Star Trek 595: Collective

595. Collective

FORMULA: Unity + The Gift + Rascals + One + One Little Ship

WHY WE LIKE IT: An attempt at an arc!?

WHY WE DON'T: Borg growing pains.

REVIEW: Very rarely, Voyager stumbles upon something it really should be about. The previous Trek shows each had a sort of theme that tied them together. TOS was about friendship, TNG about family, DS9 about community. In that scheme, what is Voyager about? They never really embraced the Lost Far From Home idea fully (the ship is as pristine and "Starfleet" as it's always been), but one of the elements that come with that idea is time the trip was going to take. Every so often, Janeway mentions how Voyager might have to become a generational ship, but we know that can't happen so long as they refuse to stray from the usual "weekly" format and jump across the years. With the addition of the Borg kids in this episode, however, there is at at least an attempt at splitting Voyager's world into generations. Janeway is Seven's surrogate mother, who in turn, must act as surrogate mother to the children. So color me originally surprised that the reset button wasn't pushed at the end and the kids actually joined the cast (for a while at least). Hey, they have the alcoves for it.

The search for their homes will create a mini-arc, the kind of continuity too often missing from the show, though they've already forgotten the Borg baby by episode's end. It's an arc that actually starts in the previous episode, Tsunkatse, in which the Norcadians and Pindari are seen and Seven is deemed a good punching bag because people in the region hate the Borg. Voyager seems to fly by so fast sometimes that you can't get a sense of any region as organized as the Alpha Quadrant. This helps.

But how's the actual story? Well, the effects are very well done, for the first time showing us what happens to a ship that gets pulled into a Cube for assimilation. Keeping things credible, Voyager only goes up against an undermanned Cube. A pathogen has killed all the drones except 6 "neo-natals" (including an infant) who come out of their maturation chambers early. The star of the lot is 8 year old Mezoti, but then, creepy little girls always steal the show. The aggressive First is as annoying as any rebellious adolescent on tv, contrasting with the more level-headed Second (Icheb). The twins are just background. Not fully Borg - they certainly don't think as one - Voyager actually has a chance against them. That it all comes down to Seven gaining their trust shows just how powerful the Borg are meant to be. Five kids essentially own them.

The plot is pretty straightforward, with the First getting his fool head blown off and the others not asked to pay for his crimes. There's a good bit in sickbay when the Doctor does his damnedest to manipulate Janeway into not using the pathogen on the Borg kids by putting a baby in her arms. To no avail at the time, but she ultimately doesn't go that route.

LESSON: Teenagers and order don't mix.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium-High: A fair Borg story, if you don't mind the Borg being emasculated, but it's an important key to understanding many episodes this season. One of the Borg kids does become a regular to the end of the series.

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