Star Trek 598: Child's Play

598. Child's Play

FORMULA: I, Borg + Suddenly Human

WHY WE LIKE IT: Nothing too black and white.

WHY WE DON'T: Easily beaten Borg.

REVIEW: An important episode for the Borg kids as Seven's maternal bond grows and Icheb's parents are found. And here he was looking forward to a permanent posting in Astrometrics. It starts out as an adoption story where Seven must relinquish her claim to her surrogate son. Seven is always best when she brooks no bullshit, and here she freely admits her bias, lending credibility to her claims. At the heart of her anger is not simply the loss of Icheb, but that her own parents recklessly allowed her to be assimilated, just as Icheb's parents did him.

Icheb starts out not wanting to leave Voyager, but as he slowly remembers things from his pre-Borg life, he seems the value in staying. Of course, his parents are on the up and up, just as Seven surmised. Were they only playing along with Janeway's social worker games until they could get their hands on Icheb? No. They really do love their son and it is a great sacrifice they make by sending him back to the Borg. Icheb was genetically modified to infect the Borg with the same pathogen the Doctor claimed destroyed the drones on the kids' Cube in Collective. He is a living weapon, and his people's greatest defense against the Borg. They're not bad people, they're simply desperate. (Indeed, their plan isn't particularly sound. If you can only use your weapon once, why would you precipitate the attack and risk drawing attention to yourself? Or did they expect Icheb to be picked up again and again and pick off Cubes one at a time?)

Icheb shows a lot of maturity here, not only forgiving his parents, but agreeing with their actions. He has none of Seven's anger. She rewards him with more autonomy and the power to choose his fate (and bedtime), a lot quicker than Janeway did her. The script I think very much respects Seven's character here.

Oh yeah, the Borg do appear, but the Sphere gets heavily damaged by a single torpedo. It's getting harder and harder to respect the Borg threat, isn't it? I wonder if it assimilated Icheb's parents as soon as it finished repairs.

LESSON: Maturation chambers are no substitute for real life.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Though I wouldn't exactly call the plot airtight, it at least does justice to Seven's character and doesn't paint anyone as a true villain.