The saga of Icheb begins when he returns home…only to find out that you can’t go home again. Originally broadcast on March 8, 2000 this is Child’s Play.
Captain’s Log Stardate undetermined: Child’s Play
Icheb returns home only to discover that he might have been placed in harms way on purpose and Seven realizes that she has feelings for these kids that she never expected to have.
After a successful science faire with Naomi and the Borg Kids…(hey…that sounds like a band) where Icheb shows an aptitude for engineering and astrophysics, Janeway informs Seven that they have found the young man’s homeworld and expect to reunite him with his family soon.
Seven attempts to break the news to Icheb while they are in Astrometrics but is unable to as he has become enthralled in exploring the galaxy via the viewscreen. Since working in Astrometrics he has been able to enhance the ships sensor resolution allowing them to see further than before, impressing Seven to no end preventing her from telling him about finding his people.
After a discussion with Janeway, Seven finally informs Icheb only to find that he is unhappy with this turn of events. His people, the Brunali, are an agrarian society with no interstellar capabilities. Thus he will be unable to continue his education and, as his homeworld is essentially in Borg Space, his life will be under constant threat.
Arriving at the planet, it is clear that the Brunali have had it rough. A regular target for the Borg, they have done all they can to survive. Janeway puts the ship on high alert knowing that they could run into their cybernetic foes at any moment. As the crew prepares, Icheb visits sickbay complaining of stomach issues. There, the Doctor assures the young man that he will be fine, but it is clear that Icheb has no desire to return to a home he never knew.
Beaming to the planet, Janeway and team find a formerly advanced world on the verge of collapse. The Borg has hit them hard yet they keep pushing forward. They soon encounter Icheb’s parents and, much to the surprise of Janeway and the couple, Icheb rejects them claiming that he has no interest in returning home and wishes to return to Voyager.
Back on the ship, Janeway and Seven discuss Icheb’s fate with his parents and soon Seven begins interrogating the Brunali couple even insisiting that they leave their home world as it is not safe for them any longer. This causes Janeway to ask her to leave and, after allowing Leucon and Yifay to remain on board to get to know their son, the Captain leaves to confront her Borg crewmember.
In Janeway’s ready room she and Seven come to a heated discussion where it becomes clear that Seven is projecting her own parental issues onto Icheb’s parents knowing that there is a risk that Icheb will be assimilated again if he should remain behind. Seven soon admits that this is a factor in her uncertanty and Janeway promises to leave the decision up to Icheb. If he chooses to remain on Voyager, they will deal with that however they can.
After a meal with his parents and time to visit their home where he learns how they have adapted to life ‘after Borg’, Icheb somewhat reluctantly agrees to stay with his family. Although Seven is saddened by this, she builds him a portable regeneration unit and discusses Icheb’s assimilation with Icheb’s father, Leucon. Leucon informs Seven that Icheb was taken by the Borg when he left home to investigate a new fertilization array. Seven assures Leucon that it was not his fault and the next morning, Icheb informs the crew that he is departing.
After leaving the planet, Seven and the Borg children are saddened by Icheb’s departure. Soon, however, Seven learns from Mezoti that Icheb was not on the planet when taken like his father claimed, but on a starship. Investigating the claim, she discovers that Icheb was in fact on a class one transport and Seven immediately informs Janeway. Janeway is reluctant to listen siting that Seven is simply having issues accepting that Icheb is gone. When Seven presents her evidence and concern that Leucon lied about Icheb’s assimilation, Janeway agrees to go back and investigate.
Back on the planet, Leucon and Yifay argue about sacrificing Icheb again. His father doesnt not want to lose his son again but Icheb’s Mother insists that there is no other way. Calling Icheb in, they tell him that he is important to them but will never understand why and knocks him out. After he falls unconscious, they begin preparing his ship for launch.
Voyager arrives and soon contacts Leucon and Yifay who are clearly hiding something. When Janeway and Seven begin questioning them, they get defensive and soon it is apparent that Icheb is no longer there. Scanning the system, they soon find that a Brunali Transport ship has been launched heading toward a Borg Transwarp Conduit. Janeway soon learns that the Brunali have infected Icheb with a genetic virus intended to hurt the Borg and that Icheb was the reason the Borg Cube Voyager found had been abandoned. Icheb’s parents have used their son as a weapon to protect their planet and have decided to do so again. Janeway refuses to accept this and sends Voyager after the transport even though they may face the Borg themselves.
Catching up to the transport they find it has attracted a Borg sphere which takes ahold of both Voyager and the transport ship. After much difficulty, Janeway has Icheb transported off of the Brunali ship replacing him with an activated photon torpedo. The moment it detonates, Voyager goes into warp keeping just outside of the blast radius. Although not destroyed, the Borg vessel is heavily damaged and does not pursue Voyager.
With Icheb safely on the ship, Voyager continues toward home and it is soon discovered that Icheb was not infected with the pathogen but actually carries it as he has been genetically modified from birth to be a weapon against the Borg.
Seven breaks the news to Icheb who finds the attempt to be ingenious but Seven corrects him, stating that what his parents did was unacceptable as it was not Icheb’s choice to be used in such a way. They discuss the matter and come to a silent agreement that Icheb will continue his studies aboard Voyager as somewhat of an adopted child of Seven.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is quite the revelatory episode in multiple ways, not only do we find Icheb’s parents, and learn of their ‘experiments’ but we also get a chance to discover more about Seven and her growth as a person and…as a surrogate parent.
Seven’s growth in this series has been quite the journey going from a representative of the Borg Queen to a full fledged individual and crewmember aboard Voyager. While this episode focuses on Icheb and his potential departure from the crew, the emotional growth is Seven is a significant moment for her character giving us a moment where it seems her journey to humanity has reached a point that she was never certain she would get to. This is Seven not only showing a deep emotional reaction to those she cares about but also showing a maternal nature that surprises even herself. While at the time this series aired it felt like Voyager had become the ‘Seven of Nine Show’, looking back, her character was one of the few that had the benefit of an established story line prior to her entry allowing for her character to not only grow exponentially but to thrive. Her experiences also gave other characters, such as Janeway, a chance to explore their own humanity as they discovered that being alone in the Delta quadrant might have hardened them a bit from their own emotions. To me, this episode represents a significant turning point for Seven allowing her to fully realize herself and begin the next part of her journey towards humanity, a journey that continues well beyond this series in fact.
Now, let’s talk about Icheb. This is the first of the Borg Children we really get to know as it is clear his character has a deeper connection to Seven than the others. Icheb is a unique one in that he is not truly a Brunali and no longer a Borg. Having discovered his genetic manipulation since birth, even the existence of his ‘parents’ can be called into question as he is more like a science experiment than their actual child. So, if you really think about it, Icheb is a person without a true home and the fact that Voyager saved him from the Borg not only liberated his individuality but gave him a chance to become the person he would never have had a chance to be otherwise. I love the character of Icheb and I really wish we had a chance to see his rise in rank in Star Fleet prior to the events of Picard. Who knows, maybe we will get to see him on Lower Decks at some point? Maybe he could serve on the Titan with Riker, or even the Enterprise with Picard or Worf? I mean, who better for a former drone to serve with than people who have encountered the Borg almost as much as Voyager herself?
Overall, this is a tremendous episode that gives us some significant character development while also setting things up for later stories. Don’t think this encounter with the Borg will be Voyager’s last…
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- 1 photon torpedoes used, -16 remaining.
- 0 shuttlecraft lost or destroyed, -4 remaining
- You might recognize classic SciFi actor Mark Sheppard as Icheb’s father, Leucon. Sheppard has been in everything from Supernatural to Firefly to Doctor Who so seeing him on Voyager was certainly a treat.
- I have to ask….where did the Borg twins find a Potato to clone and why has Neelix been cooking with Leola Root when Potatoes have been available? If I were the crew I would be PISSED.
- We never see nor hear from the Brunali again….maybe we will on Discovery or another series at some point?
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: Good Shepherd
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Late To The Game 2/12/2021
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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