Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Dark Frontier"

***

Air date: 2/17/1999
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Part I directed by Cliff Bole
Part II directed by Terry Windell

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"There are three things to remember about being a starship captain: Keep your shirt tucked in; go down with the ship; and never abandon a member of your crew." — Janeway to Naomi

Nutshell: Ambitious and often very effective entertainment, but the plot doesn't bear too much scrutiny.

"Dark Frontier" does probably exactly what UPN executives wanted it to—it provides "an epic two-hour telefilm!" during February sweeps that is accessible to the average sci-fi-but-not-necessarily-Voyager fan and features the Borg, the most popular and reliable of all Trek bad guys. Obviously, no expense was spared in producing this two hour "event." So the real question: Is it any good? Answer: Yes.

Next question: Could it have been better? Answer: Yes.

I also have to ask: Was this story really necessary? I mean, the whole story, when you think about it, doesn't really take us anywhere new, especially when it comes to its central character, Seven of Nine. "Dark Frontier" seems at times like it exists more for the sake of grand spectacle than for grand story development. Not that I would necessarily let that get in the way of enjoying it.

If "Dark Frontier" was trying to get my attention with pure cinematic audacity, it worked. The episode wastes no time in coming out big and bold, showing off production values in an entertainingly effective way. The first scene opens on a Borg scout ship, featuring a Borg point-of-view sequence as a drone wakes up to assist the ship's attack on Voyager, which it has detected as a target for assimilation. David Bell's score comes out stronger than music is normally ever permitted to be on Trek episodes these days, with an actual theme and a thundering attitude. Not long after, there's a brief battle, followed by large-scale special effects and explosions when Voyager beams a torpedo into the ship and destroys it. As action-adventure, to say "Dark Frontier" revealed its intentions confidently and effectively right up front would be an understatement.

The crew salvages debris from the destroyed ship in hopes of finding useful technology. A transwarp coil in particular would be useful; it could shave 20 years off the journey. What's left of the salvaged coil, however, is useless.

From here, Janeway devises a daring plan. A crippled Borg vessel is detected heading back toward Borg space. With a carefully executed maneuver, the crew could break its defenses and steal a warp coil. The plan is appropriately dubbed "Operation: Fort Knox."

While we're talking about Janeway, I'd like to comment on a character whose actions have long been controversial and inconsistently written. I find myself reminded of second season's "Alliances." At the end of that episode, the writers alleged that, in light of being stuck in the chaotic Delta Quadrant surrounded by brutal opportunistic enemies, Janeway's course of adjustment would simply be to maintain Federation morals—"business as usual," as Chakotay once put it. I found that attitude to be shallow, naive, and dramatically limiting. (To analyze Federation ideals, the writers must challenge them in new ways, even if it means willful deviation.)

Over the years of Voyager's uneasy run, that attitude has been changed. Now we have a Janeway that, while still maintaining diplomacy and a sense of morality, will go further to protect her crew and get them home more quickly. (It has been said that Kate Mulgrew feels Brannon Braga understands Janeway better than former executive producers Jeri Taylor or Michael Piller did; perhaps that partially explains this alteration in attitude.)

So the question is whether this robbery mission better demonstrates Janeway's strengths. I'm thinking it does; it shows through action the way she will push the boundaries of typical Federation morals in the name of her crew. And Mulgrew fares well when she's allowed to show her teeth. (Although, Janeway came off as a little smug in the scene where she introduces "Operation: Fort Knox" to the crew; Mulgrew sometimes goes overboard with the body language.)

Now then—what about the moral implications of this theft? Is it okay to steal from the Borg, even if they are one of the worst enemies the Federation has ever known? More immediately, is it prudent to charge into the lion's den for a great prize if there's a risk the entire crew could end up assimilated? While I appreciate moral and practical ambiguity, the writers don't seem to really be asking these questions so much as they arise as a side effect. "Dark Frontier" charges forward with plot and action without completely considering the consequences.

But no matter. "Dark Frontier" exists more often for plot and action than for philosophic content. On that level, it fares well.

In preparation for the big heist, there are holodeck training drills and information searches. The major character undercurrent here, naturally, is for Seven of Nine, who, at Janeway's request, searches through her parents' data logs, which were retrieved from the USS Raven more than a year earlier. Seven apparently has been avoiding these logs to avoid facing her old pre-Borg childhood memories—back when her name was Annika Hansen. The new need for information now has her facing up to the past.

"Dark Frontier" is not afraid to invent or even reinvent backstory for the sake of advancing its story. Through a series of Seven's flashbacks, we get new insight into Annika's parents, Magnus and Erin Hansen (Kirk Baily and Laura Stepp). The story reveals them as two scientists who undertook a mission to find and learn about the nefarious Borg, and became so obsessed with their leads that they disregarded orders from their scientist colleagues, effectively alienating themselves. Since there was no turning back, they simply pressed forward, hoping to find Borg. Eventually, they did.

The Hansens' audacity is remarkable. There's a fine line between brave and stupid, and the Hansens walked that line for three years, we learn, studying a Borg cube without being detected as "relevant" before finally crossing the line and getting themselves assimilated. In that time, they boarded the cube on many occasions, and even kidnapped dormant drones from their regeneration alcoves to study them. All the while, they tell each other, "This could prove our theory!" I kept asking myself: What's wrong with these people? Don't they care about getting themselves and their 5-year-old daughter killed or assimilated? In any case, I found the Hansens' overconfidence and obsession interesting.

Was any of the Hansens' Borg research intended back when last season's "The Raven" was written? I doubt it, but then again I don't really care; "Raven" kept the Hansens' history vague, and the rewriting of that history proves interesting and is put to good use in "Dark Frontier."

On the other hand, some of this reinvention I found a little annoying, because it flies in the face of established continuity. More specifically, these flashbacks allege that Starfleet knew about the Borg years before they could have. The first Borg episode, TNG's "Q Who," was about 10 years ago. Starfleet knew nothing about them. Here, the Hansens apparently knew about the Borg some 20 years ago, which is simply impossible given what we've seen before.

Is any of this continuity quibbling important to "Dark Frontier"? Probably not, but it is a blatant disregard for past history for those of us who remember the Borg's introduction back in the second season of TNG, and I have to at least mention my objection to the distorting the facts.

But again, no matter. Story advancement first, plot continuity second. "Dark Frontier" blends the flashbacks into the main story effectively, balancing Seven's feelings on the matter with the bigger plot involving the mission.

It's about this time that Seven is contacted by the Borg, who somehow know about Janeway's plan. They tell her, essentially, that she must rejoin the collective, or the Borg will assimilate Voyager. Why do they want her? "Because you are unique." Borg riddles. Gotta love 'em.

This leads to a very nice scene where Seven makes a plea to Janeway to allow her to stay on the mission even though she has been fraught with emotional distraction over the last few days. Seven knows something Janeway doesn't, but can't tell her about it. The plan must go on for Voyager's sake. Seven's sense of self-sacrifice is fairly affecting; the character certainly has come a long way in the past year.

The mission is nicely executed, as is Seven's capture. The story comes up with some interesting ways of giving Voyager the advantage, like the devices that make crew members temporarily undetectable from the Borg while on a Borg ship (which are established through the Hansen backstory, who used them to run around the Borg cube for hours at a time)—although, I was somewhat confused by the story's unclear intentions of how much of the plan the Voyager crew pulled off versus how much the Borg let them get away with it.

"Dark Frontier" is an episode whose action works through little details. The Hansen flashbacks benefit from some nice nuances, such as the Hansens giving the Borg drones pet names as a way of keeping track of them, or the frighteningly implicit consequences foreshadowed by little Annika (Katelin Petersen) saying "bye" as her parents beam a Borg drone back to the cube.

In the present storyline, we have good use of Naomi Wildman, a character whose presence manages to transcend the "cute" factor and tell us something about the other characters, whether serving as a reminder for Seven's truncated childhood, or playing off the captain in a scene that reveals Janeway's codependency of humanity and duty ("Keep your shirt tucked in; go down with the ship; and never abandon a member of your crew").

Once Seven returns to the Borg, the story's big hook is the reintroduction of the Borg Queen (Susanna Thompson), which is supposed to provide a one-on-one battle of wills, I think, over the nature of Seven's unique re-assimilation into the collective. It's at this point the story seems to resign itself to the fact the writers have used the Borg about a dozen times and now must ask, well, where can we go from here? The second half of "Dark Frontier" is entertaining, but psychologically it can't deliver much more than what we've already seen. It feels more like a series of skillfully executed set pieces than a story trying to find its way to some sort of emotional resolution. The Borg Queen's attempts to crack Seven are all too similar to the Queen's attempt to crack Data in First Contact: coercion, temptation, finding the crux of human morality, elusive riddles, etc.

The use of the Borg Queen had me asking questions with no apparent answers. For starters, what is the purpose of the Queen? As Data put it, "I wish to understand the organizational relationships." Is there some sort of hierarchy, where the Queen actually runs the collective? Or is the Queen simply a special liaison—a symbol of the hive mind—who is assembled whenever there is special need to psychologically crack an individual? (There's evidence here that could have it either way, but because by the end of the episode we'll now have two Queens that have died, it's apparent they aren't crucial to the collective.)

For that matter, I'm confused at why the Borg even want Seven of Nine back. What's so special about her individuality that makes her valuable? The Queen says that no other Borg has ever regained individuality, but I must raise my hand and ask about the entire colony in "Unity." (But, no; I must again remind myself that continuity doesn't count.) But even forgetting that for the moment, if the Borg assimilate Seven's memories, won't that be everything they need? Apparently not; the Queen wants Seven to remain an individual who willfully chooses to side with the Borg. How this helps the collective I'm not sure. The story thinks weird, elusive dialog will suffice as an answer. I disagree. It was interesting in First Contact; here it begins to feel like a shallow imitation.

Susanna Thompson works fairly well early on as the Queen (and she has great eyes for the part), but near the end her performance loses the surreal edge and seems far too concrete and flat to be anything more than a "Borg villain." Her attempts to coax Seven into abandoning her human compassion involves a host of psychological tricks, some of which are interesting, others which aren't.

The most compelling idea is the Borg's assimilation of an entire society while Seven is forced to assist, which proves quite effective and intense. Seven walks through the corridors as dozens of drones move mindlessly through the ship with their alien prisoners, as screaming emerges from an uncertain distance; it conveys a frightening chaos that seems like some surreal Nazi nightmare. It's a unique and powerful look at the Borg, and Seven's "human" choices in this situation are interesting.

On the other hand is the appearance of Seven's "father" in the form of a drone, which is going way too over the top, and in presentation seems like nothing more than a cheap "shock value" gag that puts forward no interesting consequences.

During all of this, the Voyager crew realizes Seven had been coerced into leaving them, so Janeway equips the Delta Flyer with the recently acquired transwarp coil to track Seven down in Borg space. They arrive there, which leads to a somewhat unexpected cinema cliche where Janeway and the Queen engage in the Borg version of the Movie Armed Standoff [TM] for the custody of Seven—with Janeway holding a big gun while lots of Borg threaten to come closer to her. The idea is handled somewhat klutzily (with tech procedures and "pure attitude" the key components in the showdown, and neither really winning a sense of urgency)—but I did enjoy the Queen's look of downright anger when Seven and Janeway beamed away.

Of course, I must point out that it strains the usefulness of the Borg as a believably powerful enemy in the galaxy if the Delta Flyer can get the better of them with some convenient technobabble and Borg connections, even though an entire fleet can barely deal with a single cube zeroing in on Earth. The Borg are neat enemies, but they lose their edge of implacability because of their willingness to negotiate near the end of "Dark Frontier."

Oh well. Despite Voyager's tendency to overuse the Borg, I still thought the actual execution of the action was well done overall, and the final chase managed to milk a good amount of excitement out a questionable ending. And, hey, we even got 15 years closer to home thanks to the transwarp coil.

If I may comment on technical aspects: Simply put—awesome. The visual effects are among the best and most convincing I've ever seen on sci-fi television, and succeed extremely well on the "cool" factor. The sheer number of visuals is impressive. The Queen's ship is a marvel of design complexity that is still consistent with Borg geometry and symmetry—and, well, it just looks neat. The story ventures into Borg territory, where we see massive space stations. The sets and makeup design are all solid and pleasing to the eye (even if green light rays perpetually shining on the Borg Queen was pushing it). I can't imagine what this all cost to produce; there's a lot on the screen, and most of it proves very effective.

As television production goes, "Dark Frontier" is easily the most ambitious thing Voyager has ever done. It's exceptionally well constructed. Unfortunately, it's not exceptionally well thought out. The story just can't keep up with the ambition. Nevertheless, it's probably good to have ambition, and I credit the producers for trying something so large, even if original ideas couldn't always fit the concept.

Next week: Choose your title: "Harry Gets Some" or "Lust in Space."

Previous episode: Bliss
Next episode: The Disease

Season Index

55 comments on this review

Gretchen - Sun, Nov 4, 2007 - 4:16pm (USA Central)
In terms of quality, TNG's Borg episodes were like Night of the Living Dead. Voyager's Borg episodes(and Dark Frontier is no exception) are more like House of the Dead.
AJ Koravkrian - Wed, Nov 7, 2007 - 3:21pm (USA Central)
I have a problem with this so called heist. It is so very un-trek. You simply can't justify stealing technology when your directive instructs you not even to trade it with alien cultures...even if it is borg.
Jakob M. Mokoru - Fri, Jan 25, 2008 - 4:11am (USA Central)
"No Borg has ever regained individuality." Well, anybody heard of one Jean-Luc Picard???
Stefan - Mon, Mar 31, 2008 - 5:56pm (USA Central)
I didn't like the Borg Queen. In First Contact, she appears to be the Borg CPU. She simply organizes all the data in the Collective. Here she appears to be something akin to the evil matriarch in a primetime soap opera.

Jammer's absolutely right about the fact that the Borg, if continuity mattered to the Voyager writers, should have simply reassimilated Seven. Why convince her of anything, when she would obviously agree with the Borg Queen once she was a drone again? With Data it was necessary, because Data could not be assimilated in the standard way. With Seven, it's completely illogical.
STD - Fri, May 30, 2008 - 5:33am (USA Central)
I sort of wank away the reason why the Borg didn't just assimilate Seven by looking at their appraisal of humanity. According to their analysis, humans don't have any particularly outstanding biological features and the technology of the Federation is woefully inadequate compared to the Borg. Yet they've managed to repel Borg invasions multiple times. Borg rarely fail when they set their sites on a civilization, and probably never when they have such a huge advantage in resources and technology. So how do these upright apes keep managing to do so? They could do something like send a hundred cubes to the Alpha quadrant, but I suspect that the Collective's hubris won't allow them to take such a drastic action; its an inefficient use of resources and tantamount to admitting that their perfection is flawed. One cube should be -plenty-. Yet it never is.

Its a puzzle the Collective can't figure out, but they figure it must have something to do with Federation individuality. If individuality is the key, reassimilating Seven would be counter productive; the Collective wants, essentially, someone who knows how the -enemy- thinks and anticipate and adapt to that type of thinking. Assimilation would destroy that.

Why Seven? Because she was basically raised by the Collective, so her loyalties are much more likely to be affiliated with the Borg, even if she becomes individualized. The other Borg who left the collective have all been adults who had lots of life experience before being assimilated (Hugh doesn't count -- his branch of the Collective collapsed). Also, Seven is human; since that is the main species the Borg are interested in as far as the Federation is concerned, it makes sense to use her.

This is speculation, of course, but it seems plausible enough to fit what we're shown.
Aaron - Thu, Jul 31, 2008 - 2:10pm (USA Central)
This episode, and many of the other two parters have convinced me that Voyager excels at the action-adventure side of Trek, much more so than the other series. In fact, had they realized this all along, they could have just had 13, two hour telemovies a year and been done with it.

That having been said, Dark Frontier is the most pointless Borg episode of all the Voyager-Borg stories. The queen basically had no motivation for kidnapping Seven in the first place. And while I respect that Voyager is led by a risk-taker, and has more Borg knowledge from Seven...it kind of seems as if the Borg lost their teeth here...and never really got them back.

This contrasts with TNG, where the Borg were scary, even in their stupid unitards with plastic. They were untouchable. Voyager made them mechanical Romulans, in a way: a threat, but one that could be dealt with.

Pauly - Fri, Aug 1, 2008 - 6:45am (USA Central)
I liked it, it was a good action-adventure (tho with a lot of holes). There was one scene however that infuriated me. After B'Elanna had managed to get the Borg/Fed engine to work (after looking at 7's data):

Janeway: "And B'Elanna, don't access personal databses without my authorisation."
B: "Captain?"
Janeway: "There are protocols for observing privacy on this ship"
B: "No offence, but 7 is not on this ship anymore"
J: "I realise you two weren't exactly close. Regardless, we just lost one of our own."
B: "She was never one of our own, Captain. Didn't she just prove that?"
J: "I don't know what happened on that sphere, and neither do you Lt. Carry on."

I love these two characters, but J really bothered me here. Leaving the alcove on would have been enough, without putting this scene in there.
EP - Mon, Mar 2, 2009 - 11:06pm (USA Central)
Eh, the plot was a dribbling mishmash, thank you Brannon Braga, but I really enjoyed the music. Somehow, composer David Bell managed to break free from the Rick Berman collective edict of Sonic Wallpaper to deliver a bombastic score. It's still no Best of Both Worlds by Ron Jones; nonetheless, I found myself humming it for several days afterward.

Joseph B - Tue, Mar 10, 2009 - 2:39pm (USA Central)
I have to give this episode ***1/2 stars just based on the entertainment value alone! I was so "into" the episode that I even gasped when Seven's "Papa" appeared as a drone at a critical juncture near the end.

As to the logic: I really bought the Queen's reasoning regarding Seven's "Uniqueness". It was clear from the start that Seven was chosen to interact with Voyager's crew initially (in "Scorpion") because she was a human who had been part of the collective for 16 years. The Borg were probably upset that she left the collective, and the Queen then made it her mission to get her back after "allowing" her to absorb human individuality for two years. Taking all of that in combination with the two failed attempts by the Borg to assimilate Earth and there's a certain fabric to the logic here. What I didn't buy was the scene at the end when the Queen tried to force Seven to help the Borg create the Earth "Bio-Bomb". That part seemed a little rushed, but it *did* allow for a very dramatic ending confrontation.

This was no "Living Witness"; but it was perhaps even more enjoyable as pure entertainment.
chris h - Tue, Mar 24, 2009 - 5:31pm (USA Central)
no borg has ever regained their individuality.
Picard
Hugh
All the aliens on that planet chakotay went to who later decided to become their own collective but still "regained their individuality" for a time

continuity abused for producers/writers creative license. not to forget phlox in enterprise's "regeneration" he almost became borg and heard their thoughts
Charlie - Wed, Apr 1, 2009 - 1:36pm (USA Central)
I'm surprised no one brought this funny nit up. Near the end when Janeway explains her plan to rescue Seven, she says "Thanks to the Hansens, we'll be prepared for an encounter with the Borg."
Ummm..., weren't the Hansens assimilated? So, wouldn't any knowledge they had be useless since the Borg would obtained it once they were assimilated?
Sebastian - Thu, May 7, 2009 - 2:01pm (USA Central)
Did anyone notice the use of "Please"? Seven tries to persuade each of her Ersatz-mothers and both change their mind after Seven says "please": Janeway takes her onto the mission, the Borg queen releases the four aliens. Was that some kind of lesson or does Seven learn to use her charm?
Latex Zebra - Wed, Jul 1, 2009 - 6:42am (USA Central)
Did no one else find the whole assimilation section of this episode extremely harrowing. Was very dark stuff.
The producers painted themselves in a corner by announcing the age of Seven's assimilation in another episode. Better to have changed that and had a slightly older 7 (how old is she suppposed to be as an adult) so it could have fitted in with the Hansens heading off soon after the first Borg meeting.
Michael - Fri, Jul 2, 2010 - 4:14am (USA Central)
Acoushla Moya: "Better safe than assimilated."
LOL!

A nice, stimulating episode, full of action and adventure. Shame about the several soppy "let's-talk-about-our-feelings" sequences, but they didn't spoil the overall thing. Another minor annoyance: Naomi Wildman's absurd forehead bumps. Ugly. What the hell... - reproductive glands or something???

For those talking about continuity and trying to explain the illogic and holes: Are you serious?! The Star Trek universe makes no sense anyway and if we began detailing everything that's inconsistent, illogical or just plain dumb about it, we'd end up with a tome more voluminous than the Encyclopedia Britannica!

So, Janeway takes on the Borg and wins. Again and again. One busybody, who belongs to a species even the Borg denoted as of below-average intellectual capacity and lacking in many aspects, comes up trumps against a race that has effortlessly assimilated billions of individuals all over the universe. Ah, whatever. Just take it for what it is: A bit of harmless entertainment. In that regard, this episode excels. Four stars, at the very least.
navamske - Mon, Oct 11, 2010 - 7:03pm (USA Central)
@Michael

"Another minor annoyance: Naomi Wildman's absurd forehead bumps. Ugly. What the hell... - reproductive glands or something?"

Those things are the result of her being half Ktarian. I agree they look stupid, but there's a legitimate, canonical reason for them, and all four actresses who played Naomi (unless the infant was a CGI construct) had them. Even Naomi's daughter had them, in "Endgame." Why do they bother you?
Michael - Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - 8:35am (USA Central)
Navamske: They look ugly, number one. Number two, it's laziness and lack of imagination on the writers' and makeup artists' part. What: The only way to make someone look non-human is to stick some seashells on their forehead?? The old "forehead of the week" story... - except this time it's a recurring character, so they could've invested a bit more effort into it. S'all.
Jeff - Sat, Nov 6, 2010 - 2:36pm (USA Central)
Certainly this episode is one of the standouts of the series, but agree it's more for the action and spectacle, as opposed to the story.

I certainly didn't like how the Borg backstory was conceived. This is one of those continuity goofs I never understood. It really seems to diminish the impact of "Q Who?"

VOY tended to do very well by their big EVENT episodes. Most of the weekly stories are annoyingly average with the occasional classic. But usually the event episodes came off quite well. The stories may not have been the best. But the action and effects made them interesting to watch and "Dark Frontier" is no exception.

It's just too bad the writers couldn't make the regular characters (outside of Seven and the EMH) more interesting on just a regular basis as opposed to the EVENT episodes.
Cloudane - Sun, Dec 12, 2010 - 4:17pm (USA Central)
Could do without spoiler comments.. some of us are going through the series and reviews later in life. (At least it sounds like the miracle growth nature of Naomi gets explored and probably explained, but still.)

So this is the infamous episode that throws away all continuity and acknowledgement that TNG even existed.
Other than that it was a very good episode, and on its own it had the potential to be a true Trek classic. Without going into great detail analysing the plot I would simply say it has a fine balance of action and things like characterisation and emotion, brilliantly produced and directed, with some great music. The blatant disregard for the past though, spoils it an awful lot.
Elliott - Sat, Apr 16, 2011 - 3:42am (USA Central)
Voyager "changed" continuity only inasmuch as it offered a deeper insight (granted a newly invented one, but so what, it was a new show) into that continuity. Why is it so wrong that the Borg's motivations at their core are the same as everyone else's, just with an atypically scary and probing form of propaganda, the collective? I think it's a brilliant way to apply TOS era Trek-ology to a TNG era creation.

DS9 changed the continuity of what it meant to be human, but no one seems to give a damn. A character like Picard or Data could never be written into the DS9 Universe--notice that Picard hardly acts like himself in "Emissary," (or in ST: Nemesis for that matter).

This episode was standout for its ability not only to 1) present an engaging action premise, yes but couched amidst ongoing character development, 2) coagulate themes from the series run as well as its predecessors' and 3) redefine (or expose fully depending on one's perspective) the nature of Trek's greatest enemy conceived to the cause of eventually deconstructing (and destroying) them in this series' finale. Remarkable episode which also featured stunning effects, characterisations, acting (I can't stress enough how much better it is than the regulars on DS9 and I'm sorry if Dukat and Garak aren't on the opening credits, they aren't "regulars") music and cinematography. 4 stars.
B. Silverbow - Sat, Aug 6, 2011 - 11:16pm (USA Central)
Did any one else notice the whole mother-daughter moment at the end of the episode between Janeway and Seven?
Janeway asking Seven to go regenerate, Seven saying she'll go when she's finished and Janeway saying 'No, now.' Then she goes and sets up the alcove, metaphorically tucking her in and says 'Sweet dreams.' I thought it was really cute.
Ya gotta love those two, there's such a tangible bond between them.
Iceblink - Mon, Aug 8, 2011 - 5:21am (USA Central)
Voyager's greatest strengths and weaknesses exemplified here: it's ability to create engaging, action-packed episodes that no appealed to a wide demographic, for they are quite easy to follow for the more casual viewer.

It's weakness is that the writing isn't as good as it could have been. It's a solid enough episode and it goes from A to B to C in a reasonable manner, but there's just not enough plot to sustain a two hour episode. It's pretty stretched and I didn't feel the characterisation probed as deeply as it could have. The endless exchanges between Seven and the Borg Queen lacked spark and drama. With some tighter writing, their scenes could really have been something special. It just never went anywhere.

The Hansen flashbacks were adequate, although maybe a little unnecessary and unfortunately they p****d all over continuity, in a major way. The Hansens, whose obsession with the Borg bordered on idiocy, also have to be the most astoundably
irresponsible parents ever seen on Trek. They obviously didn't care about their daughter's safety one little bit.

Apart from that, it's still an enjoyable episode, if you keep the brain in neutral. Kind of the Trek equivalent of a Hollywood popcorn movie - something Voyager did well.
Jay - Sat, Sep 3, 2011 - 4:59pm (USA Central)
Funny how in the episode with the Cardassian doctor, which was just a simulation, bloody murder was screamed about using the technologies in question because of how they were acquired, but here the Borg, whose entire technology is essentially the rape of civilizations, Janeway actually goes on an expedition to grab her some...I think I even saw drool coming out of the side of her mouth.
Destructor - Sun, Jan 29, 2012 - 10:06pm (USA Central)
Nitpicks aside, this episode is just a lot of epic-scale fun. I'd give it four stars.
Latex Zebra - Fri, Mar 23, 2012 - 10:31am (USA Central)
"As I recall, Cochrane was famous for his imaginative stories. He was also known to be frequently intoxicated." T'Pol in Regeneration.

Clearly the Hansens were big Cochrane fans and investigated his drunked story more seriously than Starfleet.

Laroquod - Sat, Jun 23, 2012 - 3:36pm (USA Central)
@Jay

Janeway made the same decision in both the case of the Cardassian doctor hologram and in the case of stealing Borg technology.
Ben - Thu, Aug 9, 2012 - 7:10pm (USA Central)
"these flashbacks allege that Starfleet knew about the Borg years before they could have"

No, Starfleet didn't know about the Borg at the time the Hansens were studying them. However, given the events of First Contact, it is reasonable to assume that there were rumors of the Borg. So the Hansens set out to find them. But there were no official reports of the Borg until "Q Who". That was Starfleet's real first discovery of them. The Hansens never sent any information back to Starfleet because they were brought to the Delta Quadrant and crashed on a planet.
Grumpy - Tue, Aug 21, 2012 - 4:47pm (USA Central)
Continuity was thrown away with Generations. Or did nobody ask a single El Aurian refugee what happened to their planet? I'd wager Braga was to blame for that blunder originally.
Chris - Sat, Oct 20, 2012 - 3:27pm (USA Central)
@ Grumpy...well actually it goes all the way back to Q-Who? When Guinan revealed her familiarity with the Borg, you'd think Picard would have replied "and you didn't tell us about such a malevolent and dangerous adversary because...?"
Donkeylips - Tue, Dec 4, 2012 - 9:28am (USA Central)
Ugh Lee....Ugh Lee! Any Salute Your Shorts fans out there notice that Seven's dad was played my the one and only Counselor Kevin "Ugh" Lee? 5 stars for that reason alone!
Latex Zebra - Sat, Dec 29, 2012 - 4:32am (USA Central)
Well great entertainment but again an insult to viewers intelligence.
DS9 may have gone against Trekian philosophy but it treated the viewers like adults.
Voyager may have stuck with Trek ideals (when it suited them) but treated viewers like kids.

I'd still rate this as 4 stars, it's the Voyager movie that never went to cinema, great production values and FX. JUst leave your brain at the door.

Nic - Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - 8:47am (USA Central)
I think this is about the point where the Borg stopped being scary and unbeatable and became just another race of Hard-Headed Aliens that could be easily defeated by Our Heroes. If we use the logic of BOBW, the Hanses' entire research should have been completely useless because the Borg now have that knowledge as well. It just takes them way too long to figure it out. It's not just a matter of continuity, it's a matter of keeping us on the edge of our seats. Still, I can't say I wasn't entertained.
Jonathan Baron - Thu, Jun 13, 2013 - 10:41am (USA Central)
So now we have a love triangle - or Two Suitors for Seven. The Borg queen's come-on was much more erotic so I guess they had to kill her off. Janeway beats the dominatrix and has to content herself with simply having the obsessive object of her desire be the only woman on the ship to prance around in a cat suit to stare at longingly watching her "regenerate."

Were this Showtime or HBO it could have been overt and far more interesting :)
Jo Jo Meastro - Mon, Jun 17, 2013 - 8:45am (USA Central)
It worked well as a big action spectacle event and the very solid characterisation meant we had plenty of emotional pay-offs to soothe over the cracks of the actual plot. It wasn't exactly deep but it was very satisfying and it made me care whilst in the heat of the impressive set pieces, so I'd consider it a success.

3 stars seems about right. I'd even be tempted to nudge it up to 3 and a half if the mechanics of the plot were a little less wobbly.
Jo Jo Meastro - Mon, Jun 17, 2013 - 8:56am (USA Central)
One other thing, I finally figuired out what 7s' facial implants remind me of! The one around her eyebrow looks like a metal dolphin and the one by the corner of her jaw is like a little star fish....I can't be the only one to see that!

Oh and while I'm at it I'll mention that I still dislike Niomi (sp?) Wilman, I hate Star Trek Ginius Sickly Sweet Children...but I have to be honest and say I'm not a big fan of kids in general, especially in sci-fi.
skadoo - Wed, Jul 10, 2013 - 10:32pm (USA Central)
I just couldn't get past the plot holes, irresponsible Hansens and wonky Borg reasons to really enjoy this.
azcats - Tue, Aug 6, 2013 - 1:42pm (USA Central)
some reason, a lot of people get caught up in "continuity." many fans of star trek just like the stories. who cares if he hansens over lap with what happened in TNG? most people wouldnt even know or care? how does what happened in TNG have any impact on how i watch this episode? i thought it was a good way to explain what the Hansens were really doing.

I enjoyed the story. i enjoyed the graphics.

what i am surprised is no one mentioned how they are good enough to install the coil, but it only lasts x number of light years and it is worthless? good thing they dont have that problem with the warp drive. lol.

any story is going to have a problem. we all know that the borg have millions of ships and billions of drones. the borg could send 10,000 ships to earth and destroy it..but it would be too convenient..right?
Grumpy - Tue, Aug 6, 2013 - 5:29pm (USA Central)
azcats... Personally, I believe any story is better if it obeys the rules of its fictional world, including canonical continuity. However, as you say, "any story is going to have a problem." It's a question worth thinking about -- or overthinking, as in this dialogue (with spoilers for some recent movies):

www.overthinkingit.com/2013/07/29/genre-pieces-and-the-rules/
Paul - Wed, Aug 7, 2013 - 10:10am (USA Central)
@azcats: The problem with this episode isn't that it's a LITTLE inconsistent with established Trek history. It's that it completely blows it out of the water.

In previous episodes about Seven's parents, it's implied (or at least can be implied) that they were explorers who discovered the Borg before anyone in the Federation did. In this episode, Seven's father basically says their plan (which was approved by the Federation) was to go look for the Borg on the outset of the mission -- which makes no sense, given established Trek history.

Assuming Seven is about 20 when Voyager rescues her, the episode flashbacks would have occurred in 2354-58 or thereabouts. That's about a full decade before the Borg (apparently) attacked the Federation and Romulan outposts along the neutral zone. In 'Q Who?', which occurs in 2365, the only person with any previous knowledge of the Borg was Guinan.

So, unless the El Aurians or someone else ONLY tipped off a few scientists -- and not the Federation generally -- it's implausible that Seven's parents would know as much about the Borg as they do before their mission. Someone on the Enterprise (Picard? Data?) would have known about some rumored race of mindless drones in 'Q Who'.

As with much of Voyager, the inconsistency wasn't necessary to advance the plot or make the story better. All they had to do was advance the storyline a few years -- maybe to 2365-66? -- and make Seven an older child on the Raven when they encountered (and first heard of) the Borg. Or, with the time parameters of this episode, Seven's dad could have said they were going to find a race with incredible destructive power, thought to originate in the Delta Quadrant.

It's even possible that the events of 'First Contact' (and later 'Regeneration') could have somewhat increased the Federation's knowledge of the Borg. But naming the race and providing as much detail as Seven's parents had in the 2350s just makes little sense. Archer et. al, never got a name for the Borg.

And, to the predictable counterpoint, yes, the new movies reset the timeline. But that was clearly established in the movie's dialog and plot. There's no indication that the Voyager writers were that clever -- they just rewrote established Trek history somewhat unnecessarily for this episode. The existence of the Hanson diaries -- which, presumably, Voyager had in its database before 'Caretaker' -- is another F you to Trek cannon.
Nancy - Wed, Aug 7, 2013 - 8:29pm (USA Central)
The best sci-fi has interior logic and continuity. Deviations should be minimal or they become a distraction.

That's what happened here. The episode was entertaining on many levels, but as a huge TNG fan, I could not ignore their complete disregard for the establishment of the Borg. That wasn't a minimal change. That was HUGE.

The worst part is that it could so easily have been averted with a little effort and explanation. Paul came up with one that would have worked (see above). I am forced to conclude that the writers simply didn't care enough to bother; I consider that a weakness. It's one that you can choose to overlook, but it is a weakness nonetheless.
Lt. Yarko - Fri, Aug 9, 2013 - 1:57pm (USA Central)
It really bugged how people kept dissing the Borg with Seven standing right around them. That was a total show tone disconnect. The crew of the Voyager is supposed to be evolved beyond that kind of childish behavior no matter how much they might dislike an enemy. Evolved sensibilities tell us that our enemy are still people even if they want to destroy us. The crew and even the captain of the Voyager were acting terribly hawkish, and that really turned me (and Seven) off. I feel like it was done simply to quickly give Seven more reason to want to leave the ship and was not at all how anyone had been acting prior to the opening of this episode.

I thought the Borg Queen idea was just plain stupid. It was stupid in the movie and it was still stupid in this episode. The Borg are supposed to be a single huge enemy comprised of multiple unremarkable units. That made them scary because there was no one small person you could try to reason with. It would be like trying to talk to a water molecule to get a wave to stop crashing on the beach. Having a slinky, evil queen boss makes the Borg look no different than a dumb Bond villain with his senselessly evil organization. And, what is the point of having a head and shoulders that disconnects from the rest of the body? So stupid.
Tom - Sat, Aug 31, 2013 - 4:36pm (USA Central)
The Borg would have assimilated the Hansen's cloak technology, which makes this a pretty glaring plot hole.
scram - Sat, Oct 19, 2013 - 5:25pm (USA Central)
@Tom just because you know how something works doesn't mean you know how to counteract it. See: H-bombs.
Nick - Mon, Nov 11, 2013 - 9:29am (USA Central)
The Borg were much more menacing when they were a true 'collective', minus the inclusion of a Borg Queen. After all, the borg are terrifying because there is no weak link in their command structure, if one falls, another takes its place. They are a seamless entity, consuming whole civilizations to add to their own 'perfection'--- utterly horrifying to any species that treasures their autonomy and individuality. However, the crusade of the Borg to attain perfection through assimilation of all knowledge in the universe remains highly alluring, as long as one ignores the methods employed.

As an action adventure shoot'em up, this episode was OK. I found it rather perpostrous so many high level command figures were in the delta flier. Would Picard endanger himself in such a way, leaving the Enterprises to fend for themselves while going on a suicide mission? I think not.
Caine - Fri, Nov 29, 2013 - 1:10pm (USA Central)
I was disappointed that the Hansens didn't even once stop what they were doing to look into the camera and go "Mmmmmbop!".
DLPB - Tue, Mar 11, 2014 - 4:48pm (USA Central)
What was stopping the Borg from going back on their little "deal" and assimilating everyone?

Don't the writers even think?
Bobbi - Fri, Mar 14, 2014 - 3:36am (USA Central)
Really like this episode. Great atmosphere and music. Also really bought in to the sense of inevitable dread watching the Hansen's, especially when they first locate the Borg cube. There's a great moment when the cube first shows up on their senses and the dad tries to send Annika to bed and she peeks out from around the corner and the music changes. Good stuff.
Bobbi - Fri, Mar 14, 2014 - 3:44am (USA Central)
There's also a cute scene between Janeway and Naomi in the Captain's ready room which is one of the few examples in either tv or movies of a scene depicted two female characters with one acting in a mentorship role to another. Usually the mentor role is played by a male character. Nice to see it flipped on its head for once.
Bobbi - Fri, Mar 14, 2014 - 3:47am (USA Central)
On that note, Naomi Wildman is the least annoying child character in the Trek cannon.
Maxwell Anderson - Wed, Mar 19, 2014 - 1:41am (USA Central)
I agree with DLPB. Too many of the comments here focus on the continuity errors. Continuity with TNG is a problem in this episode, however, this pales in comparison to the biggest problem with this episode, which is the Borg's inability to combat Janeway's away teams. It just doesn't make sense that they would be so vulnerable to attack. It makes sense on TNG that they don't consider them a threat when they beam over and look around with their Type 1 phasers in their holsters, but when Janeway sends multiple teams over at once, with Type 3 phasers drawn and Harry Kim planting bombs, they should be responding aggressively. Instead they just carry on with their everyday maintenance.

And why oh why do they not assimilate Seven and Janeway at the end? The queen spends an eternity talking about how Voyager is inferior and they will be defeated, but they are just standing around doing nothing, for ages. It just doesn't make sense.

And why does Janeway have to only blast one node for the Borg to lose their ability to keep shields? The writers do not take basic story logic into account, and the result is a depiction of the Borg as inept idiots.

I could buy a story where they kidnap Seven and try to convince her to stay with the Borg as an individual, for the reasons Joseph B states, and also perhaps because they are trying to win the "hearts and minds" of humans as a way of validating their way of life, which could be quite interesting. But the writers fail to explore this idea at all, instead having the Borg queen try to force Seven to think like a drone even though they refuse to assimilate her. This basic illogic hurt the credibility of the story immeasurably.
R. - Sun, Mar 23, 2014 - 11:40pm (USA Central)
Only a population of 300,000?

I guess Species 10026 was having a reproductive crisis that week!
ryan - Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - 2:12am (USA Central)
children episodes are so much better if you're a parent
I can think of all those TNG serials which I found annoying but then rewatching them 20 years later the emotional response (like the Hansen flashbacks)were disarming

nerds can only agree upon one thing:that there should be more episodes
Ric - Wed, Apr 23, 2014 - 12:40am (USA Central)
Certainly a lot of holes. Some really big, like changing the continuity, as Jammer has correctly pointed out. I was a harsh critic of how DS9 changed a lot of things Trek's universe. Now that Voyager does the same (although in less philosophically profound and consequential ways), I will not be blind. It was a major hole that only once again shows the lazy writing regarding the plot initial motors. It is a recurrent problem in Voyager and here is put to the limit, just showing a "don't care" disrespect with basic Trek established history.

That said, what a wonderful episode for Seven! How Jammer can find more action-based than deep in development, it is beyond me. This episode highlighted many of Seven's inner issues and created a lot of potential for lasting consequences to her (which, after seeing the few next episodes, I think is confirmed). It means, it was a huge character development in many parts.

Overall, a really strong episode that, as usual, is built over a ridiculous plot hole. 8.5 ou of 10 from me.
Corey - Thu, Jun 12, 2014 - 2:05pm (USA Central)
A very good episode, with action, thrills and wonderful little character bits woven together.
Edax - Thu, Oct 9, 2014 - 10:08pm (USA Central)
I'll buy that the Queen would want Seven back. One thing that I thought gave the Borg a lot of character is that they would expend a lot of resources trying to reclaim former drones, as if they themselves regarded them as lost children. It continued to reinforce the idea that the Borg truly believe that they're doing the best thing for you by assimilating you, bringing you close to perfection. And if you lose your way, they'll move heaven and earth to make sure you can find your way back into the Collective.
Charles - Sun, Nov 9, 2014 - 10:10am (USA Central)
I really liked that episode, small continuity errors aside. I really like the idea that the Hansens were actively chasing the Borgs - it explains why they would end up being assimilated and in the delta quadrant all of places.

This being said, i hate the Borg Queen - here on in the movies. I thought that was a really weak move on the part of the writers. THAT is what made the Borg look weak, not Voyager. They were scary because they were a collective with drones which had lost all sense of individuality. Speaking to one was speaking to all. That's what made them so alien. The minute one was able to say "they're like..." (insects, a hive, whatever) their alienness was ruined.

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