Star Trek: Voyager: Imperfection   Rewatch 
May 24, 2018 4:47 AM - Season 7, Episode 2 - Subscribe

We are the ex-Borg. We are here to talk to you today about organ donation. Your biological and technological distinctiveness could help save a life. Resistance is selfish.

Perfection is elusive for any fandom wiki, even Memory Alpha:

- This episode featured an okudagram computer display of a casualty listing of all the crewpersons lost to Voyager by this point. Several names were in-jokes referring to characters from the television series The West Wing.

- This episode was originally supposed to air after "Drive", and a few errors exist due to the switch. First of all, the new Delta Flyer II is present, whereas it was properly introduced in "Drive", but most importantly, during the operation on Seven of Nine, Tom Paris is clearly seen wearing a wedding ring. Also, the stardates indicate that this episode takes place after "Repression" as well.

- This is the last appearance of the Borg until "Q2".

- In 2011, Manu Intiraymi (Icheb) named this episode his favorite from his eleven appearances on Star Trek: Voyager.


"Adapting to your absence will be difficult."
"... I'll miss you too."

- Mezoti and Icheb as Mezoti, Azan, and Rebi leave Voyager


"We difficult patients need to stick together."

- Torres, after Seven escapes The Doctor


"Icheb to The Doctor, report to cargo bay 2 immediately!"
"He's persistent."
"Not to worry. I'll make it clear to him that persistence is futile."

- Icheb, Seven, and The Doctor


Poster's Log:
The solid season seven gets off to a solid start in this low-key but well-done episode. The overall plot is predictable, but I forgive it in this case because of the execution: not only do Picardo and Ryan bring their A-game, but Intiraymi's performance shows great growth. Impressive that this young actor managed to thread the needle that Philip Anglim as Vedek Bareil never* did: portraying a character unmotivated by emotion in a way that's not boring. That's a needle that Trek actors face pretty often, really.
(* = Anglim showed he can be interesting when he was Mirror Bareil, of course, so nothing against the actor.)

My biggest gripe is that eye-rollingly-corny last line about Seven's ocular implant "actually working perfectly" when she cries. Ten minutes of rewrite could've saved the moment without giving us all acute saccharine poisoning. Really, that single line may be why, on this rewatch, I came in with a vague sense of "I don't think I liked this one before," but I was much more forgiving this time overall, in large part because of the attention I've been paying to the acting. I could imagine that professional actors might consider VOY their favorite Trek series.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
In researching Janeway's backstory, I came upon this great image of her as a cadet, from the cover of a VOY spin-off novel. Very plausible Cadet Janeway hair IMO.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I have to admit that I found the line about the ocular implant not only (excuse me) eye-rollingly corny, but also distracting because it made me wonder just why she had tear ducts on that side of her face to begin with. That led me to consider just how much extremely fine plastic surgery work that the Doctor would have had to do to make her left "eye" look realistic, especially considering that he had to start from this. I wonder if the tear ducts were put in because having a dry ocular implant, even if it were coated with some frictionless substance to move around more easily, would just be uncanny-valley weird without liquid lubrication. I also thought of this well-known line from Terminator 2 as a sort of counterpoint; I've often thought that Arnold's performances as the Terminator informed Jeri Ryan's as Seven, consciously or unconsciously.

Overall, though, it was a fine episode. It makes sense that there are a whole bunch of aspects of Seven's partial de-Borging after having been a drone for so long that are way more complicated than similar procedures done on Icheb, the trio from last episode, or even Jean-Luc Picard/Locutus. It's tough to pick out one aspect of Ryan's performance to highlight, but I liked the scene where she's pulling up the casualty list to try to argue that she would just be another name on the list. As we shall see at the other end of this season, that's not really the argument to use with Janeway. (I didn't get the West Wing references until they were pointed out; I thought that "Commander J. Bartlett" might be the ship's original XO, only to find out that the XO was named Cavit; his actor got no on-screen credit. MA speculates that the deceased CMO may be one of the lieutenant commanders. Also, one of the other names on the casualty list is a close match for someone I had a crush on as a tween.) It was also a good use of the special effect that let them show the cortical implant going right into the skull.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:39 AM on May 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Particle of the Week: Another week without - we had a Borg story where the answer wasn't 'nanoprobes.'
Pointless STO Comparison of the Week: The MMO overland map includes Yontasa.

Icheb also does get into Starfleet, and - as previously mentioned someplace - appears in the MMO as a quest giver. (Stupid dailies, but still.)

In a grimmer comparison: salvaged Borg cranial components are an elite currency in the MMO. Hope Janeway kept the useless implant!

Ongoing Counts:
* Maximum Possible Photon Torpedoes: -17. As mentioned in some earlier outings, shuttle torpedoes probably don't count.
* Crew: 137. We lost Mezoti and The Rest!
* Credulity Straining Alpha Quadrant Contacts: 14.
* Janeway's Big Red Button: 2 aborted self-destructs, 1 successful, 2 games of chicken, 1 ramming speed.

Notes:
* Previously, on Star Trek: Voyager...

... I argued loudly and at length about why Voyager didn't need melodramatic conflicts with a silly Borg Queen to tell more stories about the Borg, and lo and behold: they proved me right this week.

Again. ;)

Imperfection demonstrates the best way to showcase villains without undercutting them: by telling a side story instead of placing the protagonists in a direct confrontation with them. Here, we see some really logical implications of Seven's freedom from the Collective: it makes sense that even crazy resilient Borg technology would eventually break down when disconnected from proper maintenance, diagnostics and replacement. Voyager doesn't really have the tools to do more than routine stuff with it, and it is totally believable that it would fail after years of hard use under those conditions.

So we get to learn about them without the need to offer one more way to *defeat* them.

More than that, everything here checks: trying to salvage a node from a dead drone is indeed the first thing I'd try, and it also makes sense that wouldn't work.

Other specific stuff I liked:

* Great talk between B'Ellana and Seven.

This is something I would've enjoyed more of, because now that they're past their initial antagonism, they have a good dynamic. It makes sense that B'Ellana would have a lot of empathy for Seven in this situation, and the way the entire talk was handled was good. I liked the discussion of spirituality and being remembered. I liked the Doctor relenting at the end.

* Go Icheb.

Impressive that this young actor managed to thread the needle that Philip Anglim as Vedek Bareil never* did: portraying a character unmotivated by emotion in a way that's not boring. That's a needle that Trek actors face pretty often, really.

Yep. I was hella impressed with him last night.

Further: I'm one of Voyager's most vociferous and thorough critics around here, but the truth is that I wanted to like it, and I'm happy to concede stuff they did well. In the spirit of that, Voyager is consistently good at depicting children. Naomi Wildman was a constant ray of sunshine on this show. Mezoti was fun. I even liked Kar, way back when.

Icheb continues the trend here: his actions are impetuous dumb teenager stuff, while also being motivated by selfless intentions, hard work and sacrifice. He comes across as a person at the cusp of adulthood, but in a good way. He wins the rhetorical argument and it makes sense for him to do so.

* What's Seven like beneath her epidermis?

I have to admit that I found the line about the ocular implant not only (excuse me) eye-rollingly corny, but also distracting because it made me wonder just why she had tear ducts on that side of her face to begin with.

Right? More than that, the wounds on Seven's body make it look like she's a lot more cybernetic than we'd expect. It left me wondering if she's got some kind of subdermal armor or force field generators or something covering a mostly-human body.

Either way, good show, and a really stark contrast with the nonsense that was Unimatrix Zero. I would've liked more like this. (In particular, I'm sad we didn't see more Seven/B'Ellana. They worked better than Seven/Harry.)

Also, just one more knock against the whole 'the Queen was a necessary story element to get more great Borg stories' argument. ;)
posted by mordax at 4:51 PM on May 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Voyager gets perhaps the most shit for allegedly defanging the Borg Collective, giving them depth beyond The Next Generation’s monolithic cyber-horror. But making the Borg imperfect, though counter to their core philosophy, also made them more interesting. Giving them a religion of sorts, centred around an ostensibly “perfect” subatomic particle, made a weird cult-like sense (“The Omega Directive”). Other episodes, like “Unimatrix Zero,” which introduced a shared dream state for certain Borg, deepened our understanding of what it is to be a drone. For every silly instance of the Borg Queen pursuing vengeance against Janeway, there was something profound, like a colony of former Borg struggling to find their way without a collective consciousness (“Unity”). And of course, much Borg development emerged through the avatar of Seven of Nine - the only “learning to be human” character in the franchise to have had their humanity stripped from them. Hers is a story of post-traumatic stress and psychological recovery (see "The Gift" and “The Raven” for a starting point) the likes of which few Star Trek regulars got to explore.
posted by zarq at 6:47 PM on May 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also, just one more knock against the whole 'the Queen was a necessary story element to get more great Borg stories' argument. ;)

To be fair, I simply pointed out that giving a face to your antagonist made it easier to write stories. Which I still believe to be true. I would also argue that this episode is not really a Borg episode the same way Unimatrix Zero, or Dark Frontier, or even Endgame are.

Seven and B'Ellana were a great, underused pairing. I'm also sad we didn't get a chance to see Naomi with Seven in this episode.

It was nice to give the former Borg kids a happy ending, but I sort of wish they had stayed so that we could see more future former Borg adults in upcoming episodes. (There are two opportunities for this in S7.)
posted by 2ht at 7:00 AM on May 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


To be fair, I simply pointed out that giving a face to your antagonist made it easier to write stories. Which I still believe to be true.

Before I begin: again, meant in a friendly way. I'm glad you're talking here, and appreciate the amount of thought you've put into this.

The thing is, the Borg had all that pretty early:
BORG: Captain Jean Luc Picard, you lead the strongest ship of the Federation fleet. You speak for your people.
PICARD: I have nothing to say to you, and I will resist you with my last ounce of strength.
BORG: Strength is irrelevant. Resistance is futile. We wish to improve ourselves. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service ours.
PICARD: Impossible. My culture is based on freedom and self determination.
BORG: Freedom is irrelevant. Self determination is irrelevant. You must comply.
PICARD: We would rather die.
BORG: Death is irrelevant. Your archaic cultures are authority driven. To facilitate our introduction into your societies, it has been decided that a human voice will speak for us in all communications. You have been chosen to be that voice.
It's popular to characterize the Borg as mindless drones, but that's almost entirely inaccurate. The only direct confrontation with the Borg that features no discussion of any kind is Q Who, which is - in fairness to the writers and the Borg - first contact (ignoring Seven's retconned backstory and Enterprise's Borg outing and time shenanigans in general).

In a way, First Contact is solving a problem that only exists via Kirk Drift of the Borg in popular discourse, which is pretty weird.

I would also argue that this episode is not really a Borg episode the same way Unimatrix Zero, or Dark Frontier, or even Endgame are.

On the one hand: that's true, and I raised the same point myself. This is a side story: we're engaging with an iconic set of bad guys through the lens of a medical drama instead of an apocalyptic showdown.

On the other: it's a story that centers completely on Borg characters. All of the action is driven by Seven's failing Borg technology, and the story is resolved when another ex-Borg drone fixes it with an application of Borg technology.

Not every outing can be the showdown kind, or villains lose their punch rapidly.

It was nice to give the former Borg kids a happy ending, but I sort of wish they had stayed so that we could see more future former Borg adults in upcoming episodes.

I was glad to lose the two boys who never talked anyway, but sad to see Mezoti go. Voyager could've had a Mezoti/Naomi episode, and really should have.
posted by mordax at 7:35 AM on May 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


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