Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Infinite Regress"

“Infinite Regress” is another Borg implants gone wrong episode for Seven. More to the point, Seven displays the Borg equivalent of multiple personality disorder when the identities of individuals she has helped assimilate take over her mind. The scenario gives Jeri Ryan a chance to play more colorful characters than she can with Seven, for better and for worse. There is not much to the story beyond Seven experiencing these personalities and a quick fix mind meld--again--to solve the problem, but it is fun to watch Ryan ham it up at times.

Voyager encounters a debris field which they soon learn is the remains of a destroyed Borg cube. At the center of the debris is a vindiculm, a device that suppresses individual thought in drones so they can concentrate only on the needs of the collective. The vindiculum triggers Seven’s MPD, as she starts bouncing between the personalities of different people she has assimilated.

I am going to give Ryan credit here. She is a fine actress, far better than what the character of seven allows her to do. She acts out quite a few of the personalities wonderfully. There is a six year old girl who wants to play with Naomi Wildman, a woman who cannot find her husband/boyfriend 9it is not clear) after a Borg attack, and a newly Starfleet captain among them Ryan plays with a bittersweet sadness over their fate. These personalities do not know they have been assimilated. Only we do. That said, there are personalities like the Klingon who eats raw meat and tries to mate with Torres and a Fereng constantly looking for a new business opportunity which go in the opposite direction. They are stereotypical and played for laughs. I can appreciate the need for comic relief here, but it is too over the top. The human personalities came across as real, but the aliens are caricatures. They could have been presented much better.

The final two acts reveal the vindiculum has been tampered with by an unnamed species--just to show you how unimportant to the story they are--to include a virus that will destroy as many Botg cubes as come into proximity. Over eleven billion of the species have been assimilated by the Borg in the last for years, so those few remaining are out for nothing more than revenge for the loss of their civilization. They repeatedly attack Voyager to retrieve the vindiculum from engineering while Tuvok mind melds with Seven to disconnect her from the thing or something like hat. It is just an excuse for a nightmarish sequence in which Tuvok walks through seven thoughts, looking for for her while all those she has assimilated claw at him. He saves seven, so Janeway beams the vindiculum back to the aliens. Unlike Picard, she does not blink at the idea of using a virus to wipe the Borg out.

The idea of an alien race being completely assimilated by the Borg in the midst of other civilizations thriving untouched by them brings up one of the biggest questions of the series--how do the Borg decide who to assimilate and when? Half the aliens Voyager encounters have no fear of the Borg, but the other half live in mortal terror of them. The difference in attitude is never explained. The only thing I can recall is a line from Seven once that the borg had encountered a Kazon ship once and decided not to assimilate it because they would bring nothing to the Collective. So the Borgh do not assimilate solely to increase their numbers. A species has to have something new the Collective wants. If true, then those who have no fear of the Borg must recognize themselves as…what? Lesser species who have nothing to offer? Whatever the deal is, reducing the Borg to just another alien race rather than the force of nature they were previously considered to be is a bad move. Necessary to keep VOY an interesting show that can feature lots of different aliens, but still bad for the Borg.

There is not much to “Infinite Regress” beyond watching Ryan act out different personalities. A mind Meld from Tuvok has saved the day on at least four occasions now, with the doctor making the same protests even though it has always worked in the past. The alien menace does not even get a name beyond the borg designation Seven identities, so that shows you how important they are to the story. Still, Ryan is entertaining and this is an episode which deals with seven well rather than tacking on her involvement in a story that is not really about her like VOY normally does, so it gets a weak thumbs up.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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