It's Paramount's playground. They own the characters, the ships, species, planets, quadrants, and the dialog, plots, etc. My summaries and reviews are for the purpose of entertainment, research, and analysis only. The reviews are full-spoiler, which means that it's about as close as you can get to seeing the episode, with near-complete and near-verbatim dialog from the episode itself. All that's missing are commercials and pictures--and sometimes, even the commercials get reviewed. If you want to be surprised when you see the episode, leave now. Otherwise--come on in, get comfortable, and enjoy the ride.
[Captioning sponsored by Paramount Television and United Paramount Network.]
Voyager meets The Matrix. Seven of Nine is Neo.
Jump straight to the Analysis
Unimatrix One is big. Really big. When a Cube, no slouch in the bigness department, flies into the heart of Unimatrix One, the image is not unlike a lone Volvo driving through Tokyo, as viewed from Mount Fuji. Soon, the massive drone farm is little more than a pinprick.
The scene shifts. Volvo of Borg is now making its way downtown, through congested traffic.
The camera zooms in yet again, this time to drone level. Row upon row of alcoves, each filled with regenerating Borg, passes our view, until the screen rests upon a single pasty-faced patsy of perfection. We're close enough to see the makeup and the almost painfully active case of REM sleep.
Then the eye opens. It's brown. The light is on, but nobody's home.
The drone exits its alcove, and is immediately flanked by two others. Wordlessly, the brown-eyed drone leads the way through the congested corridors, destination unspecified.
Machinery obscures all but the depthless confidence of the eyes, before peeling away like a bionic onion to reveal the Queen of the Borg. A half-dozen needles are withdrawn. Supporting pylons are retracted like petals, freeing up the spinal column. The Queen, suspended by a pair of cables, begins to move.
The biological remains of the Borg Queen consist of little more than a head and shoulders. Even that is fused inextricably with technology--spinal column, cranial implants, and so on. The visible Queen is not much to look at.
Looks are deceiving. Everything we have seen so far, from the cube to the unimatrix it got lost in, is an extension of the queen's self. To judge the Queen by her appearance is to judge a sumo wrestler by a clipped toenail.
The drones continue their walk through the corridors, and stop at a door. One of the drones enters the necessary commands, and the three enter a large and dark chamber.
A cylindrical elevator descends from the ceiling, revealing the Queen. She speaks as she descends. "Four of Twelve, subjunction of unimatrix five two five. You have a disease."
The elevator stops, and the two cables carry the Queen, with her snakelike tail of a spinal column, toward her bodysuit which is constructed on the fly. "You're one of many with this sickness. We want to cure you. But we need a better way to identify those with the mutation. Our testing method is too slow. It could take centuries to identify everyone."
The Queen is lowered into the open collar of the suit. The twin cables are blown off, as the bodysuit takes charge of its precious cargo. A quartet of clasps spring out to grasp the flesh of her torso, stretching the skin, and forming the final link between outfit and wearer.
The queen sighs. She stretches. The snake is transformed into a creature of feline beauty.
She walks toward the REM-sleep drone. "Help me find the interlink frequency that binds all of you together. Then we can put an end to this. Quickly...Efficiently."
The drone stares at his queen the way a corpse regards a coffin lid.
"Comply," the queen purrs. Still, the drone stares, as though not comprehending the question.
The Queen blinks. The drone gasps as though finally awakening. Which, perhaps, is exactly what happens.
"I've disconnected you from the hive mind," the queen says. She circles him slowly, seductively. "You're alone. I know how uncomfortable that can be. Tell me what I want to know then you can rejoin us." She stands behind the male, whispers into his ear.
"I...Don't...Know," the drone says haltingly. His voice is deep, frightened.
"You must remember something."
"I don't...remember." Stronger now.
"I don't remember!"
Three strikes. The queen walks away. "Deactivate him." The two flanking drones grab the poor sap by the arms.
"Wait!" The Queen says. "Dismantle him. Bring me his cortical array."
Weakly protesting but helpless to resist, the drone is dragged out the door.
The Queen watches them go. Her silvery eyes blaze.
You don't want to get on her bad side.
But like the impenetrable shield and the unstoppable spear, you might wonder what would happen if Captain Janeway does. It's the Queen's quadrant, but it's Janeway's show.
* * *
Seven of Nine finds herself in a pleasant forest setting, unaccompanied but not alone. The sun is shining, but there is enough shade for comfort.
Seven finds a spot where the sun's rays caress her skin, and she stops to breathe in the sultry air. Eyes closed, lips parted and curling upward, Seven drinks deeply at the well of contentment.
She continues her walk. Looking around, her eyes are drawn to soft voices not far away. She sees a trio of aliens walking along a path, chatting pleasantly in the shade. They talk of home.
Then they say their goodbyes--and one of them disappears.
Seven, startled to hear that name, looks around--and sees a young man, late twenties, slender and smooth-chested, wearing a low-collared tunic. He looks at her like he knows her. He extends his hand as though to brush her cheek with his fingers.
Seven backs away.
Seven of Nine awakens in her alcove, looking like she'd seen a ghost. She leaves her alcove at a dead run.
In Sickbay, the Doctor performs his scans of the restless Seven.
"Another milestone," Doc says happily. "You've had your first dream."
"I felt awake."
"Dreams can often seem quite real," Doc says. "Tell me more about this forest."
"Perhaps your unconscious mind was drawing on a childhood memory," Doc suggests.
"I spoke to someone. He called me by my human name." This disturbs her.
"Did you recognize him?"
Doc is excited by this new development. "This could give us a fascinating glimpse into your unconscious mind. Any one of those images might have a symbolic meaning. The mysterious stranger, for example--is he a father figure? Or does he represent a repressed desire for male companionship?" The tease.
Seven doesn't care. "I don't wish to dream again. Please repair my cortical array!"
Doc sighs and walks over, close enough to hug the agitated ex-drone. "This isn't a malfunction, Seven!" he says with gentle humor, trying to put her at ease with his smile. "It's a natural step in your human development. It might seem unsettling now, but you'll get used to it. Before you know it, you'll look forward to climbing into your alcove each night."
He hands her a small device, similar to the cortical stimulators and suppressers we've seen before, worn on the neck. "This will keep a record of your REM cycles." Seven reluctantly takes it and exits, as her proud doctor watches her go.
Wait. Did he say REM cycles?
Whoa. Déjà vu . . .
Tom Paris is practically whistling as he exits the turbolift to start his duty shift on the bridge. He adjusts the cuffs of his uniform to get them just right.
It takes him less than a second to realize that he's the center of attention.
Chakotay and Tuvok share a look as he enters. Chakotay walks behind the Ensign, blocking his retreat.
"You're late Mr. Paris," says Janeway icily.
"Ma'am?" Tom asks, caught short.
"According to the ship's chronometer, by 22 seconds," says Tuvok.
Tom wonders what all the fuss is about. "I'll make it up at the end of my shift."
"See that you do," Chakotay says. Tom notices the extreme proximity of the first officer and is instantly uncomfortable.
"Take your station," says Janeway, refusing to look at her helm boy.
Tom looks over to B'Elanna, who shakes her head, warning him not to get uppity. Helpless, silently mouthing Anglo-Saxon unmentionables, Tom makes his way to his seat. Chakotay follows, mere steps behind him.
There's a small wooden box on the chair. Tom slows, wondering if it's filled with hemlock. Or leola root.
"Open it," Chakotay says. "That's an order."
Tom picks the box up, not quite comprehending. He doesn't notice Janeway get up and walk over, with a big smile on her face.
The box opens. A black-centered pip is inside.
Tom's mouth drops open, before resolving into a disbelieving smile.
"Not only late but improperly dressed," Chakotay says sternly. "That belongs on your collar, Mr. Paris."
"Allow me," the captain says. A grateful Paris hands holds out the box; the delicate fingers of Captain Janeway retrieve the pip.
Tom Paris stands at attention as Janeway reaches for his throat.
Janeway beams up at her favorite character reclamation project. "As ship's Captain, I hereby reinstate you to the rank of Lieutenant, with all the privileges and responsibilities therein." Tom smiles warmly at his captain.
"Your performance on this ship over the past year has been exemplary. I expect more of the same."
Paris looks at Chakotay, then at Janeway. "You won't be disappointed."
Torres comes up from behind. "Congratulations." Tom turns around; Torres caresses his chest, and her hand works its way up to stroke the second pip. "Lieutenant." The two share a kiss on the cheek, right there on the bridge.
There. Y'all happy now? Is the great stain of Thirty Days finally erased? Has Captain Hardass finally managed to get off your Paris-loving dookie lists? Is all forgiven?
I didn't think so.
Ah well. The parade of Ensign Paris jokes was fun while it lasted. I'll just save 'em up for next time.
But there's always Ensign Harry. Speaking of whom . . . "I didn't notice a little box on my chair," he says.
Nobody bothers to respond.
The helm starts to beep, drawing everyone's attention and saving Eternal Ensign Harry from an even more awkward moment.
"Hiding a cake in the console?" Tom asks.
"Looks like a distress call," Chakotay says.
"Put it through." And as quickly as that, it's business as usual.
"I'm getting a carrier wave but no message," Chakotay says.
"Origin?" Janeway asks.
"An asteroid," Tuvok reports. "Approximately two light years from here."
"Yellow alert. Set a course." Janeway takes her seat. So does everyone else.
"We're in range," Tom Paris reports a short while later.
"Drop to impulse," Janeway orders. "On screen."
A large brown rock hangs in space like an Idaho Spud.
"Magnify," Janeway orders. The spud gets bigger. It spins clockwise, revealing the first peek at something constructed.
"I'm reading artificial structures," Tuvok says. "It's a colony of some kind."
"Open a channel. This is Captain Janeway of the Starship Voyager. We've received your distress call."
The slowly turning spud reveals the whole of the colony. Or what's left of it. Thick black smoke rises from the ruins.
Janeway stands and approaches the viewscreen, her expression hard. "Life signs?"
"None," Tuvok reports.
Harry Kim runs his scans. "I'm detecting residual weapons signatures. They're Borg."
Janeway's eyes widen. "Any vessels?"
"One," Tuvok says. "A cube at the edge of this system."
Janeway nods. "Resume our previous course, Mr. Paris. Warp six. Make a note in the ship's record: we responded to a distress call at 0900 hours. Arrived at the colony two hours later. No survivors. We don't know who these people were, but we know the Borg destroyed them."
Just a quick comment about Voyager's travel time here. Two hours to travel two light years? Wow. If they could maintain that rate of speed, they'd be home in three years . . .
In Cargo Bay Two, Seven of Nine gives her alcove a wary look. Then, resigned to her fate, she attaches the REM monitor to her neck and takes her place, locking in for the night of regeneration.
Soon, REM sleep kicks in, as the camera gives us an extreme close-up of the under-eyelid jitterbug.
Welcome back to the Great Forest, Seven.
The forest is covered in night and fog. Seven looks around, a little spooked.
When a Klingon puts a razor-gloved hand on her shoulder, she looks a lot spooked. Staring into the Gowron-eyed, saber-toothed warrior, Seven becomes frightened. She runs away.
A man intercepts her down the path. It's the same guy who called her Annika the first time she was here. "Come with me," he says urgently, pinning her in place by the shoulders.
"I'm regenerating. This is only a dream," Seven mutters to herself, trying to come to grips with her fear.
"You're not dreaming. I brought you here. This is Unimatrix Zero."
Seven's jaw drops.
* * *
Seven walks with the man down the forest path. She seems more skeptical than scared at the moment. "There is no Unimatrix Zero. Who are you?"
"Five of Twelve--secondary adjunct of Trimatrix Nine Four Two. But when I'm here, my name is Axum."
"Axum," Seven repeats.
"Sound familiar?" Yes, Seven admits. Axum nods. "Good. It's starting to come back to you."
They hear a young boy call out. "Is anyone here?" They approach, and find the boy. Axum kneels near him. "Hello."
"I think I'm lost."
"I'm Axum. This is Annika." Seven winces a little at the use of her human name, but nods at the boy.
The kid is calm but his eyes are wide. "My father's ship started shaking. Men came aboard. They looked like machines. Will you help me find my father?"
Axum smiles kindly. "I'll see what I can do. There are other children here. Would you like to meet them?"
The boy isn't sure how to answer. He looks at Annika.
"I just got here, too," Seven says gently. "This environment is intimidating, but I believe it's safe." The boy, satisfied, joins them on the foggy path as they resume walking.
"He was just assimilated," Seven guesses.
"He's probably still in a maturation chamber," Axum agrees.
"Are you telling me this isn't a real place? It's some kind of virtual construct?" Seven asks.
"We come here during our regeneration cycles. We can exist as individuals here."
The path opens up to reveal more of the "matrix". Below, illuminated in the full moonlight, is a tranquil bay. It is alit here and there with small settlements--in the water, on the beaches, on the rocky cliffs above. However you feel like whiling away your regeneration cycle, this place appears to have it.
"Unimatrix Zero," Seven whispers, clearly impressed.
"You used to come here...before you escaped the Collective," Axum says. Seven looks at him, surprised. "You have the recessive mutation, too," he says. "Don't you remember any of it?"
"No. What mutation?"
"Only one out of a million drones has it," Axum says. (Well, who'd'a thunk it? Seven of Nine really is one in a million . . . )
"Why did you bring me here now?" Seven asks.
"The Collective has found a way to detect us," Axum says. "It's a lengthy procedure, but they've managed to identify and deactivate nearly 200 of us over the last few months. It's only a matter of time before they find enough of us to isolate the interlink frequency. Once they've done that..."
He leaves the thought unfinished. "You can help us stop them."
Seven looks at him wide-eyed. "Clarify."
"We've designed a nanovirus that should mask the biochemical signature of the mutation, but we need someone to release it into the Collective."
"You're already on a Borg vessel," Seven says. "Why don't you do it?"
"When we've completed our regeneration cycles we have no memory of this place." He stands close, behind her. He whispers into her ear. "But you're not a part of the Collective anymore. You're our only connection to the real world."
Speaking of the real world, we leave Unimatrix Zero. And revisit Unimatrix One.
Four of Twelve, subjunction of Unimatrix Five Two Five, has seen better days. At the moment, he doesn't see much, despite the fact that his eyes are wide open. So is his surprise-suggesting mouth.
So, unfortunately for him, is the back of his skull--the easier for other drones to muck about inside with tweezers, looking for the hardware the Queen requested.
Not that poor Four of Twelve would notice; his head has been detached and secured on a spike.
Moral: when the Queen asks a question, don't disappoint her.
The Queen is here, and smiles when the item in question is retrieved from the gooey gray matter Four of Twelve used to think with. "Scan the node for residual harmonics," she orders.
The queen caresses the lifeless cheek of the former drone. "It's a shame you're not alive to experience disembodiment. It's the epitome of perfection." She then caresses her upper chest, just below the neck, before extending her palm. "Give it to me."
The drone hands the Queen the node, now resting atop a hand-sized flying saucer-shaped device. "We have isolated the carrier band. But it's useless to us without the precise frequency. We need additional data."
The Queen walks over to a terminal, which responds to her unspoken commands. The screen shows a pair of blips in space. "Two more of the mutations have been discovered in spatial grid six four nine," she says.
The queen issues commands to her minions. "Have their cortical nodes removed and analyzed. Bring me the results."
Looks like Four of Twelve might not be the last victim of Vlad the Impaler this week . . .
Let's check back with Seven and the sleeping individuals of Unimatrix Zero. Shall we?
They’ve arrived at one of the encampments. It's a simple but active place, a white tent covering some benches and electric lighting. Folks are generally amiable. Friends converse. Lovers snuggle.
The boy who just got assimilated finds his share of youngsters to play with. Since he'll spend months--maybe years--in the maturation chamber, he might be able to spend a good deal of time here uninterrupted by dronely duties.
"Unimatrix Zero is our sanctuary," Axum explains to Seven. The two sit on one of the park benches. "When we're here, our thoughts are our own."
"What was my function?" Seven asks.
"You're thinking like a Borg. Our only function here is to try and regain a fragment of the lives we lost when we were assimilated."
The boy approaches. "Mr. Axum?"
Axum notices where the boy is looking--a few kids playing a game. "Go introduce yourself. They won't mind." The boy does, and fits right in.
An adult alien appears out of nowhere--tall, athletic, very male.
"Siral. Over here!" a woman calls out. Siral sees the woman and walks over as Seven watches. "I was hoping you'd come. It's great to see you," the woman says.
"It's always good to be back," Siral says.
While the woman introduces Siral to someone else, Seven continues to stare. "I remember him--"
"You were friends," Axum says. "You knew a lot of people here. You were a part of our lives for 18 years."
Seven considers all that's happened to her here. "I'm willing to help...but I can't do it alone. I'm part of a Starship crew now. I'll have to inform my Captain."
The Klingon who grabbed Seven's shoulder appears again. "I told you not to bring her here!" he growls.
"We can't do this by ourselves," Axum says.
"It's too great a risk!"
"We don't have a choice."
The Klingon whirls and glares at Axum. "You do not speak for all of us!"
"What would you rather do? Have us wait until we're all discovered?" Axum raises the challenge. "You disappoint me. Where's your warrior spirit?"
"P'tok! I'll rip your heart out."
Axum doesn't blink. "Go ahead. Kill me. I'll be back when I begin my next regeneration cycle." Interesting. So this isn't quite The Matrix. "You can't stop me, Korok."
Korok, the Klingon, glares at Seven. "If you come here again...you'll be putting your Starship at risk--and all of us as well."
Another person joins the fray--a petite brunette human. "Shouldn't you be off sharpening your teeth?" Korok growls, then stalks off.
Seven is surprised once again. "I know you! Your name is Laura. You're human."
Laura nods. "I was assimilated at Wolf Three Five Nine. It's good to see you again." Laura gives Seven a thorough looking-at. "But you look out of place. Your cybernetic implants..."
"Our Doctor was unable to remove all of my Borg components," Seven explains.
"You don't have to look that way here," Axum says.
Seven shrugs. "My appearance is irrelevant."
"No, it's not. They may have turned us into drones, but they can't change the essence of who we are."
Axum gets an odd look on his face. "My cycle is about to end. Talk to your Captain. We can't do this without--"
Apparently when your time is up, it's up. Axum disappears before he can finish his sentence.
Five of Twelve, secondary adjunct of Trimatrix Nine Four Two, awakens in his alcove. His eyes, as vacant as the Delta Center during the NBA championships, stare forward as he joins the seemingly random traffic of whatever part of Borgdom to which he is assigned, oblivious to his existence as an individual.
* * *
"Another round with the Borg?" Lieutenant Tom asks dubiously.
The conference room is full. Almost everyone is standing. Seven of Nine stands between Tom Paris and Captain Janeway, in close quarters.
"We'd only need to infiltrate a single vessel," Seven says.
"Heh!" Tom barks. "Just one?"
"I am prepared to take a shuttle and do this alone," Seven says. Tom, shaking his head, walks away from Seven.
"No offense," Ensign Harry asks, filling the spot Tom had occupied a moment before, "but how do you know that this wasn't some kind of a dream?"
"Seven was wearing a cortical monitor," Doc says, moving between Harry and Seven while Tom, in the background, folds his arms and looks sullen. "She never reached REM sleep. She wasn't dreaming." (Then what was with the rapid eye movement we saw in Extreme Close Up?)
"Unimatrix Zero is real, and so are the people who go there. They need our help," Seven insists.
The scene shifts leftward, as Janeway moves into position directly in front of Seven, giving us a brief shot of Tuvok and Chakotay and B'Elanna Torres--who, not coincidentally I'm sure, also has her arms folded.
"What else can you tell us about this place? How many drones?" Janeway asks.
"No one is certain. Axum told me there could be--"
"He's...someone I used to know. He told me there could be tens of thousands, perhaps more."
Janeway nods. "How was it created?"
"Some of them believe it began as a random malfunction during the assimilation of a single drone, and eventually spread to the others."
"Well, this is all very interesting," Torres says, "but--are we sure it's worth putting our lives on the line?"
Seven gives Torres a hard look. "It's my understanding that when we receive a distress call, we respond. 'Starfleet protocols.'"
Now when the ex-drone starts quoting protocols, you know Mama Kate's gotta be swelling with pride.
"She's right. This is no different," Harry agrees. Not that he's too happy about it; he and the Borg don't have a lot of fond memories together.
"I understand your reluctance," Janeway tells everyone, "but Seven's discovered a potential weakness in the Collective. Before we decide how to proceed I'd like to learn as much about it as we can." Seems reasonable.
The J/C crowd might be interested to know that Chakotay has been listening to this conversation with his hands resting on one of the high-backed chairs, and that Janeway ends her last line resting her own hand on the cushion immediately below those of Chakotay, practically daring him to grab on.
Chakotay resists the temptation--barely. "Too bad you don't have the luxury of an interlink node," Chakotay says.
Tuvok steps forward to stand very close to Janeway. "There is another possibility. A Vulcan technique known as 'the bridging of minds.'"
"I would need to initiate a mind meld with both you and Seven, acting as a telepathic conduit."
The Doctor, no fan of Vulcan mental wizardry, grumbles. "You make it sound like a conference call. Captain, it is my professional opinion that we wait until--"
"Objection noted," Janeway says, cutting him off.
The captain gives her favorite ex-drone a dreamy look. "I think you'll be turning in early tonight . . . "
Janeway and Chakotay stroll the corridors on the way to Cargo Bay Two. "Stay at yellow alert," Janeway says. "Maintain long-range scans for Borg vessels. Any sign of trouble, you know where to find me."
"This will be one away mission for the record books," Chakotay says.
Janeway shakes her head. "Mind melds. The last time I heard the words 'my mind to your mind' I had a headache for two weeks."
Chakotay smiles. "I'm willing to volunteer if you'd rather hold down the fort."
Janeway gives her first officer a happy smile. "I appreciate your trying to protect me. But a chance to see this place?" She clicks her tongue. "It's worth a headache."
"How many times have you actually performed this 'bridging of heads'?" Doc asks Tuvok as he attaches a cortical whatzit to the Vulcan's neck.
"Minds," Tuvok corrects. "Never."
"Then how can you be certain it'll work?"
"Nothing is certain, Doctor. However, I once observed a Vulcan master perform the technique. I am reasonably confident I can duplicate his success."
"Watching and doing are two different things," Doc reminds him.
"As always, your logic is impeccable."
"What a comfort," Doc mutters.
Janeway and Chakotay enter. Seven is already here, and prepped.
"We're ready, Captain," Tuvok says.
"Let's do it," Janeway says. Doc attaches the whatzit and activates it. For whatever reason, Janeway gives Doc a snarky look as she walks away. Maybe he pushed the button just a little too hard out of spite; who knows. Anyway, Janeway makes her way to the alcove next to Seven.
Tuvok stands between the alcoves, facing the women. "As the conduit, I'll be aware of both your perceptions. If something goes wrong, I will break the meld."
"Understood," Janeway says.
Tuvok places his left hand on Janeway's temple, his right on Seven's. Their eyes close.
"Your minds to my mind. Your thoughts to my thoughts."
We watch on "Neural/Synaptic Monitor 147" (yes, I'm serious) the three brainwave patterns--Seven's, Tuvok's, and Janeway's. The three are unique, as you would expect of individuals.
"Your minds to my mind. Your thoughts to my thoughts."
We watch as the monitor shows the three patterns aligning, until there is no difference between them at all.
Janeway finds herself in the great forest. She reaches out to touch one of the trees.
"Welcome to Unimatrix Zero," Seven says.
Janeway is surprised; Seven is now wearing a pretty dress, and her hair is down. Her eyebrow and ear implants are nowhere in evidence.
"Seven?" Janeway asks, intrigued.
"Annika." Seven reaches up to touch her eyebrow, surprised--but not completely--to find only human flesh and hair. She smiles shyly. "That's what I'm called here."
Janeway is pulled away from the vision of Annika by the laughter of others. She sees a group of individuals. "Drones?" she asks.
Seven nods and smiles. "Come on, let's find Axum." Even the tone of her voice has changed . . . softened . . . humanized.
Janeway follows, wondering what other surprises are in store.
Unimatrix One is as busy as ever.
So is the Queen. She holds the skull of another drone like she's performing Hamlet. "We're close. I can almost hear them . . . " her voice is dreamy as she addresses the severed head.
Then she tosses it aside as a thing of no worth. "Bring us closer," she tells the drone who catches the gory prize.
The head is brought to rest on a spike beside the unfortunate Four of Twelve. The gory inspection continues.
The Queen strides over to a monitor, where she analyzes a reading of some sort, like a map of a .WAV file. "There," she says, indicating a segment a third of the way from the right of the screen. "Amplify."
A drone sticks a sharp object into where the new drone's ear used to be. Blecch.
The screen complies. It looks like what the Queen is looking for. "Disrupt the frequency," she orders.
Interesting how some things are done automatically, but others seem to get done the old fashioned way. A drone walks over to a control pylon and pushes a button. Talk about inefficient.
But effective. The highlighted section of frequency begins to waver.
"It's not working," the Queen grumbles. Okay, maybe not so effective. "They're using a triaxillating modulation."
The Queen walks over to the severed heads. "You're making this very difficult," she says accusingly. The two open-mouthed corpses try to look as apologetic as possible.
The Queen changes her strategy. "If we can't terminate their link...then we'll simply have to pay them a visit."
Annika walks a few feet ahead while Janeway speaks with Axum.
"You can see why we want to protect this place," Axum says.
Janeway does indeed. "We're prepared to help you. But I'm concerned that we'd only be putting off the inevitable. Even if we succeeded and you could remain hidden for a year, ten years--the Borg would eventually find you again."
The captain gets one of Those Looks. "Have you ever considered a more permanent solution?"
"More permanent?" Axum asks.
"You've got a remarkable sanctuary here--but that's all it is. Maybe it's time to stop hiding and find a way to fight back."
Axum shakes his head. "That's not possible."
Janeway persists. "If you could find a way to carry your individualities into the Real World--to wake up from your regeneration cycles with your memories intact--you could begin to undermine the Borg's control over you."
Annika stops walking and gives Janeway a surprised look. "That sounds like you're suggesting a civil war."
Janeway smiles. "I prefer to call it...a resistance movement." Borg Maquis? I'm sure Starfleet will love that.
"That's very ambitious, Captain," Axum says. "But we can't retain our memories."
"Not yet," Janeway agrees. "But we know a good deal about Borg technology. Maybe we could--"
Their conversation is interrupted by frightened screams. Axum, Annika and Janeway run to see what's happening.
What's happening is that the forest is filling up with Borg. Not individuals on regeneration holiday, but real drones, looking like drones, stalking the refugees.
One of the drones goes after a gray-skinned male, who falls on the ground and cannot escape its clutches.
Meanwhile, the Queen sees what the hunter drone sees, through its eyes.
The poor male gets caught in the hunter's clutches. A hook pins the man's arm. Then two tubules plunge into the poor man's throat. He goes down hard, twitches twice--and disappears.
Apparently you can be assimilated more than once.
Sucks to be you, dude.
The screen lights up at Unimatrix One as the disappeared drone returns to realspace, tagged and bagged by the hunter drone.
"We found another," the Queen says, satisfied. "Spatial grid three two six. Cube one one eight four. Continue."
Another drone steps into an alcove, armed and ready.
His eye closes.
The hunter drone appears in Unimatrix Zero and immediately picks a target--a young alien woman who in her panic runs right into the dude's arms, like some sort of Assimilation Drive-thru.
Not one to waste the opportunity, the drone just grabs on and lets his assimilation tubules fly. The woman screams, drops to the ground, convulses, and disappears.
"Welcome back," the Queen says as the poor woman's cube light up on the screen. "Spatial grid nine eight two. Cube four six one."
The boy we met earlier, the one just recently assimilated, runs through the forest with a drone in hot pursuit--we see the chase through the hunter's green-tinted eyes.
The boy ducks behind a bush. The drone finds him soon enough, and grabs the kid.
Then Korok the Klingon Warrior steps in, his bat'leth (or bat'telh, however you choose to spell it) swinging. The poor hunter drone goes down hard, and soon gets impaled by the warrior blade. It disappears.
Another drone comes after the Klingon, and meets a similar fate.
A third drone enters the picture, and gets medieval on the Klingon, quickly gaining the upper hand.
Everybody was drone fu fighting . . .
But before it can dispatch Korok back to the real world, Janeway picks up the curved blade and opens up her own can of Morpheus™ brand whupass.
In Unimatrix Zero, it's the size of your attitude that seems to matter most. And Janeway's got it in truckloads. The drone that whupped the Klingon may be one bad muthah, but he's tsunkatse cannon fodder next to the Auburn Queen.
The Queen of the Borg, who has been watching her hunters clean house, is also watching when her hunter gets a taste of Janeway Justice.
The queen glares as the signal cuts out, thanks to a vicious bat'leth slash from Action Kate. "Janeway," the Queen drawls, her eyes flashing.
* * *
Tuvok and Janeway exit the turbolift on the bridge. Tuvok nods at the man at Tactical, who returns it before ceding his post.
Chakotay looks at Janeway, who's marching to her ready room. "How's your headache?" She only nods toward her office; he follows.
The door closes behind them. Chakotay stands in the lower part of the room; Janeway climbs the stairs and walks along the railing.
"I'm guessing it didn't go well."
"Let's just say we ran into a little trouble. Have a seat, Commander."
"I prefer to stand."
Uh oh. It's gonna be one of those talks. And on a Cliffhanger, you just know it's gonna be painful.
Janeway begins speaking with her back to Chakotay, several meters away. "The Collective's found a way to infiltrate Unimatrix Zero," Janeway explains, turning and walking toward her first officer. "It won't be long before they learn enough to destroy it from the inside out. I plan to stop them." She leans over the railing, directly in front of him.
"What have you got in mind?"
"The people there are vulnerable. They don't have the ability to take action in the real world. We're going to give them that ability."
"The Doctor and B'Elanna are working on it."
Janeway backs away a little. "I know what you're thinking. We'd be violating half a dozen Starfleet protocols. And if the Collective ever learned we were involved we'd be putting Voyager in the middle of a civil war." She raises her arms as though in surrender. "Valid objections."
Chakotay says nothing.
Janeway descends the stairs, and stands close to her first officer. "Chakotay...we've had our disagreements. And there have been times when I've chosen to proceed without your support. But this can't be one of those times. I won't do this without my first officer."
Chakotay chooses his words carefully. "The way I see it, risking the safety of Voyager is a small price to pay. If we help these people, this could be the turning point in our battle against the Borg."
Whoa--they agree?!? And without a parable or shouting match or trading phaser fire?
Are they sure this is a cliffhanger?
Janeway seems surprised as well. "I'm glad we agree--because I almost talked myself out of it." She gives Chakotay a quirky smile.
Chakotay returns it. "Somehow, I don't think you were ever in danger of doing that."
Janeway nods gratefully. "You'll inform the crew?"
Chakotay exits. Janeway sighs with relief; why does it always seem that when dealing with the Borg, the hard part is always working with her Number One?
Well, patterns are made to be broken, I suppose.
Sickbay is where the magic happens. The sorcerer is in.
"This is the nanovirus Axum designed to prevent the Borg from detecting those with the genetic mutation," Doc explains. "But I've modified it to nullify their cortical inhibitors instead. Once they're infected, they should retain their memories of Unimatrix Zero after they leave their alcoves."
"Does that mean they'll be able to function as individuals?" Seven asks. "Stand up to the Collective?"
Doc shrugs. "There's no way to tell. This is highly experimental."
"How do we deploy it?" Janeway asks.
"Correct me if I'm wrong," Torres says, "but each Borg vessel has a device that links it to every other Borg ship."
"The central plexus," Seven confirms.
Torres continues. "If we can gain access to one of those and release the virus there it should be transmitted throughout the Collective...instantly."
"Any Borg activity in the region?" Janeway asks.
Torres calls up a sensor scan on the medical computer. "They just dropped out of transwarp 3.6 light years from here."
Seven throws up a note of caution. "This is a Class Four tactical vessel--heavily armed. The central plexus is protected by multi-regenerative security grids. We'd be detected long before we could reach it."
A new kind of cube? Coolness.
Janeway's eyes are set. "Meet me in Engineering. We're going to find a way in."
Janeway gives Doc an over-the-shoulder order. "Prepare the virus."
"Aye, Captain," Doc says.
Janeway and Seven take to the corridors.
"I think it's time for you to take another nap," Janeway says. "Pay a visit to Unimatrix Zero. Tell our friends we haven't forgotten them." Seven acknowledges wordlessly. They keep walking.
"I couldn't help but notice you were a little different in Unimatrix Zero," Janeway says, "and I don't mean your lack of Borg implants. You seemed more--"
"Human," Seven says, though she doesn't seem happy about it.
"If you don't mind my saying so--it suited you."
Seven knows she has no choice but to talk about this. "I've been told I spent a great deal of time there. But since I don't remember Unimatrix Zero any more than I remember Earth, it's irrelevant."
"To you, maybe. But if what I saw was any indication, Annika would disagree."
And with that, the Queen of the Parting Shot takes her leave, leaving Seven with the thought.
It's night once again in Unimatrix Zero. In the formerly tranquil settlement, people mill about anxiously.
Seven--Annika, given the outfit--and Axum are here. "The Klingons have banded together and they're giving bat'leths to anybody who can handle one," Axum says. "Hirogen hunters are moving through the forest, targeting drones. But we're losing people every hour!"
"Captain Janeway intends to keep her promise," Annika says.
"This isn't your battle. You don't owe us anything!"
"Voyager won't abandon you," Annika insists.
Axum nods his appreciation. He holds up a bat'leth. "A gift from Korok. Takes some getting used to."
Annika smiles. "I'm sure you'll adapt."
Laura arrives breathlessly. "11 more drones. 300 meters."
Axum and Annika move into the forest to investigate--or to hide.
Three drones approach. Axum and Annika hide behind a rock; Axum puts a protective arm around her shoulders. She doesn't object. After a tense moment, the drones move off.
Axum removes his arm. "Sorry," he says.
But she didn't seem to mind so much. "That felt...familiar. Our touching."
"I told you, we were friends."
Axum looks anxious. "Now is not the best time."
Annika takes him by the chin, leans in, and gives him a short but tender kiss. From her look as she breaks away, the sensation was…familiar.
"We were more than friends...weren't we?"
Hesitantly, Axum nods.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"You'd forgotten. It wasn't my place."
"Six years. Only while we were regenerating." He gets a wistful look. "A very memorable six years. For me, anyway."
The moment becomes just a little dangerous--and I don't mean the hunter drones. "I should return to Voyager," Seven says.
"My name is Seven of Nine." And on that note, she disappears.
Seven awakens in her alcove. She steps out of it like it's about to explode.
Other cubes have an unfinished look, like they didn't bother to add the skin. But the cube on the viewscreen looks well covered in heavy armor. It looks mean.
"Can't we find another Borg ship?" Doc pleads. "A sphere, maybe? Something less imposing?" The senior staff has assembled in Engineering.
"I rechecked long-range sensors," Torres says. "There's nothing."
Janeway's eyes are hard. "This is our target. You'll keep a transporter lock on me. Once I make it to the central plexus and release the virus, you can beam me back."
"In how many pieces?" Doc demands. "It's ridiculous!"
"Agreed," Seven says sternly. "I should go. I'm the only one with experience."
"You're our only connection to Unimatrix Zero," Janeway counters. "You're needed here." She looks around. "It was my decision to help these people. This is my responsibility."
Tuvok interrupts. "Starfleet Tactical Directive 36: 'The captain will not engage a hostile force without the protection of a security officer.' The probability of success is greater if there are two of us."
"Make that three," Torres says. Behind her, Lt. Paris' eyes go wide. "If you're going to pull this off you'll need an engineer in there."
Tom a pproaches. "B'Elanna..."
"Tactical directive 36-A," Torres says.
"There is no directive 36-A!"
"There is now."
Man, those Trek wimmen. What do they feed them, anyway?
Janeway gives Torres a compassionate look. "I appreciate the offer. But if that cube attacks Voyager you'll be needed here." She looks around again, casting her eyes on each officer. "Now you have your orders. Set a course, Mr. Paris." Janeway walks out the door.
Chakotay, who kept his mouth shut throughout the briefing, follows.
I knew it couldn't last.
Chakotay catches up with the captain in the corridor. "Remember when I said I didn't have any objections?"
"Can't this wait till I get back?" Janeway asks impatiently.
"I realize I'm not going to talk you out of this, but I'll be damned if you're going in there alone."
"We've got a lot of work to do, Commander--"
"You said you wanted my support. Then take Tuvok and B'Elanna with you."
Janeway stops in her tracks. "And if I don't?"
Chakotay shrugs. "I may only be first officer, but I still pull a few strings around here. The Doctor could be persuaded to question your medical fitness . . ."
Janeway makes a face. "I was hoping for your unconditional support."
Chakotay shrugs. "This is the best I can do."
Janeway considers her options. Then gives in. "Tell them to pack light."
What's going on here? Are these pod people?!? This is all too easy.
The lights begin to flicker. Looks like someone agrees.
"Janeway to bridge. Report."
"Someone's trying to tap into the main computer," Harry Kim responds.
On the bridge, sitting in the big chair, Harry Kim tracks it down. "It's some kind of transwarp signal. It's activating the com system."
The flickering continues. Then the lights go out on the bridge.
Then a light comes on . . . a familiar greenish light. Harry looks up slowly, and his eyes go wide.
"Captain...I think it's for you."
Janeway arrives on the bridge with Chakotay, and finds a familiar face on the forward viewscreen.
"Captain," says the Borg Queen politely.
If these two ever became friends, the galaxy would be in biiiiiig trouble.
"It's been a long time," Janeway says. "How are things in the Collective?"
"Perfect...for the most part. Voyager?"
"I understand you've established contact with Starfleet. Perhaps you'll be getting home sooner than you expected."
"We could help you . . ." the Queen purrs.
"How so?" Chakotay asks.
"Transwarp technology. You'd find that we can be quite accommodating...but we'd expect the same in return."
Janeway's look is ice. "I'm not sure I know what you mean."
"You know exactly what I mean," the Queen says. She approaches the camera, until her face fills the screen. "Tend to your own crew. Stay away from things that don't concern you."
Janeway drawls right back at her. "I'm afraid I can't do that. But thanks for the offer."
Danger creeps into the Queen's voice. "I won't be as accommodating next time. Reconsider."
The Queen accepts the rebuff in an odd way--she smiles in the direction of Ensign Kim. "We'll see you soon, Harry." With that, the transmission ends, and the lights come back on.
"What did she mean by that?" asks Harry, no stranger to suffering at Borg hands.
Chakotay has other concerns. "Why the stab at diplomacy?" he asks Janeway.
"She's trying to find out what we're up to. She's worried." Janeway has never lacked for hubris.
Janeway looks up at Chakotay. "Have B'Elanna and Tuvok meet me in Sickbay."
* * *
We don't often get to see the Delta Flyer in its shuttle bay. It really is a thing of beauty. Even the name, "Delta Flyer," is written in a flowing cursive script on the port bow.
Inside, Tom and B'Elanna make the final preparations.
"Watch the starboard plasma injectors," Tom says. "They tend to run a little hot at high impulse."
"I'll keep an eye on it," B'Elanna says.
"And the warp matrix is out of alignment."
"By 0.3 microns. Since when are you so meticulous?"
"Since you volunteered for this insane mission." Tom pauses. "You know..." he laughs. "I could sabotage the helm. You'd never make it out the launch doors."
"Then I'd have to put you on report. You might lose that new pip of yours."
Paris comes over, and whispers into her ear. "It'd be a small price to pay."
He's never said I Love You in so many words, but the words he does use are occasionally just right. In spite of herself, Torres smiles.
They resume their work.
"We're in visual range," Tuvok reports.
"On screen," Janeway says from the Big Chair. The cube is visible, but far away.
"Magnify." They might not have wanted to do that--a collective gulp is heard.
"Torres to bridge."
"Go ahead," Janeway says.
"The Delta Flyer is ready for launch."
"On my way," Janeway says.
She makes as though to get up--then she slumps back in her chair with a heavy sigh.
She looks over at Chakotay. "Guess I'd better be going, huh?"
Chakotay nods grimly. "Anything you'd like done around here while you're gone? Gravity plating recalibrated? Carpets cleaned?"
Ah, Chakotay. First officer. Maquis warrior. Domestic goddess.
Janeway holds out her hand. Chakotay takes it. This has been one affectionate bridge this week, hasn't it? First a hug and a kiss between Tom and B'Elanna, now a public hand-holding by Janeway and Tattoo Boy.
"Surprise me," Janeway says.
Still holding hands, the two rise from their seats. The embrace lingers, then ends.
"You have the bridge," Janeway says.
She makes her way to the turbolift. Their eyes stay locked on each other until the doors close.
In Unimatrix Zero, the main players are here. Seven/Annika, Axum, Laura, Korok.
"You need to prepare the others," Seven explains. "When they leave their alcoves they may be startled, disoriented. But they have to behave like drones or we could all be exposed."
"Our ships are scattered across the galaxy," Laura says. "Most of us will be the only drone on board who knows about this place."
"She's right," says Korok. "What can we hope to achieve?"
"We should each gather as much tactical data as we can: what kind of ship we're on, its armaments, location," Axum explains. "Then we'll coordinate our efforts from here."
Reluctantly, the individuals nod, and move off to carry out the instructions.
Axum looks at Seven. "If all goes well, we'll be working very closely together."
"As colleagues," Seven says. "Nothing more."
She hesitates. "Our previous...friendship..."
Axum's nostrils flare. His eyes betray his anger. "Irrelevant. Well, now that I'll be able to retain my memory...I'll keep that in mind."
Well, that went well. Ouch.
We see the Super Cube close up.
And we see just how effective Voyager's firepower is against it. Which is to say, not so much.
The cube responds.
"Report!" Chakotay says.
"Direct hit to their shield emitters! No damage!" Harry reports.
"Increase phaser yield. Where's the Flyer?"
"They're approaching," Tom says. "Heading 017, mark 3."
Janeway pilots the Delta Flyer, which is rigged for silent running. She grimly watches the distant battle, close enough to view without scanners as her ship trades fire with the Borg.
"Voyager has sustained damage," Tuvok says, "but they are continuing their assault."
"Come on, Chakotay," Torres whispers.
A moment passes.
"One of the cube's shield grids is fluctuating--ventral axis, secondary emitter," Tuvok reports.
"Cut primary power," Janeway says. "Thrusters only."
She locks in course.
We get one more shot of the severed drone skulls, still being probed for secrets. It's been a few days; it can't be a pleasant room to work in, olfactorily speaking.
The Queen paces, awaiting their results.
An alarm sounds. You'd think, with millions of cubes, this would be a more common occurrence--but when you're the Borg, maybe folks tend to leave you alone.
The Queen goes to the big board and calls up a visual. "Tactical cube 138 is under attack." She sees Voyager as the Cube sees it--shields aglow, coming in firing.
"Our forward shields are down!" Harry reports.
"The Flyer--" Chakotay asks, rushing over to the helm.
"They're closing," Tom reports. "50 kilometers."
"Maintain fire," Chakotay orders.
"30 kilometers," Paris says. "Twenty."
A tense, BOOMless moment passes.
Tom sighs. "They're in range."
The Queen watches the battle. She's got good eyes for it.
"Enhance grid 6119."
A flyspeck in space is zoomed in on, revealing the Delta Flyer.
"Captain," the Queen says, almost disappointed. "I expected something more cunning from you."
"It's time," B'Elanna says.
"Their ventral shield grid?" Janeway asks.
Tuvok checks. "Still fluctuating at a rate of .06 terahertz."
"Align our transporters to match."
"Aye," Tuvok says.
Team Janeway begins its final preparations.
Paris looks bleak. "They've detected them."
Four large photon torpedo-like ballistics lash out at the Flyer.
The first two take out the shields.
The third blows off the starboard wing.
The fourth takes out the rest.
So it goes. After two years, it's served its purpose, lasting longer than any dozen other shuttles.
Let's just hope the Delta Flyer II is even cooler.
Three figures transport into the Cube. They're carrying the BIG guns--Betsy, Bertha, and Big Bubba.
Janeway practically needs a wheelbarrow to carry hers.
"They're inside!" the Doctor reports.
"Direct hit to the port nacelle! We're venting plasma!"
"Should I back off?" Tom asks.
"No--" Chakotay says.
"--We need to stay close."
Janeway, Tuvok and Torres work their way through the corridors.
On her big screen, the Queen watches them every step of the way.
A few drones appear. The first few phaser volleys work, bouncing the drones like a bad paycheck.
Then more drones come--and the phasers bounce off harmlessly, lighting the drones up but doing little more.
"They've adapted!" Torres says.
Voyager continues to blast away at the Cube.
The Cube continues to blast back.
One particularly lucky shot takes out the port nacelle.
"Hull breach! Deck 11!" Harry yells.
"They're targeting our warp core!" Tom warns.
Chakotay looks back at the Doctor.
Doc looks back helplessly. "No change yet."
The intrepid trio run into the end of the road. A force field blocks Janeway's way.
"We'll have to take the long way around," she says.
They backtrack--and hit another shield.
Janeway looks across the way, and sees the drones approach. "Tuvok," Janeway whispers.
The drones pass through the shields like they weren't there.
A brief hand-to-hand brawl commences. Janeway, Tuvok and Torres hold their own . . . for a while. They take out two, three drones apiece, drone-slapping them with the butts of their rifles.
But there are too many of them. Tuvok, Torres, and Janeway get grabbed, pinned into place--
And the tubules leap into three supple necks.
Tuvok grunts, then falls to the floor. We see the skin go pale, the greenish tint fade to black.
Torres cries out, but is held upright as the transformation takes place.
When Janeway is assimilated, she screams.
The Queen watches the whole thing.
Then she inhales as three new minds join the Collective.
"Their life signs are destabilizing!" Doc says.
"So far, so good," Chakotay says. (Say what?)
"You can take us out of here now, Tom."
Grimly, Tom sets the controls.
Voyager, still under fire, leaps to warp, leaving its captain, tactical officer, and chief engineer behind.
The Borg corridors are as busy as usual.
Three of the drones look familiar.
We don't know their Borg designations yet, but we do know their former, irrelevant designations.
"So far, so good."
What in the world were they thinking?
In the off chance that I'm simply too insightful for my own good and y'all are still on the edge of your seats wondering how this will turn out, I won't say more--and wild horses (or plaintive email) will not drag it out of me. Who knows; they could surprise us all in September/October and take this in a completely different direction. But from where I'm sitting now, the plot is manacled to a monorail with a GPS system stapled to its buttocks.
Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; fans in too much cliffhanger-induced suspense do strange things sometimes. I still remember the horrors of that summer of "Best of Both Worlds" punnery on CompuServe.
Don't get me wrong; I did enjoy "Unimatrix Zero." I was just shocked that they so deliberately telegraphed their intentions.
The Borg Queen is used effectively; the implied grudge match between her and Janeway continues from "Dark Frontier." That the audacious captain of a tiny 150-crew vessel would be such a thorn in the side of a hive-queen of trillions might seem a bit of a stretch, but we've seen that Janeway has that effect on a lot of people.
The Queen is not a nice person. The severed heads method of data-gathering is just one of many clues to that trait. But since she is little more than a severed head herself these days, perhaps she's just lost touch with the average drone-in-the-corridor.
The Queen and Janeway have a similar approach to leadership: anything less than unconditional support is suspect. Janeway sulks when Chakotay doesn't let her go off all by herself. The Queen starts dismantling drones when she discovers that they have a life outside of work, even if it is only in their dreams. So far, Janeway has stayed out of her crew's dreams.
Well, with the exception of the Doctor ("Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy"), Tuvok ("Flashback"), and now Seven of Nine ("Unimatrix Zero"), that is. Well, okay, and everybody else ("Waking Moments,") but that wasn't her idea. And anyway, that's only 150 people.
It's all a matter of scale.
This is an intriguing premise. I liked the ideas of a Borg Resistance movement and Collective-as-Internet enough to put it into my own story, "Best of Both Girls," but the premise and the execution in "Unimatrix Zero" are quite different, and I was pleased with what Sussman, Braga and Menosky came up with. Particularly the idea of a condition that only kicks in during regeneration cycles.
One wonders how the Collective would discover such a thing--or why they would care. Does individuality, even in sleep, detract from perfection? Or does the Queen see the same potential that Janeway does--that any measure of individuality is a threat to control, and that where individuals congregate there is potential for resistance.
The Queen finding Janeway in this virtual space, thwarting her efforts to reclaim her drones, only confirms--and heightens--this potential threat to her order.
I do have some logical qualms about the Janeway Solution. The captain's goal--to let the drones retain their memories of Unimatrix Zero even in a waking state--would seem to be the very thing the Queen needs. The problem the Queen had with the drones they'd identified to that point was that they knew nothing while awake, and therefore couldn't spill the beans. By breaching that firewall, Janeway would seem to be making the Queen's job even easier. All she'd need to do is find one of these Unimatrix Zero drones after they'd been infected, and she could grab the necessary data when they wake up from regeneration mode. Since it's likely that one of the Voyager away team is at the very least a carrier, it would be child's play to grab the newcomer, infect someone, and wait for nature to run its course.
There is also a question about how widespread this virus would be. The goal was to unleash it near the Central Plexus, which would distribute it throughout the Collective instantly. But will it infect only those "one in a million" drones, or will it branch out to infect every drone?
That's one of the questions to chew on over the summer. Doc says he doesn't know what will happen. It could do nothing. It could backfire. It could inflict apocalyptic damage on the unity of the Collective.
With characters as extensively portrayed as Axum, Laura and Korok, however, I suspect we'll see something a bit more targeted. I cannot imagine that they'd really want to bring the Collective to its knees.
It was a bit of a surprise to see three of Voyager's Finest sucking nanoprobes and doing the drone shuffle. Chakotay's "so far so good" suggests that it was part of their PLAN to get the captain, security officer and chief engineer of Voyager assimilated . . . where their minds would be added directly to the Collective's, and thus to the Queen's. So whatever they're planning, they're essentially handing over to the Queen. Along with a whole lot else about Voyager that I'm sure they'd rather the Queen not know.
Apparently the lessons of Locutus are lost on them. Sure, Picard eventually helped save the day, but not before he'd downsized the hell out of the Starfleet roster at Wolf 359.
There's nothing at all stopping Her Queenship from probing those newly acquired and well-informed drones for all their worth, and then shipping them off to the dismantling room. Heck, if Janeway bugged ME that much, and I suddenly became the master of her destiny, I would certainly be tempted to set up another skull spike in the throne room.
Color me cruel, brand me inhumane--but if I was in charge, I'd have been summoning Crewman Celes or Mortimer Harren to Sickbay for one more away mission. They know nothing, they can't give away any secrets--as viral payloads, they'd be ideal. Or maybe Icheb--whose Borg-killing DNA is well established--or that drone infant everyone seems to have forgotten about. Picard wasn't above sending expendables on suicide missions. Sisko certainly wasn't. Kirk is another story.
Anyway, it's not like we wouldn't expect the crew to get them back in the conclusion.
Well, unless it was Harren.
But I digress.
Another one of those Great Unanswerables is how Seven was pulled into Unimatrix Zero--and how she was utterly oblivious to it until now. But no big deal; I'm willing to take the premise as given and see where it leads.
The idea of Seven's other life and "Inner Annika" is intriguing, and I'm certain this will be explored more in the second part. How much it will impact her character as Season Seven progresses is unknown, but I like that it's being brought up. Her relationship with Axum doesn't interest me as much; he seems a nice enough guy, but not exactly her type. But anything that helps Seven of Nine continue her progression as an individual is probably a Good Thing.
The promotion of Tom Paris. Promotions are rare on Voyager; other than Tuvok (and Neelix's "ambassador" title) and Torres' chief engineer assignment, I can't think of any others. Since an entire episode was devoted to the demotion of Tom Paris, I'd expected something a bit more momentous than what we got. Even Tuvok got a party.
Then again, the character of Paris is such that getting chewed out and promoted at the same time seems about right. He never does anything the easy way.
Anyway--it took longer than I would have expected, and his demotion seemed to make little practical difference in the way he was treated by the crew, but I was glad to see him made Lieutenant again.
As for Harry Kim's subtle plea for a promotion . . . who knows. That he brought it up when he did will either give him a shot at it next season, or condemn the poor boy to a lifetime as an Ensign.
On the relationship front, Tom and B'Elanna had their brief but pivotal scenes. Torres giving Tom the kiss on the bridge at his promotion. Tom and B'Elanna arguing in Engineering. Their conversation in the Delta Flyer. Tom isn't exactly a poet with his emotions, but he gets the job done. You know his feelings for B'Elanna will not be ignored in the conclusion.
Compared to the rancor in two-parters like "Scorpion" and "Equinox," it was nice to see Janeway and Chakotay more or less get along. In fact, they seemed to do even more than that. Who knows--maybe that hologram of hers has been a good thing after all. She and Chakotay have been getting along pretty darn well lately. That handholding on the bridge was darn near revolutionary.
The special effects--the detail in Unimatrix One in particular--were breathtaking as usual. The battle scenes were likewise jaw-dropping; I especially liked the faraway view of the conflict from the Flyer's vantage point. The Queen's entrance was another very nice touch.
Anyway. All in all, an enjoyable episode. Not a season favorite, but up there.
Next week: the long summer of reruns begins. See you in the fall.