Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “The Raven

“The Raven
Written by Bryan Fuller and Harry Doc. Kloor
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 4, Episode 6
Production episode 174
Original air date: October 8, 1997
Stardate: unknown

Captain’s log. Janeway has taken Seven to the da Vinci studio on the holodeck, in the hopes of leading her to a relaxing hobby. Sculpting doesn’t work all that well, mostly because she’s bad at it and also doesn’t understand about relaxing, exactly.

Janeway tells Seven about da Vinci’s life and career, showing off the model of one of his gliders.

The sight of it triggers a hallucination in Seven, what seem to be memories of being assimilated, of a large black bird, and someone crying out her birth name of Annika.

It turns out that these hallucinations have happened twice before. The EMH thinks it might be a repressed memory of trauma, but being assimilated by the Borg wasn’t traumatic for Seven—it was how she was raised.

The EMH has another byproduct of her newfound individuality and humanity to address: her digestive system is now capable of taking in nutrition, and she must consume food to survive. He sends her off to Neelix with a list of starter foods.

Janeway reports to the briefing room, where they’re meeting with the B’omar. Voyager’s route takes them through B’omar space, but the B’omar are very persnickety. They will only allow Voyager to take a specific course, only at warp three or lower, weapons must remain offline, and there must be no detailed sensor scans of anything, nor communication with any nonmilitary vessel. Janeway’s attempt to negotiate a more reasonable route is met with disdain.

Neelix gleefully prepares some food for Seven, who struggles a bit with the concept of eating. Then she has another hallucination, but this time accompanied by a Borg implant sprouting on her arm. Suddenly she goes full Borg, telling Neelix he’ll be assimilated, and attacking him.

Tuvok and his security team try and fail to stop Seven from stealing a shuttlecraft—every move they make is countered. Seven has a Borg shield that protects her from all phaser fire, she uses Borg encryption to stop Kim from shutting turbolift systems down, she is able to access the transporter to get around force fields, and she just blasts through the shuttle bay doors with the shuttlecraft she steals.

The B’omar are livid that (a) Voyager has a Borg on board (they are unconvinced by Janeway’s denials that she’s still Borg) and (b) they let her loose in their space. They tighten up their borders and insist that they will find and destroy the shuttle.

Star Trek: Voyager "The Raven"

Screenshot: CBS

The EMH has examined the transporter logs from Seven beaming herself onto the shuttle and has discovered that several of the nanoprobes he had deactivated have reactivated, and several implants that he removed have reappeared. He has created a hypospray that will reverse the process, but someone has to get close enough to inject her.

Tuvok and Paris have modified a shuttle so that the B’omar won’t be able to detect them, but it also means they’ll have to maintain radio silence while searching for Seven. Janeway sends them off with the EMH’s hypospray.

Seven has another hallucination, and then she fires on a B’omar patrol, disabling the ships, but not killing anyone. Tuvok and Paris pick up the weapons fire on sensors and track down Seven’s shuttle. They can’t get a transporter lock on her, so Tuvok beams over with the hypospray. He tries to neck-pinch her, but it fails—then she neck-pinches him, to his surprise. She then disables the other shuttle, leaving Paris floating in space.

Seven continues onward with an unconscious Tuvok. When Tuvok wakes up, and finds a force field separating him from Seven, he tries to convince her that she is not Borg. She insists to the contrary, but goes back and forth from being full Borg and more human: first she says she’ll assimilate all Vulcans, then she softens and tells Tuvok to thank Janeway for her kindness to Seven when he returns to Voyager.

She is following a Borg resonance frequency. Tuvok asks if hallucinations are a usual part of responding to such a frequency, and Seven admits that it is not. However, Tuvok’s pleas to return to Voyager and try to find out what’s going on fall on refusing ears, as the Collective is still calling her.

Star Trek: Voyager "The Raven"

Screenshot: CBS

Kim has spent enough time working with Seven that he can translate her log entries from Borg alphanumeric code, and he and Janeway read them, where she describes several other hallucinations, many of which involve a bird that looks like a raven or a crow. Janeway then has an epiphany and has the helm officer set a course.

Seven pilots the shuttle to a moon that has a crashed Federation ship on it called the Raven. Seven and Tuvok investigate the ship, and find a Borg device on automatic that emits the frequency that was calling to her. They deactivate it, and then Seven recounts for Tuvok how the Borg attacked this ship and took her and her parents.

Both Voyager and Paris’ now-repaired shuttle travel to the moon, where there are several B’omar ships firing on the Raven wreckage. Paris is able to beam Seven and Tuvok out while Voyager exchanges weapons fire with the B’omar. As soon as Paris gets the shuttle back, Voyager hauls ass out of B’omar space.

Janeway finds Seven in the da Vinci workshop. The EMH has found a way to block Borg frequencies from her, and she says she is starting to think about what her life might have been like had she not been assimilated. Janeway tells her to check the records about the Hansens if she wishes.

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway tries very hard to negotiate with the B’omar, but her negotiating position is hugely undermined by Seven going batshit.

Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok does superlative work in trying to reason with Seven, which is handy, as his attempts to physically subdue her all crash and burn rather spectacularly.

Star Trek: Voyager "The Raven"

Screenshot: CBS

Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix is a bit nonplussed to learn that several Talaxians—designated Species 218—were assimilated by the Borg. He also provides Seven’s first-ever meal.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH determines how to fix Seven after the Borg summon her, because he’s just that awesome.

Forever an ensign. Kim has been working with Seven enough that he can now translate the Borg language.

Resistance is futile. Seven finally remembers her assimilation as a child, her first real memory of being Annika Hansen. She also eats for the first time, and finds it weird.

What happens on the holodeck stays on the holodeck. Janeway takes Seven to da Vinci’s workshop, which seems to have superseded Chez Sandrine and the Paxau Resort as the go-to holodeck program of choice.

Do it.

“Let’s tally the events, shall we? First you arrive uninvited and unwelcome, requesting a shortcut through our space, then you proceed to unleash some sort of rogue Borg, and now you want us to help you get it back.”

“I apologize for what’s happened here, but we certainly didn’t unleash anyone. We can resolve this situation quickly, gentlemen, if we work together.”

“Captain Janeway, after what I’ve seen here, I question your competence.”

–One of the B’omar calling Janeway out.

Welcome aboard. Richard J. Zobel Jr. and Mickey Cottrell are spectacularly snotty as two of the B’omar. Cottrell previously appeared in TNG’s “The Perfect Mate.” Also Nikki Tyler and David Anthony Marshall once again play the Hansens, having been previously seen in “Scorpion, Part II.”

Trivial matters: The original pitch by Harry Doc. Kloor and the first-draft script by Bryan Fuller involved aliens turning Seven back into a Borg. The writing staff directed Fuller to rewrite it with something more personal for Seven. This assignment in particular led to Fuller becoming a staff writer. He became story editor in season five, executive story editor in season six, and co-producer in season seven. He would go on to co-create and develop Star Trek: Discovery, before departing to work on American Gods.

The Hansen family and the Raven will be seen again in “Dark Frontier” in season five, though the Hansens will be played by Laura Stepp and Kirk Baily.

This is the second time someone on Voyager eats for the first time, the other being the EMH on the holodeck in “Heroes and Demons.”

Star Trek: Voyager "The Raven"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “And then I became Borg.” This is a decent episode, certainly, but it feels like it’s happening a bit too soon in the season. Seven has only been with the crew for three-and-a-half seconds. Hell, this is the episode where she has her first meal and meets Neelix for the first time.

My issue is that Chakotay’s concern that he brings up with Janeway—that Seven hasn’t been completely rid of the Borg—is a legitimate one and the insisting that Seven is really-o-truly-o part of the crew now falls really flat. She isn’t part of the crew yet—she hasn’t even met most of the crew. And I can’t imagine that large swaths of them are a hundred percent thrilled with her being on board, either, especially given that she’s already made attempts to assimilate the ship and get back to Borg space while beating up crewmembers in previous episodes, and damages the ship (though doesn’t hurt anybody permanently) trying to get back to the Borg again this time ’round.

The B’omar are also a cheap writer trick to stack the deck in favor of our heroes because honestly? I’m totally with them on everything they do here. Yes, they lay on the paranoia a bit thick when it comes to Voyager flying through their space. But there are also legitimate security concerns to this powerful ship with the design you’ve never seen before that shows up out of nowhere to fly through your sovereign territory. And then on top of that, they, as Gaumen so aptly put it, unleash a former Borg drone into their territory. Yes, Seven has enough humanity left that she doesn’t actually kill anyone, but that’s another cheap writer trick to avoid making one of our heroes out to be a bad guy.

Bluntly, Voyager’s behavior in this episode is pretty awful. If I’m the B’omar, I keep chasing them even after they’ve left B’omar space just for being douchnozzles. Gaumen specifically says that Voyager has committed an act of war, and I’m totally on the B’omar’s side here. The script makes them assholes to ameliorate this problem, but it’s not enough for me.

Ultimately, the crew, having taken a massive risk by bringing an ex-Borg on board, have that decision bite them in the ass and only suffer no consequences for it because the script says so.

The episode is still watchable, mostly due to superlative performances by Tim Russ and especially Jeri Ryan. Ryan gives us Seven in three different modes, as a Borg drone, as an ex-Borg, and also as a six-year-old remembering being assimilated, and she’s devastatingly effective in all three. Russ again shows us what a valuable mentor Tuvok is, as he helps guide her back to herself.

Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido has written a large amount of Star Trek fiction, but has never written Seven of Nine. He has, however, written Annika Hansen, a member of the Terran Resistance in the Mirror Universe, in the short novel The Mirror-Scaled Serpent in Mirror Universe: Obsidian Alliances.

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