“Unimatrix Zero”

“Trust me, we were totally having a Unimatrix Zero fling. You don’t remember but you had a thing for vaguely lumpy foreheads.”

Seven is pulled into a dream world where a small percentage of Borg — including Seven, prior to her escaping the collective — can live as individuals while regenerating. The sort of safe zone is called Unimatrix Zero, and it’s populated by Borg who in real life are scattered across the galaxy (a cool concept, FWIW). Axum (Mark Deakins), the sort of leader within the realm, apparently had a romantic relationship with Seven back in the day, and needs her help now in the real world as the Borg queen (Susanna Thompson) is closing in on the sanctuary. Janeway agrees to help Axum’s group, as they’re in distress and because she hopes that waking the drones in the real world could start a Borg resistance movement (hmmm). Then, things go really off kilter as Janeway, Tuvok and Torres go aboard a Borg ship with the idea of being assimilated (yes, you read that right). While they look like Borg, the Doctor has equipped them with “neural suppressants” or something that keeps their individuality intact, and they’re able to unleash a pathogen developed by Axum (where and how he did this is never explained) that starts waking the drones from Unimatrix Zero in the real world. Eventually, Chakotay is able to rescue the away team with the help of a “rebel” Borg sphere led by a Klingon from Unimatrix Zero. But the safe zone — and Seven’s connection to Axum, who is on the other end of the galaxy — must be sacrificed. Back on board Voyager, Janeway, Torres and Tuvok are (FAR, FAR too quickly) recovering and Seven and Janeway discuss the possibility that the rebel Borg could have a lasting impact on the collective. One guess as to whether it actually does …

Why it’s important

Well, Voyager’s interactions with the Borg in the final four seasons are all pretty important. This episode at least teases the idea that Voyager might be destabilizing the collective with its actions. More on that, of course, in a moment.

As a side note, Paris regains his rank as lieutenant in part one after being reduced to ensign back in the underrated “Thirty Days” in season five. Sadly, this appears to be a way for Paris to be Chakotay’s de facto first officer while Janeway et. al are on the Borg ship posing as drones in part two. It almost feels like the dialog between Paris and Chakotay in part two was being written and one of the creators looked up and said, “Wait — we made Paris an ensign a couple years ago. Better change that!”

Janeway reflects upon the doctor’s miracle follicle stimulator, and wonders if her skull got bronzed while she was assimilated.

What doesn’t hold up

Well, let’s start with “posing as drones” idea. What absolute and unmitigated stupidity. Janeway, Tuvok and Torres could have easily lost an arm, an eye, a leg, etc. And the fact that the Borg queen isn’t immediately concerned that she can’t hear their thoughts after they’ve been “assimilated” might be the biggest stretch in the history of Voyager — and that, my friends, is quite a statement. As soon as the three were “assimilated,” the queen should have either been able to read their thoughts — which would have allowed her to know their plan and stop it — or she should have realized that the “neural suppressant” was keeping her from having that knowledge and done something about it. You just don’t go undercover on a Borg ship, folks. It should NOT have worked.

Keep in mind that the queen does eventually get through to Tuvok — when the suppressant wears off — but for whatever reason, his knowledge of the plan that she should have accessed doesn’t allow her to stop Janeway and Torres. Of course, the queen DOES get Tuvok’s command codes, and uses them to disable Voyager. Somehow, Chakotay and the gang didn’t have the good sense to change those codes upon the away team’s departure — which seems to have been common procedure in similar situations, dating back to TNG (see “Gambit”).

What nonsense. We’ve not been too kind to Voyager on this site, but it REALLY got into comic book territory in seasons six and seven. Continuity was disregarded, logical stories became harder to come by and Janeway became absolutely reckless. Since the middle of season five she 1) Threatened to kill a Starfleet officer for information and offered to trade another Starfleet ship for Voyager’s safety 2) Stole a Borg warp coil and put the entire crew at risk to save Seven in the process and 3) Allowed herself, Tuvok and Torres to be (essentially) assimilated. And those are just the ridiculous items off the top of my head.

Someone reading this is getting mad and thinking that, in each case, Janeway’s plans worked. And that’s true — because the creators can make them work by disregarding continuity and basic logic. Janeway’s “victories” over the Borg all serve to defang one of Trek’s best enemies. The Borg queen — admittedly, a goofy concept introduced during “Star Trek: First Contact” — becomes the embodiment of this, as she appears more like a mustache-twirling Klingon/Cardassian/Kazon than the center of an absolutely implacable foe.

And, of course, the Borg civil war amounts to absolutely nothing after this episode, as the collective seems just fine and dandy when we see them later in season seven. What garbage.

Shame, creators. Shame. It’s not that Voyager couldn’t be compelling and watchable. It’s just that the creators came across as lazy, unambitious and short-sighted, especially as the series wore on. Hell, even Robert Beltran called them out on this in the final season.

Final thoughts

I think we’ll leave it at that.

Coming later this week …

A (logically flawed) nod toward continuity and a good performance by the always watchable Robert Picardo.

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