It's Paramount's playground. They own the characters, the ships, species, planets, quadrants, and the dialog, plots, etc. My summaries and reviews are for the purpose of entertainment and analysis only. The reviews are full-spoiler, which means that it's about as close as you can get to seeing the episode. All that's missing are commercials and pictures. If you want to be surprised and haven't seen the episode yet, read no further. But if you've already seen it, or you don't mind finding out the details in advance, strap in and get comfy--it's going to be a long, wild ride.
[Captioning sponsored by Paramount Television and United Paramount Network.]
Seven of Nine has an unexpected Drone reunion on an alien space station.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Dusk falls on a marshy planet. A flock of white birds rises gracefully from the earth, flying up and to the left--offering a counterpoint to the descending green sphere trailing gray smoke and fragments of hardware. Our upper-atmosphere vantage point is ideal--we see the steady descent of the craft until it connects with solid ground--marking its location with a massive orange fireball.
Tempted though I am--tempting though this setting is--I made a vow and I intend to keep it. DELTA BLUES is a Blair Witch parody-free zone. Repeat: there will be no parodies of The Blair Witch Project. The line must be drawn here.
In the moonlit darkness, a Borg drone wanders aimlessly through the mossy trees and vines of a fog-bound swamp. It changes direction when it nears a second drone, also walking. Another drone lies still, its form contorted in death. A third drone enters the view, until all three stand shoulder to shoulder.
Input failure, says the first drone, an older male with a resonant bass voice.
Input failure, says the second drone, a twentysomething male with a tenor voice, a second later.
Input failure, says the third drone, a thirtysomething female, an alto, a moment after that.
No, they're not going to sing. No Borgershop quartet here. This is not an a capella Collective.
A fourth drone sits upright, dazed. This one looks vaguely familiar. Seven of Nine, tertiary adjunct to Unimatrix One--before Janeway got her transmogrifying mitts on her. This must be a flashback.
Gathering her bearings, she stands and addresses her three surviving comrades-in-mind. "Our link to the Collective has been severed. Initiate secondary protocols." The three drones look at each other, then at Seven of Nine.
"The vessel's transwarp chamber is approaching critical pressure," Seven of Nine continues. "We must evacuate this area."
Agreed, the three drones reply in unison.
No directional coordinates available, the first drone says a moment later, looking around, confused. The other two drones chime in to help complete the sentence.
Seven of Nine rolls her one human eye, and takes charge yet again. "That way. Bearing 3-0-1." Agreed, the drones reply. "Bring that drone," Seven instructs, pointing to the unmoving Borg. Drones one and two each grab a limb, and we see them trudge through the fog-choked swamp.
* * *
Captain's Log: Stardate 53049.2. We've docked at the Markonian outpost and agreed to mutual visits, so I'm allowing shore leave to anyone who wants it. Commander Tuvok has objected to taking on too many visitors. But, security issues aside, I'm looking forward to a cultural exchange--and making some new friends.
We see Voyager docked at a large, well-lit, well-maintained space station. Vessels of every kind dock and undock at a good rate, suggesting a lively locale.
Maybe it's just the CGI effects, or just the lighting--but Voyager looks like it's been working on its tan, and succeeding quite nicely.
The turbolift to the bridge opens, and we see Chakotay wrestling with a multi-limbed…I think it's a cross between an octopus and Andre Agassi. There are racquets at the end of each of the gold-hued limbs, which appear to have minds of their own.
The bridge is very crowded, with folks in Starfleet uniforms, and a multitude of aliens. Despite his many Pardon Me and Excuse me warnings, he still manages to slap a few around with the limbs of the item he carries on his way to the captain's ready room.
After darn-near Jackie Chan-ning one poor alien into a free trip to Sickbay, Chakotay manages to back into the ready room. "Captain!" he calls, trying to clear the entry before the doors close.
"I'll be right with you," Janeway says off camera.
As Chakotay struggles with the unwieldy item, the camera sweeps through the Ready Room--and we see it choked to the rafters with gifts of every size and color. When the view settles on Janeway's desk, we see the captain locked in tender embrace…with a very affectionate plant. "The station manager didn't tell me the vines were prehensile," Janeway explains, trying to extricate herself. "I went to put some water in the pot and it grabbed me." Well, at least the plant has good taste.
"This is a gift from the Kinbori delegation," Chakotay says, nodding at the thing in his hands. "I don't know its name--only that it's used in one of their sacred games….and it's very heavy."
"Well, put it down anywhere," Janeway instructs. Chakotay grunts a few times, but manages to wrestle the thing to the ground without breaking anything.
Janeway finally breaks free from the amorous flora's grasp. Pulling small bits of leaves and branches from her hair, Janeway sighs, approaching her first officer. "Thank the Kinbori for me--and give them a token of our esteem." She hands Chakotay a black leather-bound book (I assume) and a decoratively wrapped something.
"I already gave them a Voyager medallion. They seemed appreciative," Chaktoay says, taking the items.
The door chimes. "Come in," Janeway says, her voice tired but not cranky.
Tuvok enters, looking around the room but wisely choosing not to comment.
"Doesn't it look like Christmas morning in here, Commander?" Janeway asks. She leans against her desk, still picking bits of plant matter from her tunic.
"You have to admit the generosity of our guests is very impressive," Chakotay adds.
Tuvok merely frowns. "As is their proclivity for criminal behavior. This morning's security report," he says, handing Janeway a PADD. Chakotay tries to keep the smirk off his face.
Janeway begins to read. "A broken O.D.N. line...some missing personal items...a damaged scanner relay...all in all, not that bad."
"There is a second page to the report," Tuvok points out.
Janeway looks them over and clucks her tongue. She stands up and takes a few steps toward the door, behind Tuvok, then back around toward her desk so she and Chakotay stand shoulder to shoulder--he reads Page Two as well. "Well, some of these incidents are a little more serious, but on balance, I still think we did the right thing." Chakotay nods his agreement.
Tuvok's tone, if possible, grows crisper. "There is a third page." Well, thank you, Paul Harvey.
Chakotay takes the PADD briefly, checks Page Three, and grins as he hands it back to Janeway. "Come on, Tuvok. After all the xenophobic races we've run into, don't you find it just a little refreshing to meet some people who value openness and freedom?"
Janeway walks back over to her desk. "Well, as far as I'm concerned, opening the ship has been a fascinating experience--and an unqualified success. I'm very pleased." Me too, Chakotay says.
Tuvok knows when he's licked. "I am pleased that you are pleased," he says, struggling mightily to stop his eyebrows from heckling the captain. "If you'll excuse me..." he heads for the door.
Chakotay stops him. "Tuvok..." he offers a small, gift-wrapped item. "Please accept this token of our esteem."
If looks could nerve-pinch…
Tuvok exits, as Chakotay does the Superiority Dance with an evil grin on his face.
Janeway's cries break him out of his reverie. "Ooh, ow! It's got me by the hair!" she exclaimes, as the large plant on her desk bear-hugs her yet again.
Chakotay, smirking, rushes to his captain's aid.
We see a closeup of Seven of Nine's two hands working smoothly at a control panel in Astrometrics.
Two much smaller hands rest against the same panel, fingers drumming impatiently. "Now it's 12:45," Naomi Wildman says, her impatient voice not quite a whine.
"If you're hungry, you may eat without me," Seven says.
"You said we'd have lunch together," Naomi says.
"I haven't completed my analysis of the station's power conversion matrix."
"How long is it going to take?"
"Seven, you promised!" Naomi Wildman whines, looking up at the much-taller Seven with eyes that could melt diamonds.
Seven of Nine, who takes her promises very seriously, regards her tiny pal. And sighs. "Very well."
Naomi is magnanimous in victory, and waits patiently for Seven to save her work before they exit into the crowded corridor.
"I think it's even more crowded than this morning," Naomi observes. Yes, Seven agrees anxiously. The corridor is positively clogged with people of myriad species, Starfleet and alien, chatting away amiably--their cacophony of concurrent conversations (ah, alliteration!) blending into white noise.
We see both Seven and Naomi disappear into the sea of bodies. We hear Naomi's polite little voice, but just barely: "Excuse us. Excuse us. Please, we're trying to get through to the turbolift. Excuse us, please." It's not working very well.
"Stand aside!" Seven of Nine bellows, using the voice of She Who Must Be Obeyed.
All talk stops at once. Everyone in the corridor picks a wall, and plasters themselves to it. Leaving a clear path free for Naomi and Seven of Nine.
"Thank you," Naomi says cheerfully, leading the way to the turbolift.
And like the Red Sea, as quickly as the waters part, they join again, and the conversations resume.
The Mess Hall is also swarming with activity. Neelix looks more frazzled than usual. "I'm sorry, but there's no more marsupial surprise," he announces to the disappointed throng. "We only had two kilos of pouches to begin with, and it's all gone!" Groans chorus from the chow line. "Now, how about some pizza, huh?"
The groans turn to cheers. Everybody loves pizza. Maybe that's because Tom Paris is parading around in a Little Caesar's outfit, chanting, "Pizza, Pizza" while trying his best to fend off the curious hands attempting to lift his skimpy Roman toga.
[That one's for you, Rosie. You owe me.]
Seven of Nine and Naomi of Wildman sit at a small table in the center of the room. Naomi looks at one of the aliens sitting nearby. "She's...a Shivolian, right?" Correct, Seven of Nine says. "Species 521?"
Seven regards the child sternly. "Your mother would not approve of you memorizing Borg designations. I don't approve either. We've discussed the impropriety of you emulating the Borg."
"Sorry," Naomi says, duly chastened. For the moment. The little scamp doesn't bear a grudge against her Borg pal.
Seven of Nine, clearly ill-at-ease in the room, fidgets, particularly when the mass of bodies gets too close to her. A few seconds into the meal, she pushes her salad plate away. "I'm finished."
Naomi frowns. "We just sat down."
Seven fidgets some more as a female crewman brushes past. "I do not enjoy crowds," she confesses.
"But you were in the Collective. Wasn't that like a big crowd?"
A large-butted alien scrapes by. "Which is why I do not enjoy them now," Seven says, shuddering. Naomi, understanding why Seven wanted to stay in astrometrics, apologizes. "I'm sorry; I didn't realize that. Let's go."
But before they can stand, a burly middle-aged man with a severe expression and some rather distinctive facial scars, approaches their table. "Excuse me. Are you Seven of Nine?" Yes, Seven acknowledges. The man opens a stainless-steel satchel, revealing a foam-protected collection of Borg artifacts.
Seven bolts out of her chair, a look of sudden horror on her face. Her eyes dart left and right, unable to believe what she's seeing.
The camera closes in on the seven items, particularly on the large one in the center.
A series of images flash through Seven's mind. Basically, the Teaser on fast-forward.
It's a memory she's not all that happy to relive.
Naomi stands. "You okay?" she asks Seven.
Seven has regained her composure somewhat. "These are Borg synaptic relays…from my original Unimatrix," she says, mostly to herself.
"These are yours?" Naomi asks.
"Where did you acquire them?" Seven asks the stranger.
"A trader, from Orendal Five. I was told you are a former Borg drone and might be interested in acquiring these pieces."
Seven hesitates, then makes a decision. "I'll take them. Captain Janeway will provide you with whatever monetary reimbursement you require." Agreed, says the man, closing the case.
Seven takes it. "I must examine these items more closely." Okay, Naomi says, and Seven exits--practically sprinting out of the mess hall.
Naomi looks up at the man and smiles. "What's your name?"
The gentleman regards Naomi as he would an insect--and silently walks away.
"That was rude," Naomi huffs. She sits back at the table and resumes her meal alone.
The stern-looking man stands in the mess hall, looking at nothing in particular. Stage two is complete, he says without moving his lips, the echo in the voice letting us know he's thinking his lines. She has the relays. She's going to study them. We get a closeup of his outfit--it's a bluish sweater, fuzzy enough to fit the ensemble of Robert Smith of The Cure.
In Engineering, near the warp core, we see a woman in her mid-thirties, wearing a dark blue suit and a black beret, her longish dark hair about shoulder-length, bearing distinctive nose ridges identifying her as a Bajoran. Her regeneration alcove is in Cargo Bay Two, she says telepathically.
That's where she'll go, thinks a third, a twentysomething guy standing in a crowded corridor. We should prepare for stage three.
Agreed, everyone thinks in unison.
There's consensus, says the older guy. Rendezvous at my coordinates and stand by to penetrate their security.
Each has some noticeable facial scarring.
You don't think…
Nah, couldn't be. What are the odds on that?
* * *
Back to the past, on that murky swamp world. The two half-lit moons in the sky hang large and low, like two eyes staring down from heaven.
The three Borg and Seven of Nine collaborate on the disassembly of the deceased drone while Seven of Nine works on something else. The young male extracts a mechanical implant from the late drone's skull, and hands it off to the female, who walks it over to Seven of Nine--who is constructing something from the pieces.
"Error," says the young male drone, stopping his work.
Seven gives him a severe look. "Explain."
"We shouldn't be desecrating the body of this drone. It is against the will of Mothra." Mothra? That is so cool! I didn't know that gigantic radioactive moth of 1960s Japanese monster movie fame was a Delta Quadrant na--
"Who is Brothela?" asks the female. Hmmm. Now we're talking about the patron saint of houses of ill repu--?
"Brothara: supernatural deity worshipped by Species 571," the elder male drone responds.
Man, I gotta lay off the NyQuil. My typing stinks this week.
"I'm a member of Species 571," the young male drone says, the first awakenings of his prior life beginning to stir.
Seven of Nine reacts swiftly. "You're being confused by irrelevant data. Ignore it."
But the other female drone has a question. "You said, 'I am a member of Species 571.' Do you consider yourself an individual?"
Seven doesn't like where this is headed. "There are no individuals here. We are Borg."
The other three say Agreed in unison. Well, more or less.
Seven seems satisfied. "Resume constructing the communications beacon." She returns to her work.
But the other three drones swap meaningful looks.
Looks they'd clearly prefer that busybody überdrone Seven of Nine not see.
B'Elanna Torres her new, curlier hairstyle stealing the scene, runs a tricorder over one of the Borg parts. "It looks like a standard Borg synaptic relay," she says, taking her new collection of data to a more powerful terminal in Cargo Bay Two.
Seven works at a different terminal. Frowning, she says, "There must be something more. When I first came into contact with it I was overwhelmed with images. Memories. Sounds."
Torres shrugs. "Sounds like a perfectly natural reaction to me. That was part your old Unimatrix, right?" Seven nods. "Well, isn't it at least possible that what you experienced was simply nostalgia?"
Seven gives Torres a funny look.
"You know, sentimental feelings about the past," Torres says.
"I know what nostalgia is," Seven says imperiously. "But I have no feelings about the past."
Incredibly, Torres doesn't even get angry. Or maybe she does, but she's learning to hide it well. Even so, B'Elanna figures she's not being paid enough for this kind of abuse. "O--kay. I think I've done all I can here." She heads for the door.
"Lieutenant..." Torres stops and looks back at Seven. "You were--trying to help. I appreciate that."
It's perilously close to an apology, and Torres decides to take it as such. "Anytime. Oh, and, um, you may not be nostalgic about the past…but I'd say you definitely have feelings about it. Strong ones." Torres exits the cargo bay, leaving Seven alone with the rather disturbing thought to ponder.
Their security protocols are formidable, the old guy says, seated at one of the tables in the mess hall.
He's not alone--the younger male and the woman are at the same table, picking at their salads.
We may not have enough time, the woman thinks.
I'm worried about Seven of Nine, says the young male. We should reexamine the question of simply asking...
You know what her reactions will be! thinks the woman. She won't help us because she...
We've been through all that, thinks the older male.
The young male persists. She could be permanently injured. I don't want to harm...
"Enough!" the old guy says aloud--and loudly. Others in the room turn to look at him.
"We need consensus," whispers the woman, looking at the young guy.
"We can't act without it," the old guy says, boring into the young guy's eyes.
"I know," the young guy says softly.
"So, then it's up to you. Do we proceed or not?" asks the old guy.
The young guy feels the quartet of eyes upon him. Weakly, he nods. "Yes. We...I apologize for my indecision."
The old man seems satisfied. But the woman gives him an angry rejoinder. "Apologies are irrelevant!"
Seven of Nine continues her work in the cargo bay. "Computer, begin multi-polar analysis," she orders.
Analysis underway, the computer responds.
"Time to completion?" Five hours, 17 minutes, the computer replies. (Just for giggles, that's 317 minutes -- a second-tier 47. I gotta keep in practice…) Seven decides that's plenty of time for a quick regeneration nap, so she hops in her favorite alcove and logs into dreamland.
When she does, the synaptic relay under analysis begins to do something unusual.
The three salad-eating telepaths stop with their forks hovering at the same elevation from the table.
She's regenerating, says the old guy.
Begin rerouting their internal sensors, says the woman.
Rerouting sensor input to secondary processors, says the young guy.
We see something different happen in the cargo bay.
We also see something beep on the Bridge, where the ever-vigilant Tuvok--fresh from his humiliating non-catch of the evil Equinox doctor's espionage last week--pounces instantly. He frowns. His eyebrows high-five each other, sensing a golden opportunity to wiggle when Tuvok says I Told You So.
The doors to a crowded turbolift open, and bodies stream out until only three remain--two guys and a gal, fresh from Neelix's Pizza Place. The doors close, and the lift begins to move again.
Hold, says the woman. The lift stops, and the old guy reaches up to undo the bolts on a ceiling grate.
"What have you got?" Chakotay asks, walking over to Tactical.
"There's a power fluctuation in the security grid," Tuvok says.
The three drones drop through a vent into Cargo Bay Two. Stealthily, they make their way to Seven of Nine's alcove.
"All we know is that we've got a security breach," Chakotay tells Captain Janeway. "We don't know where."
The old guy unwraps the fabric from his left hand, revealing some very non-biological components. He taps on his knuckles a few times. "Ready. Insert the interlink module."
The woman moves her ankle-length robes aside, revealing a leg that's also scarred with mechanical implants. She removes a piece from her leg and attaches it to the computer column next to Seven's alcove. "Ready," she says.
The young guy, kneeling before Seven, doesn't move much. "He's still worried about injuring her," the older guy says, disappointment in his voice.
The woman approaches the younger guy. "If we fail, we'll never become individuals," she rasps. "We have to remember that." The young man hesitates, then nods.
The old man nods. "There is consensus." The other two get out of his way, and he approaches Seven of Nine. Holding his left hand up to Seven's neck, two thick hoses, the interface/assimilation tubes the Borg are famous for, leap out and plunge into Seven of Nine's throat.
She doesn't react--at first.
"I've found her memory files," the old guys says.
"She's aware of our presence," the woman says with growing alarm.
"She's trying to regain consciousness," the old guy says.
"We must abort," the young guy pleads.
"No! We're too close." The woman shouts.
Seven of Nine's eyes burst open, stirred from her sleep. Gritting her teeth, she glares at the older guy. "I will not comply!" She pushes him away easily with her left hand.
The woman and the young guy advance on her, and Seven does a decent job of fighting them off.
But she doesn't complain when she gets help. Flashes of angry orange strike one attacker, then another, then the third, until only Seven remains standing, shaken by the unexpected attack.
At the doorway to Cargo Bay Two we see Tuvok and his security team, phasers aimed. The two junior guards secure the intruders while Tuvok runs over to check on the doubled-over Seven, who has been both shaken and stirred.
* * *
It's the same long-ago night on the two-mooned planet.
The Borg are sticklers for efficiency. Nothing goes to waste. The bio-mechanical implants from the dead drone having been removed to repair the communications array, the organic components are recycled as well.
Just in case you were wondering--drones do taste like chicken.
Seven of Nine roasts up her former colleague. She chokes down a moment of pre-assimilation nostalgia. "I have performed this action before. I was with my father. He was a tall man." Her voice is small, sad, like a little girl's. Appropriate, considering when she was assimilated.
The older male drone is also caught up in the Borg reverie. "I have a...similar memory. But I was in a house and the fire was in the hearth."
"The biomatter is ready," the younger male drone says, offering up a thick slab of buttsteak.
The other female drone takes the first bite. "It tastes similar to a bird I once ate." Told ya--like chicken.
"I used to prepare food...for...my parents," the young male says. "They lived...in a small building by...a river."
"I used to be...afraid of the dark," Seven of Nine whimpers in the darkened swamp, as more memories return to her.
The older male's voice grows hoarse as his former life emerges from the dark recesses of his mind. "Just before I was assimilated, I was...eating with a group of men. We...worked in numbers. Mathematics. I...calculated equations for another man."
The female blinks. "I have a name. It's...Marika. Marika Willkara. Wilkarah."
"Hello, Marika Wilkarah," the older male says to her, feeling it odd to address a drone by a name rather than a designation.
Seven of Nine, sensing her world is unraveling, tries to rein it back in. "Her designation is Three of Nine," Seven insists, her voice cracking.
The young male, though, is not listening to Seven of Nine. He is listening to his former self. "I have a name! P'Chan. Son of Dornar and Ansha. My primary function was to care for them!" he says, the wonderment growing on his face.
"I was married," Three of Nine--Wilkarah--says. "We were on a Starship...the Excalibur." Mackenzie Calhoun's ship? "I worked in Engineering."
The elder male stares at his oversized Borg arm. "This is not my hand," he says, almost dreamily.
Four of Nine--P'Chan, the young male--looks aghast. "My parents...Dead. The Borg killed them. I hate the Borg!"
Poor Seven of Nine doesn't like this at all. "This is counterproductive. We must delete all irrelevant data!"
"I want my hand back," the older male says, still staring at his prosthetic limb.
"I was on duty...The night watch...When the Borg came," Three of Nine says. "Oh, my God! Look at what they've done to me! These-these things they put in my body! What have they done?" She stands in what moonlight is available, and looks with horror at the Borg modifications to her body.
Three of the drones seem obsessed with remembering as much of their old lives as possible. But Seven of Nine is equally determined to end it--now. "Command override. Cease this interaction!" she says, her voice shaking with emotion.
The three drones look at her, confused.
"Comply!" she commands, a little stronger.
The three drones form up at attention. Apparently they're used to being ordered around.
"We will not access these memory files again. Initiate the prescribed maintenance and survival protocols only. No further communication is required until we are re-assimilated into the Collective!"
One by one, the drones reply. "Agreed." "Agreed." "Agreed."
Seven of Nine feels much better. Drones are complying. The past is buried, as it should be. All is right with the world.
Or will be, as soon as the Collective comes to retrieve them.
Cut to the present. The three folks who attacked Seven of Nine are now lying in Sickbay, unconscious. The older male is completely shirtless, to give us a full view of his modifications. It's a hack job--large patches of skin are gone, exposing Borg parts underneath. A hose runs from his shoulder to his forearm. Great sections of his chest resemble an engineering work in progress.
The younger male, lying on the far table, is still wearing his robe, which is open to reveal a bare chest and plenty of remaining Borgness. The female on the middle table is wearing a dress slit up to the hip, her bared leg so choked with remaining technology that Doc's decision to outfit Seven of Nine in bodysuits merits whole new appreciation.
"Whoever removed their implants was a poor surgeon," Doc explains to Janeway and Seven. He's clearly distressed by the bad work. "Their internal organs were damaged during the procedure and their bodies are covered with scars."
"You said you recognized them," Janeway says to Seven.
"Not at first, Seven says. "But when they attempted to access my memory files I was momentarily linked with them." She points down the row of beds--starting with the older male, then the female, then the younger male. "Two of Nine...Three of Nine...Four of Nine...We were all members of the same Unimatrix."
Gee…small galaxy, ain't it?
"Do you know why they were trying to access your memories?" Janeway asks. No, Seven says. "How long have they been disconnected from the Collective?" Janeway asks the Doctor. "Three or four months," he replies.
The female, at least, has more hair than one would expect from only a few months freed from the Collective. The older male has far less hair. The younger male, none at all.
Doc pulls up a visual on a computer screen to demonstrate his next point--three glowing brains. All that's missing are the quatloos and the thralls. "However, they are still connected to each other. Somehow, the left parietal lobes of their brains have been transformed into organic interlink nodes. They've become linked together into a sort of collective triad." To illustrate, we see arrows pointing between the brains, the universal symbol for Telepathic Link.
"Revive them," Janeway orders. The Doctor revives Two of Nine, the elder male, first, then moves on to the female. "I'm Captain Janeway," she says to the male. "We know who you are and we know what you were trying to do. What we don't know is why." She stands protectively between the former drones and Seven.
"She has information we need," the older male says. "What kind of information?" Janeway asks.
The male answers: "We want to become--"
"Individuals," the female finishes for him.
"You want to break the neural link between the three of you?" Janeway asks.
"Wouldn't you?" Asks the female. "None of us is alone with our own thoughts, our own feelings."
"Every day of my life is spent hearing their two voices in my head," the older male says.
"When we're asleep we experience each other's dreams," the younger male says.
Doc looks confused. "How's that different from life in the Collective?"
"In the Collective," Seven explains, "there are billions of voices. They become...white noise."
"But with only three--" says Old Guy.
"Each voice comes through clearly," says the woman.
"It has to stop! We must break the neural link," says Young Guy.
The way the three finish each others sentences is a bit disconcerting for Janeway and the Doctor. Seven seems disquieted as well, but for a different reason--she's been there and done that, with these three.
"Doctor, is there anything you can do?" the captain asks.
"The modifications are too extensive," Doc says helplessly. "Their neuronal pathways have been fundamentally altered."
"You hold the key," Old Guy says, pointing to Seven. Why? She asks. "You were there with us," the female answers. "Planet 1865 Alpha," Young Guy adds. "You must remember!"
Seven of Nine thinks. "Eight years ago, our vessel crashed. The four of us were the only survivors."
The three begin to speak, each picking up the thoughts of the other, a round robin of dialog that Seven and Janeway and Doc watch with fascination and sympathy at the soft but heartfelt pleas of the three escaped drones.
"When we were re-assimilated--"
"We found we'd been linked together somehow--"
"We were a subset within the Collective--"
"It's like having three voices whispering in one ear--"
"And a crowd screaming in the other--"
"We had to break free, so we worked together. We finally escaped--"
"We had our implants removed on Inavar Prime--"
"But they couldn't break the neural link--"
"We need to find out what happened eight years ago after the crash--"
"The night we were re-assimilated into the Collective. We need to know how the link was created. But our memories are--"
"Fragmented, disorganized," the female finishes for the trio. "We hoped that you would know." The three drones look hopefully at Seven. So do Janeway and the Doctor.
"I don't," Seven says a moment later. "However, I am willing to attempt to retrieve the data."
Seven looks at Janeway, and all eyes follow. Janeway, after a brief hesitation, nods.
Seven squares her shoulders. "Come with me," she says, and leads the former drones out the Sickbay door.
* * *
In Cargo Bay Two, Three of Nine (Marika) finishes attaching a cable link to the metallic rear plate of Four of Nine (P'Chan)'s skull. "Are you ready?" Seven asks. Yes, the young man responds.
"Data search complete," Seven says a moment later. "Do you remember anything further?"
"No," he says after thinking real hard. "My last memory--"
Marika chimes in. "Is of us standing--"
"--Around the campfire," the three say in unison.
Seven of Nine frowns. "And yet the data files in your cortical processor appear to be intact. I see no evidence that would explain your lapse in memory."
"What about you?" the older man says. "Why don't you remember what happened?"
"I don't know," Seven confesses. "I've found no evidence of damage to my memory files either. I remember the campfire…and then waking up in the Collective. There is an obvious gap...but no indication of why." She frowns with consternation.
"Why do they still call you Seven? You should have a name," the older man says.
"It is my name," Seven says, somewhat defensively.
"No," the young man counters earnestly. "It's a designation. You're an individual now." He can't imagine someone not choosing their original name if they had that choice.
"I…decided that my former name was no longer appropriate," Seven says, somewhat guardedly. "Prepare to reinitialize the memory cascade."
"I can't wait to use my real name again," the female says.
Seven looks at her, surprised. "There is nothing preventing you from doing so."
"Except that most of the time I don't know whether my name is Marika, P'Chan or Lansor," the older male says. "The names, the memories--"
"--the memories," the younger male joins in, then speaks alone, "even the thoughts flow from one to the other."
"I can't love or hate or laugh--" the female says.
"Or cry without...Sharing it with them," the three say in unison.
"How can any of us take a name for--" the older man says,
"For ourselves?" they ask in unison.
"We're not individuals," the young man says.
"We're not Borg," the female says.
"We're nothing," the old man says.
Seven of Nine looks desolately at her three former colleagues. There but for the "grace" of Janeway…
"Begin the memory cascade," Seven instructs when she regains her composure.
Meanwhile, Captain Janeway has other duties to attend to. Namely, a matter of discipline. After their first shore leave in a while, you'd expect some roughhousing, and (surprise!) Tom and Harry don't disappoint.
A 'friendly game'?" Janeway says, disappointment in her voice as she addresses Ensigns Paris and Kim in her ready room.
Tom Paris' gray eyes are now blackened by the queen mother of all shiners. Harry Kim's lip is split. Neither looks entirely penitent.
"Well...That's how it started," Tom Paris stammers.
"I see," the captain says. "Perhaps you could explain to me how this friendly game turned into a street brawl?"
Tom and Harry look at each other nervously. "Well, Harry and I--wanted to explore the station. Um...We wanted to broaden our understanding of alien cultures and, uh..."
"Skip the recruiting speech; you were looking for a bar." It's a statement, not a question, and neither ensign denies it. "Then what?"
Harry picks up the baton. "Well, we--found one, and we met a pair of Kinbori who told us about this game they play with these big, odd-looking rackets..."
"You mean one of those?" Janeway asks, nodding toward a corner of her ready room, which has been cleared of most of the alien gifts--all but the heavy thing Chakotay dragged in at the beginning of Act One. "Yeah!" Both say in unison.
"Yeah," Paris repeats, alone. "In any case, they challenged us to a game and we accepted--but I guess we weren't--quite aware of…all the rules."
"Because you'd been drinking," Janeway says for him.
Paris coughs. There's no getting anything past the captain, is there? "Yes, ma'am," he confesses. "You see, we thought it was a version of tennis. But as soon as we hit the first volley this Kinbori jumps over the net and starts attacking us with his racket!"
"So we figured we were supposed to fight back--" says Harry. "Yeah," agrees Tom.
Janeway rolls her eyes. Listening to the ex-drones talk this way was disconcerting enough.
"And then, uh..." Harry winds up, "Well, things got a little out of hand."
Tom and Harry stand there before the captain. Janeway rolls her eyes. "'A little out of hand.'" She grabs a PADD and begins to read. "Seven Voyager crewmen--including two bridge officers--along with 13 Kinbori and one Morphinian cafe owner...all arrested. The charges range from disorderly conduct to assault on a security officer."
"Yeah, but that last one's not true," Harry assures her.
Janeway smirks. "Oh, thank you, mister Kim. I'll note that exception in my log," she says, her voice assuring him that it won't matter much either way; there's plenty of butt left to chew. "You're both confined to quarters until further notice--after you report to Sickbay. That's all," she says dismissively.
Tom and Harry, glum, trudge toward the door. Janeway stops them. "Well, did you win?" she asks expectantly.
Tom and Harry look at each other--at first with surprise, then with a growing amusement. "Oh, yes, Ma'am!" Tom says, his black eye twinkling.
"We kicked their...Rackets," Harry promises.
Janeway smiles. "Good. Dismissed." Assured that the captain won't hunt them down like dogs for their infraction, Tom and Harry head to sickbay with a song in their hearts.
Seven of Nine enters before the door closes.
"Any progress?" Janeway asks.
"I've determined that we all have exactly the same gap in our memories. It seems unlikely that it would be a coincidence."
"So you believe the Collective deliberately wiped your recollections of the re-assimilation process?" Janeway asks. It is the most likely explanation," Seven says, not looking convinced. So Janeway prompts her. "But...?"
Seven speaks her doubt. "The Collective would not care that four drones remember being re-assimilated."
"Something must have happened during the process," Janeway suggests. "Something they wanted to hide from you. Let's look at this from a different perspective. Why would the Collective lock them into a neural triad in the first place?"
"I don't know," Seven admits. "There is no advantage to having three drones linked together in this manner."
"They obviously did it for some reason. And I get the feeling that if we can answer that question, the rest should fall into place." Janeway sighs. "But I wish we could find a way to close the gaps in your memories."
Seven hesitates. "There is a way," she says softly, almost a whisper.
"I assume there's a reason you didn't mention it before now," Janeway says, her voice also soft. There is no accusation in her voice.
Seven explains. "It would involve linking my neural interface to theirs. Together, we may be able to restore the missing data. However, I would again be part of a group mind."
Janeway nods sympathetically, understanding dawning. "You're not eager to revisit that experience, hmm?"
"There's…also the possibility that I could become trapped in the neural link."
Janeway's eyes go wide. "Turning the triad into a quartet." Seven nods. "I won't ask you to take that kind of risk," Janeway assures her.
"I do feel compelled to help them," Seven says. "But I am uncertain as to the correct course of action."
Janeway walks over. "Let me ask you something. Do you think of these people...as family?"
"Is it relevant?" Seven asks.
"There's an old saying: 'Blood is thicker than water.' It means that the ties of family run deeper than any other kind of relationship. We'll often do things for members of our family we'd never dream of doing for anyone else."
Seven considers this. We see the war going on behind her eyes.
Naomi Wildman calls out to Seven as she walks through the corridor. Seven slows her pace to allow the girl to catch up.
"I heard about the drones," Naomi says, concerned. "Did they hurt you?" Seven looks down at her. "I am not damaged."
"What do they want?" Naomi asks. "They are seeking information from me. But I'm uncertain whether I can help them." Naomi frowns. "Oh. Be careful."
Seven stops at the door to her cargo bay. "Naomi Wildman, do you consider me to be family?" This catches poor little Naomi off guard, but after some hesitation and stumbling over her words, she answers. "Well...Yes. Is...that okay?" I have no objection, Seven says, but it's clear from the look on her face that this affirmation means a lot to her.
"Do you...think of me as family?" Naomi asks. Well, it's only fair. Seven doesn't stammer, but you can hear the gears working in her head before she answers. "Yes," Seven answers at last.
Naomi watches Seven go, and beams. Now her favorite Borg is like a sister to her.
Captain's Log, supplemental. Seven of Nine has decided to undergo the procedure that will link her mind with the other drones. Despite the risk involved she feels an obligation to help these 'distant cousins.'
In the Cargo Bay, the Doctor tells Seven he'll be there to monitor, but there's not a whole lot he'll be able to do if something goes wrong. "I know you'll do your best," Seven says with a confidence neither of them feels. Doc gives her a sad smile. "It's never a good sign when the patient feels the need to comfort the Doctor." They lose themselves in each other's eyes for a moment, then Doc wishes her Good luck.
Seven enters her alcove. The other three drones are already standing in the other three regeneration alcoves. "Ready?" Seven asks. One by one, the other three drones respond: Ready.
With a collective (snort) sigh, the four former colleagues click into place.
Memories stream by, snippets we've already seen in the episode, along with a few we haven't seen yet--they pass by too quickly to bother recounting. The overall effect is disconcerting--as, I'm sure, it was meant to be.
We appear to pick up where we left off--the four Party Borg standing around the campfire, saying nothing, doing nothing, waiting to be retrieved by the Collective. Seven's last command seems to have done its job.
But something causes Seven to step out of line and take the road less traveled in the swamp. She appears drawn toward something…or as it turns out, someone.
After a minute or so of wending her way through the darkness, Seven comes across another drone from the crashed sphere. This one is bruised and bleeding, but breathing. Well, wheezing--and that, not for long.
"You are damaged, Seven says, reassuring the dying drone. "I will assist you."
It grabs her, tightly enough to make her wince. "Don't worry. Everything will be all right," she promises.
The drone convulses, gags, oops, acks, and expires.
Seven of Nine freaks out. Drone or not, she's been separated from the Collective, and has been battling against her pre-assimilation memories. That scared little girl, Annika Hansen, is unaccustomed to seeing someone die.
By the time Seven rushes back to the comfort of the three remaining drones, her absence has allowed their individuality to reassert itself.
"The Collective has located us," the young drone says. "A Borg vessel is on its way."
"We'll be one with the Borg again!" Seven says, relieved.
"No! I do not want to rejoin the Collective," the older man says. Agreed, the younger man says.
Seven panics. "That is in violation of all established protocols!"
"Forget the protocols! You're not a drone. You're a person, like us!" the woman says.
"You have a name...A life!" the young man says. "All you have to do is embrace who you really are!"
Who she really is, or was, she doesn't want to be. "No. I do not exist. I am only part of the greater whole!" That is what gives her comfort.
"That's what they want you to believe! That's what they want us all to believe!"
"We are Borg!" Seven says, her voice shaking, small, scared. "Our primary function is to serve the Collective!"
"Not anymore," the older man says. He smashes the communication module.
Seven's eye goes wide with terror. "Error! Input failure!"
The other three drones ignore Seven as they plot their escape. "They know what planet we're on. But without the beacon, we'll be difficult to locate," says the older male.
"If we can remodulate our cortical implants we might be able to elude their sensors," the female suggests.
"We must leave this place," the older male says.
"This discussion is in violation of all established protocols," Seven shouts, her voice a plea.
The two men leave, in different directions.
The female gives Seven a harsh look. "You stay here and be reassimilated if you want to! I won't!" She takes off in a third direction.
Alone again, Seven of Nine begins to pace, aimlessly, frightened, unsure what to do.
And continues to pace, with lurching, Frankenstein-like steps, as the fire burns down to ash.
At some point, Seven seems to come to a decision. Her pace grows smoother. More determined.
If the Borg have horror movies, this may be one popular variation on the theme.
The younger male makes his way through the swamp, tasting freedom for the first time in years. But as he walks into a clearing, a flash of green energy slams into him, and he is thrown backward, landing like an upended turtle.
Seven of Nine marches toward the young man. Fierce determination fills her eyes.
She grabs his throat. "What are you...Doing?" he pleads.
Seven plunges assimilation tubules into his neck. "The nanoprobes will create new interlink nodes in your left hemisphere. Resistance is futile."
When she withdraws her hand and the tubes, Four of Nine no longer resists. No longer has that spark of life in his eyes. He needs no words to communicate with Seven of Nine.
Seven begins to move. The young man follows.
The older male is the next to go; Seven of Nine catches him from behind, and his neck gets invaded by nanoprobes. When Seven's done, Two of Nine no longer resists.
Two down. Three to go.
Three of Nine is hunted down like a dog. "I will not comply! I will not comply!" She shrieks.
Seven assimilates her. Three of Nine ceases to resist.
"State your designations," Seven says, addressing the three drones.
"Two of Nine. Primary adjunct of unimatrix zero-one," the young man says.
"Three of Nine. Auxiliary processor of unimatrix zero-one," the woman says.
"Four of Nine. Secondary adjunct of unimatrix zero-one," the older man says.
"What is your primary function?" she demands.
To serve the Collective, the three say in unison.
Seven of Nine looks very relieved. All is well again. She is no longer alone. Nobody's dissing the Collective anymore. "You will repair the communications beacon."
The drones comply without argument. There is no further resistance.
Seven returns to the present, to find the other three drones are now up close and in her face, screaming at her with uncontained fury.
"It was you! You were responsible!" the woman yells. She's a Bajoran; you know angry they can get.
What have you done to us? You linked us together. You're responsible for our suffering. How could you do it? If you didn't want to return to the collective... You didn't have to... You don't understand what happened. What you did was wrong! No more! No more!
The words don't blend together; they form a cacophony, like a pachinko machine of fury.
Somebody help me! Seven of Nine screams.
Tuvok enters the Cargo bay. Apparently the noise has extended into the corridor.
"Somehow, they broke their link with Seven. They're malfunctioning. Help me get them to Sickbay," the Doctor says.
* * *
The Doctor scans one of the now-sedated drones in Sickbay. "When they broke their connection with you it must have overloaded their cortical implants. They went into neural shock."
Seven of Nine stands nearby. "And yet I was undamaged."
The Doctor frowns. "I think I know why. You said you remembered injecting them with nanoprobes eight years ago..."
"Yes. It created an interlink between them. It was--the only way to prevent them from escaping the Collective."
The Doctor sighs sadly. "Well, it seems to have had an unfortunate side effect. Their higher brain functions were somehow tied into the interlink. When they broke their connection with you in the cargo bay, the shock to their cognitive systems was too great."
Seven blanches. "Can you revive them?"
"I could remove the microcortical implants. That would break the link binding them together. But it would also kill them. They'd only live a matter of weeks. A month at the most."
Seven doesn't like that option much. "What are the other options?"
"They could be returned to the Borg," the Doctor suggests. "If they were re-assimilated into the Collective they would regain consciousness and then live out a normal life span."
Seven doesn't like that any better than what's behind Door #1. "As drones," she says pointedly.
"As drones," the Doctor agrees. "But they'd be alive, Seven."
Seven consults in Astrometrics with one of the few people on board who can relate to her dilemma: Commander Chakotay. His connections to the Collective have been limited, but all-encompassing. Borg collective consciousness saved his life once--and later manipulated him like a marionette as payment. He knows the best and worst of what the group consciousness can be.
"They have no hope of surviving unless they return to the Collective," Seven tells Chakotay.
"Not exactly a happy ending, is it?" Chakotay asks softly. No, she admits.
"Back on that planet...why do you think you reacted so differently from the rest of them? Why were you so afraid of becoming an individual?" he asks, perhaps already knowing the answer but knowing Seven must puzzle it out on her own.
Seven of Nine thinks about it. "When I was first assimilated into the Collective I was a child. They were assimilated as adults. When our individual memories began to resurface..."
"Yours were of being a little girl...a scared little girl," he says.
"I let that fear control me," Seven says, confirming Chakotay's conclusion. "After I saw the drone die in the swamp I...panicked. I began to envision my own death. Alone...without even the sound of another drone to comfort me. So I forced them to return. I infiltrated their left cerebral hemispheres with nanoprobes and created a new interlink network--one that they couldn't resist. Then I eliminated the evidence of what I'd done."
Chakotay regards her with compassion. "You were overwhelmed by feelings you couldn't begin to understand. You're not responsible for that."
But Seven feels responsible, and it shows. "Because of what I did, they'll be forced to live the rest of their lives in the Collective. For that, I am responsible."
Chakotay and the Doctor don't always see eye to eye. This is no different. Doc's priority to do no harm dictates the option that promises the longest life. But Chakotay has other priorities. Ever the individualist, he presses his case. "There's a difference between surviving and living. They'll survive in the Collective, but they won't really be alive. You know that better than any of us."
"There is no alternative," Seven says, weakly.
"How long would they survive if the Doctor deactivated this...interlink network you created?" Chakotay asks.
"A month at most," she says.
"A month as an individual or a lifetime as a drone…." Chakotay says, mentally weighing each option. "Which option would you choose?" he asks.
Seven has no immediate answer. That is the question, isn't it?
Seven enters Sickbay, and finds the Doctor working at his desk. "Survival is insufficient," she tells him.
"I beg your pardon?" Doc asks.
"Eight years ago, I forced them to return to the Collective. I won't make the same mistake again. They deserve to exist...as individuals. We must terminate the link between them."
The Doctor stands. "I understand that you feel a certain responsibility for these patients. But as their physician, so do I. It's my duty to preserve their lives for as long as possible, even if that means--"
"I will not return them to the Borg," Seven says, determination fortifying each word.
The Doctor, no stranger to debate, rises to the challenge. "Are you thinking of what's best for them...or for you?" Clarify, Seven demands, brought up short by the Doctor's comment. Doc's happy to oblige. "You said it yourself. You made a mistake. And Seven of Nine doesn't like to make mistakes," he says, gently teasing. "She strives for perfection."
Doc bores into her with his obsidian eyes. "I want you to think about the motivation behind your decision. Are you doing what's right for those three people...or are you trying to alleviate the guilt you feel over what happened eight years ago?"
Seven bristles a bit. "The damage I did can never be repaired. And my guilt is irrelevant. I simply want them to experience individuality...as I have. As you have."
Here's where my jaw drops. So does the Doctor's.
"At one time," Seven continues, "you were confined to this Sickbay. Your program was limited to emergency medical protocols. In some ways, you were not unlike a drone. But you were granted the opportunity to explore your individuality. You were allowed to expand your program. Your mobile emitter gives you freedom of movement. Your thoughts are your own. If you were told you had to become a drone again I believe you would resist."
Seven of Nine is just full of surprises today, isn't she? The Doctor is left almost speechless. He looks at Seven with a new appreciation. "Yes, I suppose I would," he whispers.
"They would resist as well. They would choose freedom, no matter how fleeting. Only you and I can truly understand that." Chakotay would be proud.
The Doctor nods. "Survival is insufficient," he agrees.
Voyager is still docked at the alien space station. But the novelty of Voyager appears to have dimmed; it's relatively quiet on board now.
Particularly for three passengers.
"It's so...Quiet," the woman says, staring out the window to the empty space beyond.
The young man sounds almost giddy. "I had no idea you were going to say that!" Even though the three stand very near each other, they regard each other like friendly strangers. "I don't know what either of you is thinking!"
The older man squeezes his eyes shut, his face the very picture of gratitude. "I'd forgotten what it was like to be alone with my own thoughts." The way he says it, it's the greatest gift of his life.
He opens his eyes and gives his companions an earnest look. "I'm leaving," he says.
The female is surprised by this. "Where will you go?"
"I want to see the space station. To meet new people. To fill my life...with life again...in the time I have left." He clasps the younger male on the shoulder, and gives the female a meaningful final look. Then, turning to leave, he stands before Seven of Nine.
First, we see the anger. What Seven did to him all those years ago. Then we see a growing smile, at what she's done for him lately. He nods to her, a silent assurance that at least as far as he's concerned, she made the right choice. Seven nods gratefully, and he leaves the darkened mess hall.
The young man then turns to the woman. "I'm leaving as well. There's an uninhabited planet only a few light-years from here. I'd like to spend my final days in the open air." He gives her a warm embrace.
The former Four of Nine also stands before Seven of Nine. "My people don't believe in holding grudges. I wish you well, Seven of Nine."
"Thank you," Seven says sincerely, and the young man leaves.
Seven is left alone with the former Three of Nine--nee Marika Willkara of Bajor, former engineer with the USS Excalibur. The woman seems a bit shocked by the sudden departure of the two people she had been brain-grafted to for nearly ten years
"It's nice to be on a Federation Starship again," she says quietly. "I'd like to stay aboard Voyager."
"The Captain said you may stay as long as you wish."
"You mean as long as I have," she says bitterly.
The former drone continues to look out the window. "I can't forgive you for what you did to us."
Then she turns around. Her voice shrinks, filled with unanticipated loneliness and its associated fear. "But I do understand why you did it."
It takes Seven a long time to react. But in the end, she does what she usually does--and nods. When you don't know what to say, it's often the safest reaction to make.
All good things must come to an end, and soon Voyager is back up to warp speed, headed for home.
Seven of Nine works in Astrometrics, alone as usual.
Naomi Wildman enters. Seven acknowledges her presence, as usual. "Naomi Wildman."
"I thought you might like some company," Naomi says.
Seven stops working and looks down at her. "Why?"
"Because of...what happened with the drones."
Seven fidgets uncomfortably. "I see that word travels quickly."
"It's a small ship," Naomi says with a shrug. "I thought maybe you might want to spend some time with...family."
It's a simple gesture, but a welcome one. Seven nods, Naomi smiles, and they stand together, silently comforted by each other's presence while Seven works.
Full disclosure: I'm still recovering from bronchitis, and I've got a bell choir ringing in my ears, so don't expect too many deep thoughts about this week's episode.
The short take: I enjoyed it.
The horribly misleading promo notwithstanding--how "I will not return them to the Borg" becomes "I will return to the Borg" is beyond me--this wasn't yet another "Seven must choose whether to stay aboard Voyager" episode, for which I'm glad. There were no bad guys this week--just the unfortunate consequences of bad choices.
The flashbacks worked effectively to present a what-if: what happens when drones are left on their own, with no vinculum to rein them in? We saw one scenario in TNG's "I, Borg," but there was human interference there. "Hugh" would have either died or waited to be assimilated, not knowing or caring about other options (we assume), but under Federation influence was able to see another option. Here we see three drones assimilated as adults, who are eager to retain their newly-regained individuality, and Seven of Nine, who would much rather stay a drone. Each made a choice--but Seven's choice was to override the choice of the other three.
Ironically, the three drones' choice to become VERY individual worked against them. Had they worked together to recognize and then calm Seven's fears, to provide "a family" as an alternative to "the Collective" as Janeway and Voyager did, all four may have escaped that night. But each went their separate ways--until Seven's greater determination to not be alone doomed them all to nearly eight more years under the Collective.
Young Seven of Nine's psyche was not mature enough to make an informed choice, so she made an emotional one. The current Seven of Nine still has emotional ties to the Collective, apparently because her pre-assimilation memories weren't so great. From what we saw in Dark Frontier, it's hard to blame her--she probably got more emotional support in the Hive Mind than from her parents. ("It takes a Collective to raise a child"). You could compare the Borg, in this case, to any group that turns the young into True Believers. (Pick your own Bogeyman; the Collective is a conveniently flexible metaphor.)
The Seven of Nine we know has learned to appreciate her adult individuality; she reacts negatively to things that used to give her comfort--crowds, telepathic links, etc. She no longer wants to go back. Seven now understands what she didn't that long-ago night, but what her three colleagues did--and she now also understands what she denied them.
Torres helps Seven see she has issues she needs to deal with. Janeway encourages her to help them, because "they're family." Chakotay asks her what she'd do if she had to choose for herself--a long life without freedom, or a short life lived free. Doc argues for a long life, but Seven helps the Doctor understand, in terms he can relate to in one of the episode's best moments, exactly why "survival is insufficient."
Seven doesn't have the opportunity to undo a wrong; there's no undoing it. Neither option she's given is ideal. And she's not given absolution in the end, though each former drone makes a separate peace with Seven. The woman offers the most interesting comment--that she can't forgive, but she does understand, because for the first time in many years, she's completely alone. Even if that was the thing she desired most, there was still an aspect of that joined consciousness that she would miss.
The script jumps effectively between the light and serious moments. The scene with Tom and Harry in Janeway's ready room was nicely amusing--she chews them out for getting in a fight, but she doesn't moralize on them. Standard discipline, followed by a wink and a nudge. Shame on you for fighting, but kudos on winning. She managed to dress them down and cheer them up in one fell swoop.
I liked all the performances, the guest stars included. I liked the writing. I thought the direction worked fine. It was a thoroughly watchable hour of television.
Call it (* * * 1/2).
Next week: Bloody Klingon Hell.