Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Scorpion, Part I"

****

Air date: 5/21/1997
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him. As the poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, 'Why did you do that? Now you'll drown too.' 'I couldn't help it,' said the scorpion. 'It's my nature.'" — Chakotay's fable to Janeway, a fitting allegory on the Borg

Nutshell: It's not perfect, but I do believe the word "excellent" applies nicely. This is primarily spectacle taken to the extreme—and most of it works very well—but there's also an interesting issue in here.

And so Voyager's third season comes to an end on a very good note—not with a whimper like first season or with an implausible, untimely thread like last year—but with an enthusiastic bang. It's about time.

"Scorpion, Part I" is a very large, ambitious spectacle of an episode, and one could argue that this show happened because it had to happen—because the Delta Quadrant has remained so nondescript for so long now. But even though this show highlights just how long overdue something fresh in the Delta Quadrant has been in coming, there's an old saying that seems to apply here: better late than never.

The episode sets the tone with an effective opening shot (slightly marred only by the "TV-PG" in the corner of the screen). Two Borg cubes travel through space speaking the usual Borg rhetoric: "Resistance is futile," they say. Suddenly an energy beam lashes out and swiftly destroys both cubes. Apparently, resistance is not futile.

About this time, the Voyager crew, warping through space in the usual direction toward the Alpha Quadrant, discovers that the probe they had sent ahead has stopped transmitting. The last thing the probe sent back was an image of a Borg deactivating it. The meaning is clear: Voyager is approaching Borg space. And Borg space is huge. There's no going around it. It's either go through or go back. Going back means giving up all hope of getting home without the aid of an unconventional method.

Fortunately, the crew finds a section of Borg space devoid of Borg activity, which they nickname the "northwest passage." Traveling through it would be a rough ride, but, as Paris says, it's better to ride the rapids than to face the hive. Janeway and the crew prepare for the possibility of Borg encounters in the dangerous travel ahead.

If there's one thing that an imminent Borg encounter can do on a Star Trek episode, it's that it can create a believable sense of urgency. In a sensible scene, Chakotay leads a staff meeting that shows everybody doing a particular job that works toward the common goal of preparing for the worst.

The Doctor's job is the most interesting aspect of the preparations. His analysis of the Borg corpse (discovered in "Blood Fever") yields some interesting results. I especially liked the explanation of the Borg injection tubules (established in First Contact). These tubules, the first step in the Borg assimilation process, inject cancerous, microscopic, automated drones into the bloodstream, taking over the cell functions of a victim. Neat.

Another moment that works well is a discussion between Janeway and Chakotay (one of several effective exchanges of dialog) concerning how Voyager is supposed to survive the Borg on its own. In the past, Starfleet has always faced the Borg in forces—and been notably pulverized all the same. But Voyager is alone, and there's no fleet in the Delta Quadrant to back it up. One starship is hardly a match for billions of Borg, and I'm glad that Braga and Menosky's script acknowledged the fact.

The preparation for a Borg encounter is cut short when "Scorpion's" plot takes off. And once the show takes off, it never looks back. By the end of the first act the Voyager crew gets a glimpse of fleeting Borg, as 15 Borg vessels come from behind Voyager and pass it by—too hurried to threaten the crew with assimilation. The sight of 15 Borg ships coming up from behind Voyager is chilling (Chakotay quietly murmuring "My God" sets the tone nicely). And Jay Chattaway's score is quite good—atypically thematic and foreboding.

So the question for the crew is: just what were the Borg running from? Later, upon cruising through Borg wreckage (in a setting that echoes the graveyard of Starfleet ships from "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"), the crew realizes that these 15 ships have been destroyed. The urgent question then becomes: just who or what could destroy 15 Borg vessels? Are they friend or foe?

Don't make me laugh by suggesting "friend."

The crew investigates and finds that aside from the Borg weapon signatures, there is evidence of a weapon of unknown origin. Chakotay, Tuvok, and Kim beam over to a damaged Borg ship, which is attached to an alien ship that is simply "impervious" to Voyager technology.

The visit to the Borg vessel is a technical triumph of set design, lighting, and directing. Voyager's production design team deserves high praise for this one. And David Livingston, who directed this episode, delivers yet again—highlighting that he is perhaps the best regular director currently in the Trek business. Pretty much all of "Scorpion I" sports the production quality and aesthetics of a feature film, but the interiors of the Borg ship and the organic designs of the unknown alien ship are noteworthy standouts that demand attention.

The improved sets for the Borg ship are dark and tight, which accentuates the claustrophobic, foreboding situation. While more atmospheric, the new look remains consistent with the Borg-like look and feel of the old sets. Livingston builds the suspense very well, far outdoing the failed Alien-like aesthetics that were attempted in "Macrocosm." Particularly jarring is the grotesque design formed by a pile of Borg bodies and body parts placed by the unknown aliens in the middle of a corridor—creepy, but cool. I also liked the humorous idea of a Borg drone hopelessly trying to "assimilate" the wall of the alien's biological ship. Kim's dry response: "Doesn't look like he's having much luck."

Inevitably, the alien comes looking for the Voyager away team who is tampering with its ship. It attacks Ensign Kim, just before he and the away team beam out of danger.

Okay, now some words on the new badass aliens, known by the Borg database only as "Species 8472." I like them. They're neat. They're different. They communicate with telepathy. And, for once on Trek, they're not the standard humanoids we've come to expect. They're much more … alien. The CGI design of the new lifeform is ambitious. (Some have commented that the look of the alien is a rip-off of Babylon 5's Shadows. For the record, I very rarely watch Babylon 5, and I've never actually seen the Shadows, so I therefore cannot make the comparison. From a purely Voyager standpoint, the design works. Species 8472 is a fresh change of pace.)

Species 8472 has some very deadly weapons (to put it mildly), and the prospect of going hand-to-hand with these bad boys is nearly as frightening as facing their technology. Just ask Harry Kim. His encounter with the alien leaves him with a superficial wound, but a resulting cancer of alien cells invades his body and infects every life system, literally eating him alive from the inside out. The writers' notion of forcing Harry to endure the most gruesome and agonizing of possible deaths at the hands of Species 8472 is extreme at the very least, but it works. It's an easy way of making the aliens more fearsome and downright "bad." The idea that the aliens are the most densely coded lifeforms Doc has ever encountered is also interesting—over 100 times the DNA of humans—and the alien cells are impervious to treatment.

Still, although Species 8472 may be neat, they certainly aren't that deep. While the simplicity of their intentions and the vagueness of their motives make them more intimidating, faceless, and silent adversaries, there still isn't an awful lot of meat underneath an "evil" entity bent on simply "destroying everything." And their catchphrase, "The weak will perish," is not nearly as chilling or original as "Resistance is futile." I'll say it now: The Borg will never be displaced as Star Trek's best race of villains—and certainly not by 8472. The new aliens may be a lot more powerful, but that doesn't make them more interesting. In any case, I have a feeling we'll get a better feel for them in the second half of the two-parter. I certainly hope so; I'm not relinquishing my optimism after this episode's display of enthusiasm.

Anyway, Doc's proposal for curing Harry's infection is one of the more clever elements of the story. He proposes to modify the Borg automated cell-assimilators to disguise themselves as alien cells so they can sneak in and destroy the alien cancer—stealth style. As sci-fi medical procedures go, this concept may simultaneously be both the lightest on technobabble and slyest with logic that Voyager has supplied all season. This is smart writing.

In fact, this is where the episode really turns interesting. Since the Borg learn by assimilating knowledge from other species (whereas the Voyager crew learns by investigating), the Borg don't know the solution to the problem that has prevented their assimilation of Species 8472. And Voyager now has what may be the secret to 8472's downfall. Since the northwest passage turns out to be the passage where the 8472 aliens are entering Borg space—a very good reason why the Borg don't travel through it—Janeway's dilemma emerges again. Voyager will certainly be destroyed if they get in the middle of this war. But turning around means giving up.

The episode's best scene is the long dialog where Janeway and Chakotay clash with differing opinions concerning the captain's decision to literally make a deal with the devil. Janeway's plan is to give the Borg Doc's theory, which may allow them to develop a weapon capable of assimilating or destroying Species 8472. In exchange, Janeway will demand safe passage through Borg space.

This debate is wonderfully written and skillfully acted, featuring the kind of tough questions and issues that typify DS9. For example, just how can the Voyager crew trust the Borg to keep its end of the bargain and go against "nature," as Chakotay demonstrates in his well-placed fable? Also, is helping the Borg—a race of conquerors guilty of murdering and assimilating billions—to assimilate yet another species something even worth Voyager's safety? But then again, if the Voyager turns back and lets Species 8472 and the Borg fight to the end, there's the distinct possibility that 8472 will be seeking new prey in the Delta Quadrant a year down the road—and then what? The thought isn't pretty.

Woven into the heart of the matter is Janeway's problem of doing what's necessary to get the crew home, as well as the analysis of the trust between Janeway and Chakotay. Janeway is hurt when Chakotay doesn't support her decision, but what good is Chakotay to her if he isn't honest? The issue of Janeway's inability to "step back," as Chakotay remarks, is certainly relevant, and one has to wonder what it means when considering that her actions could influence the very fate of the Delta Quadrant. These questions bring up more interesting questions, which is a winner in my book on just about any day. The controversy has two easily arguable sides with dangers on each, and that's precisely what makes it so interesting—and what makes "Scorpion I" transcend its action premise.

Nevertheless, action is a big part of what makes "Scorpion I" work, and the show is full of nifty special effects. If there's one place that Voyager has improved by leaps and bounds over last season, it's in the visual effects department. Foundation Imaging's CGI effects are expertly done—allowing the creation of images that would otherwise be impossible or far too expensive, but also keep the look and feel of the effects consistent with the standard motion photography that has been standard on Trek for years.

As Janeway makes her proposal to the Borg on one of their cubes, they're suddenly attacked by the aliens. The cliffhanger features a final shot that is absolutely exhilarating and unprecedented in scale—the destruction of an entire Borg planet at the hands of the aliens. The show scores high on technique for the pure spectacle of the idea, no matter how far to the extreme "planet destroyers" pushes the Trekkian envelope.

I'll admit that I like seeing large objects (particularly Borg cubes and planets) getting blowed up real good. But this story works for many reasons besides its impressive visuals—mostly for the Janeway/Chakotay interaction and the willingness to be daring in execution.

But it's how the episode ties in with the big picture that really wins me over. Despite the show's minor flaws, there are some reasons that I still opted to give "Scorpion, Part I" four stars:

1. This episode made the Delta Quadrant a fresh, interesting place again. I have long felt the Delta Quadrant has been boring emptiness featuring nothing interesting. This episode erased that feeling very nicely (and hopefully not temporarily.)

2. This episode intelligently dealt with the theme of the Starship Voyager being alone and stranded—a major theme of the series that has virtually disappeared this season—and wrapped the action together with the issue of Janeway's dilemma.

3. This episode had a riveting argument between Janeway and Chakotay that looked directly at the nature of the Borg "beast." And not only were the ethical considerations brought to the table, but they were brought to the table wisely, keeping in mind the urgency of the danger.

4. This episode, unlike "Basics," managed to be a cliffhanger that was about something. It made me interested in seeing how things will play out concerning Janeway's deal with the devil. The way things are set up, I can't see a resolution to this story without some interesting plot twists involving the Borg.

"Scorpion I" isn't perfect. It does tend to rely on big spectacle a bit more than compelling drama really should. Also, the overlong scenes featuring the charismatic John Rhys-Davies as the holographic Leonardo Da Vinci didn't hit home the way they seemed to want to. But "Scorpion, Part I" is an hour of very energetic sci-fi-oriented Star Trek: Voyager, and I hope that part two keeps things on track. Even if it takes sensationally large-scaled drama to get Voyager back into form, I won't complain if the producers can do it with this much panache.

Previous episode: Worst Case Scenario
Next episode: Scorpion, Part II

End-of-season article: Third Season Recap

Season Index

27 comments on this review

AJ Krovarkrian - Mon, Dec 8, 2008 - 2:24pm (USA Central)
To me, getting involved in the Borg-8472 war is a prime directive issue. I was surprised it wasn't brought up.
Kevin - Tue, Mar 31, 2009 - 1:45pm (USA Central)
Why dosen't Captain Janeway arrange for passage to the Alpha Quadrant in exchange for the technology to fight species 8472, or at least a way to get further away from Borg space.

I like the Scorpion episodes but it seems to me that Captain Janeway has missed an opportunity here.

Of course the writers can't allow this to happen but the opportunity wasn't even explored.

If the Borg had discounted the possibility that would have been something, but Janeway never even thinking of it makes her seem narrow minded. A relection of the writers maybe?
gion - Tue, Apr 28, 2009 - 8:43am (USA Central)
Adding Species 8472 to the Star Trek universe seems like a mistake to me. The Borg were the ultimate bad guys, impossible to reason with, impossible to defeat in head-on confrontation. Watching them negotiate and have their butt kicked detracts from the experience.
Jeff - Sat, May 2, 2009 - 10:15am (USA Central)
I was watching Part 1 last night and as always I noticed something I hadn't before in previous viewings (one thing I like about Trek). I'm probably nitpicking, 'cause it's all sci-fi anyway, but it concerns the scene where Torres is attempting to transport the away team off the damaged Borg cube. 8472 is giving off interference making transport impossible (a VOY staple more than any other ST series). She then tells Janeway she'll lock on to the minerals in their bones and tells Janeway something along the lines of "I just thought of it, but I'm pretty sure it'll work."

1) That takes a lot of ego to be so confident in a transport procedure (as far as I can tell from the dialog) that has never been used in the history of transporter technology. How do you even do something like that?

2) By locking on to the minerals, wouldn't those be the only things being transported? She's not even locking on to their skeletons!

I know, it's all nitpicking. But this time, I just happened to notice that scene and it got me thinking. Which most VOY episodes don't do, outside of "This series could have been so much better than it wound up being."

However, this probably does stand as the best episode (even without Part 2 ['cause I've never been a big fan of Seven of Nine]) VOY ever made. Although my favorite 2 part VOY episode is "Year of Hell" from S4.

Thanks for letting me share.
Destructor - Tue, Jul 14, 2009 - 7:54pm (USA Central)
Agreed with the four stars. VOY has a lot to answer for, but this episode stands as one of Trek's best- exciting, thoughtful, provocative, energetic. I will always remember it fondly.
Eric - Thu, Apr 29, 2010 - 9:47pm (USA Central)
I agree with your review of this ep, but I think the fact that the borg were re-introduced demonstrates that the writers' creativity was drying up. I mean, they're supposed to be in a completely unexplored part of the galaxy, but the show failed to produce any really interesting new villains. Species 8472 was cool, but the threat from them was resolved far too easily, and "In the Flesh" from season 5 didn't really amount to anything, since we never saw them again afterward.
Bill T. - Sun, Oct 3, 2010 - 5:02pm (USA Central)
- Prime Directive should have been mentioned, agreed.
- Couldn't Voyager have used a transwarp conduit? Seems it wouldn't have taken that long using those.

and the biggest issue:

- If the Voyager crew was so sure they'd have to cross vast stretches of Borg space to get home, would they REALLY have tried to get home at all? Think about it. The odds of getting home would be slim even in safe space, and it would take decades (in fact it DID take decades in the original, unaltered timeline.) On top of that, you're passing through enemy space with thousands of enemy ships, any one of which could potentially destroy you. Suicidal much?
Nic - Tue, Jan 11, 2011 - 8:10am (USA Central)
This episode is just about perfect. Obviously the writers knew what it takes to create a thrilling, moving and thought-provoking hour of television. Which makes it all the more strange that they didn't manage to succeed more often.
Nathan - Thu, Nov 3, 2011 - 2:17am (USA Central)
"By locking on to the minerals, wouldn't those be the only things being transported? She's not even locking on to their skeletons!"

I think there's a difference between the lock and the actual transport. The lock is just the way of finding what is being transported.
Chris Harrison - Thu, Dec 1, 2011 - 8:24am (USA Central)
I didn't like many of Janeway's sentiments in this episode. For example at one point she says to the Doctor:

"I want you to transfer all of the research [the nanoprobe modifications] into your holomatrix. You're my guarantee. If the Borg threaten us in any way - we'll simply erase your program."

If Torres or one of the others had come up with the technology, would she have so calmly said something along the lines of: "Lieutenant, keep this technology to yourself. Don't discuss it with anyone. If the Borg try to assimilate us, I'll simply kill you" ... ?

V - Sat, Jan 21, 2012 - 3:13pm (USA Central)
I'm surprised some people still don't understand the concept of prime directive. In essence it is not interfering or introducing yourself to a PRE-WARP civilization. This concept came from the point of industrialized civilizations interfering with natives of non-industrialized nations. Most of the time in the course of human history, industrialized cultures end up being the upper hand wrecking the natural progression of the non-industrialized culture - at least this was the point ST is making.
RG - Thu, Feb 9, 2012 - 6:00am (USA Central)
Pretty good episode, although the part with Torres "locking on to their bone structure" was pretty silly. Interesting how it allowed the characters just enough time to see Species 8472 without getting killed. More than any of the other Trek shows, Voyager likes to come up with plot devices and resolutions on the fly with a few lines of asinine technobabble.

Still, Scorpion is about as good as the series ever got. Not worthy of four stars though, In my opinion no Voyager episode is anything more than 3 star material.
Justin - Thu, Apr 5, 2012 - 10:31am (USA Central)
In baseball terms, this third season finale was like hitting a grand slam with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the bottom of the ninth with your team down 3 runs. It literally saved the season and not only kept me watching, but got me EXCITED to see the season 4 opener. It was without a doubt the best Trek cliffhanger episode since "The Best of Both Worlds, part 1." The sight of that Borg Cube barely escaping destruction with Voyager in tow gave me a nerdgasm.

To those invoking the Prime Directive: The Borg do not have any kind of recognizable government or social order. They are hell bent on assimilating the entire galaxy. Species 8472 (at this point) is threatening basically the same thing. Therefore, the Prime Directive does not apply in either case. Arm torpedoes.

Re the "Skeletal Lock" - OK, it didn't detract from the show for me all that much, but it really bugged the hell out of me all the same. Here we have yet another inane Voyager technobabble plot contrivance.

Bio-electric interference got you down? Well here's an idea: take it out of the freaking script! Or at the very least, make it less of a problem. A few extra lines of technobabble-induced tension made no difference in the story's outcome. VOY was indeed the worst offender when it came to this stuff. I feel really bad for Roxann Dawson who was the unfortunate actor that had to memorize 90% of this shit and spew it at the camera. A waste of her terrific acting talent.

Here's how that scene should have gone:

JANEWAY: Voyager to Away Team.
CHAKOTAY: Go ahead.
JANEWAY: Stand by for transport. We're getting you out of there.
CHAKOTAY: Good idea.
JANEWAY: Energize.
TORRES: I can't get a lock on them.
JANEWAY: What's the problem?
TORRES: It looks like bio-electric interference from whatever's coming toward them.
CHAKOTAY: It's within seven meters. Let's get out of here!
JANEWAY: Narrow the confinement beam.
TORRES: Acknowledged.
CHAKOTAY: The lifeform's five meters away and closing.
KIM: From where?
TORRES: I've got them.
PARIS: Captain, the bio-ship is powering up, like it's charging some kind of weapon.
JANEWAY: Mister Paris, get us out of here. Maximum warp!

Instead we got:

JANEWAY: Narrow the confinement beam.
TORRES THE HALF-KLINGON SAVANT: No effect. I'm going to try a skeletal lock.
JANEWAY: What?
TORRES THE HALF-KLINGON SAVANT: I think I can get a clean lock on the minerals in their bone tissue. I just came up with it, but I think it might work.
CHAKOTAY: The lifeform's five meters away and closing.
KIM: From where?
TORRES THE HALF-KLINGON SAVANT: I've got them.
JANEWAY: A skeletal lock, huh? We'll have to add that one to the Transporter manual.

Yeah, I'm sure they did just that.

Pft.
Laroquod - Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - 4:48pm (USA Central)
@Justin That's ridiculous; your two examples of dialogue are almost identical. If you're that allergic to fake science that you would rather hear nothing at all rather than a few fake science terms allowing a crew member to be patted on the back for their technical knowledge, then why bother watching science fiction? Just watch Westerns.

I swear, the backlash against 'technobabble' has gotten way out of control. These are scientists; they should be talking science type stuff that we don't understand. The fact that we can't understand it makes it more realistic, not less. Technobabble is only bad when it gets to be too much and replaces all other methods of solving the plot, but in moderate amounts it makes the 24th Century seem more authentic and certainly as your comparative examples demonstrate it did not interfere with any enjoyment in this case as it was barely a hiccup in a standard scene.
Grumpy - Wed, Jul 18, 2012 - 10:25am (USA Central)
My favorite Janeway line ever: "Think good thoughts."
Jay - Sat, Oct 13, 2012 - 9:05pm (USA Central)
What was with the corny "think good thoughts" line Janeway utters when the Borg scan them with a polaron beam? Did the Borg assimilate the goofy psionic artifact from "Gambit"? Even if that somehow mitigated things, only a handful of the bridge crew could even hear her suggestion, to say nothing of the others aboard ship.
Latex Zebra - Thu, Dec 27, 2012 - 7:06am (USA Central)
This is Janeway's 'In the Pale Moonlight' though in reality what she does is worse than Sisko.
Basically she corrupts all the values of the Federation for the sake of her crew getting home. At least when Sisko got his hands dirty it was for the safety of the entire Quadrant.

Don't get me wrong though, I love this episode, both parts and personally I like seeing a bit of darkness on Trek (see what I did there) now and then. 4/4 easily.
Cloudane - Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - 8:16pm (USA Central)
Species 8472...

Spoilers, mostly for Star Trek Online -


Otherwise known as the Undine, and able to take on any form, changeling style! So it is known a little later in STO, when the Klingons are a little baffled at just what Starfleet *did* to piss these creatures off so much. Now you shall know.
Kristen - Tue, Feb 12, 2013 - 9:43pm (USA Central)
To V: I think you are the one who has the Prime Directive wrong. Though it is most often invoked (on the various Trek shows) in cases of less-developed societies, that's not the entirety of the directive. The idea is much larger than that. They're not supposed to "interfere" with non-Federation societies' "natural" progression/behavior/way of being. It goes far beyond technological concerns.

For example, when Wesley Crusher inadvertently breaks the law on that seemingly-idyllic world where everyone jogs a lot, it is a violation of the Prime Directive to beam the kid out of their jail and leave. The Directive requires that members of Starfleet adhere to local law. And since the locals want Wesley to stand trial, the Enterprise has to let him. (Instead, Picard violates the Prime Directive. Cause the Edo's God tells him it's ok to. Huh?)

Picard won't even help the Square Pegs actor who played Kirk's son and the reject from Dexys Midnight Runners get off drugs safely, because even REVEALING to them that they're on drugs is a violation of the Prime Directive. In that case, it was interfering in the "natural" interrelationship that had developed between the drug dealing culture and the addict culture.

On Voyager, the Prime Directive doesn't really last past the first season or two. And even then, it seems to only come up when it's convenient. For example, on the planet with the smarmy, slicked hair dude who only loves new, exciting things and doesn't want to blip Voyager home, Janeway specifically says that they can't just steal the technology and use it without the smarmy guy's consent. That would be a violation of the Prime Directive; in that case, using technology that hasn't been freely shared with them. And that's VOYAGER gaining SUPERIOR technology, not the other way around.

As for Justin's comments about the Borg not having a government or social order...I might agree with you on the first point. But not on the second. The Borg have a hyper-organized social order. Just because it's not centered on individuation and self-determination doesn't mean it's not a society. And Species OU812 (I'm bad with names) certainly has a society. An organized enough one that they're winning a war with the Borg, for goodness sakes. For Voyager to intervene on either side's behalf, when they are not already intrinsically involved and are not being asked for help*, is to attempt to insert themselves into the "natural" progression of these two species.

(*"Asking for help" seems slippery in Prime Directive terms. Data, it seems, can apparently help Sarjenka once she explicitly asks for help. But Picard can't step in and help the druggies even though they're asking for help. Maybe cause they're not asking for the right help? Or maybe you can only help someone if there is only one player involved, and you're not inherently choosing sides?)

As for the Borg and Species 8675309 being hell bent on destruction: even if that is true, it's moot. Voyager is in no direct danger. They can choose to avoid the conflict. And at this point, we know nothing about Species 25 Or 6 To 4. They might be really nice, and just defending themselves against a Borg attack.

But anyway, Prime Directive aside, Janeway knows enough about the nano-probe thing that the Borg could just assimilate her and not have to bargain at all. Or they could, you know, read the mind of the telepathic medical assistant. Oh wait-- they already did. What, Kes knew NOTHING about the nano-probes? Lazy writing.
Sintek - Fri, May 17, 2013 - 11:58pm (USA Central)
Torres can lock onto my bone anytime.
navamske - Tue, May 28, 2013 - 7:56pm (USA Central)
"Also, is helping the Borg—a race of conquerors guilty of murdering and assimilating billions—to assimilate yet another species something even worth Voyager's safety?"

In the first place, the nonhuman groups of beings we see in Star Trek -- Vulcan, Cardassian, Klingon, Species 90210 -- are not other races; they're other species. In the second place, and on that premise, the Borg are not a species (or a race). As I understand it, there are no "native" Borg -- they've all been assimilated from other species.
Michael - Sat, Jun 15, 2013 - 12:36pm (USA Central)
@Laroquod: HEAR, HEAR, HEAR, HEAR!!!
GLJeremy - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 9:24am (USA Central)
Just wanted to echo the sentiments that this is a great episode.

@Kristen - Thank you. I am Always trying to explain to people that the prime directive is multifaceted and not just about hiding from pre warp cultures. As you described, it is a multi-faceted directive about interference with other civilizations sovereignty. I think the issue in "Sumbiosis" was that they could help the Ornarans since they asked for it (if there had been an actual plague for Crusher to cure), but couldn't reveal the Brekkan's deception because it would disrupt the Brekkan's non-federation social order. Admittedly a fine line but those hard calls are why Picards the captain. I also like to use "The Hunted" as an example as it well describes how much the federation will interfere with all its discussions of "Internal security matters."
Amanda - Sat, Mar 1, 2014 - 8:59am (USA Central)
I am with Chakotay for once. What ,makes her think 8472 is less of a threat assimilated? Hello? Not doing delta quadrant a favor. Where is her senses that maybe the aliens feel threatened and show them they'll help kill Borg to get home. Then we wouldn't get the Borg babe I guess.
K'Elvis - Mon, Apr 7, 2014 - 9:19am (USA Central)
No contact with pre-warp species is only ONE part of the Prime Directive. Even there, it's just one interpretation of the PD in the post-TOS era. In TOS, they dealt with pre-warp societies quite often. No contact with pre-warp species is more of a rule of thumb. But there is another major aspect to the Prime Directive that has nothing to do with Warp vs. Pre-warp. Even if a species has warp drive, you can't simply meddle in their internal affairs. Let's say a planet elects a government you don't like. You can't go in and stage a coup, regardless of whether they have warp drive. You also can't smuggle goods that are illegal or engage in other activities that are illegal there. Of course, the Borg are enemies, and the Federation isn't going to care in the slightest of any meddling with the Borg.

It's a good episode, but I had to overlook the irrationality of even considering going through Borg space. Go around, even if it takes an additional 40 years. You're already going to be gone 70 years, and you're hoping to find a shortcut. You could find a short cut on the 110 year path as readily on the 70 year path.

It makes sense that the Borg aren't good at investigating. The Borg must control thought tightly in order to control the collective. Allowing drones to have their own ideas could allow ideas of freedom to spread through the collective. That probably is why the Borg are so interested in humans. They desire that creativity even as they fear it. They may well hope to assimilate that creativity in a way that they can control.

An agreement with the Borg isn't easy, the Borg deal with force rather than diplomacy. It is really a weakness, because planets have no choice but to resist even if it is futile. Imagine if the Borg were more cunning, and played off one planet against another. Or they could "harvest" planets - don't assimilate them all, just a percentage. Then they could come back in a decade and do it again, and assimilate new technology. Negotiating for use of a Transwarp hub would be a good thing, but the Borg would never keep their word. With this agreement, the Borg will of course betray them, but will not do so today.
Corey - Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - 9:50am (USA Central)
This is the best Voyager action 2 parter I've seen so far. Very dramatic, bombastic, some nice music and Janeway and Chakotay's little verbal spars were riveting. Superficial? Yep, but it's one of Trek's best action outtings.
SFKeepay - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - 6:19am (USA Central)
Futile, pedantic crusade alert: PLEASE do not abuse the word "literally". I know, I know, even the OED has (inexcusably) warped the definition to allow it in the context Jammer has employed above ("...literally make a deal with the devil."). But, to borrow a phrase, the line MUST be drawn HERE! The Borg are not some mystical incarnation of the famous cloven crowd-control device; Alice Krige is not Satan (although she clearly qualifies as godlike.) No other single word in the English language conveys the concept, and being squishy on this is just going too far! Great review, classic episode. Gotta run, I've literally got a hundred more of these to write!

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