The Borg return but…not quite as expected. Originally broadcast on February 16, 2000 this is Collective.
Captain’s Log Stardate Undetermined: Collective
After finding a damaged Borg cube, Seven of Nine and the crew are shocked to find it run by a group of Borg children.
After a poker game is interrupted by a Borg cube approaching, Chakotay and his team race back toward Voyager in the Delta Flyer in order to avoid being assimilated. Before long they are drawn into the cube where Chakotay, Neelix and Paris awaken to find Harry Kim missing. Determined to escape and save their friend, they begin looking for a way out of their force field imprisonment.
On Voyager, the crew begin searching for the Delta Flyer as it has suddenly gone missing. Detecting a Borg cube, the crew begin to fear the worst but, when the Borg cube attacks, Seven notes that it seems to be behaving strangely. Disabling the Cubes weapons and detecting unassimilated survivors on the cube, Janeway is shocked when the Borg offer an exchange, their missing crewmembers for parts of Voyager itself. Janeway responds to the hail agreeing to send a representative to negotiate. Sending Seven, the former drone is shocked to learn that the Borg cube is in fact being operated by Borg Children.
Seven learns that the children have been separated from the collective but their leader, who calls himself First, is convinced that the Borg will return for them. Seven finds her crewmates alive and healthy, noting the absence of Harry Kim. On Voyager, the Doctor learns that a pathogen was responsible for killing off the Borg drones and Janeway orders him to prepare that pathogen for a possible second option should they need to eliminate these dangerous children. Harry wakes on the captured Delta flyer and begins to work on a way to contact Janeway on order to mount a rescue.
Janeway visits the Borg cube informing the children that she will not make the trade but will assist in repairs. Janeway leaves after being threatened by First, and begins her plans to end this very strange situation they are in. As she discusses the matter with Tuvok, they are interrupted by a signal from Harry who is given instructions to sabotage the Borg cube’s shields from the inside.
As Seven works with the children, she begins to attempt to get them to remember their past. Second begins to realize that First has been lying to them about being unable to repair themselves without the Borg as Seven begins to lay the seeds of doubt. Seven returns to Voyager with news that the Borg did receive this cubes distress call but chose to ignore it as it no longer served any purpose to them. The children have been permanently severed from the collective and are now unaware that they are indeed alone. Janeway believes that this could help these children regain their individuality and Seven, although doubtful, agrees that it is worth the attempt.
Back on the cube, Seven continues to assist with repairs but falls under the ire of First when he accuses her of stalling. She begins to try to convince him that they can become human and still follow the Borg ideology of searching for perfection. Soon they are interupted by a Borg Infant which is dying and, after a brief debate, Seven beams the infant to Voyager for the Doctor to save.
Harry begins his sabotage but is caught by the child drones. They use his attempts as a reason to distrust Seven and inform her that they have injected Harry with nanoprobes that will kill him if they don’t get what they want. After a brief hostage negotiation, the hostages are freed against First’s will causing serious issues with his leadership forcing the others to disobey him. They defend Seven and in a final fight, First attempts to save the cube before it can be destroyed ultimately causing his own death. Seven takes the children to the ship and, with the help of the Doctor and Janeway, she begins the process of returning them to their original state. Now known as Icheb, Mezoti, Azan and Rebi, Seven has been given guardianship over these youth in the hopes that they can eventually find their homes.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Collective marks a major turning point for both Voyager and Seven of Nine herself. So far Seven’s journey has been about her own return to own humanity but, with the appearance of these Borg Children, Seven’s trajectory has changed. The events of this episode has forced her to to take on a parental position allowing for some significant growth to come. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves.
The episode itself is one of the most unique views on the Borg and their culture. It is finally established that youth assimilated by the Borg are indeed placed in Maturation chambers until they are ‘old enough’ to act as proper drones. These maturation chambers were first seen in STNG with an infant Borg but, until now, we have never again encountered a Borg child. One thing I found interesting about this episode is that we see how easy it is for the Borg to dismiss parts of the collective that they have deemed no longer necessary. Although the cube was still intact the Collective simply abandoned them with no regard for their continued existence as the children were seen as damaged and insignificant. I guess children aren’t really necessary if they can just take more on a whim…
The cool thing about this episode is that it marks the beginning of another journey that ends with the Picard series. In addition to Mezoti, Aszan and Rebi we meet Icheb who quickly becomes like a son to Seven of Nine. Played initially by Manu Intiraymi, Icheb’s journey is an impressive one with him transforming from being a Borg drone to a Star Fleet officer. While Icheb’s end is quite the tragic one, it is a really great journey that has many years unseen. Who knows, maybe we will get a chance to see him in Lower Decks at some point? That would be pretty great.
One interesting parallel in this is between Seven and First. First is determined to keep this small Borg group together much like she was when Seven and a few other drones were separated from the collective. In that event, Seven was insistent that she and the others be returned to the collective to the point that she created a temporary collective that would come back to haunt her. At one point she was in the same position as First and would have done exactly as he did. To have her face off against First and his determination to return to the collective is very much a moment of change for Seven showing how far she has come as an individual.
Overall, this is a great episode that establishes some great characters who will continue to be a pretty important part of the series from here on out. What fate befalls on the Borg kids (other that Icheb that is)? Well, that would be telling wouldn’t it?
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 0 photon torpedoes fired, -15 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -5 remaining
- We never find out what happens to the Borg Infant that was beamed over to the ship.
- I was sad to see First killed like he was but it makes sense, the kid was long lost.
- Apparently Borg cubes have no value to Voyager either because it seems they just abandoned it. I mean, surely something on board would have been worth salvaging? Especially when they have so many power issues…
- Poker once again appears as the past time for Star Fleet officers…for a species who have no use for money, they sure love gambling.
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: Spirit Folk
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Late To The Game 2/5/2021
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.
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