Friday, September 9, 2011

Star Trek: Voyager--"Drone"

I happy to say “Drone” is one of the best VOY offerings yet. It is not very original, even in terms of VOY. The catalyst for action is a transporter accident. It is a Seven learns about humanity episode even though she is not the focal point. There is even a hint of Tuvix’s creation--heaven help us for that--with a far better ending. Janeway is actually human here. Can you believe it?

There is a transporter accident as an away team is beamed off a shuttle studying a nebula. The Doctor is among the team, and his mobile emitter is damaged. When he has to be transported to sickbay, his emitter stays behind on the transporter pad. Seven picks it up, unaware that her Borg nanotech will interact with it. By the next morning, there is a 29th century Borg fetus gestating in an incubator it created for itself.

There is an immediate debate whether the fetus should be terminated before it can develop into a full Borg. Janeway, whom you would think would normally volunteer to pull the plug, decides against killing it because it has no connection to the Borg Collective. All joking about Janeway’s warped morality aside, I was surprised the abortion allegory ended then and there, not only with the pro-life side winning, but coming out on top in a situation in which even a pro-life might hesitate a moment. For all they know, this Borg will attempt to assimilate the crew the minute he is fully mature and with his 29th century technology, will likely be unstoppable. Yet they err on the side of preserving life.

(The turn of events is a matter of dramatic convenience, I am certain. If anyone involved in writing “Drone” is pro-life, I would be shocked to find out.)

It turns out preserving the drone’s life was the right decision. He is not part of the borg Collective. He is largely a blank slate who looks to Seven for all his needs in the same manner a small child clings to his mother. We catch hints here of seven’s future role of mentoring children like Naomi and the group of Borg children Voyagerwill eventually encounter. But this is not entirely a Seven story. It is all about the drone, who designates himself as One.

One is awkward, but affable because of his naïve curiosity and willingness to share whatever insight he has. It is an unusual combination. It is not made very clear why he cannot understand many basic concepts, but oddly enough wins Torres over with his insight on improving engine efficiency. Perhaps he is a savant. He becomes a welcome edition to the crew until he inadvertently contacts the Borg Collective. They become fascinated by the prospect of assimilating 29th century technology five hundred years earlier and pursue Voyager.

One knows there is a hive mind associated with the Borg, and he wants to experience it. That is until janeway and seven show him everything known about them. He realizes assimilation destroys everything he has come to like about himself, so when the Borg come, he resists. In fact, he sacrifices himself to destroy the Borg sphere and refusing medical treatment for the wounds he suffered because as long as he is alive, the borg will keep trying to assimilate his advanced technology. He finally learns a very big basic concept--that of sacrifice for those he cares about.

If you caught hints of TNG’s “The Offspring” and “I, Borg” as well as elements of previous VOY episodes, you are correct. “Drone” feels much like the two episodes. Fortunately, it is only the good elements of both and mostly from “I, Borg,” which is the superior episode. In spite of lifting many elements from other episodes, “Drone” does not feel contrived. It is actually quite moving to see one’s development to the poin the learns it is best to sacrifice himself for the safety of others. It is doubly impressive we care about a full fledged Borg. (No, Seven does not count because she is a sexy woman and people automatically care about those no matter what they do.) it is also a nice touch to see seven so attached to one emotionally, she is near tears when he dies. That is teaching Seven about actual humanity in a plausible way.

On a lighter note, the special effects laden encounter with the Borg Sphere is very impressive for television.

Rating; **** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment