In which we anthropomorphize the Borg twice.
When last we left our Intrepid-class heroes, they were going to try to sneak past the Borg, but discovered a species of aliens even more genocidal. When they tried to make a deal with the Borg, a sudden attack delayed the negotiating process. Also, Harry Kim is dying from alien diseases. Again. As Voyager is towed along at warp (stationary relative to the Cube) they try to beam Janeway out, but the Borg are scattering the beam. This, at least, establishes that merely engaging the transporters while at warp is not inherently dangerous so long as the relative velocities of the two endpoints are moving slowly relative to each other.
The Borg are hailed by Janeway, who’s standing in front of some terrible greenscreening and tells them to stop trying to beam her out. Evidently, negotiations have been ongoing, and Janeway has achieved safe passage. Voyager will begin developing the weapon, and the Borg will grant them safe passage. Janeway, however, has to stay on the Cube while the work goes on. It’s not a great deal, but it’s better than they had any right to expect from a ravenous tech-junkie embroiled in a losing battle.
The Doctor has replicated about ten million nanoprobes (chalk up another datapoint for the replicator capabilities) and programmed them all to be able to attack the alien, resistant cells of Species 8472. The nanoprobes are programmed to denature the alien cells and then stop what they were doing before they turn Harry into a Borg. Looks like it works pretty well, although the dose is only good for a small region of his face.
The Doctor is keeping all files local in case of a Borg betrayal, which fundamentally misunderstands the chain of events they’re worried about. If the Borg attack Voyager to get the data and the Doctor deletes himself, they have no reason to stop anymore. This is only helpful if the research presents some kind of threat to the Federation, in which case giving it over to the Borg at all seems like a bad call. Perhaps the point is that the Borg can only be trusted with it if they prove faithful to their word.
Tuvok beams over, and the Borg release Voyager to fly under her own power. The Devil you know, I guess. While Kes preps another load of nanoprobes, she gets a vision of of a… you know, I can’t really use the species designation as a singular, so I’m gonna go with Tripotaur. Tripod-centaur. Remember, Species 8472 are telepathic, and apparently they’re watching Voyager.
On the way to their workstation, Janeway and Tuvok discuss their readings, and determine that Species 8472 and their ships are made of the same tissue. Based on this, they want to work up a large-scale delivery system to assimilate/denature the ships, not just the Tripotaur crew. However, once they get to their workspace, the Borg hold them down and try to inject them with temporary uplinks, to get the work done faster. The Borg refuse to listen to Janeway, but she proposes a compromise of a chosen drone representative to communicate with. I’m not sure how that would be suitable for the Borg’s needs, but it does introduce us to another Borg quasi-individual. Meet Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unamatrix 01, and probably the main reason I liked this show as an adolescent.
Seven of Nine introduces itself in the singular with pretty much every other first-person pronoun it uses. On behalf o the Borg, it agrees that a nanoprobe torpedo sounds like a good idea. It also seems offended at the suggestion that the Borg wouldn’t have something more useful than Voyager‘s torpeodes. They have mines capable of affecting an entire star system. This leads me to the question – which species the Borg assimilated had these, and why did they lose, or does ‘bigger’ not represent the kind of qualitative difference that Part 1 of this episode flat-out told us that the Borg can’t bridge for themselves? The mines will disperse the nanoprobes across five light-years, but require so many nanoprobes that the further delay. Seven of Nine dismisses Janeway’s refusal to think in terms of WMDs as inefficient, but after communing with the rest of the collective capitulates that it’s tactically necessary. Some pretty good face work in there, too. As of now, Voyager has 32 class-VI torpedoes, each with 200 isoton yields. The work must begin.
Kes is getting further telepathic visions, and Species 8472 are gradually battering down her defenses. The Doctor suspects that this might be for a purpose other than threatening them with genocide some more. Aboard the Borg cube, Janeway realizes that Seven of Nine used to be human, 18 years ago. Chakotay calls in to keep Janeway appraised, and the two ships alter course. Seven of Nine threatens to attack Voyager if they won’t help construct a prototype, but it loses the staredown with Janeway.
Harry’s all healed up from being eaten by Tripotaur microbes and ready for duty, just as Team Voyager runs into a portal singularity. The Tripotaur ship targets Voyager, but the Borg cube swoops in to take the shot, and significant damage, to save the nanoprobes. It even collides with the bioship, suicidally, to protect Voyager, while beaming Tuvok, Janeway, and a Borg Drone research to safety into cargo bay 2. by the time the security team gets there, the drones have converted the cargo bay into a drone docking station. For the furtherance of the Alliance.
Chakotay ordered a lockdown, security, and all manner of security. And Janeway is in rough shape – an energy blast which somehow came from the alien ship through the Borg docking station and hit her in the face is now disrupting her brain functions, because even lightning from their weapons is somehow deadlier than other weapons-lightning effects.
Things are tense down in the cargo bay as the Borg Manufactorum whirs on, and Chakotay introduces himself to Seven of Nine. Seven of nine is no longer willing to adhere to the original agreement, as the war will be lost before they reach the edge of Borg space. Instead, they require a five-day trip into Borg territory to deliver the nanoprobes. Seven is also channeling some anger from the Borg at the refusal of these insignificant individuals to defy the might of the borg. Chakotay’s counter-plan is to drop the drones and the weapon off on an uninhabited planet and scarper. He explains this to Seven of Nine, who disagrees. It counters that the humans are being unreasonable, conflicted, and wishy-washy.
The war goes on, and the Borg’s resistance to Species 8472 continues to prove futile. The Voyager drones discuss the tactical situation, and determine that the only course of action is to take control of Voyager and take it through a singularity to the ‘alien realm.’ They escape the cargo bay by the simple expedient of opening a hatch that nobody bothered to lock. Good job, Chakotay. Way to enforce that border policy. Just before Chakotay can beam the Borg down to a habitable moon, Seven of Nine finishes fixing the deflector to open up a singularity. Chakotay depressurizes the cargo bay, as he said he would, but Seven has managed to avoid being sucked out of the ship, and Voyager enters the alien side of the rift.
What they find on the other side is a space full of matter. They’re swimming around in an organic fluid, Fluidic Space. The entry of a ship into Fluidic Space will have created a shockwave alerting Species 8472 to their arrival. Oh, and definitely focus so hard on ‘oh fiddlesticks, what do we do now’ that you forget to ask yourself how the Borg know how to make these portals, since, again, we’ve been told they can’t actually infer knowledge via science.
To his credit, Chakotay does ask the question, and when Seven of Nine refuses to answer, he realizes that the Borg are the invaders here, fighting back against the pale imperialist conquerors. The Borg wanted to assimilate Species 8472 because they’re the most ‘superior’ form of biological life known to the Collective. Seven of Nine wants to keep the ship here to construct and test some nanoprobe torpedoes, and no help is on the way. In fact, it’s cut off from the collective. And in further good news, Janeway is awake. And pissed.
I do feel compelled to point out that for all Janeway’s paranoia about Chakotay’s motives, he did only find out about the Borg’s aggressor status after he defied her orders and broke the Borg treaty. They are a command staff divided, but eventually Janeway decides that they need to come to an understanding, so she puts Chakotay in the brig. Maybe this is just to get the alliance back in place. When Janeway is back in command, she orders full cooperation with Seven of Nine, and to prep the ship for war.
In two hours, they’ve managed to outfit the hull with quite a lot of Borg modifications. They’ve got 13 modified torpedoes, plus one with a high-yield warhead, and just in time for a squadron of four bioships swimming through fluidic space. They hail Voyager through Kes, stating that Voyager has contaminated their realm with its presence. Janeway tries to negotiate, but Species 8472 is just all about the genocide. Galacticide?
The warheads don’t seem to work at first, but it turns out the assmilation takes only a few seconds. With this successful test, Seven of Nine opens an escape singularity, into a whole fleet of bioships this time. Good thing they made a high-yield warhead. Janeway orders it fired from the aft torpedo bay, which suggests to me that Voyager has a central torpedo storage and they can shuttle them around to any launcher they want within tactical time. That’s a really useful ability to have in this exact situation. Voyager takes a hit from the same laser that crippled a Borg cube, and keeps on trucking. Their high-yield torpedo does the trick, and Seven of Nine confirms through the link that the bioships are retreating.
Unsurprisingly, the moment the Borg are no longer threatened, they terminate the alliance, and use Seven of Nine to take over the ship, at which point Janeway reveals that she didn’t actually double-cross Chakotay and throw him in the brig. He’s been standing by with a neural uplink ready to go, tapping directly into Seven of Nine and trying to trigger its human roots as the little girl Annika. This is as a distraction while Torres sends a power surge through the link and burns out Seven of Nine’s link to the collective. Chakotay’s hurt, but will live, and they cart the drone off to Sick Bay to try to deborgify it.
Janeway ends this ordeal in the holodeck, in Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop, writing her long by hand with a quill and paper. The crew is working on removing all the borg enhancements that don’t help, and Seven of Nine is slowly turning back into a human. They’ll keep her around, once she’s no longer an it, and try to re-socialize her.