The following is a SPOILER Review. If you have not seen the episode yet and do not want to have the plot (and everything else) given away, stop reading now. (But you probably know that by now.)
I reserve the right to be wrong, and to change my mind later. The following is my opinion at the moment I wrote it. And boy, do I have opinions. Kick back, roast up a s'more, because Fatherly Uncle Jim's got a story for ya, which may or may not resemble the episode that actually aired.
Say goodbye to Kes--and Hello to Seven of Nine. "Helloooooo, Nurse!"
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
Voyager crawls through space, its partially assimilated hull glowing Borg green in a dozen places.
The vaunted Trek Reset Button has apparently not been pressed this week.
Cargo Bay Two remains dark, sultry. But the activity of the previous week is nowhere in evidence. No drones move at the Collective command. We see a lone drone, at rest in her sleep-chamber. Seven of Nine, severed from the Collective, last seen comatose in Sickbay.
To even the untrained eye, the Borg seems...less Borg than before.
The cargo bay doors open, and three people enter. Janeway, Doc, and Tuvok.
"So...how's the newest addition to our family?" Janeway asks.
Doc says the human in her has kicked into high gear--every system is racing towards her pre-assimilated state. But her innards are still infested with Borg implants. "There's a battle being waged inside her body," he concludes, "between the biological and the technological. And I'm not sure which is going to win."
Janeway orders her revived. A hypospray later, Seven of Nine's eye (she has only one--the other is a Borg scanning prosthesis) flutters open.
The BorgCam shows us Seven's first image: an unsmiling Captain Janeway, arms folded, eyes locked on. A brief pan-right to Doc and Tuvok, then back to the Captain.
"Captain Janeway," Seven drawls, her sense of superiority dripping like warm bacon grease from each syllable. "What have you--"
Her eye goes wide. She steps forward with the click of her separation from the sleep mechanism. Her confidence vanishes with each sharp exhalation.
"The others, I can't hear the others...the voices are gone." Seven's voice is hollow, frightened...small. The voice accustomed to speaking for and with billions, now utterly alone.
Janeway explains that the neural transceiver that linked her to the Collective has been severed, and why.
"You will return this drone to the Borg," Seven states. It's closer to a plea.
"I'm afraid I can't do that.
"You will return this drone to the Borg!" Seven spits. It's closer to a threat.
"If I turned back into Borg space I'd be putting this crew at risk. I'm not prepared to do that." Janeway then breaks out the Federation brochure: you're staying with us, you'll be happy and free from the Collective and part of a family, chocolate cake for breakfast, champagne wishes and caviar dr-
"You will supply us with a subspace transmitter and leave us on the nearest planet," Seven demands. "The Borg will come for us."
"It's too late for that. Your human cells are starting to regenerate; you won't survive without medical care."
"We need nothing from you. We are Borg. We--" Her right hand flies to her skull and she doubles over in transparent agony. Doc scans her and says that a Borg skull implant is being rejected--it must be removed now or she'll die.
"You will suppress the human immune system!" Seven demands. Doc explains that it's too late for that.
"No!" Seven says, lashing out at Doc and Tuvok, struggling in vain while the hypospray goes to her neck. "We are Borg! WE ARE BORG!!!"
As the drugs on Seven of Nine take effect, Janeway's eyes reflect her awareness of the enormity of the task ahead. This is no grateful survivor of Borg assimilation. Seven will fight for her return to the Collective every step of the way.
But never let it be said that Cap'n Kate doesn't love a challenge.
* * *
In sickbay, Tuvok and Doc hover over the now-unconscious Borg. Doc, scanning the offending skullplate, says that it's connected to the body at over three million junctures. He decides its safest to remove the outer layer of the skull itself.
Doc moves toward a piece of equipment, but Tuvok is in his way. He respectfully requests in his voice of Medical Command that Tuvok back out of the way. "This Borg is a security risk," states Tuvok flatly. "Not while she's unconscious, and isn't going anywhere. Back off." Tuvok takes two small steps back. "Thank you," Doc says dryly.
Doc tells Kes to anaesthetize Seven's skull, and gives her the name of the drug. "Yes, Doctor," Kes says. She turns toward the hypospray, which is across the room.
The hypospray, saving her the trip, launches itself toward her, and ends up in her hand. It was a nice catch; that hypospray was hauling.
She looks at it, nonplused. Doc's mouth goes wide. Tuvok takes two larger steps forward. The ever-present security officer--this one a short but focused brunette female--draws her weapon, just in case she gets to shoot something.
She explains to Doc that she thought about the hypo, and there it was. Tuvok asks if she's been practicing her telekinetic abilities lately; "not for months," Kes says. She admits that lately she's been sleeping less, has more energy, feels strange in a good way--Doc scans her and says that her serotonin levels are 62% above normal, and that the parts of Kes' brain responsible for her mental powers are hyperstimulated, "like a few days ago when you were in contact with Species 8472!"
Tuvok asks if she's in contact with them again. Kes considers the possibility, but says this feel different. "Perhaps she's experiencing some sort of aftereffect," Tuvok suggests.
"A reasonable diagnosis...for a security officer," Doc mutters with a roll of his eyes. He tells Kes what tests he wants to run on her...but first, there's a dying Borg to deal with.
In Janeway's ready room, the color green is in strong evidence. Perhaps it has always been there. But after you've spent time with the Borg, you become sensitized to the color green. The trim of her furnishings, the genuine imitation leather that upholsters the seats, even the darned illuminated plant on the display table behind Janeway conspire to keep green on the mind. Only the Command Red of Janeway's shoulder pads offers a counterpoint to the sea of green and chrome.
Janeway is seated at her desk, staring raptly at her computer terminal, sipping from her cup of coffee. The whole pot is a mere arm's reach away.
The door chimes, and she yells Come In. Chakotay enters with a status report. The crew is stripping Borgstuff (armor plating--why get rid of that? I'd keep it!) from the hull, but that Torres is having problems de-Borging the engine room. And until they do, they're stuck at Impulse. "She requests that all personnel with level-3 Engineering rating or higher be added to the labor pool."
Janeway grants the request--and since she also has that rating, I wonder if we'll see the captain get her hands dirty; she's done so before in a crunch, and seems to enjoy the work. But she doesn't volunteer just yet. "What about tactical?" she asks.
Chakotay says that transwarp signatures of passing Borg vessels over their position are less than three days old. "So we're not out of the woods yet," Janeway notes. Chakotay says it's hard to make much repair progress with all those Borg implants.
Janeway gets an idea. "Seven of Nine could help with that."
Chakotay notes she's not in the most cooperative mood. "That could change," Janeway says. "I just have to reach her somehow."
She smiles and swivels her terminal screen toward Chakotay. "Annika Hansen," she declares with a flourish.
Chakotay's eyes go wide. "Our Borg?" He shifts forward in his seat, leans toward the screen.
Janeway says she did some digging and found a single entry in the records of Deep Space Four. "Her parents were..unconventional. They fancied themselves explorers, but wanted nothing to do with Starfleet or the Federation. Their names were last recorded at a remote outpost in the Omega sector."
Her eyebrows dance. "They refused to file a flight plan," she said, apparently deciding that if nothing else, she can detain Seven of Nine on a trumped-up breach of flight protocol over twenty years old. Chakotay, who had been reading Annika's file, turns to stare at Janeway at that news.
"Apparently, they aimed their little ship towards the Delta Quadrant and were never heard from again."
Chakotay suggests that Annika and her parents may have therefore been the first humans the Borg ever assimilated. Janeway notes that it happened almost twenty years ago (eighteen, to be exact). Janeway moves from Chakotay's side, and stares out toward the viewport, arms folded.
"So she was raised by the Borg," Chakotay notes, standing, talking to Janeway's back, speaking in his gentlest voice. "It's the only life she ever really knew. If you were thinking of bringing her into the fold, that might not be possible."
Janeway whirls around. "What's the alternative? Toss her back to the wolves?" Her eyes flare; Chakotay meets her gaze as long as he can, then blinks.
Whoops--there's still trouble in Paradise.
Doc hails Janeway at the perfect moment. "We have problems," he reports. Janeway says she'll be right there.
Doc and Kes hover over Seven of Nine, while Tuvok and the security female maintain a respectful distance.
Doc is working his instruments carefully, and manages to peel off a large skullplate, revealing brain tissue and more implants underneath. "It's like peeling an onion," Doc says with a self-satisfied smirk.
He places it on a tray. "Store it in a bio-stasis chamber," Doc tells Kes, who nods and takes it away.
"It may still be active, Mr. Tuvok--you might want to throw one of your little forcefields around the chamber," Doc adds dryly.
"A prudent security measure...for a doctor."
Touche. Doc chuckles at the nice bit of sparring.
Janeway enters. "Report."
Doc explains that there's a difficult decision to make--Seven of Nine's human systems are roaring back with a vengeance, and the Borg parts are being rejected en masse. The time has come to remove the implants, or let her die. Janeway says deborging her is the last thing Seven wants. The Borg has clearly stated that she wants to be returned to the Borg, or left to die, and if asked would refuse (has already refused) treatment.
"Hence the dilemma," Doc says. Ordinarily, he would never treat anyone--even a terminal case--if that was their wish. He's ethically obligated by programming, and by conscience, to honor the patient's decision.
Doc needs a reason to treat Seven of Nine, and only Janeway can give it.
"This is no ordinary patient," Janeway says. She essentially invokes guardianship rights--Seven is with us now, and underneath the hardware she is human, whether she's ready to accept that or not. And until she is, someone needs to make those decisions for her.
"Proceed with the surgery," Janeway orders. Her voice is low; she understands the magnitude of her decision, knows that Seven of Nine will deeply resent the decision at first. "Aye, Captain," Doc says solemnly, and Janeway exits.
The steps are resumed to assimilate Seven of Nine back into the human collective. Annika Hansen's body has already begun the process, shouting freedom from cell to cell, organ to organ, casting off the shackles of alien technology even as her mind rages against the betrayal of the flesh.
Doc calls for Kes; they'll begin with some implants in her esophagus. Before he can begin, though, Seven of Nine begins to flop around on the table. Hands clench, back arches, body flails for relief from some unseen attacker. Doc checks a monitor--she's going into neural shock.
Tuvok and the other security officer pull their phasers.
Doc tells Kes to stabilize her motor cortex. He rushes back to the patient, medical instruments in hand.
Kes, hands clasped behind her, steps toward Seven of Nine almost serenely.
Doc repeats the order. "We need to stabilize her cortex or we'll lose her!"
"Wait," says Kes, "I can see it." Doc's confused. "I think the problem is in her Caligulae." (Those darned Roman Emperor body parts...) Kes concentrates, and the KesCam enters Seven's head, shrinks, zooms in, and soon we're taking a close-up of nerve tissue deep inside the drone's skull. An octopus-like star of technology has wrapped its tentacles around a bit of flesh.
"I see a Borg implant--it's pressed against her trochlear nerve." Doc asks if she knows how they can remove it without severing the nerve. "I think I can do more than tell you," Kes says--and in her mind's eye, the implant sparkles to life, detaches from the nerve--and begins immediately to decompose.
Seven of Nine's spasms end as quickly as they began. She collapses back onto the bed.
Doc scans the Borg, notes with shock that the implant is deteriorating. "Nice work, Kes," he says, unable to keep the awe from his voice. "Unconventional, but effective."
For her part, Kes acts as if it's the most natural thing in the world to see inside someone's head and perform surgery beyond even 24th-century reach, something she's never done before. She continues to regard the Borg, no doubt peeking inside, looking for more toys to break.
It is at times like this that Kes' alien heritage is most evident. She stands with an otherworldly look about her, oblivious to the bustle around her.
Heck, if I'd pulled off a hat trick like that, I'd have been doing the end-zone dance around sickbay, head-butting Tuvok and asking rhetorically, "who da man?"
* * *
Doc plops an eye on a pedestal before Janeway. Bluish-grey. With wires hanging out the back.
"They say the eye is the window to the soul," Doc says expansively. "In this case, it's a little bit more." He explains that the ocular implant will use some of the Borg technology, and that Seven of Nine will end up with even better sight in that eye. He also points out that he worked hard to match the pigmentation of the iris exactly.
"Excellent work, Doctor; I admire your attention to detail," Janeway says sincerely, and Doc beams at the compliment.
She asks when she can speak with Seven. Doc says she's out of immediate danger and he doesn't plan to resume the extraction process until tomorrow, so they can chat at any time. Janeway says there's no time like the present.
Kes enters with a tray of instruments, smiling placidly. Janeway asks how she is, and Tuvok--senses heightened by Kes' recent actions--approaches as well.
"I feel exhilarated," Kes says. Her abilities are stronger than ever, she's never been so focused in her life.
"Your performance was astonishing--but your powers are still undisciplined, and therefore unpredictable," says Tuvok, ever suspicious of the unexpected.
Janeway asks what he suggests. Tuvok says the usual regimen of focused meditations. Kes consents, and Janeway approves.
Doc and Janeway move to Seven's bed. We see some changes since last time--far less hardware on her skull, nearly all of her left eye hardware removed, a significant amount of her human coloring returned to the lower part of her face. Her impossibly form-fitting leather outfit is now missing in several places throughout her body, now showing pinking skin and duct tape.
Meet Edwina Scissorhands.
Doc administers a stimulant, and soon Seven's eye flutters open. After the initial disorientation, she sits up--revolted by the changes she feels and sees in herself. "What have you done to me?" she growls--a deep-voiced, anguished cry.
As Seven examines the changes in her, Doc explains that her body was rejecting the Borg technology--she was dying. That they had begun the removal of Borg technology to save her life. Pointing to the duct tape, he says the strips are "derma-plastic grafts" that will aid the regeneration process.
"Unacceptable!" Seven mutters. In the past, she's said it with the force of collective Borg will. Now, she says it with all the force of a mewling kitten. She begins to understand that in THIS collective, her voice holds almost no power of persuasion.
Seven's gaze locks on Janeway, whose own eyes are operating at maximum power. Seven leaps from the table and advances on Janeway, who takes a few steps forward of her own.
"You should have let us die," Seven rasps.
"I couldn't do that," Janeway whispers.
"This drone cannot survive outside of the Collective," Seven shouts.
Behind the captain's shoulder, Doc raises a finger, cheerfully pointing out that her prognosis is excellent. "With the Borg implants removed, your human systems are free to thrive--and thriving they are," he says happily. "As a matter of fact, I--"
Janeway does an over-the-shoulder, high-intensity burst of The Look.
Doc's Mute button is activated instantly. He turns around and runs away.
The female security officer bursts into flames.
Three audience members in Fort Madison, Iowa, sitting a little too close to the screen, will never be able to look a redhead in the eye again without screaming incoherently. A pity; one of them is a redhead. Before the hour is up, every mirror in her house is shattered in self-defense.
Janeway returns her gaze to Seven of Nine; they stand toe to toe as the security officer stops, drops and rolls.
"I want to help you," Janeway says, "But I need to understand what you're going through."
"Do not engage us in superficial attempts at sympathy," Seven hisses.
"It's obvious that you're in pain, that you're frightened, that you feel isolated, alone..."
"You are an individual," snaps Seven, taking another step forward. "you are small." (Is it just me, or is Seven of Nine obsessed with size?) "You cannot understand what it is to be Borg!"
"No. But I can imagine," says Janeway, not unkindly. She begins a tight orbit around Seven, a catlike gesture we've seen her use so often around Chakotay. "You were part of a vast consciousness; billions of minds working together. A harmony of purpose and thought; no indecisions, no doubts; the security and strength of a unified will."
I couldn't have said it better myself. If the Borg need a spokesdrone--or a Queen--Janeway could indeed fit the bill nicely. Her words, her tone, her expansive description touches Seven of Nine more deeply than she could have guessed possible. Bulls eye.
"And you've lost that," Janeway concludes, tenderly.
"This drone is small now...alone," Seven whispers, the voice of pure, agonizing isolation. "One voice. One mind." She leans forward on the diagnostic bed, mentally exhausted.
"The silence is unacceptable," she says, her voice rising, her eye squeezed shut. "we need the others!"
"I can't give you back to the Borg. But you're not alone; you're part of a human community now; a human Collective! We may be individuals but we live and work together. You can some of the unity you require right here on Voyager." Janeway's passionate description of the Borg collective pales before the fervor with which she peddles her own. She leans forward on the bed herself, locking her gaze on Seven.
Seven seems deeply moved by the words, seems desperate to cling to them--to anything. "Insufficient," she says at last, but there is no power in the word. It's a plea.
"It'll have to do," Janeway says in her Command Voice, then softens. "And the fact is, this community needs you." Janeway describes the engineering problems with the Borg modifications to the ship. "We need your expertise, your cooperation."
Janeway's tilted head snaps back to a ninety degree angle from her shoulders. Her eyes turn flinty. Her voice hardens beyond the level of diamonds. "You must comply."
Now she's speaking Seven's language. Seven stares at her in open-mouthed appreciation.
In Engineering, Torres tells Harry and a blonde woman I've never seen before that she's degunked the plasma whatzits (I love that technical stuff) and is ready to fire up the warp core.
The huge blue lava lamp cylinder in the center of Engineering begins to pulse with life, make throbbing noises, rises to 22 Cochranes, and then...chug to a halt.
"This is like pulling weeds--" Torres rants.
"You have neglected to remove the autonomous regeneration sequencers," Seven of Nine interrupts, as she and Janeway (and the ubiquitous security folk) enter the picture.
"You remember Seven of Nine," Janeway says by way of introduction.
"How could we forget?" says Harry, a little too enthusiastically, running a full visual scan on the Borg and her shredded outfit. (At the moment, she looks like Tank Girl.)
Janeway explains that they can't afford to delay repairs further, and that Seven has agreed to help remove the Borgstuff from Engineering. "She only has a few hours, I suggest you put her to good use." Janeway's voice is so even that Torres knows any argument will get her demoted, if not deboned.
"You can start with the plasma relays," Torres says, all business, no hint of reservation in her voice. She begins to give directions, but Seven interrupts her by specifying the location down to the millimeter. "We fully recall the engineering specifications of your vessel."
I guess we know where she'll be ending up on the duty roster. Engineering seems to get all the hard cases...and you either adapt, or die. Just ask Seska, Jonas, Suder, Hogan, three uppity shuttlecraft...
Torres stares hard at Seven. "Good; can you also remember how the stuff looked before you turned it into a Borg circus?"
"Yes," Seven drawls, her own one-eyed gaze no less fiery.
Harry thanks his lucky stars that he is at least ten feet away from the ocular pyrotechnics.
"Now that the pleasantries are over," Janeway says with a smirk unmatched by the flint in her eyes, "get to work. I want updates on the hour." Torres acknowledges, and the business of technic cleansing resumes with a new addition to the effort.
We can almost hear Harry Kim's "thank you, Great Bird of the Galaxy" as his hands clasp and his eyes dart skyward.
She's out of your league, Boy-o. Don't even think about it.
We see a small, ornate, lute-shaped lamp, its tiny flame casting shadows on a brownish surface.
"The flame of the lamp is fire disciplined--tamed and under control," we hear Tuvok drone, the voice of ritual. "It is the appropriate focus for the task ahead of us."
We see Tuvok and Kes kneeling in the dark of his quarters across a glass table. The lamp rests on a swath of cloth.
"How do we begin?" Kes asks quietly. He says he will attempt to guide her to manipulate the flame at the subatomic level.
Ummm...Mr. Tuvok? I hate to bring this up, but the last time you let her play with fire, your face melted....
The dude's got guts, I'll give him that.
"Try to see past the surface, past the light, to the patterns of energy and matter..."
Kes' eyes get all droopy-like, as she focuses on the fire. The KesCam zooms in, and soon we see the dancing molecules in a sea of living orange.
"I can see the essence of the fire," she says.
"Now reach out with your mind, and intensify the flame," Tuvok says, leaning back just a little.
Kes scrunches her face a tad, and the KesCam shows the molecules moving faster--flung faster in a shower of subatomic sparks.
The flame intensifies.
Tuvok takes a deep breath, pats the fire extinguisher to his left. "Okay...now, reduce the flame the same way."
We see Kes concentrate, and we pan back to see the two of them as the flame shrinks to its original position.
"Excellent," says Tuvok. "You've never demonstrated this level of control before."
"It was as though I knew what had to be done, and--" Kes says...then goes silent.
"What's wrong?" Tuvok asks, concerned.
"Something's happening," she says. "I can see further, beyond the subatomic."
"Kes--there's nothing beyond the subatomic."
"But I can see it, Tuvok." And what she sees, we see. "It's a new level of reality. It's beautiful."
"Perhaps we should stop for now.
Wait a few seconds--I want to try to control it.
The lamp begins to shimmer. Not the flame--the whole lamp. It is as if the solid of the wood has gone liquid, and is rippling in the flow of unseen currents.
Tuvok's brows begin to flutter.
"Don't worry, Tuvok, I know what I'm doing."
The lamp continues its motion, before returning to its original state. Kes looks at Tuvok with an eye of satisfaction. Tuvok's eyes betray something different. More concerned.
The Koreans have a phrase: "bluer than indigo." The student outshines the teacher. Kes has seen farther and done more than Tuvok was prepared for. His Vulcan calm is disrupted ever-so-slightly.
Torres points to something inside one of the walls of Engineering. "What about these linkages? Every time I pull one out another takes its place," she says.
"Autonomous regeneration sequencers. Designed to counteract resistance." Harry asks how they came up with that neat bit of hardware. "We came up with nothing," Seven says. "We assimilated this technology in Galactic cluster three, from Species 259."
"I'm not interested in a history lesson," Torres snaps. "How do I remove it?" Seven tells her. Torres tells Seven and Harry to work on the plasma relays in the Jefferies tube.
Alone at last, eh, Harry?
"I'll start here," Kim says, picking a Borg thingie with cables sticking out of it.
He makes small talk, asking about Species 259. She ignores him.
"I guess the Borg meet a lot of people, don't they?" Seven stares at him, then resumes working. "Stupid question," Harry mutters to himself.
"So what's it like out there in Galactic Cluster Three?" he asks pleasantly.
"Beyond your comprehension," she says without looking at him.
"Try me,." he offers with a smile.
Seven turns to him, and delivers the following in rapid-fire report: "Galactic Cluster Three is a transmaterial energy plane intersecting 22 billion omnicordial life forms."
"Oh. Interesting," Harry says, standing there feeling like a complete idiot. He moves quickly to another section of the Jefferies Tube, putting distance between himself and the cold-as-ice drone.
Seven notices something in the wall. Her BorgCam focuses in on the tiny lettering of a tiny piece of equipment: "Communications Node, Starfleet ID 59S47B." Sans-serif monospace font.
No, I'm not making this up. We got us another 47 reference.
"Ensign Kim," Seven of Nine says, her voice far less hostile now. "Your assistance."
Kim turns around, and is promptly backhanded with enough force to knock him out of the Jefferies tube and into the security officer. Both go down, and Seven of Nine's fingers begin flying over the system console.
"Captain," Paris says, "Someone is trying to access the subspace transmitter." Janeway barks orders and countermeasures, but as Torres and Chakotay and the bridge crew soon realize, nobody beats a Borg bent on phoning home.
Tuvok tells Kes that her abilities have moved beyond the limitations of the Lamp Meditation. He has a suggestion, but Kes comes up with her own. She can sense something's wrong, and focuses in on the problem: "The Borg is trying to contact her people."
Tuvok hails security and asks the bridge for an update, then heads for the door.
"Wait," says Kes, "I think I can stop her."
Seven of Nine stops working when she notices the wall is dissolving. And that the rippling effect is moving towards her.
The console unleashes a blue arc of energy. Seven of Nine is thrown violently to the deck.
"It's over," Kes says.
Tuvok hails the bridge. Janeway says that there was an explosion in the Jefferies tube just before the transmission was sent. "We don't know the answer," she admits.
"I believe I may have an answer."
Tuvok regards the young woman standing near him as the alien that she is. Once again, her mind has gone to places he cannot even fathom.
But as chief of security, he can fathom the implications.
* * *
Janeway and Tuvok walk Voyager's hallway. Janeway notes "by the expression on your face" (which Tuvok naturally denies) that he's got something on his mind. Tuvok offers two reasons for concern: Seven of Nine's message did at least partially get through...and Kes' unconventional means of stopping the Borg weakened the structure of the deck at the molecular level. He says Kes wants to continue to develop her newfound abilities--something he considers dangerous to both her, and to the ship.
"I've got an Ocampan who wants to be something more, and a Borg who's afraid of becoming less. Here's to Vulcan stability."
They arrive at the brig. Janeway asks Tuvok to wait for her while she visits Seven of Nine.
Seven notes Janeway's entry while pacing within her cell.
"So this is human freedom," she snarls.
Janeway says she's decided to keep Seven here for the time being--will have Doc treat her from here if necessary--until she's convinced the Borg won't try to endanger the ship again. "I honestly believed you were willing to help us," Janeway says, the edge in her voice replaced with disappointment.
Seven considers her next words. "You were not deceived, Captain Janeway. It was my intention to help you." She sounds sincere, solemn.
"There was a chance to contact the Collective; I took advantage of it."
Seven moves towards the force field. "Your attempts to assimilate this drone will fail. You can alter our physiology but you cannot change our nature. We will betray you; we are Borg."
"I've met Borg who were freed from the Collective," Janeway says. "It wasn't easy for them to accept their individuality, but in time they did. You're no different.
Seven of Nine walks away, as Janeway continues to speak. "Granted, you were assimilated at a very young age, and your transition may be more difficult--but it will happen."
"If it does happen, we will become fully human?" Seven asks softly.
"Yes, I hope so."
"We will be autonomous, independent?"
"That's what individuality is all about," Janeway says.
"If at that time we choose to return to the Collective--will you permit it?"
Nice move, Seven.
"I don't think you'll want to do that," says Janeway quietly, wisely avoiding the answer for now.
Seven whirls on Janeway, advances once again toward the force field. "You would deny us the choice, as you deny us now! You have imprisoned us in the name of humanity, yet you will not grant us your most cherished human right--the right to choose our own fate!"
Seven's indignation is back in force. "You are hypocritical, manipulative. We do not want to be what you are! Return us to the Collective!"
Janeway's voice could make liquid nitrogen shiver. "You lost the capacity to make a rational choice the moment you were assimilated. They took that from you. And until I'm convinced you've gotten it back, I'm making the choice for you. You're staying here."
Seven's one-eyed gaze is filled with hurt. "Then you are no different than the Borg."
Interesting perspective. It's one of the first negative things Seven of Nine has said about the Collective. Believe it or not, it's a good sign.
Neelix brings two glasses of moon-ripened Talaxian champagne ("your favorite") to the table. He and Kes are the only occupants of the mess hall. It's their first moment together in months, since before their breakup.
He's saved it for a special occasion, he says (apparently Kes' newfound abilities are the reason for the moment). "Remember when we last sipped this together?"
"Three years ago, when we first arrived on Voyager."
"Do you remember the toast?"
"Yes--'To the adventure.'"
"To the adventure," Neelix repeats, saying it anew. They toast, they sip.
"When you left Ocampa, you said that your people were being held back--that if you were only given the chance you could become something so much more. And you have."
"I know things haven't worked out exactly the way we planned," Kes says.
"I was only holding you back; that's obvious to me now."
"No," she insists. "I couldn't have come this far without you. And I love you. I always will. It's just that--" She struggles to find the words.
"My cooking; you've always hated my cooking," Neelix suggests, melodramatically.
Kes laughs; "Yes, that's exactly what it was."
Neelix laughs along. The real reason (assuming his cooking isn't) remains forever unspoken.
"So...tell me more about what's happening to you; what does it all mean?"
"I don't know and that's what makes it so exciting," she says, her voice devoid of excitement. It's as if I can see into a place where the distinction between matter and energy and thought no longer exists. And that's only the beginning; I feel as if all the boundaries within me are about to fall away."
Neelix sits back in his chair. "It sounds--" he stammers. "Umm..interesting."
I only have to look at an object--gaze at it--and I can begin to see that the space between the atoms is being filled with something else."
She stares at the table between them. It begins to go liquid, as do the champagne flutes. Neelix blanches a bit.
"I can see...I can see..."
Neelix stands as the effect begins to expand, engulfing the whole table. "Kes, stop!"
"No," says Kes, looking up, too caught up in her sub-subatomic discovery to see what's happening at the macro level.
And with that word, Neelix is flung backward.
"Neelix!" Kes shouts, and rushes to his side--
Only to be brought to her knees halfway there.
Harry Kim announces that some strange energy readings are emanating from the Mess Hall. Janeway hails Neelix, but receives no response. Kim announces that the structural integrity of the mess area is failing; Chakotay orders force fields to compensate.
Janeway and Tuvok head to the mess hall.
They find Neelix only now rising to his feet. Kes is still on her knees, looking skyward with a beatific expression on her face, hands held upward in a meditative, expansive gesture...and an upper body shifting from translucence to transparency as upward-surging molecules leave the impression that she's beaming herself up to parts unknown.
The effect recedes; Kes clasps her hands in her lap and slumps, looking tired but not concerned by her astral journey.
Janeway and Tuvok share a worried look, then move to Kes' aid.
* * *
Sickbay. Doc presents his report to Janeway and Tuvok. He says he's run every test imaginable, "short of dissecting her brain." He reports that her synaptic activity is increasing, "but I don't know why--or how to stop it." He asks about internal sensors.
"For 17.4 seconds, Kes' body went into a state of cellular flux," Tuvok says (a dyslexic 47 reference!) "She began to destabilize at the subatomic level."
"And for some reason, her atoms reestablished their bonds and she was back in one piece," notes Janeway, reading the Doc's report.
But what about the next time? Her condition is escalating. We must find a way to suppress it, or the last we'll see of Kes could very well be her molecules blowing through the ventilation ducts."
Janeway orders ship-wide strengthening of the structural integrity fields; "if it happens again I'd like to avoid a hull breach." Tuvok nods and exits. Janeway suggests that Doc broaden his horizons; they're beyond the medical and into particle physics." Doc says he'll download the appropriate files.
Kes sits while Doc studies. He comes in and tells her she's free to go until he can come up with more tests. She offers to stay and help with the research. Doc tells her to go get some rest.
"Please let me stay," she begs quietly. "I haven't seen you much the past few days; I miss you."
Doc smiles kindly. "All right; just for a while." She smiles back warmly, and Doc's smile broadens.
Alone behind the brig's force field, Seven of Nine paces in frustration. Ensign Ayala is on watch.
Seven comes to some sort of decision--and storms the force field. She seems less intent on breaking free than on harming herself. Once, and then again, and again, she slams into the field, which resists, shifting from transparent to translucent to block any further forward progress.
Janeway is hailed on the bridge by Ensign Ayala (who, for the first three seasons, has as many lines of dialog as Morn on DS9. In the "you talk, you die" Voyager theory, this means the poor guy's days are numbered--but I hope not). He tells her she'd better come down to the brig.
As if Janeway doesn't have enough on her mind already with Kes.
"One," Seven mutters to herself.
Janeway enters. Seven notes her entry and turns her head, but stands with her body to the far wall.
Seven's voice is hollow, barely audible. "My designation is Seven of Nine--but the others are gone. Designations are no longer relevant. I am...one."
"Yes, you are."
"But I cannot function this way. Alone." She begins to sob.
"You're not alone; I'm here to help you."
"If that's true, you won't do this to me. Take me back to my own kind."
"You are with your own kind--humans."
"I don't remember being human. I don't know what it is to be human!" She continues to sob, holding her head with her left hand, in dire need of comfort.
Janeway picks up a data padd and walks to the brig controls.
"What are you doing?" Seven asks, shocked at what she thinks is about to happen.
"I'm coming in," says Janeway, tapping at the controls and receiving answering chirps.
"I'll kill you," Seven hisses.
Janeway locks her eyes on Seven of Nine. "I don't think you will," she says finally, then completes the unlock code as Seven stares at her.
Ayala draws his weapon and advances, but Janeway raises a hand to let her proceed. Ayala stops. Janeway steps through the entryway, slowly, keeping a wide berth between herself and the young Borg. She presents the padd at arm's length, for Seven to see.
"Do you remember her?" she asks, as she displays the image of a smiling blonde girl, maybe five years old. "Her name was Annika Hansen. She was born on stardate 25479 [That's THREE!] at the Tendara colony."
Seven of Nine stares at the picture.
"There's still a lot we don't know about her. Did she have any siblings? Who were her friends? Where did she go to school? What was her favorite color?" By now, Janeway is almost shoulder to shoulder with the Borg, who stares, lost in thought. The music recalls childhood, summer vacations, puppies and ponytails, birds and butterflies.
From the diaphragm comes a low growl, which reaches a crescendo as Seven shouts, "Irrelevant!" She backhands the padd out of Janeway's grasp.
Janeway takes a few quick steps backward. Ayala, outside the cell, aims his phaser.
"Take me back to the Borg," Seven pleads/demands.
"I can't do that."
"So...quiet! One voice..." Seven wails, hunched over, grabbing her silent skull.
"One voice can be stronger than a thousand voices. Your mind is independent now with its own unique identity."
"You are forcing that identity upon me; it's not mine!"
"Oh yes it is!" Janeway says with quiet force. "I'm just giving you back what was stolen from you. The existence you were denied; the child who never had a chance. That life is yours to live now!" Janeway is now nose to nose, looms over Seven. Ayala's phaser never wavers.
"I don't want that life!"
"It's what you are," Janeway rasps. "Don't resist it!"
"No!!!" Seven says, and with one move focuses all her anger on Janeway, slamming hard into the captain, taking the wind out of her. Janeway's mouth goes wide in shock and pain, and remains that way for several seconds.
The fight has now utterly fled from Seven of Nine, who staggers to her knees, and is helped to the brig's bed by the stunned but determined captain. "No," she gasps in anguish, as Janeway holds her tightly by the waist and shoulder, giving her all the support she dares as the fury and frustration of the Borg's dashed existence empties out in a torrent of grief.
* * *
Voyager continues on at impulse. The hull is still marked with numerous Borg modifications.
Captain's log, supplemental. Warp drive is still offline, and we don't know whether the Borg have detected us. Kes' psychokinetic abilities continue to damage the ship's structural integrity, and as a result our defenses have been compromised.
Kes sits quietly in her quarters, with an unreadable, alien expression of absolute understanding on her face. The door chimes; she welcomes in the captain before seeing that it's her.
"You wanted to see me, Kes?" Janeway says as she enters, then notices the lamp and the cloth on the glass table. "Ah! Tuvok's meditation lamp! I was with him when he got it, six years ago, from a Vulcan master--who doubled the price when he saw our Starfleet insignias."
"I'm sure it was the logical thing to do," Kes says simply, and Janeway laughs. She sits beside the young Ocampa.
"I've been thinking about everything that's been going on, and I know what I have to do. It's time for me to leave Voyager."
"Something important is happening to me, and I want to explore it. But I can't stay here any longer; I'm a danger to all of you."
"We're going to get to the bottom of this; the doctor is already working on a new approach--"
Kes shakes her head. "Everybody thinks that what's happening is a medical condition; that's not it at all. I'm going through a transformation. I don't know how or why, but every cell in my body is telling me that I'm changing into something more."
"But what if it's not true? What if you're simply being swept up in the excitement of what you think is happening, but it's not real? On the basis of a feeling, an intuition, you're asking me to let you go...quite likely forever? Kes, I just can't do that."
"It's my decision; my fate. Would you really try to stop me?"
"No," Janeway admits, shaking her head with a sad smile. "But argue with you, even plead with you to reconsider? Absolutely, for as long as it takes."
"It won't work," Kes says with a kind smile, and the start of a tear.
"Look at me, Captain. I'm the same Kes you've always known. I haven't lost my judgment, I'm not under some alien influence...I believe something crucial is happening to me, and I want to see it through."
"You've lived most of your life here. Voyager has been your home, and you've been a vital part of this family." Janeway caresses Kes' cheek. "Oh, I'm going to miss you."
They hug--long and close and dewy-eyed and knowing that it is likely the last they will ever share. A mother bidding her child goodbye.
"Now all I have to do is tell the doctor," Kes says smiling as Janeway covers her laugh with both hands. "He's not going to be happy."
Janeway frowns as Kes begins fading out. She grabs Kes' hands.
Kes returns to solid form. "It's starting."
Janeway slaps her combadge. "Janeway to bridge."
Janeway orders a shuttlecraft prepared, and asks Tuvok to meet them on deck six.
"Kes is leaving us."
Chakotay looks back at Tuvok, who nods and exits. A shocked but silent Paris looks over his own shoulder at an equally stunned Harry Kim.
Janeway assists Kes through the corridors.
"I can't stop it," Kes says.
To prove her point, the wall behind them explodes.
Janeway hails the bridge and orders an emergency transport to the shuttle bay.
Kim tries, but Kes' molecules are too unstable.
"It looks like we're going to have to do this the hard way," Janeway tells Kes. "Hold on."
They run through the corridors now. Bulkheads continue to explode near them.
The hull begins to shimmer as Tuvok's lamp and Neelix's table and the Jefferies tube had done. It's impressive--and worrisome. The "USS Voyager, NCC-74656" (yeah, yeah, there's another one) on the hull looks like a flag flapping in the wind.
Paris notes that the hull is destabilizing at the molecular level.
Tuvok arrives in time to perform a quick mind meld on the rapidly destabilizing Kes. "I can't go further," Kes tells him.
Our minds are one...our thoughts (he groans) are one...try to regain control for a moment...only for a moment...only for...a moment--"
Tuvok breaks the meld and cries out as he collapses against the wall. "You must hurry," he says.
Kim calls out hull breaches on decks three, four and five. Chakotay orders emergency containment fields.
Janeway hails the bridge and says Kes is inside. She orders launch.
A shuttle leaves Voyager.
Paris announces that it's 100,000 kilometers way and increasing at one-quarter impulse, as the shaking on the ship subsides.
Janeway arrives on the bridge and orders contact established with the shuttle.
"It's happening...it's happening to me," Kes says over the channel.
Harry reports that Kes' molecules are completely destabilizing.
On the shuttle, Kes bears an expression of complete serenity as light suffuses her entire being.
My gosh--she's full of stars.
As the light consumes her, she says, "My gift to you."
Light fills the shuttlecraft. Then exceeds its capacity. The shuttle shimmers, then disappears (does not explode; simply merges with the light) and the light continues to expand.
Torres reports from Engineering that the warp core has just come online--with a vengeance. Matter-antimatter reactions at 102%...and rising. At 120%, Torres' voice begins to shake.
As if shot from a cannon, a blue-lighted Voyager begins accelerating faster than even its vaunted engines have taken it before.
"This can't be happening," Paris shouts. "Our speed is--it's impossible!"
"We're coming apart!" Kim shouts.
Voyager hauls some major hiney for a few seconds, trailing streaks of matter and energy even transwarp-capable vessels would envy. The orchestra swells--whatever is happening, it would appear to be a good thing, despite the whole-lotta-shakin-goin-on inside the ship.
Then as quickly as it began, Voyager begins to slow to speeds the crew can comprehend.
"We just dropped out of--whatever it was we were in," Paris announces at last.
"Systems are coming back online," Chakotay reports.
"On screen," Janeway orders.
The forward viewscreen shows a nebula stretching out before them. A nebula that hadn't been there before.
"Where are we?"
"Nine-point-five thousand light years from where we just were," Paris breathes, unable to believe his readings.
Tuvok looks at Chakotay.
Chakotay looks at Janeway.
"She's thrown us safely beyond Borg space," Janeway whispers, smiling. "Ten years closer to home."
That's my girl.
Voyager flies past some purple haze. The Borgstuff on the hull is dimmer now.
In Cargo Bay 2, the smoky floors and shadowy dimness highlight a creature at once familiar, and not. Gone are nearly all the Borg implants; gone is the leather outfit. In its place, a metallic-blue catsuit as tight as was the leather, and a crown of golden blonde hair.
Seven of Nine strikes a pose in the darkness, viewing her hands through her new human-implanted mechanical eye.
The Borg is dead. Long live the human.
The door opens; Doc, Janeway and a security officer enter.
"I've extracted 82% of the Borg hardware," he explains. "The remaining bio-implants are stable and better than anything I could synthesize on such short notice."
Seven of Nine turns toward the Doctor. "It is acceptable," she concludes. We see her face; a star-cluster implant covers the right cheek below the ear; some portions of her left eye are still surrounded by machinery. But by 24th century standards, it looks more like fashion than function.
"Fashion, of course, is hardly my forte. Nevertheless, I've managed to balance functionality and aesthetics in a pleasing enough manner."
Janeway smiles, pleased by the Doctor's efforts, and the results. Seven of Nine look not only human, but breathtaking.
"I also took the liberty of stimulating your hair follicles," Doc says, "a vicarious experience for me, as you might imagine." He smiles at his little joke; Janeway offers one in return.
Doc seems in remarkably good spirits considering Kes' so recent departure. Has the mourning been handled already, or does it lie ahead?
Janeway turns to Seven of Nine. "You'll need to spend a few hours each day regenerating in a Borg alcove until your human metabolism can function on its own; we'll leave one operational."
"Understood," says Seven, looking remarkably calm.
"Let's see how things go over the next few weeks; I'll consider granting you access to the rest of the ship once I can trust that you won't try to get us all assimilated again."
"It will not happen again." She looks sincere.
"Good," Janeway says. She holds up a combadge. "If you need anything, contact me." She hands the combadge to Seven of Nine, then walks toward the door.
"Red," Seven says, her back to the door, before Janeway is out of earshot.
"The child you spoke of; the girl. Her favorite color was red." Seven walks toward her alcove, as Janeway pauses to consider the development.
Red. Not green.
Red. The color of command. The color of a certain captain's hair.
There's hope for the girl yet.
Alone in his dimly-lit quarters, Tuvok takes the lit meditation lamp. Holding it briefly in both hands, offering a silent thought, he places the lamp in the windowsill. ["I'm Tuvok Bodett for Motel 74656...we'll leave the light on for ya."]
The camera pulls back. We see Tuvok's quarters, and those on either side of his, and still the camera pulls back to show the whole of Voyager--largely de-Borged now, and traveling in completely unfamiliar territory.
Thanks to the efforts of an extraordinary, oh-so-misunderstood young woman.
In case you were wondering...Kes is leaving the ship.
Not only that...Jennifer Lien is leaving the series.
Her name missing from the credits last week and this might have been our first clue.
However, she may not be gone completely--her name is listed as "also starring" next week as well.
It's been a little over three years...and what a long, strange trip it's been.
Let's take this a piece at a time.
If you're a Kes fan, this may be a bittersweet farewell. You may ask whether she deserved an episode all to herself, and whether this episode did her character justice.
It's a fair question. The episode didn't even include a proper eulogy (though I fervently hope that will be addressed next week).
The writers and producers have admitted that one reason Kes is leaving is because they'd run out of ideas for her. "She was turning into Nurse Chapel," one producer said.
I always liked Nurse Chapel. She wasn't part of the first or even the second tier of visible characters, but she was a sickbay fixture, and we knew much about her. Her engagement to Dr. Roger Korby. Her unrequited but persistent love for Mr. Spock. Her intelligence and her compassion that later made her a doctor in her own right.
There's nothing wrong with a Nurse Chapel. Or a Deanna Troi, for that matter, another character Kes was compared to more than once. But Kes could have been so much more, was billed as such in "Caretaker."
An alien. Nine-year lifespan. A species whose ancestors were believed to possess wondrous mental powers--powers long since lost, and now even disbelieved. Kes, an elfin girl of fragile appearance who possessed a will that could move mountains and stare down her planetary elders. A creature who was far more than she appeared to be. Not the bubble-headed blonde bimbo many feared, but a sultry-voiced ten-month-old near-adult, a female Wesley Crusher with a good deal more personality and ears that would make a Ferengi trade all he possesses merely to look at them and consider it a profitable deal.
And then...she became a gardener. A medical assistant with bedside manner utterly lacked by the doctor. A friend to the friendless. Her mental powers were largely unexplored, though the occasional premonition forwarded a plot here, or an anomalous event or alien influence tapped into abilities which she alone could not.
She stuck with Neelix far longer than most of us would have liked. Her devotion was touching, if incomprehensible. When she finally did break up with him, it was in an alien-possession story, and none of us knew that the breakup was official until weeks later.
Like a plant, Kes thrived under the light. But when the light was elsewhere, it seemed, she wilted.
Perhaps it is a kindness to let her go.
Janeway got to offer a fitting goodbye. Tuvok, Neelix and Doc all got nice, if abbreviated scenes with her. Paris, her alternate-future husband, got no time at all. It wasn't fair--but life often isn't. She got a more fitting sendoff than Tasha Yar (killed almost instantly by a pissed-off oil slick in "Skin of Evil," she delivered her goodbyes posthumously) and Dr. Pulaski (who got no goodbyes at all).
An enigma while on board, she left the same way--in a flash of light, a rumble of unstable molecules and a "gift" that the crew will not soon forget.
Alas, poor Kes, we hardly knew ye.
Was it enough? I think it wasn't--but if anything gives me hope that Kes will not be Reset Buttoned out of sight and out of mind, it was the way this episode was handled--the events followed the previous week's show by a matter of days, and was essentially a continuation of those events. We get to witness the aftermath.
This episode has altered the ship's situation no less than "Scorpion" did. There's still a Borg aboard, though she looks more like the rest of the crew. The ship is now without a medical assistant; she will have to be replaced. It will most likely not be Seven of Nine, who seems better suited for Engineering. The Borg parts are still there on the ship, though they may be removed over time--though some of the parts, Chakotay said in Scorpion, worked better than what they had. We may see some remain.
Tuvok melded with Kes before her transformation; their minds were one. Did he glean any of Kes' understanding of matter, energy, thought, sub-subatomic reality and the magical means of improving engine efficiency?
The ship is in completely new territory, ten years closer to home. Past Borg space--but not necessarily past Borg influence. They may yet encounter species familiar with--and antagonistic toward--the Borg. And one walks among the crew, still with a Collective-sized chip on her shoulder. They could get as close to home as home itself and still encounter that kind of resistance.
All said, there's a lot that happened this week that can be addressed--however briefly--next week. A memorial service doesn't seem too much to ask. Or Doc chatting with Tuvok or Neelix or Paris about the woman that had touched them all.
Meanwhile, Harry Kim will no doubt continue to drool over Seven of Nine, until she returns his affections or stomps him like Beetle Bailey after he crosses the sergeant.
In many ways, this show is about family--much as was the episode immediately following TNG's "The Best of Both Worlds." But the title, "Family," was taken, and the family here is virtual.
Janeway's first words of the episode ask about "the newest addition to our family," Seven of Nine. She treats Seven of Nine as a foster daughter--a troubled, traumatized child too fragile to be allowed to make her own decisions for the time being. She treats Kes as a grown-up daughter prepared to leave the nest, too soon for Kathryn but in her proper time all the same.
Seven of Nine asks to leave, and is refused--denied her choice until Janeway feels she has the capacity to understand her options.
Kes asks to leave, and Janeway says she'll argue, cajole, plead for her to stay--but will not compel.
Mama Bear is protective to a fault, but she does what she thinks is best for each of them.
And for the ship. Seven stays because her departure could endanger the ship. Kes leaves because her proximity is no less a danger.
In each case, Janeway acts in the best interests of her family as a whole, and for each child in turn.
We can almost hear Seven of Nine say, "Mom always liked you best."
Seven of Nine. Wow.
The camera was still awfully kind to her this week. The Aeon Flux treatment to her outfit looked good on her, but I tried to contain my commentary this time around. By episode's end, she was in the catsuit we're likely to see her in for the immediate future, form-fitting and outrageously inefficient (bathroom breaks must take hours). She looks hot. Way hot.
But the real scoop is how much life she's pouring into the character. This Borg has spirit and soul--powerful enough to overwhelm even the costuming. The intensity of her facial expressions, the force of her voice in the thrall of myriad emotions.
Let the network suits chirp about the babe factor. If the writing and the acting continue at this level, I won't care.
Janeway and Seven of Nine together are electric. Tension fills the room. Security guards reach instinctively for their phasers, expecting mayhem from one or the other at any moment. Anger and hurt and hope and pleas for understanding rumble under every syllable that passes between them.
Janeway is a formidable woman, a captain with a will as fundamental as earth, wind and fire.
And Seven of Nine, even in her terribly vulnerable state, recently divorced from the support of billions of Collective minds, was almost a match.
Expect these two to not get along much in the weeks ahead. But if they ever do...look out.
The tensions which surfaced during "Scorpion" are still there. Janeway and Chakotay are still walking on eggshells around each other, though not quite as much as the week before. Doc and Tuvok were a bit more overt in their mutual barbs. Torres and Seven of Nine looked like they might launch themselves at each others' throats. Kim tried to generate a little friendly conversation with seven of Nine, but was disappointed--though I think he'll try again.
The Voyager family has come a long way the last three years. They traveled more actual permanent distance this week than they have the previous three years combined, but the real progress has come in the friendships formed. They may be strained at the moment--and they may be tested further with the loss of the ship's greatest peacemaker, and the arrival of someone new and hostile. And we expect to see at least one romance bloom this year, beginning next week.
And to think, it was only three episodes ago that we had "Worst Case Scenario," a show celebrating the familiarity and comfort level and community they'd achieved so far, even while commemorating a time when they were strangers in each others' company.
They're not back to square one, but they're not far from it, either. It's a whole new ballgame.
As to the issue of Seven of Nine, and her wish to return to the Borg or die.
Janeway is used to making life and death decisions. For herself, her crew, her ship--and sometimes, the whole darn galaxy. It's right there in the Starfleet Captain Oath. All alone, carrying a little piece of the Federation with you, an ambassador as well as an explorer and a warrior and a parent and a philosopher-king/queen. The divine right of royalty may not be referred to as such, but in practice the Captain's behavior takes on that quality.
In this case, Janeway assumes guardianship of a human--one who was abducted as a child and socialized into a very different (but in its own way nurturing) community, and lived there for twenty years. Call it brainwashing, call it kidnaping--call it adoption. Whatever it is, it's deeply entrenched, and any steps away from it will inevitably be traumatic.
Picard and the Enterprise had altered Hugh a good deal more, and they returned him to the Collective. Voyager might have done the same--had Jeri Ryan not been added to the cast. A way had to be made to bring her aboard, and keep her. If Janeway's actions are controversial--they are not out of character.
And because of that, they work.
Seven of Nine argued passionately for her return. And her barbs at Janeway stick--there is some truth to them. Janeway is attempting to assimilate Seven of Nine as surely as the Borg had, and her methods are no less irresistible. When Janeway says, "you must comply," she echoes the voice of the Queen the Borg had once followed. It is a voice of authority and order and unity that she so desperately needs. It may not be the same as what she's been taken from, but in its way it is all that and more.
The funny thing is, most of us do our best to SILENCE the voices in our heads. I know I've got mine; I've got so many I had to install Voice Waiting. What's really annoying is when I get someone else's voices.
But I digress.
This episode was touching. Whether it tugged at your heartstrings, or plunged tinfoil into a filling--it was touching. Depends on your perspective, I suppose.
Me, I was touched in a good way. I reached the credits feeling warm and fuzzy. Honestly, I think we could have taken two episodes to tell both of these stories, but the way it was handled didn't seem overly rushed. Kes' transformation was abrupt, but in a way it had to be. It made it shocking to the crew, and before they even had time to grieve, Kes had given them reason to celebrate.
We assume that Kes isn't gone for good. She's gone the way of Wesley and the Traveler, and possibly tapped into the same understanding of that deeper reality that the Organians, the Metrons, the Q and others we've met over the decades appear to have discovered.
Perhaps Tuvok has an inkling of her ultimate fate. The mind meld linked them, and his lamp on the windowsill suggests as much a beacon as a memorial.
Neelix's scene with Kes was touching, though "your cooking" seems a silly reason to break up. I imagine Kes spared his feelings...though maybe not. His cooking is the stuff of legend.
I would have liked a final goodbye with the Doctor, and with Tom Paris--though perhaps a posthumous scene, a memorial service or a private chat between those who cared for her most, will work better.
On a scale of 0-10, I'll give this one a 7.75, or (* * * 1/2). A real keeper for the character interaction between Janeway, and her two "daughters."
Next week: Paris and Torres fans, your wait is over.