Star Trek Voyager: Unity

"I was so resistant to being linked – now I'm almost sorry it's over."

Chakotay and an expendable ensign get lost, and answer a Federation distress call by themselves while unable to contact Voyager. This goes about as well as you might expect.

The Star Trek franchise's most popular and most memorable bad guys come from the Delta Quadrant, so it was inevitable that Voyager would come up against them at some point. This episode acts as something of a teaser for the main event, as the focus is mostly on Riley and her small group of ex-Borg.

Hugh's story in The Next Generation had shown how difficult and complicated a process it could be to separate one Borg drone from the Collective. While Hugh eventually decided he preferred to be an individual, and even brought some others with him, this episode explores the flipside of that – the idea that there may be benefits to a collective consciousness that former drones might want actively to seek out.

Introducing the Borg to Voyager was a brilliant move. The Borg are terrifying thanks to the inherent body horror of the way they assimilate people and forcibly replace body parts with machinery. In addition to that, the Borg's hive mind and their sheer confidence and arrogance, in the way they simply ignore anything that is not a threat, makes them even scarier. And the design work on them is brilliant – both their cybernetic components and the way they manipulate the bodies of their victims, and their heavy, imposing, Oxo-cube-covered in-paperclips spaceships. On top of all this, the Borg was well established as having pretty impressive reach, so for once, it will make sense to have this bad guy continue to haunt Voyager for a while, even as they continue to move through space.

Most of the Borg we meet in this episode are dead, dying, or separated from the Collective, so they're not seen at their full strength here. Even so, they are terrifying – and never more so than when the dead drone suddenly springs back to life, thanks to his cybernetic implants! Meanwhile, the group of former drones on the planet are an interesting way of exploring aspects of the Borg in a more nuanced way. A collective consciousness isn't necessarily all bad, as Riley points out, and it certainly leads to reduced conflict between the various species. But their willingness to impose their will on others when it suits them suggests that perhaps, in this case, all power corrupts, and collective power corrupts collectively.

Bits and pieces

 - Shuttlecraft count: Tuvok's shuttle is tractored back to Voyager before the Borg cube is destroyed. Chakotay's shuttle from the beginning, however, is stolen for parts by a group of former Borg. Shuttlecraft lost by Chakotay, by the way, = 3. Stop letting Chakotay into shuttles!
Shuttlecraft lost: 4
Shuttlecraft count: -2

 - The very pleasant-seeming Ensign we've never seen before from the cold open is, of course, dead by the end of Act 1.

 - Chakotay stuns Tuvok and Kim stuns Chakotay. Go Kim!

 - The region of space they're passing through is stated to be empty, without much of any interest. Presumably, this is because the Borg have been through and destroyed or assimilated most of the local cultures – shiver!

 - This is a Chakotay-romance episode. These were of... variable quality. This one is actually quite good – possibly the best one of the lot.

The shipping news: you can feel the tension in the briefing room when Janeway and Chakotay discuss how well he got to know Riley Frazier and the ex-Borg. Janeway knows what's up. By the episode's conclusion, Janeway is still a tiny bit frosty, until Chakotay apologises and he warms up.

Quotes

Torres: I'm not being "apprehensive," Tuvok, I'm just nervous as hell.

Torres: What you need is a good thrashing on the hover-ball court to take your mind off things.

A decent little Borg episode and an intriguing way to introduce them to the series. Three out of four dead Borg cubes.

Juliette Harrisson is a storyteller, freelance writer, Classicist and Trekkie. She runs the podcast Creepy Classics, re-telling and discussing ancient, medieval and early modern ghost stories. She tweets @ClassicalJG

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