“Dark Frontier”

I just watched an old earth film called "Ocean's 11" and now I'm in the mood for a zany heist.
“I just watched an old Earth film called ‘Ocean’s 11’ and now I’m in the mood for a zany heist.”

Janeway gets it into her head to try to steal a transwarp coil from a Borg ship (Bad Idea Jeans, Kathy). She enlists Seven to help with the mission, and asks her to read the diaries (somehow) obtained from her parents’ ship back in “The Raven” as background research or something. As the crew prepares, Seven is contacted by the Borg Queen (Susanna Thompson, apparently replacing the Queen we met in “Star Trek: First Contact”) who tells her that she’ll assimilate Voyager unless Seven comes back to the Borg. During the mission, Seven does just that — despite a puzzled Janeway, who does manage to get the warp coil. Later, the Queen tells Seven that the Borg actually LET Seven leave the collective and join Voyager’s crew (back in “Scorpion”) as a way to get more information about humans in hopes of actually successfully assimilating humanity (uh-huh). Janeway equips the Delta Flyer with the transwarp coil and manages to find Seven and eventually rescues her by convincing her where she really belongs (for like the 100th time) outsmarting the Queen (or something).

I find it helps to picture a species naked when addressing a crowd of them.
“I find it helps to picture a species naked when addressing a crowd of them.”

Why it’s important

We learn a lot more about Seven’s backstory — which is actually a lot of the human/Borg backstory. Her parents, the Hansens, weren’t just zany explorers who ran into the Borg. They were commissioned by the Federation to go LOOK for the Borg. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, Voyager gets access to transwarp technology in this episode — and does get 20 years closer to home before it gives out. So, even though Janeway’s plan is ridiculously dangerous, it does sort of work. Hmmm.

What doesn’t hold up

The Hansen backstory is, simply, infuriating. It’s classic Voyager in that it re-wrote Star Trek history in ways the creators must have (wrongly) thought would increase the drama. Joe Menosky, one of the top people at Voyager back in the day, said (essentially) that continuity should be disregarded when it gets in the way of a good story. That could be one way to look back at Voyager as a series — except that more often than not, the creators didn’t have to disregard continuity to achieve their ultimate goal.

This episode, like so many others, was a situation where the creators could have had their cake and eaten it, too. The Hansens didn’t need to be explorers looking for the Borg. They could have just been unorthodox explorers who happened upon the Borg, which was sort of the implication when Seven was first introduced in “Scorpion” and when her backstory was fleshed out in “The Raven”. That way, the idea that Picard and Co. (and, presumably, the Federation, generally) didn’t know about the Borg back in “Q Who?” could have been preserved. That said, this episode does try to explain how the Hansens got to the Delta Quadrant, which was an open question back in “The Raven”, with a line of dialogue about following a Borg ship into a transwarp conduit.

There’s also the whole idea that the Borg let Seven leave as part of a bigger plan. Assuming the Queen wasn’t just lying to manipulate Seven (possible, I suppose) it seems like a goofy idea. How many times was Voyager almost destroyed since “Scorpion”?

But the biggest thing that blows my mind is that Janeway would attempt to take on the Borg and steal a warp coil, putting her entire crew at risk against an implacable foe. Voyager’s captain has had some pretty questionable decisions over the years, but I wouldn’t have called her “reckless” until this episode. It’s just unbelievable that she would risk having the Voyager “family” assimilated — and that she would then risk the much-coveted warp coil (not to mention her own life, Paris, Tuvok and the Doctor) to save Seven and Seven alone. The idea that Starfleet captains don’t leave their crew behind isn’t a bad one — but when going after one of them puts everyone else in SUCH great risk, you have to question Kathy’s judgment.

There are issues with some of the Borg Queen’s dialog. She says the Borg have tried to assimilate Earth once (actually twice) and that Seven is the first human to leave the collective after being assimilated — and that’s just laughably false. Jean-Luc Picard says “hi.”

Last thing: The Borg Queen, in an effort to convince Seven that she belongs with the Borg, brings out her father, who is still a working drone. While this is a shocking moment, it’s not used to much effect. And wouldn’t Seven have tried to save her father — or been more torn apart by seeing him after she’s saved?

Last, last thing: The Hansen diaries that Janeway has Seven read allegedly came from Seven and Tuvok’s visit to the Hansens’ ship in “The Raven”. But Seven and Tuvok didn’t download anything while in the ship in that episode — and they barely made it out with their lives as it was being destroyed.

Last, last, last thing: On the Borg ship, Seven’s connection to the collective seems like not much of a connection. She actually saves a small group of no-name aliens from being assimilated — a group that seems to be far too down with what’s happening to them, BTW — but the Queen doesn’t figure it out until after it happens. So much for “Our thoughts are one.”

Hello. Daughter Unit.
“Hello, Daughter Unit.”

Final thoughts

All complaints aside, this is an entertaining two-parter — provided you leave some logic at the door. It’s about as cartoonish as Voyager gets, as even the Borg ship looks more colorful and less mechanical. The most poignant moment, though, comes when Seven questions her parents’ ridiculous decision to go after the Borg with a young child in tow. Janeway doesn’t exactly defend them, but she does give them credit for their ingenuity. I suppose they did manage to surreptitiously monitor and study the Borg for a while, but ultimately, they were complete failures and their YOUNG DAUGHTER BECAME A BORG.

Coming later this week …

Another Starfleet ship in the Delta Quadrant? Jigga-what?

One thought on ““Dark Frontier””

  1. Your assessment of the problems are all totally spot on. And I agree, they could have easily been avoided.

    Putting those problems aside, this is still one of my favorite episodes. Had the writers NOT created those problems, I think this episode could have been one of the best in the franchise.

    Imho of course.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s