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Star Trek Voyager review – Workforce II

Summary: Season 7 presents us with a kinder gentler Voyager two parter. A view from the Isle of the Lotus. And for once working within the system works out.

Traditionally the Star Trek two parters have been action heavy special effects extravaganzas specializing in epic confrontations and terrible

star trek voyager Workforce

"My quarters... they look like a Star Trek fan here"

disasters. Episodes like Basics, Year of Hell, Scorpion, The Killing Game, Dark Frontier, Unimatrix Zero certainly fit that bill. Three of them involved the Borg, two of them featured the crew and the ship being taken prisoner and one of them featured the destruction of Voyager itself. But this season under new management, Voyager has featured a kinder and gentler two parter. Flesh and Blood had the essential trappings of the standard Voyager two parter but it was a much more character oriented show than any of the prior two parters. Workforce is essentially more in the tradition of episodes like One and Memorial and has far more in common with them than it does with Scorpion or Unimatrix Zero..

Normally Workforce might have run as a one hour episode with the ParisTorres and Seven subplots trimmed along with most of the special effects sequences and some of the action scenes and would have ended with the usual abrupt “30 seconds before closing time” ending that essentially occurs because the show has run out of time. And that would have been a shame and a waste because an effective if not particularly mind-blowing two part episode would have been replaced by another Prophecy or another Shattered, a poorly thought out and unfocused episode that possibly had potential but never got anywhere. The extra space of a two parter however allows the story to really be developed, it allows for the insertion of all those little subplots that round out an episode. And what special effects exist are mainly focused on establishing shots including some absolutely stunning and complex shots of the alien city and some striking footage of Voyager resting at the bottom of a crater. The space battles that occur are few and far between and not really the focus of the story.

But this doesn’t mean that Workforce isn’t a major and essential part of Voyager’s story. Voyager’s journey home has been modeled after Homer’s Odyssey. Voyager was thrown of course into the Delta Quadrant by the 24th century equivalent of a God. In Scorpion Voyager has found itself trapped between Scylla and Charbodis, represented by Species 8472 and the Borg. Which particular alien encounters in Voyager’s history could be said to represent the Cyclops, the Laestrygons or the Sirens is left as an excercise to the reader. But Workforce of course is linked to the Isle of the Lotus. For seven years Voyager has been on an obsessive quest for Earth, for home. More specifically it’s been Janeway’s obsessive quest but the real test of any quest is to present the hero with a way of surrendering the quest that in some ways is equal or even superior to continuing the quest. A chance to give up and enjoy some sort of illusory happiness.

Now it might not be all that shocking to see Chakotay or Paris and Torres partake of the lotus, after all they’re essentially people with short attention spans that focus on goals of some personal importance. They can be happy and do what they want just about anywhere. If the Voyager mission hadn’t come along, they would have found some other niche or gotten themselves killed in some other way. Janeway though is a bureaucrat and a bureaucrat is second cousin to a machine. She thinks only in terms of goals and purposes, which generally have nothing to do with her. What little happiness she gets out of life comes from merging her own identity with that of her position and mission until she can’t tell the difference between herself and her command. This has led her into completely sociopathic behavior but it also makes her virtually inflexible when it comes to accomplishing her goals. And this is why having her taste the lotus is far more shocking than for it to happen to any of the other crew members.

And yet here brainwashed and enslaved on an alien planet, for the first time in seven years of voyaging Janeway gets to be a human being. She has a job she enjoys, a relationship with real intimacy and a home of sorts. Though it may be based on false memories, it’s also more real than anything she’d done since leaving the Alpha Quadrant. The obsessive martyr complex, the sense of responsibility and the inability to tell where Kathryn Janeway ends and Captain Janeway begins are gone. In its place is a human being. And that tends to be a hero’s ultimate test, the choice to give in to human needs or to choose self-sacrifice and fight on for greater goals. Tuvok may not quite be able to adapt, despite his comprehension of humor “Yes it is funny because he did not understand how your species reproduces”, but just how easily Janeway adapts is shocking and that is what drives the episode. The seduction of the Lotus and the inability of Voyager’s crew members to be themselves.

We know that in the end, despite the odds, any episode involving the crew will end with them successful, surviving and possibly victorious. The inability of the crew to fail is practically a reflex by this point. It’s been a long time since there was a Star Trek episode with any real ambiguity about whether or not the crew will make it out or whether the ending will even be what they wanted. Voyager managed a few genuinely dark endings early on with Basics 2 and The Chute but since then we may not know what an upcoming episode will be about but we can usually take a good guess as to what the last 5 minutes will be, sight unseen. Workforce though takes away the crew’s identities and along with that allows for the suspension of disbelief and the possibility that the crew will fail and even that failure might not be such a terrible thing.

Contrary to the claims of the Borg Queen, being assimilated is not fun, but being part of the Workforce might not be such a bad thing. The end result is a fairly decent life and in the case of Janeway possibly even a better life than the one she had before. The rest of the crew doesn’t seem to be doing all that badly either. Paris was together with Torres again and would no doubt have married her (again) in due time. Seven had found the job she was born to do. This was a Brave New World and a world without Starfleet uniforms or the Federation Starfleet certainty in the optimistic outcome. For once the crew were just people like us, living from day to day and just doing their jobs with no higher goals or sense of invulnerability. With hard work and some terrible risks they pull off a happy ending but they’re not particularly confident or self-assured while doing it. They’re just people put in a bad situation, which in TOS was all that the crews were.

For those who expected Tuvok to just tell Seven what’s going on, then to have Seven communicate with the rest of the crew, set up a device to

star trek voyager Workforce

"Don't worry, in a few months I'll replace you with a hologram"

restore their memories and then have the crew working in tandem with Voyager try to escape; or in other words the conventional Voyager plot we certainly would have seen if this had aired as a one hour episode, here we instead got the exact opposite. Seven is confused and is on the trail of something and even ironically enough views the Workforce area as the interior of a Borg cube for one moment thereby experiencing the paradox of being reassimilated; but she’s a long way from knowing who exactly she is. Janeway has a few moments of bonding with Chakotay but when the test comes between her relationship, her life here on the Isle of the Lotus and her life on Voyager with Chakotay; she chooses the Lotus and betrays Chakotay in a flash.

Indeed none of the Voyager crew, except when B’Elanna as the original sailors of the Odyssey are forcibly dragged away, recover their original memories and identities until they’re back on Voyager. In fact once Chakotay is out of the game, most of the work of uncovering the conspiracy is actually done by a native junior psychiatrist and the equivalent of a police detective. Up until Janeway disables the chief generator, it’s they who uncover most of the dirt and really prod the chief psychiatrist into desperation. Seven encourages them to do what they do but in the end it’s not even the Voyager crew that saves the Voyager crew. Chakotay helps rescue B’Elanna and sows suspicion in Janeway but then is successfully brainwashed. Neelix does nothing particularly useful. The ECH and Kim have several running gun battles with enemy vessels and stay alive but don’t really accomplish very much. Janeway betrays Chakotay and then only really acts when the entire picture has been laid out in front of her at the very end. Paris glowers at people. Seven puzzles out a lot of the necessary information but it’s the classic detective suspended from the force for learning too much who actually moves things along. Unlike their Voyager personalities, none of them are really prepared to take charge and get things done and that is what makes the possibility of their success so ambiguous. Like Janeway they’re capable of doing more, but are too uncertain to take the challenge.

So contrary to the expected cliche we might have thought we’d get from the first part about the evil alien species that kidnaps and brainwashes people, we instead see a complex system that has both good and bad in it. And a system that in some ways mirrors the Federation. The people in charge, even the bad ones, have high ideals. There is the interspecies integration, a system that despite abducting and brainwashing workers also appears to run on merit and to provide a decent place to live at least by the standards of 95 percent of the world as it is today. There is corruption and abuse of power but we’ve also seen the same thing in the Federation. The Chief Psychiatrist who insists that his actions were all justifiable and for the greater good seems to mirror Admiral Dougherty from Star Trek Insurrection who insists that his forced evacuation of the Baku and alliance with criminals was for the greater good of the Federation. Indeed it’s easy enough to see the Chief Psychiatrist holding down a job with Section 31, possibly working on designing the changeling virus. Instead of giving us another alien of the week, Workforce presents an alternate Federation or quite possibly the Federation as it might have looked 200 years ago. Before there were transporters and replicators and white gleaming surfaces everywhere, post WW3 earth at the Birth of the Federation might have looked a lot like the Quaren homeworld with the same positive and negative aspects that would be carried along into its future.

And this only makes this particular Isle of the Lotus only more compelling as a potential alternative home to Earth because it’s not just some alien planet, in many ways it is an analogue of the Federation and home itself. The writers might have pushed their analogy further by giving it the sheen and clean look of 24th century earth but as it is the point comes across. And as in the Federation there are also higher powers who can correct the errors of the system, whereas with the usual aliens of the week, Voyager has to browbeat them into accepting the Federation solution. The Quarren already have a system in place and it is the Quarren who do most of the work in uncovering their own crimes. It’s also what makes it all the more disturbing. One of the horrors of the Borg focused on how close to home it hit, the Quarren homeworld also hits close to home because our world is currently closer to theirs than it is to the Borg. It’s also close enough to the Federation and us to have people both good and evil, all driven by ideals we can relate to. This makes a scene in which Roxann Dawson cuts from the sharp instruments lying on an operating table table to be used on their victim to the supposedly free and open corporate society of the bar into which the Doctor’s phrase “We’ll help him” follows seem all the more disturbing and downright chilling. “We’ll help him” has always been the Star Trek ideal and the implications of how that can be perverted and how vulnerable the Federation is to such a perversion makes the Quarren society problematic in a way that defies any easy resolution.

And Roxann Dawson’s direction indeed carries on from the Kroeker directed Part 1 very nicely and smoothly. She manages to combine the

star trek voyager Workforce

Get Foundation Imaging on the phone, we're going to need bigger explosions

talent for filming character oriented scenes she showed in Riddles with the work a peak Trek director is expected to do on a more epic episode like Workforce. Handing over the payoff for a two part episode to an amateur like Dawson was a definite risk but it clearly pays off. From the very effective use of shadows in the JanewayChakotay confrontation and especially the dermal regeneration scene (which also cleverly manages to save FX dollars and still look better than the FX scene would have) to the camera work on the quieter moments between her and Neelix; this is surprisingly professional work. It’s almost as shocking to see her be this good behind the camera as it was to see Avery Brooks turn out be better as a director than he was as an actor. It’s nice to see that in concord with TOS’s Leonard Nimoy, TNG’s Jonathan Frakes and DS9’s Avery Brooks; Voyager has produced its own professional director from among its cast.

So all in all, Voyager season seven has taken plenty of risks that didn’t pan out. Workforce however has taken a large number of risks that have. First setting a two part episode around a storyline that focused more on the characters and much less on the action and FX quotient. Secondly by putting much of the resolution of the story into the hands of the aliens and making them more complex than your usual Hirogen. Thirdly by actually letting Janeway be a human being ever so briefly and tempting her with the opportunity to step off the cross and into life (and of course letting the ECH demonstrate that Voyager would have done just as well without her.) And finally by avoiding most of the obvious and easy plot gimmicks and let the characters actually struggle to work things out, something we rarely see on Voyager. Appropriate enough in an episode entitled Workforce.

Next week: Seven of Nine as UPN’s obnoxious promo department has always wanted you to see her.

Star Trek Voyager Unimatrix Zero II review

Frequently Star Trek two parters have suffered from the difficulty of having the second part deliver on the setup of the first part. The second part of Best of Both Worlds couldn’t quite live up to the first part and much the same could be said for other TNG Borg two parters such as Descent. While Unimatrix Zero doesn’t suffer from that particular problem in that UZII is actually superior to UZI, both parts suffer from a lack of cohesion in the basic episode structure. Like Best of Both Worlds, Unimatrix Zero was not properly planned out and like Best of Both Worlds the writers of Unimatrix Zero seemed to expect the episode to get by on the special effects, the Borg and the heroism of the characters but what worked for Best of Both Worlds once again fails to work for Voyager.

That’s not to say that Unimatrix Zero doesn’t have its share of effective character scenes, battle scenes and action scenes because it certainly star trek voyager unimatrix zero does. It also manages to fix most of the damage done to the Borg Queen’s character in UZI while setting up a Borg revolt story far superior to TNG’s own Descent. But like too many Voyager episodes it is troubled by a Seven storyline that doesn’t quite properly fit with the tone of the main story and takes away from the suspense and drama of the Borg struggle on far too many occasions. It’s just really hard to seriously accept the horror and danger of Janeway and Co. being assimilated and on the run in a Borg cube when the next scene features “Seven in Love” and it would have helped quite a bit if Janeway and Co. realized they were in terrible danger instead of behaving as if this was just a casual away mission on any alien spacecraft. This is a pervasive problem with Voyager and its failure to synchronize realistic character behavior with the situation.

Lt. Torres casually shoots Borg wires out of her wrist, Janeway walks around with a head full of flashlights and while their bodies have been pretty much ripped apart and filled with implants and gadgets inside and outside they have no particularly strong reaction to this. True they may be Starfleet officers but this is the kind of thing that would be extremely disturbing and mind-wrenching to just about anybody. And not only are they excessively casual about this but Chakotay and Co. shed little light on why they decided on such a desperate and suicidal set of measures. While there are some brief scenes in which Chakotay once again demonstrates why he’d make a better Captain than Janeway, too much time is expended on Seven learning to love again. Seven’s emotional development is a major part star trek voyager unimatrix zeroof Voyager’s arc to be certain and there are certain thematic parallels to the main story but it still feels like time wasted to have Seven and the Doc chatting about whether or not she loves Mr. Borg Right while the ultimate showdown with the Borg is about to begin.

Still the episode does pick up for its second half when the crisis does come to a head and Janeway and Co. are forced to make some tough choices. The Borg Queen after one movie and another two parter comes into her own as a villain. Her scenes confronting Janeway and those within Unimatrix Zero finally give her the motivation and depth that she’s never had before. Whether chillingly demonstrating the willingness of the Borg Collective to go to extreme lengths to cleanse itself of the infection of individuality or telling a little boy that being a drone is “just like having a lot of friends” it’s she who saves Unimatrix Zero from being just another Borg FX episode. That and the introduction of Voyager’s offbeat style featuring the Borg Klingon general who manages to demonstrate that assimilating Klingons just pisses them off.

The destruction of Unimatrix Zero is a shocking and unexpected solution but consistent with the theme of destroying paradise to save it. Seven’s final embrace is unrealistic and cliched but it’s not nearly as painful and annoying as most of Seven’s romance scenes coming before this. For those following the technical and strategic maneuvers in the last half, the destruction of Unimatrix Zero works as an effective payoff because while Mike Vejar’s direction might not have made Unimatrix Zero a coherent whole, he, along with the writers, did realize that for there to be suspense and an effective resolution to a crisis, things have to look pretty bad towards the end and the villain has to be developed and her motivations have to play a major role in the story. While this sounds pretty simple, the amount of times Star Trek episodes (and even worse movies) have failed to take it into account is simply mind-blowing. Unimatrix Zero doesn’t forget it and so the second half of the second part comes back to redeem the episode. And while in the final analysis this is far from a great Star Trek classic, it’s a good resolution, a watchable episode and sets up plenty of storylines for the rest of the season…something season openers should have been doing in Voyager all along.

Star Trek Voyager Unimatrix Zero Review

There are few things in life more insubstantial than a dream and few more artificial than the Borg. Ever since they were introduced in the Next Generation there isn’t a weapon that Starfleet hasn’t tried to use against them. Phasers, photon torpedoes, anti-matter spreads have all been tried and in the long run have failed. Whatever is thrown at the Borg, the Borg adapt to. Whatever weapon can be thought of the Borg can counter drawing from their seemingly infinite reserve of captive minds and stolen technologies. Yet there is no empire so strong it cannot fall from within and no dictatorship so totally in control of its subjects’ minds that it cannot fall prey to their desire for freedom. The Borg are the ultimate totalitarian state, the logical cybernetic extension of Zamyatin’s Science Fiction classic “We” where citizens are known by a number or Orwell’s “1984” in which the human mind is just another tool of the state. And so it is almost inevitable that despite all their conquests and their power the Borg fall prey to the one weapon they cannot resist, the weapon that totalitarian regimes throughout human history have fallen prey to, a dream.

The Borg are technology and power personified. They have no other identity besides technology and power and no goal besides gaining more and better technology and star trek voyager unimatrix zero 1power. There is no escape from such a society, not even the possibility of protest or dissent because if you cannot think, you cannot dissent. But much as people do in the real world, thousands of drones with a specific mutation have found an escape from their real lives through dreams or rather through a collective dream of freedom in an unspecified forest where they can be as they once were before the Borg assimilated them. While the collective holds their bodies in eternal slavery, the souls of those drones are for a time free. When everything has been taken from them, their freedom, their bodies and even their minds; they are rebelling in the only way that they can by finding a tiny space for themselves where they can for a moment be outside the control of the slave state. This rebellion of Unimatrix Zero though is a passive one and like many passive rebellions seems doomed from the start. The name itself too is a curiously Borg-like one for a group trying to rediscover their natural selves or perhaps not. Zero is at once seemingly empty and powerless to the Borg obsessed with acquiring quantities of things but in a sense contains all quantities of numbers within it. The name signifies that by tapping into the dream the drones have tapped into a source of power far greater then the collective, a source of power that unlike the Borg is unlimited because it contains within it all possibilities. This dream, the entire concept of finding possibilities through dreaming is what Star Trek has been all about.

Of course hope begins with hopelessness and so from the beginning we move about Borg corridors that seem darker and far more frightening without any human presence, no Starfleet crewmembers giving us hope of an escape or even a human perspective. We are in the home of the Borg the way it normally is, the way the drones exist in it day after day and year after year. No one to talk to, nothing to think about, nothing to see but the daily routine in the space going equivalent of an industrial plant with no home to go to or family or weekends to relieve the monotony of pure labor. Like a medieval castle the adobe of the Borg Queen is dark and gloomy, full of men in metal and black clothing walking their rounds and their ruler mysterious and cunning placed directly at the center of her web. At first the shots of the massive Borg complex seem to reinforce their invulnerability and their power but slowly as we learn of the rebellion within the complex it seems more like a precarious fortress isolated and under siege. As the Borg Queen marks drone position after drone we realize that a war is being fought, but unlike all wars the Borg have fought before, this one does not take place in reality but in a collective dream, the closest thing the Collective has to a soul. It is a showdown between technology and power against hope and freedom fought in the soul of the Borg for the soul of the Borg. The Borg have met the enemy and they are them.

Aboard Voyager Seven dreams for the first time and never having entirely left the Borg collective behind her, Seven fears the dream. Like the Borg she understands that the dream cannot be contained within the boundaries of sleep and contains revelations that threatens the integrity of the life she made for herself. Like the rebelling drones Seven is more human in the dream of Unimatrix Zero but she is also less human than they are, less prepared to completely free herself of everything the Borg have done to her. On Voyager Seven has accepted a modicum of humanity, she has come to care about people, learn to deal with them but she hasn’t really opened herself up to the possibilities of being human and so she remains suspended between being human and being Borg. Only in the dream can she allow herself to be called by her real name, Anika. Only in the dream can she experiment with reclaiming her human heritage. But when threatened with a real relationship she retreats from the dream and demands that she be called by her Borg name again. For the first time a plausible emotional relationship is presented for her and she predictably retreats. Seven is a character who for better or worse has developed right before our eyes. When comparing her with the Seven of “The Gift” she seems to have come very far, but among other things, Unimatrix shows us how far she has to go and that the potential is in a sense already being expressed within her.

While the drones are dreaming of a better life, everyone on Voyager is going about the very real business of surviving in the Delta Quadrant (occasionally) according to

star trek voyager unimatrix zero

Some Assembly Required

Starfleet ideals. Janeway answers a distress call to a destroyed colony that she has come too late to save. When she hears about the “distress call” from the Unimatrix drones she sees it as the chance to save all the colonies and the planets the Borg threaten. A weakness in the Borg can be exploited and possibly even the entire collective can be brought down and so mixing Starfleet ideals and her own special brand of cunning and vengeance Janeway comes up with a plan quite similar to the one she employed in her previous confrontation with the Borg Queen. (So similar in fact that the Queen comments on it before Janeway and Co. meet their untimely fates.) In a meeting managed through Tuvok’s unique version of AT&T Janeway meets with the closest thing the drone rebellion has to a leader and convinces him to change his rebellion from passive to active. Once again Janeway ventures into the Borg lair and though this time she knows enough to leave Seven behind, she seems to have discarded most of the techniques that worked somewhat in Dark Frontier. The result is her capture and assimilation and the assimilation of Torres and Tuvok. When we see Janeway, Torres and Tuvok at the end as drones their appearance is quite shocking but Chakotay’s planned getaway and Janeway’s original refusal to initially take them along robs this scene of the impact of Picard’s assimilation in Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds.”

In Best of Both Worlds, the Enterprise has been tricked, Picard mutilated and transformed and Earth doomed. The forces of good seemed and were confused and in disarray while in Unimatrix Zero it is clear that there is a plan operating here, a dangerous plan but one in which Janeway and Co. are in control for now. If the script had done a better job of hiding this, Unimatrix could have ended on a much stronger note than it did. That is a common problem for this episode that has the vision, the suspense and the plot but somehow seems a bit listless at times in comparison to Scorpion or Dark Frontier. A good deal of time is spent on Seven but she is excluded from any direct participation in the events of the final act, which makes those scenes seem like a waste of time. From the perspective of the two parter this will eventually become it might work, but here and now as a one hour episode the Seven material relegates her to the three P’s of the Kes role. Namely psychic powers, personal growth and passivity. It didn’t work that well with Kes and it works even worse with Seven of Nine who isn’t remotely built for that kind of role.

More problematically the Borg Queen is relegated to cartoon villain scenery chewing. While Thompson does an excellent job of maintaining ironic distance and the attitude of a powerful leader, the medieval castle analogy hits too crudely close to home when she paces the room, holds conversations with drones, threatens them and mutilates them. She seems not particularly in control or possessed of the kind of knowledge and power she radiated in Dark Frontier. All in all she’s much closer to the Queen Arachnia of Captain Proton and considering that Janeway had already duplicated the Captain Proton trick assault in Dark Frontier, repeating it with a few assimilations for shock value seems like a bad idea. The Queen’s offhand comment to Harry has so much more effect then all the scenes of the Queen examining mutilated Borg heads. This entire concept is based on demonstrating the complete cruelty and evil of the villain but with the Borg this is completely beside the point. The Borg are beyond good and evil, beyond petty ego trips or torture for fun and pleasure. These “Borg Yorrick” scenes take us back in a bad way to “First Contact” and Krige’s Borg Queen played as a refugee from the cast of Chicago or a Bond Movie.

Where Dark Frontier managed to merge the Seven story and the story of the Borg, to show the Borg Queen as the representation of a greater and powerful force with plans stretching into the past and the future; Unimatrix Zero gives us the strong story of the rebellion of the drones, a few brief and hurried scenes on Voyager and a Borg Queen about as plausible as Queen Arachnia. When comparing Seven’s experience in the assimilation chamber and what that did to make the Borg terrifying again with the Borg Queen pacing around and delivering stock evil empress lines to her subjects it is clear that the writers have once again made the mistake of humanizing the Borg too far and too fast. It is fascinating to look at a drone and wonder about his dreams, to see them as individuals hiding terrible secrets beyond even the reach of their own conscious minds, but this has to be combined with recognizing the power and dread of the Borg and the fact that we are dealing here with something that transcends normal regimes and rulers. The two can be combined but it requires careful work and steady steps.

In a very large sense all of the Borg stories have been leading up to this moment since Hugh innocently stepped on the screen in “I. Borg.” “Descent” parts 1 and 2 looked at Borg drones liberated from the collective and tried to merge that into an unfortunate Lore as Charles Manson story serving as one of the Borg’s worst moments yet and a perfect example of exactly what was to be avoided. In “Unity”, Voyager’s first Borg episode we looked at former drones forming a different kind of collective (something that may well be the long term outcome of Unimatrix.) In Scorpion we looked at the Borg taking a severe beating and their downfall seemed plausible even if Janeway’s actions were not. In “Dark Frontier” the Borg were somewhat reduced in stature but it was clear that Janeway’s overconfidence was a mistake and she paid the price only temporarily outwitting the Borg through ingenious gadgetry and desperation. In Unimatrix though Janeway seems far too casual about engaging the Borg, treating them like just another Delta Quadrant enemy. Even if her plan is to be assimilated that only adds to how casually she treats the matter. Her act can either be seen as foolhardy and contemptuous of the Borg’s power or a brave and risky sacrifice. With little focus on her plan beyond the usual meetings and Janeway-Chakotay bickering it seems more like the former than the latter. The Borg may have been weakened but are they really that weak? And if they are so much of the drama just leaks away.

All along a Borg revolution was in the pipeline and while Unimatrix handles the material far better then TNG’s Descent, Unimatrix Zero still leaves much to be desired. Common complaints about two part episodes and cliffhangers are that they come with a strong first part and a weak conclusion. Unimatrix though seems far more geared towards the conclusion then the first part and consequently seems rushed and sparse. The concept of Unimatrix Zero is probably the best possible idea for a Borg revolution anyone could have come up with. The rendering of Seven’s story and the Unimatrix is very well handled and would have worked much better in a different episode intended to set up Unimatrix and the Borg revolution. Voyager’s infiltration has a shocking cliffhanger to leave the fans with but overall seems like everything we’ve seen before. Janeway and Chakotay arguing about her safety and her initiative and their level of trust in each other. A mostly unnecessary trip by Janeway to the Unimatrix, material that would have worked better if Tuvok alone or the Doctor had made the trip. The scenes of the drones fleeing attacks by other drones seem a bit silly. (Since they can alter their appearances at will they should be able to easily defend themselves instead of behaving like extras in a horror movie.) A plan to infiltrate a Borg cube to do some damage, Voyager going head to head with a cube that looks suspiciously like a futuristic crate, a plan going horribly wrong inside the cube, people we care about falling into the hands of the Borg. This is all stuff we’ve seen before and weak direction and a haphazard script don’t manage to make it look fresh or new. In the end Unimatrix is a good episode, but not a great episode. Normally this might be enough but a story so many years in the making with such major implications for the whole Star Trek universe needed to be so much more.

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