A pair of scientists bring their young daughter on a research mission in space. They have discovered a new species of humanoid aliens who have incredible technology but seem to operate differently than others. As is wont to happen when the hubris of humanity confronts a power beyond their understanding, events take a turn for the worse. The family is captured and assimilated into the new society of the Borg. The young child is separated from her parents and becomes just another number in the massive cybernetic society. They call her Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One.
When the Borg appeared for the first time in Star Trek: The Next Generation, many a fan’s imagination was captured by their arresting “Resistance is futile.” And when Jean-Luc Picard was assimilated by the hive mind in Season 3, Episode 26, “The Best of Both Worlds,” a nation gnashed its teeth. (No, seriously, Patrick Stewart spent the summer between seasons being accosted by angry parents whose children were distraught.)
In true girl-power fashion, Star Trek: Voyager asked, “How can we take the Borg narrative further? This time with a woman?” The Star Trek: First Contact film had explored the idea of a Borg Queen, but Voyager wanted to know what happens when a drone has a chance at returning to humanity.
Which returns us to Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). The character was brought onto Voyager for two main reasons: They needed someone to butt heads with Captain Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), and, frankly, she was hot as all hell. (What even was her outfit on the show?) We won’t be jumping on the douche-wagon of belittling either Seven or actor Ryan for her hotness, especially given what a massive role the character plays in both the series narrative and its long-term success.
Seven and Janeway’s relationship evolves, and a powerful partnership and mentorship develop (which I obviously wish had gone a queerer route, but c’est la Trek). Janeway encourages Seven to connect with her humanity, confront her past, and become the person she wants to be. Seven shows Janeway that that person can be human and still be Borg, still be dedicated to efficiency and unity and, yes, perfection. Their relationship is a beautiful exploration of the power of women looking out for one another and older women actively mentoring younger ones.
So settle in, grab a tissue, and prepare to be assimilated … into loving Seven of Nine!
“Scorpion” Parts 1 and 2 (Season 3, Episode 26 and Season 4, Episode 1)
On their journey through the Delta Quadrant back to Earth in the Alpha Quadrant, the Voyager crew finds a section of space occupied by the nefarious Borg. What they find, though, is that there is a species that even the Borg fear, Species 8472. Janeway offers a heretofore-unthinkable alliance to the Borg in opposition to Species 8472. And, what do you know, the Borg appoint a representative named Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One, to assist in the alliance.
“The Gift” (Season 4, Episode 2)
Seven’s neural link to the Borg is severed. While she struggles with the change emotionally, her body begins to reject her cybernetic enhancements. The Doctor, a hologram, removes the enhancements against her will, and though she begs to be returned to the Borg Collective, Janeway will not acquiesce.
This episode is a great example of the relationship between Seven and Janeway and shows the first of many long talks where the two spar about the differences between humanity and Borg.
“The Raven” (Season 4, Episode 6)
As Janeway tries to coax Seven toward her humanity, Seven is plagued with memories of her childhood cut short. Confused by the images she’s seeing, Seven flees Voyager to return to the Collective. Luckily, Janeway is stubborn and tracks her down, revealing that Seven of Nine was once a little girl named Annika Hansen.
“Prey” (Season 4, Episode 16)
When a hunter-species, the Hirogen, is found tracking a wounded individual of Species 8472, Janeway orders Seven to help the wounded individual escape. Seven disobeys and sends the creature straight to the Hirogen. Let’s just say things get tense between Captain Janeway and the former drone who has her privileges on Voyager limited.
“The Killing Game” Parts One and Two (Season 4, Episodes 18 and 19)
Unbeknownst to them, the Voyager crew members, including Seven, are trapped in hologram simulations, constructed hunting grounds for the Hirogen who have taken possession of the ship (and the crew). Only the Doctor can help them escape their holographic Groundhog Day.
“The Killing Game” is a fun exploration of history, self, memory, and survival.
“One” (Season 4, Episode 25)
As they pass through a nebula, human crew members find themselves afflicted with burns. They must all go into stasis, leaving Seven in command. The episode starts as a cute examination of Seven’s work ethic and care for the crew, then wades into the topic of psychological isolation.
“Hope and Fear” (Season 4, Episode 26)
The Voyager crew has been unable to decode a message from Starfleet Command when they just happen to encounter an alien who can decipher it. The message is believed to contain information about how the crew can return to Earth. Given the news, Seven decides to stay in the Delta Quadrant, fearing reintegration into Earth society. Not being one for coincidences, Seven is leery of the new arrival, though—and good thing she is. The stranger is on a revenge mission and the Voyager crew is in his sights.
“Drone” (Season 5, Episode 2)
A transporter malfunction causes Seven’s Borg nanoprobes and the Doctor’s hologram emitter to create a hyper-advanced drone. Seven and the entire Voyager crew take it upon themselves to educate the little tyke (who is an adult) and Seven finds herself feeling protective. When the drone, who chooses the name One, attempts to contact the Collective, Seven explains that Voyager is her collective. Oh, but don’t get comfortable. The new family reunion is cut short by the arrival of, you guessed it, the Borg.
“Dark Frontier” Parts 1 and 2 (Season 5, Episodes 15 and 16)
Seven must again grapple with her past, remembering her childhood with her exobiologist parents, when Janeway decides to steal technology off of a damaged Borg sphere. Seven joins the away mission on their heist but refuses to return to Voyager with the crew, instead being hurtled into Borg space where she comes face to face with the Borg Queen. But Janeway isn’t giving up on Seven that easily.
“Relativity” (Season 5, Episode 24)
In the future, Voyager explodes causing a time paradox. Just before the explosion occurs, a Starfleet captain from the future pulls Seven from Voyager, sending her back in time to use her cybernetic enhancements to detect the cause of the explosion before it ever happens.
If you’re into time travel and mystery, this is the episode for you.
“Survival Instinct” (Season 6, Episode 2)
Three rogue drones find Seven and remind her that they used to be part of her unimatrix. Though they have escaped the Collective, the three share a neural link that they desire to sever. Their presence reminds Seven of her past as a Borg, bringing to mind the evil she was complicit in.
“Tsunkatse” (Season 6, Episode 15)
Seven is kidnapped and forced to fight as a gladiator against none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I. Kid. You. Not.
This episode is delightful and fun. Don’t miss alien-ified Dwayne, complete with forehead ridge.
“Collective” (Season 6, Episode 16)
Voyager comes into contact with a rundown Borg cube inhabited only by five children drones who have not fully matured. A pathogen has been introduced to the cube, decimating the adult drone population. One of the child-drones has become a bit of a dictator, but Seven convinces the other four to return to their individuality. Despite that fact, “We are Borg,” is bandied about quite a bit.
“Child’s Play” (Season 6, Episode 19)
The parents of Icheb, one of the four Borg, reach out to Voyager, hoping to have their son returned to them. Seven is suspect of their story of Icheb’s assimilation. A little digging proves Seven right and Janeway backs her up, turning the ship around to return to Icheb and his people.
“Unimatrix Zero” Parts One and Two (Season 6, Episode 26 and Season 7, Episode 1)
Seven learns that the beautiful, peaceful place she dreams of is not just in her mind, but represents a collective consciousness of certain drones. The drones present all have a recessive gene that allows them to dream of Unimatrix Zero while they regenerate. The Borg Queen will not tolerate Unimatrix Zero and the plot thickens when she offers Janeway a way home.
“Imperfection” (Season 7, Episode 2)
When one of Seven’s cybernetic enhancements starts malfunctioning, she must face the reality that she could die. The crew of the Voyager desperately try to find a solution, but it turns out Icheb is the only one who can help her, despite her protests.
Seven and Icheb really bond in this episode and it’s nice to see their mutual care and understanding.
“Repentance” (Season 7, Episode 13)
A prison ship nearly explodes but is saved by Voyager. Seven bonds with one prisoner who expresses remorse at his actions, causing her to consider the impact of her time with the Collective.
While this episode is a heavy-handed and uneven allegory for what ails the U.S. justice system, it does explore Seven’s feelings about her past actions in an interesting way.
“Human Error” (Season 7, Episode 18)
Seven researches relationships on the Holodeck and falls a little in like with holo-Chakotay. She loses grip on reality for a bit but regains her understanding of what is holo and what is real.
Honestly, the whole Seven and Chakotay (Sakotay?) thing feels pretty shoehorned in here at the end of Voyager—and not just to us. Jeri Ryan also found the transition clunky.
“Natural Law” (Season 7, Episode 22)
Seven and Chakotay are stranded on a jungle planet when their shuttle comes into contact with an energy barrier that nearly kills them. The two try to avoid the humanoids of the planet due to the Prime Directive, but how often does that go to plan in the world of Star Trek?
“Endgame” Parts One and Two (Season 7, Episodes 25 and 26)
In a time-jumping two-parter, we see the crew of the Voyager finally approach the end of their journey. A promising nebula contains so many wormholes that it’s likely that one can take them home. The only issue? The pesky Borg Queen is at it again and she wants Seven to return to the Collective.
Inexplicably, Seven and Chakotay are now dating and committing to a life together. Okay, Voyager. We’ll let you have this one.