Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Infinite Regress”

“Infinite Regress”
Written by Robert J. Doherty and Jimmy Diggs
Directed by David Livingston
Season 5, Episode 7
Production episode 203
Original air date: November 25, 1998
Stardate: 52356.2

Captain’s log. Seven is in the midst of her regeneration cycle when she starts to hear tons of voices. She leaves her alcove, and stalks through the corridors, finally arriving in the mess hall, where she starts ravenously and sloppily eating some meat. Her reflection shows a Klingon male.

Kim reports to the senior staff that there’s a massive debris field ahead that looks to be the remains of a Borg cube. The only way to determine what destroyed it is to examine it up close, and Janeway has no interest in hanging around the debris in case the Borg come to investigate themselves.

Neelix also mentions that the “midnight snacker” has struck again.

Naomi follows Seven while the latter performs her duties. Naomi thinks she’s staying hidden from Seven, but Seven disabuses her of this notion. The girl explains that she’s trying to be a model of efficiency so Janeway will make her Bridge Assistant, and Seven is the most efficient person on the ship. Seven admires her goal, but feels she is too underdeveloped.

Then, suddenly, Seven’s entire demeanor changes. She smiles broadly, acts like she’s never met Naomi, and offers to play a game with her. They play kadis-kot in the Wildman quarters, until Torres calls for Seven, and she suddenly reverts to her normal personality with no memory of anything that has happened since the corridor.

Seven reports to Torres, who has found a subspace frequency. Seven confirms that it’s a Borg interlink frequency, used to integrate the minds of Borg drones.

Star Trek: Voyager "Infinite Regress"

Screenshot: CBS

Then Seven’s personality changes again, this time to a Klingon, the son of K’Vok, who wants to take Torres as a mate. She bites Torres, takes down the security guards who try to stop her, and then roams the corridors. Security traps her in a force field, but when Tuvok arrives, she’s changed personality to that of a frightened little girl named Maryl. But when she stands up, she becomes a Vulcan subaltern named Lorot. In that persona, Seven agrees to be accompanied to sickbay. But en route, the Klingon persona reasserts itself and Tuvok is forced to stun her.

Seven awakens hours later in sickbay, a cortical inhibitor on her neck. She still hears voices—as she has just prior to every personality shift—but now they don’t effect a switch. The voices are of beings the Borg assimilated when she was a drone. The voices threaten to overwhelm her until the EMH adjusts the inhibitor. She has no memory of playing kadis-kot with Naomi nor of trying to mate with Torres.

The EMH has found several neural patterns in her brain in addition to her own. They are assimilated people whose neural patterns are stored in her (and every drone’s) cortical implant. But somehow, thirteen of them have become active and are manifesting in her randomly.

Seven mentions the interlink frequency Torres found before the impromptu Klingon courting ritual. Tuvok says that they’ve traced it to the Borg debris Kim found. The signal travels through subspace, so running away from it might not do the trick: they have to turn it off. So Janeway sets course for the debris, and hopes they don’t encounter any Borg.

The EMH accompanies Seven as she goes about her duties, to be on the lookout for more personality changes. Neelix offers his services as morale officer, and also gives Seven a drawing Naomi made for her to cheer her up.

Star Trek: Voyager "Infinite Regress"

Screenshot: CBS

Seven and the EMH look at her regeneration logs, and apparently Seven made some data entries that she doesn’t recall. One is a log entry by a Starfleet officer on the U.S.S. Tombaugh she assimilated thirteen years previous, another a woman dictating a letter to her significant other.

Voyager arrives at the Borg debris, and they find the source of the signal: an object that Seven identifies as the vinculum. It’s the central processor of a Borg ship, from which all activity is coordinated. It’s the source of the signals to her cortical implant, but they’re coming through erratically and haphazardly while it tries to reintegrate her into the collective. Seven wants to beam it aboard, as trying to disable it remotely might harm her. Janeway reluctantly agrees.

As soon as it’s aboard, Tuvok puts it in a level-ten force field and Paris zooms off at warp nine. However, the vinculum’s proximity forces the EMH to adjust the inhibitor again, lest the son of K’Vok once again try to mate with Torres.

Torres, Seven, and the EMH discover a computer virus in the vinculum, that seems to have been put there by the cube’s last contact: a shuttlecraft from Species 6339. This shuttle was from one of the species’ few survivors. It looks like they used that shuttle as a Typhoid Mary to infect the Borg, forcing the drones to hear the voices of many of the neural patterns in their cortical implants. Seven hypothesizes that the drones destroyed themselves once they became “defective” in this manner, and it led to the destruction of the cube, since it affected all of them.

Seven searches for any remnants of Species 6339. But then a Ferengi personality takes over, that of DaiMon Torrot. She’s taken to sickbay—after being assured that the treatment is free of charge. Then she starts cycling through several personalities, including a woman who was at Wolf 359, before it becomes too much for her, and the EMH is forced to sedate her.

Tuvok and Torres try to disable the vinculum, but like all Borg tech it adapts, and their attempts to stop the signal instead make the signal stronger. The personalities are now zipping through her brain like crazy. All of the EMH’s treatments have failed; Tuvok recommends a mind-meld. The EMH is horrified at the notion, but they’re out of options. Tuvok needs two hours to meditate.

Star Trek: Voyager "Infinite Regress"

Screenshot: CBS

While Tuvok prepares himself, Voyager finds a ship from Species 6339. Their captain, Ven, explain that they created that weapon to destroy the Borg, and that Voyager must put it back with the debris. Once another cube comes to investigate, the virus will spread to them. Thirteen of their people sacrificed themselves for this, and it can’t be in vain.

Janeway is more than happy to return it, once they’ve cured Seven. But Ven says they didn’t develop any kind of cure—why would they? Ven insists on it being returned now, or they will fire—and the vinculum has already survived the destruction of a Borg cube, it will also survive Voyager’s destruction.

Tuvok initiates the mind-meld while Voyager comes under fire from Ven. Tuvok’s entry into Seven’s mind manifests as a Borg cube filled with different beings pulling at him and shouting at him. He manages to make a connection to Seven, buried deep. He is able to bring her personality back to the fore.

Once that happens, the EMH tells Janeway she can beam the vinculum into space. She does so, Ven stops firing, and Voyager buggers off at warp nine.

Seven needs a week to regenerate and recover. When she does so, she tells Janeway that she’s grateful to the crew, and Janeway suggests she express her gratitude by helping Torres recalibrate the warp plasma manifolds. Seven agrees, but first goes to Naomi and gives her the material she will need to study in order to eventually become Bridge Assistant. Naomi willingly takes on all this learning, and then Seven makes one more request: teach Seven how to play kadis-kot. Naomi smiles and then deadpans, “I will comply.”

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? A vinculum is the central processing unit for a Borg cube. Presumably it controls all the control nodes that we saw on the cube in TNG’s “The Best of Both Worlds” that the away team fired upon.

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway is not at all thrilled with the idea of getting anywhere near the Borg debris, and is even less thrilled to have the vinculum aboard, a fear that is justified by it resulting in Voyager coming under fire. But she also will do what it takes to protect her crew.

Mr. Vulcan. Tuvok saves the day with a mind-meld. Because he’s just that awesome.

Star Trek: Voyager "Infinite Regress"

Screenshot: CBS

Everybody comes to Neelix’s. Neelix is frustrated with Tuvok’s inability to discover who the “midnight snacker” is. Tuvok dryly recommends armed guards, while Neelix asks if he can put locks on the fridge.

Neelix also attempts to help Seven out in his function as morale officer, which Seven politely declines (a declining that the EMH not-so-politely sustains).

Resistance is futile. Borg drones have the dormant neural patterns of all the people they’ve assimilated in their cortical implants. The drones in the destroyed cube and Seven all find out how much it sucks for them when they become not-so-dormant.

She also bonds with Naomi.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. The EMH does everything he can to help Seven, though he objects to the mind-meld, surprisingly referring to it as “Vulcan mumbo-jumbo,” even though he’s seen how effective it can be several times.

Do it.

“Don’t worry, Lieutenant, the son of K’Vok will not be joining us.”

“Glad to hear it. Does this qualify as our second date?”

“Just think of me as your chaperone.”

–Seven reassuring Torres, Torres and the EMH acknowledging with humor.

Welcome aboard. Scarlett Pomers is back as Naomi, while Neil Maffin plays Ven.

Trivial matters: This story takes a pitch by Jimmy Diggs about a Borg vinculum and attaches it to an idea in the writers room about Seven experiencing the personalities of the people she’s assimilated.

Naomi first expressed her desire to be Janeway’s Bridge Assistant in “Once Upon a Time.”

This episode introduces the board game kadis-kot, which will continue to be seen throughout the rest of Voyager’s run, and also be mentioned several times on Discovery.

The U.S.S. Tombaugh is named after the astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930.

The Ferengi are identified as Species 180, which is a surprisingly low number. Then again, the Ferengi were the first ones to find the Dominion, too…

Most of the personalities Seven channels are from the Alpha Quadrant, but one is from the Delta Quadrant: a Krenim scientist, who has a conversation with Janeway.

Star Trek: Voyager "Infinite Regress"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “Too many voices!” Oftentimes, a science fiction show will do an episode whose express purpose is to be an acting exercise for one of the stars—or several, in the case of the inevitable body-switching episode that so many genre shows do. In the case of the person-gets-personalities-downloaded-into-them trope, TNG did it with Data in “Masks,” and Stargate SG-1 dipped into that well twice with Daniel Jackson, in “Legacy” and “Lifeboat,” and we get it again here.

Mind you, Jeri Ryan is very much up to the task. She’s an amazingly chameleonic actor, which has only become more evident as she’s continued in her career (and arguably put to best use during her time on Leverage playing a grifter), and she’s just superb here. My favorite is her Ferengi, which is especially hilarious, but she’s equally convincing as a little kid, as a Vulcan, and as a Klingon.

I was worried that Voyager wasn’t going to give the vinculum back, thus being once again responsible for allowing the Borg to continue to thrive. Of course, the Borg do continue to thrive anyhow, but that just means that the Borg who did eventually come to investigate the vinculum were able to find a way to adapt to the virus. (It is what they do.)

Props also to director David Livingston for his surrealistic direction during the mind-meld sequences, beautifully using a variety of nonstandard camera lenses. It’s a powerfully effective visual, as Tuvok tries to plow through a crowd worthy of the 6 train at rush hour to fish Seven out from the recesses of her own suddenly-very-crowded mind.

But ultimately, the episode feels too much like it was an excuse to give Ryan a chance to do something other than a monotone for part of an episode. Well, that, and get the Seven-Naomi friendship off to an entertaining start…

Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido wrote a short story for the forthcoming charity anthology Turning the Tied, which features stories about existing characters in the public domain by some of the best tie-in writers in the business, including fellow Trek scribes Greg Cox, Robert Greenberger, Jeff Mariotte, David McIntee, Robert Vardeman, Aaron Rosenberg, Scott Pearson, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Derek Tyler Attico, and Rigel Ailur. Keith’s story is about Ayesha, the title character in She by H. Rider Haggard. You can preorder the book now from Amazon.

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