After the explosive season premier things are certainly not like they once were aboard Voyager. With the ship still stuck in the middle of Borg space, infused with Borg Technology, and having a Borg drone as a potential new crew-member, only one episode into this new season and things are already in a state of flux. If you think things are about to slow down, well…we are not out of the water yet. Originally broadcast on September 10, 1997 (twenty three years ago tomorrow) this is The Gift.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate Undetermined The Gift

Kes’ Powers grow exponentially and Seven of Nine finds difficulty with no longer being connected to the Collective.

The Story:

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Having just fought off both Species 8472 and The Borg, Captain Janeway visits her newest crew member in Cargo Bay 2. The Doctor informs Janeway that the Borg Drone is making remarkable progress but he is unsure if her human or Borg side will prevail as she slowly acclimates to her new awareness. After being wakened, Seven of Nine immediately demands to be returned to the Borg but Janeway refuses. Seven finds it disconcerting to no longer be connected to the Collective but, despite her protests, Janeway assures her that they will do all she can to bring back her humanity. Later, with Tuvok watching over the procedure, The Doctor discovers that Seven’s body is beginning to reject some of her implants. Deciding on procedure he is surprised when Kes is able to retrieve a hypo-spray using her telekinetic powers. It seems that her abilities have become more potent since coming in contact with Species 8472 and the Doctor confirms this after scanning her brain. Promising to investigate further after he is done with the Borg Drone, they continue the implant removal process.

While the Doctor removes Seven’s Implants, Janeway is visited by Chakotay in her office to provide a status report on the ongoing ship repairs. It seems that the Borg alterations are giving B’Elanna a difficult time while they have also detected Borg Vessels not far from their present course. They soon begin talking about Seven of Nine and Janeway informs him of her findings concerning the former human drone. It seems that her parents were freelance scientists who, along with Annika, were assimilated in the Omega sector while heading toward the Delta Quadrant. Chakotay is concerned that since she was assimilated as a child, Seven may not have the capacity for humanity but Janeway refuses this as a possibility as she feels that they are now responsible for this person.

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Janeway is called to sickbay where the Doctor is facing an ethical dilemma. Knowing that Seven’s body is rejecting the implants he knows he needs to remove them but he also knows that Seven does not want them removed. Asking Janeway for her advice the Captain orders him to begin removing the implants citing that Seven is not in a position to make that decision for herself at the moment and leaves. As the Doctor begins the process, Seven suddenly goes into shock but, before the Doctor can react, Kes finds the cause…using only her mind. It seems that a small internal implant is causing the issue and, when the Doctor asks for advise on how to fix it, Kes does one better and removes it herself, stabilizing Seven. Impressed and a little concerned, the Doctor continues his procedures.

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Returning to sickbay, Janeway learns that the Doctor has developed a prosthetic eye for Seven to replace her eyepiece. As the Doctor prepares to wake Seven from her operation, Janeway takes the time to discuss Kes’ growing abilities but the Ocampan assures Janeway that she is fine. Tuvok offers to help Kes learn to control her powers through meditation, Kes agrees and the two leave to begin the process. Seven awakes and makes it abundantly clear that she is unhappy with the work The Doctor has done informing Janeway that the Captain may as well let Seven die if she can no longer be a drone. Despite this, Janeway continues to encourage the former drone explaining that Seven will soon be part of a Human collective and no longer needs the Borg Collective as a crutch. Janeway instructs Seven to assist B’Elanna with the removal of the Borg enhancements to the ship as these alterations are preventing them from going to warp.

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Arriving in Engineering with Janeway, Seven immediately informs B’Elanna of her mistakes in removing the Borg Technology, specifically having never removed the autonomous regeneration sequencers. After Janeway is able to introduce Seven of Nine to B’Elanna and Harry, the group begin to work on the removal of the Borg enhancements…albeit not all that amicably. Things get worse when, while working with Harry, Seven decides to attempt to communicate with the Borg using the ships subspace transmitter.

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As Seven begins her attempt to contact The Borg, Kes and Tuvok are in Tuvok’s quarters learning about Kes’ new powers. She begins to show him how she can alter matter around her, manipulating a nearby lamp with her mind. Suddenly she stops and realizes what is going on in Engineering. She tells Tuvok, but before he can respond to the issue, Kes informs him that she can stop Seven’s attempt on her own. Using her mind, Kes sends a distortion bubble through the ships hull until it reaches Seven of Nine’s position. The bubble causes the panel in front of the former drone to malfunction knocking her out. Unsure of what has just occurred, Tuvok contacts Janeway for an update. The Captain fills him in but is unsure how Seven was stopped…Tuvok informs Janeway that he may, in fact, know.

After learning that not only did Seven manage to get a signal out but Kes’ use of her powers weakened the structural integrity of the ship, the two visit the former drone in the Brig. There they find an even more livid Seven of Nine who verbally attacks the two indicating that human freedom in a prison cell is not the freedom they promised. Janeway takes it all in stride assuring Seven that, in time, she will come to accept her humanity no matter how she currently feels about it. Despite Seven’s protests, Janeway makes it clear, the former drone will remain on Voyager and they will do all they can to help her become human once again.

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As Janeway handles Seven, Neelix and Kes discuss her new powers in the mess hall. Finally taking a moment to talk since their breakup, Neelix is truly concerned for his friend and former lover. Soon she begins to demonstrate her abilities explaining that she is able to see into places that were previously inconceivable. As she continues to demonstrate her new found powers things begin to get dangerous when she loses control knocking Neelix onto the floor. Soon the Bridge detects the strange occurrences in the mess hall as the sensors indicate that the bulkheads are losing integrity. rushing to the mess hall they are shocked to find Kes kneeling on the floor glowing oblivious to their presence. Within moments she collapses to the floor.

With Kes in sickbay, the Doctor informs Janeway and Tuvok that he has no idea what is causing this change in their crew-mate. Tuvok and the others are concerned that, should Kes keep using her abilities, she may inadvertently destroy the ship. Janeway speaks to Kes about the situation and, with the help of the Doctor, they begin to explore other venues outside of medicine to help Kes find a way to determine what is happening to her.

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Janeway is soon called to the Brig after Seven begins to act violently in her cell. Arriving she finds a distraught woman who begins to lament the fact that she is now alone and does not know how to be human despite Janeway’s encouragement. Janeway, sensing that this is a turning point, takes the opportunity to introduce Seven to the file on Annika Hanson. Seven has yet another breakdown demanding to be returned to the Collective but soon falls into sobs. Although the former Drone’s duality continues to struggle against itself, even physically striking Janeway, in the end Janeway finally reaches Annika as Seven begins to cry.

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After dealing with Seven, Janeway visits Kes who has another blow for the Captain, but this time an emotional one. Kes informs Janeway that she has decided to leave the ship in order to explore who and what she has become. After a brief resistance, Janeway finally accepts that she has to let her go. Just then Kes begins to fade out of existence. Janeway hails the bridge asking for a shuttle to take Kes away from the ship in order to leaves safely. Rushing to the shuttle-bay, Kes’ powers begins to tear the ship apart and they are unable to use the transporter due to her phasing state of being. Tuvok manages to delay the change with a mind meld allowing them to get to them to get to the shuttle. With Kes aboard she is sent from the ship and, using her abilities, she contacts the crew one last time with a final message, ‘My Gift To You’

Voyager begins to shutter and suddenly it launches forward going at speeds that are well past warp 10. (hmmmm….) After a few seconds the ship stops and they find themselves well beyond Borg space some 9.5 thousand light-years away. It seems Kes manages to assist the crew one final time taking them out of Borg Space and shaving ten years off of their trip.

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In the cargo bay Seven examines her new look. Gone are the Borg components save a few pieces remaining on her face. Dressed in a silver skintight uniform she is soon greeted by The Doctor and Janeway. He informs them that, although he has removed most of her Borg parts she will still need to regenerate to keep her technological parts operating. It is clear that Seven of Nine has now begun her journey to humanity, by indicating that her favorite color is red, and Janeway presents her with a combadge offering that Seven can contact her at any time.

As Seven begins her journey, Tuvok takes a moment to honor another journey that has ended by lighting a candle in his quarters for Kes. Voyager heads on…into the unknown.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

In a way, this is the real season four premiere of Star Trek Voyager as it is an episode of both beginnings and endings. Let’s start with the beginnings shall we?

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While Scorpion completed the story introduced at the end of Season Three, we don’t really get a chance to get to know Seven of Nine during her first appearance. During Scorpion she is merely a Drone who was chosen to speak for the collective, nothing more. She had no real personality of her own outside of literally following the orders of the Collective itself but it seems that there was more to this drone than met the eye. Seven is an interesting character as she is a Borg who has never truly known her human side. Having been assimilated at an early age, most of her memories have been repressed or forgotten over time. As a human, It is already hard to remember specifics of your childhood. Try to remember an event when you were six or eight years old. If you can, you are really quite unique, many of us have a difficult time remembering specifics…but the thing it…we don’t have to. All of our memories and experiences have shaped the person you are today, the person you have become. Now imagine being kidnapped at the age of eight only to be raised as someone else who gives you major reconstructive surgery. With that surgery, imagine having your identity stripped and, over time, being convinced that you are an entirely different person, not even a person but nothing more than a slave or a drone with no name only a number.

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Now imagine being pulled away from that new life as an adult and being told that you are not who you believe. That you are in fact an entirely different species with an entirely different history. That you have a chance to have an real identity for the first time ever. While it might sound good to us, seeing that we already understand this freedom, imagine how devastating this revelation would be for someone who has never really experienced individuality? Not only are you not who you believe yourself to be but you have are actually a victim of a horrible crime. This is what Seven Of Nine is going through but on a scale beyond what most people could imagine. Not only is she being forced to rediscover a person she may have been she is also being forced to accept that she will have to be responsible for herself for the first time in her life. This revelation is one that Seven is grappling with and although she seems to have accepted that she has to explore this new life, she isn’t quite out of the woods yet.

I love Seven of Nine’s story and, while her transformation from Borg Drone to Sexy Silver Suited Seven may have been a little rushed, her ongoing story is a fascinating one that really pushes the series in a whole new direction. Sometimes it does seem like Voyager becomes the Seven of Nine show… but really there are some solid stories ahead.

Now…about the endings.

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For three seasons we have come to know and love the character of Kes. While she may have started off as a waiting pixie like character, this past season Kes has really come into her own. Not only has she found a friend in The Doctor, even serving as his protege, she has found her own footing as an individual. While much of her time did seem to be in the shadow of Neelix, their separation actually helped make them both better characters allowing each of them to grow. Then…in what I would consider a very premature way…she was gone.

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While her abilities were established sometime back after having met the other Ocampan’s who fled their home planet, she really never explored those powers much. It almost seemed a shame seeing that the writers of the series had a very interesting character on their hands that they really didn’t know what to do with. Here was a young woman who was raised in the belief that she had only approx 9 years of life and that she would never see the stars, let alone the surface of her own planet. Not only does she find out that she could live longer using her latent abilities but she gets to see more than the surface, she gets to see the stars. Kes is in fact the personification of Star Trek. She is an explorer who finds that the universe is filled with interesting and amazing things. While she never gets to return home to tell her people about what she found, here is the perfect character that viewers could have connected with. She could have been the window into Star Trek allowing us to see through her experiences as she explored strange new worlds and met up with new life and new civilizations…only they didn’t do that. Instead…they wanted ratings and wanted sexy and so…Kes was forced to become a being of energy and quickly whisked off the ship to make room for Sexy Silver Suited Seven.

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Now, as I indicated above, I really love the character of Seven of Nine, or rather the character she becomes, but it felt like such a blow to the character of Kes to get a start in a new season only to be pushed out by someone new. I understand there were some issues on set and some ill will, of which we will not discuss here, but even if this was to be Kes’ ultimate fate…it felt a little sudden…a little rushed. How amazing would it have been to build up to this over the course of a season, to give her a proper outro. Sure, we get a halfhearted attempt at that later on but seriously…this could have been handled much better. Heck, I would have been thrilled if The Traveler showed up with Wesley in tow offering Kes a chance to join him ala Doctor Who whisking her away to some unknown adventures. I mean, at least that would have given her character some cool connection to another series and would have left the door open for her return from time to time….. alas…it was not meant to be. I do appreciate that she gave Voyager a nice push but she cost them some serious damage and even a shuttle craft in the process. They only have two left now!

Overall, this is a decent but ultimately unsatisfying episode. While it does establish an incredible new character, it only does so with the loss of one that had so much potential.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • 0 photon torpedoes fired, 22 remaining.
  • 1 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, 2 remaining.
  • The Doctor never got to say goodbye to Kes.. Think about that for a minute.
  • This is not the last we see of Kes…but then again…seeing what happens maybe it should have been.
  • I do find it interesting that Kes pushes Voyager well past Warp 10 and not one crew-member turns into a salamander. NOT ONE! What kind of shenanigans are going on here….did they just fold space? I think they folded space.
  • Oh…and just because they are out of Borg space…yeah the Borg are certainly not gone.

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: Day of Honor
more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 9/9/2020

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No Harry Kim, We will not assimilate you…not even the Borg have a place for the Eternal Ensign.

Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

2 thoughts on “Retro TV Review: Star Trek Voyager SSN 4 Episode Two: The Gift

  1. Terrific post! I especially loved the paragraphs you wrote about Seven. She really was one of the most interesting characters in Star Trek, but like you I was saddened by the departure of Kes. In the end though this move did save the show, as I remember back in those days that Voyager might have been cancelled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seven had the benefit of being written for the show and mostly fully formed from the get go. Jeri Ryan does such a tremendous job with her development as well. That being said I really wish they had found a way to keep Kes a little longer to give her a proper send off.

      Like

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