's direction with its glowing ocular implant.
* * *
Let's switch the view to the Fetal BorgCam, shall we? It reminds me somewhat of the "building the 'bot" scenes from Robocop. Through warm lime Jell-O, we hear the muffled voices and see the fish-eye faces of Seven, Tuvok and Captain Janeway.
"I believe it was created here in the science lab," suggests Seven. "When the away team beamed back to Voyager there was a transporter malfunction. Our patterns merged briefly. It is possible that some of my nanoprobes infected the doctor's mobile emitter."
"They began to assimilate," says Tuvok. "Yes," confirms Seven. "Nanoprobes are encoded to utilize any technology they encounter. Once it assimilated the emitter, it began to transform this diagnostic station. When Ensign Mulchaey entered the room, they sampled his DNA."
"Using his genetic code as a template to create a life-form," adds Janeway, frowning.
The fetal Borg grows visibly. Tuvok notes the increase in mass. Seven calculates that "its maturation rate is 25 times that of a conventional Borg." Dang; that should speed things along nicely. Borg develop pretty quick as it is.
The captain makes her decision. "Tuvok, erect a level-ten force field around this section. Post round-the-clock security."
Tuvok groans; not again. "You intend to let it mature?"
"The alternative is to pull the plug, and I'm not prepared to do that--not unless I have to." Captain Janeway, it would seem, is pro-life. Let it grow, find out if it's evil, then kill it. "Resume your analysis. I want to know exactly what we're dealing with here. Or should I say whom?"
Seven and Torres work together, barely, in Astrometrics. Seven uses the sensors to punch through the force field.
"I thought you said this thing was a fetus!" Torres snaps.
"An hour ago it was," Seven says. Now it's a child of six years. Doc amends that, kicking in with a quick leer at B'Elanna-it's a boy. He asks Seven to route the sensor data to Sickbay.
"Well, he appears to be human for the most part," Doc reports as the data pours in. "Borg implants comprise approximately 27% of his body."
Tuvok notes that the drone's body plating is a "poly-deutonic alloy," which Doc points out is what his mobile emitter is made of. Seven suggests that "the nanoprobes must have extrapolated that technology."
Here's the worry. The emitter is a relic from the 29th-century (picked up by the 24th-century Doctor on 20th-century Earth). If the drone has been created from assimilated 29th-century technology, it's basically a 29th-century Borg. "In essence," says Tuvok.
Not that all 29th-century Borg look like that. This is based on one tiny-if useful--piece of Starfleet equipment. Actual 29th-century Borg could be much more advanced, since they'll have their pick of all the galaxy's 500 years of technological advances. Assuming they're not part of the Federation and playing nice in the future.)
Speaking of advanced 29th century technology, Doc locates his precious mobile emitter. It's embedded in his cerebral cortex, and has been adapted to function as part of his central nervous system. "It controls all autonomic functions," says Seven.
Doc's face falls. "That means we can't remove it...not without killing the drone."
Tuvok asks the security question. "Has it contacted the Borg collective?" Seven says no; she dampened its proximity transceiver. "For now," says Torres skeptically. "But what about when it grows up?"
Seven has no answer.
Seven reports to Janeway, who reads off the list of the drone's way cool capabilities. "Reactive body armor? Multidimensional adaptability? Internal transporter nodes?"
"The drone possesses superior technology. It will fully mature in less than two hours. However, its Borg shielding is not yet active. We can still terminate it, but we must act quickly." Seven's tone makes it clear that this is her recommendation.
"Hold on a minute, Seven," says Janeway, sitting at her desk. "I want some answers first. What normally happens when a drone disengages from the maturation chamber?"
"It awaits instructions from the collective."
"So without those instructions, it has no designation, right? No purpose."
"Correct," Seven concedes.
"If we can keep him from interfacing with the collective maybe we can give him a purpose."
"Captain..." Seven protests, but Janeway cuts her off. "This is the most advanced drone ever to exist! We could teach him our values, Seven. We could show him what it means to be an individual."
What do you mean we, white girl?
"If we fail...If the drone were to be assimilated the collective would become far more powerful."
But Mama Kate's on a roll. "What I'm proposing is the only defense we have against that possibility, short of murder--and that's an order I'd prefer not to give. As I recall, Seven, there were a few crew members who had similar doubts about you."
Including Seven herself. And for some, the jury is still out. But Seven doesn't belabor the point. "The situation is different."
"Is it? A Borg? Disconnected from the collective? Unsure of its identity. A potential threat. But we succeeded."
I suggest they spend another two months in a very dark place for Janeway to refresh her memory.
"We're going to pull the same trick again," says Mama (Granny?) Kate. "Only this time, you're going to be the teacher."
Seven darn near breaks out one of her practiced smiles-this one for disbelieving scorn. "I am to instruct the drone in the ways of humanity." She says it as a question.
"Think of it as first contact...And you are our ambassador." Janeway hands a PADD to Seven, who accepts it reluctantly.
Seven and Tuvok enter the science lab with about 47 extras, all heavily armed, aimed at the maturation chamber. Tuvok and Seven are unarmed.
"Maturation cycle is complete," Seven notes, looking at the control panel. She taps a few keys and shuts the system down.
Hoses are explosively disengaged from the drone's armor-one, two, three. When the last hose flies free, the drone lurches forward.
My gosh-it's Robocop!
One eye's a glowing green crystal, very modern. The other, human, is as piercing as a hawk's. Da Vinci couldn't have sculpted a finer chin. Following after his mother, his outfit outlines him generously--the codpiece appears to have been borrowed from Boogie Nights.
"We are Borg," the drone says in a confident but blank voice. "State our designation."
"Designation is irrelevant. You are not part of the collective. You are an individual. You will receive your instructions from me," says Seven.
"You must comply."
"Insufficient. We are Borg."
Seven sighs. "My designation is Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunctive, unimatrix zero-one. But you may call me Seven of Nine."
"Seven of Nine," repeats the drone.
"You will comply with my commands."
"Seven of Nine," the drone repeats again.
"Yes. We are not Borg. We are individuals. Do you understand?"
The drone's face does not change-has not changed since "awakening". "State our designation," it repeats.
"Apparently not," says Tuvok dryly.
"The drone's responses are programmed. It doesn't understand what I'm saying. I must initiate a direct neural interface." Tuvok questions the wisdom of that, but Seven says it's the only way to communicate. Tuvok allows it.
Seven extends her hand, the one with the Borg exoskeleton. The drone takes a step back. "You will not be harmed," Seven assures him. He keeps his distance. Seven frowns, gets tough, puts steel in her voice. "Resistance is futile."
The drone steps forward, baring its neck. Seven's tubules spring out from her wrist and plunge into its neck.
"I am providing it with instructions," Seven says. The drone's eyes brighten a tad. "It understands." Seven turns to look at Tuvok.
The drone grabs her wrist in an iron grip. Seven gasps. "The drone is probing my neural pathways. It is trying to assimilate all of my knowledge." A painful process; she grabs her head and winces. Fear creeps into her voice. "I cannot disengage the link." Tuvok fires at the drone, but its force field deflects it easily.
She faces the drone, who continues to stare straight ahead-not malevolent, but no less dangerous for that. "Terminate interface!" Seven demands. "You must comply!" she shouts when that fails.
When commands fail, she gasps. "You are hurting me."
That seems to register with the drone. It looks at her, then lets go of her wrist. Seven breaks away, breathing heavily.
The drone regards her. "I will comply."
Seven's look suggests the obvious: she's gonna have her hands full.
* * *
Daily Log: Seven of Nine. I have activated the drone's linguistic database. It is now capable of assimilating information. A direct neural link is too dangerous. So I've decided to use Borg data nodes.
Neelix arrives, practically whistling, hands full. "Special delivery--two Borg data nodes." (Borg hard disks, essentially.)
Torres looks particularly grumpy today. "How many Borg hitchhikers are we going to pick up on this trip? Maybe this is the Collective's new strategy: they don't assimilate anymore. They just show up and look helpless!" Meow. Her words are clipped sharp enough to draw blood.
Neelix placates her as best he can. Which is to say, not even close. "Now, B'Elanna..."
But Torres is just getting started. "We don't know what this drone will turn into! It's gone from infant to adult in one day!"
"It will become what we help it to become," says Neelix in his best Yogi Berra Zen master tone.
Torres snorts. "How Starfleet of you." (Sounds like Torres needs some more Holodeck time with the pain sticks...)
Seven of Nine saves Neelix from more secondhand rage by summoning him to the science lab with the first data node. He wastes no time, leaving B'Elanna to rage against the machine by herself.
Neelix hands the nodule to Seven, who makes a few adjustments to it, then wakes up the drone. It lunges forward-it's still getting the hang of motor skills.
"We are Borg," he says. "State our designation."
Seven tells him to assimilate the information in the data node. But this instruction's a bit high-level for Baby of Borg. She tries to break her instructions down to simpler steps, but the boy is basically a blank slate. With a Comply here and a Resistance is Futile there, she finally leads him to the water of knowledge-and makes him drink by programming his assimilation fangs manually. They snake out, drawn to the access ports on the node, and soon it's sucking in data like the mother's milk it is.
As he assimilates the data, a change takes over his face. It's a look of fulfillment and joy and enlightenment, like when Chris Knight finally figures out how to make the big laser in Real Genius.
When the node's contents have been absorbed, the drone sees his surroundings in a whole new light. He looks at Seven. "Your designation is Seven of Nine." Yes, says Seven.
The drone turns to Neelix. "Your designation is Neelix--Talaxian."
Neelix's surprise is more pleasure than intimidation. "That's me."
"This is a laboratory on a vessel." Drone Boy's really getting into the I Spy game. "I am traveling through interstellar space."
Yes, and yes.
"Why?" Uh oh. The terrible twos...
"This is a ship of exploration," he is told. This pleases him. "I am an explorer!" he says, liking the sound of that.
"We all are," says Neelix.
"We are Borg."
Neelix stutters. "Well, no..."
Seven jumps in. "You are a unique individual--one of many on Voyager. This is not a Borg collective. Do you understand?"
The drone wraps its mind around that. "Individual. My thoughts are my own."
So far, so good.
The drone holds out his arm. "I wish to assimilate more information," he says, with the petulant insistence of a child who knows what he likes, and knows he wants more. Now.
Seven plays Mom. "Not yet. Your neural pathways require time to process the information." The drone doesn't protest, but it's still smacking its lips, anticipating the next batch of yummy, fresh-from-the-oven data.
"You will need to regenerate soon," Seven tells him. "I will adapt one of the alcoves in our cargo bay to your technology. Take the drone to the doctor for medical analysis," she say to Neelix. She walks toward the exit.
Baby of Borg follows close behind.
"Go with him," Seven says. He just looks at her. "All members of this crew must report to the sick bay for evaluation." Still he looks at her. Seven finally seems to grasp what he's expecting. Sighing, she says, "When I am finished here, I will join you."
Mama Seven finally carries the day, and Baby of Borg follows Neelix to Sickbay. The boy really does look and walk like the Son of Robocop, even though his mama was a Borg and his daddy was a camcorder.
Ambassador Neelix escorts the drone through the corridors. Everything is new to it, and it eagerly calls everything by name. "Duranium hull. Plasma-based power distribution. Tricylic life-support systems. Artificial gravity plating."
Neelix beams. "Right on all counts. Systems analysis appears to be your forte. You should think about a future in starship operations."
They do not walk alone; there are never fewer than two beefy security hulks nearby, marching behind Neelix and his young charge. It's an intimidating sight in any case.
A female crewman approaches from the other direction. She steers clear as they pass. Roboborg watches her go.
"A Human female."
"Very good," says Neelix.
"She was frightened by me," says the drone matter-of-factly, sounding an awful lot like HAL in 2001, too innocent to realize his feelings are hurt. "I detected an elevation in her pheromonal response."
"Well, you're new around here," Neelix soothes. "An unfamiliar face takes some getting used to. I remember when I first came aboard Voyager. I provoked a few strange reactions myself. I still do from time to time. Just look at me--whiskers and spots."
"Were people afraid of you as well?"
"Well, no." (Not until he started cooking for them, anyway.)
"Do they fear me because I am Borg?"
"Sometimes Borg can be a little intimidating," Neelix says diplomatically. "Don't take it personally."
"I want to know more about the Collective," says the drone with his sing-song voice (itself unique compared to the relative monotone of Seven of Nine, and the absolute monotone of the Hive voice.)
This catches Neelix off guard. "You do?" he squeaks, then recovers. "Well, of course you do."
"Tell me about the Borg." A child's insistence.
"Oh, what's to tell? You've seen one cybernetically enhanced species you've seen them all."
The drone catches him in an iron grip. Neelix's long practice with Naomi Wildman helps him be gentle, yet firm. "You'll have plenty of time to learn all about them but first, you have to give yourself a chance to adapt to life here on voyager. And now, mister...?" Neelix searches for the word. "I'm sorry. In all the excitement, I forgot your name."
"I do not have a name," the drone says sadly.
"Well, every individual needs a name!" says Neelix. "We can't just run around calling you 'the drone.' That's not very interesting, is it?" I quite agree.
"Seven of Nine tells me my designation is irrelevant."
"I disagree!" says Neelix cheerfully. "You should choose a name for yourself--something that defines who you are. After all, there's only one of you."
"One," repeats the drone, liking the sound of that.
And with that-they arrive at their destination, Sickbay. Doc welcomes them cheerfully, but he gazes longingly at the drone's skull, as though something precious was inside it.
"You are the Emergency Medical Hologram," chirps the drone.
"And you are very observant," says Doc in a similar tone of voice. "Step this way, please."
Neelix says he needs to get back to the mess hall, and begins to leave. Drone follows him, but Neelix assures him he'll be fine right here. Drone finally consents, and Neelix leaves.
Doc waves an instrument over Drone's head; he rears back instinctively. Doc assures him, "it's a non-invasive biomedical scan. You won't feel a thing." Drone relaxes a bit and Doc resumes scanning.
"Your central nervous system is functioning normally but I'm picking up some degradation in your neural pathways. You'll need to regenerate soon."
Drone notes Doc's slight change in demeanor. "My central nervous system is regulated by your mobile emitter."
"That's right," says Doc as neutrally as he can.
"Your mobile emitter is more advanced than these diagnostic tools."
"Far more advanced. It's technology that came from the 29th century 400 years in the future."
Drone lets that sink in. "I am an advanced form of life." This pleases him.
"I am unique," says the drone. "Mm-hmm," says Doc.
"Describe my origins."
Hoo-boy. "Oh, it's a long story."
"I wish to hear it." More insistent.
"Another time," says Doc.
"I wish to hear the story. NOW." He leans in, his voice dropping an octave on the last word. Doc flinches. (They're adorable at that age, ain't they?)
Doc clears his throat. "In a nutshell, there was a transporter malfunction. My emitter fused with several of Seven of Nine's...Nanoprobes."
"I was an accident," says the drone, sadly, too young not to wear his heart on his sleeve.
Doc picks up the strain in his voice. "Call it 'a random convergence of technologies.'"
"Am I unwelcome here?"
Doc can't help but melt at the question, and its tone. His voice softens to a near whisper, and his eyes bore into the drone's. "On the contrary. Our primary mission is to explore new forms of life. You may have been unexpected but given time, I am sure you'll make a fine addition to the crew." He smiles bravely. "After all, you've got my mobile emitter driving your neocortex so you're bound to make a dazzling impression." He chuckles at his own joke.
He chuckles alone. The drone just stares at him, blinking.
"That's called a joke," Doc explains.
Drone accesses his Oxford's. "Joke: a verbal comment or gesture designed to provoke laughter." He's still not laughing, though.
"I see you've got your mother's sense of humor," says Doc, rolling his eyes.
It's Take Your Drone to Work Day. Seven field-trips Drone through Engineering, where--naturally-Torres is in her usual jovial mood.
"This isn't a classroom, Seven," growls Torres.
"Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres, chief engineer-Klingon-human hybrid," explains Seven. "She possesses extensive knowledge of this vessel's systems--as well as a volatile temperament."
B'Elanna's eyes flash. Her forehead ridges grow spikes. A bat'telh spontaneously generates in her right hands from her diamond-hard fingernails.
Drone looks at Torres; it's Webster time again. "Volatile: English adjective meaning 'readily vaporizable at low temperature;' 'easily aroused;' 'tending to violent eruption.'"
Torres glowers, arms folded. "Very good. You get a gold star."
Seven says they're here with Janeway's blessing, but Torres is in no mood. "I have got one hour to come up with a way to predict the expansion rate of this proto-nebula or Janeway's going to pull the plug on the entire survey." She tries to muscle her way past the drone, who almost gets out of the way in time.
Then he looks over her shoulder, invading all her personal space.
"Do you mind?" she demands.
Drone is in a helpful mood. "If you apply a multi-spatial algorithm it will accurately predict the rate of expansion. I can demonstrate." Eager to please, that boy.
Torres gets that yeah-right look on her face, but finally gives in to her curiosity. "All right-"
Drone leaps on the control panel like a kitten on yarn. Within seconds, Torres' eyes go wide. "Amazing," she whispers, all her aggression--for the moment--drained away.
Captain's ready room. Seven and Drone are here. Drone's doing the talking.
"Greetings," he says pleasantly. "Our designation..." he hesitates, then corrects himself. "My designation is one. How are you today?"
"I'm just fine, thank you," says Janeway, smiling. She looks to Seven. "'One'?"
Seven shuffles her feet. "He requested a designation. 'One' seemed appropriate."
Janeway accepts this, though she can't hide her smirk. "And how are you today, One?" She pronounces it Juan. Must be coffee time again.
"Well...Thank you, Captain Janeway."
"Adapting to life on Voyager?" the captain asks.
"Yes," says One eagerly. "To date I've assimilated 47 billion teraquads of information on a vast variety of subjects, including particle physics, comparative humanoid anatomy, warp field theory..."
He cocks his head, and his voice changes ever so slightly. "And the culinary delights of the Delta Quadrant," he finishes with a flourish.
Janeway shoots a look at Seven. "Mr. Neelix," Seven explains. "They've been spending time together."
Janeway smiles delightedly. If only Seven had been this easy to train.
One proceeds hesitantly. "Is your assessment of me complete? Am I...sufficient?"
Janeway actually laughs. "Why, yes," she assures him. "More than sufficient. In fact, I'd say you were making excellent progress. But this isn't an assessment, one. I simply wanted to meet you."
One nods. "With your permission, I would like to be excused. I've agreed to assist Lieutenant Torres. She wishes to increase the efficiency of the busoric collectors." [listen, people--I know it's Bussard. You know it's Bussard. But the boy said "busoric." Cut him some slack--he's only two days old.]
How can Janeway refuse that? He's adorable, he's eager, he's part Borg and part puppy. "Permission granted." Off skips One to his newest engineering adventure.
Janeway praises Seven for her progress after One leaves. "Not only has he absorbed an incredible amount of knowledge in a matter of days but he seems to be fitting in with the crew and developing a distinct personality." But though Seven agrees with the captain's assessment of One, her voice is filled with the unspoken But.
"He has been expressing curiosity about the Borg."
"Ah...And you're worried that if he learns about them he may be drawn to the collective." Seven says Yes. "Maybe we should tell him what he wants to know," says Janeway. "I'd rather he learn about the Borg from us than the collective."
Seven tries to verbalize what she alone knows. "The lure of perfection is powerful, Captain. He may be tempted to seek out the Borg. That would pose a grave tactical risk."
"Well, we can delay telling him for now, but keep in mind. The drone is becoming an individual. Seven, he has the right to know. Sooner or later, we'll have to answer his questions."
It's bedtime for Borgzo. (Okay, okay, sorry--that was lame.) Seven shows One the glories of Cargo Bay Two (which is on deck eight, section four). Used for the storage of spare components and surplus materials. "It is also where I regenerate. You will reside here with me."
"I wish to assimilate more information," says One eagerly-hungrily.
"You have assimilated enough for one day. You have also provided invaluable assistance to the Voyager crew. You have exceeded expectations."
"Then expectations were insufficient," he says modestly.
"A simple 'thank you' would suffice."
"'Thank you'?" One repeats, confused by the term.
"A customary expression of gratitude. I paid you a compliment."
One lets that sink in.
"We must regenerate," Seven says again.
One notes that the regeneration alcove is not Starfleet. "I am Borg. This technology is Borg!" he says excitedly.
"We must regenerate," Seven says again.
"I wish to assimilate all available data pertaining to the Borg."
Mom gets tough. "Step into the alcove," says She Who Must Be Obeyed.
One obeys. He walks face first into the alcove. Seven sighs and tells him to turn around. One complies, does the Hokey Pokey, and once in position he clicks into place and goes rigid.
Seven takes her place in the adjacent alcove. "Computer: activate regeneration cycle alcoves beta and gamma."
"Seven of Nine," says One.
"Yes," says Seven, mildly annoyed.
A hesitation. "Thank you."
Seven gets all squishy inside, but she'd never admit it. A dozen thoughts cross the windows of her eyes. She finally settles on, "We must regenerate."
While they sleep, something activates on One's body armor. It begins to blink.
Far out in the reaches of deep space, a Borg sphere (not unlike the one seen in Star Trek: First Contact) takes notice. The Collective begins talking to itself.
A Borg proximity signal has been detected. Origin: Unimatrix 325, grid 006. Alter course to intercept.
This is not good. But hardly unexpected.
* * *
Seven of Nine awakens to find her cargo bay crowded with angry humans. Many of them armed.
"The drone transmitted a Borg proximity signal," says Janeway, longer amused by her newest adoptee. She's got that fool-me-once, phasers-on-kill look on her face. "Wake him."
Seven does. She faces One. "You contacted the collective." One denies it. Janeway tells Seven to check his transceiver. One points out that Seven deactivated his transceiver. But Seven does indeed find one. "It appears your cranial implants have adapted and created a secondary transceiver." "A Borg fail-safe device," Janeway says, frowning.
Seven asks if any vessels have been detected, and Tuvok confirms it. Three hours to intercept.
"The Borg? I wish to meet them," One insists.
Janeway pulls Seven aside. "I think it's time you showed our drone what the Borg are all about."
Astrometrics has the best viewscreen on the ship. In live, widescreen color, Janeway and Seven and One watch the Borg in action. It's an impressive spectacle. He learns that the Borg have assimilated thousands of species. "What becomes of those species?" he asks.
"Their neural pathways are restructured and linked to a single collective mind. The 'hive.' Their bodies are augmented with cybernetic technology. They become 'drones.'"
Sounds ghastly to most people but Borg and fans of William Gibson. "I wish to experience the hive mind" he says. That yearning is built deep into a drone's psyche. Or programming. Or whatever.
"If you did that, you'd no longer be unique. The Borg would destroy your individuality," says Janeway.
One considers this. "And that is...undesirable." He says it like he's not entirely convinced.
"Very," assures Granny Kate. "The Borg are the most destructive force we've ever encountered. They've assimilated billions of individuals against their will."
One turns to Seven. "You were assimilated." He senses a contradiction.
"My link to the collective was severed," Seven says. (Against her will, but now's not the time.)
"When you were in the collective you assimilated others." Seven nods.
One turns to Janeway. "You call the Borg destructive. Seven of Nine is not." Aha!
Janeway's mouth is tight. "That's because she's regained her individuality. But if the Borg had the chance they'd take it away from her again. They'd assimilate everyone on Voyager." One considers this.
Janeway continues. "With your advanced technology...the collective would become even more destructive. We have to prevent that from happening--but we can't do it without you. We need your abilities to enhance our defenses. Shields, weapons...Will you help us resist them?"
One is feeling two distinct pulls. The Collective, and Home. "Seven of Nine...Do you wish to rejoin the collective?"
Seven has faced this questions twice before. First, in "one," when she faced her own loneliness and mounting insanity. Then, she sided with humanity. The following week, when Arturis had them on a one-way ticket to Borg Space, she chose to help Janeway retake the ship.
Third time's the charm. No going back after this. "Voyager is my collective," she says at last.
One turns away. He looks at nobody in particular. "I will need time to assimilate this information."
Chakotay announces a red alert. "All hands to battle stations. A Borg vessel is approaching."
"We just ran out of time," the captain says, running out of Astrometrics.
Seven and One follow.
"Seven of Nine," One says. "I'm detecting irregularities in my autonomic nervous system: cardiovascular excitation, vaso-constriction..."
"You're experiencing an emotion--anxiety. It is only temporary," says Seven. One defines it as only he can. He asks if she's experiencing it as well. "Yes," says Seven. "Along with every crew member on Voyager."
"Because they fear assimilation?"
They reach the turbolift. "Correct. We are needed on the bridge. Deck one," she tells the lift.
"What will happen now?" One asks. "We will engage the Borg," she says.
"Will voyager be destroyed?" He asks sadly.
"The Borg are powerful, but Captain Janeway is a resourceful leader. We will resist."
"Resistance is futile," One says, heart breaking.
"Perhaps," says Seven.
The sphere approaches the proto-nebula. It's a big puppy.
* * *
When the Borg ship is in visual range, Janeway orders it on screen.
One's reaction is immediate. "Long-range tactical vessel. Transwarp capability. Ablative hull armor." (Boys and their toys...)
"They're preparing to attack," says Seven. "You must help us enhance our shields. This station will give you access to the field generators."
The Borg hail. We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.
One repeats the last phrase. Resistance is futile. "I can hear them...In my mind."
Voyager gets snagged by a tractor beam.
"The collective is calling to me."
"I hear it, too," says Seven, wistfully. "Billions of voices, speaking as one."
Chakotay and Janeway look terrified. Not her, too...
But Seven doesn't give into the Hive. "We must resist that voice," she tells One. "The crew of Voyager will be destroyed if we don't."
Decision time. It takes him a couple of seconds to make it.
He plunges his assimilation tubules into the control panel.
"Our shields are remodulating," reports Tuvok. Within seconds, they are free.
Janeway asks if he can enhance their phasers. "Yup," says One, fully committed now.
"Do it," says Action Granny Kate, barking orders. "When he's finished, target their propulsion system. Be prepared to jump to warp, Mr. Paris."
"Enhancements complete. You may fire," says One.
That doesn't work so well. Voyager rocks from the impact. "They inverted our phaser beam with a feedback pulse," says Seven.
When it rains, it pours. Stuff starts exploding on the bridge. "They just took out our warp drive," says Paris.
One looks at Seven. "Your technology is limited. I cannot enhance it further." But he's not out of ideas. "I must interface with the collective. I can disrupt their vessel from within."
Seven doesn't like the idea. "They will try to assimilate you."
"They will fail," says One with absolute confidence. Seven looks to Janeway, who nods approval. "Harry, lock on to the drone," the captain orders.
"That won't be necessary," says One. He slaps his own forearm and disappears in a way cool special effect.
One stares, open-mouthed, at the vastness of the sphere's interior.
We are the Borg. You will be assimilated.
"My technology is superior. Stop your attack or I will destroy you."
Your technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.
One is unimpressed.
On Voyager, shield strength continues to weaken as Voyager is buffeted by the Collective onslaught.
But inside the sphere, the Borg get their butts kicked. Every drone that rushes toward One gets blasted away by his personal shielding. It's like Borg bumper-pool. One makes it easily to a regeneration alcove and jacks in.
Time to burn some chrome.
On Voyager, Seven of Nine reports that One is accessing the sphere's navigational controls.
The Collective tells One to terminate his interface, but this individual drone has chosen his own collective.
"It's heading directly for the nebula!" Tom Paris reports.
"If they get too close, their hull will collapse," Seven reminds us.
Despite the Collective's urging, One maintains course.
They get too close.
The Sphere, deep in the heart of the proto-nebula, collapses like a beer can on Michael Flatley's practice floor. The explosion that follows is even more impressive, blowing Voyager onto its side (if that has any meaning in space...)
The mood is somber on the bridge. Janeway orders the usual post-battle repairs.
But Harry Kim reports the unexpected. "Captain, I'm reading a life-sign in the debris. It's the drone. He survived!"
Seven sprints to Ops to confirm. "He's erected a multi-spatial force field around his body...But it is weakening." Janeway orders him beamed to Sickbay.
Seven rushes into Sickbay for a status report.
"Several of his implants were fused in the explosion, but they're regenerating. His biological systems are a different story. Severe trauma to the cerebral cortex, internal bleeding. He needs immediate surgery."
Seven goes to One, who looks pretty banged up. A massive wound on his head does not bode well. His breathing is labored. "The sphere?" he asks.
"Destroyed. You were successful," she says, encouraging.
"While I was linked to the Borg I could hear their thoughts...Their objectives. They are aware of my existence. They will pursue me." The thought worries him.
"Irrelevant," says Seven. "They will fail."
"I need to get started," says Doc, but One protests. "No. I should not exist. I was an accident--a random convergence of technologies."
"You are unique," says Seven.
"I was never meant to be," gasps One. "As long as I exist, you are in danger. All life on Voyager is in danger."
"We can talk about this later," says Doc, who moves in with a hypospray.
A force field prevents Doc from proceeding.
Seven's tone grows urgent. "Allow the doctor to proceed!"
One, gasping like a fish out of water, bores into her with his human eye, saying his goodbye.
"Lower the force field!" she commands as Doc says that his synapses are failing.
"You must comply," she says furiously.
"I will not!" says One adamantly, defiant to the last.
"You must comply," she says, more softly. "Please," she begs.
One continues to slip away.
"You are hurting me," Seven pleads, voice barely a whisper.
"You will adapt," he gasps, tears welling in his eye, his bloodied face serene with affection.
His breathing ceases. The light in his ocular implant, and his phosphorescent green heart light, go dim.
[Personal aside. I've watched this scene over a dozen times now, and I break down every time. It's one of those moments I live for as a viewer.]
Seven of Nine struggles to stay on her feet. The pain is too much to bear.
"I'm sorry," the Doctor offers quietly.
Seven cannot face him. She cannot face her child. She leans against a diagnostic bed for support until she can regain her footing, then leaves sickbay without another word.
In Cargo Bay Two, Seven turns off One's regeneration chamber. She looks into the mirror that was there to open the hour.
At the beginning, she'd been practicing her smiles. Now, the reflection shows her very real grief.
Wow. Thumbs up.
This is J. Paul Boehmer's second appearance on the show; he played the holographic Nazi in "The Killing Game." He impressed me then, though he wasn't exactly a likeable character.
But here-he blew me away. Playing a Borg-the ultimate 24th-century adversary, Boehmer's performance is downright cuddly; he's a total teddy Borg.
His delivery is intense, but in a childlike rather than a menacing way. At times his voice reminds me of HAL from 2001; at others, like the alien in STARMAN. Melodic, insistent, innocent, filled with wonder. At times, the effect is appropriately comical. At others, also appropriately, it is heartbreaking.
As a friend wrote me after the episode, "The voice, the diction, the body language --
all were perfect." If the Borg seek perfection, I'd say the casting could hardly have been better. I simply can't say enough good things about his performance; his death scene was one of the best I've seen, in or out of Trek. I'd love to see him return in another guest role.
Last week I poked fun at the parallel plots in other shows this season. Well, it was hard not to compare the obvious between a two-day fetus-to-adult maturation of a Borg, and that of an even more rapidly-growing human/Taelon hybrid in Earth: Final Conflict. The reasons were different: here, to create a character that can be created out of nothing and still be used in a one-hour show; in E:FC, to install a new cast member.
There are other parallels. TNG's "Offspring," where Data built his daughter Lal. The TNG episode where Deanna Troi gives birth to a fast-maturing alien (no need to write in with titles). "I, Borg" where we see the first Borg disconnected from the Collective, and his infant individuality. Voyager's own "Tuvix," where a transporter malfunction creates a whole new character that's a hybrid of Tuvok and Neelix, adopting most of the best qualities of each. Then there's Terminator 2, about 80% of other Arnold Schwarzeneggar sci-fi films, Lawnmower Man, etc.
There's probably a few dozen others you can think of that intersect either plot elements, visuals, aurals, concepts, themes, or moods. That doesn't make it bad; quite the contrary, the execution is what makes this episode stand out. The hour flew by for me.
The basis of "Drone" is a common theme: nature or nurture? Biology or environment? Who are we, really? Are we slaves to our own programming (genetic or cultural), or can we break out of it-and is it something we can control? I don't think there's any one omnibus answer to that. (The parallel could be made to a number of very divisive social issues, some more obvious than others, but I don't dare bring them up.)
Desire probably has a great deal to do with it, in regard to the several Borg-related episodes. Picard, in "Best of Both Worlds," fought assimilation tooth and nail-but could not have escaped the clutches of the Collective on his own. Data was seduced by the Queen herself, and was tempted for .68 seconds ("an eternity for an android.")
Hugh, who (at the time) seemed to have been a Borg from birth; they didn't track down the pre-assimilated Three of Five. Cut off from the Collective, he gained some new friends, and even in the presence of The Voice itself, Locutus, he planted his foot down and said he would not assimilate his buddy Geordi. He became human enough to disrupt an entire Cube.
In Voyager's "Unity," we run across a colony of assimilated Alpha Quadrant types, former humans and Romulans and other recognizable species (some adversaries) who actually missed the link, were eager to reestablish it. It was the first "up with assimilation" episode, and for a time even Chakotay could see some merits to it-before he was reminded again of its downside as an irresistible manipulator of individuals.
Seven of Nine, in Scorpion and The Gift, introduced a Borg True Believer to the mix. Assimilated as a child, the Collective became her foster parent. The trauma of being a helpless child, watching her parents assimilated, then being assimilated herself, may have turned the Borg into a place of comfort her-with billions of shared minds, she had (and emphasized) its greatness, perfection, strength, invincibility. That would be important to her.
One, like Hugh, is a bit of a blank slate. But whereas Hugh had some time in the Collective first, One comes out the gate completely open to suggestion-if also with an insatiable curiosity about, and a burning urge to merge with, the Collective. He has no idea what they are, but he knows that it's important. He doesn't have an assimilation instinct; he doesn't have Borg values ingrained. He just has that newborn's imperative to seek out Mother and life-giving nourishment.
Of course, we can see how it turned out. Janeway's instincts bore fruit-One did indeed pick up their values, and in record time. (Good thing, too...)
But by a show of hands, who thought Janeway was nuts for allowing it?
My thoughts exactly.
The captain is an odd bird sometimes. The scientist in her has that "hey, cool, let's see where this leads" outlook. Starfleet does encourage such things-it's their very charter-within limits. (Omega is one such limit. Talos IV is another. The Prime Directive covers a host of other inclinations. And so on.)
Last week, Janeway was deep in mea culpa mode. This week, she does the sort of things she typically regrets later. She sees the new 29th-century überborg as a funky new science project. (That, and on this ship-where, judging by their actions the past four years, the knowledge of sexual reproduction was apparently lost in transit to the Delta Quadrant-they need to find some way of replenishing the crew's roster...)
I love Janeway, I really do, but it seems this season may continue the Adventures of Captain Sybil. Surprisingly, this week we didn't hear much complaint by either Chakotay or Tuvok, who tend to be pretty red-flaggish about massive threats to the ship. Seven was more vocal, but the captain still won.
Maybe she's still threatening to hang them all. (Joking.)
Performances here were outstanding. This was Jeri Ryan's episode in particular, and she delivered in spades. Her character is unemotional by nature, but she found many opportunities, through facial gestures and her eyes, to convey her feelings. The use of her mirror to bookmark the episode was handled nicely and drove this point home. The chemistry between her and Boehmer was good at worst and breathtaking at best. The development of Seven's character is still not what I'd call fully-integrated into humanity, but that's a good thing-it provides time and opportunity for more episodes like this.
Even so, she's made some excellent strides. I think it's safe to say that after this, they no longer need to question her loyalty to the crew or whether she desires to rejoin the collective. Her emotions are still basic, and she will no doubt continue to question orders. But the fundamental question has been answered once and for all. "Voyager is my Collective."
Seven handled mentorship relatively well. It's not easy in any case, but she adapted as needed to connect with her child. She learned, and was willing to learn. Harder yet, she reached out to someone else; for this rather solitary character whose associations have been somewhat passive, that's a major leap forward.
The question is how she will react to the loss of that person she cared for.
Elsewhere. Doc was effective, though his growth is understandably stunted where his holo emitter is concerned. It's his key to freedom; without it, he's limited to sick bay and the Holodeck (I'm not sure if they finished their extension of the emitters to other key areas of the ship or have a Prometheus-style shipwide emitter system). He can sound a bit prissy at the slightest threat to it, but in this case his fears were understandable. As long as the Borg lived, he was stuck. (One reason we knew he would die shortly, the same reason we knew Tuvix's days were numbered.)
I'm proud of Doc for being genuinely saddened for Seven's loss, and for at least waiting for Seven to leave Sickbay before plunging in and getting his emitter back. Kudos to the writers for making some good moments out of this, not just with Doc alone, but between him and the drone, who recognized the value of the emitter to Doc.
Chakotay teasing Harry was a nice scene. It also hints at a possible future promotion for Harry (I know, I've been saying that for years), that he's given command of the ship from time to time, even if it is after hours.
B'Elanna Torres had an interesting episode. She started out being relatively nice to everyone, but once Doc woke her up at 6am she was a fireball. (Leave it to Doc to bring out the tiger in her...) This attitude, first alluded to last week, does have a purpose, I'm told, though I'm waiting to see it before I comment in any length. Suffice to say, Torres' temper is likely to make a few more appearances.
And of course, she got to be (discreetly, of course) naked. That ties her with Chakotay (Tattoo), but Janeway still holds a comfortable lead.
Seven brought up the idea of a new shuttle, which made Tom Paris' eyes light up. The previews for next week show that this will not be dropped. Should be fun. They could use a new shuttle, seeing as how they lost one this week.
Neelix found someone who appreciated his cooking. He had some good scenes with One, and his efforts at placating Torres was at least a valiant attempt.
Tuvok's main duty this week was to carry weapons and look daunting. He acquitted himself well.
Overall, the performances were excellent. Even the unfortunate donor-dad, Ensign Mulchaey, had plenty of personality. And he apparently survived, so maybe we'll see him again.
The story moved at a brisk pace, and flowed well from one scene to the next. Most things were explained sufficiently.
One point of confusion I noticed online: what century the Borg sphere came from. As far as I can figure, it came from the 24th-century, contemporary with Voyager (we saw a sphere in First Contact, which was treated as an escape pod or royal yacht for the much larger Cube.)
It would make little sense for the drone to attract a future ship. For one thing, One is not a true 29th-century Borg-he's derived from Federation technology of that century, but the Borg of that era-if they still exist-likely are even more advanced. The drone would not be as distinctive to them as he would be to 24th-century Borg. For another, One would have had a much harder time than he did blowing through the sphere's defenses, waltzing through the drones, and sending their vessel to doomsday.
It was curious that even with 29th-century help, Voyager couldn't defeat 24th-century Borg through technology alone. It does make their escape from Borg space that much more remarkable.
I've also heard some complaints that the crew didn't seem to register any emotion over One's death. All I can say is that I saw plenty. Neelix and Doc, Torres and Janeway, and particularly Seven, connected nicely with One, positively and/or negatively. And more importantly, I made an emotional connection with that quirky, perky little Borg that Could.
Summing up. On the four-star scale? A solid ****. A great effort all the way around.
Next week: Tom Paris does some outer-space drag racing in a custom shuttle.