In which Tuvok, Janeway, and Seven work on their networking skills.
Janeway, Tuvok, and B’Elanna have been assimilated and abandoned by Voyager on a borg cube, according to what was apparently the plan to introduce a virus to allow the Drones-That-Dream to wake up with memories and start an insurgency. Also the Delta Flyer got blown up, which is the real tragedy here.
Tuvok’s assimilation is already going wrong, as are the rest of them. They retain memory. Janeway’s been separated, probably to go be seen to by the Queen personally. In fact, she’s gotten some extra brain-implants, and I would love it if there was sufficient respect for continuity going forward that she keeps them in future episodes even after she’s been deborgified.
It’s been seventeen minutes and Voyager was expecting to hear something by now. The Cube’s only just reacting, in fact, and Chakotay orders Seven into the Unamatrix to monitor the Resistance. She’s still feeling a bit of conflict but it’s not a good time for that. Also, the kids are absent during all of this, at least so far. Inside the Unamatrix, the Klingons and Hirogen are all working together, and while Axom isn’t there, Korok assures Seven that he might have been lucky enough to die in battle. He offers some love advice, and they get a milestone – the virus is not yet deployed.
As drones, Tuvok and Torres can walk right through the shields protecting the central plexus (which are then presumably on because they’re a negligable power drain and the Queen is both confident that the away team is fully droned and also waiting for backup to arrive) and find Janeway, seemingly fine. They’re all individuals because of a pre-dose of neural suppressant, but its wearing off. That brief breach in the doping is enough to make the Queen realize she cant hear them, though.
Inside U0, the denizens are relying on classic forestry traps to take out the drones. One must presume that something prevents them from just jacking back into it once they’re ‘killed.’ We’ve been told that dying in the dream just makes you wake up, but something must be keeping the drones from just reappearing. Maybe they’re reset to a universal spawn, or can’t relog within 16 hours, or perhaps the feedback kills them if they don’t have the mutation – that last would certainly play into the Queen’s new portrayal as a cackling despot.
As Tuvok starts to break down under the hivemind assault, he urges Janeway to kill him before he finishes turning, in order to save the mission. Torres successfully opens up the hatch to the plexus. Meanwhile, on Voyager, Tom is getting antsy as the plan stretches past its time budget. Also, the newly promoted Tom Paris, Lt. Junior Grade, is acting first officer somehow, and takes up this burdon to advise Chakotay to go rescue his girlfriend.
The away team has successfully made it to the Central Plexus, and Torres downloads the virus into it using her Machine Interface Tubules. No word on how she got the virus loaded into her cybernetics, or why if it was in her cybernetics they couldn’t load it into the network directly, since this is a communications hub. I wouldn’t normally complain about the presence of network security in a Star Trek episode, but its application is awfully haphazard. As this goes on, Tuvok starts to fall into the hivemind. Reading this telemetry, Chakotay orders Tom to position for rescue. But it’s ‘too late,’ Tuvok is turned and Torres and Janeway are trapped in the plexus chamber. Oddly, even after Tuvok falls to his designation as Three of Twelve, the Queen keeps calling him Tuvok. I am sticking with my diagnosis of the Queen as a coping mechanism, rather than a leader, of the Collective.
And of course, now that Tuvok’s been assimilated, he knows all of Voyager‘s tactical codes, because nobody bothered to set them to the contingency values that they had in storage for if the command staff are compromised. Maybe coming up with those codes was Tom’s assignment and he put it off to play Captain Proton. Either way, the ship has no shields and the Borg torpedoes do surprisingly little damage for a direct hit with antimatter weapons. Presumably the Queen pulled her punches in order to acquire Voyager later. But now she notices all the drone voices dropping off the network. Including one right there in her control room.
For interrogation, Janeway is locked into a regeneration chamber and beamed to the Queen by telepresence. The Queen even gives back Janeway’s uniform. The negotiation tactic the Queen uses is to blow up any ship with resistance members on it. This should not be effective according to our understanding of the Borg – Janeway ought to parse this as an interrogator pulling out their own teeth to try to get her to talk. However, the Queen has a pivot – sending Janeway to Unamatrix Zero on a diplomatic mission to ask them to voluntarily rejoin the collective. This tactic does not work.
Seven brings the news that the virus worked, and is sent back in to get allies for the away team (should there be any on the cube). The Doctor also adds some modifications to the alcove, whch gives Seven the chance to complain about her early forays into serious relationship drama. And the Doctor a chance to be a bit sad, but supportive, about her choices of romantic partners. I really appreciate that he’s not acting like the Friendzone is a thing, and just helping her grow as a person without trying to sabotage her.
Within the Unamatrix, there is a war council going on, discussing objectives – and the honor in returning for fallen allies. And once it breaks up, bad news for Seven’s relationship prospects – Axom is on the other side of the galaxy patrolling the borders of fluidic space as if it hadn’t been initially established that portals to there can’t show up literally anywhere. Nor will he be much help during the war effort, but he might be able to bring Species 8472 into the fight.
How do the day/night cycles work in Unamatrix Zero? Given Seven’s pattern, I picture Borg as being on relatively stable regeneration cycles, as it would be inefficient to allow the meat portion of a drone to degrade through overuse. So there are some basic choices that whoever created U0 could have picked between – having a day/night cycle that roughly corresponds to the Borg one, so that its inhabitants feel some measure of continuity, or purposefully desyncing them so that inhabitants can eventually have access to all ‘times of day’ within. Of course, this all brings us back to the question of who built it in the first place, where the answer per part 1 is “shut up.”
The Queen has arrived in Unamatrix ,Zero to evangelize. This queen was assimilated young, as it turns out. And she reports back to Janeway that U0 is primitive and boring and she’s not interested in preserving it. She’s also managed to reprogram the virus to kill only the mutated drones, and deliver it via Unamatrix Zero, unless Janeway convinces them to join back up.
In response, The Queen hacks Janeway into Voyager to update them on the situation and deliver the ultimatum. She does it in such a way as to leave us certain she delivered a coded message based on her mutual understanding with Chakotay – that instead of surrendering the borg drones, they’ll disrupt Unamatrix Zero itself to make it impossible to deliver the modified virus. Keep in mind, this is what the Queen was trying to do from the beginning and couldn’t manage.
Around now, a sphere shows up under the command of General Korok, who has somehow assmed personal control over a vessel designed to be piloted by a ten-thousand-strong consensus. Seven has managed to isolate the interlink frequency within hours at most, which goes a long way towards explaining why the Borg are obsessed with Federation technology. I guess not being optimized to do actual research has its drawbacks. Korok and Voyager successfully Kill U0, then we get to see some good old-fashioned Borg-on-Borg violence, and some cleanup rescue, and Seven’s last goodbye with Axom.
We are left to contemplate how much more vulnerable Tuvok was than either Janeway or Torres. Occam’s razor, tortured though it tends to get in these episodes, suggests that this has to do with how much more receptive the Vulcan mind is to networking than a human mind. Telepathic abilities have their drawbacks too.
The Queen blows Janeway’s tactical cube up, but the shields drop just long enough for the away team to be rescued and deborgified. Even better, Korok has made contact with another Borg ship and are starting a unified resistance. Janeway may have made permanent inroads with Borg tech.