Unimatrix Zero, Part TwoBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 13, 2004 - 11:13 PM GMT
See Also: 'Unimatrix Zero, Part Two' Episode Guide
"Unimatrix Zero Part II" Plot Summary:
On the Queen's cube following their assimilation, Tuvok and Torres find Janeway in the central plexus, where Torres plants the virus designed to disrupt the hive mind and trigger insurrection. She is successful, but Tuvok's neural suppressants wear off and he begins to hear the voice of the Collective. Though he asks Janeway to deactivate him for their safety, she insists that he must stay focused, and when he cannot, the Queen accesses all of the Vulcan's knowledge...including Voyager's command codes.
Meanwhile Seven enters Unimatrix Zero as she regenerates. She is uncomfortable with Chakotay calling the Borg there her friends, and even more so when ex-Klingon drone Korok refers to Axum as her mate. Korok says it's obvious that Seven's heart is in conflict, so he offers "advice from a warrior in the bedchamber as well as the battlefield," suggesting that she treat her heart as an enemy so she won't be compromised by it. Seven is happy to comply, though she manages to get herself caught in a trap set for the Queen's drones, allowing Axum to rescue her Tarzan-style. When she later tells the Doctor that her past attraction upsets her, the Doctor says Axum must be a worthwhile partner or she wouldn't have chosen him -- and that he's a very lucky man.
Paris visits Chakotay in the ready room, noting that with Chakotay in command and Tuvok off the ship, he is the acting first officer -- and as such, he thinks Chakotay should recall the away team. Chakotay says a first officer can get into trouble for talking to his captain that way, but asks for Paris' support in seeing the mission through. When the Queen uses Tuvok's access codes to lower Voyager's shields and blow a hole in the hull, Chakotay realizes they have no choice but to retreat for the time being, and despite his concerns, Paris reverses course.
The Queen realizes she cannot hear hundreds, then thousands of Borg voices. When she checks the central plexus, she discovers that the drones have been disconnected from hive mind. Summoning a holographic projection of a human-looking Janeway, the Queen shows the captain the destruction of dozens of cubes where the scourge of individuality has spread. The Queen says that Voyager is causing great suffering, forcing hundreds of thousands of innocent drones to die. As a Starfleet officer who values life, Janeway must be distressed; "How many more are you willing to sacrifice? Thousands, millions?" The Queen then asks Janeway to serve as her ambassador to persuade the rebel Borg to stop their insurrection, since they are now individuals and can make that choice. Janeway instead suggests that the Queen visit Unimatrix Zero herself.
Korok wants to strike at the heart of the Collective to stop the Queen's destruction of the cubes, but Seven insists that they must rescue the Voyager away team first, and Axum agrees. He has kept his memories of life outside Unimatrix Zero for the first time, and now knows he's on a scout ship exploring borders of fluidic space in the Beta Quadrant. Seven says she's sorry they may never meet in the real world, and kisses him. Elsewhere in Unimatrix Zero, the Queen arrives and tries to convince a child that assimilation is nothing to be afraid of. When she returns to her cube, she tells Janeway she has no idea why anyone would prefer the crude environment of Unimatrix Zero to Borg perfection.
The Queen has a new weapon: a version of Voyager's nanoprobe virus that targets mutated drones, killing them within minutes. Unless Janeway can convince the Borg in Unimatrix Zero to rejoin the Collective, the Queen will return to the cyber-frequency and release the deadly virus there herself. Janeway sends a holographic projection of herself to Voyager via Sickbay's holoemitters, telling Chakotay and Seven that the Borg will kill every drone who insists on remaining linked to Unimatrix Zero. "Unimatrix Zero can no longer exist. That's an order. Have I made myself clear, Commander?" she asks. Seven and the Doctor believe the captain intends to ask the drones to reassimilate, but Chakotay understands her underlying message: Janeway wants him to find a way to disrupt the Unimatrix Zero interlink frequency, dispersing the Borg who gather there -- with their individuality intact -- before the Queen can kill them.
From his Borg sphere, Korok greets Chakotay, explaining that his crew wants to join Voyager in battle. Together the vessels disrupt the interlink frequency and hold off the Queen's cube, putting an end to Unimatrix Zero -- though not before Seven and Axum say a final romantic goodbye. Surrounded by rebels, the Queen initiates the self-destruct of her own ship. "I don't compromise with Borg," Janeway tells her, just before her hologram vanishes as she, Tuvok and Torres beam back to Voyager. Though the away team will need time to recover, the Borg resistance is alive and kicking. So are Seven's emotions.
Overlooking some really cheap-looking visual effects and the excruciating Seven/Axum love story, "Unimatrix Zero Part II" is an improvement on Part I. Despite having her head shaved, Janeway rediscovers her sense of humor ("Captain!" "What's left of her."). Torres does some of her finest engineering despite the nanoprobes in her bloodstream. Chakotay and Paris argue Janeway-and-Chakotay-style about command decisions, also with a fair degree of humor. And Tuvok, the character we can usually expect to be boringly correct, nearly destroys Voyager's plans for the Borg when he can't keep his focus, despite having Vulcan mental disciplines the other assimilated crewmembers lack.
The once-invincible Borg have been demolished as villains, but that's been a long time coming, ever since Picard discovered in First Contact that their leader is a weak, trampy seductress who will let the ego she shouldn't have get in the way of protecting her Collective. Hence the oddness of the Queen restoring Janeway to her human appearance when she speaks as a hologram -- I suspect the reality is that the producers decided to spare Kate Mulgrew hours in hideous Borg makeup, but it's quite silly for the Queen to notice or care whether Janeway's happy with her new look.
The Queen sounds clever for awhile attacking Janeway's moral sense, insisting that the captain must be distressed at causing the deaths of thousands of drones who were once individuals and could be again. But then she makes the stupid tactical blunder of sending the captain on a diplomatic mission to her own vessel to stop the insurrection. Even without reading Janeway's mind, how could the Queen not suspect that the captain would have ways of getting a covert message to her crew, right under everyone's noses?
Poor Seven, meanwhile, turns into a girly-girl in Unimatrix Zero, reluctantly reviving her romance with the heroic but dull Axum while the Doctor pines beside her alcove. It is always amusing to hear the Doctor's revelations about which crewmembers suffer elevated heart rates and dilated pupils around which potential romantic interests: I'd love to hear his take on how Chakotay looks around Janeway, and how Janeway looks around Seven. Since the Doctor himself shows no outward signs of desire, Seven doesn't catch on to the subtle parallels when the Doctor says she must have chosen a relationship with Axum for the same reason she has chosen a friendship with himself. It's a bittersweet moment, much more touching than Seven's dopey race to regenerate in the middle of a battle so she can smooch once more with Drone Boy.
Speaking of whom: Axum suggests that, since he now knows he's on the border of fluidic space, he may contact Species 8472 to join the rebels in fighting the Borg. Seven thinks this is a fine idea. I realize Janeway and a handful of 8472 did some bonding several years ago in "In the Flesh," but Species 8472 are still a potentially deadly enemy -- they're the reason Voyager formed an alliance with the Borg in the first place! Giving them room to maneuver in order to weaken the already-crumbling Borg empire seems like very poor strategy.
Two of my favorite scenes involve the Queen. One's a silly brief moment when she tries to strangle Janeway, only to remember that the figure in front of her is merely holographic. The other takes place in Unimatrix Zero when Her Majesty tries to convince a child that being assimilated is fun. Think of all the friends he'll have, the instant popularity and understanding! It's a clever twist on anti-peer pressure ads directed at teens; someone should make a "Don't Do Drugs" spot featuring the Borg Queen.
'Shipper notes: Aside from the aforementioned Doc/Seven angst-fest, there's not much Paris/Torres romance in this episode since they're never onscreen together. Still, Tom's near-hysteria over the endangered away team more than makes up for that. There is some nice Janeway/Chakotay bonding, with him calling her Kathryn in the middle of their holographic conference in front of half the command crew, then getting the hidden meaning of the captain's message when even Seven couldn't. So most 'shippers should be pretty pleased with this episode -- unless anyone was counting on Seven realizing she couldn't love Axum because Kathryn means more to her now. I sort of expected it.
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.