In the second episode of the seventh season of Voyager, I WASN’T READY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
WHERE DO I EVEN START.
This episode opens with a departure: Rebi, Azan, and Mezoti find a new home and leave Voyager behind. THIS IS THE FIRST SCENE, FOLKS, AND I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS EPISODE WOULD TEAR MY HEART OUT. After “Child’s Play,” I was still a bit raw from the idea that these four kids could ever be separated, and that’s especially the case with Mezoti and Icheb. THEY HAD BONDED, Y’ALL. They had become real friends! And now they’d never seen each other and the whole exchange made Seven cry and I could not deal.
Except I thought the cold open was just a clever joke about how Seven was trying to mask her sadness by saying that her ocular implant was malfunctioning. Instead, this episode morphs into something else: an intense study of mortality and the fragility of bodies. This is particularly heartbreaking to watch because of the layered and complicated characterization we’d been give for Seven of Nine over the previous three seasons. Honestly, this episode would not have meant as much as it did without this! Let’s assume that this was about a character or a species introduced at the start of the episode. Would we have understood that character’s commitment to perfection? The context under which perfection had actually ruled most of their life? The irony that they’d long been on a journey to be more human, and then, very suddenly, they’re granted the most tragic part of it all?
Watching Seven of Nine lash out hurt because she couldn’t bear to be seen as imperfect. Isn’t that the crux of her issue? After taking up the mantle of Icheb’s mentor, she became self-conscious of how he perceived her, so much so that she fought hard against him seeing her as anything other than a perfect role model. That’s so heartbreaking to think about, y’all! She worried so much that Icheb would think less of her, despite that he clearly didn’t believe that at all.
But there’s another layer to this struggle. I had a lot of favorite moments in “Imperfection,” but Seven’s quiet scene with B’Elanna in Engineering towers over them all. I found it fascinating that the writers gave that moment to a character who has often had major disagreements with Seven in the past. Even though these two didn’t have the fluffiest history, B’Elanna understood the existential crisis that was imminent. Even if Seven had been liberated from the Borg, there were so many tendrils of that life still lodged within her. Obviously, there’s the physical component, and her human physiology will always be linked to her assimilation. But Borg consciousness, due to the nature of the collective, lives on long beyond the death of an individual drone.
Except Seven won’t get this. It’s not that the events of “Imperfection” are the first time that Seven has ever thought about death, but it comes off as so immediate. The urgency is all over this episode, and it adds to the intensity. Does that mean I ever thought Seven was going to die? No, but YOU BET YOUR ASS I THOUGHT ICHEB WAS GOING TO DIE. Oh my god, I was already fucked up by Seven’s journey, and then the writers had to go and add Icheb’s heartbreak and desperation on top of it all.
I admit that I like stories where characters do messy, improbable, and foolish things and then everyone has to deal with it. For the most part, the writers commit to the things that they have these characters do. In the case of Icheb, he escalates matters by basically performing a medical procedure on his own, which forces the Doctor’s hand. What comes of that? Well, a possible solution to Seven’s issues, but there’s another price to be paid: Icheb’s body has to deal with no cortical node at all. I imagine that we might see how that makes him less like a Borg, which is a fascinating idea all on its own. Seven, on the other hand, could never make that sort of transition, and she’s still limited by her Borg implants.
So where does that leave them? Through a strange and intense set of circumstances, these two are now closer than they’ve ever been. Janeway is gonna administrate Icheb’s Starfleet exams (!!!!), and Seven will be one of the people who helps mentor him become a member of Starfleet. Look, I’m sad that the other three ex-Borg children are gone, but I’m glad they kept Icheb around. I really hope we get another episode with him in it.
The video for “Imperfection” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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