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 deliberatly 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.
Janeway buys big guns from an annoying twit who may--or may not--have violated Seven of Nine.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
A ship blows the snot out of a very thick hunk of metal in space. Actually, it blows a hole in the thing, leaving a very large ring.
Break out the 3-D Doritos, sports fans--that's entertainment.
Onboard Voyager, Janeway stands next to an alien Kenneth Branaugh impersonator. (You know he's an alien because he's essentially human--with a seriously funky nose. Imagine taking a #2 pencil, ramming it up your right nostril and straight up into your forehead, lodged between the epidermis and the skull. Then, remove four dime-sized patches of skin from the bridge of the nose to the hairline so the pencil is visible.)
The alien's got a bad attitude to boot. (Well, I'd be prickly too if I had a pencil rammed up my nose.)
"The target buoy is solid monotanium," the alien explains to Janeway. "Ten meters thick, shielded by a chromoelectric force field." Monotanium...isn't that the stuff the Hirogen build their Hunter ships with?
"Impressive," says Janeway, whose eyes are lit up like Soy Bomb's on Grammy night.
"I'm glad you agree. It's not wise to travel this region without adequate defenses." The alien's voice turns harsh, mocking. "I've seen scuttled ships with more firepower than Voyager."
Laddie....you wouldn't mind...rephrasin' that...would ye?
Janeway gives the cocky little puke a sidelong glare, but manages to take the mockery of Federation's Finest weapons technology in stride. "I'm sure you have," she says drily, then makes stealthy gagging gestures while the man's back is turned, to the delighted, muffled titters of the bridge crew. The alien is too full of himself to notice.
Chakotay, seated behind the captain and the arms merchant, does his best to keep quiet. He, like the rest of the audience, wonders why the heck the negotiations are taking place on the bridge. Some offended member of Mama's Family may be tempted to shoot the little weenie on general principle. ("Scuttle this, Pencil Boy! [WHAP]")
The alien continues. "Imagine what you'll be capable of once the isokinetic cannon is integrated into your defensive systems. One projectile can penetrate the shields of any heavily-armored vessel. Hostile species will know to avoid Voyager by reputation alone."
Ooh Yeah....it's about time they dusted off and polished up that ol' Ship o' Death reputation....
Janeway interrupts her guest before he yammers on further. "You've made your point, Mr. Kovin. I want the cannon." She doesn't ask about the hand-held model just yet. "And I'm prepared to give you..." she looks over her shoulder at Chakotay, who moves his head meaningfully from left to right, then holds the pose, giving Janeway time to pull something out of her hat. "Twenty-three dollars in junk jewelry."
Kovin looks at her.
"Inside joke. How about...Astrometrics charts spanning 12 sectors. You'll find them unusually precise."
Kovin points out that with one of his handy-dandy death cannons, he can make those maps obsolete. But, he says, the technology that can produce such a map would interest him. Janeway says that the technology in question is hardware-specific, and wouldn't work anywhere but Voyager, and then only after Service Pak 3 has been installed. But, she says, heading for the Big Chair and lounging in it regally, "what I can offer you is a generous supply of isolinear processing chips. We'll even show you how to integrate them into your existing sensor technology."
This interests Kovin. A brief haggling session ensues, and they ultimately split the difference and settle on 125 chips. Janeway smiles and waves her hand dismissively, telling someone to take Kovin to Engineering. A very large security boy complies. She tosses in another five chips for Kovin to see to the installation himself, and he compliments her on maintaining the fine intergalactic haggling tradition.
"That guy is worse than a Ferengi!" says Paris as soon as it's safe to talk about Kovin behind his back.
Janeway smiles at Chakotay, satisfied with the deal. "Assign Seven of Nine to work on this. She's got a knack for adapting alien technology."
"Should I give her complete access to the engineering control systems?" Chakotay asks.
"I'm ready to give her some latitude. She's been behaving herself lately," Janeway says.
Hmm. I'd say things have been prickly between Captain and Borg since "Prey"....
Chakotay enters Astrometrics, and finds Seven of Nine--busy at work, all alone, as usual. Unexpectedly, the huge screen is dark.
Seven notices Chakotay's entrance, but quickly averts her eyes. (Have you noticed we rarely see these two together? They got off to a shaky start in "Scorpion," and you rarely see the two anywhere near each other. The last time I can recall them being alone together is the opening of "Day of Honor." They were briefly hooked into the Collective together...I wonder if that explains anything? Anyway...back to the show.)
"What are you working on?" he asks pleasantly.
"I'm trying to decode the message Starfleet Command sent us several weeks ago," Seven says--more softly than expected. Almost shy, in fact.
"Any progress?" Chakotay asks, interest piqued.
"None," she admits quietly. "I'm working on a new decryption algorithm."
"I'd like you to set it aside for a while," Chakotay says. "I have another assignment for you. The captain wants you to help Kovin integrate the new weapon system."
If Seven was interested in a new assignment, the name Kovin dampens her enthusiasm. "I'd rather not," she says almost too brusquely, moving from one console to another across the room. "I find him--inefficient."
"You seem to work well with him," Chakotay notes. "You've been asking for more responsibilities. I thought you'd be pleased."
"The captain gives me greater liberty only when she needs my expertise," Seven says, the lack of obvious emotion in her voice betrayed by the look in her eyes--bitterness, resentment.
Trouble in Paradise...
"You violated her trust," Chakotay says, firmly but not unkindly. Everyone on board knows the drill--let the captain save the ship and nobody gets hurt. Save the ship behind her back, and you're stuck in the Borghouse. "And if you want it back, you're going to have to earn it--one step at a time."
Seven drums her fingers on the console for a few seconds--a rare human gesture. Then she makes her decision, taps the controls a few times to save her work, then stands at attention. "I will report to engineering," she says, walking past the commander without further comment.
Chakotay looks after her. Apparently he's been given the job of Good Cop in the "Let's Learn the Borg Girl Some Manners" school of uppity child-rearing.
Seven, Torres, and Kovin stare at a wall panel. Kovin points to parts of the ship schematic as he speaks. "You'll need to install tech buffer circuits here and here."
"The main power relay should be protected by a containment field," Seven says.
"Unnecessary," snaps Kovin, showing he's as annoying an engineer as he is a negotiator. "All the buffer circuits would have to fail simultaneously for there to be any danger."
Torres says they prefer to play it safe, and with a well-suppressed snicker escapes to check on the availability of a field generator, leaving Kovin and Seven alone.
Seven moves across the room and begins tapping controls at a console low enough to the floor to accommodate an Oompa Loompa.
Kovin strides over and stands directly over her shoulder, violating her personal space in a major way. Seven winces, but says nothing.
"What are you doing?" he demands.
"I'm reconfiguring the tactical control systems," Seven says.
Kovin looks irritated. Apparently he feels only he knows what he's doing. "The isokinetic circuits requires a specialized protocol. Let me take care of it," he says in his best hate-me-because-I'm-pushy voice.
"That won't be necessary," insists Seven, trying to ignore him.
A few seconds later Kovin begins to whine in earnest. "No, no! The subroutines need to be arranged in cascading sequence!"
Someone hurt this man, please.
"Let me show you," Kovin says, and shoves Seven out of the way in a manner that screams "sexual harassment lawsuit." I mean, there's plenty of ways to shove someone rudely aside--put your hands on the controls and take a willful step thataway, stiff-armed hand on shoulder, step in front of them, etc. This guy manages to put both hands all over Seven in an effort to get her out of the way.
A look of rage takes over Seven of Nine's face. She rears back and rams the pencil even farther up the little puke's face. He flies off his feet and lands flat on his pompous little hiney, tears rolling down his cheeks and blood trickling from his nose.
Lt. Carey suffers a spontaneous nosebleed. Must be a flashback.
You go, girl.
The security guy runs over and restrains Seven, whose face is contorted in a rare display of anger. Lt. Torres rushes in and grabs another of Seven's arms, shouting Seven, No!; the ex-Borg looks ready to get Shao Lin on Kovin's derriere.
Kovin, wisely, lies there and bleeds.
Now, granted--I wanted to deliver an upward stiff-arm to the dude's nostrils about twenty seconds into the episode. But the last person I expected to administer it was the famously unflappable Seven of Nine.
* * *
It's crowded in Sickbay. Doc tends to Kovin's pre-splinted proboscis while Janeway paces like a tigress ready to spring. The trying-hard-not-to-smirk Torres is here as a witness to the event.
No sign of Seven. I imagine Janeway's made her take a Time Out on a nacelle for the time being.
Doc reports that Seven inflicted a hairline fracture--which Kovin blusters into "she shattered it." Doc assures the man it's easily repaired.
"Do you have any idea why Seven attacked you?" asks Janeway.
"It was unprovoked. She came at me like an animal!" Kovin whines.
Torres' eyes dance. "Oh, I wouldn't put it like that. I was at another console about ten meters away. I heard Kovin raise his voice and when I looked around I saw that he was holding her arm." (Actually, as I recall, she was out of the room entirely. But what do I know.)
"I barely touched her!" Kovin protests (poppycock, sez I--I haven't gotten that far on a date), while Doc gives Janeway an impatient stare until she stops violating Kovin's space long enough to take her place. "A gentle gesture to move her out of my way so I could get to the console. Then she turned on me--attacked me!" He thrusts his hand in the direction of Janeway's face; she ducks before the careless gesture adds to Doc's workload.
In retrospect, Seven should have straight-armed his larynx. At least Doc could have patched Pencil Boy up in silence....
"What did you say to her?" Janeway asks.
"I told her how to reconfigure the tactical control systems properly."
"Is that all?"
"--And that's when she knocked him down," Torres offers helpfully, smiling. "Ashmore and I had to hold her back."
"She would have killed me!" Kovin wails, still gesticulating wildly. "That woman is dangerous!"
Doc grabs Kovin's face in his holographic vice-grip, clamping his mouth shut in the process. Doc has been brusque with patients before, but you get the sense that he's being a little more forceful than he needs to be. "It's a miracle you survived," Doc deadpans through clenched teeth. "Now hold still or this won't heal properly."
"Why are you questioning me on this?" Kovin demands. "You should be disciplining your crew member!"
Janeway's voice drops dangerously low. Her eyes dart back and forth. Black clouds hang over her head. Black cats walk on cracks under ladders on deck 13, shattering mirrors with carelessly tossed salt shakers. The omens are not good. "Believe me," she says, "I'll deal with it."
Janeway's voice gets slightly more accommodating. "Please accept my sincere apology. Now, if you'll excuse me...." she leaves. Torres stays behind and continues to laugh at Kovin behind his back.
Doc pronounces Kovin's nose "Good as new." He puts his instruments away while Kovin gingerly touches his nose, looking for something new to complain about.
Janeway reads a PADD at her desk in her ready room.
The door chimes; the captain unlocks it with a word. Seven enters, striding in silently, stopping a few feet from the desk. She clasps her hands behind her back and waits wordlessly for the captain to speak.
Dang, it's chilly in there. The steam over Janeway's coffee cup begins to crystalize and snow back down into the pungent brew.
Janeway slaps the PADD on her knees a couple of times, then tosses it on her desk. She lets her arms rest on the chair's arm rests. (Appropriate, I suppose.)
Seven stares impassively at her.
Janeway throws up her hands in resignation. "Here we are again...." she says; her eyes look glazed over. "Oh, I'm tired of having this conversation! You know what I'm going to say. I know how you're going to respond--so it seems pointless to say anything!"
Seven's eyes move to a position about three inches over Janeway's head. "Shall I consider my privileges restricted and confine myself to the cargo bay?" she asks, knowing this to be Mama Kate's standard postscript to the "you've let me down" speech.
Can't we all just get along?
Janeway says they both know that the traditional methods of discipline tried so far--six months of laissez-faire parenting followed by a single hectic day of lectures, morality tales, direct orders, confining to quarters and restricting of access to systems it took Wesley years to be allowed to touch when she dared to save the ship without the captain's permission--have not worked.
"The question is--what will?"
"Are you asking for my opinion?" Seven asks, surprised.
"I suppose I am," Janeway concedes after a moment's thought, "because frankly I'm running out of options." She begins pacing the room. "Throwing you in the brig isn't going to solve anything; neither is slapping you on the wrist." (She ignores the hooted "A Spanking! A Spanking!" from the Castle Anthrax crowd.) The captain admits that she understands Seven's reaction; she felt like slapping Kovin around a few times herself. "But you have to learn the difference between having an impulse and acting on it. Does that make any sense to you?"
"I--believe so," Seven says after a brief pause. "I will give it more thought."
Janeway sighs. "Well--that's a start."
"I hear there was some excitement this morning," Doc says cheerily as he picks up a medical tricorder.
He walks toward Seven, still smiling. "When I started helping you improve your social skills, I'm fairly certain I didn't include a boxing lesson." He begins scanning her, and notes she seems a bit skittish when he gets too close to her. "You weren't hurt, were you?" He asks, all business.
Seven says No, but her voice is barely above a whisper. Something is definitely bothering her. Whenever one of Doc's blinking instruments gets a little too close to the periphery of her vision, she recoils a bit, as though it's going to hurt her.
"Still a bit tense?" Doc asks. Perhaps, she admits, her voice tiny, almost frightened.
Doc gives her an odd but reassuring speech how less excellent creatures than them can find their patience tried by the likes of Mr. Kovin. "Of course I generally respond with a devastating quip rather than a left hook." (Man--does everyone onboard want to take a shot at Pencil Boy?)
"We must both accept the fact that very few life forms will ever meet our high standards...when you get irritated, just try to be tolerant, and remember--they can't help being what they are."
What the HECK is Doc talking about? Sounds like what the female Changeling said to Odo just before the Dominion lost DS9 to a bald-headed Solid named Sisko...have you been messing with your program again, Docster?
Doc completes his scans and finds some chemical oddities and "heightened engramatic activity" (brain working overtime), consistent with heightened stress. He tells Seven to lie down so he can run further tests. "In a typical human I'd consider this a mood swing. But with your unique physiology I'd like to rule out the possibility of a chemical imbalance."
Seven lies down on the diagnostic bed. As the table's chest-level wings rise up to close over her in a medical arch, she experiences a flash of deja vu --another large thingy clamping down over her, locking her into place on a table of some sort--and begins hyperventilating.
As Doc runs his scans he asks questions about headaches, etc. Seven, clearly agitated, answers him, though she is fidgeting around like the diagnostic bed is on fire. When Doc runs an instrument close to her head to examine her Borg implants, she experiences another flash of imagery--a gun-like instrument being aimed at her eye implant--and she turns her head away in panic. "Let me out!" she begs, sounding nauseous, slapping the restraining arch above her. Doc complies immediately, and Seven is on her feet and backing away from the table before the wings have retracted completely.
She begs Doc to stay away, making warding-off gestures with her hands as she backs away like a frightened child. "No more procedures. You mustn't do this!" Her voice is plaintive.
"Do what?" Doc asks, concerned. "Seven, what are you so afraid of?"
Seven begins to calm down a little. She tries to analyze her behavior with her usual dispassion. "I don't know," she finally admits.
Doc briefs Janeway in sickbay about Seven's symptoms--intense apprehension, dizziness, shortness of breath, acute anxiety, etc. He suggests he's found evidence of memory suppression. He shows her the medical evidence on a wall screen--an image of Seven's skull with several hot spots on the hippocampus, whatever that means. The upshot is, those "biogenic anines" which he hasn't seen before today are blocking portions of her memory center--and they're starting to dissipate. "Seven's unusual behavior may be the result of the blocked memories beginning to surface. Memories which she can't identify yet."
Janeway asks if he can treat her. "Treatment would involve integrating the repressed memories into Seven's consciousness," Doc explains. "I may be able to use a standard therapeutic regression technique."
He sounds proud of himself, and Janeway picks up on it. "I wasn't aware that you were programmed with psychotherapeutic capabilities," she says.
"I wasn't--but in the absence of a ship's counselor I've been developing a psychiatric subroutine to add to my program. I'll be even more valuable to you than I am now," he preens.
Janeway smiles--Doc may be smug, but he's also good at his job, and the new addition to his programming sounds quite useful indeed. She asks him to keep her informed, and leaves Seven to his capable hands.
In Cargo Bay Two, Doc tells Seven about the comparative psychotherapeutic strategies of Jung of Earth and Amanin of Betazed for retrieving suppressed memories, then explains that he's combining them into the Doc of the Delta Quadrant method. They're here in an environment comfortable to Seven--her regeneration alcove--where she can feel more at ease. "Once the cortical probes have reinforced the neural pathways I'll use a directed imagery technique to guide you through the regression."
Seven takes a deep breath. "You may proceed."
"Close your eyes," Doc commands soothingly. "Clear your mind, try not to think or to analyze." His voice bears a distinctly hypnotic lilt and cadence.
Seven opens them an instant later. "My mind is now clear."
Doc shakes his head. "Seven, this isn't an exercise in efficiency," he says in the same sing-song voice. "Close your eyes, breathe deeply, now concentrate on the sound of my voice. let go of the present, leave the cargo bay behind, allow yourself to driffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff
Sorry. Nap attack. Rewind.
Seven closes her eyes and reaches the desired state. Doc asks her to describe the first image that enters her mind.
"A medical tricorder," Seven sees, than says. Then she gives its exact physical dimensions, to the first decimal place. Before she gets too far into cataloguing its feature set, Doc halts that line of thinking. "So--you're in Sickbay. How does the tricorder make you feel?"
Seven sees Doc's hand nearing her left temple in a vision, and she winces. "It disturbs me. I'm afraid it will hurt me."
Doc asks if anything else is there that she's afraid will cause her pain. "The diagnostic bed." She sees herself lying down, as the wings begin to rise. "It's closing around me."
You feel restrained, says Doc--confined. "Yes. I am uneasy." About what? asks Doc.
Seven looks around in her vision--she is no longer on the bed, but standing in Sickbay. A familiar Shakespearian presence enters, stage left. "It's Kovin." He looks menacing.
The scene changes. Seven seems to be in Sickbay still, but it's different. Kovin is still here, though, grabbing her hand and clamping it into place on a flat surface. Another of Kovin's species (an Entharan) is on another diagnostic bed, reaching out to her. He looks equally distressed.
"He's restraining me," she says. "I want to get away from him but I can't."
She sees the gun-like instrument again. "Kovin's using some kind of instrument on me." He lowers it toward her ocular implant.
We return to the here and now. "I didn't recall this before," Seven says, shocked. "Kovin--he...he performed a surgical procedure on me. He extracted Borg technology from my body."
Seven looks stricken. "He violated me."
* * *
"We're making progress," Doc says, and begins helping her deconstruct the first snippets of vision.
He asks when the surgical procedure happened. Seven shakes her head. "The details are vague; there are only images."
"And you're sure it was Kovin?" Seven doesn't answer. "Did you see Kovin?" After a hesitation, Seven answers Yes.
"You said he was restraining you; using an instrument of some sort." Yes, she says.
"Were you on Voyager when this happened?" Doc asks. Seven says she believes it occurred when she was helping test weapons on the surface of the Entharan colony world where Kovin's arms dealership is located.
"Then concentrate on that away mission. Focus on the first image that enters your mind." Seven does so. "Describe it for me," Doc says. "A large granitic stone. Approximately one-half meter high," Seven says.
"Now allow that memory to develop beyond the image. Integrate it into your consciousness. Let the memory take shape..."
The RepressedMemoryCam takes over as Seven narrates.
"I'm at the weapons range. Kovin had taken us there to evaluate various hand-held firearms he wished to offer in trade. He attempted to impress us with a demonstration of the weapons' destructive capabilities. My role was to provide a more objective analysis."
We see Seven and Kovin, along with Lt. Paris and a bald Entharan, Kovin's assistant. Paris is wielding a clumsy looking weapon with an acrylic blue base. But it has plenty of juice; a half dozen bursts of white hot destruction spit effortlessly from the weapon, making short work of a large piece of solid rock not far away.
Imagine holding a terawatt power pack in your hands, wielding a weapon that can kick hiney ten kilometers away. This is the advertised promise of the latest boomstick Paris is test-firing.
"72% fragmentation, 28% vaporization," Seven says after scanning what's left of the target. "Crude, but efficient."
"Not as accurate as our compression rifles, but it's a lot easier to handle," says Paris. He's got to be kidding--it would be easier to take aim with a carburetor. From what I've seen, I'd take Betsy any day for ease of handling. But this new beastie does pack a wallop. "I wouldn't mind carrying one of these against the Hirogen," Paris admits.
Seven points out that a little tweaking of the targeting sensors could improve accuracy by a good 24%. Kovin, seeming more pleasant in the memory for some reason, offers to make that adjustment on the spot, and invites her to inspect the changes personally. Seven accepts. Paris stays behind to play with more big guns and hose rocks for a little comparison frying.
Seven continues her narration. She and Kovin went into his weapons development lab, or so she guesses. She and Kovin discuss the nature of the weapons--they're thoron based. She doesn't trust that form of energy, but Kovin says he's got a handle on it, and mentions something technical. "Here, I'll show you," he says, adjusting the weapon...
Then he aims it at her.
"What are you doing?" Seven remembers asking.
Kovin just stands there with the weapon pointed in her general direction.
Then it goes off.
"He fired?" Doc asks. Seven says that's what she remembers. Go on, Doc says.
When Seven awoke, she was being laid down on a table of some sort, and Kovin was restraining her. She saw an Entharan female assisting him, and a third native who was restrained as she was.
Long story short: through a painful procedure, they stimulated her Borgstuff to regenerate her assimilation tubules in her hand, then harvested nanoprobes from her through the tubules--which they then used to assimilate the restrained man.
They knew she was a Borg, she discovers in her surfacing memory...
Leave it to an arms merchant to grok the commercial possibilities of Borg technology.
Seven says that the next thing she remembers, she was back in Kovin's lab with no memory of what just happened. Kovin was apologizing; the gun just sorta went off. Her hand was burned; she asked for a dermal regenerator.
She has been skittish in his presence ever since.
"I'll inform the captain," Doc says soberly, and exits--leaving Seven with her newfound thoughts.
Doc reports to Janeway and Tuvok in the briefing room. Paris is here as well, since he was on the surface with Seven and Kovin.
Doc, concluding his briefing, says there is no doubt in his oh-so-superior mind that Seven "was the victim of a brutal assault." Janeway asks how she's doing; Doc says she's regenerating in her alcove, but her emotional scars will take a lot longer to heal. "I certainly hope you're going to hold Kovin responsible for what he's done!" Doc says with more heat than usual.
Janeway insists on a little thing called "corroborating evidence" before they hang Kovin, though. She asks Paris how long Seven and Kovin were out of his sight; "at least two hours," Paris replies, adding that she hadn't suggested on her return that anything unusual had happened--just that they'd finished work on the rifle. "She seemed fine," Paris says.
Doc concludes that Kovin used some artificial means to suppress her memory of the event, which he detected after she freaked out in Sickbay.
Janeway asks if he found any physical evidence of the medical procedures Seven described.
"No," Doc admits.
Uh oh. Plot complication.
Doc smoothly recovers by saying he expects Kovin used some of the extra nanoprobes to repair Seven's injuries--"Seven distinctly remembers him extracting them."
Tuvok notes that Doc is accepting Seven's recovered memories as fact. "Are you suggesting otherwise?" Doc asks. "Historically," says Tuvok, "recovered memories have often proven unreliable."
Why do I have the sudden urge to leap into a fallout shelter? This is a fairly controversial issue in the 1990s, with loud and passionate voices on both sides....do they really want to take sides on this issue?
Doc says that those other recovered memories were more likely to be unreliable, because they'd been suppressed for years. "But we're dealing with a very recent memory, which was blocked by artificial means; once I took that mechanism down, Seven's memories returned!"
"Human memory is rarely perfect," Tuvok notes. Paris asks Tuvok if he thinks Seven is making this up; Tuvok says no, "but she has experienced hallucinatory images before." ("Raven")
Doc points out that those hallucinations were a response to signals from the ship where she was assimilated. He points out that everything he's seen so far is "not conjecture, it's science!" He is adamant about his trust in Seven's memories--perhaps a little bit too adamant.
"Let's not get bogged down," Janeway says, ending the debate for the moment. "Seven has made serious accusations and I won't dismiss them." She points out the security dangers if the story is true--a single rogue nanoprobe could spell disaster in the wrong hands. In short, this matter needs to be cleared up, pronto. She tells Doc to continue searching for physical evidence of Seven's claims, while she talks with Kovin.
Mollified, Doc exits.
"This is offensive and absurd!" Kovin says, looking nauseous. He begins pacing around Janeway's ready room. "She's obviously lying!"
"Why would she do that?" Janeway asks calmly.
Kovin offers a possibility. First Seven attacks him; then she invents a story to make him look bad. "Is this some kind of negotiating tactic?" he demands.
Kovin's not an easy guy to like, is he?
Janeway says she's just trying to get to the bottom of things. He repeats that they had gone to his lab to adjust the weapon. "And that took two hours?" Janeway asks skeptically. "She demanded absolute precision," Kovin says heatedly. Janeway's unspoken look is clear--That's Our Seven.
Janeway points out that Seven was exposed to an intense thoron burst (the energy source of the weapon); Kovin says Duh; the power cells discharged accidentally, and they reported it immediately.
Janeway says Seven now remembers that he fired it at her on purpose. "Preposterous!" Kovin insists.
Janeway says the Doc thinks the burst was enough to render Seven unconscious, but Kovin says it didn't--they were both startled for a moment, then she asked for a dermal regenerator which he used on her arm--"the one with the mechanical implants," he says.
Janeway points out that they were Borg implants; Kovin says he knew it was Borg, because Seven told him herself. Janeway asks if he was curious about the implants, or made any attempt to examine them more closely--and to his denials, asks if he honestly gave no thought to the technological or weapons value of such things--hard to believe any arms dealer would be that honest and still be good at what he does.
"Is that what you think I've done?" Kovin asks, voice far softer than a moment before. He looks shocked by the very thought, the very image of innocence.
Janeway stands and tells him that he may not realize just how dangerous those Borg nanoprobes can be. "If you've taken even a single nanoprobe, I need to know about it." Kovin insists he hasn't taken anything.
Janeway's voice takes on a formal tone. "I'd like to examine your laboratory to be absolutely sure."
Kovin sets his jaw--almost. It trembles from righteous indignation. "No. This has already gone too far."
"Then I'll have to contact the authorities," Janeway says. "Maybe they'll be more helpful."
"Are you willing to risk our trade agreement all on the basis of one crew member's delusions?" Kovin says, a mix of threat and pitiful plea.
"Yes," says Janeway in a voice of velvet-lined steel. "Now--are you willing to cooperate with our investigation?"
"I don't seem to have much choice," Kovin says--then turns away from the captain, biting his lower lip.
So...who do you believe?
* * *
Tuvok questions Kovin about the rifle explosion. Kovin is a hostile witness, to say the least. Tuvok asks for more details; Kovin says he made a simple, careless mistake--he'd made that adjustment successfully many times before.
"How many times do I need to apologize?" he demands, protesting too much. "I am not seeking a statement of remorse," Tuvok says.
"Then what do you want? Are you trying to catch me in a lie? Trick me into confessing? You can't, because there's nothing for me to confess! I haven't done anything wrong!" He's clearly exercised now. And though he's still punch-worthy, he's also acting more like an innocent pissed-off jerk than a guilty pissed-off jerk.
"One of our crew members claims that you have," Tuvok says.
Kovin's demeanor changes; his angry denials cede to resigned frustrations. He tells Tuvok that Seven's very fortunate; she has a whole crew leaping to her defense. "I have no one." Tuvok points out that an Entharan representative will be here soon, but Kovin scoffs. "The magistrate? He's more interested in maintaining good diplomatic relations with people like you." He says the last words as though they have been fried in motor oil and served lukewarm with a frothy pint of phlegm.
Tuvok assures Kovin that all they're seeking is the truth. Kovin, agitation increasing, explains that on his world even being accused of a crime is a serious violation of their trade protocols; if it gets even that far, he's ruined. "Please," Kovin begs. "I never hurt your crew member. Don't do this."
Tuvok says he hasn't got that choice--though he assures Kovin that they will be absolutely fair and impartial in their investigation.
Kovin considers this. "You strike me as a man of your word. If you tell me I won't be prejudged, then I believe you."
He exits, leaving Tuvok to resume his investigation. We know Tuvok can keep his promise not to personally prejudge.
Doc, on the other hand, I'm not so sure about.
Doc tries to get Seven to discuss her feelings while he examines her. Seven, though, is still not in touch with her emotions--mostly by choice. Emotions are complicated, unpleasant things for the most part. Doc insists that she needs to deal with them. Seven wants to know why.
"In order to heal!" Doc says. "Kovin attacked you--violated your rights as an individual. It's important that you recognize that so you can understand any hostility or resentment you might be feeling!"
TILT TILT TILT TILT
"Resentment is a human trait," says Seven. "It has no structure, no function--I want no part of it."
You go, girl.
"You're going to have to begin accepting the fact that your feelings exist, and that suppressing them can damage you!" says Doc. Well, that's true enough.
Seven considers this. She seems to pass the first hurdle--wanting to not be damaged, even by pesky feelings. But now what? "If I am not aware of these feelings, how can I express them?"
Doc presses his case. He walks toward her. "Let me ask you this. What would have happened had Kovin tried to take Borg technology directly from the Collective?" He stands behind Seven, speaks almost seductively into her ear, violates her personal space in a big way.
Like her Internal Devil on her shoulder, urging her to the Dark Side. (But where's her Inner Bear?)
"He would have been assimilated," says Seven, stating the obvious.
"Precisely. Which is why he chose you. He could get what he wanted without running any risks."
Seven doesn't like the sound of that. "It was my individuality which made me vulnerable."
"Exactly! He violated that individuality! What he did was an affront to everything you are--Borg and Human!" Doc's on a roll now. What's gotten into him, anyway--Al Sharpton?
Seven's lip curls. "It was the act of a coward!"
"Yes! Someone who was willing to use you in the cruelest way so that he could create new weapons--and sell them!"
Vast Entharan military-industrial conspiracy...Maybe Doc's being played by Sidney Blumenthal....
"I believe I'm beginning to experience anger," says Seven, who looks angry. "Anger toward Kovin!"
Mama Kate would be so proud--Baby's First Skunk Eye.
Doc seems pleased. "Good! That's a perfectly healthy, normal response."
"And when Kovin gets what he deserves," Doc continues, "you're going to feel much better!"
I got a bad feeling about this....
Doc, Tuvok, Kovin and an elderly gentleman we presume is the magistrate enter Kovin's weapon's lab.
Tuvok and Seven do all the scanning work; Kovin is there to answer questions when asked. The magistrate is there to decide whether to open an official inquiry.
They note that there are no bed-like things in here--just tables. They ask if there is a larger facility; Kovin says what they see is the whole installation. Doc asks, suspicion in his voice, that they make sure to check for recent modifications to the room. Tuvok acknowledges impassively, and Kovin fidgets.
Doc finds the instruments Seven said were used on her. Kovin says they were in this room, and they did use those instruments while she was there--but they used it on the weapon that went off accidentally, not on her. Doc's voice is accusatory at virtually all times, and Kovin grows increasingly agitated. Doc seems to be enjoying Kovin's distress. Doc points to the gun-like thingy and asks if this could be used to stimulate nanoprobe production. Kovin haughtily says he could modify Doc's combadge to do that--"what's your point?" Doc smirks. "I think you just made it." Kovin simpers.
Tuvok finds a number of Borg nanoprobes on one table's surface. "I'll just collect a sample," Doc says. (Huh?!?!? Janeway said even ONE dang nanoprobe was too many to let anyone have; it was too dangerous in the wrong hands. Why is he not gathering them all? Danger, Will Robinson!)
Apparently, that part of the room is swimming with nanoprobes. Kovin points out that her skin broke when the gun discharged, and Tuvok confirms that the dispersal pattern matches that. (Of course, if he shot her deliberately, you could expect the same thing.)
Doc scans the nanoprobe sample he took--and notes that the nanoprobes are active, recently regenerated rather than dormant as they should be.
The magistrate tells Kovin he's seen enough evidence to open an official inquiry.
Kovin freaks, grabs a weapon, points it at them, complains that he'd been promised an impartial investigation but they're all seeing only what they want to see (which in Doc's case is certainly true)....and he beams away in a golden sparkle.
Tuvok hails Janeway and reports Kovin's flight. Kim picks up a transporter signature. Paris picks up a ship making tracks. Janeway asks the magistrate if he'd like them to pursue Kovin; the magistrate says yes, "but I'd like to join you." Janeway tells Doc and Tuvok to prepare for liftoff as well.
But first--sweep up those nanoprobes!
Voyager closes on Kovin's vessel, a whitish space vehicle with letters in an alien script. The magistrate tells Chakotay they words read "Phord Brankoh" (an Entharan leisure activity similar to golf. Apparently Kovin was into stress-relief in a big way. Understandable.)
Just as they're about to lay down a tractor beam, the ship belches something white hot and expanding--and Voyager loses all sensors. Ensign Kim says they'll have to re-initialize the whole thing--and that will take time.
"Looks like this has become a manhunt," Janeway says, plopping into the Big Chair.
"The fact that he's running suggests he's got something to hide," says Chakotay. "We can't afford to let him go."
* * *
Captain's log, Stardate 51679.4. We've detected the warp signature from Kovin's ship and are in pursuit. In the meantime, we're examining the tools from Kovin's lab.
Janeway and Tuvok are rapidly reaching the same conclusion--the evidence before them does not conclusively prove Kovin's guilt. It's downright ambiguous, in fact. Yes, Seven's "cellular residue" is all over most of the items, "but that would be true if she simply handled them." The evidence does support Doc's theory--but only to a point, and no better than Kovin's claims.
"I'm getting a bad feeling about this, Tuvok. We aren't finding anything that implicates Kovin."
"I told him our investigation would be impartial," Tuvok says. "I believe it has been."
"It has--but I'll admit I had some preconceptions about him. They may have influenced my judgment." Sounds like Janeway's already distancing herself from Seven's allegations.
Janeway says the strongest evidence so far is the batch of regenerated nanoprobes the Doc found. Tuvok points out that they still don't know much about Borg physiology--he suggests they simulate another rifle blast and see what effect it has on otherwise dormant nanoprobes on Seven's skin.
Janeway likes that idea.
Doc demands to know if this procedure is strictly necessary. "She's suffered enough trauma already," he says archly. Long past being merely Seven's doctor, he's now her spokesperson as well.
"We don't want to make accusations against an innocent man," Janeway says. "We have to do everything we can to find some concrete evidence."
Seven doesn't consider Kovin an Innocent Man. "I know what he did to me."
Tuvok says they need proof. And, with this experiment, he hopes they'll have some. He explains that the hypospray he holds will simulate a thoron energy burst, then will grab a few layers of tissue--they can examine the nanoprobes in the affected area. He assures Seven it won't hurt.
"I'm not afraid; I am angry," Seven says.
"I know," says Janeway almost kindly. "Try to be patient; we may have some answers soon."
Tuvok takes the sample and hands it to Janeway, who begins examining the evidence. Doc takes a protective position next to Seven, reassuring her with a look.
Janeway takes a good, long look into the high-tech microscope thingy. When she pulls away, she tells Doc he'd better take a look. Doc comes over--and Janeway gives Seven a Skunk Eye. Seven glares back.
Doc looks at the newest evidence--and is a changed man when he stands upright again. All the wind has been taken from his sails. "The nanoprobes...are regenerating. In exactly the same pattern we saw in Kovin's lab." Upshot: it supports Kovin's claims as well as Seven's. Perhaps more so; there's still no conclusive proof of Seven's accusation, so the edge goes to Kovin.
If the probe don't fit, you must acquit.
Seven Stands Alone. Tuvok and Janeway and Doc all stand on the other side of the room, looking at her.
"It doesn't matter; Kovin is guilty!" Seven says, voice low but intense--Doc said so.
Janeway tells Seven that she is 100% certain that Seven believes what she is saying. But she asks Seven to consider the possibility that her recovered memories are either not accurate, or inaccurately interpreted. Seven asks how that could be possible. Janeway suggests one possible explanation could be Yet Another Post-Traumatic Borg Memory--her own assimilation, the assimilation of others she witnessed--like what happened in "Raven," only different. "Could that be what you're remembering?"
Seven turns to Doc, begs him to tell her that's not right--that's not the way it happened.
Doc swallows hard. When he chooses a side, he chooses it all the way. When he abandons a line of thinking, he does so completely. "Everything led me to believe that you were a victim--your extreme response to Kovin in engineering, your irrational fear when I examined you. Something prompted that behavior--and I believed it was a repressed memory of your ordeal with Kovin."
"That is what it was," Seven says.
But Doc says that if he looks at everything impartially, he must admit that there are things he cannot explain satisfactorily--he doesn't know enough about her physiology to say where those memories came from, etc. And it boils down to this, he says: the data validates Kovin's story--not hers.
Seven looks at Doc, shocked at his sudden betrayal. "You're the one who helped me to understand what happened--and now you're denying it!"
Janeway assures Seven that nobody is abandoning her, "but we have to do what's right! We have to find Kovin and tell him what we've learned!"
Seven is not mollified. "The Doctor told me I would feel better when Kovin gets what he deserves!"
Janeway looks over her shoulder at Doc. He flinches--as well he should.
"I want him to be punished!" Seven says, voice filled with pain. "I won't settle for anything less." She exits Sickbay, leaving Doc to silently suffer the combined dirty looks of Janeway and Tuvok.
* * *
Voyager catches up with Kovin's ship. They hail him, but he looks ready to put up a fight.
And you just don't want to mess with an arms dealer who compared your defensive capabilities--unfavorably, I might add--to derelict vessels.
Janeway--then Tuvok--then Doc--then the Magistrate--all yell at Kovin that they've found new evidence that supports his version of the events. They're here to ask him to come back so his good (if annoying) name can be cleared.
Kovin is shaking. He's sweating. He's looking anything but rational; he's had a few hours to contemplate the ruination of his career. He's willing to defend it against just about everything right now...
Including his own common sense.
Kovin fires at them. Photonic pulses which wipe out their shield strength, then their main power, in short order. (How much for that handy-dandy bit of high-tech?)
The magistrate urges Janeway to put up some sort of defense, but she'll have none of it. "Evasive maneuvers," she says. Paris does his best to comply.
They continue to get pounded.
But if Kovin is unstable--so is his ship. Janeway tells Harry to try to transport him off his vessel before things get really nasty. Harry says Kovin's got a scattering field up, and he can't punch through.
Janeway tries one last time to talk Kovin down.
As if. What's the frequency, Kovin?
And fries himself and his ship in the process.
Janeway looks to Harry to see if he got anything before Kovin's self-inflicted Viking funeral.
I must admit, I was expecting Harry to announce that he managed to recover a life sign...a Borg, just like Seven saw in Kovin's lab, proving her right all along.
But this is not to be. Harry shakes his head. There was nothing to lock onto but barbecue and charred pencils.
The Magistrate tells Janeway she'd done all she could--more, he doesn't say, than he was comfortable with. It's clear from the look on his face that he would have appreciated a little self-defense.
Janeway gives the Magistrate a stern look--which she then directs to Doc, who takes the brunt of it stoically, because he knows Kovin went foom because of him. Janeway holds the gaze long enough to make the whole room uncomfortable.
Janeway stands down Red Alert and orders a course back to the Entharan planet. As she walks back to her chair she sees Seven, staring back at her.
They lock eyes. Both of their expressions are enigmatic, at best. Seven doesn't quite seem to know how to react. There is a hint of satisfaction in her gaze--but there is something else as well.
Chief medical officer's log, Stardate 51658.2 [sic]. I have spent the past three days being cross-examined by the Entharan authorities. But the matter is finally resolved. [unspoken, from the closed captioning:"I wish I could day the same about my own state of mind."]
[Question--what was the goldang resolution? Did Kovin do something untoward with Seven's mechanical innards or not? Inquiring minds wanna know.]
Seven arrives in Sickbay, interrupting Doc, who is lost in thought. She's here for her weekly checkup.
Doc kicks into automatic and does the typical five point inspection--a good deal more swiftly than usual. Only her blood pressure is slightly off, but within tolerance levels. "You're in perfect health," he says with dismissive cheeriness. "See you next week."
I noticed that during the entire examination, Doc barely looked at her, and deliberately avoided eye contact.
Seven isn't ready to go so soon. "I do not feel perfect," she says uneasily.
"What do you mean?" Doc asks, still not looking at her.
"I am...preoccupied by Kovin's death," she admits.
"Join the club," Doc says, finally looking at her--they both need someone to talk to. "It's all I can think about." That standard-issue Doc self-assuredness is nowhere in evidence--it's been shaken to its foundation by this latest incident.
"As a Borg," Seven says, "I was responsible for the destruction of countless millions--and I felt nothing. But now...I regret the destruction of this single being."
"It's called remorse, Seven. It comes into play when you make a mistake, and you feel guilt about what you've done." He smiles weakly. "Another new emotion for you to experience."
Question--what mistake did Seven make? We still haven't established where those memories came from, or what they really mean. As far as I'm concerned, she's still a victim in all this, not a perpetrator. Doc should feel remorse--he's the one who egged Seven on.
"I don't enjoy this remorse any more than I enjoyed anger." She asks for the doctor's diagnosis. "Will the feeling subside?"
Doc smiles sadly. "Yes. But not quickly."
"I would rather not have to wait," says Seven sincerely.
"I'm afraid you don't have much choice," Doc confesses. It takes as long as it takes.
Seven considers this. Finally, she nods, then exits.
Doc considers what he just said. "But maybe I do...."
In the Captain's ready room, Doc hands Janeway a PADD.
"I've isolated the algorithms responsible for my desire to expand beyond my original programming," he says earnestly. "I want to delete them."
Janeway stares at him, stunned. "Why?"
The weight of the week's events rest uncomfortably on him. "It was my--urge to experiment, my infatuation with improving myself--which led to this tragedy. I fancied myself a psychologist, a ship's counselor. But I wasn't prepared for the complexities that come with such a responsibility."
He gives Janeway a pleading look. "In my enthusiasm to help Seven of Nine I lost my medical objectivity--I became a self-righteous advocate. I didn't stop to think for one second that I might be wrong."
He swallows hard. "That mustn't happen again."
Janeway may agree with the sentiment--but not with the solution. "You want to go back to the state you were in when we first activated you?"
Doc--who only last week was gloating about how he would be celebrated on their return to the alpha quadrant for going where no EMH had gone before--no longer seems to feel that way. "I'll still be capable of treating any and all medical conditions--but without the risk of overstepping my bounds. It's for the best, Captain." His voice is soft but urgent. He clearly doesn't want to lose who he has become, but his original programming--and the imperative to First, Do No Harm, still means most to him.
"Oh, I'm not so sure," Janeway says kindly. "This crew has benefitted greatly from your improvements over the years. Request denied," she says. The last two words are uttered in the most gorgeous Irish lilt. "I won't turn back the clock because of one mistake--no matter how serious--and no matter how you might feel."
Doc turns his gaze away from the captain. "I'm a physician. I'm supposed to preserve life, not destroy it! I--can't live with the thought that I might do it again."
Janeway smiles compassionately. "With any luck--that knowledge will prevent it from happening again."
Apparently the recent events have been bothering her as well. "We all rallied around Seven, Doctor. Myself included. I wanted her to know she was part of this family--that we would support her, fight for her no matter what."
She sighs. "We let our good intentions blind us. We all bear responsibility for Kovin's death--and we all have to live with it. But to delete that burden should be the last thing any of us should do."
She returns the PADD. He takes it wordlessly, anxious at the thought of having to live with this remorse after all--and exits.
Janeway leans back on the edge of her desk--and sighs.
I think it's safe to call this a Very Special Episode of Voyager.
Not to mention Very Controversial.
Suffice to say that any depiction of using recovered memories to accuse someone of a crime is virtually guaranteed to upset some people, no matter how it turns out. It can make for good drama, but it takes a deft touch to avoid disaster.
"Retrospect" is strong on many levels, but is only a partial success at walking that fine line.
Agree or disagree with the repressed memory aspect of the episode, judging the whole by this element alone would be a shame. Because taken as a whole, this is a fairly strong, moving hour of television. There are no easy answers about Seven's accusation--but the consequences of it are fairly straightforward. Because whether Kovin was ultimately found innocent or guilty, nothing he was accused of merited his death.
This episode is chiefly, but at first subtly, about Doc. You know before he even examines Seven of Nine that something is different about him this week. They showed us before telling us that he has been altering his program again. Doc's introduction to psychology makes sense--but it also raises warning flags. Just the fact that he's mucking with his inner working at the code level, rather than by simple experience, was enough to bring back ugly "Darkling" memories. He's a doctor, not a developer.
Even so, this week is different. Rather than overplaying the difference, he seems more or less in character; the changes are subtle. If he were merely human we'd say that he lost perspective, and got a little too involved in his patient's case--unfortunate, but hardly unprecedented. I'm sure we've all had friends who for the best of intentions egged us on in directions that later turned out badly.
And perhaps from time to time, we've been that friend.
That was the point of Janeway's speech to Doc--they all rallied behind Seven to some degree, so they all share the guilt for Kovin's death. None of them are going to forget this incident easily, nor should they--remorse is an effective learning tool.
And thus the point of the episode. Doc tries to recover Seven's repressed memories in an effort to help her heal. He was doing his job as best he knew how. But as he says, he was in over his head--good counseling isn't science. Ironically, when he finds himself shouldering a painful memory from this suppressed-memory case, his first impulse is to suppress it. It's too much, he believes, for him to bear. He's willing to lobotomize himself, and to permanently inhibit his character growth, in an effort to avoid making further mistakes.
If only it were that easy.
He must be hurting. But it's an interesting dilemma, unique to the Doc--only he has the capacity to literally expunge unpleasant memories from his life, to rewrite aspects of himself he wishes he could change. How many of us would dearly love that sort of power over ourselves? And yet, how hard would it be to use it responsibly? How many of us would truly be better off if we could recode ourselves at will--and how many of us would reprogram ourselves into oblivion?
Living with the consequences of our choices is intended to be difficult. Even in the 24th century, some injuries take time to heal. If the pain left in an instant, how much could we truly learn from it?
"Retrospect" refers to many things this hour: looking back on suppressed memories. Considering what they mean. Acting on them. Then looking back on where those actions led. Doc wanted to take away his ability to see things in the past tense. We can remember who he was four years ago, how stunted a character that Doc was. He wanted to be turned on in a medical emergency, allowed to perform the necessary tasks efficiently, then be turned off when the crisis passed. Not very pleasant, not very deep--and not very interesting. Even his quips weren't as good. Janeway wisely pointed out that the risk of making future mistakes is more than balanced out by the benefit of his growth as a sentient being.
Remember that rather overplayed conversation between Janeway and Seven early in the episode? Step into the WayBack Machine with me...
Janeway says they both know that the traditional methods of discipline Janeway has tried so far haven't worked. "But what will?"
Seven: "Are you asking my opinion?"
Janeway: "You have to learn the difference between having an impulse and acting on it. Does that make any sense to you?"
Seven: "I believe so. I will give it more thought."
Janeway: "Well, it's a start."
Okay, we're back.
This unpleasant exchange was prompted by the previous week's events. Janeway, trying to teach Seven of Nine about the finer points of enlightened compassion, ignores the simple fact that Seven of Nine spent the last six months just learning to value her own existence as an individual rather than as a disposable drone. Seven's self-awareness is yet in its infancy, and she's still mostly reactive to situations. Asking/ordering her to show compassion for the only true enemy her Borg self ever knew was doomed to failure. Janeway's own story the week before, where as a Lieutenant she thought her commander was crazy when he ordered her to rescue a wounded Cardassian, shows how difficult the concept is even to such paragons of Federation virtue as Starfleet officers.
As life-changing as this episode is for Seven, I sincerely doubt that the events in "Prey" would have changed at all had they occurred after "Retrospect" instead of before. Seven's remorse over the death of Kovin does not automatically lead to concern over the life or death of a sworn enemy, especially when her own life was at stake. What Seven learns this week is a good step toward grasping her humanity, but in "Prey" Janeway was demanding a leap of faith of Olympic triple-jump proportions. Confinement to quarters is far preferable to death by explosive decompression. Janeway has been trying to teach Seven of Nine to fly; Seven's just starting to crawl in earnest. She is still far too dependent on her environment; she would not survive long on her own.
But if she can ever reach that point, this episode is a good early step toward it.
We know something is bothering Seven--something medically verifiable--and Kovin seems to be the focus of her irritation. We see by the mere mention of his name that she doesn't like him. When the two are in the same room we can tell there's something about him that gives her the screamin' willies. When he provides a nice excuse for retaliation, she takes it.
I think it's safe to say that if Torres had been the one to knock Kovin senseless, Janeway wouldn't have even bothered investigating. This becomes a big deal because "Unruly Seven of Nine" did it. If the crew does rally around Seven, however briefly, that was by no means their first inclination. The captain's first reaction was, "there she goes again..." She never asked why Seven hit Kovin--she just assumed Seven was in the wrong and didn't want to discuss it; she was more concerned about what to do with her. In her own way, Seven is as isolated as Kovin is. She doesn't have the benefit of the doubt onboard Voyager.
At first, the only person really listening to Seven is Doc. He notices the first signs of distress, and takes up the cause of helping her. Because of his new programming, he goes about it a little too earnestly, but compared to the deafening silence from Janeway and Tuvok at first, a little outspoken advocacy may not have been a bad thing at first.
Where Doc made a fatal error was in making promises he couldn't possibly keep. "You'll feel much better once Kovin gets what he deserves." This, after making sure her first named feeling is anger--a jealous god whose sacrificial demands are often terribly high. She wants nothing to do with emotions at first--and once she's had them she's still not fond of their effects. Considering the emotions she struggles with first, I can't say I blame her.
Ironically, this whole experience answers the question Janeway posed to her--what method of discipline will work with Seven? Clearly, the answer is this: the discipline must come from within. It will be an arduous journey filled with potholes and roadside banditi. But Seven is strong willed enough that any effort to make her do what she doesn't really want to is likely doomed to failure. She can be accommodating when it's efficient to do so, but if you want her to do the right thing when it's inconvenient to do so, she'll need to make that decision on her own. That will take time and experience to develop.
And I'm sorry, but six months is a hopelessly optimistic schedule, and Janeway is deluding herself if she thinks otherwise. Seven will no doubt struggle with this for a long time. She'll get better gradually, but she's got plenty of missteps left to take. Seven learns her first hard lesson in "Retrospect."
And it's clearly not a lesson Janeway had completely grasped, either--she feels just as much personal remorse and responsibility for Kovin's destruction as the others. Tuvok may be the only one with a clear conscience, though he may feel some regret that Doc didn't feel bound by the same oath of impartiality until it was too late.
Once Seven was introduced to anger, and promised that she'd feel better when Kovin got what he deserved, Seven said she "won't settle for anything less." I can't say I blame her; she's unused to the burden of anger, and she wants the hurting to stop. When Kovin gets more than he could possibly have deserved, she finds that Doc was wrong--she doesn't come close to feeling better. It's a hard lesson.
And so Janeway, and Seven, have an answer to the question of "what will it take to teach you that actions have consequences?"
Okay. Here's my chief complaint with the episode.
What really happened to Seven?
Something concrete happened to her. She got zapped by a thoron-based weapon (accidentally or on purpose). Suppressed memories began to surface, for whatever reason.
What were they about?
They didn't resolve, to my satisfaction, Kovin's guilt or innocence. The evidence may have leaned toward Kovin's version of events, but I still wasn't entirely convinced of his innocence. They left it at "we have evidence that suggests our accusations were premature." That's not quite the same as "we know you're innocent."
If Kovin is innocent--then that still leaves unanswered the question of Seven's recovering memories. What do they depict? Memories of her own assimilation, or assisting in the assimilation of others? Images more of a dream state than reality? What?
Leaving this unanswered still, I think, leaves Seven a victim of something unresolved. How can her healing continue until the wound has been completely cleaned out? Do they stop treatment entirely because they made a mistake the first time?
I wasn't at all happy about that.
Doc's therapy seemed terribly manipulative to me. The imagery strongly suggested Kovin did something to her. We saw everything through Seven's perspective, and merely heard Kovin's denials. We know Seven is suffering. We see Doc direct Seven's thoughts, and her emotions, into a "Kovin is scum" focus. We already knew Kovin was unlikeable, but that's not a crime in itself. To demonize him so early in the game is to victimize Seven all over again.
The avoidance of the Vulcan Mind Meld seems deliberate as well. They could well have cleared up the true nature of the memories with a little help from Tuvok--he's used it before in criminal investigations (Paris in "Ex Post Facto," Torres in "Random Thoughts," and Suder in "Meld,") and he and Kes melded on several occasions when she was in distress. Perhaps that would have been too easy, but it seems a glaring omission. Even if a meld wasn't admissible in an Entharan court, it would have answered it for the crew. The episode concluded, it seemed, with Janeway feeling she'd wasted good effort in believing Seven, in rallying the crew around her. If the legal question was moot after Kovin's death, the emotional resolution would have benefitted the crew. They could mourn Kovin's loss and perhaps still spare some sympathy for the still-hurting Seven.
Another question--did they buy the weapons or not? Perhaps it's tacky, but if they're in space where their arsenal is insufficient, they still need to bulk up. If Kovin was as widely disliked as he seemed to be, another arms merchant may even have given them a discount.
Another nitpick--Janeway's chief concern seemed to be over the possibility of "even one Borg nanoprobe" being left behind on the Entharan colony, because of the potential danger they pose. When Tuvok and Doc investigated the "crime scene" they found the place swimming with nanoprobes. (This actually bolsters Kovin's case--if he really knew the commercial value of those nanoprobes, he wouldn't have left them all over the lab like invisible debris.) Doc grabbed a mere sample of them.
As Doc noted in retrospect, he had become an advocate. He took up her cause before there was a verifiable cause to take up, and he actively recruited her to draw the same conclusions.
That got in the way of his medical objectivity. In a big way.
Ironically, this subtle addition to his program, intended to make him more useful to the crew, made him a greater danger than did his modifications in "Darkling" which were primarily for personal enrichment. He may have become "evil" in Darkling, a completely different creature who mocked the original Doc, but nobody died that week.
This week, for the best of intentions and the most honorable of causes, and generally in a state of sound mind and body, Doc does harm--to Kovin, and to Seven.
He's becoming more human every day.
While there were plenty of minor-to-major omissions in the script, the only truly gratuitous element in this episode in my mind was the "stacked deck" against Kovin. The society where he's ruined merely by being accused seems not only excessive, but impractical. Accusations are just too darned easy to make, and arms dealing not the most upstanding of professions to begin with. I just can't fathom a workable society based on the concept of innocent until accused.
(This is different from "presumption of guilt;" at least with presumption of guilt, a trial is still necessary.) Not only that, but a guy as prickly as Kovin, who has even the Hippocratic Doc and the notoriously compassionate Janeway confessing that they felt like administering a little North Portland Therapy to Kovin's facial features themselves--as annoying as he is, you'd expect he'd have been accused of something a long time ago.
His veracity was already in question, in fact. His description of the assault in Engineering was skewed, to say the least. He played the victim to perfection. I didn't do anything wrong; she attacked me for no reason. Torres cheerfully points out that Kovin's perspective is myopic at best. He doesn't act guilty, though--he acts more like an insensitive but mostly harmless jerk boy too self-absorbed to mastermind a major heist of Borg technology.
I'm being awfully mean to Kovin, but I give kudos to Michael Horton, who plays him. We last saw him in STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT as a security officer on the Enterprise-E. He does a fine job playing Kovin as someone you'd dearly love to find guilty of something, but who also has a side you can feel sorry for. He may not be pleasant, but he does seem decent. Horton plays Kovin as an average guy who finds himself in over his head and panics.
If nothing else, the episode provides reasonable doubt about his guilt.
However, because the deck is so stacked against Kovin, he cracks, and he dies distraught. It seemed a bit too dramatically convenient to kill him, at least as they did it. The magistrate, it seems, was bent on Kovin's destruction--urging Janeway to defend herself (with the condition of Kovin's ship, any effort would probably have detonated it, so Janeway had to keep from firing so Kovin would die by his own hand), and "talking him down" by saying they still have to continue the inquest rather than simply saying "we don't need to investigate further--your reputation is intact. Come on home." The magistrate didn't seem all that broken up by Kovin's demise. My guess: he disliked Kovin, too.
It just seemed that the guy was doomed from the start. I can believe he cracked under pressure. What I have a hard time believing is that he had survived as long as he had, given the traits they showed us and the society in which he lived.
I've spent a lot of time poking holes in the episode, but actually I quite enjoyed it. I like it when characters end up learning something the hard way--and it's a rare episode of Voyager when Janeway admits anything short of personal infallibility. It also said something positive about the human experience--Janeway pointed out to a despondent Doc that his efforts at self-improvement have done far more good than ill for the crew, and she encourages him to keep growing. It's exactly the message she hopes Seven will pick up. And for one of the first times in memory, we have the captain acknowledging error, and suffering the consequences of her actions as well as those of others. She was nowhere near the guiltiest of the guilty--that honor falls to Doc--but she recognizes that she earned her share of regret, and she doesn't shy away from it.
The very negotiations with Kovin for new weapons suggests that "Prey" spooked Janeway (and rightly so). She knows that they need more power if they're going to survive in this region of space. (About dang time, I think.) Adopting alien weapons technology seems a bit revolutionary for a Trek series, but it fits in perfectly with Voyager's unique status as a ship that is entirely on its own. If they can beg, borrow and barter for stuff that's better than they have now (since leaving Kazon space, the chance of finding technology worth having has improved), more power to them.
I wouldn't mind seeing them get some cloaking technology while they're at it.
Before Doc helped Seven get in touch with her feelings, she operated more or less on instinct. I doubt she feels sorry even now for slugging Kovin in Engineering--he was rude, he paid for it. Doc fixed the break; no autopsy, no foul. Nice, efficient response.
Naturally, Seven doesn't feel all that penitent about slugging Kovin--she didn't even know why she reacted as she did. It's like asking a four year-old why they flushed that feather boa down the toilet: "I don't know." But every four year-old knows why--it's all in the name of science. It had to be done. (Toilets are magical technology, like transporters. But try explaining that to a grown-up.)
Question: if Janeway's that fed up with Seven of Nine, why doesn't she let someone else handle her? Chakotay seems to be the Good Cop with her; he can be firm, but gentle. He can put Janeway's directives in terms Seven finds meaningful. And as first officer, personnel issues are generally his anyway.
Tuvok, as security chief, also could step in. They speak at a remarkably similar level. Their interaction in "Year of Hell" was terrific. Nobody knows the captain better than Tuvok.
Doc's also taking a role in Seven's education...though after this week, it'll be interesting to see how much she trusts him. At least, I hope it will be interesting.
Neelix still has much to offer Seven, I think. But not in an official capacity. Same with Paris.
Torres seems to like Seven better these days, but mostly because Seven's doing stuff she used to, and catching heat for it. Torres can live vicariously through the new bad girl on the block, and remind herself thereby how far she's come the last four years. But while it's nice to see she's found something in Seven she can appreciate, it's not the best foundation for a friendship.
As for Harry--keep him away from her until he can talk to her without stuttering.
Short take: keep Janeway and Seven separated for a while; let someone else interact with her for a change. If she breaks a few noses along the way--oh well. That's what dramatic conflict is all about.
The look of the episode was quite good. The RepressedMemoryCam was suitably creepy, the feeling of isolation that both Kovin and Seven experienced were nicely supported by the camera work, and the special effects were quite good. Surprising for an episode featuring a weapons dealer, the high-tech was kept low-key, and the focus was kept, appropriately, on the characters.
Performances were good all-around. Special kudos to Picardo, Ryan, and Horton, who got me to really care about them, even when I wanted to smack them upside the head. Ryan's subtle discovery of Seven's first emotions is particularly well played, and Picardo's wide range of emotions were handled with aplomb.
I hate to admit this, but I usually tape Voyager and watch Beverly Hills 90210 on Wednesday nights, then watch the tape after Drew Carey. This week, I missed a good part of 90210 because Voyager kept drawing me in during the commercial breaks. That's pretty high praise. (Ironically, the plot of 90210 wasn't that different from Voyager's.)
Anyway, I'm rambling.
On a 0-10 scale, I'm giving this a 7.250, or (* * *). A lot to like, and a strong follow-up to "Prey" and interlude between Hirogen episodes. But too many questions left unanswered, and I was not happy that Seven's suffering got lost--for good?--in the brouhaha over Kovin's guilt or innocence. Regardless of the reason for their resurfacing, Seven's suppressed memories need to be investigated further.
Next week: on a two-hour Voyager (both parts played the same night), the Hirogen discover that a Holodeck makes happy hunting grounds.