Mark Watches ‘Voyager’: S04E01 – Scorpion, Part II

In the first episode of the fourth season of Voyager, I will never be the same. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek

What. An. Achievement.

Somehow, “Scorpion, Part II” is as good or possibly even BETTER than the first half? This is the episode that sets the tone for season four, that gives us the potential for a long, serialized story, and my life is ruined.

The Agreement

I mostly sat in awe throughout this episode, partially because it was so surreal to watch all of this unfold. That opening scene where Janeway ordered Chakotay to stop trying to transport her over… WHAT HAD THIS SHOW BECOME. But that was a question I asked over and over again. This felt like the boldest leap Voyager had ever taken, and I thought I was ready, but I wasn’t. And I’m glad that some of my predictions already came true because I was just endlessly satisfied by how the alliance with the Borg unfolded.

It was complicated. Ultimately, that was what I wanted, and that’s what the writers gave me. Janeway’s negotiations highlight her creativity and her power as a leader, and I could not imagine this being centered around any other character. If the first half of this story was about loneliness, then this is about the power of individuality. Thus, the fact that Janeway stood largely alone against the Borg is vital. Yes, she had Tuvok by her side, but after making the decision to ally with the Borg, she doesn’t exactly have people clamoring to join the Borg, you know?

Throughout this episode, Janeway risks unpopularity in order to do what she sees as right. She also risks her own life, such as when the Borg drones try to install neural probes on her and Tuvok. Even then, what is that scene explicitly about? The preservation of individuality. Janeway fights for it at every turn, and it is one of my very favorite things about her.

Seven of Nine

I THOUGHT THAT JERI RYAN WAS JUST GOING TO GUEST IN THIS ONE EPISODE BUT I GUESS NOT AND I AM VERY, VERY EXCITED. The introduction of Seven of Nine is dramatic, but the writing for her characters is what impressed me the most. It’s difficult to conceive of the Borg in any individual sense because that’s their nature. They’re part of a collective in every way, so even the idea of a “representative” of the Borg is just weird. Yet in Seven of Nine, we get a human who was assimilated 18 years prior who is now a strict adherent to the Borg. She has no other choice, of course. But it’s so endlessly fascinating to watch her interact with Janeway. They are polar opposites, both interested in their own needs and beliefs, which are also completely at odds with one another.

But Janeway pushes. She knows she has leverage, and throughout this alliance, she consistently refuses to let it go. She gets the Borg to agree to the alliance, she gets them to promise her safe passage, she gets them to take off the neural probes, and she even forces them to re-think how to deploy the nanobots. Having all of this filtered through a single person – Seven of Nine – makes the conflict easier to understand for the audience, so just in that context alone, she’s a BRILLIANT addition to the show.

Chakotay

And then, for a brief moment, Janeway is out of the picture, injured in an attack by Species 8472. (An attack, mind you, where the Borg SACRIFICES THEIR OWN SHIP AND MOST OF THEIR DRONES IN ORDER TO SAVE VOYAGER, WHICH IS A FIRST.) And that awkward, heartbreaking conflict between Chakotay and Janeway from the season three finale comes to the fore, and I AM NEVER GOING TO HEAL FROM THIS. Their fundamental disagreement is one of endgames. The tragedy is that they both want to get Voyager home, and Janeway’s final words before her medically-induced coma confirm. Yet Chakotay refuses to use the Borg to do that, and thus, he risks the Alliance as soon as he can.

Now, I didn’t read him as being malicious about this. He wanted what was best for the crew, and given his history with the Borg (which I admittedly forgot about), he has no reason to trust them, not even if there’s an advantage in that. That’s why he arranged to dump the Borg on a planet with the nano technology, all so Voyager could hightail it out of Borg space. And as predicted, the Borg didn’t take too kindly to this plan.

SO CHAKOTY HAS THEM SHOT OUT INTO SPACE. I STILL CANNOT BELIEVE THE SHOW ACTUALLY WENT THERE, OH MY GOD. In hindsight, I am looking at my reaction to that sequence and thinking, “Oh, honey, you have no idea how far they’re going to go in this episode.” I’m just… wow. Chakotay really did it.

Dimensional War

If you’ll notice, I did not write about or predict the possibility that the Voyager would entire the galaxy where Species 8472 was from. I mean, why would it? It wasn’t even a vague idea in my head. It was just completely off the table because why on earth would they do that? Yet it’s another sign of what a monumental season-opener this is. It’s full of risks, and the writers commit to them. Chakotay kills a bunch of Borg by venting them into space, and in response, Seven of Nine opens a dimensional rift and sends Voyager right into the home of the very alien they’re trying to stop.

I still can’t fathom that this happened, but it did. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough of a mindfuck, then Seven of Nine more or less revealed that the Borg were responsible for Species 8472 coming into the Delta Quadrant in the first place.

THIS SHOW IS TOO MUCH.

But I’m glad it is. I am thankful for what the writers have chosen to do here. The conflict between Janeway and Chakotay is uncomfortable, but it works so well in the context of the whole show. I know that may seem weird to say when I still have four full seasons to watch, but think of it this way. This crew is years into a long, long mission, and it was inevitable that something would drive a wedge between these two, not because they are disagreeable people. They aren’t! But they could not have possibly agreed on everything forever, and this specific conflict feels specifically designed for these two characters. (Bravo, Voyager writers.) And maybe Chakotay did trust Janeway, but the point still stands: he nearly extinguished their alliance with the Borg, and if Janeway had not woken up, would they have even gotten home? Or would Chakotay and his unwillingness to compromise pushed them even further into disaster? Again, it’s individuality at the core of this. These two disagreed completely about what to do, but does that mean they still can’t work together?

AND OH, HOW THEY WORK TOGETHER, Y’ALL. More on that at the end. I just want to state that I was transfixed by the battle with Species 8472. Like many moments in this premiere, I felt like I was watching Voyager casually become an utterly different show. Voyager was at war with a new species, annihilating them in a few seconds with a weapon devised from Borg nanobots. But the boldest moment was saved for the end: as soon as Seven of Nine tried to assimilate the ship, they disconnected her from the collective. Not only that, BUT THEY DID NOT KICK HER OFF THE SHIP. I am assuming this is the reason I was told not to watch the opening credits because Jeri Ryan’s name was in it. So… oh my god. they are keeping her around THEY ARE KEEPING HER AROUND.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS.

The video for “Scorpion, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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