Monday, March 28, 2016

Episode Review - Dark Frontier (Voyager Season 5)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Episode Overview: While attempting to obtain a transwarp coil from a Borg vessel, Seven of Nine finds herself torn between two collectives: the one she knew as a drone and the one she finds on Voyager.

Episode Score - 9/10. This is a big budget two-hour story that brings the Borg back into Voyager’s story big-time. For a Voyager episode, there are some pretty intense action sequences and a lot of great story-telling. We get to see a lot of development in Seven of Nine’s backstory and history. We get to see aspects of the Borg that we have never before seen, and dig deeper into their mythos. Solid performances by many of the cast, especially Kate Mulgrew and Jeri Ryan.

Relevance - 3 points. References to the past attempts of the Borg to assimilate Earth, the Hansen’s ship “Raven” and their attempts to study the Borg. Sets up future Borg episodes (Unimatrix Zero, Endgame). Refers to the Hansens, and shows the fate of Magnus Hansen (Seven’s father).

Continuity - 2 points. Trek Universe gets a point for showing a development of the Borg that is consistent with what has been previously established. Character continuity scores here as everybody acts as they would. An example of this is B’Elanna Torres who has always been suspicious of Seven’s loyalties telling Janeway that when Seven chose to stay behind on the Borg sphere she showed she was never really “one of us”, and Janeway refusing to give up on Seven despite that. Where this episode loses a point is story continuity. The episode suggests that the Borg were rumored to exist as a known entity for at least a decade before this episode, and before the episode “Q Who” on TNG. It is difficult to believe that a Captain such as Jean-Luc Picard could have ever been unaware of these rumors. As well as this the Borg Queen states a couple of inconsistent historical facts. First, that the Borg of attempted to assimilate humans once before. That, I would assume, is referring to “The Best of Both Worlds”. In truth, the events of the motion picture “First Contact” would count as a second attempt. Second mistake was stating that Seven of Nine was the first drone to regain individuality. I guess Hugh from “I Borg” and all the drones that followed Lore did not count.

Character Development - 2 points. Major development for Seven of Nine, having her first interaction with the Borg since leaving the collective and becoming an individual. For the first time Seven refers to Voyager as being her new “collective”, which I would assume is on a similar level as family. She states that she cares for the crew deeply. She also has great conflict in her leaving the crew to rejoin the Borg. She shows that she has not forgotten her lessons on Voyager by helping members of Species 10026 escape assimilation on two occaissions. Janeway and Naomi Wildman have some minor development as well. Everyone else seems to be their usual selves.

Societal Commentary - 1 point. This has been a hard one for me to nail down. The story is great, but what does it say about society in general? I’m not too sure. There is a theme of serving two masters or being torn between two cultures that can resonate with viewers. Because of this, I can only give it a single point.

Cool Stuff - 3 points. Much of the cool stuff in this episode is courtesy of the Borg. We get to see the Borg Unicomplex, which is one of the most impressive designs yet. We see two new ships in the Borg fleet: the Borg interceptor (a scout-type vessel) and the Borg Diamond (used by the Queen). We see the Borg Queen for the first time on television, and played for the first time by actress Susanna Thompson (her fourth character on Star Trek), and to be honest the way her body was formed was amazing. We see the Hansen family again. We learn a lot about the different species designations (humans are Species 5618, Ktarians are Species 6961, etc.). All of these more than make up the necessary requirements for the full three points.

Rank: Captain (20 points). This was a great episode with wonderful effects, a compelling story, and a great focus on Seven of Nine. It was great seeing the Borg again. I’m not the biggest Seven of Nine fan, but I did think this episode was great and did her character justice.

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