Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch

Star Trek: Voyager Rewatch: “Unimatrix Zero, Part II”

“Unimatrix Zero, Part II”
Written by Mike Sussman and Brannon Braga & Joe Menosky
Directed by Mike Vejar
Season 7, Episode 1
Production episode 247
Original air date: October 4, 2000
Stardate: 54014.4

Captain’s log. After getting highlights from Part I, we see Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres all assimilated by the Borg—but apparently retaining their personalities, thanks to a neural inhibitor the EMH gave them. They don’t know how long this inoculation will last, and they need to get to the central plexus to upload the virus that will allow the drones who visit Unimatrix Zero to retain their individuality when they wake up.

Voyager continues to monitor the away team’s brainwave patterns. Chakotay orders Seven to regenerate and go back into Unimatrix Zero so they know when the virus is uploaded. Seven is uncomfortable with doing so, as things between her and Axum are awkward, but Chakotay tells her to act like a professional and do it anyhow.

Seven arrives to find that drones are still coming in to attack the people in the forest. Korok and a Hirogen are coordinating attacks, and Seven helps. Axum is nowhere to be found, and Seven also confirms that the virus hasn’t been uploaded yet.

Tuvok and Torres have lost track of Janeway, so they go to the central plexus on their own, only to find that Janeway’s already there. Unfortunately, the neural inhibitor is wearing off of Tuvok, and the Borg Queen is starting to insinuate herself into his mind. Even as Torres is working to upload the virus, Tuvok declares himself to be Three of Twelve and captures Janeway. Torres, though, manages to escape, having already uploaded the virus.

Star Trek: Voyager "Unimatrix Zero, Part II"

Screenshot: CBS

The EMH detects that Tuvok has succumbed to assimilation. Chakotay orders Voyager to return to the Cube, but Kim can’t get a transporter lock on the away team. The Borg are able to access Voyager’s tactical systems thanks to Tuvok’s assimilation, and Chakotay is forced to retreat.

The Borg Queen puts Janeway in a hub and she is linked to the Borg Queen through it. The Queen has detected thousands of individuals among her drones, and starts summarily destroying entire cubes and spheres that have just one individualized drone on board. She also kills an individual drone on her cube. Janeway, however, refuses to give in, and also suggests that the Queen visit Unimatrix Zero herself.

The virus is working, and the drones in Unimatrix Zero now remember what happens when they move from one place to the other. Axum is disappointed to learn that his cube is on the far side of the galaxy, though he is close to a gateway to fluidic space, and he is trying to get in touch with Species 8472. Axum and Seven also smooch.

The Queen shows up in Unimatrix Zero. She finds the whole place to be icky, and has created a virus that will kill any drones connected to the forest unless Janeway convinces them to return to the Collective willingly.

Star Trek: Voyager "Unimatrix Zero, Part II"

Screenshot: CBS

At the Queen’s direction, Janeway appears as a hologram on Voyager’s bridge, saying that Unimatrix Zero can no longer exist. Chakotay then orders the place destroyed, but doing so in a way that permits the drones to retain their individuality outside it.

Voyager and a sphere that Korok in his Borg persona has taken over do battle against the cube. Seven and Axum say their goodbyes right before Unimatrix Zero is destroyed.

The Queen orders the cube that Janeway, Torres, and Tuvok are on destroyed, but Voyager manages to beam the three of them off before it goes boom. The EMH is able to de-Borgify all three of them, though Tuvok will take longer to recover. Seven reports that Korok has found other Borg vessels that have gone renegade.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently a neural suppressant will make you less Borgy if you’re assimilated. Unless you’re a Vulcan, anyhow…

There’s coffee in that nebula! Janeway refuses to give in to the Queen at any point—even when she appears to give in, she’s not.

Mr. Vulcan. Even though he’s a telepath with a more disciplined mind than anyone else on board Voyager, Tuvok is the only one to succumb to assimilation. Sure.

Half and half. Torres not only doesn’t succumb to assimilation, she remains uncaptured on the cube. She takes advantage of this opportunity to—um, not do anything, really.

Please state the nature of the medical emergency. At this point, the EMH has done well enough to make assimilation be little more than cosplay.

Resistance is futile. Seven struggles mightily with this whole having-feelings things with regard to Axum.

Star Trek: Voyager "Unimatrix Zero, Part II"

Screenshot: CBS

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. After spending Part I dancing around each other and being all awkward, Axum and Seven get all smoochy, as well as weepy when they realize they’ll never see each other again.

The EMH also says that Axum is a very lucky man, reminding everyone of his crush on Seven from “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

Do it.

“I don’t compromise with Borg.”

–Janeway, who has compromised with the Borg a bunch of times.

Welcome aboard. Susanna Thompson (the Borg Queen), Mark Deakins (Axum/Five of Twelve), Jerome Butler (Korok), Joanna Heimbold (Laura), and Ryan Sparks (little kid) all are back from Part 1. The character of the Borg Queen will next be seen in “Endgame,” played by Alice Krige (who originated the role in First Contact).

Trivial matters: Tuvok states personal details about himself in an attempt to retain his individuality when the neural suppressant stops working right. He was apparently born, not on Vulcan itself, but the Vulcanis Lunar Colony. The stardate he gives for his birth tracks with his being 113 years old, which matches with the age he gave in “Flashback,” but not the age Janeway implied in “Fury.” Whatever.

There has, bizarrely, been no mention of the Borg resistance that started here either on screen in either this show or Picard, nor has there been any mention of it in any of the many works of tie-in fiction that’s dealt with the Borg.

Axum is near “the border to fluidic space,” even though fluidic space can be accessed from pretty much anywhere via a dimensional portal, and it doesn’t actually exist in our space-time, as established in the “Scorpiontwo-parter, which introduced 8472 as an enemy of the Borg.

This two-parter was released along with “Dark Frontier” in the UK as Volume 4 of a VHS collection called Star Trek: Voyager—Movies.

Star Trek: Voyager "Unimatrix Zero, Part II"

Screenshot: CBS

Set a course for home. “I must silence all of them.” Everything that’s wrong with Part I is also wrong with this one, but it’s also got plenty that’s wrong on its own as well.

As with Part I (and “Dark Frontier”), fighting the Borg has gone from the worst thing in the world in several TNG episodes and one TNG movie to a walk in the park in which nobody even gets hurt. As with Part I, the Borg Queen has gone from an alien menace to a very ordinary super-villain, who isn’t the center of the Collective but the leader of a bunch of people.

On top of all that, we have the utterly inconsequential assimilation of Janeway, Tuvok, and Torres, which has absolutely zero impact on the characters. Picard was assimilated, and it has continued to have psychological ramifications for him (“Family,” “I, Borg,” First Contact, “Stardust City Rag,” “The Impossible Box”). These three, though, were pretty much just cosplaying as Borg, and despite incredibly invasive procedures to assimilate them, are completely back to normal in the next episode without even a mention of it.

Everything that happens in this episode feels like it was done better in a TNG episode, whether it’s a Borg resistance (“I, Borg,” the “Descenttwo-parter—the latter was terrible, mind you, but it was better than this), a captain-first officer dynamic among supporting characters (the “Gambittwo-parter, but Data and Worf are a thousand times more interesting and complex than Chakotay and Paris), or facing off against the Borg Queen (First Contact). And the romance between Seven and Axum has absolutely no life to it. It’s telling that the EMH’s “Axum is a lucky man” carries more romantic weight than any of the sodden scenes between Jeri Ryan and Mark Deakins.

For the second year in a row, Voyager has a season-spanning two-parter that flushes away a perfectly good premise, and which also sets up the possibility for future stories (four Equinox crew joining Voyager last year, the Borg resistance this year) that will henceforth become utterly totally thoroughly ignored, thus negating what little value the episodes have. Just an awful start to the show’s final season.

Warp factor rating: 2

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be an author guest at GalaxyCon Raleigh at the Raleigh Convention Center in North Carolina this weekend. He’ll be spending most of his time at the Bard’s Tower booth (#500) alongside several other authors. Other guests at the convention include fellow Star Trek scribes Melinda M. Snodgrass and Peter David, as well as Trek actors William Shatner and Carlos Ferro. He’s also doing panels—his schedule can be found here.

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