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The Trek Nation - Infinite Regress

Infinite Regress

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:56 PM GMT

See Also: 'Infinite Regress' Episode Guide

As Seven of Nine regenerates, she hears alien voices and stops the cycle, then heads to the empty mess hall, where she throws food around before finding a slab of meat. As she devours it, she sees her reflection: she looks like a Klingon. In the briefing room the next morning, Harry explains that they have encountered a large debris field; Seven identifies the debris as Borg, so Janeway suggests giving it a wide berth. Seven finds Naomi Wildman spying on her when she leaves; she begins to lecture the girl on her lessons, but suddenly becomes childlike herself and asks Naomi to play with her. During the course of their games, Seven announces that she has twelve brothers and she hates the Borg, but a summons from Torres brings her back to herself abruptly.

Torres has traced the Borg signal and wants Seven's assistance in identifying it; Seven says that it's the frequency used by the Borg to unify the minds of drones. Suddenly the ex-Borg hears voices again and begins speaking Klingon; when Torres asks if this is a joke concocted by Paris, Seven grabs her and bites her neck. She then rampages through the ship and is stopped by security on Deck 10, where Tuvok finds her cowering, a little girl again. On the way to sickbay she takes on the personality of a Vulcan, then turns back into a Klingon, but he subdues her. When she awakens, Seven tells the captain and the Doctor that she's hearing voices in her head and does not remember her actions. Tuvok informs her that she tried to start a Klingon mating ritual with Torres but the Doctor shows them all that it wasn't Seven; there are several other neural patterns in her cerebral cortex, the formerly dormant patterns of people she assimilated as a Borg. It's the Borg equivalent of multiple personality disorder.

Seven realizes that the signal from the debris is the source of her problems. She and the Doctor realize that she's the one who has been raiding the mess, and find several logs she recorded while different personalities controlled her brain, including a scared ensign and a lustful woman. In the debris, Seven finds an active Borg viniculum, the device which purges individual Borg thoughts and makes the drones integrate. Janeway reluctantly permits Seven to beam it onboard, where the crew discovers that this viniculum has been infected with a virus: a synthetic pathogen is making it attack Borg technology. Through research they are able to discover that Species 6639, nearly destroyed by the Borg, sent one of their few surviving shuttlecraft to the Borg ship and transmitted the disease to make the drones destroy themselves. Janeway suggests tracking down the 6639s, but encounters difficulty when Seven transforms into a Ferengi and starts negotiating.

Janeway meets a frightened Starfleet mother, a Krenim scientist, and a Bolian before she leaves Seven, and tells Chakotay that perhaps he was right all those months ago: she can take Seven out of the Collective but she can't take the Collective out of Seven. Chakotay says he thinks Janeway is wrong: Seven is a part of the crew now. Torres tries to use a dampening field on the viniculum but it adapts, sending Seven into convulsions and ultimately dissolving her own personality under those she assimilated. A 6639 vessel appears on long-range scanners and Janeway asks them for help, but their only concern is retrieving the viniculum they worked so hard to infect, sacrificing 13 of their own people to carry the disease to the Collective. Janeway says she'll let them have the weapon back once Seven is saved, but they want it right away and threaten to blow up Voyager to get it.

As the aliens prepare to attack, Tuvok suggests a mind-meld with Seven to retrieve her personality. The Doctor insists that it's too risky, but Janeway and Tuvok both ignore his rants about Vulcan mumbo-jumbo. In the meld, Tuvok is trapped in a mass of bodies - Human, Klingon, Bolian, alien, young old - and sees Seven similarly trapped. Torres' dampening field starts to work, but the ship takes damage in the battle and they nearly lose Tuvok and Seven as her implants start to fail. But the engineer gets the viniculum offline, and Tuvok and Seven find themselves alone in the meld, the voices silent. The Doctor reports that the other brain patters are dormant again.

Janeway orders the viniculum beamed into space, then heads away quickly as the aliens retrieve it. Seven tells her she is grateful that the crew risked themselves for her and goes to Naomi Wildman, who promises to teach her the games they played.

Analysis:

Score two for two on Borg episodes this season. There were a lot of little internal inconsistencies in here (assimilated Krenim, assimilated Ferengi, assimilated human children - Seven could not have been everywhere in the galaxy in her short life even with transwarp drive), but Jeri Ryan gave excellent performances as the various multiple personalities, and the Doctor and Tuvok were well-used. I got a huge kick out of Seven biting Torres even if it was an obvious titillation ploy for the boyz in the audience, and I liked the little-girl persona even if I groaned inwardly at Naomi's "I want to be you, and then I want to be the captain" speeches - didn't we get enough of the precious-kid thing with Wesley, Molly, etc.? The last thing Seven needs is hero-worship...and I REALLY hope someone explains to Naomi that she does NOT have to endeavor to have a body which can wear that catsuit, nor those heels which necessitate a runway walk.

While I was impressed both by Seven's plight and by the scientific rationale for it - though a similar problem was used to greater effect in the excellent Pocket Books novel Seven of Nine from earlier this year - I didn't like the Doctor using the phrase "multiple personality disorder." Considering that he didn't appear to believe that either Janeway or Torres was suffering from depression earlier this season when they were both depondent, I'm surprised to learn he has any training in mental health at all, and given the lightness with which mental illness has been treated by this series, I really did NOT think it was funny for him to joke about an alien suffering from such a condition. I was therefore pleased that both Janeway and Tuvok ignored him completely when they elected to try a meld; the Doctor has objected to every meld Tuvok has ever proposed, and while the one in "Meld" in fact had unforeseen consequences, the ones in "Ex Post Facto" and "Flashback" turned out to be lifesavers. One meld a season is about all that's plausible so I am realizing that this device from Classic Trek has actually been used really well by this series.

I thought it was very odd that Janeway told Chakotay - on the bridge, not even in private - that she was willing to give up on Seven so quickly. Chakotay didn't give up on Seven or Kathryn nearly as fast, which was nice to see given his general level of apathy this season. Torres came across as smart and competent in her limited scenes here, and I VERY much like the new aliens: I suspect that both they and their weapon may recur later this season when the Borg return for a sweeps two-parter...though it was bizarre that Janeway let them keep a weapon designed to destroy the Collective one ship at a time, after Picard rejected a similar plan on TNG...but then, Picard was not lost in the Delta Quadrant, and this was an indigenous weapon so the Prime Directive might have dictated noninterference even if Voyager got there first.

Obviously I'm still thinking about this episode, which speaks very well of the ideas it generated. It probably got eaten alive in the ratings, being aired the night before Thanksgiving; I don't understand why "Once Upon a Time" showed up in mid-November and this gem got buried.

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


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.