The Great Star Trek Voyager Rewatch: Unimatrix Zero

For some Borg drones, the regeneration cycle is a chance to regain their individuality, as part of a shared unconscious state known as “Unimatrix Zero”. But now, the Borg Queen has found out about this realm, and she is determined to eradicate it. Desperate to save their one escape from life as drones, the inhabitants of Unimatrix Zero reach out to Seven of Nine, who was once one of their number. Can Seven and Voyager take on the Borg Queen and survive?

Unimatrix Zero is meant to be a season ender to top all season enders, a Borg two-parter that’s bigger and better than anything that had gone before. I can appreciate the sentiment, but there’sno escaping it – I just don’t like this two-parter.

During the course of Voyager’s run, I have sat through the slow erosion of the Borg, and somehow, this episode is the point where it all becomes too much. Seven of Nine, who had already been established as a special Borg snowflake in both Dark Frontier and Collective, now turns out to have had an entire dream life as Annika, in which she even found romance. For me, this revelation undermines a lot of Seven’s character, from the emotional immaturity of being assimilated as a child, to her growth as a person on Voyager. All this time, there was this fully formed Annika Hansen personality within her after all!

As for the rest of the plot, it fails to enthral. Voyager once again manages to go several rounds with a Borg cube without being destroyed – you know, the same vessel that destroyed large swathes of Starfleet not once, but twice. Janeway, Tuvok and B’Elanna let themselves get assimilated (to some extent), but it lacks the pure horror of The Best of Both Worlds. The Borg Queen is laughably incompetent, and the culmination of the episode is that there is yet another deadly threat to the Borg, to go along with all those pathogens and viruses that the people of the Delta Quadrant keep developing.

Points of Note

  • Tom Paris finally regains the rank of lieutenant in this episode. Harry makes a quip about not getting promoted, but no one pays him any attention.
  • Why isn’t the Borg Queen more proactive the moment she realises she can’t hear Janeway, Torres and Tuvok in the Collective? Why not restrain their movements, or kill them?
  • It’s amazing how none of the main characters who get temporarily assimilated – Picard, Janeway, Tuvok and Torres – have any limbs permanently removed or disfigured, and then have to live with that for the rest of their lives.
  • Torres is remarkably calm about using her assimilation tubules. Maybe I’m just not Starfleet material, but I would be so freaked out about having my body transformed into that of a drone.
  • This episode features yet another woman who was assimilated at Wolf 359, even though, as we’ve discussed before, that Borg cube was destroyed before it made it back to the Delta Quadrant. From now on, I’m going to stick with the theory that some drones from that cube were dispatched onto a Borg Sphere, and travelled back to Borg space via a transwarp conduit.
  • This episode introduces a previously unseen type of mind meld, in which a Vulcan can bridge two different minds. Essentially, it’s the group sex of mind melds.
  • In this episode, the collective is altered by affecting the central plexus of the Borg cube. Whatever happened to the Vinculum, which seems to play the same role in moderating the hive mind?
  • Children age faster in maturation chambers – is this reflected in Unimatrix Zero? Would Annika have been a full grown woman in Unimatrix Zero after her maturation was complete, even though biologically she was only eleven years old? Her bodily growth may have been accelerated, but would the personality of her individual self have kept up?
  • The Borg Queen resorts to destroying entire ships containing thousands of normal drones just to kill a few miscreants. Yes, she was trying to make Janeway feel guilty, but surely shooting the collective in the foot in the process. She knows exactly which drones are no part of the hive mind, so all she has to do is have the thousands of obedient drones detain and kill them.
  • On a similar note, if so few drones have the ability to enter Unimatrix Zero, how are they able to take over their respective ships? Even in the best case there would only have been two or three of them against thousands of drones.
  • Tuvok was apparently born on the Vulcanis Lunar colony, even though Vulcan supposedly has no moon.
  • How is there even a border with fluidic space – isn’t it essentially part of a whole other reality? And if there is a border, why is it in the far Beta Quadrant, when previously fluidic space was accessed from the Delta Quadrant? For that matter, the Beta Quadrant is on the way home, so Seven could meet Axum along the way. Not that she would want to, as by that point she would already have gotten over him and been involved with Chakotay.
  • Why does the Borg Queen talk out loud to herself and her drones, when she has previously mocked such primitive linguistic forms of communication? Yes, I know it’s for our benefit, but what’s the in-universe reason?
  • Despite what The Doctor and Seven say, this is not Seven’s first dream – she dreamt in both Waking Moments and One.
  • What was the point of taking Tuvok on the away mission anyway? He didn’t add any value to the mission, and in fact ended up being a deadly liability.

Lost, crashed or destroyed shuttlecraft running total: 17

Destroyed Delta Flyer running total: 1

Possibly salvageable shuttlecraft running total: 10

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

Number of times a version of Voyager gets destroyed: 5

Summary – Unimatrix Zero: This episode and I just do not get on.

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