“The Gift”

“I require something… sexier… to wear.”

The crew is getting used to its newest addition, Seven of Nine (introduced in the previous episode). Unhooked from the Borg collective, Seven’s human physiology is beginning to reassert itself (hmmm) so the Doctor is removing a bunch of her Borg stuff. Meanwhile, Kes’s mental powers (noted sporadically throughout the first three seasons) are beginning to get kind of crazy, as she can see beyond the subatomic. Seven, who wants to go back to the Borg, eventually sends a partial signal to the collective and Voyager is faced with the likelihood that they might end up in nanoprobe town. Meanwhile, Kes is phasing in and out of reality and is affecting the ship, so Janeway puts her on a shuttle (which are like Pez to this crew, but whatever). As Kes phases out of reality, she sends Voyager 10 years closer to home and out of Borg space. As the episode ends, a now mostly human Seven begins her life on Voyager — in a skin-tight catsuit that made pants tighter for nerds for the next four years.

Why it’s important

From a production standpoint, replacing Jennifer Lien’s Kes with Jeri Ryan’s Seven of Nine is a big domino. But from a Star Trek universe perspective, this is the first time Voyager gets appreciably closer to home. We’ll see a few landmarks like this one in Voyager’s next four seasons, and we’ll likely review them all.

Please, great producer in the sky. Let me stay!
“Please, great producer in the sky. Let me stay!”

What doesn’t hold up

Well, putting Seven in the catsuit was pretty ridiculous. Granted, sexy women have been a hallmark of Star Trek since “The Cage”, but it’s too bad that the series that took the step forward of having a female captain — and had a cast that was notably PC — took a step backward and so objectified its newest character. Jeri Ryan probably doesn’t get enough credit for making Seven a strong and sympathetic character given the hand she was dealt.

Also, it’s interesting that the Voyager is said to have been taken out of Borg space by Kes’s gift, considering we see the Borg so often the rest of the series. I suppose Janeway was unaware at this point of what the Borg could do to get around the galaxy — we learn about their transwarp hubs later — but getting out of the heart of Borg territory really wasn’t that big a deal. By way of the Borg’s attacks in Federation space, Janeway should have SOME idea of the Borg’s abilities to cover vast distances.

I’m frankly not convinced about the whole idea of Seven’s human physiology “reasserting itself” once she was cut off from the collective. We didn’t see anything like that happen to Hugh in “I, Borg” or to the Borg freed from the collective by Hugh and led by Lore in “Descent”. The creators could have just had Janeway order the Doctor to remove all of Seven’s Borg stuff instead of making it seem like something the Voyager crew had to do. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have done that, as they make a big deal about how Janeway has to act as a de facto guardian to Seven who’s not yet able to make her own choices.

Another thing with the Borg, which we could have discussed in our last review: Does it strike anyone as odd that there’s no discussion of where the Voyager crew was during the events of “The Best of Both Worlds”? Remember that 40 starships were destroyed as the Borg made their way to Earth. We know that some Starfleet personnel escaped and we know that there were many unaffected Starfleet ships (given how many we see in late TNG and DS9 that couldn’t have been built after Wolf 359). Would it have killed Voyager’s anti-continuity creators to have had some dialogue about where Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Paris, et. al, were during the attack at Wolf 359? Voyager hadn’t been commissioned, of course. But those four were all in Starfleet during the Borg invasion (with the possible exception of Paris, who might have already been kicked out of the service). Maybe one of them could have been on a ship in the battle and managed to escape — or maybe one of them would have been on a ship that was too far away to get there on time? Why the Voyager creators constantly avoided this kind of easy point of continuity just blows my mind.

I find this appropriately... sexy.
“I find this appropriately … sexy.”

Final thoughts

Although Seven joining the cast looked like it could have been a disaster, it basically turned out OK. Her character added a lot to the series — especially her relationship with Janeway — and added some life to a struggling show. The worst thing about Seven over the years was that she often learned big lessons about being human and then needed to learn them again.

OTOH, Voyager became a show centered mostly around Janeway, Seven and the Doctor over the final four seasons, marginalizing some characters (with Chakotay and Tuvok faring worst). And that’s too bad, because Robert Beltran and Tim Russ both were good in their roles and the writers could occasionally find good vehicles for their characters (Tuvok in “Meld”, Chakotay in “Maneuvers”, etc.).

Coming next week …

Seven’s origin story and (possibly) the Borg’s first interaction with humanity.

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