In which Seven gets a Trojan, Tuvok relies on faith healing, and the Doctor forgets about a major recognized treatment for mental degeneration.
While regenerating, Seven hears the echoing screams of hundreds if not thousands of voices. This is unusual, as it wakes her up in the middle of her cycle to go wandering the cargo bay in search of their source. We get a creepy stalking tracking shot, and some very unusual body language before we see her tear apart the mess hall looking for meat. This is because her reflection is that of a Klingon. If I were to guess, I’d say that they either found a borg signal that’s carrying personalities, or that her implant carries some RAID-style striping for other drones and she never purged the backups.
Life goes on for the rest of Voyager. Harry has found a debris field from a ruined Borg cube in their path. Janeway’s plan is to alter course to avoid it, and Neelix reports the unknown ravaging of his mess hall, in order to ask permission to lock the cabinets. He had to ask permission to do that. They can’t be that hard-up for energy, so I imagine that the mess hall has been adopted as a communal space.
Naomi Wildman is now playing spy with Seven, who doesn’t know she’s part of this. Naomi is not really good at tailing someone, but when confronted, Naomi has an adorable explanation – by emulating Seven, she hopes to become perfect so that Janeway will make the kid Bridge Assistant. Seven explains that this is admirable but not feasible, but in the middle of the conversation another wave of screams passes by and she becomes a bubbly kid-personality and they go to play a board game. Naomi, still trying to impress Seven and having not twigged to the personality change, brags about knowing all 47 sub-orders of the Prime Directive. It’s only when Torres calls her repeatedly that Seven snaps out of it.
The call is to discuss a borg energy signature that Torres has found. It’s a neural interlink signal, used to link Borg drones. She’s already putting the plot together, but of course another wave hits before she can explain fully, and now she’s the Klingon again, and finds Torres to be an interesting conundrum, and very attractive. They scuffle, which Torres does not find at all amusing, and then runs when security shows up. They catch her in the corridor with force fields, by which time she’s turned back into the child personality, Meryl. The next wave of screams reveals a member of Vulcan high command, but that lasts about ten seconds before the Klingon takes over and Tuvok has to stun her.
The Neural Interlink beacon seems like a really important thing to have a redundant power cell on. I would also imagine there are fozens of them spaced throughout the cube, so that any one attack can’t knock out the Borg ability to communicate. I do find it a little strange they’re set up as a hub-and-spoke network rather than a local intranet. It does mesh with the hierarchical nature we’ve seen after the introduction of the Queen though.
Now that analytical adults have observed the problem, the Doctor’s able to adjust Seven’s settings to exclude the signal, and show her the thirteen overlaying neural patterns which are stored in her implants, and which the beacon is bringing out. They evidently can’t escape because the beacon signal permeates subspace, and therefore Seven will always have this condition literally forever until all the Borg are destroyed. No? Okay, just this one beacon, then. That makes sense, I’m sure.
After brushing off Neelix trying to be helpful, Seven does accept a drawing from Naomi on her way to reviewing her regeneration logs and finding a personal log form an Ensign Blackwood, assimilated 13 years ago. Some other letters home, including a species that I don’t recognize by the description.
They’ve found the beacon. A ‘vinculum’ it sits at the heart of a Borg ship, linking all the drones together and running the Collective as a proxy-queen. As a single point of failure, it kind of negates some of the scary stuff we saw in the Enterprise‘s first fight with the Borg, in its total decentralization. As it’s malfunctioning, they’ll have to take it apart and shut it down.
Unsurprisingly, getting close to the Vinculum allows it to start overriding Seven’s blocker. It also has several safeguards, and on scans it turns out there’s an intruder. A virus which was “originally biological” and has mutated to attack the software instead because apparently cocaine is a hell of a drug. At least Torres shows the proper amount of skepticism. This Vinculum was infected three days ago, after assimilating some aliens from Species 6639.
Species 6639 was encountered four years ago, and in that time the Borg have assimilated 11 billion of them, and cataloged 1,833 more species. This shuttle was one of the last surviving, carried the pathogen, and trojan-horsed the cube. Janeway wants to go find what’s left of 6639 and get Seven treated, because inhabitants of the Delta quadrant who have encountered the Borg in the past have always shown themselves to be willing to overcome their hated of the Borg before. It’s about now that the inhibitor goes offline and Seven manifests a decidedly mercantile personality.
I didn’t want to stereotype, but it is, in fact, DaiMon Torad, a Ferengi. Interestingly, he doesn’t seem to notice any bodily dysmorphia. He’s also very disdainful of Voyager‘s sick bay, although that’s clearly just a sales tactic. Worse and worse, apparently Seven’s native brain patterns are destablizing, so there’s no guarantee of getting her back.
Fun fact. The Ferengi are Species 180. The Borg didn’t like the taste of them that much, apparnetly. Not enough to trace that merchant scouter back home, at any rate. Other fun fact: Seven has grown as an individual to the point where being submerged in a collective is no longer merely undesired, but frightening. Oh no wait, what’s the opposite of fun? And Janeway is even starting to have second thoughts about integrating Seven into the crew, just because she’s having a bit of trouble. I’m not impressed with her leadership skills.
Torres has managed to try bringing down the Vinculum, and it’s working slowly, but one of those safety measures hits and it starts bouncing back. In the power surge, Seven’s personality is no longer in her body, and the Doctor says she’s already gone. Of course, there’s fifteen minutes left, so Janeway’s still going to go look for the species that Seven already explained is basically genocided by the Borg. Seven’s body is stable for now, but the personalities are switching so fast that she can’t even finish a sentance so Tuvok offers to mind-meld. The fact that he calls this ‘beyond medical science’ is worrying, though. Also that the Doctor calls this known and documented ability as ‘Vulcan Mumbo-Jumbo’.
They’ve found a ship of Species 6639, and unsurprisingly, they created the virus as a weapon to try to destroy the Borg. The idea was to spread that virus from Vinculum to Vinculum as the Borg went to investigate what killed them. The 6639 ambassador is not hostile to Janeway for having a Borg, but neither is he in a mood to help. It’s going to be a difficult negotiation.
The Doctor has managed to isolate Seven’s personality and keep her stable for the length of a conversation, long enough to propose the mind meld. Seven accedes, after being assured that Tuvok doesn’t believe himself to be at risk. She also makes sure to leave a final message to the crew, if she doesn’t survive.
As Tuvok prepares for hte meld, the two ships square off for tentative battle. Tuvok refuses any safety measures the Doctor offers, and commences the meld. Seven’s mind is, unsurprisingly, a crowd of rabble aboard a Borg ship. It’s also sort of fascinating that this Vinculum has mostly been throwing personalities of species we recognize at Seven. It’s suggested that this cube was at Wolf 359, or at least that one of the drones aboard it was assimilated there. Of course, that cube was destroyed, which in turn means that this personality was beamed back to the Collective and is still floating around the BorgNet. Death is no escape, if you’re assimilated.
Tuvok catches sight of Seven in the crowd, being dragged back into obliviion, and he leaves a screaming crying child-personality to the throng. Meanwhile, Voyager is not doing a great job in the fight, Seven is destabilizing, but Torres may have gotten the Vinculum to stop fighting back. There’s a rough moment when Voyager loses power, but eventually they get it powered down, and in Seven’s mind the crowd disappears just before she’d have been thrown down a bottomless shaft in her mind. Once done, Janeway orders the Vinculum beamed into space, and the battle is done. It takes Seven a week to recover, but she’s back on her feet and not sure how to deal with all these icky feelings of gratitude.
She’s decided to start with teaching Naomi to be a good bridge assistant.