In which I have a new contender for most hated episode.
Voyager destyoys an orbital platform over a planet. It was a heavily shielded target bouey, as part of a weapons deal. Janeway wants to buy this impressive weapons data, in exchange for their astrometric charts. Their dealer states that, as these become useless quickly due to new anomalies, he’ll accept the technology to create them. This suggests that a lot of what the helm does includes avoiding these things, and in turn that a lot of what Starfleet does in peacetime is to maintain the maps of their spaceways. Finally, an explanation for why the Enterprise spent every waking moment sticking its dish into negative-space wedgies.
Of course, Janeway can’t offer those astrometric sensors, since they won’t work with any ship but Voyager, but throws some isolinear chips. Janeway orders Seven to help with the tech integration, having evidently forgiven her for her Hirogen insubordination. Seven has been working on decoding, and does not like working with the arms dealer Covin, who already knows enough about Voyager‘s design to know exactly where they need to place integration points. Covin doesn’t quite hold to Federation protocol, and also raises his voice at Seven and manhandles her until she palm-strikes him right in the face.
This will clearly put a crimp in the relationship, but Torres stands up for Seven, as much as is warranted. Now comes the disciplinary hearing. Of course, now Janeway knows that traditional discipline won’t work on Seven, so she asks for Seven’s opinions on how best to discipline her. At this stage it’s like asking a four-year-old if they’re Making Good Choices. The Doctor also appeals to her from an Insane Perfectionist perspective. During the discussion and checkup, he finds medical evidence that she’s ‘tense.’ And during the further exam, she gets a flashback to a more invasive exam, and a sudden attack of claustrophobia.
Once she’s sedated and examined further, the Doctor finds evidence of memories which have been chemically blocked. The Doctor is eager to try out the new psychotherapy programs he’s been working on, and begins to deploy a combination of Jungian/Someone From Betazed memory Regression techniques. He takes her back to the exam table first, and her panic attack. Covin grabbing her also makes an appearance, and then in her memory he zaps her with some sort of instrument to steal nanoprobes from her against her will.
This must have happened when Seven was testing weapons with him on the planet surface, so they go deeper. They started out using rifle-sized weapons in an outdoor range, starting with a rifle with a 10km range, inaccurate and super useful on a ship. I would take this moment to remind everyone that if your primary mode of fighting is on space ships, there is an upper limit to both the range and the destructive power you actually want at your disposal. Covin offered to do the requested calibrations, and took Seven with him, where he shot her with a thoron weapon and blacked her out. Upon waking, she was being restrained to a table and her Borg tech extracted, including taking off her Borg Eyebrow and milking her Assimilation Tubules, which is less sexy than you might think. They then injected those nanprobes into another patient, turning him Borg with alarming speed. After this test, he blanked her memory and woke her up as if nothing had happened.
Janeway sets up for a full investigation, and in doing due dilligence we discover there is no physical evidence her story is true. There are ways for that evidence to have been removed, and the Doctor is going to bat for her completely while Tuvok plays Devil’s Advocate, and Janeway brings the complaint to Covin, who derides it as a negotiating tactic and does all but brag about his swimming record. He’s certainly holding the trade deal hostage to end the investigation, but Janeway calls the bluff.
Next, Covin tries to play on Tuvok’s sympathies, by claiming he has nobody to go to bat for him the way the crew is going to bat for Seven. As a trade world, their justice system will ruin him for even the accusation of this kind of violation because they depend on their reputation among outsiders. Knowing that, you’d think he’d have not violated Seven like that, or else rushed through the negotiations with as little haggling as possible in order to make sure they were gone by the time the space-roofies wore off.
The Doctor tries to make sure Seven is not emotionally scarred by this encounter, or rather to make sure she can deal with the fallout. In so doing, first he has to take her to where those feelings live. From a theraputic perspective, the Doctor may know that this is necessary based on his new therapy subroutines. It would, however, probably be sensible to set up precautions so that a righteously-pissed-off ex-Borg can heal without jeopardizing the ship. Especially since the Doctor seems to be endorsing revenge just a bit.
The Doctor, Tuvok, the Magistrate, and Covin examine his laboratory, where he has an excuse for everything, including the nanoprobe residue on his table, but not once it’s clear that the nanoprobes are active. At that point, still protesting his innocence, he holds everyone else at gunpoint and beams away to his getaway ship. Janeway takes the magistrate on board and heads into pursuit of the guy who deals in shipkiller weapons. He fires on Voyager, taking the sensors offline, and disappears. I kind of worry about a blackout-inducing beam that might be used to keep everyone stunned long enough to take more nanoprobes – or Seven.
While Voyager pursues, Janeway and Tuvok examine all the equipment from Covin’s lab, and they don’t find anything conclusive, beyond the regenerated nanoprobes. Following that train, they proceed to test the effect of a thoron blast on Seven’s nanoprobes and skin to see if they can rule that out as causing the effect they saw. And it can, indeed, regenerate nanoprobes. The critical piece of evidence is no longer as certain as we thought, forcing Janeway to wonder if this is all a real memory, and Seven goes off the rails, citing the Doctor’s poor phrasing.
When they reach Covin’s ship again, Janeway tries to hail him and apologize, but he’s too terrified for his future and reputation to believe it isn’t a trap, and opens fire. Janeway won’t return fire and they try to beam him off to talk him down, but he’s too well armed, overcharges his weapons, and blows up rather than surrender. Everyone’s really sad about him exploding, and Janeway gives Seven a Stern Look that says ‘you should have kept your mouth shut, you were probably asking for it too’ because that’s what Voyager does with its allegories. It gives you the precisely wrong message, pretty much every time.
The Doctor records an after-action log just as Seven shows up for weekly maintenance. She’s still bothered by Covin’s death, as is the Doctor, and they discuss how she can stop feeling guilty for believing she was raped. The Doctor, meanwhile, figures out what in his program made this happen to earmark it for deletion, blaming the whole situation on his zeal for patient advocacy. Janeway refuses to let that happen, forcing the Doctor to live with his mistakes and learn from them, pivoting the whole thing from being about victim advocacy to being about how the victim is just a prop for the Doctor. I didn’t think the moral could get worse, but it did.