The GiftBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 3:07 PM GMT
See Also: 'The Gift' Episode Guide
While Seven of Nine resists all attempts to bring out her human side and demands to be returned to the Borg Collective, the Doctor discovers that, as her human immune system emerges, he must remove most of her Borg implants or she will die. During her work in Sickbay, Kes discovers that her latent telekinetic powers are growing exponentially; she can make equipment fly across the room, and disintegrate microscopic implants on brain cells through the power of her thoughts. Captain Janeway attempts to help both women understand what is happening to them, but while she can empathize, she can't really help either of them find themselves.
Though she attempts to contact the Collective and escape from her humanity, Seven of Nine ultimately has no choice but to attempt to integrate with Voyager's crew. Meanwhile, Kes, so powerful that her presence puts the ship at risk, leaves voluntarily - sending the ship out of Borg space, ten thousand light years closer to home. It's a bittersweet farewell, in both cases, as both women confront Janeway about the question of their freedom as individuals.
I expected to hate this episode for a number of reasons - Kes leaving, the new Borg babe getting fully entrenched in the crew - so I was surprised and delighted at how complex and moving I found it to be. At its core, this was a female coming-of-age story. The two main characters are both adolescents, with the bodies of grown women but the experiences of very young girls, and both are just beginning to learn about who they are. I loved that they had someone like Janeway to talk to, and that, in this episode, she could admit that she doesn't have all the answers, some of her decisions are arbitrary, she can't always know the best course for her entire crew. Yet she's still the best authority around, and she knows when to step back. This is the Janeway of first season Voyager; I've really missed her.
"The Gift" may have focused on Kes and Seven of Nine, but it was a fantastic Janeway episode - possibly the best one Voyager has ever done. Most of the previous Janeway stories have not focused on her in her role as captain. She was off the ship working alone in "Time and Again" and "Resistance"; "Persistence of Vision" was about her loss of control, "Resolutions" about her loss of Voyager, "Coda" about her loss of life. We've seen her as a more emotional person on the holodeck than dealing with live people, so it was illuminating to see her dealing with losing a good friend and gaining an unwilling passenger. I really, really loved watching Janeway the control freak deal with two upstart kids on their own terms - a vast improvement over her artificial brats from the Victorian holonovel. Kathryn should try living in the real world more often.
Many of the more neglected characters of Voyager had great scenes this episode, like Tuvok - who was more Vulcan than he's been in a season - and Doc, who didn't seem as concerned about Kes as I would have expected, but who brought some much needed comic relief. The scene between Neelix and Kes in which they discussed their breakup seemed like too little, too late. They dated for more than a year, yet the level of interaction remained pathetically superficial - these two considered having a child together once! We should have seen more evidence of that bond, even if their romantic relationship ended. Chakotay didn't get to do or say much about anything, but after recent events, I'm not sure he deserves to.
I absolutely can't stand her costume, and I hate her artificial breasts and her runway model walk and her platinum hair. That said, I like Seven of Nine a great deal. She and Janeway play beautifully off each other: both very strong, but they couldn't be more different in style. The chemistry's electric. Janeway's very verbal, deceptively soft, while Seven's physically aggressive, sparing with her words and gestures, tough as nails no matter how she's suffering. Jeri Ryan does a fantastic job convincing me of the character's pain while in no way diminishing her power. To hell with Chakotay; Seven makes a more interesting foil for Janeway, ideologically and personally. Or at least, she will until the writers inevitably get around to reducing the new babe to the characteristics for which they ostensibly brought her on the show: the ones which protrude in front of 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.