Category Archives: 1997

“The Raven”

Incoming message / From: The Borg Collective / Subject: We'd like to add you to our professional network on LinkedIn
“Incoming message / From: The Borg Collective / Subject: We’d like to add you to our professional network on LinkedIn …”

Janeway is negotiating passage through a part of space controlled by the B’omar, possibly the stupidest (and worst dressed) aliens we’ve met in all of Star Trek. Meanwhile, part of Seven’s Borgness reasserts herself, she steals a shuttle and makes off into B’omar space for what she thinks is (in effect) her Borg mothership, which is summoning her with a homing beacon — making her think she should return to it and be re-assimilated. Tuvok and Paris take off in another shuttle to retrieve her, again violating B’omar space. Turns out Seven actually was being summoned by the ship (the Raven) that she and her parents used to travel to the Delta Quadrant, which was partially assimilated by the Borg (or something) and then crashed on the planet. The encounter makes Seven relive her original assimilation, but Voyager attacks the B’omar and saves Seven, Tuvok and Paris. Back on Voyager, Seven begins to think about her human origins.

Even we don't know what these things on our faces are for. But they're telling us you need to slow your roll Janeway...
“Even we don’t know what these things on our faces are for. But they’re telling us you need to slow your roll, Janeway…”

Why it’s important

This one’s open to interpretation.

At this point in Trek, Seven is pretty clearly the first human ever assimilated by the Borg. So, learning how that happened is important. That said, there are a lot of reasons why that doesn’t quite make sense.

For one thing, if Seven, her parents’ ship and possibly her parents were assimilated “nearly 20 years” earlier, it means the Enterprise’s encounter with the Borg nine years earlier (in “Q Who?”) was a lot less significant. Up until this episode, there was enough ambiguity around Seven that maybe you could figure she became a Borg without the collective knowing about Federation technology. But “The Raven” clears that up, which is really stupid ret-conning as it undercuts one of TNG’s best episodes and the suspense leading up to the original Borg invasion.

What doesn’t hold up

Putting aside what I noted above, Janeway really goes over the line in this episode with her interactions with the B’omar. She essentially declares war on a space-faring people (!) to save Seven. Or, at least, she won’t respect sovereign boundaries.

Now, sure, the B’omar are ridiculous, stupid and petty — and their demands before Seven takes off make very little sense (why would they require Voyager to go at a slow warp velocity if they want the ship to get out of their space as soon as possible?). But that doesn’t really matter. Janeway, acting as the ranking Starfleet officer in the Delta Quadrant, discards borders and attacks B’omar ships in their space. That she dismisses their hails late in the episode because she doesn’t “have time for this” is frankly alarming. Kathy’s certainly not helping the Federation’s Delta Quadrant reputation in this episode. But why start worrying about that now, right?

Then, there’s the matter of Seven’s parents and their ship. Back in “Scorpion”, information on Seven’s parents seemed pretty minimal. But here, Janeway sure knows a lot about them (this gets worse in future episodes, by the way). And why did the Borg “partially assimilate” Seven’s parents’ ship and then leave it behind? There are some ways this might have worked, but the creators don’t really try to address it. And, without the “partial assimilation,” Seven’s homing beacon wouldn’t have been activated.

Oh, and how did Seven’s parents even get to B’omar space? We’re talking 60,000 light years from the Federation! Again, there are ways this could have been explained, but the creators opt not to. Huh.

Lastly, Voyager loses yet another shuttle in this episode. Unreal.

Why do they bother locking the doors to the shuttle bay when we have an unlimited supply of them!
Why do they bother locking the doors to the shuttle bay when we have an unlimited supply of them!

Final thoughts

This is such a weird episode, as there are a lot of good things despite the goofiness. I really liked the scene in which Neelix tries to teach Seven to eat solid food (Ethan Phillips really brought his top form) and Tuvok’s interaction with Seven as they approach the planet where the Raven crashed.

But Janeway just comes across as so dumb and hard-headed. It’s a shame.

Coming later this week …

Andy Dick. For serious.

“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.



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.

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.

“Blood Fever”

"I would ask for an updated star chart for this region, but I believe the only thing I am at risk for getting lost in is your eyes."
“I would ask for an updated star chart for this region, but I believe the only thing I am at risk for getting lost in is your eyes.”

Voyager finds an apparently uninhabited planet with some valuable resources and Torres prepares to extract them. Before she leaves on an away mission, Ensign Vorik (Alexander Enberg), a Vulcan we’ve seen in engineering a time or two, requests to mate with her, and the two fight after she rebuffs him. Turns out he’s going through the Vulcan 7-year mating itch Spock went through in “Amok Time”. Torres, Paris and Neelix head to the planet and Torres begins acting weird and bites Paris on the cheek. Somehow, Vorik’s condition has been imprinted on Torres, and now she has Paris in her half-Klingon sights. Meanwhile, the away team eventually meets aliens who still live on the planet after mastering a way to hide themselves from unnamed invaders. With Torres’s condition deteriorating, she and Paris are about to get busy when Vorik leaves the ship and demands Torres mate with him. At Tuvok’s suggestion, Vorik and Torres fight in ritual combat, extinguishing the blood fever (which is how Spock got over his thing back in the day). Back on the ship, Paris and Torres talk about what happened, with some hints that a relationship between the two might be around the corner. But the episode ends with Chakotay showing Janeway the skeletal remains of a Borg (!) on the surface — apparently the planet’s invaders and an indication Voyager is nearing or entering Borg space.

Why it’s important

The main plot to this episode isn’t all that important from a bigger-picture perspective. It is a nice bit of continuity with Trek as a whole and it does further the Paris/Torres relationship — which would become one of the show’s best nods to Voyager’s premise of an isolated crew.

But, really, the show’s final minute is the important thing here. Discovering that the Borg are close is a huge domino and would go on to be part of Voyager’s lasting legacy — with the debut of Seven of Nine in the fourth season and the ship’s repeated encounters with the Borg up through the series finale.

It was a tough call whether to review “Blood Fever” or the subsequent episode “Unity” — in which Chakotay encounters a group of freed drones who want to return to a lesser version of the collective. But this episode is the first time we see the Borg on Voyager, so it got the nod. And when Voyager encounters actual, real, live Borg, we’ll be on it.

Is that a ritual dagger in your pants or are you just here to challenge me to a duel?
“Is that a ritual dagger in your pants or are you just here to challenge me to a duel?”

What doesn’t hold up

It’s a little hard to believe that Vorik — in his messed-up state — would have been able to disable Voyager’s transporters, communications and shuttles before heading to the planet. It’s too bad the creators didn’t just chalk up the lack of help from Voyager — which is key, as it means letting Torres and Vorik fight is the best available option — to interference on the planet. But whatever.

I do wonder about Tuvok’s thinking in suggesting that Torres and Vorik fight. While it’s true that combat was preferable to the two of them dying from the fever, why not just just stun them or give them both nerve pinches and wait until Voyager fixes things? It’s awfully convenient that both Torres and Vorik end up being done with the blood fever at EXACTLY the same moment.

Big picture, this is pretty cartoony, even for Voyager. The cast pulls it off as well as could be expected, I guess (Roxanne Dawson and Robert Duncan-McNeil bring their A games). And I actually really liked the use of Chakotay in talking down the aliens on the planet. But the idea that Vorik’s condition could be transmitted is, well, goofy.

Needs dat Amok Time music
Needs dat Amok Time music —

Final thoughts

I give Voyager a lot of crap for lack of continuity. But it’s nice that we don’t meet Vorik for the first time in this episode and that he doesn’t go away after it. Although he mostly shows up in the third and fourth seasons, we see Vorik again in the seventh season. So, I’ll give the creators a mild pat on the back on this one. Plus, Enberg can do the Vulcan thing pretty well.

It is interesting that Voyager — much like DS9 in the middle years — was seeking to reinvent itself. After a second season that wasn’t well received, Voyager brought back one of Trek’s best baddies in the Borg, who were recurring villains the rest of the series. In a way, that decision made Voyager even more “TNG in the Delta Quadrant.” But given the bad execution during the Kazon years, it might have been the best choice.

Coming next week …

The Borg. For reals, this time.

Dunh. Dunh. Dunnnnnnnnn
Dunh. Dunh. Dunnnnnnnnn


“Sacrifice of Angels”

I shall hit this "base ball" into what they call "right field."
“I shall hit this ‘base ball’ into what they call ‘left field’.”

Sisko’s fleet begins fighting the vastly larger Dominion force while Dukat watches with glee and prepares to take down the minefield around the wormhole. At Damar’s suggestion, Kira, Jake and Leeta are all taken into custody (where Rom was being held pre-execution), leaving Quark as the only member of Kira’s resistance cell able to do anything. Quark, getting an assist from Ziyal, frees Kira’s team, and Kira and Rom work to disable the station so it can’t remove the minefield. The Defiant eventually breaks through the Dominion lines — with some late help from Worf and the Klingons — and sets course for the station. Odo picks his side and helps Kira and Rom, but Rom is just a second to late — and cuts the station’s weapons after the minefield has been destroyed. The Defiant arrives just in time to watch the mines explode and Sisko sets course into the wormhole, where the ship runs into the huge Dominion fleet. Then, the Prophets summon Sisko, asking him if he’s trying to die. Sisko talks the Prophets into intervening — “If you want to be gods, BE gods” — which they do, after telling Sisko there will be a penance. The Dominion ships disappear, and the Defiant comes out of the wormhole, firing on a disabled DS9. Weyoun orders evacuation and a retreat to Cardassian space and a stunned Dukat starts to fall apart. He finds Ziyal, who admits to helping Kira, and just as Dukat has apparently forgiven her, Damar shows up and shoots and kills Ziyal. After the Dominion evacuations, Sisko and company retake the station and find Dukat, a broken man from the ordeal.

Get another actress to play... my corpse...
“Get another actress to play… my corpse…”

Why it’s important

That’s likely the longest plot summary we’ve written, so you can tell that a lot happens here. The Federation retaking DS9 is a HUGE domino, of course — as is the decision by the Prophets to take on a more active role in “corporeal matters,” which plays into the seventh season in a major, major way. And then there’s the matter of Dukat …

Dukat’s breakdown and subsequent actions, which we’ll get into in future reviews, really change the math for the rest of DS9. Instead of merely fighting the Dominion, Sisko must face a random element in Dukat who decides to take on the Bajorans, Sisko and the Prophets because of their actions there.

The first rule of acquisition is... don't f**k with the brothers Quark!
“The first rule of acquisition is… don’t f**k with the brothers Quark!”

What doesn’t hold up

Before I get started, let me be on record as saying I really like this episode, despite what may come across as ranting.

As the episode begins, occupied DS9 has at least a handful of Dominion and Cardassian ships in the area. There’s no discussion of these ships being sent to help with the fighting. And yet, they seem to magically disappear after Rom disables the station’s weapons. This is very important, in that the Dominion gives up the station (too easily) when the Defiant emerges from the wormhole. If even one of those ships was still around, it could have at least tried to take on the Defiant. I know that subsequent dialog establishes that the Starfleet/Klingon ships were on their way to the station after breaking through the Dominion lines. But if the Dominion had kept even a ship or two at DS9, they might have been able to hold off the Defiant until the station’s weapons were fixed so they could hold off the Starfleet and Klingon attackers.

And, BTW, we KNOW that some Dominion ships were still at the station, as the Dominion used them to evacuate its personnel. The creators somewhat weakly sidestep this by not showing the evacuation ships, meaning that maybe they were just shuttles or something that would have been unable to stop the Defiant. But that’s really weak sauce, as it would suggest that the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta would be cool putting a Founder in a small (and presumably lightly armed) ship in the middle of a war zone (among a host of other reasons).

And, frankly, Weyoun and the female Changeling are just WAY too chill about losing the station. Keep in mind that a season-plus later, we learn just how much the Dominion doesn’t like to lose.

As long as the complaint fest is going on, let’s address the fact that the Defiant still has the cloaking device on loan from the Romulans — despite the fact that the Romulans (at this point) have a non-aggression pact with the Dominion. The cloaking device is disabled during the battle early in the episode, but it is mentioned. Shouldn’t the Romulans have gotten that back when the war started?

While this is a criticism that might be best addressed after this episode, it makes sense to mention here: Why wouldn’t the Dominion take action against some weird wormhole aliens who just (apparently) destroyed 2,800 of their ships? After this episode, Dukat is the only one who seems to grasp the Prophets as a threat and a potential enemy. That’s really unlike the Dominion, who take every opportunity to strike out at perceived foes. We learn after this episode — too late, really, as the question is left unaddressed until the end of the season — that the Prophets will begin keeping ships from using the wormhole, preventing reinforcements from the Gamma Quadrant. That’s another reason the Dominion likely should have been looking for ways to attack the Prophets.

Victory is assured. I mean only a crazy set of circumstances... from "left field" could stop us now!
“Victory is assured. I mean only a crazy set of circumstances… from ‘left field’ could stop us now!”

Final thoughts

Of course, I could quibble with the deus ex machina allowing Sisko to get rid of 2,800 Dominion ships. Watching this in 1997, I felt the ending was a cheat. But I’ll give the DS9 creators credit for how they incorporated the penance later — and how they use this as a springboard to make the Prophets more active participants. Put another way, it was a cheat — but it was a well-done cheat after the creators (in true DS9 style) stacked the deck too highly against themselves and our heroes.

Lastly, I really love that Quark kind of saves the Alpha Quadrant here.

Coming next week …

We see just how badly this all messed up Dukat.