Star Trek: Voyager

"The Omega Directive"


Air date: 4/15/1998
Teleplay by Lisa Klink
Story by Jimmy Diggs & Steve J. Kay
Directed by Victor Lobl

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I was wondering who was running my program. Master Da Vinci doesn't like visitors after midnight."
"He protested. I deactivated him."

— Janeway and Seven

Nutshell: Not riveting, but ambitious. Respectably original and nicely conceived.

Ah, this is just what we needed. After a depressingly excessive and pointless "Killing Game," and a totally pedestrian and plot-hole-ridden "Vis A Vis," "The Omega Directive" came as a very pleasant surprise to this viewer. This is one of the more original Voyager offerings in some time, effectively utilizing many of Voyager's strengths as well as its static story premise in somewhat unexpected yet natural ways.

This is one of the good ways of utilizing the long-standing (and unlikely-to-change) Voyager-in-a-vacuum mentality. This episode doesn't add anything to any overlapping canvases (what overlapping canvases?) the way a pivotal episode of DS9 might; rather, it's just a solid stand-alone science fiction story that is sensibly written and sensibly executed. It's entertaining and reasonably thoughtful, particularly with some of the characterizations that arise late in the story. As an episode of Voyager, it's pretty original; watching the episode, I got the feeling that I hadn't seen this story before.

The Omega Directive is an emergency classified Starfleet protocol relegated only to captains. When a certain substance—the mysterious, dangerous, and powerful molecule known as "Omega"—is detected by the sensors, the captain is alerted by the computer and must follow preplanned Starfleet procedures to destroy the molecule at all costs. As the episode progresses, we learn this molecule has great energy capabilities and, of course, great destructive power. In addition to causing destruction on a large scale, it also can cause the destruction of subspace on an even much larger scale, leaving areas of space permanently affected such that travelling through said areas faster than the speed of light becomes impossible. Get a big enough explosion from enough Omega molecules, and an entire quadrant or even galaxy could be affected, ending warp travel and therefore interstellar civilization as the Federation knows it.

The story takes a while to let us in on what's happening, which is effectively utilized for some mystery, and also brings Seven of Nine into the game earlier than the rest of the crew, since she has Borg knowledge of Omega as assimilated from Starfleet captains. It's established that the Borg had also experimented with Omega; rather than destroy it, they wanted to learn about and assimilate it. To them it represented perfection, and Seven does not want to simply destroy "perfection" based on her captain's fear. (Not that she has a choice; she may not be pleased with Janeway's desire to destroy Omega, but she does seem to have learned when to resign to authority.)

The story, through its ominous mysteries and setups, is a little uneven. It begins shrouded in secrecy, then becomes a complicated tech plot before turning into a standard alien encounter and then ultimately a small character story. It's a little strange that these parts are all part of a single episode, but, amazingly, they come together into a single story that is ambitious and intriguing. Usually when a story has so many little premises existing in one episode, the unevenness becomes a liability; here, the parts manage to work together much better than they have any right to, so instead of having a problem, we merely have a plot that is complex and engaging.

I think some of the initial secrecy was a little overplayed, though it was interesting. I was definitely intrigued by the secrecy (even the huge letter "omega" that appeared on the Voyager monitors when the computer detected the substance was strangely eerie, though somewhat corny). The idea of Janeway "locking herself in her quarters" for hours on end had my attention, though it seemed a little overly cloak-and-daggerish, especially given the story's ultimate direction.

The idea of an "Omega Directive" left me with a few questions—like, for example, what happens if the captain has been killed? And just when do promoted captains receive their training for dealing with Omega? And why are captains more qualified to deal with this information than other people, like engineers? And why does Janeway destroy the Omega files after accomplishing this mission? Couldn't she potentially encounter more Omega particles somewhere? I suppose such questions could be more easily answered in the Alpha Quadrant, where Starfleet would presumably send in special teams to destroy the molecule, leaving the role of a captain who found Omega particles to that of an afterthought. Whatever. Considering that this story was conjured for a single plot, Lisa Klink manages to do a reasonable job of making the idea seem plausible enough, so I'm not going to complain to much about some plot holes.

Since Voyager is alone and the captain has no backup, Chakotay talks her into allowing the rest of the Voyager crew to assist in the procedure, which she reluctantly grants. She briefs the senior staff on Omega, in a scene that shows just how apt a name "Omega" (i.e., "the end") truly is.

I would, however, like to ask why B'Elanna—the chief engineer, no less—wasn't in on the briefing about Omega. Was it an episode production issue, or the writers' conscious decision of "We have Seven, so we don't need B'Elanna"? As much as I like Seven, I don't like the idea of "Seven at the expense of other characters," which seems to have been the case lately.

Overall, I would call "The Omega Directive" one of the season's better offerings, but it isn't what I would call a powerhouse. (After DS9's "In the Pale Moonlight," I don't see how anything could compare, but I'll try to keep that out of my mind.) Perhaps because we have to learn so much as the story unfolds, it takes a while before the tech story is something we can fully sink our teeth into. And once the danger is established, we realize the key difference between the effectiveness of "Moonlight" and the effectiveness of "Omega" is that "Moonlight" was a visceral experience with high stakes—whereas "Omega" also has high stakes but takes a lot of plot explanation for us to understand what those stakes are. And once we do know the stakes, another problem is that the stakes are so incredibly high ("The end of space-faring civilization as we know it") that we know from the outset they don't have the slightest chance of playing out.

But even knowing that, the story is effective, because the characterizations are dead-on. Janeway's tenacity for destroying this threat seem to make a great deal of sense given her plausibly grounded belief that it's irresponsible to play with forces that are so powerful and dangerous to so many civilizations. Meanwhile, Chakotay's appeal to the captain to bring the crew into the mission was perfectly in line with this season's "family" theme.

And, oh yes—Seven of Nine.

Just what won't the writers come up with for Seven of Nine this season? She has quickly become more interesting, complex, and subtly multifaceted than many of the other characters on this series combined. Who would've thought that Omega meant as much to Seven as we slowly learn it does in the course of this episode? Personally, I was taken by surprise. Through the story's rendition of what could've potentially been an only-average tech plot comes the notion of the Borg's belief of "perfection" in Omega, which has compelling possibilities.

As the story unfolds through Seven, there are some fascinating moments which transcend the mechanics of the plot. There are three scenes in this episode where, again, I was thoroughly impressed and even moved by the effectiveness of Jeri Ryan's performance and the writers' ability to give her such good material. The first is a moment when she appeals to Chakotay as a spiritual man. In a scene where she describes a very personal belief of Omega's "perfection," we see that the Borg's opinion of Omega borders on the deistic, and realize that the destruction of Omega, if necessary, will be a personal tragedy for her. The way Ryan delivers these lines is poignant, showing Seven vulnerable, troubled, and emotional—but it's so subtle that it's ten times more effective than histrionics could ever be, and so in-character that it's worthy of awe.

Another crucial scene is one where the conflict between Janeway and Seven concerning the fate of Omega seems to be developing along the lines of many Janeway/Seven scenes—until Seven realizes, in an moment of growth where she is able to see the other viewpoint, the sensibilities behind Janeway's need to destroy something as dangerous and unpredictable as Omega.

A third scene is the episode's coda, in which Seven opens herself to larger possibilities when she considers the unexpected and almost life-like behavior that was exhibited by Omega just moments before it was destroyed. It's a moment of clarity that she can only equate with religious experiences that the Borg had assimilated from other civilizations—experiences which, until now, she had dismissed. It's a very intriguing twist on both Seven and the Borg, showing that they are open to ideas outside the realm of simply self-serving assimilation of knowledge.

Seven aside, the plot turns aren't entirely riveting on their own merit, especially once the source of Omega is located (in an experimental alien-of-the-week laboratory), but the story clips along nicely, never threatening to be mundane or even implausible (as these things go). The technobabble is light, but just present enough to keep the science fiction aspects seeming believable. The story documents the crew as they locate, retrieve, and destroy the Omega molecules. And although I don't think it was entirely necessary to have the weekly derivation of aliens firing on Voyager when things don't go their way, the conflict for once didn't seem completely forced.

The use of little touches also made a difference, particularly the comic idea of Seven giving the crew new names, er, numbers as a means of organizing them to work on her project more efficiently. Harry's defiance of Seven was also amusing, as was Chakotay's we-don't-have-time-to-worry-about-trivial-nonsense way of dealing with the matter (that is, telling Harry, simply, "When in the Borg collective, adapt").

I do, however, feel I have to raise one troubling logistic issue here, which I'll pose in the form of a question: What happens if the aliens decide to ignore the dangers of creating Omega molecules (which, based on evidence presented by the story, seems very likely) and decide to continue their experiments? There doesn't seem to be anything to stop them once Voyager leaves their territory. Considering that Starfleet considers the destruction of Omega so essential that Janeway would carry it out at all costs, it seems a little silly and shortsighted that once the immediate danger is nullified that it's simply a return to Business as Usual [TM]. If there's a need to rescind the Prime Directive to destroy Omega, I think it only seems natural that Starfleet would also want to also make sure such aliens don't have the ability to continue such research and experiments.

Yet I don't see how this is remotely possible. Voyager is in no position to deny the aliens the knowledge they've obtained. After all, the only reason Omega experiments aren't conducted in the Federation is because the Federation willingly decided to destroy all such knowledge pertaining to Omega in the interests of safety. What happens if some aliens decide their needs exceed the risk and damn the consequences, no matter how large they may be? This is a big example of the can of worms that writers open when they make such huge, encompassing statements of ultimate power. If one civilization anywhere (let alone one that Voyager happens upon in the vast Delta Quadrant) indeed has the means to create a power that could destroy space travel as we know it in the entire quadrant (or even galaxy), then you'd think Starfleet's attempt to control and destroy Omega is essentially so futilely out of its hands that any pretension of said control is merely pointless arrogance. And if Starfleet finds it likely enough they would ever again encounter such "rare" Omega as to give every captain in the fleet a directive to destroy it, then it's probably a bigger problem than anyone in Starfleet could want to possibly imagine, especially given that one civilization on the other side of the galaxy can create it based merely on the life's work of a few nameless scientists. (For that matter, why didn't the Borg continue running experiments if assimilation was the goal at all costs?)

Or, I don't know—maybe Starfleet higher-ups don't live in fear any more than we in 1998 do, knowing that there are possibly untracked asteroids in our solar system that could swing around and destroy our own civilization when we least expect it. My point is, it seems a little simplistic to use such a huge issue that raises more questions than it even hopes to tackle for the sake of one plot that will never be mentioned again in the history of Trek. In that sense, it seems to me like an overlarge absurdity that lives only in a single-episode fantasy world (which is probably the entire intention anyway). Or, I don't know—maybe I'm just nitpicking (which, by the way, is occasionally fun). But I think I've gone on about this point for far too long. I've lost sight of any hope of realistic Star Trek commentary, so I'm just going to shut the hell up now. Consider this part of the review a foray into needless discussion, as this article exceeds the ludicrous boundaries of the 2,400-word mark. Ugh. (It's late, I never intended a review this long, and I've clearly gone off the deep end.)

In any case, I can live with it both ways (since the episode does); I did find the issue of an aftereffect that destroys subspace in a way that prohibits warp travel to be rather interesting. The "destruction of the galaxy" would've been hopelessly extreme and therefore corny; the destruction of warp-travel capabilities is a little (although not that much) more restrained and original.

But what we're basically talking about here is effective storytelling. I can describe the plot all I want, but I can't really convey the manner which it all falls together to make sense. In many ways the writers have a story that is much bigger than it needs to be, or probably can be, under scrutiny. But with the characterizations, dialog, and execution in place, it's a fresh hour, and works like a charm.

Next week: A love story with a sci-fi twist; the guilty parties are Chakotay and some alien woman.

Previous episode: Vis A Vis
Next episode: Unforgettable

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51 comments on this review

Sun, Jan 13, 2008, 10:06am (UTC -5)
Wow you can really tell that Roxanne Dawson is pregnant now, she looks pregnant 'phat'
Dirk Hartmann
Sat, May 3, 2008, 4:56am (UTC -5)
Strange ... with the sole exception of Seven's "private collective", I found this episode extremely boring. The suspense part just didn't work with me and I also found the dangeroussubstancemightdestroytravellingbywarp revelation extremely disapointing. Finally, I could not fathom how the Borg would conduct experiments on their own. That's not at all Borg-like. They should learn by assimilation only.
I would give this episode two stars max.
Mon, Feb 23, 2009, 8:35pm (UTC -5)
The technical execution of the script is so logistically implausible that the emotional strength of the concept, lame as it is, is entirely blunted. Voyager is under threat of being "blowed up" every week, so whether the mechanism of that destruction is the alien of the week, or a goofy-looking Omega displayed on all ship systems, leaves this episode sucking wind. The episode is highly unfocused - it can't decide whether it's about the implications of experimentation with dangerous science (Janeway's reference to nuclear power) or the search for religion in a Borg context.

This episode also represents more of Janeway's inconsistent moralizing - one of her talking points for destroying Omega (as opposed to harnessing the particle per Seven's suggestion) is that she needs to protect civilizations in the Delta quadrant from the pernicious effects of the Omega, perhaps at the expense of the Voyager crew. Also, the casting aside of the Prime Directive in a single throwaway line, methinks, would have made Gene Roddenberry roll over his grave.
Sun, May 3, 2009, 11:01am (UTC -5)
Great episode- and Roxann Dawson vanished halfway through it because she went into labour during filming.
Captain Jim
Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
Now, here's something different: Usually when I disagree with Jammer (which isn't really all that often), it's because I think an episode is better than he gives it credit. Here it's just the opposite. I agree with Dirk; I found this episode to be boring. And not just boring, but one of the most boring episodes I can remember. The initial suspense about "what's going on" was good, but it was all downhill from there.
Sun, Sep 25, 2011, 7:54am (UTC -5)
I was never a fan of this episode. There were some interesting ideas in it, but the religious aspect seemed out of place. I couldn't buy that the Borg would have a "Holy Grail", or that Seven would care so much about salvaging the molecules.
Sat, Nov 5, 2011, 11:31pm (UTC -5)
Certainly the creation of so many omega molecules would require more energy than this species could reasonably obtain. Unless the second law of thermodynamics doesn't hold in the future...
David H
Sun, Jan 29, 2012, 12:09am (UTC -5)
This is one of my five favorite episodes of the entire Voyager series.
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
Based on concept alone, this is a four-star episode IMO. The idea of the Omega particle is incredibly intriguing. Add to that The Borg's (and as a result, Seven's) obsession with it and the idea that there is something so dangerous out there that it supersedes even the Prime Directive, and you have the makings of a true classic episode of Star Trek. Jeri Ryan and Kate Mulgrew both delivered powerful performances. Easily a Top 5 episode for me.
Cail Corishev
Sun, Sep 23, 2012, 11:40am (UTC -5)
So much nonsense here, it was hard to see past it to enjoy the character stuff with Seven's quasi-religious experience. And regarding that, were were we supposed to think Omega was doing in that last moment? Just coming together in order like iron filings lining up toward a magnet? Or coming to life and/or demonstrating intelligence? No idea.

So Federation starships are all constantly scanning for this molecule, but none of their engineers are aware of it. And they spot it from great distances, even when it's behind strong containment fields. One molecule was powerful enough to wipe out a station and a large area of subspace, yet the aliens had created billions? What in the world would they do with that much power? As for declaring Omega off-limits throughout the galaxy, that makes as much sense as a nation on Earth outlawing nuclear weapons world-wide -- in the year 1200. They don't even know who's out there, let alone who might be experimenting with it.

But I think the worst part is the idea that the Federation would just give up on the possibility of controlling the thing. These are people who don't back down from god-like aliens like Q who could wipe out the galaxy with a thought. Yet they run into a scary molecule and they jump up on a chair with their skirts around their knees screeching, "Kill it, kill it!" That's not the Federation (or the starship captains) we know.
Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 11:13am (UTC -5)
I find Seven's attitude towards the Omega a bit too individualistic. Of course, she is a former Borg drone and the Borg is obsessed with it, and, understandably, each drone was imbued with such obsession, but Seven's remark regarding her personal attitude towards the Omega is rather unusual. On one occasion, while speaking with Janeway, she says something like "I've been waiting for years for this opportunity...[namely, to find and harness the molecule]. The way she says that is awkward because it implies that she has been personally harboring the wish to attain this goal. But how could this be possible if she was only a drone in the collective? She had no individuality. There was no personality, no individuality, no "I", which could have been capable of having any individual aspirations. However, if, when saying "I", she means "we", the collective, then this would make sense. Maybe she still identifies herself with the collective when referring to the molecule, therefore using the personal pronouns "we" and "I" interchangeably, in the sense 'Borg's goals are my goals'. I guess that's one way to explain it.
Tue, Jan 15, 2013, 2:45am (UTC -5)
I'm half/half with this one, with many things bothering me. I like the concept of a molecule destroying subspace and consequently warp-travel. A molecule that seems impossible to "tame" and too dangerous to "exist".

What bothered me:
- why all the secrecy ? Janeway gives an explanation that doesn't really make sense to me.
- how can Chakotay authorize Seven to treat the crew as she does ? Basically, it's not bad to organize and give specific tasks, but the designation is awful. Calling someone with a number is like denying one's individuality and treating one like a useful object, not a person. Ensign Kim's reaction should have been a total rejection of it, not being vexed because given a lower number...
- The spiritual side of the Borg - while interesting - doesn't strike me as consistent with what we know.

Finally, on a general sidenote, what does senior officer mean exactly (other than putting the cast together) ? Paris is a helmsman/nurse; Kim is a young ensign; the doctor has no grade. B'elanna (who wasn't there) and Tuvok are chief, therefore I understand and Chakotay is obvious. Seven, except for this story should never be there (or maybe she's considered the science officer Voyager never had).
Sun, Feb 17, 2013, 11:49am (UTC -5)
Omega can be "transported"? Can't they neutralize the problem just by using the transporter?
Jonathan Baron
Tue, Jun 11, 2013, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
Ironic that we live in a universe of Omega in that spacefaring, subspace, warp drive and all the fundamental pseudo science that powers ST is in fact impossible. Thus I was thinking that if the worst happened then the series would be reduced to reality.

The erotic tension between Seven and Janeway finally rose above a bat squeak at the conclusion of this episode. Were this series being made now, or by the BBC, it would have been developed. The chemistry in that tension would lead in sexual directions more plausibly between these two than the other featured couples in the series.
Lt. Yarko
Thu, Jul 4, 2013, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
I had a lot of the same problems with this episode as others had.

I didn't buy the whole borg religion angle at all. Further, I didn't like how seven started renaming people. That was just silly. Having her make organization choices was a good idea, but the renaming just seemed silly.

>>The erotic tension between Seven and Janeway

Huh? You are seeing things, dude.
Mon, Sep 16, 2013, 10:06am (UTC -5)
An interesting sci-fi idea.

As I see it, 7 of 9 retains some aspects of being Borg, which is why she retains this obsession with the particle, even though she is now disconnected from the collective.

I thought this was an interesting exploration into the Borg, making them a little deeper than just locusts, giving them a motivation. The Borg seek perfection, Omega is perfection, totally plausible that it could represent a religious experience

As for the renaming, why wouldn't 7 put in practice the organizational system she is most familiar with, if she feels its more efficient? Frankly I agreed with Kim's demotion.

For me the Federation's reaction to Omega makes sense: it could eliminate their ability to travel by warp, it could be a terrible weapon, and the more who know about it, the greater the chance it could fall into the wrong hands.

As for Janeway's reaction, she's been indoctrinated by Starfleet to react to Omega in a certain way, so she does.
Tue, Oct 29, 2013, 7:34am (UTC -5)
Several observations:

- the ongoing synthesis of Seven's new human emotions with the Borg philosophy continues to be intriguing. The Borg are still a benevolent force of destruction, yet their search for perfection is admirable given the state of chaos present in the universe.

- Seven can do no wrong, even during the quiet moments in this episode with no dialogue, the camera ever so subtly frames Seven's glorious figure in that cat suit with just the right interplay of shadows, no words needed. ;)

- Seven organizing her team into an efficient collective was hilarious.
Fri, Feb 21, 2014, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
I loved this episode! I think that the conflict presented in the episode is fascinating. Our aspirations to realize our highest ideals often provide meaning to our lives. But these same aspirations also provide us with the greatest disappointments. The ultimate clarity of mind is something both religious people and materialists seek. Yet, this desire for perfection is something that is downright dangerous and has fueled many historical injustices.

Here Omega encapsulated the joy and terror of trying to control our environments. Ultimately the problem is not in whether or not we accomplish a higher level of control, but instead that we live for that control. Ultimately one must somehow strive to achieve the greatest accomplishments while also accepting that one can never control his or her own destiny. This omega represents ultimate control of our natural environment. It is something that is elusive and momentarily possible, but that will ultimately always elude us. Is a goal that arises not merely from ambition, but also from the very fact of survival in and of itself. To survive we must engage in seemingly unnatural acts of control.

The lesson here is that life satisfaction and even survival itself depend on an understanding that it is the journey that matters above all else. Achieving goals is only a means to an end - the real end is the journey.

The ultimate power and danger lies in not being able to let go... something our Utopian future counterparts (ironically) appear to understand. In embodying this struggle, Seven of Nine here represents not merely the Borg, but also all of modern society.

Some have protested the ambiguity in the episode. Others have protested the mixed nature of the protagonists' intentions. This ambiguity and confusion defines our existence. But the episode does not wallow in ambiguity for the sake of ambiguity, it offers a humble light to guide us forward.

The episodes abstract nature makes it hard to pin down. But, if you are willing to accept the ambiguity you will be rewarded with a true poem to the struggle of human existence - and to the existence of life itself... perhaps even to existence itself and to nonexistence.
Mon, Mar 3, 2014, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
Huh. I'm watching that episode right now, and the issue as to why the Borg never continued their experiments with Omega actually is addressed in the first scene between Janeway and Seven - they couldn't find any other sources of the basic material (boronite ore, I think). Of course, that raises the issue as to how incredibly freaking rare that stuff must be, when the Borg can't find it.

Also, this episode is one of the "pillars" of the novel trilogy "Star Trek: Destiny", in which the Borg do have an excellent reason to want to get Omega. It involves the most isolationist alien species ever, four different Starfleet captains and an Austrian engineer who didn't want to become a cyborg.
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
Really Strong episode. Very good all along.

From the captain finally listening the suggestion given by other (jn this case, Chakotay), to Seven's personal quest. And mostly, the way the episode dealt with "spiritual experience" - compare that with how DS9 deals with that and you give this episode some twenty stars.

The plot was pretty engaging and, as Jammer has pointed, it used the Voyager features naturally. Fully good, and Seven is a joy to watch. When I think we had to pay one Kes in exchange for Seven of Nine, I smile.

Sat, Jun 14, 2014, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
Pretty good overall, the secrecy thing in the beginning was a bit too much. Especially when Chakotay finally manages to convince Janeway what we knew all along: They're alone out here, maybe involve the rest. Which goes from 'senior officers, need to know etc', to seemingly involve all of the Blueshirts on board. And if by the end of the episode there was a single person aboard (maybe apart from Neelix) that didn't know what the Omega particle was, colour me surprised...
Sun, Jul 27, 2014, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
This whole episode was designed to stoke up some sort of intrigue in the series. Like Speckies 8472 was... Lazy attempts at garnering interest. "My dad is bigger than your dad."
Chris Hurt
Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
@Ospero Yes, the ore was so rare thank you for pointing that out.
Most overused line this episode? "That's close enough." Janeway uses this or slight variations of it several times regarding technicawl details. Seems a bit fishy to me and I am no tech head by any means.
Sat, Nov 1, 2014, 6:20am (UTC -5)
I feel a little silly commenting in 2014, but It's 5am and I'm a little drunk...

so Re the article:
why can't the borg continue their experiments in Omega? Because the molecule, like most radio-isotopes can only be synthesized by taking another rare element, and bombarding it with radiation/energy. Seven actually said in the episode that the borg exhausted their supply of the ore necessary to make it.

Why can't the Aliens-of-the-week just synthesize more? Well, again, this was mentioned in-script. basically it's the opposite of the borg dillema. they apparently have the ore(maybe not) but they don't have the power generation technology to attempt the experiment again. which of course means it is perfectly plausible that they might be able to start over after 10 years, but what you gonna do. the Federation going to declare war on yet another interquadrent alien species in absentia? Imagine if vulcans landed tomorrow and dropped a nuke on CERN. Also, and this is kindof not in the script, but, the captain blew up the molocule prematurely. It's entirely possible that voyager left this alien species a parting gift to ponder over the next 10 years in the form of their own collapsed-subspace-wasteland.

starfleet and the directive. Starfleet destroyed ALL knowledge about omega. The only training the captain had was a short briefing about what omega is and how to destroy it. In fact, it is likely that that is what she was doing while she was locked in the ready-room for 'hours on end.' reading up on info that she wasn't cleared for until the omega directive was triggered. So if janeway were dead, and chakotay were in command, he would have gotten the same files to read. Also on the subject, it mentions in the show that Janeway modified the directive. the whole "I'm a lone wolf and I'm going to destroy omega by myself" plan was hers, and hers alone. Starfleet had no hand in that.

My biggest problem with the plot was that the borg and the federation were only able to synthesize a "handful" of particles combined, while generic aliens-of-the-week managed to synthesize hundreds of millions... that and the fact that each one of these particles should probably contain more energy than a supermassive black hole... synthesizing a "handful" seems like a much more reasonable(not to mention practical) challenge.

as for the comment section controversy,
Seven was in charge of the design of the maintanance chamber. She was the only person aboard the ship with any real knowledge of omega. Omega directive > Prime directive. Ergo in some senses, she outranks even the captain, just like the doctor outranks the captain in medical situations. It is perfectly reasonable that chakotay would give her all the latitude she needed to accomplish her goal. It is also reasonable that she would be a micromanaging perfectionist egomaniac and that she would use borg designations and minimize conversation to improve efficiency.

As for the borg-human religious experience thing... I never had a problem with that. I am moderately surprised that Seven went along with the "destroy god" idea that was planted in our heads (she doesn't even really fight it really) but all in all, I can see why the borg queen would be willing to devote large scale resources to getting her hands on omega, I can even see her getting a little obsessive about it.
Thu, Nov 27, 2014, 1:05am (UTC -5)
This was one of the most repetitive, pompous and badly acted episodes I've ever seen. High on its own weak concept. If I hear the term Omega again, there will be red shirt casualties.
Andrew H
Wed, Apr 1, 2015, 10:59pm (UTC -5)
2015 and still talking about Voyager :-p I just watched this on HULU & have been going through the whole series episode by episode.
I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write anything about this episode except that it was written so badly that I actually was getting upset over it. Whomever wrote this episode just has no concept of science.
Some other people mentioned many of these same things in the comments above this but I'm still pissed off so I'm going to write much of the same.

1) The ship somehow detects a SINGLE molecule of this stuff from lightyears away?? LOLOLOLOL
2) Federation Captains are expected to carry out all things related to Omega with no help from their own people?
3) This molecule is so unstable that it only hangs around for a microsecond but again there's a container of it that can hang around long enough to be transported?
4) If the molecule can be transported then obviously the federation has devices that can make the stuff .. like a transporter.
5) They go through all this effort to destroy this stuff but they have no issues returning the scientists that produced it??
I'll skip all the crap about 7 of 9, the way they had her charecter acting was just plain silly.

ok rant over
Thu, Apr 2, 2015, 10:39am (UTC -5)
@ Andrew H:

If Voyager's terrible writing makes you mad the rest of the show will probably kill you lol.
Thu, Apr 16, 2015, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that a species which is still a pre warp civilization has somehow developed a method of stabilizing one of the most dangerous, volatile and chaotic molecules in the known galaxy superior to that of the Borg, who have assimilated thousands of other species.
Basically, the Borg, who have the knowledge of almost 5000 species at their disposal can't figure out how to stabilize this thing, but these guys can? I find that highly implausible.

They can't figure out warpspeed, but stabilizing a molecule that has every other species that knows about it scratching their heads is something they come close to doing. I realize they don't succeed, but Seven herself admits that they came much closer to success then the Borg ever did.
I'm also wondering if Voyager blew those two ships to smithereens when they shot at the molecules and then hightailed it out of there at warpspeed. That's all fine and good for Voyager, but those aliens didn't have warp capability, so did just get blowed up real good or what?

I suppose it doesn't really matter, since this is technically a story about exploring a side of Seven we haven't seen before as well as a story about a directive that overrides all other ones and how Janeway and co handle that and everything else is just a plot device to drive that story forward.
Wed, Jul 15, 2015, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
I have read all the opinions about this episode and and can agree with all of them.. the ones who enjoyed it and the ones who hated it.
Voyager and some other star trek episode of every Star Trek series frequently tried to impress the public making a "unic" plot that several times doen't make much sence with star trek science , character development, starfleet protocols etc.

But I have to say the only real negative and absolute noonsese of this episode is that in the end , captain Jabeway destroys all the data they learned about the omega molecule ( ??? )

This data cooulb be easyly classified and hidden with a high level of clearense like a above top secret file so star fleet scientists could secretly study the molecule and other ways to stabilize it in the future.
Plus, since Janeway destroy all the data they've learn about the molecule, how could she be studing any data at all about this molecule when she looked herself in her ready-room ?

Besides that.. the rest is prety much regular star trek usual " lets try to impress the public with ignoring some thing about star trek science and caracters but focusing on the plot itself should compensate and ""convince "" some trekkies long enough untill the next epicode.
John C. Worsley
Sun, Oct 25, 2015, 9:32pm (UTC -5)
Seriously: why was Ensign Harry Kim invited to a top-secret senior-staff meeting? Rank aside, he's the gossipingest little ensign in the fleet.
Mon, Dec 14, 2015, 2:50am (UTC -5)
"Ironic that we live in a universe of Omega in that spacefaring, subspace, warp drive and all the fundamental pseudo science that powers ST is in fact impossible."

Jonathan - where did you get this idea? The unrealistic nature of "warp drive" (especially considering relativity theory) aside, special folds and/or wormholes are theoretically possible. People used to think flight was impossible. Now it's common. Space travel (using spatial folds or other space bending technology) can theoretically be done in the future.

"I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that a species which is still a pre warp civilization has somehow developed a method of stabilizing one of the most dangerous, volatile and chaotic molecules in the known galaxy superior to that of the Borg, who have assimilated thousands of other species."

Xylar - what made you think they were pre-warp? They weren't. They were clearly aware of aliens on other worlds and had impressive star ships at their disposal.

"Seriously: why was Ensign Harry Kim invited to a top-secret senior-staff meeting? Rank aside, he's the gossipingest little ensign in the fleet."

Worsley - Ensign Kim is a senior officer despite his junior rank. After Voyager was stranded in the Delta Quadrant, Kim was promoted to bridge officer and the senior position of "Chief of Operations." This is confirmed in the first season episode "The Cloud" during Kim's conversation with Tuvok on the bridge.

"2) Federation Captains are expected to carry out all things related to Omega with no help from their own people?"

Andrew - No. In the Alpha Quadrant, the captain would simply report it to Starfleet and they would send a team to destroy it.
Thu, Dec 17, 2015, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
This episode was one rewrite short of being a classic. I mean, look at all the great elements it had:

1) The omega particle, while honestly being a bit silly (so, where does all this magical energy come from? Does the law of conservation of energy not apply in the Trek universe? Never mind, don't answer that...), is a cool idea that provides some nice tension. Sure, super destructive evil technology that must be destroyed is a hackneyed concept, but by tying it to subspace and warp power rather than the typical explodeyness potential is a great twist. It's like once the Borg started assimilating people. Sure, in Q Who they were an implacable and overpowering enemy, which is threatening enough. But knowing the endgame is to become a space zombie, rather than the sweet mercy of death, suddenly turns them to being terrifying in a way that the Dominion, despite being an equal threat, could not. Same here. Just seeing another dangerous weapon is one thing, but to mention the permanent end of space travel for everyone? That raises the stakes, makes it a more engaging threat.

2) Likewise, the way Starfleet has of solving the problem and its interaction with the premise of this show also worked. By making it ultra top secret, only known to captains, and forcing the rest of the crew to work in secrecy added to the tension while also adding to the mystery. Sure, we assume Janeway hasn't flipped her lid (this week...), but what could be so darn important that she can't tell anyone about it? And then Seven knows? And also isn't telling anyone? That is sure to keep the crew on their toes, and the reactions of the crew can certainly provide some entertainment. Meanwhile, the fact that Janeway has to deal with this without the backup, without the support of Starfleet that she assumed she would have, puts more pressure on her. How does she solve this? Bringing Seven in, besides being perfectly rational, actually gives her enough of an out that we can see her originally planning her suicide mission with Seven instead of the plan she finally chose (of course, for plot reasons she'd have to stay alive, but the story could have easily moved that way). Basically, because of the seriousness of the issue and the seriousness of this particular scenario (stuck in the Delta Quadrant with no backup) meant the story never felt like it was on rails, never felt like there was only one choice that the writers could make.

3) Omega directive supersedes the Prime Directive! Given how much Trek loves to explore the morality of the Prime Directive, this offered quite a bit of potential.

4) Janeway had the potential for a conflict of morals here. On the one hand, she's a scientist dedicated to the discovery of knowledge. On the other hand, she's a Starfleet captain dedicated to destroying any knowledge of Omega. Now, admittedly, I don't think this should have been an overblown piece of drama, and Janeway shouldn't have struggled significantly with her decision, but I think there is quite a bit of potential for at least some wistfulness from her. She can agree in principle with Starfleet's decision, and carry out those orders, but some part of her should have been uncomfortable about it.

5) Seven's first spiritual experience was a great idea, and provides a wonderful contrast in the well defined, mechanical approach of the Borg that she's used to and humanity's perpetual search for meaning that is starting to come to the surface. Personally, I never felt that the Borg themselves were comparing Omega to a religious experience. They just felt that it was an important concept that they should investigate further. Seven, who by her own admission feels "smaller" since exiting the collective, only feels a shadow of the Borg's initial desire. Feeling an incomplete urge, she fills the rest of it in with her budding humanity. Feeling this incomplete information, she fills it in as a spiritual exercise; her first true desire beyond the basics.

6) Seven's first command certainly has some interesting character potential. It's probably not enough to fill an entire episode, but it certainly has potential as a B plot.

So yeah, there was a lot of potential here, but perhaps too much potential. Take the Seven's first command aspect, the one that could be a nice B plot? Yeah, 2 minutes. Kim's whininess just appears out of nowhere, and Seven's silly renaming aspect comes out of nowhere. So basically, it just appears out of nowhere and disappears into nothing. It should have been delayed.

And then there's Janeway's conflict. It kept being brought up by other people, but Janeway herself never seems to have any qualms. It sounds like it was an idea that was brought up early on and then slowly faded out after multiple rewrites. But because there is that potential, it feels lost. Should have either taken it out entirely or had a good, solid scene of it, probably with Tuvok.

Speaking of scenes with Tuvok, I like that they deliberately showed that they were destroying the Prime Directive here. But the aliens said they were desperate, that this was the last best hope. So as soon as Voyager leaves, they're going to start up again on researching Omega! I think a more powerful ending (instead of the lame action shot as needed before) would be if Janeway actually gave them some advanced technology in exchange for abandoning their research on Omega. Tuvok could have condemned or questioned the choice, Janeway could have responded, it could have been a daring move. Instead, its the same move we've seen a dozen times over.

Likewise, why was the resolution of Seven's spiritual experience the way it was? The Omega particles stabilized by themselves? Doesn't that mean that maybe they should have kept their research? Doesn't that mean that maybe the particles could be harvested? Also, Janeway refused to allow Seven to try to stabilize them. Then, the generic villains attack. So Janeway's plan is then shot to hell. So, what does she do? Go with Seven's plan as a backup? No, just makes up a new crazy plan with no thought and says its close enough. Why not go with Seven's plan, temporarily? That would have given Seven the time she desired to spend with the particles, and could have given her her religious experience. It could have wrapped up the conflict between Seven and Janeway in a reasonable compromise, given the circumstances. And at the very least, it wouldn't sound like the writers were grasping at straws to end the episode with the oh-so-fake drama the network keeps imposing on them.

Like I said, almost great. Still good though.
Jason R.
Thu, Jan 14, 2016, 11:24am (UTC -5)
I recently re-watched this episode and I continue to be impressed with how well they utilized 7 of 9 and how effective Jeri Ryan was in that role.

I enjoyed some of the mystery in this episode, the way the computer just shut everything down and you had this Omega symbol on the screen. That part was intriguing. By the way, what would have happened if Voyager was in a fight with another ship at the time or doing something crucial. I guess they get blown up.

But again, the Borg religious elements simply didn't work for me. I'm sorry, but Borg spirituality is just a silly notion. While the idea of 7 of 9 as a human, gaining some kind of spiritual awakening through previously held Borg beliefs is intriguing, the way it was portrayed in this episode was not very credible.

What was happening at the end when the molecule was spontaneously stabilizing? Are we meant to think that it was sentient? Sending 7 some kind of message? I'm not a spiritual person, but I thought moments of "clarity" were supposed to make things - well clear. I just don't get what 7 was supposed to have learned from this experience or what message was supposedly conveyed in the end.

It sounds like the Voyager writers wanted to convey that 7 had some kind of religious revelation, but didn't get around to figuring out what it was, who revealed it, or what any of it meant. I guess a moment of clarity is just some funky lights, weird images and pyrotechnics and you're supposed to just say "wow! awesome! God?!". Forgive me, that sounds more like an acid trip than a religious awakening.
Diamond Dave
Mon, Feb 15, 2016, 4:16pm (UTC -5)
This could have been a classic, but after a really strong opening it kind of faded away into a fairly standard technobabble/alien conflict type scenario.

The whole concept of the Omega Directive I thought extremely inventive, and very well handled initially. Seven's spiritual journey was also inventive, but perhaps less well handled - it's never quite certain exactly what is in play here. Given it tails away to a fairly nondescript ending, 2.5 stars.
Thu, Feb 25, 2016, 9:19am (UTC -5)
Honestly, most of the comments here show lack of attention to what was said in the show, and some stubborn belief about the show being static. If you paid attention, and stop thinking the show is static and pay attention to the character development over episodes, everything here would seem like a natural continuation.

Janeway's secrecy. Omega particles are supposed to be very dangerous. She decides to hide information about it because she wants to protect her crew. She only wants to risk herself, no one else. She states this as her motivation for all this secrecy when Chakotay confronted her and asked her to disclose it. She also explained that normally, if they had the rest of the Federation, the rest of Starfleet would be involved, but since they are alone in the Delta Quadrant, she wants to do it herself and not risk endangering her crew whom she wants to see them reach home.

Seven's religious experience. It makes sense. Her Borg indoctrination drives her obsession to discover more about the particle. However, since she has been un-assimilated and gradually learning to behave more human, learning human ways of talking etc. over many episodes, her expressions in this episode therefore carry a human-like characteristic of religious analogies. If she were still fully Borg, she would, in her own words, assimilate it at all costs. And she will not be explaining to anyone what she is doing. She would just assimilate the alien researcher, and then assimilate the particle.

Aliens, the Voyager crew early on did say these were a pre-warp society. However, it doesn't mean they can't build ships with impulse propulsion or weapons strong enough to affect Federation shields. Nowhere did they say that, they only said they were pre-warp. Which is why Voyager could escape them near the end of the episode by engaging warp one. And it is no implausible for them to invent and store the particle despite being more primitive in space travel technology - perhaps they have discovered some other elements or technique not known to the Federation previously, which they did, when Seven questioned that alien scientist and found out.

Get rid of the particles using the transporter... Seems like a possible idea for... people who don't know how transporters work. And I am no expert on transporters either. However, it could be very possible that if they kept the particles in the transporter, the transporter system may overload and damage the ship instead?

Seven going all collective-protocol and giving crew members numbered designations. I find this very amusing and had no issue with it. She's just using her own kind of ranking system since she was tasked with a leadership role, while keeping the simplicity of numbers, instead of creating titles.

Omega particle stabilizing by itself. To me, perhaps it was due to them reaching the right amount of particles in the chamber, allowing it to stabilize. The self-stabilization occurred as Seven was destroying them and reducing them (recall she and Janeway were discussing how many percent of the particles remained), so perhaps the key to achieving a stable molecule is to have the right number of particles.

Returning the scientist who invented the particle back to his society. Well, this could possibly have been handled better but since they were running out of time on the show they had to end it quickly. However, it was very possible they debriefed the scientist off-screen, told him the dangers, and he himself said earlier his society was low on resources and this was their only hope - perhaps he was really telling the truth and now that the particle is gone, they can't hope to remake it, so returning the scientist is no issue.

And this might have meant that Voyager was condemning their race to ... a stagnation in technological progress or even destruction, but that's where the part about ignoring the Prime Directive seems intriguiging, and that the Omega Directive should take precedence over the Prime Directive

Thu, May 19, 2016, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
I always really enjoy this one.

"Consider this part of the review a foray into needless discussion"

lol Jammer.... isn't that what we do here? :-)

Couple high points I remember?

I remember 7 finishing Tuvok off in Kal-toh :-)

I remember loving that Chakotay was able to convince Janeway she didn't need to go this alone. She could trust her crew.

I remember Janeway and Chuckles having guarded trust for Seven and this chamber. Rightly so after her conduct during 'Prey'. I also remember being very pleased that she proved that she can be trusted, even when dealing with something that meant so much to her.

I remember Seven getting a glimpse of "perfection".

I remember thinking that they should figure out whatever that "vault" was made of :-)

I busted a nut when Seven re-designated Harry ... LOL!!!

I remember the Janeway/Seven chat at the end of the episode.

3.5 stars from me. Never a skipper.
Wed, May 25, 2016, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
Q accused Humanity of being a "dangerous, savage child-race" in ST-TNG and were put on trial. Here, the Aliens -of the-Week have the means to destroy the galaxy and yet Q is nowhere to be seen. No consistency!
Sun, Jul 10, 2016, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
I didn't like it, but reading all the postive reviews, I will re-watch it with an open mind.
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 7:33pm (UTC -5)
Episode did nothing for me. Just another Janeway or the highway showcase. (*)
Wed, Aug 31, 2016, 10:15am (UTC -5)
One thing I learned from this episode:
Omega Directive > Prime Directive
Joseph S
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
While watching this episode today, I noticed that Seven of Nine misspeaks the stardate as "15781.2" instead of "51781.2." Apparently neither the producers nor even Memory Alpha caught the error, as the latter quotes Seven's log entry with the correct stardate.
Fri, Nov 4, 2016, 1:46am (UTC -5)
When Voyager sped away as they exploded the chamber with the torpedo, didn't they still have some of the aliens in sick bay?

Did they return them after, apologize for destroying the aliens' "life's work" and just mosey on toward the AQ?

Chatokay said they would return them after, but they never seemed to...

Really intriguing episode overall. Seven is very compelling.
Mon, Nov 7, 2016, 11:13am (UTC -5)
@Yanks - I'm with you. Really good idea and well executed.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sat, Nov 26, 2016, 6:37pm (UTC -5)
I do like this episode, but the idea that a pre-warp civilization could come up with this technology is quite a stretch, like Leonardo da Vinci building a functional nuclear reactor. I can understand them being a space-faring but still pre-warp species, but that being the case, why would their ships even have weapons at all, let alone weapons that could damage Voyager? Unless there are multiple space-faring species in this planetary system, or they're routinely raided by warp-capable civilizations, weapons make no more sense than NASA arming the Space Shuttle or International Space Station. They don't seem surprised to run into aliens, so either they have a very non-typical history and relationship with the rest of the galaxy, or it's just a case of sloppy writing. Regardless, if they haven't developed warp drive, then it seems highly unlikely that they would have antimatter weapons capable of fending off warp capable species. Transporting the molecules and their extremely sensitive containment technology also makes no sense.
Sat, Feb 4, 2017, 11:24am (UTC -5)
I agree with Skeptical. This was one rewrite on its way to being a classic. So many good elements. They just didn't quite come together or were not executed properly.

I think this episode should've been a Q episode. Omega molecules (I prefer omega particles) shoul've been what brought the Q into being and caused the Big Bang as Janeway stated. This explains Q's statement that they've always been here. And it explains the Omega molecule's self-stabilization at the end of this episode, where 7 felt like as she was observing perfection, it was observing her as well. It was becoming a Q embryo until Janeway popped her Plan B pill!
Tue, Feb 21, 2017, 1:06am (UTC -5)
The Omega molecule should be popping up all over the place and their is no way for the Federation to put SNL lock on it. One thing that this episode brings up is two scenarios play out: If this pre-warp society can develop the molecule once then they can do it again. OR as this was the society's Hail Mary (having depleted their resources) Voyager left them all to die - a slow death.
Mon, Feb 27, 2017, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
I really enjoyed this episode even though some parts were questionable, though I think that has all been covered already. Someone mentioned them beaming up the Omega particles and asking why they didn't destroy them that way. Just don't re-materialize them period. I started thinking about it though and the way the transporter works is by converting matter to energy and moving that energy to a new location and converting it back to matter. However these particles are already energy so maybe it was just moving them, no dematerializing involved. I don't know, just a thought. Then again maybe it was just a plot hole.

By the way I think it's really awesome how this site has these conversations that span nearly an entire decade and just keep going.
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 8:28am (UTC -5)
To those questioning why the particle wasn't popping up all over the place if even a pre warp species could create it, this was answered in the episode. Seven described how the borg exhausted their supply of whatever resources were needed to synthesize omega. Given the vastness of the borg collective, we can presume this compound would have been exceedingly rare in the universe. The implication is that omega isn't necessarily hard to synthesize, *if* you have a supply of unobtanium to do so. The pre warp species may have just happened to possess a rare supply of this unobtanium.
Peter G.
Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 9:37am (UTC -5)
@ Jason R.,

The fact that you felt obliged to call it "unobtanium" is exactly the issue here. They may as well have called it the magical philosopher's stone, only found in the land of the wizards. In science there isn't going to be some magical element only found in one star system in the galaxy, that even the Borg can't synthesize or find. Normal matter would be exceedingly easy to create using other elements, and if this is some kind of abnormal matter (exotic matter, subspace whatever, etc.) it seems inconceivable that it could ever be 'found' by anyone who didn't know how to go to the weird places where it could be found, since they'd lack the technology.

It would be like saying that some guy at a lab at MIT just 'came across' some exotic matter that can only be found in wormholes. Oh really?
Jason R.
Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 9:59am (UTC -5)
Peter I'd agree the concept of an impossible to synthesize compound is strange in a universe with replicators. But it is hardly unprecedented in Trek. Materials like Latinum, Dilithium crystals, for instance, were always established as rare or difficult to synthesize. I presume our unobtanium is just like that, only orders if magnitude rarer. And I see no illogic in presupposing that some pre warp civilzation could be blessed with the quadrant's only supply - maybe their planet is near a black hole that sucked in an ancient Indian burial ground seeded with cosmic fairy dust. Who cares? They have it.
Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Trek is *full* of resource scarcities. Federation worlds with mining, agriculture, manufacturing industries. They *clearly* don't use replicators for lots of things. The only rational explanation is that replication is too expensive, presumably in energy, to be economical for many applications in the normal course of things--even if they are within technical possibility. High-value mobile or remote facilities (like starships) might rely on replication much more than the Federation (and comparable powers) as a whole.

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