In which Seven unleashes her inner Alex Jones
Even as Seven has learned a little more about what it is to be human, Naomi Wildman is chilling in one of the Borg alcoves, pretending to be borg. One thing that I think this arc does well is a better in-depth exploration of the kind of hero worship that was only briefly treated in TNG. Having it be about two recurring cast means we can get more into both sides of the equation. Sadly, this is because Seven has put off board game night to reconfigure her alcove to do brain-stuff. Specifically, to download all new information collected by Voyager‘s systems directly into her brain, allowing her to bypass reading mission reports. The minor key on the fadeout suggests that this will be a source of bad juju for the next 40 minutes or so.
The computer is capable of telling when someone is about to touch a hot plate that they make in what passes for a stove. I think that’s supposed to be a replicator, judging by the banter, but apparently Janeway programmed it by hand, and in doing so added the authenticity of a hot plate. I want to see the IDE where end users can create replicator programs. I’m not sure whether I’d tend toward a descriptive program or just a procedural generation were you use holodeck time to make the dish and record the macros. Janeway and Chakotay discuss shipboard news, including the rumor based on some simulations that the Doctor was running that everyone is pregnant. They took about twenty seconds for their appetizer and discussed diverting for a minor nebula.
Seven has finished assimilating a whole bunch of data, the latest of which was some shipboard schematics. As soon as she steps out, she calls Torres at Dark O’Clock with some serious-sounding news. Janeway is diverting the ship from the nebula for some graviton fluctuations when Seven and Torres come into the bridge to discuss Seven’s sudden insight that there are fleas in the sensor grid. It’s clear that this process ha allowed her to Sherlock Holmes/Dirk Gently her way through disparate facts to figure out the source of an intermittent sensor glitch.
Voyager arrives at the source of the graviton fluctuations, and it appears to be some sort of station. They are hailed by its proprietor, who recommends they shield. He’s building a propulsion device or wormhole generator, and since he’s friendly they immediately offer to help him. In discussions, he too is lost far from home after an ill-fated trip through a wormhole, so rather than spend ten years in transit he decided to build a subspace graviton catapult. For their help, he offers to let them use the catapult when he’s done to shave several years off the trip. Probably another ten. After a productive and successful day, Seven goes to regenerate and pull in data about the catapult.
In the morning, Seven tells Janeway that the alien, Tash, is trying to trick them because the graviton catapult is the same type of tech that was used to bring Voyager here. Not sure how that follows, though – ship-moving tech is going to follow one of a finite set of principles. So far, her deductions are fine as far as they g0 – tetryon technology is rare, but not exactly damning. That said, Janeay doesn’t like the association with Caretakers, given how dangerous they are. Turns out he was hiding his tetryon reactor, claiming that it’s due to its rarity and value. Janeway’s immediate hostility is kind of jarring.
And Seven’s not helping, by suggesting that this reactor is even from the same array that brought Voyager here. Particularly since Voyager was thrown ten years closer to home by Kes as her parting gift, so for that array to make it here would posit that someone else with better propulsion was also going in this direction, or that Tash’s wormhole picked the perfect point in spacetime to dump him out. Seven’s justification is that the array may not have been completely destroyed, with no hypothesis on how it got here. She gets to study the sensor logs, including going frame-by-frame on the destruction. In doing so, she finds an energy beam during the explosion. It appears to be a tractor beam, pointed at the secondary power core, from an unknown source, but keep in mind that ‘appears to be’ means that Seven assumes and the computer doesn’t have the information to confirm or deny.
Seven starts inquisiting, and decides that the device was twice as powerful as it needed to be, and decides that Tuvok was using the blast to cover a co-conspiritor spiriting away the reactor. In fact, the charge tore a hole through subspace and the reactor was pushed through, according to Seven. Tuvok’s reaction, like Janeway’s, is verging on the insane for this context. Specifically, he does the Vulcan version of “AM I BEING DETAINED? AM I FREE TO GO?” Her next move is to Neelix to interrogate him about his activities in the region, and his insight into the Caretaker’s motives. She suspects a third ship, a cloaked ship, that the Caretaker brought in and which stole the reactor. Neelix immediately takes this hypothesis on face value, in part because Kes always suspected something. He offers Seven her sensor records, which she downloads into her alcove for consumption in a minor horn key.
The graviton catapult is ready to go and Tash gears up for a hundred-light-year-jump. Nothing explodes immediately, and Tash is expected to report in an hour or two. In the meantime, Seven calls Chakotay down to astrometrics, locks him in, and turns off all the sensors to let him in on a secret – Janeway intentionally stranded Voyager in the delta quadrant, with Tuvok’s assistance, to enact a Federation-Cardassian-Caretaker conspiracy to establish a military presence.
Chakotay’s objection is not mine, which would have been somewhere between ‘how could the Federation possibly have colluded with the Caretaker and also how does the Equinox fit into that plan, since they never came back and show a pretty clear record that the Caretaker doesn’t send people back to begin this collusion’ and ‘so that explains her wildly erratic decision-making.’ Instead it’s that there’s an accord that Alpha-Beta quadrant powers have signed onto that makes it illegal to militarize other quadrants. So Seven goes through her evidence.
In fact, there was a Cardassian ship that was apparently returned to the Alpha quadrant, on the evidence from Neelix’s ship that it vanished. She cites former Starfleet black-ops against the Maquis to support the speculation. Since Tuvok was the navigator on Chakotay’s ship, he clearly guided it to prearranged coordinates to be picked up, along with Voyager, by the Caretaker. Janeway then destroyed the array to strand the ship in the Delta quadrant. Using the abnormal armament of tricobalt devices. Why the Caretaker would have gone with this plan is… unexplained yet. We’re still on how the reactor ended up here, now, so that they could use it to bring in a Federation-Cardassian invasion force. I deeply appreciate that none of this accounts for the Dominion war and the devastation of both fleets, when frankly simply getting that technology back to the Alpha quadrant would quite easily be motive enough.
She has a couple other data points that weave neatly into the theory, if you squint. Of course, running around making treaties and cease-fires in an effort not to get murdered by people they accidentally piss off isn’t exactly unusual behavior for a Federation ship. Still, Seven is undeterred and insists that Janeway not be allowed to control the catapult.
Tash has made it five thousand light years, which is a vastly different number than they set it for. Chakotay has Seven’s doubts rattling around, so he asks B’Elanna to add a variance that will burn out the emitters and give him more time to think. He explains Seven’s theory to Torres, who finds it just as insane as everyone else. Harry’s been asked to help with the shields… by the Captain. It comes off as a reinforcement of the theory. Unfortunately, Seven has just finished downloading more data, and calls Janeway herself into the astrometrics lab. A new theory?
Yup. The new theory is that Chakotay and the former maquis are about to resurrect the mutiny attempt, which will go great with Chakotay and Torres sabotaging the jump for reasons they can’t tell Janeway. She outlines her suspicions that Chakotay is about to use the catapult to attack Cardassian and Federation targets, again using the Cardassian ship as a jumping-off point. He wanted to use the array to launch attacks, and also she suspects Tuvok has been collaborating with the Maquis as a triple-agent. She also says that Tash was paid off by Chakotay for delivering the tetryon device, again with no mention of how. Oh, nevermind. Using Seska and the Kazon. Janeway is resistant to the idea at first, but there’s just so much supporting circumstance.
Seven has gone completely round the bend, if prior evidence wasn’t enough for you – she accuses Naomi Wildman of having secret associations based on her Katarian parentage, and so Chakotay and Janeway each independently go to Seven’s booth to see what’s driving her insane. Of course, they’re also sadly suspicious of each other. The accusations come out, and they’re able to get over it, but now Seven’s launched the Delta Flyer and is heading towards the catapult.
Someone should really do something about the fact that Seven can alter her biosigns to elude transporter lock. She’s also knocked out the targeting scanners. The Doctor’s analysis of her booth indicates that she’s downloaded too much data and can’t process it. It’s possible that a slower drip-feed could be beneficial, but fine-tuning that would be… difficult. Instead of being Seven out, Janeway beams in. Seven was prepared with a cockpit force field. Seven is, at this point, actually strugging to hold in her feelings of betrayal on discovering Janeway’s true mission – retrieving the data Starfleet sent her parents to get assimilated to collect.
What really bothers me about this is that the cognitive dump seems to have done a great job of giving Seven access to a wide array of facts, but whatever it is that lets the Collective avoid pareidolia is clearly absent in Seven’s implementation, allowing her to ignore the astronomical chances of getting a human drone stranded on her ship. Janeway eventually manages to talk down Seven, again using the ‘rattle off a series of datapoints,’ only this one is just highlighting all the things Janeway has done to try to reintroduce Seven to human social structures. It’s a much clearer pattern. Seven lowers the force field and they beam out of the flyer, hopefully they can remote-pilot the flyer. Afterwards, they cut three years off the journey in an hour, and Seven has to face her diminished capacities, and human needs.