Monday, September 18, 2017

Voyager 7x1 "Unimatrix Zero, Part 2"

rating: ***

the story: Janeway's gambit to strike at the Borg from within proves challenging.

what it's all about: For a while, I didn't really appreciate what exactly "Unimatrix Zero" accomplishes.  I used to consider it as more or less Voyager's "Descent," the Next Generation two-part episode that posited the end of the Borg via accidental individuality.  I thought "Descent" thought too small.  And so did "Unimatrix Zero."

Essentially, "Zero" is about a hidden sub-Collective of drones who worked to subvert the Borg from within.  It felt like retconning Seven into being a good character all along.  Whether or not that's true, it's still fascinating, and arguably Voyager's boldest use of the Borg ever.  The Borg had become almost too powerful, maybe survivable if the conditions are right, but inherently relentless, adaptable to any challenge.  The end result of that is that the Borg will win, eventually.  It's basically the opposite of the Star Trek message. 

So "Zero" is the solution.  The problem is, it's a solution without an actual conclusion, and the next time the Borg show up, in their final chronological appearance to date, there's no indication that "Zero" had any actual effect; "Endgame," the series finale, seems to come to an entirely different conclusion as to how to deal with the Borg threat once and for all.

"Zero" posits a civil war, the ability of a drone to decide for themselves to leave the Collective.  It's the Matrix Revolutions solution, three years before that movie is even released. 

The notion of a civil war solving something in the franchise, in this series, isn't new ("The Q and the Grey"), but it's an appropriate one, in hindsight.  This is necessarily a bigger story than the crew of one ship can possibly address.  The notion of finally connecting disparate drones serving in ships across all of Borg territory is about as expansive as you can get, no matter how the story gets there.  It's the logical conclusion to the Borg narrative, certainly Voyager's singular vision of it, dating all the way back to "Unity" in the third season and including Seven's arc.  So in that sense, Seven's expanded biography becomes almost irony, but also entirely appropriate.  It's good that she reaches this point.  In a lot of ways, even if it's not the end of the Borg story, it's the culmination of Seven's.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - Fans who grumble at Voyager's use of the Borg are not likely to like this.
  • series - But it makes perfect Voyager sense.
  • character - Seven's whole arc is revealed, and comes full circle.
  • essential - Regardless of what follows, this is the perfect conclusion to the Voyager Borg experience.
notable guest-stars:
Susanna Thompson (Borg Queen)

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