Star Trek: Voyager


2 stars

Air date: 2/16/2000
Teleplay by Michael Taylor
Story by Andrew Shepard Price & Mark Gaberman
Directed by Allison Liddi

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Negotiation is irrelevant. You will be assimilated."
"Not today and not by you."

— The Borg and Janeway

(Note: This episode was re-rated from 2.5 to 2 stars when the season recap was written.)

Nutshell: There's groundwork here for some potentially intriguing future material, but the episode itself is lackluster.

In "Collective," we're introduced to a small group of young Borg. They're the sole survivors of a Borg cube that suffered a catastrophe, and now the five of them are running this massive cube-shaped spaceship. Frankly, they're not up to the job. When it comes to being Borg, these kids need practice.

Enter the Delta Flyer, which is manned by the team of Chakotay, Paris, Kim, and Neelix (after "Memorial" and now this installment, one wonders if this is the new official crew of the Delta Flyer). We join them as—apparently trying to be more like the TNG crew—they are engaged in a game of poker, which is interrupted by the sudden appearance of said Borg cube, much to the dismay of Ensign Paris, who had a full house. (The shot that reveals the cube is nicely played for its mild shock value but logically dubious; one wonders why the ability of the Borg to sneak up within visual range of a ship isn't something we've seen before. What we have here is a scene for spurring an argument about cinematic ends vs. means, but never mind.)

The Delta Flyer is captured in a tractor beam and the crew members are thrown into a cell for use as ... hostages? Since when do the Borg take hostages? We'll see in a moment, but first some chit-chat.

It's an episode like "Collective" that has me hoping, hoping, hoping that the producers of Voyager are looking well beyond the end of the hour at hand. If you take the hour for what we've got, let's just say it's not the most compelling hour of all time.

For starters, I have to ask: Have the Borg as story devices been exhausted? I remember the awe of first seeing them in TNG's "Q-Who" all those years ago, and the terror of seeing them again in "The Best of Both Worlds." Over the past few years of Voyager, that awe has been replaced with a sense of nearly clockwork annual routine. The Borg were still interesting, but our fear that they might assimilate us was hardly a factor anymore. Instead the question was how the Borg would figure into a story about the nature of human individuality, particularly once Seven of Nine came on board. In spirit, she was our weekly Borg representative.

"Dark Frontier" last year was essentially the final word in Borg as action/adventure devices—one of the best-produced (but not best-told) Trek episodes of all time. Given that they were no longer the awesome terror of the galaxy they once seemed to be, "Dark Frontier" was acceptable use of the Borg, but by pulling out all the stops it also served as an implied resignation that perhaps the Borg were ready for retirement. An idea can only go so far before it becomes tired.

"Collective" appears to be an attempt to tell a "different" kind of Borg tale: Since we can no longer plausibly battle the Borg, we'll instead negotiate with adolescent drones—whose behavior resembles your average adolescent human more than your average Borg. When Voyager comes looking for their missing team, they find the Borg cube, but because there are only five drones—severed from the hive mind—who haven't a clue how to run a Borg ship, Voyager is able to swiftly stalemate the confrontation.

We learn that the five children—or "neo-natal drones," as the story sometimes calls them—had emerged prematurely from their "maturation chambers" after the shipwide catastrophe, a cybernetic-targeting pathogen that infected the ship and killed all the drones. The maturation chambers protected the children from being infected.

Now the juvenile drones demand that Voyager surrender its navigational deflector. They hope to modify it so they can contact the Borg and be reintegrated into the collective. If Janeway turns over the deflector, the Borg will release their hostages.

One oddity with "Collective" is its somewhat inaccurate title. These five Borg do not seem to comprise a collective. At first they do, but then they don't. They seem more like individuals who answer to a willingly established hierarchy. They don't act much like Borg. The leader of the five, the "First" (Ryan Spahn), represents the story's primary source of conflict: He's a drone who follows the Borg protocols and intends to rejoin the collective. It would seem the other four drones are less mature, and thus don't hold strong Borg-like opinions; they follow the First simply because he's the First.

But it seems these "drones" are capable of free, independent thought, and that provides a source of confusion at times, because it's hard to determine how exactly the story envisions these Borg. They're "different," which is supposed to be part of the point, I think. But they also talk among themselves like any individuals might. There's often no sense that they're connected, and something about it just doesn't sit right. In order to continue using the Borg, it seems the writers have to make them progressively less like Borg, and more human.

Naturally, the story involves heavy focus on Seven of Nine (be sure to join the online petition for renaming this series Star Trek: Seven of Ninevisit this page) who beams over to the Borg ship to confirm the well-being of the prisoners and negotiate with the drones. The core of the story emerges when Seven discovers that the Borg collective will not be dispatching a ship to retrieve this cube, which has been deemed a total loss. To the Borg, five neo-natal drones are not worth salvaging (which strikes me as perhaps the most believable Borg sentiment in the episode).

The central dilemma is (of course) a human one: Janeway proposes that the drones be "saved" if at all possible. Sure, there's some plotting along the way, including (a) Doc reluctantly re-synthesizing the pathogen that killed the Borg ship, for possible use as a weapon against the drones should negotiations fail; and (b) Harry Kim regaining consciousness aboard the docked Delta Flyer unbeknownst to the Borg, and his eventual venture through the cube in an attempt to blow up a shield generator so Voyager can beam out the prisoners. But if you want to know what the episode is about, it's the dynamic between Seven and the drones as she tries to negotiate with a leader who has one, and only one, goal—to rejoin the collective. Along the way, she comes close to connecting with one of the other drones, the Second (Manu Intiraymi), who seems to have traces of his pre-assimilated individual self somewhere beneath the surface.

Alas, these dynamics aren't on par with the potential. I expected more. The episode is too content to resign itself to standard negotiation-standoff "tension" dialog and predictable chatter. Although representing an inflexible attitude that seems to fit the Borg, the First is not a very interesting character. And with all due respect to the actors portraying the Borg, they just don't measure up. Here, one can very easily see Ryan's mastery of her character and the perfect vocal control; she is able to convey the masked emotion and Borg-like monotone without seeming forced, and there are subtle nuances that blend right into her performance. The same cannot be said for the other Borg players. They always seem to be "acting," and not convincingly (especially Spahn as the First).

What plays better are some sincere scenes between Janeway and Seven. The idea of utilizing Seven's insights to bring these Borg to some sort of new understanding of their situation is something that makes sense—after all, Seven experienced the process of being de-Borgified first-hand. The show's best-written scene reveals that the mental structure that the collective gave Seven when it assimilated her is an ordered structure that has also been a source of strength in regaining her individuality. It's a sense of order the Borg children, who were not fully developed before emerging from their maturation chambers, do not have. Seven worries that the transition for them will be even more difficult than hers. Between Seven, this installment, and "Survival Instinct," there ought to be some sort of therapy program for ex-Borg.

The final act of "Collective" is a muddle that doesn't work. It's as if the writers couldn't figure out an adequate way to resolve the story. The ending here is one of those tech wrap-ups where we have Janeway and Torres aboard Voyager throwing around meaningless technobabble dialog in a desperate last-minute search for a way to rescue the hostages before Voyager is severely damaged. Meanwhile, the final conflict on the Borg ship is poorly staged. Moments of tension feel misplayed by the actors and director, and the fact that the First is killed as a result of his inability to go against his Borg directives is a story point that doesn't come across as particularly important, though I get the feeling it was meant to be. Oh, and we've got Harry Kim lying critically ill, injected with nanoprobes, for no particularly necessary reason (beyond keeping him a peripheral aspect of the plot, which itself seems unnecessary).

And after the crisis ends, my lingering question was: What happened to the Borg cube? It apparently didn't self-destruct, so did Janeway just leave all that technology floating in space? In "Dark Frontier" the crew shaved 15 years off the trip by using Borg technology. Shouldn't this cube be a major cache of tech foodstuffs? But never mind.

That brings us to the story's coda, which simultaneously gives me great hope and worry. Four of the five drones (as well as a Borg infant that is beamed aboard the ship) are rescued and turned back into individuals. This screams for future storylines. We have four youths whose source for identification will be Seven of Nine. The pupil will now become the teacher. This could make for challenging material, a source of growth in the series. Then again, it could also make for redundancy if not handled carefully. After all, we've been down this road with Seven for almost three seasons now.

Though it's too early to say, the final scene already has me voicing one gripe: According to what the story told us earlier, these children are supposed to be disturbed—more so than Seven (who in "The Gift" was violent and unstable after being severed from the Borg). But they don't seem disturbed at all to me. They seem to be handling it way too okay.

But bringing aboard more Borg—and younger people—reveals a potential for the sort of community-building that this series should've focused on from day one. The key word is potential. Will it be used? (Of course, the worst-case scenario would be never hearing about these Borg again. That would be unforgivable, and probably unlikely, but not unthinkable given Voyager's track record. We haven't, for example, heard one single peep about those Equinox crew members that joined Voyager at the beginning of the season.)

Bottom line for "Collective": The general theme here that examines drones hanging with uncertain self-identities was done in fifth season's "Drone" (and to a lesser extent in this season's "Survival Instinct")—and I assure you it was done with much greater insight. "Collective" is reasonable, but it probably works best as stage setting. Now let's just hope the players actually decide to show up.

Next week: Return to Fair Haven. Just what we all wanted.

Previous episode: Tsunkatse
Next episode: Spirit Folk

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76 comments on this post

Tue, Aug 26, 2008, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
Spot-on review. Run-of-the-mill Borg themes that we've already seen several times. Making the Borg children doesn't change that. Medicore at best acting from the Borgs (Naomi Wildman (the actress) never looked so talented, not to mention Jeri Ryan). Abrupt ending that solves all the loose ends; killing First, potentially a major loose end, is narratively quite cheap. Two stars is generous.
Fri, Jul 9, 2010, 11:02am (UTC -6)

Forty-five minutes of toing and froing when all that was necessary would have been to put the hoodlum Borg across the knee and give them a good spanking.

Janeway holding a baby Borg in her arms. What the hell is this show coming to...

MINUS two stars.
Fri, Dec 10, 2010, 9:25pm (UTC -6)
I actualy thought the episode was very god, cause I was reay in doubt over the conclusion, and the Borg kids were very scary, and them wanting to rerurn to the collective maade them seem very inocent, but killing first felt very crel, I would have like it more if he was taken prisoner, and more forcefully deasimliated like Seven, onnes was and too see the others Drones react to this, I also foud Seven`s order rant to be a giant kick in the head.
Mon, Mar 7, 2011, 12:58pm (UTC -6)
Bratty Borg? Yeesh.

Almost as bad as the bratty ball of light from TNG's excruciating "Imaginary Friend".
Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 5:45pm (UTC -6)
Argh, don't remind me of that awful TNG episode!

Yeah nothing special really. I'm glad Janeway didn't turn to murder on this occasion.

The thing that annoys me about the episode is it's one of those that pretends Voyager has an ongoing story, which aside from extreme exceptions like Seven or the overall voyage home (which itself seems to go back and forward) it certainly doesn't. Now I'll admit, I haven't seen the rest of the series yet and haven't read about it but my opinion at this stage is that anyone who thinks we'll even hear about the Borg Children ever again is kidding themselves. Which is a highly unfortunate aspect of Voyager.
Sun, Mar 27, 2011, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
Forgot to say, the moment they spotted the Borg cube lurking there was priceless. From Tom's face to the panicked rush towards the controls (reminds me of about Series 6 of Red Dwarf in the Starbug) - classic. Best moment of the episode by some distance.
Tue, Mar 29, 2011, 9:22pm (UTC -6)
Yep, loved that scene. Trying to fanwank it away, we could hypothesise that since the cube was damaged, it wasn't emitting the Mysterion Waves that the sensor is adjusted to pick up, so they only came on it visually. Maybe.

Also, this ep. featured a great Badass Janeway moment. She cradles a tiny Borg baby in her arms, then orders the Doctor to ready a pathogen to destroy Borg.

But oh that "First" was the worst bunch of teen angst cliches ever.
Wed, Aug 3, 2011, 10:56pm (UTC -6)
I just watched this episode and perhaps I missed a piece of the dialogue but why the BORG just abandoned one of its ships?
Tue, Aug 30, 2011, 4:21am (UTC -6)
Voyager really did kinda ruin the Borg, didn't it?

I rewatched TNG recently and, up until Descent at least, the Borg were truly something special - and were actually genuinely scary (still to this day Q Who and Best of Both Worlds convey their terror and danger immensely well). The Voyager writers just didn't have the skill to maintain that. With every episode, the Borg became less frightening and even less Borg-like (now they're just like regular people in cyborg costumes, completely gone is that sense of alienness). The Borg are now little more interesting than the other 'great' races Voyager gave us, the Kazon, the Hirogen, the Malon.

The idea of a ship of Borg children maybe seemed like a different twist on the old Borg themes, but we've seen all this before and the fact they are children further blunts the Borg's impact. This episode isn't scary, it isn't tense, it certainly isn't original or groundbreaking and it isn't even particularly entertaining to be honest. We've seen the whole thing of drones becoming individuals umpteen times and the plan to release a disease or pathogen on the Borg and the moral implications thereof are directly lifted from "I Borg". This one just didn't hold my interest. Worst Borg episode yet. And what's with the lighting on Borg ships now - why all the LIME GREEN? actually looks a bit hokey.
Sat, Sep 17, 2011, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
Well, Voyager was between a rock and a hard palce on the Borg. Being set in the Delta Quadrant, where it had already been established the Borg come from, it was inevitable that eventually they'd run into them. But Voyager vs. the Borg as presented on TNG would make for a short series.
Wed, Mar 14, 2012, 11:12pm (UTC -6)
The cube itself seems to be a 9 cubic kilometer plot hole. Yes, I can see the Collective not wanting to bother with 5 damaged "imperfect" drones... but what about that ship? Especially after 8472 (or the Undine, as Star Trek Online named them) laid waste a large portion of their fleet not too long ago, you'd think they'd want it back.

Then again, Janeway apparently didn't want it or any tech from it either. A giant (literally and figuratively) technological gold mine! But, meh, who needs that? We're not trying to get home *this* week, we're doing a Borgling episode. Maybe we'll grab the next Cube handed to us on a silver platter, we're too busy now. The writers gave it no more thought than a cardboard set prop, not even considering the implications. I feel insulted on that ship's behalf. It got less respect than Rodney Dangerfield.

Story-wise, I suppose it would be considered nitpicking, but from the characters' point of view... wow! Their metaphorical ticket home just hovering there, and Janeway ignores it without a thought and moves on. Even after 6 years you'd think the former Maquis, at least, would be willing to gang up and lynch her for that one.

Maybe Seven was right about The Voyager Conspiracy, and Janeway is staying in the Delta Quadrant on purpose after all? *Twilight Zone Music*
Thu, Jun 7, 2012, 3:33pm (UTC -6)
There are a lot of complaints about the Captain NOT stripping the Borg do you know she didnt ? The story moved to the Borglets and Seven, as it should have...
Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 1:17am (UTC -6)
I was largely bored during this episode. The shot of the 'Borg hanger bay' was pretty rad, though.
Tue, Aug 28, 2012, 2:46am (UTC -6)
What ever happend to the Borg infant that Seven transported to the ship and the Doctor saved?
Take it easy
Thu, Jan 3, 2013, 1:52am (UTC -6)
I am surprised with 5 borg children, they were not able to rescue the hostages.
Sun, Jan 13, 2013, 8:49pm (UTC -6)
I can't believe that the Borg would keep "assimilation profiles" with the individuals names and such that Seven could "salvage". Why would the Borg bother retaining such information?
Mon, Aug 12, 2013, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
I liked this episode more than most. I found the kids and their botched assimilation very scary.

Jammer complains that they don't act like a collective despite their claim to be one, but that's the point. They are trying to act like a collective because it's all they know, but they are no longer linked by the Borg and so they aren't truly one. They are in denial. Presumably the episode title is ironic.

I thought it was odd, however, that Harry's trip though the Borg cube brought up bad memories.... Of a haunted house. I would've thought he might have instead been reminded of the time he went traipsing through a Borg ship and almost got eaten alive by a species 8675309 virus. Looks like he came away the worse for wear here, too, but that card trail idea was so asinine he deserved to get caught.
Thu, Aug 15, 2013, 12:08pm (UTC -6)
i thought this episode reminded me of when Seven was disconnected with the 3 other borg on the planet..and she panicked and forced them into the collective.

very much like this borg drone.

interesting episode, but not my favorite.

2 stars
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 4:38am (UTC -6)
Here is where Voyager started going downhill.

Not really - it always sucked.
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 6:50pm (UTC -6)
Conventional wisdom is that Voyager's suckitude wasn't evident until Season 2, specifically Janeway's speech at the end of "Alliances." There were good & bad episodes before, but that's when the warning flags were raised.
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 7:49pm (UTC -6)
That's bad news for me, then. I finished Season 1 and rather liked it. It's quite depressing to know that things only get worse.
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 8:25pm (UTC -6)
Hi Trent:

Why don't you watch the rest of Voyager and develop your own opinion on Voyager?
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 8:38pm (UTC -6)
I will. Im starting s2 now. I like going in with low expectations.
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 7:47am (UTC -6)
Naughty Trent, reading reviews before you've watched the episodes! :-)

Voyager has its ups and downs--I think what most people find objectionable is their constant use of the "reset button" where pretty much nothing that happens in any one episode has later consequences. Certain storylines, like this one, screamed for more development. (and strangely enough. . . maybe the writers were listening to fans a bit by this point?)

I just wanted to comment that I don't hate this episode. I actually got a bit emotional when Seven tucked her charges into "bed."
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 10:13am (UTC -6)
Good advice, G.O.. Furthermore, I try not to comment on reviews of episodes I haven't seen. And I try to confine comments to the review at hand. Well, I haven't seen "Collective" and my earlier comment was more about "Alliances" anyway. But to complete the thought... the "conventional wisdom" I mentioned is mainly conveyed by the Agony Booth recap of "Threshold":

Regarding "Alliances," "...the ship merrily cruised off into the status quo. In retrospect, that was probably the moment the Trek franchise died.... Because that speech was the signal that from here on out, no chances would ever be taken with the franchise."
Tue, Mar 4, 2014, 7:01am (UTC -6)
To those wondering about Borg infant. She ran off to be an actress. She guest stared as a boy in Friendship One :D
Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 5:57pm (UTC -6)
How many Borgs does it take to be a collective? I was kind of hoping for a Children of the corn, Lord of the flies theme being Borg and such but no. Beating a dead horse with a stick seems to be a recurring theme. It's like the writers don't even make the effort. Every other series utilized the classics and contemporary literature for source material.
Voyager is just falling flat in this ep, agree about Red Dwarf being better. I always enjoyed Borg episodes, but this devalues the Borg so much into redundancy that we have to see Janeway holding a baby, trying to decide on using a Pathogen? No wonder why I have forgotten a lot of Voyager but can remember akl the other shows.
Sun, Mar 30, 2014, 6:48pm (UTC -6)
You mean those 2 times eddington channels Hugo? or when Garak tries to skewer Julius Caesar? or how about that quotation of Hamlet Picard makes to Q sans irony that everyone except me hates? or that time Archer...oh wait...

With the exception of the original series, the Treks' use of classic literature was pretty limited. Voyager has utilised Dante, the bible, Beowolf, Spencer, not to mention da Vinci, Verdi, Puccini and others, so the claim that it ignored the classics is just nonsense.

Voyager was more like the original series than any of the other modern Treks. If you want to criticise it for, in this way, being conservative, that's fine, but to consider it an outlier is provably false.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 11:24am (UTC -6)
@Elliott: It's true. Voyager, more so than TNG, DS9 or ENT, was fairly similar to TOS. Frankly, the series that is the most significant outlier is DS9.

But that's not really a bad thing. Voyager's biggest flaw was the reset button, but it's second biggest flaw was that it wasn't all that original/it didn't take advantage of its premise. True, there were characters who were new and different (Seven, the Doctor) but the stories certainly weren't that different than what could have been told without a divided crew and if the ship had been in the Alpha Quadrant.
Sat, May 17, 2014, 10:08pm (UTC -6)
Ok, enough is enough. This episode is a monument to how much Voyager, although have gave us the superb character that Seven is, was at the same time so much capable of completely messing up the way Borg were portrayed.

This episode was a terrible idea all along and one more step of Voyager in making Borg... forgettable. The Borg-kids-on-the-block were shameful, bad acted, never looked like Borg nor even for a second, not to mention how much out-of-character they were written in what Borgs are concerned. Also, the pseudo-conflict of "should we kill the kids or not?" felt artificial, predictable, not truthful for a minute.

Two stars was a very generous gift from Jammer's part. Maybe a gift to the hilarious scene when the Defiant crew gets a hell of a scary with the Borg cube.
Thu, Sep 25, 2014, 12:09am (UTC -6)
I'm surprised at the number of comments regarding Janeway's failure to utilize the cube. Either the NetFlix version that I saw had some extra footage, or a lot of people here simply weren't paying attention.

Voyager is sending shockwaves back along the tractor beam. At first this just has the effect of weakening/lowering the cube's shields. But then one of the borg kids says that the latest shockwave has overloaded the (tech tech). At that point,
Thu, Sep 25, 2014, 12:12am (UTC -6)
... Seven clearly says that the cube is going to be destroyed. Just because they didn't have the budget to show the big 'splosion, doesn't mean it didn't happen. The dialogue makes it clear.
Thu, Sep 25, 2014, 12:16am (UTC -6)
Not sure why this site cuts off the latter half of these posts but anyhoo...

On another note, I thought the actress that played the little girl borg nailed it when she says, "Your weapon won't work here..." (head tilt) "...dampening field."

That was CREEPY. I don't know why (cough cuz it's not DS9, cough cough) Jammer's picking on the guest actors in this one.
Thu, Sep 25, 2014, 8:41am (UTC -6)
Speaking only for myself, as someone who is often really hard on VOY for a lot of reasons.... I see very little to complain about with this episode.

I thought especially Mezoti and Icheb were very well acted (especially for kids) and although people like to rag about the eventually lost Borg infant (it either died off screen or they found it's people.... you don't even have to fanwank this one) this episode adds a continuing storyline in the form of guest characters we'll actually see again, the bizarre thing with a virus randomly taking out a cube is actually going to be explained in a later episode (actual setup here!), and the kids let a character who is not really ready for romance explore a different kind of close relationship (specifically parenting). The only thing wrong with this storyline is that Mezoti eventually left, I really liked her as well.
Thu, Sep 25, 2014, 8:43am (UTC -6)
In short we've just added some character development, setup for a future plotline (that we'll actually follow through on), and some guest cast. The only thing wrong with this is that VOY didn't do anything like this sooner.

3.5 stars (4 stars are reserved for "classics")
Wouter Verhelst
Sat, Dec 13, 2014, 10:09am (UTC -6)
"Four of the five drones (as well as a Borg infant that is beamed aboard the ship)"

I just rewatched this episode for the first time in a long time, and realized that this infant is never heard from again. The doctor saved its life, so it's still on the ship, but it is never so much as mentioned in any future episode. Presumably, when Mezoti, Azan and Rebi leave the ship some time later, the infant leaves as well, but it would've been nice to see some follow-up on that part of this story. Ah well...
Thu, Apr 9, 2015, 4:21pm (UTC -6)
Good episode. A lot better than the WWF disaster, which IMO was the weakest episode so far. 3 stars from me. However, with great actors like Dawson, Russ and Beltran at hand, I'll never get why Voyager turned into a Picardo/Ryan solo play.
Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 8:04pm (UTC -6)
Icheb: 'Icheb. My name was was Icheb.'
Seven: 'Your name IS Icheb.'

Yea, and your name is Annika, but I don't see you using that either. Don't be a hypocrit, Seven.

Just a little thing that popped out at me when I saw it. Anyway, the episode wasn't really much to look at. I couldn't help but think: they are 5 children, running a ship meant to be run by thousands. At this point in time, Voyager probably knows more about dealing with the Borg then any other Starfleet vessel. Should be a piece of cake for them to take out a damaged vessel run by 5 deborgified children. Just shoot them enough to cripple them, beam your crew out of there and tell The First to go **** himself. It's really as simple as that.

But I guess we wouldn't have much of an episode, if they did that. And I suppose it wouldn't be too Starfleet of them, either. Although I think they'd understand. When you run into Borg, a shoot first, ask questions later policy is generally the way to go. Mediocre episode. Kind of a snoozefest. I'd really love to see the Borg be the big scary badasses they once were, but shows like this make it hard to come back to that.
Fri, Feb 12, 2016, 10:02am (UTC -6)
I don't know about this one, I'm just not big on there being Borg "Rascals" existing in this franchise. Voyager takes yet another step in defanging the Borg, and I don't know what I'm supposed to get out of this. Children transcend boundaries of hatred? I suppose that's a good message.

As for Seven of Nine getting a lot of screen time, this is an episode where it actually makes sense that Seven would be leading an away team. She understands the Borg and can warn other red shirts before they get assimilated by accident.
Wed, Feb 24, 2016, 4:59am (UTC -6)
Two stars was a very generous gift from Jammer's part. Maybe a gift to the hilarious scene when the Defiant crew gets a hell of a scary with the Borg cube.

I know the Defiant is small but it isn't a shuttlecraft like the Delta Flyer! :)
Wed, Feb 24, 2016, 5:00am (UTC -6)
Gah, it stripped the formatting - the first sentence of the above is a quote from an earlier comment.
Mon, Feb 29, 2016, 9:23pm (UTC -6)
I agree 100% with Nathan above. Imagine coming across the cube, and suddenly dozens of ominous Borg children board voyager and try to assimilate the ship and crew. The crew are traumatized because they are forced to shoot them. Just before Janeway blows them out an airlock, or whatever plan she executes, she says another stupid one-liner like "Class dismissed".

Couldn't the baby at least have tried assimilating Janeway when she held her? Alas no....

Yoyager castrated the Borg.
Tue, Mar 1, 2016, 10:10am (UTC -6)
"she says another stupid one-liner like "Class dismissed". "

HAHAHAHAHA, dude that's funny!
I'd buy THAT for a dollar :D

Also YES Voyager made the borg overused and stupid, they should have stayed with TNG. At least DS9 has the good sense to keep them out of it and develop their own (awesome) bad guys.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 10:18am (UTC -6)
After chatty Borg we now get kiddy Borg (and baby Borg). As others have noted, way to go in defanging the Borg as an enemy. Yes, I'll happily accept that they needed to evolve to keep them interesting - but in this direction? Not for me, thanks. I think the main problem here is that there is no real feeling of threat - indeed a good spanking would seem likely to have resolved the issue.

Worth a mention for the excellent teaser intro, but it's all downhill from there. 1.5 stars.
Tue, Mar 29, 2016, 3:03pm (UTC -6)
I was never a fan of the Borg children. Plot and acting considerations aside, they're painful just to look at. I wish the Borg had done what you'd expect the Borg to do with abandoned Borg technology: destroy it lest it fall into enemy hands.
Tue, Jun 14, 2016, 10:36am (UTC -6)
I'm not as hard on this episode.

For everyone wanking about Janeway holding a child.... didn't it occur to you that she might never have children of her own?

Children "maturation chambers" were introduced in TNG, Seven was an assimilated 6 year old, I think this episode has a place in "Borg lore".

This episode brings to mind the sheer ruthlessness of the Borg. #1 they assimilate children, and #2, they don't feel they are worth their time until they've matured. No morals, no feeling.

What teeth did this episode pull?

I personally didn't want to see them leave so soon. They could have parsed their departures over a longer period of time.

Love the start of the Icheb/Seven relationship. They display screen chemistry from the get go.

This also resonates with me as a parent:

"SEVEN: Perhaps I could help them avoid some of the obstacles I've encountered."

So true.

3.5 stars.
Wed, Aug 17, 2016, 12:16am (UTC -6)
Did we really need Borg children, though? How cloying.

I used to think that Borg only bothered to assimilate healthy adults. Voyager shows them assimilating children and putting them in "maturation chambers" for years and years. This seems very inefficient. How can they need drones that badly?

Now we find kids partially assimilated and kind of not. They're mostly just acting like human kids. And there's no suggestion that they're sharing thoughts or anything. So how long does the process take?

Anyway, I think the writers were using the Borg thing as a crutch at this point. It's a shortcut to storylines. I realize the pressure to be creative means every episode can't be a great one, but I at least expect the attempt to be made.
Sat, Aug 27, 2016, 7:32pm (UTC -6)
None of the Borg children were human! Amazing!
Sun, Aug 28, 2016, 9:32pm (UTC -6)
The most annoying part of this episode for me is during the climax when First pushes Seven away from the control panel. She's badly hurt and briefly incapacitated as a result... by a Borg half her size... precisely one episode after being depicted as an epic prize fighter that beats The Rock and Hirogen Martok. *sigh*
Fri, Sep 9, 2016, 8:40am (UTC -6)
Muppet babies on a Borg ship. (*)
Sat, Oct 15, 2016, 9:43pm (UTC -6)
FYI, AA, they don't keep juvenile drones in maturation chambers for years. They mature extremely quickly, as did 'One' back in season 5. It makes sense, if they have the tech to do it, because it wouldn't take much longer (if at all longer) than the standard assimilation process.
Wed, Nov 16, 2016, 7:19am (UTC -6)
@Yanks - totally agree with everything you said.

What happened to the borg baby? Notice the gleam in Janeways eyes when the Doc told her the virus is ready? "Now we just need something to test it on..." Bwahahahaha
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 11:00am (UTC -6)
Whenever I see BORG stories now I always have to ask myself who in their right minds decided that it was a good idea to make the Delta Quadrant BORG space. Why would the BORG have a Home territory at all?
Also, I've always hated the idea of the BORG queen. She was always there but we just didn't see her plot never worked for me.
I also just hate Jeri Ryan being added to Voyager, so yes - for me the whole BORG plot has been done, by this point done to death.
I know I'm the lone Trek fan who hates First Contact and Jeri Ryan - but there it is.
Sat, Feb 4, 2017, 11:05am (UTC -6)
The continuation of Borg defanging!

What do we have so far?
Borg act stupid and 'dumbass villain' that didn't assimilate technology and knowledge put on silver platter with Raven and the Hansen/Seven parents (Dark Frontier). -- For what its worth, at least it has awesome visual effects eh --
A chitty chat ex-borg (Survival Instinct), and now..
A kiddie-infant borg!! Awwwww, thats cute, or am I suppose to be scared?
Seeing the trend, I even can predict the next (or last) defanging will be the Borg Queen before seeing that last lame final episode.

Bad premise, major plot hole, cheesie scene, and bad acting all over this episode.
The title said collective, but nothing that the borg-kiddie action even resemble collective. If anything, it seems like a hierarchy with 'One' assume the lead.

* Why the hell the borg didn't retrieve the cube, even though it only have 5 irrelevant drone, the vessel it self still in pretty good condition, surely they want to take it back
* Suppose the vessel itself not worth the trouble to retrieve, does it logical the borg will let it intact? Not initiating self-destruct and let it drift for all race to take advantadge of it?
* It's a 'Fort Knox' handed on silver platter. Voyager only dealing with crippled Borg-vessel manned by 5 adolescent borg. Surely the want to raid it again, it should be a piece of cake for this crew after they encounter on 'Dark Frontier'. Ah.. but Janeway knew that this scene is about humanizing borg-cutie, not getting home as soon as possible, so why bother to even think about it eh..
* How about just shoot to cripple them, beam your crew out of there, raid the tech, get the hell out of thereor take control of that borg vessel altogether, Seven handle the control for a long time without real threat anyway --well, the episodes will cut short to 15 minutes then--

CHEESIE /STUPID SCENE for dramatic purpose that doesn't quite work :
* Is this episodes aired on December? Why those kiddie borg have so many silly lights on the suit. They going for Christmast and making borg-chrismast-tree?
* Kim cant-get-a-lock go silly by act scared, leaving convinient trail for the kiddie borg
* Kim cant-get-a-lock thrown under the rug for not being able dealing with a 5 year old kid. Seriously, he cant overpowered a 5 year old girl by brute force? It's not like the kid holding a weapon!
* Janeway holding the baby as requested by the Doctor. Hey Doc, you can't just scan the baby while still lying in the bio-bed? Whats the need to ask the captain hold for the baby? Aaahh.. for the sake of that supposed dramatic scene Janeway carry the baby while the Doctor give the pathogen to destroy the borg. I laughed out loud seeing this obvious trite/contrived setup!
* Seven got incapacitated by a juvenille only with gentle push? I thought she's a formidable fighter capable of utilizing many martial art (Tsunkatse). Ah yes, that scene is for the benefit of Icheb take standing to the 'One'. Give me a break! HAHAHAH!!
* Four disturbed children? By the end of the scene they much look like obidient children taken from Doc-kid 'Reallife' episodes.

At least on Dark Frontier we got kewl visual effects. Nothing on this episodes.
It dont even quite entertaining, more like a bad dream or jokes that terribly gone wrong!

I give one thing though, it has some continuity, and pre-setup for later episodes.
For that alone I rated 1 star (*)
Tue, Aug 22, 2017, 4:59am (UTC -6)
Servicable, but not too inspired. Really, you could this "children brainwashed to be fanatics" plot with just about anybody. Perhaps if they brought up the fear of loneliness (as seen in I Borg or The One), that would make this more specifically a Borg story and would add more dimension to rather one-note First.

And good thing they gave a reason the Borg Cube didn't just destroy The Delta Flyer and Voyager in seconds, I was worried there for a sec. Sure hope the show will keep the dstreak going won't do somethign really stupid, right? Right?
Prince of Space
Tue, Jan 23, 2018, 9:16pm (UTC -6)
Ah yes... the episode that brings us Icheb. *groan*

Something about his goofy shirt with the big squares on it, that little piece of metal on his nose, and his terrific lack of acting ability just rubs me the wrong way.

But it’s mostly the shirt. Seems far-fetched that Ross would have stores all the way in the Delta Quadrant, but whatever.
William B
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:47pm (UTC -6)
I find this episode boring and have little to say about it; it's sort of like a low-rent Miri (already not really a classic) but with the Borg...thrown in...? Very little is done to differentiate the Borg kids from other "kids these days" stories about kids having taken over; the interesting place the episode could have maybe gone is to what a children's idea of the Borg ideology would look like, and to show a more ground-up attempt of kids to form their own collective in the absence of the larger Borg Collective, rather than the (boring) idea of one bossy one trying to push a hierarchy on the others, who mostly react by standing around. The plot takes forever, seems to be haphazard in plot and execution, dropping characters for long periods (Chakotay, Paris and Neelix not only stop doing anything partway through the episode, but are rescued 100% offscreen; Kim's wandering around the corridors ends up being a total narrative dead end without being worth the small amount of time spent on it), never giving an explanation for the deaths of all the parents on the cube, producing yet another potentially lethal Borg-killing weapon never to be mentioned again, etc. The episode seems reverse-engineered to get to the end, where some of the Borg kids are rescued, and it *does* make the episode not-pointless, but wow, it's a rough ride to get there. 1.5 stars.
Sat, Mar 31, 2018, 6:10am (UTC -6)
An immensely significant episode for Starfleet. TWO huge events:

1) A virus that can be deployed to neutralise Borg cubes
2) A neutralised Borg cube, which can be completely cannibalised for parts and THE ENTIRE technology advantage of the Borg can now be downloaded from their databases
Thu, Apr 19, 2018, 11:29pm (UTC -6)
VOY declawed the Borg -- true, but it seems to me the Borg are to VOY what the Cardassians are to DS9 -- both originated in TNG and got taken in new directions, although DS9 had better results. But the Borg have limitations on what can be done with them while retaining the mantle of best Trek villains, which gets messed up with VOY.

I like the premise of this episode although there are some holes: I don't think the Borg collective should just write off an entire cube even if the juvenile drones aren't worth keeping. The idea of some virus creating the situation of immature drones trying to sort themselves perhaps does make a mockery of the Borg, but VOY has already exhausted many avenues with the Borg. I didn't mind this idea of juvenile Borg trying to make it as a small collective with the hope of joining up with the full collective. Good teaser that grabs your attention when Paris looks out the window and sees a Borg cube right there.

Another good episode for 7 and a real potential turning point for VOY, so I like the possibilities. The biggest gripe is the child actors sucked, but this is common to all Trek series. The main Borg leader was insufferable, but if there's a lack of integrity in terms of their behavior, it can be easily attributed to their abbreviated Borg development -- so we have a very unpredictable Borg episode but one with plenty of danger as evidenced by botched assimilations.

In a way, I'm reminded of "I Borg" but this episode didn't probe enough into Janeway taking advantage of the cube or trying to destroy the greater collective -- if VOY picks up on that in a follow-up episode that would be fine, but this episode leaves a lot of loose ends/quick resolutions like 7's motherly role with the new (former Borg) kids (and what of Harry's assimilation? We know he'll be 100% by the next episode. And the Borg baby?)

Good enough for 3 stars for "Collective" -- there's a good story being told here although the execution lacks but the ideas are good (even if going to the honey hole that is the Borg and another 7-centric episode -- yes indeed Star Trek: Seven of Nine). This one could have been a 2-parter and tied up loose ends. I enjoyed "Collective" as an episode on its own as it exploits a once-formidable villain -- hard, for me, to go wrong with a Borg episode.
Chris P
Fri, Sep 7, 2018, 12:21am (UTC -6)
To the conversation about defanging the borg I want to add the absolutely insane dialogue sequence from the beginning of the episode:

"Their ion trail ends directly ahead."

"I'm detecting another vessel, bearing 30 mark 112. It's a borg cube."

"Red Alert. Alter course to intercept."

So this is what the borg have become. The captain of a technologically inferior ship 1/44737th the volume of a cube just says those words. How was there nobody involved in the production to prevent this script from airing in this state?
Chris P
Thu, Sep 13, 2018, 3:17pm (UTC -6)
That 1 / 44,437th number is an actual calculation and not made up. Probably worth pointing out since the size disparity is hard to believe.
Sat, Oct 27, 2018, 11:01pm (UTC -6)
Kinda sweet, as Borg eps go. Mediocre, in general.
Sean Hagins
Mon, Dec 3, 2018, 11:12pm (UTC -6)
Good episode. Subtle of the doctor-"here Capt, hold this newborn baby, and by the way, I've finished the pathogen that will kill her for you"
Sean Hagins
Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 7:17am (UTC -6)
Actually, I have a question maybe someone here can answer: you know how the actors who play alien characters like Worf or Garek are interviewed and say that it takes hours to get the makeup on? How does that work with children? I mean, I know that later the makeup is far less once the kids join Voyager and are de-Borged, but here it would take I would think at least 2 hours to put the makeup on, and say 1 hour to take off. That would leave only one or two hours for filming (as kids can only work short days) It must make it REALLY hard for the producers to make an episode like this! **That's why kid actors on the show who play aliens either have only a few minutes of airtime, or like Naomi Wildman, only have a couple easily to apply and remove bumps on their forehead**

I mean I think Ichib and the other big boy are really over 18 (the actors I mean), but the girl and the twins have to be minors. The twins had no speaking parts in this, but the girl had a fairly big role. I guess they filmed it over the course of a few days and just had to spend most of the day on other things to film?
Fri, Feb 21, 2020, 4:44am (UTC -6)
I remembered the leader borg kid asking Seven to save the others in his last moments, already a weak attempt at last minute humanization but nope, one-note till the end. William B mostly said everything that needed to be said, the concept of unstable and unknowing borg kids could have worked, but reducing it to one generic jerk kid responsible for all the villainy is just the most boring way they could have handled it.

@Sean Haggins That was the one good moment, and I liked Seven's and Janeway's discussion about the sense of order borg gave was how she managed to adjust as an individual.
Thu, Feb 27, 2020, 12:13pm (UTC -6)
The Maturation Chambers serve to create adult Drones, they help to rewrite the DNA, accelerate the growth, activate and deactivate certain genes, ensure grown cybernetic components are optimal to provide the best Drone for whatever task they require.
Seven being one of the first human children assimilated spent five years in one, she was six when she entered and the physical equivalent of a twenty one year old woman when she emerged despite being eleven years old. The process may be faster for catalogued species including humans who'd spend months rather then years.
I think there is a hierarchy among the Borg, assimilated children are raised to be Borg by the Hive mind, they know nothing else and have no loyalty to family or aliens so they gain freedom and become leaders within the collective. Adults become Drones who are suppressed on some level, I recall a scene in Dark Frontier when the Queen threatens Seven by telling her they'd turn her into just another Drone.
Mon, Mar 16, 2020, 5:39pm (UTC -6)
As someone who thinks Dark Frontier and UMZ were terrible - empty spectacle and soap-opera villainy - I like the Borg children storyline a lot. It's one of the best things Voyager did in its latter seasons. I would give Collective 3 stars. Voyager did defang the Borg a lot and use them in a way that made them no longer credible, but that's the fault of the big showpiece two-parters (the episodes with the Borg Queen) rather than the smaller character stories. Pretty much every time Voyager used the Borg to tell a small character story - Drone, Infinite Regress, Imperfection, Survival Instinct, Unity, Retrospect, Collective/Ashes To Ashes/Child's Play - it was done well.
Tue, May 5, 2020, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
I'm accustomed to Jammer's negative Voyager reviews to be the episodes I tend to like the most. And this was certainly one of my favorites. It's what I look for in SF - something that takes me away to a timeless and wondrous place.
Wed, Jun 3, 2020, 6:54pm (UTC -6)
In the TNG days, we'd have spent an entire episode debating the pathogen issue, with different characters expressing opposing viewpoints on the matter and a conclusion being reached that represented a change of perspective for main player in the story. Oh wait, they did exactly that, didn't they? Here, that material (along with the Harry plot) is really just a waste of time that should have been spent developing the conflict with the Borg kids instead. Everything here has been done better before, resulting an dull, uninspired outing. I did, however, get a kick out of Braga effectively saying that the Borg baby got Poochie'd.
Mon, Dec 28, 2020, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
I found it weird to the point of distraction that with only 5 young guest star Borg, the identical twins had ZERO lines. They couldn't give them a few lines? Their total silence stuck out like a sore thumb. Also if Seven was assimilated at 6 yrs old, and she was in a maturation chamber for 5 she exited at age 11? Does that sound right?
Tue, Jan 4, 2022, 5:52pm (UTC -6)

"I found it weird to the point of distraction that with only 5 young guest star Borg, the identical twins had ZERO lines. They couldn't give them a few lines? Their total silence stuck out like a sore thumb."

One of the twins did speak. Seven asked, "What happened to the adult drones?" and Azan or Rebi said, "We don’t know."

I don’t know much about showbiz, but it may be that if actors have lines, they get paid more.
Tue, Jan 4, 2022, 6:03pm (UTC -6)
Torres says, "I'm detecting another vessel, bearing 30 mark 112. It's a borg cube." I think Janeway would have preferred that she said that the other way around, with an appropriate level of urgency: "CAPTAIN, THERE'S A BIG-ASS BORG CUBE HEADED RIGHT TOWARD US — it’s at bearing 30 mark 112." Something like that.
Wed, Jan 5, 2022, 1:39pm (UTC -6)
At the time this episode aired, someone said, "The character of the Borg baby has been put on hold until she's old enough to be played by the Olsen twins."
Sat, Jan 28, 2023, 2:18am (UTC -6)
Correct me if I'm wrong... but with the discussion going on here about if that Cube was destroyed or not.... the Flyer was still in there? Nobody mentioned that? What happened to it?
Thu, Feb 23, 2023, 9:57pm (UTC -6)
@Iceblink, why do you say the episode wasn't original? Isntntje idea of Brog children original..when have we seen it before?

@Jos I think at some point they mention beaming the Flyer out once the Cube shields were down.
Robert II
Thu, Jun 8, 2023, 1:05pm (UTC -6)
I'm really surprised Voyager didn't try stealing a transwarp coil or two from this mostly-abandoned Borg cube, especially given the great lengths they went to in order to infiltrate a sphere in another episode. This cube would've been easy pickings.

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