“Scorpion”

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Part one: A long-range probe shows Voyager is finally entering Borg space. To avoid being assimilated, the crew heads down an area with no Borg activity, but stumbles upon a battle between several cubes and a new enemy that appears more powerful than the Borg. The enemy is called Species 8472, and the Borg are at a loss for how to stop them. After Kim is attacked by one of the 8472s, he begins to be transformed into one of them, but the Doctor finds a treatment that would use reprogrammed Borg nanoprobes (salvaged during “Unity”) to fight the infection. Janeway (despite objections from Chakotay) seizes the opportunity to trade the nanoprobes for passage through Borg territory. The episode ends with Janeway on a cube, negotiating with the Borg, with an attack by 8472 looming.

Part two: Janeway and Tuvok work with the Borg to develop a weapon based on the Doctor’s nanoprobes. The Borg appoints Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) to be a liaison, and Janeway quickly determines that Seven used to be human and was perhaps the first human assimilated by the Borg. As the work commences, 8472 attacks and the Borg transport Janeway, Tuvok, Seven and a few drones to Voyager before the cube makes a suicide run at an 8472 bioship. Janeway is seriously wounded in the attack, and Chakotay takes over and decides to leave the Borg on a nearby planet after he learns that the Borg started the war by invading 8472’s fluidic space region. Then, Seven forces the ship into 8472’s realm, drawing Voyager into the fight. When Janeway (miraculously) recovers, she and Chakotay clash, and it briefly appears that Janeway has relieved Chakotay of duty. Voyager uses the nanoprobes and fights back 8472 — but then Seven attempts to assimilate the ship. Chakotay, working with Janeway, interfaces with Seven, separating her from the Borg collective. Out of immediate danger, Janeway and Chakotay reconcile and wonder what to do with their newest crew member.

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Fluidic space — otherwise known as water here on earth.

Why it’s important

With the exception of some baddies here and there (the Hirogen, the Krenim) the Borg become Voyager’s main nemesis the rest of the way. Seven’s inclusion on the cast is a huge domino, as well, as her presence becomes key in the Borg interaction (and the direction of the series). It’s also interesting that we learn that Seven was assimilated before Picard and Co. encountered the Borg in “Q Who?” That undoes some of the tension of the TNG/Borg interaction, as the Borg were likely aware of humanity 10 years earlier than was previously known.

What doesn’t hold up

Well, Kim and Janeway both recover FAR too easily, based on the Doctor’s initial comments. In both cases — particularly regarding Janeway — the creators didn’t need to amp up the tension as much as they did.

There are also some weird editing issues. At one point, Kes somehow gets from sickbay to the bridge without any sort of transition, and there’s a scene in engineering in part one in which Chakotay tells Torres and Tuvok to “get the captain,” without that actually happening.

Finally, the notion that the Borg needed to appoint a liaison to work with Janeway and Tuvok is pretty goofy. It was necessary to bring our favorite shapely Borg into the fold, but it was still unlikely. Also, the fact that the Borg essentially have discussions about what they’re going to do instead of reaching automatic consensus among the collective is dumb — although it’s something that Trek started doing with the Borg around this time.

Ladies and gentleman, lets give Kess a hand!
Ladies and gentleman, lets give Kess a hand!

Final thoughts

We’ll get into it more in our next review of “The Gift” later this week, but adding Seven of Nine to the cast was a big change to the Voyager status quo. Otherwise, this is a strong two-parter, which made good use of the bond AND the differing philosophies of Janeway and Chakotay. Kate Mulgrew and Robert Beltran do a nice job in both episodes (though Janeway tearing up in one scene and declaring that she “really is alone” was over the top). The tension between the two characters would go on to be a nice, if inconsistently used, part of the series, as we’ll get into in later reviews.

Coming later this week …

Voyager loses one of its original cast members and aims to bring in anybody who wanted to see a sexy Borg.

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