A theft gone wrong, the return of an old enemy and the last temptation of Seven… originally broadcast on February 17, 1999 this is Dark Frontier.

The Episode:

Captain’s Log Stardate 52619.2  Dark Frontier

Janeway runs afoul of the Borg Queen when she tried to steal transwarp technology from the Borg.  Soon it is up to Seven to decide between the fate of herself or the fate of her crew.

The Story:

This is a LONG episode so I am going to truncate the synopsis as much as possible.  Trust me, otherwise this would be a massively long entry neither of us wants to deal with. Let’s start shall we?

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Voyager runs into a Borg scout ship and, after a brief fight, ends up destroying it by beaming a photon torpedo onto it.  Unfortunately their plan was not to destroy it but disable it as they are trying to capture Borg Technology to take them home, specifically the transwarp coil.

Investigating the wreckage, they find the parts they want but the explosion has rendered it unusable.  Seven explains that this is likely on purpose as the Borg ensure their technology self destructs if a ship is critically damaged.  Seven does, however, find data nodes that contain vital information about the Borg vessels in the area.   Using the information they find a conveniently damaged Borg Sphere not far from them and decide to make a go for it.  Dubbed ‘Operation Fort Knox’ the senior staff put together a plan to infiltrate the Borg Vessel and escape unscathed. As they finalize their plans, Seven is tasked with going through the logs of her deceased parents in order to find any information that may be useful.

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hey!  I had that ship! That looks like the Playmates Borg Cube from First Contact….hmmmm.

Flash back to the USS Raven where we witness Magnus and Erin Hansen (Seven’s Parents) as they investigate the Borg.  With their daughter Annika in tow asking questions about the Borg, the couple soon cross into the Romulan Neutral Zone only to eventually come face to face with a Borg Cube.  However, even though it scans them, the cube leaves them alone allowing the Hansens to follow it.

Seven is pulled back from her reading after being hailed by Chakotay that they have encountered the damaged Borg Sphere.  With only a 72 hour window before the sphere comes back online, the crew begin their drills to invade the Borg vessel.

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Armed with phaser rifles and led by Janeway, a small group explore the vessel.  With Chakotay operating from the Bridge of Voyager, the group is able to steal the trans-warp coil but they are too late and the ship begins to awaken. Seven freezes causing a slight delay and things go from bad to worse when the Borg begin beaming aboard Voyager prompting Chakotay to freeze the program and end the simulation. It seems that their mission is impossible as they will only have two minutes to steal the technology and escape.  Janeway checks on Seven who seemed to have trouble on the mission, but Seven assures the Captain that she will be fine.

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Seven begins to settle down for another study session of her parent’s notes when Naomi Wildman arrives asking the same questions Seven asked her parents as a child. Suddenly a Borg implant erupts from her face and the child informs Seven that she is now Borg.  Seven realizes that the Borg are all around her as a voice tells her that The Borg are well aware of their plan and promise that it will fail.  Her only option is to rejoin the collective in order to save Voyager. Soon everything returns as it was and Seven finds herself alone in her cargo bay.

We see another flashback to the Raven where the Hansen’s manage to jump into a trans-warp corridor and travel to the Delta Quadrant undetected.  Magnus has boarded a cube but is able to remain undetected using bio-dampeners.  He watches and reports back to his wife about his findings.

Back on Voyager, Seven uses her new information about bio-dampeners to see if there is something they can use.  The Doctor is pleased to announce that he can make one for each away team member allowing them to remain on the sphere longer than the two minute window they had.  Seven is distraught at the idea that the crew of Voyager is taking so much risk as even her parents, who were experts on the Borg, were assimilated.  Janeway pulls Seven off of the away team as she has noted some trepidation about the upcoming mission.  Seven convinces the Captain that she needs Seven on the team and is reinstated.

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Voyager launches a shuttle as a decoy and, just as it is taken by the Borg, Janeway and her team beam aboard the sphere using their new bio-dampeners. They get onboard and it is soon apparent that Seven is having difficulty.  Seven informs Janeway that she plans to return to the Collective and, soon things turn sour as the Borg begin to attack.  Janeway and her team, minus Seven, manage to escape just as the Borg cube jumps into transwarp and speeds away.

Seven soon finds herself at the sight of a massive Borg Station where she encounters the Borg Queen who welcomes her home.  The Queen notes how unique Seven has become and wishes to add Seven to their perfection.

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Back on Voyager, Janeway struggles with Seven’s defection but Chakotay surmises that this has been the former drone’s plan all along.  Janeway dismisses this as she has seen so much growth in Seven, and believes that something else is happening.  In her ready room, Janeway is reviewing sensor logs when she is interrupted by Naomi Wildman who has a plan to save Seven.  Appreciative Janeway commends the young child assuring Naomi that they will do all the can to save their missing crew-member.  As they talk, Janeway’s sensor analysis completes and they both discover that the Borg have been sending signals to Cargo Bay 2, where Seven regenerated.

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Back on the Borg Vessel, Seven learns that the Borg Queen wants to use Seven’s unique nature as a way to finally assimilate Humanity.  Having already failed twice, the Queen is determined to finally assimilate this most resistant species.  Seven assures the Queen that humanity will continue to resist.   In response, the Queen takes Seven to a planetary assimilation of Species 10026 so she can remind Seven of who and what she is.

Another flashback to The Raven reveals that the Hansen’s discover the existence of a Borg Queen and continue to study the Borg via a captured drone that they begin to track.

On Voyager, Janeway and Chakotay analyse the Raven’s logs learning about the Borg Queen and her possible connection to Seven. Janeway realizes that Seven sacrificed herself to save the crew as the mission was doomed to failure. Determined to save her missing crew-member, Janeway informs the crew that they will be launching a rescue mission in order to find and retrieve Seven of Nine.  Using the stolen transwarp coil, they outfit the Delta Flyer with the technology and Voyager follows it toward the Sphere that took Seven.

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Back on the Borg ship, Seven watches as the Borg begin to assimilate species 10026.  Struggling with what she is seeing she arranges for a small group of the aliens to escape.  After the assimilation of the Species is completed, the Borg Queen revels in her victory allowing Seven to ‘feel’ the sensation of more people being added to the collective.  Seven is appalled and refuses to take pleasure in the destruction of a species.  Soon the Borg Queen discovers Seven’s betrayal of letting some of the aliens go.  Using these people as a lesson, the Queen recaptures the ship as Seven pleads to allow them to live.  The Queen suddenly and unexpectedly releases the ship allowing them to run away.  Seven is shocked and the Queen gives no answers to her sudden apparent compassion.

After another flashback this time depicting The USS Raven running from the Borg, the Doctor determines a way to communicate with Seven.  Dropping from trans-warp the crew of the Delta Flyer are shocked at the sight of the Unicomplex containing trillions of  Borg drones.   Safely behind their adaptive cloak, the ship begins to scan for Seven.

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Back on the Borg Ship, the Queen informs Seven that she is to assist in finalizing a Borg Virus that will be used to assimilate Earth over the course of several years. Seven refuses to assist insisting that she is an individual and her name is Annika Hansen.   Using this, the Borg queen reveals that Magnus is still with her and brings him out in his Drone Form.  Just as Seven is about to break down she hears a message from Janeway encouraging her that they are there to save her.   The Queen realizes what is going on and blocks the incoming signal.

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What follows is a complicated rescue mission that ultimately results in Seven deciding between Janeway and the Borg Queen.  Seven of course chooses to be with Voyager and escapes.  This results in a chase sequence with the Delta Flyer being pursued by the Borg Queen’s vessel.  The Flyer leads the Queen’s vessel out of Transwarp where Voyager has been waiting and destroys the Borg ship with Photon Torpedoes.

Using the stolen transwarp drive they are able to travel another 20,000 light-years (or 15 years) closer to home as Seven recovers from her encounter.  Seven and Janeway discuss the events with Seven volunteering some of the tactical data she acquired during her time at Unimatrix 01.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

Holy Moly was that a long episode, but I gotta say, it was a pretty exciting one at that.  We all knew that the Borg would make a comeback, I mean, come on, since they were first established to be living in the Delta Quadrant there was no way that we would be done with them.  However, no one expected the Borg Queen to make an appearance especially after her apparent destruction in Star Trek First Contact (something that was explained more recently in Picard!).

When this episode was first announced there was a tone of hoopla about the fact that Voyager would be featuring a feature length episode that would shake the series up in some serious ways. In a way, this is the Oceans 11 for Voyager but with much higher stakes than just going to jail, in fact, this heist is one that could have resulted in the assimilation of the entire ship and crew but hey, why not right?

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This episode is really solid as an adventure serving not only as a continuation of the Borg story on Voyager but also a followup to both Star Trek First Contact and the classic STNG episode entitled The Neutral Zone.  If you go back to that episode you will see that the Enterprise is investigating the mysterious disappearance of an entire colony that seemed to have been ‘scooped’ off of the planet.  The Romulans are doing the same and neither figure out who did it by the end of the episode.  This single event implied that the Borg had been exploring Sector 001 well before the Enterprise encountered them thanks to Q and that that encounter only pushed them to escalate their plans.  This event also encouraged others like the Hansens to begin researching the Borg with only fragments of stories to go on, likely some from the Al Aurians who escaped the Borg prior to the events of Generations.   This gives the Hansens a rather interesting connection to the Borg and the history we have come to know making Seven all that more integrated into the larger scheme of things.  That being said, the Hansens were terrible parents.

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I mean, seriously.  Who in their right mind would consider taking a child into unknown space as they searched for a species who could literally scoop up an entire colony? Erin and Magnus Hansen could have just left Annika on Earth with her Aunt promising to come back eventually.  Sure this would have prevented Seven from joining the crew as a Borg but she may have joined Starfleet instead as Annika Hansen.  Heck, I can imagine an alternate universe where Annika joins Starfleet and ends up on Voyager only to get swept into the Delta Quadrant.  She then discovers the fate of her parents and has to deal with these events as a human.  I wonder if this could be the Kelvin Universe version of history.  heh. Needless to say, the Hansens are terrible parents who honestly should never have had kids to begin with…but is Janeway any better?

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While I love the action and adventure of this episode, I have an issue with Janeway’s rather cavalier attitude concerning the Borg.  Knowing that this species poses an extreme risk she has no issue at all at risking her entire crew at the slim chance to get a device to get them home.  The safe and…well responsible thing to use the Borg Ship data for would be to avoid the Borg and safely leave their space but is seems that Janeway is either board or woke up with a death-wish that day because she never seems to once stop and consider that this might be a bad idea.

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One aspect I absolutely love about this episode is we really see how much Seven has grown as a character.  Knowing that her crew members are walking into a trap but also knowing that they will be attacked if they don’t, she willingly sacrifices herself to save everyone aboard Voyager.  While she foolishly keeps this plan to herself, it is an admirable effort for her to do thing showing that she has developed true feelings for her new family even accepting them as her own replacement collective.  Also, despite the fact that Janeway is ultimately responsible for Seven’s kidnapping, her determination to get her crew-member back is admirable.  Interestingly, they only accidentally got the technology they wanted due to the events of this episode.  Had the Borg Queen not insisted that Seven give herself up, the mission would have failed and  Voyager would have been assimilated. It is because of Seven that they got the technology that they needed to use to rescue her and subsequently get closer to home.  Who knows how much energy they wasted doing all of this as we have seen time and again that Voyager keeps running low on some resource but no one cared to consider that this time around.

Bottom line, this episode is filled with flaws and issues if you dig deep enough but overall, it’s a fun episode that gives us the fight with the Borg we have been wanting as well as the return of one of the best Villains of the Star Trek universe, The Borg Queen. If you think this is the last we see of the Borg Queen, you are gravely mistaken, she is not done with her vengeance against Janeway and Voyager and will most certainly return.  While at some point it does seem a little bit of Borg overkill, this species certainly makes it’s mark on the ship and crew.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

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  • 7 photon torpedoes fired, -10 remaining.
  • 1 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -5 remaining
  • *technically this is a double episode and is considered both Episode 15 and 16, however, for the purpose of this blog, I am considering it a single episode as it was not broken into two parts.
  • We are introduced to several new Borg ships in this episode, The Borg Scout Ship, the Borg Queen’s Diamond Ship and the Borg Unicomplex all of which are never seen again.
  • Species 10026 looks remarkably like another species we have yet to meet known as the Brunali and is the species of a character who will be very important to Seven and the crew a little further down the line. I wonder if that was the original intent… hmmm could Icheb really be one of the people who were assimilated while Seven was on the Borg Queen’s vessel?
  • It seems that this episode establishes that Seven’s ‘human’ eye is replaced with a Borg one so she now has two enhanced cybernetic eyes.  I had previously wondered about this in one of my Picard reviews, this just shows, the writers of Picard really did their research.
  • The Queen claims that Seven is the only Borg to have left the collective…I guess she forgot about Locutus and Hugh and the whole Cooperative in the Nekrit Expanse.
  • We learn that the current Borg Queen’s body came from Species 125 and that human’s have been designated Species 5618.
  • If the Borg did launch a bio-weapon to assimilate all lifeforms on Earth does that mean we would have Borg Rabbits, Board Deer, Borg Dogs, Cats, and more….dude.

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: The Disease

For more reviews: check out the 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  12/7/2020

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Kid, there are three rules to being a Captain’s Assistant, ‘Keep Your shirt tucked in, Go down with the ship, and never ignore the chance to find a coffee nebula.’ 

 

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.”

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