Star Trek Voyager (VOY) Season 6
Survival Instinct - Barge of the Dead -
Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy -
Alice - Riddles -
One Small Step - The Voyager Conspiracy - Pathfinder - Fair Haven - Blink of an Eye - Virtuoso
Memorial - Tsunkatse - Collective - Spirit Folk - Ashes to Ashes - Child's Play - Good Shepherd
Live Fast and Prosper - Muse - Fury - Life Line - The Haunting of Deck Twelve - Unimatrix Zero I/II
See VOY season 5
Stardate 53049.2: While Voyager is docked to a busy space station, three former Borg drones ask Seven's help to become individuals again. The three and Seven were the only survivors of the crash of their sphere eight years ago. Severed from the Collective, memories of their former lives were resurfacing. When the other three drones refused to return to the Collective, Seven used nanoprobes to tie their minds together, so that they would not be able of independent thinking again. When the attempt to disconnect their brains fails, Seven decides that the Doctor should rather remove their implants than return them to the Borg, even though this would leave them only a month to live.
This excellent episode shows the struggle between individuality and common consciousness more impressively than all other Borg stories so far. Especially the camp fire scene when the four drones begin to remember their former lives is very touching. This is even more remarkable considering that it could easily have turned into silliness if fully armored Borg suddenly don't behave like drones any more and start talking about their childhood or family. Writer, director and actors did a great job to prevent that from happening. When I first watched "Survival Instinct", it temporarily reconciled me with the Borg after some of the previous episodes where they were wasted in that they were first presented as formidable enemies but then eluded much too easily. It clearly doesn't need a direct Borg threat to make a good Borg episode.
I also like that the episode is largely free of inconsistencies, if we generously accept the coincidences that there is still another Borg from the Alpha Quadrant and that the three drones managed to find Seven at all. One important outcome is that individuality rules over uniformity and the latter can only be reestablished by force. The other one is that it wasn't the drone Seven of Nine, but surprisingly rather the little girl Annika that reassimilated the other drones, because she was afraid of being alone. She was not really less of an individual, but she behaved like the little child she was at the time of her assimilation.
- Remarkable parallel: In "One", Seven noted that she had once been severed from the Collective for two hours. This could well reefer to what happened in "Survival Instinct".
- Remarkable quote: "Oh, it's got me by the hair" (Janeway about the plant she has received as a gift)
- Remarkable dialogue: "In the Collective there are billions of voices. They become white noise." - "But with only three..." - "...each voice comes through clearly." (Seven and two of the drones, technically correct)
- The drones:
- Lansor aka 2 of 9, primary adjunct, male member of unknown species
- Marika aka 3 of 9, auxiliary processor
- Bajoran female, officer aboard the Excalibur
- P'Chan aka 4 of 9, secondary adjunct, male member of Species 571
- Remarkable species: Species 521, Shivolian
- Remarkable aliens: There were several aliens with previously seen make-ups. We saw many Voth ("Distant Origin"), which makes sense since the have transwarp drive. There was also someone who looked like Prof. Torat ("Counterpoint") and a member of the "monster hunter's" race ("Bliss"). One alien that didn't make sense at all was the little guy who was seen in the corridor twice and who looked exactly like the alleged Talarian from DS9: "Improbable Cause" (see Races with Changing Faces - Talarians).
Stardate not given: B'Elanna is glad to have survived a shuttle crash, but soon she notices that something is wrong when the whole crew is suddenly fond of Klingon rituals. This is not really happening. She ends up on the "Barge of the Dead" on the way to Gre'thor, the place for the dishonored Klingon souls. Although the Doctor manages to revive her, B'Elanna insists on going back to save her mother, who is supposed to go to Gre'thor for B'Elanna's misbehavior. However, she learns that she is not really supposed to save her mother but rather find her own way.
Preliminary note: When I read the synopsis and one or two short reviews, I expected the worst; when I saw the episode myself it was not quite as bad as I thought. Anyway, I probably can't complain often enough that I am tired of teasers with shuttle accidents; they rather make me yawn than increase my desire to watch the rest of the story. Only the previously unseen shuttlebay approach was a nice variant this time. The shuttle accident, however, is just a side aspect in an overall clumsy plot. Like so many times before, it is the question "illusion or reality?" that keeps the episode somewhat interesting for the first 15 minutes. It reminded me a lot of "Coda". Unfortunately it is the following original part of the story, the Barge of the Dead, that almost ruins the episode and even renders the previous 15 minutes almost completely pointless.
B'Elanna, the infidel technician, in Klingon hell? What the hell? There are different possible interpretations. I would like to believe that she was not actually there and didn't incidentally meet her just deceased mother. Toward the end of the episode this theory is supported by her mother, who says that the whole ritual was meaningless (as we remember too well from "Sacred Ground") and they might meet again when B'Elanna will get home. However, the whole setting was obviously as "real" as a holodeck. How could B'Elanna imagine such a detailed version of Kortar and his barge from a few childhood memories? So is the Klingon afterlife exactly as in the legends after all? I have already written a few lines about the (alleged?) superiority of alien spirituality over human technocracy when discussing "Sacred Ground", and the very same criticism applies here too. Not even Chakotay, the only Terran in 30 years of Star Trek who is a spiritual person, seems to be sure that there is an afterlife.
- Remarkable quote: "I accept there are things in the universe than can't be scanned with a tricorder." (Chakotay)
- Remarkable Klingon: The legend of Kortar, the first Klingon, who destroyed the gods and was condemned to steer the Barge of the Dead for all eternity is a nifty piece of Klingon mythology. He seems to be the Klingon version of both Prometheus and Charon. Kortar's forehead looked "ancient" like that of Kahless.
Stardate not given: A nifty addition to the Doctor's program allows him to play the ship's resident super-hero in some kind of daydreams, healing Vulcan pon farr, being desired by all women and, in the role of the "Emergency Command Hologram" (ECH), blowing Borg ships to dust with his "photonic cannon". Incidentally, an observer on an alien attack ship taps into his program and takes all these fantasies for real. When the observer notices his mistake, he fears to be demoted, and he contacts the Doctor that he should carry on playing the invincible ECH to prevent the ship from being raided.
This may have been the funniest episode ever. It was past midnight when we first watched it, and during the tenor scene we probably roused up the whole house. There are so many scenes and quotes worth remembering that it's not possible to include them all to this short review. In some way it's also a stroll through 30 years of Trek history. There is the Pon farr and the nerve pinch, allusions to TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver" and TNG: "Hollow Pursuits", and a Borg sphere was destroyed. Another merit of the episode is that there was an interesting story besides the mere humor. The Doctor's adventures obviously fascinated the alien whose boring observation job didn't leave much room for imagination.
- Remarkable scenes: Janeway's, B'Elanna's and Seven's struggle for the Doctor during a briefing, the Doctor's painting session with Seven as his nude model - while the real Seven is watching, the Doctor telling B'Elanna that she should return to poor Tom instead of longing for the Doctor's love
- Remarkable aria (original from Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi):
|La donna è mobile
qual piuma al vento,
e di pensier.
Sempre un' amabile
in pianto o in riso,
La donna è mobile
qual piuma al vento,
e di pensier!
e di pensier!
|Tuvok, I understand
You are a Vulcan man.
You have just gone without
For seven years about.
Paris, please find a way
To load a hypospray.
I will give you the sign.
Just aim for his behind.
Hormones are raging,
It's all so veeeery
- Remarkable computer messages: "Warning. Warp core breach a lot sooner than you think." - "Warning. Last chance to be a hero, Doctor. Get going!"
- Remarkable VFX: the Doctor's uniform changing from blue to the red ECH version and four pips appearing on his collar
Stardate not given: Tom purchases a shuttlecraft from a junkyard which he names "Alice". He puts a lot of work into Alice's restoration, not being fully aware that the shuttle needs a symbiotic relationship with the pilot and is controlling his mind through a neurogenic interface. Alice urges Tom to leave the ship, and just before reaching a deadly particle fountain a projection of B'Elanna into his mind manages to distract him, such that he can be beamed out.
"Stephen King's Christine in Space" or "Who the F*** is Alice?" or "Never trust your car dealer" or "Sometimes it's not Harry who has a hapless love affair". There are many names for this simple and predictable run-of-the-mill story. Even without reading any spoilers, it should have been clear from the very beginning that the shuttle would get Tom into trouble and would finally have to be abandoned or destroyed. I am missing any kind of surprise in the plot, for instance a revelation where the shuttle comes from, why she regards the particle fountain as home, why the shuttle strives to commit collective suicide together with her pilot. And why the heck didn't anyone bother to run some tests before Tom linked his brain to Alice? Nothing really makes sense.
There are three positive aspects, though: First, Tom's character is very consistent with previous episodes like "Vis-à-Vis" or "Thirty Days" and several less obvious occasions - or is it already too stereotypical? Anyway, I appreciate if the writers stick to what they have once established, instead of frequently adding completely new characteristics to a person. It might be interesting to ask how much of Tom's excitement about the project was inoculated on him by Alice, considering that tinkering is his passion anyway. Second, my concern that B'Elanna wouldn't play a role (again) in a story built around Tom proved false. Much too often the authors seemed to have forgotten that they are a couple since "Day of Honor". Third, the acting was excellent. I liked the interaction of Robert Duncan McNeill, Roxanne Dawson and the subtly seductive Claire Rankin as Alice.
- Nitpicking: There is still one question that bothers me. How can Tom's vital functions be monitored and how can B'Elanna's image be projected through Alice's multiphasic shields?
- Remarkable shuttle: Tom's father had an S-Class shuttle. I always knew he is the Mercedes-Benz type.
- Remarkable joke(?): "We have already a full complement of shuttles." (Chakotay) - Stop, rewind, play, point and laugh. Yes, he really said that, the ship's chief shuttle scrapper, sincere like the boy lying about the whereabouts of mum's chocolate while still munching the last bit of it.
- Shuttles lost: 1 (albeit none of Chakotay's "full complement")
Stardate 53263.2: Tuvok suffers brain damage after an attack from a cloaked alien. When he wakes up again, his logic and his knowledge are gone. Instead of trying to resume his old position, the new Tuvok strives to have fun and spends much time with Neelix. When the responsible aliens, the Ba'neth, are finally detected and the Doctor develops a cure, Tuvok is reluctant but finally agrees to the procedure to restore his old brain structure.
Is this "Tuvix", part 2? Many aspects have been rehashed, even the "new" Tuvok's reluctance to undergo the surgery to restore his former self - fortunately without armed guards taking him to sickbay this time. The main difference is that its not about the hybrid (and definitely temporary) person Tuvix, but here the very two individuals Tuvok and Neelix are the subject of the main plot. If I recall correctly, we have seen something like a stroke patient only once and very briefly before, after Uhura's mind had been wiped out by Nomad in TOS: "The Changeling". Most times, it was "only" something like accelerated aging or alien parasites that crew members suffered from and changed their behavior. Therefore it was new and remarkable to see Tuvok (and Tim Russ playing him) try to cope with his disability and explore his own personality again. The key scene of the episode seems to be the one when Tuvok recognizes what he has lost ("I *was* an extraordinary fellow."). I can understand that regaining the lost abilities is a long and painful way, and that it is probably easier to do something else, even contrary, just not to be frequently reminded of the loss.
This time I was glad that all the medical or other scientific stuff played only a minor role. It leaves some questions to discuss. In how far are knowledge or intelligence correlated with a certain personality, with likes and dislikes? How can Tuvok or anyone else be sure that his old personality will return after the restoration of his old abilities? I don't think that the old brain with every single synapse can be exactly reproduced or even replicated - I wonder if this was the case in "Spock's Brain", though ;-).
Well, I didn't care too much about the secondary plot - until the alien "Fox Mulder" Naroq, who was previously only interested in finding the Ba'neth, let go the Ba'neth to save Tuvok. Something like this is what I always appreciate about Trek. There is another nice moment: Towards the end I was expecting that some little aspect of the "funny" Tuvok would persist - and I was not disappointed when he picked up Neelix's riddle. The remaining riddle, however, is how the computer could interpret the generic curve on Tuvok's cake as having a certain frequency.
- Remarkable quote: "If anyone can provoke Tuvok, Mr. Neelix, it's you." (Doctor)
- Remarkable music: Vulcan music which the Doctor calls "dreadful noise" (it's not "La donna è mobile" after all). I'm inclined to agree.
- Remarkable ship: The Ba'neth ship is a reuse of the Akritirian patrol ship.
Stardate 53167.9: Voyager is attacked by the Turei inside a subspace channel, and finds shelter on a planet's surface, amidst the ruins of a city destroyed 900 years ago. 600 of the race called the Vaadwaur have survived in stasis chambers - ready to rebuild their civilization. Janeway agrees to an alliance with them to escape the Turei, but historical records reveal that the Vaadwaur were an aggressive species who used the subspace channels to raid other worlds throughout the whole Delta Quadrant. Janeway tries everything to stop the Vaadwaur, but many of them escape and spread through the subspace channels.
We have seen something like this several times before, the most obvious parallel being TOS: "Space Seed". Our crew helps some unfortunate, even helpless people who eventually turn out the bad guys. Nevertheless, I liked to see the story again, especially since the Vaadwaur are a Delta Quadrant species with a lot of potential, like only the Borg, the Voth, and perhaps a few more before. This is why I would like to see them again and learn more of their history, although Neelix' research was already nicely done. I wonder how cruel a species could have been that they their enemies not only defeated them, but completely wiped out their civilization. Obviously the Vaadwaur actually became the victims at some time. In any case their desire for revenge is understandable, since their memory of the war is still fresh. I missed some more character development in the episode. The two main Vaadwaur characters, Gedrin and Gaul, would have deserved more lines, to make their contrary motivations clear. The same applies to the possible conflicts among the Voyager crew. Seven opened the cryogenic chambers without authorization, and Janeway made nothing but two brief remarks about it. An inefficient sub-plot.
In brief, the story would have justified a two-part episode. The special effects were fantastic, definitely among the best the series has shown so far, and they would have sufficed for a two-parter.
- Remarkable dialogue: "We don't know anything about this species. They could be hostile." - "Most humanoid cultures are." (Tuvok and Seven)
- Remarkable VFX: The scenes of the Vaadwaur city being destroyed, and Voyager amidst the ruins. Many of the buildings must have been more than 1km tall.
- Remarkable facts: 900 years ago, the Vaadwaur visited Talax and they also know the Borg. The Borg had assimilated no more than a handful of systems at that time and the Collective has only rudimentary knowledge of it. The Devore ("Counterpoint") have occupied one of the former Vaadwaur outposts.
- Ship landing: #5
Stardate 53292.7: 350 years ago Lt. John Kelly's Mars spaceship Aries IV was swallowed by a phenomenon now known as a graviton ellipse. When Voyager encounters this very same phenomenon, Seven reluctantly joins Chakotay and Tom to pay the ancient spaceship a visit. They hardly escape the ellipse, but Seven salvages Kelly's corpse and his collected data and, moreover, learns a great deal about humanity.
The story sounds simple because it is simple. No treacherous aliens, no space battles, no shipwide emergency, nothing that could take our brave crew home, but just a rusty, primitive spaceship. This is what really moves the crew and especially Seven, rather than the ubiquitous anomaly-of-the-week. When Torres suggests that Seven is feeling nostalgia about her life as a Borg in "Survival Instinct", Seven is almost upset. Ironically it is something like nostalgia (or call it awareness of history) that helps her understand humanity better than any time before. Seven has been taught compassion in "Prey", remorse in "Retrospect", fear in "One", mother instinct in "Drone", fun in "Infinite Regress" and romantic feelings in "Someone To Watch Over Me", but the lesson on humanity's longings seems to be the most successful one.
Agreed, there are some parallels to the awful (IMHO) "11:59", but the plot and especially its implementation couldn't be more different here. Most importantly, exploring humankind's past in the form of the old spaceship is credibly presented as a great opportunity (just like the Mars mission was in 2032), even if still another incredible coincidence is necessary to let the ship show up in the Delta Quadrant. The over-the-top acting of Janeway 2000 and Janeway 2375 in "11:59", on the other hand, was simply pointless. "One Small Step" is a story that entirely satisfies the viewer. "Dragon's Teeth" last week (or as the first half of my video) was a plot with many unexplored possibilities, while this is done nearly perfectly in "One Small Step", neither too excessively nor too casually. I agree that the whole thing could have been more exciting, but there was just enough action to prevent the episode from being a 45-minutes character study of an ex-Borg, which would most likely have failed.
I was only disappointed and a bit annoyed that there was some unnecessary techno trash. For instance, the use of an old part of the Ares IV as a plasma conduit is a silly idea, and I must deny the possibility that a 21st century computer can be reactivated in an instant, let alone all its data retrieved. The most ludicrous idea, however, is the inoculation against "gravimetric radiation". Oh yes, they should save the costs of inertial dampers and simply inoculate the crew against the acceleration.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Clearly Voyager is not yet ready for assimilation." (Seven, alluding to the ship's alleged inefficiency)
- "I did not know this individual. Had I encountered him as a Borg I would have found his technology unworthy of assimilation. But we are more alike than one might think. In a sense, his desire to explore was not unlike a quest for perfection." (Seven on John Kelly's funeral)
- Remarkable facts: Ares IV disappeared on October 19th, 2032, just after Buck Bokai had broken DiMaggio's record (which, however, was supposed to have happened in 2026 so far). The Delta Flyer collected 60 teraquads of data on the anomaly.
- Remarkable starship: The Ares IV was 46 meters long, 92 metric tons, had a 3rd generation ion drive, and a transspectral imager. I'm not completely sure what the latter is, but I might already be working on it. :-)
Stardate 53329: Voyager discovers a space catapult through which the ship may travel hundreds of light years in a matter of minutes. Meanwhile, Seven has downloaded data directly into her cortical implant, and she discovers several details leading her to the conclusion that Voyager's presence in the Delta Quadrant is not a coincidence. She first suspects Janeway of collaborating with the Caretaker to establish a military presence in the Delta Quadrant, and to get home again with the help of the catapult built from the Caretaker Array's remains. She then thinks the same of Chakotay and the Maquis. Finally, when Seven accuses Janeway of being in the Delta Quadrant only to sever her from the Collective, Janeway manages to convince her that this is a paranoia because Seven can't cope with so much data at a time. Voyager uses the catapult and cuts three years off the journey.
The episode was not quite as suspenseful as I expected and as the title promised. The main reason is probably that it is clear from Seven's very first suspicion that there can't be anything true about her conspiracy theories. So this is essentially yet another episode where Seven's frame of mind is endangered. Although the idea of someone betraying their crewmates is interesting, I wonder if not the lack of plausibility, let alone her growing trust and affection to the crew, would outweigh any of the evidence Seven finds for her theories. Fundamentally, it wouldn't even have required the cortical implants to explain Seven's trouble. I think normal human paranoia is much the same, and those who have too much time on their hands to care about our world's problems are likely to develop equally wild theories about government conspiracies, alien invasions or other weird stuff. The simple solution that Janeway just convinces Seven may have been a bit disappointing, but it indicates that it was actually a matter of faith and trust, and yet another lesson for Seven to learn.
The space catapult technology is new to Star Trek and seems to be something akin to the hyperspace gate in Babylon 5. There was a bit of technobabble about it. Nevertheless, we may be able to make up a reasonable theory on how it works. "Photonic fleas" is a silly name, for it suggests these are creatures of pure energy, although they are actually normal insects. The worst inconsistency for a long time, however, is the nearby former Talaxian outpost, which would be tens of thousands of light years away from where Talaxians have ever been before. This is especially annoying since Neelix could have acquired the supplies from any other species.
- Remarkable error: Seven refers to Seska as "Commander", although her rank was ensign (by field commission).
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Warning. Plate is hot." - "Now you tell me." (Janeway was faster than the replicator)
- "You didn't poison the coffee, did you?" - "No more than usual." (Chakotay and Janeway)
- Remarkable facts:
- Tricobalt devices are not part of a starship's usual weapons complement.
- One computer display shows a Jem'Hadar cruiser - falsely upside down like in the Encyclopedia.
- Distance bridged: Voyager crossed 30 sectors, which cut 3 years off the journey.
Stardate not given: Working for Starfleet Command on Earth, Lt. Reginald Barclay is obsessed with the idea to establish a two-way communication with Voyager. He runs simulations on a holodeck recreation of Voyager - not to his commander's pleasure. When he wouldn't stop his efforts, Barclay is relieved of duty. After a counseling session with Deanna he breaks into the lab and carries out his plan, which eventually succeeds just when he is about to be arrested, and Admiral Paris can speak a few words to his son.
There is no doubt that I loved to see Barclay and Deanna once again. The references to TNG, like Barclay playing the hero on the holodeck, annoying Geordi, Deanna's chocolate addiction, and the special pleasure Barclay takes in her counseling sessions were very amusing. The weak points of the story shouldn't remain unmentioned though. First of all, it is ironical that the name "Voyager" is quoted as often as in no other episode, but this one is only marginally about the ship. The events shown here hardly affect the real Voyager. This isn't necessarily a drawback and wasn't one in "Living Witness" and "Course: Oblivion" either, but at times the many references here and the important role the Holo-Voyager play are like sub-titles saying "This is not a TNG, but a Voyager episode". One more thing I noticed is that the story is neither entirely serious nor entirely humorous. Maybe the plot is already too much custom-tailored for the tragicomical character of Barclay who is once again consistent but not necessarily credible. The third point is that Deanna has a notable guest appearance of several minutes, but doesn't play much of a role in the plot. Maybe she encourages Barclay a bit, but he eventually acts completely on his own. Commander Harkins and Admiral Paris turn out to be the far more important characters.
- Nitpicking: There is a bit of nonsensical technobabble in the episode, and especially "hypersubspace" (="upper-lower-space" =normal space?) is a new annoying term. I hope they forget it soon. Barclay's comm console looks amazingly old-fashioned, maybe this can be explained in that it is an experimental setup.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Well, I suppose it all started in the holodeck - doesn't it always?" (Barclay)
- "Did you just move in?" (Deanna, obviously referring to the mess in Barclay's apartment)
- "THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!" (Barclay, frantically shouting)
- Remarkable facts:
- Tom's photo on his father's desk actually shows Nick Locarno, the cadet Robert Duncan O'Neill played in TNG: "The First Duty".
- In Barclay's holodeck program, Chakotay and B'Elanna are wearing Maquis clothes, Janeway has her bun again, and Seven is missing, although more recent data should have been available since "Message in a Bottle".
Stardate not given: Tom has created a holodeck program of a 19th century Irish town, which has become popular among the crew. When Captain Janeway visits the program, she is smitten with Michael Sullivan, the resident barkeeper, and reprograms him to meet her requirements. After a while, however, she decides that controlling everything about him is the wrong way. In the meantime, the program has been heavily damaged while Voyager was passing a neutronic wave, but is going to be repaired.
There is almost nothing special or inspiring about this episode. The scenery of the Irish town is very nicely arranged, but it brims over with stereotypes about Ireland, such as singing, dancing and drinking - and occasional scuffles. Maybe the lack of authenticity is one reason why the episode is so boring. The positive aspect, however, is that for once the holodeck itself doesn't get our crew into trouble, but was just entertaining the whole time. Well, the main plot is about Janeway and her affection to the holographic bartender Michael Sullivan, but I can't say it touched me too much. I wonder why this woman, who should be around 40, behaves like a silly teenager, taking pleasure in reprogramming her lover and regarding the whole thing as a game - which it isn't any longer as soon as she feels something more than only interest. When the Doctor talks to her about that, it is much like a father admonishing his sixteen-year-old daughter. The plot reminds me a bit of "Real Life", where B'Elanna made the Doctor' program more "life-like", but all the excitement as well as further implications of the "love with a hologram" issue are missing this time. Well, after viewing it for a second time, I understand Janeway's motivation a bit better, but I still wonder if that's something Janeway would be so much bothered about.
The sub-plot of the neutronic wave makes me yawn even more instead of cheering up the meager episode - why does it always need a threatening anomaly-of-the-week? It is not worth bothering about it, but it is annoying that the wave is shown as something moving slowly like clouds, although it is supposed to travel at high sublight speeds. Why the wave couldn't be detected with FTL sensors in time is still another question.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "The harp on the sign. It's backwards." (Janeway),
- "You'd make a good barometer, Tuvok. Every time you get queasy, we go to red alert." (Tom)
Stardate not given: Voyager gets stuck in the orbit of an inhabited planet on which time passes much faster than in the rest of the universe. The ship, visible in the sky for many centuries and causing frequent seismic activity, becomes an important part of the planet's mythology and science. A manned mission to Voyager is launched, of which one astronaut survives and stays on Voyager for a while. When increasingly powerful weapons hit the shields, the astronaut, Gotana-Retz, returns to his planet to convince his superiors of Voyager's peaceful intentions. A couple of minutes/years later, he arrives with two advanced ships that manage to pull Voyager out of orbit.
I don't think it is exaggerated to call this one of the most interesting premises in the history of Star Trek. Seeing how the planet evolves and how Voyager plays an important role in this process is intriguing. I find this idea especially cute since I love playing "Civilization" - and I think so does Chakotay. The alien culture is very well presented. It is too akin to Earth in its various stages, but I like the nifty details like the "firefruit", the "Groundshaker", the "Skyship Friends"™, and the competing sports teams. Most of all I enjoy the view of the alien city and how it changes over the centuries. The alien spaceships are very nicely designed too. Each alien character alone, save Gotana-Retz, has only a few lines, but all of them combined play a more important role than in most other episodes where aliens are too often only exotic window dressing for conflicts that mainly take place on Voyager.
Unfortunately the episode is rife with errors that impair the overall fun a little bit. The most important questions are discussed here, but there are several more. The alien writer writes his letter in English. Except for TOS: "Errand of Mercy" and the awful TOS: "The Omega Glory" I can't remember such a mistake in Star Trek. The hot air balloon is covered with fur which looked incredibly silly and would never have worked considering how heavy it would have been. I also wonder why suddenly the warp drive is necessary to leave the orbit. After all engines have failed, the decisive impulse drive is not even mentioned any more. How the holographic Doctor could possibly be the father of a child is something I don't want to ponder about. Finally, once again all docking ports in the universe turned out compatible.
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "A few hours. We might miss the rise and fall of a civilization." - "So we'll watch the next one." (Chakotay and B'Elanna)
- "What if they're big, purple blobs of protoplasma?" - "Then you'll be the best looking blob on the planet." (Doctor and Janeway)
- Remarkable song: "Star of the night, star of the day, come to take my tears away. Make my life, always bright..."
- Remarkable fact: The aliens finally used a tricobalt device to attack Voyager.
Stardate 53556.4: Fascinated by the Doctor's singing, the xenophobic Qomari, who didn't know music so far, invite him to their homeworld. He becomes an opera star very quickly and makes friends with Tincoo, a Qomarian woman. The Doctor decides to resign his commission and to stay, and Janeway reluctantly agrees. When he is supposed to sing Tincoo's new composition, however, this is beyond his vocal abilities. Tincoo develops an improved hologram capable of singing it, and the new hologram's performance turns out much more successful on the planet. Deeply hurt and disappointed, the Doctor returns to Voyager.
The idea is wonderful. There is a civilization of overbearing and xenophobic people, and they don't know any form of music - which may have something to do with one another. Just the other moment they have still complained about the Doctor's inferiority, and now they are charmed and curious when he's singing - and it is not even a sophisticated aria, but "I've been working on the railroad"! Music can bridge cultural differences, can open hearts, and it even has the power to change people. Or so we are led to believe.
Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as it seems in the beginning. The Qomari don't change. They are still convinced they can do anything better and finally prove it when they develop the enhanced singing hologram. In her somehow naive arrogance, Tincoo even thinks that the Doctor should be glad that a new, better hologram is taking his place. One which has the desired vocal range and the Qomarian forehead ridges. One which complies with the Qomarian desire for technical perfection. Was Tincoo ever interested in the Doctor's personality (which she simply copied for the new hologram) or only in his abilities as a piece of technology? I don't know, but there is a woman on Voyager who really cares for him. Seven of Nine has only three brief appearances, but they are all very efficient - in that she is more than sad when he leaves and more than glad when he returns.
From the Doctor's viewpoint the plot is rather simple. The story of the rise and the fall of a star and a desperate comeback attempt, as we have seen it in so many movies before and as it seems to be the case in real life too. Somehow it is much like the boy group that is being adored by their female teenage fans, until they grow up or find something better - be it a new, cooler boy group or the boy-friend in real life. That's show business.
Although they are a tad too stereotypical, I like the way the Qomari are shown. They are all well below 1.60 meters, but they are given a certain distinction and don't play the derogatory roles of dwarfs like small people in most TV shows and movies, especially science fiction.
- Remarkable quote: "What does he do in his spare time? - To how many decimal places can he calculate Pi? - This one wants to know his favorite quadratic equation." (Janeway reading the Doctor's fan mail)
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Weeee are reeeeady to retuuuurn to our shiiiip. Could youuuu contact one of your supeeeeriors?" - "The Caaaaptain is cooooming heeeere now. If youuuu want to taaaalk to her, youuuu can have a seeeeat." (Tincoo talks very slowly and with many gestures to the inferior hologram, and the Doctor returns the favor)
- "If you consider the height of the average Qomar, it's obvious that anyone seated in the back five rows will have an obstructed view!" - "You're right. They won't be able to see anything but the top of your head. The glare could blind them." (Doctor and Torres)
- Seven has new "fan mail" for the Doctor. Seven reads: "Dear Doctor: I regret that your last performance was not as successful as you'd hoped. There are still those who appreciate your unique talents and admire you as an individual. I'll always consider myself your loyal fan." - Doctor: "Who is it from?" - Seven: "It's signed, 'Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One.'"
- Remarkable scene: The Doctor has trouble defying two groupies in sickbay.
- Remarkable scenery: They re-used the Zahl city from "Year of Hell" for the Qomari planet.
- Remarkable starships: There were several starships with saucers and nacelles. Maybe these are failed attempts to model new Federation ships?
Stardate not given: After Tom, Harry, Neelix and Chakotay have returned from an away mission, they are plagued by memories of a war, and soon more of the crew are affected too. Voyager pays the planet where the war has taken place a visit. It turns out that 82 innocent people were killed already 300 years ago, and a monument including a neural transmitter is keeping the memory alive. Instead of destroying it, Janeway decides to provide the memorial with new power cells, so that it will not be forgotten.
The basic idea of the episode is rehashed, considering how often we have seen something very similar before. In TNG: "The Inner Light" Picard lived a life on the planet Kataan which had been destroyed 10,000 years ago. TNG: "Masks" showed how Data was possessed by several personalities of the ancient D'Arsay culture and the Enterprise was being transformed into a temple. In DS9: "Dramatis Personae" the crew were forced to re-enact an old war that wiped out the Saltah'na civilization. Finally, in VOY: "Remember", memories of a massacre on the Enaran homeworld were telepathically implanted into B'Elanna's mind. We also have to take into consideration DS9: "Duet" where the Cardassian Marritza insisted on being the war criminal Darhe'el, to do penance for the crimes of his people. It is hard to compete with most of the above episodes, but I think "Memorial" also fails if it is reviewed per se.
My main point of criticism is that, with all due respect, Janeway's decision to leave the memorial intact and even provide it with new power cells was wrong. Considering that Voyager's crew was already on edge, what might happen on another ship passing by - maybe they would even begin to kill each other, like the Klingons did in "Dramatis Personae"? Even if this won't happen, what gives her the right to expose other individuals to psychic stress or even trauma? What gave the builders of the memorial the right in the first place? I think this is bodily harm, and this is in no way better than implanting false memories as a penalty, like it was done with O'Brien in DS9: "Hard Time". No matter how noble the goal of keeping memory alive may be, this doesn't justify to bother other people with it beyond the point of just telling the story. In our world, we are not likely to force anyone to watch Oliver Stone's "Platoon", let alone real pictures of people being killed. Those who suffered of much more intense impressions in "Memorial" didn't have the chance to leave the theater or turn out the TV - I don't know if it was supposed to have a symbolic meaning that Tom tried exactly this when he appeared on his TV set.
It may have been worth a more controversial discussion, but for harmony's sake, the Captain's decision was silently accepted. Tom, Harry and Chakotay (heck, I almost forgot he has already been deceived in quite a similar fashion in "Nemesis") were strictly against exposing others to the memorial. Disabling the transmitter wouldn't have helped them any more, but I think they knew what they were talking of. Neelix, on the other hand, was of the opinion that the monument alone wouldn't tell the story. I disagree. The story could consist of only a few words, of a recorded voice, of a collection of images. It is in the eye of the beholder. A simple plate saying "This is the place where N innocent people were killed" may have a much more lasting effect than a 100-million-dollar Spielberg movie. There is no true and no wrong way to tell the story, only to compel other people to watch or even re-enact it is wrong.
This takes me to the question if the story as told by the memorial is true at all. Was it built by those who finally won the war or by those who lost? Was it built just after the incident or years later? Finally and most important, where do the very clear and specific memories come from? I believe that an exact re-enactment is impossible, and the more precise the reconstruction looks, the more it may deviate from what really happened - especially if we take into account more or less intentional changes for dramatic and/or ideological purposes. Neelix' opinion that what he saw and experienced is the actual story is even more delusive in this respect. What if he has actually fallen for some sort of propaganda, like Chakotay in "Nemesis" or the Kyrians in "Living Witness"?
Everything was too easily accepted by the crew as being both historically correct and worth the pain here. Picard kept rather pleasant memories in "Inner Light", but he was definitely relieved when it was over. In "Masks" and "Dramatis Personae" the crews were glad to get rid of all the thoughts forced upon them. In "Remember", the situation was somewhat different because B'Elanna was playing an active part, uncovering something that was really about to be forgotten. Marritza was going to help his people by playing the war criminal in "Duet". In both latter cases there was still a visible concrete goal, whereas whoever built the obelisk in "Memorial" hasn't cared about it for a hundred years. This doesn't mean that the massacre should be forgotten - just as it would have definitely been a pity too if the planet Kataan had fallen into oblivion. It's just that not every monument on every battlefield on every planet can have everyone's full attention. There is simply no point in caring about as many historical events as excessively as possible, but we might want to pick one that for some reason touches us most - and this doesn't have to be the one for which the biggest monument was built or the one with the most victims. This is one more reason why the message of "Memorial" completely missed the mark. It was almost as if the memorial was telling people to forget everything else, and only care about those events 300 years ago. Reliving instead of living and reflecting about it. This obtrusive approach doesn't work for the descendants of victims and culprits and much less for aliens just passing by. I somehow have the impression that the people who built the thing are still alive and they avoid the memorial for the sake of a carefree life.
- Nitpicking: Why don't they just beam out Neelix when he threatens the security team with a phaser? They would have had lots of time before Chakotay got dressed. I also wondered why the sensors didn't recognize the memorial as being an artificial structure.
- Remarkable quote: "When Naomi Wildman is sad, she consumes desserts. She claims it improves her emotional state." (Seven to Neelix)
- Remarkable scene: When Tom gets the ancient remote control, he re-invents zapping. I am astonished that 24th century people know more about us than we hoped or feared.
Stardate 53447.2: The crew is on shore leave on the Norcadian homeworld and many of them enjoy the fighting game "Tsunkatse". Seven and Tuvok, however, take a shuttle for a survey mission, but they are captured by Penk, the Tsunkatse organizer, who forces Seven to fight in a match by threatening Tuvok's life. A Hirogen hunter trains her for her second match, a "red match" that will be to the death, but he doesn't reveal that he himself will be the opponent, and that, tired after nineteen years of imprisonment, his intention is to die in the fight. Seven and the hunter are rescued by Voyager before any of the two can finish the match the way it was intended.
I was alarmed when I read that this episode should be about a wrestling-like game and that some WWF wrestling guy would have a part in in it. I don't want to offend anyone who likes it for whatever reason, but show wrestling is about the dumbest kind of entertainment to exist on our planet. I don't believe that anyone takes these clowns for real, so is only bearable with a sound sense for trash. All people who like the WWF may take this as a compliment. Really. Anyway, I was surprised that my preoccupation was wrong. Not about the WWF but about "Tsunkatse" that didn't turn out all that bad.
There was not really a lesson to learn for Seven this time, least of all the one that it is good to have no mercy with one's opponent or "prey". Fighting to kill, no matter if it is for fun or in a war, is always as pointless as it was shown here. If people are nevertheless forced to do it mainly for the pleasure or benefit of others, they are still only instruments, and not really acting on their own. Although Seven knows this, her reaction to this experience is a bad conscience. A quite human reaction. The Hirogen obviously thinks differently about it, since hunting the prey is part of the Hirogen culture, but also because he doesn't know anything else for nineteen years. It is unsettling to think that Seven might have become equally accustomed to violence after some time. The rescue was just at the moment when Seven was about to kill the Hirogen, so the consequences if Seven had really done it were avoided. It reminds me a bit of TNG: "The Most Toys" when Data was beamed out just when he was intentionally(?) firing the phaser on Kivas Fajo.
One thing I disliked very much was that Chakotay, B'Elanna, Paris, Harry and Neelix did appreciate Tsunkatse very much, which was already brutal enough even in the comparably harmless "blue matches". It is clear that they were shocked when Seven suddenly appeared in the arena. On the other hand, shouldn't they, in their roles as Starfleet officers, be at least a bit worried about anyone else fighting there too? Isn't it hypocritical that they accept and even enjoy unknown aliens beating each other, while they consider this too dangerous for themselves and beneath their dignity? Moreover, I wonder if they really didn't know that there were "red matches" to the death too.
- Remarkable dialogues:
- "Two hours, 37 minutes, 13 seconds. That's how long we've gone without verbal communication." - "Why is that remarkable?" - "The Doctor encourages me to engage in conversation during awkward silences." - "Did you find the silence awkward?" - "No." - "Nor did I." (Seven and Tuvok)
- "I've spent the last three years struggling to regain my humanity. I'm afraid I may have lost it again in that arena." - "You're experiencing difficult emotions." - "Guilt. Shame. Remorse." - "Then you haven't lost your humanity - you have reaffirmed it." (Seven and Tuvok)
- Remarkable quote: "The Borg wouldn't know fun if they assimilated an amusement park." (B'Elanna)
- Remarkable guest stars:
- "The Rock" (a WWF star as I have learned)
- Penk was played by Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun)
- The Hirogen hunter was portrayed by J. G. Hertzler (General Martok). Interestingly, Martok was in quite a similar situation as the Hirogen when he was in the Dominion prisoner camp in DS9: "In Purgatory's Shadow".
- Remarkable aliens: Many familiar aliens appear in the episode, including Voth and apparently even members of the "Swarm" species.
- Remarkable fact: "Toby the Targ" is B'Elanna's stuffed animal.
Stardate not given: The Delta Flyer with Chakotay, Paris, Neelix and Kim is captured by a Borg cube. All drones, except for five children, have died from a pathogen. The children are now without any connection to the Collective and are acting erratically. Not aware that the Borg have already given them up, they demand Voyager's navigational deflector to contact the Collective in exchange for their hostages. Eventually, Seven can convince all but one to give up their plan and stay on Voyager.
I think this episode was a wasted opportunity to show an exciting Borg plot. I have to admit that can't tell what exactly I disliked about "Collective", aside from my impression of lacking creativity and imagination in the episode. If we forget for a moment that the children were (or wanted to be) Borg, it was a conventional abduction episode, with the usual negotiations, with some fighting, with an attempt to surprise the enemy, with the old feedback pulse trick, with villains who didn't turn out all that bad at the end. Since the children were not acting as Borg anyway, their looks and the cube were the only Borg-specific aspects. Everything else was like in countless episodes before, and it seems the authors were desperately looking for enough dialogue and effects to fill their 45 minutes. This is what I mean by "wasted opportunity". The visual effects were very nice though. One thing I liked too was that the events of the episode have a lasting effect because the four remaining children will stay on Voyager and the origin of the pathogen will hopefully be revealed in a later episode.
- Inconsistencies: There are some major inconsistencies.
- First of all, doesn't the Delta Flyer have sensors, or why was the cube detected as late as Tom could already see it?
- Also, why didn't anyone bother to collect transwarp coils from the cube? Given how easily they could be installed in "Dark Frontier", Voyager should be home by now.
- Remarkable quote: "They are contemptuous of authority, convinced that they are superior. Typical adolescent behavior - for any species." (Tuvok)
- Remarkable accent: "Resistance is few-dil." Seven's American pronunciation has prevailed over Picard's British "few-tile".
- Remarkable VFX: the Delta Flyer passing the cube and the zoom-out from the Flyer when it is inside the cube
Stardate not given: The characters of the Fair Haven holoprogram have developed an increased awareness for things that are not supposed to happen in their small town. Watching the strange behavior of Harry, Tom, Kathy and their priest, they suspect that their visitors must be employing unholy magic. They kidnap Harry, Tom and the Doctor. Fortunately, Janeway and Michael Sullivan, who has seen the world outside the holodeck, can convince the people to release their hostages and accept that these are different, but not "spirit folk".
"Fair Haven" was already boring enough, but "Spirit Folk", the second episode set in the old Irish town, or rather in what the Voyager crew imagines to be typically Irish, almost made me fall asleep. The episode does have a certain sense of humor, but the main plot has been done so many times before, and so much better. We have seen far more exciting episodes with holodeck characters that suddenly become aware of their environment before, most notably Moriarty in TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data". The even more obvious example that a hologram, once it is given the chance to develop, may make discoveries and have demands that are unpleasant to the "real" people, is running around all along: Voyager's EMH. So what could be so interesting about telling the same story all over again, with the dull people from Fair Haven being in the focus of interest? Fortunately the crew is not too surprised when this happens after Fair Haven has been running day and night. They should have anticipated something like that and taken better precautions though. Therefore I wonder why the characters are not explicitly programmed to simply ignore PADDs, consoles or verbal computer commands that are not directed at them. They should only take the players and everything holographic for real.
Well, I didn't like Michael Sullivan that much in "Fair Haven", but now that he has been reprogrammed by Janeway to a well-educated man, he is convincing in his role as a mediator between the narrow-minded late 19th century Ireland and the world of scientific miracles; he is always both skeptical and ready to learn something new. In this respect he is a bit like Moriarty - although Michael has no evil second thoughts. His discovery of the world beyond the holodeck walls - thanks to the mobile emitter - is what Moriarty always wanted, but I think Moriarty is still exploring the data storage device since TNG: "Ship in a Bottle". What I liked was that Michael managed to deceive Harry and Tom, claiming that everything was all right, such that they thought they were successful in reprogramming him. But it is about the only thing I liked.
One thing that annoyed was the Doctor's role as a Catholic priest. We all know that Star Trek generally avoids to mention the past of possible present significance of (human) religion, and the Doctor as a priest seems to break this rule. While religion would probably mean nothing to him anyway, even the re-enactment of the ritual was incomplete and falsified. We would probably all agree that the Doctor is very good in preaching, but he almost definitely didn't celebrate a complete mass. Even if he had wanted to do it, how could he, since the interior of the church or chapel consisted of a pulpit only, whereas the altar and everything else of importance was missing? There was apparently not even a crucifix or a saint's statue. And where was his correct vestment? Perhaps it was done without showing symbols of Christian faith in order not to offend people of a different or no faith among the TV audience. But if something like this is really necessary, then the idea of the Doctor as a cleric should have been dropped altogether.
- Remarkable error: The by far most frustrating aspect about the episode is that the holodeck characters were able to destroy the holodeck controls with holographic bullets, thereby disabling the safety protocols. If something like this is possible to happen in normal operation (and not only because of someone tampering with it or during an attack), the holodeck is far from being as safe a place as it should be. Of all the various holodeck failures of the series, this is by far the dumbest.
- Remarkable scene: When Harry wants to kiss Maggie O'Halloran, Tom turns her into a cow.
Stardate 53679.4: Lindsay Ballard was killed in a Hirogen attack over two years ago, but now she returns, genetically altered by the Kobali, a race procreating by salvaging dead bodies of other species. It was not intended that she remembered that much of her former life, but she wanted to return to Voyager ever since, she escaped and is now chased by the Kobali. The Doctor restores Lindsay Ballard's human appearance and Harry, an old Academy friend, helps her to resume her old life. Nevertheless, Lindsay comes to realize that she has changed more than she wanted to admit. When Voyager is on the verge of an armed conflict with the Kobali, she eventually returns to them.
Preliminary remark: This episode is only enjoyable if we completely gloss over the fact that Lindsay Ballard never showed up in the first three seasons, although she purportedly used to be a close friend of Harry's. I will refrain from further commenting on this unashamed discontinuity, but I can't help the impression that we have seen something like this before. In "Latent Image" it was Ensign Ahni Jetal, who was added to the toll of the road after being dead for already quite a while. Just like Lindsay, she was quite a cutie. Like Lindsay, she had been killed on an away mission with Harry. I wonder why they didn't simply resurrect Ahni for this episode, or if they thought about that, but the actress was not available. It would have been so much more credible.
Anyway, Lindsay Ballard seems quite determined and self-confident at first. I think it becomes clear that this is not really a sign of strength, but is rather meant to assure her former crewmates and also herself that life could be the same again. While her human appearance can be restored rather easily, there is actually an opposite process going on in her mind. The first sign is that her taste is still Kobali, and she doesn't enjoy her former favorite human dish. Then she inadvertently speaks Kobali in engineering. Nothing to worry about so far. But then there is the disastrous dinner with Janeway when she obviously doesn't know what she's saying and even thinking: "In letting me die, Captain, you gave me life." Wow. The next problem is that she doesn't remember her father on Earth, and finally the Doctor discovers that her Kobali DNA will prevail and that she has to get injections twice a day if she wants to keep her human look. It is too many changes at once for her, and even though the crew fulfills all her expectations and even more (quite unlike in her illogical dream sequence where they refuse her), Lindsay has to submit to her new Kobali DNA and life. I am only afraid that this is not be what she really wants either. Her remarks at the dinner with Janeway and her dream clearly show that there is a deep inner strife in her which can't be settled with a fast decision.
And yes, I noticed the similarity to TNG: "Suddenly Human", but the difference was that Jono/Jeremiah in the TNG episode never knew anything other than the Talarian society which, however brutal, was his only home. In this respect the character Jono himself was not really in a dilemma, whereas the general cultural clash in TNG was much more severe than here, also considering that Jono had been abducted by enemies who had killed his parents.
I like the beginning of the episode when Lindsay speaks Kobali and then switches to English when she contacted Voyager. This little sequence made clear how decisively the built-in universal translator of every TV set usually influences our view of an alien species. Species that are, at least occasionally, speaking in their own language appear a lot more alien and not just like humans with make-up.
- Continuity: If Mezoti is Norcadian, the only reason for Voyager not to return her to her home planet would be that after all the trouble with the Tsunkatse guys they would not be welcome there. I don't know if Mezoti should be glad about having to stay on Voyager.
- Remarkable quote: "Fun will now commence." (my new favorite Seven quote!)
- Remarkable dialogue: "Commander Tuvok finished his analysis of your shuttle and presented me with 37 different ways of repelling a Kobali attack." - "Did he include your pot roast?" (Janeway and Lindsay, alluding to Janeway's burnt replicated pot roast)
- Remarkable species: 689, Norcadian (Mezoti)
- Remarkable ship: Although they are using up the Ramuran design, I find the Kobali ships quite nice - something in between Ferengi and Klingon look. Unfortunately we won't see them again, unless the ships are re-used again...
- Crew losses: 1 (one time and another)
Stardate not given: Icheb, one of the four Borg children, is about to be returned to his parents, but he doesn't like living on a poor planet where he can't pursue his interests in astrophysics. Moreover, the Brunali planet where he grew up is permanently threatened by a nearby Borg transwarp conduit. After he has become a bit more accustomed to his planet and parents, Voyager leaves. Seven, who has always been reluctant to let him go and suspicious about his parents, finds inconsistencies in the story about his alleged assimilation. Icheb was actually genetically engineered to infect the Collective with a pathogen. Voyager rescues him just when he is about to be assimilated a second time.
Only one episode later, here is yet another story of someone trying to find his true home. This time the similarity to TNG: "Suddenly Human" may be even stronger, considering that Icheb doesn't have any interest to return to his planet and parents. The story is not very original until the revelation that Icheb was intentionally given to the Borg for assimilation to infect them with his pathogen. At least, it is a more dramatic variant of the sacrifice of Species 6339 in "Infinite Regress", where it was "only" an infected technical device. What I like about "Child's Play" is that the revelation comes about completely unexpectedly, also because we are somehow used to Seven's conspiracy theories being wrong at latest since "The Voyager Conspiracy". This time, however, not only her objections concerning the boy's safety, but most of all her concerns about the parents' sincerity prove right, as if she has developed some sort of mother instinct. Considering how their relationship would further develop, I was not mistaken and I would not be disappointed.
I like the consistency with "Collective". For once, something is picked up with deliberation. Well, the transport ship was a re-use of the Caatati vessel, but who cares. Quite unimaginative, however, is the old trick with the photon torpedo that explodes aboard the transport ship, as already in "Dark Frontier", as well the fact that the Borg can be outwitted with ease once again.
Overall, this is a routine episode that comes up with an unexpected twist towards its end, too late to unfold its true potential.
- Remarkable quotes:
- "When the project began, they wanted to clone Naomi. But I suggested they start with something smaller." (Seven about the Borg Twins' cloned potatoes)
- "With all their technology, with all their opportunity to explore the galaxy... the thing they want most... is to get home." (Icheb's father)
- Photon torpedoes used: 1
Stardate 53753.2: During Seven's shipwide efficiency check Janeway discovers that three inefficient crew members have never been on an away mission. Mortimer Harren is rather interested in cosmology than in his job, Tal Celes feels incompetent and uncertain about everything she's doing, and Billy Telfer is a hypochondriac. Janeway takes them on a mission to a cluster of protostars where the Flyer is damaged by an unknown phenomenon that turns out a threat by an alien lifeform. Janeway needs all her persuasive power to encourage the three to overcome their problems and work as one crew to their rescue.
It was about time that, after "Learning Curve" in the first season that was (too) specifically about Maquis discipline problems, the series cared more about the "Lower Decks", in the same fashion the TNG episode of the same name did. The interesting aspect this time was that the three "inefficient" crew members (according to Seven) wouldn't have stayed for long on a normal starship, but with Voyager stuck in the Delta Quadrant there was no other choice. On the other hand, their reluctant behavior may be a problem to explain, since the three should already have changed since "Caretaker". It would have been better to show an episode like this in an earlier season. Mortimer Harren was as unenthusiastic as I would expect it from many others on the ship, but he seemed overly arrogant to me. I don't think it is credible that he spent six years, besides occasionally re-routing power, with his studies of the Big Bang. Either he should have become a more pleasant guy, or it would have destroyed him. Well, maybe his attempt to sacrifice himself is a sign of the latter? Tal Celes should have learned through practice, at least her persistent uncertainty seemed overstated and overacted. Billy Telfer, finally, has survived countless Kazon, Vidiian and Borg attacks. If this couldn't heal his hypochondria, I don't know what else could help.
While the character interactions worked despite their missing profoundness, I found it frustrating that first an anomaly-of-the-week and then even aliens-of-the-week living inside this anomaly had to appear, only due to a lack of better ideas of how to challenge the crew. If we disregard the idea to involve the three "problem children" for a moment, this was one of the least creative and imaginative premises ever and, moreover, bad science. It's just not worth further pondering about it. I'd like to point out only one annoying detail, that with 90% of the antimatter supply gone the Flyer was supposed to run at Warp 2 only - clearly they confused energy and power.
- Remarkable VFX: In the teaser, the camera first zooms in from a total view of the ship to Janeway behind the window on deck 1. At the end of the teaser, it zooms out from Mortimer's lonely window in deck 15. That was both meaningful and eye-candy - although I doubt there was always supposed to be a window in deck 15. ;-)
- Remarkable guest: The crewman showing Janeway where to go deck 15 is Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against The Machine.
- Remarkable ship: We get to see the Delta Flyer's escape pod.
- Remarkable bloopers: There is the MacOS (or Windows?) failure notice on one of the LCARS screens (on the Flyer's retractable biobed), and then there is a mouse cursor on another one.
Stardate 53849.2: Impostors are playing the roles of the Voyager crew. They cheat their business partners by selling goods they don't deliver, or even by offering Federation memberships for sale. The good reputation of Voyager being endangered, Janeway tracks down the impostors and manages to capture one of them, Dala aka "Janeway". Dala escapes with the Delta Flyer and heads for her fellows' ship, only to be overwhelmed by Tom and the Doctor who have already been waiting for her. The Doctor, disguised as Dala, manages to arrest the two missing swindlers too.
The appearance of "Janeway" and "Tuvok" in the mining colony was among the funniest things I have seen lately. The too large comm badges and the not quite perfect fit of the uniforms reminded me a bit of fans disguising as Starfleet officers on conventions. There was one thing that was almost perfect though. Aside from their seemingly extensive knowledge of Starfleet protocols and spirit Dala's and Mobar's voices are very close to the originals. When I closed my eyes, I could hardly hear a difference.
The whole episode was very entertaining, although it was quite clear which direction it would take. Everything we could expect to see was fulfilled. Janeway faces Dala (and they exchange some "compliments"), Tuvok faces Mobar (and "Tuvok" is quite a bit impressed seeing the real Tuvok), Tom and Neelix who were fooled by Dala and Mobar return the favor, and finally the impostors are defeated with their own methods when the Doctor disguises as Dala. I especially liked Janeway's face-off with Dala. Unlike we have seen the Captain in similar situations before, remembering especially her rage about Ransom's misdeeds in "Equinox", she is quite composed, maybe even a bit amused when talking to Dala. Janeway may have learned a lesson about adequate reaction. There are much worse things in the Delta Quadrant than a few thieves, even if they damage Voyager's and Janeway's reputation.
The three impostors were all quite convincing, and they were given the chance to show that they are three distinct characters and not just the evil guys (and girl) of the week. Dala ("Janeway") didn't enjoy the whole game. She was obviously tired of working with her two fellow thieves, and there was no motivation about it than to gain a fortune. At times I had the impression that the charm with which she played her role was real, though. Mobar ("Tuvok") was much more into his role than required. It was almost incredible that he walked around in his Tuvok uniform the whole time and occasionally said things the real Tuvok couldn't have expressed better. Zar ("Chakotay") hardly resembles Chakotay and he played his role only once. Nevertheless, he seemed to enjoy the whole fraud, as long as it was successful.
There was also the secondary plot about Neelix's and Tom's misfortune. While their remorse was credible, the idea to fool the Doctor with the shell game was silly. I think striving to prove that other people, even the Doctor, may be deceived is a quite childish attempt to make up for their failure. The least creative idea of the episode was that Neelix's heating coil caused malfunctions throughout the ship. This reminded me too much of his infectious cheese in "Learning Curve". One thing that bothered me is that the old ship of the impostors was still ahead of Voyager after 18 days, although they have stopped at several planets for their transactions. I also didn't like that they gave the potential "Federation member" a Nihydron ship from "Year of Hell" instead of some less salient ship.
- Distance to go: 30,342.4ly
Stardate 53896.0: On the search for dilithium the Delta Flyer with B'Elanna crashes on a planet that is home to a civilization on the cultural level of ancient Greece. The poet Kelis uses B'Elanna's story for one of his stage plays, which becomes a great success. Especially the local patron is thrilled and wants another performance the following week. While she is going to fix the subspace transmitter to call for help, Kelim is preparing a play about B'Elanna's rescue. After Harry, who survived the crash in an escape pod, has helped her to make contact with Voyager, the Flyer is salvaged, but not before B'Elanna has given Kelis active support with his new play.
Nothing too decisive or exciting happens here, but that's just the charm of this episode. The play in the play is fascinating in many aspects. First of all, it is fun. While Star Trek has been borrowing elements from Greek tragedy and Shakespeare dramas for decades, it is only fair that the classical theater returns the favor and turns Star Trek into a stage play. I always knew that Starfleet language does have poetic qualities. Most of all, I enjoyed "Seven of Nine, Queen of the Borg", revealing her secret to the audience, and "Janeway" secretly telling the audience that she already knew about it.
As unusual and amusing it is to see Trek stories performed on stage, by actors with masks and supported by a chorus, as credible and plausible it appears that the simple people on this planet are fascinated by the story of the "Eternal" B'Elanna Torres, and that the ensemble would choose these means to perform it. I think it was intentional that the alien scenery was like ancient Greece, and their understanding of both mythology and arts was much the same. Moreover, like it was in many cultures on Earth too, a strict, cruel and overall unpleasant ritual in the temple was first moderated and subsequently became popular as a play irrespective of its original meaning. Like in "Blink of an Eye" earlier in this season, it doesn't turn out a drawback that the alien culture is too human once again. On the contrary, the analogy to Earth shows how the fantastic and unknown may enrich arts as much as it may lead to scientific discoveries and social progress, all of which are related to each other.
"Muse" is also successful in somehow reconciling the modern concept of sci-fi with ancient literature. The rules and methods of performing may be considerably different, but the very heart of it, a good story, is always most important. Thus, it is possible to show Star Trek as a "cheap" stage performance without losing any significance. Moreover, Kelis' traditional plot elements of "mistaken identity - a character who is someone else", "discovery - the moment when that identity is revealed" and "reversal - a situation that turns from good to bad in a blink of an eye" are not that much different in our culture and time either. It is an ironical detail that exactly these elements unintentionally get into "The Rescue of B'Elanna Torres" when B'Elanna's true identity is revealed and the patron takes this as a part of the play.
Probably every author in every epoch tries to achieve something beyond the mere entertainment. This purpose of arts and literature becomes even more important, as soon as it isn't supposed to mainly serve or please the Gods any more. If the Gods don't determine everyone's destiny or are not believed to do it any longer, caring about the world and themselves is up to the people. We don't know how far their society is actually advanced, but Kelis may be one of the first to be really concerned about his world, something that has already a long tradition in the Federation. In Kelis' play, Janeway refrains from killing the Borg Queen, namely Seven of Nine. It is obvious he has gained just the missing bit of inspiration to pursue his goal from the Starfleet databanks, as well as from his muse. As for the salubrious effect on the patron the play was supposed to have, I was glad that this didn't lead to a too simplistic and naive conclusion that the stage performance prevented a war - this would have meant about the same for the episode as Kelis' idea of everyone kissing everyone else in the original version of his second play. Many plays impressing many patrons may have a lasting effect though. If there are more people like Kelis, progress can't be detained.
So far for the rather intellectual comparison of modern science-fiction TV with ancient Greek tragedy. I'm anything but an expert concerning the latter, so I may have missed several aspects. There is, however, one tip of the hat that I definitely understand. Kelis' group performs a new play the same time next week, and this sounds a lot like the Star Trek airing schedule. Is it rather meant to show that great minds think alike, or is the chaotic way "The Rescue of B'Elanna Torres" was created a hidden excuse that not every weekly show can be perfect? Also, Kelis, although he fundamentally got everything about Starfleet right, is very creative in changing established characters, which Star Trek authors are sometimes said to do too.
- How could B'Elanna stay unconscious for eight days, while Kelis was writing his first play about her?
- Another annoyance is that the dilithium alone is supposed to serve as a power source. Agreed, this complies with some statements in TOS, but since TNG dilithium is supposed to guide matter and antimatter, the actual power source.
- Remarkable fact: We see raw dilithium, which is called "Winter's tears" by the indigenous people.
- Remarkable quote: "These stories will continue. For as long as we have the breath to tell them, and as long as our patrons remain wise and compassionate. And Voyager will continue on her journey to the gleaming cities of Earth, where peace reigns and hatred has no home." (The final words of "The Rescue of B'Elanna Torres")
Stardate not given: Old and bitter about the course her life has taken, Kes returns. She kills B'Elanna and uses the warp core for a time travel to her first year on Voyager. She disguises as her younger self and transmits tactical data to the Vidiians so that they may capture the ship, in exchange for safe passage to Ocampa for young Kes. During the battle with the Vidiians, Janeway gets aware that it was a Kes from the future who betrayed her. Kes' telekinetic powers leave Janeway no choice but to kill her. In the present, when Kes is just about to pursue her plan again, Janeway and Tuvok, now with the knowledge of the past, manage to stop her in time and convince her that her life is not all that bad.
Whenever a character returns from the dead, from a parallel universe or from a similar place, we may expect something extraordinary like the captain's summit in "Star Trek: Generations" and especially Tasha's memorable appearance in TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise". VOY: "Fury", however, showed hardly anything original, but was much like a reissue of "Relativity"; only Braxton was replaced with Kes, and much of the weird and funny plot complications were simplified. This makes the many logical flaws even more striking, although they were present in "Relativity" likewise.
The time travel problems of "Fury" are obvious, and this is something we have gotten used to. The more annoying continuity problem is that Kes seems to have undergone yet another strange metamorphosis since she vanished. In "The Gift" she evolved to some sort of higher being. Her shuttle was destroyed, while she evidently survived the explosion and must have entered a different realm of existence. Her powers were that advanced that she could move Voyager thousands of light years across Borg space. Now she reappears, aged like a normal Ocampa, in a shuttle that she obviously needs to travel through space and to transport herself aboard Voyager, and gives Janeway the chance to kill her with a phaser. Only some telekinetic powers are left. Moreover, Kes has become bitter and cruel. That is definitely not the always kind person we used to know. It is just not credible that a person can change that much, but the problem gets even worse. Aside from my frequent remarks on free will and the inevitable change of the timeline once the future is known (most notably in my analysis of "Before and After") my particular problem is why young Kes, in the second turn, nevertheless evolves to the bad old Kes who, at the very same time (just after Janeway has replicated Tuvok's birthday cake) pursues the very same revenge plan. She would have had plenty of time to reconsider her own future which would have been definitely different in one way or another. It is even less credible that in the end bad old Kes can be convinced to refrain from her plan to betray her friends to the Vidiians. Summarizing, Kes' motivation remains a complete mystery at any time. I can't tell whether I can understand the logic, whether I'm supposed to understand it or even want to understand it.
Another thing I didn't like were Tuvok's premonitions that were anything but logical. They may be partially explained by old Kes' presence, but why does he see things from the future even she can't know, like the Borg children? Since his visions don't play a great role in the plot anyway, they are nothing more than just the scary scenes of the week.
There are a few aspects I liked, though. Continuity was good, since the first season was well reconstructed, including Janeway's bun, Lt. Carey's presence (Is he dead, or why does he only show up in flashbacks?), the Doctor's acceptance problems, Wildman's pregnancy, the Vidiian ship (although this specific type didn't show up until season two) and the correct rank pips. On the other hand, it is annoying that Tuvok is suddenly said to be less than 100 years old. In this case he could have been at most 16 years old when he was on the Excelsior in 2293.
- Remarkable quote: "It was a fire hazard." (Tuvok's excuse for blowing out the birthday candle against Vulcan custom)
- Remarkable appearance: Lt. Carey
- Photon torpedoes used: 3, provided that the Vidiian attack did happen
Stardate not given: Lewis Zimmerman, creator of the EMH, is terminally ill. The Doctor, informed by Reginald Barclay, however, thinks that he might have a cure for him. He is transferred to Jupiter Station, but Zimmerman refuses all help, least of all from an outdated hologram EMH-1, since there is already an EMH-4. Barclay and Troi devise a plan to render the Doctor's program unstable, so that Zimmerman has to repair it and may agree to be treated himself. They succeed, and after the treatment Zimmerman is likely to recover.
Zimmerman is as stubborn and sarcastic as the Doctor or, as Deanna, unusually desperate, expressed it: "You're both jerks!" For once it was up to her to say the key line of an episode, although she and Barclay rather stayed in the background and left the acting parts to the two jerks. I was fun, but it is remarkable that between the lines the tone of the episode was rather tragical. Zimmerman, blunt as he is, tells Barclay: "You don't have any friends." He could have said just the same about himself. Maybe his dedication to holographic research and his misanthropy favored and amplified each other, so that he ended up in an all-holographic environment where he could create and delete his friends as he liked it. This could be an allusion to the present-day problem of people whose only company is their computer. Anyway, even in his isolation, Zimmerman developed something like a friendship and he didn't deactivate Haley in eight years. And after all, Zimmerman and Barclay obviously like each other, because they are both lonely, although the reasons are different.
The best about the episode are the countless little details and trivia, including Zimmerman's holographic environment with his assistant Haley, a talking iguana named Leonard, an Ellora woman (first seen in "Star Trek: Insurrection") who turns out to be a disguise of the Doctor, and a spy fly as a running gag until the Doctor kills it. Everything is well-considered and works well together. The "phone call" sequence from Earth to Voyager at the beginning is very nice as well. It is good to see some eye-candy here and then, and not 100% of the time filled with action or dialogue. I also like Jupiter Station very much. The design is quite convincing, considering that these may be surplus starship hulls, or at least components fabricated in the same fashion, to ease the construction.
- Janeway says the Doc's first transfer (in "Message in a Bottle") was three years ago, but it was actually only a bit more than two years.
- Zimmerman claims that he hasn't left Jupiter Station for four years. This is almost correct, since it was around 3 and a half years that he visited DS9 in "Dr. Bashir, I presume?".
- While Voyager computer data amounts are absurd anyway, it is incredible that only 12 megaquads of the Doctor's program have to be left behind, whereas his personal subroutines amounted to 15,000 gigaquads already in VOY: "The Swarm".
- Remarkable quotes:
- "Have you had intimate relations with a Bolian?" (Doctor), "I'm a Doctor, not a zoo keeper." (Doctor)
- "You're both jerks!" (Deanna)
- "It's a remarkable facsimile, but Mr. Barclay did get a few of the details wrong. For one thing, Neelix doesn't purr." (Doctor)
- Remarkable Zimmerman quotes:
- "You're still searching for that ship? What's it called...Pioneer?"
- "He's a Mark One, he's obsolete. I'd be safer in the hands of a Klingon field medic."
- "Show the good Doctor to the plasma generator. I understand there's quite a buildup of residue."
- "Oh, of course. You can sing and dance. I should install you in a Ferengi night club."
- "Oh, well. The last beautiful woman to walk in here turned out to be him."
- "Do you know how humiliating it is to have 675 Mark Ones out there, scrubbing plasma conduits - all with my face?"
- Remarkable dialogue: "What were your initial symptoms?" - "Radical hair loss." (Doctor and Zimmerman)
- Remarkable fact: Zimmerman won the Daystrom Prize for holography.
Stardate not given: When Voyager crosses a Class-J nebula and all power systems are offline, Neelix is in charge of the four Borg children. To distract them, he tells them a scary story of a mysterious non-corporeal lifeform that invaded Voyager some time ago, caused multiple malfunctions and finally forced the crew to leave the ship and shut down life support. It remains unknown how much of his tale is actually true.
There were both original and much too familiar plot elements in this episode. If something aside from shuttle crashes has been shown on Voyager much too often, then it is mysterious energy lifeforms and shipwide system failures. It was something like "Cathexis" (an energy lifeform trying to get back to its nebula), "Twisted" (a mysterious lifeform disabling the ship, directing turbolifts to the wrong deck and crawling through the Jefferies tubes), "Macrocosm" (Sarah Connor Janeway fighting the alien threat until her last breath) and a few more episodes mingled together.
I notice as late as now when I'm writing this that exactly these similarities may have been intentional. What if Neelix simply combined all the previous scary events to one? If this was the point of the episode, it didn't get clear at all. If it was just another "strange-lifeform-takeover" plot, it was rather boring. Well, at least the sequences when all lights and other systems were switched off and the face in the nebula were a bit scary. And Janeway's continuing problems with the replicator were fun. One thing I also liked is that the alien lifeform used standard computer messages to communicate with her.
- Remarkable dialogue: "All right. Gather round. But I'm warning you. This is not a tale for the faint of heart." - "We're not faint of heart." - "Our cardiopulmonary systems are reinforced." (Neelix, Mezoti and Icheb)
- Remarkable error: "Concentrate on the rhythm of your breathing. Envision your lungs filled with light." (Tuvok to Neelix - singular, Mr. Vulcan!)
- Remarkable appearance: I enjoyed very much that Tal Celes from "Good Shepherd" returned. For once, we could see one of the minor crew members again who otherwise use to disappear after one episode.
- Remarkable species: Species 5973, multi-spectrum particle life-forms in galactic cluster eight
Stardate not given: A virtual place called "Unimatrix Zero" is the refuge for a number of Borg drones while they are regenerating, but this paradise is about to be destroyed when the Queen notices the absence of these drones from the collective mind. The renegade drones ask Seven of Nine for help. She spent five years in Unimatrix One herself where she fell in love with a fellow drone, Axum. Janeway devises a plan to spread a nanovirus that would allow the Borg to keep their memories and individual thoughts after their regeneration so that some sort of resistance movement could be formed. Together with B'Elanna and Tuvok she infiltrates a Borg tactical cube. The Delta Flyer is destroyed, and the three officers are assimilated. Their individual thoughts still intact with the help of a neural suppressor, they proceed to the central plexus of the cube and release the virus. Tuvok, however, receives subconscious messages from the Borg Queen and reveals their plan. The Queen begins to destroy whole infiltrated Borg ships to force Janeway to surrender. Janeway gives Chakotay a cue that Unimatrix Zero can't exist any longer, and he disrupts the interlink frequency, thereby destroying the Unimatrix, but preventing the renegade drones from being detected. With the help of the Klingon drone Korok, who has taken command over his sphere, the three officers can be freed from the tactical cube just before the Queen orders its self-destruction.
Are they completely out of their minds? Voyager conducts a suicide attack against a heavily armed tactical cube, and Janeway, B'Elanna and Tuvok have no problems with allowing themselves to be assimilated? We have seen Voyager in many extreme situations, but this time they went totally over the top, and it was even fully voluntary. There should have been fierce controversies whether the goal justifies all these dangers and sacrifices, but unlike it was the case in similar situations in earlier episodes (most notably in "Scorpion"), there was nothing like that here. There were only three brief and not really controversial discussions between Chakotay and Janeway, B'Elanna and Tom, Tom and Chakotay, ending with everyone assuring their support for everything. It is undeniable that the crew has grown together in their six years on the ship, but I wonder if this includes following their leader into death when she is waging her private little war. Keeping in mind that Axum's original intention was just to maintain Unimatrix Zero, Janeway's extended plan to destabilize the Borg Collective doesn't just violate "half a dozen of Starfleet protocols". Even before it becomes obvious that there would be no way of preserving Unimatrix Zero, she already has in mind to use this weakness against the Borg instead of just letting things go. She doesn't really seem to realize that the drones in Unimatrix Zero are individuals and maybe not all of them would like to die in her fight against the Collective. It is much of Janeway's very own feud with the Borg, and the Borg Queen gladly takes up the gauntlet.
The basic idea of "Unimatrix Zero" is fascinating though. In every totalitarian system there is still room for a resistance movement, one whose essence is not really fighting with weapons but free thinking, like it was the case in Orwell's 1984. The Borg Collective is no exception, and it is just too large that certain circumstances wouldn't allow at least a few of its drones to keep part of their individuality. The parallel to the groundbreaking movie "Matrix" is undeniable too. Unfortunately the missing tension in character actions and interactions as well as the inadequate easiness of attacking Borg cubes, being assimilated and restored again plus many unnecessary inconsistencies spoil much of the premise. The writers and producers obviously tried to repeat the success of "Dark Frontier", but the latter episode was definitely the better drama with much more pointed dialogues. One reason for the direction "Unimatrix Zero" had to take was certainly that it appeared a bit more dramatic to the viewer when Tuvok, B'Elanna and Janeway were assimilated in the cliffhanger at the end of the season without the knowledge that it was intentional. On the other hand, Chakotay's statement "So far, so good" was a clear hint that this was part of the plan. If the mission had really failed at this point, it would have been a sarcastic remark we could least of all expect from him.
Aside from the general criticism there are countless particular errors and flaws in the episode, maybe more than ever before. First of all, why is Tom promoted and not Harry, considering Tom's occasional misbehavior, in particular his almost fatal obsession with "Alice"? How come that Seven's dream here should have been her first one, although she clearly dreamt in "One" before? How can Seven be contacted from Unimatrix Zero, considering she has been severed from the Collective? How and why did she suppress her memory of this place so long? During the episode the virtual environment becomes more and more like the real world. How do "virtual bat'leths" and "virtual assimilation tubules" work inside Unimatrix Zero? Why don't Axum and Korok simply use "virtual disruptors" to defend themselves and the Borg who came there just release a "virtual multikinetic mine" to destroy the whole thing? How can a physical nanovirus -as opposed to a computer virus- be delivered throughout the Collective? If it is possible though, the same may have been achieved by simply releasing it inside Unimatrix Zero! Voyager fires phasers from all possible and impossible locations, even from the nacelles. When Janeway orders B'Elanna to release the nanovirus, she says "Download the virus", which should mean "upload", of course. Tuvok's birthrate of stardate 38774 is way off, no matter if we compare it to TOS, movie or TNG stardates. Moreover, Tuvok is said to be born on "Vulcanis Lunar Colony". Well, "Vulcanis" was a preliminary name used for Vulcan very early in TOS, but "Vulcan has no moon". ;-) What is Neelix doing on the bridge during the crisis? Don't they have any capable Starfleet officers to operate the console? In "Infinite Regress" the function of the vinculum seemed to be much the same as of the central plexus, so why did they have to invent still another device? Axum's vessel is on the border to Fluidic Space. How can there be a specific border to a parallel dimension to and from which gates can be opened anywhere, as seen in "Scorpion"? Finally, how in the world can Korok take command of his sphere? There is nothing like a command structure that he can use to influence the other drones. On the other hand, Hugh's individuality (TNG: "I, Borg", "Descent") allowed him to "infect" other drones too, but here the effect is much more definite and much faster.
Nonetheless, the episode has its memorable moments too. I like the teaser very much that has some impressive shots of Unimatrix One and yet another variant of assembling the Borg Queen. Although the Borg are easily eluded once again, it is always a pleasure to see Susanna Thompson as the Borg Queen - still a formidable villain. I don't bother that she acts quite emotionally and takes things personally. If she is really the incarnation of a collective mind, I would be rather astonished if she did not behave like that. My favorite scene is the Queen's visit to Unimatrix Zero - the serpent in paradise. The tactical cube and the central plexus, consisting of an array of green glowing rods, are quite cool. The man who leads the Borg in Unimatrix Zero into a trap is a Caatati (from "Day of Honor") - at least a bit of continuity. Seven mentions that Axum's ship is in the (drum rolls!) *Beta* Quadrant. It seems the quadrant is not quite as forgotten as we thought. And finally, it is interesting to see how Seven tries to be more Borg than her friends in Unimatrix Zero who will wake up in full armor. Given Seven's reluctance to being human, we can only imagine how passionate Seven's and Axum's affair must have been. As the Doctor said with a bitter smile: "He's a very lucky man."
- Remarkable lie: "Assimilation turns us all into friends. In fact, it brings us so close together we can hear each other's thoughts." - "Is that fun?" - "Yes. It's fun." (Borg Queen to the little boy)
- Remarkable facts/errors: Tuvok was born on Stardate 38774, on Vulcanis Lunar Colony. His daughter, Asil, was born in the city of T'Paal.
- Missed opportunity to get home: #14 (the Queen's transwarp offer)
- Photon torpedoes used: 8 (at the very least)
- Shuttles destroyed: 1 (the Flyer)