The following is a SPOILER Review. I tell you pretty much everything that happened in the episode, so if you want to be surprised when you finally see it, leave now. Otherwise, welcome aboard, pull up some shuttle debris and enjoy the ride.
I rate each episode based on how much I enjoyed it. I don't claim to be accurate or objective. But with luck, you'll enjoy yourself along the way.
So kick back and roast up a s'more. Fatherly Uncle Jim's got a story for ya, which may or may not resemble the episode that actually aired.
Seven of Nine gets possessed by Edgar Allen Poe. Janeway almost respects alien territory.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Jump straight to the Analysis
Janeway is in the da Vinci holo program. Da Vinci, however, is not, which makes sense. There are times when she wants the inspiration of the Maestro she grew up with--his inventions--but still wants time to herself to think, to explore creative diversions, to escape the 24th century for a while. I'm sure we'll see Leonardo again, but not today.
Janeway is not alone, though. Seven of Nine is here, her metallic blue outfit replaced by a somewhat less intimidating fuzzy brown number--still form-fitting, but far more comfortable than her previous attire. Janeway is engaging in a bit of mentoring with the recovering Borg, using the medium of...sculpture.
For a creature raised on efficiency and relevance, sculpture seems an...intriguing choice.
"Don't fear the clay," Janeway instructs Seven.
"I fear nothing," Seven says.
Janeway explains that she shouldn't worry overmuch about making mistakes--sculpture is a creative process, but one in which the mind is often the mute observer rather than controlling authority. "Let your hands and the clay do the work." She hands Seven a lump of clay, and suggests that the nose of the sculpture--a semi-recognizable human head--could use a little strengthening.
Seven takes the clay, and plops it onto the nose of the sculpture, then looks at Janeway. "Happy now?" she doesn't say. The captain knew this would be an uphill effort, so she smiles patiently and tells her to keep going. With a half-hearted effort Seven pokes and pinches at the clay with a single finger, noting that this is all a huge waste of time.
Uh oh. Lecture time.
Janeway says "working the clay" helps her to relax. (That holo Patrick Swayze she added without telling Leonardo probably doesn't hurt.)
Seven says relaxation is a foreign concept to her. "As a Borg, my time was spent working at a specific task. When it was completed, I was assigned another. It was... efficient."
[The Borg are sounding more and more like the cubicle drones of Corporate America every week..."Free time is irrelevant. Life outside work is irrelevant. Hobbies are irrelevant. You will be evaluated." The Borg are the logical conclusion of...Dilbert.]
Janeway claims her time spent here is also efficient--one needs to Get a Life every now and then. (The pleasure planet Kirk and Company found in "Shore Leave" suggested that the more advanced and sophisticated a society becomes, the more vital its need for "play.") Janeway also suggests that Clutter is the Mother of Creativity...but I think she's just making excuses for the messy Maestro.
Speaking of creative diversions, Janeway says, "They're an important part of one's life because imagination frees the mind. It inspires ideas and solutions and it can provide a great deal of pleasure. Human progress... the human mind itself couldn't exist without them." She tells Seven that da Vinci was one of her great childhood inspirations--that she had herself built many of the items in Leonardo's workshop as a child, to emulate the Maestro.
"He was a very busy man," observes Seven, looking around the workshop, not entirely unappreciative of the collected, diverse mass of creative effort.
"Oh, yes, a prolific artist and a scientist as well. Far, far ahead of his time," Janeway agrees. She points Seven to the early prototype of Leonardo's airplane, hanging from the ceiling.
It prompts a reaction. But one neither expected.
Seven sees herself, as she is now. Running. Chased by Borg, who tell her in the Collective voice she will be assimilated. There is fear on her face as she runs. She is in the claustrophobic confines of a ship's interior, at least partly Borg.
She also sees a big, black bird with an impressive wingspan, flying through those same corridors, striking terror into her every cell. She hears the screeching of the bird, and another high-pitched wail.
Seven is finally shaken back to her consciousness of the Holodeck by Janeway, who asks her what's wrong.
"I don't know," says Seven, her voice trembling.
The Borg is back and there's gonna be trouble
Hey na, hey na, the Borg is back!
* * *
In Sickbay, Doc examines Seven while she describes the "series of disjointed images," which have now occurred three times. "I felt fear. Each experience is similar--I'm pursued by the Borg. They want to assimilate me. I'm... I'm running from them, and then... and then, each time, I see... a [large, black] bird, flying toward me shrieking... attacking me."
Doc says she's showing the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder: dreams, flashbacks, hallucinations. Janeway says it makes sense: "You were assimilated by the Borg. You've gone through an intense, prolonged trauma."
I guess that's one way of looking at it.
"I was not traumatized--I was raised by the Borg. I don't see them as threatening. Why would I experience fear?"
Two sides to every coin. Every rose has its thorn. Just like every night has its dawn. Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song...
[cough] Sorry. "Poison" album flashback. Talk about post-traumatic stress....
Doc says he doesn't know if the hallucinations will continue, but will keep monitoring her progress. In the meantime, he says, her digestive system is "fully functional" and it's time she started utilizing it.
It's suppertime, suppertime, sup-sup-suppertime! (Happy Snoopy Dance)
"Oral consumption is inefficient," notes Seven, who is no fan of inefficiency.
"And unnecessary, if luck made you a hologram," Doc notes with a smirk, prompting Janeway to make a face and shake her head. He hands Seven a PADD with a recommended menu of nutritional requirements. "Take it to Mr. Neelix in the mess hall. I hesitate to inflict his cooking on you but it'll have to do." Doc has never "enjoyed" Neelix's repasts...but he's healed enough crewmen who have to know whereof he speaks.
Seven still appears discomfited by her recent experiences. "I do not enjoy this sensation. Something is happening to me and I don't know what it is. It's as though I'm being driven somehow."
Chakotay hails Janeway regarding the B'omar, whose space Voyager needs to pass through to avoid a multi-month detour. And you know how much Janeway hates taking the long way around. Janeway admits to seven that the B'omar are being "difficult" about the whole thing, but she has hope that they'll come around eventually. She tells Seven she'll be all right, and that "we'll help you through this."
Janeway leaves Seven alone in Sickbay, looking less composed than she has since "The Gift."
Janeway, Chakotay, Paris and two representatives of the B'omar Sovereignty sit in the main conference room. The two B'omar, dressed in black, Cubist-inspired outfits and wearing leather headgear with the wire-frame skeleton of a motorcycle mask (or Mickey Mouse ears) adorning them.
They look like snooty little pukes. But first impressions can be deceiving. Let's listen in, shall we?
They have indeed agreed to consider Janeway's request for passage through their space. But they have...conditions. "You'll have our complete cooperation," says Janeway. "We expect nothing less," says the B'omar.
They pull up a map Voyager is expected to follow--which avoids populated areas, industrial centers, military complexes, tourist traps, scenic routes...
Put it this way. You know those "Family Circle" Sunday comic strips when Jeffy takes the "long way home"? Picture that in 3-D.
Actually, don't bother--the map is 2-d. Apparently the Delta Quadrant is missing a Z-axis. (Remember those way-cool three-dimensional navigation images TNG used to do way back when?)
This "shortcut" might take longer than the three-month-detour around B'omar space.
And that's not the end to the conditions. "while in our space your vessel will not exceed warp three, and your weapons systems will remain off-line. You will avoid unnecessary scans and you will not conduct surveys of any kind. You will make no attempt to explore our space and you will avoid all communications with nonmilitary craft."
Yep. "Snooty little pukes" seems an appropriate judgment of these jerks.
When the lead B'omar, Chancellor Gaumen, mentions the "seventeen checkpoints where you will submit your vessel for inspection," Janeway decides to redefine "complete cooperation." She thanks them for their efforts, but suggests a somewhat more...direct path.
Gaumen looks amused. "As if," he doesn't need to say.
The B'omar plan isn't a favor. It's a hazing ritual.
Neelix is chopping vegetables when Seven appears at the door, looking like she'd rather be somewhere else. His face lights up, and he immediately springs into Morale Officer mode, grabbing her warmly by the elbow and leading her further inside, offering to show her around. Seven says she's here to eat, and hands Neelix the Doc's prepared list of dietary requirements.
Neelix looks them over: "250 grams glycoproteins consisting of 53% polypeptides and 26% fibrous glycogen... ugh! Doesn't sound very appetizing. However, a plate of my chadre-kab (that's Talaxian for "scalloped potatoes") should satisfy most of these essentials while providing a pleasurable culinary experience at the same time!" He's always happy to introduce people to the wonders of Talaxian cuisine.
"Pleasure is irrelevant," says Seven, only to be difficult; the last time she was in the mess hall, with Harry, it seemed quite relevant.... Naturally, Neelix begs to differ. "A good meal involves much more than simply providing the proper nutrients." Seven asks why, and Neelix finds himself trying to explain the obvious. "There's a certain satisfaction that comes from eating food that's been carefully prepared. I'm sure once you try it, you'll understand."
He asks how she'd like her chadre-kab. "Boiled? Baked? Stir-fried?"
"Preparation is irrelevant."
"'Is irrelevant,' of course," Neelix echoes. "Maybe, maybe not." He notes this is her first meal in 18 years or so, and suggests they stick with something simple: steamed. As he prepares the meal, he chatters in his traditional way, providing the life-history of her breakfast in a way that even Tuvok deems irrelevant. "This recipe has been in my family for generations. It's considered a delicacy among my people."
Now...Borg assimilate. "My people" is her people too, often as not. And Seven, being relatively new to this humanity thing, hasn't yet learned the relevance of tact.
"You are Talaxian," she observes. "Guilty as charged," chirps Neelix, unsure where this conversation is headed. "Species 218," she adds. "Well, I suppose so," says Neelix more softly, beginning to understand where it could be headed. "Your biological and technological distinctiveness was added to our own," she says flatly. "A small freighter, containing a crew of 39 taken in the Dalmine sector. They were easily assimilated. Their dense musculature made them excellent drones."
Oh, Seven...Never, never freak out the cook. He might spit in your chadre-kab.
For his part, Neelix seems not to take it too personally, though it's clear the news shocks him. "Well... lucky for you, I guess," he mumbles. He wills the food to steam quicker, and it complies. He plops her food on the plate and escorts her to an empty table, taking a vase of flowers with him.
He dealt with that better than we had any right to expect, I think.
Seven is new to the whole dining process. Neelix has to take her through step by step, starting with "taking a seat." Seven confirms what I'd suspected: Borg don't sit. (Laps are irrelevant.) He finally gets her to sit, but she doesn't seem fond of the new position, and says so. He then steps her through the motions--pick up the spork (I'm serious--it's a dang long-handled, fancy-pants, 24th-century spork!), shovel up a bit of grub, lift it up like Mr. Crane, and pop it into your mouth "just like a little scout ship flying into a shuttle bay."
She does..and she looks adorable! Someone should be taking pictures of this; Borg's First Solid Food! We're talking Gerbers labels, folks.
"Take it out. Keep your mouth closed. That's right. Now, you chew-- chew, chew, chew, chew, chew-- and swallow." She'd been keeping up with him to that point...but "swallow" doesn't compute. He tries to show her by swallowing dramatically.
She finally groks, and swallows. "Curious sensation," she observes, and Neelix smiles. He'll assimilate her taste buds yet. She takes another bite. But she seems...preoccupied. "May I bring you something else? A soothing cup of tea, perhaps?" Neelix asks helpfully.
She stares downward, as if through the table.
She sees a Borg, its mouth open wide. Screeching like a large, black bird.
Neelix looks in shock as something crawls under Seven's skin--and erupts. Some folks get pimples from the food they eat...Seven of Nine breaks out in Borg implants. Her hand now features an asterisk of Borg technology, similar to the one on her face.
"You will be assimilated," she breathes, as if to herself.
Then she notices Neelix, of Species 218. "Resistance is futile," she says. She stands up like good Borg do, and shoves Neelix backward.
He has the sense to stay down as Seven stomps out of the mess hall, and the crew rushes to his aid.
* * *
Chakotay overlays the "suggested" B'omar course with the Starfleet alternative--curvy, but far more direct. "what about this course? It's a marginal adjustment. The nearest populated system is more than three light years away."
The two B'omar, arms folded, enjoying being as difficult as possible, look at Chakotay like he's a fool. Which he probably is, for wasting time with these two. They could spend the whole three months just negotiating with these weenies.
"Definitely not," huffs Gaumen. "You'd pass directly through the Agrat-Mot Nebula--a key resource in our trade negotiations with the Nassordin."
Like we care, headgear boy.
Paris says he could chart a course around the nebula--
"No, no...Are your translators malfunctioning?" Gaumen drawls snidely, eliciting a nasty chuckle from his fellow B'omar. The captain, Chakotay and Paris do their best to resist the temptation to drop a snaggle-toothed Tribble down their shorts.
The Tribbles are placed on standby when Tuvok calls Janeway to the bridge. "Seven of Nine," he reports, has gone postal. She's attacked Neelix and three other crewmen already. Janeway tries to hail Seven, as Chakotay orders Tuvok to head a security team to track her down as he takes over at Tactical.
Chancellor Gaumen demands to know what's going on. Janeway says "we don't know" in a tone that suggests he shut the heck up for now.
Seven of Nine hears Radio Free Borg loud and clear. She's been shot at by security, but her personal shielding is active. The blasts don't even make her jiggle. She doesn't waste the effort to laugh at their puny efforts, or to smack them for their troubles. She just keeps walking toward her destination: the armory. They fill Janeway in on the development.
"You have Borg on your ship?" shouts the B'omar chancellor. (Do you get the impression that the B'omar were considered too annoying to assimilate?) Janeway says yes and no. She's ex-Borg.
"Then how come she's got Borg shielding?" "Ummm..."
Seven grabs Janeway's favorite DeathMaster 3000 Spank Ray with Kung-Fu Grip and marches toward a turbolift. (I gotta say: I'm in love. She looks even better holding that thing than Captain Ja--
What am I saying?)
Soon, only Tuvok and his team are in Seven's way. And they're carrying their own Janeway Brand boomsticks.
Seven exits the turbolift, and finds herself surrounded on three sides by Security types armed to the teeth. Tuvok tells her to lower her weapon, but she just looks too darn good holding it. Tuvok orders open fire--but her shields are holding. Then she takes out two of the security types (just wounded) and narrowly misses blasting Tuvok's face off. She then walks toward the shuttlebay, leaving Tuvok to report their results.
Kim tries to put a forcefield around the shuttlebay, but Seven knows her way around the ship's computers. She beams aboard a shuttlecraft.
Janeway orders the doors sealed.
Seven drives right through it. The door explodes in a roughly shuttle-shaped way. (Excellent effect.) She flies right off, and masks her ion trail so following her will be difficult.
I've seen people react badly to Neelix's meals...but this is ridiculous.
* * *
Janeway and Chakotay meet with the two B'omar in her ready room. She asks for permission to enter their space to retrieve her shuttle and her crewman.
The two B'omar look at each other, really enjoying what they're about to say.
"Let's tally the events, shall we? First you arrive, uninvited and unwelcome, requesting a shortcut through our space. Then you proceed to unleash some sort of rogue Borg. And now you want us to help you get it back."
Well...if you want to put it that way...
Janeway doesn't entirely rise to the goading. She suggests they work together to--
"Captain Janeway," the chancellor says with gleeful disdain, "after what I've seen here I question your competence."
That got her attention.
"May I remind you that you're still on my ship."
They point out that Voyager is one vessel, and they have far more than that, in case she gets any ideas. "Your Borg will be dealt with quickly and efficiently. It's being tracked as we speak." The other B'omar explains that "every vessel, every object, every particle of dust that crosses our borders is immediately identified and traced by our perimeter grid." The chancellor concludes simply, "The Borg will be found... and destroyed."
"Chancellor..." Janeway says dangerously.
"There will be no sharing of information. From this point on your vessel will maintain a distance of at least five light years from our borders. Any deviation will be considered an act of aggression."
Guess who just wore out their welcome.
"Commander," Janeway instructs Chakotay without wasting another look at the B'omar, "escort our guests to the transporter room."
Captain's log, supplemental. I've assembled a team to analyze every square meter of the cargo bay. This has essentially been her quarters for the past two months. I'm determined to find something that might shed some light on Seven of Nine's actions.
Cargo Bay Two hasn't been this bright in months.
Gone is the Borg mood lighting. Gone is most of the Borg equipment. The cargo bay is swarming with Starfleet officers and crew, poring over every millimeter of the area.
Torres is here, and Harry Kim, doing their part for captain and country.
"You're taking this kind of hard, aren't you?" Torres asks, half-teasingly.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Kim asks defensively. She wiggles her eyebrows at him. "We had a working relationship," he insists. "Well, what's that supposed to mean?" Torres tosses back at him.
"It's not what you're thinking," Harry insists.
"What am I thinking, Harry?" she asks, as she moves on to another part of the bay, leaving poor Ensign Love to insist to empty air about the virtue of his intentions towards the Borg chick. (Oops. That's not politically correct. I meant "chyck.")
Torres finds something embedded in the wall, and yanks it out. She calls Kim over to take a look at it, all business. Conveniently, Janeway arrives for a status updatet. "It's a Borg data-link," Torres reports. "It contains a succession of log entries written in Borg alphanumeric code."
"I'm getting pretty good with the Borg language," Harry says. "I think I can translate them."
Harry, my man...you got it baaad.
Janeway suppresses a chuckle--his crush has to be the worst-kept secret on board--and tells Harry to get on it.
Chakotay arrives with an update on the B'omar: they've doubled their border patrol and cranked up the sensitivity of the perimeter grid by 36%.
Janeway's eyes roll dramatically. "So much for diplomacy," she remarks dryly.
Chakotay also says the Doctor has some news for them about Seven's condition when she transported to the shuttle, and the two head for sickbay.
"Maybe this was inevitable," Chakotay suggests. "Even if Seven did want to stay on Voyager her Borg nature may have won out. We can remove implant after implant but maybe at her core she'll always be part of the Collective."
Janeway's expression tells us how much she likes that suggestion. And it's nice to see that this is still a bit of a sore point between them. "Scorpion's" wounds are still healing. "I won't accept that," she says as they step into the turbolift.
"She was responding to us--interacting with people outside of the Collective for the first time. She was adapting to this environment and to this crew."
Don't mess with Mama Janeway's adopted offspring, tattoo boy.
"But where is she going?" She asks rhetorically. Chakotay has an update on that as well; no evidence of Borg ships within 40 light years. He suggests that she might try to take the shuttle back to Borg space. Janeway doubts it--a 10,000 light year journey in a shuttle is likely to take a few thousand years. (Oh, and sure, she's going the wrong way--but maybe there's a jump gate or transwarp conduit or pay phone or something.)
"Something else is going on. We're missing a piece of the puzzle," Janeway says.
Chakotay agrees. But "in the meantime, the B'omar intend to find her and if they do, she'll probably resist them."
But isn't resistance...?
"One more reason for us to find her first," says Janeway, as they reach Deck Five.
"What have you found, Doctor?"
"Something most peculiar," he says, directing their attention to a screen. "This graphic represents the matter conversion data from seven of nine's last transport. There's a concentration of Borg organelles in the bone marrow and lymphatic tissue. Dormant nano-probes in Seven of Nine's cells have reasserted themselves. They've taken over blood cell production and they're growing new Borg implants. 13% of the borg technology I removed three weeks ago has regenerated in a matter of hours."
In short: Chakotay's suggestion has some merit. "Once a Borg, always a Borg" may be more than just a bumper sticker.
Janeway asks what reactivated the nano-probes. Doc says he doesn't know, but he does have a way to stop them. He shows a hypo-spray that will neutralize the little buggers.
"That means someone needs to get close enough to do it," Chakotay notes.
Janeway enters the bridge, bearing the hypospray. Tuvok and Paris are brainstorming at the Tactical station. Tuvok reports that the B'omar perimeter grid is sophisticated, but not enough for them to be that smug about (it couldn't possibly be...) Paris says Voyager can't go in undetected--but a shuttle could, with a little tweaking of the shields and a coast across the border.
Janeway commends them both and approves the plan. She hands Tuvok the genetic resequencer and tells him it should keep Seven sedated until their return.
"Once you're in the perimeter," she adds, "there will be no communication with Voyager. You'll be on your own."
Tuvok states the unfortunate possibility that Seven's Borgstuff will overcome even Doc's latest bit of biological wizardry. Janeway acknowledges this soberly, and gives Tuvok permission to "stop her...with any force necessary" if it comes to that. Tuvok understands.
Seven of Nine flies through B'omar space, daydreaming on the job. She sees the Borg reaching for her as she cowers under a desk. She hears the screeching of birds and the voice of the Collective, calling her by name and by assignment: "Seven of Nine...Grid 9-2 of Subjunction 12. You will be assimilated."
The visions retreat to the background as the shuttle's console beeps. She has company--a dozen or so B'omar vessels, armed for Borg.
* * *
"Borg drone," announces one particularly irritating B'omar--he must be a commander, "you have committed an infraction against the B'omar Sovereignty. Cut power to your engines and lower your shields. Prepare to be boarded. You will proceed no further! We will..."
Cooperation is irrelevant. Phasers, however, are quite relevant.
She responds in a relevant fashion.
The first wave of the vaunted B'Omar cavalry gets stomped like the dance floor in a discotheque on Country night. Seven's pretty darned good in that thing; maybe they ought to let her take ALL their shuttles out. She might actually bring them back intact.
The B'omar nurse their wounds as Seven continues on her way.
In the other shuttle, Tuvok detects the brief battle between the B'omar and Seven, and the outcome. It looks like Seven was efficient--no B'omar casualties, though five ships are plenty banged up. Paris finds the shuttle, and Tuvok orders an intercept course.
In no time, they catch up. Seven can't be transported because of her Borgstuff, but Tuvok's got another idea. Taking the hypospray, he tells Paris to beam him over to her shuttle.
Paris protests. "I don't think that's such a good idea, Tuvok. Close quarters...Borg against Vulcan. No offense, but you don't stand a chance if she decides to put up a fight."
"It's my hope that the element of surprise will work in my favor. Do you have a better idea?"
Paris considers other options. "Come to think of it, no." He follows Tuvok's instructions and beams her to the back of Seven's shuttle.
She's waiting for him.
Strength for strength, it's fairly close. But Tuvok goes for the ole Vulcan Neck Pinch. Seven deflects it--and employs one of her own. Tuvok's lights go out with a very surprised look on his face.
"Come on, Tuvok... give me a sign," mutters Paris.
In response, the other shuttle slaps him silly.
Disabling it, naturally. Paris swears and gets to work making repairs.
Tuvok wakes up to find Seven of Nine piloting the shuttle. The hypospray is nearby. He approaches the front, but notes the tell-tale crackle of a force field. "That's a level-five force field, Lieutenant," Seven says. "I suggest you be more careful."
Tuvok asks why she left Voyager. "I am Borg," she replies. (What--not "We are Borg?") Tuvok says she was Borg, but is now human (as she was before she was Borg). "And you're part of our crew."
"For a brief time, I was human," Seven says. "But I have come to realize that I am Borg. I will always be Borg."
She doesn't sound that happy about it.
"What prompted this realization?" Tuvok asks.
"Every Borg ship is coded to emit a distinct resonance frequency to guide drones who become separated from the Collective...I am following a signal. A Borg vessel is waiting for me." Tuvok says they scanned the entire region and found no sign of Borg ships. "You're wrong," she says. "They are here."
She stands and approaches him through the force field. "Vulcan. Species 3-2-5-9. Your enlarged neocortex produces superior analytical abilities. Your distinctiveness will be added to our..." she cannot finish. Tuvok calls her name questioningly.
"No," she says, voice barely above a whisper. "I will not assimilate you. Once I have returned to the Collective you will go back to Voyager and tell Captain Janeway what's happened to me. Thank her for her patience... for her kindness."
Mama Kate's little girl is growing up.
"Curious," notes Tuvok. "Your behavior demonstrates affection and sentiment. Traits of humanity...hardly Borg."
Seven turns her back to Tuvok, leaning heavily against the back of the pilot's chair.
"You've been experiencing hallucinations, flashbacks," Tuvok asks. She says Yes. "Does that usually occur when a resonance signal is activated?" he asks. No, she responds. He seems to be getting through to her.
The Collective voice calls to her, and an obsidian avian eye stares straight into her soul. "Seven of Nine, Grid 9-2 of Subjunction 12."
"But I can hear them...calling me. I'm frightened." Her words are barely audible.
"That's understandable," says Tuvok kindly. "Lower the force field. We can return to Voyager and find out what's happening to you." He notes her on the edge of agreement. "I am your shipmate. We can return to Voyager together."
The Voice asserts itself. Seven listens.
"I must rejoin the collective." She returns to her seat and resumes piloting.
Nice try, Tuvok. Very nice try indeed. It didn't work, but I'm impressed.
Captain's log, supplemental. I've been trying to retrace Seven of Nine's footsteps...Her actions during the last few days. But I'm still no closer to understanding what's happened.
Perhaps you remember those promos before Season 4 began that showed Janeway in a Borg alcove, with a blank look on her face. It suggested all manner of possibilities for the premiere.
Turns out, it was just Janeway playing Frank Black in Millennium, trying to get into the mind of Seven of Nine. Those sneaky devils....
Ensign Kim approaches with a PADD in hand, asking politely if he's disturbing the captain. She assures him he's not. He tells her he's deciphered Seven's log entries. "There's nothing that indicates she was planning to leave the ship. The entries are pretty unremarkable. She describes her daily routines, the number of hours spent regenerating, that sort of thing.
"There were some personal log entries. Mostly observations about the crew's behavior." He shuffles his feet a bit, coughs, then proceeds. "I'm...mentioned in quite a few of them. Apparently, she finds my behavior...easy to predict. Whatever that means."
Yeah, whatever. "Hi. I'm Har3ry-read-me-like-a-book Kim." He knows exactly what it means. And so does Janeway. But she lets him off easy. "Don't take it personally. Coming from Seven, that's probably a compliment." They share a laugh, and Harry relaxes a bit.
He hands her the PADD and continues. "The most recent entries are kind of strange. Descriptions of bizarre images--almost like a record of her dreams."
"Maybe so," says Kim. "Sometimes she's in a Borg vessel running...or hiding behind a bulkhead. Falling down a shaft. Borg everywhere, chasing her. Nightmarish Stuff."
Janeway asks about the 'bird' which she remembers Seven mentioning in sickbay. "She mentions it several times," Harry says. "It flies at her, shrieking. I don't know what it means."
Janeway begins reading directly from the PADD.
The feathers are black. Wingspan approximately one and a half meter. The eyes are yellow (note: not the bird we've been seeing--but maybe that bird's agent asked for too much money) and it has a powerful triangular beak. When it looks at me...I am paralyzed. I cannot move. It seems to know me but I don't understand how that's possible. It's merely a bird, an inferior form of life. But the sight of it fills me with fear.
Janeway struggles to find meaning in it all. "It sounds like she's describing a member of the corvidae family. Like a crow, or..."
Janeway's eyes go glassy momentarily. A memory has captured her attention. The orchestra swells.
"Or a raven," she breathes, as if the visions haunting Seven have invaded her own mind as well. She creeps me out the way she says it. The word Raven carries connotations of fear and dread and Nevermore, thanks to a certain American poet.
Crows are pests that steal corn and get confused by scarecrows. Ravens--they're like hawks with Night Rider paint jobs. They haunt your dreams.
"She's describing a raven!" Janeway says, and this means something to her.
"Why is that important?" Kim asks.
Janeway stands and practically throws Harry over her shoulder for a piggyback ride to the bridge. "Because now I know what to look for."
Janeway and Kim march onto the bridge. She's barking orders before the whooshing of the turbolift door stops.
"Chakotay, calibrate our long-range sensors to scan for any Federation signature other than our two shuttlecraft."
"Captain?" asks Chakotay, confused.
"Do it. Bring the ship about, Ensign, and lay in a course for B'omar space."
Action Kate is on duty.
* * *
Seven of Nine's shuttle approaches a yellowish moon. (Hmm--maybe that's where the raven's eye color came from...SYMBOLISM!!! I may be slow, but I'm also dense.)
"The resonance signal is coming from the lunar surface," Seven tells Tuvok as she establishes an orbit. "The Borg are waiting for me there."
She works at some controls, but she appears less than confident in her course of action. "I don't know why I'm frightened. They are my people." Tuvok tells her she can always turn around, but Seven says her fears will go away once she's back in the Collective.
"Deactivate the force field," Tuvok asks again. "I will accompany you to the surface. You don't need to go alone." She looks at him in puzzlement: "you would be assimilated." She doesn't want that to happen.
"I don't believe it will. I think the situation is not what it appears."
Care to share with the rest of the class, Logic Boy?
Seven asks what else it could be. "I am uncertain, but I am willing to go with you to the surface to find out."
Seven lowers the forcefield.
Voyager to Paris.
Why Paris? Tuvok's commanding this mission. Ah well....
"Paris here, Captain. Glad to hear your voice. Tuvok is with Seven of Nine. I haven't been able to establish communication with him since he transported to her shuttle. I've tracked them to an M-class moon orbiting the fifth planet of a yellow dwarf star. I'm picking up an unusual resonance signal from the surface. It's erratic. I haven't been able to identify it."
"Acknowledged. We've detected several B'omar ships closing in on your position. What's your condition?"
Paris checks his instrument panel. "Warp engines are off-line. Shields are at 50%."
"Try to locate them, Tom. We're on our way."
As moons go, this one's full of photo-ops. High mountain ranges break through heavy cloud cover in a daylight of fog and shadow. Ansel Adams would love this place.
Tuvok's got his tricorder. Seven's got her implants. Both point them in the same direction.
"The signal's getting stronger," Seven says. "They're here, I'm sure of it. This way." But she doesn't exactly sprint toward them. Janeway of Borg has been more effective at her assimilation efforts than she may have realized. She hesitates; Tuvok once again suggests that they can go back. But she says he has to find out.
They round a corner--and from their vantage point can see down into a volcanic valley--and not far from them, across the craggy cliff they're walking, rests a large ship in terrible condition.
It doesn't ring any bells for Seven right away. "What is it?"
"It's a Federation vessel partially assimilated by the Borg. There are no life signs. Tritanium decay suggests it has been here for nearly 20 years."
The clues are getting easy enough that even I can figure them out now.
They continue their approach.
They enter the ship's interior. It's dark, and obviously unoccupied. Seven does appear to recognize it from the inside, though, and says so.
They reach another part of the ship, and a glowing, pulsing green light. "This is the signal that's drawn me here," she says. She turns off the signal, lost in thought.
The visions return, only more clearly now. She sees her father being held by a Borg, calling out her name. She sees her mother as well, also held by a Borg, urging Annika to run and hide.
Seven calls out to Papa. Fear is on her face. She crawls under the console she's seen in her flashbacks, and cowers in a fetal position.
"Papa? Help me. no! No!"
Seven of Nine--Annika--weeps.
Tuvok touches her, gentle but firm. "Seven, I'm here. Listen to me. Come." She returns to the present, and slowly rises.
"It happened here. This is where it began. This is where I was assimilated." She chokes with emotion. "This was our ship. We lived here. We lived here for a long time."
She walks around, the memories returning with a vengeance now. "My father did experiments. They were very important and we had to travel a long way."
Someone's gotta say it. Considering Voyager is still 55k light years from home, and Annika was only on board for part of her life--either the Borg gave them a lift, or there's a nice little spatial anomaly somewhere nearby, or the Hansen family had one kick-butt propulsion system. Well, that, or the laws of physics have been subverted in the name of dramatic expediency.
Naah. They wouldn't do that....
Sorry. Back to the narrative.
"I had my birthday here. My cake had six candles on it and... and one more to grow on."
Don't you just want to reach out and give her a big ole hug? These are a six year old's memories, told by a resurfacing six year-old human. The body may be all grown up, but the emotions are still very childlike.
"And then the men came. Papa tried to fight them, but they were too strong. I tried to hide. Maybe they wouldn't find me because I was little. But they did. Then papa said we were going to crash and the big man picked me up and then suddenly, we weren't on this ship anymore. We were somewhere else."
"And then I became Borg."
I have my share of questions about the sequence of events...but Seven wouldn't have the means to answer them.
"Fascinating," says Tuvok. "This resonance signal must have been active since the ship was assimilated. And Voyager passed within range."
The ship begins to shake, rattle and roll. Seven immediately understands it is an attack. Tuvok even knows who: the B'omar. "The ship will collapse. We must get out of here."
They stumble through the ship as debris clatters down all around them.
Three B'omar vessels rain death down on the lunar surface. They seem uninterested in the lone Federation Starship which now dwarfs them.
"The B'omar still aren't responding to our hails," Kim reports. Chakotay says they're locked and loaded. Janeway tells him to target the enemy's weapons systems, then calls Paris for a status report--he says he's found Tuvok and Seven, but he's still trying to break through the interference for a transport.
A particularly strong jolt throws Tuvok and Seven against a wall. Tuvok asks how she is. "I am undamaged," she says. They reach the way they came in--but find it blocked by debris. They look for another way out--but find it blocked as well. They return to the original opening and begin clearing a way to the outside.
"We've disabled two of their ships. The third is still firing at the surface," reports Chakotay.
(A single shuttle takes out FIVE of those pathetic B'omar vessels, and Voyager only manages to take out TWO? Yeesh.)
"We're being hailed," Kim announces. Janeway orders the channel opened on audio only.
"You're committing an act of war, Captain," says Chancellor Gaumen.
"You've left me no choice, Chancellor," says Janeway evenly.
The B'omar's voice rises threateningly. "Reinforcements are arriving. You will be destroyed..."
Janeway raises a hand to her throat, and Kim cuts the channel instantly. "I don't have time for this," Janeway says angrily. "Target their weapons array."
Tuvok and Seven clear enough junk aside to crawl through the wreckage and outside into the relatively fresh air. They manage to get enough space between themselves and the Raven to get a good view of the once-proud vessel, home to human and Borg alike, break off in slices and crash down to the valley surface below, to rise up nevermore.
Alas, poor SS Raven, Starfleet registry NAR-32450. We hardly knew ye.
No time for long goodbyes, though, as a transporter lock sweeps them away.
I've got them, Captain. We're on our way back to Voyager.
"Acknowledged. Good work, Tom."
Kim says he's detecting a fleet of B'omar vessels approaching. 68 ships.
Janeway has two choices: either let Seven take a shuttle out and kick their B'omar behinds, or they can escape back outside B'omar space and take the long way around.
"Ensign, as soon as Mr. Paris's shuttle has docked take us out of B'omar space. Warp eight." She sighs. "Looks like there won't be any shortcuts this time," she says over her shoulder to a grim-faced Chakotay.
Man...Janeway's gone soft since she adopted Seven....
It's night-time in Italy as Janeway enters her favorite new program. She sees Seven of Nine on the balcony, staring at the Leonardo Plane from a somewhat less intimidating angle.
"There you are. I wanted to tell you that the doctor said he could adjust one of your implants so that you won't receive any more homing signals."
"Thank you. I hope you don't mind that I activated this program."
"Not at all," says Janeway, kindly.
"I've been thinking about what you said... that this was a place to encourage your imagination."
"Is that appealing to you?" asks Janeway hopefully.
"I'm not certain. I find myself... constructing scenarios. Considering alternative possibilities. What if my parents and I had not encountered the Borg? What would our lives have been? I would have been raised by them, learned from them. They would have influenced what I became--who and what I am."
"And you...would have done the same for them," says Janeway. "If you'd like to know more about your parents there's information in the Federation database. It seems they were fairly well known--for being unconventional, and for some rather unique scientific theories. You might like to read what's there. It might... encourage your imagination."
Seven considers this. "Perhaps I will...someday. Good night, captain."
Janeway watches her go, a muddle of emotions on her face as she considers the growing pains
that lie ahead...and wonders if they'll survive them.
Emotionally, this one grabbed me in a big way.
The more you watch this one with your heart than with your head, the more you're likely to enjoy the experience.
As it happens, I did.
The performances were generally quite good. I was particularly impressed with Jeri Ryan and Tim Russ in this one; Tuvok's either been taking sensitivity courses, or the writers have. He handled Seven as deftly as he had Chakotay in "Nemesis." I can't see the Tuvok of prior seasons pulling this off. Seven of Nine was at once fearsome and sympathetic, as the human and the Borg struggled for control of her cellular structure--and her soul.
The tension between Janeway and Chakotay, between Torres and Kim, over Seven of Nine resurfaced. She has been making inroads, but her connections with the crew are far from complete. Yet, this episode showed that Seven's connections are there--her refusal to see Tuvok assimilated, to see Voyager get away with her thanks for their kindness. The parallels between this and "I, Borg" are striking. Like Hugh, the more she got to know the folks aboard, the more her individuality asserted itself--even twenty years of drone life later. Part of her still desperately wants to rejoin the Collective. But that desire now has a counterbalance--her realization of what she has lost, taken by the Collective who raised her.
If they had told us that the ship on which the Hansen family left all those years ago was the Raven, I forgot. So it was a surprise when I finally figured it out. And I thought it was well handled for the most part--creepy and symbolic, the way dreams often are. Appropriate for an October episode, I thought--nice and Halloweeny.
The nano-probes and implants in Seven's body could potentially be used in future plots; they opened the door for that here. It worked well in this episode, but I hope it's not used too often.
The bits about Harry's relationship with Seven were hinted at, but not clearly defined. His exchange with Torres seemed more strained than past bantering, but her dislike for Seven is still fairly strong. His exchange with Janeway, where he has to read and admit what Seven thinks of him from her personal logs (he seemed somewhat subdued in this scene--perhaps even disappointed) was a bit better, and more honest than the back-and-forth with Torres. (You can't lie to Mama Kate about this stuff.)
The B'omar: a study in contradictions. Way, way too darn smug for their own good. They seem to maintain their borders by sheer force of ego. They have a lot of faith in their technology, but it was clearly not an overwhelming advantage--Voyager has faced far worse. They were amusing for all their blustering and their attitude (it's kinda nice seeing the Federation on the business end of a superior attitude--I dunno, maybe it's because it's fun to watch the aliens eat crow later.) They were more irritating than threatening.
I don't blame Janeway for not negotiating with them, and I am actually relieved that for once she chose not to blow through their space like she owned the place. Going in to rescue her people is one thing. Retreating once she had them is another. Good for her.
Seven's habit this episode of telling people their Species Number was creepy with poor Neelix, but like Janeway and Tuvok, Neelix showed a lot of character growth in this scene. He was clearly upset by the news, but didn't take it personally. Seven of Nine will need some slack in coming months, and I can see Neelix being one of them. His helping Seven through her first meal was made much more interesting with the events that immediately preceded it--the normally ebullient Talaxian struggled to keep going, to help someone who had just smacked him pretty hard in the self-esteem.
Shuttles: I think we got them both back; we never heard of the other shuttle's fate, but it's not a stretch to believe it was untouched because it was unoccupied, and Voyager picked it up. Paris' shuttle was also functional enough to dock on its own. This is two weeks straight we haven't had a shuttle go obviously dead. Bravo.
The Raven being out this far: here's one for the lobotomy. There's no way that I'm going to believe that the ship made it all this way on its own, in only a couple of years. If later episodes give me a reason to believe that (the "important" work her parents were doing could well have been in propulsion, though we haven't had many clues in that direction) then I may change my tune. But for now, the idea that the Raven made it 50k+ lightyears in a matter of a year or two doesn't set well with me.
Harry's learned Borg in a couple of months? Wow. Perhaps he was serious when he said "I always wanted to learn Borg." Heck, I was in love once and took up clog-dancing. This relationship between him and Seven doesn't do a great deal for me, though you never know; it could get more interesting. Or not. What matters isn't so much Seven's relationship with any one crewman, but her relationship with all of them.
On a 0-10 scale, I'm giving this one a 7.00, or (* * *). It was interesting, with some good character interactions, and a nice creepy feel at times. It didn't thrill me, but I didn't hate it. Were it not for the strength of Jeri Ryan's performance, it would have been closer to a (* *).
Next week: A blast from the past: The Q and the Grey Q comes back with a proposition for Janeway: bear his children.
If you want a second opinion, check out Julia's, or head on over to the lounge where Kris and some of her pals offers their musings from the Rec Room O' Reviews.