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DARK FRONTIER PARTS I & II



PLOT: A Borg scout ship locates Voyager and approaches. As the collective contacts Voyager to let them know that "resistance is futile" Captain Janeway takes a brave stand. With Borg enhancements gained along the way, Voyager isn't any ordinary Starfleet vessel and Janeway puts her to the test. Voyager returns fire on the Borg ship, disables its shields and then transports a photon torpedo into the heart of the scout ship, easily destroying it. Janeway then mounts a salvage mission to try to retrieve the, hopefully still intact, transwarp coil from the Borg ship. Among the items retrieved are functioning data nodes with information on the current location and status of all Borg vessels in this area. Three cube ships are only nine light years away and a Borg sphere (proceeding at low warp while under repair) is even closer. As the retrieved transwarp coil is not functioning (and encouraged by their success against the scout ship) Janeway decides to set out on a mission to steal a transwarp coil from the Borg sphere. She orders Seven to review in detail the logs made by her parents for any useful information on the Borg. Seven has been avoid these logs since they were retrieved from her parent's ship -- the Raven -- almost two years before.

The Raven's logs (beginning at Stardate 32623.5) indicate that Seven's parents, the Hansens, had received authorisation from Starfleet to enter the Delta Quadrant on a mission to study the Borg up close. Seven, then a young child named Annika, was with her parents on the Raven. Excerpts of the logs show that the Hansens were almost fanatical about their research on the Borg, taking great risks and becoming more and more confident with each successful mission. For example, they developed a shielding for the Raven that allowed them to virtually fly in formation with a cube ship without being detected and a bio-mask to allow them to transport into a cube - again without being detected by the Borg. They even kidnapped drones from their regeneration cubicles, studied them in detail aboard the Raven and then returned them before their regeneration cycles were completed. In this way, they amassed a great deal of knowledge about the Borg without much thought or concern for their safety or the safety of their young daughter. With information gained from the Raven's logs, Janeway and company device a careful plan and then run simulation after simulation to get it down right. Two away teams will beam into the Borg sphere. Tuvok and Kim will locate and plant explosives on the spheres shield generators. Meanwhile, Janeway and Seven will locate the sphere's transwarp coil and transmit its exact coordinates back to Voyager to it can be transported away. For everything to go right, the away teams must beam in, do their tasks and beam out within a couple minutes or the sphere's intruder alarms will be activated.

Everything is ready for Operation Fort Knox to proceed the next morning but unknown to anyone Seven is contacted by the Borg Queen - who is aboard the sphere. She knows about Janeway's plan but makes Seven an offer she can't refuse -- if Seven will surrender herself to the Borg, they will let Voyager continue on its way unharmed. The Borg Queen explains to Seven that she wants Seven because she is unique. Seven does not reveal this to Janeway and Operation Fort Knox begins as planned. An unmanned shuttlecraft rigged to give off life signs is sent out as a decoy while the two away teams beam into the sphere. With copies of the bio-masks developed by the Hansens, Janeway, Seven, Tuvok, and Kim are ignored by the drones that go about their Borg duties. Everything seems to be going according to plan up to the point where the away teams are to be transported back to Voyager. Seven gets a transmission through her cortical implant from the Borg Queen and Seven announces to Captain Janeway that she plans to stay with the Borg. With several Borg cubes now converging on Voyager, Janeway doesn't have the luxury of trying to talk sense into Seven and the three remaining away team members beam back to Voyager and depart the area at full warp. Seven is led by several drones to a large room where the Borg Queen's head and shoulders are attached to a mechanical body and she welcomes Seven home.



Aboard the sphere the Queen tells Seven that the humans have taken her apart and recreated her in their image but beneath the surface she is still Borg. She says that Seven's individuality is unique and that she will add greatly to the perfection of the Borg. She also reveals that Seven was originally allowed to be captured by Voyager and taken away by the humans. In effect, she was planted among the humans to gain information from them. On Voyager, Janeway begins a search for the Borg sphere. She also gets a short visit from Naomi Wildman who asks Janeway not to give up trying to find Seven.

Using the transwarp coil taken from the Borg sphere, Voyager eventually locates and travels deep into Borg territory using the type of shielding developed by the Hansens. Inside, the Queen is trying to convince Seven of her rightful place among the Borg and makes it known that her intent is to use the enhanced nanites that Doc used to un-assimilate Seven in a plan to infect Earth with Borg nanites which, after a period of years, would result in assimilation of all life on the planet. As part of the reintegration of Seven into the collective without actually re-assimilating her, the Queen assigns Seven to assist in the assimilation of a newly encountered species of over 390,000 individuals. The experience, however, is very difficult emotionally on Seven and she actually helps a small group of captives to escape. By now, Janeway, Tuvok, Doc and Paris are in the Delta Flyer on a mission to rescue Seven. Janeway is beamed into the Borg ship and a stand off almost immediately arises between the Queen -- who has drones ready to assimilate the stubborn Seven -- and Janeway, who has an enhanced phaser rifles trained on the Queen.

Meanwhile, the Delta Flyer is preparing to fire a spread of enhanced photon torpedoes at the small Borg ship. With this distraction, Seven and Janeway are beamed away and the Delta Flyer goes to transwarp speed away from Borg space. However, hot on their tail is the Queen's sphere. As the Delta Flyer emerges from the transwarp envelope, Voyager fires a spread of photon torpedoes that collapses it, destroying the Queen's sphere. Now safely away from the Borg, Captain Janeway records in her log that Voyager was able to travel 20,000 light years closer to home before the Borg transwarp coil failed. She also notes that from her recent reconnection with the collective, Seven has accumulated a vast amount of knowledge about the Borg, which she has downloaded to Voyager's computers. In a private conversation afterwards, Seven tells Janeway that, although the Borg Queen believed that Seven was unique and of great importance, she did not expect Captain Janeway to risk Voyager's safety to try to rescue her…



REVIEW: What was it about? Two hours of wasted screen time and two hours that viewers will never be able to get back in their lives. OK, it wasn't as flat-out goofy as most of Voyager or as intellectually and morally offensive as "Scorpion" but beyond a few interesting ideas about the Borg, we didn't really get anything for our time, did we? The "2-hr Tele-film extravaganza" was, without commercials, a rather lame 90mn. 2-parter which gives us tons and tons and tons of set up only to have everything wound up in the last five minutes. Voyager as usual and did we ever have plot holes. Lots of 'em and so large they could accommodate that whole Borg fleet.

For a start, just how did two civilian exo-biologists rate getting their hands on state-of-the-art military technology in the form of that obviously Federation-issue ship? Two problems immediately arise with the given stardate of 32776 or whatever it specifically was: this is *ten* years before the first contact between the Enterprise and the Borg in system J-25 and six to eight years before Starfleet allowed families and children to accompany their ships' personnel. How is it that these two practically have encyclopedia-level knowledge of the Borg before first contact and how is it that the Borg we see are the more advanced First Contact-model Borg instead of the earlier BOBW-model? Janeway and Seven can beam out the Borg transwarp coil out of the engineering core of the Borg sphere but somehow they can't beam themselves out at the same time? What is this drivel about having to get back to the beam-in point? Voyager's transporters suddenly no longer have the capability to handle cargo and people? With the Borg's shields down, the Voyager's transporters can't lock on to two humans, one human/Borg hybrid and one Vulcan from anywhere in that sphere? The sensors suddenly aren't good enough to identify their own crew or their combadge signals? Time is of the essence in the sabotage/theft mission, yet Janeway and Co. stroll casually through the corridors of the Borg scoutship instead of running or at least jogging? What is the point of Tuvok telling Harry where to place the charges on the shield generator thingy and Harry waiting for the instructions before doing anything? He didn't learn his job during the rehearsals on the Holodeck?

The Borg recaptures Seven because the Queen wants her distinctive nature to serve the Borg by her remaining as she is yet throughout her time with the Borg, Seven is *constantly* being told by BorgDom that she should discard those very human qualities the Borg seemingly find so important to advance their plans? f humans are so difficult to assimilate, why bother sending one cube every few years, rather than sending a hundred cubes to Earth, which certainly would be enough to overwhelm any resistance - which is the way they're supposed to operate in the first place? BorgDom rattles off the weaknesses and disadvantages of humanity - if we're that worthless, what is the purpose in assimilating us? What advantage does it give them? If the Borg have this ability to infiltrate tailored nanoprobes to infest a target world and bring about the slow but eventual assimilation of a species (which actually is a clever idea and one which would be difficult if not impossible to combat) why don't they simply adopt this method to assimilate all their target species? Just capture a few individuals of each species, alter the nanoprobes and voila - it's just a matter of time before you've got a new phalanx of drones. No waste of resources, no losses from combat, no resistance - plus you get the people and the world intact. So why not adopt this method for all assimilations? This would pretty much make the Borg unbeatable - a couple of millennia and the Galaxy is theirs. Or are the Borg simply impatient? Or too dumb to work out the obvious conclusion?

In the end, there simply are too many things, which just don't make sense from any standpoint. Dark Frontier wasn't offensively awful but it was sure a waste of time and in the end we're more or less left right where we were to begin with. The ship's still lost in space, Janeway and her incompetent bunch survive and the Borg degenerate even further. They may as well not even have bothered.



COMMENTS #1: Braga says "I remember we were talking late one night and thought it might be cool if Janeway turned the tables on the Borg. Every one of our two - parters has a great Janeway driving force behind it. We thought it would be cool to use the idea of the damaged Borg sphere and Janeway determined to do a little assimilating of her own. The Queen has set her sights on humanity and Seven holds the key. She's the only Borg to truly rejoin humanity. Unlike Locutus/Picard, who was only a Borg briefly, Seven spent her entire life as a Borg and was with humanity briefly. Thus begins what we feel is an exciting adventure in which Janeway must infiltrate the heart of Borg space (where the Queen lives) to find and retrieve Seven."

COMMENTS #2: Actress Susanna Thompson, who takes over the role of the Borg Queen (played in the feature film First Contact by Alice Krige) notes that Krige's portrayal was quite seductive. "This Queen is seductive in a different way" she says of her role. "They're both seductive in getting what they want and she really wants Seven of Nine back. There's a whole issue of free will being played here, with the Queen trying to get a sense of free will and realising that Seven and who she is, is the key to achieving that. What's interesting is that at a certain point in the film, we pose the question - was this all originally designed to happen this way? Did the events of this story happen by mistake or did the Borg originally intend it this way? It really comes to a point where you need to find out one way or the other."

COMMENTS #3: "I had seen a documentary called Wolves At Our Door about a married couple who spent a large portion of their adult life studying wolves up close in the wild and really breaking a lot of misconceptions about wolves" notes Braga. "I thought maybe that's who her parents were? They were true explorers, true scientists and maybe they were the first people to get to the Delta Quadrant by following in the wake of a Borg cube - to study them up close? But things went terribly wrong and they got assimilated. How interesting it would be to follow their adventures - the first encounter with the Borg and the perspective they would have on them. We tend to think of the Borg as faceless, mindless automatons but they might have had a little bit of a different perspective which we explore by following their back story - which Seven is investigating because she has the logs that she retrieved from her parents vessel last year. Not only is it a fascinating little back story in which you get to see Seven as a little girl and how everything went wrong but she begins to discover they developed very clever defensive capabilities against the Borg that we begin to use ourselves."

NEW #1: Starting with this episode, UPN has been editing Voyager of up to three minutes. Why? They guarantee the sponsors a minimum rating and as the show has been coming in under that, they are cutting portions out of the shows to fill in more free advertising space. What is missing? I would not be able to tell you at this stage but I will find out.

NEW #2: Okay, I definitely know that Dark Frontier has been edited. Here is what I know is missing. Janeway confronts B'Elanna and says "we have lost one of our own". B'Elanna then hits back and says "Captain, she was never really one of our own" to which Janeway looks angry and leaves - this makes the scene on the bridge much more powerful (ie the scene where Janeway is announcing her intent to go after Seven and leave Chakotay in command.) The credits from the first episode are missing as is the "last time on Star Trek" recap from Part Two. What else is missing? I doubt that is it but it makes me wonder how much more UPN will edit from the "movie" when it repeats?





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