VOY: S5E15b: “Dark Frontier: part 2”

In which Seven struggles with some genocidal habits. 

“Hey baby, you’d look pretty if you smiled less.”

So now here’s Seven, having voluntarily surrendered to the Borg queen in order to secure the escape of her shipmates, nor did she bother to tell Janeway or, as far as we know, leave a log. The Queen seems very disappointed at how fleshy and pink Seven has gotten. On the other hand, the Queen is also looking forward to reassimilating Seven for her experience of individuality, to the point of claiming credit for even putting Seven there to begin with. Then she tells Seven to go take a nap so they can discuss matters once she’s rested.

On Voyager, Chakotay reports a clean getaway to Janeway, brooding in Seven’s cargo bay. If the Queen was telling the truth, if only about letting Voyager go, it would be a neat new depth to the Borg, in that it would show that they could prioritize a new class of experience to assimilate over just some more tech and drones. It also makes one wonder why Seven would be qualitatively different from Hugh, whose reassimilation almost destroyed the collective. Janeway, of course, takes this as a personal betrayal, and while they’re fine with recycling most of the debris and salvage they got, she’s not even going to let Neelix temporarily unplug the regeneration alcove despite its constant drain on ships resources. Will it suddenly cease working forever if they just turn it off?

Because she’s taking it so personally, she’s digging into all the random sensor noise, but is able to make time for Naomi. Naomi wants to submit a rescue operation proposal. It relies on homing in on Seven’s cortical implant. Janeway assures Naomi that she’s not giving up on Seven, and the Computer then spits out an analysis of the subspace noise and confirms a Borg carrier wave.

When Seven wakes up, the Borg have ‘fixed’ her eyes and brain implants. Seven is displeased, but the Queen assures Seven that she needs Seven’s uniqueness now. Another Locutus-figure? In fact, the Queen wants Seven to help her assimilate humanity. By understanding them better, the Queen hopes that Seven will be the key to unlocking the secret of Humanity’s constant resistance. In order to help get her into the right state of mind, the Queen takes Seven to a mass assimilation.

“…And we’re not painting this one pink. Remember what happened the last time.”

In case you forgot, we’re also in the midst of flashbacks to Seven’s parents and their field work. Somehow they have perfected a means of abducting drones without being considered a threat. And by perfected, I mean ‘got it right the first time’ because this isn’t the kind of thing you get second chances at. The one they’ve just tagged is from Unamatrix 1, so he’s special enough to tag, which they do before beaming him back to wake up. Hopefully his regeneration won’t have been disrupted by taking him away from his charging station.

This flashback is by way of Chakotay proving that the Queen was in direct communication with Seven, which lets Janeway cling on to the hope that Seven doesn’t actually want to go back of her own free will. Chakotay warns against the same overconfidence that got the Hansens assimilated, but Janeway is confident they won’t make that mistake.

The Hansens have shielding that will make them nearly invisible and transporters that can punch through borg navigational shielding and hulls. Plus the transwarp coil built into the Delta Flier should get them to where they need to go. Chances are good it’ll burn out after this little sortie and Voyager won’t be much closer to home, but they will have saved humanity from a dubious fate that Janeway put them into the crosshairs for, so… a draw is almost as good as a win, right The Doctor has some misgivings, or apparently his holographic matrix isn’t suited for transwarp velocities somehow.

During the assimilation run, the Queen puts Seven on the spot, forcing her to make suggestions on how not to get blown up by the resistance forces. There’s an assurance that the Queen didn’t actually need Seven’s help, but nonetheless Seven has now participated, and shown the very primal human urge to survive at all costs. It’s an ugly realization, and the Queen decides to back off for a bit and let Seven deal with having just helped kill three hundred thousand people. She gets thrown around a little as explosions rock the ship, immediately treated by two drones, and then helps recapture a fleeing individual without thinking, only to watch him get zombified in front of her.

The Borg still do have ‘medical’ bays for performing gross surgeries. I assume that’s more efficient than letting nanoprobes do the work haphazardly. Seven stumbles into one and makes the decision to help some of the aliens escape. Because your instincts are how you were raised, but what you do afterwards is who you’re trying to become. The Queen, of course, has her philosophical line about bringing order to chaos, but then quickly goes into junkie talk about how good that distinctiveness feels coursing through the Borg mind-vein. The metaphor is imperfect, but Q started it.

The Queen has also noted the escaping individuals, and is bent on exterminating the last individuals of Species 10026, despite Seven’s insistence that it would be an inefficient use of resources. It is only when Seven begs that the Queen lets the ship go. For reasons all her own.

Flashback to the Raven, when their camo-shielding was briefly disabled, long enough for them to register as interesting to the Borg. Young Annika is frightened, as well she should be, since this is when she stops being human, give or take a coupe of days.

The Doctor has figured out a way to send a message to Seven, using her specific address. He says frequency, but obviously that’s insane. He’s a doctor, not a software engineer. However, it is exciting to note that even with trillions upon trillions, or even quadrillions of quadrillions, the Borg may still be on IPv6. His modifications will let them communicate only with Seven, even if she’s been connected to the hivemind. Don’t ask why the Borg would give each drone an internal firewall.

Paris has found the Sphere, in the middle of the Borg floating city with its popuation of trillions. They almost get windshielded by a Cube, but they are undetected and go looking for Seven. Seven is being given the task of designing a specific program for the nanoprobes to assimilate Species 5618 – humanity. For some reason, the Borg hologram of humanity includes underpants. The new Borg plan is to aerosolize Borg nanoprobes and detonate them in the atmosphere, but to make the nanoprobes assimilate slower than their virulence allows them to spread.

“Go to your room. Resistance of Futile.”

The Borg Queen came from Species 125. One wonders how she was chosen, whether there was a central processing coordinator before, and, inevitably, how the Borg initially made the leap to hivemind in the first place. The Queen gives Seven the ultimatum to help her program the virus or be assimilated, but Seven calls the bluff. The Queen has, however,  a better card to play. She has Seven’s parents.  That she just happened to have kept that drone around is really convenient. Either this was a really, really, really long plan in the making, or the Borg Light Rail served a purpose after all. Janeway’s communication comes through now, though, and gives Seven something to hang on to.

Because they have Magnus Hansen as a drone, the Queen is able to deduce that the Delta Flier has his cloaking shield. The Queen tries to bluff Seven, but she’s linked Seven into the hivemind enough that they have no secrets anymore. Until further notices, it’s now an action sequence, with Janeway leading the charge guns-a-blazing.

Borg force fields have shields on the outsides of their force fields. The Queen offers Seven one final chance to acquiesce to her viral programming, but Seven has made her decision. Janeway and Tuvok are able to spoof her RFID chip to get through the force field, which allows Janeway to show up to the Queen’s chamber just in time to threaten the Queen with both small arms and antimatter warheads. It comes to Seven in one of those let’s-see-who-the-puppy-goes-to scenes – Janeway wants Seven to shut down the transport scrambler, the Queen wants her not to. Seven made her decision, the Queen overrides it, and Seven overrides her override.

Tom punches the Flier into transwarp, and a single Borg scoutship makes it into the conduit behind them. Again, these conduits appear to open for a ship and close behind them, rather than being a bubble the ship takes with it but otherwise allowing it to navigate in realspace. Since the Cubes didn’t follow, it suggests that the Borg don’t know any way to track a ship through a transwarp conduit.

Thery pop out with enough warning that Voyager can collapse the conduit behind them. However, Because there’s time to kill, Torres detects hundreds of Borg signatures coming through the conduit despite its collapse. But because there was only twenty seconds or so to kill, what emerges is quite a lot of debris. It’d be nice if there was another coil in there. But no, just the one. It did shave 15 years and 20,000 LY off their journey, though.

Did we miss something awesome?