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.
Seven of Nine gets a nasty case of Assimilation Flu.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Cargo bay 2. Seven of Nine is regenerating in her alcove. Alone. The light at her feet shines upward, illuminating the ex-drone (well, parts of her) in the darkened cargo bay.
But we hear a lot of voices. A cacophony of strident screams, angry shouts, and frightened wails. All striving for supremacy. The voices get louder, then one deep male voice get in the final echoing word before the tumult ends completely.
Seven of Nine awakens. She looks around. She ignores the computer's warning that her regeneration cycle is incomplete. She sniffs her way through the cargo bay, striding in a way that is most un-Sevenlike yet also familiar.
Seven ventures into the corridor, unseen by other crew. She has a clear direction and purpose in mind, that much is clear.
In the mess hall, Seven trashes the place. She checks out a bowl of fruit, and casts it aside with disgust. Likewise a plate of strange vegetables. A pile of leola roots she salutes for its sheer hideousness before drop-kicking it across the room. She enters the cooking area, sniffs it up and down, and yanks open the door of the refrigerator.
Shelf by shelf. Food by food. All food groups are treated with angry disdain.
Until the raw meat group catches her eye.
Seven grabs a hefty hunk of alien venison and takes a hearty, ravenous bite. Then another. Her eating habits are not pretty.
They're even less pretty when we see her reflection in one of the shiny reflections in the kitchen. Instead of Seven of Nine wolfing down that leg of mammal, we see male Klingon warrior far better suited to such table manners.
* * *
In the staff meeting the next day, Harry Kim is standing by a computer panel, showing a field of debris. "When I checked the overnight sensor logs this little surprise was waiting for me."
The officers stare at the panel. Captain Janeway is the first to speak. "Maybe I'm not quite awake but it looks like it's over 100 kilometers wide."
"120," Harry says. "At first, I thought it was an asteroid cluster--until I picked up a residual warp signature."
Seven's eyebrow rises. She leaves her seat and approaches Harry and the display, which she stares at for several seconds. "It was a Borg vessel. There are tetrion particles in the debris consistent with the atmosphere inside a cube."
The staff doesn't like the sound of that. "Any idea what destroyed it?" Chakotay asks.
"We would need to run close-range scans of the hull fragments," Seven advises. Harry says they'll do just that if they stay on their present course. Janeway isn't in a danger-courting mood; she tells Chakotay to alter course and steer clear of the debris. "If that's all..." she rises, and several of the staff follow her lead.
But Neelix pipes up, and they all slump back in their seats. "It seems we had another incident in the mess hall last night," he says, indignation in his voice that anyone would violate the culinary sanctum sanctorum of Voyager.
"Return of the Midnight Snacker?" asks Torres, smirking. I'm afraid so, says Neelix. "Casualties?" asks the captain with a twinkle in her eye. But Neelix isn't laughing; it's a violation of his duty station. "A leg of Kelaran wildebeest I'd prepared for Ensign Ryson's birthday. Since Commander Tuvok has been unable to round up any suspects I'd like to ask that stronger measures be taken."
Tuvok looks moderately annoyed. "Perhaps an armed security detail..."
The officers do a decent job of containing their amusement. I do recall a time, though, when Chakotay took raiding the kitchen very seriously; he denied himself and Seska a week's worth of replicator rations back in "State of Flux," over a single bowl of illicit homemade soup. The times may be plentiful, but until their journey ends the habits remain. Neelix might be more exercised about the incident than they, but they all should take it seriously.
Neelix ignores Tuvok's jab. "I'd like to ask permission to replicate some locking mechanisms for the cabinet doors." Janeway approves, and the meeting ends.
Remember that sweet little kid with the sickeningly sweet "Trevis and Flotter" edutainment holoprogram a couple weeks ago?
She's back. Don't worry--no Holodeck Adventures this week. Naomi Wildman has other pursuits in mind.
She stalks the corridors, PADD in hand, stalking her prey--the elusive Borg Lady herself, Seven of Nine. To the appropriately amusing soundtrack, Naomi hunts her down, scampers across the hall to a cubbyhole, and begins taking notes, peeking out at Seven while she works. When Seven moves, so does Naomi.
Until Seven rounds a corner, Naomi follows, and runs right into Seven.
Naomi cranes her neck to look Seven in the eye. Her mouth hangs open. Seven, hands clasped behind her back, stares down at her. Busted!
"Naomi Wildman, subunit of Ensign Samantha Wildman. State your intentions." ("Subunit"--I love it.)
Naomi is too busy freaking out to form coherent sentences. " I..." She makes gagging noises.
Seven's limited patience is exhausted. "Very well. You leave me no choice but to report your activities to the Captain." She walks away.
This wakes up Naomi, who chases after Seven, struggling to match the tall woman's stride. "Please don't! I was just observing you." Explain, Seven says. "Well, Neelix told me that the Borg do a lot of things they do because they're trying to be perfect. And even though you're not really a drone anymore you still try to be perfect. Don't you?
Seven seems moderately impressed. "Correct."
Naomi presses on. "Well, if I can learn to be perfect, too, then Captain Janeway will have to make me her bridge assistant."
"No such rank exists aboard this vessel," Seven points out.
Naomi gets a scheming look on her face. "Not yet!" Why, the little scamp!
"And you hope to achieve this goal by emulating me?"
"Are you mad?" Naomi asks.
"No," Seven says a moment later. "There are many on this crew that would benefit from your example." (Apparently Seven's search for perfection is not hindered by a surfeit of humility...)
Naomi asks if this means Seven will teach her. "Your objective is admirable. However, your neo-cortical development is incomplete. You would require several months of accelerated growth in a Borg maturation chamber."
Note to self. Don't let Seven babysit. You'll drop off a toddler for a night on the town and return to a teenager... Naomi is no Wesley, and in no hurry to grow up. She's a Toys-R-Us kid. "I don't think I like the sound of that," Naomi says.
"Then I suggest that..." Seven begins, but stops in her tracks as that mob of voices catches her attention. She stares into space as Naomi, who doesn't hear the voices, wonders why grownups are so dang weird.
The mass of voices stops. Seven gets the strangest look on her face.
Wow--it's a smile! And a big one at that. Compared to the attempts Seven made into her mirror in "Drone," this puppy's downright authentic, a whole-face smile that goes all the way to the eyes. "Hi!" Seven says to Naomi, her voice high and cheerful, her teeth gleaming, her eyes beaming.
"Hi...." says Naomi, confused, but not suspicious. Any of the regular crew would be signaling either Sickbay or Security by now.
Seven throws her shoulders up, then lets them fall heavily. "I'm bored!" she whines, hopping up and down. "Let's do something fun."
Naomi shrugs. Grownups are weird; might as well humor them. "Like what?"
Seven thinks for a few nanoseconds. "Swimming?"
Yes! Yes! Oh, please, Naomi, say Yes!!!
Naomi considers it, but then frowns. "I'm not allowed to go swimming without my mom."
Aauuughh! Damn you, Ensign Wildman!
"Oh." Seven pouts briefly, then recovers in an instant as a new idea hits her. "Do you like kadis-kot?"
"Come on!" Seven says, extending her Borg hand to Naomi, who takes it without hesitation. The two girls, giggling like schoolgirls, half-run-half-skip through the corridors to Naomi's room.
Naomi and Seven of Nine play kadis-kot, a game that looks like a cross between Battleship and vertical Chinese checkers, with red and green and orange circles inside a hexagonal playing board the size of Chakotay's torso.
While they play, Naomi explains to Seven her master plan. "I'll be bridge assistant for a while, then I'll be promoted to Ensign. It'll be Lieutenant after that, and by the time we reach the Alpha Quadrant... Captain Wildman!" She grins. I told you the girl was a schemer. She's thinking long-term. "Green, grid 14-four," Naomi says, making her move. We see Naomi's reflection on the game board.
Seven, who clasps her hands together, elbows on the table in a most girl-like way, wastes no time kicking some Wildman hiney. She takes a colored tile, moves it, and giggles. "Kadis-kot! I win."
Naomi is impressed. "You're really good at this game!"
"You want a rematch?"
"Sure," Naomi says. She begins setting up the board again.
We see Seven's reflection on the game board. She looks like a little brunette girl, about Naomi's age. Freaky.
"Captains don't have much time to play, you know," Seven says.
"That's okay. I'll be pretty busy by then. Want to hear the rules of First Contact?"
Seven makes a face. "No." Rules have cooties.
"How about the suborders of the Prime Directive? I know all 47 of them." Sheesh, talk about a 47-gimme.
"You study too much, Naomi," Seven complains. "Just like my brother."
"I didn't know you had a brother," Naomi says, surprised.
"Mm-hmm. 12 of them."
Naomi's eyes go wide. "Twelve?"
Seven nods. "Nine older and three younger. We play kadis-kot all the time." They're cheaper by the dozen, I suppose. She makes her move.
"I only have my mom and Neelix to play with--when they're not working," Naomi says. This suggests that no other crewmen have yet paired off and begun producing the next generation to serve under Captain Wildman. Pity.
"You must get lonely," Seven says sympathetically.
"A little. You get used to it," Naomi admits. She gets a smile. "You adapt!" she says, using Seven's favorite word after "Irrelevant" and "comply". She makes her move.
Seven looks at her funny. "'Adapt'?"
"You know, like the Borg," Naomi reminds her.
Seven scrunches up her face like Naomi just said broccoli or Harry Kim. "Borg...I hate Borgs." Seven makes her move.
Naomi is confused. "You do?"
"Yeah. They're mean."
The intercom chirps. "Torres to Seven of Nine. Please report to Engineering."
Seven ignores it. Her chin rests on her hands. "It's your move." Naomi looks at her, surprised, but makes her move. If Seven doesn't care, neither does she.
The chirp repeats. "Seven, respond," orders Torres impatiently.
Seven of Nine shakes her head as if to clear it. The little girl is gone, and in its place, the Seven we all know and love. To confirm, we see Seven's reflection in the game board. Disoriented, Seven taps her chest and says she's on her way.
Seven rises. She looks at the kid. "Naomi Wildman..."
"Yes?" Naomi asks.
"What am I doing here?"
"We're playing kadis-kot." Seven looks at her, horrified. "Seven?" Naomi asks, softly, realizing something goofy is going on.
Seven backs slowly out of the room. Naomi, somewhat confused by Seven's strange behavior but more bummed that she's lost her playmate, begins putting away the game pieces.
Engineering is not exactly bustling with activity when Seven arrives, but there are a couple of engineers around.
Torres waves Seven over. "Take a look at this, will you? I'm picking up an energy signal in the lower subspace bands--and if I'm not mistaken, it's got a Borg modulation."
"You're correct. It is Borg. I believe it's a neural interlink frequency." A what? Torres asks. "A frequency that integrates the minds of Borg drones."
"Can you pinpoint the origin?" Torres asks, and Seven agrees to try.
Torres notes that Seven is not her usual haughty, nigh-perfect self. "No offense, Seven, but you look terrible."
"I am...not well. I experienced a brief lapse in memory and I am disoriented."
"Maybe you should get to Sickbay," Torres suggests, almost concerned.
Seven walks toward another wall panel--this one, nicely reflective. Uh oh. "No. This interlink frequency could explain my..."
The seething gumbo of voices returns. Seven staggers a bit. By the time Torres calls Seven's name, she no longer answers to it.
She's looking at the man in the mirror. The Klingon with the bad table manners is back.
He still looks hungry.
But for something else.
Seven turns around and sees B'Elanna Torres. She eyes B'Elanna hungrily, with naked (and I do mean naked) interest, doing a lingering visual scan from head to toe. "Do-raq mee-roch," Seven says hoarsely, licking her chops as she leers at the half-Klingon hottie. (That Klingon phrase, by the way, roughly translates to "Ooh, me likee.")
Torres, arms folded, leans against the opposite wall. "I beg your pardon?" she says, unamused, eyes cold.
"I am the son of K'vok!" Seven begins stalking her way toward B'Elanna. "And you? What House are you from?"
Torres' lack of amusement doubles. "Is this some kind of a joke?"
Seven's lust permeates the room. "You wear the uniform of a Starfleet pu-cha (Weenie)! What kind of a warrior are you?"
"Tom put you up to this, didn't he?" ( I'm not even going to ask.) "Well, it didn't work." Ignoring Seven, Torres gets back to work, moving to a control panel, shaking her head with irritation.
"Come, warrior, let me look at you," Seven rasps huskily.
"Enough, Seven!" Torres says, leaning over the control panel.
Seven leans over Torres, sniffs her hair. Torres looks ready to rip some lips off, but contains her temper.
But then Seven has to go from the verbal to the physical. "Your blood is sweet!" Seven declares, yanking Torres upright, lunging toward B'Elanna's throat.
Excuse me. Cheek.
Too many teeth latch onto tender flesh. Chomp. Torres screams, and in a rare display of her full Klingon strength, tosses Seven several feet into the nearest wall and scrambles away. Twin tracks of blood mark Seven of Nine's (excuse me, the son of K'vok's) ardor. Torres urgently signals Security.
Seven of Nine picks herself up, and offers a feral grin. "You are strong," she says approvingly. "You will make an excellent mate!"
Torres picks up a length of sturdy pipe and waves it threateningly at Seven. "Get the hell away from me!" B'Elanna growls.
Seven's eyes light up gleefully. She slaps her chest with both hands. "You wish to prove yourself in battle!" She advances toward the object of her affection.
Security types show up. Seven easily stiff-arms them and dashes out of the room. We note the engineers are standing back, afraid to interfere.
I don't even want to think about the fanfic this scene is gonna generate....
Janeway arrives on the bridge. "Report," she says tightly as she takes her seat.
"Seven of Nine attacked B'Elanna in Engineering," Chakotay says. "She's on deck nine, section 23."
"Force fields," Janeway orders. More quietly, she whispers to Chakotay, "Don't tell me those two have actually come to blows..."
A security guy falls to the ground, unconscious. Seven of Nine picks up the phaser that skitters away from the fallen man. Her eyes are wild. She growls with frustration when a forcefield blocks her way, and even louder when another prevents her retreat.
Tuvok, with an armed security team, marches through the corridors. Janeway hails him. "Seven's been contained. Deck Ten, section 32."
"Acknowledged. We're nearing her position."
When they arrive, they find the unconscious security guy, and Seven of Nine, with the phaser.
Only she's curled into a tight ball in the corner, sobbing, not so much wielding the phaser as holding it like the tail of an icky lizard.
"Seven?" Tuvok asks quizzically, not lowering his own phaser.
"Somebody's hurt and he needs help," Seven says in the scared voice of the little girl that played with Naomi. "Did I do something bad?"
Tuvok realizes that all is not as it appears to be. "Who are you?"
"My name's Maryl. Are you a Vulcan?" the tiny, frightened voice asks.
Tuvok orders the force field deactivated, slowly approaches while his two guards hold back just in case. "Give me the phaser," he says. She does, and he lowers the power setting from "Cajun" to "stun" before checking the pulse of the fallen guard.
Meanwhile, the cacophony of voices returns, then recedes. Seven rises.
"You are not a physician, Commander. The logical course of action would be to take him to the infirmary." The measured tone of voice, the way she stands, is neither Klingon warrior nor small human child, but someone new. Someone familiar.
"Maryl?" Tuvok asks, looking at her.
"Subaltern Lorot, Vulcan High Command. May I be of assistance?" Yup, she sounds Vulcan.
Tuvok adapts to the situation. "Yes. Please accompany me to Sickbay."
"Certainly," says Seven as the two security guards gather up their comrade, freeing up Tuvok to accompany Seven. "Clearly he was attacked," she says, walking in front. "I suggest we use caution."
Good thing, too. The voices return, and when they fade, the Klingon horndog is back. Her shoulders slump forward. Her face darkens. Her voice is low and angry. "Pahtak! You will drown in your own blood."
"Keep moving," Tuvok says sternly.
Seven's shout is downright mannish as she whirls on Tuvok and lunges. Tuvok's phaser is ready and waiting, and she is zapped into Happyland before she can close the distance.
* * *
In Space, we see a floating piece of Borg hardware in center-screen, so it must be important. It glows with activity.
In Sickbay, Seven of Nine awakens, gasping, disoriented. Doc, Janeway, and Tuvok are here. "Captain, why am I here?"
"You've been unconscious for nearly two hours," Janeway says. "We believe you're experiencing a neurological disorder."
We hear the voices. "Voices...I hear voices..." Doc asks her to describe them. "They are agitated... Chaotic... Too many voices."
We see, through the NightmareCam, a rapid parade of characters, fast even enough for the caffeine-addicted MTV crowd--all connected to Borg alcoves, all screaming or shouting or silent with evident agony, anger, frustration. Some species we recognize: human, Klingon, Vulcan, Krenim, Hirogen, Cardassian, Bajoran...and a bunch I've never seen before.
"Too many voices!" Seven cries out, this time in obvious pain. Doc, who has a piece of technology attached to Seven, reports that the "cortical inhibitor" (the thing that keeps you from thinking-in the 20th century, they call it Enya) is destabilizing. Doc increases the neurotransmitter levels, and he reports success as we hear the voices fade. "They are gone," Seven says gratefully.
"All right," says Janeway. "Let's see what we can do to keep them from coming back. What's the last thing you remember?"
"I was in Engineering, assisting Lieutenant Torres."
Tuvok frowns. "You have no recollection of a confrontation with B'Elanna?"
"Confrontation?" Seven asks, looking worried.
"You seem to be manifesting personalities other than your own," Doc tells her.
"Naomi Wildman claims the two of you played together for nearly an hour this afternoon," Janeway says.
Tuvok adds the bad news. "You also attacked Lieutenant Torres. She told us you called yourself 'son of K'vok' and that you initiated a Klingon mating ritual."
Seven looks downright disturbed, and rightly so. "I have no memory of those events."
Doc summons Seven and the others over to a display panel. "This is your neural pattern. The memory engrams and synaptic pathways that define you as an individual. Unfortunately, you're not alone. 13 new neural patterns have emerged in your cerebral cortex--Klingon, Vulcan, Terrelian, Human and several others I can't identify."
"How?" Seven asks.
"They're coming from within you. During your time with the Borg, the Collective assimilated hundreds of different species. All of those neural patterns were integrated into the Hive Mind."
"Of course," Seven says.
"That means they're in your mind, too--stored within your cortical implants. Dormant...until now," Doc tells her.
"From what we can tell the various neural patterns are surfacing randomly," Janeway says.
"In essence, you've developed the Borg equivalent of Multiple Personality Disorder." That can't be good. Seven asks if Doc can fix her. Doc says the Enya device is a temporary solution at best. Seven remembers that Torres had detected a Borg interlink frequency that could be the source of her troubles. Tuvok says the signal is located inside the Borg debris field.
Janeway suggests they warp the heck out of there, but Seven says the signal works in subspace and cannot be outrun. Doc says they'll have to deactivate the signal at the source. Janeway orders a course change to the debris field.
The captain asks if Seven's up to helping them with the Borg technology. Seven says she is. "Keep a close eye on her, Doctor in case she has any more unexpected visitors," Janeway says.
Doc and Seven head to Cargo Bay Two. "Has any drone ever experienced symptoms like these before?" Doc asks.
"The Collective does not tolerate imperfection. Any drone with a malfunction as serious as mine would be destroyed immediately." The thought of her own imperfection bothers her greatly.
"Lucky for you this crew is a little more tolerant," Doc says.
Neelix spots Seven and rushes to catch up with her. "Oh, there you are! Lieutenant Torres tells me you're under the weather." Seven says that's correct. "Well, is there anything your morale officer can do to help? Assignments you need me to finish while you recuperate?"
"No," Seven says, trying not to be annoyed.
"I have some wonderful medicinal teas. Maybe I could prepare one for you!"
Doc rolls his eyes. "Talaxian homeopathy. I don't think we're quite that desperate yet."
"How about if I make one of your favorite nutritional supplements...?"
Seven cuts him off. "Your concern has been noted. The Doctor will inform you when I am functional again." In other words...go away.
Neelix takes the hint. More or less. But he calls after them again. "Oh, uh... I almost forgot--it's from Naomi Wildman. It's a drawing of Voyager. Or maybe it's an asteroid belt. I'm not sure. Naomi thought it might make you feel better."
Seven is genuinely touched--a new sensation for her. "Tell her...thank you," Seven says sincerely, and continues to look at it after Neelix leaves.
In Seven's quarters in Cargo Bay Two, they peruse Seven's regeneration history. "I suspected as much," Doc says. "There were several interruptions in your regeneration cycle. 18 minutes, five minutes, one hour."
"I don't recall them," Seven says.
"Let's examine your neural function logs....Low serotonin levels during regeneration. That's normal. But look at these spikes in the prefrontal synapses. They appear only seconds before you left the alcove. You were sleepwalking!" Doc seems almost amused.
Seven finds something else unusual. "I don't remember entering this data file." She moves over to her personal workstation, the Borg Totem Pole computer near her alcove. She begins tapping in commands.
"Looks like we found the identity of the Midnight Snacker," Doc says, snickering. "I'm sure Mr. Neelix will be relieved."
Seven finds the odd data file and hits Play. We hear Seven's voice, but not Seven's personality. "Personal log, Ensign Stone, Stardate 52188.7. I just completed my first week of active duty. It was a nightmare. After four years at the Academy I thought I was ready for anything, but Captain Blackwood runs a tight ship and he seems to take special pleasure in tormenting new recruits. The first officer tells me not to take it personally, but it's hard to be objective when..."
Seven turns it off. "Blackwood. Captain of the Federation Starship Tombaugh. The Borg assimilated that vessel 13 years ago." (Thirteen years ago? Interesting, because the Stardate "Ensign Stone" read is this year. Freaky.)
"The individual who made this recording must have been a member of the crew," Doc suggests, his good humor gone. He goes over to another computer panel to look for himself.
"One of my...victims," Seven says with distaste.
"Here's another log entry--this one encoded for transmission," Doc says, and hits Play.
"Hi. Guess who? I know I promised to write you every day but that's simply not enough. How about once in the morning when I resuscitate and once at night before I go into torpor and I'll think about you nonstop in between. Wait--I've got a better idea! Why don't you leave your circle and visit the colony? You'd love it here..." (Torpor? Circle? I take it this wasn't a human talking.)
"Anything familiar?" Doc asks. Seven looks most uncomfortable. "I helped to assimilate thousands of individuals. I do not remember each of their names!" She's a little irritated as well.
Doc places a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Seven, you were a Borg drone who's now becoming an individual. That's practically unheard of! There's bound to be rough spots along the way. We just have to get past them." She doesn't look very reassured.
Chakotay summons Seven to the bridge. "We're approaching the debris field."
The viewscreen shows the shattered remnants of a Cube. It got smashed the heck up; few of the pieces are bigger than a breadbox. "Survivors?" Janeway asks. None, Tuvok says. Chakotay asks about Borg activity, but Paris says they're the first ones here. Harry tracks down the source of the interlink frequency, and Janeway orders it on screen.
It's that Borg thingie we saw earlier. Seven confirms. "It's a Borg vinculum." Chakotay repeats the word, confused. Seven explains. "The processing device at the core of every Borg vessel. It interconnects the minds of all the drones. It purges individual thoughts and disseminates information relevant to the Collective." (Vinculum, by the way, is Latin for fetters, as in manacles, chains, etc. An apt description.)
"It brings order to chaos," Janeway mutters. "Precisely," says Seven.
"Looks like this one has established a link to your cortical implant," Janeway says. Seven explains. "I believe it has identified me as an errant drone. It is attempting to reintegrate me into the Collective. The vinculum is malfunctioning. It is sending me erratic commands."
"Bringing chaos to order." Tuvok notes the irony, and Seven can only agree.
"Can you sever the link?" Janeway asks. "Not without risking permanent damage to my own systems," Seven says. "The vinculum must be taken off-line. Permission to beam it aboard for analysis."
Seven notes Janeway's screaming lack of enthusiasm for the proposal. "I have worked with this technology before. I may be able to disable it," Seven assures her.
"We're talking about the heart of a Borg cube," the captain says. "I'd rather not take it inside my ship. Can you disable it remotely?"
"Yes, but I would need several days. The Borg may return by then. I recommend we take the vinculum and leave this region immediately." Janeway agrees, but tells Tuvok to lock the puppy down tight and guard it closely. "The moment it poses a threat, send it back into space," she says, and Tuvok nods. To Tom, she says to haul Warp Nine hiney the second it's on board.
Janeway looks at Seven earnestly. "I understand what you're going through, and I want to help you in every way I can. But the safety of this crew is my first responsibility. We haven't had the best of luck with the Borg." That's actually debatable, since most who encounter the Borg don't escape, but okay.
Seven gives the captain a daunting look. "Nor have I."
In Engineering, Torres barks orders. The vinculum has invaded her engine room, and she's not about to let it take over.
Seven and Doc enter, but as she nears the vinculum she hears the voices return. Doc adjusts her neurotransmitter levels with another dose of Enya, and the voices soon fade, but her proximity to the device may further reduce her window of opportunity before the voices can't be drowned out.
Torres comes downstairs to the lower level of Engineering, but stops in her tracks when she sees Seven of Nine, preferring to keep her distance unless she gets an apology or an engagement ring.
Seven winces apologetically. "Don't worry, Lieutenant. The son of K'vok will not be joining us."
Torres, satisfied, allows Seven to join her at a computer panel. "Glad to hear it," Torres says. "Does this qualify as our second date?" B'Elanna's not smiling, but she no longer looks angry.
Doc, however, has a goofy grin on his face. "Just think of me as your chaperone." Seven shoots him a lethal look.
"So...Where's the 'off' switch?" Torres asks. Seven gives the technobabble response, and begins hacking into the thing's programming. The vinculum's defenses kick in, but she surfs past them. Then she finds something unusual. "Curious...I'm detecting an organism within the vinculum. It appears to be a viral agent." She pulls it up on screen.
Doc takes over. "It's a synthetic pathogen! The virus was originally a biological agent but it's mutated. It's attacking the vinculum's programs as it would living cells." Torres doesn't like the sound of that, since there's a lot of vulnerable technology in her engine room.
Seven pulls up another bit of info from the Vinculum. Up pops an alien and the shuttlecraft it rode in on. "The cube was infected three days ago, shortly after assimilating an alien shuttlecraft--species 6339. They were the last ones to come in contact with the cube," Seven says.
"Looks like we found our Typhoid Mary," Doc says without humor.
* * *
In Astrometrics, Seven of Nine shows the captain and the Doctor a Borg data record of a funky looking species. "Species 6339, Humanoid. Warp-capable. Origin: Grid 124, Octant 22 Theta. They first encountered the Borg approximately four years ago. Since that time, 11 billion individuals have been assimilated. Three days ago, the Collective detected one of their last surviving shuttlecraft. A cube was sent to intercept it." I assume she retrieved this from the field of debris; any information she has on the species would be at least a year out of date.
"We believe the virus was carried within their bodies," Doc adds. "Once they were assimilated it spread to the vinculum."
"The drones aboard no doubt experienced symptoms similar to my own. It is no surprise they destroyed themselves." This gives us a hint at just how distressed Seven of Nine is in her current state.
Janeway stares intently at the depiction of the alien on the screen. "I'd like to find species 6339. They may be able to help us treat you. Begin long-range Astrometric scans. See if they have any more vessels in this region."
"Yes, Captain," Seven says. "I've already begun a spatial diagn..."
The voices return. When they subside, Seven's voice and manner become (say it with me) familiar. See if you can guess what species she is now.
"My...My, my. Look at the size of that thing." She waddles over to it, arms out, elbows prominent in her walk. "This viewscreen. It's got to be one of the biggest I've ever seen. I'll give you 20 bars of latinum for it."
*BUZZ* Rosie from Terre Haute rings in, and your answer is...YES! Ferengi it is, for two P/T publicity stills and a copy of He Man and the Masters of the Universe, co-starring the young Robert Duncan McNeill! And now, back to our show.
Doc casts a worried look at Janeway. "I think the inhibitor's gone off-line." His tone is more cordial when he addresses Seven. "Would you come here, please?"
Seven waves her arms frantically at Doc. "Be quiet! Can't you see I'm in the middle of a deal?" Her nasal, lets-make-a-deal voice is turned to Janeway. Her hands, at belly-button level, are tapping together in that familiar finger-clap manner that suggests profit is just around the corner. "Name your price, Captain...?"
"Janeway, and you are...?"
"Damon Torrot," Seven says, waddling over to introduce herself, managing to hide her disgust that the female hew-mon is wearing clothing in order to strike a profitable bargain.
Janeway's a bit slower on the uptake than Rosie from Terre Haute. "You're Ferengi!" Janeway exclaims.
"Of course I'm Ferengi!" says Seven, offended. "Is that some kind of insult about the size of my ears?" I gotta admit, it's hilarious watching the statuesque Seven playing a Ferengi. She's got the moves down, but definitely the wrong body type. Moogie, she ain't.
Janeway quickly apologizes, and agrees to negotiate, but first, "we have to get you to Sickbay."
"Sickbay? What for?" Seven asks suspiciously. "Because you're ill." Janeway assures her. "I've never felt better!" Seven insists. Janeway tags Doc, who jumps into the negotiation. "I'm afraid you've contracted a nasty strain of the Ankaran flu." (Must be something you catch in a Turkish bath...) "We've been treating you several days. Remember?" Naturally, Seven doesn't. Doc clucks. "Short-term memory loss--that's one of the symptoms. Don't worry. It isn't life-threatening, but we'll need to treat you...in Sickbay."
Seven is still suspicious. "What is this treatment going to cost me?" Free, Doc assures her. She blinks; she couldn't have heard that right, but Janeway assures her it's true.
Suddenly, Sickbay seems like a great place to visit. She heads toward the door, as the relieved Janeway and Doc follow. "You know, I have been having a nagging pain in my lower left lobe, and while you're at it why don't you run a complete tricardial diagnostic? The Ferengi health commission is trying to revoke my trading license." She goes one way, but Doc leads her gently but firmly the other way.
Over the hallway and through the decks, to Holodoc's house we go...
Seven of Nine, still channeling Ferengi, scopes out everything she sees as a potential purchase. "Impressive vessel, Captain. Galaxy class?"
"Intrepid," Janeway corrects her.
"Ah. Ah! And here we are in the much talked-about 'Sickbay,'" she says, flailing her arms, taking a comprehensive, appraising look. "Not exactly state-of-the-medical art now, is it?" she asks disdainfully.
Doc takes umbrage. "What do you mean?"
Seven gestures for emphasis. "Low on bio-beds, terrible lighting, obsolete instruments," she says, picking up one medical tricorder and tossing it over her shoulder as though it were refuse. Doc, knowing one Ferengi's trash is another Hologram's treasure, intercepts the equipment before it falls out of play. "Lucky for you, I know a medical supplier that can spruce this place up in a nanosecond!" Seven continues, throwing a congenial arm over Doc's shoulder and patting him heartily on the chest. Doc and Janeway walk her toward the main diagnostic bed. "And I'll even drop my commission to a mere...30%?"
Doc frees himself from her hard-selling grasp. "How generous of you. Computer, activate force field." The field goes up, as Seven realizes she's been tricked. She begins to protest.
Doc tries to talk loud enough for Janeway to hear him, but soft enough for Seven not to. It's not easy; Seven is making an awful racket about being kidnaped, demanding compensation, yada yada. "I set the cortical inhibitor to maximum but it is no longer suppressing the effect. These personalities are going to keep surfacing."
"More reason to shut down the vinculum," Janeway says.
"Even if we do break the link, it may be too late. Seven's own neural pattern is destabilizing. It could be lost."
The Ferengi shuts up. In his place, the plaintive voice of an older human woman. "Please help me. I'm looking for my son. Gregory Bergan, Lieutenant Bergan. Have you seen him? From the Starship Melbourne." Janeway repeats the ship's name; it was one of those lost at Wolf 359 when the Borg invaded the Federation nearly nine years before. "I was supposed to meet him at Wolf 359 but Starfleet sent out a warning that the Borg were attacking that sector. It was too late for us to turn back. We were caught in a terrible battle. My ship was badly damaged. We had to leave on escape pods. I never found out what happened to Gregory. Please, I haven't heard from him in over three days. Could you check with Starfleet Headquarters?"
These events may be old news to Janeway, but this woman, long since assimilated, doesn't know that yet. And her gentle pleas are so heartbreaking, Janeway cannot help but reply gently. "I'll see what I can do," she promises.
"Thank you, Captain," Seven says gratefully. "If...If you do speak with him could you tell him that his mother is all right and if he could pos...?"
The voices only Seven can hear clamor for attention. But this time, the voice that wins out is the actual Seven of Nine. She looks almost as ill-at-ease as the woman just did. "Captain..." Janeway is relieved to have her back. Seven asks how long she was out; twenty minutes, Janeway replies, and tells her two new identities emerged in that period. "One of them wanted to acquire half the items on the ship. Damon Torrot, I believe."
Seven of Nine's anguish is transparent. Janeway asks Doc to lower the force field, and moves beside her. "You'll get through this, Seven," Janeway promises.
"I do not share your optimism," says Seven, on the verge of tears. "When you took me from the Borg and began to turn me into an individual I found the silence of my own mind difficult to bear. I missed the voices of the Collective. But now that I am an individual those same voices...frighten me. Captain, I don't know if I can tolerate this condition...much longer. My courage is insufficient."
Janeway locks her gaze onto Seven, pours courage into her. "Your job is to keep trying...to hold on, even when you think you can't. Leave the rest to me and the crew."
Janeway enters the bridge looking like she's just finished a triathlon. She slumps in her seat.
"Meet anyone interesting?" Chakotay asks her, trying to lighten her spirits.
"Hmm...Just finished swapping jokes with a Bolian manicurist. Before that, I was debating the finer points of temporal physics with a Krenim scientist. 12 new personalities have surfaced in the past hour alone." That's the mechanics of the status report. Now for the personal, which Janeway can't talk about without wearing her heart on her sleeve. She rubs at her eyes, forcing the tears to stay unshed. "Seven's having a rough time of it," she says softly. The Doctor had to sedate her."
"And how's the Captain holding up?" Chakotay asks kindly.
"I've been better, Chakotay," Janeway whispers. "In fact...I'm starting to wonder if my first officer was right all along."
This surprises Chakotay. "About what?"
"You always said that bringing Seven into the fold might be impossible."
Chakotay grimaces; the previous year, he did say that a lot. "'You can take the Borg out of the Collective, but...'" He shakes his head. "I don't believe that. Not anymore. I didn't think she'd last a day, much less a year. I'd say you've proven me wrong." He gives the captain a comforting smile. This seems to cheer Janeway somewhat.
Torres reports in, says she's ready to try shutting down the vinculum. "Proceed," Janeway says.
At first, it goes well. The dampening field knocks the vinculum's power output down to about 70%, and Seven's discomfort decreases, her own neural pattern stabilizes.
But then the vinculum reasserts itself. Things spark. The vinculum returns to full power.
And despite Doc's most heroic efforts and pleas to stop the attempts with the vinculum, Seven's neural pattern is lost in the undertow of the angry, frightened voices of the assimilated.
"Report," Janeway says to Doc when Torres and Tuvok report failure.
"Seven's neural pattern has disappeared, Captain. It appears that the other patterns have taken over completely. We've lost her."
* * *
Captain's log, supplemental. Long-range sensors have detected a vessel belonging to species 6339. We've set a course to intercept them in the hopes they can help us restore Seven of Nine.
Doc and Tuvok report to Janeway's ready room. Doc speaks first. "I've managed to stabilize her primary cortical functions but the woman in Sickbay is not Seven of Nine--not anymore. New personalities are emerging every few seconds now. She can't finish a sentence before the next one rears its head. It's creating an incredible strain on her cerebral cortex. If we don't deactivate the vinculum soon we may never get her back."
Tuvok says Torres is still working on the vinculum angle, but that success is not guaranteed. Doc says he's run out of medical options.
Tuvok suggests it may be time to consider non-medical options. "I will attempt to mind-meld with Seven of Nine."
Doc bristles. "A mind-meld? You consider that a viable treatment?"
"Seven's neural pattern--her sense of self--is immersed in chaos. I will attempt to isolate her true self and guide it to the surface." The mind-meld is, as any TOS fan knows, the Swiss Army Knife of mental health.
Janeway doesn't like it. "It's dangerous enough to meld with one person, let alone hundreds of different personalities." Doc concurs--it's too risky.
"The risk is mine to take," Tuvok reminds them. Janeway asks if the meld is their only remaining option. "I believe it is, Captain," Tuvok says.
Janeway makes her decision. "How long would you need to prepare?"
Doc goes apedookie. "Captain! You can't actually be considering this...Vulcan mumbo jumbo!" (This is a stark contrast to Doc's attitude in "Ex Post Facto," where he claimed to know more about mind melds than most Vulcans, since he was programmed with the collective knowledge of Federation databanks. This new attitude sounds more like Doctor McCoy asserting itself.
"I will require two hours of meditation," Tuvok says.
Janeway nods. "Begin immediately. Report to Sickbay when you're ready." She turns to Doc. "You said it yourself. We've exhausted every medical treatment."
"I just hope I don't find myself with a second patient," Doc grumbles.
Chakotay summons the captain to the bridge. They've got company.
"It's them--species 6339," Chakotay tells the captain.
"Their vessel is well-armed, Captain," Ensign Kim says. "I'm picking up 22 phaser cannons on the aft section alone."
Janeway orders a hail, and they respond. We see two creatures with antennae sticking out of the bridges of their noses, wearing transparent plastic jumpsuits with glowing neon pinstripes.
"I'm Captain Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. We recently found a piece of Borg technology. It's been infected with a viral agent we believe was transmitted by your..."
The aliens interrupt angrily. "The vinculum. You have it?" Yes, Janeway says. The aliens look at each other, then at Janeway. "You've made a terrible mistake, Captain."
Species 6339 is now in Engineering, accompanied by the captain. "A weapon?" Janeway asks.
"Yes," the alien explains. "Since the Borg decimated our world we've been looking for ways to retaliate."
"So you created a virus to infect their technology," Janeway says, bummed that she didn't think of it, clueless that Picard actually did. I'm surprised the "Hugh Virus" didn't become part of the Captain's Introductory Packet; Admiral Necheyev ordered its use if Picard ever encountered Borg again.
The alien explains the process. "13 of my people were injected with the virus. They allowed themselves to be assimilated so that the virus would spread to this vinculum. Once another Borg ship had retrieved it they would be infected as well. Then another cube, and another...We had the opportunity to infect dozens, even hundreds of Borg vessels--until you interfered! Why?" he demands.
"Your virus has had one unexpected casualty...a member of my crew," Janeway explains. The alien says it was a Borg-only weapon; Janeway explains that her crewman is Borg. Chakotay amends that to was. "We liberated her from the Collective over a year ago. She's an individual now."
"We were hoping you could help us treat her," Janeway says reasonably.
But this alien is about as objective about the Borg as Arturis was last year. "We designed that virus to destroy Borg, Captain. We never considered a treatment. I'm afraid your drone won't survive. But we must return the vinculum to the debris field immediately. If the Borg arrive first, we'll have lost our chance, and those 13 people will have died in vain."
Surprisingly, Janeway doesn't have a problem with dispatching drones by the thousands. She just has her own priorities. "All right. We'll return it to you. But first we need to try to save our crew member. We think we have a way to counteract the vinculum's effects." She asks Torres to explain, but the alien cuts the engineer off and demands the vinculum's return. Not yet, Janeway insists.
The alien points out that his ship can beat up her ship. Janeway doesn't rise to the bait, says that if he hurts her ship he might harm the vinculum as well. The alien counters that the vinculum survived the destruction of the cube.
In Sickbay, Seven awakens. It actually is Seven this time. She notices she's heavily restrained on the diagnostic bed, and that Doc is treating a wound on her right hand.
Doc apologizes for her restraints. "A necessary precaution. A few of your...guests have been violent."
Seven asks about the vinculum. Doc gives her the bad news. "It keeps adapting. We haven't been able to shut it down. Your own neural pattern was nearly destroyed in the process. I wasn't sure I'd find you again."
Seven's voice trembles as she notices him working on her hand. "I am damaged!"
Doc smiles thinly. "One of your...personas didn't appreciate the restraints. She seemed intent on forcing her way to freedom." Seven apologizes for the inconvenience, but Doc won't let her blame herself. "It was hardly your fault. You're ill."
"Irrelevant. I am Borg-I should be able to adapt."
"Surprise--you aren't invincible," Doc tells her. That's the difficult part for Seven-at one time, she was. Or felt that way, within the Collective. All those voices-once a comfort, now a curse.
Speaking of voices..."They're getting louder," Seven says desperately.
Doc, not eager to bring up Tuvok's plan, still feels obligated to tell her about it. "Commander Tuvok has proposed a mind-meld to help stabilize your neural pattern." Seven's face contorts, and Doc takes that to mean she agrees with him that it's a lousy idea. But she surprises him. She asks how likely it is to work. Doc says he's not sure. Seven asks if there are risks to Tuvok, and Doc says Tuvok could conceivably go nuts (as happened in "Meld"), but that Tuvok doesn't think that's likely.
"Even if we do shut down the vinculum it may not be enough," Seven says, breathing hard, trying desperately to remain in control of her selfhood. "If Tuvok can do anything to help me..." Doc reluctantly accepts her approval for the meld.
"Doctor...You have shown a great deal of patience."
Doc's look is truly compassionate. "Not at all."
The voices grow louder. Seven screams. Her panic intensifies, her screams become heartbreaking. Finally, Doc gives her the temporary respite of sedation.
Tuvok meditates with the Kes lamp.
The alien is now back on his ship. Janeway arrives on the bridge asking for a status report. Paris reports that the ship is coming around for an attack run. Harry reports that Species 6339 is charging weapons.
"Shields," Janeway orders.
Tuvok marches purposefully toward Sickbay. As the doors open, the ship is rocked by weapons fire. "As if the meld weren't dangerous enough," Doc gripes, attaching a monitor to Tuvok's neck, "the aliens are trying to take the vinculum by force. Commander Chakotay is at tactical. The Captain wants you here with Seven. This will allow me to monitor your neural activity for the duration of the meld. At the first sign of trouble..."
"You will do nothing," Tuvok tells him. Doc takes umbrage, but Tuvok continues. "There will undoubtedly be many signs of trouble. You must have faith in my ability to endure them."
"I'll try. I just hope my faith doesn't leave the two of you brain-damaged."
"Your concerns have been noted, Doctor," Tuvok says, heading toward Seven.
Doc rolls his eyes. "With all of these new personalities floating around, it's a shame we can't find one for you." (Argh! More gratuitous Vulcan abuse! Guards, unleash the hologram-scolding wolverines of justice!)
Tuvok orders the force field lowered, then approaches Seven. After some last minute warm-ups, he clasps Seven of Nine's right arm with one hand, and connects the dots on Seven's skull with the other, initiating the mind meld.
He finds himself arguing with a crowd. First the scared little girl, then the bile-spewing Klingon, then the deal-making Ferengi, then the logic-spewing Vulcan. All urge Tuvok to back the heck away from his present course. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.
But Tuvok is nothing if not tenacious. "My mind...to your mind. My thoughts...to your thoughts. Your mind to my mind...."
Over Seven's voices' loud and unanimous objections, Tuvok joins a very crowded, very raucous party inside her skull.
We see him inside a Borg regeneration alcove, shouting Seven of Nine's name, barely able to hear himself in the clamor of angry voices.
Tuvok looks around. He can finally connect faces to the voices. Not that it's any prettier a sight than it was a sound.
Welcome to Hell, Commander.
* * *
On Voyager, it's a multi-front war.
In Engineering, Torres pulls double duty, trying to flatline the vinculum while simultaneously keeping the ship's engines and power up and running under the barrage of weapons fire from Species 6339.
On the bridge, Janeway orders evasive maneuvers, but doesn't do much returning fire. Chakotay's at tactical, but his consoles keep exploding on him.
In Sickbay, Doc tries to keep Tuvok and Seven from melting down their meatware.
And inside Seven's mind, it's the sort of party that Timothy Leary never warned you about.
Hundreds of creatures. Many recognizable. Many in Starfleet uniforms. Some mere children. All of them treating tuvok as either threat to be hounded, or as savior by whom rescue is possible. All clutch at Tuvok, who dutifully shouts Seven of Nine's name, searching her out in this freaky drugged-out way-too-crowded head.
We see Meryl, the cute little kid that played with Naomi for a while. Brunette, about six years old, scared to death, begging to be taken away. Tuvok ignores her. Meryl's pleading becomes more insistent, until her screams become really, really annoying.
Then along comes the son of K'vok, who it is save to say is not B'Elanna's type. He takes particular offense at Tuvok's intrusion, and begins taking swings at him. Tuvok wrestles with him for a bit-then chucks the old Klingon jerk out of a corridor and into a bottomless pit.
That's for B'Elanna, you Tesh-admiring Klingon perv.
Tuvok spots Seven, who is being dragged toward another precipice by a whole lot of assimilated souls. He calls out to her.
She calls out to him.
The pounding of Voyager continues. Naturally, these events are interconnected. If the ship gets blowed up too much, then Torres is taken away from her vinculum-dampening duties, which makes Doc's job harder, which makes it more likely Tuvok and Seven will end up spending a lot of time with Trevis and Flotter and getting distracted by shiny objects.
But the vinculum does slowly dissipate. When the power grid gets blown to bits, torres has enough leeway to switch to backups before the vinculum can adapt. Soon she's back to business, and the Borg beastie weakens, bit by bit.
But Doc is still worried. The pounding is also wreaking havoc on the medical equipment, and he's having trouble monitoring, and assisting, Tuvok in his efforts.
Tuvok and Seven are separated by a dozen or so meters of mental space. Each struggles mightily to reach the other, but the shouting mob holds them fast. Their progress is measured in inches.
Finally, Torres succeeds. The last few percentage points of power drain from the vinculum, until it's completely off-line. She signals the Doctor.
Inside Seven's mind, Seven and Tuvok suddenly find her mind clearing. The angry crowd dissipates, fading away to nothing. Soon, the chambers of Seven's mind are as empty as you'd expect from the average blonde. (Kidding!!! Don't hurt me.) Tuvok, freed from the clutches of Seven's tormenters, rushes over to Seven, who leans heavily against the wall.
In the real world, Seven's eyes flutter open. Doc staggers backward, breaking the meld, and promptly leans against the bed for support. Doc rushes over to examine both his patients. Doc hails Janeway.
Janeway tells Harry to signal the aliens. They refuse to respond. Janeway, pissed, tells Chakotay to lock onto the damn thing and beam it the hell into space.
Locked the hell on, Ma'am. Beamed the hell away. As you wish.
As soon as the vinculum is off the ship, the aliens stop firing.
Janeway tells Tom to put the pedal to the metal. Warp nine. Exit: stage home. Earth, even.
Yes, ma'am. Thrusters are toast, they can't fire anything they don't target manually, main power is a smoking ruin, but the warp engines are good to go.
Captain's log, stardate 52356.2. After nearly a week of regeneration Seven of Nine has finally recovered from her ordeal.
In Cargo Bay Two, Doc and Janeway put the finishing touches on Seven's medical examination. Everything checks out. "She's fit to return to duty," Doc says.
"What about her other personalities? Any sign of them?" Janeway asks.
"Those neural patterns have returned to their dormant state," Doc says.
"The voices will not return?" Seven asks anxiously.
Doc gives her a sympathetic look. "You may not hear them, but I suspect they'll always be with you."
Seven gives the captain and Doc a grateful look. "The members of this crew put themselves at risk to help me. I am unsure how to reciprocate."
Janeway smiles. "Let's start with something small...like a recalibration of the E.P.S. Manifolds? B'Elanna's expecting you in engineering." Yep, nothing says Thanks like a little elbow grease.
"I will join her shortly," Seven says. "There is a crew member I must see first."
Seven of Nine walks through the corridors, piling PADD after PADD into the arms of Naomi Wildman, Captain's Bridge Assistant In Training.
"These are star charts for the next three systems Voyager will pass through. Familiarize yourself with them," Seven orders.
"Understood," Naomi says eagerly.
"Sociological data regarding 173 delta quadrant species. Study it." (Add the 3 to the 1...)
"I will," Naomi promises.
"As bridge assistant, you will find this information relevant," Seven tells her.
"Consider it 'assimilated,'" Naomi assures Seven.
"Tthere is one more assignment," Seven says, as they stop at a turbolift, and she enters the command to summon it. "I require your assistance."
"Me?" Naomi says, surprised.
Seven looks uncomfortable, but presses on. "I wish to participate in recreational activities," she says as they enter the turbolift.
"Great," says Naomi, shrugging.
Well, out with it, Borg Lady! "Kadis-kot. Instruct me how to play," Seven asks.
Naomi beams. She looks up at her new buddy. "I will comply."
They could have renamed this one Ms. Borg's Wild Ride. Yowsa.
I guess you would call this a character episode more than a message or action episode. I don't think any major allegorical statement is made about multiple personality disorder, for example. Its onset, its effects, it treatment are purely the stuff of science fiction. You could make surface nods to Sybil or to the New Testament's "Legion," but there's really no parallel. This travail is Seven's, and Seven's alone.
So the question is, why. The obvious answer is to showcase the acting talents of Jeri Ryan, and she does put in an excellent performance. Most of the different people she plays have nicely distinctive body language, vocal inflection, etc. Her Klingon was recognizably Klingon. My favorite was her Ferengi, a character she nailed even though she couldn't have been more miscast if you'd made her an Oompa Loompa. And Seven as Seven, she who quests for perfection descending into a state so far from perfect that the only thing that saves her is the heroic efforts of her new "Collective." The Hive would have destroyed her at the first hint of trouble, and she would gladly have gone to her destruction.
Seven learns her quest for perfection can face challenges outside her control. In this case, something she's long considered a strength--her Borg nature--is turned against her. (It's nice to know that the virus solution Picard ordered in "I, Borg" is at least theoretically sound, though Species 6339 accomplished through hardware what Geordi and Data would have attempted through software. The Enterprise Virus might indeed have been even more devastating.) Ironically, she is saved from one joined Mind by another joined mind, Tuvok's.
That's actually a question I've seen bandied about. Did the meld perform miracles? Was this a mystic solution? I didn't think so. In TOS, the Meld was often a deus ex Vulcana, the be-all, end-all of mental mechanics and a tactile Babel Fish that could permit communication with nearly any species. It often took its toll on Spock, but it nearly always succeeded. In Voyager, the meld has been knocked down a peg or two. It's used less frequently, and expectations aren't quite so lofty. Tuvok uses it mostly for criminal investigations (Meld, Ex Post Facto, Random Thoughts) and the occasional limited medical procedure (Flashback, the Gift, and here). I like that the meld has been given a place, but not overused, in Voyager. Here, it makes sense, because it's employed as part of a multiply pronged strategy. Doc is involved, monitoring the whole process (McCoy rarely monitored Spock during a meld). There is a mechanical and a military and a medical and a meld, the 4-M club of intervention on Seven of Nine's behalf. The meld played a role, and not really a major role. It did not dominate--its chief purpose was to show the audience an extended, funky nightmare sequence in the final act, and fulfil one of my wishes, to see a mind meld between Seven and Tuvok. (I don't know why; I just did.)
The story...I dunno. It was interesting, fun to watch, well acted, relatively well paced. But I had many questions. Doc said at one point, "This is your neural pattern, the memory engrams and synaptic pathways that define you as an individual. Unfortunately, you're not alone." There are a lot of assimilated folks inside her, in whole or in part. What of them? Perhaps it's a bad question to ask, but what of the other victims of the Collective's quest for perfection? Janeway yanked one drone from the hive, fostered its individuality, saved one individual.
But the Borg don't entirely work that way. Bodies are data terminals that the Net can access at any time. The vinculum suppresses the individual so the group can take control. Seven of Nine said in "Mortal Coil" that she's got a form of immortality because her neural pattern is held within the Collective, and that would remain long after the flesh was discarded. Likewise, when she left the Collective, she didn't go alone--she took some other patterns with her. Are they complete individuals? Or are they simply echoes, templates? What we saw of the Ferengi, the little girl, the Klingon-they had identity, self-awareness, the little girl knew about her family and her likes and dislikes. There's enough there to flesh out, as it were.
So the questions become: should they rescue those other patterns, if possible? Could they capture them from Seven's being (perhaps one at a time via mind meld, back them up to system storage, make Holodeck characters out of them (as was done with Denara Pel in "Lifesigns" or the sentient Moriarty in TNG or Vic Fontaine in DS9)? Let them out from time to time with Doc's holoemitter? If the neural pattern is what makes us who we are, why not rescue those poor souls from the Collective the way they did Seven, in whatever form they can? If nothing else, it could make the Holodeck more interesting, with more fleshed-out characters.
I suppose if these beings will always be with Seven, they could do this in the future. But this was an intriguing concept that I would have liked to have seen more of. Though Seven referred off-hand to her "victims", I didn't sense any real guilt from Seven-she was a victim herself, and things she did as a drone were really beyond her control to resist. It could have been interesting to see her wrestle with her Drone past, to have some cathartic moment where she realizes she can let go, or that she can't-that she really enjoyed assimilating, bringing in new drones, adding to her perfection. Maybe she was addicted to new neural patterns. Or maybe we could have seen her discover Annika Hansen, the young girl assimilated by the Borg, tap into her childhood in a truly visceral way, restoring a measure of that self which was stolen by the Collective.
As I said before. This was a fun episode. Not deep at all, less than it could have been, but fun. Jeri Ryan put in an excellent set of performances, forced to cover a wide range of characters, and to convey serious distress. Her screams sounded genuine enough.
Of course, I imagine folks will talk about the Seven/B'Elanna moment. I thought it was amusing, particularly Torres' reaction. Of all the people for Seven of Nine to hit on, she had to pick the person on board who dislikes her the most, channeling a character (a Klingon warrior) to whom violent resistance is the ultimate "no means yes." (B'Elanna got MAD at Tom when he didn't fight her in "Blood Fever.") So B'Elanna threateningly waving a long hard object at the Amorous Warrior is about as flirtatious a gesture as she could make. "What we have...is failure to communicate."
As far as romantic moments go, "Rejoined" this ain't. But that's just as well; I'm still rooting for P/T. Color me old-fashioned, but I'm not ready for a Seven/B'Elanna romance, whoever Seven happens to think she is at the moment.
Besides, B'Elanna can do a lot better than the skanky old son of K'vok.
The follow-up scene, with Seven and Torres and Doc, was amusing. In Trek, where people's bodies often get commandeered by aliens, pagh wraiths, viruses, magnetic waves, subspace doohickies, doppelgangers, evil transporter duplicates and so on, scenes like this are no doubt common. A little humor goes a long way to getting past such incidents, and that's what we get here. Jokes about second dates and chaperones signal that there's no hard feelings, and it's okay to go back to status quo ante, where Torres and Seven disliked each other for a multitude of other reasons.
The big change in this episode comes in the form of Naomi Wildman. Cute kid, very well played by Scarlett Pomers, it was fun to see her again. She and Seven work well together. I'm not sure how keen I am on the idea of a full-time "bridge assistant," but I am glad to see that Annika Hansen finally has someone her own age to play with. Like Naomi Wildman, most of the crew is too busy to worry about Seven of Nine's social development on a day to day basis. Past efforts have been mixed successes at best. Doc's been a good instructor in many ways, but in others I think Naomi's an excellent choice for her first friend. Naomi's patient, forgiving, smart as a whip, ambitious, and downright nice. Seven could learn much from her.
Learning to play kadis-kot is a good start.
In the matter of Species 6339, I can't figure out why Voyager didn't just beam the heck out of there at warp 9, avoid the battle, get the vinculum disabled, warp back in, hand the vinculum back and hand it over. Species 6339 is clearly big on weapons, but I doubt they could have outrun Voyager. The battle was gratuitous and unnecessary, and Voyager didn't fight back. I figure if they're not going to kick hiney, they should at least protect their own. It may not be exciting to watch, but it would make the captain look smarter.
Species 6339 seems like many victims of the Borg--out for revenge. Even humanity was not immune, as Picard's actions in "I, Borg" and "First Contact" show. Species 6339 seems to have succeeded in a way most others have not, though, with the Trojan horse in the vinculum. I found it interesting that Janeway didn't have any moral qualms with letting them smash all the Cubes they could with the tainted tech, as long as she got her way first. The aliens had a similar no-compromises fervor that Arturis showed in "Hope and Fear," which made them fairly two-dimensional. They were there to explain the nature of the problem and to make the solution harder to obtain by pounding the snot out of the ship.
About the only other thing I can think to say about them can be summed up in one word: tweezers. Those things on their noses were nasty.
Well, that's about it. I enjoyed it, particularly the terrific performances, but I felt a bit let down by the story itself. I'll watch it, but I might use the fast forward button from time to time.
Call it (* * *) on the four-star scale.
Next Week: Has Torres changed her perfume? Now even oversized insects are hitting on her. Also, Doc gets in touch with his inner Mengele. Jeri Taylor wrote this one, so perhaps we'll see some nice Tom and B'Elanna moments.
Postscript: I have not yet read the novel Seven of Nine by Christie Golden, but I've been told since the review went up that several of the issues I raised are covered in the novel. I plan to read it very soon. Of course, I'd still like to see such issues addressed on screen....