Star Trek Voyager: Scorpion, Part 2

"They need you. They need this alliance. You have to make this work."

Voyager's fragile alliance with an old enemy starts to fall apart.

There's loads of good stuff in this episode. Janeway and Tuvok on the verge of assimilation (even Tuvok's sweating), the sight of Chakotay and Tuvok flushing a bunch of Borg out into space, the intriguing concept of fluidic space. Janeway and Chakotay's conflict over the Borg alliance from Part 1 is used brilliantly, as Janeway is knocked out of action and Chakotay inevitably doesn't quite keep things going the way she'd hoped. I well up every time she orders Chakotay to get the crew home before going into a medically induced coma.

But of course, what the episode is known for above everything else is the introduction of Seven of Nine. As Janeway points out, when the Borg assimilated Picard, they gave him a name (Locutus) and intended to use him as a mouthpiece to communicate with humanity. Lots of fans have speculated over the years that Seven of Nine might have been chosen because she was being groomed to be a future Queen. One reason for the theory is her obvious cleavage, unlike any other Borg drone (the real reason for which is, obviously, the need to pander to the male gaze). It would explain why this particular drone, of all of them, is chosen to communicate with Voyager's crew.

The other reason is that, against all the laws of probability, she was originally human. The apparent timeline contradictions around her assimilation will be cleared up a few episodes down the line, and I suppose we could charitably assume the Borg deliberately sent a cube with a formerly human drone on it to talk to the mostly-human ship. Maybe? How Janeway managed to work out that she's human just by looking at her and talking to her is an even bigger mystery, since she's covered in Borg bits and there are plenty of humanoid species in the galaxy!

Seven of Nine is one of my favourite characters, thanks to a combination of good writing and a fantastic performance by Jeri Ryan. For most of this episode, she's on standard Borg mode, emotionless and determined, and she does it very well. But we see tiny parts of her personality come through, mainly when she determinedly hangs on in the Jeffries Tube to avoid being sucked out into space. Borg drones are not usually very good at protecting themselves as individuals; of course, she's aware that tactically she needs to maintain a Borg presence on the ship, but she's also saving herself, and doing a good job of it.

The story Chakotay told Janeway in Part 1, about the scorpion who can't help but attack because it's their nature, almost promises a Borg betrayal at some point, and the episode doesn't disappoint. There's also a lot of truth in what Seven of Nine tells Chakotay about humanity's individualistic nature being its weakness. It is entirely true that when people are unable to agree on a course of action, when every "small" opinion is heard (even in the case of overwhelming evidence), it can lead to disaster. But there is strength in discussion and compromise as well, and of course, Janeway and Chakotay find a way to work together, so that Janeway keeps the alliance going as long as possible, but Chakotay is ready to go on the offensive when it breaks down. All in all, it's a genuinely thrilling conclusion to a great two-parter.

Bits and pieces

 - Harry is back on duty barely hours after nearly being killed by Weird Alien Plant Disease, which seems a bit rough. But he doesn't seem to mind, and it is a crisis situation.

 - At one point, Janeway, Chakotay, and Tuvok and are all out of action or otherwise occupied, and Paris gets command of the bridge, which is unusual.

 - The shipping news: Janeway and Chakotay's conversation before she goes under is a professional one, but the way she clutches his shoulder is much more intimate. When Chakotay comes back later to tell her what he's doing, he's clearly heartbroken.

 - The further shipping news: I suppose I should also point out that it's Chakotay who links with Seven of Nine (thanks to his experience with Riley in 'Unity'), finds out her human name and appeals to her humanity for just long enough to stop her getting them all assimilated. But I try to ignore that.

Quotes

Doctor: Commander, we have some disturbing news.
Chakotay: I'm getting used to it.

Janeway (to Chakotay): Get this crew home.

Seven of Nine: You lack harmony, cohesion, greatness. It will be your undoing.

Chakotay (to Janeway): You're more than just my Captain. You're my friend. I hope you'll understand.

Janeway: It's too late for opinions, it's too late for discussion, it's time to make the call!

Janeway: I'll tell you when we lost control of the situation, when we made our mistake. It was the moment we turned away from each other.

Chakotay: Disobeying your orders was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do.

Tense, exciting, and some great character work. Four out of four Borg drones.

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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