The Cynics Corner

Star Trek: Voyager

"Dark Frontier"

by David E. Sluss

21 February 1999

 
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THE BOTTOM LINE
: It looks good, like a neatly wrapped package, but inside is a lump of coal, forged by inexcusable continuity gaffes, inept characterization, and unbelievable situations.

CYNICS CORNER RATING: 5.0 (F)

EUNUCH OF THE WEEK: The Borg Collective, whose demolition by Star Trek's writers is now complete. They now appear to be totally incompetent, and seem to function not much differently than all the other Star Trek "villain races," like, say, the Kazon. They have a sneering lead villain, namely the poorly-conceived and poorly-executed Borg Queen, and stooges stumbling around failing to accomplish anything and doing questionable things like turning on viewscreens with keypads. (Hello? Why would a collective mind, fully integrated into their ships' systems, need to do that?). One Borg cube decimated an entire fleet of Starships ten years ago. Now, one pissant shuttlecraft can enter Borg Headquarters, and escape? The Borg Queen has total control over the ship, modifying shields, weapons, etc., with a mere thought, but when Janeway shoots some dumb little circuit box, all the Queen can do is stand there gaping while Janeway and Seven are whisked away? I could go on and on...

ILL-DEFINED MOTIVE OF THE WEEK: The Queen tells Seven that the Collective planted Seven on Voyager, and that is the reason they went to the trouble to retrieve her, but this point is summarily dropped. So was Seven a plant or not? Is she still? Who knows?

ILL-DEFINED MOTIVE OF THE WEEK RUNNER-UP: The Queen discusses the planned assimilation of humanity with Seven (using a visual aid, a holographic human male wearing Jockeys!), and badmouths humans as a species; they have small brains, few redundant systems, tiny schlongs, etc. I have to wonder then: why does the Borg want to assimilate humanity at all, if they are such a lousy species? The Borg assimilate species to improve themselves; wouldn't assimilating a poor species make the Collective worse?

UNORIGINALITY OF THE WEEK: So the Borg plan to drop a time-delay virus on Earth and infect the population? I'm on a Crusade against that kind of plotting...

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION OF THE WEEK: I was afraid this was going to happen; Naomi has been Wesleyized. A three-year-old walks into the Captain's office and presents a detailed rescue plan for Seven of Nine, including the necessary sensor modifications? Please...

CRIMINAL OF THE WEEK: I nominate Captain Kathryn Janeway, who plotted a break-in and theft, gloating all the while about the planned caper, and then carried the plan out. How is that any different than all those Kazon attempts to steal technology from Voyager back in the "good old days?" Sure, the Borg are meanies, but that doesn't give Janeway the right to act like a pirate when she comes across a disabled Borg vessel. Tuvok and other crew members got a stern lecture from Janeway back in "Prime Factors" when they tried to buy technology illicitly. Who will now lecture Janeway about her outright thievery? And regardless of the legal or moral issues surrounding this caper, it was a stupid thing for Janeway to do. She should be evading the Borg, not drawing the Borg's attention to Voyager. After all, she walked her crew right into a trap, the Borg knowing all about her little plan, and only because Seven sacrificed herself did Voyager's crew avoid assimilation.

TEMPORAL ANOMALY OF THE WEEK: Not only was the quality of the Borg ruined, but their history was corrupted as well, thanks to sloppy retconning with regard to the Hansens. The Hansens, Starfleet scientists, left to go Borg-hunting in a Starfleet vessel, fully ten years before Starfleet's first contact with the Borg, armed with a perfectly accurate model of a Borg Cube, and run into a real Borg Cube, not in the Delta Quadrant, but right "in the neighborhood" of the Federation? Right. Even now, flocks of Trekkie Rationalizers are busy trying to explain that one away. But the sad truth is that a slight revision of the Hansons' story would have made this bullshit unnecessary. How about this, for instance: the Hansons were eccentric explorers, who left for unexplored space, fell into a (wormhole/conduit/anomaly), ended up in the Delta Quadrant, studied the Borg long enough to develop the crucial tech Voyager needed, and were assimilated. No muss, no fuss, and no screwing with established continuity. Instead, the writers piss all over The Next Generation by messing around with the Borg's timeline, making Picard and company look like idiots for being oblivious to the existence of the Borg.

EGGS IN ONE BASKET OF THE WEEK: Once again, Paris and The Doctor, the only medical personnel on the ship, are on the same shuttle mission together (c.f. "Gravity"). And here it's even worse; given what happened in "Drone" (i.e. the creation of a 29th Century Super Duper Borg), I'd think it would be best to try to keep The Doctor away from the Borg as much as possible.

CONTRIVANCE OF THE WEEK: I wasn't happy about the theft of the transwarp coil, but since Voyager got it, I was surprised to see that they managed to hold onto it and use it to gain ground. What I don't understand is why they couldn't replicate it before it broke down, so that they could keep travelling at transwarp all the way home.

QUESTION RESOLVED OF THE WEEK: I guess we now know that the Shower Curtain Men's Vinculum Virus ("Infinite Regress") didn't work, since the Borg are still alive and kicking. On the other hand, maybe the Borg's incompetence demonstrated in this episode is attributable to that...
 

Previous: "Bliss"
Next: "The Disease"
NEXT WEEK: "Lust in Space," with Garrett Wang as The Robot.

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This review is copyright 1999 David E. Sluss
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