CollectiveBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 10:25 PM GMT
See Also: 'Collective' Episode Guide
As Paris, Chakotay, Neelix and Kim play poker on the Delta Flyer, Tom gapes to see a Borg cube approaching. The shuttle is tractored and Kim is injured, but the Borg prove remarkably willing to negotiate - rather than threatening instant assimilation, they tell Janeway they will exchange the hostages for Voyager's navigational deflector. Because her ship needs the deflector to operate, Janeway seeks a stalling tactic, demanding to see her crewmembers first. When Seven of Nine arrives on the cube to report on the away team's status, she discovers that of the thousands of drones on the cube, only five half-mature children have survived.
The ex-Borg offers to help repair the cube and makes some headway negotiating with the drone called Second, but First - the leader - resists her efforts, wanting to get the deflector as quickly as possible in order to contact the Collective. Meanwhile, Seven has a dead adult Borg beamed to Voyager, where the Doctor concludes that a pathogen killed all of the drones not protected in maturation chambers. Janeway asks him to isolate the pathogen; they may need to use it on the remaining Borg to rescue the hostages. No one on either ship knows what has happened to Harry Kim, who was unconscious when the Delta Flyer was tractored. When the ensign manages to contact Voyager, Tuvok directs him towards the Borg cube's generator so that Harry can destroy it.
Janeway beams to the cube and offers the children a chance at individuality aboard Voyager. First attacks her, threatening to kill the hostages if he doesn't get the deflector. Meanwhile, Seven determines that the Collective received the cube's distress call, but chose to ignore it since the young Borg aboard are all damaged and therefore "irrelevant." There are still others in maturation chambers, and Seven beams a premature Borg to Voyager when its incubator fails. The Doctor encourages Janeway to cuddle the infant, yet the captain remains resolute in her insistence that they cultivate the deadly Borg pathogen, even when she holds the baby in her arms.
First discovers Kim's attempt to disable their generator and injects the human with nanoprobes, forcing a confrontation with Janeway, who refuses to give up the deflector. The Borg try to tear it from Voyager with a tractor beam, but Janeway sends a plasma charge along the beam, which disrupts the cube's power systems and enables her to beam the hostages away. Second tells First that the cube's shields are overloading so they must stop resisting, but First struggles, then is killed by an exploding conduit. The four surviving Borg children agree to come aboard Voyager, where the Doctor removes their implants. Seven agrees to help them adapt to life as individuals on Voyager, and wishes them sweet dreams as she ushers them to their alcoves.
One of the oft-heard criticisms about the women of The Next Generation is that, once Tasha Yar was killed off, all the major female characters were defined primarily as nurturers. Troi and Crusher had their moments of strength, but to a large degree they were limited by their sensitive, coddling, maternal roles. When Voyager came on the air, Kes was the only female in such a position; ironically, I feared that with her loss, all the women would become stereotypes of tough gals, with the rigid Captain, the angry Klingon, and the stronger-than-steel Borg overwhelming the Samantha Wildmans of the 24th century.
Instead we have Momma Janeway, Sweetheart B'Elanna, and now Nanny Seven. Forgive me, but watching her with the Borg kids, all I could think about was Babysitter Barbie - who comes with a cute little baby doll but wears outfits about as appropriate for watching kids as Seven's is for fixing warp conduits. The emerging arc with the kids may add a new dimension to her character, but must the writers constrain all women into nurturing roles? No matter how sick I was of the all-powerful Seven of Nine who saved the ship every week, I've never wanted to see her give it up to raise babies.
Yes, Janeway was right that Seven is a logical person to bond with the young Borg, given her experiences as a youth in the Collective and the fact that they now trust her. But she's not the only logical person - Seven herself suggested Neelix, who has proven to be an excellent nurturing figure with Naomi, and we know that both Tuvok and the Doctor enjoyed being parents. Everyone on the crew who likes children should want to help the new kids feel at home, given that to date, Naomi's been the only baby on board. I'd think people like Ayala and Carey who lost their own families would be breaking down the doors of sickbay to get to hold the infant.
Instead, it seems that we're going to get one more chapter in the ongoing development of Seven of Nine, while Chakotay (another man who's shown willingness to raise a child) is limited to playing poker, and Harry's stuck with thankless away mission tasks. These aren't the voyages of the starship Voyager: this is the voyage of one Borg drone whom the writers have determined is a ratings draw, and it doesn't seem to matter if everyone else is given the short shrift.
I'm not complaining about Jeri Ryan, who gave a fine performance in "Collective." Her chemistry with the awkward children was believable, and I liked her scenes with Janeway explaining that not all drones can be saved. But Seven's the only character on this show with a consistent past and any real future. Three weeks ago we learned that the Doctor had had a child - tell us how he felt about that! Tell us how Chakotay felt when he learned that Seska's son wasn't his, tell us how Janeway felt holding a Borg baby when in all likelihood she will be too old to have a child by the time she gets her crew home. There are eight other major cast members and several recurring faces. For us to care about Seven of Nine, we have to care at least a little about the people who surround her.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.