The following is an ALL-SPOILER Review. Teaser to closing credits, I give you the whole dang episode, blow-by-blow. If you want to be surprised when you finally see it, leave now. If you don't mind having the whole enchilada spelled out for you, pull up some shuttle debris and enjoy the ride.
I rate each episode based on how much I enjoyed it--not necessarily on how good I think it is; I leave the objective takes to others. I don't claim to be accurate or objective, though only on occasion will I deliberately try not to be. (this week, for instance.) But with luck, you'll enjoy yourself along the way whether you agree with me or not.
So kick back and toss another shrimp on the barbie. Fatherly Uncle Jim's in a storytellin' mood.
Seven of Nine wants to assimilate Perfection; Janeway wants to blow It up. Harry loses at chess and gets demoted.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
Before I begin, I must correct a shameful oversight.
In last week's "Vis-a-Vis" review, I neglected to mention that Doc finally got his chance to examine the shape-shifter, Steth, as he returned Janeway, Paris, and the real Steth to their true forms.
I'm sure the scanning instruments included...a Stethoscope.
There. I feel better now. I can't believe I missed such an obvious opportunity for The Bad Pun of the Week.
A darkened Cargo Bay Two suddenly brightens as the computer gives Seven of Nine a 6am wake-up call. Unlike a certain Review Boy for whom 6am comes all too soon, Seven of Nine comes out the gate bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and fresh of breath. She sleeps standing up and fully dressed, so the transition from sleep to productivity is almost instantaneous.
If the pointy-haired bosses ever learn the regeneration alcove's secrets, the cubicles of corporate America will be upgraded faster than you can say "veal calf." But Seven would likely see that as a good thing. Two steps, and bedroom becomes home office. Seven's Day has begun.
She taps her combadge. "Daily log, Seven of Nine, Stardate 15781.2" (Oopsie. It's really Stardate 51781.2, as closed-captioning states. But it's comforting to realize that even Borg aren't running on all cylinders just after they wake up, appearances notwithstanding.)
"Today Ensign Kim and I will conduct a comprehensive diagnostic of the aft sensor array. I have allocated three hours, 20 minutes for the task--and an additional 17 minutes for Ensign Kim's usual conversational digressions." (Poor chatty Harry...) As Seven dictates, she palms a Borg computer pylon with one hand and taps in few commands with her other. A foot locker opens up near her alcove. She kneels down and grabs what looks like a large black telephone handset, which she then inserts into the pylon.
"I am scheduled to take a nutritional supplement at 1500 hours, engage in one hour of cardiovascular activity, and I intend to review a text the Doctor recommended entitled A Christmas Carol. He believes it will have educational value. End log." She palms the pylon again, and her morning ablutions are complete.
Mess Hall at 0602 is surprisingly active. Harry and Tuvok are squared off at a table. Between them: a kal-toh board, with a roughly spherical jumble of metal toothpicks suggesting that this game is well underway. Kim, toothpick in hand, stares at the board from every angle.
"I'll get this," Harry says intently. "Don't give me any hints."
"I have no intention of doing so," Tuvok says patiently.
Seven enters and asks if he's ready to start the sensor diagnostic. Surprised by the question, he realizes aloud that they've been playing all night. "Vulcan kal-toh. For a game of logic you'd be surprised at how addictive it is." Surprisingly, Harry seems more annoyed than tongue-tied by Seven's presence--he must be into the game. "Give me a few minutes to figure this out."
Tuvok frowns. "You should attend to your duties, Ensign. I'll accept your forfeit." Is that an eyebrow wiggle I see?
Harry's instinct to follow orders almost wins out. Almost. "No way!" he says, grinning. "This is the closest I've ever come to beating you and I'm not giving up now." Tuvok sighs indulgently, and Seven rolls her eyes.
Harry continues to study the board, waving the toothpick over it like a magic wand.
Seven decides to pinch-hit. She grabs the piece from Harry's hand, and before he can protest she lays the piece down. The whole sphere shimmers and transforms into a beautiful geometric construct. Harry's face falls.
Tuvok's eyebrows rise. "Impressive," he says.
"Elementary spatial harmonics," she says, as though bored. "Are you ready now?" she asks Harry.
Like he has a choice. He mumbles Sure, fists clenched, but leans in to Tuvok before he leaves. "I would have gotten that," he says, pointing at the board. Tuvok says nothing, but his mouth twitches ever-so-slightly as the Ensign departs.
A Lisa Klink script virtually guarantees at least one spontaneous fit of welcome laughter. This was the first.
The obligatory corridor conversation. Harry, his irritation mostly forgotten, holds onto a shred of it so he can talk to Seven without stammering. "Is there anything you don't know?" he asks. To her standard "I was Borg" reply, he asks for clarification. "What does it mean? You have the knowledge of 10,000 species in your head?"
"Not exactly. Each drone's experiences are processed by the Collective. Only useful information is retained."
Harry shakes his head. "Still, that probably makes you the most intelligent human being alive."
"Probably," she agrees modestly. "So what do you need the rest of us for?" he asks.
She looks at him in a Mars Needs Women kinda way--appraising, lips pursed. Harry notices, and rolls his eyes. "Forget I asked." Weenie.
The ship rumbles slightly. "What was that?" Kim asks.
On the bridge, Paris wonders the same thing, as the ship drops out of warp. Chakotay asks for a reason. "We were hit by some kind of shock wave," Paris reports, and checks on the source, correctly anticipating Chakotay's order.
His checking is checked when the screen goes blank, replaced by a large horseshoe--though some folks might better recognize it as the Greek letter Omega.
The whole bridge crew sees the same thing at their station. Systems go dead, replaced by the Greek letter. (It's Pledge Week!) Everyone's locked out, including Chakotay--his access isn't sufficient. He tells Paris he intends to call up Harry to find a workaround.
"Don't do anything." Janeway appears, saying she'll take care of it. She taps in a few commands, and the system controls return. "Send all sensor data about the particle wave to my ready room. Tom, disengage engines and hold position here." She's a flurry of activity, her new shoulder-length hairstyle flopping around freely. (Dang, I miss the ponytail--but there is a certain quality to the new 'do I kinda like.)
Chakotay asks her what's going on, but she's evasive. "I can't explain right now. Don't discuss any of this with the rest of the crew. I'll have further instructions for you soon."
She disappears into her ready room, leaving the bridge crew more confused than before.
* * *
Janeway's frenetic pace continues as she enters her ready room. "Computer, seal the doors to this room. No entry without my authorization....Access secured data file Omega One." She sits and goes through the necessary security clearances.
Once satisfied Janeway passes, the computer begins. "Have detected the Omega phenomenon within 1.2 light years of this vessel. Implement the Omega Directive immediately." Janeway sighs heavily. "All other priorities have been rescinded."
All? Including the Prime Directive? Including trips to Talos IV? This sounds serious...
"Display sensor data," Janeway orders.
In Engineering, Chakotay briefs Torres, Paris and Seven of Nine. "I've been informed this is a highly classified mission," he says. "Information will be provided on a need-to-know basis-- Captain's orders."
"Classified?" asks Torres. "By who? We're 60,000 light years from Starfleet."
Chakotay shrugs. "Like I said, need-to-know." He gives Torres her orders, to install multi-phasic shielding around the warp core--by 1100 hours. She doubts it's possible. "Make it possible," he says simply, and from his tone she knows to withhold further argument.
Seven asks about if the shielding is to protect against "some form of subspace radiation," but Chakotay just shrugs. "I don't know any more than you do." Seven points out they'll need more data, but Chakotay says he's given all he's got.
Chakotay turns next to Paris, to work on a shuttlecraft (uh oh...) To "withstand extreme thermal stress-- 12,000 Kelvins at least." Paris accepts his orders with a simple and sincere Aye, sir.
As Torres and Chakotay discuss what little they know--Chakotay discouraging the proliferation of rumors-- the word Omega Directive comes up. Seven's ears instantly tingle. "Omega?" she asks.
"The speculation ends right here," Chakotay says. "Now, I expect you to carry out your assignments with a minimum of gossip, understood? I know it's hard not to wonder. Frankly, I'm curious myself, but the Captain was very adamant about this. Get going."
Torres and Paris go to their separate assignments, but Chakotay holds Seven back. "The Captain wants to see you," he says.
"I thought she might," Seven says, without elaborating.
According to Torres, Janeway has been locked in her ready room for the past sixteen hours. She looks it. Her face betrays a deadly combination of fatigue and the weight of the galaxy on her shoulders--yet again.
Seven arrives. Janeway cuts to the chase. "What do you know about the Omega Directive?" she asks.
"Everything you do, most likely," Seven says.
"I thought as much. If the Borg assimilated Starfleet Captains you would possess all of their knowledge."
Seven nods. "That's correct. Do you intend to carry out the Directive?" Janeway confirms, and Seven's interest rises. "Then sensors have detected the molecule."
"So it would appear, but we have to confirm it....You're going to help me carry out the Directive. Protocol forbids me from discussing this mission with any of my crew, but since you already know about it my choice is to either work with you, or..." Janeway hesitates, "confine you to quarters."
"Perhaps you should do the latter," Seven says after a moment's thought. "I will not help you destroy Omega. It should be harnessed." Impossible, Janeway says. "The Borg believe otherwise." Janeway demands explanation. "On one occasion we were able to create a single Omega molecule. We kept it stable for one-trillionth of a nanosecond before it destabilized. We didn't have enough boronite ore left to synthesize more, but the knowledge we gained allowed us to...refine our theories." According to Seven, the Borg have been looking for the ore ever since...and now they've found some. Maybe.
Sorry, Janeway says, "but if someone out there is experimenting with Omega I'm under orders to stop them. Otherwise, this entire quadrant would be at risk."
Seven doesn't quite sneer. "Those orders are the result of Starfleet's ignorance and fear. I can alleviate your ignorance. As for your fear..."
Janeway is far too tired to get angry with Seven, but she is still alert enough to argue, softly but effectively. "Sometimes fear should be respected, Seven. Tell me...how many Borg were sacrificed during this experiment?"
Seven flinches. "29 vessels, 600,000 drones--but that is irrelevant."
"Not to me! Not to my crew, and not to the people who live in this quadrant. I'm going to neutralize this threat, Seven--with or without your help."
Seven considers the captain's words. "I will assist you," she says, to Janeway's surprise. "I have waited many years to observe this molecule firsthand. I will not deny myself that experience."
Janeway accepts her help. "Go back to your cargo bay. Assemble all the data you have about Omega. I'll expect a report within the hour." Janeway stops her at the door. "I didn't realize you had such a strong scientific curiosity," Janeway calls after her.
Seven hesitates. "Not curiosity...Desire." That catches Janeway off-guard; Seven is not usually this candid. "Omega is infinitely complex, yet harmonious. To the Borg it represents perfection." A pause. "I wish to understand that perfection."
Janeway stares at her. "The Borg's Holy Grail," she whispers, the smile actually reaching her tired eyes. Seven misses the reference. "Never mind. I'll see you in an hour."
Seven leaves. Alone, Janeway slumps back in her chair. Her task--daunting as it had been--has now become even trickier.
* * *
"Arithrazine? What for?" Doc asks Janeway in Sickbay.
"I'm going on a mission," Janeway says, not caring to elaborate.
"What are you planning to do--stroll through a supernova?" he asks.
"Something like that," she says. "20 milligrams. When can you have it ready?"
"Arithrazine is used for the most severe cases of theta radiation poisoning," Doc reminds her needlessly. "A physician must be present." Knowing what he's getting at, Janeway tells him to forget it--he can't come along. "Then I'm afraid I can't accommodate you," Doc says. "I'd violate Starfleet medical protocols."
Janeway sets her jaw. "Well, I'm overriding those protocols."
Doc rolls his eyes. "Don't tell me--'The Omega Directive,' whatever that might be."
Good guess, dude. Janeway presses the Arithrazine point, and Doc says it'll be ready in the morning. She gives him delivery instructions and turns to leave.
Doc stops her. "I don't know what's going on here, but I'd hate this to be the last time I ever see you. Please be careful," he says sincerely.
Janeway smiles appreciatively. "I will."
Janeway and Seven work alone in Cargo Bay Two. "I've analyzed the sensor logs using Borg algorithms," Seven reports. "The shock wave we detected indicates not one but possibly hundreds of Omega molecules."
Janeway's eyes go wide. "Location?"
"Within ten light-years. I'm having difficulty isolating the exact star system."
Hundreds of molecules.... "That changes everything," Janeway says.
Seven agrees. A shuttle mission may be insufficient. "We require the resources of this entire crew." Janeway considers the implications--they'll need more firepower, more protection....
"Transfer your data to the Astrometrics lab," Janeway orders. "I'll work on it there."
Tuvok and Kim are mucking about in the guts of a photon torpedo. Tuvok acts like the chief surgeon, asking the Ensign for instrument after instrument. Harry, though doing his job, can't stop from speculating about the current flurry of activity. He holds the big bang ball in his hand. "This looks like enough for a 50-isoton explosion ("54," Tuvok corrects). What are we planning to do, blow up a small planet?" Tuvok doesn't rise to the bait. Harry wonders aloud if the captain designed this non-standard warhead--
"Mr. Kim, you ask too many questions," Janeway says, catching him in the act. Harry blushes. "Change of plans, gentlemen. Increase the charge to 80 isotons. Harry, when you're done, help B'Elanna reinforce the hull of the shuttlecraft." As soon as she entered, the captain leaves.
As soon as it's safe, Harry leans over the torpedo, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. "Ensign Hickman thinks it's Species 8472," he says.
"Pardon me?" Tuvok says, irritated.
"That's his theory. There's an opening in fluidic space and Captain Janeway has to shut it down. Want to know what I think?"
"I think there's a type-six protostar out there and the Captain's planning on detonating it and opening up a wormhole to the alpha quadrant. In theory, it's possible. She doesn't want to get her hopes up so she's not telling anybody!" Leave it to Harry...
"Then I wouldn't suggest getting your hopes up," Tuvok says. Harry prods him to guess, but Tuvok refuses.
"Oh, come on, Tuvok. Aren't you curious?"
Tuvok gives up. "Yes. But we have a task at hand. The phase modulator." He holds out his hand, and work resumes.
Astrometrics is usually accessible to all, but not this time. Janeway works alone, when the door chimes, and she unlocks it with a word.
Chakotay enters. "Everything's going according to schedule." He looks at her, and it's clear he'd love to know what the heck is going on. "The omega directive doesn't allow me to say much," Janeway says, "But I want you to know what to expect. At 0600 hours, I'll be leaving in a shuttle with Seven of Nine."
"Would it be out of line to ask where you're going?" Chakotay asks.
"I can tell you this: one of two things is going to happen. Either Seven and I will succeed on our mission and return within a few days...or your long-range sensors will detect a large explosion in subspace. If that occurs, you'll have ten seconds to jump to warp and get the hell out of here." Her voice assumes Command Mode. "Head for the Alpha Quadrant and don't look back. Understood?"
Chakotay considers his options before replying. "I always thought that Starfleet was run by duty-crazed bureaucrats--but I find it hard to believe that even they would order a Captain to go on a suicide mission! This shuttle excursion is your idea, isn't it?"
Janeway gives him an accusing look. "Let's just say I've had to amend the directive given the circumstances. You have your orders and I expect you to follow them."
"That's expecting a lot," Chakotay says. "You're asking me to abandon my Captain and closest friend without even telling me why." He does know how to play the Guilt Card, doesn't he?
"If it were a simple matter of trust I wouldn't hesitate to tell you," she assures him. "But we've
encountered situations where information was taken from us by force. I can't allow knowledge of
Omega to go beyond Voyager."
Brace yourselves, kids...
"That's a reasonable argument--but you're not always a reasonable woman."
Janeway reacts as though slapped. A lone Review Boy laughs his fool head off and waits for her to plunge her fist into his chest cavity and show him his still-beating heart before he dies.
I guess she's too tired.
"You're determined to protect this crew," he continues, "and this time you've taken it too far. A dangerous mission--I'll acknowledge that--but isn't it more likely to succeed with everyone behind you, working together?"
Janeway shrugs. "Ordinarily, I'd agree--but this directive was issued many years ago. Starfleet didn't exactly have our predicament in mind, did it? Lost in the Delta Quadrant with no backup. I can't ignore the orders--but I won't ask the crew to risk their lives because of my obligation."
Chakotay regards her as he would an adorably stubborn fourth-grader who insists that Columbus' three ships were "the El Niño, the Pinto, and the Santa Monica." He shakes his head. " 'My obligation.' That's where you're wrong! Voyager may be alone out here, but you're not! Let us help you. We'll keep classified information limited to the senior staff. We'll take every security precaution. Just don't try to do this alone!"
They've had this "is the captain alone" disagreement many times before. But for whatever reason, Janeway bows to common sense. She's already had to adapt the Directive to their unique circumstances. A little more adaptation improves her chance of completing the mission.
She smiles, grateful for the help--and for the talking-to. It's not often she lets Chakotay fulfill his First Duty as First Officer--to jealously preserve and protect the safety and well-being of the captain. "Assemble the troops."
All the senior staff--except Torres, who I'm guessing was in labor when this scene was filmed--is in the conference room. Everyone faces Janeway except Seven, whose chair is turned in the direction of Harry Kim, who sits beside her.
Janeway's voice is somber. "If we were in the alpha quadrant we wouldn't be having this conversation. I'd be in contact with Starfleet Command and they'd send in a specialized team to deal with the crisis. In their absence, we're going to have to make do with the training I've received and the knowledge Seven of Nine has retained from the Borg."
She calls up the icon seen in the teaser. "You've all seen this symbol. Omega...the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Chosen by Starfleet to represent a threat not only to the Federation but to the entire galaxy."
She looks at her staff. "Only Starship Captains and Federation flag officers have been briefed on the nature of this threat." Her eyes bore into each of them. "What you're about to hear will not go beyond these bulkheads. Is that clear?" They all nod, their anxiety increasing as we watch.
"Good," Janeway says. She taps in some commands, and the display changes. "This is Omega." A small but intense point of light, surrounded by larger spheres of energy, greets them. It resembles nothing, in fact, so much as a pure-energy equivalent of the kal-toh sphere. Intricate, geometric...almost perfect.
"A molecule?" Paris asks with classic understatement.
"Not just any molecule...the most powerful substance known to exist. A single omega molecule contains the same energy as a warp core. In theory, a small chain of them could sustain a civilization."
Da-haaang. Just think how well Ed Begley Jr.'s electric car could run on one of those....
"The molecule was first synthesized over a hundred years ago by a Starfleet physicist named Ketteract. I think he was hoping to develop an inexhaustible power source."
"Or a weapon," Seven says. Janeway doesn't comment.
"Ketteract managed to synthesize a single molecule particle of Omega. But it only existed for a fraction of a second before it destabilized."
Janeway taps the wall unit a few more times, and the picture changes yet again, to a video clip of a space station of some sort, glowing a sickly, pulsing aqua. "This was a classified research center in the Lantaru sector. Ketteract and 126 of the Federation's leading scientists were lost in the accident." A close-up reveals a very large hole in the top of the station. "Rescue teams attempting to reach the site discovered an unexpected secondary effect--there were subspace ruptures extending out several light-years." Her words are so clipped you could shear sheep with them. She walks as she talks, and ends up standing behind Tom Paris' chair, where she rests her arm.
Paris reacts from an old memory. "The Lantaru sector...it's impossible to create a stable warp field there. You can only fly through it as sublight speeds....But I was always told it was a natural phenomenon. You're saying it was caused by a single molecule of this stuff?" The implications, he realizes, could have a direct bearing on his ability to Fly Real Fast.
"Omega destroys subspace," Janeway says. "A chain reaction involving a handful of molecules could devastate subspace throughout an entire quadrant. If that were to happen, warp travel would become impossible. Space-faring civilization as we know it would cease to exist."
That sinks in fast. They need warp to get home. Without it, they may as well find a planet and homestead. Not only could they not get home--but nobody from home could get near enough to rescue them.
"When Starfleet realized Omega's power," she concludes, "they suppressed all knowledge of it."
"Have you detected omega here in the Delta Quadrant?" Doc asks, voice soft.
"I'm afraid so. I've been authorized to use whatever means necessary to destroy it." She tells Tom she'll give him the coordinates where she believes the molecules to be, and orders a full-impulse course laid in. "Aye, Captain," he says.
"I don't have to tell you what's at stake," Janeway says as a final word. "If a large-scale Omega explosion occurs we will lose the ability to go to warp forever." Harry hangs his head at that. "We've got our work cut out for us."
They file out silently, as Janeway sighs heavily.
* * *
Captain's Log, Supplemental. Encrypt log entry. We're approaching the star system where we believe we'll find Omega. I have to admit, I've never been this apprehensive about a mission. I know how Einstein must have felt about the atom bomb, or Marcus when she developed the Genesis device. They watched helplessly as science took a destructive course...but I have the chance to prevent that from happening.
I just hope it's not too late.
Janeway enters Cargo Bay Two. Even is alone. "Status report?" the captain asks.
"This is a harmonic resonance chamber," Seven says, showing Janeway what she's got so far. "The Borg designed it to contain and stabilize Omega."
Janeway frowns. "I thought I asked you to work on the photon torpedo."
Seven continues working. "The torpedo may be insufficient. I can modify this chamber to emit an inverse frequency. It will be enough to dissolve Omega's interatomic bonds."
The frown fades. "Here's to Borg ingenuity. This is excellent work, Seven," Janeway says with a touch of maternal/captainly pride. "We may need this."
"The modifications require several complex calculations," Seven says. "Assist me."
Janeway gets briefly irked, but thinks better of confronting Seven about it. "I guess I will," she says, bemused. As she works, Janeway brings up some relevant small talk. "I'm curious...When did the Borg discover Omega?
"229 years ago." She confirms Janeway's next question: Assimilation? "Yes. Of 13 different species. It began with species 262. They were primitive, but their oral history referred to a powerful substance which could burn the sky. The Borg were intrigued...Which led them to species 263. They, too, were primitive and believed it was a drop of blood from their creator."
"Fascinating..." whispers Janeway.
"Yes, but irrelevant. We followed this trail of myth for many years until finally assimilating a species with useful scientific data. We then created the molecule ourselves."
Janeway smiles, briefly allowing herself to appreciate the scientific rather than the practical implications of the molecule. "Omega caused quite a stir among my own species. Federation cosmologists had a theory--that the molecule once existed in nature for an infinitesimal period of time at the exact moment of the Big Bang. Some claimed Omega was the primal source of energy for the explosion that began our universe."
Does that make it Alpha as well as Omega?
"A creation myth, like any other," Seven says.
Janeway smiles. "Perhaps. What is it the Borg say? That Omega is perfect?" Seven nods. "Is that a theory or a belief?" Janeway asks.
Seven has no answer.
Chakotay hails from the bridge; they're approaching the coordinates. Janeway acknowledges, then turns to Seven. "I'm leaving this project in your hands. Use whatever resources and personnel you need."
Is that a gleam in Seven's eyes? "Understood," she says, and practically gives a rebel yell.
They reach the appropriate system. The subspace damage makes warp impossible, Tom reports. Tuvok and Kim track the source of subspace distortions to a small M-class (inhabitable) moon within visual range.
Janeway orders it placed on screen. What they see is an unfriendly-looking planetoid with an unfriendly-looking cloud confined to a particular part of the globe.
"There is a subnucleonic reaction occurring in the upper atmosphere emanating from a structure on the moon's surface," Tuvok reports. Janeway asks for a surface image...and soon gets one.
And probably wishes she hadn't. A massive crater, with fault lines snaking out in every direction, greets them. It's hard to imagine anything surviving a blast like that.
"Over 300,000 square kilometers...Destroyed," says Kim.
Janeway asks for a scan for Omega particles, but Tuvok says there are still some semi-intact shielded areas of the installation, so he's not sure.
Kim, detects a few dozen life signs in the area. Janeway asks if they can transport, which Harry says they can, but warns her about the radiation levels.
Janeway makes her decision. "Tuvok...Assemble a rescue team and have them report to Sickbay for Arithrazine inoculations. Tell the Doctor to prepare for casualties. Tom, move Voyager into a high orbit, and then join the away team. We'll need a field medic."
Paris may hate medical duties generally, but he's never balked at them in a crisis. "Yes, ma'am," he says without hesitation.
Chakotay seems to know what's next. "You're going with them?"
"If Omega's still down there, I have to find it. I'll keep an open comlink with the ship. You have the bridge."
After seeing the explosion from space, it's hard to believe there would be anything left. But as we see inside the installation itself, apparently these aliens had done some stuff right. There may be a lot of dead people and busted equipment around, but a few of those bodies are moaning and struggling to move when Janeway and Tuvok arrive, with a couple of other medics. (Maybe Paris is getting some help in Sickbay after all.) The crewmen rush to the aid of some of the moaning aliens.
"I'm picking up omega's resonance frequency," says Janeway to Tuvok. "It's here, but I can't pinpoint a location."
She walks over to one of the aliens, who seems capable of talking. "I need to ask you questions about the experiments you've been conducting here," she says to him.
"There was...an accident," the alien moans. "We lost containment."
"The substance you were trying to create--did any of it survive the explosion?" Janeway asks, and he says Yes. She asks where, and he points. "Inside the primary test chamber. Who are you?"
Janeway looks down at him. "Captain Janeway of the Starship Voyager. We're here to help you." She hails the ship and orders the man and another wounded-but-moving alien beamed to sickbay.
Janeway joins Tuvok at the test chamber. He's scanning a wall, and says it's made of duritanium--durable stuff--and the locks are fused with the doorframe. "We will need to cut through it with phasers." Janeway orders it done.
"Captain...I'd be negligent if I didn't point out we are about to violate the Prime Directive."
Under other circumstances, Janeway would probably enjoy saying what comes next. But she doesn't. "For the duration of this mission the Prime Directive is rescinded. Let's get this over with."
Cargo Bay Two is busier than usual. Lots of crewmen are working at their duties like their ability to get home is at stake--and like their new boss would be keeping them hopping even if it weren't.
A guy in yellow, carrying a toolcase, approaches Seven of Nine. She takes note of him. "Crewman Dell, I'm assigning you a task more suited to your abilities. Calibrate the ionic-pressure seals on the observation ports. Your new designation is Three of Ten."
If he has any qualms about being renamed, he doesn't show it. "Yes, ma'am."
Harry's working elsewhere when Neelix arrives. "I've got more isolinear processors for you to install," he says.
"Thanks," says Harry, "but I need to get the power relays on-line first."
"Are you sure that's a good idea? Ensign Wildman was assigned to that." She's nowhere to be seen.
"This is ridiculous," Harry says. "I'm not going to waste time just because Seven wants to turn this team into her own private Collective." Ooh, Harry's getting uppity these days....
"She says it's more efficient," Neelix points out.
"Maybe for a bunch of drones," Kim sneers.
Speak of the devil...Seven arrives, and notes the divergence from her instructions. "Six of Ten," she tells Kim, "this is not your assignment."
Harry chafes. "Please, stop calling me that."
Seven doesn't waste time arguing. "You are compromising our productivity. I am reassigning you to chamber maintenance. Your new designation is Two of Ten."
Harry laughs. "Wait a minute. You're demoting me? Since when do the Borg pull rank?"
"A Starfleet protocol I adapted. I find it most useful," Seven says. She may not laugh, but her eyes dance.
Second belly-laugh of the day...
"I'm glad you're not the Captain," Harry says, smirking.
Chakotay enters. "How's it coming?" he asks Seven.
"The crew can be quite efficient, when properly organized. The chamber will be completed in an hour."
Chakotay smiles. "I'll let the Captain know."
She asks about data from the surface; not yet, Chakotay says. She asks about survivors; he says they have a few in Sickbay.
A nice, efficient report. There is some benefit to the Borg Way...
Chakotay turns to leave, but Kim catches him near the door. "Commander...Seven's taking this 'hive mentality' just a little too far. Designated functions, numbered drones...I wouldn't be surprised if she started plugging us into alcoves."
Chakotay stares down the ensign. "When in the Collective, Harry...Adapt."
Well, at least they've all got their sense of humor operating at peak efficiency...
Chakotay takes off; Harry puts his hands on his hips, offending every Tak Tak in visual range.
Doc tends to a half-dozen charred and moaning aliens. Seven enters. "Which of them is the senior researcher?" she asks without preamble.
"This gentleman," Doc says, pointing to a bed on the far side of the Sickbay. "Why do you ask?"
"He has knowledge I require," she says.
"He also happens to be barely conscious. Come back in an hour."
"Unavoidable." Unbelievable. "This is my Sickbay. The man needs to recover." Doc returns to his PADD.
"The Captain left me in charge of our efforts on Voyager. I would be negligent if I ignored a new source of information." Seven notes Doc's determination--then ignores it. She walks toward the alien.
Doc intercepts her smoothly, stepping into her (efficient) route to the bed. They stare at each other, then Doc finally blinks. He sighs in resignation. "Our next social skills seminar is entitled 'adding diplomatic flair to future negotiations.' " He lets her proceed, but he checks on the patient first, asking how he's doing (better) and whether he feels up for some questions (yes). "Keep it brief," he tells Seven.
"How many of the molecules were you able to synthesize?" Seven asks.
"200 million? I'm not certain."
Seven's amazement is palpable, but she suppresses it. "What is the iso-frequency of your containment field?"
"1.68 terahertz We used the molecule's own resonance to calculate the field." Good idea, thinks Seven; sorry we didn't assimilate someone who thought of that. "That should've been enough to stabilize them," she says. He chuckles bitterly; "Obviously it wasn't."
"Obviously, but your approach is innovative. Perhaps I can adapt your technique and improve upon it. You will assist me."
"Our equipment was destroyed. If you can transfer the molecules to your ship...Maybe they can be saved."
Oops. This had to come up eventually. Seven doesn't mince words. "I have no intention of saving them." The alien is astounded. "My orders are to destroy the Omega molecules," she explains.
"This is my life's work...The salvation of my people!" he protests, and ignores her repeated request for assistance. "Our resources are nearly gone. The future of my people depends on this discovery!"
"Then your answer is no."
"Small-minded creatures," he spits, furious and frightened at the thought of the already-extensive damage being finished off by alien fiat. "You destroy whatever you don't understand!" He says rescue ships are on the way, and will stop them.
Doc notices the alien's agitation and comes over. "Please, try to be calm. Seven, you'll have to leave."
"You don't realize what you're doing!" the alien pleads. "You don't know what this is...what this means..."
Seven looks more shaken than we're used to seeing her. "On the contrary," she says, eyes haunted. "I understand perfectly." Her voice cracks a little at that last part. She exits Sickbay as Doc tends to the injured man.
* * *
The sunburst pattern on the charred surface of the moon, with the brilliant glowing blue eternal flame at the epicenter, is a dang cool visual.
Inside the test chamber, Tuvok tells Janeway the locking mechanism is bypassed. Janeway orders them to cut through with phasers, but Tuvok points out that the thing they're trying to get to--the thing that blew up real good already--might not take well to phaser fire.
"Then we'll have to use some elbow grease," says Janeway. "Give me a hand."
Need we point out that Vulcans are, on average, ten times stronger than humans? It's like an alley cat inviting a panther to "help me eat this here canary."
But she's the captain, and captains have as much moxie as Vulcans have strength. She leads the way, and Tuvok joins in. Soon, the way is clear.
They find themselves staring at a blue inferno. It's breathtakingly beautiful; it's easy to see why Seven would be so enamored of the stuff. But its destructive potential is in evidence all around them. "There's enough here to wipe out subspace across half the quadrant," Janeway breathes.
"I'll order the away teams back to Voyager and target this facility with the gravimetric charge," Tuvok says.
"It won't be enough," Janeway says, wonder in her voice. "We'll have to go with our Borg option." She calls over an Ensign, who seals his fate in a future episode by speaking, even if it just Yes, Captain. But he may be okay, since it was spoken off-camera. "Return to the ship," she tells him. "Tell Commander Chakotay to help Seven complete the harmonic chamber." He nods and exits.
"We'll have to transport Omega directly to the ship," Janeway tells Tuvok. "That means finding a way to shut down this containment field."
"It's unfortunate we can't study this phenomenon in more detail," confesses Tuvok. "We may not have the opportunity again."
"Let's hope we never do," whispers Janeway, glowing blue as she stares into the chamber.
"A curious statement from a woman of science," Tuvok observes.
"I'm also a woman who occasionally knows when to quit."
Third belly-laugh. At least she was self-aware enough to insert "occasionally."
"Take another look at your tricorder," she says, and he does so. "Omega's too dangerous. I won't risk half the quadrant to satisfy our curiosity. It's arrogant and it's irresponsible."
This, from the captain who has "arrogant and irresponsible" in big gold letters on her business cards?
"The final frontier has some boundaries that shouldn't be crossed...And we're looking at one."
I'm not saying I disagree. I'm just saying it's uncharacteristic. But I guess, since the consequences are worse than death--it would mean they'd be stuck here, warpless, forever, if they survived at all--perhaps it's not entirely uncharacteristic. Prime Directive can be rescinded; Talos IV can be made a pit stop; the Omega Directive itself can be made malleable to suit her circumstances...but if it means they might not get home, forget it.
Seven's team has done a bang-up job. The Big Glowing Blue Ball of Science now resides in Cargo Bay Two, primed and ready to go.
Chakotay has just relayed the captain's orders to Seven. But she has new information, which she shares now, excitement in her usually calm voice. "We don't need to destroy the molecules. I believe I've found a way to stabilize them. The alien in Sickbay calibrated his containment field using Omega's own resonance--an approach unknown to the Borg. I've modified the chamber--"
"Those weren't your orders," Chakotay says tersely, cutting her off. "The Captain wants Omega eliminated."
Seven bristles. "That is still an option...if she insists on yielding to her fear."
He sighs. "Show me what you've done."
"This simulation shows the molecules in their free state, highly unstable. I've modified the chamber to emit a harmonic wave form that will dampen the molecules."
"Looks great in theory, but this is only a simulation. How are you going to test it?"
"Bad idea," Chakotay says. "One mistake and no one will be around for a second try."
"It. Will. Work."
"Someday, maybe. Hang on to your research. For now, we stick to the plan. Stand by to transport the molecules into this chamber and neutralize them as ordered."
Seven's lower lip trembles. Her voice breaks. "I have been a member of this crew for nine months. In all of that time I have never made a personal request." She takes a heaving breath. "I am making one now. Allow me to proceed."
He doesn't respond. "Please," she adds, and means it with all her heart.
Chakotay takes note of her intensity. "Why is this so important to you?"
Seven sighs. "Particle zero-one-zero...The Borg designation for what you call Omega. Every drone is aware of its existence. We were instructed to assimilate it at all costs. "It is..."
Seven turns her face away from the Commander, and her eyes rest on the simulation of the molecules in an organized state. "Perfection. The molecules exist in a flawless state--infinite parts functioning as one."
"Like the Borg," Chakotay says.
"Precisely. I am no longer Borg, but I still need to understand that perfection. Without it, my existence will never be complete."
She swallows. "Commander, you are a spiritual man." He agrees. "If you had this chance to see your God, your Great Spirit--what would you do?"
Serious question, serious response. "I'd pursue it. With all my heart."
Her eyes bore into him. "Then you understand."
He nods. "I think I do." His voice gets a bit more official. "I'll inform the Captain of your discovery. For now, her orders stand."
"Thank you," she whispers. He nods and exits.
On the surface, Janeway finalizes the preparations to beam out Omega. As a last-chance backup, she's got the big-bang torpedo locked and loaded in case something goes wrong with the transport.
Chakotay hails her; two ships are screaming toward them, and they're not in a chatty mood. They're four minutes out. Janeway says it's time to transport those molecules.
Chakotay relays the message to Seven, who (understandably) recommends against rushing things. Chakotay says that's not an option, so she recommends they get within 5,000 klicks of the surface--which Paris recommends against, since they'd have to go in without shields, which would likely burn them up within seconds. But he knows they have no other choice, so Chakotay doesn't bother arguing with him; he simply says to get it right the first time. "Take us in." Paris complies instantly.
Kim's got the transporters locked on target. Janeway's got the pattern enhancers humming. Paris points out that they're burning up at only 11,000k up, but they keep going in.
At 9000, Harry says the ship is breaking up--it's as unstable as the molecule.
Good a time as any. "We're close enough," Janeway says. "Energize."
Seven reports a second later that the molecule is nestled snugly in the Big Blue Ball. Harry reports that the away team is also safely onboard. Chakotay orders them to hightail it away at maximum impulse, which Paris had anticipated.
Several impossible things accomplished, Chakotay asks about the sixth. "How far are those ships?"
"They're right on our tail."
Mustn't make things too easy on the intrepid crew, right?
* * *
Voyager is closely followed by two alien vessels, but they do not fire.
On the bridge, Chakotay and Janeway stand behind Paris at helm. Chakotay reports that they're moving into a part of space that's as safe (read: uninhabited) as any they're likely to find. They should be able to take care of Omega without too much environmental impact. Not a spotted owl in sight.
The ships behind them are a worry. They'll catch up before Voyager can go to warp, 15 minutes or so from now.
"We have one advantage," Janeway points out. "We've got Omega. They won't risk firing at us until they're out of options. That should give us a chance to neutralize the molecules."
"We might have another problem," Chakotay, the usual bearer of bad news where Seven is concerned, says.
"Seven of Nine?" Janeway guesses.
"She's convinced she can stabilize Omega," Chakotay says.
"I thought we'd settled that question," Janeway says, frustrated.
"She showed me a pretty convincing simulation of how it could be done," Chakotay says, hoping maybe she'll listen.
"I should've known she wouldn't just let this go," Janeway mumbles. "I'll be in Cargo Bay Two."
Janeway enters the cargo bay. "Seven, the procedure?"
"It's working. 11% of the molecules have been neutralized."
"Let's see if we can speed up the process," Janeway says.
Seven hesitates. "Did Commander Chakotay tell you about my idea?" Janeway nods. "Then you will allow me to stabilize the remaining molecules." It's almost a question.
"You know I can't," Janeway says.
"Your Starfleet directive is no longer relevant. I have found a way to control Omega," Seven says earnestly.
"I don't care if you can make it sing and dance! We're getting rid of it."
Seven grits her teeth. "A foolish decision."
"Yes, but it's mine to make. Now, step aside."
Seven doesn't. "I could've done this without your permission, but I chose to follow your command structure. I should've made the attempt. I still can."
Janeway meets her gaze. "But you won't. You know I'm not trying to stop you from finding perfection, but I can't risk the safety of this quadrant. Omega must end here. We both know that."
Seven hesitates, then steps aside. She walks to the chamber to monitor as Janeway takes over the controls. Janeway asks for a new status; "18%," Seven reports. Janeway snorts in frustration. "This could take hours. Can you increase the harmonic resonance?"
"Yes--but it would rupture the chamber," Seven says.
"How many molecules would we neutralize?" asks Janeway, as if that's a minor detail.
"40, 50% at best," Seven says.
"That's good enough," says Janeway. "Our torpedo can take care of the rest." She hails the bridge and tells Chakotay to prepare to open Cargo Bay Two into space. (Poor Seven; they seem to decompress her quarters a lot...) She tells Tuvok to fire the gravimetric torpedo as soon as the Big Blue Ball is an available target. They acknowledge, and Janeway signs off.
She looks at Seven. "Harmonic resonance to maximum."
What was that she was saying a few scenes back about arrogant and irresponsible?
The alien ships try to put a tractor on Voyager. They finally hail the ship. Chakotay takes the call.
"Disengage your engines and prepare to be boarded," an alien like those in Sickbay says. Chakotay says that's not possible. The alien gets mad. "You've stolen our technology, abducted our people!"
"Your people are safe," Chakotay assures the man. "They're receiving medical care. I'll be glad to get them back to you when this is over. But we're keeping the molecules."
"I won't allow this substance to fall into enemy hands! I'll destroy it first."
Now, here's where a little communication would come in handy. That's exactly what Voyager intends to do, so why not say? But he doesn't. Ah well; gotta keep things interesting, I suppose.
"They're charging weapons," Chakotay hears. He yells at the alien, "You'll destabilize the molecules; we'll both be destroyed!"
"Then return our technology...now!"
"I'm sorry," Chakotay says. "That's not possible."
When words fail...the ships start firing on Voyager. The shield strength weakens. Chakotay tells Paris to whip out some of that fancy flying of his.
In Cargo Bay Two, Janeway's directives are taking shape. Seven reports that the harmonic resonance is at maximum, and 20% of the molecules have been destroyed. Janeway says they need to kill another 20%.
The floor shakes. "Any damage to our power grid could overload the chamber," Seven reports, worried. "Omega would chain-react."
"The same thought crossed my mind," Janeway says. "Where are we now?"
"72%," says Seven. "That's close enough," says Janeway. She taps her combadge. "Bridge, start the decompression sequence."
The chamber starts beeping; Janeway demands to know what's happening.
Seven, shock in her voice, reports that the molecules are stabilizing...on their own.
"What?" Janeway demands.
"I've done nothing. It's occurring spontaneously."
"That's impossible!" Janeway says, but Seven peers into the chamber--and can see it happening.
The computer announces the countdown from 30 seconds, in five second intervals.
Janeway orders Seven to get out of the cargo bay before decompression, but Seven stares in rapt attention. The molecules align, as Seven's eyes go wide.
By the time Janeway finally grabs Seven's arm to get her attention, she has had several seconds to peer into the face of Perfection.
They make it out less than ten seconds before the cargo bay doors lock down.
"Are we clear of the subspace ruptures?" Chakotay asks. Not quite yet. "I need maximum warp within ten seconds or we'll be at ground zero," Chakotay tells Paris. He nods grimly.
Tuvok reports that the harmonic chamber has been jettisoned.
A torpedo hurtles between the two alien ships before they know what's going on. It detonates behind them in a planet-killing apocalypse. (Actually, it looked pretty wimpy; the two alien ships don't even look singed, though they do tumble a bit.)
Voyager's warp engines come online, and they zip away just in time.
Paris breathes a sigh of relief. "We made it. We're at warp one." (Didn't Chakotay order maximum warp?)
Janeway and Seven arrive on the bridge and asks for a report. The alien ships aren't in pursuit. She looks to Tuvok, who reports no traces of Omega molecules.
"Mission accomplished," she says, feeling the weight of immense responsibility lifting from her shoulders. She crashes down into her captain's chair, while Seven looks pensive.
Captain's log, Stardate 51793.4: we've arranged for our guests in Sickbay to be taken back to their home world and we can finally put this mission behind us. This will be my last encrypted log concerning the Omega directive. The classified data files will now be destroyed.
Seven of Nine stares up at a crucifix in a familiar darkened room.
Janeway enters. "I wondered who was running my program. Master da Vinci doesn't like visitors after midnight." Ah. That explains it. The only light in the room comes from candles and a fireplace.
Seven turns her gaze to the captain. "He protested. I deactivated him."
Janeway sighs. "What're you doing here, Seven?" she asks, some frustration mixed with concern in her voice.
"This simulation contains many religious components. I was studying them to help me understand what I saw in Cargo Bay Two."
Janeway nods. "The data wasn't clear on why Omega stabilized in the last few seconds. But chances are it was simply a chaotic anomaly, nothing more."
Seven trembles. "For 3.2 seconds..." her voice chokes with emotion. "I saw perfection!"
She takes a deep breath. "When Omega stabilized, I felt a curious sensation. As I was watching it, it seemed to be watching me."
She sits next to the captain by the fireplace. "The Borg have assimilated many species with mythologies to explain such moments of clarity. I've always dismissed them as trivial."
It's not often you hear this from Seven. "Perhaps I was wrong."
These are the moments Janeway lives for--to be present when a crewman undergoes a major life-changing experience, and she can be there to share it and to put it into some sort of perspective.
"If I didn't know you better," Janeway says, beaming, "I'd say you just had your first spiritual
Lisa Klink is either #1 or #2 on my list of favorite Voyager writers. Her take on the characters, her talent for amusing dialog and emotionally compelling situations, has combined to produce some of the most consistently enjoyable episodes I can name.
This week is no exception; her script includes several very funny moments (most of them intentional) that remain nicely true to the characters. Seven of Nine (who, granted, has had a lot more screen time than many fans would like) shines this week, in both good moments and bad. She's still prickly, still authoritative ("commodore without portfolio," someone put it), still infuriating at times...but she's also vulnerable, awed, plaintive, and contemplative. Janeway exhibits many of the traits we're used to seeing from her--but she's toned down a notch or two, enough to make a difference when other folks gave her compelling reasons to change her current course, but not so much that we wonder who spiked her coffee with Zoloft.
Elsewhere: Chakotay got to be both a strong first officer, and a big meany--sometimes as a job requirement, sometimes just for the heck of it. But he was also sensitive when he had to be. Harry was all over the map, with good scenes with Seven (nice to see him sniping back at her for a change--it beats the one-sided ensign abuse we saw too often), Tuvok, Chakotay, and Neelix.
Torres' disappearance halfway through the episode was covered reasonably well. (I can't say with any authority, but my guess is that Roxann Dawson went into labor the week this was filmed. That she had any screen time at all that close to delivery is impressive. I imagine she won't be a big presence in the next episode or two, if we see her at all.) Paris' 24-hour Slacker's Flu from last week seems to have resolved itself; he was an integral and competent, if minor, part of the week's crisis.
We got some clarifications. Seven doesn't know everything about all those species the Borg assimilated, just the stuff the Collective thought would be useful. That's still enough to make her very, very bright indeed, and modesty is a small price to pay. Just a little maladjusted socially--which would probably be rough for even a non-assimilated human that smart. (Just look at Wes Crusher.) She's presented here as the ultimate agnostic--she scoffs "creation myths," no matter how based in scientific theory they may be. Even Janeway's little corner of science-centered faith in the Way Things Are is treated with cold, clinical skepticism by Seven.
About the Element, and Janeway's solution.
This element turns out there is something even the Borg have no choice but to give appropriate respect to. Call it what you will--Omega, Element 010, or BOOM--the name doesn't matter, but its properties can be appreciated by anyone who knows enough to duck when it gets out of your control.
This element has some particularly intriguing properties. It is a mystery even at episode's end.
One complaint--and I guess it's as major or minor as you feel it is. Omega is the sort of MacGuffin that on TNG, Picard would likely have found a way to communicate with. (Did, in fact, with a similarly mysterious element in the first season "Home Soil.") Picard was the type to question whether such directives were just--and if he decided they were not, he found a way to set things right. Kirk often did that for other societies--but only Picard dared to look at the Federation itself. I didn't always agree with him, but he was consistent, and his principles were beyond reproach.
Janeway--far more like Kirk than Picard. I like Kirk a lot, and he is still in many respects the standard against which all the other captains are judged. But Picard does provide a strong alternative perspective. The question is, in Janeway's position, which is the better course? Kirk frequently faced gigantic single-celled organisms and planet killers and gaseous clouds and lights of Zetar and who knows what else...they were on their five year mission, they were essentially all alone. Their decisions geared more toward survival--they were the first line of defense against Nature as well as of Klingons and Romulans and whatever else. Picard had the luxury of a far more settled quadrant, more resources at his disposal, better technology, and a completely different mind set. Janeway's situation is more like Kirk's than Picard's, though, so the choice for survival--while often the ugly choice--is also often the best.
But...is it Trek? There's the rub. Good SF is one thing. Good drama is one thing. Trek has a certain set of rules--doesn't it? In Trek, mere survival isn't supposed to be sufficient; winning well, succeeding by doing the right thing--that has been the Trek way in TOS and TNG.
What that meant, though, seemed to evolve from TOS to TNG days. The series often represent the age they live in. There has been a common thread of hope and optimism for the future, though these were often maintained at high cost. In TOS, war was often averted or halted by godlike beings (Organians, Metrons); in TNG, treaties were often less than perfect, and the cause of later problems (the Cardassian treaty, the Treaty of Algeron), or by godlike beings (Q).
Voyager doesn't get that kind of good fortune for the most part. Is that a good thing? Surviving on one's wits isn't easy; surviving without that legendary Starfleet Luck is nigh impossible.
Here we have a case of the most powerful element known to exist. If Voyager can harness it--what then? What can they do with it? Assuming they can bend it to their will--given how many times the ship gets taken over in a season, how much more tempting a target, how much more dangerous a situation, is it if such an energy source fell into the wrong hands? Keeping the element, clearly, is not an option. It does pose a clear and present danger to subspace, and Picard knew well and firsthand the dangers of subspace damage. Voyager's very drive system is testament to that concern. So destroying Omega is a very TOS thing to do. It's preserving the galaxy against a natural phenomenon.
Communicating with the element could have been an option--the TNG solution. Seven seemed to, however briefly. It wasn't as structured as Data jacking in and relaying demands. The nature of it was unexplained. There is a belief, echoed in Star Trek, that matter and energy and thought are interconnected. Matter and intelligence, almost beyond understanding, even to a Borg with the capacity to synthesize all known data on it. Could a molecule that complex be sentient, in its way? If communication were possible, what would we say? What would it say?
What if they didn't get along? What if those subspace explosions were the molecules' way of saying, "sorry Prometheus, but this fire stays out of this peoples' hands. They'd misuse it."
We have questions. But sometimes we don't know enough to even know what to asks. Seven wanted to assimilate Perfection. Even the brief span of it she got was life-altering.
It achieved Perfection on its own. It responded to Seven's yearning. It did not bend to her will or the manipulations of her harmonic doohicky; it made the choice. The infinite number of monkeys simultaneously got in touch with the same Muse.
It's a kind of...magic.
They know more now than they did before the Omega Directive kicked in. But among this new knowledge is an increased appreciation for how little they know. More questions. Individual impressions.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Some find it in science. Some in theology. Some in philosophy. Some in the infinite complexity of pi. Some find it in fiction, others in art or architecture or in myriad other ways. Many find it not at all. Call it Heaven or Enlightenment or the Final Frontier or Truth or Meaning or Perfection or Peace or Home or a better tomorrow, people are looking for something greater than themselves. Even Borg, whose theology is centered in the Collective. The Collective grants immortality. Perfection is out there, and we seek to join with it that we may partake of it. As Janeway points out, this quest could be fact...or it could be faith.
Faith is not monopolized by theology. Belief and hope in a true thing, in the absence of proof, is faith. Farmers plant in the hope of the harvest--is it a guarantee? Hardly. Floods, drought, fire, infestations, labor strikes, theft, death, taxes, busted equipment, fluctuating market prices, variable yields--a million things could happen, and have happened. It takes faith to farm, even if the faith is in something imperfect. Seven's faith was in something "perfect", and whatever the situation was, we saw her faith rewarded. That, to me, is a Trek Moment. In the midst of crisis, a good thing happens to someone.
This episode was packed with religious symbolism. Holy Grail references. Outright references to spirituality. Pondering a medieval crucifix. I normally worry about this, because Trek doesn't have the greatest track record of sensitively portraying religious beliefs, but this episode moved me.
I couldn't help notice it aired shortly after Easter, just as "Mortal Coil" aired just before Christmas. I think it's safe to say that I liked this episode a whole lot better than the other.
Janeway and Seven's relationship has changed a bit lately--it's still intense, but more respectful. Seven doesn't act as wilfully as before; her instincts may still be running strong, but she's learning to rein them in when given an order. Particularly given the intensity of her belief in the molecule, her obedience to orders she disagreed with is a mark of maturity she didn't possess a month ago. Her differences with Janeway were resolved with words, not acts.
Janeway's adherence to The Omega Directive was not slavish. She adapted to meet unforseen circumstances. Where necessary, she accepted (unsolicited) advice from Chakotay, Tuvok, and Seven--a malleability we too rarely see from her. Some part of me hoped for the Picard Solution -- they contact it, and it goes away without having to be destroyed, protecting us Mere Mortals from ourselves. But perhaps, knowing its destructive potential, its willingness (assuming it has a will) to be destroyed is a tacit nod to the wisdom of Voyager's crew and its resident Borg.
Here's a thought. The species in this episode, and the Borg years before, and the Federation a hundred years ago, all sought to manipulate it--to make more of it, to harness it. They were all destroyed. Seven simply wanted to commune with it--and she succeeded.
Seven's "mini-collective" was a bit silly, and if she already knew everyone's names the new designations are more likely to sap rather than enhance efficiency. But it was moderately amusing, particularly when Harry got demoted, and Chakotay updated the old "when in Rome" bit to fit the occasion.
Ah well. I quite liked this one. Good performances overall, with particular nods to Jeri Ryan. The characters were well-drawn, and the interactions compelling. The concept and imagery was thought-provoking, if perhaps overplayed a bit. The Omega Directive is disturbing, but understandable, though one can hope that Picard might get his chance to chat with Omega one of these days and get to the bottom of things.
On the four star scale? Four stars. Gimme more of that.
Next Week: Chakotay breaks J/C hearts with Virginia Madsen.