Thursday, November 21, 2019

Voyager, Season 6: Collective, Season 6
Airdate: February 16, 2000
133 of 168 produced
134 of 168 aired


When the Delta Flyer discovers a derelict Borg cube, Seven of Nine finds herself called upon to nurture a creche of adolescent Borg.

"We are the Borg. We have abs of steel. Don't even ask about our buns."


Matthew: I like what the Borg children brought to the series, but this episode should be judged on its own merits. Right off the bat, the concept is to prior season 6 episode "Survival Instinct," in which a small group of Borg, including Seven, is separated from the collective and has to form their own hierarchy. Seven of Nine even replicates the controlling behavior of the first here. So, as Borg stories go, this one isn't exactly original. The new wrinkle is the idea of "neonatal" drones who are not fully formed. This idea is explored more, and will be given greater development in subsequent episodes.

Kevin: I liked the guest cast in Survival Instinct pretty well, but I kind of wish they had foregone that one in favor of this one so it wouldn't feel repetitive, both as a young and scared Borg story and another in an increasingly constant stream of stories about Seven's humanity. I agree that the idea of not just physically but mentally immature drones is interesting, but I do wonder how credible the set up is. If I accelerated the growth of an infant while also altering key parts of their brains, would pausing when they looked like teenagers really render the personality of a teenager? I get its utility in a story, but it feels like they drive the analogy home a little too hard.

Matthew: The crew members who are stuck on the cube don't get the most interesting things to do.  I kind of don't know why they were there, since this is ultimately a Seven episode. I like the poker vignette at the beginning, but can the Delta Flyer really take on a cube, even one that is nearly disabled? Anyhow, I can't help but wonder if there was a more exciting way to have executed this story. Disabling the Borg from the outset really blunts the tension - having the teen-aged twerp Borg be the antagonist just doesn't work very well. Perhaps if there had been adult Borg who were going to destroy the kids and assimilate Voyager. Overall, perhaps this was one trip too many back to the Borg well.

Kevin: Definitely agreed on this last point. They have gotten 10,000+ light year jumps a couple of times now and should absolutely not be encountering the Borg that often. This episode also puts me in mind of I, Borg, which manages to keep the Borg threat off screen successfully, and lets the episode focus on the ethical dilemmas. Maybe just find them alone and bring them aboard from the beginning. There are worse episodes to redo than I, Borg.

Matthew: As far as character growth for Seven of Nine, she gets some, but not the degree she will receive with the Borg kids going forward. I think the episode would have been stronger had it delved deeper both into her prior experience with a mini-collective, as well as her own stunted adolescence. I liked her interplay with Icheb (perhaps why he was written for more frequently in future shows) and thought Mezoti had a certain charm as well.

Kevin: My nagging question for the episode: what happened to the infant?


Matthew: This was a typically good performance for Jeri Ryan, and she did the best she could with the somewhat repetitive material. Manu Intiraymi has obvious charisma, and he was the standout among the Borg children. I also quite liked Kate Mulgrew's gentle prodding of Seven to become more matronly, as well as her own brush with motherhood, holding the Borg baby.

Kevin: Agreed. Ryan Spahn as the first was a little too petulant to make the threat land, but that feels more like acting than writing. He was almost acting in a production of Lord of the Flies which would have been an interesting angle but not quite the one this episode is going for. Agreed on Intiraymi. He really had some layers under the Borg stiffness.

Production Values

Matthew: The maturation chamber was pretty good, all told. There wasn't anything amazing, but it was all reasonably well done. The Borg cube exteriors and the hangar bay were also nice digital mattes and effects. As far as costumes go, the kids were your basic pastiche of past appliances - nothing to write home about.

Kevin: The pan of the Flyer in the hangar bay was pretty neat, but like you say, this was otherwise a paint by numbers Borg episode.


Matthew: This was an inoffensive show. It had some decent character work, but it lacked tension. I wasn't bored necessarily, but I wasn't grabbed, either. There was really no argument for the other side here, nor was there any ostensible threat to the crew. The performances were nice and the effects were fine. So it's a 3, I guess?

Kevin: We've kind of mostly knocked the episode, so a 3 feels weird to me too a bit, but I can't articulate a reason it deserves a two. The acting is solid, and the basic idea interesting. I think this is in that sweet spot of weaker later episodes that coasts on some generated goodwill and character work, but I can't deny the goodwill and character work is there. That makes a total of 6.

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