Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Scorpion, Part II”

“Scorpion, Part II”
Written by Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 4, Episode 1
Production episode 169
Original air date: September 3, 1997
Stardate: 51003.7

Captain’s log. We get the highlights of Part 1, then pick up with a Borg Cube running very fast away from the Species 8472 ship that blew up a planet, Voyager in a tractor beam. Chakotay tries to get Torres to beam Janeway off the cube, but Janeway herself contacts them and says to belay that order, as she has formed an alliance with the Borg.

The deal is, they’ll work together on taking the EMH’s nanoprobes—which are successfully used to cure Kim—and weaponizing them. Janeway and Tuvok will do their work in a lab on the cube initially, and the Borg will guarantee Voyager safe passage through Borg space. Janeway will turn over the nanoprobes once they’re through Borg territory.

Chakotay isn’t thrilled, but goes along with it. He also requests that they remove the tractor beam, which they do.

The Borg’s notion of “working together” with Janeway and Tuvok is to put a temporary neural implant into them that will allow direct communication, linking the pair of them to the Collective. Janeway refuses, and insists that the Borg instead have a drone be a speaker to them for the Collective. If they don’t accede, she’ll destroy the nanopobes and the EMH (who has the only copy of the research).

Star Trek: Voyager "Scorpion Part II"

Screenshot: CBS

A drone, Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One, is assigned to speak for the Borg to Janeway and Tuvok.

Kes once again receives strong telepathic impressions of 8472. She realizes that they’re watching Voyager and the cube.

Tuvok suggests putting the nanoprobes in some of Voyager’s photon torpedoes. Seven counters with a larger weapon that has a five-million-isoton yield. Janeway isn’t comfortable with the collateral damage that would result from such an explosion, plus it would take too long to create enough nanoprobes for such a weapon. The torpedoes can be prepared with much more dispatch. Seven comments that, as individuals, they think too small, but the value of such a smaller-scale weapon as a demonstration and deterrent, plus the speed, leads to the Borg agreeing.

Just as Kim reports back to duty after being cured of 8472’s disease, a singularity opens and a bioship attacks Voyager, having learned of the nanoprobe weapon from Kes’ thoughts. Voyager gets its ass kicked, and the bioship also attacks the cube, but then the cube does a kamikaze run, destroying itself and the bioship. Just before impact, half a dozen drones, including Seven, beamed over with Janeway and Tuvok to a cargo bay.

Tuvok and Janeway were both injured in the attack, but Tuvok assures Chakotay that Janeway approved the Borg beaming over. The drones convert the cargo bay to a Borg laboratory while Tuvok and Janeway are taken to sickbay.

Tuvok is treated pretty quickly, but Janeway is in very bad shape. Before the EMH is forced to induce a coma before treatment, Janeway puts Chakotay in charge and orders him to make the alliance work and get everyone home.

Seven, however, refuses to keep to the original arrangement, and instructs Chakotay to reverse course to the nearest Borg Cube. Chakotay, however, is unwilling to go back the way he came—the deal was to give them the nanoprobes when they were safely out of Borg space. Seven insists; Chakotay says he’ll think about it; Seven says to think fast. Seven also criticizes the individual need to constantly question decisions and to not make up their minds.

Star Trek: Voyager "Scorpion Part II"

Screenshot: CBS

Chakotay’s compromise is to leave the drones on an uninhabited planet with the nanoprobes, and Voyager will continue on their way out of Borg space as fast as possible. Seven threatens him with assimilation. Chakotay tells her to pound sand and says that any move made to try that will result in the cargo bay being opened to space.

The Borg are not so easily cowed, however. They access a Jefferies Tube and Seven moves to take control of the deflector dish. Kim tries and fails to lock them out, and Chakotay orders Tuvok to opened the cargo bay doors. Most of the Borg are blown out into space, but Seven is able to hang on thanks to being in the Jefferies Tube. Seven’s modifications to the deflector open a singularity similar to those used by 8472, which sucks Voyager in.

They find themselves in fluidic space: 8472’s home. The other shoe drops: the Borg have been there before. Seven admits that the Borg invaded fluidic space, only to find that they couldn’t assimilate 8472—worse, their doing so gave 8472 a gateway to our dimension, which is what led to this war. Which, by the way, the Borg are losing, badly.

Seven also says that 8472 knows they’re here and will arrive in three hours.

Janeway has recovered, and is livid that Chakotay ended the alliance with the Borg. Chakotay insisted that he had no choice, as he couldn’t turn around and negate their progress to rendezvous with another cube. They go round and round, and Chakotay ruefully admits that this is exactly what Seven dinged them for. Janeway admits that the first mistake they made was not to support each other.

Janeway then goes to the bridge and summons Seven. Janeway tells her that Chakotay has been put in the brig for insubordination and she’s in charge, and they’re going to war.

Two hours later, Seven has made modifications to the shields, and thirteen regular torpedoes and one class-10 high-yield torpedo are armed with the EMH’s nanoprobes. Kes is still in telepathic contact with 8472, and says that they view Voyager as having contaminated their space and are about to attack.

Once they attack, Tuvok fires the regular torpedoes. They destroy all the bioships targeting them. Janeway then orders Seven to gimmick the deflector to open another singularity so they can go home.

They’re greeted by a fleet of bioships. Tuvok fires the class-10 torpedo, which wipes the entire fleet out. Seven reconnects with the Collective upon their reentry to the galaxy, and she reports that all of 8472’s bioships are in retreat after this massacre.

Janeway declares the alliance a success and offers to drop Seven off somewhere while they continue home. Seven declares the alliance at an end and says that Voyager will now be assimilated.

Janeway then contacts Chakotay—who’s in the cargo bay with the EMH and Torres rather than the brig—and says, “Scorpion.”

The EMH activates the same neural link that the Borg tried to attach to Janeway and Tuvok back on the cube. He is able to link with Seven—among other things, learning that she was a human girl named Annika who was assimilated at a very young age—and distract her long enough for Torres to sever her connection to the Collective.

Voyager heads out of Borg space at maximum warp. Seven is unconscious in sickbay, her skin already started to regain some color. Janeway intends to keep her on board—after all, they severed her link to the only home she’s known since she was a little girl, the least they can do is take her in. Chakotay is worried that she’ll try to get back to the Collective.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Janeway, Tuvok, and the EMH succeed in weaponizing the latter’s modified nanoprobes to be used against 8472.

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway manages to broker an alliance with the Borg against all odds, though it is fraught, especially when Chakotay trashes it after she goes into a coma. But Janeway also has a backup plan for when the Borg go back on their word…

Half and half. Torres is able to use the Borg tech in the cargo bay to cause a feedback loop that severs Seven’s connection to the Collective.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH is able to manipulate the nanoprobes to cure Kim and also be made into weapons to be used against 8472. Not sure how this got past his ethical program, given that he couldn’t separate Tuvix due to the whole “do no harm” thing, so creating a weapon of mass destruction would, you’d think, be an issue…

Forever an ensign. After spending most of Part 1 hand-wringing over Kim’s being poisoned by 8472, he’s completely cured off camera. Allegedly, there was some talk of Garrett Wang, rather than Jennifer Lien, being removed from the cast, and having him killed by 8472 was a handy way to accomplish that.

Star Trek: Voyager "Scorpion Part II"

Screenshot: CBS

Resistance is futile. Seven is assigned to be the Borg spokesperson for Janeway and Tuvok to work with, winds up being the only one to survive both the cube’s kamikaze attack and Chakotay spacing the cargo bay, and then is kidnapped from the Collective in the end.

What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. When it’s all over, Janeway goes back to Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop to record her log entry with a quill pen.

Do it.

“Do you have a better idea?”

“We are Borg.”

“I take that as a yes.”

–Janeway asking an honest question, Seven being sassy, and Tuvok being sassy right back.

Welcome aboard. In the Chakotay-induced flashback Seven has to her pre-assimilation childhood, Erica Bryan plays young Annika.

Trivial matters: Jeri Ryan is added to the opening credits as Seven of Nine, while Jennifer Lien is relegated to an “also starring” billing before the guest stars, which is how she’ll also be billed in her two other appearances on the show (“The Gift” next time and “Fury” in season six).

Janeway references the Borg using Picard as “Locutus” in TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds” and “Emissary” to speak for them as a precedent for the Borg assigning a drone to speak for the Borg to her and Tuvok.

Chakotay mentions that he’s been part of a Collective before, referring to the events of “Unity,” which likely made it easier for the EMH to hook him up to Seven at the episode’s climax.

The 1991 TNG novel Vendetta by Peter David had this disclaimer: “The plot and background details of Vendetta are solely the author’s interpretation of the universe of Star Trek, and vary in some respects from the universe as created by Gene Roddenberry.” This was done because Richard Arnold, who was in charge of approving all tie-in merchandise, wanted a female Borg who was removed from the Collective changed. According to Arnold, there were no female Borg, and when David refused to change it, Arnold insisted on the disclaimer. The later introduction of Seven of Nine (not to mention the establishment of several female ex-Borg back in “Unity”) made that note particularly imbecilic.

Both 8472 and the weaponized nanoprobes will next be seen in “Prey.”

The events of this episode will be revisited in “Shattered.”

Strangely, the version of this episode that’s currently on Netflix streaming doesn’t include the “previously on” segment with the highlights of Part 1. (The version on CBS All Access does include it…)

Star Trek: Voyager "Scorpion Part II"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “I speak for the Borg.” It took me a while after watching this episode to realize the issue I had with the overall storyline: Janeway kidnaps Seven against her will, removing her from the only home she’s ever known without her consent.

I’m not saying she shouldn’t have done it. I’m not even saying it’s the wrong thing to do in the circumstance, especially given that Seven was trying to assimilate the ship and its crew. But given how often Janeway has insisted on maintaining Starfleet principles while they’re stuck in the Delta Quadrant, this kidnapping deserves at least a comment.

However, it’s endemic of the episode’s primary flaw, which isn’t enough to make it a bad episode—quite the opposite, it’s actually quite excellent, he says, burying the lede—but still stands out: Everything that happens in this episode feels like it’s all there, not because it flows naturally from the story, but because everything must lead to the conclusion that was established as inevitable by virtue of Jeri Ryan’s spot in the opening credits. Janeway insists on a single voice to speak to her and Tuvok, so we get Seven, who is miraculously the only one who survives Chakotay proving he wasn’t bluffing when he threatened to space the Borg. (Full points for that, by the way. Threats only work if you’re willing to follow through.) And then, once they’re most of the way through Borg space (apparently), they’re able to cut her off from the Collective.

Still, despite the fact that you can see the strings a bit too much, this is a slam-bang season opener, and what I particularly like about it is that it sets up a true dichotomy between Janeway and Chakotay. One of the problems with “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II” is that, even though the script insisted that Riker needed to be as un-Picard-like as possible and to set Picard aside, he then acted pretty much like Picard would have and also moved heaven and earth to get Picard back.

Here, though, the divide between captain and first officer is legit, and it’s one that carries over nicely from Part 1. But what I especially like is that Janeway’s fervent statement that they still need to work together even when they disagree is well taken, because in the end they both were right. Allying with the Borg was the only way they were going to (a) be able to create the weapon to use against 8472 and (b) get across Borg space unassimilated. But in the end, the microsecond the alliance was over, the Borg moved to assimilate the ship, just as Chakotay feared. It’s their nature.

And so captain and first officer worked together to save the ship. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now we’ve got a new crew member, who very much doesn’t want to be there. Well, okay, there’s nobody on the ship who wants to be there (except Neelix and Kes, anyhow), but the other 140-odd folks are, at least at this point, accustomed to it. Gonna be a fun ride…

Warp factor rating: 8

Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest novel is To Hell and Regroup, a collaboration with David Sherman. The third book in David’s “18th Race” trilogy of military science fiction novels, this concludes the alien-invasion tale begun in Issue in Doubt and continued in In All Directions. The book is on sale now in trade paperback and eBook form from eSpec Books.

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