Star Trek: Voyager
"Scorpion, Part I"
Air date: 5/21/1997
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by David Livingston
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"But halfway across the river, the scorpion stung him. As the poison filled his veins, the fox turned to the scorpion and said, 'Why did you do that? Now you'll drown too.' 'I couldn't help it,' said the scorpion. 'It's my nature.'" — Chakotay's fable to Janeway, a fitting allegory on the Borg
Nutshell: It's not perfect, but I do believe the word "excellent" applies nicely. This is primarily spectacle taken to the extreme—and most of it works very well—but there's also an interesting issue in here.
And so Voyager's third season comes to an end on a very good note—not with a whimper like first season or with an implausible, untimely thread like last year—but with an enthusiastic bang. It's about time.
"Scorpion, Part I" is a very large, ambitious spectacle of an episode, and one could argue that this show happened because it had to happen—because the Delta Quadrant has remained so nondescript for so long now. But even though this show highlights just how long overdue something fresh in the Delta Quadrant has been in coming, there's an old saying that seems to apply here: better late than never.
The episode sets the tone with an effective opening shot (slightly marred only by the "TV-PG" in the corner of the screen). Two Borg cubes travel through space speaking the usual Borg rhetoric: "Resistance is futile," they say. Suddenly an energy beam lashes out and swiftly destroys both cubes. Apparently, resistance is not futile.
About this time, the Voyager crew, warping through space in the usual direction toward the Alpha Quadrant, discovers that the probe they had sent ahead has stopped transmitting. The last thing the probe sent back was an image of a Borg deactivating it. The meaning is clear: Voyager is approaching Borg space. And Borg space is huge. There's no going around it. It's either go through or go back. Going back means giving up all hope of getting home without the aid of an unconventional method.
Fortunately, the crew finds a section of Borg space devoid of Borg activity, which they nickname the "northwest passage." Traveling through it would be a rough ride, but, as Paris says, it's better to ride the rapids than to face the hive. Janeway and the crew prepare for the possibility of Borg encounters in the dangerous travel ahead.
If there's one thing that an imminent Borg encounter can do on a Star Trek episode, it's that it can create a believable sense of urgency. In a sensible scene, Chakotay leads a staff meeting that shows everybody doing a particular job that works toward the common goal of preparing for the worst.
The Doctor's job is the most interesting aspect of the preparations. His analysis of the Borg corpse (discovered in "Blood Fever") yields some interesting results. I especially liked the explanation of the Borg injection tubules (established in First Contact). These tubules, the first step in the Borg assimilation process, inject cancerous, microscopic, automated drones into the bloodstream, taking over the cell functions of a victim. Neat.
Another moment that works well is a discussion between Janeway and Chakotay (one of several effective exchanges of dialog) concerning how Voyager is supposed to survive the Borg on its own. In the past, Starfleet has always faced the Borg in forces—and been notably pulverized all the same. But Voyager is alone, and there's no fleet in the Delta Quadrant to back it up. One starship is hardly a match for billions of Borg, and I'm glad that Braga and Menosky's script acknowledged the fact.
The preparation for a Borg encounter is cut short when "Scorpion's" plot takes off. And once the show takes off, it never looks back. By the end of the first act the Voyager crew gets a glimpse of fleeting Borg, as 15 Borg vessels come from behind Voyager and pass it by—too hurried to threaten the crew with assimilation. The sight of 15 Borg ships coming up from behind Voyager is chilling (Chakotay quietly murmuring "My God" sets the tone nicely). And Jay Chattaway's score is quite good—atypically thematic and foreboding.
So the question for the crew is: just what were the Borg running from? Later, upon cruising through Borg wreckage (in a setting that echoes the graveyard of Starfleet ships from "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II"), the crew realizes that these 15 ships have been destroyed. The urgent question then becomes: just who or what could destroy 15 Borg vessels? Are they friend or foe?
Don't make me laugh by suggesting "friend."
The crew investigates and finds that aside from the Borg weapon signatures, there is evidence of a weapon of unknown origin. Chakotay, Tuvok, and Kim beam over to a damaged Borg ship, which is attached to an alien ship that is simply "impervious" to Voyager technology.
The visit to the Borg vessel is a technical triumph of set design, lighting, and directing. Voyager's production design team deserves high praise for this one. And David Livingston, who directed this episode, delivers yet again—highlighting that he is perhaps the best regular director currently in the Trek business. Pretty much all of "Scorpion I" sports the production quality and aesthetics of a feature film, but the interiors of the Borg ship and the organic designs of the unknown alien ship are noteworthy standouts that demand attention.
The improved sets for the Borg ship are dark and tight, which accentuates the claustrophobic, foreboding situation. While more atmospheric, the new look remains consistent with the Borg-like look and feel of the old sets. Livingston builds the suspense very well, far outdoing the failed Alien-like aesthetics that were attempted in "Macrocosm." Particularly jarring is the grotesque design formed by a pile of Borg bodies and body parts placed by the unknown aliens in the middle of a corridor—creepy, but cool. I also liked the humorous idea of a Borg drone hopelessly trying to "assimilate" the wall of the alien's biological ship. Kim's dry response: "Doesn't look like he's having much luck."
Inevitably, the alien comes looking for the Voyager away team who is tampering with its ship. It attacks Ensign Kim, just before he and the away team beam out of danger.
Okay, now some words on the new badass aliens, known by the Borg database only as "Species 8472." I like them. They're neat. They're different. They communicate with telepathy. And, for once on Trek, they're not the standard humanoids we've come to expect. They're much more alien. The CGI design of the new lifeform is ambitious. (Some have commented that the look of the alien is a rip-off of Babylon 5's Shadows. For the record, I very rarely watch Babylon 5, and I've never actually seen the Shadows, so I therefore cannot make the comparison. From a purely Voyager standpoint, the design works. Species 8472 is a fresh change of pace.)
Species 8472 has some very deadly weapons (to put it mildly), and the prospect of going hand-to-hand with these bad boys is nearly as frightening as facing their technology. Just ask Harry Kim. His encounter with the alien leaves him with a superficial wound, but a resulting cancer of alien cells invades his body and infects every life system, literally eating him alive from the inside out. The writers' notion of forcing Harry to endure the most gruesome and agonizing of possible deaths at the hands of Species 8472 is extreme at the very least, but it works. It's an easy way of making the aliens more fearsome and downright "bad." The idea that the aliens are the most densely coded lifeforms Doc has ever encountered is also interesting—over 100 times the DNA of humans—and the alien cells are impervious to treatment.
Still, although Species 8472 may be neat, they certainly aren't that deep. While the simplicity of their intentions and the vagueness of their motives make them more intimidating, faceless, and silent adversaries, there still isn't an awful lot of meat underneath an "evil" entity bent on simply "destroying everything." And their catchphrase, "The weak will perish," is not nearly as chilling or original as "Resistance is futile." I'll say it now: The Borg will never be displaced as Star Trek's best race of villains—and certainly not by 8472. The new aliens may be a lot more powerful, but that doesn't make them more interesting. In any case, I have a feeling we'll get a better feel for them in the second half of the two-parter. I certainly hope so; I'm not relinquishing my optimism after this episode's display of enthusiasm.
Anyway, Doc's proposal for curing Harry's infection is one of the more clever elements of the story. He proposes to modify the Borg automated cell-assimilators to disguise themselves as alien cells so they can sneak in and destroy the alien cancer—stealth style. As sci-fi medical procedures go, this concept may simultaneously be both the lightest on technobabble and slyest with logic that Voyager has supplied all season. This is smart writing.
In fact, this is where the episode really turns interesting. Since the Borg learn by assimilating knowledge from other species (whereas the Voyager crew learns by investigating), the Borg don't know the solution to the problem that has prevented their assimilation of Species 8472. And Voyager now has what may be the secret to 8472's downfall. Since the northwest passage turns out to be the passage where the 8472 aliens are entering Borg space—a very good reason why the Borg don't travel through it—Janeway's dilemma emerges again. Voyager will certainly be destroyed if they get in the middle of this war. But turning around means giving up.
The episode's best scene is the long dialog where Janeway and Chakotay clash with differing opinions concerning the captain's decision to literally make a deal with the devil. Janeway's plan is to give the Borg Doc's theory, which may allow them to develop a weapon capable of assimilating or destroying Species 8472. In exchange, Janeway will demand safe passage through Borg space.
This debate is wonderfully written and skillfully acted, featuring the kind of tough questions and issues that typify DS9. For example, just how can the Voyager crew trust the Borg to keep its end of the bargain and go against "nature," as Chakotay demonstrates in his well-placed fable? Also, is helping the Borg—a race of conquerors guilty of murdering and assimilating billions—to assimilate yet another species something even worth Voyager's safety? But then again, if the Voyager turns back and lets Species 8472 and the Borg fight to the end, there's the distinct possibility that 8472 will be seeking new prey in the Delta Quadrant a year down the road—and then what? The thought isn't pretty.
Woven into the heart of the matter is Janeway's problem of doing what's necessary to get the crew home, as well as the analysis of the trust between Janeway and Chakotay. Janeway is hurt when Chakotay doesn't support her decision, but what good is Chakotay to her if he isn't honest? The issue of Janeway's inability to "step back," as Chakotay remarks, is certainly relevant, and one has to wonder what it means when considering that her actions could influence the very fate of the Delta Quadrant. These questions bring up more interesting questions, which is a winner in my book on just about any day. The controversy has two easily arguable sides with dangers on each, and that's precisely what makes it so interesting—and what makes "Scorpion I" transcend its action premise.
Nevertheless, action is a big part of what makes "Scorpion I" work, and the show is full of nifty special effects. If there's one place that Voyager has improved by leaps and bounds over last season, it's in the visual effects department. Foundation Imaging's CGI effects are expertly done—allowing the creation of images that would otherwise be impossible or far too expensive, but also keep the look and feel of the effects consistent with the standard motion photography that has been standard on Trek for years.
As Janeway makes her proposal to the Borg on one of their cubes, they're suddenly attacked by the aliens. The cliffhanger features a final shot that is absolutely exhilarating and unprecedented in scale—the destruction of an entire Borg planet at the hands of the aliens. The show scores high on technique for the pure spectacle of the idea, no matter how far to the extreme "planet destroyers" pushes the Trekkian envelope.
I'll admit that I like seeing large objects (particularly Borg cubes and planets) getting blowed up real good. But this story works for many reasons besides its impressive visuals—mostly for the Janeway/Chakotay interaction and the willingness to be daring in execution.
But it's how the episode ties in with the big picture that really wins me over. Despite the show's minor flaws, there are some reasons that I still opted to give "Scorpion, Part I" four stars:
1. This episode made the Delta Quadrant a fresh, interesting place again. I have long felt the Delta Quadrant has been boring emptiness featuring nothing interesting. This episode erased that feeling very nicely (and hopefully not temporarily.)
2. This episode intelligently dealt with the theme of the Starship Voyager being alone and stranded—a major theme of the series that has virtually disappeared this season—and wrapped the action together with the issue of Janeway's dilemma.
3. This episode had a riveting argument between Janeway and Chakotay that looked directly at the nature of the Borg "beast." And not only were the ethical considerations brought to the table, but they were brought to the table wisely, keeping in mind the urgency of the danger.
4. This episode, unlike "Basics," managed to be a cliffhanger that was about something. It made me interested in seeing how things will play out concerning Janeway's deal with the devil. The way things are set up, I can't see a resolution to this story without some interesting plot twists involving the Borg.
"Scorpion I" isn't perfect. It does tend to rely on big spectacle a bit more than compelling drama really should. Also, the overlong scenes featuring the charismatic John Rhys-Davies as the holographic Leonardo Da Vinci didn't hit home the way they seemed to want to. But "Scorpion, Part I" is an hour of very energetic sci-fi-oriented Star Trek: Voyager, and I hope that part two keeps things on track. Even if it takes sensationally large-scaled drama to get Voyager back into form, I won't complain if the producers can do it with this much panache.
Previous episode: Worst Case Scenario
Next episode: Scorpion, Part II
End-of-season article: Third Season Recap
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69 comments on this post
Mon, Dec 8, 2008, 2:24pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 31, 2009, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
I like the Scorpion episodes but it seems to me that Captain Janeway has missed an opportunity here.
Of course the writers can't allow this to happen but the opportunity wasn't even explored.
If the Borg had discounted the possibility that would have been something, but Janeway never even thinking of it makes her seem narrow minded. A relection of the writers maybe?
Tue, Apr 28, 2009, 8:43am (UTC -5)
Sat, May 2, 2009, 10:15am (UTC -5)
1) That takes a lot of ego to be so confident in a transport procedure (as far as I can tell from the dialog) that has never been used in the history of transporter technology. How do you even do something like that?
2) By locking on to the minerals, wouldn't those be the only things being transported? She's not even locking on to their skeletons!
I know, it's all nitpicking. But this time, I just happened to notice that scene and it got me thinking. Which most VOY episodes don't do, outside of "This series could have been so much better than it wound up being."
However, this probably does stand as the best episode (even without Part 2 ['cause I've never been a big fan of Seven of Nine]) VOY ever made. Although my favorite 2 part VOY episode is "Year of Hell" from S4.
Thanks for letting me share.
Tue, Jul 14, 2009, 7:54pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 29, 2010, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 3, 2010, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
- Couldn't Voyager have used a transwarp conduit? Seems it wouldn't have taken that long using those.
and the biggest issue:
- If the Voyager crew was so sure they'd have to cross vast stretches of Borg space to get home, would they REALLY have tried to get home at all? Think about it. The odds of getting home would be slim even in safe space, and it would take decades (in fact it DID take decades in the original, unaltered timeline.) On top of that, you're passing through enemy space with thousands of enemy ships, any one of which could potentially destroy you. Suicidal much?
Tue, Jan 11, 2011, 8:10am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 3, 2011, 2:17am (UTC -5)
I think there's a difference between the lock and the actual transport. The lock is just the way of finding what is being transported.
Thu, Dec 1, 2011, 8:24am (UTC -5)
"I want you to transfer all of the research [the nanoprobe modifications] into your holomatrix. You're my guarantee. If the Borg threaten us in any way - we'll simply erase your program."
If Torres or one of the others had come up with the technology, would she have so calmly said something along the lines of: "Lieutenant, keep this technology to yourself. Don't discuss it with anyone. If the Borg try to assimilate us, I'll simply kill you" ... ?
Sat, Jan 21, 2012, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 9, 2012, 6:00am (UTC -5)
Still, Scorpion is about as good as the series ever got. Not worthy of four stars though, In my opinion no Voyager episode is anything more than 3 star material.
Thu, Apr 5, 2012, 10:31am (UTC -5)
To those invoking the Prime Directive: The Borg do not have any kind of recognizable government or social order. They are hell bent on assimilating the entire galaxy. Species 8472 (at this point) is threatening basically the same thing. Therefore, the Prime Directive does not apply in either case. Arm torpedoes.
Re the "Skeletal Lock" - OK, it didn't detract from the show for me all that much, but it really bugged the hell out of me all the same. Here we have yet another inane Voyager technobabble plot contrivance.
Bio-electric interference got you down? Well here's an idea: take it out of the freaking script! Or at the very least, make it less of a problem. A few extra lines of technobabble-induced tension made no difference in the story's outcome. VOY was indeed the worst offender when it came to this stuff. I feel really bad for Roxann Dawson who was the unfortunate actor that had to memorize 90% of this shit and spew it at the camera. A waste of her terrific acting talent.
Here's how that scene should have gone:
JANEWAY: Voyager to Away Team.
CHAKOTAY: Go ahead.
JANEWAY: Stand by for transport. We're getting you out of there.
CHAKOTAY: Good idea.
TORRES: I can't get a lock on them.
JANEWAY: What's the problem?
TORRES: It looks like bio-electric interference from whatever's coming toward them.
CHAKOTAY: It's within seven meters. Let's get out of here!
JANEWAY: Narrow the confinement beam.
CHAKOTAY: The lifeform's five meters away and closing.
KIM: From where?
TORRES: I've got them.
PARIS: Captain, the bio-ship is powering up, like it's charging some kind of weapon.
JANEWAY: Mister Paris, get us out of here. Maximum warp!
Instead we got:
JANEWAY: Narrow the confinement beam.
TORRES THE HALF-KLINGON SAVANT: No effect. I'm going to try a skeletal lock.
TORRES THE HALF-KLINGON SAVANT: I think I can get a clean lock on the minerals in their bone tissue. I just came up with it, but I think it might work.
CHAKOTAY: The lifeform's five meters away and closing.
KIM: From where?
TORRES THE HALF-KLINGON SAVANT: I've got them.
JANEWAY: A skeletal lock, huh? We'll have to add that one to the Transporter manual.
Yeah, I'm sure they did just that.
Sun, Jun 17, 2012, 4:48pm (UTC -5)
I swear, the backlash against 'technobabble' has gotten way out of control. These are scientists; they should be talking science type stuff that we don't understand. The fact that we can't understand it makes it more realistic, not less. Technobabble is only bad when it gets to be too much and replaces all other methods of solving the plot, but in moderate amounts it makes the 24th Century seem more authentic and certainly as your comparative examples demonstrate it did not interfere with any enjoyment in this case as it was barely a hiccup in a standard scene.
Wed, Jul 18, 2012, 10:25am (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 13, 2012, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 27, 2012, 7:06am (UTC -5)
Basically she corrupts all the values of the Federation for the sake of her crew getting home. At least when Sisko got his hands dirty it was for the safety of the entire Quadrant.
Don't get me wrong though, I love this episode, both parts and personally I like seeing a bit of darkness on Trek (see what I did there) now and then. 4/4 easily.
Sat, Jan 26, 2013, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
Spoilers, mostly for Star Trek Online -
Otherwise known as the Undine, and able to take on any form, changeling style! So it is known a little later in STO, when the Klingons are a little baffled at just what Starfleet *did* to piss these creatures off so much. Now you shall know.
Tue, Feb 12, 2013, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
For example, when Wesley Crusher inadvertently breaks the law on that seemingly-idyllic world where everyone jogs a lot, it is a violation of the Prime Directive to beam the kid out of their jail and leave. The Directive requires that members of Starfleet adhere to local law. And since the locals want Wesley to stand trial, the Enterprise has to let him. (Instead, Picard violates the Prime Directive. Cause the Edo's God tells him it's ok to. Huh?)
Picard won't even help the Square Pegs actor who played Kirk's son and the reject from Dexys Midnight Runners get off drugs safely, because even REVEALING to them that they're on drugs is a violation of the Prime Directive. In that case, it was interfering in the "natural" interrelationship that had developed between the drug dealing culture and the addict culture.
On Voyager, the Prime Directive doesn't really last past the first season or two. And even then, it seems to only come up when it's convenient. For example, on the planet with the smarmy, slicked hair dude who only loves new, exciting things and doesn't want to blip Voyager home, Janeway specifically says that they can't just steal the technology and use it without the smarmy guy's consent. That would be a violation of the Prime Directive; in that case, using technology that hasn't been freely shared with them. And that's VOYAGER gaining SUPERIOR technology, not the other way around.
As for Justin's comments about the Borg not having a government or social order...I might agree with you on the first point. But not on the second. The Borg have a hyper-organized social order. Just because it's not centered on individuation and self-determination doesn't mean it's not a society. And Species OU812 (I'm bad with names) certainly has a society. An organized enough one that they're winning a war with the Borg, for goodness sakes. For Voyager to intervene on either side's behalf, when they are not already intrinsically involved and are not being asked for help*, is to attempt to insert themselves into the "natural" progression of these two species.
(*"Asking for help" seems slippery in Prime Directive terms. Data, it seems, can apparently help Sarjenka once she explicitly asks for help. But Picard can't step in and help the druggies even though they're asking for help. Maybe cause they're not asking for the right help? Or maybe you can only help someone if there is only one player involved, and you're not inherently choosing sides?)
As for the Borg and Species 8675309 being hell bent on destruction: even if that is true, it's moot. Voyager is in no direct danger. They can choose to avoid the conflict. And at this point, we know nothing about Species 25 Or 6 To 4. They might be really nice, and just defending themselves against a Borg attack.
But anyway, Prime Directive aside, Janeway knows enough about the nano-probe thing that the Borg could just assimilate her and not have to bargain at all. Or they could, you know, read the mind of the telepathic medical assistant. Oh wait-- they already did. What, Kes knew NOTHING about the nano-probes? Lazy writing.
Fri, May 17, 2013, 11:58pm (UTC -5)
Tue, May 28, 2013, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
In the first place, the nonhuman groups of beings we see in Star Trek -- Vulcan, Cardassian, Klingon, Species 90210 -- are not other races; they're other species. In the second place, and on that premise, the Borg are not a species (or a race). As I understand it, there are no "native" Borg -- they've all been assimilated from other species.
Sat, Jun 15, 2013, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 9:24am (UTC -5)
@Kristen - Thank you. I am Always trying to explain to people that the prime directive is multifaceted and not just about hiding from pre warp cultures. As you described, it is a multi-faceted directive about interference with other civilizations sovereignty. I think the issue in "Sumbiosis" was that they could help the Ornarans since they asked for it (if there had been an actual plague for Crusher to cure), but couldn't reveal the Brekkan's deception because it would disrupt the Brekkan's non-federation social order. Admittedly a fine line but those hard calls are why Picards the captain. I also like to use "The Hunted" as an example as it well describes how much the federation will interfere with all its discussions of "Internal security matters."
Sat, Mar 1, 2014, 8:59am (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 9:19am (UTC -5)
It's a good episode, but I had to overlook the irrationality of even considering going through Borg space. Go around, even if it takes an additional 40 years. You're already going to be gone 70 years, and you're hoping to find a shortcut. You could find a short cut on the 110 year path as readily on the 70 year path.
It makes sense that the Borg aren't good at investigating. The Borg must control thought tightly in order to control the collective. Allowing drones to have their own ideas could allow ideas of freedom to spread through the collective. That probably is why the Borg are so interested in humans. They desire that creativity even as they fear it. They may well hope to assimilate that creativity in a way that they can control.
An agreement with the Borg isn't easy, the Borg deal with force rather than diplomacy. It is really a weakness, because planets have no choice but to resist even if it is futile. Imagine if the Borg were more cunning, and played off one planet against another. Or they could "harvest" planets - don't assimilate them all, just a percentage. Then they could come back in a decade and do it again, and assimilate new technology. Negotiating for use of a Transwarp hub would be a good thing, but the Borg would never keep their word. With this agreement, the Borg will of course betray them, but will not do so today.
Fri, Apr 11, 2014, 9:50am (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 14, 2014, 6:19am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 4:17am (UTC -5)
I really never found any flaw with this episode. Even with Janeway's decision to make a deal with the Borg. After all, if the crew went in search of a new home it would only be a matter of time before the Undine got to them after they were done with the Borg. It's also a decision that has consequences bigger than the crew itself.
Very compelling installment thematically, dramatically, and visually. A classic in every sense of the word.
Sun, Nov 2, 2014, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 26, 2015, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Chakotay was right when he said she was so hellbent on getting home that even the almost insurmountable odds of surviving the ordeal they are faced with does not make her step back is ludicrous.
She was so determined to achieve that one goal that she wouldn't even listen to Chakotay, despite him making very good points as to why they shouldn't go through with it.
One example: When Janeway explains her plan to the crew, she calls the Doctor and his technology her ace in the hole, telling him if the Borg don't take her bait, she'll delete his program. I don't know if you've noticed, but the Doctor's face was one of utter shock and disbelief. Would she dismiss B'elanna or Tuvok just as easily if they had been the ones to come up with her ace in the hole?
Nobody even stopped to consider how ruthless this was? I know the show has a tight schedule to keep and they can't possibly dwell on every little slight that a character may or may not cause through their actions, but still...
Wed, Jul 29, 2015, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
Can't wait to watch this one again!
Sun, Aug 9, 2015, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Sep 9, 2015, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
This episode was just riveting, suspenseful, thoughtful, exciting... it had it all.
I have no problem with Janeway's decision here because now the Borg know Voyager is in the DQ and they would be easy pickins... I don't see Chakotay's option as a survivable one.
Right up there with Distant Origin as an epic Voyager episode.
Easy 4 stars here!
Mon, Sep 21, 2015, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Jan 29, 2016, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Has there ever been a finer Trek image than those first Borg cubes smashed by an unknown assailant, the 15 Borg cubes rushing past Voyager to intercept, and then the wreckage of those 15? Species 8472 is alien enough to be interesting, the damage to Kim disturbing, the idea of a deal with the Borg riveting, and the conversation between Janeway and Chakotay nails all the key beats. The VFX are spectacular too - the final shot of the cube running with Voyager in tow is glorious. It just ticks every box imaginable. 4 stars.
Sun, Feb 21, 2016, 12:01am (UTC -5)
Still a great episode though.
Tue, Feb 23, 2016, 2:45am (UTC -5)
As for the Prime Directive.. it is always a mess and not something Trek ever handled very well. It seemed to be applied very randomly depending on what was needed for a particular episode.
Here she wants to travel though thousands of systems that used to be civilizations and were assimilated by the Borg, so she is willing to give the Borg the power to defeat an enemy and continue slaughtering more civilizations. Amazing stuff.
In saying all that; if you put aside the appalling ethics, this is a pretty awesome episode on it's own.
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 6:38am (UTC -5)
If he actually disagrees, and has reason to disagree, he's, like Jammer said, supposed to tell her. It's part of his job. But I bet it's exactly how Janeway would've felt at the time. She is bitter and upset about her judgment being fundamentally questioned by someone so close to her, so loyal to her, after she conjures up something that really she thinks is brilliant chess and above all else, something she instinctively believes is their ticket. It's just a lousy situation for everyone, her being professionally and ethically challenged by a confidant, him being made to feel like he abandoned his captain and friend in a way, even though he absolutely did not, in any way. That one little moment spelled out the tone of the entire personal conflict perfectly.
Sat, Aug 6, 2016, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
Both parts = one of my favorite VOY episodes. Not in the same league as Best of Both Worlds by any stretch of the imagination, but still very good.
Wed, Aug 24, 2016, 4:43am (UTC -5)
Janeway is an idiot who puts her selfish desires ahead of the safety of her crew.
Wed, Nov 2, 2016, 8:23am (UTC -5)
Wed, Nov 2, 2016, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 17, 2016, 4:06pm (UTC -5)
As an intro, this episode served Voyager well, I'd have preferred Ensign Kim to actually die off (gives viewers a bit more stake and hatred for the new villain to kill a core cast member).
The planet killer, "cough" Babylon 5 "cough", was a good piece of imagery to demonstrate the power of these new aliens.
Mon, Jan 16, 2017, 7:02pm (UTC -5)
That being said, I do think the Borg have been utilized in more interesting ways on Voyager than on TNG and even First Contact so far. The idea that Borg drones can recover their individuality, as Chakotay discovered in Unity one season before this one, and the idea in Scorpion that desperation might drive them to negotiate adds some layers to their character. They are less one-note in Voyager so far, opening up some new possible stories.
The key to a great villain, for me, is motive. Sure, the Borg have a scary goal in assimilation, but their motive never develops. For my money, the genetically engineered Khan will always be Trek's greatest villain, as his villain's desire to rule the universe is shaded by his revenge motives and enhanced intellect. And Montalban is just fantastic -- I'll take a real thespian doing Moby Dick on Star Trek any day over someone in a rubber Halloween slasher costume. I also like the Klingons better than the Borg: Cold War villains for sure, but they really developed over time into an intriguing fictional culture.
Fri, Mar 10, 2017, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
Mon, May 1, 2017, 11:09am (UTC -5)
There are numerous examples of bad writing and poor science here, such as the idea that more DNA = more sophisticated/smarter. It doesn't work that way, folks. Dogs have a comparable number of base pairs to humans, and also have far more chromosomes. The flower, Paris japonica, has 50 times more DNA than we do.
Who do they hire as a science consultant for these shows? Or do they just not care?
Mon, May 1, 2017, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
They did not care. Braga and Berman were the forerunners of the J.J. Abrams school of producing, where keeping the action and pace going is paramount, detail doesn't matter, and as long as it looks slick the audience will eat it up.
Mon, May 1, 2017, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
I do feel VOY needed a good action episode with a threatening alien. The introduction to Borg space already adds a great dimension to VOY. Really can't go wrong with the Borg who are the best villains in Star Trek.
Many reasons to love this episode: the vibrant and sensible discussions between Janeway/Chakotay -- especially the last one about Janeway's plan where both had logical arguments. This was well planned out and written.
The medi-babble worked well for me. The idea of a solution to share with the Borg, negotiating with the Borg (deal with the devil) is a very interesting idea as is the medi-babble that represents the solution against 8472.
Plenty of interesting action scenes as Jammer describes -- always chilling when humans go aboard a Borg cube. The musical score was excellent as well. Seeing the Borg cubes blast past Voyager and then seeing them destroyed, seeing the Borg planet destroyed -- plenty of over the top stuff that isn't just for show -- it works with the context of the plot. Also Kes's premonitions were alarming -- seeing the mass of Borg -- all to make 8472 quite the formidable, scary new threat. That much all worked in this one.
Only 2 minor nitpicks that comes to mind -- like many others I think it's ridiculous about locking onto the bone minerals or whatever they did to transport them back. The stuff with Janeway/Da Vinci -- too much time spent on that just to give Janeway the idea to make a deal with the Borg.
For me, yes a VOY episode can get 4 stars. This one deserves it for sure. Really look forward to Part II, though I have to expect the Borg to not fulfill their word as per Chakotay's excellent scorpion analogy.
Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 5:47am (UTC -5)
She knew almost nothing about Species 8472 apart from some stray telepathic transmissions Kes picked up that, for all we know, could have been coming from 8472 jarheads or religious fanatics. She had zero idea even how the war started. Yet she was willing to help the Borg (a race who just a couple days before she was describing as "evil") assimilate them?
Hey Janeway, what happens when the Borg get planet killers on top of their existing arsenal?
This is the most unambiguously wrong choice a starfleet captain has ever made in a Trek series to date.
Holy Prime Directive Captain.
Fri, Jun 30, 2017, 6:48am (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 9, 2017, 1:35am (UTC -5)
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
After an AWFUL third season and the underwhelming Borg episode "Unity" I was finally looking FOREWARD to a VOY episode. I had hoped Scorpion would have done for VOY what The Best of Both Workds did for TNG. Unfortunately wasn't to be the case but that doesn't take anything away from this episode
It and Caretaker in my opinion are the best Episodes of Voyager
I'm glad the producers decided to jettison the planned season finale and went with this. Years later I learned that Unity was to be it as far as Borg stories on VOY but thankfully Brannon disagreed and thanks to the line image of dead Borg springing to life we got Scorpion
As to be expected from a Brannon Braga script we get all details incorporated. Here with the crew entering finally Borg space it made great deal sense for crew to make preparations and I loved the mention that they were stockpiling food, prepping their weapons systems(from TNG Borg encounters with rotating modulation), sending out a probe ahead of them and the Doctor working on essentially a Borg vaccine--which although not said explicitly in this episode could have possibly been achieved with some experimenting on 8472 cells so that would maintain ability to wipe out nanoprobes without killing the patient. When Janeway habds that over to the Borg with thenanoprobe modifications that was lost
The teaser was perfect capturing what the episode was going to center around.
The crew's first encounter with the Borg via the Armada was exciting. I was invested in seeing the crew's reactions to first entering Borg space and second to discovering that the Borg were in a conflict with a race more powerful than the Collective. Harry's reaction that this someone might be able to be an ally was reasonable at first blush.
The away team boarding the damaged cube was edge of seat stuff--seeing damaged Borh, seeing them unflinched--despite having just been devastated--continuing with their duties and directives
The bio ship was nicely done as far as interior production
Kim being attacked by the alien was good. I was hoping it would pave the way for his exit from the series--being a uselessly annoying character--at the same time adding some jeopardy and weight to the episode events
The da Vinci scenes felt like padding and halted the episode momentum I was sooooo ready to get back to the other proceedings. And the other issue that nagged a bit at me was the change in Borg to where they aren't capable of investigating or studying something and adapting--instead it was tweaked here that Borg only know what they assimilate which works here for this particularly story both fitting with the theme of human ingenuity via the da Vinci plot and for giving Voyager a bargaining chip but it still rankles but I could eventually get over it. And along similiar lines, while in THIS episode The recent idea thanks to FIRST CONTACT of Borg assimilation utilizing nanoprobes works, ultimately in long run not a fan. Much preferred the surgical assimilation from TNG series
The Borg were thankfully back to being a Collective mind with no emotional femme fatale standard villainess queen.
The episode was terrifying. All sides of the debate were thankfully dramatized on screen rather than offscreen the way so many of today's programs unfortunately do--from idea of how long Borg would keep up the deal to Janeway's counterargument that being in a bind may allow Borg be open to this when other under circumstances they wouldn't to idea once 8472 gets done annihilating the Borg they would turn to purging all other life including the Federation and not wanting to pass on this opportunity to stop the aliens while safely moving through Borg space and having the Collective protect Voyager from 8472
And the back n forth didn't end there. Lots of good stuff on the cube once Janeway aboard with her give and take with the Collective--once again both sides making sensible realistic arguments from janeway acknowledging were she to habd over her data there'd be nothing stopping Borg assimilating the crew but then the Borg point out that by time they crossed Borg territory Species 8472 might have defeated the Borg etc etc
The epic assault on the Borg planet was thrilling. Oh and back to Vrannon's wonderful little details--Janeway telling Paris set course for nearest Borg vessel--they shouldn't be difficult to find----well of course They're in Borg space Borg will be everywhere and makes sense there would also be entire Borg planets and colonies
Fri, Aug 11, 2017, 8:58pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 19, 2017, 11:44pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 6:20am (UTC -5)
I agree with Chakotay, they should have just turned around and found a different way home. What Janeway decided was essentially insane. Of course it worked out in the end, because you know, plot, but to even consider it was irrational. There was about a 99% chance that they would all die, either from the Borg or 8472. Not to mention Kes' visions which were all pretty accurate, and which they usually respect as true, who says that they are all going to die. Worst captain ever.
Mon, Jul 9, 2018, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
Really, though I don't quite think it deserves four stars, this an almost Lazarus like performance from the Voyager team, after such a horrid clutch of episodes from mid season. The Borg would eventually be neutered by this series, but for now they're still effective, there's a new villain on the block, and the stage is set for the resurgent season 4, before VOY gets turned into the Seven of Nine Show featuring The Doctor.
And... I'm calling this an unofficial record, because I'm going to try to stop counting, but in this episode (largely in the first half) we get...
Some type of protective shielding
Some sort of premonitions
Some kind of subspace turbulence
Some kind of starfleet protocol
Some sort of bio-readings
A warp propulsion system of some kind
A ship of some kind
Some kind of a weapon
Some sort of parallel universe
and Harry gets 'transformed in some way'
Wed, Sep 12, 2018, 10:05pm (UTC -5)
When Voyager is firing on all cylinders it's the best of the best.
Compelling, vibrant, original, well acted by all.
The Leonardo stuff just flowed right in . . . and the loneliness of the Delta quadrant pervades the episode in an effective way, paired with Janeway's own loneliness.
Sat, Dec 1, 2018, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
Sun, May 17, 2020, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jul 12, 2020, 2:28am (UTC -5)
Knowing the Borg—- and Starfleet/Janeway do—- the logical assumption is the Borg started the war with 8472... and this it later found to be the truth!
I shudder to think of the reputation Voyager left behind in the Delta Quadrant. I would expect it so bad that most of quietly created an anti-Federation alliance.
Sun, Jul 12, 2020, 9:38am (UTC -5)
And then there's Janeway who picks up a few garbled messages via a 6 year old telepath and suddenly it's Hee Ha let's help the Borg blow them up / assimilate them. How convenient it gets you home in the process Janeway. How convenient.
I'd accuse the writers of betraying these values by arbitrarily making 8472 every bit the genocidal maniacs Kes made them out to be, except that Chacotay figures out what's up almost immediately. He's 100% right. And yet..... there is no consequence to any of this. They just move on. It's like Sisko poisoning a planet all over again, except multiplied by about 1,000.
Poor Arcturis. That guy wasn't nearly angry enough. He should have arrested Janeway, slipstreamed to earth and testified at Janeway's court martial. Then gotten her assimilated.
Tue, May 11, 2021, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
>I shudder to think of the reputation Voyager left behind in the Delta Quadrant. I would expect it so bad that most of quietly created an anti-Federation alliance.
Watch the Voyager episode “Living Witness”, it shows a future Delta Quadrant species who think voyager was a warship.
@15:30 Janeway orders the ship towards the defeated Borg ships at only warp 2, why so slow? I look past this issue in early TOS because the show was still finding it's footing but this is Voyager.
Chakotay points out that they would be helping the Borg assimilate another species just so Voyager can get home which he finds morally wrong. I thought that was a really good point. Is this Janeway's equivalent of Sisko poisoning a planet or deceptively dragging the Romulans in to the Dominion war?
Seven says she was assimilated 18 years ago. I thought the Federation hadn't met the Borg that long ago?
Over all score: 8/10.
Fri, Apr 8, 2022, 10:14pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 2, 2023, 6:04am (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 2, 2023, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
On TV perhaps, but not if you count the movies. Picard and Riker did some Klingon and Romulan swearing on TNG, not to mention the Klingons and Romulans themselves, but we we have no idea what those swears were. Data did give us a full frontal "oh shit" in Generations.
Thu, Feb 2, 2023, 8:06pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 7, 2023, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
Interesting. I see it in the transcripts of "The Last Outpost" and "Elementary, Dear Data." It never registered in my brain in either of those cases.
Sat, Apr 22, 2023, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
This illustrates what I wish they had done with species 8472. Rather than just make them broadly hostile and malevolent, it would have been more interesting to keep their characterization vague. Make their hostility at least possibly due to they’re being so alien that they simply don’t see any meaningful difference between voyager and the Borg. All they see is weird bipedal, technologically dependent creatures, much the way we might just see two hornets buzzing around.
That would have given a stronger basis for janeway’s dilemma, because she’d have to entertain the possibility that species 8472 is the injured party and might have motivations beyond just the simple “I WILL KILL YOU!”. I mean, if you have to choose between the devil and the super devil, the choice is pretty easy.
Also, it’s a missed opportunity to have them come from another dimension. Have them come from a system orbiting Sagittarius A* at the center of the galaxy or some such crazy environment. Another dimension just feels lazy to me.
Otherwise, this is pretty outstanding Trek. Definitely the best voyager has offered so far.
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