The Borg are back. There is no simple way to put this as we saw from the previous episode, the Borg are in the Delta Quadrant…or at least they used to be. With this in mind Janeway and team continue their journey through the Nekrit Expanse… Originally broadcast on February 12, 1997 this is Unity.
Captain’s Log Stardate 50614.2 Unity
Chakotay and Ensign Kaplan find themselves trapped between people who have a dark secret whole Janeway and the rest of the crew explore a derelict Borg cube.
Story A: A Phantom Menace
As her first officer explores optional routes, Janeway and her crew find the Nekrit Expanse to be a little lackluster since first entering it. This changes drastically when they come upon an abandoned Borg Cube. Going to Red Alert, Tuvok eases the crew’s tension when he and Harry Kim can not find any signs of life or activity aboard the cube. Understanding it’s value to them, Janeway puts together an away team to visit this ominous derelict.
After Tuvok’s team returns from the eerily quiet Borg Cube with the body of a drone in tow, Torres informs the Captain that they have found over 1,000 dead Borg that have been preserved in the vacuum of space. Concerned over what could have defeated such a powerful enemy, Janeway suggests that they retrieve Chakotay from his mission to inform him of what they have found.
Finding Chakotay’s message Buoy signal, Janeway orders the ship to investigate as the Doctor begins his Autopsy of the Borg Drone. During the Autopsy, The Doctor inadvertently activates the drone but manages to deactivate it before it can do any damage. It seems that even dead, the Borg remain a threat.
Story B: Survivors
Chakotay and Ensign Kaplan scout ahead of Voyager hoping to find a shorter way through the Nekrit Expanse. Realizing that they have become lost and are unable to find Voyager, they soon come upon what appears to be Federation message buoy which leads them to a nearby planet. Launching a buoy of their own they land only to find themselves under attack by shrouded aliens.
Chakotay awakes to find himself with a woman identifying herself as Riley Frazier. From her Chakotay learns that Kaplan is dead and that she is part of a group of people who were kidnapped from the Alpha Quadrant including some Romulans, Cardassians and Klingons. Frazier and the survivors have become part of a Cooperative. Chakotay soon finds comfort in Fraziers company but is shocked when he learns that she and those with her want to remain on the planet. Indicating that the Cooperative have come to work well together and they wish to continue their efforts. She leaves but insists that Chakotay remain behind to ‘heal’.
Unsatisfied with remaining behind, Chakotay breaks out of his secure room only to discover that he is amidst Borg Drones comprised of a multitude of species. With their deception revealed, Frazier explains the situation. She was assimilated at the Battle of Wolf 359 and her cube was eventually damages in an electro-kinetic storm in the Nekrit Expanse. With their link to the Hive Mind broken, they decided to settle on a nearby planet as The Cooperative. They only wish to remain in peace having found life outside of the Collective for the first time in years.
Soon Chakotay’s condition worsens and the only way to save him is to have a neural link installed by the Romulan, former Borg, Orum. Resistant at first he soon realizes that it may be his only chance at survival. Agreeing to the temporary alternative, Chakotay discovers what it is like to be connected to so many others, giving him an enlightening experience. With his neural wounds healed, Frazier has the transceiver removed but Chakotay still has a loose connection with them all, specifically Frazier…albeit a temporary one.
After the link, Chakotay realizes that this Cooperative has no evil intent. Helping them with their communication’s array, he eventually contacts Janeway aboard Voyager. Visiting Voyager, Frazier requests that Janeway help them reestablish the neural link among the population of the planet using the Borg Cube’s neuro-electic field generator. Janeway is skeptical but does not want to assist in the risk of attracting more Borg. Taking Chakotay’s opinions into mind, Janeway becomes torn but ultimately refuses to assist as there is always a chance that they could inadvertently create a new, possibly worse, Borg Collective. Frazier understands and, although they have found feelings for one another, she declines to remain on Voyager with him.
After supplying the Cooperative with much needed supplies, Voyager heads off but Chakotay soon finds himself receiving a telepathic message from the Borg indicating that they are under attack and need his help. Stunning Torres, Chakotay steals a shuttle and heads to the Borg Cube to activate the generator at their request. With an away team in pursuit, he manages to activate the cube and is pulled off the cube moments later by Janeway. Just as it looks like the Borg Cube is going to attack Voyager, the Cooperative destroy the Borg Cube via a self destruct as promised. Sending their thanks to Voyager for helping them, the Cooperative promise that Chakotay’s link with them has now been severed.
In Sickbay, Janeway and Chakotay discuss the situation. While the Cooperative seems friendly enough, they worry that they may have created a new and much more insidious version of The Borg Collective.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeil, this episode serves as a foreshadowing of many things to come in Star Trek Voyager and beyond. From the return of the Borg to even the hint of a more powerful enemy capable of defeating The Borg, this even sets the stage for a new crew member who we will meet soon enough.
One thing I love about this episode is that, outside of Picard’s transition back to humanity from being Locutus, this is the first time we have seen fully assimilated drones able to reconnect and return to a version of their original lives. This not only establishes the basis for the future character Seven of Nine but also give some much needed background for the plot of the series Star Trek Picard. It is interesting to note that, much like Picard’s and Seven’s secret longing to return to the collective, the Cooperative manage to do just that but without becoming part of the original Hive Mind.
One of the biggest plot holes from this episode has always been ‘how did people assimilated during the Battle of Wolf 359 make it to the Delta Quadrant when that particular cube was destroyed? While it has been speculated that the original cube fired off an ‘escape’ sphere, ST:Picard provided an even more likely answer, the Borg Queen teleporter. This device, or one like it, which was taken from the Sikarians, might have been used to transfer drones from the doomed Borg Cube in the Alpha Quadrant in a final attempt to keep as much as they could in the light of failure. While this did take place well before we even met the Sikarians in the episode Prime Factors, the idea that something even similar to this tech could be implemented is there.
Unfortunately, we never see nor hear from the ‘New Cooperative’ again which seems to be a huge miss since we do get a massive amount of Borg activity in the coming seasons. Heck, it would have been great to see them return in some way to Picard but, it seems, that this alternate Borg Collective just stuck to their promises and chilled out on the planet with their collective selves doing collective things. It is interesting to note that the sole purpose of this Cooperative wanting to be a Hive Mind again is so that the ‘scavengers’ would rejoin them and stop attacking. So…in a way, they just assimilated a ton of people against their will so that they would stop fighting against them. That being said…no one ever indicated WHY this other unnamed faction were attacking the Cooperative…was there really something more insidious going on? Well…not according to Chakotay with his neural link connection but then again…would they really tell him everything?
Speaking of Chakotay, It feels like Chakotay doesn’t seem to get a ton of focus in this season but the few times he does, he really does manages to have a decent story to go with it. Interestingly, it seems, at least for now, the whole Janeway/Chakotay possible romance has been put on hold with Chakotay clearly falling for Frazier. While this relationship ends up going nowhere, it seems that our stalwart Commander is searching for something, or someone, of his own.
Also…did you notice that no one aboard Voyager seemed to even notice that Ensign Kaplan was missing or dead? They detected one life sign, it was Chakotay, and everything was hunky dory. I mean…you just lost yet another of the crew after being together for two years without a single other Federation ship in the vicinity… you would thing such a loss would be horrendous…but no. She’s just…gone.
Ultimately, I love this episode despite the fact we never see this Cooperative again or that there seems to be an utter lack of care for dead secondary crew-members. Overall, Unity gives us a really solid basis for what is to come and boy is there a lot to come.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, 28 remaining.
- 1 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 4 remaining.
- The hint of a species tougher than the Borg is suggested in this episode…remember that.
- We see a Romulan former Borg, Orem, who seems to be at peace with himself despite the racial animosity towards all things synthetic…
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Darkling
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Late To The Game 8/14/2020
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