The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Dark Frontier

Captain Janeway is tired of running away from the Borg. It’s been adding time to Voyager’s journey home, and Janeway reckons it’s time to make up for that – by stealing a Borg transwarp coil. But whilst the crew trains for this risky mission, Seven of Nine is contacted by the Borg Queen, who wants her to return to the Collective.

Dark Frontier is season five’s big mid-season two-parter, and it’s one of the rare instances that comes as a feature-length episode on the standard releases. Unfortunately, it’s another episode that I have mixed feelings about.

On the plus side, the episode is one big homage to my favourite film of all time, Star Trek First Contact. We get to see the Borg Queen, Borg spheres and other geometric Borg ships, whilst the dialogue is peppered with nods to that of First Contact. On paper, it all sounds amazing – and yet, it’s not.

Part of the problem here is that it’s part of the ongoing erosion of the Borg as a serious opponent. Voyager basically wipes the floor with them at every time, as much as through luck than judgement, but enough to make a mockery of the Battles of Wolf 359 and Sector 001. It also raises many questions to trouble the pedantic Star Trek fan, which we will cover below. We also have to put up with yet more Naomi Wildman, because we clearly haven’t had enough of her this season.

Characterisation

  • What makes Janeway decide to provoke the Borg when she could have just left them alone? Is it a desperation to get home, or is it something more? Recall Extreme Risk, where B’Elanna kept deliberately putting herself in danger. Could it be that Janeway is doing the same thing? So guilty does Janeway feel about stranding the crew in the Delta Quadrant that she feels compelled to take risks as punishment. If they succeed, then Voyager manages to get home a bit faster, so it’s all justified.
  • I know B’Elanna and Seven never got along, but B’Elanna’s attitude to Seven apparently returning to the Borg seems a bit cold. Maybe it’s just B’Elanna’s way of dealing with the anger she feels about a possible betrayal, by pretending she never cared for Seven in the first place. Or maybe she really just doesn’t care.

I am the Borg…

  • Can the Borg really be so easily defeated? Not only are they completely fooled by the old “beam a photon torpedo” over trick, but Janeway seems able to deal with the Borg Queen without too much trouble.
  • If the Hansens were assimilated twenty years ago, surely the Borg could easily adapt to their technology. Indeed, later on the Borg Queen says that they can adapt to the modifications Voyager has made – does this mean she was just letting Voyager think that the modifications were working? Or that they merely had the ability to adapt, and didn’t bother to actually do so until the end of the episode?
  • I promised to come back to this, but we have to address the glaring continuity issue – one that troubled me so much that I wrote into Star Trek Monthly about it. The Federation had not encountered the Borg until the events of Q Who in TNG season 2, although it was implied that they had been attacking outposts along the Neutral Zone. TNG season 2 was a mere ten years prior to Voyager season five, but it’s twenty years since the Hansens left Federation space to study the Borg. The Borg should have been completely unknown at that point!
    The theory I came up with and sent to Star Trek Monthly was that the Hansens had theorised the existence of the Borg, and were generally considered as conspiracy theorists by Starfleet. Somehow the Hansens were able to amass a large amount of accurate data about the Borg before ever encountering them, but no reputable scientists cared about such data. As it turned out, of course, the Hansens were correct, but no one remembered that ten years later. In fact, their work was so niche that they weren’t even mentioned in the Starfleet database by that point.
  • The Borg Queen’s interest in Seven echoes her previous relationships with Picard and Data – each time looking for a life form who could bridge the gap between humanity and the Borg.
  • When the Borg Queen says that she was once a member of Species 125, presumably she means her current host body, rather than the original Borg Queen.
  • We finally find out that humanity has been designated Species 5618.
  • Did the Borg Queen really intend for Seven to end up on Voyager, or did she say that to mess with Seven’s mind? We’ll never know.
  • Remember when Voyager had to use photon torpedoes sparingly? I guess they found a way to make more, as now even the Delta Flyer has its own complement of high yield torpedoes.
  • Voyager apparently gets 20,000 light years of travel out of the transwarp coil. Assuming this is all in the correct direction, then they should now be a mere 30,000 light years from home.
  • The Borg Queen tells Seven that she is the only drone to regain her individuality. This is clearly a lie, as we have of course encountered Hugh, Lore’s group of drones and the Co-operative in Unity.
  • Another shuttlecraft is sacrificed for the transwarp coil theft. They’re just so much junk these days.

Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 15

Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 9

Number of times the entire crew gets enslaved or kicked off the ship: 3

Number of times Voyager gets destroyed: 3

Summary – Dark Frontier: In which Janeway and the Borg Queen compete for Seven of Nine’s love.

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